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take the money and run

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Johnny wasn’t the black sheep of his family per se. It was more that he was kind of invisible to most of them. They knew he was there and acknowledged his existence when they were around him but other than that, Johnny faded into the back for them. It wasn’t something that they did on purpose. It simply was.

It was because of his brother, Matthew. His brother that had always excelled in everything he did since the moment he was born. He started to sit up before Johnny, started walking before Johnny, started reading before Johnny. At around six or seven, their parents decided to get their IQ levels tested. Johnny’s came out average but Matthew’s? Well, Matthew was nothing short of a genius and upon realizing that, their mother and father decided to put all of their time and energy into their older son that was almost certain to go far in life. 

For a long while, Johnny didn’t really mind it. Sure, his parents stopped paying as much attention to him but it didn’t matter to him because Matthew was still nice. They hung out together 24/7 when Matthew wasn’t caught up in some scholastic contest their parents had enrolled him in or studying. Matthew was his best friend and vice versa. Everything was fine for a long time.

Until they got into high school. Their parents had come to a decision to uproot the family before either boy went into their first year of their final leg of school and move to Seoul. Johnny thought it was kind of cool. Matthew wasn’t too happy about it but had never spoken out against his parents and wouldn’t start now. The first week of school was definitely weird. School in Korea was a lot different than school in Chicago. People weren’t as friendly and the teachers cracked down hard on their students. It didn’t take long for Johnny to come to the decision that he didn’t like it one bit. 

Matthew, however, loved it. People thought he was handsome and naturally flocked to him. He was smart and easily became the top of their class. During their second year, Matthew was recruited to both class president and class representative. The teachers absolutely adored him. There wasn’t a single part of his day that he didn’t enjoy. Johnny tried hard to adapt to the environment as well as Matthew had but was already crippled with the weight of not speaking Korean well due to his parents never really attempting to teach it to him. He studied as much as he could but also spent a lot of his time in the library teaching himself the language that he was constantly surrounded with since moving to Seoul. By his second year, Johnny could basically carry a conversation without any issue but his grades started to drastically lower with the lack of time he had spent on his schoolwork. 

Matthew started to treat him like he was a burden which hurt. He never wanted to hang out with him anymore. When Johnny tried to spend time with him, Matthew would always shoot him down and say that he had better things to do. At a certain point, Johnny stopped. He realized that Matthew was embarrassed of him and wanted nothing to do with him. It was a drastic change from their childhood but Johnny forced himself to accept it. There was no use in hanging onto something that would never be there. He still held out a little bit of hope though. Maybe Matthew was going through a phase. 

Johnny made friends. A boy who was a year lower than him named Mark who was originally from Canada but ultimately got swooped off to Seoul after a nasty divorce. Another named Hansol who didn’t really talk but was always good to have around. A girl called Yerim who often got made fun of by the other girls in class because of her visuals but was easily the sweetest girl Johnny had ever met. The two of them ended up dating all the way until graduation where Yerim broke it off with him as nicely as possible, explaining that college was extremely important to her and she didn’t want to risk ruining anything for herself because of a small distraction such as a boyfriend. It had hurt Johnny for sure but he understood and let her go. They still talked every now and again. Yerim was dating some guy from Germany named Finn and had since graduated college, on route to becoming a conservation scientist.

Matthew graduated a year before Johnny and went on to start a company with a classmate he had met during his first year of college. Their parents were a little unsure about his decision but were proven wrong about a half a year later when Matthew’s company was bought out by one of the biggest companies in South Korea. By the time Johnny had graduated college with a degree in socialism, Matthew was one of Korea’s most successful entrepreneurs. He had links in America and Canada and Spain and hundreds upon thousands of people working for him. Of course, he invited Johnny to come work with—read: for —him once he had graduated. Johnny didn’t particularly want to but was pushed to do so by his family.

It didn’t take long for Johnny to realize that Matthew’s company was extremely corrupt. People had money stolen from them on a daily basis. People were scammed. What made it worse was that the people being most affected by Matthew’s company were the working–class who couldn’t really afford to be looped into a gruesome hole. Johnny hated seeing it but didn’t say anything for a long while. He needed to support himself and whether he liked his presence or not, Matthew paid him handsomely.

* It wasn’t until Johnny found out about what Matthew had going on deeper in the company. People were being trafficked and both young men and women—some actual children —were being sold off to the highest bidder. It wasn’t only that but people were being killed when they couldn’t afford to pay their dues or disagreed with what was happening around them and threatened to go to the authorities. People were being hurt. Families were being split apart. *

All of that for fucking money. 

Johnny went to his parents about it first. His mother looked disgusted and had opened her mouth to say something but was quickly interrupted by his father who spoke up over her and told Johnny that what was happening wasn’t any of his business and called him disgusting for trying to tear down his brother who had given him so much. Johnny was dumbstruck. He had known for a long while that his family had a nasty habit of overlooking the shit that Matthew did because of their favoritism but this was on a whole new level. This was fucking criminal. 

Johnny quit. There wasn’t much he could do other than that. He moved in with his friend Mark from high school who surprisingly still lived in the area and was currently working towards becoming a music producer. He wasn’t all that successful but still seemed happy. Mark had a lot to say about Matthew when Johnny finally explained why he quit his job that gave him a salary much higher than six–figures. He mentioned going to the police about it but Johnny quickly reminded him of all fo the people who had tried to take Matthew to court because of the shit he did and always ultimately ended up shunned or quieted. 

It went on like that for a year. Johnny grew sick of hearing Matthew’s name in the media, seeing articles and interviews and people who looked up to him, everyone hailing him a modern hero. People knew of the allegations against him but it didn’t seem like anyone really cared. There were a select few that petitioned against him; young girls that stood outside of the company headquarters on chilly days with their hoods pulled tight over their heads, furiously handing out fliers and trying to get anybody who happened to be walking past to sign some sheet of paper that they thought would help to bring Matthew down but unfortunately, their cries always ended up drowned out by all of the overall approval that Matthew got. 

It was a stupid thing for him to do but he did it. Johnny knew that there had to be something inside of the building that would be enough for people to actually believe that Matthew was a horrible fucking person and shouldn’t be idolized or praised. He waited for the building to close for the night and broke in using a nearby brick. He had made it all the way up into Matthew’s office on the 15th floor of the building when the police came bursting in with their guns poised and ready to shoot, responding to a silent alarm that had immediately gone off the moment Johnny had stepped foot inside. 

He was talked about in the media. People called him an idiot. Said that he was some sort of communist that hated the fact that Matthew was successful. Most called him jealous. His case was taken all the way to court until Matthew finally decided to drop the charges. A lot of people called him generous for doing so but Johnny knew that he had only done that for his own sake. He was never going to let him go to prison. The only reason why Matthew hadn’t immediately intervened was because of the fact that he wanted to teach Johnny a lesson for his attempt to speak out against him. Johnny was sentenced to probation and six months’ worth of community service in which Matthew was able to convince the judge to Johnny working for his company again. Much to Johnny’s chagrin, the judge agreed. 

Johnny had been at work for about two and a half months or so. Mark had moved out and left him the apartment after deciding to relocate to Jeonju with his new girlfriend. Johnny thought his decision was dumb and a little impulsive but still supported him regardless. Within the first month, Johnny was left by himself. He brought people home every now and again but never tried to pursue a real relationship with any of them. To be completely honest, being forced to work for his brother’s sickening company made Johnny feel like shit about himself and he quickly spiraled into a sort of depression that he refused to acknowledge, simply counting down the time until it would all be over. 

The news about Matthew being one of the victims of some tiny Omega who had stolen from over ten of South Korea’s wealthiest men was easily the best thing Johnny had heard all year. He had never been the type to wish misfortune on people but it honestly made him happy to hear that someone had finally given Matthew the karma that he deserved. He knew that whoever had done it definitely didn’t think anything of it and had only done it for his own selfish reasons but Johnny was still extremely thankful for him, this being especially true when Matthew’s stocks started to fall drastically and companies started to pull out from deals with him. People no longer saw him as the amazing humanitarian entrepreneur that they had for the past couple of years. They saw him for who he really was—a sick man who did a lot of sick things. And although some of the reasons why the general public hated Matthew were different than the reasons Johnny hated Matthew, Johnny still could appreciate the company.

He definitely wasn’t meant to overhear the fact that Matthew was beyond pissed about this kid and the fact that even if he was detained right there and then, he still will have gotten away with dragging his name through the mud and inadvertently stealing millions of won from him and even more so that Matthew was planning his revenge in what was easily the worst way possible. Johnny simply couldn’t stand by and let him do it. He had been forced to stand aside and watch Matthew hurt person after person but quickly realized that this was something that he could do something about. This was one person—who, even though was a criminal—that he could and would save.

Johnny trailed Taeyong for a week. He wasn’t all that hard to find and definitely wasn’t any good at hiding. It was wonder that Taeyong hadn’t gotten himself caught yet. He did things so recklessly and walked around like no one could touch him. In fact, Johnny was certain that if he hadn’t picked Taeyong up that night, either the police or the men sent to find him would have captured him.

Taeyong was a fucking asshole. It was kind of ironic that someone so small and sweet–looking could be so mean. He was a handful. He didn’t like to listen and liked to share his spit way too much. Johnny considered telling him the real reason why he had picked him up in the first place in order to get him to calm down if only a little but always decided against it upon realizing that Taeyong knowing would only distrust him even further than he already did. After all, how else would he respond upon being told that someone was out to kill him and the person who was supposedly here to “save” him was that person’s fucking brother. Telling Taeyong the truth was simply a recipe for disaster. 

But Taeyong wasn’t such an asshole sometimes. He was still an asshole but there were moments where he would mellow out a little and show another side to him that Johnny could appreciate. It wasn’t until they had left Yuta’s house together with the understanding that him and Taeyong were both part of this whole soul bond thing that Johnny finally realized this. Taeyong wasn’t a bad person. He was fucking irritating and mean–spirited and never knew how to shut his fucking mouth more often than not but he wasn’t horrible and Johnny could see that. He didn’t know whether or not it was his body instinctually reacting to Taeyong being his mate for life or if there was something deeper to it but Johnny really could see himself having some kind of future with Taeyong. After all, he had some good in him. He was pretty. He smelled nice. Johnny could think of a few other things to back him up. 

If Taeyong could stop being such a fucking bitch. 

Johnny had made the decision to stop at Mark’s house way before Taeyong had passed out. Them being out of the road after what had happened at the gas station was far too risky and they both needed to rest. Plus, Johnny desperately needed some advice from someone who he trusted after being slammed with the bombshell that he was now a wanted criminal. Going to Mark’s place was perfect. 

Mark had frowned at him when he opened the door. He was clearly surprised to see Johnny there and opened his mouth to speak but quickly closed it about double–taking at the small Omega Johnny had cradled in his arms. He scoffed a little but opened the door for Johnny to come in, pointing him up the stairs to put Taeyong down.

When Johnny came back down, Mark was patiently waiting for him. He had his arms folded across his chest in a way that let Johnny know that Mark had some type of notion that he had gotten himself into a sticky situation. Johnny went to speak but couldn’t really think of what to start with. His decision to pick up Taeyong? The fact that he had mated the same kid who was currently wanted by not only the law, but his very dangerous, very vengeful brother? How he was now under the police’s radar? Johnny ended up running a hand through his hair, offering Mark a small smile. 

“What happened to Jieun?” Johnny asked, referring to Mark’s girlfriend who had been the very reason the two of them had lost contact to begin with. Mark only blinked at him before sighing.

“Let’s try that again,” Mark proposed and Johnny huffed in response.

“His name is Taeyong,” Johnny explained slowly. “And he’s my Omega.”

Mark stared at him for a long moment. He blinked slowly, clearly trying to process what Johnny had told him. Johnny looked around the room. There really wasn’t a trace of Jieun anywhere. He wondered how long ago the two of them had broken up and why. It was probably Mark’s fault. He was really hard–headed. 

“So your Omega is the dude who fucked over Matthew a couple of months ago?” Mark asked. Johnny hesitated for a moment before nodding. Mark immediately groaned in response. “Johnny, are you fucking kidding me?”

Johnny knew that this was going to be Mark’s reaction. He had never really been for how impulsive Johnny was. He thought that it was stupid and would only end up with Johnny getting some type of trouble that he wouldn’t be able to get himself out of. Johnny guessed that in a way Mark was right. He wasn’t going to say that though. It was more humbling than Johnny could handle at the moment. 

He figured that he should probably tell Johnny what he had recently figured out about himself as well. It was only fair that Mark knew that he would be harboring not only one but two fugitives in his house. “I’m also wanted,” Johnny added on quietly. 

“I fucking know,” Mark seethed, walking over to the table not too far away from him and Johnny to pick up his phone. Johnny watched as he unlocked it and pulled something up before holding up his phone for him to see. It was a picture of him from his first year of college captioned with “HARBORING A FUGITIVE”. There was a picture of Taeyong right next to it with the caption “FRAUD & EXTORTION”. He looked a little younger than he did now in the photo but just as mean with dark hair that right about covered his big eyes. Johnny hummed and pointed at the picture of himself. 

“Did you know that I got accepted into Yonsei?” Johnny said, smiling a little at the end of his sentence. Mark immediately smacked him in the side of his head. 

“I don’t give a shit, Johnny!” Mark exclaimed loudly, causing Johnny to quickly shush him in fear that Taeyong would wake up. Mark didn’t really seem to catch his drift.  “You’re wanted for harboring a fucking fugitive! What the fuck is that?”

“Matthew was gonna hurt him!” Johnny defended quietly. 

“Who gives a shit?” Mark shouted, his eyes going wider than normal. “Dude, it’s not like he doesn’t deserve it! He stole from, like, fifteen different people!”

And Johnny wasn’t really for stealing from anyone but if you absolutely had to steal, Johnny could understand why one would steal from the rich. It wasn’t like the amount he stole from any of those men actually impacted them in the long run. It was true that the whole thing had put their careers in jeopardy and took money away from them in the sense of a long–term sense but even that didn’t matter. The money Taeyong had stolen from all of those men originally probably barely put a dent in their bank accounts. Johnny knew for sure that Taeyong stealing from Matthew had done practically nothing to his wealth. 

“He stole from people like Matthew!” Johnny said back sharply. He wasn’t being defensive of Taeyong as much as he was being the defensive of the fact that Mark seemed to be siding with the horrible people who basically ran Korea at the moment. 

“He still stole!” Mark snapped angrily. “You think the police give a fuck about the people he stole from and what they do behind closed doors? They fucking don’t! All they about is the fact that he committed a fucking crime and now they’re thinking the same about you!”

Johnny didn’t say anything after that. He didn’t have anything to say. After all, Mark was right. The police had never shown any care about all the corrupt shit Matthew had been accused of doing, why would they care about it now? The only thing they were there to do was arrest the boy who had stolen from the men that were basically their superiors and the man who had helped him escape. Johnny sucked in a sharp breath at the thought. It was scary. He had never once considered the possibility of going to prison, not even when he had gotten arrested last year. He didn’t know how well he would do in there and knew for sure that someone with as big a mouth as Taeyong wouldn’t last a second.

He sat down at the table Mark had snatched up his phone from and sighed, burying his face in his hands.

This was bad. This was really fucking bad. He didn’t know what to do. All of this was never meant to happen. He was supposed to take Taeyong to Seoul to help him avoid the men pursuing him and it had ended in him being labeled a dangerous criminal. The title would only worsen once authorities found out he had stolen a car and helped rob a gas station at gunpoint. It was quiet for a moment. Then Johnny screamed into his hands, his voice muffled but still loud enough to cause Mark to flinch.

“What the fuck am I gonna do, Mark?” Johnny finally asked, groaning.

“Get out of town,” Mark proposed, his voice having lost a little of his edge. He sat down next to Johnny at the table and rubbed a calming hand over Johnny’s back. “Or the fucking country. Jesus Christ, John.”

“I know,” Johnny mumbled. All he could think about was the fact that none of this was supposed to end up this way. As stupid as it sounded, he didn’t have a backup plan. He had never considered thinking of one due to his confidence that everything was going to go well, even after he had mated Taeyong. Mark kept rubbing at his back. 

“You can only stay here for so long,” Mark reminded him. 

“I know,” Johnny repeated, sighing. He wondered if his parents had found out about his current status. They probably hard. Matthew knew for sure. That was another thing Johnny hadn’t once thought of. It wasn’t only the police on his— their —back but Matthew almost definitely had his men out looking for him. He wondered if Matthew had been the one who had sold him out to the police. He definitely wouldn’t put it past him.

“You care about people too much,” Mark continued. That was probably true. That was unquestionably sure. Johnny had gone through his entire life caring too much about people. It was more of a blessing than a curse. After all, nobody really cared about moralities nowadays.

Johnny didn’t want to talk about it anymore. He knew that it was careless and irresponsible and what the fuck he was gonna do was something he definitely should have been thinking about but he couldn’t do it anymore. He was tired and sensitive and his entire body had felt like it was on fire since the moment he and Taeyong had climbed into Yuta’s car. Johnny needed a nap and a fucking shower. He needed a shower more than anything. 

“Can we talk about this later?” Johnny asked quietly. “I’m really fucking tired.”

Mark inhaled a sharp breath. Johnny could tell that that was the absolute last thing he wanted for him to do. Still, Mark exhaled slowly and nodded, pushing himself up from his seat. Johnny was beyond grateful to see it. 

“Yeah,” Mark sighed. “I’ve only got one bedroom though so you’re gonna have to sleep with your little friend upstairs.” He stopped and took a moment to think about it, shaking his head. “Wait a second. Why does he smell like that? Why do you smell like that? Why the fuck does he smell like you? Why can I fucking smell you?”

Right. The last time Johnny had seen Mark, he wasn’t an Alpha. He actually wasn’t anything close to an Alpha. He had almost forgotten that Mark was one himself and could sniff out those like him. Johnny ran a hand through his hair and offered the younger a small, sheepish smile.

“I presented,” Johnny told him and Mark almost looked like he was going to go into cardiac arrest right there and then. “Weird, isn’t it? I’m still getting used to it.”

“You’re a fucking Alpha?” Mark exclaimed and Johnny nodded. Mark hesitated again. “Please don’t tell me that you’re mated to him.” Johnny didn’t say anything to that. What could he say? Mark groaned at Johnny’s lack of response and folded both hands over his face, muffling a disappointed little noise into his palms. “Jesus Christ, Johnny!”

“I’m gonna warn you right now that I’m not emotionally stable enough for this conversation,” Johnny said.

“Neither am I!” Mark borderline snapped. He groaned again and looked around the room before walking off. Johnny waited patiently at the table until Mark came back around holding a couple of blankets and a pillow all wrapped up into a ball in his arms. He dropped them down in Johnny’s lap with a huff. Johnny blinked down at the bundle.

“What is this for?” Johnny asked, frowning. 

“You to sleep on the couch,” Mark explained, gesturing for Johnny to stand up. Johnny did so while keeping a firm grip on the mess that Mark had handed to him. 

“What happened to me sleeping upstairs?” Johnny questioned.

“That was before I fucking knew that you were an Alpha,” Mark said sharply. Johnny still wasn’t understanding. “Dude, you reek. I’m pretty sure you’re in pre–rut and I don’t want you attacking the kid upstairs while he’s unconscious.”

Pre–rut? What the fuck was that? Johnny remembered being taught about the dynamics of Alphas and Omegas and Betas in school but had never really paid attention. Why should he have? It wasn’t like he was an Alpha. Up until a couple of weeks ago Johnny had been under the impression that you presented as an Alpha when you going through puberty. After his fifteenth birthday he and his family had ruled out the possibility of him presenting altogether. Nobody in their immediate family was of the dynamic anyway but his parents still had kept an eye out for him and Matthew just in case. Now he was twenty–four and Mark was telling him that he was in pre–rut. It was kind of crazy how life worked out. 

Mark must register his confusion because he was sighing for the umpteenth time since Johnny had come in and shaking his head. He walked behind Johnny and started to push him out the kitchen and towards what Johnny was assuming was going to be the living room. 

“I’ll explain when you wake up, okay?” Mark said. “It smells like you’re in the pretty early stages of it so we should still have time even after you sleep.”

Johnny didn’t protest. He didn’t have the energy to and honestly definitely didn’t have the energy to listen to whatever Mark was going to explain to him about his new body. Once in the living room, Mark pointed him to the couch in the middle of the room. Johnny didn’t hesitate before walking over to it, flopping down with a small grunt. It was a little lumpy but still a lot more comfortable than what he had been sleeping on for the past couple of days. 

“I’m glad you’re here, man,” Mark admitted quietly as Johnny went to kick his muddied shoes off. “Actually, now that I think about it, I’m not,” Mark corrected himself and Johnny laughed softly. “But I’m glad to see you.”

“Me too,” Johnny said. He looked up at Mark who looked as anxious as he currently felt. “I can figure this out, alright? Don’t worry.”

“I hope so,” Mark only mumbled in response. Johnny did too.

 


 

After a couple of days coupled up with Taeyong like the two of them didn’t absolutely loathe each other’s presence—although it more Taeyong feeing that way then it ever had been Johnny—Johnny was really starting to feel a connection with Taeyong. He knew that he probably shouldn’t have and also knew that it was probably more of his natural instincts telling him to grow close to his mate but Johnny still couldn’t deny that he had been enjoying Taeyong’s company further past all the fucking they had done. 

Taeyong was so pretty. His hair had grown a lot since they first come in contact with one another and seeing that the dye hadn’t taken too well to the bleached strands, most of it had started to fade. He had this perpetual frown on his heart–shaped lips that Johnny kind of hated seeing more often than not but still could appreciate how pretty his small mouth was with or without the frown. His eyes were so fucking big and brown and while they always held some sort of anger or irritation or frustration, Johnny couldn’t help but notice how youthful they helped make Taeyong look. And he was so small. He was so fucking small that Johnny could pick him up without even slightly straining. His wrists and thighs and arms and fucking everything was so thin and pretty that Johnny almost couldn’t stand it. 

He was a lot nicer during rut. When Johnny was all overwhelmed and exhausted, even though Taeyong had taken the brunt of all of his anger and frustration and could barely walk, he still made sure to tend to him and make sure that he was okay. Johnny knew that was simply Taeyong responding to his instincts as he was when he would throw Taeyong against the nearest surface and fuck him within an inch of his life but it was still something he appreciated. He liked it when Taeyong would cradle the side of his face and talk him out of his rut–muddled mind while his knot was going down inside of him. He also liked it when Taeyong was too out of it once it was all said and done to say anything mean or snarky to him. He would be too exhausted to do anything but tell Johnny to shut up through a small mumble and let him carry him over to the bathroom. 

Now Johnny was in rut anymore. Taeyong wasn’t overwhelmed by pheromones and him anymore. Which gave him the energy to be a complete and utter asshole like he normally was as he pulled the rice he had taken out from Mark’s fridge from the microwave and blinked over at him with an unimpressed look on his face before turning his attention back over to Mark who had just asked him the question about what he and Johnny were going to do with the police after the both of them. 

“I’m leaving the country,” Taeyong said with a small shrug. There was a pause that lingered throughout the otherwise silent air of the kitchen. Then Mark laughed all breathily and in disbelief. Johnny noticed the way that Taeyong’s face kind of faltered at the sound of it. 

“You’re kidding, right?” Mark questioned. Taeyong didn’t say anything in response to that, only pushing a spoonful of the rice he had taken out into his mouth. “How exactly are you expecting for you and Johnny to be able to leave the country without two dozen police officers flagging you the second you step into the airport?”

Johnny could see the way Taeyong’s expression had changed. He did it a lot. That little look where he would scoff and roll his eyes. He had grown used to seeing it in his time around Taeyong. He knew what was going to come out of Taeyong’s mouth in response to Mark’s question before Taeyong even opened his mouth to say it.

“I never said anything about Johnny,” Taeyong said and even though Johnny had been expecting it, he couldn’t help but frown. In a way, guessing how Taeyong was going to respond hadn’t left him any room to prepare himself for the aftermath of his words. 

“What do you mean?” Johnny couldn’t stop himself from asking. It wasn’t like he had expected for him and Taeyong to run off together and live happily ever after but couldn’t believe that Taeyong was going to just leave him alone like that while knowing the kind of a situation he was in. It seemed kind of heartless, even for Taeyong. Taeyong’s eyes shot over to look at him after Johnny had asked the question and he did the face again only this time it was paired with a small frown. He opened his mouth to speak but Mark beat him to the point.

“You’re leaving without Johnny?” Mark spoke up with a disgusted look on his face that was only deepening with each passing moment. 

The conversation only got worse from there. Johnny could tell that Taeyong started to get defensive the moment that him and Mark had basically asked him the same question twice in a row. Mark was getting angrier by the minute and Taeyong looked beyond frustrated with the fact that Mark was even inserting himself into his and Johnny’s personal business. Mark had always had a fiery personality and had often gotten himself into trouble at school because of his lack of knowledge on knowing when to keep his mouth shut and Taeyong was easily one of the most irritable people Johnny had ever met. He knew that this was bound to happen at one point or another.

At one point, Johnny stood up and tried to intervene. Mark’s entire face had gone red and Taeyong looked only a second or two from pouncing right at Mark, uncaring of whether Mark was undoubtedly stronger than him or not. He went to speak but Taeyong was faster, finally exploding on Mark.

“Do you think that I fucking give a shit about Johnny?” Taeyong had screamed. “Nobody is asking him to stay with me! I don’t want him around me! He’s fucking annoying! The only reason why I haven’t gotten rid of him is because I can’t fucking drive and I needed him to take me where I needed to fucking go!”

And in that moment, Johnny couldn’t think of one reason why he should do anything to stop the two of them from arguing. He wasn’t going to lie—what Taeyong had said had hurt him beyond belief, more than he even wanted to accept that it did. He was sure that his words wouldn’t have affected him if the past couple of days hadn’t happened but they had and Johnny had foolishly convinced himself that he was getting somewhere with Taeyong. 

Thinking back on it now, Johnny could admit that was stupid. After all, he and Taeyong barely knew each other. The only reason why they had even met each other was because of the fact that he had gone and forced Taeyong with him against his will because of his own personal issues with his fucking brother who almost always seemed to win. If it wasn’t for that him and Taeyong probably would have never crossed paths and the funniest thing about it was that Johnny wouldn’t even have cared. He would have finished his fucked–up community service at Matthew’s company and went on with his life until he met someone else who wasn’t a complete bitch and a thief with a high–pitched voice and a disgusting habit of spitting when he didn’t like what someone was doing to him. 

Yet, all of this that Johnny was internally hyping himself up for and he still wasn’t expecting for Taeyong to look over at him again with a snarl on his face and bite out for him to, “Stop fucking pouting. Don’t act like you give a shit about me.”

That was the final straw. Johnny hadn’t been acting like he gave a shit about Taeyong throughout their entire trip. He fucking did. If he didn’t, he wouldn’t have scooped him up from that stupid little house in nowhere Busan, he wouldn’t have done so much to protect him from his stupid fucking brother and he definitely wouldn’t have dealt with Taeyong’s constant attitude for as long as he had. And while Johnny knew that Taeyong had only said that because he was still under the impression that he had picked him up for his own selfish reasons, he couldn’t take hearing that. He was too fucking exhausted, both mentally and physically. 

Which is why Johnny got up from his chair and walked out of the room. He honestly didn’t give a single shit about what Mark and Taeyong were going to get into with him not there. He needed a break from the both of them. The room was quiet and while it still smelled like Taeyong, Johnny used it to escape from the younger entirely.

He isn’t really sure how long it had been since he had left. He heard the door creak open but didn’t look away from the ceiling he had been staring up at since he had thrown himself down on the bed that absolutely reeked of his and Taeyong’s mixed scents. It wasn’t until whoever had come in cleared their throat that Johnny finally looked over to see Mark standing there. 

There was a small pause that traveled between the both of them. Johnny was the first to speak. “I fucked up.”

Mark hesitated for a moment. “I told him,” he said quietly. Johnny sat up upon hearing that and immediately frowned. 

“You told him what?” Johnny questioned, watching as Mark bit the inside of his mouth almost nervously.

“He was gonna find out eventually,” Mark defended.

It felt like everything had gone from bad to worse. He hadn’t told Taeyong about the whole thing with Matthew for a reason. And it wasn’t like Johnny was planning on never telling him—he was, eventually, when the timing was right—but the timing definitely wasn’t right now. Johnny hadn’t wanted for Taeyong to hear it from anyone other than him when he wanted him to hear it. That was why he hadn’t budged after letting it slip back at Yuta’s place despite the fact that Taeyong very clearly didn’t believe him. He knew that Mark probably meant well for him when he had told Taeyong but Johnny still couldn’t help but feel irritated with the fact that Mark had let it slip. 

“I wasn’t telling him for a reason, Mark,” Johnny hissed, surprising Mark with his tone of voice. 

“For what reason?” Mark asked, shaking his head. He genuinely wasn’t understanding. “What, to protect him? Johnny, he’s an asshole!”

“That still doesn’t mean that you get to decide what I want to tell him and when!” Johnny snapped loudly. Mark blinked at him slowly after that, clearly lost on how to respond. Johnny wasn’t the type of person that got angry with people often. As a matter of fact, Johnny had only gotten upset with Mark once and that was because he had said something to Yerim that had hurt her feelings and refused to apologize because he claimed it wasn’t his fault that she was so sensitive. Seeing him actually angry let Mark know that he had crossed a line and he quickly settled down, giving in with a small sigh. 

“I’m sorry, man. I didn’t know,” Mark apologized. Johnny only hummed in respond. An apology wasn’t going to change anything. Taeyong still knew. At this point, though, Johnny didn’t really know how much he cared about Taeyong knowing. It wasn’t like Taeyong would give a shit anyway. “He’s not good for you,” Mark continued softly. 

“I know that,” Johnny said sharply because he did. Unfortunately, him knowing that wouldn’t change anything. It definitely didn’t make him feel any better. In fact, it only helped to make him feel worse, seeing that it only reminded him of how big of a fucking fool he was. 

“You can leave him, you know,” Mark offered and Johnny immediately scoffed in response to that. He didn’t mean to openly laugh at Mark but what he had said was so ridiculous. Leave Taeyong? How? Taeyong had a plan and he didn’t. If anything, it would be the other way around and with quiet it sounded downstairs, it probably already was. 

“How do you think I’m gonna do that?” Johnny questioned. 

“I know a guy,” Mark answered very simply. “Well, I don’t know the guy but I know a guy who knows a guy who has a plane.”

 Johnny perked up a little at that. “A plane?” he repeated and Mark nodded. 

“He can take you back over to the States,” Mark continued quietly. The idea sounded almost perfect. Using a personal plane would basically ensure that Johnny wouldn’t be caught by the police and once back in America there was no doubt that he would be safe from authorities. He couldn’t go back to his family due to the fact that the Korean police would almost immediately look for him there after a certain amount of time without seeing him but that wasn’t something that bothered him. After all, it wasn’t like his family had ever really cared about him in the first place and even if they did, they definitely would stop upon hearing what he had become.

It sounded good until Johnny came to the realization that no one in their right mind would fly him all the way from Korea to the United States without wanting something in return. Unfortunately for him, he had nothing to give to them. He had some money saved up but not nearly enough for what he was sure it would cost to get him there.  

“He’s gonna want money, isn’t he?” Johnny asked and Mark hesitated a moment before nodding slowly. “How much?”

“Almost 300,000,000 won,” Mark answered and Johnny immediately scoffed. What was Mark’s point of having brought something like that up? Did he really think that he had that much money just lying around? His brother may have been a multi–millionaire but he most definitely wasn’t. Mark quickly noticed his distrust and continued. “I know you don’t have that much money but there’s definitely a way that you could get it.”

“How’s that?” Johnny questioned with a small snort. 

“Well,” Mark started quietly, glancing behind himself at the door before clearing his throat again. “The bounty on Taeyong is about 300,000,000 won. I’m sure he’d be alright with getting you to the States if you hand him over.”

The idea was so absurd. Turn Taeyong over to the police? It was true that Taeyong had been pretty mean and obviously didn’t care about Johnny’s wellbeing but to give him over so easily all while knowing what was in store with him? Taeyong wouldn’t only be going to prison but Johnny didn’t doubt that once hearing that Taeyong had been caught Matthew would send someone in to take care of the job he had set out to do in the first place. After all, he had found Taeyong once. It probably wouldn’t be hard for him to do it a second time. Giving Taeyong over to the police would basically be sending him off to die.

Johnny shook his head. “It’s not like I can just waltz into a police station with Taeyong and ask for my check,” he pointed out warily. “They’ll arrest me too.”

“I didn’t say do that,” Mark responded calmly. “All you’d have to do is give Taeyong over to my guy’s guy’s people and you’d be home free. That’s it.”

All Johnny had to do was take Taeyong to the man that was ultimately going to get him out of trouble. They would give Taeyong to the police and Johnny would board the plane to the United States to start his new life away from all the mess he had gotten himself into in Korea. That would be it. No more Taeyong. No more Matthew. No more issues. 

Johnny had to think about it. On one hand, he was almost certain Taeyong would do the exact same to him if given the opportunity. On another hand, that wasn’t the type of person Johnny was. No matter how much of an asshole Taeyong was, Johnny would still feel bad about putting Taeyong into a situation like that to his own advantage. Then again, it wasn’t like he had done anything wrong. He had been trying to save Taeyong. He didn’t deserve to rot in prison because of it. Taeyong, on the other hand, had done a lot. He would probably end up in prison anyway. 

If Taeyong didn’t care about Johnny that was fine. But that meant that Johnny didn’t care about Taeyong anymore either. That meant he was no longer going to go out of his way to protect someone that didn’t even want to be protected. 

“Is that all they’re gonna do?” Johnny asked quietly. “Like turn him into the police? They’re not gonna do anything shady with him, right?”

“No,” Mark reassured him. “They don’t care about him. They just want the money.”

For a moment, Johnny wondered if what Taeyong had said about the fact that them being apart would harm him. Would he really not be able to mate with anyone else or ever experience another relationship because of his past with Taeyong? The thought was scary.

“If I’m mated with someone else,” Johnny started, “is it true that I could die if I try to be with someone else?”

Mark almost immediately made a face at that. “No,” he frowned, shaking his head. “Who told you that?”

Right. Of course that wasn’t true. Of course Taeyong had been lying to him. And why wouldn’t he? Taeyong’s objective in all of this was to get himself out of trouble. Johnny didn’t even blame him for it. If he was in the same situation, he almost definitely would have done the same exact thing. 

That being said, hearing Mark say that basically solidified Johnny’s decision. He needed to stop putting everyone else in front of him and start looking out for himself and that started with getting the fuck out of Korea as quickly and cleanly as possible.

“Where does he live?” Johnny asked and Mark quickly got up, walking over to his desk to grab a small sticky note and a pen. He bent over and scribbled something down in the orange sheet of paper before walking back over and handing it to Johnny. Johnny looked down at Mark’s messy handwriting as Mark opened his mouth to speak.

“He’s not too far into Pohang,” Mark explained. “I can let him know that you’re on your way but you have to promise me that you’re actually gonna do it, Johnny. I’m gonna be in a lot of trouble if you decide to back out at the last minute.”

Johnny didn’t see any reason why he would want to back out. This needed to happen and he recognized that. He wasn’t going to change his mind on it. He needed to start thinking about himself. That was the most important thing. 

“I’m not,” Johnny promised. “Thank you for doing this, Mark.” He bit his lip and hesitated for a moment before continuing. “And I’m really sorry about all of this.”

“I care about you, man,” Mark said to him. “I just want the best for you.”

Johnny only nodded in response to that. He went to say something else but was interrupted by the sound of a tentative knock on the door. Both him and Mark turned to look at the door but neither of them say anything. After a few moments of excruciating silence, the door opened slowly. 

“We need to go,” Taeyong said. He looked especially small standing there at the door with Johnny’s hoodie pulled up over his head, practically drowning in all of the fabric. Johnny had to stop himself from snorting at his words. Now it was ‘we’? What happened to all that selfishness he didn’t seem to have any issue with a couple of minutes ago?

“Why?” Mark asked before Johnny could. 

“Because the police know we’re still in Jeonju,” Taeyong responded, his voice a little sharp. Johnny could tell that it was because Mark had asked and not him. 

“How do you know that?” Mark continued.

“You think I’d fucking lie about the fact that the police know something that I obviously don’t want them to know?” Taeyong seethed. Mark went to say something in respond but Johnny beat him to the point. He didn’t want to hear them fuss with each other anymore.

“How do you know that, Taeyong?” Johnny repeated, causing Taeyong’s big eyes to flit over to where he was sitting next to Mark on the bed. He hesitated a moment before speaking. 

“Because I saw something about it on the news,” Taeyong muttered, looking down at the floor. “The police said something about how they think we’re still in the area.”  He stopped to bite the inside of his mouth. “I think we should go. Like, now.”

Even with the knowledge of what Johnny had done, Taeyong still wasn’t apologizing for what he had said back in the kitchen. He was acknowledging it at all and Johnny would be lying if he said that it didn’t bother him. He looked over at Mark who was visibly still pissed at the way Taeyong had talked to him before pushing himself up from the bed. Mark blinked up at him.

“Then let’s go,” Johnny said, bending down to gather up a few articles of his and Taeyong’s clothing in his arms. Taeyong was still standing there. “I’ll meet you downstairs.”

Taeyong didn’t move. He opened his mouth before closing it for a moment. “Can we—?”

“I said I’ll meet you downstairs,” Johnny snapped before Taeyong could finish. Taeyong looked visibly surprised by his outburst and slowly closed his mouth again, his face souring almost immediately.

“Fucking fine,” Taeyong hissed before whirling around and walking out of the room, making sure to slam the door behind him.

“What a fucking brat,” Mark muttered as Johnny continued to gather all of his things from where they were scattered messily across the floor. He found Taeyong’s gun pushed underneath a pillow and stared at it for a moment. Where had Taeyong even gotten it from? He looked down at it for a little while longer before shoving it into his bag. “Make sure you keep in contact with me, John,” Mark continued.

“I will,” Johnny mumbled, swinging his bag over his shoulder. “Thanks for this, Mark. I really don’t know what I’d do without you.”

“Be on the Korea’s Most Wanted list mated an Omega that your brother is trying to kill and is also wanted by the police,” Mark offered with a small laugh. “Just a guess.”

Johnny laughed a little at that. He really would miss Mark. The two of them hug for a long moment and then Johnny is off. Taeyong is standing in the kitchen downstairs, lower lip caught in between his teeth as he stared out the window above the sink. Johnny stared at him for a little before speaking.

“Come on,” Johnny said and Taeyong flinched a little before turning around. He looked at Johnny for what felt like forever. For a moment, Johnny thought that he might acknowledge all that had happened.

“I–I need my gun,” Taeyong said, stumbling a little over his words. He stood up straighter upon hearing his mistake and cleared his throat. “I need my gun,” he repeated, much more steady this time around.

Johnny hesitated before reaching in his bag and fishing it out, handing it over to Taeyong with a stoic face. Taeyong took it without saying a word.

“Let’s go,” Johnny repeated and started towards the door. He heard Taeyong start to follow after him.

“Where are we going?” Taeyong asked.

“Incheon,” Johnny lied without thinking twice. He could hear the slight catch in Taeyong’s breath that let him know that he hadn’t been expecting his answer. That being said, he still didn’t say anything in protest.

Johnny hadn’t been expecting him to.