The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage chapter 68

The Heavenly Demon Receives A Massage

A Trip That’s Just Too Far Away

“The distance is a bit far too,” I mentioned.

DaeSung Whales has their home base in Busan. Everyone knows that traveling from Seoul to Busan is quite the distance. It would essentially take up an entire day to go on a business trip there. Sure, you could have a bit of fun at the beach while you’re there…

But what Shim Taeyoon was asking wasn’t the occasional visit like Hanha’s; he was suggesting frequent trips similar to her routine. Hanha herself only agreed because her team, Daejeon, was based nearby; she wouldn’t have considered it seriously if they were located elsewhere. Daejeon was also Kang Taehan’s hometown, which he visited at least three or four times a month, even without work, so going there for a job was more like a minor errand.

“That is true,” Taehan acknowledged. If someone complains about the distance being a problem, it’s tough to argue. Taehan wasn’t one to sit idly by, and his schedule was packed for weeks, as I just heard from the manager.

“Moreover, I expect to be quite busy with business-related matters for a while, so I’m not looking to increase my workload. Sorry about that.”

“I understand,” Taeyoon replied, though his voice bore a resolute firmness.

Shim Taeyoon nodded and internally sighed. ‘So it’s not going to work after all.’

A more typical person would have continued to negotiate, but with someone like Kang Taehan, especially after he had given a clear answer, trying to prolong the conversation could backfire.

‘If only I had known sooner!’

After waking up from a deep sleep post-massage, Shim Taeyoon realized that Son Namsup’s story wasn’t just a tall tale. Simply standing out of bed made him feel so different post-massage that it was as though he had been in a different body altogether.

And that wasn’t all.

Even a casual movement like lifting his arm didn’t cause any shoulder pain, making him pinch himself to check if he was dreaming. This assurance led him to a conviction: the recent explosive performance by Hanha was undoubtedly thanks to the massage therapist, Kang Taehan.

If only they had known before Hanha had, or even when they first discussed it, maybe if Coach Son had mentioned his experience right away… things might have turned out differently.

‘It’s such a pity…’

If only the team could get a session, even just a few players, it would undoubtedly be a huge help.

As these thoughts brewed, the frustration on Shim Taeyoon’s features didn’t fade easily.

“However, I don’t differentiate or discriminate against any of my patrons.”

During the discussion, Kang Taehan casually brought this up. Just as a doctor would not choose his patients, it was a perfectly natural statement for a masseur.

“I may not travel to Busan for appointments, but if your players make reservations and come by themselves, that’s none of my business.”

This meant he wouldn’t personally visit, but he wouldn’t turn away those who came to him. With that, hope flickered anew on Shim Taeyoon’s face.

“Really? Are you serious?”

“There’s no reason for me to lie. It’s the obvious thing to do, after all.”

Taehan was willing to serve any customer, provided they maintained decorum. Shim Taeyoon had just misinterpreted, assuming that ‘Taehan would not give massages to any of the Whales’ players.’

Suddenly, Taeyoon’s face lit up with a genuine smile.

The difference between impossible and partially possible was immense.

‘When was there a game at Jamsil Stadium?’

DaeSung Whales, being based in Busan, had quite the distance to Seoul. However, they obviously had to travel to Seoul when they had a game. Thus, if reservations were made in advance for those days, the players could naturally get a massage before heading to their game.

‘If Jae-seong and Min-jae regain their form, and we win all the remaining games…’

Climbing back up to the fifth spot and making it to the playoffs was a tangible possibility! The mere thought sent waves of excitement through him.

“Mr. Kang, could I possibly make a reservation for two people on these dates in the afternoon?”

Taeyoon, with the game schedule displayed on his smartphone, pointed at two specific dates which coincided with games at Jamsil Stadium.

“Ah, I should’ve mentioned this earlier,” said Kang Taehan with an awkward smile, scratching his cheek. “I’ll soon be opening my own shop, so I’m not accepting new reservations at the moment, only taking limited appointments if there are cancellations.”

“That’s the case?”

It was a situation akin to being given hope and then having it taken away! Though unintentional by Taehan, Taeyoon couldn’t help but feel his excitement dampen.

“Still, you might want to check with the manager outside, there might be some cancellations.”

“Thank you for your time, Mr. Kang.”

Concluding that it was unlikely for such in-demand massages to be cancelled, yet still hoping against hope, Taeyoon stood up to leave.

“By the way, how can I make a reservation at the new place you’re opening?”

With an eager voice, Taeyoon inquired as he bent slightly forward.

“I’m not taking reservations yet since I haven’t settled on a schedule, but would you like me to inform you later?”

“Yes, please, that would be great.”

His voice carried a sense of urgency, repeating the word “please” thrice for emphasis.

“I’ll let the manager know to contact you.”

At that, Kang Taehan couldn’t help but smile as he replied.

* * *

Wednesday.

While it was just a midweek day for everyone else, for Kang Taehan, it marked the beginning of his days off.

He was driving for a good while on the highway on his day off, but this time, he wasn’t heading towards Daejeon. His destination was Gapyeong.

“Would you like a bite of this baked potato, Taehan?” Yoo Se-Ah offered from the passenger seat. After stopping by a rest area, she had been munching on the baked potatoes and offered him a piece the perfect size for one bite.

Nibbling on a potato skewer, I asked Kang Taehan.

“Sounds good.”

“But for that to happen, you’ll have to say ‘ahh’…”

Yoo Se-Ah began to speak playfully with a smile, but she halted abruptly, a flustered look briefly crossing her face. Before she could finish her sentence, Kang Taehan was already responding by opening his mouth wide with an ‘ahh’.

“You’re quick to act, aren’t you?”

“I can’t move my hands while I’m driving.”

Normally, if there was no one watching, he might have been able to simply place the food on the passenger seat and transfer it to his mouth without the need for assistance. But such methods are not available when there are onlookers.

After replying, Kang Taehan opened his mouth again, saying ‘ahh’.

‘Is he dense to these things, or is he just being sly?’

Initially, Yoo Se-Ah thought it was the former, but these days, she was starting to doubt that.

She hesitated for a moment, skewer in hand. Although she was the one who brought up the topic, she felt awkward about actually feeding him.

“It might have cooled down but it could still be hot, so please be careful.”

Overcoming her hesitation, she finally managed to place a potato in Kang Taehan’s mouth and, oddly enough, felt a sense of accomplishment. She then turned her head toward the window for no particular reason; she thought her expression might look odd at the moment.

“But why did you suggest going to Gapyeong?”

After a brief silence, it was Kang Taehan who spoke first.

Yoo Se-Ah replied with a sheepish smile.

“I just wanted to go at least once. Everyone goes to Gapyeong once during their college days, right?”

Gapyeong is well-known as a vacation spot and, especially in summer, the pensions near the valleys are so popular that reservations are hard to come by. Among students, Gapyeong is often the first choice for MT (membership training) trips, and many hold memories of their college days there…

“But this is my first time.”

“Is that so?”

“Yeah. I was always busy with part-time jobs.”

Yoo Se-Ah’s family wasn’t well-off, so she had to juggle school with part-time jobs just to have some spending money of her own. Before securing an agency, she also had to manage acting lessons and audition visits on her own.

As a result, her campus life was marked more by hard work and tight schedules than the leisure typically associated with student life.

“On free periods or holidays, I’d be doing extra roles, and after classes, I’d go off to McDonald’s to serve customers…”

Would you like your Big Mac meal with a coffee instead of a soft drink?

Yoo Se-Ah added playfully with laughter in her voice.

Those times were tough, but now they constituted memories that could somehow be cherished. The experiences were also helping significantly with her acting.

“It’s also my first time going to Gapyeong for leisure.”

“Oh, you too, Taehan?”

“Yes. I’ve been here a few times before though.”

Kang Taehan replied with a light laugh.

“For what reason did you come?”

“I did my military service here.”

“Ah, I see.”

Yoo Se-Ah’s expression turned to one of surprise.

She didn’t know much about it, but among men, there seemed to be a kind of love-hate relationship with the places where they served their military duty.

“Then, isn’t it a bit hard for you to come here? Like, avoiding the area on purpose.”

“Not at all. Especially now… it’s been such a long time.”

Kang Taehan shrugged it off lightly.

To him, it was a matter long past, a sixty-year-old story, so it hardly mattered anymore.

He replied in an unconcerned voice and then continued.

“Rather, it’s kind of exciting.”

“…Excuse me?”

“I mean, I’m glad to be coming to Gapyeong too.”

While driving, Kang Taehan’s gaze remained forward, but one corner of his mouth turned up in a slight smile.

‘It seems like he meant something else…’

Yoo Se-Ah bit her lip in vain and turned her head back toward the window, looking outside.

* * *

“Yes, we have arrived.”

[Then could you please check in inside? You should see the administration office near the camping area; one of the staff there will guide you.]

“Is that two-story building the administration office?”

[Yes, yes, that’s it. They will explain everything from check-in to usage instructions.]

“Understood, thank you.”

After hanging up with the manager, Kang Taehan put his smartphone back into his pocket.

“Shall we head inside then?”

“Yes, it seems we just need to check in at the office.”

Yoo Se-Ah asked and Kang Taehan nodded in response.

The two of them carried their tents lightly and walked toward the administration office in front.

Check-in was straightforward—just a matter of confirming the reservation. After being shown the locations of amenities like the water fountain and bathrooms, they quickly arrived at their designated camping spot.

“So… What should we start with?”

“We should set up the tent first, but…”

As Kang Taehan said this, he looked contemplatively at Yoo Se-Ah. His gaze seemed to ask if she could manage to set up the tent on her own.

“Oh, don’t worry! This is a one-touch tent.”

She had heard that even one-touch tents can be tricky to set up if they are large, but this was a single-person tent, so there should be no such worries.

“I’ll set up mine first then.”

“Don’t worry about it.”

Encouraged by Yoo Se-Ah’s confident tone, Kang Taehan grinned lightly and began to take out the components of his tent from the bag.

‘Well-managed places really are different.’

Kang Taehan pressed down on the ground with his foot, nodding at the nicely laid pebbles and the suitably firm earth beneath them—an absolutely ideal terrain for camping.

He spread out the tent on top and leisurely began to assemble the poles.

Yoo Se-Ah had bought him a rather spacious and large tent for single use. Even though it was big, Kang Taehan had no trouble setting it up on his own.

First, he erected the skeleton of the tent and the inner canopy. Then he covered it with the outer flysheet that served as the tent’s roof. He was about to adjust the angles and secure the tent with stakes when…

“…Taehan.”

Yoo Se-Ah, who had been fiddling with her tent beside him, approached with a woeful tone.

“I think this is defective.”

“Which part?”

“The tent itself.”

Whether the one-touch feature was malfunctioning wasn’t clear.

Kang Taehan, who had been squatting to place the pins, stood up and approached her tent.

Contrary to his expectation, the tent seemed to be correctly set up, but…

“How did you manage to rip this?”

“I didn’t rip it!”

Yoo Se-Ah protested, insisting it wasn’t her fault.

Her tent, spread out on the ground, was designed with a view of the night sky in mind.

It was, as she said, ripped at the rooftop area.



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