“Who are you?”
Jiyoon was a bit guarded as she asked the question. She had let her guard down, because she recognized the voice. However, a complete stranger was suddenly standing in front of her. This man knew her name too. As someone that had suffered under the attention from men, she flinched back like a baby deer.
“Who the fuck are you?”
The president and the other members of the club, who had been pursuing Jiyoon, gathered around her. A young and handsome man had spoken Jiyoon’s name. In their eyes, this man was their number one competition that they had to be vigilant against. Fortunately, it seemed Jiyoon didn’t know this man. This meant that this stranger was being rude by speaking her name. Above all else, all the men thought this was a great opportunity to gain points by protecting her. They were quite calculated in their thoughts.
The man watched as the club members formed a semicircle around her. There was no anger or wariness in his attitude. He looked apathetic as if he was watching a dog cross the street.
He was barely able to see Jiyoon through the wall of men as he spoke.
“We’ve met before. I am Shinhae’s father.”
He spoke in a bit of an outdated fashion. A man of his age usually didn’t talk like this. However, the thing that interested Jiyoon the most was the content of his words.
She asked the question before she could process it. She turned to look at Shinhae. Shinhae looked slightly troubled as she nodded. She once again looked at the man.
‘I can see a bit of a resemblance...’
She thought about the man she had seen before. He had been a shabby and poor middle aged man. However, she also remembered that the man had been quite handsome. She wondered if the act of switching out his shabby clothes for normal clothes could shave 10 years off his appearance.
Above all else, it was his eyes. Jiyoon believed this man was Shinhae’s father, because he wasn’t looking at her with interest or lust. His eyes were cold, and he was being a bit guarded towards her. In her memories, the only man that had looked at her with such eyes was Shinhae’s father.
“Jeez. You became so handsome that everyone is misunderstanding the situation.”
She heard a voice from a distance away. The words were spoken slowly and softly. However, there was a strength behind her voice, and it drew everyone’s attention to her.
Jiyoon looked at the director, who was coming towards her at a leisurely pace.
“The atmosphere here is not good. Why don’t we all calm down?”
“Y... yes. The children will be affected by it.”
The daycare teacher had been surprised by the sudden development. She hadn’t known what to do, but the director’s words had given her a direction. She spoke out in support of the director. It caused the men, who were half surrounding Sungyoon, to back off by a step. However, they weren’t looking at Sungyoon with kind eyes. It was as if Sungyoon was a fly that had landed on their food. Sungyoon knew why they were acting like this, but he had no desire to confront any of them.
“I heard my daughter is greatly indebted to you.”
Sungyoon slightly lowered his head towards Jiyoon. Jiyoon was taken aback, so she started waving.
“No. No way. She doesn’t owe me anything.”
Jiyoon didn’t think what she had done was remarkable at all, so she felt a bit awkward when Sungyoon thanked her.
“Are you really Shinhae’s father?”
Her doe-like eyes blinked as she looked Sungyoon up and down. She became startled when she realized that she was being rude.
“Ah. I... I’m sorry. You look really young.”
Her own actions had surprised her, and now she was apologizing. It was an entertaining sight.
“I awakened as a Connector not too long ago. I guess you could call it a side effect? Or is it a benefit? It’s something like that.”
Suddenly, their audiences stirred. The men, who had been giving Sungyoon the stink eye, became surprised. Jiyoon was also very surprised. However, the reaction greatly differed between the two parties. The men looked jealous since Sungyoon would be making a lot of money in the near future. But unlike the men, Jiyoon gave a heartfelt congratulations towards Sungyoon.
She spoke without an ounce of ulterior motive behind her words. Above all else, she was relieved that her little friend would be able to live a good life now.
“That is why you are here to pick up Shinhae.”
“Yes. I have the ability to raise my child now, so I have no need to put her in the orphanage's care.”
As he spoke these words, Sungyoon extended his hand towards Shinhae. A smile blossomed on his face. Sungyoon's expression greatly differed from the one he put on towards Jiyoon and other strangers. When Jiyoon saw this, she threw away all her suspicions. His expression epitomized a father’s love for his daughter.
Shinhae escaped Jiyoon’s arms, and she approached Sungyoon. However, Shinhae continued to steal glances at Sungyoon’s face. Even when she got close, her body language looked awkward.
“It seems Shinhae is unfamiliar with this version of me.”
Shinhae looked startled, yet she held tightly to his hand. Sungyoon stroked her head as he lamented.
Jiyoon couldn’t help but let out a bitter laugh. If her father suddenly came back younger one day, she would have a hard time getting used to it. Additionally, Shinhae was a young child. Sungyoon should consider it fortunate that Shinhae wasn’t crying, claiming he wasn’t her father.
“We should start getting back to work.”
The president had been pushed to the side like a bag of barley. When he saw Jiyoon speak in a friendly manner with another man, he spoke up. It seemed he felt threatened. In reality, Jiyoon and Sungyoon weren’t interested in each other. If they didn’t have a common medium called Shinhae, they wouldn’t have paid attention to each other. However, the president wasn’t aware of this fact.
“You are right. I have to see off our guest, so could you assign tasks to them?”
The director ordered the teacher, who stood next to her. There was something irresistible about her voice. No one could say no to her requests. The daycare teacher was like a fox that had the backing of a tiger. She began to take charge of the club members. However, Jiyoon was excluded from the work.
“Jiyoon is one of our club members...”
The club president had spoken up, so he could extract Jiyoon to his side. Unfortunately for him, he might be sent farther away from Jiyoon now.
“Ms. Jiyoon has to say goodbye to this child. I’ll send her back later.”
The director pointed towards Shinhae. When Shinhae heard this, she firmly grasped Jiyoon’s hand. The club president had to take the L, and he retreated.
After everyone dispersed, only four people were left. They were Sungyoon, Shinhae, Jiyoon and the director.
“You are still very popular.”
The director made a small joke at Jiyoon’s expense. Jiyoon couldn’t help but let out a bitter laughter.
However, she let go of all her negative emotions. She squatted down to get on Shinhae’s eye level. Then she gave Shinhae a tight hug.
“Please live happily with your father, Shinhae. Alright?”
Tears started to form in Shinhae’s eyes. They had to say goodbye, but Shinhae hugged harder when she felt Jiyoon’s warmth.
Sungyoon watched from the side.
They looked like mother and daughter parting from each other. Shinhae had already been hurt by her so-called mother. It was possible that Shinhae was feeling an emotion similar to being separated from one’s mother right now.
Sungyoon decided not to bother them, so he handed his name-card to the director.
“This is my card. I don’t know how things will turn out in the future, but I am a Connector. If you run into trouble, please contact me.”
“I won’t turn it down.”
If she wanted to run her orphanage well, she needed help from outside sources. Of course, she needed a thick skin. The director put on a benevolent smile as she took the card.
After some time had passed, Sungyoon saw that Shinhae was showing signs of calming down. He walked towards her. When Jiyoon saw Sungyoon, she stood up. Sungyoon did the same thing as he did with the director. He handed over his card to Jiyoon.
“I understand Ms. Jiyoon was really good to my Shinhae. If you need any help, please contact me.”
Jiyoon stared at the card, which was pushed towards her.
If it was anyone else, she wouldn’t have taken it. Ninety-nine percent of the males would have ulterior motives towards her. However...
Jiyoon raised her head to look at Sungyoon’s face. His face was emotionless. In some ways, she wondered how a person’s face could be so cold. His current face was congruent with the love he showed his daughter.
‘This person really isn’t interested in me.’
When she had this thought, she realized she was being an idiot by being so guarded against this man. She also didn’t want to be completely cut off from Shinhae like this.
After Jiyoon took the card, she took out her planner and pen from her bag. She ripped one page out, and she wrote something on it. Then she gave it to Shinhae.
“This is my contact information. If you are bored, you can call me.”
Shinhae’s red eyes stared at the paper given to her by Jiyoon. Then she nodded and tightly gripped the paper in her hand.
When everything was somewhat settled, Sungyoon grabbed Shinhae’s hand, and they started walking towards the front gate of the orphanage.
Sungyoon turned around before they left the facility. He could see the director and Jiyoon watching them from the front door. Sungyoon bowed towards them, and his body almost made a 90 degrees angle. These two women had done their best to look out for his daughter. He paid his respects to his benefactors. When the two women saw this, they returned the gesture. The director had a small smile on her face as she gave an elegant bow. Jiyoon was flustered, but she quickly lowered her head.
After Sungyoon gave his last respects, he left the orphanage with his daughter. He didn’t look back. On the other hand, Shinhae kept looking backward as she kept waving. The director and Jiyoon quietly smiled as they waved in return. This scene continued until Sungyoon and Shinhae completely disappeared from their sight.
* * *
As a Connector, Sungyoon’s days had started to get busy. Since he had to put his life on the line for his job, he had to go through many preparations.
He was working hard at a facility that gave basic training to Connectors.
A terrifying sound wave rang out. It was a sound formed when an ax split the empty air. If a person had been in the arc of the ax, a terrible tragedy would have occurred.
Sungyoon put down the ax as he tried to calm his breathing.
Of course, he was doing something useless as a Connector. His body didn’t need to breathe. He didn’t get tired from moving this much. The problem remained that Sungyoon felt like he should be tired. He breathed hard out of habit.
“You are getting used to it.”
A man had his arms crossed as he watched Sungyoon. The training instructor clapped as he approached Sungyoon.
“What should we work on next?”
The instructor took the ax from Sungyoon and walked towards the wall. All kinds of weapons were hung up on the wall.
“Have you handled a two-handed sword before?”
The training instructor took down a sword that was clearly larger than the other swords. After taking the sword from the instructor, Sungyoon swung it a couple of times. It felt awkward. But it was to be expected since it was his first time using this weapon.
“What do you think?”
The instructor rubbed his hand like an unscrupulous merchant who was about to sell Sungyoon a very expensive item.
“It is long.”
That was all the answer Sungyoon could give.
“It is long. That is the special characteristic of a two-handed sword. Well, should I teach you the basic movements of a two-handed sword?”
The instructor brought down a different two-handed sword as he took his stance.
“Mmm? What’s wrong?”
Sungyoon didn’t get into his stance. Sungyoon just stared at him, so the instructor tilted his head in confusion.
“Will this really benefit me?”
Sungyoon’s voice expressed the feeling of trepidation he felt. It seemed Sungyoon was suspicious of something.
“I have only one month to learn everything. Wouldn’t it be better if I studied one weapon?”
He was supposed to be trained in combat, but up until this point, he had only swung multiple weapons until he had gotten used to wielding them. When he got used to a weapon, the instructor moved on to the next weapon. Sungyoon had been doing this for two weeks now.
The instructor blinked. He let out a sigh as he got out of his stance.
“Didn’t they go over it at the front desk?”
“What are you talking about?”
It seemed his fellow employees had either forgotten or shirked their duties. The instructor cussed them out. However, he quickly pressed down on his anger and decided to show some professionalism.
“Mmm. I’m not good at explaining things to others. To be precise, I’m blunt. I tell it as it is, so I can’t package my words to make you feel better. Even if I offend you with my words, please excuse me.”
The instructor gave a short bow, then he continued to speak.
“I’ll put it all out there. Mr. Sungyoon is learning only the basics of wielding each weapon because your company is small.”Previous Chapter Next Chapter