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Picked Up In Winter - Chapter 12

Published at 28th of July 2018 06:51:42 PM

Chapter 12

Picked Up In Winter <12>


It was winter vacation . The weather had become colder . It was so cold when I went out that my face even stung . Even though we were indoors, cold wind was coming through the window and no matter how warm the floor was, sitting near the window was enough to make our hands and feet feel cold .

As a result, we were all bundled up with blankets in front of the sofa in the living room with the television . Everyone was on vacation, so they were all home at such an early hour . The cold was so deadly that no one dared to go out . Everyone was home apart from the father, who was the only one who had to go to work .
Leaning against the sofa, I could see Jun Hyung’s legs next to me . Jun Hyung was sitting alone on the sofa, apparently not even feeling cold . Without being covered in blankets, he was watching television expressionlessly and had already eaten half of the tangerine he was holding in his one of his hands . The guy’s ordinary appearance looked very awkward .

“Patrasche, do you also want tangerine?”

Min Hyung, who soon had become more attached to me than to Dae Hyung, was stuck to me while playing with Patrasche . Dae Hyung, who now no longer hated me, sat next to him under the blankets as well . Slightly away from the sofa sat Jun Hyung’s older sister . Their mother seemed to be preparing lunch in the kitchen at the moment .

“Come on, that’s dirty…… . Don’t spill, eat carefully . ”

Min Hyung, who actually had spilled a lot of tangerine juice on the clothes around his neck himself, was scolding Patrasche . This amusing sight caused me to giggle . Min Hyung smiled brightly as he wiped the area around Patrasche’s mouth with his own sticky hands .

“Yes, good girl . You did well . ”

…… He definitely was the youngest here . He was really cute . Having come to adore Min Hyung who followed me well, I pretended to watch TV while observing that sight . Min Hyung was lying down under the blanket and only his face could be seen . He was playing with Patrasche with both his hands and seeing this image I thought it would probably have felt like this if I had a younger sibling . ……

“Then, I’ll give you a kiss as a reward . ”

Min Hyung grabbed Patrasche under her legs and pulled her towards him, gently pressing their lips together . Patrasche whined as if it was bothersome, but he did not seem to care at all .

“Min Hyung, touch her after washing your hands . Patrasche has tangerine juice all over her fur . ”

At Seon Hyung-nuna’s words, Min Hyung whined and rolled around like Patrasche did just a moment ago . Ultimately, he reluctantly got up after kicking his foot that was tangled in the blanket .

“Happy…… . ”

…… But why was he calling me?
That pitiful stare eventually also forced me to get out of the warm blanket . I grabbed Min Hyung’s sticky hand and went to the bathroom . When I made bubbles with the milk-scented soap and washed his hands thoroughly, Min Hyung smiled brightly . Because he was cute, I swept his hair and holding hands, we returned to the living room . When I wanted to quickly slip under the blanket because I missed its warmth, Min Hyung suddenly caught hold of my hand .

“……?”

What did he want…?
When I looked down at him with curiosity, Min Hyung signaled for me to come closer to him with one hand .  I bent down while wondering what he wanted to do and my neck was grabbed all of sudden . Then, the lovely lips slightly touched mine .

“Happy, too . It’s a reward . ”
“…… . ”

Then he made a “smack” sound so loud it was embarrassing and turned away . I was so flustered by the unfamiliar physical contact that I froze in my position . I had never lived closely together with strangers . I hadn’t even been physically affectionate with own my mother before . As I stood there looking dazed due to the unfamiliarity and awkwardness of touching lips, a girl’s flustered voice sounded from behind .

“Min Hyung, you can’t just kiss Happy!”

It was Seon Hyung-nuna .

“Why? Happy is clean . Isn’t he cleaner than Patrasche?”
“No, it’s not because of that……”
“I’ll give Happy a reward, so you don’t need to . ”

Someone spoke in a gruff voice and cut off her flustered voice . When I turned around,  wanting to know whose voice it was, Jun Hyung was looking this way with an expressionless face . But what did that guy just say? What will he give me himself?

“Come here, Happy . ”

He spoke and held out his hand toward me . With that, my embarrassment doubled . What is that guy thinking right now? He won’t do something like Min Hyung just did to me, right? Crazy . I already knew he was crazy, but I didn’t realize it was this bad . While I was taken aback, Min Hyung stood below me and glared at Seon Hyung-nuna and Jun Hyung with a dissatisfied expression .

“Why not? It’s not like Happy hates it . Right, Happy?!!”
“…… . ”
“Happy, answer quickly~ Okay? Do you hate me kissing you?”
“…………… No . ”
“See!!!!!!”

Hearing the triumphant shout of Min Hyung, Seon Hyung-nuna sighed at a loss for words . Then she sent me a look asking ‘Are you okay?’ to which I gave an awkward smile . Because I just wasn’t used to it, I didn’t hate it . Seeing us like that, Jun Hyung showed a petulant expression unbefitting his age .


“I picked up Happy, don’t touch him as you please . ”
“What?! I don’t care since Happy likes me more than you (big hyung)!!”
“…… Do you want to get hit?”
“Eeek!! Nuna!!!!”

At Jun Hyung’s threat, Min Hyung ran towards his older sister in a mad rush . It seemed like experience told him that Dae Hyung was of no help at all . Strangely, Jun Hyung behaved obediently in front Seon Hyung-nuna, so Min Hyung who was now in her arms was certainly safe .
But how was this a conversation between a 17-year-old and a 6-year-old…… . When I continued standing there with unexplainable feelings, Jun Hyung who didn’t let go of his anger yet called me .

“Happy, come here . Sit next to me . ”

I don’t want to because the sofa is cold…… .
As I hesitated, he stared at me with sparkling eyes . I went to sit next to Jun Hyung without a choice . I was afraid he would make a fuss about giving me a reward, but fortunately, Jun Hyung only gave me the tangerines he held in his hand .

“…… . ”

It doesn’t taste good…… .
When he saw me frowning heavily, Jun Hyung broke into laughter like he was having fun . After I munched on the food and barely swallowed it, Jun Hyung suddenly outstretched his hand .

“?!”
“Huh?”

I dodged sideways in an involuntarily shudder . I got reminded of the reward he was talking about just before . It seemed like Jun Hyung only wanted to stroke my head because when I avoided him, his eyes grew in size and he looked surprised . Then he put down his hand that ambiguously stopped mid-air .

“See . I told you that Happy doesn’t like him . ”
“Min Hyung . Don’t keep doing that do Jun Hyung . ”
“He picked a fight with me first . ”
“Alright, you’re so great… . ”

I could feel Jun Hyung’s eyes on me but I did not have the heart to look at him . I felt unspeakable embarrassment thinking that I simply jumped to conclusions by myself . Eventually, an awkward atmosphere spread between us . Jun Hyung sat quietly on the sofa without showing any signs of movement, but the pressure was actually worse than him getting angry . I was uncomfortable enough to forget the cold .
After a while, their mother called us to eat and taking advantage of the disturbance, I secretly looked at Jun Hyung .
Jun Hyung was quietly looking down at the hand he had stretched out towards me .

 

 

Was he shocked?
I wondered when I saw Jun Hyung still exuding an awkward atmosphere during meal time . Jun Hyung was eating Soybean Paste Soup with Dried Radish Leaves, which were served as a side dish, in silence . As he usually didn’t say much, it was possible that people could not tell whether he was in a bad mood or not . But somehow, I knew he was feeling hurt right now . This made me incredibly uncomfortable .
I didn’t deliberately avoid it . No, above all I didn’t avoid it because I hated it like Min Hyung said .

“Soon it will be Christmas . What are you going to do this year?”
“I have plans with my girlfriend . ”
“What girlfriend at your age!”

Seeing Dae Hyung answer his mother’s question as soon as the words left her mouth, Seon Hyung-nuna found his behaviour impudent . Dae Hyung took a piece of kimchi with his chopsticks and grinned .

“Nuna, you shouldn’t take it out on me that you’re single . ”
“Why should I take it out on you? I’m single by choice . ”
“That’s what everyone says . ”
“Do you want to die!”

…… I feel like I can somehow understand the fight structure of this family . I thought as I watched Seon Hyung-nuna’s rough quarrel with Dae Hyung . Even in the middle of this, Jun Hyung was silently eating until his mother asked him .

“What about you, Jun Hyung? You don’t have a girlfriend?”
“…… . ”
“…? Are you upset about something, Jun Hyung?”
“He is being hated by Happy . ”
“Huh?”


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Min Hyung, who was sitting on her lap during the meal, blurted out . This remark made Jun Hyung’s mother turn to me with a questioning look . Because of that, I felt like the rice I had barely chewed and swallowed was going to make its way back up .

“No, I……”

I tried to make an excuse, looking from Jun Hyung to his mother in urgency . But once Jun Hyung’s mother saw my condition, she gave me a sweet smile and answered Min Hyung .

“Min Hyung, what makes you think that Happy hates him? From my perspective, Happy likes Jun Hyung the most?”
“…… . ”

The spoon Jun Hyung held in his hand stopped mid-air .

“But when big hyung tried to touch him earlier, he avoided it . ”
“I guess Happy is very shy . ”
“But he was still when I touched him?”
“That’s because you’re small, Min Hyung . ”
“What’s with that… . ”

Min Hyung sulkily complained like he was not convinced . But their mother simply smiled when she saw this .

“Cough, cough!”

I eventually choked on the rice I had swallowed feeling uncomfortable . When I started coughing wildly, the quarrel at the table was temporarily stopped . In the midst of everyone hurriedly making a fuss, the fastest to get up and bring water was Jun Hyung .

“Are you okay?”

Jun Hyung asked worriedly and held out the water to me . I took the cup and gulped it down . I felt much better . He stood still in place as if wanting to hear my answer so I awkwardly nodded . When I reacted, his face immediately brightened . Then Jun Hyung reached out his hand as if testing and stroked my head .

“…… . ”

…… Even though you didn’t say anything just a moment ago as if you were upset .
Seeing Jun Hyung smile again like he felt relieved, I was a little dumbfounded . However, at the same time, it seemed that my extremely tensed up heart finally calmed down as well . The sight of his smiling face made me feel better .

“……?”

Huh?
I couldn’t help but tilt my head at the somehow extremely unfamiliar feeling . An emotion that seemed to be almost discernible but also vague and strange . At the same time, there was a feeling of fondness to it .
…… What could it be?
This train of thoughts didn’t go on for much longer because something that made me realize what exactly this emotion was, happened that night .

 

 

“Happy, can you come here for a second?”

It was late at night .
I went back to Jun Hyung’s room to go to sleep . Knowing that I couldn’t get a good sleep every day since Jun Hyung’s bed was small, the parents of the family got me a bunk bed . At first, I had felt uncomfortable about it and hadn’t known what to do, but now I was quite used to it, when it was time to sleep, I climbed up the ladder and fell asleep . Even after getting the bunk bed, Jun Hyung sometimes called me when he couldn’t sleep . So it wasn’t something unusual for him to call me after I went up to my bed .

“……?”
“Come here for a second . ”

That day it was before I climbed up to my bed . Jun Hyung who was sitting on his own bed called me when I was about to go up . What is it, you don’t want to sleep alone again? Although he was 17 years old, his mental age was similar to Min Hyung . And the way he treated me also wasn’t any different from Min Hyung . Even though it hadn’t been long, I realized this during the time we spent together so afterward I didn’t think it was that strange to sleep together . However, I couldn’t help feeling slightly awkward .

“Do you perhaps know how to attach a button? It fell off and it seems like everyone is asleep…… . ”
“…… . ”

I know how to do it but…… . I couldn’t answer him for a moment and stared at him blankly in wonder .
It was not even outside, why would he want me to sew on a missing button now? Nothing big would happen even if he just went to sleep like this . He could at least change into a different outfit and sleep .
I wondered but I couldn’t refuse him when he even brought a sewing set from somewhere and held it out .


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“Here you go . ”
“…… . ”

Jun Hyung pointed at his chest . It was the spot the second or third button from the top originally was supposed to be . I thought he would take off his clothes so I stood still and waited, but Jun Hyung only stared blankly at me as if he didn’t have the slightest intention of taking them off .

“Why aren’t you sewing it on?”
“……… the clothes……”
“What?”
“…… . ”

Don’t tell me he wants me to attach it in this position?

“Happy?”
“…… . ”

It looks like it .
In the most awkward manner, I held the button and a needle with a thread close to his shirt . And to get a better look at the hole in the button, I bend my head towards his chest .

“…… . ”

I could feel his prickling gaze on my forehead during the time I in which I attached the button . With not much distance between us, the gaze felt overwhelmingly strong . Is he watching me right now? Or is he looking at my hand attaching the button? Strangely, my heart was racing and my face burning . I tried to concentrate and put all my attention on attaching the button .

“Happy…… . ”

He suddenly called me in a tender voice that resembled a whisper . His soft breath touched just above my forehead . My body unconsciously flinched and started trembling .

“Do you like Min Hyung more than me?”
“…… . ”

Now it’s almost attached! All that’s left is a knot!
…… in the midst of being overcome with joy by myself, I heard his words and was so dumbfounded I almost pricked him with the needle . I managed to barely stop my hand and immediately tied a knot . And when I lifted my face to look for scissors, I couldn’t help but make eye contact with him, who was staring at me with a look of absolute seriousness .

“…… . ”

He’s a child .
A child .

Facing his eyes, I mumbled to myself several times .
This guy is a child . No matter his outward appearance, there is no doubt about his inside . A child no different from Min Hyung . His mental age is exactly at that level .
It was a very childish question . Who do you like better? Even comparing himself with his 6-year-old younger sibling . It wasn’t a question a 17-year-old high school student would ask . Even if it bothered them, saying it out loud was already considered shameful at that age . Therefore a normal person would be unable to ask such a question with such a serious face . It would be impossible to look at me with such an anxious expression .
That’s why this guy was a young child . Somehow, only his brain had stopped maturing at a certain age .
I tried to convince myself like this . I tried to ignore the question, thinking it wasn’t worth answering .
But, in spite of that……
My heart was pounding like crazy . Flustered by the guy’s question, I was about to answer on the same childlike level ‘No, it’s not like that……’ .
What is happening to me?
The way he stared at me made me was unbearably uncomfortable .

“…… Of course, I like Min Hyung . ”
“…… . ”

“But I like you in a different sense . ”
“……?”

In a different sense? What sense?
I was even more surprised by the words that came out of my mouth . I stood there with my eyes wide open and unable to move as if l was literally hit in the back of my head . However, Jun Hyung only made a questioning face, not understanding what I meant by my words .

“A different sense…?”
“…… . ”
“… Hmm . ”

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“…… . ”

He seemed to be thinking about what I meant for a while . Maybe he noticed? It’s an emotion even I didn’t know though . It’s an emotion I’m not sure about even after saying it with my own mouth . No, it was just a slip of the tongue . I panicked because he put pressure on me with his eyes and it just popped out . It definitely wasn’t what I meant .

“Anyway, does that mean you like me the best?”

Not thinking about it that long, Jun Hyung raised his head and asked without hesitation . He was still wearing an innocent expression .
…… so he didn’t notice .
Right, isn’t it natural? This guy is a young child .
With a relieved sigh, I let go of the clothes that my hand held . And I tried to get away from him .

“-?!”

However, I couldn’t get away . No, rather, I lost my balance and my upper body completely leaned in his direction . It was because he was grabbing my forearm and pulling me towards himself .
The moment I realized I lost my balance, I could see his pupils flash across . His pupils were deep black . Somewhat feverish, but infinitely kind…… At the same time of thinking this, I shut my eyes tightly and soon felt a warm touch on my lips . The instant I realized what feeling it was, my mind went blank in shock .

“!!!”

In between the touching lips, a warm tongue escaped . It touched my lips slowly and a little playfully while nudging them from time to time before it soon went away .

“…… . ”

The shock left me speechless . I didn’t even have the strength to seriously ponder about what just happened . I simply looked at Jun Hyung who was slowly backing away with eyes wide open, as if I was bewitched . What was that, just now…? What did he just do to me? Facing my shocked eyes, he grinned .

“It’s a reward . ”
“?!”
“The button, because you attached it . ”
“…… . ”

Reward?!! Reward you say?!!!
Only then did I remember what happened this morning . The incident where Min Hyung said <Reward> and then lightly put his lips on mine came to mind . So, it had the same meaning just now? It was an action no different from the one back then?
The words spoken by Jun Hyung confused me even more . I was at a loss of what to do due to shock and Jun Hyung got up from his bed . I unconsciously flinched and avoided him but he didn’t really seem to care and pulled the cord turning the lamp off .

“Let’s call it a night, Happy . ”
“…… . ”

…… It seemed like I was the only one confused .

 

 

After that, I couldn’t relax even after climbing to my bed above . With my blanket over my head, I tried to fall asleep to no avail . The more I tried, the clearer my head became . What just happened, the touch from a while ago, it was so vivid .
It was too deep to call it just a peck, but you couldn’t really call it a kiss either .
The guy merely gave me a <reward> for attaching the button .
I suddenly became so upset that I almost felt tears welling up in my eyes . Rolling my body up, I glued myself against the wall . The wind coming through the window felt unusually chilly .

‘But I like you in a different sense . ’

No matter how I look at it, those words must have been from the bottom of my heart…… .
…… But what should I call this?
A pet who has come to love his master?
Ha,
that’s not even funny .
I unknowingly burst into laughter, but what came out of my mouth sounded more like a sigh . And the voice was accompanied by a little sob .
In the end, on that day, I was unable to fall asleep till the day brightened .

 

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