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“Are you done?” he heard Taehyung whisper in his earpiece.

Jimin nodded soullessly, hoping his friend would see it from one of the little cameras hidden in the room.

“Yes, he’s gone. You can come in,” he said out loud, aware of the tiny microphones concealed somewhere in the windowless hotel room.

Why would anyone want to stay here, he wondered as he looked around. The lack of windows made it hard to tell if it was day and night and the brown walls, paired with a heavy blood red velvet bedcover thrown over a huge king-sized bed that occupied most of the space, made the room look somber and unwelcoming. Kinda like a bedroom in a 70s vampire horror movie, he thought.

He was still half undressed when Taehyung opened the door but neither of the two boys were bothered by that anymore. As soon as the taller brown-haired boy walked in, Jimin started to pick up his stuff, starting with the shirt he’d thrown on the other side of the room barely twenty minutes before.

“Are we really going to let him go like that?” Taehyung said, reaching under the bed to get one of the microphones. “I mean, it’s not like I’m dying to hear you have sex with that gross dude or that I want to listen to any more of his disgusting dirty talk but…”

“I’m not done with him yet,” Jimin replied, picking up his jacket off the back of a huge velvet chair in the corner of the room. “There’s something he’s not telling me.”

“And you think you can’t get him to talk without revealing who you are?” Taehyung said, stopping to count the small mics in his hand. “He seems dumb enough, but he’s probably not that slow. If he has even a hunch that you might be spying on him, then everything will fall apart. And it could get dangerous for you.”

The two boys took one last look at the room, checking they hadn’t left anything behind, before they turned off the light.

“Don’t worry,” Jimin said, locking the door behind him. “I know what I’m doing. I just need to see him one more time, to find out if he knows more. And then, we can take him out.”

Taehyung pouted as he pushed the button to the elevator.

“Fine,” he muttered. “I just don’t want to sit through any more of that dude’s dirty talk. I seriously don’t know how you managed to keep your composure the whole time.”

“Oh, next time you’ll probably have to sit through worse than that,” Jimin said, laughing when he saw his friend pouting even more.

 

If seducing people was an art, Jimin was both the artist and the masterpiece. Especially when it came to seducing his gang’s enemies. Making them fall for him was as easy as breathing, the tricky part was always to make them talk without revealing his identity. From the moment he had officially become a member of the Bangtan gang, he had also become their hidden weapon. No one could know who he was or what he looked like or none of his missions would succeed. He was their best kept secret, even if the other gangs were aware of his existence by now, his face was still a mystery to them. And he’d always found a way to get to them, directly or indirectly. A relative, someone who had worked with his target closely or not, a stranger that somehow had key information… There was always someone somewhere Jimin could work on. And he knew by now that his missions were crucial to the gang’s success because there was no better spy than him.

Expect maybe for Taehyung. Taehyung, just like Jimin, looked nothing like a spy. He was possibly one of the friendliest looking people Jimin had ever met. The first time they’d been introduced, he couldn’t believe the lanky boy was part of a gang. It became even more puzzling once he’d gotten to know him. Taehyung was bubbly, sometimes a little bit childish when he played around their common house. Children stopped to talk to him on the streets and their parents would nod, smiling warmly as they saw the tall, skinny man playing with them.  But Taehyung was also very smart and he picked up new things very quickly. He’d taught himself basic hacking skills, had learned how to use and repair his own material and improvised himself as Jimin’s partner in crime in their spying activities. He was also quite skilled with a knife, something he’d learned during his days – or years – living on the streets, which had proved to be quite useful the rare times where things had turned south in the middle of a mission.

Jimin was immensely grateful towards Taehyung. Not only for being his second pair of eyes and ears, nor just for saving his life a couple of times, but because Jimin had found friendship in Taehyung in a way he would have never expected. Jimin hadn’t had friends in a long time when he’d entered the gang. He’d had co-workers, acquaintances, people he felt he could somewhat trust to not want to ruin him, but he hadn’t had anyone who he felt he could be vulnerable to. Looking back, Jimin even wondered if he’d ever had someone like that before Taehyung. Before the gang. He was thankful for the time when Taehyung had listened to him cry himself to sleep almost every night for a year, whispering reassuring words in the smaller boy’s ears. He’d felt grateful when the boy had done his best to make him feel welcome, to show him he was useful to the gang even if some – one – members hadn’t agreed at the time, to show him this was where he belonged and that his life wasn’t over. He was grateful to Taehyung for being his best friend and loving him unconditionally at a time where Jimin wasn’t even sure he loved or cared for himself.

 

“Jiminie!”

Taehyung’s voice snapped him back to reality.

“Were you daydreaming again?” his friend added, a small smile on his face. “Anyway, we’re here.”

Jimin looked around as Taehyung was busy parking in the familiar underground parking lot right by their house. One of the most important rules of the gang that all the members had to abide by was to live and share one single house that would also double as their headquarters. It wasn’t such a difficult rule to follow since the gang was composed of only seven members. They’d had to move out a few times already to make sure their location remained a secret and also because the number of members had grown quite rapidly. Even after two years in this gang, it always amazed Jimin how much they were able to do with only seven members. Most of the other gangs in towns were huge, some ten times bigger than Bangtan. And even if Bangtan was probably never going to amount to any of the bigger gangs around, they were skilled enough to rival against them. Plus, they had enough external allies on their side to help them when necessary. Still, it was amazing, doing the work of thirty men with only seven. Other gangs weren’t trained the way we were trained, Jimin thought as he entered the house. And they don’t have what we have. They don’t have the best killer in town.

Jimin had barely stepped into the house when he was smothered into a hug by a slightly taller black-haired man.

“Jiminiiiiiiiiie!” the man screeched into his ear before releasing him. “I’m glad you’re back safe and sound!”

“Hobi!” Jimin said with a smile. “I’m glad to see you too.”

“So, how did it go with that ugly dude? I forgot his name… Anyway, that motherfucker at least had the pleasure to get some of Park Jimin before he died, that’s a better death than most of us can hope for,” Hoseok said while laughing.

“Actually he didn’t get much,” Jimin replied.

“Dead in a hotel room and he didn’t even get to have sex with you?” Hoseok said dramatically. “A tragic ending.”

Jimin laughed, his boyish voice spreading around their living room while he gently pushed his dyed silver hair out of his face.

“No, he’s not dead,” he said. “I need a word with Namjoon.”

“You need a word with all of us,” Hoseok said, suddenly serious. “That changes our plans too. Anyway, Namjoon’s out so we’ll have to wait till he gets back to decide on what to do next. In the meantime, let’s have fu- Taehyungiiiiiiie!”

One thing that never failed to amaze Jimin was how fast Hoseok’s mood could change from serious and focused when it came to missions to his bright, playful personality which, just like Taehyung’s, was in no way, shape or form in correlation with the lifestyles they’d chosen to live. Taehyung was greeted with the same screeching and hugging than Jimin a minute before as soon as his head popped out of the door. Jimin smiled fondly as he watched the two men excitedly greet each other as if they hadn’t seen each other in months. Well, I guess it’s been three days…. His thoughts trailed off somewhere else.

“Hoseok?” Jimin said, cutting off the two men in their embrace. “If you’re back at the dorm, then that means…”

“Nah, Jimin,” Hoseok replied with a knowing smile that Jimin didn’t know how to interpret. “Yoongi’s still out. He left with Namjoon a few hours ago.”

“Oh,” Jimin said. “Okay. I just wanted to know who was home.”

“Sure.”

 

“Where’s Taehyung?” said Jungkook as soon as Jimin stepped into the boy’s room.

“Hello, Jimin. Nice to see you, Jimin. I hope you and Taehyung’s mission went well,” Jimin replied sarcastically. “You brat.”

“Yeah, that too,” Jungkook said, looking a bit apologetic.

“You whipped child,” Jimin added, ignoring the other boy glaring at him. “Anyway, Taehyung is here, yes. We both got home just fine.”

“Good,” said the young boy. “Seokjin’s home too.”

Jimin took it as his cue to leave the room.

 

To say that Jimin and Jungkook had gone through some shit together was an understatement. In fact, Jungkook might have been one of the first person he’d felt he could trust during what he called his ‘in-between life’. The life he had before he’d joined the gang and found his place but also the one he’d had post… post-normal life. And yet the two hadn’t been friends at all during this dark period of their lives.

Jimin had just turned sixteen the day he ran away. He was tired of it all, of his homophobic mother and his abusive father, of the insults, the fighting, the constant beating. He’d left as soon as he had enough money and he was old enough to work, not hesitating one instant. But in a few months, it had all fallen apart again. The plans he had made – staying at each one of friends’ house for a few weeks at a time, spending the little money he had on cheap, disgusting hotel rooms and washing people’s cars to get money – had eventually crumbled too and he’d found himself on the streets with no money, no job and no experience to find a decent one quickly enough. That was how he’d ended up at the The Red Room.

The Red Room was an illegal strip club located in a small alleyway not far from the city center. Jimin had walked past it looking for shelter one night and after three days without food and drinking out of public fountains, he hadn’t hesitated one second when he saw the sign on the window saying they were hiring a bartender. Jimin had no experience behind a counter, nor had he been old enough to work in a strip club but he was hired immediately, without anyone asking where he was from or why a sixteen-year-old was roaming the streets by himself. There were two things he’d learned quickly in this new life. First, how to make just about any drink that existed on planet earth. Second, to never trust anyone that walked or worked in an illegal strip club. Especially not the drunk customers, to which he frequently had to remind that he was not one of the strippers and no I don’t want your money unless you’re buying another drink. He’d also learned not to feel offended by said customers calling him a slut when he refused their advances – the irony – and later not to feel anything anymore.

It was at The Red Room that Jimin had met Jungkook. He’d been working there for less than two months but it had already felt like a lifetime. Once night, as he’d gone in the alleyway behind the stripclub to take out the trash, he’d almost jumped when he’d seen something move right next to the trash containers.

“What the fu…” he’d screamed, until he’d managed to get the silhouette of a young boy. “What the fuck are you doing here, kid? Go home, it’s like… 3 am.”

To his surprise, the boy hadn’t looked intimidated by him in one bit. Quite the contrary, he’d stared at Jimin up and down and scoffed.

“I work here,” he’d replied, trying to look tough.

“What the hell are you talking about, you’re like… twelve,” Jimin had replied, scoffing back.

“I’m fourteen!” the kid had shouted defensively. “Anyway, I know who you are. You’re the new bartender. The customers always talk about you. They said you were pretty but I guess they were too drunk to see straight.”

“Why are you here?” Jimin had replied, ignoring the insult. He was used to insults. “What’s a fourteen-year-old kid doing in a strip club?”

“I help clean the rooms upstairs. The ones you and the strippers sleep in.”

“Okay but,” Jimin had said, dumbfounded. “Why are you here? Why don’t you go home to your parents or whatever?”

“I have nowhere to go.”

 

For the years that had followed, Jimin had done his best to protect Jungkook as much as he could, not because he’d wanted to but because he’d somehow felt like he had to. He’s a kid, he’d kept telling himself, forgetting that he’d been a kid himself. No one else will protect him here. And yet Jungkook hadn’t been easy to deal with. The kid had wanted none of his help. In fact, he’d made sure to let Jimin know he despised him at every chance he had. Yet, Jimin had kept trying to protect him, from customers, from their bosses, from the other strippers. All that to be rewarded by glares and insults from the then smaller boy.

When he’d joined The Red Room, he’d promised himself it would be a temporary solution. Yet, two years had passed and he was still there, making barely enough money to leave and certainly not enough to take Jungkook with him. He’d told himself when he’d walked in that he wouldn’t sink as low as the strippers that worked there but he’d learned to know them and respect them as time had gone by. And one day, life had handed him another opportunity he’d known he couldn’t pass by.

He’d been busy cleaning the place, a few hours before it would open, when one of the strippers had passed by.

“Hello Jimin. Heard about the new guy?”

“The one that joined a week ago?” he’d answered, not looking up from the table he was cleaning. This was just small talk. A way to make life more bearable for anyone that worked there. “Yeah, I’ve seen him strip a few times. He’s awkward but he’s a decent dancer.”

“He left this morning.”

“What, already?”

“Yeah. Stripping’s not for everyone, you know. Anyway, now there’s a vacancy.”

Something had clicked in Jimin’s mind. Strippers would make twice the amount of money he’d made as a bartender, plus they got extra money from what the customers would give them on stage. Jimin had learned how to dance when he was younger, and he had been pretty good at it. At this point in his life, he had been more than aware that he was attractive to other people. The customers had never failed to remind him every single night since he’d joined. And he’d just turned eighteen, meaning he was old enough to have a man’s body but young enough that he could satisfy some untold desire in some of the disgusting men that chose to spend the night in this filthy place. He hadn’t hesitated twice. Even years later, he could remember the look of disgust on Jungkook’s face the first time he’d gone on stage. And yet, the younger boy hadn’t hesitated twice about taking his place as bartender either.

For two more years, Jimin had kept working at that place, thoroughly counting his money every single night. I’ve learned to live with half of that, he told himself every time as he hid half of his pay in a different place in his room every month. Sometimes part of his savings would get stolen, by his boss or by one of the strippers. He had no one to complain to so he’d just kept going.

He’d been just a few months away from turning twenty when he’d gathered his money one morning and decided he had enough. All he’d had to do was walk out. No one would look for him. No one had cared about him. He’d be replaced in a few days. He still remembered passing by Jungkook the day he’d left, with his backpack – the same one he’d run away from his parents’ house with – full of his stuff and how he’d hesitated for a second. But the younger boy had looked away, as disinterested as always, and Jimin had left, swearing never to step into a place like this again.

Yet, it had only taken three months for him to come back. Every night as he’d closed his eyes since he’d left, the image of the fourteen-year-old boy standing in that alleyway had come back to haunt him and guilt had filled his stomach, his veins, his lungs until he’d become incapable to sleep. Not even when he’d joined the gang two months prior, and had rediscovered again what it felt like to sleep in a warm bed and eat decent food, had he managed to get Jungkook out of his head. So, he’d gone back and he’d taken the boy with him, surprisingly easily. Jungkook hadn’t protested but he hadn’t talked. For the first two weeks he hadn’t uttered one word, to Jimin or anyone else. But Hoseok had still accepted to keep him.

“We only take stray cats anyway,” he’d said.

Hoseok had been the one in charge of recruitment back then, or so it had seemed. He’d been the only one to accept new recruits and Namjoon, leader of the pack, trusted him enough to not contest his judgement.

Two weeks after Jimin had brought Jungkook, the young boy had assisted to his first meeting. The gang all met in the living room at least once a week – another important rule – to discuss the progress on their current missions, future ones and anything else that mattered. As always, Jungkook had stayed silent, the same look of disdain that had occupied his face back at The Red Room. Once the meeting had ended and everyone had left, Jimin and Jungkook had found themselves alone in the empty living room.

And for the first time in a while, Jeon Jungkook, eighteen-year-old and still homeless, parentless, lifeless, had opened his mouth.

“I didn’t think you could become even more of a slut”, he’d said, the venom on his tongue audible in each syllable. “But sleeping with people for a gang? Even for you that’s low. You’re truly a whore now.”

And for the first time in forever, for the first time since he’d left his parents’ house four years before, Jimin had snapped. With a strength he hadn’t known he possessed, he’d grabbed the now taller boy by the collar and pushed him against the nearest wall.

“What the fuck is wrong with you, manchild?” he’d screamed, their faces only a few centimeters apart. “What did I ever do to you, apart protecting you for years to get nothing in return? How the fuck do you think you’re still alive and well right now, and not drugged up in some other strip club somewhere? What did I ever do to you that I need to support your insults, your constant disdain, as if I don’t hate myself enough but I need to have some kid judging me constantly? I get it, you don’t like me. So why did you follow me here then?”

Jimin had felt the blood pumping in his veins, his rage getting to his head and making it hard to see properly. And yet, his anger had dropped suddenly when he’d seen the look on the other boy’s face switch with no warning, his judging gaze disappearing all of a sudden. And the improbable had happened.

Right in front of him, the boy he’d known for four years had burst into tears.

“Thank you, Jimin.” Jungkook had said weakly, in between two heavy sobs. “Thank you for everything.”

 

Jimin knocked three times on Seokjin and Namjoon’s bedroom. The two men were the only ones who shared a room in their latest house. Jimin didn’t know how long they’d been dating – four, five years maybe? – but the two were certainly a team when it came to leading the gang.

“Jimin!” Seokjin said brightly when he opened the door. “Did everything go well?”

“Yes, everything went well, except I still need more time to work on that guy. Do you know when Namjoon will be back?”

“Oh. Namjoon and Yoongi said they’d be back before midnight. I guess we’ll have another meeting then.”

“Okay. Cool,” Jimin answered with a small smile, waving at the other man.

Seokjin started to close the door when Jimin spoke again.

“Oh, Seokjin?” he said hesitantly. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure?”

“The mission… Hoseok and Yoongi’s mission… Did it go well?” he asked. He could hear his own voice wavering and he didn’t know why. It was common place for them to ask how things had gone when they came back from a mission. They looked out for each other, it was their only way to move forward.

“Yoongi’s fine,” Seokjin had replied with a fond smile.

“That’s… not what I asked, but good,” Jimin replied.

“I know but…” Seokjin stopped talking for a second, visibly hesitating to say something and deciding otherwise. “You’ve already seen Hobi, I presume from the screaming earlier. So, I’m telling you, Yoongi’s fine.”

Jimin nodded, ignoring the warmth growing in his stomach. He’s always fine anyway, he thought. He knows what he’s doing.

“You’ll see him… Them. You’ll see him and Namjoon later tonight,” Seokijn added.

 

Jimin walked in Yoongi’s empty bedroom. It only took him a few seconds to locate the blood-stained clothes left on the back of a desk chair. He picked them up delicately, not worrying about staining himself – they’d been here for hours – and opened the window to get rid of the smell of dried blood. Yoongi didn’t need anyone to look after him. He was clean and kept his things in order, as could testify his spotless bedroom. But Jimin couldn’t stand it. He couldn’t stand seeing his members’ blood-stained clothes, even if he knew it rarely was their own.

I just don’t like blood, he used to say. Makes my head turn. It wasn’t entirely wrong. That was why he’d chosen poison as his main way of getting rid of the men he’d seduced into their downfall once he’d gotten all the information he needed from them. That and the fact that blood leaves stains and Jimin couldn’t leave any traces of his killing behind.

But the truth was that he didn’t like to see his members as killers. It was ridiculous, given that killing was an unavoidable part of what they did and Jimin himself had killed too many men to count in his two years in the gang. But he just couldn’t see them as killers, not when they’d welcomed him with open arms and given him a family for the first time in his life.

And more than anything, he couldn’t stand to see Yoongi as a killer. Yoongi, a man known around town for his ruthlessness long before he’d even joined the gang. Yoongi, quite possibly the most skilled killer this city had ever known. Yoongi, the coldest person Jimin had ever met. And yet no one had ever made Jimin feel warmer, not even Taehyung.

Chapter Text

Jimin had been sat on his bed for almost an hour, nervously playing with his own fingers. His nerves had made it difficult for the boy to do anything other than stare at the wall, unable to stop his mind from overthinking.

Unplanned meetings always turned him into a bundle of nerves. It was easy going to the gang’s weekly meetings, in which he had nothing more to do than say that everything went to plan and wait for his next mission with Taehyung. But when things went a different way, and he needed a little bit more time, it made the twenty-two-year-old boy feel like a kid called in the principal’s office. He hadn’t done anything wrong but it was always difficult to take initiative, even after two years in the gang.

When he’d joined the gang, Jimin had gained not only a home but also meaning to his life. Something to do with himself that was more than just surviving; people to care about, who cared about in seemingly equal measures. But it had also given him a responsibility that had been hard to deal with, especially after years of surviving by and for himself only – with the exception, of course, of the tall kid that now lived in a room right next to his.

His missions with Taehyung were not just important, they were crucial to the life of the gang. He’d understood that much from the start, and that was the main reason why he’d been allowed to stay. The pieces of information the two boys brought back every time allowed the team to plan better and to gain grounds over the other gangs – and even sometimes to get rid of unwanted third parties, as most of Jimin’s victims disappeared soon after he was done with them, or else the boy’s identity would have been compromised.

But no one had taught the two boys how to become spies. Neither Jimin or Taehyung had done anything like this before joining the gang. There were no spies in Bangtan before them. Before Jimin, Taehyung’s activities were mainly hacking into things, and he’d self-taught himself some spying skills along the way. The two boys had been thrown into this new job with no warnings, no one to guide them and they’d developed their own work methods and made their own rules. And for Jimin it had been a huge change. Back at the Red Room, he used to do everything he was told on the job but, as soon as his shift ended, he had to answer to no one and his life would become meaningless to the world again – including to himself. Once he’d joined Bangtan, he was given such influence that he was always afraid to mess up. His actions mattered to others, and so did his decisions.

 

The young boy was taken out of his reverie by a brief knock on the door that almost made him jump. A few seconds later, a familiar head popped out of the doorframe.

“Jimin,” Taehyung started, a small grin at the corner of his lips. “I know you’re the king of overthinking everything so I came bearing gifts.”

The taller boy sat down on the bed next to his friend before handing him a small bag of colorful gummy candies.

“It’ll be fine,” he continued, briefly taking Jimin’s smaller hands into his. “All you have to do is tell them that you need more time, that’s it. It’s been a while since we’ve made a request but it’s nothing we haven’t done before.”

“They’ll ask why,” Jimin whispered before putting a red crocodile-shaped candy in his mouth. “They always ask why.”

“And then you say that you didn’t get enough information and you think the ugly dude was hiding even more stuff and you think you can crack him which is exactly what you told me yesterday after you let the weasel go.”

Jimin exhaled loudly. He knew the meeting would go just fine as always but the thought of his own decision being at the center of discussions was enough to make him nervous.

“And if they start to ask too many questions, you know I’ve got your back,” Taehyung said before throwing several candies into his mouth. “Always.”

 

Twenty minutes later, Jimin was sat in one of the white sofas in the middle of their living room. Taehyung was sat on his right, still eating candy, while Jungkook was busy playing games on his phone right next to him. Seokjin was sat on an armchair a few meters away. He’d made tea for everyone as always, even though he was usually the only one who ended up drinking it. Still, Jimin enjoyed holding the cup in his hands while they all waited for Namjoon to arrive and start the meeting, the warmth spreading through his body and helping his nerves calm down.

On the living room’s second sofa, placed just in front to mirror the one the three boys were occupying, Hoseok was busy trying to convince Taehyung to give him some candies – to no avail. Next to him, an all too familiar round-faced, black-haired man was slouching on the white sofa, blankly staring at his phone.

Yoongi had come home late the previous night. Jimin was just about to call it a day when he’d heard footsteps in the room right next to his, signaling the presence of his enigmatic housemate and fellow gang member. Jimin never knew what to make of Min Yoongi. It wasn’t that the two boys had a conflicting relationship, or any reason to. But from the very beginning, while Yoongi had seemed relatively indifferent to Jimin’s addition to the gang, the twenty-four-year-old boy had been quite vocally opposed to the position that was given to the younger boy, including what his missions entailed. Jimin could recall long nights of heated discussions between Yoongi on one side and Namjoon, Seokjin and Hoseok on the other. He’d just sat there, feeling like a child for the first time in a long time, watching other people weigh on his fate while Taehyung – whom he’d known for a total of three weeks at the time – had held his hand until the other boys were done.

 

“How are you gonna send a kid to do a job like this?” Yoongi had roared in their leader’s face, not one once of fear on his features. “If he fails even just once, he’d get us found out. He has no experience at all.”

“We’ll send Taehyung with him,” Namjoon had replied patiently. “He’s already done a few spying jobs. And we can still brief them beforehand, then test them on small missions first.”

“Great,” Yoongi had snorted cynically. “Let’s send two kids together.”

“Taehyung has experience, you can’t deny that,” Namjoon had continued. “Plus, we need someone to do this job, you know it. We can’t do any spying ourselves anymore, we’d get recognized sooner or later.”

Eventually the older boy had come around – or more like given up, as it wasn’t exactly his call to decide who would hold which position in the gang in the first place. After that experience, it had been difficult to see the black-haired boy as anything other than… intimidating. Not that Yoongi was ever directly hostile towards Jimin, or that their relationship was ever particularly tense. But it just… was. It hadn’t taken long for him to get close with anyone else in the gang. Taehyung had welcomed him with open arms, Hoseok had been the one who’d convinced the rest to let him stay. After hearing as much of his story as the young boy was willing to share at the time, Namjoon and Seokjin had taken care of him and done their best to find him a place not only in their home but in their organization, so that Jimin could fit in just right.

But things hadn’t gotten any better with Yoongi. There was still a wall between him and the older boy, the origin of which he was unable to explain. They weren’t hostile, nor did they ignore each other but they were nothing more than two people who shared a house and a job. They were never friendly the way Jimin was with the rest of the team. And yet, for a reason he could not explain, it was difficult for the silver-haired boy not to consider him family like the rest of them.

The most disheartening part of it all for Jimin had been to see Jungkook, the boy he’d brought here just a few months after himself, grow closer to Yoongi than Jimin could ever dream of. Jungkook, who’d grown quite tall and was physically very strong, had been deemed perfect to carry missions similar to those Namjoon, Yoongi and Hoseok would do. The young boy had been trained by them, accompanying them whenever he could until he was deemed fit to become a full member of the gang and to operate on the same level as the others. Jungkook still didn’t have the background and the drive that the older boys had to kill without any second thoughts just yet, nevertheless torture someone, so he’d become some sort of bodyguard for the others. It had meant that he’d worked with Yoongi a lot more than Jimin ever would, and the boy had to admit he felt slightly jealous.

The oddest part in all of this was that, over the two years since he’d joined Bangtan, Jimin had found himself starting to feel a weird attraction for the mysterious black-haired boy, despite feeling slightly – no, deeply – rejected by the other’s complete lack of attempt to become friendlier with him. It’s just curiosity, he’d told himself. And maybe a little bit of childishness, not getting what he wanted making him desire it even more.

 

“He doesn’t like me,” Jimin had said to Hoseok one time.

“Don’t worry, Jiminie,” the older boy had replied. “Yoongi doesn’t open up easily, he’s like that with everyone at first. You’ll get closer eventually.”

But two years had passed, and when Jimin had come to the realization that most of what he knew about the black-haired boy – even his goddamn age – he’d learned from the other members and not from him. And that was the point where he’d just decided to give up entirely. He had a home, people who cared about him, and more freedom than he’d ever had before. Don’t be greedy, Jimin, he’d thought, not everyone is going to like you.

 

“Why are we here?” Yoongi asked when Namjoon finally stepped into the living room. “Weren’t we supposed to meet at the end of the week? Did something happen?”

“Well… Yes, sort of,” Namjoon said, before explaining the whole situation in detail.

As grateful as Jimin was towards Namjoon for summing up the situation as best as he could and for taking Jimin’s party without asking too many questions, hearing the rest of the members discuss his own decision while he’s sitting right there made him feel like a child again, and he felt his nerves slowly creep back in, his chest feeling a little tighter.

“So that… just puts everything we planned behind until Jimin meets that guy again, and we’re not even sure when that’s going to happen?” Yoongi asked again, and while it didn’t sound judgmental, Jimin could feel the uncertainty tainting the older boy’s voice.

Jimin was looking down at his feet, trying to avoid the other members’ looks. He wished he felt more empowered to stand his ground but he couldn’t help feeling like a fraud somehow. Maybe I just haven’t thought this through, he thought, they’re more experienced, they know better.

“It does put us back for a little while but…” Namjoon started, visibly unsure on how to continue.

“But if Jimin thinks it’s better to do so, then I think we should listen to him,” Seokjin finished for him, speaking for the first time since the meeting had started. “After all, we use the information he and Taehyung bring us almost religiously, don’t we?”

“Does he think it’s better?” Yoongi said. “Do you, Jimin?”

Jimin looked up suddenly to see every head in the room turned towards him – with the exception of Jungkook, who hadn’t stopped playing with his phone, completely disinterested in his surroundings. While the others were sending him encouraging looks, what caught Jimin’s attention was the man sitting on the other couch right in front of him who was looking at him straight in the eyes, his face unreadable.

Oddly, Yoongi’s unwavering stare didn’t make him cower, quite the contrary.

“Well…” he started, searching for the right words. “I think so. If there’s anything more I can get that could be useful for the future, I think I should do my best to get it. I know it changes our initial plans and it might make things a little complicated for the rest of you, but I think… If we look at the bigger picture, it’s in everyone’s best interest.”

To his own surprise, Jimin had spoken quite confidently. Maybe if I want to stop feeling like a fraud I need to stop acting like one first, he thought. Silence took over the vast living room as everyone seemed to ponder over the boy’s words.

“Okay,” Yoongi said after a minute, and just like that, everything was settled. “It’s a risk for you more than for us to be honest, so it’s your call.”

“I can make a new schedule for all of you and we can settle the details of what to do next once Jimin and Taehyung come back from their next mission,” said Seokjin, looking over the notes he had taken from their previous meetings.

The meeting clearly over, everyone started going back to their own business and Jimin felt like a weight had been lifted off his chest. The boy stretched quickly, his muscles unclenching now that all signs of tension had left his body. He was about to walk back to his room when he heard someone call out his name softly.

“Jimin,” Yoongi repeated once the boy was looking at him. “This time, you guys get rid of the dude once you’re done. There’s no delaying twice.”

And with these words, the black-haired boy left Jimin standing alone in the living room.

 

After what felt like an eternity, Jimin was starting to feel whatever patience he had left slowly leave him. This one is taking a hell of a long time to come, he thought while another fake moan left his mouth, I should’ve just slipped poison in his drink when I still could. But Jimin liked a job well done, and given that he had to delay everyone else’s schedule to finish his, he’d tried to get everything he could out of his target. The problem was that Jimin’s missions almost always ended the same way; with some guy thrusting inside him for what felt like forever and it was unpleasant. There was only so long he could lie on an uncomfortable bed, thinking about his plans for the rest of the evening or what his next meal would be, before he was bored again. He’d been lying there pretend moaning for almost twenty minutes and, if he’d been less of a coward, he would’ve reached for the small gun Taehyung had carefully placed under his pillow before the two had entered the room about half an hour earlier and freed himself from his misery. It wasn’t that he was afraid of getting caught – the other guy seemed completely oblivious to whatever Jimin was doing at the moment – but the thought of a freshly dead corpse dropping onto him was just a tad more unpleasant than his current situation, and it was enough to make him consider it twice.

He was wondering if he’d ever experience good sex again – or if he even had before, it was hard to tell when his sex life had now been entirely reduced to this – when he heard the door violently opening. Before he even had time to react, he heard a gunshot and his target’s body dropped heavily onto his. Yuck. And the guy was still inside of him as well.

“Taehyung, if I knew you were going to do this, I would have spared myself ten minutes ago,” Jimin said, cringing at the sight of the bleeding bullet hole on the man’s forehead just a few centimeters away from his face. Despite how much bloody wounds still repulsed Jimin, he had to admit Taehyung’s shot was impressively clean and precise for someone who rarely ever used a gun.

“Not Taehyung,” replied a familiar deep voice that was, shockingly, not Taehyung’s.

Jimin felt all the blood in his body rush to his cheeks as he recognized the owner of that voice. While he’d always been quite comfortable with his body – he was a stripper for almost two years after all – being caught in the middle of the act by another member of the gang, someone that was neither Taehyung, his partner in crime, nor Jungkook, who’d accompanied the pair once or twice before, felt like a huge invasion of privacy, even when the guy he was having sex with was nothing more than a liability turned into a fresh corpse. And out of everyone, it had to be the person he was the least close with. Just when he’d thought this mission couldn’t get any worse.

When he pushed the dead guy away from his body, sitting up on the bed trying not to feel too self-conscious about his own nakedness, he had the pleasure of seeing that Yoongi had had the decency to turn away, leaving him space to put some clothes on.

“Get dressed, I’ll explain in the car,” Yoongi said. “Do it quickly before anyone wonders about the gunshot.”

No one wonders about odd noises in crappy motels like this, Jimin thought. This is why we come here to finish these jobs. But then Yoongi wouldn’t know, would he. He’d probably never fucked someone in a lousy hotel room just to shoot them afterwards.

 

“Taehyung, go home by yourself if you don’t mind,” Yoongi said, as the three of them reached Taehyung’s car. “Jimin will go home with me.”

Jimin had to admit he wasn’t thrilled about being alone in a car with Yoongi. The motel they’d ended up in was outside of town – which was convenient if you wanted to get rid of a body swiftly, without too many eyes looking – and it would take at least an hour for them to reach home. It had been a long time since the two men had sat next to each other alone and Jimin was too tired to suffer through an awkward conversation. He’d figured there had to be a reason for Yoongi intervening in a mission that didn’t concern him in the slightest, especially that late – it was well past midnight – and this far away from home.

However, the first ten minutes of the way back home were spent in complete silence. Jimin did not mind, he could feel his eyelids get heavier, slowly closing. He was on the verge of sleep when Yoongi finally opened in his mouth, his voice almost making Jimin jump off his seat.

“See Jimin, this is why we don’t delay missions,” Yoongi said, his voice low.

“What are you talking about?” Jimin answered, sleep still weighing on his eyelids. He was exhausted, and not in the mood to read between the lines.

He looked out of the window and realized they were still out of town. The interior of the car was almost completely dark, but thanks to the pale light of the moon seconded by the car’s headlight, he could still decipher the features of the man next to him. He could see the man’s pale and veiny hands holding the wheel tight, a sign of a certain tension, as he drove faster than necessary on the empty road. Jimin looked up to the man’s face, his black hair falling into his eyes, the expression on his boyish features still unreadable. Despite the light tone he’d just used, there was no sign of amusement on his traits.

“The man you just…” Yoongi spoke again, his voice trailing off as he seemed to hesitate. “The man I just shot. We’ve had intel from someone outside the gang that he talked about you to someone else. They informed us straight away, and we should be able to take care of the other person without getting into too much trouble hopefully but if that person talked to anyone else about you… Jimin… It…”

Is he trying to protect me? Jimin thought for a brief second.

“… could put the entire gang in jeopardy,” Yoongi continued, his voice measured as if he was talking to a child. “Which is why we stick to the plan always, so that these kind of situations don’t happen.”

He didn’t know whether if it was because he’d just had a long and awful day, or if the exhaustion was starting to get to him, or if it was the fact that he was still shaking from havign a fucking corpse drop onto him less than an hour ago – which he was sure was not something that was getting to Yoongi, who had surely seen hundreds more corpses than him, most of them probably made by himself – but Jimin couldn’t help but feel irritated by the mere notion of the other boy getting him into a car just to lecture him. Yoongi wasn’t entirely wrong, if someone even had the faintest idea of what Jimin was doing with the other guy, it could have serious consequences on the gang and it was something to take care of as briefly as possible. But to blame it on him? For a decision that Yoongi himself had agreed to without much questioning just a few days before? Before he could stop himself, Jimin felt his exasperation take over his sleep-deprived brain.

“Do you,” he started, and in the midst of all the very conflicting emotions that were going through his head at the same time, he found it difficult to phrase his thoughts properly. “Do you think I’m a child? Why are you lecturing me over something we all agreed on a few days ago? Do you really think that’s what I want to hear after you just dropped a fucking corpse onto me – for reasons I understand, sure, but… still, is that the only thing you wanted to tell me?”

“I’m not lect-“ Yoongi tried to say but Jimin wasn’t listening anymore.

“I understand the haste but this guy wouldn’t have left the hotel room alive anyway,” Jimin continued, not paying attention to the other. “Just like all the other ones Taehyung and I have taken care of before.”

“Did you now,” Yoongi replied simply, and it most likely wasn’t intended to belittle him but the calm voice the older boy kept using despite Jimin’s obvious agitation only served to make his anger rise even more.

“You really think I’m weak,” Jimin snorted in disbelief after a few seconds of silence. “Just because I’m not like you and Hoseok, or Namjoon, or even Jungkook! Just because I don’t shoot people in cold blood, or torture them, or whatever you guys do on your missions. Just because I don’t have the same background as you and I’m not comfortable with the sight of ugly, bloody, disgusting corpses – yes, even after two years working in a gang. Just because of that, you think I’m some weak, fragile little boy.”

“That’s not… I don’t…” Yoongi stuttered, which was new, but Jimin didn’t miss the way his voice sounded just as composed as before. “I don’t think you’re weak.”

“Then quit treating me like a child,” Jimin added bitterly. “I don’t need your condescending bullshit right now.”

“Jimin, I-“ Yoongi started, only to be cut again.

“Just drop it,” Jimin added quickly turning to the window as he felt tears start to gather in his eyes.

His emotions always got the best off him, and that was why he could never do what Yoongi, Hoseok and Namjoon did. He was easily swayed by his changing heart and often found it hard to think straight. But he didn’t want the older boy to see that. He was tired of being babied. Maybe he really was the weakest link of the group, but he’d struggled for years to get to where he was now and that in itself should be a testament of his own, personal strength – regardless of how it compared to the other members’.

He noticed that they’d passed the edges of the city and would be arriving soon. The car remained completely silent for the rest of the way home, the tension palpable in the air. Jimin was just concentrating on getting his mind clear but it was difficult, and he could feel a headache creeping due to the lack of sleep and the sudden agitation.

“Are you okay?” Yoongi asked as he turned into their street, in the same emotionless tone that drove Jimin insane.

He didn’t find it within himself to respond, worried that his voice would crack and give away his current state of turmoil.

As soon as Yoongi was done parking the car, Jimin opened the door, murmured some vague version of “thanks for the ride”, and fled to his room before the other could say a word.

 

Later at night, Jimin was lying on his bed staring at the ceiling. Despite his advanced state of exhaustion, sleep wouldn’t find him. The sudden rush of emotions, especially of anger, had made his mind go wild and he was having difficulty calming down. He wasn’t even mad at Yoongi anymore. The man was doing nothing else than the other members hadn’t done before. Everyone babied him – Namjoon speaking for him during meetings was a prime example of it. He admitted that it was partly his fault, he invited it at times, and that was why he’d never complained. But when it came from Seokjin or Hoseok, he knew it came from a good place – they worried about him. When it came from Yoongi’s cool, indifferent voice, it sounded down right condescending. And the fact that the two boys weren’t even close made it even harder to swallow.

He didn’t like to hold a grudge, but if Yoongi was gonna keep treating him as nothing than a coworker than so be it. It didn’t mean he would let himself be walked all over – not again, not ever – by the other man.

He still felt slightly bothered by Yoongi’s words when he felt the darkness start to envelop him, sleep finally coming after what felt like hours of lying motionless. Yet, before he fell into deep slumber and finally put an end to this long day, his wild mind reminded him of something that had occurred a while ago.

It had been seven or eight months since he’d joined the gang, he couldn’t tell exactly. One night, as he’d laid in bed thinking, he’d heard the faint sound of his bedroom door opening very slowly as if someone was trying not to wake him up, followed by the muffled sounds of footsteps on the hardwood floor. Someone had slipped into his bed behind him quietly. He’d turned around slowly, expecting Taehyung, who’d sometimes joined him when he’d had a bad dream – although he usually did so much more noisily. His heart had jumped when he’d realized who was lying just a few centimeters away from him.

“Can’t sleep,” Yoongi had whispered, his eyes already closed. “And your bed is big enough for two.”

It hadn’t explained why he’d chosen his bed over Hoseok’s or Taehyung’s, which were just as big as his, or how sleeping next to Jimin would help him find sleep, but Jimin hadn’t asked any questions. He’d just turned away from Yoongi again and let sleep get to him, trying to ignore the unusual presence behind him. It was on this night however that, for the very first time, he’d felt a strange urge to get closer to the warm, unmoving body right next to him.

The next day, he’d woken up to a cold, empty bed. He’d almost believed he’d dreamed all of it until he’d seen the crease on the other side of the bed, a clear sign of another presence next to his. But when he’d bumped into Yoongi later in the day, the man had gone back to his detached, unreadable self and the incident was never brought up. Jimin had done his best to forget about it, trying his hardest to pretend he didn’t feel affected in a way he could neither describe nor explain by the older man from this point forward.

Chapter Text

To say that Jimin was bored was an understatement. Since his last mission, it had been decided, without his approval of course, that, for his protection, he was to stay out of all missions until the situation was fixed. In other words, he was forced to stay home, stuck between those four walls, until everyone who knew and had spoken of his existence had been dealt with. It was a long process – to find out who knew, to take care of them, to get rid of them.

They had voted on this issue at the last meeting – 6 votes against 1, his own vote being the only one against it, of course – and before Jimin knew, he was being imprisoned by his own friends.

“You are all trying to baby me again,” Jimin whined, pouting at Seokjin as the older man was sat in front of him at the large dinner table in their kitchen.

“No, we’re trying to keep you alive,” Seokjin replied, not looking up from the papers he was busy filling in.

Ultimately, he knew they were right. This situation was difficult for everyone. It slowed down the others’ work, changing all their plans as they had to take care of it as swiftly as possible. It was better for them if Jimin stayed out of the way in the meantime, so they didn’t have to play bodyguards for him at the same time.

Still, when everyone else was outside, he was bored out of his mind.

“Is this always like this for you?” Jimin continued. “Do you not get bored when we’re all out?”

“I’m not always home,” Seokjin said. “And when I am, I have plenty of things to do.”

Jimin spent most of his time with Seokjin now. The oldest member had a completely different role from the others. From the beginning, he’d stayed out of the violence and the confrontations. Rather than partaking in the action, he kept the rest of the gang on track. He was their accountant, their manager, and Namjoon’s right-hand man in making the important decisions. In a lot of ways, he was the one who kept it all from falling apart. He’d grown up in this world – the violence, the rivalry between gangs, the way it teared up families. He knew it all, and it was odd for Jimin that he’d fled all of this years ago just to come back to it, but the man seemed to find comfort in helping them somehow.

“I’ve seen enough of it with my own eyes for a lifetime,” he’d once said. “Now I’m just trying to keep you all alive.”

Jimin loved to spend time with Seokjin. The man still found time to listen to his worries despite the amount of work he had to deal with and was always a good shoulder to cry on when necessary. It wasn’t always easy for Jimin to let himself be vulnerable given their occupations, even in front of his closest friends, and especially after growing up in an environment where he felt like he couldn’t trust anyone. He was grateful to have him by his side.

“I’m grateful to have you keeping me company,” Seokjin said, smiling even though he was still staring at his papers.

Seokjin had been the first one to notice his foul mood following his last mission. He’d sat down with the boy the following day, recalling the events that had taken place and letting Jimin get it out of his chest. Sometimes, Jimin felt like he was the weakest link in the gang, the delicate one that didn’t truly belong. He felt like he shouldn’t have been so shaken up by what had happened – it was far from his first time dealing with a corpse. Hell, he’d killed a lot of people in the past. He should have been used to this by now. Seokjin didn’t seem to agree.

“It doesn’t make it easier,” Seokjin said in a soothing tone. “It’s not your job to be doing this. This is why we have the others. It’s Yoongi and Hoseok’s jobs to keep a straight face in those situations, it’s Namjoon and Jungkook’s jobs to do the dirty work. It’s not yours. This is why we have Taehyung come to these missions with you. You know how to do your job, and it was bad judgement and inconsiderate of Yoongi to intervene before you were done and without consulting Taehyung first.”

Jimin sighed. He was right, but still, he felt like the ugly duckling of the bunch, the one who couldn’t walk straight and struggled to keep up. He wished he was just a little bit stronger.

“And frankly, I don’t think any of us would enjoy having a fresh corpse dropped on us mid-intercourse,” Seokjin continued. “If anyone wants to pretend otherwise, they can come to me and we’ll find out.”

He was grateful once more for the man’s understanding. Still, he could not find the courage to bring up what had happened later in the car, and how it had affected his mood the following days too. He felt childish to still be annoyed after several days, it irked him to see how easily he could be affected by the smallest things. It shouldn’t have been a big deal if Yoongi didn’t like him, if they weren’t close the way he was to the others. None of them had chosen to live in each other’s presence, they were merely here, doing what they had to do. They barely even worked together. It shouldn’t have been an issue, and he did his best to forget about it.  

 

After a few days, Jimin found himself completely alone again. Even Seokjin was out running errands for the next few days, and deprived of the older man’s company, the house just seemed too big. He tried to stay in his room, but he couldn’t help walking around aimlessly from one room to another. He wished he’d had a hobby growing up, something he could put his mind to when work was slow, like painting or playing the piano. He hadn’t, however, grown up in an environment where he was encouraged to develop any personal skills other than studying, keeping his mouth shut and looking pretty. Still, even Jungkook could draw and this kid wasn’t exactly the poster child for healthy childhoods either. He was jealous. He’d have to ask the kid to teach him some day.

 A week passed, and he started to wonder when he would finally be able to go out again. The others hadn’t said in their last meeting, and he wasn’t fully up to date with what they were doing – it was already difficult to keep up on a normal day, even more now that he wasn’t involved. He’d found himself walking towards the kitchen for the third time since he’d woken up three hours ago. The problem with being at home all the time was that he knew the content of the fridge and the cupboards by heart and the element of surprise was gone. He knew he’d leave empty handed, because he knew he was only trying to satisfy his boredom, but his feet still carried him there as if they didn’t know exactly what he was doing.

To his surprise, however, he wasn’t alone in the big house on this day. How he’d gone three hours without noticing the other man’s presence was a mystery, but then Yoongi had always been the quiet type. And yet, there he was, sitting at the dinner table with a half-finished sandwich, mindlessly scrolling on his phone.

They hadn’t talked at all since the… incident. Even during meetings, Jimin usually stayed silent as he wasn’t involved, and he was merely there just to be informed of what was going on in the gang. He had to admit too that, although it was difficult to follow the coming and goings of all six members, he also felt a little bit disinterested. Since he was out of work, Taehyung worked with Jungkook instead and he felt a little left out. It wasn’t jealousy per say, but at times, hearing them share their stories when they came home every evening made him feel… distant. He knew he had no right to feel that way, and it was childish of him, but it just fed his insecurities about being in the gang in the first place. The others did just fine without him.

Still, despite his insecurities, he still had some pride left. Seeing Yoongi sitting there nonchalantly, not even looking up when he’d clearly heard the boy coming in the kitchen, irked him to no end. He’d told himself he wasn’t mad anymore, but just remembering the older man’s disdain their last conversation, the way Jimin had felt belittled when he was being lectured as if he was a three-year-old, made his blood boil again.

“Why aren’t you with the others?” he said, still standing on the doorway, not bothering with greetings.

“I hurt myself in my last mission with Hoseok,” Yoongi said, still not looking up from his phone. “As you would know if you bothered to listen during meetings.”

Jimin could not help but be on the defensive. He seriously wondered if this man purposely tried to get on his nerves.

“I do listen!” he said, letting his annoyance show in his voice a little too much. “Excuse me if I’m not smart enough to remember everything.”

Faced with blatant silence and ignorance, Jimin just sighed before walking out of the kitchen. One minute and he’d already had enough. He vaguely heard Yoongi mumbling about why he’d walked in the kitchen if it was just to leave straight away, but he didn’t bother responding.

He spent an hour or so working out to distract himself, then showered, and he felt better afterwards. Working out helped his mind settle, it made him feel calmer somehow as he put his agitated thoughts aside and focused on his body for a bit. As he felt less on edge, he went out of his room again. He was already being imprisoned in their house for God knows how long, he wasn’t going to stay confined in his bedroom out of unfounded fear for his fellow gang member.

Unsurprisingly, he found Yoongi sat on one of the sofas in the living room. This time, the man turned around as soon as Jimin set foot outside of his room, somehow drawn by the noise. Jimin was just about to walk passed him when the black-haired man spoke.

“Bored?”

Jimin stopped, looking at him with curiosity.

Beyond the fact that they just didn’t seem to get along, there was something about Yoongi that unsettled Jimin. Aside from the disdain, from the way Yoongi seemed to find just the right way to push his buttons, Jimin still found himself strangely drawn to the man and he could not explain why. He’d felt it for the first time on that night when Yoongi had joined him in his bed, just to ignore him the next day. It wasn’t masochistic, nor self-inflicted. Jimin was not in love, nothing of the sort. But somehow, when the older man acknowledged his existence, he felt his resolution to just move on with his day melt a little bit.

“Yes,” he said, realizing Yoongi was really waiting for an answer.

“Good, so am I,” Yoongi continued as if it wasn’t unusual for them to even be talking. “Let’s play a game.”

Jimin wanted to refuse but curiosity took the best off me. What’s the worst that could happen? He wanted to know how long Yoongi would keep this act up. More so, he wanted to know where this would lead.

“Truth or dare,” the other man said.

They were both sat on the floor now at arm’s length of each other, on both sides of the coffee table, despite the two empty sofas.

The choice of the game was surprising, but not totally unexpected. They weren’t friends having fun during a sleepover. They barely knew each other despite living in the same house for years. Jimin could already tell there wouldn’t be a lot of dares.

“Truth,” he replied, eyeing Yoongi with a mixture of curiosity and caution.

He still was unsure what the other man expected to come out of this. Surely this couldn’t only be his way to pass the time…

“Who in the gang would you say you’re the closest and the least close to?” Yoongi said, his features as composed as ever.

Jimin rolled his eyes at the obvious question. Was this a joke?

“As if you don’t already know the answer,” he sighed. “I’m closest to Taehyung, least close to you. Truth or dare?”

“Truth,” Yoongi replied, visibly unbothered by Jimin’s obvious annoyance.

“Why do you hate me?” Jimin asked, not bothering to hide the bitterness in his tone.

He was tired of tip toeing around Yoongi. Sure, it was his doing, his own apprehension towards the older man, but he felt somehow as if the black-haired man in front of him was enjoying this. It was Jimin’s own twisted mind at work surely, making him overthink everything as he always did, but at that moment he was well and truly pissed off. If Yoongi wanted to play with him, then he was going to give him a run for his money.

“I don’t hate you,” Yoongi replied in the same even tone, which only contributed to annoy Jimin even further.

“Then why do you always act all cold around?”

“You only get one question each turn, Jimin,” the man said.

“But-“

“Play the game or don’t play at all.”

There it was. That same condescending tone.

“Fine,” Jimin said, gritting his teeth. “Your turn then.”

“Truth or dare,” Yoongi said.

“Truth.”

“Why did you go back to get Jungkook if you two weren’t close?” Yoongi asked. He then added, looking at the dark look on Jimin’s face: “A genuine question, not a judgement.”

It still rubbed Jimin the wrong way. Everything Yoongi did seemed to rub him the wrong way. Focus, he told himself. You’re doing this to yourself, he’s doing just fine.

“Because I’m not a fucking monster to leave a child in such a shitty environment by himself. I know a gang isn’t ideal either but at least he has people looking out for him now. Truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Why are you always so cold around me?”

He might as well get the truth out while they were at it.

“I don’t treat you any differently than the others.”

“Bullshit!” Jimin heard himself shout. “You’re either condescending, plain cold or act like I don’t exist. What did I ever do to you? I don’t expect everyone to love me, but that’s beyond the point of plain indifference.”

“The gam-“ Yoongi tried to say but he was cut off immediately.

“Fuck the game,” Jimin said, but his voice sounded a little bit calmer this time. “Just answer me.”

For the first time since the start of the game, the room was silent. It was heavy, uncomfortable, but Jimin didn’t care. He was too much on edge now, too invested, and he just wanted to get an answer. And so he did.

“I… just don’t know where to stand with you,” Yoongi replied, looking away, breaking eye contact for the first time.

If Jimin hadn’t known any better, he would have thought the other man was unsettled.

Yoongi didn’t speak any more and the silence stretched out for another minute.

“Your turn,” Jimin said eventually.

“I thought you didn’t want to play anymore,” Yoongi replied, and when he looked up, he still sported his usual composure.  

“It’s your turn,” Jimin insisted.

“Fine,” Yoongi sighed. “Truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Why do you never speak during our meetings?”

It was Jimin’s turn to sigh.

“Because I do my job separately from yours, because I struggle to keep track of all of the things you do, of your lingo, of all the names and places I should know by now. Because I’m not smart enough to follow all of the gang’s plans. I’m not quick witted like Namjoon, I don’t have Seokjin’s good memory to be able to remember everyone’s missions and plan accordingly. So I keep my mouth shut and only speak when I’m concerned. Truth or dare?”

“Truth.”

“Why did you come to my room all these years ago in the middle of the night even though we weren’t close then and we’re still not close now?”

Yoongi was stunned to silence, once again avoiding Jimin’s eyes. At first, Jimin thought the man might not remember, and that he was trying to figure it out, but as the silence dragged along, it almost felt like a confession of guilt.

“I told you then…” Yoongi said eventually. “I couldn’t sleep…”

“Okay but why not Hoseok then?” Jimin said, and he had no idea where that sudden courage to ask all these personal questions came from. “When you two are a lot closer?”

“I don’t know… I…” Yoongi started stuttering. “Fine. Because I woke from a shitty nightmare that night and… for some reason, your presence calms me down. Satisfied?”

It was Jimin’s turn to be stunned into silence. Confusion looked odd on Yoongi, it was unlike him to stumble over his words almost painfully, as if the man dreaded to use the wrong ones. It didn’t suit the image Jimin had made of him in his head.

“You have nightmares?” he heard himself say, realizing as it passed his lips that it was a stupid question.

“Yes, I am a human being,” Yoongi snorted.

“But… you kill people for a living,” Jimin continued, his brain-to-mouth filter suddenly gone missing.

“So?”

“People are terrified of you.”

“Good, it means that I’m doing my job well,” he replied with a smile that Jimin didn’t know how to interpret. “Truth or dare. Are you scared of me, Jimin?”

“Sometimes,” Jimin replied honestly, because Yoongi had been nothing but honest until then. “Sometimes I am.”

“You shouldn’t be,” Yoongi said, and while it did not sound comforting in the slightest, at least it seemed sincere. “I’m never going to do anything to you.”

“Because of your loyalty to the gang?” Jimin asked again. He had to know.

“Because contrarily to what you seem to think, I don’t hate you,” Yoongi replied.

Yoongi seemed to struggle a bit to stand up, but it was a clear sign that the game was over. As the older man disappeared into his room, Jimin remembered him saying he’d been hurt earlier as he witnessed him dragging his leg a little with each step.

 

The next day, the house was quiet again when Jimin woke up. As he sleepily walked out of his room, he found Yoongi in the kitchen again, apparently trying to reach for something up in a cupboard but he was clearly struggling. Jimin noticed the way his right leg didn’t seem all that stable and he remembered the man mentioning an injury the day before.

“Let me help you,” Jimin said.

Yoongi turned around, visibly startled to see him, but he regained his composure almost immediately.

“I’m fine,” he said, turning back around, but Jimin was persistent.

He joined him in a few steps, pushing Yoongi’s hand off the cupboard.

“What do you want?” Jimin asked. “That cup?”

“Yup,” Yoongi groaned, but he still let him.

He mumbled a thank you when Jimin handed the cup to him, and they both sat down in front of each other. They were silent, not uncomfortably so, but not in a way that suggested familiarity either. They’d probably never eaten together without someone else being there, Jimin realized, which was odd for two people who’d lived together for so long.

“How bad is it?” Jimin said eventually.

He’d always hated long silences, they made him uncomfortable. Somehow, his mood had done a complete 360 from the previous day. He hadn’t learned much from their little game of truth or dare, Yoongi always replying with short, concise answers that only gave him more questions. However, he felt like it had given him some peace, Yoongi’s honesty feeling almost like an apology for his careless behavior on their previous conversation in the car.

“What is?” Yoongi asked, looking up from his phone.

Jimin wondered what he spent so much time looking on it.

“Your leg,” Jimin said in between two bites of cereals. “How bad is it?”

“Ah. It’s a scratch,” Yoongi sighed. “I’ve had worse, but you know Seokjin. This man will force you to stay in bed for a week for a cold. I’m glad he’s not here to nag at me, at least. But the others are not on life or death missions so they’ll do just fine without me.”

Jimin didn’t miss his confidence when talking about his place in the gang. Yoongi knew how crucial he was to the others, he knew how good he was. But then why wouldn’t he, Jimin thought.

“Still, it must hurt,” he said again, just to be polite.

“I’m fine,” Yoongi said. “This will be healed in no time.”

Jimin got lost in his thoughts again for a few minutes. He was wondering if he was the only one who still felt like he didn’t truly belong. He was curious, not out of self-pity, but purely because he wanted to understand where his insecurities came from. Was it only because of his own shortcomings that he felt like a fraud, or was it just the way he’d been built, to be constantly unsatisfied with himself? To need constant validation?

He didn’t know from whom he wanted to get that validation, he certainly didn’t understand why he’d expected Yoongi to give it to him at that instant. He was unsure whether he could push for more honesty. They weren’t playing anymore, and they still weren’t anywhere near friends.

It doesn’t hurt to try, he thought.

“Can I ask you a question?” he said, breaking the silence. “You don’t have to answer.”

“Shoot,” Yoongi said, lifting his head to look at the boy.

“Do you ever… get scared of being killed when you’re in mission?” he spoke hesitantly. “Do you ever have moments where you think that maybe this could be your last one?”

Yoongi thought for a second before answering.

“Scared? Not really,” he said first.

As expected of him, Jimin thought, but the other man continued.

“I don’t get scared, but I’m aware it could happen. There’s a rush of adrenaline that happens though, in that situation, and it keeps me going no matter how bad things turn.”

“Ah, I get that too,” Jimin said. “When I know the person I’m flirting with is particularly dangerous and I could get found out at any time. It does keep you going. Somehow it makes me a better liar too.”

Yoongi nodded pensively.

“I never saw it like that. I don’t know how you… keep your composure in that situation,” the older man said. “That must be a tough job.”

“It’s not the worst part, to be honest,” Jimin continued, smirking. “The part where I sleep with them afterwards isn’t always a lot of fun either.”

“Ah, right,” Yoongi said, pensively scratching his neck.

It was obvious the topic made him uncomfortable, but it was what Jimin did for a living. It wasn’t exactly new information. Although Jimin remembered in the back of his mind that Yoongi was never truly in favor of having someone doing this job in the gang. It was a long time ago, though. And he’s not exactly a model of virtue, to give himself the right to judge me for whoring around.

“It’s a job,” he continued. They were just making conservation. “I prefer that job over yours, if I’m honest.”

“It’s mutual, then,” Yoongi smirked.

“It’s even an alright job as long as no one drops a fresh corpse on you while you’re having sex,” Jimin added.

He enjoyed having the upper hand. It happened so rarely, to see Yoongi look like a deer caught in the headlights.

“Ah, yes,” the older man said. “Sorry about that.”

It wasn’t much, but it seemed sincere enough and Jimin would accept that as closure.

“Apologies accepted.”

 

“Jimin!”

Before he could turn around to greet his friend, Taehyung had already jumped from the doorway towards him, successfully making Jimin lose his balance, both falling on his bed. It was a common occurrence every single time his friend came home. It was usually a sign he’d had a good day, so Jimin never complained.

“Taehyung,” he tried to say, although his voice came out muffled because his friend was still on him.

“Jimin, I have so many things to tell you!” his friend said excitedly. “We saw a friend of Hoseok that’s super into hacking and stuff and he taught me so many new things, it’s so cool, I’m like, almost a pro now, and then we taped a hotel room to help for Namjoon and Hoseok’s mission, and honestly you should hear them, they’re so badass, honestly I never thought Hoseok could be so cool but if you heard him during a mission, he’s so threatening, wow, you would never guess he could be like th-“

“Taehyung, please get off me before you start a monologue,” Jimin laughed, as his friend obliged.

“I’m sorry,” Taehyung said, before starting off again.

Taehyung was the kind to get excited over all the little things, and it was endearing to see, especially given the not so pretty jobs they all had to do. He would listen patiently to his friend’s stories even though they did not always make a lot of sense as he went from one thing to another in a matter of seconds. A constant theme in Taehyung’s stories recently however was Jungkook. It shouldn’t have been surprising, given that the two always worked together at the moment, Jungkook working as his temporary bodyguard as Taehyung taught him a few tricks here and there. And it wouldn’t have been surprising if it weren’t that the way he talked about the boy seemed to have changed recently, less of the I’m proud of Jungkook because he’s a 12 years old tone that they usually used about the boy, and more of the I’m proud of Jungkook because… he didn’t know exactly. He just knew Taehyung spent a lot more time talking about how “handsome and cool” Jungkook was as his bodyguard than he usually did and this had to mean something.

It was a little odd for Jimin. Even though he was proud of seeing Jungkook grow up into the adult that he was – something he would never admit in front of the boy -, he couldn’t completely stop remembering him as the fourteen-year-old he’d first met behind The Red Room six years ago. But then Taehyung had met the boy much later, at a completely different time.

As Taehyung kept rambling about their latest adventures of the afternoon, Jimin couldn’t help but smile. Jungkook wasn’t much a talker, he certainly wasn’t as talkative as Taehyung, but Jimin was neither stupid nor blind. He knew the kid had had feelings for the brown-haired boy for years, and while he’s done nothing but tease him all this time, thinking it was none of his business, he was glad to see there might be a chance they weren’t unrequited.

“So, when are you going to tell him?” he said, because above all, Jimin loved teasing his friends.

“Tell him what?” Taehyung said, genuinely confused.

“Ah, never mind…” he laughed.

The two boys turned around simultaneously as someone knocked on the door.

“I hope I’m not interrupting,” Seokjin said as he opened the door. “We’re having an impromptu meeting in the living room. There’s a bit of a change in the plans going on right now. We need you to join us, if you don’t mind.”

The two friends managed to squeeze themselves on a sofa next to Jungkook. The first ten minutes were simply Namjoon recapping everything that had happened during the last few days, mostly for Yoongi’s sake. Jimin started tuning out a bit. He had no idea how they managed to follow all these intricate plans, never mind make them. They were so many gangs and so many names to remember, and they had to know which gang was close to which other gang, and who hated who, and it was just too much. He supposed he had to be there with them for it to start making sense. He could hardly remember all the people he’d fucked in the last six months. Jimin always followed the good old rule of “never trust anyone outside of the gang, be careful even with our allies” and it had worked perfectly fine for him until then.

He started to pay attention again when he noticed the change of tone in Namjoon’s speech.

“And that’s where the change comes along,” their leader said. “We’re getting closer to solving the whole situation with Jimin. We only have one man left to take care of.”

“Does that mean I’m finally going to be able to see the blue sky after all this time?” he sighed dramatically for effect, although he was truly relieved to learn this might not last too much longer.

“Hopefully,” Namjoon smiled at him apologetically. “But until then, we have to take care of this guy. Now we have his name, we know who he is. We know for a fact that he knows about you, Jimin, so we can’t let you go until we get rid of him.”

Jimin sighed again, sincerely this time.

“And?” he said.

“And we will, problem is: we have no idea what he looks like,” Hoseok continued. “We had a plan already, we knew how we could get him to come to us, but how do we know for sure it’s him? If this guy knows about you, that means you’ve probably seen him at some point.”

“Most likely, yes,” Jimin said. “When Taehyung and I started our last mission, I was introduced to a lot of people. It happens often to be honest, but usually they’re just quick greetings and people forget about me the next second.”

“Well, he didn’t, and he should have, for his own sake,” Hoseok said, smirking. “Now that’s where the change comes along. None of us will be able to identify him except you. If we want to be done with this situation, we don’t want to go around killing the wrong guy otherwise this will never end.”

“Hang on,” Jimin said. “Am I creating you more trouble because of this? You going around and shooting these people when it wasn’t planned in the first place surely is going to have consequences. I don’t want you to get more trouble just to protect me.”

“Nah, don’t worry,” Hoseok laughed. His ability to talk about murder with the lightest tone never ceased to amaze Jimin. “These people didn’t carry us in their hearts anyway. They might not even know it’s our doing, and if they do, it won’t make a huge difference. Sooner or later, we would have crossed their paths anyway.”

“If you say so,” Jimin mumbled, unconvinced. “So, what is the change of plans then?”

“We,” Hoseok continued. “Take you with us. You and Taehyung. We need a spy, and we need someone who can identify that dude on the spot, so we can move quickly. If we get that guy where we want to but we let him go by mistake, it’s over. We’re never getting him again.”

“In other words,” Namjoon said, still smiling gently at him. “You’re going back to work. Just a slightly different kind of work.”

“Don’t worry, you will be watching things from a distance, the way Taehyung usually does with you,” Hoseok spoke again. “But you’ll get a taste of what it’s like on the field, for once. You get to see what we do.”

“Wait,” Jimin asked. “Who is ‘we’? I suppose I’m going with you Hoseok, but it cannot be the entire gang on one single mission.”

“No, it’s not,” Namjoon said, “you’re going with the usual duo. They work well together, just like you and Taehyung.”

“You’re going with me and Yoongi,” Hoseok said, a small smile appearing at the corner of his lips.

Jimin’s eyes vaguely look at Hoseok, unfocused, as he took it all in. He wasn’t entirely sure how it would feel to see his friends as the killers they were, although he’d known it would happen sooner or later. He didn’t have much choice – this was the reality of the world he lived in. It would be hypocritical of him to try to back out of it when he himself was the cause of deaths of so many.

It’s not my job to care, he reminded himself. He liked that detachment. He needed it, they all did.

As he turned his eyes towards the black-haired man sitting next to Hoseok, he found Yoongi’s posture to be, despite his relatively small frame, almost predatory, as if he was already looking forward to this, his cat-like eyes dead set on Jimin.

“Now that’s what I call good news,” Yoongi said in that low tone of his.

 

For some reason, your presence calms me down.

 

Chapter Text

Jimin was getting his ass royally kicked by Jungkook, and frankly, he didn’t know why he’d expected it to go any other way.

“Give me a minute,” he managed to slip in between two intakes of air.

He was lying on the worn out gym mattresses, sweaty and out of breath, trying to remember why the hell he’d agreed to do this. The tall kid standing over him nodded and kindly handed him a bottle of water.

Granted, he hadn’t done this in years. It wasn’t his first go at learning self-defense and all that jazz that Seokjin had made mandatory for any of them regardless of their respectful positions within the gang, but his actual first-hand experience had been, well… limited. There had been a few times where things had turned south, and he’d had to use his fists here and there, but his opponents were rarely a fair match. Jimin’s conquests were rarely men of the field, which meant they were either twice as old as he was or not in the best shape. For his usual missions however, his main range of skills were seducing people, getting whatever he wanted out of them, sleeping with them and then slipping an unfortunate poison in their drinks. Anything more violent he delegated to Taehyung or Jungkook.

“This isn’t exactly your job,” Taehyung had told him when he’d started whining after Jungkook had whooped his ass for the third time in a row.

And the boy was right, but that didn’t prevent him from giggling from the corner of the room every time Jimin fell back down, hitting the mattress hard.

“Stop snapchatting videos of me!” Jimin groaned as his friend laughed openly, his phone very obviously focused on him.

“Hoseok wants to know how you’re doing,” Taehyung replied cheerfully.

“Badly,” he groaned again, standing up slowly. “And I thought I was in good shape.”

“If you were better than Jungkook, he’d be out of work.”

It had been Hoseok’s idea to have Jimin train a bit with Jungkook in preparation for their next mission. Since he’d never really been on the field, his last self-defense session had happened… years ago. Long enough he could barely remember it. His gym sessions were rarely this confrontational. Still, Hoseok had insisted that, while Jimin would be perfectly safe, it was never bad to be careful.

“This isn’t going so well,” he whispered, a bit demoralized after not feeling like he was getting much better after almost three hours.

“Don’t worry,” Jungkook said, barely out of breath. “Hoseok and Yoongi would never put you in a situation where the enemy could get close to you. It’s just in case… You know, it’s all good to have a gun to defend yourself, but your opponent is likely to have one as well, so it would be helpful just to learn a few tricks to disarm them and put yourself to safety. Besides, you are doing well given you haven’t done this in a long time.”

Jimin pouted, only partly convinced, but nodded anyway.

“What Jungkook is trying to say while remaining humble is that the likelihood of you having to fight someone on his level on such a mission is low, so you getting your ass kicked by someone so skilled right now doesn’t mean you’re not progressing. Also, Hoseok said you were doing well too.”

Jimin rolled his eyes as he caught the kid in front of him blushing for a second at the casual compliments from the other man sitting at the corner of the room.

“Let’s just do this for another thirty minutes or so, okay?” Jungkook said. “And then we’ll head back home.”

“Yes please, Seokjin is already threatening me to not be late for dinner because he actually bothered cooking something nice since we’re all home for once.” Taehyung said, still filming the two going at it. “I’d get my ass kicked by Jungkook over Seokjin any day, and so would you.”

 

It was unusually crowded for once, the otherwise wide kitchen suddenly turned small from having to fit seven grown men around the same table. It wasn’t so unusual to have them be home at the same time, but they still had different schedules and went in and out at different times. It had become a habit for everyone to just feed themselves at whatever time was preferred for them, or just to join whoever was already in the kitchen, and they would usually eat in little groups of three or four at a time.

But this time Seokjin had declared that, since he’d arranged their schedules to match on this night, they were all required to attend this family dinner just like old times.

“And no complaining allowed,” he’d said firmly, sending a very pointed look towards Yoongi, “otherwise you’ll find yourself homeless in no time.”

Empty threats, but they were enough to keep everyone in line. After all, he was the one who ran it all.

Jimin’s hands were trembling slightly as he helped set down the table. They had one full day left before the mission and his mind was going in all sorts of directions. He could not help being nervous – he hated being out of his element. He was the only one unused to being in this kind of conditions really, Taehyung had worked on spying missions not dissimilar to this one before Jimin had joined in years ago. He knew he had no reasons to worry – there was no bloodbath planned, only negotiations and discussing other matters to cover up the spying job. Still, he felt desperately helpless, knowing he was the key element but also the one to be protected at all cost.

He could not focus on the ongoing conversations because of the unnecessary noise filling up his brain with questions he could not answer. His eyes fixed blankly on a random kitchen tile as he concentrated on one voice at a time, first Hoseok’s than Namjoon’s, then whoever was talking at the time, attempting to clear out his mind. He almost got there when he was interrupted by a kick under the table, strong enough that it was easy to guess who it was from.

“It’ll be fine,” Jungkook said from the other side of the table.

And he smiled, and in that moment, he looked so terribly child-like despite the height and the muscle mass that Jimin felt sorry this was the only life he’d been able to offer him as a way out of hell.

 

Taehyung was finishing setting up his material and making sure everything worked as Jimin recalled all the information Yoongi and Hoseok had told them the day before. They’d had a reunion, only the four of them, in the evening to make sure they knew exactly what they were getting into.

“Now, the way this is going to go down is simple,” Hoseok had started. “We’re supposed to meet two dudes in a disaffected hangar uptown. We’ve met some of their people there before, we know our way around and so do they, so we’re not trying to be too clever and to play tricks, okay? We’ll drop you and Taehyung off an hour before to set everything up. Be quick. Then we’ll put you in this little room far away from where we’ll be meeting them, and you’ll stay hidden under a table and only look through the camera. Yoongi and I will leave, and then we’ll come back for our meeting to avoid any suspicions around us being here too early.”

Jimin and Taehyung had nodded, taking it all in.

“Now, these people aren’t supposed to be our enemies, alright?” Hoseok had continued. “We know one of them has talked about you now, so clearly he’s become too dangerous to let him walk around, but these are people we’ve worked with before. We don’t want this to turn badly, we’re here for a chat, and then Jimin has to identify one of them as someone he’s met before. We already have a vague idea of who it might be, a very tall dude with a balding head, but look at the both of them just in case. Now for the technical stuff: one camera, one mic, that’s it. They won’t be looking around but we’re not taking chances.”

Jimin hadn’t known if he’d been the only one finding the atmosphere growing incredibly tense in the living room, but he’d never seen Taehyung looking so serious in preparation for a mission before, so he’d supposed this was quite an important moment for the both of them.

“And just to make things clear,” Hoseok had gone on. “You two stay where you are the whole time until we come and fetch you. Make as little noise as possible, stay hidden under the table only we’re coming to you. You do not move, whatever happens.”

“Whatever. Happens.” Yoongi had insisted, speaking for the first time since they’d all sat together. “Let’s make that crystal clear. And I’ll have Taehyung be the only one to hear our conversation through the headphones for safety. No offense Jimin, but you look like the kind to freak out easily.”

He had felt a little offended nonetheless, handling his nerves being at the heart of what he did – he was still a spy after all, able to get his ways with people without any threat or violence. But then he’d had to remember that Yoongi had seen Taehyung in action before but not him.

“Any questions?” Hoseok had finished. “Taehyung, your only mission is to make sure Jimin has a clear view on both of the people we’re meeting tomorrow. Jimin, focus on trying to identify the guy. Like Yoongi said, you shouldn’t worry about the conversation. We’ll have Taehyung set the mic at a distance so we’re not even sure what he’ll hear will be very intelligible anyway. This shouldn’t take too long, fifteen to twenty minutes at worst, so just make sure you get him. Is this all clear?”

The two boys had looked at each other and nodded in unison.

And it had now been half and hour since Hoseok and Yoongi had left. The older men had told them to remain silent as soon as they’d left, in the unlikely event that the men arrived before the time planned. Taehyung would communicate through his phone, typing out words to pass the time, but Jimin was still oddly nervous and only nod politely.

They’ll be back soon, Taehyung typed out in his notes, don’t worry.

Right as Jimin nodded, his friend straightened himself and pressed the earphone tighter in his ear. Noise. Someone was coming in.

Taehyung placed the little screen in between them carefully. After a few seconds, Jimin could see four men entering the building by the main entrance. He recognized Yoongi and Hoseok quite fast. It was clear the two men were casually trying to bring the guests closer to where the camera was located. Jimin was impressed – if he hadn’t known better, this would have looked like a casual exchange between friends. Without any sound, he could tell the atmosphere was relaxed, almost as if they weren’t in a secret hangar talking about illegal stuff. He could even tell Hoseok was laughing at times.

After a minute, they got close enough that Jimin could start telling the two strangers apart. It didn’t take him long to identify the man he’d already met. He remembered flirting with him in a bar at the end of a mission a year or so before, to no avail. He was surprised to learn he was not supposed to be the enemy – he’d shot his shot blindly the first time he’d seen him without knowing who he was because he could have still told he was someone important, and his presence at the bar while he was on a mission had seemed an odd coincidence. But Jimin had not gotten anything out of this man, and he’d forgotten about him soon after. He realized he didn’t know his name, but surely Hoseok and Yoongi did. He also came to the realization that he was not the man they had described to him the day before – he was a bit shorter than what he’d expected, had a full head of hair. Jimin’s eyes then looked back to the other stranger, and understood.

Oh, he thought, they got it wrong. Well, as long as we know who it is…

He finally lifted his eyes off the screen to signal to Taehyung he’d identified him but was faced with his friend staring at the wall in front of them instead, as if he was listening intently to what his earphone was giving him. Taehyung had completely abandoned the screen in his hand. It was clear he could hear much more than Yoongi and Hoseok had planned.

There was a look painted on the boy’s face that Jimin could not identify – something between shock and surprise, his eyes wide but focused, as if whatever was being said was more than the casual conversation Jimin had thought was happening. Yet, when he looked back at the screen, he only saw more laughter and friendly pats on the back.

Eventually the conversation came to an end, and Yoongi and Hoseok escorted the two strangers outside. They disappeared for a few minutes off the screen, and Taehyung took the earpiece off. Jimin sent him a look trying to understand, but Taehyung only shook his head.

Did you identify him? He typed out.

Jimin nodded.

Good.

Then Hoseok and Yoongi came back to fetch them.

“Mission’s a success on our side,” Hoseok smiled, giving the two boys thumbs up. “We’ll talk in the car. You guys did great.”

Jimin wasn’t sure exactly what they’d done, but he was glad everything had gone according to plan.

On the way to the car, as Hoseok and Yoongi were leading the way, Jimin shot a glance towards his friend walking beside him.

“What was that?” he whispered.

“What? Oh, the conversation?” Taehyung said absent-mindedly. “Nothing, just casualties.”

Jimin could tell Taehyung was lying. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise – he was a spy, it was his job to carefully retain information and judge who he could reasonably give it to. It was certainly not the first time he’d kept something from Jimin – if he didn’t volunteer information coming back from a mission he’d done separately, Jimin wouldn’t ask him. Still, it made his heart pinch to hear him flat out lie on something they’d worked on together.

Get over yourself, Jimin, you’re a grown up, he thought. He’s just doing his job.

Once in the car, everyone remained silent for a while. There was an ease in the air, it felt almost like they were coming back from an outing as friends and not something that they all considered their jobs. Oddly, the only one that didn’t seem as calm as the others was Taehyung. Since they’d left the hangar, he’d been watching outside the window quite intensely in silence, as if he wasn’t completely there with them, oblivious to the atmosphere in the rest of the vehicle. Not quite tense, but pensive.

Eventually, it was Hoseok that broke the silence.

“So! How did it go?” he said brightly. “Did we get it right? Did you identify him?”

“No…” Jimin responded, a bit startled by the sudden noise. “I mean… Yes... I did identify him, but you didn’t get it right? I don’t think?”

Jimin felt something change in the air as Yoongi’s eyes, who until then had been fixed strictly on the road in front of him as he drove them home, slowly met Hoseok’s gaze in a manner that breathed incomprehension.

“Wait…” Hoseok said after a few seconds of silence, and the atmosphere was now growing unexpectedly but palpably tense in the vehicle.

So much that Taehyung had turned his eyes away from the window for the first time since they’d left and was now listening as well.

“When you say you identified him,” Hoseok spoke again carefully, almost as if he was talking to a child. “Which one was it?”

Jimin could physically feel some kind of twisted anticipation in the air, as if everyone wanted him to reply but no one wanted to hear the answer at the same time. He even caught Yoongi give him a little glance in the rear-view mirror before settling his eyes back on the road.

“Well,” Jimin started. “The short one in the leather jacket, that was standing next to Yoongi the whole time? It was him. I’ve never met the other guy, I’m absolutely certain it’s the short one. I met him in a bar, maybe a year ago, and he wasn’t my mission, but I still tried to get something out of him this day and it didn’t really work and…”

He realized he wasn’t really being listened to anymore as Hoseok and Yoongi shared another quick glance together. A second later, the car swerved slightly as Yoongi lost control for half a second, before Hoseok almost jumped to straighten the wheel.

“Be careful!” he shouted. “Don’t get us killed, we’re almost there.”

The older man’s eyes were back on the road, but he didn’t seem any calmer.

“Shit… shit,” Yoongi muttered, so low Jimin barely heard it. “This was not supposed to happen.”

Chapter Text

It was his second winter without a home, but the cold hit him just as hard as the first one. There was only so much money he could spend on warm clothes and new matches to get him through the night. He got ripped off, on every single one of the meagre “jobs” he could find every week to make a little bit of cash, but then anyone who eagerly decided to illegally hire an obviously homeless fourteen-year-old even for a day was hardly going to be straight with the law.

The empty hallway of the disaffected building he’d settled in a few months before had been invaded by drug dealers and he’d had to move again. It was a crowd he’d rather avoid, especially when all he had to defend himself was a small pocket knife he’d stolen from his last stay in a foster home two years before. It was his second night in the little woods that bordered the city – but he knew he could not stay. It wasn’t his first stay there and he knew he had to remain as hidden as possible, meaning he couldn’t even put his tent up to protect himself from the November wind that was freezing his bones. He wasn’t afraid of having to move somewhere else – he was mainly scared of people asking him what he was doing here, or worse, trying to help him. It was also a popular place for joggers, so he knew he would only be able to catch a few hours of sleep before he had to pack up and hunt for a new long-term place to stay again.

But those places were hard to find. A wandering, homeless fourteen-year-old attracted attention – and all he wanted was to be as invisible to others as he could. He could not even rely on begging. He had tried at first, thinking he could somehow survive on the sympathy of others. He’d found out soon enough that people were either too suspicious of young people asking for money or they became dead set on helping him get out of the streets, which wasn’t a good outcome either. People could never be trusted, not fully. They had good intentions maybe, but he didn’t survive on good intentions. Good intentions didn’t fill up his stomach and protect him from the cold, despite what the strangers who pitied him may have thought. Good intentions had gotten him to move from one foster home to another, feeling like he was being abandoned again every single time as his new temporary parents led him out the door like he was a package to be sent out, until he’d reached his final destination. Two years prior to this day, when he’d decided to take starvation and homelessness over the beating and degrading of his last foster family, he’d come to the decision that, if this was the only life people with good intentions had to offer, he would rather pass on that.

 

Yoongi cuddled tighter in his dirty blanket as another gush of wind moved the bushes he had settled into. He closed his heavy eyes, hoping the cold wouldn’t prevent him from finding sleep. He’d spent the entire day trying to find a new place to stay, to no avail, and he was exhausted.

 

He was woken up the next day by noises of someone passing by and he remembered the joggers. He stretched out lazily, hoping to yawn the tiredness out of his system.

“Good morning,” he heard a man’s voice say way too close to him, startling him awake.

As he opened his eyes, he spotted a young man crouching only a few meters away from him. He must have been only four or five years older than him, sporting a worn-out leather jacket and looking as disheveled, but not nearly as dirty, as Yoongi must have looked at the same instant.

“I’m going to move straight away,” Yoongi said after a few seconds, thinking it may have been someone trying to nicely relocate him before the cops showed up.

“I’m not asking you to do that,” the stranger replied simply.

“Then I’m not asking for your help,” Yoongi retorted, crossing the second thing off the list of what people said to him on a daily basis.

But oddly as Yoongi looked back at him, he realized none of the stranger’s behavior, from his posture to the smirk on his face, reflected the usual pity or disdain he would get from passersby’s. If anything, the man looked amused by the situation.

“Don’t have much to offer on that front either,” the stranger replied again. “Although I would have loved a hand back then. I was in your shoes only a year or two ago. But I was mostly here to ask for yours.”

“My what?” Yoongi said, trying not to let the panic show in his voice.

It wouldn’t be the first time someone would rob him of one of his previous items he’d spent so much effort earning or stealing, but they usually did it when he was asleep and left before the morning came.

“Your help, dummy.”

Yoongi was startled for a second, but did his best not to lose his composure.

“Still not interested.”

The look on the stranger’s face disappeared for the first time since they’d started talking, the smirk vanishing off his lips. There was something new in his eyes too, nothing like pity but something in between incomprehension and acknowledgement that Yoongi couldn’t quite identify.

“You’ll starve, stray kitten.”

Ignoring the odd nickname from someone he’d just met, Yoongi scuffed sarcastically.

“Wouldn’t be the first time.”

“As you wish,” the stranger replied after a few seconds, but he was visibly displeased.

He stood up as if he was about to leave but stopped abruptly to look for something in his pocket.

“Here,” the man said, handing him what was obviously money.

“Why would you give me this if you know what it’s like to starve?” Yoongi said, staring at the shiny 50 bucks in his hands.

“Because I can make twice as much as this in a few hours, despite having been in your shoes only a little while ago,” the stranger said, the smirk right back in place.

“Then why do you need my help?” Yoongi asked, genuinely curious.

“Oh, I don’t need it, really,” the stranger replied as he finally started walking away. “I could use some company though.”

 

“I’m sorry but I won’t do it.”

In the two years or so he’d spent in the gang, he’d never refused a mission, not even once. He’d asked for adjustments, little tweaks in the plans here and there as no one knew how to do this job better than him, other than maybe Taehyung, but he’d never flat out refused. There was a first time for everything, as people said, and as could have been expected, it wasn’t going down well with the others.

“Jimin,” Hoseok tried to explain nicely for the third time, exasperation starting to peak through in his voice. “I don’t know what’s making you react this way, but whatever it is, we really need you on this. This is not something we can easily pass on, we need specific info and we are only guaranteed to get it in this place, at this specific time and only you out of all of us has the skills to do it.”

“If you need anything more to help you make this easier, you can always ask, you know,” Seokjin said softly. “If you want Jungkook to accompany you two for extra protection, you know this can be arranged. But Hoseok is right, sweetheart, we don’t have much choice here.”

“I still won’t do it,” Jimin said and he clenched his fists as he felt his throat get tighter, glancing over the small business card placed on the table again.

“I’m sorry but,” Yoongi intervened, his tone a little less sugarcoated than the others. “We don’t have much time for this. We need to do this. We need you to do your job, as we all do here. There’s only so much we can discuss in situations like these.”

Jimin was trying his best to keep his composure but soon the tears were threatening to spill and his breath started to get shorter and – oh god no, he did not want to have a panic attack, not here, not now, not- no

“I’m sorry,” he said, his voice dangerously close to breaking, “I can’t. I can’t do it.”

As he swiftly escaped to the safety of his room, he had just enough time to catch Jungkook, who rarely ever paid attention during meetings unless his name was spoken, reach over the table to pick up the business card Jimin had left behind.

 

He lied down on his bed for what felt like an eternity trying to calm his nerves, to settle his breathing back to a normal rhythm but, despite his efforts, he felt it coming. So he let the wave crash over him, he let the knot in his stomach burst out, anxiety filling up his lungs and unease crawling through his pores. He felt his chest tighten with every new intake of air, and the headache that crept in as his head filled with too many words but also not enough for him to regain control of himself. He welcomed that emptiness, and how he simultaneously felt full to the brim, as if his organs could burst at any time, because he knew deep down it would not last.

Eventually it died down, and as terrible as he felt afterwards for what seemed like an overreaction, he could not have ignored that gut feeling that shouted at him to never go back to that place. The little red and black business card, with the familiar lettering spelling The Red Room in bright, blood red letters, was enough to bring him back to that ugly place he was in only a few years ago. It wasn’t just the place itself – it was the feeling it conjured, helplessness and vulnerability harshly blended together to form some of his ugliest memories. It brought him back to the kid he used to be, the one who worked day and night just to get his money stolen from the meager place he called his bedroom back then, the one who smiled at sleazy businessmen who looked at him like a piece of meat. It brought the hopelessness back to him, that overwhelming feeling that this was it, this was his life and there was nothing else for him out there.

Rationally, he’d been in much more dangerous situations since he’d joined the gang – and had done things he wouldn’t have allowed himself to think about just a few years back. But there was a special kind of safety that had been offered to him as he’d joined in, the kind that didn’t come from the four walls he lived inside of or the gun he carried around with him, but from the people he’d surrounded himself with. It was the fridge that was never empty, and those who left messages on it saying they were out of milk. It was the people who knocked on his door in the morning to see if he was awake, and the ones who told him about their day without him asking. It was the idea that he was allowed to say no, and that his words were heard and respected and weighed upon, and that they generated discussions, nor orders. It was something he hadn’t had for a long time – even longer than he’d spent since he’d run away from home.

Some time after he regained himself, he heard a knock on the door.

“I hope I’m not bothering you,” Seokjin said softly as he stepped inside the room after Jimin had told him to come in.

Jimin sat up on the bed to make space for the other man.

“Jungkook explained,” Seokjin continued while smoothing out Jimin’s hair in a soothing but almost mechanical manner. “I’m sorry, we should have guessed from your reaction. I don’t want to give anyone excuses, because I do believe we’re at fault for not being more patient here, but since neither him nor you have ever told us the name of that place, we never made the connection, you know? In any case, please know none of us meant to hurt you.”

“It’s alright,” Jimin replied, letting the other man tuck his hair behind his ears and caress his cheek softly.

Jimin always struggled with reconciling the Seokjin he knew – the responsible, caring, protective and attentive person he’d grown close to – with the man’s past. He couldn’t imagine that growing up in this lifestyle as Seokjin had would have forged him such a character, he would have thought it would have made him harder, much more mission-focused and yet he might be the least out of all of them to be willing to place their lives after their missions. But then Jimin realized that he didn’t come from an affectionate background either – yet he was never short of love to give to his members. And a second later, he came to the realization that maybe it was why Seokjin had left his family behind and decided to remove himself from any fight or confrontation, choosing instead to look over them. Maybe he cared too much to make rational, detached decisions in situations where those he loved were in danger, so he’d decided to ensure that they were safe, and healthy, and cared for, and that they never had to worry about scheduling, or buying supplies, or finding places to heal their wounds and their sorrows that were both secure and discreet. And maybe that thought, however hypothetical it was, made Jimin’s heart burst with love for the man in front of him, traces of his previous anguish almost completely erased from his body and mind.   

“I just…” he continued, after getting lost in his thoughts for a few minutes. “I don’t want to be a burden on you guys, I really don’t. But at the same time, I cannot…”

He stopped, not finding the right words to express himself without conjuring back the suffering and the anxiety.

“We’ll find a way,” Seokjin said soothingly after Jimin stayed silent for a minute. “Like we always do.”

Jimin gladly let himself be pulled into a quick hug, and after reassuring his friend a million and one times he would be okay, he was alone again.

He stayed sat up in the same position for a while, staring outside of the window that overlooked his bed. He didn’t know how long he remained this way, buried deep in his thoughts in a way that, for once, was neither anxiety-ridden nor painful. Long enough to watch the sky change colors, bright blues turning into pastel pinks, and he knew the stars would soon start peaking out when someone knocked twice on his bedroom door, first shyly than with a confidence that was almost familiar.

He didn’t bother turning around as he shouted to come in, knowing already who to expect – as caring as the others could be, it was expected of Taehyung to drop by sooner or later after Jimin felt unwell in any way. Yet, it was very unlike Taehyung to close the door behind him and remain silent, as if asking for permission again to move further in and to speak. In fact, had it been Taehyung, Jimin would have been tackled to his bed at least thirty seconds ago into an uninvited but very much welcomed cuddle.

Thus, Jimin turned around to find, instead of his tall and dorky best friend, a scrawny-looking Yoongi standing by the closed door as if he had to be welcomed to step in – like vampires, Jimin thought – his posture as apologetic as he’d ever seen him before.

“Oh,” Jimin only said.

He looks smaller without layers, Jimin thought as he glanced over the man once more. An odd thought given he must have definitely seen Yoongi wearing a thin short-sleeved shirt before. There was something about the man’s posture however that changed the way Jimin perceived him, something much less nonchalant than what he was used to. Yet, he couldn’t tell if this was new on Yoongi, or if he just hadn’t paid attention before.

“I hope I’m not… bothering you,” Yoongi said slowly in that low tone of his, that was both in complete contradiction with and perfectly matched his soft and round features.

“You’re not,” Jimin replied. “It’s just… Frankly, I was expecting Taehyung.”

The other grimaced in a way that was oddly endearing.

“He will probably sneak in later, but Seokjin said we should leave you alone for a bit,” he said. He stopped for a few seconds before speaking again. “Now you may have noticed I am not always the best at following orders…”

“That I have,” Jimin giggled.

They were silent for a few more seconds before he gestured the other man to come closer.

“Come here,” he said softly, scooting over to the left to leave space for Yoongi to sit next to him, right where Seokjin had been earlier.

And despite the similar setting, the difference in atmosphere was visible. They were sitting close to one another, in a way that should feel somewhat intimate, but the distance could be felt in the air, turning into an awkwardness that lingered on Jimin’s skin.

“I just came to apologize,” Yoongi said, and he was staring at the window, right where Jimin’s gaze had been only a few minutes ago. “I spoke too fast and too harshly and it was inconsiderate of me.”

Jimin had expected these words to come out of his mouth since he’d seen the other man right by the door, yet they still felt nice to hear. Just plain old nice, and it was enough.

“Apologies accepted,” Jimin replied, just as simply.

“I’m trying to be less of… that, with you,” Yoongi continued, but he still was not looking towards Jimin and the boy wasn’t sure exactly what he meant by that.

“What do you mean?”

Yoongi stayed silent for a minute, his eyes seemingly focused on the waxing crescent moon that reflected in his dark eyes, as they sat in growing darkness, the sky’s pinks turning into deep purples.

“Less of an asshole, I guess,” he finally spoke again.

“You and I not being close does not make you an asshole,” Jimin said, and he believed it, he really did.

He did not want anyone, much less Yoongi himself, to believe that, as much as their interactions had been more conflictual than anything else recently, it was due to anything other than the complete lack of communication between them. It was difficult to build a relationship on emptiness.

“Hmm,” Yoongi replied vaguely, turning away from the window and towards Jimin for the first time. “It is odd, though.”

Was it? Jimin was starting to understand that the lack of closeness between them had been the result of a long series of occurrences where they just did not function in the same way – and yet, they had both expected the other to conform to their own expectations. He did not know how Yoongi functioned exactly – but he understood the situation was just as similar on Yoongi’s side. And thus he could not continue pretending like the distance that had settled between them was only on the other man’s part.  

“Did Seokjin ask you to apologize?” Jimin said, giggling to himself because he enjoyed the tiny bit of power he had over this conservation.

“No, he did not,” Yoongi replied defensively, glaring at him for a second but it was playful. “But when Jungkook explained, I… I realized I never really heard that story. Your story. I mean, I know the gist of it, I remember the first time you walked in here.”

It was Jimin’s turn to grimace. He too had a clear memory of the first time Hoseok had brought him here, disheveled and miserable, feeling incredibly small around those unfamiliar faces that he knew nothing about, except that they all worked in Hoseok’s line of work. Which, frankly, was anything but reassuring.

“And because I do not know your story, I feel like I might have made a lot of assumptions about you,” Yoongi continued, his full attention turned to Jimin this time.

Yoongi’s eyes looked almost predatory to him, as he felt the two dark orbs glaze over his features. It wasn’t the first time he’d thought about them that way, but this time it was less about the man’s intentions and more about the way he focused deeply, intently onto Jimin. Yoongi’s tone was the same as always – low, and slow, and sometimes it was a bit hard to decipher his words – but his eyes were expectant, and maybe even a little hopeful.

And something in them obliged – no, encouraged – Jimin to comply.

And so, he told his story – bits of it, whatever he felt like sharing. He told it in no logical order whatsoever, just letting the words flow out of his mouth in waves, not entirely sure if all – or any – of it made sense. Yoongi listened, patiently, without saying a word nor asking questions. They were a lot of questions to be asked, Jimin was aware he was not the best storyteller at that moment, leaving huge holes in places he did not wish to go back to and making rich, complex stories turn into incomplete ones. But he was glad Yoongi was letting these holes exist – because that was where Jimin’s insecurities lied and he wanted to keep those to himself, for now at least.

At some point, Jimin felt his eyes prickle with tears. It did not show in his voice, as it was a mere physical reaction to his body going back to the person he used to be in all of these stories, and he did not feel sad nor upset. The tears did not spill either, yet Yoongi must have spotted them because he reached out to him, his hand swiftly but gently seizing Jimin’s smaller one. His thumb started to trace circles over the boy’s skin, in a manner that seemed natural and instinctive, yet not once had Yoongi’s eyes left Jimin’s face.

Jimin, however, had stopped talking mid-sentence, gasping a little bit at the unfamiliar gesture. It felt awkward, truly, but not because it felt bad. The simple gesture just felt much more intimate than they’d ever been before – it was Yoongi closing the distance for the first time, physically but not just. It felt more intimate than the time the older man had stepped into his room in the middle of the night, unannounced, and slept next to him. Because this time they were interacting together, not just existing in the same space.

“Is this okay?” Yoongi asked because of Jimin’s reaction, a flicker of doubt appearing in his pupils.

Jimin took a deep breath, looking at the other man’s hand that had turned still, waiting for his approval. It was awkward, but soothing, he decided.

“No, it’s fine,” he said, and went back to his story immediately.

Jimin’s words became more incoherent at this point, him roughly recalling stories that had no connections whatsoever to one another. He wasn’t sure if he was still talking to Yoongi, or to himself – letting things out that he had kept in and forgotten about for a long time. The other man was still listening however, helping him finish sentences where Jimin seemed to be struggling. Eventually Jimin just stopped. There was no clear ending, the words just stopped coming and they both sat in silence, Yoongi staring at Jimin and Jimin staring at the moon. The room was now completely dark, only the light coming out of the natural satellite allowing them to distinguish each other.

“Thank you,” Yoongi whispered eventually.

Jimin felt exhausted, and he wanted to sleep but he also felt content. He felt as if a lot of energy had been sucked out of him – but more bad than good. Spring cleaning, he thought, is always useful.

“I have a question,” Jimin said shyly after a few minutes of peaceful silence, his hand still sitting warmly inside Yoongi’s now still one.

“Go ahead,” Yoongi said, his eyes no longer fixated on him but looking vaguely outside the window.

“Will you ever… tell me your story too?” Jimin whispered, because it was a heavy question.

If Yoongi didn’t know a lot about Jimin’s past before this evening, Jimin’s knowledge of Yoongi’s was… minuscule. Almost insignificant in comparison. And Jimin was not stupid nor naïve – he knew the man had made it that way, wrapped himself in as much secrecy as he could over the years, voluntarily shutting himself out from others.

“Maybe,” Yoongi sighed. “Probably. All in due time.”

Silence settled between them again for a minute, but Yoongi was the first one to break it this time.

“I do owe you a little part of it at least,” he said. “Since it will come up soon enough, anyway.”

“What’s that?” Jimin replied.

He was curious, but he understood it was a territory he had to tread on carefully. After all, Yoongi had given him the same favor just now.

“The man at the hangar,” Yoongi said, his eyes focusing back on Jimin and they were serious this time, something unsettling that the boy could not quite identify appearing inside of them. “The one you recognized.”

“I take it you know who he is?” Jimin asked carefully.

Yoongi laughed quietly, and it sounded both sarcastic and sad.

“That I do,” he said, pausing for a second. “His name is Moon Seojun.”

 

 

“Happy birthday to you, happy birthday to you!”

Yoongi propped up from the couch he was slouching on. A cake, way too big for the two of them, with a big candle that said ‘16’ standing at the center, was approaching him and for him, this was a vision out of a movie.

“You’re alright, kitten?”

Yoongi had been eyeing the cake in awe for a whole minute, mouth agape, and he knew it must have looked comical from the other man’s point of view, but this was enough to get him a little choked up.

“Seojun, you shouldn’t have,” he whispered, his eyes still not leaving the cake.

“It’s just a cake, Yoongi,” the other laughed, but he was not mocking him.

“I’ve never celebrated my birthday before,” Yoongi pouted.

“Make a wish,” Seojun said, sitting next to him on the couch.

Yoongi closed his eyes. Life had changed now. He had a gun that he’d learned how to fire sitting somewhere in his bedroom, a small but cozy apartment that they lived into and money that they never seemed to run out of. There wasn’t much he could ask for – this was not an ideal lifestyle, they weren’t filthy rich and they put themselves in danger once in a while, when it was necessary, but that was much better than anything he could have hoped for when he’d run away from home all those years ago.

So Yoongi just briefly wished for the both of them to stay healthy and alive for as long as they could and to not run into too much trouble. He opened his eyes and blew the candles out. Next to him, Seojun clapped.

“I don’t really have a sweet tooth,” the man said, still reaching for one of the strawberries lying on the cake. “But I know you do. This is all yours, kitten.”

“All mine?” Yoongi laughed. “This cake is huge! This will last for days.”

“Good, then neither of us has to bother with groceries.”

Yoongi made a mental note that Seojun was turning twenty in two months, and he should remember to give him something. Anything, really. He would have given him the world if he could but alas, that didn’t come without consequences.

“Thank you,” Yoongi whispered.

“For the cake?” Seojun replied, already on his second slice of cake despite ‘not having a sweet tooth’.

“No,” Yoongi replied, but he was getting a little choked up again, so he just kept on eating silently.

For not letting him sleep outside, alone and vulnerable. For not giving up on him even when he was rude, distrustful and unwilling to help him turn their lives around. For teaching him how to defend himself and who to trust and be wary of. For teaching him what friendship, then family was supposed to be.

They didn’t have much but, for the first time in what felt like forever, Yoongi was no longer alone nor lonely.

Chapter Text

The park hadn’t changed one bit since the last time he’d came. Jimin could still spot the same lake filled with little armies of ducks following each other around and swans leisurely sat on the side of the water. He’d used to come here often when he’d first joined the gang two years prior and it had felt all too overwhelming. There was the same playground with new children swaying off the same old swing and sliding off the same rusty slides. He looked at them from a distance, and he looked at the golden retriever rolling around in the freshly cut grass and the small chihuahua who sprung off as soon as its owner released it from his leash. He felt perfectly content aimlessly watching people living their lives, even though part of his mind was still stuck at home. He’d felt like he needed some space and had decided to sneak up discreetly to avoid worrying anyone – which, he realized in retrospect, would have probably done the exact opposite, but he was almost certain Seokjin had spotted him leaving and yet hadn’t tried to stop him.

The house felt stuffed. It was overflowing with too many actions and so little words. He could tell the others were busy trying to compensate for Jimin not partaking in the Red Room mission. He wouldn’t let himself feel guilty about it, but despite how the members tried to keep him out the loop, he could not pretend he couldn’t see how agitated it made them to have to change a well thought out plan last minute. At the same time, the results of Jimin and Taehyung’s previous mission were still hanging in the air. There had been no further discussions about it since they’d first come back – none that Jimin had been a part of at the very least which was… unusual. Everything went as always in the house, but there were unspoken words, elephants in the room that threatened to turn into conflict at any time.  Jimin found it difficult at times to stay around and pretend he couldn’t see it happening.  

That night where they’d talked for hours in Jimin’s room, Yoongi had remained vague about his past, and the man he had identified earlier – Moon Seojun, he had said – as if he wanted Jimin to know, but he himself didn’t know exactly which line not to cross when discussing his own life. Moon Seojun, as Jimin had understood, was someone from Yoongi’s life before the gang. More than that, he was someone Yoongi trusted. Maybe too much so, which ultimately made him a liability. Trusting anyone outside of your own members was always a risk. Jimin had even been taught when he’d joined to doubt anyone’s intentions, and to keep a close eye on those who called themselves their allies – everyone had their own motive, ultimately.

“Seojun was never part of anything – no gang, no alliances, nothing,” Yoongi had explained that night, while they were still sitting in the dark, Jimin’s fingers still lazily lingering inside the other man’s hand. “Through all the time we’ve spent together, he never changed one bit. The only team he’d ever had was me - we made deals with people we worked with because we had to, and then that was it. We owed them nothing afterwards. It was an easy way to live at first, although you do end up making enemies despite yourself – no one will believe in your neutrality. You’re either with someone or you’re against them in this lifestyle – as you know.”

“But what makes you think he would be on our side now?” Jimin had asked. “Even though you two know each other, I assume you haven’t been in contact in… a while. As you were surprised I’d even crossed his path before.”

“He’s not on our side,” Yoongi had replied simply. “But he’s not on our enemies’ either. Every job he does is for himself, he’s just making transactions with others.”

“And what if his job this time around is to take me out?” Jimin had then asked. It was nothing but speculations – and sometimes it surprised him too, how unalarmed he was about the possibility of someone being out to murder him.

“Why would he be?” Yoongi had said. “You may not see it this way, but to other gangs you’re a urban legend, Jimin. People know we must have a snitch or two going around gathering information for us, but they have no idea how and why. I know it may have seemed like we were in a dire situation – having you stay home for weeks – but this was just damage control, it needs to be done. We’re not protecting you here – not yet at least, hopefully not ever. We’re protecting the mere concept of you. The day that the actual knowledge of your existence goes out into the world – then you’ll be in real danger.”

“But until then you’ve been doing damage control by eliminating the potential threats, right?”

“More or less,” yoongi had replied, nodding absentmindedly.

“Then wouldn’t it make sense to… do the same even in this case?” Jimin had then continued as he’d seen the other man flinching despite the obscurity. “I’m just trying to understand. It’s not my place to make these decisions anyway.”

Yoongi had sighed deeply.

“Personal feelings aside…” Yoongi had started in a tone that lead to believe that personal feelings were still involved. “This might cause more harm than good. He may not be an ally to anyone, but he’s well-known by a lot of people. He managed to build himself a reputation as the handy man you can count on when you need any outside help. His death would not go unnoticed, simple as that. The reason he has survived so long while remaining neutral is because he’s skilled and useful. Everyone wants to keep him around, because they might need him sooner or later. If someone murdered him…”

Yoongi had trailed off a bit, and while his tone remained somewhat even, the pale light of the moon betrayed his facial expression just enough that Jimin could tell personal feelings were definitely involved.

“If someone was to murder him,” he’d started again, “others could take it as a threat or a warning.”

Jimin had nodded pensively, taking it all in for a minute.

“Then if you have it all figured out, why are you and Hoseok keeping this a secret?”

“Joon doesn’t see things in the same light,” the black-haired boy had replied, his eyes searching for something in the wide star-filled sky. “He knows him, you know. Not personally, I mean, but he knows who Seojun is.”

Yoongi had paused again for a minute, his eyes finally stopping on something in the darkness. The stars were still unaligned, but he seemed to have given attention to each and every one of them before choosing which one would give him strength. 

“When Seojun and I… parted ways, I became a different person. I’d been alone before we met, and then solitude had meant survival. Except this time around, I had gained new skills to defend myself, and survival no longer felt like enough. In a short space of time, I became… ruthless, to say the least. I didn’t expect the sudden surge of loneliness, and I didn’t know how to deal with it. Lonely was not a word in my vocabulary before I met Seojun – you don’t experience loneliness when being alone has always been your version of normal. Once he wasn’t there though, I became purposeless and unable to trust anyone all at once. Looking back, I realize that maybe I was never cut out for aloneness – which is odd, given that I’ve spent most of my life forcibly alone – but I need someone to pace me.”

It was odd indeed, how Jimin had always expected the opposite of him – in the gang, Min Yoongi had seemed to him as someone who needed the most space. But once again, he realized that this was just him projecting his own expectations onto someone that, until recently, felt like only one step further than a stranger.

“That’s the person I was when I met Namjoon,” Yoongi continued. “A lonely, vengeful, unforgiving, miserable creature who was blindingly ran by his own anger. The things I told Joon about my past then… they weren’t untrue, but they were tinted by my own feelings at the time. I see things differently now – with time, I’ve come to accept that there was a lot I didn’t understand. But… Joonie and I simply don’t see eye to eye on this.”

Jimin nodded compassionately, his fingers curling a little tighter around the other man’s in a way that he hoped was comforting. There was a lot that remained unsaid, a lot of blanks left to fill – but this was already more than Jimin could have asked for and so he let it be.

“But surely… you can’t keep this a secret forever?” He’d spoken again after a few minutes of silence. “It will come up soon enough.”

“Sure, it will,” Yoongi had said, “but I need more time to think.”

 

Jimin was taken out of his reverie by his phone ringing furiously in his pocket. The sun had not started setting yet, but soon it would and most of the children - and dogs - had gone home.

“Hello?”

A phone call from Jungkook was a rare enough occasion that Jimin was truly intrigued, as well as slightly scared. On most days, he was lucky if the boy even read his texts, never mind answering them.

“Hey… um, I hope I’m not bothering you,” Jungkook said hesitantly, “but could you… come home as soon as possible? Please?”

“Is something wrong?” Jimin asked, concerned by Jungkook’s low tone, as if the boy was trying to be as discreet as he could, and then he noticed. “Hey, what’s with all the noise behind you? Are you home?”

“Um… listen, there’s uh… a conflict right now,” Jungkook said, still in that whispery tone. “From the things Yoongi said I suppose you’re aware of what sparked it. I don’t expect you to walk in and magically solve it because it seems quite… personal but I think it would be better if everyone was there right now.”

Jimin went home as fast as he could. The park was only a five-minute walk away from where they lived, but it felt like a lifetime this time around. If it was indeed what he thought, he wanted to be there, even though he knew his presence would not make a single difference. Still, he cared too much about his friends not to worry.

As he opened the front door hurriedly, he was greeted by the well expected sight of Namjoon and Yoongi standing on opposite sides in the living room. What struck him instantly however was how tense the atmosphere was. It was almost palpable, the animosity heavy in the air as he’d barely taken one step inside. No one even acknowledged his presence as he closed the door behind him, everyone’s attention clearly occupied somewhere else.

Jimin scanned the room quickly. Hoseok was standing next to Yoongi almost protectively, while next to Namjoon was Seokjin – both looking back and forth between each other and the two men with concerned looks. They were visibly tense, but there was no hostility in their expressions – only worry, which told Jimin that they were not involved in whatever conflict had broken out but simple moderators. They looked however, if anything, completely overtaken by the events. Taehyung and Jungkook seemed to have found refuge in the hallway that led to the bedrooms, their heads barely peeking out into the living room as they watched the scene unfold with worried eyes.

It was Yoongi that Jimin heard first, although the conversation had clearly started long before his arrival.

“…I’m sorry, but I would expect you to trust me given how long we’ve known each other,” the shorter, black-haired man said, not shouting but visibly angered.

“I don’t see why I should risk jeopardizing the entire gang out of trust,” Namjoon replied, and there was none of the man’s usual patience in his tone nor in his posture. “I can’t make decisions purely on personal feelings, and neither should you!”

This is going much worse than I thought, Jimin thought. There was venom in their leader’s words, a virulence that, in Jimin’s ears, should not belong in the man’s voice. He understood what Yoongi had meant when he’d said they could not see eye to eye on this – this was not new. This was an old conversation, one that had surely been left aside to rot for years, and old wounds were being savagely reopened in front of everyone’s eyes. As the conversation continued, Jimin understood that all rational thoughts were being left behind as the animosity took over.

“You know this is bigger than this, Joon,” Yoongi snarled. “You treat this as if this is just a temper tantrum I’m throwing.”

“Oh, is it not?” Namjoon scoffed contemptuously. “Is that why you decided to keep this away from me like a child? And you’re the one talking about trust.”

Jimin felt tears slowly creep up inside his eyes. It was an awfully cruel reaction from a man he knew to be kind and composed, especially when discussing the possible murder of one of Yoongi’s… friends? Jimin admitted that despite it all he did not know much. He wondered how much had been said before Jungkook had felt the need to call him for them to be at each other’s throat, spewing words that they would never have said otherwise, letting emotions take the better of them. He wanted to shake them up, tell them they were being ridiculously, tell them this was not how coworkers, friends, brothers solved conflict. He wanted to run up to them and shout at them that this was not the way to protect one another, and yet his feet stubbornly remained planted into the ground, paralyzing him into a helpless spectator.

“You’re being cruel,” Yoongi replied and his tone turned even lower than usual, “you’re being unjustly cruel and letting past emotions blind you on this decision when you know very well I’m right.”

“Oh, I’m the one who’s blinded? Why do you insist on defending someone who abandoned you overnight?”

“Namjoon, that’s enough,” Seokjin intervened, his voice filled with frustration, but he did not seem to hear him.

“You’re the one looking at the past through rose-tinted glasses and misplaced nostalgia because it’s your only way of coping with the idea that the one person who promised you the world and who was supposed to protect you still betrayed you and disappeared without a word.”

The room went silent, and unbearably cold as his words weighed in the air, and Jimin could see instant regret on Namjoon’s face, the knowledge that he had crossed a line painted over his traits. Yoongi, however, would look almost comical had the situation been different. It was as if the rage that was animating him just a few seconds ago had been drained out of him. He was standing there, his face between stunned and horrified. The few seconds of silence that followed their leader’s words felt heavy on Jimin’s spine, and it was Yoongi that spoke again, all determination and anger vanished in his voice.

“Well,” he said, taking a few steps back protectively, “enough has been said.”

Before anyone else managed to take a grip of the situation, he walked past Jimin, who hadn’t moved further into the room since he’d walked in and disappeared through the front door. At first, it seemed as if no one was going to chase after him, but before he could think it through, Jimin found himself crossing the doorstep again. He vaguely heard someone calling after him – most likely Seokjin – but he didn’t turn around. He could feel his phone ringing furiously in his pocket less than a minute after he’d walked past the door – but he didn’t bother checking it. He was too busy trying to catch up to Yoongi’s fast pace.

At first, he followed him at a distance, no thought being paid to what had motivated him to do this. The sun was slowly setting, the sky painted in delicate hues of pink announcing the upcoming obscurity. Jimin’s eyes did not leave the other man for one second. It was only when Yoongi turned into a busy avenue that Jimin started running, apologizing hurriedly to the few people he accidentally pushed aside.

“Yoongi,” he shouted, almost out of breath as he reached the other man’s level and grabbed his shoulder. “Yoongi, wait, it’s me! Jimin!”

Yoongi turned around and stopped in the middle of the avenue to look at him, prompting a few complaints from passersby in a hurry.

“What are you doing here?” he said, with misplaced concern as if he should be the one worrying in this situation. “Jimin, go back home. You’re not involved in this.”

“I’m not leaving,” Jimin said stubbornly.

“You don’t even know where I’m going,” Yoongi said.

Jimin shrugged childishly. He’d made up his mind.

The other man rolled his eyes dramatically before turning around and continued on his way, but he did not complain when Jimin joined him. They walked in silence for roughly half an hour before Yoongi came to a stop in from of a small apartment building. He pressed down the code knowingly and held the massive front door to let Jimin in. As soon as they were inside, he sprinted up the stairs as Jimin struggled to keep up with his pace, up to what he counted to be the third floor. Yoongi pulled out a key out of his pocket, and swiftly opened the door to the last apartment at the end of the narrow corridor they’d just crossed.

“This is a hideout where Joon, Hoseok and I come to occasionally after missions, either because we need rest or because we have more work to do before we can go home,” Yoongi explained as soon as Jimin closed the door behind him.

Jimin vaguely remembered Hoseok mentioning such a place here and there. It was a simple, modest apartment clearly made for only one person. There was a small open kitchen on the side of the main room, which was otherwise furnished with nothing more than a sofa bed and a small television. From the front door where he was still standing, he could spot a bedroom, a bathroom and… that was it.

As Jimin observed the apartment, Yoongi took off his coat, carefully removing his gun from his inner pocket before throwing it over the sofa.

“Why did you follow me?” he asked tiredly as he sat down next to his coat.

Jimin wasn’t sure why either. He’d walked out of the door without thinking, and something had compelled him to keep going. He felt out of place all of a sudden, realizing Yoongi had come here to find peace and quietness. It had not completely dawned on him yet how much of a messy situation this was, yet he felt a little dizzy trying to organize his thoughts. But then he looked up, and as his gaze crossed Yoongi’s weary but expectant eyes, he felt churning in his stomach, but not unpleasantly so, and he could just barely feel his heart beat just a tad faster in his rib cage, only just noticeably so.

And suddenly he knew the answer. It came to him as an evidence, as if it had been staring him in the face. But it was the wrong answer – not just now, in this moment, but also in any scenario where they had and would end up alone, only the two of them. So instead of saying it out loud, he let his truth sink deep inside of himself and came up with the answer closest to it.

“I just didn’t want you to be alone again.”

 

Chapter Text

Jimin lied down on the unfamiliar bed, unmotivated to get up. Yoongi had insisted the night before for the younger man to take the bedroom while he used the sofa in the living room. Jimin had protested, but to no avail, the older boy had had his mind made up. Yoongi had looked so worn out that Jimin had given up in the end, doing whatever he was told. He’d had a short night, belatedly feeling uneasy with his impulsive choice of following him there. They’d barely talked the night before, Jimin leaving the other man space as he understood this was an unplanned, uneasy situation. He’d seen the two friends argue before, but it had never escalated like this. He knew Yoongi cared about Namjoon a lot, and vice versa. And while Jimin had a natural instinct of wanting to fix things and bring them back in order, he understood this was beyond his control. He could not interfere between the two, especially when he did not have same knowledge on the topic of argument as they did.

His phone buzzed on the nightstand. It had been buzzing all night, but he’d ignored them, letting the messages pile up. He looked at them for the first time.

 

Seokjin – 9:36 pm

where are you?

Seokjin – 10:12 pm

I wont tell Namjoon I promise

Seokjin – 11:42 pm

please jimin reply

if you don’t pick up at least send a text just so I know you’re alright

Seokjin – 1:46 am

You don’t have to say where you are just let me know you’re safe

Seokjin – 2:08 pm

I won’t even tell Taehyung if you don’t want me to. pinky promise

 

He felt bad for ignoring Seokjin. He was usually always keeping an eye on them, and Jimin knew he would be unable to fully take sides on this decision. Jimin also understood that he wasn’t only asking after him – he was his way to get to Yoongi as well.

 

Jimin – 7:39 am

i’m with yoongi

 

His phone buzzed again so fast it made him jump a little.

Seokjin – 7:40 am

Good please stay safe

Jimin – 7:41 am

we will

pinky promise

 

Jimin sighed, slowly rising up from the bed. He knew he had to come out of his cave at some point and face Yoongi, knowing that none of the things he could say or do would make things easier for the older boy and he was, essentially, intruding while the other had left to find peace. He sighed again, getting up to find something that would hopefully fit him in the small closet. Most of the clothes were obviously spare change for when his members stayed there unexpectedly, and he was just hoping he would find something that would fit. He’d slept in a pair of sweatpants that was slightly too wide for him that he knew belonged to Hoseok and hoped he could find something else for the day since he’d left without taking anything but his phone with him. After a few minutes, he spotted a plain black t-shirt and a simple pair of jeans that seemed like they could fit him. He put them on and headed for the living room, feeling nervous.

He opened the bedroom door to find Yoongi still asleep on the sofa. He’d heard the man pace back and forth until late at night and had assumed he’d had a rough night too, but it seemed sleep had found him early in the morning. Jimin knew it would be better to just get back into the room and wait for him to wake up, but something made him stay anyway.

Yoongi looked different asleep. Surely, there would have been a time during the few years he’d spent with the gang where he’d seen the other member asleep, but in that moment, he could not remember it for the life of him. Outwardly, the older boy was the same as always, but there was something changed about him that Jimin could not pinpoint. Something made him look vulnerable. Jimin never thought of any of his members as vulnerable – not even Jungkook, not since he’d joined in and had been trained by the others. But maybe it was because he was unused to seeing Yoongi loosen up in front of him to even be in this situation seemed odd. He would always keep this façade of certainty, unwavering in front of the others. Even the time when he’d sneaked into his bed, the man had disappeared long before Jimin had opened his eyes again, leaving him uncertain of how whether he’d dreamed it or not.

In that instant however, Jimin felt as if he was back to that night when they’d spent hours talking, plunged into the obscurity of his bedroom. For a brief second, he felt the same pleasant agitation in his stomach as he looked at the older boy as he had the previous night. He wanted to curse himself, as these were the wrong feelings to have in such a situation, but he did not have time to dwell on them as the other man started stirring in his sleep, as if on the brink of waking up.

Jimin quickly did a few steps into the room, looking away as if he had not been staring for the past two minutes. An uncomfortable silence fell over the room after they exchanged a quick hello, replacing the peaceful quietness from just a few minutes ago. Jimin stood awkwardly in the middle of the room, unsure of what he was supposed to do or say as Yoongi disappeared in the bedroom to change.

The younger man scanned the room for a few seconds, his eyes stopping on the kitchenette in the corner of the living room. Should he be making breakfast? But wouldn’t that be intrusive as well? He did not know what the proper etiquette for this kind of situation was. In fact, no one had ever taught him etiquette. His only example for etiquette was Seokjin on the rare occasions he’d seen the older man interact with anyone who did not belong in Bangtan, and even he often seemed out of line.

Before he had time to overthink the situation, Yoongi came out of the room, fully dressed and walked straight towards the door.

“Let’s go out,” the older man said.

“Go where?” Jimin said, dumbfounded but still obediently putting his shoes on. “We didn’t even have breakfast.”

“Exactly, there’s nothing to eat here.”

They walked for a while in silence again, but the soothing sound of the city slowly waking up made up for it. Jimin could hear cars driving past in the distance and birds tweeting away but the narrow streets they’d taken were completely empty. He followed Yoongi without asking questions, as he seemed to know where he was going. Eventually they reached the city’s small marina, a place he hadn’t been to in years. He’d loved to come here when he’d first joined the gang. He would sit on the many wooden benches and watch the water dance in slow, controlled motions in between the boats. He’d brought Jungkook here too once, as the younger boy had told him once he’d never seen a sea nor a river. It had been a long time however, and he was surprised to see how the small, almost bare dock had grown into a beautiful marina, and how the number of boats had tripled.

Yoongi stopped in front of one of the boats before entering. It served as a small but nicely decorated restaurant. Jimin did not have much time to admire it as Yoongi nodded to the waiter as if he’d been there before and crossed the main room to go outside, on the platform of the boat where there were also tables, fully set waiting for clients. Unlike the inside of the ship where a few people were already having breakfast, they were completely alone on the platform. They both looked at the sea pensively for a few minutes. Yoongi eventually broke the silence.  

“The more I have you around me, the more I think this life was not made for you,” the older man mumbled in his usual low tone.

Jimin tensed for a few seconds, his old insecurities of being perceived as weak despite all he’d endured in his short lifetime crawling up, but he decided to hear him out.

“Why is that?” he replied.

“I just don’t think that’s the life you’d want. Nor the life you deserve,” Yoongi said a little bit louder this time.

“Well,” Jimin started, touched but also confused by the sudden concern over his – admittedly unintended – life choices. “Isn’t that the case for all of us? Is that the life you would have wanted for yourself, had you grown up in a different environment? If you had encountered different people and had other options, surely you would have chosen something else too. That’s how I feel about myself, but not everyone gets to make these choices.”

He looked at the seagulls circling above them, some plunging down to the water in hopes to find a fish.

“Still, for me, this is the best I could have hoped for, given the circumstances in which I grew up. And sure, it is far from perfect and rosy – but there’s things I have now that I wouldn’t give away for the world.”

He was looking at Yoongi straight in the eyes now, and he only just realized then that he was holding the other man’s hand and squeezing it. He did not remember seizing it, nor knew why he had done so, but now that he had it, he was unwilling to let it go. He needed Yoongi to know. He could not find the strength to say the exact words out loud, as he was unsure if they even fit in their situation - not their physical location, nor the place they’d put themselves in since the previous night, but whatever relationship they’d built over a short period of time. He was not sure these words were allowed in that context, nor if they even made sense to himself just yet. But for some reason, he felt the need to let Yoongi know how much he cared about him in that instant – and that was the only safe way to do so.   

Under the soothing sound of the waves slowly caressing the sides of the boat, gently rocking it from left to right, he thought he heard Yoongi say “I’m glad to have you too” but he did not let his mind dwell on it for too long, although his heart was not immune to the other man’s words.

He untied his hand from Yoongi’s as the waiter walked towards them, ready to take their order. He let Yoongi choose for him too, distracted by the sound of his phone buzzing in his pocket.

 

Taehyung – 9:18 am

don’t forget you have a mission with me and jk at 11

 

“Shit,” he said once the waiter had left. “I’ll have to leave after breakfast.”

“Is something wrong?” Yoongi asked, visibly worried.

“No, I just forgot I had a mission planned today. I’ll come back afterwards.”

“You don’t have to,” Yoongi said after a few seconds.

“I will.”

 

Jimin popped a pill into his mouth discreetly as the 40-something-year old man in front of him was busy paying for their lunch. It should be enough to keep up appearances that he someone wanted this man anywhere near his own naked body in the next twenty minutes or so. He’d collected enough information during the meal – he could just leave now. Find an excuse and go home. But he knew this would not be professional, nor very smart of him. He needed to ensure he could come back to this man if he ever needed him in the future. More importantly, he had to entertain the man’s belief that he was someone else. That he was nothing more than a pretty boy who was here to do what he was told. He had never met this man before, but he already knew he would slip up some cash under the bedsheets after it was all over – as they all thought that was what he was after. At least they were not stupid enough to believe he slept with them because he wanted to.

He was on his fifth fake moan when a familiar thought crossed his mind. He always counted, as meticulous as he always was in every task he undertook. Too often, and it sounded unnatural. Not often enough, and they started asking questions. He was on his sixth when he tried to fight the thought, knowing that it would leave him with the same sense of emptiness in his chest as it always did, and his seventh when he realized it was hopeless.

As he lied on the bed of a familiar hotel room, a man he barely remembered the name of going down on him, he wondered once again what it would feel like to have sex with someone he genuinely cared about. For him, sex was numbness. It was something he did with disinterest, as if he was in charge of his own body but still lent it to someone else for an hour or so, while his mind went somewhere else. It wasn’t that he lacked in sensation or desire, and the pills were strong enough that sex was not, purely on a physical level at least, completely unpleasant. But there was something about the setting where it always took place. There was something about the way he despised the men he slept with for the way they considered him, as someone who they believed they were taking advantage of, and about the fact that he was too good a liar to let his true feelings show for even one brief second. There was something about how it felt staged – and it always was. His best friend had gone into the same room an hour earlier, had hidden cameras and microphones all over the place. He’d paid for the room in advance and bribed the receptionist, so she wouldn’t say a word when someone else walked in using the same key. There was nothing spontaneous, nothing enticing in this scenario. So beside himself, sex with anyone but himself had grown into something unexciting. Not repulsive per say, but so dull it was almost off-putting.

He was on his nineteenth moan when he saw it, and it took him out of his long-winded reverie and back to the present in a second. On the ceiling, right above the bed, almost hidden by the hem of the heavy curtains, was a camera. It was small, not unlike the ones Taehyung used. But he knew instinctively this was not Taehyung’s doing. His friend would not have put this here – it was too obvious, staring him right in the face.

He wanted to do something to signal to Taehyung that something was wrong. But his mind went blank as he tried to come up with a sign discreet enough for the other man not to notice.

A chilling thought came to him. He knew if this man had done anything out of line since the second they’d walked in, either Jungkook or Taehyung would have barged in and shot a bullet straight through his head, no questions asked. Nothing assured him that whoever had put the camera there would not do the same to him if he did not behave as they expected him too.  

He was trapped.