The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 30

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

“…Hey. Thanks. I didn’t expect it to be this good.”

“I told you it’s like a save point.”

At Kim Min-yeol’s answer, Lee Dong-chan’s lips curled up slightly.

In games, save points usually come with healing facilities.

Whether it’s a well or an inn.

Though the names and settings vary from game to game, they all share the common feature of dramatically restoring health and mana or even topping them up to the maximum.

To Lee Dong-chan, this place felt just like that.

Even when he was tired and pushed around without proper rest, getting worked to the bone with frequent overtime, visiting this place felt like pressing a ‘load game’ button that rejuvenated him as if by magic.

Of course, he couldn’t turn back time like in the games…

But at least he could refresh his physical condition as if he were a game character who just had a good night’s sleep at an inn.

“I wondered why you were overreacting about it.”

“What, mate? After all the trouble I went through letting you have a go?”

“Exactly. I probably wouldn’t have been able to give it up if it were me.”

Lee Dong-chan’s serious eyes when he suggested going to the sauna. At the time, I didn’t understand his insistence, but now it makes perfect sense.

For an office worker suffering from chronic fatigue, a massage of this caliber is too significant to be given up lightly.

“So, how do you feel now?”

“…Thanks to you, much better. Appreciate it.”

“Cut the thanks. Buy me a drink if you’re grateful.”

Lee Dong-chan chuckled and gave his friend an awkward thanks with a friendly pat on the shoulder.

It seemed there was some merit to having given up his save point after all.

“…Of course, something expensive and tasty.”

Still, there was a lingering sense of regret, so Lee Dong-chan couldn’t help but attach a little disclaimer with some lingering aftertaste.

* * *

“Huuuuh…”

After the drinking session, Kim Min-yeol walked through the night streets alone, pleasantly disposed.

The cool night air seemed to sober him up a little, enhancing his good mood.

“…It’s been a truly good night for the first time in a while.”

After an amazing massage, he felt like he had slept soundly for the first time in ages, took another soak in the bathhouse, and then had a refreshing drink with a friend.

Life couldn’t get any better than this.

Compared to staying up all night for work or falling asleep after fiddling with his smartphone at home, this was the perfect end to the perfect day.

It felt so good he would’ve believed it was all a dream.

But it couldn’t be a dream; his mind was too clear and refreshed.

Even after a few drinks, his thoughts were sharp.

And that’s not all.

Despite frequent overtime causing his body to ache, it now felt like it had been well-oiled and seamless.

The massage’s effects seemed to grow stronger over time as if his loose muscles were slowly fitting back together.

Thanks to that, his usually hunched back was now straight on its own, and his slumped shoulders were spread wide with confidence.

“How long has it been since I’ve felt this refreshed?”

It was as though he was back in his student days, feeling full of life and overflowing with enthusiasm and passion for work.

Of course, it’s not like he actually became younger…

Maybe it was the improved physical condition, but at least his motivation and passion seemed to be revived.

These days, thinking about work only brought feelings of lethargy and pessimism, but now his thoughts seemed to extend wider.

The past him, who acted passively, now seemed frustratingly complacent.

‘The effects must be pretty good.’

Despite drinking, his mind was more active than it had been in a long time.

He thought this level of enthusiasm was something he could only have as a rookie, but it seems he was wrong.

‘…Maybe I should try a little harder.’

His thoughts naturally tended in that direction, thanks to the newfound will and courage.

There were still things he hadn’t tried, and quitting now would leave a lingering regret.

“It’s not too late to quit after things go south.”

Giving up now or trying something drastic, he knew he wouldn’t have any regrets with the latter approach.

So, with things as they were, he might as well push through as much as he wanted.

What’s the worst that could happen? Being fired from the company?

It would just mean his intended resignation was a little delayed.

‘I’ll just put in a bit of effort.’

The massage therapist’s words suddenly came to mind.

Though it was meant to be light, it felt like he received quite a bit of strength.

Not just from the therapist, but also from his friend Lee Dong-chan, who had given up his slot and accompanied him for drinks.

Even if he had quit his job as planned, there would have been other paths, but he would have most likely lived in regret for a while.

Instead of giving up, he decided to muster a bit more strength.

Now he felt he had enough energy to do so, and he smiled to himself in the silent night air.

* * *

Relationships between people are fundamentally about give and take.

When you receive something, you give something back.

That’s the first step towards building a healthy interpersonal relationship.

But what if you receive something too big to pay back all at once?

Then, naturally, settling the debt over two, three, or more instances is the right thing to do.

Therefore…

‘It makes sense to meet a few more times.’

Yoo Se-ah nodded as if agreeing with her own thoughts. She had already treated him to a meal once, but that hardly settled the debt she felt she owed Kang Tae-han for saving her from that near-accident.

He saved her life, so at least ten more favors, no, maybe twenty, would be about right to even the score.

That was what Yoo Se-ah believed.

Why keep meeting, then, when she could just send gifts of equivalent value?

Some might ask…

‘That would be impersonal,’ Yoo Se-ah would reply.

‘And it would also mean lessening the chances of meeting Kang Tae-han, which would be less effective,’ was the real feeling she wasn’t quite acknowledging.

“Sae-ah, it’s nice to…”

“You seem quite familiar with this place,” Kang Tae-han commented as he fiddled with his teacup across from her. The cup itself, with its elegant shape, lovely color, and light weight when held, was clearly a fine piece. The care put into the teacups suggested that equal attention had been given to the tea leaves. True enough, when he opened the teapot and smelled the aroma, a rich fragrance wafted out. Beyond the window lay a modest but well-maintained garden, and the tables were separated by partitions, creating a quiet space suitable for conversation.

“Heh, well… you could say that,” Yoo Se-ah replied nonchalantly, flipping her hair with a leisurely expression. Of course, it was a fib. She had only learned of this place after asking a senior she knew the previous day. She had been searching for a proper, decent teahouse, not just any café, in the area. Thanks to that, she found this place, but there was a minor issue. ‘But now what do I do…’ It was her first time at a proper teahouse. She had assumed that ordering tea would be as simple as getting a cup of coffee, but several things had been brought to the table: the teacup and teapot, and a mysterious thermos. Unsure of what to do next, she froze until Kang Tae-han, with a sly smile, reached for his thermos. First, he poured hot water from the thermos into the teacup, warming the cup and pre-cooling the water slightly before brewing the first cup. Once the cup warmed up, he poured the water into the teapot with the tea leaves. Brewing times vary depending on the type of leaves, but green tea doesn’t need to be steeped for too long. Especially for the first cup, it’s not bad to steep it briefly, just to enjoy the light flavor.

Kang Tae-han performed these steps with a relaxed and slow motion, as if demonstrating for someone. Watching his considerate example, Yoo Se-ah successfully followed suit and poured her first cup. “Oh?” she exclaimed softly as she carefully took her first sip. The green tea she tasted was unlike any she knew, offering a light and profound aroma. The warmth of the tea seemed to seep into her body, with the fragrant smell washing away fatigue… It was an unfamiliar yet pleasantly soothing warmth.

“Is it good?” he asked.

“Yes,” she replied, a bit caught off guard.

Xihu Longjing (West Lake Dragon Well Tea)—She had ordered this green tea without really knowing what it was, simply because Kang Tae-han recommended it. But to her surprise, it suited her palate well. Yoo Se-ah emptied her first cup in silence and then glanced up to inadvertently meet Kang Tae-han’s gaze.

“Was it that obvious?” she initiated.

“What was?”

“That it’s my first time in a place like this.”

“Yes, I guess it’s like that,” he said with a hint of a smile, to which Yoo Se-ah leaned back in her chair with a light sigh.

“To be honest, I don’t really know much about tea. I usually just drink iced Americanos at cafés… And I only ordered this Xihu Longjing, or was it Xihu Longgong, because you recommended it…”

“I didn’t realize you didn’t know because of that,” Kang Tae-han shook his head as he spoke.

“I just noticed you seemed a bit troubled. People new to drinking tea think there’s some special way to do it and they get anxious. Of course, there are more sophisticated ways to enjoy tea, like considering the temperature of the tea water, how long to steep the tea leaves, and from what height to pour the tea from the teapot. Each of these elements can add a subtle difference. But if you try to follow all these details too strictly, you won’t be able to enjoy the actual tea. The tea ceremony, the etiquette— While such things may be considered cultured, if they hinder the enjoyment of tea, then they are of no value. ‘It’s not such a huge difference after all.’ Those who truly love tea may have strict standards for themselves, but they don’t criticize others. At least that’s what Kang Tae-han had observed in the people he had seen so far.

“Just drink comfortably. Steep the leaves, pour the brewed tea into your cup, and enjoy it. There are really only those two rules to follow.”

“Is that so…” Hearing his explanation, Yoo Se-ah began to pour water into the teapot again and soon after, served herself a second cup. Perhaps because she felt more at ease this time, the flavor and aroma of the tea seemed to reach her more profoundly than before. ‘It could be much better than I thought…’ There was a sensation that settled nicely in her mouth. She had been told to cut down on caffeine, and it now occurred to her that making a switch to green tea wouldn’t be a bad idea.

“That said, next time I should treat you,” Kang Tae-han said, taking a sip of his tea. They had come to the teahouse after finishing a meal, and just like last time, Yoo Se-ah had paid.

“Why should you pay?” she asked.

“I can’t always be treated by you,” he responded.

She lightly waved a hand. “It’s not like that. I’m just returning the favor.”

“What? You’re still thinking about that?” Kang Tae-han looked incredulous, despite him having told her it was unnecessary. She was still stuck on the need for repayment.

“I was just enjoying our meetings.”

Yoo Se-ah, who had been taking a sip from her teacup, began coughing abruptly. But even in her surprise, her gaze remained fixed on Kang Tae-han.

“Are you okay?”

“Cough, yes, I’m fine. But, what did you just say?”

“I said, I’ve enjoyed our meetups.”

In that moment, Yoo Se-ah’s cheeks flushed a bright red. It was an angle she hadn’t considered before. Or rather, why was this man throwing such a curveball all of a sudden? Her mind got all muddled. However, with his next words, the confusion cleared away as if a weight had been lifted.

“There’s no reason to dislike it. I’ve had a good time having a meal and drinking tea with a nice person.”

“Ah… So you’re saying you’ve enjoyed our time together.”

Yoo Se-ah’s voice had calmed down considerably, and she let out a soft sigh of relief.

‘What was I even thinking?’

She lifted her teacup again, taking a moment to moisten her throat. Even a tea that suited her well couldn’t immediately calm her startled heart.



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