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    After a few minutes, there was silence and before Nam-woon could prepare himself, the door swung open. Nam-woon absentmindedly put his hand in his pocket as he saw Seo-oh’s face as he grabbed the doorknob. Three round tomatoes rolled around inside the pocket.

    Seo-oh said while looking at Nam-woon.

    “Come in and play.”

    As he entered, Se-han looked up at Nam-woon his eyes, nose, and both cheeks all red. His big eyes were still full of tears and he occasionally heaved sobs with mixed breaths. Anyone could see that he had been crying a lot but he seemed livelier than before.

    Nam-woon glanced back and forth between Seo-oh and Se-han. He didn’t know what it was about, but it seemed like the two had a serious conversation. Even if they were elementary school students or college students, brothers were brothers. They grow up fighting and getting along.

    Nam-woon shook his head inwardly and picked up the baseball player puzzle he had shown Se-han earlier. Se-han was still silent but he looked at Nam-woon with an expression like a little puppy wagging its tail. Nam-woon grumbled as if he wanted Se-han to hear him.

    “Oh no, I’m in trouble.”

    “……”

    “I can’t do this, sigh…”

    “…Why?”

    Se-han asked with wide eyes.

    “Why? Because it’s hard. The person at the shop who gave this to me said it’s a five-star difficulty. You know, I’m bad at puzzles.”

    Se-han’s eyes sparkled. The kid, even when playing baseball, has a competitive spirit. Just a little more and he’ll be persuaded. Not missing the opportunity, Nam-woon added,

    “Phew. It seems like only Se-han can solve this. What should I do?”

    “……”

    Se-han hesitated to reach out his hand, fidgeting, then slowly approached Nam-woon on his knees.

    “Let me see. I’ll tell you whether you can do it or not.”

    Nam-woon quickly handed the puzzle to Se-han. A small “wow” sound came from Se-han’s round lips. His eyes sparkled as he looked at the puzzle picture. Nam-woon tore open the packaging of the puzzle that Se-han was holding.

    “Oh!”

    Se-han shouted in surprise. Nam-woon told Se-han,

    “Se-han, try to do this quickly. I can’t do it.”

    Se-han, who was excited, picked up a piece and soon began to concentrate.

    “Where does this go?”

    As Nam-woon held a puzzle piece and spoke, Se-han snatched the piece and placed it in the right spot with a snap. Then, suddenly he looked at Nam-woon’s face and pointed to his forehead.

    “But why is it like that on your forehead, Hyung?”

    “Oh, this?”

    Hmm. Nam-woon pointed to his forehead, which was covered in a thick gauze and pondered what mischief to play. Then he felt the gaze of a sturdy man looking at him with eyes blazing. Nam-woon quickly answered,

    “I fell off my bike.”

    “Heok.”

    Se-han’s eyes widened in surprise, and he took a deep breath as if shocked, then asked,

    “Does it hurt?”

    “Like death.”

    As Nam-woon grimaced, Se-han also scrunched up his face and stood up abruptly.

    “We have ointment for this at home!”

    Then he ran to the shelf where Seo-oh had taken out the first-aid kit and stretched out his short arms. He tried to stand on tiptoes but the box was too high, and he couldn’t reach it. Se-han looked at Seo-oh and slightly stamped his feet.

    “Hyung…”

    Seo-oh was about to say that he had already applied the ointment, but changed his mind at Se-han’s anxious face and handed over the medicine box. Se-han opened the box, squeezed some ointment, and then extended his little finger in front of Seo-oh’s face.

    “Hyung, I’ll apply to you first!’

    At those words, Seo-oh smiled warmly as if he were going to melt and slightly leaned his face forward. Se-han, concentrating with his lips puckered like a beak, began to apply the ointment around his brother’s mouth. Seo-oh was almost eating the ointment as Se-han’s clumsy touch landed on top of the ointment Nam-woon had already applied.

    Next, Se-han bounced over to Nam-woon.

    “If I put this. It will make it better!”

    “Really? I can’t apply it myself. My hand hurts too.”

    Nam-woon shook his hands and acted spoiled. Next to him, Seo-oh chuckled. Se-han, unable to stay still at Nam-woon’s words, shouted,

    “I’ll apply it for you!”

    But Kwon Seo-oh had already changed the cotton and bandage earlier. Moreover, he didn’t want to show Se-han the bloody wound. Se-han would probably faint if he saw it. Nam-woon pointed to his forehead.

    “Then apply it on top of the cotton.”

    “On the cotton?”

    Se-han looked puzzled. Nam-woon shamelessly answered,

    “Yes. It hurts too much if I take this off, so just apply it on top of the cotton to absorb it.”

    “…Okay!”

    Anyone could tell it was nonsense, but Se-han trustingly replied as if to say, Leave it to me.

    Wow. Whose younger brother is he? So pretty and kind. Nam-woon grabbed Se-han’s cheeks with both hands and squeezed them, making Se-han’s plump lips pout.

    “Eububu!”

    “Se-han, you look like a carp when I do that. A carp.”

    Se-han, with his lips gathered asked back,

    “Carp? Am I a carp?”

    After Nam-woon let go of his chubby cheeks, Se-han finally began to treat not Nam-woon’s wound but the cotton. Nam-woon continued to groan as if in pain and upon hearing that, Se-han made a sad face prompting Seo-oh who was nearby to call out to Nam-woon.

    “Hyung.”

    “……”

    It was a call to stop pretending. In that quiet and gentle voice, Nam-woon thanked Se-han saying he already felt much better and Se-han with a bright face, resumed the puzzle that they had left unfinished earlier.

    After perfectly fitting the last piece, Se-han asked in a clear voice,

    “Hyung, will you also sleep well next to Wooni Hyung tonight?”

    The faces of Seo-oh and Nam-woon hardened at the same time.

    Unaware of their reaction, Se-han pulled over the shopping bag that Nam-woon had brought and he took out a cake picture puzzle.

    “Last time, Hyung had Wooni Hyung, so can I have him this time?”

    “….!”

    “Se-han!”

    “Huh?”

    Seo-oh hugged Se-han’s head tightly as he made a confused expression.

    “Don’t say such things.”

    “What things?”

    Nam-woon stood by with his mouth open. The phrase ‘had’ had startled him a bit, but Se-han was just young and innocent. Se-han asked Seo-oh again, as if seeking permission,

    “So, can I sleep next to Wooni Hyung tonight?”

    “I will never sleep next to that person, so it’s fine as long as it’s not too close.”

    “Yay! Wooni Hyung, then tonight sleep on my Andol bear!”

    There were only two pillows at home. Se-han pulled out a small teddy bear, about the size of his forearm, from beside the plastic drawer. Nam-woon accepted it while watching Seo-oh’s reaction.

    After handing over the teddy bear pillow, Se-han tore open the packaging of the cake puzzle. Unlike before when his hands were cautious, his hands were unhesitating.

    ***

    But why is this person still at our house?

    It had already been four days.

    Today, Seo-oh looked at Nam-woon with a stern face as he ate his meal slowly. Nam-woon had naturally taken a seat on Seo-oh’s floor heating system. It was unbelievable. But today, something about the atmosphere was off. Thud. Se-han put down his spoon on the dining table. Seo-oh asked,

    “Se-han, why aren’t you eating more?”

    “I’m done eating.”

    “Why did you leave so much food? Eat a little more.”

    That’s when it happened. Thud.

    “I’m done eating too.”

    Nam-woon, who usually scraped every grain of rice, also put down his spoon with an unusual expression.

    “Suit yourself.”

    Whether Nam-woon ate a basketful of rice or just a spoonful was none of Seo-oh’s business. At a glance, Nam-woon’s rice bowl was already empty.

    Was the taste off? Seo-oh tried some kimchi stir-fry that was near Nam-woon. The side dish was still deliciously salty.

    Especially today, those two were acting strange. They weren’t discussing what the rare item in the Kinder chocolate toy was, nor were they chatting and sharing their limited knowledge of baseball as usual. There was no talk, and their expressions were somehow off.

    Nam-woon suddenly stood up after looking at the wall clock in the living room, which he received as a free gift.

    “I have something to do, so I’m leaving.”

    “Do as you please.”

    Seo-oh responded nonchalantly and Nam-woon immediately left the room. It didn’t bother him at all. However, Seo-oh found himself unconsciously following Nam-woon’s retreating figure with his eyes.

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