“Let’s read in bed.”
He took her hand and led her to the bed. He settled down first and spread her legs, and said,
“Can’t we read side by side?”
“If we read like that, our neck’s will hurt.”
“I suppose so.”
She did as he said and sat down between his legs. His stomach touched her back, and it occurred to her that his legs were much longer when he spread and stretched his legs. Perhaps that’s why Aselia felt like she had to curl up and put the book on her knees; she felt like her legs were very short.
“Can you read it like that?”
“Are you comfortable like that?”
He also focused on her book, which was on her lap. Aselia was suddenly aware and wondering if his head near her shoulder was reading a similar section.
He said with a big smile as she answered twice in surprise.
“You smell like my soap.”
Aselia was suddenly reminded that the scent left on her body was because she had washed in the shower with the detergent thanks to Alexis’ Z Class card. Maybe that’s why he felt a kinship with the same scent.
“I want to lean back on you.”
“It would be my pleasure.”
She leaned against his chest and read the book. Kalisten’s flat, hard chest moved a little with each breath he took, and Aselia felt a rare ease that was about to lull her to sleep.
He looked at the book as long as she did. Aselia, who spent about an hour comfortably reading the book, started to doze off at some point.
Kalisten did not wake her as she leaned against his chest and slept. Instead, he gently took the book from Aselia’s hand and put it on the bed. Then, with his arms around her, he slowly laid her down on the bed.
“Sweet dreams, Aselia.”
“Huh… . Kal… .”
Even the words she answered in her slumber were beautiful, so Kalisten smiled brightly and locked her in his arms as he watched her.
⚜ ⚜ ⚜
It was several hours later when Aselia opened her eyes.
He must have gone to an experiment while she was asleep because he was covered in blood again. But he didn’t approach the bed where she was, and he crouched down and turned around, squeezing his body into the closet.
“D-don’t come any closer.”
His voice was pale again.
“What experiment did you undergo today?”
When Aselia went near him, he knew he smelled thickly of the iron smell of blood. But she headed to the closet without hesitation, worried Kalisten might be hurt.
“You can’t come any closer.”
His voice was trembling.
Aselia had no intention of listening to him. Because if he was hurt, she wanted to treat him.
“Kal, please look at me and show me your face. I’m so worried that you might be hurt.”
Despite her words, he continued to be curled up. Aselia put her hands on his back.
“Will you look at me?”
she asked, pressing down on the still-damp stains of blood that clung to his clothes.
“Don’t come near me.”
She thought about turning on the light but then decided it would be better not to turn it on.
Aselia suddenly wondered how long he had been there while she was asleep. She had just woken up but noticed dried bloodstains beneath her feet.
If so, it might have been trembling in the closet for quite some time.
“Kal, I’m in pain.”
Then he turned around.
At that moment, Aselia saw his torn forehead, blistered lips, and blank eyes.
“Did they give you a lot of drugs?”
“Today I… .”
“Yes, I am listening.”
Aselia didn’t know what kind of experiment he was subjected to, which made him more fearful than usual. After all, even though he fainted in the experiments she had participated in, he had never looked so frightened.
“I… I don’t want to talk about it.”
He looked at Aselia and said so.
She understood the feeling. Aselia sat down on the dresser and hugged him around the neck.
“Yes, it’s all right. Talk only when you feel like talking.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“Yes, it’s okay, Kal. It’s okay.”
She patted him and hugged him. He rested his head on Aselia’s slender shoulder, accepting the warmth she gave.
“Yes, I will.”
“Yes, I forgive you.”
As he continued to tremble, Aselia patted him with more care.
She stayed by his side until the night became morning.
By the time morning came the narcotics had worn off and the sleeping pills took effect once he realized she was by his side, comforting him. He slowly closed his eyes.
Even when his eyes closed, and he passed out, he didn’t let go of Aselia’s hand, so she slept in his closet, the two hugging each other.
When Aselia opened her eyes again—
She was alone with the deputy director standing in front of her.
“I found something very interesting?”
The deputy director had Aselia’s necklace.
As if finding the ridiculous spectacle amusing, she laughed cruelly at Aselia as she peered at her.
Unmistakably, she was a woman.