SOSHI: The Roads We Have Taken – Chapter 6

August 10, 2014 in moonrise31, SOSHI, The Roads We Have Taken by moonrise31

…Ah, happy hills, ah, pleasing shade,
     Ah, fields belov’d in vain,
Where once my careless childhood stray’d,
     A stranger yet to pain!
I feel the gales, that from ye blow,
A momentary bliss bestow,
     As waving fresh their gladsome wing,
My weary soul they seem to soothe,
And, redolent of joy and youth,
     To breathe a second spring…

Thomas Gray

Chapter 6: In which suspicions are confirmed, deepened, and denied for just a little bit longer.

KIMYOUNGMIN?

Tiffany cleared her throat, breaking the silence. “How’d you figure that out, then, Sunny?”

“We were close before,” the other explained. “You don’t take out every letter of ‘Jung’. Just every other, in order. Like this.” She circled the appropriate letters in the first line.

KJIUMNYGOJUUNNGGMJIUNN?

“Ah.” Tiffany nodded. “Clever.”

“What a dummy,” Jessica muttered under her breath.

“I can ask Amber how to get in touch with him,” Sunny offered. “He should probably be aware that we’re looking for Krystal, in either case.”

Tiffany wrinkled her nose. “But what if he tells us to stop looking for her?”

“He won’t,” Sunny replied confidently.

Jessica raised an eyebrow as she typed. “And why is that?”

Sunny hesitated, belatedly realizing that Taeyeon apparently hadn’t told the others of her relationship to Lee Sooman. Which is great, ’cause it proves that she’s a good friend. But less great, ’cause now I have to be the one to tell them. She groaned inwardly and braced herself for revealing the truth.

“Because she has great faith in Kim Youngmin’s integrity, of course,” Tiffany interrupted brightly, throwing Sunny a wink as she did so.

Okay, Tiffany’s figured it out somehow, anyway. And judging from the other’s nonchalant reaction, Sunny had hope for the rest of SOSHI, whenever the time came for that particular detail to slip out once more. Not that she should’ve worried, anyway; but her being the director’s niece had been what caused her transfer in the first place, so she figured she’d had cause to be concerned. Just, not anymore.

Sunny exhaled a quiet sigh of relief and returned Tiffany’s smile. “And even if he does tell us to stop, I think we can safely say we’d go on regardless.”

Tiffany gave her a thumbs-up in agreement.

If Jessica noticed anything weird about the exchange, she didn’t comment. Instead, she said, “Well, whatever’s gonna happen, it can wait until the morning. You guys still have to check out all those places Krystal took pictures of, anyway.”

“And what about you, Jessi?” Tiffany prodded. “You should get some sleep, too.”

Jessica waved a hand. “Later.”

Tiffany crossed her arms. “If you’re still awake when we get up in the morning…”

“If I am, maybe it’s ’cause I woke up earlier than you,” Jessica suggested.

Tiffany rolled her eyes. “I’m not even gonna dignify that with a response—that’s how unlikely it is to happen.”

Fortunately, when Sunny shuffled into the living room the next morning, Jessica was indeed curled up on the couch and fast asleep. The blinds were drawn, so the only light was the soft glow from her laptop screen.

“What a waste of battery, huh?” Tiffany murmured as she brushed past Sunny. She draped a blanket over the sleeping tech and glanced at the laptop screen briefly before closing the lid. “I hope she saved whatever she had to. Can you even save while hacking?”

“As if I would know,” Sunny snorted softly as she padded into the kitchen area. “Let’s see, do you want cereal, or…cereal?”

“Gee, lemme think about it,” Tiffany deadpanned as she sat down at the counter, but smiled when Sunny set an empty bowl and jug of milk in front of her before settling on the opposite side.

They ate in silence until Sunny’s phone buzzed from its spot on the counter. She tapped at the screen. “Amber just told me where Kim Youngmin is.” She spun the phone so Tiffany could read the address. “So, we can go whenever.”

“Might as well get it over with,” Tiffany decided. “I doubt we’ll need an appointment, what with you being the director’s niece and all.”

Sunny stuck out her tongue. “How’d you figure that out, anyway?”

Tiffany shrugged. “Gossip travels, I guess. I asked Taeyeon about it a couple of weeks ago, and she seemed evasive enough that I figured it was actually the truth. Don’t worry,” she added quickly. “I haven’t talked with the others about it.”

“Thanks.” Sunny grinned. “But you know, they’ll probably find out eventually. I might just enlist you to tell them for me.”

“Yes ma’am, Director’s niece, ma’am.” Tiffany threw a mock salute, and then squeaked when Sunny flicked a piece of cereal at her.

Ten minutes later, the two of them were standing on the curb, Tiffany flagging down a taxi to take them within a block of the building Kim Youngmin was stationed at. Once they arrived, Sunny paid the driver as Tiffany checked her phone.

[8:49 AM] Jessica: Hey, I just had the weirdest dream that you were the director’s niece.

Tiffany held back a snicker as she typed her reply.

[8:50 AM] Tiffany: You wish!

They entered what seemed to be, by all means, a normal office building. A secretary greeted them as they walked in, and Sunny cleared her throat. “Excuse me, I’m Agent Lee Sunny, and this is Agent Hwang Tiffany. We’re here to see Senior Agent Kim Youngmin.”

The secretary blinked only once before asking, “Do you have an appointment?”

“I don’t think we need one,” Sunny informed her. “The issue we’d like to discuss is pretty high on the priorities list.”

The crackling of the intercom on the desk interrupted the secretary before she could argue any further. “Send them up, Irene.”

A few minutes later, they were seated across from Kim Youngmin. Irene closed the office door behind her, and Youngmin laced his fingers together after shaking hands with both of them. “So, how can I help you two?”

Sunny cleared her throat. “We were hoping you knew something about where Agent Jung Krystal has gone.”

Youngmin raised his eyebrows. “I was under the impression SOSHI was investigating something entirely unrelated to the missions of the Function. Have you found some evidence relating the Seoul bombings to Agent Jung’s location?”

“Absolutely none,” Tiffany cut in before Sunny could spin some almost-truth about the subject. “But Krystal—Agent Jung—is a very close friend of ours, so you’ll have to excuse us for being concerned about her wellbeing.”

“Of course.” Youngmin smiled slightly. “I suppose you wouldn’t be our best agents if you didn’t retain a good amount of compassion for your colleagues.” His expression became serious. “But I also hope that you’re not letting this diversion get in the way of your actual investigation. I assure you that Agent Jung has dropped off the grid for very good reasons. You needn’t concern yourselves with her. She’ll be back soon enough.”

Sunny let a beat of silence fall before she smiled, stood up, and bowed. “Thank you for your time, Senior Agent Kim. I assure you that we’re expending our best efforts on both sides of the ocean to catch the bomber—Agent Liu’s computer with the sales records of the Function’s electronics store has been hacked, but our tech is working on it as we speak.”

“That’s good to hear.”

The two of them said goodbye and were out on the street again in a heartbeat. Sunny shook her head, as if to convince herself their brief encounter had been something more substantial than a hallucination.

Once they’d walked ten paces from the building’s entrance, Tiffany let out the breath she’d been holding. “Okay, something was fishy.”

“What do you mean?” Sunny asked. “He obviously knows where Krystal is. And he doesn’t seem particularly concerned, so she probably is just on some super hush-hush mission. Maybe there’s another explanation for why she coded his name into her notes.”

Tiffany just shook her head. “You don’t recognize this building, do you?”

Sunny squinted as Tiffany pulled Krystal’s phone out of her bag. “No…should I?”

“Hm.” Tiffany opened the phone’s photo album and thumbed through the pictures. “Here.”

“Oh.” Sunny’s eyes widened slightly when the photo came into focus on the screen. “I guess it doesn’t make very much sense for her to take a picture of this building, does it?”

Tiffany shook her head grimly. “Not unless Kim Youngmin has something—maybe everything—to do with her disappearance.”

“Oh, shoot.”

Yuri turned at the sudden rustle of papers. Taeyeon had suddenly jerked up, causing several sheets to fly up from the desk surface and flutter slowly to the ground. “What’s up?”

Taeyeon smacked her forehead with an open palm. “I totally forgot to pick up Seohyun.”

“That’s what I’m here for, unnie,” Yoona announced as she skipped into the office.

“It’s not your fault, Taeyeon-unnie,” Seohyun added as she stepped inside. “I purposely didn’t text you. I don’t think you even left the office last night.”

“Am I that predictable?” Taeyeon groaned.

“Oh, you bet. Even I can see that,” Hyoyeon commented as she slipped past the younger SOSHI members, sticking a hand out to feel for the corner of her desk. Then she took two steps back and plopped into her waiting chair. “By the way, I’m not responsible for what Soo’s gonna do to you when she finds out you’ve messed up her workspace.”

“I’ll clean it before she gets here,” Taeyeon grumbled, bending down to collect her scattered papers. “You didn’t pick her up as well, Yoong?”

Yoona shrugged. “She said she’d drive herself today. I wasn’t gonna argue—it’s bad enough with Seohyun backseat driving and Hyoyeon-unnie making route suggestions she really doesn’t have any basis for.”

“How’s the case going, unnie?” Seohyun asked, not looking even a little miffed at Yoona’s jab. Out of the corner of her eye, the doctor noticed Hyoyeon waving off their driver’s casual accusation.

Taeyeon sighed, straightening the stack she’d finished picking up and then setting it down on the desktop. Hands idle once more, she began spinning her pen instead. “A few more pairs of eyes would be great on this one. Yuri got the names of the two people who handled that bundle of money at the bank that exploded, and now we’re both trying to find some sort of connection between either of them and the four victims of the car bombings.”

“Extra copies of all the info here.” Yuri waved a packet in the air without turning around.

Yoona grabbed it and flipped through the pages. “So… In Nosung and Dae Koyu?”

“There doesn’t seem to be any connections with Nosung-sshi so far,” Yuri explained, “but we probably just haven’t looked thoroughly enough. ‘Cause if you think about it, there’s really no way he had no idea what was going on the entire time. Anyway, Dae Koyu seems especially suspicious.”

“Oh? And why’s that?” Hyoyeon spun idly in her chair.

“Because he doesn’t exist,” Taeyeon answered bluntly. She stopped spinning her pen in order to ink a big red “X” through the sheet of Dae Koyu’s information.

“A fake I.D.?” Seohyun asked, looking over Yoona’s shoulder.

“Couldn’t be less real,” Yuri grumbled. “I’m trying to dig up more info on how the I.D. was created, but it’s gonna take a while.”

“I’ll help you look, unnie,” Yoona said, pulling a chair next to Taeyeon.

“Sounds absolutely riveting,” Hyoyeon griped. She stood up. “Seohyun, I’m going with you.”

“Okay.” Seohyun turned, ready to head to her lab. “Taeyeon-unnie? Drop me off at the university after lunch?”

“You got it.” Taeyeon gave her a thumbs-up. Then she turned to Yoona. “I’m gonna give us until Soo gets here before I send you two out to question In Nosung. Normally I’d wait to get something more concrete, especially since he’s probably involved, but we can’t wait around for another bombing to happen.”

Yoona nodded. “You got it, unnie.”

“Okay, Dae Koyu, whoever you are,” the two of them heard the tech mutter. “Kwon Yuri is gonna chase you down. So you better run.”

I need to move, was Sooyoung’s first thought when she found a reporter sitting at the bottom of the stairs leading up to her apartment.

“Agent Choi Sooyoung, with the Special Operations for Seoul Homicide Investigations, correct?”

Sooyoung barely managed to stop herself from rolling her eyes. “And you are…?”

“Kim Heechul, from ‘Bonamana News’,” the reporter introduced himself. “Sooyoung-sshi, I have some questions for you pertaining to the name Kim Kwangsoo blurted in the courtroom the other day, as well as—”

Agent Choi, if you could,” Sooyoung interrupted as politely as she was able. “And I’m not particularly inclined to discuss hearsay from the mouth of a convicted criminal.”

“But Agent Choi,” Heechul insisted, “you’ve got to admit that it’s more than a coincidence that the name Kim Kwangsoo dropped just happens to be your father’s as well.”

Wow. That didn’t take long at all.

Sooyoung had no idea how she kept herself from shaking, but she replied smoothly nonetheless, “Heechul-sshi, don’t you think I would know if my own father was some sort of drug lord?” And then she brushed past him before he could say, yes, and then she would be forced to answer, you’re right.

“Agent Choi, one more thing!”

Sooyoung suppressed a groan and turned around, coming face-to-face with the scrambling reporter once more. “Yes?”

“SOSHI agents were at the scene of the U.S. embassy bombing yesterday,” Heechul began. “May I ask why homicide investigators are concerning themselves with mere engine malfunctions?”

Sooyoung straightened, and although she was several centimeters shorter than Heechul, the look in her eyes made him cower to what seemed well below her height. “These incidents have been happening all over Seoul these past couple of weeks. It doesn’t matter what our name literally means—SOSHI will take any case we’re assigned and solve it to the best of our abilities. If it’s a city-wide concern, you can bet we’ll be there.” She paused. “Is that all, Heechul-sshi?”

She turned on her heel, barely hearing Heechul’s weak affirmation. She walked briskly, if only to drown out the pounding in her ears from her erratic heartbeat.

It had only taken a couple of days for someone to connect her father to what Kim Kwangsoo had said—and then track her down to her own apartment, even. She’d been delaying confrontation for as long as she could, and now she was desperately hoping for a little more time. But the possibilities were looking grim, at best.

She sighed as she unlocked her car and slipped into the driver’s seat, closing her eyes and rubbing her temples. Then she pulled out her phone and opened the group chat she shared with the rest of the SOSHI agents.

[9:03 AM] Sooyoung: Hey, need to get some reporters off my back. Anyone wanna host me for a few days?

…Yet ah! why should they know their fate?
Since sorrow never comes too late,
     And happiness too swiftly flies.
Thought would destroy their paradise.
No more; where ignorance is bliss,

      Is it always folly to be wise?