17. Can we not, in reality, overturn Damocles and his sword, if we so wish?
“Hey.” Hyoyeon sat down by Taeyeon on the courthouse steps. “How’re you feeling?”
Taeyeon scratched at the wrapping around her leg, watching the other occupants of the now empty courtroom file down to the street below. If she squinted, she could see Director Nae being escorted to a police car. “It’s finally done, I guess. Seems sort of surreal.”
“It did get kind of weird at the end,” Hyoyeon agreed. “Remind me to never get on Tiffany’s bad side, by the way. Or maknae’s for that matter — if she can figure out that director’s motives after being abducted and only sitting with him for five minutes, I bet she can confirm to my mother that it was in fact me, and not my imaginary friend Fiona, who stole the cookies out of the pantry when I was six years old.” She paused. “You better not tell.”
“Your secret’s safe with me,” Taeyeon assured her. “But we’re pretty lucky, aren’t we?”
“Did someone say luck?” Sooyoung settled on Taeyeon’s other side. “Because I will one-hundred-percent agree that yeah, we had a whole jury full of it.”
“Same here,” Yoona spoke up as she sat down behind Taeyeon, ignoring the other’s protests as she rested her elbows on the older woman’s shoulders. “Imagine if Fany-unnie hadn’t figured out his hypochondriac tendencies.”
“We probably still could have talked him down,” Seohyun commented as she sat down in front of Hyoyeon. “You unnies don’t know how impressive of a display you made when you burst into his office like that.”
“You already had him sweating,” Yuri pointed out, plopping down next to Seohyun. “But we could’ve messed up anywhere before that. What if we’d decided to quit in the beginning? Or not meet at Sunny’s mansion? What if our disguises when we went to Woolen that first time hadn’t worked?”
“As if they would ever not work,” Jessica retorted. “I designed them.” She glanced at her phone. “Sorry guys, but I’m pretty behind because of this whole fiasco. Text me if you want to get a drink sometime.”
“How about you text us, and we’ll clear our comparatively nonexistent schedules,” Sunny commented wryly as she sat down beside Yoona. Jessica gave her an exaggerated princess wave before making her way down the steps.
“I feel kind of bad, though,” Seohyun said. “Was it right to use his health issues against him like that?”
“You mean non-existent health issues,” Tiffany corrected, patting Seohyun’s head as she made her way to the empty spot on the youngest’s other side. “That’s what the nurses at the hospital told me. They only went along because Woolen happens to make a bunch of important medical equipment. But the drugs they give him are just a bunch of placebos.”
“How’s that for a plot twist,” Hyoyeon snickered.
“We all have our flaws,” Sooyoung sighed. “Mine is being absolutely flawless, of course.”
“I guess he seemed sort of high-strung,” Seohyun mused. “He was still careful with his words, but his reactions were so obvious that even I could read them.”
“It’s to be expected,” Sunny said. “Sica and I looked at Woolen’s funds again over the weekend. They were in no position to continue business; I think he was using the very last of their assets to try and keep us quiet. Sica even had some of her…specialized connections — because apparently maknae isn’t the only one with hacker friends — look into the path of the money that ended up in Jisoo’s bank account. It started across the border.”
Yuri whistled. “South Korean technology ends up in North Korean hands? That would’ve made quite the explosive headline.”
“One more bomb pun,” Sunny warned, “and I’ll set Tiffany on you.”
Tiffany threw up her hands. “Oh come on; am I the scary one now?”
“You always were the scary one,” Taeyeon piped up. “Why do you think I only drew Sooyoung’s demon form?” She squeaked when Sooyoung wrapped an arm tightly around her shoulders. “Have mercy! I’m injured!”
“No, keep going,” Hyoyeon said. “This is the most exercise she’s gotten in the last forty-eight hours.”
Sunny sat back, watching as some of the others began to take sides: Seohyun tried to save Taeyeon’s crutches, but ended up in a tug-of-war over them against Yuri. Tiffany had taken out a Sharpie and was currently threatening to scribble shockingly pink graffiti all over Taeyeon’s bandages. Yoona was being extremely helpful by jerking Taeyeon’s shoulders from side to side, although Sunny expected the latter only gained more whiplash from the efforts.
The CEO sighed, leaning back even further to rest her elbows on the step above where she sat. The nine of us, somehow on jury duty together? Now we’re talking about luck.
Maybe this week hadn’t been so bad after all.
“Hello.” Seohyun stepped inside the room. She noted the receptionist desk and walked up. “I have an appointment at nine-thirty?”
“Ah, Seo Juhyun.” The receptionist nodded, clicking her computer mouse a few times. Then she held out a clipboard, smiling. “Just fill out that form, and when the doctor is ready, she’ll call for you.”
Minutes later, Seohyun was seated on the couch of the therapist’s office.
“Hello, Juhyun-sshi. I’m Doctor Solar,” the therapist said brightly as she stood up and walked out from behind her desk, extending her hand.
Seohyun accepted the handshake, tilting her head. “Um, pardon me for asking, but is ‘Solar’ your real name?”
“No,” Solar giggled, making sure the top of her desk was clear before she sat on it. “My receptionist — you met her, right? Byuli — came up with this entire business theme. I mean, ‘Brighten your day with Sunshine Therapy’? What kind of slogan is that? And what she named my practice…” She shivered. “But tell you what — we’re the same age, so you can call me whatever you’d like.”
“‘Doctor’ is okay for now,” Seohyun decided.
Seohyun smiled a little. “To be honest, I’m not sure I need to be here. I’m perfectly fine.”
Solar glanced at the open file she was partially sitting on. “Says here that you went through a traumatic experience a week or so ago? Care to tell me about it?”
“I guess that’s why I’m here.” Seohyun shrugged. “I just got kidnapped, is all. But very briefly.”
“Ah.” Solar nodded. “You’re pretty tough, if kidnapping can be just swept under the rug like that. As brief as it was.”
“It was scary,” Seohyun admitted. “Not being able to do anything while Yuri-unnie fought them off, and then suddenly people were grabbing me and dragging me away.”
“Yuri-unnie sounds very brave,” Solar said gently.
“She is,” Seohyun agreed. “So the least I could do was not be intimidated by these giant men with guns, sitting in the car that drove me to wherever they wanted it to.”
Solar nodded. “That’s also very brave.”
Seohyun shrugged again. “I’m not sure it’s brave if I was scared.”
Solar hummed, tapping her desk. “Well, if you ask me, you can be brave and still be scared.” She grinned. “Don’t tell me your Yuri-unnie is a solid brick with no emotions whatsoever.”
“I guess not.” Seohyun frowned. “It’s just…I met all of these unnies during jury duty. And people will look at us and think that there are some who are better than others — that I’m somehow better than any of them. But that’s not true at all. They’re all so different, and so smart, and I really couldn’t have made it here without any of them.”
Solar tilted her head. “Someone said that? That you’re better than your unnies?”
Seohyun huffed slightly. “It was a very typical crime-drama-villain speech. But I fell for it a little anyway.”
“We all have our weaknesses,” Solar said, chuckling. “But as much as you hate taking credit when you don’t think you’ve earned it, don’t be shy to take the credit you deserve, either.”
Seohyun blinked. “Doctor?”
“My dear Patient,” Solar teased. “Tiffany-unnie told you to come and see me, right?”
Seohyun nodded. “Yeah. She said you were friends with the other Juhyun, so she knew that you had a practice, and would be able to make sure that I’m really okay.”
“Which you are,” Solar confirmed, making a big show of checking off some imaginary box on the imaginary clipboard she was holding. “But my point is, if all of these amazing unnies are taking such good care of you, then that means you should be worth something, right?”
Seohyun sat very still for several moments. “I suppose you’re right.”
“I suppose so too.” A sudden bass drop from the other side of the wall rattled the bookshelf behind Solar. She rolled her eyes. “Sorry. The dance studio next door gets a little too excited sometimes. I swear, if Wheein and Hyejin weren’t friends with Byuli too…”
Seohyun smiled. “It’s nice to have people you can count on, isn’t it…um…”
“Call me Yongsun,” Solar said, sliding off the desk and giving Seohyun an extravagant bow. “And yes. It really is.”
“I can’t believe this,” Taeyeon grumbled. “I haven’t been off crutches for twenty-four hours and you’ve already dragged me up here.”
“Sooyoung said you were alright days ago,” Hyoyeon said, buckling the ski a little tighter around Taeyeon’s boot. “We just humored you for a little longer because you had to finish that mopey piece about the colors of despair.”
“It’s supposed to be ‘Shades of Victory’.” Taeyeon attempted to cross her arms, but her coat was too bulky. She settled for putting her hands on her hips instead.
“I never knew victory to be so black and blue,” Sunny commented as she shuffled her way past them and further into the snow.
“Bruises!” Taeyeon called after her. She turned back to Hyoyeon. “It’s bruises,” she said. “Winning comes at a price, you know.”
“Mmhm, heard ya,” Hyoyeon assured her, straightening once more. “There. How’s that?”
Taeyeon lifted one leg, wobbling precariously as she tried to stop her ski from bumping into her stable knee. She ended up tipping over, but Hyoyeon was there to catch her. “That was amazing. Unbelievable. Can we go now?”
“Not just yet,” Hyoyeon said, grinning as she pulled down Taeyeon’s goggles, settling them safely on the other’s nose. Then she adjusted her own. “Because today, the color of victory is white.”
“Or actually,” Yuri said as she slid past, “all the colors you see when you go back inside after staring at the sun reflected off the snow for a much too long period of time — that’s a pillar.” She barely changed course in time, scattering a small crowd of bundled-up schoolchildren in the process.
“No one told you to take your goggles off, unnie,” Seohyun pointed out. She turned to Hyoyeon. “Unnie, I just did the course with the black diamond by it. What’s the next one?”
Hyoyeon blinked. “That was literally the hardest course here.”
“Oh.” Seohyun thought for a little bit. “I’ll try it again.”
Taeyeon and Hyoyeon made their way to the gentlest slope. Taeyeon peered down at the bottom. “Huh. Jessica’s actually pretty good.”
Hyoyeon followed her gaze. “She’s just standing there.”
“Let me remind you that I am leaning both on my two stick things as well as very heavily on your shoulder.”
“Touché.” Hyoyeon whistled. “Wow, Tiffany’s not bad.”
Taeyeon watched as a blur of pink sped down the hill next to hers. “I’m pretty sure she just smiled the slopes into submission.” She craned her neck as far as her scarf would allow. “Where’re Sooyoung and Yoona — actually, never mind. I can guess.”
“I really shouldn’t have gotten you guys all-day passes.” Hyoyeon sighed. “It comes with an all-access pass to the café.”
“I could go for some hot chocolate,” Taeyeon said hopefully.
“Once you go down,” Hyoyeon promised. “Come on. Just one time, okay? And if you absolutely hate it, I won’t make you go again.”
“Okay. Prepare for the absoluteness of my hate.” Taeyeon shifted, yelping when her skis started slipping forward.
“Woah, not so fast there.” Hyoyeon gripped her arms from behind. “Okay, all you have to remember is ‘pizza’ and ‘chopsticks’. ‘Pizza’ for stopping, and ‘chopsticks’ otherwise. Alright? I’ll be at the bottom waiting for you.”
“What, right now? I don’t even get a few seconds to–” Taeyeon watched Hyoyeon zoom down the slope, curving smoothly to meet with Jessica and Tiffany, who were already at the bottom. Then she heard someone yell from somewhere next to her; she turned just in time to watch Yuri and Yoona race down the hill and join the others at the foot of the slope. Sunny and Seohyun were there now, too, and she saw Sooyoung steadily cross-country-skiing her way to the others, with something that looked suspiciously like a hot dog in one mittened hand.
Taeyeon took a deep breath. “Pizza,” she said to herself. “And…well, whatever. Just stopping is good enough.” And with that, she tipped forward.
Yoona squinted against the sunlight. “Is Taeyeon-unnie just doing ‘pizza’ all the way down?”
“I’m surprised she’s still upright,” Sooyoung said.
“Yeah.” Hyoyeon nodded. “Maybe she’s an unnatural natural.”
“She’s going pretty fast, isn’t she?” Sunny observed.
“Yeah,” Hyoyeon said again. Then her eyes widened. “Guys! Get out of the way! Get out of the–!”
“Sorry,” Taeyeon grunted one collision later, buried beneath a pile of skis and poles and snow. “I didn’t mean to stop on top of you.”
“It’s okay,” Hyoyeon said, voice strained. “I accept your original color scheme for victory now, because it will be all over my face.” She sat up as Taeyeon slid off of her. “But how was it?”
Taeyeon grinned, looking up as seven other smiling faces started to gather around them. “Let’s go again.”
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