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IO-1: Intelligence Operatives Unit One

Chapter Text

Times flies when you’re sneaking around crime syndicates and running headfirst into danger.

It’s been nearly a year since the agency’s best field operatives Kang Daniel and Park Jihoon had been partnered together to form Unit One of MNET’s intelligence operations branch: IO-1.

MNET is the nation’s secret service and intelligence task force, and the South Korean government’s answer to the CIA and MI6. MNET is an acronym for Militarised National Elusive Task-force however many of the agents joke that it actually stands for Mind Not Everyone’s Theatrics after Agent Kim Jaehwan once screamed that he was “absolutely on the verge of dying, send like 10 people ASAP” only for the agency to tell him to “stop exaggerating and get on with it” (he was, in fact, exaggerating). 

The intelligence operations branch specialises in collecting evidence of international affairs and crimes, and protecting secrets and national security concerns, including anything deemed “unsavoury for the public”. Most of the agents work in pairs that consist of one field operative - who typically handles the more physical demands of the assignment such as combat, undercover operations, and infiltrating target locations - and one strategist and handler - whose role is to collect and process information that is vital to the mission, overseeing the field operative’s actions, and assisting and directing them remotely; often they are highly skilled in hacking and specialised in the technological side of the job. 

Despite this, the finest units in the agency have partners that are capable of taking on either function even if they have a preferred role and IO-1 is no exception. 

Kang Daniel is widely regarded as MNET’s best field agent and after being assigned to work with the sharpest schemer in the agency, Park Jihoon, the two have been regularly assigned the most difficult missions throughout the year and completed all of them with ease.




Jihoon strips off his earpiece and communications set, dropping them on the floor where they join his discarded weapons and body armour. Even though his job is handled mostly from behind a computer screen, Jihoon still has to be prepared to bust out and save Daniel’s ass if there’s an emergency. 

From across the room, Daniel is changing out of his suit and gear as well in favour of shrugging on a soft, well-worn hoodie. The two of them have come straight back to the base after completing a routine mission at a big-name casino. The government had received a tip-off that several foreign high-rollers were collaborating with the casino’s owner and laundering their dirty money, keeping a little extra on the side. Daniel’s job was to distract and charm the players and staff, recording any incriminating slip-ups on hidden microphones, whilst Jihoon hacked the security cameras and traced bank accounts across several continents.

Once Jihoon is done changing into his clothes, he looks up to find Daniel standing in front of him, bouncing excitedly on the balls of his feet. He almost looks like a harmless puppy, Jihoon thinks. It’s hard to imagine that less than 12 hours ago this man was the most dangerous person in a room full of criminals. 

“Ahh, it feels good to be back and out of that stuffy casino.” Daniel says, lifting a hand and ruffling his ash-blond hair. “The whole place smells like cigarette smoke. It’s so annoying!” He pulls a disgusted face.

Jihoon nods and snickers, “Yeah, I can still smell it on your hair.”

“We have a couple of hours before we have to report to Jisung-hyung. Do you wanna play a couple of rounds?” Daniel lifts his hands and wriggles his fingers to mime typing on a keyboard.

“Sure! Just let me grab something to eat first, I’m starving.” Jihoon moans, wrapping his arms around his stomach.




Before MNET restructured the organisation a year ago, Jisung and Daniel had worked as a team for three years until Jisung was promoted to section chief and elected Jihoon as his replacement.

When Jisung first suggested to assign Daniel and Jihoon together, no one was entirely sure how well they would get along. The two had differed so greatly in skills and personality that even Jisung himself had wondered if putting the pair of them together was really the best idea. However Daniel and Jihoon had bonded instantly over their shared love of gaming and no one could have predicted just how well they would complement each other.

Part of the reason why Unit One performs so well is the fact that Daniel and Jihoon work together like a well-oiled machine and play together like 5 years olds in a playground.

'A well-oiled machine that constantly causes me stress-induced headaches, I suppose.' Jisung pondered to himself. 'Work hard and play hard indeed.'




(One year ago)

“Daniel, my sweet, small child,” Jisung coos to his soon-to-be-ex partner.

“Hyung, you know I’m taller than you right?” Daniel rebuts.

“Hush, child,” Jisung silences the younger with a finger. “I’m afraid that I will no longer be around to babysit you anymore.”

“Oh, no. Hyung, are you dying?” Daniel replies suitably shocked from behind Jisung’s finger.


“Are you getting married or someth-“ Jisung interrupts Daniel before he can continue that sentence.

“I’ve been promoted.”

Daniel stares at the elder for a moment before breaking out into an eye-crinkling smile. “Oh, congrats hyung!” He says as he pulls Jisung into a celebratory hug. As he pulls away, he asks “Why are you acting like this is a bad thing?”

“Because instead of babysitting one child,” Jisung explains, punctuating the words by pointing in Daniel’s direction, “I am now responsible for the health and wellbeing of ten children.”

“Aw, don’t be like that Jisungie-hyung,” Daniel dutifully replies, gummy-smile intact. “I have no doubts that you’ll do well in your new position.”

“Aigoo,” Jisung smiles and pats Daniel’s cheek before clapping his hands twice. “Anyways! What I actually meant to do was introduce you to your new partner. I’ve left the poor boy waiting in the room next door.” As Daniel follows Jisung out of the room, he continues “I’m sure you’ll like him since you like small and cute things so much.”

Peering past the open doorway, Daniel gets his first look at the boy. The first thing Daniel notices is that he is short, his face is about level with Daniel’s neck, and his brown hair looks soft and fluffy like he had been running his hands continuously through it. He has a round face with chubby cheeks, big eyes that seem to sparkle from the inside, and a sharp nose.

The boy tilts his head up shyly and smiles, fiddling with his fingers as he introduces himself. “Hi. My name is Park Jihoon.”

The oversized hoodie Jihoon is wearing seems to swallow him up and overall the boy looks too soft to be working in this line of business.

Daniel’s face breaks into a smile, “Oh my gosh, you’re so cute and fluffy!”

“Cute?” Jihoon repeats, scrunching up his mouth. “I could break all your fingers without even trying.” He puffs up his face in mock anger before smiling again, winking at Daniel to show that he's just joking.

His new partner is so adorable that Daniel has to physically reign in the urge to engulf the boy in warm cuddles like he used to do with his neighbour’s cats.




“You didn’t die yet?”

Jihoon takes his time setting down his food (a mediocre serving of japchae and a rather dry kimbap roll, but at least it’s free from the MNET canteen) and pulls out a chair before addressing the speaker.

Jihoon sneers before replying, “As if I’d die before you, Park.”

Opposite him sits Park Woojin, Jihoon’s best friend and confidante. He also knows all of Jihoon’s most embarrassing moments and will surely spread them like wildfire to all the other agents if Jihoon dies first. Not while I'm still breathing, Jihoon thinks.

Woojin smirks and bites down on his hotteok. It looks more appetising than what’s on Jihoon’s tray. Goddammit. Woojin ignores him and adds, “I want your watches when you die.”

Jihoon sniffs. “No way I’m letting you have my watch collection. They’re going to Guanlin.”

“Excuse me?” 

Woojin looks affronted and Jihoon smiles sweetly in response.

“You heard me, ex-partner.”




Before Daniel and Jihoon became Daniel-and-Jihoon, Woojin and Jihoon used to work together as a team most of the time. Woojin is an excellent field operative that is highly efficient and, to quote Agent Lee Daehwi, ”gets shit done”. However Woojin has one major character flaw and that is that he is hot-headed and stubborn as a mule. Park Jihoon knows exactly how to push his buttons and does so often. There had been several missions that ended in avoidable destruction all because of Jihoon’s voice in Woojin’s earpiece persuading him to cause chaos. Park Woojin is easily veered into stupid decisions.

(There was one time in L.A. where Woojin was meant to blend into the background as a tourist and secretly capture photos of a suspected government spy using his camera.

Jihoon had bet that there was no way Woojin would be able to set the camera on timer, run up a flight of stairs, and still get the shots they needed.

“Fucking watch me.” Woojin had whispered back.

Jihoon had watched as Woojin crashed into the spy and knocked over the camera.)

When Jisung had approached Jihoon and told him that the agency was forming a new branch, with ten members and that everyone would be in permanent pairs, he’d asked if Jihoon would be willing to work with his old partner Kang Daniel. Jihoon had never met Daniel before however he had definitely heard of him. 

Various agents had spoken of rumours about Kang Daniel; that he had single-handedly taken down the Wu Crime Empire in China, that he has charmed a hundred different female (and male) agents from all of the different international intelligence agencies, that he was nicknamed 'God Daniel’.

(Now that he knows Daniel, Jihoon is aware that all of these rumours are grossly exaggerated. Daniel did not take down the Wu Empire on his own, he had help from five other agents. He has definitely charmed agents from rival agencies however that number is highly over-estimated (maybe like, six). 

He is also definitely not a god. 

I mean, he may have the body of a- let’s not go down that road.)

Jihoon also knows that whilst MNET may allow Jihoon and Woojin to continue their shenanigans because they have been getting results, the agency is getting real tired of covering up their bullshit and will probably separate them soon enough.

After Jihoon agrees, Jisung then asks him if he has someone in mind to take his place with Woojin. Jihoon doesn’t personally know that many of the agents in MNET. He’s mainly only worked with Park Woojin, Lee Daehwi, and Bae Jinyoung. However Daehwi and Jinyoung are out of the question since those two would probably jump at the chance to become permanent partners with each other. 

Other than that, there is only one other person in the agency that he knows well. Lai Guanlin, a recently recruited trainee that MNET had assigned to Jihoon to teach and take care of. Guanlin speaks several languages, is an incredibly fast learner, is fiercely loyal, and is strongly driven and self-motivated. Jihoon thinks that Guanlin should be ready to go out on a real mission any day now. He’s also very proud of how far Guanlin has come and even secretly considers him as his little protégé strategist. It makes sense to suggest him to take Jihoon’s place.

He’s also much, much less of a wildcard than Jihoon is.




Woojin lets out a deep and long-suffering sigh. “God, Jihoon, you were just the worst. What kind of support partner cracks jokes in your earpiece when you’re trying to persuade 10 guys not to shoot you?”

“The best kind, clearly.” Jihoon fires back. “At least Daniel appreciates me.”

Woojin stares at him and raises an eyebrow. “Daniel-hyung looks at you with heart-eyes all the time. You could kill someone and he’d still think you were cute.” Woojin shakes his head, “Scratch that, you have killed someone in front of him and he just patted your head and praised you.”

“That’s because I saved his life? Duh, get with the program, Woojinnie.” Jihoon ignores the remark about the ‘heart eyes’.

At that moment Lai Guanlin walks through the doors of the mess hall and Jihoon drowns out Woojin’s other complaints in favour of greeting his favourite junior agent. 

“Oh! Jihoon-hyung, you’re back!” Guanlin smiles widely and walks over. “I take it your mission went well?”

“Guanlinnie!” Jihoon stands up and lets the younger boy drape over him in a weird half-hug. “It was alright. There were no major problems but it was a little touch and go at one point when I had to re-route the trackers on the bank accounts. But I fixed it! Had to brute-force the firewall in the end though.”

Guanlin nods sympathetically in understanding.

Woojin snorts, “Hacking was always your weak point Jihoon."

“That’s not true! Jihoon-hyung is really good at that sort of thing.” Guanlin jumps in to defend Jihoon. “He even taught me how to disguise key-logging and trace through VPNs.”

Woojin rolls his eyes fondly, “And now you’ve left me with your fanboy. I can never escape you Jihoon unless I get hit on the head during a mission and hopefully wake up with amnesia.”

Scrunching his face up in mild disgust, Guanlin quietly comments “That’s a bit dramatic, hyung."

Jihoon is about to retort Woojin when a tray is slammed down on the table next to him and suddenly there is someone sitting on his right. He startles and looks up just as Agent Hwang Minhyun says with a blank face and a deadpan voice “I swear everyone in this godforsaken company has a flair for dramatics."

Guanlin whimpers. “Are you okay Minhyun-hyung?”

“I think it’s just because your partner is Ong Seongwoo, hyung.” Jihoon says reasonably.

Because Park Woojin continues to be stubborn as a mule and holds grudges, he takes this moment to yell “Park Jihoon, don’t think I haven’t forgotten about that time you started crying in the middle of the boardroom just because I accidentally slapped you in the face!”

“How dare you! That fucking hurt!” Jihoon shouts back. Both of them look ready to engage in a slap-fight at any second.

Guanlin, the only one at this table that is actually being helpful, asks “What did he do this time, hyung?”

Minhyun sighs with a small pout. “Ever since he found out that I’ve never dated anyone before, he won’t stop being obnoxious every time I interact with a girl.”

“Ohhh, I see.” Guanlin says, nodding his head before adding, “Well, if it’s any consolation I haven’t either?"

“Sorry,” Minhyun responds with a small smile. “He’ll get over it and let it die eventually."

“Eventually.” repeats Guanlin.

Chapter Text

It seems that Ong Seongwoo has not let the issue die yet, because when Jihoon goes to visit Jisung’s office a few days later he can hear the two agents bickering as they walk down the hallway.

“You! You, Hwang Minhyun! Have been single with that face and that personality. I can’t believe it!” Seongwoo snickers and looks entirely too cheerful.

“Is it really that hilarious?” Minhyun asks quietly as he picks up his pace.

Seongwoo tuts. “Honestly, how are you not fending off admirers everyday? You must be doing something wrong.”

Jihoon can see Seongwoo shaking his head patronisingly as the pair round the corner before there’s a soft thud sound, like one of them shoved the other into the wall in teasing (Seongwoo) or irritation (Minhyun).

It’s already 10 minutes past noon when Jihoon knocks on Jisung’s door before entering. Jihoon had expected to be chastised for being late, but Daniel is nowhere to be seen.

He and Jisung make small talk idly for awhile before taking out their phones. Jisung explains that he doesn’t want to start discussing their next mission before Daniel arrives.

“It’s a big one,” he informs, eyes opening widely.

It’s almost half past twelve by the time Daniel barrels into the office, hair messy and clothes wrinkled.

“Sorry, sorry! I overslept and then woke up and then fell asleep again!” Daniel explains, patting down his hair. “But I’m here now!” He placates and quickly takes a seat beside Jihoon.

Daniel looks over to find his younger partner shooting daggers at him with what he privately calls the ‘disgruntled Jigglypuff face’.

Unfortunately for Jihoon, because their branch leader is soft at heart, he doesn’t reprimand Daniel for wasting time and greets him with a cheerful smile instead.

“Ready to go on another mission?” Jisung asks and starts shuffling through his stack of papers.

“Yes, boss!” Daniel shouts enthusiastically.

He and Jisung then look over at Jihoon expectantly until Jihoon finally relents and says, less enthusiastically, “Yeah.”

“Uhh, good. That’s good.” Jisung replies before clearing his throat. “Here are your dossiers for this round, agents.” he says as he passes Jihoon and Daniel their information packets.

Jihoon is quiet as he scrutinises the mission outline and background. Over the past month, multiple attempts have been made to hack into the South Korean government’s defence secrets, and there is reason to believe that private and sensitive information about military personnel and units may have been compromised. Based on the most recent hacking attempt, there is substantial evidence to suspect the breach to have been linked to an international crime syndicate known within the agency by the codename Y.M.C. It seems that the issue at hand is highly serious and a matter of national security.

From Jihoon’s side, Daniel nudges his elbow and quietly whispers “This seems like it’s going to be fun."

“The stakes are high this time, which is why this mission has been entrusted to you, IO-1.” Jisung confides when both of agents appear to be done reading.

High stakes tend to mean high probability for mayhem, Jihoon thinks excitedly and nudges Daniel back.

“The mission will take place in two parts.” Jisung explains, ignoring whatever is going on in front of him. “We believe that Y.M.C’s headquarters are located somewhere within the greater countryside of Great Britain. It is likely that any files that have been retrieved are stored inside that building. Based on our prior knowledge of how the organisation operates, Y.M.C may be holding onto that information for a client or to sell off to the highest bidder. Therefore, if you can physically destroy their servers that are storing the information as well as any backups, we may be able to prevent the data from leaking any further and into the hands of a group who will use it against us. Alternatively, you may be able to get away with simply tampering with the information to the point where it is no longer accurate and cannot be used by our enemies.”

“I’m guessing that our own defences have been strengthened so that they can’t simply hack us again?” Jihoon voices.

“That is correct. A small window of opportunity opened up when the data was being transferred and backed-up during a system upgrade, the hacker took advantage of it but that backdoor no longer exists. Most likely, Y.M.C saw the chance to acquire some lucrative information and jumped on it.” Jisung answers and flips a page briskly before continuing. “However, breaking into Y.M.C’s headquarters and destroying the information is easier said than done. We don’t know exactly where it is or how it is structured.”

Daniel leans forward and places a hand on his chin. He then says with a roguish smile, “But I’m sure you already have a solution for that, though."

Jisung smiles and nods. “Indeed. I did say this was a two part mission, didn’t I? Luckily, MNET has eyes and ears everywhere, and we have received a tip-off from one of our spies that Y.M.C has commissioned a series of renovations for their headquarters. Indubitably, we have already tracked down the architect they used for the project. She will be checking into a hotel in China in two days with the blueprints for the estate. Your job will be to get your hands on those prints surreptitiously by any means necessary.”

“Any means necessary, huh?” Daniel questions as he rifles through his papers until he settles on the page with the architect’s profile.

“Well, our records state that she is a young woman who isn’t in a relationship.” Jisung chuckles and tilts his head questioningly. “You may be able to employ your favourite method.”

Jihoon stares down at the woman’s profile before asking wryly, “Seduction?"

Daniel skims the page before tapping a finger and confirming. “Seduction, it is.”

Gathering up his papers, Jisung clears his throat. “So to summarise, part one of the mission will be a honey pot,” He looks over at Daniel, who nods and smirks in reply. Jisung then continues, “And part two will be-“

Jihoon cuts in before Jisung finishes “Part two will be bang bang?”

His boss sighs but humours Jihoon with a smile anyway. “Part two will be bang bang.”

Jihoon smiles widely. “Excellent."

MNET provides private lodging on the premises for all of its agents as well as a wide selection of recreational and training facilities. Agents were previously allowed to live off-site if they so desired however, for their own safety precautions and to prevent private information being shared outside, all active agents are required to stay within MNET whenever they are not currently dispatched on a mission.

Each branch has their own living quarters and common area, and it is not unusual to see off-duty agents lounging around watching TV or reading. The agency provides standardised furniture and appliances across all sections but the intelligence operations branch have decked out their living room with a karaoke machine (highly favoured by Agents Seongwoo, Jinyoung and Sungwoon), and Daniel and Jihoon have positively surrounded their television setup with multiple gaming consoles (all of which have their wires neatly tied up and arranged by Minhyun).

Currently, Ong Seongwoo and Hwang Minhyun of Unit Two are occupying the living space. Seongwoo is watching a drama he had downloaded after a recommendation from Woojin, but the plot is complicated and honestly he’s just really confused about what is happening. On the couch, Minhyun sits reading a book and humming to himself periodically.

Prior to the company restructuring, Seongwoo and Minhyun had worked together occasionally. Although they weren’t particularly close, both of them found that they admired each other professionally, and it was an easy decision to partner up to form IO-2.

Unlike Unit One who often tackles the more hands-on missions, Unit Two tends to specialise in information retrieval missions. Seongwoo is particularly good at drawing information out of people in conversation, and blending into roles and disguises like he was born to do it - Jisung jokes that he should have been an actor instead.

On the other hand, Minhyun is widely revered by the rest of the agents as being the most resourceful strategist, and also arguably the most level-headed. After his role in planning the downfall of the Wu Crime Empire, the rest of the jokingly refer to him as Emperor Hwang Ge-Liang (which never fails to make his ears red).

The peaceful atmosphere of the room is rudely interrupted by a door slamming open.

Kim Jaehwan strolls in and announces “What is up, my homies!” His voice is particularly loud, even for him, and startles Seongwoo into spilling his lukewarm coffee.

His arrival is followed by his partner Ha Sungwoon, who also shouts in a deafening voice. “Hello friends, pals, buddies!”

The two of them sit on either side of Minhyun, who shuffles over and welcomes them accommodatingly.

“God, why are you two so loud today?” Seongwoo asks, exaggeratedly rubbing his ear. “I thought my ears were going to bleed.”

“We just came back from the gun range. Getting in that target practice.” Sungwoon explains and brings his hands together to mime shooting a gun.

“Ohhh.” Seongwoo comments, and he and Minhyun share a look of understanding. Jaehwan and Sungwoon are always loud and extra excitable whenever they come back from the gun range.

“Yup! I scored like 8 out of 10 headshots this time.” Jaehwan states proudly with a laugh.

“He only got 8 headshots because he emptied his magazine into each target every time.” Sungwoon comments helpfully. “And then he laughed like a psychopath, honestly it was pretty scary.” He then launches into a recreation of the scenario.

“Oh please, you were laughing too!” Jaehwan shouts back and throws his sock at Sungwoon. “Besides, I do that all the time.”

“Dude, I know! I live with you!” Sungwoon replies, diving to avoid the stinky footwear.

Truly, a blessing. Seongwoo thinks as he takes this moment to privately thank God for giving him a sane and reasonable partner like Hwang Minhyun.

“Anyway, what’s new with you? Didn’t you guys get a new mission briefing this morning?” Jaehwan asks as he rolls his sock back onto his foot.

Earlier in the day, the two had paid a visit to Jisung’s office to receive their new orders.

“This mission is a little different than what you’re normally used to, and may be slightly out of your comfort zone.” Jisung starts tentatively, eyeing Minhyun as he says the second half. “However there is a reason why I chose the two of you for this one.”

“Different how?” Minhyun asks.

“You’ll be playing a more active role than usual, Minhyun, but I’m confident that you will be able to handle it.” Jisung smiles encouragingly.

Minhyun gives him a small smile back and says “If you chose us for it, then I trust your judgement.”

“I’m curious why you chose us though.” Seongwoo comments. He adds with a cheeky smile, “Is it because of my devastatingly good looks?”

“Honestly? Yes.” Jisung nods matter-of-factly.

“Wait, what?” Seongwoo asks. Even with his mouth open and a shocked expression, he still looks unfairly attractive.

“I don’t mean to feed your ego, but the two of you are capable of passing as models, and I need to send a team to the Paris Fashion show next week.” Jisung explains.

Both of them are quiet as they contemplate what Jisung has told them.

“Did you hear that Minhyun? He thinks I’m good-looking.” Seongwoo says and preens.

“I think his ego will grow by itself.” Minhyun tells Jisung. “But what do you need us to do there?”

Jisung slides over a folder. “One of the fashion houses appears to be using the show to smuggle drugs amongst it’s normal wares, and I need the two of you to pinpoint which company is behind it, and gather enough evidence to stop them.”

“Where are they hiding them? Amongst the rolls of fabric?” Seongwoo voices questioningly.

Jisung shrugs. “That’s what the two of you are there for. Mingle with the models and backstage staff to find out what you can, and bring a stop to it before it can reach Korea during Seoul Fashion Week."

“We get to fly to Paris and hang out with models.” Seongwoo says victoriously. His smug, little face peers up from the floor at Jaehwan. “Jealous?”

“Aw, what? That sounds awesome.” moans Jaehwan. “Why don’t we get to do things like that?"

“You have to be born again with my face.” Seongwoo answers shamelessly, sipping his coffee.

Sungwoon has commandeered most of the couch by now and asks from behind a cushion, “So is your job just to go there and flirt with models?”

“Pretty much. Although I’m worried about this one.” Seongwoo punctuates this by jabbing a thumb in Minhyun’s direction. “He can’t flirt and gets awkward easily. Can you believe that he’s never been in a relationship? Mind-blowing.”

“Ah, really?” says Sungwoon. “That’s not that weird though. It’s not that easy to meet someone in this industry.”

“I’m not that bad.” Minhyun whines, hiding his face behind his book. “It’s just, relationships are overwhelming sometimes.”

“Do you like anyone, though?” Jaehwan asks inquisitively, resting his chin on his hand.

“I doubt it.” Seongwoo answers for Minhyun. “I think I would know if he had a crush on someone.”

Minhyun remains silent and avoids eye contact.

“Oh, ho, ho! What’s this? Are you trying to lie by omission?” Jaehwan yelps and wrangles the book out of Minhyun’s hands. Minhyun swats him with his hands and steals the book back.

Sungwoon joins in from Minhyun’s other side. “Don’t think you can wriggle your way out of this one, Hwang Minhyun. I am great at interrogations.” He says proudly.

Ha Sungwoon may be tiny, but he once brought a giant, burly suspect down to his knees and confessing his crimes in the MNET holding room. The others have learned to avoid angering the pint-sized powerhouse.

Minhyun goes limp and tries to slide out from the bottom of the couch but gets his foot stuck under the coffee table. Sungwoon and Jaehwan drag him back up and then proceed to sandwich Minhyun in the middle of the sofa, effectively trapping him.

Minhyun likes someone? Seongwoo thinks to himself as he observes the situation. When did this happen?

Outwardly, Seongwoo laughs and says “Yah, Hwang Minhyun. You like someone and you didn’t tell me? Who is she? I’ll be the best wingman you could ask for.”

Minhyun sighs and runs a hand through his hair. “I’m only going to say this once and then you all can drop the subject, okay?”

He pauses and the other three agents peer at him expectantly. They almost look like a line of dogs waiting for a treat.

"Yes, I like someone. No, I won’t tell you who he is.” Minhyun then flips through his book to find the page he was on and resumes reading like it’s no big deal.

Jaehwan and Sungwoon continue bothering him for a while longer, before eventually getting distracted by a discussion about Sungwoon’s cosmetics.

Seongwoo returns to his drama but he can’t focus on what the characters are saying. Instead, he keeps ruminating about what Minhyun admitted earlier.

He? Seongwoo thinks. Minhyun likes a boy?


Before he and Daniel have to depart for China, Jihoon makes a handful of quick stops around the base.

He had dropped by the administration building to collect his passport and fake identity documents, and made a brief detour to the R&D department to pick up any new toys that Sewoon had been working on.

(This time, Sewoon only has a new and improved flash-bang that is nice and compact for carrying, and a little, red pill that instantly makes all of the victim’s muscles go lax.

“It may be helpful for the honeypot.” Sewoon says and shrugs.

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any cool guns for Jihoon right now.)

The base’s medical bay is located only a short distance away from R&D, so Jihoon decides to pay a visit. He always finds the brisk walk calming, and likes to appreciate the greenery along the way.

As he steps into the miniature hospital, Jihoon can already feel his nose abruptly start itching from the pungent smell of antiseptic. He carries on down the corridor until he finds the room he is looking for.

Bae Jinyoung, the placard reads.

Jihoon knocks twice before opening the door and stepping in. There are two figures inside the room; Jinyoung is lying on the hospital bed with his right leg stretched out and the other wrapped in bandages. Sitting beside him is his partner, Daehwi, who is holding one of Jinyoung’s hands between his own.

Out of all the agents, Daehwi and Jinyoung are the only unit pair that are actually involved in a romantic relationship. Jihoon thinks that it must be both rewarding to be able to work alongside your lover, but also terrifying in case something bad happens to them. Admittedly, he is a little envious of their relationship.

“I heard you were injured during your last mission.” Jihoon says in lieu of a greeting.

“Hyung, you’re back!” Jinyoung says. He appear to be quite chipper despite the leg pain. From his side, Daehwi acknowledges Jihoon with a wave.

“It’s just a leg sprain,” Jinyoung insists, “nothing too serious. I just have to make sure to stay off it for a couple of weeks."

“Hi, Jihoon-hyung. How was your mission?” Daehwi greets.

“It was pretty easy. But Daniel and I are getting shipped off to our next one already. Although this one seems like it’ll be a lot more fun.” Jihoon explains, grabbing an empty chair and sitting down. “What happened here?” he asks, nodding his head towards Jinyoung’s leg.

“Honestly, it’s a minor injury. But he gave me such a scare during the mission!” Daehwi answers, shaking his head.

“I was running away from some guys and jumped down a set of stairs. May have overestimated my own abilities and ended up with a sprained leg.” Jinyoung summarises with a blithe tone.

“I was watching from the camera feed and thinking that he’d have plenty of time to outrun those guys, right? And then I look over and Jinyoung’s suddenly laying at the bottom of the stairs unmoving!” Daehwi elaborates, his voice rising towards the end.

“Oh my god, that sounds horrible!” says Jihoon.

“But I stood up as soon as I got over the pain, it wasn’t that long.” Jinyoung defends himself. “And I still managed to escape just fine.”

“Yeah, well, in that minute I felt my heart stop beating and it didn’t start up again until you got back on your feet, Jinyoung.” Daehwi rebuts sharply.

Jihoon can imagine how Daehwi must have felt. As the one behind the screen more often, it can be especially nerve-wreaking to see your partner in a situation they might not get out of okay. Sometimes, when it seems like Daniel has bitten off more than he can chew, Jihoon feels powerless sitting in a room away from all of the danger and unable to help.

“Sorry, babe. I didn’t mean to make you worry.” Jinyoung says, placing a hand behind Daehwi’s neck. “It’s just embarrassing.” He adds with a whine.

Daehwi shuffles closer on the bed and pulls Jinyoung into a hug. “I care about you so I’m always worried. But at least you’re okay now. I’m gonna take such good care of you this week.”

Jihoon smiles at the cuddling couple and quietly slips away, leaving them to enjoy their moment.

A long time ago, Jihoon had once asked Daehwi how he can bear being in a relationship when they all live such dangerous lives. Daehwi had answered that his feelings for Jinyoung would still be there regardless of whether or not they were actually together. If something bad happened and Jinyoung died, it would still hurt just as much because his heart already belonged to the other boy.

Daehwi then went on to share that being with Jinyoung brings him more happiness than pain, and that they should all enjoy what they can while they are still alive. Despite being younger, Daehwi had given the older boy some food for thought, encouraging Jihoon to favour living in the present.

'You can’t be afraid of death when you live the way that we do.’ Daehwi had said.

Chapter Text

Once Daniel and Jihoon have checked into the hotel in China and made their way up to their rooms, Jihoon immediately starts sorting through his luggage and unpacking his precious equipment. On every mission, Jihoon carries with him a range of essential contrivance that help make his life easier as Daniel’s support partner. With painstaking care, he extracts his collection of expensive cameras and microphones, displays and screens, two computers and a tablet, and a bundle of wiring and cables that never fail to tangle themselves into a mess even if he winds them up neatly beforehand. 

As the agency’s star hacker, it’s not a surprise to anyone that Jihoon loves his equipment and has spent a good amount of time tweaking his setup to cater to his specific tastes but, goddamn, is it a veritable pain in the neck to travel with. The amount of bubble-wrap and foam padding he goes through to protect his babies during transit is a nightmare.

The two of them had hashed out the details of their battle strategy the day before, and conducted a full run-through of the scenario already. The plan is for Daniel to make his move on the target, Miss Ahn, in the evening when she returns from her business meeting and will likely visit the bar after dinner. Her profile had listed ‘drinking' under her likes, and Daniel and Jihoon plan to exploit it for their own purposes. It may sound simple, but for this particular mission Daniel’s job is to be attractive enough that even if she plans on retiring to her room early, he can persuade her to join him for some drinks first before inviting her to his hotel room.

It’s a job that Daniel will have no problems with, Jihoon believes. Something about Kang Daniel seems to draw people in like moths to a lightbulb.

The best case scenario that they are aiming for is that the target will follow Daniel to his room easily, and discard her coat and bag on the floor, where they will be forgotten when she leaves in a fluster after Jihoon - playing Daniel’s younger brother - will then intrude during their ‘activities’. He should then have ample time to copy the blueprints and extract any necessary files, before Daniel can play the gentleman and return her belongings to her, leaving the target none the wiser.

Of course, Jihoon has also come up with at least 20 contingency plans in case she opts for her room instead - he will drunkenly call Daniel and ask where he is before barging in uninvited and causing a scene, swiping her bag in his theatrics before being ushered out - or if she decides to be difficult and refuses to part with her belongings, well, they have ways to knock her out and wipe her memory of the evening.

Although that’s not nearly as fun, Jihoon thinks with a pout. 

Oh, and Daniel doesn’t like being mean to innocents for no reason. That too, he supposes.

In the meantime, it is still early in the afternoon after having arrived in China, and Jihoon busies himself with setting up his accessories before showtime rolls around. The agency has also reserved the room across the hall for them, and so after Jihoon has completed the meticulous process of bugging Daniel’s room with cameras, he starts to lug his heavy contraptions to the other room.

Daniel emerges from the bathroom to see Jihoon struggling with his third bag, having given up on carrying them and is now simply dragging them out the door.

“Need some help with that, Jihoonie?” asks the older man, absent-mindedly drying his hair with a hotel-provided towel.

Standing up, Jihoon straightens his back and replies “I’m stronger than I look, Daniel. You should know that by now.” Although, as he says that, he also backs away to give room for Daniel to grab his bags.

“Of course. But all your strength is in your thighs, mostly.” Daniel says, cheekily leaning in to pinch Jihoon’s leg as he scoops up his partner's bag. He ducks out the door before Jihoon can retaliate and gleefully chimes out as he leaves “Also, you’re kind of lazy!”.

“Yah!” shouts the smaller boy, without any bite. 

The weather in France is delightfully welcoming, a good start to the Paris Fashion Week. As they alight from their taxi, Seongwoo lets Minhyun fuss with his suit, picking off lint and straightening his lapels, before they head towards the mansion where the opening event and cocktail party is being held. 

It’s a lovely, old building, adorned with traditional Parisian architecture and beautiful, white archways. They make their way through a sprawling garden of thriving plants, following the pathway lined with quaint, miniature spotlights.

From up ahead, Seongwoo can see a multitude of other high-profile guests in the fashion industry, the women looking elegant in sweeping, evening dresses, and the men poised and exuding an air of self-confidence in their suits, accented with key accessories.

As they approach the entrance, from beside him, Seongwoo observes Minhyun’s hand trembling slightly as he passes over their (forged) invitations for security to examine. After deeming them acceptable, two more guards appear and bodily scan them for any weapons or contraband before waving them in.

It’s rare for his partner to be on the front-line of missions, especially jobs that require him to act or interact with others beyond combat. Seongwoo knows this and so once they are let inside, he nudges Minhyun lightly, inconspicuously stroking up his forearm.

“Nervous? Don’t be. You fit right in.” He whispers. 

It’s honestly not a lie at all.

The purpose of this visit is to assess what types of people are attending and to mingle their way into some of the industry circles. The crowd of sophisticated and frankly, gorgeous, people is somewhat intimidating. Seongwoo offers Minhyun a pat on the back before they split up and attempt to blend in with the crowd.

Both of them have their in-ears turned on, and a secretive, concealed microphone affixed to the back of their teeth. As he sidles up to a woman in her thirties whose blonde hair has been swept up into a rather snazzy hairdo, Seongwoo can hear Minhyun’s voice in his ear as the other attempts to make small talk with a tall, thin woman from across the room.

Conversing with his own mark, Seongwoo learns that the blonde woman is a photographer and is here with a bunch of other journalists who have been invited to handle the event’s press coverage. 

“Ah, really?” Seongwoo asks, turning on the charm. “Who else did you come with?” 

He pauses to allow the woman to point out her colleagues before continuing, laying on the ‘ditzy model’ shtick. "Are you the only media that was allowed? Wow!”

“Oh, heavens no.” His companion laughs airily and mentions that there are plenty of journalists around the place, however she reveals with a hint of pride that only her team is permitted to go backstage for the Pledis fashion show later in the week. 

“Whoa, that’s so cool! Is it really hard to get in? You guys must be really good!” He pulls a wide-eyed, impressed face.

“Oh yes, they’re very strict about who they allow in. A lot of teams are asked to come backstage of shows for brands like Fantagio, Brand New, Cube. However, Pledis is notoriously difficult to get into.” She says and sips at her champagne flute.

Seongwoo makes sure to nod and look appropriately impressed but is momentarily distracted by the sound of Minhyun’s laugh tinkling in his ear. A quick glance proves that his partner has managed to attract a small circle of extremely good-looking people.

She continues, “In fact, even I’m not allowed to go. Only people from my company who have been personally approved by Pledis are allowed in.” Seongwoo privately thinks that the alcohol must have made her lips loose because she is divulging quite a lot of information to a stranger.

He makes a mental note about Pledis, though. 

Interesting, I’ll have to keep that name in mind.

It’s no lie that Kang Daniel always looks good, but whenever he gets ready for a honey pot mission, honestly, he’s deadly. He’s got his ash-blond hair artfully tussled, long legs on display in criminally tight, black jeans, and he’s sporting a sharp blazer that makes his already wide shoulders look exceedingly broad and sturdy. Even through a monochrome screen with shitty resolution, Jihoon cannot deny that Daniel looks especially good today.

He frowns and scrutinises the monitor. Looking that sinful, it’s no surprise that luring the female architect to the bar was an easy task.

From his surveillance setup in the second hotel room, Jihoon has enough angles of the scene to get a good view of Daniel leaning over into the woman’s space and tucking her hair behind her ear. 

A very cheesy and overused gesture, Jihoon thinks. How people still fall for that is beyond him.

“So, Miss Hyejin.” Daniel begins, his voice crackling across Jihoon’s earpiece. “Or should I call you noona?”

Hyejin laughs charismatically and crosses her equally long and attractive legs. “Ah, is that how you want to play?”

“Or perhaps you can call me oppa if you prefer?” Daniel quips back, smirking from behind his drink.

Jihoon scrunches up his face. “Seriously?” He whispers over the comms. 

Outwardly, Daniel makes no acknowledgement of Jihoon’s commentary. 

Hyejin gives him a playful shove. “Noona is fine. I prefer the cute type anyway.”

In his hotel room, Jihoon sits back, disinterestedly watching the screen as the two flirt and drink for another 20 minutes. No one else in the bar seems to be paying the couple any attention, and the target doesn’t appear to suspect that anything is amiss. Everything is going smoothly, however witnessing the pair dance around each other like a B-grade rom-com is mind-numbingly dull. 

Jihoon is in the middle of a yawn when he catches the target standing up. Are they going upstairs now? He shakes himself alert but it proves to be a false alarm when the target announces that she’s just going to the bathroom to freshen up.

He sighs and waits for her to be out of earshot before speaking “It’s kinda disgusting how you just have to sit there and women fawn all over you.”

Daniel chuckles faintly and lifts his glass in front of his mouth as if he’s about to take a sip. “Aww, Jihoonie, are you jealous?”

The positioning of the camera hides Daniel’s face from view, however Jihoon can guess that his partner is probably wearing that foolish, puppy-like grin of his, paired with that ridiculously charming eye-smile.

If only the public knew that Kang Daniel was actually more of a cute fool who laughs at everything and is secretly terrified of bugs. Scoffing, Jihoon wonders how many women would still fall for his sexy image then. 

Over the communicator, he informs Daniel, “I have nothing to be jealous of. I can be just as sexy as you, if not more. I just don’t try to be.”

Jihoon pauses to watch his partner trying to reign in his giggles at the bar, before he sniffs petulantly, “Stop laughing! I can get people to fall for me too!"

“Ah, of course, of course. I don’t doubt that at all. You’re very cute and attractive.” Daniel purrs warmly in his earpiece. “I actually meant that you don’t have to be jealous of me.”


Jihoon feels his treacherous heart stutter over that silly, little remark. Every now and again, Daniel will let slip an affectionate line that makes Jihoon want things that he can’t have. It’s stupid, but Daniel wears his heart on his sleeve whereas Jihoon keeps his locked up behind carefully, built-up walls.

With a voice steadier than he expected, Jihoon replies “Of you? Don’t make me sick. I would never.”

The alcohol in his glass must be slowly creeping up on him because Daniel responds, sappily, “None of these women are nearly as charming as you.”

Jihoon watches as Daniel puts down his drink and surreptitiously tilts his body towards the dark corner of the bar where he is fully aware that Jihoon has placed one of his cameras. Absurdly, Jihoon feels exposed in front of Daniel’s gaze when in reality, he knows that Daniel can’t see him at all and is simply looking into the lens of a camera. 

Holding his breath, Jihoon watches and waits for Daniel to drop his stare. 

He waits, and finally Daniel turns back to the front. 

A whisper. “You know, my favourite feature of yours are your eyes.”

“Please stop.” Jihoon whispers back.

Unperturbed, Daniel continues. “Looking into your eyes is like looking into the galaxy.”

“If you don’t stop, I’m ripping out my earpiece.” threatens Jihoon.

A pause.

“Then who will provide me with riveting commentary?” Daniel asks.

Jihoon is saved from having to answer as Miss Hyejin choose this opportune moment to return from her trip to the restroom. 

“Ready to go?” she asks and Daniel nods, grabbing his blazer and standing up from his seat.

Leaning back, Jihoon cracks his knuckles and shakes his head. He needs to concentrate on the objective.

Looks like it’s showtime. 

Eating with a tiny piece of metal in your mouth is one of the most frustrating things about this job, Seongwoo thinks, chewing carefully around his microphone.

Enough time has been spent obtaining clues and gossiping with party guests that Seongwoo has deemed it appropriate to re-group and share information. Oh, and also to take advantage of the expensive selection of food that the function’s buffet table has to offer.

Whilst waiting for Minhyun to come back, Seongwoo has taken the liberty of collecting a bit of everything onto two full plates and is sitting at a table stuffing his face. The crayfish tastes amazing and the fish is delicious even though it is a little on the overcooked side. He needs to go back for seconds once he’s done with this plate, Seongwoo decides.

Minhyun finally shows up after emerging from a separate area, looking mildly overwhelmed. He spots Seongwoo easily and makes a beeline for his table.

“Here.” Seongwoo says, sliding over one of the plates.

Smiling gratefully, Minhyun pulls out a chair and sits down opposite him. 

“So,” Seongwoo begins, cocking an eyebrow cheekily, “I see you had no problems blending right in. I told you that you’d be fine.”

“I don’t know how you can do this, it’s so stressful.” Minhyun replies, picking up a fork. Seongwoo recommends that he starts with the crayfish.

“It’s part of my charm. Amazing, I know.” Seongwoo quips back immediately. “But that group of models adopted you, like, immediately.”

“That was pretty surprising.” Minhyun admits shyly. “I didn’t think that would happen.”

“What are you talking about? You’re like the second-most handsome person in any room.” Seongwoo argues, gesturing with his crayfish-laden fork.

“Thank you? I think that’s a compliment.” Minhyun finally tries the crayfish and moans around his own fork. “Oh my god, this is amazing.” 

“I know, right?” Seongwoo says empathetically. He then adds, shamelessly, “And besides, I said second-most handsome because obviously I am the first.” 

“That’s true.” Minhyun agrees good-naturedly and laughs. “Anyway, I managed to follow them into one of the private rooms.” Minhyun explains. “I was going to try and ask them if they knew anything about the drugs, but they actually brought it up before I could.” 

“Oh? Well, I suppose it could be well known within the right circles.” Seongwoo reasons.

Minhyun nods, putting down his cutlery. “They were talking about wanting to try out the new shipment, and whether they knew anyone with connections to someone who could get their hands on any.”

“Is there anyone?” asks Seongwoo.

“Honestly, they were speaking so fast and kept switching between English and French, that it was hard to keep up. I mostly just acted like I knew what they were talking about.” Minhyun admits with a sigh. “I did manage to pick up the name ‘Pledis’ several times though.” 

“Funny you should mention that.” Seongwoo says as he starts picking apart a prawn with his fingers. “Because that’s exactly the name that I heard too.” He looks up and shares a glance with Minhyun. “I think we need to figure out a way into the Pledis fashion show.”

Minhyun hums in agreement and resumes eating. “We should pay a visit to one of the other fashion houses’ shows this week beforehand then, to get a feel for what we might be looking for.”

“Agreed. I think Pledis is the only one that’s so private about it anyway.” Seongwoo replies around a mouthful of potato. “In the meantime, let’s just enjoy the free food."

Minhyun swallows and says, “Good idea. I think we’ve got enough of a lead to relax for now.” He wipes his hands on a napkin and holds up a steamed bun from his plate, before beginning to pick off the thin skin of the dumpling with his fingers. He pauses self-consciously once he notices the other man watching him.

“What are you doing?” asks Seongwoo, a confused expression painting his features.

“It’s a bit weird, I know.” Minhyun says, ears reddening by a touch. “It’s just a habit from when I was a kid and we used to buy these from street vendors. I used to always pick off the skin because I thought it was dirty, and then now I still do it because I feel like it tastes better? It’s kinda silly.” He laughs with a shrug.

Seongwoo smiles. “I think it’s endearing."

Minhyun pauses with his steamed bun halfway to his mouth, staring blankly at his partner.

“You’re a cute weirdo.” Seongwoo clarifies, smile shifting into his trademark grin.

Minhyun stuffs the bun into his mouth anyway and sighs. “You’re teasing me, aren’t you?”

The reply comes instantly.

“It’s the highlight of my day.” says Seongwoo, winking.

Jihoon stays watching the screen until Daniel and the mark stumble into Daniel’s hotel room across the hallway. Once he has ascertained that things are indeed going smoothly according to plan, he turns away from the display and starts getting ready for his part.

He ensures that he has everything he needs to complete the information retrieval; the 2 all-important USB flash-drives are on his person and have been pre-loaded with his speed-hacking scripts. He had tested them repeatedly earlier in the day. He mentally checks that he’s got his phone, cables, and concealed weapons in a student bag, and examines his appearance in the mirror.

To play the role of Daniel’s troublesome younger brother, Jihoon has mussed up his hair and thrown on a casual pair of jeans, paired with one of Daniel’s flannel shirts. The checked, blue shirt looks overly large on him and helps to set the messy, careless look that he’s aiming for. 

He’s left his earpiece in up until the last second, just in case Daniel needs to warn him about something, but the sounds coming through the device are making him feel nauseous. Those noises are the worst part about being Daniel’s support partner during his seduction jobs and they have a tendency to linger around in Jihoon’s head, echoing in his ears for the rest of his week.

At least I don’t have to fake feeling sick, Jihoon thinks bitterly as he takes a swig of vodka from a glass, splattering the rest haphazardly down his shirt and jeans. Ripping his earbud out, he steps out into the hallway and starts banging on the door like a dog wanting to be let inside.

“Hyung!’ He shouts, voice loud in the silent hallway. “Hyung! Come on and let me in, I know you’re there!” Jihoon resumes wailing on the innocent hotel door, crying out like an impudent child. “If you don’t let me in, I’m gonna tell mom, hyung, and you know what happens-“

The door opens without warning and he lets himself fall into the room. Daniel is standing in front of him, shirtless and with his pants open, a trail of lipstick making its way up his neck and onto his ear. The woman is sitting and watching from the bed in her underwear.

Yup, Jihoon thinks, there’s that sick feeling right on cue.

He pretends to retch into his own mouth and slides down onto the carpet.

“Oh my god, how much did you drink?” Daniel asks, acting as the concerned older brother. “Ah, Hyejin-noona, I’m really sorry but I have to take care of him first.”

Jihoon peers past Daniel’s shoulders to check on the woman’s response. She doesn’t seem flustered or shaken at all, but she does look sympathetic. 

Plan B then. Time to bring out the waterworks.

“Hyung, no one loves me! Why doesn’t anyone love me? Why do I always get left behind?” Jihoon lets himself start to cry out big, fat tears. “Am I going to be alone forever?” He buries his face into his hands and starts screaming, causing a scene. Emotional breakdowns tend to make people feel uncomfortable.

Daniel slides his arms around Jihoon and carries him further into the room, gently depositing him on a chair. He turns towards the woman, who has already put her dress back on. 

He helps her zip it up and escorts her towards the door. “Listen, I really hate to do this, but my brother’s just been dumped and I think you being here isn’t helping. Do you think you could step outside for a minute while I calm him down?”

“Poor kid.” She comments, fixing her hair. 

“I’m really sorry, noona.” Daniel says, giving her head a pat.

“Nah, it’s sweet that you care about your brother.” Hyejin replies unperturbed, “I’ll wait outside.”

As soon as Daniel shuts the door, Jihoon springs up from his prone position on the chair and zeroes in on the woman’s bag. He snaps on a pair of cloth gloves, and pulls out her laptop and phone. He spares a quick glance at the entrance-way, where Daniel stands to keep an eye on Miss Ahn and if necessary, subdue her if she causes trouble - although that seems unlikely.

Jihoon plugs in one USB directly into the laptop, and he passes the other through a cable into her phone. Both of the drives should have no trouble bypassing her security measures, and will then scan her files and copy any relevant information. He leaves them to carry out their tasks, and sets about flipping through her workbooks and photographing the detailed floor plans. He makes quick work of it and in less than 5 minutes, he’s done and sets about returning everything back to the way he had found them. 

It’s quick and painless. Hacking into civilian files is child’s play for someone like Jihoon.

Daniel pads over and whispers, “Got everything?” When Jihoon nods, Daniel runs a hand through Jihoon’s hair and adds, “Good job.”

Jihoon strips off his gloves and lies back on the bed, pretending to be asleep. With his eyes closed, he can hear Daniel explaining to the target that his brother had fallen asleep after crying and unfortunately they’ll have to call it a night. The woman hums understandably and collects her belongings from Daniel. 

“That’s okay.” Jihoon hears her reply. “I can tell that you love him.”

Jihoon knows that she means it in the familial sense but it still makes his face flush.

The sound of Daniel’s footsteps get louder as he approaches the bed, and Jihoon keeps his eyes shut as Daniel sits down next to him. 

“That was quite the show you put on there.” Daniel says and pokes a finger into Jihoon’s cheek, chuckling when the younger boy slaps it away. 

Jihoon cracks an eye open. “I’m a good actor.”

The older man looks down at him, face uncharacteristically sombre. “I know. I think I actually felt a little sad when I heard you crying that no one loved you.”

Jihoon rolls over so that he faces away from Daniel. “Don’t be silly. That was just for show.”

“It’s not true anyway."

Jihoon freezes. He just wants the other to drop the topic.

“Daniel…” He begins, warningly.

“You know,” Daniel mentions casually, as he gets up from the bed. “I think that was the first time you ever called me hyung.” He grabs a change of clothes from his suitcase and walks over to the bathroom.

As he shuts the door, Jihoon quips back quietly. “Don’t get used to it.” 

Chapter Text

Minhyun sits tapping away on his phone while Seongwoo waits for the hairstylist to return, his damp hair hanging irritatingly close to his eyes and prickling his skin. They had jointly decided that a visit to the Fantagio fashion show would be a good opportunity to figure out a way to gain access into the Pledis show happening two days later. 

Under the guise of being hired models preparing for the show, the pair are currently lingering in the hair and makeup department to gather intel until the actual show starts, which is when they will hightail it out of the building. It is fortunate that Fantagio’s security seems especially lax, with a handful of staff wandering around searching for people and equipment, and minimal security measures. 

The hairstylist returns soon enough, brandishing a comb and a spray bottle of water.

“So,” she begins, a French accent clinging to her words, “you want a simple, straight cut then, am I right?”

Seongwoo nods, looking at her through his fringe. “Yeah, shorter round the sides and front please. I want to look cute.”

“Not a problem.” The woman replies, taking out a pair of black scissors from her apron pocket. 

The chair on Seongwoo’s right squeaks as Minhyun stands up. “I’ll be right back,” he announces.

He shares a look with Seongwoo through the mirror before exiting the room. Prior to arriving at Fantagio, Minhyun had pulled up a list of the models that would be attending the Pledis runway and memorised their names. Some of them are also booked for today’s show and most likely, Minhyun plans to slip into one of the dressing rooms and get his hands on their personal details. 

It is a simple job that doesn’t require much work on both of their parts. 

In the meantime, Seongwoo’s going to get a haircut. 

And, maybe, gossip with the hairstylist. They always have interesting things to share.

A scant ten minutes later and Minhyun is making his way back to the styling area, all of the information needed to secure their entry into Pledis stored safely on his phone. There were no security cameras recording inside the dressing room area, and several of the models had carelessly left their bags and belongings unattended. 

It was almost too easy.

Casually, he returns back to the seat he had been previously occupying beside Seongwoo. Crossing his legs, Minhyun checks his appearance in the mirror.

He had conveniently pilfered one of the many copies of Fantagio’s run-sheets lying around, and scanned down the list for any familiar names. Two of the names in particular stood out; Kim Mingyu and Wen Junhui, whom Minhyun knew would also be in attendance on Friday. From there, it was simply a matter of snapping some quick photos of their IDs and passes into the Pledis show before Minhyun was out the door.

He takes a look at the photos on his phone. All he will need to do before Friday is clone a copy of the passes for himself and Seongwoo, and devise a way to allow both themselves and the actual Mingyu and Junhui to enter the event.

Hmmm, the question is how to use the same invitation twice?

Minhyun is broken out of his musings when the hairstylist declares her work done and steps away from Seongwoo.

“There, all done, ma cherie.”

She collects the smock around his shoulders and brushes off his clothes, before whisking away to deal with someone else.

“How do I look?” Seongwoo asks, smiling across at Minhyun.

His hair is cut considerably shorter and the ends are choppy, but with that face he could probably pull off anything.

“It looks good.” Minhyun answers, extending a hand to touch his partner’s hair. The product the hairstylist had applied to it makes it feel softer and fluffier than normal. “Do you like it?” he asks.

Nodding, Seongwoo says, “I think it makes me look cuter and younger.” He pauses to bat his eyelashes at Minhyun, before adding seriously, “It also got us a name.”

Chatty hairdressers really are lifesavers, thinks Seongwoo.

“Oh?” asks Minhyun with an intrigued expression.

Seongwoo nods his head. “Yeah, I believe that the ‘hot, new thing’ to hit the drug scene is going by the name W. One. I think I’ve also heard that name floating around the party on the first day too.” 

“I see.” Minhyun halts with his hand raised in the air as he takes in this new information. Seongwoo looks up expectantly at him until he continues his ministrations.

Humming softly, Minhyun runs his hands through the strands of hair and Seongwoo leans into it like a cat leaning into sunlight.

Sufficiently mollified, Seongwoo asks “Did you get what you needed?"

Minhyun replies, “Yeah, I did.”

Eyes half-lidded, Seongwoo asks curiously “What is this song anyway? You’ve been singing it a lot recently.” He has often heard his partner’s soft, lilting voice repeating this song over the past few weeks. 

Minhyun has a nice singing voice, Seongwoo thinks. 

It’s a sweet, dulcet tone that suits his pretty face and gentle personality. Seongwoo likes hearing him sing.

“Oh, this? It’s just something that I’ve been practicing with Jaehwan recently.” Minhyun says, patting Seongwoo’s head once more before taking back his hand.

Casually, Seongwoo remarks “You’ve been spending a lot of time with Jaehwan lately.”

“It’s nice to sing with him.” says Minhyun, nodding. He tilts his head and recalls "You used to practice music with him too, remember?"

Seongwoo waves a hand dismissively. “Eh, that’s different. I would just play the drums while he’d play the piano. It was just for fun." He mimes playing on set of a drums with both his hands.

“This is just for fun too.” Minhyun replies, laughing. He adds on with a smile, “Jaehwan has a really nice voice."

The plane flight over from China to Britain had been short, and therefore Jihoon had opted to squeeze in playing a few rounds of PUBG on his laptop (company-issued for work, but of course Jihoon is going to install his games on it as well - he’s Jihoon), instead of catching some shut-eye like Daniel. 

Jihoon had thought that he had slept enough back at the hotel but evidently not, and he rather regrets it now; fighting back a yawn from the passenger seat of their hired van as Daniel drives them towards their destination. His eyes water as he stares at a map on the screen of his laptop. It doesn’t help that the screen shakes every time Daniel drives over a bump, which happens more often than he’d like on an offbeat, gravel road in the middle of nowhere. From the blueprints they had stolen from the architect, Jihoon had managed to narrow down the location of Y.M.C’s headquarters to a wide, open field on the outskirts of a rustic, little town in the countryside. 

“Ughh,” Jihoon groans, staring outside the window at the passing scenery, which mostly consists of cows, sheep, and grass. "I should have slept on the plane like you did, Daniel.” 

Chortling, Daniel says “Actually, I would have played too if I had brought along my computer.”

“Too bad we can’t split-screen battlegrounds.” replies Jihoon, sympathetically. 

“It’s okay, I still got a chicken dinner on the plane.” Daniel replies cheekily, looking pleased with himself.

Looking up from his laptop, Jihoon turns and deadpans at his partner. “The in-flight meal doesn’t count, Daniel.” He is about to launch into a speech about the best way to make it to the end of a game match when Daniel cuts him off.

“Oh look!” shouts Daniel, voice filled with delight. "There’s a duck sitting on a goat over there! That’s so cool.” He takes a gloved hand off the wheel to point enthusiastically at a farm on his side of the road. 

Jihoon leans forward to peer past Daniel’s shoulders. At that moment, the van goes over a large bump and jostles Jihoon’s body.

Yelping, Jihoon dives forward to save his laptop as Daniel reaches over, placing a hand protectively over Jihoon’s chest.

“Sorry, sorry!” Daniel apologises, patting Jihoon’s chest lightly. It’s hard to take him seriously though because he keeps giggling through his words. 

“Be careful,” Jihoon chides, “my equipment is all in the back.” He takes a quick look behind to check that nothing has fallen over and adds warningly, "If anything gets damaged, it’s coming out of your paycheck.”

Both of them are currently fully suited up in their mission gear; with body armour under their clothes, and their weapons and Jihoon’s expensive hardware stored safely in the back of the van for now. Daniel’s hand makes a soft tapping sound as his glove makes contact with Jihoon’s bulletproof chestplate.

“Relax, it’ll be fine.” His partner says, smiling. 

Jihoon kind of hates how he can’t stay mad at Daniel when he smiles and the corners of his eyes scrunch up like that. 

To distract himself, Jihoon runs over the plan inside his head. For Phase 2 of their mission (affectionately referred to as the ‘fun, bang bang part of the mission’ by both members of the unit), the game plan is for Jihoon to hack into Y.M.C's security system upon arrival, disabling the alarms and setting the cameras on a closed-loop cycle of footage. This should allow Daniel to sneak into the headquarters via a weakly guarded area of the building that Jihoon had pointed out from the blueprints. 

Once inside, Jihoon should be able to direct Daniel remotely to the server room, where he will then destroy the stolen information, taking out any guards encountered along the way and hopefully, making a clean getaway unless a major problem arises.

Not that they are expecting any, Jihoon is confident in his own hacking skills and Daniel’s abilities. 

There is a reason why they are the number one ranked team, after all. 

Jihoon’s laptop chooses this time to start beeping. 

“Ah!” yelps Jihoon, causing his partner to glance in his direction curiously. It’s an alert he had set up to announce that they are getting close to their destination.

He informs Daniel, “Slow down, we're here!”

This entire mission has been one of the easiest undercover assignments that Seongwoo has had the pleasure of completing and the week spent in Paris had passed by comfortably. Not to mention, that it is the one of the rare times that he gets to work the field with Minhyun rather than with Minhyun in his ear. He had been rejoicing the fact earlier except now he is beginning to regret it.

It is already Friday, which means that the Pledis Fashion Show is today.

It also means that both himself and Minhyun have been fully styled in runway-model-appropriate hair, makeup, and outfits.

I am regretting all of my life decisions, Seongwoo thinks, battling the urge to run his hands through his own hair so that he won’t mess up the arrangement it had been painstakingly styled into.

They had arrived at this smaller function hall earlier in the day, where all of the models will be dolled up and outfitted with their first set of clothes before later being transported to the actual event nearby, allowing time for the stage to be set up and technical issues to be ironed out. Seongwoo takes a second to examine himself in the full-length mirror.

The problem is not himself. Seongwoo looks good, the makeup artist had added a smokey look to his eyes that made them stand out and he had been dressed in a silky, black shirt paired with a shockingly expensive blazer; his neck embellished with a black choker picked out from the Pledis collection. If he could dress like this everyday, he would.

No, the problem is that Hwang Minhyun also looks extremely good. Firstly, he is wearing makeup that quietly enhances his already beautiful features. Seongwoo thinks that the makeup artist must have touched him with the hands of a god, because Minhyun looks like an ethereal being walking the mortal plane and Seongwoo is experiencing a divine moment. Someone needs to bring him back down to earth. 

Secondly, the stylist decided to give Minhyun a loose, wide-collared shirt that drapes off of his frame and is in a shade of vivid purple that strikingly contrasts with his partner's pale skin. It makes him look soft and intangible. Seongwoo kind of wants to die.

“You look really good, Seongwoo.” Minhyun has the audacity to say this to his face while looking like that. “Black really suits you.”

You can’t be both sweet and hot at the same time, Minhyun, it doesn’t work like that. Seongwoo wants to scream at him.

Instead, Seongwoo stares at Minhyun’s collarbones out on display and says coolly, “Of course, I always look good.”

Lifting his gaze, Seongwoo makes eye contact with Minhyun and smiles, teeth out on display. 

“Ready to go rock a runway?"

Sitting in the back of the van is stuffy, and Jihoon itches to take off his bulletproof vest but he won’t because he is a professional (nevermind what Park Woojin has to say about it), even if the fabric is starting to chafe at his shoulders.

After Daniel had parked the van, close enough to the headquarters for Jihoon to be able to tap into their network but still sufficiently far away to be able to remain inconspicuous, Jihoon had gotten to work breaking into their system from the outside.

The thing about having a private network in a company filled with multiple employees, is that there is always at least one device that is insufficiently protected that will allow someone who knows what they are searching for - someone like Jihoon - to slither his way into the framework. Today, it happens to be a wireless speaker that is connected to Y.M.C’s wi-fi network that Jihoon chooses to target, easily bypassing its outdated firmware and using it to connect to the company intranet. From there, he can remotely gain access to the security cameras and control their feeds.

“I’m in.” Jihoon informs Daniel.

“Good job, Jihoonie.” His partner replies, patting his shoulder approvingly.

From what Jihoon can tell, there are not very many cameras located inside the actual building. This means that he will not have to tamper with too many of them to cover Daniel’s tracks, but it also means that he will not have a visual on Daniel’s position or be able to keep a look out for any enemies approaching and warn Daniel. Cross-referencing the camera feeds and the blueprints of the headquarters, Jihoon determines that there is one filming the inside of the server room, which is very useful. Despite this, most of the cameras face outside and their primary purpose seems to be guarding against trespassers. 

Jihoon spots an opening that they can use.

“Daniel, there’s a balcony on the second floor over here that isn’t recorded on any of the cameras.” Jihoon taps the screen, twisting it to face Daniel. “You can vault up that wall from the ground, that entire area is a blind spot.”

Daniel studies the map on Jihoon’s laptop. “Alright. I’ll slip in from the bottom and then come up through here, got it.”

Jihoon nods and takes back his computer, typing away at the keyboard. “I’ll disable the alarms while you do that."

He hears Daniel checking and reloading his gun, and footsteps as his partner shuffles around the van, gathering his things.

“Wish me luck!” says Daniel, opening the back door of the van.

Turning back to Daniel, Jihoon adds before the other can leave, “You’re powered up, get in there.”

Beaming back, Daniel replies, “Attack commences in 30 seconds!” before escaping out the back door of the van.

It’s a silly ritual that they’ve been doing since they started playing Overwatch together, but it never fails to put a smile on both of their faces.

Laughing softly, Jihoon cracks his knuckles and gets onto disabling the alarm system.

Daniel’s microphone feed is picking up his grunts and pants as he scales the wall, and delivering them into Jihoon’s earpiece. 

“I’m in.” Daniel whispers, “Tell me what you need me to do.”

Since there isn’t a camera on Daniel at the moment, Jihoon has to rely on the tracker that the other is wearing to locate his whereabouts. Presently, Daniel shows up as a blinking red dot on Jihoon’s computer screen. As he travels around the building, the dot moves around a simple black and white map of the building that Jihoon had crudely programmed based on the floor plans.

“Take the first right you see and then just go straight along the corridor until you see a staircase.” Jihoon relays over the comms system, watching the little, red dot intensely. “I’ve already put any cameras that you’ll come across on a feedback loop.”


Jihoon warns, “Just keep an eye out for people patrolling, I can’t get a good view on some areas.” 

“Got it.” Daniel murmurs back, and his dot starts heading towards the end of the hallway.

It has been a tense 20 minutes but Jihoon has successfully guided Daniel all the way to the server room; only needing to take down 3 guards along the way. After taking care of the second one, Daniel had hid the body in an empty room and, knowing that Jihoon could see him on one of the cameras, put on a show of dusting off his hands and mimed whistling innocently as he left.

Sometimes Daniel will do things like this just to make Jihoon smile. He has told Jihoon before that he will keep joking around until he hears Jihoon laugh over the microphone. 

Giggling, Jihoon hushes himself. “Concentrate, Kang Choding.

It is unfortunate that Jihoon doesn’t have a visual on Daniel anymore as the other man stands in front of the door of the objective, however the tracker reassures him that Daniel is indeed at the correct location. The server room camera shows that the room is currently devoid of humans, the only movement coming from the blinking of lights as the machines continue to function. 

“I’ve disabled the alarm on the door lock. All you have to do now is discreetly bust the lock and you’re good to go. The room is empty.” says Jihoon.

“Will do.” comes Daniel’s reply, followed by the metallic noises of him fiddling with the lock. 

A loud beeping emits from Jihoon’s laptop and a window pops up, lines of code flashing down and filling his screen too fast for Jihoon to read. 


Jihoon pauses the wall of text, scrolling back up to read what is happening. His eyes pick out ‘alarm reboot’, ‘camera refresh rate’, and ‘frequency jammer’.

It seems like someone has noticed what Jihoon has been up to and reset the alarm system. It’s also highly likely that guards are going to show up any time soon. 

“Daniel! Don’t bother with being subtle anymore, just blow the lock and get inside. Do what you need to do. Quickly!” Jihoon yells, panic seeping into his voice.

Jihoon doesn’t hear a reply and Daniel’s dot reveals that he hasn’t moved from his spot. “Daniel! Did you hear me?"

The red dot blinks two more times before disappearing from the map entirely; the white noise that is always present in his earpiece when their line is connected dies out, and Jihoon is left sitting alone with a deafening silence ringing in his ears.

Walking through the corridors of the exhibition hall, Seongwoo can faintly hear music playing from the fashion show as it progresses outside, the heavy, bass beats echoing through the thin walls. The sound of muffled, pedestrian chatter also carries through from the main area as Seongwoo and Minhyun sneak their way around the backstage hallways. 

Since arriving at the event hall, things had proceeded smoothly according to plan and Minhyun’s forged passes had easily gotten them into the Pledis show itself. As expected, security had definitely been more stringent than it had been for the previous events that they attended throughout the week, Seongwoo had noticed. The bouncer had checked their pass cards, examining their fake IDs and scrutinising their faces individually, before deeming them legitimate and scanning their invitations nonchalantly. 

To get around the issue of borrowing another person’s invite, Minhyun had engineered a way of diverting the signal from the scanner by forcing it to connect to Minhyun’s own private network, hosted on his phone. The device would accept the invites and mark them as ‘in attendance’ however the message would not pass onto the actual server, allowing Kim Mingyu and Wen Junhui to remain as ‘absent’ until their real counterparts were scheduled to arrive, later in the evening.

After receiving approval from the bouncer, a set of security guards had then performed a body scan on them both before granting them entrance. 

Seongwoo really hates being weaponless on a job. He feels rather naked without his beloved Glock.

Although, he’s about to get actually naked in a second.

Navigating through the mess of corridors backstage, Seongwoo has located the staff changing rooms where they plan to switch out their fancy, eye-catching model attire for a set of spare crew uniforms that will allow them to pass through the restricted areas without attracting any unwanted attention. 

He cracks the door open, eyes darting around as he scans the interior quickly.

“It’s clear.” He informs Minhyun, ducking inside the room. Seongwoo turns back to his partner and adds, “Although, if there was someone there, I was preparing to act like we were looking for an empty room to make out. Missed opportunity, am I right?” 

Minhyun chuckles and pushes him further forward. “Sure, just start getting changed already."

It’s such a shame to abandon these clothes so soon, Seongwoo thinks as he strips off his all-black ensemble, exchanging it for a simpler set of casual, black clothes. 

At least he gets to witness Minhyun taking off that outfit though. That’s an equivalent trade.

Combing back his hair, Seongwoo puts on a plain black cap and slips back out into the hallway. 

Spending the duration of the week chatting with models and socialites, makeup artists and stylists, and various other professionals in the industry has given them a pretty solid lead on the case. Rumour has it that one of the fashion houses is dabbling in illegal activities and certain social circles are mentioning that a new kind of drug called W. One should be hitting town fairly soon. There is undeniably something fishy going on with Pledis and it isn’t hard to put the pieces together. 

All they need to do now is find the evidence.

Minhyun steps out and joins him in the corridor, lightly shutting the door behind him.

“I'll search this floor. You go up to the top level and we’ll make our way through until we meet in the middle.” Minhyun says, turning towards the emergency stairwell.

“Good luck.” Seongwoo replies.

Daniel steps back from the door, rearing up to provide enough space for him to get out his gun and shoot the lock open. He’s lining up his shot when Jihoon pipes up again.

“Daniel! Did you hear me?” 

“Yeah! I’m taking the shot now!” Daniel shouts back. He’s about to pull the trigger when Jihoon’s voice rings again, crackling with static and sounding disjointed in his earpiece.

“Daniel! Reply me! Are you alright?” Daniel pauses, gun still raises in the air. Jihoon continues shrieking in his ear, an urgency belied by the level of his voice rising. “Yah, Kang Daniel! I need to know if you’re okay. Hey!"

“Yes, I heard you. Jihoon, calm down!” 

There is silence on the line and so Daniel assumes that the other had heard him but then Jihoon says, in the quietest, most insecure voice Daniel has ever heard him use.


Jihoon stares at his computer, eyes blank and expression dazed, as his brain helpfully conjures up a million different scenarios. 

Abruptly, Daniel has gone completely dark on Jihoon - no tracker, no visuals, and no communication. This has never happened to Jihoon before; no agent under his supervision has ever severed all connection unplanned and definitely not at such a crucial point in the mission. It makes Jihoon fear the worst.

Cold panic begins to seep through his veins. 

Breathing unevenly and with a shaking voice, Jihoon tries weakly, “Daniel-hyung?"

He waits. 

Still no response.

Jihoon sits immobilised as the sickly feeling of dread begins to pool in his gut, threatening to take control of his body. Panic tries to dig its claws into him but Jihoon stamps it back down. This isn’t the time to be worrying, this is the time for action. 

Keeping his composure, Jihoon assesses the situation objectively. His communication line with Daniel cut off before Jihoon could warn him about the alarm triggering and that Y.M.C’s henchmen would undoubtably be searching for him soon, that is, if they hadn’t started already. This means that Daniel is still aiming for a subtle approach and will be taking his time breaking into the room and destroying the files, leaving him vulnerable and unaware that the organisation is actively looking for him.

Logically, Daniel should still be able to do his job even with the change of circumstances. All he needs is for someone to buy him more time and distract the hired goons. 

Jihoon stands up, ripping off his headset and trading-in his laptop for a gun. 

"Fuck it, I’m going in."

Seongwoo keeps his head ducked down and cap low as he walks around, searching every locked and unlocked door that he comes across, with a standard excuse that he’s ‘looking for the sound engineer’ ready on the tip of his tongue. 

Closing the door to someone’s office behind him, Seongwoo has rounded off all the rooms on this floor and is about to head down a level when Minhyun speaks up in his feed.

“Hey, Seongwoo, you need to come and take a look at this. I think I’ve found it.” 

Seongwoo opens the door to the staircase and peers around. 

Once he has confirmed that he’s alone, he replies. “Where are you? I’m heading down now.”

There is an odd noise that sounds like pebbles being shaken coming through on the line before his partner offers a reply. 

“I’m at the very bottom of the building.” Minhyun explains before elaborating, "It’s like a secret basement level. You can’t reach it through the normal staircase. I had to sneak into the kitchens and take the storage elevator down.”

Hurrying down, Seongwoo grabs hold of the railing and takes the stairs two at a time. 

“And you’re sure this is it?” asks Seongwoo, slightly more out of breath than he’d like to admit.

Another strange noise; this time it sounds like fabric being ripped.


Minhyun sounds certain and that’s good enough for Seongwoo. He’s reached the end of the staircase now and has started making his way towards the kitchens.

Keeping his voice low, Seongwoo replies “Alright, see you soon."

The air in the basement is cold and carries a musty staleness to it, Seongwoo can feel the chill making its way down to his bones already. 

As he steps out of the elevator, he can see Minhyun surrounded by large, industrial-sized rolls of white fabric and plastic containers filled with what appears to be small beads or pearls. His partner has also procured a ledger of some kind and is busy snapping photos of the pages on his phone.

“Hey,” Seongwoo says, announcing his presence.

“Oh, hey! Come and take a look at this.” Minhyun says excitedly, flipping the notebook to the back and showing Seongwoo. 

Leaning in, Seongwoo skims the page. There are blocks of names and numbers arranged in neat rows and columns, with dates and locations scribbled at the top of each section of writing. After giving Seongwoo enough time to process what’s on the page, Minhyun then flips to the front, where a large ‘W1’ has been written in red pen.

“I think this is a record of clients or shipments of W. One,” explains Minhyun, “but that’s not all."

Seongwoo watches as his partner proceeds to drag over one of the containers and prise the lid open.

“These all look like normal sequins and beads, right?” says Minhyun, waiting for Seongwoo to nod before continuing. “They are, but there is a fake bottom on all of these.”

Minhyun bends over and sifts his hands through the white baubles before grasping onto something and pulling. The top tray slides up, revealing a hidden compartment filled with more white pill-shaped objects except that these are not for decorative purposes. 

“Oh my god.” says Seongwoo, awestruck.

“I know, right?” replies Minhyun, setting the tray down. He then walks briskly over to a roll of material left carelessly on the floor. “And I was thinking that, if they’re disguising the drugs as beads for transporting, they might also be hiding them amongst the actual fabrics, and look!”

He grasps the loose end of the fabric and tugs, unfurling the roll and allowing Seongwoo to get a good look at the white material. The lighting down here is dim however it is enough for Seongwoo to be able to make out the tiny divots of ‘beads’ sewn into a brocade on the fabric itself. 

“They are weaving the drugs into the brocade itself! That’s crazy!” Minhyun exclaims, eager to share his discovery.

“Oh my god,” Seongwoo repeats. “Oh my god, Minhyun, you’re amazing! I could kiss you right now.” He says, completely sincere.

Minhyun beams back widely. “Help me gather enough samples for us to give to the police and take back to MNET. I’m gonna take photos of all the evidence.”

Picking up his jaw from where it hangs open, Seongwoo says “You are absolutely brilliant.”

The two work intently on their individual tasks in silence before Minhyun starts humming softly under his breath.

“You must really like that song, huh?” comments Seongwoo, sifting through another box of drugs. “I guess that means the person you have a crush on is Jaehwan.”

Minhyun pauses, lowering his phone. “What are you talking about?”

Seongwoo replies in an even tone. “You mean it’s not Jaehwan?” 

Confused, Minhyun walks over and approaches Seongwoo. “No? Why would you think that?"

Seongwoo stands up and faces his partner, looking him in the eye as he explains his reasoning. “You spend a lot of your free time with him. The only other person you go out of your way to hang out with is Jinyoung.” 

Minhyun stares blankly at him. Seongwoo is the one asking the questions but he feels kind of judged right now.

He pauses. “It’s not Jinyoung, is it?"

Minhyun frowns and says immediately “Of course it’s not Jinyoung!"

“Oh, well then it has to be Jaehwan then.” Seongwoo says calmly, assessing Minhyun’s expression. There is an eyelash clinging to Minhyun’s cheek so he reaches over and picks it off, before continuing “You spend so much time with him, what am I supposed to think?”

Minhyun crosses his arms and says petulantly. “I don’t spend the most time with Jaehwan.”

“Are you sure about that? Because I’m pretty sure you do.” Seongwoo puts one hand on his hip and gestures with the other, pointing at Minhyun’s face to drive his point across.

Agitated, Minhyun waves his finger away with his own hand and sighs long-sufferingly. “I think you are forgetting about someone."

Seongwoo scrunches his face up as he thinks. “No. No, I’m sure of it. You like Jaehwan.” He says, looking self-assured.

“I don’t like Jaehwan, I like you.” Minhyun blurts out before recoiling, looking aghast at himself. 


Minhyun. Hwang Minhyun likes him. Ong Seongwoo.

Seongwoo stares at Minhyun unseeingly.

Minhyun likes me. Seongwoo repeats it in his head but it feels like the words have no meaning anymore.

“This is all very unprofessional.” Minhyun says, turning away and trying to flee.

Snapping awake, Seongwoo shakes himself out of his stupor and grabs Minhyun by the elbows, twisting him back around to face him before leaning in, hastily pressing his lips against Minhyun’s own.

Oh wow, suddenly he’s kissing Hwang Minhyun. How did this happen? Is Minhyun going to push him off?

Seongwoo has to fight back a smile when he notices Minhyun tentatively kissing him back.

Chapter Text

Panting harshly, Daniel sprints through the building, his long strides covering as much distance as possible as he makes his way down to the ground floor. 

Hearing Jihoon utter that haunting 'Daniel-hyung’ in his ear, in the most broken-sounding voice that Daniel has ever heard the younger boy use, had already made Daniel want to recklessly abandon his task to go and comfort Jihoon. Instead, he had settled for verbally trying to placate the boy over the microphone. However, it quickly became evident that although Daniel could hear Jihoon loud and clear, the same could not be said about the reverse. 

Apprehensively, Daniel had been listening in when Jihoon had announced that he was ‘going in’ before his partner had rashly abandoned his headset and truly cut off all communication completely. After hearing that, Daniel had considered his options for all of a second before making the decision to forgo the server room for now and make sure that Jihoon was safe.

Gun still in hand, Daniel doesn’t bother to keep his presence subtle anymore as he barrels down the hallways without looking back.

His palms are sweaty and his heart is racing with adrenaline but it’s not the usual kind that Daniel is used to on these kind of missions. There is a certain thrill of exhilaration that comes with gambling between life or death, however most of the time it is his own life that he is risking and he is always fairly sure that the odds are stacked in his favour.

This is an entirely different story.

Going in? What on earth does Jihoon think he is doing?

According to MNET policy, every agent pair has a set of locators hidden inside the heel of their boot, that allows them to find each other if they become lost or held hostage. In the event of an emergency where an agent needs to avoid being found, or in the rare case that an agent goes rogue, the tracker can be easily detached from the shoe intentionally. 

Luckily for Daniel, Jihoon’s locator is still alive and functioning, and it gives him a rough idea of the direction that he should head in with a crude estimate on Jihoon’s proximity. 

Wait for me, Jihoon-ah. Don’t go playing the hero when you don’t need to.

As Daniel hurries along towards the main entrance, he hears the alarming sounds of gunfire and men shouting before he is able to see what’s going on. 

Rounding the corner, Daniel is met with the scene of his little partner holding his own in the courtyard and fighting off multiple attackers with only two 9mm pistols, one in each hand. 

Transfixed, Daniel watches as Jihoon fires a shot at a man approaching him from the side, catching the man off-guard, and then raises his right leg high into the air, roundhouse-kicking two other men trying to overpower him in their faces. Jihoon casually ends both of them with the same gun before aiming his other gun at new attackers who think that they can catch him by surprise - they can't.

Running up to him, Daniel shouts out with a cry over noise of the fight. 

“Park Jihoon!"

Startled, Jihoon spins around, an expression of shock visible on his face as he replies, “Daniel?! What are you doing here?"

Jihoon freezes and looks as though he is about to say something when Daniel notices a man lunging at Jihoon with a crowbar and grabs Jihoon’s wrist, decisively pulling the other boy behind him and clocking the attacker over the head with his own gun. 

Both of them pause and stare as the man falls down, knocked out. There isn’t any time for idle chit-chat however, as a another man tries to tackle Daniel only to share the same fate as the man before as Daniel whirls around, dodging the attack and slamming the butt of his Beretta into the man’s skull.

The way that Daniel fights is like he is dancing, graceful almost.

Shaking off his stupor, Jihoon gets back into the battle.

After successfully finishing off the current wave of Y.M.C henchmen, there is a lull in the level of urgency and danger - a temporary illusion of peace - and Jihoon and Daniel both allow themselves to lower their guards and relax.

Daniel observes that Jihoon is wearing a pinched expression as he checks his guns, detaching and discarding his emptied magazines, and pocketing any spare bullets before reloading both of his firearms with new magazines. 

Unwittingly, Daniel’s gaze follows Jihoon’s hands and finds that the other boy’s fingers are trembling lightly, mirroring Daniel’s own and reminding him of how worried he had felt when he chased after Jihoon in the first place.

Clearing his throat, Daniel stares down at Jihoon with his arms crossed. 

“What were you thinking Jihoon?” Daniel sighs and shifts his weight from one foot to the other. "Do you know how worried I was when I realised what you were planning to do?”

The shorter boy pauses in his actions and matches Daniel’s stare unwaveringly. 

Jihoon explains calmly “I had that handled, you saw.”

Daniel replies, hints of exasperation bleeding into his tone, “I know that you’re capable but for how long? Were you planning on taking on the whole agency’s manpower alone?” He waves a hand in the air towards the building and then gestures at the carnage on the floor.

“But-“ Jihoon tries to interject with a petulant expression but gets cut off again by Daniel.

“You were being too reckless! I came over as soon as I heard what you were going to do!”

Daniel punctuates his speech by placing his hands on Jihoon’s shoulders, gripping them tightly. Whilst he had been talking, he had naturally gravitated towards Jihoon and now the pair were standing close enough that Daniel can see his own worried countenance reflected back at him in Jihoon’s eyes. 

Jihoon takes a second to process the words before frowning up at Daniel.

“Wait,” says Jihoon urgently, "You mean you didn’t finish destroying the information?”

“No, I rushed over straight away.” replies Daniel, shaking his head, his large hands still on Jihoon’s shoulders. "You’re my first priority.” 

Jihoon tries to ignore the pleased shiver that moves up his spine at his partner's words. It’s unlikely considering how many layers of clothing and light armour Jihoon is wearing, but Jihoon thinks that he can almost feel the warmth from Daniel’s hands seeping through his clothes. 

Trying to appear unaffected, Jihoon leans into Daniel’s space and argues back. “That was the best opportunity that we could ask for! The room was empty and the security team was distracted by me! They’ll be swarming the entire building now.” 

Jihoon argues because it is his job to make sure that Daniel succeeds. It’s what Jihoon does - supports Daniel and helps him to complete the mission. 

He’s not supposed to cause Daniel trouble.

He’s not supposed to become a liability - or worse, Daniel's point of weakness. 

It’s one of the points where he and Daniel differ. Daniel, despite being thought of as a ‘stone, cold killer’ by the rookie agents, wears his heart on his sleeve and actively goes out of his way to not bring harm to innocent parties. On the other hand, Jihoon is comparatively more calculative. He doesn’t enjoy endangering civilians but sometimes certain situations cannot be avoided. 

Besides, in this case, the only one Jihoon is putting in danger is himself and it is a risk that he is willing to take.

Jihoon takes a step backward, forcing Daniel’s arms to drop down and mutters under his breath “and you dare to call me reckless”.

Surveying the headquarters building behind them, Jihoon sighs and addresses Daniel seriously. 

“Listen, from now on, the mission is top priority. I can take care of myself."

The firm pressure of Seongwoo’s lips on his own is unexpected but not unwelcomed, and Minhyun finds himself kissing back unconsciously, placing his hands on Seongwoo’s waist as the other man tightens his hold on Minhyun’s arms. 

Selfishly, Minhyun allows himself a minute to bask in the moment, something that he had been idly fantasizing about for so long but without any real expectations. 

Minhyun had first realised that he liked his partner more than he probably should nearly half a year ago, when the two were coming back to the base after completing a successful mission. He and Seongwoo had always gotten along well, even before they permanently became partners, and Minhyun had always just assumed that his feelings for Seongwoo laid somewhere between a brother and a best friend.

In their partnership, Seongwoo would constantly tease him and compliment him in equal amounts, and being around the other man had always felt comfortable since Seongwoo never failed to jump on every opportunity to make fun of Minhyun for being clumsy, or awkward, or unfunny; it felt like he didn’t have to live up to his ‘perfect’ image (a reputation garnered within the agency after the younger agents had gushed about his full marks on the half-yearly assessment and only aided by the ‘Hwang Ge-Liang’ jokes).

Back then, the pair were going through their routine divestment of their weapons, armour, and equipment after returning to MNET. At the time, Minhyun had been neatly folding and stacking his clothes and possessions, before naturally moving over and doing the same for Seongwoo’s. Upon noticing, Seongwoo had casually remarked that Minhyun’s habit was ‘cute’ and in that moment, when Minhyun looked up and saw Seongwoo’s face, his hair matted with sweat from the mission and his trademark cocky grin on his lips, he felt a wave of emotions rushing to the forefront of his mind and drowning out his thoughts.



Mild exasperation.

But mostly, longing.

Seongwoo had chuckled then, patting Minhyun on the back, and then he had turned to leave the room so that they could report to Jisung. 

Snapping out of his reverie, Minhyun had turned to follow Seongwoo and pushed the feelings to the back of his mind, but the longing had always stayed.

The sensation of kissing Seongwoo is pleasant and somehow serene, like it feels right, and Minhyun finds himself awash with feelings of coziness and content. However, one of them has to be the responsible one, and it sure as hell isn’t going to be Ong Seongwoo, so Minhyun reluctantly brings himself to pull away. 

Seongwoo still has his eyes closed and he angles his face forward trying to follow Minhyun’s lips. It takes all of Minhyun’s willpower and professionalism to resist leaning in again.

“We need to finish up here and get out before we get caught.” says Minhyun, face flushed as he straightens out his clothes self-consciously. 

“Wha-“ Seongwoo blinks back at Minhyun with confusion before snapping out of his daze. “Oh, right, yeah. Umm, I’ll just- Yeah, okay.” He lifts a hand up to his lips but then aborts the motion halfway, arm raised awkwardly in the air, before deciding to spin back around and face the boxes again. 

The silence is uncomfortable and carries with it an undercurrent of anticipation, but the evidence is easy enough to procure and soon enough, Minhyun rises up from his position on the floor beside the fabrics. 

“You ready to go? I’m done over here.” asks Minhyun, returning the materials to the way that he had found them originally.

“Yeah, one sec!” comes the reply.

Seongwoo has one arm buried in a box of faux beads and is rummaging around for the secret compartment hiding the drugs. Honestly, he has enough samples of W. One already but the completionist in him wants to get as many as possible in case there are discrepancies between batches. 

In hindsight, it was probably an unnecessary decision.

A beam of light flashes in Seongwoo’s face, blinding him, before he hears the click of a gun and a stranger’s gruff voice yelling out.

“Freeze! Raise your arms above your head and stand up slowly. Who are you?”

Seongwoo follows the instructions and discovers that the voice belongs to a young man dressed in a security uniform who is currently holding a gun to his face. 

Staying frozen in his position, Seongwoo mentally weighs his options up. 

Unfortunately, he doesn’t have any of his usual weapons because they wouldn’t have made it pass security undetected. He considers the guard’s stature, he looks rather muscular so Seongwoo wouldn’t be able to take him on unarmed but perhaps he can outwit the man and steal his gun. Although, that standard issue firearm is not going to be silenced and will probably attract a lot more attention than Seongwoo would like.

From this angle, Seongwoo can’t actually see where Minhyun is but he knows that Minhyun must be hiding in the shadows behind him somewhere and staying undetected. If they team up they might be able to take the guard down, but then what?

Tie him up with the rolls of drug-imbued fabric, I guess, thinks Seongwoo, a little desperately.

Whilst Seongwoo has been playing the accommodating suspect, the security guard raises up a small walkie-talkie radio and is about to contact for backup. 

That’s definitely not a good idea.

Seongwoo is about to launch himself at the guard and steal either his gun or radio (Seongwoo hasn’t quite decided yet, but based on trajectory, probably the gun), when Minhyun appears from behind him and takes the guard by surprise.

What he does next takes Seongwoo by surprise too.

Stunned, Seongwoo remains frozen and watches as Minhyun pushes the guard into the wall and, to his horror, grabs the man by the chin and kisses him - open-mouthed, and with tongue of all things.

Seongwoo’s own mouth drops open as he stares on in shock and confusion.

What. The. Hell.

Nimbly, Minhyun ducks behind a stack of wooden boards the instant he sees the stark, white flash of the torchlight. He remains crouched down and tilts his head just enough to be able to peer over at Seongwoo from his hiding place. From there he can see his partner’s arms from where they are raised high in the air and the security guard walking over.

Minhyun’s heart catches in his throat when he sees the gun aimed in Seongwoo’s direction.

The feeling gets worse when he realises that his partner doesn’t seem to have a battle plan in mind and continues to hold his pose complacently.

Come on, what are you doing? Don’t just stand there.

Urgently, Minhyun keeps his eyes on Seongwoo and the guard as he digs around for the hidden pocket located on his belt that stores something that he may be able to use here.

Successfully finding the compartment, Minhyun retrieves a little, red pill courtesy of the MNET research and development team.

(‘The victim’s muscles will instantly go lax.‘ Jeong Sewoon had cheerfully informed him.)

Popping it into his mouth, Minhyun takes care not to swallow it himself and springs out from behind the wooden crates, where he had been taking cover in the dark.

Here goes nothing.

Utilising the element of surprise, Minhyun dives into the guard, counterbalancing his weight so as to tackle the bulkier man and effectively pin the other to the wall. The guard opens his mouth to shout a warning and Minhyun seizes the opportunity, grabbing the man’s head and angling his own face to meet his lips, forcefully pushing the pill into the other’s mouth with his tongue. 

It’s a brutal kiss, if you could call it that, lacking any of the romance that was alive in the kiss with Seongwoo from minutes before. 

Ignoring Seongwoo’s reaction for now, Minhyun presses his palm over the guard’s mouth and nose area, pressuring him into swallowing the tablet. Minhyun watches the guard’s expression hesitantly, uncertain if the pill is going to work. Fortunately, his doubts are unfounded and the guard goes tumbling down to the floor like a sack of potatoes soon enough.

Stepping back, he grabs Seongwoo’s arm and urges him towards the exit.

“Let’s go, before any others decide now’s a good time to show up!” exclaims Minhyun.

Snapping his jaw shut and following along, Seongwoo still has enough sense about him to make a quip back at Minhyun, even as he rushes out the door.

“You know, I’m feeling slightly turned on, but also really annoyed because why does he get a better make-out session with you than I did?”

Running down the corridor, Minhyun tilts his head back to grace Seongwoo with a playful smile and says, “When we make it back to the base, I’ll let you kiss me however you want."

The second time around, Jihoon is realising that it is markedly more of a challenge to get back into Y.M.C’s server room now than it was the first time for Daniel on his own. 

All of Y.M.C’s men are on high alert and are patrolling the hallways, ready to send for backup at a moment’s notice. To get past the first floor alone, Daniel and Jihoon have had to employ various strategies to sneak pass the men or take them out before they get a chance to ambush the pair. 

It’s not easy. 

So far, Daniel has received a sizeable cut in his upper arm from a mercenary wielding a machete, and Jihoon had suffered a sharp blow to the head with the blunt end of a pistol that had let out an audibly loud, cracking sound.

It had made Jihoon’s vision swim and by the time he had caught his balance, drops of blood had already started making their way down from his temple and past Jihoon’s eyes. He’d had to reassure Daniel that it looked worse than it actually was but either way, the elder had ensured that man who did that to Jihoon was bleeding out of his own head now and lying cold on the floor.

After that instance, the pair had changed their strategy.

At Daniel’s insistence, Jihoon had switched out his dual-wielded handguns for the silenced, semi-automatic rifle he had brought strapped to his back. Under their new strategy, Jihoon would take out enemies at long-range, wiping out the backup before they could arrive whilst simultaneously profiding cover for Daniel - who would handle close-range combat and protect Jihoon against any attackers before they got within range to do any actual damage. 

Jihoon had wanted to argue that he was perfectly fine, even with the injury, but he couldn’t fault that Daniel’s idea was an effective one so he had submitted willingly. With their changed tactics, the hallways clear out in record time.

Finishing of an enemy, Daniel snaps the man's neck just as Jihoon guns down their last attacker, trying to escape around the corner. 

The two share a look with each other.

“You okay?” asks Daniel, eyeing Jihoon’s head and body for injuries.

Jihoon nods his head and replies, tiredly, “Yeah, I’m fine.” He glances over at Daniel’s left side. “How’s your arm holding up?”

“It’s alright.” Daniel shakes his arm out and tugs at the bandage that they had hurriedly fastened on earlier.

Gently pushing Daniel’s hand away, Jihoon leans in and straightens the piece of fabric, tugging the ends to ensure that it as tight as it needs to be. Jihoon can feel Daniel’s breath fanning softly on his face as the older man stares down at him and watches his actions fondly.

“There, that should hold.” Jihoon announces as he pulls away, smiling shakily. “We should head up a level now.”

Jihoon pauses when he realises that Daniel has made no movement to leave yet. 

“Hmm? What is it?” asks Jihoon, facing his partner.

Daniel remains silent, staring wordlessly at Jihoon’s face. His eyes trail down from Jihoon’s forehead, to his eyes, cheekbones, and down to his lips. 

Jihoon matches his open stare, resolutely fighting back a blush. 

Finally, Daniel raises his uninjured arm, his right hand meeting Jihoon’s temple in a soft caress before dropping to cup his cheek.

Jihoon waits. 

But Daniel doesn’t say anything.

Eventually, Daniel drops his hand and turns to walk up the stairs. 

“Let’s go.” he says.

Alone, Jihoon is left staring at Daniel’s broad back, contemplating the moment that they shared, before briskly following after.

When Jihoon arrives at the next floor, he finds Daniel glancing around furtively and wearing a confused expression. 

Jihoon glances questioningly at his partner.

“I don’t see anyone? There’s no one around.” says Daniel, pitching his voice up towards the end of the sentence in uncertainty.

Jihoon sidles up close to Daniel and takes a glimpse at the level as well.

“That can’t be right. We’ve only taken down around 30 people. That’s not enough to be their entire team.” reasons Jihoon. He peers up at the security camera mounted on the wall. “They must know we’re here.”

“If they’re not waiting for us here, then that means…” Daniel trails off insinuatingly and lowers his guard by a fraction.

Jihoon nods. “Right, that means that they must be waiting to ambush us somewhere else.” He too lowers his weapon and adopts a more casual stance. "I doubt they’ve given up on catching us entirely.”

Sighing deeply, Daniel raises a hand and drags it down his face.

“Sorry, this is my fault. I should’ve just broken in earlier when I had the chance.” offers Daniel, clearly still feeling guilty.

“Don’t apologise. I’m sorry I yelled at you.” Jihoon says quietly. He switches the safety on his rifle back on, and reattaches it to his back. Pulling out his pistols again, Jihoon adds “Let’s just head directly to the server room and see what it’s like there. I’ll come up with something.”

“Okay,” replies Daniel, his shoulders weighing down heavily, “I trust you."

The corridor of the server room is suspiciously empty when they get there. 

Daniel remembers being here the first time and sincerely regrets not finishing the job off when he had the perfect opportunity. It goes completely against his intentions but his actions had inadvertently put both himself and Jihoon in more danger than they needed to. 

I should just trust Jihoon from now on.

As they near the outside of the door, Jihoon gestures for Daniel to go round to the other side so that the two of them are flanking the door on opposite sides.

From earlier, Jihoon knows that there is no camera feed outside of this particular door so Y.M.C should not be able to see what Jihoon is doing right now. 

Tucking away his guns for now, Jihoon retrieves a miniature camera setup from his bag, similar to the types that he uses for his drones. Squatting down, Jihoon carefully slides one end of the thin wire, the end that the camera is affixed to, surreptitiously underneath the gap at the bottom of the door. Turning his attention to the screen, he steers the camera left and right to get the full view of the scenario inside of the server room.

From what Jihoon can gather, there appear to be around 10 to 15 men in the room, heavily armed and expecting them to arrive soon. He swivels the camera a little further and spots a window on the opposite side of the room. That is one option for entry, however it probably won’t do them any good since they will only be able to catch the men off-guard for a few seconds, and that’s not enough time to get a stable advantage. 

What they need is both the element of surprise and a distraction.

Jihoon ponders and turns to Daniel, who has been watching him patiently.

A distraction that will allow them to catch the enemy unawares.

Fervently, Jihoon runs through a mental checklist of all of the equipment that he and Daniel are carrying. 

Guns, melee weapons, tools, explosives- 

Got it.

Discreetly, Jihoon takes out the miniature flash-bang he had received from Sewoon and shows it to Daniel before gesturing his plan to his partner.

Comprehension dawns on Daniel’s face and he steels himself, readying his gun and nodding at Jihoon.

Jihoon raises his hand and counts silently.




On three, Daniel moves in front of the door and blows the lock clear with three well-aimed, hard-hitting bullets, kicking the door wide open and providing cover fire long enough for Jihoon to reach around and throw the flash-bang into the room. Both of them spin back to their original positions on either side of the door and protect their eyes and ears as the flash-bang works its magic.

Once it is safe to enter, Daniel and Jihoon head into the room to find Y.M.C’s team of men kneeling on the floor and disorientated, as expected. From there, it is easy work to eliminate the targets and make their way over to the main server where the information is stored.

Daniel reaches the area first, beginning to line up a row of small-scale explosives along the server shelves. Jihoon tucks his pistols away and reaches for his rifle again, intending to provide cover for Daniel and keep watch from the corridor. 

However, before Jihoon can make his way over, a new group of men rush in from the doorway and, before either of them can open fire, one man that had been previously laying on the ground suddenly stands up and grabs Jihoon from behind, holding a knife to his throat. 

“Jihoon!” shouts Daniel, panic written across his face, clear as day. 

Too clear, in fact, because now their attackers will know that they can use Jihoon to manipulate Daniel.

It would have been better if they thought we were simply co-workers, thinks Jihoon desperately, at least that way maybe one of us could be able get out alive.

The other men begin closing in on Daniel.

If both of us get caught, it’s all over.

The knife starts to sting sharply from where it lies, it’s razor edge kissing Jihoon’s neck.

I’m not going to let it end like this.

After leaving the security guard incapacitated in the basement, Seongwoo and Minhyun start making their way back up to the kitchens on the ground floor, where they will be able to leave though one of the back doors.

They have gotten everything that they need to hand the case over to the local police to take care of; photos of evidence needed to launch a full investigation are on Minhyun’s phone and Seongwoo has his pockets filled with the samples he had collected of the drugs, not to mention everything else that they have collected over the week. 

As long as no one else stands in their way, they can make a clean getaway.

Rounding the corner, Seongwoo sees that their exit is blocked by two security guards; Pledis really has stationed personnel at all of their entrances and exits.

So, not a clean getaway then.

From where he had been keeping a lookout, Minhyun catches up with Seongwoo and announces that they have more guards coming up on their tail so they are going to have to make a break for it.

I have never missed my dear Glock as much as I do right now, thinks Seongwoo, his fingers itching for a weapon.

Both of the guards look young and seem rather bored. Based on their stances, Seongwoo takes a guess that Pledis has hired inexperienced kids who definitely wouldn’t be as well trained as mercenaries or agents. 

That should give us an advantage.

One thing that has always been noted about Seongwoo (both as a compliment and an insult), is that he can, at times, be extremely noisy.

Roaring out loud, Seongwoo rushes towards the exit. His deafening scream causes both of the young guards to startle and the scrawny-looking one of them even drops his gun.

Snatching the window of opportunity, Seongwoo slams a palm up into the underside of the jaw of one of the guards, knocking the wind out of him, and then follows the assault with well-placed jab into the guard’s neck with a bony elbow. Dropping down, Seongwoo then kicks out a leg as he spins around, sending the other guard, the more skittish, scrawny one plummeting gracelessly to the ground as Minhyun dives in to grab the discarded handgun.

Seongwoo keeps an eye on the two guards sprawled out on the floor whilst Minhyun breaks through the back door. 

Just as Minhyun gets the door open, Seongwoo’s ears pick up footsteps and he looks up as an older man dressed in a suit rounds the corner at full speed. The man raises a steady hand holding a gun and aims it at the back of Minhyun’s head.

In the split-second before the man pulls the trigger, Seongwoo can tell that this man is different from all of the guards that they have encountered previously; more ruthless and objective-driven - more agent-minded

This man is not messing around and he is aiming to kill. 

There’s not enough time to warn Minhyun to get out of the way, so Seongwoo does the next best thing.

I didn’t expect that I would actually have to do this.

Seongwoo deftly reaches down into his boot and pulls out a metal letter opener that he had stealthily pinched from an office room on one of the upper floors. He hadn’t been planning on actually using it at the time however he had figured that it could work as a weapon if he ended up being backed into a corner.

Like right now.

With a racing heart and the sound of his own blood rushing in his ears, Seongwoo raises his right arm and lines up the shot. 

An exhale of breath.

Then with an executioner’s calm, Seongwoo launches the letter opener right into the man’s face, lodging itself between his eyes and killing him instantly.

Surprised, Minhyun turns back to assess the damage but the man is already dead and Seongwoo doesn’t intend to stick around and see if any of his colleagues decide to show up. 

Instead, he urges Minhyun out the open door.

“I took care of it.” Seongwoo explains. He adds with a cocky smirk, “I improvised.”

The pair make their way off the premises quickly. Once they make it several blocks away, any men that Pledis sends after them won’t be able to chase them through the city. It would be almost a clean escape.

Running beside Minhyun, Seongwoo pants out, “It’s too bad. We nearly got out of there without any casualties. There goes my record.” 

“You mean your three mission record? It hasn’t been that long.” Minhyun chuckles out, somehow sounding less winded than Seongwoo even though he’s supposed to be the field agent here.

“Damn right. I ruined it,“ Seongwoo pauses to suck in a breath, “I ruined it saving your ass. You’re lucky it’s a cute one because you were no help at all.” He had started to run short of breath near the end and his statement lacks the impact that he feels it deserves.

Hwang Minhyun has the gall to turn over to him cheekily and say, in his usual angelic voice, “I’m a lover, not a fighter.”

The pair are nearing the city centre now, meaning that they should be harder to trace now and they can drop the pace to a brisk jog instead of a full-out sprint.

Seongwoo puffs out a laugh and grins back, “Are you even a lover?”

Still keeping up a hurried stride, Minhyun sends him a flying kiss and smiles secretively, as though Seongwoo doesn’t already know that Minhyun has never been in a romantic relationship all his life and that he is also not the type to hook-up with strangers without any feelings involved. 

Barking out a laugh, Seongwoo returns back, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of you."

“Halt! Drop your gun.” commands the man holding the knife, addressing Daniel from behind Jihoon. His foul breath lingers near Jihoon’s face as he applies more pressure on the blade.

Assessing the situation, Jihoon notes that most of the new mercenaries are looking towards the man keeping Jihoon captive for instructions. 

The way that he had been caught means that Jihoon is currently held in position furthest away from the door, facing the group who have just entered and blocking off that particular exit out to the corridor. Behind Jihoon is the large, floor-to-ceiling window that he had been considering earlier for entry, and Daniel stands off to the right of him, trapped against the stacks of servers and machinery, whose lights continue to blink innocently.

Jihoon catches eye-contact with Daniel and holds it, trying to send his partner a message.

They have always been decent at non-verbal communication but it is not something that Jihoon and Daniel do on a regular basis, partly because Daniel tends to get distracted and always ends up using his mouth anyway, and also in part due to Jihoon’s own eyes wavering after holding a stare with Daniel for too long begins to feel a bit too intimate and intense.

Needless to say, they are a bit out of practice.

Jihoon blinks twice, slowly, as Daniel watches him intently, to try to signal to him ’no’.

No. Don’t drop your gun. I’ve got a plan.

He hopes that Daniel understands but they don’t have the time to go through it step-by-step.

Jihoon roams his eyes around the room and subtly lifts one of his hands a fraction higher, just enough so that Daniel can spot his hand as he raises three of his fingers before he tilts his head minutely, alluding to the window behind himself.

The man threatening Jihoon booms out again, “Drop your weapons or I’m slitting his pretty, little throat.” 

The man drags the knife down, dangerously close to Jihoon’s carotid artery and hard enough for his blood to start oozing out, slipping down the blade and soaking the front of Jihoon’s shirt fabric. Jihoon notices Daniel’s eyes wander down to Jihoon’s neck, before worriedly flicking between the knife and the man holding it. 

Anxiously, Jihoon furrows his eyebrows. 

No, I need you to keep your eyes on me.

Daniel’s gaze eventually makes its way back to Jihoon’s face.

In a sickening parody of themselves from earlier, Jihoon counts, keeping movements of his mouth minuscule enough that only Daniel should be able to pick up the words he’s shaping.



“Alright then, pretty boy dies.” cuts in a familiar, deep voice, as the man lifts his left hand to violently grasp Jihoon’s head by his hair, tilting his neck back roughly; the knife held cruelly in his right hand.


If Daniel didn’t understand the plan earlier, he’s going to have to now, thinks Jihoon as he sets his body into motion.

Desperately, Jihoon uses both of his hands to grapple onto the man’s right hand, blocking the knife from penetrating his skin any further. He simultaneously uses all of his strength and weight to propel himself backwards into the man, knocking him off his feet.

Like he had predicted, the man cannot withstand the attack and keep his balance. As the mercenaries turn their attention away from Daniel to Jihoon, both of he and the man go careening backwards, stumbling and falling.

Falling down,


and out of the window.

The last thing that Jihoon remembers is the sound of breaking glass, bullets being fired, and Daniel screaming his name.

It’s torture for Daniel to stand here, surrounded by mercenaries with guns pointed at him, staring helplessly as another man holds a knife to Jihoon’s throat. 

Daniel is ready to drop his gun, abort the mission, and wilfully surrender to his knees if it means that Jihoon would get out of this room unscathed.

But he knows that their world doesn’t work like that. The only thing stopping the men from blowing his brains out right now is the tiny detonator in Daniel’s hand that will take out the shelves of servers behind him once he presses the switch. In fact, the only reason why Jihoon isn’t already lying in a pool of his own blood is that the man thinks that he can use Jihoon as leverage against Daniel. 

Honestly, he’s right.

It’s scary how deep his feelings for Jihoon run, but if Daniel ever had to choose between Jihoon and MNET, the possibility of MNET’s best agent going rogue is high.

Forlornly, Daniel stares into Jihoon’s eyes and tries to convey all of his love, a little too late. There’s no telling if the both of them are going to make it out alive after today, and Daniel is choosing to use a scant amount of these last precious seconds to memorise every inch of his partner’s face.

He recalls the very first time that Kang Daniel met Park Jihoon. 

Fluffy cheeks, bright eyes, dazzling smile.

From the very beginning, back when Jisung had introduced them, Jihoon had made an impact on Daniel and over time, all Jihoon had done was carve out a space for himself inside Daniel’s heart. 

From Jihoon’s snarky banter, his playful antics, his caring gestures.

To the way that Jihoon fit inside Daniel’s arms, made him laugh, followed after him.

It was a heart that he had eventually wanted Jihoon to occupy completely.

He had been testing the waters, dropping hints to Jihoon, every now and then. Daniel had even wondered if he was being too obvious or too subtle but Woojin had assured him that his messages were being received by everyone else on the base loud and clear (his specific words had been ‘whipped’ and ‘sappy, heart-eyes’). Although Jihoon had seemed affected, he had never responded back, brushing off Daniel’s attempts at flirting with professionalism or glib remarks. 

One time, during the brief period of downtime in between a long series of missions, Daniel had voiced his concerns to Jisung and Sungwoon. He had deliberately sought out their advice, and after a heartfelt evening of drinking and talking, both of his friends had told him to follow his heart. 

That was the closest that Daniel had ever come to admitting his feelings to Jihoon and taking the plunge.

He regrets not doing it now.

He stands powerless, watching the blood leak out of the love of his life before him while he does nothing.

It feels like his heart is splitting in two.

Daniel tears his eyes away from the gleaming silver of the knife and shifts them to the man holding it. The man holding Jihoon captive has a surprisingly genial-looking face and may even be considered conventionally handsome if not for the scar that stretches across his cheek and up into his earlobe. 

His eyes though look cold as ice and dead inside.

If Daniel is dying today, he’s taking that fucker with him.

When his eyes eventually, and inevitably, return to Jihoon, he sees that the younger has been trying to communicate with him.

Daniel defiantly keeps his grip tight on his Beretta, since Jihoon had told him to hold onto it, even as the man demands him to lower it. Every fibre of his being screams at him to drop it and hopefully prevent Jihoon from getting hurt any more than he already is, but that impulsiveness is what had got them into this mess in the first place.

Daniel had told Jihoon that he would trust him, so he will.

From his restricted position, Jihoon makes an ambiguous gesture with one of his hands and begins to count. Daniel can’t quite tell what Jihoon’s plan is but it appears that Jihoon has one and that it will set off on ‘3’ so Daniel readies himself. He doesn’t know what Jihoon wants him to do but Daniel will support him.

The gun almost slips through Daniel’s fingers when the man raises a dirty hand to tug harshly on JIhoon’s hair, forcefully snapping his head back and exposing his neck.

Foolishly, Daniel is about to lift up his own gun and put a bullet in the man’s brain, even if all of the other mercenaries in the room will surely kill him before he is able to succeed, when Jihoon springs into action.

It happens in slow motion.

Daniel watches Jihoon block the knife from digging any further into his skin and feels relieved.

It’s short-lived. 

Because the next thing he knows, the rest of the mercenaries in the room turn their guns on Jihoon and start firing as his partner flings his own body backwards, sending both himself and the man tumbling out the window. 


Someone in the room lets out an anguished cry and Daniel only realises belatedly that it’s him.

When asked later, Daniel will say that he doesn’t remember what happened next. 

His vision blurs with tears that mix with sweat, clinging to his eyelashes and stinging sharply. Daniel’s hands move quicker than he can register, bullets fired by trembling fingers and sweaty palms; he takes out the rest of the men in the room as they remain facing the window in bewilderment, unsure if their boss is still alive. 

It feels like his world has been shattered, a guttural pain that shakes him to the core.

His mind is a fog.

When the haze lifts, Daniel finds himself standing alone in the corner surrounded by the bodies of dead men as they lie on the floor, blood pooling. The last thing that Daniel wants to do right now is think of the mission - all he wants to do is go and check on Jihoon, is he alive, is he dying, is he dead? - however he knows that this is their only chance to destroy the data.

Fuck the data, Daniel thinks even as he finishes lining up the charges on the remaining shelves and backs away to the opposite corner of the room. He takes cover behind a wooden desk and triggers the explosion, damaging the servers so that nothing can be salvaged.

Job done, he then takes out his wire and start rappelling out of the broken window and down to the ground. 

The window is higher up than he had originally thought, and he prays for Jihoon the whole way down.

What are the chances of surviving a fall like this?

Throwing caution to the wind, Daniel goes down the side of the building rapidly with a disgraceful landing, stumbling when he reaches the bottom. 

Jihoon lies unconscious on the ground, his body laying half on top of the man with the scarred face, and surrounded by bits of broken glass. 

Heedless of his own safety, Daniel throws himself to his knees by Jihoon’s side. Even through the thick material of his pants, Daniel can feel the glass begin to dig into his knees but chooses to ignore it. 

He places a finger on Jihoon’s neck, struggling to find his pulse point amongst all the blood.

It takes him a few tries, unsure if the movement he feels is from his own heart hammering away wildly or even if it’s just wishful thinking, but he picks up Jihoon’s pulse. It’s weak but steady.

A bubble of hope wells up within him.

Wiping his hand on his sleeve, Daniel checks Jihoon’s breath too. 

He’s still alive. Jihoon’s still alive.

Carefully, Daniel moves Jihoon out of the area of glass and settles him gently on a cleaner part of the ground.

Then, Daniel turns back to the body of the other man. 

His body probably cushioned Jihoon’s fall and took most of the impact. Daniel observes that there is a line of blood leaking out of the man’s ears. Despite that, it is possible that he may still be alive.

Daniel doesn’t care.

With a stony expression, Daniel walks up to the man lying prone on the ground and, in an uncharacteristically brutal act, empties his entire chamber into the man’s head. Daniel’s not typically one for violence or theatrics, doesn’t have the same desire for chaos that Jaehwan does, but somehow this feels necessary.

It doesn’t make him feel any better though.

Daniel returns to where he had left Jihoon and lays his head on Jihoon’s chest, listening to his heartbeat. He gathers the boy into his arms and cradles him on the ground, burying his face into Jihoon’s matted hair.

“I thought I’d lost you.” he whispers, quietly.

Finally, Daniel scoops the younger boy into his arms and stands up.

As he leaves, with the mission objectives completed and both of them alive, he feels like a failure.

They say that it is better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all but Jihoon doesn’t believe in that. 

Surely, it must hurt more to have had something that was yours, to have loved someone with all of your heart and received equal love back, and had that someone ripped away from you. 

Without a chance to say goodbye.

Daehwi had told him not to be afraid of death, but Jihoon supposes that he is just a bigger coward than he would like to admit to himself. 

So Jihoon had put up walls, drew boundaries between himself and Daniel, and maintained their relationship as strictly friends and co-workers.

A preventative measure to protect his heart from becoming permanently scarred.

But still, it didn’t work.

Kang Daniel had snuck his way into Park Jihoon’s heart all the same.

Jihoon drifts in and out of consciousness. 

The ceiling of the room is white, Jihoon thinks he’s been here before, and there are the soft sounds of machines beeping nearby. His neck feels stuffy and restricted, and the inside of his mouth feels like sandpaper. 

He attempts to lift his head but it feels heavy and sluggish.

Jihoon tries to move an arm instead but finds it weighted down by something. He angles his eyes down and sees Daniel sitting beside him, eyes closed in sleep, and holding Jihoon’s hand between both of his palms.


Jihoon blinks slowly and goes back to sleep.

The next time that Jihoon wakes up, he feels better. Looking around, he observes that the room is dark except for the glow of a lamp beside the bed, bathing its immediate surroundings in a warm, yellow light. 

“You’re awake.” comes a familiar voice.

Jihoon twists and finds Daniel sitting on the opposite side of him then he was the first time that Jihoon had woken up. Daniel looks good but he also looks tired, like he hasn’t been sleeping much and the older man sits sagging with his weight resting against the wall behind him. His hair appears to be slightly damp, like Daniel has just returned from a shower and came straight here without drying it properly. 

“Have you been here the whole time?” asks Jihoon, voice husky with misuse.

Jihoon isn’t really sure how he wants Daniel to answer but a small, selfish part of him wants the elder to say ‘yes'.

Unnervingly, Daniel doesn’t reply, choosing instead to bring his chair closer. 

Daniel leans down into Jihoon’s space.

“I don’t know if you heard me the first time,” Daniel whispers, in an uncommonly grave voice. Looking down at the floor, he continues “but I had thought that I had lost you. For good.”

Daniel raises his gaze and makes eye contact with Jihoon. The younger boy licks his lips before opening and then closing his mouth, unsure how to reply.

Jihoon averts his eyes, trying to come up with a proper response, but when he returns them to Daniel he finds that the other man is now much, much closer. Flustered, Jihoon loses his train of thought.

“I think that you know how I feel about you by now.” says Daniel.

Almost as though he is hypnotised, Jihoon nods his head lightly. He then shakes it the very next second. 

Steadily approaching closer inch by inch throughout the conversation, Daniel’s body is now leaning entirely over Jihoon. Soothingly, Daniel cards a hand through Jihoon’s hair softly before resting it besides Jihoon’s head on the pillow.

“Please don’t push me away anymore.”

Daniel pauses, waiting to see if Jihoon will tell him to back off. When the younger boy doesn’t, Daniel leans in and finally, he kisses Park Jihoon.

The kiss is soft, and sweet, and Jihoon can feel Daniel pouring all of his emotions and love into it. Jihoon’s body is battered and his heart is sore, tired of fighting against everything that he has ever wanted, and so he surrenders to the kiss, allowing himself to drown in all of the love that is Kang Daniel. 

Jihoon kisses back and hopes that Daniel understands.

I feel the same way about you that you feel about me.

Fortunately, Jihoon’s injuries aren’t life-threatening, and a few days later, he gets to remove the bandages around his neck. 

(“That’ll probably leave a scar.” says Daniel sadly, stroking a pale finger lightly over the affected area. 

Jihoon reaches up and holds Daniel’s hand in his, bringing it away from his neck.

“It’s okay. It can be a reminder to myself to live in the present.” answers Jihoon, swallowing heavily. He then lifts his tone, perking up. “Besides, it makes me look bad-ass.”

Giggling, Daniel replies back, playing with Jihoon’s hand. “You’ll always be cute to me.”)

He learns from his nurse that Daniel had stayed by his side throughout the whole forty-or-so hours that Jihoon had been unconscious, so it’s no surprise that after Jihoon had woken up, Daniel had been even more clingy and stubbornly refused to leave Jihoon’s room; begging the staff at the MNET medical centre into allowing him to eat and sleep here.

Being stuck in bed all day is staring to make Jihoon grumpy, especially since he feels fine now.

Jihoon shucks the covers off and gets up out of bed, throwing on the hoodie that Daniel had been wearing earlier and left on the chair.

“What are you doing? The nurse said that you still have to rest more.” asks Daniel, sounding confused but not stopping Jihoon either.

“Sneaking out, what does it look like I’m doing?” comes the Jihoon’s reply as he heads towards the door. “The nurse might said that but they also told me that I’m making a full recovery. Plus, I kinda want to see everyone."

Daniel looks sceptical but doesn’t dispute him, standing up and joining Jihoon at the door.

"Besides, you’re not going to stop me, are you?” Jihoon grins up at Daniel cheekily.

Smiling fondly, Daniel shakes his head. “Alright, Jihoonie. Come on, I’ll keep a lookout for you.”

When they manage to escape the medical bay, the sky is dark and lights are twinkling from all of the buildings on the base. It’s around dinnertime now and most of the agents will be inside the cafeteria so the pair decide to head there first.

As they near the hall, boisterous laughter and excited chatter can be heard from deeper within the building.

Walking down the empty corridor, Daniel is about to push open the doors to the cafeteria when Jihoon backs him up against the wall, the shorter boy raising up on his toes and swiftly pinning Daniel with a passionate kiss. 

Naturally, Daniel’s arms find their way around Jihoon’s body and he kisses back. 

He enjoys the moment before reluctantly allowing Jihoon to pull away after a few minutes.

“What was that for?” asks Daniel, wearing a pleased smile. He’s still riding the high from the unexpected makeout session. 

“I’ve been wanting to do that since earlier but I couldn’t because I was trapped in that bed.” says Jihoon, touching his mouth self-consciously. It seems that after the impulsive kiss, he’s suddenly gotten shy. 

His lips always seem to turn a vibrant shade of red afterwards and Jihoon wonders if it looks obvious that they had been making out.

Smiling fondly, Daniel holds the door handle and asks “Ready?”

Jihoon nods and they head inside.

All of their friends appear to be huddled around one table, where Ong Seongwoo stands holding a glass in one hand and a fork in the other. When their eyes land on the pair, there are exclamations of pleased shock and welcomes.

“Jihoon! You’re okay, we were so worried.” gushes Jisung, coming over and gathering Jihoon into a hug. Jinyoung and Daehwi come over and join in, chirping out their own greetings of ‘Jihoon-hyung!’

Guanlin brings over an empty chair for him. “I’m really glad you’re okay now Jihoon-hyung. I visited you once when you were sleeping and you look so much better now.” 

“I’m sorry for worrying you all.” says Jihoon, taking a seat with Daniel beside him. 

Somehow, between the mission and being knocked out for a couple of days, Jihoon feels like he hasn’t seen everyone else in ages.

“Still not dead yet, huh?” says a deep voice.

Jihoon looks up across the table and sees Woojin, wearing a fond smile on his face as he gazes softly at Jihoon.

Returning the smile, Jihoon quips back “It’ll take more than that to keep me down.”

“Good. You’re not allowed to die before me.” replies Woojin, smiling wider until his snaggletooth starts to show.

After everyone has said their well-wishes to Jihoon, a comfortable silence settles over the group.

Daniel breaks it by asking, “Why are you standing there like that, Seongwoo-hyung.”

“Oh, right!” says Seongwoo, looking down at the glass and fork in his hands like he had forgotten he was holding them.

“Actually, you two are just in time!” he says, waving his fork at Jihoon and Daniel. “I was about to make an announcement.”

Rightfully claiming his position as the most dramatic person in the organisation, Seongwoo taps the glass with the fork and clears his throat. From the corner of his eye, Jihoon notices Minhyun shrinking down and subtly burying his face in his hands.

“Attention everyone,” Seongwoo starts, voice ringing out clearly in the hall, "the most eligible bachelor in our company, forever-alone, single-since-birth Hwang Minhyun,” he pauses and a few eyes dart towards Minhyun, "has chosen me, me, as the one and only love of his life. We are now in a relationship and will always be the most handsome couple in any given room at all times. Thank you for your attention.”

“Hey, what about us!” squeaks Daehwi, pointing between himself and Jinyoung, looking affronted.

“You guys are the cutest couple.” Seongwoo replies placatingly, before gesturing vaguely in the air with the fork in his hand. “Unless there are any other couples that I don’t know about.”

Jihoon darts his eyes to the right and shares a private look with Daniel but neither of them say anything.

That announcement can wait for another day.