Water trickles from the rusted faucet, slowing to an occasional drop for a minute before finally shutting off. Jungkook dries his hands and tosses the towel in the dirty laundry bin, his apron following. He reaches up, turning his hat around backwards before rapping his knuckles on the office door.
It swings open suddenly to reveal a somewhat frazzled Yoongi. He smiles when he sees Jungkook and rolls his chair back to his computer. “Heading home?”
“Yep,” Jungkook says as he leans past his boss to swipe his card in the machine beside the clunky desktop. A robotic voice confirms “Jeon Jungkook has clocked out at 11:07 PM” as he pockets the card. “You staying late again?”
“Have to.” Yoongi sighs, hitching his glasses up as his eyes scan the too-bright screen before him. “Timesheets got all fucked up when we had that system crash so I have to recover what I can and then fill in the blanks manually. I don’t want anyone getting paid late. Or worse, shorted on their paycheck.”
Jungkook smiles as he pulls his jacket on. “Always working hard for the rest of us lowlifes.” He grabs his friend by he shoulders and gives him a gentle shake. “Don’t stay up too late. And remember,” he steps back outside the office, “that curfew from D.A.C.T. is effective tomorrow.”
“Dammit,” Yoongi sighs. “Guess I’ll be taking work home with me from now on.”
“Or you could just not work for once?”
Yoongi laughs, head shaking as he clicks through complicated spreadsheets Jungkook couldn’t even pretend to understand if he wanted to. “Yeah, I’d love to. Get me a job with C.O.R.E. instead so I can live in Central District and get paid millions for doing nothing,” he says, shoulders shaking with laughter now.
Jungkook grins. “I’ll get on that,” he retorts. “Goodnight, Yoongi.”
With one last wave goodbye that he knows Yoongi doesn’t see, he shuts the office door and slips out of the building into the dark alley behind.
The cold air hits him like a train and he shivers, tugging his jacket tighter around his torso and quickening his steps. His breath puffs white wisps into the air as he practically runs through the dark city. Half of the streetlights here have been busted by vandals or stray gunfire and the alleyways that split off the main stretch remain in pitch blackness.
As Jungkook passes a particular streetlight he reaches into his pocket to clutch the small knife he always keeps there. He spares the light post a glance, eyes darting from bullet hole to bullet hole as memories of that night rush back to him. He still remembers the pain of those bullets as they tore through him. Lucky Yoongi had been there that night to rush him to the rundown hospital down the street or he might not have survived.
Jungkook was too young to remember the city before the civil war, before it was every man for himself. He was three years old when the disease broke out and C.O.R.E. rolled into town to sell “enhancements” to those who could afford it that would keep them healthy and alive.
Complete Override of Evolution, C.O.R.E. The company showed up out of nowhere, claiming they could enhance not only a person’s health and immune system, but their physical appearance, their strength, and even their mind. It didn’t take long for the wealthier people of Seoul to start buying up their stocks.
Then the segregation began. The poor who couldn’t afford the vaccine were pushed to the outskirts of the city while the the rest—now known as Central District—were cleansed and cut off from the rest.
D.A.C.T. was formed soon after. The Division Against Crime and Terror. Their name is self-explanatory. They “take care” of those who try to sneak into Central District or attempt to cause any harm to the upper class citizens or their homes. That only enraged the people, though, and soon rebellions started popping up. Full-fledged resistances, organizations that swore to destroy C.O.R.E. and their corrupt ties to Seoul’s government.
So Tempest was formed. It stands for nothing, as far as Jungkook is aware. It’s just the word ‘Tempest’ because it sounds cool and vaguely threatening, he supposes. They’re the most elite and dangerous soldiers their government has, though they belong more to C.O.R.E. than Seoul’s actual government, in Jungkook’s opinion. Mercenaries hired from outside of Seoul and passed off as government soldiers so they’ll be trusted more. Whoever or whatever they are, the resistances didn’t last long against them, save for a few of the more careful groups.
Since then the civil war has only gotten worse. People still fight and die in the streets like rabid animals. Some just lose their minds and run at the walls of Central District only to be gunned down and left to rot in the middle of the streets.
Again, Jungkook was too young to know what it was like before. This is the only life he’s ever known and he has a feeling it’s the only one he ever will know.
He shivers against the cold as tiny snowflakes begin drifting down around him. The city is surprisingly peaceful tonight, nothing but the sound of his footsteps and the crackling fires from small camps of street dwellers. Still, Jungkook keeps a firm grip on his weapon. Nothing at this point in his life could ever lull him into a false sense of security.
Somewhere in the distance he hears a shout, far behind him. Probably just people fighting over supplies or territory. Plenty of abandoned homes to be claimed. Jungkook has seen people murder each other for less.
Jungkook picks up his pace as he nears his building and he almost reaches it without a hitch until someone brushes past him, rushing down the street even faster than he does.
The hooded figure, whoever they are, places their hand on Jungkook’s shoulder as they pass, barely nudging him out of the way. Then Jungkook hears it.
“Hands up, rebel!”
The figure stops, gloved hands clenched at his sides. He stands just a few feet in front of Jungkook, who whips around to find several D.A.C.T. officers rushing toward them. Jungkook throws his hands in the air, assuring the team he isn’t involved. He’s not about to get his ass shot off because of some rebel.
None of them seem to even pay him any mind as they point their guns at the figure behind him. “I said hands up! Turn around around slowly.”
Jungkook holds his breath, hoping against hope that whoever this person is they cooperate so he doesn’t get caught in a literal crossfire. But Jungkook never has been particularly lucky.
“Sorry about this,” someone whispers in his ear just before he hears the click and whir of a gun and feels the barrel press against his temple. His heart kicks into overdrive as the rebel, whom he can tell by the voice now is a man, yanks him a few steps back. “Alright, boys, weapons down or I start shooting.”
Jungkook sucks in a sharp breath. “I don’t know what you think you’re doing,” he says to the man, trying his best to keep his voice from quivering, “but from my experience… these guys don’t really care about people like me.”
“I said weapons down!” the rebel shouts again, waving his gun briefly in the direction of the officers before pressing it to Jungkook’s head again. He leans a little closer and whispers, “Just play along, kid, and you won’t get hurt. Killing civilians isn’t exactly a hobby of mine.”
As quick as lightning, the man whips the gun away from Jungkook and shoots the nearest street lights, thrusting them into darkness. He yanks Jungkook back, gun trained on him again, and darts down an alleyway.
“Run,” he orders, shaking his gun in the direction he wants Jungkook to go.
Jungkook knows better than to question a rebel with a gun, so he runs, their footsteps echoing along the street as the man tells him which way to turn. Far behind them the D.A.C.T. officers shout orders and positions to each other but they seem lost as far as where the two have gone.
Even Jungkook isn’t sure he could find his way back at this point. The rebel has had him make so many turns he’s surprised they haven’t just gone in a giant circle. Finally, the rebel comes to a stop, grabbing Jungkook by the back of his jacket and dragging him into a dark, narrow alley.
He lets go, back turning to Jungkook as he moves behind a dumpster to drag something out, gun held between his teeth as he does so.
Jungkook leans around to see a motorcycle, much sleeker than anything he’s ever seen in Outer District before. It distracts him at first, then he snaps himself out of it and realizes this is his chance to escape. His hand dives back into his pocket for his knife, heart pounding.
“Don’t.” The gun is back in the rebel’s hand in an instant, pointed right at Jungkook’s face. He looks at Jungkook. “Do you know how to drive one of these?”
“Uh…” Jungkook lifts his brows, hands rising up in surrender again. “I drove one once—”
“But you know how to.”
“Yes. I guess.”
The rebel looks at him and Jungkook gets his first real glimpse at the man’s face. It isn’t much. His eyes are covered with goggles of purple and teal and his hood hides everything else. The best Jungkook can see are his lips and chin, both much softer in appearance than he would have expected from such a cold individual.
“Good” says the man. “I need you to drive us back the way we came so I can… take care of something.”
“I’m not about to help you commit a crime,” Jungkook says with such vindication he feels there’s no way this stranger could bully him into complying.
The rebel just smirks. “Yeah, you are.”
And somehow Jungkook ends up on the front of a motorcycle, no helmet, relying on muscle memory to drive it, a gun pressed against his back. He figures it out real quick, not keen on dying tonight. He should have stayed and helped Yoongi with the timesheets.
The rebel tells Jungkook the directions as he drives, the gun now back in its holster as he fidgets with something else, one arm around Jungkook’s waist to keep from falling off.
Jungkook feels his stomach do a flip as they speed back out onto the main street and several D.A.C.T. vehicles drive directly ahead of them. One of them is a Tempest transport truck. The rest flank it.
Rebel man points at the transport vehicle. “Get alongside that one. Quickly.”
He’s going to hell for this.
Jungkook speeds up, zooming past the first D.A.C.T. vehicle. There’s immediate gunfire and Jungkook ducks his head as the rebel shouts for him to move closer. So he does. He swerves over a little clumsily until he finds the perfect speed to ride alongside the vehicle.
“Perfect!” the rebel shouts over the wind. “Keep it steady.” And suddenly he stands, his hand on Jungkook’s shoulder to keep his balance. Jungkook risks a glance back and sees the man stick something to the side of the car before ducking out of the way of some bullets. He leans close to Jungkook’s ear again. “Now move away. Quickly, please.”
With a sinking feeling he knows what’s about to happen, Jungkook zooms away from the convoy, barely dodging one of the cars as it tries to block his path.
As they slip into another narrow alley he hears it. An explosion rocks the street, the sound of metal scraping across stone ringing through the air.
Jungkook’s hands tremble ever so slightly but the rebel sounds just as calm as before. “Warehouse District,” he orders as the gun makes another appearance.
If Jungkook doesn’t die tonight he’s going to spend the rest of his life in prison.
It’s well past midnight by the time they pull into the Warehouse District. That damned gun finally goes back in its holster again and Jungkook finally realizes his hat has long been missing. The rebel fishes a phone out of his pocket, shoots a quick message to someone, and then turns goggled eyes on Jungkook.
“Go. Don’t talk to anyone about what happened tonight.”
Jungkook doesn’t get the chance to say anything in return before the stranger hops onto his bike and roars off into the night without another word.
He licks his lips, shivering in the cool night air. It would be easy for him to turn around and walk back home but something pulls him in the direction the rebel went.
Whoever he is, he just threatened Jungkook’s life multiple times, forced him into committing a crime, and then abandoned him in a district far from his own. He doesn’t get to just walk away like that.
No. Jungkook’s going to find out who he is.
He blinks away snowflakes as they catch on his eyelashes, checks his pocket for his knife, and takes off across the open expanse of the Warehouse District.
This guy isn’t getting away from him that easily.
Jungkook slows himself to a stop as he catches sight of the rebel’s motorcycle. He whips his knife out and darts behind a building.
They’re just outside the warehouse district now and it has to be nearing two in the morning. Jungkook had wandered for some time trying to track down where the other man had gone. Now he just has to figure out which building it is so he can find him and take him in to D.A.C.T.
God, it’ll feel great to get revenge.
Jungkook keeps to the shadows as he stares up at the tall building, checking which windows have lights on and if there’s any movement from inside.
Strange the man would leave his bike out in the open like that, considering it must’ve been seen by dozens of people earlier on the night and is likely plastered all over the news by now.
Jungkook’s stomach does flips. Something isn’t right. This was too easy.
He pushes away from the wall, ready to run from that place before it’s too late, but a voice stops him in his tracks. “What’s that saying?” it asks. Another click of a gun. “Never bring a knife to a gun fight? Drop it.”
With a sigh, Jungkook drops his weapon onto the pavement and slowly turns to face the rebel as he scoops it up. “You tricked me.”
The rebel nods, pockets the knife, then holsters his gun.
“Who are you?” Jungkook drops his hands back to his sides and the other man doesn’t seem the slight bit bothered by it.
The man doesn’t answer. “Why did you follow me?”
“I asked first.”
A moment of silence passes between them, then the rebel smiles. “Fair enough,” he says, much to Jungkook’s surprise. “Follow me.”
Jungkook stares after the man as he gestures for Jungkook to follow. When he doesn’t budge, the rebel turns back and whistles, beckoning him like a dog. Jungkook bristles at that, mouth scrunching up into an angry pout. He follows after him anyway, up a flight of rickety metal stairs and through a rusted metal door. Whatever it takes, Jungkook just wants answers tonight.
Jungkook blinks and looks at the hooded man. He’d been too distracted by the drab interior and ramshackle foundation to hear what he said. This can’t be where he lives. It doesn’t look like this place has been touched in years.
“My name is Jimin. Yours?”
“Jeon Jungkook,” Jungkook responds, then internally curses himself for giving his full name. Jimin hadn’t. You can never be too careful these days.
Jimin nods. “Jeon Jungkook,” he says as he retrieves Jungkook’s knife from his pocket. He flips it open and Jungkook’s heart skips a beat. He’s not about to be killed with his own knife. “Sorry,” Jimin continues as he snaps the knife shut again and tosses it to Jungkook, who barely responds in time to catch it. “About tonight. I prefer not to put civilians in harm’s way.”
Jungkook eyes his knife for a second, contemplating on whether or not he should keep it handy. Jimin is still armed and Jungkook is stuck in an abandoned old house with this man in the middle of nowhere. Yet for some reason he believes Jimin’s apology is sincere and he puts the knife back in his jacket pocket against his better judgment.
Too much of Jimin’s face is covered for Jungkook to tell but he thinks he sees Jimin smile again before be begins fidgeting with some old device on the table beside him.
“It’s, um, well… Normally I would never but…” Jimin’s voice takes on a new air, one of… shame? Embarrassment? Does it really bother him that much that he endangered a civilian?
Jimin sighs and pushes his goggles up to his forehead. His head remains tilted down so Jungkook still can’t see much of him as he removes his hood. It isn’t until he looks up that Jungkook goes rigid, his body growing cold.
Jungkook holds his breath as he takes in the sight before him. The upper left hand side of Jimin’s face is made up of shining grey metal, cutting into the hairline of his almost matching silver-dyed hair and curving around the back of his skull. Circuits extend from the metal under his skin, emanating a faint pulsating glow where his veins should be. His eye is a mechanical orb of shocking blue and where there should be an ear is just a smooth expanse of the same metal that covers his face.
“Sometimes the circuits go a little wonky,” Jimin explains as he begins to remove his gloves. He holds his hands out and Jungkook sees that the right hand is covered in smooth, tan skin while the left is a lighter shade of grey than that on his face. “Makes me more reckless than usual. Kind of messes with my brain a little bit.”
“You’re a cyborg,” Jungkook says, too startled and dumbfounded to care that he just stated the obvious. He probably looks like a damned fool, mouth gaping open as his eyes trail over all the harsh edges and bolts of Jimin’s left side.
Jimin chuckles a bit. “Yep.” He slips his gloves back on and returns to fidgeting with the object on the table until a piece of it snaps off. He lets go of it, frowning at the device for a second before looking at Jungkook again. “So, Jeon Jungkook, you never answered my question. Why did you follow me?”
“Thought that was obvious.”
“I never like to assume.”
Fuck, this guy is weird.
“I wanted to know who the hell almost got me killed earlier. That’s all. So I know who to avoid in the future.”
Jimin’s lips purse together and Jungkook almost thinks he looks hurt by his words as he turns away. The cyborg snatches his goggles up from the table and slips them back on, the buckle on the strap scraping across the metal on the side of his head.
He stares out the dingy window for a moment before heaving a tired sigh and turning back to Jungkook again. “You’re pretty brave for a civilian,” Jimin says before flipping his hood back up. “If you ever feel like getting shot at again you can find me here. We could use someone like you.”
Jungkook can’t form words as Jimin brushes past him and heads for the door. Does this guy think Jungkook has a death wish or something? Why would he want to join a resistance with the way they’re all being crushed right now? Does he think Jungkook enjoyed tonight?
None of those questions are what finally leave him when he snaps back into reality, though. He turns to face Jimin and blurts out, “How will you know I’m looking for you?”
Why is he asking that like he plans to see Jimin again?
Jimin stops in the door and smiles at Jungkook. He lifts a hand, points to one corner of the ceiling, and Jungkook turns to see a little camera turn on him.
It gives him the chills to think someone is actually watching him through that thing, listening to their conversation closely enough to know when to focus in on him. He represses a shudder.
“Just show up,” Jimin tells. He nods towards the camera. “Hope will tell me and I’ll be here as soon as I can.”
Jimin grins. “Our tech guy.”
Jungkook doesn’t get any more information than that before Jimin slips out of the building. He casts a glance back at the camera and frowns at it before following after Jimin. By the time he gets outside the other man is already on his motorcycle, revving the engine.
The tires screech across the pavement as Jimin peels out, zipping across the wide open of the Warehouse District. Another shiver cuts through Jungkook’s body as the previously gentle drifting of snowflakes turns into heavy winds.
Walking home in this will be the cherry on top of this already shitty night.