SOSHI: Aesop’s Twisted Fable – Chapter 18 (END)

January 13, 2014 in Aesop's Twisted Fable, moonrise31, SOSHI by moonrise31

Chapter 18: Moral

Moral: n. A lesson, esp. concerning what is right or prudent, that can be derived from a story, a piece of information, or an experience. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

Taeyeon glanced at the clock as Jessica strode into the office. “Took you eight minutes, Sica. You’re late.”

The other raised an eyebrow. “Are you implying that I should’ve actually tried to run or something?”

“We’ll never give up hope,” Yuri replied smartly, waving her over. “Come on; I even booted up your computer for you and everything.”

“What a wonderful human being,” Jessica deadpanned as she took a seat beside the other tech. But she patted Yuri’s head in appreciation. “So what’ve we got?”

“Kwangsoo left the hospital twenty minutes ago,” Yoona answered. “A doctor came in to check up on him, and he must’ve attacked the poor guy or something. Came out a bit later in the doctor’s scrubs and a face mask, so our guards didn’t notice anything. He could be anywhere by now.”

“Gotcha,” Yuri cheered from her desk. She spun in her chair to face the others. “Found him on the hospital’s cameras. He left through the staff back door and took a taxi.”

Sooyoung frowned. “Okay, but where to?”

“Probably an airport,” Tiffany offered. “He needs to get out of here fast. Does he have a personal plane or something? Private airstrip, even?”

“That’s the last place he’d go to, though, because that’d be the first place we’d look,” Hyoyeon pointed out. “So he must’ve headed for Incheon or Gimpo.”

“Or maybe he doesn’t plan on flying out at all,” Seohyun suggested. “What if he’s just going to drive?”

“Searching all car rental transactions in the city right now,” Jessica reported. “But it’s only checking for his name or his daughters, or any associated staff. If he has some alternate identity we don’t know of, which he probably does, that’s a lot more hassle than we have time for.”

Sunny’s phone suddenly beeped. She pulled it out and read the message.

Taeyeon didn’t miss the grin spreading across her face. “Care to share, dear Soonkyu?”

Sunny made a mental note to hit Taeyeon later, but she wasted no time in showing her screen to the rest of the team. “Youngsun just texted. ‘My father told me he’s heading to Gimpo. Did something happen with the case? I thought he was still at the hospital.'”

The room fell silent. After a few moments, Yoona whispered, “Sunny-unnie, you have her number?”

Sunny’s reply was overrun by Hyoyeon. “He’s lying, isn’t he? He trusts his own daughters even less than he trusts us. No way he’d actually tell one of them where he was going.”

“Or would he?” Sooyoung countered, tapping her chin. “Kim Kwangsoo is a crafty man. Is he predicting that we’ll call his bluff and go for the other airport, leaving him free to head for Gimpo after all?”

“I hate mind games,” Jessica grumbled over the muted clacking of her keyboard.

“He could even be leading us in the wrong direction entirely,” Tiffany reminded them. “Maybe he’s taking that taxi all the way out of Seoul as we speak.”

“No.” Taeyeon shook her head, finally speaking up. “He’s not going to use a car. Taxi’s just out of the question—how many drivers get asked to go on trips outside the city? The same with rental cars—to properly escape, he’d have to go much farther than those who rent would usually go. And most companies have trackers on their vehicles anyway.”

“Exactly,” Seohyun said. “Which is why he’s going to Gimpo.”

The others turned to look at her.

“What makes you think that, maknae?” Hyoyeon prodded.

“Kwangsoo-sshi knows we’re smart, but he thinks himself smarter,” Seohyun explained confidently. “He figured that we would guess correctly that he’s headed for an airport. And he’s definitely played us before, so we’ll be wary. We’ll distrust his message to Youngsun-sshi and run to Incheon. Meanwhile, he’ll be safely on his way to Gimpo. Any further back-and-forth will just be overthinking that he doesn’t have time for.”

“So, Gimpo?” Sunny repeated, throwing a questioning glance at Taeyeon.

The leader shrugged. “I’d go with the girl holding a psychology degree.”

“Fourth from the left, second row,” Hyoyeon commented, recalling Seohyun’s wall of diplomas with a grin.

“Here’s hoping your facial recognition software works, Sica,” Yuri murmured. Her eyes stayed glued to her screen as the program cycled through countless clips of security camera footage obtained from Gimpo International Airport. All sorts of angles and locations—check-in, customs, waiting areas—flashed by faster than any of them could blink.

“Are you doubting me?” Jessica challenged. And then in a less confrontational voice, she said, “I’ll run a check through Incheon, just in case.”

“It’ll be slower,” Yuri warned the others. “We don’t have enough processing power to run two full searches on all the footage from both airports. So here’s hoping maknae is right.”

Sooyoung threw an arm around Seohyun’s shoulder. “It’s okay; I have faith. We all do, right?”

The unspoken “yes” came out as one long exhale of relief when Yuri’s computer pinged a positive match.

Sunny leaned closer to the screen. “Terminal 5, yeah?”

“Flight to the United States leaves in half an hour,” Jessica confirmed.

Sunny turned and headed for the exit, car keys jingling in her hand. “Fany, Yoong,” she called over her shoulder to the two closest agents. “Feel like tackling a multi-billionaire and wrestling him to the ground?”

Yoona grinned and grabbed Tiffany’s hand. “Unnie, I thought you’d never ask.”

“Hello again.”

Sunny smiled into her drink, not even turning to face the person who slid into the chair next to her. “Morning, Youngsun.”

“Long time no see, huh?” The other woman blew gently on the coffee in her hands. “I guess you’ve been busy.”

Sunny shrugged. “It’s more or less settled now.” She observed Youngsun out of the corner of her eye. “How’re you doing?”

She hadn’t expected the laugh that followed. “You don’t have to be so cautious about it. We’re all fine. Shocked, of course, but fine.”

“Mm.” Sunny took a thoughtful sip. “Were you not that close to begin with? Since, you know, he was your adoptive father.”

“I’m grateful to him,” Youngsun said sincerely. “But…” She hesitated, collecting her words.

Sunny let her think.

“But,” Youngsun started again, “There’s a difference between a ‘father’ and a ‘father figure‘, right? Between the one that you actually grow close to—grow to love—and the one who is there more than most…but you still aren’t completely surprised when he ends up throwing you away.”

Sunny nodded. “He threw a lot of things away.”

“Well, when you’re thrown out together, you band together,” Youngsun commented cheerfully. “Sometimes I forget that none of them are my sisters by blood. Not ones that I know of, anyway,” she added as an afterthought.

Sunny smiled, thinking about a special team of agents she had gotten to know so well over the last few weeks. “I know the feeling.”

They sat in pleasant silence, the hum of the coffee shop chatter filling their ears. Then Youngsun snickered. “Quite the show you guys put on at Gimpo, by the way.”

Sunny couldn’t hold back a grin. “I did tell my team to take him down, but I hadn’t imagined that they would do it quite so literally.”

“I’m glad they did. Look.” Youngsun held out her phone. “The video has over 100,000 views.”

“Ah yeah, I’ve seen it,” Sunny rubbed the back of her neck ruefully. “My boss had a few words to say about ‘discretion’, but whatever. I know he enjoyed it either way.” She paused, the username of the video uploader catching her eye. “Wait a minute. I remember you were there, too, since he actually ended up going where he told you he would. And the angle from where that video was taken, and where you were standing at the time…”

She narrowed her eyes.

Youngsun quickly flipped her phone so that the screen was facing the table. “Coincidence, right?” She teased.

Sunny rolled her eyes. “Wow. You’re welcome, ‘Hyomin‘, for boosting you to internet stardom.” She chuckled. “Nice username.”

“Sounds like a K-Pop idol, doesn’t it?” Youngsun agreed proudly. She lifted her drink to her lips as she stared wistfully out the window. “What I wouldn’t give so that Ryuhwa could be here enjoying it all too.”

It was a hard statement to respond to.

“I’m sure she’ll wake up one day,” Sunny finally said. But she wasn’t a doctor.

That fact remained unspoken as Youngsun simply nodded. “I’m sure too.”

Sunny raised her mocha. Without a word, Youngsun lifted her cup and touched it to Sunny’s, the steam from the two drinks swirling into one entangled, smoky wisp.

They drank, the caffeinated liquid heating their stomachs as comforting thoughts warmed their hearts.

“Back to school, huh?” Taeyeon raised her eyebrows at the girl standing on the other side of her desk.

“Hyoyeon-unnie’s been nagging me about it.” Seohyun shrugged. “And she’s actually been quite good about not touching my lab equipment, so I guess I have to keep my end of the bargain.”

Taeyeon blinked. “I’m just not gonna ask.” She reached for a pen. “Do you want to take a break from your work here, then, until you get settled again?”

Seohyun shook her head firmly. “I can handle both, unnie. I want to.”

“Alright, if you think you can handle it.” The confidence in Taeyeon’s grin betrayed the challenge in her tone.

“Of course.” Seohyun smiled. “Oh, and here are the last analyses for the CCM case.” She handed over a folder filled with papers. “The blood’s a match, and the clothing as well. Kwangsoo-sshi must have kicked the window in order to misdirect suspicion. No doubt he got rid of the tapes and nameplate somehow, but even if we can’t find them, I think his confession is good enough.”

“Jessica didn’t take long at all with him,” Taeyeon commented as she leafed through the folder. “I gotta say, it’s kinda hard to watch a grown man cry.”

“It’s the only way any functional human would react,” Seohyun said briskly. “And I’ll give him that, even though he doesn’t seem as much of a parent as he should be.”

“Yeah…” Taeyeon trailed off. She set down the folder and picked up her pen again. Resting her chin in one hand, she began spinning her writing utensil with the other.

“Thinking about something, unnie?” Seohyun asked after a few moments.

“Fathers are funny things,” Taeyeon replied. The pen flipped smoothly between her fingers. “I was just remembering a story about one that Soo told me. Except this father cared about his kids so much that he went on to teach them something important even through death.”

Seohyun tilted her head, curious. “What was the story?”

Taeyeon set the pen down and stood up. “Oh, just something about greedy kids who wouldn’t listen to their dad about how hard work leads to success. But then, when you look at this case, all the characters and storylines seem pretty jumbled up in comparison, don’t they?”

The two of them walked into the outer office. Sooyoung waved at them from across the room, smiling, before returning to an animated discussion with Yoona and Yuri. Taeyeon raised a hand in reply.

“That’s the difference between stories and real life, I suppose,” Seohyun observed after some thought.

“Very true.” Taeyeon wrapped an arm around Seohyun’s waist and pulled the younger woman close. “Guys, maknae’s got a not-so-suprising announcement to make.”

Tiffany gave Seohyun a hug upon hearing the news, beaming her congratulations, and Hyoyeon had a rather smug look on her face. Then Jessica waved her over to give her an approving pat on the head.

After her high-five with Sunny, Seohyun turned to Taeyeon, palm still tingling warmly as she recalled their earlier conversation. “If the story’s written well enough, though, maybe it won’t be so far from real life.”

The corners of Taeyeon’s lips quirked upwards.”You’ve got a point there, maknae.” She punched the other’s shoulder softly. “So, gonna go off and do some writing?”

Seohyun smiled, the movement slight compared to the expansive warmth that had filled her from head to toe. “With you unnies, anything is possible.”

An alternate definition—

Moral: n. For some, a whimsical truism; for others, a life-changing philosophy. Its one consistency is that it always varies: beauty is in the eye of the beholder.

End Episode 1