“Ah!” Jimin shouted excitedly, gun still pointed at the lifeless body flopped over on the ground. “Guess we’re gonna have some fun today, boss!”
Taehyung shared a smile with him, locking eyes, cracked his neck, and bullets flew. Henchmen scattered around them, guns held up with shaky hands and sturdy ones alike, some ducking for cover, others going in blind and hoping a stray bullet may graze the Viper.
Taehyung cocked his gun back, aimed it straight for the eyes of a brave soul, blew his brains out, and ordered, “Take the whole damn place! You see anyone, you kill them! The Opalites are ours!”
The men belonging to the Violet dynasty took stance and let the fire pump through their veins. Killing was what they did best, going at burst speeds to find their first victims.
Jimin planted a foot on a dead man’s back and eyed up loud gunfire from the left hallway, weary of it finding them.
“I’m gonna head for the top. The men will take the middle.”
“I’ll get below, then,” Taehyung said, beginning to walk backwards, gun held up square to his blood stained shoulder. “See ya on the other side.”
Jimin saluted him, winked, and turned on his heel. “Don’t get lost down there!”
With his gun held securely by his hip and eyes darted in alert, Jimin hurried for the first stairwell, remembering it briefly from the blueprints. He turned the hallway, pulled his gun up at rapid speeds, and fired two shots.
Taehyung waited for him to keep moving, and when he did, he bounced back with a grin. He never had to worry about Jimin. The boy was born with a natural talent and instinct to dodge bullets and fire them like none other.
Taehyung headed for the stairs to the basement. To his knowledge, there were two options for entrance, and the nearest was on the other side of the warehouse. Gunshots fired all around him, his own men came up under his feet as a rarity, and his gun raised quickly to point in between eyebrows, but chaos never had an affect on his thought process anymore.
He thought clearly, kept a sharp eye, and found his way to the lower floor entrance with a visual stapled in his brain from the blueprints.
The first turn he came across, three men were waiting it out. They squatted against the corner of the hallway, guns poised by their heads, and index fingers at the ready. He stumbled to a stop, and scoffed.
“Oh, you didn’t think the fight would stay up there did you?” Taehyung asked with pity. “All that digging and breathing in dirt chip away at your brains or something?”
One of the men shakily raised his gun. They were slumped in baggy clothing and dirty skin, covered in brown grime. The only glint they ever saw were the jewels they dug up. These weren’t mobsters. They were workers.
“Y—You’re the Viper,” he said anxiously.
“Bingo. Hey, don’t go pointing that thing if you don’t know how to work it,” Taehyung scolded, waving his own gun to the side to coax him into lowering his. “You work with the boys up top?”
“We dig. That’s all.”
Another piped up. “We haven’t done anything to you. We just get the gems and go. Please.”
Taehyung sighed. Morals and all that bullshit. They were involved, minimally, but they weren’t in the business of selling on the blackmarket or smuggling into other countries. He huffed up at the ceiling.
“Don’t make this hard on me. I don’t have the time.” He nodded towards the door behind him. “Go. Now. My men may kill you, but that’ll be your fault if you’re not quick enough. Get out.”
Two men stood, knees wobbling and knocking, but one stayed squatted. One curious eye from Taehyung and he spoke with a shiver to his words.
“If they find out we did this…”
Taehyung slowly shut his eyes, shaking his head. The two men cooperating, their hearts pounded in the hallway, eyes flying to that bouncing gun.
“Oh, you just had to go and do that. We aren’t playing a game of tug-a-war. I don’t have time to babysit you while the whole damn place blows up around us. If you can’t tell, I’m a little busy.” He raised his gun, tilting his head. “Tsk, tsk. Should take a hand when it’s given to you.”
Three gunshots rang through the hallway, and Taehyung spit the metal out of his mouth, hopping over their bodies. He was the only man on the lower floors, plus or minus one of his minions who might stray from the plan.
After the reluctance of the first man he tried to save, he threw all courtesy out the window. Normally he didn’t wear that one on his sleeve much anyways. Practicing murder didn’t work well when courtesy joined the party. He blew away at any man he saw.
The Viper made a name for himself for how inhumanly and inhumanely he fired a bullet into a man’s body, pulling the trigger just as soon as his eyes darted to the side. He was trigger happy, grinned in the act, and moved with nothing more than a smooth, lawless, and vicious instinct. He drew his weapon faster than anyone could touch theirs.
He turned every corner with a vengeance to kill. Blood cradled every turn of the wall, splattered the floors, and leaked from the cries of a dying man’s last sound.
Silver hair untouched but navy blue button-up reddened at the cuff, he sprayed his way to the back of the lower floor, marking his path with the color scarlet. It was darker back here, no artificial lighting. The further back he got, the more he relied on the natural lighting from the windows above.
All around him were giant containers that would’ve found their way to a freight ship if it weren’t for the meddling Violets blowing down their front doors and mowing down their men. He meandered through the containers, listening for footsteps.
Guns fired further back. His men had cleared the middle floor and were conjoining downward. It was all part of the plan, because no one was meant to flood the upper floors. Best not to get in the way of Jimin.
He could see the back wall, he was gaining on it, when he found a couple strands of straw. Then more. Until the metal floor turned into the ground of a barn stall.
He destroyed a man’s shoulder, shattered it to pieces, and rounded around a container, flattening his back to it.
He could hear voices. One of them was of his men. The others were not. It was louder towards the entrance. They were about to have a war on their hands. Gun held up to his chest and ready to fire, he turned hard around the corner, where all of the last containers convened to the end of the lower floor, and came face to face with no soldier.
But against the wall, that was a different story. A story with hundreds of pages, one that he was curious of reading instead of the bland two-pages of the Opalites.
Against the wall was a boy tangled up in chains. A rabbit hybrid. In fluffy brown hair, short, white bunny ears sprouted up. Taehyung assumed a poofy tail came along with the set, but he couldn’t see from there.
Girthy, metal cuffs strapped to his ankles were connected to the ground by linked chains, heavy and giant compared to his bony body. Rope binded his wrists together. Blood smeared across his arms from irreparable damage left from rubbing his skin raw.
The poor thing was all skin and bones, eyes wide and absolutely fucking terrified. His chest heaved in short bursts, crawling back against the wall, searching for some type of sanctuary away from the scary man with the gun and bloody clothes.
Taehyung was still coming to terms with a hybrid being hidden away in the dark when he really focused his pupils and saw through the dim lighting.
Unfortunate. The only thing he wore was an oversized black shirt. Something told Taehyung that shirt once fit him properly, before they starved him of it. No pants, no boxers, and dark red and dried up brown coated the inside of his thighs. He hadn’t been cleaned for at least a week, stains from his sexual abuse and rough treatment mingling well with dirt and grime.
The bloody thighs didn’t come alone. Bruises littered his body like confetti. Handprints, fingerprints, marks the size of fists and shoes. Dried blood leaked from one of his eyebrows and his lip was busted in the inner corner.
He’d been tortured, misused, and left in the dark. There was no bathroom around. Two buckets lined the wall, and a strong stench wafted from them. Taehyung put two and two together and felt his heart twitch for the first time in years.
Jimin and Namjoon didn’t count. They started this with him. They were family. If anyone touched a hair on their heads, Taehyung would stuff them in a drum and drown them in wet concrete and feed their feet to the fish.
But the Viper hadn’t felt anything for anyone else since the day his mother was beaten to death by calloused, drunk knuckles, and he shot his father dead for it.
This hybrid took his heart and squeezed it in his little hands. He had these big, pearl eyes that just looked like a night sky. Big and black with sparkles painted in. And his folded ears plucked at his heartstrings.
He was first and foremost in disbelief that it was a rabbit hybrid. They were thought to be eradicated in all of Asia, and just barely hanging onto a thread in the Americas. They'd been killed off for their wares. Their ears, feet, tail, and fur were a hot product in the underground markets for decades. The ever decreasing population was discovered too late, and the species couldn't be saved. Sweeping the lands for rabbit hybrids, it became all too prevalent that humans had killed the breed off. Any living specimen found was treasured, and if not owned by a human who declined to give up ownership, rabbit hybrids were held in research facilities to attempt to revive the population.
To see one treated like a mere oyster compared to the pearl it was baffled Taehyung. He saw countless things in his travels, but he'd never seen such ignorance like this. A dying breed that had just recently spawned a worldwide amber alert and the Opalites were keeping him just on the edge of living. Like massacring the last northern white rhino just for the hell of it.
Taehyung lowered his gun. Footsteps grew closer. He could hear his man’s voice, then another, then a stranger’s.
“Hey,” Taehyung said softly, approaching the boy like the wild animal he may very well be. “Hey, there. Don’t worry any. I’m not gonna hurt you. Hurting a little bunny like you wouldn’t show much, ya know?”
He got closer, winced at the whimper the small thing made as it squashed its face against the wall. He got lower, holding one hand up and clearly showing his gun, promising safety, when shoes scuffled across the floor.
Taehyung looked in the corner of his eye, snapped up, and shot his gun back into the air, pointing it straight at the Opalite who skidded to a stop, not expecting to fall upon the Viper of all people.
“You. How long this hybrid been here?”
“I don’t know. Been here since I started working a couple years ago.”
Taehyung scoffed. “He been in this bad of shape the whole time?”
“Don’t know, Viper. He’s just here for stress relief. Gotta have some fun when you don’t have a girl waiting for you at home, yeah?” The man cocked back his gun, smirking like he’d already won. “I’ll have a good go at him after I take you—”
Taehyung shot him in the mouth. He didn’t want to hear another word, and the only way to assure that was to smash his tongue into smithereens. The hybrid jumped, scattering to cover his eyes.
Taehyung frowned, lowering his gun. Persuading the hybrid that he wasn’t a threat was nearly impossible when he had to go blowing jaws apart.
“It’s okay. I’m not—”
Another pair of footsteps. Taehyung took two back, watched as he was flanked on both sides, and ducked. He took a shot for the one on the left and pushed himself away from the bullet he expected from the right. On his shoulder and gun pointed towards the expected threat, Taehyung slumped in confusion when the offender dropped dead.
Jimin bounced around the corner, shoulders sagging in relief when he saw his leader untouched. He looked around them in distinct clarity, gun ready to fire.
“Pay attention, would ya? I don’t have time to be saving your ass.”
“Sorry. I’m a little tied up here,” Taehyung sighed, pulling himself back up to his feet with a finger pointed to the hybrid cowering in the corner.
Jimin saw him, took in his God awful condition, and dropped his head back. “Ah, hell. You gotta be kidding me.”
“Well, fucking, listen. I don’t know what they’re feeding these sons of bitches, but they keep multiplying. They’ve cornered us in the lower floors. I’m about to go over there and break it up.”
“Good. That means by the time I get this little guy out of those chains, you’ll have the situation under control.”
Jimin raised his eyebrows. “You’re leaving all of it to me?”
“You don’t need me. You’ve got this. I take care of this, you go take down an army.” Taehyung shoved his gun into his holster, taking this hybrid thing seriously. “You’ve done it before. Easy-peasy.”
The blonde heaved a sigh, shot one look from Taehyung to the shivering hybrid, then knocked his head to the side. His tongue darted out, and his trigger finger tensed.
“Give me ten minutes. I’ll have it cleared so you can figure out what the hell you’re gonna do with the easter bunny.” Jimin had a desolate look when he peered at what could only be described as a warzone, preparing himself. “You owe me dinner for this.”
“Breakfast in bed. How’s that sound?”
“Fucking peachy,” Jimin grumbled, and went in head first.
Taehyung waited until Jimin was out of sight and in the middle of the scrimmage before he got back down on the ground. He had eyes on the cowering hybrid, but ears on their surroundings. An Opalite could come around the corner at any time if they slipped past Jimin.
“Listen. I’m not here to hurt you.” Taehyung squatted down a couple feet from him, ducking down to look into his eyes. “I can see what they’ve done to you. They haven’t taken care of you, little guy. This is no life for you.”
He took a step closer. The hybrid scrunched his shoulders up, covering up everything but his round, startled eyes. His fringe swept past his eyebrows, and his legs desperately tried to conceal his bottom half. It wasn’t working, but Taehyung kept his eyes up.
“You don’t have to be scared of me. I know I look like a very scary man coming in here with a gun and shooting people, but it’s because these are bad people. You already know that, though, don’t you?” Taehyung asked, another step closer. He was in touching range. “They haven’t been good to you. They’ve hurt you very bad. I don’t… I don’t know what’s going to happen, but I’m not going to leave you in here all alone, okay?”
Hands held up cautiously, Taehyung slowly lowered one, fingers spread out, until he touched one of the ankle cuffs. The hybrid’s breath hitched, eyes darting to the intrusive touch. It wasn’t anything intimate or over the line, but Taehyung imagined any touch led to painful consequences in this warehouse.
“Everyone in this place will be dead soon, but you. If you don’t come with me, you’ll starve to death. No one will be here to take care of you. But I can take you out of here. It’s really the only option here, little one.”
“You… you… hurt me?”
Oh, his voice. It was just darling. High-pitched and airy, light like the dust particles in the air. It was wet. Tears breached the corners of his eyes.
“No, no, just the opposite. I won’t hurt you. I don’t want anything from you, okay? I just can’t leave you here to die. That’s all.” Taehyung wasn’t too good at this whole good guy thing, but he was trying. “I need you to let me do that. I don’t want to fight you.”
The hybrid reluctantly nodded. There wasn’t a bone in his body that would let him say no regardless. It had been beaten out of him a long time ago.
“Good, good. Can you tell me your name?”
“Jungkook. My name is Taehyung. I’m going to shoot these chains off of you and I need you to stay very still for me. Can you do that?”
The hybrid, now known as Jungkook, nodded with unsure breathing and shaking hands. He had his eyes glued to the chains, then the gun that seemed at home in Taehyung’s hand, then the chains all over again. He was going to pass out if he kept looking around like that.
“Cover your face.”
Taehyung waited for him to take the order to heart, covered his foot with his hand, and aimed the gun. Further down the line of individual chains, he hoped for the love of God that nothing sprayed back and injured the hybrid. His rescue mission would skyrocket in difficulty in a matter of seconds.
He squeezed the trigger. Jungkook shouted, curdling his face back into the wall, shaking like a leaf.
“You’re doing good. Stay right there.” He didn’t give the warning for the second chain. That would only make Jungkook flinch before he heard the gunshot. He shot the next set of chains, and winced at the second cry of fear. “Good job. The loud noises are over. Let me see your hands.”
The hybrid followed his orders nicely, keeping their train running smoothly. He was thankful for it. Rescuing a damsel in distress was less fun when the distress was embodied by a brat.
He whipped out his knife, long and recently sharpened by his blacksmith. Nervousness swirled the hybrid’s eyes when he lined the knife up in between his wrists, and took a good hold on them. They were already bruised from other hands, and the caked up blood made him slip.
Jungkook was whimpering now.
“I know. They hurt, huh? Bastards probably never took these off, did they?” A shake of the head urged him to shell out a couple more rounds for the hell of it. “Stay still. I don’t want to cut you.”
The thick ropes took a good few measures of sawing, but eventually he was able to take one swipe upward and freed the hybrid of his restraints. He was wholly free. Not a single string tied him down.
“Are you able to walk?” Jungkook shook his head, ducking his head. He hadn’t been on his feet in so long he’d forgotten what it felt like. “Okay,” Taehyung sighed, looking around them. “Okay. We can work with that. I’m going to carry you out of here. Do not fight me. You do that and things are going to change real fast, got it?” Jungkook nodded. “Good. Glad we’re on the same page.”
He took another good look at the poor sight of a living being and felt those weird moral things poking up their ugly heads. The boy didn’t have a lick of dignity without any pants on. He couldn’t just wave him around in front of his men like that. The boy had been through enough.
He made up his mind, started patting his clothes, then decided on which one he was willing to part with. He pulled his shirt off over his head, and got to work with unbuttoning it.
“Here,” he said, handing it to the hybrid. “Put this around your hips and button it up. You’ve had enough people stare at you.”
Jungkook took it with beady eyes and did as he was told, growing shy when he found this strange human pointedly looking away. His bare torso was hot with a thin sheen of sweat, accompanied with enough scars to catch Jungkook’s attention.
He finished buttoning it up as much as he could in the midst of a gang war. The small sound he made magnetized Taehyung’s attention once again.
“We have to go. We can’t be here much longer. The lower floor is too dangerous.” Taehyung kneeled next to him, and waved at him to come closer. “You need to hold on to me very tightly because I might still need my gun.”
He braced Jungkook by his knees and his shoulders, keeping his holstered gun on tabs. “Hands around my neck, very tightly. There you go.” He lifted them from the ground, and the shackles looked lonely in the bedding of hay.
This was the farthest the hybrid had been from his jail cell in years. He hadn’t felt air move around him, or the sun actually shift from one part of his body to the next. He may as well have been rendered paralyzed.
“No matter what happens, you don’t try to run from me. You stay right here. I can handle the rest. You understand, little one? No scurrying, no screaming. I need to focus.”
Jungkook nodded into his neck, tightening his arms. He wouldn’t be the reason that this man failed. They cut the container’s corner and Jungkook saw a different part of the world. He’d gotten well acquainted with his three freight containers and buckets.
The gunfire was deafening again. He’d been distracted by a human speaking to him without sneaking a hand up his thigh bravely. He couldn’t cover his ears this time.
Taehyung kept a close eye on every corner. The containers were trap infested, every which way a perfect destination for an enemy to camp out and wait for him to turn into their aim, distracted and heavy with a hybrid in his arms.
The gunfire sounded between only a few spare guns now, no where near the dozen. The war was coming to an end. Taehyung rushed to Jimin’s side, who hid behind a container with his gun up and poised.
Jimin huffed. “About time you showed up.”
“You’ve cleared them out nicely.”
“You gave me ten minutes. I still have two left. I’ve just been keeping them occupied waiting on your slow ass.”
“Well, stop holding us up. You’re playing with your food, Jimin.”
“I know.” He smiled. “You know I can’t help it.” His eyes flickered down to the shell shocked hybrid that flinched at every gunshot, blinking curiously. “Hey there, bunny. Guess you’re an official Violet. Welcome to our after school club.”
“Leave him alone and do your damn job.”
Jimin shrugged with a devious, little grin playing on his face. He eased toward the edge, cocking his head to the side. “Oh, you act like you don’t know me at all,” and spun into the clearing, into the eye of every gun trained on him.
Jimin took out the first man in sight, clipping his cheekbone with pure metal, and strode to the side, ducking under a bullet that flew past his head, and shot at a hiding figure. Two shots and he landed one due to the sound of a limp body smacking concrete floor.
He heard a trigger snap. He dropped to the floor, propelled himself back with his foot, and aimed up in the air, catching the glint of a gun in the rafters. He shot quicker than a hawk dove for a field mouse. Deadweight dropped twelve feet to the floor.
Jimin huffed and lowered his gun to his lap and his head to the floor. “Could’ve told me about the ceiling guy!”
“Figured you already knew,” Taehyung said, and reeled out of hiding, the exit in his sight. “Anyone else alive besides you?”
“Oh, yeah. Plenty. Just told them to get the hell out of here before we wasted all of that ammo.” He drug himself up to his feet. “The rest of the floors are clear as far as I know. We’ll do a sweep before we leave.”
Taehyung gazed around at all of his men resting outside of the warehouse, tending to their wounds and sharing stories. Packing up the dead.
“I don’t trust them. You stay back and make sure every head has a bullet in it. I have to take care of this.”
“Yeah, about that, you got any idea on what you’re planning? You don’t strike me as a hybrid type of guy.” Jimin strode next to him, hand on his holster. “You’re playing hero, I got that part, but what’s next?”
“I haven’t thought that far yet. I just know we can’t leave him back there. I’ll figure something out.”
“Sure you will,” Jimin said, eyes coasting. “You always do. Most of the time. Sometimes.” He sighed. “Eh, every now and then.”
“You ever shut your trap?”
“Haven’t yet, sugarplum. Don’t hold your breath. Makes me nothing short of perfect for interrogations, though.” Jimin stopped next to him at their cargo. “Let me know what you decide on. I’ll do a sweep.”
“I will. Be careful.”
“Will do. And hey,” Jimin called out to him as guards swarmed around their boss, catering him towards his car. “Take care of that thing. Looks like it’s been through hell and back.”
Problem was, Taehyung didn’t know how to take care of anything but a Russian, cigarette smoking mobster who smuggled himself into South Korea to start a market for his all new heart-stopping drugs.
Certainly not a hybrid.
He’d raised the partition after situating Jungkook in the car. Home wasn’t too far from here, but the real question was where Taehyung planned to bring the hybrid.
The headquarters were where his men were based. It would be a safe place to house the boy until further decisions were made. But their headquarters wasn’t just the home of his rough and tough men, and the location where they planned their raids and hits, but also where they kept prisoners.
Where they tortured them. Executed them. Dipped them in acid, cut their fingers into carrot slices, plucked out their teeth like corn on the cob.
Headquarters was where Taehyung housed his worst enemies (worth capturing and killing). Keeping Jungkook under the same roof was worrisome. He trusted his men to keep their prisoners of mafia wars under lock and key, but he wasn’t a hundred percent sure about putting a defenseless, already battered hybrid into the mix.
If a prisoner got out, his men could handle themselves. If Jungkook were caught in the crosswires, he could be stolen, or hurt, or taken. Or killed.
But taking the boy to his home was an equally as idiotic decision that could lead his enemies straight to his door. They could have planted a tracking device, or had him wired up. His home was secluded and so far untouched. Bringing this hybrid home could plunge him into a whole new world of hurt.
The thing seemed harmless so far. It was only what might be on his body that concerned Taehyung. He couldn’t very well go stripping him down and giving him a cavity search though. Even he would feel demonic if he did that to a wounded animal.
He craned his head back and sighed. Choices, choices. He had to make one soon.
“You said your name is Jungkook?”
The hybrid nodded. He sat politely in his seat, one away from Taehyung, hands in his lap and eyes on the ground. He was out of his element, lost in all of this nice leather and hi-tech gadgets. He ached everywhere.
“So, Jungkook, can you tell me what those men were up to having you there?”
Jungkook fidgeted. “I don’t know. I only saw… one. Just one… not all at once.”
“One at a time?” Taehyung helped him. Being locked up in the dark for years and never spoken to could carve a vocabulary down to the bare bones.
“Yes. Just hurt me. I don’t know why they kept me.”
“I have an inkling,” Taehyung said. “And it isn’t good. They only had you for one reason, little one. To use you. They never spoke business with you?”
Jungkook shook his head, ducking his head. “No. I don’t know anything.”
“I’m gonna ask you something, and you need to think very clearly and carefully for me, okay?” He waited for a nod. “Think back. Have they ever put something on or in you? Like, an object.”
The hybrid nodded, and oh hell, Taehyung almost rolled down the petition to tell the driver to stop the car and throw the hybrid on the side of the road. He was already regretting it, taking a deep breath to seal his heart shut and null the emotions, when Jungkook elaborated.
“Not on me. In me. A… a lot of things, but I don’t want to say what. Please don’t make me.”
“No,” Taehyung said in misery, massaging at his temple. What the hell did he get himself into. “Not like that. It would be very, very small. Maybe a blinking light? Metal.”
Jungkook’s ears perked up. “Oh. Nothing like that.”
“And nothing on you, right?”
“Have they ever drugged you? Put you under so you didn’t know what they were doing while you slept?”
“They have, b—but I don't think they put anything like that in me."
“Right. Okay,” Taehyung said in relief. “So they aren’t tracking you. No one should’ve lived, but just in case… Jungkook, how long have they had you?”
“I don’t know. I didn’t know time. Just the sun and the moon.” His big ol’ eyes blinked down at his hands. “Long.”
“Were they always so horrible to you?”
“I think so. I don’t remember before.” His perked up ears folded rather quickly. “I’m sorry. I don’t know anything.”
“I wouldn’t expect you to. Forgetting might just be the best thing you could do.” He looked out the window, drumming his fingers on his knee, then watched the continued fidgeting going on on the other side. “I’m going to take you to our headquarters. I need to figure some things out about you before we go forward. I think I’ve gotten in over my head for the first time.”
“Torture?” he asked, heart in his eyes and fear in his words.
“I told you, little one, I’m not going to hurt you. No one is. My men will be sworn off from even looking at you like that. Your days of being a punching bag are over. I just don’t know what the rest of your days are going to be.”
That sufficed for the hybrid. He turned towards the window, eyes casting over the blurring images. The outside world was a relic to him. Hidden for years, taken from him like a measly gumball. The tinted window made everything darker, but he didn’t know that. To him, the world was just dark.
He fit his hands between his thighs and leaned his temple onto the glass. The corner of his lips twitched up, his eyes sparkled, and that corner lifted in a rusty smile. Taehyung stopped breathing.
“The outside is so pretty,” Jungkook said in a daze, looking out into the crime filled, poverty riddled slums of the dead Opalite empire with the taste of blood in his mouth.
Taehyung wanted to show him Paris—wanted to show him better. That boy was crawling into his head and unscrewing too many bolts to keep his head straight.
“Headquarters,” Taehyung had finally decided, declaring the next step to his driver.
Taking the hybrid to his home was too risky. If an attack was planned, at least it would take place at the headquarters, where he had weapons and numbers. He needed someone to protect the dynasty, and the gem they stole from the Opalites.
They arrived before the sun could start setting. The driver got out, the second guard, and Taehyung shoved his reluctance to the side and sucked it up. Bringing a hybrid home with him from the dynasty that he just left in ashes wasn’t exactly in his planner for the week, but shit happens, and it happened like hell today.
“Stay here,” Taehyung instructed.
He got out of the car. Guards were already there, guns on their hips and eyes glancing from one tree to the next. They looked at his shirtless body, but said not a single word. Questioning him was useless. He liked to throw them curveballs here and there.
“Things are gonna be a little different today. No questions, because I don’t have answers.” He looked over his shoulder and thrusted his thumb in the direction of his captive. “I’ve got a hybrid in there that’s a bit of a flight risk. I have to carry him, so just watch us, yeah?”
Their faces didn’t show it, but he knew they were running a mile a minute trying to catch up with this curveball. They nodded nevertheless, never one to keep the Viper waiting, and followed him silently. His guards liked to surround him like a bubble—they knew the danger he was in at all times.
Taehyung opened the door that Jungkook sat near and kneeled down by it, smiling at the hybrid.
“Alright, bud. We’re gonna get you inside. I’ll carry you, but you don’t have to hold tight again. Don’t really need a gun to protect us anymore.” He looked up at the men standing behind him, more than aware of the fearful look Jungkook kept sending them. “They’re with me. Those guns right there are to keep us safe, not hurt us. You gotta trust me, but either way, you can’t stay in the car.”
Ears folded, Jungkook outstretched his arms, eyes cemented on the scary, tall men, and let his new savior fit him into a carrying position. Taehyung hefted him out of the car, double checking that his makeshift pants hadn’t slipped and fallen.
“Hell, boss,” one said. “Looks like it’s been through the wringer a good few times.”
“If by wringer, you mean the Opalites are even worst pieces of shit than I thought they were? Then yeah, through the wringer.” Ears tickled the back of his head and a nose warmed up his neck. “More than a good few times.”
Taehyung sniffed a grin. “Literally.” He took a step back, remembering that he had a hybrid in his arms who could hear every word—kind and not. “But yeah, scum. I could’ve killed them a couple times over after finding him.”
The front doors opened, and Jungkook lifted his head. His eyes widened with every bright light that shined into them, white dotting his irises, ears perking up. It was magnificent. He liked the violet coating everything. It was classy, and suave, like the owner of the color. Looking around, his excitement for the decor was dampened by the eyes drawn to him.
People were staring. His bruises and bones might as well have been in a glass case with a magnifying glass attached. Their leader was carrying him after a successful raid of a giant empire, and he was the sparkling trophy.
Taehyung came back shirtless with a rabbit hybrid, blood smattered at the tips of his hair and across his collarbones. His finger ached from pulling triggers and cold blood flowed through his veins, ice in his eyes, and his followers detained any impulsions to impose on questions.
“I’m going to bring him to my room. You guys are good to go.”
“You sure?” the second guard asked, obviously gesturing towards the hybrid in his arms.
“Oh, don’t worry about that. Anyone touches him and I cut their hand off. I’ve got it from here.”
They branched off from each other, and Taehyung turned down a hallway, and another. The sounds of the rustling and bustling masses of people died down to a muted and faint pulse. Soon, they couldn’t hear a thing. Jungkook didn’t like how far they travelled from civilization. Safety in numbers and all that.
“My room is in the back with a couple of my better men, and my friends. If there’s ever an attack, we’ll have time to get on our feet and devise a plan.” Taehyung’s arms were starting to feel the burn. “Leaders die last. That’s just how it goes. The bottom of the totem pole might as well be a distraction to gain us some time.”
They came to a door. A hallway led to the right, where another bedroom door sat—Jimin’s room. In the middle of the opening, a stairwell led upward to the intelligence zone and Namjoon’s bedroom.
He opened it, and shut it behind him. Cool air wafted over their bodies. Encased in it’s own hole, his room felt different from the rest of the building. The floors were dark, and so were the walls. The bed was far across the room in the middle, pressed against the wall, headboard black. His sheets were a dark grey, and nothing was purple. A stark contrast to the rest of the mansion.
He didn’t want to be the Viper in his bedroom. Violet wasn’t a color in sight. He just wanted to be Taehyung. He wanted to be twelve again, sleeping in and not looking at any healing bullet wounds in the mirror.
A bathroom was connected to the left, and various furniture to the right. Spacious didn’t even begin to explain in. A bright, blue fish tank built into the wall housed beautiful creatures with striking colors and angled fins. Moonlight filtered in through the windows, and the skylight from above the bed.
Taehyung set him on the bed.
“This is my bedroom. No one is allowed in here but my two colleagues. You met one of them on the field, Jimin. You’ll be safe here until I figure something out.” He ran his hand through his hair, propped a hand on his hip, and sighed at the dropped bunny ears. “What am I going to do with you?”
Jungkook blinked, but when his mouth opened, the smart watch on Taehyung’s wrist sang. He swiped up to answer the call—Namjoon.
“You’re home. Mind telling me next time?”
“Sorry. A bit busy over here. Listen, I need to talk to you, and it’s serious. Give me a minute and I’ll give you a heads up.”
“Sure thing. You didn’t lose, did you?”
“God, no,” Taehyung snarled, and peered down at his new problem. “I actually took home a little bit more than I was expected.”
“I’ll text you.” Taehyung hung up on him, dropping his wrist. “Let’s get you cleaned up, yeah? I’ll grab you a shirt you can wear. Might be a little big, but… I guess you’re used to that. Some boxers too. Shorts,” he listed to himself.
He rummaged through his drawers. Would the hybrid want a sweater? No, not the best choice. He might overheat overnight and not say a word. A white, silky button-up long sleeve seemed appropriate enough, lightweight but would still cover up the majority of his bruises. A pair of boxers that should fit him okay because Taehyung had small hips too, and some socks. Pants would come later. He needed to tend to any wounds either way.
“Here. Do you remember how to work a shower?” Taehyung asked, laying the clothes over his arm. “No? Okay. I’ll show you how it works. C’mon.”
He waited, and forgot rather wonderfully that Jungkook couldn’t walk. He pursed his lips. This wouldn’t do for long. The damned thing needed to be able to walk if it wanted to live.
“Change of plans. What makes you think you can’t walk?”
“I haven’t… they hurt sometimes. My knees.”
From pushing his face into the hay and yanking his ass into the air. It troubled Taehyung to think about it. It was easier to let it slip when he had those bloody thighs covered up. Remembering what this hybrid had been through was too important to forget.
“You haven’t stood, so they’re probably weak, but you’ve been able to put some weight on them from those bastards pushing you around. And your knees don’t look deformed, so that’s good. That means they aren’t damaged. So here’s what we’re going to do. I’m going to help you walk to the bathroom.”
Jungkook’s eyes lost their life. “I don’t know…”
“You don’t have to know. I don’t have a damn clue either. We’re walking into this blind, buddy. C’mere. Put your hands on my shoulders. I’m going to hold you up, but I need you to try and put some weight on your legs, alright?”
“It’s going to hurt. I don’t think I—” The hybrid was starting to panic, breath coming to a quick pace. “I don’t want to hurt anymore. Not anymore.”
Taehyung’s face lightened. He dropped to his knees, holding out soothing hands, but didn’t touch. Touching was about the worst decision he could make. He was so used to fixing things like a brute, throwing patience behind him and just manhandling it until it worked. He couldn’t do that now.
“I don’t want you to either. That’s not what we’re doing. I’m not going to let you hurt. I’m gonna support you. You won’t fall, and if it’s hurting too much, you just have to let me know.” Taehyung took calm breaths in hopes that it would rub off on him. “I’m not trying to hurt any bunnies, now. I just don’t want you crippled.”
“You want me to try to walk?”
“I do,” Taehyung said. “I really do.”
Jungkook’s eyes looked heavy on his cheeks when he nodded and thumbed at the bones of Taehyung’s shoulders, moving his legs, feeling for their strength. He’d stood up a couple times, but the chains rubbed against his skin, and they weighed his feet down. After years of being used on the floor, standing wasn’t a viable option for him.
“Go slow. I’ve gotcha. You won’t fall.”
Taehyung touched his waist, hands cradling the inward curve of his body. Ribs suctioned at his skin. Touching the hybrid felt prohibited. He lent down, waited for Jungkook to get a steady hold, and guided him up. The hybrid’s legs straightened like two toothpicks holding up a house of cards, carrying little weight, but even weaker on the bottom.
A crash was coming quick, signaled by the strangled gasp that scratched up Jungkook’s throat and the spontaneous tensing of his arms, holding on for dear life. His knees buckled, his ears fell to his skull, and all Taehyung could do was act quick and catch him.
Catching him—holding him tight to his chest, binding around his waist, where he folded as he broke. Taehyung hushed into his ear.
“You’re okay. I gotcha, remember? Don’t go doubting me now. Get your bearings. Trust your knees. Plant your feet, lock your knees, and steady yourself. You can do it.”
“Scared,” he whispered. “Don’t wanna fall. No one’s ever caught me.”
“I’m not them. They were spineless cowards. I won’t let you fall, Jungkook. Give it a try. Feel how it feels to stand again.”
Fighting all of the fears and facing a tidal wave of anxiety, Jungkook breathed heavy into his neck and forced his knees to bend back, to actual lock . They did so unnervingly, quick and hard, unsteady and shaky. His feet fluttered over the floor, scared his wings might shatter in the wind.
“There you go. You got it. Those legs got nothin’ on you, bunny.”
Jungkook settled on his feet, re-learning where to put all of the pressure, the soul and the ball and the arch. All of it came jerky and rusty, knees cutting in and out like a ball bearing one centimeter too large for its dome. Leading him to walk was a new challenge on it’s own.
Knees locking and unlocking, but holding up, Taehyung let off just enough to give him the sensation of walking all on his own. Instead of twining himself around the human’s neck like an age old tree rooted around a skeleton, Jungkook looked ahead, watched himself walk. Got closer to the rug, closer to the closet, closer to the doorway, and strung his ears up higher, holding on tight to Taehyung’s chest.
He wished the shirt around his legs was where it belonged so he could hold on tight like a handle.
By the time they got to the bathroom and the white and grey reigned supreme and struck his bare feet with ice cold marbled floors, he was living again. Feeling the world underneath his feet again. His toes were tingling and his knees ached. He was so happy.
Taehyung caught it on his face. The subtle smile, the peek of his bunny teeth over his bottom lip, those wondrous eyes marveling over travelling from one room to the other all on his “own.”
Taehyung taught a class on how to function the shower. Left knob and right knob, how hot it needed to be, how hot it didn’t need to be, because from the looks of it, they never gave the boy a proper cleaning.
Hot water was too good of a friend to ever leave him that dirty. Must’ve been a bucket that splashed cold water over him.
He opted for the hybrid to use his shampoo and wash for the time being. Keeping the boy was still sitting on the fence, so buying special products was not on his immediate to do list. His products would get the job done.
“Take your time. If you need me, I’ll be in the room. Just yell, okay? I’ll hear you. If you slip and fall, for the love of God, please let me know.” Taehyung set the clothes down on the counter. “Put these on when you’re done. There’s a towel for you too. Make sure you—” he motioned to his ears, “—don’t get any water in those. Ear infections are probably a bitch for you bunnies.”
The smile that little joke dragged out called for an award. He left the bathroom with one hand on his phone and the other on the doorknob, shutting it. No locking, because if that hybrid busted his head open, he couldn’t live with himself if he didn’t give him CPR.
Two minutes and Namjoon stepped in. The door’s lock resounded in the silence. His big, black glasses pushed up his nose, Namjoon raised an eyebrow.
“So, you got something to tell me?”
“I got a situation. Don’t ask me how I got into it, and don’t ask me how how I’m gonna get out of it, because I have no damn clue.” Taehyung paced in front of his bed, scrubbing at his forehead, watching Namjoon sit on his bed from the corner of his eye. “But it’s a biggie.”
“We can deal with biggies, Tae. We always have. Remember the Dust Dynasty? Didn’t think we were gonna make it out of that spike pit alive, but look at us now,” Namjoon said, smiling reassuringly. “Only a couple spikes in the back.”
“It’s not like that. It’s worst. This is bigger. This is life altering, Namjoon. I’m talking life changing.” He came to an abrupt stop. “I don’t know what I’m going to do.”
Namjoon cut his eyes to the bathroom, to Taehyung, and asked oh so apprehensively, “Who’s in your shower, Taehyung?”
“A hybrid,” Taehyung rambled.
He blinked in disbelief. “One more time?”
“There’s a person with rabbit ears in my shower right now, Namjoon.” He threw his hands up. “A rabbit. With ears.”
“I… don’t know what to say. Is that a good thing? A bad thing? An in the middle thing?”
“I’m still trying to figure that part out,” Taehyung admitted. “He was chained up at the Opalites hideout. He looks horrible, like they put him through two lifetimes already. He’s fucked up. Can’t even walk, been raped by no-good miners, and just beaten, man. Just beaten.”
“I get it, but… since when do you do charity work?”
“I don’t know. I just couldn’t leave him. I could’ve unchained him and just left him to figure his own shit out, but we both know what would’ve happened to him. Scrappers would’ve found him. He’d have his ears cut off by now and sold for good luck.”
“Rabbit feet,” Namjoon offered. “Rabbit feet are good luck.”
“Not the point here, genius. I don’t know what happened. I saw him, and I couldn’t leave him. I don’t have an explanation, nothing makes sense right now, and I’ve royally fucked myself.”
“Well, not necessarily.” Namjoon shifted back on the bed, getting comfortable. “All you have to do is decide if you’re keeping your lucky rabbit or not.”
“Oh, yeah, real easy.”
“I mean it. It’s not hard. You have the means to do it. But you don’t have to. I’m sure we can find someone to take him, someone we know will treat him well. Or you can keep him. Sounds to me like this rabbit is doing something to you.”
Taehyung cringed. “Don’t get weird about it.”
“Sorry, I forgot you’re still playing that game where you don’t have any feelings.” He shared a look with his childhood symptom of causing constant problems. “You’re really bad at being nice with strangers, and your ass up and picked up a hybrid during a raid. You chose him.”
“You’re getting weird again.”
“Shut up and have adult emotions for once, you seven year old. It’s a hybrid. You’re a mafia leader,” he said. “Sounds like two puzzle pieces just waiting to get snug with each other.”
Crossing his arms, Taehyung asked, “You actually think it’s not a catastrophic idea for me to keep him?”
“Believe it or not, mister everything has to go wrong or the world isn’t in the right, I don’t.”
Mental crisis imploded by ten more amps, Taehyung regretted even inviting him in. Namjoon always opened up more pathways, showed him the grey area, and introduced him to imposing morals. He made Taehyung human.
“Doesn’t matter either way. He’s staying here until I figure my shit out. I’m not risking taking a random hybrid to my house and having some pack of guys chasing his tail.” He chewed on his lip. “I’ll just have to lock him in.”
“At least you aren’t chaining him up, and you’re feeding him.”
“No, I’m not. See, what would I do if I didn’t have you?" He glanced towards the bathroom. "Could you please go and get some food from the kitchen? I forgot that just because I’m not hungry doesn’t mean a starving hybrid isn’t.”
“You’re already thinking like an owner,” Namjoon said with a smile, slinging himself up. “Setting course, captain.”
The bathroom door slid open. Their heads whipped in it’s direction. In the dim light of the moon, a rabbit hybrid stood in the opening of the doorway, fixing the cuffs around his hands, draping over to cover them like a blanket. The shirt flooded him, smuggling his thighs away, covering the boxers he had underneath. His white socks shivered with his legs.
Weary when he looked at Namjoon, the hybrid grasped at the door frame for support. A newborn deer, Taehyung would call him.
“I told you to yell for me,” Taehyung huffed, hurrying over to his side. Arm around his waist, pulling him close, he smelled his shampoo on Jungkook's ears. “You need to listen to me.”
“But I was doing okay.”
“You were pushing yourself is what you were doing,” he sighed, and when they got close to the bed, Namjoon took two clear steps back because those eyes followed him like he was a predator. “C’mon, get up here.”
When Jungkook climbed onto the bed, he let his legs spread out underneath him, sitting his bottom in between his calves, shirt cascading over his thighs. A little bump wiggled—his tail. Taehyung couldn’t take his eyes off of it.
“Hi, there,” Namjoon said. Taehyung almost laughed at how awkward he still was this long after high school. “I’m Namjoon. It’s nice to meet you.”
Jungkook blinked at the sheets. “Hello.”
“He’s shy, and you’re weird, so I think it’s best you probably go get that food, yeah?” Taehyung urged him, holding back a laugh in the bottom of his throat. “Nothing too much. His stomach needs something bland right now.”
“Got it, boss.”
Namjoon cast one last glance over his shoulder before he left for good, sensing that the second he turned his back, their lonely, personal atmosphere was going to kick off. He found his cold hearted leader kneeling by the bed, speaking softly to the hybrid.
He’d never seen Taehyung look at someone like that before. Like the twinkle in their eye was the North star. The sweetness in his voice, the need to show that he cared, throwing himself out there when Jungkook could have made it to the bed just fine by himself. He couldn’t watch Jungkook struggle. He was careful with the hybrid, easy, took his time and touched him like a fingernail would break his skin with the same hands that broke necks like dried up twigs.
Somehow, that was the same man who waltzed into the Opalites hideout, raised his gun, and blew the brains of an empire leader to the high heavens without blinking first.
“Sorry. Namjoon is one of my closest advisors, and my friend. He’s one of the good guys. He wouldn’t hurt a fly. That’s why he stays back and blows breakers instead.” He smiled, taking a gander at the boy’s scrubbed skin. “Do you feel better?”
Jungkook nodded, a hybrid of lost inhibitions. “Mhm. I haven’t felt clean in a long time. My hair is going to be clean again, isn’t it?”
“Yeah. It’ll be all smooth and clean.” Taehyung stood back up, stretching his body. He walked over to the foot of the bed, pushing his hands in his pockets. “You’re like a whole new hybrid.”
The straw Jungkook slept on was scratchy and rough on his skin. He found inflamed, swollen welts on his thighs and bottom from sitting on it for so long. He’d forgotten what a bed felt like. The satin sheets underneath him felt like ice and clouds all together and his feet hollered happily at the sensation, knees singing.
He plopped over on his side, taking Taehyung by surprise, and rolled over the bed until he found a pillow, giggling to himself, smiling the grey away, and swept his whole body over the satin. It felt amazing on his skin. He bundled one of the pillows up to his chest and toppled back over onto his side to hide his face in it, sighing away the stress. He went limp, knees tucked to his chest and cheeks buzzing.
That wasn’t fair. Taehyung’s eyes were still a dime larger than before, arms going slack, hands itching in his pockets. He hadn’t seen the boy act like an actual hybrid yet.
Airy giggles sounded good from his mouth. A bunny rolling around on his sheets, so appreciative of something he slept on every single night and often forgot even existed. Jungkook was just ever so happy to be somewhere else, breathing in the smell of a pillow rather than the dust of stationary cargo containers, and actually feeling the world on his skin rather than on a layer of dirt.
Wiggling under his shirt, his tail was going crazy. Severing cuteness and endearment didn’t exist with this little one. It all wrapped up into one little present, sent right to his doorstep with his name written on the tag.
The risk was too great—giving the bunny to someone else. No one could do any job better than him. Killing in cold blood, dragging a used to be ringleader down to his knees, taking the city of Seoul by force, giving this hybrid a life worth living.
If you want the job done well, you gotta do it yourself, he realized. He sighed.
“How am I supposed to keep you?” Jungkook’s ears sonared his way to take in the new noise, poking one eye out of the pillow. “I know I shouldn’t. I know life would be better away from me—safer—but I just can’t imagine giving you up to someone else.”
The boy in the white, satin button-up pulled himself up, left the pillow in the dust, and took one tentative crawl towards his new, strange owner, then another, and stopped at the foot of the bed. Legs spread, thighs touching calves, he leaned forward, and pressed himself against Taehyung’s stomach.
It was the first time he'd ever seeked physical contact. Physical contact in his life meant grave consequences, and a bloody, painful ending. But tonight, in this room void of purple and quiet as the night, he held onto Taehyung’s waist like it meant a new world for him.
He whispered into his stomach, “I know it wouldn’t be better. I want you to keep me. I like you. I don’t want anyone else.”
Taehyung touched his back and in between his ears, and looked to the ceiling for answers. Preferably written out descriptively and clearly.
“You don’t know what you’re saying. I’m just the first nice person you’ve met in years.”
“No. You’re good.”
“I’m dangerous. I’m on a million hit lists. I forget how to touch people when I hold my gun for too long. I come home still seeing red and throw things and break shit. I run an empire built on crimes.” He massaged into the base of Jungkook’s ears, pursing his lips. “I think I've realized why I’m hesitating. Not because I’m not sure if I want you or not, but because I want to be somewhere safe for you, and I don’t think I can give that to you.”
The bunny vehemently shook his head into his shirt, scrunched up his nose, and constricted his arms. Why wasn’t this human listening to him?
“You’re the only safe place. I haven't found one in so long.”
“It won’t always be like that,” Taehyung murmured, gazing down at him. “They’ll want to hurt you—everyone who wants to hurt me.”
In one last gush of confidence, the hybrid said slow and sure, muffled by the folds of his shirt, “I want you.”
“Don’t say things like that,” Taehyung said, looking through his eyelashes at this point, closing his eyes before he could see the future of this hybrid’s near end. “You’ll make me want you too. And I always take what I want, little one.”