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    Loves Error

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    2. Shadow 2 (Part 4)

    Steam leaked out from the slightly open bathroom door. Cheon Sejoo finally found the person he was looking for. Kwon Sejin was inside the open shower stall, cleaning the floor with the showerhead. His eyes, which had been wary, froze with surprise.

    Kwon Sejin is alive and well. D*mn it.

    “Sorry…”

    Feeling relief for only a moment, Cheon Sejoo quickly apologized and closed his eyes, realizing that he had done something he shouldn’t have done to a girl. However, the image of Sejin’s naked body was already seared into his mind, plunging him into deep confusion.

    What did I just see?

    “…Are you out of your mind?”

    At the husky voice that grated on his nerves, Cheon Sejoo opened his eyes wide. It was not a mistake. Something that shouldn’t be hanging on an eighteen-year-old girl was hanging on her.

    “Get out!”

    Seeing Kwon Sejin’s fully exposed lower body, Cheon Sejoo heard a trembling voice echoing in the bathroom. He finally came to his senses and looked up. Despite confirming that Sejin had male gen1tals, it was impossible to believe he was a boy. His beautiful face was filled with shame, his cheeks and eyes were red as he glared at him.

    “Sorry.”

    Seeing that face, Cheon Sejoo felt he had done something wrong and quickly apologized, closing the door. He heard the click of the doorknob, and his vision was blocked, but he couldn’t move and stood there motionless for a long time.

    “He’s a boy…?”

    In his shock, the question that had been swirling in his head came out in words. Cheon Sejoo muttered stupidly with his mouth hanging open. Kwon Sejin’s gen1tals, covered with dark hair, kept flickering before his eyes.

    “F*ck…?”

    Feeling suddenly weak, Cheon Sejoo took a few shaky steps and perched on the vanity table in the dressing room. Cold sweat trickled down his spine. His heart, which had been pounding in fear for Sejin’s safety, was now racing for a different reason.

    Cheon Sejoo took slow, deep breaths to calm himself. His dark eyes regained their coolness, and his gaze wandered in the space for a moment before settling on one spot.

    What the hell is with that kid…?

    After realizing the situation, he was overcome with a sense of absurdity. Kwon Sejin is a boy? When he asked if he was a girl, he clearly said….

    ‘Can’t you tell just by looking?’

    Cheon Sejoo narrowed his eyes, recalling the conversation from a few days ago. Sejin had never directly said he was a girl. He had only questioned why Cheon Sejoo needed to ask when it should be obvious just by looking.

    But d*mn it…

    Who would think he’s a boy with that kind of face?

    Furthermore, Sejin hadn’t said anything after seeing that Cheon Sejoo had given him a nightgown and a girls’ underwear. It clearly meant that he knew that he misunderstood him, however, he just ignored it.

    Cheon Sejoo let out a laugh in disbelief. Of all people, he couldn’t believe that he had failed to recognize a man. He had truly been completely fooled.

    In his defense, Cheon Sejoo had never seen a boy with such a pretty face. Everything about Sejin was delicate and refined, with no trace of masculine features, so it was natural to assume he was a girl. It turned out he was just a boy who hadn’t fully matured yet.

    “Ha…”

    Was it because Kwon Sejin was a boy that he looked cute even when he acted rudely?

    Was it my instinctive intuition as a gay man?

    No, that can’t be it. I can’t be that obsessed with appearances…

    While Cheon Sejoo was feeling ashamed for not realizing sooner, he suddenly heard the bathroom door opening which make him quickly turned his head.

    Kwon Sejin was peeking out through the slightly open door. When their eyes met, he bit his lips and stepped outside.

    Now that he was discovered, he seemed to have no intention of hiding it anymore. Sejin was wearing his school pants and an unbuttoned school shirt. It was the first time Cheon Sejoo had seen him without a hoodie. Now, he looked unmistakably like a boy.

    Despite being slim, Sejin’s shoulders were broad, and he wasn’t as small as Cheon Sejoo had assumed. Once his gender was known, the hair that had fooled Cheon Sejoo into thinking he was a girl was just a typical messy hairstyle common among boys. Although his face was still quite pretty, knowing Sejin was a boy explained the occasionally androgynous atmosphere he had, including his voice.

    “Ha.”

    Cheon Sejoo stared at Kwon Sejin for a moment, then sighed in disbelief. The deep sigh made Sejin flinched, staring down at his feet. He then cautiously glanced up at Sejoo, however, his appearance was much like a puppy wary of its owner’s expression in case he got reprimanded.

    “Do you think I’m going to hit you? Why are you so nervous?”

    Unable to bear it any longer, Cheon Sejoo spoke first. At his calm voice, Kwon Sejin lowered his head deeply and approached him. Looking grim as if he was prepared to really be hit, Cheon Sejoo was at a loss of words and just stared down at him.

    His black hair was a mess, not having been properly dried, and his exposed shirt and neck were partially wet. His ears and cheeks were flushed pink like peaches, perhaps from washing with hot water, looking as if they would drip juice if touched. Seeing Sejin’s collarbone through the gap of his worn shirt, Sejoo cursed inwardly and turned away.

    “Dry your hair and come out.”

    Without even hearing a response, Cheon Sejoo left Sejin’s room. In the kitchen, he downed two bottles of water from the fridge, crushed the empty bottles, and then went to the sofa to wait. Sejin came out after a few minutes. Fortunately, his ebony hair had already dried.

    Sejoo handed him a bottle of water and picked up a cigarette from the living room table. He had shown Sejin all sorts of consideration, thinking he was a girl, but now there was no need for that.

    With a click, the lighter opened and closed, and the end of the cigarette glowed crimson. Cheon Sejoo took a deep breath, rubbing his forehead with his fingertips as his head started to throb. Exhaling a sigh of smoke, he finally spoke.

    “Why did you deceive me?”

    Though he asked, he didn’t expect a proper answer from the ill-tempered kid. And his prediction was right.

    “…I never said I was a girl with my own mouth. You just assumed that”

    Sejin replied, still speaking informally amidst the situation. Sejoo chuckled incredulously. He had noticed before that this kid was a little, no, the kid was unusually brazen and rude. If he were in such a situation, he would be grateful and tolerate anyone who fed, housed and promised to help him see his mother. However, Sejin acted as if patience wasn’t even an option.

    Yet, it wasn’t bothersome, it was oddly endearing. People have core principles, beliefs, or values they refuse to bend, and for Sejin, that seemed to be his pride. Sejoo nodded, partially acknowledging Sejin’s point.

    “Fine, you never said you were a girl. But you kept quiet, knowing I thought you were. Why did you do that?”

    “……”

    Faced with the specific question, Sejin remained silent for a long while, and Sejoo waited patiently. Finally, Sejin confessed his reason.

    “I thought… you’d throw me out if you knew I wasn’t a girl.”

    Sejin replied in a husky voice as if his voice had totally changed.

    So? Cheon Sejoo didn’t say anything but stubbed out his cigarette in the ashtray and propped his chin on his palm. Then, as he stared intently, Sejin added an additional explanation.

    “I thought you were a pervert who only liked young girls… I figured you’d help me meet my mom if you kept thinking I was a girl, so I didn’t say anything on purpose…”

    He did it on purpose. Cheon Sejoo rubbed his cheek with his fingertips, rolling his tongue inside his mouth. However, despite being deceived, he didn’t feel angry. He was just dumbfounded.

    In fact, if he had known from the start that Kwon Sejin was a boy, he wouldn’t have brought him home. From what he knew, Han Jonghyun was a hardcore heterosexual who wouldn’t touch a boy no matter how pretty they are.

    If that had been the case, would Sejin still be in that place?

    …Judging by his shameless and stubborn personality that kept mentioning the word pervert even though he was right in front of him, he probably would have been. And if he had stayed there, the outcome would have been obvious. Kwon Sejin would have collapsed from hunger and been taken to the hospital. After that, he would have been handed over to the police, and Sejin would have mentioned Shinsa Capital, which would have made things complicated.

    So, regardless of the process, following Sejoo had been a wise choice. Kwon Sejin had made the best decision in the worst situation.

    “Now that you know, are you going to throw me out…?”

    Sejin asked in a nervous voice, breaking through Sejoo’s thoughts.

    It was a valid question. If he had known Sejin was a boy, he wouldn’t have taken him in.

    So, should he throw him out now?

    Cheon Seju thought about it carefully and came to a conclusion.

    He had no intention of kicking Kwon Sejin out right away. What was done is done. He had already brought him in. Moreover, after asking Chae Beomjun for a favor, it wouldn’t make sense to now tell Sejin to leave just because he was a boy. However, Sejoo changed his plan. Instead of sending Sejin off to an orphanage after meeting his mother, he decided to just kicked him out of the house.

    He was harsher on men than on women. Unlike girls who couldn’t protect themselves if something bad happened, boys were different. Even if it seemed like gender discrimination, Sejoo couldn’t help it.

    At the age of eighteen, a boy was practically a man, fully capable of fending for himself without anyone’s help. Cheon Sejoo had set life plans for himself at that age, although things had gone awry, he had been able to take responsibility for himself. So, he couldn’t help but hold Sejin, another eighteen-year-old boy, to the same standard.

    However, before Sejoo could say anything, Sejin began to plead.

    “I’m sorry… If you want to hit me, I’ll take it. I know you’re angry, so you can kick me out… Just let me meet my mom once. If you do that…I’ll wait in front of the house until tomorrow…”

    The voice that always carried dissatisfaction softened surprisingly when he mentioned his mother. It meant Kwon Sejin was that desperate. But what caught Cheon Sejoo’s attention was something else. He looked at Sejin with a cold, sullen gaze.

    “You’ll take a beating?”

    It was hard to believe that was something an eighteen-year-old would say. Yet, faced with the seemingly cold question, Kwon Sejin reacted even more absurdly.

    Sejin moved closer to Sejoo and knelt, clasping his hands together and lowering his head. In that posture, with his eyes downcast and his mouth shut, Cheon Sejoo felt not just incredulous, but it also made him angry.

    “……”

    It was already infuriating enough that Kwon Sejin had deceived him shamelessly but seeing him act like this left Sejoo speechless. Feeling his insides filled with words he couldn’t bring himself to say, Cheon Sejoo got up from his seat to relieve his frustration. Sejin’s gaze followed him as he left the living room and headed to the kitchen.

    Kwon Sejin looked at Cheon Sejoo with a perplexed expression. It was a look that clearly meant that he couldn’t understand Chun Sejoo, who didn’t even get angry, let alone hit or curse him, despite the fact that he had been caught deceiving him.

    Cheon Sejoo returned from the kitchen with a can of beer. He opened the 500ml can and drained half of it in one go before sitting back down on the sofa, cross-legged, with his chin propped on his hand. His large palm pressing against his cheek caused his eye to squint. He continued to stare at Sejin like that, prompting Sejin to finally speak first.

    “Aren’t you angry?”

    “……”

    Cheon Sejoo didn’t answer. However, he remained still with an expression that seemed to indicate that he had no idea what to do with Sejin.

    “…Aren’t you going to curse at me?”

    “……”

    Sejoo had already cursed enough in his mind. Saying it out loud felt unnecessary.

    “You’re really not going to hit me? I deceived you. If you’re going to hit me, just do it already…”

    Hearing those words was truly ridiculous. If he was that worried about being hit after being caught deceiving him, shouldn’t he first change his tone?

    “You need to fix that way of talking to people who are helping you out.”

    “……”

    Sejin frowned at that. Though he quickly relaxed his expression, it was clear enough time to read his thoughts that he was thinking, “Why does he have to say that?”

    Cheon Sejoo clicked his tongue, realizing once again just how shameless Kwon Sejin was. Then he asked.

    “Did you grow up getting hit?”

    “What….”

    Sejin averted his eyes and nodded. He didn’t seem to want to continue the conversation, so Cheon Sejoo reluctantly let it go. Seeing Sejin still silently asking ‘Why aren’t you angry?’ with his expression, Sejoo said.

    “Don’t show off that you’ve been beaten. Nothing makes a person look more pitiful than that.”

    “……”

    Sejin frowned again and remained silent for a moment. Then he responded, clearly upset to be hearing this from Cheon Sejoo of all people.

    “I only planned to take the beating because you said you’d help me let me meet my mom. I wouldn’t act this way with anyone else.”

    “Great. That’s really something to be proud of.”

    “……”

    Sejin’s pretty face scrunched up again.

    He looked at Cheon Sejoo with a pouty expression, clearly filled with discontent. He seemed like he wanted to say something but couldn’t bring himself to do it. After fidgeting for a while, Sejin let out a small sigh and asked one last question.

    “You’re really not going to kick me out?”

    “Do you keep asking because you want to be kicked out?”

    “No!”

    “Then shut up. I’m thinking about it.”

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