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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot Episode 41

    Yeon-woo’s mouth opened slightly, but he didn’t seem as shocked as expected. Perhaps it wasn’t too surprising. After all, his body had been covered in wounds after the last guiding session, and they hadn’t even paired. Seo-joon didn’t need to tell him that if they had gone a bit further, he might have ended up like Min Seon-wook. Yeon-woo likely had some inkling of that himself.

    Yeon-woo’s lips twitched as if he wanted to say something, but Seo-joon didn’t wait for him and continued.

    “My refusal to pair comes from that experience.”

    He didn’t want to hear any well-meaning but hollow words of comfort.

    He wanted Yeon-woo to drop out gracefully and avoid doing anything presumptuous.

    If he responded with something like, “I’m different,” “It’ll be fine in the future,” or “Let go of your guilt,” Seo-joon wouldn’t let it slide.

    Then Yeon-woo reached for his sleeve. Just recalling that past incident made Seo-joon irritable, so he shot Yeon-woo a sharp look.

    “…I won’t die.”

    Damn it. Seo-joon’s frown deepened.

    “What makes you so confident to say that?”

    “I don’t mean I want to pair with you. If you don’t want it, I won’t ever push for it.”

    Yeon-woo quickly cut him off.

    “If it’s something you don’t want, I absolutely won’t do it.”

    His words were slow and firm, as if emphasizing them. What would sound unconvincing from someone else felt sincere coming from Yeon-woo.

    Seo-joon wondered what it was about Cha Yeon-woo that affected him like this. Yeon-woo’s throat bobbed. His words were cautious.

    “When I went into the tunnel to find you, do you know what I was thinking?”

    Do I need to know? Seo-joon thought to himself. It would probably just be something predictable, like wanting to save Seo-joon or repay him for what he did long ago.

    “…I was thinking that I wanted to watch a movie again.”

    Once again, his expectations were completely wrong.

    “I just kept thinking that I had to go see that movie with you, the one we couldn’t watch this time.”

    The prepared response got stuck in his throat. Seo-joon missed the timing to reply and simply looked at Yeon-woo. As soon as their eyes met, he wanted to look away. An unknown emotion kept tickling at his heart, making him uncomfortably restless.

    “I’m not that nice of a person, Lieutenant. And I’m not a fool either.”

    Feeling like he’d been read, Seo-joon’s face grew warm.

    “I thought a lot about things after our last guiding session. I couldn’t take proper care of myself because I was inexperienced, not because I’m overly kind.”

    Contrary to his usual demeanor, Cha Yeon-woo appeared visibly tense. He tightened his grip on Seo-joon’s sleeve. Unable to meet his eyes, Seo-joon could only look at the veins on Yeon-woo’s hand.

    “I don’t like getting hurt. I don’t want to die. You saved my life seven years ago, and I want to take care of it. I never thought about sacrificing myself to save you. I just… I just…”

    “…”

    “I just want to live alongside you, Lieutenant. I want to stay close to you for a long, long time, see your face often, and talk a lot.”

    His earnest words flowed through the fabric he held, seeping into Seo-joon’s skin and heart.

    “I want to keep watching over my brother’s treatment, and I want to go eat delicious food with you. Even if I stop making mistakes at work, I’d like you to look out for me sometimes. I just like that. I like being with you.”

    “I know I’m still lacking a lot, but I’ll keep working to get better. So, please…”

    The same plea he’d heard before was repeated. Seo-joon reluctantly looked at Yeon-woo, who was tilting his head to meet his eyes.

    If this conversation had been over a call or through messages, it would have been easier for Seo-joon to handle. But whether out of intelligence or desperation, Cha Yeon-woo had come to see him in person, forcing Seo-joon to confront him directly.

    For Seo-joon, who had long avoided any uncomfortable situations, this was like facing his ultimate nemesis.

    Yeon-woo’s eyes slowly reddened, and his mouth slightly downturned. Faint wrinkles formed on his otherwise smooth, white forehead. Seo-joon looked at him, surprised. Surely not…

    “You’re not crying, are you, Yeon-woo?”

    Yeon-woo shook his head.

    “No, I’m not crying.”

    Seo-joon tried to get a better look at Yeon-woo’s averted face, but Yeon-woo turned away.

    “Don’t look.”

    Wait, really? Is he crying? Seo-joon could only stare at the silhouette of Yeon-woo’s cheek in disbelief. Despite his tears, he still wouldn’t let go of Seo-joon’s sleeve, an incongruous sight that nearly made Seo-joon laugh.

    But he suppressed it skillfully and spoke seriously.

    “Why are you crying over something like this? Aren’t you a man?”

    Is your life so empty of things to cry about?

    “I’m not crying. …I’m just about to sneeze.”

    “Sneeze?”

    Seo-joon let out a faint, exasperated chuckle.

    “Really?”

    “…No. It was a lie.”

    Clearing his throat as if suppressing something, Yeon-woo blinked while staring into the air. Seeing his precarious state, Seo-joon spoke firmly.

    “If you cry, I’ll kick you out. Hold it together, like a man.”

    “You’re so mean.”

    Mean? What’s mean about it? You’re the one being unreasonable, and I’m just being sensible. Seo-joon was genuinely taken aback. Still, it distracted him from the rising tide of his own trauma.

    Seo-joon had never been good at comforting crying children or men. So he had no choice but to crack a joke.

    “Aren’t you supposed to be convincing me to hire you right now?”

    Half-serious, of course.

    “I don’t need a guide who cries easily.”

    “You’re so mean…”

    “That’s informal speech.”

    “You’re so mean, Lieutenant.”

    Yeon-woo finally turned to look at Seo-joon with a resentful gaze. Thankfully, he held back the tears that had welled up. A fortunate moment for both Seo-joon and Yeon-woo.

    Seo-joon felt relieved. At the same time, he was slightly disappointed that he didn’t get to witness a grown man crying. It would have been a rare sight, especially with someone like Cha Yeon-woo.

    “Sigh…”

    Seriously, this is too much. Pretending to be deep in thought, Seo-joon let out a long sigh. Yeon-woo could hardly breathe as he watched. Several minutes of silence passed.

    Seo-joon slowly moved his hand. As he tried to pull his sleeve away, Yeon-woo’s face went pale with fear.

    “…Wait here for a moment. I’m not going anywhere.”

    His face looked as if he was about to suffocate, so Seo-joon gently took Yeon-woo’s hand to reassure him before letting go. He went to his room and turned on a tablet.

    Accessing a secure app, he saw the downloaded file at the top of the list.

    [Guide Exclusive Standard Contract.pdf]

    At the same time, a face from a video he had watched earlier came to mind, along with the name.

    The only dedicated guide in Seo-joon’s life: Min Seon-wook.

    Min Seon-wook had died.

    Ji Seo-joon’s dedicated guide, Min Seon-wook, was dead.

    Ji Seo-joon

    had killed

    his dedicated guide, Min Seon-wook.

    The harsh truth gradually crept up his throat, nearly overwhelming him. Seo-joon swallowed the bile and pulled out another tablet from the drawer.

    He had thought he would never fill Min Seon-wook’s position.

    But for some reason, Cha Yeon-woo’s words had shaken him deeply. “I want to live with you.” A simple sentence, but hearing it from a man he had saved made it feel profound.

    Not a time spent waiting for death but a life worth living.

    A life where he eagerly awaits the sequel to a movie he enjoyed, plans for a vacation months in advance, and buys detergent in bulk, believing he will use it all.

    He knew that would never be possible without pairing.

    Seo-joon walked out holding the two tablets.

    I hope I’m doing the right thing.

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