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    Deep Pivot Episode 60

    ‘Soon, the whole world will tell you to die.’

    Seo-joon blinked quietly, staring up at the dark ceiling. In truth, Viktor’s words weren’t that shocking or unreasonable when he thought about it.

    His Esper ability was essentially turning into an unknown monster. He couldn’t even predict how big or powerful he could become.

    There were times when he shrank down so small he could be stepped on, and other times when he expanded to the size of a three-story building.

    If he were to lose control and become something more overwhelming than that, the world would likely wish for his death.

    …Was this an indication that he had little time left before going rogue?

    Did it mean his body had a limited threshold? Maybe that was why the Russian No-Named couldn’t endure and ended up making such a request to his guide.

    “Lieutenant.”

    A soft voice called from beside him.

    “You haven’t fallen asleep?”

    Seo-joon asked, slightly surprised. It was the dead of night.

    “I had a feeling you weren’t able to sleep.”

    How could he have known? Seo-joon hadn’t been tossing and turning; he had just lain there, breathing quietly.

    “…I just can’t sleep. Maybe it’s because I’ve been indoors all day.”

    “Want to hold hands?”

    Seo-joon chuckled at the suggestion.

    “Aren’t you the one who’s scared? Seeing that scene from the other day must have been so shocking that it comes to mind even with your eyes closed, right?”

    “Yes, I’m scared.”

    Seo-joon turned slightly and opened one arm.

    “Come here.”

    Without hesitation, Yeon-woo moved closer and wrapped his strong arms around Seo-joon’s waist. The warmth that enveloped him made Seo-joon realize he had been trembling slightly.

    The chill he hadn’t noticed was dispelled by Yeon-woo’s warmth, leaving Seo-joon with a slight tingle. Feeling a bit embarrassed, he mumbled an excuse.

    “…It’s gotten a little chilly.”

    “Maybe it’s because fall is coming.”

    “And you’re still far from graduating.”

    “Fall is short. Winter will be here soon, Lieutenant.”

    Seo-joon let out a quiet laugh and held him closer. With his head buried in Seo-joon’s chest, Yeon-woo’s breaths were warm against his clothes, coming and going in soft puffs. The sensation reached Seo-joon’s heart, making him feel ticklish.

    Simply holding him eased his anxiety a little. To keep the conversation going, Seo-joon asked

    “What do you want to do when you graduate?”

    “Take off my uniform.”

    “Well, that’s a given.”


    Seo-joon responded with a smile.

    “Team Leader Jin said we should have regular shooting practice once you graduate—twice a week. Second Lieutenant Kang Chae-won also offered to teach you martial arts.”

    “But those are things you have to do. Is there anything you want to do?”

    “Hmm… I’d like to help Jeong-woo with his studies every day, and spend more time with you, Lieutenant.”

    “With me? You’ll be busy with all those things. How will you fit me into that schedule?”

    “…Then I’ll give up something else.”

    Their conversation flowed continuously, and there was no longer any awkward silence between them. Even if there were, neither would find it uncomfortable.

    “Still can’t sleep?”

    “Talking to you has woken me up even more.”

    “Want to know a good way to fall asleep?”

    “Sure, what is it?”

    Seo-joon looked down at Yeon-woo nestled in his arms. Yeon-woo slightly raised his head and touched the tip of Seo-joon’s nose with his own.

    “Focus on the other person’s breathing.”

    “…”

    “And then sync your breathing with theirs.”

    Seo-joon remained silent, letting Yeon-woo continue. He slowly matched his breathing to Yeon-woo’s pace, feeling the warmth of each exhale against his nose. After a while, Seo-joon spoke up.

    “Is this really a way to help sleep? It feels like you’re trying to sneak in a kiss.”

    Yeon-woo pulled back, looking slightly deflated, and pouted.

    “…You wouldn’t fall for it anyway.”

    “Why do you think that? You need to have some ambition.”

    “Would you fall for it?”

    “I never said I would. But you can still dream big, even if you don’t succeed.”

    Seo-joon burst out laughing. The cold he felt deep inside had completely vanished with Yeon-woo’s warmth.

    “You’ll be even better to hug in winter. You’re so warm.”

    “Then hug me a lot in winter.”

    “Sure thing.”

    Seo-joon gently stroked Yeon-woo’s hair with one hand and closed his eyes. If he slept in this position, his arm would definitely go numb by morning. But he didn’t want to pull Yeon-woo away from his embrace.

    Yeon-woo’s suggested method didn’t work in the end, but Seo-joon quickly fell asleep thanks to Yeon-woo’s warmth. In the morning, he woke up to find himself wrapped in Yeon-woo’s arms instead, which was a little surprising, but overall, it was a good morning.

    “Is this the last in the series?”

    “Yes, I think so.”

    Yeon-woo replied while looking through the DVD shelf. After a few days of isolation, all they could do during the day was watch movies. Just as Yeon-woo was about to insert the DVD into the player, the radio receiver buzzed to life.

    — Headquarters calling.

    “Agnes responded.”

    — Exit the safehouse immediately and head to the rear gate… board the #$%^&.”

    Bang! Bang! The transmission, crackling with static, was interrupted by gunfire. Seo-joon jumped to his feet.

    Before he could issue orders, Yeon-woo ran to the bedroom and pulled out two small revolvers from a console drawer. This was the only weapon they had been issued in case of an emergency.

    Seo-joon took one of the revolvers from Yeon-woo and said sternly, “Stay behind me at all times. Even if they have guns, I’ll handle it. Yeon-woo, save your strength for guiding me.”

    The problem wasn’t Seo-joon but Cha Yeon-woo. If the safehouse were attacked, Seo-joon could withstand the initial fight and rely on Yeon-woo’s guidance afterward, but Yeon-woo could die instantly if he was hit by a single bullet.

    In this moment, Yeon-woo felt like a fragile glass ornament to Seo-joon, making him unbearably anxious. The thought of losing Yeon-woo made his heart pound with fear.

    Bang! Bang! Bang! Bang! At that moment, an enormous explosion shook the room. The front windows shattered, and Seo-joon wrapped his arms around Yeon-woo’s head. Shards of glass rained down on them.

    “Ugh….”

    A glass shard embedded itself in Seo-joon’s hand from the blast’s pressure. He was relieved that it hadn’t hit Yeon-woo. If Yeon-woo had foolishly shielded him like last time, Seo-joon wouldn’t have forgiven him.

    Without saying a word, the two opened the front door and rushed out.

    “…”

    Soldiers stationed in the hallway, including the one who regularly delivered food and board games to Seo-joon and Yeon-woo, lay bleeding on the floor.

    Seo-joon moved among them, searching their pockets, and found a phone in one soldier’s inside pocket.

    “The safehouse has been compromised. Send reinforcements immediately.”

    He called Colonel Jin, briefly informed him of the situation, and hung up before grabbing Yeon-woo’s hand and heading for the emergency exit. They passed soldiers sprawled across the stairs as they descended.

    A whistle sounded from below. Seo-joon pulled Yeon-woo behind him and peered down through the stairwell railings.

    Unknown intruders were coming up the stairs. There were five of them. They were probably Espers, given that it was unlikely ordinary assassins would be sent against a No-Name.

    “This is Agnes. Respond.”

    Seo-joon attempted to radio his team while leading Yeon-woo upstairs. Going to the rooftop wasn’t the best option, but they had no choice.

    He opened the rooftop door to check if there was an emergency exit or some other means of escape. But as he opened the door, he froze.

    “…”

    A red-haired man in black techwear spotted Seo-joon and Yeon-woo, his eyes widening. Around him floated six or seven daggers, their handles and blades entirely made of metal, forming circles in the air.

    For Seo-joon, who had been anxious about even a single shard of glass reaching Yeon-woo, this was extremely unfortunate.

    The nausea that had settled over the past few days in the safehouse resurfaced, and the monster lurking within him began to stir.

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