Kim Hannah went down to the hotel lobby to grab breakfast but came to a startled stop when she saw Seol Jihu already eating merrily.
A huge stack of plates was piled in front of him.
The man who was barely pretending to eat on the first day was now like a completely different person.
“Oh, hey. Wanna grab a seat?”
Just what happened?
Kim Hannah examined Seol Jihu closely before sitting in front of him at his beckoning.
“You look kinda tired today. Did you not sleep well?”
‘It’s all your fault, you bastard.’ Kim Hannah almost shouted as she sat down.
It was true that she had a rough night. That was because she had to think of new games to play all night because Seol Jihu scored first place in all categories yesterday.
“Oh yeah, there’s something I’m curious about.”
Kim Hannah tensed up. She had a feeling Seol Jihu was probably going to ask when the games would start today.
“Is there a specialist hospital in Korea like the one in Hawaii?”
Kim Hannah was taken aback as she recalled how Seol Jihu’s head was filled with nothing but thoughts of going back to Paradise.
“H-Huh? Yeah, there is… but why?”
“I guess there’s no way there wouldn’t be one.”
“Why? Do you want to form a contract with them? I know a good hospital in Seoul. I can put in a letter of recommendation if you want.”
“Yeah, that’d be great. I’ve actually been thinking about different things.”
Seol Jihu’s cheeks puffed out as he took a spoonful of scrambled eggs.
“I went to Hawaii’s specialist hospital last night… Master Jang told me that even people who prepare for their deaths often die. And he said the chances of death increase drastically the longer you’re active in that place.”
“Of course. Returning to Earth periodically and signing with a specialist hospital are the most basic of basic things. It might not be so important when you’re low-leveled, but the longer you stay there, the more preparations you have to make. You can’t just be content with the basic preparation.”
Seol Jihu agreed wholeheartedly.
Ian said he made quite a bit of effort to describe habits and gestures in his diary that only he knew about so that he could tell that he was the writer at a glance.
Working part-time like Phi Sora could be another method as well.
“I think I need to find my own method…”
In truth, he already had one prepared.
There was probably nothing else that would leave a strong impression of Earth in his mind.
Even now, the memories of his last visit home were vivid in his mind.
“Well, I’m not expecting to get full with just the first spoonful. I plan to do things step by step…”
“Do you want me to call them? I can set up an appointment right now.”
Kim Hannah was already tapping on her phone.
This wasn’t a chance that came by easily. She wanted to seal the deal while she had the opportunity.
“Why are you in such a rush? Just wait until we’re back. You sure we’re on a vacation?”
Seol Jihu chuckled.
“…Eh? Are you sure? I thought you were going to head to Paradise as soon as you went back to Korea.”
“It’s not like it’ll take that long. You said it was in Seoul, right? I’m sure we’ll only need a day or two.”
Kim Hannah’s jaw dropped.
“I was just asking. We’re here to have fun, right? Let’s focus on that for now.”
Kim Hannah shot up from her seat. Seol Jihu continued.
“Oh yeah, I can’t eat dinner tonight. I’m meeting someone. Master Jang is coming with me too. It’s going to be like that until the day we go back… What are you doing?”
“Aigoo, aigoo, my baby… you’re finally… aaah.”
Kim Hannah blinked. When she came to her senses, she found herself hugging Seol Jihu and patting his back.
“Oh yeah, we’re playing more games today, right?”
Seol Jihu pushed Kim Hannah back and gave a fishy smile. It was the type of smile that made people worry.
“You said it. That the first-place prize was a wish.”
“I know… but what wish are you trying to make?”
“Don’t worry about it. It’s something you can feasibly grant.”
“Huh? You’re going to make me do something?”
“Yep. What was that again? Jinah’s Dad?”
Seol Jihu smiled coldly.
“You dare counter by pranks? I will pay back this humiliation in full!”
Kim Hannah was dumbstruck.
“Ah, that’s because you—”
“Anyway, since it’s come to this, let’s really become Jinah’s Mom and Dad.”
“…You’re kidding, right?”
“No, you were actually just too pretty in those black sunglasses and monokini.”
Seol Jihu cackled as he put down his spoon.
He got up from his seat after stacking the plates he finished on top of one another.
Kim Hannah stammered.
“Y-You’re kidding, right?”
“Do I look like I’m kidding?”
Seol Jihu grinned before sauntering out of the cafe.
Kim Hannah sat in a daze before snapping out of it and turning around.
However, Seol Jihu was nowhere to be seen.
When she ran out to the terrace and looked down…
“Who wants to go to Ala Moana with me~”
“Me! I wanna go!”
“Eh? You, dear, are suggesting we go somewhere?”
“I plan to buy some gifts for my family.”
Kim Hannah could see Seol Jihu talking merrily with other members.
“Ah, okay. Anyone else going?”
“Miss Phi Sora, let’s just not have anyone accompany the two of us. It’ll be a cute date.”
“Huuuh? What are you on about all of a sudden? Are you interested in me?”
“Eii, don’t be so tactless. Isn’t it obvious that I want to tell you something privately?”
“Well, if it’s just that…”
“Alright, let’s go then. Hurry.”
“Ah, why are you taking my hand? You’re making this seem like a real date!”
Seol Jihu skipped off while tightly holding onto Phi Sora’s hand. Even when she protested, he shrugged it off, saying, “Didn’t I help you get first-place yesterday?”
Kim Hannah covered her face with her hands.
He could have been kidding, but he also didn’t seem to be.
Moreover, Seol Jihu was the type of guy who would do something once he set his mind to it.
Though he might have been just playing, it was obvious how he would bring up this wish in the future against her.
It was only then that Kim Hannah blamed herself for her carelessness.
‘I cannot let that happen…!’
Kim Hannah groaned while racking her brain. She had to think of a way to stop Seol Jihu from taking first place.
…But Kim Hannah’s wish did not come true.
She devised an underhanded scheme of holding games that took place in the afternoon once Seol Jihu and Jang Maldong left, but because everyone took turns taking first place, Seol Jihu who swept the first five games clean on the first day automatically took first place.
“Humans may devise plans, but it is the heavens that grant them!”
Kim Hannah looked up at the sky and lamented the irony of the situation.
“…What’s up with that person? Is she suddenly coming down with depression because her vacation is ending?”
Oh Rahee, who was drying her wet hair, tilted her head.
Eun Yuri, who was resting her chin on the back of her hand and sipping on a cocktail, shrugged indifferently.
The workshop came to an end.
Seol Jihu bid farewell to some members of the group and hopped on the plane ride back.
Despite being so reluctant to come, now he felt a tinge of regret while leaving.
It was because of Ian.
Seol Jihu talked with him without skipping a single day and made many memories with him, but he still felt it was lacking.
Of course, that didn’t mean he could just stay in Hawaii forever.
He promised Ian that he would come to visit again and bid farewell.
The plane ride back was quiet.
Most members promptly fell into a deep sleep, perhaps from the built-up fatigue from playing around so much.
Jang Maldong looked at Kim Hannah suspiciously as she sat in a daze with an expression of someone whose country had fallen.
He then turned his eyes to Seol Jihu. Most members were lying back with their seats reclined back, but only Seol Jihu was busy on his small seat table, drawing something on a piece of paper.
Jang Maldong sneaked a peek, his eyes lighting up in a flash.
Seol Jihu was making a calendar.
Only, it was a little strange to be considered Earth’s calendar.
A day didn’t have 24 hours but was separated into eight.
‘He’s making Paradise’s calendar!’
Jang Maldong instantly realized what it was.
A day on Earth was equivalent to three days in Paradise. Since the flow of time was different, the calendar was naturally different as well.
As hand-drawn calendars weren’t electronic equipment, they could be brought into Paradise. But for what reason was Seol Jihu suddenly making a calendar?
Seol Jihu turned his head, sensing Jang Maldong’s gaze.
“No, nothing. Keep going.”
Jang Maldong put on a blindfold with his seat leaned back halfway.
Seol Jihu tilted his head before looking back down at the paper.
Soon, Jang Maldong pulled the blindfold up slightly and stared at Seol Jihu, who was busy making his calendar.
An inaudible chuckle escaped his mouth.
After arriving at Incheon Airport, members of Area 1 promised to meet in Paradise and went back home.
When Seol Jihu went back to his apartment room, he unpacked his belongings and then took a break for the rest of the day.
The next day, he got Kim Hannah’s call and signed a contract with Korea’s specialist hospital.
The contract that he signed with Korea’s famous Soyoung Hospital was similar to an insurance plan. Though the signing fee and the monthly payments were several times more expensive than the loss premium, he was able to get a slight discount thanks to being a Soyoung University graduate.
After reading the details of the contract minutely, Seol Jihu signed it without hesitation.
After that, he didn’t go back to Paradise right away.
One day, he met with Seol Wooseok and gave the presents he bought in Hawaii, and on another day, he stopped by a shopping mall and bought gifts to take back to Paradise.
Of course, he didn’t forget to call his mother either.
“Yes, yes, I had fun. We played several games with a prize on the line, and I won, haha. Ah, did you like the gift?”
“No problem. Of course, I’ll call you often… Ah.”
“Sorry, but that might be a little difficult for the next few months. Something important is coming up… I just remembered it.”
“Well, it’s kind of like how you isolate yourself from the outside world when you’re studying for the SATs. There’s a secret project at the company. Phones, or electronics in general, are prohibited. I think it’s going to take a few months…”
“Yes, yes, it’s just to keep the project a secret. It’s nothing dangerous.”
“Thank you for your understanding. I’ll call you as soon as it ends.”
Once the call ended, Seol Jihu let out a deep sigh.
He felt sorry, but her disappointment would be too great if he said he would call and didn’t. It was better to tell the truth from the beginning.
Moreover, he planned to use ‘that’ once he returned to Paradise and finished Valhalla’s organizational reform, so there really was no other choice.
Because the moment he used it, he wouldn’t be able to go back to Earth or even Paradise for a while.
“With that, I think things are mostly done…”
Seol swiped through his phone before fixing his gaze on the screen.
He remembered someone he had forgotten about until now.
“Miss Yun Seora..”
Seol Jihu smacked his lips and thought with a smile, ‘Well, I guess I’ll make one more memory before going back.’
But there was no reply even when he sent her a text.
Yun Seora used to reply immediately in the past, so this was a bit of a surprise.
He tried calling her too, but she didn’t pick up.
‘Is she sulking? Or is she in Paradise?’
Perhaps it was just bad timing.
“I guess it can’t be helped.”
Seol Jihu plugged his phone into the charger and grabbed the shopping bags sitting in the center of the room.
He didn’t forget to grab his handmade calendar either.
Then, he took out a small piece of paper from his pocket and ripped it.
A white-haired old man was sitting in a dilapidated bookstore in Hawaii.
Although the TV was on, the old man’s eyes weren’t looking at the screen.
He was staring dazedly at the streets like he was waiting for someone.
However, the person he was waiting for did not show up.
In truth, he knew why.
A few days ago, the young man had already told him that he needed to go back.
Even though he knew this, he couldn’t help the sense of emptiness welling up in his heart.
A hint of loneliness flashed by the old man’s face.
Soon, when the sunset hue reached its densest color, the old man rubbed his nose and closed the notebook in his hand.
Perhaps because of his enervated expression, he looked at least ten years older than he did before.
Staggering up the ladder inside the old bookstore, he opened the door connected to the attic.
A rope in a hangman’s knot was tied to the ceiling of the dusty attic and a chair was placed right underneath it.
Ian was the one who personally prepared these things.
Though he spoke about reading his diary or writing a novel, there was a limit to doing those things. When a sense of emptiness like the one he just experienced struck him, he would go up in the attic and helplessly look at the rope and the chair.
At times, he was in conflict for hours and hours.
But the reason he held on until now was due to a lingering attachment.
If the contents of the diary were true, he wanted to meet the young man in question.
He wanted to meet him and tell him.
And this attachment disappeared a few days ago.
Ian slowly climbed on the chair.
He grabbed the rope that was right at his eye-level.
In the next moment…
The end of the rope dropped to the ground.
Ian had pulled on the rope and snapped it off from the ceiling.
The reason was simple.
A new attachment formed after the young man left.
Seol Jihu said that he would visit every now and then.
That he would help him go back to that place.
Apparently, a person who died in that place could revive once.
Of course, reviving someone wouldn’t be cheap, but Seol Jihu gave him a firm promise.
Except, with a condition.
[It can’t be right now. That place isn’t safe yet. If I revive you and you die again…]
[I can’t make any guarantees, but I promise. When the Queen is taken care of and peace returns to that place, I will take you back to that place.]
Ian smiled after remembering Seol Jihu’s words.
He would take him back to that place?
To be able to experience what he could only read about in his diary…
Just thinking about it made his heart pound in excitement.
Ian tore the rope into shreds and threw it in the trash, then proceeded to break the chair and throw it to the side.
After coming back down to the first floor, he sat in front of his table with a refreshed look.
“Let’s see… was this where I left off?”
Turning on the light and then putting on his reading glasses, he opened his notebook and wet his fountain pen with ink.
Then he looked back and forth between the notebook and the memo he took before continuing to write the next contents of his novel.
—You probably want to ask as well. What makes me special? Why did everyone sacrifice themselves for me? Am I even worth it?
—Then I will answer you. As everyone’s representative.
—It certainly is worth it to protect a Star that even the Queen fears.
—I… don’t regret it.
“Kyaa! Just how cool was I?”
Ian giggled as he moved his fountain pen left and right.
“It’s not good for an author to have overinflated ego… I need a friend who can review my work. Oh right, this friend, Dylan, was in the hospital!”
He murmured to himself and put the fountain pen at the tip of his chin.
“I’ll have to pay him a visit tomorrow. It’s pretty boring around here anyways. It’ll be nice to make a new friend!”
Ian hummed happily and continued to move his pen.Previous Chapter Next Chapter