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got to find my corner of the skyi've got to be where my spirit can run freeMin Young was half-running down the stairwell, with her purse over her shoulder, trying to leave the hotel as quickly as she could. She’d delivered a package to the occupants of one of the larger suites in the hotel just minutes earlier, and though she had no idea what was inside it, she didn’t want to know. She’d run the errand for money, which she was in dire need of, for one of the men associated with the apartment complex she was staying in with three other illegal women. Add the fact that she was pretty sure that whatever was in the box was more illegal than herself to all this unlawfulness, and she was certain it was best not to have any inkling what was inside, and to simply book it out of the hotel’s general vicinity.She had taken the stairs instead of the elevator so that she could leave through the hotel restaurant instead of by the main lobby, but as she entered it…No. No. Oh no, no, no, no, nononononono. There was no possibly way he could be here. Not here, in Seoul. He had no way of knowing she was here.But there he was, in all his drunken glory, waltzing into the restaurant from the opposite end as herself with the mixture of a stagger and a swagger that she could recognize from a mile away. Min Young inhaled sharply and zipped back into the stairwell before he could lay eyes on her. How the hell did her find her? She hadn’t told anybody where she was. She hadn’t contacted her parents in months. She hadn’t even sent a message to the boss who had helped her escape in the first place since she’d gotten here. Outside of the women she shared the apartment with and the occasional man who came to check in on them or ask a favour of them, whom she was pretty sure were members of the mafia or something, Min Young hadn’t really had any contact with anybody, not even in the city. So how did he find her?She closed her eyes and breathed deeply, spinning the simple gold wedding ring that remained on her finger. She’d kept it on mostly to try and ward away unwanted attention, but she hated the thing with a passion. It was a link to what she’d had to go through. And now…there was another link here. She had to get out of this hotel. Min Young exhaled slowly and opened her eyes, only to make a little noise of surprise at who she found in front of her. 438 words, outfitcoded by fickle!tribble of caution2.0 & atf
Was it fate that brought him here at this particular time on this particular day? He had an office at the administrative building for the the entire hotel chain, but he was still touring all of the hotels and resorts. He wanted to see for himself what sort of system the company had invested and then decide if it needed changing. He suspected that it did as his recently retired predecessor had been an old, tired man. His experience in dealing with security while serving the military prepared him perfectly for the job, and he was pleased that Young Sun had suggested him as a replacement. The job came at just the right time too. He needed something to occupy himself. An idle lifestyle really didn't suit him. One of the reasons why he had taken so few leave days from his years with the army.
The security room with all the camera feeds was situated just below the first floor and was complete with all of the best equipment. The clients of S Hotels paid a great deal for the privacy and safety, and S Hotels would deliver, especially now that Seuk Gi's good name was on the line. He spent a good deal of time in the security room, meeting with the staff in shifts and smashing it into their heads that he would not be lenient with failure. They could and would lose their jobs it a preventable theft or accident took place on one of the S Hotels properties. The crew quickly learned not to trifle with their new boss, and quickly went back to work, painfully conscious of the need for greater efficiency.
While waiting for one of the hotel staff to bring his lunch, he sat in one of the cushy chairs in front of the monitors and studied the people coming to and fro. One woman in particular stood out to him. She was carrying a normal, nondescript package under her arm and walking quickly. Now and again, she would cast a furtive glance behind her. Frowning, he followed her progress into the elevator and up to the sixth floor, down to room 613. The door opened, she walked inside. Moments later, the door opened again and she hurried back down, this time taking the stairs. He felt the hair on the back of his neck rise in anticipation. Something was happening, something he would not like. Pushing back from the desk, he stood and strode out of the room, ordering one of the men to keep his food warm for him.
With a tazer neatly hidden inside his crisp black suit jacket, Seuk Gi took the steps three at a time and quickly made it to the first floor. He was somewhat surprised to see the suspicious woman standing just inside the door, looking even more panicked than before. Was it the reaction of a criminal... or a victim? Everything from her trembling to her posture told him victim, but he hesitated. He had been wrong before. Best to be wary. He approached until his stood in front of her, and said,
No answer. Her eyes were closed. Seuk Gi looked her over and noticed the ring on her finger.
"Madam? Excuse me."
Her eyes popped open and she seemed startled to see him. No idea why as he hadn't quite snuck up on her. She'd made a sort of mousey squeak at the site of him. Odd woman. He frowned slightly and held up a hand, indicating that she should stay where she was. Peering out the door, he scanned the room for any suspicious persons. The staggering drunkard was the most notable. He gently shut the door and turned to her.
"Chief of security, madam. I have a few questions to ask you, but first, are you in some sort of trouble?"
got to find my corner of the skyi've got to be where my spirit can run freeWell this man struck an imposing figure. Eyes wide, Min Young watched first his hand as it went up and then somewhere near his shoulder as he looked out the door to the restaurant. This was bad. This was very bad. She was caught between a rock and a hard place. How was she supposed to get out of this? The door clicked closed, and the man refocused his attention on her. ”Chief of security, madam. I have a few questions to ask you, but first, are you in some sort of trouble?””Chief of security? Questions? He wasn’t even just some lowly guard? Oh, wonderful. Her first thought was to flatten herself against the wall, and indeed she had to fight not to, but that would look even more suspicious. And she couldn’t afford that right now. How best to get out of this situation? She had no papers. She had no reason to be here – at least no reason that would be acceptable in this situation; delivering a package of unknown contents to a hotel suite was not exactly wise. And she definitely did not have enough money to afford a room in this fancy hotel herself. So how could she get out of this? Min Young racked her brain, doing her best not to panic.And then he asked if she was in trouble. Oh, he meant other than being cornered by chief of security after almost running right into my husband? No, not at all. ”I…” Min Young looked down at her ring, spinning it again with nerves. How she wanted to get rid of the dratted thing. It had too many memories attached to it, almost all of them bad. ”That – man. In the restaurant,” He would be able to pick out who she meant if he was chief of security. Her husband was an easy one to spot. Not that she wanted to call him by that title; as far as she was concerned, they’d stopped being husband and wife as early as two months into their marriage. After that…well, things had soured, fast. ”He can’t – “ He can’t what. Know that she was here? How would she explain that? It would only raise more questions. ”He – could you turn him away? Please?”379 words, outfitcoded by fickle!tribble of caution2.0 & atf
The way the woman cowered away from him gave him an uncomfortable feeling underneath his skin. He was particularly sympathetic to victims of violence, something he was very well-acquainted with, and he hated feeling like the bad guy. It gave him a bad taste in his mouth. His job for so long had been to serve and protect, and it still was. Just in a different way. His reaction to her plea in the army probably would have been to kick open the door and blast away with the insurgents squatting inside with an AK-47. As a security officer, he wasn’t even allowed a gun. Stick and taser at best. That was fine, as long as whoever was causing trouble wasn’t carting around firepower. He didn’t feel too hopeful that that would be the case. Anyone wanting to cause trouble and worked without regard to the safety of others always had guns. He barely repressed sigh as she shrank back into the wall, and took a step back from her, providing her more breathing space. He hoped that his actions would help her to realize that she was no threat to him.
”That – man. In the restaurant.”
He nodded, not too surprised. It was fairly easy to discern the basics of a situation when one knew what to look for. Trembling, frightened woman and an obviously aggressive man? One’s first impression was enough. But life wasn’t always as simple as it originally appeared. Which was exactly why he would be questioning the woman after he had sent away the drunk. He would have done so even if she weren’t huddled in the stairwell like a rabbit in its hole. Drunks didn’t send a very good image for the upscale S Hotels.
”He can’t – He – could you turn him away? Please?”
He frowned at her for a moment. Not because he was angry, but because he was deciding the best course of action. Turning the man away? Yes, he would most certainly kick the man out of the hotel with no further ado. That man wasn’t the problem. The suspicious woman, however, was another story. If he left to deal with the stranger, that would give her time to flee. Decision made, he pulled the walkie-talkie hanging from his belt. Clicking it on, he held in the talk button as he said.
”We have an issue of security in the lobby. I’ll deal with it directly, but I need someone up on the ground floor landing of the east stairwell to accompany a witness. Now!”
He barked the last word into the walkie talkie, and was gratified to hear footsteps thudding up the stairs only moments later. Seemed like his staff had taken his little discussion to heart. Good. Moving closer to the door, he opened it slightly to peer through again. The man had yet to cause any real disturbance. Looking back at the lady, he said,
”Madam, please stay here with my associate for you own safety. Leave the man to me.”
With that said, he purposefully strode out the door and towards the drunkard. Casually slipping an arm through the other man, he half carried, half pulled the man out a side door. Normally, he would never handle a person in such a manner if he was unsure of their status as a client. However, in this situation, he knew the man was not a patron of the hotel and that he was potentially intending harm on a patron.
got to find my corner of the skyi've got to be where my spirit can run freeThe step back did help, though with the whole situation it did nothing to alleviate the tension she was feeling. She felt as though she were stretched thin, and as if if something made a sudden loud noise, she would shoot off in any direction to flee in terror. She hated feeling like this. She’d been this way for the past four years, a cowering, shivering, shell of a woman with no real fight in her. But she’d gotten away, and she’d thought that would be the end of it. Obviously, picking up the pieces of her life was harder than she’d imagined.Min Young had settled for looking at the wall over his shoulder, so she didn’t see him frown at her, but she looked back at his face when he started speaking into the walkie-talkie. She flinched when he snapped the last word. She couldn’t help it. The tone was just one of those triggers. And then footsteps were pounding up the stairs. Min Young wanted to groan, but settled instead for a cringe as a second security guard came into view. No chance for a get-away, then. But she still had to try.””Madam, please stay here with my associate for you own safety. Leave the man to me.” Min Young nodded numbly. The chief of security exited swiftly into the restaurant just as the second guard reached them. She waited a few moments, then peeked through the window of the door to the restaurant to watch as her husband was dragged away. She had to try. Min Young took a breath and pulled the door open to try and dart into the restaurant.Her new minder, however, was ready for it. Of course he was. It was what he was trained for. She had barely gotten the door open before she was pulled firmly backwards with a grip that wasn’t meant to be threatening. But that was exactly how it came across to her. And then her back was against the wall again, and she was in a panic. She wasn’t in control anymore. She was squirming violently, trying to wrench one of her wrists out of the guard’s grasp, scratching desperately at his fingers. And her legs were going too, kicking at him with bad aim and not enough strength to do any real damage. She wasn’t making any noise; in her experience, shouting and screaming only made things worse. But she was crying, and crying hard. 412 words, outfitcoded by fickle!tribble of caution2.0 & atf
Once outside in the alleyway, Seuk Gi let go of the man's arm and turned to lok at him. Disheveled and angry, skin red from the excess of drink and uncontrollable emotion. Rage sparked in the man's eyes as he slurred out carelessly chosen words at Seuk Gi. It didn't bother him; he had served in the army, and the men there often communicated with an equal lack of class, including Seuk Gi. He'd never use such language at work or in front of a lady. He noted a difference between a woman and a lady. His cousin's ex-fiancee? Woman. The victim in the stairwell? He would class her as lady, for now. Especially now that he was meeting her... someone.
"Hey! Bastard! You can't kick me out! Who do you think you are?!"
He rolled his eyes at the man's words, and folded his arms across his chest. The muscles in his arms flexed and pressed against the fabric of hist suit, his subtle form of intimidation. Standing at his full height, he glared down his nose at the man and replied in a tight, stern voice,
"Chief of Security. I will not allow you to cause a scene inside this hotel. Now, what is it that I can assist you with?"
Something in his posture or voice must have finally gotten through the drink-sodden mind of the man before him, who dropped some of his hostility, falling back on fear. The man stood a little straighter and scuffed a toe of one shoe against the ground, like a guilty student in front of a teacher. He mumbled out his complaint in a way that left Seuk Gi completely unable to understand, and repeated his request in a clearer voice after prompted.
"My wife! I'm searching for my wife! She looks like this! Name is Baek Min Young. I heard from a... friend that she was here. I need to see her! Let me see my wife!"
The anger flared again as he spoke of his wife, and fueled some fight back into his unimpressive frame. His fingers curled into tight fists and he glared at the tall security officer, looking at him as though every single problem in his sorry life was completely his fault.With one hand, he waved a polaroid of the woman in front of Seuk Gi's face. Yes, just as he'd thought, it was a photograph of the woman in the stairwell. The stink of his breath wafted between the two, and he woud have gagged, had it not undermined his position. Seuk Gi sighed and pulled out his iPhone in a very official manner.
"One moment, sir. Allow me to search out patron list."
Really, he just scrolled through his e-mails. It didn't take much to connect the dots in this situation, even if he hadn't seen the photo connecting her to this wretch. Trembling rabbit of a woman, angry drunk, man looking for his wife... No way in hell he was telling this man the truth. He'd seen the like before. The type of men that blamed everyone else in the world for their issues, and took out their alcohol-enhanced fury on the closest helpless being, normally their own wife or children. The thought of it sparked his own anger, and he wanted dearly to smash the man into the ground. Or at the very least, actually use this taser on him! After what he deemed was a good enough amount of time to pull off his lie, he sighed and shook his head.
"My apologies. Yes, such a woman was a patron of this hotel, but she checked out just last night. I recall her, now that you've shown me the photo. Yes, she was with a man, and they talked about heading north and filing for visas. China, I think that's where they wanted to go. Other than that, I know nothing more. I'm sorry I can't be more helpful to you. Would you like me to set you up with a cab?"
The man, dumbfounded by the solicitous nature of a hotel employee, mumbled out something that Seuk Gi interpreted as compliance, and he escorted the man to the nearest street. After seeing the man inside the cab and paying the cabbie (he doubted the poor guy would see a single won from the man), Seuk Gi strode back into the hotel, through the lobby, and straight into the stairwell. His eyebrows raised when he saw the woman and the security guard grappling with one another, and sighed. 'Figures.' He slammed the door shut and barked out in his best sergeant's voice.
"What are you doing?! Soldier, stand down! Madam, stand still."
Shocking both into compliance, he ignored the security guard and the fact that he had slipped into old habits by calling him 'soldier'. He walked toward the woman, purposefully, and looked her in the eyes. In a gentle, but stern, voice, he said,
"Now, Ms. Baek. Your husband is gone, and I need you to accompany me to my office. I just need some answers."
got to find my corner of the skyi've got to be where my spirit can run freeMin Young was still panicking when the head of security came back into the stairwell. She was still in such a state that she didn’t even notice him and neither, evidently, did that guard she was trying so desperately to loose herself from. His yell made both of them jump – the guard to attention, Min Young both figuratively (out of her skin) and literally (approximately five or six inches upwards and backwards into the wall). She cringed, plastering herself against the cold surface at her back. Was it possible for her to just slip inside the building’s bones and hide there? No, probably not. But for what felt like the umpteenth time since her marriage, that was exactly what she felt like doing. Just…disappearing. It would make everything so much easier. No wonder invisibility was such a popular super power among children in their games.Her eyes widened in shock and she inhaled sharply at the use of her name and – worse yet – the labelling of ‘the man in the restaurant’, as she’d called him, as her husband. How did he know? How the hell did he know? She’d never named him as that. Had she? No. No. She hadn’t. No. Min Young fiddled with the wedding band on her finger again. Was it the ring? Should she be wearing it? Hesitating half a breath, she slipped it off her finger and stuck it in her pocket. ”That…that man is not my husband.” Crap. But she hadn’t denied her name being Baek. Oh geez. This was not good. Fat lot of good trying to deny that would do her now.Still terrified, Min Young peeled herself off of the wall, the cool, comforting, solid wall, to follow the man down the stairs to his office. She wavered behind him outside the door to the room. She wanted to make a run for it, to just get out of this damn hotel, but it was clear that any escape attempt would prove futile with this man. She would only get in more trouble. And how much trouble was she already in, exactly? She was here illegally. She had brought a certainly illegal package to a fancy hotel. She’d tried to run away. Oh good lord, why had she agreed to bring that package?!?He opened the door and she slipped timidly into the room after him, though she stayed at the wall near the door instead of making for one of the empty chairs in the room. Min Young clenched her jaw shut. She didn’t want to open her mouth. She felt like this was one of those police shows she used to watch: anything you say can and will be used against you in the court of law. So it’s best to just keep your mouth shut.467 words, outfitcoded by fickle!tribble of caution2.0 & atf
Seuk Gi slowly nodded, still surprised by her violent reaction to his voice. He had meant to startle her, but the leap backwards into the wall had been unexpected. What exactly had this man done to her? Whatever it was, it had turned her into a cowering shadow afraid of the smallest of motions and softest of sounds. The idea of it burned him with anger, and one hand clenched into a fist. He wanted dearly to beat the man, and wished he had given him some excuse for it. So far, this was the only frustrating part about his job. He was supposed to protect the interests of the S hotel group and that of their patrons, but he was only allowed to act to a certain extent. He couldn't even carry a gun. He understood the reason behind the restriction, but it aggravated him. He was used to carrying a gun, and he knew how to use one responsibly, unlike other civillian security officers. Perhaps he should have gone into law enforcement. Then he remembered his paycheck. Oh. Yeah. That's why he hadn't enrolled in the police academy.
He looked back at the security guard, who smartly stood at attention and saluted. The gesture made him smile. Perhaps this day wouldn't turn out so badly. He turned to the woman, bowed again, and invited her to follow him with a motion of his hand. He walked down the stairs, very careful not to do anything that would frighten the woman behind him. Leading the way through the corridors, he opened the door to his temporary office (usually occupied by the head of security for this particular hotel, but vacated for his use) and allowed her to enter before him. He looked back at the security guard who had followed them.
"Bring tea and refreshment for the madam. Dismissed."
The other man turned sharply on his heel and walked back down the hall. Seuk Gi hid a grin and softly shut the door to office behind him. He took a seat in the cushy chair behind the desk, and set his hands on top of the desk, where she could see them. He wanted it to be clear that he had no intention to harm her. He studied her for a moment before he cleared his throat and began to speak.
"I think I understand a little of your history, now that I have seen your... er... ex-husband? I am sorry that you felt threatened in our hotel. S Hotels strives to ensure that all of our costumers feel safe during their stay. Please accept our apology on that account. But you are also a person of interest. What was in the package you carried earlier? And who was it delivered to? Please cooperate. You will be unharmed, but for the safety of everyone here, I must know. Tell me all that you can, ma'am."
got to find my corner of the skyi've got to be where my spirit can run freeMin Young’s eyes followed him as he went to take a seat behind the desk that dominated the focus of the room. She stayed near the wall herself, too frightened and too cautious to want to move any closer. She watched him until he started watching her, then she broke her gaze so that it flicked about the room instead. She would rather look anywhere than at him.It was odd, a small voice mused at the back of her mind, for most other women being in a room with this security guard, who had insofar shown her every courtesy, nothing would be the matter. For her, it was like a nightmare. She was going to be deported. Or arrested. Or thrown out. Or given back to her bastard husband. Or something. Husband. He stumbled a little over what to call Ho Min. Technically, yes, he was her husband. But they had never gotten a divorce. That would never have worked. He’d have never agreed to it. They were just…they just…were. And she didn’t want anything to do with the rat bastard, not anymore, not since a long time ago, really. Looking back on it, she hadn’t really loved him since he started to break her.Min Young decided not to comment on the husband matter. Not that he gave her much of a chance to say anything. He rolled right along to the issue more at hand now that Ho Min was out of the way. Wonderful. She bit her bottom lip at the idea of being a person of interest. That was never a good thing, was it? It wasn’t on police shows, anyways. She’d never been in any real trouble before. All that she knew was from television and the media, where a ‘person of interest’ seemed more like a label they used for people who they suspected and would eventually arrest for whatever crime had been committed.She stayed quiet and very still for a good ten seconds after he finished speaking, weighing her options in her mind. What was worse? What really were her options, here? She was backed into a corner, at least figuratively. She wouldn’t mind a physical corner, either. Having her back against the wall seemed to be a good place for her. Min Young took a breath. ”I don’t…know.” She said softly, then paused. ”I don’t know what was in it.” He could probably hear the Busan lilt to the uncertainty in her voice. Not for the first time she cursed it; people here in Seoul were so exclusive, they all sounded the same. Her accent only made her stick out more. And sticking out was the last thing she wanted to do. It was just more evidence against her having a valid reason to be in the city, let alone the hotel.Who was the package delivered to? That was another question entirely. Her best guess would be mobsters. They were well-dressed men who gave off an intimidating feel. They hadn’t said or done anything from the moment she’d walked into the room except to hand her the money and take the package from her, then tell her to leave. ”Three men, in room 613.” She figured belatedly that he would already know the room number, but she didn’t exactly have much more information than that. Except...”It wasn’t heavy.” She offered with a slight grimace. And it didn’t feel like anything immediately dangerous, anyways. But then, it could have been padded with a huge amount of bubble wrap or padding, so that wasn’t much good. 589 words, outfitcoded by fickle!tribble of caution2.0 & atf
He sighed as she confessed that she did not know what was in the package she had delivered. He was afraid of that. A clearly nervous woman carrying an unknown parcel instinctively set off more warning bells. Why would someone ever agree to a job like that? Didn't people understand the potential danger they could cause with ignorant compliance to would-be criminals? In hostage situations, he understood. Was she embroiled in some kind of trouble as a hostage? She willingly had run from her husband, that much was clear, but it did not tell him the company she now entertained. Altogether, he wasn't too hopeful that it was a friendly old couple or casual friendships with an honest citizen. He nodded when she mentioned the room and picked up the phone, calling to the head of security for this hotel.
"Call the police. Suspicious activity in room 613, three men, possibly armed. Warn them to be ready for anything from drugs to bombs. And have them come quietly to the back. We wouldn't want to scare any of our guests. I will lead them to Room 613 myself when they arrive."
He hung up the phone and looked at the woman seated at the desk across from him. She seemed like a good woman. Scared and desperate, too desperate to look closely at an offered job. He could understand that, though he felt frustrated just the same. Frustrated at the way people had taken advantage of her and how that could lead to possible harm and injury to others, under his care and protection at S Hotels. He leveled his serious gaze on her.
"I don't wish to further alarm you, but I will need you to remain here while I investigate the situation with the police. Now I don't know exactly what may be happening in that room, but it's clear to me, and to you as well,I think, that it is a far sight from legal. Do you have any more information about these men that could save the police and myself from any harm? Any information would be helpful. Perhaps about your employer?"
The number of men was good, but it would be better to know her opinions on the sort of men he would be dealing with, whether or not they are armed, and if she had met any of them before. Even the nature of her employer would give some clue. He suspected that the person sending the package would be of the same caliber of character.