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    Loves Error

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    The nickname ‘Killer Whale’ made sense to Sijin at once. Ham Geonwu lying on the bench resembled a killer whale resting atop the ocean surface. His closed eyes, framed by thick eyebrows and sharp facial features, gave him a rugged appearance. He wore black T-shirt that showed off his well-defined muscles along with tactical pants. Despite being sound asleep, he still emanated toughness due to his physique and demeanor.

    Yet there was still some lingering innocence from when he had been a high school student. 

    Sijin took a deep breath as he gazed upon his savior. Thanks to Geonwu, he’d survived the accident ten years ago, but he hadn’t expected having to detain him for an examination before even introducing himself properly.

    ‘I need to focus solely on the assessment. Just the assessment.’

    Ham Geonwu was an A-rank Esper on the cusp of advancing to S rank and a ticking time bomb that could explode at any moment if his examination wasn’t conducted promptly. It needed to happen immediately.

    With determination etched on his face, Sijin approached Ham Geonwu, feeling slightly conflicted about having to apprehend him. It felt surreal, like meeting one’s favorite celebrity only for reality to hit hard. In hindsight, he wished they had met as a fan and star instead.

    “Ham Geonwu-ssi?”

    “…Hmm?” Ham Geonwu’s sleepy eyes opened briefly, revealing black irises under thick eyebrows before closing again, unable to fight off the sleepiness.

    As expected, waking him wouldn’t be easy. Sijin let out a small sigh.

    This time, Ham Geonwu fully opened his eyes and raised his head slightly to gaze up at Sijin curiously. Despite being prepared, seeing him again rendered Sijin speechless.

    In the ten years since they last met, Ham Geonwu had grown quite handsome. Even if he hadn’t saved Sijin’s life, Sijin would have still found him attractive. He took a deep breath to steady himself.

    “Oh…” Meanwhile, Ham Geonwu smiled with interest. Without finding any ID card around Sijin’s neck, he looked genuinely intrigued, as if discovering something fascinating.

    “How did you get here?” Talking to him, Ham Geonwu sat upright on the bench, his voice low but commanding.

    Sijin froze as Ham Geonwu casually asked him, “Why do you look so scared? Are you lost?”

    “I…” Sijin couldn’t answer his barrage of questions. Despite having given numerous presentations to large audiences, he found himself tongue-tied in front of Ham Geonwu. To make matters worse, Geonwu thought he was frightened… Sijin felt like a fan trembling before their favorite celebrity idol.

    Meanwhile, Ham Geonwu teased, “Are you really lost? Or should I take you somewhere else?”

    Cough, I’m not lost.” Sijin managed to clear his throat and respond. 

    It struck him as amusing that Ham Geonwu’s first assumption upon seeing a stranger at the Center would be that they were merely lost.

    “Please sit down. Why did you call out to me?”

    As his appearance suggested, Ham Geonwu was straightforward and easygoing. Sijin hesitantly took a seat next to him on the bench. Sitting this close to someone he’d just met made his heart flutter uncontrollably.

    At that moment, Sijin recalled the person who had personally escorted him to the Center.

    ‘Cut it off. What do you think?’

    Jeong Taeyul’s chilling voice echoed in his ears, sending shivers down his spine. Ham Geonwu had a terrifying Guide of his own. Consequently, Sijin had resolved last night to focus solely on work—nothing more, nothing less.

    With determination, he spoke earnestly, “Um, Esper Ham Geonwu, do you have a minute?”

    “Yes, sure. I’m sleepy, but go ahead.”

    Ham Geonwu responded casually, his eyes filled with curiosity as if observing Sijin like he would any ordinary civilian.

    Um…” Sijin paused and tilted his head quizzically. “Are you restraining me right now?”

    “What? Oh, it’s just standard procedure at the Center. Nothing to worry about.”

    Upon hearing this, Sijin sadly glanced down at his wrists.

    “As long as you stay still, I won’t kill you.” Ham Geonwu calmly added while binding Sijin’s hands. 

    The material used for the restraints turned out to be the lanyard from an Esper’s ID card. Ironically, on their first encounter, Sijin found himself wearing Ham Geonwu’s name tag around his wrist.

    “All right, let’s hear what you have to say.”

    “……”

    Ham Geonwu leaned back nonchalantly, placing his hand on the chair’s backrest beside Sijin.

    Rather than appearing friendly, this stance seemed ready to restrain Sijin if he made any suspicious movements. Despite Ham Geonwu’s relaxed demeanor, Sijin realized that the hunter was fully prepared for anything.

    Eyy~ Don’t be scared.”

    “I’m not… scared.” Sijin’s voice trembled slightly.

    For some reason, Ham Geonwu burst out laughing. Now, Sijin couldn’t help but feel anxious for a different reason. Hadn’t the A-rank Esper just said he wouldn’t kill him? But Sijin found himself instinctively hunching his shoulders.

    He felt like a common criminal caught by Ham Geonwu, as evidenced by the reactions of passing security guards. They eyed Sijin suspiciously due to his casual attire but softened their gazes once they spotted Ham Geonwu next to him, almost pityingly.

    It was clear they looked down on Sijin, whether out of pity or not.

    He quietly took a deep breath. This situation had taken a strange turn, and he needed to handle it somehow. He calmly asked:

    “May I ask what kind of person you think I am?”

    Without hesitation, Ham Geonwu replied honestly:

    “Well, maybe a nursing teacher who desperately needs help after getting lost at this Ability Center?”

    “…What gave you that impression?”

    It wasn’t like Sijin intentionally disguised himself as such… In fact, his aim had been to appear strong even while lying down, just like Ham Geonwu, but now he realized how miserably he failed.

    “You have a pale face, your voice trembles, and you keep looking around like a lost puppy.”

    “……”

    He must have been trembling quite visibly. Sijin realized for certain that espionage wasn’t his forte. However, he did discern Ham Geonwu’s honesty. It seemed best to be straightforward with this type of person rather than beat around the bush. Sijin calmly spoke up:

    “You’re not afraid despite being alone with a stranger.”

    “There’s nothing scary about you.”

    “Then why do you avoid getting evaluated?”

    “……”

    “I’m here to evaluate you personally.”

    Ham Geonwu’s expression hardened significantly at those words. Observing this reaction, Sijin understood that even someone who appeared fearless could become rattled by just hearing the word examination. Clearly, it was more than mere avoidance; Ham Geonwu had some kind of trauma associated with examinations.

    Feeling apologetic for his earlier deception, Sijin introduced himself honestly this time. “I’m Baek Sijin, newly appointed as a diagnostic evaluator.”

    “…And you’re a doctor, right?”

    “Yes.”

    Ham Geonwu removed his hand from behind his head and awkwardly rubbed the back of his neck, likely remembering how he had repeatedly ignored the calls earlier. His quiet mutterings betrayed a hint of disappointment.

    “Oh… You don’t really look like a doctor.”

    Despite exchanging only a few words with Ham Geonwu, Sijin quickly realized what an open and honest person he was.

    Ha.” Soon after, Ham Geonwu let out a heavy sigh and leaned back against the chair, causing the atmosphere to suddenly become tense.

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