Sunday, 3 July 2016

[Me and the Tigress v01] 02. Second Story

If anyone asks, this is a very pure and innocent story about raising a baby tiger.

Translator: Dijon
Editor: Narane 

Hi guys, Dijon here. This translation took more-or-less 3 months. My goal is to finish volume 1 by some time in August or September. Let's hope I meet my pseudo-deadline!
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02. Second Story

Unlike my plan to go back home on a bus, instead of dropping us off at the terminal, the car went down the mountain and it passed the terminal and went somewhere else. I knew this when the car entered the freeway.

Are you thinking that I noticed way too late? But I don't think so?

"Sunghoon, Sunghoon! What is that over there?!"

With Rangii occupying the top of my thigh like a tyrant and constantly bombarding me with questions about what was amazing and new to her, it was totally chaotic.

"It's called a train and it's like what we're riding in right now, but the simplest explanation is that a bunch of cars are put together and go on a fixed road."

"Ohhh! So that's what it is!"

Ever since the car took off-- That's amazing! What's this? What's that? Since she kept asking me things she could've asked Saehee, I didn't have the chance to look away. And because there were fewer new things to look at after entering the freeway, I was able to ask Saehee a question.

"Hey, the thing is, where are we going right now?"

"We are going to the young master's kennel."

I'm not such an impatient man that I'd reply in anger did you just call mys house a kennel?! Instead, I leaned in towards Saehee and spoke in a hushed voice.

"Isn't this a chauffeur service? Didn't it cost a lot? Do phantoms have a lot of money?"

Saehee ignored my concern for her spending and spoke in her usual tone.

"There is no need to lower your voice, young master. Because the person driving knows our identity."

"Eh?"

Surprised, I looked at the driver. The old driver who initially looked harmless suddenly looked like a middle aged phantom man to me.

"Are phantoms these days able to get driver's licenses?"

"Haha, I'm a normal human."

"What?"

The driver was wholeheartedly laughing and I diverted my eyes to look at Saehee.

"We have lived on this land for over four thousand years. Since ancient times, the higher-ups of humanity knew of our existence, and they assisted us in various ways."

"......That's a little unexpected."

"Because if we get angered and decide to act, their position would be endangered. Even if I were to leave my place by Master's side, doing that much would be child's play."

Isn't it a little subtle to call that assistance?

"You're saying such scary things as easily as ever, Saehee-nim. And that's why we work to create a satisfying environment in the present for the greatest phantoms."

The old man said that while looking completely affable.

"But I've never seen that little kid before today......"

"I'm not a little kid!"

Rangii lost her temper and shouted. She's definitely a little kid. The old man laughed loudly and acknowledged her words.

"Haha, please excuse me, young lady. But what kind of phantom are......"

"When did I say you could question us, human?"

The air stood still at her scornful, critical voice. My body naturally froze as well, and Rangii tapped my arm and teased me. While I was stuck like that, the driver calmly replied.

"Ah, please excuse my rudeness. It seemed like you were in a better mood than usual. Please allow me to focus on driving now."

Please do that, old man. Unlike the old man, I don't have a lot of experience with phantoms so if things like this happen often then my body will end up with problems. Like in my heart. Or like in my heart. Or, like in my heart.

"Saehee, Sunghoon's stuck like this!"

"In times like this, you should caress his body with both your hands."

Ah, I then noticed something. Saehee hasn't called Rangii Master even once until now. Is that why Saehee was intentionally ignoring Rangii's questions since earlier? In case she accidentally called Rangii Master? Is that why she got angry just now as well?

......The thought 'is Rangii's leaving Jirisan an unexpectedly big deal?' melted away on this summer day as Rangii fidgeted with my chest and stomach with her hands.

"What're you doing right now!"

"Ah, you're back to normal."

Rangii let out an unidentifiable low grumbling sound and leaned her face on my chest.

"Then since Sunghoon's body has gotten smoother, I'm going to try to sleep for a bit."

What's gotten smoother, huh? I've always been a smooth man.

"Sleep when we get there."

"Snoo--ore--."

"So quick?!"

That's too quick! Is she pretending to be asleep? But seeing her right now with her eyes closed, sleeping happily, I'd feel sorry to wake her up even if she was pretending. I have no choice but to leave her be.

I sighed and lowered my voice so I wouldn't wake her up.

"Really, stop being so spoiled."

Rangii's tail danced a little.

Are you really asleep?



Dad is a novelist. He has enough fans to somehow make royalties, but I know he's a terrible author because he hasn't sold many copies and he's too busy just taking care of himself. Thanks to that, we rely on Mom to pay for the majority of the household expenses. Thankfully, Mom has a very high income so my family can afford our own house with a small yard, and we may not be rich, but I thought we were happy in our own way. And so,

"What a tiny house."

Don't say whatever you want about someone's house, you brat. I grabbed Rangii, who just said something incredibly rude, by the ears with my hands and squeezed them hard in a 3/4 beat rhythm.

"You brat, what're you saying about someone's house?"

Of course it's small compared to grandpa's estate, but do you have any idea how hard it is to keep a house like this in the middle of Seoul?

"Ow-ow-ow-ow-ow!! I, I'm weak in my ears!"

It looked really painful so I let go. Rangii protested while touching her ears with both her hands.

"But if Saehee and I are going to live with you and we're going to raise our children as well, it's clearly too small!"

Huh, is that so? Based on what Rangii said, it'd be my family of Dad, Mom, and me, along with Saehee and Rangii, making it five people. Add to that kids and it'd be seven at least, so the house really is small...... No, that's not it!

"There is no need to worry, Master. By then I will have saved up enough for the sake of the young master who is too incompetent to own a house."

That day won't come so there's no need to make such a plan. I pushed aside talking with these weird phantoms for later and rang the doorbell.

Ding dong.

"Whoa! It's making an interesting sound. What is that?"

Rather than answer, I looked at Saehee. Saehee avoided my eyes. She did it naturally enough for me to not realize she was avoiding eye-contact. Does that mean you want me to talk?

"It's called a doorbell. You use it to tell the people in the house that you're there. In your case, it'd be like having a servant say "I'm here" but instead, it's a machine."

"Ah, so that's what it is?"

Rangii nodded and stared at the door.

"But why isn't anyone coming out to meet us?"

That's what I'm saying. Why isn't anyone opening the door? Maybe she had to go out for a bit? It's not that I don't have a key, but it's troublesome to have to take it out. While complaining I opened my backpack, got the key, and opened the front door.

"I guess nobody's home. Let's go in."

"Ah, wait for a bit."

At Rangii's words, I stopped going back into the yard.

"Why?"

"I thought I didn't see any magic on this house that could protect us."

Well of course. There's no way there could be. Or do you want me to get a shaman to do an exorcism?

"So?"

"Isn't it common sense to feel uneasy when it's like this?"

I never even imagined there would be a day when you'd talk about common sense.

"Thus I'll put down the most minimal defense."

While saying that, she plucked out one of her hairs and blew. I felt complete disbelief, and then that disbelief became reality.

This may be sudden, but do you like tigers? Because right now I'm not talking about the tiger phantom who's puffing out her modest chest with an ehem~, but a real tiger. I like them. They're cool, fearless, and look good. But that's only when they're on TV or in a cage at the zoo, but when a tiger is prowling around my front yard, it's not the same!!

Rooar!!

The tiger roared. At the same time my distracted thoughts flew to the faraway sky, I stopped escaping reality. I put my hands on Rangii's shoulders.

"Hey. If my eyes aren't going bad, then it seems like one of your hairs changed into a tiger."

Rangii nodded her head.

"That's right. This will provide safety."

So that I wouldn't hit Rangii on the head, I repeated the word 'patience' thirty times in my head.

It wasn't enough.

"Ow!"

"What about this is safe?!"

"Why are you hitting me! If anyone comes to our house and tries to do evil things, then this child will......"

"I know BS when I hear it!!"

"Ha-nyak?!"

After bragging, Rangii was surprised by my yelling and caused her hair to stick up.

"How do you think it's okay to keep a tiger in the middle of Seoul?! Did it run away from the zoo? Do you want to go on the nine o'clock news?!"

In the heart of downtown, a tiger showed up! Are you planning on having me with a mosaic covering my face and my voice changed, you brat?!

"S, so this won't do?"

"Of course not!"

"But I thought there were already a lot of tigers in Seoul so one more would be okay......"

Even during the time when Seoul did have a lot of tigers, I think having a tiger act proudly as a guard isn't common sense.

"In this country, a lot of tigers have already died out, okay? If you want to see one, then go to the zoo!"

Rangii's face turned pale.

"N, no way. How did my children end up like this?"

......Ah, she's a tiger. I didn't think that because she's the same species, she'd be shocked at the tigers dying out. That's my mistake. So with Rangii on the verge of tears, I rubbed her head and spoke in my most comforting voice.

"I, I know that that's terrible, but a lot of things happened. I'll tell you about it when I teach you histo--......"

"In that case, there's no helping it. Even if I must pull out all my hair here, I will have all my children here thrive."

Just who the hell was I worrying about?

"Don't! I said don't!!"

Are you planning on releasing a pack of tigers in Seoul? Also, if you pulled out all your hair and became bald, you'd look......, no, that doesn't matter. Since Rangii's a phantom, there isn't any problem if she changed her appearance.

Although I got a little off topic, I brought our attention back to the tiger that was lying down in the yard with its belly exposed, yawning, and its body spread across the yard.

"More importantly. Do something about that for now. Are you trying to cause me trouble?"

"Hm--mm. Then there's no helping it."

Rangii lowered her body and snapped her fingers. Then where that tiger was just lying down, there was a baby tiger......

"Now there's very little difference in appearance from a cat. If it's like this, it should......"

"Did you think that'd work!"

I squeezed her ears really hard.

"Awuuu--. Sunghoon's bad. I did this all for you, so why are you bullying me?"

Rangii, who just turned the tiger back into a hair, was embraced in Saehee's chest and staring at me. She looked like a kid who went to her mom, I mean sister, after getting punished so it looked really cute. Although that's really what happened.

"Master. Although it is a pity, the young master is correct."

"But what if......"

"Master."

What's going on. Saehee cut Rangii off.

"Do you remember what the young master said before we arrived here?

Rangii stopped whatever it was she was about to say and nodded. ......What did I say again?

"Thus it is okay for us not to do anything."

Rangii's tail swayed from side to side.

"But isn't Sunghoon a normal human?"

"He is the one who accepted you, Master."

"But still......"

"Is a human's strength not the strength of his heart?"

"Yeah. That's right!"

"But if you are worried, I will lay down some small spells."

At those words Rangii nodded her head.

"Okay."

I feel like they're ignoring me while talking about me directly, so when can I join the conversation? But the truth is that I don't want to join in. What do you mean, a human's strength is the strength of the heart?

I gave up on joining the foreign world that was their world of conversation and I opened the front door. Two two naturally followed me in.

"I'm baaaack--!"

I intentionally went in loudly, but it was strangely quiet in the house. If Dad were here,

"You brat. You just activated my trap!"

And if Mom were here,

"Well aren't you late, son?"

They would have said something like that, but...... Could it be? I opened the shoe cupboard. Dad's sneakers aren't there. Also Mom's dress shoes! I took off my shoes and entered the living room. My eyes fell on the large sheet of paper on the living room table. I held up the paper and read the message written on it.

"Something urgent came up so I'm leaving the house for a week. I took Dad with me so take good care of the house and have Rangii sleep in my room. And don't go and carelessly make me a grandmother, okay?!"

"I want to quickly become a mother."

I ignored Rangii who was peering over my shoulder and took out my cell phone. Although I thought of Narae the second I opened saw my phone, I should take care of the most urgent problem first. It's not that I'm scared of Narae's reaction, but that terrible......, no, if I, in my everyday life, had accidentally said those things in front of Mom something terrible would happen to me so I should use good words. Since the first thing I'm going to do is call my absent, busy-with-work mother.

[The number you have called is currently out of range......]

How far away do you have to be for the signal not to reach? I called Dad.

[The phone you are calling is currently off so please record your......]

"Why do you look so frustrated?"

Rangii said that while poking me in the belly. You can only say that because you don't know the crappy situation that I'm in.

"Because the young master's father and mother are not here so he is thinking of doing wicked things to you while you two are alone."

"I'm not, okay? And you're here too!"

"Am I also a target?"

"Don't make such a hateful face at someone! That's actually hurtful!"

"Understood, young master."

I never thought I'd live to see the day when I'd find Saehee's expressionless face to be a show of warmth and kindness.

"Then I shall go unpack the luggage."

Saehee held the bag with both hands and walked past me. Hey, how do you know where Mom's room is when this is probably the first time you've been here? was what I was thinking when Saehee opened a door and entered a room. But that isn't Mom's room.

"Hey! That's my room!"

And she quickly retorted to stop me,

"I know."

And after Saehee said something that made her seem like someone who committed a premeditated crime,

"Because there is the strong stench of chestnut flower coming from this room."

She just stomped on a delicate pubescent boy's emotions.

"Wha, wha, what are you saying!"

"Why would there be the smell of chestnut flowers? Are you growing a chestnut tree in your room?"

How should I respond to Rangii when she has a question mark above her head and she asked that so innocently? That was clearly a useless worry.

"When a man becomes sexually aroused he......"

"He--ey! Have sex-ed when you two are by yourselves!"

Why the hell is she saying this in front of me?!

"Hiding things like this is how one becomes a sexual deviant like the young master."

I prepared my already-stomped-on pubescent boy's emotions as a weapon to fight against Saehee who said something so ridiculous with such persuasion.

"It's not something to hide, but it's not something to talk so openly about either!"

"What's wrong? What in the world are you talking about for your face to get so red?"

In the midst of this chaos, only Rangii could look at back and forth at Saehee and me with such an naive expression on her face. This is terrible. For now I should at least avoid this.

"The room that you two are sharing is my mom's room over there, so don't just unpack wherever you want!"

I pointed at my mother's room, located in the corner away from my own room.

"I'm going to go wash my face or something while you unpack, so don't do anything funny."

I kindly took Saehee's bag, put it in Mom's room, and went to the bath...... no, I was going to go when Rangii was staring intently at me. And so, I figured I had to talk to her.

"What?"

I thought she was going to ask if she could use the bathroom first or something, but what she said made what I thought completely laughable, shocking me.

"Why do you constantly wash away your scent so pointlessly?"

"......What?"

"Isn't it inconvenient to wash your scent off?"

"......Explain to me what's so inconvenient about it."

"Your scent is used as a warning to those in your territory."

Ah, so that's what she meant.

I realized that my impression of Rangii up until now was mistaken. I had thought she was a kid who didn't know anything about the world, but she isn't a kid. She's just an animal. A wild tiger.

I never imagined she wouldn't understand the concept of bathing.

"I'm going to ask you one thing. So you didn't wash yourself last night?"

"Do I have to?"

"Okay. That's enough."

With Rangii's shining eyes looking up at me, I gave up on talking to her about this and decided to speak to her guardian.

"Saeheeeee!!"

At my scream, Saehee stuck just her head out of my mom's room and replied while looking at me.

"What is wrong, young master?"

"Teach her the importance of bathing! Right now, immediately!"

"As I have no need to bathe, I am unaware of the importance of bathing."

Hey, is that something for a woman to say? Ah, the truth is that if you just looked at her age, she's a super......"

"Young master? I must inform you that it is very easy for me to understand what you are thinking in your wrinkleless brain."

She's a psychic. She's a freaking psychic.

"Whatever, just bathe Rangii!"

"The young master can do it."

"But you can."

"I am busy. And also......"

Saehee spoke with the most serious face I had ever seen.

"If I get water on me, my body gets wet."

Ah, that's true. I understood. So I'm the one who has to wash Rangii. There's no helping it. Then...... wait, that's not it.

"The heck does that mean!"

"If I make contact with water, my body gets wet."

Obviously you're going to get wet if you touch water!

"No, I mean what are you trying to say."

"That if I touch water, I get excited."

OK. I now understand what she's saying.

"Is that a pun?"

"It is the truth."

Maybe I should get a water bottle and pour it on her.

"And so, I shall continue what I was doing."

Saehee's head went back into the room. I can't force her to do something she hates so much. It's not because I'm scared of her staring at me expressionlessly and threatening me.

But even if Rangii's a tiger, at this age she probably knows how to bathe herself. On the off chance, I spoke to Rangii.

"Do you know how to bathe yourself?"

"I took a bath often in my spiritual form. First I put spit on my front paws like this......"

I grabbed Rangii's arms after she licked her hands and lowered them. As a human being, as a civilized man, I couldn't bear to allow this to continue.

"I understand. Then does that mean you've never bathed in human form?"

"Yeah! How'd you know?"

I did not want to know this fact. That I would have to bathe her in the end. But no matter what Rangii truly is, right now she's a girl. Something about having a high schooler bathe a kid who looks like she's in the third grade is dangerous. At the same time, if I don't then she won't bathe herself when she's in human form. Or I could actually let her groom herself like a cat. That...... isn't okay.

Yeah. I should think of it like that. I'm not giving a little girl a bath, I'm giving a tiger that hates baths a bath. Yeah. She may look like a girl, but on the inside she's a tiger...... no, I am bathing Rangii.

I am giving a tiger a bath.

Great.

I went behind Rangii's back and lifted her up by putting my arms through her armpits. Rangii's tail stuck fast to her belly.

"Wha, what are you doing?"

"Giving a bath."

"To whom?"

"To you."

"Ehhh? Why're you doing this all of a sudden? I don't need a bath."

"Okay, okay. But I do, so just wash with me."

"Sae, Saehee! Say something to Sunghoon too!"

Saehee didn't answer. Ah, it's hard to keep her up when she's struggling.

"Stay still, you brat."

"This is just a spiritual body so I don't need a bath!"

Hm? That's only enough to persuade yourself.

"Despite being a spiritual body, the spiritual bodies of great phantoms such as you are already similar to physical bodies, Master. Your body will get dirty just like a human's."

Unprompted words came from the room. With her fur on edge, Rangii shouted back."

"Saehee, damn you! Are you betraying your master?!"

"This is for your sake, Master."

"But I don't want toooo!!"

There's no answer. So you're ignoring the words of Rangii, your master? Isn't this way too sudden? For whatever reason, by her current attitude, it looks like Saehee really doesn't want to give Rangii a bath even though she needs a bath. There's nothing to consider. I could tell Rangii was furious at Saehee's betrayal so I rushed to the bathroom while holding Rangii. I locked the door and took off my clothes after putting Rangii down. Rangii was watching me do that with a sullen look on her face.

"What're you doing? Are you going to take a bath with your clothes on?"

"......Why is everyone around me trying to make me miserable?"

"We're not trying to make you miserable, we're doing this because we care about you. And just so you know, I hate women who don't bathe."

"Uuu--."

I easily ignored Rangii who was puffing her cheeks out and spoke.

"More importantly, get undressed."

"......Isn't showing your naked body to others embarrassing?"

After what happened before, that's not really for you to say.

"If a girl your age had something called common sense then I'd be embarrassed. But right now I don't see you as a girl, but an animal, so there's no problem."

Although with me standing tall, naked with nothing covered, someone else seeing me say that would view me as a pervert.

"That's something you said to hurt my feelings again."

That's the truth, but what do you want me to do about it.

Whether Rangii gave up on arguing or not, she started to take off her clothes piece by piece.

"Put your clothes on top of the drawer."

"Okay."

While Rangii was undressing, I turned on the water and got the temperature right. Well, it's summer so it should be okay for it to be a little lukewarm. And when I got it right,

"I took everything off."

I heard Rangii's voice. Just like when we first met, when I turned around I saw Rangii standing with not a single piece of clothes on her. She loosened her hair braid and let her hair down, covering all the necessary parts and it felt strange. But because of that, the thing called human imagination was unneedingly active.  ......Well, since the one I'm looking at is Rangii, it doesn't really mean anything.

By the parts of her skin not covered by her white hair that shined like silver, her skin could definitely be called that of a child's. It's like a baby's. Like if I went ahh-- and bit her softly, my teeth-marks would be clearly visible on her delicate skin. That aside, I was a little surprised to find that Rangii actually had curves. Her chest is small, but towards her hips it dipped in and her butt was a bit more......, I mean, so what if I was appreciating staring at her body.

"What am I supposed to do now?"

"Now......"

I was about to say sit down when I realized something. That there's only one bath stool in the bathroom. I can't let her sit on the floor, and it'd feel off to stay standing. I'm naked so if I stayed standing while washing then my big magnum...... I mean, then Rangii might touch my important bit since she's sitting. If I had known it was going to end up like this, I would've at least brought a towel. No, going this far and choosing one of those would mean defeat. I don't really know what kind of defeat it would be, but it'd still be defeat. I'm going to bathe this naked girl while I'm naked. But I don't feel embarrassed. It's not even weird. She's just a simple tiger!

......Yeah. She's Rangii. A tiger. There's nothing to be embarrassed about!

"I'm going to bathe you, so sit here."

I spoke while slapping my thigh.

"You mean there?"

"Why?"

"......I often ask myself what kind of person you are."

And I have absolutely no idea what kind of phantom you are.

Rangii approached me slowly and went on top of my thigh with her back to me.

"Am I okay like this?"

"For now."

But you brat, why're you keeping your legs spread? Given the way the human body is designed, it's natural for her to keep her legs spread when she's sitting on top of my thigh, but it feels like something about this posture is dangerous......

Meh, whatever. I should just think about bathing this brat for now.

I turned on the water from the showerhead above Rangii's head and......

"Ahwa?!"

With her fur on edge and her tail sticking straight out, she let out a scream-like sound.

"It's hot!"

You mean this is hot? But I think I made it quite lukewarm? Could it be because kids' skin is weak? I made the water a little colder.

"Is this okay?"

"Y, yeah. It's okay."

What a relief. But her hair is long so looks like she catches colds easily. I pumped out the shampoo a few times and rubbed it over her hair.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm going to wash your hair so close your eyes. It'll sting if it gets in your eyes."

I didn't hear Rangii's reply, but started rubbing her hair. Bubbles rose from her hair and I moved the suds across the whole of her head, washing the tips of her hair as well.

"It smells weird."

"I told you to close your eyes."

I moved my hands back to her hair and thinking about giving her a scalp massage, I pressed against her head.

"Uwaaa--. It feels really good."

"That's a relief."

Rangii totally relaxed her body and leaned her back against my chest. Thanks to that it got a lot harder to wash her hair. But still, it didn't feel bad. Because she's leaning on me and entrusting her body to my hands. It's better than her jumping around.

I more-or-less washed her hair so now all that's left are her strange ears, but...... I figured it'd be okay to wash them just like her hair. But when I pressed against the base of her ears, I triggered an incident.

"U--nyaa?! I, I'm sensitive there-- Kyaheeng! Eyes! My eyes! It stings, it stiiiings!"

She opened her eyes in surprise and in a 2-hit combo, the shampoo went in her eyes-- and with Rangii struggling on top of me, I wasn't able to keep her steady so I fell flat on my butt. Oh, ow. Without even the time to be in pain, I grabbed Rangii's hands as she rubbed her stinging, painful eyes while on top of my pelvis. You still have shampoo on your hands, so rubbing your eyes will only make it worse! It looks like Rangii understood my thoughts differently.

"Uwaaang--. Sunghoon is, Sunghoon is being evil--. Uwaang--."




Just now, the area she's sitting on is an extremely evil area.

If someone saw me like this, I'd commit suicide.

"Don't say something that's so easy to misunderstand!"

I grabbed onto Rangii's hips while she was crying, lifted her body, and turned on the water. I poured water on Rangii's face with the showerhead and rubbed her eyes with my hand. And then Rangii stopped crying. Whew, looks like I stopped the most urgent problem for now. To prevent a second disaster, I flipped the hair that was over her face back and spoke.

"Hey, you brat. I told you not to open your eyes."

I could see Rangii puffing out her cheeks through the reflection in the mirror.

"It's not my fault! You were the one who thoughtlessly touched the bottom of my ears, weren't you?!"

"Making such a fuss about touching your ears? You must be the only pers-- I mean, you must be the only phantom who's like that."

"When we change into human form we become sensitive there, so what you said is wrong, Sunghoon!"

......Is that so? So that's universal in phantoms. I gained even more useless information.

"Okay. I'm sorry, so let's rinse your hair. Make sure to keep your eyes shut. If you open them, it'll sting just like before."

"O, okay."

Maybe because the soapy water getting in her eyes was pretty painful, she had her entire body tensed up while keeping her eyes shut tight.

It wasn't something to be so scared about.

I brought the showerhead above Rangii's head again. I rinsed her hair with my hand to wash out all the shampoo. Great, this should be enough. I moved Rangii's hair back again.

"You can open your eyes now."

"Huwa--. Taking a bath in human form feels unexpectedly good!"

"Well that's a relief."

"Please do this for me tomorrow as well."

"Today is one day, tomorrow is a different one."

"What does that mean?"

It means I won't care whose body gets wet or not tomorrow.

"More importantly, I washed your hair so now let's wash your body."

"Hm? We're not done?"

"Were you planning on leaving after only washing your hair?"

You need to wash your body too.

I wetted the shower towel, pushed on the pump multiple times to get body shampoo, and created a lather. It could've been because she had her eyes closed, but Rangii was staring at the bubbles, totally intrigued.

"It's very pretty. What is that?"

How should I explain what this is?

"Soap bubbles. You rub this on yourself when you're taking a bath."

I explained using vocabulary on the level of an elementary schooler's.

"So these are called soap bubbles? It's so interesting how they don't disappear as quickly as water bubbles."

Rangii reached out her hands and took a lot of bubbles, playing with them. Maybe she liked the slippery texture of the bubbles, but she went ehehe, and laughed like a little kid. No, she wasn't laughing like a little kid; she is a little kid laughing. I blew on the soap and while Rangii was preoccupied with the bubbles flying from her hands, I grabbed Rangii's arm and rubbed the shower towel against her arm.

"Unyak?!"

Hm? Why'd she suddenly shout out like that? Rangii grimaced and pulled back her arm then she turned her head back and looked up at me.

"What are you doing all of a sudden?! It hurts!"

".....But you're taking a bath."

"Then why was it so painful?"

No, no. It couldn't have been painful. It's not like she's taking a shower after surgery. I rubbed the shower towel against my arm. It's nothing. I grabbed Rangii's wrist again and pushed it softly.

"Ow-ow-ow! Didn't I tell you it hurt?!"

Rangii's skin turned red.

......Is this for real? Can I really believe that her skin is so weak that rubbing a shower towel softly against her is enough to make her skin go red? What kind of a phantom's skin is like this? I thought, if she was stabbed with a blade, then maybe she'd go, ah, that'd leave a mark. Isn't that how they are?

"......Sorry."

"Why are you scrubbing my body with the tool that makes soap bubbles? Isn't it obvious that it would hurt if you do that?"

"No, this isn't the thing that makes soap bubbles. It's called a shower towel, and after making the bubbles, you wash yourself with this."

Rangii was shocked.

"You mean you wash your body with something so rough? There's no way. Is that a lie meant to tease me?"

"What would I get out of teasing you?"

The doubt in her eyes isn't disappearing. Hey, what the heck do you think I've done to you? I rubbed the shower towel ostentatiously against my arm. She still had her eyes narrowed. I then rubbed it slightly against my chest and neck in a showy manner as well. That was when Rangii's suspicion went away.

"It seems you weren't lying. But I cannot rub my body with something so rough."

"......Can't you just bear with it? There's the saying that you only become an adult after pain, after all."

"I'm already an adult!"

No, you're clearly a kid.

"Also, look!"

Rangii protested while showing me her red forearm.

"If I bathe using that shower towel then my body will turn red like this, won't it? I don't want to show such an ugly sight to my future husband! It's not because it hurts at all!"

A great phantom that has lived for over four thousand years is throwing a tantrum because of the pain while taking a bath. Seriously, it's laughable that this is the tiger from the myths.

But still, Rangii has a point. If it hurt to take a bath, I'd also not want to take one. When I was a kid, I was scared of my dad's scrubbing towel [1]. Since it's come to this, I should just wash her by hand......

......Huh? Oh, yeah. I could do that too, can't I?

"Then there's no helping it."

Rangii's tail began to wag. Hey. It tickles. Stop.

"Then......"

"I'm going to wash you by hand."

"Eh?"

Rangii was stunned, and I spoke to her while openly while rubbing bubbles on my hands.

"You're okay with that, right?"

"N, no. There's no need to go that far, isn't there?"

"I have a bad feeling that if I don't take this opportunity to teach you how to properly wash yourself then something seriously terrible will happen."

It doesn't seem like this brat's going to stay here for more than a day or two so, I need to take this opportunity to educate her. For something like this, once should be enough.

"B, but touching with your hands? Isn't something like that embarrassing?"

She sure picked a weird time to care about that when she's sitting on my thigh, naked.

"I'm not embarrassed."

Because the one before me is Rangii. Yeah. That's right. I'm doing this to a tiger, to Rangii. She's a massive tiger phantom whose true form is Jirisan. ......I kind of have the feeling that I'm convincing myself on the level of brainwashing, but there's no problem with that because it's the truth. Yeah. Absolutely no problems. If there aren't any, then there really aren't. Don't think about it.

But what was I just thinking about? Ah, it was rubbing soap on Rangii's body.

I started rubbing soap on Rangii with my hands.

"Uk."

Rangii was shaking and her fur was spiked up. Her hatred of bathing is almost on the level of a cat's. With the utmost care, I stroked her body. Starting with her hands, I moved to her arms then her armpits.

"Kyahahaha, it tickles!"

"Ah, sorry."

I went past her shoulder and around her neck to rub the opposite side. I got more bubbles then put them on her back.

"Uu--heek?"

I was touching her spine, and she let out a weird sound.

"What's wrong?"

"Something's strange."

"What is?"

"Even though I thought I would hate this, your hands feel strangely good and it's making me shout out. Was taking a bath always supposed to be like this?"

"Well, I heard somewhere that taking a bath is the washing machine for the soul."

Even though I forgot where I heard this.

"......This might become a habit."

"Then I would be thankful."

I got more bubbles and this time I rubbed them on the front. When I about to touch her chest, I stopped without thinking, but I moved my hands again almost immediately. I'm not doing anything weird, and all I'm doing is bathing the adorable Rangii so there's nothing weird about it. Yeah.

I feel like I got the core concept wrong, but I'll just ignore it. I get the feeling that if I remember what's wrong, I'll have to cross a river I can't return from.

"Uu--heek?"

Her tail went completely straight, bothering my chin.

"What, does it tickle?"

Rangii bowed her head as her face turned bright red.

"Y, yeah."

But even though they're really small, she really does have breasts. But for her belly to be softer than her breasts, how should I put it, I guess I'm a little sad. There, I put soap on her belly and hips so now below that is......

No, no. No matter how much I think Rangii is a tiger, there's no way. No way. I could do it, but if there's something that I shouldn't do, it's this, and I absolutely cannot.

I leaned her back against my chest, hugged her with both arms while she was disoriented, and put her down by my side.

"There. Wash yourself like that and do the rest yourself."

"......You're not going to do the other places?"

Why do you sound so disappointed?

"I need to bathe myself too. Here, this is the body shampoo. If you press the thing on the top then the water that makes bubbles will come out, so rub that on your hands and wash yourself."

"Okay."

Rangii started washing herself with the soap. As a dad, I'm happy-- no, that's not it. I'm proud that Rangii learned something. Could this be what's called a paternal pride?

Paternal or whatever, I should just wash myself for now. I put soap on my whole body and washed it off with water when Rangii, covered in soap, put her slippery butt on top of my thigh. I couldn't even say anything about Rangii insisting that my thigh was hers. ......I want to think that I was overlooking her cute behavior since she was bathing so well after hating it, but man.

"Why're you looking over here?"

"I like looking over here more."

Today I'm generous.

"Do as you please."

"Heheh."

Well, I might like this.

After Rangii was done, I dried her with a towel, and after I put on underwear and pants, I looked for clothes for Rangii until I realized that she wouldn't have brought her own.

"Wait there for a bit."

After basically giving her the command stay, I opened the bathroom door and called for Saehee...... What're you doing there?

"......Hey, didn't you say you were busy?"

"Where are you looking, young master? As you can see, I am busy."

Saehee was sitting on the sofa, watching a cartoon on the TV. If she were just watching TV I wouldn't have gotten this upset, but in her hand was one of my dad's favorite bottles of plum wine, and scattered atop the table were two or so completely empty bottles of plum wine. And as she was saying that, she brought the bottle up to drink.

......So, what did you say? You're busy?

"Your business aside, don't you look quite comfortable?"

"I need information on how the world has changed. My knowledge is already outdated by three years. Ah, this manhwa is funny."

She looks like she's finished all her work and is lounging like an old la......"

"And so."

She's like a psychic as usual.

"Why did you call for me, young master?"

Seeing her expressionless face completely devoid of any intoxication despite drinking two bottles of plum wine, I unconsciously became less upset. Could I be at the bottom of the food chain in this house?

"......Whatever, just give me clothes for Rangii."

"Understood."

Saehee got up from the sofa, went into Mom's room, and brought out the exact same clothes that Rangii was just wearing, from the same design to the same colors. If I don't react to that then I won't be able to survive.

"Is that all the clothes she has?"

"This makes it easier to animate."

"......The heck does that mean?"

"It is something from a manhwa I just read."

Please, I'm just wishing that she doesn't gain any weird knowledge. I got the clothes from Saehee and turned to look at Rangii. And there......

"...Hm? What's wrong?"

Rangii was playing with the underwear that I had worn before.

"Hey. You're not supposed to put that on your head! And you're not supposed to put your arm through there either! It's not food, either, so don't put it in your mouth!!"

"I, I know."

"If you know, then don't!"

"I just did it because I was curious."

"What're you curious about?"

Rangii looked away. She isn't saying anything. So her being curious was a lie.

"......Let's just get you dressed for now."

I handed Rangii the clothes Saehee gave me, and Rangii just blinked her shining eyes and stared at me. Don't tell me......

"Do you not know how to dress yourself?"

"There's really nothing that you don't know about me, isn't there?"

Seeing how happy Rangii was, my heart sank. It's only been two days, but I already know more-or-less what kind of kid she is. She's a kid who never received any education on everyday tasks. I opened the bathroom door and shouted for Rangii's guardian.

"Saeheeeee!"

I can't even remember how many times I've yelled her name.

Saehee, the educator and caretaker of Rangii, didn't even look away from the TV and answered.

"Did I not tell you I was busy? Have you already forgotten?"

"Don't give me that! How busy can you be if you're watching TV while drinking?!"

"I am busy."

Seeing Saehee drink from the bottle made a fire rage from within my body, and was threatening to burst out. I was about to argue back at her, when,

"Is Saehee drinking alcohol?"

Rangii asked from behind me. Great. I should use Rangii. Even if she looks like a kid, she's a great tiger phantom and master of Saehee who's giving ridiculous excuses.

"Then that means she's really busy."

But Rangii betrayed my expectation beautifully.

"......What?"

"Saehee uses the energy from alcohol to do tiresome tasks. Saehee only ever drinks when she has to do stuff like that, so right now she must be really busy. You shouldn't bother her about something so trivial."

Getting you dressed isn't trivial to me.

"Thank you very much, Master."

Saehee glanced from the side at me with a smile. Ah, for some reason I feel like I've lost. I should just give up. A pack of Baduks...... I mean of dogs will stick together, so phantoms must have each other's backs too. I sighed

"Can you put that on your...... no, nevermind. I'm wishing for too much from a kid who has underwear on her head."

"I, I was just curious!"

"Like I said, about what?"

Rangii blushed and kept silent.

"Alright, so I'll get you dressed."

"Okay."

I mostly looked away as I got her dressed. Even so, I found that her clothes are incredibly soft and light. What the heck is it made from? If I get the chance, I'll ask her later. I didn't know how to braid her hair so I decided to just leave it. It shouldn't be a big problem. Right now, my empty stomach comes first.

"Let's eat dinner."

"Food?"

Rangii's eyes were sparkling. Her tail was moving like a wave.

"If you are finished, masters, I shall prepare dinner."

Saehee just downed another drink and I got a little curious at her words.

"But what're you doing right now?"

"I cannot answer."

"What are you, a celebrity who wants to be famous for being mysterious?"

"Don't worry. Everything Saehee does benefits me in the end."

That in the end part bothers me. In this world, the means to the ends are often the most important steps.

Anyway, I don't know if she's doing any work or not, but Saehee is so generously making dinner for us, so I might as well look to see what side dishes we have. I went grocery shopping the day before going to the countryside, so we should still have the ingredients. I opened the refrigerator door.

There's nothing. It's empty. There's only kimchi, water, and plum wine. I closed the door. I'm thinking about how this could have happened.

Mom. There's no way a huge eater like her would leave anything. But eating three peoples' portions of food in one day seems excessive. Throwing curses at the general direction that Mom is at won't change anything, though.

Yeah. I'm a man who's prepared for the unexpected. If we're all out of groceries, I just need to buy some. I have a credit card that's used for domestic things like this.

"I'm going to go to the supermarket for a bit."

Rangii's ears pricked up.

"Are you going to the market?"

"Yeah."

I have a bad feeling.

"I want to go too!"

Please think about it. If I take you grocery shopping while holding your hand, I'd feel like an old mother.

"I'll only be gone for a little, so just wait here."

"Ehhh, I don't want to! I want to go too! I want to see how this world has changed with my own eyes!"

Rangii grabbed my hand and was jumping up and down in a tantrum. Ahh, having a kid throwing a tantrum even though I'm so young makes me feel like a housewife...... No, I should think more positively. Yeah. Considering she's my young bride, going shopping with her makes me feel like a husband...... That's complete crap. The only wife for me is Narae.

Ah. I just realized that I need to call Narae. If it's now, her anger should have died down, right? Maybe I should call her today. ......I mean, after I deal with Rangii who's sticking to me like glue.

"Yeah. Let's go, let's go. We can just go together."

"Hehehe."

Rangii was smiling and sticking next to me. With Rangii's belly up against me, I unknowingly rubbed her head. I mean, it's because she's cute. Seriously.

"Ah, hide your tail and ears for now. You can hide them, right?"

Rangii turned her head away.

"Why do I have to do that? I'm proud of these......"

"If you can't, you'll have to stay here."

"Uu--uu."




I regretted taking Rangii grocery shopping with me 5 minutes after we had left the house.

"Sunghoon, Sunghoon! What is that? The power of lightning is running through that column!"

"It's called a utility pole. It brings electricity to every house through a wire......"

"Wow. What's this black thing? Is it a curse meant to weaken the power of the earth?"

"What do you mean a curse? It's called asphalt, and it's meant to make travelling more comfortable for people or cars."

"Amazing! I never imagined that humans would disregard the natural order to such an extent!"

"That said, you seem pretty happy. Shouldn't you be sad in this case?"

"Why do you say that?"

Rangii's beautifully braided hair quickly unraveled and formed into a question mark.

"Please act like a human when you're on the street."

"Isn't that why I hid my splendid ears and tail?"

Yeah. Her white tail and ears were hidden, so Rangii just looks like an adorable little girl in eye-catching clothes and...... it would be so great if I could say that. Just the color of her hair was attracting attention from pedestrians. Isn't having white, nearly silver hair with black stripes abnormal? And add to that her cuteness.

Her interesting hair color attracted the gazes of pedestrians, and her cute appearance kept their eyes on her. People would even turn around, stop in their tracks, or say things like she's so cute~ I want to take a picture~ I want to touch her~ before leaving. Thank God no one actually did any of this stuff.

With Rangii already attracting so much attention, just the thought of her making a question mark with her hair is terrible.

"Because even like this you're attracting attention."

"What does that mean, I'm attracting attention?"

When Rangii tilted her head and looked up at me, I think the people, who for some reason were following us, shouted out kyaa or uwaa. ......I'll ignore them.

"Hm? Sunghoon, what's wrong?"

She asked me while pulling on my hand.

"Am, am I dying of moe?"

"Hawu~. I want to take her with me~."

I can't hear them. I'll ignore them. I said I can't hear them. If I let this continue, something bad really may happen, so I should tell her the truth.

"It's because you're cute."

"Because you're cute......?"

Rangii suddenly went poof! and emitted smoke after she heard what I said. I'm telling you this beforehand, but that was a figure of speech. Her face went bright red and she spoke.

"Did, did you just say that I'm cute?"

"Yeah. You're attracting attention because you're cute, so don't do any......"

I wasn't able to finish what I was saying. Because Rangii jumped up with unbelievable strength and hugged her two arms around my neck.

"I'm happy! I'm so happy! You've finally fallen for my charm!"

It looks like you've totally fallen for a delusion.

"The hell's that guy?"

"Should we kill him?"

"Lolicon bastard."

Y-you too.

I don't know what these delusional people might do if this continues. Hey, hey. All of your eyes are scary. For now, we should run away for fear of our safety. I hugged Rangii, held her to my side,

"Uraaa!!"

And I ran.

It feels like I've been sprinting a lot these days.





It was right after I was able to escape from Rangii's impromptu fanclub that I realized. I had passed the usual supermarket I go to where I collected a lot of points. ......and this is all because of Rangii. Let's see if I go shopping with you again.

The cause of this situation was already on her feet and let out a carefree response.

"That was fun!"

"Ah, was it?"

I was about to die from exhaustion. Well, it wasn't Rangii's fault that I had to run like this so there's no helping it...... or is there? The problem is whether Rangii's at fault here or not, but I'll just think it's not. Yeah. Because that's the only way my sanity can endure this.

Moving on, it looks like I'm going to just go to the nearest market here and take empty back roads back home. Because otherwise I'll probably have to hold her and run like that again. I grabbed Rangii's hand and continued what I was unable to finish before.

"Moving on, if humans are living while ignoring the natural order, isn't that bad for phantoms like you? Aren't you all basically a part of nature?"

"That isn't the case."

Rangii said this without a doubt.

"We are children of chaos. If providence was broken and distortion increased, this would be a suitable environment for us. If the children were to follow me and no longer keep themselves hidden, this land would become a paradise for us."

Paradise of the phantoms? That's really bad. The person who's going to teach her what love is had better show up fast. Otherwise this place will become a phantom paradise like she said. And the one who was still on the fence about creating a phantom paradise or not said,

"......Why is there so much food on the street?"

Having seen plump chickens, I mean pigeons, walking on the street, Rangii began to drool and her hidden tail pointed towards the sky......

"Hey, hey!"

I quickly grabbed Rangii's tail and,

"Uu--haa!?"

"Put your tail back, you brat."

She put her tail back inside her clothes. With her hands covering her butt, she was bouncing up and down and shouted at me.

"Can't you touch it a little more gently?!"

"Nevermind that, what would you have done if someone saw you stick your tail out?!"

"......Did I do that?"

Rangii laughed, going heh heh, and scratched her head.

"I didn't know."

This time, should I overlook this? Since there's no one around here to have seen it. Instead, I should give her a proper warning.

"Also, you can't eat the things on the street."

"I can't eat them?"

I made myself clear to Rangii who spoke so disappointedly.

"That stuff is dirty. If you eat it then you'll get a stomach ache."

"......I don't like painful things."

I want to know what kind of phantom would get hungry at the sight of pigeons on the street, seriously.




A-Mart. It's an overly large market to go to just to buy groceries for dinner, but I was unexpectedly okay with shopping here. The only problem is that there are so many people. But isn't there the saying to hide a tree, hide it in the forest? Actually, because there are so many people moving busily, Rangii should attract less attention than in a place with fewer people.

That is a lie. People are looking this way enough to sting. I decided. I won't take her outside with me again.

I put in a 100 won coin and pulled out a cart.

"Is that something you ride in?"

Rangii shared her personal interpretation. It seems like she came up with that conclusion because kids her age were riding on the carts and their parents were pushing them, but...... Well, she's not wrong. But I don't plan on having Rangii ride on the cart. I mean, she's heavy.

"No. You put your stuff here."

"Is that so?"

Those two amber pupils were asking me, then why are those kids riding on it? It looks like fun but you mean I can't? ......Could this be the thing where a pet communicates with its owner?

Probably not.

"You can ride in it like that, but only kids do that. Or do you want to ride in it?"

"I, I don't. I am not a child so I won't ride in it."

"Okay, okay."

But I immediately regretted my words.

"This! I want to eat this!"

As soon as Rangii passed the entrance, she grabbed my hand and dragged me to the butcher section. She looked like a tiger that hadn't eaten in three days. I stopped Rangii who was merging with the refrigerator by grabbing her by her waist and moving her back.

"Hey, you dummy. That's premium meat, premium."

"Premium? What's that?"

"It means it's from cows that were raised in this country. It's the same as saying the beef is expensive. And I can't buy anything expensive."

"You don't have enough money?"

The truth is I could buy it. But for housewife-like reasons I can't allow myself to buy it. Because I don't even eat this kind of expensive meat on holidays. ......No, even though I'm not a housewife.

"Then what about that?"

Rangii pointed at a different type of meat. It was shank meat that was meant to be braised.

"So you're okay with anything as long as it's meat."

"I like bear meat the most!"

"......But bear hunting is banned."

"Hm? In the place where I lived, Saehee would sometimes catch a bear and......"

"That's enough."

Is the disappearance of black bears in Jirisan your guys' fault? No, back then when she served bear gall bladder, Saehee said something about revenge for the papa bear......

I stopped thinking about it. In this world, the saying ignorance is bliss is often true.

I asked the butcher who was watching Rangii with warm eyes for a geun[2] of seasoned pork and put it in the cart. If I had time I'd season it myself, but I don't have the time to wait for that to finish. My stomach, that is. Okay then, all that's left is......

"Sunghoon! What's this? It looks weird!"

With a drink in my hand, I saw Rangii shouting out my name and I thought to myself that shopping this time would be a lot more troublesome.

In the end I decided to put Rangii on the cart. Since I'd rather the cart get a little heavier than for Rangii to end up even more active.

"Whoaaa--!"

"Don't move outside of the cart. Don't kick your feet. Don't shake it. Just stay still, ya brat! Are you a kid?!"

"Ah, so I can't do this?"

What kind of magic could be within Rangii's gaze as she's looking up at me? Seeing Rangii look a little dejected, my anger subsided.

"No, that's not what I meant. If you keep doing that then you could end up in danger. It'd hurt if you fell from there."

"That wouldn't happen."

Having heard Rangii say that so naturally, I felt like teasing her.

"Ah, really?"

I used a bit of my strength and turned the cart to the left!

"Wah--wah--wah!"

Rangii was in a daze and grabbed on tight to the cart to not fall off. Uhahaha! This time to the right!

"U--ah--wah!!"

Now she's wriggling to the other side. Uhahaha. You little brat. Did you say something like this wouldn't happen?

"......Young man."

I was scolded by the old grocery clerk lady.





Having spent 30 minutes buying simple ingredients for dinner, I felt like I was going to collapse right away. Because we were causing enough harm to stop the market's business. Thank goodness the other shoppers would just laugh it off. For whatever reason, Rangii was smiling delightedly.

"Hehehe. That was fun."

"Really."

I couldn't say anything to Rangii who looked so happy.

"Let's go together next time as well. There are so many interesting things."

My inability to say anything was just in the past.

"I can't."

"But why?"

"You see, you......"

You attract too much attention and lack common sense so it tires me out. I was going to say that.

"......Sunghoon?"

Is that an angelic voice I just heard behind me?!

"Oh, Narae?"

Narae was standing there, wearing an innocent-looking dress and with a small bag over her shoulder. Could this be fate? We didn't even talk about meeting up together and we still met so we must be a fated couple...... is what I would think if only she hadn't sent that message.

"When'd you get back?"

"Ah, just now."

"I told you to call me when you got back to Seoul, didn't I."

Narae's glare turned sharp as a knife. Ugh. And I remembered she did tell me that. But the message Narae sent was......

[Die. Just stay there and die.] Because of that I was so scared that I didn't even think of calling her.

"Because I just came back."

"What's that in your hand?"

"Ingredients for dinner."

"And you just came back?"

Are my brains on Rangii's level?

"No, you see......"

I should apologize. The only answer I can give is to apologize.

"I'm, I'm sorry! I was afraid that you'd be angry so I wasn't able to call. I'm really sorry."

Narae went humph and crossed her arms.

"What about me is scary?"

Right now you look plenty scary.

Are phantoms really the only beings capable of killing someone with just their glare? With my lips feeling dry, I panicked while trying to decide what to do.

If I tell the truth, that I was too busy with Rangii to call, then Narae would probably get truly angry. Because it'd sound like I was just using Rangii as an excuse. And then, help came from an unexpected source.

"Sunghoon, who is this woman?"

Good job. Rangii. So even you can be useful. I tried to changed the subject by introducing them to each other. If only Narae hadn't responded to Rangii, that is.

"I'm Sunghoon's friend, but who're you?"

"I am Sunghoon's fiancée."

My thinking was incorrect. She wasn't useful. Rangii just poured oil onto a burning house. Even though it was the middle of summer, I felt a chill go down my spine. I'm telling the truth. I had forgotten that that was how this brat thought of me. Narae started to tap on the ground, bothered.

"Fiancée? What're you saying? Since when did you have a fianceé?"

This is the first time I've ever heard Narae's voice so ominous.

"Also, there was that little girl on the phone who said something about being naked......"

"Uwaaa! That's not what happened!"

"It's okay. Even if you are to become Sunghoon's concubine, I am generous enough to understand."

Can you not see how I'm trying to defuse the situation right now?

"Con, concubine?! What're you saying? What're you saying?! Have I gone insane?!"

While doing my best to hold in the tears as my 10 years of feelings I kept had been rejected before even confessing,

"Wait!"

I pulled on Rangii's hand, widened the distance between her and Narae, bowed my body, and whispered to Rangii.

"Hey, I'm going to tell her you're my cousin so just go along with it."

Rangii puffed out her cheeks.

"Why do I have to do that? Isn't it true that I'm your fiancée?"

It's also true that the fiancé didn't know he had a fiancée until yesterday.

"If you don't plan on making more trouble for me, please do this. Okay?"

"......Okay. I do not plan on causing distress to the one who will become my husband."

Even though she has a sulky look on her face, she thankfully understood. I grabbed Rangii's hand again and returned in front of Narae.

"Looks like your secret meeting is over."

Uwaa. My feelings were hurt by Narae's thorny remark.

"No, that's not what that was. Please listen to what I have to say, Narae-nim."

"Speak."

With Narae glaring at me, I told the lie I had prepared.

"Rangii's my cousin, but when we were younger she followed me everywhere and she said that. Okay? You know how it goes. It's like when a kid says when I grow up I'm going to marry Dad~."

"I am not a young kid."

You just stay still. Think about for whose sake I have to make excuses like a guy who was just caught two-timing.

"......"

Narae narrowed her eyes. If they were expressed by emoticons, her eyes would be two consecutive lines. When I joke about it with my friends, I call it her death glare. Narae's really scary when she looks like that. What else can I do to survive?

"Okay."

Huh?

"If that's what you're saying then it's probably true. Because you tell the truth whenever you can."

It looks like the angelic Narae is just going to accept my last-minute excuses. Miss Narae, a true angel.

"So because you're lying to me, I can't just overlook this. I want to go to your house and listen to what you have to say in detail; that's okay, right?"

When did she become a fallen angel?

"Um, that's a bit troublesome. Everything's a mess and I don't have anything to treat guests......"

"That's. Okay. Right?"

With Narae staring daggers at me, I couldn't do anything but obey Narae-nim.

"......Yes."

Although I was scared when I left, after we ended up becoming a group of three and returned home, I naturally sighed at this situation.

"She seems to be too strong-willed to become a concubine; couldn't you reconsider?"

And at Rangii's small voice, I returned to reality. I again thought to myself where I could find your true partner. Maybe in an elementary school.

And I forgot that there was one more thing I had to think about.

"......And who's that woman?"

That's right. Saehee was at home. Even if you take into account her personality, on the outside she looks just like someone our age!

After the angry and lovely Narae opened the door, Saehee who was previously just watching TV came to greet us. And Saehee helped by directing us to sit around a table.

The situation right now is sitting in this order to my right are Narae, Saehee, and Rangii. Even in this situation, I was a little happy to have Narae sitting next to me in my house after so long. She hasn't come here since we entered middle school.

"Ow ow ow!!"

Narae pinched my side. Could she have read my mind?

"Shouldn't you answer my question now?"

Why can't I say that I'm relieved that that wasn't the case?

"Ah, yeah. But it might take a while to explain."

Narae slightly bit her lower lip. It's like a little habit that she does when she gets angry. That means she's extremely angry.

"I don't care."

Seeing Narae's determined face, I thought as hard as I could about how to explain. Giving a lie as close to the truth as possible would be best.

Yeah. Everything should work out if I tell her that Rangii is my cousin who lived in grandpa's estate, that Saehee is her bodyguard and helper, and some stuff happened so Rangii came to Seoul with me.

After coming up with all this within one second, I wondered if I was a master trickster.

"Saehee is......"

"I am Master's maid."

Seeing as how Saehee just organized all my thoughts in a few words, I had to wonder if Saehee was a god.

"Ow ow ow ow!"

The finger pinching my side has just gotten stronger?

"Master?"

Ah, she's responding to that unusual word.

"Pardon me, but who's the master?"

"It seems you have misunderstood. My master is Rangii-nim. And there is no need for you be polite to me."

"But this is the first time we've met each other."

Although she gets easily misunderstood because of her fierce appearance and word choice, she is unexpectedly very polite. To the point where even if they look alike in age, she has to use honorifics the first time they meet.

"There is no need."

"No, but......"

"There is no need."

Ah, there it is. Saehee's using her expressionless face to force Narae to agree with her. The truth is when I was struck by that, an unknown force made me lose what I had to say, and even sitting beside Narae, I could see that that force wasn't disappearing.

"......Okay."

Narae nodded with a bitter look on her face. I wondered if I could finally relax a little after what just happened, but Narae was a very strong-willed kid.

"But when are you going to explain to me why they are in your house, Sunghoon? You weren't planning on avoiding the topic, right?"

I did plan that. I'm caught. Although I didn't complete the excuse in my head, I was going to try to tell her even a bad one when Saehee spoke.

"At the behest of Master's guardian father, who had to go on an overseas business trip, we are staying with young master Sunghoon, the one who Rangii got along so well with."

My mouth dropped open. I never imagined Saehee would so skillfully explain this for me.

"But something about that doesn't sound right?"

"That is how it is."

Narae and Saehee's eyes clashed in midair. Dang, I really don't want to get near this.

Narae sighed.

"Okay. This seems like a family problem so I won't pry. I was sorry, Sunghoon."

Narae released her hand from my side. Now it feels like I'll survive. I didn't say this before, but my side was hurting all this time. Out of Narae's sight, I secretly gave a thumbs up to Saehee for a job well done when,

"And Master is the young master's fiancee."

It seems like I'll have to reverse the direction of my finger.

And with Narae pinching my side,

"That's the truth. Sunghoon is the man that will become my husband."

So Rangii set the fire,

"Due to the oath sworn by her deceased father, Master and the young master have been engaged since before they were born."

And Saehee fanned the fire.

Isn't there anyone who's going to save me from within this chaos?

______________________________________________________________________

 Notes:

.1. The Asian idea of cleaning your body: scrubbing your skin with an abrasive towel.

.2. Also known as "catty": https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Catty

3 comments:

  1. It's here!
    Thank you! ^_^

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