We Should Have Slept While Only Holding Hands, And Yet?!
Vol.4 Chapter 9

Author: Ryu Hosung
Source: Shalvation Translations

A blanket of snow fell over the city once December arrived.

“Ahahahaha⎯⎯!”

“You’re going to fall if you keep that up, you know?”

I decided to take a stroll to our school’s field with Saeyeon who’d always get excited like a puppy whenever it snowed. As soon as we arrived, Saeyeon spread her arms out and ran towards the snow-covered field.

“Look, look⎯⎯! There isn’t even a single footstep yet!”

With a broad smile on her face, Saeyeon turned back towards me and shouted.

“Jjaro, hurry up⎯⎯! Ahahahaha⎯⎯!”

“Seriously······.”

I smiled wryly and shook my head. Even though she’s going to have to start studying for the college entrance exams soon, she’s still a kid.

It’s been two weeks since we got back from the school excursion. 

There were several things that had changed and been decided during that period of time.

The first thing to change was Jihye’s appearance.

ÅΟΟÅΟΟÅ

“······Well, you said you’re going to stop being a robot maid, so it can’t be helped.”

I let out a sigh as I spoke.

“But can’t you at least help out with some chores······?”

“I like how I’ve changed~.”

Jihye answered lazily while eating some chips. She was laying down on the sofa while watching a movie on cable TV.

“Those are some big words. And why are you eating chips?”

“Isn’t it the best when you’re munching on something while watching a movie? Popcorn would be good, but I’m not picky.”

“That’s not something you should be saying. You have no need to eat.”

Jihye stuck out her lips as if she were upset as she turned to look at me. Every time she spoke, crumbs fell out of her mouth.

“What’s so bad about eating chips when there’s a digestive system installed inside of me? Since I don’t have to eat for the sake of living, I want to live for the sake of eating.”

“······I shouldn’t have brought this up. Whatever.”

She used to give me a long scolding whenever I left crumbs on the sofa and floor. I shook my head.

“I like how I’ve······.”

“Stop milking that line. More importantly, isn’t it time for you to go to your part-time job?”

“Oh, you’re right! I almost forgot.”

Jihye shot up from the couch once I reminded her. She threw on on a thick, unnecessary parka that she had left hanging off the side of the sofa and placed her hand on her forehead. In other words, she saluted.

“Then, I’ll be going⎯⎯!”

“······You only speak politely in times like this.”

I smiled wryly as I watched Jihye wave her hand once before opening the door and leaving.

Jihye started working at a part-time job thanks to Nanda’s introduction. They must’ve urgently needed more workers, or maybe it’s thanks to Nanda’s connections, but Jihye was hired immediately despite the vagueness of her identity.

She isn’t making a lot, but Jihye has begun to gradually save up her money. She said that she couldn’t just live at our place freely since she had quit being a robot maid, so she began to pay rent.

“I can’t keep receiving things when I’m not working, can I?”

That’s how Jihye answered when I asked her about this.

“No matter what I do, I can’t be a part of the family. Strictly speaking, a robot maid, a housekeeper, and a mistress, none of these are proper family members, right? And I don’t want to be any of these things either.”

Jihye shook her head strongly. I felt a little sad because of this.

“You don’t like that kind of relationship?”

“Mhm. Ah, that doesn’t mean I hate Master······you, Saeyeon, Jaim, or Nabom. I still cherish you all. I don’t care how it started. This is something that my previous self and my current self both like.”

Jihye seemed embarrassed by her slip of the tongue as she laughed a little.

“You can’t only cherish your family, right? Also, I don’t want to be cherished simply because I’m a part of the family.”

“······All right.”

“I want to be cherished as Jin Jihye. Not as a robot maid, a housekeeper, a mistress, or as Saeyeon’s copy, I want to be cherished as myself.”

I decided to not say anything more than this. I simply let out a sigh and muttered a bit.

“Then you should help with some chores as well.”

“I don’t want to. There’s a chance I might end up going back to how things were before if I start doing chores again.”

Jihye shook her head firmly again. Her now short hair fluttered as she did.

“To be honest, I’m not used to this yet. I did resolve myself to change, but I’ve still spent more time being a robot maid. I occasionally speak formally like I did before and I get urges to do chores. Well······. In any case, mistakes happen. That’s probably closer to my true nature, after all. That’s how I was made.”

Jihye’s expression looked a little wistful and sad.

“······Do you hate your previous self that much?”

“That’s not it. I liked that time as well. Being loyal to my job felt satisfying. Although it was more like I didn’t have to think or choose things for myself, I don’t think that time was bad when I look back at it.”

Jihye continued before I could even open my mouth.

“But I don’t want to regret it. The words I’ve said and the things I’ve done. I don’t want to regret them.”

Jihye said this with a smile.

“That’s why I’m not going to do the stuff I did before. I might end up reverting back to my old habits if I do. I prefer how things are now.”

And that’s how Jihye has been spending her time.

How should I say it? Rather than a housekeeper, it feels more like we have a tenant.

Jihye has definitely changed.

Her way of speaking, personality, clothes, and tendencies, all of these things have changed. She’s begun to live as she desires.

Although she would occasionally revert back to her old way of speech and tendencies, she would do her best to return to her current self.

She would correct herself whenever she used formal speech and she would fidget constantly as she did her best to not pay attention when I did housework. Well, she’s still teaching Saeyeon how to cook and clean, though. If she’s still going to teach her, then can’t she do some of the housework herself?

I believe that her slob-like attitude and the way she’s been lazing around are the results of her decision. She’s doing her utmost to do the exact opposite of what she did before for the sake of not going back and so that she could continue to change.

Honestly, it’s not like I don’t miss the old Jihye. She was an ideal robot maid who was loyal, kind, gentle, courteous, and always polite.

Regardless, Jihye doesn’t want that. She’s doing her best to change, to live.

That’s right, I should say that she’s ‘living’ now.

That’s probably why I felt that way at that time.

Jihye is now able to act however she wants. She isn’t moving according to how she was made or due to some predetermined instructions. 

She’s nothing like she was before and she’s the freest person in our home.

Although the way she changed sometimes feels like she’s getting cocky and I haven’t gotten accustomed to it completely yet, it strangely didn’t upset me.

The next thing to change was probably the matter with Nanda.

ÅΟΟÅΟΟÅ

“······That’s how it is.”

“······.”

Nanda listened to what I had to say quietly. I decided to wait patiently until Nanda said something first.

“······For starters, thanks for telling me about this.”

Nanda, who had been thinking with his hands covering his mouth, slowly opened his mouth.

“So that’s what happened.”

Nanda had a forlorn smile on his face as he spoke to me with a sympathetic tone and gaze.

“It must’ve been tough.”

I remember hearing these exact words before.

It was a short while after I met Nanda.

At that time, I intended to pay him back for pitying me. He was going to be my only friend and I was going to make him pay the price for pitying me when he trusted me and truly considered me as his friend. That was my plan.

However, this time I simply nodded and spoke.

“Thanks.”

Nanda’s eyes went wide for a moment once he heard me thank him. He eventually returned to his usual, pleasant smile.

“But is it okay to tell me about this?”

“Yeah. This is something we all decided together.”

“We?”

“Yup. Saeyeon, Jaim, Jihye, and Nabom. All of us. I thought you should know about this as well, so I talked about it with everyone and they all agreed.”

At first, there was a suggestion that we should keep it a secret till the very end since this doesn’t involve Nanda.

But I didn’t think that would be right.

Nanda is my friend. He’s my close and precious friend.

He’s also someone who’s going to get hurt because of me in the future. I felt like I had to tell him before then. Thus, I convinced everyone.

“I see······.”

Nanda nodded before continuing.

“All right. I’m not sure what I can do, but I’ll do everything in my power to help.”

“Thanks.”

Even if there was no certainty in those words, I decided to trust them.

I chose not to doubt them.

“Then there’s something I want to immediately ask of you.”

“Huh? Right now? What is it?”

Nanda seemed surprised as he blinked.

“I want to leave Saeyeon in your care.”

“······You.”

Nanda narrowed his eyes. He looked doubtful. It was the same slightly angered gaze he would show when he was concerned about me. Nonetheless, I didn’t avoid his gaze. Nanda looked at me like that for a moment before taking a deep breath and returning to his usual expression.

“Give me an explanation. Explain it so I don’t get any weird misunderstanding.”

“There’s nothing to really explain. I mean what I said.”

“······I’m asking just in case, but you aren’t saying something like ‘that’s going to happen in the future, so be with Saeyeon instead of me’, right? I’m going to hit you if you are.”

“I’m not. What would I do about Jaim, then?”

I flicked Nanda’s forehead as he glared at me. Nanda seemed surprised by my response as he rubbed his forehead.

“Then what are you trying to say?”

“I’m telling you that it’s literal. I don’t know what may possibly happen, so I want to leave her to a friend that I trust.”

“Is something going to happen?”

“This is still a what-if situation, but.”

I got a little serious as I spoke.

“If, by some rare chance, something happens to me, then I want you to look after Saeyeon and Jaim. Like a godfather, I guess. I know that I can trust you.”

“······Is some event going to happen?”

Nanda gazed at me carefully and with concern. I shook my head.

“I’m going to leave for a bit.”

“······.”

Nanda widened his eyes again once he heard my answer.

“You’re going to leave?”

“Yeah. For a short moment. If possible, I intend to come back soon, but it might take a while. I know you’re probably busy as well, but I want you to occasionally drop by and make sure that everyone is doing all right. Visit every now and then so they don’t get lonely.”

Nanda closed his eyes and folded his arms as he thought about it. He eventually opened only one eye as he asked me a question.

“Do you think I won’t do anything weird during that time?”

“If you’re going to do something, then give it a shot. I’ll make sure to beat you to a pulp once I’m back.”

Nanda chuckled as I grinned at him.

“Also, Saeyeon has completely fallen for me, you know? Sorry, but there’s no way she’ll fall for you now.”

He then smiled bitterly.

“······You sure have gotten confident, Jjaro. You’re even saying things like this to me.”

“There’s no reason for us to beat around the bush now.”

“Haha, you’re right.”

This was something we had both agreed upon discreetly. A type of non-aggression ground. But it didn’t matter now. The thing we had agreed upon had changed, after all.

“You sure have changed, Jjaro.”

Nanda chuckled comfortably before asking me another question.

“So, where are you going?”

 

ÅΟΟÅΟΟÅ

“······Are you serious, Dad?”

“I’m serious. I’m really serious.”

Jaim gave me a weird look. It seems that me using our names as a pun was still alarming to her.

Jaim became a bit lean after shutting herself away for a month.

Her cheeks, which used to be great to pull on, disappeared a little and her nice skin had become rough. This fact made me feel guilty and sad.

After Jaim came out of her room, it took quite a while before she would talk to either me or Saeyeon.

The scar on her heart must have been that big, after all. Out of all of us, Jaim was probably the one who anguished, suffered, and despaired the most.

That scar most likely hasn’t healed completely yet. As long as all of this doesn’t turn out to be a lie, it’ll probably never heal.

With this in mind, I put a little more energy in my voice.

“That’s why I want you to know beforehand as well.”

“But······. What do you intend to do, then?”

I shook my head in response to Jaim’s cautious words.

“Honestly, I’m not sure either. I don’t know if anything will actually happen, but, either way, there’s still a chance.”

“What if I go with you?”

“No. It’d be better if you stayed here. Just in case.”

“In case of what?”

Jaim looked a bit afraid.

“······Don’t tell me. Do you intend to make me turn into Ha Nabom if we fail this time as wel- ow!”

I hit Jaim’s forehead and spoke sternly.

“Is that what you want?”

Jaim slowly shook her head as she rubbed her forehead.

“······No.”

“Then don’t say things like that and actually think for a second.”

I spoke while pressing down on her front bangs which she had tied up.

“There’s no way things will turn out that way when we’ve come this far. We either do it or we don’t. One or the other.”

“······.”

Jaim’s expression became slightly grave once she heard my response.

“But, there’s no other way. If there’s a chance that something may possibly happen, then everything will end. If that’s the case, then, I didn’t want to say this, but if I go back to becoming Nabom······Ow!”

This brat keeps trying to jinx it. I hit her a little harder this time.

“Even then, you can’t.

“Why not!?”

“Because you’re my precious daughter.”

Jaim’s eyes widened.

“I’m sorry for everything up till now.”

I then stroked Jaim’s head as I spoke sincerely.

“Honestly, I also had that thought for a brief moment.”

“······.”

“Since Saeyeon is precious to me. She’s the most precious thing to me in the world, after all.”

My words seemed to make Jim sad, but she also appeared as if she expected this as there was a look of acceptance on her face.

“Don’t make that face. I haven’t finished talking yet.”

“Ububububu.”

After I pulled on her cheeks which didn’t feel as satisfying now, I continued.

“Still, it’s all thanks to you. Seriously, all of it.”

If all of this was a story, then the starting point of everything would probably be when this girl appeared before me.

Everything changed since that day, after all.

Me, the things around me, and the world, all of it has changed.

“I hated it at first. The way things changed.”

Something I always hated was forced upon me, after all.

“I found it bothersome and annoying.”

Everything that I had been maintaining until then started to change because of it, after all.

“I despaired, I wandered, and I even cried.”

I was faced with a predetermined conclusion, a despair, that I had never even considered before, after all.

“Regardless, the thing I want to protect isn’t my family.”

I was wrong.

I forgot the most important thing because I managed to obtain the thing I hated and wanted.

“What I want to protect isn’t my wife. It isn’t my daughter either.”

It’s not like I would have accepted anyone. It’s not like I didn’t care who it was. They’re important because they’re precious and I want to be with them.

“It’s Ja Saeyeon and Jin Jaim.”

It’s not just anyone who can comfort my dreariness.

“That’s why you have to be here. Jin Jaim must be here. Even if something like that happens, you can’t have those thoughts, okay?”

I pulled Jaim’s head to me and pressed our forehead together.

“I’m not going to let anyone mess with my daughter. No matter who it is.”

“······Okay.”

“So don’t fight with Jihye and wait for me to return. Also······. Similar to how Jihye has changed, I want you to promise me that you’ll also change.”

I stuck my pinky out.

“A family’s peace⎯⎯⎯⎯.”

Jaim hesitated for a moment, but.

“⎯⎯⎯⎯is protected by the family.”

We both laughed at how stupid we must look as we locked pinkies.

 

ÅΟΟÅΟΟÅ

“······What are you planning?”

Nabom glared at me sharply as she asked me that.

“Despite everything I’ve said.”

I didn’t say anything as I simply returned Nabom’s gaze.

“I pleaded to you that much······!”

“Did you really sleep here for 2 days?”

Nabom glared at me more fiercely once I managed to utter that question.

“I have nowhere else to go.”

“Was it not cold?”

“I don’t care about something like that.”

“Were you not hungry?”

“I don’t care about something like that.”

“You at least drank water, right? Have you been going to the bathroom properly?”

“How long are you going to keep this up?”

“I told you to take care of yourself.”

“Underclassman Jin Jaro!”

In the end, Nabom shouted at me because of my casual demeanor.

After I met Jihye, I went to the clubroom before going home.

Nabom was in the same position I had left her in. Wrapped in a blanket and sitting against the wall.

Did she immediately return to the clubroom after following me out?

Did she freeze in place since she had nowhere else to go like me?

“······Sorry.”

For starters, I apologized for leaving her.

Nabom’s intense glare remained despite my apology.

“I see that you’ve had a change of heart towards Miss Jihye.”

“How’d you know?”

“Your face is telling me everything.”

Nabom grit her teeth.

“I kept warning you. I pleaded to you and yet you still intend to have the future repeat itself.”

I didn’t respond and it seems Nabom took my silence as affirmation.

“I, numerous iterations of Ha Nabom, went through so much effort and we finally managed to succeed in gaining an opportunity to change the future.”

With her teeth clenched tight, she gripped the blanket in her hand.

“I wished to save Underclassman Ja Saeyeon, prevent Underclassman Jin Jaro from despairing, and not repeat the same mistakes.”

Gradually, anger and despair-filled tears started to gather.

“Was I that untrustworthy?”

Nabom spoke in an utterly feeble tone.

“In the end, could you not trust someone like me who’d constantly change their mind, lie, beat around the bush, and speak in a teasing tone?”

Her expression hurt me.

“Did you resonate more with the words of a robot than the words of your own daughter?”

It felt similar to the expression Nabom made in the past when she had a complete meltdown.

“Or, do you perhaps not want to get involved with a daughter who tries to seduce her own father?”

Those venomous eyes that were glaring at me saddened me.

“That’s right, I’m crazy as well. I’m not sane. Father complex, Electra complex, they’re all right. Still, regardless of all that, I believed that that would be better than seeing my mom die, seeing my dad despair because of my birth and becoming completely broken······!” 

“Either way, everything breaks anyway.”

I barely managed to utter those words.

Nabom snorted.

“What? Were you concerned about how the people around you would look at you? Do you still consider an existence that hasn’t been born and never will be, an existence that doesn’t exist and never has, as your daughter?”

Yeah. That’s a possibility.

If Saeyeon isn’t at my side and I choose to be with Ha Nabom, then Jin Jaim would never be born. Ha Nabom who’s established once Jin Jaim grows up will never come to be. In the end, could I call someone like that my daughter? She never existed and never will. She would simply be a girl who came from the future.

“It’s not like you never had that thought before.”

She gazed at me with sulky eyes as she continued.

“When you didn’t know my identity, you must’ve had that thought and considered the possibility that I was tempting you. You must’ve been imagining it.”

“No, I was······.”

“Dad you, you probably······!”

Nabom bit her lips and clenched her fists as she shouted.

“You probably kept thinking about touching my breasts⎯⎯!”

“······.”

I lamented the fact I couldn’t deny those words. I almost cried. There was nowhere else to look, so I gazed up at the ceiling instead of the sky.

But I couldn’t help it, you know? I didn’t know she was my daughter back then. Men are sad creatures. Universal gravitation must be blamed. It’s a law of nature. Honestly speaking, how could a man not be tempted when a girl with a body like that flirts with them constantly? How are they supposed to know that she’s their daughter?

I shook away these trivial thoughts and lowered my gaze back down on Nabom.

“You asked me something back when we had a drink together.”

Nabom looked like she was about to get upset because of my sudden change of topic, but she let out a deep breath before speaking.

“······Yes. I asked you whether you still wished to protect Miss Jin Jaim even while knowing that your desire to cherish your family may possibly have been fabricated by someone else.”

“I want to give you an answer.”

Nabom opened her mouth as if she were about to shout angrily at me, but she instead smirked.

“Let me guess. You don’t care if your feelings were created by someone else? It doesn’t matter?”

“That’s right.”

“······Just why⎯⎯!”

Just as Nabom couldn’t hold back any longer and shouted, I spoke smoothly.

“Regardless of all that, I still like these feelings.”

“⎯⎯······.”

Nabom’s shout that almost sounded like a scream slowly subsided.

I remained composed as I talked to her calmly.

“If it’s you, then you should know. You’re the future version of Jin Jaim, after all.”

“······What are you talking about?”

“How I was before then.”

I hated everything in the world. 

Including myself, I literally hated everything.

I hated families. Who cares about something that I couldn’t have? I wished everyone in the world would disappear. I wanted everyone who would laugh and talk to vanish. I didn’t need such lowly, untaught masses in my world.

I didn’t need anyone to cherish me since they might betray me again, since they might deceive me again. They might not need me in the future and decide to abandon me.

Despite this, I wanted everything.

I wanted people to need me, to stay by my side, think I’m amazing, and not abandon me.

“You should know how I was before Jin Jaim appeared, in other words, before these emotions were created inside of me.”

“······So what?”

“I actually hated how I was back then.”

This is obvious.

I was lonely, in pain, and kept shouting at everyone from a place that couldn’t be seen. I pleaded for others to look at me and love me. I begged for people to not ignore me and leave me behind. I wanted people to want me. I would always shout these things inaudibly.

The more I shouted, the more my heart dried up and cracked.

“But you, Jin Jaim appeared.”

And then something started.

Even if everything was simply moving like the cogs in a machine. It didn’t matter if everyone was moving according to the roles that had been assigned to us.

I gained something to cherish.

I gained someone who cherished me.

We fought and argued. We got frustrated, angry, and annoyed with each other, but I began to cherish them as well as we went through all this.

“Even if these things were only given to me to be taken away one day.”

If you were to put how I was before then and how I was after down next to each other, then you wouldn’t be able to compare the two.

The grape that I had disregarded because I believed it was too bitter turned out to be incredibly sweet. 

It was so sweet that when the things that I had never been able to experience until then were taken away from me, I despaired, lamented, and regretted tasting it.

That’s why I began to think. Maybe I shouldn’t have tasted it.

Maybe I shouldn’t have tasted this forbidden fruit from the very beginning.

However, that was wrong.

“You said it yourself. You said that if you were never born, then I would have never suffered, but that’s wrong.”

If Jin Jaim weren’t here, if she were never born, if she never appeared before me.

“If it weren’t for you, I would still be suffering.”

“······.”

“I don’t suffer because you’re born. I suffer if you aren’t born. I would simply be alone, forever.”

How does that compare to the current situation?

“Even if these emotions were fabricated, I like them.”

If anything, it’s to the point that I want to consider these emotions as a gift from you.

“I don’t want to lose this. I don’t want to throw this away.”

To think that something as sweet as this is going to be taken away from me. Something as valuable as this is going to be lost. I can’t imagine going back to a time before all this happened.

I was in pain. I know what happens when it’s taken away.

“I’m going to protect it. I won’t give up. I’ll keep fighting.”

If someone tries to take this away from me, then I’ll fight back to protect it no matter the cost.

“······I saw you fail with my own two eyes.”

Nabom said as she gazed at me.

“In the end, it’s taken from you and you’re filled with pain and regret.”

In a tone that sounded as if she wouldn’t relent.

“No matter how much effort you put in to struggle, you’re still going to lose.”

“It’s better than not fighting at all.”

And I also spoke in an unrelenting tone.

“Most importantly, you’re forgetting one thing.”

As I gazed at Nabom, I told her something which even I had forgotten.

“Even if my emotions are artificial, the emotions of the others that cherish me, Saeyeon, Jaim, you, and everyone else, these emotions aren’t fake. This I’m certain of.”

Saeyeon’s desire to stay at my side.

Jaim who despaired because she believed she was the source of my suffering.

Nabom who wished to make me happy even if it meant she couldn’t be with me.

The concern and support from Jihye, Nanda, and everyone else, they’re real.

“This is more than enough for me.”

“······.”

“You might not be able to change the future. The past can’t be changed either, after all. Nevertheless.”

I stared straight at Nabom and managed to smile.

“I⎯⎯⎯⎯can change.”

You might not be able to change the most fundamental parts. You can’t be reborn, after all. Nothing can be done about something that can’t be helped. If you could do something, then it wouldn’t be considered as something that can’t be helped.

However, if I don’t like it.

If my body and emotions won’t move as I want them to move.

If they break into sharp fragments and I feel as if I may stab someone.

I should be able to trim those parts. I should be able to attach things.

By colliding against others and receiving fragments from them, I’ll direct myself towards a direction that I want. To a me that I want.

If something I had created can change, then there’s no way that I can’t change either.

Nabom couldn’t say anything in response.

She simply looked at me with a tearful face.

“······Idiot.”

Nabom let out a sigh as she uttered that word.

“You really are an idiot, Dad.”

“I know. That’s why I failed to realize something so simple. I repeated the same mistakes and kept spinning around in place.”

Through numerous loops.

Through this past year.

“That’s why I’m going to try changing again. I’m going to do my best to change.”

I might make the same mistake again.

“I might despair, anguish, and lose hope again, but it’s okay.”

I just have to get up again like I am now.

“I have everyone here to help me back up.”

There are the things I was able to obtain thanks to these fabricated emotions which I couldn’t have overcome on my own.

Nabom unclenched her fists. She let out a relenting sigh.

“······It seems I’ve lost again.”

“No daughter can win against their dad.”

“It’s usually the other way around, you know?”

I was pleased to see Nabom smile wryly as she said those words.

“So, do you have a plan?”

“I don’t have a plan, but there’s something I’ve been thinking about. It’s about something I would do.”

“Something you would do······?”

I nodded.

“Yeah. It’s something that I would probably do if things turned out like this.”

It’s simple.

If, as Nabom had said, everything was truly devised by me, and everything was going according to my plan, then there were 2 possible outcomes.

The first possibility involves the matter when Nabom said that she finally managed to succeed this time.

Nabom said that making me realize everything that happens in the future was her goal, and, in that regard, she had succeeded.

But did Nabom really succeed?

Was the Ha Nabom before me truly the only one who managed to succeed out of who knows how many loops?

It could be possible. It could be impossible as well.

If I had gone along with Nabom’s plan and embraced her after having tossed everything else away, then this might have truly been the only opportunity to reach success.

But I didn’t. Things didn’t go that way.

Then I have to consider the chances of where I did.

There’s a chance that even this is a part of the scenario.

“I told you that science consists of 4 stages, right? Problem posing, observation, experimentation, and conclusion.”

I don’t want to doubt Nabom and Jihye; however, if it’s that guy, if it’s a guy like him who would stoop to such deeds, then there’s no way he wouldn’t doubt them. Sorry, no matter how much I change, my foundation is still built around having a lot of doubt.

“You did.”

Nabom still had a weird look on her face as she nodded.

“But someone who has broken away from those steps keeps interfering with my experiment. They’re acting as if they’re God and keep creating variables in order to get the result they want. As a scientist, I can’t forgive something like that.”

“······Wait a moment.”

Nabom opened her eyes wide.

“Don’t tell me, you’re······.”

“That’s right.”

I nodded, stared right at Nabom, and spoke.

“Take me to my future self.”

 

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“Jjaro⎯⎯! What are you doing? Hurry up!”

Saeyeon turned to look at me and shouted. I gave her a wave.

She’s way too energetic. How is she able to run around like that in this cold weather?

There’s practically no spot left on the field that Saeyeon hasn’t either stepped or lain down on. It isn’t a snowfield anymore at this point.

I looked up at the sky and let out a warm breath. It’s a large snowflake.

I was going to be leaving soon. Since it happened to snow, I decided to spend some time with Saeyeon since she gets excited like this whenever it snows.

The others were probably being considerate as Jaim, Nabom, and Jihye said they were going to stay at home.

I had a brief discussion with Nabom.

“The future might have already changed.”

She continued carefully in a worried tone.

“You’ve already changed a lot, after all. You’ve changed a lot during this time frame. You’ve changed so many things that it’d be hard for things to simply continue down the same road. So, the issue you’re worried about might not even happen, Dad.”

“That could definitely be possible.”

Everyone knows what’s going to happen in the future now. Even Nanda, who would have gotten into a fight with me in the future while not knowing the full picture, knows everything now. Even if Saeyeon were to die, I might not do something drastic like creating a robot substitute, creating Jihye. There’s a chance I might not create a time machine to repeat the loop and fall into despair. This time, I might come to understand Saeyeon’s sincerity, I could embrace the things Saeyeon leaves behind and resolve myself to······. The future might be different.

Even if I may be unable to protect everything, I might be able to protect whatever I have in my hands. I might be able to live while loving the precious daughter she leaves behind.

“But, the future is a mystery.”

Nabom’s eyes widened for a moment once I mustered the strength to utter those words.

“······I see. The future is a mystery.”

“Yeah.”

As Nabom slowly nodded with a wry smile on her lips, I nodded with her.

That’s right. There’s no way to know what’s waiting for us in the future. Things might have changed and things might have not changed. I might not be able to maintain my resolve till the very end. I might ultimately submit to despair again. If this doesn’t happen, then like what Nabom told me in the past, Jaim, Nabom, and Jihye’s future might try to change me.

Therefore, this is something that would be utterly dreadful to us.

Regardless······.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

In the end, it depends on how I take it.

I nodded once more and grinned.

“Also, Saeyeon is important to me no matter what.”

“······I’m not sure if I should be happy about that.”

“You should graduate from your father complex soon.”

I pulled on Nabom’s cheek as she smiled bitterly. It was a familiar sensation.

We don’t know how things will end up.

We don’t know if we can overcome this yet.

This isn’t the only thing we don’t know. It’s impossible to know how things will even remotely turn out. Whether or not that future will come and whether this concern of mine will actually become the trigger to start everything.

Nabom said one last thing before I closed the door as if it were her final concern.

“That, may also just be greed. Greed to obtain everything.”

That might definitely be true.

In the end, I might be displaying the same amount of greed because I’m not satisfied with what I have now.

It would be a lie if I said I wasn’t anxious.

Nevertheless, I’ve decided to fight.

I can’t give up on Jaim or Saeyeon.

I’ve decided to do whatever it takes. 

If it’s the head of the household’s job to protect the family, if it’s Jin Jaro’s job to protect Saeyeon and Jaim, then I’ll throw this single body into the fray.

I’ve never done something properly until now.

I have yet to do anything for the sake of protecting my family.

So this is the first. The beginning.

I looked at Saeyeon who was running around at the other side of the field.

Also, before I go, I have to say this one thing.

Something that I’ve never said before. Words that I’m much too embarrassed to say in front of others. Something that I’ve constantly darted around saying.

I took in a deep breath and shouted as loudly as I could.

“Ja Saeyeon⎯⎯!”

Saeyeon turned to look at me.

She tilted her head and blinked in confusion.

That expression made me let out a chuckle. I then brought my hands around my mouth and shouted so that Saeyeon could hear me.

“⎯⎯⎯⎯I like you!”

Once I shouted those words, Saeyeon giggled.

She copied my posture before shouting back at me.

“I know⎯⎯!”

All right, that’s good enough, then.

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TL Note: Thanks for reading the chapter. A relatively satisfying way for a volume to end. We still have an afterword and an intermission left before this volume is completely finished. It sure did take a while to reach this far. I’ll be finishing this volume before I go back to translating the DD WN. I’m going to have to consider whether I’ll do another Handholding volume after this or a Million Dollar Bill volume. I’ll see you guys somewhat soon.

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We Should Have Slept While Only Holding Hands, And Yet?!
Vol.4 Chapter 9