Kang Jin-Ho nodded.
“Yes, please go ahead.”

Jo Gyu-Min didn ’t immediately say anything and just mouthed a fresh cigarette.
He didn ’t bother lighting it up, though, as he stared outside the window at the far-off distance.

Even if he was about to start an epic nagging session, Kang Jin-Ho was still willing to listen.
Just like how he would do the same with his family or friends.

Jo Gyu-Min was already a part of a small clique of people Kang Jin-Ho could meet up with without weighing the pros and cons of it.
If Kang Jin-Ho were asked to categorize people precious to him, then Jo Gyu-Min would be included in the category similar to ’friend.’ So, Kang Jin-Ho was prepared to listen to as much unpleasant scolding from Jo Gyu-Min.

After all, he knew that all these scoldings came from how much Jo Gyu-Min cared and worried about him.

Jo Gyu-Min finally broke the silence.
“I ’m not sure how you’ll receive what I ’m about to say, but…”


“Are you having fun, Mister Jin-Ho?”

Kang Jin-Ho ’s expression stiffened a little at that unexpected question.
“Having fun, you say…”

He knew he was supposed to reply with a no.
This issue didn ’t belong in the realm of ’enjoyment ’ but within the boundary of ’punishing those daring to distort and disturb his life,’ after all.
That was what he should be saying, but that reply turned out to be a lot harder to make than what Kang Jin-Ho had bargained for.

’…Does that mean I am having fun? ’

The fact that he couldn ’t outright say, “No, that ’s not true,” weighed uncomfortably heavy on Kang Jin-Ho ’s heart.

’Fine, I admit it.
I am enjoying this. ’

If he was being honest, Kang Jin-Ho did feel liberated while dealing with those martial artists.
The liberation one would feel after releasing everything they had been suppressing at once…
Having fun would certainly qualify as another way of describing that feeling.

Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
“In a way, yes.”

“That ’s disappointing to hear…” Jo Gyu-Min muttered in a genuinely-disappointed tone, then lit his cigarette.

Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t say anything to that.
Understandable, since who would readily accept someone telling them that he enjoyed harming and killing other human beings?

This wasn ’t something Kang Jin-Ho could beautify by saying, “that ’s how the world of martial artists operates.” When viewed from the outside, Kang Jin-Ho was no different from a psychopathic serial killer who derived pleasure from murdering other people.
No, wait.
He was different from a psychopath, wasn ’t he? Unlike those killers who were apparently apathetic, Kang Jin-Ho was literally having fun during the process, wasn ’t he?

A pleasure-seeking murderer…

That would be another name the modern era could give to Kang Jin-Ho.

Of course, Kang Jin-Ho had no thoughts of making excuses about how he couldn ’t help it and that he was forced into this position.
And he certainly didn ’t have any plans of stopping despite knowing he was in the wrong.

’I don ’t have any room to make excuses here, do I? ’

A person who knew they were wrong but was unable to stop themselves…
They could be labeled as a victim.
However, someone who knew they were in the wrong but didn ’t want to stop? They were simply villains.

In that sense, Kang Jin-Ho was another villain.
Jo Gyu-Min ’s disappointment dug deep into Kang Jin-Ho ’s conscience and painfully reminded him of that fact.

While Kang Jin-Ho pondered what to say next, Jo Gyu-Min started talking again.
However, what he said was completely out of Kang Jin-Ho ’s expectations.

“Mister Jin-Ho, how can you be having fun without me?”

“I ’m sorry?” Kang Jin-Ho immediately asked back.
What on Earth was Jo Gyu-Min even talking about?

”This might be just my opinion, but I have considered myself your partner in crime, Mister Jin-Ho.
Not someone who deals with some stuff in your life but someone you can openly discuss and share things, and even ask for advice in personal matters. ”

“I also see you in that light, Chief Jo.”

”Doesn ’t seem that way to me, though? ” Jo Gyu-Min turned his head and stared straight at Kang Jin-Ho.
”Mister Jin-Ho, you ask me for advice or my opinion on only the ’half ’ of the matters in your life, don ’t you? ”

Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t help but nod in agreement at Jo Gyu-Min ’s piercing, uncluttered eyes.

Jo Gyu-Min continued.
“I ’m well aware that your ’world ’ doesn ’t just consist of the one in the light, Mister Jin-Ho.
Besides, I already have half a foot in that world anyway.”

“That ’s true…”

“But now…
I can ’t help but feel disappointed and sad, knowing that you just left me out of the loop like that.”

Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t think of a suitable response right now.
He knew he would have to have this conversation with Jo Gyu-Min sooner or later, but he had never imagined that the discussion would take place in this manner.
He finally thought of something to say.
“Mister Gyu-Min, this world is—”

“It ’s not for an idiot like me to jump in? Is that what you want to say, Mister Jin-Ho?”


Jo Gyu-Min tapped his cigarette against the ashtray, then took another deep puff before releasing the gray smoke back into the air.

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”Chairman said something similar to me.
He said I should pull my half-in foot out of that world and stick to living in our world instead.
He even said I should pretend that the hidden world doesn ’t exist. ” A wry smirk floated up on Jo Gyu-Min ’s lips as he continued.
”Tell me, Mister Jin-Ho.
A husband goes out early at dawn every single day to work as a ride-share driver for some app, but his wife pretends to be none the wiser and doesn ’t pay him one iota of attention.
Do you think those two qualify as a married couple? ”

Kang Jin-Ho nearly fell out of his seat.
“M-married couple…?”

”Of course, I ’m not saying you and I are a married couple, Mister Jin-Ho.
What I ’m saying is that human relationships are similar in that aspect.
How can a relationship sustain itself when one party ignores one of the facets of the other party ’s life and cares only about the visible facet? ” Jo Gyu-Min asked, but because he wasn ’t expecting a reply in the first place, he immediately resumed from where he left off, ”I have no plans to be in such a superficial relationship with you, Mister Jin-Ho. ”

Kang Jin-Ho silently clenched his fists.
What an…
odd thing to hear.
Even stranger, Jo Gyu-Min ’s words managed to shake up Kang Jin-Ho ever so slightly, too.

“Chairman ’s warning could be right.
If an ordinary man like me dares to set foot in that world, even nine lives might not be enough for me.
I ’ve already seen that with my eyes, after all.
And yes, I know how dangerous that world is, too.
However, Mister Jin-Ho? Here ’s the thing.”


“Before I am an employee of the Jaegyeong Corporation, I ’m a person who supports you from the back, Mister Jin-Ho.
I might have gotten my start in Jaegyeong, but now…
If I were forced to choose between you and Jaegyeong, can you guess which one I ’ll ultimately pick?”

Kang Jin-Ho sighed deeply after sensing the resoluteness in Jo Gyu-Min ’s voice.
“I ’m guessing it ’s me?”

”Yes, you guessed correctly, Mister Jin-Ho. ” Resentment quickly filled up Jo Gyu-Min ’s expression.
”But now, the man I chose has left me out of the loop and decided to handle everything on his own.
And he ’s even having fun on top of that, too! So, it ’s not that strange for me to get angry and irritated about it, yes? ”

“My apologies,” Kang Jin-Ho sheepishly replied.

Why did it feel like his head was getting bitten off? And when was the last time he felt this way, too? It should have been the first time since Jo Gyu-Min scolded Kang Jin-Ho to the point of inducing bitter tears.

How strange…
Kang Jin-Ho was not a spring chicken anymore.
He figured he had become a lot more attuned to the world around him, so why was he still getting scolded like this?

Jo Gyu-Min wasn ’t finished, though.
”Allow me to be even franker since we ’re on the subject already.
If you ’re thinking of leaving me out, please do so ’completely.’ I do not wish to become a puppet.
If you ’re willing to let me tag along, I ’m prepared to risk my life.
However, if you still insist on making me haphazardly manage only half of your life…
Well, I can ’t do it. ”


“Please give me a proper answer, Mister Jin-Ho.”

Kang Jin-Ho could tell Jo Gyu-Min wasn ’t even half-joking right now from the fiercely-burning light in the latter ’s eyes.
Then again…
Even Kang Jin-Ho wouldn ’t be happy if he were in Jo Gyu-Min ’s shoes.

“I must warn you that…” Kang Jin-Ho quietly said, “Things will get dangerous.”

“I ’m well aware.”

”What I want to do could harm Jaegyeong, as well. ”

”I ’ll quit, then.
But you need to pay me my salary.
You ’re loaded, after all. ”

“And this matter isn ’t a continuous thing.
Our lives might suddenly revert back to those days when nothing much was happening.”

“I see.
Which means I ’ll get paid without doing anything, then? I ’ll be grateful.”

Kang Jin-Ho frowned and glared at Jo Gyu-Min.
“Are you sure about this?”

“Yes, I am,” Jo Gyu-Min replied without a shred of hesitation, then he started to elaborate and explain for himself, “Chairman Hwang lit a fire in me.
He told me that ordinary people like us should cover our eyes and block our ears even though we know the truth.
That would be beneficial in the long run, he said.
But no, I don ’t want to do that.
Even if I ’m going to die tomorrow, I ’d like to live in the truth first.”

”Even though the result of being a part of that truth won ’t be good for you? ”

”What are you saying, Mister Jin-Ho? ” Jo Gyu-Min smirked.
”The world I want to be a part of isn ’t the ’dangerous ’ one, but the world you breathe in, Mister Jin-Ho.
I merely want to breathe the same air as you.
Even if that air is a poison and will wreck my lungs in the process. ”


“I ’m a Jaegyeong man, Mister Jin-Ho.
And the command I received from Jaegyeong was to support and assist you.
How many years have I been doing that now? It ’s no longer about fulfilling that command, but I still commute to Jaegyeong because that ’s what you wish.”

Kang Jin-Ho contemplatively nodded in silence, so Jo Gyu-Min went for the final strike.
“You should take responsibility for transforming a person ’s life in this manner, Mister Jin-Ho.
And please don ’t tell me to cut my ties with you at this stage and go back to living an ordinary life.
I don ’t think anyone can survive the boredom of that life, you know.”

Jo Gyu-Min chuckled at the end of everything he wanted to say, prompting Kang Jin-Ho to laugh as well.
“Mister Gyu-Min, you might regret this later on.”

”I know that, and yet, I still want it, Mister Jin-Ho.
And that ’s what makes me a human. ”

“That oddly sounds about right…” Kang Jin-Ho muttered before staring deeply at Jo Gyu-Min.

This man might have said many reasons and spoken of his vision for the future, but Kang Jin-Ho didn ’t need to hear those things.
He already knew what Jo Gyu-Min truly wanted to say on this occasion anyway.

Jo Gyu-Min just ’liked ’ Kang Jin-Ho.
He didn ’t want to part ways, so he wanted to jump onto the other side.
The time they had spent together led to the formation of a deep friendship, and it had already grown more than a relationship bound with official business.

Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded again.
“Okay, understood.”

“You promise, Mister Jin-Ho?”

“I just don ’t need to hide anything from you from now on, yes?”

“Yes, well.
For now, that ’ll do.” Jo Gyu-Min grinned triumphantly and started the car again.

’Am I doing the right thing, though? ’

Jo Gyu-Min was fully aware of the risks.
Perhaps this conversation could go on to greatly alter his life in the future.

Even at his current trajectory, Jo Gyu-Min was on a path to success in life.
Despite his young age, he was already a chief secretary in a major corporation called Jaegyeong.
Not only was he earning around three times higher wages than his peers of similar age working for the same company, but his career path was also built on a firm foundation.

It was to the extent that some people even started gossiping that Hwang Jeong-Hu had earmarked Jo Gyu-Min as his possible successor! Of course, Jo Gyu-Min rolled on the floor laughing his butt off after hearing that rumor.
However, to outsiders with no insider knowledge of what had been going on, that was how shockingly impressive Jo Gyu-Min ’s career looked.

To put it simply, his life, his success, was already guaranteed even if he stayed on the course.

’But, so what? ’

What was so amazing about being successful in life? Turning a blind eye to the truth and chasing only after success wasn ’t Jo Gyu-Min ’s style.
Even if a knife were thrust into his throat tomorrow, he wanted to live a full, exciting life.

To Jo Gyu-Min, Kang Jin-Ho was vitality itself.
This young man had injected vivid colors into Jo Gyu-Min ’s monochrome.
As long as he could stick to Kang Jin-Ho, at the very least, he might get to live a life a hundred times more exciting than if he had turned a blind eye.

And that alone…
was enough.
What more could Jo Gyu-Min want when he could live an exciting life with the person he wanted to be with? Without being conscious of it, Jo Gyu-Min started humming while depressing the accelerator.

“Oh, by the way, Mister Jin-Ho? If I get fired by Jaegyeong later, you better hire me.”

Kang Jin-Ho cocked an eyebrow.
“But I have no need for a secretary.”

“Then, at least hire me to sweep the front of your father ’s cafe or something.”

“Mm. I ’ll think about that.” Kang Jin-Ho chuckled, then turned his gaze away from Jo Gyu-Min busy making silly jokes to stare at the stretching neon lights outside the car ’s window.

’What a strange feeling… ’

Lately, Kang Jin-Ho had been getting a feeling that some things were not going according to plan.
His urges were progressively getting more out of control, while doubts about holding himself back too much or not seeing the point of living a life this way continued to plague him.

But at this moment, at least, those doubts had vanished from his mind.

’Right, I wasn ’t wrong about them. ’

Kang Jin-Ho had acquired people who liked him and would gladly walk the bumpy roads with him.
So, compared to his life back in Zhongyuan when everyone had turned their backs on him during his final moments?

’Even if I die tomorrow, this life is undoubtedly a far more successful one. ’

Kang Jin-Ho couldn ’t stop the corners of his lips from curling up.
Just how long had it been? When was the last time a genuine smile from deep down his heart appeared on his face instead of a sneer or mocking smirk?

Kang Jin-Ho glanced at Jo Gyu-Min.
“Well, do look after me well, Mister Gyu-Min.”

“No need to even ask.” Jo Gyu-Min grinned back.

Kang Jin-Ho leaned against his seat and closed his eyes.
Even then, the corners of his lips were still curled up despite his best efforts to suppress them.

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