object presented before his eyes.
A can of cola? A chuckle involuntarily broke out of his lips. Just how much love did she think he had for cola anyway?

“What's this?”

Ji-Eun replied triumphantly, “I know you like cola, and I wanted to say thanks, so here it is.”

Kang Jin-Ho thought her attitude was rather adorable and chuckled softly.

“You're welcome!”

Kang Jin-Ho pushed the tab in and opened the can.


The scent of the sweet carbonated drink wafted out of the can, accompanied by the hiss of the escaping gas.
Kang Jin-Ho stared at the cold drink with a slightly tense expression before bringing the can closer to his lips to take a sip.
He looked so determined while doing that, too.

The carbon dioxide, still playing the villain to his senses, began tormenting him once more.

“Kya-hahaha!” Ji-Eun burst into a happy peal of laughter while watching his struggles.
Children were supposed to be prone to fits of laughter, but this girl seemed to lose it even at the most trivial things.

“Ji-Eun, you mustn't laugh so much like that.
It's not good for your heart, you know!” The nurse hurriedly tried to stop the girl.

Ji-Eun pouted cutely.
“I can't even laugh now?”

“Stimulating your heart too much will make the pain act up again, Ji-Eun.
You must listen to what the doctor told you.”

“Okaaay, I get it,” the girl replied dejectedly.

Kang Jin-Ho could only sigh while listening to them.
Ji-Eun wasn't even allowed to laugh now? Yes, she was sick, but did that mean that she also had to kill her emotions? What was a little girl supposed to do after being told to suppress her own emotions like this?

A child should grow up like a child.
Laugh when they wanted to laugh and cry when they wanted to cry.
Kang Jin-Ho knew all too well how miserable a child could get if they weren’t allowed to express their emotions.

Ji-Eun began explaining what happened to Kang Jin-Ho.
“I was taking a stroll and minding my own business, but that guy just jumped out of nowhere to grab me.
I was so surprised, you know? My chest was hurting so much back then.”

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“I see.”

“But when you stepped out of the crowd…
I don't know why, but I felt so relieved, you know?”

“That's good to hear.”

“Boo…” Ji-Eun pouted and glared at Kang Jin-Ho as if she was unhappy about something, but then, she suddenly exploded in a peal of laughter again.
“Ah, that must be it! Oppa, your Korean is bad, am I right?”


“Well, you're from outer space, and that must be why you can only reply like that!”

Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head at the laughing kid.
What was so funny? Why was she laughing in the first place? He had no clue what was going on here but he still felt glad to see her laughing like that again.

The nurse cried out, “Ji-Eun, I told you not to laugh!”

The girl poked her tongue out.
“Big sis, did you know that you nag too much? That's why you're still not married yet.”

“…T-that's not true, you know?” The nurse was visibly trembling, but she desperately held herself back since getting angry at Ji-Eun was not an option.
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly averted his gaze away from the nurse and stared only at the girl as he dearly wished to avoid becoming collateral damage.

They chatted for a while until the girl's mother flung the door open and hurriedly rushed inside.


“Ji-Eun! Oh my gosh, Ji-Eun! Are you alright?!”

Ji-Eun’s brave front finally broke down as she burst into tears the moment she saw her mother.
She pretended to be fine and all, but a child was still a child; there was no way she would be okay after going through something most grown-ups would have trouble dealing with mentally.

Kang Jin-Ho got up, knowing that his job was finished.
He also didn't have a reason to stick around and eavesdrop on a conversation between a mother and her daughter, so he unhesitantly stepped outside the room.

But the girl's mother followed him outside.
“Excuse me?”

He looked back at her.

“I heard about what happened.
You saved my daughter's life.”

“It was nothing, ma'am.”

“Thank you so much.
I was so worried because of Ji-Eun's illness…”

Kang Jin-Ho narrowed his eyes.
“Is it serious?”

“I'm sorry?” Ji-Eun's mother looked confused, perhaps not understanding what he was asking about.

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Kang Jin-Ho clarified himself.
“Her illness, I mean.”

“Ah… that.
It's not as serious as you might think.
It doesn't impact her daily life too much, but…
No one knows when her condition will worsen,” Ji-Eun's mother replied with a sigh.
He didn't interrupt her and patiently listened as she continued.
“It would've been wonderful if we can operate on her, but the doctors say that we just can't.
I already checked with other hospitals, but they all told me the same thing…”

“I see.”

“They say she needs to be a little older before they can operate on her.
But no one can be sure if she'll last that long.”

Kang Jin-Ho quietly studied Ji-Eun's mother.
He only asked her to be polite, but judging from how talkative she was…
Ji-Eun's mother must've had a lot of things to get off her chest, too.

“In any case, thank you for everything you've done.” Ji-Eun's mother realized that she had talked too much and tried to end the conversation there.

Kang Jin-Ho quietly muttered, “What if…”

“Excuse me?”

“What if…
your daughter's illness goes away? What would you like to do, then?” he asked directly.

Ji-Eun's mother stared at him with a stupefied expression.
Why was this young man asking her such a cruel question?

I'd like to send her back to school.” However, she couldn't get angry at someone responsible for saving Ji-Eun's life.
So, she chose to be honest with her wishes instead.
“And I want to help her make new friends, too.”

“Understood.” Kang Jin-Ho nodded slightly before turning around to leave.
“Please take of yourself, ma'am.”

He sensed the girl's mother bowing her head to him as he walked away.

Kang Jin-Ho has a debt to settle with that child.
No, wait—it'd be more correct to say that 'he had' since that debt had been repaid by now. One could say that saving a life for a can of cola sounded like the deal of the century.

As such, he had no more reasons to help that kid out.

Kang Jin-Ho was the type to clearly distinguish favours and grudges.
If he owed someone, he made sure to always pay it back.
As he had already repaid her, nothing was tying him to the girl anymore.
Even so…

Kang Jin-Ho's gaze drifted lower to the can of cola in his hand. 

'I owe her for something else, then.'

He simply had to repay all favors he received along the way.
Which meant that he now had to repay Ji-Eun for this new favor, too.
Yes, he knew that this was pushing it, but Kang Jin-Ho still made up his mind to go through with it nonetheless.

He hated owing someone for no good reason just as much as showing kindness to others on a whim.
That was why it was time for him to repay that girl for the favor he owed her.
This can of cola was that favor, of course.

Kang Jin-Ho's plan was to match her goodwill, no more, no less.
Would the other party think of his repayment as too excessive? He wouldn’t know and he didn’t care. After all, he had already made a decision.

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