Han Se-Yeon deployed her OP sociability skills to deftly lead the womenfolk crowding around her and began building a sizable base of influence.
While watching this scene unfold, Kang Jin-Ho felt a chill creeping up on his skin after noticing the blurry boundaries being set up among the social circles of females.
'Right, she has always been like that...'
Kang Jin-Ho abruptly remembered that a group of three, sometimes four, girls used to always accompany Han Se-Yeon back in their high school days.
That occurrence became a lot rarer after she began hanging out with either Kang Jin-Ho or Park Yu-Min, though.
But that didn't change the fact that she was surrounded by lots of friends in the past.
Park Yu-Min looked openly uncomfortable with all these strangers crowding around him, but they were too drunk to notice or care.
Actually, Park Yu-Min's lack of strongly-worded rejection gave them the wrong idea, causing the drunkards to talk to him unreservedly as if they knew each other for years.
I gotta say, I've never seen anyone who can drink as much as you.”
Inevitably, Kang Jin-Ho also began attracting a sizable crowd himself.
The first person to engage him in a conversation was a woman with long natural hair.
He replied in his usual unconcerned manner, “It's nothing special.”
“My name is Jin Mi-Hui.
Let's be friends from now on.”
Jin Mi-Hui grinned softly.
"Are you always this economical with your words"
Kang Jin-Ho shrugged his shoulders.
"You think I am"
"I prefer that, though.
I've never particularly liked guys who talk too much."
Kang Jin-Ho smiled wryly as Jin Mi-Hui's grin deepened.
It was... nice of her to like his taciturn attitude, but that didn't mean he felt comfortable about her overt friendliness in their first encounter.
Jin Mi-Hui leaned closer to ask a question, “By the way Are you...
“With whom” Kang Jin-Ho tilted his head.
“Han Se-Yeon, of course.”
Suddenly, everyone's focus shifted over to Kang Jin-Ho.
Even Han Se-Yeon was waiting in anticipation for his reply.
Unfortunately for her, Kang Jin-Ho's reply was instantaneous, “No.”
The excitement levels in various sections of the crowd instantly heightened from his succinct reply.
It seemed that his answer went down pretty well with both the men and women for different reasons.
Jin Mi-Hui looked back at Han Se-Yeon.
“Is it true”
“You two are not dating or anything like that, right”
Of course not,” Han Se-Yeon replied curtly.
Park Yu-Min couldn't help but notice the sharpness in her voice.
'Yup, makes sense she's angry...'
He could only sigh under his breath.
Just when would his friend's mental illness get better Could it really be incurable, after all
The drinking party continued as the night deepened.
Soon, the revelers too drunk and tired to carry on began appearing in their midst.
That was when the spectacles-wearing senior decided to make an announcement.
Everyone, it's about time we wrap this one up.
Leaving behind lingering feelings during the first meeting is the right way to end things, after all! You should head home before the bus service ends for the night, everyone."
“But, senior! Let's just keep going!”
"If you feel unfulfilled, then well, you're more than welcome to participate in the next freshmen get-together.
I promise you, you'll get to cut loose the whole night then."
Rueful-sounding protests rose from here and there, but the spectacles-wearing senior was adamant.
"There, there! I won't stop anyone who wishes to go bar hopping with their new acquaintances.
However, remember to stay out of trouble! You get my drift, yes"
People began leaving the bar in small groups as things wound down gradually.
Kang Jin-Ho observed the situation, then got up.
“We should get going, too.”
Park Yu-Min got up while nodding, but Han Se-Yeon didn't say a word in response.
Before they could leave, though, a sudden commotion stopped them in their tracks.
The spectacles-wearing senior and the group of his friends were by the bar's counter, looking visibly flustered.
"H-hey, where's our money for the drinks"
“Gil-Yeong collected it before coming here, didn't he Check his pockets.”
“...It's not on him.”
“Come on, Gil-Yeong! Wake up, will ya!”
Despite the attempts to sober him up, Gong Gil-Yeong was too unconscious to respond.
“Seriously! Gimme a freaking break.
Where did he leave the damn cash”
“Someone go check in the bathroom.
Maybe he dropped it somewhere there.”
The spectacles-wearing senior left his flustered friends behind and tried to explain their situation to the bar's owner.
"We're really sorry about this, but...
Sir, the guy in our group responsible for picking up the bill is knocked out cold, as you can see.
Can we pay you at a later time I'll leave behind my student ID if that's what you want, sir."
The bar owner narrowed his eyes.
“Don't you have a credit card”
"Students take breaks from semesters all the time, not to mention all the fake student IDs doing the rounds nowadays, too.
Do you really think I'll believe you that easily"
The senior was flabbergasted.
"But, sir, don't you recognize us We've come here several times before.
We're from Business Management Class C, and..."
"Do you have any idea how many customers we serve in a day Forget it, you gotta pay now.
The last time I believed someone and put it on a tab, the student ID turned out to be a fake, and I lost over a million won."
"We'll leave several student IDs, in that case.
If that's not enough, we'll even leave our national IDs, too.
Sir, can you just do us this favor this one time"
The bar owner scoffed.
"Who doesn't have a credit card in this day and age Just pay with your cards now and deal with your banks later."
The senior was getting desperate now.
The thing is, none of us own credit cards, so..."
“You think I'll believe that story Enough wasting my time, guys.
Pay up, or you're not going home today.”
Gimme a break." The senior was this close to tearing his hair out.
That's when Kang Jin-Ho silently walked up to the counter and pulled out his wallet.
"How much is it"
The owner cocked an eyebrow.
"You want to pick up the bill, then"
“I'm asking you, how much”
“It's 1.29 million won.”
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly took out his card and presented it.
The owner took the card and asked a question before processing the payment.
"How many months will your installment plan gonna be"
“That's a debit card.”
"Oh..." The owner glanced at Kang Jin-Ho, processed the payment, then handed the card and receipt over to him.
Kang Jin-Ho chucked the receipt in the bin and exited the bar.
“Hold on!” The spectacles-wearing senior called out to him again.
“Can I help you” Kang Jin-Ho stopped at the doorway and looked back.
“I'm really sorry that you had to do this.
I'll find the missing money and pay you back as soon as possible.”
“I don't mind, as long as you don't tell anyone that I paid today, senior.”
“Uh Oh, okay.
I won't tell.”
Kang Jin-Ho silently nodded once and walked outside with Park Yu-Min and Han Se-Yeon following close by.
They found the drunk-out-of-minds university students waiting around in a group right outside the bar.
The spectacles-wearing senior soon emerged outside and shouted at them, “Okay, listen up, everyone! Those who had too much to drink, get in a taxi and go home right away.
Those who can still count their fingers without any issues, make sure the people next to you get home safely!”
Another round of commotion ensued until some semblance of calm returned to the sidewalk in front of the bar.
Kang Jin-Ho waited until this moment, then spoke to his friends, “We should go too.”
Park Yu-Min nodded.
Kang Jin-Ho then turned his attention over to Han Se-Yeon.
“How will you get home”
She crossed her arms across her chest.
"No need to concern yourself."
"It's gotten late.
Be careful on your way home," said Kang Jin-Ho.
She suddenly shot back at him.
"And what does it matter to you whether I'm careful or not!"
Kang Jin-Ho frowned deeply at that outburst.
"Why are you getting mad at me for"
“Getting mad! Whatever.
Good night!” Han Se-Yeon spun around to leave so fast that cold winds whipped up in her wake.
She angrily walked away, her shoes making loud clomps against the ground.
Kang Jin-Ho sighed at that.
Park Yu-Min nudged him from the side.
“Come on, Jin-Ho.
Go after her.”
“Why She wants to go home alone, right”
“Are you seriously thinking of letting a girl her age go home alone at this hour Go after her.”
Kang Jin-Ho shook his head.
"Don't feel like it."
Park Yu-Min chided him with a slightly tense face.
"A man shouldn't act like that."
"I'll take a taxi, so you make sure Se-Yeon gets home, whether it's on another taxi or whatever."
"...Do I have to"
Park Yu-Min firmly nodded.
"Yeah, you do."
Kang Jin-Ho groaned again.
He found it a little difficult to argue back when the one chiding him was none other than the kind-hearted Park Yu-Min.
This boy would never insist on the wrong thing, to begin with.
As such, the fact that he was this unhappy could only mean that Kang Jin-Ho had done something dumb again.
I'll do that."
If someone else talked to him like this, Kang Jin-Ho would have never accepted it as a piece of advice.
If this was Zhongyuan, he might even cut their heads off.
But now Kang Jin-Ho simply nodded away in acceptance.
After all, he had already accepted Park Yu-Min as his friend.
Friends were supposed to be equals, and it felt like Park Yu-Min was giving him important advice here.
A friend's advice should be considered favorably—as long as that friend was someone Kang Jin-Ho had acknowledged, of course.
You be careful on your way, too.”
Park Yu-Min chuckled.
“I'll be going home in a taxi, so I'll be fine.
Bye." Kang Jin-Ho sighed, then went after Han Se-Yeon.
She had walked off so quickly that he couldn't see her figure anymore.
He shook his head helplessly, then began tracking Han Se-Yeon's aura.
“Let me go!” Han Se-Yeon threw off a man's hand grabbing hers.
The suspicious-looking man grinned at her.
"Aww, don't be like that now.
Come on, I'll treat you."
“I told you, I'm not interested.”
"Eii, you look kinda tipsy already, though It's still early, so why are you heading home so soon" As he said that, the man's leering gaze was scanning Han Se-Yeon's figure from top to bottom.
“It's none of your business, so let me go!”
"Don't be like that~.
Come on, baby.
I promise I'm gonna show you a good time."
“I said, let me go!”
That was the scene greeting Kang Jin-Ho when he found Han Se-Yeon.
He quickly walked up to her.
“Is there a problem here”
The man cocked an eyebrow.
“Huh Who the hell are you”
Han Se-Yeon's reaction was less than welcoming, however.
"Why are you here!"
Kang Jin-Ho stared coldly at the man still holding onto Han Se-Yeon's hand.
Let her go.”
“I won't repeat myself.”
The suspicious-looking man slowly let Han Se-Yeon go and stepped back.
In a situation like this, he might think about raising his voice and starting a fight, but his gut feeling strongly warned him not to do that with this youth.
That gut feeling was backed up by the deathly chill running down his spine and all the hair on his scalp standing up at those non-threatening words.
Kang Jin-Ho quietly muttered, “Get lost.”
That was all he needed to say.
No normal person could endure the sheer pressure Kang Jin-Ho emitted when he got serious, and it was no exception with this man, too.
The suspicious man hurriedly fled from the scene without even bothering to look back.
Han Se-Yeon stomped her foot in frustration.
“Just my stupid luck!”
Kang Jin-Ho sighed and told her, “I told you to be careful, didn't I”
She glared at him.
"Why are you even here!"
“I was told to take you home.”
“And who told you that!”
“Why did he do something unnecessary like that!” Han Se-Yeon exploded in a great fury.
Kang Jin-Ho sighed again and again.
He couldn't understand why she was being so emotional like this today.
“Are you drunk, Se-Yeon”
“Am I drunk Did you just ask me that!”
“If not, why are you so angry”
“I don't know.
I don't care, so go away.
I'll go home on my own, thank you!” Han Se-Yeon spun around and began walking away in a huff.
Kang Jin-Ho wordlessly followed her.
After a while, she suddenly stopped and shot a glare at him.
“Why are you following me!”
“I told you why...”
Han Se-Yeon sarcastically replied, "Oh, that's right.
Yu-Min said you should..."
"So, if he told you to let me be, you would have done so without even thinking about it, right I don't need you following me around, so go away!"
Kang Jin-Ho sighed for the umpteenth time.
Even throughout his long life, he had never gotten the chance to learn how to deal with people throwing a tantrum like this.
He lightly shook his head.
Let's just go.”
“Just go where! I told you to leave me alone!”
Kang Jin-Ho dismissively waved his hand.
I hear you, so let's go.
I'll leave you alone after making sure you're back home.
Or, at least, until you get a taxi ride."
I'll walk home…”
“Your home is too far from here for that.”
"That's none of your business!"
Kang Jin-Ho's patience began to wear thin.
'This is why I hate dealing with drunk people.'
Words weren't getting through to her, it seemed.
However, even he could tell the right thing to do was to take her home.
"I told you, leave me alone."
"...Fuu." Kang Jin-Ho suddenly stopped and groaned.
Go home alone, then."
“Isn't that what you want I'll be going away now.”
Han Se-Yeon quietly stared at him before a hollow chuckle broke out of her mouth.
Kang Jin-Ho watched as she walked away, and once she reached some distance, he began following her.
This was the solution he came up with after realizing that accompanying her was too much work, but he still had the duty to see her home.
Tailing someone without being discovered would be a child's play to Kang Jin-Ho, even though...
'Hmm, I've never done this before.'
He had plenty of experience in escaping his enemies' tracking attempts back in Zhongyuan.
However, tonight would be his first time quietly following someone while killing his presence.
What an odd feeling this was.
Kang Jin-Ho didn't really have a need to tail someone until now.
If an enemy attacked, he would simply kill them.
If the enemy ran away before the encounter began, he wouldn’t even bother chasing after them.
No wonder this experience felt so...
'And this might take a while, too...'
He estimated that Han Se-Yeon would need well over one hour on foot to reach her home from this location.
He could be optimistic with his estimation, however, since her steps were meandering and slow.
Kang Jin-Ho slowly shook his head after finding himself tailing a girl, something he had never dreamed of doing before.
“How troublesome...” He sighed and slowly followed her.
They didn't go too far, though, as Han Se-Yeon suddenly squatted on the ground for some reason.
"Urgh..." She plopped down by the corner of the street, buried her face between her knees, and stopped moving altogether.
“Phew...” Kang Jin-Ho groaned and walked up to her.
Let me take you home.”
Han Se-Yeon quietly looked up.
For some reason...
her eyes were somewhat teary.
“You shouldn't have drank so much if you can't handle the booze,” Kang Jin-Ho muttered.
“Why are you here I thought you were leaving”
“Doesn't matter now.
I'm taking you home.”
Han Se-Yeon stared straight at him before shaking her head.
“I can't walk anymore.”
“My feet hurt, and I've got no strength in my legs.”
Kang Jin-Ho softly tutted, "I told you to grab a taxi, didn't I..."
“Yeah, you did.
Kang Jin-Ho helped her up to her feet.
But he could see that walking wasn't an option for her.
Realizing that this couldn’t continue, he presented his back to her.