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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot Episode 37

    The security center, primarily handling paperwork, had a markedly different atmosphere compared to other buildings in District 1.

    “What the hell? Where did he go?”

    Cheong-oh muttered softly as he carefully inspected the empty desk area. In another place, Cheong-oh would have walked around loudly until someone showed up, but the unique, quiet, and tense atmosphere of the security center even made him restrain himself.

    “Hello.”

    A woman with horn-rimmed glasses greeted him as she sat down at the desk.

    “Yoo-jeong, it’s been a while.”

    When a somewhat familiar employee appeared, Cheong-oh waved his hand cheerfully.

    “Yeah, it really has been a while. Isn’t it rare for field workers to come here?”

    The employee, called Yoo-jeong, responded calmly to Cheong-oh’s greeting. This place is a core area located at the topmost level of the security center. Almost all matters related to national secrets go through approval here.

    Seo-joon leaned towards the desk and spoke.

    “We need to delete a video.”

    “Ah, is it the one taken at the recent Yeonseon MyPark Mall site? That’s already been handled by the relevant department.”

    “No, it’s an older video.”

    “An older video?”

    “It’s an interview video from before, probably uploaded on Mi-Tube.”

    Yoo-jeong nodded nonchalantly as she typed on her keyboard. While most things are controlled by AI censorship, sometimes issues arise when input conflicts occur.

    For example, facial or keyword recognition might fail, or a video previously deleted could be reuploaded without detection.

    “Send me the video link. You could have just sent it via messenger. Looks like you came to see me.”

    “I couldn’t find the link, so I have to search for it directly. And yes, I did want to see you, Yoo-jeong.”

    When Seo-joon added with a grin, Yoo-jeong chuckled. Cheong-oh, who had been fiddling with objects on her desk, turned to them with a puzzled expression at the sudden laughter. It wasn’t even a particularly funny joke.

    Yoo-jeong swiveled her monitor towards them, showing a list of people in the queue.

    “Normally, you’d need to wait a few days after registering, but I’ll handle it right away for Lieutenant Ji.”

    “Thanks, Yoo-jeong.”

    Even the polite greeting prompted a burst of giggles. Cheong-oh couldn’t hold back his disbelief.

    “Yoo-jeong, don’t keep laughing like that. If you do, Seo-joon will think he’s really funny.”

    “But he is funny.”

    Yoo-jeong led them inside, where computers were running countless programs that were unfamiliar to Cheong-oh and Seo-joon.

    “Do you know what the video is, or at least the date it aired?”

    “I’m not sure about the date, but I think it’s a news interview… probably one I did with my former guide.”

    “With whom?”

    “…”

    “Min Seon-wook.”

    Cheong-oh answered in place of Seo-joon, knowing well the trauma Seo-joon held regarding Min Seon-wook.

    After that incident, when Min Seon-wook died during a guiding session, Seo-joon had been haunted by it for a long time. Cheong-oh and Hee-min couldn’t leave Seo-joon alone, fearing he might take his own life.

    Even now, Seo-joon couldn’t bring himself to say Min Seon-wook’s name. Every year, on the anniversary of his death, he becomes unstable, as if he’s traveled directly from the past.

    “Hmm, Min Seon-wook. Min Seon-wook…”

    Unaware of the deep significance, Yoo-jeong muttered his name under her breath as she typed quickly on the keyboard.

    “There are a few videos here. Is this the news interview you both did together? Want to check it out?”

    “I’ll verify it.”

    Cheong-oh moved to block the monitor from Seo-joon, but Yoo-jeong shook her head.

    “It needs to be verified by him personally. Even if it seems trivial, that’s the regulation.”

    “Go ahead.”

    At Seo-joon’s words, Yoo-jeong clicked on the video, and the old news footage began to play, accompanied by a reporter’s voice. “When did your friend awaken?” As the reporter’s question aired, Ji Seo-joon and Min Seon-wook appeared on screen.

    “There are a lot of deletion records for this video. It’s been made into a lot of GIFs. Makes sense though. You don’t often see faces like these in real life.”

    Whatever was being said on the side didn’t register. Seo-joon silently watched the youthful face on the screen, feeling a heavy thud in his chest.

    No matter how much he thought he had forgotten, he ultimately realized he was still stuck in the past.

    ✽✽✽

    **In the Scorching Summer Sun**

    As the final semester of their second year began, the high school classroom smelled of a peculiar mix of sweat and books typical of teenagers their age.

    The classroom was empty due to an outdoor P.E. class, with uniform shirts scattered carelessly around. Seo-joon walked into the room and approached the student lying face-down on a desk. He pressed a small beverage carton against the cheek resting on an arm, causing the student’s eyes to snap open.

    “Oh, you startled me…”

    The other person, who had just woken up, accepted the drink, which had a picture of a red apple on it, and looked at Seo-joon with sleepy eyes.

    “Are you really sick?”

    “No, just…”

    The student mumbled in response to Seo-joon’s question. With his small frame and youthful face, he looked even younger than his peers, and the heat had given his cheeks a flushed hue.

    “If you’re hot, turn on the air conditioner.”

    “When it’s on, it’s too cold… and when it’s off, it’s too hot.”

    He lay down slowly, replying to Seo-joon’s words. Seo-joon chuckled and playfully poked the student’s cheek with his finger. The student was Min Seon-wook, Seo-joon’s dedicated guide, matched at the beginning of the year since they were in the same grade and classroom.

    As Seon-wook gave a faint smile, Seo-joon couldn’t help but smile back. The hand that had poked his cheek moved to his forehead.

    “You really do seem sick. You have a fever.”

    “I told you I’m really sick. Do you think I’m faking it like someone?”

    Seo-joon pulled up a chair to sit closer.

    “What exactly hurts? Do you have a cold? Why not go to the nurse’s office?”

    Seon-wook turned his head away from the worried touch, muttering almost inaudibly.

    “I don’t know… I have a fever… and my back hurts too.”

    Resting his forehead on his arm, Seon-wook glanced at Seo-joon with a faintly reproachful look, leaving Seo-joon feeling uncertain. Lying down beside Seon-wook, Seo-joon got close to meet his gaze.

    “Did I go too hard on you yesterday?”

    “…”

    Silence meant yes. Seon-wook pulled the drink closer to his chest, muttering “I don’t know” before sharply turning away. Despite being matched for a while, they had never engaged in a guiding session beyond level two before. But yesterday was different.

    It was a moment of confusion for both of them. Even just recalling it made Seo-joon’s body flush with warmth. That night had been awkward, clumsy, and overwhelmingly exhilarating.

    Seo-joon poked the nape of Seon-wook’s neck with his fingertip. The sweat-drenched skin reminded him of the previous night.

    “What’s with this ‘I don’t know’ stuff, Min Seon-wook?”

    “…”

    “Were you hurting?”

    Poke. He prodded the back of Seon-wook’s neck again.

    “Were you only hurting?”

    Poke. Finally, unable to hold back, Seon-wook sprang up and smacked Seo-joon on the back.

    “Why do you keep poking me? You’re just trying to skip P.E.!”

    Seo-joon gently grasped the wrist that hit him and burst into laughter.

    “The hamster’s mad.”

    Seon-wook wrinkled his nose at his words. This exact expression is why Min Seon-wook is called the hamster in their class. With his short stature of 170 cm and his hamster-like appearance, the nickname stuck.

    “When are you going to grow taller, Min Seon-wook?”

    Seo-joon playfully ruffled Seon-wook’s hair. They say guides naturally gain strength and size after manifesting, but it didn’t seem to apply to Seon-wook. He shook his head, trying to dodge the playful hands tickling him.

    “It’s your fault I’m not growing, your fault!”

    His head was small enough to fit in one hand, often needing protection after knocking against the bed’s headboard. His hands and feet were small too—everything about him was small. When Seo-joon had teasingly whispered this, Seon-wook had bristled in response.

    Thinking back to that moment made Seo-joon feel warm again.

    “Why are you so strong for someone who’s supposedly in pain?”

    Seo-joon pulled him into an embrace and rested his chin on Seon-wook’s shoulder. The wriggling body in his arms soon settled down.

    Thump, thump. They shared heartbeats, their chests pressed together, unable to distinguish whose heartbeat was whose.

    “I was hurting…”

    Seon-wook whispered softly in his ear.

    “But… it felt a little good too.”

    The words that followed sent a flush through Seo-joon. Lips brushed against the edge of his warm ear before moving away. Seon-wook, slightly pulling back from the embrace, met Seo-joon’s gaze with a mischievous grin before lying down on the desk again.

    The guiding process created a resonance between them that tied two otherwise disconnected people in a vague bond.

    It wasn’t love, but it was a bit closer than friendship—a budding, youthful feeling.

    Seo-joon reached out and stroked the back of his neck. The sweat had grown damper than before, soaking his fingertips. How could he hear not just a little, but that it felt really good? Next time, he would be more careful. Next time, he’d make it better.

    He wished Seon-wook would grow taller soon. In Seo-joon’s unknowing mind, he believed that being physically more equal might make things a bit easier.

    However, even in his twenties, Seon-wook’s height remained in the 170s, and his time stopped forever at the age of twenty.

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