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    Deep Pivot Episode 54

    “Yeon-woo, are you a kid?”

    As Seo-joon walked into the bedroom, he immediately addressed Yeon-woo, who was sitting on the bed. Yeon-woo quickly glanced up from the poetry book Seo-joon had left behind the day before.

    “I’m an adult.”

    “Then why are you acting like a child?”

    Lowering his eyes, Yeon-woo muttered softly.

    “When did I ever?”

    Seo-joon strode to the bed and snatched away the poetry book Yeon-woo was reading.

    “Like now. You’re sulking and acting immaturely, Yeon-woo.”

    “I told you it’s not sulking. I’m embarrassed.”

    “What’s so embarrassing? You liked it yesterday.”

    “I did enjoy it, but it’s embarrassing to face you, Lieutenant.”

    Yeon-woo turned his head to the side. Seo-joon sighed and sat on the bed, trying to cup Yeon-woo’s cheeks, but Yeon-woo avoided his hands.

    “Yeon-woo, look at me. Let’s talk this out. What’s so embarrassing?”

    Yeon-woo glanced at Seo-joon but then looked away again.

    “It would’ve been better if you enjoyed it as well.”

    He blinked slowly, as if organizing his thoughts, and spoke cautiously.

    “It’s embarrassing that I was the only one who enjoyed it.”

    “So you’re embarrassed because I didn’t climax, and you were the only one who did?”

    “…”

    Yeon-woo looked back at Seo-joon with a stern expression. In that disdainful gaze, Seo-joon realized he’d once again made a thoughtless remark.

    “Those words…”

    “I’m sorry. That was wrong. Please forget I said it.”

    “Words once spoken can’t be taken back, Lieutenant.”

    Seo-joon kept quiet, feeling like he was being scolded by a public service announcement.

    “…But you’re right about that,” Yeon-woo admitted.

    Then Cha Yeon-woo said something completely unexpected.

    “Lieutenant, I want you to do it too.”

    Seo-joon stared blankly at Yeon-woo, who was now meeting his gaze boldly, unable to believe what he’d just heard.

    “With my hand.”

    Cha Yeon-woo seemed to have gone mad. He must have been so embarrassed that he lost his mind.

    “…”

    Seo-joon opened his mouth but couldn’t form a coherent response. After a few moments, he managed to regain his composure and nodded.

    “Okay… maybe one day we’ll have that opportunity.”

    “…And what if that day is now?” Yeon-woo asked.

    Seo-joon found himself speechless again. Lieutenant, I want you to do it too. With my hand. What if that day is now? With this series of remarks, Yeon-woo had left Seo-joon completely stunned.

    “I just think… it would be fair.”

    Yeon-woo seemed to have reached some conclusion, nodding slowly.

    “If you’re not uncomfortable with it, Lieutenant, I’d like you to let me.”

    His face was so earnest that Seo-joon almost felt as if they were in the middle of a significant debate. It’s not entirely wrong… it would be fair, but…

    “So, to help you overcome your embarrassment, you want me to finish with your hand?”

    Is this really what we’re doing here?

    “Yes.”

    Guess so.

    Seo-joon nodded absently. Understood.

    He felt as if his maturity was being tested. In all his 29 years, he’d never faced such a confusing and ridiculous situation, made worse by the fact that it was brought about by a 20-year-old.

    Is this what they mean by today’s youth? No matter how mild-mannered Yeon-woo seemed on the surface, he was still 20. Seo-joon knew all too well how reckless, immature, and clumsy people of that age could be.

    Having a younger guide required this kind of preparation. He had to be ready to handle their unpredictable thoughts and actions like an adult.

    ✽✽✽

    “Dr. Kang, got the message?”

    Colonel Jin entered Heemin’s lab, giving him a light pat on the back in greeting.

    “Yes, Colonel. I know the video Seo-joon was talking about.”

    Heemin took out a tablet, his expression uneasy as he asked, “But why this video?”

    “Apparently, one of the people in it has a voice similar to the guy who tried to assassinate Lieutenant Ji.”

    “…”

    “Let’s play it, then. I want to see.”

    Colonel Jin peered over Heemin’s shoulder as he reluctantly started the video.

    The camera focused on a Russian man’s face, seated against what seemed to be the backdrop of an abandoned building.

    ▶ “At first, I thought it was some kind of delusion.”

    “Hey, look at the subtitles. How old is this video?”

    “I’m not sure…” Heemin pushed up his glasses and chuckled awkwardly.

    ▷ “How does it approach you?”

    For the first time, the interviewer’s voice could be heard.

    “Hey, skip forward.”

    The interviewer’s voice repeated, and Colonel Jin crossed his arms, tilting his head in curiosity.

    “Wow, that sounds pretty similar to me. Keep it rolling.”

    The interview continued between the No Named individual and the interviewer. Each time the interviewer’s hand appeared while adjusting the camera, Colonel Jin paid close attention.

    However, the auditory cues were more conclusive than the visual ones, and as the interviewer’s voice came through, his expression grew increasingly serious.

    “It’s not just similar; it’s identical. Dr. Kang, have a listen.”

    He played the interrogation video on his phone, where the man’s fluent Russian could be heard.

    “What do you think? You’d believe it’s the same person as the voice we just heard, right?”

    “…”

    Heemin pushed up his glasses with trembling fingers and answered hesitantly.

    “I’m not sure. It’s a common voice.”

    “A common voice? Does your social circle consist of opera singers? How could this voice be considered common?”

    “The audio quality is so different, it’s hard to say…”

    Heemin adjusted his crooked glasses and shook his head. Colonel Jin gave him a light pat on the shoulder.

    “Send this to me. Do you know when we obtained the video?”

    “…No.”

    “We can find that out quickly. It seems faster to identify the interviewer from the video than dig up Viktor’s entire background.”

    With a quick farewell, Colonel Jin left the lab. Alone, Heemin replayed the paused video with a grim expression. The tablet screen cast a pale glow on his ashen face.

    ▶ One thing
    ▶ is clear.
    ▶ It’s searching.

    ▷ What is it searching for?

    ▶ What it wants
    ▶ is me.

    ▷ It wants you?

    ▶ Yes.

    ▷ “You almost believe that the gate is alive?”
    ▷ That it’s sentient?

    ▶ It is definitely alive.

    A short laugh from the interviewer could be heard. But any hint of humor had vanished from his voice.

    ▷ So, you tried to rush into the gate?
    ▷ You almost threw yourself in.

    The Russian man seemed to recall a moment, looking into the distance before choosing his words cautiously.

    ▶ A part of me is in the gate.

    Suddenly, he winced, grimacing in pain as he shook his head violently. The interviewer remained silent, while the man slapped his palm against his ears, muttering.

    ▶ No. I stand corrected.
    ▶ Shut up
    ▶ The gate has me.
    ▶ I am
    ▶ part of it.”

    Suddenly, the Russian man’s face turned visibly pale, a sickly blue hue creeping over him. He gasped for breath like he was on the verge of suffocation. “Uhh, aaagh!” His trembling moans turned into shrieks.

    ▷ Seryozha?

    The interviewer’s concerned voice crackled through the screen, and the image shook slightly. The Russian man turned his gaze sharply toward something, his expression contorted in terror.

    His eyes remained fixed on an unseen presence, and the camera followed his gaze, but only an empty wall came into view.

    ▶ No! No! Please!
    ▶ Please, please, please, please, please!
    ▶ “No!

    Suddenly, the chair clattered loudly as it toppled over. The man’s retching and pained moans filled the air. Within the rapidly shaking frame, glimpses of his body revealed it was twisted grotesquely.

    ▷ Seryozha!

    The violently shaking and static-filled footage abruptly cut off there.
    TL/N: This is a name Seryozha. My friend told me since he’s russian, ‘is his name by any chance sergei? Seryozha is the nickname for sergei’

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