Picked Up In Winter Chapter 8
Picked Up In Winter – <8>
Coming outside, the streets soaked in jet-black darkness came into sight.
Fortunately, the snow had melted considerably. There were still a few unmelted piles of snow that had been swept up and several roads remained frozen, but compared to a while ago it was a lot better. It looked like it had somehow melted since then.
"Where are you planning to go?"
Jun Hyung asked, breaking the calm silence of the dawn. At that time, I was reminded of what happened when I had just come into the house last night. Yesterday it was also this quiet, this dark. It was also dawn. And it was also just as cold……. I was amazed that I remembered things so faintly even though it had only been a day. As I was feeling sentimental, his words made me raise my face.
What should I say? I was overwhelmed with embarrassment.
In front of this guy, it was hard to say the right words. Not only in front of him, it was the same with Min Hyung. The fact that both of them treated me completely like a pet human made it difficult for me to speak in front of them. Besides, the places I guessed were also too vague. I was troubled about what to say for a moment and, without any other choice, simply named the place.
It usually was the easiest place to go to, when one ran away from home. Except this, there were many other places to go, but for now this was the number one place. 'Hmm' At my words, Jun Hyung made a small noise and soon turned his body.
He led the way. I nodded and followed behind him. Please, it would be great if Dae Hyung was where I guessed and did not go elsewhere… so I hoped a little.
But it looked like Dae Hyung was in a different place than I expected. Starting from the park, followed by the convenience store, arcades and comic book cafe in the vicinity…… Even including the streets I had gone to when I ran away from home, I looked everywhere, but it seemed like we could not find Dae Hyung. Maybe he went to a friend's house whose number was not stored in the cellphone he left behind. I wondered if he actually had time to think so systematically, but in any case, Dae Hyung was not in the places I guessed. Because we were exhausted from looking around here and there, ultimately we gave up on finding Dae Hyung and trudgingly went back home.
Both Jun Hyung and I were silent. The park we went to first was excessively empty. In the deserted place with not even one person, only fallen leaves and bare branches could be found. When I felt depressed by the thought that one hope was destroyed, Jun Hyung glanced at me. <What are you going to do now?> His eyes were asking. I hesitated a little before opening my mouth.
'We can't get in at this time anyway.'
But even so I suggested we go once. The family told me that it was not my fault, but in the end I could not shake off the fact that I was the cause. It tormented me like a thorn in my chest, that someone else left because I entered the house. It felt like before I found Dae Hyung, I would also be unable to leave the house as I pleased. Therefore, I wanted to make sure to find Dae Hyung today.
Of course Dae Hyung was not in the arcade we went to. I was stubborn nonetheless and went to three arcades and one comic book cafe in the neighbourhood, but it was in vain. Lastly we went to Bupyeong and as expected, there were only several drunk people, not one child around Dae Hyung’s age could be seen.
Jun Hyung looked at the completely crestfallen me and also kept silent. Adding to the fact that I originally did not talk much, I absolutely did not speak more than necessary in front of him and we naturally both fell into silence.
Slowly moving home, I felt extremely uncomfortable and uneasy. I had thought I could definitely find him today. It was vague but I had felt it. That was the reason why I had just recklessly left the house, but even though one or two hours had already passed since then, we still had not found even the slightest trace of Dae Hyung.
Still…… I still don't want to go back.
However, seemingly noticing my feelings, Jun Hyung abruptly halted.
I looked at him with a suspicious look. For a moment, he looked like he was hesitating on what to say, but soon opened his mouth.
"Are you hungry?"
Not really…… I held back before these words could unconciously leave my mouth. Jun Hyung seemed to accept my silence as a sign of affirmation. He grinned and continued speaking.
"Do you want to eat hoppang (steamed bun)? I'll be right back, so just go sit over there~"
He said as he pointed at the park we first went to. When I nodded to him in acknowledgement, he dashed to the convenience store, which was a bit far away. I stared at his running back figure absently for a while, and then regained my senses and entered the park.
Inside the park, it was still quiet and dreary.
My bottom will be a little cold but let's sit down on the bench. I arrived at this conclusion and slowly headed towards a bench in a corner. Maybe because the surroundings were too quiet, I could clearly hear my footsteps. That sound was uncomfortable and I tried walking cautiously, but it had no effect.
When I sat on the bench, I unconsciously let out a sigh. Haaa- I exhaled white breath. The night sky was pitch-black and no stars could be seen. Sitting like that, I suddenly realized the fact that my bottom did not feel cold. There was faint warmth, as if someone had just sat here. I thought it was strange and laughed, but suddenly heard a sneeze from behind. 'Achoo.' I was petrified with astonishment.
Even though everyone would naturally react like that, hearing such a sound while thinking nobody was around… My case was slightly different. Strangely enough, in that moment I felt like I knew who the culprit behind the sneeze was. I saw Dae Hyung for the first time yesterday, and the time we spent together was very short, so I clearly did not know him well. We were not close enough to recognise the other person by his sneeze. Nevertheless, I was sure. The one sneezing behind me right now was Dae Hyung. I somehow felt that way.
I hesitated but slowly…… slowly turned my head.
Sure enough, Dae Hyung was there.
…… he spit out a cuss word. His face wore a frown.
Funnily enough, it was nice to see. Grass was planted everywhere behind the bench, creating a boundary between the park and the street. Dae Hyung sat there with legs half-buried, leaning his back against the bench I was using. As soon as he met my eyes, the boy started cursing. However, that expression unexpectedly changed to an embarrassed look in an instant. I finally understood why I was unable to find him when we came here before.
Dae Hyung was hiding…….
In this very cold park, it was very easy to feel someone else coming in. Dae Hyung had been sitting on this bench, and when he realized we were coming, he hastily hid behind. And just a while ago, he did the same. When I thought of that scene, it was so funny that I could not help but burst out laughing. Although I was not one to laugh easily, I really could not help it at this moment. He had done his best to act like a snob all this time but now was showing this kind of embarrassing behaviour. As expected, a 14 year old kid is just a little kid. And also a uselessly stubborn one at that.
"Damn, don't laugh!!"
The boy yelled at the loudly laughing me. The face that was flushed with embarrassment made even this child with a nasty temper look cute. But if I laughed any more, I did not know how it would add to this guy's anger and shame, so I stopped laughing for now. He was fiercely glaring at me with his body turned in my direction.
"Let's go home."
I opened my mouth and the boy's eyes became sharper.
"Go home? But where do you mean? Your house? Or my house?"
To my immediate reply, the boy shut his mouth as if he was lost for words.
"When you return home, I will immediately leave. So quickly go back home. Don't foolishly stay in places like this in the cold."
"……… Don't be ridiculous. You bastard left home exactly the same way. Don't lecture me!"
…… Was that the case? It might not have been something for me to say.
Like the boy, I also stopped talking and turned quiet. Therefore, for a moment, I had no choice but to meet eyes with him who was glaring at me.
Then all of a sudden… I thought that the boy's face color was overly red. I had thought it was because of embarrassment but it was lasting too long. Even his lips were blue. Only then did my eyes catch the slight trembling of his body. I unconciously stretched out my hand and touched his forehead.
"…! Get away!!"
The boy raised his hand to hit mine. But my hand had already touched his forehead once. My hand was hot. He was burning up with fever. I opened my eyes wide in surprise and looked at Dae Hyung. Dae Hyung's face was slightly distorted. It was a face that was desperately trying to hide his embarrassment, not knowing what to do.
"Don't be ridiculous!!"
The boy screamed midway cutting my words.
"What do you mean, ridiculous. The fever is this severe!"
"It's not your business, right? Do not touch me recklessly!!"
"You clumsily just wore your uniform and didn’t even treat your wounds! What are you doing, sitting here like a fool?! Were you planning to spend the whole night sitting here?"
"That's none of your business!
While I was dumbfounded by the boy's foolishness, I could no longer bring myself to discipline him.
Because I knew that feeling. Because I and the boy were indeed in a similar situation. I did not want to be in that place so I ran away, just like the boy. I was no different than this boy in that I chose to run away even though it might make no sense…….
Because…… I, as well, was just a wandering child.
Another cough came out. After shouting, despite my throat not being in a good shape, it was obvious consequence. Cough, cough, one after another coughs escaped and the boy had a flustered expression. I was amused that it was tinged with worry. It was because I remembered the boy's words from a while ago 'Cough, cough, he barked'.
"What the, you can't even take care of your own body……"
The boy muttered in a sulky voice and climbed over the bench. However, seeing him stumbling because of the high fever made me automatically think… look who's talking. And thinking about it this way, the boy also must have had the same thought. Somehow, it was a funny situation…….
We were both not feeling well and sat on the bench as if collapsing, then Jun Hyung came into sight, standing before us with hoppang in both hands. He held one in each hand, there was one pizza hoppang and the other was a white hoppang, either red bean hoppang or vegetable hoppang. He stood there for a while, watching us vacantly. That was why I had not even realised his arrival at first.
"Um…… You eat."
After he gave me the white hoppang, he hesitated for a while before he unexpectedly held out the pizza hoppang to Dae Hyung and said this. Dae Hyung who was already burning up with fever had a soulless expression and faintly opened his eyes to stare at him. Then he stared at the hoppang with a dazed look.
Dae Hyung seemed to be unable to talk for a moment.
Then, the next moment, his face turned livid again. Perhaps, what happened a while ago came into his mind. At the same time, tears were rapidly welling up in his eyes. His face was filled with sorrow. Dae Hyung violently hit the hoppang Jun Hyung offered.
"Something like this…!!"
The light orange pizza hoppang fell on the dirty ground and rolled a few times before stopping. For a short time we forgot the situation and blankly watched the scene of the hoppang rolling. A brief but long silence followed. Jun Hyung, rather than angry, looked at Dae Hyung with slightly surprised expression and Dae Hyung was also briefly surprised by his behavior but his look turned into an unyielding one.
"……… What, after so long……"
Dae Hyung mumbled in suppressed voice.
"Something like you, even though… you have no… at all…… In me and Min Hyung… Even though you have no interest at all!!!!!!"
The boy's screaming and crying resonated throughout the quiet park.
Naturally, the silence after a loud cry is even more quiet.
Holding the hoppang that was already beginning to cool in my hand, I stared at the two of them absently. Jun Hyung was looking at Dae Hyung with an expression like he had lost the ability to speak, Dae Hyung still wore an angry expression with his lips shut tightly. But the boy's trembling body told me that he had a hard time even sitting upright.
Feeling anxious about the boy's condition, I was about to call out to Jun Hyung. But right at that moment, Jun Hyung who had been looking at Dae Hyung for quite a while, finally opened his mouth.
"What do you want me to do?"
It was a hushed, calm voice. Jun Hyung asked Dae Hyung, looking somewhat gloomy. Hearing that voice, Dae Hyung slowly raised his head and faced Jun Hyung's eyes. It was apparent that he could not believe it. The two brothers who had not met eye to eye like this in a long time, stopped moving for a while.
Jun Hyung once again opened his mouth.
"Why are you always looking at me with such eyes? What do you want me to do? What is it you want from me?"
Jun Hyung’s face showed that he genuinely did not know the answer. But the one who was even more unaware of the answer was actually Dae Hyung.
Looking at the two of them, I realized. Jun Hyung was the type that was extremely bad at expressing his feelings. And it was obvious he was the type that was also just as bad with human relationships. Although he seemed to have a lot of friends for some reason, he was probably someone who had a hard time expressing things, just an older brother who was bad at expressing…….
So he could not comprehend that his younger brother was behaving like that because he was craving for his older brother's love and attention.
"Whenever you look at me like that, I always feel burdened. What exactly do you want from me…!"
Jun Hyung shouted with a little more power. Afterwards, Dae Hyung looked at him like he had received a shock. Probably because he had always thought that his older brother was cold and heartless, seeing this side of him must have shocked him greatly.
Unknowingly, I opened my mouth. Startled, they looked at me at the same time. After violently coughing, my voice was as hoarse as it could be. I started talking once more with much difficulty, my voice mixed with hoarseness.
"Pet him. Just like you do to me."
And unfittingly, I laughed.
Jun Hyung absent-mindedly stared at me, and looked down at his right hand. And with a stiff movement that closely resembled a robot’s, he stretched his hand toward Dae Hyung. But the move was so awkward that Dae Hyung avoided it after he flinched in surprise.
Dae Hyung stammered with flustered voice. But Jun Hyung stubbornly stretched his hand and placed it on his head. He opened his hand and literally let it plop down on the other’s head, then furtively started moving it.
I’m pretty sure I told to you to pet him, though. Did I possibly tell you to rub his hair by mistake?
"Wha, what, on earth… stop…… What……"
Where exactly from those fingers that might as well have been rubbing a magic lamp…… Did Dae Hyung feel his older brother's affection? The voice that only muttered the words <What> and <Stop> started to be filled with tears. Maybe because he was embarrassed of the overflowing tears, Dae Hyung raised his hands and roughly rubbed the rims of his eyes. But the gestures were too rough, I wondered if he was not going to hurt himself at this rate.
Seemingly relieved, Dae Hyung who had endured until now collapsed onto Jun Hyung. Only then did Jun Hyung realize Dae Hyung had a fever and carried Dae Hyung on his back. Dae Hyung still had a much smaller frame than Jun Hyung, so being carried on his back really made him look like a kid.
"Let's go home now, Happy."
Jun Hyung who carried Dae Hyung on his back told me.
'Where do you mean?'
Suddenly, I remembered the question Dae Hyung asked.
I hesitated for a moment. Home, where? You two's home? My home? When I was feeling such confusion, Dae Hyung who was on Jun Hyung's back lifted his head and glanced at me. <What are you doing, aren't you coming quickly?> Even without saying anything, his eyes seemed to reprimand me like that.
I hesitatingly stretched my feet towards them. Then, Dae Hyung once again laid his head on Jun Hyung's back…….
I deliberately answered loudly, stood beside them and walked side by side. Somehow my heart felt moved, it was a strange feeling.
Dae Hyung seemed to be embarrassed, deeply burying his face into Jun Hyung's back… His red earlobes looked very cute. It probably was not just because of the fever.
I walked side by side with the two of them and divided the cooled down hoppang into three equal parts. The black filling was red bean paste. I passed one to Jun Hyung, and tapped Dae Hyung, who was on his back, putting the other one in his mouth. Dae Hyung who started chewing on the cooled down hoppang, despite burning up with fever, was so childlike it was funny.
The red bean hoppang divided into three equal parts which I ate while walking alongside the two brothers on this quiet, early morning, was excessively sweet.
Somehow, I felt…… these brothers, and this home, I would come to like it a lot…….
It had now been one day since I came into this house.
To these brothers and also to my feelings, it was a calm dawn that welcomed big change.
Different kinds of hoppang~ Now I’m hungry ㅠㅠ