Getting Help (2)
“Are you really good at gaming?”
Park Yu-Min arrived at school the following morning and immediately fell into a state of confusion when his classmates crowded all around him.
This must have been his first time ever to get surrounded by friendly people like this.
The kids back in the orphanage followed him around like ducklings chasing after their mother, so they didn't really count.
Indeed, Park Yu-Min never had a chance to bathe in the adulation of his peers like this in his entire life.
He naturally began stuttering, “H-huh? W-what game?”
“I heard that your Galaxy rating is 2,100!”
“Yeah, t-that's right.”
“Wow, 2,100 is like on the level of a pro gamer, right? There are less than a hundred people in our country with ratings higher than 2,100, too!”
Park Yu-Min waved his hands around in denial.
There are lots more players better than me.”
“But you were playing casually at home and still got a rating of 2,100, right? So, like, are you thinking of debuting as a pro gamer?”
Park Yu-Min shook his head.
That's not possible.”
His classmates continued to inundate him with questions.
“Hey, are you free after school today?”
“What do you mean, why? I gotta have a match with a 2,100 rating, of course! When will I ever get another chance to fight against someone rated above 2,000! You are free after school, right? Don't worry, I'll pay the PC Room fee.”
“W-wait, I…” Park Yu-Min made a tearful face while glancing at Jeong In-Gyu.
It seemed that the whole class had already heard the news.
In that case, Jeong In-Gyu had to be the culprit since he was the specialist in this sort of thing.
Jeong In-Gyu simply grinned.
He didn't even try to deny it.
“Well, I was just telling like how it was.”
Park Yu-Min shot a resentful glare but didn't try to blame his classmate.
Truth be told, the news itself wasn't a bad one, to begin with.
Indeed, Jeong In-Gyu had simply spread the story about Park Yu-Min being good with a computer game.
Park Yu-Min's fellow classmates were simply overreacting.
“Let's go to a PC Room after school, okay?”
I called dibs first.
Today's my turn.”
“Don't make me laugh, will ya? I've been waiting since morning, dude.”
“Since when? Isn't it still morning now?”
Park Yu-Min sighed softly while looking at his classmates waging a bidding war.
This was disorientating, making him feel a little woozy.
He had to admit that it didn't feel so bad.
It was only yesterday that no one wanted to talk to him, but the situation had flipped on its head literally overnight.
Park Yu-Min's wandering eyes eventually spotted Kang Jin-Ho.
The latter was slumped over on his desk, dozing off—as if none of this was his business.
Was Park Yu-Min's gaming skill responsible for all this attention from his fellow classmates? It could be.
Whatever the case might be, one thing was for certain: If Kang Jin-Ho hadn't taken him to the PC Room yesterday, no one would have tried to talk to him like this today.
The 'victim' Kang Jin-Ho being friendly to the 'perpetrator' Park Yu-Min as if nothing had happened between them helped massively with the other kids feeling at ease. This was understandable, considering that Kang Jin-Ho was now the top dog of the class.
If he was still hostile to Park Yu-Min, then everyone would have been too busy minding his mood all the time.
Finally, Jeong In-Gyu being the one spreading the news seemed to have played a part in reassuring the kids since he was Kang Jin-Ho's close friend.
“Hey, get out of the way.”
“Argh, didn't you hear us? Come out, now!”
Loud voices could be heard just then.
Kids crowding around Park Yu-Min split open, revealing the figures of two boys who could be called Choi Yeong-Su's 'family'.
They were Lee Min-Sik and Go Hyeon-Seung.
Lee Min-Sik stood triumphantly before Park Yu-Min and smirked insidiously.
“Y-yeah?” Park Yu-Min stuttered, feeling his heart fall to the pit of his stomach.
These two were nowhere to be found after Choi Yeong-Su was 'admitted' to a hospital, but now, they suddenly decided to show their faces for some reason.
Just how badly did these two torment Park Yu-Min in the past? Remembering all those moments made the boy's heart pound faster in anxiety.
“I heard you're pretty good at video games, is it true?” Lee Min-Sik asked.
Park Yu-Min replied in a feeble voice, “N-no, I'm not that good…”
“Answer properly, will ya?! Or do you want to get beaten up again?”
“I can play a little bit…”
Lee Min-Sik's grin deepened as he wrapped his arm around Park Yu-Min's shoulders.
“Is that right? Wanna have a match with me after school?”
“Why aren't you answering me? You don't wanna?”
“N-no, it's not that I don't, but…” Park Yu-Min was sweating buckets now, unable to answer.
Anyone could tell that he obviously wanted to refuse this invitation.
“Hey, would you look at that? Our little Park Yu-Min's all grown up now.
Since Yeong-Su isn't around, I guess your head became a bit too big for your own good, eh?”
“Not getting beaten up for a few days must've re-energized you, huh? Hey.
Come outside with us for a bit.”
“I said, come outside, you b*tch!”
Park Yu-Min dejectedly got up.
It had been over a year since they started bullying him.
Being subjected to their abuse for that long meant he now found it hard to stand up against their threats.
His head remained lowered as he headed toward the exit along with Lee Min-Sik and Go Hyeon-Seung, but then…
But then, a quiet growl came from behind them.
Kang Jin-Ho had raised his head off the desk and was staring at Park Yu-Min.
The latter gasped.
“I said, sit down.”
Park Yu-Min didn't say anything else and quickly settled back down in his seat.
Lee Min-Sik and Go Hyeon-Seung looked enraged by that, but there wasn't much they could do other than to cautiously mind Kang Jin-Ho's mood.
They were right there when Choi Yeong-Su was knocked out in an instant, after all.
'Hey, man! This isn't what you told me!'
'Argh, seriously now?!'
Go Hyeon-Seung and Lee Min-Sik whispered quietly amongst themselves.
They decided to brazenly waltz inside the class and start tormenting Park Yu-Min again after thinking that Kang Jin-Ho wouldn't try to protect the boy.
Park Yu-Min's lie was responsible for his week-long unfair suspension, after all.
But Kang Jin-Ho did protect Park Yu-Min, which went against their expectations.
He didn't stop there, though.
“As for you two…
Leave,” Kang Jin-Ho flatly growled.
“And don't hover around Yu-Min from now on.
Don't even talk to him, and don't even try to make eye contact with him.
“Wait, Kang Jin-Ho!” Lee Min-Sik hurriedly called out, prompting Kang Jin-Ho's gaze to land on him next.
“Uh… I… Uhm…”
Lee Min-Sik had so many things to say, but that apathetic gaze made him forget them all.
He couldn't even recall what was on his mind a second ago.
Go Hyeon-Seung quickly stepped in for his friend instead.
“Come on, man.
You got suspended by this punk, right? So why are you protecting him?”
“So? What about it?”
“But, but! You're the victim, right…?”
Kang Jin-Ho snorted derisively.
“When Yu-Min lied, and I got unfairly punished, tell me, what were you doing?”
“W-we, uh…” Go Hyeon-Seung couldn't finish what he wanted to say.
“If one of you stepped forward and revealed the truth, my situation would've been different.
But none of you had done that, right?”
Kang Jin-Ho was talking to Lee Min-Sik and Go Hyeon-Seung, but his sharp words were actually addressing everyone in the class who witnessed what happened on that day.
“Even though it was just a minor issue, none of you stepped forward, either because you couldn't be bothered or you didn't want to become collateral damage.
So, the question is…
Since when did you two become warriors of justice that wish to punish the wrongdoer for my sake?” Kang Jin-Ho's voice remained subdued yet audible.
“At least Park Yu-Min had a good reason.
Besides, the matter between him and I is just that, a matter between us.
You don't have a say in it, and your interference is not welcome.
And I'm warning you…”
Kang Jin-Ho stopped there for a moment or two to gather everyone's attention before issuing his warning.
“Do not appear before Park Yu-Min again.
If I ever catch you ignoring my warning, then you won't walk away with a simple conversation, got that?”
“Did you hear me?”
“Y-yeah, we heard you.”
Lee Min-Sik and Go Hyeon-Seung stood cautiously like a pair of mice minding a cat's mood before quickly escaping from the classroom.
With that, utter silence descended on the class.
Two things were confirmed with that exchange.
One, Kang Jin-Ho held no ill feelings toward Park Yu-Min. He was even actively trying to protect the latter.
Two, no one in Dongmyeong High would now dare to go against Kang Jin-Ho from the second year.
Lee Min-Sik and Go Hyeon-Seung used to do whatever they pleased in the school under Choi Yeong-Su's protection, but today, they had to tuck their tails firmly between their legs and run away. This meant Kang Jin-Ho had practically taken over the school by now.
The crowd of high schoolers surrounding Park Yu-Min stood there meandering in this awkward atmosphere.
Kang Jin-Ho groaned and shifted his tired-looking eyes over to Park Yu-Min.
The latter stared back, his expression a little stiff.
When Park Yu-Min initiated the conversation first, the others in the classroom suddenly became genuinely interested in what might happen next.
Kang Jin-Ho grunted.
“Did you stay up the whole night?”
Instead of a reply, Kang Jin-Ho rubbed his eyes.
After he tasted bitter defeat yesterday, the flames of his competitive streak were rekindled even fiercer.
As a result, he 'practiced' the game for the whole night and didn't even have enough time to perform the breathing technique to rid himself of fatigue.
He grunted once more.
“…You, uh, you shouldn't overwork yourself.”
“You're too noisy.” Kang Jin-Ho waved his hand dismissively, then slumped on his desk once again.
Jeong In-Gyu smirked and lightly patted his friend on the back.
“Aigoo~, our little Jin-Ho.
Still feeling bitter about losing, eh?”
“…Mmhm?!” Kang Jin-Ho raised his head and glared intensely at Jeong In-Gyu like an angry predator.
His glare was so piercing that, if this had been the middle of the night, Jeong In-Gyu could have wet his pants.
“W-well, you know, I was just kidding…” Jeong In-Gyu grinned sheepishly and began backing off.
“I will win next time,” said Kang Jin-Ho.
“Actually, I think that's not gonna happen anytime soon.”
Win.” Kang Jin-Ho sounded like an obstinate old man just then.
Jeong In-Gyu coolly evaluated this situation.
By every metric imaginable, Kang Jin-Ho was one of the better players in that game.
Most likely, no one in this school would be able to beat him in a one-on-one PVP.
Unfortunately, though, Park Yu-Min was in another realm altogether.
Jeong In-Gyu spoke in a diplomatic tone of voice, “Jin-Ho, listen.”
“What is it?”
“Yu-Min's almost on a pro gamer level, right?”
“So, if you win against Yu-Min, doesn't that mean you’ll be on the level of a pro gamer?”
“…?” Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head, wondering.
‘Is that how it is?’
Jeong In-Gyu continued.
“Just give up.”
I told you, I will win.
I have thought of a way.”
Kang Jin-Ho pointed at Park Yu-Min.
“He will teach me.”
“For my goal, I will stop at nothing and do whatever I can.
Including learning from Park Yu-Min to defeat him.”
Jeong In-Gyu replied dismissively, “What if Yu-Min teaches you some weird-ass stuff? What then?”
“…!” Kang Jin-Ho's glare stabbed into Park Yu-Min next.
The latter could only smile awkwardly and mumble, “No, I wouldn't…”
Kang Jin-Ho chuckled before pressing his face on the desk again.
The door slid open just then, and Han Se-Yeon entered the class.
She immediately cocked her brow.
“What? You're sleeping in class again?”
Kang Jin-Ho held his head at her high-pitched voice digging into his skull.
'Why do women of this era all seem to know sonic wave techniques?!'
Not just Han Se-Yeon, but his little sister Kang Eun-Yeong, too…
They were all too freaking loud! You couldn't find women with such shrill and loud voices back in Zhongyuan even if you tried to.
The belief back then was that speaking in a gentle, calm tone would enhance your feminine charms.
Having lived in that era for so long, Kang Jin-Ho found the modern women too 'violent' and headstrong for him to get used to.
Han Se-Yeon narrowed her eyes.
“The mock exams are next week, you know? Can you afford to doze away like that?”
“…It'll be fine.”
“No, it won't be fine! Keep this up, and you will end up becoming a moron sooner or later.”
Jeong In-Gyu jumped in to stop Han Se-Yeon.
“Let him be.
He apparently stayed up the whole night, you see.”
“Was he studying?”
“Nope, he was playing a computer game.”
Han Se-Yeon's rebuking gaze landed on Kang Jin-Ho.
“I see that you're wasting your youth on such nonsense. How pathetic…”
Kang Jin-Ho shielded his head.
Please… All I ask for is a minute of peace, so I can get some rest…!”
“We, high schoolers, are supposed to rest at home.
I mean, which high school student thinks about getting some rest in their classroom?”
Kang Jin-Ho slightly raised his hand.
“I’m right here…”
“That's precisely why you shouldn't be like this.” Han Se-Yeon harrumphed matter-of-factly.
Kang Jin-Ho began chuckling hollowly at her comebacks.
'It seems that trying to live an ordinary life won't be that easy.'
It had only been a month since he returned to the 'past.’ He managed to make a friend and was also gradually getting used to school life.
Sometimes, everything did feel strange and awkward.
But he was still able to chuckle at the simple fact that he didn't need to be so tense all the time in this life.
Unfortunately, problems always reared their ugly heads when you least expected them.
“Kang Jin-Ho?” The classroom door slid open again, and the class president stepped in before calling for Kang Jin-Ho.
The latter looked up.
“You've been summoned to the staffroom.”
But a teacher wants to see you.”
“And which teacher would that be?”
“It's Bloody Mop.”
Kang Jin-Ho frowned slightly.
Why was Gong Ik-Hyeon, the dean of students, asking for him? He got up to leave while thinking about the potential reasons for this summon.
“I guess I'll go and find out, then.”
He wasn't sure what was going on, but since a teacher wanted to see him, he should be a good student and answer the call.
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