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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9. ("1001")

Computers are magnificent tools for the realization of our dreams, but no machine can replace the human spark of spirit, compassion, love, and understanding.

 

She was trapped, and it was really hot. She could feel the sweat on her body, but some immobile prison held her when she blindly tried to get off her bed. After sleepily reaching where her hands could move, there was a deep groan and the cage gets smaller around her.

Her eyes open to a hard pillow and black hoodie. After several minutes of drowsy cognition, and smelling a pleasant musky scent she couldn't place, she slowly realizes that her bed was lumpy in certain places, and shaped a lot like something familiar

She jerks in the hold and Chanyeol's mouth opens slightly in his sleep. Apparently he was a hard sleeper, because she'd been doing a lot of wiggling and, so far, he still was out. She could feel the heat on her own skin and remembers that she had a fever. It must have broken while she slept, and now everything was too hot.

She moves again and he still doesn't awaken. If anything, his arms get tighter around her and he pulls her closer, snuggling into her shoulder like she was a teddy bear. Her heart rate speeds up in what she suspects to be the strange fear she encountered around him and she goes still, face contorted in panic. What was she supposed to do?

His nose was pressed into the top of her head and he takes a deep breath before going back into calm sleep. Seung's hands were trapped against his chest and she wasn't able to move them well, but she starts to painstakingly slide them down in search for something to smother him with. Her heart rate was going faster by now, signaling something she took as full-blown fear.

Her hands slide down his body, sandwiched between them. In the process of getting free, she shifts her body to let them move without breaking her arms.

Holding her breath, she finds his hands and clasps her fingers around his own, feeling the calloused texture and trying to pry them off from her odd angle. This does nothing to help her and she starts to wiggle and arm free from his grasp. It snaps upwards and dives for the ground, finding a loose pillow and gripping it's fabric edge, sending it in Chanyeol's face.

He makes a noise and releases her, startled. The pillow falls away from his face and he looks around in confusion, sitting up. Seung falls onto the floor with a squeak and narrows her eyes when Chanyeol looks down on her.

"Why are you on the floor?" He asks. She gets to her feet and huffs silently, padding into the kitchen while fanning her face. She was overheating and she couldn't do much about it right now. The sounds of Chanyeol shifting on the couch are heard and he appears in the kitchen beside her, smiling with his hair mussed and his glasses missing.

Seung suddenly has to stop what she started to do and stare in confusion. Why couldn't she seem to want to take her eyes off him? It's not like she hasn't seen him before. With great resistance, she looks away from his intoxicating good morning smile and looks at the items in her hands

Bacon and eggs. She stares at them like they were the most interesting thing and sets them on the counter, getting bowls and pans out, turning the oven on. Chanyeol walks closer and picks up a bowl, carefully looking at the inside for anything wrong and lowering it to look at Seung again. He tilts his head slightly when she doesn't meet his eye.

"Can I help?" He asks hopefully. She seemed much better, to his relief. He felt so hopeless before, but now he was reassured that she was getting better. She swallows and nods her head, giving him the eggs to crack. She gestures to four of them and Chanyeol laughs.

"Are we going to eat that much?" He jokes, but Seung wasn't smiling. She points a finger at him, her, out the door to represent Yoora, and then points her finger at the bedroom. Chanyeol's smile falls when he remembers who was behind the closed door.

 

Chanyeol happily stuffs his face with his breakfast when it was fully cooked, Seung not even eating anything yet. She simply stared at her plate, and would glance at the door every few seconds in concern. Yoora wasn't home yet; this was bad. She felt sick to her stomach.

Gently pushing her plate away, she stands up and Chanyeol looks at her in shock, the food train stopping from entering his already full mouth. When Seung grabs the home phone and dials a number, only for another phone to ring in a distant room, she slams the receiver down and her heart rate accelerates.

"What's wrong?" Chanyeol's voice was muffled by bits of bacon and eggs. He coughs after choking slightly and swallows, drinking from the glass of water Seung gave him earlier.

"Nothing." Seung mumbles, running a hand through her long hair. She starts to pull tangles out and glances down the hallway every few seconds between glances at the door. She moves to the window and stares out of it, shaking her head after a few minutes and returning to her plate.

"Is it your sister?" Chanyeol asks. Seung looks at his concerned gaze, then back at her food. She only makes a slightly disgusted face and stands up again. Seung's face suddenly contorts in realization and she looks out the window again, but stays by the table.

"Yenom eht, tinmad!" She hisses under her breath. Chanyeol perks up at her backwards talk and tries to piece together what she said, but he's already forgotten the first word's sound, much less what it really was.

"Seung, tell me what's wrong. I can help." he insists. Seung turns to look at him with passive aggression in her eyes, but they make eye contact and her heart rate speeds to the supposed fear and it softens in confusion.

"I-I...t'nac uoy, on." She whispers. She had a touch of sadness to her backwards speech that made Chanyeol's heart drop. The food in front of him meant nothing anymore when she spoke. He only wished he knew what she said.

"I don't know what you said, but I am going to help. Is it your sister? Your job? Your father?" Chanyeol questions. He was determined to get an answer for once. Seung looks at the ground and stays silent, "At least eat your food. You need to get better before your problems can be solved."

He's proven when Seung grabs a tissue from a close by tissue box and blows her nose into it loudly.

"I'm not hungry." She mumbles.

"You don't want to eat? Fine, I won't eat either." Chanyeol announces, crossing his arms over his chest and nodding his head. He was acting childish, Seung thinks, yet it didn't annoy her. It...amazed her - the lengths he went through for her.

Was this considered a length? He wanted information so desperately so he acts like this? What was the point? He wanted to help her? He didn't know anything about her.

"Chanyeol." Seung drones, looking down on him with a 'don't do this' look. He only shakes his head and faces away from his breakfast. She sighs and looks away from him.

"You ate enough already." She states. Chanyeol makes a noise in the back of his throat and uncrosses his arms in surprise.

"What? No "that isn't healthy, breakfast is the most important meal of the day?"" He asks, leaning forward in his chair. Seung glances at him and purses her lips.

"No. You already ate a serving. You don't need to gain anymore weight." She replies curtly. Chanyeol's mouth drops and he stands up.

"Say that to my face!" He demands.

"I already did."

"You dare say I'm fat!?" He exclaims. Seung makes a surprised face and leans away.

"That's not what I said."

"You meant it, though!" Chanyeol accuses, pointing at her. Seung raises an eyebrow, "Take it back!"

"I can't take back what I didn't say." She points out. Chanyeol huffs and suddenly pulls off his shirt, tugging it over his head and tossing it on the table. He points to his stomach with a serious face and Seung stares with wide eyes, glancing between his eyes, his chest, and the shirt on the table.

"Look at all this muscle! You dare call me fat?" He asks. Seung puts her hands up in surrender, her heart rate speeding up again. She was seemingly terrified of everything Chanyeol was, apparently.

"N-no."

"Because I'm sexy! I'm a sexy boy!" He continues. Seung shrinks back and Chanyeol's sudden outburst dies almost instantly at the sight of her taking a step back from him. He looks at his mess and suddenly gets red in the face, quickly taking his shirt back up and slipping it on, getting tangled in the fabric.

"Uh..."

"I'm sorry! I don't know what just came over me!" He apologizes profusely while struggling to get his shirt back on. Seung swallows, and the sound of the lock on the door opening cuts through the odd tension at the same time Chanyeol takes step closer to Seung to apologize further. Seung springs up and ends up at the top of the stairs for Yoora to walk in, smiling widely. She looks up and the sisters make eye contact, but Yoora's gaze travels to Chanyeol and her smile gets wicked.

"Did I miss something last night?" She asks. Seung completely dodges the question and follows her sister with her eyes when she hangs her jacket on a hook and comes up the stairs.

"Why are you late? I thought something happened to you." Seung worries quietly, trying to keep in mind that Chanyeol was behind her now, practically breathing down her neck.

"I had a little more fun than normal. Turns out we were wrong, Kai isn't just a strange dude." She smirks and Seung makes a wide-eyed look.

"You were with Kai?" Chanyeol asks, getting interested.

"Define with."

Chanyeol starts to speak, then suddenly starts laughing uncontrollably. Yoora looks at Seung, who returns the concerned look, and Chanyeol starts to calm down.

"I... oh gosh...I'm sorry. It's just, This same conversation kind of happened before. You're so much like him." He finally explains, calming his random giggles that squeezed in between his words. The sisters blink, mostly Seung, before responding.

"That actually makes sense." Seung says before her sister can speak. Yoora looks at Seung, who drops the conversation and walks into the kitchen.

"What do you mean it makes sense?" Yoora asks. Seung holds a plate out for her when she follows.

"Did you have breakfast?" She asks.

"Yeah, that short squishy dude that was here yesterday made everyone breakfast with his girlfriend." 

The plate is set on the counter and Seung stares at her sister.

"You went to the house?" Chanyeol asks for her. He leans a hand on the counter and Seung stares at the ground, suddenly not liking having both of them in the same room with her. Having him over made her feel cautious about her secret room.

Her eyes go wide. She doesn't remember locking it, much less actually closing the door!

Without explanation, Seung darts between the two of them and down the hall.

"Seung?" Chanyeol asks. She hopes he doesn't follow.

"Chanyeol, Do you want my breakfast?" Yoora tries to distract him. She knew Seung didn't like anyone near her secret room. Yoora didn't even know what was in there, but she didn't ask either.

"Where did she go?"

Seung reaches the room and closes the door behind her, looking at the white text against the black screen - her firewall was still stable. No one tracked her while she slept. Reading the conversation of the chat room, she breathes in relief,

CHEN: Did you die? 

CHEN: Don't make me break the fire wall you most likely have up to save your sorry ass.

CHEN: Still not home?

CHEN: I'm leaving the chat. Get back to me if you're still alive.

Seung closes the chat room and puts her lap top away, turning her computers off and leaving the room. By the time she closes the door and locks it, hiding the key, Chanyeol was being chased around the room by Yoora with hair gel in her hands.

"Help! She's trying to ruin my hair!" He cries, dashing around the coffee table when Yoora pounces.

"What do you mean ruin? It's already bad!" She loudly replies. Chanyeol makes an offended noise and ducks behind Seung, who only stares in the distance as the two children run in circles around her. Her eyes narrow and she suddenly sticks out an arm. It catches Yoora and holds her back as Chanyeol skids to a stop and runs into the kitchen.

"If he doesn't want to change his style, don't make him." Seung scolds. Yoora rolls her eyes and replaces the cover on the hair gel with a pouty face.

"Fine."

"I'm going out." Seung announces. Chanyeol reappears in the room with a concerned face.

"But you've only rested for half a day. What if you get sick again?" He asks.

"Then I'll come back. I won't die, I promise." She states, awkwardly patting his shoulder. He follows her anyway when she goes into her room. Yoora trails along with them to watch the show.

His eyes take in every detail of the room. It said so much about her character. It was tidy, for one thing, and only held absolute things. There was one poster on the wall - a collage of puppies - but the room itself didn't look used very much. One dresser, one small bookcase, and a bed were all that filled the space.

Once Seung notices that the party moved into her room, she scowls and tries to push Chanyeol out. Yoora pushes him forward and they end up tumbling into the room, much to Seung's dismay.

The walls were a pale orange, like it was supposed to be a happy room, but it actually gave off a sad vibe rather than a fun one. It made Chanyeol's smile fade very slowly as he looked around. He feels hands on his chest and looks down to see Seung pushing on him.

"I'm changing!" She hisses. Yoora blocks the door with a smirk when Chanyeol gets spun around and pushed towards the door, but the smaller female can't get him any further because of her.

"Where are you going?" Yoora asks. Chanyeol was slowly getting pale from the tension he was being placed in the center of.

"None of your concern." Seung assures when she releases Chanyeol. Yoora raises an eyebrow and leans against the door frame.

"Maybe it does." She comments, looking at her manicured nails.

"Money, Yoora. I'm getting the stuff you use to eat with." Seung growls. She grabs a shirt from her drawer and a pair of jeans, pushing Yoora out of the way and shoving Chanyeol out of the room as fast as she can, changing behind the door like they were about to barge in again. After fixing up her hair into a pony tail, she reappears and sees that the two of them were still outside her door.

With a huff, she walks past them and starts to go down the stairs to get her shoes on.

"Wait, you haven't eaten anything yet!" Chanyeol calls after her. When Seung opens the door, she narrows her eyes at the thick blizzard that was raging outside, grabbing her coat from the closet.

"How about a dare? If I can-"

"No! None of you can come with me, okay? You can't. I-I...You just can't." Seung suddenly blurts. She softens her words after seeing their shocked faces. She's about to leave and close the door behind her, but she peaks back in with a quick "No sex."

"I wouldn't with anyone else, anyway." Chanyeol whispers after the door closes to save heat and she completely leaves without warning.

 

It was cold, but it didn't matter to her. She had a purpose that was separate from her own desires. She had responsibilities to fill, like her family's hunger and slipping sanity. She knew what went behind her father's eyes when he wasn't drunk. The fake world the liquor made always faded until another cup was to his lips. His alcohol kept him sane enough to live without grief. It was all she cared about. A happy father was a live father, no matter how out of it and dependent he was.

It was her goal. She had to keep the family together. The death of one person usually doesn't make the family break, but this time it almost did. Yoora lost confidence in herself, dad couldn't find motivation anymore, Seung's progress in school dived. They struggled to keep going any longer, each resolving to different methods.

Yoora found ways to feel attractive. Their father found solace in a false conscious, Seung took up an emotionless world and task. It was satisfying to destroy what others built to destroy. When the rest of the family didn't try to hold them together, Seung took a stand.

The cold wind sends a flurry of snow into Seung's face and she tucks her fingers into her pocket for warmth. The journey wasn't too far off, but oddly placed just enough to seem irrelevant to finding her. She waited long enough where they either took the money back, or took away any guards watching for her. Maybe, or they were still waiting. She would have to be careful.

She turns the corner and heads down the snow-covered street. The usually casual pedestrians ran in directions blindly, covering their faces as they tried to get to their destinations. Some had bare heads, most had hats. Seung's only protection was a fur-lined hood that blocked her vision most of the time, which is why she wasn't using it right now. The coat provided enough warmth, especially since she could still feel the after effects of the fever. She never got to getting the sweat off. It sort of just evaporated and left a salty feeling to her skin.

She ducks into a store and is enveloped by it's warmth. It causes a satisfied shiver to run through her body and she closes the door behind her before it can completely disappear. She turns to look at her designated drop off zone in the thrift store. 

Seung pretends to be busy and goes to a rack of shirts and starts looking at some of them. A few were plain t-shirts and she contemplates actually buying them, but she pulls a few of the frilly blouses and goes to the mostly empty dressing rooms. Finding the fourth one, she slips inside like it's nothing too big and instantly hooks the hangers on the metal hook and ducks down to feel the bottom of the chair that was in the small room. She finds an envelope and pulls it out, checking the money inside.

Bills; Her requested medium. She nods and tucks it into her pocket for later, trying the shirts on. Yoora was the same size as her. She chooses the one with the largest neckline and buys it at the front, pulling her coat back on and trudging back through the snow once more.

 

Chanyeol places a piece of cold bacon into his mouth as Yoora chats casually with him.

"Sehun's gay? Wow, I wouldn't have thought of that." She replies, playing with a loose thread in her fingers.

"Suho doesn't know what to do with us anymore. I think he's just done." Chanyeol snickers, an elbow propping him up on the table.

"He's like a father figure? Doesn't Suho mean guardian?" Yoora asks. Chanyeol nods.

"His real name is Junmyeon, but he choose Suho when we all moved in together. I'm not sure why, exactly." He states. Chanyeol drops the bacon in his hands and sits up straight, "Why is it I can talk to you, but your sister is so closed up?" 

Yoora purses her lips and looks at the thread again, "It's a long story."

"I'm listening, if you want to explain." Chanyeol offers. Yoora smiles and gives a small laugh.

"I'm sure you would, but it's not my duty to tell you. I'll let you in on a secret, but you need to tell me something first." She bargains. Chanyeol leans in from across the table to listen.

"What?"

"Do you like my sister?"

"Yes."

"You don't even have a hesitation? Wow." Yoora remarks.

"To be truthful, I've liked her for a long time, before she even knew my name. I literally could tell you the contents of her dresser." He admits, not one ounce of shame in his voice. Yoora snickers.

"Ah, it's that kind of relationship. Have fun with that one." She chuckles, breaking the thread into two pieces.

"What secret are you going to tell me?" He asks, getting even more interested.

"Okay, a deal's a deal. You've been around Seung for some time. I'm sure you've heard the backwards talking and the closed conversations when you know you've gone too far. All of us dealt with a major event in different ways, but she took it the hardest. I won't tell you what it was, but Seung completely closed up afterwards. She doesn't trust people with her emotions, and I think it's because she's scared of being hurt once they leave her." Yoora confesses.

"I wouldn't hurt her." Chanyeol assures. Yoora scoffs.

"I know this, dummy. I've seen the way you look at her. What I'm trying to say is this: You're the only guy I've seen her actually let inside the house - sickness or not. You may only be partially friends, mostly acquaintances in her eyes, but I think something else is turning in that robotic heart of her's." She adds, rolling the string in her fingers until it turns into a small ball. Chanyeol's eyes brighten and his creepy smile makes an appearance, which makes Yoora laugh.

"I'm sorry, you two could be so alike. Before the event, she was a lot like you right now." She giggles. Chanyeol's mouth drops and he looked sad.

"How so?"

"She laughed so much, made jokes, her laugh was so adorable too! She snorted most of the time." Yoora stares at the far wall in remembrance.

"I know you said you wouldn't tell me, but give me a clue as to what happened." Chanyeol pleads. Yoora's about to open her mouth to decline when the sound of a door opening makes them look to see who was coming into the room.

"Hyun Ae?"

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