Book Reader (Part 3)

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” Should we stop here for today? ”

” Nae? Already? ”

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I suddenly yelled in the disappointment. And thinking that I was rude, I quickly covered my mouth and said, Do you have somewhere you have to go? Then you should go...– words that were meaningless.

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When Sunggyu said these words while smiling, Woohyun wondered if himself was being too much for Sunggyu and showed a flustered face. I mean, I didn’t mean…..

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” You said you’re curious of different countries. ”

” Nae? ”

” I brought paper and pen to draw with. I can’t draw that well but I thought… maybe you’ll understand better if we draw together. ”

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Sunggyu’s eyes sparkled. Really? Sunggyu’s voice was uplifted.
Seeing him be happy, Woohyun also became happy soon.
Woohyun had been thinking all week about Sunggyu being curious about different countries.

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They sat face-to-face with the table that they ate on spread across between them, and pulled out the white sketchpad. Sunggyu held the pen that Woohyun handed him and waited for Woohyun’s voice.

But suddenly, Sunggyu felt Woohyun’s breaths near his ear and felt his back being wrapped with Woohyun’s arms. Becoming surprised, Sunggyu let out a gasp, then Woohyun spoke while wrapping his hand around Sunggyu’s pen-gripped hand.
What’s wrong?
At those words, Sunggyu said it was nothing and shook his head.

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I let out that sound because having skinship with someone other than my noona was unfamiliar. And this feeling wasn’t as bad as I thought. No, it felt very very friendly.

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” Now, let’s see. The streets of Indonesia that are shown in this book are stretching out like this. ”

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The pen that Sunggyu was gripping followed as Woohyun moved. Sunggyu’s eyes couldn’t see but he closed them anyway. And as his hand moved along with Woohyun’s explanations, he imagined that scenery.

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In the world that Woohyun drew, Sunggyu opened his eyes.

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Woohyun glanced over at Sunggyu who was listening fully to his words, and smiled. Feeling that his hard work wasn’t going to waste, he felt moved.

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The kind of Sunggyu that Woohyun felt, was that kind of person– a person that feels as much as I worked hard on it, a person that understands my actions and does not question them.

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In the other hand, Sunggyu was about to lose his mind of happiness with Woohyun expressing his interest with the whole body. I can hear the heartbeat of the person behind being generous for me. My hand is gently wrapped with his hand, and right now, the world that I wanted to see and was curious about is spread out in front of me. How can I possibly be any happier.

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Countless drawings were sketched since then. The sound of Woohyun’s free hand flipping the pages of the book could be heard. Then, he seemed to have found the next picture to draw and he spoke with his signature soft voice. This time, I’ll draw the boy’s face which you were curious about.

Sunggyu nodded. His voice as he softly whispered near my ear again was sweet. He has a good voice. A voice that is not so sharp but not so dull either. A smooth voice. His voice clearly emulated his caring and gentle mind, and it felt good to hear, like a song.

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” The boy’s eyes are like this. Indonesian people have double eyelids, so they all have pretty eyes. ”

” Really? Woohyun-sshi, do you have double-eyelids? ”

” Nae? Me? ”

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Woohyun asked being surprised, and Sunggyu nodded. Woohyun thought for a second, and continued with a voice mixed with jokes. I don’t have double eyelids but my nose is pretty and my lips are okay. I look okay.
At those words, Sunggyu replied back seriously.

” I think you’ll look handsome. ”

” Nae? ”

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Hearing the nice compliment, Woohyun replied full of happiness and surprise. Sunggyu continued with the same serious tone. I don’t know what ugly or handsome looks like yet, but someone as kind as Woohyun-sshi would automatically look handsome, I would think.

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At the straightforward and embarrassing compliment, Woohyun became speechless and didn’t know how to react and just let out an, Uhh…. , sound. And that sound made Sunggyu come back to his senses. Did I say something out of line?

Woohyun shook his head quickly and answered. No no. It’s just that I heard this kind of compliment for the first time and felt awkward.
Sunggyu let out a breath of relief. I see. I thought maybe I said something overwhelming to you.

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Woohyun had been watching Sunggyu’s face from the back of him, and showed a happy smile. And he quietly stuck his body a little closer to Sunggyu as he drew. A gentle voice that explained the pictures.

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” Little kids are all cute. Kids are… ”

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You are even more…

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” pretty. ”

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Woohyun secretly showed his heart as he explained. And Sunggyu– not knowing the meaning behind his words– laughed, Pfft, and said:

” Are you allowed to say ‘pretty’ to a boy’s face? ”

” But he’s… ”

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You are,

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” Really pretty. ”

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Hearing the slightly serious voice, Sunggyu said, Hmm, and thought for a second before continuing Woohyun’s word’s for him.

” If he grows up he might be… ”

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You are,

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” A charming man. ”

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The same conversation, the same heart. But a completely different conversation and a completely different heart. Because of the conversation being different from their hearts, they became shy and began saving their words due to the embarrassment.

Woohyun drew the pictures without a word and Sunggyu moved along Woohyun’s hand, but those things didn’t come into his head for a minute.
Having these kinds of emotions for the first time in his life, Sunggyu didn’t know how to hide these feelings.

He’s a charming person that has enough leisure to help others like this, and I’m just a guy trembling in loneliness in this little room being blind.

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Woohyun’s heart trying its best to naturally express its feelings, and Sunggyu’s heart trying its best to stay hidden… slightly started to clash.

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After drawing a few more pages of pictures, it was 7 PM. It was really time for Woohyun to go. I needed to wait so long for this time to come but why does this time flow by so quickly, it’s cruel.

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Right after the last sketch was drawn, Sunggyu unconsciously sighed of disappointment. Woohyun showed slightly surprised eyes and stared at the back of Sunggyu’s head. Feeling the disappointment in the sigh, Woohyun didn’t hate it.

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” Should I… stay a little longer? ”

” Ah, would you like to? I’ll make some coffee. ”

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Sunggyu answered as if he were waiting for it. And he quickly got out of Woohyun’s arms. With Sunggyu no longer in his arms, Woohyun felt disappointed and quietly smacked his lips together.
Then he moved his eyes following Sunggyu and looked at his back. It was good seeing Sunggyu doing something busily. Sunggyu moved his hands here and there, then prepared some coffee that was steaming like the first day.

Still the same mug with the missing cap. I liked that mug. It was shabby but if I looked at it, it moved me for some reason.

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” Sunggyu-sshi, do you meet people often? ”

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Woohyun looked at Sunggyu sitting beside him and thought for a second, before throwing out a trick question.

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” Nae… ? No. Actually, I don’t have that many friends. ”

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You’re not like this, right? I’m worthless like this. When those thoughts popped up, Sunggyu became embarrassed and scratched his head.

Woohyun just looked into Sunggyu’s eyes and sipped the coffee, then grabbed Sunggyu’s hand like it was nothing. Sunggyu showed surprised eyes of a rabbit.

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” You didn’t stay grabbing a person’s hand like this before, right? ”

” Nae? Nae…… ”

Seeing Sunggyu answer with a flustered face, Woohyun seeped out an airy laugh.

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” Stay like this until we finish drinking all the coffee. Don’t be too scared of interacting with other people. ”

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Woohyun spoke remembering back to when Sunggyu flinched surprised when he hugged him from the back. But Woohyun’s reason behind this suggestion was because he wanted to hold Sunggyu’s hand once– his smooth and shy motive.

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But Sunggyu innocently believed Woohyun’s words and awed at Woohyun’s kind considerations. He was thankful– of not just reading the books, but also his efforts to try to get to know the person– and he was thankful again and again.

A good silence flowed. Inside the room, only the awkward sounds of sipping coffee were heard. And Woohyun carefully locked fingers as he spoke.

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” Um….. ”

” Um– ”

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When they spoke up at the same time, laughter poured out. And they clashed one more time when they spoke again. Please speak first. Another shy laugh. Woohyun smiled as he spoke. Then I’ll speak first. Sunggyu nodded.

Ah, so……. When actually trying to talk, Woohyun became shy and fixed his eyes on the ceiling as he said the words.

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” That….. day. ”

” That day? ”

” Ah… I mean, on Saturday……. ”

” Ah ah, nae. ”

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Woohyun put the cup down from embarrassment and scratched the back of his head. Sunggyu seemed to be hearing the sounds of Woohyun being embarrassed, and slightly laughed. A person that knows how to express his mind. Unlike me, he’s a person that knows how to give and receive hearts of others– the day that I felt what kind of cool and beautiful person he was.

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” It doesn’t overwhelm you, does it? ”

” No. It’s nothing like that. ”

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Actually, I was thankful. I swallowed these words…. because I feel so pathetic of myself.

Seeing Sunggyu’s bright smile, Woohyun sighed of relief.

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” You saying it doesn’t overwhelm you is a huge relief. ”

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Woohyun thought he might’ve just revealed his own heart, and became embarrassed. He took another sip of the coffee.

Sunggyu thought. I’m a person living trapped inside my own castle. He is a person that lives interacting with other people. I’m like a scarecrow that doesn’t know how to show anything else but a smile. He is a person that has all kinds of faces, crying and smiling. I’m a person that can’t be loved except when smiling. He is a person who can cry and knows how to shake up a person’s heart. I become smaller and smaller as I compare myself to him, and I became disappointed in myself.

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” What was Sunggyu-sshi about to say… ? ”

” Ah.. Isn’t it uncomfortable drinking coffee with your left hand? ”

” Ah…… ”

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Woohyun looked down at his own hand that held the coffee mug. Merely holding the cup was nothing much and he was drinking regardless of right or left hand, but after hearing that, it became a bit uncomfortable.

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” I’m ambidextrous so it’s okay. ”

” Ah, I see. ”

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Actually, that was pure lies. Woohyun showed a playful smile. And he held the mug as if to show him, then took a sip again.

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The locked fingers became hot. Woohyun squeezed that hand tightly, and Sunggyu’s shoulders slightly flinched. Being able to see the reaction clearly, Woohyun showed a happy smile. And he rubbed the back of Sunggyu’s hand with his thumb. That touch made Sunggyu’s heart melt away.

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I won’t ask much, like becoming friends with him. I just want this time– this night to pause here, please.

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I spent my time doing nothing. Making the radio my friend, I pulled through Tuesday which he doesn’t come on, then Wednesday finally came.

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Sunggyu became excited even in the morning and mopped and cleaned the floor, then went grocery shopping just in case Woohyun would get hungry like last time. Sunggyu’s clock was centered around Woohyun.

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Knock knock knock. I’m Woohyun. At that voice, Sunggyu scurried outside. Welcome. Please come in quickly. But Woohyun did not step inside.

Sunggyu stood in front of the door and tipped his head to the side. Seeing that, Woohyun grinned. A grin full of tricks. But there was no way that Sunggyu could’ve seen that, and wondered why Woohyun was being like this.

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” You always stay at home, right? Let’s go out together with me today. ”

” Nae? ”

” You always eat rice with the same side dishes, right? Alone. ”

” Ah…….. ”

” How long has it been since you ate meat? Let’s go eat meat. Us. ”

” Um. ”

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At this sudden suggestion, Sunggyu hesitated. If he stepped out of a space he was familiar with, he would become sensitive and nervous, and he didn’t want to show Woohyun that side of himself.

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But Woohyun thought that Sunggyu was just being flustered by the sudden suggestion, so he pulled Sunggyu’s hand and dragged him out of the house.

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I’m going outside. I’m going to a place I don’t know. But I’m not alone. I’m not alone? At the fact that he wasn’t alone, Sunggyu’s heart fluttered. How long has it been since I went to a meat house? I think having a dine-out with the co-workers of the place I used to work at was the last time. An outing like this in such a long time, will I be okay? I don’t want him to see me trembling in nervousness…….

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I followed Woohyun’s footsteps, still guided by Woohyun’s hand. Every time I got pushed by someone, Woohyun wrapped his hand around my shoulders but I didn’t hate it.

For Woohyun, this whole situation was amusing and surprising. Just a few days ago he was just watching from afar with feelings of sympathy, and the fact that he could confidently reach out and help him now meant that they had grown closer to each other.

They walked along like that and Woohyun’s footsteps suddenly stopped. And he pulled harder on Sunggyu’s arm again.

He was pulled into a place, and Sunggyu’s surrounding air filled with the smell of meat. And the immediate chatters that followed made Sunggyu’s body tense up.
There were too many sounds to react to. With his eyes not being able to see, his other senses were especially alert, that a place as noisy as this was already making Sunggyu tired.

Right then, Woohyun’s hand softly led him to a seat. Sunggyu’s face as he was sitting down looked a bit stiff, so Woohyun asked with worry.

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” Do you not like meat? ”

” No. It’s just that I’ve never been here before….”

” Don’t worry. I’ll do everything for you. ”

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I’ll do everything for you. Those words comforted him, but the noises that rang around his ears still made him afraid. He heard Woohyun ordering and Sunggyu was focusing on every sound in the meat house.

His smile on his lips were a bit awkward. Woohyun took notice of that awkwardness and stared at Sunggyu. Even if this is his first time, I didn’t know he’ll be this nervous. Woohyun extended his legs and wrapped Sunggyu’s ankle securely in his. Sunggyu got startled and stared straight at the front.

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” I’m right in front of you. ”

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As if to comfort me, Woohyun’s good voice.

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” I’m right in front of you, so stop listening to other things. ”

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Woohyun’s heart being delivered from beneath the table along with his gentle generosity, made Sunggyu’s hardened heart become soft.

When the meat came out, Woohyun put chopsticks and a plate into Sunggyu’s hands. And every time the meat was cooked, he placed a piece of meat on top of Sunggyu’s spoon.

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He loosened Sunggyu’s nervousness by mentioning funny stories of his school days or by talking about celebrities. Sunggyu’s hectic surroundings slowly began focusing on Woohyun.

The voice of the waiters serving was erased, and the voices of the grandpas getting drunk were erased, the voice of the store’s owner answering the phone was erased, and the voices of the students sitting on the table next to them were erased……. Starting from some time, only Woohyun was seen in Sunggyu’s eyes.

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……. and later, I showed a real smile. In an unfamiliar place that I came for the first time, I really smiled. That had a big meaning.

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” It’s good, isn’t it? ”

” Nae. ”

” Let’s come out like this and eat together. And go to nice places. ”

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At his words, Sunggyu felt like his mind and body were floating on clouds. This situation may seem like nothing to other people, but for Sunggyu, this was no other than a big step forward. And if he’s here, I really feel like I could go anywhere comfortably.

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If the world is like the rough seas and I’m like a small boat, then he is my lighthouse that can safely guide my way.

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” It’s good to see you eat well. ”

” …….. ”

” Really good. ”

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Beneath the table, my leg that was wrapped between his… started to relax.

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” I had fun today. ”

” I feel sorry ’cause I feel like I had a better time. ”

” No. I enjoyed it even more. ”

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They went on a walk after eating. Woohyun took Sunggyu here and there explaining this place looks like so and so, and that place looks like so and so.

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The roads that usually looked black with me only taking a few steps there and a few steps here, suddenly became colorful thanks to Woohyun. How good would it be if days like these continued.

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The sun was setting and the fact that he had to wait another full week to see him made Sunggyu’s heart drop. But Sunggyu didn’t let his disappointment show. Thinking that Woohyun might feel overwhelmed if he showed this emotion, Sunggyu held down his feelings well like usual.

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Woohyun stared at Sunggyu smiling happily, then leveled eyes with Sunggyu and followed his eyes. He might not know this, but if I stay with my eyes connected to his… my heart flutters.

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” Goodnight. ”

” Woohyun-sshi go back safely too. ”

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The voice full of disappointment rode with the wind and dispersed. Woohyun spoke as if he were talking to himself. The sun is setting.

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What were the colors of the sunset again……., ‘it’s burning beautifully’, I once heard this on the radio.

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Burning.

Hot.

Sunggyu’s image of the sunset.

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” Dust is going to get in if you leave the door open for too long. Go in quickly. ”

” Nae. Then I’ll go in. Go back safely. ”

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With disappointment, Sunggyu slowly closed the door. If I was together with him, I wanted to stretch the time even for a few seconds.

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” Ah, Sunggyu-sshi! ”

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Woohyun urgently grabbed the door and called Sunggyu to stop him. Woohyun leveled eyes with Sunggyu again.
Feeling Woohyun’s breath right in front of his nose, Sunggyu knew that Woohyun’s face was near his. Those breaths fluttered Sunggyu so much that his heart felt like bursting out.

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…… My heart right now is the color of the sunset, about to burst out any second.

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” Um……. ”

” ……… ”

” I’ll probably every day…. do this? I mean, can I….. come find you often? ”

” Nae? ”

” I want to get closer to Sunggyu-sshi. Not just as a person that reads books… so…. Uhh…..”

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He’s telling me that he wants to get closer to me. He’s reaching out a hand to me, when I felt lonely every single day. He’s an existence friendlier than any other.

Sunggyu’s heart seemed to be broken as it thumped and thumped. Sunggyu was used to living with his emotions bottled up but even he couldn’t control it at this moment.
Wait, how does my expression look right now? Ah, why is my heart beating like this?

Weirdly at that moment, the memories of getting beat up, getting made fun of by my classmates, getting pointed at due to my blindness…. all of these memories flew by my head. And lastly,

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– Sunggyu, if you become honest with your feelings, then one day…crying, getting hurt, getting mad… a person will appear who will love and care for all these sides of you. And our Sunggyu will love all these sides of that person too.

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Noona’s words popped into my head. I don’t expect him to love everything of me or even care about me. But I feel like I can… love everything of this person. This envious and generous person was talking to me. I want to get closer to you. These casual words were words of salvation to Sunggyu.

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” Uh…? ”

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Noona, what do I do.

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” ….. Sunggyu-sshi. Why are you crying? ”

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…… I can’t keep them bottled up anymore.

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Sunggyu hyung,

Uh, Woohyun-ah.

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Enough time passed for them to talk comfortably to one another. The season that started with spring, was wearing summer clothes now. They weren’t straightforwardly expressing their hearts yet– they were just carefully guessing each other’s minds. Even if this feeling wasn’t love, one thing was for sure– that this feeling was impacting the two greatly.

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Woohyun visited frequently to Sunggyu’s house like it was his own. Sunggyu had to stay inside the house and rest till September due to the accident, and Woohyun was a big relief and hope to him.

And Woohyun likewise– who couldn’t have found out about this emptiness if it weren’t for meeting Sunggyu thus filling the emptiness with him– considered Sunggyu as the light and as a different world.

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Like that, they filled each other’s emptiness, cared for each other, and were slowly becoming matching pieces of the puzzle.

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When in school, Woohyun’s feet had either went back and forth from tutoring or back and forth from playing with friends, but during break, they were continuously moving. Even today, Woohyun had been laying down at home but couldn’t help his pulling heart and stood up from his spot. His mom was sitting in the living room reading a book, when she found Woohyun and talked to him with an uplifted face.

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” Woohyun-ah, where are you headed to. Do you want to go somewhere with mom toda–”

” I have a meet with Sunggyu hyung today. Sorry. Let’s go some time else. ”

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Looking at the door that mercilessly shut with a, Boom, Woohyun’s mom began showing worry on her face.

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” Is it… Sunggyu again. ”

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