Chapter 1 - The Search for the Mystery Omega
When he opened his eyes, he was alone.
‘I really wasn’t myself last night. I guess I was drunker than I thought,’ was the first thought that came across his mind. He didn’t think he would wake up to such a shabby room.
Heerak sat in the bed blankly and laughed hollowly. An old-fashioned matchbox. A tissue wrapper with the phone number of an on-call masseuse, in large numbers. As he looked at the things on the nightstand, his hollow laugh grew. The only items he could recognize were his watch, car keys, and wallet.
He wanted to take a quick shower but changed his mind as soon as he took one look inside the bathroom. Instead, Heerak reached out for his clothes, hung neatly on old hangers. Throughout this all, he could not help but laugh out loud at this strange tingling sensation and absurdness of the situation. He didn’t even know how his clothes got here. He clearly was not in the state of mind to hang up his clothes neatly on hangers, so it was obvious that this was the work of the other person.
He wondered who that person was.
Just thinking about it made his head ache.
The bathroom that made him want to scream in horror, his neatly hung clothes, and the omega whose identity was a mystery. He could not think about it any longer. He only woke up thanks to a call from the front, informing him that it was near checkout time. In any case, he needed to leave this place.
Heerak received one useful piece of information at the front desk. A man helped his dead-drunk self and booked a room to pass the night. He asked about the man’s appearance and clothing, but the only thing the employee could say with a quizzical voice was, “Well… he was just, very normal, I think?”
‘Then could you check the security camera footage?’
Heerak barely managed to swallow that question back. His face was quite well-known. He needed to be careful of what he said. What if he asked to check surveillance footage just to confirm who the person who helped him was? Anyone would find that suspicious. And of course, the employee would not have shown the footage so easily either.
Heerak stepped outside and stared into the void for a while.
It was bright outside.
The light poured in, blinding his eyes.
The room he came out of had thick curtains, blocking the light. He could not tell whether it was night or day, and now that he was outside, the brilliant sunlight was shining down on the streets. He felt somewhat bewildered.
He finally wondered what time it was and checked his phone. It was 1:35 in the afternoon.
While he had his phone out, he decided to put in a call. He pressed the ‘2’ button for a few seconds and the name “Seokchan Min” popped up.
“Executive Director? What’s the matter…? Did something happen?”
The phone barely rang twice before the other side picked up. The person on the other end sounded shocked and urgent.
Seokchan Min was Heerak’s right-hand man. After hearing his secretary’s voice hundreds of times, he had never felt so relieved as he was today. He did not think there would come a day that he was so relieved to hear his secretary that he would be shaking.
His sense of reality that was missing since dawn seemed to slowly come back. He couldn’t stop the laughter that came out. He kept thinking, ‘Was it a dream? Was I just dreaming?’ all this while, so he couldn’t help but laugh as he slowly came back to reality.
“Director, by any chance…”
Seokchan groaned audibly.
Today was Saturday.
His boss wouldn’t have called him on the weekend just to laugh if this wasn’t urgent. Something was off.
“Have you been drinking?”
“Although alcohol did cause a problem,” Heerak added quietly, which made the man on the other side let out a deep sigh. Seokchan said he would go to him immediately, and Heerak agreed to it. He wanted to grab someone and tell them about his experience last night and everything that happened afterward.
Heerak got into his car, the most noticeable vehicle in the motel’s parking garage. He realized that his stomach did not feel so good. Now that he was back to reality, he felt a headache and hunger coming on. Heerak opened the messaging app on his phone. He texted his secretary, telling him to pick up something to cure his hangover on the way, and then started his car.
Seokchan always exceeded his expectations.
He brought a packaged bowl of jjamppong, a dish that Heerak usually enjoyed eating as a hangover cure. It was also the dish that Heerak brought to mind while sinking his body into his favorite sofa after taking a nice shower.
The hangover cure drinks that his secretary bought also alleviated some of the remnants of the last night’s drinking. After waiting patiently for Heerak to finish eating, Seokchan opened his mouth.
As soon as he put a cigarette between his lips, Seokchan naturally took out his Zippo lighter. As his secretary lit up his cigarette, Heerak narrowed his eyes.
“I thought about it while I was in the shower, but I really can’t recall anything.”
“You can start with what you remember.”
At his secretary’s persuasion, Heerak combed through his memories once more.
His group of friends got dead drunk at “Hodie,” one of many businesses that Heerak ran as the executive director. Hodie had around 20 private rooms of various sizes and operated on appointment only.
At first, he simply thought this would be a convenient business to have, but before he knew it, it grew successful by word of mouth. Those who wished to discuss secretive things in privacy visited frequently.
The room where Heerak and his friends drank was in Hodie’s largest room. His friends were sensitive to the public eye, but that day, they could drink to their heart’s content and chatter on like excited children in this enclosed room. He couldn’t remember how many bottles of alcohol they drank altogether.
He remembered that he and his friends laughed at another friend, who said he was still recovering from jet lag and smashed his head face-first into the table. Soon, his friends started to pass out, dropping like flies. Not long after, his friends disappeared from the table, one by one. Each was dragged out by their entourage or employees.
Heerak had grasped onto his thread of consciousness to the end and managed to ask the manager to call a chauffeur. The alcohol made him feel a bit sick. He wanted to breathe in some fresh air.
People other than his friends did not need to see his uncollected self. The dizziness made him wobble, but he could still walk. He could also pass his car keys to the manager, coherently telling them that he would be sitting on the bench outside and to send the chauffeur over there.
While Heerak said in a roundabout way that he pretended to be tough in front of his employees, Seokchan’s face grew darker. And then, he said in an equally dark tone, “What do you mean, chauffeur. That wouldn’t look good for your image. You should have called me.”
“I thought about it, but I remembered it was the weekend. I thought you deserved some rest,” Heerak said in a playful tone, and Seokchan sighed.
“Don’t tell me you blacked out at that point?”
“Yeah. I remember up to the point where I fell asleep in the backseat of the car. I was leaning on someone’s shoulder. The next time I woke up, I was in the middle of having s*x. And then I remember waking up in a motel room, for the first time in my life.”
“I see that the most important parts are missing.”
“That’s what I’m saying.”
After a moment of thinking, Seokchan opened his mouth.
“I’ll ask Manager Moon first, then find out who the chauffeur was from the chauffeur company. Once we find that person, we might be able to hear the description of who lent you their shoulder.”
“No, there’s no point in asking. The only description you’d get is that he was an average-looking guy.”
“You already asked around?”
“I asked the front desk staff at the motel on my way out. I almost asked if I could check their security footage.”
“Security cameras. That’s it.”
“You could check Hodie’s surveillance footage.”
Heerak’s eyes gleamed. He finally felt the uncomfortable feeling in his chest lessen.
“Now that I think about it, I didn’t hear your reasons. Why do you need to find that man?”
“I think I really enjoyed embracing him. He was a unique omega. The memory shaking my hips until I lost consciousness is still fresh on my mind.”
Seokchan smiled bitterly. Heerak smiled along with him.
“I see. And?”
“I didn’t wear a condom.”
Seokchan’s face hardened. Just as Heerak said, alcohol did indeed “cause a problem.”
“Then you really must find him.”
He wanted to avoid the situation where an omega would demand Heerak to take responsibility for his pregnancy. It was hard for him to imagine that omega, who was happy just from holding hands, with a pregnant belly and shamelessly demanding responsibility from Heerak. However, people were unpredictable and fearsome, so he could not easily overlook this.
* * *
Saturday was a battle between the sleepiness that came after the hangover. Sunday, as always, was used for recharging his strength for the week. He emptied his brain and spent the day as if he were one with his bed.
And then Monday came around.
To start with the conclusion, it was a failure.
They checked the CCTV footage from around Hodie. Heerak found the clip that he wanted but the omega’s face did not appear, so it was a failure. The camera was too far. However, he could extrapolate what had happened from the footage.
In the video, Heerak leaned his head back onto the backrest of the bench. He was pretty sure he fell asleep like that. A few minutes later, someone approached him. He knew immediately that the person in the footage was the omega he was looking for.
The omega appeared to try to talk to Heerak. Although it wasn’t the season to say something along the lines of “You’ll freeze to death if you fall asleep here,” a conscientious person would not have been able to walk past someone who was passed out.
How could someone show concern for a drunkard in this dangerous day and age? He must be either extremely kind or a bit of an idiot.
“He must have picked me up on his way.”
“This isn’t the time to be joking.”
The voice seemed to rouse Heerak, as he sat up slowly. Suddenly, he grabbed the omega’s wrist. The two people in the footage were conversing, then got into the back seat of the car that arrived not long after. The car quickly disappeared from view. That was the end.
“That was 1:00 a.m. There are only a limited number of people who would be around the front of Hodie at that hour of the day. I think we could find him easily. If we need to, we can check all the surveillance footage from inside Hodie.”
“Do we really need to? He’s clearly not a customer, at least. Just look at what he’s wearing.”
Heerak could understand why the motel staff called the person average-looking. Jeans and a t-shirt. He was dressed in a truly average fashion, attire that half the people on the streets would be wearing. Unless he had an exceptionally striking appearance or unless he was a celebrity, one would no doubt call him average.
“That’s true. Then…”
Seokchan trailed off and smiled vaguely. Heerak felt like he knew what his secretary was thinking.
Maybe he works at Hodie.
Although Heerak was the executive director, the operation and management of the business were under complete control of the manager. Heerak had only seen a fraction of the employees. Also, Heerak did not spend much time there. The people he was familiar with were the manager and the lobby staff in charge of appointments and entry.
“Let Manager Moon know.”
Staff Notice: The Executive Director is looking for the person who helped him into his car on Saturday, around 1:00 a.m. He is desperately searching for him, so if that person is an employee of ours, we sincerely hope they can step forward.