his head again.

Since he had lived for so long in Zhongyuan, where man-made sceneries were a rare sight, he figured that his uneasiness in this environment was to be expected.
Wouldn't someone living in the mountains for decades feel this way after suddenly coming to a large city?

“Fuu…” Kang Jin-Ho quietly sucked in a deep breath.
The dense crowd passing by him on all sides continued to breach his territory, thereby getting on his nerves somewhat.
People of the modern era seemed to totally disregard the concept of personal space, judging from how they didn't care even after brushing past the shoulders of others around them.

'Am I the outlier here?'

Kang Jin-Ho had always felt like an outsider in Zhongyuan, but even after coming back home, it still felt like he was in the wrong place.
This indescribable awkwardness left a bitter taste in his mouth.

One of the kids shouted, “We're here!”

Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly followed his fellow students and entered the karaoke lounge.
Once they stepped inside the private booth, he felt the imaginary pressure on his shoulders lighten up.
He slumped deep into the soft cushions of the couch.

“Why does he look like he's about to conk out already?” Han Se-Yeon muttered, prompting other kids to chuckle.

Kang Jin-Ho paid them no mind, simply leaning against the couch and staring dazedly at the ceiling. 

'It's still not easy…'

Sponsored Content

Things were bound to improve gradually, but he still found it difficult nonetheless.
He knew that time would take care of everything, but the real question was if he could hold on until then.

One of the kids happily addressed his friends.
“Alright! Who wants to go first?”

Refreshments were brought into the booth, and the lights were turned off, signaling the start of the festivities.
The loud rumblings of the speakers as the kids sang tried to torture Kang Jin-Ho's hearing, but he thought that this much was bearable.
Every now and then, tone-deaf pig squeals would force him to frown deeply, but wasn't that part of the whole karaoke experience?

“Jin-Ho, are you going to sing?”

“In a bit,” said Kang Jin-Ho before following Lee Tae-Ho to the bathroom.
He strangely felt the urge to relieve himself even though nothing too stressful had happened so far.

As he was answering nature's call, Lee Tae-Ho called out to him cautiously.
“Hey, Jin-Ho?”


“Wanna smoke?” Lee Tae-Ho pulled out a cigarette from his pocket.

'Cigarette, is it…' 

Kang Jin-Ho’s eyes narrowed when he suddenly remembered that he used to smoke a bit back in his high school days, ostensibly for 'stress relief.’ Moreover, after the accident, smoking became even more important to him than having decent meals.
After all, he didn't have much of an avenue to vent his stress thanks to being a paraplegic back then.

Although it wasn't good for one's health…
It would be a lie to say that he wasn't interested.
What was so great about this thing that he had to smoke it so religiously in the past?

“Alright.” Kang Jin-Ho accepted the cigarette and lit it up.
And predictably…
“Cough! Cough! Ahhh-choo! Bleeergh?!”

“Hey, man, what the…
What's suddenly gotten into you?!”

“Bleeergh! Wuuuph!”

Lee Tae-Ho jumped back.

Kang Jin-Ho barely managed to collect himself in the end.
His bloodshot eyes glared straight at Lee Tae-Ho next.
“…You should quit smoking, Tae-Ho.”

“Have you gone crazy for real?”

“Urgh…” Kang Jin-Ho was about to discard the cigarette in pure disgust, but something made him take one last drag.
A lingering feeling, perhaps? He must have gotten used to it because it didn't taste so bad the second time.
However, it didn't take long for a dizzy spell to hit him.
“Why do I feel light-headed?”

“That's why we smoke this sh*t, right?”

“But, this isn't what I remember…”

“What do you mean?”

“Never mind.” Kang Jin-Ho stubbed the cigarette and quickly stepped outside the bathroom when the choking smoke became unbearable.
This experience failed to enlighten him on why his past self smoked this crap so much.

Lee Tae-Ho caught up to him and asked.
“What's wrong? Acting like that was your first cigarette and all…”

Sponsored Content

“Nothing much.
Just, you know.” Kang Jin-Ho smiled wryly and stepped back inside the private booth.
His schoolmates were in the middle of a sing-along.
The mic was currently commandeered by Han Se-Yeon, her choice of tune being a high-energy track by a popular idol.
Both boys and girls were dancing around the room, seemingly soaked in the atmosphere.

Kang Jin-Ho found this scene rather amusing to behold.
All of them had come here to have fun, yet something about this whole thing seemed a little unnatural and stiff.
Rather than these kids genuinely having fun…
How should he describe it? They were pretending to have fun?

'Are they trying to look good to her?'

The 'her' in this case was Han Se-Yeon, of course.
She was a bit of a celebrity in the school, so it shouldn't come as much of a surprise that many kids wanted to look good in front of her.
Besides, this sort of thing happened all the time wherever humans lived anyway.

A similar thing had also happened back in the Demon Cult, involving an expert named Mellow Demon.
Despite being a demonic art practitioner, he didn't know his place and held a deep fascination with art.
He hypnotized himself into believing that he was an excellent painter and would sometimes proudly exhibit his works to others, too.

Whenever that happened, the onlookers would trip over themselves to praise how wonderful his paintings were. As such, Mellow Demon's mistaken belief about his abilities as a painter was further solidified by their praises.
That was until Kang Jin-Ho saw one of his paintings and brazenly commented, “My foot can draw better than you.”

Today, something similar was unfolding in this karaoke lounge as well.

“Hey, you're better than an actual singer!”

“I heard you got scouted by an agency! They want you to become an idol, right?”

“You might be better than the Super Girls, Se-Yeon!”

Han Se-Yeon grinned softly as praises were heaped on her.
“Don't be absurd, guys.
You're making me blush!”

“We're being honest, though!”

Kang Jin-Ho couldn't help but smirk faintly.
Even a professional singer evaluated as trash was better than an amateur.
A pro idol was filtered from a huge pool of talented hopefuls via a stringent selection process, after all.

Sure, some pro idols weren't exactly up to snuff, but to say that Han Se-Yeon was better than them? Her own abilities weren't good enough for that kind of evaluation.

“Jin-Ho, you wanna have a go?” Han Se-Yeon, perhaps wanting to change the subject, called out to Kang Jin-Ho.

He nodded.
“Sure, why not.”

“Hurry up, will you? You haven't sung anything so far.”

“Alright. Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho opened the song list and browsed for that one song.
Eventually, he found the song that he used to hum whenever his loneliness had gotten the better of him.
“Can you start the…
Homecoming for me?”

“Let's see, what's the track number…?” Lee Tae-Ho found the track number and got it started on the karaoke machine.
The prelude commenced without any fanfare.
Kang Jin-Ho sucked in a deep breath, then held the mic close.

He began singing the first verse, only for the crowd to erupt in laughter.

“What is he doing?”

Kang Jin-Ho was somewhat off-key, and his rhythm was also strange.
However, for some reason…

They all forgot to laugh as the song continued.

点击屏幕以使用高级工具 提示:您可以使用左右键盘键在章节之间浏览。

You'll Also Like