D – 41
Sunghoon snapped his fingers, as if he was calling something and shortly after, a thick book just dropped from thin air onto his open hand and he murmured, “I have to check the eighteenth chapter for an event like this…”
“Hey, white hair, don’t ignore me. You haven’t answered my question and now you just snapped your fingers and said something in unidentified language. Are you calling your friends?”
Sunghoon froze. Jiwon really can see him. He had no choice but to sit in mid-air and said, “Is Jiwon-ssi curious about me?”
Sunghoon pointed to the clock near him, “Isn’t it about time for work at the bar?”
“Aishhh, how do you know I’m working at a bar?” Jiwon asked, half irritated, half curious, “I know I have to go to the bar now, but my curiosity overcame my guilt because…”
“Stop.” Sunghoon said sharply, “Don’t say anything for now, I don’t want Seunghyun or Seungyoon to suddenly come here and record your deeds and disturb us”
“Seungyoon? Seunghyun? Us?” Jiwon said, “What’s really happening?”
“Jiwon-ssi, you should be getting ready to go to the bar, I promise to tell you who I am and why I’m following you in a few days and I hope Seungyoon and Seunghyun aren’t wandering around us.”
Jiwon closed his open mouth, he was trying to stop himself from asking further questions. He looked puzzled for a while and finally asked, “All right, can I ask one thing first?”
“Are you a ghost?”
“Of course not. Please get ready Eun Jiwon-ssi, you will be late.”
Jiwon glimpsed a black shadow beside the white hair again. Although the white hair had told him to pretend not to notice his presence, Jiwon unconsciously kept glancing at the place where the white hair sat.
“Jiwon-ssi, can you help me clean the table?”
Seungyoon watched Jiwon, waited for him to come out of the pantry and asked, “Is this just my feeling or Jiwon has been looking at us?”
“Of course not. It’s just your feeling,” Sunghoon said nonchalantly as he flipped through the pages of the book he held.
“Oh,” Seungyoon sneered, “Sunghoon, the angel of death who has the name of The Deathberry, is now reading the basic rules of heaven. Are you making plans to take Eun Jiwon’s life without breaking the rules?”
“Seungyoon-ah, if you came here to disturb my job instead of doing your duty as a good deeds recorder, you better get going.” Sunghoon said as he was frustrated by not finding what he wanted, “unless you want to help me.”
Seungyoon looked at Sunghoon seriously and said slowly, “I’m not sure.”
“Okay, no problem if you don’t want to help.” Sunghoon said flatly and then snapped his fingers. The book on his lap disappeared and was replaced with a leather-cover book that was no less thick than the previous book and he murmured quietly, “I cannot remember where I read that rare case thing.”
Sunghoon snapped his fingers again, he mumbled uncertainly and then he replaced the book on his lap with another book. Sunghoon snapped his fingers one more time, and the book on his lap was replaced by another.
“What are you looking for?”
“Did you decide to help?” Sunghoon asked while he opened the fourth book.
“Maybe. I’m curious because you’re reading the old books…The law of the heavens, the law of the earth, the book of angels prohibition…what the hell are you looking for?”
“The law that controls the rare case events, as I recall, there are some rare cases that aren’t controlled in the law. Yuka doesn’t want to help me because it is common for the angels on earth to memorize all the laws.”
“Well, Yuka isn’t wrong.”
“She always pretends to forget that I’m an executor, the least angelic angel, so it’s only natural that I hate anything administrative like these.”
“But you’ve been moved to the heaven since 10 years ago so…”
“You want to help me or not?”
“Err fine. I’ll help you.”
“Can you tell me where I can find the case about a man who suddenly saw the angel of death?”
“You are looking for that case?” Seungyoon snapped his fingers, and a thin book floated in front of Sunghoon, “You have to re-read the category of rare case events later if you still want to be an angel of death.”
“Yes…and whatever…I’d rather be an executor.”
“You have to find it in the investigation division library, not in the law division library,” Seungyoon said while he was writing, “Uh, why did you suddenly look for the rare case events? Did something happen?”
“Based on cases that have occurred over the last two centuries, the investigation division decided that the incident where humans can see an angel of death cannot be categorized as a rare case event…okay, I’m safe.”
“Ya…ya…ya…read it until the conclusion, stupid Sunghoon…”
“However, if a human who sees an angel of death is a human outside the target of the angel of death or whoever classified as listed below, the angel of death in charge needs to immediately assign the assignment letter to the special division. I already said it safe, smart-ass. ”
“Wait…so who just saw you?”
“Who do you think?”
“Do you have any other references?”
“Answer my question first.”
“Yep, he can see me.” Sunghoon said flatly.
Seungyoon snapped his fingers, and a stack of books floated in front of Sunghoon, “So I guess now your plan is a mess, isn’t it?”
“My plan was rejected by Yuka. I forgot that the female idol was an exception case, so I can do anything, as long as her soul can go back to heaven. Eun Jiwon isn’t a special person so I cannot use the same plan as the female idol.” Sunghoon said, “May I borrow this?”
“Of course, so what are you doing now?”
“I’m planning to tell him the truth, but I have to consult with the investigation division and the law division.” Sunghoon said, “You know, I’m afraid my plan will be changed again just because I’m breaking some of the laws of the earth.”
“Wow…This is not the Sunghoon I know before.”
Sunghoon smiled and called another book onto his lap, “Thank you for helping me, Seungyoon.”
Seungyoon widened his eyes in disbelief, he was so aware of the books that Sunghoon borrowed, “What exactly are you planning for an ordinary human like Jiwon?”
“Se-cret, well, since you’ve finished your job here, you’d better get going.”
Seungyoon realized that Sunghoon was casting him out subtly, mumbled, “Well, good night Sunghoon.”
Seoul Bus Terminal, 11:40 PM
“Sunghoon-ssi, can you stop flying around like that?”
“Eh?” Sunghoon bit his lip, “If Jiwon-ssi doesn’t like it, I guess it’ll be better if I do this,” Sunghoon snapped his fingers, and covered himself with white smoke for a split second and appeared in front of Jiwon with all-white clothes, “I should have disguised myself as a human since we left the bar.”
“You know, the people we met on the way thought you’re a madman because you were talking to yourself.”
“Aren’t you the one that started the problem? You asked me on the way here why I live like this.”
Sunghoon smiled, “I’m sorry, I need to know the stories of your life before you go back to the heaven.”
Jiwon and Sunghoon went to the counter. Jiwon approached the counter and asked, “Is there an empty seat for the last bus to Mokpo?”
“How many people?”
“Two.” Jiwon said while handing over the money.
“The bus will be leaving in about 15 minutes, and this is the change. Thank you and good night.”
Sunghoon slightly grabbed Jiwon’s hand, led him to the platform, “You just planned to pay for my ticket, right?”
“Um, I don’t think angels have any human money.”
“Jiwon-ssi, the angel’s power is almost unlimited, if it’s just money, that’s a small matter.” Sunghoon said, “For the moment, please stop being nice until we get out from Seoul.”
“I don’t want Seungyoon to come here and mess up my plan.”
It’s been three times since Seungyoon name was mentioned by Sunghoon, and for some reason Jiwon wasn’t happy with it. There’s a spark of hatred sticking out when he hears Sunghoon mention the name.
F BAR, 1 HOUR AGO
Jiwon returned to the pantry where he usually does his work, and looked around, searched for the white hair for a while, until he finally looked up and found Sunghoon flying near the ceiling.
“Hey you,” Jiwon called and startled Sunghoon, as if he was unaware that Jiwon returned to the pantry, “Can we talk now?”
Sunghoon snapped his fingers, and made the glasses he wore disappear in an instant and said, “Of course.”
Sunghoon flew down from the ceiling, and Indian sat mid-air.
“Can you sit normally? Like on a chair?” Jiwon asked.
Sunghoon snapped his fingers again and a chair appeared just across the table, and Sunghoon sat down.
Jiwon took a deep breath before asking, “Who are you? And what’s your purpose for coming here?”
“Before I answer, promise me that everything we talk about will be our secrets alone.”
Jiwon nodded quickly, “I promise.”
Sunghoon paused for a moment and said, “I, Sunghoon, the angel of death is in charge of taking your life.”
Jiwon was startled with Sunghoon’s words, but he didn’t want to show Sunghoon he was startled. Jiwon bowed his head for a moment and looked at Sunghoon, “I…aish…well…” Jiwon lost his words. He failed to calm himself and he opened his mouth again, “So finally, I’ll die, right?”
Jiwon’s mind raged. Jaejin was still in a coma, Jaeduk who must divide his time between his duty at the police station and caring for Jaejin, and a biological mother he had never visited since he decided to handle a big corruption case filled his head. Jiwon closed his eyes for a moment to calm down before asking, “Aren’t you going to tell me how many more days before I die?”
Sunghoon gasped. He looked surprised for a split second before smiling, “That’s a forbidden question, I can only tell you that you’ll die soon.”
“There must be a lot of things you want to do before you die, don’t you Jiwon-ssi?”
Jiwon’s expression was very difficult to guess, but Sunghoon understood it. Sometimes, knowing that death is approaching, doesn’t make all the misunderstandings that happened to be resolved just like that. Jiwon stared at the clock behind Sunghoon and sighed.
Jiwon shook his head and smiled. “Nothing.”
“Please don’t lie.” Sunghoon said seriously, “Even though you’re lying to an angel of death, it doesn’t mean you can get away from the angel who records bad deeds.”
Jiwon suddenly remembered something when Sunghoon mentioned the angels of bad deed recorder and asked, “So the black shadow that was next to you when I cleaned up the soju bottles was an angel who recorded the bad deeds?”
“Oh! You can see Seungyoon?”
“Just a glimpse, blond hair and all black.”
Jiwon read Sunghoon’s expression. Sunghoon looked surprised for a split second before he disappeared for a few seconds and re-appeared in the chair.
“Ah, I’m sorry, there’s a call from the heaven, did you want to ask me something?”
“That black shadow, is he an angel who record bad deeds?”
“No, he’s a good deeds recorder.” Sunghoon looked around, as if he wanted to confirm something, “Jiwon-ssi, you have some last wishes before you go? As long as it doesn’t violate the law of the earth or the law of heaven, I will help you.”
“For now, I can only think of one thing.”
“I want to see my mother.”
As the bus left Seoul, the landscape that was filled with skyscrapers has been replaced with a sky full of stars. He stared blankly at the street and exhaled heavily.
“Can I talk to you, Jiwon-ssi?”
Jiwon slightly jumped. He forgot that Sunghoon had been sitting next to him and turned to him, “Yes…of course.”
“Are you sure you’re okay? You look weird since you told me your life story on our way to the bus station.”
“I think I’m okay, but I also think that I’m in a state that’s not okay. Maybe I’m still surprised that you’re an angel of death and I’m going to die.”
Sunghoon closed the book he was reading, and stared at Jiwon, “You know, as long as I’ve been an angel of death, you’re the first man that did not go crazy after knowing you’re going to die any minute.”
“Ever since I was accepted in the police department, I was always ready for death. Death is a common thing for a policeman like me.”
Jiwon realized that Sunghoon was anxious, “Sunghoon-ssi, rather than being worried about my current situation, isn’t it better if you’re worried about yourself? I’m not sure if seeing angels and angel’s books are a good sign.”
“It’s alright,” Sunghoon replied quickly, “Jiwon-ssi don’t worry, I’ve contacted the investigation team and asked them to check this out so I’ll stay with you until you see your mother.”
Jiwon looked intrigued as soon as Sunghoon said the investigation team, but realized that Sunghoon will not answer him if he asked about it. Jiwon said, “You better go back to heaven and settle this abnormality, Sunghoon-ssi, I promise I will not tell all of this to my mother.”
Sunghoon smiled and patted Jiwon’s shoulder gently, “I’ll stay with you until you meet your mother.
A roll of paper flew down from somewhere to the front of Sunghoon. Sunghoon took it carefully and opened it. Jiwon didn’t know what was written on it, though he could see the paper. But somehow Sunghoon seemed to be pleased with the paper, “You should believe me, Jiwon-ssi. There’s nothing to worry about.”
Sunghoon removed the earrings on his left ear carefully and put them in his pocket before saying, “Please take a rest Jiwon-ssi, I’ll wake you up once we get to Mokpo.”
Jiwon understood Sunghoon’s subtle way of ending their conversation. Jiwon turned towards the window and closed his eyes, trying to fall asleep. Too many things beyond logic happen today.
“Do you want me to accompany you as a human or as an angel?”
“May I ask you to accompany me as a human being?”
Sunghoon nodded, “Of course.”
“Then can you stop calling me Jiwon-ssi? Just call me Jiwon.”
“My mother and I haven’t communicated for about 7 years. She would love to see me have other friends than Jaeduk and Jaejin, and she will….”
Jiwon lost his words as he turned right. An elderly woman was carrying a garbage bag out of a 24-hour restaurant. Sunghoon guessed that the old lady was Jiwon’s mother because the old lady looked at Jiwon and said, “Adeul….”
Jiwon nodded awkwardly and said, “Eomma, how are you?”
Jiwon’s mom realized that Jiwon hasn’t come alone, gave a brief nod to Sunghoon who bowed at her, “Aigoo…come in. Let’s not talk outside like this.”
Jiwon picked up the trash bag that his mother carried and dumped it in the trash can and followed Sunghoon and his mother into the restaurant. There were only two customers that morning, and Jiwon’s mother told Sunghoon to sit at the closest table to the kitchen.
“You must be hungry, right? Please wait a minute, let me make something.”
Jiwon and Sunghoon waited in silence until Jiwon’s mother came to their table carrying two bowls of meat soup. Jiwon’s mother sat on the other side of Sunghoon’s chair and asked, “So what’s your name? I didn’t know Jiwon has many friends. Jaeduk and Jaejin are the only ones who wants to be his friend.”
“My name is Sunghoon Jiwon helped me a lot during my rehabilitation.”
“I was greatly depressed before and I dared to crash myself onto the front of a speeding bus. It was Jiwon who helped me and accompanied me during my surgery until after the rehabilitation period. I came here to apologize because it was me who made Jiwon unable to visit you in the last few years,” Sunghoon said while he was bowing deeply.
“Are you healthy now, son?”
Sunghoon nodded and surprised Jiwon a bit because Sunghoon lied easily and somehow made his mother believe the story. Jiwon stole a glance at his mother, her eyes now filled with tears, and stroked Sunghoon’s hand, “Thank goodness. Sunghoon, come on, please eat while it’s still warm.”
Jiwon’s mother got up and returned to the kitchen leaving Jiwon and Sunghoon on the table.
“I didn’t think angels would tell a lie, Sunghoon.”
“For some cases, it doesn’t matter, and luckily, your case allows me to lie.” Sunghoon took he soup into his mouth and chewed the meat quickly while Jiwon stayed silent, “Instead of taking care of my business, you should take care of your own business. Please clear the misunderstandings of the past 7 years.”
“You don’t need to tell me anyway, I have every intent of doing that, it’s just that your story has a big impact and my mom gets very emotional. It’s a little difficult for me to say good-bye to her.”
Sunghoon ate his soup in one gulp, (Jiwon also didn’t realize that Sunghoon was eating so fast) then said, “I’ll go out for a while so you can say good-bye.”
“Please tell her,” Sunghoon shrugged his head toward the kitchen, “that I went out to smoke, okay?”
Jiwon savored his meat soup after Sunghoon left. He hasn’t tasted his mother’s cooking for a long time. Sipping his soup slowly, hoping that his brain and tongue can remember the taste of his mother’s cooking before he die.
“Where’s Sunghoon?” Jiwon’s mother asked as she brought a tray containing two large cups.
It was silent until Jiwon finally put his spoon on the table, “How can you make a soup that taste never changed for seven years?”
“Well, who do you think paid your tuition fees so you can be accepted into the police academy by selling hangover soup for 24 hours?”
Jiwon chuckled softly and looked at the wrinkle on his mother’s face. Realizing that her only child was watching her face, Jiwon’s mother said, “Is there something on my face?”
“I just realized I never bought mother skin care, Mother’s wrinkles are everywhere.”
“If you come all the way from Seoul just to lecture about wrinkles, you better go home.” Jiwon’s mother said, feeling irritated. Seeing Jiwon suddenly silent and looking outside the window, Jiwon’s mother tries to open the conversation, “I heard Jaejin’s still not awake from the coma?”
Jiwon took a deep breath, and said, “Jaeduk often calls Mom then.”
“Since you decided to terminate the communication with Mom 7 years ago, Jaeduk and Jaejin are calling Mother every day, convincing me my only child is perfectly healthy.” Jiwon boldly looked at his mother, waited until his mother continued her sentence, “Sometimes Mom feels that Moms biological child is not you, but Jaeduk and Jaejin.”
“Sorry, if I cannot be as good as Jaejin and Jaeduk, and sorry because I’m your son.”
“What are you talking about? Even if you have a bad attitude, you’re still my son!”
Jiwon smiled for a moment before saying, “So are you going to forgive me?”
“Because you don’t go home and talk to Mother for 7 years? Anyway, Jaeduk already told me the whole problem, and I’m sure you’re not a foolish kid, so stop blaming yourself, son. What’s happening to Jaejin is not 100% your fault.”
“If I hadn’t insisted on continuing the case, Jaejin would still be on regular patrol on the outskirts of Seoul instead of sleeping at the hospital.”
“Jiwon-ah, you’ve done your best for the case, what happened to Jaejin is inevitable. Its fate.”
“Fate?” Jiwon said quietly.
“Yes, fate. Isn’t fate that brought you together with Sunghoon so that you’d finally want to see me after 7 years?”
Jiwon threw again his eyes out the window. His mother continued, “What happened to Sunghoon must be because of your unbearable habit to help other people, isn’t it?”
“Jiwon-ah, how many years do you think I’ve known you? Mom is very familiar with your habits, including your weird way of thinking about to terminate the communication so that I will not be a corrupt hostess when you decide to continue the corruption case. Rather than apologizing to me, it’s better to apologize to Jaeduk and Jaejin because I’m sure they’re not like me who can understand your strange way of thinking.”
“Speaking of strange thinking, I know this attitude of yours…are you planning to go for a long time without contacting Mom, Jaeduk and Jaejin? You want to go with Sunghoon and solve his problem?”
“That…” Jiwon rose from his chair and hugged his mother tightly. His emotions overflowed and he unknowingly cried, “Eomma, mianhae…”
“Jeongmal mianhae, I have never been really loyal to you, and now I have to leave you alone…”
“What are you talking about?” Jiwon’s mom said as she let go of Jiwon’s embrace, “You’ll only accompany Sunghoon for a while, right?”
Jiwon wiped the tears on his cheeks and said, “That’s right.”
“Don’t talk nonsense, you’re make me worried, promise me, once Jaejin wakes up, please all of you come together here without worrying about anything.”
“Well, I promise.” Jiwon’s chest suddenly ached as he said his promise, “I’m sorry eomma, because right now Sunghoon needs me more than Mom or Jaejin and Jaeduk.”
“I understand, go pick up Sunghoon, I’m afraid he’ll do something strange if he is left alone too long.”
Jiwon gasped when he realized he was at the beach. He’s even more astonished when he found Sunghoon sitting cross-legged facing the rising sun. Sunghoon seems to realize Jiwon was behind him because he turned back, with a cigarette in his mouth. Sunghoon took a long drag on his cigarette, blew smoke from his mouth and said, “Is it over?”
Jiwon didn’t answer Sunghoon’s question. He stood next to Sunghoon, looking at the rosy tinge that appeared from the eastern horizon. All of his regret filled his mind now. Was he able to send his mother enough money until he died? Can he see Jaejin getting up from his coma? Will Jaejin forgive him? Can he explain everything about the big case to Jaeduk? Can he leave his mother to Jaeduk?
“Will I see the sun rise here with Jaeduk and Jaejin before I die?”
“Eh?” Sunghoon rose from his seat and turned to Jiwon. He saw Jiwon was crying, and muttered, “Jiwon…”
“How many days…how many days left until I die? How many days…”
Jiwon sobbed softly and Sunghoon pitied him. Sunghoon unknowingly hugged Jiwon, patted his back slowly. Sunghoon’s guess wasn’t entirely wrong. Even a human like Jiwon cannot stay calm as he realizes his time is getting closer.
D – 40
Jiwon and Sunghoon returned to Seoul via the last bus from Mokpo. Nothing happened during their stay at Mokpo, other than when Jiwon asked, “Can you let me go around alone until lunchtime?”
And of course Sunghoon granted Jiwon’s request. Sunghoon kept an eye on Jiwon from afar without Jiwon being aware of it. The letter he received last night was a request for an investigation of Jiwon. And from all the rare cases ever investigated, Sunghoon had never found a human case that could see an angel other than an angel of death and he was fortunate enough that he can to be part of the investigation team (they already knew very well that Sunghoon had such a great power as an executor) allowing him to use his powers of about 10% in case Jiwon suddenly does something dangerous.
Jiwon was silent until they arrive at Jiwon’s house at 4 am. Occasionally turning around, as if he wanted to make sure Sunghoon is still around him. Sunghoon was bored, because Jiwon decided to go to sleep for three hours before his part time job. He opted to read the old investigative reports of rare cases while taking down notes on his parchment.
Sunghoon didn’t realize how many hours passed because he was busy reading until he realized that Jiwon was sitting across from him and saying his morning prayer.
Sunghoon was groping his left ear, as if he was making sure that he was wearing his earrings again, and suddenly Seungyoon came, and strangled his neck hard, making several books stacked on the table fall, scattered on the floor.
“I thought you were pretty smart, Sunghoon.”
“What…what do you mean, Seungyoon?” Sunghoon asked breathlessly. Seungyoon’s nails stuck on his neck skin, and Sunghoon began to feel the pain.
“You want Jiwon to be your and the investigation team’s experiment object, aren’t you? You’re trying to be a knight, trying to grant his last wish…” Seungyoon stuck his nails deeper, making Sunghoon cough and out of breath as Sunghoon’s hand tightly grabbed Seungyoon’s hand, wishing Seungyoon to release him but it’s useless, “But actually you’re doing a little experiment on him, wishing he could…”
Jiwon cannot believe what he is seeing now. He had just finished his morning prayer and when he opened his eyes, the black shadow he had seen before at the bar, now became clear. The black shadow was a male figure, about the same height as Sunghoon, dressed in black and has blond hair. The creature was strangling Sunghoon’s neck and from his nails that’s piercing Sunghoon’s neck skin, there was a disgusting black spot forming which Jiwon thought that was poison.
Trying not to make a sound when he got up from the chair, Jiwon stretched his hand out toward the creature’s shoulder, while shouting, “WHAT ARE YOU DOING, FUCKING CREATURE!”
Sunghoon, realizing Seungyoon was surprised from Jiwon’s shout broke away from Seungyoon’s stranglehold, and quickly changed his position, now Jiwon’s hand grabbed Sunghoon’s left hand, which was trying to hold Jiwon and grab his shoulder.
Sunghoon, gasping for air from Seungyoon’s strangulation said, “Heaven business, I have to go.”
Without waiting for Jiwon’s answer, Seungyoon and Sunghoon’s body was covered in white smoke and disappeared.
Seungyoon opened his eyes slowly. Sunghoon brought him back to the heaven so suddenly and now both he and Sunghoon were lying down in front of the main building of the investigation division. Seungyoon looked to his right, where Sunghoon laid.
“What do you want to happen with you bringing me here, huh?”
No answer. But instead, Seungyoon heard Sunghoon moaning in pain and gasping for breath. Seungyoon softened his voice, once he felt something was wrong with Sunghoon.
“Hey…Sunghoon, what happened?”
Seungyoon crawled toward Sunghoon and shrieked with surprised when he saw Sunghoon’s left hand full of bruises and bad smell emanating from a disgusting looking wound, “Yah! Sunghoon-ah! Sunghoon-ah! Hang on Sunghoon!!”