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    Loves Error

    Chapter 2

    Upon returning home, Hayun flung his bag aside. He lacked the energy to climb up another floor to reach his bedroom. His patience had reached its limit already. Besides, no one else was at home. With buttons undone, he entered the kitchen halfway through taking off his shirt. Feeling slightly cooler, he opened the refrigerator door.

    “I thought I’d melt from the heat.”

    He grabbed a chilled drink from inside and headed straight for the bathroom. After splashing some cold water on himself, the oppressive heat finally dissipated. Hayun roughly dried off before opening the bathroom door. Instead of finding the usual hallway, he stepped directly into his bedroom. Wearing only a shirt and underwear, he opened the door again, this time leading to the living room.

    With his toes, he turned on the fan as smoothly as water flowing, and with his hand, he grabbed the remote to turn on the TV. The news was just starting.

    The anchor reported that today had been issued a heat advisory warning, listing precautions people should take during this extreme weather. They also highlighted some positive aspects of the scorching temperatures.

    While excessive heat negatively affected human health and sleep patterns, monsters didn’t appear at night under these conditions. With longer daylight hours coupled with tropical nights, even creatures seemed impacted by the climate.

    However, relying solely on the weather forecast could be dangerous, especially for those venturing out late at dawn, since gates could open unpredictably anywhere. Despite repeated warnings, there were always individuals who chose not to heed them—a pattern evident throughout history.

    ‘Besides, creatures emerge during the day regardless of how hot it is.’

    Feeling drowsy after his shower, Hayun glanced at the clock with bleary eyes. It was five o’clock, which wasn’t quite ideal timing. He could’ve easily taken a nap if it had been two or three hours earlier, but falling asleep now would disrupt his nighttime rest.

    “We have breaking news regarding an incident today. At around 2 P.M., a monolithic gate opened near Yongin’s Ecological Research Institute for Monsters, releasing a group of C-rank beasts. Fortunately, hunters were on standby nearby as part of a field training exercise for underage espers and promptly contained the situation. However, it narrowly avoided turning into a catastrophic disaster. We’ll bring you more details from the scene.”

    Oh.”

    Kim Hayun groaned as he watched the news with bleary eyes. The incident from earlier today was being broadcast on television. Suddenly, his phone vibrated amidst the pile of clothes outside the bathroom door. Though it seemed out of reach, he stretched his toes to grab it.

    Should I answer? Or should I not?

    I shouldn’t, but maybe I should…

    Answering would fully wake him up, and he didn’t want that. Plus, he had no desire to move. He wished someone else could bring him the phone instead. Just then, there came an urgent sound of a lock opening, followed by Baek Mookyeong bursting into the room.

    “Kim Hayun!”

    “…..”

    “Why did you leave without me?” Baek Mookyeong’s face flushed red from the heat, and he sounded irritated. However, Kim Hayun refused to lift his head, even going so far as to block his ears against Baek Mookyeong’s complaints. Unable to tolerate this any longer, Baek Mookyeong strode over and stood directly in front of Kim Hayun.

    “Open the window.”

    “Just turn on the air conditioner.”

    “I hate air conditioning. Plus, we’d have to close all the doors too.”

    Kim Hayun tried pushing Baek Mookyeong’s leg away, but his half-hearted attempt couldn’t budge Mookyeong due to their significant difference in size and strength.

    “It’s hot!” Kim Hayun snapped irritably at Baek Mookyeong, who glared back. However, he didn’t argue further and turned on the air conditioner instead.

    “Why did you leave without letting me know?”

    “If I told you, you would’ve made me wait. Do you realize how sweltering it was today?”

    “You could’ve waited somewhere cool.”

    “But waiting is still inconvenient.”

    “At least give me a heads-up then. You didn’t even check your phone or messages.”

    “I was showering, so I didn’t see them.”

    “Yes, checking your phone once is such a difficult task.”

    “Mookyeong!”

    “What?!”

    “Mookyeong.”

    “……”

    “You’re mad because I left first?”

    Mookyeong glared at Kim Hayun with pursed lips. He turned away, blinking rapidly as if trying to calm himself down. Then, he announced that he was going for a shower and headed towards the bathroom while picking up his belongings strewn on the floor. Along the way, Mookyeong retrieved Hayun’s cell phone from his uniform pants pocket and tossed it back to him. Despite aiming for Hayun, the phone landed on the opposite sofa. Unlike Hayun, who couldn’t wait and immediately went to the bathroom, Mookyeong retreated to their room upstairs.

    Hayun turned off the TV. He leaned back and let out a soft sigh. Following his will, the open windows closed simultaneously. The room had become momentarily warmer with Mookyeong’s arrival but cooled down again now. It was quiet and refreshing around him.

    Eventually, unable to resist any longer, Hayun drifted off to sleep for a brief moment. However, it didn’t last long as he felt the couch sink under someone’s weight, causing him to open his eyes.

    “Kim Hayun.”

    Hearing his call, Hayun smiled lightly. But he wasn’t satisfied and called his name again. Finally, conceding defeat, Hayun spread his arms wide. Mookyeong promptly nestled into his embrace.

    “Don’t be so annoying, okay?”

    “No way, when have I ever annoyed you?”

    “Then why haven’t you been answering my calls?”

    “You contact me too frequently.”

    “It wouldn’t have been this bad if you had responded.” Mookyeong leaned his face against Hayun’s chest and glared at him. His intense gaze felt almost physically painful on his skin. As he adjusted their pillows, Hayun tried to come up with an excuse but couldn’t find a suitable one because Mookyeong was right.

    “…Well, I needed something worth responding to. What should I say when you ask what I’m doing while obviously knowing I’m attending field training?”

    The hastily concocted excuse sounded utterly feeble. Mookyeong sighed deeply before partially sitting up. Then, he pulled Hayun even closer in a firmer embrace.

    “So, when is Teacher expected back?” Hayun gently pushed Mookyeong away as he asked, but he refused to budge.

    “She went to a funeral today. It’s out of town, so she’ll be staying overnight.”

    “She didn’t mention anything this morning.”

    “She received the sudden news during lunchtime.”

    “Why didn’t she tell me?”

    “I heard about it at the crime scene earlier.”

    Hayun nodded, understanding the situation’s plausibility.

    “Then why not text her about it?”

    “I was planning to bring it up only if you replied with your annoying antics.”

    “What? What’s so annoying?” Hayun glared at Mookyeong, but he remained unfazed. Instead, he gently tapped his finger on his lips.

    “If anyone else talked to me like that, I wouldn’t have let it slide.”

    “Oh please, flexing your strength now?” As Hayun spoke, he swiftly rolled over. Mookyeong smoothly moved aside, anticipating his move. Finally able to breathe comfortably while straddling him, Hayun continued…

    “By the way, whose funeral is it? Do you know them?”

    “It’s Jeong Kiwoo. I don’t remember him from when we were younger. Do you?”

    “I think I’d recognize him only if I saw his picture.”

    Jeong Kiwoo, Jeong Kiwoo… Hayun repeated the name to himself. Although he couldn’t recall his face, he felt slightly anxious for some reason. Just then, Mookyeong reached out and gently stroked Hayun’s cheek.

    “You know, thinking about it, even if someone had told you they were attending their mother’s funeral, you probably wouldn’t have bothered responding.”

    “How did you figure that out?”

    “Because I’ve known Kim Hayun all too well.”

    Mookyeong’s response made Hayun giggle. Seemingly displeased with his laughter, Mookyeong shot him a sidelong glance.

    “I really dislike Kim Hayun.”

    “That’s unfortunate, because I quite like you.”

    “Stop lying already.”

    Mookyeong then gently pinched Hayun’s lips. He quickly released his grip when Hayun feigned pain, acting as if nothing had happened.

    “Give me a hug already. I haven’t seen you for two whole days.”

    “…..”

    Unlike the sudden appearance of today’s gate at the ecological research institute, there were clear signs indicating the opening of a labyrinth entrance. These included abrupt movements of animals or insects, deep-sea creatures surfacing, and distortions in space, among others.

    Once opened, a door either releases a fixed number of entities or remains briefly accessible before closing. In contrast, the entrance to a labyrinth, which allows continuous access until its ruler is defeated, is referred to as a ‘door’. Although both terms can be translated as “gate” in English, they differ significantly, leading most Koreans to distinguish between them.

    Baek Mookyeong was waiting for the labyrinth to emerge at the location where signs had been detected earlier. Both anticipating its appearance and clearing it afterward were part of his duties.

    ‘Now that I think about it, why did it open so quickly?’

    Kim Hayun pressed firmly on Baek Mookyeong’s chest, expressing his confusion.

    “I told you not to hug me.”

    “Weren’t you supposed to wait near the entrance?”

    “The planned mission got canceled due to complications, so we switched to dealing with low-rank monsters nearby instead. That’s why my mother could leave early too. Actually, there were indications from last night.”

    Baek Mookyeong’s mother, Seo Iju, possessed similar abilities as Kim Hayun. She could see doors connecting spaces and even open them. Currently, she served as the director of a research institute under the Special Disaster Management Team, analyzing potential labyrinth appearances.

    ‘That’s right, just because a labyrinth is detected doesn’t mean its entrance will open immediately.’

    Meanwhile, Baek Mookyeong spread his arms wide, mimicking Kim Hayun’s earlier gesture. Kim Hayun shook his head, citing the heat as an excuse.

    “But the air conditioning is on.”

    “You hug too tightly.”

    “I’ll be gentle this time.”

    It was nonsense talk. Just as Baek Mookyeong had known Kim Hayun for eleven years, he also knew him well. Moreover, they hadn’t seen each other for two days.

    ‘And today, the teacher isn’t even here.’

    Baek Mookyeong gently wrapped his arms around Kim Hayun’s waist, careful not to hold him too tight as promised. He then gazed at Hayun with desperate eyes.

    ‘This is awkward.’

    Despite his imposing physique and sharp features, he looked incredibly adorable to him. Unable to maintain eye contact without smiling any longer, Hayun burst out laughing. At that moment, Mookyeong spread his arms again and gently swayed his body, urging him closer.

    “Come on.”

    Unable to resist his coaxing, Hayun eventually leaned over him. As soon as he embraced him, Mookyeong wrapped his arms around his waist and swiftly turned their positions. He positioned Hayun deeper onto the couch and placed his legs over his.

    “…Kim Hayun’s scent.” Mookyeong let out a long sigh, releasing some of his anxiety and tension. His muscles relaxed, his voice softened slightly, and his tender caresses continued.

    Meanwhile, Kim Hayun frowned as he felt his body naturally succumbing to relief. The immediate sense of calm felt somewhat forced and uncomfortable. Nevertheless, there was no denying that he welcomed Mookyeong’s presence.

    ‘It’s been just two days since I last saw him.’

    It is said that those with psychic abilities have fragmented souls. Commonly, people believe there exists a universe within each person’s body. Typically, this inner universe strives for balance through their physical form, but it is believed that one’s soul assumes this role instead. However, espers possess unstable souls, preventing them from containing the universe within themselves; instead, it spills outwards.

    The more unstable the soul, the greater the psychic power generated. Conversely, the absence of any psychic ability signifies the most stable state, akin to a perfect equilibrium within the universe.

    Why were esper souls unstable? A renowned scholar from the past theorized that it was because their souls had been fragmented. Due to this fragmentation, another piece of their soul existed elsewhere, and being with that missing piece would make them whole again, providing both psychological and physical stability. Furthermore, since they were essentially one entity, they couldn’t harm each other, reducing the power stemming from instability.

    However, finding one’s counterpart was exceedingly rare, and when located, there was often a tendency for esoteric murder in pursuit of greater power.

    Today, after research revealed that possessing a counterpart could extend one’s lifespan and facilitate better control over their abilities, instances of counterparts killing each other have decreased significantly. On the contrary, external forces now frequently target individuals who possess their counterpart.

    No one wished for instability among espers, whether it be innocent civilians exposed to esper crimes or espers unable to find their pieces. The former didn’t want espers risking their lives once they discovered stability, while the latter couldn’t accept those without partners.

    Kim Hayun and Baek Mookyeong were each other’s missing piece. Thanks to this connection, they had been inseparable since birth. It was likely that they would also die together, just as they entered the world on the same day. He felt certain of this. After all, being born on the same day made dying together more probable, right? They had already come into existence, so death seemed inevitable.

    However, despite this certainty, Hayun harbored another thought.

    Since they would be together for their entire lives anyway, did it matter if they weren’t constantly side by side right now? Couldn’t he spend at least ten years with someone else?

    It wasn’t that Hayun disliked Baek Mookyeong. Being with him felt like two perfectly fitting puzzle pieces coming together, bringing a sense of stability. However, this perfect harmony made Hayun feel like he was losing his individuality. As a result, Hayun sometimes found Mookyeong suffocating.

    “Let’s just… just pull away a little bit. It feels too overwhelming.”

    Hayun tried to insert his hand between their touching chests. But due to his position leaning back on the sofa, he couldn’t push Mookyeong away effectively. Mookyeong smiled at Hayun.

    “I don’t want to.”

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