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The Gifted Few

Chapter Text

Minho grunted as the punching bag he was holding was attacked. He adjusted his footing and strengthened the forcefield supporting the bag as it continued to be attacked with a barrage of punches and kicks. After a minute the young man slowed and took a step back.

“Done already Jaehwa?” Minho commented with a teasing tone.

“Nah, I was thinking why should I be beating up this poor, innocent bag when I could be fighting a real person? What do you say?” Jaehwa responded as he stared into Minho’s eyes, daring him to fight.  

“I don’t think that’s a very good idea, we shouldn’t be using our gifts unless we need to.”

“Or are you scared of losing against me?”

The small training room at the back of the BTS hideout turned silent at the sound of a challenge. Since Minho was the oldest among the group of runaways, no one had tried to straight up challenge him to a one on one fight before. Ryujin and Yuna, who had been stretching off to the side, got up and joined the two boys in the center of the room, interested to see how this would play out.  

“I think you're the one who should be scared of losing, Jaehwa,” Yuna cut in. “Besides, if you’re looking to get a win, why would you challenge Minho oppa? Everyone knows he is the best out of us newbies when it comes to martial arts fighting.” When Jaehwa took too long to respond, Ryujin was able to confirm her theory.

“I think he believes that just cause Minho oppa has a Rank 2 gift and he has a Rank 3 gift, he has an upper hand. Sorry to burst your bubble, Mr. High and Mighty, but there is a lot more to fighting than the attack capabilities of your gift. If you wanna be able to win, you should spar Taehyun. He is too nice, so he’ll just let you win.” She points in the direction of a smaller looking boy who was working on some self defense techniques J-Hope had taught them earlier in the corner. At the sound of his name he turned towards the group of four with his brows drawn together in confusion.

“If ya think so, why don’t you fight me then and prove me wrong? You’re a Rank 2, aren’t you?”

Ryujin and Jaehwa glared at each other, daring the other to make the first move. Jaehwa, who Minho could already tell was a hothead after only knowing him a month, went for the first punch, but his hand went right through her. Ryujin smirked and walked through him until she was behind him. She kicked his back causing him to stumble forward. He scowled, quickly regained his balance, and turned for another set of punches he knew were useless. While she was distracted by the punches, Jaehwa went for her feet since he knew they were solid so she wouldn’t fall through the floor. She saw him eyeing her feet and managed to jump in time. While he was still off balance, Ryujin walked through him again and returned the favor by sweeping his own feet out from under him.

“The agency only ranks gifts based off of destruction capabilities. Just because Minho and I are a lower rank doesn’t mean our gifts aren’t ten times better than yours,” she says as she looks down at him on his butt. “Super strength is so cliché anyway.”

Jaehwa was obviously angry and about to shout a comeback from his position on the floor when another guy entered the room with a dramatic gust of wind blowing the door open. Everyone stopped what they were doing and turned toward the culprit.

“Was that necessary Beomgyu oppa? You could have opened the door without using your gift, you know?” Yuna said as she fixed her hair.

Beomgyu ignored her as he jumped excitedly and started to speak, “I just overheard BTS talking about their raid plans.” He stopped in the center of the room as the five others gathered around him in order to hear what he had to say.

BTS were a Gifted rebel group who fought for the equal rights of Gifteds and for the end of the cruel practices of the International Power Balance Agency—or IPBA for short. Everyone in the room had, in some way, been helped by BTS out of really shitty situations. They all looked up to them, and the only reason any of them were not starving on the streets or in prison, was because BTS gave them a place to stay in exchange for them also helping the group as backup during any of their operations.

“I overheard RM hyung saying they are planning on breaking a group of Gifted boys out of a Gifted juvinile prison. I don’t know the details of how they were captured, but I heard one of them is a Rank 5,” he stopped talking for a minute as everyone collectively gasped in astonishment. Rank 5s were extremely rare because someone was only given the rank if their gift had apocalyptical capabilities. “Suga hyung managed to hack into the IPBA database and found out they are planning on terminating him”.

“They’re going to kill him?!” Taehyun gasps with shaky breath.

“Yes, that’s what I just said.” Beomgyu rolled his eyes.

“Well, when then? And where?” Taehyun asked.

“It is scheduled to happen three days from now at Seoul Reformatory. Anyways, when the rest of the group found out about it, they immediately decided to break him out before the agency can do it, but then Suga found out there are another two boys being held at the penetitionary just because they knew the Rank 5 and didn’t report him”.

“I wonder what his gift is?” Jaehwa questioned.

“Is that really important right now?” Yuna asked while she slapped his arm. “How can you be thinking about such a thing when the agency is planning to kill someone in cold blood. Not to mention they imprisoned the two others just for being good friends.”

“I swear to God, if those kids were Normies then they wouldn’t have even got a slap on the wrist for ‘not reporting’ him. I am so sick and tired of these double standards. You think discrimination would have died out by now,” Ryujin says angrily.

Minho, whose eyes have been downcast since the mention of the execution, looks up with a dark glare to his eyes. “Humans are just destined to repeat history over and over again because everyone is too lazy to learn from past mistakes.” The bitterness he said those words with caused everyone to silently stare at him.

However, the silence in the room was broken by the sudden sound of fighting outside the practice room. All six of them quickly stand up in defensive positions when suddenly the door is flung open aggressively for the second time that night, but this time because it was kicked in. A group of fully armed men dressed in all black tactical gear stormed in with the initials IPBA printed in bold white letters on their bullet proof vests.

“Shit,” Minho heard someone say as Taehyun and Beomgyu fall to the floor.

A second before, Minho had heard the muffled sound of the tranquilizer gun went off. He quickly threw up a forcefield to protect the rest of them in the room, but Yuna was already charging at the agent closest to her. She grabbed his gun before he was able to reload it and melted it in his hand.

“Yuna-ya! Don’t run straight into things!” Ryujin shouts, but her words fell on deaf ears as Yuna continued forwards, using the agent as a shield against the tranquilizers. “Screw it. Jaehwa, grab Beomgyu and Taehyun. We’re leaving.”

As soon as he had them, Ryunjin grabbed Minho and Jaehwa’s shoulders and dragged them through the wall of the building and and out into the alleyway to the side of the seemingly abandoned warehouse.

“How did they find us?” Jaehwa shouted as they ran deeper into the alley heading towards another part of the city.

“I don’t know, you idiot. Now stop shouting unless you want to give away our location,” Ryujin whisper shouted.She led the way as they turned a few corners in the alley system. Eventually, the next street over makes it into their sight, and they made a run for it, hoping to disappear into it looking like a group of college students with two passed out drunk friends. As they neared the street, two agents popped out from another alley and fired off tranquilizers. Minho managed to block the tranquilizer aimed at him and Jaehwa, but Ryujin wasn't expecting it and fell down.

“Ryujin!” Minho yelled.

“Fuck this shit. I'm out,” Jaehwa cursed, and then he used his strength in his legs to jump onto the terrace above them and made a run for the roof.  

“Hey! Get back here you asshole,” Minho shouted after him. “That worthless piece of shit.”

Minho ran back the direction he came with a forcefield on his back to prevent him from being shot. He twisted and turned through countless alleyways with the agents still on his tail. Somewhere along the way, more agents joined the chase, and he knew he was going to be caught any minute. Finally, he came around a corner only to realize too late that it was a dead end. He turned around, ready to fight the agents who are advancing on him when he heard a voice in his head.

“Jump!”

Minho knew he would be able to take out all six agents trying to surround him right now, but he also knew that by the time he managed to do so, the attack would be worthless. It would just result in him having low stamina, low energy for his forcefields, and another wave of agents arriving as backup. His options seemed limited, so he thought ‘ what the hell?’ .

And jumped.

Chapter Text

Minho didn’t know what he expected to happen when he jumped, but he knows he was not expecting to float upwards into the sky. He quickly closed his eyes as the ground grew further away from his feet because despite how tough he may seem, he was absolutely terrified of heights. He refused to open his eyes until he felt a hand grab his arm and drag his seemingly weightless body to the roof of the building next to him. Once his feet were on solid ground, he frantically moved to yank his arm from the stranger’s grip. Confused as hell, he backed up and took in the sight in front of him.  

There were three men who seemed to be older than himself by a few years. One was crouched near the edge of the building with his eyes closed, seemingly focused on something. The second man was close to the first, looking as if he was waiting for the man to open his eyes and say something. Finally, the third man, the one who had grabbed Minho, was looking at him with his hands in the air in order to show he means no harm.

“Hey, hey. Calm down. He aren’t here to hurt you. We are actually here to save you,” the third man said with a calmness to his voice.

“W-what just happened? Whose voice was that,” Minho questioned, wanting answers. He didn’t know any of the people in front of him, and he never did too well with strangers.  

“The voice in your head was Mark hyung,” he said pointing to the man with his eyes closed. “He is a telepath and heard your mind scream out for help. I know it’s a bit creepy, but you needed to jump so Jinyoung could use his gift to get you up to us,” as he said the second name, he pointed to the man next to Mark. “He can change the mass of anything, so he just made you light as air. My name is Jackson. We have been keeping tabs on IPBA’s movements, and when we found out they discovered where BTS’s hideout was, we came here to warn them as soon as possible and help out where we could. By the time we got here, though, the agency was already raiding the building.”

“Was BTS captured?!” Minho asked worriedly. He knew if they were captured they would be executed immediately for all the trouble they had caused the agency. He didn’t know what he would do if the Gifteds he looked up to where killed by the agency.

“No, they are completely fine. I should have known Namjoon-ah wouldn’t have needed our help. He is always two steps ahead of the agency, anyways. They made it out just as the agency was getting here. They tried to warn you and your friends, too, but they couldn’t make it in time,” Jackson said.

“What happened to everyone else?”

This time Mark opened his eyes and answered Minho’s question, “the one who was carrying the other two boys got away, but the two girls were captured.” As he said this, his eyes showed an emotion of pure regret. After seeing the look in his eyes, Minho knew he could trust the men in front of him. “I’m sorry I couldn’t help them,” Mark said with a solemn voice. There was no way Minho could blame him for what was obviously the agency’s doing. He obviously tired his hardest to help.  

“Hey hey, its okay Markibo. You did your best,” Jackson said as he went over to console him. Mark’s face turned from sadness to disgust at the sound of the nickname.

“I told you to stop calling me that.”

“What do you mean? I know you like it.” Jackson responds innocently.

“Oh shut up,” Mark groaned as he struggled to push Jackson’s hug away.

“Uhh…” Minho just stared dumbfounded at the interaction. “They seem close.”

“Just ignore them. So what is your name?” Jinyoung asked as he brushed off the moment, obviously used to it.

“Minho.”

“We need to go before we get noticed, Minho,” Jinyoung said after acknowledging the trust Minho was giving them by telling them his name. Minho nodded his head in understanding and shortly after Jinyoung shouted, “Youngjae!”

As soon as he called the new name, a helicopter appears out of thin air just a few meters away from them on the roof.

“Woah,” Minho says as he fumbles back a bit.

“Don’t be too jumpy. Youngjae here has the gift of making himself and anything he touches invisible. It is great for stealth operations,” Jackson said as he threw an arm over Mark’s shoulder and dragged them to the helicopter.

“I told Namjoon we had you with us, and he said we should take you with us back to the academy since him and his team are going to be on the run for a bit. He also mentioned something about us having to break a group of kids out of Seoul Reformatory,” Mark said.

“Crap, I forgot about that,” all three of them had made it onto the helicopter when Minho was suddenly reminded of the conversation that was interrupted.

“JB, let's get out of here,” Jinyoung called to someone in the pilot’s seat as he handed Minho a headset, so they could still talk to each other and not be deafened by the sound of the rotor blade spinning.

“Ah, I wanted to get some fighting practice in tonight,” Minho could hear the person in the co-pilot's seat comment disappointedly through the headset.

“Tsk, Yugyeom, you should be glad we didn’t have to fight anyone. I, for one, would rather not have you accidently nearly burn down an entire street block again,” said the person who Minho guessed was JB.

“It was not an entire block! It was one building! And I wasn’t the only one at fault. Bambam is the one who broke the gas tank,” Yugyeom defended himself.

As the banter between the two was going on, Youngjae closed the heli-doors and JB was going through the motions to take off.

“Speaking of Bambam, he is going to be pissed we left him behind at the academy,” added Jackson.

“It's his own fault we couldn’t find him since he snuck out with Chan and Jimin to God knows where, to get into who knows what kind of trouble. I swear the entire 97 line at JYP is completely crazy, except for maybe Woojin. Maybe being the key word,” Jinyoung said as he rubbed the bridge of his nose with an exasperated sigh.

“What about me?” Yugyeom questioned.

“I stand by my previous statement.”

“What’s this academy you all keep mentioning?” Minho suddenly interrupted. They had already taken to the air and were a ways away from the roof of the warehouse. Minho was listening to their conversation to distract himself from looking at how high they were, but he was completely confused at their conversation.

“JYP academy. It's our home, and a sort of safe haven for Gifteds like us,” Jinyoung explained. “It was founded by the entertainer, JYP.”

“I know him, but he is too old to be a Gifted,” Minho stated confused.

“You’re right. He isn’t a Gifted, but he is smart enough to realize that how the world treats Gifteds is wrong and dehumanizing,” Mark added.

“He turned one of his estates in the countryside into school, so Gifteds would have a place to be normal kids,” Youngjae said for the first time. Minho was beginning to think he didn’t speak.

“Wow. It’s hard to believe there are Normies like him still left in the world,” Minho said in shock, still not quite believing it was possible.

“I know what you mean,” Mark said with downcast eyes. Jackson scooted a little closer to Mark and rubbed his back to console him. Minho could sense there was something more than friendship between the two of them.

“Well, if you have a place like that, what are you all doing getting into the agency’s business? Aren’t you painting a big target on all your backs? Why would you risk a safe home so easily?”

Silence. Everyone was quiet after Minho’s questions, mainly because they had to admit that he had a point. It was so rare for Gifteds to have a safe environment like the one they were describing. In this world, everyone can see someone was a Gifted if they have a metal wristband around their wrist wherever they go. Normies would avoid anyone with a wristband like the plague if they saw it, and many places refuse service to people with wristbands. It was almost impossible to find a job except for the few no Normies want, and teachers do nothing to prevent the bullying of Gifted children in schools because why should they care about the safety of a second class citizen?

Gifteds first show signs of their powers between the ages of two and five, and when they do, every Gifted in the world is required to register with the IPBA. They screen the child for a week in their facilities, assign them a rank, and tag them like an animal with their stupid bands.

From that moment onwards: the world hates you.

It is nearly impossible to live as a Gifted without a band. Nearly every public place had scanners at the entrances just like the the scanners malls use to make sure no one steals clothes. If someone is a Gifted, the only way to keep the alarm from going off is by having a band. If a Gifted tries to cover them up, it doesn’t usually work since they are too large to hide inconspicuously, and the Gifted gets a massive fine for attempting to do so.

The only reason Minho was able to live without one was because BTS had taken him in and they got all their supplies from raids and backstreet dealers. The idea that the men sitting in this helicopter with Minho had a home, away from all the bullshit of this Normie/Gifted label society, and they chose to risk their freedom for the sake of other people, astonished him. Even BTS fought against the agency out of necessity, not purely because they wanted to.

“If we don’t do anything, then nothing will ever change,” everyone turned toward JB, who was responsible for breaking the silence.

“Change?” Minho questioned. “You really think people are capable of changing?”

“I know they are,” was all JB said in response.

Chapter Text

Minho had fallen asleep on the helicopter as soon as they all stopped talking. It was nearly 2 a.m., and he had literally just run for his life, so as soon as the adrenaline had worn off, he passed out. He woke up suddenly when someone shook his shoulder, and he sat up quickly. It took him a moment to process his surroundings.

He looked to his left and saw it was Youngjae who woke him up. “We’ve landed at the academy. JYP is going to want to talk with you since you are going to be staying here for a while,” he said calmly to Minho, causing him to relax. His grogginess was wearing off, and he began to remember all the events that took place just a few hours ago.

He sighed, still exhausted, but got up to exit the helicopter, anyways. Once outside, he noticed it was still slightly dark and the sun was only just starting to make its way into the sky. Jackson and Mark were already outside of the helicopter, checking the exterior for any damage. Everyone else exited behind Minho, and for the first time since meeting them, he could take a good look at them.

The first thing that stood out to him was how tall Yugyeom was. From listening to their conversation earlier, Minho knew he was born in 1997, which made him only a year older than himself, but the height difference between the two was laughable. Mark seemed a lot smaller than he initially thought, and Jackson had a lot more muscle than he was expecting. His eyes moved from Yugyeom to JB and noticed JB was sporting a mullet, which didn’t look too bad on him. Jinyoung approached JB and gave him a kiss on the check which caused the latter to blush a slight red. When he turned from JB towards the light with a slight smirk of satisfaction on his face, Minho could see how princely Jinyoung’s features were, and he almost gasped.

“They’re together,” Youngjae pointed out to Minho when he caught him staring at them.

Minho quickly looked away and turned towards Youngjae, realizing his ogling could be considered rude, but was taken aback by the smile on Youngjae’s face. He had similar facial features to JB, but his smile radiated as if he was sunshine himself.

Minho’s thoughts were interrupted when a new guy came running towards them in an obvious state of rage, shouting, “I can’t believe you guys went on a mission without me! Do I mean nothing to you guys?”

“Ahh, Bambam. Nice of you to join us. What are you doing awake this early?” Mark said with abundant sarcasm to his tone.

“I never went to sleep! I’ve been awake waiting for you lot to return and explain to me how you could betray me like this,” says the man Minho assumed was the person they had left behind and were talking about in the helicopter.

“Chan is rubbing off on you, I see,” Jackson says quietly just so a few could hear.

“But it’s not our fault. We couldn’t find you and we were in a rush,” Jinyoung explained.

“I call bullshit. Mark hyung could have gotten in touch with me immediately if he really tried to, he just wanted to leave me behind,” Bambam accused.

“Even if he had told you, it would have taken too long for you to get to us. I made the decision as the leader to just go ahead with the operation without you,” JB finally said with a level head. Unfortunately, Bambam still had one more person to grill.

He stepped forwards toward Yugyeom with the arua of a prince about to go to war, aiming a pointed finger at the taller boy’s chest. “And you! How could you let them leave me?! I'm your boyfriend for fuck’s sake. You should be standing up for me,” the shorter ridiculed as he poked his finger into Yugyeom’s chest repeatedly.

“Kiss and make up?” he responded innocently with a mischievous smile on his face as looked down and grabbed the hand that had been attacking him.

“Unbelievable,” Bambam sighed and turned around quickly, so he wouldn’t just straight out forgive the younger for the way he smiled at him. “We are suppose to be Got7. As in 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.” He pointed to each of them and then himself on seven. “Not Got6.”

“Better luck next time,” Jackson said with a smile as he grabbed Bambam into a hug and messed up his hair. Minho was starting to think Jackson was just an affectionate guy.

“Umm…” Minho coughed, reminding them he was there.

“Oh, right! Follow me, I’ll take you to JYP,” JB said as he turned towards the confused boy. “What was your name again? I don’t believe I got it.”

“Minho.”

“Alright Minho, right this way,” and he took off down a stone path leading towards a stunning mansion Minho had completely not noticed a second ago. It had a magnificent courtyard with a giant fountain in the middle, beautiful landscaping consisting of plants he had never seen before, and enormous stone steps leading up to the main entrance.

It took a few minutes to reach the front of the building since the helicopter had landed a little bit away from the main grounds, but once he got closer, Minho counted four stories from the windows scaling the front of the house. Since it was so early in the morning, everything was quiet and also had a sort of eerie feel.

JB opened the front doors and guided Minho inside. If he thought the outside was incredible, then he was at a loss for words on how to describe the inside of the mansion. The entryway was a large hall with an extraordinary chandelier double his size hanging from the ceiling of it. The first rays from the sunrise made it through the window above the front door and caused the crystals that made up the chandelier to glimmer specks of light across the entry hall. At the back of the entrance was a large staircase with dark red carpet making its way upward into the house, splitting into two separate staircases to take one up to either the left wing or right ring of the house.

Off to the left side of the ground floor, Minho peaked through two double doors which both opened up into what appeared to be a massive dining room with multiple tables spread around, almost as if it were a café. On the right, there were the same two double doors that mirrored their counterparts on the left, but in this room Minho saw a large, stone fireplace and a lot of lounge furniture scattered about, as well.

JB walked forward across the entry hall, towards the stairs, but he turned right before walking up them and made his way to a hallway which seemed like it went behind the lounge room and led deeper into the ground floor of the house. JB passed a few single doors as they walked down the hallway and only stopped when he reached a double door with carvings along its edges making it look ten times more important. He knocked and waited for a response. Once he heard a muffled ‘ Come in ,’ he pushed the door open.

Inside what seemed to be an office space, Minho’s eyes first went to the mess of papers, books, and random trinkets on the wooden desk at the center of the room. They were stacked so high, he could hardly see what was behind the desk. As he took in the rest of the room, he realized it was in a similar state. The entire left and right walls were lined with ginormous book shelves that were also filled to capacity. There were two leather seats situated in front of the desk, but JB made no moves to sit in either of them, so Minho remained standing as well.

His examination of the room was interrupted when an older man suddenly stood up behind the desk. His hair was slightly messy, his semi-circle rimmed glasses were about to fall off his nose, and he was wearing a ridiculous looking sweater vest with a long sleeve shirt underneath. Minho immediately recognized the man as JYP, who he had seen many times on TV ever since he was a little boy, and took a step back at the Normie’s sudden appearance.  

“Jaebum, glad your back! Oh, and with someone new I see,” he said with a curious tone to his voice as walked around his cluttered desk to stand in front of it. He eyed Minho up and down before turning back to JB. “How did it go?”

“Well, when we got there, the IPBA agents had already raided the hideout BTS were using, but Namjoon heard them coming just in time to get his team out. We are guessing they were somehow able to mask their movements up until they reached the hideout itself because Namjoon is usually able to hear anyone coming long before they get close. Whatever method they used to mask their presence can potentially be worrisome in the future.” JYP nodded as he acknowledged what Jaebum was saying. “Unfortunately, since Namjoon didn’t realize they were coming until seconds before, BTS wasn’t about to warn the Gifteds they had taken in about the agents. Minho here was one of them,” he said motioning towards Minho who shifted awkwardly under JYP’s analytical gaze. “He was the only one we could save ourselves. Three boys got away on their own, but we couldn’t pinpoint where they went. Only one of the boys was conscious and he was carrying two Gifteds who had been tranquilized.”

“Ryujin and Yuna didn’t make it out,” Minho added quickly with an urgency to his voice. He has been extremely worried about his dongsaengs ever since he heard about their capture. Yuna was only 15 years old, so he was especially worried about her.

“Yes, two were captured by the agency before we could do anything. Mark also heard from Taehyung that BTS had an operation in the works before they were attacked, and they aren’t going to be able to go through with it in time since they need to get new equipment now.”

At the mention of the operation, Minho’s mind went back to the conversation he was having with his comrades before the raid happened. “They were planning to break a group of three Gifted boys out of Seoul Reformatory. One of them is scheduled to be executed in two days for being a Rank 5,” Minho explained, causing JYP and JB’s eyes widened. “The other two, who I assume are his friends, are being locked up on the crime of not reporting their friend for being misranked. I think IPBA are worried his friends are going to try and stop the execution if they are left free.”

“This is more serious than I initially thought,”  JYP said with urgency. “We need to free him before they can kill the poor boy, but this does work out nicely for you as well.” Minho drew his brows together in confusion at the comment. “I think it is safe to assume the agency is taking your friends to the same reformatory. Ryujin and Yuna, I believe their names were?”

“You’re right, Seoul Reformatory is the closest prison to the hideout that is equipped to house Gifteds,” JB added.

“Do you know what ranks your friends are?” JYP questioned.

“Ryujin is a Rank 2, and Yuna is a Rank 3,” Minho answered.

“Good. Neither are 4s, so they wouldn't have any reason to take them out of the city,” JYP said relieved.

“I can inform Got7 immediately and get the operation ready by tomorrow,” JB said as he turned to leave and inform his team.

“No,” the oldest in the room said sternly. “Your team is better equipped for stealth operations and intel gathering. There is no way to avoid fighting on this mission, so I am going to have to send Chan’s team instead.”

“But…”

“No buts, Jaebum. Yes, you have Yugyeom, Bambam, and yourself who are plenty capable in a fight, but the rest of your team is lacking in offensive power. Chan has two 4s on his team and four 3s which I know doesn’t mean much if they don’t know how to fight, but Chan has assured me they are the best fighters he has ever seen. It is a big first mission for them, but Chan knows what he is doing and I think they have the best chance at getting everyone out. Alive.

JB sighed, but responded, “Yes, sir.”

“I am going, too,” Minho stated matter of factly. Minho was still skeptical of a Normie being involved with an operation like the one they were planning, so he had made up his mind he was going to be there no matter what the older man said to him.

“I don’t think that is a good idea, you just narrowly escaped being captured yourself and need time to recover,” the oldest said with concern in his voice.

“No. I refuse to sit on my ass back here at this cushy mansion when someone else’s life is at stake for no good reason. I was originally going to go on this mission anyways, my friends are now captured, as well, and I am a damn good fighter, so don’t even try and stop me from going,” Minho said in one breath.

Minho stared at JYP with determination in his eyes, just so the older can see how serious he was. After what seemed like an hour, JYP broke their staring contest and sighed. “If that is what you wish, then I won’t try to stop you.” Minho’s mouth curved into a slight smile at the permission. “But, I have one condition.” JYP added.

“What condition?” Minho questioned cautiously.

“You must join my academy.”


Chapter Text

“Join your academy?” Minho asked confused. “What does that mean?”

“Means exactly what it sounds like. I would like you to attend my school. It is a boarding school so you would have to move in, but you were planning on staying here temporarily anyways, so just think of it as extending your stay. All meals are provided for and so is housing. There are weekday classes that teach you basic curriculum as well as how to properly use your gift, and this is all in a safe environment where you are surrounded by other Gifteds.”

Minho just blinked at him at a loss for words. He didn’t have any particular reason to turn him down because it’s not like he had other plans. BTS had just been letting him stay with them out of charity, and he knew at times the runways they took in could have been burdens to them. He merely stayed with them because he looked up to them and had nowhere else to go. He had just been going through the motions, trying to survive. Honestly, the thought of having a place like the one JYP was proposing was something beyond his wildest dreams.

It was too good to be true.

“Why?”

“Why, what?” JYP asked genuinely curious.

“Why me? What do you have to gain?”

“You have intrigued me. Mr…” he trailed off. “I don’t believe I got your full name.”

“Lee Minho”

“Nice to meet you Mr. Lee. My name is Park Jinyoung, but everyone calls me JYP to avoid confusion with the other Park Jinyoung,” he glanced in JB’s direction as he mentioned Jinyoung, so Minho assumed he was talking about the Jinyoung who had helped save him. “As for what I have to gain: I have nothing. I do not benefit in any way by you choosing to attend my school or not. It's more about how I can benefit you and other Gifteds like you in order to help you grow.” Minho opened his mouth to ask another question but is cut off. “And if you are going to ask, ‘ why should I care?’ , I care because I don’t share the fear normal people harbor towards the Gifteds. You are people too, and deserve to be treated as such.”

Minho didn’t know what to say. He took in everything the man standing in front of him had said and double checked that he wasn’t dreaming. Never in his life had he heard such a thing from a Normie. His own parents had been afraid of what he was and left him because of it. But he could tell the older man was very much serious and very much real.

“What do you say?” JYP raised an eyebrow and extended his hand.

Minho looked at the hand for a moment, knowing that if he took it, he would be admitting something to himself he never thought true before: someone cared about him.

He slowly reached out and took the hand. “Alright,” he whispered before he looked up, “but I have a condition of my own.”

“Oh?”

“Once we free Ryujin and Yuna, they can join your academy as well.”

“Sounds good to me. Three of my female students have been looking to become a team so they can go on missions. I have been saying no purely because I think they need more members.”

“Team?” Minho questioned.

“I require most of my students to be a part of a team in order to go on missions. Having random teams put together for each individual mission results in a lack of cooperation, so I group the students into teams. That way they can practice together and build teamwork,” JYP explained. “You will be going on this mission with Chan’s new team. Three of them are slightly experienced and have gone on easy missions I knew would not be too difficult, but I told him to expand his group before they can do harder operations. This will be their first difficult mission so I’ll leave it up to Chan on whether or not you can join his team and go on future missions. If not, you will have to wait.”

Minho nodded, determined to prove to this Chan person he was worth something. He didn’t need the boy to like him. He had never really had close friends at any point in his life. He just needed to prove he was useful enough to keep around.

Suddenly, JB spoke again after being silent for a while. Minho had almost forgotten he was there. “I’ll go tell Chan then and introduce him to Minho.”

Minho followed the older boy yet again through the huge house. They returned to the entrance hall but this time went up the staircase. As they reached the fork where the stair cases went up in two seperate directions, JB pointed to the right side.

“The second floor, right wing is where my team’s rooms are. There is also another male team, Day6, whose rooms are in this wing.” He then points to the left staircase. “In the left wing is Jihyo’s team, Twice. Boys aren’t allowed in the left wing dorms and girls aren’t allowed in the right.” Minho nodded in understanding.

They continued up the right staircase to reach the second floor and then continued upwards to the third floor. They entered the right wing of the third floor and JB stopped outside a closed door.

“This is the wing where Chan’s group sleeps. The left wing dorms on this floor are empty since the academy doesn’t have a second female team yet, and all the students who are either not allowed to go on operations or don't need a team to go on missions are on the 4th floor.” Once he was done explaining how dorming works, JB then turned towards the closed door. All of a sudden, a door a little ways down the hall on the opposite side opened up quickly before he had a chance to knock.

“Don’t you dare knock on that door!” a stranger whisper yelled as he entered the hallway, still fully dressed in pajamas which had teddy bears scattered across them. “Chan is finally getting some sleep and no one is going to interrupt this rare occurrence,” he panted out. As he got closer, Minho could see the two of them looked about the same age and that the new boy’s features resembled the teddy bears on his PJs and almost laughed at the coincidence.

JB put his hands up and slowly backed away from the door in surrender. “Okay, okay. I got it. I just came here to tell Chan that JYP is giving your group its first mission and to introduce you to Minho who will be going with you all,” he explained to the boy.

At the mention of his name, said individual clumsily introduced himself. “H-hi, my name is Lee Minho,” he says as he bowed towards the bear-like individual.

“Oh, uh, nice to meet you. I’m Kim Woojin. Sorry, I wasn’t expecting a new member.”

“Oh no, I’m not a new member. At least not unless you all want me to be. I'm just a new… student? I guess? And I’m going on the mission for some some personal reasons, and yeah…” Minho spat out nervously. He had never been good at talking to new people in social environments.

“I see… What's the mission?” Woojin asked JB.

“Breaking a Rank 5 and four other Gifteds out of an IPBA guarded prison in the middle of Seoul before the Rank 5 is killed in two days,” JB said nonchalantly.

Woojin stared at him blankly and then turned back towards the door he just ran out of.

“Felix! Jeongin! Get up!” he shouted through the entryway.

Chapter Text

As Woojin was running between the three different rooms in the hall, Mark contacted JB to tell them he had gotten more information from BTS on the logistics of the operation. JB and Minho decided to go ahead downstairs to the lounge room where Mark had told them to meet him. They told Woojin to have everyone meet down there once they were ready. It's no use explaining the situation when everyone is half asleep, so he told them to go ahead and get completely ready. It was going to be a long day.

Once they made it to the now brightly lit lounge space, Minho saw Mark was sitting on the couch directly in front of the fireplace on a laptop. Above the hollowed, stone structure was a large TV that seemed to be connected to Mark’s laptop. Minho moved to sit down in the armchair to the right of the couch since he had been standing ever since leaving the helicopter about an hour prior. As soon as he sat down, he could feel his clothes sticking to him and realized that he was still wearing his workout t-shirt, sweatpants, and jacket from the night before. The idea of a nice shower and a new set of clothes pleasantly passed through his mind.

“You know, Minho, we have time to spare before Chan’s team is ready for the briefing. If you want to go clean up, JB can find you some clothes to borrow until we can get you your own,” said Mark. Minho suddenly looked up, surprised by how much Mark’s comments aligned with his thoughts. “I am a telepath, remember?” he added.

‘Oh shoot. That’s right, you idiot,’ Minho thought only to mentally kick himself when Mark gave him a knowing look. He cleared his throat, hopeful that the older couldn’t see that his face was heating up. Not that he needed to see to know.

“A shower would be nice,” Minho said to break the awkward silence.  

“If you go do down the hall to the left of the entryway, the first door on the right is the kitchen. The room next to it is supposed to be a bedroom, we use it as a sparring gym. It has its own bathroom attached to it with a shower you are free to use,” Mark instructed then he returned to his computer.

Minho nodded and got up to walk towards the room he had described. He passed the kitchen and noticed Jinyoung and Yugyeom were in there already cooking something that smelled like breakfast. Well, really it looked like Jinyoung was doing all the work while Yugyeom was just standing there. Once further down the hall, Minho heard Jinyoung shout something about killing the younger if he didn’t start to help out.

He reached the second door and made his way inside. The sudden smell of the sparring mats, punching bags, and sweat reminded him of the back room at the BTS hideout that he had been living out of for the past few months. He shook his head to snap himself out of those reminiscent thoughts, knowing that moving on is something he should be used to by now. He had always moved from space to space, never really able to call any place his home. This academy was probably no different.

Seeing another door at the back side of the room, he walked across the matted floor to the bathroom. Once he had the shower in sight, he couldn’t wait to run some cold water over his tired and aching muscles. However, as soon as he saw his reflection in the mirror he stopped to stare. His light brown, flowy hair was in a complete mess atop his head, there were bags under his eyes because of his lack of sleep, and his complexion was paler than usual. He had always been told his features made him look like a mouse, but he had to admit his current appearance left him looking even more so.  

Minho turned away and started the shower, so the water could warm up slightly. He took his clothes off and entered the shower. He stood under the running water, letting it wash away some of the stress he has had to deal with in the past few hours. It is always best to think about your problems while taking a shower. Soon he snapped out of it, however, and rushed to finish cleaning since they were still in a rush.

When he was done, he used one of the towels that was hanging up to dry off, and then wrapped it around his waist. He opened the bathroom door cautiously, guessing JB had left the new clothes out there for him while he was showering. What he didn’t expect to see was a younger boy with red, fluffy hair sitting against the opposite wall with clothes in hand.

As soon as he saw Minho emerge from the bathroom, his face spread into the most adorably blinding smile the older had ever seen.

“Hiya! You must be Minho, Woojinnie hyung told me to bring you some clothes since I was the first one ready. I'm kind of the morning person of the group,” he said cheerfully as he stood up and walked across the room to hand Minho the clothes.

“Uh, hello… Thank you?” Minho said hesitantly.

“Oh sorry, I should have introduced myself. My name is Jeongin, I’m the youngest member of Chan’s team,” Jeongin said with a slight bow which Minho returned. “Well, I will see you out in the lounge once your changed,” the younger said as he suddenly headed out of the room.

“S-sure, nice to meet you,” Minho called after him, not quite sure what to make out of the short introduction the adorable boy gave him.

He quickly changed into the green hoodie and ripped jeans he had received, then made his way back to the lounge room. When he got there, Minho noticed five new people present in addition to Mark and JB. He first recognized Woojin as the person sitting in the same armchair Minho had flopped down in earlier. On the couch he saw Jeongin with a new boy he had not meet before who was wearing big round rimmed glasses.

Then in another armchair, opposite the first one, he saw a boy with small features and platinum blonde hair leaning his head onto the shoulder of a dark haired boy. The latter looked even smaller, yet kind of dead inside at first glance. All heads turned his direction when he walked into room. Minho decided now was as good as any time to make his introductions to the rest of the people he’d be working with.

“Hello,” he said as he bowed. “My name is Lee Minho and I look forward to working with all of you on this mission.” When he finished he let out a breath, glad he got that over with.

“This actually isn’t all of us,” Woojin responded and Minho tensed back up again. “But I can introduce you to everyone here. I am assuming you already met Jeongin,” he said gesturing toward him. Jeongin waved at him excitedly which caused Minho to uwu a bit. “Next to him is Seungmin. He may look like a puppy, but don’t let that fool you. Him and Jeongin are both Rank 4s and are both more mischievous than they need to be,” after hearing the information about their rank, Minho’s view of the cute boys completely changed. For a Gifted to be assigned Rank 4, it meant their gift had the ability to destroy an entire large building, at least. Most of the time 4s weren’t allowed to live in cities because the IPBA were scared of the damage they could cause there.

“Then the two lovebirds over there are Changbin and Felix. Felix just joined the academy a few months ago and is originally from Australia, so his Korean is still improving,” Woojin continued indicating the light hair boy as Felix and the dark haired boy as Changbin. “Changbin likes to look out for Felix a lot even though Chan is the one who is actually Australian as well. Chan has been living in Korea for a while now, though, and has been at the academy the longest out of all of us. We are just waiting on Jisung, Hyunjin, and Chan, now,” but as soon as he spoke, a pale boy with curly blonde hair walked into the room behind Minho.

“What about me?”

“Speak of the devil and he shall appear,” the bear-like boy mumbled. “Chan, where are Jisung and Hyunjin?” Woojin asked the newcomer.

“I don’t know, I thought they were already down here. Seungmin?” he questioned the younger.

“Why the hell should I know where they are?” Seungmin said with his tone sounding a lot more innocent than the words should allow.

“Well they’re your roommates,” Changbin said, pointing out the obvious.

“They were still sleeping when I left, and I didn’t feel like waking them up. Do you know how hard it is to wake Hyunjin up? Not only is he a deep sleeper, but he also always looks so precious you don’t want to disturb him,” the boy in glasses singsonged, remembering the sight.

“Well what about Jisung?” Woojin pressed.

“Why should I care about the squirrel?” his tone immediately changing. “I say we are better off without his awkward jokes.”

Chan sighs at the younger boy, “While that may all be true, we still need them here.”

“I’ll go get them,” Felix shouted excitedly in an abnormally deep voice, suddenly sitting up from his position on Changbin’s shoulder then disappearing into thin air. Minho did a double take, caught off guard by the boy’s sudden disappearance.

Chan turns to face Minho with a wide smiling on his face, showing off dimples. “You must be Minho. Woojin told me you will be going on this mission with us. My name is Bang Chan and I am the leader of this team.”

“N-nice to meet you. I’m Lee Minho,” he said with yet another awkward bow.

“So what is it your good at Minho. I’m guessing you can fight?”

“Well yeah, I consider myself a good fighter. I’m only a Rank 2, though, so I have always worked on martial arts.”

“We don’t judge based off the rank of your gift here. Actually, I’m a Rank 1 myself,” Chan reassured with another smile. “So what is your gift?”

“I create force fields which can protect against pretty much anything, and they can also heal anyone inside of one,” Minho explains.

The older boy perked up. “You have a healing ability? That is something that can come in very handy to have, especially on a mission like this one where there is bound to be some fighting.” Minho was glad to hear Chan found his gift useful. “So, what do you have for us Mark? We may as well start now ‘cause they should be here any second now.” Chan went to sit down on the floor in front of the chair Woojin was sitting in, letting his back rest against Woojin’s legs. Minho took that as his cue to sit down with the rest of them, so he made his way to the cushioned windowsill just behind Woojin’s armchair.

Mark pulled up a powerpoint onto the TV in front of them, and it displayed the faces of three young boys, each with a name and rank labeled underneath. Soobin - Rank 1. Hueningkai - Rank 2. Yeonjun - Rank 5.

Chapter Text

Jisung turned over in his bed as someone aggressively shook his shoulder. “Five more minutes, Chan hyung. Some of us actually sleep.”

“I’m not Chan, you idiot,” Felix said as he slapped the sleepy boy’s head.

Jisung shifted again to lay on his back and blinked in a daze up at the freckled boy, his brown hair spreading across his pillow. “Is it really okay for an idiot to call other people idiots?” He questioned as he slowly regained his bearings.

“Oh, shut up. The team is getting briefed in the lounge for its first official mission and you’re up here dreaming about who knows what kind of crazy stuff.” Jisung sat up quickly in his bunk bed at the mention of a mission.

“Well, why didn’t you all wake me up sooner!” he exclaimed. Once fully awake, the world took off at the fast pace Jisung is use to. He hopped down from his top bunk in a blur and disappeared into the bathroom.

Felix shook his head in disbelief and then moved onto the next sleeping beauty on the bottom bunk. “HWANG HYUNGJIN WAKE UP!” he shouted as loud as he could into the princely boy’s ear. Surprised as hell, Hyunjin’s eyes flung open and he was left staring into the blonde’s eyes. “Get up Hyunjinnie. We have a mission,” Felix added with an innocent smile then threw the covers from off of the shocked boy.

Hyunjin sat up in his bed and rubbed his eyes. He groaned, but got out of bed and walked towards their bathroom. Just as he was about to open the door, Jisung ran back through it into the bedroom at a superhuman speed, nearly knocking Hyunjin onto his butt and causing a gust of wind to knock things over and onto the floor around the room.

“Oi! You’re not supposed to use your gift in our dorm! You know Seungmin will yell at you for causing everything to blow around everywhere because of your speed, and you know how loud he is when he nags,” the taller boy scolded as his mind became more fully awake.

“It’s fine, it’s fine. I’ll just clean it up before he gets back up here. Besides, he deserves it for not bothering to wake us up. I mean, we finally get a mission, and he just forgets to include us. The nerve!” Jisung ranted as he quickly threw on a pink hoodie and black ripped jeans for the day. He had been waiting so long for a chance to go on a more intense mission, always loving adventure. The intel missions he had went on with Chan and Changbin were great experience, but they all lacked the speed and intensity that Jisung was looking for.

Ever since the accident , the world never seemed to slow down in Jisung’s eyes. This was somewhat ironic considering people with superspeed usually see to world slower since they are always faster than what’s around them, but it wasn’t like that for Jisung. He needed it fast. So he was always moving ahead quickly to the next excitement, the next experience. And now, finally, JYP was letting them go on a mission!

Once Hyunjin had finished getting ready in the bathroom, he decided to just throw a hoodie over the T-shirt and sweatpants he had worn to bed, knowing that Jisung was starting to get impatient. Felix walked over and grabbed Hyunjin’s arm, ready to jump downstairs.

“Race you down there!” the excited squirrel shouted as he dashed out of the room and caused even more papers on the desks to fly everywhere.

“Seungmin is going to be so upset,” Hyunjin said again, not sounding too disappointed.

 

*****

 

Han ran down the two flights of stairs to lounge room. A grin crossed his face when he looked through the open double doors and saw that Felix hadn’t transported Hyunjin and himself there yet. With a sudden whoosh, he made it into the room, sending everyone’s hair flying about. A second later Felix appeared in front of the couch holding onto Hyunjin. Jisung was about to rub his victory into the blonde’s face when his eyes caught the movement of someone in the windowsill seat.

His breath hitched, and for a split second the world just… stopped.

Sitting there, looking back at Jisung with curious eyes, was a stranger whose silhouette was outlined by the gentle rays of the morning sun coming in through the window behind him. His facial features seemed so delicate and were framed perfectly by his wet, brown hair. Jisung looked at him for what seemed like an eternity, admiring his dark eyes and the way his lips parted slightly to show off his two perfectly white front teeth. He watched as the boy blinked back as him cutely, and only snapped out of it when Chan interrupted with a cough.

The world speeding up again.

“Nice of you to join us, why don’t you take a seat, Jisung? We were just about to start,” Chan’s tone held a slight bit of concern to it as he looked at the frozen state his usually hyper friend was in. Jisung shook his head to snap himself out of whatever that just was then nodded. He noticed that Felix had already went to sit next to Changbin, and Hyunjin had sat on the floor between Seungmin’s and Jeongin’s feet, slowly cuddling himself into the two younger’s legs. He decided to take the empty spot on the couch.

“Who is that in the windowsill?” he whispered to Seungmin who was sitting next to him.

“You would know if you had woken up in time,” the younger ridiculed.

“And I would have woken up in time if you had woken me up,” Jisung replied with an annoyed, impatient tone in response to his friend not giving him a straightforward answer.

“His name is Lee Minho, and he is going on the mission with us. Now shush and pay attention.”

Satisfied he had gotten his answer, Jisung glanced back at the boy for a split second, mouthed his name, then turned his eyes to the TV in front of him where he saw Mark and JB standing below it.

“Alright!” Mark said to get everyone’s attention. “So I know that all of you are excited, but also nervous because this is your first mission. So, JB and I will try and help you out as much as possible in the short amount of time we have. JYP obviously trusts each of your abilities and Chan’s capability as a leader, so you should trust yourselves as well.” All nine boys nodded their heads to acknowledge the compliment and reassurance.

“The mission is going to consist three overall parts: infiltrating the Gifted wing at Seoul Reformatory; locating the three individuals in the pictures on the screen, as well as two other Gifted girls named Ryujin: Rank 2 and Yuna: Rank 3; and successfully breaking all five out before Saturday morning, two days from now. That is when the IPBA is planning to execute Yeonjun: Rank 5,” he said as he pointed to the image of Yeonjun displayed. Everyone, excluding Minho, Mark, and JB, widened their eyes in shock.

JB spoke up from his position on the other side of the fireplace, “Thanks to Suga’s tech gift, BTS were able to hack into the reformatory’s computer system and grant us access. We confirmed that Ryujin and Yuna were indeed taken there after the raid on BTS’s hideout,” he said while looking at Minho. The younger boy nodded, grateful for the reassurance. “We were also able to learn the details of how the three boys were arrested.

“Turns out Yeonjun was misranked as a Rank 1 as a child. The IPBA identified his gift as good luck, but it turns out his gift is actually compulsion. According to police reports, a group of older Normie boys got into a fight with Soobin and Heuningkai, and Yeonjun intervened by telling them to walk off a bridge. One of the Normies couldn’t swim and ended up drowning,” JB finished explaining.

“My guess is that the Normies were bullying the poor kids, and Yeonjun only stepped in to defend his friends before the Normies sent the other two Gifteds to the hospital. I doubt he intended for anyone to die,” Mark reasoned, showing a bitterness towards the Normies.

“Once the IPBA stepped in, they realized their mistake in misranking Yeonjun. After a rescreening of his gift, they determined it a Rank 5, and that he is a high risk Gifted. With a Normie boy dead, it was easy enough for them to get the death penalty approved,” JB said solemnly.

“That’s ridiculous! He was obviously acting in self defense. Sure he broke the no using your gift rule, and sure, someone accidently died, but that wouldn’t have happened if the bullies just minded their own business. He doesn’t deserve to die for this,” Jeongin shouted angrily at the situation. Hyunjin lift his chin from its spot on Seungmin’s knee, and moved to put it on the makane’s knee instead.

“Their reason for executing him is more because they’re scared of his gift, not because this has anything to do with what happened at that bridge. It’s just the situation they are using to justify their actions,” Seungmin explained with disgust.

“To be honest, even I’m kind of scared of his gift. It’s scary to think he could tell you to to do anything , and you would do it, no questions asked. I see why he hid his gift,” Chan thoughtfully said. “But he obviously hasn’t abused his gift or else the agency would have found out about it before. This is just senseless manslaughter.”

“Agreed, which is why your team must do everything in your power to successfully break him and the other Gifteds out before the IPBA can go through with it,” JB said directly to Chan, speaking leader to leader.

“We determined the best course of action would be to split you all into three different subteams, but I will mostly leave it up to your leader to decide who is on each team since he is more familiar with your skill sets. The first team will infiltrate the prison during the day as prisoners, so that they can warn the Gifteds we are planning to break out about the rescue plan. I suggest the people on this team be your best at hand to hand combat since they won’t be able to use their abilities,” Mark explained. “We won’t be able to rely on BTS’s Suga too much for the operation since he is busy masking his own group’s movements, but Chan, I know your good with computers, as well. It wouldn’t be a good idea to get your people actually arrested and risk the IPBA holding them somewhere else for additional screening, so is there anyway you could trick the inmate reports at the prison into expecting three new Gifted inmates?”

“Since Suga already did the hard part by finding his way into the system, I should have no problem taking it from there,” Chan replied confidently then Mark continued.

“Good. Next, we will have a team transported into the monitor room using Felix’s teleportation, so that they can loop the cameras overseeing the halls and cells we need access to. They may run into some resistance there so, everyone should be prepared to respond. That team will then split up so someone is guarding the monitor room and the others are breaking everyone out of their cells. Seungmin, will you be able to use your gift to open the locks?”

“I can if they are made out of metal, which I bet they are,” the boy said.

“You should double check the schematics of the prison to confirm that or else we might have to come up with something else,” JB advised and Mark nodded in agreement.

“Once everyone is free, rendezvous back at the monitor room and teleport out. The third team will be on standby outside the prison the whole time to help during the extraction since it will likely take Felix multiple trips to teleport that many people out. They are also there in case of any emergency, but let's hope it doesn’t come to that. Are there any questions?” Mark finished as he looked over the younger boys’ faces.

All of Chan’s team turned to look at their leader since he was really the only one who needed to understand all of it at that moment. Once he had them organized into the teams, they would let Chan guide them on their specific task.

The young leader stood up confidently from his spot on the floor by Woojin’s feet and remarked, “Nope, I think I understand it all.” Then he turned back around to face his new team, taking in all their faces, even the newcomer. He knew he had a responsibility to each and every one of them from now on and that they would be looking to him, so he was determined not to let them down. They were going to make it through their first mission, and they were going to do it right.

“What do ya say, team? Shall we get started?” he finally said with an excited smile spreading on his face.

Chapter Text

Once Mark and JB had left to let Chan and his team prepare for the mission on their own, Chan decided it was best to move to the training room. All nine boys walked back through the entry hall and found their way to the room Minho had been in before. On the way there, Minho noticed a couple people talking on the stairs and some already in the dining space eating breakfast. The academy was starting to wake up.

“Alright,” Chan grabbed everyone’s attention as they spread out. “I think the best place to start would be to analyze what I am working with. I already know everyone else’s capabilities, but I am still unfamiliar with yours, Minho. You said your gift is force fields and healing? And your a good fighter?” he asked Minho.

“That's right. I’ve been doing martial arts since I was a kid,” the younger responded confidently.

“In that case, you wouldn’t mind if I put you to the test?” Chan raised an eyebrow and Minho shook his head to give the former confirmation. “Felix and Hyunjin are the best at hand to hand combat in our group as of right now, and since Felix can’t go undercover as an inmate because he is getting everyone in, we need another person with equal skills to take his place. Why don’t you spar Felix without using gifts, so I can get a feel for your capabilities. You don’t have to beat him, but if you can at least keep up, I think you would be the best candidate for the role. What do you say?”

Minho looked into Chan’s eyes with confidence, “I accept your challenge.”

Chan grinned, excited to see what this new boy was capable of. He wasn’t sure if he wanted him to permanently join his team just yet, but he sure likes the fire and drive the newcomer showed in his eyes. He was going to need it.

Minho and Felix stood across from each other in the center of the room, the blonde grinning excitedly which caused the older to look skeptically down at him. As Minho analyzed him, he noticed the boy had a bit of baby face and was short and skinny. Going off looks alone, Felix didn’t look so threatening. However, Minho had learned a long time ago to never judge a book by its cover, so he steadied himself for a difficult fight.

“Start,” Chan called out, and Minho was surprised when Felix immediately went for the first move by throwing a round kick to his left side. Minho barely managed to block it and grab the younger boys leg, only to have the blonde jump with his other leg and spin out of his hold.

Felix was a bit thrown off at the brunette’s ability to block one of his kicks. He was usually too fast for his opponents to keep up with, except for maybe Jisung. He started circling Minho while jumping lightly on the balls of his feet, waiting for the older to make a first move this time. He didn’t have to wait long because before he knew it, Minho was coming at him with a front kick which he easily blocked, but he followed it up with a right hook to the gut. In response, Felix turned so the punch would hit his side rather than straight on into his lungs. Which was exactly what Minho wanted. Once Felix was off balance, Minho took his chance to kick the smaller boy’s feet out from under him. Felix fell and rolled out of the way just in time to avoid being pinned down by Minho’s foot.

He was in awe. It had been a while since he had fought someone who was able to predict his opponent’s movements like the older was doing. It almost seemed as if Minho had already thought of every possible reaction and planned out a counterattack ahead of time whenever he made a move. They kept engaging in various tussles for ten whole minutes, only for one to avoid the attack, disconnect, and try again with something new. Felix had to admit he was getting very tired, and if they continued, he was sure he would eventually lose. Minho’s stamina was unbelievable.

However, before the fight had a chance to go on any longer Chan called a stop to it.

“I think we can end this here.”

Minho attention was taken out of the fight at those words, and he took a step back to regain his bearings. He always became a different person when he fought, so he needed a second to return to his normal frame of mind.

Felix was glad Chan had called the fight when he did. He was nervous about losing in front of everyone he had been trying to impress ever since he had come from Australia. The opinion of one particular person in the room mattering even more.

Chan walked up to Minho with a blank expression on his face, stopping right in front of him. Minho made eye contact with the older and they stayed that way for a few seconds. He was starting to get worried he had done something wrong when Chan’s face broke out into another wide, dimpled smile and grabbed Minho by his shoulder in a friendly gesture.

“That was incredible, mate. I have never seen anyone keep up with Felix like that before when he is really trying,” the leader congratulated. He had not been expecting this stranger to be so capable in a fight. It also made him wonder what had caused him to learn to fight in the first place. Curious enough to want to learn everything he could about the boy before him. “Welcome to our team! I am excited to see what else you can do.”

“Wait. Like the team team? As in after this mission, you still want me to work with you guys?” Minho questioned.

“Sure thing. I wasn’t really planning on adding another member to to the team, but you’ve honesty impressed me. It gives me goosebumps to think about you fighting with your gift. Plus, like I said before, your healing ability will be very useful,” Chan continued. “But in the end it is up to you on whether or not you even want to join my group. I’ll warn you, we are all a little extra,” he said as he gestured to the other seven boys in the room.

“Shh. I’m sure he could have figured that out later, Channie. No need to scare him off now,” Woojin said as he came in to give Minho a pat on the back. “You really impressed all of us with your fight. I think I caught Jisung drooling a bit.”

“I did not!” shouted the brown haired boy who had left such an impression on Minho back in the lounge. His mind went back to the first moment his eyes laid on him back in the lounge. One second there was no one, and the next there was a gust of wind going through the room and a boy smiling so genuinely, as if he was too pure for this world. He remembered how they made eye contact, how the boy’s smile gradually faded into a look he’d never seen before. All he knew was that, despite his smile disappearing, it wasn’t replaced by a negative emotion.  

“I was just impressed with how quickly he moved. Not like he would ever be able to keep up with me, but still enough to be impressive,” Jisung defended as he came closer as well. Everyone was starting to gather around the newcomer. “I am Jisung, by the way. We haven’t had a chance to meet because someone forgot to wake his roomates up.”

“Give Seungmin a break. I am sure he had his reasons,” the other boy Minho has yet to meet said. “My name is Hyunjin. I look forward to working with you.” Minho noticed how ethereal the boy’s features, but at the same time, Hyunjin had a somewhat familiar face.

“Now, since you know everyone’s names, and we are familiar with you and your abilities, why don’t we familiarize our gifts to you. That way we are all on the same page,” Chan advised. “I’ll start. My gift is a Rank 1. I can speak and understand any language that exists. Which includes animal languages and programming languages, hence why I’m good at computers.”

“I’m a Rank 3,” Woojin continued. “I can shapeshift into any animal. I mostly like bears, but I will NEVER shapeshift into a chicken. Chicken is my life, and I refuse to be a cannibal!”

“Okay…” Minho responded.

“This is normal,” the dark haired boy, Changbin, said. Now that they were standing, Minho was only just now noticing how short the boy was. He had to admit, it made him a lot less intimidating, “I’m a Rank 3, too. My gift is freezing people or objects in time. It only works on a small scale, though. I can freeze a room of people, but not an entire building or something like that. It also doesn’t last very long, too. The longest I have managed to keep someone frozen was nine minutes.”
“I still haven’t forgiven you for that, by the way, Changbinnie hyung,” Jisung pouted off to the side. ‘These boys don’t ever seem to give that kid a break’ Minho thought.

“Well maybe you shouldn’t have been scream singing on the top of your lungs at 2 am in the morning,” the red haired, youngest jabbed. ‘Or maybe he just deserves it’

Jisung gasped. “Innie, how could you betray me like this. I am your hyung!” The younger just shrugged in response to Jisung's dramatics.

Next Hyunjin spoke up, “Anyways, my gift is to manipulate water, but too much at one time is too heavy for me, so I’m just a Rank 3.”

“As for me, I’m super fast, Rank 3,” Jisung said confidently, like it was the best possible gift in the world.

Everyone collectively rolled their eyes then Felix continued, “Teleporting is my gift, but not crazy far distances. Rank 3.”

“I think Woojin said this before, but me and Jeongin are the Rank 4s of our team. My gift is to manipulate magnetic poles,” Seungmin added.

“And I have sonic screams,” Jeongin finished with a gummy grin.

When the IPBA assign ranks, they entirely base it off the destructive capability of the Gifted. They are more concerned about who are the biggest risk factors when they categorize. A Gifted is categorized as Rank 1 if their gift is an enhancement that can not be switched on or off. That’s why Rank 1s are the only Gifteds allowed to use their gifts because there is no way for them not to use them. Most of the time Rank 1s have an enhanced sense or some kind of psychic gift. Rank 2s are Gifted who can control when their gifts are active, but the gift is essentially harmless on its own. On the other hand, Rank 3s’ gifts can cause major harm or even death if it is used against people. The small scale distructors. To be categorized Rank 4, your gift has to have the potential to destroy an entire city building. The large scale distructors.

Finally, if a Gifted was given a Rank 5, their gift has the potential for global destruction. Apocalyptical. It was almost impossible to meet a Rank 5 either because the IPBA kept them under high surveillance and usually house arrest, or the agency just kills them all together.

And since everyone is scared as well, no one tries to stop them.

Chapter Text

Once everyone had introduced their own gift, all eight of the other boys started to bombard Minho with various questions about himself. Minho was slightly put off guard because he had always had the tendency to not open himself up to anyone else. In fact, he hadn’t even really let the other runaways BTS had taken in know more than the basics about him. When he last opened up to someone, it didn’t end well. As a result, he gave varying vague answers to each of their personal questions, yet they didn’t press in response. Woojin even whispered to him at one point in the conversation asking if they were making him uncomfortable in any way with their constant jabber. Minho assured the older he was fine repeatedly, but he didn’t seem too convinced. It was kind of nice to have someone looking out for him for once, but in all honesty, Minho really didn’t feel uncomfortable at all. He found it very entertaining the way someone would ask him a question, he’d start to give some kind of timid answer, and then another would jump in with some teasing remark and tell a story about some stupid thing the other had done before. ‘ Is this what a family is like?

While observing the conversations, Minho also began to pick up on certain personality quirks of each member. For example, half the time Chan would observe everyone else talking or bickering to the side with a slight proud smile most of the time, and then the other half he would join the younger members with the same youthful energy as all of them. Usually making weird noises or doing weird little dances.

Woojin was even more quiet than Chan, but you could tell he was paying attention to everything going on by the knowing grins or side glances he gave to the other members when they said something funny, or just weird. He’d also jump into the conversation with randomly savage comments which always cause everyone but the person they were directed towards to laugh.

For Changbin, he noticed the dark haired boy was the complete opposite to what Minho’s first impression of him had been. He was completely not a quiet, moody rebel type, but rather a loud goof who would constantly use a baby voice or some weird kind of old lady nagging voice. He was also TINY. At one point, Seungmin had teased Changbin about something he had done in the past. When everyone started ganging up on him, his face just looked so betrayed, but then he grabbed onto Felix’s arm who was next to him, and hide behind the blonde’s back with a pout. Felix just gave the wildest smile in response and laughed as he moved the older boy out from behind him while calling him ‘baby changbean’.

Felix was just overall, a very cheerful person. He didn’t say too much because his Korean was still developing, but that didn’t stop him from having just as much fun as everyone else. It was funny to see how every time he struggled with a sentence, he would give a little questioning glance to Chan who would just nod in encouragement.

Hyunjin was a highly cheerful person, as well. He giggled to pretty much everything even if it were only somewhat funny with a very high toned, adorable laugh. The tall boy was also very clingy. He would always be leaning onto someone's shoulder or grabbing onto their arm. He was especially fond of the youngest two of the group, Seungmin and Jeongin.

Minho soon realized those two were indeed a lot more mischievous than their looks let on. Seungmin looked like the most innocent little puppy with his big round glasses only adding to the effect, but some of the stuff he said was just straight up savage! What was the most trippy part about it, though, was whenever he said some cutting remark, he would keep the same cheerful smile as if what he said was completely innocent.

Then there was Jeongin, who even though we was the youngest, he had no problem whatsoever telling his hyungs off. On the other hand, his hyungs never seemed to hold it against him. They would always gush over how adorable their little “Innie” by attacking him with affection rather than scolding him for anything he does. Seungmin in particular liked to annoy Jeongin the most.

Finally, that left Jisung. Who was arguably the most active participator in their banter. He was a very expressive guy who always seemed to show exactly what he was feeling on his face. He was always trying to crack various jokes, and most of the time they would only result in awkward silences. Whenever this happened he would pout and nod like everyone’s lack of reaction was to be expected. It was the most adorable thing Minho had ever seen in his life, but he wouldn’t feel hurt too long. That was another thing Minho liked about him, the way he would take things as they came and not feel too hurt or personally attacked by what other people said. He chose to laugh rather than get hurt.

Not that his friends were trying to hurt him. They seemed even more aware to this aspect of his personality. They all understood each other completely and were comfortable enough to be themselves around each other. Comfortable was a word Minho never thought he would use to describe a Gifted, yet somehow these eight boys, and probably everyone else at this academy, have managed that feeling. ‘ Could I ever be as comfortable as them?’

It wasn’t until the door to the training room was opened that he seemed to notice just how much his abs seemed to hurt from all his laughing. While listening to their conversation, apparently he had laughed the hardest he has ever laughed as far as he could remember.

In response to the door being opened, Hyunjin was the first one to stand up in a blink of the eye and bow to the people walking in through the door. Minho turned around and noticed Jinyoung and JB walking into the training room carrying what looked like food.

“Good morning Jinyoung Hyung, JB hyung,” Hyunjin said as he practically singsonged the first name. Everyone else in the room except for Minho gave a knowing smile at the boy’s actions.

Jisung leaned over to Minho and whispered, “Jinyoung hyung is Hyunjin’s role model ever since he came to the academy. Got7 actually saved him from being arrested because he was accused of causing a flood in Seoul about a year and a half ago. Apparently Jinyoung saved his life during that mission because he has idolized him ever since.” Minho nodded in acknowledgement, thankful Jisung had taken the time to explain to him. As he looked between Jinyoung and Hyunjin, he noticed why Hyunjin had looked so familiar at first: he looked as if he could be Jinyoung’s son they looked so alike.

As everyone else stood and bowed to greet their elders, they bowed in return and set the food down in the middle of their circle.

“We know you guys have been busy all morning because of the mission and haven’t had time to eat, so we thought we would bring you all some food. You have to eat if you want to do anything correctly,” Jinyoung explained with a smile that looked like it should belong to a loving mother.

“Thank you, hyungs,” Chan said. “I have just been getting to know our new member up until now. I should probably start getting to work on the hacking I need to do.”

“Well, eat first, and then do that,” JB insisted. Chan nodded in response then Jinyoung and JB turned to leave the room, the way they came. As everyone started unpacking the food, Chan looked at it all with wide eyes.

“Chris baegopayo.”

“Chris baegopayo?” Woojin asked in response to Chan’s comment as he handed him a bag of food.

“Whose Chris?” Minho asked curiously.

“That’s Channie hyung’s english name,” Felix explained. “I don’t know why, but he always says that when he's hungry.”

“Ahh, I see.” Yet another thing, Minho will have to get use to.

 

*****

 

Once they had finished eating, Chan sat in the corner with the laptop Mark had given him, working on everything he needed to get done. In the meantime, everyone else was warming up their fighting abilities, getting ready for their mission tomorrow. It was nice for Minho to observe each of their different fighting styles. Hyunjin used very fluid movements when he fought, Felix used powerful strikes, Changbin was aggressive, Jisung was quick, Seungmin didn’t stick to one style, but rather was constantly switching, and Jeongin used a more defensive style. He didn’t get to see Woojin fight, though, because the oldest kept to the side the whole time, keeping a watchful eye making sure no one got hurt.

Not too much later, Chan stood up from his spot and declared he was finished. As he came back to the middle of the room, everyone gathered around him, ready to listen to their leader’s plan.

“First off, I was able to confirm the cell locks are indeed made out of metal, so that means the plan doesn’t need any changes. Felix, you are going to teleport yourself, Seungmin, Changbin, and Woojin into the security room inside the prison. I figured you all would be the best for this team because when you teleport in, you need to disable the guards in the room quickly, and Changbin’s gift works best for that. Woojin, I think it would be smart to have you dress up as a guard and go with Seungmin to unlock the cells because you will draw less attention if you run into other people. It is a lot more normal to see someone being escorted by a guard around a prison’s halls rather than two random strangers. Changbin and Felix will stand guard in the security room.” The four boys nodded and confirmed they each understood their roles. “As for who will be going undercover as prisoners, I think Hyunjin and Minho are best suited for that role. You both are the best fighters, so you won’t be too handicapped by having your powers restricted. I have already sent in a fake prisoner transport report to the prison and they are expecting the two of you to arrive at the prison at noon tomorrow. That leaves Jeongin and Jisung to stay with me on standby.”

“Standby? Come on Channie hyung. You know I would be just as capable on one of the infiltration teams,” Jisung wined in response to the fact he wouldn’t be able to get in on the action.

“Yes, you are plenty capable, but you also have the fastest reaction time in the event something does go wrong. I can’t have you on the undercover team because then you won’t be able to use your gift, and Woojin and Changbin are much more discreet than you are and better suited for the security team.”

“I can be discreet,” he defended.

Chan looked Jisung straight in the eyes and gave him a deadly serious look that Minho had yet to see from the older boy. “This is the best way I see this working. If worst comes to worst, you will get the action you are looking for, but I sincerely hope it doesn’t come to that. You have to think about the mission and the rest of your team, Jisung.” Once Chan was finished, Jisung nodded in agreement, knowing his leader was right. He shouldn’t be acting too selfishly. He had let the idea of a challenging mission get the better of him.

“I understand.”

“Good. When I hacked into the prison system, I was able to find out where everyone’s cells are located, and where they will most likely end up putting Hyunjin and Minho. Luckily, the Gifted wing of the prison is separate from the rest of it, and the boys and girls are kept in the same area. Each Gifted is given their own cell. Ryujin, Yuna, Soobin, and Hueningkai’s cells, along with where they will keep Hyunjin and Minho are all in the same area. They are supposedly keeping Yeonjun in the solitary confinement area of the prison, though, and under a lot more security. I say you free everyone in the main wing first, have Hyunjin and Minho lead them back to meet up with Felix and Changbin, and then Woojin and Seungmin continue onto freeing Yeonjun.”

Chan then stopped and turn to Seungmin and Woojin directly. “Your powers are two of the best attack powers along with Jeongin. When you go to free Yeonjun, there is no way to avoid fighting with the amount of guards there will be. I give you both permission to go all out if need be and get the boy out safely, understand?” Both Woojin and Seungmin knew exactly the weight Chan’s words carried. If they could help it, they always tried to limit the use of their powers. It was their sort of way of disproving the stereotype all Gifteds would go wild if they were allowed to use their powers unrestrictedly.

If Chan was letting them go all out, he was fucking serious.

Chapter Text

By the time the rest of the preparation for the mission was done, it was about two in the afternoon. Chan had told them to take it easy the rest of the day so they wouldn’t be too exhausted for the mission. He informed Minho about how they usually would attend various classes during the weekdays, including basic academics, martial arts training, and classes specifically dedicated to teaching them how to properly use their gifts, but since their team has a mission coming up, they were excused from class and any extra work. That fact didn’t seem to stop Chan from working on about five different things at once, though. The older boy had even offered to give Minho a tour of the academy, but Woojin stopped him by insisting he should take a rest since he was woken up so early. As the two of them were arguing over whether or not Chan should take a nap, Jisung volunteered himself to give Minho the tour, instead, almost a bit too eagerly.

Jisung seemed a bit shocked at his own tone he had used while volunteering. Once he had his thoughts together, he quickly grabbed Minho by his arm, dragging him away from everyone before they could make a comment. Jisung stopped when the two of them were safely away from the teasing remarks of everyone else and turned to the older boy with the same big smile Minho had been enamored with for the past few hours.

“Why don’t I show you around the grounds? I like to spend most of my time outside since the property is huge and completely private. It’s nice to be able to walk around outside and use our gifts freely,” he explained as he headed for the front door. “I can show you my favorite spots if you’re interested.”

Minho hesitated for a moment, staring after the younger who was moving further and further away. He was still a bit thrown off by how hastily he had been rushed out of the training room, and thoughts about how he shouldn’t get too close to anyone or used to anything ran through his head. All his life, he always ended up moving on whenever he thought he had found a place to settle. ‘ Why should this place be any different?’ Minho thought. Yet something about how close and openly everyone acted here made him want to stay. It wasn’t like any of the foster homes he had been sent to as he was growing up. It definitely seemed more permanent. More friendly.

“Well… Aren’t you coming?” Jisung turned back towards Minho as he reached the door.

‘Whatever, I’m stuck here for now. Might as well let loose a little.’

“Yeah, I’m coming,” the older shouted across the hall and ran towards the younger.

Once outside, Minho’s eyes were immediately assaulted by the bright sun, and he had to squint and blink as he waited for his eyes to adjust. Once he could see again, he noticed Jisung was already at the bottom of the stone stairs that led up to the entryway. ‘ It’s going to be a struggle to keep up with this one.

“Would you slow down for two seconds. I said I’m coming,” Minho shouted as he ran to catch up.

When he did, Jisung turned to him with another one of his grins and said, “No can do. I don’t slow down for anyone.” Then he took off at a faster jog, forcing Minho to follow. They were running through the field where the helicopter Minho had arrived in landed, but this time they were running past the makeshift airport and towards the cluster of trees beyond it.

Once Jisung had made it to the forest, he looked back and noticed Minho was still right on his heels. He hadn’t been using his gift, so the fact he could keep up in speed wasn’t surprising, but usually when he ran out this far with anyone else, they would be out of breath and tiring by the time they got this far. A little smirk crossed Jisung face at the idea of finally finding a worthy opponent.

The burnette took off at a slightly faster pace, this time using a fraction of his gift, and ran into the forest and up a hill. He could hear Minho shout after him some cursing remark about how using his gift was cheating, but he didn’t care. He was having way too much fun. Once Jisung reached the top of the hill within the forest, he came to a stop in between the two trees that stood atop it. The hammock he had hung up between the two trees about a year ago was rocking in the wind as a result of no one sitting in it. This was Jisung’s favorite spot on the whole campus because the tree line was just low enough you could see the entire academy from the top of the hill, but also high enough that it was hard for anyone below to see the spot through all the leaves. Whenever sadness would try to overtake Jisung, he would run here in an instant, lay down on his hammock, and breathe deeply as nature rushed around him.

Rushing. That was the only way he knew how to cope.

After a bit of time, Minho was running up to greet the younger who was swinging happily in the hammock.

“You little…” Minho started as he came to a stop and caught his breath.

“Oh, I’m sorry. I nearly forgot I came here with someone since you were so far behind me,” the younger teased and giggled.

“I’ll make you forget a lot more than that you cheater,” Minho mumbled his curse under his breath and started to make his way towards the offender, only to find him no longer in front of him one moment, and behind him the next. He turned around quickly, but not before Jisung pushed him onto the hammock.

“Would you calm down, hotshot. I was only teasing a bit. It’s what we do here in case you didn’t notice. Teasing is our sign of friendship. It shows trust in my opinion,” Jisung explained to the older before he could pop a gasket, but then he was surprised by how silent Minho went after hearing his explanation.

Jisung was about to freak out and get down on his hands and knees to apologize because he thought he had really offended him or something like that when Minho spoke up. “It has been a long time since I’ve given my trust to anyone. I don’t have the best experience with it,” he said quietly.

“Oh… I see,” Jisung said before he was mentally kicking himself for not considering this new boy’s past. Tragic backstories were definitely not uncommon at the academy. In fact, that is how most of them ended up here. Outcasted from society for being Gifted, being forced to take drastic measures, eventually running into trouble with the corrupt law the world lives under. “I’m sorry for being insensitive. Everyone here has their own story, and I think pretty much all of them are just as bad as the next. I should’ve probably used my brain a bit more. The rest of the team is always telling me to do so,” Jisung said nervously as he rubbed the back of his neck with his hand. He tends to forget that everyone else doesn’t cope the same way he does.

His mini freak out was interrupted when Minho suddenly started laughing out loud, and Jisung had to admit it was the most melodic sound he had ever heard in his life. He relaxed slightly at the fact Minho was no longer visibly mad, but was also confused as to why he was laughing at him.

“What?” the younger asked genuinely confused. “What’s so funny? Do I have something on my face?”

“Haha, no. I just find it funny that when you apologize you partially roast yourself. You’re weird.”

“And what exactly is wrong with being weird? Being weird means you’re unique, and being unique means you’re special,” Jisung stated proudly.

“Yes, you are special indeed,” Minho said with a smile so wide that Jisung stopped and stared for a second too long until he realized what he was doing. His ears became red, and he started mumbling out nonsense as he slumped down onto the hammock next to Minho and smacked his arm. He hoped to the gods the older hadn’t noticed.

“So why did you bring me up here?” Minho asked to break the awkward silence that had fallen between them. “I thought you were giving me a tour of the grounds, so why did we have to come all the way out here without you showing me any part of the grounds .”

That's when Jisung sat up a bit more and pointed out to the view in front of them. “Who needs to visit every part of it when you can just see it all from up here?”

Minho followed suit and sat up as well, and was immediately blown away by the view he had just now noticed. He had been distracted by a different view. The mid-afternoon sun was high above the field below them, allowing him to see everything perfectly. Minho could see the mansion and the field he had just run through, but also could see many new characteristics of the campus. There was a huge pool directly behind the mansion, and then a large pond a little further behind that which backed up into the rear tree line. Actually, the grounds were entirely bordered by the same tree line. It almost seemed as if someone had used a cookie cutter on the original forest to cut out the field that the mansion was built in because of how perfectly the tree wrapped around the grounds.

He could see the fountain and the rest of the landscaping he had passed by when he had approached the mansion entrance, but now he could also see the giant hedge maze which was located further away from the front of the mansion.   

“I always come up here when I get too sad,” Jisung said to interrupt Minho’s guaking. Minho turned the boy with a curious look. He was staring absentmindedly out into the field below, so all Minho could see was the profile of his face. “It’s kind of like my own secret hideout.”

“If it’s supposed to be a secret hideout, why are you showing it to me?” Minho questioned in almost a whisper as he was trying to figure out yet another unfamiliar look on the younger’s face. Jisung slowly turned his head towards Minho and they made eye contact. The two of them stayed that way for a time, just as they had when they first saw one another, until Jisung finally turned back forward and answered.

“I don’t really know to be honest. I’ve just never seen someone as sad as you.”

Chapter Text

Minho was staring at the unfamiliar ceiling above him as he was lying down in his new bed. His mind kept going back to what Jisung had said earlier that day. ‘ Was he really that obvious? ’ he thought as he debated how Jisung had been able to read him so well. Sure he was quiet and reserved, but Minho had never thought he looked as sad as he felt. No one else has ever taken the time to point it out, so he just assumed either he was really good at hiding what was wrong or people just didn’t care enough to notice. ‘ What was so different about Jisung, then?

Soon Minho sighed and turned to face the very boy that was keeping him from sleeping peacefully. He was lying on the bed across the room fast asleep. After Jisung and Minho had returned to the academy, not saying much of anything on their way back, Chan decided that it would probably be best for Minho to settle down in a room in their wing of the mansion. There had been a fourth room that their team had been using for storage, but with the only two person room, Chan and Changbin’s, being too small for a third, they decided to go ahead and turn it into a dorm.

At first, Jeongin was going to share the room with Minho since he was in one of the rooms with three people, but as soon as the youngest volunteered, Hyunjin grabbed the red haired boy by his arm and pulled him close. At the same time, Seungmin took the opportunity to shove Jisung into Minho while declaring that they were kicking Jisung out of their room and Jeongin was moving in instead.

The six other boys just blinked until Chan broke the silence by saying, “Seems legit.”

In fact, as everyone was moving about, Changbin took the chance to ask Woojin to switch with him, and the older gladly accepted his offer, much to the Chan and Felix’s surprise. Minho even thought he saw the two Australians blushing when Woojin accepted.

After a bit of time, Minho turned back over in his bed. He was wearing borrowed clothes again since they all agreed it would be best to wait until the mission was over before going shopping. He needed to sleep or else he wouldn’t be much use tomorrow, so with one last sigh, he closed his eyes and drifted to sleep.

 

*****

 

Minho and Hyunjin were standing in the chilly morning air just outside the side of the mansion Minho had not been able to see from the looking spot the day before. He could now see that the entire side of the house consisted of six large garage doors and a wide driveway area that narrowed once it got closer to the bordering forest. Since they were expected to arrive at Seoul Reformatory at noon, and Seoul was a three hour drive away from the academy, Chan had woken them up a lot earlier than everyone else. He told them to meet him here while he got transportation figured out, but they were both a bit confused as to how their leader was going to get a hold of a prison transport vehicle.

As soon as the two boys were starting to get impatient, one of the garage doors they were standing by slowly opened up, and out drove Chan in a normal black van. Once the van stopped in front of Minho and Hyunjin, Chan got out from the driver seat and a shorter girl with long black hair got out from the passenger seat.

“Oh, good morning, Jimin noona,” Hyunjin said suddenly as he bowed to the girl Minho did not recognize. “Are you going to be helping us on our mission?”

“Yup. Because Channie here practically begged me to.”

“I did not beg. I politely asked you to use your gift to help us make our fake prison transfer more believable.”

“Well, if you didn’t beg, why am I even helping you?”

“Because you’re an awesome person and were happy to help out an old friend. Now could you do the thing,” Chan asked as he motioned his hands to hurry her up. The girl, who Minho assumed was named Jimin, walked towards the van she had just exited and put her hand to it. Much to Minho’s surprise, the van slowly started to change shape and color, and markings of a prison transport truck appeared on the sides. In reaction to the sudden change, he took a step away which caused Chan to remember that he forgot to introduce the new member of his team to his old friend.

“Oh, Minho. Sorry for not introducing you. This is Jimin. She is the same age as me, and has been around almost as long as I have at the academy. She is also one of the few people at the academy allowed to go on difficult missions by herself. Her gift is being able to change the structure of objects into other things as long as they are similar in mass. Rank 4.”

“Hello,” Jimin says with a smile. “You must be Minho. Chan was telling me about you on our way here. Welcome to the academy!”

“Uh, n-nice to meet you to,” Minho responded with an awkward bow. He was not looking forward to the amount of new people he would have to get use to during his time at the academy.

“He’s shy. That’s adorable.”

“You’re kind of intimidating, too, Jamie,” Chan defended.

“Shall we get going? Isn’t it going to be a long drive?” Jimin announces.

“You’re driving us?” Hyunjin asked.

“Of course! I am the master of disguise,” as she said this, she touched the clothes she was wearing, and they changed into a guard uniform. She then walked towards the two brown haired boys and turned their clothes into tan colored prisoner uniforms. “You both are going to have to act sedated when we get there, but for now hop in the back and get comfortable.”

“Why does it seem like you’ve broken into a prison before?” Minho questions skeptically.

“Because I have,” she said matter-of-factly. Then she proceeded to get into the driver's seat and shut the door.

Before Minho could question further, Chan turned to them with an encouraging smile. “Good luck, you two. I wouldn’t be letting you both do this if I didn’t think you could handle it. See you tonight when we show up for the breakout plan.” The older gave both of them a hug, which at first caused Minho tensed up, but he slowly relaxed into the older’s comforting embrace and hugged back. ‘ This is something he could get use to. ’ Minho and Hyunjin then climbed into the back of the transport truck, Chan closing and locking it behind them.

Then, it was just the two of them. The driver and passenger seats were not connected to the back of the transport truck by a window or anything like that, so Jimin was completely disconnected from them. After a long period of awkward silence, Hyunjin lets out a loud sigh.

“Are you nervous?” Minho asked as he examined the younger.

“Kind of. It is my first mission after all, but also I’m really excited because it means I’m going to be able to help out a lot more struggling Gifteds. Like the ones we are breaking out now. Or Gifteds who are like how I was when Got7 saved me…”

“Yeah, Jisung told me that story,” Minho said sympathetically.

“He did?” the younger responded in shock.

“Oh, was he not supposed to? Shoot, was I not supposed to say anything?”

As the older was freaking out about whether or not he fucked up, Hyunjin started to giggle. “It’s okay. I really don’t care if you know about my past. Everyone else on the team knows about it and your a part of the team now, too. I was more questioning when Jisung had the chance to tell you rather than worried he told you.”

“Oh, well, Jisung, he, there was food, and he was next to me, and he just, and yeah…” Mingo stuttered out, suddenly flustered for no reason. That was when he could hear Hyunjin’s laughter became even louder.

“I understand. Jisung does talk a lot.”

As soon as Hyunjin calmed down and Minho’s blush faded, a question Minho had earlier popped back into his head. “Do you know what Jimin-ssi was talking about earlier? About breaking into a prison before? Is this something the academy does often? I guess I’m just trying to figure out what else I am getting myself into by being a part of your team.”

“Well, I don’t know about the details of a lot of missions either. You’d have to ask Chan, Changbin, or Jisung about that, but I do know about at least one other break-in that I think Jimin noona was responsible for. I only know this story, though, because it was Seungmin who she broke out.”

“Seungmin was in prison?” Minho said surprised. He definitely had a hard time imagining someone with cute features like Seungmin’s in a prison.

“Yeah. It’s a bit of a long story, but we have the time, I guess. There was a huge fire in the school he was going to at the time, and he ended up using his gift to keep the second floor of the building from caving in on the first and killing the people still inside. He should’ve been a hero, but the IPBA got the notice that he used his gift illegally because of his band and they just arrested him instead. The entire story was on the local news, and it was actually defending Seungmin, but not many people lived in his hometown since he is a Rank 4 and all. As a result, he defense story ended up not getting enough attention for the IPBA to pay any attention to it, and Seungmin was left in prison. Luckily, someone in the academy found out about it which lead to Jimin noona breaking him out. There was a lot less security involved for that prison break compared to this one, though. It is crazy how big a difference it is for Rank 4s and Rank 5s.”

“I guess you all have stories about how you came to the academy.”

Hyunjin let out an exasasberated laugh. “That’s an understatement. If you’re curious, all you have to do is ask. They can be painful memories, but we are happy now that we all have each other, so we don’t mind talking about it. Maybe once you're settled in a bit more, you can tell us your story,” the younger said the last part with a soft smile.

Minho nodded and smiled in response to what Hyunjin was saying. Behind his smile, however, there was worry in his eyes, yet it wasn’t because Minho didn’t believe that he would find himself comfortable enough to share his story with the others or because he didn’t trust them. It was because of the fact he couldn’t even remember his entire story.

All he knew was that someone wanted him dead.

Chapter Text

Just before they arrived at the prison, Hyunjin and Minho heard Jimin bang on the outside transport truck, signalling for them to act sedated. They both looked at each other for reassurance one last time then laid down and closed their eyes, making it look like they were asleep. It wasn’t long until the vehicle stopped, and they could hear someone unlocking and opening the truck doors.

“The tranquilizers should be wearing off soon, so I would put the collars on them as soon as possible,” said someone who sounded like Jimin, and Minho assumed she was talking to the prison guards. Soon enough, he felt something cold and hard wrap its way around his neck. It took a lot of self control to not attack the guard who was responsible for the feeling. His body was then moved to a stretcher, and they were on the move.

He was eventually set down on what felt like a bed, and he could feel someone handcuffing his wrist to the side. Once a believable amount of time passed, he slowly opened his eyes. His gaze was immediately meet by the eyes of an older man who was sternly staring him down. He thought if anyone else had awoken to the sight, they would have been terrified, but Minho refused to give him the satisfaction. There was something in the way the man looked at him like he was a piece of garbage that made his blood boil.

Instead, he made a show of sleepily rubbing his eyes and looking around the rest of the room to gain knowledge of his surroundings. They were currently in what appeared to be an infirmary, and, as he had suspected, his wrist was handcuffed to the railing of the bed he was in. Hyunjin was still pretending to be asleep on the cot next to him in a similar detained state.

“Glad you could finally join me,” the man suddenly interrupted Minho’s curious examination of the room. The boy sat up and turned to face the man.

“The pleasure is all mine,” he added with a bit of sass and a smirk. The older gave no reaction but continued staring daggers at Minho. The man’s gaze only turned away from him when they both heard the rattling of Hyunjin’s handcuffs, alerting them he was ‘waking up’ as well. As soon as the younger opened his eyes, he reacted just as Minho had thought someone would have: he freaked out in response to locking eyes from the scowling man and quickly sat up. It seemed like he had also forgotten he was cuffed because he pulled really hard with his arm, only to grimace in pain because the metal cut into his skin.

Once the two of them were sitting up and obviously awakened, the scowling man proceeded to speak.

“Welcome to Seoul Reformatory, Prisoner 903 and Prisoner 905. I am the warden specially in charge of the Gifted building at this penitentiary and as long as you follow our few strict rules we will get along famously,” the warden stated with a completely straight face. After his introduction, he continued to list out the various rules of the prison. Number one being they can’t use their gifts or else the collar around their necks with deliver a shock which will immediately incapacitate them. He continued to explain other general rules, schedules, and punishments, but Minho didn’t care to pay attention since he only had to be here until tonight.

After a bit of time, the warden finished. He made them acknowledge they understood everything, and then had a guard remove their handcuffs. The warden had taken off as soon as he was finished giving his welcoming speech, and Hyunjin and Minho were escorted to the prison cafeteria since it was lunch time anyways. When they walked into the room, the first thing that surprised them was the amount of people who were there. You would think there wouldn’t be too many Gifted kids in jail considering they only make up one percent of the population, but there were too many for Minho to count scattered around the large and loud cafeteria. There were guards posted every ten yards or so apart from each other bordering the edge of the room, ready in case an incident occured.

“So how are we planning to find the four people we are looking for with this many people?” asked Hyunjin once the guard left them to wander the cafeteria alone.

“That is a good question,” Minho said as he was scanning the room fiercely for any of the four they were looking for. That was when someone abruptly cleared their throat behind them, causing them both to turn around curiously. Minho suddenly found himself looking upward at a boy who was even taller than Hyunjin, but who he also recognized as Soobin from the briefing pictures.

“I think you two were looking for me?” he asked as the duo was still trying to get over the shock of just running into the very person they needed to find.

“Wait, how did you know that?”

“I’ll explain in a second. For now, just follow me.” Then he started walking off into the crowded tables. Hyunjin looked to Minho for confirmation on what they should do, but the older just shrugged and followed Soobin. It wasn’t long until they came to a table which was already seating three people. Minho sighed in relief when he recognized all three faces.

Yuna looked up from her food as she noticed people approaching, and her eyes practically popped out of her head when she saw Minho. She was immediately up and out of her seat, and then she jumped over the top of the table to give Minho a giant hug.

“Minho oppa! What the hell? Why are you here? The four of us thought you had gotten away!” Yuna bombarded her questions at the older.

“Yuna! Would you keep it down. You are drawing too much attention to us,” Ryujin immediately scolded. Minho was thinking it was nice to see that a couple days in prison didn’t change them when he finally processed what Yuna had said.

“Four? What do you mean four of you thought about me?” Just as he said that, however, someone jumped onto his back unexpectedly.

“Hyung! I wasn’t sure if you were alive or not. What the heck happened to you after the IPBA raid?” the person on his back asked. Minho immediately recognized the excited voice as belonging to the hyperactive Beomgyu. He pulled him off his back and spun around to face him. Sure enough, his suspicion was confirmed, and Taehyun was standing directly behind him.

“What the… You two aren’t supposed to be here. You both got away with Jaehwa.”

“Jaehwa? We have no idea where he is either,” Taehyun said. “After the attack, he woke up in the prison’s infirmary. Same with Yuna and Ryunjin. We assumed both you and Jaehwa had either gotten away or both of you were dead.” At the last part, he looked down and said it more solemnly.

“I got away,” Minho stated as he was trying to process this new information which didn’t make any sense.

“If you got away, why the hell are you here now?” Ryujin questioned as she pointed her spoon at Minho for extra emphasis.

“We are here you break you all out,” said Hyunjin as he suddenly budded into the reunion. All eyes then shifted from Minho to him. He motioned for everyone to sit down at the table so they could talk without being overheard.

Just as they did, the youngest looking boy at the table spoke up, “Does this have to do with the vision you wouldn’t tell me about Soobin hyung?” Minho could recognize him as Hueningkai.

“Yes, I wasn’t too sure what it meant, and I didn’t want to get your hopes up if it turned out not being what I thought was.”

“Vision? Break out? What the fuck are you all talking about?!” Ryujin demanded.

“Sorry Ryujin, I guess I didn’t tell you about my gift. I’m a Rank 1, so since I can’t control when my gift is active, I still have access to it. I randomly get brief visions of future events if I touch people or objects that are somehow involved in the event. I got a vision when I met you yesterday about this exact moment. The two of you were telling us about your grand plan to save us,” Soobin explained, implicating Minho and Hyunjin as ‘the two of you’. He then he turned to Hueningkai with a reassuring smile. “They are here to save Yeonjun as well.”

“Oh, so that’s how you knew we were looking for you,” Minho said.

“And you’re right. Our team does have a plan to save everyone. They are infiltrating the prison tonight and breaking us out,” Hyunjin continued. “We were sent ahead to inform you about the plan beforehand.”

“Did BTS put this plan together? Does this mean they got away okay?” Taehyun asked.

That was when Minho explained everything that had happened to him since the raid at BTS’s hideout. He told them about how BTS was still recovering from the attack, how he was saved by people from the academy, and how he ended up joining the academy. Before they could start sharing the breakout plan, the guards announced lunch was over. Fortunately, after lunch was recreation time, so they carried on the discussion in the rec yard. Once everyone was up to speed, the eight of them continued to talk about random things until they had to return to their cells.

A guard found Hyunjin and Minho and showed them the way. They were next to each other, but the others were elsewhere. Luckily, they had gotten the location for Taehyun and Beomgyu’s cells while they were discussing the plan, so they could free the two additions to the plan.

All they had to do now was wait.

 

*****

 

The sun was just setting as Chan and the remaining six members of his team arrived in Seoul. They had been putting together equipment, and preparing for the plan all day before they set out for their own long drive. Chan parked the black van that he had driven all the way from the Academy to Seoul in a back alley close to Seoul Reformatory. As soon as he came to a stop he turned around to face his team with an encouraging smile on his face.

“Alright. We’re here. This is what we have been waiting and training for, and I am so happy that it is all of you guys that could end up being apart of my team,” the leader said with the intention to pump everyone up except as he said those worlds, Chan actually started to get a bit emotional.

“Yah, save the waterworks for later, dear captain,” Jisung said jokingly.

“Can’t believe I’m saying this, but Jisung’s right. You can give us your grand speech once everyone is free and safe,” Woojin said as he rubbed Chan’s back from the passenger seat.

“You are right as always, Woojin. Thanks for always keeping my head straight,” Chan looked lovingly to Woojin. They only stopped when the entire makane line in the car started making fake gagging noises. “Anyways, here is the flash drive which will connect me to the camera feeds, so I can put them on loop.” He said as he pulled a USB from his pocket and handed it to Changbin. “Just plug it into the computer in the security room and let it do it’s work.”

Chan then turned to Felix, “You’ve memorized the prison layout and know where you’re going right? Wouldn’t want you teleporting into the wrong room.”

“Don’t worry. I got this,” Felix responded confidently to the leader’s concerns.

“If you say so. Once I’m connected to the cameras, I will have access to the real time feed of the cameras. That way I will know what is going on during the operation. Keep your coms on, so I can be your eyes and ears, letting you know if anything goes wrong. Lastly, I just want to wish you all good luck, and please don’t fuck this up.”

“Have a bit of faith. You said it yourself that this is what we’ve been training for,” Felix responded as he hopped out of the van enthusiastically. Changbin and Seungmin nodded in agreement and chased after the blonde.

“I’ll make sure things don’t get too out of hand,” the oldest reassured before giving Chan one last pat on his shoulder and then running after the youngers, leaving behind the standby team.

Jisung stared after the four longingly then let out a loud sigh. “And let the long boring night begin.” The squirrel-like boy proceeded to lean back in his seat with his hand resting behind his head, humming some quiet tune to keep himself entertained as they waited.

“Boring isn’t always a bad thing.”

Chapter Text

Changbin froze the guards as soon as Felix teleported them into the room. There had been three on duty, but now they were at a stand still, eyes widened in surprise. Without any words having to be said, they each set out to do what needed to be done. Woojin was taking the guard’s uniform off of the man most similar to his size, Felix got to work restraining them before they could unfreeze, Seungmin opened the door to the security room a crack to check if there were any more guards standing outside, and Changbin got comfy in the desk chair where a guard had previously been sitting, looking for the port to plug the USB in.

Once he located it and inserted it, he immediately used his coms to tell Chan.

“Good, good. The live feeds are showing up on my laptop,” everyone heard Chan through their earbuds. “The cameras should go on a loop… Now! Woojin and Seungmin, your good to go.”

“Got it leader Bang,” Seungmin said with a little smirk as he slowly opened the door all the way. Woojin, who was now dressed in the stolen uniform, quickly followed him out the door, knowing that he should be the one leading since he was the fake guard. They could hear Felix whisper a quiet “good luck” as the door to the security room shut.

The two of them didn’t have a hard time making their way around the prison since Woojin had gotten a good understanding of the prison’s layout before hand. He was also just very good with navigating since that particular skill is what many animals count on for survival in the wild. They managed to avoid most people, running into only two guards who only gave them a quick bow and continued on with their work. ‘ Chan’s plan is working. ’ Woojin thought unsurprised.

It wasn’t long before they finally made it to two doors with the numbers 903 and 905 displayed on them. These were the cells Chan had said Hyunjin and Minho were. The doors were made of thick metal and had no way to see through them except a slit at about eye level that could be opened and closed to view inside the cell.

Woojin first opened the slit to room 905 and peered in. He made eye contact with Hyunjin, the younger giving a little grin at seeing the familiar face then standing up and waiting for his friends to open his cell door. Seungmin put his hand over the door handle and soon after, they all heard a click. He opened the door and Hyunjin stepped out.

“We have a little change of plans. Turns out there are two other kids that Minho used to run with here as well. He had thought they got away from during the BTS raid, but apparently they didn’t,” Hyunjin explained quickly to them as they moved to cell 903. Woojin gave Hyunjin a glance that the younger was all too familiar with. “Don’t worry, we got their cell numbers from them when we were telling them about the plan. I’ve learned to think ahead,” the tall boy reassured his hyung.

“Uh, guys. We have a problem.” As Woojin and Hyunjin had been talking, Seungmin had managed to get Minho’s cell door open. Only, Minho wasn’t in his cell.

“What the hell? I saw him go in there with my own two eyes,” Hyujin said, confused.

“You sure you didn’t hear anyone come and get him?”

“Um, I thought I had heard movement in the halls about 10 minutes before you showed up, but I thought it was you guys at first. When no one opened my door, I just assumed it had been a guard passing by.”

“Shit. This is going to be a problem,” Seungmin cursed.

At the same time, Woojin tried to turn on his coms and tell Chan about their situation, but all he heard was static. “The coms aren’t working, either. We might be too deep into the prison for the signal to go through. The walls are pretty dense. I say we go ahead and get everyone else out now, head back to the security room where we know the coms work, let Felix teleport the Gifteds we are rescuing out, and then see what Chan wants to do about Minho. He does have eyes on us right now at least, even if he can’t talk to us,” reasoned the oldest as he pointed to the camera in the hallway.

Seungmin and Hyunjin both nodded in agreement, and then they quickly carried onto where everyone else was. They only had to go one wing over, so it didn’t take long. Soon enough, Soobin, Huengingkai, Beomgyu, Taehyun, Ryunjin, and Yuna were all free. Seungmin also took the time to remove everyones collars which resulted in mass relief among everyone. With nine Gifteds, free to use their gifts, they weren’t much scared of anything now.

They quickly explained Minho was missing and that they needed to get everyone out before they could figure out where he is, as well as get Yeonjun free. Huengingkai objected at first saying he wanted to go with them to free his hyung, but Soobin talked him out of it. He just had a feeling this was the right thing to do.

On the way back to the security room, they turned a corner and were met face to face with a very surprised guard. Everyone was getting ready to attack when suddenly vines grew out of the ground and restrained him, even gagging his mouth.

“Who was that?” Woojin questioned curiously as he turned around to the Gifteds behind him.

“Sorry. I got scared and it was a reflex,” Taehyun said shyly from behind Beomgyu.

“Don’t be sorry. That was amazing!” Huengingkai exclaimed, smiling for the first time in a while. He decided to do his own part by walking up and pressing his hand to the struggling guards head. The guards eyes widened, but then closed and the rest of his body went limp. The vines slowly disappeared as Taehyun saw the guard was no longer a threat.

“Did you just kill him?” Yuna asked in horror.

“God, no. I would never. He is just asleep. I erased a bit of his memory and my gift always causes people to sleep after I do that.”

“That’s definitely a gift that comes in handy. Now let's hurry before any more people show up,” Hyunjin rushed everyone along. He had managed to maintain his composure so far, but as each minute passed by, he became more and more anxious about his missing partner. ‘Where the fuck did you go Minho? ’ Hyunjin hadn’t know him long, but Minho had left a good impression on Hyunjin. During their get to know you session the day before, he got the feeling that the older would get along well with the rest of his hyperactive team. Minho might have been quiet, but he liked how the older tended to break his ‘bad boy’ image whenever he laughed.

They quickly made their way back to the security room, but as soon as Woojin opened the door, a gust of wind swept past them, nearly knocking a few people off their feet.

“Jisung?” questioned Seungmin, all too familiar with the effect of his friend’s gift. They then peered into the room and saw Felix freaking out with Changbin trying to calm him down.

“What happened?” Woojin asked as they all made their way into the room, shutting the door.

Changbin looked at the camera monitors then explained, “Chan noticed that a few of the cameras feeds were already looped when I plugged him into the system, meaning that someone else had already gotten into the server before him. He’s been trying to keep whoever else is plugged in from breaking through his own firewall right now, but while he was doing that he lost coms. Felix decided to risk leaving me here by myself and went back to the car to figure out what was going on. It took Chan a bit to secure everything, but when he did he noticed that the only cameras this mysterious hacker had looped were the ones monitoring the hall where Minho and Hyunjin’s cells were. As well as all the hallways leading to the recraction area.” Changbin was talking extremely fast, so Woojin, Seungmin, and Hyunjin were the only ones able to understand him since they were used to this by then.  

Felix had calmed down a bit upon seeing that most everyone was okay as well. He had tuned in during the last part of Changbin’s explanation and managed to understand at least what part of the story Changbin was at. “Jisung insisted that I teleport him in and Chan said it was okay, but he was extremely riled up, and as soon as I did, he just took off,” Felix finished explaining. Unfortunately, just as the freckled boy closed his mouth, the alarms of the prison started going off.

“What now?” Hyunjin shouted angrily at the ceiling.

“Felix, get everyone out of here,” Woojin instructed. Felix nodded and went to grab the two closest people to him, Taehyun and Hueningkai.

“What about Yeonjun?!” Huengingkai shouted desperately before Felix had the chance to jump.

Woojin then gave the younger a gentle pat on the shoulder. “Don’t worry, me and Seungmin will get him out, no problem.” He then turned to look at Felix, “Bring Jeongin back with you, okay? The three of us together are an unstoppable force, doesn’t matter how many guards they call in. Don’t you think, Seungmin?”

“Couldn’t agree more, hyung,” the puppy faced boy said with smirk. Felix nodded, knowing all too well what those three were capable of. If he and Hyunjin were the best at hand-to-hand fighting, then Woojin, Seungmin, and Jeongin were the best at using their gifts to fight. Nothing got in their way when they went all out.

And Chan had already given them the okay to do just that.

Chapter Text

Ten minutes before Woojin, Seungmin, and Hyunjin found Minho’s cell empty.

Since night had rolled around, Minho was expecting the rest of the team to arrive any minute. That’s why he wasn’t too surprised when the door to his cell made a click then began to open. It was the person who opened the door that surprised him.

Minho scoffed as Jaehwa came into view in the doorway instead of Woojin or Seungmin. There was a moment of silence where the two just exchanged stares before he eventually spoke. “I already knew you were an asshole, but I didn’t think you were a traitorous asshole,” Minho said in disgust.

“Technically, I’m not a traitor if I was never loyal to BTS and the rest of you in the first place,” Jaehwa responded with a condescending grin.

“Ah, I see. You were a spy. I’m guessing you were responsible for the raid, then? I considered the possibility since you were the newest runaway BTS had taken in, and my suspicions were only strengthened when I saw Beomgyu and Taehyun locked up here when they should’ve gotten away thanks to you.”

“You always were a clever one, weren’t you? Too bad you noticed too late,” said Jaehwa as he moved aside and gestured for Minho to come with him. “Care to follow me?”

“Why should I?”

The younger laughed, “it’s not like you have much of a choice. I’m the one with access to my gifts whereas you’ll be zapped unconscious if you even try.”

Minho glared at him a bit more before eventually walking out of his cell and letting Jaehwa close it behind him. He started walking down the hallway, away from the security room. Good.

To be honest, Minho couldn’t care less about the fact he couldn’t use his gifts. He could still manage to beat Jaehwa without them as long as he dodged all of the younger’s attacks. No, the reason he had decided to follow Jaehwa, despite him being a grade A jackass, was because he knew that Woojin and Seungmin would be there soon, and he didn’t want Jaehwa getting in the way of their plan. He was stalling.

As they walked towards the back part of the prison the two of them passed quite a few guards. When they first ran into one, Minho had expected an altercation, but instead the guard bowed to Jaehwa despite him being much younger. And Jaehwa didn’t bow back. ‘ What the hell is going on here?

Minho figured Jaehwa had been spying for the IPBA since they were the ones who raided the hideout, but something didn’t feel right to him. Why would any Gifted willingly work for the IPBA? And why would Normies be treating a Gifted with any form of respect?

Eventually, the two made it outside to the open air of the recreation yard. Jaehwa stopped walking once he was standing in the middle, and Minho followed suit. After a brief time of Jaehwa just staring straight ahead, away from Minho, he turned around to face the older.

Minho was trying to figure out what Jaehwa was thinking when the silence was interrupted by Jaehwa’s sudden words. “You know, Minho, I thought the night of the raid was the last I would ever see you once I was told you disappeared into thin air. The idea didn’t bother me, and I couldn’t care less since I guess you could say we never hit it off.”

“I wonder why?” Minho sarcastically interrupted, but Jaehwa didn’t seem fazed.

“What I sure as hell didn’t expect was my boss’s reaction to your name when I was giving them my report.” Minho tensed. “Who knew that the quiet, brooding kid, doing BTS’s bidding, was their most wanted Gifted?” He paused for a moment to gauge Minho’s reaction. “Dead or alive.”

“Cerberus,” the brown haired boy muttered into the dark.

“Oh ho, you know their name? That alone is a reason they would want you dead, but I have a feeling there is more to it. Care to share?”

The information that Jaehwa was asking for was the same information Minho had been trying to uncover during those few months with BTS. Sure, he knew the name Cerberus, but he didn’t really remember how he did. That word was the only thing he was able to recall from the five missing years of his memory.

“I’m not really the sharing type, so why don’t you cut the crap and tell me why you brought me out here,” demanded Minho. He was done playing games and starting to lose his patience due to the mentions of his past.

“Fair enough,” then Jaehwa suddenly tossed him something that he caught with ease thanks to his quick reflexes. Minho looked down in his hand to find a key. “That’s the key to your collar. I believe you still owe me a fight,” Jaehwa declared which caused Minho to smirk.

If it’s a fight he wants, a fight he’ll get.

As soon as Minho was free of his collar and tossed the hunk of metal to the side, Jaehwa jumped high into the air using his strength. He was letting gravity increase his super strength even further with the momentum of his fall, but fortunately for Minho, the time he spent in the air gave more than enough chance to dodge Jaehwa’s elbow strike.

When he missed his target, the strength of his attack hit the ground, instead, causing the earth to shake. Minho was quick to find his balance and created two shields over his forearms to increase the impact of his own hits.

The older quickly engaged with Jaehwa and began a series of close combat strikes. Minho was preventing himself from getting hit by creating a forcefield wherever Jaehwa aimed since he could predict his opponents movements beforehand. Foreseeing his opponent's moves had always been a specialty of Minho’s, so it was easy enough to do. At first.

As they continued their back and forth, Jaehwa’s attacks became more erratic and unpredictable. ‘ He had obviously chosen not to show his true fighting abilities before.

Minho would have become worried if he solely relied on prediction while fighting, but as Jaehwa said earlier: he was clever, too.

Minho retreated from their close combat back and forth and created shields that gradually appeared higher than the one next to it like steps. He soon ran up them hoping Jaehwa would take the bait and think he was just trying to get the upperground like he had at the beginning of the fight. He did, and as soon as Jaehwa left the ground with another one of his powered jumps, Minho smirked. Checkmate.

Before Jaehwa could reach Minho, he conjured a shield above Jaehwa’s jump path, causing his head to slam right into it. The younger fell to the ground and was grabbing his head in pain. Minho wasted no time giving him a front kick to the gut and backhanding his ribcage with his shield reinforced arm. As Jaehwa fell to the ground, the older was getting ready to deliver the final blow to Jaehwa’s head in order to knock him out when he was startlingly blasted backwards by a bolt of energy.

Minho landed pretty harshly, the back of his head slamming the ground as a result of the force of the blow. He slowly tried to scramble up but was pushed back down by Jaehwa’s shoe pressing into his chest. When he made eye contact with the boy standing above him, he saw energy flashing through his eyes and sparks flaring from his fingertips. ‘What the…’

“But your gift is enhanced strength?” Minho questioned.

“I really wanted to prove I could beat you with just my born gift alone, but I guess you are as good as they said,” he said with a laugh of disbelief.

“What?”

“You’re kidding? You know the name Cerberus, but you don’t even know what they do?” Jaehwa examined Minho’s face as he explained, looking for any sign of his familiarity with the information. “Their a faction of scientist in the IPBA who experiment with gifts. Their goal is to be able to give gifts to anyone even if they are born a Normie, but so far the only subjects who have survived their process have been Gifteds themselves resulting in Gifteds with two gifts. Hence the second gift. Pretty neat, don’t you think? Makes me a little ‘less cliché’, huh?” he said the last part playfully letting large sparks flare from his hands.

“You work for Cerberus and the IPBA because they gave you another gift?”

“Is that what you’ve been trying to wrap your head around this entire time? Why a Gifted would sell other Gifteds out to the IPBA? Well, sorry to disappoint you and your righteously hateful opinions of Normies and how they treat Gifteds, but at the end of the day if a Normie can give me more power, I don’t care what has to be done. They gave me a lot more than another gift as well. They gave me freedom. The ability to live my life without being consistently identified as an outcast, all in exchange for a few favors.”

“You’re  insane to trust them. Normies give nothing to Gifteds that actually benefit them,” Minho said with hate. Just then Jaehwa’s foot started to spark with more energy, sending a temporary paralysing shock through Minho’s body.

“I am plenty sane. I am just doing what any human would do.” His hand starts to glow as he charges it up for a lethal blow. “Because at the end of the day, power is power. And power is all that matters in the world, no matter where you get it from.”

Minho had closed his eyes. He was about to die, and he didn’t even really know the people who wanted him dead or why he had to die, but was it really so bad? ‘ The world has never cared for me anyways. Why should I be reluctant to leave it?’ He was ready to accept death with open arms and leave the hateful reality he was born into behind.

But instead of the feeling of a fatally charged punch, all he heard was a grunt, the sound of someone hitting the ground, and a familiar voice shouting, “It’s Gifteds like you that really set my temper off.”

Minho opened his eyes to a familiar squirrel like boy, glaring at what Minho assumed was Jaehwa. He didn’t care to check because he was too distracted by how PISSED Jisung looked.

Chapter Text

Back in the van.

Woojin, Changbin, Felix and Seungmin had only been gone a few minutes when Jisung’s humming was cut off by he sound of Chan cursing.

“Shit. Changbin, someone had already looped the cameras.”

Jisung quickly sat up to see what was happening and Jeongin followed suit, both gathering just behind Chan and his laptop. Chan was aggressively typing code into his computer while mumbling nonsense about some attacker.

“What? What happened? Did Felix teleport them into the wrong room or something?” Jisung questioned curious as to what was happening.

“Ha, no. I think that might have been better than this. Someone is trying to hack me,” Chan said as he continued struggling with his keyboard.

“Hack?! Will you be able to stop them?” Jeongin frantically asked.

“Don’t worry, Jeongin. They’re good, but I’m better. It’s just concerning because they managed to cut off our com network as soon as I made that call to Changbin.”

Suddenly, Felix appeared out of nowhere next to all three of them in the passenger seat of the van which caused Jisung to scream slightly and Jeongin to jump.

“Dammit, Felix. Your not suppose to do that right fucking next to us. It’s freaky,” scolded Jisung as he puffed his cheeks in anger.

“Sorry, it’s just the coms cut out and we didn’t know what to do. What did you mean someone already looped the camera?” Felix apologized.

“I meant someone was already in the system, looping the cameras, so when I plugged in, it gave them access to my server and now they are trying to freaking corrupt my whole hard drive,” Chan let out a laugh that was begging for his opponent to challenge him. “Not today, mate. Not today.”

He continued his virtual battle for a few more minutes causing tension in the car as the three youngers didn’t know what was happening or how to help. When he finally shouted out a victory cheer, it caused everyone to snap their focus to Chan. “Yes! That was a lot harder than it needed to be, but I should have access to all the live feeds of the cameras now.”

Chan pulled up the live videos on his laptop screen since he had regained the ability to do so. He was hoping to find that Hyunjin, Minho, Woojin, and Seungmin were making it back to the security room with the newly freed Gifteds, but a camera overlooking an entirely different part of the prison caught his eye first. He enlarged the video feed coming from the recreation yard to get a better look, but what they saw caused all four boys to gasp.

They were faced with Minho fighting a mysterious boy in a outside area. Minho appeared to be winning the fight at first glance and about to deliver his final blow when a giant blast of static energy blasted him backwards. As he landed roughly, Jisung’s heart tightened at seeing the sight. He had to do something.

“Felix. Teleport me in.” Jisung said faintly while still staring at the live video. He didn’t know why he said it so quietly when all he really wanted to do was scream. When he didn’t get a response he finally was able to flip his eyes from the screen to Felix, “Take me in now!” He shouted desperately.

The freckled boy looked flustered and looked to Chan for what to do. The older gave him a reassuring nod. ‘ Everything has gone sideways anyways. Looks like you’ll get your action, Jisung,’ Chan thought.

“Hurry up, Felix!” Jisung added again, this time grabbing Felix’s arm and shaking it for extra encouragement. With that final prompting, Felix rested his own arm on Jisung’s shoulder and teleported them both back to the security room.

The moment they were inside, Jisung took off through the recently opened door, leaving no time to acknowledge anyone or anything else going on. There wasn’t time for that right now. He just needed to be fast. Go faster! He ran through the prison, pushing his gifts to their limits. He prayed that he was going the right way, but he was only navigating based off his memory of the layout he examined beforehand. Please get there on time.

Once he reached the place he had been headed, Jisung was relieved to see the yard and the person he had been looking for in the middle of the yard. Yet, his heart nearly stopped when he released Minho was still on the ground, about to be finished by the boy standing above him. And Jisung froze.

Just like he did last time.

“Because at the end of the day, power is power .”

Those were the words that finally snapped him out of it. They were the same words the other man had said that day. ‘ Get a hold of yourself, Jisung. You can’t let the same thing happen again. ’ Jisung took off towards Minho’s assailant, pushing his gifts beyond their restraints. ‘ You have to be fast enough this time. ’ Jisung rammed all of his speeding weight into the side of the unexpecting boy who had just been above Minho.

He’d only just met him, but from the moment he’d first laid eyes on Minho, he saw something in his face that reminded him of himself. He saw the face of someone who had once had hope and happiness, but that hope and happiness had been chewed up and spit out by the cruel world they live in, leaving only a shell of what was there before behind. It was what made him stop. What made his world slow down for the first time since his parents had died. He wanted—no, he needed—to help the boy from the windowsill because Minho just might be able to help Jisung as well.

And right now that meant beating up this power hungry Gifted. The kind of person he hates the most is a person who uses their strengths to harm others instead of helping those less fortunate.

“It’s Gifteds like you that really set my temper off,” Jisung shouted at the boy he had just shoved to the ground. He charged forward as his new opponent was slowly standing up from his fall to the ground. Jisung ran behind him quickly before he could get all the way up and kicked him back down. “It’s Gifteds like you that give us all a bad reputation to begin with.” The boy groaned and tried to throw a blast at Jisung, but he was able to use his speed and dodge the makeshift attack easily. “It’s Gifteds like you that make sure Normies never see us beyond our ‘dangerous’ stereotype.” His voice was increasing with each statement he shouted out.  

“And it’s Gifteds like you that killed my fucking parents,” he finally finished with a outraged yell. Jisung could feel some tears rolling down his cheeks, but he didn’t care. He just delivered a finishing punch to his opponent's face, knocking him out cold. Jisung was so angry he wanted to keep hitting the unconscious boy, so that is exactly what he did.

Until someone stopped him.

Jisung felt arms wrap themselves around his torso, gently pulling him away from the victim of his attacks. At first, he struggled and tried to break free, not quite done letting all his frustration out, but then he heard a smooth, melodic voice in his ear.

“Shh. It’s okay now. He’s lost and won’t hurt me or you anymore.”

Jisung stopped his struggling and allowed himself to be dragged backwards. He relaxed his whole body into the person who was holding him, liking how comfortable and perfectly they fit together. It wasn’t until he finally took the time to steady his breathing, that he realized just  how out of breath he had been. And the alarm sirens going on around them.

He tensed back up at the sound, expecting them to lead to another fight, but the arms around him only tightened in response.

“Don’t worry about the alarms. No guards have come out here yet. My guess is they are more concerned about guarding their high profile inmate at the moment,” Jisung heard from the source of his comfort, behind him. He turned his head around and was met with Minho’s eyes looking down at him, and he had the most beautiful and consoling smile Jisung has ever seen. He knew that the older was just trying to reassure him, but that is what made it all the more gorgeous.

Minho brought his hand up to Jisung’s cheeks and wiped away the tear trails that had covered both of the younger's chubby cheeks, keeping it there a bit longer than he needed to. When Minho finally parted, it left Jisung’s face feeling cold, but that soon changed as Minho spread his hand through the air and a shield formed all around them. Soon enough, Jisung felt the scraps on his knuckles heal and his fatigued muscles regain their strength. He could also feel strength return to the body that his back was leaning against and was relieved that Minho was healing himself as well.

“Feeling better?” Minho suddenly said, snapping Jisung out of his awe at the older’s gift.

“Y-yeah,” was he managed to say in response.

“We should get going. I’m sure everyone else has been freed, and they are just waiting on us now.”

“Oh, right. Yes. The prison break out is a thing. That is happening. At this moment.”

Minho just laughed at Jisung’s confused state and helped him off the ground. “Are you alright? You sure Jaehwa didn’t damage your brain?”

“Jaehwa?” Jisung questioned, unfamiliar with the name.

“The boy you just beat to a pulp. He was the spy for the IPBA that sold out BTS’s hideout location.” When Jisung wasn’t quite following, Minho just laughed at him again.

God, how I love that laugh,’ thought the younger.

“Let’s just get out of-” Jisung’s retort was suddenly cut off by a bloodcurdling scream coming from within the prison, followed by the earth shaking. Minho immediately pulled his hands up to block his ears from the awful noise, but Jisung gave no reaction.

“What the hell was that?”

“That would be Jeongin,” said the squirrel boy with a relieved smile, suddenly happy that something was going on that he wasn’t confused about. “You get used to it. Guess Woojin and Seungmin thought they needed backup to break out Yeonjun. We should head back to the security room, they’ll have him soon enough. No one can beat those three when they fight together. It honestly is terrifying to see for the first time.” And with that Jisung grabbed Minho’s hand, and they took off back through the prison.

Chapter Text

As soon as Felix came back to the security room with Jeongin, Woojin and Seungmin quickly caught the younger up to speed and set off back through the prison. Now that the alarms were going off, they expected to run into more guards, but it wasn’t until they reached the hallways leading to solitary confinement that they ran into a lot of heavily armed guards.

Before the guards had a chance to react to their sudden appearance, Seungmin held his hand out in front of him and caused every loose metal item in the hall to be pulled to the space directly in front of him, forming a metal mass consisting of guns, badges, coins, etc. Once the guards were disarmed, Jeongin stepped in front of his hyungs and let out a high pitched scream. All at once, shockwaves were sent through the hall and all the guards were blasted backwards a considerable distance, their hands attempting to block out the hellish noise.

He turned back to Woojin and Seungmin with a grin on his face as the two olders lowered their fingers from their ears and the pile of metal that had been suspended in the air dropped. They had both just put in their special ear plugs that they kept for exactly the type of situation at hand.

“Good job, Innie,” Woojin praised and patted his back before shifting into a giant brown bear and charging toward the guards before they had a chance to get back on their feet. Woojin’s animal instincts took over as a result of the scent of blood that was currently falling from the guards’ ears, a side effect of Jeongin’s scream. He used his excessive weight to knock out all the guards in the way of the entrance to the solitary confinement cells. Once Woojin was finished, Jeongin and Seungmin easily passed all the unconscious guards, and the latter easily got the locked entrance door open. On the other side, however, there was another wave of guards who already had their guns aimed at the door, ready to fire after hearing the commotion.

The sound of shoots firing went off, but Seungmin was quick to repel the tiny bits of metal back into the barrels of the guns they had just left, the pressure causing many of the guns to explode. Woojin took this time to transform from a bear to a rhinoceros and charged towards the guards. Using his rhino horns, he paved a path through the first group of guard so that Jeongin could get past and use his gift on the remaining guards and back them towards the wall, all while Seungmin was navigating the bullets to find their ways into the guards instead of his friends. All of them were being careful to not actually kill anyone. They didn’t want to prove they were the monsters Normies say they are.

Within the short span of a minute, the fifty heavily trained and armed guards that had been stationed at Yeonjun’s cell were incapacitated, and the three Gifteds responsible for it had barely broken a sweat. As Woojin shifted back into his human form, Jeongin and Seungmin stopped to give each other a high five and hug, over excited that they were doing so well on their first mission.

“Don’t celebrate just yet, you two. We still have to get out of here,” Woojin said to end their little celebration. “Seungmin, can you get the cell door open for me.”

Seungmin moved the gears of the slightly more reinforced door and opened it. The sight that awaited them inside caused all three of them to gasp in horror. Yeonjun’s unconscious body was lying on a prison cot that was against the back wall, and there was an IV bag hanging from a rack a tube snaking its way into the boy’s wrist. The worst thing of all being was the muzzle locked around Yeonjun’s mouth to make sure he couldn’t speak.

“What the actual hell,” Seungmin spoke up first. “Do they think he is some sort of dog?”

“This is way past inhumane,” Jeongin said in disbelief.

Woojin scoffed and added, “I doubt whoever called for this considered him human. If they were just concerned about him using his gift, I think the medication would be enough to prevent that. The muzzle was a statement,” as he said this, Woojin carefully removed the IV needles from the boy’s arm while Seungmin removed the wicked contraption covering his mouth. Woojin bent down to pick up Yeonjun bridal style and turned back towards the door as a swarm of new guards swept into the room. However, instead of the expected prison guards uniforms, they wore the black combat outfits of the IPBA special forces team.

Woojin sighed, “Jeongin-ah, could you handle them? My hands are a bit full.”

Seungmin situated a spare pair of ear plugs they had on hand into the unconscious boy’s ears, not wanting to deafen him then he turned to Jeongin with a grin and wink, “I got you covered, Innie.”

Jeongin rolled his eyes in response. ‘ Honestly, his hyungs are so embarrassing.

They made it back through the prison the way they had came. Jeongin clearing the way with his screams, and Seungmin protecting against them against bullets by reflecting them. Even when some IPBA agents pulled out their few specialized plastic guns that the combatant agents specifically carry for Gifteds with metal manipulating gifts, Woojin’s senses were quick to notice it and he alerted Jeongin in time for him to blast back the bullets and officers. At this point, the structure of the building was starting to crumble because of all the sonic wave disturbance.

As soon as they took down the group of thirty agents, they booked it to the security room before the IPBA could send in another team. They knew that the agency was probably already closing off all the surrounding roads so they wouldn’t have anywhere to go, but Woojin was confident that Chan had a plan. Chan always had a plan.

As they opened the door to the security room they were met with a pacing, alone Felix who freaked when the door opened. He quickly moved into a stance fighting stance before calming down when he registered the faces of his friends.

“Why are you by yourself?” Woojin asked as he looked around the room. “Where’s Changbin?”

“I took him back already with Minho and Jisung.”

“You found Minho?” Jeongin asked, relieved. He had been extremely concerned for their new team member ever since he saw him fighting a losing battle via the cameras.

“Yeah, they showed up just before you did. Changbin wanted to stay with me, but honestly, all this jumping is starting to exhaust me, and I wasn’t sure I would be able to transport five people at once. Honestly four is even a stretch right now, but thankfully your supporting Yeonjun’s weight. Is he okay?”

“He’s fine, just unconscious,” Seungmin explained. “Now let's hurry.”

Woojin, Seungmin, and Jeongin gathered closely to Felix and grabbed each others’ arms. Once they were back in the alleyway outside the prison, Felix immediately collapsed onto Jeongin who was next to him. The younger caught him and was struggling to keep him up when Changbin ran up to them and threw one of Felix’s arms over his own shoulder.

“Pabo. He pushed himself too much,” Changbin huffed.

Soobin and Huengingkai also rushed the newly arrived group to get a good look at Yeonjun.

“Yeonjun hyung! Is he okay?” Huengkai questioned worriedly. Taehyun was close behind him, sympathetic for his new friend.

Soobin went to Woojin and asked if it was okay for him to hold Yeonjun instead, and Woojin obliged.

“Hurry up guys, I can hear the police sirens closing in around us. We aren’t going to make it out of here if you all dilly dally any longer. Who was stupid enough to set off the alarms anyways,” Jimin suddenly shouted. Woojin, Seungmin, and Jeongin were surprised by her sudden appearance, but apparently she had brought the second van which she had used to drive to the city, now returned back to its original appearance. It made sense that she would show up because they were a total of sixteen at this point and definitely wouldn’t fit in one van.

Huengingkai, Taehyun, and Soobin, who was still carrying Yeonjun piled into the van Jimin was driving, which also carried Beomgyu, Ryujin, and Yuna inside, while Woojin, Seungmin, Jeongin, and Changbin, who was supporting Felix, filed into Chan’s van where the rest of their team was.

Once everyone was situated, Jimin’s voice was heard over the bluetooth car radio, “what’s the plan now Bang Chan?”

“So glad you asked, Jimin. Just drive. As fast as you can. We are going to have to run whatever barricade they have set up, those of us with distance powers clearing the way.”

“They are still going to chase us all the way through the city.”

“Once we are through, we just need a minute out of their sight and we can disappear from their radar, them not even knowing we are right under their noses,” Chan finished saying as he pushed his foot down on the gas, propelling them into the busy streets outside the prison.

“How…?” Jimin started to ask, but then it dawned on her. “Ooooooh, okay. I got you,” Then she followed suit.

Just as they had thought, the streets were already swarming with police cars and IPBA vehicles alike, but the alley they had just come out of was directly behind where all of them had gathered outside the prison. He made a sharp left turn to go in the opposite direction, Jimin soon catching up so that they were driving next to each other.

Cars started to chase after the two fleeing vans but everyone that could, was ready to help out. The back doors of both cars were flung open so that the Gifteds had a good view of their targets, one of Minho’s shields protecting against any gunfire. Changbin was freezing multiple cars in their tracks before they had a chance to gain on them, Seungmin had cars flying left and right, completely turning them over, and Taehyun was causing gigantic vines to grow from the street pavement and wrap their ways around the cars, stopping their advancements.

As they made it to the rode block, Beomgyu stuck his head and hand out the passenger seat window. He held his hand out to the barricades and cars, soon causing a tornado to start to take shape in the exact spot Chan and Jimin were driving straight for. After a few seconds of the tornado clearing a path for them, the wind settled and Beomgyu returned to his seat.

“Wow, it’s been a long time since I have been able to use my gift at its full potential. It’s liberating to not have to restrain yourself,” Beomgyu said in relief.

“That’s how it goes when you’re a Rank 4 stuck hiding out in the city. BTS told you that you should have just found a small town to hideout in instead that didn’t have the Gifted sensors,” Taehyun responded.

“What would you know? You’re only a Rank 3,” Beomgyu teased the younger.

“We both know that it is borderline 4. You never know, the IPBA might have reclassified me if I had gone in for my adult examination.”

“Yuck, why would you want to think about ever doing that, the examinations are hell on earth for a week and we all know that,” Yuna added, butting into their conversation.

The chit chat was cut to an end when everyone was jolted to the right as Jimin made a sharp turn. Both Chan and Jimin managed to lose the agency long enough for Chan to instruct everyone out of the vans and have Jimin transform them into one semi-truck. After that they returned to streets, disguised, and exited the city under the cloak of midnight.

Chan had been put in charge of driving the truck for their three hour ride back to the academy since he was the least likely to fall asleep and Woojin was keeping him company in the passenger seat. The remaining fifteen Gifteds had spread out in the trailer of the truck, everyone trying to catch their breath after the events of the night and finally get some rest.

They all started to drift to sleep one by one, excluding Yeonjun and Felix who were already unconscious, either due to overuse of their gift or because of how late it actually was. All except two.

Now that things had settled down, Jisung’s mind couldn’t help but go back to the memories that had resurfaced during his fight with Jaehwa. They were all the memories he was constantly trying to forget, constantly looking for excitement and adventure to distract him from them.

“Can’t sleep?” Minho suddenly asked. He had been leaning his head back against the wall of the trailer next to Jisung. Jisung slightly looked sideways at the older, still feeling a bit flustered by the boy.

“Yeah. Too busy thinking,” responded Jisung.

“Same.”

There was an awkward moment of silence.

“Wanna talk about it?” Minho said to break it.

“It’s just that Jaehwa kid made me think about my parents.”

“Can you tell me about them?” Jisung turned to give Minho his full attention as soon as the latter asked that question which caused Minho’s face to redden. “I-I mean you don’t have to if you don’t want to… Actually forget I asked.” Even though Hyunjin had said it would be okay to ask, it still felt wrong, like he was invading someone’s privacy. Why should Jisung have to tell him a probably very personal story? They have only known each other for not even two days, yet Minho wanted to be closer to the boy.

“No, I don’t mind telling you. I was just surprised you asked,” Jisung then returned back to looking forward rather than at Minho. He sat up from the hunched over posture he had been in and moved to mimic Minho by resting his back and head on the wall behind them, unintentionally moving closer to the older during the process. “But you have to explain what’s on in your mind, too, once I’m done.” Jisung said adding an ultimatum.

“Fair enough.”

Chapter Text

Jisung could remember exactly the first moment he knew he was different. Up until he went to school for the first time at age six, he had thought his speed was something normal for kids his age. He felt normal mostly because his mom and dad treated him normally, giving him all the love they had to give, not treating him any differently than any other parent would treat their own child. Sure, they would never let him go to the stores with them, but he hadn’t thought much of it since he was six.  

He should’ve listened to his mom when she told him not to use his speed around the other children at school, but they were playing tag during recess, and Jisung had always had a competitive nature. When he was nearly about to get caught by a older boy he quickly sped out of the way, too quickly to be considered ‘normal’.

After that, it was the reactions the other students and the teachers gave towards him that told him he suddenly wasn’t like them anymore. A teacher yelled at him and dragged him into the inside of the school building, locking him in an office for a bit of time, alone. Jisung had been crying the entire time, crying out for his mommy and daddy, but when the door to the office finally opened, it was a strange man in a formal suit that stepped in accompanied by another man in a white lab coat, not his parents.

Jisung cried again more loudly as the suited man tried to grab him, quickly running into a far corner of the room to avoid his touch. “Where are Mommy and Daddy?” he managed to say over his tears.

The man in the white lab coat knelt down so that he was level with the frightened little boy, “You will be able to see them after a few days if you come with us for right now. You are very special, Jisung and we want to see just how special you are.”

It took about fifteen more minutes of coddling before Jisung went with them willingly, keeping close to the nicer doctor man and keeping as far away as possible to the scowling one. He was taken to a facility where dozens of other doctors made him use his gift under different circumstances and environments for a week, a lot longer than ‘a few days’. By the end of it, Jisung had been isolated, yelled at, and even hit a few times for not cooperating. It was a nightmare, and he just wanted it to end .

Fortunately, when the week ended, he was led to the lobby of the facility by Dr. Sun, the doctor from his school who was one of the few doctors that had never been mean to Jisung, and there he saw his parents. They both got up so quickly and ran towards their little boy scooping him up in the biggest hug he had ever received, soothing him with loving words, all three of them crying. He had missed them so much and was just thankful that he was back with them.

The scowling man, also the one from the day at Jisung’s school, appeared and cleared his throat to get all of their attention. They looked toward him and Jisung noticed that Dr. Sun was nowhere in sight anymore.

“Your son is a Rank 3 Gifted. He will no longer be allowed to use his gifts in any way. He will be given three grace incidents until he is ten years old since we know that children are sometimes unpredictable, but anymore than three and he will be tried by the law.”

“He is only six,” Jisung’s mother said in disbelief.

“Well then, I suggest you discipline him accordingly,” the man said curtly. “He will be reexamined at age ten and then again when he becomes an adult. That way we will be able to tell if his gift progresses to a high Rank as he ages. There, is also the matter of your fine for failing to report your son’s abilities, the fees for his examination, and his wristband.”

The man extended a bulky metal contraption from behind his back where his hands had been claspe together this entire time. Jisung’s mother took it, giving the man a hateful glare, and Jisung’s father followed the man away into an office to take care of the adult matters .

“Jisung, honey. You have been so brave going through all this even though I was hoping you would never have to,” tears threatened to overcome her as she continued. “You’re going to have to wear this now, and you’re not going to be able to take it off.” She then reached out to wrap the band around her son’s wrist, regretting every movement she made. Jisung let her since he trusted his mother, and as soon as they heard the band click indicating that it had locked around his small wrist, she pulled him in for another tight hug.

 

*********

 

Over time, Jisung got used to how differently people treated him ever since he started wearing his band, the only people who didn’t change were his parents. They still treated him like a normal boy.

He had been good about not using his gift, scarred by what happened after he had used it on the playground that day, and his everyday life wasn’t overly bad until he got to secondary school. That was when the bullies started to be a trouble.

After one too many times of Jisung coming home with bruises on his body, and his parents complaints falling on deaf ears with the school administration, Jisung’s dad had finally had enough. He looked into countries where Gifted discrimination wasn’t as terrible as it was in Korea, and eventually decided on moving to Malaysia after he was able to find work there.

Jisung’s father started his new job, Jisung’s mother was quick to make friends with the other stay-at-home moms, and Jisung started school at a place where, for the first time, he made friends. For the next four years, their lives were great, and they were able to spend it as the happy family Jisung vaguely remembered they were before his gifts were discovered.

He was happy. He was hopeful. And he was free. But nothing good lasts forever.

And, everything changed when Jisung’s grandfather passed.

Jisung’s mother had cut off ties with her father shortly before they left Korea since he was not supportive of their move for the sake of an abomination . He was a widower and older,  more conservative and wary of Gifteds and their abilities. Jisung was never really close to him, so he hadn’t cared much about his opinion because he learned a long time ago that as long as he had a few people in his life that loved and understood him, he could brave any baseless hate people threw his way.

Regardless, when he did kick the bucket, Jisung’s mother had to return to Seoul in order to make the funeral arrangements since she had been his only remaining living relative. Jisung’s father decided to take the trip with her for support which left Jisung wanting to go as well. They had been nervous about taking him back to Seoul, but he had promised them that he would stay in their hotel the entire time, so that he wouldn’t draw attention to himself. They would most likely have to be gone at least a week, and Jisung never wanted to spend that long away from them again. Ever.

After arriving in Seoul, Jisung kept to his word and stayed inside most of the time, only going out when both his parents were with him to go out to eat a few times. They hadn’t run into an abundance of trouble the entire first four days they were there.

On the fifth day, however, Jisung had been back in the hotel, playing video games as usual to pass the time, when he got a call from his mom. He answered the phone, “Mom?” he said as a hello. No response. “Hello? Anyone there? What did you call me about?” That was when Jisung heard the shouting. And a crack of thunder.

“Everyone down with your hands behind your head and go behind the counter,” was all Jisung heard. His heart skipped a beat. “You there, what’s in your hand?”

The next thing he made out was his mother’s scream, her saying how much she loves him, and the line being cut. Jisung didn’t think, he just ran. He ran the fastest he had run in nine years, just hoping to make it in time to where his parents were. They had been at a legal office, completing the last bit of paperwork they needed to get done, and Jisung only had a vague idea of where it was. Once he got closer to the side of the city he knew they were on, he heard police sirens and decided that was the best place to look first.

When he reached the building he paid no attention to the entire police force that had surrounded the building and just ran straight into it, stopping dead when his eyes assessed the situation inside. The entire ceiling of the main hall was entirely covered by a thick unnatural storm cloud, flashes of light appearing across it and a man was standing in the middle of the room, grabbing onto his hysterically crying mother. He wasn’t sure why she was crying at first, but as he looked behind her he saw his dad’s lifeless body on the ground, the clothes over his heart fried to a black crisp. Jisung couldn’t move. His eyes were frozen on the sight, his heart barely dared to beat.

The, the man grabbing his mother turned to him, having heard his wristband beeping. That damn band. It had been beeping ever since he used his gift, letting the wearer know that his gift activity was being reported to the IPBA’s super secure Gifted tracking server, but Jisung was only just now noticing it. It was what gave him away.

“Jisung, no! Run away! You shouldn’t have come!” his mom shouted at him, fear for her baby in her eyes. Jisung was only half processing what she was saying. He was still in shock about the death of his father.

“Oh, this was the son you were calling before? You didn’t say he was Gifted,” he said in a teasing way, eyeing the band. Jisung didn’t like the way his words sounded so sweet when we was obviously so cruel. “Hiya, lad. That wristband is annoying don’t you think?” Then a bolt of lightning struck down from the clouds, hitting Jisung’s band, causing it to stop beeping and fall to the ground. Jisung jumped in fear as thunder clapped and used his other hand to nervously rub over where the wristband use to be.

“It’s a shame you had to be tagged like an animal your whole life, living among the Normies ,” his sweet tone changing to hate only on that word. “You should live with your own kind, they will never be able to fully appreciate you. I could show you how to be a Gifted that lives their life free on the streets if you want. Like an apprentice. And then you can help me with money profiting gambles such as his one. First lesson being, the government really pays a lot of money whenever you hold a few of their own hostage for a while.”

“I-I’m nothing like you,” was all Jisung managed to say.

“Jisung, baby! Just run away, leave us,” his mom shouted again.

“Shut up, Normie bitch,” he said as he hit his mother. Jisung was about to lung forward to stop him, but lightning flashed at his feet.

“Eh, eh, eh. Not so fast. Move from that spot and she will end up like dear old dad. He tried to play hero, too. Got all upset about me laying a hand on your mommy .”

“Stop this please? What do you want?!” Jisung yelled in a distressed panic. Upset at himself for not taking the chance to save his mother before the man was on his guard.

“I don’t see why you care. They suppressed you all your life.”

“You don’t know anything about me,” Jisung said with venom, knowing that was never what his parents wanted to do.

“Sure I do. Normies will always suppress Gifted because they are scared that Gifted’s are more powerful . They want to stomp out that power before it has a chance to overpower them, but at the end of the day there is nothing they can do to stop it because power is power . The strong overcome the weak, and we are just simply stronger because of our gifts, so should they be allowed to restrain the power I have? I’ll take all the power and money I can get and then some. You would have realized this already, too, if you weren’t suppressed your whole life without you even knowing about it, but I’ll prove it to you.”

After those words, everything happened in a blur. He saw the start of a lightning bolt start to make its way towards his mother, he got his feet ready to run and grab her, but he wasn’t fast enough.

By the time he reached her, she had already started to fall and Jisung only managed to catch her before she hit the ground. He held her and cried over her, vaguely hearing the man say, “You’ll understand when you don’t have any Normies in your life to hold you back.” Then he disappeared into the building, supposedly giving up on this haul of cash.

“Momma,” he managed to say through his tears.

She looked up at him, her eyes solely fading, but she managed to smile and bring her weak hand up to his cheek. “Jisung, you are special and don’t ever let the world make you think otherwise. I love you.”

And then her hand dropped back to her side, her eyes closing slowly.

“No, no! Momma! No,” he pulled her even closer to him and continued to repeat the words of denial. He didn’t even notice when the rest of the people that had been held hostage rushed out of the building, he only came to his senses when someone came to rest a hand on his shoulder. He looked up and saw a man in a tactical uniform with the letters IPBA which almost made him flinch, but he stopped when he realized the smile the man was giving him.

He had forgotten that he wasn’t wearing his band anymore. For all they knew he was just an ordinary boy who had lost both his parents at the hands of rogue Gifted.

But he wasn’t ordinary. He was special . Just as his mom had said, and he needed to survive for her sake. He knew once the officers talked to the other hostages they would know what he was, so he gave his mom the tightest hug he’d ever given her, moved over to his dad and did the same, and then, before anyone had a chance to realize what was going on, he ran away.

Tears of mourning and regret still running down his cheeks.

Chapter Text

“After that I had to survive the streets on my own. I had some cash, but because I didn’t have my band, I couldn’t go to any of the convenience stores. It got to the point that I was nearly dying of thirst when I came across someone trying to mug a girl, and they had a knife.

“I didn’t even think before I stepped in to stop him. After that, I was in a clear enough state of mind to know that I messed up using my gift in front of people. Thankfully, though, rather than being scared of me, the woman thanked me by buying me food and water,” Jisung informed Minho, continuing his story.

“I became a sort of vigilante soon after, helping wherever I could. Most of the other poor and homeless on the streets were just glad someone was helping them when the rest of the city had forsaken them, so to thank me, they helped me in all the little ways they could. At this point, the IPBA was putting much effort and resources into capturing me in order to prevent me from ‘giving other Gifteds ideas about playing hero ’, but I was too fast for them. They couldn’t ever find where I was hiding because I would run all over the city, creating false trails, before I ever went back to my little temporary home inside an abandoned shop,” Jisung paused his story and let out a half laugh.

“That’s why I sure as hell was surprised when I returned one day to find Chan just casually sitting in my arm chair that was falling apart. Still not quite sure how he managed to find me when an entire agency of people couldn’t, but after he saw the IPBA giving me so much attention and he had looked into my story, he really wanted me at the academy. Over the years, I’ve learned not to question things like this with Chan. He is just a genius, gifts aside. When Chan hyung really wants something, he is a whole other person. He always finds a way.”

“I’ve only known you all two days and I can already tell just how good a leader he is,” Minho said, speaking for the first time since his story began now that Jisung had finished.

“Yeah, a great leader and a great friend. He really helped me refocus all my pent up emotions when I came to the academy.”

“I still can’t entirely believe that a place like the academy exists. Why does JYP care enough about Gifteds to make us a safe haven? Normies doing anything for Gifteds without it being in their own interest just doesn’t add up to me.”

“You really don’t like Normies do you?”

“Do I have to? No Normie ever showed me kindness as I was growing up except two people, but they just turned on me, too, in the end,” Minho replied to Jisung’s question with a bitterness to his words.

“Well, I think Normies aren’t all bad. My parents were Normies, and they loved me regardless. And for JYP, I don’t know the full story since only a few at the academy do, but Chan once said something about him falling in love with a Gifted girl. Something happened to her, I’m not sure exactly what, but after that he swore to himself that he would pave a path to give Gifteds the proper chance to make their lives worth something, in an environment where we were free to use our gifts. Free to be special. Just like my mother had wanted.”

As Jisung spoke about his mother’s final words again, he seemed to become a bit emotional, so Minho placed a hand over his knee and squeezed it to reassure the younger.

“Isn’t JYP like old, though…?” Minho questioned eventually after processing the story. The first Gifteds started being born in 1992 which he was sure was long after JYP had been born.

“Yeah… I choose not to think about that too much,” Jisung said in response. They both nervously laughed together for a moment. “So… what about you? What was keeping you up? Tell me your story, Lee Minho.”

“There isn’t much to tell, to be honest.”

“What are you talking about? There is obviously a story behind all of your Normie opinions . You literally just mentioned something about two Normies betraying you. Not to mention what was keeping you up when we first started this conversation. I showed you mine, so you show me yours. Spill the tea,” ranted Jisung as he poked Minho’s arm whilst the older laughed.

“Fine, fine. You win. However, I feel like my childhood is so contradictory to yours that I almost feel awkward to share it now.”

“Why?” Jisung began to ask before possibilities rolled through his head. “Oh no, were your parents abusive or something because you were Gifted? Changbin and Felix’s parents were like that.”

“No, they weren’t abusive, they didn’t even have the guts to live with an abomination like me. I was also older when I had my examination done because I didn’t gain my gifts until I was five years old, so I remember it decently well, too,” Minho began to explain in a monotone voice. “ It was just as awful for me as it was for you except at the end of it, my parents never bothered to pick me up. They just disappeared into thin air, running away from their problem .”

“That’s terrible. Did no one bother to track them down?”

“They did. The IPBA agents at the examination center weren’t too surprised when they didn’t show up since apparently it happens enough to be considered ‘normal’, but they always track the parents down. It usually just leads to abusive upbringings, but I guess that isn’t the IPBA’s problem. The thing is, though, they could never find my parents. Guess they were good at running.”

“So what happened to you?”

“Ended up in the foster system, jumped from home to home, no one ever wanting to deal with me long enough to find a true home. The other Normie kids in the homes would always bully and beat me up too, so I eventually taught myself how to defend myself, hence the amazing martial art skills,” Minho’s tone briefly changed to a sarcastic bragging as he hyped his fighting abilities and wiggled his eyebrows in a comedic way. This caused Jisung to smile despite the severity of what Minho was actually saying. “Whenever I eventually fought back and injured another kid too bad, they would kick me out and send me to the next one.”

“Wow. I didn’t realize,” Jisung began to say, slightly regretting trying to nitpick his hatred of Normies.

“It’s okay. You didn’t know.”

From Minho’s story it seemed like he had never been happy in his life, but Jisung had previously thought he had the face of someone who was happy once, but then lost it all. Just like himself. He had always thought he was good at reading people, so he checked by asking, “Were you ever happy?”

Minho sighed, regretting reliving this part of his story the most. “I guess you could say I was. When I had just turned fourteen, I was placed with a foster family that was only looking to take care of one foster kid and were okay with that child being Gifted. They were good to me, nice to me even. They would take me out to do things on their own money, would stand up for me when I got in trouble at school, would hug me and touch me like I wasn’t some unnatural monster. They treated me like their own son.”

“So you did find loving parents.”

“I thought I had. That’s why I was so happy when they said they wanted to adopt me a year later. I finally had a home,” Minho paused, not quite sure how much of the next part he was willing to share. Should he reveal that he was missing five years of his memory? Could he mention Cerberus? Could he tell them that someone wanted him dead? “That’s why I was crushed when I found out they actually weren’t nice to me because they actually liked me. They just adopted me for the money they could make by selling a Gifted to human traffickers. The next five years were just shitty until BTS managed to save me from it all.” He half lied.

“You were trafficked?” Jisung said utterly surprised. He hadn’t expected that from the boy. “That is fucked up. And believe me, I would know. Me, Chan, and Changbin helped save Woojin from traffickers back when we were allowed to only do intel missions as our mini team, 3racha. We were the ones who figured out where the ring’s operations were so that Twice was able to free everyone.” Jisung shivered at the ghastly memory he had of people treating other people like show dogs. He didn’t even want to imagine how they had treated Minho, knowing that his gift of healing would’ve been in high demand. “When they freed Woojin, he had lost all of his senses since he was forced to remain in animal forms for so long. He wouldn’t return to his human form, and acted like a wild animal, like he had forgotten how to be human. Twice, which is another team from the academy by the way, sedated him and took him back to the academy so that we could help him. Chan was the only one that managed to go near Woojin, though, since Chan hyung could talk to him. It took a while, but he eventually got Woojin to return to human form and from there he helped Woojin to regain his humanity. Like I said before, when Chan wants something, he gets it.”

“Wow, I never would have guessed that Woojin went through something like that. He seems really put together to me, especially when it comes to looking after you guys.”

“Ha, yeah. Woojin hyung is like our dad. I guess having younger brothers to look after him helped him a lot, plus ever since him and Chan got together, Woojin has been the happiest, most confident person ever.”

“Wait, they’re a couple?” Minho asked. He wasn’t totally surprised, he just wasn’t expecting it to actually be true.

“Well, technically neither of them will admit it, but the rest of us aren’t blind,” Jisung side whispered to Minho. “They are totally dating.”

“Huh, that’s nice that they found each other. Their gifts even kind of compliment each other. Woojin can turn into animals and Chan can speak with animals. Fitting.”

They both became quiet. Everything was silent except for the sound of the semi-truck moving and a few snores coming from various people spread around the trailer. Now that they had said everything aloud, the emotional rollercoaster began to cause sleep take over both Minho and Jisung’s minds. Jisung slowly let his body relax, his head finding its way to resting on Minho’s shoulder. When had they become this comfortable together?

Another minute passed, and Minho was about to nod off just leaning against the wall when Jisung briefly spoke again, “I know we just met, but it feels like we’ve known each other forever. Even though most things in our lives up to this point have actually sucked, at least it brought all nine of us together. I like our team as nine.”

Minho didn’t verbally respond because he was frankly too sleepy to, but he heard and took everything Jisung had said to heart. ‘ All nine of us ’. After a brief, unseen smile at the younger’s words, Minho leaned his head on top of Jisung’s head in acknowledgement.

I’m an us now,’ Minho thought to himself. He liked the sound of that.

Chapter Text

Chan had just driven to the small town that was closest to the academy, a place where all the young students occasionally went for shopping and to hang out. He was now tuning onto a narrow, paved road that snaked its way along the edge of a vast forest that was located next to the town. After driving another ten miles, there was a slight opening in the trees that was just wide enough to accommodate for a vehicle, but also overgrown enough with nature that anyone driving on the main road wouldn’t take notice of it as they passed.

Driving through the forest that led to the academy was always a beautiful thing to Chan. The dirt road starts off small and cramped, but it eventually spreads out into a vast clearing that is still sheltered by the trees above. The moonlight shine through the leaves above to form numerous, faint rays of light beaming down. It is like talking a trip down a magical tunnel of nature until you reached the light at the end of the road which lead to their safe haven.

Chan pulled up to the garages and cut the engine to the semi-truck. He turned to his left and saw that Woojin was fast asleep against the side of the truck. Seeing Woojin sleeping so peacefully with his angelic, beautifully distinct face caused Chan to smile and stare just a bit longer than he should. It wasn’t until Woojin began to move his body in his sleep and mumble anxious words that Chan snapped out of his daze. He was having another nightmare.

Slowly, the blonde haired boy leaned closer to the sleeping one and gently nudged his shoulder. “Woojinnie,” he said with a soft voice. At the sound, Woojin immediately shot up and his eyes began to dilate, signalling that he was about to shift, but Chan was quick to grab Woojin’s shoulders and forced them face-to-face.

“It’s okay Woojin, it’s me Channie,” he said with a reassuring smile as he pulled Woojin closer, knowing that he liked Chan’s familiar scent. “You’re at the academy since we made it back after the mission. Everything is okay.” Once he saw the older’s eyes return to normal. Chan pulled Woojin in for a hug rubbing his back as the boy in his arms panted to catch his breath.

Woojin buried his face into the younger’s neck and took in his comforting smell before letting out a defeated laugh, “I guess all that shifting and fighting really triggered some old memories. This is embarrassing… I haven’t had an attack like this in months.”

“Don’t be embarrassed, Woojin. You don’t need to be perfect all the time, you know?”

“Ha. Speak for yourself. You’re just as guilty as I am for putting on an overly confident front around the others, so don’t go lecturing to me about this. You know just as well as I do that if they saw the two of us break down then everything would fall to pieces.”

Chan separated their hug and brought his forehead to rest against the other’s. His curly long hair was slightly covering his eyes and he had his adorable, lippy smile across his face. He looks adorable , Woojin thought to himself before Chan spoke again. “Well I guess it is a good thing that we can open up and get emo with each other at least.”

Woojin laughed again before moving to give Chan a small, but soft kiss. As quickly as it had began, though, Woojin backed off, opened the door of the truck, and hopped out. “Shall we get everyone else up now?” he said with a smile that was a little too mischievous for Chan’s liking.

Chan followed suit after pouting in the driver's seat a second longer. Then he came around the back and opened the trailer of the truck, revealing a cluster of teenagers all asleep, most sleeping on top of one or two of their friends. Chan and Woojin were careful not to scare anyone else as they began to wake most of the Gifteds. Yeonjun and Felix were still out cold, but Soobin carried Yeonjun easy enough and Changbin carried Felix since he was a lot stronger than one would think.

While all this was happening, one of the garage doors opened, and Jaebum and Jinyoung came out to check on the outcome of the mission. They both let out relieved breaths as they saw all nine members of Chan’s team, Jimin, and all the Gifteds that they were supposed to break out. Jaebum was also quick to notice that they had two extra boys with them, but he was certain that Chan knew what he was doing.

“I see you made it back all in one piece,” Jaebum said as he came up behind Chan, causing the younger to turn around with a grin on his face.

“I mean, what can I say? I got a great team,” he said with a slight shrug of his shoulders.

“So did you run into any complications?” Jinyoung asked after shaking his head at how confident Chan was being.

“There were a few here and there… but we handled it and got out alright in the end.”

“Speak for yourself Chan. You were driving like a mad man out of the city. I thought I was gonna kill myself just by keeping up with you,” Jimin butts into the conversation.

“Well thank you for helping out, Jimin. We couldn’t have done it without you.”

“Oh, you better believe it,” Jimin says with her usual savage tone. “I am going to set everyone we broke out in the 3rd floor left wing since it has the only empty rooms. I am sure they all need a lot of rest and we can wait until the morning to do all the debriefing with JYP.”

“Thank you Jimin,” said Jaebum. After that Jimin asked for Ryujin, Yuna, Beomgyu, Taehyun, Huengingkai, and Soobin, who was still carrying Yeonjun, to follow her inside, leaving Chan and his eight team mates outside with Jinyoung and Jaebum.

“Have you thought about your team name that you’ve completed your first mission?” Jinyoung asks suddenly.

“I have a few ideas,” Chan responded open endedly.

“Lucky that you became an official team just a month before the academy tournament,” Jaebum said just before giving Chan a pat on the back. “I guess I will leave you to your first leader debrief. Good job Channie, we are all happy you were able to make your own team after all these years.” After that, the two older hyungs left.

Chan turned back to look over the faces of all the members of his team. All of them seemed tired, but there was fire in their eyes. They had successfully accomplished what each of them had been dreaming about: being able to go out into the world and make a difference for other Gifteds like themselves.

“Is Felix alright?” Chan finally asked Changbin when he finally returned to the present.

“Yeah, he probably won’t wake up until morning though. I’ve never seen him jump so much with so many people in such a short amount of time. He hasn’t been free to use his gift for as long as the rest of us, so he is still developing it. He pushed his gift too far, too soon,” Changbin responded as he looked down and shook his head at the boy in his arms.

“Let’s head to the lounge. There are still a few things I want to get straight about what happened tonight before I report it all to JYP,” Minho stiffened at those words knowing that they were going to ask about who Jaehwa is and why he and Minho were fighting. Only two people noticed. “I am not necessarily planning on telling JYP everything, but for the sake of my personal curiosity, I want to get everything straight.”

After that, all nine of them headed inside to the lounge and collapsed onto the various, comfortable furniture within.

“Alright,” Chan said to get everyone’s attention. “There are about three things that happened tonight that I have no explanation for, number one being who the hell was hacking the server before we were? Number two being who was it you were fighting, Minho, and how did you end up out there in the first place? And number three being what set the alarm signal off?” Chan had a strong suspicion that the first two questions were linked together due to the fact that it was the cameras between Minho’s cell and the recreation yard that were specifically targeted by the other mystery hacker.

“Yeah, Minho, where the hell were you? When we opened your cell and you weren’t in there I just about had a heart attack because I thought it was my fault or something,” Hyunjin said, finally getting a chance to confront the older about the issue. “We were partners.”

“I know, Hyunjin. I am sorry to scare you like that. I should’ve made a noise to signal you or something, but Jaehwa just showed up and I had to go along with him so he wouldn’t interfere with the operation,” Minho explained.

“Who is Jaehwa?” Seungmin asked, confused.

“Only the bastard whose ass I beat,” Jisung said bitterly, remembering his impression of the Gifted. “He was a Gifted, too, with some sort of electricity gift,” he continued before turning to Minho. “Why were you and him fighting, by the way? I guess I was too distracted to ask.”

“Jaehwa used to run with BTS like I did before coming here. He apparently is the one who sold out BTS’s location to the IPBA and was a spy all along. I guess he still had a grudge against me or something and wanted to fight it out.”

“If he was a Gifted, why would he be working for the fucking IPBA,” Changbin stated, disconcerted by the idea of it.

Jisung scoffed, “He said something about wanting more power, whatever the hell that means.”

“Maybe he worked for the IPBA in exchange for amnesty?” Jeongin added insight into the conversation.

“That’s half of it,” Minho finally said once he built the courage to say something. He didn’t want to stay silent the entire time and seem suspicious. The team had put their trust in him, so he figured that he could at the very least tell them what he had learned that night. “The IPBA is granting him amnesty, but they also gave him a second gift.”

“I’m sorry, what?” Hyunjin and Jisung said at the same time.

“That energy manipulation gift wasn’t the gift I thought he had while I knew him. I had only thought his gift was enhanced strength, and nothing more than that. The only reason I lost my fight against him was because I was thrown off guard when he suddenly blasted me with a gift I wasn’t expecting. It was during the fight that he told me that the IPBA are experimenting on how to give gifts to people.”

“Why the hell would they want to do that?” questioned Seungmin who was baffled at the idea.

“Their goal is to be able to give Normies gifts, but they haven’t been successful in a Normie surviving the process. Apparently it only works at giving Gifteds second gifts for now,” Minho continued to explain.

“You have got to be kidding me. The IPBA’s entire mission is to make sure that Gifteds never use their gifts and now they are going around, planning to give gifts to just anyone. That is beyond hypocritical,” Changbin muttered out angrily.

“Even if this Jaehwa guy was given a second gift by the IPBA and was working for them as a result, it still doesn’t explain why someone needed to hack the prison security system to cover his tracks. If it was the IPBA backing him, he didn’t need to be secret, the IBPA could just use their jurisdiction over Gifted prisons to get him in,” Chan began muttering to himself, thinking aloud.

“Unless!” The blonde suddenly shouted. “He was actually working for someone else who is just associated to the IPBA, or maybe even a sub-organization of the IPBA. There are rumors about such organizations all over the dark web.”

As much as Minho didn’t want to be having this entire conversation, he was super impressed with the fact that Chan had just come up with exactly what happened, entirely on his own. Damn, Jisung wasn’t joking when he said Chan was a genius .  

“Assuming that’s all true, that kind of answers your first two questions, but what about the third? What caused the alarms to go off?” Changbin asked, going back to the beginning of the conversation. He remembered that particular moment specifically because Felix had freaked out for about the third time at that point.

“I think that might have been our fault,” Woojin says while motioning to Seungmin and Hyunjin as well.

“It was?” Hyunjin asked, genuinely confused.

“Oh, the guard that we left unconscious in the hall? Yeah… the alarms were bound to go off once we made it to the solitary confinement area anyways, so I don’t really see why them going off was a big deal,” Seungmin nonchalantly said. “Whether they got a head start or not we were still going to beat them.”

He said the last part with an overly innocent smile and puppy dog eyes that caused Hyunjin to giggle and Jeongin to roll his eyes. Seungmin really had a personality opposite to his appearance.

“Fair enough,” Chan said before glancing at Minho one last time. He knew that the boy was still hiding some information from them since he had noticed him tense outside and look down nervously during their entire discussion. But he also didn’t sense any malice from the boy, just fear, so he decided not to press too much. No one is one hundred percent trusting when they first come to the academy, and Chan knew that all too well. Growing up in a world that constantly tears you down teaches one to be wary. All he needed was to give Minho time and he would open up. He could tell he had already started to open up to a certain individual that was sitting just a bit closer to Minho than necessary.

“Alright,” the leader said as he clapped his hands together. “That just leaves one last thing to discuss.” Everyone’s ears, minus the still sleeping Yongbokie and the clueless Minho, perked their ears up knowing what was coming next.

“The team name?!” Jeongin said with cute anticipation.

“What do you all think about the name Stray Kids?”

Chapter Text

Minho blinked his eyes against the sunlight that was shining in through the bedroom window. At first he was confused at the unfamiliar surroundings he was in. He sat up and rubbed his eyes as he looked around the room until he saw a familiar, squirrel like boy. It was upon seeing Jisung that he was reminded of the academy.

The night prior suddenly came back to him as he recalled the debriefing and Chan announcing and explaining his reasoning behind their team name, Stray Kids. The entire team had loved the idea once Chan had translated the name from English to Korean. The words ‘Stray’ fit them because they were all a bunch of misfits who didn’t really have a home before finding the academy and each other.

The academy . It was going to be Minho’s first day acting as an actual student at the academy, and he still had little to no idea what that entailed. It had been five years since the last time Minho even remembered going to school and all of the memories he did have of the place were not the best. On the other hand, this academy was meant for Gifteds and Gifteds alone, so at least he didn't have to worry about Normie bullies this time around. He only had to worry about the school part of it.

Minho was careful to be quiet as he got up out of bed because he knew that he was a bit of an early riser compared to most, and he was sure Jisung would want to sleep a bit longer, but as he made his way over to the bathroom to wash his face, he suddenly heard a somewhat familiar scream that surprised him so much that he fell over. It was slightly different from the screams he had heard the previous night at the prison since it didn’t make his brain hurt and the ground wasn’t shaking, yet it still was loud enough and random enough to scare the living daylights of him.

Once Minho had finally gathered his bearings, he heard a groan followed by a thump. He turned in the direction the sounds had come from to see Jisung perfectly unbothered on the floor. ‘ This kid, ’ he thought to himself while shaking his head. After Jisung didn’t move after his fall to the floor, Minho went over to check on Jisung, making sure he hadn’t hurt himself.

The older paused for a moment, taking in the sight of the peacefully sleeping boy before he leaned down and nudged his shoulder to get him to wake up, only for Jisung to respond, “give me five more damn minutes, Seungmin,” then turn over, facing away from Minho.

“Yah! Wake up. It’s Minho, not Seungmin, you idiot,” the older said loudly as he leaned closer to Jisung’s ear in order to get his attention. At the mention of Minho’s name, Jisung turned back to face said boy and blinked his eyes open at the same time to find the older’s face staring down at him from only few inches away, a slightly curious look to his eye. As a result, in a matter of seconds, he was wide awake, up and off the floor, and standing a good few feet away from a baffled Minho.

“Jesus Christ, Minho! Don’t have your face so close to mine when I am just waking up! You just about gave me a freaking heart attack,” Jisung said as he was catching his breath.

Minho was speechless for a moment as he fixed his hair that flew out of place after Jisung had used his gift to get away from him in a hurry. “Well, serves you right after somebody forgot to warn me last night about whatever the heck that scream was just now,” Minho finally said in his defense. “Plus I don’t know why you’re so worked up about me just taking the time to wake you, but it’s kinda cute that you use your gift when you’re flustered.” Minho said that last part with an almost too confident grin.

“Wha… I have no idea what you’re talking about. I was surprised, not flustered.”

“Mhm, if you say so.”

I guess he is beginning to feel more comfortable here if he is beginning to get cocky, ’ Jisung thought to himself as his face was red from Minho’s words.

Suddenly the door to their bathroom flew open and there was Felix who was looking into the room with curious eyes. Felix and Changbin’s room was connected to theirs by the shared bathroom, and Felix was checking to make sure they both weren’t still asleep after he didn’t see either of them washing up.

“Good, you’re both awake,” he stopped for a moment feeling the tension in the room. “Uh… was just checking on you guys because I know that Jisung likes to sleep in even after Jeongin wakes everyone up. Seungmin is usually the one that makes sure he gets out of bed, so since you aren’t sharing with him anymore, I was just double checking, but everything seems fine.”

“Pfft. A lot of good Seungmin did me. Half of the time he wouldn’t even bother.”

“So that was Jeongin just now? Thought as much, but it still scared the shit out of me. Does he do that every morning?” Minho questioned.

“Yup. Ever since he figured out how to control his gift enough to not have it destroy everything when he uses it. It actually tends to wake up the entire academy, but they have classes to get to, as well, so they are thankful for it. He is like our human school bell,” Felix explained while laughing at his comparison before disappearing back into the bathroom.

It took a bit of time for the four of them to figure out a decent routine without them bumping into each other. Jisung was the fastest to get ready, Changbin was the slowest, but when all four were set for the day, they went downstairs to the dinning hall where they met up with Woojin, Hyunjin, Seungmin, and Jeongin who were already getting food from a buffet table.

“Where’s Chan?” Minho asked, curious about the leader’s whereabouts.

“He had to give JYP the report on the outcome of the mission and help debrief all the new Gifteds at the academy,” Woojin explained as he grabbed another plate and gave it to Minho for him to fill.

“What’s going to happen to all of them now? I know I guaranteed Ryujin and Yuna a spot at the academy, but I didn’t know that Beomgyu and Taehyun would need my help, as well, until last night. Can they stay here as well?”

“That’s entirely up to them. We don’t restrict Gifteds from coming or going once they are aware of it here,” Woojin reassured. “We do have certain security measures in place, though, if they decide to leave.”

“Security measures? Like what?”

“Dowoon hyung’s gift,” Jisung suddenly interrupted and pointed to a table where there were five older boys eating together across the dining hall. “He’s actually over there eating with his team, Day6. He is the one closest to the wall.” Minho followed where Jisung was pointing to see a dark haired boy with somewhat of a baby face, nodding along to a conversation going on among the people he was sitting with. “His gift is, like, super cool. Whatever people promise him, they have to do no matter what. It’s entirely dependent on people making promises to him, and it’s a Rank 1 ability, so he can’t prevent it from taking effect, but it is still very handy. If people who know about the academy decide not to enroll, they have to make a promise to Dowoon hyung that they won’t tell any Normie or Gifted not in dire need about the school.”

Minho nodded in acknowledgment, understanding that the academy seemed to just want to protect all the enrolled students, meaning no harm in that mission. They finished getting their food and pushed two tables together so they could all eat together. It was surprisingly quiet at first as everyone stuffed their faces. It seemed as if the only ways to make Stray Kids quiet was to give them food.

While everyone was eating, Minho took note of the adorable way Jisung stuffed both his cheeks while he was eating like a little chipmunk, but the silence only lasted a couple minutes before everyone was snapped back into a conversation. Felix dropped his chopsticks down on the table and leaned back while groaning in his seat dramatically.

“Ughhh, I really really don’t want to go to academics today,” he said with a defeated voice.

“What? Did you not do your math homework again or something?” Hyunjin questioned, familiar with his friend’s behavior.

“Yes! But it’s not my fault this time. We had the mission, and I got distracted,” the freckled boy said in his defense.

“It should have been done the night before we even found out about the mission, which means it is your fault because you pushed it off for so long,” Seungmin added while laughing at Felix’s predicament.

“Well, I’m sure you’re in better shape than I am,” said Minho with a unhumorous laugh, joining the conversation. “I haven’t been to school at all in a good while so I’ll be lost.”

“How come?” Jeongin innocently questioned. Minho and Jisung exchanged a glance at each other from across the table, Jisung giving Minho a reassuring nod.

“Uh… I wasn’t exactly free to do so,” Minho started to say, but then he looked to Jisung in a panic since this isn’t exactly something you just say casually over breakfast.

“It’s the same reason Woojin hyung was so behind when he first came to the academy,” Jisung helped by explaining it without using the actual words “Gifted trafficking.” He let the implication sit in the air, all of them understanding what he was implying easy enough.

There was a collective “Oh” across the table, and Woojin looked to Minho with an entirely new perspective on the boy. Another small silence followed until Chan showed up at the table with a bright and cheery smile.

“Good morning, Stray Kids!” he said cheerfully until everyone turned his way and he saw their faces. “What did I miss?” He said skeptically.

“I’ll tell you later,” Woojin said as he grabbed Chan’s arm and pulled him into the empty seat next to him, presenting a full plate of food to the blonde.

“Felix procrastinated his homework, again ,” Seungmin teased again, trying to return the conversation to a more lighthearted discussion.

“Mate, stop procrastinating,” Chan scolded Felix in English, and Felix turned red, causing everyone to crack up.

When the laughter died down, Minho took the opportunity to ask Chan the thing that had been in the back of his mind all morning. “What did Ryujin, Yuna, Beomgyu, Taehyun and the others decide to do?”

“Ryujin and Yuna are definitely staying at this point. I don’t know how Yeji found out, but when she heard that she might be able to get the members she needs to complete her team, she was quick to convince them to stay. When I left, they were already negotiating how long they needed to train as the five of them before they can go on their first mission,” Chan said with a smile while shaking his head. “Beomgyu and Taehyun seemed to get really close with Soobin and Huengkai last night while they were waiting for Yeonjun to wake up. He woke up this morning entirely spooked, but calmed down when he saw that Soobin and Huengkai were there. The five of them hadn’t decided what they wanted to do when I said I had to leave to join you guys for our first class.”

After Chan updated them, they finished their meal over more small talk about random, silly things until everyone started to clear out of the dining hall. On the way to their classroom, Chan took the time to explain how the academy worked to Minho since he realized the newbie was probably confused.

“In the mornings, we always have two academic classes, but we are enrolled in four classes. We alternate which two classes we take every other day. As of right now, we still have some younger members in the group. We have to take at least a math class, history class, and general Korean class, so that the younger members can finish up everything that they would have learned in a normal high school. Us older members are given the opportunity to work ahead as long as we are still working on the particular subject matter everyone else is working on. Next year, we will be allowed to take whatever classes we want as long as we do them as a team. And then the year after that, every one of the members can kind of individualize what they want to focus on for a few years, so it’s like a college experience. The few Gifteds here that are old enough to be out of college tend to spend more time on missions or helping out around the academy. This isn’t really a type of school you traditionally graduate from, after all,” Chan stopped and took a breath after his rant.

“Then, after lunch, in the afternoon, we have a tactical class. It can be either Martial Arts, Gift Applications, or Team Building, depending on the day. Team building is only for formed teams or teams in the making, though. Overall, the schedule is rotational, but the schedule also shifts to accommodate for teams when they go on missions since JYP wants to make sure going on missions doesn’t affect our studies. We were supposed to have Math and Chemistry, then Gift Applications on the day you came to the academy, so those are the classes we have today, instead. Tomorrow will be Korean and History with Team Building in the afternoon, then Math and Chem with Martial Arts the day after that.”

“Woojin also whispered to me during breakfast about your situation ,” he paused and rested a reassuring hand on Minho’s shoulder. “If you ever need help, even with the basic topics we cover, feel free to ask anyone in the group. We are your teammates after all, and we help each other out.”

“I can tutor you!” Jisung eagerly volunteered himself, having been slightly eavesdropping on their talk.

“Pfft. I don’t think you would want any help from Jisung when it comes to matters of the brain,” Seungmin interjected.

“Yah, you little -” Jisung said as he chased after Seungmin while the younger laughed and kept hiding behind his team members, using them as shields against the angry squirrel’s wrath. It wasn’t until a middle aged lady with a stern expression on her face opened the door they were lingering outside of and cleared her throat that the two calmed down.

“Are you all going to goof off in the hallway all day or can I start my class now,” she said with a scolding tone. “I swear, you are all young adults at this point. Act like it.” Everyone stopped what they were doing and gave the lady their full attention.

“We’re sorry, Mrs. Yang,” all except Minho said, but caught on and managed to join them as they bowed.

Her face softened at the boys after they had apologized and calmed down. “Jeongin, sweetie, how was your first mission? You didn’t get hurt at all, did you? I still can’t believe your father persuaded me to let you do such things,” she said as she moved towards the youngest and fussed with him.

“I’m fine, Mom. You can leave me alone. You’re embarrassing me,” the redhead said as he swatted his mother’s arms away.

“His mom?” Minho asked in confused disbelief.

Chapter Text

“You must be the new student, Minho,” the older lady said as she turned her attention away from her son and towards Minho instead. “I am Mrs. Yang, Jeongin’s mother.”

“H-hello, ma’am,” Minho stuttered as he bowed to the older to show respect. He had somewhat expected the teachers here to be Normies since the oldest Gifted is only twenty-six, so it is not like there would be many qualified Gifteds to teach. What he certainly wasn’t expecting was for the teacher to be a parent. “Nice t-to meet you.”

“A shy one, aren’t we?” she said before turning around and walking into the classroom.

Chan, who was still standing next to Minho, could see how shocked the younger looked as he looked from their teacher then to Jeongin. “Both of Jeongin’s parents are teachers here at the academy. Mrs. Yang teaches math and then Jeongin’s dad teaches history. They were professors before they met JYP at a secret pro-Gifted rights political meeting about two and a half years ago. I’m guessing they were very active in those types of communities because of Jeongin, and with him being a Rank 4, I’m sure they had it a lot worse than most families with a Gifted child, having more restrictions and all.”

Minho nodded to acknowledge he had heard what the older said, but he was still wrapping his head around the new discovery. “I guess I just didn’t expect for any Gifted’s family to be that normal ,” he finally managed to say.

“Yeah, well, Mr. and Mrs. Yang also sacrificed a lot for Jeongin’s sake. It takes a certain strength to do what they did,” Chan said before he left Minho to take his seat in the classroom.

“Alright everyone, it’s already 8:45, so let’s get class started. It’s been a bit of time since I saw you all last, so let’s start by checking over your homework assignments,” announced Mrs. Yang.

A groan could be heard coming from Felix’s direction as he tossed his backpack onto the floor and sunk into a desk, trying to make himself as small as possible. ‘ What would happen if I just disappeared? I could if I really wanted to. ’ he thought to himself.

As Minho made his way into the room, he got a better look at the details of it. There was a large, older and fancier desk at the back of the room, that was neatly organized with papers and files. Behind the desk on the back wall, there was a large white board, framed by two windows that looked out over the front yard of the mansion. Then, in front of the larger desk were five rows of smaller student desks. Twenty-five student desk in total. As everyone else was filing into the front two rows of the room, Jisung gently grabbed ahold of Minho’s arm.

“The seat next to mine has always been empty, so you can sit here if you’d like,” he said as he dragged Minho to a seat directly behind Chan and to the left of Jisung.

“Oh!” Chan suddenly shouted aloud, turning everyone’s attention to the leader. “I just remembered what I was forgetting. We still need to get Minho his own stuff. He has been borrowing clothes and and whatnot since he got here.” He turned around to talk to Minho directly. “We will go with you to get new stuff after our afternoon class. You need a backpack, too.”

“Does this mean we are going to town?” Felix asked as he perked up a bit out of his seat.

“Yup.”

Chan’s confirmation caused everyone, excluding Minho (again), to get all excited until Mrs. Yang called for everyone’s attention. She proceeded to check everyone’s assignments, stopping to give Felix a lecture on ‘time management’ when he said he didn’t have his completed. Once she was done, she walked over to the whiteboard, asked if anyone had any questions on their assignment, and when Hyunjin asked for her to explain a certain problem, she worked it out for him on the board.

While that was going on, Minho leaned over to Jisung to ask him a question that he now had. “Why is everyone so excited about being able to go to town?”

Jisung, who had been zoned out once Mrs. Yang started talking in numbers, snapped his head to Minho and processed his question. “Everyone likes having an excuse to go to town. We technically are only supposed to go whenever we need to buy something or to help out the people of the village. The village is aware that there is a boarding school by the town, but no one there is sure on where it’s located exactly. We help the village out with various projects, so that they don’t question the school too much or bother us, but also, as a result, the villagers are always really nice to us. It is also fun because you can shop and eat out for a change,” Jisung explained in a whisper to Minho who nodded in understanding. “The older students even sneak out sometimes and go to the bars.”

“Han Jisung,” Mrs. Yang suddenly called out. “I do hope you are explaining something math related to our new student.”

Jisung smiled sheepishly and responded, “Of course, Mrs. Yang. I was just explaining to Minho hyung that in order to find x for the rational function in this case you have to split it up into several individual fractions, reduce, then solve.” His tone was dripping with false confidence, but Mrs. Yang nodded in approval and turned back to the board to finish the problem. The rest of the members, who were very familiar with Jisung’s ability to talk himself out of almost any situation, all shook their heads at their friend’s actions.

Once everyone’s questions were answered, Mrs. Yang proceeded with the lesson for the day. Minho was, as he had expected, very lost the entire time, but Jisung would always lean over to help him understand or work out any problem that the older got stuck on. He actually was very good explaining things in a simple enough way for the older to understand quickly. After an hour and a half passed, the first academic class was over.

There was a fifteen minute break between their two academic classes before their Chemistry teacher showed up to the room where the nine of them just goofed off together. Luckily for Minho, they had just been about to start a new lesson, and their Chemistry teacher, Mr. Park, who insisted that he drop the formalities and just call him Joonhyung, was just a bit overly enthusiastic about having a new ‘young mind to mold.’

By the end of the class period, Minho was completely convinced that their science teacher was a mad man since he was constantly moving about, talking about nonsense loudly, but still managing to function just enough to teach them actually interesting things. The entire class was filled with laughter along with learning. It was the most fun Minho had ever had within a school setting, definitely something you could never find in the public school systems of Korea.

As noon rolled around, their second academic class for the day was over, and Minho was informed that they now had an hour for lunch. Chan, Woojin, Changbin, Jisung, and Felix were debating whether or not they should eat outside on the front lawn or in the dining hall while Minho nodded along to the conversation, but on the other side of the room, Seungmin was currently teasing the youngest while Hyunjin was standing behind them, giggling at the interaction.

Seungmin was, at the time. moving himself closer to Jeongin pretty forcefully with a teasing expression on his face, causing Jeongin to hold his arms out in an attempt to hold his hyung off of him. The ruckus of Seungmin’s odd noises he was making caused Minho to shift his attention in the trio’s direction. Minho could just see the annoyance in the youngest’s face and how he had the look of someone who has had to deal with similar situations a thousand times. Before he knew it, though, Jeongin was forced to back up until he ran into Hyunjin. He hugged Jeongin from behind while Seungmin was still making advances, soon causing the redhead’s expression to change.

“Don’t reject our love, Innie!” Hyunjin exclaimed before moving his face and lips dangerously close to the younger’s ear. Jeongin’s face was slowly changing color to match his hair.

They didn’t show an intention of stopping before Jisung finally shouted at them, “Yah! Do you three mind? It is literally the middle of the day, and we are in a freaking classroom. A space of learning! Leave your PDA for a time I am not forced to witness it.”

Jisung crossed his arms and fake gagged causing everyone in the lunch discussion group to laugh.

Hyunjin just moved his face away from Jeongin’s ear and pulled Seungmin into his hug with his other arm. “You’re just jealous because it reminds you of how single you are,” the tall boy shot back.

Jisung looked just about ready to throw hands when Chan finally clapped his hands together loudly and shouted “Okay” to turn everyone’s eyes to him instead. “Let’s hurry up and get our food before the dining hall crowds up, then head outside to eat,” he said as he rushed people out of the classroom before the situation escalated.

Things had calmed down among the Stray Kids members, but as they exited the hallway into the entrance hall, there were a bunch of students that ran out the front door and scattered around the windows overlooking the front yard. There were also quite a few that ran down the staircase from the upper stories to get a look at whatever was happening.

A younger boy and girl both stopped as they saw Chan and the rest of Stray Kids standing at the edge of the hall looking confused.

“Oh my gosh! It’s Bang Chan,” the boy stopped and got his female friend’s attention, who practically squealed once she saw all nine of the boys standing there. Both of them bowed, and were about to run off in a shy hurry when Changbin called out to them.

“Hey, what is everyone getting so worked up about outside?”

“O-oh,” the girl stuttered out. It looked as if she was talking to some sort of celebrity by the way she was talking to the older boys. “Two of the Day6 members are getting into a fight in the front yard. Everyone could see it from the windows and are now rushing outside to get a better look at the fight.”

“Day6 members are fighting?!” Seungmin suddenly asked.

“Why is the entire school getting so worked up over a fight?” questioned Minho.

“Getting to see Gifteds who are on teams fight each other is on a completely different level. Us regular students only get to see it during the annual tournament, if we spy on teams’ Gifted Application classes, or when little fights like these break out,” the boy added. “Congrats on becoming an official team by the way. Stray Kids is such a cool name, and everyone is talking about the prison break you guys pulled off. It’s all over the Normie news, as well.”

“Thank you,” a few of the members said in response.

“Is it true that there is a Rank 5 at the academy now? I-I’ve never met a Rank 5 before. He’s probably sooooo cool,” added the girl before her friend started to pull her away, obviously wanting to get outside and see the fight before it ended. She seemed reluctant to leave, obviously hoping to carrying on a longer conversation with the nine boys who didn’t really know how to handle this new form of attention they were getting.

As soon as they took off, Seungmin wasn’t too far behind them which caused the rest of the members to hurry and catch up. Once they got to the doorway and people realized who they were, all the students who had been crowding it made way for them. Minho was a little stunned by all the looks of admiration he and his teammates were getting.

“Why is everyone looking at us like we are something important,” Minho whispered to Jisung who was next to him.

“Because we are important. Everyone at the academy wants to one day be a part of a team, so they tend to idolize the ones of us who do become a team,” Jisung explained with a smile. “It's so weird to be on the receiving end of it, though. I have been looking up to all the other formed teams—Got7, Twice, and Day6—since I came here.”

“This isn’t good.” Their conversation was interrupted by Chan’s words as they finally made it outside and were able to see what was going on. That didn’t last long, however, because before Minho knew it, there was a bright light that temporarily blinded his vision.

Chapter Text

"That's not going to work, Brian. You can't blind a tree," he heard a voice say, but it was in English, so Minho only understood a bit.

"It's Young K! Young! K! Not that hard a concept, Jae," another voice retaliated.

Fighting and cheering continued going on around him. Everyone shouting out one of their two names, cheering for the winner. Once Minho could see again, everyone else seemed to be fine. He guessed everyone else had known to not look directly at the one who was currently holding balls of lights in his two hands and throwing the small spheres of focused light at a... walking tree? Behind the tree was a tall male wearing a large framed pair of glasses, and he looked as if he was the one controlling the tree.

"Aissh. I don't know who I should be cheering for," Seungmin worriedly said as he looked between the two fighting before deciding to just cheer for both. "Go Jae hyung! Young K, kick his ass!"

"Uwu, it is so cute when you fanboy, Minnie," Hyunjin said with hearts in his eyes.

"More like embarrassing," Jeongin said."And you and your not so subtle crush on Jinyoung hyung are no better." He added as he pokes Hyunjin in his side.

Woojin, who was focusing on the fight, asked, "Shouldn't we like... try to stop them before they get out of hand?"

"I can freeze them if you want," offered Changbin.

"You know, I am debating that right now," Chan responded. "I'm sure Sungjin hyung will show up soon, though, since the whole school is practically here."

And their leader wasn't wrong. The whole school was there. Minho estimated about a hundred boys and girls scattered around the yard, not including the ones that were probably watching from the windows of the mansion. They were all a range of ages, some even looking to be only old enough for primary school. It was definitely a lot more people than Minho had originally thought attended the academy based off his initial impression of the building.

All of the students were smiling happily and cheering, completely surrounded by different groups of friends. 'Are all these people really Gifteds?' Minho thought to himself. He was having trouble comprehending the reality of hundreds of Gifteds living and laughing together just like any normal kid their ages. It was like he was dreaming.

His attention was pulled from his surroundings, back to the fight, when the Gifted, who was insisting on going by the name Young K, finally got his hands on the base of the moving tree. Shortly after, the tree trunk started to radiate light—sunray like beams bursting from newly forming holes in the trunk—until the entire plant exploded. Cheers erupted from the spectators.

Once the tree was no longer between him and the taller male, Jae, Young K stomped up to the taller boy and poked the front of his chest.

"You are so infuriating," huffed the shorter with a pout on his lips. This just caused Jae to smirk in response.

"What can I say? Young K just doesn't roll off the tongue well, and you're hot when you're angry." 

After saying those words, Jae moved to give Young K a bear hug and the shorter just stood there for a second before hugging him back. The moment was almost heart melting if not for the booing crowd that began to interrupt as a result of the fight not continuing.

"Fight it out till the end," someone shouted.

"We want to see who would win!" another voice hollered.

Meanwhile, all the booing and shouts of disapproval only caused Jae to laugh.

"Maybe we should keep fighting it out to give the people what they asked for?" Jae suggested, only for Young K to roll his eyes obviously. "What do you say, Brian?"

Young K fist was starting to glow again when they both suddenly heard a voice shout out to them from the entrance to the mansion.

"Hey! Jae! Young K!" Everyone turned their heads to the source of the yells. "Would you two act your God damn ages for once in your lives! Especially you, Jae, you're the oldest Gifted here. Please, at least try to set a good example."

The newcomer descended the front steps, the regular students making a path for him so that he could reach the two who had just been about to fight again a moment before.

"Aw great, Sungjin finally shows up," Chan says as his shoulders relax.

"Whose Sungjin?" Minho questioned Jisung who was still to his side.

"Day6's leader."

The rest of the students, who were all grumpy at not getting to see a complete fight, were all heading inside to grab lunch before their afternoon classes, but Minho looked back over to where Sungjin was currently chewing his teammates out for their antics while they weren't really giving it their full attention. He couldn't hear what the three were saying exactly since they weren't yelling anymore, but he somehow managed to make awkward eye contact with Jae, who ended up winking up at him.

Minho laughed slightly at the action, and Jae moved his eyes back to Sungjin when the leader snapped his fingers in the taller's face to get his attention.

"What are you laughing at?" Jisung asked the older, happy to hear the jingle-like sounds again but confused as to what made him laugh.

"Oh, nothing. Do fights like these happen a lot?"

Felix overheard the conversation and answered before Jisung got the chance. "Kind of... They usually don't get too far because the leaders, or class representatives of the non-team students, get in trouble when the Gifteds they're in charge of break anything, so they usually intervene before things get too far. Chan was our class leader even before he started forming a team, and no one wants to get on Chan's bad side." The freckled boy shivered at the thought.

"So is Sungjin going to get in trouble?"
"I doubt it will be too much trouble since he stopped it pretty soon. They will probably just have to replant the tree that Jae animated then Young K destroyed," Chan responded to Minho's question, joining the conversation.

At the word 'animated' something finally seems to click in Minho's brain. Animation. Oldest. Jae.

"Holy shit. Is that tall guy Park Jaehyung?" he suddenly wondered aloud. "As in the first Gifted?"

"The one and only," Seungmin proudly stated.

"What is he doing here? I thought he was American."

Every child in the world who goes to school knows the name Park Jaehyung from history class. In 1995, he was the first child to mutate into a Gifted. Everyone knows the story of the little three-year-old boy who threw a tantrum in a street and the next thing anyone knew, all the cars were suddenly alive and attacking people like rabid dogs. It's a miracle he wasn't killed on the spot by the American police force, but before the situation escalated too much, the little boy passed out due to gift overexertion.

The news spread all over the world like wildfire. The United States government had the child in their custody in the hopes to discover what was happening to him, but the United Nations was demanding that he be turned over to them since he was considered a threat to all the world. Their debates over it didn't last long, in the end, because soon enough, Gifteds with extraordinary abilities started to mutate all over the globe. Over the next few years of studying the Gifted mutation, scientist came to discover that it only occurs in one percent of the yearly population, the mutation is impossible to detect before the gene activates between the ages of two and five, and no child born before September, 1992, ever mutated into a Gifted.

To this day, no one knows what caused Gifteds to begin to be born into this world, but what everyone did know is it all started with Park Jaehyung. That very man was now standing just yards away from Minho, and he had just winked at him?! It was a bit overwhelming for him to say the least.

"Does it matter that he is American? We have Gifteds from all over the world attending the academy. Me and Felix being Australian is just one example. There are also students from America as well as from Japan, China, Thailand, and many other random places around the world."

"I suppose you're right."

After that, they decided to focus on lunch, so Chan split them up into two groups: one to get food for the whole team, and the other to claim their usual picnic spot before the rest of the students made their way back from the dining hall to eat outside as well. Spring was just kicking off and it was a nice day, so most everyone would be outside.

Chan, Woojin, Changbin, and Felix went to go get food, both Australians insisting that their Korean teammates would vastly underestimate the amount of food they all required. From the looks on both the blondes' faces, Minho could tell they were speaking from an experience of being underfed by the misjudgment of someone among the group on an occasion before.

The picnic spot team walked a little way down the path which leads all the way to the hedge maze but came to a stop before they ventured too far from the main mansion. It was Minho's first time seeing the maze this close up since the last time he had seen it from atop the looking spot on the hill with Jisung. The hedges seemed so much taller and imposing when you look straight at them despite the fact that he was still a fair distance away from the maze.

Off to the side of the trail was a particularly large tree with twisty branches. The branches were thickly covered in leaves and leaned over perfectly to create a nicely sized shaded area on the grass.

"Oh! We forgot the blanket," Jisung said before he disappeared in a gust of wind, and reappeared a few moments later with a folded picnic blanket in hand. He shook it out and laid it down in the shade only for Jeongin, Seungmin, and Hyunjin to fall onto it the second it hit the ground.

"This is a nice spot. Do you all come here often?" Minho questioned as he also laid down on the large picnic blanket and stared up into the tree branches.

"Whenever it is nice outside. Otherwise, we just eat in the dining hall or the lounge, whichever is less crowded," Jisung answered.

"I bet we could sit wherever we want to now that we are an official team," Jeongin marveled aloud. "People will probably move for us if we asked them now."

"True, but Chan would never let us use our team fame status for such petty things," added Hyunjin. "Gosh, I still can't believe we actually completed our first mission and are now a team."

"Stray Kids!" Jisung and Jeongin shouted together which resulted in Jisung squalling happily and him squeezing the younger in a tight hug. Minho coughed at the sight and just barely managed to hide the sudden flush of his cheeks.

Minho then smiled at all of them. Something he seemed to be doing a lot lately. He could only guess just how much this all must mean to them. While Minho didn't hold the same value for 'team status' as the rest of his teammates who had spent time at the academy beforehand, he did value the brotherhood that Stray Kids had given him.

"Thank you for letting me be a part of it," he finally said aloud, sounding a tad too sappy. He just couldn't help himself because he honestly can't remember a single day of his life where he had managed to smile and laugh as much as he had so far that day, thanks to all of them. Everyone around him let out giggles in response to Minho's sentimental words. "What? I'm serious."

Seungmin stopped laughing just long enough to respond, "no need to be so emo all the time, Minho."

"We are just as happy as you are that you found your way to the academy just in time to make it onto our mess of a team," Jisung added as he plopped down next to Minho on the blanket.

"Let's hope he doesn't regret it," Jeongin chimed in with a raise of his brow. Everyone was cracking up again.

"What are all you laughing about?" The five of them all turned their heads upward to the sound of Chan's voice and saw the food squad approaching, bags and boxes of food in hand.

"Just Minho being all sentimental towards us all," Jisung answered with a grin and a teasing tone. That didn't last long before Minho pulled the squirrel boy into a headlock and began scolding him.

"Oh, my mistake. I'll be sure to be more soulless when it comes to things in the future," Minho retaliated.

Woojin interrupted the quarrel by placing the food he was carrying in front of the pair. "Who wants food?" he asked as he unpacked it.

"Lix! Be careful, you are carrying too much," Changbin could be heard nagging Felix from the rear of the group, and sure enough, he was carrying too much. He was currently balancing about six boxes, so he couldn't see where he was going. It wasn't long before his foot collided with a rock in the pathway causing him to fall.

Minho felt Jisung's muscles tense as he got ready to run and catch the falling boy, but before he had the chance, Felix and the food, which had just been thrown from his arms, froze in mid-air.

"Ahjussi! I warned him," the shortest member huffed as he set the food he was carrying down and then grabbed the food currently hanging in the air to set that down as well. When everything was secure, Changbin positioned himself to catch Felix and unfroze him. The freckled boy fell gracefully into Changbin's arms as he shouted out in shock.

"A-ah, thank y-you for the save," Felix muttered out as soon as he realized what had just happened. His face was a complete, red mess, so before Changbin had a chance to separate their bodies enough to see the state Felix was in, he poofed and reappeared in front of the food with his back to the dark haired boy. Everyone on the blanket could see his face plain as day and were all struggling not to burst out laughing at the scene that just unfolded in front of them.

The rest of their meal went about peacefully, or as peacefully as a meal with Stray Kids can go. Beginning with the silence of everyone eating, but ending with them goofing around. Before Minho even knew it, lunch was almost over and they were cleaning up and getting ready for their next class. 

Chapter Text

As they made it back to the mansion, there were only a few people left in the dining hall and lounge, most students running off into various directions of the academy in order to get to their class.

Minho followed everyone else to the main staircase, but instead of continuing onto an upper floor, they went around the side. The brown haired boy was extremely confused until he saw a door located underneath the steps.

“Where are we going?” Minho asked only to see everyone glance around at each other in response.

“You’ll seeeee,” Felix said mischievously as Chan opened the door to reveal steps leading downwards.

Minho was a bit unsure what to think of their sudden mysteriousness, but soon enough all eight of them disappeared down the stairwell, Jisung taking up the rear.

“Hurry up, scaredy cat,” the squirrel boy added before running after everyone else. Minho didn’t appreciate being challenged, so in a huff he followed down the stairs as well.

Since the staircase wasn’t that large, it only took Minho a few moments to descend until the stairs opened up into a larger room that had concert floors. At first, it just seems like some sort of basement space, but as Minho left the alcove that the stairs created, he got a better look at the extensiveness of the room. His eyes went wide as they traced up the sides of the walls, which were lined with various training and fighting equipment, to the abnormally high ceilings; not to mention the fact that the room itself seemed to be the size of four gymnasiums.

The new kid was completely thrown for a loop as he looked back between the staircase and the ceiling, the staircase was considerably shorter than the ceiling allowed for. The rest of the Stray Kids members all laughed at Minho’s reaction to the main training center, them understanding the shock that came with seeing it for the first time.

“Welcome to The Basement!” Chan said enthusiastically. “This is where all Gifted App classes are held along with most Team Building lessons and anything else that requires gifts or a large space to operate.”

“But… h-how? The ceiling alone should be going through at least the first two floors of the academy.”

Jisung laughed at the older’s fascination. “Someone used their gift on the room, of course. JB hyung’s gift is to expand and constrict space. He is probably the most powerful Rank 4 at the academy and the only reason we can accommodate for all the students we currently have.”

“Huh?”

“Oh, you haven’t been to the fourth floor before, have you?” Felix asked Minho.

“No, why?”

Chan stepped in to explain, “the entire fourth floor is about three times the size of all the other levels of the academy. Jaebum used his gift to make space for more rooms on that level, so  rather than having to expand the mansion, the mansion expands for us.”

“I was questioning how all the students I saw outside managed to all fit at the academy.” Minho was in awe yet again. Everything about the academy fascinated him.

Their attention was pulled to the matted space just a few meters from them when someone cleared their throat. Minho hadn’t noticed him standing there before because he was distracted on the physics behind The Basement, but now he could see Jae standing at the edge of one of the four large mats in the room.

“Yes! We have Jae hyung teaching our Gifted Apps today!” Seungmin said enthusiastically while Hyunjin moped.

“Bummer. I was hoping it would be Jinyoung hyung. He hasn’t taught our class in a while,” pouted the taller boy.

Minho shifted nervously being faced with the celebrity for the second time. “No Normie teacher this time?”

“Nope, the older hyungs and noonas who have been on a team for at least a year rotate teaching Gifted Apps,” Jisung explained something to Minho for about the tenth time that day. “Normies don’t have gifts, so they wouldn’t be very effective in teaching this particular subject. It requires first hand knowledge of applying one's own gift in order to advice someone on how to effectively.”

While their conversation was going on, all nine of them made their way over to stand in a line in front of Jae. Chan counted to three and everyone bowed, Jisung putting a hand on Minho’s back, signalling for him to bow too. Jae looked to them all with a big smile on his face.

“Congrats on becoming a team finally!” he said to all of them before he focused in on Minho. “And with a new member, no less. Care to introduce yourself and your gift?”

Minho stepped forward and bowed again before raising his head and saying, “My name is Lee Minho. My gift is Rank 2 and I can create forcefields that also hold healing properties when they are wrapped around someone.”

“So you’re a defensive and healing type. Do you have experience with using your gift in combat?”

Minho nodded confidently in response.

“Well,  I would love you see your skills in action since you seem so self-assured. Felix is a Rank 2 as well, so why don’t y-”

Before Jae could finish what he was going to say, Minho interrupted by saying, “I’ve actually already had a chance to spar with Felix the other day and it just ended in a stalemate. It was without gifts, so it could turn out differently, but I was hoping to test myself against someone else. No offense, Felix.”

“None taken.”

Jae raised an eyebrow curiously, “did you have someone in mind?”

“I think Jisung’s gift would be a fun challenge for me to fight against.”

Jisung was taken aback, Chan had a knowing smirk on his face, and everyone else looked around at each other confused. Once the initial shock of being called out was over, Jisung put on a determined face and pulled his shoulders back.

“You sure you want to fight me? I would hate to embarass you. I’m a hard guy to beat.”

“Then why is it you always lose to me?” Changbin interrupted Jisung’s boasting.

“That doesn’t count because your gift is like a direct opposite to mine. Not to mention freezing me before I get a chance to do anything is totally cheating,” the younger snapped back.

Jae then pulled everyone’s attention back to class by saying, “Minho and Jisung it is! Take up positions opposite each other on the sparring mat, and the rest of us will observe from the sidelines. Watching new people’s patterns and style of fighting using a unique gift can always help to give you ideas for new applications of your own.”

Everyone did as they were told, Jisung taking the left side of the mat and Minho taking the right. Jisung looked at the other’s blank expression trying to determine why the other had challenged him to a fight, but was unable to read anything from the older’s face. Truth of the matter was that Minho wasn’t completely sure why he had asked to spar Jisung. It had been a very last minute decision that he, himself, was trying to figure out why he made.

“Impress me, new kid,” was all Jae said before he waved his hand down to signal the beginning of the match.

Immediately Jisung was a blur and was heading right towards Minho, but the older had suspected this tactic and thrown of a shield all around him the second Jae’s hand dropped. Jisung barely managed to stop himself before crashing into it and let out a loud sigh of relief when he realized he almost just crushed his body.

“Smart move, but you can’t stay in there forever,” Jisung called out. The only response he received was a shrug as Minho stood there continuing to do nothing.

Jisung clicked his tongue in annoyance at being ignored before proceeding to spin in a circle around Minho in order to create a vacuum. He doubted even this would do much because of the shield completely surrounding him, but he hoped the winds would be enough to weaken Minho’s shields.

“Nice try, but -” Minho started to say before he summoned a smaller forcefield just above the ground within Jisung’s run path. Jisung tripped, and before he could return to his balance, Minho’s giant forcefield was down and his leg, reinforced with a small forcefields, was heading right towards his stomach.

The leg made contact, and Jisung fell to the floor. He managed to roll out of the way before another kick landed on his head, yet when he moved to get up and run away, there was a forcefield surrounding him this time. It was smaller than the one Minho had used to surround himself and was slowly shrinking, so it became difficult for him to move around. It wasn’t long before it was squeezing his sides uncomfortably and he let out a small squeak.

Jisung was about to surrender when the pressure around him suddenly stopped, and he looked up to see a shocked expression on Minho’s face. He wasn’t sure why his opponent stopped, but he took to opportunity to quickly tackle him to the ground in a flash.

Jisung smiled widely at having able to turn the match around until he realized that during the tackle, he had somehow managed to end up straddling Minho’s waist. He had also pinned the older boy’s arms to ground, next to his head, so that he wouldn’t be able to fight back.

That whole situation was an odd position to be in, but there was a different reason Jisung stopped.

His eyes. Both their faces were just mere inches away from each other, and Minho was looking up at Jisung with the widest, most beautiful eyes he had ever seen in the world.

The entire world froze again.

His eyes were lighter than most which was very welcoming. They seemed to suck Jisung in and give him a warm feeling of closure.

“And that’s the match!” Jae’s voice could be heard somewhere off in the distance, Jisung didn’t really care enough to figure out, but the sound did stop his trance. All of a sudden the world was moving again. He let out a breath he didn’t realize he was holding and could hear his own heartbeat again. And he could faintly hear Minho’s as well.

Minho cleared his throat and let a sheepish grin , “I guess you are a hard guy to beat.”

That damn smile! It just made Jisung want to melt during all the rare occasion when the quiet older would let it show.

Jisung stood up quickly after that, hoping that he didn’t let his thoughts show too clearly on his face. His mother used to tell him that he was an open book when it came to how he was feeling, but he was praying that no one could notice. Which he almost got away with if not for a certain know-it-all leader who Jisung managed to make eye contact with, but then avoided when Chan raised a knowing eye brow.

Minho got up shortly after using the fancier method of rolling onto his back and then jumping up from his previous lying position. After that, both of them came to stand next to each other in front of Jae, the rest of their team standing to his side. There was a moment of awkward silence as Jae looked between the two boys he had just seen sparring.

“Well first off,” Jae finally said, “good job Minho on reacting before Jisung had a chance to rush you with his power. It was very forward thinking of you.” Jae then turned to Jisung, “I think you could have come up with a better solution to his defenses. It is never smart to run in a predictive pattern for you, Jisung, because that takes away the spontaneity of your gift which is its greatest strength.”

Jisung nodded in understanding, and then Jae turned back to Minho. “I was very impressed with your ability to realize this fact, and take advantage of it, Minho. Your execution after you threw your opponent off balance seemed precisely planned and executed flawlessly. I was so impressed, I was a little delayed to call the match over, but then you froze and released before I got the chance. What happened?”

“Uh, right. I-I guess my energy wasn’t one hundred percent restored since last night and summoning that first big one took most of the energy I had left. I was just surprised and froze in shock when the one I had used to contain Jisung, failed,” he explained as he scratched the back of his head.

“Hmm, I see. One of the biggest aspects to Gifted Applications is knowing your own gifts drawbacks. Be sure that you are constantly aware of your limits, and use your gift and your physical abilities as best as you can to overcome them,” Jae instructed before turning to the rest of the members. “Hyunjin, I remember you having a particularly innovative method to overcoming your gift’s weakness?”

“Right. Since I need water for me to be able to do anything with my gift, I carry two packs of water on a belt, and in situations where I don’t have those, I can pull a limited amount of water from the air like so,” Hyunjin explained and then held out his hand to form a ball of water about the size of a person’s fist above his opened palm. He then turned towards the wall of the gym that was lined with practice dummies and sent multiple disks of the water to slice throw the dummy closest to them.

“Very good. One should always look for abstract applications of their abilities. Think outside the box. Learn to use your gift beyond its description if you get what I’m saying,” Jae gave one last bit of teaching before clapping his hand together. “Alright, for the rest of class, everyone will be fighting against the dummies. The catch though is that the dummies will all be fighting back.” As he said that he held both his hands in front of him and aimed at the hundreds to dummies lining the entire right wall of the gymnasium, all of them suddenly coming to life. “Good luck.”

Over the next hour, all nine of them were struggling against the army of fake soldiers. They ended up having to resort to pretty unique methods to keep the dummies at bay since no physical attack would slow them down since they didn’t feel pain. There was also the fact that even if one of the dummies was cut in half, the two halves were still very much able to move. It was like fighting an army of the undead.

For the most part, the dummies managed to surround each of the members, leaving them to fend for themselves, but there were cases of people managing to meet and team up. Woojin had rammed his way through the dummies surrounding him to help out Chan who was having to merely fight against his opposition using martial arts since his gift lacks any offense. They tag teamed: Woojin serving as Chan’s tank and Chan alerting Woojin to any attack.

Changgin had temporarily frozen all of the dummies around him which ended up affecting the dummies surrounding Minho, Jisung, and Felix. The four of them formed a mini team that consisted of Changbin freezing dummies, Jisung getting ahold of a machete from a stock of weapons to the side of the training mats and was using it to shred the frozen dummies as fast as possible before they unfroze, and then Felix taking the disassembled parts and teleporting them to a makeshift forcefield prison that Minho had created.

Jeongin, Seungmin, and Hyunjin were fine each fighting on their own. Hyunjin had gotten the water belt he had talked about beforehand which had two intricately detailed leather pouches filled with water that rested comfortably against his hipsㅡit was honestly a bit of a fashion statement一and was using the water as blades like he had demonstrated before, Seungmin was controlling various weapons, which he had gotten from the same stockpile as Jisung, to dismember the dummies that came at him, and Jeongin was focusing his screams to the point that any dummy in his path would blow up from the inside out.

When Jae finally deanimated the dummies, they had fifteen minutes left of class and too many dummy parts to count scattered about the room. Jae let them know that he would have another group of students clean it up tomorrow as a lesson about using gifts for ‘damage relief’ or something like that. No one really cared to listen to the specifics. Everyone just wanted to take a nap.

When they got back to their dorm rooms, everyone made a game plan to shower, nap, and then get ready to go into town because despite their exhausted state, Minho still needed his own stuff because he had been borrowing everything up to that point.

And even more importantly than that, nothing would keep any one of them from having a chance to go to town and let loose for a night. It was their chance to officially celebrate becoming a team.

Chapter Text

When Jisung and Minho had made it back to their room, Jisung rushed into the bathroom to claim dibs on the first shower which caused Felix and Changbin to shout through their side of the door at the speedy boy for using his gift. Minho, on the other hand, just plopped down on the floor with his back against the side of his bed, so that he wouldn’t get his sheets dirty. His mind was still racing a million miles a minute trying to comprehend what had happened during Jisung and Minho’s sparring match.  

He had been forced to put his thoughts on the matter on hold while they were fighting the dummies, but on their way back from class, Minho had noticed that Jisung was avoiding eye contact with him, and he didn’t know why.

Minho didn’t know about a lot of things concerning Jisung.

Why had he wanted to spare Jisung in the first place? Why the hell his heart hurt and his gift gave out the moment Minho heard Jisung yelp in pain during their sparring match? He shouldn’t have had a reaction like that one. It was just a sparring match. Something he has done hundreds of times, and something that often ends up in people getting a little hurt. He had known what he was doing wasn’t enough to actually injure the younger boy, so why did he panic?

Not to mention what happened after he froze. Why had Jisung stared at him so intently after pinning him to the ground? And more importantly, why did he stare so intently back?

As Minho let out a sigh after thinking about the entire situation. He was beginning to think that he should just talk to Jisung about it when the boy exited the bathroom with nothing but a towel wrapped around his waist and and another, smaller towel being rubbed over his head to dry his long locks. Minho’s eyes immediately went to the smaller boy’s abs, and was pleasantly surprised at how toned they were. He had not been expecting that at all.

“That was fast.”

“I’m always fast,” Jisung said with silently playful smile, but still refused to look Minho’s way. After a moment of silence, Jisung cleared his throat and anded, “you should rush into the bathroom and take a shower before Changbin and Felix realize that I’m finished. They are probably too busy cuddling to notice just yet.”

“Uh, yeah. Thanks, I’ll go do that.”

And with that Minho got up and took a shower, using one the shampoo and conditioners that was already in the shower since he didn’t have his own. When he finally got out, he knocked on the door to the other dorm to let Changbin and Felix know they were done and then returned to his own dorm room to find Jisung changed into comfortable yet fashionable clothes, passed out asleep on his bed. Well, so much for talking.

*****

After three hours, all nine of them promptly met up at the edge of the hallways by the stairs. There were two couches lined against the walls along with a TV, so Minho assumed that it was more private version of the lounge downstairs. Even after him and Jisung woke up after sleeping off their fatigue from the fighting earlier, the younger still wouldn’t look Minho in the eye or say much to him at all. Jisung was definitely avoiding him.

“I cleared the trip with JYP earlier, so we are good to use the bus,” Chan announced as he reached the top of the stairs, just then returning from JYP’s office.

“Thank goodness because I was not looking forward to hauling all of you guys three jumps into town and being tired the rest of the night like I was the last time you all decided to sneak out for the night,” Felix said relieved.

At Felix’s words, Chan immediately turned his head to the youngest two of the group and gave them a raised eyebrow. Jeongin smiled with a guilty face, but Seungmin just shrugged and said, “I have no idea what you are referring to, Felix, and even if I did I think that our dear leader has no reason to scold us since he snuck out with his friends just earlier this week if I am not mistaken.”

“Hehe, I guess you got me there, Seungmin, lets just hurry up so we have more time to eat and celebrate our new status as an official team after we shop for Minho’s stuff.”

And with that, no one questioned it further as they rushed down the stairs and down the left hallway to the garages. There, they all loaded up into a bus which had the letters ‘JYP Academy’ surrounded in a crest on the sides of the vehicle. Inside the bus, the interior was very spacious and had comfortably cushioned seats. It seemed very much like a travel bus for students of a rich kid school.

Chan drove the bus with Woojin joining him up front in the passenger seat just like it had been the night before on their way back from the mission except this time the trip only took around ten minutes before they pulled to a stop in a large parking spot outside what looked to be a department store.

As they all piled out of the bus, a few other folks in the parking lot looked and waved to them with a smile. All eight of the boys used to the town bowed back to them in response which caused Minho to follow after them.

“Alrighty, let’s head inside and get the stuff quickly, so we can go eat,” Chan said with a smile as they made their way inside. He looked over to Minho and could see him frantically looking around the entrance for any Gifted sensors that were usually at the entrance of stores.

“Relax, Minho,” he said as he put a hand on Minho’s shoulder. “This is an old town that isn’t up to date on technology like that, and everyone at the academy comes into town all the time. This isn’t the city, so you can relax.”

Minho visibly relaxed after that. He had known all of this because of how Jisung described it earlier, but something about actually being out and about in the real world again after running around the backstreets of Seoul when he was with BTS was very different and unnerving. Chan’s reassuring words were quick to snap him out of it, however, and Minho admired the leader’s ability to calm a situation.

As they made it inside Minho cleared his throat, “I don’t mind if we split into two groups to make this trip faster. I am use to just using whatever is given to me, so other groups can get stuff like the school supplies I’ll need and hygiene stuff.”

“Well it doesn’t have to be that way now, you know,” Woojin reminded Minho. “The academy exists to give you these kind of small choices.”

Minho just smirked at the reminder, then added, “True, but in the end it doesn’t really matter because I’ll just look fabulous either way.”

Jisung, who had been hanging in the back, coughed at Minho’s words before wrapping his arms around Jeongin and Hyunjin in front of him. “We’ll go get that hygiene stuff,” he said quickly as he dragged the two people in his arms away into the store in a hurry, Seungmin following close on their tail, rolling his eyes.

“Felix and I can get what you’ll need for school,” Changbin said and then disappeared as well with the freckled boy skipping along with him.

Minho looked after Jisung one more time before he grabbed a shopping cart and made his way over to the men’s clothes section of the store. Chan and Woojin stuck with him and helped him find stuff that he would like, but all the clothes Chan were handing him were almost completely black.

“You know, black isn’t the only color in the world, Chan hyung,” he finally said after Chan tried to dump yet another black hoodie into Minho’s cart. Chan paused, looking from the black hoodie then to Minho before he slowly took the hoodie away from the cart with a pouty look on his face.

“I suppose your right,” he said as he put the hoodie back where it came from. Woojin laughed at the blonde and grabbed ahold of his hand to play along with Chan’s joke.

“I think you’ve hurt his feelings, Minho.”

“It’s not my fault he is trying to make my closet a black hole.”

They continued shopping a bit more, and Minho noticed that Woojin and Chan never separated their hands. Watching them shop while holding hands with each other really couldn’t help but paint a perfect couple picture, and Minho couldn’t restrain himself from pointing that out to tease them.

“You two really do make an adorable couple,” he suddenly said which caused both boys to turn their attention to the younger boy. Both their faces immediately turned a bit more red than they were before, and they both immediately disconnected their hands.

“We are not a couple,” they said at the same time which just caused Minho to laugh.

“Surrreeeeeeee. And I’m not a certified badass.”

Minho then returned to shopping quietly, a proud smirk on his face for getting the reaction he had wanted.

“Speaking of couples, you and Jisung seem awfully close,” Chan suddenly broke the silence. Minho almost knocked over the clothing rack he was looking through to find his size, but he recovered quickly and cleared his throat. ‘ Shit. They fight back.

“W-what on earth gives you that impression.”

“Just the way you let Jisung win that fight during Gifted Apps today.”

“I didn’t let him win.”

Woojin seeing what was going on decided to join in on teasing Minho. “Yes, of course you didn’t let him win. You just froze when you realized that you were hurting him which allowed him to win.”

“I-I…” Minho started to say, but then shut his mouth before continuing with a smaller voice. “To be honest, I don’t really know what happened there. I just stopped.” He paused another moment before rushing to add, “but you're way off about the couple thing. We haven’t even known each other a full week.”

“True, but that doesn’t seem to stop you from being the closest to him out of all of us, and in case you haven’t notice, he seems really close to you,” Chan said as he turned away to look for some socks, leaving that bit of information in the air.

“W-what are you talking about? We just connected well the night of the mission is all. And Jisung is definitely not close to me. I’m pretty sure he is avoiding me.”

But Minho’s words fell on deaf ears since Woojin and Chan had decided to disappear into an aisle away from the ranting boy. Minho just sighed and shook his head at what the older boys had been saying. ‘ No way someone liked me. No one has ever cared for me before.

 

*****

 

Meanwhile, Hyunjin, Seungmin, and  Jeongin, who were off getting Minho the toiletries he would need like toothbrush, toothpaste, face wash, shampoo and conditioner, etc., were starting to get annoyed with the annoying squirrel that had forced his way along.

All three of them were just trying to get some time to themselves, but Jisung kept bringing up random topics of conversation that the rest of them couldn't care less about. He was also rushing from aisle to aisle, not quite using his gift but still moving fast enough to give them headaches trying to keep up.

It was Hyunjin who finally decided to say something to their friend.

“Could you calm down and sit still and shut up for two seconds, Jisung. You’re going to give us all an aneurysm.”

“For real, though,” Jeongin added. “You only get like this when you're avoiding something, Jisung.”

Jisung slowed down a bit, but still continued to look through the shelves for the face wash he wanted to get Minho, refusing to look at the other three.

“I’m not avoiding anyth-.”

“Uh, hell yeah you are,” Seungmin interrupted before he could make any excuses. “And I’m willing to bet I know what it is. Or rather who it is.”

“You’re right, Seungmin, he has been oddly distant from a certain someone ever since they sparred earlier today,” Hyunjin said, understanding where Seungmin was going with this.

“OMG. You’re avoiding, Minho?” Jeongin said a little louder than necessary since he had been clueless to it before.

“SHHHHHH, would you all be quiet,” Jisung scolded.

“That’s what I asked you to do literally 30 seconds ago.”

“Wait, but why are you avoiding, Minho,” Jeongin asked, wanting more information after gaining this new knowledge. “Do you like him or something?”

“What?! Noooo. No I don’t.”

“Well, then, I don't see any reason for you to be avoiding him,” reasoned Seungmin. “You could be making him think he did something wrong, and that isn’t very nice of you, Jisung.”

As soon as Seungmin pointed that out, Jisung instantly felt bad for his actions because truth of the matter was he really didn’t know why he was acting this way. Minho hadn’t done anything for him to deserve to be avoided the way Jisung was avoiding him now. The only thing Jisung knew was Minho had made time stop for him two times now. Not only did he stop time, but also, ever since he met the older, Jisung’s past few days have started to go by more slowly. And he didn’t mind.

Ever since his mom and dad were killed, he would need the days to go by as fast paced as possible, that way the pain wouldn’t have any time to catch up. He didn’t care to take the time to appreciate the little things life had to offer. Minho seemed to change all that, but Jisung just couldn’t figure out why.

Why was it that anytime Minho smiled or laughed his heart would start to race? Why was it that any time Minho would start to tease him along with his other teammates, he would suddenly get ten times more embarrassed? Why was it that whenever Minho was close, he would want that moment to freeze and last for an eternity?

Is this what it’s like to like someone?

And why did the thought of liking someone terrify him so much?

Chapter Text

Everyone met up at the front of the department store once they had found everything they needed and checked out. Minho’s jaw just about dropped when he saw the total price of everything and was about to object to them spending that much money on him when Chan pulled a golden credit card out of his pocket and had everything paid for before Minho even got the chance.

“Woah. JYP gave you his personal credit card?!” Hyunjin said in a shouted whisper. “I think I can count the number of people he’s lent his card to on one hand. Are you his actual son or what?”

Chan laughed sheepishly, “You’re over exaggerating, Hyunjin. It really isn’t that big of a deal.”

“You all really didn’t have to spend that much money on me. Like I said before, I don’t mind shopping cheap. What all did you guys even buy for it to cost that much?”

“School supplies are expensive,” Changbin shrugged.

“And also Jisung went a little all out on your skin care routine and products. He was looking through just about everything looking for what works best and had the best smells while mumbling to himself weirdly,” Hyunjin said to call Jisung out.

“It was honestly scary,” Jeongin added. “Like he was possessed.”

“You did?” Minho asked turning to Jisung.

“Y-yeah,” Jisung stuttered as his eyes looked around widely like he was trying to think of something quickly. “Like Woojin said before! There’s no reason to still be cheap! The academy exists to make your life better, and that starts with taking care of your body well, so your welcome .”

All while Jisung was ranting, his cheeks and chest kept puffing out in the most adorable way all while he was waving his hands all about. Jisung was being too cute for Minho to disagree with, so instead, he just nodded, “Fair enough.”

“I don’t care that if you don’t think you deserve it, I think you deserve the w-,” Jisung started to shout back before pausing. “Oh, you agree with me?”

“You made a valid argument, so sure.”

“Great, they’re talking again,” Seungmin suddenly said with mock enthusiasm. “Can we go get food now?”

Everyone cheered at the mention of food and grabbed a shopping bag so that they could start to head out. All except Jisung who was still in a huff about the fact Hyunjin and Seungmin kept trying to call him out. ‘ Can’t they just mind their own business?

Everyone had left through the front door except Minho who turned around to Jisung.

“You coming or you just gonna get left behind?” Minho asked with a teasing smirk on his face.

“I-I’m coming,” Jisung said as he jogged to catch up to Minho, and then they both made their way to the bus.

They hadn’t driven very far when Chan brought the bus to a halt again, this time outside a quaint little restaurant that had a nice patio to the side where they could see a few customers eating outside. The windows that covered most of the restaurant’s front and sides of the building were all decorated with greenery and flowers. It seemed really cozy.

Chan walked up to the front of the door where there was an older woman behind a podium. She looked up from whatever task she was working on, and as soon as she made eye contact with Chan, her face broke out into the biggest smile.

“Bang Chan! Welcome back!” she shouted cheerfully as she came around the podium and gave Chan a motherly hug. “I didn’t expect to see you back so soon, but I am glad that you did so that I can thank you and your friends, Bambam and Jimin, for helping me fix my patio roof last time you all were here. That would have been a nightmare had it started to rain. Oh, are they not with you today?”

“Ah-ha, it's okay, Mrs. Jung. You don’t need to do anything to thank us. We just wanted to be of help,” Chan replied. “And no, they aren’t with me today. My other friends and I just managed to pass an exam that we have all been worried about, so we are here to celebrate.”

“Well, that is definitely something worth celebrating. I know that school of yours pushes you all hard, but it makes you all turn out to be such nice young men and women, always helping us old folks here in town whenever we need a hand. Follow me and I can take you to your seats. We have room left on the patio.”

They all followed her through the front door where they saw more people enjoying delicious food and out a side door onto the patio. She pushed two tables together and then pulled up an extra chair with the assistance of Chan and Woojin who were quick to help her once she started moving stuff around.

“I’m going to run to the bathroom real quick,” Jisung said just as everyone was sitting down. Seungmin, Hyunjin, and Jeongin were quick to share an evil look among themselves and made sure to leave the only empty seat right next to Minho.

Minho himself wasn’t paying too much attention as this was going on because he had gotten his hands on a menu and was in awe at all the enticing food served here. He had never been to a homely, local restaurant like this before, and everything looked so good.

As everyone was ordering drinks, Jisung came back to the table and noticed the only empty seat left. He wouldn’t have thought it was on purpose except for the fact that the three that had been picking on him for the past hour were all staring at him with satisfied expressions. Jisung rolled his eyes as he sat down.

He really didn’t need their meddling now but didn’t complain about it. When he had gone to the bathroom, he had run some water over his face and determined to stop avoiding Minho because, as he had thought before, Minho hadn’t done anything wrong.

In reaction to the movement of Jisung taking the seat beside him, Minho looked up from his menu and made a shocked expression before his face changed to a slight smile that was almost too small to catch.

“Do you know what you are going to get?” he asked Jisung hoping to get an actual response.

“Yeah, the kimchi jjigae here is really good. We usually come here whenever we come into town, and it is always my favorite thing to eat,” Jisung replied enthusiastically.

“Ooo, I was looking at the kimchi jjigae. I guess I’ll get that too.”

For the rest of the night, the two of them kept talking and talking and talking, almost in their own little world as the rest of the team were having a good time around them as well. They would talk about all sorts of random things and both of them would make stupidly random, but funny jokes and then laugh together. It was so refreshing for both of them to be able to just be themselves with someone just as goofy.

Finally, everyone finished eating and they were all trying to figure out what dessert to get when Mrs. Jung came out with a cheesecake which had nine candles placed in the top.

Jisung’s eyes lit up so brightly as he made eye contact with the cheesecake to the point that Minho couldn’t help but stare at the cute face the younger was making. She moved to set it down on the table, and Chan attempted to object to it since they hadn’t ordered it, but Mrs. Jung wasn’t having any of it to Jisung’s relief.

“Absolute nonsense that you can’t except my gift to all of you. You boys worked hard to do well on your exam, and hard work deserves to be rewarded. It is my treat and a thank you for you and your classmates for always being so gracious with us.”

Chan stopped objecting after that. “Okay, okay. Thank you so much, Mrs. Jung. Alright, Stray Kids, should we blow these candles out together?”

They all responded yes and on the count of three blew out the candles and cheered. They cut the cakes and gave everyone a slice. Jisung immediately started filling his cheeks up with the yummy cake which cause Minho to laugh.

“You must really, really like cheesecake, little squirrel,” Minho said, just about causing Jisung to choke.

Once he had calmed down from a coughing fit, he stuttered, “w-what did you call me?”

“A little squirrel. You look like one whenever you eat by the way you stuff your cheeks with food, and you look so adorably small while doing it,” he explained with his blinding smile. Jisung could feel his cheeks begin to heat up and quickly looked away from the older boy before it became worse.

“I’m not c-cute.”

“Sure you are, Jisungie.”

Jisung’s face became even more red. ‘ Gaaaahhhhhh. What are you doing to me, Lee Minho? Why am I such a mess now? ’ was all Jisung’s mind could process.

He was thankfully saved by everyone getting up from the table to leave before Minho seemed to notice, but that didn’t mean it escaped the notice of others at the table. He could have sworn he heard Seungmin and Hyunjin high fiving each other once Jisung had his back to them while Jeongin was jumping up and down excitedly.

 

*****

 

The next day was Friday, and they all had Korean for first block and history for second block where Minho got to meet Jeongin’s father. He was a nice and relaxed guy who was boasting about how proud he was about his son and the rest of their team succeeding for their first mission. He was just as talkative as Mrs. Yang, but much less tight strung it seemed.

They ended up deciding to eat in the same stop for lunch as they had the day before, but on their way there, more students seemed to be trying to come up and talk to the nine of them. People seemed extra interested in talking to Minho because he was a new student to the point he was completely surrounded by people throwing questions at him.

“It’s so cool you’re new and on a team. You must be a really good fighter.”

“What’s your gift? I bet you're like a Rank 4.”

“Oh my God, you’re so handsome. Are you dating anyone?”

Minho was completely overwhelmed by all the strangers trying to talk to him and was just standing there at a loss for words until Jisung, thankfully, grabbed ahold of his arm and dragged him through the people surrounding him. They tried to follow—still not done—but he all of a sudden instructed Minho to jump on his back.

“What?” he asked, dumbfounded.

“Get on my back. I’ll piggyback you,” he responded in a rushing tone.

“Why?”

“Just do it.”

So Minho did as he was told, and as soon as he felt Jisung’s surprisingly toned arms lock around his legs, the world wrapped around him and the next thing he knew they were no longer in the entrance hall of the academy but under the twisted tree, in their lunch spot.

Jisung slowly put the older down, and Minho immediately collapsed to his knees once Jisung was no longer supporting him.

“Sorry. It’s always very hard on the body the first time I run with someone. They just didn’t seem like they intended to leave you alone any time soon, and I could tell they were making you uncomfortable. This was the only thing I could think of to help,” he said as he kneeled down next to Minho, making sure he was okay.

“No, no. It’s fine. I’m glad you did that when you did because I was just about to go into a panic attack with all their attention on me,” he said as he steadied his breathing.

“Panic attack?”

“Yeah… I don’t know if you noticed when you first met me, but I don’t really do too well with people I don’t know. I think I was only able to get used to you and the rest of the team so quickly because I was so set on freeing my friends from the Gifted prison, and I needed you all to pull it off.”

“Oh. I see,” Jisung said, then paused. “Is there a reason why?” he suddenly asked before he realized that subject might be sensitive to Minho. “I-I mean, you only have to answer that if you're not uncomfortable with it. I didn’t mean to pry. I was just thinking that it sometimes helps to, like, talk it out and whatnot. At least that’s what Chan always says to me, but Chan is a lot easier to talk to compared to me, so it might be different if you talk to me-”

“Jisung,” Minho finally said to stop the younger boy’s rambling. The younger went silent and then moved his gaze from the ground to Minho’s face with an apologetic look on his face that Minho couldn’t help but laugh at.

“What?! Why are you laughing at me?”

“Nothing. It’s just that you were stressing out and ranting in such an adorable way.”

“A-adorable?” Jisung said flustered. “Ya! Would you stop calling me cute and adorable! I am a guy and not adorable.” Jisung then picked grass from the ground and started throwing it at Minho which just caused Minho to laugh and try and try to dodge the attacks. When Jisung finally was satisfied by how much grass the older was covered in he stopped and they both sat there on the ground together each catching their breath from their mini battle.

After a moment, Minho broke the silence by saying, “I guess the reason I don’t like being around strangers is because I have a hard time trusting new people. My entire life I’ve jumped from foster home to foster home, and it seemed that no matter where I ended up, the other kids, and even the foster parents, would always bully and belittle me for being a Gifted. Then when I finally found foster parents that I had learned to feel secure with and trust, they betrayed me. Even when I was with BTS and the rest of the runways, I got along with most everyone, but I also kept my distance, never fully trusting anyone which turned out completely justified after Jaehwa betrayed us. But here, with Stray Kids, it somehow feels different. It feels like I can start to actually open up and trust you guys.”

Minho paused for a second, staring at the ground until he turned to made eye contact with Jisung

“This trust I am starting to give to the eight of you terrifies me.”

Chapter Text

The whistle blew and the game began.

“Changbin!” Chan shouted from the other side of the field signaling for him to freeze Jisung and Felix before they had a chance to go for the soccer ball. Jisung was stopped mid-run just inches away from the ball, but Felix managed to poof from the field before he was frozen.

Seungmin and Chan both ran for the ball at the same time, so Minho summoned a forcefield in Seungmin’s path to make sure Chan was able to make it to the ball first. That tactic didn’t last long, though, because Felix popped up behind Minho and kicked his feet out from under him making the older lose focus on maintaining his gift.

“Shall we have a rematch?” Felix asked with a smirk. He then went to land another down on Minho’s stomach until his ankle made contact with a shield. Minho rolled out from under the protection he had summoned and jumped to his feet, engaging Felix in a series of close contact attacks. Felix stayed close to Minho the entire time, knowing that Changbin wouldn’t try to freeze him and risk freezing his teammate as well.

Meanwhile, Chan had gotten to the ball before Seungmin since he was delayed slightly, only to be met with a bombardment of water to the face. Hyunjin took advantage of the distraction and stole the soccer ball from Chan’s feet heading towards their goal instead. Changbin stood in his path, and Hyunjin was suddenly worried he would be frozen, but instead, Changbin stepped out of the way and a sonic scream blasted Hyunjin onto his butt. Woojin came from the right, dribbling the ball in the opposite direction.

Seungmin attempted to retake the ball for his team, but before he could attack Woojin, the eldest kicked the ball to Chan and then shifted into a jaguar. He lept at Seungmin, keeping him distracted long enough for Chan to kick the ball into their team’s net.

Jeongin, Woojin, Chan, and Changbin cheered, Jisung unfroze and almost face planted in the dirt when he went to kick a ball that was no longer there, and Felix relaxed the chokehold he had put Minho in when he had jumped onto his back during their fight.

“Aish, this is so unfair you guys,” Hyunjin shouted. “That was your third goal in a row, and we can hardly stop you since Changbin keeps freezing half our team, making it literally two or three versus five .”

“Maybe Jisung should have moved a little bit faster and I wouldn’t have been able to freeze him. Felix did it this time,” Changbin said and Felix blushed a little at the slight compliment.

Jisung just cast Changbin a glare. “I doubt you were even trying that hard to freeze him. You’re always playing favorites, hyung.”

“Everybody calm down,” Chan eventually stepped in to settle the argument. “This is supposed to be Team Building. We’re working on getting a job done even when we have to be split up into smaller groups. The key is to devise a plan before the play and carry it out as a united team, and your team isn’t with one another. Hyunjin and Seungmin, you both could have done way more damage if you two had been on the same page. Most of our team have defensive gifts while you guys have more of the offensive types, too, so use that to your advantage. Be more aggressive.”

They were currently playing a game of Gifted soccer. Chan, Woojin, Minho, Changbin, and Jeongin were one team while Hyunjin, Jisung, Felix, and Seungmin were the other.

“Fine,” Jisung said defiantly. “Alrighty, team 2000, huddle up!”

“Who made you the team captain?” Seungmin and Hyunjin questioned at the same time.

“Oh, would you just pretend you like me for the next half hour so we can kick the hyungs and Jeongin’s asses.”

Both of them looked to Jeongin, but all they got in response was the youngest sticking his tongue out at them in a childish and provoking manner. After that, they were quick to join Jisung and Felix in a huddle, eager to devise their opponents’ demise.

Once again, the two teams were standing across from each other on the soccer field waiting for the whistle to blow. Jisung and Felix had their eyes trained on the Normie teacher who was leading their class that day with the hopes of seeing the exact moment he signaled the match to begin. For Jisung, he took a deep breath and let the world slow down as his internal body functions speed up. The very second the high pitched note of a whistle shot through the air, his body was moving towards the soccer ball.

Felix, too, was quick to teleport from his spot on the opposite side of the field to directly on Changbin’s back. He wrapped both his legs and his arms around the older boy and clung onto him for dear life.

“Can’t freeze me now, Binnie,” Felix said with a laugh into Changbin’s ear that made the dark-haired boy freeze himself for a hot second.

Meanwhile, Chan’s team seemed to predict that Jisung and Felix would avoid being frozen that time because Minho had set up a forcefield surrounding the ball immediately after the bell sounded. Luckily, Jisung managed to jump over it before he kicked at the forcefield and stubbed his toe.

Jisung continued running in random directions around the field as he huffed in frustration at the ball. He couldn’t stay still for long and risk Changbin getting the chance to freeze him even though Felix was keeping him distracted, and he was learning from his mistake the previous day by running in an unpredictable pattern.

That was when Hyunjin and Seungmin stepped forward to fight. Hyunjin used the water from his pouches and from the air around them to cover his arms in water, strengthening them, and Seungmin had all his bits of metal flying in circles around his body. The two of them stepped forward and were met with Chan, Woojin, and Jeongin in a face off.

Hyunjin and Seungmin looked at each other briefly before Hyunjin threw water at the three’s feet. Hoping to trip them. Chan and Woojin managed to jump and dodge this attempt, but Jeongin quickly fell backwards. Seungmin took this opportunity to neutralize their biggest threat in this fight by merging some of his metal pieces together into a band, and securing it around Jeongin’s mouth so that he couldn’t open it and scream.

“Sorry, baby, but this is war,” Seungmin said apologetically to the red-head when his eyes went wide at Seungmin for the treatment.

Woojin had shifted into his signature brown bear form and started to lunge for Seungmin while Chan tried to fight with Hyunjin. However, the tall, younger boy was a bit better at martial arts compared to the leader, especially when he was using just gifts alongside his fighting style. As a result, Chan was a little over his head, but he was just hoping on keeping his opponent distracted from the game.

Minho, on the other hand, knew he needed to get Changbin to freeze Jisung before he could remove his forcefield from the ball. He was just about to help Changbin deal with Felix when suddenly he was pushed to the ground with an incredible force. Jisung stopped for a moment and gave the older a soft apology before he took off again and claimed the ball before Minho could re-shield it.

Within the next blink of an eye, the ball was in their opponents net, and the 2000 line shouted out in victory.

The game ended up being a tie with both teams scoring five times, much to the makane line’s dismay.

 

*****

 

The next week seemed to fly by before Minho even realized it. On Saturday, they went into town again and helped repair an old couple’s barn that was damaged during a storm a week prior. Sunday, all nine of them spent time together at the academy goofing off and having a movie binge together that night. Monday through Friday they returned to classes, and Minho eventually got reaccustomed to school life. It had begun to feel like he had lived at the academy with the rest of Stray Kids for months when in reality it hadn’t even been two weeks.

The second Saturday since Minho’s arrival came around, and they returned to town to help with another project. By now Minho wasn’t wary about being around all the Normies in town, and he even grew to enjoy the residents because of their warm hospitality whenever anyone from the academy came around. The academy’s students really seemed to give back to this small community as much as it could, and in exchange, the town gave them a little part of the outside world where they were welcomed. Welcomed because the residents didn’t know they were Gifteds, but it was closer than most students have been welcomed anywhere before.

Unfortunately, even though Minho had gotten used to the school schedule, he was having trouble keeping up with all the lessons they had been going over that week in their classes. One subject in particular was giving him a harder time than the rest: Math.

Sunday afternoon, he was sitting at his desk in his dorm room trying to complete the homework that would be due Tuesday. After staring at a problem for ten minutes and still not being able to come up with any possible way of solving it, he threw his pencil down with an exasperated groan.

“Fine! I’ll bite my pride and ask for help,” Minho shouted to himself. He proceeded to push out of his chair and set out to find the person who had offered to tutor him.

He ended up not having to look too much because as soon as he walked out to the mini lounge space they had at the end of their hall, Minho saw the very boy he was looking for sitting on a couch.

Jisung was sitting up with his legs curled up against his chest while he was holding his phone at eye level. His eyes were trained on his phone screen, eyes wide and he also had headphones plugged into his ears, so it seemed as if he had no sense of the outside world.

Minho smirked as a devilish plan popped into his head.

Slowly he crept up behind the couch and looked over the boy’s shoulder to see him watching some drama which caused Minho to roll his eyes. ‘ Of course, he would watch that kind of sappy stuff.

Once he was done mentally making fun of him, Minho reached forward and grabbed both of Jisung’s shoulders quickly causing the younger to jump up and scream, dropping his phone in the process. Minho buckled over on the floor laughing behind the couch at the success of his jump scare.

“What the fuck, Minho?!” The squirrel boy shouted at him as he stuck his head over the back of the couch and saw who the culprit was.

“Oh my God,” Minho said through watery eyes. “You are such a scaredy cat.”

“Leave me alone. I was just minding my own business and wasn’t expecting a hoe to come up from behind and ruin it,” Jisung said with a pout as he sat back down facing away from Minho.

“Yeah, I could tell,” Minho replied as he finally stood up and started to calm his laughing. He jumped over the couch and landed in the spot right next to Jisung. “You seemed pretty engrossed in whatever the hell you were watching. Why do you watch those dramas, anyways? They’re just a bunch of boring Normies acting out cliché plot lines.”

Jisung loudly gasps in response to what Minho had just said. “How dare you call drama’s ‘cliché!’ I should have known you were a man with no taste.”

“Pfft. Whatever. What are you watching, anyways?”

The Beauty Inside , and you are now going to watch it with me until you recognize what true art is,” Jisung huffed as he pulled Minho close to him, unplugged his headphones, and clicked play to resume the episode.

Minho was taken aback by the sudden action but wasn’t complaining too much either. He decided to humor Jisung for a little bit before ditching the drama and asking him to help him with math. Or at least, that was the plan, but three episodes later Minho was totally hooked.

“Alright, and that’s where we’ll stop today,” Jisung said and then turned his phone off.

“What? Why?”

Jisung laughed in response to Minho’s cute questioning. “Weren’t you the one who was calling this drama cliché and boring not three hours ago?”

“I… uh… a guy can change his mind, okay?” Minho stated with a shrug of his shoulders like he was trying to play it off.

“Okaaaay. If you say so. I have to go work on my homework that is due tomorrow.”

“Oh, the math handouts?”

“Yup. Have you done them yet?”

Minho shook his head. “No. That’s actually what I came out here for. I was going to ask for your help with the questions because I am completely lost.” Minho scratched the back of his head in embarrassment at how he was needing to ask for help.

Jisung, on the other hand, couldn’t help but break out into a huge smile as a result of Minho coming to him for help. “Of course I’ll help you. I did offer to tutor you, anyways. Come on, we can work on the handout together.”

And so that was exactly what they did for the remainder of the afternoon. To Minho’s surprise, Jisung was actually really good at explaining things, and he actually seemed to know what he was doing. Jisung kept laughing at how shy Minho would get whenever he messed something up or when he had to ask for Jisung to explain it to him a second time, but he got there in the end. They were just finishing up their last problem when Chan knocked on the door to their dorm and shouted at them that dinner was ready.

“Hmm, that’s weird,” Jisung said to himself after that.

“What’s weird?” Minho looked to him confused.

“Usually when Chan wants us to head downstairs for food he just barges through the door and makes sure we are out of bed and getting ready. He hardly ever just knocks and leaves just like that.”

“Oh, yeah. I’ve noticed that. Hmm,” Minho said, thinking about it briefly. “Maybe he thought we were up to no good and didn’t trust us to be decent,” Minho finally considered aloud.

“Yaaaaah! Get your filthy head out of the gutter. Why in the hell would he think me and you were… I don’t even wanna think about what you were implying.”

Minho just shrugged and stood up, not saying anything else. Jisung was left staring after him, still in shock, until he snapped out of it and quickly ran after the older.

Chapter Text

Thunder echoed all around me, but I couldn’t see a thing. I was completely surrounded by complete and total darkness to the point I couldn’t even see my own limbs.

I hated the sound of thunder. I tried to move, tried to cover my ears, but no matter how much I tried to move my arms, they wouldn’t go anywhere. 

So I stayed like that for what felt like an eternity. Stuck.

Then a spotlight shined on a figure a good bit away from me. I could see it was a person, but it wasn’t until the figure stood up and turned around that I was able to identify exactly who it was. 

It was my mother. 

“My baby,” she cried out to me. I wanted to respond. I wanted to talk to her. I wanted to warn her about the storm. But nothing would come from my mouth. 

The next thing I knew, a bolt of lightning flashed and thunder roared, temporarily overwhelming my sense of sight and sound. Once I could see again, my mother was still standing there, but now her chest was bleeding right where her heart was. 

No. No. Not again. I don’t wanna see this again. Blood started dripping from the corner of her mouth and that was when I couldn’t take it anymore. 

I needed to scream. 

 

“Nooooo!” Jisung screamed out as he shot upright in his bed. Jisung was panting wildly as he frantically looked around his room for his mother. When all he saw was Minho sitting up in his own bed staring back at him worriedly, he finally realized that it had just been a nightmare. 

“Are you okay?” Minho softly asked from across the room. 

“Uh, yeah…” Jisung managed to say as his breathing steadied. “I was just having a bad-”

BAM. A loud clap of thunder rumbled through the entire academy and Jisung screamed immediately and wrapped his blanket tighter around him in response. 

“Are you sure you’re okay?” Minho asked more worriedly as he swung his legs over the side of his own bed to face the younger more directly.

“I really, really don’t like thunderstorms. They always give me nightmares,” Jisung admitted. “I’m sorry, did I wake you up?”

“No, I was already awake just now,” Minho said as he shifted his gaze downward. “I also hate storms.”

“Oh,” was all Jisung said. The two of them sat there on their beds in silence for what seemed like ages before Jisung finally built up the courage to open his mouth again. 

“Minho?”

“Yeah?”

Jisung hesitated for a moment before saying, “you can say no if you don’t want to, but my mom always used to let me sleep in her bed whenever I woke up from a nightmare… and I was wondering… I mean if you're not opposed… do you think I could sleep with you in your bed for the rest of the night?” 

Minho was taken aback by the request. Of course he didn’t mind, but he really wasn’t expecting to be asked that by the younger. He was about to open his mouth to respond when-

BAM. Another thunderclap sounded. This time, rather than just screaming, Jisung shot up from his bed and speed directly into Minho’s, pulling up the covers and diving underneath them so that he was between Minho and the wall at that point. 

The older had many conflicting emotions going on at once at that moment. Fear: he was also scared of the thunder because he really hated sudden loud noises. Amusement: the younger had been so cute just then he was trying to hold back a laugh. And lastly, embarrassment: his face was a red mess as a result of Jisung suddenly being in the same bed as him. 

“I’m s-sorry,” Jisung squeaked from under the covers. 

“It’s okay,” Minho was able to reassure. “I was about to say I was okay with it anyway.”

That was when Jisung finally uncovered his face and looked up at Minho who was still sitting up in bed to say, “Thank you.”

“N-no problem,” Minho stuttered in response as he pulled himself back into his bed and laid back down so that he could break eye contact with the breathtaking boy. 

It took them a few minutes of moving around and apologizing to each other until they figured out the most comfortable way to sleep, but eventually, they both relaxed with Jisung’s back against Minho’s chest while Minho had his arms wrapped around the younger protectively. They continued to jump nervously each time the sound of thunder spread across the night, but they found comfort in each other’s presence, and soon enough, the storm had passed and they drifted to a pleasant sleep.

*****

For the entire Monday after the thunderstorm, Minho didn’t really get a chance to pay much attention to his teachers while in his morning classes, Korean and History. His mind kept going back to the night before, questioning if it meant anything. 

Of course it didn’t you idiot. He was just scared and that’s all,’ Minho kept repeating to himself every time his mind considered that idea. 

They were walking to lunch now, opting to stay inside since the ground was still wet from the storm the night before, when Chan came up behind him. 

“Hey, are you doing okay, Minho? You’ve seemed out of it all morning,” their leader asked as he threw a reassuring arm over Minho’s shoulder.  

“Yeah… I guess I’m just tired is all. I didn’t sleep too well last night because of all the thunder,” Minho lied. Truth be told, he slept amazingly last night as soon as Jisung joined him. 

“That makes sense. Well, like I always say, if there ever is something wrong, know you can talk to me or any of the members,” Chan said with a smile before addressing the whole group. “Felix, Changbin, Woojin, and I will get the food like usual. The rest of you should hurry to the lounge and snag a spot before it gets too crowded. And remember to not-”

“Not let anyone give their spots to us just because we are a team,” Jisung finished Chan’s sentence. “We know how to be humble, Chan hyung, with or without you. Have a little faith.”

Chan just laughed in response to the passive aggressive comment, knowing that Jisung didn’t mean anything negative by it. “If you say so,” he even added with a wink before removing his arm from around Minho and walking off to get food.

Minho looked to Jisung briefly and the younger boy smiled in response before he grabbed the older’s arm and dragged him into the lounge. 

“Don’t worry, if we get mobbed again ‘cause everyone is inside for the most part today, we will just have Seungmin and Jeongin be their usual cute but savage selves and tell everyone to fuck off,” he said to the older as he caught him nervously glancing into the lounge filled with people. The two youngest who were just mentioned didn’t even correct him, and instead, just took the lead with Hyunjin as they proceeded forward. 

Minho’s nervousness was immediately replaced with a different emotion when he walked into the lounge and he was met with a gust of wind to the face. 

“Using your gift is cheating, hyung!” someone shouted at the boy practically flying across the middle of the room with a plate full of pizza. 

Minho immediately recognized both the gift and boy tauntingly stealing someone else's food as Beomgyu and the boy who was yelling at and chasing him as Heungingkai from their prison bust. 

“Can you please both just calm down? Beomgyu, give him back his pizza,” the boy, who Minho also recognized as Soobin, shouted at them while semi-hiding his face behind his hands, obviously embarrassed by the commotion his friends were causing. He was sitting in one of the windowsill loveseats along with Taehyun who just looked worried and Yeonjun who looked just about ready to fight the two goofing off.

A smile couldn’t help but find its way to Minho’s face at seeing these familiar faces. He had been so busy over the past week and a half with school and getting to know his own team that he hadn’t had time to check in on any of the other runways from his time with BTS. Even if he had cut himself off from the rest of them while staying with BTS, he still felt a responsibility to them as an older brother. 

That’s why he didn’t waste any time in surrounding Beomgyu in one of his force fields in order to get him to stay still. As soon as he did, Beomgyu whipped his head around the room looking for the only person he knew that could create such a barrier. 

“Minho hyung!” he shouted when he made eye contact with the older. “What are you doing here?!”

“Uh… I live here?” Minho asked confused at the question as Heungingkai came to a stop just outside of Minho’s forcefield, eyeing his stolen pizza. 

“Well I know that, but everyone was saying that the team you’re with here is all reclusive and doesn’t really get seen outside of their dorm wing,” Beomgyu explained. 

“That’s because we usually eat outside and like to avoid the paparazzi,” Hyunjin says with a smile as he walked over to the three sitting around the loveseat. He was happy to see them doing well after their imprisonment, especially Yeonjun, and since Hyunjin had been apart of the undercover team alongside Minho, he had gotten a chance to start a friendship with those he’d met inside the prison. “I’m glad you guys decided to stay at the academy. I know Chan had mentioned that you weren’t sure about it at first.”

“Is Chan the guy with the curly, bleach blonde hair?” Soobin asked. 

“Yeah, he’s our team’s leader,” Hyunjin responded. 

“Hey. You mind dropping the forcefield, Minho?” Beomgyu shouted, but Heungingkai immediately threw his hands up in a stopping gesture. 

“No! Don’t free him until he promises to hand over my lunch,” he demanded. “Or better yet, Yeonjun! Just tell him to give it back.”

“I’m not going to use my gift for the sake of petty teasing,” Yeonjun groaned and went back to eating. 

“Fine, fine. I’ll give it back. Just let me free. I’m getting claustrophobic, Minho hyung.”

So Minho compiled and Beomgyu actually handed Heungingkai his plate back, earning a wide smile from the youngest. They then walked over and joined everyone in a growing circle around the windowsill. 

There had been quite a lot of other people in the lounge, but they had been purposely trying to stay out of their business because the Rank 5 was with them. 

Minho sat down across from Taehyun who was sitting on the floor, leaning his back against the loveseat, and Taehyun gave him a smile as he did. 

“You look good, hyung. You seem actually happy,” Taehyun said to him. 

Minho coughed after hearing that. Coughed on what? Who knows? But he felt like Taehyun had lowkey just called him out for being grumpy. 

“You don’t look too bad yourself,” he managed to say in response. 

“Yeah, the five of us have become really close and Yeonjunnie hyung and Soobinnie hyung have been helping me be a bit more courageous. At least not as big as the wimp you knew before.”

Beomgyu came and sat down next to Taehyun, wrapping his arm around his shoulder in a similar reassuring fashion that Chan had done to Minho just before. 

“Stop being so hard on yourself. You handled yourself just fine and definitely weren’t a wimp.” 

“So why’d you tease me so much?” he whined at the older. 

“Cause it was fun,” Beomgyu said with a smile and a shrug. 

“You seem like someone I’d get along with,” Seungmin says, joining their conversation. 

Just then, Chan and the rest of the food crew walked up to them. 

“Hey, guys. Long time no see,” Chan said with a bright smile as they made the sitting circle larger and started handing out food. “How are you guys enjoying JYP Academy?”

“It’s amazing actually,” Yeonjun said as a smile grew on his face. Everyone was happy to see him enjoying himself the most since he had had the hardest time. 

“Yeah, we are even going to try and become a team during the tournament the week after next,” Heungingkai said confidently. 

“Tournament?” Minho questioned, confused. 

“Oh, did we never tell you about it?” Jisung said who had taken a seat next to Minho in the circle. 

“It’s an alternative opportunity for a group of students to become a team without having to go through a heavy training process beforehand,” Chan explained. “Regular students can form their own temporary teams and compete against the formed teams in events, and if the temporary team manages to beat the official team, they are allowed to go on their first mission.”

“Most of the time, the temporary teams fail, though because they don’t have the same training as the official ones,” Woojin added. “The main purpose of the tournament is to just be a fun event for students to watch or maybe participate in.”

“Day6 is the only team to be formed this way. They managed to beat Got7 at the tournament two years ago,” Seungmin stated proudly. 

“Which only happened because Jae managed to get Bambam and Jackson drunk enough to have them make a stupid promise to Dowoon about letting them win,” Hyunjin defended Got7. 

“Still, it was fair play since it was just a clever application of a gift,” Seungmin said back with a coy shrug. 

“Well we are definitely going to beat whoever we are faced up against,” Heungingkai stated proudly. 

“Especially since we’ve heard that the academy’s most powerful team, Twice, won’t be participating this year because they are on an extensive mission overseas,” Soobin added. 

“Well if you get put against us, I wouldn’t be too confident even if you do have a Rank 5 as a member,” Chan said with a challenging smile. “My team won’t be going easy on anyone.”

Chapter Text

After the encounter with Beomgyu and Taehyun, Minho was reminded that he should probably also check in with Ryujin and Yuna, so he ended up looking for them after their afternoon class. Jisung had tagged along, saying that he was Minho’s ‘get out of jail free card’ in case he got mobbed by students. Whatever the hell that means.

Luckily, they weren’t mobbed and ended up finding the two of them, along with three other girls, sparring with each other by the large pond behind the academy. They stopped sparring as soon as they saw the two boys approach them.

“Jisung!” The girl with the high ponytail, whom Minho didn’t recognize, called out. “Long time no see. You and Chan and everyone else have been so busy as a team, we hardly get to see you anymore.” She walked up to the two of them, and after giving Jisung a hug, much to Minho’s annoyance, she turned her attention to him. 

“You must be Minho. My name is Yeji and I’ve heard a lot about you from Ryujin and Yuna as well as all the gossip going around,” she said to him as she extended her hand for Minho to shake.

“What kind of rumors?” Minho asked as he shook her hand, interested to hear what was being said about him. 

“How you're quiet and don’t like to talk to other people other than the other Stray Kids members,” Ryujin walked up with Yuna. “The quiet and distance part isn’t new, but it is good to hear that you are opening up to some people. Cool team name, too.”

“Yup, yup. How did you manage to do it?” Yuna asked Jisung. “We tried to get him to open up to us for months and he never did.”

Jisung pretended to think about it for a bit, and then shrugged, saying, “I guess I just have a special charm.”

Yeji just punched him in the arm. “Still as cocky as ever.”

They continued to talk with the five girls for a bit, Jisung and Yeji introducing the other two girls that Minho didn’t know as Chaeryeong and Jisu. It turned out that they had been practicing for the tournament themselves just now, so Minho was beginning to understand how big of a deal this whole thing was. 

After Jisung gave them the same statement as Chan did earlier about how Stray Kids wouldn’t be going easy on anyone if they fought, the two of them decided to go back to their dorm and let the girls continue to practice. 

*****

Later that night, after Minho had gone to sleep, he was suddenly woken up by someone crawling into his bed. He groggily opened his eyes and saw Jisung there for the second night in a row. 

Jisung seemed to notice Minho wake up and hurriedly said, “I had another nightmare.”

“Are you okay? It isn’t even storming,” Minho said back, still half asleep.

“Yeah, I’m fine. I’ve just been thinking about my parents too much lately for some reason, and I figured since you were fine with it last night it would be okay… If you don’t want me to I can go back to my bed,” Jisung mumbled as he started to slide back out of bed. Minho confirmed he was completely fine with it by grabbing the smaller boy around his waist and pulling back into the bed before falling back to sleep. 

What Jisung hadn’t wanted to say was that he was slowly starting to realize that Seungmin and Hyunjin had been right, much to his own annoyance. He was falling in love with Minho. And he also realized why he was so scared of that fact. 

He now had a loved one he could lose. Just like how he lost his mom and dad. 

*****

The week flew by, and suddenly it was the weekend again. Chan had proposed they should do something fun as a team since the next weekend would be the tournament and they wouldn’t have another free day for a while as a result. Hyunjin happily recommended a swim day which they all agreed to, so they got ready and headed down to the pool. 

Unfortunately, a ton of other students seem to have had the same idea, and the pool was heavily crowded. They didn’t want to just give up on their idea of swimming since they were already dressed and ready to swim, so Woojin suggested swimming at the pond instead. Apparently, all of the original students used to just swim there instead back in the day because the pool had only been built five years prior. 

When they got to the lake, they had fun and were goofing off in the water, but Jisung seemed to be on edge the whole time. 

“What’s wrong,” Minho asked after noticing it. 

“I really don’t like swimming in water where you can’t see the bottom. I had a bad experience with a crocodile when I was a kid.”

Seungmin seemed to have overheard this statement because the next thing he did was swim over to Woojin and whisper something in his ear. 

The next thing to happen occurred so fast, Minho couldn’t help but laugh alongside everyone else when Woojin shifted into a crocodile and swam up behind Jisung, hitting his tail against the water just as he came up right next to the poor boy. 

Jisung screamed the loudest he had ever screamed before and grabbed onto Minho who was closest to him. When Woojin shifted back, Jisung looked around at all of his members laughing and then back at Minho. It nearly broke his heart to see him laughing along with them. 

“You’re such a scaredy cat, Jisung,” Hyunjin teased. 

“Fuck all of you,” Jisung shouted angrily as he let go of Minho, swam to the shore, and ran off up the hill to the side of the academy. I might seem as if he was overreacting, but the fact they had targeted a specific fear of his had made Jisung a lot more sensitive.

Minho looked after the boy, suddenly feeling sorry for laughing even though it was just supposed to be a joke. 

“I’m going to go check on him,” Minho said as he also got out of the lake and headed towards the spot Minho could guess the younger had fled to. He climbs the hill until he sees two recognizable trees with a hammock hanging between them come into view. Sure enough, Jisung is laying face down in said hammock. 

“Hey, Jisung,” Minho said to get his attention as he came up beside one of the trees. 

“Go away, I don’t want to talk to you,” Jisung said, his voice muffled by the hammock since he still had his face buried in it.

“I just wanted to say sorry for laughing. It wasn’t cool to pick on a fear of yours.”

Jisung didn’t respond.

“Come on, Jisung. Come back down to the water, and just have fun. No need to get all mopey.”

Silence. 

“Why are you getting so sensitive?” Minho questioned as he took a step closer to the hammock. “We tease each other all the time. Why are you choosing now to get upset about?”

When Jisung didn’t move for the third time Minho sighed and gave up. “Whatever. Waste the day away if that’s what you want to do. I’m going back if you’re going to just sit there and say nothing.”

As Minho started to walk away, Jisung wasn't sure where he found the courage to finally act on the feelings he only recently realized. Maybe it was his anger at the moment or maybe it was him just wanting answers about what these feelings actually meant, but the next thing he knew, he sped out of the hammock, grabbed Minho’s arm to turn him back around, and smashed his lips into the elder’s before Minho even realized what was happening. 

It didn’t last for too long, and as he detached his lips, the first thing out of his mouth was, “You're such a dumbass.”

Their faces were so close and all Jisung wanted to do was yell at Minho and say, ‘how could he not realize why his words and opinions meant more to him than those of the other members,’ but apparently he used up all the courage he had before in that kiss. 

Jisung was about to take a step away when Minho suddenly grabbed Jisung’s shirt by the collar and pulled him back for a much, much deeper kiss. Jisung yelped in response, shocked by this sudden turn of events, but the older didn’t stop as he pushed Jisung’s back into the closest tree that supported the hammock. He pushed his leg up between Jisung’s thighs and the younger let out a soft moan against Minho’s lips in response. He nibbled on Jisung’s bottom lip to ask for entry, and when the squirrel boy complied, Minho’s tongue explored Jisung’s mouth fully. His tongue wrapped itself around the younger’s, both of them fit together so perfectly it seemed. The push and pull of the kiss was seemingly so natural for both of them.

After what seemed like a blissful eternity, Minho finally broke the kiss to catch his own breath. Jisung was panting as well and a red-faced mess with his eyes wide and hair askew all across his sweating forehead. Minho takes in the sight and barely manages to restrain himself from reconnecting their lips. What stopped him was the fact that he was still very confused as to what just happened between the two of them. 

“What the hell was that?” he managed to ask once his breathing steadied enough.

“Why are you asking me? You're the one that just shoved your tongue down my throat,” Jisung retorted. 

“You kissed me first.”

“And you kissed me back.”

“I-I guess I did,” Minho stuttered while shaking his head. ‘ Really, what the fuck came over him just now?

Jisung could see the panic in Minho’s eyes as his own actions seemed to become real to him for the first time. 

“You don’t regret it, do you?” a frantically nervous Jisung questioned. He was desperately trying to restrain himself from grabbing onto Minho and forbidding him from walking away from him at that point. He really didn’t want any more people he cared about leaving him. 

But Minho didn’t leave. He didn’t move at all. Instead, he was spaced out looking past the tree at nothing in particular. 

“Not necessarily, no,” he finally said as he returned his face to Jisung’s. “Do you?” 

Jisung shook his head wildly, both boys visibly relaxing after hearing validation and standing there for a moment in silence. 

“Want to do it again?” Minho suddenly asks while raising one of his eyebrows. 

Jisung didn’t say yes, but he also didn’t say no, so the next thing they knew, their lips were reconnected. They struggled for dominance as both of them stumbled away from the tree trunk until Minho eventually won and succeeds in pushing Jisung down onto the hammock below him. Jisung looks up at him, having brief déjà vu of a similar, but reversed moment. All such thoughts erase from the boy’s mind, however, as he examines the look in Minho’s eyes and recognizes the look of uncertainty.

Minho then, instead of taking it further, just joins Jisung in the hammock, merely laying down next to him and pulling the smaller against his chest.

“Minho?” Jisung speaks up after the older remains quiet for a bit too long. 

“I think I might like you more than I should, Jisung,” was all he managed in response. Jisung’s heart skipped a beat. The fact that Minho had actually not only kissed him back just now but was also possibly admitting to having feelings for him, made the situation even more real. He pulled away from Minho’s chest and came to eye level with his hyung. 

“I-I think I might like you too much, too, hyung.”

Minho sat up abruptly causing Jisung’s heart to race in nervousness again. 

“But why? How? No one has ever cared about me, so how could you?” his voice cracked a bit as he asked the question that suffocated himself every day: how could anyone like him, an abomination whose own parents couldn’t even bare to live with? The only other people who had cared for him ended up betraying him. “You’re lying.”

“No I’m not!” Jisung shouted as he raised himself up as well. “I d-don’t know either why I like you so much. All I know is that from the moment I saw you, the world has been normal for the first time since my parents died.” He wrapped his arms around Minho’s waist from behind. “Ever since I started talking to you, started learning about you, I have valued every new bit of information you let me know as if it were a national secret.” He rests his head against the center of the older’s shoulder. “All I know is that when I was scared and afraid of my nightmares, it was your warmth that finally calmed me down,” Jisung paused for a moment, the next sound that escaped his mouth was that of a muffled sob. Minho’s entire body stiffened. 

“All I know is that if you don’t believe that my feelings are true and I am left alone again, I don’t think I will be able to ever feel okay.” And the sobs continued to flow. 

The pit of Minho’s stomach tightened painfully. He didn’t mean to make the younger cry, and he certainly didn’t want it. Minho gently grabbed onto Jisung’s arms around his waist and struggled to disconnect them since Jisung was stronger than he seemed. The volume of Jisung’s sobs increased as he didn’t want to let go, but was relieved when he felt Minho pull him to the edge of the hammock with him, and wrap him into the biggest hug. 

“I’m sorry, Ji. I don’t want my own insecurities to ever make you cry. I’ve never had anyone truly care about me for me before, but I suppose the reason I like you so much is that I can feel potential with you.” Jisung sobbed even louder as he heard those words spoken by Minho’s melodic voice. 

 “Please don’t cry anymore.” Minho separated them just enough so that he could look into Jisung’s dark eyes that still managed to be beautiful despite their red and puffy state. “I’m not going to leave you alone.”  

Then he reconnected their lips for the third time, but this time, it wasn’t driven by desire. It was one that was soft and filled with reassurance.