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Picked Up In Winter - Chapter 18

Published at 18th of September 2018 12:00:55 PM

Chapter 18

Picked Up in Winter <18>


Even after the Christmas passed, it was still busy at the end of the year . Of course, depending on the people, there are differences and exceptions, but generally, it’s the same . And more so for people who are constantly going around somewhere, at least that’s how it should be .

But I have always been one of the ‘exceptions’, and that hasn’t changed this year too .  December 31st . Today was the last day of the year, yet I still got up quite late and sat down in front of the sofa . It was quiet in the house . Since it was the end of the year, everyone has been out of the house already . It goes without saying for this house’s office worker, his father, but it seemed even his mother had agreed to have a year-end party with her fellow teacher colleagues . Seon Hyung-nuna, of course, left early, faithful to her college life and Dae Hyung also left, saying he had made an appointment with his friends . Though Min Hyung and Jun Hyung were left at home, for some reason it was still quiet in the house . From the bathroom came the sounds of running water, it seemed like Jun Hyung was taking a bath . Min Hyung was probably taking a nap in his room .

I turned on the TV to soothe my boredom . On the TV, last night’s cable drama was being broadcasted .

 

“…… . ”

 

I put my attention on the TV, concentrating more on the visual and auditory aspects than the storyline . On the screen, one man and a woman were looking sadly at each other and crying, in the background a sentimental music was being played . I was looking at the screen blankly when suddenly I heard the sound of the door rattling open .

My eyes were still glued to the screen while I focused on the sounds coming from behind . Finally, after a few rustles of hair being rubbed by a towel, I heard footsteps coming towards me . Ah, he’s right behind me─when I thought so, he put his arm over my shoulder .

 

“…… . ”

 

As if I didn’t hear him before, I turned towards him . When he leaned his face towards me, the smell of shampoo wafted from his wet hair . And when our eyes met, he grinned .

 

“Did you sleep well?”

“…… . ”

 

I stared at him silently and nodded in assent . Contrary to the unusually composed behaviour, the temperature of my body was faithful to the feelings . Feeling the temperature rising rapidly, I turned awkwardly and watched the TV again . Unbearable… I mumbled inside my head numerous times .

 

“What are you watching?”

 

Probably thinking I was into the TV program, Jun Hyung muttered that, crossed the sofa and flopped down next to me . I guess it was a hassle to come around it . The sofa swayed for a moment under the weight of Jun Hyung, and similarly, a small wave rose inside my heart .

 

“Hmm, what……? Drama?”

“…… . ”

 

I couldn’t find stability due to his unperturbed voice . The moment he sat down next to me, my heartbeat became even faster . I was pretending to watch the TV with the same calm face as he, but in fact, there was a turmoil raging inside my heart .

 

“Yes . ”


 

My voice was still calm . No different from the usual . But inside I kept shouting ‘What to do’, unable to calm down, thoughts tangled into a mess .

 

“Is this fun?”

“…… . ”

 

He asked as if he couldn’t understand . But in truth, I didn’t really care about the drama that was on then, so I had nothing to answer . Of course, I didn’t mean to be honest, but answering ‘yup’ was a little… I couldn’t help but choose to answer ambiguously .

 

“Just…… . ”

“Hmmm . ”

 

He turned back to the TV without any particular comment on my vague answer . But my heart had to once again tremble at that little noise .
─That low and deep, yet somehow tender voice .

Especially, when he talked with me, with that really affectionate tone of voice, I really loved it . I wish he would keep on mumbling forever . Though I did think so, Jun Hyung after ‘Hmm’ didn’t say anything more, and just had his eyes fixed at the TV with his mouth closed . His profile at a glance seems to say ‘how is this worth seeing…’, a frown between his eyebrows . It looked as if he was carefully observing the program and trying to find the fun in it .

Suddenly, a phrase I read in a book hit me . It said that as the human beings grow they ripen(mature)…… . The line I had read mechanically without thinking about it, was suddenly in my head . I see, I understood that line now .

At some point I felt ‘Oh, I like this guy’, but that didn’t mean that I started liking him from that point onward . The beginning was ambiguous . I couldn’t set it a certain point in time . It suddenly struck me that I had already started liking him . I simply just realized it at that time . Maybe, from the first time I have seen him─I could conclude, but there was something missing to say so…… .

It gradually accumulated, and as soon as I realized it…… It seemed as if it broke down the shell which contained it, and flowed out . After hearing Jun Hyung’s story of when he was little, I had no intention of realizing it, but the force of the emotions that started to flow was already so strong that after that kiss on Christmas I couldn’t stop it anymore . I had no idea what to do with those overflowing feelings and had a tough time hiding it .

My heart ached .
I also felt like I then understood the saying of liking someone so much to the point that it became painful . Suddenly falling into the sweet delusion of, maybe this guy likes me too… then calling me ‘Happy’ in that voice and returning me to reality . Falling from heaven to hell dozens of times a day . No, Happy meant something special to him . I must certainly be a special existence to him… I consoled myself like that, but when I thought about the time I first met him, I fell into despair again . Why did he name me ‘Happy’ when he saw me? Without any special meaning, didn’t he know that he had just picked up a human? So after naming me Happy, aren’t I just an afterimage of that dog… .

The name that I started to care about had managed to keep me captive . I started to doubt him, who was kind to me…… And, if this were affection towards ‘Kang Hagil’ rather than ‘Happy’, how great it would be… I had started to dream .

Don’t call me Happy . That’s not my name . Call <me> . My real name .

The emotions that were hard to conceal only came near to surface when he came near . I was at a loss of what to do but pretended to look unruffled . And behaving like that was all I could do at that moment .

 

“Shall we eat soon……?”

 

Suddenly he muttered again . That voice made me, who was absorbed in his thoughts, return to reality .

 

“Okay . ”

 


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It was a real relief . My voice was still composed . At that fact, I glanced at him once again relieved . Jun Hyung at some point had turned his gaze away from the TV and was looking at me .

 

“……?”

 

Without saying anything he kept looking at me . My heart sank again while strange thoughts kept pouring in . Could he have noticed…? Was there a subtle tremble in my voice? As I was falling into a great confusion with such thoughts, he slowly reached out with his right hand . The gaze he looked at me with was so profound that it made my heart pound . What… what are you doing? Don’t tell me…? He slowly reached for my cheek and continued to come closer, the moment he touched my hair, I trembled . And at the same time, his lips slowly opened .

 

“Haha, Happy . You’ve a hair stuck out of your head . ”

“…… . ”

 

…… I blanked .

 

“Let’s go to eat, then . ”

 

Mumbling that, he slowly raised himself . After being stared at for a long time, his earlobe seemed redder than usual, I thought . But for me who was feeling down, I couldn’t afford to think about it deeply . It was no different from when I was watching the TV screen earlier . It was just another scene in my eyes .

I slowly got up and entered the bathroom . As soon as I closed the door carefully, my knees had lost their strength and I flopped down to the floor . I buried my face in my legs and tried my best to cool down .

…… Did I just mistake what he was going to do?

I got up again quickly and went to the sink . My face became numb as I kept washing my face in cold water to get my senses back . I looked into the mirror before me and stood there as cold water droplets ran down through my flustered expression .

…… Oh?

Then I suddenly realized that there wasn’t any place with any noticeable dishevelled hair . For a moment I checked the part where he had touched, but I thought… ‘Where it was so bad enough to laugh at?’ I tilted my face, a little in doubt, then stopped that thought and to prevent catching a cold, I turned on the hot water to wash my hair .

 

 

 

When I came out after washing my hair, Jun Hyung had already set the table . However, it wasn’t as if Jun Hyung made it all himself, he only took out a food that others’ prepared before leaving . The high-school student, Jun Hyung, had yet to prepare his own meals .

 

“Min Hyung?”

“Sleeping . ”

“I’ll wake him up . ”

“…… . ”


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He looked at me with disapproval for a moment, but I didn’t care and turned around then entered the bedroom . Min Hyung was on one side of the room covered in blankets, sleeping while hugging Patrasche tightly .

 

“Min Hyung . Wake up . ”

 

When I gently shook Min Hyung from his sleep, his eyes struggled to open . Min Hyung rubbed his dopey eyes with his small hands, widening his eyes in surprise at the sudden sound of a sneeze . It appeared that Patrasche sneezed .

 

“This little…… . ”

 

Min Hyung looked at the Patrasche in his hands, smiled and lightly patted her head . Then followed me into the living room .

 

 

 

 

At night, each channel was airing a program for the end of the year .  Gayo Daesang1, Drama Awards…… . I was on the sofa while Jun Hyung sat on the floor, the two of us were watching the TV together, with no special conversation between us . However, just sitting together in the same place can help your feelings to grow . Since nothing new had happened when we’ve been together .

I always felt relaxed and excited at the same time whenever he was next to me .

 

“We’ve been broadcasting this year…… . ”

 

The sounds of the TV passed through my ears . The image on the screen was quite blurred . It just irritated my eyes……I slyly glanced at the wall clock . In a while, it’d be 12 o’clock . We were impatiently waiting for the year to end and for the midnight bell2 to ring .

Jun Hyung opened the food brought from the convenience store and was drinking a can of beer from the refrigerator . It seemed that his family brought it to celebrate the end of the year .  But drinking while being a minor…… In fact, it wasn’t as if I had no experience at all in this regard . However, I didn’t feel like drinking then, so the beverage I bought from the convenience store satisfied me . Next to me sat Min Hyung with his legs outstretched and was drinking a glass of banana milk with a straw . Sometimes, the sound of eating snacks got mixed with the sounds coming from the TV .

 

“And, only 5 minutes left till 20xx . ”

 

At 5 minutes before 12, the screen showed the midnight bell . Along with the reporter’s explanation, the camera caught the people gathered on the street . They were all waiting with excited faces for the new year . 10, 9, 8, 7…… When it finally came to the countdown, I felt nervous unknowingly and straightened my body .

 

“2, 1… 0!!! Viewers, a new year has begun . I wish everyone happiness this year too……”

 

…… Ah . It was a new year .


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Deng-Deng! The sounds of the midnight bell echoed as I was thinking about it . I assumed that there would be some conversation after the ring of the bell, but Jun Hyung still remained silent . Should I try to say, Happy New Year? Yes, let’s do it first this time . I tried to call him . But then,

 

“Eschwi!”

 

…… Came again the sound of a cough .

Turning around in doubt, this time it was Patrasche again . What, Patrasche……Did you catch a cold? Feeling it was weird too, Min Hyung put down the glass of milk he had in his hand and held Patrasche . And soon after he loudly laughed .

 

“Patrasche, you have a runny nose . Puahahaha!”

“Eschwi!”

“……?!”

 

When Patrasche sneezed again, Jun Hyung, who was sitting whilst leaning on the sofa next to me, abruptly turned his head . The momentum was so strong that I felt surprised without realizing . Jun Hyung, as if someone threw cold water on his face, looked at Patrasche with a shocked expression .

 

“……?”

 

What’s this……?

That shocked look on his face suddenly turned anxious .

What…?

I followed his gaze back to Patrasche .

 

“Eschwi!”

 

Sneezing violently, a snot flew out from Patrasche’s nose .

The entertainers on TV were exchanging New Year’s greetings, saying ‘Happy New Year’, but there was a scarily tense atmosphere in our living room . Jun Hyung was watching Patrasche with a blank expression as if he had received a great shock and Min Hyung’s smiling face was also slowly turning into a frowning one when he noticed the severity of the situation .

 

“Eschwi!”

 

Patrasche sneezed yet again .

 

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