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Kailee Morgue - Siren

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Yoongi couldn’t believe he had to do this, driving through Seoul in the remnants of late Friday afternoon traffic to go see the man he had betrayed all those years ago. It was stupid of their chief to think that the man had somehow changed in the last few years and would be willing to help the very fucking people who had put him away in the first place.

But Yoongi had no choice. He had to do this. They had to get the gangster nicknamed Ryu, birth name Kang Ji-Won, or else it would be Namjoon and Hoseok’s heads. He couldn’t let anything happen to his friends. Not after he had spent so long trying to protect them. So, he would do whatever it took, even if it meant begging on his knees to the one man he was reminded of each day with the tattoo right below his ribcage: KTH. A clumsily lettered keepsake of what he had done. Who he had betrayed to get to where he was now. A head of department at twenty-nine, a decent apartment and keeping Namjoon and Hoseok safe.

As the GPS led him through downtown Seoul and finally through leafy green middle-class neighbourhoods, Yoongi looked around curiously. It looked nothing like what the he had been expecting. No expensive apartment buildings in the UN village or a big, fancy house in Hannam-dong. This place seemed domestic, with communal parks and grandmothers struggling up the steep hills on their prescribed daily walks.

Yoongi glanced at his phone again to make sure he had the right address, and the confirmation left his stomach in knots. Swallowing, he parked his car and simply stayed there for a moment, watching an old man with groceries disappear into his home.

For a second, he considered reaching for a cigarette, needing something to distract him. It was dumb, he hadn’t had one of those in years and he didn’t even have any in the car. He let out a laugh at how this situation had him tense enough to want to smoke again.

Yoongi didn’t do tense. He preferred a more relaxed approach to his job.

Today though…

“All right, Min Yoongi,” he muttered to himself, running a hand through his way too long dark hair that made him look like his teenage self again who insisted on wearing black and listening to strictly 90s hip hop. “Be calm. You can definitely do this.”

Seokjin always claimed that if he said something enough times, he’d start to believe it.

Seokjin was usually right, but not this time. This time Yoongi just felt like shit.

He stepped out of the car and walked up to the gate, taking another deep breath and suddenly overly conscious about his standard white shirt and black slacks. The gate clicked open, bringing Yoongi back to earth. Sighing, he stepped through the quaint stone walkway up to the door, but before he could knock, it swung open and there he was; the man Yoongi hadn’t seen in three years. The man whose initials were etched into his skin permanently. The man he had once loved and betrayed.

Kim Taehyung.

Yoongi remembered first time he saw him. He was young, bright eyed and new to the white collar division in Gangnam. Taehyung and his crew were the prime suspects for a major art works heist that went all the way to the top, including museum curators and politicians. Taehyung was the crew’s leader. Twenty-four and already a seasoned dealer and thief, respected in his circle. Taehyung had been on the streets since he was a child, getting mixed up in the art scene at a young age. Yoongi had never found out how exactly Taehyung had ended up as an art thief, but there he had been; Yoongi’s assignment. Yoongi had never stood a chance.

Taehyung’s hair was dark now, a far cry from the electric blue he was sporting the last time Yoongi saw him, being dragged along in handcuffs, a smirk on his face. His face looked brighter too, a little more mature, angles more severe and impossibly fare skin even more stunning. For all the problems Taehyung had presented, his face was always the biggest one for Yoongi.

“Min Yoongi!” Taehyung exclaimed, that wide grin on his face, eyes sparkling like he was truly happy to see him. “It’s been so long,” Taehyung said like they were old friends, moving aside to let Yoongi in and shutting the door behind them.

“The last time I saw you—” Taehyung paused. “I was being taken away by the police.”

Despite himself, Yoongi felt his cheeks flush, remembering what had happened before that. The intoxicating sex, surrendering himself completely to Taehyung.

“Taehyung-ssi,” Yoongi rasped out, toeing off his shoes, politely.

Taehyung made a face, pouting a little. “I was just Tae at some point.” He paused smiling oddly. “Or Taehyungie when you were feeling particularly needy.”

“Taehyung.”

Yoongi’s head was prickling with distress. Being face to face with Taehyung felt strange, a mixture of confusion, unresolved feelings and regret. He had been expecting this of course, but he hadn’t been expecting how hard it would hit him. Yet, he had to remind himself that Taehyung was a criminal. He had been to jail for stealing one of the most expensive artworks out of Korea.

Taehyung’s smile spread into a grin and started down the passageway. “I’m only joking,” he looked back at Yoongi over his shoulder with the smirk on his face, doe eyes full of everything but innocence. “Relax, will you?”

Yoongi wanted to, he really did but everything about this was off. Why didn’t Taehyung have a gun pointed at his face right now? Why was he welcoming Yoongi into his home with a wide grin like they were old friends?

Yoongi couldn’t come up with an answer and so he busied himself with looking around the place. Predictably, there was art everywhere, standing upright on the dark wood floors, on the walls, along with plants too—ivy, monsteras, spider plants. It seemed more like a nursey and a gallery smashed into one, a certain innocence to it. It was different from Taehyung’s old place, the cold marble surfaces, harsh modern lines and opioids on the glass tables.

They ended up in the kitchen and Yoongi took a seat by the counter as Taehyung reached into the fridge, pulling out a bottle of wine and raising it at Yoongi with an arched eyebrow. “Wine? It’s just after five.”

Yoongi was still on the clock but his nerves were all over the place. Maybe a glass of wine could help loosen his tongue—get him to smash his pride. He gave a stiff nod and Taehyung nodded in response, pouring two glasses for the both of them and placing one in front of Yoongi.

“You seem nervous, hyung,” Taehyung said, tilting his head to the side in consideration and shoving his hands into what looked like green silk pyjama bottoms. “Is everything okay?”

Yoongi tried to remind himself that he was in charge here but even that didn’t stop him from feeling winded. He could still see the day he had realised he was in love with Taehyung and the following feeling of knowing it was simply too late to back out.

                                                                        ____

It was the morning of the arrest in Taehyung’s apartment. Yoongi opened his eyes to Taehyung kissing his neck and a light drizzle outside as Seoul roused itself awake.

“Hey, baby,” Taehyung whispered just below his ear.

Yoongi tried to hide his smile. It had only been six months, but he was so in love. He had even allowed himself to forget. Forget that he was on a job and not some young twenty-something in love with the most beautiful man on earth. How could he remember when the enigmatic Kim Taehyung had chosen him.

Yoongi hadn’t been expecting it. Their chief hadn’t told him the plan. Namjoon hadn’t even known about the arrest. If he did, maybe he could have warned Yoongi. And then what would have Yoongi done?

They had busted in though, warrants in hand, ordering Taehyung to get down on the ground.

What struck Yoongi the most as he startled, a mug of coffee in his hand, was that Taehyung hadn’t seemed surprised. He had calmly done as he was told and gotten on his knees in the middle of the living room, despite the guns pointing at him, looking right at Yoongi as he did so. As the officers handcuffed him, read him his rights and picked him off the ground, Taehyung grinned at Yoongi, like he had known all along.

“I’ll miss you too, babe,” he said.

And then he had been dragged away, before Yoongi could say a word, before he could explain. The precinct had all congratulated him on his excellent work and their chief had even promoted him. All Yoongi was left with was guilt, and a tattoo.

                                                                        


 

 

“So, what is this this all about, hyung?” Taehyung finally asked, eyebrow arched as he took his seat opposite Yoongi.  

Yoongi had practiced how he would approach this. He had gone over this with Namjoon and Seokjin countless times, but caught in Taehyung’s gaze, he was suddenly lost. He could barely remember why he was there in the first place. To hide his unease, he took a quick sip of his wine, clearing his throat and looking carefully at Taehyung.

It was fine.

He could do this.

It had been three years and now Yoongi felt nothing for Taehyung.

“I need your help,” he began and the words felt wrong on his tongue. His hand immediately flew to fiddle his ear in nervousness. Judging from the way Taehyung was staring at him, he could feel how wrong it was too. Yoongi didn’t stop though. He needed to remember that he wasn’t doing this for himself. If he had been offered a choice, he wouldn’t be there. This was for Namjoon and Hoseok. For their freedom at last.

He breathed. “Word on the street is that Ryu or Kang Ji-Won is about to put The Maiden up for sale.  But the catch is, we don’t have enough evidence proving Ji-Won actually has the painting. He’s keeping this sale under wraps given the amount of people who have been looking for it and how valuable it is. We know the painting is in his possession and he needs a dealer to inspect it for its value before he starts the bidding. This is our only chance to get someone like Ji-Won.”

Taehyung was quiet for a second, fingers dancing around the rim of the glass, and then he looked up at Yoongi, eyes sparkling. “The Maiden,” he murmured. “That’s been missing since the Olympics in eighty-eight.”

Something hit Yoongi when he looked back into Taehyung’s eyes. Once again, Kim Taehyung was not surprised.

Yoongi found himself laughing. “You already knew what Ji-Won is up to, didn’t you?”

Taehyung looked at him for a moment, eyes unreadable. Yoongi realised that Taehyung could be planning his murder and he would never know. No one would. Even after the time they spent together, he still couldn’t read the innocent doe eye that said nothing at all.

“His people might have called me,” Taehyung shrugged sipping his wine casually. “I might have answered.”

Yoongi let out a breath. This was good. This was their in. “Would you help us?” he asked, voice strangely desperate. “Present yourself to Ji-Won and offer to price his painting for him. Tell us when the hand-off will be done and that’s it. No blood. No getting your hands dirty.”

Taehyung was smiling, clearly enjoying this strange position they had found themselves in. Yoongi begging for his help years after he had betrayed him. Yoongi kept thinking what a bad idea this all was. He had thought so too last night in the precinct when their chief had called him in and given him no choice.

                                                                           


 

“You have history with Kim Taehyung,” the old man said. It was more a statement than a question. He was in his fifties and by now, only two years in their department and the entire white collar division knew he was mixed up in some bad shit. The old man though had important friends in even more important places. Friends that paid him off for any money laundering or fraud they committed. Kang Ji-Won was no exception and as Yoongi sat in the office, he couldn’t help but think that their chief was working some kind of angle in his determination to get his hands on the painting.

“I knew him, yes,” Yoongi responded carefully.

No one but Namjoon, Hoseok and Seokjin knew about the nature of their relationship or at least they pretended not to know. It wasn’t discussed in the office, even though everyone had seen his small tattoo by now and probably knew what KTH stood for. They probably assumed that Yoongi took his assignment very seriously and that had earned him their respect—even from his grouchy seniors.

“Excellent, so it wouldn’t be a problem for you to contact him and ask him to be our informant on this case.”

Yoongi’s breath hitched, unsure whether he’d heard the old man correctly.

“Sir, I don’t think—”

“I don’t really care what you think, Min,” the chief said flippantly. “I’d prefer it if you didn’t think at all.”

Yoongi was undeterred, gritting his teeth. “Kim Taehyung is a criminal.”

The chief slammed the file he had in his hand onto the table, making Yoongi jump. “If I were you, I’d do as I’ve been told. Don’t you want your little partner’s boyfriend in the clear? I can get you that Min, but you have to get me Kim Taehyung first.”

The mention of Namjoon and Hoseok had sent him spiralling, desperate to get his friend’s freedom. Now it had been presented to him on a platter—for a fee of course.

Jung Hoseok was currently under investigation for manslaughter. Two years ago, he had stabbed the owner of a gentleman’s club he used to dance at after the man had forced himself on him. Hoseok had bolted but the police had caught on. The investigation had been open for almost a year and a half now. Namjoon and him had met just after it happened and Namjoon had made it his life mission to get his boyfriend off.

Even if the chief was promising Hoseok’s freedom in exchange for Ji-Won and this damn painting, Yoongi could also read the laced threat. It sent a chill up his spine.

If Yoongi refused to involve Taehyung in this then that would definitely be Hoseok’s head. The old man would find a way to pin it all to Hoseok despite all the evidence showing the man was a human trafficker amongst other awful things.  But if Yoongi cooperated then Hoseok went free.

It was wicked but the man knew where to push. Knew how to get Yoongi working.

“Sir,” Yoongi bowed, agreeing to the deal.

“Here’s his number. I want this case wrapped up as soon as possible and I trust you can make it happen for me, Min.”

Yoongi stood to bow like the obedient soldier he had been tasked to be. “Yes, sir.”

                                                                        


 

And that’s how he had found himself here, still facing Taehyung’s curious eyes. Still lost for words.  

But people like Taehyung couldn’t be trusted, even if they now lived in a house full of plants and made their own meals. But his boss wanted Taehyung so Yoongi would do as he was told. For Hoseok and Namjoon.

Taehyung took another sip, cool eyes still trained on Yoongi. “Ji-Won offered me a shit ton of money for this job.” Taehyung leaned in close. “If I say yes to you instead, what’s in it for me, hyung?”

Of course, Yoongi thought. No way Taehyung would do this out of the goodness of his own heart. No one would. Luckily, Yoongi was prepared.

“You’re on probation, right?” he leaned in. “Can’t leave Korea. Have to notify some soulless agent on your every move for the next three years?” Yoongi paused smiling, trying his best to lure Taehyung in, just as he had all those years ago in his penthouse, liking the way Taehyung watched him with those eyes. “You do this and you get off. Your records will be wiped clean. You’ll have no felonies. Not even any speeding tickets. You’d truly be free.”

Taehyung was quiet for a moment, watching Yoongi carefully, eyes reading fast as they always did. Ever discerning, capable of seeing the most miniscule flaw. A true artist’s eye.

“And why would I trust you, hyung? If I remember correctly, you lied to me, told me you loved me and landed me in jail.”

Yoongi swallowed, guilt seeping into him once again. Taehyung was right. There was no reason for him to trust him. He had lied so much.

Yoongi sat up straight and pushed the wine aside. “You’d be absolutely right to not trust me, Taehyung-ah. I did lie. But you have to understand that it was my job. What happened wasn’t planned. I should have—” Yoongi paused, looking at his hands. He felt tired all of a sudden, not even sure how to continue with the delayed apology. “I’m sorry for what I did, but you have to believe me when I say I need your help.”

Taehyung tilted his head once again when Yoongi looked back up, mouth open slightly. “You never tried to find me after.”

It didn’t sound regretful, more like he was stating a fact about the weather or physics.

Yoongi wasn’t sure what to say. Did he tell Taehyung of how for months he was too riddled with guilt he couldn’t even look in the mirror or how his tattoo burned for a long time after it all happened. He doubted Taehyung wanted to hear any of that though. If the roles were reversed, he might have never agreed to see Taehyung in the first place.

“Look,” Yoongi began, not knowing where he was going with that exactly, but before he could continue, Taehyung cut him off.

“You don’t have to explain, hyung. I was just part of a job. You did what you had to do”

Yoongi wanted to tell him that it wasn’t true, to refute the statement and assure Taehyung that he had loved him once. That it all turned into something more than a job, but something about Taehyung’s smile stopped him.

“I knew you were a cop, by the way. To be fair, I found out when it was too late. Jimin saw you talking to Namjoon, is it? Handing over evidence.”

Yoongi stopped breathing as Taehyung talked.  All these years he’d always wondered whether Taehyung knew and now he had the answer. Of course he did. Yoongi had known from the way Taehyung looked at him that morning in the apartment.

“Why didn’t you run?” Yoongi asked carefully.

Taehyung was quiet for a second, like he was thinking about it. “Maybe I wanted to believe Jimin was wrong. I mean you allowed me to tattoo my initials on your body, hyung.”

Yoongi bit his bottom lip to stop himself from speaking. Stop himself from apologising again. “Taehyung…” he trailed.

Taehyung stood and came round to Yoongi, a smile playing on his lips. “Don’t worry, hyung. I’m not angry. Crazy how forgiving being locked up can make you.”

Something about his words made Yoongi doubt him.

“I’ll help you,” Taehyung continued, edging closer to Yoongi. He placed his hands on the sides of the stool Yoongi sat on, and spun him to face to the side and bring their faces closer. Yoongi could see every feature now. The double lid and the mono-lid that matched his own. The birth mark on his nose. Taehyung looked older, features sharper and severe. In the years Yoongi hadn’t seen him, he had managed to grow even more breath-taking. He smiled at Yoongi, eyes hypnotising. Yoongi was holding his breath.

“I’ll accept Ji-Won’s offer, price his painting for him and tell you where the hand-off will be done.” His mouth spread into a grin. “Promise.”

Something prickled in the back of Yoongi’s mind. Something told him that this was all off. His job was to be discerning and it all seemed a little too convenient that his chief had asked for Taehyung specifically whilst Taehyung had already been contacted by Ji-Won. They had also picked him for the case, knowing his history with Taehyung, romantic or not.

“Something wrong?” Taehyung asked, finally moving away and leaning against the counter.

Yoongi looked up at him and shook his head, standing from the stool to escape. He needed to think.

“Uh, no,” Yoongi replied quickly, looking away to a particularly intrusive ivy. “Just didn’t expect you to agree so easily.”  

That little voice in his head told him to get back to the precinct as Taehyung looked him over, tongue running against his bottom lip. It took everything for Yoongi not mimic the action.

“Do you still have it?” Taehyung asked after a breath of silence.

“What?”

Yoongi knew what. He was always aware of the ‘KTH’ on his ribcage.

He remembered the night he had gotten it. It wasn’t even some alcohol fuelled impulse. They were walking home from dinner, drunk in love and Yoongi had forgotten. In the span of six months, he had forgotten himself and his job. He was young and so, so stupid.

So when Taehyung had proposed tattoos, Yoongi hadn’t thought much about it. He hadn’t thought about what it meant to have Taehyung etched permanently into his skin. He had loved seeing Taehyung getting the MYG on his own ribcage. The tattoo the only confirmation that Taehyung had felt the same. They were stupid and so lost in each other.

Yoongi had allowed himself to forget.

 

Taehyung smiled, inching closer to Yoongi. “That was one my favourite nights together. I really trusted you, hyung.” He paused. “Makes me wonder if I should trust you now.”

His eyes glinted, dancing in the afternoon light and Yoongi had never been able to resist their glint before. He wondered if he could now.

It seemed they were both caught in a dilemma.

“Taehyung…” he breathed, allowing the words to form in his mouth. “I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

Taehyung glanced back at him, eyelashes wet, and Yoongi forgot how to breathe once again. “Show me?” he asked, deceptively innocent.

Of course Yoongi knew better, but his hands were working against him and moving fast to pull up his shirt and show Taehyung the tattoo. And for a moment, Taehyung just looked at it, mind working as he did so. Yoongi’s heart jumped, his chest heaving up and down nervously.

The air was charged with something, its electricity coursing through them. Taehyung reached forward slowly, soft, cool hand gripping his waist and thumb running over the small lettering. The electricity intensified, heat rushing through Yoongi’s entire body from the simple touch. He let his hands drop to the sides, his shirt falling back down with them, but Taehyung got his grip on his waist, other hand moving quickly to move his shirt up again.

“Do you remember how desperate you were to belong to me, hyung?” Taehyung asked quietly. “Was that all part of the act?”

And he sounded genuinely curious, but Yoongi couldn’t think with Taehyung’s hand on his bare skin. He didn’t know where the charade began and where it ended. But he knew that it all wasn’t an act. Loving Taehyung was never an act.

“No,” he answered. “How I felt was real, Tae. All of it.”

It was all three years too late, but Yoongi’s head was made of fog now and all he could do was focus on Taehyung’s hand. His thumb rubbing against the tattoo and burning him.

“Hmm,” Taehyung hummed and Yoongi had no idea what it all meant, but suddenly Taehyung was on his knees.

Yoongi took in a sharp breath as Taehyung looked up, holding Yoongi’s gaze, eyes peeking through eyelashes innocently like some sort of veneration. Both hands rested on Yoongi’s sides now and Yoongi had to remind himself to breathe, yet he was too caught up in Taehyung’s eyes.

“You know when you messaged me, I thought it was some kind of joke. I even messaged Jiminie about it, but then you mentioned Kang Ji-Won and I was intrigued since he did contact me first. I didn’t realise seeing you again would make me feel like this.” He paused, hands still resting on Yoongi’s waist, squeezing lightly. “And seeing this tattoo just reminded me of all the terrible things you let me do to you, hyung, just to make me happy.”

Taehyung’s smile was anything but sweet now. He was smiling like he had won some game and this was his prize. “Do you still love having a plug inside you all night before getting fucked ‘til you cry?”

The oddly casual tone made Yoongi’s breathing hitch and his dick twitch in his pants in interest. After Taehyung sex had become mundane—a functionality to wear off the stress.

With Taehyung it had been—Yoongi had never been like that with anyone else. Allowing himself to lose his entire being during sex.

And then Taehyung’s mouth was on him, kissing gently on his belly and then the tattoo, and the kisses morphed into little nips and Yoongi’s head fell back, hand gripping the counter behind him to stop himself from falling into himself. He fought the moan that was building up his throat and tried to ignore the fact that Taehyung was on his knees for him.

Taehyung kept gently mouthing at the tattoo, biting, making Yoongi groan. He felt the smile against his skin as his hand travelled into Taehyung’s hair unintentionally. It felt good—so good to feel the soft locks again, to smell Taehyung’s scent. Yoongi was so tempted to lose himself.

“I have to head back to work,” Yoongi mumbled, anything to get out of the situation.

Taehyung let go suddenly, standing before Yoongi, eyes wild, and colour on his cheeks that probably matched his own. Yoongi knew better. He knew there were thousands of reasons he should be heading back to the precinct but Taehyung was as beautiful as ever and he was glued to the spot.

“Don’t,” Taehyung said.

“I can’t,” Yoongi tried but it was a useless attempt.

Taehyung grinned, grabbing hold of Yoongi’s waist once again and pulling him closer, until they were flush against each other, breathing heavily. Before Yoongi could protest, Taehyung kissed him. As soon as their lips met, the familiarity sunk into him. He knew exactly how to respond, how to move and where to touch. Something in the back of his mind desperately tried to remind him that he should drive back to work but it wasn’t loud enough. Taehyung backed away for a moment, arching his eyebrow in an unspoken question. Yoongi nodded and brought him back to his lips, biting Taehyung’s  bottom lip and licking teasingly. Taehyung was impatient though, pulling Yoongi closer as their tongues met. Yoongi could feel Taehyung already and he knew he was half there too, desperate to be touched.

This was all wrong. He knew that. Taehyung probably knew that too, but it was too late and hands were already everywhere, as their breathing got louder.

“See baby, told you I’d miss you,” Taehyung breathed.

And Yoongi was lost, his lips smashing into Taehyung’s hungrily. Years of hurt and guilt seeping out of him as he got his first taste. It was a hundred times better than any cigarette.

 

“What do you want me to do, hyung?” Taehyung asked, looming above Yoongi. Somehow they had managed to make their way up to Taehyung’s room and Yoongi was lying on his back on the bed, a little too blissed out. He knew he was going to hate himself after but seeing Taehyung like this had him lost. He couldn’t bring himself to care what it would mean in three or four hours. He didn’t know what it was about Taehyung that made him so selfish.

Taehyung’s hand was on his crotch, palming him, and Yoongi was fighting every urge to buck up his hips and grind into his palm. Taehyung glanced down, grinning. “You can get yourself off like that too, if that’s what you want.”

Yoongi had always hated that cocky smile but he was spiralling, the temptation to just grind up in search on friction outweighing his vague annoyance at Taehyung.

“Wanna s-see your tattoo,” Yoongi breathed, licking his lips eagerly.

That made Taehyung pause for a second, as he leaned back and regarded Yoongi closely. His tongue ran against his bottom lip. “Earn it,” he murmured, running his thumb against Yoongi’s lips.

Yoongi almost protested but this was what he wanted, wasn’t it? This was what he had always enjoyed with Taehyung—surrendering his power. It scared him how easily he had slipped back into it.

But Yoongi wanted to see it. Wanted to see the MYG like some kind of reminder.

“No,” he bit out. “Wanna see it. Now”

Taehyung cocked an eyebrow, amused, but he did as he was told, slipping off his t-shirt to reveal the wide expanse of his chest and the taut muscles. Yoongi’s eyes travelled down and right there in the same spot as his own, were his own initials, MYG.

He let out a quiet breath.

Taehyung watched him, eyes unreadable before he leaned forward once again, lips coming to Yoongi’s ears and whispering. “Now I’ll tell you what I want, hyung.”

And Yoongi shivered, cock twitching at the soft velvety voice. It took everything from him not to moan.

“Wanna see you cry. Want you to tell me how much you missed having me inside you.” Taehyung’s voice was low and so close. Yoongi couldn’t take it, hand moving to Taehyung’s neck and pulling him into a kiss. It was messy and clothes were flying off everywhere, Yoongi not even sure who was removing what and when. All he knew was that he was hard, and he wanted Taehyung desperately.

“Then do it,” Yoongi tried to sound as nonchalant as possible, but it came out gritted and desperate.

Taehyung smirked against his mouth and leaned down to lick Yoongi’s neck, tongue trailing down to his now bare chest, sucking on a particularly erect nipple. It pulled out a quiet groan from the back of his throat. Yoongi rubbed himself against Taehyung involuntarily, desperate to be fucked now that the image is settled in his mind.

Taehyung placed a hand around Yoongi’s neck, gripping softly, just enough to get Yoongi’s blood rush. He was going to have marks the following day, and it was too warm to wear a scarf. But who actually cared?

“Relax, hyung. I want to take it slow. Don’t you?”

“No,” Yoongi shot back, voice spent.

That made Taehyung chuckle softly as he ran a hand through Yoongi’s now sweaty hair, brushing it out of his face. “So pretty yet so impatient. I see nothing has changed.” He leaned down and kissed Yoongi again. This time, Yoongi moaned into Taehyung’s mouth. All he had to do was flip Taehyung over and have his way but he stayed where he was because of patience and something about virtue.

“Please, Tae…”

Finally, Taehyung reached for the lube and handed it to Yoongi, eyes dark and full of want. It made Yoongi grind up into thin air, always a sucker for a prettily flushed Taehyung.

“Fuck yourself open for me.”

They were simple words but they drove Yoongi to action, aching and desperate and Taehyung stared at him, lips parted, wide eyes gleaming in the dim lighting of the setting sun.

Yoongi did as he was told, moaning when his fingers dripped with lube and found their way to his opening. He didn’t really waste time, circling one finger in slowly, maintaining eye contact as he did so until his knuckle is fully buried. He watched Taehyung the whole time, the younger gazing at him like he was the most mesmerising thing and it only drove him further. He had missed this. He had missed the way Taehyung watched him. It made him want to do well and be good.

“Tae,” Yoongi whined when he managed to get another finger in, head falling back, chest rising after noticing Taehyung palming himself slowly, still completely absorbed by him.

Yoongi was desperate, scissoring himself open as his hips circled into thin air and he wanted  Taehyung now. Taehyung finally moved, coating his own fingers with lube moving his index finger in alongside Yoongi’s. The burn made Yoongi cry out but it soon dissipated as he adjusted, moving his own finger along with Taehyung’s in rhythm, not sure whose finger was whose as they grazed his prostate.

“You gonna come like this?” Taehyung asked dark eyes heady with desire and Yoongi felt another finger, making him curl into himself, head falling back once again in desperation. Taehyung hushed him softly, running a hand through his hair, and brushing it from his sweaty brow. “It’s okay, hyung. I’m right here,” he whispered.

Yoongi’s eyelashes were wet and Taehyung leaned down to kiss him gently.

“ ‘M r-ready, Tae. Please.” He sounded so eager and Taehyung was smiling down at him before pulling out his fingers. Yoongi followed, hating the emptiness he felt.

Taehyung hummed looking down at him, placing his hands behind his thighs and rubbing lightly. “So fucking perfect. Do you want me like this, hyung?”

Yoongi didn’t trust himself to speak so he simply nodded and Taehyung bit his bottom lip hard, like he was trying to stop himself from speaking. He lined himself up perfectly with Yoongi and he was already wet from the precum.

“Fuck me,” Yoongi heard himself beg and if this had been with anyone else, he would have cringed at the cliché but here he was.

 Taehyung laughed but he obliged, sliding in slowly. It was so good and torturous at the same time. Torturous because of how slow Taehyung moved, like he wanted to see just how far he could drive Yoongi to the edge. Yoongi adjusted his hips, trying to get used to the stretch, but Taehyung held him still, making Yoongi grit his teeth.

“Jesus. Move.”

Taehyung chuckled before burying himself deeply in Yoongi with a loud smack. Yoongi’s head snapped back onto the pillow, a loud cry escaping his mouth. And Taehyung was gripping his thighs tightly, keeping him in place and at his mercy as he pulled out and slammed back in again, coaxing another choked cry from Yoongi.

This is exactly what he wanted. What Taehyung could do to him. What he had missed.

Taehyung was breathing just as heavily, and Yoongi could see the sweat on his brow as he pulled out again, making Yoongi whine. He wanted more, but his vision was blurring and this was all a little too rough for what his body had grown used to. He barely allowed anyone to fuck him.

Taehyung’s hand slipped from his thigh and onto his neck again, pulling him into a messy kiss. Yoongi took what he could, his lips running against Taehyung’s jaw.

“You’re so--” Taehyung whispered hurriedly, unable to finish the sentence when Yoongi kissed him again.

He was vaguely aware of his own neglected cock, throbbing as Taehyung hit against his prostate again and again. Everything was going white around him and all he could focus on were the sounds Taehyung was making and the ones escaping his own mouth—needy and breathy.

“M-missed you,” Yoongi found himself saying, hand reaching down to give himself some attention. “Missed you so much.” 

Taehyung smirked, taking Yoongi’s hand away. “Uh-uh. Behave, baby,” he breathed. And it hurt so good, the sting mixing with the throbbing of his own cock. He felt the tears threaten the corners of his eyes but he fought them off, taking Taehyung fully. He desperately tried to reach Taehyung’s waist to touch his own tattoo.

Seeing it drove Yoongi to the edge, until he was begging Taehyung to let him come. “Tae, p-please, please,” he whined. Taehyung hummed, and Yoongi knew the younger was  smug. “Taehyung,” he tried again, sweat dripping down his brow, aching and so desperate for some attention.

Finally, Taehyung wrapped a hand around him and it barely took any effort before Yoongi was spilling into Taehyung’s hand and crying his name, eyes blurring with tears as Taehyung fucked him through his orgasm.

“You’re doing so good, hyung,” Taehyung praised him, still fucking into him as the pace quickened. It was all too much and all Yoongi could see now was white, thighs starting to ache and Taehyung’s other hand tightening its grip. Yoongi had never been a fan of overstimulation even with Taehyung and as his orgasm began to fade, the tears streamed down his cheeks slowly.

Taehyung let out a quiet groan as he stilled, breathing heavily as he came, leaning down to kiss Yoongi. Yoongi held him close, trying to kiss him but failing. He felt Taehyung massage his thighs carefully.

“You okay?” he asked softly.

Yoongi didn’t really know and when Taehyung pulled out of him and got rid of the condom, he barely registered the movement. He was quickly back touching him gently again and Yoongi couldn’t think. He just wanted to fall asleep and deal with the consequences later.

“Hyung,” Taehyung tried again. “Answer me, please. I need to know you’re okay.”

Yoongi finally opened his eyes and looked at Taehyung who was unfairly gorgeous even in these circumstances. Yoongi had never met anyone who fucked him so well and the idea of that three years later was a point of concern.

“Why did you agree to help me? Why not just take Ji-Won’s money?” He asked, because he really needed to know. Yoongi couldn’t read Taehyung’s eyes. In that moment, he really wished he could when Taehyung smiled and brushed the hair out of his face before leaning down to kiss him deeply, tongue and all. He pulled back for a second, the same strange smile on his face, “Because you would have never asked me if you weren’t desperate, hyung.”

Yoongi didn’t know why, but something about it made him nervous. 

“And I’ve always liked you desperate for me.” Taehyung sat up, grinning like a child. “Now let’s get cleaned up, okay?"

 

Chapter Text

 

Dinner with Seokjin, Namjoon and Hoseok had become somewhat of a ritual and with this ritual came strict rules. There was no discussion of work at the table and there was definitely no discussion of Hoseok’s ongoing case. That Sunday though, things were different.

Seokjin kept shooting Yoongi curious glances, and Hoseok looked anxious to get something off his chest with that little smile on his face that kept trying to show itself.

“Why are we being weird?” Yoongi looked around, taking a sip of his beer just as Hoseok looked down at his own food. A quiet fell over the table, the other three firing glances at each other that told Yoongi that they knew exactly what was going on, leaving him out. Across him, Namjoon ran a hand through his freshly bleached blond hair.

“Ah, we said no work or talks about Hoseok’s case at dinner.”

Yoongi narrowed his eyes. Now he was curious. Plus, it’s not like rule was part of the Ten Commandments or anything. “It’s not that serious, Joon-ah. Just spit it out.”

Across him, Hoseok let out a laugh, covering his mouth immediately, and lifting a hand in apology. “I’m sorry, but I can’t leave him looking like this guys,” he said, still giggling to himself. “Hyung, I have good news.”

Yoongi arched an eyebrow in question. Hoseok shot Namjoon another careful look before he spoke. “Namjoonie got word from Homicide earlier today,” he started, breathing heavily, like he couldn’t believe it himself. “Apparently they are in talks to drop my case.”

Immediately, Yoongi’s heart slammed against his chest. A part of him wanted to go over and hug his friend but something told him to stay put.

“Why haven’t they done it yet?” he asked cautiously.

Namjoon shrugged, probably wondering why Yoongi wasn’t jumping for joy or at least looking slightly more excited. “Who knows? But my contact says there are ‘loose ends’ that needed to be tied—whatever that means.”

Yoongi knew exactly which ‘loose ends’ they were referring to. If he got Ji-Won then Hoseok got off. If not then they were all fucked. It was all resting on them and Namjoon and Seokjin didn’t even know. Yoongi though, forced himself to smile.

“Shit, Seok,” he breathed, “That’s amazing!”

He meant it but he could still feel the murkiness of his anxiety creeping in and dampening his spirits. After what had happened with Taehyung, he wasn’t really sure he could trust himself or his instincts. Friday night had thrown him completely off kilter. It was on him to wrap up this case as soon as possible and get Hoseok free, but Taehyung was involved now and that had always been Yoongi’s blind spot.

“I can feel your enthusiasm,” Seokjin said blankly next to him.

Yoongi smiled, albeit unconvincingly. “Simply worried about the ‘loose ends’ bit, that’s all.”

Hoseok shrugged, grinning at Namjoon. “Look on the bright side, hyung. They want to drop the case. Like it’ll all be gone. Like gone, gone. I can finally sleep at night.”

Yoongi was happy, he really was but the little voice in the back of his mind still kept nagging. “Congratulations, Seok. You deserve this. You deserve to be happy.”

Yoongi knew Jin was looking at him oddly as Namjoon and Hoseok returned to their food, too happy to let Yoongi’s caution disturb them.

“So, since we’ve already broken the rules,” he started. “How was your meeting with Taehyung?”

Yoongi choked on the noodle he had half-swallowed, prompting a laugh from Hoseok across the table. Despite himself, Yoongi was already sweating. He had hoped to avoid this question until he briefed their team Monday morning. He wasn’t going to tell them about the sex—obviously. The day before, he had convinced himself that it was a lapse in judgment, finding closure in a way and that it would never happen again. Taehyung had agreed to help them and that’s all that mattered. It was all that was supposed to matter. Never mind the sex which he had still felt the day before. Never mind their history.

“Fine,” Yoongi answered simply, but they were all looking at him curiously now. “He uh-he agreed to help.”

Namjoon seemed sceptical. “In exchange for what exactly?”

“A clean record. It’s what the chief promised.”

Next to him, Jin let out a laugh. “Right.” He was apprehensive about the whole thing and he was right to be. They all knew that the old man wasn’t above using dirty tactics to get what he wanted. He also wasn’t above taking money from the rich in exchange for their freedom. “And you believe him?”

Yoongi bit his bottom lip, looking at his friends carefully. There was no other way they would get that painting or Kang Ji-Won for that matter. The case was already being carried out on a hushed basis due to their involvement with Kim Taehyung. Depending on a criminal to solve their case for them wasn’t exactly going to fly with the higher ups.

“There’s not much of a choice.”

It was reminiscent of what the chief had said to him and Yoongi hated the way it was becoming more and more apparent. Yoongi knew Jin had more to say but Namjoon quickly changed the subject, stepping back into safer territory about his father’s new herb garden in their backyard.

Yoongi was grateful. Kim Seokjin had a way of knowing things and he wasn’t exactly up for discussing his sex life with him.

 

When they were done with dinner, the table cleared and Hoseok and Namjoon out on the terrace enjoying a glass of wine and no doubt looking forward to Hoseok’s future freedom, Jin joined Yoongi in the kitchen. They were quiet as they loaded the dishwasher, passing plates and cups between each other. Yoongi knew it was coming, but he still didn’t know what to say when it did.

“You fucked him didn’t you?”

Yoongi choked on his saliva, ears flushing red in an instant. “Jeez, language, hyung.”

Jin rolled his eyes, leaning against the counter and arching his eyebrow as if to say ‘well?’. Yoongi was almost annoyed at himself that it was that obvious, but then again, this was Jin, the one person who knew him better than anyone else did.  

“I technically didn’t do anything to him, per se.” He was stalling, but he also wasn’t in the mood to discuss this. He doubted anyone would be.

Jin laughed but it was hollow and Yoongi was finding it very difficult not to bolt or get everyone out of his apartment or maybe simply telling them all to leave since it was indeed his apartment.

“Christ,” he muttered. “Why do you become such a shit cop whenever it involves Taehyung? What did that kid do to you?”

“Hey!” Yoongi cried, throwing the dish towel in his hands onto the counter. “Look, it just happened, okay? It’s not like I planned it.”

Jin’s eyes were narrowed into slits, like he didn’t believe a word Yoongi was saying. “Should I take lead on this?”

“First of all, no. Secondly, no. Friday was a lapse in rationality—or judgement, whatever the phrase is. Maybe closure. I don’t know. But it’ll never happen again.” Yoongi paused, looking right into Jin’s eyes. “Promise.”

Jin sighed, uncrossing his arms and shaking his head. “Don’t make promises you can’t keep, Yoongi-chi”

Despite the term of endearment, he was undeterred. He wasn’t going to let anything happen with Taehyung again. It would be stupid to, but then again, hadn’t it been stupid the first time all those years ago? Jin looked past Yoongi at the door for a second before turning back to him, mouth twisting like he was thinking very hard.

“What do you think about Seok’s case?” His voice was just above a whisper, brow furrowed and Yoongi realised that Jin and him shared the same doubts about this whole thing.

“Seems convenient that it starts moving again just when we’re about to get our hands dirty with someone like Kang Ji-Won.”

“About that,” Yoongi murmured uneasily, deepening Jin’s frown. “The chief called me to his office Thursday night and basically ordered me to get Taehyung to help us on the case. He said if I did it, he’d get Hoseok off, no charges, nothing. If I didn’t then that would be it.”

Yoongi had been battling with this all weekend. When the case had come about, their small team had been ordered to keep things quiet around the office. No one except for them was allowed to know the details and whilst this wasn’t out of the ordinary, the insistence that Taehyung consult on it too was what was making Yoongi feel uneasy.

“Hold on. Wait,” Jin said hurriedly. “He’s blackmailing you? Why didn’t you say anything?”

Yoongi shrugged. “It’s not like we can do anything, he’s our chief. Look how happy those two are. Working with Taehyung seems like a small sacrifice.”

Jin was sceptical, brow still furrowed. “Yoongi, I don’t trust this.”

“Me neither.” He breathed, looking at the door again just in case Namjoon and Hoseok decided to stop being in love and walk in. “Taehyung already knew about the painting when I got there. He says Ji-Won contacted him to price the painting.”

Jin was quiet for a moment, thinking about what Yoongi had just said. “That seems way too convenient. What are the odds?”

“I know,” Yoongi murmured.

“What do you think it means?”

Yoongi had no idea. He was supposedly an investigator, following paper trails, but none of this made any sense yet. Maybe there was nothing and he was being paranoid but the fact that Jin had immediately thought something was off said everything he needed to know.

“Let’s go along with what the chief orders but look into anything you hear around the precinct? Any suspicious communications he might have?”

Jin’s eyes widened. “You want me to hack into our his phone?”

Yoongi waved him off. “Not hack. Jesus hyung, just-just see what you can find out. You’re good at talking to people.”

Jin pursed his lips, considering it but before he could say anything, Hoseok walked into the kitchen, smiling brightly.

“You guys okay?”

Jin nodded quickly. “Yeah,” he said. “All good. Just couldn’t get the dishwasher started.”

Hoseok glanced down at the already running dishwasher with confusion in his eyes then shrugged. “The sun looks nice. Come join.”

Yoongi shot Jin one last look and they went out to join their friends on the terrace, watching the sun set over wine. It was supposed to be another comforting Sunday evening but Yoongi could feel the tension radiating off Jin. He was right, something was off.

 

Namjoon, Hoseok and Seokjin had left his apartment earlier and Yoongi had settled on the couch, reading over Kang Ji-Won’s profile. The man was from just outside Busan, a rural fishing town and had  come to Seoul at a young age. He quickly involved himself in the major drug trafficking rings and there were even suspicions of human trafficking. He had amassed his wealth selling pharmaceuticals and transporting harder drugs in and out of Korea via ships. Narcotics had never been able to pin any of the operations to him. Instead, there were mounds and mounds information tying Ji-Won’s men to the crimes. Never him.

This stolen artwork was no doubt the front to get him in for something.

Narcotics and Homicide had failed, so it was time for white collar.

The Maiden itself had been stolen from The National Museum during the Olympics in the eighties. It was painted during the Korean War and had gained fame for its subtle violence in the main subject’s eyes, who Yoongi assumed was a comfort woman. Yoongi took in a sharp breath as his eyes read through the files on his laptop screen. He hadn’t allowed himself time to think about Friday or Taehyung. The thought of seeing him already had Yoongi’s stomach in knots and they were all supposed to meet to make a plan of action tomorrow. Just as Yoongi shut his laptop to get some rest, his phone pinged with a new message. His mouth went dry when he opened it.

Kim Taehyung: can’t wait to get started tomorrow!😊

On Friday night, when the high had worn off and reality had sunk in, Yoongi had barely been able to look at Taehyung. Taehyung on the other hand, had seemed oblivious to the tension as Yoongi stumbled over his words, explaining how he needed to get home. He had said good bye with an awkward wave, trying not to think too deeply about Taehyung’s  taunting smile. “See you, Monday, hyung!” And that was it.

Yoongi didn’t have the mental capacity to fathom how he had allowed himself to get fucked so thoroughly by someone he had no business trusting, someone whose words should have made him afraid not turned on. He tried to type in a reply but everything seemed too awkward, so he simply slipped his phone back into his pocket and headed to bed. He would see Taehyung tomorrow.

 

They were avoiding the precinct. It was better that way if they wanted to keep the case under wraps and as far from as many prying eyes as possible. Which is why they were using Seokjin’s apartment as home base. It was the three of them, Taehyung and Taehyung’s friend; Jimin.

Yoongi had only ever met Jimin once or twice, but he remembered how at first, he had assumed that they were together. He had never quite figured out Jimin’s deal but he didn’t seem to be involved in any of Taehyung’s illegal dealings. The last time Yoongi had checked, Jimin was studying fine arts at an art institute. When Jin had questioned his presence, Jimin had simply shrugged and looked right into Jin’s eyes and said, “He needs me.”

And that was that.

Now they were looking at the board Namjoon had set up. It was a bit old school—they had laptops and iPads these days but Namjoon liked to keep things classic. A picture of Kang Ji-Won was stuck on the white board with a huge red arrow stemming to the other pictures scattered all over the board, including a picture of The Maiden. Under it was it’s history. No one knew it’s origins exactly. It had been labelled anon and perhaps this mystery was what added more value to it.

The rest of the pictures also had their own little blurbs, brief profiles and motivations and a whole bunch of question marks Yoongi barely understood. He looked around the gathered group, trying to ignore his curiosity about Jimin, whose eyes were watching all of them just as carefully.

“Okay,” Namjoon began. “This is meant to be pretty simple. The goal is to get Taehyung close enough to Kang Ji-Won and have access to the artwork. Find out what kind of schedule Ji-Won is working under and when the handoff will be carried out.”

It was simple in theory. A get in, get out situation but his and Jin’s reservations about the whole thing were still playing over and over in his mind. Yoongi wondered whether they were missing something and if they were, where the hole could be.

“That’s too easy,” he spoke up. “It’s unlikely Ji-Won himself will be anywhere near this sale. The Maiden is a famous painting and people have been searching for it for decades. Ji-Won wouldn’t implicate himself. He’ll probably get one of his minions to overlook the whole thing.”

The room fell silent, all of them considering his words.

“You said Ji-Won already contacted you?” Namjoon asked, adjusting his glasses which Yoongi was convinced he only wore for aesthetics rather than anything else.

Taehyung, who was leaning against a table, looked at Namjoon. “Yes, he called last week, and asked to meet me,” he said politely.

Namjoon turned to Yoongi. “If he’s meeting Taehyung personally then he’s a lot more involved than he tends to be.” He paused, considering something else. “He could still pin it to someone else though.”

“Isn’t that my job as a witness? Proving that he has had the painting all along,” Taehyung asked from where he stood.  

Namjoon visibly cringed. “You don’t have to be so formal.”

That made Taehyung grin and Yoongi knew that to anyone else, Taehyung was probably the friendliest person alive. He made friends easily and Yoongi knew that was how he had fallen in so easily. Even Namjoon was smiling back at Taehyung.

“That would put you in danger even after the arrest,” Jin pointed out.

Taehyung shrugged, unbothered. “Don’t worry about me.”

That should have rung some bells in all their heads but it didn’t. Taehyung wasn’t moving with his crew from all those years ago. He didn’t have protection—so why wasn’t he worried about Kang Ji-Won retaliating?

“When’s the meeting?” Namjoon asked.

“Tomorrow evening, at his club. You should all come.”

“Why does Tuesday clubbing sound terrible?” Yoongi deadpanned.

“Not that kind of club, hyung,” Taehyung sounded amused. “It’s more a lounge.”

“That still sounds awful,” Yoongi shot back.

“Not if you come,” Taehyung looked back at him, face and voice innocent, but the words anything but. Yoongi was caught in Taehyung’s gaze, but he quickly tore his eyes away when Namjoon cleared his throat.

“Let’s get back on track, shall we?” Namjoon looked between them. “This club, what’s it called?”

“Midnight,” Jimin spoke up for the first time. Yoongi looked at the blond man with plump lips. He was attractive in a juxtaposed way. One of those people whose looks depended on how you dressed them. “It’s an underground club.”

“Underground?” Yoongi asked.

Jimin looked at him levelly, like he was dumb. “Illegal. Drugs, gambling, sex and anything else you can think of in there.”

“Right.”

Narcotics would probably have something to say about that, but then again, that was really not his business.

“Okay, so tomorrow you meet with Ji-Won and he tells you what he wants. You take him up on whatever he’s offering,” Namjoon said. “Maybe resist a little? Negotiate on how much he pays you or something. We don’t want him getting suspicious.”

Taehyung nodded. “No problem.”

This was all too easy, Yoongi thought again, but brushed off the nagging feeling. “I’ll come along,” Yoongi said.

“Same,” Jin said. “Just in case…”

Taehyung clapped his hands, still grinning at them. “Sounds fun.”

 

Midnight was in a back alleyway near Itaewon. It was disguised as a convenience store, but if you travelled down the narrow alley, you found yourself by a black door, with no sign of life except a ‘NO ENTRY’ sign on it. Taehyung though seemed confident as Yoongi and Jin walked behind him, slightly nervous about what they were walking into unarmed.

They were dressed for the occasion though. Yoongi had worn one of the many pairs of black jeans he owned, paired with a black shirt with little star embellishments on it, the buttons popped open. Jin was all black and he was naturally a vision in whatever he wore. Taehyung wore an emerald green shirt, that was a sort of chiffon material, tucked into black slacks. When Yoongi had seen him, his mouth had gone dry. Unfortunately Jin had noticed and he would definitely not hear the end of it.

Taehyung had advised no weapons in case they got body searched. They were also doing this without any wires, just their phones to update Namjoon in case anything happened. It was risky but Yoongi knew they had no choice.

The alleyway was silent, but before Yoongi could ask what was going on, the door slid open and a man with tattoos peeking out of his collar, sporting a buzzcut looked at them carefully, eyebrow arched in question.

“Kim Taehyung,” Taehyung said, voice incredibly upbeat and not at all intimidated by the man who looked like he could crush someone’s skull with his bare hands.

The security guard grunted and glanced at Yoongi and Jin, nudging his chin at them. “And them?”

Before Taehyung could speak, Jin smiled prettily. “Jooyoung and Il-Sung. Friends.” He gestured between them. They had settled on the aliases just in case someone decided to run a background check on them. It was unlikely. They were unarmed and unassuming. Yoongi though, had to be careful around Kang Ji-Won.

The security guard grunted once again, but moved aside to let them in. Yoongi let out a sigh of relief as they stepped into the dark entry way. There was barely any light, but in a distance, he could hear a vague beat, with people laughing and glasses clinking. The guard slipped past them and slid open another black door Yoongi hadn’t noticed and when the gathering was revealed, he almost gasped. The door opened up to a room, lit only by a dim golden light that gave it the appearance of the so-called lounge rather than a club. A quiet song also played in the background but it was mostly drowned out by the people sitting around on couches and drinking.  

On the bottom floor, along with the green black and gold art-deco styled couches and décor, were round tables where men sat around and played gambled. There was a blackjack table, roulette and even some classic Hwatu. Yoongi also spotted a few people walking around with trays in their hands, but instead of drinks, there were wads of cash and pills. It also wasn’t women alone, but men too, scantily dressed in boy shorts. A yelp rang across the room and a man with a cigarette in his mouth was laughing at a waitress after slapping her ass. Yoongi tore his gaze away, wincing at the cloud of smoke that seemed to engulf the room, everything hazy and smelling suspiciously of Soju, weed and cigars.

Behind them, the guard slid the door shut and no one in the room paid any attention to them, too engulfed in their gambling and drinking. Yoongi knew places like this existed around Seoul, but what made them so hard to track was the different locations that constantly changed and the men who frequented them being high-ranking officials themselves who could easily shut any information about these clubs down.

“Do you know where Ji-Won is?” Yoongi asked, eyes still scanning the room.

Next to him, Taehyung ran a hand through his hair dark hair and looked up to the second floor. “Probably somewhere up there in the private rooms but we have to wait for someone to call us up. You can’t just go find him.”

Yoongi followed his gaze. There was a balcony that showed several doors and archways that no doubt led to these ‘private rooms’.

“How will he know you’re here?” Jin asked.

Taehyung shrugged. “Oh he knows. Someone has probably given him word already.”

Jin nodded, but didn’t look convinced. “Okay, I’m gonna look around, see if I hear or see anything. Find me after, okay?” he asked, looking right at Yoongi.

Yoongi nodded, smiling lazily. “Don’t gamble all your money away, okay hyung?”

“Aw, you worry about me.” Jin pouted. “Don’t worry I’ll just find some rich man to buy me a drink.” He slid away, making his way to the bar and smiling charmingly at the bartender.

Yoongi realised that he was left alone with Taehyung for the first time since Friday. They were technically working but he still felt the tension in his own body as he looked up to him. Once again, he was in awe. Taehyung’s eyes were smoky, his lips unbelievably pink—looking like an absolute dream.

Before he could be forced to make any awkward conversation, a young woman with bright coloured lipstick came up to them with a teasing smile.

“Good evening, gentlemen. Can I get you anything?”

Taehyung nodded enthusiastically. “Whisky for him and a White Russian for me.” He turned back to Yoongi. “You still drink whisky, right hyung? Portwood?”

Yoongi hated the way Taehyung was looking at him, like he knew everything about him and there was nowhere he could hide.

He cleared his throat. “Ah, just water is fine, thank you,” he said to the woman with the lipstick.

“Just one drink, hyung. It’ll loosen you up.” He turned back to the waitress and flashed her that million dollar smile once again. “Whisky. Thank you.”

She bowed slightly and moved away, and Yoongi did not miss the men ogling her exposed legs and incredibly glassy high heels.

They were alone again and Yoongi wasn’t sure what to say. They just had to wait for Ji-Won to call them. The plan was that he’d pretend to be Taehyung’s body guard of sorts, someone who saw nothing and said nothing. It was risky but he had to trust Taehyung to say the right things. It was the only way he’d be allowed in the room with him.

“You seem nervous,” Taehyung said, looking right at him.

“Not nervous just cautious,” Yoongi responded, daring himself to look back at Taehyung.

“Wanna play a game to kill the time? I’m an excellent Bridge player.” He wiggled his brows suggestively.

Yoongi looked at the tables in the room, one had a pistol in the centre and he shivered. “Don’t think anyone is playing Bridge here, Taehyung;”

There was a loud shout from one of the tables and instinctively, Yoongi reached for his gun which he realised wasn’t even there. A man in an ill-fitting suit shoved another guy. The other guy didn’t hold up, he fell back onto the table, chips and bills of money falling everywhere with him. Gasps sounded through the room as everyone looked at the scene in curiosity.

“I want my money!” Screamed the one on the floor.

“Fuck you!” the other said roughly and if it had been any other time, Yoongi might have found this all fascinating. He had always been a big fan of movies like the God Father or Oceans Eleven.  

“I’m gonna fucking kill you,” the guy on the floor gritted out as he picked himself up.

The one who had pushed him didn’t even have time to respond,  security guards clad in black descended on the table and were dragging the men out by their collars. Everyone watched in fascination and relief that it wasn’t them being blacklisted and no doubt being banned for life. Across the room, Jin nodded at Yoongi in question and Yoongi discreetly nodded back. They just needed to bide their time.

When the commotion had finally died down to vague murmurs and stolen glances, someone cleared their throat behind Taehyung and when he moved out of the way, a dark haired boy was standing there. He wasn’t a boy as such, but he looked young, maybe even younger than Taehyung. He was also tall, and well-built but his face held a boyish innocence to it that gave away his age. Yoongi figured he must have been no more than twenty-four with those huge round eyes.

“Kim Taehyung?” he enquired carefully.

He was dressed in black dress pants and a white shirt, sleeves rolled up and a few buttons popped open and he had an air to him, like he was someone important. Yoongi also spotted the red marks around on his neck and the beginnings of his chest, hickeys and hand marks, like he had been choked. He figured it was during sex but whoever had done it had been careless about it. If he hadn’t been careful, his windpipe would have been crushed.

Yoongi committed the boy’s face to memory.

Taehyung nodded, smiling. “That would be me,” he said turning to Yoongi. “And my body guard.”

The young man looked over Yoongi curiously, sizing him up and no doubt wondering how a small man like Yoongi could possibly protect a man like Taehyung.

“Mr. Kang would like to see you,” he said.

Taehyung pouted a little. “But we just ordered drinks plus I don’t even know your name.”

The boy looked around, wondering what he should do with a pouting Taehyung. Yoongi could relate. “Your drinks will be served upstairs.” He paused pursing his lips. “And I’m Jungkook.”

“Jungkook,” Taehyung repeated, testing out the name on his tongue. “Nice name.”

Jungkook’s cheeks burned red before turning on his heel and saying “Follow me, please” and walking through the crowds to a stairway. In the corner of his eye, Yoongi spotted Jin, who was by the bar, already being chatted up by some man in a suit.

When they reached the second floor, Yoongi could hear the hushed voices behind doors. A woman who was completely naked, save for the leather thigh high boots she wore passed by them, winking at the young man and running a hand against his shoulder. They passed a few more doors and finally reached an open archway that led down a narrow passageway, lit in a dark indigo.

Yoongi felt clammy as he followed behind. Taehyung looked back to him, and smiled playfully in the dim lighting, eyes gleaming. His senses were in overdrive, overly aware that he was unarmed and that there was no way of getting out of here if Ji-Won somehow found out who Yoongi actually was.

They had done their homework of course, fake IDs with their aliases and Seokjin had even worked on SNS profiles with their made-up professions. Yoongi a contracted bodyguard of sorts

and Seokjin an art gallery owner. Their bases were covered, but Ji-Won was someone with lots of power and with it probably came paranoia.

Jungkook paused at an open doorway, stepping aside as two men appeared. They were dressed in all black and Yoongi immediately spotted the guns sheathed in the bands of their trousers. One of them grunted at them and Yoongi spread out his arms wide. Taehyung followed and the men began patting them down, making sure they had no knives set to murder their great king.

“They’re fine,” one of them mumbled to Jungkook and the boy nodded, proceeding into the doorway. Yoongi glanced at Taehyung who seemed to think this was all normal and looked incredibly calm regardless of the guns and the mystery of the whole thing.

The room was lit in red, and the smoke even heavier than on the gambling floor. It was large too, but the décor differed in here—more strip-club less art-deco haven. Some hypnotic woman’s voice could be heard from the speakers, dreamy and melancholic paired with a beat good enough to dance to. When Yoongi’s eyes travelled around the room, he noticed the glass platforms scattered here and there, and on them, women and men dancing in sky high glass heels like the ones the woman downstairs had been wearing. They all swayed along to the woman’s voice, spreading their legs and kneeling to the floor against poles as men leered at them greedily and threw wads of cash at their feet. Along with the penchant smell of weed, there were also shisha pipes on a few tables, men laying back lazily in their booths as women in only their underwear clambered onto their laps and nuzzled at the necks, grinding down for a few thousand won.

“What the fuck is this place?” Yoongi whispered to Taehyung.

Taehyung chuckled next to him, glancing down at him like he was the most innocent creature he had ever seen. “Hyung,” he murmured. “This is Midnight. Ji-Won’s been running this place for years and none of your boys have been able to sniff it out.”

Before Yoongi could say anything, he spotted the man they were after. Kang Ji-Won was spread out on the couch, a cigar in his mouth, shirt untucked, a few drinks on the glass table and three Glocks lined up next to them, one plated with gold and a silencer attached to the barrel. Three other men sat with him, but Yoongi hadn’t seen them in any of the files he received.

When they finally stood in front of him, Jungkook glanced at them for a moment curiously before going over to Ji Won and straddling him, burying his face into the man’s neck. Yoongi took in a sharp breath realising where the hickeys and the marks were from. Jungkook was not just Ji-Won’s lackey but they were having sex too.

Yoongi watched the exchange carefully, watching how Ji-Won held Jungkook and how Jungkook responded. Ji-Won barely registered the boy in his lap but Jungkook still touched him everywhere, mewling as he did. Yoongi wanted to look away, the sight of it too intimate, like he was intruding, but everywhere else he looked in this strange place, the same act was taking place. Ji-Won grinned, dumping his ashes onto the floor and placing the cigar carelessly on the table. Yoongi kept his eyes on the guns.

“The man of the hour,” Ji-Won announced, pushing Jungkook off his lap like he was rag doll. The boy’s face fell like he had been kicked and it was strange. Jungkook looked like he could punch Ji-Won’s face in if he really wanted to but there he was, looking struck as he sat back on the couch obediently. “Kim Taehyung. Your reputation precedes you.”

Yoongi wasn’t sure how he assumed Taehyung would behave but the flirty grin he put on was just about right.

 “Oh?” he murmured. “And what reputation is that?”

Ji-Won watched him for a second. “Cunning, talented, hard to get,” he paused, eyes heady with want, “A rare beauty.”

Yoongi watched Jungkook’s reaction, but the boy was now unbothered, like the hurt look he had on was simply an act. Was he pretending for Ji-Won?

Interesting.

Taehyung laughed airily and Yoongi knew him well enough to know it was fake, but Ji-Won still smiled, clearly enjoying it, like he had won some kind of prize.

“You’re just flattering me but thank you, Mr. Kang.”

Ji-Won grinned. “Is it still flattery when it’s simply the truth, Mr. Kim?”

Yoongi almost rolled his eyes at the cheesiness because what the fuck did this man think this was, but he kept still when Ji-Won finally turned to him, looking at him curiously. “And who are you?”

Yoongi moved to open his mouth but Taehyung stopped him. “He keeps me safe. With my reputation, you need a little protection at times. I’m sure you’d understand.”

Ji-Won kept his gaze trained on Yoongi, like he was deciding on something. “Hm,” he hummed non-committedly. “You came in with someone else. Where is he?”

Taehyung glanced down at the seat opposite Ji-Won. “May I sit?” he arched an eyebrow. Ji-Won nodded and Taehyung sat. Yoongi didn’t move to. He kept his face stoic and his hands behind him.

“Just a friend,” Taehyung said casually. “He owns a gallery.”

Ji-Won sat back in his chair, seemingly satisfied.

Taehyung sat leisurely, long legs spread, like he owned the place and his eyes gleamed. “Now shall we get down to business?”

 

‘Business’ was Ji-Won leaning back in his chair, smiling at Taehyung and Taehyung smiling back, like they were on equal footing. The music continued in its hypnotic line, men and women dancing provocatively on their small stages, swinging and grinding on poles. Some of the club’s patrons got loud but most just sat and watched the dancers, waiting to buy one for a few hours and maybe pop a few pills with them.

Yoongi watched it all in dark fascination. Even when he had been with Taehyung, he hadn’t witnessed anything like this. He had seen the drugs, the strippers but never in such explicit glory. The unapologetic rutting on thighs, the moans, the pills passed from tongue to tongue. These men weren’t even young, but businessmen in suits. Men people trusted with their money.

“Where did you get the painting?” Taehyung asked, sipping on his drink that had been brought over. Yoongi could see his own whisky but he made no move to reach for it even if he desperately needed a drink.

Ji-Won smirked, looking at his associates who laughed at the question. Taehyung though, was undeterred, lifting an eyebrow in question.

“What does that have to do with anything?”

“Because I need to know if I’m wasting my time. If you bought off someone else after the Olympics debacle then it’s more likely than not to be fake. I don’t deal in fakes, Mr. Kang.”

Ji-Won looked like he had been slapped. He cleared his throat, sitting forward, clearly taking Taehyung more seriously now.

“It’s the original. You have my word.” He said it with such finality that Yoongi almost reached for Taehyung’s shoulder to tell him not to push, but Taehyung pressed on with an innocent smile on his face.

“I don’t know you, Mr. Kang. Your word means nothing. Now, where did you get it?”

Next to Ji-Won, Jungkook tensed, staring at Taehyung with wide-eyes and an open mouth. Instead of snapping though, Ji-Won laughed, sipping on his drink and shaking his head.

“I was young and vain, wanted a statement piece that reminded me of my childhood so I had my men steal it for me during all the fan-fair and confusion, Mr. Kim. I got it myself from the walls of our Korea’s national museum. Is that a suitable enough answer for you?”

Taehyung simply shrugged, taking a sip of his own drink, unimpressed.

“Moving on then,” Ji-Won stated. “Naturally what that painting is worth today, now that it has been missing for decades has greatly increased. I want to cash in on that as soon as possible before it falls apart.”

“Do you have a buyer?” Taehyung asked.

Ji-Won nodded. “Two actually.”

“So what do you want from me?”

Ji-Won grinned, like the bad guy in the movie finally getting his way. “I want you to price my painting and from there, I pick the highest bidder.” He paused. “The poor thing has been gathering dust since the nineties. Turns out I’m not an art kind of man. Too unrefined it would seem.” He laughed. “Would you happen to also be in the business of restoring paintings?”

Taehyung grinned, like somehow he had already anticipated the question. He didn’t skip a beat when he answered. “I know a guy. He’s clean. Park Jimin, you can look him up.”

Ji-Won smiled. “I trust you not to fuck me over, Mr. Kim. You do understand that it would not only be your head but your family’s too?”

Tilting his head, Taehyung let out a laugh. “Good thing I don’t have one of those then.”

Ji-Won regarded him closely, watching the way Taehyung moved and carried himself. Anyone else would have been terrified by those onyx eyes but Taehyung stayed put, eyeing Ji-Won just as closely. A snake against a snake.

Yoongi shivered.

“I guess we must decide on your price then,” Ji-Won finally spoke.

Yoongi knew Taehyung had to be careful on this one. He couldn’t go too high and he couldn’t go too low. Yesterday they had settled on one billion won as the highest. The Maiden would sell for 40 million US dollars easily. One billion won which was just under nine-hundred thousand dollars was barely anything to someone like Ji-Won but they needed to be modest.

“One billion,” Taehyung said. Yoongi’s eyes flew open and he fought everything within him not to stop him but Taehyung was smug, eyeing Ji-Won like he could make the man submit if he really wanted to.

Ji-Won arched an unimpressed eyebrow.

“I’m on probation and this is an illegal sale of a national treasure, Mr. Kang. If you think about it, I’m being cheap.”

Ji-Won chuckled to himself looking at a friend who laughed too so as to not leave his superior laughing alone. “I’ll tell you what Mr. Kim. I’ll pay you the money and perhaps I’ll throw in a little more once I have you.”

Yoongi could feel the bile rise up in his throat at the man’s forwardness. Kang Ji-Won was one of those men who never heard the word no or simply chose to ignore it even when someone was screaming it.

“And who says I wouldn’t have you, Mr. Kang?”

Taehyung ran his tongue against his bottom lip, eyes roaming all over Ji-Won’s body like he was some kind of jungle cat. Yoongi’s cheeks flushed, not knowing how to feel. He quickly reminded himself that there was nothing to feel. Taehyung didn’t belong to him and he could damn well flirt with whoever he wanted to, especially if it helped their case. Yet, he was an asshole, and some sort of possessive instinct was kicking in, wanting to punch Ji-Won in the face and immediately feeling like a teenager.

Suddenly Ji-Won’s eyes were on Yoongi. “You must be tired just standing there. Sit, let’s drink.”

Yoongi’s eyes moved to Taehyung’s in question, like the younger was actually his boss but Taehyung simply smiled and scooted aside to give him room. They needed to leave, but Ji-Won was looking at him carefully as he sat and handed him a glass of whisky. Once again, Yoongi’s eyes fell to the guns on the table.

Ji-Won seemed to noticed. “You like guns?” he asked.

Yoongi had never been fascinated by them. They were more a function of his job rather than anything else. It didn’t stop him from being good with them though. Ji-Won picked up the gold plated one with a silencer attached to the end.

“Got this one a few months ago from my guy in Dubai.” He held it up, looking at it dreamily then held it out to Yoongi. “Feel it.”

Yoongi obeyed, taking the Glock in his hand. It was heavy, the gold plating making it heavier, a cool grip and carefully polished. Yoongi also had a sneaking suspicion that it was loaded from its feel. If he was someone who was interested in guns, maybe he would look just as fascinated as Ji-Won did.

“Feels uh—good,” Yoongi murmured.

“Have you ever killed anyone with one of these?” he asked.

It made Yoongi pause, eyeing the man curiously, the gun still in his hand. Yoongi worked in white collar. Shooting guns wasn’t really their thing. Yeah sometimes someone tried to open fire but he rarely had to use it. He had used it more when he was still a patrol officer.

“No, sir,” Yoongi murmured. “Not yet.”

Ji-Won grinned still watching him. Yoongi placed the heavy thing back on the table, glad to have the thing that had surely been responsible for a few deaths out of his hand. “How long have you worked for Mr. Kim?”

Yoongi gazed back at the man, wondering where this was going. “For a while now, sir.” It was best to keep things vague.

Ji-Won nodded, reaching for the gun again and holding it up in his hand casually. “Hm,” he murmured. “You’re too pretty to be someone who has to fight off people for Mr. Kim here.”

Yoongi narrowed his eyes, jaw tensing. “I think you’ll find my looks have nothing to do with my abilities, sir.”

Usually Yoongi got the comment that he was pretty from his mother or his aunts, maybe a few guys who came onto him here and there during drunken nights after work. It had always been innocent, maybe even funny (Yoongi did not think he was ‘pretty’). Yet, the way Ji-Won said it, made him uneasy.

 Jungkook, who Yoongi hadn’t been paying attention to until now shifted in his seat, looking cautious. It made Yoongi’s heartrate quicken. Next to him, he felt Taehyung stiffen.

“Of course,” Ji-Won murmured. “I’m sure you’d make so much more money in my club though. With those eyes you’d be my most expensive. Can you dance?”

His eyes were full of amusement, appraising Yoongi carefully with the gun in his hand. Yoongi looked around at the dancers on display. They all looked far gone, like they were hooked on something as they danced and smoked, bills of money falling at their feet from the equally high men lolling on the couches.

Before Yoongi could speak, he heard Taehyung laugh and then his hand was in Yoongi hair, stroking gently as if he were a pet. “He’s not for sale, Mr. Kang.” Taehyung’s voice was airy but Yoongi didn’t miss the underlying warning. The word ‘sale’ made him cringe as Taehyung continued to move his hand through his hair. He wondered how many of these dancers were here through their own will and which ones weren’t.

“Wouldn’t that be his choice?” Ji-Won asked, still looking at Yoongi.

And suddenly Taehyung’s hand slid out of his hair and onto the nape of Yoongi’s neck, pulling him into an all-consuming kiss. It took a moment for Yoongi to register what was going on, but his senses kicked into gear as his lips moved against Taehyung’s, tongue begging for entry. A quiet moan escaped him when Taehyung gripped the back of his head, heat travelling down his body as Taehyung’s mouth moving to his jaw line and licking up to his lips again. It was possessive, meant to cause a scene and make sure everyone was watching. The thought made him whimper again until he realised where he was and what he was supposed to be doing. Yoongi broke away first, cheeks flaring even though he knew why Taehyung had done that.

Ji-Won chuckled, hand finding Jungkook’s thigh and squeezing. “I see. Seems we are both men who enjoy showing off their prizes.”

Yoongi hated it. He hated the way Ji-Won was holding Jungkook. Hated being referred to as ‘prize’. He knew he was undercover and none of it was real but the kiss had felt so void of emotion.

He looked back to Taehyung whose eyes were focused ahead at Ji-Won, not even looking at him.

“How about you come over to my place tomorrow afternoon, hm? I’ll show you the painting. I want this done as soon as possible.”

Before Taehyung could respond, several men appeared in front of him, one being held by two others. Yoongi noted the hemp rope tying his arms back. Despite having his hands bound, the man did not struggle. He seemed resigned to whatever this was, mouth in a hard line and eyes empty.

“Sorry to disturb, sir but…” one of the men began.

Ji-Won grinned, waving around his gun. “No, no, perfect timing,” he said. “Sit him next to me.”

The two men shoved the man onto the couch as instructed.

Yoongi watched in horror as Ji-Won grinned. Jungkook’s eyes were wide, knowing what was about to happen and dreading it. The other men around them simply sipped on their drinks, completely disinterested in the display.

“It’s good to see you, Haechan. It’s been so long. You thought you’d escaped, huh?” Ji-Won asked. “I hope Vietnam was nice. Apparently they found you fucking three whores at the same time, you bastard.” He pouted. “I really hope you weren’t using my money to pay them.”

Haechan laughed bitterly, spitting on the ground as he did so. As Yoongi looked a little closer, the man’s face was bruised purple and yellow and he had a split lip.

Ji-Won tsked, then looked at his gun, considering it carefully.

Yoongi couldn’t do anything as he watched Ji-Won lean in to whisper something in Haechan’s ear. It was too late when he heard the dull pop from the silencer and then Haechan’s body deflating and eyes falling shut. Ji-Won moved away and waved a hand. “Get him out of here before he messes up my couches.”

The two men followed orders, lifting Haechan’s lifeless body and dragging him away before Yoongi could even make out where the bullet wound was. Yoongi looked around but no one seemed to care. They had all watched in morbid fascination but the club went on. The music still played and the drinks still flowed.

Ji-Won turned back to Taehyung. “I’d prefer it if you didn’t cross me, Mr. Kim.” He placed the gun on the table. “I’d much rather fuck your mouth than blow a hole through it.”

Taehyung smiled, eyes completely void of any fear or intimidation. “Call me Taehyung,” he said. “And luckily you’ll do neither of those things.”

Ji-Won laughed, like something was actually funny. “Of course, Taehyung.” Then his eyes fell on Yoongi, a cat on the hunt. “And you,” he said “If you ever want a new job you know where to come. I know a few of my boys who would love to dress you up all prettily in lace.”

Yoongi was disgusted but he kept his features neutral. “I enjoy my job, sir but thank you.”

And that was it. They were dismissed.

Yoongi looked at Jungkook one last time, wondering what the boy’s story was, but when he turned away, Yoongi figured he was simply someone who had grown up in this world just like Taehyung. And people like them did better in here than out there.

It took everything for Yoongi not to rip into Taehyung as they were escorted out. When they descended down the stairs, and his breathing had become too difficult to control, he turned to Taehyung, voice hard. “Don’t you ever do that again.”

He wasn’t even sure which part he meant.

When Jin spotted them, his eyes narrowed, but Yoongi could spot the relief on his face. “Where were you? What happened?”

Yoongi couldn’t think straight. “Let’s get out of here, first. Please.”

So they did, and as they moved through the crowd, Taehyung took his hand and leaned in to whisper, “I’m sorry, hyung, but I had to stop him.”

Yoongi didn’t know whether the colour that appeared on his cheeks was embarrassment or anger. He decided on anger.

Chapter Text

Yoongi’s hands were shaking as he held his mug filled with bitter black coffee. Across him, Namjoon and Seokjin drank from their own cups, eyes puffy, and sleep deprived after last night’s events. Yoongi had barely been able to sleep and when he had managed to shut his eyes for a few minutes, all he had been able to see was Haechan’s face, his eyes going blank as Ji-Won leaned into him with that smug smirk on his face. Whenever Yoongi did manage to steer his thoughts away from Haechan, all he could see was Taehyung, their kiss playing over and over in his mind, hand pulling at his hair and lips claiming him unapologetically in front of everyone. Yoongi wondered if Taehyung was playing some sort of game. Sure, Ji-Won had been incessant about dressing Yoongi up pretty in lace but Taehyung hadn’t needed to kiss him. He could have just told the man to stop.

So why?

Yoongi was coming up with nought as he usually did whenever it concerned Taehyung, so all he could do was put his personal feelings aside. This afternoon, he would be in Ji-Won’s home and he needed to be prepared.

“I looked into Jungkook as soon as I got home,” Jin began, leaning back in his chair, hand playing with the cup. The small café near Yoongi’s apartment was inconspicuous, as bankers and lawyers filtered in slowly for their morning fix. Outside, the clouds were heavy with rain, threatening to fall soon. Yoongi gazed at Jin expectantly. They had filled Namjoon in on everything that had taken place the night before, Yoongi only skipping out on the kiss, but he hadn’t told Jin about that either. Their chief however, was still in the dark and Yoongi was choosing to keep things hush for as long as they could.

“Jeon Jungkook. Turning twenty-three, from Busan. Luckily, the kid has a record,” Jin began. “Several counts of grand theft and one charge of moving weed and ecstasy in clubs, but it wasn’t enough to get him any serious jail time.” Jin sighed, leaning in. “What’s interesting though, is that he hasn’t been booked for anything in the last two and a half years. Plus, these charges are all from Busan. Nothing in Seoul. Nothing tying him to Ji-Won.”

The information processed in their heads, Namjoon’s mouth twisted to the side slightly and Yoongi tapping at his cup. Simply because there was nothing on him recently, didn’t mean he wasn’t involved in Ji-Won’s shady business. He had seemed so comfortable in the club too, moving with a certain air of authority except around Ji-Won. Whilst he sat silently as Ji-Won spoke, he had still watched them all carefully, no hint of disinterest. Yoongi knew he wasn’t just one of Ji-Won’s pets. There was something about him that had made Yoongi cautious from the moment he met him.

“You said he was all over Ji-Won last night, didn’t you?” Namjoon asked, sipping his own coffee. “So what? He’s some kind of pet? Troubled kid comes to Seoul, he’s attractive, somewhat dangerous so he gets mixed up with Ji-Won’s crew. Ji-Won spots him, likes what he sees, chooses to fuck him instead of sending him out on runs.”

It was plausible, but Yoongi shook his head. Jungkook didn’t strike him as that, despite the big sparkly eyes that feigned innocence. “Doubt it,” Yoongi murmured. “He was watching everyone carefully, like he was memorising faces. Some kid who is simply there to be fucked wouldn’t care.”

“Maybe he’s also undercover—working for narcotics or something,” Jin suggested.

Again, it was possible. Jungkook’s record had been clean since he had arrived in Seoul two and half years ago. “Is there any record of him in the database?” Namjoon asked.

Jin shook his head. “Nope. No trace of him in the Seoul Metropolitan database or Busan’s for that matter. I also checked Daegu just in case, came up with nothing. But then again there’s no trace of us anymore either.” Jin’s lips quirked to the side in a half smile.

“I can ask my guy in Narcotics? Just to make sure?” Namjoon suggested.

Yoongi nodded. He wasn’t sure what it was, but he doubted Jungkook was in any way involved with the police either.

“What about the Haechan guy?” Namjoon continued.

Jin shook his head. “Nothing. Even after your description of him, Yoongi—nothing came up. I have Nayeon looking into it but I doubt we’ll come up with anything. Half of the time, these guys are using aliases.”

They were all quiet for a second, trying to align the pieces they had gathered so far.

Ji-Won had contacted Taehyung first before Yoongi had approached him.

Their chief had been adamant on having Taehyung on the case.

Someone was dead and Jeon Jungkook was more than he seemed.

And despite Yoongi trying not to think about it, he had slept with Taehyung and Taehyung had kissed him again last night.

Where exactly did all of this leave them?

“Is it me or I’m missing something?” Namjoon asked. “I know we needed Kim Taehyung as our way in, but after you see the painting then surely we should be able to make the arrest? Why the extra mile?”

Jin looked up at Yoongi, eyes communicating something. Namjoon wasn’t dumb. Of course he was going to be curious about Taehyung’s strange involvement in this too.

“The chief wants the arrest to be done during the hand-off and he insisted we use Taehyung. Don’t ask me why; I’ve been trying to figure out too but I’ve come up with nothing,” Yoongi said carefully, omitting the blackmail part. He definitely didn’t need Namjoon worrying about Hoseok in the middle of this case.

Outside, rain had begun to fall hard, splashing against the turrets and slowly trickling down the windows. In his pocket, Yoongi’s phone rang, his stomach flipping when he saw the caller I.D.

“Taehyung,” he answered.

“Hey, hyung.” As ever, Taehyung sounded cheerful and light, like nothing was wrong in the world. “I was just thinking about the meeting with Ji-Won this afternoon?”

Across him, Jin and Namjoon looked on curiously.

“Yeah?”

“I was thinking maybe you shouldn’t come. I’m going with Jiminie, so he can see the painting, and if Ji-Won’s people decide to look into him—they’ll find nothing since he’s clean. But if you show your face again, they might get a little more curious and not buy our little story from last night.” He paused. “I just think if you want to protect your identity and your mission or whatever you call it—then minimal contact with Ji-Won is probably wise.”

It almost sounded logical, but Yoongi wasn’t buying it. Alarm bells went off in his head. “Even if they looked into me, Taehyung, they wouldn’t find anything. We covered our bases.”

Taehyung was quiet for a moment on the other end, thinking about something. “Right,” he murmured quietly, voice dipping lower. “It’s a little silly, but I guess I just worry about you, that’s all.” His voice was quiet. “I just want you to be safe hyung. Kang Ji-Won is—”

“I know,” Yoongi sighed. “You don’t have to protect me, Tae. This is my job. I’ll be fine.”

There was another charged moment of silence, Yoongi’s head prickling as Jin narrowed his eyes across him. “I’ll see you later,” he finally said.

“Okay, hyung,” Taehyung breathed, sounding a little defeated. “Bye.”

Then the line went quiet.

Yoongi looked at his phone for a moment, confused, until Namjoon cleared his throat, looking at him. “What was that all about?”

“No idea,” Yoongi muttered, slipping the phone back into his pocket. He didn’t really have time to worry about Taehyung or his feelings about him. He could barely trust the sincerity of that phone-call, he wasn’t going to waste his time mulling over it. His relationship with Taehyung was strictly business and he was going to do his job.

At least that’s what he was trying to tell himself.

Jin looked unconvinced but they had bigger issues to worry about when Namjoon said, “But why Taehyung? Given your history with him, why didn’t you just say no when the chief suggested him?”

Yoongi’s stomach dropped. For a moment, he thought about lying to his friend. Namjoon didn’t need the added stress. His eyes fell to Jin for help but he was looking at his mug, clearly not interested in explaining the story.

“It wasn’t exactly a suggestion,” Yoongi murmured, not meeting Namjoon’s eyes.

Across him, Namjoon arched an eyebrow. “What do you mean by that?”

Yoongi hated this, but he continued anyway. “The chief wanted Taehyung on this.”

“I still don’t understand,” Namjoon said. “Why didn’t you just say no? Doesn’t he know what happened between you two?”

Obviously he doesn’t care, Yoongi thought bitterly and even if he did, he doubted the old man would give a damn.

“Look I don’t know why he insisted on Taehyung but he did and now I barely trust anything about this whole thing.”

Yoongi sounded like a child but he didn’t care. He was running on barely any sleep and the coffee was shit and he couldn’t, for the life of him, figure out what game Taehyung was playing.

“I still don’t understand why you didn’t say no? Why not pass off this entire thing to someone else?”

The million dollar question.

Before Yoongi could answer, Jin cut in. “Because he’s blackmailing Yoongi.”

Namjoon’s mouth fell open, eyes coloured with confusion. “Shit, Yoongi, what does he have on you? Did something happen?”

Yoongi’s heart broke.

“It’s not what he has on me, Joon,” he breathed. “It’s Seok.”

Namjoon sat still for a good minute, simply looking at Yoongi as the pieces of the puzzle fell into place for him. His eyes went glassy as he quickly caught up to what Yoongi meant. “Shit,” he muttered. “The call from Homicide. The ‘loose ends’.”

Yoongi nodded. “Yeah. The chief said if I manage to get Ji-Won then Hoseok would get off scot free and if I don’t…” he didn’t need to finish.

“Oh my God,” Namjoon mumbled. “Why didn’t I—”

“You couldn’t have known,” Jin cut in quickly, placing a hand on Namjoon’s shoulder and squeezing lightly.

“It still doesn’t make sense,” Namjoon said, more to himself than anyone else. “Why Taehyung then? Why him specifically?”

Yoongi ran a hand through his hair. “I don’t know, Joon. I wish I had the answers but I don’t.”

Jin let go of Namjoon’s shoulder and leaned in. “This is bigger than a painting and somehow it involves the chief. I still think we should just go with what he says. Wrap the case and clear Seok’s name and wash our hands of the entire thing.”

Yoongi was inclined to agree but something still nagged at him. What if he was putting Taehyung in danger somehow? He owed the younger enough not to get him hurt again. Maybe for his sake, Yoongi would keep digging.

“I agree but I still think we should at least try to figure out what we’re getting into. We could be getting our hands dirty without even knowing it.”

Namjoon’s jaw was tense, no doubt mulling over the information about his boyfriend’s case. He looked up at Yoongi then, eyes still glassy. “Hyung, I’m sorry you have to be the one to do this,” he said. “But can I just ask you something?”

Yoongi knew what Namjoon wanted. It was what he wanted too. “Don’t worry Joon. I’ll do everything I can to help him.”

Namjoon stretched his lips sadly and glanced down at his coffee cup. Jin looked at Yoongi and Yoongi knew what that gaze meant.

Do what you need to do.

So he would.

 

                                                                        


 

 

They had been searched upon entry. Security patted down Yoongi in places he had never been patted down before. When they were done, they grunted in approval and a woman with bright red lipstick led Yoongi, Taehyung and Jimin through the large mansion on the outskirts of Seoul. The house itself was something out of Architect’s Digest, with sprawling fields and what looked like a tennis court—not to mention gargoyles at the entrance because of course. As they walked through the white marbled hallways with haphazardly placed artwork on the walls and random Persian rugs here and there, Yoongi couldn’t help but think of Ji-Won’s words: Turns out I’m not an art kind of man. Too unrefined it would seem.

Well, he wasn’t wrong.

Finally, they settled in a hosting room, gold on every piece of furniture along with a marble statue of a naked woman in the corner—an imitation of the Venice DeMello? Yoongi’s eyes met Jimin’s, and Jimin didn’t break his gaze, waiting for Yoongi to look away first. They had always been wary of each other, and Yoongi knew the younger did not trust him.

Luckily the feeling was mutual.

 Before their little stare-down could continue, the woman with red lipstick smiled at them, telling them to take a seat. “Someone will be with you shortly,” she said with a bow, spinning on her heel and walking out of the room, her heels clicking on the floor. Yoongi could feel his own heart beating, matching the click of her shoes. He had no gun and he couldn’t trust Taehyung or Jimin. If something happened, this would all be on him, not their chief and not Namjoon or Jin.

“You okay, hyung?” Taehyung asked, sitting down like he owned the place with his head tilted in question.

Yoongi nodded immediately, looking around the room for escape routes, but the only he could see was through the way they had come in. Just as Yoongi was about to ask Taehyung the same, Jungkook walked in, dressed just as sharply as he had been the night before, cheeks violently flushed.

In the light, his face looked younger, big eyes gleaming in the silver light pouring into the room. He bowed politely and looked at all three of them cautiously, his resting on Yoongi for a beat too long.

“Unfortunately, Mr. Kang is currently occupied so I’ll show you to the painting and answer any questions you might have,” he said. He looked at Jimin, head tilting a little but before he could ask, Jimin cut in quickly. “Park Jimin. I’m the restorer.”

Jungkook continued to eye him for another tense second. “Follow me,” he finally said.

So they did, through more complicated hallways and marbled floors and all Yoongi could think about was his talk with Jin and Namjoon this morning, his head prickling with worry. In his pocket, his phone vibrated. He discreetly slipped it out, following behind Taehyung and Jimin who were whispering something to each other.

Jin-hyung:Yoongi, call me when you see this. I think I know why Taehyung is involved..

Yoongi looked at the message, cheeks flushing. He looked up at Jungkook, leading the group and the guard following them down the hallway. Even if he wanted to, he couldn’t get away so he locked his phone and slid it back into his pocket. Whatever Jin had found out had to wait.

 

They found themselves in what seemed like an unused office, no papers on the pristine teak desk or any cables to show it was still in use. Jungkook stood in front of a frame, resting against a wall and covered by a white sheet. When he pulled it off, the famous painting was revealed. Yoongi thought that this should be the moment he should gasp or something but just like Ji-Won, he wasn’t exactly cultured. If anything, the whole thing was a little anticlimactic. But when his eyes landed on Taehyung’s, the younger’s eyes were wide, mouth slack. He turned to Jimin and Jimin looked down at it appreciatively. Clearly they understood something Yoongi didn’t.

The Maiden looked on into a distance, eyes filled with a compelling sadness, covered in the silks of her Hanbok, her lips painted red, hair dark and flowing down milky white skin. Even though Yoongi didn’t have an artist’s eye, he could already see the fading edges, and the slight cracks in the paint, especially by her cheek. The wooden frame was chipped too, cutting into the edges of the canvas.

“How long has it been there?” Taehyung asked, sounding a little annoyed.

Jungkook shrugged. “I’m not sure. It’s been here since I got here.”

Yoongi’s head snapped up at that. “And how long have you been here?” his voice was casual, conversational, but he noticed Jimin shoot him a look. Jungkook though, was undeterred.

“Long enough,” he answered, eyes challenging Yoongi.

Yoongi knew when to back down and it was now so he simply shrugged noncommittedly with a smile. He would find out about Jungkook later.

Taehyung was already by the painting, kneeling and tracing his fingers on the canvas and frame slowly. Yoongi couldn’t really see his face anymore, but he knew enough about Taehyung to know his face was full of awe. Yoongi had always liked that about him. Yes, he was a criminal, but his passion lay in art. Every-time he spoke about it, his deep voice went a higher and his eyes sparkled. In another life, Taehyung would have been some kind of artist. The younger turned back to them, eyes filled with those familiar stars, meeting Jimin’s with some knowing smile playing on his lips. Yoongi’s tattoo burned.

“How long do we have?” he asked Jungkook.

“Not long,” Jungkook answered. “As he said last night; he wants this done as soon as possible. Maybe two weeks?”

That wasn’t long at all.

Yoongi was almost relieved.

Jimin’s brow knitted. “I’d have to take it to my studio. I can’t drive out here every day.”

Something in Yoongi’s head told him that it was a bad idea for Jimin and Taehyung to have that painting in their possession. Jungkook seemed to share the same sentiment. “Mr. Kang would prefer for all repairs to be done here under supervision.”

Taehyung let out a laugh, like something about that was particularly funny. “Of course, Jungkook-ssi. We’ll make it work.”

Jungkook eyed the group once again, Yoongi still acutely aware of the guard that was watching their every move carefully, gun not far off. “I’m sure Mr. Kang will be happy to have someone accompany you here until the work is done,” he offered.

Taehyung clapped his hands together, a bright smile on his face, even if Jimin seemed a little annoyed. “Great!” Taehyung said. “Jiminie and I can probably start tomorrow and when it’s all done, I’ll let Mr. Kang know the final price.”

Speaking of the devil, the door to the office swung open and Kang Ji-Won strolled in, dressed in a designer bathrobe, hair messy and behind him an armed guard. Next to Yoongi, Jungkook tensed up and looked to the floor. Yoongi wondered what exactly Ji-Won had been up to. His hair was mussed and his lips were bruised. Yoongi’s eyes fell on Jungkook again, but the younger was still looking at his feet, almost submissively.

“Taehyung-ah!” the man said loudly. “It’s good to see you.”

Taehyung bowed respectfully and Yoongi along with Jimin followed suit. Ji-Won’s eyes fell on Jimin and he grinned, just as he had smiled at Yoongi the night before. “You must be Park Jimin?” he said, giving Jimin’s fit body a full scan with his eyes. When Jimin nodded, he turned to Taehyung. “Ah, you keep such beautiful company, Taehyungie.”

The man’s hungry eyes caught Yoongi’s, undressing him as he looked, making Yoongi shiver. Taehyung followed Ji-Won’s gaze and his own smile dropped. Yoongi wondered what that meant.

“So do you like my painting?” he asked, losing the lascivious grin.

Taehyung glanced back at the neglected piece of art, the white sheet hanging off it rather pathetically and shrugged. “It’s heavily damaged from a lack of care. I’m not sure you’ll be able to get as high a price as you want on it.”

Ji-Won chuckled, running a hand through his thinning, just-fucked hair. He snaked an arm around Jungkook’s waist, pulling him in. Jungkook went pliant. “Isn’t that why I’m paying you? To make it perfect?”

Taehyung was quiet for a second, eyeing the man with cautious eyes. Yoongi could tell he was thinking about something, but whatever it was, he decided against it because he smiled and nodded. “Of course. We’ll make it perfect for you.”

“Good. I’m glad to hear it,” Ji-Won said, petting Jungkook a little and he nuzzled into his neck in response. Yoongi didn’t know what to think anymore. What was Jungkook playing at exactly? “I have a little gathering here in two weeks and I want it to be on display.”

Yoongi’s mind screeched to a halt at that, but then he thought again. Men like Ji-Won like to show off. Displaying a piece that had been missing for more than thirty years was surely going to turn some heads and by the time anyone asked, he would have already gotten rid of it.

Taehyung bowed his head slightly, a smile playing on his lips.

“You’d all be invited of course,” JI-Won continued then his eyes fell on Yoongi, giving him that thorough inspection once again. “Including you, pretty.”

Yoongi wanted to spit in his face.

 

By the time Yoongi managed to call Seokjin, the sun had already set, rain still falling and he was back in Seoul, sitting in his car and once again craving that damn cigarette. He chewed on gum instead. Jin answered on the third ring, sounding a little out of breath. “You finally called,” he said, relieved. “Shit, you have to come over to my place, Yoongi. I don’t know if I can say this over the phone.”

Yoongi stiffened, wondering what exactly Jin had found out. “Is everything okay?” he whispered tentatively, as if that would stop someone from hearing if their phones were actually tapped.

“Just get here,” Jin answered then the line went quiet.

 

Seokjin’s apartment was not far from his own and when Yoongi got there, his best friend was tense, broad shoulders rigid and face stuck in a grimace. A part of Yoongi hoped Taehyung wasn’t involved in anything that could put him in danger, but it was silly, Taehyung was not his responsibility, no matter how guilty he felt about what happened all those years ago.

“What did you find?” Yoongi asked, toeing off his shoes in the hallway.

Jin pursed his lips for a second, looking a little unsure. “Before I say anything, promise me you won’t do anything stupid and fuck this up for Seok?”

Yoongi eyed his friend levelly and Jin let out an unsteady breath. “Okay, fine,” he muttered, starting down the hallway. “I was in the precinct, looking over some records, case files and stuff.” He walked over to his laptop. “Cases the chief has worked on before coming over to our department, y’know?”

He typed in something quickly before spinning the screen round so Yoongi could see. When Yoongi bent down to read, all he saw was a case file with names he didn’t recognise except the chief’s;  

Lee Eunhyuk: Head Detective.

Five years ago, Lee Eunhyuk led a money laundering operation against a tech company’s CEO, Bae Sang-Hee. All the money Sang-Hee made was tied up in real estate across Seoul and strangely enough, expensive pieces of art, including Meji dynasty vases and paintings. When she got word of the investigation, she quickly declared bankruptcy, syphoning all her money to off-shore bank accounts no one could track (allegedly). Her homes were repossessed and Eunhyuk’s remaining piece of evidence were the artworks she purchased. Yet, by the time the police had gathered all the necessary paperwork and warrants for a search and arrest, the artwork had disappeared. For a lack of evidence and paper trail, Lee Eunhyuk failed to make an arrest. He was quickly demoted after that.

“So I contacted an old friend from his previous department—”

“How many ‘old friends’ do you have?” Yoongi asked.

Jin grinned cockily. “That’s what happens when you smile, Yoongichi.”

“Fuck you.”

“Anyway,” Jin said pointedly. “The rumour goes, the chief helped her to doctor the evidence. He was going to be paid for everything when it was all done, but then they lost the artwork.” 

“Okay,” Yoongi murmured. “Where does Taehyung come into this?”

Jin held up a hand, telling him to be patient. “Guess who this woman bought all her pieces from and gave for ‘safe-keeping’?”

“Taehyung?”

“Right,” Jin confirmed. “He sold them off during the investigation, and since they were all illegal, it’s not like she could file a police report, much less find him.  It left her a few billion won poorer and our dear chief suspended.”

Yoongi’s mind was whirring, churning the information and trying to figure out what exactly it meant. “So you’re saying the chief has some kind of vendetta against Taehyung, that’s why he insisted Tae be on this case?”

It sounded a little too childish to him.

Jin shook his head. “No, I think he’s still working for this woman. She no longer runs a tech company, but she does run a few clubs around Seoul—in direct competition with Kang Ji-Won’s. Guess who would be on top if Ji-Won ended up in jail?”

It all clicked into place with a loud ding ! in his head. “She would,” he answered. “And because Taehyung is directly tied in with the painting, he’d go down with him.”

Jin nodded with a smile. “Precisely,” he said. “Smart isn’t it? Some good old petty revenge whilst she claims the club scene in Seoul.”

It was smart. They would have gotten Ji-Won arrested without even realising what it all meant and once again, Yoongi would have betrayed Taehyung, getting him arrested for what was bound to be a very long time. He felt sick.

“Shit, hyung, I have to warn him,” Yoongi mumbled.

Jin’s eyes went wide with panic. “What? No, no, you can’t do that. If Taehyung pulls out because of this, we don’t get Ji-Won meaning Hoseok goes to jail instead.”

And that was the stickling point. The chief had probably known they would probably find out about his dealings. Involving Taehyung and Hoseok as leverage meant Yoongi was stuck. For Jin and Namjoon, the choice was simple; Hoseok above everything—and it was simple for Yoongi too or at least it should have been. He didn’t love Taehyung anymore, but he did owe him. Letting him go down with Ji-Won without warning him would be cruel. Yoongi didn’t have it in him to choose.

“I can’t just let Taehyung walk right into this without knowing what’s going on,” Yoongi said,

Jin raked through his hair with his fingers looking a little frazzled. “Jesus, Yoongi—Seok is your best friend and Taehyung is what? Someone you fucked three years ago? Why does he make you so stupid?”

For a moment, anger flared through Yoongi because what did Jin know about Taehyung? Nothing except for what some case file said. He didn’t know about Taehyung’s mother leaving him, didn’t know about the things Taehyung had done to stay alive on the streets.

Yoongi was about to tell him, yet the pulsating anger died down as quickly as it flared up. How would Jin know? If Yoongi was looking at himself right now, he would probably find himself stupid too. Yoongi owed Taehyung this simple truth, yet the simple truth could ruin his best friend’s chance at freedom.

“Look, hyung, I know it might be unwise, but a part of me thinks Taehyung won’t back out of this simply because this woman is after him. If anything, he might think of a way to get all of us out of this mess without getting our hands dirty.”

Jin laughed bitterly. “We’re getting our hands dirty one way or another, Yoongi. It’s just a question of how much.”

He was right. Of course he was, but Yoongi knew he had to tell Taehyung the truth. They had one piece of the puzzle solved, but something still wasn’t sitting right with the whole picture. He hoped telling Taehyung would ease him.

Across him, Jin shut his laptop, leaning against a table and sighing. “Do you trust him?”

“Who?”

“Taehyung?”

Yoongi looked at Jin for a moment, thinking about it. “No,” he finally said. “I don’t.”

“Then why?”

“Because I owe him? Because it’s the right thing to do?”

That wasn’t all there was to it and Yoongi knew it. His side burned to remind him just how fucked he was. Jin sighed, shaking his head with a small smile, the same thoughts crossing his mind. It wasn’t just Yoongi, they were all fucked one or another. “I hope you know what you’re doing.”

Yoongi didn’t but he nodded anyway, always good at faking confidence. Seokjin had taught him that a long time ago. “Thank you, hyung. I’ll call you later.”

He called Taehyung as he made his way to the car in the parking lot. The rain had stopped but the temperature had dropped, the late sounds of the city in Yoongi’s ears. On another day, it would have been calming.

“Everything okay?” Taehyung answered. He sounded like he was far away.

“Yes, you home?” Yoongi asked.

“Hmhm,” Taehyung hummed distractedly.

“We need to talk.”

There was a beat of silence, a bit of shuffling before Taehyung replied, closer now. “I’ll see you in a second then.”

 

Taehyung’s hair was wet, falling into his eyes. He was dressed simply in black sweatpants and a threadbare grey t-shirt, a far cry from his expensive burgundy coloured blouse earlier. Yoongi’s mouth was dry as he looked him over. No matter what Taehyung wore, he still managed to look like he had just stepped off a magazine cover.

“Want something to drink, hyung?” Taehyung asked.

“Yeah, water please.”

He couldn’t help but think that the last time he was here, Taehyung had knelt in front of him, mouthing at his tattoo, down his stomach and pulling him up to his bedroom. An unwelcome heat travelled down Yoongi’s body when Taehyung placed the glass in front of him, little smile and innocent eyes. Yoongi looked away to the plants around the room, the ivy that had snaked over the far counter and the dainty succulents by the window-sill and sink.

“What’s with all the plants?” Yoongi asked suddenly. They were beautiful, but so unlike the Taehyung from three years ago.

Taehyung looked around, as if noticing for the first time. “Oh, Jimin likes them, so I just got into them.” He paused, smiling to himself. “They are pretty, kinda like pets but without the noise.”

It sounded so innocent and simple, nothing that should be coming out of art dealer extraordinaire Kim Taehyung. Yoongi was reminded of just how young Taehyung was, yet he had seen so much already.

He laughed a little in response. “Sounds like something I’d say.”

Taehyung grinned. “Maybe you did rub off on me all those years ago.”

And it was strange to mention their history so casually, without it being charged with guilt or apologies. “Maybe I did,” Yoongi replied, without meaning to. Taehyung was quiet for a second, looking at Yoongi like he was trying to figure something out. Yoongi hated the quietness, afraid of what Taehyung might find, so he rushed to say something. “Does Jimin live with you?”

Taehyung snapped out of it, and shook his head. “Nah, he has his own studio.”

“Why is he helping you?” Yoongi’s mouth was working on its own now and he hated when it did that, but he had already started now and maybe Taehyung would say something to fill in the missing gaps. “I mean, he has a clean record, he attends a prestigious art school. Why get mixed up in all of this?”

Taehyung smirked, eyes giving nothing away. “Did you come all the way here to talk about Jimin?”

“No.”

“Then?” Taehyung cocked an eyebrow.

He’d hit a wall. Taehyung’s face was void of anything. He wasn’t going to discuss Jimin and there was no way Yoongi was going to be able to get him to, unless he offered up the information willingly.

“Right,” Yoongi mumbled, taking a sip of his water, but no matter how much he drank, his throat still felt dry.

“So why are you here, hyung?” Another wave of déjà vu flowed over Yoongi at Taehyung’s question. He had almost forgotten, caught within the lights of Taehyung’s eyes. He needed to do better, but he wasn’t even sure where to begin. If he was making a mistake then Taehyung would choose to leave this entire thing behind and Hoseok would still be in trouble, maybe more trouble than he already was. But Yoongi told himself that he would get Ji-Won another way if Taehyung refused. He was usually good at his job, but Jin was right, Taehyung acted like some foreign signal, scrambling all his channels and leaving him empty.

“Does the name Bae Sang-Hee ring any bells?” He watched Taehyung for any reaction but the younger’s face remained placid and still.

“Should it?” he asked.

Yoongi suddenly felt impatient. Of course Taehyung knew who she was. “Yeah, it should. You stole her art.”

Taehyung’s mouth twisted into a smirk. “Stole is a harsh word, hyung. She gave it to me and I passed it on. Thought she was going to be arrested anyway. Surprisingly there isn’t much use for art in jail—trust me I’d know.”

Yoongi wasn’t smiling and the end of that sentence held a sting to it that made him cringe. “We think she got you onto this case, Tae.”

That seemed to make Taehyung pause and think about things. His smirk disappeared, mouth settling in a line. “What do you mean by that?”

Yoongi sighed, praying once again to whoever was listening that he wasn’t making a mistake. So he began the story, telling him about their chief blackmailing him and their suspicions that he was still working for Sang-Hee to take Ji-Won down, maybe involve him too for some revenge. Taehyung leaned against the counter, listening closely but face giving nothing away. Yoongi could tell he was thinking hard though, and not for the first time, he wished he was in on those thoughts.

“I’d understand if you want to walk away now, but if you don’t, I will try everything I can not to get you implicated,” he finished.

Taehyung was still quiet, looking at Yoongi but not really, preparing his next move. Yoongi watched on quietly, anxiety making him tremble a little. He thought of Hoseok, the man who never failed to smile even when his life had been complete shit once upon a time. He was so different from Yoongi but they had made fast friends and whilst Seokjin was his hyung and would protect him to the ends of the earth, Namjoon being his oldest friend that they communicated without speaking, Hoseok had become his confidant—the one he called whenever he went home with some guy and needed to vent. Now Yoongi was possibly betraying him. He felt sick.

“What does he have on you?” Taehyung asked suddenly.

“What?”

“You said your chief is blackmailing you. So, what does he have on you?”

“It’s not what he has on me. It’s one of my friends; Hoseok. A few years ago he stabbed his boss who was trying to um—” Yoongi paused, but Taehyung got it. “He ran, so the police charged him for homicide. It’s been in the court for a while but he promised that if I delivered Ji-Won then Hoseok would be off.”

“And you believed him?” Taehyung asked, sounding a little patronising.

Yoongi snapped his head up, eyeing the younger pointedly. “It’s not like I had much of a choice.”

He had been saying those words a lot.

A quiet exhale and a few charged beats later, Taehyung spoke again. “Why are you telling me then? If it’s your friend and his life is riding on this, then why warn me?”

There it was, the question Yoongi didn’t quite have the right answer to. “Because you deserve to know the truth. I owe you that.”

It wasn’t even half of it. It was the guilt that had become a part of him, the fragile shred of whatever they had back then that was driving him to be this irresponsible. Taehyung couldn’t be trusted so why was Yoongi putting all his hope in him so easily?

“And now I owe you?” he murmured.

“What? No. Taehyung, I’m telling you this because I need you to trust me. I need you to know that we will find another way.”

Taehyung laughed, and it sounded genuine, like he was endeared by something. “Hmm,” he hummed. “Okay, hyung, I’ll trust you.”

The words sent heat shooting up Yoongi’s veins. He looked at him in disbelief, thinking once again that maybe it was all a little too simple, too easy to convince Taehyung. He wanted to say it, but he didn’t have it in him to destroy whatever truce they had reached. Maybe Taehyung had changed. But maybe he hadn’t.

It was just after seven now, September coming to an end soon, meaning the end of pretty white nights. Yoongi watched the window by the sink, trying to gather himself. If Taehyung trusted him, it gave them time to figure out another way.

“You hungry?” Taehyung asked. “I was just about to make dinner.”

Yoongi couldn’t stay. Being around Taehyung was like holding dry ice for too long. It was tempting—fascinating even, but ultimately it burned you. Yoongi wasn’t in the mood to get burnt. He had allowed himself to back then, they were kids, but not anymore.

“I—”

“Stay,” Taehyung stopped him, reaching over and brushing a strand of hair out of his eyes. Yoongi really needed a haircut. “I like your hair like this. It’s pretty.” His face wasn’t close, just his arm outstretched and Yoongi watched him, lips apart and beautifully pink, the small birthmark on his nose. Yoongi noticed a small splash of red paint on his arm. “Stay and let’s j-just pretend okay?” His voice was soft, a little hesitant.

Yoongi knew what Taehyung meant. Let’s pretend we are the same Yoongi and Taehyung from three years ago, careless, narcissistic but in love. And the way Taehyung was looking at him, so sincere, eyes round and unassuming, Yoongi couldn’t find it in him to say no. He nodded once and Taehyung grinned, standing straight again, having successfully lured Yoongi in.

“Great, you on the meat and I’ll do the rest.”

It was painfully familiar, slipping back into nights they used to cook together, laughing and feeding each other with careful hands and small smiles. It always surprised Yoongi just how comfortable they got in the space of less than year. It was also a little strange to slip back into it so easily, Taehyung making jokes about the food and Yoongi rolling his eyes.

 

                                                                        


 

Hyung!” Taehyung cried as Yoongi laughed looking at the flour he had thumbed onto Taehyung’s nose. They were making dumplings for some odd reason and Yoongi couldn’t even remember what day it was but they had been indoors for a while, fucking and only stopping to eat and shower. He felt good, loose,  liked Taehyung’s embrace from behind, the gentle kiss that was placed on his neck before he squirmed and pretended to hate it. The sun was setting, and Yoongi hadn’t looked at his phone for two days now. He knew what he would find on it, Namjoon asking if he was okay, Seokjin asking for updates on the case.

Has Taehyung made the deal yet?

Has Taehyung contacted the buyer?

Do you have messages?

Do you have anything yet?

It had only been a month since Taehyung asked him to be his boyfriend. Yoongi hadn’t hesitated, convincing himself that it was good for the case, though he quickly realised that it wasn’t about the that at all. He was in love with Taehyung and he felt too guilty to confess to his friends. This was his first big case and he had already fucked it up by falling in love. First rule broken.

“You look cute,” Yoongi said quietly, meaning it. Taehyung beamed at him, not making any effort to wipe of the flour on his nose. A gentle kiss was placed on Yoongi’s own nose and he made a face, earning him a laugh from Taehyung. In moments like these, it was so easy to forget why Yoongi was there and who Taehyung was.

“We need to finish these,” Taehyung laughed, getting back to folding the dumplings together. It was domestic and Taehyung was blissfully pliant. So Yoongi dared himself to ask the question he had been wondering all along.

“Tae?” he began.

“Hm?” he hummed.

“Where is your family?”

Taehyung didn’t stop folding, and he didn’t look at Yoongi either. “I don’t know,” he said quietly. Yoongi thought about asking more but he could feel Taehyung’s wall going up. He didn’t want to push. He never knew what to say to people with backgrounds they didn’t deserve. His parents had always been there, supportive of him even when he came out at fifteen. Yoongi’s father had looked at him levelly when he told them. “Is that why you stopped me from watching the eight o’clock news?”

Yoongi had been lucky, and his heart broke for Taehyung.

“I never met my father. My mother left me in a church when I was six. I barely remember her face. It was a blur of foster homes and orphanages until I was fifteen. I was on my own after that.” His voice was so quiet, Yoongi could barely hear him. He looked down at his hands, a bit of flour on them. He didn’t know what to say so he simply rested his head on Taehyung’s shoulder.

“I’m sorry, Tae.”

“Not your fault, hyung.” He murmured and Yoongi had the overwhelming need to protect him from everything horrible in the world. And yet, that meant Taehyung needed protection from him too. Guilt settled in his stomach and made its permanent home that night.

“Now, let’s finish this. I kinda wanna fuck you again.”

Yoongi let out a breathy laugh, lifting his head. “I’m still a little sore.”

Taehyung side eyed him with a smirk. “Isn’t that what you like?”

Yoongi slapped his arm.

                                                                        


 

They ate together, sitting on a comfortable grey couch, facing each other. There were lit candles scattered and Yoongi’s heart sat unsettled in its cage. He tried to remember why he had agreed to this, but he was coming up with nothing. Maybe it was some desperation to feel something again. Maybe the week before had well and truly fucked him up for good. They had so much to talk about too. Yoongi hadn’t forgotten about Haechan’s lifeless body and once again he wondered what the man had done to deserve that. Whether he had a family that was wondering where he was right now.

“Can we talk about last night?” Yoongi started, placing his chopsticks and plate aside.

Taehyung looked up at him in question. “Which part?”

Jungkook.

Haechan

The kiss.

Which part indeed.

“Did you know that Haechan guy?” he asked.

Taehyung laughed, covering his mouth. “Not all criminals know each other hyung. We don’t have some sort of group chat.”

Yoongi fought the urge to roll his eyes. “You know what I mean.”

Taehyung shrugged. “No, never seen him, why?”

Yoongi shook his head, mind still whirring with questions. He wasn’t sure what he was looking for exactly but Taehyung was bound to know something that could help them figure this entire thing out and be done for good. “I don’t know, last night was just a little strange that’s all.” It wasn’t a lie. Midnight was unsettling in its red lights and naked bodies, unapologetic in their violence.  “I’d been expecting it of course, but Ji-Won is intense.” They hadn’t had any time to really talk about the case and Yoongi was curious about what Taehyung thought.

He was quiet for a second, as if deciding on which answer to pick. A smile danced on Taehyung’s lips. “He wants to fuck you, hyung. What were the words, ‘dress you up all prettily lace’?” He was smirking, they were clearly not going to have a real conversation.

Yoongi snorted. “He has Jungkook for that.”

Taehyung looked at him, nodding through a bite of his stead. “I suppose.”

Taehyung was being vague and Yoongi didn’t get why. He still wanted to push a little more. “He’s a little strange.”

“What do you mean?”

“Haven’t you noticed?” Yoongi asked. “Around us he’s was confident, in control but as soon as Ji-Won walked in, he was like a submissive pet. And as soon as Ji-Won glanced away from him, he kept watching everyone with those sharp eyes again.”

Taehyung placed his own plate on the side table. “Maybe he’s biding time?”

“Biding time?”

Taehyung shrugged. “You know how in all the movies and the books, the underling is always waiting  before they can take down the big boss and rule the empire.”

Yoongi watched Taehyung, his hair falling into his eyes, big smile on his face, finding this conversation funny. Yoongi sighed. “We aren’t living in The Godfather, Tae.”

“Is that the plot of the movie?” Taehyung said smirking, standing from the couch and collecting the plates. It wasn’t but that wasn’t the point. Yoongi looked at the time, it was nine now and he really should have been on his way home. He needed to look into Sang-Hee and her relationship with the chief. Hanging out with Taehyung like they were best friends wasn’t going to help him with anything, especially if Taehyung was being so evasive.

Yoongi followed him to the kitchen. Taehyung organised the dishes carefully and once again, it struck Yoongi how normal this all was as he went over to help. If a stranger were to walk in, they would have assumed they were friends, maybe even a couple sharing a meal and cleaning up.

“I’m sorry by the way,” Taehyung said after a while. He pressed start on the dishwasher and leaned against it as it roared to life.

“For what?”

“Last night. I kissed you when it wasn’t what you wanted.”

It wasn’t that Yoongi was particularly annoyed by the kiss itself, but what it meant. Taehyung kissing him in front of Ji-Won was like him marking his territory and Yoongi had no desire to be claimed, especially in a place like Midnight. The club was testosterone ruled and whoever could grab and fuck whichever weakling’s ass the hardest was respected. He met Taehyung’s eyes across him, trying so hard to break whatever walls the younger had set up.

“It’s fine but thank you,” Yoongi said. They fell into another silence and Yoongi didn’t know what to touch or do. Taehyung was looking at him with those eyes and he couldn’t really breathe anymore. Once again, so much was left unspoken. Apologies and regret, the remnants of trust floating around them in pieces.

“I should probably get home.”

Taehyung tilted his head, taking a step closer to him. Yoongi wanted to meet him half way, ball his t-shirt in his hands and just kiss him. He made a quick mental note not to roll his eyes whenever Jin mentioned losing his head when it concerned Taehyung. As per usual, his hyung was right.

“Thought we were pretending, hyung,” he whispered, taking another step and now he was only a step away. Yoongi covered the distance, standing just a few inches and desperately wanting…

“I don’t think I can pretend.” Pretending made it fake. It meant having to wake up tomorrow telling himself that the night before wasn’t real—that it meant nothing. He had spent the last few days doing that. He didn’t want to do it anymore. Yoongi knew his honesty left him vulnerable but what did he have left to lose, exactly? They had already crossed the proverbial line. Taehyung coaxed a thirst in him that was too difficult to douse and Yoongi was too tired and too anxious to fight it this time. “If we’re going to do this then I want it to be real.”

Taehyung laughed a little, breathing deeply as his nose touched Yoongi’s. The action felt so intimate, their eyes meeting before Taehyung ran past his cheek, sneaking a small kiss to his neck and nuzzling.

“What is it about you, hyung?” he asked quietly, voice deep and rich. Yoongi stayed still, letting Taehyung breathe him in, a little afraid that if he made any sudden movements, their little bubble would burst. He could almost feel the smile against his neck. “I always seem to lose my head.”

He mouthed at Yoongi’s neck, and Yoongi fought the groan building in him, breathing deeply and saying, “If it makes you feel any better, I’m the same.”

Yoongi brought Taehyung’s face up, his hands cupping his cheeks. Taehyung’s eyes gleamed under the golden lights, heavy with desire. He ran his thumb against Taehyung’s soft skin, watching his pink tongue lick his lips slowly.

Then he was being kissed. It was soft and slow, so gentle, nothing like the week before or last night. Yoongi’s hands fell to his hips, gripping a little at the bones.

“Is this okay?” Taehyung asked.

He nodded in response, unable to find his voice, caught in Taehyung’s eyes.

“I never stopped loving you, hyung.”

It was said so quietly, between a breath and a sigh, like a realisation to Taehyung himself, like he didn’t want anyone else to hear but him. Yoongi swallowed, falling into a deep water that did more to burn him than make him cold. The air was charged, Yoongi wanting to say the words back, but they were stuck in his throat.

“Tae,” he sighed out instead, kissing him, forcing his mouth open with his own. Taehyung’s tongue ran against his, deepening the kiss, their hips flush against each other, yet still fighting to get a little closer. Yoongi pushed Taehyung against the counter, his thigh slotting itself between his legs, hands sneaking under his t-shirt and running against the taught muscles. Yoongi was addicted to touching him, liking the way Taehyung groaned when his mouth moved to his neck or nipped at his thighs.

I never stopped loving you.

The words rang in Yoongi’s mind, driving him further as he pulled Taehyung’s shirt off. He didn’t want to think about what it meant for them. He simply wanted this moment.

“Bed. Please,” Yoongi said, trailing kisses down Taehyung’s neck and sucking a little. Taehyung took his hand and pulled him upstairs, still kissing him here and there. All Yoongi felt was bliss.

 

The room was rich with want. Yoongi knelt on the plush rug, slotted between Taehyung’s legs, looking up at him, lips wet and raw. In the soft lighting from the lamp, he could spot the beginnings of a bruise on Taehyung’s perfectly flushed chest, nipples erect and just begging to be kissed. Yet, he had other places he wished to attend to for now. He traced a line with his hand up the younger’s bare thigh, squeezing gently as he leaned down to mark kisses along the line he had drawn. Above him, he heard Taehyung let out a gasp, deep and satisfied. Yoongi smiled, still kissing, teasing just away from Taehyung’s balls and nipping gently, determined to leave marks on him.

Maybe to remind him.

Taehyung’s hip pushed forward.

When Yoongi finally wrapped his hand around his flushed and heavy length, Taehyung’s hips sprang up into his palm once again, hissing at the sensitivity. Smirking, his hand lazily moving up and down, slow and torturous, watching Taehyung’s parted lips let out quiet sounds of approval.

“F-fuck hyung,” Taehyung breathed, steadying his breath, Yoongi still looking up at him with hooded eyes, drunk on lust and love. Taehyung was so beautiful, rosy and at Yoongi’s mercy. Yoongi had missed this. Had missed the slow rhythm of it all, not rushed like last time. He liked watching Taehyung fall apart because of him and he knew Taehyung liked doing the same.

“Hyung please,” he whispered weakly, enough to sound like a wine. Yoongi ran his thumb against the tip, squeezing with just enough pressure knowing exactly what Taehyung wanted—what he liked. Taehyung was hard now, precum leaking down his shaft in slow dribbles.

“You’re so wet, Tae,” he said breathlessly, watching in awe. Yoongi wanted to taste. Wanted his throat to be fucked good until his voice was wrecked.

“Make me wetter,” Taehyung gasped out, hips bucking up again when Yoongi flicked his wrist.

He wasn’t going to deny him so he took him in, slowly then all at once, revelling in Taehyung’s soft whines as he reached the hilt and pulled off again, just as slow. His tongue swirled around the tip, tasting and licking against the frenulum for a while, causing Taehyung to grip his hair tight. Yoongi didn’t mind so he moved down again, his eyes open and watching Taehyung’s head fall back, mouth slightly open, vaguely aware of the shirt he was still wearing.

“Jesus, hyung, your m-mouth, your lips are pretty,” Taehyung murmured. “Y-you’re so…” Yoongi didn’t catch the end, it fell out of Taehyung’s mouth carelessly, his hips bucking up and Taehyung hitting the back of his throat. Yoongi moaned around him, drooling a little a the feeling. He was already so messy.

“Oh fuck, hyung, can I?” he looked down at Yoongi, fingers still threaded through his hair.

Yoongi looked up at him, relaxing his throat and trying to forget his gag reflex. He hadn’t done this in a while. Admittedly he had only ever done it with Taehyung.

“Yeah,” Yoongi croaked out. He wondered if he looked as bad as he sounded. He opened his mouth, tongue curling, mouth ready to be full. Taehyung took his cock in his hand, and ran it against Yoongi’s lower lip, teasing him with a cocky smile. On made Yoongi harder, knew he was stirring on the floor in search of some pressure. When Taehyung finally let him taste, hand in hair and controlling his head,  Yoongi tasted the saltiness, moaning at the sight of the dark want in Taehyung’s eyes. His mouth closed around Taehyung and he wasn’t given much time to adjust. Taehyung fucked into him hard, letting out several curses and praises as he did, which only made Yoongi more determined to take it. His hand moved to his groan, rubbing a little, just to ease off the pressure, making Taehyung laugh above him.

“Y-you’re always so fu-ucking desperate, babe. How is that?” It was meant to be mocking, but his voice was too scratchy, strained from the way Yoongi was taking him so well. If Yoongi could smile, he would have. Taehyung pushed in again, hitting the back of his throat and prompting a tear to run down Yoongi’s cheek. The gag reflex was kicking in, but he fought it, taking Taehyung and letting him have his way. Yoongi could feel his own wetness between his legs now and he was so, so desperate for more.

“Shit,” Taehyung laughed breathlessly. “Your mouth is s-soo….Ah.”

The praise only fuelled the fire in Yoongi. He wondered if Taehyung was going to come like this, but just as he did, Taehyung pulled off. Yoongi let out a shaky breath, vaguely aware of the pressure still building in him, his raw knees and the tears staining his cheeks. Taehyung grabbed him, pulling him up onto his lap. Yoongi stared down at him, hands coming to cup his cheeks and kissing him hard, grinding down on Taehyung, desperate to get fucked.

“Tae,” his voice was fucked as he continued to kiss him silly. “Fuck. Inside me. P-please.”

Taehyung pulled his head back, watching Yoongi carefully, eyes still dark, but filled with something else, something that made Yoongi pause. A whine escaped him involuntarily when Taehyung gripped his ass hard, stilling him in place. “No,” he cried weakly, burying his face in the base of Taehyung’s neck.

Taehyung was still holding him, no matter how hard Yoongi tried to grind down. “You’re going to mess everything up for me, hyung. You and that damn mouth of yours.” He pulled Yoongi up by his neck into a bruising kiss, biting a sucking before Yoongi could ask what he meant. He barely registered Taehyung finding the lube and covering his pretty, long fingers with it.

“Wanna ride you,” Yoongi whispered, not trusting his voice. He nuzzled at Taehyung’s neck again, breathing his scent in, the mixture of soap and a distant cologne.

Taehyung’s chest rose and fell, like he was laughing. “Of course, baby. Anything you want.” The way he said it made Yoongi truly believe he could have anything, as long as he asked. Then Taehyung’s hand was pulling his cheeks apart, revealing his hole and running a slick finger against it. His mouth fell open but no sound came out. He shivered, still holding onto him tightly, afraid to let go.

One finger was in.

Then another.

Yoongi squirmed. He didn’t want to wait. He could feel Taehyung rubbing against his hole along with his fingers. “I want you now, please,” he said, voice surprisingly calm despite the scratchiness of his throat. Taehyung laughed a little, slapping his ass gently with his free hand. “We’re only on two. Be patient.”

Yoongi didn’t protest. He liked the laziness of this, liked the way Taehyung was holding him gently. After a few more fingers, and a lot more whining, Yoongi took Taehyung in fully, gasping when he was fully in. “You feel so good,” he told him, looking into Taehyung’s eyes, their foreheads touching, stuck in an intoxicatingly deep intimacy that Yoongi had missed.

Taehyung seemed to understand that, and he indulged Yoongi fully. So he fell into Taehyung completely, yet still aware of Taehyung’s words: I never stopped loving you. Yoongi desperately wanted to believe them.

 

It was only after they had showered, barely able to stop kissing, Yoongi lying on Taehyung’s chest, that Yoongi asked the question he had been dreading for a while. They had switched off the lights around the house, blown out the candles, hugged and kissed a lot. Yoongi felt young and innocent, liked the way Taehyung made him forget that his best friend’s life was depending on him or that their chief was heavily corrupt. It even made him forget that he couldn’t really trust Taehyung much.   

“What was it like?” he asked tiredly through a yawn.

Taehyung was quiet and Yoongi thought he may have fallen asleep. After a while though, Taehyung spoke. “What was what like?” he sounded tired, voice heavy with sleep.

“Being arrested? Being inside…”

Another silence, but Taehyung was still rubbing his back leisurely, lulling him deeper into sleep. “I wasn’t in there for long but I guess you wouldn’t have known that.”

Yoongi knew the words were supposed to wake him up, should have cleared the sex heavy fog in his brain but he was simply too tired. “Two months then I got out. Still w-wasn’t pretty though,” he sighed out.

Two months out of a five year sentence. That didn’t add up at all.

“So where were you all this time?” Yoongi was waking up now, his body tensing up despite Taehyung’s gentle touch. He shifted under Yoongi with a small whine, like he was too tired to keep the conversation going. Yoongi knew it was wrong to make someone talk in this state, but he needed to know. What had Taehyung been up to since he got out?

Taehyung yawned. “Busan,” he murmured. “I like the beach. Hung out with Jiminie. It was nice.” Then he placed a gentle kiss on the top of Yoongi’s head. “Now sleep, hyung.”

Yoongi didn’t sleep, another piece fell onto the puzzle and Yoongi struggled all night with trying to fit it in the right place.

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[ My Twitter ..come say hi] 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

Yoongi was up before Taehyung, and for a moment, he considered leaving quietly without a word. Last night’s events were clearly etched on his skin, the memories pulling him in as he looked at the scratches and bruises tracing Taehyung. He couldn’t bring himself to leave. Instead he watched Taehyung breathing softly, hair fanned onto his brow, lips apart. He was beautiful and as much as Yoongi wanted to regret everything between them, he couldn’t bring himself to.

He wondered whether he still loved Taehyung and as the memories of the night before spilt back into his head, he wasn’t sure he could really himself. He didn’t want to feel anything as reckless as love. Loving Taehyung would be a mistake. It had burnt him before, maybe both of them, and there was no guarantee that it wouldn’t burn them again. Despite Yoongi’s own hesitation, Taehyung had still said it the night before so quietly, barely above a whisper, as Yoongi’s mouth trailed his neck. Yoongi’s mind was running with him and all he wanted to do was stop time and think, but the sun continued to seep into the room, crawling up the morning sky with no sense of urgency.

Next to him, Taehyung stirred, mumbling something before opening his eyes.

“Yoon,” he sighed out.

Yoongi couldn’t help but reach out a hand and brush Taehyung’s hair softly with his fingers. Taehyung turned to him, mouth pouty and eyes slightly puffy. “You’re still here.” It was a slow statement, laced with surprise. Yoongi fought the pressure building in his chest, the worry and the doubt. He found it in him to smile.

“Yeah,” he breathed, “Still here.”

Taehyung looked at him for a moment, confusion colouring his face then moved to sit up. “Okay,” he murmured, still quiet, like a child. “Breakfast?”

“I don’t think—”

Taehyung’s hand found his in the covers, holding it in place, eyes searching. His hand was soft, holding Yoongi’s firmly, like he was afraid Yoongi would let go if he didn’t hold tightly enough. “Hyung,” he breathed. “I don’t know what this is either but,” he stopped, breathing, eyes moving away from Yoongi’s and to the window. Yoongi wondered how Taehyung was going to finish the sentence. “Just breakfast,” he finished.

He doubted those were the words he wanted to say, but he nodded anyway, liking the warmth he could feel from Taehyung’s hand.

“Yeah,” Yoongi said quietly. “Okay.”

It was telling Taehyung the truth last night, putting Hoseok in danger.

It was feeling all of Taehyung, putting his own heart on the line.

It was staying when asked.

Yoongi wondered how far he was going to allow himself to go, simply because Taehyung, wide-eyed and pouty, asked him to. At least Yoongi knew not to trust the innocent eyes. At least he knew to try and guard his heart.

Futile as it might have been. At least Yoongi knew…

 

They ate in silence, Yoongi squeezing his thigh to stop himself from saying something, because they had to talk. Taehyung and Jimin were going back to Ji-Won’s home later today and Yoongi knew him and his team had to come up with a plan to get Ji-Won without implicating Taehyung. He knew he could trust Jin and Namjoon with everything, but the rest of them? The chief could have someone in their team reporting everything back to him. It was more likely than not. Someone as wrought with corruption as their chief was bound to have a messenger on all fronts.

“What are you thinking about, hyung?” Taehyung asked across him. Yoongi looked down at his cup of coffee, not quite sure if he could tell him everything. Across him, he heard Taehyung sigh followed by a breathless laugh. “You don’t have to tell me. I get your job requires some level of secrecy.”

“That’s not—” Yoongi stopped when he heard the unmistakable sound of the front door opening. He looked at Taehyung in question, but he looked just as confused himself.

Then, Park Jimin’s voice carried through the hallway. “Tae, I don’t know how easy it will be to—” Jimin stopped when he saw Yoongi, eyes going wide with surprise. There was a tense moment of silence, Jimin’s eyes looking between them curiously. Yoongi squirmed in his seat. Park Jimin had always been an anomaly for Yoongi, and Jimin being here this early in the morning, stained with paint brought more questions to Yoongi than anything else.

“Oh,” Jimin said, face going blank after a minute. “Didn’t realise you were here.” The words weren’t laced with any malice, just surprise.

Yoongi simply shrugged, standing. He needed to get to the precinct to brief his team anyway. Playing house with Taehyung had to end at some point. “I was just leaving.”

He quickly collected his phone, wallet and keys, shoving them into his pockets and trying not to feel affronted by Jimin’s gaze. He turned to Taehyung, who looked more amused than anything else.

“I’ll talk to you later, Tae. Let me know how Ji-Won’s goes and um,” he paused, stealing at glance at Jimin. “About the other thing, I’ll do my best to make sure you don’t get implicated in any of it.”

Taehyung smiled, mid-chew. “No worries, hyung. I know you’ll try.”

Yoongi wasn’t sure whether Taehyung should put his faith in him because at the end of the day, if it came down to choosing between Taehyung and Hoseok…

Yoongi walked out.

 


 

Namjoon and Seokjin decided not to mention Bae Sang-Hee or her involvement with the chief to the team. Instead, during the briefing, they focused on Ji-Won, deciding that the arrest would take place during the man’s gathering at his home in the coming two weeks. It was up to Yoongi to gather enough compelling evidence to earn them an arrest warrant.

“How easy would it be to take pictures?” Nayeon asked Yoongi from the chair, looking at the aerial photographs of Ji-Won’s mansion on the outskirts of Seoul.

Impossible, Yoongi thought. Judging from the way they were all under guard in Ji-Won’s home, it was unlikely he would be able to sneak a picture of anything whilst being closely watched.

“It might be difficult. Ji-Won has everything under guard 24/7. I could try, but—”

“What about the informant? Kim?” Hyungwon asked. He was their computers guy and a damn good hacker who could get information on almost anything. A picture of Taehyung flashed on the screen. Yoongi looked away. “Could he possibly get some pictures or anything that might help in the DA’s office?”

Namjoon hummed from where he stood, shaking his head. “If he’s testifying, we’d rather not risk him getting caught collecting evidence.”

“Then what’s the point of him being involved in this?” Nayeon mumbled under her breath. She looked up, meeting Namjoon’s gaze levelly. “I’m sorry if I sound rude, but I feel like I’m missing something here. Kim Taehyung’s involvement in this makes no sense to me. If anything, it seems to be further complicating what should be a very simple case.”

Yoongi stole a glance at Seokjin and sighed heavily. His team wasn’t stupid. Their job was to follow the evidence and so far the evidence was showing that there was something very wrong with all of this.

“Maybe,” Yoongi spoke up, hating that he was treating them like they were stupid. “But let’s not focus on Kim Taehyung. Let’s focus on organising a task force to be ready for the arrest. Ji-Won’s home is heavily guarded and everyone is armed.”

Nayeon’s mouth was set in a line, but she nodded anyway, trained to follow orders. “Of course,” she nodded. “I’ll make sure everything is handled.”

“Hyungwon,” Yoongi turned to the hacker. “Make sure you maintain surveillance on the house. Anything that comes in and out should be documented, okay?”

The man nodded, gathering up his stuff. The rest of them packed up too as the meeting ended and they returned to their desks. When everyone was out of the room except for Namjoon and Seokjin, the tiredness rapidly caught up to Yoongi. Everyone was lying to someone and Yoongi hated not being able to trust himself with anything. Nayeon was right, this was supposed to be a simple case, but too many webs were connected and one too many lives at stake.

Jin looked at him, and Yoongi could tell he wanted to say something, but Namjoon beat him to it. “Hyung told me about the chief and Sang-Hee.” He paused, running a hand through his hair. “He also told me about you warning Taehyung.”

Yoongi felt his cheeks flush, ugly guilt snaking through him. He wanted to apologise, maybe explain why he had done it, but all of it felt wrong. Choosing Taehyung last night had been selfish. Choosing to sleep with Taehyung, letting all those words slip out of his mouth had been selfish.

Yet, whichever side Yoongi stood on, he’d be guilty either way.

“I get it, you know,” Namjoon said, Jin leaning against a desk with his arms crossed. “If I was in your position and it was Seok instead of Taehyung, I’d have done the same thing.”

Yoongi opened his mouth to protest. What Namjoon and Hoseok had was sacred. They loved each other to the death. Yoongi couldn’t compare his relationship with Taehyung to theirs. It felt wrong. Before he could say anything though, Namjoon stopped him with a smile, like he understood something Yoongi didn’t. Yoongi hated that smile.

“Don’t do that, hyung.”

“Do what?”

“Riddle yourself with so much guilt that you fall into a spiral of self-doubt. You’re doing well given the circumstances of this case. Don’t let yourself think you aren’t. It’s also okay if you still love him.”

Yoongi looked down at his feet. He knew what Namjoon was trying to do, but Yoongi couldn’t help but feel like he was failing. Maybe he should have just let Jin take lead on this after all.

“Wait did something happen again last night?” Namjoon asked, frowning. When Yoongi didn’t answer, he let out a laugh. “Actually no, I don’t want to know. But just—just be careful, hyung.”

Yoongi almost wanted to tell them what Taehyung had said last night, but that seemed like a conversation he’d rather have with Hoseok.

“Thanks Joon-ah. Thanks for not hating me.”

Namjoon nodded in turn. “Of course, hyung.” He turned back to Jin. “I’m gonna look up Sang-Hee and maybe see if she’s had any contact with Ji-Won before.”

Jin pushed himself off the desk and shoved his hands in his pockets. “Mmh, I’ll help. We also have to decide whether we’re going to do about the chief. Do we report what we find or do we turn a blind eye?”

Yoongi was too tired to think that far. “I don’t know. The number one priority is Hoseok.”

Namjoon nodded. “Hoseok,” he murmured. “Without implicating Taehyung.”

Yoongi offered him a watery smile of thanks and when they were out of the room, Yoongi’s mind ticked with last night’s events.

Busan, he thought.

He had been battling with Jeon Jungkook from the moment he met him and something about Taehyung mentioning Busan the night before had left Yoongi curious, if not suspicious. He walked over to Nayeon’s desk, who was staring intently at her computer and jotting something down furiously. She looked up when she saw him.

“Yoongi-ssi,” she started. “What’s up?”

Yoongi wasn’t sure whether his suspicions were correct, but he had to try. Despite not really trusting his gut, he had to give this a shot. “Hey,” he began. “Can you do me a favour?”

Nayeon shrugged.

“Can you get a uniform to track someone for me?”

Nayeon arched an eyebrow.

“Jeon Jungkook.”

Her eyes narrowed into slits. “Isn’t that Ji-Won’s pet?”

“Kinda,” Yoongi hummed in vague confirmation. “Can you do it, but make sure no one else knows? Get pictures of him with anyone he meets outside Ji-Won?”

“What are you thinking?” she asked curiously.

Yoongi shrugged. He wasn’t really sure himself but it was clear that there was something about Jungkook that was beyond him being a pet. Yoongi wanted to know what it was, and whether it would stop him from closing this case and helping Hoseok.

“I’m not sure, to be honest. It’s just a hunch,” he replied.

Nayeon was silent for a second, eyes narrowed in thought. “How off the books is this?”

“Like off-off books.”

She nodded. “Right,” she murmured. “Don’t trust this with a uniform then. I’ll do it, but cover for me with the chief?” She looked down the hall towards his office.

“No worries. You’re out sick.”

She grinned and fake coughed. “Oh no, I think I’ve come down with something.”

“Shit, it might be contagious. I think maybe you should go home and wait it out, Nayeon-ssi.”

Nayeon smiled and coughed again. “Oh that sucks, but you’re right. Thank you, Yoongi-ssi.”

Yoongi smiled, trying not to laugh. “Get well soon.”

When Yoongi walked over to his own desk, he slipped out his phone and found Hoseok’s name.

 

Yoongi: Can we talk?

Hoseokie: Woah, hyung, how ominous. Let’s meet for coffee in an hour?

Yoongi: Sorry.

Yoongi: It’s nothing scary. Kinda.

Yoongi: Okay coffee sounds good. See you.

Hoseokie: See youuu.

 

Hoseok was as cheery as ever, which automatically put Yoongi in a slightly better mood. He wondered how his friend managed it, with everything that had happened to him before. Yoongi had never really asked for the details of that night in the club, and he had never really wanted to know. Hoseok’s life had never been easy, but Yoongi was glad that the man who had hurt him was dead for it.

“So what’s up, hyung?  What has you texting me like you’re in a movie?”

Yoongi didn’t even know where to start. He wanted to tell Hoseok the truth about everything, from Taehyung to their chief. He knew it was up to him, not Namjoon to tell the truth about what he had done and how risky the situation was for all of them.

Across him, Hoseok drank his cup of coffee, brow raised. “Hyung, you’re scaring me,” he laughed.

Yoongi finally let out a breath, deciding to bite the bullet. “I understand if you get mad at me Seok-ah, but please know I’m doing my best to make sure nothing happens to you.”

“Okay?” Hoseok said slowly, still smiling like nothing was wrong.

“You know how Taehyung is helping us with the case, right?” Yoongi began. Hoseok nodded immediately. “Did Namjoon tell you why?”

“No, but he did come home more stressed out than usual last night. I’m guessing what you’re about to tell me has something to do with that?”

“Right,” Yoongi nodded, taking a deep breath. “I guess I should start from the beginning.”

“That’s always a good place,” Hoseok said encouragingly.

So Yoongi did. He told Hoseok about his meeting with the chief, about their little deal—Ji-Won in exchange for Hoseok. He told him about the chief’s dealings and how this was all potentially dirty. He told him about everything between him and Taehyung too, everything Taehyung had said and everything he hadn’t said. When he was done relaying the story, Hoseok looked thoughtful but not angry. It threw Yoongi off kilter. He was supposed to be a little angry, if not at Yoongi then at least their chief, but nothing.

“I’m sorry Seok. I’m sorry for not being a better friend,” he finished, feeling a little lighter even though he knew he didn’t deserve it.

But Hoseok shrugged. “You’re telling me now, hyung. That’s all that matters. If anything I’m mostly worried about you and Taehyung.”

Yoongi eyed him levelly, because of course Hoseok’s first thought was to worry about Yoongi and not the proverbial gauntlet hanging over his throat. “That’s not important right now, Seok-ah.”

Hoseok waved a hand to stop him from talking. “Look, you said you don’t know all the details, right? All you can do is your job and make sure you get that painting from Ji-Won. Whatever shit your chief is in sounds bigger than all of us. I just want my friends to be safe. If that means turning a blind eye to whatever shady dealings then that has to be okay. It’s not your job to save the whole world.” He said the sentence so quietly, Yoongi barely heard him in the busy café. It wasn’t his job, Yoongi knew that but shouldn’t he at least try?

“We’ll be fine. I’ll make sure of it.” It was a promise Yoongi didn’t think he had any right making, but he wanted to assure Hoseok anyway. It was all he could really offer.

Hoseok looked up, slight dimples on display. “Good. That’s all I want,” he murmured. “Now, Kim Taehyung. Talk to me.”

Yoongi sighed, rolling his eyes dramatically. “Can we not do this right now?”

“You’ve slept with him twice now, Yoongs. He said he never stopped loving you, but for some reason you doubt that? So yes, we have to do this right now.”

Yoongi leaned back in his chair and fiddled with his mug. “Okay,” he murmured. “It’s silly. I know I shouldn’t—”

“It’s okay to still love him, hyung. You shouldn’t feel guilty about that.”

It was the second time someone was telling him that, but Yoongi couldn’t bring himself to fully believe it. There were too many feelings vying for attention inside him, not clear which one was real and which one had been conjured up by blind nostalgia and memory.

“I don’t think I should though,” he replied honestly. When Hoseok rose an eyebrow in question, Yoongi could feel it all bubbling to the surface, everything he had ignored the night before as he lay in Taehyung’s arms. Everything he had allowed himself to forget for the sake of pretending. “I know Taehyung, and I know he’s working an angle.”

Hoseok still looked unconvinced. “Are you just telling yourself that because you don’t think he’d be able to forgive you and still love you?”

“Are you my therapist?” It came out sharper than Yoongi intended but Hoseok simply snorted, shaking his head.

“Don’t be an ass, hyung. I’m just trying to help.”

“Sorry,” Yoongi murmured. His head was prickling with all the possibilities and suspicions. “He said something else last night.”

Hoseok’s brow lifted curiously, urging him to continue. Yoongi let out a loud, slightly dramatic sigh. “We were…well, I was—” he stopped when Hoseok started giggling, mouth covered by his hand.

“Hyung, I know what sucking dick is. Just continue.”

Yoongi cringed. “Okay, then he said something along the lines of; ‘you’re going to ruin everything for me’. Like what do I make of that?”

Hoseok was still smiling, clearly not taking him seriously. “Maybe that’s like his way of dirty talk. Strange but kinda kinky. It goes with his criminal aesthetic and your dramatic ass.”

Yoongi rolled his head, pushing his chair back and more than prepared to leave. Hoseok burst out in laughter, shaking his head, trying to stop him. “Sorry!” he shrieked. “Sorry, hyung. Don’t leave. I’m only joking.”

Yoongi settled back in his chair, jaw set even though he was finding this a little funny, Hoseok had a way of lightening the mood without it being annoying.

“Look, hyung,” he began again seriously. “Are you sure you aren’t overthinking this? Both you and Joon do this all the time. You overthink every little detail, which is why you’re great at your jobs but you and Taehyung are complicated enough as it is. Don’t look for more things to complicate it.”

Yoongi thought about it for a moment. Maybe Hoseok was onto something. Maybe Yoongi just didn’t want to believe Taehyung as some sort of self-flagellation or penance. And yet, despite his gut being all over the place lately, Yoongi was still inclined to trust it this time. Something just wasn’t adding up.

“Do you still love him?” Hoseok asked.

Yoongi wanted to say no. That had been his response to Seokjin the night before. Denying it was the easiest way to do it. It would hurt less when the inevitable happened. “I don’t want to,” he said instead, and it was true enough. He didn’t want to love Taehyung anymore. Perhaps if he stopped, he could finally stop punishing himself and his tattoo would just be another mark on his skin.

Hoseok nodded thoughtfully. “Maybe when this is over you two can talk properly, like real adults with no beds in sight.”

“Funny,” Yoongi shot back.

Hoseok laughed at that, shaking his head. “You’re strange Min Yoongi. You and Taehyung are so strange. I don’t get why there is so much angst involved in this. You both have mouths to just talk. Instead you keep using yours to--”

“Hobi.”

Hoseok ducked his head. “Sorry, but you get my point.”

 Even if they talked, one of them wouldn’t be honest so what was the point? Yoongi had tried the night before and Taehyung had given him nothing. “He’s playing a game, Seok-ah. I just don’t know what it is.”

Hoseok was still smiling. “Or maybe you’re just paranoid, hyung. Maybe you’re afraid he’ll do to you what you did to him.”

Yoongi had no idea what to say to that so Hoseok shrugged unapologetically. “I’m your best friend. It’s my job to tell you what you don’t wanna tell yourself.” He paused picking up his phone. “Okay, dinner at ours this Sunday? Did Namjoon tell you?”

“No?” Yoongi answered slowly, surprised by the turn in conversation.

Hoseok rolled his eyes, shaking his head. “I swear I can’t trust him with anything.”

 

Yoongi was back at the precinct. It was already late in the afternoon and he hadn’t heard anything from Nayeon. He hadn’t expected anything so soon but he had still hoped.  Both Namjoon and Seokjin were out, and even the bullpen had begun to thin out as the afternoon progressed. Yoongi was on his laptop, discreetly looking up anything he could find in the records about the chief’s suspension from his previous department.

There wasn’t much, most of it seemed like it had been buried inside other cases or completely classified. His eyes scanned the screen quickly, looking up at intervals just in case someone came in looking for him. Outside, the sun was taking on its orange tinge, late summer falling into early autumn.

As he was shutting off his open tabs, a knock sounded on his door.

“Min,” a rough voice called up.

Instinctively, Yoongi’s hands balled into fists as he looked up to face the chief. The man wasn’t in his usual uniform today, dressed more simply in a white shirt and slacks.

“In my office,” he said, before continuing down the hallway.

For a moment, Yoongi looked at the gun he barely carried around and shook his head. He didn’t like the man, didn’t mean he wanted to shoot him. He slid out of his chair and followed the old man to his office.

The chief was leaning against his desk, arms crossed and face passive. “You and your team have been pretty hush hush with this case, huh?” he said in greeting. “I suppose you have contact with Kang?”

He seemed so casual, as if the week before he hadn’t threatened Hoseok’s freedom in order to carry out his own fucked up dealings with the powerful men and women of Seoul.  

“Yes, sir,” Yoongi murmured. “We have contact.”

The man lifted an eyebrow, but Yoongi was choosing to be purposefully obtuse. He had always been petty and dramatic. Situations like this called for that side of him.

“And?”

“And what, sir? We have contact. We are working as hard as we can.”

The chief spat out a laugh, less than amused. “You’re still so naïve, Min.”

“Excuse me, sir?”

He shook his head, eyeing Yoongi carefully before pushing himself off the desk and walking to Yoongi. He wasn’t much taller than Yoongi, nor built. No part of him was intimidating and Yoongi eyed him just as closely as he was being looked at.

“What gives you the right to carry out directives without my okay?”

For a moment, Yoongi panicked that maybe the man had found out about Nayeon, but then again why would he be pissed off about that.

“Didn’t you ask Seokjin to find out about my previous department?” He laughed. “Do you trust me so little, Min? And here I was thinking we had a good deal.”

Yoongi let out an uneasy breath, trying to seem as unaffected as possible. He stood his ground. “I have to cover my bases, sir, know who I’m working for.”

The chief stood back, watching him closely. A hand went up to his chin, as if deep in thought. “And what did you find?”

“You were suspended from your last post. The rest was classified,” he lied.

The man across him nodded. “I see,” he murmured. “Overstep again Min and I will make sure your little friend rots in prison and you lose your job.”

Yoongi grit his teeth, anger oozing through him, thick and dark like molten tar, but he bit it down. This wasn’t the time to overreact. He had to act like a good little subordinate who follows orders so he nodded once. “Yes, sir.”

The chief nodded after a long pause, eyes still careful. “I expect full and regular updates from now on.” He walked back to his desk. “Dismissed.”  

Full updates my ass, Yoongi thought as he walked out of the office.

 

The sun had gone away for the night by the time Yoongi quietly went to his car in the back garage. He doubted anyone was watching them. This wasn’t Homicide, but he was still taking precautions. Ji-Won didn’t know his name which helped but he knew it wouldn’t be difficult if the man decided to dig a little further. Perhaps it was a little careless of them, but they were going on the assumption that this was too small a deal for the man to exert his efforts too much.

As Yoongi slipped into his car, ready to get home and take a nice long, hot bath—maybe drink some wine and pass out, his phone buzzed in his pocket. He thought about ignoring it for a second, leaning back in the leather seat and closing his eyes as it continued to buzz away. Finally, he slipped it out and looked at the caller I.D, his stomach fluttering at the name.

“Taehyung,” he answered.

“Ji-Won wants to talk business. He told me to meet him at Midnight.”

Yoongi looked at the time, it was just after seven and he almost groaned. “Any idea what this is about?”

Taehyung hummed thoughtfully on the other end. “Hm, it might have to do with a shipment from China.”

“How do you know this?”

Taehyung laughed airily. “Just because I’m not involved in that world anymore, doesn’t mean I don’t know people who are.”

“Right,” Yoongi murmured. “I’ll meet you at yours in an hour. Need to get home and change.”

“Aw, are you dressing up for me, hyung?”

“Bye, Taehyung,” Yoongi said pointedly before cutting the call.

He sat behind the wheel for a moment, eyes shut. He was tired, the kind of tired that seeped into your bones and made everything hurt.

“You’re fine,” Yoongi told himself. Maybe the power of Kim Seokjin could be with him tonight.

 

The second floor of Midnight seemed busier on a Thursday night. More men and women stood around, holding glasses of various concoctions in their hands. The music played from the invisible speakers, servers dressed in nothing save for the thigh high boots walking around chatting and smiling at the clientele. In the corner of his eye, Yoongi saw a glass table, white lines traced on it and a man in a suit leaning down.

Next to him, Taehyung seemed as unbothered as usual, following behind the woman leading them to Ji-Won. “You okay, hyung?” he asked, looking at Yoongi, eyes filled with worry.

“Yeah, just tired,” he said looking back at Taehyung with a small smile.

“You don’t have to stay, hyung. I can handle it,” Taehyung said to him, eyes earnest. Yoongi’s first instinct was not to trust those words, but something in Taehyung’s eyes told him he was being sincere. Yoongi felt his insides flutter, his fingers twitching, wanting to reach out and hold Taehyung’s hand.

But before his heart could choose to operate without his consent, they were back in the room where Yoongi had watched Haechan die. It was just the same, the red lights and the glass stages, music bumping from the speakers. Yoongi watched the dancers moving slowly to the beat, spinning on the polls, bills littering their stages. One dancer wearing sky high clear heels got to her knees and crawled up to a businessman, who was watching in awe and tugged at his tie, licking her lips. Yoongi was pretty sure the man came right there and then from the way his jaw dropped and his eyes shot open.

Something twisted in Yoongi’s gut as his eyes continued to survey the room, the violent red booths occupied by men drinking expensive bottles of whiskey. In the corner, a table full of a men watched two shirtless men making out, one straddling the other and grinding down slowly. Yoongi tore his eyes away, heart pounding, matching the beat of a song he didn’t recognise. He wondered who these men were, if they had wives or children and whether they knew. After being a rookie on patrol all those years ago, Yoongi knew wives always knew and if they didn’t—they chose not to.

Kang Ji-Won was placed in exactly the same place they had seen him Tuesday night, surrounded by some faces Yoongi recognised. He was spread out lazily on the couch, a woman dressed in a thong and heels dancing in front of him, smiling as she teased. He wasn’t smiling. He simply sat back and watched, a cigarette in his mouth, puffing out smoke and holding a tumbler of brown liquid. As they got closer, Yoongi saw Ji-Won slip something into Jungkook’s mouth. He already looked a little spacey in the haze, eyes wide and cheeks flushed. Today he didn’t look quite as put together. Instead, his shirt was carelessly rolled up, his hair messy and in his eyes.

“Sir,” the woman who was leading said carefully.

Ji-Won looked up and grinned. He reached out his hand, slapping the dancer’s ass. She took it as her cue to leave, smiling lazily and winking at Taehyung as she slid past them.

“Taehyung,” Ji-Won said, voice light. “Thank you for coming all this way. Please sit.” He gestured to the free couch opposite him. Yoongi’s eyes fell on Jungkook again. He wasn’t watching them, instead his eyes were on the glass table. Yoongi followed his gaze and this time there were no guns, just several white pills.

“Want some, pretty?” Ji-Won said, following Yoongi’s gaze. Yoongi’s head snapped up to look at Ji-Won’s knowing grin. “I’m guessing you don’t give it? You take it, don’t you? They’ll get you nice and ready—loose.”

Yoongi opened his mouth to bite out a response but Taehyung beat him to it. “You called me. I came. What can I help you with, Mr. Kang?”

Ji-Won tilted his head, pouting a little. “Mr. Kang? I thought we were more familiar now.”

Yoongi’s fists were clenched at his sides, heart racing. Jungkook eyed him, despite his unfocused eyes, like he was trying to tell him something.

Taehyung didn’t respond, simply cocked a dark eyebrow.

“They told me how fun you used to be, Taehyung-ssi.” Ji-Won let out a laugh and leaned forward, matching Taehyung’s gaze. “But fine, business it is.” He sipped on his drink again. Yoongi’s skin crawled, something about this all too familiar. He was on edge, expecting some poor man to be dragged before them and be shot by Ji-Won. Yoongi hadn’t really been able to sleep well since and being in Midnight was making him sick.

“I have a shipment coming in from Guangzhou next week. It’s full of rare pottery from the Qing Dynasty. I want you to push them. Find me a market.”

Yoongi turned back to Ji-Won, who had slipped the cigarette back between his teeth. He inhaled deeply and smiled at the exhale. “You’re into rare artefacts aren’t you? Qing Dynasty pottery is about as rare as you can get, no?”

Taehyung matched the look on Ji-Won’s face. “Not really, no. The Yuan Dynasty however…” he trailed, looking just as smug.

Ji-Won waved a hand dismissively. “Nonetheless, Taehyung, are you willing to get into business with me? I’ll make you so fucking rich you’ll have no idea what to do with your money.” Ji-Won’s asked, going for a familiar tone. “Men like us are only ever after one thing after all.” His eyes fell on Yoongi.

Yoongi flinched.

“And what’s that?” Taehyung asked.

Ji-Won and a few of his friends laughed at the question. “Money, power—maybe even glory.” He shrugged. “This deal would give you all of that. Earn you back your respect.”

Yoongi thought about Ji-Won’s words. Before his arrest, Taehyung was young but highly respected. He had all those things Ji-Won had mentioned and then some. Yoongi wondered if Taehyung might be tempted by it.

“I thought you knew I was out of that business,” Taehyung replied.

“Anyone will do anything for the right amount of money,” Ji-Won said confidently. Next to him, Yoongi watched as Jungkook’s head fell back on the couch. His entire face was flushed now, even in the dim lighting, hands clutched tightly.

“What are you carrying in them?” Taehyung asked.

Ji-Won narrowed his eyes, tilting his head in question.

Taehyung laughed. “You said yourself you aren’t a cultured man. I find it hard to believe that you’d only be transporting rare pottery. You’re smuggling something. What is it?”

 Ji-Won’s eyes widened, but only for a moment. He was composed a second later and laughing heartily. One of his men laughed too, shaking his head and slipping out his gun. Yoongi stiffened next to Taehyung, his hand immediately going to hold Taehyung’s knee protectively. Taehyung looked at him, eyes full of something Yoongi didn’t really have time to figure out. The gun was placed on the table on the glass table, in all its stealth matte black glory. It was the same model as the ones Ji-Won had displayed Tuesday evening.

“You ask too many questions, Taehyung.”

“I’d put that away,” Yoongi spoke up for the first time. He wasn’t sure why he was saying that. He wasn’t armed and he was pretty sure if it came down to hand-to-hand combat against any of Ji-Won’s men, he’d be knocked out in a few seconds. Ji-Won’s eyes fell on him, and the grin that spread on his face was everything but friendly. Yoongi wasn’t feeling very friendly either.

“Aw how loyal,” Ji-Won mocked with a laugh. “And why would I do that, pretty?”

Yoongi knew he needed to back off to keep their cover but made his blood boil and Yoongi wanted to see nothing else but his ass in jail, maybe with a few teeth knocked in. “I could have one of my men drag you to a back room and ruin you, sweetheart. Put you in line. I’d keep my mouth shut if I were you.”

“For someone trying to court me, you’re doing an awful job at being polite,” Taehyung said, sounding bored.

Ji-Won’s eyes fell back on Taehyung, a little panic flashing past his face. Yoongi’s cheeks flushed with anger, fists balling, knowing ‘ruin’ had nothing to do with being beaten up in a dingy alley. That knowledge pushed him to the edge, letting go of his hold on Taehyung’s knee. He was about to do something stupid when Jungkook suddenly fell to the floor, coughing violently. The tension dissipated in an instant, people on other tables looking on at the scene with curious eyes. Jungkook kept coughing, body heaving on the floor. Ji-Won sneered and stuck out his leg, kicking Jungkook’s side. The young man groaned, shielding himself.

“Shit, you useless cunt, can’t even take your drugs. Go clean yourself up.”

Jungkook’s eyes met Yoongi’s as he pulled himself up, standing on shaky legs like a newly born foal. It looked wrong on someone as strong as him and because it looked so wrong, Yoongi grew more curious. Jungkook disappeared down a hallway, shooting Yoongi another look discreetly whilst coughing. Yoongi stayed put for a second, weighing his options whilst JI-Won leaned back in his seat and continued to speak. Jungkook wanted something from him, Yoongi thought so he quickly excused himself, coming up with an excuse about having to pee.

The bathrooms were surprisingly clean, lit with a golden lighting, welcome after the dim red of the lounge. There was a row of urinals behind a wall and then another row of stalls and sinks on the other side. When Yoongi stepped in, he couldn’t find it in him to be surprised to see Jungkook, leaning upright against the row of sinks, not coughing and smiling. He was faking it.

“Hi,” he said, smile still on his face. He looked like a child. “You were about to get yourself killed in there.”

Yoongi didn’t say anything. His eyes fell to the long expanse of mirrors, the music still playing from the speakers in the bathroom. On the counter, he spotted an abandoned line of cocaine.

A wave of fatigue washed over him.

He moved back to Jungkook who was still smiling confidently, arms crossed now. “He doesn’t look like much but he is a man of his word. He wants you under him, so I’d watch myself if I were you.”

Yoongi tilted his head wondering what to make of that. “I suppose you would know, Jungkook-ssi,” he said.

Jungkook laughed once. “I suppose.” He uncrossed his arms, running a hand through his dark hair. “You know my name but I don’t know yours.”

Yoongi bit his lip, looking at the closed stalls and wondering if anyone was listening. “I’m sure it was in whatever file Ji-Won collected on both Taehyung and I?”

Jungkook shook his head. “Il-Sung was it?” Jungkook mused. “But that’s not your real name.”

Yoongi’s body went rigid, heart slamming against his ribcage. A part of him was ready to bolt there and then, abandon mission and never come back to Midnight, but something about Jungkook made him pause. The young man was looking at him with an all-knowing smile and Yoongi was curious just how much he knew.

“You don’t have to tell me,” he shrugged. “Doesn’t really matter, but I am curious about what you want.”

Yoongi thought about his answer carefully. Jungkook knew things, but how much he knew was still up in the air. It wouldn’t be smart to give anything away. “I just want Taehyung to be safe.”

It wasn’t exactly a lie. He had promised.

Jungkook laughed at that. “How noble.”

“Why don’t you tell me what you want,” Yoongi said. Jungkook had clearly lured him in here for something and Yoongi had never been one for games.

“You’re a cop. I want to know what your game is.”

Shit, Yoongi thought. Did Ji-Won know?

“Don’t worry, Ji-Won doesn’t suspect a thing. Like I said, he wants to fuck you. He’s thinking about how he can pry you away from Taehyung.” He laughed again. “Maybe I should be jealous.”

“H-how—”

“How did I know?” Jungkook asked. “Your eyes. They are careful, always searching for something. It’s like you’re trying to read and memorise everything around you, but you’re also surprised by everything going on in here, which tells me you haven’t seen much action, so not homicide or narcotics.”

Funny, that’s exactly what Yoongi had thought when he had first seen Jungkook.

“Are you a cop?” Yoongi asked.

Jungkook shook his head. “Don’t worry about me.”

“So why am I in here, Jungkook-ssi?” Yoongi asked, feeling himself relax a little. Jungkook wanted something but it wasn’t something that would hurt him or the case.

He shrugged. “I want to help you take that asshole down, so tell me what you need.”

Yoongi took in a sharp breath, palms sweating. He wondered if it would be mistake to trust Jungkook to keep his secret but the boy seemed smart. Yoongi had so many questions but they didn’t have time. Sooner or later, the men outside would grow curious and come in to find Jungkook.

“Pictures,” he said. “I need pictures of any evidence involving the painting, contacts, or anything else illegal. Anything.”

Jungkook gave a stiff nod. “Consider it done.”

Yoongi nodded back, heart still racing. He watched Jungkook for a moment. He didn’t strike Yoongi as a pet who simply wanted out. Maybe Taehyung was right, maybe he was biding his time—waiting to watch Ji-Won fall and take over. Kang Ji-Won had threats coming from every angle and the man was too cocky to see it.

“Thank you,” Yoongi finally said. “I’ll find you.” He turned on his heel to return to the lounge.

“Oh, Yoongi-ssi,” Jungkook called. “You’re right to not trust anyone.”

Yoongi turned back to Jungkook, blood rushing to his brain and fear creeping up. “I didn’t tell you my name.”

Jungkook tilted his head. “Oh,” he said before smiling. “I guess you didn’t.”

Then he slipped past Yoongi and back to the lounge.

 

Yoongi didn’t tell Taehyung about Jungkook. Instead, he sat silently in the taxi, watching the street lamps as they came over his face at regular intervals. When Yoongi had returned to the lounge, dread and fear making him cold, he had found Taehyung and Ji-Won laughing. Taehyung hadn’t accepted the deal, saying he needed to think about it. Ji-Won had told him to take his time and that had been it. When they left midnight, Yoongi had stolen one last glance at Jungkook and he was sitting on the couch, looking sick and dazed as Ji-Won took his chin roughly in his hand. Jungkook hadn’t looked at him and somehow that made Yoongi even more afraid, for him or of him, Yoongi hadn’t decided.

 

Next to him, in the taxi, Taehyung remained just as silent, eyes focused ahead. Something had shifted between them after Midnight and Yoongi didn’t know what. It seemed Taehyung could feel it too. Yoongi laying a hand over Taehyung when the gun came out had made him admit something, something he wasn’t sure he liked. He was still in love with Taehyung.

That love was what was getting him into trouble. Jungkook knowing his name and his previous suspicions that had Nayeon following him around where all starting to add up. Yoongi didn’t want to believe it, for the life of him, he hoped that this time he was wrong. He hoped Hoseok was right and that talking like real adults would clear everything up. When the driver pulled up in front of Taehyung’s house, Yoongi knew it was time to talk. Something ugly was building in him, one word appearing in his head.

Busan.

“Can we talk?” Yoongi asked in the dark street. It was past midnight and the street was quiet. Some dogs barked and stray cats mewled at the moon. Yoongi looked up Taehyung, dark hair in his eyes, the dainty gold rings on his pretty fingers and the multitude of bracelets. Not for the first time he thought of what it could have been like if they met in different circumstances. Who they could have been. Yoongi got the feeling that Taehyung was thinking that too.

“Sure,” he finally said.

Yoongi should have known that this is how they would finally break.

 

They stood in the kitchen, facing each other, two glasses of water between them that seemed more like an ocean. Yoongi had ignored the obvious to fill whatever hole it was that only Taehyung could fill, but this wasn’t just about him. It had never been.

“What happened in Busan?” Yoongi asked.

Taehyung shrugged, not at all bothered by the question.  “I went to the beach a lot,” he murmured. “Hung out with Jiminie. Ate some good food. I think I might have picked up an accent.”

Yoongi rolled his eyes. “You aren’t telling me something, Tae.”

Taehyung looked at him carefully, like he was trying to decide on something then he smiled. “Hyung, what is this about exactly?”

Yoongi let out an uneasy breath. Honesty had never been a difficult thing for him. He usually said what was on his mind, but nothing was ever usual with him and Taehyung. Everything always seemed ten times more difficult. “Have you really forgiven me? Do you honestly trust me?”

“Do you trust me?” Taehyung replied.

Yoongi stayed quiet, watching him. They both knew the answer to that. Taehyung half smiled. “Trust is a difficult thing to give away, isn’t it?”

“Then why are you helping me. What’s in it for you?”

Taehyung tilted his head and shrugged. “I don’t like not being able to go to Paris. I also really want to visit Istanbul so...”

Yoongi wanted to scream, maybe cry, but mostly scream. He was tired and he couldn’t bring himself to fight Taehyung on this. Whatever it was Taehyung was up to, he was going to have to find out by himself.  

“I think…maybe we should stop,” Yoongi whispered. “Let’s just get Ji-Won and move on.” It hurt to say, but at least this time Yoongi got a chance to say goodbye. This time he didn’t have to watch police drag Taehyung out before he got a chance.  

Taehyung looked up at the light on the ceiling. “Maybe you’re right, hyung. Maybe we should just keep this professional.”

Something in Yoongi cracked and collapsed, crashing violently inside him. “What aren’t you telling me?” His voice something like a plea. He was so tired. Everything about the last week had left him exhausted. How had he managed to lose himself so fully in the space of a week. Seven days? He felt stupid and reckless, nothing like himself.

“Remember when we met?” Taehyung said suddenly. His eyes shone under the kitchen lighting and he looked so devastatingly beautiful. Yoongi wished things were different.

“Taehyung…”

He smiled, but it was sad. “Some old guy was talking to you and you looked so annoyed. Your eyes were narrowed into slits and your face was pinched in disgust. I swear if looks could kill. I thought you were so adorable and innocent.” He looked down at his hands. “But God was I so wrong. You are so much more dangerous than you look, hyung. What’s the saying, wolf in sheep’s clothing? You fooled me so well. Even when it was right in front of me, I refused to believe that someone who would get my name tattooed on them would do that.” He breathed. “I was wrong about you, Min Yoongi.”

Everything inside Yoongi was breaking apart. All the emotions he had locked away were spilling and he didn’t know how to stop them. Taehyung had never forgiven him and perhaps this was the first honest thing he had said in a week. Yoongi was almost grateful even though it hurt.

 “I was wrong about you too, Tae.” He breathed. “You’re so much more than what you’ve done.”

Taehyung half-smiled. “I don’t know about all of that.” He bit his lip. “Leopards and that.”

Yoongi shook his head. This was all so wrong. But what had he expected exactly? Hoseok to be right? Taehyung didn’t trust him and he was hiding something. Yoongi knew that by the time he figured it out, it would be too late.

“Don’t worry, hyung,” Taehyung said. “You’ll get Ji-Won. Your friend will be fine and you’ll keep your job.”

Yoongi bit his lip. That’s not all he wanted, but who was he to be selfish?

“Right,” he said. “I guess I’ll go then.”

It took a moment, but Yoongi finally gathered up the courage to walk, not willing to meet Taehyung’s eyes, shame and regret washing over him again and again until he was drowning in it.

Yoongi stepped past Taehyung but before he could get far, Taehyung pulled at his elbow. Yoongi opened his mouth to say something, recognising the glassiness in Taehyung’s eyes. He wanted to say he was sorry, but he couldn’t because Taehyung’s hand was now cupping his cheek and there was pressure against his lips. It was a soft kiss, nothing earth-shattering, just a touch of the lips and the taste of salt from an escaped tear. A bitter goodbye.

But a goodbye at least.

Yoongi broke away first and when he walked out the door, he couldn’t help but think that if this was the right thing to do, then why was he crying?

 

                                                                        


 

 

Yoongi slept Saturday away. On Friday morning he had reported back to his team with updates from Midnight. Begrudgingly he had also briefed the chief, skipping over finer details like Jungkook. By the time Saturday came around, Yoongi was too tired to allow himself to think too much. He took a long bath in the morning and slept the day away, avoiding spending time in his mind. He was looking forward to Sunday dinner when it came round. They got to talk about everything but work and this time Yoongi was determined to follow the rules when Namjoon opened the door to his and Hoseok’s apartment.

“Hyung,” Namjoon said as Yoongi slipped off his shoes and put on his designated slippers. “You’re just in time. Everyone else is here.” Namjoon was beaming a lot more than usual which was already strange. All of them were supposed to be stressed, not bouncing off their feet.

“Everyone?” Yoongi asked as they walked down the passageway.

When they surfaced into the living room, Yoongi realised that everyone was Hoseok’s sister and her dog, Micky Namjoon’s parents and Seokjin. When everyone spotted him they all let out a loud cheer. Namjoon’s mother was first to come and hug him.

“Yoongi, honey, you’re looking so thin and pale. Have you been eating? And your hair! Look at it, it’s so long.” She pulled him into a tight hug and Yoongi smiled against her, smelling her familiar scent of peach and body soap.

“Leave him alone. He’s always been like that.” This was Namjoon’s dad. “Hi Yoongi.” He rose his glass of wine in greeting.

Yoongi gave a slight wave as voices clamoured over each other. Hoseok’s sister greeted him with a small smile and handed Micky over to him. Yoongi was trying to catch his bearings when his eyes met Hoseok’s who simply shrugged and sipped his wine. “I had no idea everyone would be here. It was all Joon’s idea. He insisted on cooking too, which is so odd.”

“Ahh,” Yoongi murmured. “That is odd.”

Hoseok nodded, watching everyone talk in the living room. Seokjin had been roped into a conversation about marriage by Namjoon’s parents and he was trying his best to nod and smile along.

“It’s nice though,” Hoseok said. “I haven’t seen everyone in a while with everything going on.”

Yoongi had to agree. Hoseok’s parents were gone and all he had was his sister who didn’t live in Seoul. This was their little family and despite everything with Taehyung, Yoongi felt himself relax. Sundays always had the ability to cheer him up.

“How are you though? Namjoon told me you went back to that club. Did you get a chance to talk to Taehyung?”

Yoongi looked at Hoseok’s glass of wine and nodded. “I’ll need lots of wine.”

Hoseok grinned and slipped away to fetch him some.

It was almost time for dinner and everyone was in the living room, catching up and trying to dodge marriage questions from the parents. Yoongi stayed in the moment, not letting himself think about Thursday night as the sun set outside.

“Um everyone,” Namjoon suddenly spoke, looking a little nervous.

“Is dinner ready?” Hoseok asked, eyebrow arched. “Why do you look so nervous? Did you burn something?”

Namjoon shook his head, an endeared smile on his lips. “No, that’s not uh—”

“Joonie, babe, are you okay?”

Namjoon let out a nervous laugh. “Yeah, fine. Just-just hush, okay?”

Hoseok looked confused and Yoongi laughed behind his hand. His eyes met Jin’s across him. They both knew what was about to happen. Namjoon had been talking about this for months and now he had finally gathered up the courage. Yoongi should have known as soon as he saw everyone here. Hoseok always said how he wanted the people he loved to be there when someone proposed to him.

Namjoon got on one knee and Hoseok let out a loud gasp, eyes wide and hands flying to his mouth. “Joonie..”

Something tugged at Yoongi’s own heart.

“Hobi. Uh, when I met you, you were going through a difficult time but even then you smiled and laughed loudly and fully. You became my support system and I love you so much for it. I hope you think of me as your support system too.” He laughed. “God, I had a whole speech but um,” he breathed, shaking his head and laughing again. “Will you marry me? Make me the happiest person on earth?”

Hoseok was crying by now, tears soaking his cheeks. Namjoon’s mother sat on the couch, tears spilling from her eyes too. Even Hoseok’s sister was brushing away her own tears, smiling widely.

“Oh Joonie,” Hoseok breathed nodding vigorously. “Of course. Of course. A thousand times yes.”

Everyone in the room clapped when Hoseok launched in Namjoon’s arms and hugged him tight. Warmth spread Yoongi as he watched his friends hug it out, Namjoon’s mom going to join them. He stood too, but just as he did, his phone buzzed in his pocket.

He slipped it out, thinking it was an alarm but when he saw Nayeon’s name with several images attached, his heart sank when he saw the next message.

 

Nayeon: You’re gonna wanna see this.

 

He clicked it open and almost dropped his phone when the first picture appeared.

It was Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook, seated on a park bench. Yoongi continued scrolling and each picture was from a different angle, but it was unmistakably them. Yoongi met Jin’s eyes and handed the phone to him.

“Fuck,” Jin muttered when he saw the first picture.

Yoongi was right all along. Busan was important. Jimin, Taehyung and Jungkook knew each other. They had all been played.

Chapter Text

 

Yoongi had long ago learnt to keep his calm. Endless hours on patrol as a uniform, scouring the dingiest part of the city had taught him not to lose his shit at random moments. However, right now, he was finding it very fucking difficult. When he looked around him, everyone hugged and kissed, congratulating Namjoon and Hoseok on their engagement because, finally, Christ, we thought it would never happen!

Yoongi told himself to breathe. He watched on as a tear escaped Namjoon’s mother’s eye and then his father pulling both Hoseok and his son into a tight hug. From where he stood, he could see Namjoon’s dimples peeking out, and Hoseok’s own flushed face and wet cheeks. His sister was laughing at him and the dog was barking, clearly unhappy about all the commotion. Yoongi told himself to focus on that, let the happiness swell in him and deal with what was on his phone a little later. Even as he did, his heart remained lodged in his throat. The panic inside him insisting on thwarting whatever shred happiness the moment was supposed to bring.

Next to him, Seokjin gave a warning glance, telling him to calm down. Yoongi was trying. He was trying so hard to keep his breathing steady and not grab any attention. Jin seemed fine, like he hadn’t just seen the possibility of their case falling apart on the phone screen. He smiled wide and walked over to the group that was still hugging and laughing. Yoongi knew he had to do the same. He looked down at the phone in his hand, sounds of laughter and happiness somehow melding together into one slowed down echo. Mickey’s bark rang in his ears, the laughter blending, inflating and deflating. Yoongi’s mind whirled. The unmistakable shot of Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook looked back at him, a stabbing example of everything he had allowed to slip by.

Finally, he snapped out of it, slipping the phone into his pocket.

Later, he thought.

The voices separated, and Mickey stopped barking. Yoongi plastered on a smile and went over to his best friends, being swallowed in the bear hugs and tears and conversation. But as they ate dinner, Yoongi smiling and listening to ideas about weddings and themes from Namjoon’s mother, he knew he was outside of the moment, like a lucid dream where you watch yourself talk and smile and laugh. The real Yoongi sat at the table, questions and answers piling up, looking for what he might have missed, the signs and everything in between.

When he thought about it, he knew had taken too much time doubting and regretting everything. It had all been right in front of him, so blatantly obvious that if it was someone else, he might have laughed at them. On his side, his tattoo burned mockingly. Their case against Kang Ji-Won had been airtight and now it was all up in the air. Yoongi’s personal feelings had stopped him from realising which way was up and which way was down. He felt like an idiot and again he thought he should have just let Seokjin take lead on this. He wouldn’t have such a rookie mistake as this.

 

It was only after dinner, once the table had been cleared, the conversation more muted and dishes carefully stowed away in the washer that Jin pulled Yoongi aside. Everyone else sat in the living room, chatting about God knows what. Yoongi knew he had laughed and nodded along, maybe offered commentary but he could barely remember anything they had discussed. Green and white as a wedding theme?

“How did Nayeon get those?” Jin asked, voice low and urgent.

Yoongi thought about how to answer, how they were going to proceed but his mouth just hung slightly open. He wasn’t sure what was hurting him more; Taehyung lying or that he had been too blinded to pick up on the lie sooner. A part of him had hoped Taehyung would prove him wrong and show that he had changed. In a way though, Taehyung had warned him.

You’re going to ruin everything for me. You and that mouth of yours.

Leopards and that.

“I asked her to follow Jungkook,” Yoongi said.

Jin looked confused. “Why would you do that?”

Yoongi swallowed thickly, feeling worse and worse as each second ticked by. In the living room, he heard Mickey bark loudly and then Hoseok’s own yelp and laugh. He so desperately wanted to be in there, being there for his best friends and celebrating, maybe downing a glass of red wine.

Or two.

“Because he knows who I am. He knows I’m a cop. He offered to help me—us.”

“Help?” Jin repeated.

Yoongi nodded. “With intel on Ji-Won. He said he could get me pictures and stuff so I said okay.” He bit his lip nervously. When he said it out loud it sounded dumb as hell. “We probably can’t trust him but I wanted to see where it goes. I don’t think Ji-Won knows anything.”

Jin’s eyes darkened, jaw tensing. “Christ Yoongi…” he breathed out. “What the fuck?”

“I know,” Yoongi said before Jin could continue. “I know. I fucked up. I just thought—” he paused. “I just thought I could handle it.”

Jin ran a hand through his hair, letting out a frustrated sigh. “Right. Okay,” he breathed. “Okay. We need to figure out what these three are up to. I won’t let them fuck this up for us.” He looked over Yoongi’s shoulder to the living room. “They are getting married. We aren’t letting Seok go to jail. I don’t care what it takes.”

Yoongi didn’t either. Not anymore.

If it meant Taehyung going down with Ji-Won—if that’s what the chief really wanted, then so be it.

“I agree,” Yoongi murmured. “Whatever it takes. For Seok.”

Jin looked a little uneasy. “You sure? I need you to mean it, Yoongi.”

Yoongi was sure. Whatever he felt for Taehyung had to be stowed away in a box that he would never open again. This time he wouldn’t allow himself to feel guilty for doing the right thing. Taehyung was playing them and he thought Yoongi would fall for it if he spun enough lies. Yoongi almost had.

“I mean it, hyung. I don’t care about anything else but Seok.”

The words burned on his tongue, ugly feelings mixing with regret and hurt once again. Maybe when this was all over and Namjoon and Hoseok got to live happily ever after, Yoongi would cry it all out. Now he needed to keep going.

Jin nodded. “For Seok.”

 

Monday. 09:00

Yoongi had discovered counting on Jungkook or Taehyung for anything was probably not his finest moment. Strangely though, he was keeping his hopes up for Jungkook. There was something in his eyes that told Yoongi that Jungkook had meant what he said about helping them. If this blew up in his face, Yoongi knew he would have no one else to blame but himself.

Then Taehyung on the other hand. Yoongi still wasn’t sure what his game was or what he stood to gain from all of this. In any case, Taehyung was never going to tell him the truth. He was pulling his hair out in frustration, almost wanting to give up. At his desk, he let out a little laugh at the thought. He had never been much of quitter—due more to stubbornness than actual ambition.

He would figure this out. He had to.

It was almost noon, Seoul wet and miserable, adding onto Yoongi’s own annoyance when he got a call from an unknown number.

“Yoongi-ssi.” It was Jungkook’s voice on the other end and Yoongi’s entire body tensed at his own name. “You’ll receive an envelope in an hour. It has everything you need.” Then the line went dead. Yoongi looked around him, at the precinct with a flurry of people coming in and out, his throat drying up. It wasn’t panic per se that had his heart racing, more surprise. He hadn’t been expecting Jungkook to give him anything, much less so soon given what Yoongi knew now.

Earlier that morning, Nayeon had handed him hard copies of the pictures from the Sunday evening.

“So Kim Taehyung with Ji-Won’s pet,” she said, placing the pictures before him. “Any idea what they are up to?”

Yoongi shook his head, he had been raking his mind all night trying to figure it out. Was it some ploy to get Jungkook out of Ji-Won’s grasp?

Were they planning on stealing the painting themselves?

Anything was possible and that’s what worried Yoongi the most. 

“Want me to keep tailing him?” she asked after a moment.

“No,” Yoongi murmured. “I don’t think we’ll find out any more. Just make sure the team is ready for Saturday evening.”

 

An hour later as instructed, Yoongi sat at his desk in his office, looking at the envelope a messenger had delivered. It was a standard khaki A5, and from its weight, Yoongi figured there was a USB stick in it. Outside the glass doors, the office passed by obliviously, paying him no attention. Yoongi took a deep breath and opened the envelope. The USB was a matte black inconspicuous thing which he hastily plugged into his laptop.

The first thing he saw were pictures.

Hundreds of them.

Pictures of The Maiden, notes, drugs, Midnight and its gambling floor, everything in between. Yoongi scrolled through them, mouth hanging open in shock. It was all here, pictures that would more than get them an arrest warrant. This was all incriminating evidence and Yoongi huffed out a surprised laugh, covering his mouth as he continued to scroll.

What were those three playing at?

What did they know?

How did Jungkook even get these?

His thoughts were cut off abruptly by a knock at the door. Jolting up, he quickly shut his laptop until he realised it was Namjoon and deflated.

“Are you watching porn or something?” Namjoon frowned as he stepped in.

Yoongi couldn’t help the grin that spread across his lips. “Oh yeah, I’m definitely into tentacle shit these days,” he said with a smug smile.

Namjoon was still frowning, clearly not amused by something that would have made him laugh any other time. “Jin-hyung told me about Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook. Also that he knows you’re a cop.” He let out a loud sigh, coming over to sit. “We’re kinda fucked aren’t we?”

Namjoon looked so hopeless, his eyes rimmed red like he had cried. It was exactly what Yoongi had wanted to avoid from the start. Despite Namjoon and Hoseok only being a year younger than him, he had always felt protective of them and what they had. So he opened his laptop again and spun it round to face Namjoon. He looked confused for a moment, brow creased as he scrolled down and then slowly, his eyes went wide.

“Oh my…” he breathed. “Hyung this is …”

Yoongi nodded. He had only managed to open the folder with pictures and even that was enough to put Ji-Won behind bars for some time. The charges might not stick because the man undoubtably had someone in the DA to help him but this was enough for an arrest. It was more than what other departments had ever managed.

“Yeah,” Yoongi said.

Finally Namjoon looked up at him, eyes brighter and glassy. “Where did you get all of this?”

“Jungkook,” Yoongi said. When Namjoon frowned again, he realised he had to explain. “I asked him to get me evidence on Ji-Won.”

Namjoon still looked confused. “Why would he help you?”

Yoongi shrugged. “I thought maybe he was in Narcs or something but he’s clearly tied in with Taehyung and Jimin. I think this might be either a running deal they’ve been working on for a while or Jungkook is trying to get out and Taehyung and Jimin are helping him.”

The latter seemed more plausible. If they all knew each other in Busan then something must have gone wrong for Jungkook to end up in Seoul with someone like Ji-Won. Namjoon thought about it for a second, biting down at the corner of his bottom lip.

“Whatever the reason, this is enough to get Ji-Won twenty years at least.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi agreed. “I don’t know why they are helping me. I can’t figure out what’s in it for them. Yeah, maybe Jungkook goes free but what else?”

Namjoon shrugged. “Ask them. You know everything now. Taehyung can’t lie to you anymore. Ask so that there are no surprises come Saturday.”

“No surprises,” Yoongi repeated.

Namjoon was right.

“Shit,” he breathed out, running a hand through his hair, eyes unfocused. “I can’t believe we might actually pull this off.”

“Yeah,” Yoongi murmured, the excitement of what was on the USB starting to wear off and anxiety about why exactly the three of them were helping him creeping in. “I think we might need to meet Taehyung and Jimin.”

“Figure this out once and for all?”

Yoongi nodded. “Call hyung. I’ll get Nayeon to file in an arrest warrant.”

Namjoon mock saluted, slipping out of his chair and pulling out his phone. Yoongi was already copying the files to his laptop when Namjoon cleared his throat. “Hey hyung?” he said. Yoongi looked up, adrenaline pumping through him. “You did well. You know that right?”

Yoongi doubted that it was true but he smiled anyway, glad that his friend didn’t hate him for putting his fiancé on the line for his misplaced feelings. “We all did.” It was something they had said before and something warm fluttered in Yoongi’s chest. Whatever happened now, at least he had his friends.

 

23:32

They met Taehyung and Jimin in a hole in the wall ramen spot. It was late, nearly midnight and Yoongi couldn’t stop shaking. It wasn’t particularly cold, but the rain that hadn’t ceased falling had somehow settled in his bones. Outside, Seoul went about its late night business, always forgetting to fall asleep. Neon signs shone bright in this neighbourhood, calling pedestrians in to come buy!, see! or touch! Yoongi tapped his foot on the cheap linoleum floors nervously, looking at the two guests that had joined him and Seokjin. Namjoon had chosen to go home to his fiancé. Hoseok knew the truth now and he was apprehensive about his own case. Yoongi couldn’t blame them for wanting to spend as much time as possible together.

Across them sat Jimin and Taehyung. Yoongi might have asked Jungkook to join them too but firstly; he didn’t have a means to reach him and secondly; it probably wasn’t wise to be seen hanging out with Ji-Won’s pet. Jimin, who sat across him, seemed impassive to the entire thing, eyes slightly puffy like he hadn’t slept in a long while. Taehyung though, was smiling, leaning back in his chair. They had been quiet for maybe a minute now, Yoongi wasn’t sure. All he kept thinking of were the pictures Jungkook had sent them and all the questions that were clamouring in his mind.

“As much as I’m enjoying the charged silence,” Jimin began. “Why am I here? I have very little to do with you.” He gestured to both Yoongi and Seokjin. Yoongi licked his bottom lip, looking for the right thing to say without scaring them or pulling up their defences too quick. Seokjin however, did not care. He went straight for the kill. “You know Jeon Jungkook.”

Taehyung’s eyebrow arched, cocky smile still on his face, but  Jimin noticeably recoiled. He clearly wasn’t versed in Taehyung’s art of deflection and deception.

 “Of course we do. We met him together, remember?”

“You know what he means,” Yoongi said thickly. As with every other time, Taehyung made him tired whenever they tried to talk.

Taehyung tilted his head. “I think you might have to elaborate further, Yoongi-ssi.”

Yoongi flinched at the honorific, but he wasn’t going to let it get to him. He had sworn he would make sure Hoseok survived this, whatever it took, allowing himself to be hurt by this wouldn’t do him any good. Next to him, Jin pulled out his phone and placed it on the table. On the screen was the picture of both of them with Jungkook. Jimin bit down on his lip hard.

“This is from last night. You were with him. You both know him personally,” Yoongi said, watching Jimin who seemed a little more panicked now, glancing at Taehyung next to him with his mouth slightly open. Taehyung lost his smile and leaned forward, his gaze on Yoongi hardening.

“And if we do?” he asked.

“Not ‘if’ Taehyung-ssi,” Jin said, voice just as terse. “We want to know how you know him and how this all ties into The Maiden.”

Taehyung’s head cocked to the side like a bird in consideration. Yoongi still wouldn’t stop shivering. It all felt strange, to be with him like this after everything they had done.

Taehyung kissing him senseless…

Yoongi’s eyes traced his features, how sharp they looked in this light and swallowed, biting down his feelings and focusing back on the moment. They needed answers. He needed answers.

There was a long breath of silence between them, a popular music show rerun on the television.

Then…“After Taehyung was arrested, I went back to Busan,” Jimin said quietly. His tired eyes looked up at Yoongi’s. Something in them tugged at Yoongi. Jimin took in a shaky breath and next to him Taehyung noticeably deflated. “I’ve known Jungkook since we were kids. We both grew up in shitty homes, I guess, but I moved to Seoul for school and he stayed. He got into a lot of dangerous shit, but he’s always been smart so he always got out of it or whatever.” Jimin paused, sniffing quietly and rubbing at his eyes. “Anyway, that summer when Taehyung was back, I introduced them. We became friends. It was good for a while. Nice to get away from everything that had happened in Seoul,” he looked at Yoongi pointedly when he said that. Yoongi shifted uncomfortably in his seat. “We were good…”

“Then one morning Jungkook was gone,” Taehyung cut in, voice hard and eyes unreadable.

Jimin let out a shaky breath. “Right. He left me. He came to Seoul, ended up in Ji-Won’s crew and I guess Ji-Won liked what he saw.” Jimin’s entire face was flushed and his eyes filled with tears.

Yoongi realised then that Jimin must have been in love with Jungkook.

His stomach fell.

“Imagine my surprise when I got a call from Ji-Won’s men and realised that this is where Jungkook was,” Taehyung said quietly.

They were all silent for a minute. Some idol music was now playing from a television mounted on the wall and the patrons of the restaurant had begun to thin out, an old woman cleaning tables.

“You’re trying to get him out,” Jin murmured.

Taehyung’s eyes landed on him and once again smiled like something was truly funny. “That amongst other things. That sick bastard deserves to die. The things he’s done—” he stopped himself, laughing once. “Anyway, when you approached me about this case I figured it was the perfect way to take him down and get Jungkook out. Like I said, win-win. It’s why I said yes.”

More pieces clicked into place for Yoongi. For Taehyung and Jimin, this was about rescuing Jungkook. For Seokjin, Yoongi and Namjoon, it was about saving Hoseok. For the chief it was about more power.

And the common enemy was Kang Ji-Won.

The final piece clicked.

Yoongi took a deep breath, eyeing both Taehyung and Jimin. Jimin had shrunk into himself a little and Taehyung just looked annoyed.

“Why didn’t you say anything?” Yoongi asked quietly. “Why didn’t you just tell me from the start?” His voice sounded a little strained, desperate and he hated it. It was another confirmation that Taehyung had never trusted him. Strangely, Yoongi felt used. He knew he had done the same in his own way. There had never been any trust between them.

Taehyung stared back at him, a flicker of hurt flashing past his eyes. “I tend not to trust cops, Yoongi-ssi. With reason.”

It was callous, a deliberate blow meant to hurt Yoongi. He deserved it, but he still opened his mouth to say something. To reach Taehyung somehow. He wanted to say he would fix it but how many promises had he made? How had Yoongi for a second thought he could let Taehyung go down for any of this? Why did he keep saying things he didn’t mean?

“All right,” Jin said too loudly, looking a little weary. “Saturday night is Ji-Won’s event and when we’ll carry out the arrest. You’ll get Jungkook, we get Ji-Won. Nothing messy.”

“And your chief? Doesn’t he want me too?”

Yoongi had almost forgotten about that. Bae Sang-Hee had the man in her pocket and as much as she wanted to see Kang Ji-Won in jail, Taehyung sweetened the deal.

Jin nodded. “He does, but if you disappear he can’t do anything about it.”

“And your friend?” Taehyung continued.

Jin shrugged. “We’ll worry about it,” he murmured. “Just promise that Saturday goes down without a hitch.”

Taehyung was smiling again, looking his usual confident self. “As long as nothing happens to us then we’re fine.”

Yoongi’s eyes fell back on Jimin, still hunched over. Yoongi knew nothing about him. Even if they had met all those years ago, but there was clearly something between him and Jungkook.

Taehyung made brought his hands together like he was about to pray. “Promise.”

This one time, Yoongi had to trust that they were all telling each other the truth. Yoongi left without saying anything else to Taehyung.

 

 

Tuesday. 10:45

Tuesday morning and Yoongi was back in the precinct. There seemed to be a permanent anxiousness residing just under his skin these days. He couldn’t get rid of it or find it in him to simply relax as he usually did. Saturday was approaching and all of this would be finally over. The better part of Yoongi was relieved but he also knew that with the end of Ji-Won came the end of his excuses to see Taehyung.

Whatever that said about him.

The night before had been more than eye-opening. A lot of it was Seokjin, Namjoon and him had guessed before. Jungkook had somehow gotten himself mixed up with the wrong people and had ended up under Ji-Won. If he ever did try to leave, Ji-Won would find him and hurt him. He had probably tried before and failed. Kang Ji-Won seemed like a man to hold a grudge. So, offering Yoongi all that he had uncovered about the man was Jungkook’s best bet at coming out unscathed. With Ji-Won’s arrest came both Jungkook and Hoseok’s freedom. Yoongi didn’t like the idea of so many people depending on them—on him.

Looking at his watch; 10:46, Yoongi took a deep breath and walked to the chief’s office. He was about to roll some dice and gamble Hoseok’s future. He had lay awake the night before weighing his options. There was a chance this would work but Yoongi didn’t know the chief well enough to figure out how he worked exactly. When he knocked on the door, the old man waved him in, shuffling through papers, a paper cup with steaming liquid on his lips.

“Min,” the man grunted in greeting. “I hope you have good news for me.”

Yoongi pinched the inside of his hand, psyching himself up. He was apprehensive. He was pretty much out of options, but he had to at least try. If he was going to save Hoseok and keep his promise to Taehyung then this simply had to work.

“I do, sir,” Yoongi said, “I need something from you first though.” He voice feigned laziness and disinterest. When the chief looked up from his papers curiously, Yoongi took his chance. “I know about your involvement with Bae Sang-Hee, sir.” Yoongi kept his calm tone.

The man was a police officer but his face could not lie. Panic flashed past his eyes before it was quickly replaced by fake confusion. “Is that name supposed to mean something to me, Min?”

Yoongi walked further into the office, taking a seat across the man and smiling sweetly. He was afraid but no one except for him needed to know all of that. “She’s the reason you got suspended from your last department. Yet you’re still working for her, aren’t you?”

 The chief opened his mouth to say something, maybe stop him from talking, but Yoongi pushed on, voice remarkably steady. “And she wants Kang Ji-Won in prison so she can take over his little empire, no?” He paused, watching the man’s nostrils flare and eye twitch. “See, I was a little confused on why you insisted on having Kim Taehyung on this case, but he’s the reason why she lost so much money in your little scandal. So, I suppose your plan was to get Ji-Won and Taehyung at the same time? Two birds, one stone, that typa thing?”

The chief frowned, jaw clenched. Yoongi was almost enjoying this. It felt good watching him look so annoyed. Even if this backfired, at least he had this sight to get him through whatever repercussions came next.

“Now, I don’t suppose the DA would like it if they heard that you’re tied in with this woman—again. Embarrassing them—again. God, imagine another scandal in a Gangnam police department. It’s getting pretty old. The DA covered for you last time and they probably would again but imagine if someone goes to let’s say KBS news with this? Wouldn’t it be such an interesting story to hear that another police chief is corrupt?” Yoongi laughed for good measure. He really was putting on the performance of his life but judging by how stiff the man looked, he was doing well. “God, the internet would tear you apart. You’d even make it on the front page of Naver.” He sat back in his chair, looking at the old man, adrenaline still pumping through him.

“Min…” the chief said, voice hard as steel. “You would really fuck everything up for your friend?”

No, Yoongi wouldn’t, but he was going to bluff until he couldn’t anymore. “If it means seeing men like you finally getting what you deserve then yes.”

The chief was quiet for a while, mind clearing whirling with possibilities. Yoongi wasn’t lying about a scandal and he knew that. Maybe the DA wouldn’t do anything to him but the news would spread like wildfire. It would open countless investigations, ones that would no doubt implicate even more men in the department. Yoongi doubted it was risk the chief was willing to take. A risk higher ups would allow him to take.

“What do you want?” the man finally said.

Yoongi almost sighed in relief, but he kept his cool, still faking his confidence and shrugged. “I want you to make whatever call you need to make to make sure Hoseok walks away from all of this with a clean record.”

The chief bit out a laugh, shaking his head. “Is that all?”

Yoongi smiled. “No,” he said. He wanted to keep all his promises, even the ones that hadn’t been so wise to make. “Kim Taehyung walks too. His record is cleaned.”

That prompted a full on laugh from the chief. His shoulders shook in amusement, but none of it was genuine. Yoongi knew he had the man backed into a corner. “You still get Kang Ji-Won,” he finished. “The arrest warrant is in works.”

“You’re just like me,” the chief laughed. “Do anything to get what you want.”

Yoongi shrugged. He hated the comparison but he wasn’t going to let the man see him sweat. “This is Seoul.”

The chief nodded, conceding. “This is Seoul.” He reached for the his phone on the desk and punched in a number, putting it to his ear as he looked right into Yoongi’s eyes.

Yoongi’s heart felt like it was trying to run from his chest, watching and waiting for something to happen.

“Hello?” the chief said to the person on the end. “That thing we spoke about. Make it go away.”

Then he cut the call.

This time, Yoongi did allow himself to sigh in relief, body sagging as the adrenaline left him. That strange wave of tiredness washed over him again.

“We have a deal, Min,” the chief said. “You won.”

Yoongi pushed out the chair, legs slightly wobbly. “I’m glad we could come to an understanding, sir.” He spun around to the door and began his walk out. He couldn’t believe this had actually worked.

“Oh and Min?” The chief called. Yoongi didn’t turn around but he did stop. “The name Bae Sang-Hee does not leave your mouth again if you know what’s good for you.”

Yoongi didn’t nod, didn’t turn. He understood the threat just fine so he simply smiled and walked out. When he reached his own office, his phone buzzed and it was Namjoon.

“Just got a call from my friend in homicide,” he sounded excited. “Hyung, the charges were dropped.”

Yoongi almost fell to the ground but he kept himself up, relief and happiness washing over him. He wasn’t particularly religious or anything, but the words left his mouth before he could stop them. “Fuck, thank God.”

 

                                                                      


 

Saturday. 23:45

The Maiden was in her full glory, perched in the living room of the famous Kang  Ji-Won’s mansion. Just like the painting, the reception of it was underwhelming. Barely anyone paid it any attention and if they did it was to remark that it must be a fake—the real one was lost ages ago!

But there The Maiden sat, watching on as the party attendees spoke in hushed tones over glasses of expensive champagne and laughed cheerily at old men’s jokes that were not funny at all. Her eyes watched on sadly as women who had been specifically hired to ‘entertain’ guests worked the rooms in barely there black dresses. They smiled, red lips stretching across their lips, eyes hazy, bodies loose from the line of cocaine that was on offer for anyone who wanted in one of the bathrooms. There were famous businessmen, politicians and celebrities, all standing around in one of the themed rooms of the evening.

The Maiden sat in the first room, an opulent parlour with too much gold for its own good. In here, lights cast a dim golden glow, soft music playing from somewhere, a room fit for those who preferred—calmer activities. Old politicians sat and chatted, waiters and waitresses coming over to ply them with enough alcohol to get them talking about their pockets.

In another room, men and women gambled, blackjack and poker tables were set up just like the bottom floor of Midnight. In here, famous actors and musicians made their homes, hoping to make more money than what their respective agencies allowed them in those damn contracts. There was a loud buzz of chatter and laughter in here. Women and men sat on laps and kissed whoever was paying for them tonight. It was indulgent and loud, perfect for the guests in this room.  

In the third room, the lights were dimmed low, the marijuana and cigar laced smoke heavy. Kang Ji-Won sat on a couch, laughing loudly at something. He was noticeably drunk and high. Earlier that evening he had swallowed a few pills to allow him to go all night long. One his side, Jungkook sat obediently in Ji-Won’s lazy hold, waiting, eyes scanning the room and landing on Jimin’s.

Jimin looked away.

On Ji-Won’s other side was another man leaning over his crotch, his head bobbing up and down, humming and groaning as he did so. Around Kang Ji-Won were several of his associates, all laughing at some joke that had been told. The room itself was a lot more risqué. In here no one tried to pretend. It was Midnight incarnate minus the red lights and stripper poles The drugs however were on full display. The candy coloured pills, the white powder and thin vials and Kang Ji-Won was at the centre of it all. Fashioning himself a modern day Gatsby without the heart.

 

Yoongi stood in a white marbled bathroom. There was a large bathtub in the centre, large enough to fit several people. Outside, the tall glass windows, the moon cast a silver glow onto the grounds. It was beautiful, but Yoongi didn’t have time to admire it all.

Across him stood Taehyung, looking all sorts of dangerous, expensive sky blue dress shirt rolled up to his elbows, buttons popped open and hair mussed. He gazed at Yoongi with his impenetrable eyes, arms crossed. Yoongi let out a quiet breath. Any moment now, Seokjin and Namjoon would be walking through the doors with their team. Yoongi could feel the buzz of excitement within him. Finally this would be over. Of course there were mounds of paperwork to do, but Hoseok was off the hook and there was no proverbial noose hanging over him anymore.

He just had to do this one last thing.

“I talked to the chief,” Yoongi began. “Your record is clean. I checked it myself. Nothing will tie you to this or anything else for that matter.” It wasn’t really what Yoongi wanted to say but it seemed like the right thing to start with. Taehyung needed to know he kept his promise, if not for himself, for Yoongi’s own peace of mind. He nodded slowly and looked down at his feet. “Thank you, Yoongi-ssi.”

Something ticked at Yoongi, prompting him to roll his eyes. “Are we really doing this?” His voice was louder than intended and he noticed Taehyung’s eyes widen for a second.

“What exactly do you want from me, hyung? Jungkook got all your evidence for you. Jimin and I worked on the painting. I did everything you asked me to do. What else do you want?”

What did Yoongi want?

He knew the answer. He had a feeling Taehyung knew too but there was too much between them. Too much time. Too many unresolved issues. Yet, what had been too much time was no time at all now. Taehyung would inevitably disappear and that would be it.

“I want us to tell the truth,” Yoongi said finally.

Taehyung cocked an eyebrow, still standing as far away as possible. Outside, Yoongi could hear the party go on. In a way, he was disappointed, barely anyone in here even cared about the painting. They were all here for the drugs, the gambling and the inevitable alliances they could make. Paintings such as The Maiden had long disappeared from everyone’s memory especially in a place like this where memory was mangled by the drugs.

“When I got here, I thought I wanted to apologise,” Yoongi began. “But I’ve already said sorry. S-so maybe I suppose I wanted to say that I loved you too, all those years ago. You weren’t silly to believe I did. I have a tattoo to remind me each day how messed up it all was. I loved you all those years ago, but I still hurt you.” Yoongi took a deep breath. This was it. “I still love you now and that’s the truth. I didn’t want to be in love with you, but when I saw you again for the first time, it all flooded back. I never stopped but I guess I shut it off? Seeing you—being with you brought it all back. I love you, Taehyung. I don’t think I ever stopped.”

In a movie, this would be the scene that fireworks from the cliché party went off in the background. The two lovers would step towards each other and have their epic final kiss.

Nothing about this was epic.

Taehyung was still standing far away from Yoongi and looking less than moved. Yoongi’s heart fell, a lump forming. He hadn’t been expecting anything really, but the confession didn’t make him feel any better or lighter. It just seemed pointless now.

“I meant it when I said you were just doing your job. I wasn’t the most upstanding citizen or whatever.” Taehyung shrugged. He looked down to the ground again. “And I meant it when I said that I still loved you. Even if I had something to gain from this, I wanted to help you.” Taehyung’s voice was quiet now and he wasn’t looking at Yoongi, but Yoongi knew he meant it. That should have made him feel better, but sometimes love just wasn’t enough. Once again, there was too much and too little between them.

“But you’re leaving,” Yoongi said.

Taehyung finally looked up, and his eyes were glassy, filled with tears. “I’m leaving,” Taehyung confirmed.

The admission was what hurt the most. The lump in his throat swelled until it was choking him, the distance making him ache. He looked up at Taehyung pleadingly and he seemed to understand. Suddenly the boy he had loved who was now a man was in front of him, looking just as desperate. In the corner of his eye, Yoongi could see himself and Taehyung in the mirror. He wondered what sort of picture they made; so vulnerable for the first time. The first tear left Taehyung’s eye and Yoongi couldn’t help but reach out and brush it away gently with his thumb. In this light, Taehyung looked softer, almond eyes sad and skin impossibly soft. Yoongi just wanted this moment in silence and raw emotion to last a while but he didn’t know how to make that happen. How did he begin to tell Taehyung everything he felt without drowning them both?

“I love you,” he said instead. He hoped it was enough to heal whatever chasm had formed between them. It wouldn’t bring them together but it would build something, maybe some fragile bridge where they could reach other when needed.

“I love you too, hyung.”

It was a quiet confession in the middle of a storm, a brief moment of relief. They didn’t have time. Yoongi’s head fell into the space of Taehyung’s neck, breathing him in. Taehyung’s arms went around him quickly, hugging him tightly. It was nice like this. It felt good to be held, to finally have everything out there in the open even if it changed nothing. He wanted to say I love you again but the words were stuck.

When he pulled back, eyes looking into Taehyung’s still glossy ones, he felt something shatter so he kissed him hoping that somehow it would hold it all together. But even this soft thing hurt. Even touching him burned. Taehyung watched him for a second when he broke away, the corners of his mouth upturning, before he laid his own gentle kiss on Yoongi.

Yoongi almost asked him not to go.

But that was selfish and Yoongi had been selfish enough so he simply kissed him again. The kiss was deep, lips parting, heavy breathing and biting. Taehyung hoisted Yoongi up, placing him on the edge of bathroom sink counter and kissed him again, smiling against Yoongi’s lips. Yoongi loved the way Taehyung tasted, loved the way he felt under his hands, the taut muscles and soft skin. Taehyung’s mouth moved to his neck and Yoongi wanted so much more but he let himself enjoy this. This intimacy. His head fell back in bliss, Taehyung’s mouth continuing to explore his neck as Yoongi held tightly to his waist and felt and felt.

“You aren’t going to ask me to stay?” Taehyung asked breathlessly between kisses when their lips collided again. Yoongi was in a haze, his hand running through Taehyung’s soft hair. Yoongi smiled against him. “I think you want to leave Seoul. I can’t ask you to stay where you don’t want to be.” He breathed, breaking away from Taehyung and leaning back, drunk on kisses. “We need time.”

It was the truth. The chasm was too large. Perhaps this was a bridge but they needed time.

Taehyung nodded and opened his mouth to speak but before he could say anything, the door swung open and Jimin and Jungkook appeared. Jimin’s cheeks were flushed, but Jungkook looked put together as usual. Their eyes widened when they saw Taehyung slotted between Yoongi’s legs, shirt messily untucked and hair a mess. They didn’t have time though so Jungkook quickly lost the look of surprise. “Time to go, hyung.”

Yoongi noticed Jimin’s hand was encircled by Jungkook’s.

Taehyung looked at Yoongi carefully but Yoongi simply nodded. He understood. Taehyung had done his part. The Maiden sat happily, waiting to be escorted back to her original home in the museum. Yoongi had to let go. Taehyung looked at Yoongi carefully, still slotted between his legs. A hand reached out to push Yoongi’s hair back then he leaned in, lips grazing his ear.

“Ji-Won was going to sell the painting to a Japanese billionaire,” he whispered. “Look behind the painting whenever you can.”

And just like that, Yoongi’s brief moment of happiness slipped away.

Taehyung was gone.

He could have sat there for hours or seconds. Time seemed to be suspended as he sat there, mouth open, pain searing through him. Yoongi would have cried if his phone didn’t ring and Namjoon’s name appeared. “Hyung,” Namjoon said. There was an unsettling silence on his end. “Five minutes.”

Yoongi nodded once. “Right.”

He cut the call and made his way out the bathroom, dodging the oblivious guests. He ran to the parlour where The Maiden sat. Jimin and Taehyung had done a great job, Yoongi thought. The lines were precise, the once dull reds now bright and new. His eyes scanned the room. No one was really watching him so he made his way to the painting, discreetly reaching behind it for something. His hand landed on what felt like paper and when he pulled it off, he saw the small white envelope. Before he could open it, someone in the room popped open champagne and there was a loud clap and laughing.

Then Yoongi heard it, the unmistakable sound of a door flying open and then, “Get on the ground! Everyone on the ground now!” There were loud shrieks in the parlour where Yoongi stood. People ducked their heads and took cover as police offers poured into the room.

 

From there it was a blur. Yoongi doesn’t quite remember everything. He kept the white envelope clutched in his hand as he watched the commotion. Shots were fired by Ji-Won’s men outside and inside. A chandelier fell somewhere with a loud crash. Yoongi could hear Kang Ji-Won’s voice booming through the house, demanding what the hell was going on. Politicians and celebrities alike ran as fast as they could before anyone identified them. The poker tables were abandoned, the women in black dresses and stained lips escorted out of the house to give their statements. Sirens sounded from each corner and in a few minutes, Ji-Won’s home was completely abandoned. All that was left was the man, his cronies and The Maiden watching on in dismay.

All Yoongi could properly remember was Ji-Won looking at him, grinning wickedly. “I’m going to fucking kill you, pretty. Don’t doubt that. I’m going to make sure you and that fucking idiot Taehyung die miserable deaths.” He said it so calmly, eyes dark with hate that Yoongi almost believed him. He had had many people threaten him in his day but something about this made his skin crawl. If Ji-Won somehow survived the mountain of evidence against him then he would come after Yoongi. Men like him held grudges forever.

 

Notorious club owner and businessman Kang Ji-Won was reportedly arrested in the early hours of this morning at his mansion in Seoul. Reports say that various narcotics were found at the sight and most surprisingly, a Korean artefact—The Maiden. It is unclear as of now how the prosecution will proceed, but they have stated that the there will be justice …”

-KBS News.

 

Yoongi was stuck in interviews and interrogations all evening and morning. Neither him, Seokjin or Namjoon managed to go home. The charges against Ji-Won and his men kept piling up and there were lots of people to interview. Yoongi forgot about the letter in his back pocket, only functioning on black coffee. The chief took charge once they were all back in the precinct and whilst he was receiving all the glory, Yoongi couldn’t care less. He was just relieved mostly.

When they asked about Taehyung, Yoongi simply shrugged and said he didn’t know because he didn’t. Taehyung was free and gone. No one really pushed him further. At the end of the day they had one of the most corrupt businessmen in custody and whilst they had retrieved the painting, the drugs and prostitution were what was most interesting. It was funny in a way, this had all been about a painting but no one seemed to care about it at all.

Yoongi finally left the office with Seokjin at ten in the morning. Jin drove quietly, eye bags heavy and fuzzy at the edges. He was tired. They all were.

“You okay?” Yoongi asked. Seokjin had led the team and when one of Ji-Won’s guards had shot at them, Jin put a bullet through his head. That was his first kill. Seokjin had always managed to diffuse situations before anything happened, but this time it happened too quick.

His friend nodded. “I don’t know why but it hasn’t sunk in yet. I can’t find it in me to feel bad.” He paused. “Maybe it will come.”

Yoongi shrugged, leaning back in his seat. “Maybe it won’t.”

“Yeah, maybe it won’t.”

They fell into another comfortable quiet, both too tired to think too much. Yoongi just wanted to get home.

“What about Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook?” Seokjin asked when they were almost at Yoongi’s apartment.

Something tugged at Yoongi’s heart, but he simply shrugged. “Gone,” he whispered. “I don’t know where.”

“Yoongi…”

“Don’t say you’re sorry, hyung. It’ll be weird.”

Jin let out a half-hearted laugh. “Will you be okay?”

They were pulling up in front of Yoongi’s building now. “Yeah, I’ll be fine. Will you?”

Jin was quiet for a moment. “I’ll call you when I start feeling bad.”

“Okay,” Yoongi nodded. “See you later, hyung.”

“Yeah.”

 

When Yoongi opened his apartment, he half-hoped that he’d see Taehyung there, grinning widely and telling him he decided to stay. It was a childish dream but he couldn’t help it. It was only after he had shucked off his shoes and taken off his jacket that he remembered the white envelope. When he pulled it out and opened, a white paper fell out.

 

Hyung

You were right. This wasn’t just about saving Jungkook. I had been planning all of this for a while now. You, Jungkook, everything else was just a coincidence. Fate maybe if you believe in that. I wish I could have told you this sooner but something tells me you would have stopped me.

The real painting is long gone by now. I sold it to Ji-Won’s original buyer and left him with a fake which Jimin and I had been working on for a while. You might have guessed this, you might have not. I’m sorry for lying, hyung or at least not telling the full truth, but maybe this is just who I am. Leopards and spots, right?

Below you’ll find a number for a NongHyup bank account and all the details. I hope you like my gift.

I suppose you should also know that I don’t regret our tattoos. I think the initials MYG are one of the only real things in my life. I love you, Min Yoongi, I never stopped.

-Tae

 

When Yoongi reached the end of the letter, he crumpled to the hallway floor, finally allowing himself to cry. Taehyung was gone and his heart was breaking all over again. He wondered whether this time he would heal and let go. Either way, the least he could do for now was allow himself a good cry and maybe a long bath. At least it was all over.

 


 

SIX MONTHS LATER

Sunday. 21:45

News of Kang Ji-Won’s arrest lasted for weeks. It was all anyone could talk about, whether you walked into a pharmacy, a restaurant or your gym. Naturally, his arrest had resulted in a domino effect. Several names including politicians had been implicated in his illegal businesses. It was funny that this had all started because of a painting no one cared to remember. Ji-Won had been charged with theft and had officially been jailed for five years. The case had moved rather quickly, but Yoongi chose not to ask any questions. The investigations into his businesses and several murder cases were still open and the DA was fighting with everything they had to increase his sentence. It was out of the white collar department’s hands now. They had done their part after all.

 

It was Sunday night, Yoongi driving home from the usual dinner with his friends. This time, Hoseok’s sister and Nayeon had joined them. Hoseok’s case had been dropped, their wedding was scheduled for late summer and Seokjin was probably dating someone (this was still unconfirmed). Yoongi knew he was supposed to be happy and for the most part, he really was. Their chief earned a promotion and moved departments a few weeks ago and rumour had it Seokjin was guaranteed to get the job. Namjoon and Hoseok were getting married in the summer. It was good.

There was just the little factor that he was the only one who knew that The Maiden which had been returned to the National Museum was a fake. He didn’t doubt that whichever museum curator had received it also knew this, but no one had said anything. He supposed they would rather have a fake and pass it off as real than another national scandal. There had already been enough scandals as it was.

Every time he thought about it, he laughed to himself. Of course Taehyung had stolen the painting and sold it off. It was what he was good at and a part of Yoongi couldn’t really fault him for it. More than anything, he wondered how Taehyung had pulled it off. He hoped to hear the story one day.

Yoongi had only garnered up the courage to check the bank account number Taehyung left behind two months after Ji-Won’s arrest. Taehyung leaving hadn’t broken him in the way he thought it would. He knew it had hurt a lot more three years ago. Maybe it was because this time around, they had the chance to say good bye. This time no one had betrayed the other. Yoongi knew Taehyung loved him and most importantly Taehyung knew Yoongi loved him. What they had wasn’t a lie and that was enough to keep him going.

The NongHyup bank account was listed under Min Yoongi. It had all his details even though Yoongi did not have an account with them. He said none of this to the lady behind the desk though. She had looked at him curiously for a moment, then at the monitor before her, then at Yoongi again.

“Sir,” she began. “You said you didn’t know how much was in your account?”

Yoongi nodded. He had no idea what to expect.

“Okay,” she said wearily and took in a breath, spinning the monitor around for Yoongi to see the numbers. His eyes flew open. Those were a lot of zeros.

I hope you like my gift.

Yoongi swallowed and looked up at the woman. She smiled. “Would you like to make a withdrawal?”

 

It was cold outside. Winter had decided to extend its stay and Yoongi walked up to his apartment, hugging his coat tightly to his body and ready for bed. Tomorrow they would find out who their new chief was, even though Seokjin was pretty much confirmed for the job. When Yoongi pulled out his keys, walking down the hall to his door, he stopped dead in his tracks when he saw him.

Kim Taehyung sat on the floor, looking down, hair covering his eyes. For a second, Yoongi thought he was dreaming. He didn’t remember falling asleep though…

Just as he opened his mouth, Taehyung looked up, grinning wide like this was the most normal thing. “Hi hyung.” He gave Yoongi a wave. “Miss me?”

They finally had time.

 

 

 

[ My Twitter ] 

 

Chapter Text

 

EPILOGUE

 

 

 “Where do we begin?” Taehyung asked quietly, a steaming up of green tea in his hands. Yoongi had changed into his sweats and now he sat on the couch, Taehyung on the other end. He couldn’t help but think how bizarre this was. It was the first time Taehyung was in his space and in such strange circumstances too. How did he even know where Yoongi lived? There were millions of things Taehyung had never told Yoongi and things Yoongi hadn’t told Taehyung. He knew though, that if they both wanted this work then they had to say it, even if it was difficult.

Yoongi had texted his friends just in case. Hoseok was currently instructing him on all things to do and not do in their group chat but he was not going to check and entertain them. Yoongi looked around his living room as if it would offer some sort of answer or prompt for them. The T.V was off and the only sound came from the city below and the fridge in the kitchen.

He wasn’t sure how to answer. He looked to the blank screen of the T.V again. They had never been conventional. Their first shot at a relationship had been marred with lies and betrayal, as dramatic as that sounded. Their second shot had been a sex fuelled emotionally constipated mess. So where did they begin?

“I don’t know,” Yoongi breathed. He looked up at Taehyung. He was visibly tired, dark circles under his eyes like he hadn’t slept in days. Travelling maybe?

“Where were you?”

Taehyung smiled, the skin around his eyes crinkling. “Many places. Jiminie and Jungkook wanted to visit New York so we were there for a while. Then Paris and oh! I finally went to Istanbul. I think you’d like the architecture there. Other places.” He shrugged.

“Why are you back?” Yoongi had to remind himself this wasn’t an interrogation but he couldn’t help it. He had a world of questions.

Taehyung was quiet for a while, watching Yoongi like he was trying to figure out which answer Yoongi wanted to hear. “Really missed the jjajangmyeon.”

“Tae,” Yoongi sighed out.

Taehyung bit his lip, shaking his head to fight the smile appearing on his lips. “I’m sorry. Habit.” He placed his cup on the table. “I just wanted to come back home. Everything seems to have blown over now. I don’t think Ji-Won will be looking for me or Jungkook for a while.”

This was true. At the end of day, Kang Ji-Won would be gone for a while and no one had dared ask about The Maiden or Taehyung for that matter. Taehyung was in the clear.

“The painting is…” Yoongi began, not quite sure how to continue that sentence.

“Is a replica. Yeah,” Taehyung said. His eyes shone under the lights, meeting Yoongi’s gaze. “Does it bother you that I sold the real one?”

It should, Yoongi thought. He was a cop and Taehyung illegally selling off a stolen national treasure to goodness knows who was probably a red flag for any blooming relationship. But in all honesty, Yoongi had never been fond of the painting and the fact that no one had picked up on it yet made it easier to ignore.

“It should,” Yoongi answered honestly.

“But it doesn’t.” Taehyung offered.

The admission felt like defeat so Yoongi chose not to say anything. “The money?” he asked instead.

Taehyung let out a laugh, amused by something. “It’s what Ji-Won paid me for the painting.”

Yoongi should have guessed. The wire transfer had been from a name Yoongi didn’t recognise. Now that he thought about it, it was probably one of Ji-Won’s shell companies. Yoongi had chosen not to touch it. He didn’t think he deserved the money, he didn’t even want to think about how Kang Ji-Won had gotten it, who he might have hurt for it. As much as he was willing to look over Taehyung’s past, the money was where he drew the line.

If Hoseok could hear him, he would have rolled his eyes.

“Okay,” Yoongi finally said. “So why are you here.”

He thought Taehyung might deflect again, say something like “Seoul? Korea?” but Taehyung looked a little pensive, lips pursing as he fiddled with his sleeves. The bags under his eyes and the look on his face made him look nervous. Yoongi wasn’t used to a nervous Taehyung.

“You said we needed time. Six months was enough time for me.”

Six months was enough time for me… Yoongi mulled the words over, feeling a little breathless. Was it enough for him? A part of him hadn’t even expected Taehyung to come back. Now he was here, looking back at him expectantly. Nervous and more reserved than Yoongi had ever seen him. In the grand scheme of things, six months wasn’t a long time.

 Despite that, he missed Taehyung. He had been missing him for years.

“We’ve never actually dated properly, you know?” Yoongi said, cheeks flushing, now nervous too with the way Taehyung was beaming at him like he was the best thing in the world

“We could always try,” he said sitting up. He bit his lip, thinking about something. “Yoongi hyung, would you please go on a date with me?”

Yoongi tried hard to fight his smile, nodding once. “Only if you pay.”

Taehyung laughed, loudly this time, deep, rich and genuine. “Aren’t you older than me?”

He had a point.

 

                                                                        


 

On their first date, they went for breakfast and downed too many mimosas. Yoongi thought it might be a little awkward. They hadn’t seen each other since Monday morning when Taehyung had left to go ‘sort out his life’. It wasn’t awkward and Yoongi thought again how easy it was to fall into Taehyung. It didn’t really matter who you were. There was something so gravitating about him. Maybe it was the friendly grin or the way he seemed so composed all the time. Whatever it was, Yoongi thought he had a lot of time to figure it out.

 

Their second date was the first cherry blossom festival in Seoul. There were tonnes of people, tourists from all over the place, a slight chill in the air but Yoongi didn’t mind. As they walked down the avenue of blossoms, the air fragrant and kids screaming, Yoongi reached out his hand and held Taehyung’s tightly.

“You know they say if you walk down this avenue holding your date’s hand, you two will last forever,” Taehyung murmured next to Yoongi.

“Better let go then,” Yoongi laughed, trying to pull his hand away but Taehyung held on tighter, laughing along with him.

When they reached the end of the avenue, they took a walk down the Hangang river, watching families with their dogs and kids stuffing their faces with candy floss.

“I want a dog,” Taehyung said.

Yoongi looked up at him. “So get one.”

Taehyung shook his head, looking back at him just as pointedly, eyes gleaming. “No, hyung. I mean I want a dog with you.”

Sometimes Taehyung said things that Yoongi didn’t know how to reply to. “I don’t really know how all of this works but I think we only start talking about adopting pets on like the fifth date at least,” Yoongi said, fighting the smile on his lips.

“Sounds reasonable,” Taehyung murmured. “Do we get to kiss on the second date?”

Yoongi shrugged, feigning nonchalance. “I think I read somewhere that you could kiss on the second date. I don’t kn—”

Taehyung kissed him.

Right there on the gravelly path, the river flowing past them, and kids laughing and screaming, Yoongi realised that falling in love with Taehyung again was a good thing.

 

They didn’t make it to their third date. Yoongi drove to Taehyung’s house, dressed sharply in a lilac coloured dress shirt and his hair neater than usual. Tonight was a fancy dinner at an expensive restaurant because Taehyung insisted they had to go to at least one fancy restaurant because those were the rules. Yoongi wasn’t about to deny Taehyung of his whims. In the past weeks, he had allowed himself to fall unabashedly into whatever it was they were doing. He wasn’t scared and there was nothing hanging over them anymore. Freedom was sweeter than he once realised.

When Taehyung answered his door, Yoongi was met by a shock of blue hair, transporting him back to the Taehyung of years ago. He also wasn’t wearing a shirt which presented a bigger problem for Yoongi than he thought it would. They hadn’t slept together since Taehyung had suddenly appeared at his door. In fact, Taehyung was the last person Yoongi had slept with and seeing him like this; hair messy and shirtless, Yoongi was forgetting how to breathe.

“Sorry, hyung,” Taehyung said, moving aside to let Yoongi in. “Running late. Mind waiting?”

Yoongi was still eyeing Taehyung’s bare torso, the pretty lines and curves leading down to his perfect stomach and then the paints that hung low on his hips.  “Hyung?” Taehyung tried again, eyebrows raised in question.

“Oh,” Yoongi said, looking up. “What?”

Taehyung huffed out a laugh and rolled his eyes a little. “Am I distracting?” His voice had taken on a new tone. A tone Yoongi had grown unfamiliar with but a tone he recognised nonetheless. He knew he was in trouble when Taehyung licked his bottom lip.

“Not really,” he mumbled anyway, shrugging. “Go finish getting dressed. We’ll be late.” It was a valiant effort at putting up a fight.

Taehyung tilted his head and took a step closer to Yoongi. He noted that they were still standing in the hallway, but he made no move to change that. Taehyung grabbed the end of Yoongi’s sleeve, pulling him flush against him. Yoongi fought the urge to touch his bare chest.

“Taehyung, we need to go. This was your idea anyway,” Yoongi murmured quietly.

It was more a pride thing now. He did not care about dinner at all. Taehyung lifted Yoongi’s chin with his index finger. “A kiss hello?” Taehyung breathed.

Yoongi stayed put so Taehyung leaned in and kissed him. He didn’t tease, opening Yoongi’s mouth with his tongue and stealing Yoongi’s breath. Yoongi didn’t waste time, running his hands down Taehyung’s bare chest and down his back, pulling them closer if that was even possible.

A quiet moan escaped Yoongi’s throat, which only seemed to encourage Taehyung. His back suddenly met the wall, Taehyung pushing against him and groaning against Yoongi when his kisses trailed down his throat. Yoongi liked the sound, moving his mouth to pepper kisses along Taehyung’s sharp jaw.

“Don’t we have to go, hyung?” Taehyung mocked.

“Shut up,” Yoongi bit out, moving back to Taehyung’s lips. He could feel Taehyung getting hard when he pushed up against him. It was all a little frustrating, Yoongi just wanted their clothes off. Taehyung broke away first after a few moments, his lips bruised pink and eyes gleaming. He had that playful look in his eyes, like somehow he had planned all of this and he had gotten his way. Yoongi wouldn’t have been surprised if that was the case.

“Come,” his voice was raspy from the kissing and led them up to Taehyung’s room.

Yoongi didn’t have much time to align his thoughts before his shirt was off and he was on his back, looking up at Taehyung, who was smiling, arms caging him. Taehyung’s lips met his chest, biting and teasing, marking him. Yoongi could feel Taehyung’s smile on his skin and it drove him crazy. “You know you have to make a reservation a month before at that restaurant, right?” Yoongi asked, voice a little strained and breathless.

Taehyung paused, looking at him with a slight smile. “Maybe I’d feel bad if you didn’t want this too.”

He had a point.

“Fuck off,” Yoongi bit out, but launched up to kiss Taehyung again. Taehyung unbuttoned his pants, tugging them off in a smooth enough motion.  

Yoongi didn’t stop kissing him, catching Taehyung’s bottom lip between his teeth and biting just a little. “I missed this,” Yoongi said breathlessly. Their kisses had slowed down and Yoongi liked it like this. He wanted to take his time relearning Taehyung. His fingers traced Taehyung’s broad shoulders and tan skin which he wanted to kiss every inch of looked so good under the dim lights. Yoongi did just that, kissing Taehyung, sucking at spots of skin, a wild desire to mark up his territory.

Taehyung looked down at him, eyes filled with wonder. “Missed you so much, hyung,” he said quietly. “Don’t wanna leave again.”

The honesty in Taehyung’s voice made Yoongi paused, reaching to put his hand on Taehyung’s cheek. “You don’t have to,” he whispered.

Taehyung bit his lip, eyes scanning Yoongi’s almost naked body. Yoongi was aching for him, desperate to be touched.

“Can I?” Taehyung asked, fingers slipping past the waistband of Yoongi’s boxers.

Yoongi nodded. A hundred times yes.

They didn’t make it to their third date.

Nor their second attempt at a third date.

 

Jimin and Jungkook became somewhat permanent fixtures in Yoongi’s life. In the short amount of time he had spent with them, he realised Park Jimin wasn’t so bad. Him and Jungkook had a way of moving together that Yoongi didn’t quite get. They looked at each other at random intervals and burst out in laughter. Jungkook was still a closed book. He didn’t talk about his time with Ji-Won, not that any of them ever tried to bring it up. Taehyung though, had managed to fill in the blank spots for Yoongi.

Jungkook had started out as a dealer in Midnight. He worked the first floor, selling drugs t

“No whoever wanted them. Kang Ji-Won picked him out and decided he wanted him. Yoongi had no doubt that people didn’t have a choice when it came to Ji-Won so Jungkook said yes even if it meant belonging to a man like him.

Yoongi thought maybe he should feel sorry for him, one afternoon when they sat outside on the terrace, mid-summer heat making them unproductive, Yoongi still a little weary of both Jungkook and Jimin,  Jungkook turned to him and said, “We’ve all seen some shit, hyung. Jimin-hyung treats me like I might break—please don’t do that.” He paused for a second, like he was looking for the words. “I never got to say thank you. Maybe I could have run away but he’d still be out there looking for me. Thank you for getting me out.”

His voice had an underlying sadness to it, like thinking about it was particularly hard. Yoongi didn’t want to imagine everything Jungkook had seen or done. Kang Ji-Won was fucked up. He was glad Jungkook was far away from him.

“It’s okay,” Yoongi said and before he could continue, Taehyung and Jimin joined them with Jimin falling into Jungkook’s lap and placing a soft kiss on his boyfriend’s lips.

Taehyung eyed Yoongi expectantly. “Don’t you dare.”

Taehyung sat in his lap anyway.

 

It was easy after that and eight months later, December again and Yoongi was moving into Taehyung’s place. It was way too fast according to Namjoon and about time according to Hoseok, who had been happily married in a small ceremony and then a pretty extravagant honeymoon that spanned three countries.

Seokjin, Yoongi’s new boss and permanent terror, made a face when Yoongi told him but chose not to comment any further. He was the most sceptical about Taehyung and Yoongi didn’t blame him.

Despite early reservations from Jin, by the time it was December, Taehyung, Jimin and Jungkook had joined in on Sunday dinners. It worked. Yoongi couldn’t believe just how happy he was—just how happy everyone was. At times it felt like a dream but then Taehyung would wake up in his arms, shocking blue hair all over the place, eyes wide and innocent and he’d realise that none of it was a dream.

Happiness looked good on all of them.

 

December the 4th and Yoongi was lying next to Taehyung in bed. It was Seokjin’s birthday and somehow Hoseok had convinced both of them to throw a surprise party for him. “This is such a bad idea,” Yoongi muttered, nuzzled into Taehyung’s chest.

He heard Taehyung laugh above him. “Who knows? Maybe hyung will be really surprised and appreciate the whole thing.”

Yoongi shook his head. “Nope, I know hyung. He probably already knows.”

“We’ve kept it pretty under wraps,” Taehyung offered. “Hoseok-hyung wasn’t even allowed to talk to him.”

Yoongi shook his head again. “I have a running theory that Jin-hyung is omnipotent. He knows everything and sees everything. He just hasn’t let us know that he’s divine or some shit.”

“Are you sure you don’t have a crush on him?” Taehyung laughed.

Yoongi looked up, scrunching his face in disgust and Taehyung kissed his forehead where the lines creased into a frown.

“It might be kinda hot to have him join us.”

Yoongi cringed, shoving Taehyung. “Stop talking. That’s so messed up.”

Taehyung was already folded into himself, laughing loudly which was enough motivation for Yoongi to get up and get ready. They sometimes spent hours lying in bed like that talking. It seemed Yoongi found it easier to talk lying horizontal on a bed. There was still a lot to work through, like Taehyung’s choice in careers and the stickling point of Yoongi being a cop—albeit white collar. Also the fact that Taehyung was adamant about the dog.

As Yoongi brushed his teeth in the bathroom, Taehyung came up behind him and placed a gentle kiss on the nape on his neck. “I was joking by the way. Only have eyes for you, hyung.”

When Yoongi looked at him through the mirror, mouth full of toothpaste, his mouth twitched.

First, Taehyung was pretty.

It hit Yoongi every now and then that his boyfriend was stunning.

Secondly, Taehyung loved him.

It confused him a little sometimes that they had managed to get through everything, hours and hours of talking it out. Actually talking. But Taehyung loved him and he loved Taehyung.

Third, whatever happened now, at least they had each other.

More than anything, this was the most important thing to remember.

 

Their house was filled with people by six p.m., the lights turned off and everyone fighting the giggles that were escaping the mouths. Taehyung and Yoongi made their way to the front door because according to the camera, Jin was just outside the gate. When the doorbell rang, Taehyung grinned at Yoongi with an enthusiastic thumbs up and somewhere in the living room they heard Hoseok tell everyone to shut up.

Yoongi swung open the door. “Happy birthday, hyung!” He mustered up some enthusiasm.

Jin didn’t return the smile. His cheeks were flushed and he was breathing heavily like he had been running. “Yoongi, we need to talk.”

Yoongi looked at Taehyung then at Jin again, head prickling with dread.

“What’s wrong? You okay?”

Jin shook his head, moving inside and pulling off his shoes.

“Hyung, you’re scaring me.”

Jin said nothing for a second, running his a hand through his hair. He let out a loud breath then, “Kang Ji-Won was released from prison this afternoon.” He said it so quickly, Yoongi thought he might have misheard.

“Hyung, stop!” Taehyung cried feebly but Jin was already walking into the living room and in the next second, everyone was screaming, “SURPRISE!”