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Passion Chapter 1

This is complete chapter of passion, so leave a thank you comment.
———
The moment the doorbell rang, Jung Taeui hesitated. The black beans he was gripping with his chopsticks fell and rolled away. It took only a few seconds for the black beans to roll off the plate and leave a sticky mark, but the doorbell rang again, not waiting for those brief moments.

Jung Taeui tapped his chopsticks against the table with a nervous gaze directed toward the entrance. From the faint sound of footsteps ascending the stairs, he had a bad premonition.

No, to be precise, his mood had been bad ever since he woke up with his aching knee due to the rain pouring since dawn. His knee always ached on rainy or gloomy days, but on days when it throbbed particularly like today, his luck tended to be especially bad.

He was having a simple breakfast in a similarly dreary mood when he heard the footsteps from outside. The old residential building, over 20 years old, would reverberate any sound up to the rooftop, making it easy to notice even the entry of a cat.

And from the third floor right below the rooftop, the footsteps approaching after entering the building had set off his bad feeling the moment he heard them. The doorbell confirmed his unease as a bitter reality.

Very few people visited his home. His brother, who had left four days ago and had not been heard from since — the only person who lived with him — had a key and never rang the doorbell.

The presence outside seemed adamant and heavy, ringing the doorbell once more as he pondered. A solid, heavy footstep echoed again, reminiscent of military boots.

The moment the word “military boots” came to mind, his ominous premonition intensified. The doorbell now rang steadily three, four times in succession. He lost his appetite after barely having a bite and set his chopsticks down.

The person whose ominous presence stood outside showed no signs of leaving. Without knocking or calling out, they persistently pressed the doorbell. With a sinking feeling, he thought of someone who fit this description.

“…”

When Jung Taeui finally moved toward the entrance to open the door, the bell had rung exactly twelve times. The man outside took a step back as the door opened. The sound of polished military boots was heard clearly, clean and spotless.

Above those boots was a spotless black uniform, military-like yet not quite; it was more of a dress or ceremonial uniform, but the organization this man belonged to was not much different from the military.

The small silver badge on his collar looked particularly unpleasant. It wasn’t that people didn’t covet that badge, but rather because good things had never happened when this man, adorned in full uniform, had visited his home.

However, this was the third or fourth time he saw the man in full dress. The man smoothly took off a black hat with black-gloved hands, smiling gracefully as he met Jung Taeui’s eyes.

“Long time no see. How have you been?”

It had been roughly three years since their last meeting. Since then, many things had happened.

He had narrowly escaped death while clearing mines, almost died again due to a rejection while undergoing surgery, almost killed a person who had threatened his life three times, and had been discharged from mandatory military service before even completing half of it.

Jung Taeui gazed at the man with a conflicted expression and sighed.

“What could possibly happen to me that you wouldn’t know about? Though I don’t know if you have any unexpected business at this hour. …Come in.”

He felt a sense of unease.

While he didn’t dislike the man, it was unsettling for him to visit in such attire. But he knew the man had most likely come looking for his brother, so there shouldn’t be anything for him to worry about.

Nevertheless, Jung Taeui welcomed him into the house with the feeling of inviting in bad luck. The man’s eyes curved joyfully with no hint of displeasure as he saw Taeui move aside. As he closed the door behind the entering man, Jung Taeui asked,

“When did you arrive?”

“Two hours ago. Came straight from the airport.”

“Ah, I see… But you could’ve called or something. My brother’s not home.”

The man, who had flopped onto the sofa in a casual posture unbecoming of his sharply pressed uniform, briefly paused and glared at Jung Taeui.

“Not home? When will he be back?”

“I don’t know. He left four days ago and hasn’t contacted me since. Did you come all the way just to see my brother? Then you made a trip for nothing.”

“Is there nowhere you can contact him?”

“If he were someone who could be contacted that easily, he wouldn’t be Jung Jaeyi. You know that.”

Jung Taeui replied indifferently, sitting on the stool across from the man.

His brother Jaeyi usually led a relatively regular life. If he expected to be away for a night or two, he would inform him, even briefly. But sometimes, he would leave without any promise and vanish for days or weeks, like now. Sometimes, he returned in a few days; other times, he could be gone over two months, making it hard to predict his return.

However, he had a feeling his brother might not return for a long time this time. Jaeyi had left with an enigmatic statement four days ago,

“Living a charmed life too long is no fun. I should experience some misfortune too.”

Remembering his brother’s inscrutable smile when he left, Jung Taeui fell into thoughts. Despite being hard to comprehend, reflecting on his brother’s words left them no clearer.

Nonetheless…

“Ugh, this is troublesome…”

Seeing his uncle tapping his forehead with his fingers, Jung Taeui thought internally. Talking about experiencing misfortune… The person who vanished perfectly before bad luck arrived won’t know what misfortune is. Someone like him will never even come near the “m” in misfortune.

Jung Taeui has a brother born at the same time on the same day.

Despite being from the same roots, his brother was exceptionally different and frighteningly intelligent. The term “genius” felt inadequate.

If Jung Jaeyi wasn’t relaxed and somewhat lazy, uninterested, or without ambition towards his surroundings, he could probably blow up a continent if he wanted to.

Coveted by the UN Human Resources Development Agency, Jaeyi had outstanding abilities ranging from humanities to science, and even arts.

On the other hand, Jung Taeui was ordinary. Well, slightly better than ordinary. No matter what it was, he didn’t fall below average. In some fields, he was even considered excellent.

However, Taeui’s excellence was the result of his efforts, unlike his brother who excelled without half the effort.

Despite this, Taeui never envied his brother for such traits. Convenient, sure. But he didn’t wish for such talents.

What he envied was not his brother’s intellect, talents, or capabilities. What he yearned for was his brother’s luck.

His brother, Jung Jaeyi, had luck so impeccable, even his exceptional brain couldn’t compare. Described inadequately as “born under a lucky star,” his luck was just that extreme.

He would emerge unscathed from severe accidents, but beyond that, if he abruptly needed money, Jaeyi would borrow some coins to buy a lottery ticket.

The lottery ticket would provide just the amount he needed.

This extended to everything in his life.

While Jaeyi basked in unbelievable and absolute luck daily, Taeui experienced a roughly equal measure of regular luck and misfortune. Growing up alongside his brother’s incredible luck, Taeui would’ve been lying if he said he didn’t envy it.

As a child , he often felt an envious ache, but as he grew older those feelings dissipated. It was merely a general envy of something mystically good he couldn’t have.

Although that was the only aspect of others Taeui ever envied.

Despite the envy, Jung Taeui loved his brother.

The exceptionally intelligent man, capable and enormously lucky, wasn’t insufferable in character. Though indifferent, capricious, and sometimes hard to comprehend, he was ordinary as a brother. He was ordinarily kind and ordinarily reliable.

He thought they were quite close as brothers. Even after knowing each other for decades, his brother remained somewhat cryptic, though, but perhaps all geniuses were like that. However, perhaps his brother did not like Taeui all that much either.

Four days ago, the night before he left.

As he often did, Jaeyi was silently staring at an incomprehensible design while occasionally jotting down chemical formulas and molecule diagrams. Even when Taeui peered over his shoulder, he didn’t notice for quite a while.

Seeing unfamiliar formulas and numbers, Taeui thought, ‘Brother is diving into another mysterious realm.’ He picked up a book on humanities from the sofa.

It was a quiet and comfortable night as usual. After staring at the paper for a while, his brother seemed tired and pushed it aside. He lay on the floor and stared at the ceiling with a vacant look.

Perhaps he had sighed softly out of exhaustion. Abruptly, Jaeyi sat beside him, grabbed his pinky finger, and said,

“This here… between here…”

Continuing to speak, showing his pinky,

“This red string connecting us. It’s natural since we were born at the same time on the same day. But… let’s cut it now.”

“…What?”

What was he talking about? Despite his incomprehensible realms of thought, his brother had never uttered such astounding words.

Knowing he was exceptionally intelligent, Taeui wondered briefly if his brother was not in his right mind at that moment.

However, with a serene look, Jaeyi made a cutting gesture with his fingers between their pinkies, as though cutting an invisible red string of fate.

Then, he lay back down to stare at the ceiling. Taeui, still holding his pinky, just stared at him for a moment before asked bluntly.

“Brother… did you really hate me all this time?”

Or had he recently done something to provoke him? But nothing came to mind. What was the problem?

When Taeui asked, Jaeyi displayed a puzzled expression.

“Why would I?”

That was his response. Taeui tilted his head, staring at him, but his brother’s expression was unperturbed. Returning his gaze to his book, he thought nothing more of it.

But now, perhaps the words had meant “Why else would I care?”.

The one who could answer that question was now gone. Leaving behind a cryptic statement about experiencing misfortune.

Taeui thought, ‘What a spoiled thing to say’, but in retrospect, his true luck lay in leaving before this troublesome visitor arrived.

Though not thrilled, Taeui couldn’t ignore his hungry guest’s request for food. He added one more serving to his half-eaten meal. Despite losing his appetite, he sat across his uncle.

“What’s with this meager meal?”

Seeing the barley rice, clear soup, and a couple of side dishes, his uncle laughed.

“What do you expect from a struggling young man. Does your army serve gourmet meals?”

“Of course. The life is tough enough; if the food were bad, there’d be an internal rebellion. Anyway, it’s not the army.”

“Whatever, from what I’ve heard, it’s stricter than the army. Some say it’s even worse.”

“Yet people line up from across the globe to join. It has a prestigious name, UNDHRA (United Nations Development and Human Rights Agency).”

“Too long to remember.”

Watching his uncle eat, not sure if he was complimenting or complaining about the meal, Taeui sighed and picked up his spoon. Though he was no longer hungry, he took a few sips of soup.

His eyes paused on his uncle’s hands. He always thought they were remarkably graceful with chopsticks. His hand movements resembled his brother’s.

Looking at his uncle’s face, his composed and somewhat gentle demeanor reminded him even more of his brother. They did have similar looks, being his biological father, unlike himself.

“Isn’t next month your father’s third anniversary?”

Unexpectedly, his uncle brought it up.

“Yes. On the 20th by the lunar calendar. Are you coming?”

“Probably not.”

Their last meeting was at his father’s funeral. Since then, his uncle hadn’t attended any memorials, but he understood, given his busy life.

Though a bothersome guest to him, Taeui’s uncle was respected and well-received anywhere he went.

“Do you want me to tell my brother to contact you when he returns?”

Even though he knew it would be faster for his uncle to send someone to find his brother, he offered. Knowing very well that his lucky brother wouldn’t be found if it would result in misfortune to him.

“No, there’s not enough time for that.”

His uncle murmured, scratching his lips with his fingertips. He looked intently at Taeui.

At that moment, the sense of foreboding crept up his spine again.

“Taeui.”

“Uncle… I don’t know why you’re looking for my brother, but you know how different we are, right? Even at five, I couldn’t grasp the chemistry equations he figured out.”

Seeing Taeui’s quick and brusque response, his uncle’s eyes curved with faint pleasure.

“You know one of you is my child, right?”

His uncle’s unexpected topic threw him off guard. Any subject would have, but not this one. Taeui sighed and said,

“What, it’s not one; it’s both. Genetically, I know. So what?”

It wasn’t a secret. He remembered his father telling them as children. Understanding they were old enough to know, their father had explained they were conceived with their uncle’s help as he couldn’t have children.

Nothing had changed. His father remained his father, and his uncle remained his uncle. One fact could carry many truths within.

At the time, he had also told them,

“If your uncle says something strange someday, trust him.”

Not only for his father’s words but because their uncle was generally a pleasant person, they followed him. But dear father, Uncle always says odd things.

“No, not both, just one. Before you were born, your father said he would give one of you to me. So, you were supposed to live as cousins; one of you would have grown up apart from the other. But seeing how inseparable you two were, he allowed you both to stay together.”

See, even now, his uncle is saying strange things again. As he stared incredulously, his uncle grew serious.

“Really, I mean it.”

It was somewhat suspicious but knowing he wouldn’t lie, it dawned on him. Father might not have wanted to say directly that he would give one of them.

Could the strange talk have been about that? Recalling, his father had quietly added,

“If the time comes, treat your uncle with the same respect you’ve shown me.”

Did he mean if his uncle requested?

Unclear. Yet if his father had agreed, there was no reason to object. His brother would likely come to a similar conclusion. Taeui was quick to give up. He adapted quickly to circumstances.

“Yes, Uncle. My cousin is out now, coincidentally. Should I tell him to call you when he returns?”

Jung Taeui mentioned, his uncle laughed. His smiling face resembled his brother even more. Such resemblance made it believable they were indeed father and son. Their personalities seemed similar, too.

So, his brother might feel awkward finding out about this upon his return. Not much would faze him though. Taeui rarely saw his brother visibly startled.

“I can’t waste time looking for someone who’s not here. From today, Taeui, you are my son. Come with me. Pack your things. They’ll provide everything you need there, so just bring the essentials,” his uncle said, rubbing his chin as if amused. His voice carried a hint of laughter. However, Jung Taeui was not amused. Hearing such absurd things twice in a day with scarcely any time between was a unique experience but hardly a pleasant one.

“Me?”

“Yes, Jung Taeui. My son.”

It felt as though a heavy burden was about to be placed on his shoulders. Taeui frowned and faced his uncle with a serious expression.

Suddenly claiming the right to be his father after saying nothing until now was one thing, but why did his unmarried, contentedly single uncle suddenly need a son?

“Can’t I just not go?”

“Consider it as being filial. Come along, son.”

“I don’t want to, father. Can’t I just be an unfilial son?” Taeui said with a hint of frustration.

His uncle smiled deeply. There was quite an age gap between his father and his uncle, and the age difference between his uncle and Taeui was only three years less than that between his father and uncle. Thus, his uncle felt more like an older brother than an uncle to him.

Maintaining his broad smile, his uncle approached Taeui. Then, unexpectedly, he gave him a solid whack on the head—a gesture far harsher than what you’d call a playful knock.

“Ouch!”

Taeui glared at him, cradling his head, but his uncle’s smile didn’t waver as he calmly said,

“You little rascal, I went through the trouble of getting you discharged early, and instead of being grateful, you talk about being unfilial? You deserve another beating.”

“Ouch! Ow! Ow! That hurts, Uncle! It really hurts!”

Incidentally, his uncle’s painful strikes were similar to his brother’s, despite his brother being non-violent due to his lazy nature. Whenever Jaeyi tried to wake Taeui from a stupor or when he was suffocating in sleep paralysis, his slaps were rather painful.

Having thoroughly smacked Taeui, his uncle nonchalantly massaged his hand and sat back down, while Taeui rubbed his sore head, grumbling.

“Well, I did wonder why I was discharged so easily when I had much of my service period left… Uncle, did you help with that?”

“Yes, Jaeyi mentioned how his little brother’s body and mind were falling apart in the military.”

“…It wasn’t that bad.”

True, he almost died at the military hospital, had some emotional distress from quarrels with other soldiers, but falling apart was an exaggeration…or maybe not.

It all began with being placed in the same unit as his worst enemies from the academy. Things escalated until he nearly killed someone, was almost killed, and eventually got discharged. Now, he had cut ties completely and didn’t want to think about it anymore.

Feeling depressed as the forgotten memories resurfaced, Taeui sighed. Discharged four months ago, he had been a young drifter since. Though he had some aches on bad days, he’d been thinking of getting back on his feet since his leg healed and he was physically fine.

“So, why do you suddenly need a son? Where are you sending me?”

Asked Taeui, still somewhat dejected. His uncle, dropping his playful demeanor, replied,

“It’s not necessarily about having a son. I need someone competent. After a huge fight with the European branch, we’ve lost many people, and I need someone to fill those positions.”

“…”

“…That’s just an excuse though. What I really need is a lucky person.”

His uncle paused. Taeui waited silently for him to continue, already suspecting the excuse of needing more people wasn’t the real motive. If it were just about numbers, he wouldn’t have come all the way here. However, for a lucky person, Taeui didn’t fit the bill, and his uncle knew that too.

“In half a year, our branch head will be moving to the headquarters in America. That means the two deputies will be fiercely competing for the position. Politics always involve factional struggles. So, I end up being dragged into this fight because I have to support my immediate superior. In short, we need someone lucky enough to survive the dirty politics for the next six months.”

“I’m not that lucky.”

“Well, we’re making do with what we have. How about it?”

“What’s there to like? Who would feel good about being a second-best choice?”

Taeui spoke bluntly, but the comment didn’t bother him much. If Jung Jaeyi was akin to a pheasant, he was honored to be considered a chicken. Jaeyi was an exceptional individual. Taeui half understood his uncle’s point: ‘This seems like troublesome business.’ His uncle’s organization wasn’t much different from the military, an institution Taeui wanted to avoid.

“Uncle, you’re in the Asia branch, right?”

“That’s right.”

“There are more skilled and luckier people than me. Pick any of them.”

“I’ve already revealed the ugly internal politics. You can’t back out now.”

“What’s ugly about it? It’s probably an open secret. Fight well and get promoted safely.”

Taeui waved his hand dismissively and began clearing the table. His uncle grabbed his wrist tightly. Taeui clicked his tongue. Judging by his uncle’s serious expression, he seemed genuinely intent. Rejecting this wouldn’t be easy.

“Uncle… You know I won’t do well.”

Taeui sighed loudly as he murmured. His uncle, however, asked seriously,

“Tell me why you won’t. If it’s convincing, I’ll find someone else.”

“You know why.”

“Not really…”

He couldn’t gauge his uncle’s thoughts. There was no reason why it had to be Taeui. Jaeyi, perhaps, but people like Taeui were a dime a dozen.

“Uncle, for one, I hate the military. I’ve had enough of authoritarian and closed institutions.”

“We are not the military. We train hard, but there’s no hierarchical culture. We handle classified matters, so we’re somewhat closed but not authoritarian. In our branch, your superiors would be the Head and two deputies who you would rarely see. Everyone else, including the six instructors, would be equals. What’s the next reason?”

“…I’m not in great shape.”

“I know you’re better now.”

“I’m better but still feel pain when the weather’s bad.”

“Everyone there has been shot or broken bones. Next reason?”

“I’m neither lucky nor skilled enough.”

His uncle’s eyes twitched as he continued staring at him with a hint of amusement.

“I need someone who can follow orders and survive. I have high regard for you, Taeui. I even reviewed your records from the academy until now. You have the most essential skill for survival.”

“And what’s that?”

“Your instincts.”

“…”

Just when he thought the conversation was turning serious, an unexpected word was thrown in. Disappointed, Taeui sighed.

“Uncle… instincts? Really?”

“Why, are you disappointed?”

“Not disappointed… No, disappointed.”

Taeui muttered, shaking his head slowly.

“It’s nothing to be disappointed about. Apart from someone extraordinarily lucky like Jaeyi, for most people, instincts are critical for survival. Sometimes, good instincts define life and death.”

His uncle’s voice lowered. While he had rarely been near death in such fierce circumstances, he understood his uncle’s point.

“So, next?”

“Pardon?”

“Another reason?”

His uncle gestured as if inviting more reasons. His expression indicated that none so far were convincing.

Taeui stared at him silently. So did his uncle, waiting for him to speak.

Sometimes, Taeui was surprised by his brother. It wasn’t about his genius or luck; it was how well he knew him. Despite having grown up together for over a quarter century, Jaeyi often caught Taeui off guard, understanding nuances about him he himself wasn’t aware of. Similarly, his uncle seemed to have a knack for it too.

“Entering a place full of men… It’s dangerous.”

Taeui mumbled, his face looking gloomy. His uncle raised an eyebrow, amused.

“Who?”

Before Taeui could understand, his uncle asked again.

“You or the others?”

Taeui frowned slightly. After contemplating, he replied,

“Me, I suppose.”

“You? Why? Do you think those guys will drag you down and have their way?”

Seeing his uncle’s entertained expression, Taeui sighed and relented.

“No, I fear I might drag them down and have my way.”

“I had no idea your range is so broad. Feel free to do so, as long as they’re not your superiors. It’s a place where strength rules.”

“Are you saying anyone can be dragged down if they’re strong enough?!”

Taeui exclaimed. His uncle laughed, spreading his hands. Sometimes, it was hard to tell if this man was joking or serious. Taeui clicked his tongue and scratched his head irritably.

“Why do you pretend not to know?”

“Well, the only possible issue I see is that you’re attracted to men.”

“Isn’t that enough reason for me to be weary?”

“Was it so tiring beating up and discharging your foul-mouthed fellow soldier?”

Taeui glared at him, then sighed, resting his head against the wall. He knows everything, doesn’t he?

His uncle poured water into a cup as if it were an exquisite tea, then took a sip, savoring it before speaking again.

“Taeui. If you had framed that concern differently, I might have accepted it. But the way you put it, I can’t accept it.”

“How differently?”

Taeui asked, exhausted from the back-and-forth. His uncle replied playfully,

“For instance, saying you’re scared the others might assault you.”

“Uncle, that joke isn’t funny…”

A tired sigh escaped him. The follow-up mutter of “Well, I wasn’t entirely joking,” was hard to tell if he meant it or not.

“So, another reason?”

Taeui sighed deeply. Maintaining his silence for a while, he finally muttered with a resigned tone.

“Six months?”

His uncle’s eyes sparkled as he smiled.

“Yes, six months. Until the new Head is appointed. After that, you can do whatever you want. Quit if you’d like, or continue if you enjoy it. And if you quit, scout offers will be overwhelming. You won’t have to worry about job searching. Worrying about where to go might be another thing, though. Being from our organization is a stellar résumé.”

“Yeah, I suppose.”

Feeling utterly drained, Taeui leaned heavily against the chair. It felt like he had run a full marathon—without any sense of achievement.

The wall clock showed that it was merely the start of the day.

Life is unpredictable, but such a sudden and unexpected change was hard to fathom.

I knew the day felt ominously bad from the start. And here I am now.

Perhaps his uncle deeming him as having good instincts was indeed right.

We’ve Moved! If you notice any missing, empty, or incorrect chapters, please leave a comment below, and we’ll fix it as soon as possible. Regular updates will resume on June 10th. Thank you for your patience!
Passion

Passion

패션(Passion)
Score 8.8
Status: Ongoing Type: Author: Released: 2006 Native Language: Korean
Jeong Tae-ui, who considers himself ordinary, is a former soldier and the younger brother of the genius Jeong Jae-ui. His life begins to take an unexpected turn when he starts working for the United Nations Human Resources Development Organization (UNHRDO) for six months, at the not-so-subtle insistence of his biological father and uncle, Jeong Chang-in. His life becomes intertwined with that of Ilay Riegrow, a crazy guy with pretty hands. This leads him down a path he had never considered before. This story involves modern setting, battle romance, professional work, jealousy, foreigners, serious setting, incidents, a cold-blooded ML, a strong ML, an obsessive ML, a beautiful ML, a crazy ML, a black-bellied/strategic ML, a chaebol ML, a scum ML. Please note that this work is a revised edition suitable for those aged 15 and above.

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