Seo Hojin’s eyes widened as he held a toothbrush in his mouth.
The suddenly created “housewarming expedition team” was at my doorstep.
While driving the van, I asked several times, “No, really, why are you so curious about my house?” But the members just chuckled and didn’t give up.
“What’s going on, hyung? Why all of a sudden…?”
“Have you been well?”
Seo Hojin assumed that only I was there and frowned after looking through the slightly opened door crack.
He opened the door wide as if telling me to enter, raising question marks on his face as he looked at the army-like members behind me.
Seo Hojin just rolled his eyes at the sight of the members greeting him with bright smiles.
I muttered with resignation, “This is how it turned out.”
“Wow! Amazing! You do look alike.”
Jeong Dajun stared intently at Seo Hojin’s face in surprise.
I sighed deeply, pushed Hojin aside, and went inside with the members.
The members circled around Hojin, who was still brushing his teeth and unable to grasp the situation.
“Oh, you really do look like Hoyun’s younger brother.”
“A gentler impression?”
“What the… (What is this…)”
“Seo Hojin, go finish up in the bathroom.”
After rescuing Hojin from the members, I pushed him into the bathroom.
A moment later, he came out looking slightly less clueless.
“Hello! Sorry for the sudden intrusion.”
Hojin extended his hand.
And then, he glanced at me with a look of disbelief.
Hojin turned his gaze away and coughed discreetly.
“So… you’re hyung’s members, right?”
“Yes! That’s right.
My name is Kang Ichae.”
“I’m Seong Jiwon.”
“I’m Kim Seonghyeon.”
“I’m Jeong Dajun!”
Everyone introduced themselves with wide smiles.
Hojin accepted their greetings awkwardly.
“I’m Seo… Hojin.
Hoyun’s younger brother.”
“Ah, so you both have ‘Ho’ in your names!”
“How old are you?”
While answering the flood of questions, Hojin suddenly closed his mouth.
Ten years younger but the same age as me.
Everyone noticed the strangeness and tilted their heads.
I jumped in to clarify.
“I was born in January, and he was born in December.”
“Wow, I see.”
“But you still call each other hyung?”
“Are you crazy? Of course, I’m the hyung.”
Luckily, our birthdays were far apart.
The members plopped onto the sofa as soon as they entered the living room.
Hojin looked at the members and then headed to the kitchen.
“Would you like… something to drink?”
Things were getting noisy.
Everyone found a seat and settled down.
“Why does Hoyun’s younger brother look so gentle?”
He’s Seo Hoyun’s younger brother… how can he be normal?”
“Maybe the younger brother can be gentle because the hyung is like that?”
“You said my heart was tender earlier?”
“Did you really believe that?”
Hojin brought some juice and sat down.
Even while drinking the juice, the members continued to scrutinize Hojin.
I told them there wasn’t much to see in my house.
After the last member finished their juice, I stood up.
“Are you done?”
“Then get out.”
Just go without making a fuss.
I wanted to rest comfortably since I was home, but Jeong Dajun insisted on staying.
“I don’t want to! I want to look around more! I want to talk more with your younger brother!”
“Get out before I start cursing.”
“You’re already cursing with your eyes!”
“Seo Hojin, since we are the same age, should we talk casually?”
“Huh? Oh, sure.”
While I was dealing with Dajun, Seong Jiwon swiftly captivated Hojin.
With no choice, Hojin just rolled his eyes while talking casually with Jiwon.
“Are you a college student?”
“I’m in political science and diplomacy.”
“Since he’s hyung’s younger brother, he must be good at studying, right? Wow, that’s a university jacket!”
Dajun discovered the department jacket in the corner, and his eyes widened.
By the way, Seo Hojin and I were from the same school.
There was a ten-year gap, so he would sometimes tease me for being a fossil and then get hit afterward.
“Uh, I’m in the same school as my brother… Ah!”
I aimed my fist at the center of Seo Hojin’s head and gently struck him down since he still seemed out of it.
Hojin looked at me with an expression of injustice and grumbled.
“Your temper, seriously….”
“Feeling wronged? You shouldn’t have installed that stupid game, then.”
[What did I do to deserve this?!]
You, be quiet.
“Hyung… you’re still the same at home, huh?”
Kang Ichae looked at Hojin with a slightly pitiful expression.
Hojin grumbled with an annoyed face before suddenly turning to look at Ichae.
“Do you torment the members every day too?”
“How did you know?”
“Wow, he really acts like this everywhere.”
Hojin, happy to meet a fellow sufferer, started spilling TMI that no one asked for.
“He always tells me to turn off the lights and not stay up all night.”
And when we eat instant food, he nags us a lot.”
“He tells me not to do anything, but then he goes and does all these dangerous things without a word!”
Suddenly, the conversation went off on a tangent.
I wondered how far it would go, and in our living room, the bold “Seo Hoyun Backbiting (Frontbiting) Competition” unfolded.
As Hojin said something, the members revealed everything they had been holding back.
“He’s a total dictator!! He doesn’t talk and just carries out his plans!”
“But then he complains to me!”
“Exactly!! And then he does more!!”
“Did you guys come here to talk behind my back?”
I couldn’t help but mutter.
Even the previously shy Hojin seemed in high spirits, excitedly joining in the conversation before he met the members’ eyes.
‘Hey, you too?’
‘Yeah, me too.’
In the end, they all joined hands passionately.
“You must have gone through a lot…”
“No, you, Seo Hojin, have been going through this for 23 years….”
“It’s been a long time….”
As I got up while clicking my tongue, Hojin opened his eyes wide and asked.
“I quit a long time ago.”
“…You quit smoking?”
Hojin was appalled.
The members looked curiously at something interesting about to happen, but I decided to keep my mouth shut.
Feeling bored, I thought about raiding the fridge.
I rummaged through the freezer and took out some ice cream.
Unfortunately, there were no Babam O. How tasteless.
“Ah, so then you two live together? Living alone?”
“Are your parents in the countryside?”
I casually took out a few more strawberry ice creams and walked over, and the atmosphere felt like we had been close friends for almost ten years.
Suddenly, I stopped when I heard that question.
Ah, I didn’t mention it?
Hojin glanced at me, and I stuffed ice cream into the back of his neck.
Of course, I ignored Hojin’s screams.
“Our parents both passed away.”
It had been so long since it happened that I could answer indifferently.
I then sat on the sofa and scooped some ice cream, but the atmosphere somehow felt cold.
I couldn’t describe the expressions on the members’ faces.
Jeong Dajun lowered his head in embarrassment, not knowing what to do.
“I’m, I’m sorry.”
“No, no, it’s okay.
It’s been a long time….”
Hojin hastily waved his hands and then poked me.
“You still haven’t told them?”
“…It’s surprising to suddenly hear that.”
“Wow, Hojin, when did you grow up to have such a warm heart?”
“It’s annoying when you’re sarcastic… If it was someone else…”
“What? What did you say?”
“…You’re so handsome.”
As Hojin and I bickered over such trivial problems, dark clouds loomed heavily over the members’ heads.
I threw some ice cream at them and said,
“Hey, hey, cheer up.
Did you commit a major crime?”
“…I don’t know… I’m sorry.”
Seong Jiwon’s gaze swept over my left arm.
He must have been looking at the scar.
That traffic accident—the accident where I lost my parents—was where I got my scar.
Seong Jiwon’s face turned pale as he cautiously asked me.
“Is it okay for you to drive?”
“You know I drove the van to bring you guys here, right?”
“You guys kept begging me to bring you here.”
“…You really drove us here yourself?”
It was okay to drive.
It had been okay for a long time.
Hojin looked at me with a strange expression before scratching his head.
It’s such an old memory that we don’t even remember it well.
Um… and you came all the way here….”
Hojin glanced at me and suddenly faced the members with a strangely relaxed expression.
“Do you need anything?”
Kang Ichae raised his hand as if trying to break the ice.
“Please tell us the story of Hoyun’s first love!”
“I want to hear it.”
Laughter erupted among the members.
Are you a middle school student teasing a newly assigned student teacher?
What was even funnier was that Hojin seriously pondered the request and carefully chose his response.
“First love… I’m not exactly sure, but I think hyung was quite popular during high school.
A lot of people often asked me if I was his younger brother.”
“Hyung’s popularity dropped once they got to know his personality, though.”
“Ah, as expected~.”
“Hey, stop it.”
The members became more excited.
“Then I’ll listen to hyung’s dark history.”
“Has Hoyun ever been dumped?”
“As far as I know… Hyung never confessed first, right?”
There should have been.
“Ugh! So unlucky!”
“But he’s been dumped a lot while dating.”
“Wow, ahaha, why?”
“Why do you ask such an obvious question?”
“Ah, so it’s because of his personality…”
“Hey, where can you find someone as kind as me?”
“Where did you throw away your conscience, hyung?”
I slapped Seo Hojin’s forehead as he looked around, asking.
Seo Hojin had a wronged expression but still bravely answered the members’ questions.
When I told them about the day I returned with a swollen cheek after being slapped, everyone burst into laughter.
Evidently, their purpose for coming here was to hear about my dark history with a deep-seated resentment.
“I’m going to sleep!”
“Even if I say no, you still won’t listen.”
“How did you know?”
In the end, the members didn’t think about leaving because they found Seo Hojin’s stories so entertaining.
Having all my embarrassing past revealed in an instant, I gave up and went out to buy some candy because I felt left out.
When I returned, the party talking behind me was still going on.
“Aren’t you tired? Go get some sleep, please.”
“Ah~, director~, it’s so much fun~!”
“Hyung! Hojin-hyung, give me your number.
Let’s talk more later.”
“Alright, Ichae… If life gets tough, get in touch.
I’ll tell you lots of funny stories.”
“Give me your number too.”
Everyone grumbled but eventually lay down to sleep.
Youngsters these days were so energetic.
They finally closed their mouths after I urged them to hit the sack and sleep.
It feels like I’m taking care of five kids.
I was so tired that I was falling apart.
Since there wasn’t enough space for everyone to sleep in the living room, I brought Jeong Dajun to my room.
As we lay down, Dajun quietly started a conversation.
“Go to sleep.”
Are you already tired?”
I needed to sleep if I was going to work tomorrow.
Dajun’s laughter filled the dark room.
“Today was really fun.
Hojin-hyung is very funny.”
“Is that so…?”
I gave a vague answer and tried to close my eyes, but Dajun kept talking.
“Hojin-hyung said he was surprised since it was rare for you to bring someone home.”
“He said it seemed like you trust the members.”
Did Hojin say that? Come to think of it, I hardly ever let anyone into my house after my parents passed away.
Questions like “Where did your parents go?” always came up, and I didn’t want to see young Seo Hojin crying in the corner when I answered calmly.
“I felt sorry for you all this time… We trust you, but you don’t seem to trust us.
“I’m not worth much.
I’m not good at composing like Ichae-hyung, nor do I have a strong conviction like Seonghyeon-hyung.
I can’t sing as well as Jiwon-hyung either.”
Dajun unexpectedly said such things.
I never knew that this happy-go-lucky guy had those thoughts hidden inside him.
When I didn’t say anything, Dajun continued.
“So, I thought I’d never be able to help you in my life.
I wanted to at least be a useful member, but… I felt anxious because I couldn’t do that.”
“But after hearing that today, I felt relieved.
I thought you’d at least consider me within your boundaries.”
I sighed upon hearing that.
“Jeong Dajun… Are you an idiot?”
“Why are you worthless?”
Of course, there was a time when I thought so.
I thought carefully.
Dajun was a fool.
Just when I thought he knew me reasonably well, he acted like a complete idiot.
“Do you not remember being the center in Glow? Your image was very important.”
Also, trusting people well and following them well, that’s a great talent.”
“…Is that a talent?”
In the 21st century, it was.
Dajun asked again with a trembling voice.
“But I trusted too much and got kicked because of the contract this time.”
“That’s the fault of the person who deceived you.”
“…I thought I disappointed you.”
I turned my body toward Dajun while lying down.
…If I didn’t like you, would I have gone that far to take care of you?”
I’ve been like that since the sports competition.
Honestly, I would have ignored them if it were someone else.
But when Dajun, whom I had been fond of, was ignored by others, I snapped.
Even with the double-exclusive contract issue, I didn’t have to go that far.
I could have just gently persuaded the CEO to take the penalty, even if the circumstances were dubious.
But I cared.
“Darn, it’s easier since you’ve admitted it.”
“Let’s sleep if you’ve said everything.”
“…Did you know?”
The question was asked over the rustling sound of the blanket.
“The reason Wisu Entertainment terminated the contract in less than two days.”
“Someone advised me to do it, remember?”
He mentioned it during the first MV shoot, and I couldn’t forget it.
I had looked closely at Jeong Dajun several times since Kim Seonghyeon’s scenario was completed, all because of that remark.
Hesitating momentarily, Dajun cautiously raised the question he’d been hiding all this time.
“… Was it you, Hyung?”
I remained silent for a while.
At that moment, a system window floated above my head.
[Some memories are unlocked.]
‘Why go there?’
‘If I were your senior in school, I would’ve taken you out even by force.’
I first overheard this conversation in a cafe near the broadcasting station.
I didn’t catch the entertainment company’s name, but the contract method sounded like a scam.
Looking at Dajun’s face, which seemed much younger than a middle school student, I said that at the time.
‘So, think it through again.’
As I tried to answer, Dajun smiled bitterly, looking a bit older than before.
“… It doesn’t make sense, does it? That person was from the broadcasting station.
They even had a staff ID badge… but I don’t remember the face well, though.”
“Hey, just forget about it, hyung.”
It was too late for me to say it was true.
Dajun grinned and pulled the blanket up to his neck.
Before falling asleep, he forced his words out through the overwhelming drowsiness.
“Anyway… you practically saved me.
I’ll definitely repay your kindness.
I’ll really do my best.
In practice, in activities, in everything.”
Dajun appeared at the edge of my vision.
He seemed just naïve, but he had concerns too and wanted to repay my kindness.
He relied on me a lot.
“I’ll do well.”
[You gained Jeong Dajun’s complete trust.
Infamy points decrease.
You’ve heard all of Jeong Dajun’s past.
Non-disclosure is lifted.]
I turned over and sat up on the bed.
Dajun had already fallen asleep.
“Are you asleep?”
No answer came back.
I let out a hollow laugh.
Dajun, who had fallen into a deep sleep less than a minute after covering himself with the blanket, snored softly.
“Is it because he’s young…”
He fell asleep so quickly.
Above him, a system window floated.
[Jeong Dajun, The Dawn’s youngest sub-dancer]
[Notes: Jeong Dajun escaped from a fraudulent entertainment company with Player Seo Hoyun’s help and safely became a member of The Dawn.
With Seo Hoyun’s help, Jeong Dajun severs ties with the corrupt entertainment company and will work hard to be a source of support for the members.
Main scenario 33% complete!
Proceeding to the next main chapter.]
I… felt uneasy.
Strangely, the phrase “proceeding to the next main chapter” didn’t feel as welcoming as before.
Maybe it was because a warning light turned on in my head, realizing I had given these guys more affection than I thought.
“Dajun, don’t trust me too much.”
But I won’t change.
After all, I had to leave this place.
As if I never existed in this world, as if I had nothing to do with these guys from the beginning.
Looking down at Dajun, who naively trusted me and made up his mind without knowing such a truth, I mumbled.
“Hyung’s kind of trash.”
 In case you’re wondering, Hoyun’s name in Korean is 호윤, while Hojin’s is 호진.
They both share 호.
 He’s probably referring to Babam Bar (바밤바).
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