Chapter 15 - Friction
While Yoonshin walked to the end of the hall, footsteps on the opposite side of the seventh floor grew closer. They belonged to Sehun, who had left the building at around nine in the evening for a last-minute client meeting.
Sehun had only returned because he left something at his office, but upon his return, he realized that Yoonshin’s room was still lit and that his door was ajar. Sehun reflexively followed the light.
When he pushed the door wide open, the first thing he saw was the acrylic dry erase board with the timeline of events scrawled on each side. The main events were listed chronologically with key details below; it was as organized as a model student’s excellent note-taking habits. All the evidence and issues—including the documents used by the prosecutor at trial, the firm’s reply, and the prosecutor’s counter-reply documents—were listed in simple and concise language.
Even for Sehun, who knew the general outline of the cases but not the details, the notes were organized in a way that he could see the flow of the case with one glance. To exaggerate slightly, he thought he could study this and make arguments at court with it.
Yoonshin was given merely two days. If he could do this much after looking through thousands of documents by himself, Sehun needed to concede to the truth.
“B+?” Sehun assigned a letter grade like an examiner and then stared quietly at the dry erase board before he corrected himself. “No, A-.”
He ambled into the room and grabbed a pile of documents among the ones scattered around the table. Looking at the first page, it seemed like Yoonshin had written his opinions on the strengths and weaknesses of each piece of evidence to be used at trial for each case.
“But his mindset is still that of an outsider. How can I teach him?” he muttered to himself and prepared to flip to the next page.
Clack, clack. The sound of dress shoes approached the room. As the presence drew closer, Sehun turned toward the door. Yoonshin, who was surprised to see this unexpected guest, gripped his mug tightly and his eyes became saucers. He must have washed his face because his skin looked paler, even more like the pearly skin of a child than usual.
“Attorney Kang? What are you doing here, at this time of day…? I thought you went home immediately after your meeting.”
“Hey, Fourth-year. Shouldn’t you be getting off work?”
“Oh, yes. I think I need to pull an all-nighter tonight. My eyelids were getting heavy, so I splashed some water on my face. By the way, how long are you going to continue calling me ‘Fourth-year’? You know I have a name. At this rate, everyone will forget it.”
Sehun smirked derisively. “I’m just trying my best to be polite since I’m a bit stranger-shy.”
“So, you’re calling me ‘Fourth-year’ instead of my name?”
“Nobody at the firm calls you by your name anyways. They all call you the nepotism hire.”
It had been a month since Yoonshin entered the firm. Throughout this time, nobody approached him, so initially, he thought that the firm culture was just indifferent. However, as he repeatedly saw groups of people stealing glances at him and whispering amongst each other, he realized that was not the case. He was being ostracized in a way. Just as Sehun had said, it was because he was hired through nepotism. “I guessed as much. Secretary Tak said that on my first day at work, my profile was passed around the entire building. Should I ask for my room to be moved, then?”
“Deal with that issue yourself. And if you want to be called by your name, surprise me.”
“Then, I will need some time.”
“Sometimes it’s interesting that you know your place, very uncharacteristic of a young master like yourself.” When he finished talking, Sehun took a few steps toward Yoonshin. Yoonshin didn’t know why, but he took a few steps back without thinking. Somehow, his back ended up bumping into the wall. The door beside him was wide open.
Sehun stood mere inches in front of him, and his large hands entered Yoonshin’s vision, which soon slammed the door shut.
Slam. Left in the enclosed space together, Yoonshin felt the air in this room grow bizarrely heavier. This wasn’t the first time the partner acted like this out of the blue, but Yoonshin was still tense. Unlike before, whatever happened in this room, there was nobody else to look inside.
Nervously, Yoonshin looked up at Sehun, who was standing in front of him. Yoonshin’s look didn’t bother Sehun as he reached his hand out and touched the younger man’s lush eyelashes. There was still some moisture beaded on his lashes—Sehun pressed Yoonshin’s lips with his fourth finger, wiping off the wetness.
“Urgh, what are you…?” Yoonshin was so surprised by the sudden contact that the mug in his hand ended up slipping, making it drop to the ground.
The cup spun, wobbling like a top losing kinetic energy before tipping over and laying on its side, spilling the black coffee. The liquid trickled to the feet of the men. Yoonshin wanted to crouch down to mop up the puddle of coffee with some tissues, but Sehun reached out and stopped him. “Don’t move. I’m not done talking yet.”
“But I think this needs to be cleaned up first.”
“I decide the order of matters, and an associate follows my orders.” Along with his self-righteous reply, Sehun grabbed and lifted Yoonshin’s smooth chin and carefully examined Yoonshin’s still-moist eyes. The other’s gaze was stubborn and tenacious. Yoonshin felt his body tensing everywhere the other’s gaze landed on.
Why was this man doing this?
Yoonshin could not understand for the life of him why this man appeared so suddenly and acted like this.
He felt exposed and tried to pacify his growing embarrassment when Sehun threw him a vague question. “It’s bloodshot. Why?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m tired,” Yoonshin shot back.
“Is that all?”
“Should I have another reason?”
“I certainly don’t know. You should do your own work properly.” Sehun narrowed his eyes and released Yoonshin’s chin forcefully. However, his gaze remained fixated on the clean face of the younger.
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