Chapter 71

The Moon shone brilliantly in the darkness as it rose into the sky. It was the time of day when it made its presence known. Woosung got off from his fancy foreign car, but for some reason, he looked like death warmed over.

‘What should I do?’

He looked forward. He could see the single-family house where his mothers resided.

However, the building looked different right now. On his last visit, the house had looked peaceful and warm. But currently, it reminded him of a Demon King’s castle from a movie. He could imagine lightning erupting in the background and vampire bats flying around the castle.

Of course, Aiin and Hweeyoung’s house wouldn’t have gone through such a drastic image change since his last visit. It was his fear that made the house look different. 

He glanced at the front yard and spotted two cars that he hadn’t seen last time. It meant that everyone that needed to be here had already arrived.

‘I’m dead. I’m really really dead.’

Woosung had no choice. He firmed-up his resolve.

His feet didn't want to leave the ground, but he forced them to move as he went into the house.

He could smell something delicious and could hear the sound of laughter and voices talking. He slowly entered the living room.

“You are here, Woosung?”

He heard the husky voice of someone really drunk on alcohol, and his face clearly brightened. He had good reason to be scared, but this was the time to be happy.

“Ahjussi!”

It was Jun Insoo, the chief of the Support Division within the Office of Business and Administration for the Moon’s Labyrinth. He was the one who had recommended Sungyoon to Jimin. He was letting out a hearty laughter.

“My boy! You’ve become quite sturdy! I guess the only thing left for you is to marry someone.”

Insoo stood up and pounded Woosung’s shoulder. Woosung awkwardly laughed when Insoo talked about marriage. He discreetly looked at his mothers, who were sitting nearby.

“Here! Sit! Sit here.”

Insoo put his arms around his shoulders and led him towards a large table in the living room. Woosung was awkwardly pulled along like that.

“You should have a shot.”

Insoo put a soju cup in front of Woosung, who received it in a respectful manner with both hands. He took a shot alongside Insoo.

“Kyaa! I never expected the day to come when I’ll be able to share alcohol with you.”

Insoo’s eyes were full of emotion as he pounded Woosung’s back.

Woosung looked at his surroundings. A good amount of people had gathered around the large table. He saw his mothers Aiin and Hweeyoung. Then, there was a young man sitting next to them.

At a glance, he looked so calm that one might call him cold. His eyelashes were long, and he had a prominent nose. One could clearly tell that he was male, but some might call him pretty.

“It’s been a while.”

He spoke quietly, and Woosung nodded.

“It’s indeed been a while, hyung.”

His name was Hahn Woosang. He was Woosung’s hyung, and Jimin’s other younger brother. He was also a Connector. They both worked on the Moon, yet it was hard to see each other’s faces. They belonged to different parties, and they raided different labyrinths.

In truth, it had been almost two months since they had met face to face.

Quite some time had passed, but they were having a family gathering now. Since both Woosung and his hyung spent a lot of time on the Moon, it was rare for them to be on Earth on the same day. When it did happen, the family gathered to have a good time. Moreover, an old friend of Jungbum, the husband of Aiin and Hweeyoung, had also decided to come to the gathering. 

“We just need Jimin to arrive.”

Aiin spoke. She didn’t mean much by it as she threw it out the question, but it made Woosung flinch.

“It seems she’s running late. Hey, Woosung. You said you were going to contact Jimin, right? What did she say? Did she say she’ll be late because of work?”

Sweat appeared on Woosung’s forehead when he heard Hweeyoung’s question.

“N... noona said she won’t be able to make it today. She said she’s busy.”

He wasn’t lying. Jimin did say that to him. The problem remained that her voice had been full of frost when he had called her.

‘She’s not coming, because she doesn’t want to see me.’

Usually, she tried to attend these family gatherings at all costs. This was why he was sure that she didn’t want to see him.

“Jimin said that? That isn’t like her.”

Insoo was surprised. He knew how much Jimin treasured her family. However, urgent work could unexpectedly crop up, so he accepted the explanation. She was a career woman now, and moreover, he had introduced a Connector to her a couple of months ago. That might be why she was busy.

However, everyone else’s reaction was different. Aiin, Hweeyoung, and Woosang all looked at Woosung with suspicion in their eyes. Something had happened. They had lived in each other’s company for a very long time, so they didn't fail to catch his suspicious reaction.

“Did you cause some kind of an accident?”

Woosung flinched at his hyung's question. It was a bullseye, and he let out a sigh.

“You should confess before things get ugly.”

Woosang, Aiin, and even Hweeyoung were staring daggers at him. He had no choice. He haltingly spoke about what had happened at Jimin’s company.

Bam!

Woosang’s hand slapped the back of his brother's head. The blow was refreshing to the people who were watching it. Woosung held the back of his head with his hands.

“Ah! Hyung! Jeez!”

He looked aggrieved as he yelled out. However, no one felt sympathy for Woosung. In fact, Aiin added insult to injury.

“Woosang.”

“Yes, mother.”

“Hit him one more time.”

Bam!

Another satisfying slap rang out. Woosung looked like he wanted to cry as he groaned.

“It was a matter of time. I knew you would do something like this. I told you to be calm. You should be prudent before you act. Please be like your brother a little bit.”

“Ah, mom!”

“Mom? You are old now, so why are you still calling me mom?”

Woosung pouted when Aiin scolded him. However, there was a voice that took the side of Woosung.

“Woosung did wrong against Jimin, but aren’t you going too far by blaming his personality? What’s wrong with his personality? A person should be a bit excitable and energetic. It makes one human.”

Hweeyoung put her chin on her hand as she shot back. Then she turned to look at Woosung.

“I’d rather prefer him like this. I don’t want him to be always boring and stern.”

Woosung let out a sigh.

“What are you talking about? It is better to be reliable than to be immature like him. It is better to have some gravitas. Your son doesn’t cause accidents like an idiot.”

“Jeez. Really!”

Aiin came back with a retort. She once again scolded Woosung, so he again scratched the back of his head.

Insoo was a third party, and he just enjoyed the scene in front of him as he drank alcohol.

‘Their personalities are oddly similar.’

At a glance, one could tell that Hweeyoung and Woosung had a lively personality, while Aiin and Woosang had a quiet personality. It was easy to make these pairings to be mother and son. However, it was the exact opposite. The calm and reserved Woosang was the son born to the lively and active Hweeyoung, while the immature second son had been born to the quiet and reserved Aiin.

Since their personalities were the opposite of their birth sons, Hweeyoung and Aiin preferred each other’s son. This also held true for the children. They preferred their step-mother over their birth-mother.

They had lost Jungbum, who had been a pillar that had brought this family together. However, this odd dynamic was one of the reasons why the family hadn’t fallen apart. This was Insoo’s opinion.

Their personality difference caused arguments to form, but there was no malice when they bickered. Insoo drank soju by himself as he watched them.

“Why did you do it?”

Insoo put down his soju glass as he asked Woosung a question. The four of them instantly stopped fighting.

“What do you mean?”

“There must have been a reason why you acted that way towards Jimin.”

Woosung couldn’t speak immediately as he studied his family members. Then he carefully opened his mouth.

“It is obvious that noona is on a fool’s errand. She looked worn down, and I was hoping that she would find a good man and find her own happiness.”

“You tried to convince her, yet your words weren’t getting through to her at all. That is why you let your emotions get the better of you?”

Woosung became surprised.

“How did you know that?”

“It is obvious when I consider your personality, you dork.”

Woosung was simple, but he was also a kind person. Insoo chuckled as he tried to refill his cup. Woosung, who sat nearest to Insoo, quickly poured soju from the bottle.

“You really didn’t like her when you were young, yet you are trying to take care of your noona now.”

“I… I was young.”

Woosung’s cheeks turned a bit red as he gave protest. Woosang also turned his head away a little bit. It seemed that he didn’t feel comfortable talking about this topic.

“It is to be expected, especially in our childhood. Above all else, it was true that father favored noona above everyone.”

Woosung thought about the past. When he was at an age when he should have been receiving all the love and attention from his parents, Jungbum always took care of Jimin first. It was why when he had been young, he had hated her and actively tried to annoy her.

It was the same for Woosang.

“So, you no longer feel the same way?”

“Of course!”

Woosung nodded at Insoo’s words.

“I’ve grown up as much as I am capable of growing up, and now I understand why father was like that. Moreover, I understand what kind of person noona’s mother is like.”

The atmosphere instantly turned heavy. Every single one of their faces was dyed with deep displeasure.

‘Suh Ahjung.’

Insoo drained the soju into his mouth. She was someone he didn’t want to remember. He drained the alcohol as if he wanted to erase her from his memories.

“In hindsight….”

Woosang opened his mouth.

“She really seemed like the main antagonist from a drama. It almost makes me marvel at the fact that she is a real person.”

He had been shocked when he had seen that person for the first time. He still remembered it. There was one thought that ran through his young mind. 

He would never become like her.

“Well, it is said that reality sometimes exceeds fiction.”

Hweeyoung spoke up, and Aiin also let out a small sigh.

In the years past, along with Jungbum, the two of them had fought against Ahjung. Of course, they felt more bitter than the two brothers.

“In truth, one of my biggest regrets is the fact that I wasn’t able to stop him from going through with his first marriage.”

At the time, Insoo had been a normal youth with no experience. His friend had brought a woman that looked kind and pretty, and he would have never imagined that woman was human trash.

“Still, Jimin was born thanks to the union.”

“Yes. That child’s existence is a good enough reward for fighting against that damned woman.”

Hweeyoung and Aiin were trying to console Insoo. But, their thoughts were genuine.

“Still, Woosung drove a big nail through Jimin’s heart this time.”

Woosung had finally relaxed since he thought he was out of the crosshairs. He became surprised when the topic was turned back to him. Insoo, who had brought up the subject again, had a mischievous glint in his eyes. As expected, the glares of his other family members once again knifed into him. He wanted to cry.

He had made fun of Woosung long enough, so Insoo decided to take control of the situation.

“Well, don’t worry about it. Jimin said this would be her last.”

“What?”

Woosung and, of course, Woosang became surprised. On the other hand, Aiin and Hweeyoung had heard about this when they met her at the department store. They remained calm.

“In truth, I’m the one that introduced her current Connector to Jimin.”

“You did?”

Woosung’s eyes widened, and he felt a little bit betrayed.

“What should I have done? She kept lamenting and begging me for help. Jimin is like a daughter to me. If it is within my power, I’ll help her. I didn't do anything that’s illegal.”

“… we asked for something similar from you, yet you turned us down before...”

“Stinky males can do their own work.”

Insoo retorted in a cool manner when he heard Woosung’s complaint. 

“Also, I’m like this to my son and daughter, so don’t get it twisted.”

“Don’t worry. There is nothing to misunderstand.”

“You aren’t cute at all. Anyways, she told me that this will be her last attempt. She can no longer go on like this. I was surprised when she gave the Gold Gem to him, but it makes sense the more that I think about it. The Gold Gem is her last link to Jungbum. If it gets destroyed, she loses her last physical link to her father.”

Insoo was quite accurate in reading Jimin’s inner thoughts.

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