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It’s never pretty; it doesn’t matter he has been doing this for years.

Actually, he doesn’t even remember the first time he woke up in a new sleeve.

It fucking hurt the same as it does now, probably.

It doesn’t matter how many times he changes his sleeve. He could do it once a week and still feel like he has been beaten up for hours when he wakes up after the replace.

This time, he didn’t change sleeve because he wanted to, but because someone thought he would’ve died for real just with a bullet in his head. How naive.

Jeon Jeongguk is one of the Four Drug Lords, not a grounder. He lives in a skyscraper above the clouds, not underground in a shitty hole. He can’t be killed that easily. Changing a sleeve means nothing to him.

Though, if Yoongi put him inside an old man body like he did the last time someone damaged his sleeve, Jeongguk is going to cut into pieces the sleeve that Yoongi is in now, since he likes it so much, and finally get his revenge. He’d do him a favour anyway. He’s so short that he doesn’t look like one of the Four Drug Lords at all.

Also, he hopes no one is there. They know he hates changing sleeve, that he’s cranky and doesn’t want to talk with anyone for at least a day. First, he needs to get used to the new body, then, everything else.

“Gukkie, we know you’re awake.”

They must do it on purpose, is that hard to understand they have to leave him alone?

“Open your fucking eyes, Jeongguk.”

Seriously, Jeongguk’s going to cut Yoongi’s dick so Jimin will leave him and won’t be a bother to him anymore.

“Still, you keep doing this every fucking time,” are his first words; at least his voice doesn’t seem like an old man’s one.

“I hate you, ungrateful son of a bitch,” Jimin keeps saying, he’s close, maybe he’s even sitting on his bed.

“Watch your mouth, you—”

Jimin slaps him on the chest, hard, making him hiss, he’s going to ruin his pretty face.

“Please, kids, stop.”

Fucking great, Seokjin, too. Did his bedroom become a meeting room, now?

He still has his eyes closed and he really doesn’t want to open them if it means he has to see the others.

“Why are you here? I can hear Yoongi breathing on my neck.”

“It’s hyung, brat,” Yoongi’s voice, indeed, comes from somewhere close to his right side; he’s not dead, they don’t need to sit all around his bed and cry for him.

“It’s hundreds of years and you still want me to call you hyung, really?”

Maybe Yoongi’s older than him, several years older, but they’ve known each other for almost two hundred years, he should stop with it.

“You look like a fucking kid in this sleeve, so one more reason,” Yoongi replies, mirth in his voice, making the others laugh.

He’s going to kill them slowly when he’ll be able to get up on his feet, he’s going to cut their sleeves apart and then place their stacks inside old and ugly bodies. He’ll see who will be the one speaking with mirth in their voice and laughing, then.

“If you put me into some eighteen years old boy, I swear to God—”

“God doesn’t exist.” Namjoon, too. Great.

“I will blow your stacks up before the back-up happens so you’ll forget about it and I—”

“Okay, Jeongguk, we understood,” Hoseok stops him. Why not another person? His bedroom is big, five people is not enough.

“You look pretty handsome, you should be happy,” it’s Seokjin who speaks this time; not even ten minutes he’s back and he already wants to sleep for an entire week.

He hasn’t even opened his eyes yet, what the fuck?!

“I’m going to open my eyes and if I don’t like the sleeve I see, you better run,” Jeongguk warns them, not like they will actually do it, but whatever.

He opens his eyes, slowly, at least the light in the room isn’t bright and luckily, the first thing he sees is not Jimin’s face but his sleeve reflected in the mirror above his head, on the ceiling.

There is only a pair of black boxers covering him, while the rest of his body is on display. The sleeve is built, but not too much, slender muscles everywhere, arms, legs, abdomen; that’s good, he will put them to good use. Then, he moves his eyes on the face, he doesn’t look eighteen years old, but he’s still young, his old sleeve was thirty-five, this one probably is ten years younger. However, he likes it.

“Why did you choose a Korean sleeve? You did it on purpose so I’d have looked the younger, right?”

“Jeongguk, we all are Korean. It was time to have one as sleeve and stop trying with each kind,” Namjoon replies, walking closer to his bed, his locks are dishevelled; weird.

Then, he looks around himself; Jimin is sitting by his side on the bed, he has a tiny smile on his face, but he looks worried. After, he glances at Seokjin, he’s holding one of Namjoon’s hands, worry in his eyes.

Yoongi looks so tired, messy hair and wrinkled clothes; Hoseok is holding himself up against the wall, as if he would crumble down on the floor if he wasn’t leaning on it, he’s not smiling, serious expression on his face.

“What?” Jeongguk blurts out, it’s creepy, they’re not being their usual self.

“You remember what happened?” Jimin speaks, always him when something is not right. They can bicker each hour of the day, but he’s one of the few people who can tell him things in the right way and not make him angry.

“Yeah, some fucker shot me... Hope he’s dead, now. Why? Is something wrong?”

Jimin diverts his eyes from him to look at Yoongi, as if he wants to ask for a permission to speak, since when does this happen? Yoongi could even have bought Jimin from the prostitution market and freed him, but that was years ago, they’re past that; Jimin talks how much he wants, even when he shouldn’t.

“What?” he asks again, this time though, he looks at everyone, one by one.

They’re hiding something.

“Does the name Taehyung tell you something?”

Jeongguk wants to know what happened the night they damaged his sleeve, not to answer questions.

“What— No, Jimin, I don’t. Why? Was him the guy who shot me?”

Jimin shakes his head. “No, no, it was someone else. The one who shot you is dead for real, you don’t need to worry.”

“Who’s Taehyung, then?” he asks out of curiosity, the name doesn’t tell him anything, doesn’t ring any bell, but from the others’ reaction, it seems like it should, or they wouldn’t have asked about it.

“No one, sweetheart,” Jimin replies, the same smile on his lips and a weird feeling in his eyes, is it sadness? It can’t be.

“Don’t call me that, you know I don’t like it,” he argues back without realising what he’s saying, but once he thinks about his words, he can’t find a reason why he doesn’t, it’s like his brain knows he doesn’t like being called sweetheart, but can’t find the actual reason.

Jeongguk doesn’t know what’s happening, he’s so confused, maybe he’s sleeve-sick, he just needs to sleep it off and everything will go back to normal when he’ll wake up again.

“Yeah, right, you never like when they call you that,” Jimin sounds sad, but before Jeongguk can ask something else they’re all getting out of the room, telling him to rest, leaving him alone with so many unanswered questions and a name playing again and again in his head.

Taehyung.

Why does he feel like he should know him? As if he has said the name so many times that he hasn’t just forgotten how to pronounce it correctly, but also who it belongs to.

 

 

•••

 

 

Seoul is not just a city. It is not just high buildings, roads, people walking back and forth as if their life depends on it, as if they stopped for a second, then everything else would, too.

Seoul is not just a city, it’s their city, his city. It’s Toksa’s. The Four Drug Lords control it.

Even after all these years, Jeongguk doesn’t know how he feels about Seoul; sometimes, he loves it; sometimes, he hates it, wishes he could erase it, let each building become dust. Sometimes, he’s scared of it, even if it’s his. Knows that deep down, it controls them, without Seoul they would be nothing. Just like without each other.

Hoseok says that Seoul has its own mind, its own voice, that’s why you can’t control it, and Jeongguk believes it, has lived many years between its streets, seen it with his own eyes.

Even so, Seoul lets them know about things that shouldn’t happen, it tells them, always, no matter what. There has been just one time it hasn’t, and Jeongguk doesn’t understand why Seoul didn’t tell them someone wanted to kill him, why it didn’t speak, not even a single word.

There’s no way it didn’t know, that it didn’t hear even just a whisper about it. Above all, the fact Jeongguk doesn’t remember what exactly happened doesn’t help. He remembers the noise of a gun going off, but it’s far, and that he wasn’t expecting it to happen, so it must mean Seoul stayed silent for real.

He really didn’t imagine someone would’ve shot him, it must be why they actually were able to do it. Jeongguk doesn’t remember where it happened; wonders how’s possible that they damaged his sleeve, but not destroyed his stack. If he couldn’t do anything to prevent it, why didn’t they do it? Why didn’t they kill him for real?

It’s so frustrating; Jeongguk wants to remember, even the smallest things, but he can’t, he just can’t and it infuriates him.

Yoongi told him to give it some time, slowly his stack is getting accustomed to the new sleeve. He will remember soon, but he also told him there’s a chance he won’t, that the shock was so strong he won’t be able to remember.

Jeongguk understands that, but it should be just related to the moments before getting shot, instead, he can’t remember the whole day. It’s like there’s a black hole in his memories and the memory of that day got completely sucked into it.

Besides, it’s not just that, even after some days he woke up, he still feels on edge, as if something will happen. Jeongguk feels like a ticking bomb, but he doesn’t know when he’ll go off, and it just makes him want to cry and scream, to rip his hair out because he’s so frustrated.

Everything feels like it doesn’t make sense anymore, all his memories are a mess; he can remember basic stuff, that he’s almost three hundred years old, his parents, his childhood house, the way he became a Drug Lord, but then, if he tries to think about actual moments of his life, he can’t recall them exactly, especially the ones that probably happened in the last years. They’re all blurred, a tangled string impossible to unravel.

Jeongguk has changed his sleeve many times, knows sometimes conscience and mind need some time to adjust, but that has never happened to him, and even if it does, everything goes back in place after a couple of days.

The fact that it hasn’t happened yet makes him believe it won’t anymore, that it will be like this forever, feeling a bit of a stranger in his own mind. It scares him, it really does.

Jeongguk is clueless, doesn’t really know what to do, so with his eyes fixed on the ceiling of his bedroom, just like each night since the moment he woke up, lets all his stored frustration leave his body through bitter tears, sobbing silently. Wishes to wake up and find out it was just a nightmare, that he’s still in his previous sleeve and no one tried to kill him. That Seoul is still the same and Jeongguk is still the same Jeon Jeongguk, a Drug Lord, not Jeon Jeongguk, a stranger to himself.

 

 

•••

 

 

After that night, Jeongguk has tried to busy himself with catching up on everything he missed on while he was put on ice waiting for a new sleeve. He talked to Jimin about the night he has been killed, or more precisely, when his sleeve has been damaged, since he can’t remember anything. The other has told him it was a grounder, someone sent from the Kishin, their only rival gang in the city; the other has also told him Yoongi killed the guy for real and sent the body to the Kishin, as a warning.

Honestly, Jeongguk doesn’t remember all of that, not even remotely the grounder’s face, but after those words, he remembered the pain, like someone was craving his heart out of his chest, and another feeling he couldn’t give a name to, maybe sadness, but for what?

It’s as if the last day in his old sleeve got erased from his stack, but it’s impossible because his stack didn’t get destroyed, so Namjoon didn’t back him up in a new one, they just have changed his sleeve; Jimin has told him that, too.

The problem is that more he thinks about it, more he realises there is something off, like there’s something the others don’t want him to know. It feels like there is a missing piece to complete the puzzle and without, he can’t see the picture, can’t understand it.

They talk to him as if he’s going to explode anytime soon, treat him like he’s sick, which he was, but only for the first three days, needing more time to get used to the new sleeve.

It’s been a week and they still ask him how he’s feeling, which is totally unusual.

They’re all really good at lying, but if he wants to, Jeongguk can trick them into saying what he wants to know. Though, it doesn’t always work with the others because they understand quickly what he’s doing.

Jeongguk has the occasion to do something when Jimin appears in his building, just checking you’re not sleeping for the entire day, which is probably a lie, Jimin’s not there for that, but he lets it pass.

“Why are you looking at me like that?”

They’re both in his office, the one placed on the last floor, from which he can see the only other three buildings towering over Seoul, Yoongi’s, Hoseok’s and Namjoon’s.

“I was thinking,” Jeongguk says, getting up from his seat to join Jimin near the fire, pouring himself a glass of whiskey before he sits in front of the other.

“If you didn’t, you’d be on ice or dead,” Jimin replies, moving his bare feet under his thighs, making himself small enough to fit in the armchair.

Jimin hasn’t always been like he’s now, fearless, proud and fierce; Jeongguk still remembers the first time he met him, and he knows he won’t ever forget it. They were at Teflon, a dead man on the floor and Jimin’s sleeve covered in bruises, Yoongi’s jacket covering his trembling body.

Jeongguk knew what Jimin was, a prostitute, and everyone knew that Yoongi was his only chance of freedom; love has saved Jimin.

“Gukkie?” Jimin calls him, getting him out of his stream of thoughts, Jeongguk clears his throat, taking a sip of whiskey; Hoseok’s gift for his sleeve-change.

“Sorry,” he says, moving his eyes back on the other. “I was just thinking about something that has been on my mind since I came back,” he lies, and even if it’s almost unnoticeable, Jeongguk catches the slight movement of Jimin’s shoulders, how tense they get for only a brief second.

“What about it?” Jimin is looking back at him, confident, but there is something in his eyes that betrays him, something he almost never sees in the other: fear.

“My stack didn’t get destroyed, so I should remember everything that happened, but I don’t and it bugs me... I know Yoongi killed the guy, but I wish I could remember his face,” he says, it’s not what he was thinking about when Jimin asked, however, he has found himself thinking about that often.

It has never happened that after changing his sleeve, he didn’t remember something, everything was always clear until the last second, so saying Jeongguk’s trying to find an explanation in every way possible is an understatement.

“I don’t know, Gukkie, the expert is Namjoon, and he couldn’t give you an explanation neither, so I really don’t know what to say, sometimes it just happens, maybe it’s the shock of getting a bullet in your head... who knows,” Jimin replies, and to Jeongguk it doesn’t seem like Jimin doesn’t know, but like he had an answer ready to that kind of question, like he had already thought about what to tell him and had learnt the answer by heart.

That’s why Jeongguk keeps talking, because he’s sure Jimin is hiding something. “I’ve done some researches, but the only thing that came up was that something like this happens only when your stack gets destroyed and since you couldn’t have everything backed up, something got lost in the process of storing the data intp another stack. Also, since it’s illegal, it wouldn’t have been so easy to create a new stack, even if it’s Namjoon, would’ve required many more days than the ones I passed on ice.”  

Jeongguk observes Jimin for the whole time he speaks, the other has his head leaned on his hand, elbow placed on the armrest. If someone who doesn’t know Jimin would enter and look at him, they would say he’s the personification of calmness, but Jeongguk would deny them. Even if he hasn’t known him for that long and the sleeve can change, the way he acts in certain situations doesn’t.

Jimin smiles. “Why are you so obsessed with this?” are the only words that leave the other’s plump lips. He doesn’t comment on the whole back-up matter, as if he’s trying to avoid it, diverting the talk on Jeongguk.

“I’m just curious. Next time, I don’t want to wake up in a new sleeve and don’t remember things, maybe important ones,” he lies; absolutely not the true reason.

“Silly, you won’t forget how much you love me, don’t worry, baby.”

It’s done, they won’t go back on that talk, Jimin won’t let him, which means that now he’s sure they’re hiding something and it’s not irrelevant, but what? What could it be that even Jimin is afraid to talk about it?

Jeongguk will act as if everything’s alright, but he won’t forget about it, time is the only thing he needs to find out what it is, and he has plenty of that. He grunts, then sighs. “When will you stop with those names. I hate them and Yoongi could get jealous.”

Jimin giggles, eyes closing into small moon crescents, crooked tooth showing, he has been in this sleeve for some years and it really fits him, Jeongguk hopes he won’t change it anytime soon, he’d miss this cute and tiny Jimin.

“You’re my baby no matter what, especially in this sleeve. Did you notice that when you smile you look like a cute bunny?”

Jeongguk did notice it and it kind of put him in a bad mood, maybe the only aspect he doesn’t like about the sleeve, and of course, Jimin noticed it, too.

“Yeah, I did, but I’m still taller than you.”

“Keep telling yourself that if it strokes your ego, always remember I’ve seen you cry because of a sleeve,” Jimin tells him, trying not to laugh, what an asshole.

“That,” Jeongguk says, already feeling his blood boil, “was your boyfriend’s fault. He fucking put me inside an eighty years old! My whole body hurt!”

Jimin bursts into laughters, bending his body so much that Jeongguk’s afraid he could break. Even if thinking about the situation after so many years makes him want to smile, he keeps his pissed off face on; he will get his revenge sooner or later.

Jeongguk gulps down the whiskey left while he waits for Jimin to calm down, there are even tears pooled around the corner of his eyes.

“I wanted to ask you something else,” he starts talking again and Jimin immediately sobers up, moving his feet on one of the armrests and his head on the other. Yoongi doesn’t lie when he says Jimin is really flexible, even if Yoongi’s words have a sexual meaning Jeongguk ignores most of the time.

“Yeah?”

“It’s about that Taehyung you asked me about. I feel like I should know him, but I don’t,” he says, looking at the fire. In reality, the fire’s not necessary, the entire building has always the same temperature and it changes following the seasons, it’s more like a decoration, it goes well with the entirety of his office.

“We don’t know him either, the guy who damaged your sleeve said some names, and some were of the Kishin probably, low-rank members, but this Taehyung? We don’t know him, so we thought you could’ve known him. I guess it’s just someone of their gang, the guy was just trying to save his ass giving us names we already know,” Jimin explains and Jeongguk actually believes him, it doesn’t look like he’s hiding something or lying, his voice is really calm.

Also, he doesn’t see why Jimin should lie about this, it’s not like he knows someone named Taehyung.

Jeongguk can stop worrying about something at least, and concentrate on the reason why he doesn’t remember anything about that night.

He sends Jimin a glance, the other has both his eyes closed, but Jeongguk doesn’t even have the time to bat his eyelashes that Jimin opens only one eye. “What?”

“You look good today, hyung.”

It’s no secret Jimin looks pretty in this sleeve, blonde locks adorning his face, a slim body, muscled and toned just enough. Before being a prostitute, Jimin was a dancer, but even after Yoongi freed him, he didn’t go back to dance, not until some years ago. Jeongguk doesn’t know why the other has waited for so long, Jimin never speaks about it, and Jeongguk learnt not to ask, even if sometimes, he really wants to.

Today, Jimin’s wearing a loose white shirt, first buttons open, tucked inside some pastel light blue pants, and of course, he’s not wearing shoes, almost like each day. He says not wearing shoes gives him freedom, and no one dares to argue back, understanding the deeper meaning behind his words.

Jimin looks at him with an eyebrow raised, both eyes open.

“I’m not joking, hyung. I like this outfit, you look pretty,” he keeps complimenting him; they can bicker, but they both know they love each other, so maybe once in a lifetime, it can happen nice words leave their mouths.

“Thanks, Gukkie, but don’t say those things in front of Yoongi, you know how he gets grumpy when he’s not the one making my cheeks blush with compliments,” Jimin tells him, cheeks dusted red, indeed.

“Yeah, I know, I know.”

Jimin chuckles while he gets up, walking by his side and ruffling his hair. “I have to go, now, but I’ll see you soon, ‘kay? Don’t get into troubles, honey.”

It’s Jeongguk’s turn to chuckle. “You know I’m a good boy,” he just replies, following Jimin with his eyes while the other walks out of his office, a sure, a good baby, as his last words.

As a matter of years, Jimin is the one Jeongguk has known for lesser years than the others, but it feels like they’ve known each other since forever.

Jimin is the one who knows him the best, not like he’s not close to the others, but with Jimin, it’s just different.

Jeongguk has built an empire with Yoongi, Hoseok and Namjoon, they have worked hard to be where they are now, they have lost a lot, almost died several times to become the most feared and respected men of Seoul, they’re not called the Four Drug Lords for nothing or only because they control the traffic of everything in the city and almost in all the country. They’re called like that because Seoul would crumble without them, there wouldn’t be peace and order, just caos.  

Jeongguk had to learn that if he wanted to arrive far, he had to trust them no matter what, even if he didn’t know them well, even if they could’ve betrayed him in each occasion, they all had to close their eyes and believe no one wouldn’t have let one of them drown.

Seokjin was already with Namjoon when Jeongguk met him, so as the trust for Namjoon had been there, the same had happened with Seokjin.

For Jimin, it was completely different.

At first, Jeongguk hadn’t trusted Jimin, at all. He thought he had tricked Yoongi in some twisted game to get himself free and that he would’ve ruined the other until it would’ve remained just a broken version of the man they knew.

Of course, that didn’t happen and after more time than necessary, Jeongguk had gotten to really see who Jimin was and felt ashamed for thinking Jimin only wanted to break Yoongi.

Perhaps, that’s why it’s different with Jimin, he hadn’t trusted him because he had to, because it meant living a day more, but he had gotten to trust him slowly, let their bond grow and become stronger each day passing, unbreakable.

At the end, though, they all are his family, his only family, and Jeongguk would actually die for real if it meant he would protect them.

 


•••

 

 

Yoongi enters the hall of the ground floor the same moment Jeongguk steps out of the elevator, fixing a sleeve of his leather jacket; Jimin made him notice this sleeve looks good in leather jackets and ripped jeans and he couldn’t deny it, especially if he ties the longer strands of his hair back, too.

Jeongguk isn’t surprised to find the other there, but he can’t say the exact thing for Yoongi, because he halts in his steps, looking at him in a strange way. “Where are you going?” he asks, furrowed brow.

“I didn’t know you were my father,” Jeongguk jokes, walking towards him.

Yoongi scoffs, still waiting for an answer, so Jeongguk gives him one with a smirk on his face. “Going to fuck at one of our brothels, wanna come?”

Jeongguk walks past him to get out, his car already waiting for him.

“Don’t go to Teflon,” are the last words he hears from the other before he gets in the car, to which he just replies with a laugh.

And of course, he will go to Teflon.

Everyone knows it’s his favourite. It will be his first fuck in this sleeve, he can’t go somewhere else.

Teflon has always been the best brothel of Seoul, everyone knows that, but at the same time, not everyone can afford spending the night with the best prostitutes of the city, to pay for special treatments, to pay even for a new sleeve in case they damage one past the limits.

Jeongguk doesn’t need to pay for anything, he could kill one of them and no one would say anything. It’s just how it is, how it has always been, even before Toksa took control.

As soon as he’s in front of the entrance, Jeongguk stops the car, knowing a valet will take care of it. Each person greets him with a bow the moment he gets out, it’s his first time there with the new sleeve, but not for his car, they all know who he is. 

A bouncer opens the door for him and Jeongguk enters inside the hall, welcomed by a delicate smell of roses and by a beautiful girl standing behind the counter on his right.

It feels like it’s been years from the last time he has visited Teflon, every memory about it smudged, hard to recall.

“How can I help you, sir?” the girl asks in a sultry voice, drawing his attention away from the white marbled staircase in front of him.

“I want the best you have.”

He’s trying to remember who’s the one he used to choose, but he can’t, as if it’s been completely erased from his memories.

“Lucky you. The best we have is free for the whole night, do you want to book him?”

Jeongguk nods, pressing his thumb on the screen placed on the counter.

It’s funny to look at the realisation his name brings on people’s faces, especially after he has changed his sleeve and most of them don’t know who he is yet.

The girl’s cheeks go red as soon as she reads his name beside his thumb, looking up at him with wide eyes.

“I’m sorry, Lord Jeon, I didn’t—”

“It’s okay, honey. Don’t worry,” Jeongguk stops her, shakes his head with a smile on his face. “Can I ask you not to interrupt me for any reason?”

The girl nods energetically, even bows. “Of course, Lord Jeon. Enjoy your night.”

Jeongguk walks away without replying, directed to the elevators, if it’s the best they have, it means he has to go to the top floor, where the biggest suite is.

Once the elevator doors open on the suite, Jeongguk’s greeted with the sight of a nocturnal Seoul out of the glass window walls, neon lights in the dark, high buildings hiding the moon and the figure of a body lighted by a faded purple light that invades the whole bedroom.

He’s sitting on the bed, giving Jeongguk his back, shoulders half-covered by a thin transparent robe that completely slipped from one shoulder to his elbow; small tattooed flowers adorning his bare skin.

The purple light makes his hair look a strange shade of red, almost bloody. Jeongguk’s sure it’s a fire red, instead, vibrant.  

“Are you going to remain there all night?” the boy speaks, voice deep and sensual, not turning around, but Jeongguk can see he’s looking at him through the reflection of the glass window.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply, takes his jacket off, placing it on a chair near a small desk, on which he leaves his phone too, turned off.

“What’s your name?”

The boy hasn’t moved yet. “Sweetheart.”

“Your real name,” Jeongguk adds; he probably will forget it soon, but he doesn’t like that one, the way the other said it.

“Who’s asking?”

“Lord Jeon.”

The light isn’t enough to illuminate the whole room, some parts of it are left in the dark, and so is the boy’s body, there are shadows playing on it, but Jeongguk catches the shiver going through the entirety of the other’s back, notices the muscles under his shoulders go tense.

Jeongguk loves what his name does to others. What Toksa does.

The boy remains still, doesn’t speak, just breathes loudly, the only sound in the silence of the room.

“Are you scared?” Jeongguk asks, then slowly walks closer to the bed. The flowers tattooed on his skin are cherry blossoms, they start from behind his ear and finish on the inner part of his elbow, going around his arm, some cover the back of his shoulder too, they’re tiny, delicate, the black ink almost invisible. There are other flowers on his thigh, but he can’t see them clearly.

The other doesn’t answer, at his words, he has just moved his hands on the sheets, gripping the silk between his fingers.

“I won’t hurt you, I promise.”

Jeongguk may have killed people, hurt many men, tortured them; the difference between them and the boy, though, is that they deserved it, they always bring it on themselves.

He won’t hurt the other if he doesn’t want it, if he doesn’t ask for it.

“It’s not that,” the boy says, almost whispers, but his voice betrays him, he sounds frightened. “I’ve never been with someone like you.”

Jeongguk chuckles, sitting on the bed, wondering if it’s the first time someone has told those words directly to him without fearing his reaction. “I’m no different from each man you’ve been with. You don’t have to worry about that, love.”

Jeongguk hasn’t still seen his face, so he lifts his hand, slowly, and grabs the boy’s chin, turning his head around.

The first thing Jeongguk thinks is that the boy’s beautiful, ethereal.

He has his eyes closed, long lashes touching his cheekbones; bangs gently pulled back behind his ear, plump lips slightly parted, a tiny white J tattooed under the corner of his left eye.

J?” he asks, thumb delicately brushing against it.

The boy opens his eyes, blinking many times. Jeongguk fixes his eyes into his, clear, but sad.

“Someone,” the boy whispers, then, wraps his arms around his torso, both hands gripping the sides of his robe.

“They must be really lucky if they’re so important that you always carry them with you.”

“He was.”

The boy looks away, out of the window, Jeongguk sees tears forming in his eyes and he wonders why if he was so important, the boy is still there, why he didn’t free him.

“What do you want?” the other asks, moving his eyes back on Jeongguk, they’re glassy, but the tears are gone. Question asked as if he doesn’t actually know what Jeongguk wants.

Jeongguk smiles, doesn’t mind how he’s talking to him. “Your name.”

“I don’t tell my name to strangers,” he immediately replies, chin slightly up, as if he’s trying to challenge him, as if they both don’t know who would be the winner.

“Then it means I have to keep coming if I want to put a name to such a pretty face.”

If some of his memories about all the nights — and days — he has spent with whores haven’t been erased, then it’s the first time something like this happens.

It’s the first time he doesn’t enter a room and doesn’t find someone ready to please him, that what he has to do is just undress and feel good.

And after, in the same way he arrived, he leaves.

Sometimes, he stays longer, but he doesn’t speak much, just moans or silence fill the room.

Sometimes, he has asked their names, but even if he tries, Jeongguk can’t remember any.

Perhaps, it’s this sleeve, he tells himself. It can happen habits of the previous owner have affected the sleeve so much, that even its next owner feels them. Perhaps, the previous owner had a soft heart, maybe he liked to know people’s life, maybe he cared about them. Or maybe not, his sleeve doesn’t have anything to do with the way he’s acting, with the fact he isn’t already naked, the boy writhing and moaning under his body.

“Are you here only to talk?” the boy asks, slowly sliding his hand on the sheet, lingering near his thigh. “Or do you want to fuck, too?”

Jeongguk smirks, blocks the other’s hand getting closer to his crotch. “You do what I tell you, love,” he warns him, a smile on his lips.

The boy nods, taking his hand back, placing both on his lap. They’re facing each other, the boy has his legs folded on the bed, while Jeongguk has placed only one knee on it to face him better.

“Why don’t you take the robe off for me, love?”

The other follows Jeongguk’s words, sliding first one sleeve off and then the other. There are small and almost invisible bruises on his arms; Jeongguk’s sure that if he looked attentively, he would find more scattered on the entirety of his body.

“You’re such a pretty doll,” Jeongguk says, caressing the boy’s cheek with his knuckles, hand travelling down to his lips.

Jeongguk throws the robe on the floor with the other hand, a pair of red laced briefs are the only thing covering the other, matching his hair; he won’t take them off, Jeongguk will just push them aside and fuck him with them on.

Then, he gets up, the boy’s eyes follow every movement he does, don’t leave him not even for a second. If only minutes before he thought he could’ve talked for another hour, now he only wants to discard of his own clothes and have the boy caged under him.

“Lay back on the cushions. I’ll take care of you, doll,” Jeongguk whispers while he takes his t-shirt off. It’s weird seeing himself with no tattoos, seeing the bare skin of the sleeve, but he’ll cover it with some as soon as he can.

The boy lies back on the mattress, head leaned on the pillows, legs spread to make space for Jeongguk. “I am, already,” he tells him, after Jeongguk has taken his jeans off.

Jeongguk tilts his head, confused by the other’s words, but once he spreads his legs even more, he’s not anymore. There is a white diamond between his asscheeks, partly covered by the lace; Jeongguk palms himself through the boxers to get full hard, and the sight really helps. The boy’s legs are long, shaved, almost glow under the purple light; Jeongguk lets his eyes roam, until they reach the diamond again, around it, the lace is darker, just like the front.

Once his boxers are off too, Jeongguk kneels on the end of the bed, positions himself between the other’s legs. “I don’t need to prepare you, right?”

“You can do whatever you please,” the boy replies, as if he were already expecting the question. It’s not the right moment to think about the fact that probably, those words are said to almost everyone and that most of them actually do what they want, not caring the other is a person and not some object. It’s not the right time, but Jeongguk thinks about how many times someone has forced themselves on the other anyway, even if he didn’t want it.

“I asked if I need to, not if I want to,” Jeongguk says, he used to be like many are, but not anymore, not after meeting Jimin.

“You don’t need to,” the boy tells him, lifting his upper body and leaning back on his elbows. Jeongguk notices how he’s checking him out, that the inner thigh brushing against the side of Jeongguk’s isn’t casual.

“Do you like what you see?”

The boy hums, while something flashes inside his eyes, his expression changes for a brief moment, so fast that Jeongguk almost doesn’t catch it, but even if he does, he still can’t give it an explanation, can’t even understand what it is.

Thought brushed aside, thinking he could’ve just imagined it, he gets closer to the other’s body, grips the flesh of his thighs to part his legs as much as possible. Slowly brushes two fingers against his skin, legs, abdomen, hips, just before the lace waistband starts.

He touches every inch of skin he can reach, but not where the other wants. Jeongguk teases him, not touching his briefs once, always getting closer, but backing away soon after. He does it until the boy whimpers and blocks his hand in a grip. “Do something, please, Lord Jeon.”

It’s the first time the other has called him that and Jeongguk finds himself liking the way it sounds said from him, likes the neediness in his voice while saying it.

Jeongguk lifts a corner of his lips. “How much do you want it, doll?”

He’s hard, he could slide the underwear aside and fuck him right away, but he can’t help teasing the other, especially if the results are beautiful whimpers and short, low moans.

“Bad, so bad.”

Jeongguk touches his right thigh with his fingers, gently, almost as if he’s not, moving them until they’re near the band of the briefs. He slowly slides them aside, just enough to tease him more, fingers brushing against the diamond, the perineum, the asscheeks; goosebumps appear on his skin.

After the other moans again, deep and low, Jeongguk finally takes the plug out, slowly, eyes fixed on the boy’s face. Jeongguk has seen few sleeves so beautiful, almost perfect, with any evident flaw; it could be a laboratory-made sleeve, but he doubts they end up to someone who would use it to work, only rich people get them, to be as beautiful and handsome as possible. He has seen one from up close and even if beautiful, he could say it was fake, that he wasn’t touching real flesh.  

The flesh he’s touching is real, warm, not the smoothest, but still soft, it can’t be a laboratory-made sleeve; it’s real, it’s a real human body of someone gifted with beautiness.

Lube slides down his fingers from the plug, which Jeongguk throws somewhere on the sheets, and then to tease the other even more, he brushes the lubed fingers against his already wet hole. The boy shivers, a hand flies to his wrist, stopping his fingers.

“Sensitive,” he just whispers, eyes closed. “Please.”

When the other opens his eyes again, they’re glazed, as if the other’s not really there, lost in his own mind; it lasts just few seconds, and then, they’re on him, lips smiling at Jeongguk. “Don’t make me wait much.”

Jeongguk smirks, intrigued. The woman said he’s the best Teflon has, and Jeongguk hasn’t understood if he’s faking his pleasure or not yet, if he is shivering for real, if the moans are, too; if he’s faking everything, then he really deserve that title.

Just to make the other suffer a little bit more, Jeongguk slides a finger inside; the other’s loose enough for Jeongguk’s cock, but he keeps playing anyway.

“Do you want me to fuck you?” Jeongguk asks, finger still inside the other, who just nods, pretty eyes looking at him, pretty mouth slightly parted and pretty legs spread on the bed for him.

Jeongguk adds another finger to the one already inside, scissors them for a while, just to edge the other, making him whimper, and then, after the boy has gripped his wrist and pre-come has darkened the lace even more, he takes them out.

“Fuck me, Lord Jeon,” the boy says under his breath, a hand twisting the sheets under his body.

Jeongguk doesn’t reply, uses the bottle of lube forgotten on the floor to coat his dick with the liquid, pumping it slowly, not like he needs to get harder than he already is.

The other watches each of his movement, feet planted on the bed, knees apart; Jeongguk grips his waist, letting his body slide further down on the sheets, until the other’s head is on the pillows and Jeongguk’s right between his legs.

Slowly, he guides his dick inside the other; he has all the time in the world, doesn’t want to waste his first time in the sleeve, wants to savour it, to enjoy it as much as he can.

Once full inside, the other wraps his arms around his neck and brings him down, chest to chest, but they don’t kiss each other; Jeongguk latches his lips against his neck, sucking and biting its skin, creating cherry blossom bruises near the tattooed ones. The other threads his fingers through the back of his hair, gripping the longer strands, even pulling them slightly.

Jeongguk doesn’t complain, he loves both feeling of his fingers in his hair and of the other’s clenching around his dick, even if he hasn’t moved yet.

He can’t remember when it was the last time he had sex; he remembers Teflon, but not when it happened and with who, blurred just like so many things.

“Can I move?” he whispers against the boy’s skin, already darker, even if the purple light doesn’t let him see much.

The room is coated in purple, everything is purple, but the most beautiful thing is the way it lights the other’s face, the way it reflects on his smooth skin, which Jeongguk would spend hours kissing and biting. His sleeve is so perfect, more he looks at him, more amazed he is, wondering how’s possible that such an ethereal body exists.

The boy nods, fingers going down behind his neck, moving Jeongguk’s head up, jaw-level, which Jeongguk kisses, while he slowly starts to move his hips back and forth.

The other moans under his breath, eyes closed, legs wrapped around Jeongguk’s lower back.

The first thrust feels almost too much, too overwhelming; if Jeongguk didn’t hold himself back, he’d probably come so soon.

When the other, “Go slow,” whispers to him, Jeongguk falters for a moment, not expecting the request at all. Even so, he does as he’s told, goes slow, but deep, as possible as he can.

The other moans, loud, clenches around him, scratches his skin, his scalp, whatever his nails find and Jeongguk just keeps moving, panting against the other’s skin, letting the muscles in his arms and abdomen burn, strain; until it all becomes pleasure, until his entire body prickles, his head is empty, just whiteness and his ears ringing.

Jeongguk looks up at the other’s face, contorted by what seems real pleasure, he can’t be faking it, maybe the moans, but not his expression, not the way he grips his shoulders, the way he moves with him, under him, that can’t be fake.

“Lord J-Jeon,” the boy mutters, legs pushing Jeongguk even deeper, feeling like they melt together. Jeongguk groans, his body feels both too light and too heavy, but he keeps going, faster, not able to go as slow as the other wants; he has held himself back for too long, he needs to let himself go.

“Tell me I can go faster, doll,” Jeongguk murmurs against the other’s lips, brushing just the slightest.

“Please… F-faster,” he whispers back, their lips still brushing, and Jeongguk’s so tempted to kiss him, to kiss him hard, like it will be the first and last time, but he doesn’t, just keeps them there, touching and not at the same time.

Jeongguk holds the other down with an arm wrapped around his back, fingers holding the flesh of his hip tight. The other has his eyes set into Jeongguk’s, teeth biting down on his lip to silence himself; Jeongguk wants to tell him he can be as loud as he wants, he doesn’t mind it, but he doesn’t, only looks at him, like the other is doing, eyes into each other’s. If he weren’t busy fucking him, trying to cease his own release, Jeongguk would think that what they’re doing, looking into each other’s eyes without saying anything is too intimate, it’s not what he’d expect from two strangers, perhaps, only from two lovers.

The other’s eyes feel familiar, like it’s not the first time Jeongguk finds himself inside them; they’re not just cold, there’s something else inside it he can’t decipher, a feeling he can’t give a name to. It has been there since the moment he has said who he is, for most of the time the coldness has covered it, but now it’s there, maybe even more than before and Jeongguk wonders what it is. His eyes shift on the J tattooed under his eye, small, but there, inked forever in white, almost as if the other wanted the reminder, but not wanting it too noticeable. Jeongguk thinks that if he were that J, the other wouldn’t be there, wouldn’t be using his body to make money, but he isn’t, so he just keeps fucking him, harder, to empty his mind.

The other grips Jeongguk’s shoulders even tighter when his dick keeps brushing against Jeongguk’s abdomen and his, and it’s exactly how he comes, untouched, not able to keep the moans sealed in his mouth.

Jeongguk holds him against his body, feeling him tremble with each of his thrust, until he comes inside the other, moaning against his neck, breathing his scent, a mix of chemicals and flowers.

They stay still for some moments, both recovering from their release, but as soon as Jeongguk lies down on the empty side of the bed, the other sits on it, giving him his back.

“I’m going to clean myself up,” he tells to the air, and Jeongguk just watches him get up, take the robe from the floor, putting it on while he walks towards a door, where the bathroom probably is.

With some tissues taken from the nightstand, Jeongguk lazily cleans himself. He knows he should leave, but he’s tired and has booked the boy for the whole night, so it means he can sleep until the morning after and no one would tell him anything. Actually, no one would even if he didn’t made any reservation, because he’s a Drug Lord, he could stay there for days and no one would argue.

Thought in mind, he tells himself he’ll just nap for a bit, only to recharge himself and then, he’ll leave.

After that, he just closes his eyes, doesn’t know how much he sleeps, but after what it feels like just some seconds, he opens them again.

For a brief moment it’s completely silent, but once he’s more concentrated on his surroundings, he understands why he’s not asleep anymore. If it weren’t so quiet, Jeongguk thinks he wouldn’t have heard someone crying, that small and almost mute sobs are coming from somewhere near.

Jeongguk’s still alone in the suite, the boy hasn’t come back yet, which means that maybe he’s the one crying.

He doesn’t know what to do. Should he check on him? Should he leave?

After he gets up, as quiet as possible, and pads towards the closed door, Jeongguk’s sure the noise comes from the bathroom.

Jeongguk bites his lip, he should just leave, he’s a stranger and the other would probably hate him for intruding, so Jeongguk quickly dresses himself, gathers all of his things and leaves, in silence, as if he were never there from the beginning.

They’re strangers to each other, the other’s a stranger Jeongguk fucked, he doesn’t have any right to get in the bathroom and ask why he is crying; leaving is the right thing, he repeats to himself, even if maybe deep down, he wonders if it’s his fault the other is crying.

 

 

•••

 

 

Jeongguk has been home only for one hour when Jimin enters his kitchen, flipping the lights on, half-angry expression on his face, which doesn’t scare Jeongguk at all, who keeps eating the sandwich he has prepared himself.

“What?” Jeongguk asks once has swallowed the bite down. Jimin looks at him with an eyebrow raised, but he doesn’t talk. “What, Jimin?”

“Where did you go?”

Jeongguk sighs, did he really come just for that in the middle of the night? Why isn’t he sleeping?

“Brothel,” he replies anyway, he knows it’s a lost battle with Jimin, he won’t leave if he doesn’t get the answers he wants.

“You mean Teflon?” Jimin keeps asking, as if he already doesn’t know it.

Jeongguk nods, finishing to eat his sandwich, some crumbles fall out of the plate, but he ignores them to give Jimin his full attention.

“Why?”

Is he for real?

“What do you think? To check how everything is going? Please, Jimin,” Jeongguk says, slightly annoyed, he can do whatever he wants and no one can tell him not to, not even Jimin or the others.

“Who did you fuck?”

Jeongguk gives him a look, a what the fuck look, but Jimin raises both his eyebrows, tapping his foot on the marble floor.

“Sweetheart or something, he’s the best apparently.”

Jeongguk’s exhausted, he has had his first fuck in the sleeve, he hasn’t slept well in so long and when he thought he finally could, the boy woke him up with his sobs, so Jeongguk isn’t in the mood to have this kind of conversation with Jimin.

“Do you want to know how I fucked him? How many times he—”

“Jeongguk, please,” Jimin interrupts him, and Jeongguk really wants to laugh, he asked about it, Jeongguk wasn’t the one to start it.

Before Jimin entered his life, he wasn’t really the best with prostitutes, he just used them as he pleased and didn’t care if they got hurt or didn’t want something. Jeongguk believed that if he paid them, he could’ve done whatever he wanted. But then, Jimin arrived and Jeongguk realised how wrong he was, it didn’t matter that it was their work, that they got paid for it, they were still human beings and Jeongguk, instead, had treated them like they weren’t, like they were just mere objects.

Jeongguk knew most of the time it wasn’t their choice to be that, but he kept ignoring it for his own pleasure, not to feel bad or guilty after he had used them, perhaps.

Even now, after Jimin has told him it’s okay if he fucks prostitutes, it’s how the world works, what he has done can’t be cancelled.

It’s why Jeongguk tries not to talk about the matter with the others; Jimin hasn’t chosen the life, and even if it hadn’t lasted long, Jeongguk knows it’s not an easy topic to talk about for him.

Though, even if he doesn’t want to keep going, Jeongguk can’t stop his next words. “No, hyung, you asked about it and I was just answering.”

Jimin grimaces, arms stilling on both of his sides. “You shouldn’t have gone, you should’ve haven’t fucked that one.”

“What? Why?”

“Don’t ask me that. You just shouldn’t have gone there.”

Jeongguk laughs, but he’s not amused or happy. “Are you fucking serious, right now? Do you hear what you’re saying?”

“No, Jeongguk!” Jimin raises his voice, hands closed into fists.

Jeongguk’s both surprised and confused, he doesn’t even know why him fucking a whore concerns the other so much.

“You can’t understand, you don’t know what’s like.”

“I thought you didn’t care, I—”

“It’s different!”

At that, it clicks, it’s about the person he fucked, not the fact he went to Teflon.

“He’s considered the best, hyung, I’m sure they treat him well,” he says, even if he doesn’t know yet why Jimin is so pressed about the matter. Though, he doesn’t tell him the boy was crying in the bathroom when Jeongguk left.

“You can be the worst or the best, there’s no difference. You’re still a whore and everyone treats you like one.”

Something’s not right. Jimin looks hurt, sad, almost in pain while speaking, as if he’s still one, as if he never got out.

“What does this—”

“You can’t go to Teflon anymore, Jeongguk. I can’t tell you why, just trust me, please.”

Jimin’s eyes are glassy, he’s trying not to cry, so Jeongguk just nods, wanting the other to stop with the nonsense.

“Promise me.”

“Yeah, I promise.” Jeongguk doesn’t know if he’s telling the truth; after this, he’s even more intrigued about the boy, it won’t be easy keeping his word, at all. At least, though, Jimin will feel at ease if he believes him.

 

 

•••

 

 

It’s night, he’s drunk and probably, shouldn’t be driving, but he’s doing it anyway. He doesn’t remember why he started drinking, why he decided it was the right night to get drunk and drive around, empty bottles left on the passenger seat.

Someone honking at him makes him realise his eyes were closed and because of it, ended in the other lane; he chuckles, but suddenly, he feels angry, even if he can’t find a reason. He’s angry at someone, feels the need to kill them, but first, he needs to find them. How can he if he doesn’t even know who they are? How can he be angry at someone he can’t remember?

He laughs again, he’s really drunk, wonders why he hasn’t crashed somewhere yet, how he’s able to drive while being so drunk.

He’s near Teflon, maybe he could go there and fuck everything out of his sistem; could request for the new one who gives him head like no other can, the one Jimin knows.

He switches line, turning the car in the middle of the street, something that would’ve caused multiple crashes if other cars were there. He gets to Teflon after some minutes, car left in front of its entrance. Everyone outside greets him, but he doesn’t spare them a glance, just nods to them. He enters inside, walks to the wooden counter where a woman is; she smiles at him, says something, but he can’t understand her, his ears are ringing, and he can’t even hear what he’s saying to her. She shakes her head at his words, and soon after he’s screaming, tattooed hand slammed on the counter. The woman says something again, maybe that she’s sorry, keeps shaking her head and it makes him even angrier.

Then, though, the ringing stops, silence surrounds him.

“Jeongguk.”

It comes from behind him, calm, from a voice he knows.

He starts to turn around, he knows the voice, but no one comes to his mind, as if he just knows its sound, not its owner.

Once he’s almost turned around, everything stops, becomes black; he can feel himself, breathing, standing up, but he’s alone in a dark room, where he can’t see or hear anything.

After, even that disappears, only the echo of his name repeated by that voice remains, leaving him wondering who they were, why it made him stop feeling angry, why it made him feel at peace with himself.