Damocles Overthrown: Chapter 3

July 5, 2015 in Damocles Overthrown, moonrise31 by moonrise31

3. “If only,” Damocles cried, “if only I could be as wondrous as you, your Highness.”

Jury duty, Taeyeon decided, was inexplicably, annoyingly, and utterly boring.

She was surprised she’d made it through the thinning of the herd, so to speak — she and eight others had been called to serve for this particular case that had already risked Hyoyeon’s life and threatened hers. And, being some sort of company embezzlement complaint, it didn’t even seem worth all of their trouble to begin with. Either way, the entertainment company CEO — or even the kid who was somehow old enough to be a high school counselor — was entirely more qualified than an artist who couldn’t even keep track of time and a professional skier whose interest in math extended little beyond beating her best time racing down the icy slopes north of Seoul.

And who else was here, anyway? Some famous fashion designer of a label even Taeyeon had heard of, a manager for an idol group she’d also heard of, a lifeguard for the fitness center she kept telling herself she’d go to, an ER nurse she honestly hoped she wouldn’t ever meet on the job, and a stunt double of many movies she had yet to see.

Man, did this justice system have some sense of humor.

Somehow, neither lawyer had complaints about any of them, and so they were all allowed to stay and wait for the trial to begin. Taeyeon sighed and resigned to her fate for the next few days.

She had never been able to sit very still in school, and she certainly wasn’t doing much better on the jury bench. When she hadn’t been spinning her pen and wincing whenever it clattered to the ground (from the glares she was getting, you’d think she was doing it on purpose), she’d been doodling on the top sheet from the pad of paper in her lap.

And now here she was, sitting in a stuffy room (seriously, was this case so sensitive that they couldn’t even crack a window open? Or actually, the aircon could muffle the sound of their deliberation, so maybe they could use that argument to get it turned on and finally make the room temperature less than thirty degrees), pen moving across paper in what she hoped was a sufficiently busy manner.

“It doesn’t make sense,” Seo Juhyun (no relation to Seo Jisoo, the high school counselor had already affirmed) was saying, knuckles white as she clenched her own pen tightly and tapped it against the table. “She didn’t have any reason to do it.”

Taeyeon’s pen sketched a roundish face, cheekbones just starting to show. She glanced up, taking Juhyun in for as long as she was able to before she might come off as creepy (“it’s a thing, Taeng,” Hyoyeon had insisted. “Not everyone likes to be examined like they’re gonna be the subject of your next art piece. For all they know, you’re gonna offer them candy and then drag them into a windowless van.” Which was silly, because Taeyeon wouldn’t ever consider giving candy to someone else if she could be eating it herself). She added eyes, wide and clear, and the firm line of a mouth refusing to speak anything other than the truth.

“It doesn’t matter if she did or didn’t,” said Hwang Tiffany (when prompted for her Korean name, Tiffany had straightened and offered to walk out of the room right then and there. The lawyer had relented and moved on). “The money is in her bank account, and it was transferred from company funds. How else did it get there?”

Taeyeon moved from Seohyun’s face to Tiffany, pen drifting back and forth as it outlined the waves of hair falling down to Tiffany’s shoulders. Shoulders that stayed stiff, tensed like a lion waiting to pounce.

“There is the matter of ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’,” Lee Sunny pointed out (‘Soonkyu’, she’d grudgingly accepted when introduced to the court, but when they’d entered the room, she’d challenged anyone to actually call her that). “Fany, breathe. We have time.”

Taeyeon’s pen stilled, almost finished sketching Sunny’s outwardly disinterested posture, elbows on the table and chin resting carelessly in the palm of a hand that was currently one finger short. She’d already drawn Sunny’s eyes, glinting with a hard intelligence from beneath sweeping bangs. Besides the fact that she was pretty sure there were more previously established relationships in this room now than in jury history ever, Taeyeon was also starting to get the feeling that she and Hyoyeon hadn’t been the only ones to receive threat letters about this case.

“What do you think, Taeyeon-sshi?”

She jolted up, meeting the cool gaze of Sunny the CEO. “Um.”

“Yeah, what do you think?” Kwon Yuri spoke. She gestured around the room. “Everyone’s said something but you. And you’re the head juror, right?”

Taeyeon shrugged. “I’d say something about ‘what’s in a name’, but I never really got that quote anyway.” She flipped through her notepad. “What’s the vote so far?”

“Three to five,” Juhyun answered, leaning forward. Taeyeon resisted the urge to stop and add sharper lines to doodle-Juhyun’s face — she hadn’t quite captured the intensity before, but staring directly into it now, she could notice little else. “Three saying she’s innocent, five saying she isn’t.”

Taeyeon glanced through her pages, taking in sketch after sketch. So Sunny, Yoona, and Juhyun were currently in the minority. Not that the others looked like they were willingly ruling guilty.

Well. That can be stopped.

She turned back to the first sheet of her notepad and cleared her throat. “Okay, we need two-thirds to make a decision, right? And I’m not the greatest at math, but if I say ‘not guilty’, that means this’ll be pushed to another day.” She set the legal pad down. “And according to my notes, this case might warrant a little…further looking into.”

Yoona leaned over and whistled. “Woah, those are really good drawings.”

Sooyoung raised her eyebrows from across the table. “Those are your notes?”

Taeyeon shrugged, glancing to the side. “I don’t like my handwriting. These tell me all I need to know anyway.”

Juhyun nodded thoughtfully. “Doodling is actually a great way for some people to concentrate.”

“Exactly.” Taeyeon smiled and pointed at the face she’d drawn of the prosecutor, cheeks shaded in an angry flush as he jabbed a finger in Seo Jisoo’s direction. “Woolen Incorporated is convinced that this nobody accountant,” she shifted to point out the defendant’s teary and wide-eyed expression, “somehow managed to get the confidential information needed to transfer one million won to her personal bank account over the past four months. But the only thing actually working in the prosecution’s favor is that the money was, in fact, found where they said it would be.” She tapped the figure of the judge, expression impassive behind the hard glint of a pair of glasses. “Even though no one else would like to believe it.” Taeyeon finally looked up. “Which means that I don’t think any of you actually do, either.”

“So you’re saying that all of you got threatened too?”

Ah. Jung Jessica. With the room’s attention now off of her, Taeyeon quietly switched to her latest page and began drawing the sunglasses perched on top of Jessica’s head.

“I’ve already gotten a dangerously sharp object thrown at me,” Hyoyeon cheerfully confirmed. “It was probably meant for Taeng, though, so I’m not offended.”

Sooyoung shook her head slowly. “I think…well, whoever this is, they know exactly what they’re doing. You don’t just sneak into a hospital with a gun, hide in the exact room I was randomly flagged down to check on, without significant planning beforehand. There are just way too many variables for this to be spontaneous or halfhearted.”

“I’m guessing my set accident wasn’t so much an accident either, then,” Yoona added.

Sunny’s jaw clenched, remembering a smoking car and a dazed victim who later, she’d learned, had been admitted to the hospital for fractured ribs. If she’d been just one spot forward — “These guys are crazy.”

“So.” Tiffany cleared her throat. “What do we do?”

“Sleep on it,” Jessica suggested.

“Unnie, you should stay in the apartment tonight,” Juhyun said. “I don’t think it’s safe otherwise.”

“Hold on.” Sunny held up a hand. “You all still have those letters, right?” After eight nods, she continued. “So all we have to do is turn those over to the police. There’s no sense walking around, scared for ourselves and our loved ones, just to decide on a rule none of us agree on, anyway.”

Taeyeon nodded again, adding another lash to doodle-Jessica’s half-drooping eyelids. She leaned back to examine the entire page, now filled by the faces of her eight fellow jury members, with a satisfied smile.

“Guys.” Yuri wrinkled her nose. “Do you smell that?”

Juhyun sniffed, then frowned and stood up. “It’s a gas leak. We should get out of here. We’re done for the day, anyway.”

Sooyoung was already at the door, rattling the knob a few times with no luck. “It’s locked.” She began rapping against the wood, raising her voice. “Hey! Hey, we need to get out!”

“What the…” Hyoyeon grunted as she attempted to crank open a window. “This is stuck too.”

“The vent, maybe?” Yuri squinted up towards the ceiling. “It’s closed…what’re the chances that we’ll actually be able to get it open if we could reach it somehow?”

“We have to get air soon,” Juhyun reminded them. “Otherwise…well, oxygen deprivation isn’t good for the brain.”

“I wonder how my perception would change as my brain was dying, though?” Taeyeon wondered out loud before she could stop herself. She squinted at her drawings. “Hm. Nothing’s really blurry yet.”

“Are you serious, Taeyeon?” Tiffany gasped.

“Looks like it’s already working,” Sunny commented drily. “Don’t forget your honorifics, Fany.” Taeyeon laughed and waved a careless hand. “And maybe try not to inhale too much of our precious oxygen while you’re at it, so take the melodramatics down a notch or two.”

“Okay, we still need air.” Sooyoung stepped away from the door and glanced around the room, folding her arms and tapping one foot rapidly on the carpeted floor. “So, how?”

“Who’s the tallest here?” Yuri was standing on the table and reaching up, fingers still several centimeters short of the vent above. “Juhyun? Can you…?”

The youngest climbed up as Yuri came down, but even her fingers were unable to brush against the ceiling. “I can’t.”

“We can break a window.” Yoona picked up a chair and offered it to Yuri. “On three?”

Yuri nodded and grabbed onto the backrest, shifting her grip to match Yoona’s on the other side. The two turned and faced the nearest pane of glass. Yoona counted quietly and in quick succession. “One. Two. Three.”

The legs of the chair smashed through the window, Yuri and Yoona whipping back around and ducking in an attempt to protect their faces from the flying shards. The occupants of the room breathed a collective sigh of relief as the odor slowly faded away.

The door flew open as a security guard burst in. “What’s going on?”

“A bit late, super-attentive-guard-sir.” Hyoyeon clapped him once on the shoulder as she strolled by. “Meeting is adjourned for the day, I think.”

“So,” Taeyeon heard Tiffany mutter under her breath to Sunny as they filed past the bewildered man and out the door. “I’m guessing reporting to the police is out of the question.”

Sunny cursed and threw her head back, exhaling loudly through her nose. “You know, business school didn’t prepare me for this.”

“Hey.” The guard finally regained enough of his senses to step in front of Sooyoung before she could leave. “What exactly happened here?”

Sooyoung glared. “There was a gas leak. The doors and windows were locked. The aircon vent was closed and we couldn’t reach it. I knocked and shouted for a good minute, but no one heard us. So we broke a window instead, and apparently that was enough for you to finally realize you should probably come by and check to see that we weren’t dead.”

He blinked. “What?”

Taeyeon sighed and uncapped her pen with her teeth. She drew a few quick lines in her notepad and then ripped out the sheet to hand to him. “Here. Is that clearer?”

He took in the six stick figures running around a rectangle of a room while two with bulging biceps smashed open the far end and the last yelled fruitlessly out the other. A stick figure with a security guard cap sat outside of the door, obviously snoozing. An ominous dark cloud labeled “certain death” loomed at the top of the rectangle.

By the time he thought to look up, the room was empty.

“Thanks,” Sooyoung laughed as the two walked down the hallway, the other seven only a couple meters ahead.

Taeyeon shrugged, grinning. “Well, you know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words.” She paused. “Ah, crap. I’m head juror, so I have to go and report to the judge or something, right?”

“I suppose so.” Sooyoung threw an arm around the shorter woman’s shoulder. “No worries. I’ll walk you there.”