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    Loves Error

    Wouldn’t it be better to be honest in order to keep meeting? But what if being honest ends their meetings altogether? He’d never met someone who approached him with such a good feeling throughout his entire life. It would be a shame to lose him like this, but even without revealing his last remaining flaw, the decision was already in his hands.

    Jhi Yeonwoo bit his lip as if tearing it and continued speaking. 

    “I understand if you’re not into a flawed Omega. I don’t get hurt easily anymore, so you can be honest with me.”

    Finishing his words, Jhi Yeonwoo anxiously awaited a response, like someone awaiting a terminal diagnosis. But even as time passed, Choi Muhyuk’s answer did not come. Jhi Yeonwoo glanced up and, the moment he felt their eyes meet in the air, Choi Muhyuk tilted his head slightly.

    “But what if I still want to keep seeing you, Jhi Yeonwoo?”

    “…What?”

    An involuntary voice of surprise escaped.

     “You mean you want to keep seeing me even knowing my secret? Why?”

    Jhi Yeonwoo looked at Choi Muhyuk with wavering eyes, a thousand question marks floating in his mind. Choi Muhyuk took a sip of water, wiped his mouth with a napkin, and spoke.

    “I don’t understand why you think I would respond negatively. I thought I had shown enough interest in you so far.”

    “That’s…”

    “I like your unique aura, Jhi Yeonwoo. Whether you realize it or not, just watching you quietly, you have an incredibly captivating presence. Just like now.”

    “I’ve never heard that kind of thing before.”

    It was true. He had never heard such words, nor had there been an opportunity for someone to see him lost in thought. Jhi Yeonwoo fidgeted with his hands under the table, feeling a ticklish sensation.

    He felt like he was on a rollercoaster. The anxiety had surged when his secret of being a scentless Omega was exposed, but hearing Choi Muhyuk’s desire to keep meeting him despite that, excitement washed away the anxiety like a wave. It made Jhi Yeonwoo realize how simple he was.

    “Um, I hope you don’t think too hard about this. There’s a saying that love heals the wounds of a breakup.”

    Jhi Yeonwoo, who had been staring at his untouched cold meal, lifted his head. Choi Muhyuk hadn’t eaten much either, and had put down his spoon and not picked it up again.

    “I’m not asking for anything grand from you, Jhi Yeonwoo. I just want to do everyday things—eat together, have a drink, call when I’m curious, see you when I miss you, hold hands, kiss. Those everyday things.”

    “…People usually call that dating.”

    Trying to hide his trembling voice, Jhi Yeonwoo spoke, and a low laugh came from the other side.

    “Then I’ll do the dating, and you just go along with it. How about it?”

    Choi Muhyuk looked at him with slightly widened eyes, seeking agreement. Jhi Yeonwoo could only stare blankly at the handsome face in front of him.

    * * *

    A person’s first impression reveals a lot in a short amount of time. It takes only 5 seconds to determine what kind of personality they have and how well they match with you. It had been a while since Choi Muhyuk met someone who captured his attention in those brief 5 seconds.

    He still couldn’t forget the day he first saw Jhi Yeonwoo at Flower Fiancé. The image of Jhi Yeonwoo approaching him in a navy shirt and slacks, wearing a brown apron, was shockingly close to his taste. It was no wonder he kept thinking about Jhi Yeonwoo’s face even during the formal blind date.

    Choi Muhyuk thought Jhi Yeonwoo had a beautiful smile upon their first meeting. He assumed that, like his sunshine-like smile, Jhi Yeonwoo’s personality would be bright. It was nice to see him approach a first-time customer so warmly, even though the flower shop was small. People with such personalities often grew up in affluent environments without lacking anything, and Choi Muhyuk thought Jhi Yeonwoo must have as well.

    But he soon realized those thoughts were prejudices not long after getting to know Jhi Yeonwoo. Behind the smiling face, there was a shadow. The look on his face when deep in thought, as if choosing his words carefully, was sorrowful for his age. Whether it was when Jhi Yeonwoo talked about the language of marigolds or when he vowed never to date someone who would hurt him again, he wore the same expression.

    Choi Muhyuk couldn’t quite grasp what kind of hurt Jhi Yeonwoo had endured to make such a significant resolution. It felt too serious to be just a simple breakup. Could it be related to losing his pheromones?

    Though there were many clues, Choi Muhyuk had no intention of finding out the truth immediately, especially not by asking Jhi Yeonwoo directly. He didn’t want to touch on what might be a trauma for Jhi Yeonwoo. He had already seen Jhi Yeonwoo’s hurt expressions several times during the process of buying marigolds.

    As they finished paying and stepped outside, Jhi Yeonwoo was standing under the eaves of a Korean restaurant. 

    “Which way is your home, Jhi Yeonwoo? It’s far from here, right?” 

    Choi Muhyuk asked, stopping beside him. Jhi Yeonwoo blinked, estimating the distance from there to his home. 

    “Get in. I’ll give you a ride.”

    Choi Muhyuk looked up at the sky as he spoke. The sky, which had been gloomy since they entered the restaurant, was now full of dark clouds as if it might pour any moment.

    “The weather forecast said it might rain. It’d be terrible if you got caught in the rain on your way,” he said, although he hadn’t actually checked the forecast. He merely guessed it might rain because of the gloomy sky, preemptively blocking Jhi Yeonwoo from declining the offer.

    “Thank you,” Jhi Yeonwoo replied, accepting Choi Muhyuk’s kindness. Choi Muhyuk started the car with a remote and opened the door for him. Hearing the beep and seeing the lights flash, Jhi Yeonwoo got into the passenger seat.

    Driving smoothly on the quiet roads late at night, the car gradually slowed down. The brake lights of the cars ahead filled the view with red. 

    “Is there an accident? It shouldn’t be this congested at this hour,” Choi Muhyuk said. For the first time, Jhi Yeonwoo leaned forward to look ahead, seeing the densely packed cars not moving at all. What should have taken 30 minutes seemed like it might take over an hour.

    Choi Muhyuk tapped the steering wheel with his fingers before turning his head. His busy movements—opening his phone, checking the windshield, and glancing at Jhi Yeonwoo—looked anxious.

    “Do you live with your parents?” he asked, noticing Jhi Yeonwoo’s phone tapping. Jhi Yeonwoo quickly raised his head.

    “I was wondering if you have a curfew.”

    “I live alone…” Jhi Yeonwoo trailed off, fidgeting with his phone.

    “I feel like I’m making you late,” Jhi Yeonwoo said.

    “Don’t worry about it. I have free time too.”

    “But you have to go to work tomorrow,” Jhi Yeonwoo pointed out, showing Choi Muhyuk his phone. “I looked it up. There’s been a five-car collision on this road. It might take a while to clear.”

    The article Jhi Yeonwoo showed mentioned a five-car collision on their road, resulting in one death and three serious injuries, causing significant delays for at least 30 more minutes. 

    After reading the article, Choi Muhyuk looked at Jhi Yeonwoo. Meeting his gaze, Jhi Yeonwoo straightened up, placing his phone on his lap.

    “Director Choi, just drop me off at the station ahead. That might be better,” Jhi Yeonwoo suggested.

    “But I’m not okay with that.”

    Choi Muhyuk’s intention to drive Jhi Yeonwoo home, even lying about the weather forecast, was to spend a little more time with him. If he had planned to send Jhi Yeonwoo off just because of the traffic, he wouldn’t have made such a flimsy excuse. However, Jhi Yeonwoo’s determination made it hard to insist.

    Just as Muhyuk was wondering what to do, raindrops started to hit the windshield. The light patter quickly turned into a downpour. It was a sudden shower.

    “I said I saw rain in the forecast. It’d be a big problem if you got caught in this weather,” Muhyuk had guessed about the rain, but now it was actually pouring. It felt as if the heavens were helping him out.

    “How are you going to go in this rain?” Muhyuk asked. Jhi Yeonwoo looked bewildered, staring at the downpour through the windshield. Muhyuk leaned his elbow on the steering wheel, resting his chin on it as he watched Yeonwoo’s profile.

    “You don’t have an umbrella, do you?”

    “It feels like I’m imposing on you, Director Choi,” Yeonwoo replied, his eyes dropping like they were soaked with rainwater. His fringe slipped down, covering his temples and eyebrows.

    “I don’t understand why you think that way.”

    “Sorry?”

    “Are you planning to date me but get rides from other guys?”

    “No, that’s not what I meant…”

    “Unless you have a specific reason, just stay. It’s not easy to turn back if the traffic is this bad.”

    Yeonwoo, biting his lip, finally nodded in agreement. He fiddled awkwardly with his phone, not knowing what to do with his hands. Watching him, Muhyuk undid his seatbelt, took off his coat, and handed it to Yeonwoo.

    “Can you hold this for a moment?”

    “Oh, okay…”

    “If your legs get cold, you can cover them with it.”

    Surprised, Yeonwoo blinked. Realizing the genuine intention behind Muhyuk’s words, he looked at the coat in his hands and then carefully spread it over his chest so it wouldn’t drag on the floor. The large coat covered Yeonwoo completely.

    Maybe it was the warmth of the coat, but Yeonwoo yawned softly, covering his mouth with his hand and rubbing his eyes. Muhyuk watched him quietly and then adjusted the seat to recline. Startled by the moving seat, Yeonwoo looked at Muhyuk.

    “It might take some time. Try to get some rest. I’ll wake you when we arrive.”

    Yeonwoo, now leaning back, looked puzzled.

    “Why do you keep trying to make me sleep? I’m not sleepy at all.”

    Despite his words, his half-closed eyes were filled with drowsiness, and his voice was soft and relaxed. Muhyuk leaned on the steering wheel, half-turning toward Yeonwoo.

    “Are you afraid I might try something while you sleep?”

    “…I can’t say no,” Yeonwoo pouted, looking worried. His expression was so endearing that Muhyuk wondered if he was doing it on purpose.

    “Do you think I’ll believe you when you say that while fighting sleep?”

    “I’m serious…”

    Stubborn, aren’t we? Muhyuk found it both amusing and cute that Yeonwoo was adamant about not sleeping despite looking so tired. His lips formed a faint smile before returning to their usual expression.

    Their meetings had never been this careful before. Muhyuk still wasn’t entirely sure why. Maybe it was Yeonwoo’s unusually deep wariness or the fact that he didn’t have pheromones, unlike typical omegas.

    “Director Choi…”

    Muhyuk looked at him, their gazes meeting. As his stiff expression softened, Yeonwoo seemed lost in thought.

    “Don’t worry. Just sleep,” Muhyuk said, brushing Yeonwoo’s fringe aside. “I’m not interested in attacking someone who’s asleep.”

    The warmth of Yeonwoo’s scalp under his fingers and the soft hair slipping through his hand made Muhyuk’s touch linger. As Yeonwoo shifted, Muhyuk noticed the coat had slipped slightly. He carefully adjusted it, covering Yeonwoo’s chest again.

    “You look tired. Why didn’t you say something if you were sleepy?”

    “Yeah, I thought I was fine, but I guess I wasn’t.”

    Choi Muhyuk looked at Jhi Yeonwoo as if he didn’t understand what he meant.

    “I haven’t been sleeping well lately.”

    “Why not?”

    “I was waiting for a call.”

    Caught off guard, Muhyuk was jolted awake by Yeonwoo’s words. That statement, potentially loaded with meaning, filled him with a strange sense of anticipation.

    “Were you waiting for my call?”

    “Yes.”

    Yeonwoo clutched the coat with both hands, pulling it up. Although his response was without hesitation, his voice was drowsy and sluggish.

    “You disappeared in front of the convenience store and didn’t contact me for a week. That was too much, Director.”

    Had Yeonwoo been under some spell to be so honest today? Despite not having drunk any alcohol, his emotional expression was unfiltered. Muhyuk wondered if this was Yeonwoo’s true nature.

    Even though his eyes were heavy with sleep, he couldn’t fall asleep easily. Watching his fidgety, endearing movements, Muhyuk felt a mischievous urge.

    “Hmm, about that, I think I’ve already heard your answer.”

    “…Answer?”

    “You said you weren’t waiting.”

    “Did I say that?”

    “Ah, you’re going to deny it now?”

    There was no way Yeonwoo could have forgotten what happened just a few days ago. His eyes, flitting with memories, were conflicted.

    “Oh… I’m too sleepy to function. I’ll just sleep a bit, Director.”

    Hesitating, Yeonwoo pulled the coat up to cover his face and disappeared into it. He avoided further conversation, thinking it would be disadvantageous for him. Muhyuk watched this with amusement.

    Shortly after, the car was filled with the faint noise of the engine and Yeonwoo’s steady breathing.

    Muhyuk gently adjusted the coat that was covering Yeonwoo’s face, feeling it was too stifling. Yeonwoo, turning toward him in his sleep, continued to drift off.

    Muhyuk, half-turned, resting his elbow on the steering wheel, gazed at Yeonwoo’s sleeping face, lost in thought.

    ‘Director, I’ve promised myself never to date anyone who would hurt me again.’

    Yeonwoo’s words lingered in his mind. Coupled with the memory of Yeonwoo vaguely mentioning an accident when asked about his congenital pheromone deficiency.

    It seemed Yeonwoo had limited experience with relationships, and those he had were with problematic individuals. If this was true, Muhyuk’s assertive approach might have been quite overwhelming for him.

    He knew he needed to take things slowly, but he wasn’t sure how long his patience would last. He wasn’t the type to simply stand by when he found someone who caught his eye, and he had never exercised this much restraint before. Yet, Muhyuk was willing to endure anything to build a meaningful connection with Yeonwoo. It wasn’t about the pheromones; he simply enjoyed talking to Yeonwoo and spending time with him.

    The more he got to know Yeonwoo, the more he felt a protective instinct. Aside from being an Omega, on the surface, Yeonwoo seemed no different from him, yet their conversations stirred a strong desire to shield him.

    The odd thing was that this attraction wasn’t driven by pheromones alone. For Muhyuk, who had always based his interest in Omegas on their pheromones, Yeonwoo was a unique case.

    The headlights reflected off the raindrops, casting light over Yeonwoo as he slept.

    After a while, the sound of ambulance sirens pierced the air. Two ambulances, sirens blaring, sped past by them.

    Finally, Muhyuk adjusted his position, turning back towards the wheel.

    It seemed the accident was almost cleared up.

    * * *

    Choi Muhyuk checked the fuel level in the car as it idled. They had been parked in Jhi Yeonwoo’s officetel ground parking lot for about two hours. It was already past midnight, edging into the early hours of the morning, yet Yeonwoo remained asleep, lulled by the sound of the rain.

    He pressed his index and middle fingers against his tired eyes. The mounting fatigue was less bothersome than having to simply watch Yeonwoo sleep.

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