Asleep Are the Dogs: Chapter 8

June 13, 2013 in Asleep Are the Dogs, moonrise31 by moonrise31

Fact 1: For a traditional traffic light, red means “stop” and green means “go”.
Fact 2: Dogs do not see a world of black and white, but one in which red and green are the same.

Chapter 8: Of Secret Freezers and Beating the Boss

 

Yuri slammed the door open, causing seven heads to whip around and stare at her. “Sica, he has Taeng.”

Jessica clenched her jaw, muttering a few choice English words before switching back to Korean. “What the hell is she thinking?”

“I don’t know,” Yuri replied immediately, distress straining her voice as she continued to babble. “She’s stupid. Crazy. Idiot. But then she mentioned you and us in university and told me that I could have her ice cream.”

Jessica’s eyebrows rose, her frown vanishing. “Oh.” She stood up and disappeared into Taeyeon’s inner office without another sound.

“Wait.” Tiffany frowned. “How could that possibly have told her anything?”

“Taeng and Sica were roommates in school,” Yuri explained, now considerably calmer. “Taeyeon and I were both in medicine, so that’s how we met, and then I got to know Jessica through her.”

“Thank goodness I know Yuri-unnie,” Yoona piped up. “Otherwise I wouldn’t have either of my jobs.”

Yuri ruffled the younger woman’s hair just as Jessica returned, a sheaf of papers in her hand.

“What’s that?” Sunny asked.

“Taeyeon’s ice cream,” Jessica replied simply. A few seconds of silence passed before she realized that she was receiving blank stares. “Back in university, Taeng built a mini freezer into the bottom drawer of her desk so she wouldn’t have to go all the way to the kitchen to get ice cream,” Jessica elaborated. “So that’s where I found these. She doesn’t have a freezer anymore, though,” she added after a moment’s thought.

“Okay, what’re you waiting for, Sica?” Hyoyeon prodded impatiently. “Tell us what it is.”

Jessica opened her mouth once more, but she blinked when she suddenly noticed Tiffany in front of her. The latter plucked the stack out of her hands and shuffled through them. “Oh. Now I get why Taeyeon wanted me to forward all the Ahn records to her.”

Tiffany yelped when a lanky arm reached from behind and snatched the papers. “Are we gonna have to play hot potato to get answers here or what?” Sooyoung asked as she withdrew from Tiffany’s personal space and turned to face the rest of the girls, clearing her throat and reading out loud. “Ahn Eunyoung. Age 20, Date of conscription—this is boring.” She stopped and skimmed further down the page. “Oh, what’s this?”

“Taeyeon’s notes,” Tiffany answered, squinting as she tried to read over Sooyoung’s shoulder. “ ‘Only fault is lack of basic motor skills. Clear mind. 5% chance of being Ahn’.”

Yoona perked up. “That’s one of the guys Sunny and I checked out this morning.” Then she frowned. “Wait, Seohyun, you were saying that—”

“See her notes for Ahn Tisong,” the youngest woman interrupted, tone apprehensive, expression tense.

Sooyoung pulled out a second sheet. “ ‘Bored with life. Likes games’.” She looked up. “ ‘85% chance of being Ahn’.”

“Only 85?” Hyoyeon snorted. “The guy planted a bomb in Park Jeongsu’s office.”

“That’s according to Park Jeongsu,” Sunny pointed out. “But I mean, if Taeyeon can figure out your biggest problems after shaking your hand and talking about your day, I think being 85% sure from a skim of his military discharge records is pretty darn certain coming from her.”

“I believe Jeongsu-ssi,” Seohyun spoke up. “Everyone has faults, and politicians are even more susceptible, but I won’t accept that he’d willingly get involved in the drug business or leave explosives in his own office.”

“So what’s all this done for us, exactly?” Tiffany demanded suddenly. “All we’ve really accomplished is confirm that yes, Taeyeon is in a load of trouble—mortal danger, even. But we’re just standing around discussing the morals of some fallen Assembly member? No offense, Seohyun,” she amended.

“It’s okay, Fany-unnie,” Yoona assured her. “You can rely on us, yeah?” She switched her gaze to Jessica. “Sica-unnie? Ideas?”

Jessica crossed her arms. “Well, first thing’s first. We either do this the proper way, or our own way. Compromise is too much work, so let’s figure this out together, if we could.”

Yuri turned to Seohyun. “To be honest, I’m surprised maknae hasn’t rushed off to the authorities yet. That should’ve happened…a week ago?”

Seohyun huffed at the other’s playful grin, unwilling to admit that Yuri was completely right. A week ago, she had been looking at the world as if it was black and white. A person was good or a person was bad, and their actions were reflected as such. A week ago, she’d thought that a truly good person wouldn’t do bad things. But now she wasn’t so sure, because a week ago, she’d stepped into this…what exactly was this?

She’d grown up with Yuri and Yoona, whom she wholeheartedly saw as “good” people. But Yoona worked for Jessica, who was remarkably straightforward about her occupation being anything but virtuous. And still, Seohyun found it hard to see Jessica as a “bad” person, even if her methods were a bit underhanded. Yuri had no problems with it either, and Taeyeon, while not nearly as familiar, was a figure Seohyun respected and admired—someone who cared for people and also cheerfully involved herself with dangerous affairs in a heartbeat. Then there was Hyoyeon, the tour guide whose smile could only be described as sincere even as she broke into Assembly member offices, and Sunny, the stolid soldier with an honor code that apparently allowed for transgressions in situations such as these. Tiffany was a hacker, for heaven’s sake—who in the world would do something illegal for a living?but was also the cyber Robin Hood of Seoul, and Sooyoung probably had the biggest heart of any of them and not a second thought about throwing herself into this entire mess.

No, the world wasn’t black and white at all. It was every shade of every color, the hues blending together into a kaleidoscope that left Seohyun’s head spinning. What exactly was “good” and what exactly was “bad”? In the end, she’d decided that if there wasn’t any strict universal code, she would just have to choose one herself, mixing and matching like a child with a paint palette, and believe it with everything she had.

“You unnies taught me that I can’t be naïve anymore,” she said. “I trust you.”

Hyoyeon leaned back in her seat and laughed. “Well that’s settled, then. Let’s do this our way, Sica. Being proper is no fun.” There was a murmur of agreement from the rest of the room.

Jessica nodded once. “Alright, then let’s get started. Next thing: this Ahn Tisong likes games, right?” She immediately pulled out her phone. “Tiff, I might need you to run a couple of things.”

Tiffany couldn’t keep the worry from her voice. “Jessi…you aren’t going to go along with him or anything like that, are you?”

“Fight fire with fire,” Jessica cited the English expression matter-of-factly as she brought the phone to her ear. “He wants to play?” Her gaze hardened. “We’ll play.”

Ahn sighed. “I have to say, Doctor Kim, that you aren’t keeping your end of the deal very well.”

“Is that so?” Taeyeon tilted her head. “And how does that make you feel?”

Her lighthearted tone didn’t make the question any less caustic, and Ahn’s eye twitched. “I’d hate to remind you that I very much have the upper hand in this situation, Doctor Kim. Snide remarks are not appreciated.” He reached for the remote.

“Oh, stop with the empty threats, Tisong-ssi,” Taeyeon scoffed, making his hand pause in midair. “Just learn to take a loss, and we’ll go from there.”

“A loss?” He repeated.

“Perhaps your memory isn’t as good as mine,” Taeyeon commented with a wink, “but if I recall correctly, I only asked if you’d like to know about Sunny-ssi or Tiffany-ssi. I never said I’d actually tell you about them.” She tapped her temple knowingly. “You realize it as well as I do, Tisong-ssi, so just be a man and admit it.”

He held her gaze for a moment before grinning and refolding his arms. “You know, Doctor Kim, your colleague might like to talk to herself and pretend that no one else is there, but I get the feeling that you talk to yourself all the time and would like nothing more than for someone besides you to listen.”

“Don’t be silly.” Taeyeon waved a hand. “My puppy listens to me all the time when I’m at home, and there’s a picture of him in my office to talk to when I’m not. If all else fails, Yoona’s always a good third choice.”

Ahn chuckled. “Very well. In either case, it seems like we’ve reached a stalemate, Doctor Kim. What’s your move?”

“Hm.” Taeyeon tapped her chin, pretending to be in deep thought. “You’re keen to talk circles around me, I imagine. So if I give you a question, will you answer?”

“If I don’t, I’ll let you walk out of here with the Jongno patients right now,” Ahn promised, holding up the remote.

“Alright then.” Taeyeon nodded. “We’ll start simple: one word.” She slipped her hands into the pockets of her lab coat, meeting his eyes intently. “Why?”

“Why?” He repeated, smile growing wider. “Because I got bored one day, Doctor Kim. Life is just one big game, you know, and you’ll lose no matter what in the end. So to make anything worthwhile, I’ve got to get the highest score possible. Beat out all the other players, you know? And what better way to start than with a bang, if you catch my meaning.”

“Loud and clear,” Taeyeon replied smoothly even as her mind raced.

“My turn,” Ahn hummed, interrupting her thoughts. “It’s only fair if you answer a question of mine now, right?”

“Fair enough,” Taeyeon conceded.

“Let’s see.” Now Ahn tapped his chin, mimicking her earlier actions. Then his eyes took on a mischievous gleam. “How’s Sooyoung-ssi doing these days?”

Taeyeon returned his gaze coolly. “Quite well, I should think. She even got herself a new phone the other day — I hear it’s even waterproof. Not that I saw her old one, but the latest model should always be an improvement, if you ask me.”

“I suppose I did ask you,” Ahn agreed with a smirk. His gaze fell to her pockets. “And now I’ll have to ask you to put your hands where I can see them, if you could.”

“Sure,” Taeyeon replied easily, lifting her arms to wiggle her fingers at him. “A little paranoid, are we? The closest I’ve been to a battlefield is struggling to get out of my bed every morning, so I hardly consider myself a viable threat. If you were really concerned,” she continued, “you should’ve thought of something less high-tech to bring than that little remote of yours. Even a rope would do.” She held out her wrists in front of her and raised her eyebrows at him.

He waved a dismissive hand. “Physical restraints are barbaric though, don’t you think, Doctor Kim?” His grin turned almost feral. “Besides, it’s only when you have complete unrestricted freedom that the burden of imprisonment really begins to weigh down, don’t you think?”

“I would hardly call being locked up in a room with you anything close to ‘unrestricted freedom’,” Taeyeon retorted easily.

“Hello?”

There was a knock at the door of the examination room for the second time that day, and they both turned their heads and stared, not seeing the chart of the human body Yuri had pinned onto the door for casual reference, but through it to the woman standing on the other side.

“Ahn Tisong,” Yoona said firmly, voice only slightly muffled by the wood. “It’s time to level up.”