when you say to a thief three words

February 6, 2014 in one-shot, superricelol by superRiCElol

From when a child is little, they may learn that “stealing is bad.” It’s bad, bad, bad, because someone might’ve wanted what was stolen. What if the stolen was a memory, something that lay close to the heart, something that was supposed to be unforgettable? Well, it’d be gone.

But Yoona stole anyway.

She reached up and snatched the thoughts right out of people’s minds; pulled out terrible memories people didn’t want to remember. She crept up behind people and took their habits right from their back pockets; took the shortcomings she knew people hated and belittled themselves with.

She stole, putting those bad memories in the worn pockets of her jacket, hoping the holes weren’t too big yet. She stole, keeping the shortcomings in her bag, hoping the strap would hang in there another day and wouldn’t snap – because then her loot would spill, free for people to take. And she didn’t want that.

Sometimes when her timing was right, she would steal the words right out of people’s mouths – all the hateful, spiteful words, the condescending words, the ignorant hurtful words – all of them.

She liked it when her timing was right.

Sometimes she wondered what would happen if she stole stuff people would notice missing, like a wristwatch or an old, old ring. Or if she stole the heartfelt memories right from someone’s heart. But since people noticed when those things went missing (which was curious because no one ever caught her when she stole baddies), Yoona decided to stick to stealing what she could.

Too bad hateful words or nightmare memories couldn’t pay for food or a place to stay – if anything, they’d get her thrown out the store or the police called on her. So in what free time she had (because stealing baddies was a full-time job, of course), she helped at the orphanage or the animal shelters – though mainly the orphanage, because the matron often gave her something to eat as if she were one of the kids.

Even though the sun shone as strong as it ever did, Yoona had to tug at the low collar of her jacket, hoping to ward away the biting cold (which wasn’t very effective, since there was a long tear in the front). Her bag felt a bit light, too; not enough baddies were stolen today, so she’d have to make that up tomorrow. But for now, she felt pretty good about her day, almost wanting to spread her arms out and dance in circles (though she did do so on weekends when there weren’t as many people at the park on the way to the orphanage).

As she looked up to the sky to breathe in deeply, an odd thump followed by a shrill shriek had her curiosity piqued.

“Hey, stop!”

A brief moment of panic went through her, because she’d always dreaded those words when she walked away from her theft victims. But when she saw a stranger man tearing down the sidewalk, she was a bit relieved.

A running thief (who didn’t steal baddies like she did, so therefore they weren’t friends) was easy to deal with.

Yoona watched him run for a bit as he shoved aside people and weaved around others. Not bad at all, but much too frantic and panicked to be experienced. She watched him as he dashed right passed her, intent on turning the corner into what she knew was a fenced alleyway. The feeling of victory was obvious, telltale in his slowing speed as well. He knew he had won, had successfully gotten away with his snatch and run; all he had to do was jump the fence to safety. Yoona watched him, watched his feet as his left foot lifted to make a right turn.

And then she plucked his balance right from under his feet.

Foot.

Since technically, he was balanced on one foot.

A cheeky grin spread on her face as she watched the guy flail helplessly on the ground, panic in his eyes and confusion in his muscle movement. The way he tensed when his pursuer caught up was laughable at best, and Yoona gave his balance back to him only after the victim took her bag back. As he scrambled up and away, she made sure to snatch away his tendency to steal, stuffing the loot in her bag.

“Thank you so much, miss. Is there any way I can repay you?”

Yoona thought for a moment, humming for an idea as she took in the lady in front of her.

And she was quite the lady.

Standing a bit shorter than her but with the confident poise of a giant, the blonde stared back at her, keen eyes and pursed lips waiting patiently for her answer.

Yoona grinned again, satisfied with another plunder to add to her day’s quota – courtesy of this lady. It was already enough.

“Nope, just be more careful and don’t get snatched from again, okay?”

“No,” the lady shook her head, looking a bit more like a girl than the confident woman she was just a moment ago. “That’s not going to do. Can I at least buy you a late lunch or early dinner?”

Food got her thinking, but there was still the orphanage to go to. And unless she told the matron she would be going to the shelter, Yoona never missed a day.

But… it was food.

Maybe she could share whatever good food she got with the kids.

But… that would violate the goodwill this lady offered, and was like insulting her gift.

And she didn’t want to spend this lady’s money for something so trivial as stealing a man’s balance. Why should she be rewarded for stealing, when stealing was bad?

“Um… I actually need to attend to other business. Maybe if we see each other again?” Yoona only offered this, because she knew they wouldn’t meet again.

“Deal. I’m Jessica, and you are…?”

A dirty thief.

“Yoona.” Reluctant, to shake Jessica’s hand – with her hand that stole from people. Bad, bad, bad.

“Nice to meet you, Yoona. And I’m holding you to that deal, okay? It’s a promise.”

First a deal, now a promise? It couldn’t be any worse for her; Yoona hated breaking promises.

Which was why she had to hurry to the orphanage, lest she break that promise.

But the matron hadn’t gotten mad at her, and still gave her something to eat for dinner. And after Yoona had played with the children and helped tuck them all into bed, she also retired to her little corner, settling her bag in front of her.

It was routine to go through her day’s plunder, methodically and meticulously separating the loot into groups. And when Yoona was done separating them, she would take one from each group and work through them – because some of them weren’t as good. Some of them were on the bitter side, some of them on the hard and cold side.

None of them were ever sweet, or soft and warm.

When she’d gotten through all of them, Yoona would curl up in her corner, feeling like she always did after eating dinner and playing with happy, happy children.

Tired.

But as she folded up her emptied-out bag to settle her head on it, a curious lump in the coarse fabric made her pause.

What’s this?

Yoona pulled it out, fingers awkwardly fumbling in the dark. This mystery thing didn’t feel like an insecurity or a bad nightmare.

It felt like a heart.

When she held up her hand to the feeble bit of moonlight in the corner, she confirmed that it was indeed a heart. But she didn’t steal hearts. How did it get in her bag? Confused and guilty, Yoona folded up her bag again and curled up, heart cradled in her chest.

She would find its owner.

That was a bit of a difficult task. Yoona never remembered the faces of the people she stole from, nor did she want to for fear of the guilt that came with stealing from another life; something with a face, a face that greeted friends and family, a face that had shortcomings and insecurities, a face that had strengths and ambitions and goals.

This heart wasn’t hers, though. She knew it wasn’t.

But whose?

The sun shone brightly, told her to cheer up even as the cold air tore into her jacket – give it up, toss it somewhere and go; you have a job to do.

“Oh hey, Yoona!”

She turned, and while she’d been so sure they wouldn’t meet again (because she never saw a familiar face ever again), here was Jessica, standing right in front of her.

“How have you been?”

Human interaction – how to interact with this nice and pretty lady, how?

“Uh… pretty la- okay. Pretty okay. You?”

“Not too good,” came the reply, and Yoona could feel a violent surge of guilt near her chest, where the heart was, tucked in her jacket pocket.

“Why?”

Jessica’s smile was cheeky, and Yoona’s panic of how to interact?! flared up as the lady took her hand.

“Because I haven’t paid you back yet.”

That wouldn’t do. That wouldn’t do at all.

“And what if I don’t want to be paid back?”

“Then I’ll just treat you.” The glint in her eyes was so terrifyingly piercing that even with all her years of enduring and resisting the matron’s scary gaze, Yoona’s knees shook a bit.

Just a bit.

Jessica should also let go of her hand. But when she didn’t, all Yoona could do was let herself be led, thinking that she should probably cut her nails properly and get all the dirt and grime out from them. Jessica should stop holding her hand, the bad, bad hand that stole things from people.

It was a bit awkward, being taken to a nice cafe or a restaurant and not knowing what to do. The prices seemed too high, the food too little for their worth, and her table manners all but nonexistent save for the little bit of etiquette that the matron instilled in her (through fear, of course).

Yet Jessica did this every day of the week, sometimes just watching her instead of eating. But what baffled Yoona the most was how Jessica seemed to be able to find her no matter where she was. Sometimes Yoona was in the park (on the weekends when she can twirl around without a care), sometimes on her normal theft run.

On the rare occasion, they would do other things after lunch. Once, they’d gone to the movies. Another time, Jessica had taken her shopping to get her a new jacket and a new bag.

Yoona’s favourite times were when they would sit at the park or by the river or just about anywhere else and just sit. Sometimes they would talk, sometimes Jessica would play with her hand, sometimes they would lie down on the grass and trace cloud shapes.

Once, Jessica had kissed her cheek before they parted ways, and that day, Yoona hadn’t needed a secluded park to spread her arms wide and spin around.

It got to where Yoona forgot all about returning the mystery heart or looking for its owner. And when she remembered it, it was then that she wished she had the ability to find this person like Jessica could find her. Forget being able to steal from people, she just wanted to return the poor thing to its owner.

Maybe she should ask Jessica for pointers.

“Sica?”

“Hmm?”

“I have a hypothetical situation.”

“Shoot.”

“If I find something and I don’t know how I got it, how do I go about returning it to its owner?”

Jessica looked up at her, chin resting on her palm.

“You mean returning something lost?”

“Ye-… yeah.”

Yoona couldn’t maintain eye contact, her heart panicking with the idea that Jessica saw right through her and knew that she was a bad, bad, dirty kid who stole from tens of people every day. It was frightening, how erratically and unevenly her heart was beating, sometimes skipping beats and sometimes doubling in beats.

Jessica smiled.

“I would follow my heart.”

And it clicked.

Wide-eyed. Panicked. In awe. Yoona reached into her jacket and pulled the heart out of her pocket, nestling it in both of her hands as the little thing rapidly beat in her palms. Ready to return the poor, kidnapped thing to its owner.

“Then… this little one belongs to its rightful owner,” she said.

Jessica’s smile turned smug, content, and her eyes took on that keen cheekiness that never failed to make her knees shake. Yoona didn’t know it was possible to have such a wonderful thing in her hands without having to steal it, but it was; something uniquely Jessica.

“It already does. It’s for you.”

And… and it was hers.

Maybe, Jessica is the real thief.

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stealing is bad don’t do it swiper no swiping