they drive in utter silence for a few more minutes until the black camaro finally comes into view again, speeding past every red light and car in its way. out of nowhere, the vehicle makes a sharp u-turn in the middle of a crossroad, almost mowing down a bunch of shoppers that were standing at the—thankfully—red light.
jeongguk swears under his breath and accelerates the car, following the camaro until they’ve arrived at the outskirts of the city, where the traffic is less and the buildings start looking more and more run down. after a short minute of losing track of williams, they pull up to a roadside motel and watch as the owner of the camaro jumps out of his car and runs up a flight of stairs, fumbling with a set of keys before finally managing to open the door and stumbling inside the dark room.
jeongguk reminds taehyung not to move from the spot even though taehyung already looks like he’d rather eat namjoon’s cooking than get out of the car, before springing after williams. once he’s reached the door that the man disappeared behind, he kicks it down, foregoing knocking or any form of warning completely.
the room is littered with trash—apparently one of williams many habits is hoarding—but the one thing jeongguk is searching, williams himself, is nowhere to be seen. he checks the bathroom and the shower, under the bed and the desk until he finally sees the open window on the other side of the room. he rushes over and sticks his head outside, checking the courtyard below for any sign of williams, but it’s deserted and looks like no one’s even stepped foot in it in a while. he sighs and steps back, turning around to get back to his car, when suddenly he feels a looming presence behind him. his hand reaches for his holster, but it’s already too late. he receives a whack over the back of his head, the force of it sending him to the ground, making him drop to the floor with a loud groan.
the last thing jeongguk sees before his vision fades out is the figure, presumably williams, fleeing through the front door. after that, it’s all white noise.
he wakes with a start, wincing when the forming bruise on the back of his head makes itself known. his head is throbbing, eyes going in and out of focus, but he hoists himself up, stumbling a little when he finally manages to get on his feet. a quick look at his watch tells him that he couldn’t have been out for longer than ten minutes, but still he curses himself for letting williams escape. he had been so, so close.
he makes his way outside and down the set of stairs, pressing his hand to his wound and starling when he feels something wet against his fingers. blood. he groans and wipes his hand on his jacket, relief rushing through him when he realized that he’s almost reached the car. his feet grate against the floor, making him stumble, and he looks down in wonder only to find pieces of broken glass strewn over the pavement. his heart leaps out of his chest and he jogs around the front of his car, gasping in horror when he sees the broken window on the right side of the car, and most importantly, the passenger seat.
the empty passenger seat.
“no,” he mutters to himself, stepping closer to check if taehyung might be in the back of the car, cursing when he finds that he’s not. “no, no, no, no, no!”
the car is empty. taehyung is gone.
and so is williams.
tears spring to his eyes and he slumps against the side of the car, sliding down until he’s sitting on the floor, back resting against the cold metal. his wound hasn’t stopped bleeding and it stings terribly, but nothing hurts more than the thought of not knowing where taehyung is. there’s only one logic explanation for this.
williams must’ve taken taehyung with him.
“—officer jeon, please come in. i repeat, officer jeon, please come in.”
the radio pipes up from inside the car, and jeongguk scrambles to his feet, wiping his tears before taking the walkie talkie in hand and responding to whoever called out to him.
“this is officer jeon, reporting back to the station. what seems to be the problem?” he tries his best to keep his voice steady, to keep his calm and act rationally, but he feels like he is two seconds from breaking.
“jeongguk, thank god, this is jimin. i couldn’t reach your phone, so i tried the radio. where the hell are you? where is taehyung?”
the dam breaks. “jimin!” jeongguk sobs, unable to hold his tears anymore. “he’s gone! they’re both gone!”
“they’re gone! williams took taehyung!”
“okay, calm down. walk me through what happened.”
“i followed williams to this motel—the atlantic motor inn—and i almost had him but he knocked me out and took taehyung while i was unconscious. i couldn’t save him, jimin.”
the radio is quiet.
“i’m scared, i’m so fucking scared jimin. what is going to happen to him? what are william’s intentions? this is killing me,” he hisses when another wave of pain crashes down on him, “god, my head. it hurts. fuck.”
“stay where you are, jeongguk. i’m calling an ambulance. do not attempt to drive here yourself. you’re in no condition,” jimin demands, leaving no room for discussion, “we’ll be right there. hold on tight.”
jimin arrives shortly after the ambulance does, rushing over immediately and helping the paramedics transfer him from the car onto a stretcher. he watches as they administer him an anesthesia and roll him into the the back of the ambulance. he follows right after, talking a seat next to him.
“it’s gonna be okay, jeongguk. let go, it’s okay.” jimin murmurs as the morphine kicks in and grabs the elders hand, watching the fear and pain in jeongguk’s eyes fade away, until they’re closed completely.
the paramedics assure him that jeongguk will be fine, that the wound isn’t that deep and that he’s most likely undergoing a severe shock. jimin nods, squeezing jeongguk’s limp hand.
he prays they’ll all be fine.
jeongguk wakes up in a hospital bed, the fluorescent lights above his head making him squint and pull his covers over his head.
“you’re awake!” a familiar voice pipes up from his left, and he pulls his covers back down immediately. hoseok is smiling at him from the doorway, walking in and taking a seat on jeongguk’s left.
“what time is it?”
“about five am. how are you feeling?” hoseok asks, handing him a cup of coffee from the automat down the hallway, the smell of caffeine soothing his splitting headache.
“like someone hit me over the head with a crowbar.” he groans, sitting up in bed to accept the cup and take a sip.
hoseok snickers, but bites back any remark.
“any news on taehyung?” jeongguk asks quietly, casting his eyes down to the dark liquid in his cup.
“we tried tracking him down with the traffic cameras in the area, but no luck. we lost him a couple blocks away from the motel.”
jeongguk frowns. “this area is really well monitored though. how’d you loose track of him?”
“a few of the cameras are fried. haven’t been fixed in almost a week.”
jeongguk groans, downing the rest of his coffee in a few gulps. he pulls the covers back and slips out of bed, grabbing his stuff that’s neatly packed into a clear bag and laying on top of the small table to his left.
“i don’t think you’re ready to be discharged yet,” hoseok warns.
jeongguk scoffs, pulling off the hospital gown and slipping into his own clothes quickly. “i’m fine. besides, i’m not gonna lay here while taehyung is out there. we have to find him, hoseok. he’s the priority here, not me.”
hoseok gulps, but nods understandingly. he watches jeongguk stride out of the room and follows quickly to inform the doctors that he’ll be leaving.
damn jeongguk and his stubbornness.
“you’re saying this is the last frame of the car we have?”
they’re looking at a blurry picture of williams’ car, the vehicle frozen in midst of making a sharp turn on an intersection.
“yeah,” hoseok sighs, “that’s all we have right now.”
“where is this?”
“columbia street, corner to kane street. why?”
jeongguk grabs the map to his left and pulls it closer, pointing out a small grey square on the paper. “do you know what this is is?” he grins smugly.
hoseok shakes his head.
“a parking garage. right on the corner where we lost him.”
a lightbulb seems to go off in hoseok’s head, because he groans and brings his hand up to his forehead in a pace palm when the information sinks in. “of course. he must’ve switched out the cars.”
jeongguk nods, his heartbeat picking up because they finally have a lead, and a big one at that.
“do me a favor and drive over there, see if there’s video tapes or anything that’s of use,” jeongguk suggests. hoseok agrees to the plan and grabs his jacket and car keys, assuring jeongguk that he’ll call as soon as anything comes up. the younger goes to the break room as soon as hoseok has walked around the corner. he feels as though he is about to explode, his head throbbing and mind running on overdrive.
“jeongguk! it’s good to see you on your feet,” jimin greets him with a bright smile, coffee pot in hand. “coffee?”
“yeah, thank you.” jeongguk grabs a mug from the cupboard, extending it so jimin can pour the hot liquid inside.
they sip their coffee together in silence, jeongguk not daring to look jimin in the eyes. he feels incredibly embarrassed about his behavior towards the younger ever since taehyung had come into the precinct all bloodied up, especially because jimin has been nothing but a sweetheart, caring and never once judging him. he had never had the chance to talk it out with him, or even apologize. he feels as though now is his chance to make things right.
“listen, jimin, i—“ he starts, his words getting caught up in his throat, “i’m sorry.”
jimin looks surprised. “what for?”
“for being a giant bag of dicks, i guess.” jeongguk sighs, twirling his spoon to occupy his clammy hands. jimin snorts, drinking the last of his coffee and washing his cup in the sink, putting it on the drying rack once he’s done.
“it’s okay,” he says, gently.
“no,” jeongguk moans desperately, “it’s not. i was mean to you for no reason, and i should’ve been mature enough to tell you how to avoid making that kind of mistake again instead of treating you like i ended up doing. so, i’m sorry.”
“also, thank you, for being such a great police officer.”
jimin mouth drops into a little ‘o’ in surprise, his warm eyes twinkling. “what?”
“you checked up on me, immediately called an ambulance, accompanied me to the hospital. you were calm and composed and that was exactly what i needed then.” jeongguk smiles encouragingly, making jimin flush from the praise.
“thank you, jeongguk, it means a lot coming from you.”
footsteps approach, and another person steps through the threshold. it’s namjoon.
“jeongguk. my deepest apologies regarding taehyung. i know how hard this must’ve hit you.”
“yeah, literally.” jimin snorts at his own remark.
even though namjoon’s voice is empathetic and composed, jeongguk can’t help but stare at him like he’s been deeply offended. “this isn’t about me. it’s about taehyung.”
namjoon nods curtly. “of course. anyway, i came here because, knowing you, you’re probably beating yourself up about what happened. i just wanted to tell you that none of this is your fault, and we’ll get him back soon.”
the break room is quiet. electricity is cracking in the air, weighting down on their chests.
jeongguk narrows his eyes at namjoon. “you’re right, it’s not my fault,” he slams his cup down, crossing the room with three long strides until he’s standing a hair width away from namjoon, “it’s yours. you allowed him to come with me!” he almost yells, his fingers poking at namjoon’s chest accusingly.
“jeongguk!” jimin yelps, pulling jeongguk away from their boss before things can escalate any further. “let’s go.” he pulls jeongguk out by the hand, leaving a perplexed namjoon alone in the break room.
“what the hell happened in there? you-“ jimin begins to scold him, but is interrupted by the ringing of a phone. he gives jeongguk a look that probably means this isn’t over before fishing his phone out of his pocket and answering the call.
“it’s hoseok,” he murmurs. jeongguk rips his phone out if his hand and puts it on speaker, ignoring jimin’s grumbling.
“-found nothing special. there was a little blood in the car though,” hoseok’s small voice comes from the speakers, and there’s a succinct pause. “in the back.”
jeongguk curses, because that can only mean one thing. williams must’ve hurt taehyung.
“oh hey, jeongguk, you’re here too,” hoseok greets him, “why didn’t you pick up my call? i called like three times.”
jeongguk frowns, patting himself down in search for his phone. he comes up empty handed. “i don’t know where it is,” he stresses, checking again. “maybe i left it in my car?”
“the forensics didn’t say anything about a phone though? they searched every inch of your car,” hoseok says.
a glimmer of hope sparks up in jeongguk’s mind, warm and very much welcomed considering their dire situation. “do you think that taehyung could’ve taken it with him? we could try to locate him with a gps signal.”
“we tried to track him down with his own phone already, but it didn’t work. he must be in some sort of dead spot.”
“no,” jeongguk objects quickly, “it’s probably just turned off. taehyung always forgets to charge his phone.”
“okay. tell detective santiago to look into it.”
jeongguk agrees hastily, and they end the call. after that, everything passes in a blur.
he’s sitting at his desk when the news come in. jeongguk’s phone has been tracked down; its last activity said to be at an abandoned apartment building that has been evacuated due to a gas leak a few years ago.
jeongguk and jimin pack their stuff immediately, the younger informing namjoon of their now found information and requesting back up, since he doesn’t trust jeongguk to go anywhere near their captain right now. namjoon agrees to their plan to go there immediately, reminding jimin to be careful and not make any rash decisions. the officer only nods, rushing outside where jeongguk is already waiting for him.
when they finally arrive to the place, the two detectives are buzzing with both anticipation and fear. they don’t know what they should be expecting, and quite frankly, rushing things as they are doing right now isn’t a good idea, but it’s the only option they have at the moment. the task force’s instructions are to wait outside until called, so jimin and jeongguk go in alone, guns cocked and ears perked. the hallways are deserted and run down, the floor covered in dust and dirt.
“there’s four floors here. we should split up, see if we can find anything,” jeongguk whispers when they’ve reached the elevator. jimin nods and turns on his heel, tiptoeing to the first door on his right.
jeongguk takes the stairs, gun an arm length away from his chest. most of the walls have been torn down, doors are missing, and all of the furniture has been removed, except for a dusty leather couch and a dinner table that stand amongst the nothingness. he checks the floor in a matter of minutes, finding nothing. again, he takes the stairs, hoping to find something—or rather someone—there.
after checking out all three apartments on that level, there’s one last door that he hadn’t opened yet. he reaches out for the doorknob with clammy fingers, twisting it slowly to open it. the door swings open soundlessly, and before he can even react or reach for his weapon, he finds himself face to barrel with none other than hunter williams’ gun.
“i’ve been expecting you.”
“why are you doing this?” jeongguk growls from where he’s now tied to a chair, anxiously eyeing taehyung who is in a very similar predicament. he’s less than five feet away from jeongguk, a gag in form of a raggedy piece of cloth in his mouth and his hands tied together behind his back. his eyes are wide and frantic, sweat pearls running down his temples in fear. there’s blood on the front of his shirt, and not inconsiderably so. jeongguk feels like throwing up, the sight of his taehyung crying and fearing for his life is ripping his insides apart piece by piece.
williams, who is perched on top of an old tv stand, laughs bitterly. “your little friend here made a big mistake by watching me,” he pauses, “taking care of something.”
“you mean someone.”
“there were security cameras everywhere. we would’ve caught you one way or another,” jeongguk frowns.
“you’re a fool if you think i wouldn’t be able to get rid of those tapes.” it sounds almost like a threat. “you think you’re all that, but really you know nothing.”
“then enlighten me. why kill him?”
williams sighs. “you’re a persistent one, aren’t you? but fine, i’ll tell you. it’s not like it’ll be of any use later on,” he grins, baring his yellow teeth.
“since you’ve been searching for me for a while, i assume you’ve heard of jordan archer.”
“your ex-partner at the fbi.”
“exactly.” williams hops off the coffee table and stands in front of jeongguk, hands on his hips. “i killed him.”
the words feel like a slap administered right to jeongguk’s face.
“why?” he breathes, “i thought you were best friends.”
“people change,” williams replies easily, like he didn’t have a hard time killing his friend at all, “he tried to sell something precious to me, and i had to stop him. brandon found out and i had to get rid of him as well.”
“what? that’s it? all these stunts for what?”
“in a way. of course, there’s the whole part where brandon stole the formula for meridati, and infiltrated himself into the exact same club just to get to me and take the whole organization down.”
“why taehyung. why all of this?” jeongguk frowns. his eyes flit over to taehyung, who has stopped moving altogether and is staring at the back of williams’ head in anticipation.
“i want diplomatic immunity, or he” he points at taehyung, “won’t survive this.”
jeongguk growls, thrashing in his seat. “that’s impossible and you know it.”
“i don’t care. make it happen or else—“ williams is cut off by his own scream, dropping to his knees and then his stomach, revealing jimin, who has been standing behind him and is holding his gun between his two hands, immobile after shooting williams in shoulder.
jeongguk’s ears are ringing and his heart feels like it’s going to beat of out his chest, but he doesn’t care about that, just waits until jimin has freed him from his shackles so he can run over to where taehyung is sitting.
“taehyung, oh my god,” he cries out, gathering the boy into his arms after ridding him of his gag and handcuffs, rocking him back and forth. jimin is talking to someone over the phone, and the task force is stomping up the stairs to secure williams, but jeongguk blocks all that out, focusing on taehyung instead. the boy is worn out, his eyes closed and skin pale, but he’s breathing, and that’s all jeongguk cares about.
“hey, hey, stay awake for me,” jeongguk whispers, tucking taehyung’s hair behind his ear carefully, “i love you. please stay with me.”
taehyung’s eyes flutter open, and he smiles weakly. “i knew it.”
“give me some more of that chocolate pudding.”
“no, get your own!” taehyung squeaks, giggling loudly as jeongguk tries to eat the pudding off of his spoon. he’s laying in a hospital bed with jeongguk who has been camping by his side ever since he got out of surgery, even when he was asleep.
“please,” jeongguk whines, giving taehyung his best kicked puppy look. the boy rolls his eyes, but feeds him anyway. there’s a stack of goodies on the table next to him, courtesy of jimin, hoseok, and the other officers from the precinct, as well as his brothers and sisters.
there’s a knock on the door. “williams is in custody, we’ve taken your testimony into accounting and the case is being prosecuted. taehyung, i’m glad to see you’re up and better.” namjoon says, smiling shyly at the boy. his gaze shifts over to jeongguk.
“it’s okay, sir. sorry for acting out. we’re good,” the detective interrupts him, holding up his hand where it’s intertwined with taehyung’s, them turns to the boy to murmur, “we’re okay.”
namjoon nods, leaving the two alone again.
taehyung lays back, his hair fanning out onto the pillow gracefully.
“i love you,” he whispers.
jeongguk smiles, squeezing his hand, then bringing it up to his mouth to kiss it.
they’re okay. as long as they have each other, they’ll be okay.