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take the money and run

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Johnny woke Taeyong up by reaching behind him while driving and shaking him a couple of times. It took a moment but finally Taeyong sat up, squinting against the bright light of the sun shining into the car. He went to rub at his eyes, a little surprised that Johnny hadn’t bounded his wrists together while he was sleep. Johnny waited patiently for him to adjust back into consciousness, watching him stretch his thin arms above his head, yawning.

“Sleep well?” Johnny asked, raising an eyebrow. Taeyong looked at him for a long moment, confused as to why he was asking. When had they gotten to the point where they cared about each other’s personal wellbeing?

Taeyong decided not to answer. He looked out the window to see that Johnny had parked on the side of residential street, isolated from the rest of the cars parked neatly in the driveways of the numerous homes on either side of them. It looked almost exactly like where Johnny had picked him up in Busan. He yawned again. 

“Where are we?” Taeyong asked, frowning.

“Well, if the slurred and mumbled address you gave me earlier held any substance I’d say we’re at your friend’s house,” Johnny answered, turning back around to start fidgeting with the rearview mirror. “What was his name again?”

Taeyong focused his attention back on the house they were parked in front of. He had only visited Yuta once since he moved from Seoul and that had been at some restaurant in uptown Gwangju. That was over a year ago. Yuta had scribbled down his address on the receipt their waitress had given him and told Taeyong to come by at any time. Taeyong never did. 

Until now.

It was a pretty nice house. Not too big and not too small. It looked a lot more modern than most of the homes on the block but not so much that it was obnoxious in comparison. Taeyong held his chin in his hand and hummed, blinking up at the home for a few more seconds before turning back to Johnny who was looking at him through the rearview mirror.

“Yuta,” Taeyong said, tossing the blanket Johnny had thrown over him onto the floor. “I think you should park somewhere else.”

“How come?” Johnny asked.

“The lady who we took it from probably called it in by now,” Taeyong explained, scooting towards the door. “Police have to be looking by now.” He had his hand on the door to get out and stopped, taking a moment to rethink what he had just said. “We should park it in Yuta’s garage.”

“Why?” Johnny questioned again.

“If we park it somewhere nearby they’ll know we’re in the area,” Taeyong said, pressing his forehead against the window. It felt less cold here in Gwangju. His arms weren’t covered in goosebumps for the first time since he had put on the damned dress. “If we park in his garage they won’t be able to find us.”

Johnny hesitated a moment. Then he hummed quietly. Taeyong had been fully expecting him to make some sort of comment about his criminal knowledge. Johnny never did. Taeyong was kind of glad for it. He climbed out of the car first and Johnny followed soon after, stretching his long arms above his head. Taeyong flattened down the skirt of his dress.

“You sure you’re feeling okay enough to walk?” Johnny asked, causing Taeyong to look up at him and frown. 

“What are you gonna do if I’m not?” Taeyong responded. “Carry me?”

“I mean,” Johnny started, reaching up a hand to scratch at the back of his neck. “If you want.”

Taeyong stared at him for what could have been forever but was probably only a couple of drawn–out seconds. Finally, he shook his head. “Think about what you’re gonna say before you say it,” he said before starting off to the front door. Johnny hesitated a moment before following after him.

There was a lot for Taeyong to consider when the two of them approached the front door. What if Yuta was still pissed at him for what had happened in Seoul? He had seemed fine when Taeyong visited him but what if the time apart gave him time to dwell on it? Hell, what if Yuta didn’t even live here anymore? After all, it had  been a year since Taeyong had last seen him. A lot could happen in that amount of time. And what would him and Johnny do then? Just be stuck with each other for the rest of their lives? Not even that, considering that Johnny seemed pretty inflexible in the idea of turning him in. 

Johnny was the one who rang the doorbell due to his impatience and Taeyong’s internal struggle. Taeyong glared up at him with his sudden action but decided not to say anything. Even after his nap in the car that had to have been over two hours considering the fact that Johnny had driven them all the way to Yuta’s place Taeyong still felt exhausted. All he wanted was for this to be over. If everything went right, it would be pretty soon. 

Before he could grow too anxious about the fact that no one had answered the call of the bell yet, the door swung open and there stood Yuta, dressed in an old sweatshirt and shorts with a toothbrush in his mouth and toothpaste dripping down his chin. He looked dumbstruck. Taeyong couldn’t tell if it was over the sight of him in a wedding dress with platinum hair, Johnny or the fact that Yuta’s on–the–run friend was currently standing on his doorstep. If he had to take a bet out on it, Taeyong would pick all three.

“You grew out your hair,” Taeyong said, smiling sheepishly. The last time he saw Yuta his hair barely reached his nape. Since then, it had grown all the way to his shoulders. “It looks nice.”

Yuta stared at him for a moment longer before pulling him in for a hug. Taeyong tripped over the tulle of his dress but was able to catch himself in Yuta’s arms, inhaling the scent of him and his toothpaste. So much for the possibility of Yuta still being upset with him. 

“Holy shit,” Yuta breathed, moving back to get a good look at Taeyong. He shook his head and pulled Taeyong in for another embrace, squeezing him tight. 

“You’re a lot more touchy than I remember you,” Taeyong muttered, laughing a little. That caused Yuta to pull away for good, allowing Taeyong to stand on his own.

“Sorry, man. I’ve just missed you a lot,” Yuta admitted, sighing. He glanced over at Johnny before looking back at Taeyong. “Who’s this?”

“Long story,” Taeyong brushed off with a wave. He pointed past Yuta to the inside of his house. “You mind if we come in?”

“Of course,” Yuta said, stepping aside to let the both of them inside. Taeyong immediately walked in and embraced the inherent warmth of Yuta’s home but Johnny lingered at the door. Both Yuta and Taeyong looked at him, confused. 

“We’ve, uh,” Johnny interrupted himself with a small cough. “I’ve got to park the car.”

Right. Taeyong had almost forgotten. He looked down at the car parked near the curb, squinting at the visible holes of where the true owner’s bullet had come in and out of. Yuta must have noticed them too because he was humming with a small frown and tilting his head to the side in order to get a closer look at it. 

“Can we park in your garage, Yu?” Taeyong asked, turning Yuta’s attention from the car back to him. 

“Um,” Yuta hesitated. “Yeah, sure.”

He took his keys off of the hook right above Taeyong’s head and stepped out onto the doorstep, leaning past Johnny to aim a small black remote hanging off of the loop of metal at his garage. The door opened with a groan as soon as he pressed the button. He paused for a moment before handing the keys over to Johnny. 

“Make sure to close it after you,” Yuta said and Johnny nodded.

“Taeyong,” Johnny called. Taeyong blinked over at him. “I think you should come with me.”

“I’m not going anywhere,” Taeyong responded and he really meant it. He couldn’t do anything until him and Johnny were un–bonded. Johnny needed to trust that.

Johnny hesitated for a second before looking over at Yuta. It was clear that Yuta still was having trouble understanding what exactly was going on between him and Taeyong. Finally, he nodded. 

“Yeah, alright,” Johnny agreed, sighing a little bit. “The door in the garage open?”

“Yup,” Yuta answered and Johnny nodded one last time before turning on the heel of his worn sneakers and walking off in the direction of the car. Yuta and Taeyong watched him for a long moment before Yuta finally stepped back inside and closed the door behind him. 

He immediately looked over at Taeyong who was too busy looking at the layout of Yuta’s house to notice him staring. It was really nice. He had never considered Yuta to be a particularly artistic or creative person but the way he had decorated everything really suited the area. It suited him. It took Yuta clearing his throat for Taeyong to realize that Yuta wanted him. 

“Dude, you’re blonde,” Yuta deadpanned slowly. “And in a wedding dress.” 

Taeyong chuckled lowly. If he didn’t find humor in the situation, he was pretty sure he would have gone crazy with how frustrating and stressful the past couple of days had been for him.

“I am,” Taeyong nodded. “Speaking of that, do you happen to have any clothes that I could wear?”

“Kun does,” Yuta responded and Taeyong raised a brow in question. 

“Kun?” he asked, only for Yuta to quickly wave him off.

“Taeyong, you’re wanted in every fucking county of the country,” Yuta pointed out. If it wasn’t Yuta, Taeyong probably would have responded with something along the lines that he was very aware of the fact that the police were searching for him in every corner of South Korea. Instead, he only walked over to the mirror that Yuta had up in the foyer. He really did look like shit. The dye had started to fade and give out to his natural shade of brown. His skin was blotchy. He looked stressed in every sense of the word. “What are you doing here, man?” Yuta continued, pulling Taeyong’s focus back on him. “And who the fuck is the dude parking a very clearly stolen car in my garage?”

“That’s Johnny,” Taeyong answered easily, bending down to unzip his boots. He kicked them off and pushed them against the wall, having enough decency to keep up with Yuta’s almost eerily neat foyer. “He’s my mate.”

“He’s your what?” Yuta practically shouted, causing Taeyong to flinch a little at how loud he had said it. He lifted a finger to his mouth and quickly shushed him. Yuta only rolled his eyes in response before repeating in a significantly lower voice: “He’s your what?”

“My mate,” Taeyong reiterated, approaching Yuta again. He glanced over at the kitchen in the direction that he was sure the door that connected to the garage was in. They didn’t have much time to talk before Johnny came waltzing in again. “Listen, Yuta. You’ve got to help me. I fucked up, big time.”

“You fucked up?” Yuta asked, frowning. “How?”

“He’s a fucking bounty hunter,” Taeyong said in a hushed voice. He looked at the door again and decided to restate. “I mean, he says he’s a bounty hunter but I’m seriously starting to doubt that he’s a fucking bounty hunter.”

“What is he then?” Yuta said back. 

“That’s what I’m trying to figure out,” Taeyong responded. He was pretty sure that he looked like a psychopath holding both of Yuta’s shoulders in a wedding dress stained with kimchi paste and a horrible $15 convenience store dye job but Yuta needed to understand that he was currently going through a lot at the moment. “He’s trying to take me to Seoul and he keeps talking about collecting money for me and I–I—.” Yuta interrupted him before he could finish. 

“You need to calm down,” Yuta said steadily. He opened his mouth to say something but cut himself off at the sight of the deep wound embedded into the skin of Taeyong’s neck. He pushed Taeyong’s head to the side to get a better look at it, making a choked noise in the back of his throat. “How the fuck did you end up mated to him?”

Before Taeyong could answer, he heard the car door slam. It wouldn’t be long before Johnny was walking in through the door, coming in the middle of any and all chances Taeyong had to talk to Yuta in private and get himself out of this whole fucking mess of a situation. 

“I’ll tell you later, okay?” Taeyong promised, shaking his head. “I just need you to help me. Fucking help me, Yuta. I can’t go wherever he’s trying to take me.”

“You’re a mess, man,” Yuta sighed in response a full second before the door in the kitchen creaked open. Both him and Taeyong turned at the sound before looking back at each other. “I’ll help. Just keep cool.”

Taeyong nodded right as Johnny walked back in the room. If he had noticed the way they had pulled away from each other both quickly and awkwardly, he didn’t say anything. He stepped forward and handed Yuta back the loop of metal with a small smile. Yuta accepted them once a small beat had passed and moved to hang them back up.

The three of them were silent for a moment. Taeyong didn’t know what to say. Johnny was clearly uncomfortable and Yuta had been recently overwhelmed with information. A lot was going on. It ended up being Yuta who spoke first. 

“I’m Yuta,” he introduced, holding a hand out for Johnny to shake which he did with a short grin. 

“Johnny,” Johnny said back. They pulled away from each other. Another beat. “Um.”

“We need you to un–mate us,” Taeyong spoke up, cutting straight to the point. Yuta glanced up at the mark on his neck again.

“How’d you two end up mated in the first place?” Yuta finally asked. He clearly was itching to know what all had happened. 

Taeyong looked at Johnny and Johnny at Taeyong. Taeyong knew that Johnny wasn’t going to be the one to explain. He had too little humility for it. He sighed a little before speaking. 

“I had my heat around him,” Taeyong explained slowly, looking up at Johnny once again before continuing. “He bit me somewhere during the first wave. It was totally an accident.” Yuta took a moment to take in what Taeyong had told him. Then, he turned to Johnny. 

“And you’re an alpha, right?” Yuta asked. Johnny made a quiet little noise in the back of his throat that caused Yuta to frown in response. 

“I don’t know,” Johnny answered honestly. “We don’t know.”

“How do you not know?” Yuta questioned, shaking his head. “You have to be some type of something in order to have mated with him.”

Taeyong didn’t feel like doing this. They had already gone through this before. Him, Johnny and Yuta could all discuss all of the different possibilities of what Johnny could possibly be during the process of them two getting un–mated. Right now they needed to get to it. 

“Can you do it or not?” Taeyong asked impatiently. Yuta glanced over at him and raised an eyebrow. 

“I mean, I might,” Yuta said honestly, running a hand through his hair. “I’ve only ever done it once, Yong.”

“It’ll be quick, yeah?” Taeyong pressed, a little breathless. He didn’t like hearing Yuta be doubtful about the whole thing. There wasn’t any room for any of them to hold any sort of doubt. “You’ve done it once so I’m sure you can do it again.”

“It’s gonna hurt a lot,” Yuta warned. He sounded really distressed. It wasn’t hard for him to tell that Taeyong didn’t fully understand the repercussions of what he was getting himself into by asking to be un–mated. “And you might not be able to mate with another person ever again.”

Taeyong didn’t care about all of the possibly consequences of doing this. The only thing that he wanted was no longer be attached to Johnny. Whether or not it hurt or scarred him for the rest of his life didn’t matter to him. It shouldn’t have mattered to Johnny either. 

“Yuta, we don’t care,” Taeyong deadpanned. “We just need you to fix this, okay?”

Yuta stared at him for a moment. Taeyong knew why he was hesitant. He had this awful habit of caring about people more than they cared about themselves. He couldn’t deal with Yuta turning him down, though. As a matter of fact, Taeyong had absolutely no clue what the fuck he would do if Yuta said no. It was all he had been counting on and his and Johnny’s only chance to break the bond they had mistakenly created with one another.

Finally, Yuta sighed. He looked down at his toothbrush that he had sat down on the table near the door before glancing back up at Taeyong. He sighed again, a little louder this time around.

“Fine,” Yuta agreed with a huff. “I just—You have to go and get changed before I do anything with you, okay? I’m sick of seeing you in this fucking dress.” Johnny snorted quietly at that. If Taeyong wasn’t so relieved with the fact that Yuta had agreed, he would have snapped at Johnny for doing so. “There’s clothes in Kun’s room. First door on the right.” He looked over at Johnny and his mucky, vomit–stained suit. “You too.”

Johnny nodded and immediately started up the stairs. He made it up about three of them before Yuta pushed Taeyong up behind him, giving his arm a gentle squeeze before pulling away. Taeyong looked back at him.

“Trust me,” Yuta mouthed and pushed him again. Taeyong hesitated a moment before nodding, inhaling sharply through his nose before following after Johnny up the stairs.

It would be fine. Everything would be fine. The last few days had easily been the worst days of Taeyong’s life but in a couple of hours they would be over and he would be able to live his life the way he was going to before Johnny cut in and threw him off track. Yet and still, when he looked up at Johnny’s retreating back, Taeyong couldn’t bring himself to look at him with the same sense of carelessness and loathing as he had the first night him and Johnny had made contact with one another. Instead, he felt guilt and a twinge of sadness at the thought of leaving him.

Before the thought could settle too deep in his brain, Taeyong shook it out and climbed up the final stair, tripping a little over his dress again on the way up. He was stopped from stumbling to the ground by a firm hand on his arm. 

“Yeah,” Johnny chuckled, smiling a little. “We definitely need to get you out of this thing.”

Taeyong stared at him for a long moment. Then he realized that Johnny was still holding onto his arm and steadying him against the banister and pulled away with a huff before pushing open the door in which he assumed was the one that belonged to this Kun guy that definitely hadn’t been part of Yuta’s life the last time Taeyong had seen him.

“You’re welcome,” Johnny called pointedly from behind him. Taeyong responded with a flick of his middle finger behind his head. 

 

***

 

Whoever Kun was, he had a shit taste in clothes. Taeyong ended up in a pair of loose–fitting jeans, an old white t–shirt and this red fleece cardigan that was probably about three sizes too big for him and fit him almost exactly like the dress had. Johnny had on some button–up that Taeyong promptly told him he looked stupid in to which Johnny had only frowned in response and looked down at it in a way that told Taeyong he was seriously considering changing. 

When they went back downstairs, Yuta was sitting in the kitchen with some man Taeyong had never seen before. His hair was a soft blonde and his face was round. He noticed Taeyong and Johnny before they noticed him and immediately stood from his chair, bowing at the both of them. Taeyong stared at him for a long moment before snorting quietly, walking past him to join Yuta at the table. He noticed the man glance up as him as he made his way by.

“You can’t dress for shit,” Taeyong muttered to the man assuming that he was the owner of the clothes he currently had on, reaching over Yuta to grab an apple from the middle of the table.

“Don’t be an asshole,” Yuta hissed before the man could say anything in response. “Ignore him.”

Johnny held out his hand to the stranger with a small smile. “I’m Johnny,” he introduced as they shook hands.

“Kun,” the man said. They pulled apart right as Taeyong bit into the apple he had grabbed, eyeing Kun all the while. 

“Are you and Yuta fucking or something?” Taeyong asked bluntly. Yuta coughed loudly into his fist and Kun choked on air. 

“No,” Yuta and Kun said at the same time, mimicking each other in both tone and pitch. Kun looked pointedly at Yuta before Yuta cleared his throat and went to reiterate. “We aren’t fucking. We’re just roommates.”

“Roommates that are fucking,” Taeyong said before taking another bite out of his apple.

“Taeyong,” Johnny cut in. Taeyong only glared at him. 

It became clear that Yuta wasn’t going to entertain Taeyong on the subject for any longer when he gave a small sigh and readjusted himself in his seat, moving to face Taeyong who had pushed a finger into his mouth to pick some apple skin out of his teeth. Taeyong blinked at him, eyebrows raised in question.

“Can you let Kun look at your neck without being an asshole?” Yuta asked. Taeyong looked over at Kun for a moment before shrugging. He put down the apple and slipped the cardigan and t–shirt down his shoulder, exposing his bare skin.

“Be my guest,” Taeyong mumbled. Kun gave him a gentle smile before standing and making his way over to him. 

Taeyong couldn’t help but wince a little as Kun pressed his fingers into the wound on his neck. Although it had probably been over a week since Johnny had mated him, the skin was still extremely red and sore. For a moment, Taeyong had considered the possibility of it being infected. He ended up pushing the thought out of his mind once considering that him walking around with an infected wound would only make his current situation a lot harder than it already was. 

Kun looked at him for awhile. Taeyong debated making some kind of snarky comment about Kun not buying him dinner first but ultimately decided to keep his mouth shut, picking the apple back up and taking another bite. At one point, him and Johnny made eye contact from across the table. Johnny looked worried. Taeyong didn’t know why. 

Finally, Kun pulled back. He was frowning. “Yuta, come here a second,” Kun said and Yuta pushed out his chair and walked over to join Kun at Taeyong’s side. 

“Does it really take both of you to look?” Taeyong asked. Both Kun and Yuta ignore him. “Jesus,” Taeyong hissed sharply through his teeth when Yuta pressed down particularly hard on the bitemark. It was like he was purposely trying to hurt him. 

Yuta stopped touching him as aggressively after that. Johnny is watching the both of them like a hawk. Taeyong can’t help but feel a little wary about it all. Why were Kun and Yuta looking at him like there was an issue? It was a fucking bond mark. It wasn’t anything that was really special and Taeyong doubted that it was something the two of them had never seen before. 

“Jesus Christ,” Yuta mumbled, pulling back. Kun did the same. Taeyong frowned and immediately looked up at the both of them.

“What’s Jesus Christ?” Taeyong questioned quickly. “Why are you saying Jesus Christ? What’s there to Jesus Christ about?”

Kun and Yuta took a moment to look at each other. Taeyong was starting to get super frustrated with the both of them. What was with this wordless conversation that it seemed they were having? Why wasn’t Yuta coming straight out with it and telling him what the issue—because there was clearly an issue—was?

“He can’t un–bond you guys,” Kun answered right before Taeyong was about to open his mouth and ask what the problem was once again. 

“What?” Johnny asked at the same time Taeyong demanded, “Well, why the fuck not?”

Kun and Yuta looked at each other again. Taeyong had half a mind to pick up his apple and chuck it right at both of their foreheads. There was no way that Yuta simply couldn’t un–mate them. He had to have been being dramatic or something. 

“You ever heard of destined mates?” Kun finally went on to explain. Taeyong and Johnny only blinked at him. Apparently not. “Okay, well, it’s a super rare phenomenon. Like, one in every 100,000 pairing type shit.”

“And it’s basically where an unpresented alpha,” Yuta started, giving Johnny a pointed look, “has sex with an unmated omega, bonds them and slowly starts presenting after that.”

“The fuck does that have to do with you not being able to separate us?” Taeyong asked impatiently. 

“Johnny is an alpha,” Kun said. “And when you two met, I’m guessing that he wasn’t, right?”

“Wait,” Johnny cut in, shaking his head. “You’re saying that I presented as an alpha because I slept with an omega? Is that how it works?”

“Not exactly,” Yuta said, running a hand through his hair. “I’m guessing that Taeyong is the first omega you’ve ever had sex with?” Johnny hesitated a moment before nodding. “See, here’s the thing. You could have had sex with and bonded a hundred omegas before him and still would have remained unpresented. You can only present as a true alpha when you bond with the right person.”

“Oh, bullshit,” Taeyong snapped, scoffing. “Are you really trying to say that the only reason he presented as an alpha is because he bonded with his one true mate or some shit?” Yuta and Kun only looked at him. “He’s not even a fucking alpha!”

Yuta made a face at that. “Yong, he literally reeks,” he said. “My whole fucking kitchen smells like Christmas.”

“Is that bad?” Johnny piped up in a small voice.

“Just because he smells doesn’t mean that he’s an alpha!” Taeyong defended frantically. “It doesn’t mean that he’s my alpha!”

This had to be a nightmare. There was no fucking way that Johnny was what the universe had planned for Taeyong. The world didn’t hate him that much. What had happened had been a fluke and nothing more. It didn’t make sense any other way.

“Taeyong, he wouldn’t have been able to bond with you if he wasn’t an alpha,” Kun explained softly. “The only way Johnny would be able to present—,”

“—Which he has,” Yuta cut in.

“—Would be if he bonded with his destined mate,” Kun finished.

“And what?” Taeyong asked, shaking his head. “You were able to figure all of this shit out by looking at my fucking neck?”

Yuta sighed. “Come on,” he said. Taeyong hesitated a moment before standing up from his chair and following Yuta out of the kitchen. He heard Johnny and Kun follow after them not too far after.

Taeyong let Yuta lead him into the foyer and in front of the mirror that he had been looking at not even an hour earlier. He pushed him closer to the reflective glass and readjusted his body to where his neck was visible. Taeyong frowned at the sight of it. It didn’t look like a normal bondmark. It was red and went deeper than any other bite he had ever seen before. The skin around his bite was bruised a dark purple. Taeyogn reached up a hand and touched at it tentatively, wincing at the pain that immediately sparked up as soon as his fingers made contact. 

“What the fuck?” Taeyong muttered, looking at Yuta through the mirror. “Why does it look like that?”

“That’s how we were able to tell,” Yuta said back. 

What the fuck? What the actual fuck? There was no way. He had to have the shittiest luck on the entire fucking planet. How exactly did it end up that the person who quite literally wanted more than anyone else to see him fail was his mate? And not even his mate like someone he had fallen in love with but his mate like this was what the universe wanted for him. This was technically his soulmate. The person that he was supposed to be with. How did that even happen?

Taeyong had never wanted to be mated with anyone. He didn’t want to be someone’s perfect little wife and make babies with them and grow old with them. That wasn’t his type of thing. He had always preferred to be by himself than to be with another person. Unfortunately with this news, it seemed that he didn’t have an option. This was going to be his life now. Johnny was going to be his life now—no matter what happened. 

He felt like he was going to throw up again.

“So you’re telling me that I’m stuck with him?” Johnny piped up from behind them. Both Yuta and Taeyong turned around to look at him. 

“Hey, fuck you,” Taeyong seethed in response. “I don’t want to be with you as much as you don’t want to be with me.”

Johnny ignored him and focused in on Yuta. “Dude, there’s gotta be something that you can do,” he said—no, pleaded. Yuta only shook his head. 

“There’s literally no possible way for me to do anything without killing the both of you.” It looked like he was about to say more on the matter but Taeyong was interrupting him before he could. 

“What if one of us dies? Then what?” Taeyong said quickly. Johnny’s head snapped in his direction.

“Hey,” Johnny demanded sharply. “Is that a fucking threat?”

“It can be,” Taeyong hissed in response.

“Jesus Christ,” Kun cut in, his eyes wide. “How often are you two like this? I’m sure being mated to each other can’t be that bad.”

Taeyong begged to differ. He imagined that Johnny felt the exact same way. In their week and a half of being together, the only thing they had done with each other was fuck and argue. They simply weren’t compatible. It was why Taeyong was sure that Yuta and Kun had no fucking clue what they were talking about.

“He’s mean,” Johnny defended, practically whining. “All he does is call me stupid and treat me like I’m a waste of space.”

“Oh, I’m so fucking sorry that I’m not nicer to the man that kidnapped me!” Taeyong exclaimed, throwing his hands in the air. “Boo fucking hoo, bitch. You’re, like, twenty–six. Grow the fuck up.”

“I didn’t fucking kidnap you!” Johnny shouted, clearly tired of Taeyong speaking to him in the way that he currently was and had been throughout the entire duration of their trip together. “And I’m twenty–four, you miserable piece of shit!”

I’m miserable?” Taeyong yelled back. “Are you fucking kidding me?”

“You know what?” Johnny continued, venom dripping from his voice. “I have no fucking clue how you were able to steal so much money from assholes like my brother considering that it involves them having to spend more than five seconds with you!”

Taeyong went quiet after that. In fact, the entire room went quiet after that. Taeyong stared at Johnny for a long moment, still processing what he had said. Johnny, however, was still visibly fuming. It seemed that he didn’t understand what exactly had come out of his mouth.

“Your brother?” Taeyong asked slowly. Johnny frowned at him. Then, his face dropped. “Your fucking brother?”

Johnny didn’t say anything in response. Taeyong didn’t need him to. That little slip up of his was enough for him to understand everything. The reason why Johnny had taken him. Why he had refused to drop him off in Ulsan and Busan and Changwon and even here. All of this had been part of some fucked plan to get revenge on him because of him crossing this stupid asshole’s brother. 

“I fucking knew you weren’t a bounty hunter,” Taeyong spoke up again, glaring harshly at Johnny.

“I am,” Johnny lied.

“Fuck you,” Taeyong snapped before Johnny could lie even further on the matter. “What was this? Some botched attempt to make me pay for whatever the fuck I did to your stupid fucking brother?”

“Maybe you two should cool off a little,” Kun tried but ultimately ended up going ignored by both Johnny and Taeyong. Yuta sighed quietly.

“Answer me,” Taeyong demanded darkly when Johnny didn’t immediately respond. 

“I don’t have to answer shit,” Johnny finally hissed through his teeth. “I don’t know what you’re talking about. I picked you up to get money for turning you in. That’s it.”

“Bull shit,” Taeyong scoffed. “You’re so fucking full of—.”

Before he could finish his sentence, there was a heavy knock on the front door. Every single person in the room’s head snapped to look at it. Taeyong was the first to look away, focusing in on Yuta. 

“Who is that?” Taeyong asked carefully. Yuta blinked at him a couple of times.

“I–I don’t know,” Yuta stuttered, turning to Kun. “Were you expecting anyone?” Kun shook his head in response. 

Almost as if to answer their question, another knock sounded on the door, so hard that it caused Taeyong to flinch back in surprise. “It’s the police!” a male voice called. “Open up!”

“Did you call the fucking police?” Taeyong questioned. His heart had started to race a million miles per minute. Why was the police there? It hadn’t even been longer than a couple of hours. There was no way that they had caught on that quickly without any help. 

“Why the fuck would I call the police on you, Taeyong?” Yuta hissed at him, clearly offended that Taeyong would even suggest something like that. Another hard bang on the door. They were becoming impatient. “How did they even figure out you were here?” He paused for a moment to think about it. “Did you press the lock twice?”

Johnny blinked at Yuta. “Why would I have pressed the lock twice?” Yuta groaned.

“There’s a fucking short in the remote,” Yuta said, looking anxiously at the door again. “It doesn’t shut unless you press it twice. Why didn’t you fucking press it twice?”

“You didn’t tell me to press it twice!” Johnny whisper–yelled. “How the fuck was I supposed to know that you have a faulty garage remote?”

“You didn’t have to know, asshole,” Yuta snapped, his voice barely audible over another forceful bang on the door. “You just had to wait for two seconds and check whether or not the door shut behind you!”

“I don’t really think that we have time for this,” Kun intercepted nervously. 

It seemed that Yuta agreed. He turned his attention away from Johnny and back onto Taeyong. Behind him, Taeyong saw Johnny walk off and into the kitchen.

“I have a gun upstairs under my bed,” Yuta told him quietly. “Grab it and go out through the window.”

“What the fuck am I supposed to do about him?” Taeyong asked, referring to Johnny who still hadn’t come back from the kitchen.

“Try to lose him,” Yuta explained frantically. “Use the gun if you have to.” He seemed to debate something in his head before deciding with a sigh. It was clear that he didn’t want to say whatever he was about to say. He reached above Kun and grabbed his keys down from the hook, pushing the loop of metal into Taeyong’s chest. “Take my car. It’s parked in the back.”

“I can’t drive,” Taeyong muttered. Johnny came back with his bag slung over his shoulder.

“Learn,” Yuta only said. Another knock. They didn’t have much time left. Yuta turned to the door. “One second!” He looked back at Taeyong. “You fucking owe me for this, okay?”

Taeyong couldn’t think of a single way he could pay Yuta back for all of the trouble that was sure to come with the fact that he had parked a stolen car in his garage but nodded nonetheless. Before he could say anything in response, Yuta was pushing him towards the stairs. He didn’t notice Johnny following after him until after he had made it into Yuta’s bedroom. 

“Oh, fuck off,” Taeyong said, dropping down onto his knees to look under Yuta’s bed. There was a black case towards the back. It took a couple of times for him to reach it but when he finally did Taeyong didn’t waste any time before pushing it open. Inside held a small, sleek .38 caliber pistol. He looked at it for a moment before shoving it in the back of his jeans.

“I’m coming with you,” Johnny said as Taeyong walked over to the window, quickly unlocking it and pushing it open. It was a steep drop but wouldn’t be impossible for him to make without harming himself.

“Yeah fucking right,” Taeyong snorted, moving to stradle the windowsill. “There’s literally no reason for me to stay with you now that I know that you’re not a bounty hunter.”

“What if I tell the police that you’re upstairs trying to escape?” Johnny countered, causing Taeyong to stop moving on the windowsill to glare up at him.

“What if I tell the police that you stole some old woman’s car?” Taeyong hissed through his teeth. “I’m pretty sure she got a pretty good look at your face when she had a gun aimed at it.”

Johnny faltered at that. Downstairs, Taeyong could hear Yuta and Kun speaking to whoever was at their door. Their conversation was distant but Taeyong could tell that they were talking about the car in Yuta’s garage. It seemed like they were only looking for the car and who had stolen it, meaning that he was still safe in the fact that the police had no clue where he was. 

“I’m coming with you,” Johnny repeated sternly. Taeyong was fucking tired of him. Whether he was his one true mate or whatever the fuck he was, Taeyong no longer cared. He pulled the gun from out of his pants and aimed it up at Johnny who immediately backed away, slowly raising his hands up in defense.

“I swear to God I’ll fucking shoot you if you try to follow me,” Taeyong seethed. 

Johnny blinked at him. For a moment, Taeyong was sure that he had gotten through to him. Unfortunately for him, before he could get too comfortable, Johnny was breaking out into a cocky smile. He raised a brow and dropped his hands back down to his sides.

“If you shoot me the police are automatically gonna forget about your friends downstairs and immediately start searching for where and who the gunshot came from,” Johnny pointed out. “You really wanna go down for credit card fraud and first–degree murder?”

As much as Taeyong hated to admit it, Johnny had a point. Sure, shooting Johnny would get him off of his back for good and allow him to leave by himself but the reward would only be temporary. The police that were almost certainly crawling around in both the area and out front would hear the piercing gunshot in the otherwise silent air and drop the topic of the stolen vehicle instantaneously. Even with Yuta’s car, Taeyong wouldn’t be able to make it. Someone would spot him for sure.

He stared at Johnny for a long moment. The police were now inside of the house. He huffed and pushed the gun back into his pants. “Fuck it,” Taeyong muttered quietly. “I’ll deal with you later.

Looking down at the ground before jumping would freak him out for sure so Taeyong made sure to keep his eyes closed as he swung his legs on the opposite side of the windowsill. He really fucking hoped that this wasn’t the way that he died. He inhaled sharply through his nose before pushing himself off.

The first thing Taeyong felt when he hit the ground was a harsh stinging sensation in his shoulder. Tears sprung to his eyes almost immediately. He cursed into the grass underneath him as Johnny landed hard next to him with a pained groan. There was definitely something wrong. He had pulled or broken or torn something and the pain was starting to overwhelm his entire body. 

Johnny crawled over to him and shook him. Taeyong practically screamed, his voice muffled with how his face was buried into the Earth. “Yong, we’ve gotta go,” Johnny said, lifting Taeyong up from off the ground as gentle as he was able. Taeyong could tell that he was trying to move him as lightly as possible but almost every touch hurt. He gritted his teeth and let Johnny take him behind a bush, pushing him down to where he was out of sight. Above him, Taeyong could hear the same voice who had been demanding to be let in along with another he didn’t recognize. He couldn’t make out what they were saying.

“Jesus Christ,” Johnny muttered once they had gone, pushing some hair out of his face. He was staring down at Taeyong’s shoulder. Taeyong looked down and sobbed wetly at the sight of his bone very clearly dislocated, dropping his head back against the brick of Yuta’s house behind him. “I have to push it back in, Yong.”

“No,” Taeyong said back, shaking his head frantically. That would hurt so bad. He wouldn’t be able to stand it. “Fuck you.”

Johnny ignored him and reached over to pull a branch off of the bush in front of him. He pulled a couple of leaves off and dropped them to the ground, holding it up to Taeyong’s mouth. Taeyong made the mistake of moving and cried out again, tears hot and sticky against his cheeks. It hurt so fucking bad he felt like he could pass out. If the pain continued on like this, he very well might have.

“It’ll only keep hurting if you don’t let me pop it back in,” Johnny continued. “Let me fix it.”

Getting the bone relocated would hurt more than anything. Taeyong’s stomach churned at the thought of it. Still, he didn’t know how much longer he could stand the pain of his bone being out of place. Having Johnny snap it back in would fill him with a sort of paralyzing agony but keeping it like this would only hurt worse and worse as time continued to go on. 

So, Taeyong took the branch from Johnny with a wet sniffle and pushed it in between his teeth. Johnny looked at him to see if he was ready and Taeyong was shaking as he nodded. Without wasting another second, Johnny took hold of Taeyong’s arm and started to slowly lift it above his head. Taeyong whined loudly, sobbing around the branch while he squeezed his eyes shut. 

Taeyong let out a gut–wrenching shriek around the branch in his mouth when Johnny suddenly jerked his arm, snapping the bone back into place. He immediately spit it out and moved to cradle his arm, crying as he fell to the ground. Resetting it had hurt almost as much as it had dislocating it. A sharp feeling of soreness traveled up his arm, dizzying Taeyong as he muffled his cries into the grass. As time went on, he realized that the pain was worse than it had been earlier. The dull but sharp throbbing pain was too much for Taeyong to bear. 

“Hey, come here,” Johnny mumbled, pulling Taeyong up from the ground and into his chest. “You’re alright. It’s alright.”

Taeyong buried his face into the fabric of Johnny’s button–up and cried. The pain wasn’t showing any sign of letting up. He liked to think of himself as a strong person but easily had to be the worst pain he had to endure in his entire fucking life. Johnny held him for a long while, letting him soak his shirt in his tears. When too much time had started to pass, he ran a hand through Taeyong’s hair and coerced him to pull up.

“We gotta go,” Johnny said and Taeyong sniffled. His arm still felt heavy and hadn’t stopped throbbing. Johnny must notice this and tried to pull him back in only for Taeyong to push him away weakly. He was still in pain but it was subdued enough to the point where he no longer had to depend on Johnny to comfort him. 

He probably shouldn’t have done that anyway. After all, he was supposed to be trying to get away from Johnny, not closer to him.

Taeyong forced himself up from the ground while still cradling his injured arm and Johnny followed shortly thereafter. He wobbled a little bit and Johnny was quickly behind him to make sure that he stayed up. Taeyong was quick to shove him away, wincing through his teeth at the spark of pain that followed almost immediately afterward.

“Don’t fucking touch me,” Taeyong muttered, starting to make his way towards Yuta’s car parked haphazardly on the concrete in front of him. As expected, Johnny followed. “Go away,” Taeyong said, practically whining at this point. 

“I’m coming with you,” Johnny repeated steadily. Taeyong really didn’t have time for this. It wouldn’t be long until the police made their way to the back and caught the both of them—but mostly Taeyong—in the act of escaping. 

“No, you’re not,” Taeyong snapped, unlocking the car. Before he could open the door to the driver’s seat, Johnny was stepping in front of him. 

“You can’t drive,” Johnny pointed out, referring to Taeyong’s wounded arm. He took a moment to think about it even further. “I mean, you can’t drive at all but you definitely can’t drive with your arm like that.

Johnny was right. It would be hard for him to drive in his current state and even harder considering the fact that the first time he had driven was only a couple of hours ago. He didn’t know what he would do if the reason he had gotten caught was because some officer pulled him over for driving erratically. Dying of shame and disappointment in himself was probably the most obvious.

He really didn’t want to travel anywhere with Johnny. He was reckless and stupid and dangerous, even more so now that Taeyong had gotten his confirmation that Johnny was most definitely not a bounty hunter and had some sort of personal vendetta against him. But Johnny could drive the both of them away from the swarm of officers all lingering nearby. All Taeyong had to do was keep himself safe until they were long gone from Gwangju. Once that was done, he could worry about getting as far away from Johnny as possible. 

“Give me your bag,” Taeyong commanded.

“No,” Johnny said with a small frown, holding his back closer to him at the mention of it.

“Then fuck off,” Taeyong seethed, moving around Johnny to try and open the door again. Johnny pushed him away before he was able. Taeyong glared up at him, opening his mouth to snap at him. The action of Johnny handing over his bag stopped him right in the middle of it.

Taeyong snatched the bag from Johnny with the hand attached to his functioning hand and immediately pulled it open. It took him a moment to find what he was looking for but when he did he was quick to pull them out. Johnny made a move to grab at them but Taeyong was quicker, flipping them behind his back before Johnny’s hand could reach his. 

“We’re getting rid of these,” Taeyong said, throwing the handcuffs as far away from the both of them as possible before Johnny could protest. Johnny made a choked noise in the back of his throat but didn’t try to retrieve the cuffs, staring at them longingly where they had landed in a patch of dirt about a yard away from them. 

“Those were expensive,” Johnny muttered, looking back at Taeyong who had started to walk around the car to the side opposite the driver.

“I don’t give a shit,” Taeyong told him before climbing into the car. He heard Johnny sigh quietly to himself before he got in as well. Once inside, Johnny went to grab the keys from Taeyong’s open palm. Before he was able to take them, Taeyong was pulling back quickly. Johnny sighed again. “Listen,” Taeyong started sharply. “I don’t care what the fuck Kun and Yuta is under the impression that we are.”

“I also don’t care,” Johnny cut in before Taeyong could continue. 

“Listen,” Taeyong repeated through a sharp hiss. “I don’t give a fuck what kind of vendetta you have against me—.”

“—I don’t,” Johnny lied again.

“—Shut up!” Taeyong shouted, filling the whole car with his small voice. “If you try anything stupid, I will shoot you, got it?” Johnny didn’t say anything in response. “Got it?”

“Yes,” Johnny finally snapped. Taeyong stared at him for only a couple of seconds longer before handing over the keys. Johnny started up the car with a mumble of something under his breath. Taeyong didn’t care enough to press on what he had said. “Where are we even going?” Johnny asked, glancing over at Taeyong.

Taeyong had to think about it for a moment. He didn’t know. They had come to Gwangju to figure out everything with them being mated but he had never thought anything past that. Yuta was supposed to have broke him out and cut off any and all contact with Johnny for good. What was the plan after that, though? He had to have had a plan seeing that staying in Korea was no longer an option.

“Incheon,” Taeyong said after a moment. “You’re gonna drop me off in Incheon.”

“So any place in Incheon that I desire or are you maybe gonna be a little more specific?” Johnny snorted sarcastically. 

“The airport,” Taeyong retorted. Johnny stared at him for a couple of seconds, clearly not having expected him to say that. Taeyong blinked back at him defensively. Finally, Johnny raised his eyebrows and exhaled slowly through his mouth. 

“Fine,” Johnny said, switching the gear into reverse. “Good luck getting on a plane with half of Korea looking for you.”

“Shut the fuck up and drive,” is the only thing Taeyong responded with. 

 

***

 

“Oh, my god,” Donghyuck said for the hundredth time since he and Yoonoh had been interrupted with their game of Go Fish by two men dressed in dark blue button–ups and caps marked with the official insignia of the Korean National Police Agency. The two men weren’t but a couple of feet away from them both hunched over the screen underneath the counter that was currently replaying the events of two days ago at around 3:34PM.

He was pacing back and forth between the ramen aisle and the snack aisle while Yoonoh sat in between the both of them, tracing the cracks of the tiled floor beneath him. A lot was going through Donghyuck’s head at the moment. What if their boss fired them for not being more vigilant? What if this got out and people at school labeled him as the idiot who couldn’t recognize a criminal? Why hadn’t he been able to identify the same man that his younger sister had been gushing about for the past month? Why was Yoonoh so calm about everything? Donghyuck felt like he could easily explode with all the questions he had. 

“What if they send us to jail?” Donghycuk mumbled, looking down at Yoonoh who had recently grabbed a bag of tteokbokki chips and split them open. “Why aren’t you more worried about this?”

“It’s not like I committed any crime,” Yoonoh shrugged, throwing a handful of chips into his mouth. “You didn’t either.”

That was true. It wasn’t their fault that they weren’t fully accustomed with every single criminal that went in and out of Korea. Still, Donghyuck couldn’t help but be worried. It seemed messy. It felt like there was some way out there for them to be blamed.

“What if we get fired?” Donghyuck questioned, pushing a finger into his mouth to bite at his nails. It was a bad habit that his mother absolutely couldn’t stand but he couldn’t help it. He was stressed out. “Our boss could get mad at us for bringing bad publicity to the store.”

“Would bad publicity have come either way considering that we got visited by a criminal?” Yoonoh pointed out. That was also true.

Donghyuck decided not to respond and watched the police continue to work. Their murmuring was inaudible as they clicked through the footage of the two men that had come in. One pointed out how the smaller man came out of the bathroom with different colored hair than he had entered with. Donghyuck hadn’t noticed that. 

“Who do you think the other guy was?” Donghyuck asked Yoonoh in a low whisper.

“His mate,” Yoonoh answered casually, pushing his hand back in the bag. On a normal day, Donghyuck would chastise Yoonoh for eating merchandise while on the clock. Today, he decided to let it go. “They fucking reeked of each other.”

“I forgot you were a beta,” Donghyuck, sitting down on the floor next to Yoonoh. “What’s it like?”

“Boring,” Yoonoh said, offering the chips over to Donghyuck who gratefully accepted. “It’s nice, though. I like it.”

Donghyuck opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by the shorter officer of the two approaching both him and Yoonoh. He shot up from the ground and was quick to bow. Yoonoh only blinked up at the man before pushing another handful of chips into his mouth. 

“You can, um,” the officer stopped to clear his throat. “You can stand back up now, son.”

Donghyuck stood back up as quickly and as straight as he could. The man seemed to be startled by how sharply he had moved but didn’t say anything about it. His partner joined him at his side and Donghyuck went to bow again but was stopped by the shorter officer shaking his head firmly at him. Donghyuck nodded in response. 

“I think we’ve got all that we need here,” the shorter officer said, flipping his notepad over and pushing it into one of the back pockets of his pants. He didn’t look much older than Yoonoh but still put out this kind of energy that made him easy to look up to. The patch stitched onto the pocket of his shirt read KIM DONGYOUNG.

“We just have a couple of questions if that’s okay with you guys?” the taller officer asked. His patch said KIM JUNGWOO. Donghyuck nodded again, so fast that he could have easily given himself whiplash. 

“Of course,” Donghyuck said breathlessly. Yoonoh snorted quietly from below.

“Do you two have any idea where they could have gone?” Officer Dongyong asked, raising a brow. “We know your interaction with them was short but did they mention anything about going to another city? Maybe even another county nearby?”

Donghyuck took a moment to think about it. Their conversation had only really consisted of him and Yoonoh mistaking one of them as an idol and the purchase of gum. It hadn’t gone any deeper than that. 

“Nope,” Yoonoh answered before Donghyuck had the chance to. Officer Dongyoung blinked down at him but didn’t push it.

“Could you describe everything that happened between you and them?” Officer Jungwoo started. Yoonoh cut in again. 

“They came in and the taller one bought blonde hair dye,” Yoonoh said, pausing to yawn. “They went into the bathroom for about a half an hour. I was pretty sure that they were having sex so I told them to get out of the bathroom and that my boss didn’t like people coming in and doing that. They came out and bought some gum and then they left.”

“Do people have sex in your bathroom often?” Officer Dongyoung snorted. It was clear that he was being sarcastic.

“About once or twice a year,” Yoonoh answered. “Usually around the holidays. You don’t have to put that in your files, though. I take care of it.”

Officer Dongyoung stared at Yoonoh for a long moment before sighing. “And you said something about them being mates?” he finally asked, pulling out his notepad again. 

“Yup,” Yoonoh nodded confidently. 

Dongyoung wrote that down on notepad while Officer Jungwoo turned to Donghyuck. “Anything else you might know?” he said with a small smile. 

Donghyuck took a moment to think about it. Then, something sparked suddenly in his head. “Oh!” he exclaimed, catching the attention of Officer Dongyoung who looked up at his excitement. “The one guy’s name was Johnny!” He held his hand high above his head. “The really tall one.” “Johnny?” Jungwoo asked, frowning a little. “Are you sure that was his name?”

“Yup,” Donghyuck chirped. “I heard the small one call him that right before they bought the gum.”

The two officers looked at one another before Dongyoung finally sighed and closed his notepad again. He pushed it into his pocket as Jungwoo leaned forward to hand Donghyuck back the key he had taken from him earlier. 

“Thanks, guys,” Jungwoo said. “You’ve both been really helpful.”

Donghyuck bowed again and Yoonoh rolled his eyes before pushing himself up from the ground. He held his hand out for both of the men to shake. It took Donghyuck a couple of seconds before he realized that him still being bent at an angle was no longer necessary. 

“Let us know if you think of anything else, okay?” Dongyoung offered out a card with his name on it along with a phone number. Donghyuck took it graciously.

“Will do,” Donghyuck promised before stuffing the card into his pocket. With that, the two men left. Yoonoh sat back down on the floor and picked up his chips. He went to grab some more, frowning upon realizing that there was nothing less. Donghyuck blinked at him before reaching down and snatching the empty bag from him. “Stop eating the merchandise.”

Yoonoh only scoffed in response before moving to grab another bag from the row of chips stacked neatly beside him.