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    Not only Go Woo-jin but also Nam Hae-sol looked at Seon Jae-chan in confusion.

    In fact, if the matching rate between the Esper and the Guide was good, they would often proceed with guiding on the same day. However, Nam Hae-sol was feeling a mixture of embarrassment and awkwardness, and Go Woo-jin couldn’t quite fathom why she was reacting this way.

    He just felt the urge to snatch Seon Jae-chan’s hand right now. He wanted to get guided by him immediately. He was curious about what was going on in Jae-chan’s mind when he made such a proposal.

    Did he really make that suggestion for their sake? 

    Would knowing his true intentions ease this awkward feeling?

    “We’re ready.”

    At that moment, the researcher approached them, and the three people who were deep in their own thoughts were forced to stop thinking.

    The researcher had been waiting for the conversation between the three to end quickly. He nervously checked the time, as it was now past 3 o’clock before speaking.

    “When I looked at the expected matching rate of Esper Go Woo-jin and Guide apprentices Nam Hae-sol, they seem quite promising. Both of you can comfortably proceed to the measurement room.”

    “I… go first?”

    Nam Hae-sol asked in confusion.

    Go Woo-jin also looked at the researcher with slightly furrowed eyes. They obviously came to check the matching rate between Seon Jae-chan and him, but he feels tricked.

    The researcher who received attention passed a glance to Seon Jae-chan. The only mistake the researcher made was complying with the suggestions of Seon Jae-chan, who had arrived early.

    Seon Jae-chan, who was receiving attention from three people, widened his eyes slightly as if wondering what was strange.

    “Right. Let Guide Nam go first.”

    “But my pair guide is you.”

    Go Woo-jin said. There was no particular emotion in his voice, but Jae-chan found it unexpected. The fact that Goujin was prioritizing his side over others felt unfamiliar.

    “I was planning to have her go first for the measurement and then send her back.”

    Seon Jae-chan explained.

    “I’ll be getting my matching rate measured too, and it’s a bit much to ask the apprentice who came here because of my request to wait for an hour.”

    The time for matching rate assessment typically took about fifteen minutes on average, but the more energy an Esper had, the longer it would take. Go Woo-jin was an S-class esper, so it took a considerable amount of time.

    “-Ah. Do you need a male guide to guide you anyway?”

    Seon Jae-chan frowned as he noticed the inconsistency in his own words. Nam Hae-sol, who had been watching them, anxiously interjected.

    “Sunbae-nim… I’m still not good at guiding…”

    Seon Jae-chan’s eyes frowned again. It seemed like she was taking away the opportunity to guide an S-class Esper and one who had been her lover in the past at that. Yet, he couldn’t convince her otherwise. Just as he was continuously checking the time and estimating the end of the workday, the researcher swiftly entered.

    “Then, quickly start with apprentice Guide Nam Hae-sol”

    In the end, Go Woo-jin and Nam Hae-sol were the first to measure the matching rate.

    Jae-chan felt a bit disappointed that he couldn’t arrange for their guiding, but he sat in the waiting room with hopeful eyes. He recalled the illegal matching rate assessment results he had crumpled up and stored in a drawer. He hoped to quickly find evidence to break those results.

    *

    One hour later.

    “Guide Seon. Please come this way.”

    After Nam Hae-sol’s assessment was finished, it was Seon Jae-chan’s turn.

    Beside the gesturing researcher, Nam Hae-sol was walking over. She had sleepy, disoriented eyes. Jae-chan glanced at her briefly and asked.

    “Is your assessment finished? Did you get the matching rate?”

    “It will take a few more minutes.”

    The researcher replied while adjusting his earpiece. Unfortunately, the results didn’t come immediately. After measuring the wavelengths, they had to wait a bit longer for the program to calculate the precise matching rate.

    “Now it’s your turn.”

    The researcher urged.

    “Can I see the results first before going in?”

    The researcher paused at Seon Jae-chan’s words.

    He glanced strangely at the young guide. Jae-chan had gained some notoriety in the Wavelength Research Institute. This was due to his obsession with Esper Go Woo-jin and their matching rates.

    Like a mockery of the Golden Spoon Guide, the matching rate kept getting lower and lower every year. He often questioned whether the test results were manipulated and demanded retests, much to the annoyance of the researchers.

    It was quite surprising that he had suddenly decided to bring in a different Guide. 

    Furthermore, he delayed his own matching rate test and seemed more concerned about the new Guide’s matching rate.

    ‘Is this a new way of obsession?’

    Despite his confusion, the researcher firmly refused. 

    “We need to leave on time. Please cooperate.”

    Seon Jae-chan had no choice but to let go of his attachment because he had to respect the work time.

    He said farewell to Nam Hae-sol, who was still half-asleep, and followed the researcher.

    As there were multiple assessment rooms, Jae-chan was led to a different one from where Nam Hae-sol had been. He lay down on the cold and crisp examination bed. The staff attached a pad with gel to his body and dimmed the lights in the room. Soon, the gentle music that induced sleep began to seep into his ears.

    “Your assessment completed. Please wake up.”

    When Jae-chan awoke, an hour had already passed.

    ‘… Matching rate. Guide Nam Hae-sol Matching Rate.’

    As if on cue, Seon Jae-chan quickly remembered his purpose.

    He quickly left the measurement room without even combing his hair. He was guided to an empty waiting room. Go Woo-jin hadn’t woken up yet, so he was the only one in the waiting room.

    “What was the matching rate between Guide Nam Hae-sol and Esper Go Woo-jin?”

    In response to Jae-chan’s unusually polite inquiry, the researcher reluctantly handed over a printout. It contained the matching rate between Guide Nam Hae-sol and Esper Go Woo-jin.

    Meanwhile, Go Woo-jin also entered the waiting room with the door half open.

    He had just woken up from a two-hour sleep and was looking at a piece of paper with his head stretched out. There was no way that the results of his and Jae-chan’s matching test had already come out, so it was obvious what it would be.

    Go Woo-jin was more concerned about Jae-chan’s sudden interest in Nam Hae-sol.

    However, since Seon Jae-chan didn’t have eyes in the back of his head, he didn’t notice. All his attention was focused solely on the end of the paper, the numbers the size of his fingernails.

    ‘… What is this?’

    Seon Jae-chan’s lips slightly parted in surprise.

    Go Woo-jin approached Jae-chan, curious about what could have caught his attention to this extent, and peeked over his shoulder.

    “Uh, you are awake?”

    Only then did Seon Jae-chan noticed Woo-jin’s presence. He was momentarily taken aback before putting on a smile that seemed genuine.

    “Look at this. I told you the matching rate would be high.”

    Seon Jae-chan handed over the paper he was holding.

    “Isn’t it amazing? It’s 81.”

    – 81%.

    Surprisingly, the results were the same as the matching rate found through the illegal testing center this time.

    Somehow, the matching rate was 11% lower than the original 92% matching rate between Nam Hae-sol and Go Woo-jin… Nevertheless, 81% was also a great matching rate. This was even more impressive when considering that only about half of A-class or higher Espers found a Guide with a matching rate of over 80%. In fact, the current highest recorded matching rate was 88%, recorded by S-class Guide Han Tae-hoon and A-class Esper Chae Seong-hwan.

    “You mentioned a matching rate of 92% before.”

    Go Woo-jin asked in a straightforward tone.

    ‘She’s a really good guide. I guess your matching rate is about… 92%?’

    He remembered perfectly what Seon Jae-chan said on Mentosa Island.

    Woo-jin’s gaze under his lowered eyelashes was intense. Jae-chan couldn’t easily meet his eyes and instead looked away. He tried to brush it off, but it didn’t seem easy. He was also wondering why the matching rate between Nam Hae-sol and Go Woo-jin had dropped so drastically compared to the past.

    “ Esper Go Woo-jin, Guide Seon Jae-chan. The matching rate test results have come out.”

    At that moment, the researcher intervened with a voice tinged with irritation. Seon Jae-chan and Go Woo-jin have been measuring matching rates for over 5 years, so their database was well-established and the results came out earlier than Nam Hae-sol.

    It was fortunate timing for Seon Jae-chan. He pretended to be highly interested in the freshly printed paper and quickly accepted the test results with a composed expression. The researcher’s voice accompanied the handover.

    “The matching rate has increased significantly.”

    Jae-chan was once again taken aback by the number that was only a fingernail’s width away from the recorded value.

    [76%]

    …What the hell.

    ‘Why did my matching rate increase?’

    It was probably 68 just before the regression, and probably in the low 70 around this time. The number of 76 was similar to the matching rate when their pair was first formed.

    Why had his gone up? 

    Why had Nam Hae-sol’s gone down?

    His face involuntarily stiffened. His irritation deepened.

    “81, 76, just a 5% difference.”

    Go Woo-jin’s murmured voice reached his ears. It was a dry tone as if 81 and 76 made no difference at all.

    Seon Jae-chan’s throat felt heavy. He blinked slightly and then turned around with a leisurely smile.

    “It’s only 5% difference. It’s still 81. It is very rare to find a guide with a matching rate of over 80.”

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