SOSHI: Aesop’s Twisted Fable – Chapter 6

October 17, 2013 in Aesop's Twisted Fable, moonrise31, SOSHI by moonrise31

Chapter 6: Alone 

Alone: adj. having no one else present; on one’s own. (New Oxford American Dictionary)

“Wow, this is really good.” Yoona set down the papers she’d been reading, giving Yongguk a wide smile. “It’s a real improvement from your first draft.”

“You think so?” Yongguk looked genuinely pleased with himself, and Yoona felt a strange twinge in her stomach. Such an innocent expression clashed harshly with her knowledge of the crimes he was responsible for. Then she thought of Sooyoung, tucked away in a library somewhere, going through newspaper archives of the last several years to get a better handle on BAM’s activities. A necessary task, to be sure, but Yoona was acutely aware of the empty space next to her.

The void that only Sooyoung could fill.

“Thanks so much, Saebyuk,” Yongguk was saying. “I really should pay you back somehow.”

Yoona laughed. “Coffee’s always a good place to start.” She looked again at his smiling face and pushed her conflicted thoughts aside. She wondered why she was able to do it with ease while Sooyoung struggled so much that physical distance was necessary. It hadn’t always been that way.

I miss you, Sooyoung-unnie.

Then Yongguk had his hand around her wrist, pulling her out of her seat. He let go just as quickly, and they headed towards the café that had become their favorite place to chat. They were in no hurry; Yoona didn’t actually have anywhere to go (and she knew for a fact that Yongguk didn’t have classes for the rest of the day), so she let herself wander with him across campus, talking about whatever it was that Jang Saebyuk had in common with Bang Yongguk.

Yoona didn’t realize that they had walked off the usual path until she found herself behind the law building. She immediately took note of any security cameras—just one, on the corner of the roof, right by one of the tallest trees on campus. Yuri would be watching from the other side.

She glanced at Yongguk. “Decided to go a different way today?”

He seemed mildly surprised as well. “Sorry, I walk here by myself sometimes. Guess habit took over.” He grinned sheepishly and rubbed the back of his neck.

Yoona told him that it was nothing, because that was what Saebyuk would do. She and Yongguk had barely traveled two more meters before rapid footsteps approached from behind.

“Hyung!”

They turned. Yoona recognized the other student after comparing his features to the face she’d only seen before in photographs. Kim Himchan. Member of BAM’s upper ranks.

Instinctively, she looked up at the security camera. To her dismay, its vision was now thoroughly obscured by a thick tangle of tree branches, wide green leaves hardly letting even sunlight pass through.

Blind spot.

She swore silently and resisted the urge to reach up and touch the microphone hidden underneath her shirt—now her only connection with the rest of SOSHI. Just like that, Yuri was down to a single audio feed.

“Himchan—” Yongguk started.

“Hyung, the shipment’s late,” the other man interrupted. “If the dealers don’t have anything to deal, there’s going to be trouble.”

“Shut up,” Yongguk hissed.

Yoona took a step back—Saebyuk would want to be as far as possible from these situations.

Himchan retreated as well. He paled, uneasy gaze flickering between Yongguk and Yoona. “Wait, she’s not—?”

No, you idiot. She didn’t know anything until now.” Yongguk reached out and grabbed the other’s collar. He pulled Himchan’s face close to his. “Now there will be trouble,” Yongguk grit out from behind clenched teeth.

Saebyuk continued to back away, hand clutching the front of her shirt. The microphone, was all Yoona could think. Her mind buzzed. They hadn’t been ready for such a development so soon.

They?

She.

She’d been on her own from the start—a college student with a bluetooth device drew needless attention, so she never had an earpiece to receive direct orders from. She was on her own. Now there was no way Yuri could see what was going on. She was on her own.

Sooyoung wasn’t here.

She was on her own.

Yongguk shoved Himchan away. The latter stumbled back, barely managing to maintain his footing. The gang leader whipped around and made eye contact with Yoona.

She froze.

“Saebyuk,” Yongguk said lowly, almost calmly. But the tension in his voice vibrated with every word. “I think you should come with me.”

She shook her head, taking another step back. “It’s okay, really, Yongguk-sshi. I’ll just be on my way.” Her fist grew tighter. Through her shirt, she felt the hard lump of the microphone in her palm. “I won’t bother you.”

There was no telling what BAM would do to ensure the security of their drug business. They still didn’t know that they were being investigated. So if Yongguk found out about Yoona’s true identity too soon, the situation could become more complicated than it already was.

Yuri must be listening right now, Yoona told herself. She’s already got what we need. They were clearly talking about drugs.

“I’m sorry, Saebyuk.” Yongguk grabbed her wrist again. But coffee was long forgotten. “It isn’t a choice.”

“I’m going to call security,” said Yoona, because Saebyuk would be sensible like that.

Yongguk’s hardened gaze was more than enough to cut her off. “Don’t.”

“Sorry, hyung,” Himchan spoke up meekly from behind them.

“Just get the car,” Yongguk snarled.

Car, Yoona realized. The back of the law building was right beside a road. But there was no other vehicle, no other person around to see. We’ll be gone before Yuri can find us. She resisted the urge to just shove Yongguk away and scream.

This is such a mess. 

And there was only one thing she could do.

Himchan scrambled off. Yongguk glared after him. “What an idiot.”

Yeah, Yoona thought grimly as she finally released the hand that had been twisted in the front of her shirt. The microphone was now safely removed and inside her fist. She let it drop behind them as Yongguk pulled her closer to the curb. Her last connection to SOSHI clacked dully against the concrete.

What an idiot.

“Sunny you have to get over to Yoona now!”

Sunny winced and held her phone a few centimeters from her ear. “Calm down, Yuri. What happened?”

“I lost her, is what happened,” the other woman growled. “Damn school can’t even take proper care of its security cameras. Get over there now.”

“Alright, alright, going.” Sunny waved down a taxi and gave the driver the university address.

“Calm down, Yul,” she heard Jessica say on the other end. “What the hell are you writing on that post-it—”

“Dammit why is Soo on the other side of the city,” Yuri interrupted. “You called Fany and Hyo, right?”

“They’re on their way,” Jessica replied calmly. “You already called them. And now you’re sending Sunny. Want me to drive over there too, while we’re at it?”

“This two-case business is ridiculous,” Yuri was muttering. “We barely had enough people to cover one, and then the director goes and hands us two—”

“We’ll find Yoona,” Sunny said, and then hung up.

She hoped her confidence was as real as she had made it sound.

Tiffany and Hyoyeon were already there when she rounded the corner of the law building. Hyoyeon stood by the road, back facing Sunny. Tiffany was crouched on the ground, her fingers curling around an object lying in the gravel. She held it up as Sunny jogged toward them. “Yoong’s mic,” she reported.

“Struggle?” Sunny asked as she slowed. She looked up and down the road, but there wasn’t a single car in sight.

“Yuri doesn’t think so,” Tiffany answered. “She was hearing everything, and Yoona went without a fight. Which is probably the right decision, but damn it makes me angry.” Her hand closed around the microphone, squeezing so tightly that Sunny feared the tiny device would be crushed.

“She heard? What about cameras?” Hyoyeon turned to face them.

“Blind spot,” Sunny reported, jerking a thumb over her shoulder.

Tiffany followed the gesture and squinted. “Wow, that’s amazing tree cover.”

“Lucky us,” Hyoyeon grumbled. “We should probably find the nearest visuals on this road, or else Yul will go into conniptions.”

“Poor girl,” Tiffany murmured. She grabbed Hyoyeon’s hand and glanced over at Sunny. “How about we go down this way and you go the other way? Find any witnesses, cameras, tire tracks, whatever. We need to get her back.”

Sunny nodded and headed off in the direction Tiffany had specified. Since Yoona was on a different case, Sunny hadn’t had as much time to get to know her as well as she did her CCM case team. But her limited interactions with the younger woman had left her feeling happier and more lighthearted each time. So the pang in her chest ached even beyond the devastation of losing a valued team member.

She stopped twenty meters from where she’d split up with Tiffany and Hyoyeon, realizing that something was bothering her. She retraced her thoughts: Yoona, the road, finding evidence, Tiffany and Hyoyeon, the camera—

There.

Sunny frowned. Maybe I’m just overthinking it. But the more she dwelled, remembering the past few days, the more it made sense.

Later, she chided herself. There would be time to puzzle everything out later. At the very least, she could bug Taeyeon before she left the office for the night.

But still, a single thought persisted: There are so many things I don’t know about SOSHI.

It was perfectly acceptable, of course. She’d been here less than a week; trust and confidence in each other could only be built over time.

And yet, she’d never felt so comfortable among a group of people before; the fact that Taeyeon was a sorely missed and familiar face didn’t even come close to explaining it. Sure, she’d worked well with others in her department before the transfer, but here, she already felt like she belonged.

Which made the realization that she knew next to nothing about her new colleagues all the more distressing. And they knew just as little about her. She was stuck in limbo, existing inside the world of SOSHI even as she stood outside of it.

Give it time.

“There just never seems to be enough,” she said out loud.

Then she sighed and stuffed her hands in her pockets, kicking a pebble as she began walking once more along the deserted road.

An alternate definition—

Alone: adj. The feeling you get when you realize that, even among the seven billion people on the entire planet, you might not have a place to call your own.