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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot, Episode 31

    The closed eyes scrunched up in a frown. A cracked and hoarse voice slipped out softly.

    “Ugh…”

    When Seo-joon opened his eyes, all he could see was a chest visible through a gown. He realized a little later that he was naked and wrapped in someone’s embrace.

    The strong arm around him felt heavy like a log. Trapped and unable to move, Seo-joon carefully lifted his head to identify the person.

    “…”

    Waking up in the arms of someone unfamiliar wasn’t new to him, but there was a strange sense of relief that it was Cha Yeon-woo.

    Seo-joon tried to shift cautiously in his arms. As he tried to loosen the embrace, the arm tightened even more around his waist.

    Is he awake? He looked up quietly and observed that, fortunately, Yeon-woo seemed still asleep. Having failed to slip away, Seo-joon blinked blankly.

    Even though they might have rolled around during guiding, he wanted to avoid the awkwardness of exchanging greetings after waking up naked in the same bed.

    Eventually, the arm around his body relaxed its grip. Seo-joon carefully extricated himself, making sure not to wake the other man, and got out of bed.

    He searched for his phone, only to realize this was his own home. Seo-joon frowned. How many days had passed? He picked up his phone from the console and checked the date. Four days had already gone by. It was taking longer for him to recover every time he pushed himself too hard.

    He slipped into a nearby gown, then quietly sat on the edge of the bed and gazed at Yeon-woo. He noticed the wounds on his neck peeking through the gown and the injury at the corner of his mouth.

    “…”

    He suddenly remembered the wound on Yeon-woo’s hand, which had been hastily bandaged at the scene. Reaching to inspect the hand resting gently on the sheets, he was surprised when Yeon-woo’s fingers gripped his tightly.

    A faint smile spread across Seo-joon’s lips. Even while asleep, Cha Yeon-woo does something adorable.

    If he stayed any longer, he would definitely wake Yeon-woo up. Resisting the urge to touch and inspect all the injuries, Seo-joon stood up and tiptoed out of the bedroom.

    Anyway, it seemed he had managed to get through this safely again. He didn’t know how he had ended up alone at home with Cha Yeon-woo, but even after waking up entangled with a dozen unfamiliar guides, his body felt lighter than ever before.

    Seo-joon sat on the couch and turned on his tablet. Accessing the home surveillance app, he viewed the bedroom where Yeon-woo lay, along with the living room and kitchen. These surveillance cameras were always set up throughout Seo-joon’s house.

    They were primarily for monitoring Seo-joon himself in situations like this, as well as to keep an eye on the guide. However, this was the first time he had actually needed to check the footage.

    Entering the previous day’s date and time, Seo-joon played the video. The empty house soon showed Yeon-woo carrying Seo-joon into the entryway. Still wearing his shoes, Cheongho gave Yeon-woo some instructions before disappearing.

    Seo-joon clicked his tongue. “Why is everyone so careless?” Leaving just a guide alone with him at home—what if something had happened?

    Placing a vulnerable esper and guide alone in a secluded space was dangerous for both parties. If Seo-joon suddenly went berserk, the guide would be defenseless. Conversely, in his vulnerable state, he couldn’t protect himself if the guide decided to do anything.

    Thankfully, Cha Yeon-woo was alive and well, so it seemed the worst-case scenario hadn’t happened. Imagining the second-worst possibility, Seo-joon switched to the bedroom footage and sped up the playback threefold.

    However, after a short while of intensely watching, Seo-joon’s expression became bored. Cha Yeon-woo’s actions in the video were so monotonous and dull that they could put anyone to sleep.

    He undressed Seo-joon and laid him on the bed, checked his forehead, and clasped their hands together.

    Slowing down the video, Seo-joon watched Yeon-woo wipe his body with a damp cloth. When Seo-joon frowned and moved his lips, Yeon-woo said something in response. The silent video made it look like they were having a conversation.

    “Why bother replying to someone who can’t even understand?” Seo-joon let out a chuckle.

    Cha Yeon-woo stayed by Seo-joon’s side almost 24 hours a day, barely sleeping. Occasionally, he would step out of the bedroom, but each time he did, Seo-joon’s violent thrashing would cause him to dash back inside.

    Once, while Yeon-woo was in the shower, Seo-joon writhed in pain and vomited off the side of the bed. It happened in just the ten minutes that Yeon-woo was away.

    Returning hurriedly from his shower, Yeon-woo didn’t even dry himself properly before embracing Seo-joon.

    “…”

    The video paused. With a hardened expression, Seo-joon stared at Cha Yeon-woo on screen. Only covered below the waist with a towel, Yeon-woo’s body was covered in red wounds.

    Bites and cuts like those made by closely packed saw blades.

    Seo-joon covered his mouth with one hand. He knew exactly what had caused those wounds.

    The video resumed. Without hesitation, Cha Yeon-woo kissed Seo-joon’s recently vomit-streaked lips. Despite the wounds on his back and arms reopening, he held Seo-joon close, containing his convulsions.

    He wiped Seo-joon’s sweaty forehead and gently caressed his cheek. His lips touched Seo-joon’s neck and cheeks softly, his hand tracing Seo-joon’s nape.

    Every touch and contact was so careful, as if handling fragile glassware, that Seo-joon could almost feel the ticklish sensation in his own chest as he watched.

    Even after Seo-joon had calmed down, Yeon-woo continued to watch over him. He didn’t tend to his own wounds or eat or sleep, unable to take his eyes off Seo-joon for a single moment. For Seo-joon, watching the video left him frustrated and confused, stirring strange emotions.

    Yeon-woo’s fingers traced Seo-joon’s lips, his own pressing gently against Seo-joon’s face as he whispered something. From his gaze, it looked like he was murmuring words of love.

    “…”

    Unable to bear it any longer, Seo-joon turned off the video. The intensity of Yeon-woo’s gaze, his caresses… they were so desperate and affectionate that it felt like he had witnessed something he shouldn’t have.

    Seo-joon leaned back into the sofa, touching his chin and lips. His eyes remained fixed on the blackened tablet screen, but a peculiar afterimage lingered before him.

    Those careful, gentle kisses like touching a damp flower petal. That dedication, paying no mind to his own injuries, focused solely on the other…

    And this person was supposed to stay by his side as his exclusive guide?

    Impossible.

    Seo-joon deleted all the home surveillance data, tossed the tablet aside, and curled up. He had seen many guiding sessions before, but never anything like this.

    Can that even be called guiding?

    A whirlwind of emotions washed over him—anguish, gratitude, guilt, or perhaps all of them—and turned his heart upside down.

    His hands trembled against his face. The lingering afterimage that had tickled the corner of his chest was now overshadowed by some dreadful memory from his past, sinking his heart.

    A long sigh escaped through his fingers.

    ✽✽✽

    The sensation of someone touching his body startled Yeon-woo awake, and he bolted upright.

    “Don’t get up. I’m just disinfecting the wounds.”

    A firm hand pushed down on his raised shoulder before moving away. Yeon-woo turned to face the person, his expression startled.

    “Lieutenant?”

    “Yes.”

    “A-are you okay?”

    Seo-joon pressed down on Yeon-woo’s shoulder again as he tried to rise.

    “More than fine, so stop worrying about me. You’re the one who looks like you’ll fall ill, so you’d better be alright.”

    “Oh… I’m sorry. I must’ve fallen asleep…”

    Feeling too embarrassed to have sprawled shamelessly on someone else’s bed, Yeon-woo sat up slightly, leaning against the headboard as he apologized.

    “You were exhausted after not sleeping well. You should have rested longer, it’s alright.”

    Seo-joon placed a pillow behind Yeon-woo’s back and replied indifferently. He continued inspecting Yeon-woo’s wounds, not meeting his eyes. Still, Yeon-woo felt okay. It had been too long since he’d seen Seo-joon talking and moving normally.

    In his joy, Yeon-woo unconsciously reached out to take Seo-joon’s hand but hesitated and withdrew. He had held and touched Seo-joon for four days straight, but that had been during guiding. Now, it was time to step back beyond the boundaries.

    Seo-joon noticed Yeon-woo’s retreating hand while tending to his injuries. He seemed about to say something but quickly returned to a neutral expression. Yeon-woo awkwardly spoke up.

    “I-I’m just glad you’re okay.”

    “You haven’t been disinfecting your wounds, have you?”

    “What? Oh, uh… no, I’ve been a bit out of it.”

    “Out of it.”

    Seo-joon repeated the phrase curtly and looked up. Finally, their eyes met. From his expressionless face came a flat tone.

    “Yeon-woo, do you think you’re invincible or something?”

    “…What?”

    “Don’t you know how to take care of yourself? Guiding isn’t unlimited, it still consumes your life energy. Didn’t you learn in training how guiding can strain the guide’s body?”

    “Oh… I did.”

    Seo-joon’s voice, devoid of any humor, was cold. He seemed to have more to say, but sighed instead.

    “Let’s check your back wounds now. I didn’t want to wake you while you were finally asleep, so I couldn’t inspect them properly.”

    Yeon-woo quietly turned his body, exposing his back to Seo-joon. There was a long silence from behind him. Every time the disinfectant touched his stitched wounds, a sharp pain shot through him. He winced, trying to suppress a groan, when Seo-joon’s voice finally spoke up.

    “…Yeon-woo, you should know to value your own body.”

    His tone seemed to have softened a little, and Yeon-woo felt relieved as he responded.

    “I’m sorry.”

    “It’s not about saying sorry.”

    A sigh escaped between his words.

    “…You know these will leave scars, right? How long do you intend to neglect yourself like this?”

    Yeon-woo turned to face him. Seo-joon’s gaze quickly averted to the side. Noticing Seo-joon avoiding eye contact, Yeon-woo said gently, “I wanted to wait until you felt better before handling it. Don’t be mad. I messed up.”

    He instinctively reached out, but instead of taking Seo-joon’s hand, he gently grasped his sleeve, thinking this much might be acceptable.

    “I’ve been so bored while you were resting. I really wanted to talk to you. So please, just a little… don’t be angry.”

    Seo-joon’s mouth opened slightly. The cotton swab held by the medical tweezers fell onto the sheet. He seemed about to reply, but then pursed his lips firmly shut.

    He covered his lips with one hand and turned his head to the side. His mouth, visible between his fingers, still showed no sign of softening.

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