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The bedroom door clicks open and Baekhyun stands as Jongdae enters.  The cut of his suit frames his body perfectly, and Baekhyun moves into place behind him as Jongdae looks at himself in the mirror.

Jongdae’s eyes, highlighted with gold dust, meet Baekhyun’s in the glass.

“Do I look good?”  Jongdae asks.

Baekhyun bobs his head, notching his chin over Jongdae’s shoulder.  “Good enough that I want to stay in tonight to tell you how much.”

Jongdae laughs, spinning around so he can kiss Baekhyun.  Baekhyun lets himself be kissed, curling his fingers into the stiff lapels of Jongdae’s suit.  He catches sight of Minseok watching them in the mirror and swallows thickly, only for Jongdae to kiss his mouth open again.

Eventually, they break apart, and Baekhyun lets himself fall back against the wall, yanking Jongdae against him.

“Is that a gun in your pocket, or—”

The barrel of the gun presses against Baekhyun hip, and Jongdae’s lips turn up, crooked.  Baekhyun feels like his heart is about to jump out of his chest, and pretends it’s because of Jongdae’s smile.

“I’m going to go finish getting dressed.”  Jongdae says, patting Baekhyun gently across his heart.  He’ll be a weapon walking through the front door tonight, and everything will need to be well-hidden to evade the attention of the security guards.

Minseok and Jongdae’s empty whiskey glasses are scattered across the table.  Baekhyun wishes he could reach over and drain the thin layer of alcohol remaining at the bottom of Minseok’s glass.  Even if only as a placebo, it would do wonders to calm his nerves.

But he can’t.  A glass makes Minseok steadier, surer, while Baekhyun is the exact opposite.  He needs every inch of him functioning at maximum capacity tonight.

“In and out.”  Minseok reminds, hand resting across Baekhyun’s chest.  Baekhyun can feel his stuttering heartbeat on Minseok’s fingertips, like Minseok is stealing it away.  “Breathe, Baekhyun.”

“We can do this.”  Minseok says. “In, and out.”


Their stage today is a mansion at the edge of the water, a resplendent monstrosity with dazzling lights that reflect across the dark blue canal.  The host knows how to put on a show even before the show begins, and the wealthier patrons arrive via boat, chatter carrying over the water.  The boat docks for a good hour so that people can disembark in their grandest outfits, an impromptu yet staged fashion runway.

The world can see, and know that they’re not invited.

From the dock, Baekhyun watches, twisting at the cuffs around his wrists.

“Xiumin, Hyun, you’re up.”  Jongdae’s voice comes through his earpiece.  “I’m already in the building.”

Minseok stands.

“Here.”  Baekhyun says, leaning in to straighten the collar of Minseok’s blazer, even though it doesn’t need fixing.  It’s been awhile since he’s seen Minseok dressed up like this, and Baekhyun just wants to touch. There’s a thin line of glitter running down his neck and disappearing into his shirt.

“Why do you have to be so shiny, huh?”  Baekhyun asks.

“You like shiny things.”  Minseok says.

Baekhyun makes a noise of agreement.  It’s how they’d met, all those years ago.  Baekhyun has never been able to resist a solid treasure.

The performance for the night is a modern reinterpretation of the classic Giselle, and Baekhyun clutches the programme to his chest without opening it once.

It’s a striking performance, and if it were any other day, Baekhyun would have been unable to peel his eyes away from the stage.  The male lead, Kai, is flawless in every imaginable way, perfection in every step, every breath. With how effortlessly he moves across the stage, Baekhyun is willing to believe that even the last hair on his head is dancing to the choreography.

Minseok’s hand rests on his knee, and Baekhyun turns to him.

Without saying a word, Minseok casts a subtle glance to the row behind them.

Baekhyun doesn't fool himself into believing they’re inconspicuous.  Circles like these are small enough that everyone knows everyone else’s business.  Born in a family of wealth and politics, with a celebrated penchant for the arts, Baekhyun has been coming to these shows for years, long before he knew he would perform his greatest act yet inside these very walls.

But it is Jongdae who is the star tonight, every eye will be on him, watching, waiting, judging the new, dashing young man who recently came into money and wants to spend it all fitting in.

That’s what they’re banking on.

Baekhyun sees Jongdae up front, already in the company of some of the city’s finest.  His seat is one of the best views in the house, not just for him to watch the ballet, but for the audience to watch him.

His heart is beating nearly double time, and he resists the urge to slip his hand into Minseok’s.  Jongdae may be the star of the show, but Baekhyun is everything else. Front-of-house, playwright, producer, artist and technician.  This is Baekhyun’s world, and if he’s going to bring Minseok and Jongdae into it, he has to make sure that there’s a way out too.

Minseok’s hand wraps around his wrist, and Baekhyun exhales.  Around them, everyone is on their feet. Minseok’s gesturing for him to clap, and Baekhyun follows the action, joining the sea of applause.

But Baekhyun doesn’t hear any of it.  He’s listening for Jongdae’s cue.

All of a sudden he is calm, every nerve that had been alit now waiting low, simmering.  Baekhyun knew he could count on himself when the time came.

When the curtains go down, that’s when the real show begins.


There are six guards patrolling the floor directly above the concert hall, dressed in black with masks over their faces.  It’s part of the theatre of the night as much as it is for protection, Baekhyun thinks. People will talk, knowing that they share the building with something exceptional, but not knowing what.

There’s nothing more thrilling than a hint of danger.

Baekhyun ascends the staircase, making no move to hide.  Two guards immediately meet him at the top stair.

“What are you doing here?”

“There’s a long line at the bathroom downstairs, I was wondering if there was one up here I could use?”  Baekhyun says smoothly. Jongdae, the actual person holding up the line in the powder room, laughs.

The second guard shakes his head, annoyed.  He disappears back into the drawing room, leaving his coworker to deal with Baekhyun.

“This floor is off-limits.  Go wait in line.”

There’s a bathroom barely a few feet away, directly behind the guard, and Baekhyun lets his gaze trail longingly at the door.

“Go.”  The guard says.  He takes a threatening step forward, and his knees buckle.  In the blink of an eye he’s lying on the ground, Minseok standing behind him.  When Baekhyun slips into the drawing room, he finds the other guard unconscious on the floor, wrapped neatly like a present.

Minseok is already tying the second guard to an armchair.  He heads for the window, sheer curtain billowing gently in the night air.

“I can’t believe I’m scaling walls in this weather while you get a tour of the mansion.”  Minseok says, no heat to his voice.

“Thank you, darling, you know I’m afraid of heights.”  Baekhyun says. “I’ll meet you upstairs?”


They disarm a grand total of twenty-two men before reaching the safe.  Baekhyun’s breathing heavily, but he kneels before the locked door and picks it in under three seconds, pushing his way past the first obstacle.  Outside the door, Minseok silently lets another body drop.

“Hyun, I’m out.”  Jongdae’s voice comes.

Just in time.

Baekhyun unlocks the second door and disables the sensors, stepping into the final room.  He’s only touched the cold steel when the alarms suddenly go off above his head, deafening.  Baekhyun drops to a crouch, clapping his hands over his ears.


“It wasn’t you.”  Jongdae says, voice eerily calm.  “There’s— there’s someone else coming for the diamond.  They tripped the sensors on the third floor balcony.”

“No.”  Baekhyun says, his blood running cold.

“It’s okay.”  Jongdae says. “Keep going.  If they’re on the third floor, it’ll take them at least two minutes to get to the safe.”

Baekhyun moves on auto-pilot, and the commotion around him fades away.  Minseok will come for him in exactly sixty seconds, Baekhyun will have the diamond, and the final trick of the night will be their disappearing act.

It’s a wonder Baekhyun can hear the noise of the gears over the screaming alarm, but it’s all he can hear now, focused solely on getting into the safe.  Jongdae doesn’t speak, and it’s the longest forty-three seconds of Baekhyun’s life before the mechanism makes a low whirring noise.

The door pops open.

“Thank god.”  Jongdae says, hearing the sound clear as day.

Baekhyun peels the door back, ready to grab his prize, but—

The diamond isn’t there.

The world stops turning.  Frantic, Baekhyun claws at the sturdy walls of the safe, hoping for a hidden compartment, a trap, anything.  His fingers snag against something, wedged against the roof.

It’s a single playing card.  Baekhyun flips it over.

Ace of diamonds.

“Hyun?  What are you doing?  Get moving.”

“It isn’t here.”  Baekhyun says, throat parched.


“The diamond.  It isn’t here.”  Baekhyun says. His mind is starting to feel foggy, working in overdrive to put the pieces together.  The words don’t make sense— they’ve prepared so many backup plans, but this wasn’t ever a possibility.

The door rattles open.

“What are you still doing here.”  Minseok’s voice hisses from the entryway.  He’s dressed as security, mask pulled over his face, and if he’s here, it means the rest of them won’t be far behind.

“The diamond is gone.”  Baekhyun says, and he meets Minseok’s wide eyes, bright with terror.  Minseok stares at the empty safe, and back at Baekhyun’s face.

“You have to go.”  Minseok says, pulling Baekhyun to his feet.  Baekhyun accidentally crumbles the playing card between his fingers, stumbling along behind Minseok.

“Security is coming through the west wing.  I need you to go north.” Jongdae’s voice says into Baekhyun’s ear.  “I can pick you up along the garden walls.”

Backup plan C, diamond excluded.

“The diamond—”  Baekhyun begins.

“Fuck the diamond.”  Minseok says sharply.

Baekhyun turns his gaze to the right, just enough to distantly recall the sound of running footsteps he’d heard when they’d first come onto the floor.  At the time, he’d assumed that it was merely some guards, but rapid mental math tells him that there were two extra sets of footsteps. Two people unaccounted for.

There’s no way the diamond was moved before the party.  It’s always in the safe, and it isn’t ever moved until the next morning.  Unless— unless the team that had tripped the sensors hadn’t been breaking in— they’d been breaking out.

Baekhyun yanks himself out of Minseok’s grip.

“Don’t.”  Minseok growls, and suddenly Baekhyun is staring directly into the barrel of a gun.

“Minseok, what the fuck.”

“I need you out of here now .”  Minseok says.

“You would shoot me to keep me safe?”  Baekhyun asks incredulously.

“You’d never make it any other way.”  Minseok says. “Please, Baekhyun. Meet Jongdae in the garden.”

Baekhyun turns on his heels, fuming, and Minseok follows with the gun at point-blank range.  Baekhyun doesn’t even care.

“You’re not going to shoot me.  Who is going to believe that poor I, hapless victim, was shot in the middle of the very safe that was just robbed?”

“They could have taken you as a hostage.  Used you to find their way around the mansion.  You underestimate how much people love you, Baekhyun.”  Minseok says. “When it comes to you, the people are willing to believe anything.”

“You’re a magician, Minseok, but not even you can get the audience to fall for something like that.”  Baekhyun says.

The sound of the approaching guards looms close, barely out of sight.  From where they’re coming, they’ll see Minseok first, see him as one of them, with a gun trained on an unknowable culprit.  It’s a good thing.

“Tell them you saw me.”  Baekhyun says. “Tell them I outnumbered you.  Tell them I headed towards the north court.”

Baekhyun hears the very moment the guards catch sight of Minseok, but doesn’t wait to hear the lies.  He breaks into a sprint, going south.


“Jongdae.”  Baekhyun whispers.

“I’m here, Baekhyun.”  Jongdae says. “Tell me what you need.”

“The quickest way to the roof.”  Baekhyun says.

“Sharp left.”  Jongdae says. “It’s four flights of stairs.”

Baekhyun goes, his heart pounding in his chest.

It’s stupid, and desperate, and Baekhyun needs it to work more than anything.


He bursts out into the freezing night, the door giving easily against the snow.  Someone had come here before him.

Someone, who is still standing on the roof, staring back at Baekhyun.

“Kai?”  Baekhyun says, dazed.  It’s the ballet dancer.

“Jongin, we’re leaving!”  Someone says, and a lean figure uncurls from the ledge of the roof.  He’s wearing a mask, not unlike the one Minseok had stolen from the guards.  “Why hello. Jongin, you’ve found a fan.”

A third man steps out of the shadows.  He, too, is masked. His gun is trained on Baekhyun lazily, like he doesn’t expect Baekhyun to be a threat.


Baekhyun lunges low, ducking past Kai and kicking the gun out of the third man’s hold before any of them can react.  The second man grabs him around the middle and Baekhyun kicks off against a rusted pipe, sweeping the makeshift weapon under their feet when it gives into his palm.

Kai’s reaction is immediate, light on his feet as he is, but the other man isn’t as quick.  The ground is snowy, slippery, and he stumbles backwards. His companion catches him by the elbow before he can fall, and Baekhyun is on them in an instant, having located the diamond, hooked in a pouch around the third man’s wrist.

He slides the knife out of his sleeve, and watches the way their eyes go wide at the sight of the shining blade.  It’s Minseok’s masterpiece: stolen, bartered, traded and forged.

It’s never failed to cut through anything yet, and Baekhyun wills it to work this time, bringing down with the knife with an unparalleled ferocity.

The man yanks away, throwing his arm up— yes, good—and Baekhyun slashes the pouch open, letting the diamond fall into the snow.

“We have to go!  Let him have it!”  Kai shouts. He’s gathered at the outer boundary of the roof with the second man, and hisses, “Move, Sehun!”

Sehun flies to join them, lightning-quick.  He looks back at Baekhyun, shoulders heaving slightly from the quick burst of exertion.

Kai, long-limbed and graceful, takes a few steps away from the line.  Their hands are entwined, all three of them, like they’re about to do a curtain call.  But instead of facing Baekhyun, they look towards the ocean, break into a run after a wordless but synchronized countdown, and vanish beyond the edge of the roof.

Baekhyun scrambles after them, dropping to his knees in the wet snow, the diamond sharp as cut glass in his frozen hands.

“I have it.”  Baekhyun says aloud, cold seeping into the material of his pants.  He pushes to his feet. “I have the diamond. They jumped off the roof and onto a boat.”

Kai is looking up at him, and the other two have pulled off their masks, hair tousling in the night breeze.  Three faces stare up at Baekhyun, too far away for Baekhyun to make out their details.

“How are you going to get out.”  Jongdae says.

“Meet you in the garden?”  Baekhyun says weakly.

Baekhyun unzips the inner pocket of his jacket and slips the diamond inside, securing it.  He heads to the door of the roof, hearing the commotion echoing up the stairway. The guards are still looking.

“What’s the name of the boat?”  Jongdae asks.


“What is the name of the boat.”  Jongdae says.

“The Black Pearl.”  Baekhyun says. “Doesn’t look like much of a ghost ship to me.”

“The Black Pearl.”  Jongdae repeats. “Of course it is.”

“I’ll go down by the east wing walls.”  Baekhyun says. “Sneak back into the party.  I’m known for staying late, after all.”

“Not without Minseok.”  Jongdae says.

“We could have had a fight.”  Baekhyun offers.

He’s surprised the guards haven’t found him yet.  Maybe Minseok is leading them on a chase around the gardens, Baekhyun is starting to think he will never know.

“You have to go with them.”  Jongdae says abruptly. “I want you to jump.”

“No.”  Baekhyun says.

“I know the person who runs that ship.  He won’t let anything happen to you. Please.  Jump, Baekhyun.”

Baekhyun is only afraid of three things:  losing Jongdae, losing Minseok, and heights.  He can’t jump any more than he could shoot Minseok in the chest.

“I’m going back to the party.”  Baekhyun says, looking down at the drop, knowing deep down, that if he does anything but jump off this roof, he’ll be caught in an instant.

“You’re the bravest person I know.  I love you.” Jongdae says.

“Don’t say that to me.”  Baekhyun says furiously, crouching down on the edge of the ledge.  It’s wet, risky, and the only way Baekhyun could jump is if he were to slip.

“I won’t make it, Jongdae.”  Baekhyun says. The boat is too far away.  It had already been too far away when Kai and his team had jumped— there’s no point to it now.

“You have to do this for me, Baekhyun.”  Jongdae says. He sounds as calm and patient as he has all night, but it’s the tiny waver to his voice that makes up Baekhyun’s mind.

It’s impossible to close the distance from where he is now, but if he can make it to the next roof, and the next, and the next— then he can make it to the boat.

He’s sprinting towards the next roof before he knows it, before his self-preservation can kick in.  It’s easier closing the gap between two rooftops than it was diving headfirst into the ocean, but not by much.  Baekhyun keeps running, keeps jumping.

He’s afraid of three things, but if he doesn’t do the third, then the first two will be inevitable.  The wind is frigid, battering at Baekhyun’s jacket, and his shoes are doing their best on the icy surface.

The boat is close enough, and he’s finally reached the farthest perimeter of the mansion grounds.

“My brave Baekhyunnie.”  Jongdae’s voice says into his ear.  “When you get onto the boat, say you’re looking for Kyungsoo.  Now jump.”

Baekhyun jumps.


Hitting the water from eight floors up without perfect dive form has killed many a better man than Baekhyun, and Baekhyun is only human.  He plunges into the icy black water, thrown upside down in the momentum and not knowing which way is up. It’s so cold that he’s instantly frozen, and try as he might, he can’t see the surface at all.

“Jongdae.”  He pleads, helpless.

He’s crying, the ocean is tears and they’re all his.

“I’ve been brave.”  Baekhyun says, to no one.  The earpiece is gone.

Baekhyun is alone.

And then, he isn’t.


He’s hauled onto a fishing boat in a large net, and dropped to the deck with a loud thump.

“That was some jump.”  A voice says, high above him.

“Does he have the diamond?”

Someone is patting him down, trying to remove his jacket.  Baekhyun curls up on the deck, tangled in the net and gasping for breath like a freshly caught merperson.

“It's not here.  He must have dropped it in the water.”  The person says, frustrated. Baekhyun is lifted from the net, his legs caught in the nylon.  “I’m going to toss him back in.”

“Don’t do that.”  A voice snaps.

“He’s going to freeze to death.”  There’s a deliciously warm blanket in someone’s arms, and Baekhyun practically shudders as he’s wrapped in it.  The person coos, petting Baekhyun’s soaking hair.

“Let’s keep him.”

Baekhyun’s eyes water when he tries to open them.  It’s too cold.

“K—kyungsoo.”  He manages, and his company falls silent.

“What did he just say?”  Comes a hushed whisper after a moment.

“It sounded like Kyu—”

“Don’t say his name!”

The person holding Baekhyun shakes him, and Baekhyun whimpers.  “What did you just say?”

“Kyungsoo.”  Baekhyun repeats.  “I need— Kyungsoo.”

He’s lifted from the net again, properly this time, and when the blanket falls loose, his skin feels like it’s on fire.  Baekhyun’s limbs jerk, uncoordinated, and someone shushes him, holding a scalding hot hand to his face. Baekhyun only realizes that he’s crying when the finger tenderly brushes a tear away.

His earpiece is gone, but Baekhyun wants to hear Jongdae’s voice more than anything.

“Jongdae.”  He murmurs.

“Sorry, we’re taking you to Kyungsoo.”  The man’s deep voice says. His hold is solid, and he doesn’t lose his grip on Baekhyun.  The blanket never falls again.

This Kyungsoo person will have to do.


Baekhyun comes to his senses next lying in a sleeping bag on the floor, his head in someone’s lap.  He struggles to turn over, and finds himself staring up at a face he’s seen countless times, plastered across posters and billboards.

“You’re Kai.  You stole the diamond.”  Baekhyun says. His limbs feel heavy, and when he sits up he instantly feels cold again, losing the heat of Kai’s body.  He's wearing someone else's much drier clothes, a large sweater and thin cotton pants.

“Which you dropped into the ocean.”  The dancer says. “And you can call me Jongin.”

Baekhyun groans, slumping back against the wall.  His head is throbbing. “You’re famous. Why would you steal a diamond?”

Despite his aching head, Baekhyun’s brain switches on again, unable to let him rest.  A string of stolen jewel front pages come to mind, each night in a different country, with a schedule that’s uncannily similar to a performance tour.

“You’re awake!”  One of Jongin’s teammates from the roof enters the cabin, having to stoop low because of his height.  “What’s your name, little thief?”

Baekhyun’s glare withers him.

“It’s not an insult!”  The tall man insists. “Want to join us?  We need someone around your height so Kyungsoo won’t be so grumpy all the time.  Your team obviously isn’t very good if you ended the night nearly drowning.” ”

“Don’t.”  Baekhyun says, lead filling his stomach.  He has no idea where Minseok is, and Jongdae hasn’t heard from him in— however long he’s been out.  Something the man said sparks something in his mind, and he looks around jerkily. “Did you say Kyungsoo?  Is he here?”

“He’s on the phone with your friend.”  Jongin says, and Baekhyun shoots to his feet, tripping over the tall man.  If he thought he was cold before, he’s absolutely freezing without the sleeping bag, and he’s not wearing any shoes or socks.  His legs nearly give, but he manages to escape their frantic calling and head for the bridge.

There are two men sitting crammed together in the captain’s chair, and Baekhyun recognizes one of them as the man he’d taken the diamond from.

The other, then, must be Kyungsoo.

Kyungsoo holds out the phone without a word.

Baekhyun cradles it to his ear.

“—lay low until you get to shore.  Hey, are you even listening, Do Kyungsoo?”

“Jongdae.”  Baekhyun says, breathless.  It comes out as a small sob.  “Jongdae.”

“Baekhyun!”  Jongdae chokes.  “Your earpiece fizzled out.  I thought I killed you.”

“I’m safe, I’m okay.”  Baekhyun says. He crouches on the floor, hugging his knees to keep warm.  Someone drops their coat over his head, blanketing him in darkness.

“You did so well.”  Jongdae says, and Baekhyun’s eyes fill with tears.

“Baekhyun.”  Minseok’s voice adds, “It’s okay.  Everything’s okay.”

Baekhyun curls up on the floor beneath the thick, puffy coat.  His skin feels fuzzy, he’s been running on a high for so long that the crash is astronomical.

It isn’t just tonight.  It’s the weeks of build-up, of planning and perfecting, only to have everything fall apart in under five minutes.  Baekhyun has no idea how Jongdae and Minseok are still holding themselves together, they’re going to fall like dominos, one after another.

“That’s it,”  Minseok is saying into the phone.  “Hang in there. We’re coming to pick you up.”

“Can you give the phone back to Kyungsoo?”  Jongdae says.

Baekhyun’s temporary shelter lifts at one corner, revealing a firm hand from the sky that plucks the phone from his grasp.

“Come back here and lie down, you’re shivering again.”  Jongin calls from the cabin. “Sehun, drag him in.”

He clings to Sehun’s coat the whole way.

Baekhyun learns one more thing about his temporary companions.  They may be the enemy, but they give very good cuddles.


“Baekhyun, Baekhyunnie.”  The voice says, persistent.  Baekhyun just wants to rest. Why won’t they let him rest.  “Open your eyes for me, love.”

Baekhyun cracks an eye open, not bothering to register the sight in front of him before letting it slip shut again.

“I got him.”  A now familiar low voice says, and Baekhyun grumbles nonsense as he’s picked up, moved out of the sleeping bag and into the bright sunlight.  Sehun’s coat falls from his shoulders, and Baekhyun grabs at it with a sad whine.

“Here.”  The lost coat is replaced with a new one, one that smells familiar and comforting.

“Minseok?”  Baekhyun mumbles.  A hand cards through his hair softly.

“That’s right.”

“Thank you.”  Jongdae is saying to someone in the distance.  “I owe you one.”

“You owe me a lot more than one.”  The person responds, and Jongdae doesn’t disagree.

“See you around, Kyungsoo.”  Jongdae says instead.

“Bye-bye, novice thiefling.”  The low voice from earlier says, cackling as if he’s just told the joke of the century.  His touch on Baekhyun’s cheek is soft. “Give us a call if you ever wanna jump ship again.”


Baekhyun is curled into Minseok at the dining table, watching the news report on the robbery.  There’s an aerial view showing the possible escape routes, including the rooftop and canal. Baekhyun tucks his head under Minseok’s chin when they pan to a front shot of the mansion, showing the height of the building.

It’s when a computer-generated replica of the diamond appears on screen that Jongdae enters the room and stands in front of them, blocking their view.

“What’s going on?”  Minseok says.

“Baekhyun, where did you put the diamond before you jumped?”  Jongdae says.

Baekhyun blinks up at him.

“The inside pocket of my jacket.  I don’t know how it fell, I’m sorry.”

Jongdae’s expression is undecipherable.  “The inside pocket of your jacket.” He repeats.  “The one that’s supposed to be indestructible. The one that’s hidden weapons, treasures, letters, and jewels for years, and never once let you down.”

“Um.”  Baekhyun says.  Minseok is straightening behind him, a hand placed at Baekhyun’s back so he won’t unbalance and fall.

“The one,”  Jongdae says, opening his palm in front of them, “that still hasn’t let you down.”

Perfectly fitted in the size of his palm is a shiny, glittery thing.

Baekhyun holds out his hands, cupped together, and Jongdae drops the diamond into his palms.

Every angle is exquisite, catching the light with an unimaginable precision and gathering it at its center.  Minseok’s fingers reach out to brush the diamond in reverence, and the beam scatters across the ceiling.

“There was a playing card too.”  Jongdae says, placing it facedown in front of Baekhyun, so that the pattern of a blooming flower smiles up at him.

“I found that in the safe.  I must have stuck it in there earlier.”  Baekhyun says. He leaves the diamond in Minseok’s care and picks the card up, turning it over.

King of hearts.

Baekhyun stares at it, his fingers beginning to quiver.

“Hey, hey.  What’s going on?”  Minseok squeezes Baekhyun’s hand, exchanging a worried look with Jongdae.

“This isn’t the one I found.”  Baekhyun says.


“Ace of diamonds.  That’s what I found in the safe.  This isn’t...” Baekhyun trails off, gripping the card so tightly it’s beginning to bend inwards.

“What does that mean?”  Jongdae asks.

“I think— it’s a token of interest.  A peace offering of sorts.” Baekhyun says, finally letting the card fall to the table.  He’ll be feeling this for a while to come, some combination of relief and exhaustion. And a bit of stirred curiosity, possibility.

For now, he lets himself relax, going boneless, knowing someone will be there to catch him.  Both Minseok and Jongdae do, fixing him against Minseok’s chest.

Behind his closed lids, Baekhyun still sees the diamond sparkle.

“Call your boss.”  Baekhyun says. “Tell him we’re sending the diamond over tomorrow.  You’re free now, Minseok.”

“Yes.”  Minseok says, then, “No.”

Baekhyun opens his eyes.  Jongdae and Minseok are both looking down at him with fond exasperation.

“I’m yours.”  Minseok says. “For as long as you’ll have me.  And no riches in the world could ever, ever buy me from you.”

“Yes,”  Baekhyun says.  They’d follow him anywhere— have and will for years to come.  Maybe if he’s lucky, even a lifetime. “Me too.”