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take the money and run

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Taeyong woke up to the sound of a car door slamming. He squinted against the darkness of the room, realizing that him and Johnny had slept well into the night. When he looked over at Johnny, he was still asleep, his legs sprawled open with an arm thrown over his face, lips slightly parted. Taeyong looked sat up slowly, remaining still until he heard the gravel outside crunching distantly.

“Shit,” Taeyong cursed quietly, pushing himself off of the bed and stalking towards the window. He lifted up the curtain ever so slightly, looking out through the dirty glass.

There were two men standing downstairs. They were wearing dark clothing. One was significantly taller than the other who had a cigarette in his mouth. They definitely weren’t policemen which made Taeyong’s heart speed up. Maybe he had been wrong about Yukhei but these two? They looked like trouble. He watched as one of them rounded the side of Yukhei’s truck, peeking inside. He spoke but his voice was too far away for Taeyong to be able to decipher any of it. It didn’t matter anyway. Taeyong had seen enough to know that he and Johnny needed to get out of there as quickly as possible.

“Johnny,” Taeyong whispered frantically, pushing at Johnny’s shoulder. Johnny only groaned quietly and rolled over onto his side. Taeyong climbed onto him, straddling him as he shook him once again. “Johnny, get the fuck up.”

The weight of Taeyong on top of him along with his low voice is enough to cause Johnny’s eyes to crack open slowly. He squinted through the darkness up at Taeyong, frowning. “What?” Johnny said, his hands naturally coming up to encircle around Taeyong’s small waist. Taeyong scoffed and immediately pushed them away, a little disgusted that it seemed that Johnny’s first thought was to fuck him.

“They’re fucking outside,” Taeyong hissed through his teeth, moving off of Johnny’s lap to begin gathering up all of their things. Johnny sat up at that, his eyebrows furrowed in confusion and worry.

“Who’s outside?” he asked as Taeyong moved frantically about the room, cursing quietly under his breath as he tried and failed to find his gun. He had done something with it before falling asleep but couldn’t remember where due to all that fucking wine he has drank.

“I don’t know,” Taeyong snapped because he couldn’t understand why Johnny hadn’t gotten up yet, why he was still sitting there on the bed. “Can you fucking get up?”

Johnny opened his mouth to respond but was interrupted by the sound of a door a few feet down from them clicking open. Both his and Taeyong’s heads snapped in the direction it had come from. Taeyong cursed loudly and dropped down to the floor, searching underneath the bed for his pistol. It had to be somewhere in the room. He wasn’t going to leave without it.

Johnny then got up and started picking up his things from around the room. The men were starting to come uncomfortably close and Taeyong didn’t want to be around when they finally figured out what room they were in. He went to stand up and felt something hard underneath his foot before he could step the whole way down, quickly snatching the gun up from where it sat pushed on the other side of the nightstand. Johnny was looking at him when he got back up, his eyes wide and full of panic.

“What are we gonna do?” Johnny mouthed at him.

Taeyong looked around the room, his heart feeling like it might beat straight of his chest. The men were only two or three doors down and they were quickly running out of time. There was no way that both him and Johnny could fight them off, especially if they had any weapons on them. Taeyong wasn’t a good shot and Johnny didn’t know what he was doing half the time. His eyes landed on the window behind Johnny, foggy and covered in filth.

He grabbed the ancient phone sitting on the nightstand and didn’t hesitate before approaching the window, sucking in a deep breath before chucking the phone as hard as he could, effectively breaking the glass. The sound of the glass shattering caused the both of them to flinch, echoing throughout the otherwise silent room. Johnny looked at Taeyong, very obviously surprised by what he had done. 

Before he could ask anything, there was shouting from outside. “They’re on the other side!” Taeyong could distantly hear, followed by frantic footsteps.

“Go!” Taeyong whisper–yelled, pushing past Johnny to make his way out of the room, grabbing the bottle from last night on his way. Johnny went after him, not bothering to close the door behind him.

Johnny immediately unlocked Yukhei’s truck once they had gotten downstairs, climbing in. Taeyong went to do the same but hesitated, tossing Johnny his gun while blinking at the car parked not too far away from them. 

“What the fuck are you doing?” Johnny hissed, leaning over the middle console to push his door open. “Come on!”

Taeyong ignored him, bending down to smash the bottle over the sidewalk in front of him. He knew that the sound would ultimately let the men know exactly where the two of them were but didn’t care, picking up a small shard of glass from the bottle and running towards the small black car. He heard the men start in his direction and fell to the ground, the gravel cutting into his knees as he pressed the shard of glass into the front wheel of the car, his hands shaking violently. Taeyong could hear Johnny start up the truck as the glass finally cut through the rubber.

The moment he stood up, Taeyong heard something sharp cut through the air, followed by a dull throb in his side. He looked up to see one of the men pointing a gun at him, finger curled around the trigger, ready to pull it again. He cursed and fell back to the ground, crawling over the gravel back to Johnny. Another gunshot pierced the air and Taeyong let out a loud gasp as something bounced over the ground not too far away from where his hands were braced. He was gonna fucking die. This was it.

Another gunshot went off and Taeyong heard a distant shout, looking up to see the man who had shot at him on the ground. His head snapped in the opposite direction, finding Johnny with his body halfway out his window, Yuta’s gun still smoking in his hands. Taeyong didn’t have too long to get too happy about Johnny’s excellent shot, as the other man from earlier had come bounding around the corner, bending down to help his partner.

Taeyong quickly scrambled up from the ground while the man was distracted, running for the truck. Johnny still had the door open and was ready to help him up, pulling him in. A gunshot rang through the silent air, slamming against the car door, only an inch off from actually hitting Taeyong.

“Fucking drive!” Taeyong shouted and Johnny nodded, snatching the gear into reverse and pulling out of the spot he had parked in. He slammed the door shut right as the men went for their own car, one limping and clutching his shoulder from where Johnny had shot him. “Go!”

“I’m going!” Johnny yelled in response, slamming his foot down on the gas and peeling out of the parking lot.

The men weren’t going to be able to follow them because of what Taeyong had done to their tire but Johnny still drove off like a fucking madman, swerving and only barely avoiding careening the entire car into a nearby tree. It wasn’t until they had made it back onto the highway that he slowed down a little but not by much, not wanting to give the men any room to be able to catch up despite the fact that they no longer had a vehicle.

“What the fuck was that?” Taeyong breathed, turned around in his seat to look out the back window. He had just been shot out. Someone had tried to kill him. There was no longer a possibility of Matthew and his men being after them. They most definitely were. This was serious. Fuck. “Jesus Christ, Johnny, who the fuck were they?”

Johnny didn’t say anything in response, breathing heavily as he looked over at Taeyong who was still propped up on his knees to look out the window. His silence is what caused Taeyong to finally look over at him, lips parted, heart racing.

“You’re bleeding,” Johnny pointed out and Taeyong glanced down at himself, immediately noticing the dark spot slowly growing bigger and bigger on the side of his shirt. He reached down a hand and dragged his fingers through the fluid that was still obvious even in the dark, spreading them as he brought both of them to his face.

It was blood, seedy and thick and disgusting. Taeyong lifted up his shirt to find a deep hole on his side, right near his ribs. He pressed his fingers against it and flinched away in his pain, his hand shaking violently. He had gotten shot. That was that throbbing sensation had been.

“I’m pulling over,” Johnny announced, already starting to slow down the car. 

But no. Johnny couldn’t stop. They were way too close to the scene, to those men. Stopping now would be suicide. They would get caught in minutes and Taeyong didn’t even want to begin to think about what would happen if the two of them were caught, by either the police or those fucking psychopaths back at the motel. Pulling over wasn’t an option for them, no matter what they had just found out.

“Don’t stop,” Taeyong said, sitting back in his seat, forcing himself to breath in and out as steadily as possible. The bullet hadn’t hit anything critical. It seemed that it had only gone in and straight out which was good. The most it had done was tear through Taeyong’s skin. He wouldn’t die because of this.

“Taeyong, you’re fucking shot,” Johnny said, dumbstruck by what Taeyong was telling him. “I’m pulling over.”

“Are you fucking stupid?” Taeyong shouted, surprising Johnny would how loud his voice had gotten. “I said don’t stop so don’t stop, Johnny! I’m fucking fine!”

Johnny stared at him for a long moment but didn’t stop, nodding his head to show that he understood. Taeyong continued to keep his breathing as normal as possible as Johnny sped the car back up, the dark trees surrounding them only a blur as they whizzed past. 

Taeyong slipped off his shirt and crumpled it up into a ball, pressing against his side. It hurt so bad that he couldn’t fucking think straight. Still, he forced the cloth close onto the wound to try and slow the bleeding, more than educated on what to do after what had happened with Yukhei. Johnny kept looking over at him, obviously worried and wanting to do something to help. When he had offered, Taeyong had only hissed at him to leave him alone.

He didn’t even know how long they had been driving. It felt like forever. Finally, Taeyong couldn’t take it anymore. The first tear fell and he shook his head, his hands shaking too badly for him to hold the shirt up to his side anymore.

“I can’t, I can’t,” Taeyong gasped, still shaking his head. 

“You want me to pull over?” Johnny asked.

“Please,” Taeyong begged wetly because he was in so much fucking pain that he couldn’t stand it.

Johnny quickly pulled the car over on the side of the road, making sure that it was at least a bit concealed by the trees before unbuckling his seatbelt and leaning over the console to tend to Taeyong who was now sobbing. He sat down on the console and picked up the shirt from where it sat on the seat next to Taeyong, softly shushing the other.

“Yong,” Johnny muttered, holding the shirt in his hand, uncertain on his next move. “Babe, I’ve gotta stop the bleeding, Yong.”

“‘s gonna hurt,” Taeyong breathed, still shaking his head. “Hurts too much, Johnny, I can’t.”

“You have to,” Johnny told him and Taeyong knew that was true, knew that he would only be hurting himself if he didn’t and that the longer this took, the more that danger would stalk to them.

“Okay,” Taeyong sniffled, wiping a hand under his nose. “Okay.”

“Okay,” Johnny nodded, searching around the truck until he found an old bottle of rubbing alcohol in the backseat. He muttered something under his breath before picking it up, cracking it open. “Don’t look, alright?” Taeyong hummed in response, bracing himself for the pain that was to come.

The burning of the alcohol passing over his wound, washing the blood off of his skin and pooping underneath him on his seat was indescribable. Taeyong screamed and immediately flinched away but Johnny was faster, grabbing him by his bare shoulder and forcing him to stay still as he emptied the bottle over Taeyong’s wound, continuously shushing him over his cries of agony. It hurt so fucking bad that Taeyong thought he might pass out.

He barely felt it when Johnny pressed the shirt against his wound again, his skin still crawling from the relentless burning of the alcohol. Johnny pressed it in hard, making sure that nothing else could leak it around it. He held his free hand up to the back of Taeyong’s neck, coercing him to rest his head on his shoulder in which Taeyong did almost immediately, still sobbing from the pain. Through all his hurt, Taeyong couldn’t help but wonder why the fuck it always had to be him being injured. First his dislocated shoulder and now this. Why was he so fucking unlucky? 

“Hey, you’re alright,” Johnny reassured him softly. “You did so well, Tae. You’re so good.”

And Taeyong had to admit that Johnny’s words were helping him to feel a bit better. He nodded against Johnny’s shoulder, closing his eyes and starting to focus on his breathing once again. Jesus Christ, this sucked. He hated this.

Taeyong isn’t sure how long the two of them had sat there for. The pain had started to subside a little but Johnny was still whispering softly to him, running a hand through his hair. Taeyong kind of hated how good Johnny was making him feel, how comforting his low voice was and how welcoming his hand rubbing through his sweat–dampened hair was. He knew that he shouldn’t have been allowing Johnny to do that but was too weak to push him away.

“Gotta find something to tape it up with,” Johnny muttered after awhile, gently pushing Taeyong’s head off of him. Taeyong sniffled quietly and watched him rummage around the messy car, not daring to look down at the mess of his wound.

Finally, Johnny sat up with a small thing of duct tape and an old rag. He doused a tiny bit of alcohol that was still collected in the dirty cap over the cloth and pulled the shirt away from Taeyong’s side, tossing it somewhere in the backseat.

“When’s your birthday?” Johnny randomly asked before tearing off a strip of the tape with his teeth. Taeyong let out a small laugh and shook his head, unsurprised with the fact that Johnny was trying to distract him with small talk while getting ready to hurt him again.

“July 1st, 2005,” Taeyong breathed out. Johnny made a small noise in the back of his throat.

“You really are young, aren’t you?” Johnny mumbled. If Taeyong had the energy, he would have told him to shut the fuck up.

Instead, he decided to ask, “When’s yours?”

 “February 9th, 1999,” Johnny answered. “Stay still for me, alright?”

Taeyong nodded, sucking in a sharp breath when Johnny pressed the cloth against his wound, the alcohol seeping in painfully. He closed his eyes as Johnny kept the cloth there and sealed it with the strip of duct tape. It definitely wasn’t the most practical or even safe way of doing it but Taeyong knew that they had no other choice.

“You know, you’ve got really big ears,” Johnny pointed out, attempting to distract Taeyong again. “Kind of like an elf’s.”

“Fuck off,” Taeyong mumbled, his eyes still closed. He knew he had big ears. It was why he had never dared to cut his hair short. His mother had always kept it close–cropped while he was growing up and he hated it with a fucking passion. All the kids at school would tease him for it and accuse him of being one of Santa’s lost elves.

“It’s cute,” Johnny continued, sitting back down on the console. He stared at Taeyong for a moment. “You okay?”

“No,” Taeyong said honestly. “But I’ll live.” He thought back to the men at the hotel and decide to reword what he had said. “I might live.”

He shifted a bit in his seat and winced again, unable to stop a small whine from slipping out. Johnny immediately noticed and was quick to speak up.

“Let’s talk to each other in English, yeah?” Johnny proposed and Taeyong glanced over at him, frowning.

“I’m not good at English,” Taeyong said, thinking back to him butting in to Ten and Johnny’s conversation back in Ulsan. “We should get going.”

“Have a full conversation with me in English first and we will,” Johnny said and Taeyong’s stare turned into a mean glare. He knew what Johnny was doing. Concentrating on a conversation would ultimately distract Taeyong from his pain until it died down a little. Still, he didn’t have the energy to argue with him about it. Taeyong figured that the faster he cooperated, the faster Johnny would be willing to go.

“Hi,” Taeyong started, thinking back to what he had learned in school. “I’m Taeyong Lee. I’m nineteen. I’m, um, Korean. Hello.”

“Hi, Taeyong,” Johnny responded easily. “I’m Johnny. How are you?”

“Good,” Taeyong said because this was something he knew, something he was comfortable with. “How are you?”

“I’ve been better,” Johnny answered, smiling a little. “It’s gonna get harder, alright?” Taeyong winced again before nodding. “So, Taeyong. What’s your favorite food?”

“Japchae,” Taeyong said slowly. He shivered a bit, glancing out the window. “I’m cold.”

“English,” Johnny reminded softly and Taeyong had to swallow down the urge to roll his eyes.

“Cold,” Taeyong repeated. “Me. I’m cold.”

Johnny nodded before pulling back, peeling his sweatshirt off and over his head. Taeyong went to take it from him but Johnny moved away before he could, gesturing for him to hold his arms out in front of him. Taeyong cried out quietly as he did and Johnny was fast in shushing him, slipping the sweatshirt on as quickly as possible.

“Better?” Johnny asked once they were finished and Taeyong nodded. “How come you don’t know how to drive?”

His hesitancy let Taeyong know that Johnny wanted an answer in English. “This is stupid,” he muttered and Johnny immediately tutted at him, causing him to actually roll his eyes this time around. “Stupid,” Taeyong said louder in English and Johnny chuckled, shaking his head. He had to think about it for a long while before being able to respond. “Driving is hard. I live in city and take bus a lot. Don’t need driving.”

“Well, you kind of need driving now, don’t you?” Johnny pointed out. Taeyong only snorted in response, closing his eyes again. “You know, you’re really strong, Taeyong.”

Taeyong blinked over at Johnny, frowning a little. He hadn’t been expecting for Johnny to say something like that. He was pretty sure that no one had ever said that to him before. Seongwoo liked to imply it but had never downright said it. His mother definitely hadn’t.

“Why are you being weird?” Taeyong mumbled, laughing a little.

“I’m not,” Johnny defended. “I mean, think about it. You’ve been on the run for like, what, a month now? You’ve gone through the stress of that and being mated. Plus, you’ve gotten shot and your shoulder dislocated. You’re pretty fucking sick, Yong.”

Taeyong had never thought about it like that. Everything just was for him. He endured shit because he had to, not because he wanted to. It wasn’t like he could choose not to go through the shit he had and shying away from it would only hurt himself in the end. It had been the norm for him his entire life and would probably stay that way for the rest of the time he had left on this planet.

“I think you should start driving again,” Taeyong said, reverting back to Korean. Johnny stared at him for a moment longer before finally nodding, pushing himself up from the console.

“Tell me if it starts hurting again, okay?” Johnny asked and Taeyong nodded slowly even though it still did hurt.

It was quiet while they drove. Taeyong was pretty sure that Johnny wasn’t talking solely because he didn’t want to get in the way of his rest. He appreciated it. Ever since he had stumbled upon him and Yukhei, Johnny had been being surprisingly helpful. If it weren’t for him, Taeyong would definitely be in a much worse situation that he was now.

He ended up falling asleep again. Taeyong isn’t sure how considering how much he had slept at the motel but maybe it was because of his deep–settled exhaustion. He isn’t quite sure if he trusted Johnny to keep them safe from those psychopaths not too far behind them but his body forced the thought to the back of his mind, letting him slip into a state of unconsciousness.



When Taeyong woke back up, the car wasn’t moving. His brain immediately told him that he was in danger and his head snapped to look over to where he had last seen Johnny, only to find him gone. He sat up quickly but was forced back down by a sharp pain in his side, hissing loudly through his teeth.

“Shit, Yong?” Johnny’s voice sounded distant. Soon, Taeyong heard his door crack open. He looked up to see Johnny standing there before looking past him. They were stopped at a pharmacy. “Are you okay?”

“Why would you stop?” Taeyong groaned, twisting around in his seat with another pained noise. The stabbing in his side definitely had only grown more apparent.

“Because of that,” Johnny muttered, reaching behind him to hand Taeyong a baseball cap and a black mask. Taeyong hadn’t even known that Johnny still had them. “If we don’t get something for it then it’ll get infected and you could die. We need to get something more than a fucking washcloth and old duct tape.”

Taeyong wanted to argue but couldn’t. He nodded and slipped the cap over his head, letting Johnny help him with putting the mask on over his mouth. He noticed after a moment that Johnny had on his beanie from earlier and had a mask of his own tucked underneath his chin. 

“Arms around my neck, yeah?” Johnny said and Taeyong did so, allowing Johnny to help him out of the car, placing him down in the dirt as gently as possible. Another almost unbearable pain struck up Taeyong’s side and he had to grit his teeth together to stop a soft whine from leaving him.

“W–Where are we?” Taeyong asked quietly.

“Jinju,” Johnny answered, snaking an arm around Taeyong’s shoulder. “We’ll be in and out.”

With their luck so far, Taeyong severely doubted that but one glance at his startlingly pale reflection in the window of Yukhei’s truck and Taeyong knew that he needed something or else he would ultimately be in the exact same situation as Yukhei. Johnny slowly and carefully led him into the store and Taeyong did his best not to flinch at the small chime that signaled their entrance to whoever was working.

“Hello,” a bored voice said from not too far away. Taeyong looked up to see a boy who looked a little younger than him sitting behind the counter. Good. Someone like him was a lot less likely to go out of his way to report the two of them to the police.

“Hi,” Johnny responded happily before turning both him and Taeyong off into an aisle far away from him.

Taeyong watched as Johnny sorted through boxes of gauze and bandages, searching for the right one. He would look around every so often, noticing a small camera above their heads to the right. He turned his back towards it, ducking his head down. This whole thing made him nervous. The two of them shouldn’t have been anywhere in public. It was almost like they were asking to be caught.

“Can you hurry up?” Taeyong asked quietly, glancing back up at the register. The boy behind it definitely wasn’t paying either of them any mind and was more focused on the textbook in front of him but Taeyong was starting to feel extremely anxious. They needed to get out of here as quickly as possible.

Johnny didn’t say anything for awhile. Then, right as Taeyong was going to ask him to get a move on once again, he stood up with a bottle of alcohol, a couple of packages of gauze and bandages and some pain medication. Taeyong flinched at the sight of the alcohol, not particularly ready to go through the searing pain of it flowing over his wound once again. He swallowed hard and blinked up at Johnny. 

“Come on,” Taeyong mumbled, making his way towards the register. Johnny went and tried to help him but Taeyong quickly shook him off. He didn’t need help. He could make it there by himself. 

“Aish, is it already starting to get cold outside already?” the boy behind the register asked as Johnny sat down everything in front of him on the counter. The confusion must be apparent on both his and Johnny’s faces because the boy was tapping the top of his head and saying, “Your caps.”

“Oh,” Johnny said, letting out a nervous laugh as he nodded. The boy chuckled too, having begun to scan all of the items Johnny had placed down. “Probably not. We just get cold really easily.”

“Fair enough,” the boy responded. “It’s 12,700 won.”

Johnny nodded and pulled out his wallet while the boy started to put everything in a bag. He handed the bill over to him and the boy accepted it with a small smile and a respectful bow. “I don’t need the change,” Johnny said and the employee hesitated a short moment before nodding. “You mind if I borrow the key to the bathroom?”

“Yeah, of course,” the boy said, reaching underneath the register to pull out a rusted loop of metal in which he immediately handed over to Johnny. 

“Thanks,” Johnny muttered before turning to Taeyong. “Come on.”

Taeyong had to resist the urge to look back at the boy behind the register at least six different times on their way to the bathroom. What if he had realized who they were? During his entire interaction with Johnny, it hadn’t seemed like he had any sort of life–changing realization but what if he had been hiding it? What if he was planning on phoning up the police the second that he heard the door to the bathroom click shut?

“Calm down,” Johnny said to him, having picked up on how anxious Taeyong was. “It’s fine.”

“Just hurry up,” Taeyong mumbled in response as Johnny pushed the door to the bathroom open. 

The bathroom was small. It wasn’t as dirty as the convenience store back in Gimhae which Taeyong was grateful for. Johnny made sure to lock the door behind him which ultimately led Taeyong to think that a locked door wouldn’t stop both the police and Matthew and his men from bursting in at any given moment but he kept that thought to himself, swallowing it down. 

Johnny helped him up onto the sink and Taeyong couldn’t stop himself from being reminded of how Johnny had forced him up onto the sink back in Gimhae when he had went and ruined his hair probably for life. He chuckled a little at the thought of it. Johnny glanced up at him and raised an eyebrow but didn’t ask, motioning for Taeyong to lift his arms above his head so he could slip his sweatshirt off. 

“Fuck,” Taeyong hissed under his breath at the pain that struck him with the simple motion. Johnny didn’t even try to hide the worry on his face. Taeyong wondered why he seemed so concerned about him. 

Peeling the washcloth off from his side hurt more than Taeyong had been expecting it to. The rough fabric had stuck to his wound and required a bit of force to get it away from his skin. Johnny talked him through it the entire time, never failing to remind him how well he was doing and how it would all be over soon. It was almost strange how good he was at doing it. Taeyong wondered if shit like this happened to him often. He wouldn’t be surprised if it actually did. 

The alcohol hurt just as bad as it had last time and Taeyong literally could have cried. He actually did, muffling the noises into Johnny’s chest. This fucking sucked. Why the fuck did they have to shoot him? Jesus, Taeyong knew that he had fuckeed over a lot of people but to the point where they wanted to kill him? He wasn’t trying to undermine what he had done but it was just money. It was almost disgusting what people would do for it. Then again, money had been his main objective for a long while. He didn’t really have the right to criticize people for their unhealthy obsessions when he had one of his own.

“I hate him too,” Johnny chuckled quietly. “You’re almost finished, okay?”

“I’m gonna kill him,” Taeyong vowed angrily because honestly fuck Johnny’s brother. Why couldn’t he have just cut his losses and moved on like everyone else had? What a fucking piece of shit. 

“I think we just narrowly avoided you killing someone, didn’t we?” Johnny pointed out. 

“Shut the fuck up,” Taeyong murmured, wincing when Johnny dabbed at his side away. “I’m really starting to hate you too.”

“Sorry, sorry,” Johnny apologized, finally pulling away which Taeyong couldn’t have been more grateful for. He went to tear open the box of pain medication while Taeyong turned around to observe his wound in the mirror, his stomach dropping at the sight of it. The skin around it had started to bruise in a mixture of gross purples, blues and yellows. “Here,” Johnny’s voice turned him away from the gruesome reflection. Taeyong looked up to see Johnny holding up an opened bottle of water and two pills in the palm of his hand. He immediately accepted it, desperate for some kind of relief.

The pills were dry and chalky sliding down his throat, even while being accompanied with the lukewarm bottle of water. While he was swallowing, Johnny opened a bandage and another thing of gauze. Taeyong braced himself for another round of unbearable pressure right as Johnny went and held the soft gauze over his wound, quickly taping the bandage over it. 

“There,” Johnny said, stepping back. “Feel better?”

It did. The difference was barely there but Taeyong still noticed it. Having actual gauze and bandages felt a lot better than an old, dirty washcloth that would have undoubtedly caused a horrible infection had it stayed on him a moment longer. He nodded and took another long swig of the water before leaning his head back against the mirror behind him. 

“Jesus,” Taeyong murmured softly. “This fucking sucks.”

“It’ll feel better when the pills kick in,” Johnny reassured him carefully. Taeyong hoped that they kicked in real fucking soon. 

It was silent for a little while. Taeyong kept his eyes closed and counted to himself from one to twenty back down from twenty to one until the medicine finally kicked in. He didn’t know what Johnny was doing but figured that it couldn’t have been much considering that he didn’t hear anything other than the cool pacing of Johnny’s footsteps going back and forth in front of him. 

“You alright?” Johnny asked finally. 

“Please stop talking to me,” Taeyong muttered in response because he really didn’t have the energy for this. 

“Okay,” Johnny said. Another couple of minutes passed by. Then, “Can we kiss again?”

Taeyong immediately opened his eyes at that and frowned at Johnny, making a small face. What? Why the fuck was Johnny asking him that? Why was Johnny asking him that like he wasn’t currently sitting on top of a sink in a pharmacy bathroom without a shirt on, skin pale because of the fact that he had recently gotten shot? It was such a weird thing to say.

“What?” Taeyong said because he genuinely didn’t understand what Johnny was asking him. He kind of did understand but didn’t know why Johnny had chosen that moment in particular to ask for a fucking kiss. 

“Can we kiss again?” Johnny repeated. “You kissed me. Back at the motel. You kissed me.”

Taeyong thought back to their embrace at the motel. He admittedly didn’t know why he had done that. It might have been the alcohol in his system. It also might have been because he had simply wanted to. Either way, with the medicine finally settling into his veins, Taeyong could think a little more straight than he had been over the past couple of hours.

“Are you twelve?” Taeyong asked, still frowning. Johnny looked a little taken aback by his response. 

“No, I,” Johnny stopped to clear his throat. “I mean, dude.”

“I only kissed you because I was drunk,” Taeyong muttered, closing his eyes again. “Don’t get the wrong idea.” 

He knew that was mean. He did. But what would be the point of him saying that he had kissed Johnny because he had wanted to when they would either be captured by the police or Matthew and separated that way or make it to Japan and separate there? That would be dumb. Taeyong wasn’t dumb. 

“You had, like, three sips of it,” Johnny pointed out with a small frown. “You couldn’t have been drunk.”

That irritated Taeyong. It irritated him that Johnny was able to see right through him and call his bluff so easily when he didn’t even fully know himself whether or not it was bluff. Why did Johnny care so much? Hadn’t he been the one to say that he would settle down by himself in shitty Shimoda? He was so frustratingly confusing. 

“I was,” Taeyong snapped almost immediately, defensive. 

“You weren’t,” Johnny said, shaking his head. “Come on, Tae. If you want to say that it was a mistake then say it was a mistake but don’t give me some bullshit lie about it.”

“I’m literally shot and you’re worried about me fucking kissing you last night?” Taeyong hissed. “Do you not see a problem with that?”

“I just want to know what’s going on, Taeyong!” Johnny exclaimed, although sure to keep his voice down enough to where the boy working the register wouldn’t overhear and start to worry. “Either we’re together or we’re not but you can’t just keep stringing me along because you feel bad for me or because you feel like it!”

Taeyong genuinely couldn’t believe that Johnny was doing this right now. He almost wondered for a moment if this was some sort of fever dream because there was absolutely no way that Johnny was starting up an argument with him about a fucking kiss right here in a fucking pharmacy bathroom. It was so stupid. Not only that but it was inappropriate. They had just gotten shot at and were very actively on the run from people either trying to kill or arrest them and Johnny was worried about a kiss. How childish was he?

“Please stop,” Taeyong muttered. “I don’t fucking feel like doing this right now, Johnny.”

“We need to talk about it,” Johnny said flatly in response. 

“No, we don’t,” Taeyong snapped. Why couldn’t Johnny drop it? Why was it so hard for him to let go of the smallest shit? It had just been a kiss. That was all it was. 

“You can’t just kiss someone and then be mean to them,” Johnny muttered quietly. “It’s confusing, okay?” 

“Johnny,” Taeyong said. “I am in agonizing pain. I don’t want to talk about it right now.”

“I just think —,” Johnny started and Taeyong genuinely couldn’t fucking take it anymore. Despite the pain still running up through his spine although considerably dulled now, Taeyong pushed himself up from the sink and bent down to snatch his—read: Johnny’s —sweatshirt from off the floor. He slipped it over his head and yanked his mask back up over his mouth before starting to make his way towards the door. “Taeyong,” Johnny called from behind him. Taeyong could hear him picking up all of their things scattered across the bathroom floor as he kept on, a bit of a limp in his walk which he hoped would eventually go away. He ignored him. 

Johnny caught up with him pretty quickly. The boy behind the counter bid them farewell which was disregarded by the both of them. Taeyong had only barely made it outside when Johnny finally pulled at his arm, efficiently stopping him. He whirled around and scoffed up at Johnny before snatching his arm away. 

“Don’t fucking touch me,” Taeyong seethed and Johnny shook his head.

“I just want to talk to you, Taeyong,” Johnny said in an almost pathetic, begging voice. He hesitated for a moment. “Is it because you’re still mad about me mating you?”

“Are you fucking serious?” Taeyong asked because he couldn’t believe that Johnny was managing to make this about himself. 

“I don’t know,” Johnny admitted but Taeyong could tell that he was getting a bit frustrated with the conversation.

“Not everything is about you , Johnny,” Taeyong hissed. 

“Oh, why, because it has to be about you?” Johnny snapped in response. He took a deep breath to calm himself down before shaking his head. “You can’t—Taeyong, you can’t keep doing this to me. It’s not fair.”

Taeyong really didn’t understand it. How was Johnny accusing him of not being fair when he was doing the exact same thing? What wasn’t fair was the fact that Taeyong was having a harder and harder time controlling his emotions because of Johnny. What wasn’t fair was the fact that Johnny was expecting him to immediately adapt to the idea of being with him all while not including him in any of his future plans. He wasn’t being confusing. Johnny was.

He opened his mouth to say this but something caught his attention. He glanced over to his right and noticed that the lot was completely empty. There wasn’t a car in sight. This wasn’t any different from how it had looked when him and Johnny had first climbed out of the car save for the fact that Yukhei’s truck was nowhere in sight.

Yukhei’s truck was nowhere in sight. Yukhei’s fucking truck was nowhere in sight.

“Where’s the truck?” Taeyong asked quietly, his heart beginning to race. This wasn’t good. It very obviously wasn’t good. 

Johnny frowned. “What?” he said.

“Where’s the fucking truck, Johnny?” Taeyong repeated, pointing over at the empty lot. Johnny looked in the direction of Taeyong’s thin finger, immediately very visibly deflating once he realized that Yukhei’s truck was gone. 

“Shit,” Johnny cursed, glancing nervously around the lot. “ Shit,” he repeated, shaking his head. “We gotta go.”

He quickly grabbed hold of Taeyong’s wrist and started to led him in the opposite direction. Taeyong was fucking terrified. There was no way that those men had caught up to them so easily. Was there? How long had it been? How long had he been asleep for? Maybe they had been waiting for them, waiting for them to stop so that they could strike and back them into a corner. Shit. What were they gonna do now? They couldn’t make it all the way to Busan without a car. They would be caught. Fuck. That was the least of their worries now. Where the fuck was the truck? Who had taken it? Were they nearby?

As it turned out, they wouldn’t have to wait too long for the answer to those last couple of questions. Almost as soon as Johnny pulled him around the back of the pharmacy, Taeyong noticed Yukhei’s truck parked on the other side. For a second, he wondered if it had all been a mistake. Could it have been as simple as both him and Johnny misplacing where they had parked the car? But, no. If it was that easy, Johnny wouldn’t have reacted the way he had. 

Johnny must see something because he was whirling back around, dragging Taeyong with him. Taeyong is starting to become a bit nauseous and was definitely terrified because Johnny was understanding something that he wasn’t and it was only making his anxiety even worse. What was happening? What was going to happen to the both of them?

“What the fuck is going on, Johnny?” Taeyong called and Johnny’s grip went even tighter around his wrist.

“We’re gonna run on three, okay?” Johnny only said in response and Taeyong shook his head because he genuinely didn’t know if his body could handle him running right now. He didn’t think that he was strong enough for it. 

“No, Johnny, wait—,” Taeyong tried, only to be interrupted by the sound of Johnny’s breathless voice. 

“One,” Johnny started and Taeyong shook his head harder, more frantically. 

“Johnny, I can’t,” Taeyong breathed.

“You can,” Johnny reassured him, walking back to the front of the store, already beginning to quicken his steps. Taeyong was struggling to keep up with him and despite the medicine he had taken, the pain in his side was slowly starting to return. “Two.”

“Johnny,” Taeyong whined, his eyes starting to tear up because he was fucking scared and really didn’t want Johnny to leave him behind because he couldn’t keep up. 

For some reason, Johnny never got to three. Taeyong sniffled and looked down, his sight blurry and his head dizzy. Johnny wasn’t in front of him anymore. His large hand wasn’t encircled around his wrist. Instead, Johnny was on the ground of the filthy parking lot, unmoving. 

Then, before Taeyong could look back up at the sound of the gravel crunching behind himself, his sight went black.