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Come, As You Are (As I Want You To Be)

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his father was the eighth generation of the chil sung pa, the seven stars gang, the largest and most notorious out of all the kkangpae, or street gangs in south korea. headquartered in busan, his father had seven stars tattooed on his chest the moment he was inaugurated. the gangsters underhandedly dealt with their criminal activities, and their ‘sworn to secrecy’ oaths led the south korean police defenceless and helpless against them, despite major suspicions regarding their illegal deeds for decades.

due to prominence in current day, he eventually had it removed, but stencilled off to a more secretive part of his body to maintain his heritage and give glory to his ancestors. excluding the seven pioneers of the gang triad, jimin's generation would be considered the eighth instead, and they decided to only keep the physical markings of loyalty and allegiance til the seventh batch for sake of auspicious foresight; this meant that namjoon and jimin would have unmarred skin unless desired.

along the way of the fifth and sixth generation, the chil sung pa got too powerful for their own good, wiping out villages and tribes via their underworld methods, taking many of the leftover underlings from residual groups. one of them the ssang yong pa, or the double dragons clan. after all the slaughtering of their own kind, or so the gangs acted upon- as the police had instigated them to turn against each other so they would not have to interfere. the dragons were believed to have largely vanished from society after their big tussle with the majority of gangs that led to their demise.

the origin of the gang's name is unknown and remains a mystery- even their current locations and status quo still are. rumour had it that the chil sung pa conquered them and only kept the strongest survivors, making them covert over and pledge loyalty over their family and descendants.

as the generations grew in terms of number, society advanced, and modernity came into play. street gangsters and hoodlums, or the kkangpae, were far too obvious and frowned upon, police hot on their trails the moment a tip-off came that bore too much semblance to ‘tattoos’ as a sign of their identity, or the way the ruffians carried out their exploitations in a very yakuza-like manner. with urbanisation, the kkangpae, too, were forced to evolve. the police now called them jopok, or rather, a more organised crime syndicate in association to the mafia or underworld.

one could no longer live only dealing with such glaring illegal activities, and thus had to make a solid alibi and well established facade for all of society to witness, such that if the time for judgement ever came, perhaps even bribery wouldn't be needed: the government and presidential candidates would all be begging for the pharmaceuticals and drug companies run by the park empire to be kept intact. after all, supernatural profit margins were only to be expected; especially when the illegal drugs you smuggled in, under the righteous face of a medicinal faculty, only had one cure or remedy to it- and that being the only one in the world, the only antidote that the very same company manufactured.

there's no business like show business, but there's also no cure when the things you're addicted to never quite had a cure.


as far as society and himself can remember, jimin is good at almost everything. there isn't much that he needs that he doesn't already have. he's sad to see his right hand man go- taehyung was truly one of a kind, and was often so sweet to jimin. he had killer looks, as expected of one; he also had a very kind heart- apart from perfect headshots to the bad guys that were disloyal or mean to jimin and any member of the park empire. he also loved keeping jimin company, belting out opera style tenors in harmony to jimin's melodies in the mansion. taehyung had forlornly said that his brother needed some assistance running his company, and was reluctant to leave jimin's side, but the young heir promised he'd welcome the taehyung he knew with open arms if the latter ever wanted to come back.

namjoon is jimin's capable older brother- the representative face of his father, a figurehead of their gang on the flipside of their reputable businesses in broad daylight. he's reputable by day and infamous by night, to put it in short. he's eloquent, capable of formation of bilateral and international ties due to his ability to speak and comprehend in different languages. meanwhile, jimin prefers to stay beneath the limelight, basing himself on a small scale. while it is true that he enjoys being smothered with affection and showed attention, what puts the cherry on top is the same affection and attention, but on his own stage. thus, he runs the behind the scenes, the pulling of the strings, a master of disguise; it works perfectly within their syndicate, delicately operated with staff planted in here and there, across the nation in multifarious vocations. perfect. he's considered one of the nation’s sweethearts on print and press, always donating to charitable organisations, kind to animals and his elders- like a modern day robin hood, infused with the traditional prince charming or boy next door- but if it's people from the underground realising he is indeed the park jimin, they know better than to fuck with him.

there isn't much that jimin needs that he doesn't already have; oh, wait- needs a bodyguard after the last one he had had gotten himself killed in the crossfire. how burdensome. he has no choice but to go through the onerous rounds of manual selection once again.


the time has come once more, for jimin to shortlist their own men, scattered all across seoul, and interview them one by one until one is left standing- some come out unscathed but remember nothing; some just disappear for good after the first round of interrogations.

unless strictly necessary, or the situation has presented itself as such whereby jimin has ended all the possible candidates himself, he wouldn't resort to such drastic measures of hiring a privately trained bodyguard elsewhere, or a soldier to take that daunting position of being his personal bodyguard. he's punctilious, fussy about which heroic man of choice would be the most suited, if he were to hypothetically conclude,to lay down his measly life in exchange for jimin's. it's such a great honour to die in place of the lauded park jimin, and of course jimin himself has to personally deem who dies with such a deserving knighting worthy.

although he likes his chocolate men tall, dark and handsome when he goes abroad to engage in business dealings, if he were to settle down with someone back in his hometown in korea, a particular jeon jeongguk fits the bill perfectly. jimin prefers dark chocolate by the way, but jeongguk could be excused, he guesses. he's probably a milk chocolate with caramel filling, or a 65% cacao dark chocolate.

sometimes, jimin enjoys being an entitled, flirty brat, and yet jeongguk remains loyal, and abides to whatever rules have been imposed for them even to be initiated into this exclusive gang society in the first place. the typical oath of willing to die in honour of the gang’s reputation even when tortured- than to reveal anything of their inside information- and pledging utmost allegiance is something jimin likes and admires, and that spirit of excellence and secrecy shines brightly in the boy he'd just scanned through and added to his to-do list, if you get what he means.

the boy with the dragon tattoo.

ever since their first encounter in jimin's little rounds of shuffling, he'd always been trying his best to coquettishly talk to jeongguk, fingers tracing the dragon tattoo on his arm, making him twitch in places other than his mouth; he tickles him to watch him squirm, warm breath fanning on jeongguk's sharp cheekbones, soft lilt the ghost of a whisper against the shell of his ear. jimin is just hellbent on breaking his facade, always trying to rile him up and touch him just to watch him suffer, get a fucking boner in right front of him and yet not lose control like all other men would.

jimin likes him already. an unspoken, tacit rule was not to mingle and get into any inter-team relationships, be it highly platonic, romantic or sexual. it's difficult to kill ruthlessly when finicky things like feelings come into play. jeongguk must have the self control of a saint. word clearly has gotten round that jimin's a good lay, definitely; and he knows his own charm, that's for sure. he's been known to sleep around, the mere sight or slight whiff of his natural scent enough to seduce any living human being, allow a stranger to yearn alluringly for a dance with the devil himself. he's been said to have men fall before him, an entire gang slain as soon as they laid their eyes on him. they'd gotten too distracted by his presence to realize guns were pointed blank at them. 

it's exactly like medusa; but this was the jimin rendition of the butterfly effect, the ripple effect. he gets what he wants, whether it's the exact time down to the second, or the head of someone he despises. he has people that would lay down their lives and die for him- that's the least one could as an example to attest to jimin's power. 

“tell me three words- regardless of superiority and context. what will it be?”

the standard model answers of ‘i love you’, ‘i'll serve you’, all come, escaping futilely out of those useless, lustful mouths. their words leave, but the men don't. they never seem to reappear after entering the little white room jimin is in. he even has to be nice and pretend not to gag when they say such bullshit like that, as per namjoon and his father's orders. just disgusting.

“you before me.” is what jeongguk promises after a slight pause to ponder. 

the second round of intense shortlisting involves coffee making. a finely tuned outcome on jimin's part, to feign innocence and spill his freshly brewed espresso on the floor, with an “oh no,” in the sweetest, most saccharine of voices, a delicate flower full of poison. a flower that could kill with a single whiff. 

“you have to clean up the mess you make, don't you?” 

it's funny how they can endure things like arduous conditions challenging their strength, intense grilling of traumatic pasts and shameful fantasies, and yet when it comes to patience and ego, they crack the way jimin wants them to. it's easier to dispose of shattered pieces than the actual bulk of concrete- they take up too much space, and it's inconvenient to throw around. 

“yes, sir.” 

most are startled at his haughtiness, jaw clenching, veins popping. fists clenched as they try their best to suck it up. jeongguk remains unfazed. 

“go ahead, lick it. i want to see my boots devoid of any drop of liquid. i want them clean. ” 

his legs are crossed, but he lifts it high enough for each guard to meet it at eye level when they bow, on their knees. lifting a foot as if he were royalty getting his new shoes fitted, shone and polished for his grand coronation. if they spit at him, defy his orders, all it takes is one shot to end their pain, if young master jimin is feeling generous- otherwise, maybe a dagger or a penknife might suffice to prolong the pain, before jimin snaps which ever bone he pleases. he is a black belt in every possible martial art there is, after all. his favourites are fencing and kendo, one he revelled in- as per his favourite characters that his guilty pleasure of manga excelled in.

“hey, there's still two drops on my shoes- be a good boy, c’mon- i love this pair, so we must have it cleaned. it's a limited edition christian louboutin… from an ex, but whatever. they're irrelevant now, but at least i have the shoes-”

 

jeongguk seems to pass every test with flying colours, raking in bonus points as well. he's impressive.


“what are your boundaries, jeongguk? how far can you go? this line of work may not be suited for some.” jimin's voice is in monotone, gazing straight into his eyes.

“your father took me in when i lived on the streets and struggled to survive. you can do whatever you please with my life.” 

“sexual orientation?” 

jeongguk slowly starts to cave into jimin's rapid fire, forthright questions- there's something about the way jimin scribbles annotations about his answers and holds his montblanc fountain pen, the way he crosses his legs, the playful smile in his eyes when his lips don't. it makes jeongguk a little queasy for no particular reason, whatsoever. 

“nervous, aren't you, sweetheart? i would understand, given that all of you are wondering where did the man before you, last seen in this particular room, had vanished into thin air?” 

jeongguk gulps as jimin props himself up to sit on the table instead, looking down at him like a cat eyeing a mouse, his YSL necklace dangling right in front of jeongguk's lips, like a hypnotic charm. 

“judging by your body language, you're right, he was last seen right in this chair- in your very position, may i add- by me. ”  

well, if jeongguk didn't have goosebumps by now, he surely did after jimin's last sentence. 

“he was cute too, but i'm afraid some of his answers weren't as truthful as i expected them to be, jeongguk-ah… so i presume you know what to do?” 

there's an eager line of nods as both parties meet eye contact, jimin's plump lips curling into a smile as he tenderlytraces jeongguk's cheekbone. “good boy. now, i'll begin again- name?”

“jeon jeongguk.” 

“age?” 

“23, sir.”

the interrogation goes pretty smoothly, until that question swings by again. what if jimin hates homosexuals? what if everything gets even more personal from here on? there's no denying jimin is a very, very charming man. the charisma and aura just oozes out of him like it's perfume diffusing into the air.

“sexual orientation?”

“g-gay, sir.”

“oh? you're into men?”

jeongguk shuts his eyes, exhales loudly. if he dies in this chair, he knows heaven and the gay agenda will embrace him with open arms.

“that is correct, sir.” 

jimin hums, pens down a thing of two, flipping some of the pages in jeongguk's report, eyes flickering back and forth between jeongguk's countenance and the information printed within the dossier. more questions are placed on the table, and jeongguk answers all of them relentlessly, in earnest. 

“any kinks? ever had sex?”

“...” jeongguk starts getting even more fidgety, and a broad grin appears on jimin's angelic face. “so, a virgin! aww, don't worry, kookoo, i'll guide you through it if need be, alright?” he seems far too happy and jeongguk isn't too sure how to take that. 

“i- i have! um, may done it once or twice- but i was young and curious, so…”

jimin leaves it at that. this elongated game of twenty questions is getting too out of hand; he needs to stop being so intrigued, so that if jeongguk happens to be unsatisfactory, he’d still have a good reason or two to keep him at the mansion before a proper burial and disposal. 

“any sensitivities?”

“i have a sensitive nose, rhinitis, and i'm not too sure about drug allergies. and, um also-” he looks around at the empty room, save for the two of them, “um, my n-nipples are sensitive, if that's included too.” jimin softly uses his hand to lift up jeongguk's chin, eyes adverted to the floor, “you are so cute, my new bodyguard. lucky me.

large doe eyes blink once, twice. the light that perfectly comes behind jimin's head makes him look like he's a glowing version of a celestial saviour. the reflection of the whirring, silent fan makes his eyes look like they’re glimmering. “p-pardon?”

“did i fucking stutter, sweetheart? if that wasn't explicit enough, then, ” jimin hops off the table, clearing his throat, cupping his hands around the warm cheeks of the final candidate sitting in the presumably unlucky chair.

“congratulations. you'll be stuck with serving me from now on, till the day you die.”


previously, he'd put forth another test of wine tasting, but he applauds jeongguk for telling him upfront that he's no sommelier; or rather, he doesn't drink that much after seeing how his father ruined his own life in that manner. while jimin would've egged his candidates on just for the fun of it, he spares him. contrary to those who could not tell the difference between a cheap off-the-rack to a millésime, and still confidently announce their answers, jimin finds him interesting.

he's honest. blunt: meaning that he can be sharpened.

and by sharpening, jimin means jeongguk going through a gruelling routine of a week to literally be jimin's personal slave. all the butlers and servants are dismissed, cornering jeongguk to do everything himself. from doing the laundry and helping jimin with his outfits, making lunches and dinners that are not inclusive of instant rice or cup noodles; it's been a bleak and cold week, with plates shattered, cold water splashed at his face when jimin is unhappy with his subpar performance. he even has to cope with jimin's shenanigans, always popping up to check on him and correct him when he's doing something improper or dangerous. it only takes him two days to be on the verge of breaking down and quitting, if not for his mother's last words echoing in his mind.

in all honesty, jimin's trying his best to make jeongguk's life in the week as miserable as possible. he'd felt bad when the younger boy greeted him one morning with puffy eyes, but this was to ensure that jeongguk would be prepared of what's to come. all the servants here have gone through similar things, and it all gets easier from there. or at least, on the chores section. being jimin's bodyguard is still no mean feat, particularly given his line of work. if jimin's fighting the urge to go soft on the boy, he sends him to bed early and tells him to order fried chicken delivery to spare him the cooking and cleaning. he's probably never seen jeongguk's eyes sparkle that much before.


“i don't really, um, appreciate caffeine, young master.”

jimin makes him do learn and reproduce dosing,leveling, tamping, and gets so entertained when jeongguk makes a face at how bitter espresso is, is too strong the lever for the coffee grind almost detaches when he's ordered to brew with one handfor jimin's viewing pleasure and amusement.

“here you go.” jeongguk slides the freshly steamed cup of latte over, and jimin tsks, shaking his head, making him frown. water thrown at him is still remotely tolerable, but this? no thank you, ma'am. 

“feed me,” jimin pouts, chin nudging at the cup, and jeongguk hides a sigh of relief. he picks the white china cup and blows on the foam to cool it, causing jimin's eyes to widen in the fraction of a second before regaining his pristine composure. that was slightly unexpected, he muses, as jeongguk wears a worried expression, tipping the cup for jimin to taste his final product. 

“is it any good?”

“it's delicious,” jimin purrs, one hand over jeongguk's, licking off the crema staining the side of his lips coquettishly, making his soon to be bodyguard flush. “you're pretty talented, aren't you, jeonggukie?”

“y-you flatter me, sir.”


“you have one last test to clear, young man.” 

it's the seventh day, with nightfall looming. it would be such a shame if jeongguk failed at the most critical of stages- which is why he's bracing himself for the worst to come, whatever it may be. death meant nothing if for a noble cause; however, dying for no goddamn purpose or good reason would be so unwarranted.

“i'm ready, sir.”

he's lying. he's sweating as he bows his head slightly, jaw clenched, shoulders tensed. he guesses jimin can tell as much, the way the latter laughs. 

“follow me.”

jimin leads him to a spare bedroom, not frequently used but still beautifully furnished in it's simple design and furniture. he takes a sip of red wine by the bedside, taking a cherry from the bowl next to it and patting the bed for jeongguk to come over. 

“i guess it's time to pop another cherry,” jimin croons, biting the red fruit and plucking out the stem with an audible pop. “or should i say, your blueberries?” 

“sir, i don't think-”

“oh, jeonggukie, didn't you promise to listen to me?” jimin feigns innocence, lips settled in a sulk, “you said you would listen…”

jeongguk still hesitates. jimin can almost see through him, calculating every single consequence possible- unfortunately, all paths lead to the same destination; and in other words, that meant jimin getting his way. the way his hands are a jumbled mess makes jimin settle this once and for all- to conclude that choosing jeongguk was the right decision. although, it would be a waste if jeongguk didn't perform in this particular area, as he would've liked. nonetheless, jimin could tell he was a good man- and nice men may not always finish last. 

the rest before had voraciously accepted the offer, come at him like ravenous creatures given a free pass to an eat-all-you-can buffet at the shangri-la, an undeserved taste of the ritz. 

“but i'm here to protect you, sir. not to wreck you.”

the irony wound definitely come to pass in a moment’s time- but for now, was that a challenge? did this feisty man kneeling before him daresay he would be able to wreck jimin? physically or mentally? as bodyguard and mob prince or as jimin and jeongguk? the stoic statement makes his blood rush with adrenaline, buzz with curiosity. 

park jimin is not one to turn down a challenge. although, he must say, if the double entendre was intended, he admires this particular jeon jeongguk's confidence and candidness. how bold and presumptuous of him. what a shame jimin already has a growing soft spot for him- it would've been better if he remained unaffected to the vast majority of people he interacted with; then there would be lesser to hold against him. emotional attachments, jimin scoffs, such a bother.

he had seen this circumstance coming, and so he came with a counteract. a placebo effect. he saunters to the coffee table, picking up a little packet with two pills, slowly undoing the ribbon of the night robe. “these are special ecstasy pills, jeon. i curated them myself- tried and tested, for personal pleasure and self-gratification. i promise you we'll have a good time if you take these, honey. before you know it, your body will act on its own accord…” 

as if it was already foreseen, jimin walks over to him with a glass of water, and he takes one more glance at jimin's beguiling smile before he gulps down the pills, panting in disbelief of his own actions. it takes ten seconds for his body to feel hot, head dizzy with desire. jimin seems to be very pleased. 

“we shall see if your stamina really is up to par as you brazenly claim, jeon. now come here and do your worst.” 

the robes of midnight blue silk quickly gets peeled off and tossed aside in one quick move.


in other words, the sex was good. for his first time, jimin ranks it in his top ten list. whether or not jeongguk is able to top that (no pun intended) or fall short as a fluke, jimin will have to wait and see in due course.


jimin's occasional day job in the office as akin to a part-timer’s- although the high ranking in the company is a given. he's an intellectual, a graduate from havard medicine, class president for as long as he can remember, has been to boarding school. in other words, he is a force to be reckoned with, in spite of however effeminate he may look, or how petite his size. some people have the nerve to scoff at him right in his face- jimin just makes sure they're found the next day, dead in a ditch.

he's both brain and brawn under the guise of a multifaceted vessel that goes primarily as park jimin. he likes thinking of his ways of going incognito and undercover into various situations and places as being a spy; as part of the dark side of how his father's empire runs, he's been given the golden baton of slipping into many, many roles to collect all sorts of information while having fun. it's exciting to be put into so many colourful scenarios in so many undisclosable scenes, seducing men and women alike, making small talk with easily accessible outlets of ‘oh no, please keep that to yourself- i wasn't supposed to tell anyone’. although, those are usually the newbies that throw the first basis for jimin to get started- the veterans with mafioso ties these days don't let their guard down so easily with small fry. they like playing hard to get.


today he works in the club. there’s this lecherous man trying to touch him all over, so he retorts back in latex pants, just to give him a little taste; distracting him with his hips, his nimble hands slide some deadly white powder into his drink. once he gets the man’s keys, he'll say hello to one of the most elusive penthouses in gangnam. “so, princess, care to spend the night with me?” the old fogey slurs, dirty hands roaming jimin's waist, and jimin decides that he'll save his bachata routine for a bigger bait. the standard bodyrolls will do for tonight. i'd rather die than be called princess by you. words like that need to be earned, don't they?

“oh, don't tease me,” he shys, eyelashes fluttering faux coyly, poisoned cocktail guiding it's way to those ugly, filthy hands. he runs his fingers through his ginger hair, laughing to himself at what's about to come. “why don't you take a sip? i ordered it specially, just for you...

the gaudy rings are lifted towards his thick coarse lips, eyes crinkled in a lustful gaze, as jimin pretends to put his arms around him, so that when the man drops, it looks more like he's dead drunk in the club rather than certifiably deceased. he leans in close, pretending to be one of the clubbers grinding against each other. “so, you wanna tell me which dock choi seungcheol is intending on smuggling his counterfeit money to?” the man was an infamous figure in the jeolla region, stemming from daegu- but his current whereabouts were unknown. himself included, he had seventeen of them scattered across the nation. only a headcount of thirteen were left.

“m-mokpo passenger t-terminal- to j-jeju-”

the frothing by his mouth, the epileptic looking seizures- jimin almost pities his last words that come out all breathy and choked. he takes a minute to place a hypodermic syringe into his pocket, swapping places with everything that was there. he leaves the wallet for easier identification, for his long time useless police friends. they'll be needing it.

“you didn't even last a round with me, though?” jimin ponders aloud, as he swings the keyring in circled around his finger, sauntering towards the exit as the body gets kicked over, tossed aside and out of his way.

 

the post mortem examination will rule the man dying of heroin overdose.

jimin leaves, a heroine.


to build up his stamina and get into shape, jeongguk relishes in being the exercise freak he once used to be. the young master calls him a ‘muscle pig’, but his sassy comments only result in yelps when jeongguk uses him as a weight to do bicep curls. jimin may or may not have enjoyed partaking in such physical activity- the blush creeping up his cheeks was nice to watch.

more often than not, jimin reads books while he does his daily 240 push-ups, balanced on his back as jeongguk does his presses and planks. one time, he managed to finish a whole bottle of wine and six chapters of kafka. today he's reading historical fantasy, a break from the usual philosophical ideas or groundbreaking scientific research ideas.

once, jimin was being an absolute brat, and as jeongguk was challenging himself to plank for more than 3 minutes, and the moment he could see jeongguk's teeth clench, hands about to tremble, he spares no hesitation in sliding underneath to torture him further.

“you can't crush your young master, can you?”

the smug comment makes jeongguk's jugular veins bulge, fists visibly tightened, eyes with a resolve of steel.

“n-no, sir,” he grits, watching as the timer slowly ticks past the 3 minute and 20 seconds mark, before abruptly rolling to the side and getting up. thank god jimin's eyes were on his face, and not somewhere else; that would've been pretty hard to handle.


there’s this interactive holographic table that sits in one of the study rooms, the walls pinned with various articles and vital pieces of information circled and taped, reminiscent of a sherlockian drawing room. a world map stays fastened on the wall, next to a zoomed one of south korea, red string and pins marking down visible ties and connections of any crime syndicates, illegal dealings they’re aware of but do not publicize.

at the tap of a finger, the table greets him, briefing both of them in the scope of today’s outfield. jimin drags the different overlapping tabs and evidence, digitized images of the gangsters they're after, zooming in and out for modus operandi, mission specifics and objects to retrieve or locate. the multiple cameras planted in different settings are already set up, traffic cameras easily manipulated by taehyung when he was still serving under jimin’s reign.

“a cop today, hmm.” jimin muses, pulling out a military uniform, and jeongguk cringes, fearing it might be one size too small. he’s dyed- okay, realistically spray painted- his hair a dark purple for this errand. it turns out the police officer look is something jimin really likes, the fabric only a little taut across his chest. jimin had a seasoned comrade do up a convincingly forged badge and id, just in case of tenacious obstacles presented. no, scratch that, like would be an understatement, jeongguk looks ridiculously hot in a policeman outfit, and to make things better, one of jimin’s dream jobs was to be an officer when he was younger.

“arrest me, officer?” jeongguk gulps, but jimin just laughs and shows him the photos of the two delinquents they’re after today, to give them a better lead and confirm their theories. to make things more convincing, jimin is supposed to get arrested, lying in bait in a temporary jail cell, with rebellious carrot coloured streaks in his frizzy ramen hair, whining about how unfair officer jeon is being.

“officer jeon, i’m bored! please play with me~!”

jeongguk’s job is to bring the two kids from the street, a blonde and redhead, back into the police post to leak out any possible leads. the boy with cherry-bomb coloured hair went by the name lee taeyong. the only information about the blonde one was that his codename was ten. the typical rebellious kids that do graffiti, scratch people's cars, or spread nails on the road to achieve unsuspecting punctured tyres.

“oh man, that's just so fun, i love seeing their faces when they come back to collect their car,” jimin says, and the other two males exchange looks, before starting a casual banter with jimin.

“oh hell yes, you should see their faces when we stuck gum on their keyholes. priceless.”

now that they've eased into the shitty things they do for ‘fun’, it's time to get into the real deal. they’re easier to work around, afraid of being first time offenders, but jimin waves away their worries, promising to make sure they get to leave without any blacklists- his rich friend’s coming to bail them out, so to kill time together, why not strike a conversation across cells?

“ah, wish i was there! totally would've put it all over twitter and instagram, ugh… can you imagine if it was a cadillac? now that would've been super slick.”

“hey! speaking of a cadillac, didn't we see one just last week? like… i think it was parked behind this firetruck-” taeyong pauses to think, and jeongguk perks his ears up, using his keyboard in front of the desktop to make the surveillance zoom in to the confession to detect any visible signs of lying. he's still pretending to file out their offences in a record for the system. “yeah! the guy was pretty hot, too… lemme think, i guess he was around our age? maybe 26-ish? er, i think he had this pretty sick tattoo of his surname in hanja on his neck-”

“wait, was it the word ‘son’? ” jimin pipes up, because if it is, then the they're on the right trail. if not, either a red herring, or they're barking up the wrong tree. that would be such a waste of resources.

“oh my god- i think it was! you know this guy, huh? also a hoodlum?” the one with the blonde hair points at jimin, who spews some rubbish about how the guy looked like he was an asshole, the other two immediately agreeing and spilling more nuggets of information as the memories flooded back after prompting. so it was the h.s.s mob. the hwan-son-sung-pa. they filtered out their lineage somewhere around the fifth generation, but maintained possessing active treaties with an international scale of vast connections- mexico, america, japan, china. they could be dangerous, a potential threat if not kept tabs on.

on cue, the hired actor pretending to be jimin's friend to bail him out as a guardian arrives- thinking he's been hired as a calefare role in the filming of a k-drama, and with that, everybody leaves, exits and runs out to avoid getting 'caught' again. they've been paid in advance to act as administrative clerks, amateur detectives in the background to complete the realistic setting, so of course they put up a fantastic show. the two harmless delinquents successfully ‘escaped’ with jimin, who also ran out to gain their trust and finish his act with a bow. what they think is that they've gotten off scot free- what they don't know, is that the police post was a carefully designed and orchestrated one. it's a clean play, and jimin whistles as he makes a big detour, entering from the back door.

jeongguk's fanning himself vigorously as jimin monitors the cctv reels, zooming and replaying in slow motion just to be exact, noting down possible leads. just as he concludes that his bodyguard’s done a fantastic job, wanting to pat him on the back, he notices a disgruntled jeongguk sweating and sulking, mumbling something about banana milk to himself.

“jeongguk-ah, you did gre- sorry, did you say something?” jimin peels off his denim jacket with many holes and graffiti scribbles to create a rugged look, ripped jeans staying. the rebellious graphic tee needs to go. he pulls on a red and black checked cotton balenciaga flannel instead. it has ribbons on its sleeves, something that jeongguk realises the elder has a flair for. flowy numbers with pretty and exquisite detailing.

“i want eat.” jeongguk seems unfazed by jimin's half an outfit change to show his chocolate washboard abs. instead of turning away in embarrassment, he's sulking that he's missed his lunchtime. it somehow makes jimin feel fond, in spite of being hot on a whole criminal gang’s trail. jeongguk's an overgrown baby, he's come to realise. a capable overgrown baby that needs to be fed lots.

“okay, let's eat, shall we?”


three months into his job, jeongguk finds himself summoned into jimin's study at 11am sharp. with two polite raps, he enters, jimin paying him no mind, as if anticipating his arrival. on his desk lies a green leather box.

“it's for you.” jimin doesn't even look up once, but jeongguk is prompted to open it.

it's a rolex watch, staring back at him from the cream suede interior. a submariner two-tone rolex. oystersteel and yellow gold.

“i can't accept this, young master-” jeongguk's at a loss for words. “this is- this is a rolex, sir-”

“i am perfectly aware, jeongguk ssi,” jimin snaps his book shut, sarcastically, putting it down on the table with a thud. “will you be accepting my gift or not?” his older brother had bought yoongi a rolex too, when he first came to live in the mansion- and look how far they've come.

“but this-” this watch alone costs 14 million won-!  

“i bought taehyung a jaeger lecoultre for his first 100 days serving me as well. it's nothing special.”

nothing special?

“o-oh. thank you, sir.”

jeongguk leaves the room with the rolex box in his hands, overwhelmed with a little sadness, confusion, and gratitude.


the eyeliner applicator is refusing to cooperate. how is jimin going to go over his waterline and tightline it to look irresistible, then? grouchy, his face scrunches, as he proceeds to do the rest of his face first before coming back to the problematic little gel pen. maybe he should have stuck to the eyeliner pencils instead of testing out the new guerlain one- it just won't wing the way jimin wants it to.

“jimin ssi? can i help you?” jimin reluctantly hands him the applicator, lips jutting out in a dissatisfied pout. the sight almost makes jeongguk coo, tempted to poke his cheeks.

since he collects a ton of makeup for aesthetic purposes, he did do some research and watch various tutorials in his free time. he starts touching up on jimin's face in close proximity, it hits him that jimin would be a perfect model with his nice features. when the red lipstick gets swiped on, jeongguk hastily wipes it off to start again, making jimin grimace, what's going on? alternatively, cherry-flavoured glitter gloss gets dabbed over his lush lips.

“what's the matter, jeongguk?” he knows he looks good in gloss, but red lipstick would've looked incredible on his lips as well, so why the change?

“people will stare at you, because you're too pretty,” jeongguk scowls, brows knitted together. “a-and then i'll have a tougher time protecting you because you garner too much attention.”

“why, are you jealous, jungoo?”

more often than not, jeongguk gets riled up when people baby him and tease him and call him cute pet names, but with jimin, it's somehow alright. nice, even. maybe. he's not very sure as of yet.

“no… ‘m not…”

they continue to work in silence, with other servants fixing up his hair, making sure his gucci brooch and lapels are aligned, the outfit is free of any trace of lint. the many servants that rushed in now take their leave, leaving jimin alone with jeongguk and his slicked back hair. i should try slicking my hair back one day, too. gukkie looks irresistible- no, he shouldn't go like that… he's right, he'll attract too much attention from the females because of how handsome he is...

“beautiful would be an understatement for the way you look tonight,” jeongguk murmurs, fixing the final touches on his young master’s face.

“so, beautiful is just for tonight?”

“no! no, i never said you weren't beautiful any other day or less-”

jeongguk's immediate and flustered retort makes jimin giggle, nearly falling off the chair and landing into a confused jeongguk's arms. “did i say something wrong, jimin ssi?” 

“ah, it's nothing. i just like teasing you is all. also, fluff your hair back, or comb it down. i don't want this hairstyle on you.” 

“y-yes sir. if you don't mind me... um, does it look that bad?” he looks sheepish as he fixes his cufflinks, jimin beckoning a manservant in to do his hair. he can’t help but notice jeongguk’s crestfallen eyes. 

“it looks too good for the crass people there.” 

the moment they leave the door, they are but a chauffeur and a young heir to a cleverly engineered pharmaceutical company for the night. the drive there in the bentley continental gt, is nothing but a silent one. that is, on jeongguk's part. 

a sly ring-laden hand snakes its way to stroke jeongguk's thigh midway. “jeongguk ssi, i don't have a driver's license, so i can't exactly live up to it and park like my surname, you know?” it's jimin that does most of the talking, or humming along to the songs playing in the background that jeongguk dismisses as white noise. the chauffeur has his eyes on the road, providing visual replies instead of verbal ones.

“but as someone who's familiar with the passenger seat, gukkie, i do know how to ride… ” it makes jeongguk choke and sputter on his own spit, five minutes before they reach the grand piazza of the shilla . jeongguk tests his in-ears, giving a nod to jimin as the bellboys outside stride over to open the car door for him. 

“by the way- i’ll be saving the red lipstick for you, jeongguk-ah.” the wink jimin gives before humming and sauntering into the ballroom lobby has jeongguk's heart beating a little faster than usual.


he's an undercover spy sent to attend a gala today. his mission is to retrieve as many hidden files or pieces of information from the decadents that will soon fill the ballroom. the colourful ball gowns and evening dresses, sparkly diamond rings and encrusted watches glimmer as the spotlights hit them, a display of wealth and power. the gazes of each person, as he surveys the room cautiously, changes. everyone seems to be perfunctorily eyeing another, wary and yet superfluous about their tactful actions.

it's difficult spotting the family that threw this gala, since the best entrances are always saved for last. plus, jimin is more than a thousand percent sure that the single and eligible bachelorettes are bound to flock to his target for tonight- what can he say? he's pretty charming, he knows. thus, he has to stay vigilant; other than jeongguk and himself, there are some of the park empire’s people planted here too. they may not know each other when they pass by in the ballroom, but they are aware enough that they work for the same motive- reflected in the same type of bracelet they wear. taemin is somewhere in the crowd representing his rightful line of work in pharmaceuticals, minho as a fellow decadent, for instance. namjoon and yoongi are here blended in the background, to show up to give face to the esteemed invitation.

after making idle talk and striking conversations with probable tattletale daft hedonists, jimin decides to stick around and wait for his turn, lurking in the background with his alcohol until his prey shows up. some of the men here are ridiculously cute, and boy is he glad he made jeongguk sweep his hair down. the gossipy girls here with their bitchy voices, vera wang, swarovski or tiffany's would've absolutely swooned.

the lights dim, and the music fades, spotlight pointed at the stairwell cascading from the mezzanine; the chatter from the crowds make jimin confirm his suspicions of the other park family finally showing up- meaning there would only be two hours or so before the actual auction would commence. he needed to be quick.

he remains in the background, getting another one of his men to update of their status quo, the dubbed mission’s progress. so far, everything's going well. he thanks heechul, who slips back in as a waiter, and heads towards the family in topic for today, the immediate direction the crowd is veering towards. all it takes is a shy wave of his fingers, a coy gaze with his perfectly blended smoky eyeshadow, and he knows his prey is done for.

once he gets park chanyeol into a corner, flushed and stuttering, jimin personally hands him a champagne flute, putting on his second skin of acting pretty- as he already is, naturally- one flirtatious hand snaking its way here and there, enough for the taller man to fidget. how cute.

“chanyeol ssi,” jimin pouts, “i heard you will be auctioning some of your family's finest jewels and heirloom tonight?”

“y-yes, that is so..?” he blinks at jimin, unsure of how to address him, but not daft enough to ask for his name straightforwardly, lest he be a snobby chaebol that would cause a huge fuss. jimin, on the contrary, works fast and clandestine, away from the spotlight; unlike his charming and radiant outlook and personality. the duality of a man, as the internet would like to put it.

“it's jimin, or would you like to call me, say, yours?

chanyeol softly covers half of his face in embarrassment, taken aback by jimin's boldness, but soon gets coaxed and swept away by jimin's honeyed words, explaining how a large proportion of the sale would be going to charity and raise awareness for a condition someone dear passed on from. jimin nods with faux reverence, completely empathetic- but more so anxious if he'll run out of time; he needs to get chanyeol to somewhere private in order to fish out more information. although, he knows which room should be private enough for his liking. it’s easier to maneuver through the elaborate, ostentatious design of the shilla when he’s had more than enough insider information to memorise the floor plan beforehand.

before yoongi held a gun and silencer in his hand, he held a pencil and a floor space index- a budding architect that got sabotaged by a jealous competitor, who later ended up under rubble for his miscalculation of the pillar of a basement floor. yoongi first got involved with any sort of  gang business because he’d injured his shoulder while delivering ‘white substance’ to an incognito bakery. this led to his hard-earned savings all being squandered on exorbitant hospital bills rather than his architecture course fee as a private student.

hearing that one of his henchmen had caused a certain min yoongi to have a broken shoulder, namjoon had personally gone down to pay the delivery boy a visit, offering him full compensation and some additional cash to express his utmost apologies. he remembered the fire in his eyes, the defiance and desperation yoongi radiated, but sucked it up anyway since he vowed to complete his education. fast forward into the future, namjoon helped him to become a successful architect, an award-winning, freelance planner and builder hired under multiple businesses. he’s also worked with a certain partners-in-crime duo kim mingyu and jeon wonwoo- also present tonight- to know they're dangerous counterfeiters that are well versed with the shilla’s interior design. jimin needs to make haste.

four more leisurely strides, and they’re here. the room jimin’s been longing to inspect; if the hope diamond - or ‘french blue’, as the monarchy preceding the tumult of the french revolution called it- was present, jimin could ascertain chanyeol's ancestry or close ties to be strongly related to another crime syndicate half across the globe.

when namjoon walks past jimin, he mouths thirty minutes left, since they've gathered all that they need in intangible forms- blackmail and bribery wouldn't work against their favour. somewhere in the crowd, yoongi bumps into him, subtly drawing an X on the back of his palm as they cross paths, indicating that his survey of the original floor plan was still intact. namjoon has had his fill, but it's not enough for jimin.

he wants more.

it’s awfully draining to keep his mask up, despite chanyeol being such a gentleman, and jimin’s getting tired. his job is done, gathering his own clues and piecing them together, good enough to report. but the glitz and glamour of the shilla makes him mull over the prospect of pampering and loving himself. just once more- the necklace he’s set his eyes on would only be an apt reward for today’s performance, a token of remembrance of his handiwork. a successful man never quite reveals all the tricks up his long sleeves, but experience galvanizes the fact that jimin’s smile can disarm almost anyone. the paste replica he had prepared in advance is deftly wedged into his palm, and by a sleight of hand, he’s conjured himself a fortune.

the incomparable diamond necklace weighs in at 637 carats, considered to be the most expensive necklace in the world. the deep yellow 407.48-carat diamond featured as the centrepiece is the largest internally flawless diamond ever known.

he blows chanyeol a kiss, just for added measure, since he’s ever so grateful.

he leaves the room with the necklace sitting pretty in his pockets, valued at approximately 62 billion won.

 

he also leaves, not noticing a sharp pair of eyes following his every move, plush lips that could rival his curling into a smirk.


it’s easy when the rumour mill says that jimin is nothing but a playboy, a narcissistic decadent, and when he fucks, it’s always the mantra of get off, then get out. it’s easy when all they have to do is reach a mutual consensus of a nonpareil high. it’s easy when jimin has almost zero restraint in bed, save for the golden rule of no kissing, no lips on lips.

it should be easy, because without the chasing of jimin's beautiful little mouth, there would be no strings attached. no hard feelings, no emotional package to come along with it as a byproduct.

it should be easy, given that jimin always prepares the two tablets of ecstasy for him, that he swallows without a second thought anymore when it comes to jimin's prerogative being provocative. it's a fascinating thing, to see jimin pinned under him, docile and unyielding, mercurial and sublime for him; the aching aura to chase the edge of an orgasm, the emanating scent of lust and longing filling the bedroom.

with every arch of his back, every knead into his skin; every featherlight touch and echo of a breath- they feel it, hear it, see it- together. as jeongguk presses a trail of wet, sloppy kisses down jimin's spine, hands grabbing the tender flesh of jimin's remarkable ass, protecting and guarding his sacred orifice; the drag of the flat of jeongguk's tongue across his perineum making him whine. it should be every goddamn day that his ass gets the rimming it deserves, but unfortunately, due to time and constraint, it doesn’t always come through.

“j-jeongguk, please, please-

jimin's wearing one of his many white dress shirts, looking like it's two sizes bigger on him, recklessly buttoned in the middle so that it covers part of his body, and yet sensually allows the rest of the fabric to fall off his shoulders, bunch at his elbows; it makes jeongguk growl with possession, want to mark him up for all of his suitors to see. like a prized collector’s doll, a yellow step-cut diamond lies paraded in the middle of his chest, a further 91 diamonds adorning the rose gold chain hanging proudly on his neck. on his ears, hanging on for dear life, are a pair of alexander mcqueen crystal drop earrings, a matching amber to his chest, tantamount to leaves fluttering in the breeze, with every thrust, every keen, every stroke.

“jimin ssi, you're really getting so shameless these days, huh? trying to rile me up like this-” the gravelly voice dropping an octave makes jimin shudder, vocalise the most wanton of moans as he accidentally allows jeongguk's shirt to now hang off one shoulder, revealing his flawless caramel skin in a sultry rather than salacious manner, the little dimple on his left shoulder now a landmark jeongguk bears in mind to favour. rather than being stark naked, it makes jeongguk crave, makes him want even more. it drives him hysterical, really, the way jimin sits so regally in his lap like it was the throne rightfully made for the prince of busan. the way his hips automatically buck up when jimin comes down in stutters, dip of the immaculate bone structure and v line of his hips- thighs burning, hands grasping, eyes meeting, bodies sated;

jimin can't help but notice that jeongguk's never taken off his rolex ever since jimin had given it to him, making him purr when the cold metal makes contact against his burning skin, grazing over his body when jeongguk tells him time and again how beautiful it is.

the crown jewels sit so right on his clavicles, on display for jeongguk, and only for jeongguk, as he bounces in jeongguk's lap, hands splayed on his torso as he rides jeongguk to overstimulation. every transient moment that jimin gently caresses his jawline, skims past the pert nubs on his chest causes a tingle to run down his nervous system, twitch with airy mewls. with every manhandle, the yellow gem and diamonds flaunted on jimin’s neck ricochet in vim and vigour, as if reflecting the flicker of a flame burning deep in jeongguk's eyes.


he's too busy getting into shape for their next heist, whatever it might be, and he likes sweating it out, anyway. it feels right, feels good doing training for his core muscles and toning his thick thighs that could rival jimin's. oh, and not to forget, the biceps that jimin feels safer grabbing onto when he's scared or as a reflex. he barely notices jimin standing by the doorframe, motioning him to come over after his exercise regimen, having prepared a water bottle in his hands- and it even has a straw because, according to jimin, jeongguk is his baby.

later, when he goes to the kitchen just before lunch, he finds the empty bottles of banana milk left on the kitchen counter- and even though he has to throw them away himself, he feels himself smiling at jimin's effort; the latter never comes into the kitchen unless yoongi’s cooking tonkatsu for them, to steal some bites before dinner.

another moment jeongguk will never fail to forget is jimin flipping his bangs up to dry his sweat, softly dabbing at his forehead with concern in his eyes and jeongguk kind of melts into a puddle of goo, his heart starting to beat so fast he hopes jimin can't hear- or even if he could, it was due to the intense cardio he did. he's so cute and fun to tease, jimin muses, gazing into jeongguk's dorky face as he warms up under his touch, sweetly wiping off his perspiration. perhaps, not necessarily his, but still a very precious, overgrown baby.


VENDING MACHINE MURDERS: SERIAL KILLER IS BACK AFTER A THREE MONTH HIATUS

the bold headlines on the newspaper were grim news. the police and investigation team had allegedly detained a number of suspects, definite that the killer was one of them- but apparently they were still at large. 35 hospitalised and 11 dead, the article ran, cause of death confirmed to be the herbicide paraquat, a banned substance in 32 countries, including the republic of south korea. paraquat is an easily obtainable weed killer outside of the country, and ingestion of paraquat may cause immediate symptoms such as nausea, abdominal pains, vomiting and diarrhea that may be bloody.

in severe cases, a few hours after ingestion or inhalation of a substantially large amount of paraquat may lead to: acute organ failure, muscle weakness, pulmonary edema, and respiratory failure amongst others. these were the observable traits displayed by the exhumed bodies and current patients in the ICU wards.

the ‘vending machine killer’ was last recorded to be accountable for the death of a woman, han seo hee, aged 25, found on the streets and pronounced dead on the spot when found by paramedics. her death was approximated to be somewhere between 2-5am on the 18th of february, the last the ‘vending machine killer’ struck. police and authorities are still investigating into this matter. inside reports say the cold case has no evident leads so far, and is likely to remain unsolved still.

jimin furrows his brows as he sets down the newspaper, this whole slew of insanely clean murders having shaken the entire country when it first made it to the headlines. it struck trepidation and a huge furore by the general public, questioning who would be next since there seemed to be no evident connection between every victim. jimin had even run a thorough reconnaissance in an attempt to catch the culprit behind, but the victims had nothing to do with the underworld whatsoever; in terms of age, gender, location, religion, everything seemed to be purely a case of unfortunate coincidence. it did not help that some of the deceased were philanthropists, or small figures that made considerable change to many people's lives- they were innocent and good citizens that contributed to society, and absolutely did not deserve death. their dossiers showed no signs of illegal dealings, or controversial material.

the mind boggling part is the certainty of foul play, and yet when examined, every can of lotte coffee looked exactly identical to the non poisoned ones- almost as if the drawing of a can contaminated with paraquat were the short end of a stick in the lotto. lotte had released an official statement regarding the use of paraquat in their drinks, and vehemently denied all allegations of the company relying on usage of the banned herbicide to generate an uproar, or cause death to unsuspecting citizens.

every victim had drank from a can of lotte coffee- one of korea’s best selling drinks- a curious fact to note was that some victims drank from an unopened can that was left on top of the vending machine, as part of a ‘pass it on’ campaign, while others had dropped in coins to pick a fatal can of paraquat laced coffee. what gripped the public was the fact that it was pure luck to have obtained such a can, and if the serial killer was still on the loose, one day it could change beverage from coffee to a milkis drink, or pear juice, or tropicana. one day it could lead to a necessity, or a food staple. people were starting to fear the dispensing of drinks from the convenient machines at the station, on the road. sales had fallen severely to an all time low, canned drinks in supermarkets and convenience stores affected as well.

what was disturbing to jimin, in particular, was one of the major shareholders of lotte tracing back to a subsidiary of kim corporations.


jeongguk still remembers his mother's last words to him, written in her own blood, in shaky traces of her trembling fingers.

son, you have to survive.” from then on it was all he ever thought of. survive. live. for his mother and his brother.

his father had gotten involved in a gangster circle, one of the lesser known kkangpae, caught up in acts of exhortation, blackmail, and acting as a runner to fuel his supply of drugs to aid his addiction. somewhere along the warped way, their family had been a victim of targeted harassment when their father had fled the town after borrowing a hefty sum from illegal loan sharks. in order to fend for their lives, forced to survive in a cruel, gritty world, jeongguk and his brother were taken in to run ‘errands’ in exchange for their lives and some petty cash.

he'd learned hand to hand combat and how to operate a basic gun in all the scuffles that stemmed from bitter arguments like territorial disputes. his brother tended to work on the rerouting and tying deals section, rather than physical combat. in short, they pushed his brother to an ultimatum in one of the slums in busan, and made him the scapegoat of the murder of another gang member. he shot himself before the ruffians could capture and torture him.

they'd betrayed all of them, jeongguk came to realise, petty cash also made of counterfeit notes, food that they were ‘kind’ enough to supply expired cans and condiments found by the garbage dumps. the day he vowed to exterminate the people that made use of his whole family was the day his mother committed suicide out of guilt- she had gambled away their wreck of a house in hopes of winning it back on the betting table.

son, you have to survive.

the very ‘accommodating’ gang that had taken him in barged in while he was still mourning, kneeling by his mother's limp figure, calling him as backup to one of their useless tussles with other small clans. this time, the opposing gang wasn't that small. he'd fought with everything he had, turning his back against the people that claimed to have been his benefactors; every slash and punch and kick an unleashed and bottled up anger and grief, until he himself was left pummelled with a broken rib and nasty gashes all over. the dragon on his arm he'd gotten as a symbol of defiance and phony loyalty. he was still a scrawny boy then, surviving on miserable scraps, food he fought or shared with stray dogs to have. he could have died, but a notable figure- from what his swollen and bruised eyes- had told his men to take jeongguk in, and nurse him back to health.

 

that man was park jimin's father.


every 5:30pm on a saturday, if possible, he goes to the columbarium to visit his mother's ashes, places together with his brother's. mr park had been kind enough to bring the cremated remains for him from busan to seoul, and buy them a proper tablet and pigeonhole to place the ashes. of course, the condition was that jeongguk work for the park empire for as long as he lived, and that jeongguk had no qualms about; he just had to survive.


“i raised you to be a cancer, seok- boy. ” there were too many name and face changes that even the old man was confused; coupled with the rapid decline of his eyesight, he merely remembered a random syllable from one of the nine lives and stuck with it. “this was the purpose you were created for… the reason for your very existence…”

a cancer, a virus to wreck and cause havoc in the world. to ruin lives, to manipulate people. a virus that spread and mutated with no cure.

he's always hated the old man. always. ever since he came to the household, the complete opposite to the definition of a home. he hated this room that the old man summoned him into, every once in a blue moon, just to see if his creation had survived. he absolutely hated the balding man’s repulsive face, hie beady eyes, the outline of his aquiline nose, the smell of cigars, the feeble lighting; he hated everything about it.

 

“i understand, my lord.”


it’s been a while that jeongguk’s been by his side, faithful and kind. it moves jimin, the way jeongguk subtly walks on the outsides of the pavement, closer to the traffic, the way he nudges the banchan and water towards jimin, makes sure jimin’s safe and protected. but then again, that’s his job, isn’t it? the protocol of laying down his life for young master park. it’s a normal thing, it’s what he receives money and free accomodation to do for a living.

the small of jimin’s back, his tiny lean waist, is somewhat like a safe haven for him. if it makes jimin feel shielded, then it means he’s doing a good job. jimin’s always tripping all over the place, even having laughed so hard once, he fell off the chair. now jeongguk has to make a conscious effort to hold down or support the chairs he sits on, notably those pesky swivel chairs. gravity seems to be a big park jimin fan too.

jeongguk finds himself fussing more and more over making sure jimin is bundled up on cold days, making sure he eats. on casual days when they go out to dine, he gets upset every so often when jimin naturally acts cute towards namjoon to make sure they eat what he feels like having, and his older brother will always boop his nose in return and spoil him, much to his chagrin- rock, paper, scissors exists for a reason, you know.

from time to time, jimin likes to tap his chin playfully, and jeongguk secretly likes it- he likes being noticed and given jimin's attention. they’re out dining and jimin's stacking smoked salmon on rye bread, slathering it with cream cheese, generous in garnishing.

“here, jeonggukie- i made this for you, it’s worth 50,000 won each,” the snack gets guided to his mouth, and jeongguk chomps it up and glee. “actually, since i made it, it should be charged 300,000 won a slice! is it good?” even though there's only one answer, jeongguk feels himself smiling as jimin carefully feeds him the remnants, until his cheek muscles hurt.

“wow, this is delicious,”

“what’s that?”

he’s talking with half a mouthful, but jimin perks up from stirring his bowl of porridge and transfers it in front of jeongguk as if he ordered it.

“you can have it!” he blurts without hesitation, “it’s ginseng chicken porridge, it’s very nutritious, you should eat it-” he picks up the menu to hide his rosy cheeks, “i was, uh, planning to order something else anyway.”

jeongguk finishes every drop- but its taste not being the main reason why the bowl was licked clean.


another day, another slay- the pink wig is on, and he's done up his face so prettily, or as the locals would say, serving pure fish. jimin already has plump lips and a sexy eye shape to begin with, and all he needs is a sprinkle of his makeup skill and a smidge of colour and glitter to transform himself into a different persona. he'd left the house as park jimin, with a mini suitcase, telling jeongguk not to wait up for him since it would be likely for him to come home at an odd hour.

jeongguk opened his mouth to protest, but nodded sullenly when jimin reinforced that he would be safe, just visiting a friend's house with a suitcase. what's more, he's been practicing prancing around the house in heels these days, holding jeongguk's hand to balance and when he questions the sudden interest in four inch heels in concern, jimin dismisses it as ‘wanting to grow taller’. if jimin thinks he wouldn't suspect anything, boy was he wrong.

jeongguk stands in the vicinity of the clubbing district in itaewon- it would be a breach of trust when he promised jimin not to follow him in to the club. nobody said anything about loitering nearby to pick him up when he was done. holding a lit cigarette to blend in better by the streets, he tries his best not to choke on the smoke while keeping a vigilant eye out for jimin, who should be easy to spot, considering that when jimin shows up, the aura or atmosphere of a place will start gravitating towards him.

damn, it’s already 1:47am, did i really miss jimin when he came out? i’m pretty sure i didn’t... he hesitates, but in order to satisfy his gut feel, he instinctively goes down to the bar, getting shoved around by drunkards and men crowding for the main stage- he mumbles a sorry, and a friendly bargoer gives a big grin, a hearty slap on the back. “you here for her too? she's so fucking amazing.”

“huh? sorry?”

“look- she's performing again now, watch!”

the lights go dim as the emcee reveals the bar’s special guest for tonight to be the lauded sae sori, receiving deafening cheers for her to start her item. the name reminds him of jimin, in some way, because he once called jimin a baby chick before when he wore a yellow sweater and chased him around the house doing aegyo.

Light skin, dark skin, my asian persuasion
I got them all, that's why these girls out here hatin'
'Cause I'm sexy

jimin does into full fantasy mode-  a little slutdrop, an erotic half-lidded gaze that sends the audience into euphoria, smirking as he grabs the bills people are generously holding out to tip him. he’s changed into a kimono wrap thong bodysuit, with a beautiful plunging open back and gorgeous draped chiffon sleeves. he did a cabaret number a while ago with blonde marcel waves styled with alligator hairclips, little top hat and cane, body padded in a sexy leather and latex bodice.

Do you like my style?
Yeah, that sexy, sexy, sexy
Like how I get down
Yeah, that sexy, sexy, sexy

and god was he born for the stage- mesmerizing and breathtaking, there’s no doubt that that performer is jimin. the way he vogues, moves his arms and gazes into the crowd and points with that identical, beguiling smile as the music blasts in the background, copious camera flash pointed at him to record his finesse. sae meant bird in korean, and sori translated into noise or sound. jimin thought it would be cute to have a persona with a witty pun in it, not to mention jeongguk had formerly called him a baby chick once when he was making cute sounds like bbuuuu~ bbaa! bbuuu~ bu! to disturb him. jimin says he cannot act cute, but his aegyo just flows out so naturally.

You can work me out
Yeah, that sexy, sexy, sexy
Let me show you how
Yeah, that sexy, sexy, sexy

with every twist of his hips, strut in his heels, jimin drives the audience delirious, with his jaw dropping dips and slow motion splits. he’s sensual, sensuous; jeongguk never knew how powerful jimin could be in this area- however, he should have guessed as much when jimin barred him from leaving the room by standing at the door, lifting one kittenish leg to diagonally obstruct jeongguk from exiting. he really can do the fucking splits.

So here's my demonstration - a peep show

on cue, jimin reveals a tear-away, bottom half of the skirt ripped to show a perfect tuck beneath a skin tight bodysuit, a clearer detailing on the gold swirls on the corset. his every move is so immaculate, so enrapturing.

Tonight my body's an exhibition, baby
Though it's on display don't be scared to
Touch it, it's hands on
So come and get it, babe

as he lipsyncs to the last line, he crawls towards jeongguk with sultry eyes, cradling his jaw close enough to whisper into his ear. the people in the bar just think jeongguk's a lucky victim- but they should've known better.

“it's dangerous here, jeongguk- give me twenty minutes, i'll be upstairs soon.” when jeongguk makes any sign to protest, a small whine, jimin looks at him sternly, mouthing be a good boy, and hoping the half drunk and partying audience won't clock it.


a foreigner that's clearly wasted is coming at him, trying to touch his ass for the pathetic 1,000 won tip- not even enough to buy a glass of water. “wha- wass ‘ur name, sweets?” the man slurs, breath reeking of cheap soju, probably smuggled in from the convenience store across the road.

“sae sori,” jimin mumbles, not wanting to cause a scene in his friend’s club, but he also feels the hint of a smile creeping up the corners of his lips. oh boy was this foreigner in for a ride. “say sorry?! ye askin’ me to say sorry?! whatcha think you are, huh? nuthin’ but a tranny on homo hill-”

“you should've.”

it takes seconds for jimin to kick him down with his heels, avoiding the crowd’s eyes since they're both on the ground. jimin's got his thighs around said man’s neck- and yes, they're thick enough to crush someone. it's been tried and tested, and also concluded that's it's an utmost honour to be choked by them. i had one name to pick and clearly i chose the best one.

“won't you call my name, sweets?” jimin croons in mimicry, scoffing as he sees the man’s veins popping, eyes bulging. it's especially funny since there's a whole sea of clubbers that could've helped, but they're hidden in the most obvious of places. a joke, really. also, the acrylic nails are indeed coming to good use- god does he love the look in his homophobic victims when they're just a heel away from death. sickening.

“o-ovuh’ my dead body-” the man chokes, struggling to gasp for air, and jimin shoots him a sympathetic nod.

“as you wish, sweets.


he grows anxious, 25 minutes having trickled by, and when he finally sees jimin come out with teary eyes and limping, he immediately goes forth to pick him up. the poor thing, his pink wig’s been traumatised as well, sticking out at odds and ends. jimin opens his mouth, jeongguk fully expecting him to chastise him for misbehaving and tailing him to itaewon, but instead all that comes out is a tiny relieved sob as jimin holds him close, pulls him into a hug.

“i thought i told you not to come here…”

initially, he puts a hand over jeongguk's shoulder for leverage to balance, since they're now at similar heights, but jeongguk later decides it's swifter and more efficient to just carry jimin bridal style, making sure he slinks off the heels. jimin’s unwilling to part with them, since they’re pretty and he paid good money for them, resulting in an agreement for jimin to either dispose them or keep it in his cabinet but promise never to wear them again.

it's his last time working at the club tonight. originally named le queen, it had now renamed itself to HOMPA. he'd promised jokwon, a hardworking and talented friend of his that got him the initial gig, that he'd drop by to help again since he managed to dupe one of the customers into spilling some truths (or should he say tea?) while not exactly sober. jokwon worked till 2am every day- sometimes only started work at 2am on the weekends, and was a very nice guy. jimin couldn't help but come back one final time to help him out .

he shares some udon with jimin in a small 24/7 japanese noodle shack, making sure the smaller male eats up, mentally noting to carry him back to the car to take him home. the pink wig actually suits jimin, as jeongguk casually observes the very pretty, mildly smudged makeup as jimin holds the cup of hot ocha in his two hands, barely going round the whole cup. his young master looks like the wig is going to eat him up, with his slender form and already very chiseled jawline. it makes jimin seem even smaller and more vulnerable than usual. or at least, until you saw his thighs.

“jeonggukie? i'm- i'm scared. i almost, just now- i almost killed a man,”

under dingy conditions, in the wee hours of the morning, in such a promiscuous part of town- filled with lechers and illegal immigrants, in tandem with jimin’s jarring confession- jeongguk wonders how he has the audacity to still think jimin is such a beautiful, delicate creature; even under the harsh lighting and shady environment, he knew, in that moment, that he should never have let the thought of quitting on the second day of his first week at the mansion come to mind.

“jimin ssi…” it's terribly ironic how he doesn't bat an eyelash when shooting somebody that stands in his way of getting certain jobs done, and yet here he is, quietly slurping udon with jeongguk in a random at 4 o'clock in the morning, feeling guilty for almost crushing someone who tried to touch him in a bar, relieved to be in someone else's presence. almost daybreak, 4am on homo hill in itaewon, seeking solace and trying his best to be candid and pour his heartfelt thoughts to his bodyguard, while still dressed in a provocative outfit, thinking about what to do with his heels, how to take off his nails. jeongguk shrugging off his own black coat to layer over his thin crepe chiffon was so manly and chivalrous.

“you did what you had to do, right?”

jimin nods in silence, pushing the bowl of noodles for jeongguk to finish. he must be sleepy, waiting up for jimin for so long. jimin makes an inward reminder to give him the next day off. it's the least he can do.

“then that's okay! i'll finish this and then we can go home, just gimme a moment-”

jeongguk takes less than 10 seconds to slurp up the remnants of jimin’s udon.


in the car, jimin feels funny- it’s a weird, ambivalent feeling.

he's always been independent, and even if he got hurt or injured, he would take care of it himself. he refuses help as soon as he gets home, brushing aside jeongguk’s warm hands. the blisters on his feet hurt, there are some cuts from the corset and ouch, why the wig bond glue is so damn strong today? locking himself in the bathroom, he yells he's okay in response to jeongguk’s distressed knocks, but ultimately, jeongguk gets ushered in by a sulky jimin who’s having issues with removing his ensemble.

jeongguk ends up washing his hair for him as jimin soaks in his bubble bath, muscles sore and eyes closing. they're both night owls together, jeongguk making jimin laugh by shampooing his hair into various hairstyles. he personally thinks the apple hair is the cutest. maybe instead of bodyguard and young master, they could be all-nighter friends, just for tonight. jeongguk is good with his hands, as they roam across every inch of skin, kneading and loosening up every knot and ounce of tension in jimin’s body. a relaxed sigh makes jeongguk anxious to bring up something he’s wanted to ask for a while.

“jimin ssi? can i ask you something?” jimin’s nod prods him to continue. “lately i’ve been holding your waist but you kind of… wave it aside or shrug it off?” he sincerely wonders if it bothers jimin, because sometimes temptation gets the better of him, hand resorting to jimin's hips or his glorious ass. he couldn't help himself, and jimin almost coos at his apologetic expression, a soapy hand tickling his chin.

“it's my fault for not thinking how you might've felt, so... i'm sorry jeongguk- i'll make it up to you.”

“you could make it up to me by telling me what i should do, or uh. like, where i should hold you just for safety precautions-”

“hand- i, i wanted you to hold my hand-” he's covering his face with bubble foam as he slowly confesses, and jeongguk starts feeling his face grow warm. jimin’s gone as pink as the cotton-candy scented water too.

“so, young master, do you also want me to say ‘let’s go, baby’ when i hold your hand?”

jimin splashes a whole ton of water at him.


it’s a fancy place jimin’s taken him to today, some michelin star worthy french restaurant called palais de gaumont in cheongdam-dong. jimin says it would be nice to have dinner somewhere exquisite, since jeongguk’s getting the day off. even though the menu has some english and korean, it’s still difficult to order, since the french have their own unique way of pronouncing, accents aside. jimin’s chosen pôchouse and crêpes suzette for dinner.

“excuse me, i’ll um have a-” jeongguk squints at the menu, getting anxious because he certainly does not want to embarrass jimin in such an au courant place. yes, that means sophisticated and modern in sophisticated and modern syntax. “coq au vin?” he bites the inside of his cheek once his words trail off, certain he’s said it wrong. the snobby waiter, of course, like every conceited person working in a posh place, just has to sneer at him.

“dear boy, coq au vin is pronounced like kouk-ou-vah , not cock-oven,

jimin doesn’t waste any time in walking across to grab jeongguk’s wrist. “jeongguk, we’re leaving.”

“what is the meaning of this?” the waiter cries in outrage, in his irritating faux accent, “are you trying to walk out after ordering? because i-”

“because you made jeongguk uncomfortable and you laughed at his pronunciation, yes, we are leaving.” jeongguk can tell jimin’s fuming on the inside, but he’s still trying to keep his cool, nudging his arm so they can leave. “let’s go, okay?”

“preposterous! how can-”

jimin can’t be bothered to let the waiter continue. it’s nothing but a waste of time. “as someone of the service industry, the golden rule is ‘the customer is always right’, is it not? and technically speaking, we haven’t sent in our orders to the chef, so it is still valid to leave.” a sigh escapes as he shakes his head, muttering under his breath. such a useless batard, a tasteless ratatouille-

“excuse me, monsieur, but did you just call me a bastard? ” the waiter points at himself, dumbfounded, and jimin is rendered speechless- by the man’s stupidity. to think he’d have so much fun in picking on jeongguk, but not know how to differentiate the shorter equivalent of a baguette, a french bread, for god’s sake.

“assume whatever you will, mister. you’ll hear from my manager tomorrow. i hope your resume’s impressive, i've heard the employment rate is low these days~”

the moment they step foot out of the restaurant and onto the pavements, jimin immediately tiptoes to cup jeongguk’s cheeks. “you okay, bun?”

the only response is a grave nod. jeongguk doesn’t feel much regarding his inadequacies in intonation, but rather, he feels ashamed for contributing to the ruining of jimin's reputation, if any. the tears are quick to prick at his eyes, but he refuses to let jimin know, and they walk in solitude.

“i think it would be nice to walk home… what do you thi-” jimin halts when he sees jeongguk's tearful face, shiny lips. “sweetheart, are you really okay?”

jeongguk shakes his head. “i feel guilty for ruining your image,” he says quietly, and jimin's eyes melt into complete worry and concern. “jeongguk, who said that?”

“nobody in particular, but i feel-”

“then you're feeling wrong.” jimin says softly, looking into his sheepish eyes, “i'm never ashamed because of you, and never will be; i may be shameless at times, yes, sometimes because of you; but i've never been ashamed because of you.”

“jimin ssi…”

“don't ‘jimin ssi’ me, jeongguk. you've always done me proud- facts are facts. you do me well, too.” jimin adds with a cheeky grin, just to make him smile. and smile he does, just a little. “we’re in public, t-that's inappropriate!”

seeing jeongguk flustered is a good first step, jimin deems, and they aimlessly walk, following the path of the metro.

“do you… do you want a hug?” jimin says after a moment, as they cross a junction, and jeongguk can see the blush creeping up his cheeks; jimin looks so beautiful when he's shy, rosy cheeks the epitome of the fair maiden people of the victorian era desired to wed. jeongguk's a millennial, and he’s not going to take any chances.

jeongguk bends down, just a little, to fully engulf jimin, hold him close into his embrace. jimin's only slightly shorter, but his physique makes him look slender and petite, while jeongguk looks far too broad to match his thin waist. in any sense, it makes jimin look like a baby in jeongguk's arms;

“do you feel better now?” jimin mumbles into his chest, and now jeongguk's embarrassed because he's been shamelessly hugging jimin in the middle of the street. when jimin gets released from his hold, shyly, jeongguk can see how red he's turned, biting his plump lips as he looks at jeongguk apprehensively.

wetting his lips once more, jimin holds up a fist, as if to say fighting! but the next three syllables that leave his lips are a little more special. “let's get it, jeonggukie…” he looks so bashful saying it, lips puckering together, making jeongguk's heart race, a sudden flood of warmth in his heart. he makes my heart go boom boom… it's the little tagline he's been saying to himself as he bustles around the house accomplishing various tasks- how on earth did jimin find out about that?

“did i get it wrong?” jimin tilts his head, pouting, “jeonggukie… your ears are red,” oh god, he's holding jeongguk's hands in his. “i really mean it, though. i think you're doing very well and you take good care of me, so i want make sure to take care of you too.”

why do i like you so much?

the sincerity in his eyes and the heat of his hands convey directly to his heart, and jeongguk now thinks the reasons why he will ever shed another tear will only be those pertaining to jimin. he's going to cry figuratively if jimin laughs cutely, literally when jimin gets hurt, and his heart thumps in baby cries when jimin gets shy.

jimin holds his wrist as they walk, for as long as jeongguk can remember.


“i think for dinner i'll cook today, jeonggukie! no worries!”

jimin's excited at the thought of having a ‘home cooked’ meal, but when he realises all they have is cup noodles left in the cupboards, he makes do with it. he asks jeongguk to place an order for steak from VIPS, leaving the only thing for him to do being opening condiment and sauce packets, and boil hot water for the ramen cooker machine. jimin seems so pleased with his ‘cooking’ that jeongguk keeps mum about it, heart beating rapidly but steadily, loud enough for him to pray jimin won’t hear.

they’re slurping on instant ramen when the delivery arrives, and one of the housemaids serve it on a platter. the ferocious growl in jeongguk’s stomach signals him to cut his steak quicker- but an unforeseen circumstance stops him from digging in.

jimin keeps stealing the slices of beef with this stupid, adorable, triumphant grin and plump cheeks as he stuffs his cheeks with food. does he really think he can get away with this, stealing jeongguk’s steak in an orange sweater and blue snapback, holding his fork and knife like victory flags?

either way, he does.

jeongguk can't help but melt to slush at how captivating jimin looks, even while stealing his food, purposely looking up to see if he gets angry- but all he does is sigh, sweetly resigned to cutting up jimin's steak for him as well. what jeongguk doesn’t get is why jimin absolutely refuses to eat from his own plate, and remains adamant in helping himself to jeongguk’s food, when his own share sits rights tantalizingly in front of him. jeongguk's toggling between endeared and exasperated.

“jimin ssi, you ate all my steak,” he says, deadpan, and jimin only blinks up at him- with that same stupid goofy smile on his cute face and pink cheeks. it isn't the bell that saves him, but three knocks on the door.

“young master, your delivery-”

“ah, yes. put it in the fridge please? thank you noona!” his smile only gets broader. a smile jeongguk is defenceless against.

“well, if you're hungry, jungoo, you can just say you wanna eat my share- here, say ahh~” and jimin pokes a huge piece of beef and feeds it to jeongguk, having the time of his life while jeongguk dumbly stares into jimin's eyes and eats as instructed. after the meal jimin has worked hard to prepare gets wolfed down, the chef of the day tells him to stay put, since he's going to ‘something nice’ for dessert to share.

jimin comes back with strawberry cheesecake balanced in his hands, looking so proud of himself when he notices jeongguk's eyes light up and mouth agape. you noticed…

jimin sets down two sharing plates and hands him the knife. “i saw you staring when we walked by a twosome place, so i hope this is the one you were staring at,” he mumbles, vividly remembering jeongguk gaping at the cake display when they walked past the premium cafe earlier.

“you didn't have to, sir,” jeongguk bows, before helping himself to a big slice, making little exclamations on how yummy the cake is.

“you know, jeonggukie,” jimin says, hand propping his chin up as he watches jeongguk eat, “i've wanted to buy you a cake for a long time, but i never knew which flavour to get…”

he hopes jeongguk can't hear how fast his heart is beating, as if running a marathon. his heart is already full from watching jeongguk eat cake so happily.

“i'm suddenly really full, jeongguk. i guess there's no choice, you have to eat the whole cake then.”

ardent protests from jeongguk makes jimin eat the strawberries on top of it, since the younger’s busy arguing about how unfair it would be, his mouth filled with strawberries and cream. it makes jimin giggle at his passionate debate, wipe away the remnants on his lips.

in the end, he manages to feed jimin one whole slice, bit by bit while jimin sits in his lap, munching while using his phone and taking occasional glances at jeongguk digging in.

he's so full from so much happiness and warmth.

 

and maybe a little love. just a little.


“this one? how does this one look?”

“wonderful, young master- i wish i could pull it off, too.”

“go ahead, then. who’s stopping you?”

“what- pardon?

“what? i was just blabbering to myself- but really, gukkie, i'm bored, entertain me~” jimin whines, tugging on his arm as he twirls around in his walk-in wardrobe, deciding which pair of insoled loafers will best match one of his resplendent outfits, which rings in his glass cases will complement. as he gets dizzy from spinning around with multiple garments, putting them against his body to be examined in the plentiful mirrors all around, he almost trips on the pairs of shoes he'd tossed aside, considered imperfections that didn't come close to completing his whole look.

a surprised jeongguk quickly crouches to help him up, and when he sees the stars in jimin's eyes, a reflection of the miniature chandelier on the ceiling, he can't help but blurt the stupidest thought that enters his blank mind.

“jimin ssi, did it hurt when you fell from heaven?”

once jimin processes the words, his eyes and cheeks bunch up, revealing his little crooked front teeth that jeongguk subtly has a soft spot for, before his lips curl into a devilish grin. “are you calling me satan, jeongguk-ah? he too was a fallen angel, you know.”

jimin finds it cute, the way jeongguk slowly morphs into full panic mode, while jimin's still in his hold, protected, secure. in the middle of his closet, as big as two rooms combined. he seems tongue tied, seemingly can't find the words, allowing jimin to have the final say. “but i do understand, jimin has 5 letters, and so does satan and devil , don't you think?”

“j-jimin ssi! i didn't… i didn't mean it that way- i hope you know that-” jeongguk's getting more flustered by the minute, worried for his ricebowl and livelihood, and jimin almost feels bad for bullying him. almost.

“but you know who is satan’s absolute favourite?”

jeongguk starts nibbling on his lower lip, shaking his head to indicate a no.

“his name starts with j,” jimin drawls, face inching closer to jeongguk's, “and ends with ungoo,” it's difficult to maintain a poker face while working on a very serious job, especially when the young master you serve happens to be very, very attractive, in all possible ways fathomable. for instance, physically, mentally, technically; and also in bed, or perhaps in his closet, on a daily basis and on the floor.

“my little jungoo,” jimin coos sweetly, stroking his cheek, “my kookoo, my baby bun.” it shouldn't make jeongguk feel some type of way, but it does. like a charm, an alluring call. jeongguk feels like if jimin ever asked him to do foolish and murderous things with that hypnotic voice, he might- like another caricature of himself named killer JK or something like that- but it isn't right. he's jimin's bodyguard and personal assistant if required; not a candidate for his hand or a competitor to climb the ranks of the park empire. he's an employee, not a suitor.

“j-jimin ssi,” jeongguk steadies, exhaling deeply through his nose as he helps the latter up, “it's getting late, i think it's best you decide what to wear as promptly as possible, or you might be late.”

something in jimin's gaze changes- he proceeds to dust himself off, a sole silent nod before turning away, examining his heaps of clothes, instead of conversing with his bodyguard. jeongguk cannot quite place a finger on what was that glimmer.


yoongi’s dressed predominantly in black, a short turtleneck with layered necklaces on, a smart blazer, and a red addition with ornate gold threading on one shoulder, draped diagonally to fasten at his chest. the oyster perpetual datejust 36 rolex from namjoon on his wrist. namjoon’s similarly decked in a black and red ensemble, red detailing found at the back of his nape, trickling into the lapels of the blazer, red silk tied at his waist like a hybrid of a corset and belt. it’s seoul fashion week, of course they have to dress to impress.

jimin and jeongguk, on the other hand, go for a slightly less conventional styling. jimin’s wearing a lanvin tuxedo blazer with a chanel brooch on the side, shirt inside a v-cut to show a plunging neckline. jeongguk, should, traditionally, stay more inconspicuous, so he wears a v cut muscle tee with a matching blazer over it.

“jimin, we're having dinner there, why are you dressed up as a snack?” namjoon jokes in the limousine, but jimin just makes a genuine prediction about how namjoon and yoongi are his pick for best dressed of the night, making his brother shy. yoongi just smiles at namjoon hiding his face in his hands.

jimin wants to take a nap, but a promise to one of his old acquaintances now working for valentino grants him a special invite and free pass to the elusive seoul fashion week. he knows it’s never a good sign when he bumps his head on the car door while trying to get out, fighting the scowl on his face when he sees the camera flash going off at the red carpet event. the only good part being the ability to tease jeongguk in public.

“jimin ssi! are you okay? how's your head?”

“haven't had any complaints from you yet.”

“huh, but i’ve never commented on your-”

it takes him a little longer to fully digest the double entendre, and jeongguk gets undeniably bashful after that- which is a good thing. he’ll keep his profile low so none of the catty models here can have a piece of him. also, he knew hitting his head was an omen. the first person he sees as he enters the dongdaemun design plaza is one of the past faces of gucci. he'd idly commented his then second-in-charge taehyung would look better wearing the designer brand, since jimin often lavishly dressed taehyung in gucci apparel.

kim jennie gives him a charismatic, albeit synthetic smile, her eyes dangerous slits on contrast to the oh-so-sweet smile on her face.

“new boy again, mr park?” the roll of her eyes makes jimin want to cringe, but he maintains composure.

“still into cunning linguists, are you, jennie?” he nudges a chin towards her ‘best friend’, as the media outlets dub, towards a dainty girl in the background named jisoo. he knows he's won when jennie grits her teeth and excuses herself.

he still sticks to his previous decision of not wanting to come, pouting to jeongguk, who tries his best to coax him into staying, at least til the runway and after party is over- to think they're only at the cocktail reception. with a sigh, jimin chomps on the little desserts and sweets that jeongguk feeds him from the mini buffet bar, hands him juice instead of alcohol. but, the champagne- jimin internally wails, but jeongguk tells him to be a good boy, so he finishes his glass of apple juice.

just as his spirits are lifted, jimin bumps into a familiar face. he'd recognise that egghead anywhere. “jeonggukie, i wanna go home…” he wails, but jeongguk just shushes him, holding his waist so he feels more at ease in the general air of malaise.

oh, hello there, mr wen. jimin remembers this guy from one of his previous trysts, a one night stand from some socialite event year back. oh, and yes, they only find harmony in their dissonance. since jimin's forced to stay, his peripheral vision telling him his brother and company are having a good time, he'll be crashing the party in the meantime, by sorting out who he wants to see- in a reversed manner. for now, he'll have one less female eyesore, and mr wen is up next. he braces himself for the insults.

jeongguk will protect him, won't he?

“you gay faggot, going round sleeping with different people, both men and women, just because you're what? rich? have a silver spoon?” the man spits in arrogant contempt, when jimin sashays over to give an exuberant hello. “i loathe all you fuckboys, as if you were that spectacular-”

“actually, i am,” jimin replies, coolly batting his eyelashes, feeling jeongguk tighten his hold and pulling him closer. “but you're right- sometimes i'm the only good thing so i have no choice but to scream my own name during sex… maybe you should ask your wife about it, i'm sure she knows what i'm talking about,” the sweet smile on jimin's face could easily con onlookers into thinking the fuming man across him was throwing a fit at him for no reason. his face is so red, jimin muses, did i go too far? he looks like a boiled egg, ready to crack.

it's never too far if someone insults jimin for no rhyme or reason. his saccharine smile and cloyingly sweet voice only forcing the man across to blow his top. “why, you fucking rascal-

“also, on top of that, she has plenty of experience with other men- all potent, by the way- oh! and maybe you could also consult your ward about this matter, junhui is absolutely adorable, especially when he's writhing under my sheets,”

the man clenches his teeth so hard, jimin thinks his dentures might break, or fall out. if that's the case, he'll kindly sponsor another. it's so sad that junhui has such a terrible guardian here in korea. his biological parents back in china were really nice. oh well, at least this egghead was loaded, so good for him. by the way, jeongguk likes his eggs scrambled. boiled eggs are only allowed if jimin's the one serving him.

“the nerve -!”

“have a nice day, ahjussi!” jimin cheers, cheeks bunching up as he waves, and jeongguk pulls him to a corner, slightly alarmed. “jimin ssi…” jeongguk whines when the old man storms out of the building, fuming, “you didn't really, um, do that, right?” jimin takes back his comment about junhui. “like, with, that guy?” jeongguk making vague hand motions to signify sex while having the most confused face has to be the most adorable thing. in addition, he's babbling words of worry for jimin's feelings and ego. jimin may have a high libido at times, but jeongguk knows he takes precautions and stays protected always; any implications of ‘multiple partners’ should not make his heart this unsettled, let alone leave a sour taste in his mouth. jimin is intelligent, he knows and is in control of what he’s doing- jeongguk is but a mere devoted manservant.

“nah. just did it to piss the old asshat off. his wife always has that nasty look in her eyes, and also she was checking you out, which i do not appreciate one bit. so, the bitch deserved it. what? it's true, jeonggukie, she really has an affair with mr yang! don't worry, i'm not afraid… ” jimin seems pleased with the turn of events, dusting off the icing sugar on his hands after eating a mini cupcake.

“hm, that aside, the ward’s really cute though.” the dreamy look that jimin puts up when he speaks of junhui makes some part of jeongguk's gut churn. mainly, because jimin's saying it to his face as he feeds him a vanilla macaron. no, it can't be annoyance… he hardly even knows the guy. paparazzi all paint a nice picture of him, saying he's a very sweet guy, looks like one too. the macaron tastes bitter in jeongguk's mouth, chewed up and swallowed in seconds.

oh of course- it must be hunger, right?


it's yet another invitation to a party, this time, a coming of age party for a friend's brother, lai guanlin. sungwoon had invited jimin and namjoon to attend the elaborate ceremony, a whole bunch of other chaebols and elites too.

representatives of the park empire are dressed in tommy hilfiger, stella mccartney, prada. jimin chats with faces he can't remember, drinks more glasses of alcohol than he can count. he remembers the lingering stare of three people. the big blue rings on their hands indicated they either were a kim, or were working under kim corporations.


“t-tattoo,” jeongguk blurts, trying his best to come up with a pseudonym in english as he gazes at the magnificent dragon on his right arm. jimin snorts, making a face. a cute attempt, but terribly corny. he’s going with christian, since he loves those opulent red soled shoes.

“you look like an ian .”

this time, it’s a more serious assignment- they’re flying to thailand. it’s a five-star lush resort their target is staying in, so they’re follow suit. a heated debate over whose surname they should take resulted in the usage of a random generator- which was how mr and mr yu came about.


the receptionist is pretty, that jimin won’t lie about. but, it is unacceptable for her to be blatantly flirting with his ian, when they’re checking in their goddamn suitcases and waiting for her to enter their information and obtain their keycards.

“first time here, mr yu?” she has some pretty, bright eyes like jeonggukie, jimin concedes begrudgingly. “would you like to be shown around-” perhaps it’s just miss lalisa manoban being true to her infectious, friendly nature, but jimin’s having none of that today.

“oh, miss lalisa, don’t tease him… my baby gets shy easily.” jeongguk’s thankful eyes dart towards jimin, who’s stroking his bicep, head resting on his shoulder. lalisa immediately gets flustered and exclaims her apologies, rapidly scanning through the reservation and forged passports. she even was nice enough to arrange their room made with towel swans and rose petals on the bed, along with a complimentary bottle of red wine and chocolates, sent as a congratulatory gift to commemorate their stay and honeymoon.

they have to wait a day before kim jongin, the overseeing son of an upcoming casino in korea, would arrive and check in two rooms apart. meanwhile, jimin and jeongguk have to establish a solid alibi of the easiest and hardest thing- the unsolicited act of being a honeymooning couple. they spend the day in the pool with a unicorn float, jimin cutely paddling in the water while jeongguk takes videos. jeongguk also finds out that jimin is afraid of butterflies, since the elder yelled and hugged him tight, asking him to chase away the butterfly. it seems that the mean kids at boarding school had put butterflies in his pants, resulting in aforementioned phobia.

it takes an utmost precision one day later, for kim jongin to bump into jimin by ‘sheer coincidence’. true to the star he is, jimin falls back while exclaiming, grabbing onto jongin’s shoulders, causing them to have a moment of eye contact as he faux modestly blushes. the hand trailing up jongin’s back and making him flush, while the other hand fishing for the latter’s wallet. with a squeak, jimin pulls away in modesty; he merely apologises and bows when jongin asks if he's alright. jeongguk emerges when the coast is clear, dressed casually to accompany him as he mingles with the other related guests, the wallet landing onto the carpeted floor with a lackadaisical toss for staff to pick up. that is, after its been laser scanned once to pick up as a hologram.

jimin’s decked in a two piece, and in the inner pocket of his grey vest lies a bulge, a decoy. he makes sure he makes his presence felt at the bar that night, tipping the bartenders and making small talk with some of the other guests, chatting up some of the ladies here for a bachelorette party. jeongguk is assigned to monitor the situation, dressed smart enough to disguise himself as a staff if need be. he's on standby via headpiece, jimin's voice transmitted to him as clear as day.

“you! you dirty little thief!” he hears jongin, the antagonist here to save the accused damsel in distress, idly sipping his red wine. he’s been waiting for so, so long. from a bird's eye view in the corner, jeongguk sees jimin's lips curl into a smirk as he sets his glass down.

 

lights, camera, action, in 3, 2, 1.

 

“you!” jongin shouts, harshly grabbing jimin by the shoulder, causing him to wince for the show, moan a little for dramatic effect.

“s-sir! i don't understand, you're hurting me-”

“where is my wallet?! you stole it, i'm sure! there were important things inside!”

considering the number of credit cards and liquid cash, along with some specific business cards and judging by handwriting, females’ numbers on napkin and paper, sure.

“mister, please let me go! i did no such thing!” jimin wails, and as expected, all eyes are on them. jongin exhales loudly, not wanting to attract so much attention. “look here. i promise not to call the cops if you just return me my wallet, okay? you're the only person i've had contact with all day, and i am a billion times sure i did not replace it in my room-”

“i said i didn't take it!” jimin exclaims, pulling a mortified expression, “if you don't believe me, then go ahead! search me!” the hands that were tucked between his thighs were now thrown apart like at an immigration checkpoint, eyes squeezed shut. jongin pinches the bridge of his nose. he needs to call one of the investors by tonight. he's desperate.

“fine. you offered.” exasperated, jongin pats jimin down and jeongguk grimaces in the corner, even though the former was respectful in his actions. when he comes to the double breasted pockets, his hands stop there.

bingo.

“it's here, you fool. you really thought i wouldn't dare to touch you?”

checkmate.

“are you asking me to strip?” jimin deadpans, lips wobbly as if innocent and wronged. “you wanna see what's this? i'll show you-” out comes a pretty cigarette box that he slams on the bar top counter, a stream of crocodile tears rolling down his cheeks. how humiliating. in the blurry corner of his eye, he sees a waiter dashing over, wallet finally making it's grand entrance on a silver serving platter.

“pardon me, sir!” the waiter huffs, panting, “could this be your wallet? one of the staff found it by one of the hallways, but you were not in your room when we tried to return it multiple times today.”

jongin looks at the waiter, grabs the all too familiar wallet to check and shablam, there everything is, right in place. nothing more and nothing less. the attendant is thanked and dismissed, and jimin immediately starts to softly sob, as if humiliated, looking away at jongin’s shocked expression, a slew of curses and apologies rolling off the tip of his tongue. how pathetic. one moment you were having fun touching me and now you wanna play victim, jongin ssi?

“fuck- i'm, i'm so sorry-” he pauses, waiting for jimin to tell him how to address him. “christian,” jimin hiccups, wiping away the tears. as his little satire plays, he's already sent back the credit card numbers and details of the wallet through the laser scanner. hopefully the numbers could lead them to the top dogs to steal jongin’s deal before it seals.

“english names? my utmost apologies, my name is kai.”

“pretty name,” jimin comments, hopping back onto the bar stool, looking up at jongin's towering height with wet, glistening eyes. “i'm really so fucking sorry about-”

“it's okay,” jimin mumbles, “used to it.”

on the sidelines, jeongguk wonders if jimin had made it to the acting industry, would he have won an oscar or emmy by now? jongin seems to be buying it, falling into jimin's complex little death trap, as all men usually do. “hey, don't say that,” jeongguk almost gags when the male inches closer, pulling a neighbouring stool to sit closer. what the fuck, jongin. “can i do something to make up for my misdeeds? say, buy you a drink? any drink?”

jimin immediately brightens up at the mention of free drinks, the cheap thrills of his jobs, and motions the bartender to take his order. jongin laughs nervously when he hears the amount of alcohol jimin swiftly checks into his tab, alarmed, and jimin detects it immediately. “don't worry, kai hyung, i've got you to get drunk with me so i forget~!”

jeongguk finds himself looking away, down onto the glittering seascape under the moonlight, questioning if it was real happiness, true bliss, when they aimlessly floated in the pool together on the unicorn. he ate little, but the growling in his stomach, the twisting in his gut is definitely not gastric pains or hunger pangs. one of the main reasons why he's dressed incognito is just in case the worst happens: jimin gets drunk and starts running his mouth. it happens rarely, on occasion, but the park empire takes no chances.

time passes, as jeongguk reads the magazines and newspapers with no information processed, too focused in listening to jimin's every word, playing games on his phone to drown out the incessant flirting directly transmitted to his ear. it's all part of the plan, jeongguk. get a fucking grip.

“so, jonginnie hyuuuung,” jimin says, hands holding his face, flushed from drinking, “i’m drunk, and you need to keep me companyyy-”

it's easy pretending to be tipsy, jimin thinks, all you have to do is watch your alcohol tolerance, act cute and giggle lots, lean your weight on the other person, reel them in...

“why, you wanna, wanna spend the night with me?” jongin drunkenly slurs, smiling, as he salutes another shot to jimin before downing it, to which jimin claps his hands and laughs. yes, the more drunk you get, the faster i can start tracing your calls and digging around your luggage- i never get drunk in front of people, dummy.

his train of thought halts there as he signals for more alcohol, jongin on the verge of passing out, but jimin thinks he would have to at least bring him back to the hotel bed before he decides he did a decent job on this endeavour. but jeongguk..? how come it seems okay if i get drunk in front of jeonggukie? i think... he will take care of me, right? i don't think he's like other men, but-

damn it, change of plans, he'll take jongin back to bed to see if he can reel in any inside information before the latter completely collapses. jeongguk tails behind gravely when jimin calls for an assistant to help him bring jongin back to the room. a text that vibrates in his pocket from HQ confirms that kim jongin does have ties with gang leader kim junmyeon in incheon, and that there is another powerful kingpin seeking refuge in china, by the name of zhang yixing.

jimin also has fun throwing jongin's stuff around, setting up wine glasses for two with his and transfer on another set of thumbprints they'd brought in advance, to make it seem like a natural setting, if the police were nosy and came to meddle. he takes his time, idly sauntering around, taking some funny pictures of jongin, taking a bath at a leisurely pace. 

he tries his best not to think of what jeongguk's doing two doors away.


they're two rooms apart, but jeongguk can't bring himself to sleep a wink. he knows it's all part of the elaborate grand scheme of things, but something about jimin shamelessly flirting and being so fucking cute and pretty about it makes his blood boil, his skin burn. his heart somehow aches, for no valid reason. maybe he's attached because he has to personally escort and usher jimin everywhere, as his right hand man, assist where needed, learn how to play by ear (no pun intended), how to be tactful and stealthy.

it's unhealthy, how he's thinking of getting drunk if it should make him feel better, but he has to be on guard so that if anything happens, he'll be there for jimin. the young master had personally instructed him to go to bed immediately once jimin successfully infiltrates jongin's room, but jeongguk refuses to let his guard down. he needs to be on standby to protect jimin if that stupid guy gets drunk and ballsy and tries to lay his hands on jimin. hell no, not on his watch.

 

the seconds tick by miserably slow.


jimin swipes back into their room at exactly 4:30am, jeongguk already dressed up with his center-parted hair, round glasses, luggages all tidied up, and jimin throws off his wig, changes from the hotel’s bathrobe to his own sweater, snapback and sunglasses. something retches in jeongguk's throat. bathrobe? really? what was going on in there last night? the operation is not a success until they check out and throw the fake passports away, escaping as a completely different person, which of course calls for him to make haste and quit daydreaming.

“jeongguk! we gotta go, stop spacing out like that!” jimin whispers loudly, assembling their belongings, and grabbing jeongguk's hand, interlocking their fingers to grab him and go. wait, interlocking their fingers? this wasn't in the plan at all. jeongguk was just instructed to be ready for takeoff by daybreak, not hold his hand so… intimately.

was it because of whatever those two did last night that jimin's particularly clingy and touch-starved? or are these the after effects of his excessive drinking? jimin can be a tough child to handle when appropriately inebriated or wilful.

should he be sad or glad that jimin only lets go when they reach their getaway car, and jeongguk reluctantly needs to direct the chauffeur to the private jet terminal?


their scheme in thailand had resulted in jimin almost getting assaulted at a socialite party, the apparent targets all being around jimin’s age, heirs to various big conglomerates. taehyung, jimin’s mind lurches, making him weave through the crowd to get to him, it’s taehyung. just before he makes it to say hello, a shot is heard, sending the crowds into pandemonium, breaking of glass and incessant screams. no, i need to get to him-

“jimin ssi! we need to evacuate, quick-”

“no, but taehyung-” jimin wriggles out of his hold, getting barreled by people running out. he caught the person accompanying taehyung staring directly at him, frowning. the man is tall, with broad shoulders, hair dyed blonde. he's handsome, but amidst the chaos, nobody could care less.

“taehyung, taetae!” taehyung used to be someone he deeply cared for, but he never told jimin that they still were in the same social circle- they could've met so many more times, rather than now, then why..?

“do i know you?” his voice was in a monotone, but the slight widening of his eyes, soft gasp falling from his lips were more than enough to tell jimin he knew who jimin was. “you're not a paperweight, sir, we ought to be evacuating-” the three of them almost look unfazed with the falling bodies and bloodcurdling screams.

“heavyweight, taehyung,” another man with orange hair pipes up from the back, and taehyung acquiesced with a correction. another round of gunshots result in jimin being separated from the trio and subsequently pushed to the ground, elbow injured by broken glass shards on the floor. when he makes eye contact with one of the masked men, he knows he's done for.

“jimin!” he dodges in time for the bullet to graze his skin, but the searing pain brands a whole new level of a burning sensation on his skin. “jimin ssi-” jeongguk's kneeling by his side, trying to prop him up to whisk him away. the assailants are still here and taking down whoever they can.

before he knows it, jeongguk's lifting him up in a bridal carry, sprinting for the nearest hospital or clinic. “it's okay, jungoo-” jimin breathes, trying his best to smile, blood oozing through porcelain skin, “‘m just acting, i'm good-”

before he knows it, he faints- in jeongguk's arms, thankfully- before the building catches fire.


the doctor’s orders forbid jimin to exit the house for a week to recuperate, and namjoon and jeongguk were adamant in reinforcing it, insisting that jimin lay in bed to rest. complaining of nobody to be there for him all round the clock, they allowed him to adopt a cat to keep him company. jimin had always found animals to be healing and comforting.

one day, as he lies in bed stroking chuchu, his new calico cat, taehyung’s words echoing in his head again. paperweight. he must've said it on purpose- there's no way taehyung would make an elementary pronunciation mistake like that. come to think of it, taehyung did have a unique heart shaped object that he always put on top of the papers and documents by his desktop. tata, jimin slowly remembers, he doodled a face to make it a heartman called tata, but nobody paid much notice to it since it was small and inconspicuous.

he shuffles down the hallway in fuzzy rabbit slippers, heading for the storeroom where he had kept everything taehyung left behind, just in case he came back one day.

as if it were waiting for him, the first thing he sees on top after opening the carton is the paperweight. upon closer inspection, there was a fine line on one arch of the heart. tugging on it, a piece of red murano glass detached from tata the way the cartoon hero anpanman gave a piece of his head to save his friends.

 

it was a stub of usb drive.

in it, there was an apology note from taehyung, dated three days before he left jimin. he ended it by pledging allegiance to jimin, always.

in it, there were two other files- one labelled kim seokjin, and the other jung hoseok.


it’s difficult when jimin’s no kissing rule is still intact when they have sex; jeongguk has no idea whether it’s the ecstacy pills leading him to the brink of desire, the verge of collapse; he’s so close to losing his mind just to get a taste jimin’s pretty lips, the way a parched man dreams an oasis in the sahara.

over a long period of time, what once used to be the mindset of devour had now metamorphosed into savour. it's only the time after coming down from seeing stars and seeing white that jeongguk wonders about many things, lucid dreaming. in his head, jimin is his little flower garden.

when he shot his seed into jimin, a part of him felt that with the appropriate amount of sunlight and tender loving care, perhaps jimin would blossom into a beautiful garden; the angry red vines caging his back like wings, two rosebuds on his chest, fading daffodils and magnolias on his neck, violets blooming on his thighs; jeongguk especially loves the roses around the v line of jimin's hips that he planted, a perpetual reminder to water them well, trimmed and pruned to keep them a fresh, bright vivid crimson.

flowers do bloom beautifully in jimin's little canvass of a garden, where jeongguk faithfully sows his seeds for them to develop, starting with a small pip or seedling that sprouted in the deep recesses of jimin's heart to the massive vessel of magnificence he’s blossoming into.

like a house, jeongguk's presence is the shelter he seeks solace and refuge in, his lips the wine and ambrosia that jimin indulges in; he doesn't know that the light in his eyes are what helps jimin see as he fumbles in the dark.

jimin's little breaths when they get frisky is the air jeongguk inhales like pure oxygen- the jeongguk that cages him and pins him down onto the mattress is his four walls, the house that he revels in, subconsciously reveals his secrets and fears; the jimin that lies beneath jeongguk with his sweaty hair fanned like a halo, that tiny smile of bliss in his ecstasy is the reason why jeongguk doesn't mind sacrificing himself as the exterior of jimin's home.

the undeniable, sheer glow and beauty of park jimin would put the entire theme of heavenly and celestial bodies at the met gala to shame.


there's a quiet, undeclared and perplexing moment when they're lying down next to each other on the bed, chests heaving, slow breaths reverberating in the darkness of the room; it's strangely intimate, as they both stare at nothingness pasted on the ceiling, jeongguk stroking jimin's thigh, jimin tenderly wiping off any traces of viscous liquid, on his cheeks, the dragon on his arm, taut muscles of his lower half.

it's strange because after all they've done on that same bed, they wake up again as young master and his bodyguard, nothing more, nothing less;

the equivocal, irresolute feeling of being more than friends, but less than lovers.


if jimin thinks he can slip his way out when he wakes up, with jeongguk's strong muscular arms protectively wrapped around his lithe frame like a cage, he's wrong.

he desperately worms his way out with as little movement as possible, so as not to wake jeongguk, but the younger is hypersensitive these days, with all these crazy events going on.

“where do you think you're going?” his bodyguard growls, cracking one eye open, long arm lazily beckoning him to come back to bed, a stark contrast to how hard and fast they went last night. he shouldn't be able to hear the ba-dum of his heart pulsating in his head. he shouldn't be feeing something about this whole predicament, but he does.

tossing on a white cotton tee from the floor and the slate grey kim seo ryong satin robe from the coat stand, jimin flushes with an excuse to visit the washroom, but winds up in the kitchen making breakfast.

armed with the plate of toast and scrambled eggs and his coffee cup, he discovers jeongguk fell asleep again, but with one arm outstretched; an extended invitation for me to roll back into bed with him, jimin thinks, but as quick as the thought comes, he dispels it. you're being delusional, min-ah, it's just a sleeping position... it's not like we're a thing or something special- what on earth are you fantasizing of, jimin?

the chinaware clinks softly as he sets the breakfast down for jeongguk, afraid of waking him up. he leaves quietly, in fear of crawling back into the bed occupied with a certain someone.


it's been a year with jeongguk. jimin is secretly someone who's sentimental and remembers dates and anniversaries, so he never forgets a birthday of a loved one if he knows it. he doesn't want to sound cheesy or sappy about it, but it's been a year that jeongguk has been spending with him, day in and day out. he's set aside time to ruminate and cogitate on this matter, yet he's not a hundred percent sure of what to get.

they've been cast into an established strictly professional relationship, and he doesn't want to cross the lines they've set- but neither does he want it to be a casual gift that he could buy any day. it needs to be something practical but special. not stepping past boundaries but still above a token of appreciation from superior to subordinate.

he notes that aside from the invoices for the custom suits he insisted on getting for jeongguk, his bodyguard secretly orders shirt garters for himself. in lieu of claiming it as material cost to his wardrobe, jeongguk uses his own credit card to buy them using his own wages. jimin doesn’t know that his rationale is feeling bad wearing expensive, undeserving haute couture like ottavio nuccio gala, bottega veneta, vivienne westwood; jeongguk never knew one custom suit could cost the rent of a simple shop in myeongdong for two months. it’s also bit embarrassing to say, but jimin sometimes stares at jeongguk’s bulging muscles, thighs threatening to rip his pants- no wonder why he often manspreads in roomy areas, not that jimin is complaining. he adds another gucci tie into his imaginary checklist- jeongguk would look nice in that.

it takes jimin a whole lot of courage to knock on jeongguk’s door, and good lord, is jimin actually… getting shy? he's actually blushing, avoiding eye contact as he shoves the luxury stamped bag under jeongguk's nose. “um, i noticed that you sweat a lot, and i think boxers may be inconvenient and uncomfortable since the slacks i got you happen to be so tight so i think we can get you new ones soon- and um, from prior experience i know you have a big, uhhh, really huge package so i just bought you the biggest size and i hope it fits-” jimin rambles on, wheezing and getting redder by the minute, lips pouted cutely as he pauses to catch his breath, “i hope you don't find this perverted or anything, you're… you're actually the first person i'm buying underwear for, okay? so don't laugh at me if it doesn't fit, i'll just go buy you a new one!” jimin's already closing his eyes tightly, as if ready for the backlash, hands balled into little fists.

“jimin ssi?”

“uh, yes?” jimin slowly cracks his eyes open, still holding back a little, responding to jeongguk's gentle voice the way a germinating plant would steer towards the sun. what is that soft look in his eyes? it makes jimin's heart beat too fucking fast for some reason.

“i, uh, thank you,” he hopes he hasn't been that embarrassing with his overtly active sweat glands that his young master has to actually personally buy and deliver him new underwear to salvage the situation. must've been pretty bad. “i love it.”

“y-you liar! you haven't even opened it, how do you know you love it!” jimin accuses, punching his chest to emphasise his point. his lips are all pouty and his cheeks are still pink from prior soliloquy- jeongguk thinks it's so cute. so fucking precious.

“you gave me something on your own accord, jimin ssi,” jeongguk says smoothly, unsure if it would be apt to grab jimin's hands to prove his point. he decides against holding them, just in case. “no, you open it now, and tell me. hurry up!”

ah, there's the jimin he knows. “slow down, darling, don't wanna ruin the packaging,” as he slowly peels off the satin ribbon and wrapping, he doesn't catch jimin's cheeks flare at the slip of tongue of the affectionate nickname, his very adorable rosy apple cheeks.

it's jeongguk's turn to blush when he sees the jockstrap (or is that a thong?) jimin had purchased from versace. he really wasn't joking when he said he bought the largest size available. jeongguk is at a loss for words; knowing jimin, if he wears it, he will highly likely tease him for being kinky- or something along those lines- but if he doesn't wear them, jimin would definitely be sad and he'd be an ungrateful servant. jimin hardly ever buys things for people that aren't blood related to him- and for the thought itself jeongguk is already thankful. or at least, that's what his thought process was internally, in stark juxtaposition to his wide eyes and gaping mouth on the exterior, cogs turning while looking like he'd short-circuited.

“close your mouth! a-and stop staring at it! just- just tell me you don't like it and go!” jimin grabs the underwear out of jeongguk's sight of inspection, biting on his lips. this wasn't supposed to go like that, jeongguk was supposed to love whatever he bought! he should've gone with buying him a meal, or something he knows for sure jeongguk enjoys, like buying him a new game console. to make matters worse, he had intended to ask nicely if jeongguk liked the shitty gift he had bought, but his own insecurities caused him to lash out at jeongguk so rudely and disdainfully, when nothing was his fault to begin with. it was all jimin's own fault. he should have just upgraded jeongguk's computer, or maybe buy-

“jimin ssi!” it's jeongguk's hand on his wrist that's preventing him from running away. “jimin ssi, hey, don't cry-” jeongguk's using his sleeve to dab away the tears he didn't know had rolled down, how stupid and immature. a disgrace. “who said i don't like it? it's very nice of you to buy me something, i like it a lot.” jeongguk's voice soothes him, makes him calm down and berate himself even more inwardly.

“you just like it, you don't love it,” jimin weakly retorts, blowing his nose into the tissues that jeongguk stretches to yank from the tissue box and then gently holds out for him, his bodyguard laughing and trying his best to keep it in.

“y-you're laughing at me!”

“you're too adorable, i couldn't resist, young master- is there anything i can do to make you feel better?”

“c-coffee,” jimin blurts, comment about him going past his head as he considers his bold requests. jeongguk nods in understanding, planning to do a little foam art if he can. and a kiss… jimin starts fidgeting the moment the wild thought gets prompted into his head, and he tries to fight it off. it's hard. “anything else on your mind, jimin ssi?”

“i want… i want-” come on jimin, where are your guts and flirting abilities you use everyday now? it's just a kiss, jeongguk probably will pass it off as a joke! remember how demanding and ridiculous you are normally? yeah, that. “i want a kiss…”

“pardon, jimin ssi, i couldn't hear what you were mumbling,” the frown convinces jimin he didn't catch it, but the corner of his lips tempted to curl up makes jimin think otherwise. anyhow, half his reputation is out the window in his time spent with jeongguk, so why not just be honest and brazen about it?

“i! i said! i said i want a kiss…” he started off strong, but retreated into a falter at the end. it's no use, something is wrong with him, he shouldn't be feeling so funny about this whole thing; so what if jeongguk doesn't like the underwear? so what if he should think giving jimin a kiss is weird? jimin is the one who's writing his monthly wage checks, so it shouldn't have any hold of him whatsoever-

but it does.

“y-you know, i actually- ha, it's fine! i'm sorry, sorry jeonggukie, i'm not feeling too well, i'm just… i'll go get some rest, i-” even his basic sentences are a mess. first his bratty behaviour, and now flipping a complete opposite by stuttering over his words just like a fool. just what the hell is going on? he's not usually like this! be still, my heart. “i'm sorry, i'm going to take a nap,” with that, he scurries off, dumping the crumpled thong and it's box on the floor, too afraid to even turn back.

jeongguk has never seen jimin, who's usually so confident and sure of himself, look so confused and dazed. maybe he shouldn't have hesitated about proclaiming he loved the underwear- by now jimin should've known he would absolutely love anything jimin bought for him. even if it was mouldy cheese or trash bags or dirty socks; he would've treasured it no matter what it was.

he should've been faster and kissed jimin before either of them could hesitate and regret.


“chuchu, come here,” jimin softly calls, nuzzing her soft fur as he falls asleep, tired of overthinking, mind reeling, heart hurting.

he wakes up to jeongguk by his bedside, wearing the tie he picked, a cup of coffee and some of the ginger biscuits he likes to eat for tea.

“jimin ssi?”

he blushes when he tells jimin he was sleeping for a while and he's wearing the new panty and it's very comfortable, and he shows the waistband with ruddy cheeks. “jimin ssi, i actually thought about what you said and i apologise for reacting that way. a kiss doesn't mean very much or very little, in a way?” jeongguk trails off, afraid of offending a sleepy jimin, “would you like to have your kiss served now or later, sir?”

it would be an honour to kiss you, jimin.

to say a kiss meant very much would be implying jimin literally taking something precious away from him using his authority, a violation of rights; whilst to say a kiss meant absolutely nothing would mean they had no value whatsoever, and even if a billion kisses were given, they'd be meaningless.

jimin, i would like to give my first proper kiss to you.

the fist rubbing his eye stops mid-motion, jimin's lips automatically puckered out in addition to his fluffy bed hair. “is it... okay if i get, um. both? because- you did, actually, make me feel so much just now and it was overwhelming… it's only right that i, your young master, deserve to get twice the amo-”

without further ado, jeongguk chastely pecks the corner of his mouth, making jimin temporarily stop functioning, face growing warm as the fleeting feeling on his skin sets in. chuchu rouses from her catnap, meowing into jimin's abdomen. jeongguk's looking at him far too intently, the same look when he first made jimin's espresso and was worried he wouldn't like it. “y-you may drop the formalities when you give me my bedtime kisses later,” jimin mumbles, hands cupping his cheeks in embarrassment, huddled in a ball and if his eyes weren't playing tricks on him, jeongguk's eyes seemed to have brightened up. “you… you are dismissed.”

jimin being swallowed up by his blankets, cuddling chuchu after being kissed has to be the most adorable thing jeongguk has witnessed. ever.


while helping to sort some of the groceries that one of the noonas had came home with, it dawns on him what date it is today, and why jimin had gotten so worked up and upset about jeongguk's less than amazed reaction.

it's been 500 days with jimin.

the calendar in the kitchen stares back at him, glaring in red font, making him feel so, so guilty that he didn't think about any plans to make in advance to ‘celebrate’ it together with jimin. it's too late to plan anything huge now, so hopefully a small sincere something can make jimin at least, a little happier.

he finds sweet potatoes in the cupboard, and rolls up his sleeves to his elbows to get to work, gathering the honey and sesame seeds and a nice plate.

he's done in less than twenty minutes, rushing up the stairs to find jimin. it's the first dish he's ever cooked for jimin at the mansion. jimin's eyes look like melted chocolate fondue when he sees jeongguk proudly extending the plate to him. he remembered what day it is today.

“don't worry, jimin ssi! the sweet potatoes don't stick to the plate anymore!” the big bunny-like grin makes jimin's heart want to burst. as he uses chopsticks to guide the glazed sweet potatoes to his mouth, jimin feels so much happiness well up inside of him, he might just cry. the room is quiet save for their chewing, clank of chopsticks hitting the plate, mingled breaths. chuchu’s quietly snoozing on one of jimin's pillows.

alas, the plate is finally empty, and jimin takes a deep breath.

“jeonggukie, kiss?”

he's appalled when jeongguk adamantly shakes his head. “y-you! you promised-

“jimin ssi, may i kiss you?”

jimin tastes like honey. he's very sweet, hands clasped around jeongguk's neck, fervently chasing his lips; it's plush and pliant, wet and warm. it's intoxicating, how jeongguk gently cradles his face in his big hands, the way jimin wraps his arms around him and refuses to let go. no wonder why he never does kissing during sex, jeongguk's mind echoes, nobody would make it out alive feeling nothing. jimin sucks on jeongguk's lower lip, takes in his mouth like he's pure oxygen, he's addictive, heady and invigorating; one taste of jimin makes you desire for double, come back wanting ten fold.

jimin is like a little peach, juicy and refreshing and sweet- when it's peak season he blossoms, fragrant and desired. he's delicate, easily bruised, and must be treated with care. his sweetness attracts many pests, up till he's ripe enough to harvest- people eat him up when it's his season, his time to shine, and crave him when he's gone.

jeongguk is a cherry- he started off wild, tangy, morphed into something sweeter; he could be preserved, sour, bitter. cherries can elevate blood sugar, provide pain relief, support healthy sleep. he's the violent rush and midnight calm- he's fleshy, easy to hold, as jimin holds him, by the stems, by his hands;

jeongguk is the excitement when the swings in the park are empty, and when you're done the jumping back down into a pile of autumn leaves. jimin is the warm, afternoon sunset glow that guards over all the splendour it can reach, the rays that make even the darkest waters glimmer at the surface.

jimin is the person jeongguk has centered, here in his arms.

jeongguk is the person that jimin wants to protect, little feet caging his waist.

“you can spend the night here, if you want…” to an outsider, it would seem funny, ridiculous even- since jeongguk stayed in the adjacent room, just a wall apart; to jimin, it was the opening of a jar he had been yearning for, at the top of the shelf- but couldn't reach. to jeongguk, he'd finally found his lost jar of paper hearts, at the very top of the rack.

“there was a butterfly in my room,” jimin mumbles in addition, stroking chuchu’s fur. as if she understood her owner, chuchu leaps out of jimin's pillow to mewl at jeongguk. chuchu is the baby of his baby- of course he says yes.

jimin smells like cherry blossoms today. also, jeongguk recently purchased a new cologne with a hint of peach blossom scent to it.


unlike jeongguk, when jimin craves something, he must go to all lengths to satiate it. a petulant whine craving for lemon meringue tarts makes jeongguk drive him all the way to pierre herme’s café dior at apgujeong.

since jimin is feeling generous, jeongguk is rewarded with a tart in exchange for transport. sitting opposite to each other, jeongguk politely motions to jimin to dig in first, trained to be well mannered, and jimin makes sure to tease him by licking the cream off his lips seductively; the smirk on his lips changes into a betrayed parting of the lips, when jeongguk starts taking a big mouthful of grapefruit tart.

he approximately will only require another three bites, making jimin alarmed. it's not a competition per se, but this is something he refuses to lose at! this was supposed to be a leisurely high tea, enjoying their dessert, but if jeongguk wants to do it quick, then fine. he tries to take a big, big bite of his lemon tart and ends up with meringue cream on his nose, scrunched up when he realises he won't win when it comes to jeongguk who eats like there's no tomorrow. his lips jut out, annoyed, and jeongguk giggles, swiping the frosting off with his thumb.

just to get back at jimin, he licks his finger coyly, employing the exact same tactics jimin does to rile him up, but with his big, innocent eyes. the way jimin blushes gives jeongguk no choice but to order another strawberry tart, since the elder reminds him of one.

also, while relishing in the sweet treats, jimin kicks his feet in the air, which results in several embarrassed sorrys as he accidentally kicks jeongguk's long limbs in excitement. jeongguk decides to sip on his earl grey and enjoy the view instead of commenting.


jeongguk has never come back home this late when he goes out alone. upon spotting jimin waiting for him in the foyer, scowl etched on his face, he hastens his steps with bows and apologies. “jimin ssi, were you waiting up for me? i'm so sorry, you shouldn't have-”

there are lipstick stains on jeongguk's dress shirt, and a sickly sweet scent accompanying his; jimin knows something's not right.

“i smell her perfume on you,” jimin glowers in retaliation, stomping up the stairs to his room. it's true that he's being petty, but even if he's out meeting a girl or going to a club- an indicator from the alcohol and cigarette smell- he could've had the basic decency or courtesy to inform jimin. it irks jimin because he had given in and tracked down the location of yongsan-gu, itaewon. jeongguk knows about the gps signal, and he leaves it there enabled so that his young master can have a piece of mind. “don't come to my room tonight!”

he refuses to let jeongguk possibly sleep beside him, because there's a nagging feeling deep down of betrayal; jeongguk does have the freedom to roam wherever he pleases when they're not on the job or up to some heist-scale event. so why does he feel this way?

the wind is howling tonight, shadows of the moving trees making jimin whimper under his blanket fortress, the leaves and twigs hitting the windowsill and making him jump. it's cold and he's afraid of ghosts- they're going to haunt him and possess him, coming to scare him because he was being mean to jeongguk.

he screams loudly when the brass doorknob turns, and the shadow of a tall figure walks towards him.

“please don't hurt me…”

the smell of a scented candle wafts in, the opted source of light for fear of waking jimin up should jeongguk flip the switch of the lights. when he sees the shivering lump under the covers, he knows his hunch was right.

“jimin ssi? are you-”

“h-how dare you leave me alone! i was scared, there are ghosts in my room-!” jimin almost looks like a tiny flying squirrel as he glomps him the moment jeongguk sets down the candle jar, almost letting out a coo at how adorably prideful and susceptible jimin is, petty but precious, a chaotic delight, an intriguing dream on two feet. maybe for some, he's a nightmare masquerading as a daydream.

jimin's bundled up safely in jeongguk's embrace, buried under another extra blanket he had tugged along just in case the young master would be cold in the chilly night the weather forecast described. “y-you said you would protect me!”

“you exiled me from your room for the night, sir.” jeongguk mumbles into his hair, patting jimin's back to lull him to sleep, their limbs a tangled mess.

normally when confronted and made clear that he was in the wrong, jimin would shut up, moody silence and quietly fuming, knowing it was his fault and had no ground to argue back. however, jeongguk feels jimin curling into him, an even smaller ball, seeking warmth and comfort. acceptance.

“i hope you know i didn't send you out on purpose…”

“to be honest, young master, i never expected an answer or any explanation-”

“i got jealous,” jimin mumbles into jeongguk's chest, “i know it sounds so ugly and stupid, but it's true… it felt horrible knowing that someone not as pretty as me got to touch and kiss you first. you're… you’re mine! ” jimin jolts up to emphasise how strongly he feels about it, before deflating into a melancholic voice, “i got so worried when you didn't come home past 1am,”

“i'm sorry for worrying you, i'm alright, though-” the genuine display of penitence makes jimin huddle in closer to him, shake his head firmly into jeongguk's chest when the latter volunteers to get him milk with honey to help him sleep better.

jimin falls asleep halfway as he recounts paying a visit to haus of velvet, a renowned club for the wealthy to find social escorts or fake trophy wives for events, to garner some information about the suspicious duo they're investigating. many girls had clawed their way to him, resulting in copping of an abundance of telephone numbers. anyhow, his biggest takeaway was from a famous hostess in that line of work called irene.

“he is a cold hearted snake, a murderer. have you ever wondered why he likes coming here? our original name was red velvet- the founder of this building ran a clothing and laundry shop behind the pretext of a casual bar. she had a guarantee of removing any sort of stains for any garments- a hot favourite was the blood red ones.”


it's yet another winter jeongguk has spent with jimin.

jimin can't think well in the cold. and precisely because he doesn't want to think about whatever the one thing his brain emphasises and keeps playing like a mantra, an infatuating cantillate, he makes the rash decision of leaving the mansion on a friday, without a second layer of clothing. it’s a pretty song the in his head likes to sing.

jeongguk, jeongguk, jeongguk;

he leaves without a coat or hoodie or sweater, just a denim jacket as a makeshift shirt and ripped jeans like any fashionable young adult would: away from his tailor made outfits planned in advance, in his own rebellious pair of graffiti pattern doc marten boots, instead of the saint laurent and gucci that kiss the ostentatious floors he’s been forced to tread on.

he couldn’t have gone far, jeongguk thinks, and it takes him twenty minutes to locate jimin. his young master enjoys taking walks alone to the han river to air his thoughts, clear his mind. it’s below ten degrees celsius today. jimin’s padded jacket with faux fur trim still smells like him, like tangerines and jasmine flowers.

“i don't- no intention to disturb you, jimin ssi-” he pants, tapping an all to familiar silhouette, “you're free to go anywhere on your own, but just- please keep warm, it's really cold.”

as he pulls the zipper up, he notes that jimin's only wearing a denim jacket with no shirt beneath, allowing the waistband of his calvin klein underwear to peek out. it makes him feel shy, making him fumble in his pockets to fish out something as a distraction, mumbling under his breath so as not to get his words jumbled. “j-jimin ssi? um, i brought you an injeolmi riceball and uh. this is freshly squeezed lemonade from this morning. you always forget to eat, so…” the two food items get dumped into jimin's coat pockets, jeongguk hastily yanking off his own gloves when he realises he's forgotten to bring jimin a pair. it's alright because he's going back to the mansion and he doesn't get cold easily, unlike jimin. in hindsight, he should have brought jimin a scarf too, if he had known it would be this windy. his favourite is the red plaid one jimin wore on a bus ride, when he had tangerine hair, and jeongguk took a photo for personal keepsake.

“please take care, jimin ssi.” jeongguk whispers, puffs of warm air escaping his lips as he puts the gloves on for jimin, with a slight bow to signal his leave. jimin’s cute little nose gets frostbitten easily, hopefully the jacket helps him tide over.

even in the temperatures dropping to negative degrees, jimin feels a tiny shroud of his stone heart start to melt; and he sees the one thing he feared the most- even more than dying or being held captive.

 

he had looked into jeongguk's honest, brown eyes, full of tenderness and unspoken love.


it’s a saturday evening. 5:30pm, the rolex says, and two dress shoes stand before the plaque in yanghwajin columbarium, a stone’s throw away from the han river. jeongguk’s gloves humbly stroke the memorial portrait cast in marble.  

“good evening, mrs jeon, and jeongguk's brother. i heard you liked daisies, ma’am, so i brought you some.”

his gloved hands place the bunch of flowers into the space allocated for small keepsakes or tokens, bowing in reverence. the resemblance the family bore was uncanny.

“i apologize for only visiting you this late- i’ve been caught up in many affairs requiring immediate attention. i’m here to tell you to be proud of your son; he’s been nothing short of a blessing to me, and for that, i am immensely grateful. he’s exceeding expectations and doing wonderful.” he finds himself involuntarily smiling at the mention of jeongguk.

“also, mrs jeon, jeonghyun hyung- may i address you as such?- i hereby vow that i will protect and take good care of your son, your brother; i know i need not blatantly tell you this, but i would like to officially announce it to you, so that you may rest well knowing jeongguk is in good hands.”

jimin bows once more, in high esteem.

“i promise you to cherish him for as long as i live.”


it's yet another spring jimin has spent with jeongguk.

it’s february the 14th today, and jeongguk says he has something fun in mind. just to take advantage of the date, they wore matching leather jackets and all black outfits to remain inconspicuous.

what is absolutely not fun at all, is jeongguk excitedly making them queue for a viking ride at the amusement park. jeongguk was having the time of his life on that goddamn thing while jimin was screaming his lungs out, clinging on to his arm for dear life. somewhere in his profuse yelling he thinks jeongguk apologised saying he won’t ‘let baby jimin board a viking ship again’, and jimin forgives him when he punches a bell that hurt jimin. actually, jimin walked into the prop by accident, but he won’t tell jeongguk that.

he really enjoyed holding hands for the whole day, though.


“um, jimin ssi? could i, um, ask for a day off in advance?”

jimin quirks up at eyebrow, “whatever is the occasion?”  

“i-i have a date-”

“what? and with whom, may i ask?”

jeongguk pokes his fingers together, biting his cheek. jimin is going to laugh at him, asking for leave a whole damn month in advance for such a ridiculous reason that would be so unprofessional, from a personal bodyguard’s standpoint.

“... mr stark.” he mumbles, and jimin rises from his seat, questioning him about said man’s acquaintance.

“do i know him? is this regarding business or pleasure-”

“t-tony! tony stark! i'm asking for leave so i can go to the premiere of avengers 4, jimin ssi…” the boy gets more embarrassed as the statement goes, head bowing down in shame. instead of protecting jimin for a good half a day, he's got the nerve to demand a holiday just to selfishly view his favourite movie franchise. i'm an idiot, jeongguk thinks. this was a stupid question in the first place.

he could very well stream it online after, what's the big deal? tony stark can wait, jimin's safety cannot. that damn near bullet graze made it pretty evident.

“when is the premiere?”

“oh! exactly in a month, sir.”

“hm.” jimin checks the audemars piguet on his wrist, before tapping away at his phone. it makes jeongguk gnaw on his bottom lip a little longer, as the bright screen reflects and amplifies jimin's knitted brows.

“okay,” jimin says with a small exhale and a tiny smile, “we're watching it next week. just both of us.”

the private cinema (yes, that is literally the name of the place) is found in the corner of the 11th floor of chundam-dong. jimin had found lotte’s charlotte theatre and cgv gold class not as elusive, with more and more mainstream groupies booking them. here, steak and a greatly appreciated free flow of red wine is served, which jimin gladly sips throughout.

he spots jeongguk crying after the post credits scene, and jimin instantly panics. “darling, the movie was okay, why are you crying? mr stark didn’t die-”

jeongguk just hugs him tightly, bending down to cuddle jimin, sobbing even louder. “i-it's my second time in a cinema, thank you so much jimin hyung, i-” he pauses to sniff loudly, “i'm just, s-so happy, thank you jimin hyung-”

jimin almost gets moved to tears looking at jeongguk's wet shiny eyes, as he uses the tissues provided to dab away jeongguk’s precious tears, revealing the purest smile he has ever seen him wear. it feels funny and warm and nice how jeongguk has slipped into busan satoori and called him hyung. not that jimin ssi or young master was to his disliking, but in the honorifics itself, it signified change and familiarity, closeness and kinship. “you called me jimin hyung…” jimin repeats to himself, under his breath, causing jeongguk to use the sleeves of his hoodie to fiercely wipe at his face, “i'm so sorry, sir! i- i went overboard, didn't i? i'm just-”

“no, it's alright. it's quite… nice, just unfamiliar is all.” jimin waits for him to collect himself, rubs a hand on his back in soothing circles. “hyung doesn't mind buying you a movie theatre if it makes you so happy.” jeongguk's vehement shake of the head makes him surprised. “it's not about the movie, hyung… it's just that- you made me feel something; l-like jungoo is s-special... to you,” his blocked nose and sniffles make him sound even cuter, more like an overgrown child with a missed childhood, and jimin badly wants to kiss him and tell him it's all going to be okay, that he really is someone special in jimin's life.

he did, only when jeongguk fell asleep on the way home.

“happy white day, jeonggukie.”


the hotel seokjin was waiting in, monster plaza, seemed like a typical luxury hotel, with polite staff and a proper reception to greet whoever came in through the revolving doors, an exquisite eatery to the left, calming scent of lavender and spice in the lobby. the hotel is eerily clear of any loitering guests or tourists.

the moment jimin steps in, jeongguk guiding his waist through the grand turnaround glass, a subtle drop in the temperature is felt; the moment his maison margiela boots fall in line with the immaculate marble floors, within seconds, every single person in the lobby halts their ministrations, looking straight at the two of them. it makes a very cold shiver run down jeongguk's spine.

“jimin ssi, do you trust me?” jeongguk whispers into his ear, all eyes on them, so quiet you could see and hear the drop of a coin into lightning and thunder. “i do.” slowly, before the enemy strikes, jeongguk yanks off his tie to blindfold jimin.

“ooh, getting kinky, are we, jeongguk-ah?”

“it won't be a pretty sight, sir.”

as soon as his words are uttered, every employee regardless of job title have their eyes fixated on them, some armed with guns to point at them. all it takes is the nearest bellboy to start aiming a punch at jeongguk, for the ball to start rolling, the first shot to be fired. with every chop, kick, jeongguk uses the victims of his fists to block the next, another oncoming threat from the left.

“jeongguk-ah, there's someone coming from behind you,” jimin hums in amusement, as jeongguk heeds his warning and proceeds to toss the man over his back and swing him around as a dead fish to whack one of the receptionists.

it's been less than three minutes, but jeongguk has single-handedly taken down seven men, protecting jimin to the best of his ability. not a single strand of jimin's soft hair leaves his head. every single one of them pause and begin to retreat, back to their daily vocations like it were a normal day, putting on their best smiles at the counter, some external staff rushing in to drag away the unconscious men on the floor. the hotel suddenly operates as usual, save for the dangling lights on the high ceiling, a shot in the centrepiece painting by the lifts, the bruises and cuts on their faces.

when the black silk tie gets undone and slipped off jimin's face, everything was back to how it seemed originally, other than the debris in the ornaments and architecture. jeongguk's jaw almost drops at how quickly they mopped up the blood.

“are you alright, jeonggukie?” jimin frowns, lips downturned, holding his shoulders to scrutinise him head to toe, using a tissue to dap softly at his split lip. hell, he didn't even realise he'd gotten hurt. “i'm okay, sir.”

the contracted staff all plaster polite and friendly smiles on their face, the moment the three claps by a man with orange hair resounded, everybody backed down. at once, like a well rehearsed play and everybody took their places to start all over again.

“you really came, or so we heard! an honour to meet you, mr park.” the man kisses jimin's knuckles, and jeongguk tries his best not to pull a sour expression, or stick his tongue out childishly- something about this guy does not seem right.

“my name is jung hoseok. the young master is waiting for you upstairs. after you, sirs.


“hello, there jimin!” the man with black hair and a cheery smile greets him on the opposite end of a long rosewood table.

“i'm here to talk terms regarding one of your men, taehyung.”

“oh? taehyungie? why him?”

“that doesn't matter, does it? i just want him in one piece.”

kim seokjin spins in his swivel chair, poking a cheek as if contemplating. “fetch him for me, won't you, hoseok?”

“yes, my lord.”

without further ado, hoseok exits with a graceful bow.

“i propose we play a game over the custody of one of my men, jimin ssi.” seokjin's smiling in such a gentle way, opulence and poise radiating off him, that jimin doesn't quite understand how he stands as one of the heirs to kim corporations, known for their unscrupulous underground doings. jimin's lips are set in a thin line.

“i understand that you have a casino located on the ninth floor, mr kim-”

“oh, no, no- not those!” seokjin wails, “those are boring. too complex. we need something fast and distinctive, or the debate over ambiguity will take too long…”

the room goes silent, seokjin mumbling to himself. “halli galli? no, no long, there's no cards… board games? no… uno? hmm…”

jeongguk almost jumps when seokjin bangs the table. “aha! i know- rock paper scissors!”

his epiphany seems to dumbfound both jimin and jeongguk. “winner of three tries! and if i lose, you can keep taehyung. but if i win, then...”

“what do you want?” jeongguk can see jimin's shoulders tense up, his confidence in the inside clearly shaken. his voice isn't as stable as usual, when he's dealing with people he clearly has an upper hand over. this is pure luck. pure chance. he doesn't even have the option to attempt to cheat.

“i want your bodyguard.” seokjin pouts, pointing a crooked finger straight at jeongguk, head propped up by the other hand. it's almost as if he's walking by a toy shop and choosing his birthday gift in advance.

“jeongguk, do you trust me?” his whisper tugs at jeongguk's heartstrings, especially when his fingers tug at jeongguk's thigh, hidden from seokjin's view.

“i do, jimin ssi.”

i'd trust you with my whole life if i had to.

“bravo! showstopping!” seokjin claps, head shaking dramatically, as if watching a fucking musical when jimin's out here betting their goddamn lives in a fucking game of rock paper scissors. what is he, a puppet raised by kim corporations to be this caricature of an immature brat? fuck you, jimin and jeongguk telepathically think, as jeongguk hooks a finger with jimin's to calm him down.

“let's get this started.” jimin's speaking as steadily as he can, despite his heart doing cartwheels, somersaults, headstands, tuck jumps internally; it's so nerve wracking when he's betting on two lives that are dear to him. fuck you, kim seokjin and company.

“i'm putting scissors,” seokjin declares and jeongguk counts down for them in an anxious voice, cracked and highly strung as a livewire. what is this now? reverse psychology? psychological warfare? jimin's right eye twitches as he knits his brow, jeongguk's hand gripping his tighter under the table.

to trust or not to trust?

jimin throws a rock, and true to his word, seokjin shows a peace sign. it follows for the next two rounds, seokjin announcing his move, and throwing the ball back to jimin's court; whether or not he starts to doubt- which ultimately would have lead to a loss- is jimin's call to make. when jimin wins the second round, his body visibly loosens up, and he can hear jeongguk let out the breath he'd been holding in.

there's something so very elegiac about seokjin's gaze when he pronounces jimin the victor. hoseok enters right on the dot with taehyung in tow, the moment seokjin declares jimin a winner.

“ahh, that was close,” his voice sounds more of an ambivalent, wistful tone than a robotic one, or a person trying to effectively recite their memorised script.

“hoseok, give taehyung to them. i lost.”

the ginger haired man doesn't say anything, but the frown etched on his forehead, the slight cock of his head, makes goosebumps crawl on jimin's skin.


“taehyung, what did they do to you?” the moment taehyung lands his gucci shoes back into the park mansion, he grabs jimin into a tight hold, head nuzzled into the crook of his neck.

“seokjin let me go- i’m certain of it! i just- i can't believe i'm home.”

taehyung, for some reason, now had heterochromatic eyes; his left eye was now blue, but when jimin probed about it, he refused to answer. jimin could tell that taehyung largely fell back into his quirky little ways, but there was some restraint and holding back in his attitude and behaviour. sure, they used to be extremely close, like two peas in a pod, but time could change a man; he still has to factor in some reservation just for precautionary measures- you never knew who was on whoever’s side until tragedy struck.

taehyung gets sectioned into one of the companies that jimin has a direct supervision over, so if anything goes wrong, he's able to step in at once. his new old addition and longtime companion was now sent to a spare guest room to stay for the time being.

when he fell asleep, hugging a pillow and with the nightlight on- as jimin reminisces fondly- jimin takes the big blue ring he has and sends it to the labs. he vaguely remembers seeing a similar one, somewhere in the house.


a few days later, jeongguk's missing. he's woken up to an empty bed for the first time in aeons. the newspaper writes in bold headlines that the zodiac killer case has a new lead, the death toll still stalled at a whopping eleven based on some madman’s lunacy. jimin's heart is racing. so far 10 people had been killed- all with a dragon tattoo on their body- and according to the chinese zodiac all the deceased were born in the year of different animals, with all their tattoos on different parts of the body. that specific part would be cleanly cut off, missing and disposed in another region.

save for the years of oxen and rooster, on the arm and shoulder.

and there would be one ofthe four possible combinations left that matched jeongguk perfectly. it meant that there was just two bodies left to hunt down, a possible boy with a dragon tattoo on his sleeve for the whole murder reach a peak commercial success. he grabs his phone, wanting to call jeongguk, but an unknown number reaches him first.

“h-hello-”

“he has some last words for you,” the voice is unmistakably that of kim seokjin. a wave of terror courses down his whole being, the static of the line implying a transition of the mobile device. jimin runs to his laptop, connecting his phone to trace the call; the gps in jeongguk's phone should at least still be intact to a certain point, since he didn't make effort to remove it. jimin swallows as he waits for the time to painfully tick by in augmented seconds, refusing to impetuously do something stupid and land jeongguk an unmoving dead corpse.

“jimin ssi?” the sound of tape or rope is heard, and judging by jeongguk's voice, he hasn't had any water for quite some time. “we haven't watched the cherry blossoms toge-”

“okay, that's enough-” a gruff voice in the background blends in as jeongguk's fades, small gurgles of protests signifying a gag of some sort. it should be one of seokjin's henchmen, if not hoseok himself. “so sweet to loverboy, aren't you?” seokjin coos, before putting the receiver back from speaker to his ear.

“if you manage to make your way here yourself, i'll let you off easy. however, you have three and a half hours- don't forget, it's only a simple test today, park. if you bring anyone else here… i think we both know what the consequences are.”

no wonder why he was so kind as to let taehyung come back.


jeongguk's been abducted and tied to the chair in an abandoned train carriage. he had tailed seokjin after dinner, having bugged the room jimin and him were brought to. in retrospect, it could've been a ploy all along. he'd been a dumb little rabbit, following the carrot held on a stick, carrots that were never meant for him.

“you heard it, i gave him three and a half hours,” seokjin croons, snapping the pink flip phone shut with flair. assuming jimin was still in the mansion, it would take approximately five hours by train and bus- but jeongguk's sure jimin will come for him.

“what are you allergic to? cannot do?” hoseok asks, expression nonchalant, as seokjin drinks his own packet of chocolate milk. it's always the guard or manservant that does the dirty job, huh. he keeps quiet, head hung low. hoseok kicks him in the abdomen, causing him to fall back on to the ground with the chair.

“my master asked you a question, so you damn well reply, boy.” hoseok's crouching down to harshly grab his jaw, snarling, but all jeongguk can do is hiss at the pain, the impact of the fall.

“hoseok, that's enough.”

he motions a banana on the table, pointing at jeongguk, but hoseok glares at the feisty boy strapped to the fallen chair. reluctantly, he sits jeongguk upright, peels the yellow skin, sets it out for jeongguk to taste. all he gets is a nibble before his captor drops the fruit- accident, his ass- making jeongguk scowl. he even smugly grins as he squishes the banana to mush, stomping on jeongguk's meal to rile him up. what a fucking scumbag.

he shouldn't have been dumb enough to believe the nonsensical, clue and location laden conversation, and not inform jimin about it. he was trying to be capable and smart about it, but clearly the lack of sufficient experience and expertise made him fall short; unlike jimin, who grew up in the very heart of the scene, jeongguk was more of brawn than brain.

“hoseok, can you get me some udon and dumplings, i'm starving~” seokjin says, and hoseok's mood immediately shifts to a dimpled smile. “do you want fried chicken too, young master?”

seokjin nods, and the moment the door is shut, he nudges over the packet of chocolate milk.

“so, jeongguk,” he says sweetly, with a smile jeongguk can't decipher, “mind telling me what you can't do?”

the air smelled like lemons.


changwon, the screen reflected in caps lock, jeongguk is in changwon. he'd hinted about cherry blossoms, which meant only one district left- jinhae jungwon rotary intersection. known for the jinghae gunjanghae festival, foreigners and locals alike would gather by the streets and river to admire and take photographs of the beautiful scenery in spring.

now that it was close to autumn, the trees were barren, naked. jimin runs and runs until he finds the only possible deserted place left- the abandoned train. holding on to his gun, he kicks down the front door, locked from inside.

the applause comes when he enters, seokjin slurping up cold knife-cut noodles in glee. hoseok's bibimbap is an empty container next to the rest of the finished food. a bloodied dagger lay next to it.

“jeongguk-!”

there's a line drawn on his left cheek, another large gash on his right arm, sleeve covering his tattoo torn off. jimin wants to cry, seeing jeongguk weak and tortured, with blood all over, some bruises matting his skin.

“you're late,” the patek on his wrist says jimin is half an hour behind schedule. “you're lucky hoseokie just did two, jimin-ah. also, drop your weapon.”

jimin almost feels like punching the man's pretty face. he doesn't even deserve to address jimin by his surname, let alone sully his name. he throws the gun down, putting his hands up in mock surrender.

“i heard your little jeonggukie here can't drink…” seokjin drawls, “so i’ll make him drink an entire bottle just for your viewing pleasure. hoseok!”

the cork gets popped, jimin fighting his tears when jeongguk weakly tries to smile, shaking his head to tell him not to worry. you idiot, how could i not worry?

“no, you can’t do that- tell you what, i’ll drink it-” jimin chokes, “you can’t make him drink all that-”

“but then, jimin ssi, there would be no fun in it, hmm?”

“no, you can’t-!”

“but what if, i said i would release your baby cottontail, if you drank two bottles?”

in his mind, jeongguk declares jimin a winner. he may not emerge mildly intoxicated, but he certainly will be able to hold down his liquor for the most part. maybe jimin would be down in bed for a while, he doesn't know. he just doesn't want jimin to hurt.

“i can do that,” jimin shoots back instantaneously, running towards the bottle, hoseok already on task of unscrewing the second bottle, meant for him and seokjin. jeongguk feels the tears prick at his eyes, as jimin downs the wine bottle, gulping the liquid down as if it were plain water and didn’t burn. seokjin stares back with twinkling, curious eyes, legs crossed. like it’s a magic show, seokjin stares at jimin’s devotion, keeping his promise to jeongguk’s family. it’s painful to watch, knowing his liver will suffer, but he has no choice. they're pushing jimin to the verge he downs the fucking bottles of wine like a maniac.

wiping the last drop of liquid from his mouth and slamming the glass bottle down on the table, jimin’s hands find purchase on the foldable table to retain his balance, body swaying, head spinning.

he’s straightforward, and to the point. he says it, he adheres to his decisions. park jimin is a man of his word, and seokjin admires that. jimin falls to the floor, knocking the glass down with him as well, dizzy.

blinded by love.

“untie the boy, hoseok.”

“but-”

“do it.”

jeongguk leaps out of his seat to hold jimin, hold him close; without warning, the other lethal men are gone like the wind, vanished at the snap of his fingers, leaving the two of them huddled on the floor. two wounded figures seeking solace.

“does it, does it hurt, jungoo?” jimin hiccups softly into his ear, not one bit of resentment or anger that he landed jimin into this unnecessary plight. “fuck- your cheek, there's going to be a scar-”

“no, it doesn’t,” he says back, caressing jimin’s hair, “let’s get you home, hyung.”

they don’t bring up the matter back at the mansion.


september is coming, meaning that it's jeongguk's birthday. deciding against ruining another surprise, jimin chooses to be upfront about it. “is there anything you would like? you know there's a particular day coming up soon…”

“anything at all?” there's a childlike, innocent sparkle in jeongguk's eyes that lights up, like a carousel. “i know! i'd like an apartment, jimin ssi.”

“what-! you brat-” jimin punches his arm playfully, “you'll inherit whatever's mine if i die, so that's done. next.”

“jimin ssi… don't say that, you'll live for a long time, that's my job!”

“sure, jungoo,” jimin rolls his eyes, but his fond smile says otherwise, “you have to decide now! i won't have you taking a rain check only to come up with a funny idea one month later,”

a kiss.

“j-jimin ssi, um-” he swallows, “really anything?”

“i said what i said. you should hurry before i change my mind.”

“kiss?” jeongguk's eyes are all widened, hopeful even. he's licking his lips as jimin gazes back, and god, jimin's eyes are so beautiful. which part of jimin isn't? “just one will do,” he adds quietly, holding up a timid finger to emphasise his point, oping jimin wouldn't find it weird. the last time he kissed jimin was due to the whole versace thong saga, and they'd left each other hanging. it was awful, wanting to randomly pepper jimin's mochi-like cheeks with all the kisses they deserve. it was so hard to suppress the relentless thoughts when jimin looked like a fucking sculpture of an angel come to life, a pygmalion; god himself was probably galatea.

“you'll need to sit down, then. i'm not going to tiptoe just for this,” jimin mumbles, playing with his rings, and jeongguk wastes no time in grabbing a chair over so that jimin and do his thing. jimin makes sure to pay special attention to the fading gash on jeongguk's left cheek.

his lips are so soft, and he does taste so sweet.


jimin often likes to surprise namjoon and his father when they're in the executive office that's double walled, sneaking up silently- but the shadow of his nimble feet peeking out by the small gap at the bottom of the door gives him away. he's brought them some afternoon coffee and pastries.

“as i was saying, son, i think it is best we remove jimin from whatever he's helping us with on the zodiac case. he's no good.” by pure eavesdropping, jimin can't see his father's pained eyes, calloused hands massaging his temples. “a useless case.” those words could've gone two entirely different ways, but matched up with his previous statement, what is jimin supposed to think? he leaves the snacks by the door, before running off. it's true, isn't it? namjoon is always the best because he's one year older and taller and smarter.

“he left, father.” namjoon breathes, worriedly looking up at the ceo of sk telecoms. whoever that was silly enough to give themselves away by their shadow and rustling of plastic bags must've been someone dear to his father. or else he wouldn't have flipped a complete 360 from the speculated stocks and annual share cuts for the eavesdropper to hear.

“good. now, i want you to remove jimin's ties completely from that bunch we're investigating. kim corporations are run by lunatics, i’m telling you- they’ve engaged in sex and human trafficking and have many unreported violation cases, artificial intelligence engineering using humans as test subjects- you know how jimin exudes a certain charm unknowingly, namjoon? even if he's good at disguising himself, his charming aura is bound to betray him; and that is what i'm afraid of- i had no choice but to do it this way, you understand?”

“yes, father.”

but jimin is also someone who needs a lot of love and attention, he wanted to say, but knew better than that.


the lab report regarding the big lapis lazuli ring of taehyung’s came back.

it seems there were a unique mineral found in its composition, from a mine in gwangju, or kuangju-gwangyoksi , location of the source of mineral deposit close to the heart of the gwangju uprising- otherwise known as the gwangju massacre.

 

seokjin and hoseok had resided in gwangju for 'business transactions' at that point in time.


jeongguk’s busy with personal affairs on his day off, popping into multiple jewelry shops like bvlgari, cartier, tiffany and co. to make some enquiries. he even visits some florist shops to learn about bouquets and flowers, since it’s not everyday that he gets the entire day off to himself, jimin being down with office paper work.

it’s also not everyday that jimin sends him a vague text telling him to come home right now, without any emoji, punctuation, or context.

emptied bottles of whiskey and bourbon are strewn on the floor, soju on the table, champagne ready to be popped; in vital times like this, jimin wonders why it takes him so many bottles to get drunk- people usually think he’s a lightweight, and they’re always right in their ways of thinking.

jeongguk bursts through the door when he empties another can of beer.

“i’m sorry, jimin ssi, i came as fast i could, from-”

“why didn't you come at once? you don't love me, nobody does!” he doesn’t know why he’s throwing a jejune tantrum, getting so emotional, all caught up in his feelings. jeongguk came at once, the minute, rational side left of his brain tells him, the other regions completely clouded over, from having a drop too much. it's no use.

it’s only gotten worse since changwon. the hazy vision, the repercussions of people jeering him and mocking him at social events, the men that want to pay him to come and go between their legs because he apparently has a phenomenal pair of lips that were, he replays, ‘made to suck dick’. it’s horrible, the voices in his head, the talking heads that emit voice. it's no use.

it hurts.

“hurry up, go ahead and fuck me, my body is here for you to use! go ahead, please-” he aggressively attempts to yank off his shirt, yves saint laurent poplin cotton. how can an angel break my heart? reads off the collar, letting it slide off his shoulders, as his eyes glazes over the embroidery, jeongguk wants to say the exact words to jimin, so badly. and suddenly, the man dressed from head to toe in balenciaga, louis vuitton and lanvin, with the shadow of a prince and gait of a model suddenly looks so small; like a fragile jewel forced to be hidden and buried in dirt to be kept safe.

“that's what all of you want, isn't it?” the smile that jimin forces on as he forces jeongguk onto the mattress is everything but happy, nothing but heartbreaking.

it's all brokenness.

“come here, i'll pleasure you instead, i'm- i’m good at that, right? so please-”

“jimin, don’t do this, please…” jeongguk soothes, pulling him into a hug, and jimin involuntarily starts to cry. jeongguk is important to him; his father may think lowly of him, the other snobby people in his social circle may, but jeongguk cannot. jimin won’t be able to afford it, even if he has a net worth and price upon his head worth more than seven figures.

jimin is someone who needs a lot of love and attention, jeongguk thinks quietly.

you’ve always had mine.

“if i'm top student in chemistry and math, namjoon hyung will most definitely be top student for mathematics, chemistry, philosophy, literature, and physics- and on top of that still become valedictorian. it's no use, jeongguk, i’m not-”

i’m the second son, i’ll always be second.

jeongguk knows how much jimin hates being vulnerable, defenceless, unguarded- unalike the unattainable, confident, beautiful park jimin everybody witnesses in the day. jimin is like a morning glory, beautiful when in bloom, but chooses only to peak at specific timings; he's a rare specimen, a gift that keeps giving. a self made labyrinth, he gives jeongguk a ball of red string for him to try and figure his way in, out, through. jeongguk only has one try, or he'll be eaten up by the minotaur as a sacrifice.

“you still have me, if that counts,” jeongguk murmurs into his hair, only to find out jimin’s fallen asleep, tired from crying.


this is it. today is the day.

jimin’s very willingly given him the day off, allowing him ample time to prepare for a very special moment. jimin’s had an exceptional piece done for him today, reminiscent of the 2016 pre-fall valentino collection. crystal stars joined point-to-point on black tulle, joined by celestial imagery like planets, constellations and the moon embroidered to become a black lace kimono gown; its sheer delicacy interrupted by a thick leather belt, embroidered with a dragon identical to the one on jeongguk’s arm. the v-line drape of the bustier embellished with tiny ornate flowers and loral appliqué, to make it look the perfect blend between whimsical and chic. the thigh high socks he’s wearing are black with lace trim, so as not to take away the delightful, aesthetic charm of the minidress-like garment.

the moment he locks eyes with jimin, jeongguk is stunned, standing rooted to the spot, hand still clasping the doorknob. what is jimin wearing? he’d wanted to take jimin out, but perhaps not anymore. he, for a second, actually gleans fear and insecurity in jimin's eyes as he kneels on the bed, waiting and exposed.

“am… am i not pretty enough?”

jeongguk swallows and gives no answer, walking towards jimin, joining him by sitting on the edge of the mattress. the big bouquet he's gotten for jimin lies in the foyer, forgotten. with every ticking second, the hands that frantically grab his arms grow tighter, jimin's gorgeous, glassy eyes shifting back and forth just to find any trace of an answer.

“it's the red lipstick i saved for you, the one you said i looked beautiful in, remember? see?”

jimin clambers to reach for the gold tube, blindly knocking over two bottles of perfume and cologne, the sound of other exquisite and expensive cosmetics clanking to the floor. he tenderly holds the yves saint laurent lipstick like it's worth diamonds and silver, popping it open and twisting it to show jeongguk, right in front of his face; his lips are quivering, hands trembling- so ardent, so desperate- and yet jeongguk looks away, not showing the least bit of interest in his facial expression, apart from the intensive biting of his lips that jimin's positive will bleed anytime soon.

“a-answer me, jeongguk! am i not pretty enough? i dressed up for you- i, i lit your favourite candles! what did i do wrong? do you... not remember the date today? is this outfit too ugly? i even used the soap and scent you like, jeongguk-” there are tears that prick the corner of his eyes, welling up, threatening to fall as they trickle out, and it breaks every smithereen left of jeongguk's heart that was never mended. maybe what he felt wasn't love, but pity, sympathy. maybe he was forcing his way onto jeongguk, who was just taking his job seriously, with him being a brat, spoiled and demanding. maybe-

“jimin-”

“is… is your favourite colour no longer red?” it almost sounds like a small plea, a whimper, as jimin grips the lipstick tightly, tears starting to fall like twinkling stars. he deliriously uses the back of his hand to wipe away any trace of red on his lips, smudging it all over his chin and jaw, rummaging through the drawer of the dresser, desirous. lipsticks and different products being tossed out and strewn all over. “is… is pink okay? j-jeongguk? i still- i still have some pinks-”

you’re all i ever wanted in this life, please- i want you, i still want you-

i need you, please, i'll do anything for you to stay with me- anything at all-

the look in his eyes makes jeongguk want to punch a wall for being such a monster, pushing jimin to the verge of such vulnerability, falling through the cracks that should never have surfaced- jimin is desperate, on his knees due to his incapacity to eloquently and brazenly string his ideas out into words, to conceptualise a future that isn't bleak or blank, should he have bluntly confessed; and it hurts, hurts so fucking bad to see. maybe it isn’t the drugs acting as opiates, it’s himself moving on instinct, on innate want, primal need.

sometimes i just want you so bad but you know we can't- but i love you, i do-

but i still want you.

i need you.

“jimin, stop this-” his voice is hoarse, pained.

“stop? okay, y-you know what,” jimin hiccups, harshly scrubbing at his eyes with the back of his hand, plastering the worst fake smile jeongguk as seen in his whole life, even more painful to witness than getting shot or stabbed. “t-then hurry up, just f-fuck me, then i will- i'll go-”

“hey, listen to me-”

“i'm just here for a quick fuck, okay? d-don't let my efforts go to waste,” jimin sniffs, laughs out loud at his stupidity as if he were on cloud nine, literally on his knees on his and jeongguk's bed, so small and cold, and yet ironically seated next to a man that radiated all the warmth he had ever craved in his whole life. “i just want your dick- in me. that's- that’s all i'll ask for. p-please. ” he feels pathetic, having made himself a fool, showing weakness, pleading even; he's supposed to be in command, but it sounds like a question, and not an order; it's nothing but a pitiful plea, to the point that jeongguk could've asked him to beg and kowtow and he would, like a bitch in heat, nothing but an unwanted toy after a few plays, tossed aside and used. he knows he can do that. he knows he would.

jeongguk keeps his mouth clamped shut through jimin's whole monologue, and when the quiver of jimin's luscious lips lead to a whimper and a hiccup, a heartbreaking cry, he can't bear to take no action. jimin is engulfed in his arms in one swift motion, and all it takes is for jeongguk to hold him tight, embrace him for all that he is, for the high and mighty park jimin to come undone in his hands, a sobbing wreck.

“but i want to make love to you. without the ecstasy. just… just us. nothing else.”

“but i-i'm wearing red lipstick,” jimin dumbly cries back, wetting jeongguk's shoulder with his tears. “you don't have to pity me, i deserve-” i deserve to be shunned, i should never have remembered these dates.

you don’t actually love me, do you?

“jimin, please- i remember, look.” out of his pocket comes two items, one ticket holder, one red box. the latter from cartier- a necklace with a heart locket, engraved with the day they met. it makes jimin cry convulsively, turning on the waterworks, and jeongguk just smiles so broadly with his cute nose scrunched up that all jimin wants to do is kiss him senseless.

“jeongguk, i want, i want a k-” jeongguk shushes him, pressing fingers against his lips and jimin licks the pads of his fingers just to tease him, sniffing in happiness. he's been playing with chuchu for so long he's now like a kitten, too.

“may i kiss you, jimin?”

one thousand days, together.

kissing jeongguk isn’t as spectacular as the fireworks in the night sky on a grand occasion or celebration, but rather the pure bliss of playing with sparklers and running free as a child. wondrous, starstruck, jubilant; kissing jeongguk feels like falling head over heels with a new song you discover, playing it endlessly. it feels like coming home to a home-cooked meal waiting for you, your favourite dish with your favourite people. it feels like spring days and drunken nights. he’s home and nostalgia, flecks of gold; jeongguk is the thousand folded paper cranes made by jimin to become his special wish, personified.

kissing jimin isn’t as warm as the books say, but rather the tingle of your skin when the wind blows after coming out of the swimming pool, the sea. kissing jimin feels like being utterly exhausted and close to knocking out, but you do the thing anyway because you’re passionate about it and it makes you content, makes you feel the unlimited energy to do better and finish strong, it makes you sleep with a thankful smile; it feels like pushing yourself further to feel the adrenaline rush, to satisfy a craving, the feeling of liberation and acceptance. it feels like awkward laughs and self-conscious mumbles, laced with radiant beauty and dusty rose cheeks. jimin is the polaris, the brightest star in the ursa minor constellation- jimin is the star that will always point him home.


the red of their lips come together, melting, molten; a battle for dominance, rubies crushing against garnets. jimin is the warm yellow of honey, the sizzling butter in a heated pan, the gold dust fairies are said to leave behind; jeongguk is the calming shade of baby blue, a loyal shade of royal blue, the azure blue that people call the skyline;

jimin's soft whites and peachy creams meld into jeongguk's blacks and navies, evolving an elegiac, elegant spectrum of grey- iron, pewter, lead; bodies pressed together, as one, they become a regal persian, army green, the shade of matcha ice cream they're fond of sharing.

the pearl and alabaster of jimin's hands find purchase and comfort in stroking the walnut, cinnamon, mocha of jeongguk's hair, the baby strands at the nape of his neck; the blush red lips lean in to kiss thulian pink cheeks, making jimin giggle, like shades of periwinkle, jeongguk's smile crinkle in a contrasting iris tone.


there’s another surprise that lies in store for him, after carefully unravelling jimin in his delicate, beautiful garment, tugging off the ribbons fastening it together slowly, gently, a featherlight touch against jimin's supple skin.

on the waistline of jimin’s lace panties, was a tattoo that said jeongguk's in elegant cursive.

“do you like it? i wanted a dragon too, but i don't have a death wish,” jimin mumbles shyly, “i wasn't too sure if you wanted to add baby behind it, or like, um. baby boy.

jeongguk almost chokes on his spit, coughing into his fist. jeongguk's baby boy. the thought itself was just too much to bear.


there's so much that jimin can afford to lose, so little that people cannot afford to challenge. he himself is a fragile flower, an exquisite pictorial that says more than a thousand words. he deserves to be worshipped, to be loved, to feel whole again.

jeongguk ravishes his skin, kissing every single beauty mark, every stretch mark, every blemish, every imperfection; but an insecure jimin tells him to stop, softly whimpering and telling him he doesn't deserve it- it's always lust when it comes to him, and never love. people are always concerned what his lips can do for them, but never how his lips are the vessel to the deep, heartfelt thoughts he has fizzling out on his tongue. never what his lips have to say.

“but- but i'm not, i'm not clean- i've been used, jeongguk, i don't think-” he's only ever had protected sex and yet now he feels dirty. tainted. unchaste, impure and unsuited for a good, clean man like jeongguk.

“but i fell in love with this park jimin. and that's all i've ever wanted my whole life. just you.”

“jeongguk, tell me, tell me-”

tell me you love me.

“i um, i-” it's just three words, but somehow, when they mean a lot, mean something special, it gets so hard to say.

“it's okay, we can take it slow, it's okay-”

taking a deep breath, jeongguk holds jimin's small hands in his, bringing it up to his lips to kiss them. his pinky finger is terribly adorable.

“i just- i really, i love you so much, jimin.”

it makes jimin's eyes water, when he sees jeongguk's eyes shining, glassy, their hands entwined so tightly, as if it were the end of the world and their last words to each other. if jeongguk cries, there's no doubt jimin would feel the pain equally. there's just something about him that makes him come undone so easily.

jimin's cheeks are so delightful to see when they're blush pink, the apples of his cheeks glowing, the slight overlap of his front teeth poking out of his lush lips, the crinkle of his eyes, the way he uses his hand to cover his face because he gets so shy.

“jeonggukie… i, uh-” his lips are puckered out so cutely it hurts. “i love you…”

it doesn't take very long for them to start kissing again.


“jeonggukie, can i confess to you something?” jimin asks, voice heavy with sleep. “y’know why you always get so sleepy after sex, kookoo? it's… it's because those weren't ecstasy pills or drugs i gave you,” he can see jeongguk's eyes open wide, and he feels sorry for pulling that bluff since their first time together.

“those were ordinary painkillers that induce drowsiness.”

everything you've done was based on your own accord, your own feelings; it was never the 'drugs' talking, jeonggukie- it was all you.

only you.


“how do you feel, jimin?”

jeongguk's looking sheepish after too many love bites and marks on jimin's unmarred skin, too exhilarated and caught up in the overwhelming desire to let jimin know how much he feels. how much love he feels.

jimin rolls into his embrace, sighing, in an oversized shirt that isn't his.

“loved.”


“happy anniversary, jimin hyung.” two tickets to  tokyo get gifted into his hands, as they get ready to sleep, the afterglow of it all settling in like a holographic shine. “i wanted to bring you to the happiest place on earth.”

“but the happiest place on earth is here,” jimin clambers into his lap, arms closing around him ever so lovingly- a natural response by now. his ear fits nicely atop of jeongguk's chest, he can hear the rapid heart palpitations.

“just no… no viking rides, okay?”

“sure, darling, how about the spinning teacups?”


three days later, jeongguk comes back home barging into jimin's room with the biggest smile on his face, looking like an overgrown, excited pup. jimin's puppy prince.

“jimin ssi! i- i love red, see? and, um i love you no matter what colour lips you have…”

he's dyed his hair a fiery shade of red.

“cherry koo?” jimin says, carrying chuchu closer to admire jeongguk's hair. “i still like red!” jeongguk announces cutely, his shoulders shrugging up bashfully, just like he does whenever jimin calls him kookoo.

“do you like it, jimin ssi?”

“i don't like it, i like you.


midway through their ‘date night’, renting out a small pottery place with some of the workers, they get ambushed out of the blue; chloroform is used to sedate them, and before they know it, they've been unsuspectingly been whisked away to a fishing village. what the hell is going on? jimin rouses from the knockout, in some black van, gagged and bound with an unconscious jeongguk leaning on his shoulder. what is this-

the van door slides open, and he feigns being asleep to deter any adverse reaction.


“yoongi- yoongi hyung!” taehyung’s running in to his workspace, with a passcode on the front door. first of all, how did taehyung know the pin? second of all, why is he so alarmed, looking like he ran a marathon?

“yoongi hyung-” the tall boy gasps, eyes teary as he cups yoongi's face in his large hands. yoongi's had a soft spot for him since the day he arrived as jimin's personal assistant, given they came from the same hometown and the boy seemed so lively and lovely.

“what is it?”

“they've taken jiminie and jeongguk- they-” taehyung’s eyes are shifting, left eye twitching like an automated system malfunctioning.

“taehyung, calm down, it's past midnight, breathe-”

when the younger seemingly calms down, yoongi asks him again. “what do you mean? who took jimin and jeongguk? how do you-”

my eye, hyung- i- i can see seokjin's location and detect when danger is imminent,” he whispers, and suddenly it dawns on yoongi that taehyung’s ice blue eye isn't a fad or coloured contacts; it's a fucking eyeball that they infused with some chemicals and a bunch of other shit in an artificial intelligence experiment on a human. what the fuck-

i can't- namjoon hyung will only come back tomorrow-” taehyung’s expression seems so surreal, so delicate and raw for an experiment to create a human autobot; it's almost as if he's fighting himself and berating himself for being useful but useless.

“i'll do what i can, don't worry, taehyung.” he tugs him over to the cream coloured wall, pressing an algorithm into the desktop keyboard. at the ping of a successful passcode, a segment of the wall folds down to reveal an impressive collection of weaponry, gadgets, and technological gizmos. yoongi is an architect, a fixer, an inventor. he tosses taehyung a gun, teaches him how to use some of his tinkerings, enhancements tailored to his benefit.

“know how to use one, don't you?”

he tells taehyung to get some rest before he formulates a foolproof plan.

then, he calls namjoon.


“namjoon?”

“yeah? hyung, isn't it past midnight in korea? why aren't you sleeping?”

“working,” yoongi softly says into the phone, “good morning to you in america.”

“aw, hyung, i know you're a night owl but please get some rest, okay? for me?” he doesn't mean to sound so cheesy, but it has to be said. both yoongi and jimin have the most ridiculous night routines, with jeongguk following suit too.

“namjoon-ah… you know that we've lived together for seven years, right?” his nail bitten thumb starts fiddling with the platinum band on his fourth finger, turning it round and round in a cathartic rhythm.

“hyung...” yoongi rarely calls him namjoon-ah, unless he's caught off guard or it's something important or when he's feeling too many things at once. “namjoon-ah, you know what i've always felt towards you, right?”

“yoongi, why are you getting all sentimental? we still have a long way to go, you know.” it makes yoongi smile nostalgically, he almost can feel namjoon’s cute dimples and soft smile.

“yeah. i know. sorry, got a little emotional because you're not here.”

“hyung… i'm coming back tomorrow! i'll give you a huge hug, okay? i'll bring back a giant kumamon for you, if you want!”

“don't be stupid… how will you lug that back in the airport?” only namjoon is capable of bringing out his gummy smile at the slightest of things, things of little significance in terms of milestones, but large in terms of memories.

“i'm buying it, then!” he can hear namjoon laughing on the opposite end, probably shyly hiding his hand into the crook of his elbow.

“i love you, namjoon-ah.”

“what! hyung, you just- it's not even our anniversary, did you just- i love you too…” the sound of namjoon’s rambling about not recording this monumental audio makes him feel highly appreciated, eyes watery as he presses his lips to the engagement ring belonging exclusively to them, letting namjoon babble on into his phone, his voice a purifying melody.

 

yoongi left behind for him a little collection of baby frogs and two tiny crabs called suga and monie.


he knows that whoever the hell took jimin and jeongguk must be asking for a death wish. yoongi is an excellent sharpshooter. the moment he sees a bunch of men guarding the entrance of an isolated warehouse in yeongdeok, he knows who lies inside. the gun inside his suit pocket is cocked and ready to fire. daegae wonjo village, or the snow crab village, was someplace namjoon would've loved.

the guards let taehyung pass, thinking he's one of them, with yoongi following closely behind. if there were three at the door, there had to be more men inside. he doesn't know what these kims are after, but he knows jimin and jeongguk won't be dead until their terms are rejected- they're held captive as pawns to negotiate their stand.

the plan is simple- yoongi and taehyung take down the rest of the men while namjoon comes to aid with another squadron of men if needed. simple. all taehyung has to do is head towards jimin and get him free, followed by jeongguk, while yoongi distracts them and pulls them into a head-on tackle. it should be simple.

“i've brought him, seokjin hyung.”

what?

he sees jimin's eyes go wide, jeongguk kicking the sand on the floor in anguish. no wonder why taehyung was sent back to them so easily, he was a spy. a mole. saying jimin felt betrayed in that moment would've been an understatement.

“taehyung, i thought-” didn't we fucking say to rescue them first? did you just switch sides right under my nose-

“yoongi,” the man with sandy blonde hair says warmly, “could i offer you a drink? how about-”

“shut up,” yoongi spits, gun aimed at his head, “you let jimin and jeongguk go. then we talk.”

another three men close around him, pointing automatics at him, one at point blank. he's walked into his own trap. i love you, namjoon. hoseok laughs cruelly when he sees yoongi swallow, eyes squeezed shut. the warehouse was a barren, vacated one far from the fishing port, all holed up on its own, wooden planks hammered on the outside to cover any trace of life. the only thing there to differentiate day or night was the sole light hanging from the ceiling, the light that filtered through tiny holes gnawed off by mites.

“bring him nearer to me,” his henchmen do as instructed, yoongi inching forward with the escort of three guns, until he reaches the chair seokjin sits freely in, reaches out to hold his hands.

“you are so beautiful up close,” seokjin whispers, inspecting his face, his simple suit and tie that namjoon bought for him. he sees taehyung reject all eye contact with any member of the park household, hears jeongguk grunt and jimin loudly protesting as muffled noise in the background. yoongi's trying his best not to flinch, his hands shakily betraying him, breath hitching. his gun’s been tossed aside by one of the guards. “of course i had to bait the small fish to reel in the big one- i've been watching you since chanyeol’s little gala.”

 

suddenly, everything clicks into place.

 

seokjin let taehyung infiltrate their defences, his ruse to let him go so easily; the perfunctory capture of jeongguk a mere gambit to the big picture, testing jimin's devotion a sideshow to his major ruse.

he tells the guards to stand down, eyes running over yoongi's veiny hands. two rings. one platinum band with namjoon, one lapis lazuli ring from namjoon.

“where did you get this from?” hoseok's voice utters, as seokjin traces over the rectangular jewel, taehyung bends over to tie the laces of his boots. the sight of the ring similar to taehyung’s isn't the only thing rendering jimin befuddled. “namjoon gave it to me.”

“namjoon? kim namjoon?

“what- he's a park, not a kim-

“no, this is definitely one of ours, right? hos-”

the penknife skidded over by taehyung as he knelt down allowed jimin to saw off the ropes, break jeongguk free. picking up yoongi's gun from the floor, jimin shot down two of the men holding him captive, jeongguk tackling the other bodily. the rapid change of events resulted in a scuffle between both sides, more backup rushing in to protect seokjin and hoseok, taehyung causing confusion in the commotion since his stance was unclear.

left with a piles of motionless bodies, seokjin slowly took out his own handgun, causing jeongguk, and jimin having at gunpoint, weapons garnered from the injured men on the floor. hoseok aimed his automatic at yoongi, taehyung at hoseok.

seokjin pointed the gun to his own head.

“it seems like you're the thing i wanted but couldn't have in this lifetime.”

before he could pull the trigger, hoseok jabbed him with a tube of transparent liquid, ordering them to drop their weapons. taehyung lowered his when hoseok put the gun back into its holster, the other two slowly placing the ammunition on the ground.

“will he die?”

“he's not allowed to.” hoseok says softly to yoongi, and at the snap of his fingers, the light bulb swinging above them explodes. in the dark, they hear another shot, and a groan of agony.

when jeongguk lights a match, taehyung was on the floor, grabbing his chest in pain. but the shot fired in the dark spared him from death, since yoongi had armed with a bulletproof vest.

seokjin and hoseok were gone.


taehyung tells him that within two days, seokjin will be sent to this unique location on a desolate island- for facial reconstruction yet again.

“he's been doing this for too many times, almost like he's a walking marie antoinette doll, a character being restarted like a pc game.” taehyung explained, five of them at the holographic table. once taehyung keyed in a certain coded file from his usb drive, the folder on kim seokjin popped out. it seemed that taehyung really was the owner of a genius, brilliant mind, framed by an intricately styled mullet.

“my eye is digitally remastered to be able to track his location in a three dimensional scope, something like how this table is able to zoom in on specifics like this,” taehyung smoothly maneuvers through the digital information, expanding the island that was the operating base for the last eight surgeries. once he keyed in a certain sequence of numbers, the list of the black doctor’s specifications appeared, complete with as much personal information taehyung had collected on him- including amount of embezzled funds that he had a share in, number of dealings he had in the black market when it came to selling of human organs made yoongi feel sick; he could feel namjoon protectively curl his hands around him to hold him steady.

“seokjin hyung let me come back here because he wanted his time to be up, and he didn't want me to live with hoseok. he says hoseok is dangerous, but i don't have concrete evidence for his crimes and allegations as of yet. he's like a closed book that can't be open, even by force.”

the discussion ran on, putting together pieces and clues from opposing houses, until it came down to the crucial question.

“everyone, there is a microchip planted in seokjin's neck that allows me to track him down. officially, his nine lives are up when the chip no longer functions- meaning it has been extracted out, or it dies together with him.” the realisation of such a severe predicament resulted in dead silence, taehyung softly adding, “i promised to save him, to end his misery because he took care of me, like an older brother.”

jimin slams a tiny determined hand on the tabletop, causing the popup map of the island to deactivate into opaque glass. “i'll operate on him.”

“jimin ssi, you can't-” jeongguk protests, raising his hand, “you don't even look like him!”

“well, sweetheart, i'm a havard medicine graduate. and also, prosthetics exists.”


“where's the first deposit?” his voice is artificially lowered his voice to mimic the previous shady man, and all goes as per normal. taehyung had hacked one of the cables in previous operations to decipher how the procedures went, so there was no issue in replaying it over and over to reenact the exact same way of speech and mannerisms as the now dead surgeon.

byeongpung-do was an uninhabited island in the southern extremity of south jeolla. once considered under a state where gwangju was named capital, it became a deserted island, known for being captured in the background of the sewol ferry tragedy footage. since then, rumours of ghosts and hauntings were reported, and it was left to fend for itself.

beyond the thick groves of bay trees, all that was left was bare rocks and sand. the small white unit to perform underhanded surgery was erected here solely for its elusiveness and difficulty to travel to. hoseok leaves the wads of cash in a duffel bag, allowing the bills to be checked and deemed as authentic bills, as per the shrewd doctor’s actions. departing, jimin begins the surgery.

“vitals?”

“together with general anaesthesia, epidural administered at c5/6- blood pressure 90, heart rate 76.” heeyeon reports. they've hired two of their own surgical assistants, wearing masks and mild makeup to conceal their identity.

“scalpel.” first assistant oh sehun hands it over. he's quick with his hands, and the list goes on. kelly, pean, mosquito forceps, metzenbaum scissors.

“ligation, 3-0 nylon. thread only.”

the accuracy of this operation needs to be eerily adhered to- just a slight tweak of a nerve, rupture of a blood vessel, could very well result in death, or permanent paralysis, a state of vegetation. finally, he throws down the microchip, put together with some spongy tissue from pig innards, asking the surgical assistant to wipe off his sweat. with animal blood everywhere and seokjin’s body is covered with white sheet, it should be easy to imply what it meant. he finishes in record time, allowing him to fix his insoles, adjust his shoulder pads and double check his mask to ensure the face of the late doctor is still pasted on smoothly.

he finally understood why taehyung mentioned seokjin was fearful of his personal manservant- he had a small dragon tattoo on his shoulder, dabbed over harshly with concealer, as if the user was in a rush.

a scan in the database told jimin he was born in the year of the rooster.

“guess you understand his time's up, mister. eight major surgical reconstructions plus many imbibed medicines… little can be done, i'm afraid.”

something in hoseok's eyes make a shiver run down jimin's spine, blood curdle, as he gingerly picks up the bloodied microchip, puts it into a small plastic from his vest pocket, as if it were premeditated. heeyeon and sehun have been dismissed- jimin doesn't want to see them dead for no good reason, they helped to save someone else's life today.

“i understand. it was expected, i guess. seokjin’s done very well. for now i'll have to go back and report this to the old man. don't worry, doctor lee, a bonus will be deposited to you in due course for your loyalty. i presume you know what to do with the body?”

“perfectly.”

“may i offer you some iced coffee?” hoseok sweetly says, placing two cans of lotte coffee on one of the surgical trays. “i would advise you to drink it after disposing whatever need be- the weather’s pretty hot these days, eh?”

“yes, yes- thank you for your patronage once again, mister. it's been an honour-” after getting up from his deep bow, the doctor sees hoseok waving a dismissive hand to cut him off. thank goodness. this old doctor was really something when it came to bootlicking and ass kissing. good riddance.

“enough of the formalities. just make sure you get the job done quick and take a drink, yeah? don't want people running their mouths we ill-treat them or whatsoever,” hoseok heads for the door, and jimin hears a click. they're locked in.

“i knew it, fucking bastard,” jimin curses, mentally preparing himself for the worst, putting on fireproof clothes for him and jin, peeling off the immensely suffocating prosthetics and props. he steals a can of coffee into his attire to run it for tests later. he doesn't even need to tests to know what's contained inside, other than coffee.

he shoots a quick text to jeongguk and namjoon, mentally prepared as he hears the sloshes of kerosene outside. of course the cursed man would've wanted them dead after the whole job. at least he didn't recognise jimin under the taping to alter his eye shape, the silvery hairspray, fake balding spots, amidst drastic alterations to his dressing and attire. the surgical mask and goggles, complete with surgical gown and lab coat after in tandem with professional latex surgical gloves helped lots with the disguise to make it as convincing as possible.

the splashing of liquid dies down as jimin checks for seokjin’s pulse, hearing gunshots fired in the distance, making sure his heartbeat is normal. it just takes a little while more for jimin to hear jeongguk breaking through the door, along with a small team of men to take them back to safety. hoseok's vanished into thin air, possibly having a getaway ferry or speedboat ready. he takes the hideous bag of cash along, it would be useful to buy seokjin some stuff if he wanted.

needless to say, the reports came back showing that the coffee contained traces of paraquat.


hoseok reports back with the bloody microchip, back to the old man. placing the plastic on the table, he takes the form of a meek sheep, clear the old man can only see vague shapes and colours, needs to be reliant on his servants to be his sight.

“seokjin has expired, my lord. he failed in the transition to his ninth life.”

finally, i will leave.

“so the boy is dead? that's it. you have fulfilled your contract, right? you may leave.”

“but sir, i still have to take care of-”

“there's no more need for you, seok- boy. start packing before i'm forced to use force or call security- you know how we work-”

of course i do, i'm using it against you, fool.

“but my bonus promised-”

“will be transferred later. now scram!”

you addressed him, but you meant to raised me to be a cancer, a virus, didn't you?

“i understand.” he pushes the glass of iced tea towards the bald man, sitting in his chair. “allow me to serve you one last time, my lord.”

good fucking bye to you, sir.

iced tea with the smell of bitter almonds guised as insulin it is. potassium cyanide was pretty effective, huh.

 

he's always hated the old man. always.


“jimin? am i still a kim?”

“not anymore, hyung, you're a new person with one life. just one. you're now one of my family members. your name is park jin.”

seokjin's dyed his hair a fluffy baby pink, kept his exact handsome face from the last reconstruction. according to taehyung’s knowledge, seokjin's memories in each cycle of a life would be wiped out using a certain clear fluid, followed by the injection of specific memories or images he was forced to remember- such as hoseok being his loyal servant, the ceo of kim corporations being his ‘saviour’ and creator.

if it could be done, then the reverse could be executed, too. jimin arranged for the happy memories to be kept, new relations to be added in. seokjin now thinks he has a whole family of brothers, and he's terribly fond of taehyung, and excited for jimin and jeongguk's wedding, even though the couple only wore matching bvlgari rings with a black stripe indent in them.


a few years ago, the woman whom hoseok had tried to court had shunned him, calling him ugly and useless- she'd been adopted into the servant's circle to earn a living, being an orphan to an institution that was closing its doors. hoseok had clearly been blind.

she was perpetually a moody person, but as compared to all the others, a proficient worker. as fate would have it, she soon was promoted to the old man’s personal caretaker. initially, it was just having to take care of his eye drops and medicines at regular intervals- then his health deteriorated with a bad fall, being bedridden half the time, or binded to a wheelchair. soon, the incresingly frequent incontinence came in addition to his quick temper, angry and outraged that his limbs would not budge, that he could not even read magnified text. his hair was falling out with every brush of the comb. she bore the brunt of having food thrown at her, ridiculous orders barked in her direction.

of course, hoseok had put in a good word for her to get her to her current status; it was all in the grand scheme of things. paraquat would be too easy of a punishment. living a life in nothing but misery and agony would be more apt.

 

her previous name was unknown, but the old man and his failing memory had started calling her rachel.


two weeks later, seokjin reads the headlines that his presumed father, head of kim corporations, has been pronounced dead. coroners are unsure as to rule it a suicide or unnatural death. the reason: autopsy results show undetectable traces of paraquat or banned substances- instead, an overdose in iced tea based on atropine, a large chemical component in eye drops. everybody that attended to him knew how his vision was failing him. his hair that was dropping in tufts were assumed to be of old age- but no, it was a sign of thallium poisoning; colorless, odorless, and tasteless.

the headlines published the much awaited topic to every tycoon’s death- the will and division of inheritance. there were indeed three sons to the kim conglomerate- the eldest one named kim minseok was to inherit the majority, apart from the patriarch’s estranged spouse, and other assets to be predominantly divided between two other sons, suspected to be borne by a mistress. one was kim taehyung, the other a kim namjoon.

the only semblance of foul play would be the carving of the shaky, nearly unintelligible words finally deciphered as rache on the man's right arm- but the conclusion came to a dead end when it was found he was left-handed: he was trying to help them locate his killer in his last moments.

the windows had been flung open at the crime scene, door locked from the inside. when they got wind of one of the maids trying to flee the country, detained by the customs, he incapable police force and their ‘brilliant detectives’ all drew the same optimistic outcome- that rachel was scared after committing cold blooded murder; accounts from other servants in the house had too witnessed her lamenting and being bitter and resentful towards the old man’s deteriorating state, vouching for her hostility in recent arguments with the old sir, over tiny things like food and medication. one of the servants even added that over their last spat a week ago, when she was stomping back to her quarters, she solemnly swore she wished he were dead so she could be free and leave the country with this year's salary bonus.

true enough to conjecture, she was one of the only few persons that were indeed accessible to the causes of death, planted to look like accidental suicide. the old man kept a gun that was fully loaded in his drawer, but showed no sign of struggle to use it- meaning the killer was someone he was familiar with: rachel. there was no way anything could've gone wrong. they had her detained, ready to be sentenced.

surprisingly so, the old man’s will was discovered to be altered recently- the biggest of course, going to his sons, biological and illegitimate, some of it somehow getting filtered into smaller subsidiaries of the park empire. another lump sum got transferred to a mysterious account in america, under the name of jay. but of course, not a single cent went to the maid, which further solidified her vengeful alibi and agenda towards the unfair treatment despite her years of service.

however, their investigations over the other members of the household failed to be thorough enough; unknown man- then named jung hoseok- worked under a segment of kim corporations dealing with international relations and foreign affairs alongside illegitimate son kim seokjin. apart from korean and japanese, he spoke english, chinese, thai, russian and german.

also, rache meant revenge, or vengeance, in german.


it's the 13th of october, friday the thirteenth. just as they're about to leave to celebrate jimin's birthday at a surprise dinner location, the doorbell rings. the six of them are all dressed up and ready to go when one of the butlers tell him that the delivery man had a parcel for jimin- he frowns, not remembering he'd ordered anything, but nonetheless opens the carton with mild apprehension. maybe it could be a birthday gift from a distant relative.

there's one can of cola for taehyung, banana milk for jeongguk, and four other cans of lotte coffee- specifically labelled with each of their names.

 

including park jin.