Chapter 130. < Compatriot. (3) >
Translator: thursdays Editor: Yahiko Pr: LightBrin
“Go, go! Cherish your relationship! It won’t do for the leading star of the romance who went down in Shinseo Middle-High School’s history to make his girlfriend wait!”
The Heretic Questioner basically kicked me out of the library. My head was blank. I didn’t know how to respond.
While I stood tongue-tied, the library door slammed shut.
The school was silent.
The gray granite floor of the corridor was slippery. When the sunset reflected on it, it was a shiny red. Nobody was walking in the hallway but me. Only calls of “Pass! Pass!” and the sounds of students kicking around a soccer ball in the distant schoolyard were present.
“Really, what’s going on…?”
I walked like I was sleepwalking.
『The student council president will probably be waiting at the school gate today!』
『You can’t make your girlfriend angry!』
I had never attended high school. However, I did go to middle school for about two years. I was familiar with the facilities of a school.
‘First, I’ll head to the gate.’
The columns and walls of the hallway were pale, painted with a light green. It wasn’t a pretty green either, just a bland color. Even the tacky, fake color seemed familiar.
‘Stairs. There should be a staircase nearby. Ah. Found it…?’
It was then. As I reached the stairs, I felt a presence. When I looked up because of the presence—
The stairs that led to the rooftop.
A student was standing right in front of the iron door.
He had a small frame. The student stared at the iron door that would not open. He was probably looking at the chains and the lock on the doorknob. The student seemed to notice my presence as well, and our eyes met.
It was a face I was seeing for the first time.
The student dropped his head, then silently walked down the stairs past me.
While he passed, I saw the child’s uniform collar. The white collar was stained with dirt. It smelled familiar to me. It was the smell of poverty. Of course, I only caught a glimpse.
The student disappeared down the hall.
[Behaving properly ♪]
[Living joyfully ♪]
[With a happy heart ♪]
A poster with a flashy motto hung in the stairs where the student had stood. The words were pointless, saying nothing about anything. Rather than words, they were a failure.
The poster was hideous.
As if desperately trying to hide its uselessness, the slogan’s font and color were cute. It wasn’t until a long time later that I came to my senses.
“…Yeah. I should leave, too.”
I arrived at the school gate.
A black limousine was parked in front of the gate.
Wait a moment.
Let me explain what I just saw. I went down the ordinary stairs and crossed the ordinary schoolyard to reach what should have been an ordinary school gate.
But what was this? There was a super high-end black limousine, one you’d only see in movies, parked in front of the school gate.
“Mm. You’re a little late today.”
And the person dearest to my heart stood by the limousine.
“It’s a lovely evening, Gongja,” my love said calmly.
“Now that I’ve seen your face, the sunset is even more beautiful. The sunset’s glow must have become red to match the color of your cheeks.”
There were students on the field who hadn’t gone home yet. Students playing on the basketball court, students taking short walks before going to self-study, and students kicking around a ball on the soccer field. They all stopped whatever they were doing to look our way.
“Look over there. That sunbae…”
“Oh, that’s the one dating the daughter of the chaebol family…”
“I’m friggin’ jealous…”
“The public confession at the festival…”
This was crazy.
“What’s wrong, Gongja? Your dopey expression is a part of your charm, but you look seriously confused now. Have you decided to develop a new kind of appeal?”
“Raviel… Raviel, you’re from a chaebol family?”
My head felt woozy. What was this crazy trauma trying to show me? Was it giving me the gift of Raviel wearing a school uniform? Should I take a picture? And preserve it for the ages? Was there a way to bring photos taken inside a trauma back to reality?
“You’re saying something weird… Boyfriend. I was born into a chaebol family, and of course, I continue to live as a member of a chaebol family.”
This was crazy.
Raviel called me her boyfriend.
She called me boyfriend!
What do I do? Should I film this? Record her voice? I should film it, right? Can the science and technology of the modern era transfer a video recorded in a trauma to reality? What were the scientists doing? Why were they neglecting their duties?
“R-Raviel. Sorry, but how old are you now?”
“…I’m a second-year student at Shinseo High.”
“Butler, book a psychiatrist right now. My boyfriend seems to be suffering from a light case of amnesia. As for the answer to the question, you are, of course, in the same grade as me, Boyfriend.”
“Ahh, to meet Raviel while we’re in high school… Being able to spend my youth with Raviel. What is this? This is… Isn’t it too great of a blessing…? I’m the happiest man in the world…”
“Butler, cancel the appointment. My boyfriend is acting as usual.”
We had a brief, romantic moment in front of the school gate. It was a happy time. There were shrieks in the schoolyard, but I didn’t pay them any mind. Based on what the Heretic Questioner said, we two were an official couple at school.
“Even if we are reborn in a different world, I will always love you, Raviel…”
“I have loved you from the past life and will love you in my next. For me, love’s name will always be replaced by three syllables—Kim Gongja. But first, we need to live in this present life. Get in the car. I’ll take you home.”
To me, home meant the orphanage. Was Raviel taking me to the orphanage, then? No, this [trauma world] was clearly different from [the outside world] in reality. I never went to high school. I hadn’t ever heard of a place called Shinseo High.
What would my home here be like?
“Something big happened at your house yesterday, didn’t it?”
Raviel said, getting inside the limo. The inside of the limousine was comfortably spacious. However, the two of us purposefully snuggled up next to each other, sitting side by side.
“Sorry? Something big?”
“Oho. Are you saying you don’t care about it? Well, my boyfriend has always hated talking about him. Of course, I hate it too… Still, family is family. Tell your mother and father not to worry because I took care of it. No, it’ll be better if I told them myself.”
I didn’t know what she was talking about. I thought that some incident had happened and Raviel covered it up. But the words that had shaken me were the words [mother] and [father].
When I was a child, I had called the orphanage director my father. I had also called an older girl who had come to volunteer my mother. However, that was only because of the ignorance and mischief of children.
The parents Raviel were talking about… probably weren’t like that.
‘In this world, I have a home and I have parents.’
It was somewhat disconcerting.
‘Raviel gave me an adoptive father for a day during the wedding, but…’
I was happy then. However, it was a happiness that someone I loved gave me, and it would disappear if I indulged in it.
But now, these were parents who had existed and would continue to exist as such.
‘I don’t even know what to feel…’
The limousine stopped. Through the window, I saw a small, shabby, single-family house. It was an old house in an old neighborhood.
And in front of the house was a rough-looking man sweeping with a broom.
The long-haired man grinned.
“Kyaah. Your girlfriend gave you a ride in a limo, hmm? Our son’s got some good luck. It’s all thanks to my looks that you inherited. You should respect your father, who made it so you always look handsome!”
It was the Sword Emperor.
I was briefly woozy again.
“Have you been well, Father?”
“Oh. Please, don’t lower your head. Young lady, a precious person like you shouldn’t bow your head to a guy like me. Anyway, was my son rude to you? This kid’s got a good heart, but his disposition’s a bit cuckoo…”
“It’s all right. I treasure every part of Gongja.”
“Keh. How is it that everything you say is so sweet? Hey! Hey! Kim Gongja, you rascal! Get on your knees and bow. If you ever mistreat this young lady, you’ll be disowned. Got it? Straight away. I’ll erase you from our family tree!”
Raviel and Bae Hu-ryeong were speaking warmly to each other.
The sight of them conversing—it existed here.
I almost passed out.
Raviel easily caught my body.
“Gongja is acting rather strange today, Father. He asked me about my age earlier.”
“That kid has always been weird. When he was five… Ah. Do you want to stay for dinner? I cooked some amazing cockles today.”
“Yes. I won’t refuse.”
“You’re such a charming lady! Gongja, what are you doing? Why aren’t you kneeling yet? Should I do it for you?”
We went inside.
“Welcome back, Gongja.”
Master was sitting on the sofa, reading a newspaper.
“How was school, my son?”
“Oho? You even brought your girlfriend home. Welcome, Miss Ban Siah.”
“Please call me Raviel, Mother. I prefer using my foreign name.”
“Is that so? Hmm, I see. The customs of children these days are complex.”
“Honey, you haven’t realized? Do you think Gongja has the guts to invite the lady to our house? I invited her. I lured her with my shellfish side dish.”
“Ah, of course. Darling, you’re right. It was unbecoming of me to expect such a side to our son. Since the doenjang soup is finished boiling, let’s…”
-We will continue to report about the popular singer, Yoo Sooha.
An announcer’s voice flowed out of the TV in the living room.
-In the incident that shocked many people yesterday, this image shows the singer Yoo Sooha assaulting someone. But this morning, a report came, saying the picture had been manipulated. Surprisingly, it was a confession from the one who released the video.
I stared at the television screen in a stupor. On the screen, there was a photo ID of a handsome man with a long ponytail.
-The informant said, ‘I reported him as a joke, but I didn’t think this would blow up. I sincerely apologize to those who were shocked and hurt by my actions’…
Pictures of Preta and the Golden Silk also popped up on the screen. With that, the photos of the Flame Emperor, Preta, and the Golden Silk were side by side.
-Estel and Sylvia, members of his group, have refrained from making official statements.
There was a video of the singers dancing. The Golden Silk sang as Preta and the Flame Emperor danced.
-However, like the concert in 10 days that was canceled, the group’s activities will likely be postponed for some time.
This was crazy.
Wasn’t it crazy?
Did I go crazy?
I said, isn’t this fucking crazy?!
Master nodded slightly and put down the newspaper. She looked at Raviel with earnest eyes.
“We have a lot to talk about at dinner. Gongja, fetch your brother. It’s been a while, so let’s all eat together. Is that all right with you, Miss Raviel?”
Brother? Not only did I have a mother and father, but I also had an older brother?
“Brother… Where is he?”
“He’s in your room.”
Master turned her head toward a door. I felt some unshakable fear. My father was Bae Hu-ryeong. Mother was Master. Then, who would act as my older brother?
Carefully, slowly, I opened the door.
A man lay in bed, munching on potato chips. He was reading a rented comic book in one hand. Seeing me, the man casually waved with his potato chip-stained hand.
“Long time to see. Fuck, dude. Did you see the news, too? Huh? Your big bro got fucked over yesterday. Ah, really. I kept being stalked, so I got annoyed and threw a punch, but I got caught. My career as a singer almost ended.”
It was the Flame Emperor.
I blacked out.
“I’m glad the fucker lost his nerve this morning. Phew, I got scolded by Mom… Huh? Hey? Are you okay? Your face is pale. Kim Gongja? Hey, kiddo. Did you lose your mind? Why are you fucking swaying all of the sudden…”
I jumped on the bed.
“Die! Die! Die, you maniac!”
“Y-you bastard, are you nuts? Hey, calm down!”
“You think I’ll calm down when you just called Master ‘Mom,’ you fucker? Die! Die and apologize to Master!”
“What sort of bullshit… No, wait, fuck? S-since when did you get this strong… Hick, eup, kuugh!”
I strangled Yoo Sooha. From the bottom of my heart, let’s accept that Bae Hu-ryeong was cast as my father. I will never accept it in reality, but let’s say that he is. But this guy as my blood brother? This guy, this psychopath, as my brother?
Yoo Sooha coughed and screamed.
“Gongja is hitting me! Mom!”
I was gonna go mad.