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Older brother, My Hero

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“Lieutenant Kang!”

My hand flew out, competing for the controller, but he was always faster. The channel was stuck on news channel, as he smacks the back of my hand away. I pouted, despite the stinging of my knuckles being nothing serious. To prove a point, though, I held my hand protectively and blew on my reddened skin.

Eventually, I let it go and let my arm hang off the edge of the arm rest. Guess watching the newest episode on 'Justice Prevails!' can wait.

He used to tease me about it being a kids show, but never brought up the topic again when I mentioned the older brother that had saved me during the fire.

For me, heroes weren’t fictional.

The real reason why I wanted nothing to do with what’s playing on television though, was that my eyesight had never been the same. Everything was mere shapes and blurry colors, unless they were right up in my face. Or, less than a meter away, in the Lieutenant's case, in this moment.

“I’m no longer your Lieutenant.”
The man responded in a matter-of-fact manner, eyes scanning the TV for highlights on the latest crimes. The sofa shifts as he leans back onto a cushion.

“But, sir! You will always be my role model, and lieutenant.” I catch him finally stealing a glance in my direction, and shoot him a grin. It’s true. Without him, I would still be in unit 1 of the Busan Police Precinct, or resigned to a wandering life, reconsidering how to carry out my justice.

Maybe it was a trick of the light, but I thought I saw Lieutenant Kang’s cheeks flush. However, when he spoke again, there were no signs of embarrassment.

“You’re a full fledged agent. There’s no reason to call me sir either.”

It was true, our relationship wasn't that of a boss and a subordinate like before. Although there was a sound reasoning to his words, old habits die hard. With the hand that he smacked, I rubbed the back of my neck, at a complete loss.

 

“Urh… How should I address you then?”

The man turned his head in my direction, purple ponytail whipped around as he does so.

“Think of that yourself, Kid.”

“Hey! I’m not a kid, I’m Chang Gyeong-Min!” Should he really be lecturing others on changing to appropriate titles when he’s using the same word to address me as back then? Come to think of it, I couldn’t recall if he had ever called me by that. It was always, “Hey”, “Rookie”, or “Kid”, sometimes I wonder if it was a cover up for forgetting my legal name.

Kid…..
An idea popped into mind.

“Then, how about..” I leaned closer to him, beaming. “Hyung!”

Hearing my words, Kang Baek-Ya blinked slowly. He likely wasn’t aware that his mouth was agape.

“Was that no good?” I felt my heart sink. Maybe, despite all we’ve been through, he still didn’t consider me close enough for me to address him like so.

But before I could chicken out and laugh about the fridge full of ice cream, a hand wrapped around my shoulder. Before I realized, I was already leaning against him. A faint whiff of nicotine, cologne, and bath soap entered my nostrils, as I feel familiarity in the scent.

It was so…. him.

 

“It’ll do.”

With the TV static as background, I began drifting to sleep on his shoulder.

Somehow, I thought I felt a gentle touch on my eyelids.