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    Deep Pivot Episode 56

    The once simmering heat had completely cooled down, leaving a warm, gentle ambiance in the bedroom.

    Seo-joon tenderly stroked Yeon-woo’s head, resting on his arm. The intimate atmosphere between them felt a bit awkward, so Seo-joon broke the silence with a playful joke.

    “Did you know you respond well to stimulation through your chest, Yeon-woo?”

    “…No.”

    After a brief hesitation, Yeon-woo replied.

    “It did feel good, but… honestly, I’m not sure.”

    Nestling deeper into Seo-joon’s shoulder, Yeon-woo gently traced his chest with his fingertips and spoke softly.

    “Just… I loved it most when you touched me like that and looked at me that way, Lieutenant.”

    “What way do you mean?”

    Yeon-woo’s fingers, which had been grazing Seo-joon’s collarbone, tensed up. After a longer hesitation, he finally spoke.

    “It felt like you desired me.”

    That made me happiest…

    This time, it was Seo-joon who fell silent. The feelings Yeon-woo had for him were too strong and fervent to simply be admiration. Seo-joon couldn’t deny that he also desired this innocent Cha Yeon-woo.

    So much so that even Yeon-woo could clearly see it.

    “A beautiful person like you, Yeon-woo… anyone would naturally want you.”

    Seo-joon tried to explain his feelings this way, though he wasn’t sure if it worked. Yeon-woo offered no response.

    “…But I feel sorry for you, Lieutenant.”

    Much later, Yeon-woo suddenly spoke up. Seo-joon, gently combing through Yeon-woo’s hair with his fingers, looked down with a puzzled expression.

    “What would you have to be sorry for, Yeon-woo? If anything, I should be the one apologizing.”

    Yeon-woo wrapped his arm around Seo-joon’s waist and rubbed his cheek against Seo-joon’s chest.

    “I was the only one who enjoyed it… I’m sorry for pushing you into something you weren’t comfortable with, Lieutenant.”

    “Yeon-woo, I enjoyed it just as much as you did, so don’t think that way. I’m not the kind of person to do things I don’t want to do. It’s just…”

    After a pause, Seo-joon spoke carefully.

    “…I’ve always been like this, regardless of who I’m with.”

    He lowered his head and gently caressed Yeon-woo’s cheek. He traced his fingers over Yeon-woo’s nose and brushed the eyes that were looking up at him so tenderly. After a brief silence, Yeon-woo asked cautiously.

    “…Is it because of something that happened in the past?”

    “…”

    “You don’t have to answer.”

    Yeon-woo’s soft cheek pressed between Seo-joon’s shoulder and neck. Seo-joon gazed at the ceiling and held Yeon-woo closer. He finally spoke up after a long pause.

    “It’s impossible not to be affected by that kind of experience.”

    This was the first time he’d confronted his past trauma directly instead of avoiding it.

    “I’m afraid of hurting my partner.”

    The warmth in his embrace made his first confession feel calmer than expected. He didn’t feel nauseous or like his heart was racing uncontrollably.

    Yeon-woo remained silent for a while. Seo-joon awkwardly smiled and made a joke.

    “Are you starting to regret being my guide?”

    “No.”

    Yeon-woo’s immediate response lacked any hesitation. Seo-joon wished Yeon-woo would express some regret. If he did, Seo-joon was willing to let him go, at least for now.

    He knew he was a monster. It was an undeniable, unpleasant truth. He was no different from the aberrations, capable only of harming and hurting others.

    Yeon-woo was too good a guide to stay with someone like him.

    Yeon-woo suddenly raised himself up slightly and placed a hand on the center of Seo-joon’s chest.

    “The monster living inside…”

    “…”

    “Isn’t you, Lieutenant.”

    Seo-joon took his hand and smiled weakly.

    “How can you be so sure?”

    “I just know.”

    Yeon-woo propped himself up on one arm and looked into Seo-joon’s eyes. Seo-joon turned his body to face him.

    “Even if you’re swallowed by some monster…”

    “…”

    “I know that you’re still inside.”

    In the darkness, their eyes locked, intertwined in silence.

    “You probably don’t remember, but that day in the tunnel at Yeonseon Mypark Station…”

    Yeon-woo spoke softly, like he was sharing a secret.

    “You told me to run.”

    Seo-joon frowned and laughed.

    “I did?”

    “Yes.”

    Impossible. Seo-joon brushed Yeon-woo’s cheek lightly with a smile.

    “When people are pushed to their limits, sometimes they hear things.”

    “It wasn’t a hallucination.”

    Yeon-woo’s honest, unwavering gaze met Seo-joon’s. The way Yeon-woo spoke made everything seem like it had to be true.

    “It was definitely you, Lieutenant. You even found my revolver, like this.”

    Yeon-woo wrapped his arms around Seo-joon’s waist and touched his back. Seo-joon just smiled. In that state, he still had the clarity to retrieve a gun? It was hard to believe, but if Cha Yeon-woo said it, then it must have been true.

    “I believe in you, Lieutenant.”

    The hand that had touched Seo-joon’s back moved to cover his chest.

    “I know the person inside here. I believe in your humanity.”

    “…”

    “One day, you’ll be able to control it. I’m sure of it.”

    Seo-joon was speechless. The lump rising in his throat was stifling.



    ‘Disgusting monster.’

    ‘Even with a high match rate, there’s no way he can guide his lieutenant one-on-one. Ugh, just thinking about it makes me sick.’

    ‘He acts so high and mighty because of his appearance, but he’s nothing more than a filthy waste inside.’

    ‘Who’s the desperate one here? No one will ever like you! Do you want to die from not getting a guide?’


    There was a time when those cruel words, thrown at him without mercy, left their mark on him. But after hearing the same thing over and over for most of his twenties, even the worst insults became dull.

    Now, the emotions he thought had worn away suddenly revealed themselves within him.



    ‘I want to live with you, Lieutenant. For a long, long time, right next to you… seeing you often and talking a lot.’

    …I want to live.

    In truth, he had always felt this way. He wanted to live. It was a desire he never dared to entertain, believing he didn’t deserve it, but… he wanted to live.

    For a long, long time, surrounded by people who care for him, to see their faces often, smile, and talk.

    And now, he desired something more. He wished the person who stayed by his side for a long time would be Cha Yeon-woo… such a bold hope.

    The lump rising in his throat quickly spread to his eyes. Seo-joon blinked away the sudden tears.

    “…Yeon-woo.”

    He reached out and cupped Yeon-woo’s cheek.

    “Can I kiss you?”

    Yeon-woo smiled shyly.

    “Don’t ask me that every time.”

    Repeating Seo-joon’s own words back to him, Yeon-woo leaned in. Seo-joon closed his eyes as warmth met his lips.

    In this affectionate and careful kiss, like savoring a candy that would soon melt away, the lump in Seo-joon’s throat began to dissolve.

    Seo-joon knew it wasn’t just the guiding that made this kiss special.

    This kiss wasn’t an over-turn; it was simply a kiss. It wasn’t about craving Yeon-woo’s guiding but about seeking comfort and solace in his warmth and kindness.

    “Sleep well, Yeon-woo.”

    “Goodnight, Lieutenant.”

    On the second night at the safehouse, their goodnight wishes were whispered into each other’s lips. Seo-joon closed his eyes, safely cocooned in Yeon-woo’s solid embrace.

    ✽✽✽

    A soldier delivering their meal handed something to Seo-joon.

    “What is this?”

    Seo-joon asked, inspecting the small box casually.

    “It’s a board game.”

    “…Pardon?”

    The soldier smiled faintly.

    “Our team has been playing it since the day before yesterday. It’s a good way to pass the time.”

    It was the third morning at the safehouse, and this was a small gesture of kindness from a soldier who had gotten to know them a bit.

    “What’s that, Lieutenant?”

    Just out of the shower, Yeon-woo approached Seo-joon, who was setting the meal on the table, and noticed the box.

    “A board game. They gave it to us, saying it’s a good way to kill time.”

    As Yeon-woo tore open disposable spoons and placed them in front of Seo-joon, Seo-joon opened the lids of their meal containers. They had gotten quite accustomed to each other’s presence.

    “Let’s play after we eat. We have plenty of time anyway.”

    There’s not much to do in here. Watching old DVDs of outdated movies is fine for a couple of hours, but that’s it. Still, it was a relief to have Yeon-woo around; at least they had someone to sit across from and share things with.

    As Seo-joon stirred his porridge, small shreds of jangjorim (soy-braised beef) were placed on top.

    “…”

    He glanced at Yeon-woo, who avoided eye contact and said, “I don’t like it very much. Please eat mine too, Lieutenant.”

    Just a few days ago, he’d seen Yeon-woo devour all the jangjorim at a Korean restaurant. What a funny excuse. Seo-joon feigned ignorance and ate it.

    “Don’t be picky, Yeon-woo. You’re too old to be complaining about side dishes.”

    Yeon-woo laughed at the joking reproach.

    “Let’s make a bet on what to have for our next meal. Using that.”

    Yeon-woo pointed at the board game box.

    “Let’s choose a menu the other dislikes, and the loser has to eat it.”

    “Pretty confident, aren’t you?”

    “I’m really good at board games. I was the best in my class.”

    Seo-joon burst out laughing at Yeon-woo’s response. During their lighthearted conversation, Yeon-woo quietly placed different side dishes onto Seo-joon’s spoon and chuckled silently.

    However, they didn’t end up playing the board game that day.

    Viktor, who had been exercising his right to remain silent throughout the interrogation, requested a one-on-one meeting with Ji Seo-joon.

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