The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 46

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

Tada! Since there weren’t any particularly impressive local specialties, I brought something from the duty-free shop!”

Yusea unveiled a small box with a smile and placed it on the table.

Despite its modest size, it was clear that the item was an elegantly wrapped and expensive luxury.

‘A gift.’

As Yusea herself said earlier, she wasn’t even on a leisure trip, but she had still thoughtfully brought back a gift.

Feeling a renewed appreciation for her kindness, Kang Taehan picked up the box from the table.

“May I open it?”

“Yes, I actually enjoy watching the recipient’s reaction when they open the gift I give them.”

In response to Yusea’s words, Kang Taehan, with a smile in his eyes, slowly unwrapped the box.

Inside was a palm-sized glass bottle containing a transparent liquid with a hint of light blue.

“This is… perfume.”

Although he lacked knowledge about perfumes, even Kang Taehan recognized it as a product of a famous brand he had heard of a few times.

After spritzing a little on his wrist and smelling it, he detected a crisp, light, and clean scent.

When Kang Taehan glanced at Yusea, she smiled and said,

“Taehan, you have a dignified presence and are…charming. Um.”

Yusea stopped herself from saying ‘charming’ and awkwardly cleared her throat.

“Anyway, sometimes a fresh scent seems like it would match your appearance… So, I chose this one.”

She cast a furtive glance his way, wondering if the perfume was a miss.

Should she have taken Chanhyuk senior’s advice and just bought tiger balm instead?

Just as she was caught in this thought,

“I like it. It’s to my liking.”

Kang Taehan expressed his pure gratitude with a slight smile.

Even though he wasn’t familiar with perfumes, he felt that this one oddly suited him.

It must have been a carefully considered choice.

“If I accept a gift… I should give something in return…”

“Oh, there’s no need! I didn’t give this to you to make you feel obliged, I just genuinely wanted to gift it.”

At Kang Taehan’s words, Yusea gestured with her hands in dismissal.

But before she could finish speaking, Kang Taehan suddenly lifted a paper bag from the side.

He had brought it with him on purpose and had placed it beside his seat earlier.

“What’s that?”

“It’s nothing much, just something I also wanted to give to you, Yusea.”

Utilizing her previous words, he smiled, and Yusea’s expression was awash with surprise.

While it made sense for her to have brought a gift from her trip abroad, it was unexpected for Kang Taehan since he hadn’t mentioned anything about having a gift for her; he couldn’t have prepared a return gift in advance.

“It’s a good thing. I happen to have a return gift ready.”

Kang Taehan smiled and pushed forward the gift he had brought.

Yusea held the gift, staring momentarily in a daze before finally taking out the box inside.

“Ah, uh. Is it okay if I check this, too?”

“Of course.”

Feeling the slightly heavy weight in her hands, Yusea hesitantly began to open the box lid after Kang Taehan nodded.

Soon, a smile appeared on her lips.

“It’s beautiful.”

A small tea set comprised two cups, a teapot, and a water bowl.

The tea service shone like white porcelain and was adorned with simple yet elegant blue patterns, adding a touch of elegance.

Yusea gazed at the cups for some time, her eyes deep with admiration, still holding the box lid.

“Did you buy this because I developed an interest in tea?”

She asked subtly, and Kang Taehan nodded.

“I recently visited a department store and they had a themed section dedicated to the tea ceremony. It instantly reminded me of you, so I purchased it right then.”

The last time Yusea enjoyed tea here, she had shown considerable interest. Kang Taehan’s trip to the department store had been for another reason, but seeing the themed corner open with fine items prompted him to buy the set.

“What should I do…”

Yusea finally closed the box lid, which she’d been holding, her voice trembling slightly.

“Hmm. Don’t you like it?”

“No, I love it.”

Then, with a shy smile, she grinned broadly.

Gifts often represent a token of effort, but they also mean that the giver has spent time thinking about the receiver.

This gift was proof that Kang Taehan had remembered her, hoping she would like it, even while he was preoccupied with other errands. Yusea clutched the paper bag that now contained the box with care.

“I think I’m going to like tea too much because of you, Taehan.”

She smiled brightly, her expression as clear as a child’s.

Seeing her face, Kang Taehan couldn’t help but chuckle.

“But, what’s the name of this tea that I’m drinking right now? Was it Seohoyongjeong? Where can I get such teas?”

Suddenly, a thought crossed her mind, and she asked.

To brew tea, she needed tea leaves, but the only green teas she knew were the tea bags sold in supermarkets.

“I should have prepared tea leaves as well. You can either get them from a department store or order them online.”

Kang Taehan regretted not having thought of it earlier.

The department store’s themed corner was not only stocked with tea sets but also offered a variety of tea leaves including green and black teas.

However, at Kang Taehan’s words, Yusea’s face lit up for a moment before shifting to a bashful expression.

She hesitantly opened her mouth.

“Then… shall we go shopping for it together next time?”

“That sounds like a great idea. The themed section I saw at the department store was quite well-organized.”

Kang Taehan answered as he poured green tea into his cup.

He followed naturally with a response.

The establishment of a natural next meeting!

Upon hearing Kang Tae-han’s answer, Yoo Se-ah nodded her head, a small yet contented smile gracing her features.

* * *

“Hey, what’s with Hanha these days?”

Pointing at the monitor, Shim Tae-yoon, the manager of the Daesung Whales baseball team, spoke and the chief coach beside him tilted his head with a puzzled expression.

“I was wondering the same. There’s nothing in particular that stands out.”

The monitor displayed the score of the game played against Hanha today, along with various metrics.

The result was Daesung’s defeat.

They were leading by three runs initially, but the score leveled during the 5th inning and they ended up being overturned in the second half.

“Maybe they’re just shining at the end of the season? You know how Hanha occasionally plays well.”

At the batting coach’s comment, the manager furrowed his brows with a shake of his head.

“If it’s just luck shining through, that would be apparent. What we’re seeing isn’t just luck; it’s a significant improvement in some players’ performances. Especially these guys.”

The manager was indicating a few players from Hanha.

Lee Kwan-ho, Kim Tae-pyeong, Jang Ho-jun, and others.

Once key players for Hanha, age had caught up with them and their forms had significantly declined.

However, their performance had abruptly improved since last week.

“During the game, it seemed like their overall physical abilities had improved. Like they had returned to their former selves?”

A professional athlete typically starts out relying on youth and strength, then as they age, relies on experience and cunning. But today, it looked like these players had regained the physicality of their youth.

“So, what, they found a fountain of youth?”

“But then again, players like Choi Tae-joon are good too lately. It goes beyond simply being in good condition… It’s as if they’ve found a fountain of youth.”

The chief coach hesitated, pondering if there was another expression he could use, but apparently finding none better than the one he’d used.

“What in the world did they do? Do they have some kind of secret?”

“Could there be something in their training program?”

“If it’s an intensive training camp, maybe, but suddenly in the middle of the season?”

“Or could it be doping?”

“Come on, how would they bypass doping tests then?”

Various opinions were thrown around, but none of them were conclusive.

Time was passing without any tangible results.

“Um, I know someone from the Hanha staff.”

In the midst of the conversation, the quietly contemplative training coach carefully started.

“Not too long ago a masseur was brought in, and the players responded really well to it. Could it be an effect from that…?”

The table fell silent at these words.

The first to react to what the training coach said was manager Shim Tae-yoon.

“Pfft.”

Laughter escaped uncontrollably.

He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand and then slowly shook his head.

“Sorry, Coach Song. I’m not trying to dismiss you, but that’s not it. Honestly, I find the new doping story we mentioned earlier more convincing.”

Shim Tae-yoon did not overlook the effectiveness of massages.

Massage can relieve muscle tension, ease the stress and fatigue accumulated from previous games, and significantly contribute to the players’ rest and condition management.

But that was it.

At least, the massage’s impact known to Shim Tae-yoon did not include explosively enhancing the physicality of players in such a way.

“Yeah, you’re probably right.”

The one who had spoken knew that as well.

As the training coach scratched his head awkwardly, the others around erupted into belated laughter.

* * *

It was a Monday morning, and the sun had not yet fully risen.

“Haah…”

Alone in the empty hot bath, Lee Byeong-ho let out a deep sigh.

He stared blankly at the ceiling for a moment, then gently massaged his right wrist with his left hand.

“It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in a bathhouse.”

The author of ‘Moorim Hunter,’ a webtoon serialized on a famous platform.

Originally, he had been so pressed for daily releases that he’d all but forgotten about things like bathhouses, but now his work was on a long hiatus.

Even on hiatus, rather than resting properly or working seriously, he found himself in this awkward middle-ground, and had come here due to a massage shop appointment introduced to him by his managing producer.

He initially left home thinking, ‘I made the appointment, so I might as well go,’ but once actually soaking in the bath, he found the experience better than expected.

‘Maybe a change like this could be helpful now and then.’

On a quiet Monday morning in a seemingly private bathhouse.

He pondered whether sitting dumbly rather than wrestling with non-emerging plot ideas would be more beneficial.

At least it might improve his mood.

In fact, while soaking in the bath, his mind seemed to clear a bit.

And not only that, but a few episodes that he could use in his work came to mind.

‘Going to a hot spring isn’t a bad idea for a single episode. You’d enter a gate that opened in a snowy mountain, and then you’d receive help from a hermit who had achieved a reverse aging.’

Bando-hwandong (反老還童), in martial arts fiction, is a phenomenon where an old master retains his inner power while regaining the body of his youth.

Now, how should he depict a character who has undergone Bando-hwandong?

An appearance that was young, but an aura that didn’t match the age, heavy and mature—that’s what would need to be captured.

As his thoughts shifted from plotting to character design.

“……”

A young man entered the bathhouse.

Normally, Lee Byeong-ho would have diverted his gaze and thought nothing of it, but his eyes continued to follow the newcomer.

The moment he saw the young man, inspiration for his character struck him.

‘That’s right. That kind of vibe would be perfect.’

The young man’s name was Kang Tae-han.

Although he hadn’t literally experienced Bando-hwandong, he had undergone the closest thing to it, and now his model was walking right in front of Lee Byeong-ho’s eyes.



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