SOSHI: The Roads We Have Taken – Chapter 17 (END)

October 12, 2014 in moonrise31, SOSHI, The Roads We Have Taken by moonrise31

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes had once, and of their shadows deep…

William Butler Yeats

Chapter 17: In which stories close, others remain uncertain, and new roads open (ripe for the taking).

Sunny’s phone beeped. She reached out without looking at the screen, swiping her thumb across the keypad to unlock the device before opening her messages.

What she read made a grin spread from ear to ear.

“Unnie?” Yoona noticed her silly smile and immediately walked over to peer over her shoulder. “What happened?”

Sunny held up her phone for the other to read. “Ryuhwa. She woke up.”

“Morning, guys,” Sooyoung greeted, cutting off Yoona, who was excitedly hitting Sunny’s shoulder with her uninjured hand in lieu of clapping. “Woah there. What’s got you so jumpy?”

“Kim Kwangsoo’s daughter came out of her coma,” Yuri answered, dispelling the impression that she had been too hard at work to notice Sunny’s announcement.

“Nice.” Sooyoung grinned. “That’s a relief.” She dropped her bag onto her desk and sat down with a huff.

“How’s the moving going, unnie?” Yoona asked solemnly. “Moving” had become the team’s euphemism for how the rest of Sooyoung’s family were taking the revelation of Jeongnam’s recent activities. It wasn’t that they were afraid of being overheard, but more that if this was the lie they were going to tell, it would be better if they got accustomed to it as soon as possible.

Sooyoung shook her head. “He’s still planning. I just want him to get it over with, because it’ll make the transition a lot easier, but…I guess he needs time as well.”

“It’s okay, Soo,” Hyoyeon piped up, carefully making her way over to Sooyoung’s desk so she could pat the other on the head. “Just try not to think of all the sushi you’ll be missing out by not going with them.”

Sooyoung’s eye twitched. “I am this close to resigning and ditching you all.” She held up her thumb and forefinger, pinching them together so there was barely any space in between. “This close.”

“I’m gonna grab some coffee,” Sunny spoke up. “Anyone else want any?”

“Yuri-unnie needs some,” Yoona immediately answered. “She’s been up all night…looking up that Choi Jeongnam guy.”

“I’ve almost got him,” Yuri added. I’m almost done laying the fake trail.

“Can’t be soon enough,” Sooyoung murmured, though she wasn’t sure if she’d ever be completely at ease. Who knew when this could come back to bite them later?

“Speaking of techs,” Sunny looked around, unknowingly interrupting the other’s more melancholy thoughts, “any idea where Sica is?”

“She’s taking a day off with her sister today,” Taeyeon replied as she stepped out of her office. “The senior agent was finally faced with evidence that Krystal was, in fact, innocent this entire time. Imagine that.”

Hyoyeon shook her head. “Just think—if Do Shibak had actually been as awesome as he thinks he is, he would’ve known better than to be caught on camera in the Function’s office and then having to sloppily cover it up later.”

“It was actually pretty clever,” Yuri said thoughtfully. “Krystal had the unfortunate circumstance of being in just the right security camera footage for him to overlay her over himself. Complicated stuff; we almost didn’t crack it.” She paused. “Don’t tell Sica I said that.”

Taeyeon snorted. “He was so clever that he grew overconfident. He wasn’t even asked to bug the Function’s office, so it’s really his own fault he decided to go above and beyond the call of his supposed duty.” She turned to Sunny. “By the way, did I hear you offer to go on a coffee run?”

“Alright, that’s one for me, Yuri, and Taeng,” Sunny counted the orders off on her fingers. “Last call. Going once, twice…”

“Maknae could probably use a cup as well,” Hyoyeon suggested. “She was up all night doing research or something again.”

Sunny nodded. “Got it.”

The others indicated that they were alright, so Sunny slipped out of the office and made her way down to the break room. She grinned when she noticed a familiar figure standing at the counter. “Hey, Fany. How’s the head?”

Tiffany turned and smiled back. “Getting better, thanks. It helps that you all are coddling me to no end. It’s all I can do to convince Taeyeon I can still come into work to sit around and at least pretend to be doing things.”

“Hey, the faster you heal, the better,” Sunny defended, walking over to the coffee machine. She paused, hand hovering over the container of coffee beans. “So, I’ve been thinking.”

“Yeah?” Tiffany asked, amused. “Please, do tell.”

Sunny stuck her tongue out, expertly pouring the beans into the machine without even looking. “Well, it’s just that…when we went to Los Angeles…” her expression turned serious again, and she focused on the small red light that had just blinked on when she’d pressed the button.

“It was fun,” Tiffany said lightly, tapping at her own cup of coffee that she’d already made just before Sunny arrived. Then she lifted the cup to her lips to take a tentative sip of the hot liquid. She made a face. “Mm. Needs more cream.”

Sunny sighed. “Yeah, it was. Fun. Los Angeles, I mean. Well, besides the whole having to rescue Krystal thing. Which brings me to my next point.” But she stopped again.

“You’re referring to my mom,” Tiffany said, now stirring cream into her drink and watching the coffee turn a lighter brown.

“Yeah.” Sunny winced. “I mean, yeah. That was the other reason you and Sica went through the basement of Kim Youngmin’s building, right? To try and snoop around. And then Sica got you all those files.”

“Why don’t you say that a little louder, so the entire floor can hear,” Tiffany replied casually, but she didn’t seem particularly upset.

“Sorry.” Sunny apologized anyway. “I’m just trying to say that, well…you wanted to go to L.A. because we were following a lead on Do Shibak, and you always had a suspicion that your mom…”

Tiffany waited patiently, trying another sip of her drink. She smacked her lips together, satisfied with the sweetness.

Sunny took a deep breath. “…That maybe what happened with your mom and Do Shibak were connected somehow.”

“That was what I was thinking, yes,” Tiffany confirmed.

Sunny bit her lip. “Well, he was born the same year as us. Which would mean…”

“He was barely thirteen when my mom passed away, yeah.”

Sunny shifted uncomfortably. She jumped a little when the machine whistled, and used the next few seconds to carefully pour a cup of the steaming coffee. She hoped it would stay warm enough for a trip down to Seohyun’s lab and back up again. “I guess we’ll have to keep looking, huh?”

“Yeah.” Tiffany nodded. “Do Shibak might be a genius, but I doubt he was already that prodigious before he even hit puberty.”

Sunny’s lip twitched as she imagined self-assured Do Shibak trying to assert himself even while his voice cracked every other word. “So what did those files say?”

Tiffany took a deep breath, something more distressed crossing her expression for the first time in their conversation. “Nothing.”

“Nothing?” Sunny repeated.

“Nothing.” Tiffany exhaled. “No conspiracy surrounding this one, it seems. No bomb. Just an actual engine malfunction. Just… just a really, really unfortunate accident.”

Sunny wiped her hands on a napkin before reaching out to pat the other’s shoulder. “I’m sorry, Fany.”

Tiffany’s eyes glittered with tears that refused to drop, but she still smiled. “I’m not going to say it’s alright, but it could definitely be worse. And in either case, this was what drove me to become an agent in the first place. And then because of it, I got to meet all of you guys. So I guess it isn’t the outcome that matters as much as the journey to get here.”

“Sounds like some sort of paraphrased proverb,” Sunny commented, laughing along when Tiffany let out a chuckle. “So,” she examined the taller girl’s face closely. “You’re…okay?”

Tiffany’s smile was a touch sadder this time. “I don’t know about that. I don’t know if this is something you can ever get over.”

“I don’t think it is.” Sunny immediately shook her head. “But you know, as long as you can make it to the next day, that’s good. That’s good enough for me.” The coffee machine whistled a second time.

“Looks like your drink agrees with you,” Tiffany laughed. “Well, believing in some sort of conspiracy is what’s gotten me this far, but I guess I’ll have to find something else now.”

Sunny shrugged. “Or you can dig a little more.” She raised her eyebrows. “Maybe your gut feeling is right after all?”

“Maybe.” But Tiffany shook her head. “I’m done chasing after it, though. I guess if it comes around, it comes around, and I’ll deal with it then. It’s just…” she hesitated, lowering her voice. “After everything with Soo, I guess…I’ve decided sometimes it’s better not to know for as long as possible.”

Sunny nodded, pressing the button on the machine for the third time. “Yeah, I guess you’ve got a point.” She glanced down at the two cups of hot coffee she’d already prepared. “Your mom would be proud of you, though. I know that for sure.”

She didn’t need to look to see the smile on Tiffany’s face. “Yeah. And I suppose that’ll be enough. It should have been, all along.”

Sunny gestured to the drinks on the counter. “I’m bringing one down to Seohyun once I finish. Want to come with?”

“Yeah, sure.” Tiffany nodded. “She gave me some awesome painkillers the other day. I dunno if we have to be concerned about her running some sort of drug lab down there.” She drained the last of her coffee and tossed the styrofoam cup in the trash bin.

“Or maybe she was just testing the placebo effect on you, which means she just gave you regular aspirin,” Sunny teased. She poured her third cup and reached for the spoon in the coffee bean container one last time.

Tiffany gasped, placing a hand over her chest. “Our maknae? Being tricky? Has the world ended?”

Sunny shrugged. “All in the name of science.”

It was nice hearing Tiffany laugh. Watch her throw her head back and clap her hands, for once disregarding the weight of their occupation, the weight of what seemed to be the world.

And it was times like these, Sunny reflected as she and Tiffany walked down the hall, a cup of coffee in each hand, that made her think it would be okay to go on like this. No matter what obstacles were thrown into their paths, no matter what secrets they would have to keep. No matter what, they’d be able to go on.

And maybe, just maybe, they could go on for a long time yet.

…And bending down beside the glowing bars
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead

Her face forever hidden amid a crowd of stars.

End Episode 2.

 
 

PDF available here or on the BySONE Downloads page.

Begin long author’s note.

After those fateful events at the end of September came to light, I struggled with how I wanted this fic to end. My confidence in my characterizations plummeted, followed quickly by my motivation. I selfishly wondered why this entire debacle couldn’t have been delayed for just a few weeks, because then I could’ve gotten the last chapters pumped out while still being fully immersed in my happy, indestructible OT9 bubble. But bubbles pop, eventually; I guess we can’t always get what we wish for, eh?

So basically, for the first few days after the news came out, I switched how I wanted to end this about once every hour. It took all I had not to write a last parting shot like this:

Jessica blinked, reaching for her ringing phone and noting the “unknown caller” scrolling across the screen.

She hesitated. But against her better judgment, she tapped the green button and pressed the phone to her ear. “Hello?”

“Hello, Jessica-sshi,” a smooth voice on the other end answered. “My name is Tyler Kwon. And I have a proposition that I think you’ll find absolutely irresistible.”

(But let’s not go pointing fingers, shall we? Even hypothetical ones. And that’s the thing: we’ll never know unless the girls come out and say it for themselves. So all we can do is wait.)

Suffice to say, a couple weeks ago, I didn’t know if I could ever write another word of Girls’ Generation fanfiction again. But with time comes space to think, and here’s what I decided:

What’s done is done; the only thing we can do as SONEs is move on and continue to support all nine of them with all we have. Because OT9 will always be OT9, even if it seems more like a dream than a reality, more fiction than truth. Because we live off that hope, that belief, that perhaps one day, everything will feel complete once more.

So thank you all: my betas, my commenters, my readers; until next time. Because I’m sure there will be a next time.

Right now, from now on, and forever?

I think so.