When he blinked his eyes rapidly, the blurry world became clearer.
The first thing he saw when his eyes came to focus were… breasts. Two fully-naked mounds— right in front of his eyes.
As for his nose….
Subconsciously smelling the scent of skin, Seol Jihu slowly and sluggishly moved his gaze upwards. And soon, Phi Sora entered his view, her face clearly wrangled with drowsiness and irritation.
“…There’s something I’m reaaaally dying to know.”
Perhaps because she was still drunk on sleep, Phi Sora spoke with a hoarse voice.
“You look like you’re shocked out of your mind, so why the hell do you keep smelling me for?”
It was then that Seol Jihu realized that he was taking deeper breaths than necessary. The thought, ‘Because I like the smell of roses’, crossed his mind for a second.
Seol Jihu screamed and shot up so hard that he fell backwards.
Phi Sora clicked her tongue as she watched Seol Jihu flail his arms and slip away from the bed.
Thud. When the back of his head hit the floor, he snapped out of his daze. He shot up in a flustered state and reflexively touched his body.
Why was he in his underwear?
His pupils began to tremble. Seol Jihu placed his hand on his chest and took a deep breath.
Calm down. Calm down.
After inwardly muttering to himself several times, he spoke up.
He sounded as though he’d been wronged.
Phi Sora, who was stretching her left arm and covering her yawning mouth with her right hand, looked as if she was struck dumb.
“From the beginning to the end. Everything.”
“Oh, sure. You blacked out in the middle of drinking soju, suddenly started crying, then vomited all over me while I was carrying you.”
“What a joke! If you’re weak to alcohol, you should have drunk in moderation. You puked out everything you ate on me, you know? Pork belly, soybean paste stew, rice, naengmyeon… ugh!”
Phi Sora shuddered, as if just thinking about it infuriated and disgusted her. Meanwhile, Seol Jihu looked around the room dazedly.
He could see several clothes neatly hanging on a nearby hanger.
“I dragged your ass to a motel and cleaned your clothes and hung them up. Shouldn’t you be thanking me? Do you have any idea how many times I wanted to just chuck you down on the ground and leave?”
As Seol Jihu had no memory of any of this, he was simply dumbstruck by Phi Sora’s recount of the previous evening.
“Still… sleeping on the same bed is….”
“Oh, shut up!”
Phi Sora shouted angrily.
“Don’t you have any conscience?”
“You think I slept on the same bed because I wanted to? I wanted to sleep separately, you know!”
Seol Jihu tilted his head in confusion as Phi Sora was talking like this wasn’t her fault.
“I was nice enough to give you the bed, yet you kept climbing down and clinging onto me. So I thought, ‘Ah, he must like sleeping on the floor’, and switched spots, but then you kept crawling up and clinging onto me there as well. So then I wrapped myself up in the blanket and went to the couch to try to get some sleep, but you even chased me there and clung onto me.”
“And, excuse me, but are you a newborn baby? Why do you keep shoving your face into my breasts? Did you not get any love growing up? Or did you get possessed by some titty-loving ghost? Jesus!!”
Papapapa! While Phi Sora spat out everything she’d suffered last night, Seol Jihu scratched his head.
“Well… I am a middle child, and have an older and a younger sibling… so I didn’t get as much attention and love growing up….”
“Ooooh, I see… my bad, I didn’t know that… NOT! What does that have to do with anything??”
Phi Sora shot back with fire in her eyes. Seol Jihu let out a dry cough.
“Kuhum, I don’t remember well.”
“I knew you would say that. Wait right there.”
Phi Sora quickly took out her phone and threw it over. A video was being played on the screen.
—God! Will you get off of me?
—Fucking hell, did you go mad? Hey, I know you’re not sleeping. Open your eyes while I’m still being nice.
—God, I’m gonna go crazy!!
Staring into the screen speechlessly, Seol Jihu suddenly grabbed the phone. After silently pressing the delete button, he slipped the phone to Phi Sora, who was looking down at him with crossed arms.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“Where the heck did this guy come from!?”
An angry voice struck Seol Jihu’s ears. He coughed meaninglessly again.
“Anyways, you’re saying nothing happened?”
Phi Sora’s expression turned odd at Seol Jihu’s relieved voice.
“Why, you thought I devoured you or something?”
“You don’t have to put it that way….”
“It’s the opposite. You’re the one who devoured me.”
Seol Jihu jumped in a startle.
“I mean~ You kept making advances~ You’re fit and pretty good looking, and it’s been a while since I’ve gotten drunk, so I got a little excited~”
Phi Sora muttered as she twirled the ends of her hair. Seol Jihu’s jaw dropped.
“By the way, dear, your stamina is surprisingly good. You were like a beast. Auu, my stomach still hurts from all the pounding….”
Phi Sora mumbled as she rubbed her lower belly, then burst out laughing when she saw Seol Jihu’s face.
“Aah! Your face! Priceless!”
She giggled, then kicked the blanket off.
“See, you react like someone who has a girlfriend.”
After hopping off the bed, she stretched her arms out, not knowing any shame.
“Awoooo~ Okay, I’m going to wash up first. Let’s go get some hangover soup.”
“…You were really kidding, right?”
After smiling with her eyes, Phi Sora walked into the bathroom, muttering, “Ah~ Why is my body so sore~?”
Only when the pitter-patter of the shower water rang out did Seol Jihu realize he had been played.
While eating dried pollack soup, Phi Sora suddenly cupped her mouth.
Seol Jihu asked in surprise while in the middle of drinking some soup.
“…I don’t know.”
Phi Sora lowered her hand, then tilted her head.
“I suddenly feel nauseous… is it morning sickness? Guess I’m not surprised…”
When Seol Jihu glared at her, Phi Sora smacked the table and giggled.
“What, I’m not allowed to have morning sickness?”
“Is making fun of people funny?”
“Yes, it is. It makes me feel a thousand times better.”
Seol Jihu seemed quite vexed at Phi Sora’s mischievous smile. Well, he didn’t just seem vexed. He was vexed.
He understood how difficult he made things for Phi Sora last night, but she was having too much fun or perhaps even venting.
You dare to pull a prank on someone whose official nickname is Prankster?
I’ll show you what a true prank is in a bit—
Seol Jihu vowed to himself as he finished the dried pollack soup.
After the meal, Phi Sora stuck her phone out.
“Give me your number.”
“My number? Why?”
“Well, you’ll be my employer for the next few months. I should at least know your number.”
“My number… what was it again?”
When Seol Jihu hesitated, Phi Sora’s brows perked up instantly. But Seol Jihu really didn’t remember his number. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to give it to her.
When he racked his brain for the numbers and put it in, Phi Sora snatched the phone back commenting on how he was playing hard to get.
“How long will you stay here before going back?”
“About a week.”
“That’s earlier than I thought. Alright, give me a call before you go back. I’ll text you, so you better reply.”
Phi Sora said what she wanted to, then turned back while waving her hand. Seol Jihu, who was staring at her back as she left…
…widened his eyes as he realized he had gotten far calmer than before.
When he tilted his head up, covering his face from the sunlight with the back of his hand, he saw a clear sky without a single cloud.
Why was it? He didn’t feel so bad.
All he did was bicker with Phi Sora, eat, and wake up, but the unbearable sense of loneliness had almost vanished.
He felt like his empty chest had been filled with something.
‘Well, now that things turned out like this, should I make some preparations before going back?’
Seol Jihu turned in a cheerful tune.
‘I have a new friend now too.’
Although he did not realize this himself, he was even humming joyfully from his nose. His footsteps as he left the alleyway were much lighter than yesterday.
Seol Jihu looked around his room as soon as he came back. His phone was lying around in the corner.
After plugging it into the charger and pressing the home button, he was a bit taken aback. He expected it to be empty, but…
[Did you get back safely? This is Phi Sora.]
Starting from the most recent message from Phi Sora, he had quite a backlog of unseen messages.
[Oppa, I heard you woke up. Are you feeling better?]
[It’s me. I heard you went back to Earth. Call me when you can.]
[This call was received from…]
Yun Seora, Kim Hannah, Goalkeeper, and…
Scrolling down the list, he saw a certain number and paused. It was a message from his family, one that had arrived quite a long time ago.
There were four calls in total, with each call being a few days apart from the next.
Checking them one by one, a strange feeling overcame Seol Jihu. He was shocked at how calm he was, given that he had waited so long for his family to contact him.
It wasn’t as if he didn’t feel sorry or grateful, but he was not trembling from nervousness and fear either. He did not even feel any excitement or hope.
He just felt… calm.
If he had to put this feeling into words, it would be something like, ‘It’s finally here?’
He had made great strides compared to the past when he was too afraid to even check his phone and tossed it to the corner of the room.
‘I guess settling the problem of my background is important too.’
Only now did he have this thought. Seol Jihu stared at the message for a long time before finally clicking the home button again.
He then found a name from his list of contacts and pressed the call button. The receiver picked up the call before the dial beeped.
Seol Jihu cleared his throat, then opened his mouth.
“Yeah, Mom, it’s me.”
Clunk, clunk, clunk, clunk!
The front door shook loudly. Seol Jihu who was in the middle of eating jajangmyeon shouted, “It’s open!”, and a ponytailed woman carrying two small boxes stormed into the room.
Throwing off her high-heels with a kick, she stomped forward and threw a box at Seol Jihu.
Thwack. Seol Jihu drew a blank as the box struck his head.
“Why’d you hit me?”
Thwack. This time, he was hit by the other box.
When he looked up, he saw Kim Hannah looking down at him with a chilly gaze.
“Do you wanna die? How dare you call a maiden, who hasn’t even married, that.”
Rubbing his head, Seol Jihu suddenly sniffed. A savory smell wafted out from a greasy box. It had to be fried chicken.
“Wow, you bought me this?”
Rejoicing, Seol Jihu ignored the box labeled ‘porridge’ and grabbed the other small box.
Kim Hannah spat out unhappily.
“…Why don’t you eat the porridge first?”
“I don’t wanna.”
After showing her the empty bowl of jajangmyeon, he shook his head and opened the box of fried chicken.
“I’ve been having nothing but porridge day in and day out. I’m sick and tired of it now.”
“Can you at least think about the person who went out of her way to buy it for you and try it out?”
“No, just seeing it makes me wanna throw up.”
“…Damn it, then I bought it for nothing.”
Kim Hannah grumbled briefly before looking around the room and widening her eyes.
It looked like he ordered from a Chinese restaurant, but there was a surprising number of empty bowls stacked on top of each other.
Two bowls of jajangmyeon, two bowls of jjamppong, two bowls of fried rice, one bowl of sweet-and-sour pork…
Kim Hannah counted the bowls one by one with a frightened look on her face. Seeing Seol Jihu take a bite out of the chicken, she was even more shocked.
“Hey… did you eat all of this by yourself?”
“Hm? Oh, yeah.”
“The hell… And your stomach can handle it?”
“My stomach’s totally fine.”
Seol Jihu showed off taking a bite out of the chicken, and Kim Hannah gasped.
“What… but you’re not even the Executor of Gluttony…. This is too strange. That goddess, did she already mark you?”
Unsure what Kim Hannah was talking about, Seol Jihu just continued to nibble on chicken.
Seeing the youth devote his attention to eating, Kim Hannah sighed and sat down next to him. She was worried that he might have developed some sort of post-war trauma…
But judging by the way he was munching on the chicken leg, it was hard to think this was the same person who returned alive from that terrifying war.
“You look better than I thought.”
“I thought you’d be lazing around like a shut-in.”
Seol Jihu laughed as he continued eating. What Kim Hannah was describing almost came true, but he had an unexpected change of pace. Because of it, his appetite had returned as well.
“Ah, what about the thing I asked you about?”
“I brought it, but….”
Kim Hannah glanced at her handbag.
“What’s gotten into you?”
“What do you mean?”
“You said you’d do this on your own. Remember last time? You slammed the door on me after I told you to do something.”
“No, I said I’d continue receiving your help.”
Kim Hannah smiled bitterly at Seol Jihu’s words. They weren’t quite on the same page. From Kim Hannah’s perspective, Seol Jihu was a hard-to-figure-out person.
For one, he would shine brilliantly in Paradise but suddenly become weird when he returned to Earth. He was especially clueless when it came to his relationship with his family. She had seen him dig a hole for himself on more than one occasion.
That was why she told him she would take care of his family relationship as his guardian, but Seol Jihu had suddenly requested to cancel this arrangement.
He said he would take care of it on his own, and that she only needed to provide him the necessary information.
Kim Hannah was half in doubt when she heard him request the information calmly, but now…
‘He changed again.’
She felt like he changed a bit when the Banquet ended, but after the war this time, the change was clearer.
If there were two Seol Jihus, one in Paradise and one on Earth, it was almost as if the Seol Jihu in Paradise was overwriting the Seol Jihu on Earth.
She wasn’t sure whether this was a good thing or a bad thing… but if his talent as Paradise’s problem-solver could be carried over to Earth, then she had a strong feeling that a way out would be found in his troubling family relationship.
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