SOSHI: The Roads We Have Taken – Chapter 8

August 24, 2014 in moonrise31, SOSHI, The Roads We Have Taken by moonrise31

…For I have known them all already, known them all:
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
So how should I presume?

T.S. Eliot

Chapter 8: In which improbabilities are discovered, answers are accessed, and blood runs thicker than all else.

“Hey, maknae,” Sooyoung called as she stepped into the lab. “How’s it going?”

Seohyun hummed, tapping her chin as she stared at her computer screen. Then she turned to Sooyoung. “What brings you down here, unnie?”

“What, I can’t just visit to see how you’re doing?” Sooyoung teased. She held up her hands at Seohyun’s deadpan expression. “Okay, okay. Yuri’s still a bit distraught from her…run-in with Sica yesterday, so I figured I’d go and see how the dental records were coming along.”

Seohyun nodded. “How’s living with Hyoyeon-unnie so far?”

“Not bad.” Sooyoung shrugged. “Her place is surprisingly neat, but I guess that should’ve been a given anyway.” She leaned over in an attempt to read over Seohyun’s shoulder. “So, you haven’t answered my question yet.”

Seohyun quickly minimized the window and turned, blocking the other’s view. “Technically, you haven’t asked, unnie.” She cleared her throat. “The tests are in, but they’re really preliminary. I’m thinking of running my own, just to double-check.”

Sooyoung frowned and opened her mouth, ready to force Seohyun aside so she could see the results for herself, but then her phone rang. Sighing, she pulled it out and read the caller ID. “Excuse me for a moment. But don’t think you’re off the hook or anything.” She pointed a threatening finger at the doctor before stepping out into the hallway. “Hello? Dad?”

“Hey there, sweetie. I hope I’m not interrupting work or anything.”

“The day’s just started,” Sooyoung assured him. “Is something the matter?”

She could imagine her dad already waving off her impending concern before she’d finished. “No, no. It’s just, your mother stopped by your apartment last night to drop off some food, and you weren’t home. I told her you were probably just working late, but she was so worried she insisted I call you in the morning just to make sure.”

“Oh, that.” Sooyoung laughed in what she hoped was a convincing manner. But her stomach was twisting, her breathing suddenly hard to steady. “Yeah, just some work stuff. I’m staying over at Hyoyeon’s for a while, actually. And I might not be able to make it to our weekend dinners for the next week or two.”

“Ah. The case is that important, huh?” Jeongnam asked, perfectly casual.

“Yeah, it’s pretty important,” Sooyoung agreed, the memory of the reporter at her doorstep nagging with a persistence that refused to be ignored. Finally, she took a deep breath and said, “By the way, if reporters…chase you guys down, or something, you’re not obligated to answer anything, okay? Just tell them to go away. Or even better, avoid them before they can catch up to you.” She could only wince at the thought of an article reporting that “Jeongam has declined to comment”. That certainly wouldn’t look very good. In fact, she’d probably already caused enough damage with her reaction to Heechul’s questions.

She could deal with some bad press, though. Her family, on the other hand…

“Is something the matter?” Her dad asked softly. “Are you alright?”

And in that brief moment, Sooyoung felt the world fall away, leaving a space behind where she wasn’t an agent obligated to fight for justice above all else, and her dad was just her dad—nothing more, nothing less.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” She exhaled slowly. “Just…just stay safe, okay?”

“You got it,” her dad promised. “You’re sure you’re alright? Are you being overworked?” He paused, and then added, “Did something happen in court again?”

Sooyoung froze. Of course, it was inevitable that she’d tell her family what had happened all those months ago on the witness stand, even if there was no way she’d reveal that her own father had been the cause. But the way he’d asked that last question—that thoughtful pause, the searching tone—how could he possibly know?

“I’m fine,” she assured him. “I’m fine,” she said again—to assure herself, this time.

“Alright then.” His voice fell into its usual affectionate timbre. “Our little hero’s going off to do even more amazing things, huh?”

Sooyoung’s chest clenched at the nickname that seemed to be from forever ago. If you knew what I’m struggling to figure out right now, would you say the same? But even as this thought crossed her mind, something more resolute warmed her stomach. And she felt so guilty for feeling this way; but with every fiber of her being, she knew one thing was true.

“You’re my hero, Dad,” she replied, so softly she wasn’t so sure she’d even said it out loud. “Bye,” she added, quickly, and then hung up.

She stood in the hallway for a few minutes, waiting for her heartbeat to settle. When she walked back into the lab, Seohyun was frowning intensely at her computer screen.

“So.” Sooyoung cleared her throat. “What’re these questionable results that seem to have stumped even our brilliant doctor?”

Seohyun’s frown deepened. “It’s not so much ‘questionable’ as it is…”

Taking advantage of the other’s distractedness, Sooyoung shuffled closer managed to catch a glimpse of the screen. She raised her eyebrows and leaned in, squinting. “How about ‘unlikely’? ‘Improbable’? ‘Impossible’?”

“Not ‘impossible’,” Seohyun corrected absentmindedly, “because it’s clearly happened. It’s just…I’ll run a more thorough check later, but the results don’t seem to be mistaken.”

Sooyoung just nodded, silent, and the two continued to stare numbly at the victim file from the U.S. embassy bombing on the screen, with the name “IN NOSUNG” printed at the very top.

It had taken them most of the day to come up with a conceivable plan for invading the building where they’d met Senior Agent Kim Youngmin—and also where they hoped Krystal would be. It had taken Jessica only an hour to access blueprints, but actually getting inside was another story.

“So, let’s go over this one more time,” Tiffany said after Jessica had parked their rental car two blocks from their destination. “I’ll go through the back, because in all likelihood Krystal will be in the basement somewhere. If I haven’t found her after ten minutes, Sunny will come in through the front and make Irene take her to Krystal, regardless of whether Kim Youngmin will be alerted or not.”

“And he will be,” Sunny grumbled.

“It’s fine. We just need to find her before he gets to us,” Jessica reminded her. “And then he’ll have a lot of explaining to do.” She turned to Tiffany. “And don’t forget—I’m going with you.”

Tiffany sighed. “For the last time, Jessi, you should stay out here as monitor. That’s what you would usually do, right?”

“Well, we don’t usually plan to break into our own organization’s base to rescue my sister from her boss’s boss,” Jessica retorted. “Sunny’s part is straightforward, so she won’t need backup. It’s you we have to look out for. And do I even need to say that it’s my sister we’re trying to get back—”

“Alright, alright.” Tiffany patted the tech’s shoulder. “You’re coming. Happy?”

Jessica huffed and stepped out of the car.

The two used a few precious minutes to walk down the two blocks and sneak around the building, taking advantage of the darkening evening and several blind spots to hide them from the cameras perched above.

“What about the one up there?” Tiffany hissed, jerking her head in the direction of the camera aimed at the back door.

“Do you really have so little faith in me?” Jessica rolled her eyes and pulled out a tablet from her messenger bag. She quickly tapped the screen, and moments later, she motioned Tiffany forward. “I’m looping footage of an empty frame for the next thirty seconds. Get ready.”

The door was locked with an electronic keypad, but Jessica retrieved yet another device from her bag. She quickly connected wires and pressed buttons, the screen of the device blinking on and scrolling through digits in rapid succession. Tiffany counted fourteen tense seconds before a series of numbers settled on the screen. Jessica tapped the combination into the keypad, and the door clicked. Tiffany stepped forward to grab the handle, but Jessica stopped her. “Hold on. Looping footage for the cameras once we get in.” That took another fourteen seconds, so Tiffany breathed a sigh of relief when Jessica finally motioned for her to open the door.

They slipped inside.

“Thirty seconds,” Jessica reminded Tiffany, pulling her tablet out again. “She could be in any of the rooms further down this hallway. No cameras in any of them, but there’re windows in the doors we can peek into.”

Tiffany read the labels on the doors they passed.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY CASE FILES
1999-2000

LOS ANGELES COUNTY CASE FILES
2000-2001

LOS ANGELES COUNTY CASE FILES
2001-2002

She paused in front of the next door.

LOS ANGELES COUNTY CASE FILES
2002-2003

“Fany,” Jessica hissed. “What’re you doing?”

“Five minutes ’til Sunny comes in, right?” Tiffany put a hand on the doorknob. “If you could loop an empty frame for any cameras in this room for as long as possible, I’d appreciate it.”

Tiffany.” Jessica’s voice was strained, but her fingers skimmed across the tablet surface. She stepped inside after the agent. “You have two minutes.”

“Thanks.” Tiffany turned to give her a small smile, and then strode down the thin aisle between shelves and shelves of boxes and files. She glanced at the label on the side of each shelf, and then turning right once she was eight shelves from the entrance. Jessica followed wordlessly after, glancing at the label of the shelf Tiffany had selected.

DIAMOND BAR

She exhaled softly, noting that Tiffany had finally stopped in front of a box. The latter opened the lid and began shifting its contents around.

Jessica checked her tablet and narrowed her eyes. Moments later, she thrust the device in front of Tiffany, who had just retrieved a flash drive from the box. “Here, I got you two more minutes. Just copy the files onto that and then we’ll leave, got it?”

Tiffany smiled weakly. “Thanks, Jessi.”

Jessica rolled her eyes and leaned against the shelf, arms crossed. “Well, you’re helping me get Krystal back and everything. It’s the least I could do.”

“Even then.” Tiffany’s smile became a little wider, a little stronger. “Thank you.”

“Ten minutes,” Sunny announced to the empty car after she’d checked her watch. “Of course.” She sighed and opened the door, pulling Jessica’s keys out of her pocket. “It’s like they want to get caught.”

She stopped talking to herself as she walked towards the building, if only to keep up appearances—although there were very few other pedestrians out on the quiet street. Once Sunny entered the building, she gave the secretary a smile. “Good evening, Irene-sshi. Working late?”

Irene blinked at her. “Agent Lee? Are you here for another meeting with Senior Agent Kim?”

“Not quite.” Sunny stopped in front of the desk. “I was actually wondering if you could take me to wherever Agent Jung Krystal is being kept.”

To her credit, Irene didn’t flinch. “I’m not sure what you mean.”

“I’m sure you do,” Sunny replied smoothly. “No need to let the senior agent in on this, either.” She glanced down, watching as Irene’s finger delicately lifted from the “call” button on the intercom. “But I guess it’s too late for that.

“We still have a minute before he gets down, though,” Sunny continued brightly, more for Jessica and Tiffany’s benefit, since she knew they were listening through their own earpieces somewhere in the basement of the building, hopefully. “And my other teammates are already downstairs. They’ll find her soon anyway, so you might as well bring me to her now so we’ll have the whole crew together when Senior Agent Kim comes around.”

Irene shrugged and got up. “Right this way.”

She led Sunny down a flight of stairs and through several hallways, stopping in front of a door just as Jessica and Tiffany rounded the corner.

“In there?” Jessica demanded, but didn’t wait for an answer. Sunny and Irene barely had time to step back before Jessica stormed in front of them. She took one glance through the small window and grabbed the handle, slamming the door open. “Soojung.”

Sunny stepped inside as Jessica rushed forward to crouch in front of her sister. Krystal sat in the middle of the otherwise bare room, each wrist cuffed to a metal arm of the chair she was seated on. There weren’t any visible cuts or bruises, which let Sunny relax just the slightest bit; but the pure exhaustion in the bags under Krystal’s eyes, in the way her head hung low, hair tumbling messily over her face and shoulders, made Sunny tighten her fists again.

“What did he do to her?” Tiffany whispered.

Krystal’s eyes flickered open when she felt Jessica’s hand tenderly brush a strand of hair from her face. “…Unnie?”

“Hey,” Jessica greeted softly. “I’m here.”

Krystal sat up a little straighter, tugging halfheartedly at the manacles binding her wrists. “Did…so he’s…”

“What is the meaning of this?”

The three SOSHI agents turned to meet a glowering Kim Youngmin looming in the doorway. Jessica glanced back at her sister, who had lowered her head again and was attempting to shrink further into her chair.

Jessica’s jaw clenched.

Before her friends could react, the tech had stalked across the room and right up to the senior agent. She reached out and grabbed his collar. With a sudden burst of strength, Jessica tugged him forward and then forced his back into the wall behind him. Then she pulled him down until they were nose-to-nose.

What,” she murmured lowly, eyes ablaze, “did you do to my sister?”

…I have seen them ride seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown

When those voices wake us, do we drown?