3. Past

It was a chilly dawn. Madam came out of the entrance wearing sneakers and hiking clothes. While Jun-kyung loaded the box of various sweets and teas in the trunk, madam disappeared into a large sedan.

It was 4:20 in the morning. The morning service begins in 40 minutes. Instead of a famous temple located in the middle of the city, madam liked to visit Seonjeongam, a small hermitage on the outskirts of the city. Jun-Kyung heard that madam and the monk who lived there had a close relationship.

Originally, it would take over an hour on a shabby national road, but thanks to the recently constructed highway, it takes 30 minutes now.

Soon, the four wheels of the large sedan stepped on the fine gravel in the yard of the hermitage. Immediately after parking, madam got out of the car herself. Jun-kyung took out boxes that were in the trunk and followed after madam.

Monk Wolsan, who was preparing for the early morning ritual, came out to greet the two. Jun-kyung nodded his head while madam clasped her hands and bowed.

Jun-kyung, who is not of any particular religion, initially joined the prayer but after suffering from a cramp in his leg, he left during the first prayer.

True to the name of the place, the Seonjeongam area boasted a cute and pretty scenery. The hiking course is not very famous, but people who know of it come to visit when the weather is nice. In the 1970s, a large pond was built near the local government. Since then, there have been quite a few fishermen who enjoy freshwater fishing. Because of that, when the weather became nice, vegetation and trails were ruined here and there, and in some cases, garbage piled up.

“Humans have no manners whatsoever and courtesy. If you come to play in someone elses hermitage, you have to clean up the trash before you go.” Grumbling, Junkyung stopped at the memorial altar, pulled out a garbage bag, and picked up the trash he could see right away.

Junkyung was sweating profusely, so he took off the jacket and tossed it in the car before carrying the stuffed garbage bag in both hands to the place where the trash can is.

There was a stone staircase behind the hermitage. He went down the dark road for about 3 minutes, relying on the light of his cell phone. Below the hermitage was a local restaurant that catered to hikers and fishermen. Garbage trucks only come to the yard of the restaurant.

It was dark, but the sky gradually turned blue, and as long as the road wasnt busy, he could see.

After throwing away the trash, he raises his head and sees a panoramic view. It was very nice to see the mist slowly rising from a large pond in the distance.

He took a deep breath of the cold and damp morning air of the mountain. The fatigue that had accumulated from not getting a good nights sleep quickly disappeared.

Like a middle-aged man who climbed the mineral spring, he swung his stiff waist from side to side. Just as he was about to go up, a strange shadow caught his gaze.

There was a person figure at the bench set up by the restaurant. “Fuck!”

He was so surprised that the curse came out naturally. There is no one at this time of day. Are you a ghost? Person? Why is everyone so quiet?

He clenched his fists and frowned. If its a bad person, Ill beat him up, if its a ghost… In his own way, he is a former judo prospect and currently a bodyguard. Monk Wolsan said that even a ghost cannot touch a person with a good body.

“Are you a human or a ghost?”

As soon as he spoke, he heard a low laugh from the other side. It was obviously a person.

“Haha. Why do you look like that? You look surprised.”

Dawn is rising. The blurry impressions became more and more distinct. A  fishing hat came into his vision. It was clear that that person had come up to the mountain to rest for a while after night fishing.

The opponent, who sat on the floor, was probably there before Jun-kyung. It was his fault that he didnt notice any movement because it was dark.

“Take care.”

It was so ridiculous that he got flustered, so he intended to just play it cool as if hes just here to say hello and go back.

“Junkyung hyung, you are cuter than you look. Are you afraid of ghosts?”

Junkyung looked back in surprise.

“Excuse me?”

Min Hyun-woo smiled.

Junkyung asked, “How come you are here? Did you follow us knowing that we are here?”

“No way. I stopped by on the way back from night fishing.”

It was only then that Junkyung found a fishing bag at his feet.

“If you come back from fishing, go straight home. What are you doing here?”

“I was just stopping by. Come to think of it, I thought that my mother would come to visit the temple today. I havent visited in a while, so I waited.”

“All night in a place where theres no one?”

“If I go up, the monk will ask me to do this and that.”

Hyun-woo, who had a sly smile, said, “Jun-kyung hyung has cleaned the hermitage, so its okay for me to go up now.” He grabbed a fishing bag.

“But Jun-kyung hyung, do you know that?” Hyun-Woo, who was following closely behind the stone steps, asked.

“What?”

“Hyung, youve been talking without honorifics to me.”

Ugh! Junkyung wasnt conscious of it at all. It was because he was surprised by Hyun-Woo who appeared like a ghost.

You shouldve told me earlier if you noticed. 

Hyun-woo is a sly fellow. Now its strange for Junkyung to speak with honorifics immediately after being pointed out. He cant help it now.

Even if Hyun-Woo is the owners son, hes like a little kid who doesnt have anything special to do. If this keeps up, sooner or later, Junkyung will have to kowtow to someone whos younger than him, so he decided to play it cool.

“You say you are my dongsaeng so cant an older brother talk nonsense to the younger brother?”

“No, its because I like it.” Hyun-Woo laughed out loud.

“What do you like about it?”

“It feels like weve gotten closer.”

Jun-Kyung snorted, but he didnt say anything back because Junkyung felt the same way.

The day was completely bright now. Immediately after the prayer, Buddhists helping the hermitage gathered inside, and madam found Hyun-Woo who appeared with Jun-kyung and asked how he was here just like Junkyung asked earlier.

Soon, the smell of cooking  wafted out. Maybe it was because he ate the delicious meal right after fishing all night, Hyun-Woo ended up dozing on the bench near the dining room.

Madam clicked her tongue, “What are you doing in front of others? If you are tired, just go home.”

“I am so sleepy that it is difficult to drive. I want to ride your car.”

“What about your car?”

“I can come pick it up later or we can call someone.”

“You are going to call your brothers secretary again, arent you? Dont do that because it interferes with his work.”

Hyun-woo then changed his words, “Then you can call the errand center or a tow company.”

“Do they come out to the mountain?”

“If you give them lots of money? We have a lot of money in our house.”

“Is that your money? A guy who doesnt even visit his parentshouse and just runs around and plays?”

The wife, who had been glaring at her son, suddenly turned to look at Jun-kyung. “Junkyung, takes Hyun-Woos car and drives him home-to my house.”

When Hyun-Woo was told to go to his parentshouse, he made a cross sign as if he was ruined. This is because the president would continue to nag him until he escapes from the main house.

Maybe because he was so tired, he just pouted his lips.

“What about madam?”

“I will be staying at the hermitage more today because I have to prepare candles with the monk. I will drive when I get back, so just hand me the key.”

“Will you be okay driving yourself?”

“Why not?”

“No…that is.” Junkyung eyes were fill with surprise.

“Are you worried that I will cause an accident?”

Jun-Kyung hesitated because it was hit on the point. He had a vague prejudice that the foreign sedan that he had driven was too big for a middle-aged woman with a small body to drive. Seeing this, the mother-in-law grinned.

“Im average. And my driving experience is longer than Junkyungs age.”

“Right. My mother is a good driver. There is a picture I took of mom when I was young, driving a jeep that the US military uses. But Jun-kyung hyung, dont you think hes more condescending than he looks?”

Hyun-Woo chipped in. Jun-Kyungs face heated up when he heard the wordcondescending.

“Thats not what I meant. Im sorry. Heres the car key.”

Jun-kyung hurriedly handed the smart key to madam. How could such a beautiful and tender wife drive a US military jeep? People wont be able to imagine.

Jun-kyung and Hyun-Woo headed down after saying farewell to the monk and others.

“What about the fishing bag?”

“What?”

Hyun-Woo looked at the fishing bag lying over there as if he had no idea what Jun-Kyung meant. It was the attitude that shows that it was natural not to lift anything because there were employees to do it.

“Why, do you want me to hold it?” Jun-Kyung asked.

“Ah! No, I will.”

The quick-witted Hyun-Woo said, “Of course, the little brother should hold it” and walked up with the fishing bag in hand.

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