Seowoon couldn’t tell whether he was laughing or crying, and it left him feeling frustrated.
“But then some assh*le called the deceased f*cking morons for not calling Cesco. That’s why I had to exterminate them too.”
“I told you not to read comments.”
Seowoon had made a recommendation during his time as the deputy leader.
Mutant Handlers should stay off the internet for a week.
“That was when you weren’t around, assh*le, why did you come back so late? But that scene of Seonghee melting away, I can’t get it out of my head. I thought I had gotten over it, but, damn, I’m having f*cking hallucinations about it. Those General Guild assholes, someday I’ll kill them all. If those bastards had come to the Han River, everyone would have survived.”
“You’ve been talking big for years, but you don’t have the courage to do it. You’re alive today because of their guild leader.”
Seowoon tightly gripped Cahaya’s left arm. Then he realized it was the wrist Cahaya had cut off and released it. Surprisingly, Cahaya remained calm without any signs of being in pain.
“Did Jo Kyung-min save me? Cahaya, did you call him?”
Han Don-hee’s dark eyes took on a killer look.
“Except for Cahaya, we were all in bad shape. If it weren’t for Jo Kyung-min, who knows what would have happened to us.”
“Ah, then when I kill those General Guild bastards, I’ll spare Jo Kyung-min for now. I can go after him later and finish the job. Cahaya, watch and see what I can’t do, huh?”
And Han Donhee’s laugh. A laugh tinged with menace.
Seowoon knew why Han Donhee was so fixated on the 35th Mutant Incident. Seonghee had been Han Donhee’s girlfriend at the time.
Back when Seonghee was alive, Tacheon had healers and some discipline. But after her death, there was no one to control the guild.
“Cahaya, you damn bastard. If only you had been there at that time, just you.”
“Uh, I’m really sorry.”
For the umpteenth time, Cahaya had faced Han Donhee’s drunken rants and offered a emotionless apology and downed his drink.
“I know, you came. I know, but you came too late, so……. Can’t you blame me? I’m having a hard time……. Is it wrong to blame others a bit when you’re going through a hard time?”
“Kangsan, I think it’s time to take Donhee home.”
Han Donhee sagged, almost becoming one with the table, sprawled out on it.
“I knew this would happen, so I ate a lot of meat. Let’s go, Donhee-hyung. You can’t throw up on my back today.”
Kangsan lifted Han Donhee to his feet. They were two big guys, so it was hard to imagine one of them carrying the other. But, Kangsan had no trouble carrying him on his back.
“Kangsan is taking the drunkard with him. See you in Naraka. Don’t go anywhere, Seowoon-hyung.”
The corners of Seowoon’s mouth curled into a smile. Maybe it was because he had lost some weight after going AWOL, but he looked more delicate than before. Or maybe he was always like that, but in Kangsan’s eyes, he looked infinitely strong. Kangsan carried the swaying Han Donhee and left the restaurant.
“Both of them are wearing hospital gowns, so they look even more wasted.”
Seowoon ate a piece of meat and washed it down with an alcohol. Cahaya nonchalantly twisted the soju cap.
In high school, Seowoon thought that when he became an adult, he would drink alcohol with Cahaya. They had come a long way since then, went to the amusement park together, drank alcohol, and wondered what kind of day it was today.
“Cahaya, do you drink well?
“Try to guess.”
“Do I have to guess all the way? Half a bottle?”
He responded with a refusal.
“Cha Seowoon, I heard your self-introduction well.”
“What are you saying? I’m way past half a bottle.”
“Your face is really red right now.”
His cheeks were already flushed.
“That’s how it always is when I drink.”
Cahaya smirked, pressing Seowoon’s cheeks together with the bottle of soju.
“What are you doing?”
Seowoon’s cheeks were pressed against the bottle, thus making his pronunciation inaccurate.
“I’m warming it up to drink.”
“Who the f*ck heats up soju to drink?”
Nevertheless, the coldness in his cheek was refreshing. Seowoon, as if showing off, downed the drink in his glass.
“Are you going to act all tough and then pass out?”
“Assh*le, I can handle two bottles.”
“I thought you’ve had three because your face is so red.”
“Don’t worry about it, I detox with my face, not my liver.”
“You asked for my alcohol tolerance.”
It would have been easier to just say it was two bottles from the beginning, rather than teasing and making a fuss. Anyway, Cahaya had teased him a few times before. Still, Seowoon didn’t consciously avoid him like he used to, so Cahaya wondered when they had become so awkward. There were not clinking glasses and they didn’t speak for a while, it still quite felt natural.
“Han Donhee……. Does he do behave like that often?”
“If it happens often, I wouldn’t tolerate it. Maybe once or twice a year.”
“Donhee must have really liked Seonghee.”
Cahaya’s expression seemed to suggest that, too.
“He’s just sorry because she died instead of him.”
Seowoon was unfamiliar with the story. He’d only heard it from the uncle, just something he had heard in passing.
“When I arrived, Han Donhee was on the verge of death too. The control center ordered us to capture Mutant 35 alive. That’s why there were so many casualties.”
Until mutant #35, the control center wanted to capture the mutants alive.
In their quest for information about the mutants, many lives were sacrificed along the way. It wasn’t until the 35th time that the mounting dissatisfaction finally erupted.
It was out of anger that Han Donhee destroyed the control center’s building in Yongsan. As a result, most of his assets were confiscated by the government, and because he had committed the crime of cutting off the fingers of ordinary people, he had to pay a large settlement to his victims.
Seowoon had only heard bits and pieces from the news, but now he could piece together the whole story.
They called the deceased ‘morons’ or ‘Cestco retards’. That’s why he exterminated them.
Perhaps it was someone who had mocked Seonghee’s death that Donhee had come to cut off their fingers. His mouth kept getting dry, so Seowoon stopped thinking about it.
“Are you pitying Han Donhee now?”
Cahaya pushed his index finger across Seowoon’s gathered brows. Being pushed back, Seowoon made that face again.
“I can be stabbed to death by the index finger of a top-tier perennial, so be careful.”
“Shrew aren’t that easy to kill originally.”
“So what did you say, a hamster?”
Seowoon burst into laughter.
“This guy, Cahaya, you can even turn animals into saints. It’s an elephant.”
Seowoon lightly clinked his glass against Cahaya’s. Thanks to him, Seowoon could now drink with a better mood than earlier.
“They said there were no newly awakened mutants after we went to Naraka, right?”
“If one has awakened and they didn’t hide it.”
“So do you think mutants won’t awaken anymore?”
“Mutants keep getting created, so who knows.”
“Where do you live, by the way?”
With a few drinks in him, the conversation became a rambling mess, but it was easier to bring out the underlying thoughts.
“I’m not going to tell you.”
Cahaya’s mouth was covered by his hand holding the glass. His eyes were smiling, but his mouth remained a mystery.
“Is Cha Seowoon too curious to know?”
Cahaya downed a shot of clear soju. Seowoon wiped his cheek in embarrassment. He pretended to cool his flushed face and thought about what to say next. But, his head was spinning too much thanks to the alcohol.
And it was kind of funny that he was now wondering where Cahaya lived.
“I live here.”
Seowoon raised his heavy eyelids.
“I live here”
“In the guild headquarters? Since when?”
“Since the beginning.”
Surprised eyes wandered through the past, and Seowoon’s eyes narrowed sharply. But, it was only about half of his usual intensity.
“We’ve had plenty of times when we were told to gather at the guild headquarters suddenly. But even then, you were always the last to arrive, right? Wow, come to think of it, you were a total delinquent.”
“I don’t cut in line for appointments.”
“Do you think you’re better at cutting in line than I am?”
“Only you know that.”
With a snicker, as the alcohol spread, Seowoon’s laughter grew louder. The hidden feelings behind the special words ‘only you’ became reeds. He needed to get a grip and sobered up with a sip of cold water.
“Why didn’t you ask where I live?”
Cahaya looked at Seo-woon quietly. Seowoon avoided eye contact first and grumbled.
“Ask me, so I can get back at you for not telling me.”
“I know where it is.”
“You know ……?”
“It’s right here, in the palm of my hand.”
“What are you talking about?”
Seowoon couldn’t help but chuckle at the thought of fitting into Cahaya’s palm like a hamster. His heart raced.
“Can you stay the night today?”
Under Cahaya’s direct gaze, Seowoon’s fingertips trembled.
<Heart pounding! ‘Elephant-Shrew Cha Seowoon’s’ heart is racing.>