The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 49

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

After the evening rush of customers thinned out at the restaurant, the time slowly transitioned to a more tranquil atmosphere, as if the bustle had never been.

Taehan’s Diner, operated by Kang Tae-han’s father, Kang Ho-yeon, would typically become a place for familiar local patrons to remain, leisurely engage in conversation, and enjoy the relative quiet.

Perhaps it was a characteristic of long-standing neighborhood eateries.

Even though there had been an influx of new customers lately, this unique ambiance still lingered faintly.

“Wow, these days the Hanha guys are playing surprisingly well.”

In the midst of this, an uncle, sitting with acquaintances, exclaimed in admiration while looking at his smartphone.

Displayed on the screen was a live broadcast of a baseball game.

Crack! Timed perfectly, a hit soared past the foul line and flew deep into the field, allowing the runner on second base to score at home.

It was a smooth play that brought the score to a tie, recovering from an early deficit.

“Mr. Kim, still watching baseball?”

“I had stopped for a while. But lately, it’s been really entertaining, you know? Especially with players like Kim Tae-pyeong and An Ki-ho suddenly stepping up their game.”

“Those guys? Come on. It’s about time they retired. Do you think I’d believe that?”

The players mentioned were prominent back when he used to follow games closely.

Still, with nothing else to do, he watched the game curiously on the side.

“What’s this? Striking out here?”

“Choi Tae-joon’s been doing really well these days.”

“Wow, what a catch! That’s how you defend!”

One after another, the Hanha Hawks executed neat outs and shifted to offense, quickly scoring a run and taking the lead.

Even Mr. Choi, who was watching disinterestedly at first, became engrossed and couldn’t help but express his amazement.

“Man, they’re really good. How can this be?”

Although he hadn’t watched a game for a while, he was well aware of Hanha’s losing streak and poor performance from occasionally catching sports news.

But to see such skill on display was unexpected.

“Was it last week? Since then, they’ve suddenly been in top form. Even when they lose, they’re playing real baseball now.”

Baseball, a sport that can often lead to frustration, has given Hanha fans, more than others, many such moments.

Therefore, the simple standard for Hanha fans has become, ‘Just play real baseball.’

These days that’s considered the baseline expectation.

“What, did they dope or something?”

“Just recently, there was an article about it. The opposing team raised suspicions of doping, so they underwent additional testing.”

“And? Nothing came up?”

“This person here, really. If something had come up, they wouldn’t be playing now, would they? They’d have been penalized.”

Mr. Choi’s comment elicited a gesture of frustration from Mr. Kim towards the screen.

Mr. Choi shrugged sheepishly.

“So, why the sudden improvement? You’d think intense training at the beginning of the season, but now it’s near the end.”

“Shall I tell you why?”

At that moment, Kang Ho-yeon, who had been cleaning the kitchen, came out with a smug smile and joined the conversation.

Even before he spoke, his expression was one of pride.

“It’s all thanks to our Taehan.”

“Taehan? The owner’s son?”

“Yes, that’s right. He was asked by the team’s coach, or something like that.”

At his words, both Mr. Kim and Mr. Choi smiled and nodded, knowing all too well the pride a parent has for their child’s achievements.

“Really now, so Taehan became a coach for Hanha?”

“Wasn’t he in… what was it? Sports medicine?”

“Not a coach exactly, but something like that… He’s been helping players with conditioning, injury treatment, that sort of thing.”

“Come on. Doesn’t every team do that? If that was all it took to improve, it would’ve happened a long time ago.”

The two shook their heads at Kang Ho-yeon’s words.

It was a very sensible response.

However, the next thing Kang Ho-yeon said piqued their interest.

“No, you don’t understand. Taehan’s got quite the knack for it. Who do you think fixed my shoulder? Didn’t I tell you?”

“Really?”

Both men knew that Kang Ho-yeon had suffered from a shoulder injury and how it had hindered his ability to make his renowned hand-tossed noodles. Now, with his energy seemingly restored and the wrinkles on his face lessening as though he had turned back the years, it was rumored to be due to Taehan’s massages.

What might have been dismissed as overblown paternal boasting took on a semblance of credibility, as they themselves had observed the changes in Kang Ho-yeon.

“Even so, that sounds a bit far-fetched…”

“Cough. Can I try it sometime too?”

Mr. Choi shook his head while waving his hand.

But Mr. Kim quickly interjected, eager to claim his turn.

“You could ask, but I wouldn’t know. It’s Taehan’s business.”

“Even so, I saw when Taehan went to university, and I gave him some pocket money on his first break, didn’t I?”

Kang Ho-yeon could not readily promise anything, worried that it might be a burden on his son, and thus he kept a cautious stance.

Mr. Kim then began to recount fond memories and anecdotes of his interactions with Taehan, advocating for himself.

“Mr. Kim, what are you doing now?”

Meanwhile, Mr. Choi’s expression turned serious as he chimed in.

“I’ve given Taehan more money than you. Plus, Taehan was in the same class as my son back in kindergarten, or was it second or fourth grade of elementary school? Anyway, they were classmates twice.”

A relaxing massage and the possibility of rejuvenation had initially kept them reserved, but now, both Mr. Kim and Mr. Choi began recounting their connections to Taehan eagerly.

* * *

“Camping gear, huh…”

Yoo Se-ah murmured in a low voice, unable to close her mouth as she scanned the surroundings in awe.

“There’s far more stuff than I expected.”

One large section was completely filled with camping equipment.

There were tables, chairs, cooking utensils like pots and burners, and even lighting equipment like stands.

The space was utilized efficiently, with tents set up like a real campsite for display, and there were even small items like coffee machines and large batteries that one might not immediately associate with camping gear.

“I heard that outdoor sports and camping are becoming trendy.”

But she hadn’t expected quite this extent.

It wasn’t as if it were arranged like a thematic exhibition—it was just merchandise on display, yet it somehow felt overwhelming just to look at.

Yoo Se-ah gazed up at the tents suspended from the ceiling, marveling as if seeing something extraordinary.

Indeed, the variety.

“There are quite a few.”

Kang Taehan picked up one of the braziers on display in front of him.

It was just the right size to light a small campfire.

And despite its solid-looking exterior, it was lighter than he had expected, making it quite portable.

Initially, Taehan planned to just look at sleeping bags or tables, but as he perused the array of items arrayed before him, he found himself becoming interested.

‘If these were sold in the martial arts world, they would be a huge hit.’

One might assume martial artists prefer simplicity in their travels, but the image was overly romanticized.

Certainly, with their internal energy, they would not easily fall prey to adversity, but the desire for a comfortable, warm bed to sleep in and good food to eat was universal.

In that context, some of the items in the camping section could be considered treasures of a martial sect.

Whether it was a waterproof tent that remains dry in the rain, an insulating mat for the ground, a thermal sleeping bag that retains heat, or an instant setup tent.

Any one of these items could dramatically improve the quality of camping out in the wilderness.

As Taehan examined the products, he recalled a time when he almost froze to death sleeping out in the forest, and he couldn’t help but let out a smirk.

“How about this one, Taehan?”

At that moment, Yu Seoa lifted a camping chair and asked.

Taehan glanced at it and saw that despite lacking armrests and being flat and spacious, it looked comfortable enough to sit cross-legged on.

“Looks good.”

“Right? It just caught my eye.”

Seoa giggled at Taehan’s response.

Of course, she had chosen it simply for its appealing color and sophisticated design, but the result was nevertheless satisfactory.

“What were you looking at, Taehan?”

“I was actually considering this tent here.”

Taehan pointed towards a tent that was spread out on display.

Although it seemed less convenient, it was a good size for one person and came equipped with waterproof features.

“Oh, a tent…”

Examining the tent, Seoa pointed to another one nearby, from the same manufacturer but significantly larger, almost double in size.

“Hmm, isn’t this one better? Generally, bigger is better than smaller, right?”

“Isn’t it too big for one person?”

“You never know. You might have to share it with someone else later.”

Seoa said casually but soon turned her head away with flushed ears when she realized her words could be misinterpreted.

‘After all, I could go with my father.’

She remembered how recently, on a drive, her father had suggested that they could go hiking or camping together.

Recalling that conversation, Taehan nodded his head.

“Well, I might have a chance to go soon.”

“Huh?”

As Seoa’s eyes met Taehan’s, she was flustered without realizing it.

Then Taehan, with a light smile and a calm voice, said.

“My father mentioned it the other day.”

“Oh…”

Seoa’s ears quickly lost their heat.

“You seem to have a really good relationship with your father.”

Seoa said in a slightly awkward voice, responding with a half-hearted reaction, expecting no less.

However, thinking about it again, Seoa felt a tightness in her chest.

“Taehan, then I’ll buy this tent for you.”

“What?”

At her words, Taehan waved his hand in refusal.

“Where do you see someone getting a tent in return for a can of tea leaves? That’s hardly an equal exchange.”

“No, it’s fine, but…”

Seoa paused, briefly looked away, and then added,

“…Just take me with you next time.”

Silence followed as she averted her gaze, which turned out to be a poorer choice; her reddened ears were now exposed despite her sunglasses covering her eyes.

After a moment of silence, Taehan watched her and then responded with a gentle smile.

“Then I guess we need to buy two chairs.”

* * *

“Ah, did you know about this, Taehan? I’m going to be on Blmission.”

“Blmission, as in… Blind Mission?”

Blind Mission was an entertainment show that had been popular for quite a long time, lasting over three years. It involved participants receiving missions in a particular location, with one of them assigned to tag the others in a game of pursuit.

“Yes, that’s right. I’m so excited about it. I’ll be appearing on it with senior Jo Chanyuk and teacher Choi Seonhee. You know, I really loved Blind Mission in the past.”

Seoa spoke brightly, perhaps excited about the Blind Mission appearance, or maybe because of the recent interaction in the camping section.

“Come to think of it, didn’t you say you were going to play golf, Taehan?”

While passing by the golf equipment section, Seoa casually asked Taehan.

He chuckled and responded.

“No, I only tried it out once before.”

“Oh, is that so?”

Seoa appeared confused. She had recently taken lessons from a friend to impress Taehan with her golf skills, believing he played golf.

With a brief disappointed look across her face that was just a moment ago bright, Seoa was now slightly disheartened.

“Taehan oppa?”

Then, a female voice called out from ahead.

It was an unfamiliar voice, but precisely because of that, it resounded clearly in Seoa’s ears.

“What a coincidence to meet you here!”

Meanwhile, the woman, looking delighted, quickly approached Taehan.

He too greeted her with a smile.

“What’s up, Eunbi? Why are you in Seoul?”

“I have to start preparing to go pro again. I needed to greet some people, so I came up for a bit. But… is this lady with you?”

The cheerful Chae Eunbi looked at the woman standing next to Taehan and asked. Perhaps it was a hunch, but her voice quivered slightly with tension.

In such situations, it is appropriate for the mutual acquaintance to introduce both parties.

Taehan first gestured towards Eunbi and introduced her to Seoa.

“Oh, this is Eunbi, a younger friend I met at the golf range. And…”

He was about to introduce Seoa to Eunbi when he hesitated. If he was trying to keep his identity concealed by wearing sunglasses, was it right to introduce her as an acquaintance?

But the next moment,

“Hello. I’m actress Yu Seoa.”

Seoa slightly removed her sunglasses and greeted Eunbi with a nod and a smile.

While her face was smiling…

Her eyes held the sternness of a tiger warding off a wolf that had encroached upon its territory.



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