Chapter 17 - Calm Before the Storm
“It’s not like I can turn back time. Sh*t,” Yoonshin muttered to himself. As he thought back to his conversation with Sehun, he felt a surge of curiosity.
If someone were born an enigma, it would be Sehun. Yoonshin had never seen a person who had everything like Sehun. He was tall and slim yet well-built, which made him look stylish in anything. Additionally, he had fine features that appealed to everyone. The cherry on top was that Sehun had exceptional metacognition, quick thinking, a daring personality, and excellent conversational skills—there was nothing he lacked. Really, he was perfect on the surface.
Sehun had so much going for him, yet Yoonshin couldn’t figure out why the other was so uncompassionate.
Yoonshin came to Doguk feeling resolute, but things just didn’t seem to work out for him even before he could start anything. To begin with, Sehun and Yoonshin had disparate values, and the older man seemed to recognize this fact as well.
“I knew you would be like this. That’s why I was so against hiring you.”
Yoonshin squatted down to pick up his cracked mug and mumbled to himself, sounding defeated, “I won’t get fired in a month, right?”
The face of his sister, who strongly requested that he go to Doguk, floated in his vision, and Yoonshin hung his head.
The main conference room could seat tens of people. In the middle of that room, there was an oval-shaped wooden table that could seat over 20 people. With the projector on one of the long edges of the table, executive office chairs filled with special material lined the opposite side, and in front of each seat on top of the tables was a mic and tablet.
Behind the executive team’s seats were two rows of regular leather office chairs for the associates and support staff. Sophisticated-looking amplifiers and other electronic devices flanked the seats, which added to the dignified appearance of the room. Apparently, important meetings requiring the attendance of the firm’s partners took place in this room. The costly items that filled this space were as classy as their users.
If that was all there was to this room, Yoonshin, who grew up comfortably and without lacking anything, wouldn’t have felt so intimidated.
His complicated feelings were aimed at the abstract artwork hanging on the back wall of the room, behind the central seat of the table.
‘Where have I seen that piece before? I’m sure I read an article that it was sold at an auction a few years ago,’ Yoonshin thought.
Works by artists so famous that one only heard the news about them from overseas auctions well exceeded several billion dollars at the least. The fact that such an expensive piece was not in the director’s office, partner’s office, nor any of the reception rooms, but in a mere conference room used only by employees escaped Yoonshin. The formless figures in the piece swirled around and scorned him.
It occurred to him that he was possibly at an important fork in the road, so he felt tenser than when he stood before the court. To stay focused, he pursed his lips and his fingers glided over the trackpad. Then, he opened the simple presentation slides that he had prepared in advance, projecting them onto the screen at the front of the room. The slides presented the evidence related to the cases and organized the issues in a readable format.
Work hadn’t officially started for the day yet. Yoonshin came to the conference room in advance to prepare for his test. His face was fraught with fatigue. This excessively extravagant place was psychologically stressful, but the biggest reason was that he was unable to sleep a wink for the past two days and nights.
When he got up slightly, he felt his vision spin. Not only was he unable to sleep, but for all the time as humanly possible, Yoonshin read words and organized the content like crazy, so his fatigue accumulated. He barely managed to straighten his back when the door opened from outside. Secretary Tak entered the room.
Secretary Tak brought the printouts that Yoonshin requested and set one copy at each seat. Then, he handed a piping hot cup of coffee in front of Yoonshin. “Please drink this. I made it extra strong, so you’ll feel like you’re wide awake.”
Yoonshin rubbed his face with his hands and gave the other man an extremely grateful face before taking the cup. “I won’t forget your kindness. Please pass along my thanks to the office manager for coming out early to help me as well.”
“Don’t mention it. I only did what I should.”
“But I’m not officially a lawyer at this firm yet. Strictly speaking, you have no reason to help me—not yet at least.”
Secretary Tak smiled gently and replied, “But I was wondering, did you read all those documents? There were well over ten thousand sheets of A4 paper. I know because I was the one who prepared all the papers.”
“Honestly, the volume of documents was too extensive, so I couldn’t read through it completely. I separated them by categories and selectively read the important parts. That’s why I’m a bit worried.” Yoonshin took a sip after responding, and as he did so, Secretary Tak carefully examined Yoonshin’s outfit. The young lawyer’s white shirt sleeves were rolled up and his necktie hung awkwardly, making his outfit an overall mess. It could have been okay if that was all, but the true issue was elsewhere.
“You probably didn’t sleep that much. It seems like you barely managed to wash in the shower room, right?” Secretary Tak probed.
“Yes. Is there a problem with that? I saw that some people on the upper and lower floors stayed here overnight.”
“No, that’s not an issue, but I recommend you bring some spare clothes from now on. He can’t stand to see people wearing the same thing twice.”
“You mean Senior Attorney Kang?” Yoonshin was taken aback because the secretary simply shrugged, implying that there was nobody else he could have been talking about. Knowing Sehun based on what Yoonshin observed, he didn’t seem like he would be interested in what the associates wore. “He cares about what an associate lawyer wears?”
“Not particularly, but because his memory is quite good… If he sees someone two days in a row and that person is wearing the same clothes, I think because he processes an extreme amount of work, he feels like he’s doing the same work as the other day. Like he’s repeating a day, I guess? I remember that he pointed this out to another junior in the past.”
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