In a room in a Dong-ha University hospital, Su-hyeun was changing his clothes as he was listening to his doctor.
“Please make sure to avoid any intensive exercise and come back if you feel sick again.”
“Thank you so much, doctor.”
Su-hyeun kept on buttoning his clothes. Beside Su-hyeun, Shin Su-yeong, his mother, thanked the doctor.
While they were talking, Su-hyeun looked out the window at the sight of the city beneath the hospital building and the blue sky above. With a flock of cumulus clouds slowly flying over the sky, the whole world seemed placid and peaceful.
“It’s rather awkward everytime I see it.”
It had been a month since he was hospitalized. For four weeks of recovery, he had looked out the window like this every day as he enjoyed the peaceful sight.
“This sight — it will be all gone by 2030. All that will remain is pictures and paintings.”
Everytime he checked his smartphone, he was surprised by the year and date.
Back in the past, in a different person’s body.
His death from the battle with Fafnir would occur more than 20 years later.
Now, there was only news of a monster and dungeon. The outbreak and the initial invasion of monsters had yet to happen.
“I’ve come back to the past.” However, not in Sung-in’s body, but Su-hyeun’s.
He took out a hand mirror from the drawer. He was slightly smiling.
“Why is he smiling?”
Since it wasn’t his face, Su-hyeun’s smile felt quite awkward. But, after about a month, he’d begun to acknowledge it as his own.
“Mom, please. Shall we go now?” he asked, stopping to look at Su-hyeun’s smile while his mother was still talking to the doctor.
“Wait a second. You should properly thank the doctor before you leave.”
“I’m so hungry for anything other than tasteless hospital food.”
“You want to eat out? I actually have to go back to work soon.”
For the past month, he had learned about his mother’s personality as he talked with her.
“In that case...”
“No, Mom. I want your delicious cooking,” he said, implying that her food was the most delicious in the whole world. And being so sweet paid off.
“Okay. If that’s the case, let’s hurry and go home. Goodbye, doctor.”
The doctor moved on to the next patient. As they were leaving the hospital, Sung-in snuck a peek at Shin Su-yeong.
“So this is Su-Hyeun’s mother.”
No, now she was his mother.
Though it was confusing at first, it wasn’t hard to accept as time passed. He was now quite attached to Shin Su-yeong.
She was quite different from his real mother in every way. She was so cheerful that it made him think maybe all mothers were supposed to be like her.
“I want nothing but for you to stay healthy.”
Comparing Shin Su-yeong, who wanted nothing but her son’s wellness —
“I believe you will do better than this.”
— to his previous mother, who wanted her son to be the best in every possible way, they were so different. He felt a huge discrepancy and awkwardness.
His previous mother was too cold, too strict. It wasn’t just because she wanted him to be a hero. From just this one month, he felt he had learned much more about his new mother than his old one.
Shin Su-yeong had come to see her son every day to check on him after work. She never forgot to do so even though she got tired from work.
Su-hyeun looked at his mother again, and their eyes meet.
“Why do you keep looking at me, Su-hyeun?”
“Nothing, Mom.” He nonchalantly turned to attention to his smartphone.
“Su-hyeun, I feel that you’ve changed.”
“You speak differently these days. More politely, I suppose.”
Right, that must be why she seemed a little taken aback when I first spoke to her in the hospital.
“You’re like a totally different person.”
“Well.” He wondered what he should say. “I’ve just decided to change.”
“Yeah.” He said whatever popped into his mind, but it was partly true because he was still Sung-in, not Su-hyeun. It was not possible to be like Su-hyeun completely, as he didn’t know what Su-hyeun was like to begin with.
Shin Su-yeong hugged him all of a sudden.
“Mom?” he asked, quite surprised. “What are you doing?”
“Su-hyeun?” She continued, “No matter how you change, you know I always love you.”
“Good. That’s all we need to know as long as you don’t do anything bad and we stay near each other.”
“Good. You’re the only one I care about.” She released him after she heard his answers.
“Actually, Mom. I need to go somewhere,” Su-hyeun said as he checked his phone.
“Where? You’re not 100% well.”
“I’ll be right back before dinner. You can go back to your work.” As he said this, he walked away.
“Then don’t be late.” Shin Su-yeong waved at him.
With Shin Su-yeong’s voice far behind him, he shook his head sideways.
“That always gives me goosebumps.”
He was still not used to his new mother’s affectionate expressions that sometimes came so suddenly. He wasn’t sure how to react to it.
Of course, he didn’t dislike it. Rather, it made him feel good.
“Right! I don’t have much time before dinner.” He planned to go back home before Shin Su-yeong came back from work; he didn’t want to make her worry.
Using his smartphone app, he navigated toward his destination, although it took him a long time. The place he arrived at turned out to be an alley inside a small residential area.
“Ah, finally you came.”
“That was so fast.”
Some guys in a shaded spot beckoned him to come near. All four of them were around Su-hyeun’s age.
“Are you guys the people I’ve been looking for?” Su-hyeun asked as he checked with his phone.
“What are you saying?”
“I guess I’m right.”
He checked a text message he got from a guy named Gwan Jang-hyeok.
—I heard you’ve been in a hospital.
—When are you coming back? I want to see you.
—I’m a little strapped for cash these days. Can you help?
—Are you f*cking ignoring me? Pick up your damn phone.
—You said you’re coming back today. I’m where we last met. Come right away, otherwise I’ll get you rehospitalized.
The text messages were all so mean. They didn’t seem to care if he called the police.
It wasn’t the first time, anyway. He could see how they bullied Su-hyeun.
He had learned from his mom that Su-hyeun dropped out of high school. Perhaps those guys were the main reason for that.
“Did you bring my money?”
So Su-hyeun was supposed to bring some money to them.
“Sure. I should also get rid of all the scumbags like you.”
“What the f*ck?”
“I can’t believe this.”
“Have you gone crazy?”
One of the guys nearest to Su-hyeun swung his fist.
Then, all of sudden, “AHH!”
Su-hyeun snatched his fist and twisted it. The man screamed, looking at his broken wrist.
“What the —?”
While the rest of them were caught off guard, Su-hyeun had already become aware of his surroundings. There were no passersby who could witness anything and no surveillance cameras. That was probably why they had called him here in the first place.
“Don’t worry. I’ll make it quick.” He walked toward the now frightened men.
It felt nice to beat up all the bullies who were now squirming in pain like worms.
That was easy.
It was nothing to him. He had been through much harder fights countless times before, as it was important for heroes to practice fighting in order to defeat monsters. Comparing this to those occasions, those four bullies did not have any special fighting skills; they were absolutely nothing.
Of course, Su-hyeun must have been the same as them, helpless and weak, but basic experience and insight made the huge difference.
He could tell how ruthlessly they must have tormented Su-hyeun, judging by all those evil text messages from them.
Just from those guys.
All he needed was a little bit of courage. Su-hyeun also could get help from law enforcement, but what appeared to work best for the bullies was a little bit of a lesson from Su-hyeun himself.
Su-hyeun threw the clubs and metal pipes right beside Gwan Jang-hyeok. Those weapons are all theirs.
“Yes.... Yes.... Sir.” Jang-hyeok was obviously terrified.
What a dumbass! You’d been bullied by those cowards for years during school?
“Tell me. Why did you bring all these pipes and weapons?”
“Well, that was just....” Su-hyeun could tell he was trying to give him an answer that would save himself.
“You were trying to kill me, right?”
Jang-hyeok went pale at his question.
“Then I suppose I can kill you too. Self-defense, you know. ”
As he said this, he picked up one of the metal pipes that was thrown beside him. He swung it toward Jang-hyeok’s head. As it almost landed on him. “Ahh, please save me!”
It just lightly tapped his head. At that moment, Jang-hyeok wet himself.
He was such a coward.
Su-hyeun leaned toward him. “If you do this again...”
Su-hyeun said this as he beat him on his forehead. He gave all of the others the same warning. He didn’t know how it would turn out, but surely, they had learned their lesson.
So, I got one out of the list.
As he walked out of the alley, he checked his phone. October 2018.
He thought about what he was doing in his former life around this time of year.
At that time, before he became a hero, he was just an ordinary college student.
He realized where to go next. Before he went back home, he needed to check his past life.
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