Chapter 34 - Day 8, Vacation
It was clearly my face in the mirror.
At least, the features were clearly mine. It was still my eyes, nose and mouth. The whole face was a familiar face that I’d seen thousands of times in the mirror.
But there were slight differences, and those subtle differences had huge results. The height of both eyes and their distance from my nose, the degree in which the corners of my mouth drooped, the slopes of my chin and face, all of them had changed. My face was perfectly symmetrical. No imbalances could be seen. Just that alone made me look completely different.
Furthermore, my skin… It had been hard to feel a big difference when just looking down at my body. But when I looked at my face, it was like taking out a piece of wood and replacing it with marble. The blackheads and acne scars that I had been troubled with since adolescence were gone.
I raised a hand to my cheek and felt the texture of hard boiled eggs. It was like peeling off the exterior to reveal the completely moist inside. There was a smooth elasticity.
My eyes moved down. This wasn’t the first time that my muscles had swelled up and hardened. I was able to see my forearms and chest getting bigger as my muscle strength became higher. But now the shape had altered. My chest and abs were neatly symmetrical with my shoulders. Further down, my friend was still in a non-combat state...
I regained my spirit. I hurried and washed my body. I had been looking at myself for almost an hour! It couldn’t be like this. I hadn’t finished studying for the liberal arts exam that was tomorrow. There were also a few books that I needed to borrow from the library.
I took out a t-shirt and pants. Then...
There was a ripping sound as the t-shirt couldn’t withstand the pressure. My clothes didn’t fit; my shoulders were wider than the t-shirt, my pants were too tight at the waist and way too short, revealing my ankles. The coat was the worst. If it had fit, then I could somewhat use it to cover for everything else, but I couldn’t get my shoulders into it either.
Did I have to buy new clothes? I ended up wearing stretchy sportswear as I checked the mirror. Fortunately, it didn’t look too strange.
“Ah, d*mn.” After drying my hair, it became completely like a chestnut burr. This couldn’t be left alone.
Downtown, near the university.
Kim Sung-yi, the lead hairdresser of the ‘Saint-Pierre Hair Shop’ was drinking a cup of coffee at the counter next to the receptionist. Even though it was early on a weekday, females who finished their exams early would soon be looking for a hair salon to change their mood.
After lunch, she would probably be held hostage by customers for the rest of the day. 'Should I just have an early lunch? A sandwich...’ Just as she was thinking that... The door opened.
A man entered the beauty salon. "Welcome...” Kim Sung-yi swallowed her breath. The man looked pretty messy at first sight. His shaggy hair reminded her of a prisoner from the Joseon period. The worn out sweatshirt and pants revealed his wrists and ankles.
However, his face ended the mess. It wasn’t a completely handsome face, nor the western face that had become popular in the 21st century. It was more perfect than beautiful. Clean skin. Perfectly symmetrical facial features and body features that couldn’t be hidden by the loose sports wear.
"A-Are you looking for the boss?”
“...? Nope.” The man responded in a tremulous voice. "I'm here to get my hair cut.”
“Eh... Do you have someone who is in charge of...”
"It’s my first time here.”
"So, you don’t have a particular... person in mind?”
“No. Anyone will do. Anyone.” The man speaking, Hee-chul, looked around the beauty salon. It was like he was evaluating the ‘grade’ of the beauty salon.
‘... I am overreacting.’ Kim Sung-yi thought. Either way, he was just a young man. He wouldn’t worry too much about his appearance.
When Hee-chul came out to buy clothes, he saw the beauty salon. However, the atmosphere was too luxurious. He was also the only male. In addition, such a beggar like appearance... Hee-chul’s heart beat quickly at the sight.
‘I just went anywhere.’ Hee-chul sighed deeply as he thought of the 7,000 won male specialty hairdressers that he normally went to.
The two females thought he was sighing for a different reason.
‘Does he not like it here?’ The boss looked at Kim Sung-yi. Kim Sung-yi looked back at her boss. Of course she knew... this was the only break she would be able to have today. In addition, there were two other hairdressers who were free.
But this was a matter that involved the shop’s pride. ‘Sung-yi. Please.’ The boss conveyed these words to Kim Sung-yi using her eyes. Kim Sung-yi nodded with a determined face.
“Can you come this way?” She was certain as she led him to a seat. The feeling coming from this person wasn’t just because of his face. Was it charisma? Aura? Kim Sung-yi had spent her apprenticeship in Apgujeong. It was a place where she had quite a few celebrity customers.
That’s why Kim Sung-yi was sensitive to this feeling. When she saw famous actors, she could see the same halo surrounding them. It wasn’t just because of his looks. In the entertainment industry, the successful ones had a similar aura. Her old boss called it ‘class.’
'Uh, he might be a famous model.’ He might have been taking a concept photo. The sports clothes might be a drastic attempt at trendy fashion.
“How do you wan... Omo.” She felt a gentle softness flowing through her fingers as she raised her hand to the man’s hair. It was like touching silk. Even though the man’s hair was short, the texture was something that couldn’t be felt just from a day or two of hair care.
‘Scalp... look at the scalp.’ Even a scalp that had just been washed wouldn’t be so clean. Despite the mess, the man’s hair wasn't matted. Obviously, this man was part of the ‘industry.’
"Why are you looking like that?" The man asked.
“Ah, no. Do you have a style that you want?”
"Just make it neat.”
"Give me a haircut that is as neat as possible. That’s all.”
This was... He seemed like someone who had never been to a beauty salon before.
While Kim Sung-yi was in turmoil, Hee-chul saw a discount guide on the side of the mirror. ‘What? A 20% discount in winter... A cut is 40,000 won?!’ It seemed like he had chosen the wrong store. The most expensive cut that Hee-chul had ever experienced was 25,000 won. The outside of this salon looked expensive, but he thought it would only be up to that amount.
It might have been different if he knew a while ago, but he couldn’t get up now that he was already sitting down.
Huu. Hee-chul gave a deep sigh.
That sigh was misinterpreted and sharply pierced Kim Sung-yi’s lungs. Was he laughing at her? ‘O...Okay.’ She wouldn’t hesitate any longer. Yes. She was Kim Sung-yi. She had an interest in the beauty industry since her childhood. Her efforts paid off, and she became recognized as a top hairdresser by her mid-20s.
'Will I be intimidated by this atmosphere?’ She gave a small snort. The hand holding her scissors was tense. She didn’t know what this person wanted, but she would show him more than he could imagine. In the 30 minutes that followed, Kim Sung-yi poured out all the dreams, efforts and passion that she had accumulated for nearly a decade.
Later, this scene would be her most memorable memory in her entire career. A cut that was comparable to 400,000 won, not 40,000 won!
Hee-chul regretfully use his credit card for the first time before leaving. Exactly ten minutes later., the male clerk in the nearby outlet store was going through a situation not that much different from Kim Sung-yi.
I couldn’t think about the money that I spent. My head... It didn’t seem worth 40,000 won. I went to buy some clothes and was suddenly offered lots of things. Of course, I didn’t go beyond the basics. I looked at the internet for seasonal outfits and just bought as much as I needed currently.
... Except for one cardigan.
“I can’t stop looking. It’s really amazing.” Dong-wook hyung was joking around. I’d met up with him an hour later, and he was surprised at how much someone could change in one day. I came up with the ridiculous excuse that I had been secretly exercising and managing my body for the past few months.
I had been training my body steadily. I maintained a slouched posture with the people I knew. Really, it was such a tedious thing. However, there was no better explanation to explain my height increase and larger body. In fact, Dong-wook hyung didn’t really understand the explanation.
“You... Really... Hey... You’ve been working out. I don’t think you would make that up.” He thought I cleansed my skin using BB cream, with the new clothes giving me a different atmosphere. In fact, what could he do even if he didn’t believe it? The different hair style also helped to a certain extent.
"Anyway, you look good. You should keep doing that in the future.”
“I'm going to try." I smiled and climbed up the stairs of the building. It was empty due to the exam period, although it was perfect for studying. However, I was going to meet a friend whose test finished early. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have come here.
"Hiii!” My friend stiffened as he looked over here.
“This is really Hee-chul. Or at least, he claims that he is Hee-chul.” Dong-wook laughed at the sight before him. "But what are you doing? Your exam is over.”
“Didn’t you see? Jae-hak sunbae has come to play in one of the rooms. That’s why there are many people right now.”
"Jae-hak hyung?” Dong-wook was surprised. Ha Jae-hak was a computer engineering major and could be described as the idol of our university. He originally enrolled in the school’s medical department, but it didn’t fit his aptitude, so he switched to computer engineering.
Two years ago, he created a start-up with a group of friends from his academic circles. The smartphone market had explosively developed during the last few years, and he created a marketing intermediary platform called ‘Green Web’... It hit the jackpot.
"How much was Green Web sold for?”
"Three billion won supposedly. JC Soft bought it. Jae-hak hyung... He ate 20% of that.”
As Dong-wook hyung was talking, my friend took out his phone and looked at it. “Then I will be going now. Go there and say hi. There is a fun competition.”
My friend waved his hand as he walked away, and we entered the room. Like my friend said, a competition was waiting.
It wasn’t fun.
There was a bustling atmosphere in the room. It was because of Ha Jae-hak.
"But are you really going to the UCPC (UZ Collegiate Programming Cup)? Hyung doesn’t need to enter, do you?”
It was a programming competition for university students that was regularly hosted by UZ, a large company. Of course, there was no need for Ha Jae-hak to enter. He had created a business that was sold for three billion won.
Ha Jae-hak replied to the question. “Well. It’s fun, even if I don’t care about the prize money or specs. I just don’t want to lose. Aren’t you curious? If I compete in such a competition, how far would I go?”
Ha Jae-hak was a ‘born talent.’ So he could do things he liked without much pressure or burden. It wasn’t a bluff, but a sincerity that came from his mindset. The junior students were paying respect and admiration to Ha Jae-hak.
While listening to his words, they were looking over a ‘problem.’ It was a question that somebody had asked a few minutes ago just for fun. A junior student had asked about the fact that one team member still hadn’t been selected for the UCPC.
As a result, a contest was held on the spot. They picked a problem from an overseas programming forum and all students, including Ha Jae-hak, participated to see who could solve it. If a student solved it faster than they 100% passed. Thus, people were busy thinking about how to solve it.
'Cute people.’ Ha Jae-hak smiled quietly as he looked around at all his juniors. It was quite enjoyable to see. At that moment, the door opened.
"Jae-hak hyung!” Dong-wook, a junior he knew, entered as well as... It was a very charming male junior that he saw for the first time. Dong-wook came up and greeted Ha Jae-hak. The other junior just glanced at him once.
Then he heard some juniors whispering. “Eh? Hee-chul oppa?”
“Really... Originally, that...”
Ha Jae-hak stepped closer to Lee Sang-hoon. Lee Sang-hoon was a junior who admired him for a long time. "Who is that person? He has a force about him.”
"He is Hee-chul hyung. He had the same student number."
“... That Hee-chul?”
"I've been busy lately. When did he start looking like that?”
After glancing disdainfully at Hee-chul and the girls giggling over him, Lee Sang-yoon glanced at Jae-hak again. "He isn’t that much of a good guy. You should know. He studies a lot, so he gets good grades and the professors like him...”
Ha Jae-hak remembered and nodded. His memories of the school were generally consistent with Lee Sang-yoon’s evaluation. Of course, Hee-chul didn’t have a bad intelligence, but according to Ha Jae-hak’s standards of extraordinary friends, he was nothing special. Although he was sincere, he wasn’t outstanding. He didn’t have enough talent to be Ha Jae-hak’s friend.
"Hyung. Please show us the problem.”
“Ahh. Yes.” Two extra sheets of paper were pulled from the printer.
“Good!” With a motivated expression, Dong-wook approached the nearest desk and started to focus. And Hee-chul... He didn’t seem to care about solving the problem. He casually sat down at a table and was looking at it with one hand in his pocket. As if an answer would emerge like that.
“I don’t get it. I want to throw this paper away.” Lee Sang-yoon grumbled and Ha Jae-hak focused on the problem again. Although he pretended not to be able to solve the problem, he actually hadn’t been paying attention to it. It was certainly a tricky problem.
‘Good.’ Ha Jae-hak’s mind shouted with delight. He had caught the clue to the problem. He was probably the first one.
At that moment, the sound of paper being folded was heard. Hee-chul had put the paper in his pocket. “Dong-wook hyung. I'm going now. There are too many people here.”
“Now? Oh, you said you needed to study for the liberal arts exam. Still, let’s solve the problem first.”
“Ah, that.” Hee-chul’s voice wasn’t loud. But as everyone was focusing, they could all hear Hee-chul’s words. "I’m done. Well, it was difficult.”