On the day Seokjin’s life changed drastically and irreparably, he endured a particularly painful luncheon with his father.
Seokjin, for the most part, considered himself to be a respectful and obedient son. As the firstborn, he shouldered a great deal of responsibility to be successful and to be something his father could brag about to his coworkers. He made sure that his youth was filled with studying, good grades, extra circular activities, learning to play an instrument, and a hefty stack of college acceptance letters by the time he was seventeen.
He was, to the best of his ability, the perfect son.
But his father was a particularly hard man to please, and nothing Seokjin had ever done felt like enough. To say his father was overly critical was an understatement. Approval was rarely given, and compliments almost never. Seokjin couldn’t actually remember the last time his father had said he was proud of him, or even the last time he’d been told something positive. And the pressure, at least in his teens, had driven Seokjin almost crazy.
Seokjin had an ulcer by sixteen, hair falling out by seventeen, and by eighteen he went away to college to save himself more than anything else.
And college had been like a haven to him. Classes has been unbelievably hard, and his internship had taken all of his spare time. But he’d only had see his father on the weekends, he’d cultivated important friendships, and for once in his life, he’d gotten to do exactly what he wanted.
Becoming an adult, short of having served his military requirement, had freed Seokjin and unburdened him.
Still, when his father called, Seokjin went.
It was something he didn’t think he’d ever overcome, or how he felt like a child sitting across from the man, listening to his criticisms.
“--could have been something special. Wasted opportunity, that’s what you are.”
Seokjin tapped a finger gently against the condensation on his water glass. The sun felt warm and comforting on his skin, and though he’d never say it to his father, he was glad that they’d been seated on the terrace and not in the cramped restaurant. The outdoor table afforded him a wonderful view of the cityscape around them, full of activity and life.
“--paying attention, Seokjin?”
Seokjin straightened up. “Yes, of course.” He hadn’t seen his father in nearly two weeks, a decent stretch if Seokjin was being honest. But it probably meant his father had little patience with whatever he wanted to say, and less time to sit waiting around for Seokjin’s full attention.
“Oh?” his father asked, a gray eyebrow raised.
“I believe you were lamenting on my poor career choices,” Seokjin told him, a little too flippantly if the way his father’s eyes narrowed, meant anything.
“Watch yourself,” his father snapped, then drank from his own glass of water.
Seokjin sighed and sank a little in his seat. “I’m a doctor, dad. I don’t understand why you’re so continuously upset.”
More than being a doctor, he was a young one at that. He’d graduated high school at seventeen, had a bachelor’s degree by twenty, and started his residency six months after that. At twenty-four Seokjin didn’t think it was presumptuous or prideful to say he was above the curve, and far ahead of his peers. He’d worked hard for what he’d achieved, and he’d achieved a lot.
“It’s not your career I take issue with,” his father replied right away. “It’s what you’re choosing to do with that medical license of yours.”
Of course it was. Seokjin had known that from the start. He’d known it since before he’d finished his residency program and been a full-fledged doctor. His father had absolutely expected him to go on to bigger, brighter things, and not wallow in obscurity--if treating the poor and financially disadvantaged was what he meant.
“Shutting yourself up in that thing you call a clinic.”
Seokjin wanted to roll his eyes, but held back. And instead he replied respectfully, “I’m very proud of where I am in my profession, dad. I’m proud of how I’ve gotten my practice up and running, and of the people I have supporting me.”
“The three room shack you call your practice. It’s lunacy, Seokjin. You could be established at the best hospital in Seoul. But look where you are instead.”
Seokjin saw their waitress heading towards their table, a wide tray with their lunch perched on top.
“It’s not about the prestige for me,” Seokjin said quickly, tightlipped. “It’s not about the money, either.” It was about helping people who needed it. It was about doing his absolute best to be a good human being, and giving where he could, and saving lives if at all possible. And it didn’t feel like that was something his father was ever going to understand, let alone accept.
His father sighed as the food was put down in front of them. “All that time spent training meticulously under Doctor Lee. All those years wasted honing a specialty.”
Seokjin looked down at the food, observing its perfect presentation and likely delicious taste. His father was already cutting into his slab of beef when Seokjin posed, “What do you think this meal will cost you?”
His father’s hand froze, knife in hand. “What?”
“I’m going to assume that you’ll use your work expense card to pay for this meal. You won’t pay specifically, but in general terms, this meal is going to be expensive, correct?”
His father, who’d always been one to brag about the good things he could afford, gave a hearty nod. His chest puffed a little as he said, “You should understand, Seokjin, what you receive is reflective of what you’re willing to give in exchange. Fine dinning doesn’t come cheap.”
Once more, Seokjin eyed the beef. When he’d been young, and living with his father, they’d enjoyed a hearty meal of premium beef at least once a week, and certainly eaten well the other days. Now that he was on his own, most nights he ate ramen. He could have spent his spare money on better food, but anything he didn’t put into his household expenses, he could put back into his practice. And Seokjin was very aware of how important the first few years were going to be.
“My point,” Seokjin said, picking up his own steak knife, “is that anyone who can afford to eat here, can afford the best medical care possible. Look around, these are the people who can go to the private hospital of their choice and receive the best care South Korea can provide.”
His father gave a sound of agreement. “And no doubt these are highly educated, dedicated and hard-working people. Don’t they deserve to be medically cared for?”
“Of course,” Seokjin agreed, “I believe anyone and everyone deserves dedicated medical care. However, most of these people are a reflection of their circumstances. The people who can afford to eat here, at least the majority of them I’d wager, were born into families with educated parents. They mostly likely came from homes that valued and prized education, as well. And most certainly had money. There may be a few exceptions, but with a winning combination of being born in the city, into affluent families, and with all the opportunities in the world, the people who can go to these private hospitals, can do so because of circumstance.”
“Please,” his father sighed out, “don’t pretend that only the rich can afford preventative or lifesaving health care.”
“Their chances of being diagnosed and treated are much higher than anyone who makes less in a week than what this meal will cost us here and now.”
Again, his father gave a disappointed sigh. “Five years of preferential treatment from Doctor Lee, specialty training and promises, and you throw it all away to be piteous and charitable.”
Seokjin risked a smile. “I told you, I’m not a doctor for the recognition or the money. I only want to save lives, and by not working in the fancy hospital that you think I should be at, I get to see a clientele that desperately needs me. I get to provide for them low cost preventative care, and I am going to save lives, dad. I’m going to save lives that would be overlooked by people who have the mindset about the poor that you do.”
Seokjin startled and visibly flinched as his father’s heavy hand came down on the table, rattling the silverware, plates, and glasses. Around them people looked and Seokjin felt his face heat.
“For god sakes, Seokjin,” his father hissed at him, “you could have been the best oncologist of your generation. You could have worked with the newest equipment, learned the latest techniques, made a great deal of money, and been the center of medical journals for decades. You could have had it all.”
“I do,” Seokjin challenged back, feeling his stomach flop painfully, his appetite gone. “I get work alongside people who care more about our patients than anything else, in a relaxed environment, catching diseases before they progress too far to be stopped. My patients can’t get to their local hospitals for frequent screenings, dad, and they can’t afford them, either. But they can come to me and I can do something for them, and they can still afford to feed their children afterwards.”
His father’s hands were shaking, and it was how, more than the loud explosion moments earlier, that Seokjin knew he’d truly infuriated his father.
“Jonghyun is a fantastic surgeon,” Seokjin said softly. “And I was blessed he agreed to come aboard my practice. He’s established enough to have his own at this point. Yunho is probably the best orthopedist I’ve ever seen, and in nine months Hongbin will finish his residency and we’ll have a pediatrician. Dad, the wide range of services we can offer is only growing, and quickly at that. We’ve got four nurses on the payroll, two receptionists, and--”
They lapsed into an uneasy silence.
Then finally Seokjin said, “I’m not giving up what I have, dad. Not even for your approval.”
There was the oddest flicker of something across his father’s face before he said, “I don’t like where you work--that part of Seoul. It isn’t safe for you.”
Was that …. Seokjin could scarcely believe that it was possible his father was concerned for his safety.
“I need to be close to my patients, and that isn’t at the high end of town,” Seokjin said carefully. “But I have mace, and I am careful. I don’t take risks.”
Now his father looked truly pained.
And it took Seokjin a second to realize why, and then a second more to feel truly regretful.
“Nothing is going to happen to me, dad. I don’t--”
“I need your help,” his father cut in expertly, eating once more. “I need you to talk to your brother.”
Seokjin asked unexpectedly, “Is everything okay with Jungkook?”
The only thing Seokjin regretted, as he tried to pull as far away from his overbearing and impossibly demanding father, was leaving behind his precious little brother. When they’d been younger, all they’d had was each other, and there wasn’t anything Seokjin wouldn’t do for him. But leaving home had meant leaving Jungkook.
“He’s insisting he move into a dorm,” Seokjin’s father snorted. “It’s ridiculous. The university is fifteen minutes away from the house.”
“Oh,” Seokjin eased out.
He wanted to ask his father if it was really such a surprise that Jungkook, who had always been more rebellious that Seokjin, would want to move out the second he was capable of it. And like Seokjin, university was obviously going to be the escape in mind.
“He’s eighteen, dad,” Seokjin said, taking his first bite of his meal. It was good, especially compared to ramen. “And all of his friends are probably going to live in the dorms. He just wants to fit in with them, and really, this is a typical thing with eighteen-year-old boys. Eighteen is right around the time teenagers, and boys in particular, start wanting to support themselves.”
“Nonsense,” his father said quickly. “You lived at home.”
“For my undergraduate program,” Seokjin reminded. “And only because I was seventeen when I started it. I moved out for my residency and all the training I received after my initial degree.” Jungkook wasn’t the type, either, to be held down or kept in one place for long. He was always moving, always doing, and he lacked all of the patience that seemed engrained in Seokjin.
“I don’t think I’ll be able to convince him,” Seokjin said honestly, and not just because he wanted Jungkook to be free. Free to be his own man and make his own mistakes and learn and grow.
Seokjin’s father barked out, “Bah, it’s a terrible idea. You always kept in line, your brother isn’t the same. If I let him go off and live in the dorms he’ll fall in with the wrong crowd. He won’t keep to his studies. He’ll start downhill and won’t recover.”
Seokjin cut in with a fake, shocked voice, “He might even, dare I propose it, become a liberal arts major.”
His father went pale and demanded, “Are you trying to give me a heart attack, Seokjin?”
In a reflexive move, Seokjin’s own had came up to his heart. “No.”
His father eyed him for a moment, then asked in a rough kind of way, “Are you keeping up with your medication?”
Seokjin cracked another smile. “I very much wouldn’t be sitting here, talking with you if I weren’t.”
“Good,” his father said, and it was probably the closest his father would ever come to keeping up with his health and caring for him. Seokjin wasn’t a ten-year-old anymore. He wasn’t the poor, pathetic boy clinging to the side of a hospital bed, gasping for air as his heart beat irregularly. And he wasn’t the kid who was scared he’d go to sleep and never wake up.
“Talk to your brother,” his father urged. “He needs to stay at home and study well if he’s going to make it into law school.”
It was suddenly Seokjin’s turn to snort at the absurdity of the statement. “Jungkook isn’t going to be a lawyer, dad. You know that, even if you don’t want to admit it.”
“He will if he studies hard enough.”
Seokjin continued, “He doesn’t like to study. He doesn’t care about law. He’s not academically minded at all. I don’t know what he’s going to do with his life, that’s up to him and the coming years to determine, but I’d bet anything in the world that he won’t be a lawyer. It doesn’t matter if he lives at home or stays in the dorms. He doesn’t have the dedication or the interest.”
As if he was conceding some great defeat, his father eventually said, “An accountant then.”
Seokjin laughed loudly, feeling it deep into his chest as his heart stuttered a little. “That might be even less likely. Jungkook’s always hated numbers.”
His father had always desired, long before Jungkook had shown no affinity for school, and longer than Seokjin had known he was going to be a doctor and save lives the same as his own had been saved, that at least one of his sons continue on in the family business. His father had wanted one, preferably both of them, to become civil servants and work for the government.
“Look,” Seokjin said, as a means of appeasement, “I’ll speak to Jungkook. We’re supposed to be spending the day together on Sunday.”
His father said quickly, “See if you can’t drag the boy to church for once. He could do with little faith.”
If there was anything Jungkook was less likely to achieve than a law degree, it was have an avid interest in religion. Seokjin wasn’t religious in the slightest either, but he did a better job of hiding it from his father than his younger brother did. Jungkook was just too wild of a child not to flaunt the things that set him apart from their father.
Once more Seokjin said, “I’ll speak to him about the possibility of remaining at home at least for the first couple of years he’s at college, and maybe even about the possibility of him taking his degree seriously. But I’ve never been able to control Jungkook, and no matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to, either.”
“No,” his father said solemnly, setting his knife down. “He’s too much like your mother. He’s her child in every way. There’s nothing of me in there.”
Maybe the stubbornness. Seokjin’s father and brother were both exceptionally stubborn.
They finished the rest of their meal with minimal talk. Seokjin listened to his father complain about interagency squabbling, Seokjin made mention of a lecture of biometric diagnostics he was interested in attending later on in the month, and then they simply enjoyed the atmosphere for what it was.
When Seokjin got to his feet twenty minutes later, the meal finished, he didn’t hug his father. He didn’t even shake the man’s hand. Instead he said, “You should come to the clinic some time. You should come and see what I’ve managed to do. I’m proud of it, even if you can’t understand why. It’s not a fancy hospital, and it’s not an exclusive and expensive practice that I’m sure your friends all attend when they need to take care of something. But it’s a good start to what I want it to be some day, and if you come by, I’ll give you a tour.”
Seokjin wasn’t going to hold his breath.
“Talk to your brother,” his father said in response, putting his jacket on despite how hot Seoul was in August.
“We should make a deal,” Seokjin said, patting his pocket for his bus pass. His preference for public transportation in a congested city like Seoul was another thing that set him aside from his father who always had a car at the ready, and from Jungkook who’d been stealing their father’s cars for joyrides since he was fifteen. “If I get Jungkook to stay at home for a couple of years, you should get my clinic a new air conditioner.”
“Charity doesn’t keep the building cool, does it?”
Seokjin bit back a more harsh retort. “It’s simply old,” he said. “And there’s a lot of delicate equipment that needs to be kept at a specific temperature. Not to mention a lot of my patients can’t afford air conditioning at their residences. I like to give them some comfort when they come to see me, at least in some way.”
His father fitted the buttons back into place on his jacket and offered, “You should consider raising your prices.”
Seokjin shot him a deliberately provoking look and said, “Some of my patients pay me however they can. I got a live chicken before. I suppose I could ask for two next time Ms. Kim needs a new pelvic examination.”
“Funny,” his father said, in a way that said he thought the opposite.
They parted quickly after that. His father headed to the black sedan that was government issued, and Seokjin went instead to the bus stop. In twenty minutes, he expected to be back at his clinic, seeing his next patient of the day, putting his father from thought until the following week.
The clinic that Seokjin called home--quite literally as he lived in the small, one bedroom apartment above it, was a building that had certainly seen better days. It needed a new paintjob, something that one of Seokjin’s patients had promised him would be started within the week, and it needed a few basic repairs that Jonghyun’s friend Minho had claimed he’d do free of charge the first chance he got. Truthfully, it didn’t look particularly inviting from the outside, but Seokjin didn’t think that was a bad thing. If anything, it kind of acted like a deterrent to any punks in the neighborhood who had any bright ideas about robbing the place.
Robbery was Seokjin’s biggest fear. If they lost even a single piece of expensive equipment in the clinic, Seokjin was certain they couldn’t currently afford to replace it. Most of it was second hand, and a lot of it was on its last leg, but all of the machinery was integral to day to day activities.
It was a real fear that led to bars on the windows, double locks on the doors, and a portion of the month’s expenses going to a protection fee.
A protection fee.
It was disgusting to think that Seokjin had to pay a different set of thugs money to keep the more unorganized ones away, but at the moment he didn’t have a choice. He needed the protection, his patients needed it, and if his practice was going to make it out of the first five years, it had to avoid devastating robberies.
There were moments, and Seokjin was having another has he headed up the walkway to the clinic, spying a shady looking figure across the street watching him, that Seokjin truly despised his father’s stinginess. Even a fraction of a donation would do wonders for the practice, and his father who hoarded money and only spent it when he had something to show off or someone to impress, had plenty to spare.
His father had proven he had the money by trying to bribe Seokjin into a position at a nearby hospital in the oncology department. Seokjin tried not to think about what a million won would do for his clinic.
He could improve hours, actually. That was his real goal. He hated having to open so late and close so early. More money would allow him to bring on more doctors, extend hours, and not have to turn patients away.
Even with the air conditioner failing, the moment Seokjin was across the threshold and into the main reception area, he already felt better. He could hopefully cool down quick enough to be ready to take his first afternoon patient comfortably.
“Doctor Kim!” an older woman waiting in the receptionist area called to him, waving happily when he finally spotted her.
He called back, “You’re looking gorgeous as usual, Mrs. Park.” She was one of Yunho’s regulars, but Seokjin did his best to remain on personal terms with the patients that came around frequently.
“Kim Seokjin,” the secretary at the front desk, Yoona, said with arms crossed when he was nearer, “can you please not flirt with the patients?”
“I can’t help it,” Seokjin said, turning to wink at the elderly woman. “If the pretty ones keep coming in, I can’t be held accountable for my behavior.”
In the waiting area, the older woman blew him a greasy kiss.
“Anything happen while I was out at lunch?” Seokjin asked before he cut back to the employee only area, moving to her side of the work space.
She slipped him a written note on pastel pink paper that Yoona used as if all other kinds of memo pads offended her. Color coordinated were her pink nails, the pink barrette in her hair, and the impossibly pink high heels she wore on her tiny feet.
Im Yoona was the kind of girl that Seokjin had worried about from the start. She’d more than proven herself as a competent secretary, and was probably even overqualified. Not to mention she had the kind of personality that brightened the clinic, and she was impressive with her punctuality. But she was also incredibly beautiful, someone who obviously hadn’t grown up in the area, and a walking target to the kind of degenerates that came out mostly at night, but also during the day at times. More than once Seokjin had taken her home personally and then doubled back.
Seokjin secretly hoped that one day Yoona would bring in a huge, intimidating man, and introduce him as her boyfriend. Yoona was a spitfire, but there was nothing quite like brute physical intimidation to get others to back off.
Seokjin scanned the paper quickly, his eyes flying over Yoona’s perfect handwriting, and he felt a flush of joy. “Victoria called.”
Yoona nodded. “Miss Song wants you to call her back tomorrow afternoon, our time, but it sounded to me on the phone like she was very interested in the position.”
Seokjin let himself breathe out happily, “Victoria Song is a gifted neurologist. Since her fiancée is going to be in South Korea for a year, I reached out to her through a mutual friend. If we have any luck at all, she’ll be willing to put in at least a few hours a week here. We could do so much more with a neurologist.”
Yoona gave him a thumbs up. “Your next patient has an appointment scheduled in half an hour. Exam room three.”
“Thanks,” he told her, then headed back to get ready.
When Seokjin had been young, after he’d managed to survive just enough to truly consider that he might make it long enough to go to medical school and be the doctor he’d always dreamed of becoming, he’d imagined filling his dreams with a packed schedule and little time for rest. He’d never, not even for a second, wanted to be the kind of doctor who saw a single patient a day, only did special consultations, and didn’t extend his reach as far as it could go.
So now, to be that busy doctor, was a dream come true.
He’d just always hoped the conditions would be better.
“You look depressed,” Jonghyun said hours later as Seokjin watched one of their summer interns escort Yoona out of the building. The last of the patients had gone home twenty minutes previous, and with only one more nurse left on the floor, it wouldn’t be long before Seokjin was alone.
“I had to see my father today,” Seokjin said, shoulders falling.
Jonghyun raised an eyebrow. “Tried to guilt trip you about your life choices?”
Jonghyun signed off on the last of the paperwork in front of him and then set the chart in the designated wrack for the next day. “There is such a thing as masochism. You don’t have to put up with that to be a good son. I think you forget that.”
Seokjin confessed, “I think he likes seeing me struggle. I really do. It’s the only explanation I can find for how often he reminds me that I could have a posh job at a hospital in about half a second if I just say yes.”
He was quiet for at least a minute, standing shoulder to shoulder with Seokjin, then Jonghyun said, “I know this place doesn’t seem like much right now. And honestly, we’re kind of holding it together here with duct tape. But it won’t always be like this. We won’t always struggle. I don’t know if you can see where this place will be in ten years, but I can.”
Seokjin gave him a careful look. “You plan to be here for the next ten years?”
Jonghyun smiled at him. “I was hoping that sometime in the next five or so years you’ll want a more permanent partner. My name would look great up there on the sign next to yours.”
“Why?” Seokjin asked, not certain in the least. “You’re so gifted. You’re truly one of the best set of hands in Korea. You could be anywhere, doing anything. You could be taking on the most challenging surgeries. But you’re here, sometimes treating upset tummies.”
Heels clacking quietly on the floor indicated the last nurse was behind them before she bowed respectfully and slipped out the front door.
Jonghyun challenged back, “Why aren’t you at that posh hospital?”
Seokjin felt flushed with pleasure. “Because it’s not about the money or recognition.”
With a pat to Seokjin’s shoulder, Jonghyun said, “I’ll see you tomorrow. Gallbladder removal. Exciting stuff.”
Seokjin was grinning widely as he followed Jonghyun to the door and locked it behind him, setting the security alarm.
For the next several hours Seokjin busied himself with paperwork at the small office to the back of the building that he shared with Yunho. There was a thorough cleaning service that came in the morning, but for the rest of the night Seokjin fully expected to be alone. That meant paperwork, ramen, and then maybe a little light reading before bed.
His life wasn’t terribly exciting, Seokjin recognized, but it was fulfilling, and it was the one that he’d chosen.
Around an hour after midnight, with Seokjin’s eyes starting to feel heavy and his tablet dimming from going idle on the medical journal he’d been browsing, he heard something that had only reached his ears once before.
Seokjin heard the security system going off.
He rolled from his bed immediately, stumbling until he got his feet underneath him a second later, and then he was making a mad dash for the stairs.
When he reached the bottom he swung wide, swiping up a nearby baseball bat, and then leveled it up.
His ears were ringing wildly with a piercing sound but he didn’t let himself stop.
He would defend the clinic. The clinic and his patients were everything. No matter what, he wouldn’t let anything happen to his home without a fight.
“Whoever you are,” he called out sharply, “you’d better get lost! That alarm means the police are on the way, and I’m armed!”
He slapped on the main hallway lights but he couldn’t tell where the breech in the alarm system had come from. He had no idea if his intruder was behind him or to the front of the clinic. His only chance was to get a jump on whoever it was, or scare them off completely.
The police likely would come, but it would be a while. The crime level in the area was quite high most nights, and that meant a lot of police weren’t available right away. The alarm, more than anything, was meant to indicate that attention had been drawn.
So all Seokjin had to do was make sure that the intruder knew he knew he were there, and that eventually the police would be along.
“I mean it! Get lost!”
Something heavy thumped in rapid succession from the front of the clinic and Seokjin started forward. He’d never been particularly brave or athletic or physical. He wasn’t sure he could hold his own against one person, let alone a group of them. But there was no other alternative. And he had to set an example. He had to let everyone else in the neighborhood know that they couldn’t make an easy mark of him. No one was going to steal from his clinic and get away with it.
He could hear muffled voices ahead of him and Seokjin held the bat more securely as he took heavy steps.
He broke off suddenly at the sight of three men. Three. An impossible number to deal with.
And if he had three intruders in his clinic that provided cheap medical services to people who desperately needed it, what the hell was he paying protection money for in the first place?
One of the men was injured. That was what Seokjin managed to realize as his heart thundered in his chest painfully, making him feel light headed and short of breath. In fact, the room was starting to spin around him and he wasn’t sure if he was swaying on his feet or merely his vision was starting to go. They were all precursors that he needed to calm down, and quickly.
Blood. Seokjin could see blood soaking the side of one of the men. He was barely on his feet, his knees bowing out, and there was a second man practically holding him up. The second of the two didn’t look much better, with a spectacularly impressive bruise across his lower jaw that would lead to even more extreme swelling in a day or so.
“We need help,” the man supporting the other up said roughly, voice strained like he’d been yelling or screaming. “Are you a doctor? We need a doctor.” He hefted the slumped man up a little and said, “He’s been shot.”
In his panic Seokjin looked down to his own plain blue pajamas.
“Hey!” the third man snapped, cutting in between the two injured ones. The third looked roughed up, but no worse for wear. “He asked you a question!”
“Y-yes,” Seokjin managed to choke out, but he lost his grip on the baseball bat and had to lean on a nearby wall. He heard the bat clatter to the ground as he saw the gun.
The third man, security in his grip, held a small, black pistol. And it was aimed at Seokjin.
“I …” he was having even more trouble breathing and there were spots in his vision now.
The third man, punctuating his words carefully, snapped out, “You save him. Now.”
“The clinic isn’t--”
“Now!” the man thundered, gesturing down to the gun. “Or I’m not going to be heartbroken about emptying this into you.”
It was a risk, but if Seokjin didn’t do something soon, he was going to pass out. And he didn’t doubt that the short but fierce man really would shoot him. Several times. So he turned on heel, the baseball ball on the ground, and dashed for the nearby break room.
He heard shouting after him but he didn’t pay it any mind. The world was seemingly melting in front of him as he threw open a cabinet drawer so hard that the contents spilled onto the floor. Then he was on his hands and knees, ripping open the emergency pill bottle and dry swallowing an obscenely large pill.
“What’s wrong with you?”
Gasping for air, Seokjin looked up to see the man with the gun in the doorway. And the gun was still pointed at him, too.
Seokjin ignored him, instead closing his eyes, hoping desperately that his heart would calm on its own, his breathing would even out, and that he wouldn’t pass out and make for a large, still target.
“--hear my friend when he said--”
Seokjin dug his fingers into his hair. Breathe, he told himself. Breathe and remain calm.
He jumped sharply when warm, gentle hands rested on his back, tugging him into an odd, almost uncomfortable hug.
What the hell was his attacker doing, hugging him?
Seokjin blinked his eyes open sharply at the familiar voice.
He gasped out, “Jungkook?”
He had to be hallucinating. That was the only way his younger brother was in front of him, crouched on the floor amidst the chaos, looking at him with a worried expression and blood smeared across his forehead.
“Do you need an ambulance?” Jungkook demanded, and it certainly sounded like Seokjin’s brother.
“Hurt?” Seokjin managed to get out, but thankfully he was starting to feel a little better. His chest wasn’t so tight and he didn’t feel as if he were seconds away from a heart attack. “You …hurt?” He could only see the blood on his baby brother’s face.
“No,” Jungkook was quick to tell him, tugging him into a much more confident hug. “Jin, I’m so sorry. I’m sorry. I didn’t think this would happen. I didn’t think about your heart at all.”
“Is he a doctor or not?” the man with a gun demanded.
As Seokjin steadied further, he saw Jungkook give a confident nod and say, “My brother is the best doctor I know. Get Rap Monster to one of the examination rooms and I’ll have Jin there in thirty seconds.”
“He better be good,” the man with the gun said, but then he was darting away to follow orders.
Seokjin grabbed hard to Jungkook’s sleeve and demanded, “What’s going on?”
“Is the code to the alarm still mom’s birthday?”
Before Seokjin could respond Jungkook was on his feet and headed from the room. He shouted over his shoulder, “You just keep breathing. I’ll be back in a second and I’ll explain everything!”
The moment Jungkook was gone, Seokjin bowed over more fully, hands braced on the ground as he sucked in the last of his uneven breaths.
He didn’t know what was going on. He didn’t know why there were unfamiliar men, some wounded, who’d broken into his clinic at one in the morning to threaten him with a gun. And he didn’t know why his brother seemed to know not only what was going on, but know the men as well.
But Seokjin was going to find out. Because nothing happened to his clinic as long as he was around, and that included people dying on his watch.