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Wednesday rolled around much faster than Ryeowook would’ve liked. He barely understood the concept of poker, and he understood even less of the plan. How could Kyuhyun be so confident that this plan would be a success when Ryeowook was the obvious weak link? However, Ryeowook had had just as little information during the last operation, and that had run smoothly regardless of Ryeowook. Kyuhyun was too confident in the plan to consider Ryeowook a weak link. Why should he? Every operation he’d ever done or planned had been successful, why wouldn’t this go smoothly like any other plan? Ryeowook understood where Kyuhyun was coming from, but it didn’t seem that Kyuhyun was able to view matters from the same perspective as Ryeowook.

Kyuhyun’s limousine picked Ryeowook up outside of his apartment complex once again. Ryeowook was dressed in the newly acquired suit, that Kyuhyun had bought him only days prior. It was much nicer than every suit Ryeowook had ever worn. It was tailored specifically to him, and his body type. It was a nice suit, and Ryeowook looked really good in it. Especially if Kyuhyun’s stare was something to go by. When he’d stepped into the limousine Kyuhyun had greeted him the same way he’d greeted Ryeowook the night of the gala. He’d kissed him passionately as if he was greeting a lover, and then they’d made idle talk all the way to the casino.

“Are you worried about tonight?” Kyuhyun asked Ryeowook, and Ryeowook could only shake his head. Of course, he knew Kyuhyun had more planned than just playing a little poker, but he didn’t know what those plans were. Thus, he couldn’t be worried. In a way, ignorance was bliss.

“No,” Ryeowook replied vocally, “but if I were you, I’d be worried about the amount of money I’m gonna lose,” he continued more teasingly. He wasn’t necessarily joking though. Ryeowook had a good understanding of the game, but he knew he wouldn’t do risky bets – which meant he’d bet a little, until he folded, and only really bet if he was confident in winning. Ryeowook wasn’t going to bet all in, he wasn’t that stupid, but in his opinion ‘all in’ was a risky move, and you lost more than you could gain. However, unless Ryeowook folded early in, he’d lose money just from staying the game, until he folded.

Kyuhyun only laughed and pulled Ryeowook closer. Obviously finding it funny. “You’re not gonna bankrupt me, so I think it’ll be fine,” he answered. Not even worried about losing money. He kissed Ryeowook’s temple before the car came to a halt. Kyuhyun wasn’t worried about Ryeowook, he had bigger things to worry about. Someone opened the door, Ryeowook didn’t see who, and then Kyuhyun exited the car first. Waiting for Ryeowook just outside, the brunet stretched a hand out for Ryeowook, which the black-haired took before he too exited the car. The limousine drove away the second the door was closed, making room for more guests. Ryeowook hadn’t paid attention to his surroundings when he’d been in the car, but now the luxurious surroundings were getting to him. The limousine that was driving away was just one of many in a long queue. By the look of it, he could see that a lot of guests had already arrived, and more were to come. The grand prize might be one million dollars, but if you played right tonight, you could end up taking home a hell of a lot more than just the grand prize.

The casino was large and looked a lot like the casinos portrayed in movies, but it had a more luxurious vibe to it. Kyuhyun quickly took Ryeowook’s hand and dragged him past the press. Luckily. Ryeowook wasn’t a fan of the press and didn’t know how to deal with it well. They were inside a huge lounge before Ryeowook knew it, but Kyuhyun showed no move to slow down. He continued dragging Ryeowook with him as if he had a direction in mind. This was the grand opening of the casino, yet Kyuhyun seemed to know the building’s layout as if he’d designed the building himself. Of course, Ryeowook knew that wasn’t true, but it wouldn’t surprise him if Kyuhyun had seen a map of the building’s layout. They finally halted when they arrived in a large room that seemed to be the main room. It was brightly lit up by a large, beautiful chandelier hanging from the roof. Despite there being hundreds of people inside the room Ryeowook still felt the room was spacious. There were several bars across the room, and there was so much space between the floor and the roof that Ryeowook was sure they could’ve fitted another floor in-between if they wanted to. The walls were a white-cream colour, where it wasn’t painted beautiful art. The room gave more off the vibe of a rich people’s poker club than Chicago’s new casino.

Scattered around the room there were several of those usual poker tables, and dealers stood ready to start up games whenever the guests felt ready for it. However, no one was playing yet, they were walking around, mingling, networking or enjoying the feel of being important.

“Here comes the boring part,” Kyuhyun whispered in Ryeowook’s ear, sending involuntarily shivers down Ryeowook’s spine. “I hate mingling. Let’s just sneak away for some minutes and make out in the bathroom,” the brunet suggested jokingly. However, Ryeowook could recognize his tone. If Ryeowook agreed, Kyuhyun wouldn’t hesitate to drag him again as quickly as he could towards the nearest bathroom.

“Don’t you have an event to attend? A poker game to win?” Ryeowook asked. Not directly declining it, but rather reminding Kyuhyun of the matters at hand. However, the brunet dismissed that quickly.

“That can wait a few minutes,” he told Ryeowook confidently. Kyuhyun leant closer to Ryeowook, and Ryeowook answered to the closeness by pecking Kyuhyun’s lips slightly, but he pulled away before Kyuhyun had the chance to deepen it.

“Later,” he told Kyuhyun. He didn’t know what he meant by the word, and he didn’t know how Kyuhyun chose to interpret the word. All Ryeowook knew was that he was postponing satisfying Kyuhyun’s needs until later.

Kyuhyun dragged him in again and kissed him deeper this time. But not enough to cause a scene. “Probably, a good idea, I don’t know if I could keep my hands off you if we first started,” he told Ryeowook lowly as they parted. His voice was low, and Ryeowook knew no one around had heard him – luckily. The lust was evident in his eyes, and Ryeowook could tell he was serious. He smiled slightly at Kyuhyun before he increased the space between them.

“Great,” Ryeowook replied, but his voice was playful, “let’s mingle then.” Mingling was as foretold by Kyuhyun hella boring. Not that Ryeowook didn’t know that already when they’d been at the gala Ryeowook had been bored to death by playing Kyuhyun’s date. Especially, when the guests only offered surface-level conversations that never ran deeper than the stock market values or how a new deal was coming up. Sometimes, they talked about politics which was only slightly more interesting. However, never enough to pique Ryeowook’s interest.

Luckily for Ryeowook the mingling round didn’t last too long before they could start taking seats at a poker table. Several of the guests had already taken a seat, but Kyuhyun lead Ryeowook away from the main room to a more secluded area with a larger table than what had been scattered all around. It was clear that those who played here were valued as more higher-ups than anyone else. Several of the seats were already taken by various men, and Jungsoo was one of them. However, today Ryeowook couldn’t see the assistant. There were nine chairs around the table, three of them were empty. Kyuhyun took and moved one of the chairs closer to another before he gestured Ryeowook to sit down beside him. The black-haired male followed Kyuhyun’s suggestion without uttering around. Even when they were seated Kyuhyun seemed hell-bent on having Ryeowook as close as possible, and scooted closer to him until they were basically pressed up in each other’s sides.

With Hyukjae joining a few minutes later, they were all seated at the table. Ryeowook was quite honestly surprised to see the black-haired male there. He had the impression, from Kyuhyun, that Hyukjae usually did other tasks. Not dirty work, per se, but heavy work, he did the killings, hiding the evidence. He played bartender and waiter, from what Ryeowook had gathered he wasn’t usually a guest. But maybe it was different because this casino was owned by the Italian mafia? Hyukjae was a known character by the Chicago underworld and the Chicago police department. Whereas Hyukjae was a too vulgar character to attend Choi Siwon’s galas, he was just the type to check out the Italian mob’s new casino. Maybe this was a part of the plan. Ryeowook looked over at Kyuhyun for some sort of explanation that never came. Kyuhyun was avoiding his gaze, he didn’t want to talk about Hyukjae, or explain his presence. Typical.

It obviously didn’t explain anything, but it meant that Hyukjae’s role in this was much more than just playing a few rounds of poker. That was for sure. Kyuhyun wouldn’t avoid Ryeowook’s gaze if Hyukjae’s presence wasn’t of significance.

They were nine people seated at the table. Seven players. There was the dealer, who wasn’t playing. He was wearing a uniform, white shirt with a red vest, but he was obviously of Italian descent. He was working for the Italian mafia, and maybe he was told to keep an eye on figures like Kyuhyun and Hyukjae? Next to the dealer to the left, the guy who’d start of as the small blind was a fat, bald man. He was wearing a brown suit and had a huge cigar stuffed into his mouth. He didn’t seem like a poker threat. He was already easy enough to read. His watch was expensive, but it hung awkwardly low on his wrist, so it was always visible. He moved his left hand, which was wearing the clock as if the clock was too heavy. He wasn’t used to wearing the clock, he was just wearing it to seem rich. Just like he had an almost untouched scotch in front of him. It came from the bar, and Ryeowook knew it was expensive from the way he had ordered it loudly, but he wasn’t really rich. He just wanted to seem rich. That’s why he was wearing eight gold rings, when you could see by the way he was twisting and turning them that he wasn’t used to wearing them.

To the left of the fat man in the brown suit, was the big blind. This round the big blind was a skinny man, with thinning grey hair. Every feature of his seemed almost pointy. He was wearing a black, striped suit. And wore his glasses at the tip of his nose. He seemed more like a judging teacher than a poker player. However, Ryeowook could admit his poker face was tremendous compared to the small blind guy. To his left Park Jungsoo was seated, he was calmly sipping a glass of red wine. Obviously not too worried about the crowd. His blond hair was styled perfectly, and the suit was tailored to perfectly fit his body. He looked like the cover of a magazine more than a poker player.

Next to Jungsoo, Ryeowook was seated, and Kyuhyun was right next to him. Although, Ryeowook was sitting much closer to Kyuhyun than any of the other players. He wasn’t a player himself – not yet at least – and he was Kyuhyun’s date. They were basically pressed up in each other’s personal spaces, not that either minded. Next to Kyuhyun was someone from the Italian mafia. Ryeowook could quickly tell, not from the way he dressed or behaved. But from the way he spoke tensely with Kyuhyun, and from how Kyuhyun replied with an edge back. He was a higher-up for sure because Kyuhyun would never allow an errand boy to recognize him as a mobster. It had to be one of the highest up, maybe even possibly the leader. Leeteuk remained in the shadows, which meant that the next in line – with a known identity – was Kyuhyun. In a way, Kyuhyun was the visible leader, so Ryeowook could understand why the tenseness in the mobster’s behaviour when he spoke to Kyuhyun. The leader of the Italian mob, or at least that was what Ryeowook assumed he was, looked like Don Vito Corleone from The Godfather. It seemed like Marlon Brando was his main inspiration.

He was about the same age as Marlon Brando had been in the first movie and looked quite similar. Small, for a man, although Ryeowook couldn’t say much about height, being quite short himself. Although this man was similar in looks to Vito Corleone, he didn’t have the same edge. He wasn’t as threatening, and clearly not half as smart. Leeteuk wouldn’t have been able to take out both mafia groups in Chicago if the head of the group had been particularly smart. He was obviously smart enough to fear Kyuhyun, but not smart enough to realise that this game right here was just a distraction from Kyuhyun’s main plot.

He would realise that too late when the deed was already done. Whatever plans Kyuhyun had.

Next to him there was a man Ryeowook couldn’t really place. He wasn’t Korean, he wasn’t Italian. Irish mafia maybe? But it seemed rather unlikely. He was probably just one of the civilian guests. He was wearing sunglasses, even if they were inside, not too unheard of if you played poker professionally. He was wearing a suit, a black suit, but with a black t-shirt under instead of a shirt, with a gold chain over. He seemed like the only serious poker player around the table if Ryeowook had to say so himself. Nearly everyone else seemed to have ulterior motives for playing except this unknown guy. He seemed to be an outsider, just like Ryeowook, but it was hard to read his face due to his large sunglasses – which was the point entirely. Maybe he knew this crowd just like Kyuhyun, but it seemed rather unlikely due to his stiff position. Next to him was Hyukjae. He too was wearing sunglasses, much slimmer ones, but Ryeowook wasn’t sure if it was due to having a poker face or hiding a hangover.

They wasted no time chit-chatting and the game started quickly after that. The fat man, started off with the mandatory small blind before the cards were dealt. It was mandatory to gamble some money even before the game began, if there was no money in the pot the players could just fold endlessly without having to give up money, and the game wouldn’t be very interesting. Ricci – Ryeowook learnt was the name of the fat man – placed the small blind in the pot, a chip worth 25 dollars, the big blind was placed by the pointy man not long after. A chip worth 50 dollars, and with that the dealer dealt out the cards. Two for each player.

Kyuhyun bent his cards slightly up, to watch the cards before he let them rest at the table. Kyuhyun hadn’t watched them for more than a second, but Ryeowook had seen it, nonetheless. Not that Kyuhyun had been trying to hide his cards from Ryeowook. He had a Queen of hearts and Spades ten. High cards and he had straight potential, but not flush potential. Good cards, for the first round, however, it was just as probable that someone had better cards than Kyuhyun. That didn’t mean he was bound to lose though, Ryeowook wouldn’t fold the cards, not yet at least. Not that he thought Kyuhyun would fold. Not now. Since Ricci and the pointy man was both already committed to the pot, they had already laid bets it was now Jungsoo’s turn to act.

He could either fold; surrender his cards and give up the cards. That meant he wouldn’t lose any money, not having bet anything yet, but he would no longer participate in this round. He could call the pointy man’s bet, and bet the same amount as him, 50 dollars. He could raise the bet, bet more than 50 dollars, or he could go all in. – Although, Ryeowook doubted Jungsoo or anyone around the table would raise or go all in under the blind round since they didn’t know what cards would lie at the table. To Ryeowook it was stupid to raise or go all in when you didn’t even know what cards would be lying on the table. You were just betting on hopes really. Which could cost you a lot of money. Jungsoo did as Ryeowook expected, he called, he matched the bet and laid a chip worth fifty dollars in the pot. So did, Kyuhyun, and everyone else on the table. Until they were back to Ricci. He had only committed twenty-five dollars into the pot, having started off as the small blind. This was his last chance to fold or commit the other half of the money into the pot. Ricci laid another chip worth twenty-five dollars into the pot.

They then went to the pointy man, who also had one last chance to decide if his hand was strong or not. If it wasn’t he could fold, and if it was he could raise the bet if he did that they would start a new betting round. And no cards would be placed on the table just yet. However, the pointy man made no move to raise the bet, thus ending the blind round. No one had folded yet.

The dealer burnt the first card in the deck, before laying out three cards known as the flop. They were cards every player could use to make the best combination of cards in hopes of winning the pot. Which as of now, consisted of 350 dollars. On the table, there were three cards. Ace of spades, clover eight and Queen of clovers. Kyuhyun had at least one pair, which was one of the worst possible hands he could have, but it was better than just high cards. There was an ace there, so he had the beginning of a straight, but that would require the next to cards to be a Jack and a King for him to pull it off. Or a nine and a Jack, if he used the eight instead of the ace. However, it wasn’t very wise chasing straights, Kyuhyun could end up losing a lot of money if he took the gamble that the two next cards were the two cards he needed. However, Ryeowook didn’t know what poker player Kyuhyun was. Maybe he liked the risk to it?

His knowledge of Kyuhyun led him to believe that Kyuhyun was a logical player, and wouldn’t lose money, just for a gamble. But Kyuhyun never ceased to surprise Ryeowook. The round started off at Ricci again, he had more options this round. He had the previous options of folding now that the cards were revealed, calling the same amount that last have been bet, raise the bet, go all in or he could check. If he chose to check, it simply meant he didn’t want to make a bet right now and simply passed the option to the player to his left.

“Check,” Ricci said with a raspy voice. Passing the option next to the next player, the pointy man.

“Watch ‘em all check,” Kyuhyun whispered in Ryeowook’s ear, but in Korean. He hadn’t spoken Korean to Ryeowook in forever. Ryeowook knew what it meant, it meant that if Ryeowook wanted to say something to Kyuhyun during the game they were to speak Korean, so they weren’t understood by anybody. Except for maybe Jungsoo, but Kyuhyun was speaking so lowly the blond man could impossibly pick up on it. Kyuhyun whispering in his ear was simply his way of telling Ryeowook about this arrangement.

“Hey, no talking of strategy,” the Italian mafia barked and Kyuhyun, and Kyuhyun huffed at him. Having the entire table’s attention directed at him. Ryeowook could see them all glaring at Ryeowook, only now noticing his presence. And he could see it wasn’t appreciated. Especially, if they thought Kyuhyun had another team player, not that Kyuhyun needed it.

“If you want to listen to me dirty talk to my date, go ahead, but I don’t think anyone’s going to enjoy it, except for Ryeonggoo~,” Kyuhyun told them, clicking his tongue in annoyance. He glared at everyone who dared question him. Jungsoo only seemed humoured. Ryeowook, on the other hand, bashfully looked away and he could feel his cheeks heat up as he studied the green table. Ryeowook’s shy act and Kyuhyun’s annoyed act together sold it entirely.

“Very well,” the Vito Corleone look-alike said and cleared his throat a little. Clearly a little homophobic, or at least uncomfortable with gay men displaying romantic gestures publicly. “But do try to be professional, mister Cho. There are people present,” he said, and there was an evil glimmer in his eyes as he said so. It wasn’t missed by Kyuhyun, and Kyuhyun smiled annoyed at the elder man.

“I will, mister Lombardo. You’re right, there are people present, anybody could be watching us now,” Kyuhyun replied slowly. It was a threat for sure. Kyuhyun hadn’t been very threatening, but his reputation, which was obviously known by this Italian mobster, spoke vocals. He gulped and seemed to be almost shrinking himself to seem smaller. As if he only could grow small enough Kyuhyun wouldn’t notice his presence. Kyuhyun turned out to be only slightly right. The pointy man checked, Jungsoo checked, Kyuhyun checked, the Italian mobster guy checked, but the poker player with the sunglasses chose to raise. He laid two fifty-dollar chips into the pot, and Hyukjae chose to call that. Thus, they couldn’t have a checked round, and they all proceeded to call the raise, except for the mobster who folded. There were now 950 dollars in the pot.

The dealer burnt another card before the fourth card was laid in the collective pool. It was a four diamond. Kyuhyun’s chance of a straight was gone. The only thing he could hope for now was getting another ten, so at least he had two pairs. His one pair probably wouldn’t win him the pot. Not when they were the man in the sunglasses had so eagerly raised the pot. They round went around just like last time, everyone checked until they came to sunglasses who raised the pot to 200 hundred dollars. Which everyone called, except for Jungsoo who folded. Before the fifth and final card was laid in the collective pool there were 1950 dollars in the pot. Whoever won this round would win a good starting the pot. Ryeowook wondered what the man in the sunglasses had, for him to be raising the bars so high.

Another card was burnt from the top deck before the dealer laid the final last card in the pool. It was a four of clover. Kyuhyun did now have two pairs, with the two fours in the pool and the queens. However, everyone had one pair. And it was quite likely someone else had higher cards. Especially, the man in the sunglasses. There were three clovers in the pool, and the chance of someone having a flush was very probable. It was also likely someone was holding the third or fourth four, if so, they were in a quite favourable position. The betting went on again, but the pointy man and Kyuhyun both folded. Not all that surprising, Ryeowook didn’t think Kyuhyun would win with his two pairs. The rest of the players checked, and they went on to the showdown. Ricci was the first to reveal his cards and revealed that he had initially nothing. Just a pair of fours, which was in the pool and a couple of high cards. He should’ve folded a long time ago, staying the game cost him 350 dollars.

The man in the sunglasses revealed that he had a flush. A flush with clovers. Yeah, he was going to win the round. Although, Ryeowook had to admit he’d been playing quite of a gamble. The last card giving him a flush hadn’t been revealed until the last round, yet he’d been raising the bet early on. Everyone thought it was over until Hyukjae revealed his cards. He had an ace of diamonds and spades four. Which meant, that Hyukjae had a full house. Since, there was already an ace at the table, along with a pair of fours. Hyukjae won this round.

The man in the sunglasses cursed, but no one could say anything about it. Hyukjae had won the game fair and square. They continued playing several rounds, Kyuhyun didn’t win anything major, and so went for anyone else. Except for Hyukjae who seemed to be lucking out this day. By a few rounds, he’d won chips worth several dollars. Ryeowook couldn’t help but think it was a little suspicious, given Hyukjae’s reputation, but he hadn’t seen him cheat. Until he did, he’d give Hyukjae the benefit of the doubt.

They were in the fourth or the fifth game, Ryeowook wasn’t paying that close attention to that, and the rounds were already starting to blur. The blind round finished quickly before they all received two cards. Kyuhyun didn’t get any interesting cards; seven of spades, and a diamond Jack. He ended up folding quite early on. That wasn’t what was noteworthy to Ryeowook, what struck Ryeowook as odd was when Hyukjae ended up winning the pot again. This time with three of one kind. There was a diamond seven in the pool, and Hyukjae had a pair of seven in his hand. A clover, and a spade. A seven of spades, when Kyuhyun had had the exact same card.

Ryeowook quickly turned to Kyuhyun, but the brunet refused to meet his eye. Ryeowook tried to get his attention, but Kyuhyun was deliberately avoiding his gaze.

“He’s cheating, isn’t he?” he asked Kyuhyun in Korean. Forcing the other male to look at him. It was loud enough for Kyuhyun to have heard it, but not so loud that Jungsoo had heard it. Kyuhyun turned to him, with an unreadable expression in his eyes. Kyuhyun was trying to find out Ryeowook’s motive, while Ryeowook was trying to find what plan required Hyukjae to cheat. Cheat badly. Because the others around the table were starting to grow suspicious too. While if Hyukjae had just done it for the hell of it, he’d be more subtle.

“Is he?” Kyuhyun replied back in Korean. Obviously faking obliviousness. Ryeowook couldn’t help but roll his eyes.

“Don’t act stupid.”

“I’m not.”

“You are.”

“He’s cheating,” Ryeowook stated matter-of-factly, “and you told him to. Why?” Kyuhyun didn’t answer him, and looked straight ahead, faking that he was focusing on the game and not on Ryeowook. Ryeowook wasn’t that easily fooled by the act. Kyuhyun just didn’t want to tell him, it was as simple as that. It always boiled down to the same thing. Kyuhyun didn’t trust him. He was starting to grow tired of it. Things needed to change. He understood that Kyuhyun didn’t trust him completely yet, but it didn’t seem like Kyuhyun was even thinking of budging in the right direction. It was outright discouraging and annoying.

Ryeowook contemplated what approaches he had for it. He could ignore it and let Kyuhyun get away with it. In a way letting him win. He could ask again, but he doubted the outcome would change just because he asked again. Or he could try to persuade the answers out Kyuhyun.

“Kyu~,” Ryeowook said in a seductive voice as he leant even closer. Closing in on little space that had been between them. He kissed Kyuhyun’s neck slightly, and a content sigh left Kyuhyun’s lips. “You’re ignoring me,” Ryeowook whispered in Korean. His lips ghosted against Kyuhyun’s skin as he spoke. The black-haired male could see the goosebumps on Kyuhyun’s skin, and he smiled victoriously to himself. He wasn’t done yet but seeing the effect he had on Kyuhyun pleased Ryeowook.

“I’m not,” Kyuhyun replied monotonously, but he didn’t move his gaze. He was still staring right ahead instead of acknowledging Ryeowook’s presence. He placed his right hand on Ryeowook’s left thigh, it was too close to Ryeowook’s crotch to be appropriate, but none of the other players noticed. It was Kyuhyun’s silent way of telling Ryeowook to drop the act. But that wouldn’t be any fun. He squeezed Ryeowook’s thigh slightly, but Ryeowook wasn’t done yet. If Kyuhyun wasn’t going to tell him, at least Ryeowook wanted to rile him up a little.

“You are,” Ryeowook purred, and kissed his neck again. This time much slower and left an open-mouthed kiss on Kyuhyun’s tan skin before he moved a little away. “You’re not answering my question,” Ryeowook continued, while Ryeowook’s own hands were wandering all over Kyuhyun’s body. Two could play this game.

He could hear Kyuhyun force back a groan, before he finally acknowledged Ryeowook, and sharply turned his head to look at him. “Ryeowook,” he said his name warningly, but Ryeowook wasn’t quite ready to quit yet. “We’re in public,” he told him, in the exact same tone.

Deep down, Ryeowook knew he didn’t mind. He could already tell that Kyuhyun hoped to take Ryeowook with him home later. So, it wasn’t the actions that Kyuhyun minded. He just minded Ryeowook did them now, in front of people like this. He minded that Ryeowook did it to get answers out of him. He minded that Ryeowook had an effect on him and that Ryeowook knew how to use it.

“So?” Ryeowook asked as if it didn’t matter to him, and he could tell how much that infuriated Kyuhyun.

“Try to act a little … more proper,” was all Kyuhyun told him before he looked straight ahead again. The others around the table didn’t seem to notice Ryeowook flirting with Kyuhyun, because the aura was rather tense. They were all looking accusingly at Hyukjae, with no way of explaining his incredible luck, but everyone thought it was fishy.

“You don’t like it?” Ryeowook asked and acted like he was wounded by Kyuhyun’s words. It had an immediate effect on Kyuhyun when he pulled away from him and made more obvious space between them. Ryeowook could see Kyuhyun turn to him in his side-eye, but he stared down at the table as if he’d been rejected, and Kyuhyun bought the entire act.

“Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun called his name to get his attention, and then carefully leaned closer. His right hand disappeared from Ryeowook’s thigh, and cupped his face, slowly. As if he was approaching a hurt animal. “I didn’t mean it like that,” he began softly. He turned Ryeowook’s face, so he was forced to watch Kyuhyun’s handsome face. He was much closer than Ryeowook expected, and he was baffled by the closeness for a few seconds. Appearing speechless. “You know I like being close to you … like that,” Kyuhyun continued.

“Do I?” Ryeowook asked. Still acting hurt, as if Kyuhyun’s words had actually hurt him. They hadn’t, but Kyuhyun didn’t know that. As a reply, Kyuhyun closed in on the space between them and kissed Ryeowook, slowly. It wasn’t a long kiss, because they were still seated at the poker table, but Kyuhyun’s point came across loud and clear.

“You should,” he told Ryeowook. Ryeowook didn’t reply, but Kyuhyun would know Ryeowook wasn’t satisfied. Acknowledging him, just because he previously had dismissed Ryeowook, wasn’t enough. Ryeowook needed more. A loud sigh escaped Kyuhyun’s lips before he leant in. “Fine, I told Eunhyuk to cheat,” Kyuhyun admitted. So, it was a part of the plan, but why? Kyuhyun could see that Ryeowook was ready to ask questions, but he interrupted him before a word escaped Ryeowook’s mouth. “I’m not going to tell you why. You’ll figure it out yourself, you’re smart enough.”

Ryeowook only grumbled and got away from Kyuhyun’s grasp. Flinging Kyuhyun’s hands off him. He wasn’t in the mood to flirt with Kyuhyun when everything was a game to Kyuhyun, and Ryeowook was his primary source of entertainment. Kyuhyun didn’t have time to utter another word neither did Ryeowook. Because a loud voice broke their entire trance. Forcing the entire table to watch the scene that just erupted.

“He is cheating!” it was Lombardo who now stood over Hyukjae holding a card in his hand as proof. He was shaking Hyukjae’s arm against the black-haired male’s protests and more cards fell out of his suit. Everyone’s eyes were glued to the scene. While Hyukjae was badly trying to explain himself to no avail. “Get out,” the Italian man said as he snapped his fingers. Two large, muscular males appeared out of thin air, to escort Hyukjae out.

“Fine, whatever, I didn’t want to play this stupid game either way,” Hyukjae replied angrily back before he took his suit jacket and stormed out of there. Cards scattered after him, leaving a trail where he’d been. It would’ve been comically if Ryeowook wasn’t fearing the Italians would beat Hyukjae into a pulp for cheating. It wasn’t all that unlikely either, because the two bodyguards, bouncers – or whatever they were – followed.

“Do you think they’re gonna hurt him?” Ryeowook asked Kyuhyun, still not changing back to English.

“They wouldn’t dare,” Kyuhyun replied confidently, and Ryeowook only nodded. He could only take Kyuhyun’s word for it. If the brunet was confident they wouldn’t hurt Hyukjae due to the consequences they’d get, then Kyuhyun was probably right. After all, he was the one with insight into the Italian mafia and their relationship with the Koreans, not Ryeowook.

“He cheated so he could be kicked out, right?” Ryeowook asked after he’d had a few seconds to think about it. It was the only thing that made sense. Hyukjae made a huge scene about leaving, so everyone knew he left. So, they wouldn’t expect him to be here or come back. He was known in these circles, if he didn’t show up people would wonder where he was, and if he left early people would wonder why. By pulling this stunt people wouldn’t ask questions, while he remained completely in character.

“Yeah,” Kyuhyun agreed, and he smiled proudly at Ryeowook. “Told you you’d figure it by yourself.” He kissed Ryeowook’s cheek, and that was the end of it.

The game went on as if nothing had happened, and Ryeowook was completely fine with it. He didn’t want to discuss Hyukjae’s cheating any further, and no one else seemed to want to do so either. If they did, at least then they didn’t show it. Things grew a little boring after that, the pot was now split more evenly, but it was obvious that some were better at poker than others. The man in the sunglasses, Kyuhyun and the pointy man were good. Jungsoo too, but he was too careful, and folded early on, instead of gambling. Ricci and the Italian-mafia-guy weren’t nearly as good, but they won some rounds too.

They played yet another blind round before three cards were laid in the pool. Kyuhyun had a clover of nine and a king of hearts. Not very good cards, they had a little straight potential, but that chance was gone with cards that were laying in the flop. There was three of diamond, a nine of spades and seven of clover. At least Kyuhyun had a pair. Which was more than what others had because both the pointy man and the Italian mafia guy folded after that. The next card that was laid out in the pool was king of Diamonds. So, Kyuhyun had at least two pairs.

The man in the sunglasses, usually kept raising the pot, but now he was playing rather carefully. While Ricci was raising the pot. Sunglasses folded before the fifth card was laid in the pool, leaving only Jungsoo, Kyuhyun and Ricci, who was still raising the pot. Ryeowook looked at Ricci, he must have good cards to keep raising the pot. That, or he was faking it. His confident aura seemed to scare others off, and it seemed like Jungsoo was contemplating folding again. The fifth card was laid in the pool, and it was nothing noteworthy. Spades of six. What could Ricci have that seemed to be so good? He didn’t have straight nor flush potential. The only thing he could have on his hand was three of the same cards. That was his highest possible hand, but Ryeowook didn’t even think he had cards that high. Ryeowook was pretty sure Ricci was bluffing.

“I’m thinking of folding,” Kyuhyun mumbled to him, his gaze glued at the table. Ryeowook didn’t turn to look at Kyuhyun as he replied.

“Don’t fold.”

“Huh, why? I think Ricci’s gonna win this round,” Kyuhyun told him, still staring right ahead. They were speaking silently in Korean, so there was no one except for them who could hear it.

“He’s faking it,” Ryeowook told Kyuhyun confidently. “I think you could win with your two pairs.”

“My hand’s not that good,” Kyuhyun countered back, and Ryeowook agreed. It wasn’t all that good, and there was a lot that could beat it, but Ryeowook was confident Kyuhyun could win this round.

“Kyuhyun, don’t fold. I’ll pay you back the money you lose if you lose. But you’re not going to. Jungsoo’s gonna fold soon, he plays way too carefully. And Ricci can’t hold a potential straight or flush. The only possible hand he can have is a pair, three of the same cards, or two pairs. But he’s faking it. I’m sure. He got nothing but high cards,” Ryeowook told Kyuhyun confidently.

“Alright,” Kyuhyun agreed. “I won’t fold.” As predicted Jungsoo folded, Ricci raised, and Kyuhyun called it. Before the showdown began. Ryeowook could feel the pulse quicken as it was time for Ricci to reveal his cards. He knew he was right, but at the same time, there was always a little voice in his head asking what if. If he was wrong now, Kyuhyun wouldn’t trust his opinion again, and Ryeowook would look like an idiot. However, all those worries disappeared as he saw Ricci’s two cards. He had been faking it. He wasn’t even holding particular high cards. He had a diamond Jack and a spades of two. A low chuckle escaped Kyuhyun’s lips before a hand snaked itself around Ryeowook’s waist as he revealed his own cards. Kyuhyun obviously ended up taking the pot, to Ricci’s great displeasure. Kyuhyun kissed Ryeowook shortly on the lips, as he counted his winnings. He’d won much more than what he’d lost this night. Ricci eyed them both suspiciously.

“You can’t play in teams,” Ricci accused them, but Kyuhyun obviously dismissed it with a hand gesture.

“We’re not,” he told Ricci curtly switching back to English, his gaze not leaving Ricci. Kyuhyun’s gaze was burning, and Ryeowook felt bad for anyone who was at the end of receiving it. “I told you, if you want to listen to me dirty talk to my date, I have no objections. But I doubt you want to hear it.” Ryeowook didn’t want to look at Ricci and confirm it, so he looked down at the table again. Not meeting anyone’s gaze, Kyuhyun was entirely different. He looked at everyone to see if they had any objections, which they clearly didn’t have given Kyuhyun’s reputation.

Kyuhyun cleared his throat, to get everyone’s attention. He got up from his seat and fixed his suit slightly. “Alright, good game everyone, but I’ll have to take my leave early. Ryeowook here will continue for me.” Ryeowook could see that Lombardo and Ricci had objections to it, but since Kyuhyun said it with such certainty there wasn’t much room left to discuss the matter. Kyuhyun leant down to kiss Ryeowook quickly.

“Good luck,” he whispered against Ryeowook’s lips. While a shudder went down Ryeowook’s spine, before the brunet pulled away, leaving Ryeowook entirely speechless. He moved closer to Jungsoo, to bid goodbye to his work colleague, they exchanged some silent words with each other before Kyuhyun was off. The second Kyuhyun was gone Ryeowook could feel all eyes on him. They were watching him like a prey, and Ryeowook tried his best to not look intimidated.

Up until now, the others hadn’t regarded Ryeowook as a threat. He’d been Kyuhyun’s date, nothing more. Maybe a bit of an inconvenience, but aside from that, they hadn’t really regarded Ryeowook. Now, he was a player. A player with insight on how everyone played, but they didn’t know anything about Ryeowook. Everyone, except for Jungsoo, seemed to judge Ryeowook’s presence, and it seemed like no one really wanted him there. The mood was tense, no doubt, but Ryeowook pretended not to notice. He couldn’t let it get to him.

They started the blind round again, and Ryeowook tried to play carefully. If he knew early on his hand wasn’t any good, he folded. He never raised the bet, only called. When it came to the showdown, and Ryeowook knew he’d lost he folded before instead of revealing his cards. He didn’t want to reveal how he was thinking unless he was winning the pot. Ricci was quite the opposite, even when he knew he’d lost he revealed his cards just to show them he had a good hand too. It made him one of the most predictable players for Ryeowook. He won small generous amounts, but he didn’t have huge losses like the others. When he lost money, it was due to others having better hands than him, and not because Ryeowook was reckless or gambling. When he won, he never won a lot, like the others – but he won more than he lost. The only one who lost less money than Ryeowook was Jungsoo, who was far more careful than himself. Yet, Jungsoo wasn’t a player to underestimate, when you thought you had him figured out, he went on and surprised you again, and won the entire pot.

They were starting up yet another blind round. By this point, Ryeowook had lost count on how many games they’d played. The small and big blind was passed around, and now they were almost back at the start again. The pointy man was the small blind, while Jungsoo was the big blind. The blind round finished quickly, and no one had folded yet.

Ryeowook only bent his cards slightly to watch them before he let them lie face down. He had great cards. A spades seven and six. Not only did he have straight potential, but he also had flush potential. Sure, he had had the possibility of a straight flush, but Ryeowook wasn’t that conceited that he’d think he’d pull a hand like that off. It was the most difficult hand to get, and Ryeowook knew the chance of getting a hand like that was rather unlikely.

The betting went around as normal, and then the dealer burnt the top card before three cards were laid into the pool. A diamond five, a spades four and a clover ace was laid into the pool. Ryeowook had to hide a smirk, he had the beginning of a pretty nice straight, all he needed was an eight or three to have it completed. Or, he could get a flush, but that would require that the other two cards were spades. Which seemed rather unlikely. They all went around betting again, except for Lombardo who folded. Luck had to be on Ryeowook’s side because the fourth card that was laid into the community pool was a spades eight. Ryeowook had a straight.

He had a high chance of winning this round, but he couldn’t get cocky yet. There were several cards that still could beat his own straight. Like a flush. However, it seemed rather unlikely. There were only thirteen cards of the same suit, and two spades were lying in the pool. Sure, someone could be holding a potential flush, but Ryeowook held two spades too. Which meant that Ryeowook already knew where four of thirteen cards were. It seemed rather unlikely that someone else held two spades as well.

The betting went on again, this time Ryeowook raised the bet, forcing sunglasses and Ricci to call the bet. The table eyed Ryeowook suspiciously, but it was quickly forgotten as the last card was laid into the pool. The last card that was laid into the pool was clover ten. Which made the possibility of someone having a flush to beat his own cards impossible. Ryeowook raised the bet once again, while Jungsoo folded. Leaving only sunglasses and the pointy man left for the showdown. The pointy man began first, revealing he had a pair of aces, aside from that he didn’t have much. He had ten, eight and a seven kicker. Ryeowook revealed his own straight, and he could see the pointy man’s face scrunch up into a sour grimace. Sunglasses chose to fold last minute, knowing he didn’t have anything to beat Ryeowook, and Ryeowook ended up winning the huge pot. This was probably the largest pot Ryeowook had won today. Having won almost 5000 dollars.

“Good game,” Jungsoo said and turned to Ryeowook. There had been idle small talk throughout the games, but no one had seemed pretty interested in including Ryeowook. This was the first time someone had talked directly to Ryeowook since Kyuhyun left.

“Thanks,” Ryeowook grinned at the older man. He hadn’t had much time to talk to the older man but from what Ryeowook had gathered he seemed nice. He had quizzed him under the gala, and it had been kind of uncomfortable, still felt uncomfortable – but he’d still been nice towards Ryeowook during the gala. Today, Jungsoo hadn’t tried to quiz him, Ryeowook didn’t know if that was the result of having done so last time or if there just hadn’t been a good time for Jungsoo to even start asking questions. It didn’t matter though; the end result was the same. He hadn’t quizzed Ryeowook, and therefore Ryeowook felt more at ease around Jungsoo today.

“You’ve won a lot of money,” Jungsoo said, continuing the conversation. Ryeowook couldn’t help the genuine smile that painted his features, it actually meant a lot to him that Jungsoo wanted to continue the conversation. Not everyone had welcomed him to Chicago with open arms, no one had really. And all tough Ryeowook had the talent of sneaking into people’s hearts over time, he didn’t really feel wanted all around. “You should be proud.”

“I’m just trying to not lose Kyu’s money,” Ryeowook joked. The endearing nickname slipped out without Ryeowook intending to, and Jungsoo laughed. Not that it mattered all that much, it only sold their relationship as more real. Especially to a work colleague who was outside Kyuhyun’s entire mobster life.

“As skilled as you are it would surprise me if you did,” Jungsoo continued complementing him, and Ryeowook had to laugh along. It was so easy talking to Jungsoo. Ryeowook didn’t have to think and analyse every interaction like he had to do with Kyuhyun. It was relaxing and easy, Ryeowook liked it. It was a nice contrast from what had become Ryeowook’s daily life. It was almost like his friendships back in Washington D.C. Ryeowook didn’t feel unwanted in Chicago, per se, especially when he knew how badly Kyuhyun wanted him, but he didn’t feel wanted either. Aside, from Kyuhyun who only lusted after his body. It was first now that Ryeowook had a decent interaction with someone outside the mobster life that Ryeowook realised how much he missed the civilian life.

“You flatter me,” Ryeowook answered humbly, of course, he knew that to some extent he was a good player. He wouldn’t have won money unless he was sort of good. However, he had leant the game only days ago, he was no master. Ryeowook didn’t think of himself as a skilled player, if he’d lost huge amounts of money, he would’ve been surprised due to his careful tactics, but he wouldn’t have been surprised if he didn’t win any large sums. Ryeowook wasn’t counting on winning the large pot because he thought of it as an impossibility.

“I hope you recognize the truth in my words,” Jungsoo continued, amendment that Ryeowook was a good player. Ryeowook wouldn’t go to those lengths to describe his playing. He was good, better than Ricci, but not good. He was a newbie, that was what he was. A beginner with a bit of luck.

“Hardly,” declined Jungsoo’s kind words again. “I learnt poker only days ago,” he informed Jungsoo as if that would prove he wasn’t that good. Because he really wasn’t that skilled. He was lucky and careful, you couldn’t call that a skilled player.

“Even more impressive,” Jungsoo complimented him, but Ryeowook only shook his head slightly.

“My poker skills aren’t that noteworthy, I’m just lucky. Half of the game is based on luck,” Ryeowook tried to politely decline Jungsoo’s compliments. Because he wasn’t that good, at least Ryeowook didn’t think he was. He wasn’t bad, he wouldn’t have won anything if he was, but he wasn’t a good player either. Ryeowook was far from winning any championships or competing against professionals. Ryeowook was mediocre at best.

“Ah,” Jungsoo hummed. His gentle smile didn’t disappear from his soft features, it didn’t seem like he was annoyed by Ryeowook’s humble act. “That’s where you’re mistaken. It is true that you need a certain amount of luck to be dealt good cards, but even a bad hand can win over a royal flush. As long as you play the cards right,” he took the time to chuckle at his own bad joke before he continued. “But the way play, your strategy, the way you think, whether to decide to fold, raise or call – that’s all you. You need a bit of luck, yes, but what you really need is the brain to know what to do with good cards. And that …” his eyes flickered, and Ryeowook followed his gaze. His gaze landed on Ricci, who was talking loudly, probably bragging, he had by now finished several drinks and seemed a tad drunker than he’d been in the first round. “Doesn’t come by itself,” Jungsoo finished.

“Maybe not,” Ryeowook agreed. He could agree on that, Ricci wasn’t a very good player.

Jungsoo sighed a little as he got up from his chair, they’d been sitting for quite a long time. “Why don’t we continue this conversation outside, I’m in need of a little fresh air?” He asked Ryeowook while looking expectantly at Ryeowook, clearly expecting Ryeowook to follow him. The game seemed to have dwelled down, as several of the players seemed to have taken a breather. It seemed like they had all collectively unofficially agreed that there would be a break now, not that Ryeowook minded. He was getting tired of playing poker. He hoped Kyuhyun would finish whatever secret business he had, so Ryeowook could get out of here. This was different from last time because this time Kyuhyun actually paid him to be here, which didn’t give Ryeowook any other choice but stick it out. A break from this scenery was more than welcome.

“Yeah sure,” Ryeowook easily agreed as he got up from his seat, “I need some air myself.” That settled it, and they started to walk out of the casino. Well, it was more Jungsoo leading Ryeowook out, Ryeowook only followed. They were taking another way out and the way Kyuhyun and he had taken in. Jungsoo led the way as if he knew the layout of the building already, there was so much confidence and assurance in his steps that Ryeowook wondered if he’d been here before. Which was almost impossible, this was their opening night, and Ryeowook couldn’t see any scenario where the Italian mafia would allow a commoner like Jungsoo; despite his important status in Chicago, into the casino before opening. However, Ryeowook couldn’t deny how Jungsoo led the way as if he already knew where everything was. Maybe this was the way he went in? Ryeowook disregarded any idea of Jungsoo knowing the layout before today, it was impossible for him to obtain that knowledge. Ryeowook wouldn’t be surprised if anyone in Kyuhyun’s circle knew the building’s layout, but Jungsoo wasn’t a part of any mob. He was a regular man.

They got out through a side door, leading out to a silent street. It wasn’t a back alley, because the street continued in both ways, but it gave off the same vibes. It was probably the less used parallel street of the main road. The night air was cold, but more than bearable, summer was after all just right around the corner. Within next week May would end and it would be June. Ryeowook couldn’t help the small smile that graced his features, June was his birthday month. The memory of his father asking if he’d come home for his birthday was still strong. He knew there was no fucking way that would ever happen. He was lucky if he came home for Christmas.

This deep cover was probably Ryeowook’s hardest case so far. Usually, he spent a few months on a case before he could wrap it up, this case was different. Ryeowook didn’t even know when he’d be done. Usually, he could guess and estimate when’d he be done, and his guess wasn’t usually too far off. This time his mind was blank. With Kyuhyun gatekeeping every kind of information that could be slightly vital Ryeowook saw no light in the long, long tunnel. Kyuhyun had to trust him for Ryeowook to be able to proceed to the next stage, but so far, all Kyuhyun did was this constant push and pull. He wanted Ryeowook close, but at the same time, he’d didn’t want to reveal anything of importance. He pushed Ryeowook away with his cold attitude, and secretive behaviour, before he pulled Ryeowook in by giving just a little information, and even then, he kept it to a minimum. Ryeowook hadn’t really proved that the gang could trust him, he knew this, but at the same time, he hadn’t done anything that earned him this mistrust. If Kyuhyun didn’t start showing a little trust, not anything major, just a small step in the right direction, Ryeowook would be forced to take serious actions. He wasn’t too concerned about the gang, that would follow. If Kyuhyun had decided he could trust Ryeowook, the others wouldn’t have any choice but follow suit. It wouldn’t hurt to look dependable with the others too, but Kyuhyun was the one that was most important to convince.

“What’s on your mind?” Jungsoo asked, killing Ryeowook’s train of thoughts and bringing him back to the real world.

Ryeowook laughed but it sounded dejected even to his own ears. “It would be easier if you asked what wasn’t on my mind,” he answered in the end. He couldn’t tell Jungsoo anything about his problems, even if he liked talking to the man, it wasn’t like he could reveal himself just for a little sympathy.

“Trouble in paradise?” he asked, but the voice was joking. He could see the crinkle in Jungsoo’s eyes and the slight teasing smile. Ryeowook felt the need to laugh out loud, one could say that, but not for the same reasons Jungsoo expected. Instead of laughing though, Ryeowook felt his body stiffen.

“Kyuhyun and I aren’t …” he didn’t know how to phrase it, “an item,” he settled on, “and I don’t think we’ll … develop our relationship like that. I travel a lot for my job, so I won’t stick around for long.” Ryeowook didn’t know how else he was going to describe his uncertain relationship to someone outside the mob life. He didn’t even know how far Jungsoo’s knowledge of Kyuhyun extended. Did he know Kyuhyun never had any long-lasting relationship? Probably since the media seemed interested in Kyuhyun’s flavour of the week, but did he know how deep it ran? Talking about Kyuhyun with Jungsoo was difficult, and weird because he didn’t want to accidentally reveal something, even if he knew almost nothing. Kyuhyun had made sure of that.

Jungsoo only laughed again, and smiled bigger, “that definitely seems like trouble,” he settled on.

“Not noteworthy trouble,” Ryeowook answered, “I mean, we haven’t talked about it, and I don’t think any of us are very interested in developing anything serious. I haven’t really planned when I’ll leave, but I don’t see myself staying here for a long period,” Ryeowook explained. He had to make it seem like it was a mutual thing as if Ryeowook was equally as indecisive as Kyuhyun. He had to say it like that because the alternative was revealing how desperate he was to get an in with Kyuhyun’s group because he was an FBI agent sent here on a mission to take the gang down.

“Don’t say that,” Jungsoo smiled, “he seems quite serious about you,” he continued, but Ryeowook was almost confident he said it to be polite. In what universe did Kyuhyun seem remotely serious about Ryeowook, except for seriously wanting to bed Ryeowook? Either Jungsoo had no insight whatsoever in Kyuhyun, he lied to Ryeowook’s face, or he had an insight to Kyuhyun that no one else had. Even Donghae had said it, not out loud of course, that Kyuhyun didn’t seem very interested in Ryeowook. What made Jungsoo claim something like that? He was probably just being nice. He was after all a civilian, Donghae was a criminal, and even if that didn’t necessarily have to mean anything, Donghae had more room to be blunt with Ryeowook. While Jungsoo didn’t.

“Ah, I doubt it,” Ryeowook replied, but didn’t offer any further explanation as to why.

“Kyu is a little,” Jungsoo began, speaking as if he was incredibly close to the other. Kyuhyun had said they were, but how close were they really? “Reserved,” Jungsoo settled on. “He’s very hesitant about letting people get close and doesn’t always show what he feels. However, just because he doesn’t always show it doesn’t mean it’s not there. He … well he treats you differently, I think he’s more serious about you than you think. Then even he thinks,” Jungsoo finished, before he added a confident nod and a small smile as if to lift Ryeowook’s spirits.

This would’ve been a nice moment. Jungsoo had lifted Ryeowook’s spirit with some encouraging and heartfelt words, Ryeowook could tell they were. It was a nice night outside not too cold and not too warm. It seemed like the perfect evening, a new casino was opening, and the opening party had been grand. When not if, Kyuhyun pulled off his stunt the gang would have raised spirits, and the gang would probably feel a little closer to Ryeowook, taking one small step closer to earning their trust. It was a nice night, indeed. If Ryeowook wasn’t on duty he would’ve tried to get the most out of the evening. Even when he was on duty, he couldn’t but help but enjoy the evening. He hadn’t been long in Chicago, but some days were better than others. Last Saturday had been horrible, but today was kind of nice.

However, Ryeowook should know nice thing didn’t last. The sudden peace that suddenly surrounded him and Jungsoo, couldn’t last. It happened faster than Ryeowook really managed to register it. The street was silent, and there were no cars passing by, Jungsoo and he was completely by themselves. Then suddenly there was a loud screeching noise that only grew louder, before Ryeowook was aware of it a white van was driving towards them before it abruptly stopped in front of them. Ryeowook wanted to react, do something, but before his mind even managed to decide what course of action he should take, masked men, jumped out of the car, guns readily pointed at Ryeowook and Jungsoo.

“Get in the car,” they yelled at Ryeowook, while they showed him towards the door. Ryeowook knew logically that he should fight them, he was a trained agent, so he should be able to fight them. Even if he was unarmed, but he froze completely. And then both he and Jungsoo was stuffed into the car. The last thing Ryeowook managed to think was how he’d told Kyuhyun jokingly the Italian mafia was going to kidnap him in a back alley, and how the other had promised no such thing would happen. He was knocked out before thoughts of irony struck him.

Ryeowook couldn’t help the feeling of déjà vu that crossed his mind as he woke up. This was the second time in a month he’d been kidnapped. He prayed to God this mission wouldn’t require kidnappings as a habit. This time, however, unlike last time where Ryeowook had been exactly where he had wanted to be, Ryeowook was somewhere he really didn’t want to be. Ryeowook had to get out of here. Last time the kidnapping, although quite unideal, had been inevitable, he needed to have his first meeting with Kyuhyun, and it had to be something that didn’t seem suspicious. Being stuffed into a car, knocked out, tied to a chair, and then threatened wasn’t something Ryeowook thought was fun, but it had been necessary. Now, on the other hand, Ryeowook was forced here, and it wouldn’t serve his purpose. Of course, he already knew his kidnappers were the Italian mafia and they had nothing that would help Ryeowook’s mission. It was a huge inconvenience.

When Ryeowook regained his consciousness, he spent a few minutes gathering his thoughts before he even bothered opening his eyes. He was sitting on a chair, that much was obvious, his hands were handcuffed, but it wasn’t anything Ryeowook couldn’t break out of. The Italian mafia were idiots, their underestimation of Ryeowook would be their downfall. He could hear hushed voices, so already there was someone watching over them. He could hear someone breathing not too close to himself, and he assumed that would be Jungsoo. It was colder than last time, and Ryeowook suspected he was in an empty warehouse. Why was it always a warehouse?

He opened his eyes to take in the scenery. He had been right. To his left Jungsoo was handcuffed to a chair just like himself, and the room they were in looked a lot like an old, abandoned warehouse. A few meters away from them there were two males, both in their thirties speaking in hushed voices. Both of Italian descent, they were armed, but aside from that, they didn’t look much like a threat. Jungsoo was already awake, and their eyes met, Jungsoo smiled at him and Ryeowook returned it with a small smile.

“Are you alright?” Jungsoo asked him, and Ryeowook felt dumbfounded. His eyes widened, and he was unable to answer vocally, and only nodded dumbly. Why was Jungsoo so calm and collected? Wouldn’t people in this kind of situation freak out, beg for their life, or something? He analysed Jungsoo’s face, he was unharmed, so it didn’t seem like the mobsters had threatened him or anything. Maybe, Jungsoo just had a calm persona?

“Good,” Jungsoo concluded with, “don’t worry,” he assured Ryeowook, “we’ll get out,” he said it with such confidence Ryeowook wondered how he could be so certain? He said as if he was working out a plan right this moment, which he didn’t. It would be impossible for him to do anything, he was a common man, without the training Ryeowook had. The police would come for them, sometime, but Ryeowook didn’t know how long it would take until they were reported missing, and he didn’t know what the Italian mafia would’ve done by then. No, he couldn’t count on the police, and the FBI was even worse. If they rescued Ryeowook they would be blowing his cover. Any law enforcement was out of the question, so what remained? Who could possibly save them from this situation?

Kyuhyun and his gang could. In theory.

The more important question though wasn’t if they could, they could, without doubt, the question was if they would. Would they be willing to go on a rescue for Ryeowook and Jungsoo? Ryeowook wasn’t anything special for Kyuhyun or the gang. He was Kyuhyun’s two-time fuck, that was all. Maybe, a sort of employee if you stretched, but aside from that, the gang could live without him. If Ryeowook disappeared now, Kyuhyun would be able to sleep at night. Ryeowook had minor, or none, significance for the gang. He couldn’t really demand that they would storm the Italian mafia to get him out of here. Kyuhyun had promised his safety, and Kyuhyun could go on a rampage just to show the Italian who run this city, but he didn’t need Ryeowook alive. He could get his revenge after they’d killed Ryeowook.

The black-haired male was unsure what significance Jungsoo held for Kyuhyun. He knew they were close, and had a strong friendship, but did it run any deeper than work colleagues? Kyuhyun couldn’t exactly reveal that he was a mobster to Jungsoo. So, why would he bother to rescue Jungsoo if it only set his own position in danger over a work colleague? It would be a shame to see him go, but sacrifices had to be made. Kyuhyun wouldn’t be this powerful if he wasn’t willing to make some sacrifices here and there.

To conclude, Ryeowook didn’t know if Kyuhyun would rescue them. He could in theory, but if he did, he would set himself in danger over relationships that, maybe, didn’t matter that much to him.

Even if he did rescue them, would he let Jungsoo live? If Jungsoo talked he was a dead man, but the only real way to ensure his silence was to kill him. The dead couldn’t talk. Was Jungsoo doomed? If they stayed the Italian mafia would kill him, if Kyuhyun even bothered to save them, he risked dying to ensure no information got out. Jungsoo was dead here. If Kyuhyun risked his own position to save them it was unsure if he’d let Jungsoo live, and if he did it was unsure if Jungsoo would keep his mouth shut or not. Which meant, Kyuhyun couldn’t save them. It was up to Ryeowook. Ryeowook had to be the one to save them. No one else could do it. Because no one else would make it in time or could assure Jungsoo living without living in fear of revealing Kyuhyun’s real identity.

Ryeowook had to get them out, by himself. Wasn’t that just peachy?

“Oi, he’s awake.” It was the Italian mafia guys, and they walked closer to the two of them. Ryeowook exchanged looks with Jungsoo, but he didn’t show any fear. The man was calm and collected, and Ryeowook wasn’t particularly scared of these small fish, so he started working on the handcuffs. If he got out of them, he could take them out, and then help Jungsoo. Hopefully, they could find a way out of this building and then get away before the higher-ups realised that their victims had escaped.

“Please, let us go,” Jungsoo asked them, “or I think you’ll regret this action gravely.” He threatened, but the two males just laughed. It was a nasty laughter, one that made shudders move up and down your spine, but not in the good way. Not the way Kyuhyun gave him shudders, but in the same kind of way when you watched something horrible or got scared. The noise was horrible to his ears.

“What’ll you do,” one of them asked, he was the more muscular of the two of them, “call your lawyers?” He started to play with his gun to seem more threatening, but Ryeowook couldn’t help but think he looked like FBI trainees that still didn’t quite know how to handle a gun. He looked irresponsible. The other man laughed again, and Ryeowook got the urge of duck taping their mouth shut so he didn’t have to listen to their laughter.

Jungsoo didn’t say anything in response, but just raised his brows. When the laughter died down, he mumbled something. “We’ll see about that,” Ryeowook could hear him utter, but the two from the Italian mafia didn’t seem to care at all. Ryeowook understood why they didn’t take Jungsoo seriously, what was he supposed to do? He was completely powerless, he might be rich, but he held no power here. Ryeowook couldn’t really understand why they had even bothered kidnapping Jungsoo, what use did he have for them? Ryeowook was a jab at Kyuhyun, for sure, but what purpose did Jungsoo serve? Only, sadly for the Italian mafia, they thought Ryeowook had more importance for Kyuhyun than he had. They should’ve kidnapped Hyukjae or something.

“I told you we shouldn’t have taken him,” the skinnier out of the two, told the other. Maybe he was the brain, and the other was the muscle? “Boss only told us to take Kyuhyun’s boyfriend we just want the ransom, what use do we have for this guy?”

“I told you,” the more muscular guy answered, “he’s filthy rich, we’ll get twice the amount.” They continued to argue, but Ryeowook started to laugh.

“What’s so funny, lil’ guy?” The muscular guy asked while waving the gun at him. He seemed to have the worst temper out of the two. Ryeowook wasn’t particularly threatened though, he’d met worse people – this guy didn’t seem much like an obstacle, not even a minor inconvenience.

“I just think it’s funny,” Ryeowook began, the taunting smile still visible on his features, “that you actually think Kyuhyun gives a damn shit about me. You kidnapped the wrong people.” Ryeowook needed to buy some time to get out of the handcuffs, he didn’t know what the Italian mobsters had planned for him, but he counted on not finding out. If he could keep them here while he worked the handcuffs, until he got out, he could prevent them from doing anything else that could endanger them anymore.

“Oh please,” the skinny man began, “we saw how he treated you at the casino, we ain’t blind.” Ryeowook was almost out of them. He had done this multiple times, in the field and out of the field, but Ryeowook had never been the fastest at it. He could remember when the trainees had taken the time, he’d always been beaten by several others. However, he’d never been the last either, he was just mediocre.

“But you’re clearly dumb,” he said to rile them up a little more. It had the exact effect he wanted it to have. “He’s not coming for me, and I don’t know what you’re demanding in ransom – but he won’t pay. Next time, try kidnapping he’s actually closed to,” Ryeowook ended his sentence, and the muscular man looked like he was ready to explode. He raised his hand to hit Ryeowook, but right before his fist got in contact with Ryeowook’s face, Ryeowook grabbed his hand and stopped it. The muscular stumbled slightly back, Ryeowook used this moment to get out of his chair, and took a fighting stance.

The idiots hadn’t even tied his feet, and Ryeowook was ready to fight them now that he wasn’t handcuffed anymore. He kicked the more muscular guy in the stomach sending him flying towards the concrete floor. The black-haired male turned to the other skinnier man and kicked him too, he was lighter and easier to kick. So, it wasn’t all that surprising that Ryeowook’s hard kick made him fall to the ground where he was lying gasping after air.

Ryeowook couldn’t really remember the last mission he had been in need of the self-defence lessons they thought at the bureau, but that didn’t mean Ryeowook had practised the techniques when he’d been off duty. The muscular was up to his feet again, but Ryeowook reacted quicker than him, and sent another kick his way, once again sending him to the floor. He panted loudly from having his breath knocked out of him, and Ryeowook took the chance to kick his gun away. He didn’t want to kill them himself, but he couldn’t risk any of them using the gun against Ryeowook, or worse in Jungsoo. He needed to keep Jungsoo safe, so he needed to eliminate any possible dangers.

Jungsoo said nothing, he just watched awe-struck, while Ryeowook fought the skinny man. They exchanged some punches, but the skinny man’s punches lacked strength and he seemed to just punch anywhere he could than to think strategically or use any real strength. Making him easy to predict, and easy to fight. It was clear the skinny man had no real experience with hand combat or fighting in general. Some mobsters, like these guys, relied too much on guns – making them vulnerable without them. He kicked the skinny man again, and the man fell to the floor, Ryeowook kicked him again, in the head this time. With that, he’d knocked out the skinny man. Ryeowook didn’t have time to feel guilt that he’d kicked him in the head, which could leave a lot of internal damage, at least he hadn’t killed him. He couldn’t spare the skinny man any more thoughts before he had to turn to the muscular man. When Ryeowook had knocked him out he could get Jungsoo free and they could escape this warehouse.

The muscular man made a run for him, but Ryeowook dodged him easily enough. The other man halted in his tracks and turned to Ryeowook. By the time he was facing Ryeowook again, Ryeowook was already ready and gave him a right jab, followed up by a left hook and, right cross. Ryeowook wouldn’t say he was particularly strong, but he laid his entire weight into his punches making them still impactful. The mobster stumbled back, a natural response to get away from Ryeowook’s punches, but Ryeowook was again faster than him. He landed another kick to the man’s side, making him stumble again, and then Ryeowook kicked the mobster’s shin – making him lose his balance completely. Luckily for Ryeowook, unluckily for the mobster, he hit his head as he fell – and the head damage knocked him out completely. Ryeowook couldn’t even be bothered to check if he was alive or feel guilty about causing the other such damage. Sometimes, Darwin’s laws applied to the human world too. It was the survival of the fittest, and Ryeowook needed to insure that Jungsoo, and he stayed alive.

“C’mon, let’s go.” He told Jungsoo as he struggled with his handcuffs, he didn’t really know how he should get them open. He couldn’t fire the gun at them and risked alarming more mobsters, or hurt Jungsoo. He couldn’t explain to the man how he would get out of the handcuffs; they didn’t have the time. And even if Ryeowook technically would be able to pick the lock, he had no lock-picking gear or the time to even start breaking the lock. Maybe they had a key? They seemed stupid enough to have a key close by, Ryeowook searched the muscular man to see if he was carrying a key, and for once he actually lucked out.

“I think this key will fit,” he told Jungsoo as he dangled it slightly over his head as to show the key to the other male. Jungsoo was strangely quiet, but Ryeowook didn’t pay attention to it, he had more important matters to deal with. If Jungsoo was quiet because he was afraid or amazed by Ryeowook’s fighting skills then there wasn’t much Ryeowook could do about it, aside from getting Jungsoo out of here and into a safer environment.

“That’s pretty amazing of you Ryeowook-ah,” Jungsoo complimented him, as Ryeowook went behind his back to lock up the handcuffs. “Where did you learn to fight like that?”

Ryeowook didn’t know how to answer and chewed on his bottom lip as he tried to find an excuse that actually sounded believable, but at the same time not far-fetched. “The army,” Ryeowook answered weakly, and he sounded unsure even to his own ears.

He locked up Jungsoo’s handcuff, it was to Ryeowook’s great pleasure, the right key. The blond man was quick to take his hands to his front, to massage his wrists, before he got up from the chair. Ryeowook didn’t know what to do with the handcuffs and mindlessly put them in his pocket. “Where you enlisted in the army?” he asked a mix of surprise and disbelief was laced in his voice.

“Not for long,” Ryeowook laughed bitterly as if he actually had painful memories related to his fake army period. There was no such thing as an army period in his life, but Ryeowook couldn’t exactly say he learnt how to fight as an FBI trainee. He didn’t want to lie, but there wasn’t any other choice that kept his identity hidden.

“Ah, I see,” Jungsoo only answered with an understanding tone. He looked at Ryeowook for a while, and Ryeowook looked him back in the eye. It was silent, for less than a minute, but it felt like it stretched out for much longer than that.

“Let’s go, before more come,” Ryeowook said, and Jungsoo nodded in agreement before they turned for the only exit.

“Do you know the way out?” Jungsoo asked, as Ryeowook stopped and picked up the gun he’d kicked away. He shook his head before he answered.

“I don’t even know where we are,” he laughed bitterly again, but this time the laughter wasn’t forced, because it was the truth. Ryeowook was confident he’d find his way back to the city centre, and navigate back to his apartment, but he didn’t know where he was. He was just feeling his way around things. Jungsoo accepted his answer, not that he had any other choice in the matter.

They navigated silently through the warehouse, Ryeowook first and Jungsoo behind him. Ryeowook easily fell into the pattern of his old FBI ways, he was mindful to check every direction before he deemed it safe to proceed. The gun was safely in hand, pointed at the ground mostly unless he checked for threats. They walked like that for a few minutes until Ryeowook spotted the first window in the building. He didn’t linger by it since windows could be dangerous if the Italian mafia had snipers. Which doubted they had, but you could never be too careful. However, he could easily tell that they were on the second floor and that it was still dark outside, a little darker than the last time Ryeowook had been outside, but at least he knew it was still night, and not too much had passed. Which was a relief because Ryeowook couldn’t afford to lose any time. All time was vital and Ryeowook needed all the time he could get to sway Kyuhyun to his favour.

“We need to find some stairs,” Ryeowook whispered to Jungsoo who nodded in agreement. There wasn’t any obvious flight of stairs anywhere Ryeowook could see, so they were forced to look for it. Ryeowook was certain he could probably climb the building if it was necessary, but this time he wasn’t alone, and Jungsoo couldn’t do that. So, they went looking for the stairs. The hallways were dark and eery quiet, Ryeowook didn’t like it. It made it harder to predict his surroundings. Were there others here, or were the two mobsters Ryeowook had knocked out the only ones here? Ryeowook doubted that to be the case, it seemed too strange to only leave two people – who weren’t particularly smart or skilled – in charge of not one but two kidnapping victims. There had to be others here, but where were they? Were they waiting around the corner to lure Ryeowook and Jungsoo into a trap? Ryeowook didn’t like the silence, and the sooner they were out of this warehouse, the better.

They continued in silence, Ryeowook didn’t dare talk in case he should alarm anyone close by. Jungsoo seemed to either have the same opinion or noticed the serious atmosphere and decided to keep quiet. Either way, he kept his mouth shut. They continued for a while until they finally found a flight of stairs, and Ryeowook couldn’t help but smile at the small victory. They were a small step closer getting out of here and putting all this behind them. The smile, however, quickly disappeared from Ryeowook’s face, and he could feel Jungsoo stiffen behind him. There was a man walking up the stairs, and he spotted them immediately, first he stared wide-eyed at them before he pulled his act together and an expression of fury replaced the bewildered expression. Ryeowook didn’t think, his own body acted on instinct.

Before the Italian mobster was up the stairs, Ryeowook had already kicked him down the stairs, sending him stumbling backwards. He lost his balance and fell down to the mid-level of the stairs. He was laying on the concrete ground completely still, but he was panting loudly. The black-haired man was still acting purely on instinct and chased the man. The handcuffs he had mindlessly stuffed into his pocket was now put to good use, as he handcuffed the man to the closest pipe that was connected to the wall. Ryeowook took a step back to admire his work, while the mobster was slowly regaining his senses. However, it was too late. Ryeowook had already trapped him.

Jungsoo was still standing silently on the 2nd floor, silent. Maybe he was awe-struck, Ryeowook couldn’t tell. It didn’t feel like he had the time to analyse it either. They needed to get going. This man’s presence proved Ryeowook’s suspicions, there were more of them here, and Ryeowook would rather not meet any more of them.

“Jungsoo c’mon,” he yelled at the other man, his voice sounding stressed even to himself. However, Ryeowook didn’t think that was too strange. His uneasiness would cease when they got out of here. The blond man fumbled down the stairs as if Ryeowook had woke him from a trance, and he was soon by Ryeowook’s side again as they continued down the last steps of the stairs. Now that they were on the first floor, all they had to do was find an exit. However, yet again it all seemed a lot easier in Ryeowook’s head than what actually happened in reality. Once again, they halted in their tracks as another male approached them. Ryeowook raised his gun and pointed it directly at the approaching man.

“Drop the gun,” the Italian man said. He too was holding a gun and pointing at Ryeowook. No one dared to move, one wrong move would end up in someone’s death. Ryeowook made no motion to drop the gun, he had no intention of dropping the gun at all. “I said, drop the gun,” the man repeated, but Ryeowook wasn’t dumb enough to follow the order.

“You drop the gun,” Ryeowook countered back, which lured out nasty laughter from the other man.

“Drop the gun or,” the other began in threatening tone, Ryeowook could see he moved the gun, and aimed it at Jungsoo. “I’ll shoot him.” Ryeowook couldn’t help the small gasp that left his mouth, Jungsoo was unarmed and had no possible way to defend himself. They were cornered by this man. If Ryeowook dropped the gun there was no way of telling what this man would do, but they wouldn’t be safe. If Ryeowook didn’t drop the gun Jungsoo would die. Ryeowook closed his eyes for less than a second, he knew what he had to do even though he dreaded the outcome. His fingers pulled the trigger, and the bullet flew right towards the man’s stomach, hitting him before he had time to react or pull his own trigger. The man who’d been wearing a white t-shirt was now coloured by blood, and the red spot only grew larger. His face lost all his colour, and he gasped for air. Ryeowook could see how he stumbled a few steps backwards before his boy collapsed on the floor. The man’s eyes fluttered, and he couldn’t help but see the man’s eyes slowly lose any sign of life.

He was dying. And Ryeowook had killed him.

The sight was already engraved into his memory, Ryeowook he would never forget. The image of the dying man would always haunt him. This wasn’t the first person Ryeowook had killed, but it always had such an impact on Ryeowook after he’d killed someone, it had happened twice before this, that Ryeowook was almost unable to work. Ryeowook hated killing someone. He could do it physically, but mentally he didn’t think he was strong enough to actually handle it. Ryeowook felt frozen in place, and his eyes couldn’t leave the dying man. He knew he should move, but he seemed almost unable to. All he could do was watch the effect of his own work. This wasn’t the time or the place for a panic attack, but he could feel his own body start to go into full panic mode. Ryeowook already felt trapped in his head, and his breath quickened.

“Ryeowook?” it was Jungsoo, his voice sounded so far away. He lightly touched Ryeowook’s arm, and Ryeowook flinched from the sudden touch, but it was he had needed. Jungsoo brought him back to the real world, reminding Ryeowook at the real matters at hand. They were still in the warehouse, and they still needed to get away. This wasn’t the time or place for a panic attack. Not at all. Jungsoo was defenceless without Ryeowook, he needed Ryeowook to be calm and collective, so he could get them out of here. Ryeowook spared one last glance at the now, probably, dead man, the image would continue to haunt Ryeowook, but it would be better of him to take it later. When Jungsoo’s life didn’t depend on him being sane and calm.

“Let’s go,” Ryeowook muttered as he held Jungsoo and him in a random direction, following a hunch or just walking at random. Luckily for them, they didn’t run into any more people from the Italian mafia, Ryeowook wasn’t quite sure if he’d be able to handle it if they did. After wandering around for some minutes, they finally managed to find an exit to Ryeowook’s great pleasure. All he wanted right now was to get away from this entire situation.

Ryeowook didn’t know what he’d been expecting to see outside, more people from the Italian mafia maybe? Or completely empty streets? He didn’t expect cops or the feds, but even that was more likely than what he got. Outside the warehouse Kyuhyun and other members of Leeteuk’s gang were standing, discussing something. The same black van they’d kidnapped Ryeowook in was parked on the side, and they were all dressed in suits. They didn’t see Ryeowook and Jungsoo coming, but when they finally did, it didn’t seem like they’d come here for Ryeowook. It felt like they were pulling out the big guns for a rescue mission and were wasting too many resources than what Ryeowook was worth. Why would Kyuhyun spend so much time, energy, and resources on Ryeowook when they were acquaintances. They all seemed to run towards them to make sure they were okay. Ryeowook understood Kyuhyun probably were worried about his colleague, who he apparently was close to, but Jungsoo didn’t know about his mafia business, and he was looking hella suspicious.

“Leeteuk, are you okay?” It was Hyukjae who spoke first, revealing the final missing puzzle piece. It all made sense now. Kyuhyun and his gang had like Ryeowook assumed never been here to rescue him, at best he was a nice afterthought. The others didn’t care if they looked suspicious because Park Jungsoo was their leader. They didn’t need to look like normal law-obeying citizens, because he was a part of the act. Heck, he was the fucking director of the play, while the others were the actors. Ryeowook felt like he was among the audience being played.

“Leeteuk?!” He asked outraged and turned to Jungsoo, who seemed to send Hyukjae a curt look for revealing his identity. “He is Leeteuk?” He rudely pointed at the older man while looking at Kyuhyun for some sort of explanation. An explanation Kyuhyun obviously wasn’t going to give him. God, now everything made sense. The way Jungsoo had acted at the gala, or the way he’d been acting all evening. It felt like he was testing Ryeowook beyond his talents as Kyuhyun’s freelancer date. It explained how Jungsoo had calmly gone with the mafia, or how he’d been sitting there stoically in the warehouse, not fearing death. It explained how Jungsoo could be so sure that the Italians would regret this because he knew what they would do to them. He’d probably even be the one to plan the revenge!

No one told him anything, but they didn’t need to, because their silence spoke enough.

“Well, isn’t that fucking peachy?” Ryeowook asked aggressively to no one in particular, “you know,” he looked directly at Kyuhyun. It felt weird to be angry at Shin Donghee, Yesung, Hyukjae or Jungsoo because he didn’t know them that well. It wasn’t all that fair, but he took his anger out on Kyuhyun. “You could’ve told me something before I fucking beat all those Italians, and killed someone,” Ryeowook sneered angrily.

“Wait, you were the one who got you out?” Donghee seemed impressed. Of course, he understood their logical conclusion that Jungsoo was the one who got them out, but Ryeowook was the one holding the gun. And Ryeowook wouldn’t have acted this angry if he’d seen Jungsoo kill, he’d probably be able to connect the dots himself.

“I thought he was an innocent citizen and that he’d die. So, I had to save him,” he said, obviously referring to Jungsoo, but not offering him a glance. Ryeowook wasn’t over it, he’d been kidnapped together with the most dangerous man in Illinois and at some point, Ryeowook had actually been scared for his life. When he’d had nothing to worry about. “But I realise now, that I could’ve just sat there like him, and everything would’ve been fine.” He spat poisonously at Kyuhyun. This was why Jungsoo had been so confident that they would be fine. He’d even told Ryeowook at some point they didn’t need to worry because the blond man had always known. He’d always known Kyuhyun, and the others were coming for him, and then Kyuhyun could’ve blown it off as a rescue mission for Ryeowook, and he’d continue to live his life in bliss without knowing the identity behind Leeteuk.

Kyuhyun glared back at Ryeowook, and Ryeowook could see the fire in the brunet’s brown eyes. He wasn’t exactly happy about the way Ryeowook was speaking at him, especially in front of the others. Not that Ryeowook cared, Ryeowook wasn’t going to back down just because he was embarrassing Kyuhyun in front of his friends or whatever. Sure, Kyuhyun wasn’t used to being fought, but he shouldn’t have the habit of mistreating Ryeowook, because Ryeowook would speak up. After what felt like a few tense minutes where nothing was exchanged except for their staring competition, Kyuhyun replied quite rudely. “Ryeowook, you realise I couldn’t have possibly told you anything?” He could tell Kyuhyun was quite annoyed with him. But at least they were on the same page because Ryeowook was annoyed with the brunet too.

“And look where that got you? I killed a man!” Ryeowook argued back. He had killed before, but Kyuhyun didn’t know that. The version Kyuhyun knew of him freaked out when he saw a dead man, and Ryeowook knew the brunet had worried to some extent about him. If Kyuhyun cared even just a little bit about Ryeowook he’d worry how killing a man would affect Ryeowook. He would probably worry, but he wouldn’t realise how much effect killing someone should have on Ryeowook. Right now, Kyuhyun was too busy caring about their argument than to realise such things. The people around them were silent, all watching their exchange thoroughly.

“You could’ve just waited, we would’ve come for you,” Kyuhyun dismissed him completely, and Ryeowook scoffed. That seemed to aggravate Kyuhyun further. That Ryeowook wasn’t taking his words seriously.

“Oh, that’s rich of you!” Ryeowook yelled angrily at Kyuhyun. The brunet seemed taken aback by Ryeowook’s anger. It was obvious that Kyuhyun wasn’t used to people arguing against him or fighting him. “You want me to trust you. When you don’t trust me at all,” Ryeowook sneered at him. He could hear a small comment from the side-line audience that sounded like Hyukjae saying ‘good point’, but he ignored it on purpose.

“But we would’ve saved you!” Kyuhyun fired back. Ignoring how double standard that was of him. Kyuhyun expected Ryeowook to have the utmost faith in him and the plan with minimal information, in return, he didn’t trust Ryeowook to even give basic information. Kyuhyun expected Ryeowook to be ready for his every move without needing to give anything back.

“You’ll have to excuse me for having little faith in you because I distinctly remember you saying nothing would happen to me if the Italian mafia tried to harm me, but guess what?” Ryeowook asked angrily. “They fucking kidnapped me, and ‘the people you had watching’ well they didn’t do shit,” he continued equally irritated. His irritation didn’t fade as he had expected it would, because Kyuhyun was completely unable to see Ryeowook’s side of things and refused to be the one who was mistaken. Kyuhyun was somehow trying to blame this entire fuck up on Ryeowook, and that was what aggravated Ryeowook. That Kyuhyun refused to see Ryeowook’s side and realise that he had done something that was stupid and wrong, and then apologize for it.

Kyuhyun’s brown eyes quickly scanned Ryeowook, to check his condition before he replied. “Nothing did happen to you, you’re unharmed!” Kyuhyun yelled back, but it was a weak argument that only riled Ryeowook up further. Kyuhyun couldn’t claim that Ryeowook’s was due to his actions. Ryeowook was unharmed because he’d saved himself, not because Kyuhyun had done an exemplary job of protecting him.

“Don’t you dare take credit for that!” Ryeowook countered back equally loudly. He pointed angrily at Kyuhyun as he continued. “That was my doing! I broke those handcuffs; I beat those mobsters. I killed a man, because you failed to hold your word!” He knew that Kyuhyun took himself very seriously and if Kyuhyun gave you his word he intended to keep it. So, using that against him, that Kyuhyun was unable to keep his word seemed to make the other even angrier. However, the brunet was too smart to get really angry with an audience watching. Ryeowook had no doubt that Kyuhyun would’ve been angrier if it had just been the two of them because Ryeowook was pushing Kyuhyun’s buttons, and pushing him towards the edge.

The brunet took a second to calm down, hoping to regain control of the situation. “Why are you so angry, we were on our way to rescue you!” he claimed truthfully. They had been on their way to rescue him, but it was idiotic of Kyuhyun to ask Ryeowook why he was angry. He knew why Ryeowook was angry, he just failed to consider Ryeowook’s feelings as valid.

“And how could I know that for sure, huh?” Ryeowook asked getting a little up in Kyuhyun’s personal space, but the brunet didn’t back down. “Do you really think that I could sit there confidently knowing you’d save me? No, for all I knew you would’ve let them kill me,” he accused Kyuhyun. The accusation seemed to push Kyuhyun even closer to the edge. Because he flared up and breathed heavily through his nose. Ryeowook hadn’t seen Kyuhyun this angry before, but he could understand Kyuhyun’s bad temper. He was pushing Kyuhyun’s buttons on purpose, and he just accused Kyuhyun of wanting to kill him. It was enough to rile up any normal person.

“I would never-…” Kyuhyun began clearly outraged, but Ryeowook didn’t let him finish as he interrupted him.

“Yeah, but I don’t know that because you don’t tell me shit!” He yelled at Kyuhyun before he took a pause. The seconds ticked away slowly as Ryeowook stared down Kyuhyun; who’s gaze didn’t waver from his own. The tension in the air was thick, and the audience watching only feet away from them was completely invisible. “You know what? Fuck this! Fuck you! I’m leaving!” Ryeowook yelled angrily, but this time not just at Kyuhyun but to the general crowd. The safety of the gun was on, and he threw it away harshly, not caring where it landed. He wanted the weapon away from him, just like he wanted to be away from Kyuhyun and his impossible attitude. Sadly, it was easier to remove the weapon away from him than to remove himself from this situation. He stepped away from Kyuhyun not sparing him – or the others – a last glance, as he stomped away in a random direction. Ryeowook didn’t care where he went, he just wanted to get away. He could navigate later when his temper had died down and he was far away from Kyuhyun.

“The limo’s the other way,” Kyuhyun yelled after him, his tone slightly humoured as if he was watching a toddler’s tantrum. Did Kyuhyun really expect Ryeowook to turn towards the limo? Did he really think that after all this Ryeowook was still coming back to Kyuhyun’s manor to fuck, or let the brunet drive him home?

He stopped dead in his tracks and turned to Kyuhyun and didn’t miss the smirk on Kyuhyun’s face. Yeah, the bastard really did think that Ryeowook was going to head towards the limousine like a good pet. “Bold of you to assume I’m leaving with you,” Ryeowook yelled back. The sentence was delivered in a venomous tone as if driving in the same car with Kyuhyun was the last thing on Earth that Ryeowook could want right now. He didn’t miss the laughter from the crowd, but Kyuhyun didn’t laugh. The smirk disappeared and his mood soured. Ryeowook didn’t spare him more attention before he turned again and started walking again. He knew Kyuhyun well enough to know that Kyuhyun wasn’t letting him go that easily. Especially, when Kyuhyun wasn’t the one that had ‘won’ the discussion.

He could hear the sound of someone, Kyuhyun, running after him, but Ryeowook didn’t wait to let Kyuhyun catch up to him. “Ryeowook!” Not even when Kyuhyun called his name did Ryeowook stop to let Kyuhyun catch up with him. If Kyuhyun wanted to talk to Ryeowook then Kyuhyun should reach him himself. When Kyuhyun finally did catch up with Ryeowook, he grabbed Ryeowook’s arm as if to hold him in place.

“Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun called this time to get his attention, but Ryeowook refused to cave in that easily.

“No!” Ryeowook answered before he ripped his arm out of Kyuhyun’s touch. “You know what I don’t care, but the least you could do is thank me when I did that partly for you!” he told Kyuhyun angrily, he was still borderline yelling, the others could probably hear him just fine. He could see Kyuhyun roll his eyes. Which only amplified his anger.

“You killed a man for me Ryeowook? Wow, romantic!” Kyuhyun replied sarcastically, his voice equally as loud as Ryeowook’s.

“Fuck you!” Ryeowook swore at him before he explained to Kyuhyun his line of thoughts. “I didn’t know if you’d come to rescue me, and I didn’t know if you did, you’d let Jungsoo live, and I didn’t know if you let him live, he’d keep his mouth shut. I saved his life, saved your reputation, and my own life, no thanks to you,” he added as an intentional stab. “The least you could do is show a little gratitude,” he told Kyuhyun curtly.

“We were on our way to save the both of you,” Kyuhyun repeated as if that would justify everything. He said it in a way as if it would’ve been obvious. It wasn’t an obvious matter that Kyuhyun would save him. How couldn’t Kyuhyun see that? Sure, maybe Kyuhyun had always thought he’d save Ryeowook from the kidnapping, but Kyuhyun always kept him at a distance, afraid to let Ryeowook come close. It was impossible to know where they stood, and Ryeowook couldn’t bet his life on Kyuhyun. Not when Kyuhyun was unpredictable and difficult to understand.

“We’ve fucked twice, how could I be so sure of that?” Ryeowook asked way too harshly, that he was certain that the others had heard him. If Lee Hyukjae’s laugher was anything to go by. He could see Kyuhyun was insulted by his blow, but he quickly recovered. “And I didn’t know he,” he made a hand motion towards Jungsoo, “was Leeteuk so it’s not like I would know that, would I? You refuse to tell me anything that could be of significance. You can’t even tell me that Donghae hacked the news, and then you expect me to think you’re gonna throw together an entire rescue team? Yeah, that adds up,” he finished sarcastically.

“Exactly we’ve fucked twice,” Kyuhyun agreed as if he too didn’t think of it as anything of importance. Ryeowook knew that wasn’t true, they both knew that although they’d slept together twice, it held more importance than just a two-night stand. But not enough importance to develop into a relationship either. “You think you’re special enough to get to know every secret of mine?” Kyuhyun asked him particularly poisonously, but Ryeowook didn’t let the brunet’s words get to him. Of course, he wasn’t dumb enough to think that Kyuhyun would reveal everything to Ryeowook, but he would’ve liked to know a little more, if just for his own sake and sanity.

“Don’t be stupid!” he told Kyuhyun. That always worked to rile Kyuhyun up, he hated being thought of as stupid. “But you’re my employer, and as your employee, you should at least keep me informed. So, I don’t fuck the operation up, or maybe, I don’t know, end up being kidnapped?” Once again blaming all this on Kyuhyun. It wasn’t fair of Ryeowook to blame the kidnapping on Kyuhyun, Kyuhyun hadn’t planned for that. It was the Italians fault, of course, but if Kyuhyun had told him more about the job, Ryeowook would’ve been more careful and probably never ended up in this situation in the first place. So, although it wasn’t initially Kyuhyun’s fault, he could’ve prevented it. “You know what?” he began, still as furious as ever. “Keep the fucking money, I don’t want it! I’m leaving!” Once again, he stepped away from Kyuhyun ready to leave the scene. This time Kyuhyun was quicker to grab his arm and reel him back in.

“Where do you think you’re going?!” he asked Ryeowook angrily. Clearly, Kyuhyun wasn’t used to being walked out on in an argument. Maybe Kyuhyun wasn’t used to arguments at all? Maybe Ryeowook was the first to ever test his patience, and push his buttons? If no one had previously, it was about damn time, in that case.

“I’m going to pack my suitcases and get the hell away from you!” Ryeowook told him in an annoyed voice. Right that second, Ryeowook knew he meant it. Mission be damned, he would leave Chicago just to prove a stupid point to Kyuhyun.

“No, you’re not!” Kyuhyun told him as if he really had any power over what Ryeowook did and didn’t. If Ryeowook put his mind to it, Kyuhyun wouldn’t be able to stop him.

“Yes, I am!” Ryeowook told him confidently.

Kyuhyun groaned out in frustration. “You’re impossible!” he yelled out. The others were watching them intensely, Ryeowook wondered what they thought of him, and what they thought of Kyuhyun. Was this a new side of Kyuhyun they’d never seen, or where they used to Kyuhyun’s stubbornness? Was Ryeowook’s image tainted in their minds now? Or did they respect him for standing up to Kyuhyun? Did they even care? He wanted to ask, but it wasn’t like he could stop mid-argument to ask for the others’ opinions.

“And you’re a self-centred, conceited, childish, stubborn prick who fails to see anything from someone else’s perspective!” Ryeowook snapped back without breaking a sweat. “Just for a second, if you can Cho Kyuhyun, put yourself in my shoes. I get that you have this big mafia crap you want to keep secret, but this isn’t even about you and your illegal shady shit. It’s about me, and that I would feel safer if I’d been informed, or that I wouldn’t even have been kidnapped in the first place!” Kyuhyun seemed completely stunned by Ryeowook’s words and didn’t reply at first. He just stood there watching Ryeowook, probably for the first time since they started arguing taking the words Ryeowook said into consideration.

“Let me go,” Ryeowook told Kyuhyun a little calmer, and the brunet let him go, but he still didn’t answer. He looked at Ryeowook, and the smaller, black-haired male didn’t break his gaze away from Kyuhyun as the other stared him down. They stood there maybe for a minute, maybe longer, before he could see the change in Kyuhyun’s entire attitude. His posture changed from straightened up to a little dejected, his expression changed, and it seemed that Kyuhyun realised that he was the one who was mistaken here. Kyuhyun stepped a little closer as if to ensure that the only one who could hear him was Ryeowook before he slowly started.

“Ryeowook, I’m sorry,” he began very softly. His brown eyes never left Ryeowook’s, and Ryeowook could see the sincerity in them. “I’m sorry I couldn’t keep my word, I never meant for this to happen. I’m sorry I withheld so much information. I know I can trust you to a degree. I’m sorry you had to kill a man. I’m sorry you thought it was necessary of you because I haven’t been making myself clear. I’m sorry Ryeowook, please forgive me,” he begged at the end. Kyuhyun was apologizing in such a serious way, that Ryeowook was completely awestruck. He felt speechless, he didn’t know what to say. But his silence proved to be enough as Kyuhyun continued his speech.

“But also thank you,” he continued in the same low voice. Ryeowook could see that the group of watchers were observing them intensely, but none of them was able to pick up Kyuhyun’s words. The words were only meant for Ryeowook. “You did well at the casino, and you handled this situation so skilfully. Thank you for saving our dearest leader, and for thinking of my reputation even in a situation like that. Thank you Ryeowook,” he told Ryeowook, still just as serious. The space between them got smaller, and Kyuhyun leant slowly against him as if he needed support. Of course, Ryeowook knew he didn’t need it, but it was something about Kyuhyun’s closeness that startled him. It was as if Kyuhyun was showing a more vulnerable side to Ryeowook while hiding it from the others. The others could obviously see how close they were, but they couldn’t see Kyuhyun’s expressions with his face hidden in Ryeowook’s nape. They couldn’t hear his words, which was only meant for Ryeowook. They were observing, but missing half of the point. Kyuhyun wrapped his arms around Ryeowook, and the black-haired male leant into the touch. He wondered if Kyuhyun was holding him in place or showing him affection, either way, it didn’t matter much. Ryeowook melted all too easily into Kyuhyun’s body as if he was craving the affection.

“Please forgive me,” whispered against Ryeowook’s skin. The black-haired tried to fight the shiver that ran down his spine to no avail. He should just realise that Kyuhyun, at least physically, had another effect on him than what anyone else did. But Ryeowook wasn’t ready for that internal conversation yet because he knew how dangerous that could become if he let Kyuhyun get close to him. “I’ll do almost anything for your forgiveness,” Kyuhyun continued. It didn’t help Ryeowook’s judgement that Kyuhyun’s lips were ghosting against his skin. Going to the limo suddenly sounded tempting.

“Almost anything?” he asked, partly to drag it out, but also because he wanted to be sure that Kyuhyun meant it. Would he really do almost anything for Ryeowook’s forgiveness, or was he just saying it to make Ryeowook believe it, so Ryeowook would forgive him?

“Yeah,” Kyuhyun answered without a doubt, or hesitation. His voice was full of sincerity, and there was no doubt in Ryeowook’s mind that Kyuhyun meant it. That settled it for Ryeowook. Ryeowook was, even if Kyuhyun didn’t know it, always forced to forgive Kyuhyun – if he wanted his mission to be successful that is. He couldn’t get closer to Kyuhyun if he held a grudge against him. That much was obvious. However, so far Kyuhyun had yet to apologize to him in a way that didn’t meet Ryeowook’s usual standard. When Kyuhyun apologized to Ryeowook, the black-haired knew he meant it, and it felt like Kyuhyun was taking accountability for his actions not just saying sorry to get it over and done with.

“Show me,” Ryeowook demanded. Kyuhyun pulled his face away from Ryeowook’s neck to meet his gaze, but aside from that, he didn’t move his body an inch. Keeping their close proximity.

“Show you what?” he asked confused, his brown eyes flickered over Ryeowook’s face in search of any emotion. The fact that Kyuhyun didn’t pull away meant that he didn’t find anything he didn’t like. However, that much was obvious as Ryeowook was planning on forgiving the brunet.

“Show me how sorry you are,” Ryeowook explained to Kyuhyun. He could see Kyuhyun’s eyes widen in the realisation, and his once serious expression shifted slightly into a satisfied smile. The brunet didn’t waste any time and closed the small space between them and pressed his lips softly against Ryeowook’s. His hands were still wrapped around Ryeowook, but even Kyuhyun’s grip turned softer. As if that was his way of telling Ryeowook that if he wanted to, he could pull away. If the kiss was unwanted this was his opportunity to pull away. Not that Ryeowook had any intention of pulling away. Not when he’d been lusting for the kiss probably more than Kyuhyun. No, instead, he pulled Kyuhyun even closer and deepened the kiss. Usually, Kyuhyun would kiss him passionately, they’d kiss rapidly, and even if their kisses started out slow they grew heated. Not all that surprising since their attraction towards each other was rooted in lust. They lusted for each other and were quick to give in to the desire. However, this time, Kyuhyun wouldn’t allow their kiss to grow heated so quickly. He kissed Ryeowook slowly, agonizingly slow, and thoroughly. Not leaving any corner of Ryeowook’s mouth unexplored.

In the back of his mind, he knew he should be embarrassed, Leeteuk – the Leeteuk – and other members from his gang were watching them make out, but Ryeowook was too caught up in the pleasure to even care. Although, the humiliation was likely to return later. However, all Ryeowook was able to think of right now was about Kyuhyun’s lips moving against his own. The feeling of Kyuhyun’s body pressed against his own. The sensation of Kyuhyun’s strong arms wrapped around Ryeowook’s smaller body. The wave of emotions washed over him and drew back before he had the time to analyse them. And his thoughts were filled with Kyuhyun, Kyuhyun, Kyuhyun. All different kinds of versions of the man. The man who killed without hesitation and regret, the man who’d teased him in his office, Kyuhyun naked hovering over him when they’d slept together, the jealous version of and the overprotective version of him. They were all a part of the real Kyuhyun who refused to let him get close to him. They were all bits and pieces of the sexy, but equally dangerous, a mobster that was kissing him breathless. Kyuhyun finally released him when the brunet seemed satisfied with the kiss, but he didn’t move more than necessary. His eyes were watching Ryeowook intently, and Ryeowook could swear that Kyuhyun was watching him fondly.

“Cute,” Ryeowook began, his tone playful, and Kyuhyun caught onto that quickly. “But a kiss is not enough to tell me how sorry you are,” he told Kyuhyun. It was the truth. All though he was planning on telling Kyuhyun he’d forgiven him, Kyuhyun needed to know that one simple kiss wasn’t enough to make Ryeowook forget about everything.

“I promise you’ll never be in a situation like this again, I won’t let anyone hurt you.” Kyuhyun’s voice was so serious it startled Ryeowook slightly. He could tell Kyuhyun truly meant those words. He didn’t think Kyuhyun was willing to protect an insignificant little art thief like himself, not yet at least. But he’d been wrong apparently. Kyuhyun was pretty serious, but Ryeowook couldn’t help but wonder how serious Kyuhyun was about it. Ryeowook would from now on be safe in Kyuhyun’s presence, but how far did it extend? Would Kyuhyun’s protection still matter if he was in New York or in Paris? “If you’re ever willing to work for me again, I will make sure something like this never happens again. I am sorry Ryeowook, please believe me.”

“Hm,” Ryeowook hummed, mostly just to tease Kyuhyun, and he got his wanted reaction out of it.

“Ryeowook please,” Kyuhyun asked more pleadingly.

“You’re so stubborn,” Ryeowook mumbled, but he caught himself smiling at the end of the sentence. Kyuhyun didn’t miss the chance to smile back at him.

“That’s right, I’m not leaving you alone until you say you forgive me,” he said in a teasing way, but they both knew he meant it. Ryeowook wasn’t getting out of Kyuhyun’s grasp until he either forgave him, or Kyuhyun gave up on him.

“Okay,” Ryeowook agreed, but intentionally not saying he forgave Kyuhyun, just to irk the brunet. He could see it worked too.

“Say it,” Kyuhyun demanded, he pulled Ryeowook closer to him.

Ryeowook saw no point in not telling the brunet, so he caved in. “I forgive you.”

“Good,” Kyuhyun began, seemingly quite pleased. His right hand left Ryeowook’s waist, and tilted Ryeowook’s chin slightly up so he was facing Kyuhyun more directly, “because I’m not done showing you how sorry I am.” He told Ryeowook before he leaned down to kiss him again.