Episode 58

Helchang's Life
4 weeks ago
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It was 4 a.m.

As usual, I woke up at my regular time, packed a lunchbox in the kitchen, changed into my jogging outfit, and left the house.

My jogging route typically covered a 10 km round trip.

There was a certain romance to exercising alone in the dawn air before the sun fully rose.

However, today, for the first time, someone joined me on this jogging course.

It was a former biker with a regent haircut, who was the same age as me and insisted on calling me ‘big brother’.

“Good morning, big brother!”

“Good morning.”

For the next three days, I decided to spend my time with this guy, Koto Kazuya.

Honestly, I wanted to naturally shake him off because having a disciple like him would be tiring.

So, I proposed a hellish three-day course.

There was no way an ordinary person who barely exercised could keep up with my workout routine.

Koto, running beside me and keeping pace, said,

“It’s been a long time since I’ve jogged like this! I used to run a lot when I delivered newspapers in middle school!”

“Newspaper delivery? Why did you do that in middle school? Were you short on allowance?”

Koto, stroking his nose with his finger, replied,

“My father left home when I was three, and since then, my mother raised me alone.”

Hearing this unexpectedly heavy family history from Koto, I involuntarily closed my mouth.

Frankly, it wasn’t my intention to bring up such a topic.

Sensing the awkward atmosphere, Koto bravely smiled and said it was okay.

‘No, I’m not really okay with this…’

After completing a full round around the village along the riverbank, we headed to the civic park I visit every day.

Here, there were exercise machines often used by the elderly, perfect for someone like me to work out alone.

“How many pull-ups can you do?”

“I used to do about five. I haven’t tried recently, so I’m not sure.”

“Good. Watch closely.”

I said that and immediately hung from the pull-up bar.

My shoulders and arms strained under the effort.

I easily managed about 50 pull-ups.

The key to pull-ups was maintaining a stable waist.

Swinging to gain momentum during pull-ups was not very effective for exercising, so maintaining the correct posture was essential.

After warming up, I encouraged Koto to give it a try.

Koto then gulped nervously and exclaimed with a tense face,

“Ossu!”

No, don’t yell like that; it’s embarrassing…

“Yes! Big brother!”

At least he was adept at following directions.


After completing our morning exercise, we made our way back home on the same route.

It was precisely 6 a.m. Since I had to leave for school no later than 7:10 a.m., I had roughly an hour of free time remaining.

Out of a bit of consideration, I fed Koto a substantial meal before sending him on his way.

I did this to ease the burden on his single mother, considering he would have returned home to eat and bathe regardless.

“Thank you! The meal was really delicious, big brother!”

“Alright. Let’s meet again around 6 p.m. this evening.”

“Yes!”

Since we both had school in the morning, lingering together was not practical.

Therefore, I set our next meeting for 6 p.m., after I would return from school, and we agreed to reconvene in front of the store later that evening.

After watching him pedal off on his bicycle, I stretched and climbed the stairs to the second floor.

I also had to prepare for a shower and get ready for school.


Upon arriving at school, I noticed the classroom was bustling with activity.

This was probably because we had just finished our midterm exams.

Midterms were a significant challenge in our second year of high school. Behind me, everyone who had been in serious study mode was now unwinding and only thinking about having fun.

“Yo, Kim Yu-seong.”

I returned Satoru’s greeting and settled into my desk.

“Did you make it home alright yesterday?”

“Yeah, thanks to making a good friend, I even got the luxury of hanging out with pretty girls. It was fun yesterday.”

“Well, that’s good to hear.”

As I shrugged my shoulders, Satoru brought up another topic.

“By the way, have you heard? The biker gangs in Tokyo have been acting up lately.”

“Biker gangs? Why all of a sudden?”

I found myself instinctively listening intently to Satoru’s story.

“I heard that the leader of ‘Hyakki Yako’, a team based in Setagaya, has recently changed. The newly appointed fourth leader has joined forces with guys from another organization, and now the team is on the verge of disintegration.”

The struggle for power among biker gangs, as opposed to something like the conflicts among the yakuza, seemed inherently less severe.

Since we had different lives, I didn’t have much desire to understand it, and as an ordinary person, it wasn’t related to me.

When I pressed for something more interesting, Satoru, flashing his glasses, said,

“Actually, this is top-secret information that hardly anyone knows, but I’ll tell you.”

“…What makes it so special?”

“How much do you know about our school’s ‘Three Beauties’?”

“‘Three Beauties’? What’s that?”

“What a fool! Even though you’re a guy, you don’t know anything about Ichijo Academy’s ‘Three Beauties’?”

“Stop being ridiculous and explain it so I can understand too.”

Sigh, I’d like to explain everything from start to finish, but it would take too long, so I can’t.”

Satoru pushed his glasses up with his index finger and began,

“Firstly, two of Ichijo Academy’s ‘Three Beauties’ are third-years. The Student Council President, Saionji Kumiko, and the Kendo Club Captain, Fuma Yukika.”

Coincidentally, I knew both of them.

The former I saw every week in the student council room, and the latter was someone to whom I owed my life not too long ago.

She said she would contact me soon, but I haven’t heard anything yet. I wondered when she would talk to me again.

For me, waiting was the only option.

“And the last one, a first-year, will be attending school next week.”

“Who’s the last one?”

Then Satoru, with a haughty air, said,

“Don’t be shocked when you hear this.”

“I won’t be, so just tell me.”

“It’s the talent currently rising as the nation’s first love, Minato Naoya.”

“Minato Naoya?”

“Even if you, Yu-seong, have no interest in celebrities, you must know her name. Turn on the TV, and you’ll see her in commercials dozens of times a day.”

With a sense of curiosity, I sifted through Kim Yu-seong’s memories from before I possessed his body.

Indeed, she was as tremendously famous as Satoru had said.

She had originated from a leading theater group as a child actor.

“I had no idea someone like that was attending our school.”

“Well, she rarely attended school due to her busy celebrity schedule. Recently, it seems she’s expanding into the idol field as well.”

Satoru said this with pride, puffing out his chest.

“But why do you know so much about this?”

Satoru, lifting his nose high, said,

“I’m a super, super, super elite member of Minato Naoya’s fan club, numbered in the 100s.”

His proudly boasting demeanor was the very image of an idol otaku.

I had a feeling he knew too much about her. So that was the inside story.

“Why don’t you try joining Naodang now? I can guide you well as a senior.”

“…I’ll politely decline.”

I was too busy exercising every day; I didn’t plan on wasting time on a celebrity I would never meet in my life.

While discussing Satoru and Minato Naoya, Sakamoto Ryuji, his childhood friend Yaguchi Maiya, Rika, and Sasha all arrived at school.

The first period on Thursday morning was math.

It was my favorite subject as a former graduate student in science and engineering.

Last week, since the exam was near, we had a free period. I thought we’d resume the syllabus today, but I was wrong.

The math teacher looked around the class and then said,

“Today, we’re going to grade the midterm exam papers together. Everyone, take out your papers.”

At that, those who had been ignoring the cruel reality, frightened of grading their scores, began to panic en masse.

And one of them was Rika.

I shook my head, watching the scene unfold.

It seemed like a downpour of disappointment was expected on many people’s exam papers today.


After school, I immediately took the subway home.

I did it to keep my promise to Koto Kazuya.

Normally, unless there was something special, I’d head straight to the fitness club after school.

But today, I decided to meet Koto, who was new to the route, and go with him.

The gym manager, eager for fresh new members, would surely agree with a smile if I asked for a free three-day trial for Koto.

Of course, he would expect me to do a lot of teaching.

“Brother! Did you come back from school?”

Koto, waiting in front of the store as planned, spotted me from a distance and bowed respectfully in greeting.

A passing child, clutching his mother’s hand tightly, asked upon seeing this,

“Mom, why is that man calling the younger-looking man ‘brother’?”

“Shh, be quiet, dear. Let’s go.”

“……”

I would have to stop him from greeting me like that when he’s with me.

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