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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6. ("110")

A computer is almost human - except it doesn't blame it's mistakes on another computer.

 

There was a freak rainstorm before the sun even rose that morning. It blocked the sunlight from the earth as fat raindrops hit buildings and sidewalks with vengeance. Seeing as winter was approaching soon, the wind was chilling, and the water was cold enough to freeze to your skin. You didn't want to be caught up in this downpour, but there were those who depended on jobs. With a kiss to their family and a raincoat, they trudge into the bad weather and hope to not be blown away.

Seung didn't receive this in the morning, but she also wasn't surprised when the rain hit like God's fist. She was still awake when the sound of hail beat against her window, but it was only rain. After checking on Yoora that morning, sleeping peacefully, a light bruise around her throat, she checked on her father and found him passed out cold until the afternoon - maybe. He didn't get up very often during the day.

Making leftovers for their meals when she wouldn't be there, she grabbed her usual supplies and braced herself for the walk to the bus stop. Only, when she opened the door, Chanyeol was outside, his hand raised and poised to knock on the door. She must've forgotten that their doorbell was broken.

He quickly lowers his hand and stares, mouth about to form words, but stuck. He held a blue umbrella in one hand, water dripping down the sides. Only, he had on a black sweatshirt on and a black snapback. It didn't seem to suit the cold weather, since his ears were uncovered, and it was obvious the way he held himself closely to stay warm.

When he looks at what Seung was wearing, he cursed his own lack of warm clothes. She had a purple long-sleeve shirt underneath a water resistant jacket. The water would roll right off, unlike his fabric sweatshirt.

He smiles, however, when he sees the average gray tennis shoes with blue laces.

He looks up when she starts talking, her breath fogging in the cold air. Without a second thought, she quickly closes the door behind her to conserve heat.

"What are you doing here?" She asks. Chanyeol swallows and she watches his adam's apple bob slightly.

"I just...walk you to umbrella the bus." He mumbles, getting his words mixed up suddenly. He blows a raspberry and shakes his head, "I mean, I wasn't sure if you had an umbrella, so I thought I'd walk you to the bus."

"Okay." Seung simply replies. She steps away from her door and Chanyeol holds the umbrella out for them to share, blocking the rain off of them as much as possible. When the wind blows, his grip on the umbrella tightens when it catches underneath and tries to blow it away. Seung's hand goes up and grabs it with him for extra support and they keep walking.

Chanyeol's ears turn red when he notices that her hand was clasped right over his. She didn't even seem to understand her own actions, but he saw the difference in their hand sizes and wondered how perfectly they would fit together if there wasn't an umbrella in between. Another gust of wind and she tightens her hold over his fingers.

They were rough, she thinks, and made for guitar. He did say yesterday that he played. It wasn't a boastful comment, either, just a statement to make a point. He didn't seem to advertise himself like other people have in the past. Sure, she didn't open herself up much, but that doesn't mean to make the conversation about you.

"This is going to sound so stupid, but how about this weather?" Chanyeol asks, holding up his free hand to catch a few droplets. They sting his hand when they land and he retracts. Seung simply blinks and takes deep, chilling breath that makes her throat burn and release a cough.

"It could be better." She curtly replies. Puddles form in the cracks of the sidewalk and they have to widen their steps to get over them. Most of the other people were running through the rain to get out of it, but they seemed to be taking their time to the bus stop. A pedestrian runs between the two of them and makes Chanyeol drop the umbrella, which Seung had a hold on now. She holds it up and over Chanyeol's head as the stranger keeps going without an apology. By the time they resumed their walking, Seung now had rain drops in her hair.

In the cloudy, dim light they had, Chanyeol stole one glance at her and was captured. Not just because of the way her hair sparkled, but now he could fully see how pale she was. She must not go in the sun often, because she was like a ghost as they walked in the rain. He was so captivated that he steps directly in a puddle and they quickly hops out when the cold envelopes his foot. Pretending it didn't happen, he keeps walking like normal, despite Seung's quick glance in his direction.

"How was your ride home last night?" She asks. Chanyeol looks back at her again and smiles, because she was finally trying to start conversations on her own time now. No longer was it just him who tried to fill the silence; now she was trying as well.

"Ah, I had some trouble with my friends, but I got home safe. What about you?" He asks. Seung's grip on the umbrella tightens again and she stares at the sidewalk for puddles. Chanyeol wraps his hand around hers hesitantly to resume the skin contact they had before he let go, trying to get closer to her when he sees her stiffen.

Her time getting home wasn't the best, she had to admit. After the club closed, she made sure that the other girls didn't go home with anyone too suspicious. When she discovered that all of them were planning on going home alone, she made sure they left the building safely. After standing outside in the nighttime cold, under the light bulb above the back door, she was subjected to the many drunken men who sometimes make their way over there to see if they can hook up with some of the ladies.

Her time getting home was making sure they weren't following her back after everyone left, since the buses didn't run that late at night. She ran into many who couldn't stop making sure she knew how intoxicated they were, until soon she was pushing their faces away from her when the last woman left the club and the lights went out.

She only got to take her mask off after her hair was tied back up in it's pony tail, uncurled, face makeup free, and body normal clothed again.

"It could be better." She says again, with a small sigh. He only catches it because of the dramatic way her chest rose and fell - along with the burst of steam that came from her mouth - that usually signaled a sigh.

They go around a corner and see the bus that usually takes them to where they need to go. Steam was coming from it's engines, and the driver was standing to it's side, scratching his head. They stop and stare at what was their mode of transportation for the day, broken on the side of the street.

"That might be a problem for getting to school." Seung comments, looking up at him. She wanted to hand him the umbrella and start walking to the gym, since she didn't go yesterday and needed to pretend that the sandbag was either her father strangling her sister, or the men that kidnapped them for porn, but his hand was clasped around her's, refusing to let go.

"Where are you going?" He asks. This was a good opportunity to see what she did during the day when she wasn't on the bus. He could play it off as concern for how she was going to go places, since he didn't actually have to go to class if he came up with the excuse that he was working on his project.

"Don't worry about me." She insists, thrusting the umbrella over his head only, but he doesn't let go. She looks him in the eye and could see the determination in them as he places it entirely over her head instead, as if insisting she keep it. She pushes it back towards him and his large hands close around hers tighter as they go back and forth, pushing the umbrella between the two of them continuously. Chanyeol laughs and his smile grows as they seem to play fight over who should keep the umbrella, and Seung can't help but give a small smile from the contagious one he was giving her.

"Ti ekat tsuj!" She exclaims. Chanyeol doesn't even question what language that could've been.

She was wasting time, Seung thinks.

Eventually, the wind grabs the umbrella and it flies out of both of their hands, going high into the air and over the top of the building. Chanyeol shivers and watches it go until he can't see it any longer, losing the thing that pieced them together for the short amount of time.

Seung slips a hand into a pocket in her lab top bag and pulls out a folded travel umbrella while Chanyeol gazes at the cloudy sky for his umbrella, his eyes twitching when cold rain hits his face. He flinches completely when she rips the Velcro strap off and blows it up to full size above their heads, covering his view of the clouds with one of Van Gogh's Starry Night, which decorated the entire canvas of the umbrella's canopy.

As soon as he registers it as an umbrella, however, he grabs her hand around the handle again and encases it, making her drop her shoulders and roll her eyes, sighing.

"You're not going to let this go, are you?" She asks. Chanyeol excitedly shakes his head and they start walking again.

"I don't need to go to class today if I complete the first stage of my project." he explains, "Where are you going?"

"Go to the gym."

There was a new skip in Chanyeol's step as they hastily walk to her destinations. Crossing town isn't always fun, especially in the bitter cold, but there was a flicker of warmth inside of him that kept him cozy, along with the steel grip he had on Seung's umbrella, like it was the most important thing in his life. Her hand was still trapped under his, which was why his actions made sense.

In double the time it took for the bus to bring them there, they soon enter the doors to the gym and Seung heads for the locker rooms, stopping suddenly when she thinks of Chanyeol waiting awkwardly. She turns towards him and leans on one leg.

"You really don't have to stay and wait. You can use my umbrella-"

She's cut off when a man on the treadmill suddenly trips and slides off with the track, his key falling out and stopping the machine. By the time he starts to scramble to get up, Chanyeol was already at his side, assisting him.

"Baekhyun?" He asks, pulling the skinnier man to his feet. Seung takes this time to sneak way and change.

"What are you doing here? I thought you had class." Baekhyun pants and takes his time to speak after his fall, breathing heavily from running.

"I get out if I am working on my project." Chanyeol explains.

"How exactly are you working on a music project in a gym?" 

"It's more like, trying to get my subject to want to be my subject."

"Whose the girl?" Baekhyun asks, pointing in the direction Seung went in. Chanyeol looks around notices that she was gone, hoping that meant she was only changing.

"That's Seung, My future subject." he proudly announces. Baekhyun laughs, but coughs afterwards.

"You sound like you're announcing your marriage. Anyway, that's her? I think you need to reevaluate your choice of women." Baekhyun states, wiping his hands on his track shorts.

"Why's that?"

"I think she has anger issues. When she comes in and uses the boxing bags, it's like they owe her money." Baekhyun states. Chanyeol looks at the said bags, some duct-taped from use. He remembers the situation at home and swallows, adjusting his glasses.

"I wouldn't be surprised." He mumbles.

"What? Anger or money?"

"Both."

Baekhyun shrugs and wipes his forehead before walking to his treadmill and slipping the key back in, pressing a few buttons to set it at a lower speed and hopping on.

"Why are you here?" Chanyeol asks as the latter jogs.

"I always come here. Didn't Suho tell you?" He asks.

"Tell me what?"

"My teacher requires a certain amount of cardio exercises per week. In performing arts, you need to move around a lot, and you don't want your voice to fail you because you're catching your breath." He points out. Chanyeol nods his head when he doesn't hear any break in Baekhyun's voice as he jogs, agreeing.

Baekhyun points at the boxing area again and Chanyeol turns to see Seung walking up to a bag, dressed up in athletic clothing. His mouth drops when he sees her in fabric black shorts, making smooth hand gestures as she warps her fists with athletic tape. She didn't look in his direction, but he didn't care. He didn't make a move to get closer, though.

She walks up to the first punching bag and stares at it for a few seconds, one hand fingering the old duct tape and looking at it's faults before making an experimental punch. It retaliates and rocks gently back and forth from the blow, but quickly settles back down again and simply hangs in front of her once more.

Seung tenses her body up and sees the face of every single man from the night before plastered on the outside of the bag, dancing across the leather surface before her fist hits the side of it, trying to knock them away and into oblivion. She hits again and feels the weight of the bag shift as it runs to escape a second, but her fist hits the semi-hard surface and the slap echoes.

She was strong. The chain above creaks with strain when more faces flash in her head: her dad, the manager, Chanyeol's smirking friend...

Chanyeol...

Her fist pelts the bag weakly and she snaps from the trance she was in, finding her body sweaty and her fists sore and red, despite the tape. The duct tape looked like it was barely holding on after it's beating.

She wasn't done yet. There was something else on her mind; Someone was missing.

Right.

She looks back at the bag and narrows her eyes, imagining the men who tied Chanyeol and herself to a chair, the ones she didn't have time to knock unconscious. Their features were almost visible on the beaten up leather as she goes in for more, not feeling satisfied with just her fists. Before she knows it, the bag's feeling the skin of her knees, elbows.

She was going to hurt herself. Maybe Baekhyun was right. The way she pummeled the bag was almost like the way she beat the men up from yesterday. It was ruthless, the way she attacked the simple bag. It was swinging with such force that it reminded him of walking by the swing set when people were using it. He walked over to her with great caution, trying to stop her before she started to full out ninja-

She suddenly rears back and her foot collides with it from a short distance, as if she knew martial arts. Unfortunately for both of them, the owners of the gym didn't take care of the punching bags very well. Not enough people used it daily for them to really stay considerate towards it's condition.

The chains creak one last time and Chanyeol was the only obstacle in it's way when it swings dangerously outwards, catching him unexpectedly in the groin. When he hits the ground in pain from a two hundred pound kick in the crotch, a loose bracket snaps and the entire bag falls across him. Seung stops dead and stares at what just happened, her body in a fighting stance.

"Chanyeol!"

She falls down next to him, heaving the sand bag off his tall body. His face was white and his breathing was labored from the pain he was in. Baekhyun falls off his treadmill again and makes an effort to get off the ground to help his friend. As soon as the punching bag is away, though, Chanyeol only presses his hands over his groin, curling up and releasing a pitiful and hoarse gasp of air.

Baekhyun finally arrives, red marks across his arms, and kneels by Chanyeol, urging his arms up.

"I should get him home." He states, trying not to laugh. His smile was obvious, but Chanyeol couldn't see it with his eyes closed.

"Do you need any help?" Seung asks. She grabs Chanyeol's other arm and they try to get him to his feet, his tall figure hard to get a grip on. He leans on Seung and starts to drape across her, her eyes going wide, when Baekhyun grabs him around his waist and holds him upright. He lets out a short breath when he's stable and looks at Seung.

"Yes. Yes I do."

Seung nods and Chanyeol starts sliding towards the floor again, his eyes starting to open slightly, but his expression still scrunched up.

"Mother of God." He breathes. Seung grabs his feet and hoists them into the air, all three of them slowly making their way towards the front door. Seung had to swallow the fact that she was still in her shorts and tank top, but she couldn't drop Chanyeol on the pavement to change.

The cold rain pelts them, the wind speeding the process of making them all shiver. Chanyeol still had his clothes on, but the two carrying him didn't. They awkwardly waddle down the street, looking suspiciously like they were kidnapping him, and Baekhyun points out his car. Opening the door with one hand, Seung lets them turn around so they could shove Chanyeol inside, starting to gain full consciousness again.

Baekhyun gets into the drivers seat as Seung practically wraps Chanyeol in his seat belt for safety. The smaller male looks at her and gestures for her to get inside, wondering what Suho would think of Chanyeol bringing a girl home for once, but Seung shakes her head.

"You sure? I might need help unloading him." Baekhyun insists, determined to tease Chanyeol when they get home and she's in the room. Chanyeol groans from the seat and Seung glances at him quickly, thinking things over.

She didn't know this man or where he was taking her. Yet, she's been in worse situations.

No. She hasn't gone shopping, and she hasn't checked the planned meeting site for her most recent thank-you payment. They promised enough for the bills without extra dance money for help.

"I-"

"Seung?" Chanyeol asks, squinting his eyes slightly and leaning up in his seat. That meant he was getting better, right? He didn't need her help to get him home, "Can you come with?"

Crap.

Truthfully, she didn't really want to go, but now he was asking her to. She couldn't just deny the person she caused injury. That would be rude.

"Let me get my stuff." She states in monotone. Baekhyun nods and Seung closes the door, walking back through the freezing rain. She had goose bumps across her bare skin, and the warm air from the gym was a welcome.

She snatches her bag from the locker and closes it with a metallic crash, staring at the red paint on the outside for a few seconds. She spins on her heel, wishing she could change quickly, but she was already gone for too long.

By the time she's back to the car, the wind had picked up and was sending the rain into her eyes. She opens the passenger door and slides inside uneasily, back straight as Baekhyun merges into the traffic of Main St.

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