“I promised you that I’d be here. But did you keep your promise with me?”
“Of course, I bought 50,000 Wons worth of beef. My mom grilled me about where I got it from, hehe.”
Haha… My mother was the type of person to get suspicious if I brought 50,000 Wons worth of food home.
“Good job. Here is your reward kiddo.”
“A gift set!! Wow!”
“And give this spam package to your mother…”
“Thank you… But who are you, mister? I asked my mom yesterday, and she said she’s never met you before.”
“Mmm… you can say I’m a distant relative.”
“Ah… Then should I tell my mom a relative gave these to me?”
“Yeah. I’ll get going then. Listen to your parents and work hard in your studies, kiddo.”
“Eh? You’re leaving so soon? My mom is home right now…”
“It’s fine. Take care~”
I petted his head a few times and moved my footsteps to the Mintra Computer shop where Yuki was.
Ugh, I skipped lunch again while talking to the owner of Mintra about the business. I felt guilty about not buying Yuki a proper meal since we landed on Korean soil; I hurriedly opened the door to Mintra Computers.
“Sorry, Yuki. You must be starving?”
“Ah… You came, Junhyuk?”
Yuki who was sitting with the owner turned her head as she heard my voice. Her shining smile was plastered with bits of black bean sauce everywhere.
“The owner ordered takeout for me. These noodles are amazing!? What was it called… Ja Jien Myun? You should try some!”
“Oh ho, you came back earlier than I expected. Should I order one more plate?”
Street stall foods yesterday and Chinese takeout today… I was glad she liked it; I smiled and glanced at Yuki.
“You should order orange chicken and dumplings while you’re at it.”
I was getting hungry as well, so I didn’t refuse his offer and took a seat. A while later, a Chinese delivery man knocked on the door holding a plate of black bean noodles and the side dishes.
“Wow, having food with one phone call is amazing… I wish I had something like this back in Japan.”
Yuki stared in awe at the food delivery process. Subsequently, as the plate of orange chicken was placed onto the table, Yuki’s eyes glistened in anticipation.
“Yuki, what did you say to the owner for him to order take out for you?”
“I just… When I rubbed my stomach and made a somber face, he ordered it for me... Like this?”
As Yuki pouted her lips and looked at me with puppy eyes, I couldn’t stop myself from bursting out in laughter. The owner saw this exchange and chuckled as he opened his mouth.
“She kept looking at me with those eyes. How could I not get her something to eat, haha?”
Really, Yuki wouldn’t starve no matter where she was on this planet.
It was at this moment. Without any warning, the owner poured the sauce on to the orange chicken!!
Ack!! He poured a steaming cup of sauce on the fried chicken!! This was not a way to show respect to fried food!! But the owner looked at us with a proud expression and spoke.
“Orange chicken goes best with the sauce on top.”
Before it was too late, I hurriedly moved the unaffected ones to a new plate.
The owner gave me a long hard stare. We might have been thinking the same thing at this moment: ‘He won’t do…’
“Wow… what kind of meal is this?”
Yuki couldn’t contain her curiosity as she grabbed a chicken coated with the sauce and bit down on it.
“Mr. Junhyuk, there are too many delicious foods in Korea.”
“She just said it was delicious, right? See~ Pouring sauce over the chicken is the best way to eat it~”
No, I can’t agree with that at all.
Moments later, darkness had already set in when we stepped foot outside the shop.
“Then I’ll contact you again once I return to Japan. Please use the Dragon Emblem cartridges as prizes for the raffles for the time being.”
“Yes, I will take care of it no problem.”
The owner waited with us until a taxi arrived, and waved us off until we were out of view.
“Ah~ I’m full. Oh yeah, where did you go earlier?”
“Mmm, it’s a secret.”
“Hmph, You didn’t tell me you made Dragon Emblem, and now you’re hiding something else from me.”
“No, it’s nothing like that.”
At that moment, the taxi driver cleared his throat and carefully asked me a question.
“Excuse me, where would you like to go?”
“Ah… I’m sorry. The North Mountain please.”
As we were traveling through the busy streets, I looked out the window and saw an old man lighting a cigar on the back of a public transportation bus. Wow… No matter how unrestricted smoking was in this period, I couldn’t believe that someone was lighting a cigar in a bus full of people. The 80s and 90s were the definition of heaven for smokers. Observing the insides of the taxi, I saw a black mark from cigarette burns in the back of the seat.
How much was a single cigarette here… 200 Wons? 300 Wons?
I used to run errands to the store to buy my father’s cigarettes and alcohol…
“What are you thinking about?”
“Nothing much, just some old memories.”
Yuki stayed silent.
Initially, I tried to get to the peak of North Mountain with the taxi, but the vehicles of in the 80s period couldn’t climb steep slopes. Yuki wanted to walk to the top to enjoy the scenery, so we got off the bottom of the mountain and slowly began our hike.
“Eughhh~ I love everything about Korea except for the cold weather. I’m freezing to death right now.”
“Yeah, Japan should be warmer right now.”
“That’s true, but…”
“I’m really having fun. I knew I made the right decision when I boarded that plane. When I return home, I’ll have so many things to tell my mom: that I enjoyed Korea so much, and that I want her to come with me next time.”
To be honest, I’ve never given Yuki a proper tour, yet she still followed me around without any complaints. Last night, while Yuki was fast asleep from walking around all day, I discovered a travel guidebook while I was organizing her carrier. The guidebook showcased various landmarks and attractions of Seoul, with star ratings hand-drawn by Yuki next to the locations.
Amongst them, she had given a 7-star to a night hiking trail.
‘She gave this 7-stars. I’m guessing she wants to visit this place the most?’
I closed the guidebook and stepped out to the terrace to get a view of Namsan tower before turning my head towards the sleeping Yuki.
The Namsan trail of 1988 was completely different from the trail I knew in 2015. A walking path only existed up until halfway up the mountain; light posts were the only guide to the peak of the mountain.
‘Ugh, If I knew it was going to be like this, I would’ve taken her to the 63rd building instead. We could have taken the elevator to the top of the building and see a magnificent view.’
At that moment, a large object passed by my head. This was the Namsan cable car.
‘Oh lordy!! I missed something like that!! Why didn’t I think of that earlier?’
As I was crying my heart out, Yuki who was walking beside me squeezed my hand.
“It’s a bit tiring… But it’s nice walking together with you.”
Since she said that, I had no choice but to grit my teeth and make it to the top… I couldn’t start whining in front of Yuki, could I? I held her hand and resolutely marched to the top. An hour or so had passed. The peak of Namsan mountain finally came into view.
I let out a big sigh and looked around my surrounding and saw a plethora of people enjoying the view here. Yuki was staring at the starlit city with unblinking eyes.
“We’re… dating right?”
Shocked by her sudden question, I stared at her speechless. In truth, we couldn’t be considered an official couple. But I wasn’t completely blind, I knew she felt some affection for me by watching her actions.
Yet if I were to marry Yuki in this time period… What choice would I have to make when I returned to 2015?
“Why aren’t you saying anything?”
As I stammered looking for the right words to say, Yuki asked again with a worried expression. My memories with Yuki beginning from when I met her to now flashed through my head. The more I stayed silent, the more her face grew sullen.
A flash of disbelief appeared in her eyes as I uttered these words. I stared at her for a short moment before continuing.
“I was going to bring this up earlier, but I missed the timing.”
In response, Yuki let out an inaudible sigh of relief and placed her head on my chest as she muttered.
“I thought my heart was tearing apart. You idiot…”
Yuki bursted into tears as her tiny shoulders heaved against my chest. Ah… I did not plan this at all. I wrapped my arms around her and gazed up into the sky.
“Oh… it’s snowing.”
Flurries of white were descending from the sky. But Yuki who was buried in my chest seemed to be embarrassed of her tears and buried her face further and responded.
“No… I’m telling you, it’s snowing!”
“I’m not falling for that.”
Despite her insistence, the people in our surroundings bursted into chatter at the sight of snow.
“It’s a snowfall~”
“Wow~ The snow should be piling up quickly at this rate.”
Yuki responded to the exclamations of the people beside us and peeked out from my chest. As soon as we made eye contact, she buried her head again. I couldn’t help bursting into laughter and gently separated myself from her.
After eyeing her closed eyes for some time, I matched my mouth to her opened lips.