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dead man's arms

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“He basically fuckin’ drowned in his own vomit,” Taehyung muttered as he crouched over the deteriorating body. It was far too cold and dark outside for them to be at a crime scene, but duty always called.

“Not… official reports say he OD’d,” his partner said skeptically, squinting down at the track lines that ran up his forearms.

Taehyung scoffed before gingerly nudging the body over, headfirst.

“Blunt force. Probably would’ve OD’d but he died before the drugs could take an effect. Almost like someone shoved him from the back, y’know, tits up so that we’d think overdose instead of asphyxia.”

“Right.”

Taehyung sighed, it had been a long day. “Look ‘ere.” He took a gloved hand and gingerly pressed around the cranium, brushing aside hair to indicate the obvious indent in the skull. “Hit his head hard as shit on the rock, then passed the fuck out after takin’ a hit. Autonomic probably kicked in, adrenaline an’ all that shit, tried to make him puke up the alcohol and coke before he OD’d. Gag reflex obviously wasn’t working and he was passed the fuck out so all that vomit went down the windpipe because his foaming mouth wouldn’t fucking open. Idiot.”

“Horrible way to go.” Jimin nodded impassively at the body, straightening his back. He didn’t quite sound sympathetic, but then again, pity wasn’t easy to find in people in their line of work. Especially for people like Jimin, traumatized after years at the investigation bureau.

“Choking over your vomit?" Taehyung prodded the corpse's cheek gingerly as Jimin murmured a confirmation at the unapparent rhetorical question, a low noise from the back of his throat. "Yeah, pretty much,” he agreed, groaning as he too stood up, bending backward until his vertebrae popped out in a delightful crack.

“What’re you gonna tell Song then?”

“That ratty old bitch we call our supervisor?"

Jimin nodded, flattening his lips in distaste at the thought of their boss. A knit formed in his brow, one Taehyung wanted to erase.

“Let ‘er think it was overdose. Don’t feel like filling out the paperwork. Autopsy’ll know and the detectives on the case. Dunno if she has the stomach for such gross shit. Dunno if it’s worth telling anybody else.”

“Tae, she hired us because she was good with gross shit.”

“Well. Don’t wanna fuckin’ tell her judgmental ass alright? ’S too fuckin’ much to deal with at ten fuckin’ am on a Tuesday. Shit man, even Joon’s terrified of her and he’s one of the high-ranking detectives.”

Song Jinri had the reputation of driving her investigators into the ground so it made sense that mostly everyone, save for the lieutenants and captains, was wary of her.

“Ever think it was intentionally done?”

“What. Homicide?”

“Seems likely.” Jimin nodded at the careful position the body’s been maintained in as if a friend carefully laid him to rest before murdering him.

“Jimin. There’s literally a fucking rock-shaped dent in his head. And piss on his pants indicating head trauma.”

“And fucking lacerations on his goddamn wrists.” That’s not substantial, Taehyung wanted to say. They had similar marks all the time when sex got too rough and the ropes too tight. “Seems unlikely that he wandered away to the closed-off section of the hotel and just, whoopsies! Passed the fuck out on top of the rock that would kill him. I mean, guy’s dumb but surely not that dumb. Even if he was completely mindfucked with a combo of drugs. Really do they not teach users and partiers that you shouldn't fucking combine drugs or else hello death?" Jimin looked annoyed, but then again, when wasn't he when dealing with corpses with mouths full of overdose-induced foam and vomit.

But, his words were true, it was rather odd that someone had wandered off after taking a couple shots of alcohol and lines of cocaine. Track lines be damned, there was foul play involved and Taehyung really didn’t want to deal with that today.

“His bruises, not the track lines, are antemortem. Signs of healing are there, but—” Jimin paused, knitting his eyebrows. He sat on the cold, icy ground to get a better look at the body. Not a person was evident save for the agent standing near the tape, waiting to hear their findings and see whether they matched those of the original scientist on the scene.

“But?” Taehyung prompted, arms crossed as he glared at Jimin, his partner not noticing the pout making its way onto his face. He hated whenever Jimin had epiphanies, hated that it meant their work just got infinitely more difficult and meant more overtime shifts.

He just wanted a quick crime, a quick open-and-shut case. Not something that would result in a manhunt for potential suspects. He didn’t want to be put on the stand yet again because evidence had been sent to trial and a professional was needed to testify.

“See here?” Jimin prodded the already sagging skin; rigor mortis had faded hours ago and the body was already fast decaying, despite the cold slowing the process. He stretched the skin to properly indicate the hematoma beneath the corpse’s body, the deep blue of the bruises indicating that they were fresh.

Inflicted right before, probably minutes before death. Enough to bloom, but not enough to fade.

“They aren’t yellow, fuck, they’re not even red.” His finger continued to circle over the bruise, jerking his head to point out the evident shape the marks took.

“Ever thought they could’ve just happened from the fall?”

“Fingerlike though?” Jimin questioned, an eyebrow raised in disbelief. He felt more around the neck, prodding the area right underneath the chin. The muscles are stiff with disuse, tender at the touch.

Taehyung shrugged wordlessly, gesturing at the indented cranium, the thing he still couldn’t see past.

“Hyoid’s fractured. Dunno 'bout you but it seems like the gag reflex was triggered by choking not by falling. Blunt force as a coverup probably, after he already started asphyxiating.”

Fuck,” Taehyung hissed. This wasn’t good. This means that this was intentional, not accidental, and shit just got a whole lot messier.

Another homicide masked as an OD gone wrong, a fall never meant to happen.

“So. We have to report to Song.” Taehyung said this with a stale taste leaving his mouth. Jimin patted his back consolingly.

“Least you’re not the primary investigator this time.” Jimin frowned. “‘S me who’s gonna have to deal with her. Or, fill out the stupid paperwork in the case file.”

Taehyung laughed. It was a bitter sound, ugly and unrepentant.

“Gonna have to deal with you bitching ‘bout it at home though. Got another fuckin’ killer on the loose, get ready for the graveyard shifts trying to do all those shitty mass specs, Min.” Jimin’s eyes softened at his blasé remark. He made a surreptitious glance at where the waiting agent was and upon noticing that her back was turned to them, pressed a quick kiss to the corner of Taehyung’s mouth.

“Consolation blowjob back at the lab before I write the reports?” Jimin’s lips curled up wickedly. His eyes glint mischievously, excited at the prospect of possibly being caught in the lab.

Taehyung laughed, shaking his head. “We’re literally next to the body of a decaying drug addict and you’re thinking of sex?”

“Or, I mean. We could talk about whatever shit this dude did that got him fucked up like this. Theories anyone? Considering we’ll be stuck at the lab all night trying to figure out what idiot couldn’t even properly fake an accidental death, you know. ‘S not like we’ll have anything better to do while half the tests run. Cum the stress out or some shit.”

“Shh.” Taehyung hissed at Jimin’s lax tone, grimacing at the way Jimin’s voice increased in volume.

“They literally don’t know that we’re together yet.”

“Fuck HR,” Jimin proceeded to respond, frustrated, and Taehyung had to agree.

“Fuck HR, honestly, yeah. And the thought of getting clean cases for once.” Taehyung shook his head disappointed, yet with a small laugh. Human Resources was the least of their worries when coming out to their coworkers as not only gay, but gay for each other.

Jimin unlocked his small lab kit. “We gonna take samples back then or not? Wanna test his vomit and… probably already decayed blood to make sure there are metabolites of drugs and that we weren’t lied to.”

Taehyung groaned. “Yeah, gimme a vial and something to swab the back of his throat with.”

Jimin labeled a tube buccal, saliva and another buccal, vomit because though he was a scientist, they were the only ones who were going to end up processing the samples and eventual data.

They work methodically until the sun began to set and the agent waiting for them called for them, impatient to get home to her loved ones.

Unfortunately for the two, that wasn’t a possibility for the night.

“Yoongi’s gonna be so pissed,” Jimin hissed as Taehyung shoved him over the table just as they walked into the lab messily, mouthing impatiently at his neck. They had reached back wordlessly, refusing to discuss their now more-complicated case. Didn't seem right, despite the somber mood in the car as they drove back to the precinct. “Tae, for Christ's sake, calm down.” Jimin’s hands flew up to grab at his waist, pulling him in and contradicting his own words.

“So hot, talking like you know shit,” Taehyung breathed, flinching at the eventual swat.

“I am smart, you fucktard.” Jimin’s hand grabbed at Taehyung’s hair, tugging at the strands hard. His other hand tried to find a steady grip on the corner of the table to pull himself on top of the cold metal. Taehyung moved his head back up to Jimin’s lips, pliant and bitten raw from the numerous sleepless nights dealing with annoying crimes and tedious tests.

Jimin’s hands tightened as they moved downwards to grab at Taehyung’s shirt collar just as the kiss ended and Taehyung went back to sucking bruises down his throat. “Like I was, mmph, Taehyung I ran out of concealer, s-saying. Y-Yoongi. A-and Jeongguk. G-gonna murder us s-slowly, shit.”

Taehyung separated himself, grinning at the bruises blooming above where Jimin’s carotid artery lay. He then looked at Jimin’s annoyed face.

“What? ‘S not my fault you bruise so prettily.”

“Sure. That’s what the murderer probably thought when he killed that addict.”

Taehyung processed this. “Probably,” he agreed, smirking.

“Incorrigible.” Jimin shook a finger at Taehyung. “Like I was saying, Yoongi and Jeongguk are gonna be pissed tomorrow morning.”

“Why, ‘cause we moved their shit to fuck? And the fact that we fucked, despite y’know. Contamination laws and shit?”

Jimin tilted his head and clicked his tongue rebukingly at his partner and boyfriend. “Bingo.” He then licked his lips slowly; Taehyung thought he looked especially pretty like this, in his white coat and grey shirt and red hickies over his neck.

The lights above buzz, flickering white light incessantly. Someday, they would get the janitors to get up off their asses and change the goddamn fluorescent bulbs, but not tonight.

“They’ll get over it.” Taehyung dropped to his knees, arms reaching up to unbuckle Jimin’s belt. “You’re gonna need to slide off that table if ‘m gonna blow you proper, Park.”

“Thought we agreed I was the one blowing you tonight in this dingy lab, at the site.” Jimin looked around the room disdainfully. “You would’ve thought that with the number of cases we help solve, we’d be out of this shithole and have actual equipment from the current era to work with. But no. We’re still doing mass specs on fucking machines from the 70s.”

“The 70s were a good time and I hate that you think otherwise,” Taehyung mumbled in disagreement, hands quickly working on pulling Jimin’s slacks and briefs down. “The fuck you wear briefs for? How’d you let the little guy breathe?” He watched at Jimin’s cock springs free and brushed a hand against Jimin’s inner thigh, watching the way Jimin’s head rolls back in satisfaction. The white light flickers and makes the bruises upon his neck show up in a deep, vivid crimson color—a stark contrast from his translucent skin, his pallor just another result from the numerous nights spent in overtime to help push cases through.

“The 70s were not a good time, Taehyung. Those poor excuses of mass spec machines indicate that. How the hell did they do chromatography back then,” Jimin bemoaned. “Oh, fuck.” Taehyung spat into his hand and wrapped it around Jimin’s cock, rubbing his thumb against the underside’s vein in fascination.

“Y’know, no matter how much I do this, I can never get over the fact that your dick’s just so pretty.”

“Fuck you,” Jimin muttered, though there wasn’t any bite to his words.

“Pretty sure if we had the time, you’d be doing the fucking today, good sir.” Taehyung quipped. They only had enough time until the PCR and centrifuges completed because then it was back to work with the shitty espresso the office supplied them.

Jimin slid off the table with a slight whine in time to Taehyung flicking his wrist, thumb pressing against his slit and rubbing the leaking precum around the member.

“Jus’ get on with it,” Jimin said through his teeth, his hand tightening uselessly into a fist at his side.

Taehyung merely nuzzled the bit of pubic hair in response, licking an experimental stripe at his balls.

“Don’t t-tease,” Jimin groaned, breath falling out of him.

“Aye, aye cap’n,” Taehyung said against his inner thigh, smirking at the way Jimin huffed impatiently.

He presses kittenish licks over the head, tongue flicking out playfully. He looked up only to notice the way Jimin glared down at him. Taehyung smirked, using two fingers to circle Jimin’s very, very hard dick.

Jimin rolled his eyes, tugging at Taehyung’s hair to make him start blowing. If he was right, the results would finish generating in nine minutes and that was time they didn’t have to spare.

“Sheesh, calm your ass,” Taehyung laughed, before beginning. He licked long stripes against Jimin’s cock, lapping at the dripping precum and bobbing his head forward to properly take the head in. The sound is obscene and Jimin closes his eyes at the sensation.

He pulled off, smacking his lips loudly and then proceeding to literally blow gentle air upon the head, making Jimin jump.

“How’s that for a fresh start,” he questioned with a jeer, knowing it would make Jimin open his eyes with a pained expression.

He was nothing if not a shit both on the field and in their figurative bed.

Without waiting for Jimin’s response, he wiped his mouth and spat into his palm again only to cup one of Jimin’s balls lightly, knowing his boyfriend would toss his head back in a mewl.

And he did. Taehyung went back to sucking his dick, running his tongue around the member until he could properly hollow his cheeks out and take him in all the way.

The tip hits the back of his throat and Taehyung sighed, Jimin’s hand tightening around his hair again with a whimper at the vibrations.

He bobbed his head in earnest now, slackening his jaw to take Jimin’s dick in at a better angle and shifting his weight so his knees wouldn’t cry out.

“F-four minutes,” Jimin croaked, a moan building up in his throat in a stuttering breath.

Taehyung slid off, using his hand to continue jerking Jimin off. “Four minutes for what?”

“Th-three now, you shit. Centrifuge. Th-the blood samples. Timer’s. Ju-just go,” Jimin stuttered brokenly and oh, Taehyung’s cock began to harden from the way his voice sounded. Taehyung reached down inside his pants to rut against himself, keening as Jimin began to fuck into his mouth, hips snapping gently so as to not ruin Taehyung’s voice for the next day.

“O-oh fuck I’m close,” Jimin gasped, tugging Taehyung to take more of his dick.

The other moved faster, the time constraint weighing upon him because once the centrifuge finished, they had no time to waste.

Jimin’s hips jerk immediately with the thought, cock stiffening before spurting out cum inside Taehyung’s mouth and down his throat.

Taehyung gagged, pulling off immediately and letting one hand milk Jimin through his orgasm, while he used his other hand to work himself through his own orgasm. Jimin pet his head gently, brushing his damp hair back as he gasped, the orgasm overpowering his senses for a second.

“You good there, buddy?” Jimin rasped, both hands now gripping the metal table tightly so he doesn’t immediately fall, for his bones feel as though they’ve turned to liquid. Taehyung lifted a weak finger up, licking his lips before speaking. “I th-think so? Feel better, less stressed.” Jimin laughed, eyes glimmering in agreement. He noted the white cum on Taehyung’s face before looking around the general area.

They’ve made a mess, as usual, but luckily most of Jimin’s cum landed on either the ground or Taehyung’s face rather than too much clothing.

Taehyung’s knees gave way and he slumped onto the grimy floor, wiping at his spit-ridden and cum-stained lips.

“Should clean this place up,” he croaked, clearing his throat. Jimin liked this version of post-sex Taehyung most, with the rough voice and reddened, irritated lips that came with deep throating.

“‘S not our fault the janitors hate us.” Jimin too slid down, completely off of the table.

“So,” Taehyung then began, the incessant beeping of the finished tests reminding them both that they needed to quickly clean themselves up and go on with their night.

“Song’s gonna be a fucking bitch tomorrow morning.”

“Not if Joonie pacifies her with coffee.” Namjoon was a do-gooder suck-up like that.

“Thought he made lead detective on the case.”

“Yeah but that was before we came to the realization that this was a possible murder, Min.” Taehyung said with a matter-of-fact tone. “She’s gonna try to bitch out the first few investigators who missed the antemortem bruises and fracture.”

Jimin nodded, pressing on his knees as he slowly stood up. He grabbed the tissue box and threw it at Taehyung, taking a few to wipe at his dick before pulling up his briefs and slacks and shoving the member back in.

Taehyung cleaned himself off as well, frowning at the fact that he ended up coming in his pants before patting off the general area inside his boxers. He’d need to check the lockers to see whether he put a washed change of clothes, for they did this far too often to relieve the stress of their jobs.

“You know, what sucks is that we don’t get lab techs to do our jobs,” Taehyung remarked after he had settled back into his station, trying to get another test started so he could run to the bathroom to change.

“We are the lab techs, you ass.”

"Hm." Taehyung clicked his tongue lightly, mulling over his boyfriend’s words. “Huh. You’re right. Maybe you shouldn’t have jizzed so much that some got on my face then.”

“‘S not my fault you kept building up.” Jimin flipped Taehyung off. “What’re you gonna say if there’s semen in the samples now?”

“Maybe Yoongi’ll murder us before that happens.”

Taehyung.”

“Christ, we cleaned up as well as we could. Any of this fucking shit on the floors could get into the samples. We’re not the cleanest when fixing up the benches you know.”

Jimin groaned, “tell me about it. Hopefully, Song doesn’t bite our asses off, don’t feel like getting demoted in this shithole.”

Taehyung chuckled. “Babe, I don’t think they can afford to demote the two lab techs they’ve got willing to work night shifts.”

Jimin hummed as he snapped a new pair of latex gloves on and pulled on his goggles, opening the centrifuge and taking out the two vials he had put in.

“They give us prints, by any chance?”

“Shoes?”

“Mhm, any sort of tracks.” The body was laying poolside next to the mud, so they could potentially check out the invites list and match suspects to shoes.

“Yeah right here. Reports don’t talk about the second set of shoes, but I’m sure that’s the killer.”

“Oh, thank god,” Jimin groaned, shoulders sagging in relief. If they were able to figure out the footprint then they could potentially leave; that is, they could leave after drafting the reports for the case file and finishing up the tests currently running.

“Jesus, wish we were medical examiners.” Taehyung sighed.

“What, stuck in the basement of the hospital next to all those dead bodies rather than under this precinct with all the criminals? After spending all those years in the hell they call med school and residency?”

“If we had the body, bet the case'd be easier.”

“Yeah, let’s just fuckin’ call him up from the dead with necromancy or some shit. Hey sir, how’s death going for ya, d’you know which asswipe murdered you?” Jimin’s sarcasm doesn’t go over Taehyung’s head, and the latter glared at his partner.

No, just be fuckin’ easier to collect all these stupid samples. Have ‘im right there. You know I hate that dark shit. Don't talk about ghosts and stuff 'round 'me, you twat.”

“Okay...but honestly? Would choose mass specs over formaldehyde any day.” Taehyung grunted out an agreement, shifting his arm to reach for the lukewarm coffee next to his bench. He chugged the beverage and started the chromatograph, before running to the lockers and changing out of his pants and boxers.

Jimin laughed when he reappeared wearing sweatpants, a usual no-no in Taehyung’s style handbook, blowing a kiss to alleviate his annoyed glance.

They then worked until the early hours of the morning, pipetting and sampling, trying to figure out a way to ease the load of the case on the detectives who’d have to go out and search for perpetrators of the probable murder.

Chapter Text

“Can’t you ‘ell Hoseokie to piss off?” Jimin slurred groggily, patting around the nightstand until he found his phone.

He shut off the blaring alarm and pressed a pillow on top of his face, before rolling over and curling to face Taehyung.

“Can’t, you were the one who promised him,” Taehyung mumbled from his own stagnant position, refusing to move a limb.

“I get that. I really do. But it’s four in the morning,” Jimin groaned incoherently against his pillow. His voice was gruff and he curled a hand against the back of Taehyung’s neck, fumbling to peck him on the lips while his eyes were still closed. He missed and ended up just barely brushing the corner of his mouth, but at this time he couldn’t care less. He really just needed to stop making promises he didn’t want to keep.

"Tragic," Taehyung murmured, patting his arm consolingly before shoving Jimin out of the bed.

The latter fell upon his ass ungracefully. He glared at his peaceful boyfriend while getting up, dusting off his naked ass before padding to the bathroom.

“I don’t get paid enough for this,” Jimin tried again, the complaint rising in his throat. “It’s still dark out,” he whined.

Taehyung rose from the bed with a large yawn, stretching his arms before tugging at his earlobe sleepily.

“‘S not my fault you chose to suck my dick instead of passing out last night,” Taehyung retorted, opening his eyes blearingly. He cleared his throat, hating the roughness of his voice that always resulted from his lack of a gag reflex.

"But what a great dick it is." Jimin almost cooed at the sight of the way Taehyung was covered in the blankets, bare-chested and with mussed hair.

“Go on.” Taehyung waved at him. “I’ll get your coffee started, travel mug it for you. You’re gonna need it for the trip, ‘parently this place is a doozy, according to what Hoseok’s mentioned. Case itself is a bit… interesting.”

“Tae,” Jimin began slowly, ever the image of caution. “You’re coming too. We both promised Hoseok that we’d be there. For the evals. Remember?”

Taehyung froze just as he stepped into his slippers, eyes wide as he turned slowly to face Jimin, the epitome of fright.

“You’re fucking kidding me right now,” Taehyung groaned, bending over his knees at the realization that Jimin is—in fact—not kidding. Not in the slightest. Jimin shot him a dry look, rolling his eyes.

“Just throw on whatever, I guess. Don’t think the victim’s family is gonna expect us to show in pristine, freshly-pressed suits.”

“By whatever, you don’t mean sweats right. Or my pajamas. I have really nice pajamas.”

“Don’t you dare wear pajamas. We’re still going to a fucking crime scene and questioning the family.”

Taehyung mumbled underneath his breath, the words too low for Jimin to hear.   

“Well,” Jimin paused to correct himself. “Hobi’s interviewing. We’re investigating.”

“We have to be coherent? God, Jimin, it’s like you don’t wanna give me any peace of mind.”

Jimin stuck his tongue out, scrunching his nose cutely. Taehyung would almost coo if it weren’t for the tiredness that immediately ensued. He hated his job sometimes, hated being his boyfriend’s partner in the office even more.

HR would really have a field day whenever they finally came out as a couple.

Instead, he pushed himself out of the bed, shuffling over to where Jimin is still standing in the doorway to their bathroom.

“Can we just shower together,” he muttered. Wrapping his arms around his boyfriend, he stumbled into the bathroom, leaning over to turn the shower’s knob to its hottest setting. He stripped his clothes off mechanically, too bleary-eyed to appreciate his boyfriend’s naked body.

Jimin doesn’t respond, instead choosing to tug Taehyung into the shower with him. They fumbled with the soap, occasionally knocking into the wall of the shower because it was far too small for two grown adults to shower peacefully.

They step out in record time—eight minutes to be precise—and get ready quickly, tossing on crisp white dress shirts and black suit jackets, with a navy tie to match.

Unfortunately, they had to be respectful to the family rather than practical for their work. Since they always ended up in situations like this, however, they both had an outfit combination designated for interview and scene days.

“C’mon,” Jimin said after he dressed. He started the coffee pot, making enough to fill two large thermoses without milk. They didn’t really have the time to mix in sugar or milk, nor the patience to do so when they had over an hour’s drive to the house where the little girl was slit, from ear to ear.

As they drove, Jimin on the wheel of their cheap 90s Camaro, Taehyung flipped through the photos of Hoseok’s case. They weren’t really given all the details, only some pictures and an autopsy report.

Hoseok had said that they didn’t really have all that much to give them unless they wished to see the mounds of speculation still piled on his desk at the precinct.

“Gotta be some sorta sick kind of bastard to knife a little girl’s neck,” Taehyung commented, tapping on a particularly gruesome shot. He shook his head at the image. Blood was spattered across the floor, the victim’s neck cut wide open. “Knife a little girl’s neck, and chop her fingers like some sort of fucking prize. Gotta be a goddamn piece of work to… act out such horrific things.”

Jimin turned momentarily, looking at Taehyung’s disgusted face. He was sure it had more to do with the bitter, black coffee than the bloody pictures but then again, he could be wrong. It wouldn’t be the first time he would be wrong with attributing the reason for Taehyung’s expressions.

“I mean there’s a bit of an art to it,” he said easily, turning his eyes back onto the endless highway. He pressed down harder on the accelerator and shifted gears, speeding at twenty over the limit on the road.

Taehyung scoffed. “This fucking mess? Art?” He showed the pictures of the case to Jimin—the ones with the girl’s amputated hand. The images of the girl’s missing fingers were evident, body parts that they could’ve analyzed for residue dead skin underneath her nails—if she had fought back and scratched her murderer.

Jimin shrugged one shoulder up. “Well, yeah. I mean, you gotta be sure to cut from ear to ear. Deep and circular enough to open up the jugular and windpipe. Make sure the victim not only bleeds to death but also suffocates in their own blood. Horrible, but kind of beautiful.”

“I’m dating a fucking psychopath.” Taehyung frowned in distaste, opening the front compartment searchingly.

Jimin laughed at this. “You gotta be a psychopath to be in this business.” He picked up his thermos from the cup holder, tilting the steel back to chug his lukewarm coffee. He set the thermos back before switching on his turn signal, merging into the oncoming lane for a quick moment to pass the slow trucker ahead. 

“We’re lab techs, 'member? Not detectives. Detectives gotta be the psychopaths, what with the way they have to understand all those goddamn serial killers; why their MO is what it is. 'S the whole behavioral thing, the psych shebang.” Taehyung reached out in a gesture, twisting his hand for greater impact. It doesn't quite have the effect that he wanted.

Jimin blinked. He looked like the utter epitome of impassiveness. “Taetae, we have sex around the blood of victims.” He set his jaw, pressing his lips down into a firm line.

“Which are usually in vials being centrifuged. For analysis.” Taehyung’s tone turned bleak, brows knitted as he turned to face Jimin. He refused to lose this argument. Would it even be considered an argument? Maybe they'd have to settle at the impasse yet again, but he hoped that it wouldn't come to it.

“Look.” Jimin lifted his hand off the gear shift to gesture balefully. “There’s this darkness in the world, real darkness. Shit we gotta see every day. Something like sublime horrors, y'know? What a normal person couldn’t handle on a day to day basis.” He paused to collect his thoughts, allowing Taehyung to interject.

“Why do I get the feeling that this is a conversation you’ve had with Namjoon before, one when you had transferred to our division,” Taehyung said this carefully, watching as Jimin’s hands tremble, shaking with memory. They never really spoke about Jimin’s demotion to the police sector. Jimin ignored his implication, choosing to respond with a shaky smile, turning his head slightly to display that he was alright. Shaken, but alright. Functional, at the very least.

Taehyung then pulled out the spare box of cigarettes he was looking for and a lighter, picking two out and lighting the filters of each. While taking a drag of his own, coughing slightly at the tar entering his lungs, he handed one to Jimin. His boyfriend looked at him gratefully, taking his hand off the gear to suck on the cigarette, inhaling the smoke and letting it waft out of his lips.

They smoked quietly for a few minutes, Jimin letting the cigarette remain between his lips as he overtook yet another car, merging back from the oncoming lane. Taehyung waited patiently for Jimin’s response, raising an eyebrow at the elder.

Finally, Jimin took the cigarette out of his mouth, far calmer than before he’d begun smoking. He rolled the stick between his fingers just as he changed gears, letting his eyes flicker between Taehyung and the long stretch of the highway. “‘Cuz I have. But that's beside the point. We’ve become desensitized, you can’t disagree with me on that. Me even more so, you know why they let me go at the bureau four years ago.”

Taehyung grunted out a reluctant agreement; Jimin used to lecture on investigation sciences and work as a consultant on cases with the government investigation bureau, but he’d seen true horrors on the job, horrors that still awoke him most nights in the form of dreams. After a particularly tedious and gruesome case that used him as a sort of last resort— one that he still refused to speak about with Taehyung—and with his state of mind in question, he’d been demoted to the police department, where he’d then met Taehyung.

“And to be honest, can’t really feel pity for them either. They’re just bodies to us anyways. Words on a file, pictures on film. Sad to say—”

“—but true,” Taehyung sighed, begrudgingly. It hurt to make the admission. He lowered his head, chin almost touching his chest. He took another big swig of his coffee, choking at the taste.

“Anyways, I can’t be a psychopath, ‘s not psychologically possible.”

“Why because you can feel things?”

“Because I believe others can feel as well. I mean that’s honestly the difference between sociopaths and psychopaths, is it not?” Jimin took another drag of his cigarette, switching hands to tap the ashes out of the window. Taehyung mimicked him but chose to stub out his own into the ashtray lying on the dashboard instead, the taste of tobacco dampening his mood significantly. Usually, he smoked only to alleviate Jimin's fear that he was smoking too much.

Taehyung hummed, closing his eyes.

“What’re we investigating again? Thought this was open and shut for us. It’s what they told us”

“Because they—”

“They, as in Hobi,” Taehyung interjected.

“As in Hobi,” Jimin sighed, shaking his head at Taehyung for the correction. “They think it was a family member. We’re there to see if there are any samples in her room and near the living room, where she was murdered.”

“Shit,” Taehyung rasped, clearing his throat. He swallowed, licking his dry lips. His tongue feels brittle with cigarette ash, even though he'd stubbed his cigarette out already. He took his thermos and tilted the remainder of his coffee into his mouth, to wash away the taste of nicotine.

“Shit indeed,” Jimin breathed, sucking in one more drag of his cigarette before handing it to Taehyung to stub out. He gratefully accepted the thermos of coffee, washing his mouth of the tobacco with the unsweetened beverage.

They arrived shortly afterward, meeting Hoseok two blocks away from the house so they could all walk in together.

“Looked at the pics, yeah?” Hoseok asked as they walk up the steps to the one-story home.

Jimin made a noncommittal noise in the back of his throat. He ducked his head.

“Dunno why you needed us here, Seok,” Taehyung commented, tapping the tip of his nose. “‘S not like we’re gonna be of any use outside the lab.”

“Well. Just tell me if you find residue semen,” Hoseok responded, looking lowly when Taehyung jumped at the insinuation.

Jimin, however, nodded with an unsurprised manner. He looked almost bored.The discovery pictures showed fruit flies surrounding the little girl’s genitalia. Her top half had been covered enough, but when she had been found, she hadn’t even been wearing panties.

“Disgusting lot, they are,” Taehyung whispered, horrified. He’d seen cases like this many times; he wasn’t surprised, but it still didn’t stop the heartache that he felt whenever he’d attend to something of this calibre. His head bowed in sympathy just as Hoseok rapped on the door.

The door opened to reveal a young woman, who burst into tears at the sight of the three officers.

“Ma’am?” Hoseok’s eyes snapped into a more comforting look, warmth exuding off of him. Taehyung could feel Jimin’s disgust at Hoseok’s saccharine voice behind him. It was fake, everything they did was fake. It was an art, the way they fauxed sympathy in order to get closer to the family of the victim and unravel the seems of the crime.

Really, they weren’t all that different from the criminals they were protecting civilians against.

“You’ve al-already come twice—what else do you need from me, detective. I’m not getting my little girl back anyways.” The woman shuddered at the realization, though it had been at least a week of investigations over the homicide already.

Maybe he was too fragile for this, but as they stepped through the entranceway, Taehyung couldn’t help but wince. He almost—he would have had he not been in this line of business for his ability to deal with gore—turned away, the images of the scene still lingering in his mind. The girl had been murdered right here, brutally cut open and possibly raped.

The morticians had inklings that there was assault involved and that’s why they were there. To make sure that their thoughts were right.

“Why don’t you come with me into your kitchen. I want to ask you a few more follow-up questions,” Hoseok said calmly, steering the woman—likely the mother—away. The woman let out a shuddering sob but still nodded, trailing after Hoseok in her own house.

“Okay.” Jimin rubbed his hands, cheerfully. Taehyung dully wondered where his pouty boyfriend from the morning went. “Let’s analyze this bitch.”

“Please don’t say bitch, bad thoughts Min, bad thoughts,” Taehyung muttered, jerking his head with wide eyes towards the kitchen.

“Fuck, I’d forgotten.” Jimin’s eyes tilt downwards in his admission, immediately apologetic. Taehyung doesn’t say anything, knowing Jimin probably did truly forget where he was—who he was with. The atmosphere present in the room. Sometimes he worried about his boyfriend’s state of mind; he was the one to work the most on cases of mass murder victims while still at NIS, despite being more in the lab than on the field. The exposure was what fucked even the best of them up, after all.

“‘S alright, Jiminnie, not your fault. ‘S the fault of people being so goddamn shitty that they can’t seem to control their psychosexual issues.”

Jimin ignored him, peering up the dark staircase. “What’re we doing then? Dusting for prints and looking for a murder weapon? Isn’t that what the detectives do, why the hell are we here.”

“You’re the one who offered.”

“I know, but it doesn’t mean I wanna be here.”

“True.”

“Semen, we’re looking for semen. Poor girl,” Jimin whispered, lips downturned. He closed his eyes for a short moment, then opened them with fire in his irises. “Wanna put this sick bastard behind bars for the rest of his life. Fry ‘im in the fucking chair.”

“Easy there, Min. We’re not the arresting officers, we’re not provided the distinction to arrest.”

“Fucking. God, I know, ‘s just. Parallels from before, y’know? And, what kind of sick bastar—”

“Don’t worry, Hoseok’ll get him. ‘S why we’re here. If we can find semen or blood or anything to get us the DNA of the psychopath, then he can arrest him. Simple as that.”

Jimin swallowed past the lump in his throat and Taehyung sighed. He wanted to soothe the wrinkles forming in Jimin’s brow, but they had a job to do.

“Right. Then you swab that side,” Jimin jerked his chin towards the stairwell, where there evidently hadn’t been any cleaning done for the better part of a month, well before the murder had even happened. They’d find too many goddamn contaminants in their samples to properly tell of whether there was anything to make a proper case out of.

“And I’ll take out the phosphorescence kit. See if there’s any blood lying beneath the hardwood, something we can run tests on.” Jimin’s voice pierced through Taehyung’s thoughts, and he merely nodded, mechanically walking over to the railing of the stairwell.

Snapping on his gloves, he gingerly opened a few vials, setting the acids onto the second step; he’d need them to visualize the area he could center his sampling in on.

“You bring your DSLR?” Jimin asked suddenly, after about ten minutes of their working. Hoseok’s voice filtered out from the kitchen area, he was still comforting the mother while questioning her.

“Yeah, it’s in the car. You know I never go to a crime scene without it. Why?” Taehyung squinted at the small notebook he had brought with him to write down observations, twirling his pen between his fingers. There was something unknown, underneath all the ammonia and dust and fingerprints that were present on the stairwell.

“Look ‘ere.” Jimin looked disturbed, his first change in expression from the general nonplussed attitude he had been trying so hard to maintain. Taehyung had to squint to properly see what Jimin was holding up, already regretting not bringing his glasses along to the crime scene.

There were large flakes of skin where he was crouched, stuck and almost indistinguishable against the cream-colored, yet grungy, carpeted floor.

Bile rose up in Taehyung throat and he dry heaved, choking at the sight.

“Is that—” he managed once he got a grip on himself. It was one thing to see amputated limbs on the job—something he’d been prepared for at the academy he’d attended, something he’d occasionally seen on the job with the police—but, it was another thing to see the shriveled skin, carelessly stuck as if whoever had murdered the little girl didn’t have enough conscience to fucking clean his tracks.

Jimin jerked his chin down once, confirming his thoughts. A sob resounded out of the kitchen and the woman yelled something defensively about her boyfriend, the victim’s soon-to-be stepfather, disappearing right after her murder. Taehyung stiffened at the conversation that was occurring deeper within the house, wondering what sort of pedophile they were truly dealing with.

“We’d need to run it against the database to make sure, but… yeah. Pretty certain, in fact.” There was no indication on Jimin’s face that he’d heard what Taehyung just had, that he was paying attention to Hoseok’s interrogation.

He turned the pieces over, and the stark change in his facial expressions was laughable. Jimin looked mesmerized at the evidence he had just stumbled upon whilst searching for what they were told to find: semen.

The skin was most definitely not from the killer, had the little girl fought back. No, they were far too large to be.

Taehyung had hoped to hell that the little girl had fought back in the vicinity of her own home, against what he presumed to be the mother’s leering boyfriend, but there was a chance—a strong one at that—that he’d amputated the child while she was still alive, a satisfactory token of his successful kill.

“Who—whose is it?” He asks gingerly, broaching the topic slightly terrified.

“The girl’s,” Jimin’s voice held an air of finality that his voice usually never had in cases like this. Sureness was a rarity in their workplace, especially in such an early stage of a case.

“And if we’re wrong?” Taehyung’s voice cracked; he hated Jimin for making him come out and help with this case, hated that his boyfriend was only slightly disturbed by his theory and not at the crime. That Jimin had been placed into their department after being let go by the bureau to save his psyche after dealing with criminals like this one.

“Then we hope to all hell that the bastard is in the system already, that he’s just as shit at running away as he is while raping a little fucking girl, his own fucking stepdaughter. Well, his future stepdaughter.”

Taehyung flinched, inching his hand close to where the pieces laid. It was like the victim had been shred to pieces what with how visible they were.

Visible to the naked eye due to their sheer size—not color. Upon further investigation, which Taehyung had to do with a staunchly blank facade else Jimin’d see right through him, the flakes lacked pigment. They were greyish against the cream-colored and dust-ridden carpeting. Taehyung watched as Jimin’s shoulders slackened through his periphery, the elder bending forward and pointing out the scuffed molding.

Foul play at its finest.

Taehyung fell back from his kneeled position into a more comfortable sitting one. He picked up a few pieces of skin to analyze, marveling at their texture.

Rubbery, yet frail. He could easily tear the piece in half if he wanted to.

“You think he peeled it off her while she was still breathing?” Taehyung questioned. “Sick bastard,” he added as an afterthought.

Jimin’s breath hitched at the remark.

“Could’ve also done it right after death,” A spark in Jimin’s eyes. “Betting he’d done it before. Learned from his mistakes after realizing that a post-mortem… injury would leave less of a trail.”

Taehyung exhaled a sigh of minimal relief. “Guess that’s a small victory. Perp isn’t much of a sadist. But he still skins every little girl he can get his grimy, psychopathic hands on. Fucking disgusting pedo. You think he skins them like that one flick? Shining of the Lambs was it?”

Jimin barked out a short, hard laugh. Full of disbelief. “Guess so. And Silence of the Lambs. Prob’ly not though. Else he’d left too many fucking pieces behind for him to stitch himself his own skinsuit.”

“Huh.” Taehyung flipped over a particularly large piece. The rubbery organ flopped to the dermal side and the slightest bit of dried blood flaked off.

He wasn’t squeamish—it was practically a job requirement to not be. He’d dealt with things far worse than a few post-mortem and balefully cut pieces of skin.

Hell, he’d watched numerous autopsies, a necessity for his graduate program years ago, and had even assisted in them.

Though he wasn’t an official ME, he could perform autopsies in an emergency without batting an eyelid.

And he didn’t believe in binary matters. He was more of a grey area enthusiast, after all. He had to be, in his line of work.

But, it didn’t change the fact that something about this case, about the house itself, didn’t sit right inside him. Something far more sinister than he’d thought while flipping through the case file.

It was the implication, the meaning, and intention behind the homicide. A man was preying on children, young girls specifically, in all the horrific ways possible.

Taehyung felt like throwing up.

“Hey,” Jimin whispered, placing his gloved hand on Taehyung’s. “You okay?”

Taehyung kept his eyes pinpointed on the carpet. He felt a little hazy. His mouth filled with a rancid taste.

“Yeah, m’fine. Just—” he inhaled a deep breath to steady himself, clutching at the carpet. “Just sad.”

Jimin’s eyes dulled with a realization, the fire from earlier fading, and his grip tightened on Taehyung’s arm. His fingers dug in, almost painfully, as he stiffened with the epiphany.

“What is it?” Taehyung asked softly. He knew this look, it was rare, but always there whenever Jimin awoke in the middle of the night from a nightmare—no, a memory—sweating and frenzied.

“You know, I think we dealt with this—this predator before,” Jimin’s voice suddenly broke with the presumption, leaving Taehyung at a loss. Jimin was, after all, better at maintaining a straight face. “When I was still at the bureau. A lil’ over four years ago,” he clarified, running his gloved hand down his face wearily. He looked exhausted; sleep deprivation was yet another con of the job. The mother’s voice filtered back to the front of the house, shrilly as Hoseok asked her something particularly intrusive about her boyfriend.

Taehyung started. Was this the case that had resulted in Jimin’s removal from the bureau? They never really talked about it, even after all this time, even while living together. Jimin was staunch in hiding those residues of his time at NIS. “What do you mean, Min?”

“He does this thing,” Jimin began, his voice adopting a faraway tone as he started to recall the past case. “He taunted us, leaving pieces of fucking skin like some sort of goddamn witches’ trail, all from little girls, carelessly and taunting. Careless because he would take months before popping up again, dating the mothers of his victims until he struck. I was on the case for over two years, but I was never really allowed to confront him because I was just the science guy, of course. Despite that, you had to be trained in weaponry if you were an agent, despite whatever the fuck your actual contribution was.”

“Was he…” Taehyung trailed off, leaving the unspoken question hanging dryly in the air. He hoped that it wasn’t true, but Jimin seemed to grasp what he was saying immediately and with one nod, confirmed his thoughts.

Jimin rose, hands shaking as he patted his pockets down for the car keys. “Yeah. He’s the goddamn reason I was let go from the bureau.” Taehyung flinched, but Jimin pressed on, an unforgiving tone evident in his voice. Unforgiving towards himself. Full of survivor’s guilt, as if it was his fault.

“It’s why I’m with you at the police department now.” His voice had an air of finality in it, mixed with the slightest sound of defeat. His shoulders slouched, stress lining every dip, every part of his skin. “Be right back with the camera.”

Taehyung could only manage a short nod; there was nothing else to alleviate some of the shock that was still sounding through him. He couldn’t blame Jimin for wanting to avoid any further talk of this; it confused Taehyung too and it obviously already took enough out of Jimin.

What was supposed to be a case of a single homicide just became far more insidious and bigger than they had anticipated.

“There’s a new pack of cigarettes in the compartment between the seats. The one in the glove compartment has just the last one left and I don’t think you want to smoke that one,” Taehyung finally called out softly, just as Jimin’s about to shut the front door behind him, realizing that this was definitely more than just traumatizing for his boyfriend.

The elder ducked his head in thanks, the distinct sound of their car being unlocked the only noise in their surroundings.

Taehyung shook his head, crouching back down to pick up the magnifying glass and turn on his phone’s flashlight.

The reveal is far more incriminating than Jimin had let on and the realization had Taehyung brushing his finger at the edge of the carpet, right next to the line of the wallpaper.

He shuddered in disgust at the pure crumb-like particles that attach themselves to his latexed hand, creamy yet greyish in appearance. He’d never thought he was ever going to deal with a fucking skinner, of all the tracks of killers that his job could’ve brought him to hyper-analyze.

Taehyung’s stomach rumbled and he gagged; he didn’t think he could fathom having an appetite after they made the drive back home.

Jimin popped his head through the door, his hand displaying Taehyung’s camera. There was a cigarette in his other hand, and Taehyung watched as his throat slowly bobbed with the effort to try to speak.

Taehyung snapped his skin-covered gloves off and replaced them with a new pair, draping the old ones over his briefcase. He took the camera, handling it like a baby, before adjusting the lens to work in automatic.

Jimin remained halfway outside, finishing off his cigarette and far more calm than before. “Dunno why you like shooting in manual.”

Taehyung frowned, adjusting his aperture settings for the low light. He took a test shot, wincing when the flash went off. “Swear I took off the hard flash,” he muttered. “Manual’s always better for focusing, it brings out the most important thing you want,” he responded to Jimin, taking another test shot. He hummed, satisfied with the way it turned out.

“Yeah, but. I dunno, doesn’t it take longer?” Jimin had his cigarette between his lips then, lips skeptically pursed around the filter.

Taehyung crouched down until he could get a good eye at the molding of the wall. He could see the pieces of the now-dead skin with his naked eye, had to barely zoom on his camera to properly focus in on them.

“Not at all, Min.” Taehyung clicked a shot, then two more, and adjusted his position. He repeated the process a few times before turning to look up at Jimin, who’s now resting against the edge of the doorway, the smoke wafting out of his lips slowly.

“C’mere. Display ‘em on your hand, need a better view,” Taehyung said to Jimin, tilting his head towards the pieces of evidence. He motioned to the elder, a pleading look encased in his pursed lips.

Jimin frowned, taking in a final drag before stubbing out the last bit of his cigarette. He wiped his hands on his trousers and stepped back inside, sitting where Taehyung directed him and snapping a new pair of gloves on. He tilted his head, straining his ears to try and listen in on the murmurs from the kitchen, but it was to no avail.

Taehyung paid Jimin’s expression no mind, merely directed his hand to in front of his lens.

“Wait.” Taehyung squinted, taking his eye off the viewfinder. He set the camera down onto the carpet gingerly, praying that there weren’t pieces of skin wedged in between the wool. How did the mother not even notice the sinister trail her boyfriend had left?

Or, had she noticed and chosen to ignore them, chosen to not mention it to the morticians?

Taehyung suspected it was the latter.

He rummaged through his briefcase, pulling out a white board for Jimin to lay the evidence upon. It’d be easier to image the pieces of skin on the board. “Here, take this instead.” He handed it to Jimin, who tipped his hand over and spread out the pieces gingerly. Taehyung almost gagged again, it was something about the emotionless way with which Jimin was handling the skin that didn’t sit well with him.

Taehyung snapped another shot, ignoring the way Jimin’s lips purse, completely dissatisfied.

“Here, take these,” Taehyung murmured, after finishing with the shots they’d need for later. He opened his briefcase, handing Jimin an empty vial to pour the pieces into. The elder does it quickly, eyebrows knitting in concentration so as to not lose a single piece. Taehyung took the vial back, setting it next to the vials of luminol that they’d brought from the lab.

“Hey, ‘s gonna be fine alright?” He watched as Jimin’s throat bobbed, his head ducking down in a slow nod.

“Might… might ask to get taken off it,” Jimin whispered, twisting his hands, fidgeting with the edge of his blazer.

“That bad?”

Jimin met Taehyung’s eyes with pure, unadulterated fear. Fear and hatred. “Don’t want ‘im in my head again. Don’t ever wanna see ‘im again.”

“But Hoseok’s the one on the case.”

“And we’re the ones in the lab—fuck. Why’d I fucking let Hoseok convince me to tag along? To put both of us on the case.” Jimin shuddered, voice trembling. “Can’t—I won’t do this again, Tae.”

“Hey, hey,” Taehyung spoke gently, scooting until he could take Jimin’s tense hands into his own. He thumbed his palms, hating the resulting friction from the latex, trying to relax the elder. “Listen, if this guy’s who you say he is, then local’s gonna have to give it to the feds. Or the feds will be micromanaging us every step of the way and we won’t even come into contact.”

Jimin’s breath hitched and Taehyung pushed on.

“Just because… he fucked with your brain years ago and got away, doesn’t mean you should just let him. Fucker doesn’t deserve to not fry. Not after all he’s gotten away with.” Taehyung said slowly, not wanting to offend his partner.

An exhale slowly fell from Jimin’s lips and he leaned further into Taehyung’s touch. “I guess.” He paused to look at Taehyung’s properly, into his eyes. He was utterly terrified at the idea of having to deal with this serial killer again.

Taehyung rubbed his boyfriend’s shoulder, bringing his other hand up to lift his chin. His eyes fell to Jimin’s lips, to the way he unsurely bit his lower lip.

Just as he was about to press a gentle peck on the elder’s lips, however, voices can be heard getting louder.

“Thanks for everything, ma’am,” Hoseok exited the kitchen into the main hallway, the mother trailing after him. He frowned at the way Jimin was curled in Taehyung’s arms with closed eyes. “And… I’m sorry. She went too soon.” Hoseok dipped his head down in respect as the mother released yet another sob, pressing her fingers to her lips.

Jimin and Taehyung separated, standing up and dusting off their pants. Taehyung calmly put the case file vials of skin and luminol back into his briefcase, hiding the former from the mother.

He wanted to show her the evidence and question her. Wanted to ask her what sort of sick psycho skinned little girls after raping and murdering them, but chose not to. It wasn’t the mother’s fault that she happened to begin dating a pedophilic serial killer with a penchant for such a unique MO.

“Don’t”—the mother sniffed, smiling tearfully. Taehyung was a little creeped out by how quickly she was able to compose herself, wiping away the welling tears immediately—“don’t hesitate to phone me if you need anything more.”

Hoseok gave her a tight-lipped smile and tapped the file in his hands, suppressing whatever was arising in him. “We’ll be sure to, ma’am.”

“Thanks again,” Jimin repeated softly, his hand turning the doorknob and stepping out immediately afterward.

The trio walked outside of the house quickly, Hoseok taking the lead as he turned off the driveway onto the sidewalk.

He shook his head as he finally paused walking, three houses down from where they just were. “That house isn’t right. There’s something in there, something sinister that isn’t right.”

Jimin’s hand pulled out the box of cigarettes from his pocket, taking one for himself before offering the tobacco to the other two. Hoseok ducked his head down in gratitude as he too pulled one out and placed it between his lips. Jimin brought out his lighter, clicking the wheel open as Hoseok sucked at the cigarette filter, cupping his hands to get a better light.

Jimin then lit his own cigarette, eyebrows knitting in concentration to get a good flame on the paper. Taehyung watched the pair mutely, quelling the urge to give into the unspoken peer pressure and take a cigarette for himself.

After a few quiet moments, Hoseok spoke up again. “She didn’t deny his tendencies. I mean... she didn’t deny the fact that he preyed upon her daughter. Sweet lady, but dunno, something’s off. Entire conversation weirded me out. She was… too happy, too willing to give out all the details. Look. Don’t get me wrong”—Hoseok jerked his head at the still pristine lawn as if a tragedy hadn’t befallen the household—“I ‘preciate her willingness to talk and her honesty. Genuinely do. But, something wasn’t—isn’t—right in that house.”

Jimin remained mute, refusing to voice his own speculation out loud. Speak of his past at NIS, his failure in helping catch the probable perpetrator now.

“Hoseok, look.” Taehyung tugged on the elder’s arm, jerking his head back at the house they were just in. The blinds fluttered visibly—the mother was evidently trying to peak at what they were doing, still lingering around in the neighborhood—just as the trio turned.

Jimin stuck his cigarette back between his lips, letting the smoke trail out as he pulled both Hoseok and Taehyung across the street to their cars, that were hidden by a set of aged trees.

“‘S not just foul play, not jus' something fishy,’” Jimin finally said, leaning against the passenger door of their car. Taehyung pushed down the thoughts of how hot his boyfriend looked, smoking while in his suit trouser combination, his carefully styled hair downright sinful.

He’d forgotten to mention to Jimin in the morning how much he wanted to bend him over their kitchen table when he wore that suit. He flushed a little bit, ears warming at the thought. Now was not the time, he mentally berated himself, tuning back into the conversation.

“—ink I’ve dealt with… him in the past.” Smoke tendrils curl around Jimin’s fingers, wafting out of his nose and from between his lips.

Hoseok adopted the same expression that Taehyung’s sure he had been sporting at the house.

“What d’you mean?” Hoseok cocked his head, squinting at Jimin in disbelief. “You let him get away?”

Jimin physically deflated. He inhaled a deeper breath and Taehyung could see his free hand clenched into a loose fist. “The bureau let him get away. Not me. Wasn’t even fucking allowed out on the field in pursuit of the bastard, was just fucking stuck on the bench. Don’t fucking blame me, least I know this… skinning monster’s tactics. His trail, so to speak.”

Jimin’s eyes held a challenge in them, one that Hoseok backed off from immediately. He had the decency to look the slightest bit ashamed at his assumption. His lips form into an apology, but couldn’t vocalize the words, for Jimin ignored him to push onwards.

“We found at least a vial’s worth of dried, dead skin. Peeled off from the victim right after she died, probably, torn into these… these disgusting pieces.”

“Found residues of blood on the stairwell too,” Taehyung interrupted, watching as both Jimin’s and Hoseok’s eyes snap towards him. “Have to check the age and stuff, date the samples, but they were there.”

“You didn’t mention it earlier,” Jimin whispered. It didn’t really change much, just that there was far more to consider than the actual crime. Taehyung lifted a shoulder in a half-shrug.

“Thought the skin pieces were, y’know, more important than the blood residues. I mean, blood was supposed to be there anyway. Being the sight of the murder and all… the only confounding factor is that I found it on the stairwell. Not in the living room where the crime happened, you know?”

Hoseok dropped his cigarette, making a nonsensical noise in the back of his throat, using the toe of his shoe to stub it out. Jimin mimicked him, taking one final drag and licking his lips as he crushed the filter of the cigarette.

He looked at his watch, the Rolex glinting in the sunlight.

“Well,” Hoseok began with a sigh. “Gotta get back to the precinct and read through my notes from that shitshow of an interview. Clock in some overtime, do some write-ups regarding the rape-murder, call some guys I know at the bureau with access to this guy’s files. See if he’s the right one.”

Jimin’s fingers lingered near the bridge of his nose, pressing into the inner corners of his eyes. Taehyung shuffled closer to him, bringing his hand to his elbow to comfort him.

“Yeah, so should we. Get home, I mean. We both got put on the night shift this week,” Taehyung said. He shifted his hand to curl around Jimin’s waist, bringing the elder in close. Jimin sagged a little into Taehyung’s grip and there was a wave of adoration that flooded inside Taehyung at the trust Jimin placed in him.

Hoseok nodded slowly, shuffling around the front to open the door to his vintage Dodge Challenger. The car’s body shook a little as he slid inside, dropping the case files next to him before revving up the engine. He lifted a hand back in goodbye before driving off to make it to the precinct as quickly as possible.

Jimin turned then, hiding his face into the crook of Taehyung’s neck, his breathing shaky and muffled. Taehyung’s hand automatically comes up to brush against his hair, threading his fingers through the fine strands. He wished there was something more that he could do other than hold Jimin, anything besides the simple act of comfort.

“Good?” Taehyung asked after a little bit, concerned.

Jimin managed a small nod into Taehyung’s chest, choosing to remain silent.

“We should get home, Min,” Taehyung whispered softly then, not wanting to push his boyfriend. Jimin pulled off slightly, looking into his eyes dully. He nodded, frowning as he stepped back from their embrace, stumbling slightly. “I’ll drive,” Taehyung said, palm displayed in wait of the car keys.

Jimin took them out of his pocket, handing them to Taehyung, who noted his shaking fingers with a frown.

They sat down quickly, Jimin taking out his fourth cigarette of the day and lighting it quickly while Taehyung put their lab kit in the backseat before sitting in the driver’s seat.

He turned on the engine and released the clutch, crawling slowly out of the neighborhood, while Jimin turned towards the open window, tapping the ashes out. Smoke curled out from his nostrils slowly and he sighed, leaning against the headrest.

“Hell’uva day, hm?” Taehyung asked, keeping his eyes on the road. He tapped the steering wheel gingerly, loosening his grip on it.

“Yeah,” Jimin exhaled softly, taking another drag right after. “Just… shocked. Angry.” He licked his lips, keeping focused on the way the cigarette’s end remained a steady, muted orange hue.

Taehyung hummed in understanding. Of course, he’d be. If his hunch was right and it was the serial killer that had evaded his team at the intelligence bureau years ago, then he had every right to be pissed. He took Jimin’s hand into his own, squeezing it,  his thumb gentle at the junction of his palm, momentarily before placing it back on the gearshift.

“You know… you could ask Song if you could get taken off… get placed on a different case,” Taehyung mentioned, partially lifting up his shoulder.

Jimin made a nonsensical noise in disagreement. “No I… don’t want to let the bastard get away this time. Don’t care if Hobi’s the one who’s making the calls now, I can’t let him out again.”

“Jimin, you didn’t ‘let’ him get away last time either.” Taehyung lifted his hand off the gearshift to air-quote the word. He didn’t turn towards his boyfriend until they reached the stop sign, using the clutch to get to a full stop. Taehyung unfastened his seatbelt to take Jimin’s face into both of his hands, letting his eyes travel over Jimin’s worn expression.

The elder’s fist slackened and he tapped the cigarette’s ashes outside, refusing to face Taehyung.

“Look at me, Jimin,” Taehyung whispered. He was so goddamn sad of how defeated Jimin seemed, how he could barely hold on just by the sole prospect of his past coming back to haunt him.

Instead, Jimin scoffed, rubbing the tip of his nose bitterly. “Tell that to the bureau. ‘M just as at fault as the rest of the case officers.” He crushed his cigarette into the ashtray, pressing the filter down hard until the paper crumbled. An unsatisfied breath fell from his lips. He looked tired, tears pricking the corners of his eyes at the sheer enormity of it all.

“You’re not at fault, I swear to you. ‘S not your fault that this motherfucker is the type to take his chances and flee.” Taehyung pressed a kiss to the corner of Jimin’s mouth trying to reassure him.

Jimin brought his hands up to interlock with Taehyung’s fingers, leaning into the touch. He felt mellow. Calm, finally. Subdued, even. “Yeah, yeah I guess. It’s just… I don’t want to… dunno. Don’t wanna fuck this up again. She would’ve been alive if we’d caught him the first time.”

There it was. The very basis of Jimin’s qualms. His guilt. Jimin frowned and wrinkles appeared on his brow, ones that Taehyung immediately used a hand to smooth out.

“I think we’ll be able to get him this time, Jimin, our team is good. And, Hoseok can get access to the files from the bureau so it’s not like we’re being forced to start anew.”

Jimin leaned forward, his eyes fluttering shut until his forehead touched Taehyung’s. His breathing was shallow, barely there, but Taehyung could still feel it on his lips. “Trust me,” Taehyung murmured, his lips pressing against Jimin’s chastely, trying to comfort his boyfriend. “It’ll be alright, I swear. And the second it gets to be too much, you pull out alright? I don’t give two shits about what Song says.”

Jimin made a noise of assent in the back of his throat, finally pursing his lips to kiss Taehyung back. He closed his eyes, softly pressing one, no two kisses onto Taehyung’s lips before pulling back to look into his eyes.

“Thanks, Tae. I love you,” Jimin whispered, his breath falling over Taehyung like a soft lullaby. He looked less worn, calmer if anything, though Taehyung didn’t know if it was because the nicotine had finally hit or because of his words. He chose to believe the latter though, knowing how often Jimin retreated into himself when something reminded him of his past at the bureau, something he couldn’t solve to this day.

It wasn’t trauma or anything sinister, but Taehyung knew that even as one of the CSIs for the bureau, Jimin had seen far more insidious things that Taehyung could even imagine seeing with the police precinct.

“Tae?” Jimin pulled Taehyung’s hand off him, placing it gingerly upon the gear shift, pulling Taehyung out of his thoughts. “Let’s go home, babe.” Taehyung swallowed past the lump in his throat and nodded, thumbing Jimin’s cheek before placing his other hand upon the steering wheel.

He released the clutch, inching forward on the street until he knew for sure that both he and Jimin would be alright.

“It’s fine Tae, promise. I swear,” Jimin murmured again, putting his hand on top of Taehyung’s, voice only a little convincing. Taehyung nodded with a sigh. He turned onto the ramp leading to the highway, thankful it was just a straight drive back now.

Jimin leaned into his shoulder, turning his head to press his lips onto his blazer jacket, and shifting as close as he could get without disturbing him from driving. Taehyung linked his fingers with Jimin, squeezing them in comfort, and leaned his head against the headrest.

They would be alright and they, along with the help of the precinct, would catch the fucker who murdered, raped, skinned little girls. They would find him and make him pay for all his wrongdoings.

Chapter Text

“Oh, come on,” a complaining voice filtered through the lab. Like deer in headlights, the pair immediately paused; Taehyung's lips right at the junction of Jimin's throat, and Jimin's hands clutched tightly into Taehyung's hair. Jimin's fingers encircled Taehyung's dick—they didn't have lube, so they could only make do with terribly positioned handjobs.

Jimin’s eyes widened at the unmistakable whine of a certain doe-eyed, bunny-toothed intern and shoved Taehyung off of him immediately.

“Oomph, babe, seriously?” Taehyung groaned on the floor, rubbing his ass quietly. “Couldn’t have done that softly? And after I came?”

“Shit. Shit, shit, shit,” Jimin hissed, shoving his boxers on as quickly as he could. “I do not want to greet Jeongguk naked again. Very much like keeping my junk as a thing between us. They're legitimately going to—and, no, I am not being dramatic—kill us if we keep being horny at work.”

Taehyung looked at him. “Why wouldn’t you wanna show your di—ouch! Careful with the goods, Min! Jesus, neither do I, chill. I’m being quiet, ‘m putting my clothes on, no need to be so hostile!" 

By the time Jeongguk hesitantly peeked through the door to the investigation lab, both Jimin and Taehyung were dressed to the best of their ability.

“Gross,” the youngest remarked, scrunching his nose up as he shuffled in. He didn't seem awfully annoyed, not yet at least; in fact, his mood was strangely chipper for having found the pair in the state that they were.

The scene was comical, to say the least. Jimin’s only wearing boxers and socks, his pants draped over the back of his chair haphazardly along with his belt. His button-up was poorly buttoned and it appeared as though he hazardously threw his white coat and glasses on. Taehyung was no different, but at least he had his loafers on as well.  

“Hey, Gguk! Fancy seeing you here!” Jimin’s voice was far too casual. Innocent. He sounded high-strung, voice cracking with the pitch it had reached. “We’re just, y’know, studying our samples. No biggie. Definitely not fucking again, how dare you even think to make that insinuation.”

“Oh man, Gguk your aura. It’s… blinding. Turn down the negativity, will ya?” Jeongguk looked at them dryly, disgust seeping through his every pore.

“Maybe if you guys kept your office fucking to the break or locker room, I wouldn’t be looking at you like this!”

“Maybe if you confessed to Yoongi, you’d be doing the same thing as us,” Jimin commented, picking at his fingernails. His eyes widen upon remembering that they are, in fact, inside of a laboratory and quickly slid on a pair of gloves.

Jeongguk’s ears turned pink. “Psh,” Jeongguk reciprocated, looking anywhere but Taehyung’s shit-eating grin. “Psh, as if—psh, I don’t. No, I don’t like him, psh." 

It looked as though Jeongguk was one ‘psh’ away from shoving the couple away from him; the thought likely occurred to Jimin as well, what with the way he begins to instantly snicker after meeting Taehyung’s gaze.

“Hurtful,” another voice filtered through the lab and Yoongi came through, hands pocketed in his lab coat. “After you stayed over last night and I drove you here with me, at that.”

Jimin rose an eyebrow just as Jeongguk sputtered, denying everything hastily.

“It’s not what you think!” 

“Huh,” Taehyung said dryly. “It seems like you two fucked last night then Yoongi brought you over to chill while he helped us with stuff.”

Jeongguk whined, protesting. “We just watched movies! Yoongi, c’mon, help a guy out!”

“Netflix and chill, huh? You know, Gguk, never really pegged you for the type. Thought you were more of a romantic bitch.”

“And maybe Yoongi doesn’t like lying, hm?” Taehyung added to Jimin’s sentence.

Psh, lies,” were the only words Jeongguk could manage to say. Even his voice was unconvincing. Jimin lifted his hand up and Taehyung high-fived him without looking, the pair smirking.

“Actually, we really just cuddled,” Yoongi said, finally coming to Jeongguk’s defense.  

Thank you, see!”

“Somehow, I think cuddling involves feelings. Better for our insinuations.” Jimin looked down at his gloved hands, a cheery grin lining his lips. “Thanks for supporting our conclusions!”

Jeongguk sagged into one of the benches with a groan. “There’s no winning with you guys, is there. 

“Nope!” Jimin said cheerily. His eyes scrunched up and Taehyung had to force down a coo over how gorgeous his boyfriend was. The matter of their sexual activity had been properly avoided. 

“We should’ve become detectives, Jiminnie.”

“Damn, you’re right Taetae. We should’ve. Damn.”

Jeongguk glared at them, sliding down further on the bench.

“Are you guys here to do actual work, or because you felt like role-playing today?” Yoongi asked dryly, crossing his arms.

Jimin began to sputter in turn. “We had a case! One thing just led to another, you can’t blame me. Or us. If anything, you should blame Namjoon.” 

“Namjoon,” Yoongi repeated slowly as if he couldn’t believe his ears.

“Yeah,” Taehyung continued, nodding seriously. “Namjoonie technically caused this. If you want to point fingers.”

“And how’s that.” Jeongguk, meanwhile, was glaring at the floor, as if it personally offended him.

“If you think about it, he was the one who bet that we wouldn’t last two days without sex.”

Yoongi looked as if he was punched in the gut. “Aren’t you just proving him right?”

“Well, yes—”Jimin sniffed, upturning his nose.

“—but he was also the one who didn’t consider the immense sexual tension that would ensue,” Taehyung finished, somberly. Jimin rolled his eyes for dramatic effect, crossing his arms across his chest.

Yoongi looked as though he was at a loss for words. “... TMI guys… seriously?”

“I repeat. All Namjoon’s fault." Taehyung nodded in agreement, his face the epitome of seriousness.

Yoongi sighed, shaking his head in disbelief. “Alright, whatever. Why’d you call me here.”

“Oh!” Jimin perked up. He brandished an arm to the space behind him, at the centrifugation machines. “We got some blood and saliva running in there. Wanted to see if you could help read these autopsy reports the medical examiners sent over to us. Need to check out the BAC and shit.” 

“Vic’ was drinking?”

“Yeah. Fell off a building. Or well, Joon says it was possible someone pushed her."

“Shit, homicide?”

Taehyung nodded solemnly. “Pretty likely.”

Fuck, Song’s gonna be such a bitch to go through to get this out of accidents. Seokjin’s in homicide with Hoseok, yeah? Maybe he’ll help us out. Song thinks he’s ‘handsome and kind’—total fucking lie by the way, why are we even friends, he’s so mean—but, she’ll let him bypass the system faster.”

Jimin nodded mutely.

Jeongguk peeked up at the three, looking completely scandalized. “I like Song. Also, always looks at me like my brother does.”

Yoongi sighed, distastefully. “Of course you like her. You’re a kiss-ass. Seokjin’s just annoyed his jokes never work on you.”

“Hey!” Jeongguk yelped, offended. “She’s nice,” he tried to insist, undertones of a whine entering his voice.

“Once again it’s because you’re a bit of that pushover intern, Gguk.”

Ignoring Jeongguk’s subsequent indignant response, Yoongi looked at Jimin, confused. “What about the other case?” 

Jimin stiffened, immediately knowing what his question is in regards to. Still, he needed to confirm it. “What case?” He asks dully, an exhale tracing his words. 

“The Babyface Butcher. The one you went to the mother’s house with Tae and Hoseok for. With the little gi—” 

“I know who,” Jimin interrupted, voice unamused. He still hated the nickname his team at the bureau had come up with years ago when the killer first surfaced. He frowned, biting down on his lower lip. Taehyung’s arm immediately came up to rub at his back in comfort.

Yoongi raised an eyebrow, arms crossed in wait of a response.

Jimin sighed, squeezing the bridge of his nose. “Well, NIS has been informed. He’s theirs so… yeah. They’re sending an officer to head the case.”

Taehyung made a small noise in the back of his throat, unpleased. Both Yoongi and Jimin turn to him with raised eyebrows.

“What? ‘S not fair that the bureau gets the case when they didn’t—sorry babe, you know it’s true—when they never got him in the first place. Jus’ because we’re a ‘lowly’ precinct…”

“You know that’s exactly why, Tae. That’s how we all were like back at the bureau.” Taehyung bristled, not liking the way Jimin lumped himself in with the rest of the special agents as if he weren’t a full-blown CSI for the police now.

“‘S not fair when you do that.”

Jimin shrugged, weakly. Sadly. “It’s true, Taehyung.” His smile falls flat—tight and pained—and Taehyung could see how his hands shook, in want of a cigarette. Or a nicotine patch.

Yoongi looked at both of their faces, before clapping his hands. “Right, so instead of the Butcher case, let’s… let’s do what you called me and Gguk here to help you with.”

Taehyung kept his gaze on Jimin as he moved back to his monitor setup. He sifted through the files until he found the one they were currently working on and handed it to Jeongguk.

Jimin pressed down on the bridge of his nose and released a long sigh.

“So like we said before, the vic’ was a woman who potentially was pushed off from her balcony an’ fell fourteen-ish stories.”

“Gone splat.” Taehyung made a poofing motion with his hands. Jeongguk chuckled lowly under his breath.

Jimin rolled his eyes, before continuing. “Namjoon went to the medical examiners to grab the report and check out the details. He told us that according to them, she never drank all that much, to begin with.”

Yoongi looked back up at them with question in his eyes. “She take any pills on the reg? Or right before drinking?” He took the file from Jeongguk, flipping through the autopsy report.

“None that we know of.”

“Alright, so you’re running her blood to check out the details?”

“Yeppers.” Taehyung smacked his lips, leaning against the bench with crossed arms. 

“And… what about her body?”

“No marks that we saw. Besides, you know”—Jimin shrugged plainly, a smirk curling his lips—“her crushed head.”

Jeongguk snickered, muffling his mouth to dampen the noise.

“Real mature.” Yoongi rolled his eyes. “What d’you want me to do, then?”

Taehyung shrugged. “Your call. We’re a bit lost on what else to do.” 

“You have her clothes?” 

Taehyung jerked his chin towards the black garbage bag sitting on the other bench. “Everything we got from the ME’s office is in that bag. We should probably swab and scope.”

“Huh,” Yoongi commented, shuffling over to the bag and peering inside. He pulled out what appeared to be a set of bloodied silken pajamas and some zipped up jewelry. “There’s not much in ‘ere.”

“Yeah, vic’s family wanted most of it. For what, though, I dunno.”

“Keepsakes?” Jeongguk piped up. His voice faltered though when the trio looked at him in concern. “What? ‘S not weird, I swear!” 

“Sure, Gguk. Totally believe you.”

“Choi said a lot of families like to keep things of their dead loved ones!”

Yoongi groaned. “That bitch would know.”

A blaring sound—Jimin’s phone—disrupted the atmosphere. “Fuck,” Jimin hissed, patting down on the table. He sifted through the papers and file holders next to the desktop, finding his cell phone at the very bottom. By the time he got to it, the phone’s ringing stopped and the display went back to black. 

“Well, that’s that, I guess.” Jimin furrowed his eyebrows at the unknown number, shrugging because it obviously wasn’t important. “Anyways, what d’you suggest we do next for the case?”

Yoongi mulled over the question, tapping his finger on his lower lip. “Well has Namjoon gone up to the apartment?”

“Yep,” Taehyung smacked his lips. “Nothing there ‘sides the vic’s opened bottle of malt. Whole apartment was spick and spanking clean.”

“Right, so no tracks?”

“Nothing was out of place, not a trace.”

“Weird. Sure ‘s not poison?” 

“Unless there was a nanoparticle or some shit in her drink, nope. Nothing we could find in any sort of analysis.” 

“Basically the only thing leading the theory of foul play is the fact that the injuries sustained from her fall were at an angle as though someone pushed her. ‘S it.” 

“Hm,” Yoongi commented, tilting his head as he purses his lips in consideration.  

“It’s the only thing that makes sense, but Joon said that there weren’t any possible suspects, least no one they could find.” This is Jeongguk’s first interjection, and the trio turned to him for further clarification. Jeongguk, however, shrinks back as if he didn’t mean to say anything.

“What do you mean, Gguk-ah?”

Jeongguk leans forward, setting his elbows onto his knees. His eyes darted anxiously as if he hadn’t meant to say anything.

“Well…” he begun, gnawing at his lip, unsure. “Joon said that her lock was broken. Could’ve been a random robbery. B&E, perp freaked when he saw ‘er, saw she was drinking and one thing led to another.”

“Framing her for suicide,” Taehyung breathed. It made sense. It was the only thing that made sense if he was being honest.

Jeongguk shrugged.

Yoongi tapped his chin, clicking his jaw as he mulled this over.

“But nothing was taken,” he stated, brows knitting in confusion.

“Well… maybe he did take something. Data, maybe?”

Jimin’s phone rung again just as Taehyung was about to respond to Yoongi’s attested claim. With a meaningful look at Jimin, he picked it up, squinting at the phone number on the display.

“Says unknown. No digits.”

“What?”

Suddenly, it’s like Yoongi and Jeongguk weren’t there. Jimin grabbed his phone from Taehyung’s outstretched palm, swiping on the call before it went to voicemail again.

“Park.”

Jimin’s face slowly became blank as he listened to the voices on the other side of the line, mouth tightening with displeasure.

“Yeah, fuck, fine. You know where? Yeah, whatever.”

Taehyung watched, concerned.

“NIS.” Jimin hung up, voice tense. 

“About that case?” Yoongi doesn’t look too happy either. After all, it was his mention of it that felt telling.

“Yeah,” Jimin said, shortly. “It was Sungwoon. He and Taehyun are coming over to meet with us three. Fuck, I need to tell Hoseok.”

He sent a quick message to the detective. Taehyung tried to get a look into Jimin’s face, but it was to no avail. Jimin refused to meet his eyes.

“Who are Sungwoon and Taehyun?” Jeongguk asked, confused. Jimin looked at him startled, for everyone at the precinct knew very well who the duo was. 

“Right, you’re new. Forgot,” Jimin exhaled out a laugh. It was bitter, displeased. He didn’t want to deal with them any more than they did, Taehyung noted. “They’re part of my old team back at NIS. Field workers and agents, Ha Sungwoon and Noh Taehyun. They worked on the Babyface Butcher case way back when…”

“When you guys failed…” Jeongguk trailed off, more uncomfortable than before.

Jimin stiffened. “Yeah,” he responded, curtly. “When we failed and I got fired.”

Jeongguk opened his mouth, to apologize or something—what exactly, Taehyung didn’t know. He looked sorry he even asked, but it wasn’t his fault Jimin was so upset.

“But why weren’t they taken down with you, Jiminnie.” It’s an effort and half to get Jimin to open up, especially when he was so upset already.

“Because I was the primary case investigating scientist and I was the only one who received the third strike. They could afford to lose me… not Sungwoon. He was their best. I was replaceable.” What Taehyung saw when Jimin finally lifted his head to meet his eyes was inexplicable sadness and longing. Pain. From the few conversations he’d had with him about Sungwoon, it was that they were Academy best friends, in it for the long run. Or well, in it until Jimin was demoted down to work for the police.

Silence took hold of the room, suffocating everyone within. It was, of course, awkward.

Jeongguk didn’t quite know what to say. Yoongi and Taehyung both knew that nothing could be said. Jimin was in one of his moods and only some soju and cigarettes would pull him out. 

“Want me to tell Hoseok?” Taehyung finally asked. He grabbed Jimin’s hands, unfurling his clenched fists and rubbing the stiffness out of them.

Jimin’s shoulders relaxed listlessly, the fight beaten out of him. He looked so damn sad and tired, more than the day they interviewed the mother about the case. 

The dead woman’s case file lay next to them, forgotten.

Yoongi and Jeongguk looked at one another, lost as to what to do to help. Jimin never really got into one of his moods in front of others, even if they were his trusted friends. 

It took Taehyung over a year to even hear about some of Jimin’s time at NIS; being forced to leave and break his work-relationships at that degree had affected him more than the traumatic cases he frequently dealt with while still at the bureau. 

Get Hoseok, Taehyung mouthed at Yoongi, who nodded flatly. Hoseok needed to know, and he’d be able to help calm Jimin down, more than Taehyung even would. While they stepped out of the lab, Taehyung moved closer to Jimin.

He pulled the man into his arms. Jimin didn’t really respond to the hug, slumped as he was.

When Taehyung pulled back to take a better look at his face, Jimin’s eyes were already shut and stress lines were already making themselves known on his forehead.

“Hey… hey, Min-ah,” Taehyung whispered, brushing Jimin’s hair back. He took Jimin’s lab glasses off and forced him to look up at him. “Talk to me.”

Jimin scoffed before looking askance. His jaw clicked at the sight of the current case file they had to finish working on.

“It’s nothing, Taehyung, alright? Let’s just finish this damn case before Sungwoon comes up.”

Jimin pushed himself out of Taehyung’s hold, pulling his glasses back on. He straightened his shoulders and turned the ringer off his phone.  

Taehyung watched him, mute.

“Don’t do that. Don’t internalize all this shit.” 

“Internalize what exactly, Taehyung? Like you fucking know me.”

Whenever Jimin was stressed, whenever he was tired or sad or any combination of the three, he became mean. Taehyung could try to turn it back on Jimin, he had done so in the beginnings of their relationship, but—it always made Jimin recede more into himself. 

As he dated and lived with Jimin, Taehyung realized one thing. Jimin loved the spotlight, he thrived underneath it, but only when it was over his achievements.

He could only deal with the attention whenever it was over one of his positives; however, it was light shone upon anything else, that Jimin couldn’t stand.

He was there to service people—or so he thought, though Taehyung told him repeatedly to stop being so selfless—so anything hindering that, including his own pain, was contradictory and unwanted.

“Babe… I do know you.” He felt a weakness come over him. Felt immobile because what could he truly do. 

“What, Taehyung. What do you fucking know, huh?”

“You’re doing it again, Min-ah,” Taehyung tried, reaching out for him again, but Jimin merely danced out of his arms.

“Doing what, exactly? Being real? Telling nothing but the truth? You know the me of now, Taehyung. They knew me for years before that. Years, you hear me? For years before whatever this between us is.”

That stung. Taehyung couldn’t help feeling as though his gut had been punched, the breath leaving him painfully.

“We’ve been together for two and a half of those. Roommates for three. Partners for almost four. Don’t lessen this, Park,” Taehyung insisted.

Jimin stiffened. The use of his last name is mean, low even, but Taehyung had to. What other defense does he have, besides being petty?

“Yeah, well. Watch me.” Jimin took one look at Taehyung, his frown permanent it seemed, and shrugged his lab coat and gloves off. He slid his glasses back off and grabbed his cell. “Fuck this.”

“Backing down now because you know you can’t win, Jiminnie?” Taehyung couldn’t help the jibe as Jimin walked to the lockers.

“Nah,” Jimin whispered, but in the silence of the lab, he was loud and clear. “‘S just not worth it anymore. I’m not worth it, alright?” Jimin continued speaking without turning, ignoring the sheer regret Taehyung had over his single jeer. Taehyung stood, speechless. “Not gonna come home tonight, don’t worry. You an’ Seok can meet with the NIS guys, don’ want to see them anyways. Stupid, stupid. “M so fucking lame.” He shook his head, in regret perhaps. 

A lament, a feeling that he was not enough. No matter how much Taehyung tried to convince him otherwise. Taehyung frowned, wanting to say something, but unsure as to what.

With that, Jimin left the lab. Taehyung was too taken aback to stop him, the image of his dispirited back ingrained into his mind.

Yoongi and Jeongguk returned soon after with a somber Hoseok in tow.

“Where’s Jimin?”

Taehyung shrugged weakly. 

“Left.”

“Why?” Yoongi’s voice held a slight bite, one that made Taehyung flinch. “What did you say?” The accusation stung even more than Jimin leaving the lab, funnily enough.

He was always protective of Jimin, having been the first that Jimin went to after he was newly demoted. Yoongi did come from the army after all, with an honorable discharge.

Even so, Yoongi understood the trials and tribulations and shear stress that came with working within the government at such a high level.

Taehyung tried to grin—mask his feelings—but it was far too painful to do so. “I said some things. So did he. We fought. It was bad.”

“Right, then.” Hoseok shifts awkwardly. No one really knew what to say to that. Jeongguk slumped back down onto his original spot on the bench, pulling his phone out undoubtedly to text Jimin. “What’s this about NIS picking up our case?”

Taehyung exhaled, leaning against the table. “NIS Agents Ha and Noh are coming to the precinct in a bit to pick up the notes we made on the Babyface Butcher’s latest vic’. 

Shit, ‘s why Jimin’s so tense, hm? His old team picking up the case that got him demoted,” Hoseok commented. He looked displeased; he didn’t want to hand the case over to NIS anymore than Taehyung did. Despite them having the notes of his previous victims and of having far better resources to catch him. 

“Yeah…” Taehyung murmured.

Hoseok peaked over at the case file that was still lying open, from before Jimin received the call which created this mess they were now in.

“Oh, Gguk was telling me about this while we came over. Sending this mine and Jin’s way, huh.” Jeongguk flushed at the mention of his name.

Taehyung jerked his chin down, once. “Yeah. Once Jimin comes back… or the lab techs for overnight come in… the new data will be sent over. We just have to sign off on it.”

Yoongi, who had been sitting quietly for a while, suddenly spoke up. “You going to Jimin now then? Or—”

Taehyung sighed, rubbing a palm over his face. He was tired. It had already been such a day. “No… no, not until Ha and Noh come in. Wanna talk to them, see if they’d be alright having Seok and me on the case with them, seeing as we’re the ones who figured that it was ‘im and all.”

“What about Jimin?” Jeongguk finally spoke up. 

“Unless he explicitly says he wants to be in… he didn’t look so good when the three of us went to question the vic’s mother and check out the crime scene.” Hoseok nodded in approval. He remembered how shaken Jimin was just by the possibility of the perp being him.

And now, with the DNA of the skin and semen samples having come in, they had confirmation that it was him. Chang Jisook, the Babyface Butcher. The man who had slipped through NIS’ fingers over four years ago.

This was exhausting. He wanted to find Jimin, wanted to apologize and talk to his boyfriend, to make things right and perhaps form an even better understanding between them. 

But, that wouldn’t be possible, not with Sungwoon and Taehyun on their way to their precinct.

Jimin was important to Taehyung, but this case—putting the Babyface Butcher behind bars—was important for Jimin and he had to see it through. He would be nothing if he did not.

“Right then… so we wait.”

Hoseok nodded firmly. “And we wait." 

It didn’t take long for Sungwoon and Taehyun to call Taehyung’s cell—Jimin must’ve given them his number—to say that they were in the precinct’s lobby.

With a sigh, Taehyung and Hoseok got up, leaving Yoongi and Jeongguk behind in the lab as they went to speak with the agents.

They were dressed in uniform, somber as ever when they got up to shake their hands.

Jimin would know how to greet them, Taehyung dully realized. He’d be there, laughing and patting their backs—hiding his pain, almost—to make it seem like the case was less than it was. Both to him and to the bureau itself.

Taehyung stepped aside, let Hoseok hand Sungwoon the files. The pair of agents flipped through gingerly, taking note of the newer findings. Of the newer conclusions made by Jimin. They trailed into the interrogation room as led by Hoseok, and Taehyung checked his phone minutely.

It was bare of notifications—he’d hoped that Jimin would text him, contact him in any way, but it was to no avail.

“Really him, huh, Sungwoon?” Taehyun muttered. His finger traced the analysis of the skin samples, recognizing the DNA from their own case years ago.

It haunted them all—the fact that they let such a predator go because of their own incompetence. 

“What’s weird is that he resurfaced after four years. Like the last chase wasn’t enough,” Sungwoon commented, leaving the file open to the photograph of the victim’s revealed genitals.

“Yeah…” Taehyun murmured, leaning down to scribble something in his notepad. “Almost like his thirst had been quenched and that hiding was satisfying enough, but like all addictions… this one came back up for more. He couldn’t handle the withdrawals of not killing. Disgusting fuck.”

They shuddered, much like Jimin had. When Taehyung met Taehyun’s eyes, he saw the same blank horror that lined Jimin’s irises when he realized who exactly they were dealing with.

“Where’s Park?” Sungwoon asked, stretching his forearms on the metal table.

“Jimin-ah randomly sent us your number—didn’t know you two were dating, but ‘grats, eh? He deserves to have someone.” Taehyun clicked his pen shut, closed his notepad. He didn’t know what to call this, but it was something darker than displeasure. Uglier, even.

“Didn’t feel well,” Taehyung bit out. Hoseok grabbed his thigh, a warning, Taehyung supposed.

But he didn’t quite like NIS agents, regardless of how chummy his boyfriend used to be with them. Regardless that his boyfriend used to be one of them The agency was the one to remove Jimin, despite how capable he was.

How able he was to remove any trauma within and focus only on the case at hand.

“Missed him,” Sungwoon said. “‘S been months since we last saw ‘im.”

Taehyung almost fired off a retort, almost, but said something else instead. He had noted how resigned Hoseok looked while handing the agents the files, and it wasn’t fair to Jimin either. At least this way, he’d be able to maybe make up with Jimin. “We’re staying on the case.”

Sungwoon and Taehyun looked at him, surprised. They were just police officers after all; who were they to demand something from agents of the National Intelligence Service.

Taehyung,” Hoseok whispered in reproach, horrified. He was, after all, one of the upstanding detectives of the precinct. 

Taehyung merely patted the detective’s arms, comfortingly. He raised an eyebrow at the agents, waiting for their response.

“Don’ quite care if I’m on it, if I’m being honest. But Hoseok and especially Jimin deserve to be on it. Not fucking fair, especially when Jimin got kicked out of NIS because of the piece of shit. And to see all past notes and have all access to the resources—tech, databases—and crime scenes even.”

Sungwoon looked stricken, almost, but ended up nodding with an exhale.

“We’d have to get an official okay. From our captain and lieutenant.”

“So get it then,” Taehyung said. He didn’t care if he sounded demanding or mean; he meant what he said. It wasn’t fair to Jimin, who lost his career over the killer, or to Hoseok, who’d be solving the case if it wasn’t the Babyface Butcher.

Taehyun looked at them, a peculiar look in his eye before he shook his head. “Right then. We’ll see what we can do. Detective, Officer.” He nodded, jerking Sungwoon’s elbow.

“Thanks again for the file,” Sungwoon said while getting up out of his seat. He tilted the thick file folder at them, in appreciation of his thanks.

“Just… do what you can,” Taehyung said, frowning. He felt exhausted, just from the small conversation. Hoseok opened the interrogation room door, flipping the light switch off and nodding them out.

The second the two agents leave the vicinity, Hoseok pulled Taehyung into the other side of the interrogation area, partitioned by the double-sided mirror.

“The fuck was that,” Hoseok hissed. He’s glaring at Taehyung, annoyed at how he went above Hoseok’s command.

“What?” Taehyung shrugged. “I didn’t do anything wrong.”

“What the hell did Jimin say to you to do that.” 

“Don’t,” Taehyung warned. “He didn’t say shit. He just fucking left.”

“Then make it up to him! The hell is this bull of a savior’s complex. Don’t do this man.” Hoseok jabbed a finger into Taehyung’s chest, shoving Taehyung back. He shook his head, disappointed.

Taehyung fell back into the wall with a grunt, looking unapologetic. Instead, he let anger take over himself, though he usually tried to preach nonviolence. It was something he’d picked up from Namjoon, after all.

“Not fucking savior’s whatever. Guy should fry in the fucking chair. Jimin and you should be the one helping that shit happen. ‘S not fair that he thinks he was the reason NIS never got him last time; why the hell’s he so guilty for?” Taehyung vented, voice rising. He was thankful that the room was soundproofed, thankful that all detectives had enough of a temper while interrogating prospective suspects to warrant it.

“Why haven’t you tried to tell that to him, Taehyung?”

“I don’t fucking know. All I know is that this might—if Ha and Noh pull through—make Jimin stop feeling so… down.”

Hoseok snorted, displeased. “Jimin’s not one to show he’s feeling down.”

“Fine then,” Taehyung responded curtly. “Pissed. Angry. Bitchy, whatever he’s being like right now. He’s being a pissy asshole ‘bout this shit.” 

“You love him,” Hoseok reminded.

“I do, god, I do. I miss him too, and I need to apologize, but still,” Taehyung said, stress lining his voice.

Hoseok let him go, patting his shoulder. He still looked angry—it was warranted for the way Taehyung went behind his back, after all—but, it was Jimin who he needed to make up to. As soon as he could.

“Gonna head out to find Jimin then?” 

Taehyung slouched against the grey wall. Bringing two fingers up to pinch the bridge of his nose, he sighed.

“Yeah, I mean… I guess, yeah.” He swallowed with difficulty.

“Know where you’re headed? Would give you a ride in the cruiser, but I need to stay back, see the case that you’re gonna tell Song to hand over to us. Need to catch up from Namjoon’s notes in better detail.”

“Nah… no, it’s fine, I couldn’t ask that of you anyways. There’s probably four-ish places he’s at if he’s not coming home.”

“Bars?” 

“Or cafés. If anything, Jimin’d be reading with a cup of mulled wine. Get his mind off this shit.  

“Smart.” 

“He is,” Taehyung could feel his lips turn up fondly. Despite the hell it’d be to get Jimin to come back home to talk, he loved him. Even with his anger management problems. 

What Taehyung doesn’t mention is how Jimin never let things go. Instead, he tended to let his anger simmer, think of substantial arguments. Drinking helped him maintain his grudges; reading, a basis with which to argue.

It wasn’t the best strategy, but if Jimin happened to be at the café Taehyung was thinking of, it’d be better. Far better than finding him drunk in a bar. The thoughts were disheartening. He shook his head out of the daze, focusing back on the detective.

“Well, then”—Hoseok made a shooing motion. “Fucking go then. Fix this shit.”

Taehyung lifted his arms up in a surrendering motion. “‘M going, I’m going. Bastard’s gonna know I love the shit out of him, even if it’s the last thing I do.”

“Dramatic shit.” 

Taehyung shrugged. He’d always be dramatic, but he wasn’t lying when he said that he’d make sure that Jimin knew he loved him, even if he knew nothing else. That he knew Taehyung would never sabotage him, not in the way he was currently thinking.

He headed out, pulling out his phone to note the time. There still wasn’t anything from Jimin as he unlocked their car; Jimin must’ve taken an uber or taxi, despite his loathing for them.

He almost sent Jeongguk a message asking about Jimin's whereabouts. Almost.

But Jeongguk wouldn’t tell him where Jimin was, he wouldn’t say a damn word. Jeongguk usually never took sides, unless Jimin was involved. Not when he’d witnessed more of Jimin’s breakdowns when they were still neighbors. Not when they realized that their parents were family friends, however distant that may be.

Taehyung was the same, in regards to his boyfriend, so he couldn’t exactly be mad. Rather, he was thankful that even when they fought, Jimin had a friend like Jeongguk.

He drove to the first place he could think of. It was an old musty dive bar, dimly lit with appetizers that Taehyung loved to eat whenever Jimin wasn’t in one of his moods. Like right now. It doesn’t take too long to figure that Jimin wasn’t there; he’d be in plain sight or else.

Taehyung went to the second bar he could think of, something a little more classy and owned by one of their friends, Jonghyun. Usually, Jimin would be there, lamenting or venting to Jonghyun, but not today it seemed.

He finally ended up at the third place—it was a rustic cafe that served craft beer and mulled wine. Just like he told Hoseok, Jimin is right there, paging through a novel. He looks serene, but Taehyung knows that he is anything but.

He felt as though a storm is in wait for him and Jimin both; to tear them apart irreparably. Maybe that’s what this was; fated, almost, because Taehyung would never not look for Jimin.

Taehyung made his way directly to Jimin, forgoing purchasing anything. This was more important.

“Jimin-ah,” He whispered, right when his boyfriend was in hearing distance. Jimin flinched at his voice; despite the loud voices of other customers drinking and talking, he could always hear Taehyung.

There’s no other acknowledgment save for that. Taehyung made his way to sit in front of Jimin, the table littered with notepads and books. A beer. An empty glass of wine.

“Say what you want to say, then leave.”

A stark difference from how Taehyung was feeling. The mood dropped instantly; Jimin looked up, nonplussed as if all he’d thought about was this very conversation.

“‘S it then, Min? You gonna hold a grudge?” The ugly words just come out. Taehyung never intended for them to do so, but it’s difficult when all Jimin wants to do is fight him.

The latter shook his head, rubbing a palm up his face. Wearied, almost.

“Just tell me what happened with the agents and leave. I don’t want to talk right now, Taehyung.”

It hurt, hearing his name come out of Jimin’s mouth like that.

“So you can simmer more and overthink?” Taehyung couldn’t help his eyes from wandering over the book Jimin was currently reading. Yet another by Douglas; the man he respected most in the field.

“No, Taehyung.” This time, it is said with a sigh. He looked exhausted despite the fact that it had been only a few hours since their short fight. “I just need to think, ‘s all.”

He met Taehyung’s eyes right then and there was a tinge of hysteria struck deep within his irises. Taehyung didn’t know how what happened to make him look like that; he’s not even sure if he wanted to know why.

“You are worth it, Jimin,” Taehyung insisted, Jimin’s final words from earlier coming over him.

Jimin scoffed, skeptical. He drank from his glass, the pint almost empty, rather than counteracting Taehyung’s words.

Unsure of what else to do—what else to say—he spoke. “They’re going to try to get Hoseok and you on the case.”

Jimin recoiled. His eyes widened and jaw dropped in disbelief. “What the hell?” He spat, pissed.

Everything, all of his intentions, just crushed into dust with one sentence.

Taehyung pressed his lips flat together into a straight line, trying not to let his frustration show through. “It wasn’t fair watching you fall apart over the same guy that made you go through a breakdown years ago. ‘S not fair that you and Hoseok were the ones to figure out it was ‘im who killed the little girl, you two of a lowly police precinct.” The last bit is said with a sneer; Taehyung hated NIS solely for the upstanding power they held over those in lower departments.

“That’s not for you to decide, Kim Taehyung.” And oh, the fury lining Jimin’s pupils now was barely restrained. It was almost imperceptible—almost for Jimin’s fingers were white with how tightly he was gripping the table.

“But it is for me to point out. Maybe not to you, but to someone who wasn’t affected as you were by it.” He didn’t mention that Hoseok was just as angered by his words, that Sungwoon and Taehyun both agreed that they deserved a chance on the case.

“Do you want us to fight, even more, Taehyung?” Jimin asked, disbelieving. He looked exhausted. Worn down, even, by the events leading up to this very moment.

What Jimin didn’t say is that the departments never mixed. The army, NIS, the other higher government branches merely turned their noses down at the police, unconvinced of their competency.

“No, I’m trying to make this shit up to you. I’m sorry.” It took a lot for Taehyung to say that. He was a prideful man and so was Jimin, which is why their fights always were worse than they should’ve been.

Jimin scoffed. He turned his nose up, shaking his head in what appeared ridicule, or even disapproval. “I can’t believe this shit.”

“Can’t believe what? That I fucking love you?”

“That you’d sabotage me like that. Aren’t significant others supposed to care for their partner’s mental well-being? Or was that just a fucking lie you told me when you were ‘wooing’ me. That you could care less for my demons. That you wouldn’t run away.”

At that, Taehyung pointedly looked at the glasses emptied of alcohol on their table. At the lone, closed pack of cigarettes between the multiple rings of condensation. At his journal and book, sitting unopened.

“Unbelievable,” Jimin jeered, his voice strained as he looked up at the bare ceiling. 

"I'm trying, Min."

"'S not enough. 'S not enough right now, do you get that? Trying isn't fucking enough."

Taehyung sighed, his shoulders bending inwards with stress. He tried a different approach, letting his displeasure known. “Even if I were to care… like with your alcohol and nicotine intake… ‘s not like you’ll listen anyway. Make it make sense, Jimin” he muttered, annoyed. It's unkind, but it was something that had to be said. Jimin flinched, taken aback, and focused his eyes upon the table. He took the stem of the wine glass, analyzing its contents and sighing when he realized it was empty. He then took the glass of beer instead, tilting it towards his mouth.

Why wouldn’t Jimin just understand, for once?

He gulped down its contents, wiping his mouth on his sleeve, as though readying himself to argue more. “Right,” Jimin snorted, indignant as ever.

“‘Nd that wasn’t a fucking lie, ‘lright? I won’t fucking run unless you make me.”

“Aren’t you doing that by forcing me to work on the butcher case, and not, you know. The one of the girl who fell fourteen fucking stories and smashed her head in? The one that Song fucking assigned to us.”

Taehyung flinched backward, the seat sliding minutely. The screech of the motion halted his mind, the question pounding within.

"What?" Taehyung asked, voice small. It felt as though his world was being shattered, though it was only because of his presumptions this time.

Jimin waved a hand around, carelessly. "I mean... I get it, Tae. I do," he exhaled, the action leaving his body more slouched than anything. "But, that doesn't mean you get to decide for me if I get the closure I need. It's not fair to me, do you get that?"

Taehyung bit on his lip, chewing on the skin. He'd only wanted for Jimin's well-being. For Jimin to get the recognition he deserved, especially by NIS.

"Right." His head pounded, heart faint.

"Let me take responsibility for myself. Let me find my own way of figuring this out, let <em>me</em> take matters into my own hands, I love you, but you sometimes do things without thinking, Tae. Too rashly. As if your hurt needs absolving right away. And sometimes, it does more harm than good, like right now, with this stupid cold case that took me out of a job the first time 'round."

He knew Jimin didn't mean to say it so plainly, but each and ever words felt like a dagger to his stomach. Taehyung's stomach upturned; it sucked, the way his choice hadn't helped in the way he'd thought. The way the repercussions seemed more vast than he'd anticipated, what with the split-second decision he had made.

"Just... just leave, Taehyung," Jimin sighed, his fingers clenching around nothing. His knuckles keep their white color, the lines upon his forehead more evident with the stress of having to work the Butcher case. Of having to confront the man who still featured in his nightmares.

"That's what you want, then?" Taehyung questioned, weakly.

"Gguk'll... he'll tell you when I'm ready to see you, I guess. Dunno if I even wanna look at your face right now, though," he continued, refusing to meet Taehyung's eyes.

"Are you gonna come home, or are you going to run away again?" Taehyung, despite the guilt lining every part of him, cannot help the last remark. It was meant to hurt and there was a scary satisfaction in seeing Jimin flinch the same way he had earlier. 

Jimin rubs his forehead, clutching the bridge of his nose. "You'll probably just see me at work." His response is laconic in a way that Jimin usually never spoke.

With that said, Jimin pushes off the table first—only to head back towards the cafe's bar. He doesn't spare Taehyung a single glance back. It was a pointed way to go about doing so, but Taehyung understood the hint.

He'd already fucked up enough inconsiderately, especially in regards to his boyfriend's current state of mind. He should have listened to the others when they warned him against all of it, but what was to pass had... ended up passing. 

Taehyung stood, leaving with whatever shred of dignity he had remaining, letting Jimin take the time he needed. It'd be a while before they'd be okay; it'd possibly take the entire duration of the Butcher investigation, but Taehyung did this to himself, so he couldn't complain.