there’s a few things in this world that jeongguk is absolutely sure of:
1. drinking six cups of coffee every morning is not healthy
2. there will never be enough donuts in the morning to feed the whole department
3. sneaking out to get something to eat at the nearest bakery during his shift is not something that he should ever repeat, even if his stomach has been growling for two hours
4. paperwork, while being an absolute necessity, is boring and makes him regret ever enrolling into the police academy
5. there’s a boy sitting in the chair next to next to his desk. again.
he sighs as he approaches his desk and puts on his best ‘i’m not in the mood for any of your bullshit’ expression. kim taehyung himself is a great kid, but having him sit in that very spot for the fifth time this week is a tad bit too much for the young detective’s liking.
“so tell me. what’d you do this time?” he asks teasingly, making himself comfortable in his seat.
there’s no answer. the younger boy’s head is hung low, his bangs making it impossible for jeongguk to make eye contact with him, or even see his face for that matter.
“see you’ve really gotta stop getting into shit. i’m tired of all this paperwork.”
jeongguk frowns. he would have expected a snarky remark or a boxy grin by now. he leans forward, trying to get a better angle on taehyung’s face, but to no avail.
“hey kid, you okay?” he asks tentatively, slowly but surely getting worried.
when three seconds go by and taehyung still hasn’t answered, nor moved, he reaches up under the boy’s chin and lifts it up. jeongguk is out of his seat within seconds, kneeling down in front of taehyung whose face is a bloody mess.
his eyes are hooded, blood dripping out of a big gash adorning his left cheek, his bottom lip is split and his jaw is decorated with multiple purple splotches. jeongguk can feel his heart rate pick up when taehyung’s eyes shift to meet his, the dark orbs that had previously been unfocused and lifeless are now filled with panic. taehyung’s hand grabs jeongguk’s wrist, not to push him away, but to pull him closer.
“jeonggukie”, the boy whimpers, his nails digging half moons into jeongguk’s flesh. the officer winces but doesn’t remove his hand from the tight grip, instead calling out for a colleague without ever taking his eyes off of taehyung’s face.
“detective jeon?” he hears a familiar voice above him, forcing jeongguk to look up.
“what the fuck happened park? why did no one notify me about this?” he’s still crouched down in front of taehyung, not daring to break away from the teen who’s holding onto him so desperately. he sends the officer his darkest glare, making the man flinch and stutter.
“i- we-, sir, i tried but i couldn’t find you. he hadn’t been here for long, m- maybe ten minutes? was refusing to- to talk to me, to tell me what ha- happened to him. he kept insisting that- that you’ll take care of him.”
“oh, so you decided to leave a beaten up teen alone at my desk? for ten whole minutes? what the fuck?” jeongguk knows it’s his fault. he let the poor boy wait in favor of getting himself some food, but right now letting out his anger at the younger officer feels way better.
“sir, with all due respect, he was refusing any help or medical attention and-“
jeongguk is positively fuming. “if a bleeding kid who looks like he’s been through hell and back walks in here, you don’t sit around and wait for the big boss to arrive, you act, even if-“
a pained whimper from taehyung cuts him off. “i’m- not a kid.” the boy whispers, one side of his mouth quirking up, despite his wobbly bottom lip.
jeongguk smiles gently, all anger gone from his voice. “yeah you are. c’mon let’s get you somewhere else.”
he stands up, pulling the boy onto his feet and supporting his weight by slinging an arm around his waist carefully, not sparing officer park another glance. he walks towards the break room slowly, making sure that taehyung is able to keep up the pace and settles him on the couch. once the boy is comfortable, he wanders back to the door and gives a few officers and detectives that had been standing around lazily a hard look before closing it.
jeongguk stalks over to a stack of blankets on the other side of the room and tucks taehyung into one. taehyung’s eyes are quick and restless now, but he doesn’t talk once when jeongguk sets on preparing him a hot chocolate.
“here, i put cinnamon in it. that’s how you like it right?” jeongguk asks tentatively, placing the cup between the younger’s hands. taehyung nods and eyes the beverage appreciatively before taking a sip.
jeongguk watches him with his wide and concerned doe eyes for half a minute before remembering that he should be tending his wounds. he grabs the first aid kit and gets to cleaning the gash on taehyung’s cheeks and his split lip. the antiseptic stings and there are tears in taehyung’s eyes but he doesn’t say anything, not once.
when jeongguk is done, he disposes of the dirty tissues and patches the boy up. taehyung has finished his hot chocolate, so jeongguk takes the mug out of his hands softly and disposes it in the sink.
“are you ready to talk now?” he asks, voice as soft as he can manage. taehyung nods, wincing when he tries to sit up. jeongguk is with him immediately, placing a hand on his thigh and on his shoulder.
“you okay? did you get hurt anywhere else?” he presses, but taehyung shakes his head quickly.
“i- i saw it. on warren street. corner to smith street. i saw it jeongguk. i can’t get it out of my head-“
“what? what did you see taehyung?” jeongguk panics, the younger’s voice broken and raspy from disuse.
“there was- it was-“, the boy stutters, but a police officer storming into the room interrupts him.
“oh. i’m sorry for interrupting”, the officer says upon seeing the pair, in what jeongguk must admit, probably looks like quite the intimate position, “but there has been a murder on warren street. the victim has been stabbed several times and disposed in the dumpsters behind a restaurant.”
jeongguk’s breath gets stuck in his throat. he turns back around to taehyung, the younger’s eyes fixated on the floor.
addressing the officer, jeongguk’s says “i’m busy. send detective santiago out, i want a full report on my desk as quickly as possible.”
the man nods and hurries down the hallway, the door shutting behind him slowly. it’s quiet. taehyung isn’t looking at him.
“taehyung. look at me.” jeongguk orders, his tone indicating that he’s not playing around. taehyung looks up hesitantly, making jeongguk cringe at his own harshness. the boy is scared out of his mind, he should cut him some slack.
“i need you to tell me what happened. was that what you saw? i can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.” jeongguk reasons, brushing taehyung’s bangs away from his eyes.
“y- yeah. that’s what i saw. and he saw too.”
“who? who saw what?”
“he- he saw me. the man that stabbed the other one.”
jeongguk frowns. “he did this to you?”
“c’mon, i need more. tell me everything. please taehyung-ah, let me help you. i want to help you.”
taehyung’s eyes water but he nods nonetheless, taking a deep breath before talking. “i was getting a couple chores done, since i don’t have school today and i was- i was walking down smith street in direction of the carrol gardens when i- i heard these shouts. i didn’t think any of it, because people fight in public all the time, but then i heard this...scream. it was horrible. it was so horrible.”
taehyung voice quivers, and all it takes is for jeongguk to pull him into a hug before he starts crying. jeongguk’s heart gives a painful pang at the sobbing noises emitting from taehyung mouth. he strokes the other’s back, hoping that it will calm him down enough to breathe properly.
“it’s okay, we’ve got time. breathe taehyung, breathe.”
five minutes later, taehyung’s asleep on the couch, nestled into the blanket jeongguk gave him. his face looks peaceful, his softened features reminding jeongguk how young and innocent taehyung is. this taehyung is a complete opposite from the sobbing mess he was not long ago, fear and pain clear as day in his eyes. it pains jeongguk to know that he’ll return to that state as soon as he wakes up, but it pains him even more to be unable to change anything about it. the primal urge to go out there and kill the guy who hurt taehyung is strong and he has to stroke taehyung’s intact cheek to calm himself down, to keep himself grounded. he’s a man of the law after all.
“he’s just a kid,” jeongguk whispers to himself in disbelief, rage from earlier bubbling back up. he stands up and walks back to his desk, raising his hands to his mouth to imitate a speaker.
“listen up. i’m sure you all heard what happened on warren street. i know for you this is just another case, just another murder to solve. but to me, it’s not. i have a teen in the break room that is scared for his life, so i want all of you to work as efficiently as possible, got it?”
every detective and officer present nods their head quickly, because although jeongguk may not technically be their superior, his solved crimes count is higher than all of the other detectives’ combined.
“all right. now let’s catch this son of a bitch.” jeongguk nods appreciatively at his colleagues who immediately break out into action before turning around to keep taehyung company until he wakes up.
officer park and detective jung exchange a suggestive gaze at the other’s dedication to protect the kid, but get to work nonetheless.