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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot Episode 59

    Viktor Barinov—real name Park Seong-geun.

    Born in Hualong, Yanbian, he was selected as a guide shortly after his evaluation and was drafted into the Sino-Russian joint special forces as Sergei Onopko’s dedicated guide.

    Initially chosen because of his fluency in Russian, his exceptional compatibility with Sergei quickly made him a key member of the unit.

    His relationship with Sergei was fairly strong. Like most dedicated partners, they shared a bond and trust that surpassed mere friendship.

    “Seryozha, sit up.”

    Viktor helped Sergei sit up in bed and propped a pillow behind his back, then picked up a bowl of porridge from a tray.

    “I’m not eating. I’m not hungry.”

    Sergei frowned and pushed away the bowl placed in front of him.

    “Just have a little. Starving yourself isn’t the answer.”

    “Ugh, get it away.”

    “You didn’t eat anything yesterday either—”

    “I said get it away!”

    The bowl clattered to the floor, shattering with a loud noise. Pieces scattered across the floor, and the porridge spilled everywhere.

    “I told you… I said I’m not eating!”

    Sergei was irritable and sensitive in everything he did. The only time he was remotely pleasant was the few hours following Viktor’s guiding sessions.

    He had a chronic lung disease that existed even before he was classified as an Esper. Apparently, he had been abandoned on the streets as a child, left out in the freezing cold during winter, which caused the illness.

    His fragile health made him finicky and overly reactive to everything. If the humidity in the house dropped even 5%, he would struggle to breathe. Any noise outside that was even slightly different from usual would drive him mad.

    Perhaps this was why he sensed “its presence” earlier than other No-Named.

    It was a late summer day.

    “Sometimes I feel like that.”

    Wrapped in a blanket and nestled on a soft couch in Viktor’s arms, Sergei spoke abruptly.

    “Like someone’s watching me.”

    Viktor glanced toward the window. Because of Sergei’s sensitivity, their house always had thick blackout curtains. Viktor chuckled.

    “Of course. I’m always watching you.”

    “That’s not what I mean.”

    Sergei’s frail body shrank.

    “It’s everywhere.”

    The moment Sergei first used the word “it,” he suddenly shivered.

    “Vitya, it’s so cold. So, so cold.”

    Viktor thought it was just paranoia stemming from Sergei’s inherent sensitivity. Sergei, who occasionally mentioned “it,” eventually asked Viktor to document his stories.

    “Isn’t journaling important for therapy?”

    “Seryozha, it’s all just paranoia. You don’t need to take it seriously.”

    Viktor was uneasy about this. If Sergei started documenting these thoughts seriously, he would become obsessed and descend deeper into delusions.

    “But I can feel ‘it’…”

    “Seryozha, please, stop it! Please!”

    Unable to contain himself any longer, Viktor yelled. He had been Sergei’s partner for several years. He had abandoned his homeland out of love for Sergei and had put up with Sergei’s irritatingly demanding and petulant behavior.

    He endured it all out of love and loyalty, but it was becoming increasingly difficult to bear.

    “The things you’re talking about are just illusions! There’s no such thing in the world! Do you even realize what nearly happened at the gate last time because of your delusions?”

    “…”

    Sergei pursed his lips and stared at Viktor. The cozy atmosphere in the house quickly turned chilly, a tense silence filling the room.

    “…You bastard.”

    Sergei muttered under his breath. Viktor let out a bitter laugh and rubbed his face. The taut thread of anger slackened.

    “That’s not how you’re supposed to use that word.”

    “But it’s still a curse, isn’t it?”

    In the end, Viktor gave in to Sergei’s demands and bought a second-hand camcorder. Sergei laughed, saying that even if he weren’t around, the recording would serve as a record of everything. Viktor felt uneasy because Sergei spoke like someone preparing to leave for good.

    “…Do we really have to film here?”

    “If we do it at home, too much information will be exposed. We shouldn’t leave anything that could reveal our identities.”

    “Only we’ll be watching this anyway, Seryozha…”

    Honestly, I probably won’t watch it. Only you will. Viktor didn’t voice that last thought. He thought that if Sergei’s delusions worsened, he could bring this recording to a psychiatrist.

    Sergei brought over a chair and sat down. The abandoned building hadn’t been used in years and was filled with debris and garbage.

    Viktor set the camcorder on the half-collapsed table and fiddled with the camera indifferently. Recording started. A few words were exchanged. Sergei, who was excited at first, appeared a little tense in front of the camera.

    His face was always pale and his expression rarely pleasant. With his expression tense, he looked even worse through the camera lens. Seryozha, your face looks awful right now. Viktor held back from making a joke and continued with his questions.

    “What makes you so sure that it exists?”

    “‘It’ always calls to me. I can clearly feel it.”

    “What you’re talking about sounds like a Cthulhu myth. Do you know about it? It’s some bizarre science fiction story. Some nonsensical, freakish phenomenon.”

    Sergei laughed.

    “Similar. Freakish phenomenon? That’s pretty accurate.”

    “Yeah… then.”

    Viktor continued with his questions, reluctantly keeping his focus on Sergei through the camcorder.

    “Tell me more about ‘it.'”

    Sergei’s gaze drifted into the empty air around them.

    For a moment, Viktor felt like Sergei wasn’t really there. Like he could disappear at any moment. Like he was a stranger in this world.

    That day, Sergei and Viktor couldn’t complete their video recording because a gate opened in that very location.

    Afterward, Sergei’s mental health deteriorated drastically. If Viktor hadn’t been there, he wouldn’t have lasted even a year, let alone seven.

    “Seryozha, Seryozha! Snap out of it!”

    “No! I won’t!”

    Sergei thrashed wildly in Viktor’s arms as he tried to restrain him. He stood on the ledge of an 11-story building’s rooftop.

    “I have to go! Let me go! I have to go!”

    “Stop saying crazy things! You’re on the rooftop! Do you know what you’re doing?”

    “It doesn’t matter; I can’t die anyway….”

    Sergei clung to Viktor’s chest, gasping for air and clawing at his own neck.

    “Kill me, please… Kill me, ugh, I can’t take it, please, Vitya, please! I can’t stay here, I need to go back, I need to go back….”

    Viktor held him tightly, restraining him as best as he could. Sergei suddenly made a guttural sound and bit into Viktor’s arm, drawing blood.

    Viktor released him instinctively due to the pain and could only watch helplessly as his comrade fell.

    After healing Sergei’s broken neck with guiding, they dissolved their partnership.

    Three years later, Sergei sought Viktor out again.

    His face was even more gaunt than before, to the point where his facial structure was clearly visible, almost like a skull. But his expression seemed calmer.

    “Just grant me one favor.”

    Viktor didn’t feel inclined to help. Sergei, once his cherished comrade, was now someone he found unbearably annoying.

    But the bond they had formed over the years as partners couldn’t be easily dismissed. Despite himself, Viktor still held a sliver of affection for Sergei, so he couldn’t outright refuse.

    “What is it?”

    “Make me go rogue.”

    What a horrific fate, Viktor thought.

    “If you want to die, just do it yourself. Don’t drag others into it.”

    “I’m not doing it because I want to die.”

    Sergei shook his head.

    “I’m doing it because I want to go back.”

    The sense of déjà vu in Sergei’s words made Viktor frown.

    “I need to return to where I originally came from.”

    At first, Viktor refused, but a few months later, he eventually carried out Sergei’s request.

    He made this decision after seeing a report from the research center that samples from Sergei’s neural tissue matched perfectly with the organic matter found near a gate. They were believed to be of the same organism.

    Sergei smiled with makeshift bombs strapped to his body. As he played with the safety pin of a grenade, Viktor couldn’t describe how he felt.

    Sergei was an aberration. For some reason, he had donned a human shell, but his true form was that of an aberration.

    That was why his body matched the gate’s structure perfectly. Aberrations must return to the gate or be killed by humans.

    A derelict building was blown to pieces.

    And that day, Sergei became the gate itself.

    Viktor was suspected of causing Sergei to go rogue. As a wanted man, he moved between various third-party nations, finally finding refuge with an unexpected organization.

    But something strange happened.

    Since Sergei’s incident, no new gates opened in Moscow.

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