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take the money and run

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The conversation between them went a little something like this:

Johnny, glancing back at Taeyong through the rearview mirror, “I think you’ve got to dye your hair.”

Taeyong, immediately scoffing with a frown, “Fuck you.”

“That’s all fine and good,” Johnny continued, still eyeing Taeyong’s very prominent black and white hair. “But I’ve still got to dye it.”

“Why the fuck do I have to dye my hair?” Taeyong asked sharply.

“Because we’re literally going back through the city where you were last seen at and I’m sure there’s about a million cops swarming the area looking for you,” Johnny explained calmly. “And I don’t really think it’s the best idea for you to be strolling around town looking the exact same as your mugshot.”

Taeyong huffed and looked out the window at all the passing greenery. They were literally in the middle of nowhere and had been for the past hour and a half. He was practically dying of boredom.

“Aren’t you supposed to be turning me into the cops?” Taeyong finally asked, his voice low. “What’s it matter if they find me with you?”

Johnny didn’t respond to that. There was a long pause after Taeyong’s question as Johnny continued to stare at him through the mirror. Taeyong had half a mind to say something smart to get him to stop but before he could, Johnny was shaking his head and returning his eyes back onto the road ahead of him.

“You’re dying your hair,” he said, his words dripping with a sense of finality. Taeyong rolled his eyes in response.

Which, of course, is why the two of them ended up in the bathroom of some convenience store with Taeyong fighting off Johnny who was currently trying to bleach his fucking hair with $15 dye that Taeyong was sure would break all of his hair off in an instant.

“I’m not putting that in my fucking hair!” Taeyong seethed through his teeth, kicking Johnny away from on top of the sink.

“Yes, you are!” Johnny hissed back, pushing Taeyong’s legs down with one hand. The bottle came dangerously close to Taeyong’s wet scalp again and Taeyong screeched.

Suddenly, there was a knock on the door. Both Taeyong’s and Johnny’s head snapped in the direction it had come from. The bathroom was filled with the sounds of their panting for a long moment.

Then, “Is everything okay in there?”

Taeyong opened his mouth to scream that no, it was not okay but Johnny was quick to muffle his cries for help with his hand. He did it in a way where it would be hard for Taeyong to actually bite him which Taeyong was impressed by. Johnny clearly had learned his lesson from earlier.

“It’s fine!” Johnny shouted back. “Thank you!”

There was a pause. Whoever was on the other side of the door was clearly lingering. When they finally walked away, Taeyong continued to stare at the door. What the fuck kind of employee left what had clearly sounded like—and, to be frank, was —a hostage situation?

Unfortunately, Johnny took advantage of him being distracted and it wasn’t long until Taeyong felt something cold and wet drip into his scalp. He squealed and went to fight Johnny off again but Johnny was stronger, pulling him down and off of the sink and flipping him around. Taeyong struggled as more of the cheap bleach went into his hair, coughing as some went into his mouth due to Johnny’s trouble with getting it all in neatly.

“I am going to fucking kill you!” Taeyong shouted angrily, uncaring of the attendant on the other side of the door.

“Stop moving,” Johnny said back. “You’re only making it worse for yourself.”

As it turned out, what Johnny said was true. Him fighting and struggling the entire time that Johnny tried dying his hair had resulted in it coming out in two different colors of blonde. The top had turned a platinum blonde because of how light his hair had already been there and the back was barely a soft brown. Taeyong stared at himself in the mirror for a long moment, ignoring Johnny standing behind him, smiling and so very clearly proud of himself and his work. This was too much. Taeyong could handle being humiliated and forced around but this? This was the last straw.

Taeyong started crying. It was dumb and embarrassing and the last thing he wanted was for Johnny to think he was weak but he couldn’t fucking do it anymore. Over the past couple of days, he had been kidnapped, held against his will and forced to spend every waking moment with some clumsy idiot from Chicago who had mated him without once considering the consequences. Taeyong was fucking stressed. Even if he hadn’t shown it, he was. And as if somebody was looking over him and making his life even harder than it already was, Johnny had made him look like an asshole with $15 convenience store dye.

“Holy shit,” Johnny said, noticing the tears falling down Taeyong’s cheeks almost immediately. “Dude, are you crying?”

Johnny came around his front to get a good look at his face and Taeyong whined, quickly pushing him away. It was already embarrassing enough for him. He didn’t need Johnny to be right in his face while it was happening.

“Why are you crying?” Johnny asked, the uncertainty clear in the way he spoke.

“Because you fucked up my hair!” Taeyong shouted back, voice thick through his tears. 

“It’s not,” Johnny cut himself off to go around Taeyong’s front again. “It’s not that bad.”

“Yes, it is!” Taeyong seethed. “You kidnapped me, you bonded me and now I look like a Golden fucking Retreiver because of you!”

Johnny went quiet after that. Taeyong didn’t care. He sat there for awhile trying to calm himself down, wiping furiously at his eyes. He didn’t dare look at himself in the mirror knowing that the sight of his stupid hair and blotchy face caused by his crying would only set him off even more.

“Hey,” Johnny said softly, lifting up a hand to scratch at the back of his neck. “I’m sorry, man. I didn’t think you’d get this upset.”

“Fuck you,” Taeyong mumbled, sniffling. He had started to settle down a little. 

Before Johnny could say anything else, another knock was sounding off at the door. Taeyong moved away from the mirror in order to avoid his reflection as Johnny stared at him a moment longer before finally turning towards the door.

“Yeah?” Johnny called.

“You both have to get out,” a different voice from earlier said. “I’m all for the LGBT community but we kind of have a rule against fucking in our bathrooms.”

Taeyong wished they were fucking. Not because he wanted to, but because if they had been doing that, Johnny wouldn’t have had the time to ruin his hair.

“We—Dude, we’re not fucking in here,” Johnny responded, scoffing a bit.

There was a pause. Then, “Still. Get out.”

Taeyong wanted to leave. He didn’t want to see himself and being as far away from a mirror sounded like the best possible way to avoid that. He wiped at his pink nose and sniffled once more before, standing up a little straighter, shaking his head.

Johnny blinked over at him. He sighed. Taeyong only stared down at the beanie that was offered over to him. Johnny shook it impatiently when Taeyong didn’t make a move to take it.

“I can’t fix it right now but I can at least help you cover it,” Johnny explained, shaking the hat again. “Take it.” 

Taeyong hesitated a moment longer. Then, he gave in and accepted the hat from Johnny. He pulled it over his head, huffing quietly at the little pieces that stuck out from underneath the beanie. Figuring that wasn’t enough, Taeyong snatched his hood over his head too, pulling the strings into a messy bow right under his chin. 

“I still don’t like you,” Taeyong muttered, walking over to the door.

“That’s just as fascinating as the other eighty–four times you’ve said it,” Johnny said back. “Try to escape and I’ll make you regret it.” Taeyong only scoffed at his reminder and pushed the door open.

There were two people sitting at the counter when Taeyong walked out. One was clearly younger with a full face and shaggy hair. The other was about Johnny’s height with straight eyebrows and an unimpressed look on his face. Johnny went to walk past them without saying anything but Taeyong stopped, grabbing a pack of gum and sitting it on the counter that separated him from the two employees. All three men looked at him for a moment. The smaller one whose nametag read DONGHYUCK spoke first.

“I personally didn’t think you were having sex in there,” he blurted suddenly, almost like he couldn’t stop himself.

“We weren’t,” Taeyong said back dryly, eyeing the taller one whose tag said YOONOH. “Do you mind ringing this up so we can go?”

Yoonoh looked at Taeyong for what felt like forever but probably was only a couple of seconds. His gaze lingered on Johnny too but it didn’t last as long as it did with Taeyong. He picked up the gum and scanned it.

“If you weren’t fucking then why were you yelling?” the clerk asked, handing the gum back over to Taeyong. “It’s 23,000 won.”

“Because I got really excited thinking about this gum that I’m currently buying,” Taeyong said sharply, tired of all the questions this kid had. “Give him the money, Johnny.”

“I didn’t say you could get anything,” Johnny grumbled under his breath, pulling out his wallet nonetheless.

“You look kind of familiar,” Donghyuck spoke up, frowning a little as he looked at Taeyong. Taeyong could feel Johnny stiffen up while handing Yoonoh the money. “Are you an idol?”

Taeyong looked back at Johnny. He genuinely considered telling the truth. After all, Johnny had been nothing but a nuisance since the moment they met up. He deserved to get in as much trouble as him. But, Taeyong knew they were still bonded. He needed to get this all sorted out before he tried to do anything drastic.

“Yep,” Taeyong lied through a tight mouth. Johnny let out a quiet sigh of relief from behind him.

“Oh, my God,” Donghyuck gasped, perking up. “What group are you in? Is it BTS? I bet you’re in BTS.”

This kid was an idiot. Taeyong looked nothing like any member of BTS. Still, he forced himself to smile. He went to respond but Yoonoh cut him off before he could.

“He’s not in BTS,” he said it so lowly and sure of himself that for a moment, Taeyong wondered if he actually recognized him. Before he could get too worked up, though, Yoonoh was continuing. “He’s in that one rookie group.” He stopped to think about it, snapping his fingers. “Stray Kids! You’re in Stray Kids, right?”

“Sure,” Taeyong responded, nodding. Donghyuck looked so excited Taeyong was sure the kid might puke.

“My sister loves them!” Donghyuck exclaimed, reaching in his pocket to pull out his phone. “Can we take a picture—?”

“No!” Taeyong and Johnny said in unison, startling and confusing both Donghyuck and Yoonoh. Johnny stepped forward a bit, offering an apologetic smile for his outburst. “I mean, it’s just that he’s kind of on vacation and if you upload a picture of him it’ll be ruined,” he explained coolly. “Crazy fans, you know?”

Donghyuck immediately nodded and pushed his phone back into his pocket, sighing like he could relate. “I get it,” he said, shaking his head. “Aish, why can’t they never let people have their privacy?” Yoonoh made a small noise of agreement, therefore solidifying their place as Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum in Taeyong’s head.

“Yeah, it, um,” Taeyong stopped to clear his throat, glancing back at Johnny again. “It sucks.”

“We’re gonna go, okay?” Johnny cut in, wrapping an arm around Taeyong’s shoulder. Taeyong did his best not to flinch away from him. “Thank you both for being so understanding.”

“I’ll keep quiet about your little thing you had going on here!” Yoonoh promised and Taeyong literally almost vomited.

“Give me a shoutout on MCountdown!” Donghyuck called.

“Will do!” Taeyong lied. He heard Donghyuck squeal in excitement right before him and Johnny made left the shop. As soon as they were outside, Taeyong slipped out from under Johnny’s arm with a disgusted scoff. “What a bunch of fucking idiots,” Taeyong mumbled.

“I thought they were nice,” Johnny said happily, fishing the handcuffs from out of the pocket of his hoodie again. “Wrists out.”

“Asshole,” Taeyong muttered underneath his breath, following Johnny’s instructions nonetheless. They only had a couple more hours until Gwangju. He only had to make it until then.

He allowed Johnny to push him into the backseat of his truck again, reaching over him to pull the seatbelt across his chest. In their close proximity, Taeyong couldn’t help but notice how much Johnny smelled like a fir. It was nice. Soothing, almost.

Then, Taeyong realized who the fuck he was smelling and pulled back sharply. Johnny blinked at him in confusion at the sudden moment, his hands poised and ready to fight if necessary. Once he realized that Taeyong wasn’t an active threat, Johnny settled a little.

Taeyong was waiting for him to return back to the front but it never came. Johnny lingered in front of him for a moment before finally opening his mouth to speak, interrupting the smart comment that was most definitely going to be coming from Taeyong within the next couple of seconds.

“I’m really sorry about your hair,” Johnny said quietly, giving Taeyong a small, sheepish smile. “I can fix it after we’re done with this whole mess in Gwangju, yeah?”

Taeyong was surprised. This was the first time that Johnny had said anything that was even remotely helpful for him. He stared at Johnny for a couple of seconds, considering an ulterior motives the other could have had. In the end, Taeyong isn’t able to think of any.

But, this was Johnny. Johnny who had taken him against his will and kept him cuffed like an animal. Johnny who had carelessly bonded him without even asking. It didn’t matter if he was being nice this one time because he was still actively fucking Taeyong over. Even if he did fix his hair, Johnny was still planning on turning him in and throwing him to the wolves.

So, Taeyong snarled up at him and said, “I don’t need any fucking help from you.”

Johnny looked startled by his response. In the end, he shrugged and put his hands up in defense, shaking his head. Like Taeyong was being the irrational one here.

“I tried,” Johnny said, sighing. “Just don’t cry again, okay?”

Taeyong knew that he shouldn’t. He also knew that as dumb as Johnny was, he probably didn’t mean anything more than what his comment actually was. Still, Taeyong couldn’t think of enough of a reason to not spit up into Johnny’s face.

“I swear to God!” Johnny cursed, hands coming up to wipe at his face furiously. “You know what? I was gonna get us both some chicken once we got a little further but you just talked yourself out of it, you little shit!”

“Suck my dick,” Taeyong hissed back, ignoring the way that Johnny was seething at him, face an almost worrying shade of red from how hard he had been rubbing at it.

“You don’t even fucking have one!” Johnny snapped in response before slamming the door, Taeyong having to pull his foot back at the last moment to stop it from getting crushed.

“Asshole!” Taeyong shouted when Johnny got back in the car.

Johnny responded by switching on the car and turning up the radio as loud as he possibly could to drown out any and everything Taeyong could have thought to say to him next.

 

***

 

Taeyong woke up to the feeling of the car suddenly stopping. He opened his eyes, squinting against the darkness that seemed to engulf him. At first, he didn’t see Johnny. For a moment, Taeyong wondered if Johnny had left him in the middle of nowhere to fend for himself. 

Before he could think too much on it, though, Taeyong heard a familiar groan. He sat up from where he had been leaning against the window to see Johnny with his face planted into the wheel in front of him. Taeyong stared at him for a long moment, confused as to what he might be doing. He looked around again. It looked like there was nothing but greenland and mountains for the next few hundred miles.

“What the fuck?” Taeyong finally spoke up, his voice still scratchy from sleep. “Why aren’t you driving?”

Johnny didn’t lift his head up from the wheel. Taeyong felt a wave of irritation roll through him at the possibility that Johnny might have been ignoring him. 

“Can you not fucking hear—?” Johnny interrupted him before he could finish.

“We ran out of gas,” he muttered, his words muffled so much that Taeyong could barely make out what he had said. For a moment, Taeyong sat there and wondered if Johnny’s voice had been so muted by the wheel that he had misunderstood. Then, he saw the flashing E on the console right above the wheel.

“Are you fucking—?” Taeyong cut himself off to blink back at the console, considering the fact that he may have seen it wrong. He hadn’t. “Dude!”

“I know,” Johnny said pitifully.

At this point, there was absolutely no doubt about it. Johnny was easily the biggest idiot on the entire planet. What kind of a bounty hunter didn’t fill up on gas before picking up a criminal? Taeyong was seriously considering the possibility that Johnny had only recently gotten into this line of work and was doing a really, really shitty job at it. As a matter of fact, he wasn’t considering it. He knew it.

“We were just at a fucking gas station!” Taeyong exclaimed, still dumbstruck with how completely stupid Johnny was.

“You know, you don’t have to curse as much as you do,” Johnny pointed out, finally lifting his head from the wheel. If Taeyong wasn’t currently handcuffed, he would have thrown something at him. Instead, he kicked the back of Johnny’s seat as hard as he was physically able. 

“We’re stuck in the middle of nowhere and you’re worried about how much I fucking curse?” Taeyong practically screeched. Johnny only blinked at him, still surprised with how hard Taeyong had kicked him. 

At this point, Taeyong kind of wanted to be in prison. At least in there he wouldn’t have to be in the company of someone this idiotic. Sure, he would be in excruciating pain seeing that Johnny had mated him and would probably either be the victim of constant torment inside because of who and what he was but in all honesty, that didn’t seem too much worse than the situation he was in now. How the fuck had Johnny functioned as a human being for as long as he had when he clearly didn’t have a lick of common sense in him? It was a genuine question that Taeyong had. 

“We’re gonna have to walk,” Johnny said after a moment and Taeyong almost immediately scoffed in response.

“Oh, fuck that,” Taeyong snorted, shaking his head. “You’re out of your fucking mind if you think I’m walking anywhere out there.”

It wasn’t that Taeyong was scared. It was more that he had the sense that Johnny lacked. Venturing outside in the middle of the night in a rural area that neither of them were familiar with was clearly not the smartest idea. It wasn’t even the threat of being possibly kidnapped—again— and murdered but the very real possibility that there were animals out there that could easily harm and kill them without breaking a sweat. 

“I didn’t ask,” Johnny snapped. Taeyong could tell that he was stressed. Good. Taeyong was tired of him walking around all unaffected and nonchalant while his life was literally crashing down around him. 

True to his word, Johnny climbed out of the front and walked to where Taeyong was sitting, opening the door. He stared down at him expectantly, waiting for him to get out of the car like he had asked. Taeyong couldn’t help but scoff again. This guy was going to get him killed. He was going to get the both of them killed. 

“You’re literally the worst bounty hunter I’ve ever met,” Taeyong seethed angrily. “A fucking goldfish could do a better job than you’re doing right now.”

“Just get out of the car,” Johnny mumbled before pulling Taeyong up by his arms. Once he was out, Johnny propped Taeyong up on the side of the car and went to grab his bag from the front. 

“Fucking idiot,” Taeyong said underneath his breath, looking around the area. There was no sign of civilization anywhere. They might as well have been in the middle of nowhere. As a matter of fact, it might have been worse than nowhere. Nowhere was the motel. This was like the fucking hinterlands of Korea. Jesus Christ. 

After gathering up everything, Johnny slammed his door and sighed. Taeyong watched him look around, undoubtedly realizing what he had. Walking wasn’t an option. One direction could have taken them even further into the nothingness and the other would take hours upon hours to get back to where the people were. The last time they had even come in contact with other people was at the convenience store and that had to have been over a two or three hours ago.

“So, what’s the plan?” Taeyong asked snarkily.

Johnny opened his mouth to respond but was ultimately interrupted by the sound of something crunching on the gravel on the road they were standing on not to far ahead. His head snapped in the direction of where the noise had come from. Taeyong looked too. 

A car was approaching them. A fucking car in the middle of the night in the middle of nowhere. Taeyong couldn’t believe it. 

“Wave down the car,” Johnny commanded, turning back to look at Taeyong.

“I’m handcuffed, asshole,” Taeyong responded. 

“Right,” Johnny said, blinking down at Taeyong’s bounded wrists for a moment before turning his attention back towards the car that was only growing closer. He inhaled sharply and stepped a little past where his own car was parked, beginning to wave his arms back and forth.

Taeyong watched him while he did. He had have to have the best luck on the fucking planet  for this car to stop for him. Who in their right mind would pull over and see what the man stuck on the side of the ride at 3AM had to say? Even more so once they saw Taeyong standing there handcuffed. 

Which is exactly why Taeyong couldn’t believe his fucking eyes when the car slowed to a stop right in front of Johnny. It was then that he realized how Johnny had been able to make it so far in life while being such an idiot—he was lucky as hell. He had been lucky that those two people working right in front of where he had picked him up at weren’t paying attention and didn’t notice him leave. He had been lucky that Taeil didn’t call the police on them for disturbing the peace for three days straight. He had been lucky that those two fools at the convenience store both didn’t know what idols actually looked like and who Taeyong was. Johnny succeeded off of luck and luck alone.

The driver rolled down his window the second that Johnny approached. Taeyong could barely make out his face but he didn’t look too much older than either of them. That was good. At least whoever this was wasn’t some greasy old man. He might have been a weirdo which probably would have explained why he was driving down this road in complete darkness but Taeyong decided to cross that bridge when the time came. 

“Hi,” Johnny chirped. Taeyong could hear the smile in his voice. He rolled his eyes. “Our car broke down. You have any gas on you?”

“Who fucking carries gas with them?” Taeyong piped up from behind him. Johnny turned and the driver peeked his head out the window. Taeyong raised an eyebrow at him. His hair was short and dark and he had sharp, angled eyes. He was definitely attractive. Probably a creep but an attractive one. 

The man only stared at him for a moment longer before he turned back to Johnny and smiled sympathetically. “I actually don’t,” he said in an accented voice. “Where do you guys need to go? I might be able to take you.”

“Gwangju,” Johnny said, letting out a little huff. It was clear that he was expecting to be rejected. Fortunately for him (and unfortunately for Taeyong) the man behind the driver’s wheel only made a happy little noise of recognition.

“I’m going to Changwon,” he grinned. “I know that it’s still a long way from Gwangju but it’ll put you in a better position than the one you’re in now.”

Johnny turned and looked at Taeyong again. Taeyong shook his head. It would probably take them over two hours to get to Changwon. He didn’t want to spend that long in a car with a man who he didn’t know. He had already done enough of that the past couple of days. 

He was foolish to think that Johnny actually cared about what he wanted. “Sure!” Johnny said, walking back over to gather up Taeyong. Why wasn’t he questioning the fact that Taeyong was handcuffed? He was a weirdo for sure.

“Don’t try anything,” Johnny muttered quietly as he unlocked Taeyong’s cuffs. Taeyong only stared at him. 

Johnny got into the backseat of the man’s car along with him. Taeyong is sure that it was to make sure that he didn’t go anywhere without keeping him all locked up like an animal in front of the man. Either way, he was thankful to not have metal engulfing his thin wrists for a couple hours. As Johnny shut the door behind him, Taeyong noticed the man staring at him through the rearview mirror.

“What?” Taeyong questioned sharply. 

“You seem a little on edge,” the man pointed out, offering him a soft grin. 

Taeyong was on edge. He was in a car with a man that he didn’t know and his captor. Plus, he was still pretty upset about his hair. And the thought that he could have literally been in Los Angeles by now. There was a lot going on with him at the moment. 

Johnny spoke up before Taeyong could respond. “He’s just really irritable,” Johnny explained, sighing. “I’m Johnny, by the way. This is Kwangmin.” Taeyong blinked up at Johnny at the fact that he had lied about his name. This was the first thing that he had done that made sense. He was impressed. He didn’t think Johnny had the capability to think rationally. 

“Hi, Johnny and Kwangmin,” the man chirped, turning around in his seat to look at the both of them. “I’m Ten.”

It was then that Taeyong realized the man—or Ten—was an omega. He could smell the soft, flowery scent of an omega wafting off of him. By the way Ten was looking at him, Taeyong figured that he had smelled he was an omega, too. 

“Hi, Ten,” Taeyong responded dryly. “You mind driving?”

Johnny went stiff beside him. He glanced over at Taeyong for a moment before flattening his lips in a line. 

“Yo, Ten,” Johnny called and Ten hummed softly in response. “Could you put on the child lock? Minnie has a habit of falling asleep on the door and accidentally opening it.”

What a dumb fucking excuse. Taeyong scoffed quietly underneath his breath. Much to his chagrin, Ten only nodded again before pressing a button in the front. Johnny grinned happily and went to unbuckle his seatbelt, causing Taeyong to look over at him in confusion. 

“Hey,” Taeyong said, speaking informally despite Johnny being older than him. “Where are you going?”

“To sit in the front,” Johnny muttered back. “You can’t get out and there won’t be another person around for miles.”

Without another word, Johnny climbed over the middle console that separated the two front seats from each other. Ten scooted aside so that Johnny’s foot didn’t collide with his face, giggling quietly as Johnny finally sat down with a small grunt. Taeyong huffed from his spot in the backseat. He didn’t like Ten. He didn’t like Johnny.

“Lead the way, Ten,” Johnny grinned, slipping his seatbelt over his chest. Ten laughed quietly again. Taeyong really didn’t like him.

In the end, Taeyong figured whatever. At least he would have some time to himself. Ten and Johnny would talk themselves to death and leave him out of it and he would ignore the burning feeling in his chest he couldn’t control at the sight of the two of them all animated and happy in the front.

 

***

 

Ten and Johnny were fucking infuriating.

For the past hour and a half, they had bonded like two idiots. Ten said something about being from Thailand and Johnny said something about being from Chicago which only resulted in them launching into a whole new conversation in English that Taeyong definitely had a hard time understanding but did his hardest in trying, not wanting to miss a word of what they were saying in case it was about him.

Ten was touchy. He would laugh and pull his hand away from the wheel to hold Johnny’s arm. He was also ditzy as all fuck. He kept giggling and tittering like a little schoolgirl. If Taeyong had thought Johnny was an asshole, Ten was easily three times as worse. 

Neither of them had spoken to him. As a matter of fact, neither of them had acknowledged his existence since the moment they pulled off. Taeyong was starting to get bored. At least in Johnny’s car, Johnny would talk him mad about shit Taeyong didn’t care about. It was even harder for him because of the fact that there was literally nothing outside for him to look at. Counting trees had gotten old about a half an hour ago.

“Johnny,” Taeyong called, interrupting Johnny’s story about a run–in he had with a popular MC the previous year. Johnny hummed and turned a little in his seat to look at him. “I want gum.”

Johnny blinked at him for a moment, confused as to why Taeyong had cut him off in the middle of his story to ask about something as insignificant as gum.

“It’s in my bag,” Johnny said shortly before turning back around.

“I’m hot,” Taeyong started up before Ten could open his mouth and ask Johnny to finish his story. “Can you turn the air up a little?”

“Can’t you take off your hoodie?” Ten asked and Taeyong scowled. How come he couldn’t just do it? 

“No,” Taeyong responded curtly. It wasn’t only that he didn’t want anyone to see his hair but also that he wanted Ten to listen to him. He didn’t know why. It probably had something to do with his pride. He always got like this around other omegas.

Ten stared at him for a moment through the rear view mirror before sighing, reaching forward to crank the air up a little. It wasn’t as high as Taeyong would have liked but he would take it.

“He’s a little bossy, isn’t he?” Ten said to Johnny in English and Taeyong almost immediately squawked angrily in response.

“I speak English,” Taeyong hissed through a thick accent.

“You’ve got an accent,” Johnny pointed out, smiling up at him through the mirror. Taeyong blanked on what to say next. English was really hard for him. He knew a lot but had some trouble with conversation. Still, he felt this need to prove himself.

“No accent,” Taeyong finally said. “I’m good speaker.”

“That’s so cute,” Johnny cooed, causing Taeyong to scowl in disgust.

“Fuck you,” Taeyong snapped. Johnny rolled his eyes.

“Of course he knows that,” Johnny muttered under his breath. Taeyong considered kicking his seat but didn’t want to risk seeming even more childish than he already did. 

The car went quiet again. Taeyong was kind of glad. He didn’t want Johnny and Ten to talk to each other anymore. It wasn’t like he was jealous or anything. He was just tired of hearing both of their voices.

“So, Kwangmin,” Ten started. So much for sitting in silence. “What brings you to Ulsan?”

Other than the fact that he was being brought there against his will to undo a bond that he didn’t want in the first place? Taeyong glanced at Johnny for a second before speaking.

“Probably the same reason why Johnny’s here considering that we came together,” Taeyong muttered quietly. Ten laughed in response, only deepening the  scowl on Taeyong’s face.

“You’re funny,” Ten said lightly. “I like you.”

Taeyong didn’t respond to that. He really didn’t like Ten. Fortunately, Johnny was breaking the silence by pointing up at the road ahead of them.

“Where are we?” he asked.

“Probably somewhere in Gimhae by now,” Ten answered easily. “It won’t be long until we’re in Changwon.”

“Your car smells like feet,” Taeyong piped up. There was a pause. He heard Johnny sigh.

“Hey, love?” Ten asked. Taeyong only continued to stare out the window. “I’m not your enemy, yeah? You don’t have to act like that with me.”

The tone of his voice was so condescending that Taeyong couldn’t stand it. He decided not to respond, only folding his arms across his chest. If what Ten had said was true, then he wouldn’t have to endure his big fucking mouth and his stupid, perfect nose for much longer.

“He’s post–heat,” Johnny explained to Ten quietly, clearly not thinking that Taeyong would hear. “That’s why he’s so angry.”

“Hey!” Taeyong shouted. “Do you wanna die?”

“See?” Johnny said and Ten laughed, shaking his head. Taeyong could strangle them both.

“I get it,” Ten said, turning the wheel to propel the car around a sharp corner. “I’m always a little irritable after my heat.”

“Do you have someone that helps you out with it?” Johnny asked, raising a brow. Taeyong snorted which ultimately went ignored. Johnny wasn’t even trying to be discreet with it and by the look at the little smile that formed on his face afterward, neither did Ten. Taeyong could vomit.

“Not yet,” Ten responded softly. “I’m still looking.”

And what the fuck? There was no way that him and Johnny didn’t smell like each other with both the amount of time they had spent together and how often they had been laid up. Yet, Ten was speaking to Johnny like he didn’t notice a thing. What happened to Johnny being revolted by other people that weren’t Taeyong? Taeyong knew of the concept—his parents had taught him well enough about that with their own relationship—but had no clue of the specifics.

Either way,Taeyong can’t help himself. He isn’t sure if it’s because of his status or the fact that whether he liked it or not, Johnny was his mate but something is propelling him to open his mouth and stop whatever the fuck was going on.

“Hey, Johnny,” Taeyong spoke up, interrupting Johnny before he could open his mouth to respond to what Ten had said. Johnny hummed. “Remember when you bonded me?”

Both Johnny and Ten went stiff at that. Johnny laughed nervously and turned in his seat to look at Taeyong who only glared back at him.

“Um,” Johnny said.

“You guys are mates?” Ten asked, glancing up at Taeyong through the rearview mirror for the umpteenth time that ride.

“I mean, that would explain why we smell like each other,” Taeyong responded dryly.

“I lost my sense of smell in accident two years back,” Ten revealed. Taeyong watched Johnny visibly deflate. He could admit that this was a little shitty of him. He wasn’t going to apologize but Taeyong did feel a strike of guilt roll through him.

“I’m sorry, man,” Johnny mumbled, his face burning in embarrassment. Taeyong didn’t know if it was because of him exposing their relationship or the fact that he had basically forced Ten to explain something intimate about him.

“It’s alright,” Ten chirped, smiling. “At least I’m still pretty.”

“I can agree with that,” Johnny chuckled and Taeyong went hot again.

“The spot where you bonded me actually still kind of hurts,” Taeyong seethed through gritted teeth. Johnny turned again. He was visibly confused.

“So, he’s your alpha?” Ten asked.

“No,” came from Johnny the same time as “Yes,” came from Taeyong. Ten squinted.

“We’re not mated,” Johnny lied, laughing nervously again.

Taeyong slid over to the middle of the backseat and undid the strings of his hoodie, pulling the hood off of his head. He turned and bared his neck at Ten, the skin where Johnny had sunk his teeth into still raw. Ten looked at it quickly before turning his gaze back to the road in front of him. Taeyong caught Johnny’s eye right before he sat back down, unable to stop himself from smirking a little.

“Kind of looks like you’re mated,” Ten pointed out. He didn’t sound upset. It seemed like shit like this could have very well happened often.

“That’s because we are,” Taeyong cut in before Johnny could defend himself. Johnny frowned deeply at him, mouthing, “What the fuck is your problem?” Taeyong ignored him.

“It was an accident,” Johnny explained pitifully.

“Still mated,” Taeyong snapped in response. Ten looked between the two of them. He seemed amused by it all.

“Well, whatever you are, I hope you both can work it out,” Ten said, chuckling a little under his breath. 

Johnny stared at Taeyong for a moment longer before turning back in his seat with a quiet huff. Taeyong had half a mind to laugh. He had mated him and now he didn’t even want to claim him? What an asshole.

The rest of the ride went by quietly. It was clear that Taeyong ruined any and all chance of conversation between Ten and Johnny. Taeyong didn’t care. He did, however, care about the fact that being mated made him act all possessive and anxious. He had never cared all that much about anyone he had never been with—serious or not—and the fact that Johnny of all people was making him act like this made Taeyong a little sick to his stomach.

It wasn’t even only that. Taeyong couldn’t deny that the way that Johnny had almost immediately lied about them being mated had hurt his feelings. It wasn’t like he cared about Johnny’s opinion or anything but he wasn’t a horrible person. Sure, he had fucked over a couple of people here and then but he wasn’t insufferable. Or, at least he didn’t think that he was. Whatever. Fuck Johnny. Fuck them being mated. The only reason why Taeyong felt this way was because of the fact that they were mated and he couldn’t help it because it was simply his body reacting naturally.

Soon, they were in Changwon. Ten asked where they wanted to be dropped off at and Johnny asked to be sent as far as Ten was going. Taeyong kept his mouth shut. He didn’t know how Johnny was going to pull off getting all the way to Gwangju from Changwon without a car but also didn’t care. Though he wanted to be un–mated as soon as possible, the time it was taking for them to get there was also time for him to completely flesh out what he was going to do. 

Ten let them out at a little convenience store right on the edge of Changwon. Taeyong scoffed when Johnny hopped out from the front and walked around to his side to let him out. It looked like something a gentleman would do but Taeyong knew that Johnny had only done it to ensure that he wouldn’t try anything. He snatched his arm away when Johnny took it to help pull him out of the car, muttering something under his breath about being able to get out of a car by himself. Ten was watching the entire time, prompting Taeyong to finally call him out about it. 

“You’re staring,” Taeyong snapped, causing Johnny to turn. He clearly hadn’t noticed Ten’s lingering gaze. Ten only smiled and shook his head. Taeyong kind of hated how happy–go–lucky and carefree he seemed to be about everything. 

“I was just thinking that you guys are really cute together is all,” Ten explained. Johnny and Taeyong looked at one another for a moment before jumping away from each other quickly. Ten laughed. “I guess opposites really do attract.”

“We’re not—,” Johnny tried, only to be interrupted by Ten’s soft voice.

“I’m gonna head inside, okay?” Ten said, still grinning at the both of them. “I was nice meeting you, Johnny. You too, Kwangmin.” Taeyong only glared at him. If he didn’t have any sense, he would have snapped and said that that wasn’t his name. He ultimately decided to keep quiet. “Good luck with whatever you have going on in Gwangju.” 

And with that, Ten was gone. Johnny watched him go. Taeyong took that as an opportunity to start walking away, the sound of his feet retreating on the gravel enough to cause Johnny’s head to immediately snap in his direction. He ran after him, latching a tight hand around his wrist. Taeyong whirled around and scowled up at him at the feeling of his fingers digging into his thin arm. 

“Where do you think you’re going?” Johnny asked, raising both brows in question.

“To Gwangju, dumbass,” Taeyong hissed, snatching his wrist out of Johnny’s grip. Even Johnny could have very easily grabbed him again, he didn’t. “Trust me,” Taeyong continued, starting to walk away again. “If I wanted to get away from you, I would.”

“Yeah, we’ll see about that,” Johnny snorted. Taeyong responded by holding his middle up back at him.