SOSHI: Aesop’s Twisted Fable – Chapter 14

December 21, 2013 in Aesop's Twisted Fable, moonrise31, SOSHI by moonrise31

Chapter 14: Coincidence

Definition: n. A remarkable concurrence of events or circumstances without apparent casual connection. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

“How the hell did this happen.”

Tiffany looked up from her phone and shrugged. “Some lapse in security, maybe.”

“We had guards. We knew this was a possibility.” Sunny punctuated each word with a punch to the steering wheel.

Tiffany watched her hand with a wary eye. “Calm down, please. I’d rather we didn’t crash before we got there.”

“We’re not going to crash,” Sunny growled. She stopped, though, and settled for tightening her grip until her knuckles turned white.

Tiffany rolled her eyes. “Whatever you say. I still think Hyoyeon had the right idea when she decided to hang back and ‘keep an eye on maknae’.” But when Sunny’s only response was a grunt, her tone softened. “The last thing you should be doing is blaming yourself, you know.”

“What? I’m not.” Sunny made herself ease the car to a stop at the red light. “I’m not. But this should never have happened. We knew it was a possibility, and we still failed to prevent it. How does that even work?”

“You had no control over it,” Tiffany gently reminded her. “You did what you could, and that’s enough. You can’t be in more than one place at once.”

Sunny exhaled as the light turned green. “Yeah.”

Tiffany sank back into her seat. “We don’t even know the whole story at this point, anyway. I’d like to assume competency of our personnel, which means that they had to have a good reason to be caught off-guard like this.”

“Yeah. We’ll see.” Sunny let out a dry laugh. “Starting to sound like a broken record, aren’t we? Beating ourselves up and having to be pep-talked out of it, over and over again.”

Tiffany smirked. “Taetae calls it the ‘blame game’.” She held up her phone. “And she figured you’d be playing it right about now.”

Sunny just shook her head, allowing a faint smile. “She really thinks she has to take care of all of us, doesn’t she?”

“And no one plays the game better than her,” Tiffany commented, glancing at her phone one more time before pocketing it. “Turn here, right?”

“The big mansion would indicate it, yes,” Sunny shot back as she directed the car onto the long winding path up to Kim Kwangsoo’s residence.

One of the agents they’d left behind was waiting to greet them. As soon as they’d stepped out of the car, she bowed ninety degrees and said, “Sorry Agent Lee, we screwed up big time.”

Tiffany smothered a chuckle with one hand.

Sunny’s anger had subsided on the drive over, and she was taken aback by the agent’s sincere manner. But she kept her expression neutral. “What happened, happened, Amber-sshi. Would you mind just telling us the details?”

“Kwangsoo-sshi told us that he had a private call to make, and he didn’t want us near his office. So Song and I just made our usual rounds until one of the maids got to us through Kwangsoo-sshi’s walkie-talkie and said he’d been assaulted. He’s already been sent to the hospital. Condition is stable, and they expect him to come around soon.”

“Luckier than his daughter then, it seems,” Sunny noted grimly. “No outside breach, then?”

Amber shook her head. “We have someone watching the security cameras and others patrolling the perimeter. No sign of break-in.”

“Alright, thanks.” Sunny smiled. “Everything turned out okay, Amber-sshi, and you did what you were supposed to in either case. If you could just finish collecting all the statements from the staff and daughters, that’d be great.”

“You think it’s an inside job, then?” Tiffany asked as they entered the building.

Sunny nodded. “Sure seems that way. Plus, then that would make timing the attack really easy, since I’m sure everyone in this house knows the patrol schedule by now.”

“A ‘house’, you said,” Tiffany scoffed as she looked at the ceiling high above their heads.

Sunny chuckled, remembering the first time they’d stepped inside the mansion. “Two hundred sixty-three steps from here to the office, was it?”

Tiffany laughed. “According to Hyoyeon, it was actually two hundred sixty-four. Apparently I miscounted once I started doing it silently, so she tripped me for it later.”

The two arrived at the office and ducked under the caution tape. Sunny glanced around. “Seohyun’s on her way to the hospital now?”

“Yeah, she should be giving us an update on how exactly he was attacked soon.” Tiffany walked over to the desk and pulled out a drawer. “Same weapon, do you think?”

Sunny tapped the edge of the desktop, right on the empty space between a picture frame and a cup of pens. “Was there a nameplate here before? Was there ever one?”

Tiffany opened her mouth to answer, but then Amber peeked in the doorway. “Agent Lee, we’re done with most of the statements.”

“Most?” Sunny repeated, eyebrows raised. “Who’s missing?”

“Actually, only one person: No Minwoo, the butler. The chef said he saw him leaving through the back door shortly after Kwangsoo-sshi was attacked, and he managed to slip through all of the security camera blind spots. So we took that as enough reason to have his locker searched.” Amber held up a package with a familiar logo.

“Seven Springs. BAM is just getting more and more wrapped up in this, aren’t they,” Sunny muttered.

“I was just thinking that it always seems to be the butler,” Tiffany commented. “But uh,” she added, grimacing at Sunny’s deadpan expression, “I’ll tell Jessi to get on that No Minwoo guy. Good?”

Sunny set the box of tea onto the empty spot on Kwangsoo’s desk. “Good.”

“Hey, Soo—”

Yuri stopped, report in hand. Because she hadn’t remembered Sooyoung looking so defeated before. The way her back was slouched, the dark circles under her eyes so prominent Yuri could even seen them from the doorway.

Had it really just been the day before when Sooyoung had walked out of the SOSHI office, standing tall as if she still had enough strength to face what she had to?

There’s none left.

Sooyoung put her pencil down and turned to face the doorway, resting her chin in one tired hand. “What’s up, Yul?”

“I, ” Yuri hesitated, then pushed work out of her mind. Because some things were more important. “Soo, your father’s name is Jeongnam.”

The other girl immediately froze, her eyes wide like a deer caught in the headlights of an oncoming semi truck. Which made Yuri uncomfortable, because she didn’t want to be the semi truck. She was supposed to be the one pushing that deer out of the road and into safety.

“Taeyeon asked me just now,” she explained, voice soft. “What his name was. She said it was so she could write your family’s holiday card properly.”

Sooyoung’s lip twitched. “Now? It’s the middle of July.”

Yuri took a tentative step forward. “I told her I’d look through my post-its and get back to her.”

Sooyoung let her hand fall to the tabletop with a dull thud. Then she leaned heavily on her elbow and tilted her head, staring at Yuri intently. “You didn’t need to look through your notes though, did you.”

“Soo,” Yuri said, shoving her hands in her pockets just so she could have them do something, “You know you can tell us anything, right?” She paused and searched for more words hidden in the linoleum underneath her feet. “I mean, we found out anyway. But we won’t say we did ’til we hear it from you.” She looked up.

Sooyoung held her gaze.

Yuri didn’t blink.

Several seconds passed before Sooyoung let out one long, resigned exhale. “I just didn’t say anything ’cause there wasn’t anything that we could do.”

Yuri took another step and tried to give a reassuring grin. “I don’t think that’s true. Have you met us?”

Sooyoung laughed, but the sound made Yuri sad. It fell dead against her eardrums, as if Sooyoung had already tied the blindfold and turned to face her end, now only waiting for the fatal bullet to run her through.

“My dad doesn’t know that I know,” Sooyoung was explaining, her monotone rushed, like she would run out of strength entirely at any moment. “But I mean, I’m an investigator, right? It was only a matter of time ’til I found out. And wow…you should probably lock me up in an asylum for saying this, but…he’s done so much. Made all the right moves. He’s on the tongue of every person worth knowing in the underground, and yet, they won’t speak his name unless it’s with their last breath. He’s so scary, and it almost makes me…proud. I’m proud of the most dangerous man in Seoul.”

She suddenly let out a frustrated yell, grabbing her head with both hands and letting her fingers get tangled in fistfuls of hair. But then she let go and her arms slumped to her sides, eyes downcast and dangerously blank.

Yuri said nothing.

Only walked behind Sooyoung and bent down, sliding both arms carefully around the other woman’s waist. She rested her chin on Sooyoung’s shoulder and tightened her hug. Heard Seohyun’s words from what seemed like forever ago.

Sooyoung-unnie’s response was perfectly human.

How else could she have responded on that witness stand? Sooyoung had tailed that criminal across the city, and he had started to become more of a person with every detail she learned. She couldn’t have been expected to look him in the eye and not be reminded that one day, it could be Jeongnam in the defendant’s seat. Sooyoung could be the daughter sitting straight-backed on the bench, waiting to hear her father’s fate.

Yuri wanted to kick herself.

“He’s not even doing it for his own sake.” Sooyoung’s voice cracked. “You gotta know that he’s crazy rich from all of this, right? With his illness and everything, there’s no telling when he’s gonna go blind and no longer be able to do anything. So he’s working now to support us in the future.” Her next sentence came out in a hoarse whisper. “Is this really the only way?”

“Of course not,” Yuri wanted to say. But that didn’t make it true. So she tightened her hold instead.

“My dad,” Sooyoung started again, sounding so drained that Yuri was afraid she might pass out right there, “Yuri, my dad is going to be on SOSHI’s ‘Most Wanted’ list. What the hell am I going to do?”

“I don’t know,” Yuri replied honestly. “I really don’t know.” She felt so stupid, because it was the only thing she could say. And her mind seemed to be on autopilot as well, because only one thought was running through her head:

If I hug you long enough, can you be okay?

“Hey,” Sooyoung said, “What’s that?”

Yuri suddenly remembered the report she’d meant to deliver. “It’s nothing.” She crumpled the sheet and threw it one-handed into the trash bin under the table. “Those really weren’t the search results I’d come up with by cross-referencing the name Jeongnam with BAM and the list of hideouts from my program.”

Sooyoung tried to turn. “Yuri—”

“One sec, Jessica’s calling.” Yuri pulled out her phone and set it on speaker, holding it in front of them both. “What’s up, Sica?”

“Youngjae just made contact. He took over after we got Youngguk, so he’s gonna make all of BAM gather at their base tonight. And guess what?” Jessica’s voice became smug. “It’s that stupid pastry shop Tiff was going on about. But yeah. Nine-thirty sharp, so don’t be late.”

“Well,” Yuri commented after she’d hung up, “that’s convenient. So there you go. I don’t know what we’re going to do, but,” she grinned at Sooyoung, “that’s a start, isn’t it? Stalling for time is the first trick in the book.”

“Yeah.” Sooyoung finally relaxed in her arms, and Yuri couldn’t remember ever feeling so relieved. “Thanks, Yul.”

“One step at a time,” Yuri whispered. “We’re going to make it out of this. We’ll find a way somehow, you know. We always do.”

“Yeah,” Sooyoung agreed again, and Yuri’s heart jumped when she heard the lightness in the younger woman’s tone. “We always do.”

An alternate definition–

Coincidence: n. Fate’s terrible way of showing us exactly just how fickle she can be.