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    Loves Error

    Deep Pivot, Episode 44

    “Yeon-woo, did you have breakfast?”

    Hee-min broke the silence as he entered the room. Seo-joon, who had moved away from Yeon-woo, returned to his seat.

    “No, not yet.”

    “Seo-joon kept you up too late last night.”

    “Oh, that’s not it… it’s more like Lieutenant couldn’t sleep because of me.”

    “So, Yeon-woo didn’t let Seo-joon sleep?”

    “Yes.”

    Hee-min laughed as he sat in front of Yeon-woo, who, confused by what was funny, simply stared blankly at the chip in its case. The capsule was much smaller than a fingernail, so tiny it would be impossible to find if dropped on the floor.

    “Will it hurt?”

    Hee-min gently warned as he rubbed an alcohol swab over Yeon-woo’s arm. He brought a medical camera close to the arm resting on the cold surgical table. A sharp scalpel touched the skin, revealing the prominent veins.

    “Just a little pinch.”

    Holding the chip with tweezers, Hee-min checked the enlarged wound on the monitor.

    “It’s all done. You’ll feel two more pricks, okay?”

    Seo-joon chuckled. The words were a bit much to say to a grown man. Though Yeon-woo didn’t grimace or complain, the doctor was fussing around unnecessarily.

    But Seo-joon’s laughter faded as Hee-min finished implanting the chip and started closing the wound.

    “Make sure there’s no scar, Hyung.”

    “Cha Yeon-woo isn’t just your ‘baby.’ Don’t worry, I’ll do it well.”

    Hee-min replied, laughing as if he couldn’t believe Seo-joon’s request. Yeon-woo, who calmly watched his wound being stitched up, finally stood up when the procedure was complete. Covering the inside of his gauzed arm with his hand, Yeon-woo expressed his gratitude.

    “Congratulations, Cha Yeon-woo. Now you’re officially a full-time SAU member.”

    “All the other new guides are already full-timers, so what’s Hyung talking about?”

    “Well, still, this is different.”

    Hee-min dragged out his words as he pulled something out of a drawer. It was a case containing a small revolver.

    “Yeon-woo, you’ve now become an awakened one who can lawfully carry a firearm.”

    This was a firearm given to Yeon-woo for accumulating the required scores through Hee-min’s theoretical training and Seo-joon’s practical training.

    Most guides naturally earn their firearm licenses during shooting practice at the training center, but since Yeon-woo was thrown directly into fieldwork, his process had been quite different.

    “Only use this against aberrant creatures, Yeon-woo. Understand?”

    Hee-min gently urged.

    “Each bullet has a code. If investigated, they can trace it back to you. So, don’t go firing at people you dislike, okay?”

    Only Yeon-woo nodded seriously to those words, prompting Hee-min and Seo-joon to burst into laughter.

    ✽✽✽

    “Yeon-woo, when are you available?”

    As they exited the center’s parking lot, Seo-joon kept his eyes on the quiet road while asking the question. Yeon-woo looked at him with a puzzled expression.

    “Uh… me?”

    “Team Leader Jin suggested having a company dinner. He wanted to know when you’re free.”

    “I’m available anytime.”

    “Anytime? So how about Monday at 11 a.m.?”

    “…What?”

    Seo-joon let out a light chuckle.

    “Yeon-woo, you’re still a student. While it doesn’t matter much for us whether it’s a weekday or weekend, it’s different for you. Just think it over and let me know.”

    “Oh, then I’m free on weekends.”

    Satisfied with this answer, Seo-joon nodded. “Right, that makes the most sense,” he said as he turned the steering wheel.

    “What do you want to eat? I wanted to bring Jungwoo, but he’s fasting for his test.”

    “I don’t really….”

    “If you say ‘anything,’ you’ll be in trouble.”

    Seo-joon’s warning made Yeon-woo stop mid-sentence.

    What will he choose? The destination in the navigation system would change based on his answer. Seo-joon waited patiently, just driving in silence for a few seconds.

    “Then let’s play the ladder game.”

    “…What?”

    Seo-joon glanced at him, surprised by the unexpected answer. Holding his phone, Yeon-woo explained clearly.

    “I want to know what Lieutenant likes to eat, so let’s each pick two dishes we want and decide through the ladder game.”

    Cha Yeon-woo, who had always seemed naive, wasn’t so simple anymore. Seo-joon smiled, thinking for a moment.

    “Hmm, sushi?”

    “Sushi.”

    Yeon-woo tapped on his phone with the ladder game app open.

    “I’ll choose tteokbokki.”

    “Tteokbokki? You’re definitely a high school student, Yeon-woo.”

    “Your turn, Lieutenant.”

    “Well… there’s a good Korean set meal place nearby.”

    “Do you like Korean food?”

    “Well, I don’t have strong preferences either way. Oh, but I don’t like fish.”

    “So, you don’t like sashimi?”

    “Sashimi is fine, but I’m not a fan of cooked fish. I wouldn’t spend my own money on it.”

    The conversation about food preferences flowed naturally, and the car no longer felt silent without music. Yeon-woo claimed he didn’t particularly dislike any foods, but after talking more, it became clear there were still many dishes he hadn’t tried.

    The ladder game decided on a Korean set meal. When the results came out, only two Korean set meals and two sushi sets were listed, with none of Yeon-woo’s choices. Essentially, the ladder game was played with only Seo-joon’s selections.

    “So this is how you’re passing off your menu choice, Yeon-woo?”

    Yeon-woo laughed at Seo-joon’s words. Seo-joon glanced at him with newfound curiosity. He looked even more beautiful with that wide smile. It was one of the few times he had seen him smile so comfortably.

    How can a guy be so attractive? He must take after his mother a lot. Even now, as a man, he’s probably quite popular, but if he had been born a woman, life would have been challenging with a face like that.

    Seo-joon, still staring at him, suddenly asked.

    “Yeon-woo, you’re quite popular, aren’t you?”

    “…What?”

    Yeon-woo turned his wide eyes toward Seo-joon, who chuckled lightly and looked straight ahead.

    “You’re beautiful.”

    I asked because you seem popular. The traffic light changed, and Seo-joon stepped off the brake and slowly pressed the accelerator. From the passenger seat, there was no response.

    A quick glance showed Yeon-woo quietly looking down, his white hair framing his profile. His ears, peeking through his hair, were especially red.

    ✽✽✽

    “When the food arrives, sit next to me.”

    As Seo-joon entered the private dining room, he noticed Yeon-woo naturally choosing the seat across from him. He stopped mid-sit and looked at Seo-joon curiously.

    “Aren’t you going to guide me? I thought you’d be prepared for that, since we came to eat together.”

    “Oh… uh, yes, yes. Should I move now?”

    Seo-joon smiled and stopped him before he could stand up.

    “Not now. Do you want to look like a lovey-dovey gay couple in a restaurant?”

    “N-no…”

    Yeon-woo slowly sat back down, answering hesitantly. Seo-joon took a sip of water from his cup, noticing Yeon-woo’s visibly reddened face.

    “Just in case you’re wondering, there’s CCTV in the room.”

    “…What?”

    “We’ll just hold hands. We can’t do more than that in a public place.”

    Yeon-woo nodded vigorously, though his face still remained red.

    Soon, a staff member brought in the dishes and left. Since they had requested the full course be served at once, appetizers, main dishes, and desserts filled the table.

    *Srrrr… Srrrr…* From across the table came a faint scraping sound. Yeon-woo was slowly pushing his porridge bowl forward, glancing at Seo-joon to see if he should move. Seo-joon swiftly pulled the bowl toward himself and placed it firmly next to him.

    “…”

    Only then did Yeon-woo stand up and move over to sit next to Seo-joon. Their knees bumped lightly. Yeon-woo let his legs dangle under the low chair, putting some distance between himself and Seo-joon, but Seo-joon’s arm slipped around Yeon-woo’s waist and pulled him closer.

    “It’s easier to hold hands when you sit close.”

    He then picked up his spoon with his other hand, and something light rested in his palm. Seo-joon turned his head and looked down at his hand. Cha Yeon-woo’s hand was there, resting on his palm.

    It was quite literally just resting, like a puppy placing its paw in its owner’s hand.

    “…Isn’t this how…?”

    His eyes rolled left and right, silently asking that question. The sight made Seo-joon’s fingers flinch, and before Yeon-woo could pull his fingers back, Seo-joon intertwined their fingers together.

    “Like this. Or…”

    He unlocked their fingers and reversed his grip, now holding Yeon-woo’s wrist firmly.

    “Or like this. This grip covers more surface area.”

    “Ah.”

    Yeon-woo, now understanding, wrapped his hand around Seo-joon’s wrist the same way, nodding in acknowledgment.

    “Have you never held hands with a girlfriend? Do I need to teach you even this?”

    “I’ve never had a girlfriend.”

    “Oh, I see.”

    Seo-joon gave a short reply and went back to using his spoon. “If you find someone good, try dating. You’ve got to live up to your looks.”

    “A shame to waste that pretty face.”

    “…Am I pretty?”

    The sudden question from beside him took Seo-joon by surprise. It’s not a question people typically ask themselves. He turned to meet Yeon-woo’s gaze, laughing incredulously.

    “You don’t know that?”

    “I just… whenever I meet you, you always call me pretty.”

    “Oh, is calling a guy pretty rude? Then, I’ll take it back.”

    His large hand that encircled Yeon-woo’s wrist shifted slightly, covering his entire forearm.

    “Don’t take it back.”

    Yeon-woo’s index finger slowly traced up to the inside of Seo-joon’s elbow.

    “…I don’t think it’s rude.”

    Then came that moment again, where time seemed to skip and the flow felt oddly off.

    Seo-joon suddenly felt a flutter inside. Not an unpleasant nausea, but rather a ticklish stirring as if butterflies were fluttering in his stomach.

    It seemed that guiding could provoke this kind of response too.

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