Asleep Are the Dogs: Chapter 11

July 2, 2013 in Asleep Are the Dogs, moonrise31 by moonrise31

A young dog doesn’t need to learn new tricks.

Chapter 11: Of Sundae Wars and Playing Some Catch-Up

“When I said, ‘let’s take a break’, I didn’t mean all at the same place.” Jessica turned to stare at the three who had followed her into the Icee Queen.

“What?” Sooyoung glanced meaningfully at Yoona. “I just wanted an ice cream, and the kid over here said that this was the place to get it.” The younger girl gave Jessica a winning smile and a thumbs-up.

“You won’t throw customers out, right?” Hyoyeon piped up from behind them.

Jessica sighed. “You speak as if you’re actually going to pay for what you eat.” She tossed the keys over her shoulder. “Make it yourself. I’m gonna clean a table or something.” She disappeared into the backroom.

“I got it!” Yoona snatched the keys from midair and hopped over the counter. “Three sundaes coming up!”

“Give me the biggest one,” Sooyoung called after her before slumping into a booth with a loud exhale. “I gotta say, it sucks to not be doing anything right now, but at the same time I don’t know what to do.”

Hyoyeon slid onto the bench across from her. “An hour to clear your head won’t hurt. Just relax. Let’s talk about something other than Ahn and kidnapping and this crazy ‘game’ we’ve got ourselves into.”

Sooyoung let out another breath. “Seriously. I can’t believe that Taeyeon went to look for Yuri just this morning. Was that really only like, five hours ago?”

“Maybe six,” Hyoyeon offered as she glanced out the window at the dimming sky. “But I guess if you think about it, just last week I didn’t know any of you except for Sica and Yoong, and I guess I’d seen Seohyun at the Assembly a few times before. Time travels fast, huh?”

“I’m faster,” Yoona interrupted, placing three glasses on the table. “I put an extra cherry on yours, Sooyoung-unnie.”

“Awesome.” Sooyoung’s face lit up as she grabbed a spoon. Yoona nudged the other girl and told her to scoot over.

Hyoyeon swallowed a mouthful of ice cream, speaking around her spoon as she watched the two playfully ram shoulders together. “Yoong, you know that Sooyoung was born in your year, right?”

Yoona made a face. “I just assumed she was older, and she never corrected me. So by the time I realized, it was too late. The damage has been done.” After her dramatic assertion, she reached over and snagged a spoonful of Sooyoung’s sundae.

“Whatever.” Sooyoung poked Yoona in the forehead before turning to the woman across from them. “Anyway, as I was saying before I was rudely interrupted,” she paused and made sure to glare to her right. Yoona threw her head back and didn’t even try to muffle her laughter. “I’ve got a question for you, Hyo. Tour guide first, or part of Jessica’s brigade?”

Hyoyeon placed a hand over her chest. “Just a simple guide at heart, bringing you the best the Assembly is willing to offer for public viewing,” she answered airily. Then she chuckled when Yoona kicked her under the table. “But really, I’m nothing special; normal girl, normal interests, normal job until Sica got off her lazy butt long enough to take a tour led by yours truly.”

“No one’s normal,” Sooyoung replied as she munched on a cherry. “People like me would be out of work if that were the case. So tell me something interesting. One thing.”

“My life is boring,” Hyoyeon deadpanned. “Well, it was. I guess if anything, I was pretty good at gymnastics.”

Amazing is more like it,” Yoona butted in. “You know she almost made it onto the Olympic team as a high-schooler?”

Hyoyeon pointed her spoon accusingly at the younger girl. “Who’s Hyoyeon? Is your name Hyoyeon? Quiet, you, and let me talk.”

“But then she broke her ankle during practice and everything was sad,” Yoona disclosed in one breath, squeaking when Hyoyeon kicked her in the shins. “Unnie,” she whined.

The blonde ignored her. “Anyway, fast forward to last year. My tour had just ended and I was goofing off with some of the kids. One boy’s hat blew away into a tree, so I went up and got it back.”

Yoona drew her legs in as much as possible before speaking up. “And by that she means that she climbed up and crawled out onto the branch, grabbed the hat. But then the branch broke and she did a cool flip-ninja-roll thing to land safely on the ground.” She retreated closer to Sooyoung and managed to avoid Hyoyeon’s second attack. “Sica-unnie says that the kids thought she was the coolest thing after Superman and fire trucks,” Yoona finished before sticking her tongue out and returning to her ice cream.

Hyoyeon sighed before continuing with a casual shrug. “Jessica was watching the entire time. Afterwards she came up and asked me if I wanted a part-time job. So here we are.”

“And how does working with Jessica actually…you know, work?” Sooyoung pressed as she mixed the fudge on top with the rest of her sundae.

“Sica-unnie does good things for a price,” Yoona explained, looking up from her now half-empty glass. “People come to her with problems they want fixed and more than enough funds, so as long as it’s not something like stealing or taking someone out, she’ll make it happen, no matter the method. Which means Hyoyeon-unnie and I do most of the actual work.”

Sooyoung took a break from eating—Hyoyeon realized with a start that the former was suddenly already scraping the bottom of her cup—to turn and look at Yoona. “Come to think of it, how did you get all mixed up in this, then?”

“Yuri-unnie and I go a long way back,” Yoona answered as she inched her sundae away from Sooyoung’s predatory gaze. “I needed a job, so she set me up with Taeyeon-unnie. I started getting places when people began to pick up my scripts, and I guess Yuri-unnie somehow mentioned it to Sica-unnie. Connections are important for her.”

“Not to mention that this kid’s skills are really something,” Hyoyeon smirked. “She can pick any lock and snoop circles around whatever super spy you can throw at her. Hypothetically, of course.” Sooyoung wondered exactly what Hyoyeon and Yoona had run into during the course of their employment.

Yoona covered her mouth with one hand in a vain attempt to contain her snickers. “You wouldn’t believe the trouble Yuri-unnie and I would get into when we were little. Ask Seohyun,” she added smugly. “She always objected the most, but she tagged along every single time.”

“You and Hyo are really something, huh,” Sooyoung commented as she reached across and scooped some of Hyoyeon’s mostly untouched sundae. “Plus personally knowing the bodyguard of the president—just how far does Jessica’s net go? I’m surprised we don’t have Ahn cornered already.”

“The connections aren’t for calling in favors,” Yoona clarified. “Or rather, not the kind you’re thinking of. Sica-unnie is definitely not poor, but she’s still only one person with only so many resources. There’re lots of rich guys in the movie industry, for example, so if she can get them to also support some sort of charity or relief group, her impact has just become that much bigger.” Yoona grinned. “Sica-unnie really wants to make the world a better place.”

“And we will do whatever it takes to make that happen,” Hyoyeon chimed in before snatching the spoon out of Sooyoung’s grasp to prevent further ice cream escapades.

Sooyoung laughed as she turned to wrestle Yoona for the younger girl’s utensil. “Now that? That was interesting.”

Sunny walked into TIARA ELECTRONICS, the bell above the front door chiming throughout the small store as she entered.

“I’m sorry, we’re closing,” a voice called from the back.

“Oh, my apologies,” Sunny replied, hiding a smile. “I’ll come back tomorrow, then.”

She heard the small crash of a box abruptly dropping to the floor. “Lee Soonkyu, it’s about time.” A woman emerged from the shelves, grinning as she approached Sunny with open arms. “Where’ve you been?”

“I should’ve visited sooner,” Sunny apologized as she pulled the other in for a hug. “But you never replied to my texts, Hyomin-ah.”

“That’s because this piece of junk is beyond repair.” Hyomin pulled out a cellphone from her back pocket and tossed it carelessly onto the checkout counter, next to a small radio that was currently broadcasting the weather forecast. “I’ve wasted the last couple of days on it, too.”

“Don’t tell that to your customers,” Sunny teased. “Although I guess if the great Park Sunyoung can’t figure it out, it really is a lost cause.”

Hyomin punched her softly in the shoulder. “Okay, okay, let’s agree to not call each other by our boring real names, alright? You should know better, Lieutenant Lee.”

“You’re lucky I tolerated such preposterous notions.” Sunny winked. “How’re the rest of G7, by the way? It’s been so long.”

“Yeah, you’ve been MIA for awhile, huh?” Hyomin began counting off each girl on her fingers. “Well, Sunhwa’s got work at a publishing company, I think. White Paper, or something? Hyojin-unnie’s opened up a restaurant: Narsha’s Noodles, so let’s go together sometime. Hara’s got work as a barista, but she’s thinking of going back to school. And Hyuna’s looking at a candy store—that girl and her sweet tooth.”

“ ‘Bubble gum’ this, ‘soda pop’ that, ‘why isn’t there any ice cream’,” Sunny imitated with a grin.

Hyomin laughed before continuing. “To be honest, I haven’t been in touch with Yuri lately, but I’m sure you’ve seen a bit more of her, yeah?” She added cautiously.

“Hey, stop looking at me as if I’m going to break,” Sunny complained as she reached out and pulled at Hyomin’s cheeks. “Yuri’s been busy, but she still had time to send me to a therapist who says that I really don’t have PTSD at all, so shows you how much that kid knows.”

“That’s good.” Hyomin pulled Sunny’s hands off her face and threw an arm around the latter’s shoulders. “So what’s the real diagnosis, then?”

“Hm.” Sunny hummed thoughtfully as Hyomin pulled her into an aimless wander around the store. “She—my therapist, I mean—she said that I was just lonely.”

“Really?” Hyomin scoffed. “Come on. You can’t be alone when you have me.”

“Okay, maybe it wasn’t quite that simple,” Sunny corrected with a chuckle. “But I’ve been thinking, and I’ve decided that she probably has a point.”

“Pray tell, oh wise one.” Hyomin gestured grandly with her free arm.

Sunny’s expression became contemplative. “Well, G7 is disbanded now, right? I mean, sure, we’re all still around Seoul and we’ve still got each other’s backs, but it’s just not the same, you know? It’s like…now I’ve lost what I fought so hard to protect.”

She paused, and Hyomin kept quiet, waiting patiently as they weaved in and out of the aisles. Sunny was remembering the day that had ended with her in the hospital, Hyomin and Sunhwa miraculously still alive. Of course, she was pulled off-duty while the rest of the girls forged ahead. But within weeks, the sudden influx of bombs that had prompted the formation of G7 suddenly disappeared. They were subsequently discharged—honorably, of course—and each member ended up drifting off to different corners of Seoul.

So where does that leave me? Sunny opened her mouth again. “I guess…after G7, I didn’t know what else to do with myself. Everything that I had learned to live with suddenly became unnecessary, but it was too late to turn back. This is who I am.”

“And that’s just perfect, if you ask me,” Hyomin said firmly as they turned a corner and headed back towards the front of the store. “But I think drinking yourself silly and picking fights isn’t the way to go about being you, if you catch my drift.”

“Touché.” One corner of Sunny’s lips quirked upward in a rueful smile. “I can’t say that I’ve been using my better judgment as much as I’d like. But I think my therapist really helped me realize the problem, at the very least.” Thank goodness Yuri knew Taeyeon. Thank goodness Jessica somehow heard about me—did Yuri tell her? Taeyeon? Yoona? Maybe Tiffany somehow found out. I guess it doesn’t matter, really. Sunny’s expression smoothed into a wide grin. “No worries, Hyomin-ah, ‘cause I think things are looking up again.”

Before, it seemed like her entire being had been shattered from that unfortunate explosion, and she was left forever scrounging around for the pieces, only to drop them as she flinched at any echo of that day gone wrong. But now she had eight other pairs of hands to help pick herself up again.

They’re not G7, but I think they’ll do.

Hyomin mirrored her cheerful expression. “That’s all I need to know, my dear Sunny.” They had returned to the counter with the familiar hum of the radio, but Hyomin frowned a little as the newscaster began introducing a story on the emergency evacuation at Jongno earlier that day. “Wait, did I hear Yuri’s name?”

“…the doctor who demanded that the evacuation occur. She maintains that she was given irrefutable evidence of the threat, but would not give her source or the identities of the other women directing the scene. Her explanation…”

Sunny directed her attention back to Hyomin’s question. “I guess Yuri’s been really busy lately.” Although that isn’t even the half of it. She pulled out her phone and checked the group chat the nine of them had, noting that Yuri was back at her office fielding the never-ending calls from reporters, using Sooyoung’s advice for dodging and otherwise artfully avoiding questions that hit too close to home. Jessica had gone to check on her ice cream parlor, and it seemed like she had some tag-alongs. Taeyeon, Tiffany, and Seohyun were the only ones remaining at the therapist’s office.

[Tiffany] 7:43 PM: Looks like Taetiseo are the only ones working, eh? 😛

This was followed by a flood of both protests and affirmations to her statement. Sunny hid a smile and typed her own reply before looking up at Hyomin. “I’m sure she’ll figure it out.”

The worry remained in the other woman’s expression. “Maybe we should go visit her and see if we can help. Or even round up the rest and go—it’s about time for a reunion, anyway.”

Sunny felt something dormant flare up in her gut, six faces that held a special place in her heart flashing briefly before her eyes. Danger. Keep them away. “No, it’s nothing to worry about,” she objected calmly. “Yuri’s got it under control, and I’m going to drop by her office tomorrow anyway. I’ll keep you posted if you want; no need to trouble everyone.”

Hyomin opened her mouth to respond, but the words died in her throat as suddenly as the quiet background murmur of the radio. Both women whipped around to look at the now silenced device. Moments later, the lights shut off, although there was just enough illumination from the outside for Sunny to barely make out Hyomin’s confused stare.

Sunny followed the other woman’s gaze, turning to look out the storefront window. An enormous sense of dread clawed its way up her stomach as she watched the entire city plunge into darkness.