Jae-young’s lips curved with an air of self-satisfaction as he surveyed the aftermath of the trial. When Hyun-seong called him out, he responded with a nonchalant shrug, his face devoid of shame.
“Yes? Why? It ended earlier than I expected. Good job,” he remarked, a smug tone tinging his words.
“Follow me,” Hyun-seong’s voice held a stern edge, causing a momentary twitch in Jae-young’s composure. Yet, the power dynamics of their relationship remained unaltered, with Jae-young clearly holding the upper hand.
Reluctantly, Jae-young trailed behind Hyun-seong, who emanated an aura as cold as the depths of winter, as they exited the courtroom. Observing their departure, Yi-soo found herself rooted to the witness stand, her fingers absently grazing her forehead.
Recanted testimonies weren’t unheard of. While not commonplace, stress or coercion could lead to slip-ups. However, Jeong Su-bin didn’t fit that profile. Her testimony’s retraction was undoubtedly influenced by the defendant.
Had she been bought off with money? Or perhaps someone close to her was being held captive to ensure her compliance? A maelstrom of thoughts swirled in Yi-soo’s mind, and a growing sense of unease gnawed at her. The unease translated to a parched sensation in her mouth, leaving it dry and uncomfortable.
Though they needed to vacate the courtroom for the upcoming trial, Yi-soo’s steps felt laborious. A heavy sigh escaped her lips. A mere fine? Was that the extent of the consequences for someone who had shown such disregard for others’ humanity?
Most concerning was Dong-yeong’s reaction. He had vanished from the courtroom as soon as the verdict was rendered. To Prosecutor Yi-soo, Dong-yeong was one of countless victims she encountered in her line of work. Yet, in Dong-yeong’s eyes, Yi-soo represented his first interaction with a prosecutor. Unconsciously, she reached for her handkerchief and exited the courtroom.
Today’s defeat etched itself deeply into her memory, a bitter taste she knew would linger.
“I’ve got plans with my friends. Do we really need to drag this out here? Aren’t we done with each other now?” Jae-young’s voice dripped with indifference as he addressed Hyun-seong.
“Mr. Seo Jae-young.”
Hyun-seong’s tone held a thread of steel, an unyielding edge that contrasted with Jae-young’s nonchalance.
“Don’t give me that stern look. I’ll toss in a little extra to the Yoon & Kang account later. I don’t get why you’re so worked up, but if you’re talking about that woman from earlier…”
They stood beneath the grand central staircase, a symbolic hub of the courthouse. Every day, a sea of people flowed through its steps, each with their own story and purpose. Jae-young’s gaze swept over the individuals below, and a sinister grin slowly crept onto his lips. His shoulders shrugged casually, as if the gravity of the situation held no sway over him.
“Yeah, okay, I’ll admit I might have stirred the pot a bit beforehand. But let’s be honest, it worked out well for us, didn’t it? You should be thanking me, actually.”
Hyun-seong’s gaze remained fixed on Jae-young, his eyes growing darker, swirling with an intensity that couldn’t be contained. With a calculated step forward, he loomed over Jae-young. The cocky smirk that had adorned Jae-young’s face vanished, replaced by a flicker of apprehension. It was an instinctive response, a recognition of the sheer presence Hyun-seong exuded.
Standing at nearly six feet tall, his commanding stature seemed to stretch even higher, accentuated by his broad shoulders. The cold aura he projected sent a shiver through the air, making it impossible to ignore his dominance in the space.
Jae-young’s earlier bravado dwindled, and a touch of unease danced in his eyes. Despite his attempts to control the narrative, he now stood face to face with an undeniable force.
“Well, well. Planning to throw a punch, attorney?”
Hyun-seong’s voice remained steady, almost unaffected by Jae-young’s attempts to provoke him. He maintained a composed demeanor, looking down at Jae-young without a hint of agitation.
“Yeah, sure. Let’s chalk it up to your victory celebration, shall we? But why keep me in the dark? Did you relish the idea of watching me squirm in front of the judge?”
Jae-young’s response carried a hint of mischief, as if he found amusement in the situation. He leaned against the railing of the staircase, his expression a mixture of nonchalance and arrogance.
“Oh, that? Right. I guess I wanted to see you stumble a bit. I was prepared to take a hit, to let myself be embarrassed. But you know what? People turned out to be disappointingly predictable. How can you manage to be consistently bland, even in a moment like that? I had no intention of falling short of the shock factor I had planned. But still, that’s one thing I respect about you.”
Despite Jae-young’s verbal prodding, Hyun-seong remained unfazed, his gaze unwavering. This wasn’t his first encounter with entitled individuals who flaunted their wealth and privilege.
Hyun-seong’s upbringing hadn’t left him weak-willed, despite growing up in comfort, unlike many of these “spoiled brats.” The real challenge lay in how far he’d let them push the boundaries before reining them in.
“No matter how you slice it, a complete acquittal was unlikely. Well, I did land a punch on the guy’s face, so assault makes more sense. A friend of mine, Jung Hyun, had a similar case. He got slapped with a 200 fine for assault and that was the end of it. I can manage to part with around 200 as if it’s a charity donation to the state. The old-timers might grumble that their ‘red line’ has been crossed, but that’s of no concern to me.”
Jae-young’s words carried an air of amusement, his actions betraying his cavalier attitude as he casually unbuttoned his shirt a couple of notches from the collar. His eyes, those narrow crescent slits, seemed to glint mischievously at the edges.