Descent of the Demon Master
Hwang Jeong-Hu narrowed his eyes.
“Stomach cancer, you say?”
“Yes, sir.” Jo Gyu-Min nodded.
He was currently in the chairman's office to fulfill one of his duties: report on the matters related to Kang Jin-Ho to Hwang Jeong-Hu.
“Hmm. Transferring the orphanage's director to the VIP hospital room, is it…
And he's picking up the bill, too?”
“Yes, that's correct.”
“Hmm…” Hwang Jeong-Hu's frown deepened as if he was getting a migraine.
Jo Gyu-Min couldn't help but shrink back in nervousness when his innocuous-sounding report was met with such seriousness by his boss.
Eventually, Hwang Jeong-Hu shifted his gaze back to his subordinate.
“And what's the prognosis of the patient?”
“It's not good, sir…”
“Hmm…” Hwang Jeong-Hu quietly groaned again.
“Gyu-Min, keep a close eye on this.
Alert me immediately if the patient's condition worsens.”
“Understood, sir.” Jo Gyu-Min bowed his head.
After the report was finished, Jo Gyu-Min turned around to exit the office.
However, his curiosity got the better of him, and he ended up raising his voice.
“Mm? What is it?”
“Is this matter something to be concerned about, sir?”
“Hmm. Well…” Hwang Jeong-Hu rubbed his chin, but he didn't say anything else.
Jo Gyu-Min decided to speak what was on his mind.
That nun, Sister Yi, is the orphanage director who looked after Park Yu-Min, Mister Jin-Ho's friend.
As she's someone he's acquainted with personally, I'm not surprised he's willing to do this for her.
A VIP room isn't cheap, but Mister Jin-Ho has enough financial muscle to not care about the cost, sir.”
“But sir, you don't seem to view this situation in a favorable light, and I can't help but wonder why.” Jo Gyu-Min unhesitantly stated his observation, even though he wouldn't have dared to be so bold in front of Hwang Jeong-Hu in the past.
However, working as the eyes and ears of Hwang Jeong-Hu for the past few years allowed the two of them to grow close enough for this kind of conversation to take place.
Hwang Jeong-Hu's expression remained stiff as he replied, “Gyu-Min, that's why this might be a problem.”
“Tell me, have you ever seen Jin-Ho being friendly to someone before?”
“Jin-Ho has always been utterly indifferent to everyone else.
Other than his family members and Park Yu-Min, obviously.”
Jo Gyu-Min nodded in agreement.
He had been staying near Kang Jin-Ho for a number of years now, and during that period, how many times did Kang Jin-Ho seek out Jo Gyu-Min's help? It could only be counted on one hand, that was for sure.
In addition, the people Kang Jin-Ho showed any level of interest during those years were limited to Park Yu-Min, Han Se-Yeon, and Choi Yeong-Su—that was about it.
Kang Jin-Ho hadn’t sought Choi Yeong-Su out of kind intentions, so it would be safe to assume that he was basically interested in only two other people outside of his family.
To reinforce that point, one only had to look at how Kang Jin-Ho was still uninterested in Hwang Jeong-Hu's life.
Jo Gyu-Min tilted his head.
“Sir, isn't this a good thing in that case?”
“Well, it's not a bad thing, technically speaking.
Unfortunately, the problem is with that nun.
She has no hope of making a full recovery.”
Jo Gyu-Min still couldn't quite understand what Hwang Jeong-Hu was implying here.
After all, Kang Jin-Ho already knew that Sister Yi wasn't going to make it.
“Gyu-Min, what is your impression of Jin-Ho?”
“I'm sorry, sir?” Jo Gyu-Min wasn't sure how to reply to that unexpected question and could only falter.
Hwang Jeong-Hu continued, “Look beyond the surface-level impression, and the feeling I get is…
Jin-Ho is an alien.”
“How should I put it? It's as if an alien had put on a facade of a human being.
Only then does his behavior makes some sense.
It's like… he's learning about the world one thing at a time and establishing his 'relationship' with everything at the same time.”
makes sense, sir.”
“But then, imagine what will happen when someone he's interested in knowing dies.”
Jo Gyu-Min had finally figured out where Hwang Jeong-Hu was going with this, and he nodded heavily.
Hwang Jeong-Hu smacked his lips.
“That boy had most likely steeled himself for the inevitable, but death is far scarier than you can imagine, Gyu-Min.
No one knows the kind of impact it will have on Jin-Ho, and how much he'll change because of it.”
“I understand now, sir.”
“It'd be great if Jin-Ho has a way, but…” Hwang Jeong-Hu muttered, and the end of his sentence became even quieter.
'He probably doesn't…'
If there were a way to save a final-stage cancer patient, then that would be worthy of the Nobel Prize.
Not only that, but you would also make a ton of money.
However, countless doctors and researchers around the globe had been tearing their hair out, trying to find the cure for this incurable disease.
In that case, what could Kang Jin-Ho realistically do to save that nun?
Hwang Jeong-Hu leaned forward, his fingers interlocking.
“For now, keep your eyes on the situation, Gyu-Min.”
“Provide any and all support you deem necessary.
That way, we can minimize the impact on Jin-Ho.
“Mm. Oh, by the way.”
“Disable all the CCTV cameras in and around Jaegyong Hospital's VIP room.”
Jo Gyu-Min blinked his eyes in surprise.
“Disable them, sir?”
Hwang Jeong-Hu slowly nodded.
“Yeah, that's right.”
“It'll be done, sir,” Jo Gyu-Min replied while feeling unsure why this was necessary.
However, Hwang Jeong-Hu wasn't the type of person to make others do things without a good reason.
Please excuse me, sir.
I pray for your good health.”
Jo Gyu-Min bowed deeply before exiting the office.
The door closed behind him, leaving Hwang Jeong-Hu alone behind his desk.
Hwang Jeong-Hu pulled out a cigarette and slowly mouthed it.
“I hope nothing happens.
Unfortunately, life would never work out as you hoped.
Hwang Jeong-Hu felt bitter for some reason after thinking that it was now Kang Jin-Ho's turn to learn that truth about the world.
Some people swore on the alcohol's power to soothe your aching heart.
However, Kang Jin-Ho had to disagree with that opinion.
Since it could make you drunk, booze could make you feel better.
However, what about when you couldn't get drunk no matter how much you drank? Alcohol would be worthless, then.
Kang Jin-Ho filled his glass with even more soju.
Park Yu-Min beside him spoke in a worried voice, “Jin-Ho, I think you should stop drinking now.”
“This is a problem.
I'm not drinking because I'm distressed or anything like that,” Kang Jin-Ho muttered before taking a swig of the glass.
“Jin-Ho, do you know how many bottles you've emptied already?”
Kang Jin-Ho ignored that question and mumbled to himself again, “Other than feeling full and bloated, I'm not getting drunk at all.
That's also another problem.”
“That's why, stop drinking, Jin-Ho!”
“Mm…” Kang Jin-Ho groaned and put the bottle down.
He had finally acknowledged that this was a waste of his time.
Park Yu-Min spoke in an exasperated voice, “After drinking that much, the polite thing would be to at least pretend to get drunk, you know? Only then would I try to console you and say it's not the end of the world! So, please don't finish that tenth bottle while looking exactly the same as your usual self, Jin-Ho!”
In times like this, being a martial art expert wasn’t helpful at all.
He didn't even need to consciously circulate qi to break down the alcohol in his system.
His highly-developed body would automatically do that for him as soon as it detected any traces of alcohol.
Drinking an entire barrel of booze could potentially make him tipsy, but his gut would burst at the seams well before that could happen.
Park Yu-Min suddenly yelled at Kang Jin-Ho, “That's why you should've treated her better, you know!”
“But, I'm sure I never treated her poorly in the past.”
“Well, you're not wrong, but…” Park Yu-Min spat out a lengthy groan.
Even he could tell that the problem between Kang Jin-Ho and Han Se-Yeon wasn’t about who messed it up first.
It was simply a matter of incompatibility.
Han Se-Yeon wished for Kang Jin-Ho to pay her undivided attention just like any other boy would have.
Unfortunately, Kang Jin-Ho just wasn't that kind of a guy.
Her one-sided decision to wait was based on the premise of Kang Jin-Ho eventually seeing the light, but he was an unchanging person.
What happened was merely the seed of discord that had been planted at the beginning finally blooming—that was all there was to it.
Kang Jin-Ho's reaction was quite unusual, though.
Park Yu-Min looked weirdly at his friend and asked, “Jin-Ho…
Aren't you sad about this?”
“Sad, you say?”
Kang Jin-Ho carefully thought about his current state before replying to his friend, “Rather than sad, my emotion seems to be closer to regret.”
“I thought as much…” Park Yu-Min could only tut at that reply.
During his previous conversation with Han Se-Yeon, Park Yu-Min realized just how indifferent Kang Jin-Ho was as a person.
He wouldn’t open his heart to anyone, and he never expected others to do anything for him in return.
He just accepted people as they were and went with that.
However, that wasn’t how relationships worked.
People in relationships would expect their partners to change so that they could be more compatible with each other.
'I guess that's why Se-Yeon couldn't hold on.'
Park Yu-Min wondered if he should have intervened and stopped that girl from getting too invested, but…
That's not right.'
It would be bizarre to stop a couple wanting to date under the pretext of incompatibility now, wouldn't it? Park Yu-Min told himself that this was the inevitable result—something bound to happen sooner or later.
Kang Jin-Ho glanced at his friend and asked, “Do you think I did something wrong?”
“Mm, well…” Park Yu-Min felt troubled.
He wasn't sure how to answer that.
If someone else acted like Kang Jin-Ho, then Park Yu-Min would have emphatically said, “Yes, you messed it up.” However, Kang Jin-Ho was a bit of a unique case.
For one, Kang Jin-Ho was an indifferent, unchanging person, wasn't he? Besides, Han Se-Yeon knew what Kang Jin-Ho was like, too.
She believed she could handle him, only to run out of patience and energy toward the end.
In that case, was it right to blame Kang Jin-Ho for being so…
“Well, you two were just incompatible, that's all.”
“That's an abstract reply,” Kang Jin-Ho muttered as he softly sighed.
It was too late to think about it now, but…
If Han Se-Yeon asked him whether he held any special feelings toward her or not, Kang Jin-Ho wouldn't be able to give her a clear answer.
Excluding his family members, the only other 'special' woman in his life would be Han Se-Yeon.
There was no denying that.
However, if he was asked whether that 'specialness' was due to a romantic feeling?
'I'm not sure…'
He couldn't deny it, but he couldn't affirm it either.
He just liked her as a person and enjoyed hanging out with her.
However, he had never felt any noticeable obsession or a desire to possess her.
Kang Jin-Ho had once heard that when someone was madly in love, that person would care about their object of love more than their family.
However, Kang Jin-Ho's family had always been his number one priority, not Han Se-Yeon.
Since that was the case, what was he supposed to call the feeling he had?
Park Yu-Min tapped Kang Jin-Ho on the shoulder.
“I'm not just making things up here.
You two really are incompatible.”
“Hmm…” Kang Jin-Ho slowly nodded.
Something still didn't feel quite right, though.
Out of all the non-family member women he knew, Kang Jin-Ho was closest to Han Se-Yeon.
Yet, he wasn't compatible with her? Wasn't that basically the same as there being no women under the heavens compatible with him?
Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“Yu-Min, be honest with me.”
“Was I at fault?”
Park Yu-Min silently stared at his friend for a moment or two before opening his mouth.
“When a new child joins the orphanage…”
“…?” Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head slightly.
Why was Park Yu-Min suddenly bringing up the orphanage?
“At first, everyone feels uncomfortable and wary around the new kid.
Especially those who need to stay in the same room.”
“But give them time, and they will become friends eventually.
Do you know why?”
“Because they change themselves to fit in.”
Park Yu-Min sighed before continuing, “Humans are supposed to change themselves to fit in with each other.
If you put two toy-loving kids in one playroom, they'll start fighting each other to decide who gets to play with their toys at first.
However, they eventually learn how to share.
Just like that, people will give up a little of themselves to fit in with others they come across in their lives.”
“Jin-Ho, the way I see it, you kind of suck at doing that.
Let me ask you this.
Have you ever given up something of yours for Han Se-Yeon? Have you ever tried to do something for her?”
“…No, I don't think I have.” Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
He might have accompanied her to her home a few times, but other than that? It was safe to say that he had done nothing for her until now.
Park Yu-Min nodded and continued, “You two not being compatible isn't so far off the truth, you know? The thing is, though, no two people in this world will instantly click perfectly the moment they meet.
Se-Yeon showed you where you could fit in with her, and you simply didn't even bother trying.
Eventually, she realized she just couldn't keep on trying to fit in with you.”
“Are you saying that the problem is with me not changing?”
“Well, not exactly, but…” Park Yu-Min rubbed his forehead before emptying the soju glass in front of him.
He let out a guttural groan after the liquor burned his throat, then stared at his friend's face for some time.
He eventually put the empty glass down and spoke, “Maybe, that's the better way for you, Jin-Ho.
Just stay in your lane and wait for someone who fits in with you.
I mean, the 'Kang Jin-Ho' I know has all the qualifications for it, anyway.
However, if you don't make a move, no one will also come to you, either.”
“Sounds difficult, then…”
“Yeah, it is…”
Kang Jin-Ho had gained a renewed appreciation of how challenging the relationships between people could be.
While mulling over this subject, he slowly brought his soju glass over to his lips.
As for the clear liquor looking so sorrowful for some reason today, it probably had something to do with Kang Jin-Ho's state of mind.
Knocked back, worn down, put through a wringer, and he even had to agonize…
But today, Kang Jin-Ho learned a new lesson about the world.
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