Red Mansion Chapter 17

Author: nicotine

Sung-kyung’s head lifted from the forceful grip on his hair. Sticky blood trickled down his cheek, smeared with cement dust. His unfocused gaze, swaying violently, eventually landed on the mold on the concrete wall. It felt as if his entire body was itching for no reason. However, he lacked the strength to scratch, even though his body felt uncomfortable.

“Where did you hide it? It’s better to answer before the twins arrive.”

“….”

“Drugs! Where did you hide them? Was it you?”

Lowering his head, the man took a breath near Sung-kyung’s neck. As the scent of blood wafted over, Sung-kyung forced his eyes open to meet dilated pupils. Helplessly, he continued to speak.

“Delivery, I did it properly….”

“Properly? The person who should receive it didn’t get it, is that proper?”

Due to the rough shaking caused by clenching and shaking the head, the pain resonated. The third flowerbed to the right of the elementary school gate. A man wearing blue sneakers. He remembered even the thing the man had shown with his fingers. He hadn’t made any mistakes.

“Delivery fee, give it to me. Damn it!”

It was clear that they were making a fuss about this nonsense because they didn’t want to part with the money. He even endured the smell of hot pepper oil and helped with the packaging. Now they were betraying him like this. Sung-kyung shot a resentful look at the man with swollen eye sockets, and his eyes gleamed black like coal beneath the swollen lids.

“Where do you get the nerve to threaten—”

“Good morning.”

At that moment, the rooftop door opened loudly, and an incongruous casual greeting was heard. Recognizing the person entering the rooftop, Leg stood up, seeming surprised as if he expected the twins to come.

Unlike Leg, Sung-kyung didn’t bother turning his face to confirm who it was. The voice alone was enough to identify him. The sticky wind carried the refreshing scent of Kwon Cheongrim. If it wasn’t an auditory hallucination, Kwon Cheongrim was undoubtedly there.

“Feeling good from the morning. Did you mess up people’s faces already?”

“Oh, this guy delivered something this morning, but he won’t speak. While it caused a commotion from the customer’s side, this damn guy keeps swearing that he didn’t steal anything…. We’re looking for the item right now.”

Leg explained, mixing in curses.

Sung-kyung felt unjustly accused. What could he possibly steal? If he did steal, he knew the consequences well. The man who could prove his innocence appeared before him, and yet Sung-kyung kept his mouth firmly shut.

“You cleaned up the trash like that. There’s still a shameless guy left?”

Cheongrim spoke with a disgusted tone. His eyes even showed a faint smile. Witnessing the man who delivered the drugs to the delivery location but stayed silent, it seemed as if Cheongrim was taking pleasure in acting out a play.

However, Sung-kyung didn’t mind. He even felt like joining in, starting a play of their own, matching tones and rhythms. Cheongrim kneeled and sat in front of the fallen Sung-kyung. The pleasant scent made Sung-kyung’s lips involuntarily loosen.

“Come on, let’s see the swollen face.”

Their eyes met, and Sung-kyung remarked on Cheongrim’s face even though he clearly knew who he was. Cheongrim grasped Sung-kyung’s hair and examined his face.

“Oh, smiling?”

A large palm lightly patted Sung-kyung’s cheek. The momentary warmth made his eyes heat up.

“Why are you smiling like you’re going to vomit? What’s so funny?”

Yesterday, he tried so hard to avoid the touch, but now, the hand tapping his cheek felt more leisurely than fierce. Sung-kyung willingly responded to Cheongrim’s cues. A secret shared only between them was taking shape.

“…I’ll take it.”

His mouth didn’t open wide, and the voice swallowed inwardly. He tilted his head and leaned closer.

“What? I can’t hear you well. Speak up.”

As Cheongrim touched Sung-kyung’s hair, he asked, “Oh, laughing?” The large palm gently tapped his cheek. Rather than being fierce, the hand was more relaxed. Sung-kyung willingly followed Cheongrim’s lead. A secret known only to the two of them was emerging.

“…I’ll accept it.”

What if he vomits? I’ll accept it, so that his clothes won’t get dirty.

It was the same conversation they had exchanged yesterday. If they were each other, in the cramped convenience store last night, it was an undeniable statement. Cheongrim lowered his head. Whether he was laughing or his broad shoulders twitched slightly was unclear.

“Everyone, get out.”

Those observing the situation from behind were each puzzled. Cheongrim’s gaze, turned over his shoulder, quickly grew cold.

“Get out. Unless you want to take his place.”

Even the casually upturned corners of his mouth stiffened, and his voice sank considerably. Cheongrim was different from the twins. The brothers displayed an anger that could be anticipated, treating residents with politeness and using formal language.

But Cheongrim was different. He issued commands without hesitation even to those who seemed much older than him. And he was more emotional. Changing his facial expression in the blink of an eye was not uncommon.

To avoid unnecessary sparks, pragmatism was necessary. The men who vacated the rooftop shot glances at Cheongrim, who stood firm.

Thud. The door closed, leaving only the two on the rooftop. Cheongrim carefully examined Sung-kyung’s disheveled face. Despite the wounds, blood, and dust sticking to him, he had a face that strangely suited all of that mess.

“Your injury looks really bad.”

“…”

“If you said you had been with me, you wouldn’t have been beaten like this.”

“Well, I didn’t want to say it.”

If he had just said that we were together, he might not have been slapped so recklessly. It might have made living here a bit easier in the future. Why didn’t he want to say it? Cheongrim lightly traced Sung-kyung’s jaw, meeting his swollen eyes and gaze.

“Why?”

“Rumors will spread, and… I’ll have to explain everything.”

Sung-kyung seemed a bit embarrassed. His already stained cheek turned even redder with the blood that rushed in.

“Why were we together? What we did… things like that.”

Whether he was recalling yesterday’s events, the tip of his tail shook for a moment. Cheongrim narrowed his eyes, staring at the intermittently trembling lips. The rooftop, where not a breath of wind blew, was excessively hot.

“Don’t imagine things. About that side of you. I dislike that…”

He was struck dumb. He behaved as if they were secret lovers engaged in an affair. They had simply shared the same car yesterday, and, just in case, had sex. What was the big deal?

Cheongrim was well past the age of feeling embarrassed about such things, and he wasn’t that kind of personality in the first place. Therefore, Sung-kyung’s response felt quite fresh. Despite behaving like something well-worn, was there a special reason for him to keep his mouth shut over such a trivial matter?

“Are you afraid those guys will have dirty thoughts about me or something?”

Sung-kyung hesitated for a moment, then nodded. It didn’t matter what others thought about him, but he didn’t want anyone having strange imaginations about Cheongrim. He didn’t like the idea of rumors circulating, and he despised the thought of others having weird thoughts about him. His reputation on Red Mansion was enough.

“Why would you imagine that while messing around with me?”

Cheongrim lightly pushed Sung-kyung’s forehead with his index finger. It was a very gentle touch, yet the head leaned back effortlessly and then returned to its original position.

“…My lower part is still hurting. It got ripped apart.”

“Haha.”

Laughter burst out unexpectedly. Despite the fact that he himself had imagined things, it seemed to remind him not to forget the fact that they had mixed their bodies together. Despite only being in his imagination, he had done the same actions. A faint sound closed Cheongrim’s mouth. He couldn’t say anything for a while.

“Crazy bastard.”

What was amusing was that he strangely liked this crazy guy.

“Get up.”

There were no tender gestures to soothe the injured areas. He didn’t know that such embarrassing actions even existed. Sung-kyung watched Cheongrim take out his phone from the back pocket without blinking an eye. He even managed to sit up alone and lend his ear to the call.

“Ah, you don’t have to come.”

Cheongrim rummaged through his pocket, searching for something. It seemed he couldn’t find what he wanted. He frowned slightly, licked his lips, and stood up.

“What’s that?”

With his hand in his pocket, he walked ahead. Sung-kyung, supporting himself with his hand, tried to follow him. Clearly, he wouldn’t wait, and he couldn’t afford to miss him.

“I’m the one who does that.”

Cheongrim felt around in his pocket, looking for something, but it was clear from his expression that he didn’t find what he was looking for. With a slight frown and a tongue click, he stood up.

“That?”

Putting his hand into his pocket, he walked ahead. Sung-kyung, placing his hand on the ground, tried to follow him. Cheongrim, looking back, tilted his head slightly. Still wearing a faint smile, Sung-kyung followed, raising the corners of his mouth. Cheongrim’s black pupils briefly touched Sung-kyung’s parted lips and then withdrew.

“Until now, do as you please.”

The rooftop door swung open. The men who had been beating Sung-kyung just moments ago were taken aback and quickly retreated as if someone had opened a storage room and cockroaches scattered everywhere.

“What the hell is this?”

Were they eavesdropping like mice? As Cheongrim muttered curses, the men smirked and slyly slinked away. Cheongrim passed by the path they cleared, continuing his call.

“Just now, you suddenly became interested.”

Sung-kyung exhaled a breath tainted with the scent of blood and moved forward. Around his ankle, resembling the shape of a leg, he limped, having become a pitiful sight. Annoyance filled Cheongrim’s touch as he paid attention to the shape of the toes while going down the stairs ahead of him. Impatience arose, urging him to quicken his pace.

“Anyway, don’t bother now.”

Cheongrim ended the call with a disinterested remark. Putting the phone back in his pocket, his touch was full of annoyance. Descending a couple of stairs, Cheongrim turned around.

“Hurry up.”

“…”

At those words, Sung-kyung quickly lifted his foot, and his leg expressed a peculiar look. Something’s strange about this situation. It didn’t make sense from the moment the person who stole the medicine walked out fine. Why is Kwon Cheongrim taking the convenience store with him? In response to the scrutinizing gaze, Cheongrim casually brushed his hair aside and flicked his hand toward Sung-kyung’s leg.

“That’s right. Deliver the medicine again. I’ll send more.”

“…Okay.”

His leg responded with a trembling expression. Something was off no matter how you looked at it. Even Sung-kyung, with a messed-up face, was smiling. Despite limping, the sight of him quickly following Cheongrim looked somewhat enjoyable. The two descended the stairs separately, yet together.

“…What’s going on? Did you burn where you hid it?”

“But why send more?”

Even among these nonsensical people, a small disturbance occurred. For those who lived in Red Mansion, delivering medicine was the only thing they did, and this unexpected development was hard to comprehend. Sung-kyung observed the two shadows descending the stairs for a long time.

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