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    Deep Pivot, Episode 51

    “Son Yeon-gil. The guy who was with you.”

    Colonel Jin tossed a file onto the table in front of the man. The man, who had been ignoring anything said to him, quickly glanced at the interpreter.

    It wasn’t hard to deduce the reason for this deliberate tactic. He was likely using the language barrier as an excuse to dodge key answers and hinder the investigation, perhaps to protect his superiors or buy time.

    [I don’t understand what you’re saying.]

    “Keep playing dumb. Do you think we’d just sit around waiting for your confession?” Colonel Jin said.

    He stood up, leaned over the table, and opened the file in front of the man. The man glanced at the documents and gestured toward the interpreter, seemingly in protest.

    Before the interpreter could say anything, Colonel Jin flipped to the next page.

    “We were kind enough to translate everything into Russian for you, Viktor. Take a good look.”

    Grabbing the man’s neck, he forced his head down so he could see the documents.

    “Son Yeon-gil. Age 27. S-rank Binder. He was in the Russia-China Joint Special Forces and declared dead six years ago.”

    The man tried to straighten his head, but Colonel Jin gripped the back of his neck more firmly, tapping a part of the document with his fingers.

    “But this guy has been running around everywhere since then, hasn’t he? From the New China Federation to Russian regional government forces and even private Awakener organizations in the U.S., he helped us immensely by making himself known.”

    The interpreter translated, and after a pause, Colonel Jin flipped to the next page.

    “And this one turned up too. Lee Young-choon. The guy with braces. An S-rank Controller.”

    Seo-joon had identified both of the assassins.

    “We have our networks. We’ll uncover everything eventually. Not just your nationality, but down to the number of spoons in your house. It won’t take even half a day.”

    And then it happened.

    [Son Yeon-gil. Lee Young-choon.]

    The man repeated the two names aloud.

    [They were just private hitmen I hired. We don’t know much about each other,] he said through the interpreter.

    Colonel Jin leaned closer to the man. “Let me tell you what you can do now. Write down the name of the boss who ordered you to assassinate our Espers. After that, things will be much easier for you.”

    The interpreter was about to translate, but Colonel Jin raised his hand to stop him. He understands perfectly well.

    “But if you keep your mouth shut? You think we can’t figure it out? You’ll be the one screwed in the end. The assassination attempt has already failed. You’ve completely messed up!”

    Bang! He slammed the man’s head onto the table before stepping back.

    For the first time, the man’s expression twisted in pain. He lifted his cuffed hands to cover his forehead.

    The interpreter quickly translated Colonel Jin’s words. The man, rubbing his forehead in pain, looked at the interpreter.

    [I’m exercising my right to remain silent. Tell that man directly. If he touches my head one more time…]


    —I’ll smash your head in, you bastard.

    The familiar voice flowed from the tablet speakers, a steady baritone with little variation in tone.

    The interrogation video ended that way.

    The man’s patience, having relied on Russian the whole time, finally broke at the end. Seo-joon replayed the video a couple more times, focusing on the man’s words before shutting it off.

    At the time, he hadn’t realized it, but seeing the man in the video brought about a strange sense of déjà vu. Not from the face, but from the voice speaking Russian.

    The soldier who took the tablet from Seo-joon said.

    “You’re scheduled to speak with Colonel Jin Hyun-jung tomorrow. He said he’s too busy today.”

    “I understand.”

    The soldier, who was about to leave, turned back and asked.

    “How should we deliver your breakfast tomorrow?”

    “Same as dinner, just one serving of a regular meal.”

    Seo-joon replied, intending to see the soldier off. But before he could, Yeon-woo interjected.

    “Please include some liquid food as well.”

    “Not just plain porridge, but something with meat and vegetables. Finely pureed, and no seafood, please.”

    Seo-joon raised an eyebrow at Yeon-woo as he listed these specific requests.

    “Understood. We’ll arrange for that tomorrow morning.”

    The soldier responded, listening attentively before departing.

    With the house quiet once more, Seo-joon turned to Yeon-woo.

    “Now you’re deciding my meals?”

    He chuckled, a little incredulously.

    “You didn’t eat anything today.”

    “I did eat. Pineapple.”

    “You mean the canned pineapple from my lunch?”

    “Well, eating is eating.”

    Seo-joon headed toward the bedroom, but was stopped by a remark from Yeon-woo.

    “Sometimes, Lieutenant, you really act like a child.”

    “…What did you say?”

    “Refusing to eat is worse than Jeong-woo when he was five.”

    Seo-joon laughed, finding the comment both surprising and amusing.

    “It seems like you’re pretty comfortable around me now, Yeon-woo.”

    Yeon-woo frowned slightly.

    “But isn’t it okay to speak up a little? I’m your dedicated guide.”

    Seo-joon frowned back in mock annoyance at Yeon-woo’s slightly pouting expression.

    “Why are you wasting your guide? You didn’t even hold my hand today or take a single spoonful of the liquid food I asked for.”

    Momentarily speechless, Seo-joon sighed lightly. I tried to be considerate after pushing him hard yesterday, and now he’s complaining like a spoiled pup.

    “Yeon-woo, were you going to take a shower?”

    Seo-joon asked instead of responding directly to his complaints.

    Why is he asking that now?

    Yeon-woo’s face was filled with silent protest, still holding onto his indignation.

    Seo-joon met his gaze calmly.

    “When you’re done showering, come out without putting on any clothes.”

    Yeon-woo’s tightly pressed lips parted slightly.

    “You said not to waste you, right? Let’s see how useful you can be.”

    Yeon-woo’s defensiveness crumbled instantly, leaving him looking stunned. Seo-joon chuckled softly as he walked to the bedroom. A moment ago, Yeon-woo had been whining insistently, but now, like a scolded puppy, he was left silent.


    Why is he taking so long in the shower?

    Seo-joon thought as he flipped through a thin poetry book from the shelf.

    The faint sound of the shower echoed continuously, as if Yeon-woo was trying to scrub every inch of his skin. It had been at least 30 minutes since Seo-joon had begun skimming the unreadable text, blankly staring at the words.

    Closing the book, Seo-joon checked the time. He started counting down from one minute. 59, 58, 57…

    Who am I kidding, I’m not waiting a whole minute.

    Barely five seconds had passed before Seo-joon dropped the book and headed for the bathroom. He shed his robe to the floor and yanked open the fogged-up shower booth door.


    He quickly captured Yeon-woo’s wet lips in a kiss. The water that had been soaking Yeon-woo’s hair poured down over Seo-joon’s head.

    Startled, Yeon-woo’s chest pressed tightly against Seo-joon’s. Pushing him against the wall, Seo-joon tilted his head and grabbed Yeon-woo’s chin.

    “Planning to stay here all night? Are you testing my patience?”

    Seo-joon whispered in a low voice, his lips briefly brushing against Yeon-woo’s. He gently alternated between Yeon-woo’s upper and lower lips, nibbling them.

    “You asked me not to hold back, so why are you scared? Are you worried I’ll act like a beast again? I held back a lot, you know.”

    “No, no… I’m not sca—mmph…”

    Seo-joon pecked at his lips repeatedly, cutting him off.

    I’m just too nervous…

    The words barely formed between their shallow kisses before fading away.

    Seo-joon grabbed Yeon-woo’s wandering hands and placed them around his waist, then switched positions so that his back was against the wall. He reached out to turn off the shower to avoid the water still pouring down on them.

    “Don’t be nervous. You take the lead, Yeon-woo. I won’t act too harsh like yesterday.”

    The now-quiet shower stall was filled with a damp silence as Seo-joon raised his palms and offered them to Yeon-woo, who stood looking down at him.

    Yeon-woo’s throat bobbed, and he carefully pulled Seo-joon closer, his hand gripping Seo-joon’s hip. Their wet bodies pressed against each other. Seo-joon wrapped his arms around Yeon-woo’s neck to make him more comfortable.

    “…If anything makes you uncomfortable, please let me know, Lieutenant.”

    Water dripped from Yeon-woo’s trembling lashes and rolled down Seo-joon’s cheek.

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