Love for Love's Sake - Chapter 1
Volume 1: My Worst 19
“Why is senior so nice to me?”
The boy’s face, which still couldn’t completely hide his embarrassment, twisted slightly. Nevertheless, it was still handsome.
“Why are you doing this?”
The immature voice trembled and cracked. As expected, it was a pleasant voice. It seemed attractive people also had attractive voices.
Cha Yeowoon, visibly frustrated by my silence, vigorously wiped his eyes. I couldn’t bear it and grabbed his wrist.
“Stop it. You’ll hurt yourself.”
The flawless white skin with no blemishes under the eyes was already showing signs of turning red.
Then, as if Cha Yeowoon had been hurt by my words, tears welled up in his eyes.
“Why is senior like this? Doing this will only cause misunderstandings…”
The water filled in Cha Yeowoon’s large puppy-like eyes soon slid down his cheeks.
His golden-brown pupils with moisture in them were gazing at me, while his lips were slightly quivering.
“What the hell am I to you?”
He was my favorite.
My secret was too big to confess.
A series of transparent windows overlapped Cha Yeowoon’s handsome face.
[ Mission: Make Cha Yeowoon happy. ]
[ Time Limit: … ]
[ Penalty: Death ]
A number indicating how much time I had left to live was steadily decreasing.
Tae Myeongha, originally 29 years old. Now, 19. According to the saying, age was fake and the heart was real, but somehow I found myself neither real nor fake.
With no advantage to regressing 10 years in age, I had approximately one year left to live.
I was destined to die if I couldn’t make my favorite happy.
* * *
“Myeongha, do you play games often?”
The beginning of an event was always trivial. In retrospect, that seemed to be the case.
“Not often, just occasionally. Why?”
“I’m thinking of turning the novel I’ve been working on into a game.”
Senior said casually. I nodded as I emptied the cup he had filled for me. Well, novels were often turned into movies and games. Plus, senior’s novel was interesting.
“So, I’m curious, Myeongha. What’s the difference between games and novels?”
The question was sudden, but senior had always been a strange person. He would throw out random thoughts and contemplate them for a while.
I thought to myself that maybe all writers were like that. Artists were strange by nature. Senior had been anything but ordinary from the moment we first met.
As usual, I pondered the question seriously.
“If the goal of games is to clear them, novels focus more on the flow leading up to the ending. Unlike games where players can make changes, novels have a predetermined narrative and there’s not much room for readers’ intervention. It might be different if it’s a serialization.”
“Like my novel?”
“Senior never changes the plot even when I give you my feedback.”
I grumbled, but senior just smiled as if he had found it amusing.
“But is that why you’re asking me? Making into a game?”
That was the title of the novel senior had been working on. He would always let me be the first to read it whenever he completed a chapter.
Nevertheless, he didn’t care what I thought at all. I guess all writers were like that.
“Yes. I finally finished it. Do you want to read it?”
“You should have told me that before I started drinking soju. I want to read it.”
I had been reading the gradually accumulating novel the past year. At first, I wondered why he had asked me. Nevertheless, reading it was fun, and most importantly, I had grown attached to the characters.
As the title suggested, was a romance novel. In summary, it was a story about a handsome man and a beautiful woman who overcame their wounds with the help of each other and lived happily ever after.
Of course, the happy ending belonged to the main characters, while the supporting characters had slightly different endings.
“Is this the end? No, isn’t it too pitiful?”
I sympathized more with the supporting characters than with the guaranteed happiness of the main characters.
“Why did Cha Yeowoon even appear in the first place? From beginning to end, he only suffers, gets hurt by everyone around him. It’s complete emotional torture.”
Not even wanting to finish the novel, I vented my anger. The soju glass I had placed on the table shook, creating ripples in the clear liquid.
This was why they said sub-lead syndrome was scary.
Inducing jealousy, emotional torture, and all kinds of exploitation only to be discarded after serving their purpose. I felt a deep sense of injustice.
Senior, as usual, chuckled mysteriously before taking my cup and drinking from it.
“Wow, senior is really cold.”
“Why? You wouldn’t do the same if it was you?”
In hindsight, I should have given a better answer.
“Oh! If it was me I would never.”
I wondered if I had touched the pride of an author.
“Do you feel sorry for him that much?”
“I just wish Yeowoon could have been happy too.”
Maybe that answer was too vague?
I felt awkward trying to be too serious that I had stumbled over my words toward the end. It was just a novel. Cha Yeowoon wasn’t even a real person.
But senior kept looking at me as if he knew I had more to say.
“How can someone’s life be so lonely?”
Finally adding another word, senior looked at me with a mysterious, penetrating gaze and smiled.
“Then, could you change it?”
I remembered saying something to that.
It was a day when soju went down particularly smoothly.
Considering my habit of having a loose tongue when I was drunk, it was safe to say that I must have said something really stupid.
That would explain what had happened afterwards.
The next day when I had woken up, I had found myself in the novel .
In Cha Yeowoon’s world.
“It doesn’t make any sense.”
It was completely absurd but true.
“Do you think it makes sense that you got this score?”
I didn’t want to believe it was true either.
“Hey, answer me. Tae Myeongha!”
“I’m shocked too.”
“What? This guy…”
The homeroom teacher, who had been sitting in front of me, slapped my shoulder with the attendance book as if dumbfounded.
“Does it follow common sense that you, a punk who used to be dead last in the entire school, suddenly got this score? Where did you get the answer sheet? Who did you copy?”
I wasn’t dead last. There were at least 10 people lower, but it wasn’t the right atmosphere to think that kind of protest would work.
If I had to say I had copied anything, it would be the answer sheet of my future self. Well, if I said something like that, I might really get beaten up, so I decided to keep my mouth shut for now.
Why did I get thrown into a high school setting of all places?
“This is just a quiz, so I’ll let it slide. But punk, if you do this on a test that affects your academic record…”
“So why do you think I would cheat on a quiz that doesn’t affect my academic record…No, nothing.”
Blood vessels sprang up on my homeroom teacher’s forehead as soon as he heard what I had said. This time, the attendance book hit my other shoulder.
“Brat, it’s not my place to know what an idiot like you is thinking.”
Idiot. Honestly, that wasn’t entirely wrong.
My high school days were truly turbulent, a dark period.
Standing in the corner of the sunlit faculty room and listening to the scoldings wasn’t unfamiliar to me at all. Rather, it felt like memories were flooding back. Ah, it used to be like this in the past.
“Behave yourself, Tae Myeongha. I’m watching you.”
Maybe it was difficult to scold me any further under the pretext of a perfect score on a quiz, but the homeroom teacher roasted me a little more before finally letting me go.
After bowing 90 degrees, I left the faculty room with heavy steps. Walking out, what greeted me was the typical school scenery. Hallways. Stairs. Children in school uniforms.
New Leaf High School, an all boy school. Even the name of the school was written under various signs.
It seemed that I had fallen into Cha Yeowoon’s school just by looking at the following.
[ Mission: Make Cha Yeowoon happy. ]
A square transparent window blinked in front of my eyes and then disappeared.
It was strange to suddenly wake up in a school uniform and in a classroom. All the more so when a transparent window suddenly appeared about Cha Yeowoon.
Right? Really all of a sudden? Beside that, a classroom? Hadn’t it been 10 years since I graduated? Was I drunk and dreaming?
“Tae Myeongha. Are you boasting about your height? Why are you standing there when the class is starting? Sit down!”
My homeroom teacher had shouted at me, who was lost in thought. When my full name was clearly called, I had unconsciously slumped back into my chair like a dog who had been told to sit down.
Whether I was confused or not, the school bell rang, and the quiz had begun. The result of solving the quiz while wondering whether I was dreaming or hallucinating was the incident in the faculty room just now.
Did I suddenly fall into a novel, or did I become insane? The former was slightly better. At least in terms of sanity. After all, there was a saying that as long as you kept your wits, you would survive.
As soon as I opened the classroom door, the voices I had heard inside abruptly stopped. I could feel the students’ eyes turning toward me.
Perhaps afraid of making eye contact with me, the children quickly turned their heads. Did they think I was going to eat them?
This place was strangely similar yet different to the high school I had attended. For one thing, back when I was in high school, there were no wireless earphones like the ones these children were wearing now.
Obviously, the time now wasn’t the same as it was 10 years ago. It was only that I was 10 years younger.
I examined my reflection in the mirror hanging on the back door.
Sharp features protruding beneath the short hair.
I had suspected as much while listening to the homeroom teacher earlier. After entering this novel, it seemed I had returned to my high school days. Around this time people’s impression of me was bad.
When I took my eyes off the mirror and turned around, the students who made eye contact with me turned their heads quickly. My reputation also hadn’t changed.
The student with thick glasses shrunk his shoulder when I took a seat next to him in the back row. Flinching to such an extent…
He had a distinctive appearance upon closer look. His hair, like a bird’s nest, was messy and was covering his eyebrows. The thick glasses made his eyes barely visible.
“What day is it today?”
It was pitiful seeing him petrified and stammering even though I wasn’t trying to eat him, but nevertheless, there was something I needed to find out.
Whether it was a dream or a hallucination, I just had to do what I could.
[ Make Cha Yeowoon happy. ]
When given a task, it was better to start with what you knew than to waste time pondering. That was a hard lesson I had learned in life.
“Buddy, do you know Cha Yeowoon?”
Glasses suddenly seemed taken aback. His surprised expression had answered my question.
That was normal. It was possible not to know, even if we went to the same school. But I had asked since Cha Yeowoon’s handsome appearance was something that would stand out.
“The 2nd year student?”
I thought he wouldn’t know, but he did?
As my reaction stiffened for a moment, Glasses quickly held out his hands.
“I-I didn’t mean anything, I’m just curious.”
“So you know Cha Yeowoon? How do you know him?”
He asked and yet he didn’t know? I guess Glasses was flustered, but he only blinked.
“Isn’t he the one in track and field…?”
Right. When I grabbed my forehead at the realization, Glasses began to tremble more and more.
Cha Yeowoon was a promising athlete. To the extent that he had often received awards and been featured in local newspapers.
“Oh, yeah. That’s him. He’s a good runner. Which class is he in?”
“I-I don’t remember…”
Yeah, that was reasonable. He might not know which class.
After roughly gathering some information, I got up from my seat. It seemed like I would easily find the answer if I went down to the 2nd year students’ floor and asked around.
That meant I would soon be meeting Cha Yeowoon.
I felt slightly nauseous. To meet the person I had been watching and cheering for more than a year. To borrow senior’s words, he was my favorite.
Senior had said as such when I had asked. It meant the one he liked the most. At the time, he had a playful and friendly tone.
“Where are you going?”
“To find my favorite.”