He felt it was his duty to keep his body safe until Song Yi-heon’s soul returned. Aside from being labeled a madman for telling him the truth about the soul change, he could never give away his secret to a fox cub who might do anything.
As if that weren’t terrible enough, the fox cub’s tail flicked, and Kim’s boiling water boiled over. He wanted to kick the cub’s ass for doing such a dastardly thing to catch him off guard.
‘I’ll only cuddle him if he’s cute.’
Nogi needed to see through the mask of kindness.
“Choi Se Kyung!”
The tense air currents broke. From the other side of the room, a group of boys recognized Se-kyung and rushed over.
“Is it really Choi Se-kyung? I thought it was you?”
“Se-kyung, are you a palm tree?”
“Why? I’ve never done palm trees in my life.”
They quickly surrounded Se-kyung as if they were acquaintances. Kim Deuk-pal, who was surrounded by them, tried to move out of the way, but he couldn’t see any gaps because the men were building a wall on all sides. In the midst of the men who blocked fluorescent lights and cast shadows, Deuk-pal crossed his fat arms.
The boys were excited to see Choi Se-kyung.
“What are you two doing so close together? I thought you were gay.”
“Do you do math? Isn’t this problem book too easy?”
A boy with horn-rimmed glasses asked as he flipped through Kim Deuk-pal’s book of problems Se-kyung solved. Se-kyung replied with his usual kindness.
“My friend said I didn’t know anything.”
“He was telling you?”
The horn-rimmed boy suggested, his hand pausing to buffer flipping through a problem book.
“Uh, do you want to study together?” We’ll do the same problem sets, get together once or twice a week, write things on the whiteboard that we don’t know, and explain them to each other. It’ll be helpful interview practice.” Wow, I thought, but it’s really good. Let’s do it, let’s do it.”
If he organized a study group, the centerpiece would be Choi Se Kyung. he’s the one who knows everyone, and he’s the best at math. Even now, the boys in the group are jealous of the opportunity to study with him, but they keep their eyes on him. Rumor has it that she gets tutoring in all subjects from a tutor in Daechi-dong, and even if he can only share study materials, it’s a windfall.
“Isn’t the time okay for the first part of the day? If it’s too short, the flow will be interrupted. Wednesday is perfect, right? Let’s solve one unit at a time and adjust the amount as we proceed. I’ll talk to her. I’ll give you all my help and provide you with the key to the study room.”
The student who suggested it pushed up his horn-rimmed glasses and organized his study plan. The other students looked at Choi Se-kyung and raised their voices to get his attention. Even if he didn’t know what he was doing, it was clear that he wanted to be the center of attention.
If you study with Choi Se-kyung, you’ll get better grades, and you’ll have more things to write about in your personal statement for college applications. The boy had the shallow idea that writing that he was the leader of such a group would make a positive impression on an admissions officer.
“What should I name my study? How about ‘trigonometry’, Se-kyung?”
The boy, who stumbled over the study group name on the spot, asked as if Se-kyung had already agreed to the study. The boy’s cheek pimple stood out like a clown.
The boy was about Kim’s age, and he could see a human reflection in him, not blindly, but roughly. He’s a weasel, worse than a fox, who wants to steal balls. Kim Deuk-pal clicked his tongue and waited for Choi Se-kyung’s fox to move.
There was no way Choi Se-kyung would agree to it.
But Choi Se-kyung agreed out of the blue. She waited a moment longer, just in case, but all she could do was smile and nod at the boy who suggested a study group. Kim Deuk-pal narrowed his eyes.
Why does this fox seem to be so kind to me, and yet mean to everyone else?
If Choi Se-kyung is getting beaten up, it lowers his respect for Choi Se-kyung. Unable to watch, he leaned his back against the chair back at an angle. He crosses one ankle over the other knee, forming a figure of four, and sticks his hands in his pants pockets. His knit vest wrinkled loosely as his fleshy abdomen curled into a ball.
“So who’s the boss?”
A young man who didn’t recognize the term “study hall” interrupted the conversation. The boys turned to face the strange face they’d been squinting at. His intense glare dampened the boys’ enthusiasm for creating a study. The boy stammered.
“Uh… who are you?”
“Hey, Se Kyung Choi. We’re heading to the cafeteria. Come with us.”
The boys couldn’t call Choi Se-kyung a gay bastard, so they offered to take Se-kyung alone, but he refused, standing shoulder to shoulder with Song Yi-heon.
“Go away. I’m supposed to teach Yi-heon a math problem.”
Crumpled, grumbling, the boys turned around and grumbled. Looking back over their shoulders, their open mouths cursed the gay asshole. They chewed on Song Yiheon in a low voice that only they could hear, and then someone asked, as if they didn’t understand.
“Then what is Choi Se-kyung gay to?”
“Hey, shut your mouth.”
Punching the questioning boy in the back, they hurried out of the examination room so Choi Se-kyung wouldn’t hear them. Song Yi-heon, who had no back, was easy to mess with. However, Choi Se-kyung, who had an established family and a high reputation, was afraid of messing with him.
In effect, the study was a waste of time. Boys would never want to spend time in the same room as Song Yi-heon. Se-kyung declared that he would not join the study unless Song Yi-heon had his back. There was no point studying without him.
As soon as the boys closed the study hall door, Choi rested his forehead on Song Yi-heon’s shoulder and shivered. Kim Duk-pal stiffened as he felt laughter tremors.
“Have you turned?”
Se-kyung, who had been laughing under his breath, his back shaking for a long time, turned her forehead against his shoulder to see if he could calm down and not get up. The corners of her eyes glistened as tears rolled down her cheeks from holding back her laughter. The way he laughed made him think he knew what the boy who offered to study with him was up to. The thought of being set up for it made him sick to his stomach, so he clicked his tongue and stamped his thumb roughly on Se-kyung’s eye corner.
“Why is the asshole who was so kind to me being beaten by them?”
Do you think I’m better than them? Kim Deuk-pal became serious.
“If you’re greedy, you’ll be punished. It’s better to give in.”
Se-kyung said, tilting his head toward Song Yi-heon’s neck. He still hadn’t gotten over the warning his father had given him one day in the past. This was when he clasped his younger son’s shoulders in an embrace and locked eyes with him.
But the skinny shoulders jerked up as if they’d heard something untoward. Suddenly, Se Kyung leaned upright. The smile that had lingered on his face faded at the comment that so easily negated the pressure that had tightened around him all his life.
Kim Deuk-pal, or Song Yi-heon, had a cynicism never been there before.
“Is there a greedy man in the world?”
Kim Deuk-pal was driven by greed from the bottom down to the top. It was greed that drove him to bandage his palm with an eye that wouldn’t close after being punched. He also refused to back down from a turf fight after being stabbed in the stomach. Even now that he was in Song Yi-heon’s body, he wanted to avenge Song Yi-heon and return to school.
“In a world where Buddhas can be chopped up, you’re an asshole for not being greedy.”
Having run away from home as a child and lived in back alleys, Kim Deuk-pal did not believe in transcendental beliefs or concessions. His education was only possible if he could make ends meet. A man like Song Yi-heon, who could steal his rice bowl, could be rejected. However, a man who gave up his rice bowl for others was also rejected by Kim Deuk-pal.
Se-kyung paused and stared at Song Yi-heon. The cynicism in Song Yi-heon’s fluffy eyes was out of place and creepy at the same time. It was simultaneously creepy and mesmerizing. A gentle gleam of pleasure flickered in Se-Kyung’s dark eyes like a rising tide.
The experience of being so easily denied a warning that had stifled her for a lifetime sent shivers down her spine.
Still unable to take his eyes off Song Yiheon, Se-kyung mimicked his words.
“You’re an asshole.”
Kim Deuk-pal smirked at the stranger’s open adoration.
“You like it?”
What was difficult for Se-kyung was easy for Kim Deuk-pal. In a way, it was natural. Breaking out of an egg might be challenging for a baby bird, but it’s nothing compared to an adult who’s already been through the prenatal wringer.
Just as Kim Deuk-pal easily solved the problem that plagued the original Song Yi-heon, who would rather jump off an overpass than return to school, Se-kyung’s problem was the least of his worries.
It was so insignificant that he didn’t even realize he had done anything to her. He was delighted to see her laughing innocently for the first time as a child of her age.
“Just solve the problem below.”
“You’re an excellent boy, so I’ll cut you some slack.”
Se-kyung solved math problems until the bell rang for the second period. Their shoulders, which were quickly narrowing, were pressed together, and his head was warm as he leaned over his workbook.