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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot Episode 21

    Cha Yeon-woo:  

    [Second period ends at 11, so]  

    [Could you come after that?]  

    9:07 a.m.

    Ji Seo-joon:  

    [You went to school just for two periods?]  

    9:07 a.m.  

    [You could’ve skipped them.]  

    [The Center would have taken care of it.]  

    9:08 a.m.

    Cha Yeon-woo:  

    [ㅠ]  

    [I’m sorry.]  

    9:09 a.m.

    Ji Seo-joon:  

    [No need to apologize.]  

    [It’s a compliment.]  

    [You’re a good student, Yeon-woo.]  

    9:09 a.m.  

    [I’ll be there by 11.]  

    [Study hard.]  

    9:10 a.m.

    With one arm resting on the steering wheel, Seo-joon glanced at the message log and smiled to himself. The street in front of the school was quiet, as classes were currently in session.

    After checking the time, Seo-joon looked up at the sky through the windshield. The sky was clear and high after the rainy season. Although the heat hadn’t yet subsided, pleasant breezes had started to blow in the morning and evening.

    His gaze shifted to the rearview mirror. Even from afar, Yeon-woo’s tall figure was easily recognizable. He was walking in this direction, wearing a summer school shirt over a white T-shirt.

    Leaning back, Seo-joon watched Yeon-woo get closer. Not having spotted Seo-joon’s car yet, Yeon-woo checked his phone and put it back into his pocket, then looked elsewhere.

    “….”

    A silent smile crossed Seo-joon’s lips. Yeon-woo crouched at the edge of the sidewalk, his attention captured by a small yellow-spotted cat.

    The cat approached Yeon-woo as if familiar, nudging its nose against his fingers. Letting the cat rub its head against the back of his hand and forehead, Yeon-woo gently scratched under its chin, a bright smile spreading across his face.

    Seo-joon couldn’t help but smile as he watched. He kept his eyes fixed on the rearview mirror and took out his phone. After a couple of rings, Yeon-woo took his phone out of his pocket.

    “Yes, Lieutenant.”

    He stood up quickly. The cat, confused, circled between Yeon-woo’s legs and tapped his sneakers with its paws.

    — Yeon-woo, are your classes finished?

    “Yes, I’m done.”

    Watching Yeon-woo hurriedly scan his surroundings, Seo-joon spoke.

    — Uh-oh, I might be late. I hope I don’t keep you waiting too long in this heat.

    “Ah, it’s fine. I’m still in the classroom, so it’s not hot. Take your time. I’ll leave slowly too.”

    Seo-joon chuckled silently.

    — You’re not outside yet?

    “No… really, I’m fine. Please come safely.”

    Yeon-woo, with a lukewarm response, slowly sank back down. As soon as he sat down again, the cat put its head under his hand and begged for more petting.

    Seo-joon watched Yeon-woo stroke the cat’s chin, ears, and neck with his large hands, debating whether to keep teasing him. Even if Seo-joon were 30 minutes or two hours late, Yeon-woo seemed like he would sit there petting the cat under the scorching sun without a single complaint.

    — Um, Yeon-woo.

    “Yes?”

    — Uh, could you turn your head to the right?

    “…What?”

    Sensing something strange, Yeon-woo stood up abruptly and looked around. Seo-joon laughed and said.

    — Take ten steps in that direction. My car’s right there, the black one, 8995.

    “Oh.”

    Yeon-woo quickly walked over as the cat hopped and followed him. Pulling the phone away from his ear, he waved to the cat. “Goodbye. Big bro is leaving.” He heard Yeon-woo’s small farewell. Realizing Yeon-woo wouldn’t pet it anymore, the cat followed a few steps before sitting down indifferently to lick its front paws.

    As Seo-joon unlocked the car with a smile, Yeon-woo climbed into the passenger seat, greeting him with a slightly flustered face.

    “Hello.”

    “Did you have a good class?”

    “…How long have you been here?”

    “I said I’d be here by 11.”

    Seo-joon shifted gears and turned the wheel. The car, which had been parked by the roadside, smoothly merged onto the road.

    “…I didn’t recognize you because the car was different.”

    “Oh, it’s the first time I’ve picked you up with this one.”

    As the traffic light turned red, Seo-joon glanced over at Yeon-woo and said with a smile.

    “I didn’t think you were like that, but you’re a good liar. You said you were still at school, but you were spending quality time with a cat.”

    Avoiding his gaze, Yeon-woo looked out the passenger window and spoke quietly after a short pause.

    “…It seems like you really enjoy teasing me, Lieutenant.”

    “I’m not teasing; I just kept watching because I found it cute.”

    The traffic light changed.

    “The cat.”

    Lifting his foot off the brake, Seo-joon deliberately added this last comment before turning on the music. “I think I’m scared of all the signs,” played softly, filling the car.

    “That’s true. Cats are cute. It’s friendly, too.”

    Did he just admit he’s cute? For a moment, Seo-joon doubted his own ears and looked at Yeon-woo.

    “When people walk by, it rolls over and begs for attention.”

    “Ah.”

    Any potential misunderstanding was cleared up as the conversation continued. “Rerouting to find a new path,” the automated GPS navigation said. Seo-joon turned off the GPS, which had set itself to an incorrect destination, and asked. 

    “You seem to like cats, don’t you?”

    “Yeah, I do. I often watch cat videos when I’m bored.”

    “That much?”

    “They’re adorable. Don’t you like them, Lieutenant?”

    “I mean, I like them, but not that much.”

    Such an odd hobby. Seo-Joon chuckled and checked his side view. The car, which had been cruising along a quiet city street, merged onto the highway.

    “…So, what do you like, Lieutenant?”

    “Me?”

    The question was so broad that an immediate answer didn’t come to mind. It wouldn’t have been difficult if he had been asked about his favorite food, color, or travel destination.

    “Um, I’m not sure. What are you curious about?”

    “Well…”

    Looking down, Yeon-woo continued cautiously. 

    “I want to know everything you like.”

    “I’m a scaredy cat. Please, no more heart attacks,” the upbeat melody played softly. The playlist, tailored by an algorithm to match Seo-joon’s taste, was filled with music of a similar tempo.

    TL/N: Raws: I’m a scaredy cat. Please no more heart attacks. 경쾌한 멜로디가 잔잔한 소음처럼 흘렀다. 알고리즘이 서준의 취향을 짐작해 채워 넣은 플레이리스트는 늘 비슷한 템포의 음악만 쌓여 간다.

    Seo-joon, focusing on the road ahead, glanced at Yeon-woo. Though the question wasn’t overly sensitive, Yeon-woo’s ears were bright red.

    “…”

    Although he felt they’d grown closer after several training sessions, moments like this made everything feel new.

    Moments like now, when Yeon-woo’s ears would blush from the simplest words or when their gazes would lock for a bit too long. Moments that made Seo-joon feel like a heavy weight had fallen inside his chest.

    “…Well, I like anything that’s cute. Like you, Yeon-woo.”

    At this point, Seo-joon acknowledged it. The cute thing wasn’t the cat; it was Cha Yeon-woo.

    “Lieutenant, do you like cute things like me? Which do you prefer between cats and dogs?” he asked, chattering from beside him. Seo-joon chuckled.

    “I prefer dogs over cats.”

    “I like them, too.” 

    Seo-joon finished with a sigh.

    ✽✽✽

    ▶ At first, I thought it was a type of delusion.

    A Russian man sitting alone against what appeared to be an abandoned building wasn’t looking at the camera, nor did he seem to be looking at an interviewer. His gaze wandered somewhere vaguely into the void, uncertain and anxious.

    ▶ Any esper feels it.  

    ▶ Everyone senses it. I thought it was the same for me. But,  

    ▶ It wasn’t.

    The video quality was poor, as if shot on an old camcorder. The cement floor where the chair stood was cluttered with broken construction materials. Occasionally, when the camera lost focus, someone’s hand, possibly the interviewer’s, would appear, adjusting the lens.

    ▶ It was my own feeling. Just mine.

    The subtitles, automatically translated from Russian to English and then to Korean, weren’t smooth. Still, Seo-joon watching the video knew exactly what the man on the screen was feeling.

    ▷ How does it approach you?

    In response to the interviewer’s question, the man chose his words carefully, though he frowned as if unable to find a precise answer.

    ▶ It has no form.  

    ▶ It has no shape. There’s no smell,  

    ▶ Nor any sound.  

    ▶ But I can feel it. Because it’s definitely  

    ▶ There,  

    ▶ Existing.

    The man’s wandering gaze finally settled on the camera. His tone was more certain than in any of his previous statements. The interviewer chuckled briefly, then asked his next question in a deep voice:

    ▷ Despite lacking form, how can you  

    ▷ Be so certain of its presence?

    Even though the interviewer seemed to mock him, the man remained calm.

    ▶ Because it  

    ▶ Is calling me.

    Sitting alone in the darkened lab, Seo-joon stared at the tablet with an unreadable expression. The screen’s bluish glow cast a pale light on his face.

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