Chapter 41

“Wake up, Shinhae. We have to go home.”

Sungyoon shook Shinhae’s body. However, Shinhae just groaned, and she didn’t show any signs of opening her eyes. Shinhae slapped his arm when he continued to shake her. Sungyoon got a strong sense that she hadn’t wanted to get up. She made her displeasure known. Sungyoon shook his head from side to side to show that it couldn’t be helped. He took Shinhae into his arms. Shinhae looked like a baby koala stuck to its mother.

He picked up his luggage with Shinhae clinging to him. He moved towards the driver seat. The driver seat window was all the way open, and he could see Jimin.

“Thank you, president.”

“It is nothing.”

Jimin spoke through the open window.

“You should get good rest for a week or so. You should go out with Shinhae too. I’ll contact you after that.”

“Understood.”

After Sungyoon gave a short reply, Jimin tried to close the window. Her business was done here. However, a voice stopped Jimin from saying her farewell.

“Where are you going, unni?”

Shinhae, who had her head buried in Sungyoon’s chest, slightly turned her head to speak. She was still half-asleep. Her eyes were half-closed, and she sounded sleepy. However, it was clear that she was looking towards Jimin.

“Unni has to go home now.”

Jimin spoke in a soft manner as she answered Shinhae’s question.

“You should sleep over.”

Shinhae extended a hand towards Jimin, but Jimin just shook her head from side to side. She thought it would be for the best if the father and daughter spent their time together alone.

“I'll sleep over next time. Ok?”

“Heeng!”

Shinhae looked like she was about to cry. Jimin unbuckled her seatbelt as she leaned out the window. She brushed Shinhae’s hair.

“Let’s do that next time. Unni will play with you.”

“It’s a promise.”

It was unknown as to where she had learned this, but Shinhae extended her pinky out towards her. Jimin laughed as if she had no choice. She extended her hand to make a pinky promise.

“Yes, I promise.”

Shinhae’s small pinky intertwined with Jimin’s slim pinky. They used their thumbs to seal the deal. Afterward, Jimin settled back into the car.

“Let’s sleep together next time, unni! Promise!”

Shinhae yelled out as the car window went up. Jimin let out a big laugh as she nodded.

Shinhae’s whining could be viewed as a bit annoying. However, Jimin didn’t feel that way at all. In fact, her mood improved.

‘She still wants me to come back to her house.’

She had become very close to Shinhae in the past couple of days. However, she was merely a stand-in for Sungyoon, who had gone to the Moon for work. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that she was obsolete now that he was back. However, Shinhae had complained when Jimin had tried to leave. That meant she had a place in Shinhae’s heart regardless of Sungyoon being present or not. It was definite proof.

Sungyoon held Shinhae in his arms, and Shinhae kept waving towards Jimin. Jimin gave a final goodbye before she drove home.

It wasn’t rush hour, so she was able to get home quickly. She parked the car in the garage, and she went into her home.

Click!

She turned on the light to the house. She had occasionally visited this place, but for the past two weeks, she had basically lived in Sungyoon’s house. This was why her house looked a bit foreign to her. Her house was clean, and nothing was out of place. Still, she had left this place unattended for the past couple of days, so a small layer of dust had accumulated on the floor.

‘I’ll eat first and clean later.’

Fortunately, she had washed her clothes when she washed Shinhae’s clothes. She didn’t have any unwashed laundry.

Her steps were heavy as she walked towards the refrigerator. When she opened the door, she found the refrigerator nearly empty. She only had a couple of bottles of water, eggs, and kimchi. She had some frozen food, but most of the refrigerator was occupied by cold air. Jimin closed the refrigerator.

‘I’ll order some food.’

After ordering some food on her phone, she sat on the large sofa. She turned on the tv, and a very generic drama appeared on the screen. She didn’t pay much attention to what was on as she flipped through the channels. She clicked past movies, variety shows, and news. However, none of the programs held her interest. In the end, she had to settle on watching a movie channel. It was the least boring thing airing. Her bored eyes were fixed on the tv.

She didn't plan on turning off her tv. Jimin’s house was large and luxurious. However, it was quiet. The large size of the house amplified the silence.

‘When I was with Shinhae, it wasn’t quiet like this.’

Shinhae was always bright and energetic. When she talked about her day in kindergarten, she spoke like a proud hero, who had come back from an adventure. However, this wasn’t Sungyoon’s house. She was at her own house. Shinhae wasn’t here.

Sungyoon’s house had been small and a bit run down. However, it was full of laughter and sound. Her large house felt empty.

* * *

Shinhae’s eyes shot open. She kicked her blanket off, and she got to her feet. She was still sleepy, so her eyelids felt heavy. However, she paid no attention to it.

“Wake up, Shinhae!”

It was, because she had heard her father’s voice from outside her room.

“I’m awake!”

She jumped down from her bed and ran to the kitchen. She hadn’t been able to see her father for a long time, and it was only a few days ago that she had finally been able to reunite with him. Shinhae ran up towards him as if he was going to run away somewhere. She stood next to his leg, and she firmly gripped his pant leg. 

“Did you sleep well?”

“Yes!”

“Wait a bit. We’ll eat.”

Sungyoon took out the side dishes from the refrigerator, and he placed them on the dining table. He had made rice in the morning, so he scooped up a heaping bowl of steaming rice. Shinhae was already sitting atop the dining chair. She swung her leg as she sang, ‘Rice~♬ Rice~♬’. 

When the table was set, Sungyoon sat in front of the dining table.

“Let’s eat.”

“Yes!”

Shinhae scooped up a lot of rice on her spoon and placed a piece of the side dish on top of the rice. She opened up her mouth wide as she put the food into her mouth.

Sungyoon had a warm expression on his face as he watched her eat. He had gone through many hardships within the labyrinth, yet all his stress from it melted away from watching Shinhae right now. Shinhae’s cheeks were stuffed like a chipmunk as she chewed her food.

“Here. You should eat this too.”

For breakfast, he had reheated one of the side dishes containing meat. He placed the piece of meat in her rice bowl. Shinhae scooped up the rice alongside the meat.

“Nyam!”

The food once again disappeared into the child’s mouth. Sungyoon placed another meat on top of Shinhae’s rice. Her mouth was full, yet Shinhae spoke.

“It is bad to be picky! I have to eat vegetables with meat!”

“Is that true?”

“Yes. It is true!”

Shinhae moved the meat to the side of her bowl. This time he placed spinach on top of her rice.

“Ah!”

She made an odd exclamation as if she realized something.

“What?”

“Teacher said I shouldn’t talk with my mouth full.”

Shinhae quickly put food in her mouth, and she placed both hands over her mouth. While she held that pose, she continued to chew her food. She was so cute that Sungyoon broke out in laughter.

* * *

When Sungyoon left for the Moon, Shinhae had to go out by herself to the bus stop. Her shoulders had always been slumped. There was a constant shadow present on her face. When Jimin started to take Shinhae to the bus station every morning, she didn’t hunch in on herself. The shadow present on her face went away. Currently, she was going to the bus stop with her father in hand. It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that she was walking tall and proud.

She continued to be that way even as she waited for the bus. Her disposition didn’t change when the teacher took her into the bus. She didn’t retract into herself as she waved her hand through the window. Of course, he matched her gesture. He waved back.

After a short amount of time, the bus left. Shinhae, who had been looking out through the window, was gone too.

‘Should I head back?’

Sungyoon had been a doting dad a moment ago, but his face turned blank. In some ways, his expression could be described as being cold. The ajummas around him kept glancing at Sungyoon’s face.

Sungyoon returned home. He had been in a hurry to send Shinhae off, so he had put off doing the daily chores. He washed the dishes, and then he cleaned the house. While he was at it, he did the laundry. Afterward, he drank a cup of coffee. He looked blankly into the empty air as he sat in a chair.

‘It is peaceful.’

If he was on the Moon, he would already be in his full armor. He would be moving through the labyrinth on full alert. Currently, he was slumped in his chair. He was slumped so far that it almost looked like he was lying on the chair.

‘It is comfortable.’

He took a sip of coffee. It was as if the fragrant smell of the coffee erased the smell of blood, which he had constantly smelled within the labyrinth. He only received 1.5 litres of water every day on the Moon, and he was now able to use water to his heart’s content. Instead of the tasteless vitamin packs and the cold food brought to him by Chelsea, he was able to eat hot and tasty food. When night came, he didn’t have to go into the small capsule where he didn’t even have a blanket. He was able to sleep on a soft and fluffy bed.

Earth was the home of humanity. It was the cradle of mankind. He had returned from a barren land called the Moon. He had suffered there, and Earth had welcomed him back with a very warm embrace. If he compared it to the hardships faced within the labyrinth, it wasn't too much of an exaggeration to say that he was in heaven right now.

Was this the fate of a Connector? Sungyoon gripped his chest.

‘I want to go to the Moon.’

It was really faint, but that thought started to appear within his head.

* * *

It was as if Sungyoon was given a reward for going to the Moon for two weeks. He was able to rest properly in his home. He only went outside to shop for groceries or for a walk. His trips only lasted an hour. He also gave the housekeeper a break. The ajumma had cleaned the house when Sungyoon was on the Moon, and she had made food for Shinhae.

However, Sungyoon wasn’t bored at all. He continued to play with Shinhae inside the house, so he didn’t have the chance to be bored.

It happened when he was one week into his break. Finally, Jimin contacted him. It meant the one week vacation, which wasn’t technically a vacation, had come to an end.

On the next day, Sungyoon headed towards the company. He was contracted under this company, but it didn’t feel that way. It was to be expected. He rarely visited the company’s office. He had spent most of his time killing monsters on the Moon.

Of course, he used public transportation to get around. He was in debt. Cars were a luxury for him.

He was still not familiar with the location of the office, so he took some wrong turns in getting to his destination. When he arrived in front of the familiar door of the company, he carefully opened it.

“Excuse me.”

There was no answer. Jimin was probably in her office again, so Sungyoon was about to enter into the company building.

“Get out of here right now!”

He heard a loud noise from the office. Sungyoon was a bit surprised as he turned his gaze towards the office.

‘That’s the president’s voice.’

From what he knew about Hahn Jimin, she was a cold woman. She rarely revealed her inner thoughts and emotions. However, Jimin was expressing her emotions right now. She was expressing negative emotions. It was surprising.

‘I don’t think she was talking to me.’

The shout had emanated as soon as he entered the building, so he was a bit suspicious. Maybe, it was directed at him. However, he soon realized that he was under a misunderstanding. He heard another voice speak.

“How dare you talk to me like that! Who taught you manners!”

It was a sharp voice filled with hysteria. When he heard the voice, he immediately frowned. The voice was so sharp that it hurt his eardrums. It wasn’t a pleasant voice. However, there was a fundamental problem beyond the shrillness of the voice.

He had heard this voice for the first time, but for some reason, it sounded familiar. The voice reminded him of his ex-wife Lee Miyun, who had terribly betrayed Shinhae and Sungyoon.

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