After exiting Arena Stadium, Hyeonu ran to the parking lot with all his strength. Upon arriving at the parking lot, Hyeonu turned his head to search for a red vehicle.
‘Where did I park it?’
He was half-distraught and couldn’t remember properly. It was only after looking around for a long time that the red Panamera in one corner finally came into his view. Hyeonu quickly started the car. This was an urgent situation.
‘Father woke up.’
Hyeonu was now moving like a crazy person for a very simple reason: he heard that his unconscious father had woken up. After seeing Hyeonu’s smartphone ringing dozens of times in a short period of a few minutes, an employee of Nike had answered the phone and then told Hyeonu the content of the call.
Hyeonu stepped on the accelerator even harder. He wanted to get to the hospital faster.
‘The things that were blocked burst open all at once.’
The faster the car drove, the more Hyeonu’s heart opened up. Things had unraveled. His father had regained consciousness, and Hyeonu had defeated Jung Hanbaek in a humiliating manner in front of numerous people.
‘The last one’s the best.’
That moment when Jung Hanbaek fell to his knees and the last blow was dealt, Hyeonu had really felt like he was flying. He soon arrived at the hospital. The roads were very empty, and the location was close. Hyeonu parked his car in the hospital parking lot and ran. The sweat on his back had just cooled, yet he was running again.
‘Why isn’t it coming?’
He waited impatiently for the elevator. Today, the elevators moved too slowly.
In the time that seemed to have stopped, the elevator doors finally opened. Hyeonu quickly got on the elevator and pressed the button.
‘Is he up? Or... will he be lying down?’
Hyeonu imagined many things in a very short time, from his father’s welcome to what he shouldn’t do. His imagination came to an end when he met his mother standing in front of the elevator. “Mother.”
“Hyeonu, you’re here...” His mother greeted Hyeonu with a hoarse voice.
Although it was a very hoarse voice, the joy in it was clear.
“He has been sitting up since he heard you were coming. He won’t listen to me no matter how much I try.” His mother shook her head with an expression that said she couldn’t stop it. Hyeonu heard this and felt his face relax. The corners of his mouth were trembling and trying to rise up in a smile.
“So where are you going now?”
“I am going home for a while. Your father has woken up, so I need to grab what he needs. I have to bring them with my own hands.”
Hyeonu couldn’t say anything. He didn’t want to break the happiness visible in his mother’s eyes.
‘The caretaker... isn’t needed.’
“I understand. Mother, you can do whatever you want with the caretaker now since Father has woken up. Then I’ll go to see him.”
“Yes. It hasn’t been long since your father has woken up, so don’t be too loud, okay?” His mother warned Hyeonu.
Hyeonu nodded silently. He knew very well what his mother was worried about. Anyone who knew Hyeonu and his father in the past would be worried. Hyeonu knocked on the door of his father’s hospital room. A few weak knocks rang out.
Knock knock knock!
“Come... in,” a small voice giving permission spoke from inside the room. It was a weak and quiet voice, somewhat like that of a mosquito's buzzing.
“Dad, I’m here.” Hyeonu carefully opened the door. Inside the hospital room, he saw a man just lying on a half-tilted bed. The identity of the man was Hyeonu’s father. He greeted Hyeonu with his thin body by sitting up.
“You came? You... look a lot better?” These were the first words Gang Seokjun, Hyeonu’s father, said to Hyeonu.
“Yes, I’ve been exercising a lot. It is natural to look good. How much effort did I put in...” Hyeonu joked playfully.
“You didn’t do it when I asked you. Tsk. I raised such a child..”
Gang Seokjun hadn’t changed. There was nothing different from before. He was the same. No, rather, he acted more casually for Hyeonu's sake. Hyeonu knew this and behaved more like before.
“How are you the one who raised me? Mom raised me. You never came home properly because of the company...”
He held on firmly to his heart that felt like it was going to be torn apart. It seemed that if he let go even the slightest bit, his tears would fall immediately.
“Well... that is indeed the case. Good job, good job. You stood up firmly like this when I wasn’t around.”
Tears filled Hyeonu’s eyes. He couldn’t stand it any longer. Before he knew it, tears poured out like a waterfall.
“Why is a man crying? Don’t cry. Come over here and talk about it,” Gang Seokjun spoke with a smile to the tearful Hyeonu.
He didn’t want to see his son cry. This was a father’s heart.
Gang Seokjun continued, “I roughly heard about it. You’re a pro gamer? I knew you were good, but I didn’t expect it to be to this extent.”
“Whose son am I?” Hyeonu smiled without wiping away the tears flowing from his eyes. The situation he dreamed about was being completed little by little.
The hours passed by. It wasn’t until late at night that Hyeonu would finally leave the hospital.
The knot he’d carried with him all this time finally got resolved. The father and son talked a lot during those hours. It wasn’t an exaggeration to say that Hyeonu mentioned everything that happened after Gang Seokjun collapsed. The relationships Hyeonu developed during that time, the events and incidents that had occurred, and finally, today’s matter—Hyeonu mentioned all of it without reservation.
Gang Seokjun listened silently before telling Hyeonu in a warm voice, “Hyeonu, just go your own way. I’ll take care of the other things.”
However, Gang Seokjun’s eyes were very sharp, unlike his mouth that was smiling warmly.
‘Great. It’s great.’ Hyeonu felt comfortable when he saw it. He was relieved that his father was completely alert.
‘They must be waiting...’
After leaving the hospital, Hyeonu sped down an empty road to the dormitory where his team members would likely be waiting for him. His teammates must be confused since Nike wouldn’t casually reveal Hyeonu’s personal history. So it was very possible they were waiting for him at the dormitory with pride.
‘We have to at least eat in celebration.’
A red Panamera sped down the road with a harsh exhaust sound.
“Is everyone... well?”
The party was already in full swing when Hyeonu opened the door. They were gathered in the spacious living room, and there were alcoholic drinks, such as champagne and wine, as well as simple cheeses and crackers on the table while exciting music played.
Mason was the first to spot Hyeonu and let out a shout, “Uh? Hyung!”
The moment Mason shouted, the music stopped, and everyone’s eyes focused on Hyeonu. Yuri approached and asked, “Can I ask what happened?”
Hyeonu was troubled when he heard the words. Should he answer the question? He could either answer or refuse to do so. It was his choice.
‘I’ll just tell them.’ Hyeonu was about to open his mouth when someone stopped him from talking.
“Why are you asking that? It’s a personal matter. Shouldn’t we protect his privacy? No?” It was Yeongchan. He was close to the Crescent Moon players, so he was also attending today’s party.
‘It must be his father,’ Yeongchan thought. He clearly knew about Hyeonu’s circumstances. Hyeonu had nothing to hide from Yeongchan after all.
‘It must be good news based on his expression. It would be nice if his father woke up...’ Yeongchan didn’t know the details and only guessed the situation.
Hyeonu’s expression was bright, so it seemed that things weren’t bad. That was enough. After hearing Yeongchan’s words, Hyeonu changed his mind and shifted the topic of conversation: “We’ll talk next time. Today, let’s just drink and hang out! Aren’t we going to be practicing starting from tomorrow?”
He thought that he shouldn’t spoil today’s good atmosphere.
‘Next time. Next time there is a chance, I’ll tell them.’
Today was just a day to enjoy. It was a good day. Crescent Moon made a successful debut on the professional stage, and Hyeonu finally ended his personal revenge.
“Then let’s start with cheers! Grab a cup!” Hyeonu lifted a glass full of clear champagne. Everyone else also raised the glass of champagne above their heads.
JT Telecom was the opposite of Crescent Moon. The atmosphere over there was out of control. It was due to Jung Hanbaek, who entered his room and never came back out.
“I’m not sure either. You said this happened after he saw Alley Leader’s face?”
“Was his face so handsome that he broke?”
“No way. He might’ve been handsome, but... is it really because of that?” Do Jeonghyun cocked his head, wondering if this were really the case.
Kim Jinyong intervened between Do Jeonghyun and Yoo Bin and talked with his arms around their shoulders: “Don’t talk nonsense and eat. I ordered everything you wanted. Tell Hanbaek to come out and eat as well.”
The two of them pouted when they saw his murderous expression.
“I understand, Hyung. I’ll go call him. Just relax a bit. Why do you look so murderous?” Do Jeonghyun carefully removed Kim Jinyong’s arm from around his shoulder.
Then he and Yoo Bin moved to Jung Hanbaek’s room.
“Can I come in?”
Knock knock knock!
Do Jeonghyun carefully knocked on the door. A few seconds later, the door opened with a click. Jung Hanbaek stood in front of the open door with sunken eyes. He asked, “What is it?”
The two people were speechless for a moment by his seemingly distraught appearance. This man was so badly broken.
“Hyung, come out and eat together with us. There are a lot of your favorite things.”
“Yes, Hanbaek hyung. Come out and eat together with us. We didn’t lose today because of Hyung. You don’t have to blame yourself like this. We can win next time. It isn’t our first time losing anyway.”
“That’s right. Haven’t we lost once or twice before? So why? We should stand up with pride! It’s over if we collapse here. Wasn’t our original mindset that if we lost once, we would win next time? Right, Locke?”
“That’s right. Locke should do that. Right, Locke—no, Jung Hanbaek? JT Telecom’s best player?”
The two people’s words touched Jung Hanbaek so much that he was on the verge of tears. It wasn’t just talk. They grabbed Jung Hanbaek’s arms and pulled him out.
“Let’s eat and rest today. We can work hard again starting from tomorrow.”
Jung Hanbaek was forced out of his room. Everything was already ready by the time he came out to the living room. There was pizza, pig’s feet, fried chicken, boiled pork wraps, tteokbokki, kimbap, sundae, and so on—all the foods that could be delivered were gathered.
“Uh, Hanbae’s here? Then go ahead. Let’s eat now.” Kim Jinyong saw Jung Hanbaek appear and quickly moved his chopsticks.
‘Yes, I can’t collapse here. I can’t collapse like that time,’ Jung Hanbaek thought.
He murmured in a small voice, “I am Jung Hanbaek. I can’t collapse here.”
Then he lifted his chopsticks and started to eat.