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Side Story 5: That Day (5) - Seon-Hu and Yeon-Hee
「An interior designer received a call from an old lady.
“We are trying to decorate our kid’s room.”
The interior designer visited the old lady’s home on the promised date. She led him to the supposed baby room, and the designer was taken aback. He had a.s.sumed that by ‘baby room,’ she meant a room for a grandchild, but she was referring to her son. Her son was well into his sixties, but this old mother still considered him a baby.」
“I am back, Father and Mother.”
His mother pounded her chest with her fist, and her eyes were swollen as if she had been crying. She seemed to have shed a lot of tears, yet there appeared to be more left in her eyes. Those tears began to flow the moment she locked eyes with her son, Seon-Hu. They were tears of joy at her son’s safe return.
However, it was too early to be relieved. Seon-Hu was conscious of Kim Ji-Ae’s parents, who were also his uncle and aunt. That was why it was awkward. His aunt’s couple was happy for them, but Seon-Hu recognized a familiar look in his uncle’s eyes. The uncle was purposely looking down, avoiding Seon-Hu’s gaze and nervously swallowing his saliva. People who were afraid of Seon-Hu always looked like that.
- I didn’t know there were guests. I am sorry, but…
Seon-Hu asked Yeon-Hee for a favor, and Yeon-Hee was about to do the same.
- Yeon-Hee: Leave it to me.
Yeon-Hee came to introduce herself to Seon-Hu’s parents, but she stepped back to give them some s.p.a.ce to share their joy of reunion.
“You must be Kim Ji-Ae’s parents, right? I will explain the situation, so please follow me.”
Yeon-Hee took his aunt and uncle out. Now, there was only Seon-Hu, his father Jeon-Il, and his mother Mi-Hee, in the room.
Seon-Hu was unsure how to express his remorse. The world had not changed much, but the lives of his parents could not remain the same. This was because the world would now see his parents not as Seon-Hu’s but as Odin’s, all due to his own selfishness.
Yet, he had not contemplated turning back time or evaporating a portion of humanity’s memories. He was not the only one who contributed to today’s victory. The glory was to be shared with his comrades. As he had decided unilaterally without discussing with his parents in advance, guilt about his decision weighed heavily on him.
“I am so sorry.”
Seon-Hu felt ashamed.
“I am glad…that you know…”
His mother’s voice shook, and tears welled up in her eyes. His father was standing behind the mother while just making eye contact with Seon-Hu. He seemed to be giving up the first joy of reunion to her. Seon-Hu could tell that he was trying his best to calm himself down.
However, it was not an effort to suppress fear or awkwardness. It was the satisfaction that only those who achieved great success felt. His father was even suppressing that out of consideration for his son’s feelings.
His father smiled big with his teeth exposed.
Seon-Hu could finally let go of the worry he had about his father then. His gaze naturally settled on his mother, and she was only about five meters away. Yet, it seemed to be a distance too great for her to overcome.
Everyone in the world knew who Odin was and how he became the subject of terror for the Awakened. Strictly speaking, the Awakened feared Odin more than the ultimate evil. They dared not utter his name, instead referring to him as Him.
Therefore, it was natural for his mother to feel estranged from her son as Seon-Hu had become Odin overnight.
Please call me son, Mother.
Seon-Hu had already prepared for this situation when he revealed his ident.i.ty to the world. However, seeing his mother like this still weighed heavily on him. She was frozen, looking at him.
Seon-Hu thought he had to approach her first. He knew he needed to take initiative in order for her to lose her tension and view him as the son he used to be.
Right when he was about to take the first step, his mother suddenly ran into the room and returned with a piece of paper. Then, she briskly closed the distance between them.
“You really should not have done this…”
Seon-Hu lowered his head. Not just his mother’s face, but the will he left behind was also pressed against his chest.
“Do you really want to see me die? I was so scared… Son…”
When his mother wrapped her arms around him, Seon-Hu hugged her back. He felt her trembling, unable to calm down. Although she was fragile, the force from her core was strong.
“I can’t live without my son. I really can’t…”
Seon-Hu waited for his mother’s sobs to subside.
The house was quiet. All Seon-Hu could hear was the sobbing and chopping from the kitchen. Then, another sound joined. It was the noise of the balcony window opening.
His father usually smoked cigarettes outside, but he did at the balcony this time. He sat in front of Seon-Hu.
“When did you start smoking?”
The smell of his father’s cigarette was a nostalgic scent that he often tried to recall during the Stage of Advent. Instead of answering, his father pointed to a piece of paper left aside. It was the will his mother had brought.
“I am sorry.”
“You keep saying that, but you don’t need to. What do you have to be sorry about? We should be sorry, you fool.”
Seon-Hu remained silent.
“Yes, so my son is Odin? The He of the Awakened?”
“These d.a.m.n people. You have my genes, so you are such a good-looking guy. People talked about you as if you were so scary, so I thought Odin would have three eyes or something.”
His father looked to see if Seon-Hu was hurt with a gaze of concern, then gave a slight smile at the end. Seon-Hu knew it wasn’t a genuine smile as his father was forcing himself. The ones who loved him always acted this way. Even in serious situations, they resorted to humor, and they always checked if there were any injuries on him first.
“There is a lot more I have not told you about, Father.”
“Can I ask you one thing? I might be asking too soon, but I need to know as your dad before your mom comes.”
“It’s about your ability. How much can you do?”
The father’s voice had decreased as if he was whispering when he asked. He glanced cautiously towards the kitchen, aware of his wife’s presence there. It was an unexpected question to Seon-Hu. Therefore, he couldn’t help but think that he had been deceiving his parents all along.
He felt he had to tell the truth this time, but the gravity of the matter made him worry about how his father would react. Of course, his father wasn’t asking out of simple curiosity. Figuring out his true intention wasn’t difficult, but using such power on one’s parents was wrong. It was basically violating the basic decorum between parents and their children.
Thus, Seon-Hu contemplated for what felt like a long time even if it was just a brief second for his father. After a long pause, he made up his mind.
“If I wish to…”
His father was wiser than anyone else, so he trusted him. That was why he respected him so much.
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“...I am omnipotent, Father.”
His father’s eyes widened as if they were about to pop out. His nostrils flared, and an uncontrollable groan escaped from his mouth. His flinch was quite intense. The shock was palpable, even if he had somewhat antic.i.p.ated it.
Seon-Hu looked behind him, not knowing where to rest his anxious eyes. Yeon-Hee, who had returned from escorting his aunt and uncle, was standing there. More precisely, she was standing behind the front door.
“So, what are you going to do now?”
His father’s response was as subdued as the stifled sobs coming from the kitchen.
“Father. It is related to the stories I have not told you. I have been fighting for a very long time. I want to rest now. I don’t think I have anyone left to fight against, Father.”
‘A very long time.’ Such a phrase could be burdensome for both the speaker and the listener. However, Seon-Hu wanted to be honest as a son.
“That is why you said ‘if I wish.’”
“I want to go back to my everyday life back before the Stage of Advent.”
Surprisingly, his father responded immediately, “You have made the right decision. Everyone owes you. I am one of them despite being your father. No one can tell you what to do or not to do. But you would know better than anyone that the world does not work that way.”
He continued, “It is brutal, but people will demand more from you. They will dismiss the peace you have maintained and only express their own grievances. They will completely rely on you. That must be why you gave that speech. But listen, son.”
When Seon-Hu was about to open his mouth, his father gestured to him to stop talking. Then, he unfolded an old will that Seon-Hu had once written. Then, his finger pointed to a specific sentence.
「Father, Mother. I could only come this far because my loved ones were as dedicated to me as to themselves.」
“Jonathan, Kwon Seong-Il, Joshua, Lee Tae-Han, and Mary… They were with you all along, right?”
“They are truly grateful, but I envy them. Knowing how hard it must have been for you and not being able to help as a father…it weighs on my heart. What does it mean to be father and son? We are a family.”
“Please go on, Father.”
“You must have your thoughts, but you do not need to feel responsibility or burden. That is for us to deal with. So, if you allow me, I would…”
His father’s words trailed off.
Then, they heard his mother's voice, “Let’s eat.”
The enticing scent of kimchi stew wafted from the kitchen.
“Are you going to sleep here?”
“This is my home.”
“Then, there is no rush. We will talk over time. Let’s take a shot of soju. It has been so long since the last time we drank together.”
“If we don’t sit down soon after the meal is ready, it will be frustrating for your mom who prepared it. I know because I have prepared many meals.”
His father stood up first, and Seon-Hu spoke as he got up as well.
“There is someone I want to introduce to you.”
“The girl who was with you?”
“Yes, her name is Woo Yeon-Hee. She is known as Mary, and she is my comrade. Also…”
Strangely, Seon-Hu felt his heart race. His voice carried a trace of his nervousness.
“She is my girlfriend.”