Chapter 172

“Yeah, I’ll be back soon.”

- Don’t be late.

“Mhm, okay.”

- Remember, anything more erotic than a kiss is reserved for adults.

“Mom!”

She felt her face heat up in embarrassment, especially because Maru was looking at her. She tried to hang up, but her mom asked to talk to Maru. What sorts of weird plots is her mom planning now?

“Mother, thank you for the beef ribs. We’ll enjoy it.”

Maru chimed in happily from the side, looking at him kind of made her annoyed for some reason.

“Take this.”

“Mm?”

“Mom wants to talk to you.”

“......”

Maru’s expression stiffened almost immediately. Oho. She nudged him more to take the call, the boy took her phone respectfully with both of his hands.

“Yes, mother. This is Maru.”

Maru got into a kneeling position as soon as he received the phone. It was such a refreshing sight, watching his anxious expression. It was nice having something fun to watch. As Maru continued the conversation, he kept nervously twitching or stretching around. She laughed out loudly from right next to him.

“Yes, I’ll come visit next time. Goodbye.”

Maru flopped down on the floor as if he just finished an important test.

“Come on, so nervous over just a single call?”

She poked Maru’s forehead with a finger. Maru fumbled upwards like a robot that got turned on.

“Mother’s still the same as ever.”

“Still?”

“...You don’t want to know.”

She narrowed her eyes at Maru.

“You know, sometimes it’s incredibly obvious that you’re trying to change the topic.”

“Really?”

“Yeah.”

“I’ll do better next time.”

“You’re just saying that.”

Maru sat down in front of the glass coffee table in the living room and rested his chin on it. He looked exhausted, even more so than when he cooked. “Did something tiring happen?”

“Mm?”

Maru looked at her with some confusion. Normally, he’d immediately say ‘no’ or make a joke, but today he missed a beat before he responded.

“Is it because you talked with mom?”

“No, not at all. That’s… well, that does take a lot of energy, but it doesn’t really tire me.”

“Then what? Now I feel sorry for dropping by while you’re so tired. I feel like I interrupted your rest.” “Interrupted? No way, I’m happy you came.”

Maru stood up, scratching his head. He looked like he was thinking about something. He was smiling, but every bit of her womanly senses told her that this was a fake smile.

“Something did happen, right?”

“Nothing. I’m just a bit exhausted with the seasons changing. Nothing you need to worry about.”

Maru was drawing a clear line here, she wasn’t a fan of that. Did Maru not trust her? Was that what this was? She pouted and glared at Maru angrily, he avoided her gaze with an awkward smile for a bit before finally raising his hand.

“I’m just a bit tired from all the things I’ve been thinking about. Nothing else is really going on.”

“Thinking about what?”

“You know, this and that.”

“So what’s this and what’s that?”

Maru scratched his eyebrows nervously, his lips were twitching a few times from how troubled he was. To think Maru who was always so positive and quick-thinking was hesitating like this… She got kind of scared. He said that things were okay, but maybe this was a super big issue? Right then, Maru finally opened his mouth.

“I’ve been thinking. About the people around me… and about what might happen in the future.”

Maru emphasized that this wasn’t anything serious. He didn’t look like he was lying, so for now she sighed in relief.

“Nothing’s wrong, right?”

“I swear to god, yes.”

“That’s fine, then. I really did think there was a problem for a second.”

“I wouldn’t hide anything if I needed to talk to you.”

That was a little embarrassing to hear, but it did calm her significantly. Probably because of how serious he looked.

“But in any case, you were worried because of the future?”

“It’s a bit more complicated than that, but yeah.”

“Ugh, you know, it’s not really time to think about that.”

“That’s why I said it wasn’t anything important. I just started thinking about this because I’ve been lying down daydreaming in the hospital for so long.”

“Daydreaming?”

“What, want to find out? It’s super perverted.”

Maru stepped closer to her with a perverse grin. She tried to do a neck slice to stop him, he dodged pretty quickly. Come to think of it, the boy never got hit by her.

“Hey.”

“What?”

“Let me hit you, just once.”

“What? Why?”

“You always dodge! I’m not that slow either.”

“Violence is bad, miss.”

“Is that so?”

An opening! She tried to poke Maru’s cheeks with her finger, Maru’s done this to her often already. Once again, they crossed empty air.

“...You’re making me feel oddly competitive.”

“Don’t get competitive over stuff like this...”

“You know it’s actually really annoying that I can’t tease you when you’re always teasing me, right?”

“Do you really have to get annoyed over something like that?”

“Let me poke you.”

“No.”

“Why?”

“Just because.”

She wanted to do it, at least just this once. She started jabbing at Maru relentlessly, she still wasn’t able to hand a single hit. Maru dodged all of her strikes with a smile on his face. She started this out of playfulness, but this was actually annoying her at this point.

“Stay still. Let me poke them just this once.”

“Were you always this perverted?”

Maru crossed his arms to cover up his chest, she felt her face heat up almost immediately. At the same time, she got angry again at getting teased again. So this is how you wanted to play it, huh? She stood up and jumped at Maru. He’ll probably dodge this one too, right?

But nope, Maru opened up his arms to catch her. She tried to jump back in surprise when she felt their bodies come together, but her center of mass already leaned towards Maru. Maru fell backwards, ending up in a sitting position. She only managed to maintain her balance by grabbing his shoulders. Her body, which was leaning forwards quite a bit, lowered slowly until she could kneel. She took a look at Maru’s smiling face once, her hands that were on his shoulders once, and his hands that were around her waist once.

“Y-y-you...”

“You’re light. You need to gain more weight.”

She felt Maru tighten his grip around her waist. What was he going to do? Right then, Maru lay down on his back.

“Woaaah!”

Her body was lifted up into the air, similar to the airplanes that her dad used to give her on in her childhood. She quickly put more strength into her hands on Maru’s shoulder to not fall forward.

“Normally I’d hold you up with my feet too, but I don’t think that’s really proper.”

“Hey!”

“This is kind of tiring, actually.”

“Ughh!”

She used one of her hands to twist Maru’s cheeks. Maru immediately said “ouch” very quietly as he loosened his grip on her. Thanks to their antics, they were closer than ever before. She couldn’t even open her mouth, Maru’s smiling face was right in front of her. She wanted to ask him what he was doing, but she was pretty sure her mouth still reeked of dinner. She couldn’t do anything here. So…

Bang.

She headbutt him, but this brought about an unexpected result. Instead of pushing her away, he hugged her tightly. Their chests met together and their cheeks touched together briefly. She could see the wooden floor in front of her, she could see the side of Maru’s face right next to hers as well. She could hear his entire body. His heartbeat, his breathing, and even his eyes closing, to an extent.

“Let’s… let’s just stay here like this for a bit.”

Maru was being up front. He wasn’t asking her to stay like this, not that he was giving her a choice to begin with. What should she do here? Should she get angry or should she just ask what he was doing? In the end, she opted for a pat on his head. Maru seemed very anxious today, everything from the way he spoke and the way he was acting just screamed anxiety. It felt like he was struggling hard with a problem.

Looking at that made her feel very sorry for him, she just wanted to hug him for a bit. She didn’t know why she felt this way, but she just did. Why did it feel like she’d been comforted the same way by this person at some day she couldn’t remember?

“Han Maru.”

“Yeah?”

“There’s a movie that I really like.”

“Which one?”

“Dead Poets Society.”

“Oh captain, my captain.”

She let out a small laugh, it was funny watching him say the line a bit seriously. She could feel the breath that Maru was letting out pass by her ear like a breeze.

“I really like the word carpe diem.”

“Carpe diem, huh.”

“I don’t know what you’re worried about. I can tell it’s no simple matter, though. But… if you waste away today just worrying about the future that’s yet to pass, I think you’ll regret it.”

She was able to talk about whatever that was in her heart when she was with Maru. She closed her mouth and slowly raised her body from Maru’s, the boy was looking at her from the floor.

“Do you know why I like you?”

She tilted her head at the sudden question.

“Why?”

“Because you can read me. You can read me oddly well.”

Maru slowly raised his hands around her neck. By the time she felt the warmth around her neck, her head slowly lowered. Maru was pulling her towards him. The distance between their lips were closing in. She gave up on resisting, looking at his smiling face. No, maybe Maru was just too strong for her. Her long hair draped all over Maru’s face. Just like reaching for a little spring amidst a forest of vines, she carefully reached for Maru’s lips.

And…

Beep beep beep. The apartment door opened.

“...Wowee.”

Bada made a small noise in surprise.

She wanted to cry.

No, she kind of wanted to pass out.

* * *

“Hah...”

“Don’t worry. I’ll talk to Bada.”

“What are you going to say?”

“That we’re going to get married.”

“...Oh my god. You’re crazy. I’m crazy.”

She got on the bus exhausted, Maru waved his hand towards her energetically. He couldn’t feel more refreshed than this. Though… she did look pretty tired right now. The moment he came back inside, Bada started questioning him about all sorts of things. He knew kids these days were pretty fast with stuff, but he didn’t know Bada was this knowledgeable about romance. None of his excuses worked, and in the end, the girl even cheered him on.

“I’ll keep it a secret from mom. Since I owe you a lot.”

“Oh, thank you so much.”

“Ahh, I want a boyfriend too.”

“You can date all you want in college.”

“Said the high schooler.”

“.....”

He didn’t have a response for that.

“Ah, right, bro.”

“Yeah?”

“You know that older brother from before?”

“Who?”

“The one with the flying kick.”

“Dowook?”

“Yeah!”

She didn’t look normal. Before she could say anything more, Maru bolted for his room. He locked the door as soon as he got inside.

“Hey! Han Maru!”

She was shouting outside, Maru put his hands over his ears. This didn’t feel good. Dowook was handsome and he did save his sister once. Bada hated boredom and loved trying new things. Knowing that… he didn’t even want to think about it.

“Hey!”

Her normal personality was starting to come out. The moment things started to go badly for her, she changed immediately from ‘bro’ to ‘hey’. Maru wanted to put his foot down as an older brother, but he just didn’t want to talk to her today.

“Date in college!”

“What about you?!”

“Fine, I’m an asshole! Go away!”

“You don’t even know what I was trying to say!”

Maru ignored his sister as she twisted the doorknob and threw his body into the blanket. He’ll go to school at dawn tomorrow for sure.

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