"Does your system messages looks like a projection of an alert-like hologram similar to that superhero movie we watched the other night?" Jin Woo added a more thorough description and drew a similar image on a piece of paper. Humming curiously to myself, the similarities are uncanny and he asked why I suddenly took interest on the system's prompts.
I'm not sure if I need to tell him about my very own rewards message and if it will cause him to question the system itself. Possibly angering it. So I made an excuse and told him a somewhat pitiful story. He didn't believe it at first but Jin Woo never asked any additional inquiries but his gaze became analytical to an extent.
As what I already knew and from my brother's smug expression whenever I tried to lie, I'm very bad at it. Thankfully my hunter's attention was diverted when I made an inquiry about something else.
Arriving in the Korean Hunters Association building, Jin Woo went up to see the Chairman. I recalled what my brother told me during breakfast and went to the gymnasium to check on Hae In and Yoon Ho-oppa. I promised to wait for him near the entrance.
Ah. Yoon Ho-oppa seems to be having fun while the Japanese Hunters are standing on one corner. Goto Ryuji once again saw me and was about to approach me when an arm protectively tugged me within an embrace. Claiming me.
I felt a sense of relief and smiled in response to Jin Woo's 'possession' while the Chairman is curiously observing our interaction. "Sorry if I didn't went up to see you, Chairman Go. My brother told me about the practice so I rushed over here as soon as we arrived…" Waving my concerns off, Go Gun Hee patted my head like I was a child and smiled congenially. Jin Woo remained glued to my side as if fending off unwanted attention. I pinched him to calm the growl that started to emanate from his chest. Not that it helped.
When the two groups started playing tag, Jin Woo intervened when one of the Japanese Hunters started to go berserk after Hae In's attack. It then escalated to a one-on-one match against my hunter and Japan's Goto Ryuji. The gymnasium suffered considerable damages.
After Jin Woo's attempt to rile the Japanese hunter up, Yoon Ho-oppa and Hae In feared for the worst and stopped my hunter's own attack with a bit of difficulty while Mr. Goto was held by three of his hunters.
I approached quickly and took his hand after the two releases their hold. I can sense the relief in Jin Woo's eyes when I touched him. I prompted his special buff ability to take immediate effect to heal the graze on his cheek. Making a quick eye contact to my other two favorite hunters, I dragged him away after giving the Chairman a hasty excuse while ignoring the rest. I can still feel the foreign hunter's scrutinizing eyes behind my back.
"I'm sorry to be a bother… but can I stay here temporarily?" Surprised to see me that morning, Jin Woo led me inside their home without any questions. "My brother is being an idiot."
Mrs. Park gave me an understanding smile and asked Jin Ah to clean up her room for my stay. I volunteered just the same despite the teen's objections whispering to me that it's all for show knowing that her oppa will probably bring me into his room later that night. Blushing, I told her that we won't be doing anything of that sort since their mother is already here.
Laughing at my baffled expression, Jin Ah also added that I can call Mrs. Park 'mom' now that Jin Woo and I are going steady.
The atmosphere was solemn after I told Jin Woo what happened. How my brother decided to go and participate in the Jeju Island subjugation. He knew that I will never blame him for his decision not to take part (as that is what I would want myself) but my oppa is another matter.
Byeong Go and I had a fight because of it when I tried to stop him from going but he was very persistent. I can still see the fear in his eyes. He said that he wanted to protect me too which is why he needs to go. And that he couldn't let his Yoon Ho-hyung and Hae In on their own without a healer. That his participation is going make a difference.
So when it started, I was trembling non-stop and Jin Woo held my body close to comfort me. To give me strength.
After their new enemy appeared, swatted Hae In like a fly, toyed with everyone and went straight for my brother, I mentally shrieked at him to evade and move his sorry ass somewhere else or he's going to be killed.
I can even feel Yoon Ho-oppa's terror from where I am.
In doing so, I may have used a considerable amount of mana for my voice to reach him causing me to cough out blood. Jin Ah shouted out alarmingly while Mrs. Park gently cradled my hunched form. I saw Jin Woo freeze from my peripheral. But before I can beg for his help, he disappeared without his family noticing.
And I think I knew where he went.
When the live broadcast resumed (they were still able to show how my brother's arm was bitten before they cut it off… damn them!) I immediately saw various creatures decked in black armors and flame-like smoke. Jin Woo's Shadow Soldiers began their assault and the rest of the hunters are led to a safe corner with Yoon Ho-oppa's quick maneuvering.
Byeong Go looks pale because of the blood loss but otherwise alive (thank God) when the voices started to clear out and we finally heard what they're talking about.
It was then Jin Woo answered my brother's inquiry why he was there and my tears started to fall as the whole of Korea (and quite possibly the whole world) learned about our relationship.
"If something happens to you," Jin Woo also turned to look at every hunter upon that claim as if including them in his statement. "My Jeong Hui will lost her smile. And I don't want to see her sad… so… I will do everything in my power to make sure she stays happy… always."
Hearing those words, I fell on my knees and cry. Mrs. Park motioned for Jin Ah to get a glass of water from the kitchen and she led me back to the sofa while holding me tight.
"Everything is going to be alright, hush now…"
It was as if she's giving us her blessings. Within her arms, I suddenly recall the time my own mother held me in hers.
My emotions… chaotic.
It was late that night when I received a call from my brother. That they arrived back safely with Yoon Ho-oppa while Hunter Cha Hae In is now out of danger. I may have reacted badly because of his nonsensical tone but he laughs out in response to my nagging. He promised to see me tomorrow so he asked me to stay for a while longer at Jin Woo's place for the meantime. Not that he have given us his blessings. Not yet official anyway as he insisted repeatedly.
Seems like he wanted to say something else so I assured him that everything is going to be fine and that I'll see him tomorrow. Our prior disagreement… forgotten.
I then felt Jin Woo behind me and I couldn't stop myself from lunging towards him. Tears started to fall as I held him tight. Burrowing myself into his arms while I mutter how thankful I am for his help… that because of him, my brother is alive and safe. That Byeong Go will continue to be an annoyance and that he will probably never give us his blessings.
Laughing when he heard my complaints, Jin Woo added that I shouldn't thank him because he is also worried for my brother… or rather everyone from the Korean Raid Team and it is somewhat his responsibility knowing that he can do something about it.
The bruise from that ant's punch is already fading yet I couldn't stop myself from touching his face.
"Jeong Hui…" He asked me to stop knowing that I haven't fully recovered yet. But I told him that it's alright. Now that the dangers are past, we shouldn't have to think about my condition.
I fell asleep in his arms while he held me tight.
Though it wasn't a dreamless sleep as I first thought and Jin Woo took me further within his embrace as I cried silently. He then showed me my brother from one of his soldier's eyes. His arm is fully regenerated and that he's sleeping soundly for the first time in all the Jeju Island raids he participated in. Perhaps it's because Hae In is sleeping a few beds away? Yoon Ho-oppa is still awake while reading a book and Choi Jong In is talking with Hunter Mah Dong Wook. Hunter Lim Tae Gyu arrived minutes later with a tray of refreshments.
"We can go there now if you like?"
Shaking my head, I knew that I'll see my brother tomorrow. So I told him that it's fine.
"Will this be okay?" I gestured our current position. I'm currently wearing his old shirt and Jin Ah's pajama bottom. "Your mother might say something…"
Chuckling quietly, he tucked me under his bedcover and observes my flushed reaction after he kissed me on my forehead with a palm cradling his head. "Mom adores you… and Jin Ah may have already ratted me out. She said that I am too slow for someone of my caliber and that I should do things right as she wanted to make everything official for the two of us."
Questioning him for that statement, Jin Woo kissed me softly in the corner of my lips and hummed in contentment. "I'll tell you all about it tomorrow. For now, sleep…"
His presence did help especially when he placed me over him and led me where I can hear his heartbeat. It gave me a sense of comfort. A sense of security. That we're still okay and together.
I'm not going anywhere…
I know… because of that, I love you more.
As I love you… always and forever…
A few days after the successful subjugation, a memorial was held for all those that lost their lives in the Jeju Island dungeon break.
Many came and it was televised around the world.
When it was our turn to make an offering, I heard whispers behind our back. Despite what Jin Woo did, many criticized him. If only he participated early on, the Japanese wouldn't have lost many of her hunters including Goto Ryuji.
Most say that what my hunter did wasn't enough.
Glaring at these people, I let them feel my displeasure by making the surrounding mana feel heavy.
Jin Woo squeezes my hand and shook his head. He admitted that everything was partly his fault so he wouldn't take it against these people. And that my opinion is all that matters and no one else's. So their words didn't bother him at all.
After the ceremony, Chairman Go Gun Hee talked to Jin Woo so I walked away in a respectable distance to give them privacy. I also noticed someone that doesn't seem to belong. As their intent isn't malicious, perhaps they are visitors who are related to one of the victims. Or a member of the foreign press.
On our way home, it was then we were approached by the same man (an American named Adam White) who invited my hunter for a brief talk.
Norma Selner couldn't believe her eyes upon gazing on their target's companion.
A young woman whose abilities surpasses her own.
And yet because of her duties, she couldn't deny the need to entice this young man to their side. Of what they can offer and more.
Perhaps along with him, this woman will come as well.
But Sung Jin Woo terrified her when she looked into his eyes. She discovered that the said hunter has no limits thus what they can offer is of no use. Because… he is already a King.
Michael Connor is astounded especially when she informed him about what happened when she failed to tempt him.
And then there's the woman.
"Are you certain?"
She nodded and told him about the information she acquired from an old acquaintance of hers about Min Jeong Hui and how their Korean counterparts are proactively protecting her existence.
"We have to tell the Director…"
Jin Woo was quiet but he couldn't stop looking at me. Thankfully, the traffic gave him the opportunity to do so and I don't think it would be a problem even if it wasn't.
"I don't think they knew. But the woman… I think she felt it. What I am…" I sighed and played with my fingers while busying myself with the scenery. He took my hand and kissed the insides of my wrist. With a determined look, he promised that he won't let anyone touch me. Not even a single strand of my hair.
Looking at it from the mirror, I see silvery strands starting to show themselves. Seems like the hair dye is no longer working.
"You also don't need to hide anymore, Jeong Hui." Surprise etching my features, he saw right thru me. How I dislike the precautions imposed on me to hide my powers from the world. "I'll always protect you." I grinned in response and joked that in doing so, it will prevent him from going to the United States and accepting their offer.
His eyes glinted playfully and answered indulgently. "America doesn't have you… so I'm not interested at all." He did pause and added that he's just curious about the woman, the Upgrader. And that he would rather go to the System's instant dungeons, penalty zones and local raids than leave Korea for something that is already attainable and who they cannot offer - me.
"Perhaps I worry over nothing." He smiled and dragged me closer and put his arms around me. I leaned back and sighed contently while our fingers intertwined placing it on top of my chest as he affectionately nuzzled the top of my head.
The traffic itself doesn't seem troublesome for whatever reason as we enjoyed each other's company. It was then Chairman Go Gun Hee called and told us about an A Rank gate that suddenly appeared in the middle of the skyway.
Ah. The cause of the traffic.
I asked if it will be alright for Jin Woo to close the gate on his own, the old man laughed and assured us that its fine. As one of his conditions (I glared sharply at him and he responded with a sly smirk), the Association will do what they can to help Hunter Sung Jin Woo establish his new guild without any problems. It will also be a test run for Ahjin Guild and its Guild Master.
Arriving at the location of the gate (we strolled as if we are walking at a park during our usual setup whenever he took on his daily quests), it is as huge as the Red Gate from before. The Association employee won't even let Jin Woo thru so he called the Chairman to verify our claim.
And before I can sneak into the gate, he stopped me with a disapproving look.
"I won't take long. So stay here, okay?"
Pouting, I gave him a look that my brother or even Yoon Ho-oppa cannot resist. But he safely diverted his eyes away and gently tapped my nose with a finger. Jin Woo suddenly had this look. A sure way plan to stop me from my attempt to follow him inside the gate, so he approach me quietly and then took my face in both hands and then he kissed me in front of everyone (some may have taken a photo or two… not that I noticed but Jin Woo certainly did). With a wink, he gave me a tight hug and went thru the gate. And as his infamous luck would have called it, the A Rank gate turned into a red one.
"Miss Min? Will Hunter Sung be fine on his own?" The Association employee asks nervously as we both gaze on the gate in front of us who politely ignored the public display of affection Jin Woo showed to everyone (I can even see the questions in her eyes). For that I am thankful. She also wanted to know if she needs to call for backup.
I sighed and patted her shoulders reassuringly and went to sit on one of the barricades littering in the area.
I'm sure he'll be fine.
I did not notice it earlier but people started to show up beyond the restricted tapes thinking that they are here for a closer look at the Red Gate.
But then I received a text from Hae In while Yoon Ho-oppa called and asked me what is going on between me and Jin Woo. Seems like what he did minutes ago has already been uploaded somewhere and viewed a hundred thousand times and counting. Huh?
It was then Byeong Go's shrill voice rang out loud and furious after taking the phone from oppa who reacted outrageously from the background.
"Min Jeong Hui! Your face is on social media! What the hell?! Just because he saved my life doesn't mean I gave him the permission to kiss you in public! That son of the b-…!"
I abruptly ended the call while blushing profusely.
All I want to do at that time is wish for the ground to swallow me whole. The Association employee watches sympathetically from the sidelines while ignoring her own phone that continues to receive incoming calls one after the other.
Oh Jin Woo… did you plan it all along? What are we going to do now?
Her brother might skin her hunter alive. And Yoon Ho-oppa will probably help him including Choi Jong In. Oh dear.