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Take Me Home

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I.

 

 

 

If I stopped the pain was unbearable, 

If I stopped and thought, 

Maybe the world can’t be saved, 

the pain was unbearable.

-Mary Oliver

 

 

 

A shock of pink startles him. 

Jungkook stops at the bend of the street and turns to the dark alley. There was nothing down that path, just the back of a few shitty brothels. But he had definitely seen someone run into it.

The rain had let off for a few minutes, but the wind is still deadly and Jungkook didn’t want anyone to suffer in it. He curses his soft heart and ducks into the alleyway. 

There is movement ahead that the boy quickly follows, taking him deeper into the dark abyss and past the bright red lights of the whorehouses. Ignoring the shouting and the cheap music coming from that direction, Jungkook runs on. 

When he reaches another curve in the street, he finally sees him. 

A boy with long pastel bubblegum hair limps forward slowly, his breath  coming out in large puffs of air. He looks older than Jungkook, but tired- so tired.

And Jungkook recognizes him in the split second he sees Pinky’s gorgeous face. He’s seen him before on the streets of Brooklyn, has seen him being pushed around forward by scary men who leered at his body. The kid had always been smiling, a cocky and unaffected boxy grin on his pretty face. Jungkook had never approached him- only admired from afar that such a beautiful being existed so close, yet so far away. 

Jungkook watches in silent shock as the boy tries to take another step but stumbles and lands with a heavy thump in the dirt. The rain from the night before has rendered the escape impossible and . The slippery mud prevents him from running away and the night has become bitingly cold. 

Jungkook runs over to the unmoving mound and turns him over to see splotches of mud clinging to his loose white shirt in streaks of black and, the side of his face completely smeared with blood, rain, and dirt. 

“Hey, you okay?” 

When he gets no reply Jungkook gently lays the boy’s head onto his lap. 

“Help me out here,” he mutters desperately, bunching the ends of his sleeves together and lightly dabbing it against the crusted blood. 

The pink haired boy stirs, breath hitching as he wakes. As soon as his eyes open, he jerks away from Jungkook in a sudden attempt to flee, but he only falls into the mud again. Jungkook watches in pity as the kid chokes and coughs wetly. 

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he says frantically, hoping to soothe the flustered boy. “I wanted to see if you were okay. You’re hurt.” 

“...eve.” 

Jungkook bends down closer to the boy, pulling gently at his side to get him off the ground. 

Pinky turns to him with wide eyes, panic evident on his lovely face. “Leave!”

The low pitch of his voice startles Jungkook; he had expected something different. His trembling baritone voice sounds so soothing, but the panicked edge immediately causes the hairs on his neck to stand up. Before Jungkook can question him again, the sound of someone approaching interrupts him. 

“What did I tell you about lying to me, V? You really have the nerve to run away when I was trying to teach you a lesson. You think the Syndicate hasn’t received word about the way you’ve been acting?” 

Jungkook turns to the voice. 

A man, taller and older than him, walks into the alleyway where the two boys are huddled together. 

Jungkook tugs the boy closer to him, cradling his cold body to his side. V either can’t physically speak or is refusing to answer. Regardless of which, the man seems to grow more agitated at the silence, but he takes one look at Jungkook and a wide grin spreads on his cold face. 

“And who are you?”

Jungkook swallows the lump in his throat. He knows he is stuck in a dangerous situation, the man before him practically oozes danger. 

“...I’m his friend.”

Friend ?” He laughs, the sound piercing in the still night. “V doesn’t have any friends .”

“He does now.”

The man raises an amused eyebrow. “You’re cute, but you better run along now before you see something you don’t like.” 

“What’re you gonna do to him?” Jungkook asks, fear coursing through him. He brushes the wet hair away from V’s face, watching as his lashes flutter on a bruised cheek. He didn’t want this delicate stranger to be harmed. A selfish voice in his head tells him to take V and run , ignoring the obvious fact that they are stuck in a dead end. 

“Trust me, baby, you don’t wanna know.”

Ignoring Jungkook’s protests, the man pushes past him and hauls V up with a strong grip. The tips of the boy’s feet brush against the mud as he dangles in the air. 

“Don’t ignore me, darling. I’m not done playing with you- just wait. The things I’m gonna do to you tonight…” 

A loud slap echoes in the alley, making Jungkook flinch back in horror. V makes a terrible gurgling sound deep in his throat as his head jerks to the side and his body crumbles to the floor.

“How’re you feeling, honey?”

V gasps, trying to crawl away. He digs his fingers into the mud, dragging himself away from his abuser. Jungkook feels like there’s lead in his legs, preventing him from moving. The fear paralyzes him.

The man stalks over to the struggling boy and straddles him with two legs on either sides of his thighs. 

“...please,” V whispers, blood flying out of his mouth.

Grinning like a predator, the man lashes out again. This time he doesn’t stop. The boy covers his head as the blows rain on him, but it has no effect on the man.

When V screams, the sound raw and desperate, Jungkook finally jumps up.

“Don’t touch him!” He screams, shoving the man away with all his strength.

The stranger laughs, but his eyes are humorless. “You shouldn’t have done that. If you’re not gone by the time I’m done with him, then I’ll take care of you real nice.”

He turns back to V, who has fallen completely silent, his chest moving shallowly. 

“Get up, bitch.” A kick to the stomach sends the pink haired boy coughing and gagging. “Try to run away again. Weren’t you so confident earlier?”

The man pulls out a switchblade and flicks out the shining blade. He uses it to cut away at V’s shirt, pulling the entire thing apart when the knife slides through half of it. Then he presses the blade against V’s bare skin and slides the sharp end against his nipple. When Pinky moans, the man chuckles darkly. 

“You like that?” he asks huskily. He swallows Taehyung’s pleas with biting kisses.

V whimpers brokenly, hands weakly patting against the older’s arms. “Dongyoung...please don’t.” 

At this, Dongyoung adds pressure onto his knife until the tip pierces through white skin and the boy starts crying. 

“Stop!” Jungkook screams again. 

Without thinking, he rushes at the man and then all he sees is red.

 

 

His hands are shaking violently. 

Jungkook blinks once. Twice. Three times. Only when the warmth seeps into his shoes does he finally glance down. 

Dongyoung lays there, eyes wide open, blood pouring out of the hole in his chest. From where his collar is open and blowing in the wind, Jungkook can see a tattoo of an evil eye staring back at him. 

The rain has started up again, rinsing the warm blood off his arms. He takes a deep breath and then vomits all over the dirt floor. He heaves, body convulsing as he empties his stomach of his meager dinner of a hotdog and a few soggy fries. 

Then he remembers V.

For a second Jungkook is afraid that he is already dead, having succumbed to his wounds; the pink haired boy lying motionless on his side. 

“Oh god!” he scrambles over and wildly runs his hands over him. “Please be alive, please be alive!”

When he gets no response, he leans his head against V’s chest and waits for the telltale signs of life. And he gets it. 

A faint heartbeat is all the confirmation he needs to bundle the boy in his jacket. Once he is wrapped like a burrito, Jungkook pulls him up into his arms, bridal style. They need to get out of here before the “Syndicate” comes and discovers what he had done. 

He only stops when a glint catches his eye. He gently sets V down onto a slightly elevated part of the alley before walking over to the dead man. 

Feeling the bile rise in his throat again, Jungkook fights back the urge to hurl and kneels down. A gun sits in a hostler at the man’s belt and Jungkook takes it with morbid fascination. The handle fits snug in his palms, and he almost drops it in alarm. It felt so natural sitting in his hands. 

He searches Dongyoung until the courage leaves his body and he’s holding the gun, a wallet, and a grenade. Jungkook turns the weapon in his hand for a while, amazed by how small it actually is. Why did this man have such dangerous items on him? What were they supposed to be used for? He couldn’t help but think that if he hadn’t been here, the gun would’ve probably been used on V. 

Without another word, he brings the unconscious boy back up into his embrace and leaves the dead man, leaving the rain to wash everything away. 

 

 

It would be futile to call the police. Jungkook knows exactly what it would look like. He grew up an orphan in the middle of New York, in the poorest neighborhood. His parents had been shot and killed in their home when he was just a toddler. He grew up oppressed and loveless and discriminated against. The police would not take his side and neither would the law. 

But as he watches the boy sleep in his bed, he thinks it was worth it. 

V is in a deep sleep, yet his eyebrows were still creased in pain. Last night, when Jungkook had brought him back to his little apartment, he had been a mess of blood and mud. Jungkook had to strip him in order to clean him up and was immediately repulsed by what his clothes hid.

There’s a long cut running down from one shoulder blade to the notches of his spine. Red gashes ran down his back and all over his pale hips. His inner thighs were absolutely coated in blood and something else entirely disgusting. Upon further inspection Jungkook vomited again, crying this time as well. 

The boy had been brutally raped and tortured. These scars aren’t recent, some white and puffy- amassed over a long period of time. His entrance was a violent red and swelling with tears. What Jungkook saw on V frightened him more than killing Dongyoung. He spent a long time gently dabbing V’s body with a warm towel, biting his lip to keep his tears at bay. But they came anyway and he sat by him and cried into his hands. 

“You’ll be ok,” he had muttered into the boy’s hand. “I’ll take care of you now.”

The only beautiful thing that had been left on V’s body was a tattoo of a butterfly on his lower back. It had been done between the two little indents of his hips and was the most intricately detailed tattoo Jungkook had ever seen in his life. He ran his hand along it a few times, tracing the black ink into his memory. 

 

 

Dongyoung is looking at him in that way again.

All through the pet party and in the limousine, the man had been eyeing him and undressing him with his gaze. Taehyung can’t help the shudders that make goosebumps erupt on his arms.

The last time he had stared at him in that way- Tae hadn’t been able to walk properly for three weeks due to the severe black bruises all over his legs from where the man had taken a belt to. He had been whipped so extremely that his driver had to intervene to push Dongyoung back to his senses. 

Taking a deep breath as the car pulls up to Shangri-La, the pleasure house, Tae immediately bounds out and starts off at a brisk pace to put some space between him and the man. It doesn’t work, however, as the mobster catches up to him easily and wraps a tight arm around his neck. 

“Where are you going in such a rush, darling?”

“Don’t condescendingly calling me pet names,” the boy snaps, despite the trembling in his legs. 

For a moment Dongyoung is silent and Tae is afraid he’d lash out, but then the man grins. “I love it when you talk back to me like that. Come on- you’re warming my bed tonight.” And then he’s dragging the pink haired kid into the smoke filled building and up the stairs. Tae looks back once, at his driver who is looking after them with eyebrows creased, wringing his hands, before the looming doors lock together behind them. 

It doesn’t take long for Dongyoung to have Tae ready on the bed with his legs spread out obscenely and his hole glistening with lube. The man shoves four fingers in and curls them brutally. The boy cries out, hair whipping his mouth as he shakes his head. 

“Stop- ah- please stop- it hurts!”

“So wet. Like a fucking girl. You like that?”

No matter what he says and how much he begs, Dongyoung is relentless. Even later when his arm turns purple from how tight the rope pulls against his skin and the blood on his nose has crusted. 

Dongyoung pounds into him, dick pulsating and hard like a hot rod. His hands are wrapped crushingly tight against his throat. There’s no way the boy can breathe. Tae weakly tries to pry the hands off him, but Dongyoung doesn’t budge. He gurgles, tasting the blood from his nose and shuts his eyes hoping that he could just pass out. 

His lips are almost blue by the time Dongyoung finally lets him go, pulling out with a disgusting suckling sound. He drags the boy by his hair to the foot of the bed, flipping him around so Taehyung’s laying on his back. Then he shoves his cock into Tae’s mouth, without stopping to see if the boy is alright. 

The prostitute chokes as the member hits the back of his throat, trying hard to relax his muscles. He can taste the whipped cream flavored lube on the cock and the slimy texture of precum and he hates it. Air is barely going through his nose until Dongyoung grips him hard and presses the kid’s face into his pubic hair. He wiggles, body writhing on the bed to try and get away from the rough treatment. His tears cloud his vision as he struggles, his saliva dripping down into his hair, and he’s nearly hyperventilating from panic. 

Then without warning, Dongyoung lets out a euphoric grunt, shaking as he comes in Tae’s mouth. Even then, he doesn’t pull out, keeping his dick deep down in the boy’s mouth and caging the kid’s head with his thighs. 

“Swallow all of it,” Dongyoung orders, shaking the prostitute. 

Tae’s eyebrows pull together in a frown as the bitter substance touches his tongue and forces his jaw to slacken further. The hot cum slides down his throat and he gulps it down dutifully. But Dongyoung still refuses to let go. 

Confused and tired, Taehyung tries to back away, only to be slapped for his efforts. Staring up at his abuser, he is met with an unpleasant grin. “Drink it. Swallow it, sweetheart.”

Another liquid enters his mouth and he gags, thrashing on the bed. 

No, he wants to say. NO! But he can’t speak and Dongyoung is squeezing his nose now so that he has no way to take a breath of air unless he empties his mouth. Dongyoung isn’t giving him a way out of this- just like that one time when he pulled out a knife and suggested they play with it. With tears streaming down his face, Taehyung forces himself to swallow. 

Dongyoung steps away, beyond satisfied at the boy’s compliance to his filthy demand. 

Taehyung lays there for a minute more, unable to move, chest heaving. Suddenly, he rolls over, falls off the bed, and vomits.  

Dongyoung is besides him immediately, red faced with fury. He yanks the prostitute up and slaps him across the face, glaring at the floor in disgust. 

“I should make you eat all that shit up,” he hisses. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

Taehyung wails. “What’s wrong with me? What the fuck is wrong with you ?” He puts his hands up over his face as the man lashes out again, punching the side of his jaw. 

“I give you everything, you piece of shit. You’re nothing and yet I still care for you and give you all the trinkets you ask for. But when I want you to suck me off, you can’t even do it properly.”

“You pissed in my mouth!” Tae screams, cowering at the fists but not completely backing away. He had every right to defend himself. Dongyoung shouldn’t have done what he did. 

“And you should’ve done what I asked you to do,” the mobster growls, reaching down for his belt. “The Chameleon won’t have you acting like this. Oh-I hate it when you make me hit you, baby.”

 

 

Taehyung wakes to the sound of birds chirping and sunlight streaming in from a small window. He can already feel the pain from his parched throat, and his mouth tastes like gasoline. There’s a throbbing ache on his chest and all over his lower body. Blinking the sleep from his eyes, he pushes himself up, only to find that his left hand is wrapped in the strong grasp of another. 

A familiar boy lies at his side in deep sleep, hand clenched supremely tight around Tae’s.

For a moment Taehyung is petrified. Where was Dongyoung? If he was alive then that means the monster had taken him back to Shangri-La. 

But this place is definitely not home. And this boy didn’t belong to the mob. Suddenly, the memories of the night comes back to him. The trembling in his legs start again; the fear for this child leaving him a weak mess. opens his mouth and reaches up to touch the little plastic pouch he had hidden between his lips and his upper back teeth. It’s still there, miraculously. He takes it out and wipes the saliva off on his shirt and hides it into the folds of his pants. 

Tae tries to speak, but the only sound that comes out of his mouth is a cracking sound so he nudges the boy instead. 

“A few more minutes, Jung-hyun !” 

The boy shoots up with a smile, but once his eyes land on Taehyung, his entire body stiffens. “You’re not-”

Taehyung shakes his head softly.. 

“No-it’s not- How are you feeling?” 

His wide eyes are round with youth and his lips are red from his nervous biting. Tae couldn’t help but give a smile, albeit rather shyly.

He gives a thumbs up at the kid but points at his throat and pretends to drink from an imaginary cup. 

“Oh! I’ll get you some water right now!”

The boy scrambles to his feet and dashes out of the small bedroom. Tae can hear glass banging on something and the sound of water from the faucet. The fever he had for the last few nights seems to have gone away. What wonders a night of good rest and warm blankets could do. The room he is in is untidy with clothes piled in one corner and a few books scattered across the floor. The space was really only enough for a bed and a small drawer, but Tae finds himself more relaxed than ever. 

Last night, this stranger had called himself a friend, and for some reason Tae finds himself smiling. He had never had someone voluntarily call themselves his friend before. Many people put that label on him and decided that it meant he had to give them whatever they want. This... this is nice. 

“Here!”

A cup of water is shoved under his nose. Forgetting his manners, Taehyung grabs the glass and frantically drains the water. It cools his throat as it goes down, and he hasn’t felt pleasure like this in a while (which is saying something, since he works at a brothel). 

“...thank you,” he manages to croak out.  

The boy smiles, his two front teeth sticking out like a bunny. “No problem.”

“I’m Taehyung.”

“Jungkook.”

They look at each other, silently taking in the other’s profile. Taehyung isn’t complaining- Jungkook is the definition of eye candy. 

“Listen,” Taehyung starts calmly, not wanting to scare the boy. He cringes at the scratchy sound of his voice. “I remember what you did last night.”

The smile drops from Jungkook’s face. 

“I know you probably don’t want to hear this now, but...we need to leave.” 

“You’re kidding,” Jungkook breathes, pupils blown wide. “Why?”

The pink haired boy sighs. “They’ll come after us and they’ll kill you for what you did to Dongyoung.” He looks down at his shaking hands, fighting the urge to reach for the plastic pouch. “And they’ll kill me for trying to escape again.”

“Who are they ?”

Grimacing, Tae explains, “ They are a group of dangerous men, Jungkook, led by a particular bad man known as the Chameleon. He…he has it in for me and I’m not sure why. You don’t understand how much danger you’re in because you’ve never dealt with them before, but I know exactly what they can do and believe me, it’s that bad.” 

The younger boy doesn’t speak for a second, eye closing. Taehyung watches him with worry. What if he didn’t want to leave? He most likely still has family and he’s young. Tae doesn’t blame him for being scared, but he knows that if they stay, the mob would come for them within days. 

“I don’t have a family,” Jungkook announces, not daring to look at Tae. “I have nowhere to go and no one to go to. So...if you have any ideas, I’m in.” 

“You’re like me,” Tae responds gently. “I don’t have a family either, but there was someone I knew a long time ago who still owes me a favor. If we can get to him, he’ll help.”

“What’s the catch?” Jungkook questions, wary of the way Pinky hesitates.

“...He’s in California.”

 

 

“So, how much money is in that damn thing anyways?”

Jungkook shrugs, “Let’s see.”

He picks up Dongyoung’s wallet and flips it open unceremoniously. Inside he finds condoms, a driver’s license, a few credit cards, and three hundred dollars. 

“Not bad,” Taehyung muses, grinning. “It could get us pretty far.”

“Not really,” the other boy mutters. “We need to eat and we need places to sleep.” 

After some planning and deciding, Jungkook has packed everything he needs and a few intimate belongings. He tries to avoid staring at the other boy; he isn’t sure if he can control himself at the sight of tantalizing bronze skin and long fluttering lashes. Taehyung sits on the bed, tracing the cut on his nipple. 

“He could’ve cut it into a pattern,” he joked. “Now it’ll look like a long nipple hair when it heals.”

Jungkook had snorted which made Pinky smile.

“You can take a shower if you’d like,” Jungkook offers. “Bathroom’s on the left side. I need to sort some of the stuff I’m gonna bring.”

After Taehyung had skipped off, Jungkook pulls out the gun. 

He is relieved that V hadn’t seen it yet, but it is only a matter of time before he finds out about it. At least for now, he doesn’t have to explain it. Jungkook has never held something so dangerous in his life; the closest he’s come to holding one was a bb gun back in middle school. 

The little bulb in his other hand is proof enough of danger they’re in. He hopes he doesn’t have to use it. Only for emergencies , he tells himself. 

Shaking his head, he quickly shoves the handgun into the back of his jeans, along with the grenade. 

 

 

The first thing they do is alter their appearances. 

Taehyung had convinced him that it was absolutely essential to getting out of the Big Apple. His bright pink hair would set off all the alarms once they reach the border. 

“There’s only one of me,” he had promised.

Jungkook walks to the nearest convenience store, eyes roaming around restlessly, and purchases two hair dyes. V had insisted that they have a dramatic change so once Jungkook gets home, he proceeds to lather his hair with red coloring. 

Having never colored his hair before, he is proud that the result of his first try is pretty decent. 

Tae had ran his hand through it approvingly, grin wider than Joker’s, before dashing to the bathroom to dye his own. He walks with a slight limp, pulling an injured leg behind him, but the excitement kept him moving. Jungkook doesn’t know how the boy can still be so chirpy and happy after what he had endured, but he somehow seems above the chaos. It was either that or he had grown used to ignoring his pain.

After a few hours of waiting and checking and rechecking the bags, the pink haired boy finally waltzes in- except, this time, his hair isn’t pink. Jungkook’s jaw drops as he takes in the newly dyed brown mullet. It’s shorter than before, but it still hangs low over the boy’s eyes. This new color frames his face nicely and looks amazing in comparison to his tan skin. 

“You-I-it’s- you look great!” he sputters, nearly falling over from standing up so abruptly.

Taehyung’s boxy smile is dazzling. 

 

 

They leave New York with Jungkook’s savings and Dongyoung’s money- a total of two thousand and twenty nine dollars. They swiped one of his credit cards on the day they departed, spending a good hundred dollars on new clothes for Tae and snacks for their long trip. Of course, they wore masks (but Tae said the man had lots of lackeys so they didn’t need to worry). Taehyung had also taken them to a bank, where the withdrawal machines were and slipped one of the cards inside the slot. 

Jungkook had protested, afraid the cameras would pick them up, but the other boy had insisted. Travel money, the boy whispered, hands steadying Jungkook. When it came to inputting the pin, Jungkook’s hand froze. 

Taehyung blinked once before quickly tapping in six numbers. When Jungkook looked questioningly at Tae, the older boy shrugged, acting casual, but the red on his ears said otherwise. My birthday, he said and that was all the explanation he would give. Then they cracked the card in half and tossed it into a garbage can somewhere down the long alleys. 

Jungkook takes one last look at his dingy little apartment, not particularly upset to be finally leaving; he has nothing left there waiting for him. To be honest, Jungkook has been waiting for an opportunity like this, to escape the dreary life that was in Brooklyn. He is getting a fresh start- one that he desperately needed. But it isn’t like Taehyung needed to know that. 

What happens when they get to California is left unspoken. It’s unrealistic for them to stick together once they get there; it isn’t like Jungkook needs to be with the prostitute when they made it to his friend.

You’re already in too deep, love, a little voice warns. Jungkook does what he always does and ignores it. 

For now, he thinks, whatever may happen on the road, at least he’ll be here to protect Tae. 

 

 

“We should jack a car,” Tae muses, as they walk quickly down the streets. Their hoods are pulled up and tightly wound around their faces. To any other citizen, they are just two teenagers trying to get out of the cold spring day. 

The younger boy snorts. “That’ll just put us on their radar faster.”

“Alright, Kook, then how exactly are we gonna leave New York? We only have today, and our deadline is tonight.”

Jungkook doesn’t answer because, to be honest, he has no idea either. 

“Ok,” Tae sighs. “We need to at least get the fuck away from Brooklyn and towards New Jersey. Anywhere below Park Slope belongs to the men I was with so we need to head up towards Manhattan. Verrazano-Narrows Bridge is absolutely out of the question.” 

Nodding, Jungkook and Tae head towards the Brooklyn Bridge. They call a taxi, making use of the extra money they have. 

The drive to Manhattan is in relative silence, Jungkook concerned with the very possible scenario that the Syndicate would catch them and take Tae back. Hell, their taxi driver could even be part of the mob.  Every once in a while, he wipes his sweaty hands on his jeans and catches the attention of the driver, who eyed him suspiciously. He is relieved when they finally make it to their destination. 

In Manhattan, they buy two hot dogs for a quick brunch and munch away on them while speed walking in the direction of the Holland Tunnel. Taehyung leads them, legs moving so fast, they’re a blur. Jungkook doesn’t know how he’s going that fast, even with a limp, but Tae somehow ignores the pain.

“You know where you’re going,” Jungkook huffs, jogging to keep up. His stamina has always been top notch, but the other boy walks faster than he was used to- probably brimming with desperation. 

The brunette nods. “I...spend a lot of time in Manhattan cause our brothel is in the Upper East Side. I’ve been tracing this route for a while.”

Jungkook swallows a lump in his throat. “You wanted to get away.”

“Always,” Tae nods in agreement. 

 

 

Trouble finds them when they reach the Freeman Plaza. 

Taehyung spots them first, ducking into the park and behind the tall bushes. 

“They’re over there, in the fucking cars!”

Jungkook peers over at the tall blacks vans and the men on their cell phones. If he hadn’t been warned, he would’ve assumed they were businessmen like the ones in movies or the men in black from the popular alien franchise. They look angry, like someone pissed in their morning cereal. 

“It’s only been two days,” he whispers incredulously. 

“That’s enough time for news to get around in the Syndicate.” 

Taehyung surveys the area with the younger boy following his lead. The towering buildings surround them like giants, trapping them. The Holland Tunnel is right fucking there, but the vans block them from entering. It would be strange for two children to be on foot on the bridge anyways. 

“They probably won’t recognize you yet. Spread out and calm down,” Tae orders. “I’ll figure something out.”

“Can’t we call another taxi?” 

“Too conspicuous. They’re scanning every yellow.” 

Jungkook nods numbly, unable to stop the trembling in his hands. He stands unsteadily, almost tripping if not for a warm guiding hand on his back.

“Don’t worry, Kook, I’ve got us.”

Jungkook walks into the park, scanning across the area packed with children and families. The sun shines brightly, reflecting off the cars passing by. He has to squint in order to look around and what he sees scares him to death. 

Men in black suits and ear pieces roam casually along the entire premise, stalking, waiting for someone- Taehyung. 

Swallowing he tries to do what Tae instructed and sits down on an empty chair, forcing a smile on his tight face. The older boy had allowed him to bring his phone so he whips it out and pretends to scroll through his feed. In reality, he bites his lip and looks for Tae in the sea of faces. 

Some of the men were staring in his direction, which only made him more uncomfortable. He had killed one of their men, for God’s sake , and he had run away with one of their prostitutes. No wonder they wanted to get Tae back and possibly kill him. 

Jungkook doesn’t know how long he sits there, pretending to be a normal high schooler, but it doesn’t take very long for Taehyung to return. A sudden sound catches his attention. He turns to the left and finds the brunette sitting comfortably on a chair next to him. 

“Don’t say anything,” comes Tae’s command. “Just listen.” 

His mouth hardly moves as he speaks, “I just met a family heading to Princeton, New Jersey to visit their son. I told them I was heading there too, with a friend, and they told me that they can give us a lift there.” 

He tilts his head to a group of people with two children who were smiling and taking pictures.

“Meet me over there in five and act like you know them well.”

With that, the boy stalks off to the family, greeting them like he was a part of them. Jungkook waits a few minutes before clenching his hands and bouncing over to them like an over excited kid showing off to his parents. 

 

 

The family was nice enough, asking the boys polite questions and cracking jokes with the kids. He has no idea how the family allowed Taehyung near the kids looking like a young hot mess. The cuts on Tae’s face have turned a nasty purple color and the bright bruise under his eye was spreading, but he somehow still looks beautiful. Jungkook wanted him to wear a mask, but it would only draw more attention.

Jungkook tries to answer their questions, but leaves the pleasantries to V who is a natural pleaser. He gets the mom swooning over him and the children laughing with his sharp tongue. All the while, the younger boy stares out the window. 

They pass by the black vans easily and it seems like the men don’t notice Tae who was seated in the middle seat in the back, hiding from view. 

Relaxing slightly in his seat, Jungkook lets out a sigh of relief. He jumps up when his hand is enveloped in warmth, but smiles when he sees Tae peering up at him. 

“You ok?” 

Jungkook nods, but Tae frowns. 

“You did really good earlier,” he whispers, pulling Jungkook down to press his mouth into his ear. “I’m proud of you.”

“Whatever,” Jungkook laughs, lightly punching the boy away to hide the heat on his cheeks. He hadn’t really done anything. V grins wider, but his hand doesn’t let go of Jungkook’s. They continue to stare at each other, the yellow light of the bridge illuminating their faces. In the dark, he feels peaceful, pressed close to the other boy in the quiet space, unaware of the time that passes.  

Until the car suddenly comes to a halt in the dark tunnel. 

“What the fuck?” 

The mother and father were scowling at the traffic ahead. 

“Seems like some people are blocking the cars in front.”

Tae shoots up at the loud voices outside. 

“Kook...” he starts, tugging at the redhead’s sleeve. “I-ah!” He yelps at the loud bang that echoes in the cave. 

The mom goes insane. “Was that a gun?!”

They are searching for someone and Jungkook has a sinking feeling he knew exactly who they were trying to find. 

 All around them, people are jumping out of their cars and running down the tunnel and Jungkook and Taehyung follow suit. 

The mom and dad are trying to pull the kids out but are stampeded by the chaotic crowd. So Jungkook grabs one of the girls and clutches her to his chest. The other one is hurriedly scooped up by Tae who takes one determined look at Jungkook and gestures at the light down the bridge.

“They can’t get us here, Kook!” 

With a nod, Jungkook is about to reply, but out of nowhere, a man is screeching and pointing at Taehyung. 

“Get them!” 

Jungkook shares one last look at Taehyung before he grabs his hand and starts running. 

With one hand, he presses the girl tightly against him, and with the other, he guides V. He shoulders his way to the front, ignoring the hands that scratch at his face and tear at his clothes. Jungkook uses his body to shield Tae from the madness ahead.

As the light gets closer, Tae suddenly screams. 

“Fucking let go of me, you fucking creep!” He cries, shoving and twisting away from a man who had a thick arm around Tae’s elbow. It was the arm that held the other child and Jungkook panics. 

With a rapid turn, Jungkook lands a strong kick to the man’s knee which brings him down immediately. Before the prostitute could even open his mouth, they were running again. 

This time they run into daylight and right into the chest of a police officer.

 

...

 

Jungkook watches them, body petrified and mouth dry. Most of the people in the tunnel are now occupying part of a massive parking lot behind a shopping center. Tents have been set up with emergency operations performing check ups on the citizens and calming down distressed parents. Luckily, no one was killed.

The police had arrived at the scene right on time. Jungkook heard it had been dubbed, “a terrorist attack,” and he isn’t about to be an idiot and point out what was really happening. He is just glad that they made it into New Jersey. If they hadn’t gotten out of New York when they did, then they probably would never have another opportunity. 

Taehyung sits by his side, bleeding from his head and smiling. The family had given them hugs and the mom couldn’t stop thanking them for protecting the children. They were off getting checkups but promised to fulfil their end of the promise to drive them to Princeton. 

Jungkook could tell Tae was masking his pain with a bright grin. The cuts on his thighs were no doubt reopened by their strenuous run (judging from the way the boy was hunched over and sitting awkwardly on the bench). 

“Are you ok?” Jungkook whispers. 

“My ribs hurt a little, but otherwise I’m as perky as a red pepper.”

The police had taken the names of the witnesses and were now proceeding to question every stable individual. Both boys were lined up for questioning. It was reasonable for them to be suspicious that terrorists were still among them, but Jungkook was nervous from just being around the feds. One reason being that he had actually murdered a man only a few nights ago. 

One cop walks towards them, his badge reading: Issac.

“Alright,” the cop says, squinting at the paper. “I’m looking for...Vincent?”

“You’re speaking to him,” V pipes up sweetly. 

The man raises an eyebrow. “Alright, Vincent , what’s your last name.”

Taehyung blinks and Jungkook feels his heart stop. “Van Gogh.” 

The expression on Issac’s face screams, “ are you serious .” 

“What? My parents were art fanatics.” the boy replies, eyes wide and innocent. Jungkook fights the urge to roll his eyes. Instead, he vouches for Tae and watches as the brunette is led away by the officer. They make eye contact all through their interviews. When it came to Jungkook’s turn, he uses the alias “Justin” and plays the role as the innocent bystander. 

“No, I have no idea why they targeted us-”

“We were just on our way to visit a big brother, but then they stopped us! We were so scared-”

“Of course we weren’t part of it! We’re just an innocent family going to-”

It wasn’t long before they released him, having confirmed that he wasn’t a threat. Tae meets him with the same smirk, tugging at his arm until Jungkook loops an arm into his. 

“I can’t believe we did it,” he whispers excitedly. 

“It wasn’t exactly a ride in the park,” Jungkook replies, but he can’t stop smiling either. “Now, we need to get you checked up.” 

Rolling his eyes, Taehyung pouts but doesn’t resist as he’s dragged over to a medic stand. 

 

 

Night has settled by the time they reach Princeton, New Jersey. It took only about an hour and a half to get there from the Holland Tunnel, but the questioning stalled them for awhile.

Despite all Jungkook’s urgings, Taehyung adamantly refuses to rent out a room at a small motel. He doesn’t want to spend the little money they have and be treated like a “prissy princess” just because he had a few injuries.

“Let’s save the money for some other time when we want to be pampered. Jungkook, I’m perfectly fine. It’s not like I haven’t been beaten worse than this before.”

At this, the younger boy shut up. How could he respond to something like that? Tae the prostitute had been brought back to reality, but all he wants to do is avoid it for as long as possible. 

So after sharing goodbyes with the family (the mother bursting into tears when hugging Taehyung), they grab their packs and head out down the narrow roads of the small town. It was eerily serene with very few homeless roaming the streets. They each chew on a bag of chips and a stick of string cheese, watering them down with a swig of water in one of the bottles Tae prepared. 

After finding an empty park table, where people would usually have their lunches and host birthday parties, the two boys lay out one of Jungkook’s packed blankets and settle for the night. The layer of frost still leaves a few edges of cloth damp, but otherwise, they’re lucky there’s no rain. Jungkook lays out another blanket on top of them and layers one of his thick jackets over V who was shivering violently. 

Eventually, Jungkook shrugs away his masculinity and pulls Tae into a “no homo” embrace. They’ve already been intimate before- holding hands and pressing up against each other- so why should a hug matter now?

They lay stiffly until the blankets start warm up with their body heat and then they relax, staring up at the twinkling patches of stars. 

Tae speaks first, voice low and soft, “I’ve never been this far from home.”

Jungkook lets out a small breath in response. “Me too,” he admits. 

It was frightening how far they were from New York. Princeton wasn’t exactly an extremely long distance from Brooklyn, but just the travelling and the escape were enough to remind them of the severity of the situation they were in. They had fled Brooklyn with practically nothing but the clothes on their backs. In one whole day, they only travelled a distance that would take a short three hours to get to by car. He didn’t want to know how long it would take for them to get to California and have to evade the mob simultaneously. 

Jungkook hadn’t been afraid when they were leaving New York, but now that they were in a completely different state, he was starting to feel the nervous wave of fear. What were they supposed to do now? They had, without a single shred of doubt, no one . And if they somehow made it to Los Angeles, how were they expected to find Tae’s friend? He could be anywhere in that big bustling city. Jungkook didn’t know a lot about anything, but he did know that California is busy and full of things happening. 

“We just have to keep going,” the brunette suddenly voices, as if reading Jungkook’s mind. He turns his intense eyes to the redhead. “For the record, I’m glad it was you. I’m glad you are the one I’m doing this with.”

Taken aback by the sudden sentiment, the words are caught in Jungkook’s throat. 

“I...I’m glad you have me too- wait- I’m...urg!” He stops himself before he could say something embarrassing again. Taehyung giggles in response, dropping his head onto Jungkook’s chest. 

“I’ll take that as an ‘I don’t regret running away with a strange prostitute.”

They fall asleep with their legs intertwined and Taehyung with his body wrapped all over the younger boy. 

 

 

When Jungkook wakes up, Taehyung isn’t lying besides him anymore. For a second, he is convinced that Tae has abandoned him. He frantically searches the area until he spots the brunette sitting under a tree, his back facing him. 

“Tae!” 

Said boy jumps up, quickly turning around and bringing his hands behind him.

“You scared the fuck outta me, Kook!”

Jungkook runs over to him, bringing him into a hug. He blinks away angry tears, all his emotions causing a storm inside him.

“I thought you left me!” he cries, hands tightening around the slim boy. 

“Aww, such a crybaby!” V coos, hands coming up to hug Jungkook’s back. “We’re a team now. I would never do that to you! Where you go, I go, okay?” 

Jungkook nods, unable to speak. The relief that he feels at the cold touch of the prostitute should have set off all his alarms, but he pushes them away. 

 

 

Time moves on and Jungkook doesn’t bother trying to keep track of the days anymore. It’s not as difficult as he would’ve thought to be on the road with Tae. Whenever he needed to piss, he’d go by the side of the road. He preferred to find an actual bathroom, but had given up after a few tries in some random diners ended with him getting embarrassed and red faced. 

They ate mostly junk food, but sometimes they’d stumble across some farms or open markets. Tae’s fingers are quick and they would get to eat a handful of free fruits when the days became increasingly hotter. Jungkook never thought dirt crusted cherries or oranges could be so tasty.

The only thing that irritated him was the dirt accumulating under his fingernails and the peeling skin on his shoulders (none of them had bothered to bring sunscreen and he kind of regrets that). Walking in cold weather didn’t help especially under the burning sun. When he looked at himself in the mirror, he almost didn’t recognize this new golden skinned boy with light hair and red caffed lips. Tae, however, didn’t seem to care about the dirt on his hands and Jungkook’s mud splatter pants he had stained and ripped. 

In Lancaster, Pennsylvania, the boys stumble upon a festival. Temporarily forgetting their escape, Taehyung shrieks in joy and heaves Jungkook over. 

The journey to Pennsylvania had been a difficult one. They ducked their heads at each passing car, afraid that it would belong to the Syndicate. When they were purchasing lunch at a diner, a group of men in black had entered from the opposite entrance, causing the boys to bolt for the exit. 

The festival is loud and rousing and rowdy. Jungkook finds himself being pulled into the center and he doesn’t have the heart to complain (that much).

“Tae, we need to get further from New York!” 

The brunette sticks out his lower lip. “Koooookkkkkk,” he complains. “I’ve never been to a festival before. We should at least have some fun if we’re gonna be running for our lives. It’s time to make some memories!”

Another protest is on his tongue, but Taehyung covers Jungkook’s mouth with a large hand. “Besides, don’t you know what festivals have?”

The redhead shakes his head. 

Wiggling his eyebrows, Tae shouts, “Eating contests!”

They disappear into the crowd, Jungkook’s feet moving on their own after the bubbly boy.

It was easy to sign up for the contest- Tae charming his way and sweet talking the women on the judging panel. 

Soon enough, Jungkook is sitting next to ten other men, facing an enormous plate of chicken wings. They are all big and strong, born to eat competitively. Taehyung sits right in the middle with a huge grin plastered on his face, practically bouncing in his chair. He knows they were out of place, surrounded by white people in the middle of Pennsylvania. Jungkook knows he looks good, strong and muscular from all the hours he spent at the gym and all the fights he had gotten into in Brooklyn, but Tae...well, he definitely stands out. 

With his pearly white teeth, sparkling eyes, and wide lips, Taehyung is easily the prettiest man there. His long brown hair contrasts beautifully with his tan skin. His height is impressive for an Asian, but his figure is willowy and supple, unlike the defined body of Jungkook. 

The only concern Jungkook has now is the sheer amount of hungry eyes on Tae. 

The contest is brutal for Jungkook, who isn’t especially hungry. He eats for the pure knowledge that this is the only full meal he’d get in a while. He doesn’t turn into a food monster and shove the wings into his mouth by the fistful. 

That is, however, exactly what Taehyung does. 

After the brunette is crowned the victor, he skips to Jungkook with the medal in his grubby, hot sauce coated fingers. 

“That was fucking awesome!” He proudly presents his winnings, eyes as round as saucers. Red sauce had somehow gotten onto his cheeks and neck, to which Jungkook scowls and attempts to clean with a soft tissue. Tae dunks his head into a water bucket instead, scrubbing the condiments off with his hands. 

The bruises have started to fade, slowly clearing Tae’s face, but they are still strikingly visible. Now it looks like he had just gotten into a fight, rather than before when he looked like he was repeated hit by a car and then trampled on by an elephant. Jungkook smiles when V shakes his head like a dog. 

They store the medal in the bottom of a backpack, continuing their way down the parade of people. They can’t spend too much of their small portion of money, but they still invest in two matching bracelets. Taehyung chooses two rose gold beaded bracelets that enclose into a circle in the middle. 

Promise bracelets, the vendor had told them. For sticking together and always finding a way back when separated.  

It seems appropriate for the situation they are in.

That night, the wind blows colder than ever as they lay in a deserted alley. Jungkook knows they need to move away and get to somewhere warm, but he isn’t sure if he is ready to make the call. So far, Taehyung decided their every move, having the last say in everything they did. 

But the next morning, Jungkook takes one look at Tae’s blue lips and comes to a conclusion that their next stop would be somewhere further south.

 

 

They manage to evade the Syndicate at every rough turn and stretch in their travel.

The biggest hindrance they faced was in Maryland, where they were forced to spend two weeks, slowly moving from Baltimore to Washington. 

The Syndicate had spread out to every part of the state, forcing the boys to turn back at some point and making their way to small town after small town until they somehow made it to Washington. 

It was difficult to get through to each place undetected because they stood out like a sore thumb. There aren’t many Asians in the South. For two Koreans to be passing through- it caused quite a stir among the quiet folks in Maryland. Especially for Tae who was quite a gem. 

Jungkook and Taehyung sought cover from the snow and rain at homeless shelters and hostels. Wherever they went, people always seemed to gravitate towards the brunette. It was just something about his low voice and captivating eyes that brought people in. Many tried to give them money, thinking they were poor or homeless. Others tried to give them food, while the most alarming ones offered to pay Tae for “services.”

One time they tried to corner Taehyung behind the dumpster of a supermarket. When Jungkook found them, they were trying to force him into a car. They only played nice when Jungkook had them pressed against the floor, their faces filthy from the sticky trash and other rotting fruits. 

“Don’t you fucking touch him!” He screams, repeating it like a mantra and crying like a maniac. His fists move on their own accord as he protects Tae. 

The shaking doesn’t stop until Tae has caressed every part of his body and secured his broken pinky.

They lay together on the bed at a motel, staring at each other. The light from the streetlight outside floods into the windows of their room, but neither of them move to shut the curtains. They simply breathe together and it feels like they’re the only ones that exist on the planet. Like the world revolves around them and them alone. Jungkook can feel the crusted tears on his cheeks as Tae shifts even closer and touches his face with one ice cold hand. 

“You saved me again.”

He smells like toothpaste and cheap soap and Jungkook takes it all in. He doesn’t respond; he doesn’t need to. It’s just Tae with him and it shouldn’t be so comforting, but it was. Tae the sweetheart. Tae the gentle boy who loves to eat and sing along to music. Tae the dancer who played with children and made people smile. Jungkook feels something for this boy and at times he can’t even remember who Tae the prostitute was. 

The older boy  uses his hand to brush the red locks away from the cut on Jungkook’s forehead. 

“How’d you get that scar on your face, Kookie?” His forefinger brushes against the healed indent on his left cheekbone. 

“I got into a fight and the boy brought out a razor when he lost.” 

Tae’s eyes are shining. “That must’ve hurt.”

“I’m ok,” Jungkook says. He traces V’s face with gentle hands until he gets to a white scar running down the side of his neck. “What happened here?”

Tae cups the redhead’s hand to his neck, shutting his eyes for a moment, reliving the past. 

“Rope cut me when this guy was choking me,” he finally speaks, voice dripping heavily with sadness and regret. “He didn’t even know I was bleeding cause he was plowing my ass.”

The younger boy freezes. “I’m sorry,” he exhales, the tension returning to his body. 

“It’s ok,” Tae manages, smile coming out as a grimace. 

“Why were you in New York, Tae? Why is this Chameleon guy so adamant on finding you?”

Tae screws his eyes shut. “I’m...I'm just a bad person, Kook. You don’t understand.” 

Jungkook watches him, before spreading his arms out. “C’mere.”

Without another word, Tae throws himself forward until his head is buried into the younger boy’s chest. Jungkook holds him tight, ignoring the numbness spreading through his legs and arm. 

 

 

Taehyung gets spotted at the edge of North Carolina at a small gas station where they had been trying to hitchhike for the last twenty minutes. 

A black mercedes passes by at some point, and they didn’t think too much of it- until it rounds into the parking lot again. Taehyung points it out with a flick of his head. Jungkook casually turns to see it, only for his heart to stop when he realizes the driver is staring right at V’s head. 

The man is talking on his phone, eyes unwavering from the brunette’s tall form. 

“He’s staring at us,” Jungkook mutters. “We need to move.”

“I’m trying,” Tae hisses back. Then he grabs the other boy’s hand and walks briskly into the station. 

Once inside, they dash for the other exit. Luckily there were a few people who had the cashier occupied. Tae quickly scans over the cars. 

“What are you planning, Tae?”

Giving no response, Tae gestures to a truck parked by a gas dispenser. “Get in it,” he commands, pulling Jungkook’s hood down to cover his face. 

Jungkook sputters. “What?” 

The boy gives him a leveled stare, his eyes aren’t joking. “We’re jacking the damn car. That is, if you wanna live. Don’t forget you promised to get me burgers tomorrow.”

Understanding the severity of their position, the younger runs quickly to the car and jumps into the passenger side. He waves his hand at the brunette but only gets a quick head shake. Tae peeks around the corner, head spinning around in a sharp movement. 

Jungkook knows they’re fucked. 

Black suits surround the station, men already getting out of the car. Taehyung disappears around the side of the building and Jungkook can only guess he’s trying to set some sort of distraction before returning. 

For the first time in a long while, he considers using the gun. 

He hadn’t felt the cold lump of worry in his gut since they were in the Holland Tunnel. Every other time, it had been relatively easy to find an escape. This time, they had no way to leave the area, unless Tae hurried up and came back. The keys were in the ignition and Jungkook eyes them with uncertainty. The owner of the car could come over at any moment and take away their opportunity to get away. 

He’s prepared to knock some heads to avoid that.

On one wall of the gas station, Jungkook sees a mass of graffiti and wall art. One in particular stands out to him, painted in baby blues and whites. It’s a five layer circle, going from dark blue to light blue to white to baby blue to a black dot in the center. It stares at him from the wall, seeing through him. With a jolt, he realizes what he’s staring at: a reconstructed evil eye. 

“C’mon, c’mon!” he mutters, wringing his hands. A line of sweat drips down the side of his head. 

Then Taehyung is running at the car, shouting something. His hair is a mess under the dark hoodie and he’s clearly distressed. Jungkook rolls down the windows just in time to hear, “START THE FUCKING CAR!” 

There’s someone running behind him followed by loud voices and phones ringing, but Jungkook doesn’t take another glance. 

He crawls into the driver’s seat and presses the controls. Sure, he had driven before, back in Brooklyn with his friend’s car, but the stress and added pressure from V’s screaming is making him a trembling mess. It is only until Tae jumps into the back and slaps the back seat does Jungkook finally step on the gas. 

The truck speeds down the highway, with Taehyung yelling profanities and sticking his middle finger out at the fading figures behind. 

 

 

They leave the car in a deserted scrap-yard right outside Atlanta. 

In the city, it is much harder to actually find a place to sleep, but they manage to find a shelter still accepting people. The two boys are given a room in a little house by the Piedmont Park. 

Taehyung is delighted by the turn of events, having now travelled what he called a “safe distance” from New York. 

We’re in fucking GEORGIA, Kookie! He had screeched animatedly. Take lots of pictures of me, okay?  

The only useful thing about bringing his phone along was that it recorded most of their memories. Before meeting Tae, his phone only contained about fifty pictures, most of them were pictures of car models that he liked or inspiring quotes. Now it was filled with shots of the brunette, laughing, eating at the Amish festival in Pennsylvania, and sleeping under the stars. His favorite one was of Taehyung peering up at him shyly after eating at a famous little spot in Baltimore. 

It had been especially cold when the picture was taken (Tae had been wearing two sweaters and Jungkook’s yellow bomber jacket), but now they could lounge comfortably in a tee shirt and jeans at night. 

If a stranger ever saw the pictures, they would assume it was two boys on a carefree road trip. The irony makes Jungkook laugh.

On the last night they spend in Georgia, Taehyung and Jungkook leave the hostel for a night out in downtown. The dazzling lights can almost rival the ones back in New York, Jungkook thinks. It suddenly occurs to him that he no longer refers to Brooklyn as home. That thought alone is enough to give his stomach an uncomfortable turn. 

Tae wears a nicer tee shirt, one that hadn’t been destroyed with sweat and dirt from their days on the road. He brushes his hair into curls and wets his lip with some gloss. Jungkook catches himself staring at the boy like he was seeing him for the first time and he curses himself. During their journey so far, he had grown used to avoiding googling at the other boy. But tonight, he looks beautiful, even with some faded bruises. 

He forces them out of the room before he does something stupid (like kissing the other boy- he’s been imagining it for a while). 

The club is filled with loud music and flashing neon lights. It’s a typical hangout for teenagers and young adults- a place of music and sultry eyes. No id cards are necessary for purchasing alcohol so Jungkook heaves a sigh of relief. 

Upon entering, the sound of loud bubbly laughter attracts both their attentions. 

“Who the fuck is laughing like that?” Taehyung demands, a smile is breaking over his wide lips. 

Jungkook shrugs but turns in the direction of the bar, where he catches sight of the most alluring boy he’s ever seen. He has high cheekbones and a sharp pointy nose that looks unrealistically perfect. His light brown hair is swept up as if he’d run a marathon. As if feeling a gaze on him, the stranger turns on que and stares straight at Jungkook. 

Turning away immediately, he does manage to catch a sliver of a smirk on the boy’s face. 

“Let’s go over there, Tae,” he nudges the older boy. 

They step on the dance floor and slide against the roll of bodies together; Jungkook trails behind, unsure and hesitant. Taehyung moves naturally to the beat of the music and runs his hands along everyone who gets too close. He is unperturbed when older men and women grope at his body and even invites them in with a flick of the tongue over his red lips. 

“Why aren’t you dancing, pretty boy?”

He finds himself facing two exceptionally enchanting boys, one being the stranger he had been caught ogling at. 

“It’s Jungkook and I-uh- don’t really do this clubbing thing,” he stammers. 

The alluring boy gives him a bright smile, his lips pulling into the shape of a heart. He turns to his friend, a smaller black haired boy with the plush pink lips and endearing puffy eyes. They giggle together. Jungkook recognizes the smaller boy’s laugh as the one he and Tae heard when they first walked in. 

“Well,” the shorter one says, voice higher than Jungkook had expected, “maybe you’ll loosen up once you get a drink.”

They buy him a bottle of beer, watching expectantly as his fingers hover over it. 

“How old are you?” one boy asks, eyes flickering over Jungkook.

“Twenty-one,” he lies easily. He can’t take his eyes off them, especially the one he first noticed from across the room. His face structure is absolutely out of this world and his skin is flawless. 

“I’m Hoseok, by the way,” the taller one beams, sitting down on Jungkook’s left side. The other boy  slides to his empty side and scoots so close, they’re exchanging body heat. 

“And I’m Jimin,” Plush Lips says as he leans into him. 

Jungkook suddenly feels too hot. He takes a long drink of alcohol after introducing himself and shivers as it warms him going down his throat. He turns back to watch the dancefloor where Taehyung is grinding against a much older man, his head thrown back in ecstasy. 

“Who is that ?” Jimin asks, eyes hungrily watching. 

Jungkook feels a pinch of anxiety, “He’s with me.” 

Jimin laughs. “Of course! We saw you guys come in, but seriously, where did you find someone like that?”

“Like what?” Jungkook asks without thinking.

Hoseok and his friend share another chuckle. “C’mon, pretty boy, you’ve got to be kidding. Can’t you see how fucking gorgeous your boyfriend is?”

Jungkook flushes. “He’s- he’s not my boyfriend,” he mutters, hands shaking as he takes another sip. 

Jimin smirks. 

“I’m gonna go dance with him,” he states before skipping over and slotting himself between Taehyung and the older man. Jungkook watches with his jaw hanging open, as Jimin whispers something to the taller boy and Taehyung’s boxy smile makes another appearance. 

“So,” Hoseok touches the redhead’s shoulder, distracting him from the glorious view, “do you come here often?” 

“Really?” he asks, starting to smile, “That’s the question you ask me?”

The other nods, but his cheeks are light pink. 

“What brings you here, Jungkook?”

Maybe the drink was preventing him from thinking carefully or he felt like he couldn’t lie to such a beautiful boy, but whatever it was, Jungkook opens his mouth and the first thing he says is, “We ran away.”

“Oh?” 

Hoseok’s grin seems strained suddenly. 

“Yea,” he continues, his mouth unable to stop now that he’s started. “From New York. We’ve been running from some people.” 

Jungkook tries to turn the attention onto the other boy in order to avoid talking about the heavier parts of their history. “Where are you guys from?”

“Florida,” Hoseok responds automatically and before Jungkook could ask them another question, the taller man shoots one at him.

“Where’re you headed?”

“California, because Tae and I are meeting a friend.” It’s as close to the truth as it could get.

“What a coincidence! Me and Minie are heading there too!” The boy exclaims.

Before Jungkook can reply, a high pitched howl comes from the dancefloor. 

“What the fuck are you trying to do?!”

They whip around to see a girl grabbing the collar of Taehyung’s shirt, pulling him down to her level. He’s grimacing and trying to tear himself away, but she’s screaming into his ear. 

“I told you to back off, you slut! Don’t touch my boyfriend! You queers are so disgusting!”

A man stands by her side, trying to soothe her, but it’s no use. 

Taehyung says something to her and Jungkook watches as she turns a shade redder, like a plum, and then she’s bringing her hand down. Her fist connects heavily to Jimin’s face, who has pushed the taller boy behind him in the split second she decided to lash out. 

Hoseok cries out in protest, pulling Jungkook up and sprinting over. But Jimin acts faster and slaps her across the face with the same force that she had used on him. 

“How’s that for equality, bitch?” Jimin barks. 

She lets out a sob and instantly falls onto the floor.

“Oh c’mon! Fucking fake bitch,” Hoseok growls. 

A spark of regret flashes in the boy’s eyes before Hoseok and Jungkook are there. 

“Get down!” Jungkook screams, blocking Jimin from the girl’s boyfriend who tries to land a punch. His buddies don’t look pleased with his intervention and step into the fight, ready for blood. 

Hoseok’s face loses all of his earlier sunshine, and he brings his fists up. 

Jungkook had been countless fights before so he isn’t frozen in shock like Taehyung. He lets his instincts take over, lashing out at every person who tries to get close and protects the three boys by his side. The other group gets him a few times, but he can hardly feel anything due to the high rush of adrenaline in his system. Fortunately, it seems like Hoseok and Jimin both know what they’re doing as well, their swings landing on every target and pushing the men back one after another. 

The brawl lasts only a few minutes until the flashing red and blue lights appear through the windows of the club and the buffers are hollering. The four boys clasp hands and rush out, fleeing the scene without a backward glance. 

“Holy fuck!” Jimin shouts, arms extended out. Taehyung is whooping and Hoseok is laughing uncontrollably. Jungkook joins them, hooting and laughing down the dark street, running as if he has somewhere to go. 

 

 

After Taehyung has helped all of them bandage and clean the cuts and bruises they sustained during the fight, they settle onto the small bed in the hostel’s room. Hoseok goes out to retrieve his and Jimin’s bags, hidden at an abandoned construction site further up the road. Jungkook volunteers to accompany him in case any of the guys at the club decided to follow them and jump him. 

He comes back to Jimin inspecting Tae. 

“No, but really, are you okay?” Jimin asks, touching Taehyung gently all over his arms and face, a frown pushing up his eyebrows. They’re sitting pressed up against each other, the space between them intimately close. 

“Excuse me,” Hoseok speaks, “Honey, are you cheating on me? Who is this brat?”

Jimin doesn’t turn to face them, but he’s smiling from where he’s huddled with Tae. “Oh, babe, I’ve been seeing Tae Tae for two years now. I’ve been wanting to tell you but…” 

They burst into laughter, Jimin throwing himself at the brunette who catches him and they fall over in the bed. Jungkook stands there awkwardly, shifting from one leg to another.

Sensing his discomfort, V gets up off the bed and quickly pulls Jungkook back outside. 

“C’mon, Kookie, I need some fresh air.”

They step outside, closing the door behind them. Jungkook leans against the wall and Tae snuggles up to him, getting underneath Jungkook’s arm and hugging his waist. 

“So,” Taehyung begins, eyes twinkling under the lights of the city. 

“Tonight was a mess,” the redhead sighs. 

“Oh, Kook,” the older boy squeals, cupping Jungkook’s face with his warm palms. “You were so cool back there!. You went- BAM- and -SMACK- and I was so amazed! Where’d you learn to fight like that?”

With a grudging smile, Jungkook is significantly cheered up. Tae’s compliments shouldn’t affect him this much, but they do and he can’t find the heart to stay mad at this cheerful boy. 

They talk for a while more (more of Taehyung excitedly telling Jungkook what Jimin had talked to him about), before they finally get to the more important matters. They needed to leave in the morning and when the redhead tells Tae what Hoseok had said about heading in the same direction, they grow quiet. 

“What do you think of them?” Tae asks, slipping a hand into Jungkook’s arm. 

“I like them. I really do,” he answers honestly.

Taehyung nods. “You know...Minie told me that they want to come with us and we made quite the team back there...” 

His statement sounds more like a question and the redhead understands it. 

“Are you sure? It could be-”

“I know,” Tae replies. “I know, but I- I really like him, Kookie.”

He knows that there is a danger in travelling with a bigger group, especially with their risky situation. Escapes would be more difficult with more people and finding places to stay would be near impossible- unless they keep going to motels. Four people would gather more attention. 

Jungkook also knew that they would eventually have to disclose the real truth behind their trip and it would probably make Jimin and Hoseok hate them. Moreover, the two would be put in great peril if the Syndicate noticed that they were involved with the runaways, yet… Jungkook couldn’t deny that he liked the other two. 

Someone famous once said, alone we can do so little, but together we can do so much , and Jungkook thinks that maybe they should try it. Afterall, it was better than being isolated without a single friend. He takes Taehyung’s hand and runs his fingers lightly against the promise bracelet that neither of them had taken off since Pennsylvania. 

“...Maybe they should.”

The brunette smiles and then he runs inside to their room. Jungkook follows behind with a tentative quirk in the corner of his mouth.

 






Seokjin squints at the two packages of beef ribs, unsure of which to pick. Yoongi is leaving tomorrow at five am and he wants everything to be perfect.

He already planned this day for the past week. 

He will cook for the three of them tonight, (all the food that the younger man likes) then they’ll drop him off at the airport in the morning, and give him kisses for a safe journey. He’ll make galbi and bulgogi and an octopus stew with rice and japchae. Namjoon and Yoongi both love meat (he’d know- he’s been with them for the past five years). 

First thing this morning, he had already checked off everything Yoongi needed for his trip. He had sent both men to work and packed Namjoon’s  lunch for tomorrow and was left to his devices until it was time for dinner prep. 

After he has checked off his long grocery list, his driver helps him load up the trunk and off they go to the spacious Bel Air mansion. 

Yoongi loves their house- he was the one who chose if after searching for months. Namjoon fought over it with him, flabbergasted at the amount that Yoongi was just willing to give up for a “place they would only eat and sleep in.” 

His words.

“You forgot shit, cook, and have sex,” was all Yoongi would reply with. And just like that, he won the argument and they moved in a month later. 

Seokjin didn’t really mind. The bedroom was large enough for a bed that the three of them could fit into (and maybe two more people to be honest), the bathroom had a bathtub he could have bubble baths in, the kitchen was wide enough to fit two refrigerators and all the sweets he could bake, and the garden was as expansive as the garden in Versailles. 

It’s never really lonely because the Kims’ men are always willing to talk to sweet Seokjin and willing to be guinea pigs for his homemade oils and lotions.

He never imagined this kind of luxury before Namjoon rescued him from the Syndicate. 

Back then, when he was still a prostitute, he had to give and give and give. He traded his youth for money and drugs. Seokjin couldn’t remember exactly how he ended up in New York, but at some point, he had been forced into the business by a particularly despicable man who was referred to as “The Chameleon”. He and his underboss, Dongyoung, had ripped apart all his self-esteem and confidence. 

The only thing that had kept him sane was a fourteen year old boy who was brought in during a scorching hot summer. 

When he closes his eyes he can still see the wide eyed boy who looked up to him for everything. Taehyung had been his little baby, never crying or bitter, even after he started taking clients at fifteen and learning the ways of the nightlife girls. Dongyoung appointed Jin as Tae’s guardian, forcing him to teach the boy everything there was to know about having safe sex, how to make a man remember him, how to flutter his lashes to attract attention, and how to avoid Dongyoung’s rage. 

They made so many memories together and Taehyung clung to him like a koala. 

The only thing he regrets was not being the boy’s first. Dongyoung had volunteered to do it, and even when Seokjin could’ve easily intervened and pulled Tae away, he was just too afraid at the time. The sounds of Tae whimpering and crying will forever haunt his nightmares.

He left when Taehyung was only seventeen. 

Namjoon was a tall, soft spoken man, who had met Jin at a gala when Dongyoung brought him along to attend. He had been alone in the corner of the room, tugging uncomfortably at the sleeves of his stiff dress shirt when the man approached him and started a conversation. 

During the course of the night, Namjoon had brought out something in him that he believed had been squashed in his years of service. The man was surprising younger than him, but his eloquent speech and gentle smile added many years to him. Jin never believed in love at first sight, but if it did exist, then he would’ve used it to describe how he felt for Joon. 

Yoongi was the established partner of Namjoon, but it didn’t stop Seokjin from falling for him either. He was intrigued by the man who was a bottle of contradictions. He was shorter than Jin and Namjoon, but his shoulders were just as wide and his hands were even bigger. His blonde hair was styled to reveal sharp monolid eyes and long lashes. He seemed quiet and pale, like a princess, but when he spoke, his voice was the loudest; no one in the room could look away. Jin fell hard, but they fell harder. 

Four months. The two men came back to see him whenever they could for four months, before they offered to take him away. 

I’ll take care of you, Yoongi promised. You’ll never have to do this again. You never have to give again. 

You said you’re a freak, but we’re freaks too, Namjoon had whispered to him, as they laid in bed together. Yoongi was smoking a cigarette on one side of Jin, holding his hand. Namjoon was pressed up against him on the other side, brushing his hair back and looking at him with the tenderest of eyes. Come to California with us and be a freak with me.

And Seokjin believed them and he wanted them. 

Of course, Namjoon and Yoongi’s interests did not go by unnoticed by the Syndicate. People started whispering about Seokjin’s retirement and plan to move away. There was a struggle that had blown out of proportion.

The Chameleon hadn’t intervened, but Dongyoung threatened him every second he could. 

You leave and watch what I’m gonna do to your beloved Tae Tae. He’ll just replace you in my bed. 

Jin had tried his hardest to ignore him, but the threats drained him. He knew he had to get away. If he ever wanted to save Taehyung, then he needed to be in a position where he could act and really do something. 

Unbeknownst to Dongyoung, Yoongi had planned the escape meticulously. Seokjin would take his client dutifully and once they were home, slip a sedative into the mobster’s nightly glass of cognac. Then he’d slip downstairs and through the lobby, where the receptionist would be apprehended by one of their men, and finally into Namjoon’s waiting black car. 

Once in California, he tried- he really tried- to go back and get Tae, but to no avail. All his efforts were fruitless and it seemed that the Chameleon had put iron holds over the boy. Security had tightened after his escape and the brothel was moved to another secret location in New York. 

He wishes they could’ve taken Tae that night. 

He wishes the Chameleon will never lay his hands on Taehyung, but a part of him knows that that would be impossible. The boy had been otherworldly beautiful when he was first brought in and he would’ve only grow to be even more breathtaking. Taehyung gathered too much attention and he willingly gave himself to all his clients. The Chameleon would no doubt, take him away too. 

Used goods, Dongyoung had spat at him as he took his last customer. You will never be anything more than used goods. 

But he was wrong. And the last five years spent with Namjoon and Yoongi had taught him that. 

Yoongi and Namjoon didn’t expect anything from him, but wanted him to receive everything from them. They gave him unconditional love and support. They were there for him at nights when the nightmares grew too real and sent him screaming and attacking everything that got too close. They ate his first attempt at baking. They supported him when he enrolled back in school and were with him through the firsts of his normal life. 

He is entirely and utterly in love with them. 

When Namjoon gets back home from work, Jin is turning the ribs over the grill, wiping the sweat from his forehead. 

“Hey baby,” he says, pulling Jin in for a soft kiss. 

“Scootch!” Jin laughs, pushing his lover away. “I’m busy!”

“What can I do to help?” the taller man asks, voice a tad bit seductive. 

“Let me see,” Jin pretends to think. “Why don’t you set the table, make the bed, wash the laundry, and help me get some veggies from the garden?”

Namjoon groans. “I meant something- oh nevermind!” 

He’s about to stalk off when Jin smacks him on the ass and presses a kiss to his nape. 

“Get to it, sexy!”

Namjoon’s loud frustrated howls echo through the house. 

Jin settles to watching the meat cook, nose twitching at the amazing smells. Every once in while he peeks at the clock. Ten minutes before Yoongi gets back. He excitedly changes into a soft pink tee shirt and sparkly dress pants. Namjoon changes into nicer clothes as well, adapting to Jin’s wishes. He even combs his platinum hair back to reveal his thick eyebrows and helps Jin apply a touch of lip gloss. 

But four minutes after Yoongi’s usual arrival, they sit in silence, waiting.

“Where is he?” Seokjin worries his upper lip. “He’s never late!”

Namjoon tuts. “Oh don’t worry about it, honey, he probably just wandered off in the wrong direction trying to get flowers for you or something.”

He picks up his chopsticks and tries to grab a piece, but the older man slaps his grabby hands away. Sadly, Joon eyes the steaming meats. 

Eventually, after twenty more minutes of waiting (Namjoon gets a piece of meat into his mouth), Yoongi walks through the front door, the side of his suit and hair dripping with water. His bodyguard by his side is biting back a smile. 

“What happened?” Jin asks, quickly running to his lover with a kitchen towel. 

Yoongi shrugs, a small awkward grin on his face. His left hand, which had been hidden behind his back, comes around with a weeping, soaked bouquet of daisies. He holds them out for Jin to take. “Umm...I might've been splashed by a passing car.”

“You tried to protect the flowers with your body, didn’t you?” Namjoon asks, calling out from where he was munching on bulgogi. 

“He did,” the Kims’ bodyguard laughs from the doorway. Joon winks at him.

Jin takes the flowers, a pained expression marring his beautiful face. 

“Oh, Yoongi- I- you didn’t have to!”

The blonde nervously looks away. “You- probably cooked and worked hard today. I wanted to get you something nice, but you can throw them away if you don’t like them.”

“Of course I can’t do that!” Seokjin gasps. “I love them, Yoongs! I really do!”

The two lovers help Yoongi change out of his wet clothes and down into the chair right in the middle of the wide array of foods. Jin puts the daisies into a vase and props them up so they don’t droop. Everytime he looks over at the bright yellow hue, his heart feels squishier. 

They eat together as always. 

One of the only rules they had in the house is that everyone must eat their breakfast and dinners as a group. None of them usually broke this one because Jin cooked the best meals and baked the most delicious treats. 

Yoongi and Jin check the luggage one more time after dinner (Seokjin does most of the work), before retiring to the master bedroom, preparing for when they must wake at five am to send Yoongi to the airport. Neither one of them is eager to sleep because once they awake, their beloved lover will have to leave for Las Vegas. 

Jin lays his head on the firm muscles of Namjoon’s arm, pressing his face into the man’s chest. Yoongi is pressed against his back, engulfing him in warmth. He can stay like this forever, in the comforting smell of his lovers and safe in their arms. 

There’s no reason he can’t, except for one little ache at the back of his heart. 

As he lays in this comfort and luxury, Taehyung is sleeping alone in an empty bed, waking to another day of service. Dongyoung is still abusing him and clients are forcing him to perform lewd acts. Taehyung, the baby boy who loved to be the little spoon for Jin, is still suffering back there in New York while Seokjin can do whatever he wishes. 

When Yoongi returns from this business trip, he swears to himself, he’ll try to get Tae out again. It’s a promise and this time, Jin won’t give up until he can wrap his arms around his little boy.