System Failure

Only the obvious things in life are what they really appear to be. If anything gives you doubt, look at it closer. You might find something interesting.

There was once a time where her life was a mess of one's and zero's - the coding that flickered across a screen in a dark room. There was once a time her life revolved around routine and stayed in the realm of the expected.
There was once a time he thought his days of searching would never end. There was once a time where his only hopes of romance remained from watching from afar.
There was once a time she thought love was stupid and unnecessary - unneeded.
There was a time when his life seemed to be predictable and easy.
But time is unstable and always changing. There may be many things that once were, but that's past tense.
Because that was then,
And this is now.

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4. ("100")

Computers are useless. They can only give you answers.

 

"So, uh... what do you do for work?" Chanyeol asks. Seung magically allowed him to walk with her to the bus stop, but she kept her laundry bag with her when he asked if he could carry it. They hadn't been out that long, but the sky was already dimming. Laundry didn't take that long, except when Seung had to keep rushing off to the bathroom with her computer. When Chanyeol asked, she gave him a stern glare. "It had a virus." She curtly replied. He nodded, going along with it, despite her cold demeanor about the topic.

"Work?" She asks, looking up at him. The tops of his hears turn red when he understands what he said, but she doesn't seem to notice.

"I mean, uh, what do you do in your free time?" He restates, trying to get around the stripper topic. He already pretended he didn't know about it, so don't push his luck.

"What do you do?" She asks back, ignoring his attempt to get to know her. Chanyeol frowns slightly, but looks at the ground so he can see where his feet are going.

"I go to college for Musical Therapy. Recently I've been appointed a project in order to earn my degree." He replies.

"What are you going to do?" She asks. He could tell she wasn't very interested, but he liked how she was trying to fill the silence.

"I'm going to find a subject and study their daily routine. Then, I'll have them describe their feelings while listening to certain types of music, and see how it changes their routine when they listen to it for long periods of time." Chanyeol explains. You could hear the passion in his voice, but he clears his throat and puts his hands in his pockets, glancing at Seung from the corner of his eyes. He couldn't be caught staring; that would be bad. She keep walking with her eyes ahead, avoiding any means of a friendship gesture. Chanyeol clears his throat again.

"I know a quicker way to the bus stop, if you want to try it." He suggests. She glances at him for a moment and stops walking.

"What time is it?" She asks. Chanyeol takes his phone out, but it died a few minutes ago because he forgot to plug it in this morning. He looks up at the sky instead and takes a look at the sun's position.

"Maybe four? My phone's dead, sorry." He replies, stuffing the device back into his pocket. Seung nods and looks around a bit, tightening her grip on her bag's strap.

"Does this shortcut pass by the grocery store?" She asks. 

"I think so."

"Let's go."

Chanyeol widens his eyes and starts to lead her to another street, eventually sneaking behind the buildings and following a few empty alleys. They pop back out on the sidewalk and keep going. Seung expects that to be all, but they keep going until they crossed the street and end up going through another section of alleys. Chanyeol eventually grabbed her free hand to help her when they slip in narrow passages.

"How do you know this way?" Seung asks, getting nervous. This seemed more like he was kidnapping her than taking her somewhere.

"I have a lot of free time and friends." He quickly explains. His ears were turning red again after he grabbed her hand - he didn't know what came over him. He knew she didn't think of it that way, but he surely did.

When they make it back to the street, Seung's trust in Chanyeol unconsciously grows and she breathes in relief. He didn't actually mean her harm; that was a good thing.

But friendship could be dangerous. 

Seung cracks her shoulder and mumbles a thank you before starting to walk to the store. Chanyeol glances around a bit, but then awkwardly followed her in. When she sees him, however, she turns to him fully and he stops walking closer.

"I thought you said you went to college?" She asks.

"There isn't class today." he explains, waiting for some sort of signal to keep following.

"You're sure?"

"Yeah. Every Tuesday."

Seung slowly nods her head and starts to turn around, keeping her eyes on him. Before she takes a step she turns back to him and cocks her head slightly. Chanyeol fights the urge to smile just because he was near her.

"Are you bored?" She asks. Chanyeol opens his mouth to speak, losing the correct words to say.

"Uh... a little. Why?"

"I'm not exactly a first choice to be around. I'm sure your friend is still at the bakery." She comments, turning around this time and heading for the aisles. Chanyeol smiles and tags along with light steps, bending to talk to her as she examines apples at a stand.

"I only had to bring him lunch, otherwise I'm free for the day." He explains, almost like a little kid.

"You don't have anything else to do?" She asks, but her voice held no annoyance. She holds up an apple and inspects it with a blank expression. She acted so cold and indifferent, but Chanyeol knew that there was a heart inside of her somewhere. He only had to find it.

Unfortunately, he takes it as an invitation to do something together, and his smile grows again.

"Nope." He starts to rock on the balls of his feet and Seung moves on to another aisle, looking at boxed muffin mixes and instant meals. He doesn't know this, but Seung thinks of the situation as a last resort, but she isn't offended. It's not the first time she was a back-up plan.

"You need to find something to use your energy." She comments quietly. She picks up a few boxes and Chanyeol is suddenly handing her a basket to place them in. She makes confused eye contact and slowly accepts it, not yet putting the things away. When did he grab this?

"You are flirting with me." She accuses softly, her eyes narrowing slightly. Chanyeol puts his hands up in surrender.

"No no no, I'm not. I'm being polite." He defends. Seung scrutinizes him again and turns her head away from him slightly in an apprehensive gesture. She starts to walk down the aisle again, giving him a few wary glances, then moves on. Chanyeol follows more hesitantly this time.

His plan wasn't going well. Find something to talk about that interests her.

"So, uh, do you like music?" He asks when they turn a corner and she looks at canned soup.

"Depends." She quietly responds.

"Really? What kind?" Chanyeol's voice held a hopeful cord in it. Seung scans the lines of soup, looking for a specific one, but Chanyeol recognizes the label and accidentally grabs it for her. She takes it, rotates it in her hand, and looks at him again. Chanyeol smiles sheepishly in reply.

Seung simply sets the can down in the basket, shakes her head, and takes a few steps down the aisle to look for another kind. She swallows heavily when she thinks about the only music she used to listen to freely.

"A special kind." She whispers to herself, grabbing another can and glaring at it.

"Rap? Techno? Pop?" Chanyeol persistently asks, following her as she walks down the aisle again.

"If you had to put a category to it, then you could say Classical." She curtly replies, in her 'I'm done' tone, the tone that Chanyeol was already caught up on. He falls silent again, yet another plan failing.

"Hey, you never told me about what you did in free time." he reminds her. She glances at him cautiously and sighs.

"I don't do anything exciting." She mumbles, her tone breathy. She was getting quiet again.

"Everyone does something, I mean, I play guitar." Chanyeol objects.

"I don't."

 

Chanyeol insisted to carry the groceries and gave her no chance to object. As they made their way back to the bus stop, darkness already starting to eat at the light of day, Chanyeol led her back through the short cut. He gave a nervous laugh about how he's never really gone through it at dusk, so they should be careful.

He couldn't have been more correct.

They snuck through a tight opening and kept open eyes peeled as their vision decreased with lack of light. The buildings didn't have sources of light or let any in from the sky very well, so they had to walk trepidly.

From the depths of Seung's bag, however, the lab top springs to life with it's usual warning and Seung drops everything. The bag slips from her shoulder and she rushes to snatch the machine from it, hoisting it into the air and pressing her back to a wall. She sits down and pulls her knees up to make a space to place it and opens it up. Chanyeol watches with amazement as she types with vigor, eyes trained perfectly on the screen.

It makes him think about, in elementary school, they were forced to learn how to type quickly without looking at the keyboard. Most of the class cheated and looked anyway, including him, but her eyes weren't even flickering downwards. Her concentration was strong.

"What was that?"

Chanyeol suddenly flattens himself against a wall at the strange voice coming from around a corner. Crap. This is why he didn't go through here at night.

"Seung." he hisses, trying to urge her to finish. She only tilts her face up slightly to acknowledge him, but doesn't make a move to stop anytime soon. Instead, she purses her lips in a silent 'shh' and keeps typing. Thankfully, her keyboard was virtually silent.

"Some phone beep."

"It was close."

There are footsteps and Chanyeol slowly sinks down on the wall. They were out in the open, only hidden by the fading light, but they were obvious.

"Seung." He pleads, sitting scrunched up next to her.

"Play along." She orders, closing her lab top when he starts to lean over to look at it. The alarm had gone off, and it seemed that everything was just fine. She gestures for him to stand up, and the two men appear around the corner at this moment. One stops the other with his arm and points, and they start to walk more diligently.

"Are you kidding me?" Seung suddenly exclaims, like they didn't notice the thugs already. They stop in their tracks to get a better look of what was happening. Seung angrily stuffs her lab top into her bag and leaves it on the ground, pushing Chanyeol into the wall roughly. He falls against it with wide eyes, shocked at first. He's never heard her this loud.

"I-"

"No! You don't get to speak! How dare you have the audacity to come find me again after what you did, and with her of all people!" Seung exclaims, suddenly looking like she was either going to rip his head off, or break out in tears. Chanyeol retaliates and steps off the wall, reaching out to her. Seung slaps his arms away and takes a step back.

"I trusted you! I lied for you! I can't believe I ever though I was in love with you!" She continues, making a sour face. Chanyeol opens his mouth, but she stops him before he could possibly ruin the facade. Seung suddenly chokes on a realistic sob and Chanyeol has to fight the urge to grab her and comfort her, but he had to remind himself that this wasn't real.

Or was she replaying a breakup of her's?

"You say you didn't lose anything important that night, but then what does that make me? I'm not important anymore? Fine. If you have something to say, too bad. You can say it to the air." She grits through her teeth, swinging her bag on her shoulder and storming away, making a small gesture for him to follow. When she hears the sound of trailing footsteps, she breaks into a run to get them away faster. After a few turns, the street welcomes her.

Unfortunately, with a quick look back, Chaneyol wasn't following.

She skids to a stop and a few pedestrains glance at her, but don't pay much attention as she spins to look for the giant that had been shadowing her all day. He may not have meant much to her at the time, but he was friendly enough that she believed he didn't deserve to be left like that. Only, her brain cam come to just one conclusion.

They got to him first.

She straightens her face and secretly wishes she went to the gym that day just to brush up on a few things, but tightens her grip on the strap of her bag as she finds her exit point and slips back into the labyrinth. She stops and listens to distinguish and noises of people apart from the cars and footfalls from the streets. Going in deeper, she finds the point of where her lab top beeped and doesn't see any sign of Chanyeol, or the men.

When she crouches to the ground, however, she can make out scuffled shoe marks in the light layer of dirt, and one miniscule spot of blood. She hoped it was the attacker's.

Getting back up, she narrows her eyes in the darkness and remembers that she's worked in this type of light before. Why is she helping him? Seung shakes her head and recalls the pastry wrapped up in her bag - the gift he gave her. She could return the favor.

It didn't completely even out the virtual score of equality, but she was fine with that. Her scale has been tipped too low for a while anyway. Why not bring it down more? Why not add a bit more to what she's done for others? She didn't care. It didn't matter to her anymore. People did what they wanted, respectful or not.

Seung starts walking down to the corner that they heard the men from originally and can even hear voices from an abandoned building. The door was locked, but she takes her driver's license from the bag's pockets and slips it between the door and the door frame to secure the first lock, then takes a loose bobby pin and stuffs it into the second lock. It appears they used an old door from inside, because all it took was placing the two prongs on either side of the lock system and twisting.

There's a noise of metal moving, and the door knob twists open. It was slightly less dark inside, but the only light was coming from a room down a distant hall, along with the voices. There were a few more guys there, judging by the new voices, but she definitely heard Chanyeol's protests.

It made her blood chill at the fear in his voice. She didn't know what they were doing to him. Oddly enough, though, she didn't feel guilt.

Dropping her bag strap into her hand instead of her shoulder, she slowly stalks closer to the source of light. The hallway was wide open, and various spray paint creations littered the walls. The words written were scribbled and warped so much she couldn't make them out, but graffiti always looked like a drunk toddler's work anyway

The closer she got, the more she could see. Chanyeol was tied to a chair, his eyes wide. A camera was pointed at him, a red light flashing and signaled that it was recording, and the different guys around him looked like they were waiting for something to happen. One goes up behind Chanyeol and squishes his face, asking him a few questions in a low whisper. Chanyeol's eyes widen substantially again and she struggles in his chair more.

Seung makes out the words 'fun' and 'quiet' but she could tell whatever was going to happen would have neither of those in the description. Especially how one man already was starting to undo the buckle to his belt.

Seung walks in at that point, but none of them see her at first until Chanyeol makes eye contact with her. Only then do a few of the guys look up, and the camera man points it in her direction. Her bag hits the ground and the first man is on the floor, her hand moving so fast no one even knew what happened until the crack filled the air.

Their eyes follow their fellow comrade as he hits the ground, blood spurting from his nose, but they snap back up to Seung, waiting for a reaction. The man on the ground was out cold, the others, however, were not.

 

Both Chanyeol and Seung ended up tied to chairs. Despite her fight, Seung only took down three of the five in the group. She punched and kicked them so hard none of those she affected could retaliate after being pummeled. After subduing her, the two who were not unconscious dragged the others out of the room to resume their task at hand.

Fortunately for them, they were bringing their buddies somewhere for help, since most were bleeding from the face. It gave them time. Plus, they were taking the three at one time. That meant the two each had one to themselves, and one between them. They were going to take a while to come back.

Chanyeol remained silent through the entire ordeal of Seung being grabbed form behind and pushed into another chair, the other man quickly tying her arms down and then her feet while she was kicking at them still. As soon as she knew she was down entirely, she stopped like nothing had happened. They left shortly after.

"What did the man say to you?' Seung asks, trying to catch Chanyeol's eye contact. Now she was the one trying to get attention. He looks up and she notices how his face was pale. He takes in a deep, relieved breath and it appears that the world had been lifted off his shoulders.

"I'm so glad you're here but I'm so sorry." He sputters all at once. The color rapidly returns to his face and Seung tilts her head slightly.

"Why?" She asks.

"Well...uh..." Chanyeol looks at the floor again and his eyes fall on the forsaken camera, still recording.

"What did he say?" Seung repeats herself and Chanyeol glances at her with a hint of shame.

"He said...I, uh, I had to help them." He stammers nervously, obviously not liking what he had to say out loud, "They were going to make a gay porno."

Seung leans back in her chair, thinks for a second, and Chanyeol swallows again. He was glad she came to help, but now both of them were stuck here, and the men were coming back. What he least expects, though, is Seung to laugh shortly after and shake her head.

Her laugh sounded fresh and unused - perfect.

"Sdratsab nmad esoht." She snickers, the foreign words rolling off her tongue. Chanyeol stares at her in confusion, waiting for a translation of some sort, but receives none.

She goes blank again, just as fast as she changed before. Chanyeol starts to doubt her sanity for a moment until she looks down at how her legs her tied. The legs of the chair were carved in a wavy pattern. With a few rubs downwards, the rope falls the where it was looser and she slips her shoes off with a small struggle, the blue laces loose. Her socks fall of next and Chanyeol tries to listen and look around while she did something. He already learned that she had more plans than he could ever hope to come up with on short notice.

There was one bed behind them, bare except for the white sheets that covered the entire thing. A bundle of chains were nearby. Chanyeol shivers at the thought of being raped on that. If only Seung knew what would happen if she couldn't get them, or at least herself, free. He knew for a fact that they would tape the two of them getting raped, or force the two of them to do it with each other instead. Either way, she better work fast.

Seung had one bare foot free, her ankle red from rope burn. She gets to work with the other foot, another shoe falling off. Her entire body shook in the chair, which creaked and wobbled under her. It was old and obviously not expected to be used that night. Chanyeol's was metal. He wasn't able to wiggle his ankles free like her, especially since he could barely walk down the street without tripping on his long legs anyway.

With all the grace in the world, and no need for it, Seung loosens her foot and lifts them into the air to stretch. Chanyeol looks at her legs point, and then when she leans forward and is suddenly standing. The chair, tied around her arms, hangs on, but she walks to a wall and spins. The wood breaks apart on contact with old concrete, and she's left with the chair arms attached to her under arms, and a pile of splinters.

She skips freeing her arms and kneels in front of Chanyeol, who was looking at her like she was superman, or wonder woman. It was almost like she had planned this all out beforehand, or she was really quick on her feet. He reminds himself never to go out in the dark unless she was nearby.

With nimble fingers, the rope around his legs goes slack and it pulled free, which Seung suddenly stands and heads for the door. She wraps it several times around and then wraps it around a nail sticking out of the wall. When she frees the other leg, she does the same with another nail a little farther away from the first one. When they went to open the door, it would be held back by something. They were both hoping that it would be worth it.

She goes back to Chanyeol and unties his arms, which he rubs afterwards from rope burns.

"Where's your phone?" She asks, turning around. She starts going through her bag and Chanyeol takes his phone out with a downcast face.

"It's dead, remember?" He reminds her, but she simply plucks it from his hands and takes her lab top over to the recording camera, turning it off. Ripping the back off his phone and sitting down, she produces a USB cable from the bag as well, and a Swiss army knife from her pocket.

"Do you expect to be kidnapped?" Chanyeol exclaims, gaping at her. She spares him one quick glance upwards, then goes back to her work, flipping the knife application. She cuts open the cable's rubber outside and goes through hundreds of smaller, useless wires until she reaches white paper surrounding a plastic casing. After cutting through that, she breaks the green and white wires, keeping the red and black.

Chanyeol watches with interest, feeling like he was getting an electrical lesson that was important for life. What was she doing?

She takes the red and black wires and cuts the safety outside to reach the actual conducting metal inside, bending each three millimeter sized section at 90 degrees. Seung pulls out Chanyeol's battery and places it down on the concrete delicately, holding the device up and inserting the wires inside the phone. Chanyeol only stares with his mouth open.

She opens her lab top and closes out of whatever dark screen she was in, reaching a basic wallpaper. The altered USB drive cable is plugged in and Seung replaces the battery, turning the phone on. It makes a greeting and battery charging noise, to which Chanyeol inches closer to look.

"What did you do?" He asks, but Seung simply types in 911, and the two men start banging on the door.

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