Kang Jin-Ho rode Golden Elephant all the way to the Seongsim Orphanage.
He stopped in front of the building, then pulled out his phone.
The icon on the phone's screen urged him to pay attention to several unread messages.
You do know today's the university orientation, right?
=Hey? Are you ignoring me now?
=READ ME, will ya?!
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head while reading the messages.
Just how brazen could she become? He coolly ignored Han Se-Yeon's messages and then called Park Yu-Min.
After a short wait, the familiar voice answered the call.
I've arrived, so come on, let's go.”
I'll be right out.
Park Yu-Min soon emerged from the building with his limp.
“You arrived sooner than I thought, though?”
“Of course,” Kang Jin-Ho replied with a nod, then turned the bicycle around.
Park Yu-Min settled down on the 'backseat' of Kang Jin-Ho's bicycle, but his expression was rather cramped.
It was already painful to look at the top-of-the-line bicycle frame ruined by an ugly luggage rack.
So for him to be the luggage being carried on that rack? A heavy sense of guilt began gnawing on Park Yu-Min's conscience.
In addition, even though it had been a long time since he started riding on Kang Jin-Ho's bicycle, he still couldn't hide his nervousness.
“Jin-Ho, please take it easy and slow down, okay?”
Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head in slight confusion.
“I've always done that, though?”
“That's not funny!”
Kang Jin-Ho ignored Park Yu-Min's despairing cry and began pedaling.
And soon, the bicycle was flying down the road while cleaving past the air.
While pedaling, he glanced back at his passenger.
“What is it?”
“Don't you want to buy a car?”
Kang Jin-Ho's gaze shifted over to his friend's bum leg.
Park Yu-Min needed a lot more time and more energy to cover the same distance as able-bodied people.
Which meant he needed to set off well before everyone else.
Even worse, he had to endure the pitying gazes of passersby while walking to his destination.
Kang Jin-Ho knew very well what that felt like.
The humiliation and shame you felt in those moments could even kill you.
However, having a car could potentially alleviate Park Yu-Min's troubles to some degree.
“You passed the driver's license test, didn't you?”
Park Yu-Min nodded.
“In that case, having a car will make it easier for you to commute to university or travel to and fro from the dormitory and the tournament venues.”
“Nah, it's fine.”
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“I don't really need one right now.
Going to the team's dormitory isn't that hard since people come to fetch me.
And I have a feeling that getting a car will be too much of a stretch for me.”
“Hmm. The orphanage director owns a car, doesn't she?”
It's a bit old, but it still works.”
Kang Jin-Ho asked, “If you start driving, she will have a much easier time, wouldn't you agree?”
“Well, I guess…” Park Yu-Min faltered and couldn't finish his sentence.
“I have a spare car.
Do you want it?”
“Nah, I'm alright.”
“If I really need a car, let me buy it with my own money.
Things like cars aren't something friends can casually exchange, you know,” Park Yu-Min spoke in a cautious tone, but his resolve was still clearly visible on his face.
He doing his best not to hurt Kang Jin-Ho's feelings while clearly expressing his standing at the same time.
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled.
I forgot that you're a professional now.”
I earn a living, you know.
If I need a car, I can afford to buy one now.
It all depends on the installment plans, though.
My income is still a bit all over the place, you see.”
Kang Jin-Ho nodded, thinking that it shouldn't be long before Park Yu-Min started earning millions if he kept his momentum going.
He glanced back at his passenger and smirked.
“You sound confident about yourself.
Wanna have a match with me?”
“Eiii, no way.
I can never win against you, you know.”
“…Hahahaha!” Kang Jin-Ho could only laugh at that response.
That was because even he would have a tough time winning against Park Yu-Min in serious mode.
Even if Kang Jin-Ho was acknowledged as a hidden expert among the non-pro players, Park Yu-Min was born with specific talent in this field, after all.
Cultivation techniques could greatly enhance your brain processing time and hand movement speed.
You could even gain advantages like learning how to slow down and divide time.
However, it would still be difficult to overcome Park Yu-Min's inborn talent.
The best Kang Jin-Ho could do would be to eke out a draw.
But he wasn't displeased about it.
Even he couldn't be good at everything he touched, after all.
Humans were born with different talents.
Plenty of people walking on this Earth were many times smarter or better singers than Kang Jin-Ho could ever be.
In that case, wanting to win against everyone in every field was simply being unreasonable.
Being immature, even.
Park Yu-Min was born with a talent for playing certain types of video games.
If he was simply playing casually to kill some time, Kang Jin-Ho might eke out one or two victorious rounds.
But if Park Yu-Min got serious, then well…
He might not mention it to his friends, but even Park Yu-Min was proud of his skill level.
Then again, why wouldn't he be? Games had turned him into an object of envy and adulation, after all.
And he tasted victory for the first time in his life against those who used to make fun of him, courtesy of video games.
Despite his success, though, Park Yu-Min never let it get to his head.
He made it clear where he stood on the idea of getting a car as a gift and remained humble about the one thing he was so proud of, too.
Kang Jin-Ho was impressed by this side of Park Yu-Min.
This boy didn't put on a facade of humility or manufacture his politeness.
He was simply kind-hearted, that was all.
It was something Kang Jin-Ho wished to have.
Kang Jin-Ho looked slightly up at the sky.
The tournaments will soon start, won't they?”
The spring tournament is about to begin.”
“How's your preparation going?”
Park Yu-Min shrugged his shoulders.
“It's, you know, more or less fine.”
“You better win this tournament.”
“That's not as easy as it sounds, you know.”
“That's why I'm telling you to win,” Kang Jin-Ho spoke in an unyielding tone.
As if to emphasize that he wasn't kidding here.
Park Yu-Min saw that and his expression hardened.
Kang Jin-Ho spoke solemnly, “Become Korea's best.
No, become the world's number one.
Stand on the apex and then, look below you.
You will get a completely different feeling than whatever you've felt up until that moment.”
Park Yu-Min nodded with a determined look on his face.
I'll try my best.”
“And when you reach the top, I'll defeat you to become the world's best.”
“Hey, you! Do you really think I'm your prey or something?!”
Kang Jin-Ho smirked and pumped the pedal a little faster.
Park Yu-Min laughed while gripping the saddle tighter.
He wasn't sure how they had gotten so close, but regardless of how or what, he was grateful for his sometimes insensitive and taciturn friend.
…Except for one thing, of course.
“H-hey, please slow down!”
“But, I am going slowly, though?”
“Uwaaaah?! In front, a person! Loooook!”
“Calm down, will you?” Kang Jin-Ho softly tutted.
‘I'm the crazy one here for riding this dude's bicycle time and again!’
Park Yu-Min gripped the saddle even harder as tears began leaking out from the corners of his eyes.
‘Fine! I'll buy that dang car!’
An urgent urge to go on a shopping spree took over Park Yu-Min just then.
Hwang Jeong-Hu looked up from the report and spoke in a sharp voice, “Well, then.
I hope there have been no hiccups so far.”
Jo Gyu-Min replied confidently, “No, sir.
No hiccups have interrupted our preparations so far.
Then again, it's nothing more than Mr.
Jin-Ho enrolling in our university, sir.”
The chairman's eyes narrowed to slits.
“…That was a slip of my tongue.
My apologies, sir.”
“Do not ever let your guard down, Gyu-Min.”
“Yes, Chairman.” Jo Gyu-Min bowed slightly, then quietly studied Hwang Jeong-Hu.
The chairman was usually a broad-minded person.
Perhaps a little too broad-minded, even.
He would even boldly break off contracts with billions at stake or unhesitantly decide on the next course of action in situations that would have made other people falter.
He was big-hearted enough to not micro-manage once the direction of a project was decided.
And he was also benevolent enough to not unfairly blame a subordinate for their failure and give them another chance to redeem themselves.
But when it came to matters involving Kang Jin-Ho, Hwang Jeong-Hu would act like a totally different man.
It was like looking at a worrywart old-timer who impulsively had to check and re-check everything.
Never mind tapping on a stone bridge to confirm its sturdiness, he was basically performing maintenance work just to safely cross it.
The current discussion was a good example.
Kang Jin-Ho was simply entering a university, so what kind of 'preparation' was needed for that? It wasn’t like Jo Gyu-Min had to personally buy the textbooks and deliver them now, was it?
“It might be that I lack the insight to see this matter clearly, but…
Enrollment isn't a big enough deal to warrant this level of caution, is it not? I don't understand why you're so anxious about…”
“It's not a big deal, you say?” A trace of anger suddenly became visible on Hwang Jeong-Hu's expression.
Jo Gyu-Min quickly caught that and bowed his head deeply.
The chairman, with his face still filled with obvious disappointment, glared at his subordinate before explaining his thought process, “Universities are doorways to our society.
The difference between a university student and a high schooler isn't as simple as age or their knowledge levels, like how it'd be between a middle schooler and a high schooler.
No, after you join a university, you come to learn about the world at large.”
“Yes, that's true.”
“The preparation I'm telling you to make isn't about making Jin-Ho's campus life simpler and more fun.
No, it's about making sure that no annoying things happen to that young man.”
I understand now, sir,” Jo Gyu-Min replied.
He wasn't a moron, so he could see it now.
Besides, if he couldn't figure out what Hwang Jeong-Hu meant after telling him this much, he certainly didn't deserve his current position in the corporation.
Judging from Kang Jin-Ho's personality or behavioral patterns so far, the odds of trouble rearing its head were uncomfortably high.
Imagine if that trouble ballooned into something bigger—it'd become a massive headache for everyone involved.
Hwang Jeong-Hu continued with his explanation, “Jin-Ho is a scarily competent kid, so I'm sure he'll deal with things as he sees fit.
Sometimes, however, matters will get out of hand by doing things his way.
Gyu-Min, your job is to make sure such situations don't happen.
And even if they do happen, you will swiftly report them to me.
That will be at least 80% of your task.”
“You're dismissed, then.”
“Thank you, sir.
I’m off, then.” Jo Gyu-Min bowed, then exited the chairman's office.
Before walking to the elevator, though, he glanced back at the office's doorway, an uncertain look dominating his face.
Jo Gyu-Min understood what Chairman Hwang was telling him.
However, why couldn't he get rid of this feeling that this whole thing seemed a bit…
over the top? Could it be that Hwang Jeong-Hu was worried about something else?
Jo Gyu-Min just couldn't figure it out.
“Hmm…” Hwang Jeong-Hu walked up to the office window and lit up his cigarette.
'University, is it…'
He kept getting anxious about the future.
Others might view him as a needlessly worrisome old man, but he just couldn't relax knowing what kind of person Kang Jin-Ho was.
In his eyes, Kang Jin-Ho was a bomb—a gigantic bomb with its trigger mechanism removed but still capable of terrorizing others merely by its presence alone.
Anyone who knew what Kang Jin-Ho was would be as nervous as Hwang Jeong-Hu right now.
'…Even though I don't know much about him.'
Honestly speaking, Hwang Jeong-Hu didn't know much about Kang Jin-Ho.
Sure, he could confidently say that he knew better than anyone else about that youth's past and present.
However, that wasn't everything there to know about someone now, was there?
The knowledge of those things couldn't explain Kang Jin-Ho's duality.
It was also not enough to explain this bizarre feeling Hwang Jeong-Hu would sometimes get while talking to the youth.
It felt like they were two old men shooting the breeze.
There had to be something Hwang Jeong-Hu was unaware of.
And what he feared the most was Kang Jin-Ho's other side emerging into the open—that youth's potential for violence and evil! Such savagery would be unimaginable for a modern-day human being, yet Hwang Jeong-Hu had clearly sensed it from Kang Jin-Ho.
It had to be known that he had survived the Korean War, endured the military regime, and witnessed various acts of savagery while roaming countless overseas construction sites, leading him to believe that nothing could shock him anymore.
Yet, he still trembled from Kang Jin-Ho's coiled, ready-to-explode savagery.
What if that youth’s facet was unleashed in the open?
'It'll be a massacre…'
Hwang Jeong-Hu must ensure that such a thing would never happen.
After all, his future safety was directly related to Kang Jin-Ho's.
Even if that wasn't true, he didn't want to see his benefactor exposing his dark side out in the open, either.
Judging from how worried he was about Kang Jin-Ho’s life, he must have grown fond of that boy.
“This isn't like me at all,” Hwang Jeong-Hu muttered while faintly grinning.
He never expected himself to be so concerned about the welfare of someone not related to him by blood.
After all, he didn't even feel this way with his own children.
While still grinning faintly, Hwang Jeong-Hu took a deep puff of his cigarette, sensing this unexplainable ticklish feeling creeping up on him.
Something had changed in him.
It could be because he and Kang Jin-Ho were like two peas in a pod or maybe the near-death experience was the catalyst.
Whatever the case might be, he liked this feeling.
“However, I should still never forget…”
Indeed, he should never forget the simple fact that it was Kang Jin-Ho looking after Hwang Jeong-Hu, not the other way around.
It was easy to forget this crucial point since Kang Jin-Ho had lived such an unremarkable daily life so far.
On the other hand, Hwang Jeong-Hu would lose everything in a heartbeat if he let this cozy feeling upset the balance of their relationship.
The thing was, though; this nervousness and tension were giving Hwang Jeong-Hu joy.
He was actively enjoying this situation.
'It seems that the future will become even more interesting…'
Hwang Jeong-Hu's smile remained on his lips as he stubbed the cigarette out.
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