My neck was being constricted by a violent grip.
Street lamps illuminating the alleyway burst one after another, and the light flickered noisily. Kwon Jae-jin was shoved into the dimly-lit alley while still choked. It was a dead end.
My spine slammed fiercely against the brick wall. As I struggled to endure the pain, the man who had overpowered me placed his hand on my chest. He spread his fingertips and pressed down on my heart a couple of times as if to check something. Firmly, deliberately.
Despite the simplicity of the action, Jae-jin felt threatened as if crushed by the paw of a beast. It felt like my ribs would shatter.
“It’s you, isn’t it?”
“Ugh, kuh… What’s….”
Kwon Jae-jin groaned and gazed at the dark shadow. The dim light of a flickering street lamp illuminated the stranger’s silhouette.
He was dressed in a black combat uniform that was out of place in such a clichéd alley—festooned with grenades and ammunition across a leather harness, holsters with guns tucked securely at his thick waist and thighs.
No ordinary person.
‘Why is an Awakened in the sixth residential district?’
The man had called Kwon Jae-jin his guide, but realistically, there was no way that could be true. Jae-jin was just an ordinary person living in the residential districts, far from the affluent first district, as a worker resident of the sixth district.
And, naturally, only those who had not Awakened as Espers or guides could live in the ordinary residential areas—people who would never encounter an Awakened in their lifetime, much less converse with one.
“Mr. Esper… You seem to be, mistaken. Please, let me go.”
Jae-jin said, struggling to bear the pain, his throat feeling like it was about to be crushed. It was difficult to breathe, much less speak after getting off work late at night. What a disaster this commute had turned into.
“You’re wrong. No mistake.”
A chilling voice sank into my ears.
At the same time, eyes glowing with heat drew closer. As the man approached, his face became visible.
At a cursory glance, he seemed younger than Jae-jin. His slightly curly hair looked soft, and his thick eyebrows, along with his long, downward-slanting eyes, vaguely resembled those of a dog.
What, a retriever… a large breed?
Whatever the case, his appearance didn’t match his actions, as he was holding me by the throat with one hand.
And Jae-jin knew exactly who this young-faced man was.
“Shall we check now whether you truly match as my guide or not?”
The first S-rank Esper. 20 years old. Seo Ui-woo.
“Open your mouth.”
Following these curt words, the man closed the distance between us, and our lips were pressed together.
Seo Ui-woo forced his tongue as if prying his way through, but Kwon Jae-jin clenched his teeth tightly to block him.
Jae-jin knew that Awakened beings performed guidance through physical contact and that their sexual norms were entirely different from those of ordinary people.
However, knowledge did not equate to acceptance.
Jae-jin was a heterosexual male, and being forcibly kissed by another man was not something pleasurable. Resistance was the only natural response, especially when cornered against a wall, choked.
“…Just a little, will you?”
Seo Ui-woo, who had failed to make contact, asked impatiently, his brow creasing in annoyance. Suddenly, the air around him turned ominous. The S-rank Esper could unconsciously exert pressure on his surroundings; the reason why the street lamps had shattered was likely due to this.
The air felt like needles pricking my entire body. Jae-jin bit down even harder.
Seo Ui-woo rolled his clear grey eyes upward. After momentarily gazing at the sky, he abruptly dropped his gaze.
It seemed he found conversation pointless.
In an instant, Jae-jin’s jaw was wrenched to the side. It happened so quickly that I had no time to understand what was being done to him. Seo Ui-woo seemed to press my jaw and forced my mouth open.
Seo Ui-woo then pushed his thick gloved finger deep into Jae-jin’s throat.
Jae-jin gagged, and Seo Ui-woo kissed him again.
This time their tongues clashed unmistakably. Jae-jin thrashed about, trying desperately to kick Seo Ui-woo away, but the latter didn’t budge an inch, solid as a rock.
Seo Ui-woo seemed to chide Jae-jin, taking his time to lavish on the soft tongue, savoring and drawing out the saliva, not caring as saliva dripped down Jae-jin’s chin. He sucked on the lips, then used his tongue to provoke more saliva, and slurped it up again.
‘This guy is crazy.’
He should have realized it the moment this person spouted nonsense about guides and such to an ordinary person.
Was this the same S-rank Esper that the media praised so fervently? A savior of humanity without precedent, the Prince of Sunlight carved from light – all such ridiculous nicknames. Fame, as expected, is not to be trusted.
“Eck, get off… Hah… Ha!”
I trembled as my breath started to weaken, my kicks becoming sluggish.
In truth, Jae-jin was someone who ran every morning without fail and climbed rocks during weekends for leisure.
Thanks to that, he had a robust physique compared to others, broad shoulders, and a muscular frame. Bluntly put, he was never left feeling inferior anywhere.
Yet, faced with Seo Ui-woo, whose livelihood was battle, he was nothing more than a powerless ordinary person.
Slowly, an eerie fear set in. It was a more terrifying experience than anticipated to have one’s ordinary world invaded, to meet someone whose sense of reality doesn’t align with one’s own.
After spending considerable time manipulating Jae-jin’s tongue, Seo Ui-woo slowly pulled away. A viscous thread extended between their tongues, snapping into oblivion. Seo Ui-woo, as if loath to waste it, slurped it into his mouth.
“See, it worked. The guiding…”
Seo Ui-woo mumbled with slightly upturned eyes.
His mood seemed better than before, even perhaps a bit excited. His non-doubled eyelids gave his eyes a softer curve, making him look younger. But to Kwon Jae-jin, all of it was irrelevant.
The back of my neck grew cold. Nausea rose up, and I felt queasy inside.
It was like being trapped in a tightly sealed box, being rolled this way and that. A disgusting line of sweat trickled down my back.
“You’re the guide meant for me. To think you were hidden away in this corner all this time, no wonder I couldn’t find you.”
Of course, Kwon Jae-jin was not a guide.
He didn’t receive an Awakened evaluation from the mandatory Awakening test administered at birth. Nevertheless, Seo Ui-woo was adamant that Jae-jin was his matching guide.
My insides… grew increasingly clamorous.
I felt dizzy, and now it was as though the inner and outer layers of my skin were inverting.
Jae-jin slowly shook his head.
It wasn’t Seo Ui-woo causing this.
Something really was wrong inside me.
The nerves extending from the heart to the rest of the body felt electrified. The world spun anti-clockwise, and soon the vision darkened, leaving me blind.
My brain was ringing as if a massive gong were striking inside, with a high-pitched tinnitus ringing in my ears.
“What’s wrong… Why are you like this? Are you hurt? Something broken?”
His condition was not good.
It felt as if a vast, mysterious, intangible force was convulsing inside Kwon Jae-jin.
Breathing grew more laborious and eventually ceased altogether.
For a moment, my heart seemed to have stopped.
Or more aptly, had I died and been resurrected?
Simultaneously, one notion filled my mind. Memories started flooding back.
It was like a pre-death life review playing backward.
Life review is supposed to be seen at the point of death, but this felt like witnessing the flashback precisely because I had defied death.
Which means, in other words…
Kwon Jae-jin had already died once, and now here, he had been revived.
This was Kwon Jae-jin’s second life.
Meeting Seo Ui-woo was the second time, and being his guide too was the second time.
The forced guiding by Seo Ui-woo moments ago served as a catalyst invigorating past life memories—the previous life where Kwon Jae-jin remembered how he had lived and how he had died.
Kwon Jae-jin’s eyes widened in disbelief, and he looked up sluggishly at Seo Ui-woo.
“Were you this young…?”
My vision grew faint. Soon my stability wavered, and I collapsed. Seo Ui-woo effortlessly caught the unconscious Jae-jin.
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