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    Late in the evening, only the rustling sound of the bedding was heard. Nam-woon thought more than a dozen times about going to the office to sleep while laying out the blanket. However, seeing Seo-oh bring in the freshly laundered pillow cover from the clothesline in the yard changed his mind.

    It would have been strange to just leave because Se-han wasn’t there. Although they weren’t on the best of terms, it wasn’t a big deal for two men to spend the night together.

    Seo-oh stuffed the pillow into the cover. The pattern on the pillow was familiar. Nam-woon remembered the floral handkerchief that Jang-mi had given him when he had hurt his forehead.

    “This is a very famous brand sold only in department stores.”

    When Nam-woon stared at the pillow, Seo-oh said,

    “The lady at the bedding store recommended it because it’s a famous brand. I bought mine and Se-han’s there too.”

    Looking closely at the label attached to the edge of the pillow, the letters were slightly different from Jang-mi’s handkerchief. Seo-oh, who had neatly arranged the pillow, sat on the blanket and looked up at Nam-woon. His black eyes, unusually docile today, seemed to ask, ‘Aren’t you lying down?’

    There were three pillows on the blanket, all with the same pattern but different colors. Seo-oh’s was blue, Se-han’s was yellow, and Nam-woon’s was pink. Se-han’s perhaps for children, was adorably small compared to Nam-woon and Seo-oh’s. Nam-woon felt awkward standing and scratched his head.

    Ah, something… Why is it so embarrassing? I’m going crazy.

    Nam-woon reminded himself again. It’s just for one night that he has to sleep with Kwon Seo-oh. After that, Se-han will be back.

    “…Turning off the lights.”

    With a click, Nam-woon turned off the light switch and the room darkened instantly. Nam-woon covered himself with the blanket and laid down next to Seo-oh. The room was quiet and only the sound of crickets chirping was heard from the outside. Strangely, saliva kept pooling in his mouth and he wanted to swallow but he was too self-conscious to make even a swallowing sound next to him.

    I really don’t think I’ll be able to sleep tonight.

    With that thought, Nam-woon closed his eyes.

    ***

    Almost 3 seconds after Nam-woon lay down, a steady snoring sound was heard. Seo-oh, who had been lying down with his eyes closed in a straight posture, quietly lifted his eyelids. Then he slowly turned his body towards where Nam-woon was.

    The cool blue light of the night coming through the window highlighted Nam-woon’s facial contours. The straight forehead, the straight nose, and the lips that particularly caught his eye today were clearly visible even in the dark room.

    “…….”

    The image of him seen during the day came to mind again. Seo-oh quietly watched his side profile for a while and then closed his eyes. He felt a warmth rising in his body. It was a sleepless night.

    ***

    Rustle. Nam-woon tossed and turned in bed.

    “Ha….”

    Hmm. Nam-woon, who was slightly awake, scratched his throat. Strange noises had been coming from somewhere earlier.

    “Ugh…”

    It sounded like someone was groaning. Nam-woon frowned in his half-asleep state. What’s that? Is it coming from outside? After closing his eyes for a while, Nam-woon suddenly realized that the sound was coming from right beside him and snapped his eyes open.

    “Ah…”

    “…Seo-oh?”

    As Nam-woon raised his upper body and looked down at Seo-oh, even in the darkness, Seo-oh’s usually neat eyebrows were furrowed deeply.

    “What’s wrong?”

    Nam-woon realized that Seo-oh’s condition was serious and turned on the light in the room. Seo-oh was breathing heavily and his face showed he was in pain.

    “Seo-oh, why are you like this?”

    As Nam-woon placed his hand on Seo-oh’s shoulder, he could feel the heat radiating from his body even through his clothes. But as soon as Nam-woon’s hand touched him, Seo-oh twisted his body and groaned. Alarmed by his abnormal reaction, Nam-woon quickly withdrew his hand.

    This is bad. He must be in a lot of pain. Nam-woon frantically searched the blanket for his phone.

    “What’s the emergency number again? 1-1-9?”

    That’s when it happened.

    [Emergency!]

    Yes. It’s an emergency, so why did you come out? The system emitted flashes of light into the air. Urgent messages came one after the other.

    [Alpha’s rut has occurred!]

    “Rut? What’s that?”

    [It’s the alpha’s estrus period.]

    As Nam-woon read the words, he was left speechless. Come to think of it, this novel did include some animal-like settings. Nam-woon widened his eyes in disbelief as he looked down at the suffering Seo-oh.

    So… You’re telling me Seo-oh is in heat right now?

    “This is insane.”

    When you think of estrus, there’s usually one activity that comes to mind but that’s impossible now. Nam-woon urgently raised his head. At this moment, he could only rely on the system.

    “What should I do to help him?”

    [Solution 1: Intense XXX with your partner.]

    (※ Caution: One time might not be enough.)

    Nam-woon grimaced. While the XXX part might be expected during a rut, the disclaimer in parentheses was entirely unnecessary.

    “Ugh….”

    “S-Seo-oh.”

    Seo-oh was in even more pain as he turned his head from side to side. Nam-woon had no choice but to shout at him.

    “Do you have a partner?”

    It seemed like the wrong thing to ask in the current situation, but it was the most logical one. However, Seo-oh didn’t seem to understand or respond to the question. Nam-woon realized that Seo-oh had yet to meet the main character. Of course, he wouldn’t have a partner or anything like that.

    “Is there any other solution besides that?”

    [Solution 2: Take suppressants.]

    (※ Caution: The effectiveness of suppressants varies from person to person.)

    “Seo-oh, where did you put your suppressants?”

    “Ugh….”

    Nam-woon left Seo-oh who couldn’t answer, began searching through the first aid kit and the surroundings he had seen before. But he couldn’t find any suppressants, there were only a lot of children’s cold medicine and fever reducers.

    [There are no suppressants here.]

    It was of no use. He would have to find a nearby pharmacy. As Nam-woon reached for his phone, the system suddenly turned into a navigation tool.

    [There are no pharmacies within a 6km radius.]

    Seriously? It was just like a regular map app.

    As usual, there was no choice but to call 119. But just as Nam-woon was about to make the call, the system threw a strange question at him.

    [Do you intend to strip Seo-oh of his social dignity?]

    “What kind of question is that?”

    Nam-woon, who sensed something strange, scrutinized Seo-oh closely and in an instant, he understood why the system had made such a remark. Seo-oh’s center of gravity stood up. Nam-woon was unable to say anything for a moment. Impressive, quite, no, extremely… Just by looking at it, it was clear that its outline was remarkable.

    Then, the system presented another option.

    [Solution 3: Stabilization through pheromones.]

    “Pheromones? How am I supposed to do that?”

    [It’s possible for Seok Nam-woon! Because there’s the system!]

    As if telling him to trust only the system, it dazzled with flashy lights. Nam-woon squinted his eyes against the dazzling light.

    [Solution 1, Solution 2, Solution 3.]

    The options flooded Nam-woon’s vision. There was no need to hesitate. Since it was possible, Nam-woon attempted to touch “Solution 3” but as always, before he could press it, the system automatically moved to the next step.

    [You have chosen Solution 3]

    [… In progress….]

    Ding!

    [??? Gauge: 70%]

    [One-sided effect]

    ??? Gauge? Nam-woon’s eyes widened at the unfamiliar content. Beside the gauge, he had no idea what a “one-sided effect” meant.

    Nam-woon held his breath and checked on Seo-oh, who continued to moan and struggle. He looked back at Seo-oh in his pitiful state and urgently asked,

    “What’s going to happen?”

    [Seok Nam-woon’s preparations are complete. Now, all that’s left is to act.]

    “Hurry up! Can’t you see that person is running out of breath?”

    Along with Nam-woon’s yelling, the minefield he had seen before appeared. It was a spinning wheel.

    The wheel was spinning rapidly as usual from the moment it appeared. Nam-woon, who had no time to think about it, desperately shouted,

    “Stop, stop!”

    The spinning wheel slowed abruptly. Gasp! Nam-woon saw it. The English letters “SM.” Perhaps his vision had improved from practicing baseball with Se-han, as they were particularly clear to him.

    As the roulette wheel slowed down, SM began to move toward the center again. Last time, it was about playing with the main characters in the novel, but this time, the target had even changed.

    [Engage in SM play with the person closest to you.]

    Nam-woon clasped his hands tightly together. Please, just this once… Next to the SM option was a large black text that read “No indirect methods.” He didn’t know what it meant, but it looked much more normal than the SM play.

    Fortunately, the arrow gradually moved toward the no indirect methods side. Just before the roulette wheel stopped, Nam-woon checked all the remaining letters in that box and was astonished.

    [Congratulations!]

    If the words “No indirect methods” were 100pt, then the text below was so small that it couldn’t have been more than 5 pt. Reading it, Nam-woon felt like he was losing his mind.

    [No indirect methods – Exchange saliva with Kwon Seo-oh]

    [Congratulations! You have won!]

    Damn it. The world hates me.

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