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Never Leave Me

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    Seungcheol was happy. Despite what he sometimes looked like or acted like, he was quite a joyful fellow. Everybody might call him out for being grumpy all the time, but he wasn’t. Even if he was, he would have good reasons to be that way. The world was not the kind of place that fostered happiness. So it didn’t matter to him that the only people who really knew that would be his team members. They were what he really cared about in this world, his source of happiness.

    But don’t tell them that. No need to inflate some of their already big egos.

   “Did you find the nonexistent baddies you were looking for?” Speaking of big egos, here came the biggest one. Jeonghan wrapped his arms around Seungcheol from behind and laid his head on the older’s shoulder.

    Seungcheol never told any of the guys about his need for love, for care. He guessed by the way that Jeonghan was acting that the younger had figured it out somehow. Seungcheol never got the attention and care he wanted as a child because his mother was always working. He didn’t have a problem or anything, it wasn’t that serious. He just always wanted to be cared for by his close friends. But all of that was besides the point.

   “Sure.” Seungcheol chuckled softly as he brushed a strand of his black hair out of his eyes. When he did, his attention snagged on his new tattoo. The black ink formed the sign that the group had made together as their logo of sorts. When they moved to their new place, they all got matching tattoos on their right wrists. He smiled softly at the thought of finally being a real team.

    Seungcheol knew that he really had no reason to be staring out of the window like he had been. This was a new place. Seungcheol didn’t have to worry about being in danger. He reassured himself that these were the times that made him happy. The times where he had nothing to worry about.

    These were the times where he forgot about his past, his father. The man who probably didn’t know that he existed because the basta- because his father left him with the prostitute that was his mother. If his father did know about Seungcheol, then the man probably tried to forget about him. His father couldn’t ruin his reputation as the captain of the leader’s personal police force.

    Seungcheol chuckled again at the bitter thoughts of the man who sired him. If only he could see Seungcheol now, see the things that Seungcheol did for a living. Would his father be proud?

    No. No he wouldn’t.

   “What are you laughing about?” Jeonghan asked, pulling Seungcheol out of his thoughts. He just shrugged causing the younger to sigh. Jeonghan squeezed the older tightly for a second before letting go of him completely. “If you won’t tell me your deepest secrets, then you’re not worth my time.”

    Those words made Seungcheol pause and caused his face to harden into a serious grimace. Without looking back at the boy walking away, he asked, “Then why are you still here working with us?”

    The footsteps on the creaky wooden floor halted.

    The air between them grew silent and cold.

   “Because of the cash and the fucking handsome bastards around here, that’s why.” Seungcheol could help himself as he threw his head back and laughed. Jeonghan’s serious tone made what he said even more hilarious.

  Jeonghan  let out a smile filled sigh before continuing with, “I’m going to find Seokmin if you need me.” Seungcheol pulled himself together before turning to face the other.

   “The language that you just used was not appropriate and you know it.” Jeonghan stopped again and snorted at his words. Seungcheol continued with a thoughtful expression, “You’re always with Seokmin. I thought it was nice at first, but now I’m starting to believe that you’re just trying to corrupt his sweet mind.” The bleach blonde boy had his arms crossed over his chest and wore a smirk on his face. A classic Jeonghan look.

   “So what if I am?” Jeonghan drawled out as he cocked an eyebrow. Seungcheol waited, knowing that if he did, the boy would most likely continue. The younger always had the juiciest things to say with he took a long time to speak.

    “I think you’re just jealous of him. You wish you had my attention like Seokmin does.” Jeonghan teased.

   Ouch. Seungcheol wasn’t expecting the other to hit so close to home.

   Jeonghan most definitely knew how much Seungcheol wanted to be liked. Granted, Seungcheol wasn’t the most likeable at times, especially with his strict rules and mean expressions, but he still wanted to have someone treat him like Jeonghan treated Seokmin. Someone who cared for him like how Minghao cared for Junhui. He wanted to have a faithful friend that there for him all the time like Vernon was for Seungkwan and visa versa.

    Again, besides the point.

   Seungcheol tried to soothe himself and combat what the other said to him by using Jeonghan’s own words.

   “So what if I am?” He quipped with the best smirk he could muster. The younger laughed before calming himself down and shaking his head in aspiration.

   “Bye, Seungcheol.” Was all Jeonghan said as he finally slid out the cracked door. Seungcheol’s smile faded as he filled the air with his sigh. He turned back to face the window again.

  Seungcheol was happy. Despite what he looked like or acted like, he was quite a joyful fellow. Even through the frowns and the long, heavy sighs that followed him around, he was happy. Even though he had to keep reminding himself of that.

   He frowned at nothing and everything at the same time as he gazed out the window. Maybe happiness wasn’t all it was made out to be. When you’re job is to kill people, happiness is the last thing you’d expect to look for.

    But here Seungcheol was, searching for happiness in his depressing life.

    He watched a group of friends through his window. Unfamiliar people who just laughed together as they pulled their colorful coats tighter. They probably didn’t care how cold it was. Those strangers were just satisfied to be with their friends, to have fun. That was pretty much the definition of happiness, wasn’t it?

    “Happiness is just a word, Seungcheol. It shouldn’t be something we base our whole lives on, no matter what people tell us.” Seungcheol snapped his head to see Jihoon standing in the doorway. As the shorter brushed his dark hair from his eyes Seungcheol realized that he had been speaking his thoughts aloud. He frowned at Jihoon.

   “When did you get so poetic?” Seungcheol didn’t like the tone of his own voice as he asked that. He watched the other boy roll his eyes.

   “Uh, when I became a songwriter, Hyung.” Jihoon deadpanned. Seungcheol felt the urge to slap himself in the face at his own question.

   “Oh, uh, yeah.” Seungcheol paused to think of something else to say. “I, uh, guess you’re right.” He scratched the back of his neck in embarrassment and tried winced at his stutter filled response. Jihoon just chuckled— which was so soft that Seungcheol almost didn’t catch it— before walking to stand beside the taller. Seungcheol watched him gaze out the window.

    “And I thought I was bad at conversations.” Jihoon mumbled with a small evil grin on his face. Seungcheol pushed him lightly to show that he disagreed with what the younger had said.

   Then the room fell into silence.

   This time it wasn’t a cold silence, like with Jeonghan. It was more of a warm silence. A slightly awkward silence, granted, but a good one. The cute and very rare smile from Jihoon that Seungcheol could see from his peripheral vision made him smile too.

    For the first time in a long time, Seungcheol wasn’t contemplating if he was happy or not. He was just savoring the feeling of being with his friend while taking in the view of the Oasis from their new, safe house.

Chapter Text

  “Are you really a sociopath, Hyung?” Seokmin asked Jeonghan. The latter glanced over at Seokmin, who sported medium color brown has air, with a incredulous look. Seokmin didn’t meet Jeonghan’s eyes as he continued stirring the ramen he was making.

  “What do you mean by that? Are you questioning my credibility?” Jeonghan said with a joking tone as he swung his feet like a child from where he sat on top of the kitchen counter. Seokmin fidgeted under Jeonghan’s gaze as he found other things to keep himself busy.

   “I just meant that I was doing some research the other day,” Seokmin paused for a second, putting down the big wooden spoon that he was hold. He turned down the dial of the eye to simmer and put a lid on the ramen before continuing, “and I saw that it said sociopaths couldn’t love and always lied. That’s not you.” Another hesitant pause before a small, “Right?”

  Jeonghan sighed as he got down off the counter. What was he supposed to say? Yes? No? He didn’t know what to tell Seokmin, so just offered the younger a shrug before lazily asking, “What is the definition of a sociopath?”

   “Someone who lacks emotions and empathy. Someone who compulsively lies to everyone. Someone who only forms personal relationships with people to take advantage of them.” Seokmin’s voice wavered on the last one. Jeonghan sighed and shook his head.

   “You think too much, Seokmin. You shouldn’t have even looked that up.” Jeonghan mumbled as he walked towards Seokmin with his arms open for an embrace. He shied away from Jeonghan’s touch and ignored him, checking the ramen before turning off the burner completely.

   Jeonghan had messed up. Seokmin never did this, even when he was mad at Jeonghan. They always would talk out every disagreement, every misunderstanding. Jeonghan reached for him again.

   “Seokm-” “Don’t touch me.” Seokmin interrupted Jeonghan with a hiss, pulling his arm from the older’s reach. Something panged inside of Jeonghan’s chest that he didn’t like. Instead of embracing the emotion, he just pushed it down and replaced it with anger.

   “What? You didn’t seem to care before, but now you decide to ‘do some research’ and its messed up our friendship. Just because some website said something you didn’t like, you’ll stop caring about me?!” He spat through gritted teeth. Seokmin’s face change from sad to angry at his words.

   “I-” Seokmin cut himself off to take a deep breath— something he always did to steady his nerves— before continuing. “I don’t care what you say because it’s all a lie to keep me from leaving you. You just want something to play your little games with. All you want from me is some fun. I don’t want to get hurt when you’ve had your fill.” Jeonghan’s mouth hung agape as he stared at Seokmin. Tears slid down the boy’s cheeks and he bit his quivering lip.

  Seokmin was such a strong, sweet hearted boy. Why did Jeonghan have to come along and hurt him? He had to stop this now.

   Now don’t get Jeonghan wrong, he knows that claiming that he’s a sociopath to everyone is not a good thing. He knows that it paints him in a horrible lighting, and yet he still does it. Why? Because it’s easier for people to use a mental disorder—something that you can prove and something other people have— to blame odd things on. It was also something that was easier for Jeonghan to accept himself as, to mold himself into.

  Jeonghan was an odd child who didn’t mind killing people if it meant being rewarded. Maybe it was because he grew up in a terrible, warring place. Maybe it was because he was orphaned and sent to be trained as an assassin at the early age of nine. Maybe there was just something wrong with his head. There were too many maybes to explain to people who judged him, so he just went the simple way out: he told everyone something that they’d accept with no further questions. It was a bad thing to do, but he still did it.

    “Minnie,” Jeonghan’s voice faded as Seokmin turned away and started to mess something utensils. He grabbed the younger and spun him around. “Minnie. Listen to me carefully: I’m not a sociopath. You got that? I. Am. Not. A. Sociopath. Yeah, I might be super sadistic at times and I might have some problems, but I’m not a sociopath. I still feel feelings.” His voice got quieter. “I still care about you.”

  Seokmin didn’t respond.

  He stared at Jeonghan with no emotion on his face, even as the tears continued to fall. Jeonghan wanted to hurt himself for making the other like this. He always knew that Seokmin was too pure and perfect for this world. Maybe that’s why he was drawn to the younger to be his friend, to protect him.

   The crying boy took a deep, ragged breath.

   “I believe you.” Those three words that Seokmin finally said were all that Jeonghan needed as he pulled the other into a tight hug. Seokmin shook with sobs while Jeonghan rubbed his back.

   “Now that I’ve told you that, I need to know if you’ll swear to keep it between you and me. I don’t need the others thinking that I’m a big phony or something. Can you imagine how much Mingyu would hound on me if he found out I had been lying this whole time?” Seokmin chuckled softly before pushing away from Jeonghan and drying his tears.

   “I swear that I’ll keep your secret.” Seokmin swore as he held out a pinkie towards Jeonghan. The other took it with his own pinkie, sealing the promise by pressing their thumbs together at the end.

   They shared smiles. Real genuine grins, the ones that real sociopaths couldn’t smile.

   “Now let’s eat some of that ramen that you cooked before it gets cold.”

Chapter Text

   Joshua sighed out deeply and ran a hand through his dark hair. “You were dancing?” He asked incredulously as he inspected the nasty scrape that Soonyoung sported on his knee. The younger nodded quickly.

   “Yeah! I was dancing and then I spun wrong and fell, but instead of landing on my butt I landed on my knee and it didn’t feel good, so I came here so you fix me up.” The words tumbled out of the black haired boy’s mouth. Joshua cocked an eyebrow as he looked from the other’s face to his slightly bleeding knee before shaking his head.

    “Well you must have landed quite hard since it’s as bad as it is.” Joshua paused to let Soonyoung nod again as he started preparing things to clean the youth’s wound. “How come I couldn’t hear you slamming into the floor, then? Since almost everyone else is out right now, I would have definitely noticed something like that.” The question made Soonyoung gulp.

   “You see,” The younger worried his bottom lip. “I wasn’t in the house. I was out in one of the alleyways.” Was what Soonyoung came up with. The older sighed again at the obvious lies.

    “Oh really? So you limped all the way back to the house and no one asked you any questions?” Joshua hated to have to pry like he was, but he just wanted to know the real story. There should be no reason for Soonyoung to lie about how he hurt himself.

    “No, I just walked home like a normal person. I’ve developed a good pain tolerance over the years.” Soonyoung stated nonchalantly. When Joshua tried to catch the younger’s eyes, though, Soonyoung just looked at his tattooed wrist and traced its lines with his fingertips.

    With a frown, Joshua pressed the cotton ball— that had been dipped into alcohol rub he used to disinfect wounds— hard into the other’s knee. Soonyoung let out a shriek-like noise and yanked his leg away.

    “What the hell, Hyung?!” He hissed as he clutched his poor leg. Joshua rolled his eyes before pulling Soonyoung’s leg back towards him.

    “Stop being such a baby. I know you’re lying to me so hurry up and just tell me what happened.” Joshua mumbled as he expertly cleaned the scrape. Soonyoung hissed quietly as the older started to apply the cold soothing ointment.

    “I’m not lying. I just fell, ok?” Joshua looked at Soonyoung’s pleading eyes as he wrapped on a bandage. Now he was hundred percent sure that Soonyoung was hiding something terrible.

    “What are you hidin-” Joshua was cut off by sound of glass breaking downstairs. They both stiffened and locked eyes. “Soonyou-”

    “Hyung, please don’t fight me.” Soonyoung said as he grabbed Joshua’s shoulders tightly. The older struggled against his grip, ignoring the plea completely.

    “Tell me what’s happening right now.” Joshua demanded sternly as he stopped moving and stared at Soonyoung intensely. The other winced and seemed to want to escape the situation.

   “Don’t get mad at me, but,” Soonyoung paused before continuing in a small voice, “but he was in a good mood said that I was amazing and wonderful and that he really needed me to buy him some time, so I hurt myself in order to keep you from finding him too soon. I’m sorry, Hyung, but he was just” The youth trailed off with screwed up eyes to keep back his tears. He let his head fall down in shame.

    “It’s ok. Just let me go and we can fix this.” Joshua mumbled in a soft tone. While his words sounded like he was calm, on the inside he was a mess.

    Joshua knew. He knew what was happening as soon as Soonyoung started talking.

    The grip on his shoulders lessened enough that he could make a break for the door. Soonyoung cried out for him to stop, but Joshua didn’t listen.

    Joshua also knew that he wouldn’t have to worry about Soonyoung stopping him again because the poor kid could hardly get up and down the stairs in less than a minute.

    He flew down the stairs and into the dining room. Joshua panted softly as he took in the image before him. He couldn’t help but mutter a soft, “Oh, Wonwoo.”

    Said man was using a table to hold himself up as he took a swig from a beer bottle. His dark hair was sticking up every which way. The remains of the last one were scattered all over the floor. Wonwoo burped and stumbled forward a bit in his bare feet, missing the shards of glass by inches.

    “Whatare you doin ‘ere? I thought,” Wonwoo drew out that word, “‘hat I told Soonyoung to ‘eep you away.” Joshua grimaced at the putrid smell that emanated from the drunk boy.

    “You did and he did. If it wasn’t for that bottle you dropped, you would have been perfectly fine.” He said pointedly. Wonwoo opened his mouth to saying something else, but then his eyes slid past Joshua and his face was suddenly filled with anger.

    “You!” The drunkard slurred as he jabbed a finger in the direction of the approaching Soonyoung. “Youwere supposed to ‘eep ‘im busy!” He spat. The boy behind Joshua quivered a bit.

   “I did-” “No you didn’t because he’s ‘ere. You sonOFABITCH!!” Wonwoo yelled as he chucked his half drained bottled at Soonyoung. The boy barely dodged it. “You worthless bastard.” The man mumbled as he swayed unsteadily on his feet.

   Joshua had had enough.

   He marched over to Wonwoo and got in the boy’s face to grit out, “Shut. Up.” before punching him square in the jaw. Wonwoo crumpled to the ground with a grunt. Joshua just glared down at the younger, unimpressed. He heard Soonyoung make a sort of whimper noise.

   “This isn’t him. He’s not like this.” The boy mumbled to himself as he started to pick up pieces of glass that Wonwoo had left on the floor in the wake of his drinking. Joshua started to clean up as well, making sure that none of the shards were embedded in the unconscious boy first.

    “I know.” Joshua sighed out. He did know that this side of Wonwoo really wasn’t the real him. This was the bad side, the side that took control every so often and went crazy. The older couldn’t blame Wonwoo for it, the boy couldn’t help it.

     There was the sound of sniffling from Soonyoung that made Joshua’s heart hurt. The youth was Wonwoo’s best friend and it was times like this that made him suffer the most.

    Joshua stopped what he was doing to walk over to crying boy and wrapped an arm around him. “I know and you know and he knows that this isn’t the real him. I’ll fix him up good as new and he’ll apologize to you about what he said.” This just made Soonyoung cry more, but the older knew that he would get over it soon. He always did.

    So Joshua let the sound of Soonyoung’s muffled crying fill the room as he rubbed the latter’s back.

Chapter Text

   Junhui wrapped his arms around Minghao, laying his head on the other’s shoulder. The younger had started to grow his light brown hair out into a sort of mullet, so it tickled Junhui’s ear as he idly watched the TV. Minghao sighed.

    “What is it, Hyung?” Minghao mumbled as the news flashed across the barely used television. Junhui shrugged and just cuddled into Minghao tighter.

    “Nothing.” He replied simply. Minghao froze for a second and turned his head the best he could to make eye contact with the older.

     “Are you” Minghao trailed off, letting the sentence hang in the air for Junhui’s interpretation. The older just shook his head, trying not to smile at how cute Minghao looked. Seriously though, the boy looked like he had an actual question mark over his head.

    After a few more seconds of probing stares and silence, Minghao hummed and looked back to the screen. The news channel talked about nothing out of the ordinary today, just repeating old topics from the previous week or some random and very unimportant subjects.

  Junhui, nevertheless, didn’t let the boredom of this stop him from being with his friend. He closed his eyes and snuggled his face comfortably into the youth’s neck.

    Minghao made a small noise, letting Junhui know that he noticed the movements, but he didn’t stop the older. Minghao knew by now, more than anyone else, that Junhui needed this.

  Junhui had a condition called, ‘Dependent Personality Disorder’. This meant that he always needed validation from others to make sure that he was doing the right thing, that he was good enough. He also had separation anxiety, so he was especially clingy. These two things ran away most people he met when he was growing up, causing his condition to worsen.

   That’s where Minghao came in.

   He met the kid when he was brought into the group by Seungcheol. The older claimed that when he saw Junhui, he immediately knew that he need to help him. Junhui was so glad that Seungcheol did.

  Minghao joined the group shortly after Junhui did, and that’s when Junhui knew that he found his friend for life.

  When the younger found out about Junhui’s disorder, he started to help him with it. It’s not that the others didn’t, but they didn’t seem to understand what was wrong or didn’t know what to do. Junhui didn’t know how Minghao did, but he was grateful.

   Suddenly the TV turned off, followed by a heavy sigh, yanking Junhui back into reality.

   “What’s wrong? Any bad news?” Junhui murmured into Minghao’s neck as he gaze up at the younger. Minghao shook his head.

    “There’s nothing worth noting. Everything’s fine.” The words were clipped and tired sounding. Junhui took his weight off of Minghao and led the youth to the worn couch. The air puffed out of the soft cushions as they plopped down into the piece of furniture.

   “How’s the family?” The sincerity in Junhui’s voice echoed through the room.

   Minghao had been born in this Oasis, unlike the rest of the team, but he was still here with them. It’s not that Minghao enjoyed killing so much that he didn’t use his birthright given chance to secure a good job, he just hated people.

    Well, he hated bad people, but there were a lot of those in the world. He was raised up with such people in his school and as his future bosses, so he decided not to go along with the mold that his parents wanted him to. He picked helping others over getting successful in his own life.

    And helping others led Minghao to killing. It was an odd way to go about doing it, but it was the easiest way for him to do it without his parents finding out about it.

   Minghao never told his parents about his work, so they would always try and bother him about it. Junhui was the only one who knew this, since he stuck to the younger’s side like glue.

    “They’re fine.” Is all the Minghao said in response. Junhui frowned and cupped Minghao’s cheek softly so that the other would meet his eyes. Minghao’s gaze hardened as he muttered, “Inappropriate.” That single word made Junhui snapped his hand down and instead put it on the younger’s shoulder. Sometimes he forgot the limits of personal boundaries.

    “Sorry.” Junhui flicked his gaze down, thinking about what he was going to say before gathering his courage. “Do they want to meet with you again?” Minghao nodded solemnly. “Ok, well, why don’t you meet with them? I’ll come with you if you need moral support.” The youth smiled softly at Junhui’s offer.

    “Thanks. I guess we’ll meet them this weekend. How’s that sound?” Junhui blinked. This was new. Minghao usually denied that he needed to see his family and let it go a bit longer. He usually didn’t want anyone to come and meet the people who raised him.

    “Wow, uh, ok.” Is all Junhui could say. Minghao chuckled softly before excusing himself to the restroom.

    Maybe Minghao had finally realized how lucky he was.

    He actually had parents, unlike the rest of them, and they cared for him to some extent. They cared enough to check up on him and worry about him. What Junhui would have given to have his parents care and worry about him. He couldn’t even exactly remember his parents faces, which made his heart crack.

  Junhui sighed with a smile. He was going to meet with the people who raised his best friend, his caretaker. The one he would die for, he would kill for. His grin widened. He couldn’t wait.

Chapter Text

    “Fuck this shit. FuCK YOU!” Soonyoung sighed as Wonwoo started screaming. The older felt exhausted, despite the clock showing that it was only 11:00 in the morning. He remembered the day that he dented the small time-telling object by having his body being thrown at it. This kind of stuff was becoming too regular for Soonyoung to take anymore. So regular that the other residents of the house, his fellow team members, didn’t even bother to come to his rescue when it started. If anything, they probably got further away so that they didn’t have to get a headache from all the shouting.

   “What did I do wrong this time?” His voice was tinged with aspersion. The older shook with rage.

   “You know what you did wrong, don’t play with me like that!” Wonwoo hissed in a dark tone as he grabbed Soonyoung’s shoulders. Soonyoung winced as he felt bruises already forming where the other’s fingertips dug in. “You. Fucking. Bastard.” Each word as enunciated with a violent shake. Soonyoung whimpered as he was throw back and forth roughly, but didn’t say anything. He knew that it was smarter to wait out the storm when he was this close to Wonwoo in his anger.

   The younger panted as he looked over Soonyoung’s face with critical eyes. A spark of disappointment in Wonwoo’s eyes at what he saw. It made the other’s stomach clinch.

   “You should apologize to me for the shit you did.” Soonyoung blinked at Wonwoo’s words as they echoed through the empty room.

   “Oh” He trailed off. That was new. Usually, the younger would beat him up for whatever he saw was wrong and then leave him to suffer alone. Of course, Wonwoo would come back after he had calmed down and ask for forgiveness and would nurse Soonyoung back to health. “Ok then. I’m sorry, Wonwoo. Now can we be friends again?” Soonyoung smiled sweetly at the elder.

    That’s when the punch came.

    It hit Soonyoung dead on his left cheekbone and sent him sprawling out on the floor. The feeling of nausea and dizziness hit him hard as he let out a long groan. He opened his eyes to see Wonwoo standing over him with a cold face.

    “Not like that, you idiot! I want to you say what you did and that you were sorry for doing it.” Wonwoo crouched down and yanked Soonyoung into a sitting position. His head felt fuzzy as the world evened out.

    “But I-” Soonyoung was cut off by a hard slap to the face. The noise echoed through the room, causing him to shudder at that alone. His right cheek now stung from the forceful impact.

    “No buts. Apologize.” Wonwoo growled. The youth sighed.

    These were the times that Soonyoung pondered on why he was even still friends with Wonwoo. The boy did nothing but abuse him, yet he still came back to the other everytime. He always forgave Wonwoo for whatever he did, no matter how big or small it was. He didn’t know why he did that. Wonwoo could throw him out the window and shatter all of his ribs, but he would forgive the boy at the drop of a hat.

    He blamed it on Wonwoo’s amazing apologies and terrible disorder. Soonyoung didn’t want to admit that it could be more, that it could be because he sees the broken child that Wonwoo was when he cries to Soonyoung during the depths of the nights when he’s had a bad dream. Maybe it’s because of the way Wonwoo hugs him when they both miss the warmth of their dead parents or when Soonyoung gets too stressed over his life and all of his choices.

    Or maybe it’s because Soonyoung feels genuine love and care from and for Wonwoo as he watches every single one of Soonyoung’s performances and claps, and looks through all of his choreography notes and tells him he’s a genius, no matter how bad they are.

    Maybe, just maybe, it’s all three.

    The next slap brings Soonyoung back into reality very quickly. Wonwoo’s lips are pulled back into a scowl as he pushes the older back down flat onto the ground.

    “I won’t ask again before I start getting serious.” His deep voice was surprisingly calm and level. Soonyoung mumbled out a fast apology as the older rose to stand over him again. He shivered.

    “Louder. I didn’t hear you!” Wonwoo’s volume increased a bit in frustration. Soonyoung said the same thing again in a slightly louder, wishing that his vocal cords would stop failing him at such a risky time. “I saiD LOUDER!!” The younger practically screamed as he reared back a foot to kick the other.

   “I AM SORRY!”

   “SORRY FOR WHAT?!”

   “I-I’M SORRY FOR CUTTING YOUR SANDWICHES INTO RECTANGLES INSTEAD OF TRIANGLES!!” Soonyoung’s throat was basically done for after that line as he let himself sob into the floorboards. He was already so bruised from a few days ago when something like this happened that his body literally gave up on him when faced with the possibility of more pain.

   “Good.” The clipped words from Wonwoo echoed through the quietness of the room as he walked back over to the small coffee table. Soonyoung sat up a bit to watch through his blurry tears as the youth sat down to enjoy the long forgotten lunch that Soonyoung had prepared for him.

   Soonyoung collapsed back onto the floor in pure exhaustion as he stared at the ceiling. It took only
a few painful minutes before Wonwoo finished up his lunch and then realized what he had done.

    “I am so so so so so sorry, Soonyoung. Oh my god, please forgive me. I’m so sorry. Soonie, I’m so sorry.” Wonwoo stopped himself from saying anything else as he choked on tears and pulled Soonyoung up into a uncomfortable hug.

   “I forgive you.” Is all Soonyoung could muster as his eyes glazed over. He sat there like a rag doll in the other’s arms as Wonwoo cried.

   The lull of sleep pulled at him hard, despite it only being midday, and Soonyoung embraced it like Wonwoo embraced him. The last things he felt before he fell into an uneasy sleep were the tears that fell from Wonwoo’s face onto his neck and the whispers of thanks that hung around his ear.

Chapter Text

   Jihoon hummed a random tune as he loaded bullets into a small pistol. The others were also getting ready for a big mission, strapping on knife sheaths and gun holsters under their clothes. The made up song faded from his throat as he slowly raised his head to gaze at the sky out the dingy window. They were at the outskirts of an Oasis in a room they had rented for a day. The sun was setting over the distant horizon, turning the sky all shades of red and yellow.

    What a beautiful day to end a life.

    He winced at the thought before turning to face him teammates and asking, “What’s the details?” A few shared looks before someone stepped forward to answer him.

    “We’re going to track this girl. She’s the daughter of assassin master and the lover of the crime lord of this province.” Chan said as he produced a small photo.

    The portrait was crinkled and torn a bit around the edges, but the girl in it seemed to have no flaw. Her bright youthful beauty shown through the black and white picture. It seemed to be taken without her noticing by its odd side angle and because she was not looking into the camera. Jihoon raised an eyebrow.

     “So we just follow her?” He already knew that the answer wasn’t going to be a yes by the way Chan’s eyes shot to Seungcheol as he stepped back into the rest of the group and he pocketed the photograph. Jihoon sighed before turning his face to the oldest boy in the room.

    “Uh, not exactly.” Seungcheol stepped forward and scratched his head in thought. The older was always so careful picking his words, probably because of all the triggers that the boys had.

    “Hurry up and spit it out.” It was one of the things about the eldest that aggravated Jihoon. He wasn’t sure why it did, but he wished that Seungcheol would just say whatever needed to be said. Thinking too much and being picky with your words can cause some of the messages and such to be lost.

    Seemingly picking up what was bothering Jihoon, Seungcheol deadpanned, “We need to follow her so we can find the location of her father and husband and dispose of them. After that, we get her out of the picture too.” Jihoon’s stomach twisted.

    “But she looks hardly even 19! She can’t pick her father and she was most likely forcefully married to her husband.” He protested. The room’s atmosphere turned still and a metaphorical storm approached. Seungcheol let out a hissing sigh.

    “Actually, she’s 22. She loves her father and helps him punish the children assassins. She fell in love with her husband and married him in her free will.” Jihoon blinked in surprise. “I know that she’s pretty, but that does not make her completely innocent, Jihoon. Think it through logically before you go and make any assumptions.” Seungcheol added with an eye roll.

   Jihoon’s cheeks heated a bit in embarrassment as a stifled laugh was passed through the room. He grumbled empty nothings while busying himself with some invisible pieces of lint on his clothing. As the other’s focuses drifted away from Jihoon and onto their own conversations, the boy glimpsed Seungcheol walk towards him.

    So Jihoon walked straight out of the room.

    The hallway was breezy and cooler than the other room. He decided that liked it as he stared out at the skyline again, this time out a small hole in the thin wall.

    Then Jihoon started to count. It only took thirty second for Seungcheol to appear beside him, a new high from the minute and forty-five that was previously his record. He didn’t look at the taller, only hummed to let him know that he knew of the other’s presence.

    “Why do you always do this to me?” Seungcheol sighed out in a whine-tipped voice. Jihoon didn’t make a to move to acknowledge the older, nor did he answer him at all. A rough sigh. “You make me want to spare you from the truth by your innocence and then you seem angry that I’m not telling you everything.” A flush tipped Jihoon ears a shade of light pink as he scoffed. Seungcheol quickly added, “And don’t even fight it because you know I’m right, Hoonie.”

   Hoonie. A nickname that only really Seungcheol used. It made Jihoon’s insides melt from its sincerity. He both loved and hated it at the same time.

   “I’m strong. I can handle the truth, Cheollie.” Jihoon mumbled with a scowl formed on his face. He looked away from Seungcheol, so that the other couldn’t notice the blush that was creeping up his neck because he had used Seungcheol’s nickname.

    Why did Seungcheol do this to him? Why did he always have make Jihoon feel so warm, cared for, included, and happy for the first time in years? Why did he have to be the best friend ever?

    The leader chuckled lightly before bumping his side into Jihoon’s very softly. Jihoon grunted, but didn’t step away as Seungcheol continued to keep the contact between their sides.

    “Why are we always staring out at the world together? It’s like we’re just satisfied with looking and not experiencing.” Seungcheol breathed out. Jihoon snuck a glance at the other to see he was grinning ironically as he surveyed the view of the province.

   Jihoon hated him so much.

   He hated how Seungcheol was so perfect, as a leader and as a person, but the boy didn’t seem to notice that himself. The older had it all together and knew exactly what to do all the time while Jihoon was just stumbling over himself like a fool. Not only that, but he was also good looking, too. His hair always fell in the right spot, he had an amazing smile. He had the height too, and also the muscl-

    Their eyes met. Jihoon snapped his head away quickly, embarrassed to be caught staring like a weirdo, as he quickly said, “Sometimes the things that look good are just a lie, so it’s all the better to never have to be disappointed by them than to actually have to go out and do them.” Another chuckle. Was it hot in here, or was it just the tiny tomato man named Jihoon?

    “You’ve always had a way with words.” Seungcheol’s voice was soft and delicate as he said all of that in a single breathe out.

    Jihoon shrugged, not looking over at the other. “Yeah, I guess so.”

   There was a silence between them. Seungcheol shifted and looked back towards the room where the others were. “We should get going soon.” He turned to face Jihoon again. “Stay with me for the mission. We’ll be going to track her and that’s all, so we can get some coffee and pastries while the others do the dirty work.” A cute smile spread from Seungcheol’s face to Jihoon’s.

   “You’ve always had a way with words, Cheollie.” Laughter echoed through the hall. They leaned onto one another as they calmed down. Even though the joke wasn’t even that funny, they were both suckers for a good laugh when the opportunity presented itself.

    “Stop your little make out session- I mean, make up session and let’s get going.” Seungkwan snickered as he popped his head out of the door. The two rolled their eyes at the same time as they headed back to the others, a little bit lighter than before.

Chapter Text

   Wonwoo stared at the ceiling in the darkness of his room while the silence of the undisturbed and sleeping house gave him a chance to think about his life. Thoughts swirled through the slightly chilled air. Memories played out like old film clips before his eyes in the dust floating through empty space. Tears welled up and soundlessly slipped down his cheeks

  He hated it.

  Wiping away his tears, Wonwoo disrupted the quietness with a sniffle. He took a few deep breaths to steady himself before rising out of his bed and grabbing his glasses. He needed some water to drown out the crushing feeling that was growing in his gut. The floorboards creak as he made his way to the kitchen. He didn’t really care; no one would wake up from that.

   And just like that, Wonwoo is reaching up to grab a cup. He sighed out through his nose in frustration while standing up on his tiptoes. As he finally grasped the thing he wanted, he caught a glimpse of his tattoo. He brought his hand down, with the cup in tow, to examine it.

    It had been a bit since he had gotten it with the rest of the group, so it didn’t hurt anymore and now he could run his fingertips over it with wincing. It had left his skin raw there for the longest time. Even so, was still so beautiful and delicate looking.

   Wonwoo pulled himself out of his reminiscing so that he could actually do what he came down to do and finally get some sleep.

   He pushed the cup into the refrigerator door space that had filtered water. A light turned on on the small panel as it started to fill the glass up liquid. Although it always did this, this time it was different. It threw in a memory from long ago that he thought he had forgotten about completely.

   Wonwoo’s father’s gun flashed a bright light as he fired at Wonwoo’s mother. Luckily, his father was too drunk to be a good shot and his mother wasn’t hit by the bullet. His mother started to scream at his father filthy words that he prayed his would never repeat. The man continued to threaten her with his firearm with equally bad language. Wonwoo curled up into the floor of the disgusting closet. He put a hand to his face and felt the rush of tears rolling down his fingers. His name was being called, but he was too scared to turn and see who it was. If it was his mother, he would get a terrible beating. If it was his father, he would be forced to sleep on the roof for being a wimp. He just cried harder.

    “Wonwoo? Wonwoo~? Wonwoo. Wonwoo!” His eyes snapped open to see that the cup was overflowing with water and it was spilling everywhere. He turned his head to see and very worried Soonyoung. “What are you doing?” The boy asked in a hushed voice.

    Wonwoo couldn’t say anything, he just kept crying. Soonyoung took the cup from him and put it carefully on the counter. The younger stood there as the older got a towel and cleaned the water that was pooling on the floor.

   It felt like Wonwoo’s world was shattering and Soonyoung was putting it back together. Again.

   The older poured out a bit of water so that it was easier to handle and gave the cup Wonwoo. With a shaking hand, Wonwoo drank some. He could feel the cold liquid travel all the way to his stomach. The weight of it steadied him a bit so that he was breathing a bit better and he wasn’t shaking as much. The other took the half empty cup from his hands.

   “Come with me to bed.” Wonwoo didn’t even try and resist as Soonyoung pulled him out of the kitchen. He walked numbly back to his own room with the older in tow. They both got under his slightly itchy covers and let silence rein in the house once more.

   “I’m sorry.” It took a lot for Wonwoo to get that out, but he somehow managed to keep his voice level. Soonyoung turned in the bed so that he could make eye contact with Wonwoo and Wonwoo did the same.

   “Shhh.” The older murmured as he took off Wonwoo’s glasses and reached to set them on the side table. Soonyoung softly wiped his tear stained cheeks. Even though Wonwoo’s vision was a bit blurry, he swore the other was smiling fondly at him. “Are you good?” Wonwoo nodded.

   “I’m good.” He wished he had the vocabulary to express how not good he was, how much it hurt. If he did, then he would be able to say that even through all of the terrible heartache, that he’s ok when he’s with Soonyoung. The boy just emits the aura of a loving caretaker and Wonwoo needs that.

   “Go to sleep, Wonu.” And with that warmth-filled sentence, Soonyoung turned over and curled farther into the covers. Wonwoo smiled and turned over too. Even if he can’t express what he feels, he’s sure that the older understood. At least, he hoped so.

 

Chapter Text

    A sigh of relief escaped Minghao’s slightly chapped lips as the clock finally showed the time he wanted it to: his break time. It’s not that he hated his job at the little cafe, it was just- never mind, he just hated his lousy job. Days filled with serving people with forced smiles and a fake cheery voice was enough to make him sprint out of the crowded space at every opportunity. He nodded at a coworker before disappearing to the back.

    The break room was, for lack of better words, a glorified closet. It had a small, worn couch on one side and a mini-fridge on the other. The employees could store their lunches in there if they wanted. Minghao did not. He checked, and it definitely had some kind of mold in it. Anyway, he couldn’t even spare money on extra food these days.

    Times had started to get a bit hard for the team. The regular small jobs were becoming harder and harder to come by because they were either a) too far to travel for the amount of money the costumer was offering or b) they were taken by another group. Apparently, said group was in cahoots with Leader Yoon.

    Since there was not any readily available killing missions, the members had to get other jobs to be able to feed themselves. It was starting to scare Minghao to see how skinny some of the others were becoming. He vividly remembered how he could see Mingyu’s ribs when the his shirt came up the other day.

   Minghao phone buzzed just as he sat down on the black leather sofa, pulling him out of his darkening thoughts. He looked down at the small screen to see a message from his friends as a small smile curving itself onto his cheeks. They might not have enough money to spend on good food, but they had to communicate somehow.

    The phone read, ‘1 unread message from: Seventeen gc’. Seventeen was what the team decided to be called. It had some kind of meaning to it, but Minghao didn’t really care enough about it to remember what it was. He swiped open his screen to read what was sent.

   ‘I was promised extra if I stayed a bit late at work tonight to cover for someone else, so can anyone watch over the house for me?’ Minghao wrinkled his nose. It wasn’t until very recently that Seungcheol would sacrifice his own free time and rest to get more money for the team by staying later at his job as a personal trainer.

  Minghao was about to respond when someone else did. ‘I will also be staying another shift tonight, so I won’t be able to.’ Joshua was another super selfless member when it came to the others. He wasn’t a nurse like he wanted to be, since he hadn’t been to school for it, but he was the best secretary the hospital had ever hired.

   The boy finally responded that he would take care of the house before turning off his phone and sliding it into his pocket. Minghao let himself relax for a moment and let his mind wander off. For some reason, it brought up the meeting with Junhui and his parents.

    The older had been a hit with his folks; they loved him. Junhui talked their ears off about how he met Minghao, how much Minghao does for him, and how Minghao talks about his parents all the time. All of it lies, of course, but Minghao’s parents ate it all up. Minghao played along with Junhui’s little act, pretending to be embarrassed and humble.

   A grin appeared on his face again when he remembered what happened when he got home: the other members had been mad that they didn’t get to go along and meet the people that raised ‘their favorite little The8’. He scoffed at the thought of nickname the other’s had given him.

    He secretly liked it, even though he would never tell the others as mu-

   “Your break is over.” Minghao’s eyes snapped open to see his manager standing with her hands on her hips. He mumbled out meaninglessly apologies as he rushed out of the room to get back to work.

   Another sigh. He really didn’t like his job, but at least he could earn some more money for his team, and that’s all that mattered at the moment, so he would pull through it for his friends.

Chapter Text

   As soon as the sun came up over the horizon, Mingyu was up, too. He had been awake for a while, but he waited for the warm yellow light to fill the sky before he did anything. He wondered for a moment as he dressed himself if it was a ritual he made normal with his disorder. He pushed those thoughts away as he put his right leg in his pants first like he always did.

  Mingyu had been diagnosed with OCD since he was eleven years old, so it became hard for him to distinguish odd habits from his disorder acting up.

   He sighed harshly as he opened the door to his room after turning the knob four times and started towards the dining room. It was definitely acting up now.

   It was probably because Mingyu had seen a dog last night and petted it four times. Of course, that shouldn’t have mattered because he washed his hands and took a shower, but for some reason his OCD was screaming at him to clean the house, that he had touched something and now it was smudged and everything was wrong.

   And just like that he had a rag in his hand and he was furiously rubbing all the available surfaces.

   The rag turned into a broom in his hand and he was sweeping the floor four times over just to be sure he had gotten every single piece of dust off the ground. After the monster inside of him decided that it was satisfactory, he moved to get the mop and a buckle of hot soapy water.

   Mingyu let out a hiss when he saw that it wasn’t in its usual place. Did the others move it so that he couldn’t find some kind of peace in this house? Where could it b-

   “You looking for this?” Mingyu’s head snapped towards the slightly cocky, hushed voice. Chan stood there with a tiny smirk on his face, the mop and an already filled bucket in his grip. Mingyu swallowed.

   “Did you-”

   “Yep. It’s four gallons, just how you like it.” Silence lingered between them. Another swallow and then the sound of every single knuckle being individually cracked. Embarrassment crept up Mingyu’s spine.

   “Why are you even up this early?” Mingyu scowled as he walked over the younger and took the mop from him with some force. Chan just laughed softly, as so not to wake up the others in the house.

   “I could ask you that same question, but it seems like it’s obvious.” The older narrowed his eyes at the youth’s lack of a clear answer.

   “Is it-”

   “Please don’t finish that sentence.” Chan closed his eyes as he abruptly interrupted Mingyu. He took a few deep breaths before looking Mingyu in the eye. The older knew exactly what was wrong.

    The youth had something called schizoaffective disorder. Chan claimed that it was passed down from his father, who he didn’t know because his mother was a prostitute. It made him go from super calm to super hyper, see hallucinations, and randomly attaching to an object. He also had major mood swings. The worst one was the one when he thought he was better than everyone else. That side got him in the most trouble when it came out.

    Right now, Mingyu wagered, Chan was having a weird burst of energy. That, or he was feeling suicidal again. It happened to the boy every now and again, just like it did with Mingyu.

   “Ok.” Mingyu said simply as he dipped the mop into the bubbly water in the bright yellow rolly bucket four times.

 


   “Why are you still here?” The older didn’t like the bite in his words, but it expressed his annoyance perfectly, so he didn’t apologize. Chan just smiled as he watched Mingyu from the kitchen’s doorway.

   “I just wanted to keep you company. Does that bother you, Hyung?” The youth’s voice was all cheery and dripped with fake sweetness. Mingyu made a face before continuing to wipe down the dishes in the sink.

   Talking about dishes, why was there so many? It’s like nobody cleaned them after they were done. Why did he have to live with such pigs-

   “Why are you scrubbing them so hard? If they’re that dirty, put them in the dishwasher.” Chan said with a knowing smile. The older took a deep breath.

   “Because the stupid dishwasher isn’t the thing that has OCD and needs to make sure that the dishes are absolutely spotless.” Mingyu tried to keep his voice from revealing how impatient he was. He desperately wanted Chan to leave him alone so that he could chug a bottle of beer and lose some of his inhibitions.

   Maybe that’s why the younger was staying, to keep him from drinking. Alcohol did bad things to people, they all knew that, but it didn’t matter to him at the moment.

   That’s when it happened: Chan sneezed. It was pretty innocent and soft, not like a nasty one that made you feel gross when you heard it. Even so, it triggered Mingyu. A spoon clattered into the sink. He braced both hands on the sides of the counter to calm himself down as he looked over his shoulder at the other.

   A memory hit him hard.

   The memory was one from a few months ago when he was brushing his teeth and getting ready to go to bed. He vividly remembered how he was washing off his toothbrush when Seungkwan walked in and stated that he needed to move so he could get ready to for sleep, too.

   Just as Mingyu was about to leave, Seungkwan sneezed.

   Something in Mingyu had snapped as he grabbed the youth by the arm and shoved him into the bathtub. He had made it to turning on the hot water and trying to soap Seungkwan up before Vernon threw him away and promptly beat him to a pulp.

   “Hyung? Are you ok?” Mingyu blinked to see Chan standing right in beside him with a worried face.

   “No.” His voice came out like sandpaper. The other pulled him off of the sink and wrapped his slightly muscular arms around him in a hug.

   Mingyu shut out all of the obnoxious thoughts of how he would need to take four baths to get rid of all the dirt that Chan was giving him and hugged the boy back. He needed this. He needed the loving human contact. He needed the stillness of his mind that was matched only by the stillness of the still sleeping house. They both needed this.

   “Better?” Chan’s soft and content voice melted his heart. Afraid that he might break down if he spoke, Mingyu hummed in response and hugged the other tighter, not wanting to let go. The other didn’t fight him as he did. Mingyu hoped that Chan felt the same way he did and would never let go of him either.

 

Chapter Text

   “You’re cute.” The fake blonde girl purred as she placed a hand on Seokmin’s arm. He just smiled back and tried not to gag as she squeezed his bicep.

   “Thanks.” His voice sounded like bubbles and sweet chocolate, if those things were a sound. The girl giggled and hit him lightly on the chest. Seokmin just huffed a small laugh as he leaned against the bar.

   He reveled in these kinds of missions, the kind where he didn’t have to do the killing or any serious interrogating. His only job was to lure the victims into a false sense of security before the others struck.

    “I want to learn all about you.” Seokmin leaned forward a bit, working his magic. “Do you have any family? Will I be able to meet them one day?” This line made the girl blush a bit and hide behind her hands. He chuckled and waited patiently for her answer.

    “Of course I have family! To much, if you ask me.” She huffed with a pout. His face shifted to concerned and curious as he put a hand softly on her shoulder.

    “What do you mean?” His words sound so real and genuine that he shivered. When did he get so good?

   “For starters I don’t even know how many illegitimate siblings I have. I know of at least eleven brothers, none I really care about. I’m the only girl.” Her eyes find his, waiting for his pity. He frowned in empathy for her.

   “So you’re not close to any of them?” Seokmin leaned closer, increasing the contact between. The girl looked down and shrugged as she shook her head. “That’s a pity because I really wanted to meet some of the people related to you to see if the beauty runs in the family. It’s important to know if my kids will look a good as you do.” The girl blushed again and he smiled cheesily at her.

   “Well” She paused to twirl her hair a second and chew her lip before continuing. “Well, I do know where one of them are.” Jackpot.

   “Hmm?” Seokmin tried to not look too overly interested in what she said. He leaned a bit closer. “Where?”

    “I’ve heard that he lives in the pink apartment building a few blocks away. He’s the nicer one of my brothers, but he moves so often that I can’t really talk to him much. Maybe you can be my excuse to barge into his place and talk to him again.” Pure gold. He smiled softly while brushing a stray hair behind her ear.

    “I’ll do anything to make you happy.” Seokmin used the voice that he knows drove girls and boys up the wall. It was soft but deep and smooth at the same time. She melted in her bar stool.

   “I think of a few things you can do then.” Her voice came out lower and sultry than before. He had to draw the line now.

    “If it’s what I think it is, it’ll have to wait.” She pouted and he laughed. “It’s not that I don’t want to!” He lowered his voice and leaned in even closer. “Trust me, I do.”

   He backed away quickly before she could make a move. “But I promised to myself that if I ever found someone I clicked with, that I would try and take it slow. I want us to last a long time. Is that ok?” Seokmin acted all innocent and afraid that she would reject. She didn’t. They never did.

    “No, that’s ok! I actually find it quite endearing.” She grinned and brushed her fingertips over his styled bangs. “I guess I’ll be seeing you then.” She ended it like a question, glancing up at him.

   “Of course. I should get going, anyway, before I’m tempted by you anymore. I’ll see you.” He finished with a cute kiss to her cheek. She blushed for the nth time as he did, calling him too stupidly cute for his own good or something like that. He wasn’t really paying attention.

   Seokmin was soon squeezing out of the bar and into the chilled air of night. He walked briskly back to the motel that he and the others were stationed in for a few days for this mission.

   He grinned to himself. He hoped that the others could hear the conversation well enough. It was a loud place and the microphone was quite small, but he had leaned in very close to her so that it could pick her answers up better.

   And, despite the circumstances, he was proud of himself. He felt all bubbly and satisfied with the way he was able to make the girl fall for him so quickly. It was like a pat on the back that he could get someone if he wanted and that people were actually interested in him.

    Even if he was a killer, was it a crime to want to have a relationship with someone, to want to steal someone’s heart?

   He pushed away the thoughts as he pushed open the familiar motel’s door. Maybe one day he’d find love, but first he needed to focus on his job and figure out a way to get out dating that girl.

Chapter Text

   “K-Kwannie?” Seungkwan sat up with a start as he heard his name being whispered from the door. The person in the doorway had his shoulders slumped and his head hanging. Seungkwan beckoned the sniffling boy to come to him.

    “What’s wrong Nonie?” Vernon didn’t answer Seungkwan’s question. He just crawled into the bed with the older, curling his limbs around Seungkwan. Seungkwan sighed and patted the other’s back as Vernon cried about some nightmare.

    It usually didn’t happen like this. Usually it was the other way around, with Seungkwan crying to Vernon. Seungkwan would be praying that the thoughts of eating all the food in the house and then throwing it all up so he would not to gain any weight would go away. These thoughts were symptoms of his eating disorder and body dysmorphia.

    Gentle snores slowly started to fill the room as Seungkwan softly shrugged off Vernon’s arms and legs before somehow getting out of bed without bothering the other. He padded to the bathroom, where he was greeted by an ugly creature. Seungkwan scrunched his face at his reflection before starting his morning routine.

    He made his way to the kitchen in the early morning light that flooded through cracks in the blinds. Starting up the coffee machine, he wandered over to the pantry to find something for breakfast. Just the sight of the food made him feel disgusted inside, but he pushed past that feeling and grabbed a package of crackers.

    He knew it was wrong. Oh, did he know it was wrong. Joshua and the others had drilled it in his head that it was wrong and bad and not to be done, but he couldn’t stop himself.

   Seungkwan buried the food underneath some trash.

   The others rarely checked, but he had to be sure that he wouldn’t get caught. He would do this as much as he could: waking up early and pretending that he ate breakfast. At first, he didn’t even take anything. Wasting food had become a sin in the household since it was harder and harder to afford enough to get by.

     It would have kept going like this, Seungkwan not eating and everything continuing as usual, but then Seungcheol starting checking.

     The leader knew something was up and figured out quickly what Seungkwan was doing. Seungkwan apologized and promised to never do it again. Even so, Seungcheol would do occasional food checks.

   Seungkwan sighed, feeling accomplished but also very guilty. He turned around to check on the brewing coffee to find a person standing over him.

     “What are you doing?” Vernon asked flatly. Stifling a yelp of surprise, Seungkwan tried to give a nonchalant shrug. He desperately hoped the other wouldn’t be able to hear his thumping heartbeat.

    “I’m just making some coffee. You should be asleep.” Seungkwan brushed off the younger and tried to shoo him away. Vernon raised an incredulous eyebrow, not moving an inch even as Seungkwan started to tug on the youth’s wrist.

    “You should eat something. You need food to survive.” Vernon’s voice was soothing and sleep laced as he pushed past Seungkwan and reached into the pantry. The older whined in protest, but stopped when he saw what Vernon had in his hand.

    “Wha-” “I even bought these for you!” Vernon interrupted Seungkwan with a sudden childlike smile. The youth handed Seungkwan a small packaged brownie.

    It wasn’t a regular brownie. No, it was a ‘healthier’ version of the treat that tasted almost like the actual thing. Vernon must have bought them secretly because the group had came together and agreed that there should be no sweets in the house. There was no need to buy extra treats and there wasn’t enough money to afford them.

    “You-” The words caught in Seungkwan’s throat. “How long did you save up for these?” The brownies weren’t the cheapest and the tips from his pizza delivery job didn’t give Vernon the best pay.

    “A few months or so, but that doesn’t matter. You like them, don’t you?” Vernon looked at Seungkwan with the biggest doe eyes. The older almost burst into tears at how sweet Vernon was being. Instead of crying his eyes out, he threw his arms around the youth, mumbling his thanks.

    “I guess that’s a yes.” Vernon giggled softly before pulling back from the hug. “You better eat that before the others come and find it. I don’t want us to get in trouble.”

Chapter Text

    “Oppa, I’m hungry.” Vernon’s sister mumbled pathetically. Vernon stared blankly down at her pouting face.

    “Your brother doesn’t care, and neither does anyone else. Stop being a whiny baby.” His mother hissed from she continued to embroider a pillow. Vernon’s sister sighed heavily and looked back at Vernon, like she wanted to see if what the women said was true.

    Vernon didn’t say anything.

    He didn’t know what to say, to be quite frank. He was hungry too, but probably not as much as his sister. Their parents had started to limit the food that they ate so that they would be skinny and easier on the eyes for potential buyers. Vernon got fed more than his sister because he had to workout his muscles, but still not enough for the 16 year old boy he was.

    His sister sighed and turned away.

    Later that night, the little girl tiptoed into Vernon’s room and curled up into his bed with him, like she always did. He put an arm around her slim frame and pulled her in closer.

    She felt so fragile and tiny compared to others her age that he should have been worried. He should have thought that something was wrong, but he didn’t. He never even noticed a thing.

    Not until it was too late, when she was a little too still the next morning.

    A scream ripped from his throat as he tried to desperately wake the small girl. She didn’t respond, just stayed limp and lifeless.

    “What’s wro-” “YOU!” Vernon pointed an accusing finger at his father. “YOU DID THIS TO HER! She was so young… WHY?!” In a moment, Vernon’s hands were around his father’s throat, squeezing.

    Then his father was on the floor, mimicking the way the girl looked, save the red marks on the dead man’s neck. Vernon turned his face towards the kitchen where he could smell bacon being cooked.

    “What are the kids fighting about, Honey?” Vernon’s mother asked, not even looking up from the frying pan. Vernon picked up a butcher knife and made simple work of the monster that stood before him.

    Blood was everywhere: the floor, the knife, his hands, his sister’s dress as he cradled her in his arms. He sobbed while mumbling her name.

    “Wake up, Nonie. Wake up.” Vernon blinked awake to see Seungkwan over him, distressed. The younger sat up and held Seungkwan in a tight hug.

    “She was so young.” Vernon trailed off before getting himself together. “Please be ok, Kwannie. For me, for her. Don’t starve yourself. You’re perfect the way you are.” The other hugged Vernon back.

    “I won’t, I won’t. Let’s talk a bit, and then go back to sleep. You need to rest more before work, ok?” Seungkwan said as he pulled away from the embrace and laid Vernon down again.

    “Ok.” He trailed off again. “Tell me a bedtime story. Please?” Seungkwan rolled his eyes at the childish request.

    “Fine. Once upon a time, there was this prince…”

Chapter Text

    Chan sat criss-crossed on the floor of Mingyu’s room and looked at all of the photo books that the older had. It was part of Mingyu’s disorder, he hoarded pictures- or, what the other liked to call them, ‘memories’. Chan couldn’t help, but grin a bit as a saw a picture of himself from years ago on a page labeled ‘Friends’.

     A small huff sounded from Mingyu, who was seething on his bed. “What are you smiling at?” Chan rolled his eyes at the other.

    “Still mad because Seungcheol Hyung told you that you couldn’t clean the bathrooms for the nth time today?” The younger snorted with a smirk adorning his face. Mingyu let out a hiss.

    “You little-” Mingyu cut himself off before continuing. “Seungcheol deserves to go and die in a hole for that. He doesn’t understand. He’s such a bastard sometimes.” This comment made Chan laugh out loud. The youth noticed that the corners of Mingyu’s mouth curled up at the ends slightly, but decided not to say anything about it.

    Letting a peaceful silence fill the air, Chan continued to leaf through the photo album. Pictures from before Chan was even with the group surfaced here and there. He stopped on one where Wonwoo, Seungkwan, and Joshua had paint handprints all over their clothes and faces. They all looked like they were in the middle of a fit of laughter when the picture was taken.

    Chan ran his fingertips over the edges of the photograph as his small smile turned into a frown. He wished that they could all smile like that again. He wanted to have fun with all of his friends, his family. He wanted all of them to smile and laugh without having to worry about money, or food, or people trying to avenge someone they killed.

    “Dump them all out.” His own voice whispered in his head. “Dump out all of his photos.” Chan ignored it and flipped to the next page.

     A picture of Jeonghan caught his eye, one where the older had long hair. Chan opened his mouth to say something witty about it, but he was cut off by his own thoughts.

    “Dump them out, Chan. Do it.” The voice was a bit louder this time. He rolled his eyes in aspiration at himself. Nothing he couldn’t handle.

    Not until they got louder.

    “DUMP. THEM. OUT.” One voice yelled as another said at the same time, “Just do it, Chan. You need to. Just imagine all of them scattered around the floor. Think of Mingyu’s face.” Chan curled his hands into hair to stop from doing the awful deed while scrunching up his face in an effort to stop the thoughts from streaming through his mind.

     “Umm, are you ok?” Mingyu asked, finally looking up and noticing Chan’s state. For some reason, that was it. That was the thing that made Chan lose all self control.

    He grabbed the book in front of him and turned it upside down. Most of the pictures slid from the plastic sleeves that held them, but some were stubborn, so Chan had to shake them out. Relief and accomplishment rushed through his veins as the voices cheered and praised him.

    “What diD YOU DO!?” Mingyu roared as he stared at the floor. The happiness that had previously filled Chan melted away to horror. He started to clumily gather up the photographs.

    “I-I’m so sorry, Mingyu. I-I’ll clean it up. I’ll fix all of this.” The words came out stuttered and rushed. Chan’s hands shook as he stared at the pictures that he had viciously thrown on the floor. Tears well in his eyes.

   “So stupid. You’re so stupid and worthless. Why would you ever do this? Look how much this has upset Mingyu! You should just die.” His own voice echoed in his head. Sobs racked Chan’s body as he apologized over and over again.

    “Shhh, shhh. Stop it.” Mingyu was beside Chan, helping the younger to his feet. The older shushed Chan as he pulled him for a strong hug. “Its ok. All is forgiven for this, just calm down.” The tears came faster and harder when Mingyu mumbled this.

    “I don’t deserve you, or anyone. I deserve to die. I should die. Look what I did. I should just go and die.” Chan hiccuped, fingers curling around the back of Mingyu’s shirt. The older stiffened for a second before rubbing Chan’s back softly.

    “No you don’t. You deserve to be happy and healthy. You deserve to not have this disorder so that you didn’t have to deal with things like this.” Mingyu’s voice was sincere and it calmed Chan down considerably.

    “Thank you, Mingyu. I’m sorry for wrecking your photo book. I should have a better handle on myself. I don’t what’s wrong with me today.” Chan mutters, pulling away from the hug to dry his eyes. Mingyu offers him a smile.

    “We all have our good days and our bad days. Let’s just take it one day at a time and focus on the good times and forgive people when their bad days come. Does that sound good?” Chan wanted to cry again at the sweetness in what Mingyu said.

“Yeah, sounds great.”

Chapter Text

   The cold wind whipped at you, chapping your face. You hissed in annoyance, covering your face with your hands to try to warm yourself up. Winter didn’t like to let go that easily. 

   You started to scout out the Oasis’s wall that stood over you, walking around and around a small block.

   The wall was an imposing symbol to everyone. To the people outside of the Oasis, it was a sign of the wealth of the people who lived in it. To the people who lived in it, however, it was a protection measure against the rogue people outside of it.

   You sighed in disappointment and stopped your walk. Nothing new. Returning to where you had previously been, you heard some talking. 

    “I think that President Yoon is planning something.” You leaned back against a brick wall, listening to two men talk. Their chatter before you had left had been mostly uninteresting, but now you were intrigued.

    “What do you mean, Jonathan?” The other asked with a surprised cough. You knew that if you were to turn the corner and look at them, the second would be glancing around to see if anyone had heard.

    “You know what I mean, Leon.” Jonathan scoffed. “The president is starting to become a bit too friendly with us out here.” Leon shushed Jonathan quickly. You thought that the talk would simmer out and stop, but you were surprised when Leon spoke.

   “Yeah. Yoon is starting to give more scholarship chances to the young kids around here. That’s a good thing, though. Kids don’t need to be in a place like this.” Leon’s voice was hushed, hardly audible over the chilled wind that blew through the dirty streets.

    “It is a problem! Don’t you see.” Jonathan started off strong, but then cut himself off. You guessed it was probably because of Leon.

   Jonathan continued in a softer voice. “Yoon is only letting really little children transfer in boarding schools in the oases. Even fourteen year olds who tried for a scholarship were told that they were too old to apply. Can’t you see what they’re doing? They’re trying to make our kids into loyal dogs to the president. If we were to even attempt the uprise that people whisper about in the street, Yoon would hold the kids above our heads. We wouldn’t stand a chance.” There was a long silence between the two after that. You sighed. Jonathan was one smart guy. If only the people outside of the Oases had more of them.

   You stayed for a few more minutes to see if they had anything left to say, but the two drifted off to other, less controversial, topics, so you ultimately moved on. You couldn’t afford to stay there much longer anyway. You had work to do.

   Pushing off of the wall, you made your way towards the walls, this time focusing on the entry gates. They were the only way in and out of this Oasis for miles and miles. More guards were stationed by these than by the rest of the Oases’ walls.

    You took a deep breath and nonchalantly glanced at the guards that were currently at the gates.

   “Yes.” You whispered. A smile formed on your face followed by a sigh of relief. Everything was falling into place.

   One of the guards, the one you were most relieved to see, had fair skin, dark hair, and almond shaped eyes. His dark green uniform was the same as the other guard’s, save for the tiny star on his shoulder. This star symbolized that he was a guard from the Outskirts, or the outside of one of the Oases. He was probably the bests of the bests from the Outskirts. The other guard was most likely one of the worst, and most destructive, from the Oasis.

    It panged your heart to think of how hard this boy must have worked to get here only to work with others who had their lowly job handed to them.

   “Hello, Miss. Can I see your identification card please?” Asked the one with the star. You glanced down. His nametag read ‘Feng’. A smile curled onto your face. Just as you had guessed.

   “I need your help.” You said in his mother tongue as you looked into his eyes. He was taken aback for a second before he hardened his face.

   “I don’t owe you anything. Why should I help you out?” You swallowed roughly at his harsh tone. He was a tough one, but you had already planned for this.

   “Please. I won’t cause you any trouble.” The guard hesitated for a second before shaking his head softly. “No-” He started, but the other guard cut him off.

   “What’s the hold up? Just make her take out her papers and lets get on with it.” The guard with a name tag reading ‘Greene’ grumbled harshly. Feng rolled his eyes out of Greene’s sight before he turned to the other.

   “She’s talking about my hometown. She went on a trip there during her break. Let me just talk to her a second more about where I’m from.” Greene let out a hiss of annoyance, but didn’t say no. Feng turned back to you and switched back to his native tongue. “Let me see your papers.”

   All you could think about is how much you hoped that this worked. “Ok.” You made your voice smaller, much more innocent. The tiny identification card seemed to grow heavier as you gave them to Feng. Your hand felt too light without it.

   “Thank you.” Feng said curtly as he opened the document. His eyes scanned it over casually until he reached your name. “Oh.” His face grew pale as he breathed out that word. He glanced up at you, then back to the card, then back to you. He swallowed roughly. “I see.”

   “What’s wrong? Is it a fake?” Greene asked, peaking over Feng’s shoulder to look at the document. His eyebrows furrowed, but he didn’t seem concerned like Feng. “What? It looks fine. Let’s send her through!” Greene grumbled impatiently. He most likely had hoped that it wasn’t real so he could have some fun.

   Too bad he had to be disappointed.

   “I” Feng cut himself off and locked eyes with you. “You’re right, let’s send her through.” His voice was more monotone now. You looked down at his twitching fingers and tapping foot. He was afraid.

    A satisfied grin set on your lips as he handed you your card. “Right this way, Miss Cela.” Feng gestured towards the door.

   “Just call me ‘Seven’.” You said with a smirk in his direction. His face was sickenly white as you slipped past him and into the unsuspecting city.

   This was going to be a fun ride.

Chapter Text

    A month in the capital Oasis had passed in the blink of an eye. In that month, you were able to learn how to melt seamlessly into the crowds. You noticed a lot of odd things that happened in the Oasis, like how everyone wore shorts and tank tops, despite the chilly weather. After watching some commercials on one of the many billboard signs that filled the busy city, you figured out why.

    The fad had come about when girls wanted to show that the seasons shouldn’t influence how good they look. Every single woman on the streets wore short dresses without jackets that were the brightest colors you could imagine. Boys also followed suit, but not as extreme as the girls, men usually sporting a light jacket.

    You couldn’t see the appeal in this as your teeth chattered while walking down the familiar street to the cafe you visited a lot. Sure your light blue tank top was pretty, but it didn;t protect you from the wind that blew through the city.

    The heat lamp’s glow welcomed you as you stepped inside. A small smile curled on your lips as you got in line and saw a certain someone wearing the same clothes as you were. How lucky. How very lucky.

   You purposely got a little bit too close when said person was going ordering, so that when she turned around with her coffee, she ran right into you.

   “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry.” The feeble gasped as you bumped into you. She didn’t spill her coffee, which was a good thing for you. Stains were the WORST thing to have in this Oasis.

   You looked up and gave her a warm smile. “It’s ok.” Letting your face fill with discovery, you said, “Wow! We’re matching.” The girl slowly looked down at her clothes and then up at your’s, a small smile take over her face.

   That was another thing that was weird in the Capital Oasis. Friends always dress exactly the same all the time.

   “Let’s talk after I get my coffee, ok? I don’t want to hold up the line anymore.” The girl nodded at you with the smile still on her face as she stepped out of your way and went to get a table.

   You knew this would happen, that she would like you and you would become friends. You had been studying her for the past two weeks in this cafe. It was just so fortunate to match like you did today so that you didn’t have to just go up to her out of the blue and potential scare her away. You were ready and excited to finally be able to really start your mission, excited in the way the lioness feels when she locks onto her prey before the hunt begins.

   A cat-like grin spread across your lips.

  This was going to be too fun.

Chapter Text

    You looked in the mirror, fixing your red dress for the fifth time. Unused energy from your time in the city was now rushing through your veins. Checking that you had everything you needed in you satchel, you glanced at yourself one more time.

    You almost put on some light blue lipstick called “Frostbite”, another popular cold related fashion that girls used, but pushed that thought away. Don’t do too much, you mentally tell yourself, someone might notice something’s up. Everything needed to be perfect for today.

   The streets seemed to be warm and alive with all bright colors, even as the wind whipped your dress all around. Maybe there was something about this style that was appealing.

   You just hoped that it wouldn’t carry on into the summer with everyone wearing heavy coats.

   You couldn’t help smiling as you saw another red dress in the cafe. She had kept her promise and worn the same thing as you. Again. This almost hurt your heart thinking about what you were going to do.

   Almost.

   She waved you over, like you couldn’t see her already, holding your coffee out for you. “Hey! This is the best outfit you’ve chosen yet. You look so good!” You smiled at her sweet words.

   “Thanks. I know you have somewhere to go today, so let's talk quickly, ok?” You grinned at her as you slid into your seat. She frowned for a second before brightening up again.

   “I guess you’re right. I’m a bit nervous about my date. Joonie says that he has some important questions to ask me.” Taking a sip of your coffee, you nodded, understanding.

   “We better hurry then!” You mirrored her excited smile. Not that it took much work to mirror, you were really anxious and ready to get this going. “What information do you have for me today?” You asked softly.

   The girl looked around nervously before answering. “Well,” she trailed off for a second before continuing, “I think that something big is about to happen with the boys. Joonie won’t say, but there is definitely something up. They’ve been having ‘secret meetings’ for hours and hours all this week. He just tells me that they are nothing, but then he wants me to stop going out so much. I don’t want to push him for information.” She trailed off again, taking a sip of her own coffee. You put a comforting hand on her arm.

    “Don’t worry. I’m sure you’re alright. I think that that’s enough for today. I’ll be bringing the money tomorrow. Thanks for your help.” She brightened up as you said that.

   “Really?” Her happiness radiated through the air. You smiled and nodded. She hugged you tightly, thanking you repeatedly. You pat her back softly.

   “Why don’t you tell me more about your date? Where’s the venue?” You asked as you pulled back. Very excitedly, she started to gush about all the details she knew. How small and vulnerable she was. You pitied her slightly.

   If only she knew what was coming.

Chapter Text

    The place was away from the hustle and bustle of the main streets of the streets. You had to sneak through some backstreets and alleyways to get here, but if everything went as planned, it would be worth it.

    Ever so carefully, you let yourself in and softly shut the door back onto the small piece of wood that kept it open for you. Voices already were echoing in the mostly empty warehouse as you stocked silently through the shadows, watching the couple.

    “Namjoon, I swear that I have no idea what you’re talking about!” The girl cried out from where she sat at the only table in the room. The boy, Namjoon, paced back and forth on the other side of the table. His anger was evident from his sharp movements and unsteady breathing patterns.

   “You,” Namjoon’s tone was filled with conviction as he turned towards his girlfriend with hatred in his eyes. “You know exactly what I am talking about!” His shout made the girl flinch and she couldn’t meet his eyes. You moved for a better view.

    “Joonie-“

    “Don’t call me that! Don’t talk to me like you’re innocent or that I’m overreacting here. I know about you meeting some guy.” You watched as the girl’s face contorted with fear and horror.

    You smiled. Yes, just as you had planned.

   “They’re not a g-“ She tried to explain herself, but she was interrupted.

    “SHUT UP!” Namjoon yelled as he slammed a hand onto the table. He took a few seconds to take some deep breaths as he walked over to the other side of the table where the girl sat, trembling. He leaned over and forced the girl to look him in the eyes. “Listen to me, if you didn’t like me, why didn’t you just let me down lightly?”

    “It’s not what you think. It’s for us, I promise. We’ll not have to worry about money for a while now.” The girl wriggled in his grip, still not meeting his eyes. Namjoon straightened.

    “What do you mean?” The girl blinked as Namjoon spoke, figuring out what she had done. Every hair on your neck stood up in the cold atmosphere of the room as you waited on the edge of your metaphorical seat for what was going to happen next.

   “I meant-“

   “Did you sell me out?!” You could see Namjoon’s eyes as they shine in betrayal. “Did you sELL ME OUT!?!” His anger manifested physically as he slammed the girl’s head into the table. She yelled out in pain as he didn’t let go of the back of her neck.

   “Namjoon! Please!” Another bang of face on metal.

   “NAMJOON!” Another.

   “DON’T ASK FOR FORGIVENESS NOW! NOW THAT IT'S OVER!! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?!” Namjoon yelled over the echoing of loud banging. The girl sobbed and screamed as he continued his relentless abuse.

   Until, after another bang, she stopped making any noise and stopped moving.

   “You made me do this.” Namjoon’s quiet voice trailed off and cracked as his ragged breathing calmed down. He released the girl’s neck and took a wary step backwards, surveying the damage.

   A sob caught in Namjoon’s throat as he put his hands up to his face. You took the chance, as he was in his emotions, to get to where you needed to be.

   You lifted the dart gun you had stashed in your purse beforehand, aimed it at his exposed neck, and pulled the trigger. The tranquilizer dart hit your target perfectly.

   Namjoon whipped around too late, you had already hidden yourself away out of sight. He coughed out what sounded like a, “Who’s there?” before dropping to the floor in a heap. You approached slowly and carefully, making sure that the sedative had set in successfully before you promptly got to work. You had too much to do and not enough time to finish it.

    As you hauled Namjoon off the ground and onto the other chair, you took a second to look at the dead girl. She was so young, too young. If only she could be spared. Unfortunately, she had given herself away to someone despicable.

   Glancing around the room again, you saw a bottle of wine, two glasses, and a candle. A wicked smile filled your face as you saw a devilish scene unfold in your head.

   You grabbed the things and set them up. Taking a step back, you survey the table. As much as your body loved the horrific picture that laid before you, you felt queasy. You pushed that feeling away.

   Murderers couldn’t afford to have weak stomachs.

Chapter Text

   Some groans signaled to you that Namjoon was now awake. Slinking from the dark shadows of the warehouse, you finally let Namjoon see you. He shook his head and tried to move his arms and legs, but they were unfortunately tied to the chair he was sitting in.

   “Who are you?” He asked as he squinted his eyes trying to look at you. His voice was scratchy, making you want to cringe at the sound. You just kept a soft, easy smile on your face as you gave him some time to get back into reality before you did anything else.

    “Oh my god” He trailed off. Perfect, he noticed the setting you had set up for him. You approached the table with a now white tablecloth adorning it. Well, mostly white. The girl’s blood did mess it up a bit, but you couldn’t help that.

   “Do you like it?” You purred, you grin growing. Once you got into the role that was taught to you since you were young, you played it so well. Just like a real insane killer.

   “Who are you?” He demanded again, ignoring your question with a dark gleam in his eyes. Your face didn’t change. You gave yourself a moment to survey the table and keep your composure before you spoke again.

   “She was trying to tell you that truth, you know that right?” Namjoon growled at your words as you moved towards the girl. You let your smile fade as you continued. “She wasn’t meeting with any guy. I'm obviously not a guy.” You glanced up at him to gauge a reaction.

    “... what?” His jaw went slack as he looked down at the dead girl with sadness in his eyes. Priceless. Your grin returned.

    “If you had just listened to her,” You trailed off before continuing. “Well, it still would be the same as now. She was, indeed, selling your secrets to me. How do you think she brought you that nice watch for your birthday? Too bad that you came followed her the day I decided to wear a hoodie and some jeans.” His eyes caught on the said item before turning his murderess gaze onto you.

    “You... you... YOU!” He growled at you as he strained in the rope. His movement caused the table to move slightly, knocking over the girl’s glass of wine.

    You stopped, watching the drink seep into the cloth and mix with the blood already there. Disgusting. You wanted to gag. You turned your eyes away from it to face Namjoon.

    “Now look what you did. You messed up the tablecloth.” You sighed dramatically for effect. “I was going to just have some fun with you before I got to the main issue, but you’ve made a mess. Let me just skip to want you’re really here for.” Namjoon visibly gulped. You smiled gruesomely. “I need some information from you that the girl couldn’t provide.”

Chapter Text

   “NO!!” You grimaced at Namjoon’s loud screaming.

   “You know, I didn’t pin you for a squealer under pressure. I thought you’d hold up better.” Grimacing, you raised your voice to be heard over his whining.

   “Please stop. Kill me, but leave my team unharmed. Please... pleASE!!” His broken whispered turned into a yell as yanked his chair sideways and away from the table so that you could look at him better.


    “You haven’t answered any of my questions, just muttered about not harming your precious friends.” You huffed as you made yourself eye level with the bruised and bloodied boy. A small, yet wicked smile appeared suddenly on your face. Maybe your dark side enjoying this a little bit too much. “But you haven’t proven yourself worthy of taking their place. Maybe I’d get answers if I did this to... let's say... Seokjin?”


    “DON’T SAY HIS NAME WITH YOUR FILTHY MOUTH!!” He lashed out, leaping forward in his chair in pure rage. Even as your heart leaped in your chest and tears threatened to prick at your eyes, you made sure to only move back slightly with an unsatisfied frown setting on your face.


    “Well I think you’ve shown your worth to me.” You spat as you went over to your purse and pulled out a compact handgun. Namjoon’s desperate whimpering returned as you turned to face him. “Goodbye.” You said smoothly, although your heart was beating so fast in your chest.

    With a surprisingly steady hand, you lifted the gun at you target and-


    You and Namjoon flinched as someone started banging on the entrance door you didn’t use. You could hear a voice yelling, “Namjoon?!” from the other side.


    You and your victim met eyes. Lifting your gun again, he started shouting louder for the boy to call the cops. Without wasting another second, you pulled the trigger and tried not to wince at the loud ringing in your ears.


    “Namjoon?” You heard the other boy’s voice, now a bit clearer, echo through the room.


    You took off towards the back exit, the door you had left propped open, as the boy started yelling at you to freeze, demanding you to tell him what you did to his friend. You didn’t have to even glance back to see who the voice belonged to. You knew.

    Park Jimin.


    You didn’t care about being quiet anymore as you let the door clang shut behind you, racing back down the alleyway in which you came. Good thing you didn’t leave behind any incriminating evidence, your purse safely tucked underneath your arm.

    You slowed your steps as you enter the main streets, blending into the crowd. You had a feeling that Jimin would not follow you. He was probably preoccupied dealing with dead friend. Still, you wanted to get out of your clothes immediately. If he was to follow you, it wouldn’t be too hard.

     As you wandered the streets, you thought about where to go now: back to your company or stay here another night? You wouldn’t be expected back at the company’s building in the Outskirts of another Oasis until at least two more days, so you decided that your hotel was your best bet.

    Something hit you hard as you were about to turn the next street corner. Not the usual feelings of sickness at yourself for what you’ve just done, but a strong hand. Said hand pulled you sideways into an alley.


    “What the-“ You hissed as your hand flew to the stranger’s neck, applying pressure so that the person would stop dragging of you farther away from the crowded streets, away from relative safety. It worked.


    “Stop that.” The girl’s voice was harsh, but too deep, like she was trying to sound all intimidating. You scoffed despite your racing heart.


   “Really? Or what?” You said defiantly to the woman still holding onto your forearm. For a second she didn’t say anything, he just stood there. Almost like she was waiting.

    But then she took a deep breath and smiled. And her smile— well, it scared you, to say the least.

    You were about to ask the woman to let you go, but you were interrupted by a sharp pain in the arm that was holding the girl’s neck. You turned your head in horror to see a small needle, connected to a hand, stuck into your arm.


     “I’d watch what you say if I were you.” Another woman’s voice rumbled behind you.


    As the world started to slip away, you did the only thing you could think of doing: squeezing the first woman’s throat as hard as you possibly could. You heard the girl behind you hiss as the woman in your grip gasped for breath.

    And then the world went dark.

Chapter Text

   “What is this?” Seungcheol grimaced as he heard Wonwoo and Mingyu loudly come through the front door of the house. He pushed himself off of the couch just in time to see the pair stumble into the living room with a limp girl slung over the younger’s shoulder.

   “Seungcheol!” They said in unison, Wonwoo in surprise as he looks straight at the elder, and Mingyu as if he was calling the oldest to come and help. Seungcheol opened his mouth to give some response to the two.

   Then he closed his mouth, not knowing what to say. Wonwoo scratched the back of his neck while Mingyu readjusted the body on his shoulder. The latter was the first to break the uneasy silence.

    “If we don’t hurry up, she’s going to wake up like this, and I don’t think that any of us want that.” Mingyu said as he slightly wriggled underneath the weight of the other person. Seungcheol shook his head disapprovingly as he rushed the boys out of the living room and to the stairs, taking them to the only room that didn’t have someone’s claim on it.

    The room was a guest bedroom of sorts, although the boys never planned to have anyone over. It was only used for when roommates got into fights or someone was sick and they needed to be separated to keep everyone else in the house from catching the virus.

   Mingyu set down the girl onto the white and fluffy covers of the bed that matched the rest of the blank and barren room. Her bright red dress splayed out across the bedspread, reminding Seungcheol of fresh blood.

    The leader scowled at this thought before turning towards the other two men.

    “Explain. Now.” Seungcheol deadpanned. Mingyu winced at the other’s harsh tone, while Wonwoo just rolled his eyes.

    “She’s an assassin.” The older answered first. Seungcheol eyed Wonwoo carefully before glancing back at the girl. Some dried blood peaked from underneath her dress around the thigh area. Alarm bells went off in his head.

    “Was she after you two?” The leader asked as he looked the pair up and down quickly, searching for any signs of harm. They looked fine, but Seungcheol still felt uneasy. He opened his mouth to say ask about that, but Wonwoo interrupted him.

    “No, she was after someone else. She killed them before we got to her. Then she was abducted. We had to take care of them. After we saved her, we tried to talk to her peacefully, but she started screaming. I had to give her some anesthesia.” Wonwoo stated as he patted Mingyu on the back a few times. The youth nodded vigorously.

    “Yeah, yeah, we’re fine.” Mingyu although he looked a bit pale. Seungcheol frowned. The youth seemed to be in his head a bit too much. Shock, maybe.

    “He’s obviously not okay if he’s like this. Go to Joshua’s room and text him to come home as soon as possible today. Do NOT go to sleep and if you start to feel dizzy or sleepy, call one of us. I don’t want to passing out on me.” Seungcheol went into stern leader mode as he spoke, softly pushing the youngest out of the room. Mingyu let out a whine, but ultimately followed the eldest’s directions.

   “And no cleaning or baths yet, ok?” Seungcheol called after the sulking boy. The taller let out a half huff, half child-like whine, but continue to shuffle down the hallway.

    After Mingyu was sort of taken care of, Seungcheol turned back to Wonwoo.

    “Tell me everything that happened, now.” Wonwoo huffed, muttering something about Seungcheol’s tone. The leader grabbed the other by the shirt collar. “Listen to me, Wonwoo, because I’m not going to say this again: start from the beginning of this situation and tell me exactly what happened. I need to know, for our group’s safety.”

    Wonwoo stiffened and then sighed, drooping his shoulders after Seungcheol let him go.

    “It’s not that complicated, Hyung, but I’ll tell the story. First let’s secure her and then get out of this room, I hate being in here with someone like this.” Wonwoo shivered as he said that. Rolling his eyes Seungcheol obliged.

     After he finished taking care of the girl, he stepped outside of the room where Wonwoo was waiting for him.

    “Are you ready to share your story now?” Seungcheol asked in a condescending tone, earning a withered look from the youth.

   “Shut up. Now let me think,” Wonwoo paused for dramatic effect, making Seungcheol sighed softly, before he continued. “It all started about a week ago, after Jeonghan pointed out this these girls who were acting strange.”

Chapter Text

    Wonwoo sighed as he dried some glass cups that reeked of sweet coffee. No matter how many times he had them washed in boiling hot water, they never seemed to rid themselves of the aroma. He wrinkled his nose at the thought.

    “Wonwoo, are you even paying attention?” Jeonghan looked up at the other with a raised eyebrow. Wonwoo shrugged and shook his head mutely, causing the elder to sighed disapprovingly. “I knew it, you never do.” Jeonghan continued before shaking his head and muttering some incoherent things.

    “What were you saying, Hyung?” Wonwoo asked as he rolled his eyes at the other’s behavior. Despite being the older one, Jeonghan acted like a child sometimes.

    “I was trying to tell you some interesting gossip, but you’re just so rude and decided ignored me.” Jeonghan pouted. “I don’t think I even want to tell you now. And you would have liked this one.”

   Wonwoo sighed. Maybe Jeonghan acted like a child more than just sometimes.

   “Would you please tell me again? I promise to listen this time.” The younger said, monotone, as he continued to clean glasses.

   Out the corner of his eye, he could see Jeonghan grow a slight smirk. How curious.

   “Fine, since you said please.” Jeonghan mulled over his words for a second, almost like he was thinking of where to start, before he began to talk about. “Well, it’s just these two girls. They come in a lot more now than they used to. I wouldn’t think much about it, except one of them has caught my attention lately. She’s just too,” he paused to think, “Well, just too good, if you asked me.”

   Wonwoo raised an eyebrow, but didn’t turn away from his job. “What do you mean by that?”

   “I mean, Wonwoo,” Jeonghan said as if what he meant was so obvious, “that she’s not real. She’s super fake, but too good at being super fake. She’s,” another trademarked Jeonghan pause, “different than the others here. More like us.”

   The mug that had been in Wonwoo’s hands was now discarded carelessly back in the sink as he turned towards Jeonghan. “And what do you mean by that?” Jeonghan just smiled smugly. Wonwoo already knew what was about to happen.

    “Never mind, I don’t know anymore. I think that my imagination was just getting the best of me.” The elder’s wistful voice and body language made Wonwoo furious inside. The youth controlled himself because he was still at work and he would never hear the end of it if he hurt Jeonghan at the cafe and got fired.

   Wonwoo did, however, grab the other’s arm and demand an answer from him.

   Jeonghan just smiled. “I don’t know what to tell you. I’ll point them out to you tomorrow when they’ll inevitably come back in. Then you can decide for yourself.”

   Wonwoo frowned, but let go of the other and turned back to his work.

   What did Jeonghan mean? Was there really another assassin in this Oasis? Why was she here? What did she need? He had so many unanswered questions sitting on the tip of his tongue.

   He sighed. He’d have to deal with any situations with the supposed ‘assassin’ when it came time to. No use worrying over it now.

   While Wonwoo continued to dry the smelly mugs, questions still plagued his mind. If only Jeonghan had kept his mouth shut until tomorrow morning, when Wonwoo could actually see these people.

Chapter Text

   Wonwoo watched as the ‘normal’ girl left the ‘different’ girl to sit alone at the table. She smiled ominously in her vividly red dress as she sipped her coffee.

   Jeonghan had been right. This girl must be one of them.

   “Don’t stare too long, she might catch on to us.” Jeonghan chuckled as he poured some caramel flavoring into a cup of coffee. Wonwoo rolled his eyes at the elder, but turned his body away from her direction, towards the other boy.

   “Ha ha, very funny.” The youth replied flatly. “What should we do about her? I have this feeling that she,” Wonwoo paused, trying to find his wording.

   “That she’s ready? Is about to complete her mission?” Jeonghan filled in, before looking at the number on the ticket and calling in out.

   “Yeah, like that.” The younger sighed out as he turned his head to glance back at the mysterious girl again. He straightened. “Jeonghan,” he trailed off. Jeonghan hummed in questioning as he looked up and saw what Wonwoo was worrying about. His eyes widened before he smirked and rolled his eyes.

   She was starting to gather her trash to leave the store. Wonwoo guessed, no, knew that she was not going to be back again. He looked to Jeonghan.

   “Please cover for me.” He blurted. The older raised an eyebrow while also taking a customer's order. “I don’t kn,” Jeonghan was in the middle of saying after the customer left, but he was interrupted.

   “Please.” Wonwoo begged with his hands together. Jeonghan raised both eyebrows. Wonwoo never begged the older. Never.

   “Wow, ok. I’ll do it, just remember you owe me one.” Jeonghan smirked as he reached a hand out for a deal. Wonwoo saw, out of the corner of his eye, the girl slipping out the door. He quickly shook and then threw his apron off.

   “Get ‘em, tiger.” Jeonghan whistled as Wonwoo speed walked after the girl. He didn’t know what would happen after he got to her, but he’d deal with that then.

 

 

   She was not a normal assassin. She had planned it perfectly, like she had been planning it for months on end before actually doing it.

   First, her murder location was far from the main roads; therefore, no one would hear her gun going off as she shot her victim. Then, she picked a location that, although it was farther away from the road, could get her to the busy streets in no time. There was also the factor of the massive amount of alleyways so that she could easily avoid capture by dodging through them.

   She was horribly brilliant, but she got caught.

   The much was evident as she sprinted out of the building, letting the door carelessly clang behind her. Also because she didn’t spot Wonwoo watching her escape from the shadows.

   Wonwoo followed as closely as he could without rousing the girl’s suspicion. He, fortunately, didn’t lose her in the colorful people that flowed through the main streets. He watched as she seamlessly became part of the crowd.

   Wonwoo shook his head, bringing himself back to reality. Stop admiring, he told himself, this is serious business. He sped up.

   Just as Wonwoo was about to reach the girl, she was pulled off of the sidewalk by a hand that latched onto her upper arm and violently yanked her into an obscured alley. Wonwoo halted, debating what to do. Should he save her, or should he let her be?

   Wonwoo was already in the middle of dialing Mingyu’s number when he decided. He leaned against the wall nearest to the alleyway, listening in on the conversation while relaying his current situation and what he knew to the other.

   “I’m on my way, Hyung, but,” The youth paused for a second before continuing, “Why me?” Wonwoo didn’t answer right away. He didn’t quite know why he chose Mingyu. He just did unconsciously.

   “Because you’re more likely to be home at this time.” Wonwoo supplied halfheartedly. Mingyu mumbled some response like he would see him soon and hung up.

  Wownoo leaned over a bit, trying to hear what was going on. He kept the phone to his other ear to keep his cover to anyone else watching, although he probably looked pretty obvious to an other assassins.

   “Does Wheelin have the van ready?” He heard one voice ask. A second one answered the affirmative with a grunt. Wonwoo peeked over the edge of the wall to see the girl he was originally following unconscious in what he believed to be the second voice’s arms. The girl he assumed to be the first one to talk was walking away from Wonwoo to find, he guessed, this ‘Wheelin’ who had a van.

   “Come on, Solar.” The first girl’s voice echoed. The second girl, Solar, rolled her eyes, but followed, dragging the girl by the armpits.

   This was not good. The chances of saving this girl were slim at this point, but if they moved her without him following… Wonwoo didn’t want to think about their chances.

   “Mingyu, grab the car and track me using your phone app. Hurry.” Is all he said before hanging up and sprinting through the streets like a maniac.

Chapter Text

   Suddenly, you were awake. Nothing major happened to wake you up, you just jolted out of the darkness that surrounded you. You let out a soft grunt and tried to relax the muscles in your arms, which ached for no reason. You quickly realized that they did have a reason to ache.

    They were chained together above your head. You looked down to see you were standing on a small wooden crate that stand about a foot and a half above the concrete flooring. Looking back up, you noticed chains ran up to some metal rings that were on the ceiling. The leftover chain links went down towards the floor.

   As your gaze followed the chains, you found out that they were held by a girl. That girl wore a devilish grin.

   “Wakey wakey!” She hissed as she yanked the chains back, sending you upwards. You screeched as you pulled your arms together and up, so that they could hold you up without dislocating. Within seconds you were already shaking from the effort it took to stay in that position.

   “Moonbyul, Stop!” Hissed another girl as she stepped out of the shadows. The first girl, Moonbyul, let out a grunt, but followed the other’s orders.

   You were suddenly dropped down a few inches right as your arms gave out. As you quickly kicked your feet all around, trying to find a foothold before your arms came out of their sockets, you realized that your tiptoes could reach the box that was beneath. You panted lighted as you balanced your weight back onto your feet.

   “Soon that box will be gone.” Moonbyul grumbled as she walked from your side where the chains were to stand in front of you. That’s when you realized she was the girl who pulled you into the alleyway.

   “It could have been gone already if you didn’t listen to Solar.” Another girl remarked as she slipped from behind you. The ‘Solar’ girl rolled her eyes as she came from the side opposite of Moonbyul’s side.

   “Shut it, Wheelin.” Solar snapped at Wheelin harshly. You remembered Solar’s voice as the person that had stuck a needle in your arm.

   “Are we ready to get this show on the road?” Yet another girl asked with a sly smile as she came from behind you like Wheelin did. All the girl’s smiled.

    “Would you like to do the honors, Hwasa?” Solar grinned roguishly. Hwasa answered with a curt nod before turning on her heels to face you.

    You gulped. They looked like a pride of lionesses ready to play with their meal long before they actually eat it.

   “You see,” Hwasa drawled as she swaggered around you in circles, “we have a sort of ‘agreement’ with some people.” A pause in speech and in step. Right behind you. “People like,” she violently pushed you so that you spun around and around, “BTS.” The others cackled in delight. You just winced.

   “We have created an alliance with them, so if we need them, they’ll help us out. And if they need us,” she paused again as she came to stand in front of you, “we’ll help them out. They sent out the call for justice, and we are here to answer it.” All the girls let out a hearty cheer with some evil laughter mixed in.

   “Just let me go. I’ll leave this Oasis and never come back. I’ll never bother anyone ever again. I’ll work for you, just please.” You pleaded as they continued to make all kinds of noise.

   “We don’t need you and we don’t need to help you. An eye for an eye, a leg for a leg, a life for a life.” Solar declared valiantly. The girls all cheered again as you shagged in the chains.

   What were you going to do?

Chapter Text

   Wonwoo gasped as he watched the girls laugh and cheer from a small tinted window that was in the door in front of him. Mingyu shifted uncomfortably beside him, visibly gulping.

   “What now? Do we just break in or,” Mingyu started to ask, but Wonwoo just gestured for the youth to quiet down. The taller huffed irritability, but didn’t say anything else.

   “If I may, Solar, I would like to start now.” Hwasa said, her voice muffled through the metal door. Solar waved her hand as a go ahead, making the other grin eerily.

   Hwasa sauntered up to the girl they trapped and suddenly yanked up the bottom of her dress. Mingyu gasped and tried to look away, but Wonwoo yanked his face to look back to show Mingyu that the other girl had barely lifted the dress.

   A cry sounded as Hwasa slid her knife over the girl’s now exposed thigh. Wonwoo wrinkled his nose in disgust as he realized what the group was planning to do.

   “Blood letting this time, Hwasa? So old fashioned.” Moonbyul said incredulously. The other girl just shrugged with a slight smirk on her face.

   “Just let me have some fun. You can do the whole ‘dislocating her shoulders, relocating them, and repeating’ thing you like next.” Hwasa said. Just at the mention of the words, the girl in the red dress, who now had a trail of blood sliding down her leg, squirmed and whimpered.

   Wheelin laughed. “And don’t even think about screaming. No one is going to hear, and, even if they did, they wouldn’t dare help you.” She said.

   “We have to do it now.” Mingyu hissed softly, lifting up the small crowbar he had brought from the car. Wonwoo nodded, backing away from the door.

   Mingyu lifted the weapon and brought it down hard on the doorknob, effectively breaking it off. Wonwoo then stepped forward and kicked the door in. This all happened within a second, so the group of girls didn’t have any time to react.

   Wonwoo and Mingyu lifted their guns simultaneously. Gunshots, not as loud as they normally were due to the silencers, rang through the room. Wonwoo focused on Solar and Hwasa while Mingyu took care of Moonbyul and Wheelin.

   It was all over in less than 10 seconds.

   Wonwoo kept his gun out as Mingyu holstered his and started towards the chained up girl.

   “Don’t worry, we’re here to help.” Mingyu said calmly as he slowly approached her. She huffed and lashed out her uninjured leg to land a kick on his chest. Mingyu staggered back a few steps, breathless.

   “Don’t touch me. You just killed four girls, how do I know you’re not going to just kill me too? Or kidnap me while I’m hurt and vulnerable?” The girl hissed as she struggled to get her feet back on the box she had been barely standing on.

   Wonwoo patted Mingyu on the back to make sure he was okay before he spoke. “Trust me, we’re here to save you from them.”

   “Are you the police?” The girl asked, keeping her narrowed eyes on Mingyu as he walked in a large circle around her to let her chains down a little.

   “No, we’re not.” Wonwoo said hesitantly, wanting to lie. A lie would calm her down, but not foster any trust in the end. The girl turned to look at Wonwoo.

   “Then why should I trust you? Why are you helping me? What do you want?” She asked in quick succession. Wonwoo had expected this, but not now. He had expected her to want to be rescued first, and ask any questions later.

   “Just let us help you now, and we’ll explain everything later.” Wonwoo said. The girl took a deep breath and sighed, hanging her head. Her shoulders shook as she started to cry softly.

    “There there, it’s ok. We’re here to help.” Mingyu comforted as he got up from the chains and went to help her down.

    Just as he got close enough, the girl whipped her legs out and kicked him in the chest again, sending him flying. Wonwoo grimaced and holstered his own gun to pull out a small rag.

   “YOU’LL NEVER HAVE YOUR WAY WITH ME! I’LL DIE BEFORE I LET YOU!” She screamed as Wonwoo grabbed her. He put the rag to her face and held it there as she trashed violently in his arms.

   “Calm down, we’re not here to hurt you.” Wonwoo said quietly as her movements slowed and the drugs kicked in.

Chapter Text

   Seungcheol rubbed his face, suddenly wanting a nap after Wonwoo’s story. The latter shifted uncomfortably on his feet.

   “What should we do now, Seungcheol? She killed BTS’s leader. Do you think we could,” Wonwoo trailed off his last question, eyes darting towards the room where the girl was. The leader took a deep breath and then sighed.

   “Maybe, it depends on how the girl responds to us.” Seungcheol said through clenched teeth. He didn’t just want a nap, he needed a nap, and was starting to get a bit cranky because of that.

   Just then, Seungcheol heard the front door open. Without even going downstairs, the leader called out, “We’re up here, Joshua.” It got quiet for a second before the footsteps headed up the staircase.

   “I figured that much.” Joshua said, sounding just as tired as Seungcheol felt.

   The older leaned against the nurse for a few seconds before pointing down the hallway. “Mingyu’s down there. Let’s go check him out.”

   “In my room?” Joshua asked incredulously, but had a relaxed smile on his face. Seungcheol let out a huff of laughter.

    “Yes, Doc. Your room is basically our little med station.” Seungcheol said as he wrapped his arms around Joshua. The younger let out a small, pitiful whine because of the sudden clinging leader, but didn’t push him away.

   “What’s the problem with Mingyu?” Joshua asked as he made the awkward two-person shuffle down the hall.

   “He was kicked in the chest twice by a female assassin.” Wonwoo supplied when Seungcheol didn’t answer. Joshua cocked his head in confusion, but didn’t really seem to question it too much. The unexpected was the norm here.

   “Is he in any pain?” The nurse asked like a professional. Of course he would sound like a professional, Seungcheol thought, Joshua is a professional.

   “He says he’s fine, but you never know with Mingyu. He would say he’s fine even if he was bleeding out.” Wonwoo huffed with an eye roll as they reached the room.

   “Hey, I can hear you, ya know?” Mingyu hissed as the group opened the door. Wonwoo mumbled something indistinguishable while flipping off the younger. Mingyu reciprocated the gesture.

   “That’s enough of that.” Joshua said as he finally pushed the leader’s arms off of his shoulders. The two youths stopped their gesturing with small smirks on their faces. “Lay down on your back, Mingyu. I need to be able to listen to and see your chest.”

   “Ok.” Mingyu suddenly sounded a lot tinier than he was as he crawled onto the bed and got onto his back. Joshua got his stethoscope and gestured for Mingyu’s shirt to come off.

   “I don’t need two capable people to be able to take care of him. Wonwoo, go stand guard the door. I’m assuming we have a hostage.” Joshua said simply, waving Wonwoo to leave. The latter huffed, but left the room anyway. Once the door was closed, Joshua set to work.

   “Breath in and out deeply for me, ok?” The nurse told Mingyu. Seungcheol moved closer to stand by Joshua’s side. The leader searched Joshua’s face for any sign of what he was finding, but the younger kept a blank face.

   “Ok, now I’m going to push a little bit around the area and you need to give me a pain number.” Mingyu nodded at the instructions and screwed his eyes shut. Seungcheol wince for the youth as he saw some slight bruising on his chest.

   “3.” Mingyu said as Joshua lightly pressed into his undamaged side.

   “Eh, 5?” The boy’s voice was a big tighter as Joshua pressed closer to the center of his chest.

   “6.” Mingyu hissed as Joshua pressed straight onto the darkest bruise. Seungcheol flinched inwardly.

   “Ok, so that one was a 10.” Joshua noted out loud as he gestured for the youngest to sit up. “I need you to tell me the pain for real, ok? I have to know in case we have to go to the hospital for an X-ray.”

   “Fine.” Mingyu grumbled as he sat up. Joshua put the stethoscope to the youth’s chest as he instructed him to twist slowly left and right. Mingyu grunted in effort as he moved.

   “Ok, so I have a diagnostic already, but just a few more questions to be sure. Does it hurt to laugh or cough?” Mingyu nodded. “Ok. Does it hurt to move?” Mingyu nodded again. “Ok. Did you hear or feel a crack at impact?” Mingyu shook his head this time. Joshua sighed in relief.

  “What is it?” Seungcheol asked worried. Even though Joshua looked relieved, it could still be something bad.

   “It’s just a small bruised rib. Not to bad. Take these pain meds and go straight to bed for a rest. The recovery time is about two weeks without anything too stressful for the muscles, meaning no working out for two weeks. Rest and lay down as much as possible. Also, make sure not to breathe shallowly, that could cause pneumonia.” Joshua said in quick succession as he handed the boy a cup of water and some medicine to take.

   Mingyu blinked slowly as he took in all in and took the medication. “Ok, Hyung.” He said dumbly as he was lead out of the room. Joshua gave him a quick smile before shutting the door.

   “So he’s ok?” Seungcheol asked as Joshua fell into his bed. Joshua sighed out and closed his eyes for a second before answering.

   “Yeah, he’s ok. He’s strong, he should heal fine.” Joshua yawned as he spoke. Seungcheol smiled softly.

   “Tired?” Seungcheol questioned as he started taking off the other’s shoes.

   “No, exhausted.” Joshua huffed. Seungcheol started to take off his socks now.

   “Then take off tomorrow. We need a nurse here for our ‘hostage’.” Seungcheol said as he started to massage Joshua’s feet. The other groaned in relief.

   “Thanks. I’ll call in sick tomorrow, even though I don’t want to.” Joshua’s words came out in grunts because of the painful foot massage.

   “Why don’t you want to? Is that old lady who likes to be exorcised coming?” Seungcheol asked. At the second question, Joshua let out a hearty laugh. Seungcheol smiled at this; Joshua hardly ever laughed, so to hear him laugh like this warmed the leader’s heart.

   “No no, she hasn’t come back since. The hospital didn’t seem too fond of her on her third and last visit for it. She was so nice though. She would come in asking to be prayed over and exorcised, and then talk about life afterwards while I checked all her vitals.” Joshua said dreamily with a fond smile on his face.

   “Sounds like such a woman.” Seungcheol mused with a matching smile. “Why don’t you look up her address and say you’re going to visit and give her a mental health checkup?”

   Joshua laughed again, this time softy. “One, it’s against the rules. Two, there’s no such thing as a ‘mental health checkup’.”

   “Well, there should be.” Seungcheol countered.

   Joshua’s smile faded. “Yeah, there should.”

   There were a few moments of silence before Seungcheol excused himself from the room so that Joshua could get ready for bed. The leader’s eyes strayed towards the room Wonwoo was guard. What would tomorrow bring? Who was this girl and what was her deal?

Chapter Text

    Bright sunlight filtered through the windows, waking you up even with the blinds closed. You brought your hands to your face to rub the sleep away. It wasn’t that you didn’t notice the manicals on your wrists, it was just too early to focus on the little details like that. You needed to fully wake up first, assess the room and the amount of security, and then, maybe, you would deal with the cuffs. 

 

   Sitting up slowly, you blinked, letting your eyes adjust to the unfamiliar room. It was all white and very sparsely decorated. It felt too hotel-like, except the hotel had never planned for anyone to stay in this room, so they didn’t put anything in it save for a bed, a dresser, and some blinds to make it look half decent. 

 

   Pushing past your harsh first impressions of the room, you scanned the walls for cameras and then at the door for a guard. In the back corner by the door, there was a small wooden chair with a angel-faced boy in it. He smiled softly in greeting.

 

   “Why am I here?” You questioned, wincing at your scratchy voice. You remembered the last thing you did while you were awake was scream in the face of some killer as he tried to incapacitate you. “Wait, am I dead?” You asked in surprise. White everything, angel boy, it all made sense.

 

   The boy laughed. “If this was heaven, then you wouldn’t be seeing me here.” A thoughtful pause. “Actually, hearing about what you’ve done, you probably wouldn’t be here either. So maybe the better question is, ‘Is this hell?’”

 

   You blinked. He did have a point, but you scowled at him, nevertheless.

 

   “You didn’t answer my first question.” You pointed out, making the other chuckle again. 

 

   “I’ll give you an answer when you deserve it.” You hissed out a breath. “And when I am able to give you those answers. My superior is not very forgiving when I make little slip ups.” The boy added after a beat. You noticed how other’s voice was dripping with in teasing disdain as he said ‘superior’ and made a note of that.

 

   “Look,” You started, not exactly knowing how you would finish that sentence when you were hit with a wave of nausea. You screwed your eyes shut, beginning to pant as you strained against the restraints.

 

   “Woah, are you ok?” The boy asked, genuinely concerned, as you heard the sound of him standing up from his seat. You just grunted and shook your head, trying your hardest to keep the bile down.

 

    Sleep inducing drugs always made you sick. You had known that and had made a note of it  on your long list of mental notes when you woke up, but it wasn’t your first priority, maybe because you had forgotten what it felt like to be sick. When you were sick, you went all in with in, not resting or pausing too much in between bouts. You knew you would be wrecked for the next few days.

 

   The boy’s footsteps rushed out of the room quickly, but you were a world away from that as you continued to struggle to keep yourself composed. You didn’t even register that someone came in and stood beside you until you felt something move in front of your face.

 

   That something was a small trash can. You looked up to the person who put it there.

 

   “Please don’t mess up the bedding. It’s hard to clean and I’ll have to be the one to do it.” A new boy said as he started to rub your back softly. His energy was soothing and reassuring. You almost thanked him, but you were interrupted by the sickness ripping through you. 






   The tiny trash can was filled at least five times, having to be dumped out and cleaned between sessions of sickness. Through it all, the nurse-boy was beside you. He switched from standing and back rubbing to sitting next to you on the bed and hugging you in the worst half of it; a.k.a. the dry heaving part.

 

  He may have even dried your tears as you cried at the immense pain you were in and how it felt like it would never stop, but you would never admit that to anyone. 

 

   You fell asleep once or twice between the bouts of throwing up and awoke with the trash can and nurse-boy waiting for you. 

 

    You later figured out, through some arguing and ordering around, that the nurse-boy was either Joshua, or Joshuji, by what the angel-boy said. And you figured out the angel-boy was called Jeonghan, or Hannie. You were pretty sure the first ones were their names and the second their nicknames, but you weren’t too sure in your bleary state.

 

   “Are you all done?” Joshua asked as he petted your hair. You shrugged and then nodded hesitantly. The nurse-boy nodded back and then waved his hand at the angel-boy. Jeonghan scowled, but left the room.

 

     “By the way, thanks for not messing up the bed like I asked. You’re the most respectful patient I’ve had in this house so far.” The boy continued, ignoring Jeonghan as he muttered something unintelligible while he brought in a small fan.

 

   “What is this for?” Your voice was a whisper and it felt almost too gross to speak. Joshua smiled and went on to explain that it helped to calm and cool you down after being so sick like you had been. As he started to go on about something to do with it, you spaced out. Questions danced around your head.

 

  What could they possibly want with you? If they wanted revenge for what you did, they could have joined the group of girls that had you before, but they didn’t. They ‘saved’ you, only to shackle you up again.

 

   What if they wanted something that you didn’t want to give them. You hated to think on the topic of the most possible want for you, so you tried not to.

 

     Of course, if they did want to do… ‘it’, then what would you do? That was more unpleasant to think about than the one before, so you definitely didn’t spend any time thinking on that one. 

 

   Why had you been so trusting of this nurse-guy? He was obviously on their side, by the way he acted so naturally and, somewhat, nicely with Jeonghan. Then again, you didn’t have much of a choice in your condition. 

 

  “Are you even listening? Do you need the bucket?” Joshua asked, half-hurt, half-worried. You waved him off, causing your shackles to jingle, and laid back against the pillows unceremoniously.

 

  “Can you just let me take a shower, brush my teeth, and that other stuff? Or, at least, let me sleep some more.” You grumbled. Joshua looked displeased at your sudden display of disrespect and lazy attitude. 

 

    You looked over at Jeonghan to see what his reaction was, but he just stared back at you with a blank face. A shiver went down your spine as you noticed the glint in his eyes that let you know that he didn’t tolerate disrespectful people.

 

    You decided that you would try and make sure to push that line of disrespect with him whenever you had the chance. You weren’t the one to go out of your way to have trouble, but you did love to test people and their limits.

 

   “Well, you’ll have to wait a while before you can get an answer for what you are aloud to do. For now, you may rest, though. When the time comes, I’ll be back with a few things to ask about your health and for a checkup.” Joshua said, deadpan. You noticed how he used the word ‘aloud’. 

 

    So you were a prisoner of sorts here. At least, for right now you were.

 

   Then the two boys left you alone in the room. You blinked, surprised that they trusted you alone already, especially with what you just said. Quickly, before they could decide to come check on you, you turned so that you could look at the cuffs you were wearing. 

 

   They were pretty sound type of manicals that were welded onto iron chains that connected to the bed’s backboard. You grabbed as close to the end of the chains as possible and yanked. The didn’t even budge. 

 

   “They aren’t usually there. You’re a special case.” You spun to face the door. A new boy was standing there, this one was slightly shorter than the last two, but not too short. He looked younger than Jeonghan, who had matching blonde hair, and the grey-haired nurse.

 

   “I,” You started, but then realized that there was nothing to say that would make your actions seem innocent, so you changed what you were going to say. “Why am I here?” Is what you decided on.

 

   The boy sighed and shook his head slightly as he sat down in the wooden chair where Jeonghan had been. “You already know I can’t give that information.” 

 

   You scowled. “Can you bring in someone who can?” So far you had met three people, and none of them were the leader there. “How many people are here anyway? Four?” Then you remembered the people from the day before. “Five?” 

 

   The boy laughed, a breathy and haughty laugh. “That’s none of you business. And I’m not going to bring in a superior yet. It would be out of line and, frankly, stupid to leave you here alone when you obviously have a mission to escape.” Your scowl turned into a hard frown. His words only sparked more confusion and questions.

 

   How were you going to escape? Was escape even worth it at this point? Who were these random people and what did they want from you?

Chapter Text

     You had to wait twenty minutes before Joshua came back in with another new person. This one also had grey hair like Joshua, but his aura was stricter and more leader-like. There was no doubt that this one was the leader.

 

   “So, I hear that you’re ready to meet me. I’m Seungcheol, the leader around here.” He said, keeping his arms folded on his chest. So he wasn’t one to shake hands. Or maybe he was, but not when the other is possibly still sick. 

 

   “ Finally .” You croaked as normally as you could with your messed up throat. “Can you tell me why I’m here and what’s going on?” You were ready to finally get some answers.

 

   Seungcheol gave you a tight lipped smile. “No.” His voice was clipped and very deadpanned. You blinked in surprise.

 

   “Wha-” “You can kindly shut your mouth before I decide not to restrain myself from hitting you.” Seungcheol interrupted you, gritting out. He didn’t seem to have any patience.

 

   “Seungcheol, I need to give her a checkup and she may still be sick. Please don’t rile her up too much.” Joshua quipped calmly as he set down a medical-looking box down on the bed. Seungcheol glared at the nurse-boy.

 

   “Joshua, she’s being disrespectful. In her situation, she should be the one who’s the most in line.” Seungcheol said in a hushed voice , but loud enough for you to hear. Joshua looked up at the leader with disappointment dancing through his eyes.

 

   “Don’t make me send you out. Chan, you should go ahead out. He could be a trigger for you.” Joshua’s voice turned sweet and docile as he addressed the younger boy who had been guarding you. Chan nodded once before leaving. 

 

   Joshua then turned towards you and pushed Seungcheol aside softly so he get to you fully. The leader didn’t argue, but did looked disgruntled. 

 

    “Sorry, I’m going to need to lift your dress a bit.” Joshua apologized as he did what he said he was going to do. You watched as he lifted your red dress just enough for you to see the thick bandages wrapped around your thigh. 

 

   “Oh.” You hissed out without meaning to. The pain suddenly started just like when the wound was made. You had forgotten all about it until then, and it hurt so bad.

 

   “Does it cause you any pain?” Joshua asked softly as he started it unwrap the bandage. You nodded, not seeing why you should lie to someone who was helping you at the moment. If it had been Seungcheol, then your answer would have been different.

 

   The top parts of the bandages were all white and clean, but as he kept unwrapping, they started to get more and more stained. Your stomach clenched.

 

    “You might want to look away if you still feel nauseous.” Joshua informed you, stopping his movement to watch for your answer.

 

   “No no, I need to see the wound. I need to know the state of it.” You said. Even though you felt very queasy, you needed to be able to tell how long it would take to heal.

 

   Joshua nodded and quickly unraveled the rest of it. You bit your bottom lip hard and Seungcheol gasped softly at the sight of the wound, but the nurse-boy held an even face, which you were thankful for. 

 

   The cut was shallow, but long, spanning almost the whole horizontal length of your thigh. It was showing signs of the start of a scab forming, but not a lot. The pain was still very much fresh. You hadn’t had a wound like it in a while.

 

   “I can tell you now, it’s going to be about two weeks at the least. Not too deep, so you can be fully functional in terms of normal walking, but no running or anything like that for a while. I suggest that you don’t even squad too much.” Joshua said in a doctorly voice as he started wrapping the wound back up. You nodded, starting to calculate when you would be fit to work again and then realized something.

 

   “How long have I been out?” You asked seriously, again wishing for a good toothbrushing and hot tea. 

 

   “You were out for a whole day, so not too terribly long.” Joshua answered, not even looking up from the wrapping he was doing. You whined slightly at the pressure.

 

   “You must have a high pain tolerance to be enduring that.” Seungcheol said, trying to be nice and lighten the mood. Or something like that, you thought. You shrugged.

 

   “When can I freshen up?” Was your answer. Seungcheol scowled for a second, before straightening up when Joshua sent him a nasty glare.

 

   “Whenever you finish.” Seungcheol stared at you for a few seconds while Joshua finished with you bandages, sizing you up. You tried your best to look immteadating. The elder scoffed. “Junhui will accompany you.” The leader added, obviously switched into leader mode by the way he ignored the noise of disapproval the nurse-boy made when he said ‘Junhui’. 

 

   And with that, the leader left the room. Joshua rolled his eyes. “He’s like that sometimes, forgive him. He’s,” the boy paused, searching for the right words for a moment. “He’s just a leader and we’re all a bit stressed at the moment. Jobs are hard to come by. Money is tight. We haven’t been ourselves. Hopefully that will change soon, now that we-,” Joshua cut himself off, staring at his equipment.

 

   “Now that you have wha-,” “I’ll go get Junhui for you.” The boy interrupted you. “Take your time in there because you’ll have a lot to answer afterwards.” He added quickly. 

 

   Before you could ask the boy what he meant, he grabbed his stuff and left. Chan came in a second later, sitting back in his chair with only a slight nod in acknowledgment. 

 

    You sighed, even more confused now than before.

Chapter Text

   Junhui was not who you thought he would be. He was a tall and bony brown-haired boy. He had a pointy nose and wry smile. Definitely not the guard you had been expecting.

 

  “I’m here to take her to freshen up.” Junhui said to Chan, who was looking at him in confusion.

 

  “They put you in charge of her ?” The younger asked incredulously. “Why not Soonyoung or Vernon?” Your stomach dropped at the additional names. There were more? You felt like you should have been prepared for this revelation, but it still caught you off guard. 

 

   “Because Vernon’s at work and Soonyoung is calming down Jihoon right now. He’s still pissed every time he sees Mingyu.” Junhui answered, sounded slightly hurt.

 

   “Just be careful.” Chan sighed, patting Junhui on the shoulder. “I’m taking a nap.” He added as he slipped out the door. Junhui turned his attention back to you.

 

   “Let’s go.” The boy gave you cute smile as he gestured towards the door like an 18th century gentleman. You rolled your eyes, but had to hide a soft smile as you sat up and tried to get off the bed. Key word: tried .

 

   “Uh,” You said as you held up your manicaled hands. Junhui blinked, but then smiled in embarrassment. 

 

   “Oh yeah, I’m supposed to unlock you first.” Junhui walked towards you while digging through his pockets. For a split second, you thought of fighting him, getting the key from him, and running. You ultimately shook the thought from your head, knowing it wouldn’t work like you wanted it to. You were desperate to get away, but not stupid.

 

   Junhui helped you out of the bed, letting you hold onto one of his arms as he softly wrapped his other arm around your waist. He basically held all your wait as he led you to the restroom, all you had to do was move your feet.

 

   “Thanks.” You mumbled as got into the bathroom. You could have probably done it yourself, since it was only on the other side of the room, but it was nice to have someone take care of you for once.

 

   “Everything you need is in the cabinet behind the mirror.” Junhui answered. You didn’t need to look back to know he was smiling. 

 

      With one hand on the sink to steady yourself, you used your free hand to open the cabinet and grabbed the toothpaste and toothbrush. When you closed the cabinet, you finally took a second to look at yourself in the mirror. 

  You looked, for a lack of better words, awful. Your hair was all nappy and your skin was paler than normal. Your eyes were rimmed with red and your lips crusted and bleeding. You couldn’t remember a time that you had looked this bad. It made your stomach clench at how weak you had become.

   “Everything ok?” The guard asked. You screwed your eyes shut. You heard Junhui’s footsteps start towards you, so you waved your hand to stop him.

 

   “I’m fine.” You gritted out. After you had finished brushing your teeth and hair and washing your face off, you slowly took both hands off the sink. You legs held strong, to your absolute joy. You were getting stronger by the second.

 

   “I need a shower.” You said to Junhui as you turned to face him. He giggled softly and muttered something like, ‘yeah, you do’ but you didn’t call him out on it. “Well then please leave so that I can do that.” You quipped at him, hoping for some privacy at last. To your disappointment, he shook his head.

  “I can’t do that. What if you fall again and hurt yourself?” His sudden smart words and smirk didn’t impress you. You raised an eyebrow at his attitude change, making him sigh. “Look, I can’t leave you because then you’ll try and escape or kill yourself or something.” His voice got small at the last few words. Before you could say anything, he continued. “The shower curtain wraps around, so I can’t see you in there.“ 

 

    After a pause, you huffed and surveyed the shower momentarily before deciding to comply. You started to get into the shower, butJunhui stopped you. “Oh, and you have to wear these cuffs. You’re my liability right now, so I don’t want to get in trouble with anyone of things go wrong.” He held out a pair of thin, shiny manacles.

  “How does that even make sense?!” You raised your voice him, making him wince slightly.

  “If you get away and they ask me about it, I can say, ‘Well she was still wearing her cuffs’.” He squeaked. You pushed aside his nonsense of an explanation, knowing he was probably told to do this, and stepped into the shower.

    “Fine, but you better have me a towel and some new clothes when I’m done.”

   “Of course!”