Chapter 2: Childhood (2)


That’s how Sien and I started meeting every three days.


She was always the first to arrive and wait for me at the agreed meeting place.


I wondered how early she came, as it was always her who waited for me.


While eating the bread she brought from home, I learned many things about her.


Sien was 9 years old, two years younger than me.


Although not aristocratic, she grew up in a wealthy house.
Both her parents were doctors.


Considering how rare it was to have both parents as doctors, I found it surprising.


As I suggested, she brought food every time we met.
She also told me that all of that food was secretly brought.


There were also some parts where my expectations for her were different.


Contrary to what I thought, that she would be bright and have many friends, she grew up somewhat lonely.


“I'm the only one?”


You're my only friend, Berg.”


She shyly revealed this during our third meeting.


“I used to get sick often, so I didn't have time to make friends.”




“But when I saw you, I went 'wow!' and couldn't let you slip away.”


“What does 'wow' mean?”


“I don't know.
But I went 'Wow.'”


She was overjoyed by the fact that we became friends.


Perhaps that’s why she didn't realize that our relationship wasn't normal.


Friends don't snatch food from each other.


They don't just listen without reacting like I do.


Our relationship was one-sided, with no reciprocation, but Sien was content with just that, always chirping next to me.


She had many interesting stories;


Stories of shaking hands with a brave little wolfman in the neighboring city she followed her parents to,


Stories of seeing a statue of a dragonkin warrior,


Stories about a demon king who existed two hundred years ago,


Stories of an aged elf chief who disregarded her,


Stories of seeing a dwarf of similar height crafting jewelry…


She had so many interesting stories that made me wonder if there was a reason for her to meet me.


She seemed to have traveled a lot, perhaps due to how wealthy she was.


And every time I listened to her stories, I could truly feel the vast distance between us.


“You were sick, so how did you travel so much?”


“I traveled because I was sick.
I had to move around to get treatment.
But I'm okay now.
I don't get sick often these days.”




“Don't you have any interesting stories?”


I shrugged in response to Sien's question.


It wasn't that I found her bothersome.


I simply had nothing to say.


The stories I could share were neither bright nor interesting like hers.


At best, I had stories of fighting with someone, getting injured, or doing something foolish with Flint and Max.


Our worlds were too different.


However, Sien kept trying to blend in with me.


As a result, there were several aspects that she had to tolerate to be with me.


First, the place where we met.


It wasn't exactly a slum, but we met in a place where people didn't come often.


It was entirely because of me.


I didn't know if it would be the same with Sien by my side, but even whenever I left the slums alone, people pointed fingers at me and avoided me.


It was somewhat natural, considering that people from the slums were known for stealing things, but there were also many who found us inherently dirty and repulsive, like cockroaches.


If I foolishly crawled out to a brighter place with Sien, I didn't know what kind of trouble we might encounter.


The guy from the slum, I, might be grabbed by the village elders and accused of approaching an innocent girl, only to be beaten right there.


That's why the place where we met was a bit messy and dark, but Sien seemed to have no complaints as long as she could be with me.


“Is it delicious?”


She was even concerned about whether the food she brought tasted any good.




And as time went by, whenever I saw her kindness, a conscience that I didn't know existed would prick me.


I am using her.


I am filling my stomach by taking advantage of her.


She sees me as her only friend, but I don't see her as a friend.


Every time I saw her innocent smile, the food wouldn't go down my throat.
Even though the food she brought was softer and more delicious than any other food.


It was somewhat natural for me to change a little after experiencing these emotions.


In order to respond to her pure sincerity, I gradually tried to think of her as a friend.


Our unnatural relationship continued for about two months, and by the time we became comfortable with each other, when I no longer accepted food from her, I started introducing Sien to the entertainment of the slums.


After all, friends do enjoyable things together, right?


“Here, watch.


Isn't this a bit mean?”


Through the window on the second floor, Sien said with a worried expression as she watched me find my next target to spit on among the numerous people passing through the alley.




Seeing her expression, which showed no enjoyment at all, my enthusiasm also waned.


Without a word, I spat the saliva on the ground nearby and made her wait there for a moment.


Then, I fetched water in a small bowl and tried again.


Watch again.”


Instead of spitting, I splashed the water down.


“Ah, it's cold!”


The person passing by looked up in surprise as the water drenched his neck, and Sien and I hid behind the window.


Compared to spitting, it wasn't as fun or risky, but Sien held her breath and closed her eyes as if something big was about to happen.




And as I looked at her like that, I realized that this was much more fun than spitting.


Unconsciously, a smile appeared on my face.


“It's okay now.”


As I spoke, Sien opened her eyes wide and looked up at me.


Looking down again, the street was full of people laughing at the person drenched in water.


Seeing that no one was displeased with my prank, Sien finally smiled brightly and said, “This is really fun, Berg…!”


As I began to genuinely treat her as a friend, we quickly became close at an unbelievable speed.


Her presence was comfortable, and it no longer felt like an unnatural relationship.


Like Max and Flint, she also felt like another one of my friends.


We spent a year together like that.


And when she turned 10, she declared.


“Berg! I think it's not enough to just be friends.”




“I don't know because I don't have any other friends, but… aren't we closer than other friends?”


I pondered for a moment, wondering if that was true, and it seemed like it was.




When asked why she said this, she blinked her eyes and avoided my gaze.
She hesitated, biting her fingers.


It was a habit that surfaced whenever she was nervous.


“…Let's become best friends.”


After a long pause, those were the words she spoke.


I couldn't understand her hesitation, wondering what the difference was.


“What changes if we become best friends?”


“It's different…!”


She suddenly let out a frustrated sigh.


“When we're best friends, you have to prioritize me above anyone else! And I'll do the same…!”


As we grew closer, I started teasing her more often.


For some reason, her irritated appearance made me laugh, making me want to tease her even more.


“I have no intention of being best friends with a bed-wetter.”


“What? Berg-“


“-Besides, I'll be the only one at a loss.
You don't have any other friends anyway.”




However, at that joke, Sien's expression quickly darkened.


She couldn't argue back at all and blinked her eyes, looking lost.






She couldn't even answer my call and pursed her lips.
Without a moment's hesitation, she turned her body and left.


I hurriedly grabbed her departing figure and patted her gently.


“Hey, Sien…! It was just a joke, why are you like this?”


Did I cross the line?


Sometimes I forget.
She's not from the slums.
I should regulate the level of pranks accordingly as well.


The fact that she had no friends might have been a sensitive topic.


To comfort her, I spoke.


“You were sick.
How could you make friends-“


“-Do you have someone closer to you than me?”


But the words she spoke surprised me.




“Do you…
have a friend more precious than me?”


She frowned anxiously, as if she was disappointed not because I joked that she had no friends, but because I rejected the offer to become best friends.


As I looked at her like that, I let out a long sigh.


With that sigh, the tension surrounding us dissipated.


Erasing the mischievous expression from my face, I smiled and said, “Let's become best friends.”


“If you're lying to ease the anger-“


“It's not like that, Sien.”


I was sincere.


Because of her, I felt myself brighten as I saw a world I hadn't experienced before.


I had begun waiting for the day I would meet her as well.


Max and Flint might feel resentful, but I made my decision.


“Let's become best friends.”


At those simple words, a big smile spread across Sien's lips, and tears welled up in her eyes.


Holding onto me tightly, she was overjoyed.


Perhaps at that time, I underestimated the power of the term 'best friends.'


Contrary to what I thought, that becoming best friends wouldn't bring much change, we became even closer.


The frequent meetings were proof of that.


We went from meeting every three days to every two days, then to every day.


We ate together, washed together, and lived together, playing many pranks.


Max and Flint expressed their dissatisfaction with my behavior, but I didn't listen.


I only had the thought of prioritizing my best friend in my mind.
I only wanted to meet Sien.


I couldn't help it.
When I was with her, I could escape the gloomy atmosphere of the slums.


Just seeing Sien's smiling face made all my worries disappear.


And so, another year passed.


We had been friends for two years now…


And best friends for one year.


In the year when Sien turned 11 and I turned 13…


Sien's parents passed away in an accident.


She too became an orphan like me.

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