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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot Episode 33

    Cheong-oh looked at the person who was called “Lieutenant.” Yeon-woo, who had tied the top of his specialized combat suit around his waist, was holding him tightly, his bare body bleeding profusely.

    At a glance, it seemed as if his upper body had been consumed by tendrils writhing like nerve bundles. Yeon-woo had wrapped around him, protecting him from the light.

    The injuries, which had seemed severe from a distance, looked even more gruesome up close. The thorns embedded in the tentacles pierced his flesh. Yeon-woo, now close by, finally collapsed to his knees on the ground. Even so, he never let go of Ji Seo-joon, whom he held tightly in his arms.

    Ironically, as Cha Yeon-woo fell, Cheong-oh was overwhelmed by him. In that moment, at least, Cha Yeon-woo seemed stronger and more compassionate than any guide he had ever encountered.

    Ji Seo-joon was rushed to a nearby hospital, but he continued to trouble Cha Yeon-woo for some time.

    His appearance, somewhere between stability and a rampage, was so twisted that it hardly seemed human. Honestly speaking, he looked like a ghoul or a creature crazed over a fantasy movie’s One Ring.

    Restoring his form back to a normal human shape was so gruesome that even Jin Cheong-oh, hardened by experience, could not bear to watch.

    Since Ji Seo-joon was an esper who refused pairing, he could only be guided through a kiss. Even if pairing were possible, it would not have been easy.

    Yet, Cha Yeon-woo embraced Ji Seo-joon’s vomit-stained body and kissed him without hesitation. Although it wasn’t a veteran’s practiced guiding, he seemed willing to do anything beyond kissing, leaving the onlookers feeling uneasy.

    …How could one not believe in someone like that?

    Cheong-oh didn’t know why Cha Yeon-woo was so desperate for Ji Seo-joon. But it didn’t matter. To Cheong-oh, Yeon-woo was already the greatest treasure and special edition baby to join the SAU.

    Jin Cheong-oh, who normally would never let a guide and Ji Seo-joon be alone in the same house, made an exception for Cha Yeon-woo.

    “If Cha Yeon-woo were an assassin sent from another country, I’d already be dead.”

    But Ji Seo-joon kept saying foolish things, despite having kicked out the precious guide without letting him rest, even though he deserved to be wrapped up in a blanket and cherished.

    “Hey, why are you talking like that? Look at his face. Does that look like the face of an assassin?”

    “Don’t you know that assassins do whatever it takes to earn trust?”

    “If he really were an assassin… there’s nothing you could do about it. If he’s that good of an actor, then yeah, I’d have no choice but to die.”

    Seo-joon punched his shoulder with a fist.

    “Cut the bullshit.”

    “You’re the one talking bullshit, Seo-joon…”

    “Just make sure you keep Cha Yeon-woo from thinking any funny thoughts. Think of him as your final soulmate in life…”

    Seo-joon listened halfheartedly to Cheong-oh’s futile pleas as he headed for the shower.

    “…”

    But with Cheong-oh constantly talking in his ear, it was hard for Seo-joon to keep his mind calm. After the relentless brainwashing, he could think only of Cha Yeon-woo while showering.

    Now that he thought about it, he hadn’t contacted him once.

    The moment he entered the changing room, he opened his locker and took out his phone. The last message exchanged was from when he had picked up Yeon-woo.

    ‘Don’t be angry. I’m sorry.’

    He recalled the voice that had sounded so timid, despite not having done anything wrong. He remembered the face that could barely hold onto his cuff, too afraid to grab his hand.

    ‘I’ve been really bored. I wanted to talk to you, Lieutenant. …So, please, calm down a little.’

    He had thought he should distance himself if he wasn’t going to hire Cha Yeon-woo as his dedicated guide. But he hadn’t meant to act like a asshole.

    Now, he felt a little guilty.

    …Had he been too heartless, not even saying a single word of encouragement?

    Seo-joon realized again that he was not good at relationships.

    Not only did he lack dating experience, but even forming new relationships was unfamiliar to him. He was always too busy bristling at guides he was matched with, and the only friends he had were his colleagues in the SAU.

    It was funny that this “cluelessness” was something he became aware of because of a freshly twenty-year-old guide.

    He had never received such devoted care from anyone, so it felt too unfamiliar and bewildering. He ended up acting immaturely, failing to behave like an adult, and to a young guide, no less.

    Staring at the message screen, Seo-joon finally tapped the keypad.

    “Are you feeling okay? Did you get home safely that day? How’s the injury? I’m sorry about that day. Do you have any training lately?”

    Text after text was written and erased repeatedly.

    Do you have any training lately?

    Yeon-woo…

    Tap, tap, tap. As he erased the message one letter at a time, he felt a sense of shame. Why am I doing this?

    Closing the message screen, he dialed a number.

    “Hey, Seo-joon.”

    “Hyung, are you busy?”

    “I’m always busy, right?”

    “I need a favor. I’ll come over now.”

    Passing by Cheong-oh, who was meticulously styling his hair with wax, Seo-joon left the changing room.

    ✽✽✽

    Lieutenant, how are you feeling?

    The message typed out again was erased. It was one of the many messages written and deleted dozens of times in the past week without ever being sent.

    “Guardian for patient Cha Jeong-woo?”

    The voice at the desk snapped him out of his thoughts. He stood up as a receptionist, familiar with his face, greeted him with a smile.

    “Hello.”

    “Oh, welcome, Yeon-woo. Oh? What happened to your lip? Are you hurt?”

    She pointed to Yeon-woo’s lip with surprised eyes. The injury he received when Seo-joon bit him during guiding hadn’t healed yet. Yeon-woo, trying to cover the small bandage on his lip, replied awkwardly, “Just a little.”

    “Did you get into a fight?”

    “No.”

    “You’re so handsome that it looks like makeup. Drama makeup. If you’d become an actor, you’d have been successful.”

    Yeon-woo gave a shy laugh at the lighthearted joke and pulled out his card.

    “I’m here to pay for the hospital bill today.”

    “Oh, just a moment.”

    The receptionist typed on the keyboard, clicked the mouse, and looked at her monitor. While waiting, Yeon-woo fidgeted with the card’s edge, feeling much less anxious than usual.

    Today was the first payday since joining the SAU.

    For the first time, he saw an amount in his bank account he had never seen before. And today was also the first time he could fully pay the hospital bill without pleading for a discount.

    “Oh.”

    The receptionist gave a different response than usual.

    “It’s already paid.”

    “What?”

    “The hospital bill and the medication fee are all fully paid.”

    “Wh-who… paid for it?”

    A flustered Yeon-woo leaned forward to ask. She showed him the monitor and said.

    “I don’t know who paid, but it was done in one lump sum.”

    Seeing his expression, she called over a nearby colleague.

    “Ms. Soo-Jin, do you remember who took the payment for Cha Jeong-woo’s bill? It was yesterday evening.”

    “Oh, that was me.”

    The staff member called Soo-jin dragged a chair over and looked at Yeon-woo.

    “You remember the man who came with you last time? Tall and handsome? He paid everything.”

    She tapped on the keyboard, searching for something. Yeon-woo’s heart pounded. There was only one person who had accompanied him to the hospital.

    Could it have been the Lieutenant who paid Jeong-woo’s bill? But why?

    “Oh, here it is. The substitute payer is Kang Hee-min.”

    “Kang Hee-min?”

    The name the staff member mentioned was entirely unexpected. When Yeon-woo asked again in disbelief, the employee double-checked and nodded.

    “That’s right, Kang Hee-min. Why? Is there a problem?”

    While waiting for Yeon-woo’s response, she seemed to recall something she had forgotten.

    “Ah.”

    She pulled out some documents and said.
    “The Awakener Center sent over some insurance-related paperwork. That same man brought it in. He requested Cha Jeong-woo’s medical records, which we provided, and stated that the treatment would continue at the hospital within the Center.”

    “What?”

    Yeon-woo was visibly shocked, and the staff member next to him nudged her colleague, saying.

    “Soo-jin, you should’ve communicated this important information better.”

    “Oh, I forgot. Things were so hectic.”

    After exchanging a few words amongst themselves, they turned back to Yeon-woo.

    “Yeon-woo, weren’t you informed about this?”

    “Uh, wait a moment.”

    As Yeon-woo pulled out his phone, one of the staff members added.

    “You’ll need the guardian’s consent for the discharge process. Call them and have them sign.”

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