“There’s a fucking runaway convict hiding in your property.”
Five years ago, Leeteuk would have bothered to use polite language, with correct nouns and proper adjectives and all. There would have been a civil conversation over a shot of whiskey or two, after which Leeteuk would go straight down to business and track said runaway convict down. With efficiency and enough luck, the whole thing would be done and over with in a matter of hours.
Five years ago, he would have had this discussion with the (now deceased) old landowner instead of his rude, cocky, thoroughly unreasonable son.
“My question remains,” Cho Kyuhyun tells him—and Leeteuk really wants to wipe the floor with his smug face. Everything about this young man, from his clothes to his posh university accent, grates on his nerves. “What do I get in exchange for letting your men trample all over my property in search of this fugitive?”
Leeteuk clenches his fists. “How about I leave the son of a bitch alone for today, let him slit your throat, and then tomorrow you can tell me what you get in exchange.”
“There’s no need for belligerence, Sheriff,” Kyuhyun says with a deliberate shake of head. “All I want is an exchange. A favour for a favour.”
“Fine,” Leeteuk spits. “What do you want?”
“Your attention.” Kyuhyun’s expression becomes serious, his tone business-like. “A group of those so-called government officials from the state mining company have trespassed into my property. When I told them to leave, they waved an official permit—along with way too many guns—in front of my face.”
Leeteuk frowns. “What officials? I didn’t hear anything about this.”
“Precisely. A piece of paper—which, by the way, can be easily forged—is the only thing they have to explain their presence. And even that is against the law without my consent.”
“So you want me to do something about it.”
Kyuhyun raises an eyebrow. “You can do something about it.”
“Alright,” Leeteuk concedes with a growl. “But only after I’ve got my hands on my fugitive.”
“Excellent.” Kyuhyun smiles sweetly—and how Leeteuk wishes he doesn't have to feel his heart soften at the sight, even if just a little. “You can find him in the barn.”
Leeteuk storms out of the house just in case his desire to strangle the younger man gets the better of him.
“Your boss is a huge pain in the ass.”
Siwon offers him a placating smile. “He’s eccentric.”
“Yeah, like the Devil is eccentric.”
There is a pause as Siwon pushes the barn door open, baring the hay-scented darkness within. “He’s alright once you’ve known him better,” he states mildly. “Sweet, even.”
Leeteuk smothers a wince. He has absolutely no wish to pry into the strange closeness shared by the two, but Siwon has a way with honesty that often catches him off guard.
“Can’t imagine that day’s coming along soon,” he mutters, adjusting his hat to cover a wave of discomfort. “So where’s my guy?”
True to Kyuhyun’s promise, his escaped convict is lying in a corner of the barn, neatly tied up and ready to be marched away back to prison. There is a scatter of bruises on his arms and face but not much else. A clean, professional job.
Leeteuk has very little doubt about who is responsible for it.
“This is your work, right?”
Siwon shrugs. “I was lucky.”
Leeteuk scoffs. “I doubt it was luck,” he says, kicking the convict to get on his feet.
Siwon doesn’t answer. Leeteuk still remembers the day he noticed the man for the first time. A brawl had broken in their local bar; not an uncommon occurrence, except for the fact that this was one man against a dozen others—and he was winning.
And then there was Cho Kyuhyun, who was sitting at the bar with a nonchalant smile on his face and politely apologising to him for the mess his employee had caused. Siwon was merely defending him from the thugs, who had come to harass him for refusing to sell his land.
Leeteuk knew they were trouble from the start. That, however, doesn't stop him from trying to recruit Siwon after he has seen just what the man can do.
“You really should come work with us,” he points out for the umpteenth time. “Don’t let your talents go to waste here.”
“I like what I’m doing here,” is Siwon's simple, straightforward reply.
“You know what I mean.”
A small smile comes to the other man's lips. “My answer's never going to change no matter how many times you ask. I will only use those talents for one person.”
“That's what I call a waste,” Leeteuk mutters. He may be warming up to Siwon, but figuring him out seems about as likely as walking to the moon. Especially when it comes to this inexplicable attachment he has to his young master.
But he doesn't miss the way Siwon's expression light up, the stern lines of his face softening when he sees Kyuhyun approaching. There is something there, something deeper than just respect; quieter, softer, almost like love but not quite.
Leeteuk shakes his head and walks back to his horse, dragging his prisoner by the rope. Definitely not figuring that out either.