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turning point

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THERE WAS A MOMENT IN his life where Ha Jinsung had wanted to become a father. That was centuries ago, when the woman he loved ─and still do─ was still alive and well, laughing and smiling with him as they discussed the future they wanted to have together. Time is something overlooked when you are in the Tower. As long as you don't throw yourself into any life threatening situations, you might as well have a chance at living forever. They used to think that too. They were two naive young lovers who were so blinded by their love for each other until the point they were ignorant to the danger that lurked in the shadows, just waiting for the time to ruin their happiness. And when the time did come, when the love of his life became lost, so does the dreams they had for each other.

So when someone had contacted him ─with such urgency that he just couldn't ignore─ for them to meet and an old woman suddenly passed an infant into his arms while claiming the baby is his when they did, Ha Jinsung thought life is messing with him. Jinsung thinks the world is punishing him for all the sins be had committed in the past. No one can truly outrun karma, he knows that but Jinsung has always been lucky. He's a High Ranker, he has the power to live freely despite all the horrible deed he had done. Unfortunately, looks like he has finally lost the race against it.

He doesn't even remember the name of the child's mother ─Sana? Saya? Sa-something? he doesn't even want to dig into his brain any longer for a name of someone who is insignificant to him─ in fact, he doesn't even remember a single name of all the one night stands he had throughout the thousands of years of his life. Jinsung is ashamed to admit he has done the deed despite still being in love with someone else far too many times to count, but he's practically immortal and other than causing mayhem or training new recruits of FUG or smoking, he basically has nothing else to do and he needs to do something because Ha Jinsung isn't the type of man that can sit quietly so easily. So he meets up with women that linger in the Middle Area ─all greedy for something─ a few times a year or two.

During those times, he never really thought of the consequences because there has never been one. A one night stand is just that, you meet for only one night, never to see or contact each other again. He doesn't think about the chances of getting a woman pregnant because that is in no way his intention. So for it to actually happen, it's probably the world's way of slapping him with reality of how reckless he truly is. With his affiliation with FUG and his status as a criminal to the 10 Great Families, he is in no position to raise a child, nor does he want one.

Jinsung did try to persuade the old woman to return the baby to her mother ─he believes a kid is better off with a maternal figure─ but she shook her head and stubbornly pushed the infant back into his arms. "The mother is gone!" She told him, irritated as if talking about the woman left a bitter taste in her mouth. "The fool ran off because she doesn't know how to take responsibilities for her actions! Again!"

"And you think I do?!" He had shot back indignantly, face in pure disbelieve. It turned sour when she started laughing at him as if his words were the funniest thing in the world.

"You're Ha Jinsung. You're thousands years old. I'm sure a baby is nothing you can't handle."

But it is. Jinsung has no experience in handling babies. Even back then when he was still the treasured grandson of Ha Yurin, when he was still the Ha Family's precious boy, Jinsung never involved himself in anything that had to do with the newest generation of their family. When he discussed about having a family with his lover, he only had the courage to think about having a child of his own because he knew she would be there with him, that they would do it together, that he wouldn't be alone. However right now, he is alone. Ha Jinsung is already over five-thousand years old and he is utterly and miserably alone with a baby he knows nothing about.

So the best option he concludes the best thing for his child ─his child, it's his child! Even after days of having her to himself, he still refuses to believe it─ is to give her away.

"Oh yes! Because it's so much better for a child to grow up without either of her parents!"

Jinsung sighs, walking around as he tries his best to shush the crying baby in his hold. He ignores the presence of a toddler who stares at him with curiosity in his wide sapphire eyes ─he already has one child to focus on, he doesn't need to add another on the list─ and instead, places his attention on the only other adult in the room. Khun Eperia is perhaps the only person in the Tower he can count on to care for the baby without trying to kill her as a way to get back at him ─not that he would care if that happens..... right?─ despite the bad blood between them.

Eperia looks at him from her seat, arms crossed and eyes narrowed at his moving figure. She sees how the constant crying is starting to annoy him ─how did he even survive the few days before coming to her place if it's this easy for the baby to annoy him?─ but she does nothing to help him. The man deserves it for even having the idea of handing the child into someone else's care. And in this case, it's hers.

"I have my hands full, Jinsung," Eperia tells him, her frown quickly turning into a grin when the toddler who was so immersed with Jinsung's presence trots towards her. She lifts him up and places him onto her lap, handing him a toy in attempt to distract the boy before turning on her grim expression again towards the fussing man. "Surely you can fit child care into your schedule if you had time to go around meeting new women before."

"Do you think this is funny?" He questions her incredulously, clearly unhappy with her lack of assistance.

"Of course not!" The woman denies quickly, scoffing in annoyance. "I pity that child! Even before you two enter my home, she hasn't stop crying even once!" Eperia motions her hands towards the wailing baby. "Please tell me this hadn't been going on for the past few days since you got her!"

Jinsung shakes his head. "No. For a baby, she is surprisingly calm. She started being like this since this morning."

"Ah..." Eperia sends him a crooked smile. "I guess she can sense that her father is planning on sending her away to a complete stranger," she mockingly claps her hands, the toddler on her lap joining in while laughing adorably. "Congratulations."

"Eperia..." the man sighs pathetically. He continues to bounce the baby in his arms despite knowing it'd do nothing to stop the crying. Jinsung stares at her, his face is stern but within his deep brown eyes, she can see he is silently pleading for his help. He almost looks vulnerable, almost. Eperia has seen him completely vulnerable only once, and she was only allowed to see him that way because he was too hammered by the amount of alcohol he had consumed that fateful day to chase her away.

Not wanting to see a repeat of that day, Eperia tells the toddler on her lap to play in the toy room at the end of the hall ─to which he immediately complies to─ before standing up and making her way towards the pleading man. She takes the crying baby from him silently, not bothering to spare him a glance. The second she is taken away from his hold, Jinsung falls onto the nearest couch, sighing in relief as he lies down with his eyes closed.

Eperia hums a soft tune as she carries the baby around. Unlike Jinsung she is used to this. She is currently raising a child on her own ─a relative, she isn't sure how she is actually related to the little boy she cares for but she knows for certain that he is indeed of Khun blood─ and back when she was still living in the Khun Family's Floating Palace, Eperia sometimes even skipped her study sessions to spend time looking after the babies of the main line.

She gently pats the baby's back, her delicate head placed on her shoulder. The cries slowly quiet down until nothing but only soft breathing can be heard from the infant in her hold. Finally asleep. Eperia breathes a sigh of relief, rubbing the back of the baby's head comfortingly. The air within the room becomes peaceful once the baby falls into slumber. Eperia has stopped her humming and instead, chooses to walk around in circles. As she does so, her eyes never leave Jinsung's tired figure.

Jinsung doesn't need to open his eyes to know that she is staring at him. He can feel the heat of her gaze ─how ironic considering she is famous for her coldness─ drilling holes at his face, or perhaps, his entire being. He doesn't blame her. She can curse and attempt to kill him if she wants to and he won't be mad at her for it because he deserves it. She owes him nothing. If anything, it's him who owes her favours and yet here he is, asking for something else out of her. And this time, it's to care for a kid. The audacity ─he knows. But he trusts her. Ha Jinsung trusts Khun Eperia despite everything that exist between their families and themselves. He trusts she will see reason and do the right thing.

"Don't you think this is a chance for you, Jinsung?" Eperia asks him, finally cutting the serene yet tense silence between them.

The man opens his eyes. He looks towards the woman as she remains to stand while patting the baby's back gently. Their eyes meet and Jinsung quickly looks away, knowing very well how persuasive she can get if he continues to look into her piercing stare. He contemplates the question before closing his eyes again. "Chance for what?"

"For a peaceful life."

No reply comes from him after her statement. Jinsung stays silent, his mind processing her words. A peaceful life. That seems like a faraway dream for someone like him ─top 100 High Ranker in the Tower, criminal of the Zahard Empire and FUG martial arts instructor─ and it really is. He chuckles bitterly, sitting up and giving her a faint smile. "Not everyone can live peacefully after becoming a High Ranker like you," he tells her honestly. "And one can't just leave FUG once you join it," the man subtly glances at the sleeping infant before looking down. "No matter what the reason is."

Epreia hums, taking in the information. She has known him long enough to know despite him not being someone who likes to parade around and announce his affiliation with FUG, he's still proud of it. At least, she thinks that way. So to see him talking about FUG with a hint of regret in his voice certainly shocks her. After all, the only reason they met in the first place was because the man was so confident she would fit right in within the organisation to which she denies wholeheartedly until this very day. Eperia is well aware of FUG's image within the Tower and from what she knows of them, she's sure as hell she wouldn't fit in. Because unlike Jinsung who seems to give up over everything other than his wish for revenge ─which Eperia is unsure whether it's still there─ she still has hope for a better life. And to her, a better life means children.

Which is why here is now, living in a humble abode ─a great contrast of her old style of living─ raising an orphaned child by herself.

Looking at Jinsung, she thinks ─she knows─ he wants that too. Perhaps after thousand of years of hatred, he has finally grown tired. Maybe he finally wanted to just rest until the end of their seemingly immortal lives in peace without any disturbance. Maybe he does want his daughter, to care for her and nurture her to his best capabilities because Eperia is certain there's a chance this child can give him the light he needs in this life. However, like he says, not everyone can live in serenity after becoming a High Ranker and no one can escape the life of an active FUG member so easily.

"I'll take her in," Eperia finally gives in. "But with a price."

"Name it," Jinsung doesn't hesitate to speak out, relief flows through his veins when he hears her acceptance on taking the child in. "I'm willing pay you for whatever amount you want. Heck, I would even help pay for the boy if I have to."

"I want you to be involved, Jinsung," the woman tells him seriously, not caring about his promises for money. She has enough of those, she can easily care for two children financial wise. The man quickly shuts his mouth at her sudden request and Eperia takes it as her chance to continue before he can give her excuses. "She is your daughter. By accident or not, a one night stand or not, she will always be your daughter. This baby is your flesh and blood, Ha Jinsung and I will have you to treat her as such."


"Once a year," she cuts him off, exasperated. "At least once a year. I'm not asking for every day. Heck, I don't think I even need to ask this from you in the first place but I know you would stay away for the rest of her life if I don't do anything about it."

Jinsung seals his lips shut, he has no words to counter her statement because every single thing she has spoken is true. They are so true that Jinsung feels like slapping himself for having someone else reminding him of the weight of the situation. The child is his. She is his daughter, his responsibility. It's a duty he was supposed to have with a woman who doesn't even bother to remember her name, who chose to abandon her child, like he is doing now. This child is his and he'll be damned if he doesn't step up and he knows Eperia will bring more than just a snowstorm to his doorstep. But what can he do?

So he just nods, silently agreeing with her conditions and she smiles. He returns it, but his lips are trembling because he doesn't mean it.

The child is his, she is his, he keeps repeating this over and over again inside his head as he watches the woman coos at her in adoration. She is his responsibility that means he is the one who knows what's best for her. He knows what's good for his daughter. He knows what he needs to do for─

"What's her name?" Eperia inquires as she finally takes a seat on the couch directly in front of the man. She looks over at his blinking face, curiosity swimming within her sapphire eyes as she waits. However, when the stillness between them continues, she knows very well what it means. "Ha Jinsung!"

"I don't have time to think about names!" Jinsung defends himself pitifully. He really didn't though. All the days he had spent with his child alone was filled him trying to convince himself that everything around him is real. He only notice the fact he had left the baby nameless now.

Eperia rolls her eyes at his lousy excuse. She later hands the baby over to him before walking towards the exit of the room. "Well you can do that now before leaving," she advises him. "I'm going to inform Eloy about him getting a little sister," she explains briefly and finally leave the man alone with the sleeping baby.

Jinsung sighs when she finally leaves. He sets his eyes at the infant in his arms and he just realises that this is the first time he actually look at her, at her puffy cheeks, her dark messy hair. He moves his finger gently at the side of her face, watching her tiny face scrunch up, threatening to open her eyes but in the end she falls back into peaceful slumber. He finally sees the appeal of having a baby and chuckles lowly. So small. So adorable. So precious.

"Hyejin," he whispers, kissing the crown of her head softly. He closes his eyes tightly at the thought of the future that is waiting for them, waiting for her. "Ha Hyejin."