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    Loves Error

    #025

    On his questioning face was an inexplicable confidence. Though he couldn’t say it out loud, Ha-gyeom had never doubted for a moment that he and Baek Sa were destined for each other.

    What is fate, really? If he was willing to give his life for him, that was enough. Ha-gyeom had gained a new life because of him, and he was sure he wouldn’t hesitate to return it when the time came.

    Moreover, their matching rate was an astounding 99 percent. Knowing the name and age of such an esper was only natural.

    “I’ve never seen or heard of a 99 percent matching rate.”

    Ha-gyeom argued, picking the least important of the many reasons he could have chosen.

    Baek Sa’s gaze, ignited by the confrontation, didn’t waver easily. His eyes flickered with interest. Unable to endure the relentless stare, Ha-gyeom looked away first.

    “So why did you have a rampage? A person like you wouldn’t lack guides….”

    Feeling cornered, Ha-gyeom asked with an attacking intent. Baek Sa withdrew his hand from Ha-gyeom’s chin and frowned. He spoke as if revealing a vulnerability.

    “I’m cursed. I can’t just take anyone.”

    The meaning was unclear. Ha-gyeom had seen Baek Seung-woo mingling with various guides under the pretext of guiding. Whether it was for guiding or something else, there were always people eager to spend a night with him. It was hard to believe.

    “No matter how low the matching rate is, a rampage could be prevented, right? Even a 50 percent rate would be enough to manage….”

    Ha-gyeom’s condition was worsening. Grasping at straws, he clutched at Baek Sa’s jacket. Baek Sa didn’t stop him and answered.

    “There was one before.”

    “……”

    “I had a rampage because they died.”

    His face, speaking dryly, showed no signs of sympathy. Even if they were just a colleague, there should have been some impact, but he was as calm as if reading a fact from an article.

    “Who was that person?”

    The one who grew cold was Ha-gyeom. For a moment, something passed through his body like a piercing stab. He disliked the idea. Unlike at the center, the thought that there was a dedicated guide he didn’t know about bothered him.

    “Is this an interrogation?”

    Only then did Baek Sa step back. His sudden attitude change when the guide topic came up, after answering straightforwardly until then, was even more irritating. Ha-gyeom sensed his gradually quickening breath and glared at Baek Sa.

    “Do you remember? When you had a rampage.”

    He was referring specifically to their guiding.

    “Every minute, every second, I remember.”

    Just mentioning it seemed to draw something out. Ha-gyeom felt as if Baek Sa’s energy was pulling him in.

    But contrary to that intense feeling, Baek Sa’s demeanor didn’t change. He simply gazed at Ha-gyeom with calm eyes.

    “If you’ve gotten everything you wanted, how about continuing on our way?”

    His face, checking his wristwatch, showed a hint of annoyance. Ha-gyeom’s pride was wounded. Forcing himself to gather his emotions, he straightened up from leaning against the wall, and Baek Sa habitually extended his hand.

    “I can walk on my own.”

    “…Suit yourself.”

    Baek Sa put his extended hand into his pocket.

    * * *

    Each ability user at the center had their own designated room. Especially after shedding their trainee status and becoming full team members, having a personal space was taken for granted.

    However, as soon as Ha-gyeom entered the living quarters of the ability users in District 0, he was struck by an unexpected sense of déjà vu. It seemed no different from the infirmary where he had first woken up in this place.

    “Finally, you’re here.”

    “That’s… him?”

    Baek Sa opened the door, and Ha-gyeom stepped inside, his eyes trembling. It wasn’t even a private room; it was a place devoid of basic human rights.

    The room resembled the victim shelter that young Ha-gyeom had despised so much. Beds were lined up in a row, and the windows near the ceiling were no more than 30 centimeters high, allowing little sunlight to enter.

    At least thirty ability users, both Espers and guides, seemed to be staying here. Just thinking about living in such a place made his head ache.

    “What’s so special that Baek Sa himself brought him here?”

    “Are you dumb? They say their matching rate is 100, 100! Even I would stick with him.”

    “It’s 99 percent, not 100.”

    “Who cares? As an S-class, he’s bound to get drained to his soul anyway.”

    Seeing Baek Sa appear behind Ha-gyeom, everyone had something to say or mutter. It seemed rumors about him had already spread. The dyed-hair Esper who had fought with Han Youngjae was standing right in front of him, leaving no doubt.

    Determined, Ha-gyeom clenched his fists. He wasn’t a powerless nine-year-old anymore, and he couldn’t whine about wanting to leave to someone who barely seemed like Baek Seung-woo.

    “Which bed should I use?”

    Ha-gyeom asked Baek Sa, who was standing beside him. Baek Sa gestured towards the third bed on the far right line. He had no belongings since he was dragged here, but he needed clean clothes, as he was soaked in dirty water.

    However, he thought it wouldn’t be wise to bother Baek Sa, who was clearly of a different caliber than the other ability users here. If rumors spread about him receiving special treatment due to their matching rate, his communal life would only become more difficult.

    So, he was about to ask one of the people he made eye contact with when Baek Sa stopped him. Being honest, he said:

    “…I need to wash up. As you can see, I’m in this state.”

    His teeth chattered from the cold. Baek Sa, looking at the noisy ability users, started walking along the path to the far right of the door.

    Ha-gyeom followed him like a drenched puppy, feeling everyone’s gaze on him.

    “Poor Ah-rang. Who knew a replacement would show up so quickly?”

    He heard unfamiliar names here and there but didn’t pay much attention. Ah-rang? Were they talking about Baek Seung-woo’s previous dedicated guide?

    Curious but unable to ask, Ha-gyeom walked with his chin up, determined not to lose in a battle of wills. He occasionally heard sneers and curses.

    The shower room was at the far end. Considering it almost like a shelter, he was grateful that there were partitions. Baek Sa walked to the innermost part and lifted the partition.

    “…Clothes?”

    Ha-gyeom asked as he stepped into the partitioned area. Baek Sa gestured towards the entrance. A child, who appeared to be an attendant, approached with a quick step. The child carried white underwear, a t-shirt, and black training pants.

    Despite the child’s bright expression, the buzz cut made Ha-gyeom feel a wave of revulsion. Taking the clothes, he bit his chapped lips.

    “Thanks.”

    The child nodded and left. Ha-gyeom couldn’t look kindly at the child. He glared at Baek Sa.

    “Are you going to keep watching?”

    Baek Sa chuckled and stepped away from the partition. Even though he was no longer in sight, Ha-gyeom’s heart raced, and heat rose. Ha-gyeom pulled off his clinging t-shirt and added:

    “I need medicine too. I might get a fever otherwise.”

    He shivered as he took off his underwear and pants. The mixture of frustration and anger engulfed him, and it was almost a relief that his old feelings for Baek Seung-woo were fading.

    He had lost his memory.

    He is not Baek Seung-woo.

    Therefore, it was simpler to acknowledge that he meant nothing to Baek Seung-woo. There was no need to try to impress him or hide the emotions he had nurtured since childhood.

    Without waiting for Baek Sa’s response, Ha-gyeom turned on the faucet. Water poured over his head. The water pressure wasn’t invigorating, but it was warm, and there was even soap, which he hadn’t expected, so he couldn’t complain.

    “Come to my room every Friday night at midnight.”

    The sudden intrusion of his voice made Ha-gyeom turn sharply. Through the translucent partition, he could see Baek Sa’s silhouette with his arms crossed.

    “…You’re still here?”

    Ha-gyeom wasn’t dumb. He knew why Baek Sa was saying that. Frequent, regular guiding sessions were most effective.

    “Resistance is futile, so let’s not waste energy on unnecessary things.”

    If Baek Sa’s words had sounded flirtatious, he would have been angry, but since he sounded genuinely bothered, Ha-gyeom just gritted his teeth. Since Baek Seung-woo’s previous dedicated guide was dead, if he didn’t step in, Baek Sa might have another rampage.

    Ha-gyeom accepted it but didn’t bother to respond. There was a saying about silent agreement. Instead, he rubbed the scanty soap lather over his body while glancing at the partition.

    Despite finishing his business, Baek Sa didn’t leave. Ha-gyeom, unable to bear it, stuck his head out of the partition.

    “Why aren’t you leaving?!”

    Baek Sa frowned and replied.

    “You have one hell of a temper, damn it.”

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