Damocles Overthrown: Chapter 12

September 6, 2015 in Damocles Overthrown, moonrise31 by moonrise31

12. Damocles, in those oft-told stories, could have been wrong.

The parking lot of the correctional facility (Tiffany had always found it amusing that English had such mild-sounding euphemisms for the most terrible things, but she had been even more impressed when she’d moved to Korea) was surprisingly full for a Saturday morning — but maybe it made sense for visitors to have more time on their days off. Either way, she was thankful for the cover the extra attendance would provide.

Not that they’d actually entered the lot and parked there. Instead, Tiffany had driven past it for a few kilometers or so, until she’d arrived at the parking lot of the high school Seohyun worked at instead.

“They’re going to be tailing you regardless of where we come out of now,” Sunny had pointed out the night before. “We can’t leave here undetected.”

The room had fallen silent, then, until Tiffany exhaled and raised a hand. “Seohyun, your high school…it’s on the way to Red Velvet’s dorm.”

It had made sense, at the time. And it still did — if they had really decided on the verdict to be declared Monday morning, and having already practically announced it to whoever was threatening them, it didn’t make sense for all of them to continue to stay at Sunny’s place. So following Tiffany and Seohyun’s departure, the others would also be returning to their respective homes throughout the day.

“What if they still try to attack us?” Sooyoung had pointed out. “We don’t know for sure that they’ll stop even though we said we’d rule in their favor.”

Yuri had then shrugged. “I guess when there aren’t any planes with zero risk, we go with the plan that has the least amount.”

The least amount of risk relatively, sure, but that didn’t mean that the absolute amount wasn’t still abnormally high. Tiffany had already resigned to the fact that their attackers already knew what location Red Velvet had been moved to after that first threat, although she still decided to park a couple blocks away and walk over — just to keep up pretenses. Which was also why she was now dropping Seohyun off at the high school first, which was surprisingly busy for a Saturday morning; the counselor had said something about extra cram sessions for upcoming exams.

Now, Tiffany reached out and caught Seohyun’s wrist as the younger extended a hand towards the door handle. “Are you sure this is going to work?”

Seohyun turned back to smile at her. “Only one way to find out, right, unnie?”

Tiffany frowned. “That’s not exactly filling me with confidence.”

“It was more for me than anyone else,” Seohyun murmured. “Well, unnie, Seo Jisoo does indeed have a sister.” She paused, muttering, “At least, one we hope hasn’t visited so far.”

“I heard that.” Tiffany squeezed her eyes shut and resisted the urge to rub her temples — she’d been doing it a lot lately.

Seohyun settled back in her seat, patting the hand still wrapped around her wrist (So thin, Tiffany couldn’t help thinking. So easy to break). “Even if she has come around before, I doubt the staff would recognize her.”

Tiffany glanced down at Seohyun’s bag, which held, among other things, another set of clothes, complete with a pair of fake glasses, a black skull snapback, and a wig. “Maybe you should’ve picked a less conspicuous disguise.”

“Maybe.” Seohyun turned to glance at the backseat. She reached out and hooked the brim of a solid black snapback — Seulgi’s, Tiffany remembered, because that girl was always leaving her hats around. “Can I borrow this, unnie?”

“If you just trade it, I doubt Seulgi would even notice,” Tiffany admitted. She took a deep breath. “Okay. Just…be careful? Alright?”

Seohyun wrapped an arm around her shoulders. “Always, unnie.”

Tiffany allowed herself to sit in the high school parking lot for another minute after she’d already watched Seohyun enter the building. With the constant stream of students coming in and out, along with her disguise, Seohyun would be able to blend in perfectly (Tiffany had always been under the impression that Korean students wore uniforms, but maybe they were wearing casual clothes because it was the weekend, or maybe Seohyun’s school was just breaking the norm; to be honest, she wished this was the extent of her worries, but it wasn’t, so she let it slip from her mind).

Any minute now, Seohyun would be walking out again, ready to catch a city bus back towards where the prison was. And Tiffany had promised Red Velvet that she’d come by before their “Inkigayo” performance that day, so she eventually forced herself to start up the engine and drive away.

The prison was a lot nicer than Seohyun had been expecting — not that she’d had much to go from besides a few of the darker dramas she’d watched (and she was one-hundred-percent sure that those were one-hundred-percent inaccurate). But instead of the dark dreary cement walls with bars over every window, the inside of the building actually reminded her more of a school (which she wasn’t sure was the comparison she wanted to make) with bars over every window (she decided then that she would stop comparing this building to any other she’d ever been in).

Before approaching the visitor check-in, she pushed her glasses further up the bridge of her nose and adjusted the snapback so the brim pulled down a little more over her eyes. Luckily, the officer on duty was bored enough to not even bother looking up as Seohyun penned “Seo Jihyun” in the name box and hovered momentarily before making up a signature on the spot. Perhaps writing with her left hand would have been a better disguise (during one of their duller moments hiding in Sunny’s mansion chasing dead ends, Hyoyeon had taught her to use chopsticks left-handed, and really, if she’d mastered that coordination on a passable level, there was no reason she couldn’t write left-handed as well), but it was too late to go back now.

Seohyun and the rest of the visitors shuffled into a room full of round tables. Once they’d been seated, The door opened to let the inmates enter and head towards their respective tables. Seohyun drummed her fingers on the tabletop — she hadn’t anticipated this part. Since Seo Jisoo hadn’t actually met her before, much less seen her in this disguise, and she was sure she actually didn’t look like Seo Jihyun one bit…

“…Unnie…” Seo Jisoo said slowly, sliding into the seat across from her. Seohyun looked up. Jisoo had been the last one to enter, apparently, which must have made finding the one empty seat easy.

“Hi.” Seohyun reminded herself that she was the older one here, which was an abrupt change after spending the past several days calling people “unnie” instead of vice versa. She gave Jisoo a small smile. “Long time no see.”

“I thought you weren’t going to visit,” Jisoo said quietly, shoulders slumping a little, under more than just the weight of her uniform. Seohyun felt something curl uncomfortably at the bottom of her stomach, because she suddenly had the feeling that the real Seo Jihyun might not come at all, even if they did manage to prove Jisoo innocent.

“Well, I have a letter from Mom.” Seohyun pulled out a piece of paper from her bag and slid it across the table. “We heard that the verdict is going to be announced on Monday.”

“Yes…” Jisoo scanned the page.

Seo Jisoo-sshi,

There isn’t a lot of time to explain, but I will try. My real name is Seo Juhyun, and I’m one of the jury members for your case. Suffice to say, we know that you heard something on that night you supposedly embezzled funds from Woolen, from Director Nae’s phone call after hours. We don’t know exactly how you’ve been threatened, but we have a good idea, because they’ve been after us too.

We refuse to put an innocent person in jail. But the odds are against us. If you have anything — anything at all — that might be useful for us to turn the tables before Monday, that would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you.

Jisoo nodded slowly. “Thank you, unnie.” She paused. “Can I borrow a pen? I’d like to write a message back.”

“Sure.” Seohyun pulled out a ballpoint from her bag and passed it over.

Jisoo began writing. “So, unnie. How have you been?”

Seohyun hesitated. She wouldn’t put it past their pursuers to have the entire prison, if not Jisoo herself, bugged somehow. But not having any conversation at all wouldn’t do either. So she cleared her throat. “Oh, you know. Work’s been keeping me busy.”

“Ah, yes.” Jisoo nodded as she scribbled another line. “How’s that desk job treating you? Is accounting getting boring yet?”

Seohyun laughed, thanking the heavens that she’d at least taken some introductory accounting classes in university. Seo Jisoo managed to keep up her end of the charade quite well, feeding Seohyun the tidbits she needed to actually carry out the role of Seo Jihyun. Before Seohyun realized, the hour for visiting had passed, and they were being directed towards the door.

“I’ll see you on Monday,” she told Seo Jisoo as she stood up. She stopped for only a moment before opening her arms.

Jisoo stepped into her hug. “Yeah, unnie. See you then.”

Seohyun gave the other a pat on the back (Jisoo wasn’t the only one who needed reassuring) before exiting. She boarded the bus and returned to the school. It wasn’t until she was sitting in her own office again, disguise carefully folded up and placed into her bag, that she pulled out the “letter” and what Jisoo had written on the back. The letter started out normally enough, with “Dear Mom” at the top. Then Seohyun couldn’t resist a smile as she read what was essentially a transcript of the conversation they had — at least the letter looked long enough now. And in the middle, three lines that had definitely not been part of their conversation stood out.

Seohyun read them a few times, and then gently placed the paper on her desk. She leaned back in her chair and closed her eyes. “Oh no.”

Woolen is a big company. We make all sorts of products, from bathroom cleaners to vehicle parts. So to be honest, I wasn’t that surprised to hear the Director talking to the other end about some kind of arms dealing…he called them the “next weapons of mass destruction”.

“I’m fine, Hyo, seriously.” Taeyeon grunted as she shifted the crutches to get a better grip. “Honestly, I think I have more arm muscles than you do right now.”

“You wish,” Hyoyeon retorted. “Look, just let me carry your bag, okay? Otherwise we won’t get to your apartment until sometime next week.”

Taeyeon rolled her eyes. “I’m pretty sure that you almost getting us into five traffic accidents on the way here shaved off a few months from my lifespan anyway.” She sighed. “My poor baby.”

“Your car is fine.” Hyoyeon waved dismissively before swiping the messenger bag Taeyeon was attempting to carry while also maneuvering the crutches.

“She’s just not any car –”

Hyoyeon held up a hand. “We’ll get into a discussion about your choice of car pronouns later. Is that smoke coming from your building?”

Taeyeon stilled. “You’ve got to be kidding me.”

The two managed to make their way down the rest of the block at a reasonable pace. Hyoyeon immediately grabbed the shoulder of the nearest bystander. “Hey, what happened? How long has that fire been going on?”

He shrugged. “An hour or so, maybe. I heard it was an oil fire from the kitchen of the bar.”

Hyoyeon thanked him and returned to Taeyeon’s side. The two stood facing a raging blaze.

“Well, it’s probably a lot smaller than before,” Hyoyeon commented. “The firefighters are already here and all.”

Taeyeon nodded slightly, dazed.

Hyoyeon bent down to set Taeyeon’s bag on the ground before throwing a comforting arm around the other’s shoulders.

“Well,” Taeyeon finally said. “I guess I’m staying at your place.”