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The handcuffs were cold where they dug into Wooyoung’s skin slightly. 

The air in the prison was cold too. So were the chairs. And the skin of the people who shoved him into another cold room and made him sit an equally cold chair. 

God, what he wouldn’t give for a hot coffee. 

“You guys got any hot chocolate?” Wooyoung called, staring at the two-way mirror on the other wall. He leaned forward, hands caught in the cuffs and an empty table before him. “I’m freezing my buns off- I don’t think a guy with his buns frozen off is going to feel very much like talking!” 

He was met with an expected silence, and he huffed, leaning back in the chair and tilting his head back to stare at the white ceiling. 

“And get some color in here, for God’s sake,” He called without moving. “I feel like I’m in a prison.” 

A door opened quietly. 

“Well, we’d hate to mislead people.” 

Wooyoung lifted his head, grinning at Police Chief Lee who entered, a steaming cup of watery coffee in one hand and a thick file in the other. He was an older man, but still young enough to have more color than grey in his hair. 

“Is that for me?” he asked, beaming and sitting up straight as the police chief took a seat in front of him. 

The man’s expression was unimpressed and unamused. His eyes were hard as flint and his lips set in a permanent scowl that made it seem like he’s just smelled a big pile of shit. 

He took a sip from the cup himself, pointedly. “You think you’ll be doing much drinking with your hands all tied up like that?” Lee questioned, voice stiff and angry. 

Wooyoung shifted his arms, the handcuffs clinking against the metal chair. “Well, I had assumed you would be courteous enough to take them off. I mean- we’re locked in a little metal room. You’re armed-” he nodded to the man’s gun at his hip. “And I’ve got nothing but these cuffs. Surely, you can really find me a threat?” He blinked innocently.

“All of Ateez is a threat,” the chief spat, sitting the coffee down harshly. “I don’t doubt that you’re just as deadly without a weapon.” 

Wooyoung leaned forward, grinning with pure excitement. “You mean you don’t know if I am?” he said, lips curling in triumph. Lee’s eyes darkened with anger. Wooyoung laughed, leaning back in his chair. “Which I take to mean that your info raids were a bust.” 

Lee leaned forward, hands folded as they rested on the table. “You told the guards that you wanted to talk,” he said, voice low and dark as steely eyes scanned over Wooyoung. “Why all of a sudden?” he demanded lowly. “We spent the better part of these two months trying to get you to talk, and now you suddenly gained a conscience?” 

Wooyoung was silent for a moment. “My leg is fine, by the way,” he said, sticking out his left leg and twisting it to show its movement. 

“I didn’t ask.” 

“You should have,” Wooyoung said. “It’s only polite.” 

“Better that your leg would have needed to be amputated,” Lee said without mercy. 

“Yeosang gave it to me.” If Wooyoung could roll his pants’ leg up just a little, you’d see the angry, twisted skin and scar. Wooyoung’s expression darkened- the laughter and banter slipping off like water running off of oil. 

Lee sat back in his chair, eyes narrowing at the sudden change in expression, his shoulders tense. 

Wooyoung leaned forward until his chest hit the edge of the table, expression turning murderous. 

“I’ve spent the last two months stuck in a solitary confinement cell,” he growled, fists curling through the handcuffs. “I’ve had a lot of time to think. And the last thing I gained was a conscience.” 

Lee peered down at him, placing a hand on the file on the table. “And what, exactly, did you think about?” 

Revenge ,” Wooyoung spat, lips curling in disgust, eyes holding such utter hatred, Lee cocked an eyebrow. Wooyoung sat back in the chair, lowering his eyes to stare at the plain white of his prison garb. “Yeosang betrayed me,” he snarled, looking up at Lee. “And now I’ve come to realize that I don’t quite care what happens to me or him. I just want him in here rotting with me.” 

Lee’s brows went up as he leaned forward, intrigued. “Your team betrayed you?” he questioned slowly. 

“How do you think you ever caught me?” Wooyoung spat, scoffing. “You think I suddenly made a rookie mistake?” he demanded. “ No . Yeosang was supposed to have my back- but he didn’t . He threw me to the fucking dogs .” 

Lee folded his hands, looking as if he were back in control of the situation. There was something satisfied in his eyes. “So you’ll talk?” he asked expectantly. “You’ll give us information of where Ateez is hiding out and their plans?”

Wooyoung huffed, shaking his head. “Yeosang and I were on our own mission. I haven’t spoken to Ateez for months- they’ve already moved on at this point. I can’t tell you shit about their plans- I’ve been stuck in here .” He jerked his head around the tiny room. “But,” he said sharply. “Yeosang has never changed a single habit in over a fucking decade . I can get you him. He can get you the rest of Ateez.” 

Woooyoung saw Lee consider it. The tilt back and forth of his head, the indecision in his eyes. 

“What do you want in return?” Lee questioned carefully. “In exchange for the information?” 

“Only one thing,” Wooyoung snarled, nails digging into his skin where his fists formed. “You let me be there when you take the fucker in.” He leaned forward. “I want Yeosang to fucking know who it was that turned him in- I want him to understand what happens when he stabs a partner in the back.” 

Lee scoffed, shaking his head sharply, as if Wooyoung were an amusing puppy chasing its tail. “Cute,” he said, standing and snatching the file. “But no one here is insane enough to actually bring you along on a bust,” he chuckled mockingly. “I understand that we haven’t caught your little group yet, but none of us are stupid here.” He straightened. “You’ll be staying right here for the next three life sentences you still have to serve.” 

Wooyoung stood abruptly, his chair scraping as Lee jerked towards him, hand resting at the gun on his side as Wooyoung glared at him. 

“Where else are you going to get information?” he demanded. “Another false lead? Another desperate attempt at an info bust?” A sick smile curled on his lips. “You need me, Lee. You’re not getting shit, unless I talk.” 

He saw the way Lee’s expression locked down, turning to stone. Saw the way his fist clenched and his eyes became defensive. Saw the moment he had already won. 

“And the only way I’m saying shit to you,” Wooyoug hissed, glaring. “Is if you take me with you… and let me watch every second of Yeosang being torn the fuck apart. I’ve spent four weeks in physical therapy because of that bastard. If you give me that pleasure…. I will sing like a fucking canary,” he promised darkly. “No other deals,” he snapped. “It’s that- or you can lock me back up for three life sentences, and you’ll never get a fucking peep out of me.” 

Wooyoung knew he had already won. 

Lee turned sharply towards the door. “I don’t have the proper authority to make that deal,” he said stiffly. “But I’ll pass it along to the people who do. We’ll get back in touch. Maybe.” 

The door swung closed for only a brief moment before a security guard arrived, grabbing Wooyoung by the cuffs and steering him roughly from the icy room into the colder hallway. 

“No, really,” he said, turning his head to face the guard. “Would it kill you to turn a heater on? Where the fuck are our tax dollars going?” 

Wooyoung was rewarded with a sharp strike across his face, and a gruff order to shut the fuck up. 

He was shoved back into his lonely cell in silence, the bars slamming shut and Wooyoung slowly sitting up, wiggling his shoulders slightly. 

“Hey!” he yelled, voice echoing. “You forgot the cuffs!” 

“Spend the night in them,” he heard the guard chuckle, somewhere down the hall he couldn’t see. “See if you lose some of that shit attitude.” 

“Asshole!” Wooyoung barked, but he received no response, so the guard must have moved on. 

He huffed harshly, getting to his feet and walking to the little cot in the corner, sitting down and trying to figure out a way to lay down that wouldn’t kill his arms. 

“Fuck it,” he muttered, just leaning back against the wall, only bowed slightly to keep his weight off of his arms. He closed his eyes as more cold air brushed against his skin. “I’m coming,” he muttered darkly, whispers echoing in the cell. “I’m fucking coming for you, Yeosang.” 

 

~~~~~~~

 

For the second time, Wooyoung was dragged out of his cold cell into an equally cold interrogation room. 

He couldn’t remember the last time he was actually warm. Or when he last saw real daylight. 

The cold was a bitch to his leg. When it was still healing, the temperature felt like getting shot again. It was amazing how fast you could heal when you actually did all the exercises the nice ladies in the therapy room told you to do. 

He sat in the chair, hands still achingly bound behind his back all night. He was sure once they were actually taken off, they’d hurt like a bitch. 

Time passed, and Wooyoung had to grin. The waiting tactic was a useless one. It only worked on the people who were almost shitting themselves. 

Wooyoung was as calm as could be. 

He sighed the longer he sat there, tapping his foot, rattling his handcuffs just to be annoying, and kicking the table leg to make it shift. 

“That’s enough of that, if you don’t mind,” Lee said loudly as he entered, door opening quickly, probably meant to make Wooyoung jump. 

He simply lifted his eyes to the police chief and saw another, grey-haired man enter behind him in an immaculate suit. 

Woooung bit back a smile. He loved Suits. They were so much fun. 

“This is Detective Jang,” Lee introduced, expression unamused. “He is the lead detective on the Ateez case.” 

Wooyoung tilted his head in mock greeting. “You look like the kind of kid I used to snag lunch money off of.” 

Wooyoung could immediately see the ruffle in his feathers, his posture stiffening under his pressed suit and his fingers coming up to push his glasses further up his nose. 

“So you’re the guy who's gonna bargain with me for info,” Wooyoung hummed, leaning forward. “Let me guess- you’ll consider time off for good behavior in return? I’ll get a cut off of twenty years if I cooperate? You’ll give me extra pudding with dinner?” he sneered. 

A muscle in Jang’s eye twitched, expression souring. 

Wooyoung leaned back in his chair, eyes as dark as pitch. “We’ve already danced to this song, Detective,” he said, bored of this game. “Have you ever taken an economics class?” He questioned, head tilting mockingly. “ Never sell a scarce item you own for less than an outrageous price.”

“Your sarcasm is not helping you,” Jang muttered. 

“And I don’t even see how my demands are outrageous,” Wooyoung went on, shaking his head. “All I’m asking is to be present while you take this one fucker down,” he said. “And I’ll tell you everything I know.”

“You think we’re idiots ?” he growled, slamming a hand that didn’t even make Wooyoung blink against the table, making a loud smacking sound. “You think others haven’t tried this? You think we actually believe that you won’t try and break away the moment you’re out of these walls?”

Wooyoung leaned forward sharply, making the detective tense, his eyes dark and thick with murderous anger. 

“You’ve clearly been motivated by revenge,” Wooyoung hissed, hands straining against the cuffs. “I don’t give a fuck about getting out of here,” He spat, voice dripping. “The only thing I want is to watch the light die from Yeosang’s eyes as he realizes his mistakes came back to haunt him.” 

“You think we’ll trust a member of this slickest gang out there?” He scoffed darkly. “You’re never leaving this facility,” he hissed. “You’re going to rot here, and one by one- you’re going to be joined by your little friends that you will never get to see.” 

And how cute , his smile was triumphant. As if he had talked Wooyoung into a corner. 

Wooyoung hummed, sucking on his tongue disinterestedly. “Fine,” He said calmly. 

Lee and Jang both blinked, exchanging glances. 

Wooyoung leaned back in the chair, expression like concrete. “If that’s how it’s going to be, then our conversation is over.” He stuck his neck out, offering his head. “You can just go ahead and shoot me now,” he assured them. “Because that’s how much good I’m going to be to you at this point.” 

Jang’s fist curled, teeth look ready to break where they clenched together- and, oh, he was trying to hide the fact that Wooyoung was pissing him off. 

Truly, detective were all adorable. 

“What are you waiting for?” Wooyoung questioned, scooting his chair forward. “I’ve already made you my one and only offer- you either take me with you, or you continue your desperate game of cat and mouse that you’ve been playing with us for- what? Seven years now? Has it been longer?” He cocked his head. “Wait- No, it’s been nine, hasn’t it? Because I remember we had one celebratory day because we were nothing but teenagers fooling the police-” 

Jang slammed his hand on the table again, and Wooyoung fell silent, casting a distasteful glance at the appendage. 

He wrinkled his nose. “You know, you’re only adding to the stereotype that you guys are brutal.” 

You- ” 

Lee stuck a hand out sharply, stopping whatever curse that Jang was threatening. He glared at Wooyoung. “What if we offered you something else,” he said, ultimately calmer than the detective. “Name any other price you want- and we’ll be more than happy to consider it.” 

Wooyoung snorted, settling back in the chair for only a moment before sighing and standing up slowly, both men in the room putting hands on their guns. 

Wooyoung simply stood there, bored. “We’re done here, then,” He sighed. “You’re not interested in the information I have, and I’m not interested in continuing useless negotiations. I’ve given my terms. When you’re desperate enough to meet them, you know where to find me.” 

He watched them, absolutely nothing able to be concluded from his bored expression. 

Jang looked ready to pop, but Lee sighed, calling the guard back in. 

He grabbed Wooyoung by the cuffs again, and Wooyoung looked over his shoulder, back at Lee. “What if we make this a little less drawn out for the both of us,” he offered graciously, smiling brightly. “I’ll hold my offer for a week,” Wooyoung said, the guard pausing his march. “If, within a week, you haven’t accepted my terms, it no longer matters. I don’t care what you do- I’ll never even breathe a word about where my teammates take a piss .” He grinned. “Understand, Chief?”

He started moving, the guard jerking him back and then shoving him forward after a gesture from the chief. 

Wooyoung was returned to his cell (and actually had his cuffs removed this time, making him hiss and curse at the guard). 

He spent most of the night trying to massage out the stiff pain in his arms and shoulders, staring at the wall blankly, letting the pain wash over him as a reminder. 

Wooyoung never really was able to keep track of time. There was no clock, no windows- If he was lucky, he might be able to ask one of the nicer guards what day or time it was, but most of them just told him to shut the fuck up.

But, this time, Wooyoung kept count. 

Two meals a day. 

Six meals- three days- passed, with no word from anyone, and Wooyoung occupied himself within his solitary cell by seeing how long he could stay in a handstand until the blood rushed too much to his head. 

He hummed songs he hadn’t heard since he was sixteen, and very pointedly did not allow his mind to wander anywhere near the past. 

Twelve meals. Six days. 

Wooyoung leaned against the wall of the cell, arms resting on his legs as he stared at the opposite wall, listening to cells open and close, feet walking to and fro. 

He smiled quietly. 

Thirteen meals. Halfway through the seventh day. 

Wooyoung couldn’t contain a giggle as he stood, walking up to the bars of the cell. 

The Chief froze as he entered the hallway, already finding Wooyoung standing at the bars. His eyes narrowed, lips curling in disgust at the criminal standing before his pure little police eyes. 

He stepped up to the bars, glaring. 

Wooyoung smiled politely, hands wrapping around the bars gently. “I take it you’re here to tell me to stop holding my breath? Here to say that you’ll follow the true law and not collude with a criminal to catch other criminals? Here to tell me all my speeches were useless? That you’ll never trust someone like me?” 

He waited patiently, watching the man’s fists draw tighter and tighter, eyes like staring down a long, cold cave that stared at Wooyoung with nothing but contempt. 

Lee let go of a disgusted noise- like catching a whiff of something unpleasant. He turned away from Wooyoung. 

“Jang will be by tomorrow,” he muttered, voice dripping with anger. “You give him  a piece of legit info, and he takes you with him on his raid. Afterwards, you spill your guts.” He threw a murderous glare at Wooyoung. “ Got it ?” 

Wooyoung clapped, bouncing on the balls of his feet. “Sounds like such fun,” He assured him, the chief choking on annoyance. “See you later, Chief!” Wooyoung called as he marched down the hall. 

 

~~~~~~~~

 

“Alright, spill,” Jang barked, slamming a folder onto the table. 

Wooyoung peered at the folder, still leaned back in the chair, hands bound behind his back. He scanned over the various documents and pictures laid out before him.

He snorted. 

“God, you guys need me more than I thought,” he snickered, leaning forward slightly. Jang snarled, but Wooyoung ignored him. “First of all,” Wooyoung said matter-of-factly, “you’re not even looking for him in the right area.” 

“What the fuck are you talking about?” Jang spat, shoving a small map towards Wooyoung. “One of your informants spilled the area to us. Your safehouse is in one of these fucking areas!” 

Wooyoung looked at the three little circles, chuckling and shaking his head. “Well, then, you either grabbed an informant we didn’t trust with shit , or one that we trusted and he just straight up lied to you, because we have never operated in any of these spheres.” He wrinkled his nose. “ Hongdae ?” he questioned, almost gagging. “What- do you think we’re fucking desperate ?” 

“Bullsh-” 

“Where, then?” Lee demanded, so much calmer and easier to speak politely with. “Where are your friends holed up?”

Wooyoung hummed, scanning the map. “Well, I already told you I can’t speak for Ateez. We change safehouses every few weeks, and I haven’t been keeping up. Yeosang, however…” A sick smile clung to Wooyoung’s lips as he looked up from the map. “I don’t even need the map. I know the exact address he’ll be holed up at.” 

“He’s not with the others?” Jang demanded. 

Wooyoung scoffed. “We don’t need all eight of us for jobs,” he snorted. “We do our own thing. Unless we’re planning on something big like storming the fucking president’s home.” 

Jang and Lee glared.

“That was a joke,” Wooyoung sighed, rolling his eyes. “That’s too much easy money- we go for the challenge.” 

“If you don’t start talking, you fucking bastard-” 

Fucking cops. 

“The outskirts of Seoul,” Wooyoung sighed heavily, exasperated. “God, would it kill you to say please?” he demanded, scoffing. “Anyway- Yeosang flits between three safehouses. When you grabbed me, it was about mid spring, which means we’re probably close to summer now, right?” 

Lee nodded stoically, eyes shifting for any sign of misleading. 

Wooyoung nodded confidently. “Then he’ll be in the outskirts. No one walks through there but farmers, but during the summer, they’re too busy on their farms. No one around for miles.” 

“What about the other two?” Jang demanded. “Give us all three locations.” 

Wooyoung gave him a long look that questioned his sanity. Jang’s expression turned red. Wooyoung sighed. “No,” He said primly. “He won’t be at the other two, so it doesn’t matter for taking him down. I’m not saying another fucking work until he’s rotting in here with me.” 

Jang leaned on the table, lips curling- 

Wooyoung stared on impassively. 

“You know,” he said, tone dulled, “you keep doing that like it’s going to scare me-” 

Lee slapped a hand across Jang’s chest to stop him from lunging forward, hard eyes staring at Wooyoung. 

“You will accompany them out there,” Lee muttered darkly, never breaking eye contact with Wooyoung’s bored gaze. “There will be a gunman with his sight trained on your for every moment you are out of your cell. If you make a wrong move, they will shoot to kill, and we’ll start from scratch on our hunt for your people knowing that there’s at least one less of you in our hair.” Eyes cold as steel pressed against Wooyoung. “Do you understand how little you’re worth to us, if you try something?”

Wooyoung grinned. “I guess it’s a good thing the only person I intend to betray has already betrayed me, isn’t it?” He settled comfortably against the table. “You’ll want a small team- no more than fifteen. Less than ten is even better- we have ears everywhere. Make a big fuss, and Yeosang will bolt.” 

“You think we’ll trust that-” 

Wooyoung groaned, resisting the urge to slam his head into the table in frustration. “Jesus Christ , your dick must be miniscule for the amount of power you feel the need to flaunt.” 

“You fucking-” 

“I’m giving you info,” Wooyoung said, over-enunciating, rolling his eyes. “Follow it or not, but don’t be shocked when shit goes to hell when you don’t listen. You wanted inside info- so here’s your info. One unmarked van, and maybe one extra car. Anything more and the grapevine will light up like a fucking firecracker-” 

Despite his cursing, Jang did not interrupt again, only glaring in utter rage. 

Wooyoung shrugged. 

He didn’t need the man to like him. Only to follow his every word. 

 

~~~~~~~~

 

Wooyoung’s head slammed into the wall of the transport vehicle once more, and he cursed, struggling to keep himself up as they bounced along the dirt road. 

The man seated on the actual seat in the back of the van, with his gun trained on Wooyoung, seemed to be enjoying himself too much. 

“Fucking dirt roads,” Wooyoung muttered, one eye squeezed shut against the throbbing in his head. 

“Tell your friends to pick a less criminal life, then,” Jang called from in front of the grate that separated Wooyoung and his gunman from the rest of the team of eight. “Maybe they could hang out in some less disgusting places.” 

Wooyoung chuckled darkly, turning eyes to the back of the man’s head. “Wow, wise words,” he said in awe. “Did your Mama tell you that? Did you have a silver spoon shoved up your ass while she did?” 

Jang turned, eyes dark and hate-filled. “Your kind must be sitting on enough money to fund a fucking city. And you still just need more, huh? Can never stop now, huh?” he spat. He turned away. “Wealth has nothing to do with mortality. You’ve proven that.” 

Another bump, and Wooyoung’s shoulder hit the van hard. He glared at the back of the man’s head. “No,” he muttered under his breath. “But it sure does help, doesn’t it?” 

The van began to slow some minutes afterwards, and Wooyoung perked up, trying to see through the grate- 

“Sit down,” the gunman snapped, lifting his gun. 

Wooyoung huffed, sitting down and glaring. “I just wanna make sure we’re actually here, and you’re not about to just toss me in a fucking river.” 

“Alright,” Jang ordered. “The moment we reach the front, get into position. We get him to come out, and if he refuses, we go in with the gas- all clear?” 

A chorus of responses, and Wooyoung felt his lips tug up uncontrollably. 

The gunman scoffed in disgust. “That excited to see someone from your own team get caught?” he asked. “Disgusting. You people don’t know a fucking thing of loyalty, do you?” 

Wooyoung’s smile dimmed, stomach boiling. His expression was polite. “Imagine if Jang shot you in the fucking knee after he told you go ahead, he’s got your back. And then he’s running the other way while the police are dragging you into the back of a fucking van. ” He cocked his head. “Are you very likely to forgive that?”

“Sick bastard,” he muttered, gain still trained on Wooyoung. 

Wooyoung hummed. “Tell me about it.” 

You ,” Jang snapped, turning around. “As per your outrageous request, Hwang will take you out of the back of the van so you get a nice front row seat to your friend getting snagged,” he sneered. 

(That particular conversation had taken two hours and several interventions from Lee before the agreement was made. It helped when you held all the cards.) 

“His gun will be to your back the entire time,” Jang spat. “So much as sneeze, and your liver will be pumped full of so much lead-” 

Wooyoung rolled his eyes. “I got it, you already made your threats. How many times do I have to say it to get it through your fucking head?” he scoffed. “All I want is Yeosang to pay for what he did.” He shifted his leg, Jang’s eyes following the movement. “As long as that happens- you won’t hear a peep from me.” 

Jang muttered curses and expressions of disgust under his breath. 

Wooyoung waited. 

“Approaching the point,” one of the men reported. “Stopping in less than a minute.” 

The gunman got to his feet, jerking his gun in a signal for Wooyoung to stand. He struggled with no hands and the moving van, but by pressing his back against the wall, he stood, eyeing the gun. 

“You know how to actually use that thing?” He questioned, eyebrow cocking. 

The gun was cocked slowly. “Try something and find out.” 

Wooyoung hummed, nose wrinkling. “Nah. Got shot once- not as fun as the movies make it seem. Have you seen that one with the actor with the accent-” 

Move !” 

The van suddenly came to a halt, and the doors in the front flew open, the people pouring out. The gunman by Wooyoung gestured for him to turn around, grabbing Wooyoung by the link of his cuffs and pushing him towards the door, which he shoved open with his foot, holding Wooyoung back for a moment. 

The team of policemen hid behind the doors and bodies of the two vehicles they brought, aiming their guns at a rundown, shitty little house that had half the roof missing. 

The cars were parked maybe fifty feet from the front door that hung off its hinges. 

The whole building was silent, as if it hadn’t been touched in decades. 

“Yeosang of Ateez!” Jang’s voice yelled into a megaphone, his gun held steady. “We know you’re in there! Come out the front door with your arms raised in the air! We are given permission to shoot on sight, if you do not cooperate!” 

The gunman shoved Wooyoung forward, making him stumble a little as he landed on the dirt road they had been traveling on. The man hopped out behind him. Hwang? Hadn’t Jang said he was Hwang? 

Wooyoung did really care as he glared at the man who twisted the cuffs, pulling on his wrists uncomfortably. They stayed within the area of the two open back doors of the van, Wooyoung leaned slightly to see around them. 

The house hadn’t moved. 

Wooyoung held his breath. The cold metal of the gun pressed between his shoulder blades as he leaned a little bit further. 

“Kang Yeosang!” Jang yelled, louder. “You have ten seconds to comply before we-” 

There was faint, but oh, so recognizable sound of a bullet being fired through a silencer. 

The gunman behind Wooyoung suddenly fell against him, nothing but a wet splattering sound before his body hit the ground, Wooyoung turning sharply to see blood pouring from his head- 

Another shot, and a man behind one of the cars jerked forward, the back of his head a gory mess- 

Hands were suddenly tearing Wooyoung forward, fists twisted in the front of his shirt and lifting him to he stood on his tiptoes as Jang glared murderously at him, a gun pressing to Wooyoung’s jaw roughly enough to break the skin- 

You fucking set us- ” 

Wooyoung dropped like a stone, all of his weight going limp and tearing himself from Jang’s grip. He hit the ground hard enough to break his jaw, face pressed into the dirt with his hands still bound behind him, eyes squeezed shut. 

He heard Jang’s body hit the ground. 

People screamed and yelled and scrambled- too occupied with the shooter they tried to locate to care about Wooyoung laying in the dirt. 

Gunfire was returned. 

And then suddenly stopped. 

Wooyoung stayed where he was, waiting to see if any police boots would walk across the dirt. 

There was only the faint sound of a gentle motor that slowly got louder. 

Wooyoung cracked his eyes open, trying to blink away the dirt and dust that irritated them, making it hard to open them. He glanced around, a scattering of dead bodies that watered the dirt with blood. 

Not a single one even twitched. 

He coughed, stirring up more dust that clogged his throat. He cursed weakly through the hacking as he slowly tried to lift himself, but the impact of falling made his chest hurt too much to get much farther than rolling onto his side uncomfortably. 

He was less than a foot away from Jang’s dead-eyed corpse. 

Wooyoung coughed more dust from his lungs, wincing- 

A hand grabbed his shirt, hauling him up roughly. Wooyoung stumbled, still blinking away dirt- 

A body pressed passed his, arms around him, and the sound of a key being inserted into the back of his cuffs. 

The body smelled like gunpowder and vanilla. 

The person pulled away, Wooyoung’s arms falling forward, making him hiss at the ache- 

He lifted his eyes, and before he saw anything more than pale skin and a reddish smudge by brown eyes, a hand was tangled in his hair, pulling it back as lips claimed his roughly. 

There was the grit of dirt between their lips, but Wooyoung fisted his hands in the lapels of the bomber jacket they wore, yanking them closer as teeth bit at his lips and Wooyoung sucked their tongue into their mouths, warm and sweet, like they had been sucking on a lollipop. 

The grip on his hair tightened, drawing a low moan from his mouth, and the two of them jerked apart, chests heaving as Wooyoung resisted the urge to shove their mouths together again. 

Instead, he simply felt his lips curl up in the most satisfied, cocky grin he could remember ever needing in six months. 

“Yeosang,” He panted, shoulders still aching from the handcuffs. “Fucking took you long enough.” 

Yeosang’s eyes were as sharp as glass hidden among the fibers of carpet- waiting to pierce whoever dared not watch them carefully. His lips quirked, something smug in them. “Says the one who took two months to get the fuck out of there. Losing your touch, Wooyoung?” 

Wooyoung jerked him forward, tasting sugar and heat once again, almost choking on Yeosang’s tongue that was shoved inside of his mouth without preamble, a hand gripping the back of Yeosang’s neck, pulling him closer- 

“Well, excuse me,” he panted, only parting long enough to get out bursts of speech as Yeosang’s teeth caught his bottom teeth hard enough to nearly draw blood. “I was shot- and in therapy- for a month before they even- talked to me-” 

Yeosang hummed, not really caring as he shoved Wooyoung back until he hit the side of the van, pinning him there as his teeth found Wooyoung’s neck, biting and sucking- 

God, two months was too fucking long. 

“F-Fuck, Yeosang-” 

“Among all these dead bodies?” Yeosang questioned, lips trailing up to his jaw. “That’s a little morbid, even for you, Wooyoung.” 

Wooyoung scoffed, shoving at the other’s shoulder, forcing his lips off of his neck. “Then, stop before I decide it doesn’t bother me as much as it should.” 

Yeosang smiled like a cat with a canary clamped tightly in its jaw. 

“Just you?” Wooyoung asked, scanning the scattering of dead bodies once more. 

“The others are waiting,” Yeosang assured him, turning, and Wooyoung noticed his motorcycle waiting just behind the van. He grinned broadly. “I told them I could handle it.” 

“You were rather prepared,” Wooyoung noted, bending over and grabbing the gun from Jang’s hand. “Got a bag with you?” 

Yeosang unhooked the backpack from it’s strap on the side of the bike, tossing it to Wooyoung, who caught it, shoving the (safety on) gun into it. He considered for a moment before taking the detective’s badge as well. 

“The grapevine blew up the moment you walked out of the front doors,” Yeosang told him, helping Wooyoung gather the weapons and identification (never know when that’ll come in handy). “I was waiting for an hour before you even left the city.” 

“Where were you?” Wooyoung questioned, zipping up the full bag. “Perched in a tree?” 

“Just at the treeline,” Yeosang said, gesturing to the woods on the other side of the road. “These guys must be dumbasses if they couldn’t even fucking see me. They were shooting like Hongjoong after two bottles of soju.” 

He glanced at the old safehouse that none of them had ever used as such- but their back up plans had back up plans. This was the first level of back up plan to use as a base. 

Wooyoung snickered, strapping the bag onto the side of the bike. “Can I drive?” he questioned, eyes sparking. 

Yeosang laughed flatly. “You’ve been in a facility for two months,” He said, pushing Wooyoung back and straddling the bike, moving forward to make room. “You’re not crashing my fucking bike in the first hour you’re out.” 

Wooyoung huffed, rolling his eyes in disappointment, but swung his leg over the bike, sliding up against Yeosang’s back, arms wrapping around his waist. 

He grinned as he hooked his chin over Yeosang’s shoulder. “Unless, you wanted to be in front for the added benefits?” Wooyoung rolled his hips forward slightly- just enough to get the point across. 

Yeosang glared at him over the shoulder as he kicked the bike to life, the roar of it echoing through the clearing. “If you try and hump me on my bike again, I’m going to shove a tailpipe up your ass,” He said flatly. 

Wooyoung chuckled, a little smugly, as he settled against Yeosang’s back. 

This was the first human contact he had had in nearly two months. 

Two months since he had been warm like this. Since he had had actual sunlight on his skin. 

He chuckled into the back of Yeosang neck as the biked jerked forward, Yeosang making a U-turn with a speed that would have made old ladies faint, but Wooyoung just bit his shoulder to keep from whooping at the pleasure of it. 

The wind whipped at his face like a needle-thin knife,  but Wooyoung had spent the passed two months stuck in a 10x10 square, and he fucking felt alive again. 

Yeosang glanced over his shoulder at Wooyoung. “What the hell were they feeding you in there?” he demanded. “You look like a fucking stick.” 

“Shit, mostly,” Wooyoung gagged. “I swear to God, after I get a shower, I’m going and getting a fucking cheeseburger or something.” 

Yeosang chuckled, taking a turn sharp enough that Wooyoung’s knee brushed the ground, his chest opening up. “I think there’s a few more things that are gonna happen before that.” 

Wooyoung grinned, biting the exposed part of Yeosang’s neck and sucking sharply. 

Yeosang’s shoulders tensed, a quiet “ Fuck ,” getting lost in the wind, but it made his stomach curl. 

“Two months is too fucking long,” Wooyoung whispered, lips dragging down the back of his neck. 

“Did you miss me, Woo?” Yeosang questioned, not turning around. 

Wooyoung didn’t smile. “How could I not?” 

The rest of the ride was in silence. Wooyoung didn’t even spare a glance back to the battleground they left behind them. He almost wished he had gotten a little bit of time to gloat over Jang. 

Didn’t know shit about loyalty? Which of his team was waiting two months for his ass? 

Fucking cops. 

This is why they were useless against people like Wooyoung and Ateez. 

None of them knew how to play the long game. So obsessed with each individual battle, they practically threw away the war. 

And Ateez’s wars were undefeated. 

 

~~~~~~~~

 

Further out into the country, they pulled up to the familiar farmhouse. 

Wooyoung chuckled as the bike began to quiet as they slowed, rolling down the mile-long driveway leading up to it. 

“You guys seriously never moved?” Wooyoung questioned. 

Yeosang cocked an eyebrow over his shoulder. “Should we have assumed you would have ratted us out?” 

Wooyoung shook his head. “Hongjoong gets paranoid sometimes, is all.” he posed, grinning. 

Yeosang huffed. “Not over his team.” 

They came to a stop at the base of the steps. Wooyoung wondered if any of the animals were still in the barn. Maybe with the summer, Eden had moved them to an actual farm to get some money out of them. 

Yeosang kicked the kickstand down, swinging one leg off the bike. “Hongjoong is-” 

Wooyoung swung a leg over, wrapping it around Yeosang’s waist and pulling their hips flushed together as he dragged the other down for another kiss, lips bruising as Yeosang braced a hand against Wooyoung’s shoulder, fingers digging into his shoulder. 

Wooyoung grabbed his hair perhaps a bit too hard, nipping at his lips, sucking on his tongue, addicted to the taste of sugar and the scent of vanilla and gunpowder- 

“Hey!” Mingi’s deep voice echoed across the yard from the front door. “Stop fucking in the driveway, and get your asses in here! We’ve been fucking waiting on you!” 

Wooyoung flipped him off without taking his lips from Yeosang, pulling him farther forward, making him bring a leg up to support himself, crotches rubbing together, Wooyoung moaning his name- 

Wooyoung! Yeosang!” 

Wooyoung broke away, sighing in frustration as he glared at Seonghwa standing in the doorway, glaring. 

Enough ,” he called, not amused. “Get the hell in here- You can suck face after we finish the meeting about you getting arrested.” 

Yeosang turned to Seonghwa, batting those pretty, innocent eyes. “But, hyung- ” 

Now , Yeosang.” 

They both sighed, Yeosang pulling away, and Wooyoung standing with him, both of them striding towards the farmhouse. 

“Geez, you’d think he was sleeping with the leader or something,” Wooyoung muttered. 

At Seonghwa’s glare, Yeosang elbowed him, Wooyoung shrugging. 

What- were they gonna get mad he was right? 

Seonghwa lead them into the meeting room. Which was just the kitchen. 

A large, round table sat in the middle, usually covered with maps and intel pages, but it was clear now. Just eight chairs- four of which were occupied. 

Hongjoong stood, leaning against the counter, sharp eyes falling over the three of them entering. Seonghwa took the seat closest to the counter, leaning back and glancing at Hongjoong. 

Wooyoung and Yeosang stood at the doorway. 

“Damn, you even got Yunho to come out of his room,” Wooyoung chuckled. 

It was pretty weird seeing all eight of them in one place. They were usually scattered between a dozen different jobs, only gathering to regroup and redirect. 

But even Jongho sat beside Mingi- still bent over a computer and typing away at it, but he glanced up at Wooyoung, his expression unimpressed before returning to his hacking. 

Or whatever politically correct term he liked to use. 

Hongjoong didn’t smile, arms crossing tighter. “What happened?” he asked. 

Hongjoong never demanded. He never raised his voice. Never asked twice. 

“Where the fuck have you two been?” He asked, sharp eyes slicing over Wooyoung and Yeosang who stood tall. 

They did not cower before Hongjoong. They did not fear him. But they did respect him. As equally as he respected each of them. 

“I thought your little honeymoon project would take a month, at most. What was with the extra time you took? And you- ” He narrowed his eyes at Yeosang. “Why were you not keeping us up to date by the minute ?”

Wooyoung and Yeosang were silent. 

“But most of all ,” the leader said, pushing off of the counter, expression stiffening. “Explain to me why I found out one of my men was in the fucking police’s facility through an informant , rather than his partner at the time.”

Wooyoung walked forward, leaving Yeosang to stand in the doorway, taking a seat at the table between two empty chairs. “We got sloppy,” Wooyoung said, voice a little dark, but light hearted. “They got too close, and we had to scramble a bit to throw them off. Nothing happened. Yeosang finished up our mission on his own, and I got the fuck out of there. No harm, no foul.” 

Yes , foul,” Seonghwa said sharply, leaning his arms on the table to glare at them disapprovingly. “Because if they got too close to you two, they could get too close to any of us-” 

“They always get close to us,” Wooyoung said, watching Yeosang approach from the corner of his eye. He saw the other take a seat behind him. “They just got lucky this time. We already burned our tracks. The so-called leak has been plugged. Everything is resumed as normal.” 

“That’s not good enough, Wooyoung,” Hongjoong said, voice darkening. “Yeosang, you should have told us the full story-” 

“That was the full story at the time,” Yeosang said, voice calm and cool. “The cops got a little too close, Wooyoung got hit and we couldn’t shake them. I told you that. He went with them, got out, and now we’ve regrouped. All of that happened within the past day- there was nothing to tell outside of what I had already informed you of.” 

“Wooyoung got hit,” Hongjoong enunciated, stepping over to them. “They got close enough to shoot you-” 

“They’re always close enough to shoot us,” Wooyoung said firmly, arms looping behind his head. “Nothing happened, hyung,” He scoffed. “They dragged me away, gave me the Geneva Convention rehab for my leg, and then I played them like a fucking fiddle to get out of there- They don’t know jack shit. Everyone is still safe.” 

“Are you seriously not seeing the issue we’re addressing?” Seonghwa demanded. “Wooyoung got hit-” 

“We’ve all gotten hit,” Wooyoung said, shrugging it off. “There’s not a single person on this team who hasn’t gotten shot almost vitally- even the baby’s seen that much action.” 

Jongho glared at him from over the computer screen. 

“Wooyoung-” 

“What more do you want, Hongjoong?” Wooyoung asked, spreading his hands. “Everything’s back to normal, we’re not gonna fuck up again, and Yeosang and I still completeed our assigned mission even with the shit storm.” 

There was a tension in the room. 

There was always a tension when things started to go wrong. Things went wrong so rarely, so quickly, that it always threw them off. 

“I get it,” Wooyoung said honestly, voice losing its edge. “You’re worried- you’re always worried. But there’s no point in it. Everything is fine, the cops still have nothing on us, and everyone is back home safe and sound where Seonghwa can bug us about brushing our teeth daily.” 

“Woo-” 

Hongjoong flicked a hand, silencing Seonghwa and staring at Wooyoung with an expression as expressive as marble. 

Wooyoung waited. 

Hongjoong finally caved. He sighed, closing his eyes, as if praying for some god to give him strength. 

“If I ever,” he said firmly, opening his eyes and glaring. “ Ever- find out that either of you do something so stupid again, I will personally tie you to the fucking roof and leave you there, do you understand?” 

Wooyoung gave a mock salute, his voice still rounded. “Aye, captain.” 

“We understand,” Yeosang replied seriously. 

“That’s what happens when you give them honeymoon missions,” Yunho muttered, expression raised into an “I told you so.” “Shit goes to hell.” 

“I don’t really find it very accurate for you to call it honeymoon missions when it’s us,” Yeosang said firmly. “In fact, I find it insulting.” 

“Yeah,” Wooyoung said, standing and smoothing out his pants. “It’s fucking insulting. And also- wouldn’t we have to be together for it to be a honeymoon?” he questioned, rounding his hand and taking a fistful of Yeosang’s hair, dragging his head back to kiss him. 

Yeosang hummed against his lips, content, and Wooyoung grinned as he pulled away, ignoring the rolling of eyes around him. 

“Is there anything else?” he questioned, wiping at the corner of his mouth, eyes passing between Hongjoong and Seonghwa who only looked sadly at Wooyoung. His jaw tightened a bit. “Because if not, I’m gonna shower and get something to eat, because I’m fucking starving.” 

There was a glance exchanged between the two oldest, but Hongjoong waved a hand, sighing. “Go,” he allowed. “You’ve spent two months in a fucking prison, go take a nap or something. We’ll get things sorted with the missions out here.” 

Wooyoung was grateful for the brief reprieve, waving at the others as he exited the kitchen and headed down the hall and up the stairs. 

Presuming that no one had fucked with his shit in two months, Wooyoung went to the second door and pushed it open, finding everything exactly as he left it. He took a brief moment to breathe- the room a little stuffy in his absence- before heading to the closet and pulling down a change of clothes that smelled like dust. 

The shower he took was long and hot (San could bitch at him later for using all the hot water, but Wooyoung figured first days back from prison got him certain rights). Christ, it had been so long since Wooyoung hadn’t been freezing his ass off. 

He let the water run down his body, scrubbing away the scent and ice of the facility until his skin was a little raw and the water had begun to turn tepid. 

He turned it off, disappointed, and dried himself off roughly, breathing in the steam of the bathroom that fogged the air. The mirror was obscured with steam, and Wooyoung was a little grateful for that. 

He was sure he still looked like shit. He knew for a fact that his hair had grown obnoxiously long. He would need to get Yunho to hack some of it off. Wooyoung ran a quick hand through the damp strands, pulling them away from his head and letting it fall back, uneven and messy. 

He ruffled his head roughly, letting it become a mess as he grabbed his shirt and pulled it on. It was too motherfucking hot in this farmhouse in the summer, so shorts were gonna have to be a thing, despite Wooyoung’s hatred of shorts. 

He kicked his stupid prison suit into the corner, making a mental note to make San burn it, and walked out of the bathroom, squeezing out his hair a little more with the towel. 

Yeosang was already sitting on his bed, a plate with a sandwich and some fries sitting beside him. 

Wooyoung smirked as he tossed the towel onto a chair and took the plate he offered, sitting down in his chair (throwing the towel onto the floor). “Waiting around while I’m showering?” he asked coyly. “Hoping you’ll catch a sight of something?” 

Yeosang chuckled, leaning back on his hands easily. “Why would I sit around and hope for something you’re always eager to give me?” 

Wooyoung laughed, taking a large bite of the sandwich, grimacing. “Really?” he asked around the sweet mouthful. “Peanut butter and jelly?” 

“Seonghwa apparently hasn’t gone shopping,” Yeosang said, shrugging. “And Hongjoong says no one is leaving to go get a burger. So suck it up and eat it.” 

“I’d rather be eating something more pleasant,” Wooyoung muttered, but took another bite because anything that wasn’t prison food looked like a three-course meal. 

Yeosang clicked his tongue, drawing a leg up onto the bed. “How did you survive two months in there?” he questioned, a hand placed mockingly to his chest. “I don’t think those security guards are the type to be down for getting their dicks sucked.” 

“I don’t know,” Wooyoung mused around the last bite of food (he was hungry, okay?). “There was one guard who always looked just a little too long.” 

Yeosang brought a curious eyebrow up, not a single shift in his expression. 

Yeosang was always a tough nut to crack when it came to jealousy. He was too confident in their arrangement to ever get riled up at something like that. In fact, he just used it to throw back in Wooyoung’s face. 

“Bet you thought of me the whole time,” Yeosang chuckled, gaze darkening. 

Wooyoung set the empty plate aside, crossing his legs coyly, showing off the long, exposed skin. “Every fucking day,” he promised. 

Wooyoung saw Yeosang’s eyes flicker to his legs on display. 

But rather than his gaze darkening, it softened- losing some of that playfulness. Wooyoung followed his gaze, eyes falling on the bullet scar on his calf that stood out so clearly against the pale skin. 

Wooyoung’s lips tried to grin (and he could feel himself succeed). “Those bastards get one lucky shot a month, don’t they?” 

Yeosang didn’t grin back. Didn’t kick start his expression in playful light-heartedness. 

He was supposed to play along. 

“Does it still hurt?” Yeosang asked, and Wooyoung could see the struggle for indifference, for casualness. He didn’t really care, he was just asking. That’s what Wooyoung was supposed to take away from the question. 

Yeosang failed miserably at framing it that way. 

Wooyoung dropped both his feet to the floor, expression hardening slightly. “Yeosang-” 

“It’s just a question,” Yeosang said sharply, trying to look annoyed, but his eyes were too clear. 

Sometimes, Wooyoung wished Yeosang was as good at acting when they were alone as he was out in the field. 

“Did they treat it properly?” came another question that was too gentle. “Are you gonna get Yunho to look at i-” 

“Just leave it, Yeosang,” Wooyoung snapped, too harsh too quickly, but he shoved himself to his feet. “It’s fine, so just leave it .” 

He walked across the room to his dresser, staring at the mirror and fixing his hair roughly. He ignored his face that was a little too pale and thin compared to what it was before, fixing the shaggy mess atop his head. 

He saw Yeosang stand in the mirror, his expression solemn as he turned to Wooyoung. 

“Is that really crossing our line?” Yeosang demanded, voice too soft. “Asking if a bullet wound is properly healed?”

“With the way you’re asking? Yes ,” Wooyoung snapped, glaring in the mirror. Yeosang was approaching slowly. 

“I would ask the same way if it was anyone else!” Yeosang rolled his eyes, exasperated. 

Wooyoung turned around, facing Yeosang completely, muscles stiff and eyes searching Yeosang’s eyes. 

Of course, Yeosang could do all he could to convince Wooyoung he was being honest, but Wooyoung could read him too well. Could see too much written in the cinnamon hue of his irises. 

So Wooyoung surged forward, tugging Yeosang forward and kissing him hard enough to bruise, teeth dragging on his bottom lip and drawing out a low moan as Yeosang pushed him back until the small of his back was pressed against the edge of the dresser. 

Yeosang’s body was a hard line against Wooyoung’s, bending him backwards as hands wandered through his damp hair, tugging and traversing down his side, teasing the edge of skin just beneath his shirt- 

Wooyoung dropped his hands to the edge of chest of drawers, lifting himself up to sit on it, legs wrapping around Yeosang’s waist and pulled him closer, the change in angle making if so much easier for Wooyoung’s tongue to taste every inch of Yeosang’s mouth that was offered with a low moan of his name that traveled in vibrations through his bones. 

“Two months, Wooyoung,” Yeosang panted as he trailed cool fingers up Wooyoung’s stomach, smooth skin against calloused fingertips, such a familiar, intoxicating feeling that Wooyoung let his head fall back at the sensation of his touch- 

One of Yeosang’s hands dropped to Wooyoung’s thigh, squeezing the muscle and trailing down his leg until it rested his calf. 

Gentle fingertips rested over the bullet scar. 

Wooyoung jerked his leg away, tearing their lips apart, mouth open to snap another reprimand- 

Yeosang’s expression stilled his tongue. 

It wasn’t near tears. But his clear brown eyes showed an ache deep enough for Wooyoung’s stomach to clench, the familiar playful set of Yeosang’s face replaced with an equally familiar desperation that they had been trying to squash out for years- 

“Please, Wooyoung,” Yeosang whispered, voice low and deep enough for Wooyoung to get lost within. “Just for a moment. Please .” 

“It’s never just a moment,” Wooyoung returned, not as firm as he’d hoped- his voice dropping too quiet. “That’s why we don’t have moments, Yeosang.” 

“You were shot , Wooyoung,” Yeosang hissed, expression pinching painfully. “You were shot right in front of me-” 

“You said it was no different from the others,” he reminded him, almost a warning on his lips, but it kept weakening with every pained twist of Yeosang’s expression that had his hands twitching at his sides, ready to move towards him, to comfort- but he couldn’t

“You know it’s always different.” 

“That’s why we can’t,” Wooyoung hissed, nails digging into his palm as he clenched his fists. “Yeosang- you know that it never stays where we need it-” 

Yeosang kissed him. And Wooyoung could immediately taste the difference- lips sweeter and more gentle, almost asking rather than demanding- 

Wooyoung pushed him away, holding him at arm’s length. “Yeosang,” he scolded sharply. 

Two months , Wooyoung,” he said, voice almost begging, eyes misty. “You were shot and I left you and you were gone for two months , and I didn’t fucking know what was happening to you, I just waited- ” 

 

Wooyoung’s legs pumped rapidly, almost matching the rapid beat of his heart. 

There was shouting and gunfire behind them as they sprinted through the forest. Yeosang glanced back, a few paced in front of Wooyoung (he had always been faster). 

“Eyes front!” Wooyoung snapped as Yeosang narrowly missing running into a tree, the leaves beneath their feet taking away their traction. “Keep going!” 

Yeosang turned away, and Wooyoung cursed again as a tree behind them splintered as a bullet found its mark. 

He couldn’t believe he was so fucking stupid- How the fuck could he have not even thought about the fact they might have fucking heat sensors? He just fucking waltzed through the door once the scan said there were no motion sensors- 

And now they were fucking sprinted through the forest from the cops like fucking newbies. They never let the cops get this close before, they were better than this-

There was no gunfire sound that stood out more than the others, so Wooyoung got no warning, no time to brace himself. 

Just a bullet in his calf and hot flames of pain rushing up his leg. 

He barely choked out a violent curse as his leg buckled, sending him sprawling through the leaves, arms dragging across roots as they flew back to clench at the bleeding hole, slick blood and white hot pain blinding him for a moment- 

Yeosang was at his side, probably saying something, but the roar in Wooyoung’s ear drowned him out. It didn’t matter how often you got shot- it hurt like nothing else any of them ever experienced. 

The cops could never hit anything worth shit, why now- Why did they have to get lucky now, why now- 

Yeosang was glancing behind them, lips moving rapidly, eyes frantic. “-carry you, come on!” Yeosang finally let go from applying pressure on his wound, one arm trying to slide beneath Wooyoung’s leg- 

Wooyoung glanced behind them, breathing through gritted teeth and saw flashlights in the distance. 

He shoved Yeosang hard enough to other wound up on his ass in the dirt, looking shocked. “Go,” Wooyoung hissed, both hands clutched at the slick blood coating his leg, heart spasming with the pain. “Keep fucking running, they’re-” 

“I’m not fucking leaving you here,” Yeosang snapped, moving towards him again., voice too close to breaking. “Come on, we have to-” 

“You can’t carry me and move fast enough to make a difference,” Wooyoung spat, breath coming quicker with the pain. He shoved Yeosang’s hands away roughly, glaring murderously. “Go!” he hissed. “Or they’ll get both of us, you fucking dumbass.”

“Wooyoung-” 

Wooyoung didn’t look at his eyes, ignoring the desperate pleading. 

“I’ll find you,” Wooyoung hissed, pushing his hands away again. “I’ll get the fuck out again, just go, Yeosang- They’re not getting both of us, got it?” 

Yeosang’s expression was open and torn. 

“Stop caring,” Wooyoung snapped, ugly and angry. “Fucking go- ” 

He shoved Yeosang once more, the other stumbling back- “I’ll get out, but they’re coming- Go, Yeosang, just go ! I’ll find you-”

Another gunshot tore through the trees around them, and Yeosang finally scrambled to his feet, looking behind him at Wooyoung. Wooyoung watched him run off into the trees, both his hands clamped over the bullet hole and cursing quietly, blood turning cold. 

He was not afraid of the police. They had been running circles around them for fucking years. 

But if had been years even longer since Wooyoung had operated on his own. He watched until he could no longer see Yeosang, sending a prayer to a God he had stopped believing in that he made it far enough before- 

“Hands up, now!” 

Wooyoung cursed, mind already racing through familiar battle plans. “I’ll fucking kill you for this, you bastard!” Wooyoung yelled into the empty woods after Yeosang. 

Three men ran passed Wooyoung, into the woods after Yeosang. He would get away, Wooyoung repeated as he lifted his hands slowly, blood dripping down his forearms as his leg throbbed. Yeosang was good enough to get away. 

Wooyoung was handcuffed and dragged to a stretcher. 

Within the hour he had heard word among the officers that his partner had gotten away. Wooyoung’s chest unlocked, even as four guns stayed trained on him. 

He would get out of this. 

Yeosang would be waiting for him. 

 

“We’ve been getting too deep, Yeosang,” Wooyoung said firmly, even as his throat constricted as Yeosang’s hand laid against his leg in a pleading gesture. “It took you way too long to leave me there-” 

“I would have hesitated for anyone!” Yeosang snapped. 

“You know it’s different.” 

Yes , it’s different!” Yeosang shouted, anger finally taking over the pain. “I don’t care what sort of front or name you try to put over it- You know it’s different, Wooyoung! Just because you’re able to convince yourself more readily than I can-” 

Wooyoung tried to imagine if they had been reversed. If it was Yeosang who had been hit, and he was shoving Wooyoung away, telling him to leave him, to run- 

Wooyoung would not have been able to do it. He would have stood there and killed every fucker who came after them, but he would not have been able to leave him- 

So, in a way, Yeosang was stronger at this than Wooyoung. That wasn’t surprising to anyone. 

“Yeosang,” Wooyoung said firmly, hands gripping Yeosang’s arm tightly. He locked eyes with the other, intense aching meeting honest pain. “No feelings,” He hissed. “Do you remember?”

“Yeah, it’s just physical ,” Yeosang muttered, rolling his eyes. “Wooyoung, how long will we keep playing this game?” he demanded, eyes hollowing. 

“As long as we exist together,” Wooyoung snapped, trying to harden his heart against Yeosang’s gentle touch at his side. “No feelings, Yeosang, we can’t risk-” 

“There haven’t been ‘no feelings’ since the beginning!” Yeosang fought, voice sharper than Mingi’s knives. “We’re kidding ourselves, Wooyoung. It’s one thing to try and keep up a front around other people, but acting this scene every time we’re alone-” 

“If we don’t put some sort of cap, it’s never going to work,” Wooyoung hissed. “It’s hard enough to keep ourselves under wraps as it is- can you imagine how it would work out if you’ve got a gun to your head and we’ve already crossed every line we drew?” 

“It’s not going to make a difference !” Yeosang’s gentle touch turned to a fist resting at Wooyoung’s side. “You think I’ll be any less terrified at your being threatened now than if you actually said what you felt- ” 

Wooyoung slapped a hand over Yeosang’s mouth, chest constricting like it was being crushed from the inside, too terrified of Yeosang accidentally letting the words slip. 

Yeosang glared at him over his hand. 

If they were normal, if they stuck to the script, then Yeosang would lick his hand and Wooyoung would make a fuss, but ultimately suggest a few other things his tongue could do. 

Because that’s what they were. 

Just physical. 

No feelings. 

Feelings were a weakness. Feelings could be used against you. 

Ateez was an eight man army, outrunning and outsmarting the law and gangs ten times their size. They always put themselves where they didn’t belong, and they didn’t care who they pissed off along the way. 

It didn’t matter who got grabbed, who was held at gunpoint, who was snatched and held for ransom- 

Ateez were cool and collected and smart enough to wiggle their way out of any threat. 

So when the inevitable happened and Yeosang was pinned against someone’s chest, a gun pressed to his temple and a brute telling Wooyoung to drop his weapon- 

Wooyoung could not let fear cloud his mind. He could not afford to look at Yeosang and let his heart feel, because if he did, he would hesitate when it came to shooting centimeters beside Yeosang’s face into the brute’s head. 

If he hesitated, the brutes would notice. 

And God help you if anyone realize your weakness in this work. God help Wooyoung if anyone ever even suspect that Yeosang was something more to him than a teammate. 

No. 

Wooyoung could not let that happen. Wooyoung refused to let that happen. 

What Yeosang and he had- there were no feelings attached. Not even whispered in the quiet of their hearts did a single word of it pass. 

Neither could risk each other like this. Wooyoung could not risk Yeosang like that. 

Because when it came down to it and Wooyoung had to shoot through Yeosang’s side to get the brute, he could not hesitate. 

Hesitating would get people killed. 

People special to Wooyoung. People Wooyoung would kill the world for. 

But he did not feel things for them. Not for Yeosang. He couldn’t. 

Yeosang knew this. So did Wooyoung. And it was a perfect plan. If the two of them could just keep it up. 

But it was so fucking hard when Yeosang’s eyes softened in fond annoyance, when his gentle touch laid over Wooyoung’s chest just to feel his pulse, when they crawled into each other’s beds and kissed for a few moments for appearances’ sake but ultimately let it die in favor of simply laying with each other as they fell asleep. 

It was so fucking hard when Yeosang laughed at something Yunho said, and Wooyoung’s heart did an entire tap dance routine. When Yeosang was laying in the make-shift medical room with a bandage wrapped around his side and Wooyoung was torn between running as far away from the sight as possible and refusing to leave his side for fear of what might happen if he did. 

The others knew. 

Of fucking course, they weren’t blind to miss the two of them making out on the couch or sitting in the kitchen with their hands down each other’s pants. 

But Wooyoung knew they just found the two of them pitiable. Making such a big deal about the fact their relationship was just sex and tension relief. No feelings. 

Their expressions often asked Wooyoung how stupid he thought they were. 

And Wooyoung just shrugged, telling them they were seeing things. Unbothered. Because if it bothered him, then they might think it was true. That there was something more. 

And there wasn’t. 

There couldn’t be. 

But sometimes…. Sometimes they got a little too close to an edge. A little too lost. A little too eager. 

And sometimes the sex was a little too slow, a little too quiet aside from whispers of each other’s names. Sometimes their kisses were a little too languid, a little too warm and soft. Their touches were a little too gentle, too caressing, too lovin- 

Sometimes they started out strong- Wooyoung asking for more and Yeosang telling him to beg for it- 

Just pleasure. Nothing else. 

And then something would slowly crack and break (sometimes), and things would slow until there was nothing but Wooyoung holding on as Yeosang moved slow and deep, whispers too gentle as he asked if it was good, and Wooyoung was too eager to tell him how it felt-but it always came out too soft, too genuine- 

Sometimes it got too close to the tip of his tongue. 

Sometimes, Wooyoung was clinging to Yeosang, his name falling from his lips in quiet whispers that were too genuine, and half of it would slip out, and Wooyoung would freeze, and Yeosang would pause, and there would be a moment of panic- 

Wooyoung would drag Yeosang down into a rough kiss when he realized how close they had gotten. Yeosang would fuck him hard enough that Wooyoung could forget the mistakes they almost made. 

And they would return to equilibrium. For a time. 

And then they would begin to drift again. 

They were drifting again. 

“Yeosang-” 

“Just a moment,” Yeosang breathed, hand leaving Wooyoung’s side to wrap around his wrist gently, holding it too softly. Begging. 

Pleasure meant taking. It meant asking once and taking it the rest of the way. 

Yeosang’s eyes were too open, too fragile, and Wooyoung needed to break away, needed to tell Yeosang to get himself together because there was no moment

A “moment” implied that there was actually something there, and there wasn’t- there couldn’t be- 

Soft lips pressed against his, and Wooyoung sat still as stone, Yeosang kissing a marble statue gently. He didn’t bite or work Wooyoung’s mouth open to claim and take- 

He simply kissed him, slow and warm and something still sweet on his tongue that Wooyoung wanted to drown in- 

Fuck

Wooyoung’s hand betrayed him, jerking forward and drifting to Yeosang’s arm, holding it hard enough to feel, but not enough to bruise like he should. The touch was too gentle. Yeosang’s lips too careful and warm and genuine.

The weight of two months alone suddenly slammed into Wooyoung’s chest as feather-light calloused fingers trailed along his neck, just touching and feeling. 

Two months without his team, without Hongjoong’s scolding or Seonghwa’s nagging or Yunho’s playful punches or San’s whining or Jongho’s flicks that hurt as much as any bullet wound or Mingi’s body slams- 

Or Yeosang. 

Wooyoung had spent two months trying not to think about him, knowing that it would only make the time more agonising, the lie harder to hold up. 

But Yeosang was in front of him again, soft skin over lean muscle, and Wooyoung wanted to just get lost in the person he had been robbed of for so long. 

Wooyoung didn’t mean to break. 

He really, truly, genuinely did not mean to- 

But he blinked and his eyes were closed, arms looped loosely around Yeosang’s neck, pulling him a little closer gently, lips softening under Yeosang until they moved in a slow, languid tandem. 

Wooyoung’s eyes fell closed, leg curling slowly and pulling Yeosang just that much closer, resting at his waist, a slow, simmering flame beginning to flicker in Wooyoung’s veins as Yeosang sighed in relief against his lips. 

Hands grabbed Wooyoung’s hips gently, tugging him forward, as if afraid to bruise, and he wrapped his legs around Yeosang just enough to keep himself aloft as Yeosang moved them away from the dresser. 

Yeosang could carry Wooyoung no problem. But running with an injured body in your arms as you sprinted through the forest was a different story. 

Wooyoung forgot where they were as he slowly licked at Yeosang’s lips, asking for entrance- 

They weren’t supposed to ask- 

Yeosang placed a hand against the back of Wooyoung’s head to support it as he slowly lowered them onto the bed, as gently and reverently as laying a child in their crib- 

Wooyoung cracked his eyes slowly (just enough that he could close them quickly if he needed to block something out), and found Yeosang’s cinnamon ones peering into his, shattered like hard sugar against a plate. 

“I missed you,” Yeosang breathed, low enough that Wooyoung relied on reading his lips to catch it. “I was scared, Wooyoung- I missed you-” 

There was a jump in Wooyoung’s veins- too close, too close- that told him to jerk Yeosang down and make them forget- 

But instead his body betrayed him again, gentle hands tracing Yeosang’s cheek and guiding him down until Wooyoung pressed his lips against his once more, too warm- 

It was all gentle, and as much as fear tried to make him start taking, to grab and control and force- 

He couldn’t do it. Not when Yeosang’s hands were gently guiding up his stomach, nails just barely scratching the skin enough to make goosebumps erupt along his body, a shiver caught in his spine as his shirt was tugged up and off, tossed somewhere he didn’t care about. 

Yeosang’s followed quickly and then hands were grabbing at the rest of their clothing, skin finally brushing skin, like a breath of air after being suffocated. 

Wooyoung hadn’t realized how much he had missed touch until Yeosang’s was everywhere, making it harder and harder to remember why he ever denied them this. Why had they ever thought that this was something they couldn’t do- 

No. 

Even if it was slow, even if it was soft, it didn’t mean anything, it meant nothing- 

Even as Yeosang’s hand lovingly prepped him, slow and deep and enough to make Wooyoung twist and writhe under him, Yeosang’s expression only softening as he whispered for him to relax. 

It meant nothing. 

Yeosang’s touch meant nothing, the balloon threatening to pop in his chest meant nothing, the ache that reached down to his fingertips that begged him to touch back meant nothing- 

They were nothing. 

It was just sex. 

Just sex as Yeosang’s breaths wet Wooyoung’s neck as Wooyoung’s nail dug into his back, creating little red lines that Yeosang moaned at, their chests vibrating together as Yeosang reached deep and slow inside of Wooyoung, making his toes curl and his back arch- 

There was no desperate cries. No begging for release, no flipping each other in switches of control and gaining the upper hand, no harsh grunts of each other’s names as they simply sought release as quickly as possible- 

There was just Yeosang moving in a smooth rhythm that made Wooyoung bite the back of his hand, eyes squeezing shut as Yeosang’s hand carded through his hair gently, his eyes staring at Wooyoung with lights so bright it fucking hurt- 

His chest heaved, legs locking around Yeosang- not drawing him closer, but just making sure he didn’t pull away. 

“I missed you,” Yeosang breathed heavily against his neck, lips brushing his pulse point and scraping gently beneath his ear, making Wooyoung’s breath stutter. 

It was too close. 

It was as close as they could get. 

Wooyoung’s chest ached, holding Yeosang closer, whispering his name over and over like it was a substitute for what he truly wanted to say. 

When Wooyoung came, it was quietly, face pressed into Yeosang’s shoulder and muttering his name like a mantra. Yeosang followed quickly, arms struggling to keep himself up to not crush Wooyoung, their chests heaving in deep breaths. 

Wooyoung felt good. 

At least- his body did. His mind was panicking as Yeosang dropped beside him on the bed. 

According to the script they were supposed to follow, this was where Yeosang carried him to the bathroom and they would have round two in the shower before parting ways. Or maybe to go make out on the couch until they pissed off Seonghwa enough to part ways. 

Wooyoung didn’t move, struggling to get his breath back that didn’t seem eager to return. 

Yeosang’s forehead pressed to Woyoung’s arm gently, just resting there against the warm skin. 

Wooyoung should follow the script. 

Yeosang glanced up at him, probably asking what his line was, and his expression… 

It was lov- 

It was gentle enough to make Wooyoung scared, to make him panic. But no matter how his mind screamed for him to just tell Yeosang to head to the bathroom, it wouldn’t come. 

Wooyoung rolled over, body heavy and lethargic as he threw an arm over Yeosang’s waist, moving until their legs tangled in their mess and their skin pressed together at every point. He felt Yeosang stiffen, trying to glance at Wooyoung, silently asking what he was doing. 

That was the cycle, the script. 

Wooyoung and Yeosang would break, they would get just a little too close to something that couldn’t exist, and then they got back to reality. It didn’t matter- their “moment” had passed, and they were supposed to get back on track. 

Wooyoung hid his face in Yeosang’s hair, the scent of gunpowder and vanilla overtaking the scent of sex. 

He could feel Yeosang still shifting, still waiting for Wooyoung to break away. 

Wooyoung’s fingers curled against his bare waist, feeling the soft skin and the little line of a scar from a knife two years ago. 

“Just go to sleep,” Wooyoung murmured into his hair, the soft strands tickling his face. “I’m tired.” 

Yeosang shifted enough that Wooyoung thought he was going to follow the script regardless. But there was just an arm thrown over Wooyoung’s waist and a face buried in his bare chest, Yeosang’s breaths tickling his skin. 

Wooyoung lay there and cursed their stupid, weak hearts that didn’t have the strength to do what needed to be done.