Namjoon opened the front door with his airpods lodged firmly in his ears and his music blasting at a satisfying pitch … and everything went to hell.
The second he stepped over the threshold, he knew that something was wrong. It was too quiet for a house that was meant to be filled with six people. The silence was so loud that it was almost painful, suffocating, crushing. And Namjoon just knew something awful had happened.
There was a muffled scream from the living room and the duffel bag slipped between the leader’s fingers to crash onto the hallway carpet with a dull thud as he lunged for the door on his right and stumbled onto the scene that would haunt his nightmares.
Jimin was there.
The kid was wriggling on a chair from the kitchen table, his hands bound behind his back and his feet strapped to the wooden structure. He didn’t look injured at first glance, no sign of blood or bruise on his panicking body, but there were tears streaming from powderpuff eyes to glide gracefully over the duct tape plastered over his mouth.
“Oh my God,” Namjoon breathed as he staggered forwards, dropping to his knees at his little brother’s side to rip the greyish gag off his tear-soaked face. “Are you okay? What the fuck happened?”
Jimin couldn’t respond through his sobs, finally able to let them out without a strip of adhesion containing them inside him. His chin dropped to his chest and his entire body trembled and shook as his shoulders heaved and his lips quivered with residual terror.
“Chim …” Namjoon pushed, taking the little boy’s face in his hands and trying to pull his head up so their eyes could meet. “Are you hurt?”
Jimin finally managed to shake his head in response and only then did Namjoon work on the bindings keeping him fixed to the chair. They were expertly tied, the ropes weaving around each other as they snaked up the kid’s wrists to ensure he could barely move an inch without suffering terrible pain in his shoulders and elbows.
“What happened?” the leader repeated as he continued to pick at the knots, trying to block out the sound of Jimin’s cries as he worked. “Who did this? Where are the others?”
“Men …” Jimin squeaked through sobs, sniffing at the snot he was unable to wipe away due to the restraints Namjoon was still struggling to loosen. “Men came … Took … Took Yoongi-hyung and … and Jungkook …”
Namjoon froze, his breath catching in his throat as his entire body seemed to turn to ice.
Someone had broken into their dorm. Had attacked Jimin. Had taken Yoongi and Jungkook. And he hadn’t been here. Their leader had been at a stupid, insignificant conference meeting with his management company, discussing something irrelevant that could have been decided without him being present.
If he’d been here, he could have stopped it. He could have saved Yoongi and Jungkook.
“Where are the others?” he choked out, forcing himself to continue with his interrogation as he finally released Jimin’s hands and swivelled back around to the front of the chair to work on his feet. “Jimin, where are the others? Hobi? Jin-hyung? Tae?”
He was getting desperate but as the final rope fell limply to the ground and Jimin fastened his arms around his leader’s neck, Namjoon realised that he wasn’t going to be getting anything else out of him until he’d calmed down.
“Chim, breathe with me,” he soothed, rubbing his hand up and down Jimin’s back as the boy buried his nose in his hyung’s neck and soaked the skin with tears. “Breathe slowly, Chimmie. In and out. That’s it. In and out.”
At long last, Jimin seemed to succumb to exhaustion and his hyperventilation sputtered into soft whimpers, but he did relinquish his hold on Namjoon so the two of them could move over to the sofa, away from that chair.
“Jimin,” the leader said for what felt like the thousandth time. “Please tell me where the others are.”
“Upstairs,” was the glorified answer he finally received.
“Okay … Okay … stay here.”
Namjoon leapt to his feet, starting towards the stairs but Jimin’s hand shot out to fasten a death grip on his hyung’s wrist. The look in his dongsaeng’s eyes broke his heart: that terror, the desperation that screamed please don’t leave me.
“I’ll be right back,” Namjoon promised, reaching down to wipe a stray tear from Jimin’s face. “I promise, Jimin, I’ll be right back.”
He didn’t let himself look back at the snivelling figure on the couch as he pounded up the stairs, his heart rate charging at a billion miles per hour as his mind was picturing whatever horrors would await him in whichever room these monsters had stuffed his members.
There had been no sounds since he’d arrived. Jimin had been able to call out to him, albeit with difficulty, but he had been conscious and unhurt. Neither Taehyung, Hoseok nor Seokjin had made a single noise and that was the most terrifying thing of all.
Except for the knowledge that Yoongi and Jungkook were gone.
He tried two rooms before he hit the most gruesome jackpot he had ever been awarded with. It was all he could do to keep his breakfast down because the sight he was presented with was so far from “pretty” that it was coming back round the other side.
Hoseok was slumped against the bed, eyes closed, skin greying and breathing shallow. The only oxygen capable of filtering into his airway entered through his nose due to the cloth that was bound around his head, slipping in between his teeth and pushing his tongue to the back of his mouth. Just like Jimin, his hands were tied behind his back and his feet were trussed at the ankles, preventing any escape attempt.
It chilled Namjoon to the bone, thinking someone could have done that to another human being, and he found himself silently praying to a God he had never really believed in as he flung himself on the ground beside Hoseok’s prone body, fingers scrabbling for a pulse at his throat.
He almost screamed when his friend’s eyes snapped open and his entire body jerked with terror as it tried to scoot away from the hands that roamed over it without permission. His eyes were wide, slightly unfocused, and it was only when Namjoon registered the trickle of blood sourcing a stream from his hairline that he realised Hoseok probably didn’t recognise him.
“Hobi!” he cried out, taking the injured boy by the shoulders and trying to hold him still. “Calm down, Hobi! It’s just me! It’s okay!”
Hoseok finally seemed to process the current state of events he was in and his eyes fluttered closed as a groan of pain rumbled from deep within his throat. Namjoon wasted no time in ripping the gag from his mouth and pulling him into his chest so that he could reach behind him and untie his hands.
“You’re alright, Hobi,” he whispered. “I’m right here. You’re just fine. You’re okay.”
“Ji …” came Hoseok’s feeble retort, words slurred and unclear before he tried again. “Jin … Jin … Jin … Jin …”
The knots gave around his wrists and his arms flopped uselessly to his sides, head still resting against Namjoon’s chest in his concussed weakness but now there was a new kind of fear in the leader’s gut. Why was Hoseok repeating Jin’s name?
“Hobi, where’s Jin-hyung?” he pressed urgently, taking Hoseok’s face in his hands and giving it as gentle a shake as he could while still trying to jerk him back to reality. The guilt was paramount. Hoseok was hurt, confused and in pain but Namjoon couldn’t call an ambulance until he knew where the others were. “Tell me where Jin-hyung is, Hobi!”
Namjoon turned in the direction Hoseok seemed to be trying to indicate with a head that kept rolling lifelessly on his shoulders, and an audible cry of horror slid from his throat, his body plunged into icy temperatures.
“Oh, God …”
Jin was lying on the floor with his back against the wall and his chin tilted upwards, exposing the paper white skin of his throat. His eyes were closed, his body completely motionless, his fingers gently curled from where his hands were stretching out across the carpet, as though they had been reaching for Hoseok. He wasn’t tied up like the others were, and now Namjoon could see why.
The front of his shirt was drenched in blood.
Namjoon propelled himself across the floor, panicked voice rising at least an octave as he screamed his brother’s name. His hand slid beneath Jin’s head as he lifted it into his lap, eyes roaming jerkily over the lifeless body in search for the source of the scarlet swamp he now realised was slowly seeping through the rug.
“Hyung, open your eyes! Please, hyung, open your eyes!”
Jin made no response, not even an acknowledgement of Namjoon’s existence and the leader found himself instinctively drawn to the eldest’s shirt as he wrenched it upwards and had to resist the urge to vomit.
Two slices in porcelain skin, leaking bodily fluid in a steady stream of scarlet poison, were carved into Jin’s stomach. He’d been stabbed. Twice.
“JIMIN!” Namjoon bellowed, tears pricking his eyes as he clamped a hand down on the wounds and tried not to think about the sticky substance that dribbled over his fingers. “JIMIN, I NEED YOU!”
He shot a glance over his shoulder to check on Hoseok and felt his heart lurch when he saw his friend had keeled over onto the floor, feet still bound, finally succumbing to the unconsciousness his concussed state had craved. Namjoon could see his chest rising and falling with shallow breaths, but that was the only indication he had that Hoseok was still alive.
His attention returned to the man he cradled in his arms like the world would end if he let go, his mind racing, his stomach somersaulting, his tongue burning in his throat.
Yoongi had been taken. Jungkook had been taken. Jin had been stabbed. Hoseok was unconscious. Jimin wasn’t responding to his cries. And he still had no idea where Taehyung was.
“Jimin, please,” he was begging, voice barely above a whisper now as Jin’s head lolled lifelessly in the crook of his arm. “Please, Jimin.”
And then Jimin staggered into the room, his face paper white and his footsteps unsteady. He was hyperventilating, cradling his bruised wrists to his chest and there was a dribble of vomit at the corner of his mouth. He took one look at the sight before him and lunged back into the hallway to empty the remaining contents of his stomach onto the floor.
“Jimin, call an ambulance!” Namjoon pleaded, unable to see through tears and unable to move to wipe them away due to the pressure he was applying to Jin’s abdomen. “Please, Jimin, I need you!”
Now he was hysterical, unable to process everything that had happened in the last ten minutes, and for a terrifying moment of brief panic, he thought that Jimin wasn’t going to come through. But then the kid was crawling towards him, face drenched with fresh tears, and phone clutched to his ear.
“Hobi …” Namjoon choked, pointing desperately over at Hoseok’s unconscious body. “Check on Hobi …”
Jimin nodded as the call finally connected and he started whimpering down the line to the 119 operator, free hand clasping at Hoseok’s face in an attempt to shake him awake. It had no effect.
“I need help,” he was crying into the speaker as Namjoon closed his eyes and prayed harder than he had ever prayed in 25 years. “We … We were attacked … My friends are hurt … Two of them are gone … I … No, they’re breathing but … Jin-hyung’s bleeding and Hobi-hyung won’t wake up and … Yes, now, please … I don’t know where Tae is … please help us … please …”
“Please help us,” Namjoon repeated as he pulled Jin’s head into the crook of his neck and held him as tightly as he could in the hopes that he could just take all of his hyung’s pain. “Please help us.”