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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3. ("11")

Computers would deserve to be called inteligent if they could decieve a human into thinking it was human.

 

Her muscles were sore, but the beeping of her alarm clock was enough to pull her on her feet. She had things to do; there was no time to waste.

She already had meals planned out. Yoora was taking her new medication and said she felt better. Maybe it was because her baby sister looked so beat up from the night before she finally took pity on her.

Truthfully, Seung believed it was because Matrix got more action than Yoora's character did, and every day she wasn't there fueled jealousy. It made her heal faster, that's for sure. Determination may be the world's best medicine.

Seung breathes through her nose and blinks at her ceiling, her eyes fuzzy and smarting. She was trying to track a recently viral virus that had been getting through emails and burning people's hard drives without warning. Entire systems have shut down and all memory lost because of this problem. She planned to find the source and try to slow it down by reading detailed instructions of how it was made to learn how to take it down, instead of risking her own computer.

It was a voluntary job. No one was asking her to do this.

Seung stands up and shivers from the cold, wishing she could curl back up under the covers and sleep more, but she knew she couldn't. Her arms were sore from the gym, and her legs were sore from having to grip the pole so hard every time she didn't want to hit the ground painfully.

Chanyeol...

Her eyes open fully and she stares at the far wall in her room. Chanyeol was there and, heck, she took money from his mouth. She just hoped he didn't know it was her. He might hit on her thinking that she was easy, or something.

She wasn't like that. He didn't know anything. She'll just continue and pretend that he mistook her for her sister. They looked enough alike to pass it off. She was wearing a mask, anyway. It's not like it was easy to recognize her.

Seung changes into random clothes that were warm enough for the cold apartment and walks into the living room, pulling a dirty shirt out of the couch cushions and planning to wash clothes later. Padding into the kitchen, she pulls out ingredients and makes a recipe by heart - simple banana muffins.They were easy, and no one has eaten any of the fruit recently.

She leaves a note when they're done for her sober father and sister when they get up, telling them to eat what ​they want. She had to wash clothes today along with her usual things.

Clothes first.

She packs a duffel bag from their hamper in the hallway and adds her usual soap and assorted things with it, tucking her lab top away and heading for the bus stop.

 

It wasn't his fault.

In his defense, Suho shouldn't have arrived. Baekhyun was the one who usually told them when to stop drinking, but this time he joined them. Chanyeol's never experienced a horror like the very first hangover of his life.

His head was pounding, but he recalls a water bottle being thrown at him, and a memory that it was Tuesday, and he doesn't have class on Tuesdays. No class meant no bus, and no bus meant no Seung.

Or should he call her Matrix? No, she wouldn't like that.

If Tuesdays were different for her as well, then he was missing a piece of her routine. They were the only day he didn't have remembered. It may be creepy, but he couldn't help himself. She attracted his attention so easily.

But today was when it was his turn to bring food to Sehun at work. Suho had enough money to sustain them, but insisted that the younger take a step into life first to try it out before becoming dependent on his hyung. Chanyeol only had to pack a sandwich and a few snacks, maybe a bubble tea, and drop it off at the bakery, where the maknae would be selling cookies and trying not to steal the delicacies around him..

It was easy, if only the pounding in his head would slow down. How much did he drink last night? All he could remember is sipping often whenever dances started, but he paid too much attention to look for Matrix to notice how much he actually drank.

Chanyeol groans and looks at the person in his doorway, spotting Kyungsoo giving him concerned eyes.

"Do you want some asprin?"

Chanyeol slowly nods and grimaces.

 

The trip to the library was enjoyable. He watched Seung get on the bus and instantly watched her to see if anything was different. He was right, because she had a large bag with her. It seemed like she was dropping something off, but he wanted to know what was in the bag. He wanted to know everything about her.

She glances in his direction and he looks away to avoid being caught staring. She seem to relax slightly after spotting him looking away, and his heart sinks a bit.

Of course she wouldn't want him looking. It's not like he was the one who gave her flowers or anything.

Chanyeol's back straightens as he mentally slaps himself. He doesn't know where they come from. He should keep quiet until he actually did know instead of make up something disappointing. She could be single, for he knows. But, after seeing her in the club, he actually was doubting that now. How could she when so many men came to watch her dance?

She disappears on a different stop, almost making Chanyeol forget that it was his stop as well. maybe she was going to the bakery, then he would be able to watch her more.

Not in a creepy way, of course.

Chanyeol grips the brown paper bag in his hands and gets off the sticky bus seat, following her off the vehicle. It slowly lumbers down the street and Chanyeol looks for Seung and her special clothing that day. She wore a green knee-length dress, but, instead of leggings like a normal girl would wear, she simply had jeans on underneath and a gray sweater over it. It fit her, he thinks, to wear something so different and slightly lazy. At least it looked cozy, unlike the tight clothes that other girls wore in this weather.

Chanyeol shivers slightly and tucks his hoodie around him more when a cold Autumn breeze whips down the street, making his eyes squint to find Seung. He huffs when he can't see her through all the people and feels a weight fall in his chest for missing her. Instead of getting sad, he looks up and anticipates seeing Sehun at work, and his face when he finds the bubble tea he packed for him.

There was always a good side to the day. He at least saw Seung, and now knows that Tuesdays were something different for her. His curiosity heightens when he thinks of her bag. Oh, how he wanted to know what was inside.

It was probably something basic and stupid, but he didn't care. He would learn something about her.

 

Seung pushes the glass door to the laundromat open and carries the big bag inside, scanning the area until she finds an open washer. Walking with the bag on her hip, she wobbles over and sets in on the floor, With a quick zip it's contents threaten to spill out and she scrambles clumsily to keep it all together. When she's sure it'll hold, she opens the white machine and separates the colors: whites, darks, colors. After choosing the largest pile, colors, she evenly places them in a circular pattern in the machine and is about to add soap when she notices she forgot change.

Her eyes narrow in annoyance when they land on the change machine, only to see a tapped "Out of order" sign on the front. She huffs at wasted time and grabs a five dollar bill from her pocket, smoothing the bottom of her dress out and giving glances at those around her. She wasn't going to ask them for change, no, she was going to find a store and see if they could do it for her.

The only bad part was that she would have to leave her things alone, but, she guesses, if she can leave her stuff in the machine, then she should be able to leave it out. It made her uneasy, but she finds herself stepping back out the glass doors and straight into a cold gust of air that tried to blow up her dress until she zipped her sweatshirt up and stopped it short. She refused to get cold in this weather, because this would be like summertime when Winter was over.

A few cars honk going by, but she pays them no attention. With a doubtful glance backwards, she looks at the small businesses lining the streets, seeing tanning places, gift shops, a few restaurants and a tattoo parlor. A comforting smell washes over her in the breeze and she looks for the source, spotting the old bakery that her father used to take them too before her mother died.

Shrugging her shoulders and not liking the old memories, she recalls the owners face and remembers that he was trustworthy. She would get change from him.

Her feet start down the sidewalk and towards the promise of warmth from being indoors, palms pressed against another set of glass doors and feeling the temperature difference immediately when she walks inside. Hot air blows out when she holds the door open and she closes it as fast as she can, understanding the desire to keep a place warm in cold weather. That was an issue she had when the furnace broke down and they kept the place warm by constantly baking over the course of Winter for heat.

It was something like this place. Seung darts her eyes away from the display cases of different sweets and confections, but there wasn't anyone behind the counter. A small sign over the cash register noted that the person was taking a ten minute lunch break at eleven. Seung looks at her watch.

Eleven thirty.

She scoffs and lowers her arm, glancing at the foods again. She remembers how Yoora always would get American doughnuts while she favored something more simple, like yakwa. Their dad would pay and tell them not to tell mom.

They couldn't exactly tell her now, could they?

With a small smile, she drags a finger across the glass separating her from the foods, but it erases when a customer walks in and makes a small bell ring. She looks down and lets the stranger walk around the store to chose what she wanted as well. A few noises are heard somewhere behind the counter, voices from a possible back room.

"Hyung, can you check while I finish?" 

Seung hears a distant noise of agreement and a figure pops in from the left, pulling the sign off the cash register. She freezes in her spot and stares at him until he looks up, his vender smile brightening up suddenly. Seung sees his pupils dilate slightly, but adverts her gaze to avoid eye contact, but she finds them going back up. Something about the way he seemed made her feel...happier? It was an aura he had around him, like a contagious smile.

She never got a good look at him until now. When she was taking the money from his mouth, she didn't notice his strong jaw and dark eyes. He was the world's standard of handsome, other than the large-rimmed black glasses and beanie he had pulled over his dark hair. She didn't even notice them.

Seung did notice that she was looking at him a little too much and looks away for the second time in the short minute-long pause they had while noticing each other.

"Seung! What are - I mean, how can I help you?" he asks, going from excited, to hesitant, then attempting to seem smooth. She saw past his cool-guy mask and took note of the crack in his deep voice.

Seung stares at him, eyes getting wide. How did he know her name?

"What?" She asks.

"Did you want anything?" Chanyeol rephrases, gesturing across the store.

"You...h-how do you know my name?" She asks. Chanyeol smiles wider again.

"You told me on the bus, remember?" He points out, bringing his arms back down to his sides. Seung gapes a bit longer before getting composed again, closing her mouth and clearing her throat.

"Right." She breathes, looking at the yakwa staring at her. She shakes her head and hands him the five dollar bill, "Change, please?"

Chanyeol slowly takes it, feeling like the roles were reversed. It was only last night she took money from him. He has to odd sensation to take it and run it down his body like she did, but heavily restrains himself. That would surely scare people off, and probably scar them too. Seung would dislike him even more.

He follows Seung's eyes to the flower-shaped biscuits and ponders what to do while his large hands open the register and starts to take things out.

"Uh...coins or bills?" He asks.

"Quarters."

Chanyeol nods, but keeps watching her as she glances around the store again, like she was absorbing the atmosphere. He must've been smiling like an idiot, but he didn't care. She was so close to him.

And, he found a clue! What did she need quarters for? What was the only place on the street that needed quarters and not just a normal five dollar bill?

The laundromat.

Tuesdays were laundry days.

Chanyeol's smile gets bigger until he looks like his favorite things to do in the world was take quarters out of the register. Sehun chooses this moment to walk out from behind the store and Chanyeol notices Seung take a small step back at the new person. She must not like a lot of people if three seems like a lot to her.

"Yah! Do you need help?" Sehun asks the other customer. He spares a side glance at his friend and does a double take after noticing his serial killer smile, eyes glued to this random girl. He nudges his hyung.

"Did she ask you out, or something?" He asks, a bit louder than desired. Seung jerks her head back to them and an absurd look crosses her features, getting shocked, then confused, then shocked again before a blush crosses her cheeks. It was so random and unreadable Chanyeol could only sputter an apology and hand her the coins, resisting the temptation to stab Sehun mercilessly in the chest with a pen and let him die.

Before Chanyeol can do anything, Seung is out the door again, mumbling a thank you, her figure disappearing down the street. Now, Chanyeol pounces.

"Sehun!"

"What~?" He yells back, not understanding what he just did wrong.

"That was Seung!" Chanyeol replies. Sehun's shoulders drop and his eyes roll.

"You mean that girl on the bus? The one you don't stop talking about?" Sehun half taunts, half sarcastically responds. Chanyeol grabs a small pastry bag and napkin, sweeping a yakwa up and starting for the door to make a move. He wasn't sure if it would mean anything, but it wouldn't hurt to try. Besides, dramas sometimes had girls that found dorky men cute. Maybe TV would be right for once.

It was worth a shot.

The cold hits Chanyeol and he shivers slightly, hearing Sehun's protests about paying for that. Chanyeol would remind him later that he occasionally sneaks things for himself and should shut up. He'd pay for it later.

He speeds up and pin points her body, obviously feeling uncomfortable. He's watched observed her long enough to know what she was feeling. With his long legs, he catches up and is about to place a hand on her shoulder, but he retracts his arm and simply says her name.

"Seung."

She jumps, not expecting him, but gets a slightly hidden annoyed look and tugs the ends of her sleeves down, the coins in her hand. He hears them scrape against each other, but she avoids eye contact again.

"Chanyeol." She greets softly. It makes the said man smile, but she doesn't see it.

"So you do remember my name. Sorry, I just wanted to correct my friend back there." He quickly states. Seung pushes the doors to the laundromat open and fast walks to her clothes, checking to make sure everything was still there. Chanyeol's eyes scan the pieces of clothing left out in piles as she adds soap to what was already in the washer and drops a few coins in, pressing a button and hearing the splashing noise of water filling it up. She glances at Chanyeol from the corners of her eyes, afraid to look at him straight on.

"Is this because of last night?" She suddenly asks, hands still by her sides. She wasn't showing any sign of emotion of her thoughts. Chanyeol didn't know whether to bring it up or pretend it didn't happen.

Don't let her know he knew. That seemed like the best answer. He read it in her eyes that night.

"What happened last night?" he asks, trying to play dumb. Seung looks at him a bit longer before nodding slightly. He passed whatever test she'd put him under.

"What about your friend?" She softly asks, staring at the far wall.

"He said things out of turn. What he means is that I'm hopeless and I really enjoy counting change, but he took it wrong." Chanyeol explains.

Because everyone loves to count change. It was the only thing he could think of at that moment, but it sounded so fake that he was sure that she'd know he was lying.

"It's fine." She practically squeaks, her voice small and low. She was speaking fine earlier, but it seems that the longer she spoke, the more her voice died. It made him feel like he had to wind her up again.

He was going to figure out what winded her up and make sure it never died again. Only then did he remember the small bag in his hand. He sets it in front of her and she stares at it, taking her time to lift a hand up and unwrap the package. When she sees the confection she turns completely to him, eyes scrutinizing him carefully.

"I'm sorry to ask, but this always passes me. Are you flirting?" She asks. This takes Chanyeol off guard. Did she actually not notice when people flirted with her?

What was he to say anything? Baekhyun once said a girl obviously flirted with him, but only brought it up after she moved into a new school in a different country. He was as thick as a glacier sometimes, and just as slow.

"What? No! I was just, uh, I was just trying to apologize for any misunderstanding." Chanyeol cries, a bit too loud for comfort. Seung leans away from him slightly, but he doesn't notice.

At least he discovered one topic that brought her voice back; annoyance over romantic advances.

"Okay. You didn't need to bring a bribe." She replies, slight monotone to her voice. Everything she did had a mechanical touch, and it was so different from the flexible person she play while on stage.

No! he can't think about that!

"How did you know I liked them?" She asks, looking suspiciously at him.

Chanyeol laughs sheepishly and rubs the back of his neck, "I saw you looking at it."

He wonders why she seemed to find him so untrustworthy. Before she can reply, though, a light on the side of her lab top flashes and catches their attention. Her body goes tense and she grabs it quickly, running for the bathrooms in the back before he could even say a word.

"Seung?" He asks quietly to himself, wondering what happened. His eyes travel to the piles of clothes, but his ears turn red and his face heats up when they land on a pair of panties, probably not hers.

Or were they? He didn't want to let his imagination run wild, though, because they could be a sister's or even a mother's. He was not going to think about that. Instead, he gently picks up a man's shirt and covers it quietly.

He decides to wait for her. He was dying to ask her his important question, but now wouldn't be a good time. With her all suspicious about him, sliding by without the right words to say would be a definite no. He was horrible with coming up with what to say without digging a bigger hole for himself when under pressure. He's surprised he got this far without her either slapping him, or running away again.

At least he discovered where she goes on Tuesdays. Now he just needed to know where she went every other day. When school lets out for individual study time - the time they worked on their projects for the rest of the year - he would find out. He didn't know how, but he could figure out a way to seem less stalker-ish. Step one was becoming a friend, then it wouldn't seem to strange when he followed her everywhere.

No, don't say it like that; when he tagged along with her.

Seung eventually comes out of the bathroom, quietly apologizing to those waiting, and brings her computer back to her place. Chanyeol held it down for her, and she looked surprised to see him there still. The washer was done already, so she gives him a blank look - eyes filled with confusion - and takes the wet clothes out, tossing them in the closest open dryer and turning it on with money. When she returns she finds Chanyeol putting her whites in the washer this time, making her watch with even more confusion.

"Why are you helping?" She asks, having to get closer or else he wouldn't have heard her after he pressed the button and heard the splashing water again.

"Why not?" he asks, pushing the yakwa closer to her. She grabs it and holds it in her hands.

"You don't owe me anything." She reminds him. Chanyeol nods his head and shrugs his shoulders.

"Can't I do something helpful without a debt or reward?" He asks. She falls silent and looks like she was following a train of thought. Chanyeol wished he could pull the thoughts out of her mind and read them.

"Yes. Yes you can." She mumbles, bringing the yakwa to her lips hesitantly. She stops and looks at it, sighing and wrapping it back up, about to put it in her bag when Chanyeol stops her with his eyes. She tries to wave him away, but he turns his body towards her.

His inner self was doing cartwheels and dances in order to contain his joy from having so much eye contact and such a long conversation.

"What's wrong?" He asks. She tucks the package away in a pocket and gives him another side glance.

"I didn't get anything for my...sister." She slowly replies, almost not willing to let him know about her life. She was a closed person, but Chanyeol would learn how to open her up to his eyes and make her fall in love with him.

She had a sister. That was a start to getting to know her. That meant she felt like he was more than a stranger, right?

They had a new stage: No longer strangers but not quite friends.

Chanyeol could barely contain his smile at this revelation.

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