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    Part 3

    [TL/N: Therianthrope → Beastman]

    Yoon Chi-young returned to the car and climbed into the back seat. As soon as he was on board, the car smoothly exited the parking lot.

    Even then, Heeseong’s heart was still racing. He felt satisfied for having gotten one over on Kwon Ki-hyuk. It was clear that he, too, was fundamentally a bastard at heart.

    He was savoring that feeling when Yoon Chi-young’s unnecessary question came.

    “Did I do well?”

    Heeseong ignored Yoon Chi-young’s words. He simply lay across Yoon Chi-young’s thighs, staring blankly elsewhere. Now that he was in a good mood, he wanted to quietly reminisce about the sound of Kwon Ki-hyuk’s bones breaking.

    “But… why did you spill soup on that guy’s thing earlier? Were you interested?”

    Yoon Chi-young’s voice dropped as if he felt slighted. Although he was certainly making full use of his handsome face, Heeseong never looked up at him. He was annoyed by his good looks.

    “Mine’s bigger than his, you know…”

    ‘Ack!’

    He shuddered at the unwanted revelation, trying to cover his ears with his front paws. But his legs were too short, making it difficult. He didn’t want to know anything about that, whether it was about his thing or whatever else.

    “Why? Are you jealous?”

    As if there was anything to be jealous of. Tired of swearing, Heeseong didn’t even pretend to listen and just strained to block his ears. But Yoon Chi-young wasn’t the type to shut up just because the other person wasn’t listening.

    “I didn’t mean to look at it on purpose. He’s the one going around asking everyone to suck it off.”

    Heeseong clenched his tiny canine teeth at the unwelcome explanation.

    When he recovers and turns back into a human, he’ll definitely sew that mouth shut. Heeseong firmly resolved.

    ***

    Among beastmen, the bond between them was even more crucial than among humans.

    This was because a beastman who had reverted to their true form due to an injury needed the help of their pack without fail.

    ‘Ah, my ear itches.’

    Having turned back into a puppy, Heeseong especially needed the touch of his kin. Already unable to use his hands, which was inconvenient enough, his ears, half-folded, were prone to ear infections and often itched. Moreover, with an injured hind leg, he couldn’t scratch as usual with his back foot.

    Eventually, Heeseong sought out Yoon Chi-young. When in need, one must borrow even the hand of a cannibalistic wolf.

    The puppy went out to the spacious terrace. There, Yoon Chi-young was smoking—apparently unconcerned because his house was on the top floor—and Heeseong tugged at the hem of his pants. Yoon Chi-young, who had been looking at documents on a tablet, willingly looked down at the puppy.

    “Hmm?”

    ‘My ear, my ears are itchy.’

    Heeseong vigorously rubbed his ear with his front paw. It was unbearably itchy. Until now, his brother regularly cleaned his ears, so it was manageable, but since coming to Yoon Chi-young’s house, he hadn’t been able to clean his ears once.

    The biggest problem was the lack of communication.

    “Do you want to be held?”

    ‘No, hey.’

    “Oh, want a pet? A kiss?”

    Boom!

    Heeseong finally exploded in frustration. He pushed Yoon Chi-young’s lips away with his front paw, desperately avoiding the kiss.

    The frustration of not being able to communicate was too great. Among beastmen of the same kind, some communication was possible even when reverted to their true form. Though they couldn’t form complete sentences, they could convey two or three key words through body language.

    However, even between a dog and a wolf, the body language used was completely different. It was like meeting a foreigner who spoke a different language. In fact, among beastmen, wolves were particularly secretive with their body language, making it difficult to communicate with other beastmen.

    Yoon Chi-young, seemingly just as curious, made a call somewhere.

    “Is Young-bae there? Tell him to come up.”

    According to Heeseong, today was the weekend, but it seemed the gangsters had no days off. A few minutes later, a robust man entered Yoon Chi-young’s house. He looked intimidating with his stern demeanor and piercing eyes, but he was a gang member with surprisingly delicate hands. Heeseong knew this because the man had once put a pin in his hair, which he immediately removed.

    Yoon Chi-young, smiling mischievously, gestured with his eyes towards the puppy on the terrace table to Ji Young-bae.

    “Are you from the canine tribe?”

    “Yes.”

    “What is the puppy saying?”

    ‘Do you understand me?’

    Heeseong looked at Ji Young-bae without much hope. It was suspicious that he was working under wolves, despite being from the canine tribe.

    Moreover, as a member of the canine tribe, Ji Young-bae might have noticed that Heeseong was not just a puppy but a beastman. There was some level of communication between beastmen of the same kind and animals. However, since animals had lower intelligence compared to beastmen, communicating with them was akin to talking to a 5-year-old from the perspective of a beastman. Being too communicative could risk revealing his identity, so it was best to be cautious with his actions.

    Just then, his ear itched like crazy again. Desperate, Heeseong rubbed his ear with his front paw and grumbled.

    ‘Please, clean my ear.’

    This time, he showed very precise body language. Then, Ji Young-bae seriously reported to his boss.

    “F*ck!’

    There must have been a communication error, perhaps because they weren’t from the same region of the canine tribe. Surprisingly, even among beastmen in their true forms, communication could be difficult if they were from different regions. It was like encountering someone who spoke a heavy dialect.

    Despite the translation error, Yoon Chi-young lifted Heeseong close to his face, as if he found him adorable, and looked into his eyes.

    “Ah, want your ear touched? Does our puppy like having his ears touched?”

    “……”

    The resigned puppy gave up on both responding and attacking. Now, Heeseong longed for his brother for a different reason.

    As far as Heeseong remembered, Yoon Chi-young had perky black wolf ears. Born with well-ventilated ears, he wouldn’t understand the plight of folded ears. Resigned to his unfortunate genetics, Heeseong lay sprawled on the table, defeated. Then, Yoon Chi-young gently touched the puppy’s ears.

    But there was an unexpected find. As Yoon Chi-young habitually flipped the puppy’s ears, he discovered something.

    “Isn’t this an ear infection?”

    “Uh…”

    Ji Young-bae and Yoon Chi-young’s gaze converged on the puppy’s ears. As the two men looked down at the puppy, roughly the size of their fists, Heeseong felt a sense of danger. However, he stayed still, wanting to draw attention to his dirty ears. It was humiliating and sad, but his heart was desperate.

    “We need to clean his ears.”

    ‘You got it!’

    Fortunately, perhaps because they were from the same canine family, Yoon Chi-young understood what was needed.

    Yoon Chi-young stood up, tucking the puppy under his arm. After washing his hands, he sat on the living room sofa and poured out the contents of a paper bag that had been placed in a corner. Numerous pet supplies were spread out on the table, all of them brand new and still in their packaging.

    ‘…Am I not going to a pet shop?’

    He had secretly hoped to meet a gentle-handed lady at the pet shop. But now, the gangster in front of him was fiddling with ear cleaning tools. The puppy looked up at Yoon Chi-young with fearful eyes.

    Feeling the gaze, Yoon Chi-young turned and smiled smoothly, lifting the corners of his mouth.

    “We’re going to live together forever, so I should do it now.”

    “……”

    It was a bright smile, but to Heeseong, it seemed like the smile of a villain. It was clear that this guy already knew what he hated the most.

    Soon, a cotton swab drenched in ear cleaning solution was probing into the puppy’s ear. As Yoon Chi-young gently rubbed the swab, the squishing sound made the puppy’s expression relax.

    ‘Ah, ha.’

    Though he hated to admit it, Yoon Chi-young’s ear cleaning skills were much better than his brother’s. The touch was gentle, and he cleaned with the delicacy of touching a gemstone. He spent more time cleaning Heeseong’s ears than he did looking at documents.

    Taking it further, Yoon Chi-young also meticulously cleared the puppy’s eye boogers and even offered praise and treats for something that wasn’t a big deal.

    “Good job. Here, some snacks.”

    “……”

    Boom. Heeseong glared at him while munching on the dried sweet potato treat. Yoon Chi-young then set the puppy down on the plush carpet.

    Limping towards the full-length mirror, Heeseong sat down in front of it, feeling complex emotions.

    ‘F*ck this. I’m… actually satisfied…’

    It was the fourth day since Heeseong arrived at Yoon Chi-young’s place, making it a week including the three days he had been unconscious. During this time, Heeseong realized that he had indulged in luxury and his appearance had significantly changed.

    Reflected in the mirror was a version of himself he had never seen before. His white fur gleamed, and his previously thin body had gained some weight. His face, usually grimy with tear stains, was clean, and his black eyes sparkled with vitality. Seeing his improved condition despite causing trouble made him feel guilty towards his brother.

    He missed his brother, but… it was the first time he had rested to his heart’s content since he started working. To the point where he slightly dreaded returning.

    ‘Are you outta your mind, Heeseong?’

    No matter what, he couldn’t be satisfied with the care of a cannibalistic wolf.

    Heeseong belonged to the canine tribe, which valued their pack. He had a place he must return to. Even if it meant suffering from the consequences of losing the drugs upon his return…

    ‘Pull yourself together. This isn’t my home.’

    He needed to escape from Yoon Chi-young. Reinforcing his resolve, Heeseong took a snake plush toy, imagining it as Yoon Chi-young, and ferociously bit into it. He then vowed to recover as soon as possible and return to his brother.

    However, deep down, Heeseong thought it wouldn’t be too bad if his recovery took a little longer.

    ***

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