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    Deep Pivot Episode 36

    Seo-joon was fully aware of his own mistake. He had acted so clumsily that he couldn’t believe himself. Did he think that playing the benevolent benefactor would be enough to ease his sense of debt?

    But a simple apology or a thank you seemed too inadequate to convey his gratitude for Cha Yeon-woo’s devotion.

    He knew that Yeon-woo had to care for his ailing younger brother while also managing his own life. For him, this hard-earned opportunity was something he’d naturally be desperate for, but for Seo-joon, it was overwhelming.

    “Cha Jungwoo, come here. Let’s go to the convenience store with me.”

    Songhee, who had grown close with Jungwoo in no time, reached out to the boy as he came out after his tests.

    “My office has plenty of snacks, too. Want to stop by there after going to the store?”

    “Is that okay?”

    “Of course! It’s just a floor below your room. From now on, you have to keep me company whenever I get bored. I’ve got tons of board games in my office.”

    “Wow…”

    As they wandered down the hallway cheerfully, Hee-min came out of the examination room and approached Seo-joon.

    “Cha Yeon-woo knows everything now? That you’re the benefactor?”

    “Yeah, he does.”

    Seo-joon, having finished the green tea given to him by the clinic staff, bit at the edge of his empty paper cup. Yeon-woo was still in the examination room, speaking with Jungwoo’s doctor.

    “He was really thankful to me, too. When someone’s as kind as Cha Yeon-woo, people naturally want to give more.”

    It makes sense… Cha Yeon-woo has a knack for winning people over wherever he goes. Seo-joon tugged at the rim of the paper cup as he kept his thoughts to himself.

    While he may have some struggles due to his financial situation, Cha Yeon-woo fundamentally had a nature so pure that it seemed almost impossible. Yet, in front of such a person, Seo-joon found himself growing more petty.

    “Dr. Kang, long time no see.”

    The familiar voice made Seo-joon turn his head, revealing Team Leader Kang Mi-yeon. *If Cheong-oh were here, he’d be causing a ruckus.* Hee-min smiled warmly at her while whispering quietly to Seo-joon, waving his hand.

    “What brings you here?”

    Kang Mi-yeon, approaching them, replied with a weary expression.

    “Matching tests.”

    “Ah. Haven’t found a new personal guide yet?”

    Hee-min paused, thinking back. Her former personal guide had died in the large-scale gate incident a few months ago. He had heard that she was looking for a new guide but didn’t realize that search was still ongoing.

    Just then, Yeon-woo finished his conversation with the doctor and came out. Kang Mi-yeon’s gaze naturally shifted toward him as she stood between Seo-joon and Hee-min.

    Suddenly, she snapped her fingers and pointed directly at Yeon-woo.

    “Oh? It’s the baby.”

    Hearing this from a stranger, Yeon-woo lowered his head politely and greeted cautiously.

    “Hello.”

    Kang Mi-yeon inspected him from head to toe.

    “That’s right, the baby.”

    “Wow, Yeon-woo, you’ve become everyone’s baby.”

    Hee-min joked with an awkward smile. Within the guides’ circle, the fact that Yeon-woo was known as Ji Seo-joon’s dedicated guide, despite the notoriously high difficulty level, had spread widely, so her response wasn’t an exaggeration.

    Moreover, Kang Mi-yeon was also a former colleague who knew about Ji Seo-joon’s “no-named” status.

    “Seo-joon, what will you do? Your guide is becoming so famous.”

    “But he’s not an official guide yet, is he?”

    The smile on Hee-min’s face quickly faded. Kang Mi-yeon glanced at Seo-joon with amusement.

    “Lieutenant Ji, what’s the truth?”

    Seo-joon briefly glanced at Yeon-woo before averting his gaze. He didn’t usually hold a grudge against Kang Mi-yeon, but it seemed like that might change today. He hesitated before answering reluctantly.

    “He’s not officially registered as my personal guide yet.”

    Hee-min’s piercing gaze bore into Seo-joon. But what could he do? That was the truth. Feeling like he was sitting on a bed of thorns, Seo-joon placed the paper cup down and stood up, knowing it was best to leave awkward situations quickly.

    “Hey, baby, do you have time right now? Want to do a matching test with me?”

    Then Kang Mi-yeon made an unexpected proposal. Seo-joon, who had suspected this after their previous encounter but didn’t expect her to approach so directly, looked at her with a slightly startled expression.

    Yeon-woo, who had been staring blankly at the discarded paper cup, looked up in surprise as well.

    “…Pardon?”

    “Let’s just try a test.”

    “Oh, but I’m already…”

    “Ah, Team Leader Kang, that’s just strange…”

    Hee-min interjected, stepping in between Yeon-woo and Mi-yeon.

    “Cha Yeon-woo is an SAU team member, so what are you trying to do here?”

    “And what are you up to, Dr. Kang? Anyone would think you’re part of SAU too.”

    Tension rose between Hee-min and Kang Mi-yeon. She continued smiling, but Hee-min did not. With a wry chuckle, she looked down at him.

    “Why are you so protective? Field agents can coordinate team members among themselves. Why is the research director interfering?”

    “Coordinating isn’t what you’re—”

    “Try it.”

    That was when Seo-joon interrupted them.

    “The matching test.”

    Ignoring Hee-min’s startled gaze, Seo-joon turned to Yeon-woo.

    “What do you think, Yeon-woo? If you’re an A-grade, the match rate with Team Leader Kang will be quite high.”

    “Ji Seo-joon, what on earth are you saying—”

    “It’s all part of the experience. You never know what’s going to happen, and it’s good to try matching tests with different espers.”

    Seo-joon dismissed Hee-min’s objection, continuing to speak. Yeon-woo’s blue eyes were trembling with confusion.

    It wasn’t like he was being pushed to work as Kang Mi-yeon’s dedicated guide immediately. It was just a suggestion to try a matching test, but Yeon-woo looked as though he had been abandoned like a lost puppy.

    “Yeon-woo, you’ve only tested with me. Besides, I don’t pair with anyone, so we only reached the second level.”

    Yeon-woo, who had been about to refuse, grew more uncertain with each word Seo-joon spoke. But Seo-joon remained firm.

    Yeon-woo was too devoted to him. While it was understandable that Yeon-woo had bonded with the first esper he met, there were many others. Seo-joon believed Yeon-woo deserved more options and needed to explore them.

    At only 20, Yeon-woo was too inexperienced to understand fully. As someone who had been around for over a decade, Seo-joon knew it would be irresponsible not to point out the newcomer’s confusion.

    Kang Mi-yeon, glancing between them, chuckled.

    “You heard that, Dr. Kang.”

    She then turned to Hee-min, whose face looked thoroughly dismayed.

    “Seems like he has no attachment to ‘the baby’ after all.”

    Seo-joon checked his watch and patted Yeon-woo and Hee-min on their shoulders before stepping back.

    “Sorry, I have a prior appointment, so I need to leave. I’m not forcing anything, just suggesting you consider it, Yeon-woo. The choice is yours.”

    He heard Hee-min sigh behind him, but he didn’t look back and quickly walked out of sight.

    To the remaining Hee-min and Yeon-woo, it felt like they’d been hit with a bomb. Kang Mi-yeon approached Yeon-woo with a smile.

    “So, baby, what would you like to do? It will only take about an hour.”

    Hee-min, who was ready to block her, reconsidered and stayed silent. Yeon-woo wasn’t literally a child and was old enough to make his own decisions.

    “If you want, baby, we can wrap it up in 30 minutes.”

    Guides had their own responsibilities, and it would be overstepping to prevent him from even trying a matching test.

    Finally, Yeon-woo spoke softly.

    “…Cha Yeon-woo.”

    “Hmm?”

    Kang Mi-yeon raised an eyebrow and stepped closer to listen more carefully.

    “What did you say?”

    “My name is Cha Yeon-woo. ‘baby’ is just a code name we use in the field.”

    His words made her laugh.

    “Oh, I see. Jin Cheong-oh kept calling you ‘baby,’ so I thought your name was Kim Aegi or something.” = baby

    “Well, he’s my team leader.”

    But Yeon-woo didn’t crack a smile. Seeing his serious demeanor, Kang Mi-yeon’s laughter slowly faded as well. After a moment, Yeon-woo shifted his gaze toward Hee-min.

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