"Master Jimin!" One of the servants waited at the gate to the Park Compound as he returned from his latest assignment: stealing an original Rembrandt that a wealthy client had offered to pay a heinous amount of money for.
"What is it?"
"The Elders have requested an audience with you."
Jimin sighed and sent the servant away, then hurried to the parlor where the Elders held council with members of the Park Family, long blond hair trailing behind him as he ran. Calling them a family was a bit of a stretch; although they were related, the Park Elders and members of the family had more of a master/servant relationship. Something Jimin found a bit archaic, especially in these modern times. When he arrived, he found all six of the Park Elders waiting for him, sitting on one side of a large conference table, looking smug. Jimin got a sense that he wasn't going to like whatever they had to say. He sat in one of the chairs positioned across from them and waited to be addressed.
"Jimin, pride of our…family, we have something for you."
Jimin wanted to frown, but stilled his face into a blank mask. "Of course. Do you have another assignment for me already?"
"No. It's actually more of a gift, of sorts."
Jimin couldn't hold back a frown at that; the Elders didn't give gifts. Ever. "I am honored. May I ask the occasion?"
"You have always been fond of Myungjun, have you not?"
"What have you done to him?" The venom in his voice was undeniable.
"Watch your tone young man! Remember to whom you are speaking!"
Jimin didn't respond, but nodded his agreement.
An Elder at the end of the table motioned for a servant. "Bring Myungjun out."
Jimin was unconsciously holding his breath, trying to remain still. The servant led Myungjun out with one hand on his elbow and the other clasped firmly in his hand. Jimin was puzzled by this. Servants were never allowed to touch members of the family. Then Myungjun opened his eyes, and Jimin gasped. Their eyes met; Myungjun’s eyes now matched his, pale gray, almost white. Unlike Jimin’s eyes however, his were unfocused, blank and unseeing. He felt tears prick at the back of his eyes; how could they have done this to sweet innocent Myungjun?
"Jimin... is that you?" He reached his hands out searching for him. He stood up from his chair and grasped the outstretched palm between his own. He brought the hand to his cheek and held it there.
He cleared his throat and said, "Yes Myungjun, it's me." He smiled and embraced him.
"I was so frightened... and the pain, it was unbearable." He mumbled into Jimin’s shoulder.
One of the Elders snorted at Myungjun's statement and Jimin saw red. He released Myungjun from their embrace, but still held his hand.
"You unimaginable monsters think it's funny do you? Well, I don't see any of you walking around with these eyes! What the fuck were you thinking? He isn't a member of the Idol Program, so why did you do this?"
All the Elders looked very offended. "We thought that you would appreciate this gift. You were always the one to suffer, while he was put on a pedestal far away from any danger. Apparently you have no sense of humor", sniffed one of the Elders.
Jimin gritted his teeth and practically growled at them, "I have put up with your fucking antics and games all my life, and never complained as long it was only me who suffered from your torture! But now you have brought Myungjun into this and made him suffer unimaginable pain for no reason and you expect me to think it's funny? Well, I have a joke for you. I am out of here and I am taking him with me. You can try to stop me but you never will. You all know very well that I am the most skilled operative you have. All of your men couldn't stop me if they tried."
Jimin glared coldly at the council members sitting with shocked looks. They all knew what he said was true; there was no one who could even come close to Jimin. "Maybe you shouldn't have trained me quite so well if you were planning on screwing with the people I love."
Jimin turned and left the Elders screaming after him. He led Myungjun along with an arm wrapped around his shoulders. Both his small hands were clutching his shirt, afraid that if they were separated that he would be attacked. He hurried them to the exit as quickly as he dared with Myungjun's new blindness making him stumble almost every other step. When they reached the exit there were about a dozen men blocking the doors. Jimin stopped and glared at them.
"Are you going to let us pass or am I going to have to make you move?"
"We have our orders, and we are to stop you using any necessary force."
Jimin really didn't want to fight them. A lot of them were his friends, but if they stood in his way then he had no other choice. Jimin removed Myungjun's hands and pushed the other behind him.
"Stand back Myungjun, I don't want you getting hurt."
The first one attacked him, trying to catch him with a left hook. Jimin could tell that this man was a boxer; his low center of gravity gave him away immediately. Jimin dodged and faked a punch to the abdomen, but as his attacker lowered his arms to protect his stomach Jimin brought his other fist up and connected a solid punch to his windpipe. The man dropped like a sack of potatoes. The others all decided that attacking him as a pack would work better. Jimin smiled. These men were only hampering themselves as they got in each other's way. Jimin took the first to reach him out with a hard elbow to the temple; the second got a kick to the chest. He took them out quickly and efficiently, never giving any of them time to reach Myungjun.
Jimin reached for Myungjun, who squeaked in terror when Jimin touched him. After assuring him that it was Jimin and that he was unharmed he led him past the unconscious bodies of his attackers. The front doors were on lockdown, and frankly looked like something that might be used by NASA. However, Jimin was a professional and he hacked the control panel in three minutes and twelve seconds. Not his personal best, but he was under a great deal of strain, so he let it slide. They escaped the compound and headed for Jimin's silver Porsche, which thankfully hadn't been put in the garage. Jimin drove away with a screech of black tire marks on the street. There was only one place to go; he rented an apartment on the other side of town under an assumed name. He knew that this cover would only last a few days with an organization as large as the Park’s coming after them.
Jimin pulled up to the apartment complex and stashed the car in one of the underground units. He led Myungjun up to his penthouse, staying alert in case someone had recovered quickly enough to follow them. It looked as if they had gotten lucky; there was no interference on their way up. When they reached his apartment, Jimin sat Myungjun on the couch and fetched a glass of water for him from the state-of-the-art kitchen. The penthouse was quite an affair, all glass and chrome. It was modern to the extreme, and looked almost menacing for the lack of color. Jimin was glad Myungjun couldn't see it; he feared the austere setting might only frighten him more. He sat on the coffee table across from him and watched as he sipped his water and tried to appear calm. He let his knees brush against his, letting him know that he was still there.
"J-Jimin… what are we g-g-going to do?" he sobbed, clutching his glass of water until his knuckles turned white.
"I will take care of you Myungjun. You know that, right?"
"Okay. I need a plan."
Jimin put his head in his hands as though holding his skull might stuff all his wondering thoughts into order. Okay, simply running from the Park’s wasn't possible. Their reach was worldwide, and there was nowhere he and Myungjun could hide where they wouldn't eventually be found. Which meant that Jimin was going to have to take out the Organization before Myungjun would ever truly be safe. But he knew he couldn't do it alone. Luckily there was someone else that hated the Park as much as him… and that just might work. For his plan to be effective however, he would have to get back into the family's good graces, which was going to be… painful.
The next day Jimin drove back to the Park compound and braced himself for what was going to happen next. He approached the doors and guards came out; he let them restrain him and check for weapons before he was led to the parlor. The Elders sat in their chairs looking smug; their prized pony had come home so soon. Jimin reluctantly took up the submissive pose, bowing to them. "My behavior yesterday was inexcusable, and I would like to apologize and ask your forgiveness on behalf of Myungjun and myself."
"Where is our precious Myungjun?" one of the Elders hissed.
"He is safe, and I would like to ask permission to keep him with me at an apartment I have rented. He is rather frightened and traumatized."
The Elders tittered amongst themselves for a few minutes, even though they all knew that there was no choice but to accept Jimin's demands. His skills were too valuable to be wasted. Finally one of them addressed him.
"You are willing to accept your punishment as well as his without complaint?"
"Yes wise elders, I have wronged you and deserve to be reprimanded. I find it only fair that I accept the punishment for Myungjun, as he was only following me."
"I believe you are familiar with 'the brand'?"
Jimin winced, then nodded his head. The Elders all had wide smiles on their faces. Everyone loves a punishment. Jimin had hoped in vain that he would get any other punishment - bamboo shoots under the fingernails; water-boarding; anything but 'the brand'. Luck, however, was not on his side, and he was lifted by his armpits and led to the room where all of the punishments were meted out. Jimin was freed from his restraints and stripped of his shirt before being strapped face-down on a wooden slab. The straps were tight enough so that he couldn't move and ruin the brand. Jimin had received this punishment before, so he knew it would hurt twice as much on his already-scarred skin. The brand was a simple rectangle of metal, about as wide across as a woman's shoulders, heated to a white hot temperature, then pressed to the skin.
"You will receive two rounds, one for you and one for Myungjun. Each will be five seconds, is this understood?"
Jimin nodded, bracing himself for the torture that he was going to endure. He heard the metal cattle-brand being pulled out of the flames, and sneezed when the stench of hot metal reached his nose. The brand was applied to the pale skin across his shoulders with a sickening sizzle. Jimin made it through the first round without as much as a whimper passing his lips. His back was throbbing and burning and he could smell his melted flesh. His gag reflex kicked in, while he was convincing his body that throwing up was a bad idea the brand was heated up again. This time he wasn't ready and when the red-hot metal made contact with his ravaged skin, a traitorous scream tore past his lips. He was unstrapped from the table and allowed a few minutes alone to compose himself. After throwing up in the conveniently-placed toilet, he shuffled to the sink, filled his hands with ice cold water and tried as best as he could to cool the cauterized skin. He was officially back on the Park's good side; now it was time to implement stage two of his plan.
The Elders thanked Jimin for his service and had one of their medics treat his back before he left. They informed him that he needed to return in one week for his next assignment. He bowed to them and told them how honored he was that they had chosen to forgive for his insolence, and then left with his spine straight and his head up. He refused to let them know how much pain he was in, even as the weight of his white button-up shirt made him feel as though all the skin on his back was being scraped off with a rusty spoon.
The Park now trusted Jimin, and that was vital to the success of his plan. He drove his car to a small garage he rented monthly and swapped it for a plain white Honda Accord that he kept for situations like this - when he needed to blend in. He pulled out of the garage and headed toward his final destination - CIA Headquarters.
He parked his car at a diner a few blocks away from the building he was headed for, then pulled on a hoodie and tucked his tell-tale long, blond locks inside; he put on sunglasses to hide his eyes and quickly jogged to the building. He made it through the security point then pulled off his modest disguise, freeing his long hair and uncovering his eyes. His attention was immediately drawn to a man with dark hair who looked as though he were seconds from being literally bored to death. The man's hands were tucked into the pockets of his black trousers and he was wearing a white dress shirt with the sleeves rolled back to his elbows. He was talking to a cheery-looking rotund man. As though he sensed his presence the man turned and his black eyes locked with Jimin's own gray ones. The man froze, and then pulled himself up to full height; his lazy demeanor gave way to a commanding presence and Jimin couldn't help but be intrigued.
I think someone recognizes me… Jimin thought to himself.
"Now, what business could Park Jimin have at CIA Headquarters?"
Jimin didn't have time to stand around and chat with this man; he was either going to help or he wasn't. "You seem to have me at a disadvantage; you are?"
"Agent Jeon Jungkook. What is your business here?"
"I am going to help you bring down the Park Organization", Jimin announced.
The man snorted a laugh. "Yeah right. Park’s don't flip sides; we have seen enough suicides from the organization to know that."
"Would you like to know why?"
"Sure, why don't you tell me?" The sarcasm in his voice pissed Jimin off.
"Park children are raised like warriors. From the time that they are children they are taught that snitching is a sin. They are taught that if anyone is ever caught, that suicide is a better option than what you would receive from the family when they found you."
"Alright I’ll admit, I'm interested, but I still don't trust you."
Agent Jeon led Jimin through the building until they arrived at the interrogation rooms. Jimin snorted at how cliché the room appeared - concrete floors, plain white walls and a metal table and chairs in the middle; there was even the big mirror on the wall.
"Take a seat. I will be right back."
Jimin sat, assuming that the man was going to get his boss. A few minutes later Jeon returned, accompanied by a big man with blond hair and dimples.
"I'm Kim Namjoon. My agent here tells me that you say that you want to bring down the Parks."
Jimin met his eyes and nodded. "Your agent is correct."
"May I ask what caused such a change of heart?"
Jimin knew that one was coming. "If you must know, I will tell you. I am sure that you are aware of who Park Myungjun is."
Both agents nodded.
"He was forced to undergo the 'LIE Procedure' as some kind of sick joke to the Elders."
"We don't know much about it, we have only heard of it a handful of times, and no one wants to say anything more on the subject. Part of the Park family mystery is how so many of them have gray eyes, though their ancestry is Asian. This operation is the reason for that, yes? Can you tell us more about this 'LIE Procedure'?"
"I don't know all of the specifics. It stands for Laser Integral Eye Procedure, it is a procedure that enhances vision. An average person with perfect eyesight has 20/20 vision, but after the procedure that person's vision would be closer to 40/20.
They could see twice as far and their vision is twice as accurate, it even allows them to see perfectly at night. However it is a very painful and extremely risky operation, and as a side-effect it changes the color of the eyes. It leaves two out of three people blind, and when that happens the Elders declare those individuals no longer useful to the family and they are executed or locked away."
Both agents looked appalled. "You people do that to your own family?" Agent Kim asked.
Jimin glared and stood, slamming his palms down on the table. "You know what? Fuck you! I never should have come here." He turned and took three long strides toward the door.
"No, wait! Don't go!" Agent Jeon called. He gripped Jimin's shoulder trying to stop him.
Jimin gasped; he felt rushing in his ears and his knees buckled under him. He pulled away from that hand and tried to force himself to stay conscious. Both agents looked on, shocked and confused at this turn of events. Jimin pushed himself up off the floor and turned toward the agents with a glare.
"You act so high and fucking mighty; you have no idea what it's like to grow up in that god-forsaken compound. You think you understand what I have been through? You couldn't even imagine the things I have to do to keep myself and Myungjun safe. You wanna know what it's like, well I'll show you!" Jimin unbuttoned his shirt and pulled it away from his burnt skin. He pulled his hair to the front and turned his back to them.
Both of them gasped at the sight of his destroyed shoulders.
"So fuck this, I am out of here. This was a mistake." Jimin pulled his shirt back up and buttoned it as he rushed toward the exit. Jeon caught up to him as he rounded the first corner. He grabbed Jimin's hand and tried to stop him, but Jimin ripped his hand free and turned toward the agent. "Don't you fucking touch me."
"Please come back. He didn't mean what he said. It is just shocking, you must understand. Please?"
Jimin eyed the desperate look on the other's face. "Fine, but this is your last chance. I have nothing to lose and everything to gain by leaving here. You had better remember that."
He was led back to the interrogation room. Agent Kim was still there, and he faced Jimin. "I am sorry. I didn't mean to offend you."
Jimin nodded to him and took his seat. "Any more questions?"