Chapter 188

Sungyoon lay in his bed mindlessly flipping through the channels by clicking on the remote control.

The facility at the standby location was better than expected. But the thought that he might come to enjoy the place only lasted a moment. Even if the body was comfortable, a person needed freedom. At that moment, Sungyoon felt the truth of it with every fiber of his being.

‘How long do I have left?’

The clock ticked every second, and he diligently watched every movement of the clock hands. His standby duty was supposed to take place from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM.

‘Thirty minutes more.’

Sungyoon forced his eyes away from the clock as he continued to flip through the channels with the remote control.

He didn't know how he had spent the remaining time, but Sungyoon barely said goodbye to everyone as he left in his car.

‘She should still be at the company building.’

These days, Jimin was very busy with the company work, so she would frequently take Shinhae to work, and they often stayed late at her company.

Jimin and Shinhae were still at the company building today, so Sungyoon drove his car toward his destination.

He arrived at the company building around 9:30 PM. He could see the light through the office window, so he went up to the office.

“Ah. You're here.”

Jimin was locking up the door. Sungyoon saw Jiyoon standing next to her while carrying Shinhae on her back. The little girl was soundly asleep.

“Shinhae is sleeping.”

“I see.”

He took hold of Shinhae. When her body was shaken in the exchange, Shinhae let out a little groan as she cracked her eyes open.

When she confirmed it was her dad’s face, a smile appeared on Shinhae's lips despite her sleepy expression. Naturally, she clung to Sungyoon, and she was once again asleep in Sungyoon’s arms.

‘If it were like before, I could've continued to stay with Shinhae when I’m staying on Earth...’

He really hated the monsters that had started appearing on Earth.

After locking the door to her company, Jimin checked several times to make sure the door was truly closed. Then, she turned around.

“Did you bring your car?”

“Yes.”

“Please take Shinhae home first. I have to drive Jiyoon to her home.”

“I’m fine. You don’t have to do that.”

Jiyoon tried to turn down the offer, but Jimin shook her head from side to side.

“You worked very late to help with the affairs of the company. Of course, I’ll take you home.”

Jimin spoke preemptively and cut off Jiyoon from turning down the offer.

She pressed the elevator button, and they waited for the elevator to come up. They all watched the display as the floor number changed.

Dding!

The door opened. Someone was already inside the elevator. Only a person that had business with their company would get off on this floor. They all took a step back, so the person could get out. However, Jiyoon didn’t take a step back.

“Dad.”

Jiyoon sounded flustered as she took a step forward.

“Did you just get off work, Jiyoon?”

Jiyoon's father got off the elevator and called out to her in a warm manner. He also caught sight of Sungyoon and Jimin. 

His gaze became fixed on Sungyoon.

“What brings you here, Dad?”

“You were late, so I came here to pick you up.”

Jiyoon's father then looked at Jimin.

“You are the president of Jungbum, Hahn Jimin? My name is Jung Inhoo. I'm Jiyoon’s father.”

“It's nice to meet you. I owe a lot to Jiyoon in many ways.”

The two of them bowed to each other. Then, Inhoo’s gaze landed on Sungyoon.

“How should I say this… It has been a while? I wonder if you remember me.”

“Of course.”

Sungyoon carefully adjusted Shinhae in his arm as he extended a hand forward.

“It has been a while, Mr. Jung Inhoo.”

Jimin and Jiyoon didn’t know what was going on, so they just blinked.

***

Cheeeeek!

They heard the sound of meat sizzling. Flames appeared between the red coals, and the meat turned golden brown.

Jiyoon picked up the tongs and flipped the meat before it burned. As she did so, she kept glancing at her side.

Sungyoon sat across from her, and her father sat next to her.

Surprisingly, it seemed the two of them knew each other. 

When Inhoo suggested having some alcohol together, Sungyoon didn’t push back too hard. He left Shinhae with Jimin and followed the father and daughter to a restaurant.

However, Jiyoon still didn’t know the exact relationship between the two men, so she opted for a wait and see approach.

Clink!

The clear soju glasses clinked against each other, and Sungyoon and Inhoo drained the soju in one go. 

“Kooo!”

Inhoo made a face and quickly popped a piece of meat into his mouth. Sungyoon also picked up a piece.

“How’s your business doing?”

Surprisingly, Sungyoon was the first one to speak. In most cases, he only spoke when others spoke to him first, unless the other one was Shinhae. This surprised Jiyoon.

“Well, I’m somehow managing to stay afloat.”

Unlike his words, Inhoo’s face was filled with exhaustion.

“It seems it isn’t going well.”

“If I’m being honest, it isn’t.”

Inhoo let out a sigh.

“After Mr. Sungyoon left the industry, Daesung Energy started to monopolize the market in a frightening manner. Most of the small energy companies have gone under, and my company is barely hanging on by a thread.”

Jiyoon kept stealing glances at Inhoo.

This was the first time her father had mentioned his business was struggling. She was very surprised.

Sungyoon and Inhoo had been peers in the same industry, so they had sometimes bumped into each other in the past. But this didn't mean they were close friends.

In short, they had been rivals in business. 

However, Sungyoon had left the industry. Of course, the nature of their relationship accordingly changed. It allowed their relationship to evolve into something else.

“A company of that size acquired bleeding-edge technology. Of course, that would happen.”

After agreeing with Inhoo, Sungyoon drained another cup of soju.

Their new technology was the one stolen from Sungyoon.

Daesung Energy.

It was one of the subsidiaries of the Daesung group. Jaeho was the president of Daesung Energy, and there was no love lost between Jaeho and Sungyoon. 

The moonstone refining business was part of the mainstream global energy sector now. It was a fierce arena of competition where large companies fought for market share. All these large companies had invested incredible sums of money into this industry.

In this fierce competition, some small companies had also survived. Sungyoon’s business had been one of them. His company had bleeding-edge technology that could compete with the large companies. On the other hand, Inhoo’s company was a bit behind in terms of technology, but he had personal connections to Connectors. He could purchase moonstones at a relatively discounted price. It helped Inhoo’s company survive.

“I believe my company can make ends meet. However, I can only forget about expanding my market share. Even the other large companies are feeling their margins tighten thanks to Daesung Energy’s rapid progress.”

Sungyoon had consciously avoided any news about the moonstone refining industry. He felt a bitter taste in his mouth when he heard about the current state of the moonstone refining industry.

If two people in his life hadn’t betrayed him, his company would be making rapid progress in taking up market share.

However, Sungyoon let go of such thoughts. He was a Connector now. His new life allowed him to spend a more fun life with Shinhae.

“I hope everything works out.”

Sungyoon had nothing more to say, and he didn’t want to think more on the subject. The moonstone refining industry was his past.

“Thank you.”

The two of them clinked cups once again.

They took turns pouring drinks and finished a couple of bottles. Sungyoon had the body of a Connector, so he was still fine. However, Inhoo was pretty drunk.

The alcohol gave Inhoo courage, and he could ask the question that he was curious about.

“This might be too forward of me, but what happened, Mr. Sungyoon?”

“What are you referring to?”

“I’m talking about your company.”

Sungyoon had become a Connector, then a hero. However, anyone that knew Sungyoon from his past wanted to ask the same question as Inhoo. 

“Everyone in our industry heard rumors about you, Mr. Sungyoon. The rumors were split into two. First one was that you were a fraud who used your close relationship with the president of Daesung Energy to enrich yourself, and things went wrong. The other one is that the president of Daesung Energy stabbed you in the back, and you're the injured party.”

“There is no way Mr. Sungyoon would defraud someone! He isn’t like that!”

Inhoo became surprised. He hadn’t even directed the question to her, yet Jiyoon had answered him. Moreover, the anger in her voice was evident. 

Jiyoon belatedly realized what she had done. She lowered her head and silently started grilling the meat.

‘No way. Is she...’

As Inhoo wondered how to react to Jiyoon’s outburst, Sungyoon answered.

“I've never defrauded him. However, I have no evidence to back up my statement.”

Sungyoon no longer spoke about it. Inhoo didn’t ask any questions either. He had become worried about something more important than learning the truth behind the rumors. 

The three of them continued to drink for a bit longer. Then they exited the restaurant.

Both parties called a driver rental service to drive them home. Inhoo watched as Sungyoon’s car drove away, then he turned to look at his daughter.

“I have a question I would like to ask you, Jiyoon...”

“It’s fine. Let’s just go home.”

Jiyoon was clearly avoiding the topic. Thankfully for her, the driver from the driver rental service pulled up with Inhoo’s car. This put an end to their conversation. However, the thoughts kept churning within Inhoo’s mind.

‘He is a divorced man with a daughter. There is also a large age gap, yet she fell for him?’

However, Sungyoon had become a Connector, so the age gap might not be an obstacle.

Inhoo had learned about Sungyoon being a Connector through TV. He had seen that Sungyoon looked younger, but in real life, Sungyoon looked even younger. This fact surprised Inhoo even more.

Moreover, the opinions about Connectors had changed to the positive when people saw Sungyoon fight against the monster on Earth. 

If he took all of that into consideration...

‘No. Am I taking this too far?’

Jiyoon was only twenty-one years old. He could see that she was infatuated with Sungyoon, but there was no way she was thinking about marriage.

‘I guess this is the curse of being a father.’

Inhoo made a decision at that moment to be hands-off. He decided to let Jiyoon make her own choices in life.

***

Sungyoon opened his eyes. He felt the sensation of a soft blanket over his body and the warmth that came along with it.

He pushed the blanket off his body and got up.

Shinhae had fallen asleep holding his pajama, so when he moved, she was tossed in the bed.

‘It is 7 AM.’

Sungyoon's night shift had started the previous day.

However, he didn’t mind it since he could sleep until the emergency siren rang. He didn’t have to be bored like in the day shift. He preferred the night shift over the day shift.

Moreover, Sungyoon had decided to bring Shinhae here since the bed was quite large.

After he equipped himself, Sungyoon woke up Shinhae. The little girl complained saying she didn’t want to get up, but he didn’t budge an inch. It would be time for her to go to her kindergarten soon.

Shinhae brushed her teeth, took a bath, and ate breakfast. She then wore a set of clean clothes, and the father and daughter exited the building.

“Please take care of her.”

“Please don’t worry.”

A man dressed in a clean suit replied to Sungyoon.

He was one of the drivers put on standby by the government. Connectors could use them as chauffeurs. They were here to support the Connectors, and at times, they drove children of the Connectors to their school or kindergarten. 

Sungyoon put Shinhae in the car.

“Have a nice day, Shinhae!”

“Yes! I’ll be back!”

Shinhae yelled out loudly through the open window. Sungyoon kept waving his hand until he could no longer see the car down the road.

He returned to the lobby. He still had thirty minutes left in his shift.

He once again had to kill time, so he decided to go to his room to watch some TV. 

At that moment, someone entered the lobby.

“Hello, Mr. Sungyoon!”

It was Jinsoo, his recent acquaintance. When Sungyoon's night shift had started, Jinsoo’s schedule had changed to the day shift.

“You're early, Mr. Jinsoo.”

“I give myself thirty minutes, so I don’t feel rushed when going to work. Also, you never know. I don’t want to be late when an emergency might occur at any moment.”

It was an excellent mindset. It was true for Dongin, Hyunwoo, and now Jinsoo. It seemed Fabion only had people with a good mindset. Sungyoon was impressed.

He wondered how could Soobin enter such a company.

“You still have some time left until your shift ends, right? If you don't' mind, we can talk...”

It happened at that moment.

Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhng!

A noisy siren started blaring within the office. The faces of Sungyoon and Jinsoo hardened in an instant. 

A monster had appeared.

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