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Athena's Vengeance

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"Logan, you have to return home", secretary Hong pleaded.

"Absolutely not. And you should have known that". Logan was tired of this conversation. Secretary Hong was tasked with reporting his whereabouts to his parents, but he covered for him. That didn't mean he didn't speak his mind.

"Your parents' patience has run out. They gave you a year to pursue your side project-"

"Law's not a side project, it's my-"

"-but they're expecting you to be at the helm of Lee corporations by next financial quarter. That's next month."

Logan let out a humourless chuckle at his family's secretary. His parents had a special talent in belittling him while expecting him to follow their orders. Everything had to fit to their vision and if it didn't, they forced it. Like a prince, cutting off Cinderella's toes to fit the glass heel now drenched in blood. This is what they've done with his life, molding him into a cynical businessman and when his body's weakness threatened his company position, they bought the blood of a child to infuse him with. All for the family name, even though their family was broken.

"Tell them I'd rather be broke and homeless than return to them. I don't care if they've cut me off, I still have a few things on my name and I'll do everything in my power to to make them pay too. They won't harm me, after all the crimes they did to keep my body alive."

"They won't harm you, but they'll make your life hell. They have contacts everywhere, you know that. They're closer than you think", he presses.

That gives Logan pause. If they discover where he lives and how he spends his nights gathering intel on criminals associated with them, they'd destroy his plan. And with that, his only chance at redemption.

"What do you mean close? Do they have eyes on me?"

"Most of the day", the secretary said evasively.

The university, Logan connects the dots. They must have people inside and watch his moves. And he's made some moves on the criminology department. At the department head, specifically. A head with lonely brown eyes that turn fiery when she talks about justice. Will she get caught in his parents web?

--

He sits through the afternoon class, an hour on financial law related to business malpractices. There's a coffee and a heart shaped apple candy in a pink wrapper on the seat he's usually occupying and when he looks up, he meets a familiar pair of eyes. Sun Oh is smiling at him from a few seats away, a few of her friends laughing at her attempted cuteness. Dread fills him, cause she's unknowingly attracting attention to him and there's no polite way to reject someone's advances without a satisfying reason. And the reason can't be that he's so enthralled by his professor that even though he suspects her to be involved with the same criminals she claims to pursue, he can't stop thinking about her.

He leaves the coffee untouched.

---

Couples are walking hand in hand, enjoying the sunny afternoon on campus with lazy strolls and impromptu dates. In contrast to the warm atmosphere, Logan is sitting on a bench, sulking at his laptop.

That's when he sees her.

A form fitting woollen dress hugs her figure, ending in a flowing skirt of warm brown tones. A suit jacket with patched elbows is loosely draped around her exposed shoulders and a silk scarf complete her college professor look. As she heads unhurriedly to the building entrance near to where he's sitting, he can see her bold chain necklace swaying rythmically along the movement of her chest. She sports a matching ring, on the finger that's currently captured in her husband's larger hand.

Logan grimaces. The scene unfolding before him was custom made to torture him. Ju Dan Tae, the man whose real estate empire could have been erected by shady deals with gangs, this man was escorting his prosecutor wife to the law building, where she'd give a lecture on how to catch criminals like him.

He groaned as the puzzle of Shim Su Ryeon was getting more and more unintelligible in his mind. Was she blissfully unaware of his nefarious practices or was she supporting and benefitting from them? He needed to get closer to her in order to solve that riddle.

Very close, his traitorous mind blurts.

Very close to the woman who was all smiles to that man, letting him pat her hair and accepting a kiss on her cheek as he was saying goodbye. She even batted her eyelashes, something the husband rewarded with a disgusting smirk.

She watched him leave with the same joyful expression. But when Ju Dan Tae turned away from her, and just before Logan was convinced she was of the same cloth as her husband, her smile fell. For a moment only, the mask dropped and he saw revulsion marring her features. She looked at her husband's figure moving away as if the curtain closed and she didn't have to pretend to love him anymore.

A second later, she'd scolded her expression back to normal. It's as if he hadn't witnessed the fight inside her eyes. She continued walking cheerfully as nothing happened, greeting students along her way. She nodded a greeting to him when she passed in front of his bench, fully unaware that she'd just complicated things for him even more.

---

His motorcycle is parked way outside the campus. Logan has a job to do now, as the night falls and even the more studious students have gone home, no doubt to revise once more.

The darkness gives him cover as he slips into the main building from a back entrance. Secretary Hong, for all his pestering is a resourceful man, having provided him with an passcode machine for unlocking the doors.

There's no one inside the building. The moonlight shines through the glass ceiling, helping him in his mission. Only the securities guard should be inside at this hour, and he's planning to sneak past him and acquire his target. The camera control broom is far down the basement and he's eager to get his hands on the incriminating video.

He'll surely find something. He can sense it.

With careful steps he reaches the library section and heads for the stairs, his frame sticking to the walls. He descends the stairs and the modern layout of the university gives its place to a massive dark basement full of wires and machines. There's barely any room to walk, as the wires form a jungle around him. Boxes of electronic equipment are hanging from the shelves and obscuring his view. It's chaos and abandonment rolled into a crowded space.

He can see the door of the control room at a distance. A sliver of blue light is emanating from below the door. He approaches it quietly, as he sidesteps paper boxes on the floor. The moment his hand almost touches the handle, the door suddenly springs open and a huge man in a security vest appears. He's not looking at him yet, checking the lock inside the door but Logan is frozen on the spot, utterly terrified of being caught.

The next seconds several things happen at once. The night guard turns to look at his direction. But he doesn't catch Logan there. Before he realises, a hand comes out of the darkness and pulls Logan's arm, pushing him out of the guard's sight and straight into a wall. A body quickly covers his, cornering but not touching, except the same hand now covering his lips to keep him silent. As the guard waves his flashlight around idly, satisfied that the sound he heard wasn't anything suspicious, Logan slows down his heart beat and moves his eyes to the cape wearing figure who saved him. The person's eyes are obstructed by a large black hood and as they slowly turn their head up to him, the movement makes the hood fall off.

Hidden behind the shelves of the basement, he meets the piercing eyes of Shim Su Ryeon.

---

Time is suspended in the few seconds the guard walks around the room. Logan and Su Ryeon don't utter a word, both looking at each other with bewilderment. Two people who definitely shouldn't be there, tangled together. Su Ryeon lowers her hand but still keeps her gaze at him. Logan exhales deeply to calm his breath and assess the situation. He looks at the woman in front of him, all in black with over the knee strapped leather boots, pushing his body out of the way and he struggles to process it. The only thing he registers is that she's so close, he can smell her elegant perfume. Her figure is smaller but it's impossible to ignore. She's right in front of him, the shelves around them confining their bodies into a tiny space. They're almost moulded together. If he were to angle his head a little down, he could trace the shell of her ear with his lips.

The security guard makes a noise and returns to the room, the bang of the door echoing behind him.

"What are you doing here?" Su Ryeon hisses as soon as they're out of ear shot. "He could have seen you. Do you know how dangerous this is?"

"What are you doing here?" He asks back, still shocked.

"Logan!" Even when she whispers, she's commanding. She searches his eyes for an answer he's unwilling to give. He can't tell her the truth after all. Not when his reason involves her.

"Can I explain later, when we're not a moment away from being caught by a large man with a taser?" He evades.

"Didn't you think of that before you trespassed university grounds?", She retorts. "And the guard will finish his shift in half an hour, so as long as you're quiet I won't let him taser you. But you will tell me right now what are you looking for."

Logan looks around for answers, the dark basement offering him none.

"How do you know you won't suspend me? Then I'll be a college dropout and you'll know my secret too."

"Start talking or suspension will be the least of your problems", she retorts.

"Is that a threat?" He asks defiantly.

"If you don't give me one good reason why you're breaking in the camera room of your university in the middle of the night by the time the guard comes out again, in about twenty minutes, I'll deal with your punishment personally."

Logan huffs out a breath as he rests his head on the wall behind him. She's trapped him in every way. And he doesn't hate it.

"My parents have people to spy on me. I suspect it's someone inside the university and I want the tapes to prove it", he offers to appease her.

"Because you left home? You want me to believe that?"

"It's more than that." He makes a pained expression. "It's why I left home". He finds intrigue in her face. He's going to give her something, danger be damned. "Remember what I told you the first time we talked? About being aware of a crime long after the fact? My parents did it."

She raises her brows.

"I left the US and came here to study law to bring them all to justice. They know I want to punish them for what they did, that's why I'm hiding from them and from everyone. If they find me, they'll never pay. They'll leave scar free and richer than ever. I'm the only obstacle on their path."

Su Ryeon stays silent, contemplating his words.

"Do you mean they'll harm you when they find you?"

"No, they'll shut me up. They have ways. Anything to discredit me as a person so that my testimony wouldn't hold up in court. They tried to give me a huge share of their money and the family's corporation if I didn't mention it again. Change it all to my name. But I couldn't do it. Not after what they did."He can't hide his pained expression, even in the darkness of the room. She's close enough to capture every detail of his face, as he doing with hers.

Her eyes are coloured with disbelief and she fires more questions at him, the lawyer inside her bursting out.

"And how do you know they have a person inside the campus? What were you planning on finding in the camera roll?"

"I don't know, anything suspicious", he says exasperated. "I know every one of my father's trusted people, if they're here, I'd recognise them." He turns to her, pleading. "I have to know, Su Ryeon Ssi, you don't know what they're capable of".

She leans on the metal shelf behind her, averting her gaze.

"You don't know what it's like to be afraid inside your home. To live with a person who'd stop at nothing to get what they want." She turns to look at him, something breaking inside her eyes. "Even if this means putting their own children in danger", he whispers.

Her eyes linger on his as if to say "I do know". She hides pain in them. It's as if she recognises every word he's confessing. She continues tracing his face with her eyes in silence. The she swallows and pushes her shoulders back.

"I will not say anything about why you're here, provided that you're telling the truth about your family and you forget you saw me here too", she proposes.

"I am. And I can't forget you". If the last part came out wrong -or not wrong at all- she doesn't acknowledge it.

"We'll wait thirty minutes and right in the shift change we'll have a ten minute window to access the room. We'll copy the feed and go. No more than that and you'll destroy the copy as soon as you're done, whether you find something or not. Are we clear?"

"I want to inspect the copy, destroying it would-"

"Logan." His name never sounded so beautiful as when she gritted it. She puts her hand on his arm, the touch burning through three layers of clothes. "Can I trust you?", she implores.

The real question is, can I trust you?

He ponders whether he can give her an honest answer. To tell her to trust him he'd need to be sure of her motivation. He isn't.

"Your instincts are correct, you shouldn't trust anyone else. But I promise you I'll do what you want now. And I'll keep trying to earn your trust."

"Do you still want to work for me?"

"More than anything".

That's the truest thing he had said so far. If she's guilty, he'll discover her involvement, if she's innocent and was chasing the criminals, he'll help her bring them down. In any case, he wanted to be with her.

She seems to accept his affirmation. Slowly, he brings his hand up and touches the front of her hood. The heavy wool is clasped together with a beautiful silver broach. Her ivory neck is peeking behind it. He sees it moving as she shallows, acutely aware of his hand.

"Isn't it dangerous for you to be here? Whatever you're trying to find, is it worth being caught? You have your name and it's your career at stake", he whispers.

She debates what she's willing to share.

"I suspect my husband is affiliated with a professor here. The cameras outside her office would catch him and then I'd have proof".

He can't believe she's risking her position for a suspects affair.

"Is that what you're trying to find? Evidence of cheating? I don't believe that about you."

She scowls. "What is it to not believe? People are not always how they appear, Logan. You don't know what's happening behind closed doors. Not that it's any of your business". She fumes and punctuates her last point with a growl.

"No, I meant that if you suspected an affair, you'd have trapped them into revealing it themselves. You're smarter than sneaking into the university at night and looking for the feed of her office, as if they'd be that careless to do it in your place of work. If there's an affair, you already know it. It's not why you came here today." He searches her eyes and pleads, "Please, Su Ryeon Ssi, tell me the truth".

He comes close but doesn't touch her and his large frame hovers over hers. She has that pull on him, it's magnetic. He wishes he could hear her inner voice, find her secrets and treasure them forever. He's in this purgatory of not knowing if she's on the side of justice or on the side of crime. She's standing between heaven and hell and something inside tells him he'd follow her to both.

He sees the exact moment she takes a leap of faith.

"My husband is a vile man. I didn't always knew it, but I had a burn in my chest every time he disappeared into his private office. Or when he called the kids there. For a long time, I didn't know why he married me. I already had a child, a child who's sick and I was a widow. I was working day and night as a prosecutor, but he didn't mind anything and said he'd give me the best life. He was good to me, that's why I'd been so blind." Tears start to form in her gleaming eyes and she lowers herself to sit on a cupboard. "If I listened to my instincts and payed more attention, I'd see the horrors that were happening in my own house. He only wants to make more money and gain power. He'd literally kill for it. That's why he married me. Cause what better cover for a criminal than to be a prosecutor's husband. And he and his prima dona mistress have built an empire based on the information he's stolen from me. He has names and people of the underworld working for him." She pushes through, begging him to understand her reasons. "But when he used my daughter in his deadly games, this is when I vowed I'd bring him down. I'll get revenge for my girl. I'll hunt down everyone involved." At the intensity of her promise her bangs fall on her eyes, like the metal bars of a prison, hiding the world.

His world crumbles as he hears her confession. His throat tightens and he runs a heavy hand through his hair. She's fighting for justice, she's fighting alone and her biggest enemy is the closest to her. His heart screams at him to stop her pain, as he's hurting too.

She pushes her chin up, finally meeting his eyes. He hasn't realized it, but they are glistering with unshed tears. Gazing at her sorrowful eyes it's impossible not to feel her pain.

She's searching for a reaction and he lowers himself to his feet in front of her, his knees touching the ground. Now he's looking up at her bloodshot eyes and reaches for her hand. He stops midway and puts his arm next to her, leaning on it. He wets his lips and talks softly. "I'm sorry, Su Ryeon Ssi. This shouldn't have happened to you. It's unfair. It's a lot to bare by yourself. If he's done all that, he must pay along with everyone involved. And I can help if you let me."

She opens her mouth to say something but he continues.

"You're teaching us how to catch criminals and restore justice. I want to be part of that. But please, listen to me: you weren't blind. It's not your fault that he did these things. It's his. He's a bad person and you're trying to protect your family."

At that, a tear finally descends her cheek, glistering in the almost darkness. It illuminates her face, as if it sheds light to years of pain and torture, coming to an end by her.

She talks more and with each new piece of information about her life, Logan sinks into sorrow. That can't be her life, a life he thought was perfect just a few days ago. She doesn't say who her husband's working with, or what he did to her daughter, but spares no details in explaining the hell she's been facing these years.

"He even lied about my children to use them against me. I have to punish him, Logan. Only once he's gone they're going to be safe".

"You should do that. Punish him and protect your kids. And I know you can. But you don't have to do it alone". He is kneeling in front of her, mirroring her vulnerability. "I'll help you in every way that I can. And you can help me with bringing my family to justice. Let's not let them get away."

She parts her lips and blinks back tears.

"Let me be there for you" he pleads as he touches her arm, right above her palm. He circles her wrist with his long fingers and runs circles with his thumb on her pulse point. He can feel her heart drumming under it, sending pulses of tenderness to his body. "Let's be partners".

A clash interrupts their moment, as the security guard finishes his shift and gets out of the control room. They stay silent, but he's coming towards their hiding place, carrying some equipment to store. With each passing step, it gets painfully clear that what he's heading for their corner. Terrified but lucid, Logan meets Su Ryeon's worried eyes and nods towards a group of boxes on the ground.

Praying she gets his plan to move behind them to hide, he puts his palm on her shoulder. In a swift move, he pushes her behind the boxes while his body makes contact with the wall, protecting hers. His eyes shut close as he braces himself. A moment later, the guard's flashlight bathes their corner with unforgivable light, the two of them gone.

Logan opens his eyes when the danger has passed. He assesses their position and wonders if the darkness is planting illusions in his brain. He has his arms around Su Ryeon Shi protectively, one in the space above her neck, gently covering her head. He feels her breath on his chest and when she lifts her head, he sees two clenched fists on the front of his jacket, keeping him impossibility close. She's holding onto him for dear life.

He moves his fingers in her hair to soothe her and she watches him with an unreadable expression. Her pink lips are parted but no word comes out.

For the second time, he witnesses as she scolds her expression to neutral and she nods for them to go inside. It's not hard to find the relevant feeds and they copy them in flash drives. It's too risky to spend time watching the feed now so they hurry and head to the stairs. They make it to the building exit and exchange a look of camaraderie.

"Hey! You two! Stop right there!" A security guard appears just a few meters away from them.

"Next shift came early", she whispers as they run to the parking lot, the man hot in their tails.

They make it there and hide behind a car. In a moment of serenity, Logan knows what he has to do.

He turns to Su Ryeon. "I told you I want to be your partner." He unties the dark green scarf from his neck. "You can count on me". At her puzzled expression, he brings the scarf to her face and delicately puts it on her. He lifts the silk up and covers her face, save from her eyes and above. "The guard won't see your face". With a parting touch, he brushes a strand of her hair, his thumb grazing her forehead lovingly. "Now run!"

He pushes her in the direction of the exit while he rushes out, running full speed towards the guard. This diverts his attention away from her, allowing her to make an escape.

He's got a menacing man chasing him in the darkness, but as he runs for his life, Logan smiles.

--

It's only later, sitting in his empty hotel room when he takes note of his entanglements. Guilt starts swimming in his stomach. Not only he suspected Su Ryeon of crimes, but even when she beared a piece of her soul to him he didn't have the courage to confess the reason he was there. It was him who installed the spyware in her computer. Last time they were in her office, working on a case. He needed to erase the evidence of him doing so, hence deleting the university camera feed.

He pushes his face on his hands, amazed at his impossible position. Partners don't spy on each other and as the image of Su Ryeon molding her body to his, her eyes captivating his heart, he thinks he wants to be more than that.

A lot more.