SOSHI: Aesop’s Twisted Fable – Chapter 5

October 9, 2013 in Aesop's Twisted Fable, moonrise31, SOSHI by moonrise31

Chapter 5: Chance

Chance: n. an opportunity to do or achieve something. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

“Aw, dang it.”

Jessica looked up from her phone and leaned sideways, peering over Yuri’s shoulder. She watched the colorful blinking icons flash across the other woman’s screen for several seconds before commenting, “Hard at work, I see.”

“It’s not like there’s anything else to do,” Yuri defended, pausing her game. She switched windows to a video feed of a familiar college campus café. “Yoona’s just hanging out with Yongguk as usual. And she’s not the only one who’s got ulterior motives, if you know what I mean.”

Noticing his charming grin and friendly hand on the table just a centimeter from Yoona’s, Jessica held back a snicker. “And you’ve got a front row seat. Lucky you.”

Yuri rolled her eyes. “Don’t remind me.” She sighed and spun around once in her chair. “I’ll give this guy props, though. To be on his tail for three weeks and still not have anything concrete on BAM is pretty impressive on his part.”

“Maybe you’re just getting soft,” Jessica suggested flippantly as she gave Yuri a push, sending the other woman on another rotation. “If we didn’t have Youngjae, we wouldn’t even know any of the higher-ups in that gang.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Yuri stopped spinning and scooted closer to her desk. She tapped at her keyboard and brought up profiles of four other youths, reading their names out loud for what seemed like the thousandth time. “Kim Himchan, Jung Daehyun, Moon Jongup, Choi Junhong. Nabbing Yongguk in something incriminating is hard enough, but these guys are still next to shadows. And now our effective manpower’s been cut in half with that CCM case.”

Jessica skimmed each file from where she was sitting, but she’d already done her fair share of research and surveillance before Taeyeon had switched her to Sunny’s team. She sighed and picked up a pencil, doodling on a stray post-it note. “Kwangsoo’s got too much money for his own good. Rich guys just want everything right now,” she murmured, resting her chin in one hand as she continued to scribble.

Yuri watched the foreign characters take form on the paper. “N-O-W,” she read in halting English.

“Yeah,” Jessica giggled, amused by the other’s accent. She dropped the pencil and returned her attention to Yuri’s screen. “You know, I still don’t understand why we aren’t tracking one of those lower guys. The leader’s going to be the toughest, so forget him. Youngjae should have easier access to the others’ activities, anyway.”

Yuri shrugged. “It’s Sooyoung’s call. If we take out the head, the rest of the body has to come with, yeah? It might take longer, but it’ll be worth it. And the more Youngjae contacts us, the more risk there is, so I’d rather not use him more than necessary.”

Jessica nodded thoughtfully. “I just figured Soo would want to get this over with more quickly, you know? Before something like last time could happen.”

“What happened last time?”

The two turned to find Seohyun with a stack of files tucked under one arm and a cup of steaming coffee in her free hand. She held up the latter. “From Taeyeon-unnie. She says, ‘please don’t hurt me’.”

Jessica accepted the drink and lifted the cap to smell the contents. She grinned. “Well, alright. But only because she made it right this time.”

“I guess you were too busy with research before to pay attention,” Yuri said, answering Seohyun’s earlier question. “The last case Sooyoung led was a six-month project with lots of undercover work. Some pimp we were trying to nail down, so should’ve been easy, right?”

Seohyun shrugged. “I wouldn’t know, but it seems like you unnies managed.”

“Yeah, we did.” Jessica set the coffee cup down slowly, carefully. “The problem came when Soo had to testify in court. She couldn’t do it.”

The younger tilted her head. “Couldn’t do it?”

Yuri exhaled through her nose. “Undercover work means getting close and personal with the target, you know? And as horrible as these people are, they’re still people. They’ve got families, friends. Weaknesses, fears. Sooyoung learned all of those while she was investigating. And she just couldn’t bring herself to hammer that last nail into his proverbial coffin.”

The steady whir of the air conditioning was magnified in the sudden hush that followed.

“Taeng saved it,” Jessica quickly continued. “So we were still able to put him behind bars. But after that…this is the first case Soo’s been back in the field for since then.”

“Just try not to mention it to her, okay?” Yuri added softly. “She’s pretty conflicted about it.”

“But why?” Seohyun frowned. “Does she think she did something wrong?”

“I wouldn’t say wrong,” Jessica said immediately. “But she didn’t do her job, you know?”

Seohyun shook her head. “A job is one thing. But this isn’t something she can control.”

“But she should be able to,” Yuri pointed out with a shrug. “We have to be professional around here, and it’s not like we don’t understand or anything. We trust that it won’t happen again, but you know. There’s always that ‘what if’.”

“I still don’t get it,” Seohyun insisted. “We’re talking about a level higher than being a professional here.”

Jessica took a sip of her coffee, raising her eyebrows. “And what level is that?”

Seohyun met her gaze readily. “Sooyoung-unnie’s response was perfectly human. Are you suggesting she should be any less?”

The other two women could only stare back at her.

Jessica set down her cup once more. The sound of the bottom tapping against her desk echoed throughout the entire office.

Seohyun continued, now slightly calmer. “No offense to you unnies, but sometimes I don’t understand how you can only focus on one side of someone instead of the whole person. Of course I’m thankful that you’re catching bad people,” she amended. “It’s just that I don’t think I’d be able to do the same, personally. Not like that. And I’ve seen the horrible things they’ve done.”

The air conditioning hummed.

“Just give Sooyoung-unnie a chance,” Seohyun said quietly.

Yuri’s bemused expression broke into a warm smile. “Wise words from our maknae, eh? We’ll send you to cheer up Soo next time.”

Jessica nodded before gesturing at the folder Seohyun was still holding. “Got a present for us?”

“Oh.” Seohyun held out her papers. “Jessica-unnie, here’s the rest of the calculations for the broken window. Would you mind running them through?”

“No problem.” Jessica plucked the folder out of the doctor’s hands and began entering the information into her program. A few moments later, she was scanning through the values the computer had returned. “Hm.”

Seohyun examined the results over her shoulder and pointed at one number. “What’s that supposed to be?”

“The force used to break the window,” Jessica replied. “It’s high, isn’t it?”

The doctor tapped her chin. “I haven’t personally met any of the sisters, but I don’t know if they’d be strong enough to do that.”

“Maybe one of them does martial arts,” Yuri suggested, half-joking.

Seohyun shrugged. “Could be. I’ll recheck my calculations just in case.” She waved goodbye and exited the office.

Jessica sighed and pulled up her code editor. “As if she’d ever make a mistake. Guess I’ll have to check my end too.”

Yuri laughed and gave the other a sympathetic pat on the back. “That’s our Seohyun.”

[Taeyeon] 11:43 AM: Yah. Thanks for telling me your “overbearing uncle” IS MY BOSS

Sunny barely managed to keep from snorting out loud. She pocketed her phone, but couldn’t resist the urge to smile. She’d been meaning to talk to Taeyeon about Lee Sooman, but the text made it clear that Taeyeon didn’t mind in the slightest. And she was thankful for that, because there were more pressing matters at hand.

Tiffany and Hyoyeon’s interview that morning had been fruitful, but not nearly enough. Jungeun and Youngsun would be conveniently out for the rest of the evening, so she’d sent the other two agents in search of Yeonji and headed to her favorite coffee shop to clear her head.

She settled herself on one of the barstools facing the window, giving her a clear view of the street. Wrapping her fingers around the steaming latte, she sighed. There had to be something she was missing.

“Excuse me. Do you mind if I sit here?”

Sunny turned and hid her surprise when she found herself face-to-face with none other than Youngsun. She smiled and gestured to the empty chair on her right. “Be my guest.”

Youngsun sat down with a sigh and took a sip of her drink. Then she gave Sunny another onceover. “This might seem really forward of me, but…have I met you somewhere before?”

Sunny laughed. “Try yesterday, at your place.”

Realization dawned on the other woman. “You’re one of the investigators.”

Sunny noted the slim fingers clenching the coffee cup just a little more tightly and gave Youngsun a reassuring smile. “No worries—I’m not here on anything officially work-related. You can enjoy your mocha in peace.”

She returned her attention to the street on the other side of the window, but she noticed Youngsun out of the corner of her eye. Kwangsoo’s daughter seemed to be contemplating something. And a moment later, another question came: “You’re not here officially. What about unofficially?”

Sunny didn’t divert her attention from the passerby outside the shop. “Unofficially, I’m thinking about work, and not actually doing any of it.” She glanced at Youngsun as she lifted her own coffee to her lips. “To be honest, I’m surprised you haven’t rushed out of here already, judging by your interactions with my colleagues earlier today.”

Youngsun’s cheeks reddened slightly. “I will admit that it wasn’t my best moment.” She shrugged, relaxing her posture the tiniest bit. “But maybe I just needed to get out of that place. I’ve organized my thoughts some more since then.”

“That’s good.” Sunny watched as a child ran past, his hand tightly gripping the string of a balloon floating along behind him. His harried mother dashed by several seconds later.

Sunny suddenly became aware of the anticipation in Youngsun’s silence. She turned to face the other woman. “If you have something to say, I’ll wait for you. But don’t expect me to start you off with a question or something.” She grinned. “I’m on break, remember?”

“Yeah.” Youngsun gave a tired chuckle. “It’s just…complicated.” One of her hands reached down to scratch at her leg.

“Take your time,” Sunny said, smiling as the mother finally caught up to her son on the other end of the block. He greeted her with a wide laugh and jumped into her relief-filled arms.

“Cute,” Youngsun commented softly. “Makes you think about your own parents, doesn’t it?”

Sunny heard the wistfulness in her voice and remembered that Kwangsoo’s daughters had all been adopted in their adolescent years, which meant they’d had their fair share of hardships beforehand. And even now, they lacked a mother figure. “A little,” she allowed, but decided not to elaborate.

Youngsun hummed in agreement and swirled her mocha absentmindedly with one hand. Then she stopped and said, “Agent Lee, one thing I need you to know is that we aren’t trying to be your enemies or anything. We’re not the ones you should be investigating.”

“I’d like that,” Sunny said, and she wished it with all of her heart.

The two sipped their drinks in silence.

An alternate definition—

Chance: n. something that can be had or lost, given or taken. Do with it what you will.