“Besides… I have a hunch that the fellow in the headlines would find being fined for assault even more vexing than being fully acquitted. I’m naturally a tad exceptional. But that’s something you’d understand, considering I’m a Yoon & Kang client. This outcome suits me quite nicely, I’d say.”
Hyun-seong’s voice, though even and cool, carried a note of skepticism. Jae-young’s smirk seemed to widen as he continued his spiel.
“I’ll transfer the gratitude fee to Yoon & Kang today. You’ve been a bit of a thorn in my side, but you’re not all that bad, Attorney Yoon Hyun-seong. I’m off.”
Jae-young’s stride was confident, almost arrogant, as he turned to leave. However, he didn’t get far before his name, spoken in a low but commanding tone, stopped him in his tracks.
The utterance hung in the air, carrying the weight of authority. Jae-young’s nonchalant facade flickered for a split second as he looked back at Hyun-seong. What met his gaze was a cold, unyielding stare that sent a shiver down his spine.
“Do you think you’re the first or second person of your kind I’ve encountered?”
“Huh? What are you…”
“It’s as if everyone in the world should bow down at your feet. You seem to think you can breeze through life heedless of consequences.”
Hyun-seong’s voice was calm yet cutting, his tone dripping with disdain. He loosened his tie and cocked his head slightly, a subtle movement that sent an instinctual message to Jae-young—keep your distance.
Though a part of Jae-young expected a blow to come next, Hyun-seong showed no intention of striking him. Engaging in a physical altercation with the likes of Jae-young would be a futile exercise, causing only pain to himself. Moreover, what could be gained by descending to Jae-young’s level?
A faint hint of redness touched Hyun-seong’s lips, a thin line of vermilion tracing its path. He spoke again, his words dripping with indifference.
“It won’t be long before your fall comes. It wouldn’t hurt to live with a bit more dignity, even if just for show. Not that I expect you to comprehend.”
With those seemingly casual words, Hyun-seong moved past Jae-young, leaving him in a state of bewilderment. The advice he left behind was fitting for someone who possessed just enough common sense to understand its value.
Maintaining his impeccable 100% success rate didn’t bring the usual sense of accomplishment today. Hyun-seong walked with his briefcase in hand, the weight of a troubling unease tugging at his thoughts. A lawyer’s duty was to act in the best interests of the client, but when deceit marred the process with lies, it was hard for him to feel entirely at peace. His mind felt entangled, like a knot that refused to be undone.
Just as he was about to descend the staircase, a familiar voice cut through the air, pulling his attention back. “Lawyer Yoon, I think we need to have a conversation.” It was Yi-soo, and Hyun-seong turned slightly to meet her gaze. Should they really discuss this here, in such a public space? However, Yi-soo seemed undeterred by the prying eyes around them and went straight to the heart of the matter.
“Ms. Jeong Su-bin. Did Yoon & Kang bribe her? You must be aware that her testimony amounted to perjury.”
Hyun-seong’s voice held a touch of feigned innocence, though he knew exactly what Yi-soo was referring to. Her words prodded at the discomfort he’d been feeling since the trial ended. His posture remained poised, but beneath the surface, his thoughts churned. Were his actions really justifiable?
“Why play this game? You’re not a novice. Let’s at least be truthful within the walls of the courtroom. Aren’t we the ones entrusted with upholding the law and justice?”
A wry smile escaped Yi-soo’s lips, as if she wanted to break the tension that had settled between them. The scenario of manipulating a witness, coaxing perjury, and then objecting with a composed facade appeared to leave a bitter taste in her mouth. The trust she had placed in Hyun-seong seemed to fray, replaced by a feeling of betrayal.
She was well aware that prestigious law firms like Yoon & Kang often earned the title of “chaebol minions.” Yi-soo herself had received attractive offers from these big firms upon her graduation from law school. Yet, her decision to pursue the path of a prosecutor was driven by a yearning for justice rather than personal gain.
“Nonetheless, being so provocative isn’t exactly helping matters. I plan on filing an appeal. I don’t know if I’ll stay associated with Yoon & Kang, but if you continue acting this way in the upcoming trial, it’s going to be quite a challenge.”
“Given that I won’t be handling the appeal, I’ll leave it at the warning.”
“Why? Feeling a pang of conscience now? If that’s the case, you should have maintained fairness from the very beginning.”
The loss itself stung, but it was the deep-seated disappointment in Hyun-seong that lingered most in Yi-soo’s mind. Having observed him since their law school days, she had held him in high regard as a lawyer capable of sound judgment. Even if her motivations were diverse, this respect for his character was a factor in her engagement to him.
Hyun-seong let out a brief sigh, swept his bangs to the side, and began to speak. There was a substantial misunderstanding that needed clearing, though he knew it might come across as an excuse. Still, he couldn’t let Yi-soo continue with this misconception.
“Prosecutor Seo, regarding the witness—”
But then, a chilling ‘thud!’ cut through the air, jolting their conversation to a halt. Hyun-seong swiftly turned his head, his sentence unfinished. The sound of something heavy hitting the ground filled the space nearby.
Simultaneously, an ear-piercing shriek rent the air, sending a jolt through their senses.
“Aaah! Wh-who…! Someone, someone, please come here!”
Instinct often propels actions before reason fully catches up. With a fraction of an exchanged glance, Hyun-seong, momentarily halted in his explanation, abruptly swiveled his head. The sensation of something substantial crashing to the ground reached him.
In tandem with that cacophonous scream, which cut through the atmosphere like a knife, came its shriller twin.
“Ah, ah, aaaaah! N-no, who…! Here, please come here!”
At times, the body becomes a vessel for action before the mind can formulate a plan. In that heartbeat, Hyun-seong’s eyes locked onto Yi-soo’s, and then, propelled by urgency, he surged toward the source of the outcry. Yi-soo trailed closely, seeking to steady her racing heart with measured inhales.
And there, what they stumbled upon was more brutal and gut-wrenching than anything they could have imagined. Yi-soo’s wide eyes mirrored the shock that seized her heart.
“Mr. Gi Dong-yeong…?”