69 – Earthly Affairs – 2
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...Fine. One more time. First of two chapters for being number one on trending again. :sweat: You guys are a bit too excited to get the story trending first three times in one week...

1/2

After finishing up my food, I checked my phone.

Maldong had texted me sometime during my meal. Nothing much, just a brief 'Message received' and a reminder to go check out the good pork belly place.

I thought about heading there in a while, but decided to swing back at my apartment first to check on Flone. It wouldn't be good to leave her around all day.

So, after gathering up my stuff, I left the café and returned home. Nothing unusual happened along the way... though I noticed that I was getting more looks than usual. Probably had something to do with my upgraded physique and 'air' now that I broke through the limits of being human.

...Which was a slightly disturbing fact to acknowledge, but nothing too important. At least, not to deal with right now.

Anyway, I headed back like that. Unlocking the door to my apartment, I walked in and said, "I'm back Flone." I closed the door behind me and said, "Anything happen since I was gone?"

"Oh!" Flone's voice echoed from my bedroom and then she walked out from it. "You're back already, Jihu? I thought you'd be gone longer. You don't have to hold back on my part, you know?"

I took off my dress shirt and tossed it to the side. After that, I turned to Flone and said, "I know. But I can't help but check in on my dear Flonnie."

Flone giggled and then shook her head. "And that's how you're going to get into trouble later, Jihu. Honestly. You'll be in a lot of trouble if your other girls think you chose me first."

I coughed and then took a look around.

It seemed that Flone made herself comfortable in my absence. I noticed a few plates lying around with cookie crumbs, as well as some sodas.

Still...

"Were you hungry?" I frowned and said, "Should I have left some food behind for you?"

Flone rolled her eyes. "You worry too much, Jihu. I'm fine, really. Besides, I'm a ghost, remember?"

I walked over and lightly tapped her head. "You're human, silly. And even if you technically don't need food, you should still eat." I glanced at the abandoned dishes and frowned. "But come to think of it, I'm going to be pretty busy too..."

I would love to show Flone around and everything, but I had a lot to take care of on this side. Especially with how Seora's sister had acted in the war.

Not that I minded having Flone around. In fact, I was always more relaxed and happy with her nearby... but she wasn't the most discreet individual. Both in terms of appearance and in terms of personality, as shown by her reaction with Jinhee...

Jinhee?

"Jihu?" Flone tilted her head and looked at me.

"Argh..."

I hesitated.

On one hand, I wanted to spend time with Flone and show her around. But if I did that, I wouldn't have the time to prepare for other things. At least, not as much as I needed.

Not only that, but things would get inconvenient if I was seen around with such a beautiful woman all the time.

I already drew enough attention by myself, but if I was out with Flone too... Not to mention that Seora's sister would definitely recognize us. And THAT would put things way too ahead of schedule.

But Flone couldn't just stay inside all the time. Not only would I get weird looks from my neighbors, but it wasn't fair for her.

"...Hah. Guess I've got no choice."

Flone frowned. "Jihu. If it's too much trouble for me staying here-"

I waved my hand. "It's not. I just should have made better plans before coming back."

Like get Yuhui to take Flone around. I didn't have her number though, and while I 'could' get it with Transcendent Insight, that would lead to a round of questions I wasn't up to answering.

That, or a misunderstanding on her part that I also didn't want to deal with.

So...

"...Did you want to hang out some more with my family, Flone?"

"Hm?" Flone blinked and then her eyes lit up. Clasping her hands together, she smiled and said, "I do! Can I?"

I pulled out my phone and said, "It'll be a bit much for Mom and Dad... especially since things are still awkward with Seonhwa. But since Jinhee already knows..."

I decided to bite the bullet and made a call.

"Oppa?"

"Heya, Sis. I've got a business proposal for you..."

xxx

Jinhee stared at me from across my kitchen table. "So let me get this straight, Oppa. You want me to hang around your place and spend time with Unni while you go flirt around with other women?"

I groaned and said, "I'm not flirting around with other women."

"But you *are* going to meet with some other women. Aren't you?"

"...Maybe?"

Jinhee sighed and turned towards Flone. "Are you sure that you want a guy like this, Unni? Oppa's cool and all... but you know that he's going to be wrapped up in situations like this a lot."

Flone giggled. "It's fine, Jinhee. I know how Jihu is. And I said it before. I don't mind." She turned towards me and winked. "After all, Jihu's too much for one woman to handle."

Jinhee blinked and then turned to give me a blank look.

I felt my ears heat up and then said, "Oi! Flone! Stop saying things that will cause people to misunderstand!"

Flone tilted her head and said, "But didn't you say that I didn't last long enough for you? That's why you got Yuhui and Sora to join in before, right?"

Jinhee's blank look slowly shifted into one of confusion, amazement... and then judgment. Harsh judgment. "Oppa..."

I felt a headache starting and sighed. "It's not like that, Jinhee. It's just..." I paused, trying to find a way to explain without actually spilling the beans about me training my superhuman abilities.

Jinhee sighed. "Never mind. I don't want to know what sorts of crazy kinks or things you get into with Unni. But just try to be a bit faithful, alright?"

"Again, you're misunderstanding our relationship-"

"So you're saying you're just Unni's friend with benefits?"

"...I forgot how annoying siblings are." I muttered and rubbed the bridge of my nose.

Flone laughed. "Stop teasing him, Jinhee. Jihu's already got enough on his mind."

Jinhee smirked and then said, "Fine, fine. Oppa's not the sort of guy to play around like that anyway... Even if his ex was."

I sighed. "I told you that already, didn't I? It's not like I'm some rabid womanizer who goes around- Wait." I blinked and said, "My ex? You mean Seonhwa? What about her?"

Jinhee scoffed and crossed her arms. "Nothing. And you don't need to deal with a hussy like that who found another guy so quickly anyway."

"...I think you're misunderstanding something again, Jinhee. Despite everything, Seonhwa's not that type of-"

"Says you!" Jinhee huffed and said, "She's been out of contact all the time recently too! And when I asked her employees about where she's gone, they said it was to take care of her man! She's the one who left you in the first place, and now she's running around with another guy when you're-" She bit her tongue and then turned her head to the side.

...Yeah. Jinhee was seriously misunderstanding something here.

From what she said, it seemed like Seonhwa had been making preparations too... Probably to help me out, judging from recent events.

Though objectively... Yeah, it would seem fishy.

It was pointless to try and clear that up with Jinhee though... She seemed to have gotten a bit more stubborn recently after the incident.

Or maybe that was because she was just more worried about me?

I didn't know for sure, but either way, it wasn't worth trying to change her mind. So I changed the subject instead.

"Anyway, I'll give you my card and a spare set of keys to the place. I'm going to be busy for a while, so feel free to use this place as your own in the meanwhile. All I ask is that you help guide Flone around and teach her how things work around here. She's from..." I paused, thinking about where to describe her. "...Far away overseas."

"Fine." Jinhee nodded. "I guess this is a better place to write anyway. Won't have to deal with Mom and Dad nagging about me finding a job or a boyfriend while I'm here."

I glanced at Flone. "Sorry about all of this."

Flone shook her head. "Don't worry, Jihu! I understand. Besides..." She looked at Jinhee and said, "There's a lot I want to talk about with Jinhee."

"Mmhm..." Jinhee's eyes lit up and she said, "There's a lot I want to talk with Unni about too."

I sensed danger. Not real danger, but the sort of premonition that embarrassment was heading my way in the near future. That and lots of misunderstandings.

But it was better that than real danger, so...

"...Should I just leave you guys to it then?"

"Hm?" Flone looked up and said, "Do you have to go somewhere, Jihu?"

"Yeah. There's a place that Coach wanted me to check out... And I also wanted to check up on it in person too."

If it was the same one that I was thinking of... It would be good to drop by and see how she was doing.

"Oh, Grandpa Maldong?"

"Yeah. Not sure how long I'll be out though... I might go check in with someone else too."

If Seora was free, it'd be a good time to meet up with her as well.

Jinhee frowned. "Grandpa Maldong? Coach?"

"It's a long story, Jinhee... I'll tell you about it when our big project's done."

"...Hah." She let out a weary sigh and waved her hand. "Just go do whatever you need to, Oppa. I'll take care of Unni here. But we're definitely going to use up your money. I hope you're prepared."

I chuckled and said, "As long as you two are safe, fed, and happy, that's fine."

Flone blushed. "Jihu..."

Jinhee's ears turned red as well and then she reached out to punch me. "Idiot. Save that for when it's just you and Unni!"

I laughed and waved. "Alright. Stay safe then... Ah. And Flone, make sure to not go overboard if things get dicey when you go out with Jinhee. Or if you get irritated."

Flone nodded. "Got it, Jihu! I'll just leave them half-dead then instead of dead dead!"

"E-Eh?" Jinhee blinked. "U-Unni?"

I sighed. "...I'm leaving. Stay safe."

Silently praying to any god that was listening that things wouldn't blow up, I made my way out the door towards the pork belly restaurant Maldong wanted me to visit.

xxx

"This place again, huh?" I stared up at the restaurant that Maldong wanted me to visit.

It was familiar. After all, I had just been there with Jinhee the last time I was back on Earth.

"Good Pork Belly Place... The name's just as on the nose as I remembered it."

The restaurant was located just a few blocks away from the subway exit by Hongik university. The same university with the gym that I used to go practice at.

"...Oh yeah. I wonder how Yuri's doing?"

I hadn't seen that girl for a while now. Considering how she hadn't texted me though, it seemed like she might be busy with things. Knowing her personality, probably her parents nagging her to do something productive with her life.

I chuckled at the thought and then glanced back at the restaurant.

It was late. Sorting things out with Jinhee had taken longer than expected, and by the time I arrived at the restaurant, the sun was already starting to set. Maybe since it was a weekday, there weren't that many people around.

Peering through the window into the shop, I could only see a few customers inside. Probably the regulars.

"Did Coach want me to check up on her...?"

If my hunch was right, and if my memories from Seol's time lined up, then Sora should be working here.

I didn't know for sure, but since I was here already, I decided to walk inside.

A bell rang, and a waitress walked over to greet me. "Welcome!" A bright and cheery voice called out, matched with a big smile. "Is it just one today?"

It wasn't the same as the one who greeted me and Jinhee last time. But I recognized her.

It was hard not to, considering the fact that her corpse had been dangling in front of my eyes the last time I saw her.

The waitress... No, the young priestess who desperately asked me to save Sora last time. She stood before me and tilted her head. "Sir?"

I shook my head. "Sorry about that. I just remembered something... But yes, it's just me."

The waitress smiled. "Right this way then." She led me to a table and then said, "What would you like to eat?"

"Some pork belly and rice would be good."

"Got it! Anything to drink?"

"Just water's fine."

"Okay! I'll be right back!" After writing some notes down, the waitress left, heading into the kitchen.

I watched her leave, contemplative.

Was it because Sora made it back in time? That waitress was definitely the dead priestess I saw back in Paradise. But she didn't seem to be suffering any aftereffects from the death penalty. Or if she was, she was being taken care of well.

Either way, it seemed that girl was doing well. I didn't know how she ended up originally or how she was supposed to end up... but I was happy that Sora wouldn't have to suffer any heartache from the aftermath.

"It really was a good idea to pay her back like that, huh?" I muttered and then smiled.

The waitress would take a while to come back with my food. In the meantime...

I checked on my phone. There were a few new messages since I last checked. From familiar people too.

First off, it was Seol-Ah and Sungjin. It seemed like the two had finally managed to get my message and respond to it. They didn't say much other than that their mother was doing better and that they hoped I was doing well too.

But honestly... Did they forget about what I promised already?

It was late, so I didn't expect an answer. Even so, I texted them to tell me their address so that I could swing by and heal their mother.

After that, I had a message from Seonhwa.

[Do you have time to talk? If you do, could you come by the café again when you're free? I... want to clear things up between us.]

A loaded message. Even without hearing her voice, I could sense the emotions going through her in those words.

"Argh... Why'd you have to leave me such a mess, Seol?"

I wanted to blame the guy... but then again, it was partly my fault for not leaving a clean break either.

I frowned and marked the message as read. It was a bit of a dick move, but I didn't want to deal with that just yet.

Next, and finally, there was a message from Seora. Well, two. One from her old phone, and one from her new phone.

'Seora' said that she was still waiting for me to meet up with her and that she'd meet up with me whenever I was free.

Of course that was a trap. And after what just happened in Paradise... I wasn't particularly up to dealing with the mastermind behind that mess just yet.

From her new phone, Seora said that she was glad I was awake and well and reminded me to call her when I could so that we could make arrangements. She also said to not reply in text though, so I just left her message on read as well.

"Here you go, Dear. Our special pork belly with an extra helping of rice." A tray with my food was slid on the table in front of me.

"Ah." I put my phone away and looked up. "Thank you-"

A mischievous smile. Crimson hair kept in a tidy hairnet, along with an apron.

Sora smiled and said, "What? Cat got your tongue?"

I chuckled. "No. I just didn't think I'd run into you so soon. Since you weren't at the kitchen or serving, I was starting to think that you might not be here."

"Oh, so you *were* looking for me then, Dear." She sat down across from me and said, "Did you become that enchanted by my appearance that you started stalking me?"

"You wish." I grabbed my cup of water and took a sip. "The day I stalk a girl for her appearance is the day I-"

I paused, suddenly realizing that I was tempting fate. And remembering how things were going, I decided that wasn't a good idea.

"The day you what?" Sora smirked and said, "You finally going to act to your true nature and drape women all over you?"

"You said it, not me. But on a more serious note... Coach recommended that I check this place out."

"Hm?" Sora blinked. "Grandpa did?" She frowned and said, "He visited here once, but it wasn't anything special... Did he want to pass a message on?"

"If he did, he didn't say anything to me. All he said was that there was a good pork belly restaurant around here... Though the fact that it's literally called 'Good Pork Belly' is a bit on the nose."

Sora shrugged. "Better than some obscure French name where you can't figure out what you're getting, right?"

"True, true."

Sora leaned back in her chair and said, "I'm guessing it's pretty crazy over there if you're back in this place. You planning to stay long?"

"Hm? Oh, right. I guess there was a message I had to pass then if you hadn't heard about it."

"Oh?"

I nodded and said, "We're on break. Since things are pretty hectic, I figured we could all use some time off. I'm thinking about a couple weeks or so to let things cool down... Though it might be longer."

Sora nodded. "That's a good idea. You were pretty wild back there, Dear. It'd be better to sit back and relax."

"That's what everyone's been telling me."

Sora chuckled.

I took a look around and noticed that the place was empty now. Did I overstay my welcome?

Sora noticed my thoughts and said, "Don't worry. We're past closing, but I'm not going to shove Dear out on the streets. Besides, we haven't talked in so long now since you overworked your big sword."

I smirked. "Be careful there, Darling. Some people might get a misunderstanding."

Sora's eyes glimmered with mischief and she leaned forward. Lightly brushing her hand against my face, she said, "And what's there to misunderstand, Dear?"

I leaned forward as well, staring into her eyes. "Some might think you're coming onto me, you know?"

"Mm... Who knows?"

A tense silence. An ambiguous air...

And then a plate clattered in the distance.

"A-Ah! Sorry, Unni!"

Sora leaned back.

I did as well, chuckling.

The waitress, that priestess in Paradise called Sohyun, had dropped a plate in the kitchen. Her face was bright red and she quickly bowed her head. "I-I'll be upstairs!"

Sora watched her run off and then laughed. "Seems like it was too much for her."

"Seems like it. Though it also seems like you're in a good mood if you can mess around like that, Sora."

"I could say the same to you." She tucked a strand of her crimson hair behind her ear and said, "Most guys would be tripping all over themselves if I flirted with them like that, you know?"

"Eh." I shrugged. "I'm not most guys. Besides, if a beautiful woman sweet talking me was enough to win me over, I wouldn't be in that place, you know?"

Sora nodded. "True. Though I have to say that you should be careful so you don't sink your claws into more unsuspecting women. Not everyone can roll with the punches like me, you know?"

I let out a wry smile at that. "I'll make sure to keep that in mind."

Sora laughed. "What? Got in trouble with it already?"

I coughed and took a look around. "It seems like you're doing well for yourself though. I take it that you put those funds to good use?"

Sora's mischievous smile dimmed a bit, replaced by a warm smile instead. "I did. You really helped us out, you know? I had been worried about how to take care of everyone, but since you gave me that I could provide for them." She waved her hand and said, "This restaurant is only one of the businesses I have right now to help the others work and keep their mind off of things. And between that, I've also got some therapists on the roll to keep track of everyone too."

I smiled. "That's good. As long as things are going well."

Sora's smile faded and she frowned. "...Are you sure though?"

"Hm?" I tilted my head. "Am I sure about what?"

"All of this. I get that you're a ridiculous sort of guy, but still, giving out that much money..." She bit her lip.

"Hey now." I waved my hand and said, "You can't be like that. We're friends, right? Friends help each other when they're in trouble. If you're feeling guilty about a debt or something, don't be."

"But-"

"No buts. Besides, last time I came here, I didn't give you a good tip since I was in a rush. Just think of it as some interest if it helps."

Sora blinked. "Last time you were-" She paused and then her eyes flashed in realization. "So that's why you seemed familiar! You're that bastard who came in with his sister and kept me cooking all day!"

I chuckled. "Guilty as charged."

Sora mock glared at me. But then she shook her head, smiling. "What a crazy coincidence."

"Isn't it?"

"...Still." Sora leaned her head against her hand and said, "Your tip is a bit too extravagant, Dear. I might not be a cheap woman, but something like that's enough to buy me outright, you know?"

"Well then." I smiled. "Make sure to stay sharp. You don't want to get wrapped up with a womanizer like me now, do you?"

"Oh?" Sora raised an eyebrow. "So you're admitting it now?"

"Hey now, I didn't say that. I just said you shouldn't get wrapped up with a womanizer like me, not that I was a womanizer. People who look handsome and give lavish gifts tend to just want to use you up and throw you away."

Sora nodded. "Mm, I know the type. But you're saying you're not that then, Dear?"

"Of course not. After all, I'd rather die than have the ones I cared for get hurt."

Sora stared at me for a while, a flicker of emotions passing through her eyes. But after a few more moments, she sighed and said, "You really are a character, Dear."

"Hopefully the main character?"

Sora rolled her eyes. "Sure. The bastard main character that runs around collecting and breaking girls' hearts without even realizing it."

I played dumb and said, "Eh?"

"Tch. Nevermind." Sora hummed and then looked at me. "Anyway... You free for the night?"

I blinked. "I am...? Why?"

"Good. Then sit tight. Since Dear managed to make it through that hell in one piece, we should do some celebrating, right? I'll just send Sohyun home and we can crack a few cold ones to relax. Don't go anywhere."

Before I could say anything, Sora got up and walked upstairs.

...Well. Sora had been through a lot recently, so I guess I owed her that much. And she *did* cook for me... So I might as well stick around.

With that decided, I went back to eating my food and waited for her.

xxx

Sora woke up with a pounding headache. "Urgh..." She winced and placed her hand on her forehead. "What hit me...?"

"Unni?"

A soft female voice echoed from nearby. Sohyun's.

Sora blinked and sat up. When she did, she took a look around.

It was the restaurant. But it wasn't just any part in the restaurant. It was one of the private VIP lounge rooms they had upstairs.

It seemed like she had been lying in one of the booths, and a few bottles were scattered around her. Not only that, but she had been tucked in underneath... a coat? That was odd, but it smelled nice at least.

"Unni? Are you alright?"

Sora shook her head and then looked at Sohyun.

She was the same as always- No. She was dressed up for work. Her black hair was tied in a ponytail, and she was already wearing the waitress outfit.

Sora blinked, and then her eyes widened. "Sohyun?! What time is it?" She stood up, but then staggered as nausea took over. "Grk..."

"Calm down, Unni!" Sohyun stepped forward and grabbed Sora, helping her steady herself.

"I can't calm down. It's past opening time, isn't it? Who's manning the kitchen? Did everyone check in on time? What about the others? Are they okay?"

Sohyun nodded. "It's fine. Everyone's fine. I just came up here to check on you."

"Check on me...?" Sora frowned. "...Why the hell am I up here anyway?"

The last thing she remembered was cooking last night, and then meeting Jihu-

Wait.

Sora shakily lifted the coat off her shoulders. Thankfully, she was completely dressed. But the coat... There was no mistake. That was Jihu's. But then...?

Sora groaned. "I can't fucking believe it."

She remembered now. At least, how she ended up in the lounge room.

Since Jihu had recovered, and since she felt a bit guilty, Sora wanted to go all out to celebrate. It would have been more fun if the others were there, but she thought that she could celebrate enough to make up for everyone.

...Or maybe she just didn't want to look bad in front of that guy.

Whatever.

Either way, it looked like she made a fool of herself anyway and blacked out after drinking too much.

...No. She remembered now.

[You sure you want to keep drinking, Sora...?]

[Shaddap and pour me another bastard.]

[It's not a competition... And I don't get drunk. If you're trying to outdrink me-]

[I said shaddap and pour me another!]

"That fucking bastard."

"Unni?" Sohyun blinked. "Um... Do you mean that guy you were with yesterday?"

Sora sighed. "Don't worry about it. And can you give me some water?"

"Sure! But... Is it okay to let that guy cook? He said that you told him he could to make up for last night and he's doing a pretty good job, but-"

"...Hah!?"

xxx

I hummed to myself and worked on cooking some of the pork belly for the morning's customers. Though I wasn't too sure why people were eating such a heavy meal so early in the morning, I wasn't the type of person to judge.

Scraping down the grill and placing another slab on it, I glazed the pork belly and went over my plans for the day.

Since Sora fell asleep on me after drinking too much... Which was odd since she was being strangely pushy about it. But anyway, since Sora fell asleep, I couldn't just leave her alone in the restaurant so I stayed over to keep an eye on her and help out.

I made sure to let Flone and Jinhee know about it... and got flamed by Jinhee in response, but it seemed like the two were getting along fine in my absence.

Flone seemed to be really serious about letting me take care of my business on Earth. It made me feel a bit guilty since I couldn't spend much time with her showing things around, but it was necessary.

"One order of rice and pork belly!" One of the waitresses called out to me, brushing through the kitchen curtain.

I flipped one that was already prepared and quickly sliced it into pieces in the air. After that, I scooped a cup of rice from the side onto a plate and caught the falling pieces. That done, I handed it to the waitress and said, "There you are. Be careful, it's still hot."

She blushed and nodded before heading out.

When she did, someone walked in. A familiar beauty with crimson hair.

Sora gave me a blank stare and said, "You really like showing off, huh?"

"Oh." I checked on the grill and looked over at Sora. "You're up already?" I flipped the pork belly and said, "You don't need to push yourself. You did enough of that yesterday, you know?"

"Urgh." Sora walked over and said, "Don't remind me. I still feel like shit."

I chuckled and said, "I told you, didn't I? I don't get drunk. You were really doing a pointless task."

"Tch. I guess that's a good thing for you. God knows the number of girls that would try to get you drunk and make you take responsibility." Sora grumbled and walked over to the side, picking an apron off from the wall.

I chuckled again at her words, remembering Seol's issues. "Yeah. Alcohol is the bane of any man's existence, I'd say. That and beautiful women."

Sora chuckled. "So you're aware of it now, Dear?"

"Emphasis on 'and.' Either or is fine on their own. And you sure you're good to cook?" I flipped the pork belly and got some more prepared.

Sora nodded. "You're the one that's supposed to be relaxing, Dear, not me. Besides, what do you take me for? I'm not going to let the person I owe favors to cook for me in my own restaurant."

"Again, we're friends so it's fine. Besides, it's pretty fun."

Sora put on a hair net and then washed her hands. After that, she muscled past me and snatched the tongs from my hands. "I don't care what you think. Someone as good as you is going to set up false expectations in my restaurant, you know? And it'll be bad to have a guy that can't take responsibility for his actions."

I blinked. "What's that supposed to mean?"

Sora glazed a pork belly slab and placed it on the grill. "I mean that I don't want to have to join that dogpile of all the girls fighting for your attention, so I'd be happy if you could just leave this to me, Dear."

I let out a wry laugh and then stepped back.

Sora nodded and took over the cooking duties. Still, it seemed like she wasn't fully recovered since she winced. "Argh... This damn hangover."

"Oh right. Let me cast a little magic spell to make you feel better then." I leaned over and tapped her head. At the same time, I used a simple healing spell to heal her up.

Sora snorted. "What do you think I am, a kid? Like that's going to-" Her eyes widened. Probably because her headache cleared up... and because I cast a tiny buff spell to help her work a bit more efficiently by boosting her morale and stamina. "H-Hey. What did you just-?"

I took off my apron and winked. "That's a secret, Sora. But thanks again for keeping me company. It was really fun... even if you were a bit too pushy and clingy last night."

A gasp echoed from nearby. Sohyun's. It seemed like the waitress had just gotten back with an order, judging from the book in her hands.

Sora's eyes widened and she blushed. "H-Hold on a bit!"

I laughed and waved at her. "Take care, Sora. I'll see you at the usual place later, alright?"

"Jihu, you bastard! Don't you dare run off! Help me explain what happened!"

I let out a cheeky smile and walked out of the store. As I did, I pulled out my phone.

Let's see... Thursday, huh? I wonder if Seora was free?

I moved to the contacts app to call her and make an appointment. But then I saw a familiar face up ahead. Scratch that, two familiar faces.

A young man with a sharp face. And next to him, a cute young woman. Both of them were dressed well, the former in a dress shirt and pants with the latter in a white blouse and blue skirt.

They also seemed nervous about something... But at the same time, determined.

Sungjin and Seol-Ah.

My old friends and new party members were both carrying some bags with them. Sungjin had the heavier items, mostly bags of foods, while Seol-Ah was carrying some flowers.

Were they off to visit someone? No, didn't they say that their mother was sick? Then it was likely that they were heading on their way to see her, right?

I slipped my phone into my pocket and decided to follow after the two siblings. After all, I made a promise to them, after all.

Since Sora's restaurant was by the subway station exit, it seemed like I happened to catch the siblings as they were heading out to ride it.

There were a decent amount of people around today. It was morning, but it seemed like almost everyone was heading to work or something.

Fortunately, that made it easier for me to blend in. Subtly ducking into an alleyway for a bit and concealing my presence, I changed into a nondescript business suit and then started tailing the siblings.

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