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    Nam-woon was seen quietly picking up Se-han’s baseball bat that was left in the yard while walking out. Seo-oh’s expression darkened in an instant. He suspected that Nam-woon was sneaking away with the bat to beat someone up or to destroy some store’s property.


    Seo-oh muttered under his breath.

    A little while later, Se-han also quietly got up.

    “Hyung, I’m going to school and will be back.”

    “Okay, go and come back.”

    But Se-han was about to leave without wearing his taekwondo uniform. Seo-oh hurriedly took out the uniform from the wardrobe drawer.

    “Se-han, you need to wear your uniform.”

    “Ohh, I’ll take it and wear it there.”

    Se-han answered, rolling his eyes, clearly hiding something.

    “Kwon Se-han, you—“

    “I’ll be back soon, Hyung!”


    Before Seo-oh could finish his sentence, Se-han ran out the gate with his small feet. The sound of the gate being pushed open with force filled the yard.

    Something was definitely suspicious about those two.

    Seo-oh quickly cleared the table and headed outside the gate. He stood at the gate and looked down the hill but the two of them had already disappeared. Not even an ant could be seen in the alley.

    It was true that Nam-woon had improved compared to before. But that didn’t mean Seo-oh fully trusted him. In the past, Nam-woon often threatened Se-han. In fact, he had taken Se-han to the office before.

    The image of Nam-woon holding a baseball bat and the innocent face of Se-han came to mind. Something isn’t right. Anxious, Seo-oh started down the slope. As he went down, he saw Nam-woon and Se-han standing at the entrance of the alley, muttering something. It must have been a prearranged plan between the two.

    Nam-woon, with a more serious expression than ever, said,

    “Hit it.”


    Hit it? Seo-oh’s face darkened with a bad premonition. Nam-woon added,



    Se-han answered with flushed cheeks. What is this guy trying to make him do? Seo-oh stepped out of the alley.

    “Don’t dodge…”

    “Yes! Wooni Hyung, you don’t need to say anymore!”

    Se-han cut off Nam-woon’s repeated words, a little annoyed. Looking at their expressions, it seemed that Nam-woon was more nervous than Se-han.

    The place they were heading to was a playground and mini-sports field attached to an apartment. Although it was called a mini sports field, it was quite large, and the artificial turf made it convenient for young children to use.

    Se-han had initially visited that place a few times, but Seo-oh warned him not to go. He had heard that there was talk in the apartment complex about not allowing children who were not residents to use the playground.

    But today, Se-han skipped taekwondo and secretly stopped by the playground that Seo-oh had warned him not to visit. It was the moment that he understood why Se-han had been acting suspiciously.

    Then, from the opposite side of the playground, a group of kids walked towards where Se-han was. All of them were holding a baseball bat in their hands.

    For a moment, Seo-oh thought the young kids were going to fight but then he corrected his thinking. Oh, they must be going to play baseball. With gang office operator Seok Nam-woon involved, every scene seemed tainted.

    But why is Seok Nam-woon there?

    The biggest and tallest boy in the group shouted,

    “Kwon Se-han! Are you here?!”

    “Uh, yes.”

    As Se-han hugged the bat and answered, the big boy threw a sharp look at Nam-woon and said,

    “Please check the score carefully.”

    Then a boy with glasses bowed politely to Nam-woon.

    “Thank you very much.”

    The boy with glasses had been a prodigy who had to play both player and referee due to the absence of a referee. On such an important day, playing against another elementary school, he was very relieved to have someone to take over his role.

    Seo-oh sat on a bench at the entrance of the open space, far from where they were. The children gathered in a circle, talked to each other, and then scattered with a cheer. Se-han’s baseball game had begun.


    The game had reached its midpoint and Se-han finally stood at the batter’s box. Sitting on a bench right behind the kids, Nam-woon slightly bounced in his seat. Even from a distance, Seo-oh could tell that Se-han was very nervous.

    The pitcher threw the ball to Se-han and as always, Se-han swung the bat with his eyes tightly closed as the ball approached.


    The ball Se-han hit wasn’t a home run, of course, but it flew low across the air. The unexpected direction caused the opposing kids to panic momentarily. Meanwhile, Se-han ran and safely reached first base.

    Se-han turned his head to look at Nam-woon. The child was smiling brightly.

    Before long, the game reached its climax. Se-han came home and the game ended with Se-han’s team winning by a narrow margin. Se-han was excited with a face as red as a tomato and ran towards Nam-woon, who then picked him up in a hug.


    Seo-oh straightened up from leaning back in his seat as he watched.

    It was strange. Until recently, seeing Nam-woon and Se-han enjoying themselves made Seo-oh feel oddly isolated. And it pained him to think that Se-han was losing his smile by his side.

    But now…

    Right after a nap, Nam-woon’s hair was all over the place from eating and then going straight out. Bright sunlight settled over his disheveled hair. He was hugging Se-han and smiling brightly.

    I’ve never seen him smile like that.

    Nam-woon’s eyes curled into crescent moons, and his neat teeth were exposed. The corners of his mouth lifted, it was a refreshing sight to those who saw him. Even though Seo-oh thought he looked like a real fool, he found it hard to take his eyes off that face.

    Thump thump.

    Something in his chest fluttered strangely. It felt like his heartbeat was echoing inside. For some reason, his throat tickled. He couldn’t understand why he felt this way. Because they were too far apart, Nam-woon’s laughter didn’t carry well. For the first time, Seo-oh felt a pang of regret that he couldn’t hear his laughter.


    “What’s all this?”

    “Wash your hands and come.”

    When Nam-woon arrived home, his eyes widened. It was a feast. Usually, it was just seaweed and kimchi but today, for some reason bulgogi side dishes were on the table.

    Moreover, today was the day Se-han was away. Like kids, they had become fast friends after the baseball game and decided to have a victory celebration or something, so they were going to spend the night at the house of the boy with glasses.

    Thud, Seo-oh placed a bowl of rice in front of Nam-woon. Steam rose from the heaping bowl of rice. Nam-woon put some bulgogi in his mouth and looked at Seo-oh sitting opposite him. Seo-oh’s rice bowl was empty, apparently already finished eating.

    Why isn’t he getting up after finishing his meal?

    Of course, when Se-han was there, Seo-oh would wait until his younger brother finished eating, but now Se-han wasn’t there, and besides.

    “Se-han must have had dinner by now, right?”


    There was no conversation between them. What’s with him, really? It didn’t seem like his mind was elsewhere because he was staring intently at Nam-woon. Eventually, Nam-woon put down his chopsticks and asked.

    “Kwon Seo-oh, what’s with you today?”


    “I mean, you’ve been silent since earlier,”

    “I never used to talk to you anyway.”

    “Oh, right?”

    Nam-woon paused for a moment, then said anyway, and Kwon Seo-oh replied.

    “I’m just a bit tired.”

    “Is that so? Then let’s go to bed early tonight.”

    At Kwon Seo’s words of being tired, Nam-woon suddenly felt a pang of pity. It made sense for him to be tired. He was always studying and working. Oh, but then… Nam-woon suddenly widens his eyes.

    I have to sleep with Kwon Seo-oh tonight, right?

    It felt a bit awkward. And Seo-oh might be in a bad mood about it. Glancing at him, Seo-oh seemed unfazed. But Nam-woon didn’t know what he might be thinking inside. Thinking about it, he felt like he had been at this house for too long. Suddenly feeling a sense of shame, Nam-woon quietly spoke up.

    “Hey, I’ll just go today.”

    At those words, Seo-oh’s expressionless brow furrowed slightly.

    “Where to.”

    “I’ll go to the office and then home.”

    Nam-woon added, belatedly that he would go home. It was obvious that he would find it strange to know that he only slept in the office. But Seo-oh said nothing. As his silence grew longer, Nam-woon spoke first.

    “I’ve been at your house too long without any shame.”


    What’s with him, really. Nam-woon just shoved the rice into his mouth, thinking to eat quickly and get up.

    Then Seo-oh suddenly said,

    “Stay and sleep.”

    Nam-woon, with his cheeks puffed out from the rice, looked at Seo-oh. Then Seo-oh suddenly avoided Nam-woon’s gaze and lowered his head.

    “Today, I went to the market and bought a pillow for Hyung.”

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