Funerals are the most pretentious event in the universe.
The supposedly gloomy event is always packed with fake tears and beautifully crafted words, courtesy of people who act like they care.
Choi Beomgyu has to face countless of these fakers over the span of these few days, sitting there by his parents’ altars while the some nameless faces try to reassure him that everything is going to be okay. He is the one who should be the most crushed, yet no single drop of tear stains his cheek. These people are probably talking about him; judging what kind of son he is from how many tears he drops.
Light shower has started to drizzle over the graveyard compound as soon as the ceremony is over, as if the sky is crying on behalf of Beomgyu. He looks up at the sky, catching a few drops of water on his cheek, just before a black umbrella covers his view.
“It’s time to go,” Soobin urges him, holding his gaze with a certain gentleness that would probably earn him a punch if he were anyone else. Nobody is allowed to act like this to him just because he lost his parents. Nobody but his best friend.
There are not many people left after the service ended. Most of the business partners have left, leaving some family and close friends. Beomgyu doesn’t want to see them, unable to take any more of the sympathizing look especially from the kids who go to a same school as him. Most importantly, he doesn’t want to see the pretentious face of his other family members.
He can already predict the change of their attitude once they find out the alteration of his parents’ will.
“Beomgyu. Are you sure you’re going to be okay?” a voice interrupts him just as he turns around to go.
Taking a deep breath, he faces the middle aged male who he recognized by voice alone, putting on his best smile.
“Yes, uncle. I’m already 18. I know how to take care of myself, and the company business once I graduate. Thank you for your help all this time.”
Even through the blur drizzle of rain, he can see the flash of disdain crossing Choi Jongho’s face from his words, but he pretends to miss it, opting to fold himself into a ninety degree bow before turning around to leave the place with Soobin on his tail.
“Did you see his face? Fucking hypocrite,” he only breaks into a smirk once they are inside the car, loosening the tie from around his neck and leaning back on his seat. “That man will have me killed. Mark my word.”
“That won’t happen as long as I’m here,” Soobin says, eyeing him with a strange look which caught Beomgyu's attention.
“Are you not going to cry?”
He scoffs at the question, shadow flitting over his pair of eyes the moment he tears them away from the other.
“I will only mourn them once I’m not busy trying to stay alive.”
The mansion feels just as empty as before his parents’ death, which is normal, because Beomgyu spends most his year staying at the boarding school. It just feels even lonelier now, since he has nothing to look forward to. No more nagging from his mother to fix his grades, or being summoned to his father’s office where he had to listen to his old man talk about the company.
They always told him that they were doing it to prepare him for the future. He didn’t think the future would come this soon; the future where he has to go on without them.
As he seats himself on his father’s chair, everything hits him at once, alerting him that it’s real. He is the one sitting on this chair, holding the position as the highest name in the company hierarchy; the biggest shareholder as well as the head of the company. His father has been preparing him for this chair all along, yet it's still not enough.
He would have broken down right there and betrayed his own vow if only it’s not for Soobin’s entrance into the office.
“The lawyer just called. They are already informed about the will,” he informs.
Beomgyu stares at him for a long moment before he breaks into laughter. His voice echoes through the vacant room, fading out just as he swivels the chair around to face the big window behind him. It was something that his father did a lot, and now he has to do it in behalf of the old man.
“It won’t take long until it happens, then. Are we ready?”
“Are you ready?”
No. He will never be ready for this.
A few days ago, he was just a high school student without any burdens except for his grades. In a blink of eyes, all the leisure of being a normal high schooler is taken away from him. Now he is an adult who has to defend his life. No one deserves to go through this alone.
At least he has Soobin by his side.
“Let’s do this, Soob.”
“For the record, I’m still not agreeing to this part of the plan,”
After all the black suits he has to wear during several days of memorial services, Beomgyu is exhilarated to saunter across the city in casual clothing. Instead of rotting away inside the gloomy mansion for the rest of their mourning leave from school, he opts to drag his unwilling best friend to hang out with him. Three days in a row, Soobin has to accompany him to hang out around the crowded shopping street, doing whatever teenager things he wouldn’t be able to enjoy otherwise. He should applaud the guy for putting up with him.
Soobin has been a constant in his life ever since he can remember. His father took him into the household when he was five years old. A snotty child who cried a lot back then while Beomgyu fought the bullies for him. No one expected him to grow so tall over the years. No one expected him to he beg their parents to make him Beomgyu’s bodyguard either. What a drastic turns of events.
They only agreed because of Soobin's reasoning that it would be safer and more inconspicious, since they are attending the same classes and living in a same dormitory at the boarding school. That’s how Soobin became something fixed in Beomgyu's life, and now ended up as the only family he has left.
“Come on! Loosen up a bit. We’ve been doing this for days and there’s still no movement. Maybe we’re actually safe?” Beomgyu says, a skip on his steps as he spots a mini stall that serves some hotteok.
“I just think that you’re super careless when you’re having fun. See!” the said bodyguard exclaims when he saw a drip of filling melt out of the pancake and drop straight onto Beomgyu’s pristine white shirt. It’s amusing, watching the taller male take care of him like this when it’s not even included in his job descriptions.
“Should we shop for some clothes then?”
Soobin gives him a look, which turns stern all of sudden and almost sends Beomgyu into an alarmed state. He bites nervously on his snack while the guy seems to be immersed on whatever it is he is listening from his earpiece.
“Seven. The number grew from yesterday,” he finally says once he has his attention back on Beomgyu. “It’s more than we expected. We can’t stay out here and be an easy prey!”
Seven. Seven people hired to harm him.
It should invoke fear in him, making him shiver and run back into the safety of their mansion. Except it does not. Beomgyu only looks at his best friend with a smile before stuffing the rest of his hotteok into Soobin’s mouth.
“It’s daylight, they won’t be so brave to launch an attack in the middle of a shopping centre!” he says cheerfully, trying to convince even himself. “We’re going after I get a new shirt.”
The sun is scorching as they walk across the street. Yet, it doesn’t seem to affect Beomgyu’s mood. He stares at the clothes through stores’ display windows, entering one that is selling an exact same shirt as the one he just stained. Meanwhile, Soobin is still alert on his side, standing rigidly while watching him. It’s a useless safety precaution, because nothing happens.
At least not until they are sitting down for lunch at this Chinese restaurant. Soobin’s already relaxed a little because of Beomgyu’s constant reassurance. It’s disrespectful for the dumplings that Beomgyu hasn’t finished eating, when a loud noise of shattered glass explodes in the background and he finds himself landing hard on the cold floor with Soobin's weight crushing him onto the cold floor.
There are screams around them, chaos of people trying to run away from the place.
Soobin keeps cursing under his breath as he drags Beomgyu out of the way of the stampede, keeping the smaller male sheltered under his arm as they run out of the restaurant and into the car waiting for them outside.
It’s still chaotic back in the street, but the two of them are safe now. Their laboured breathings filled the car, interrupted by some gasps of shock as Beomgyu watched the people running outside the car. A hand held over his heart that is hammering over his chest.
“I can't… those people…. brought danger…”
“WHAT DID I TELL YOU?” Soobin yells when the car takes off. His brows furrowed as he released his hold around Beomgyu so he can give him his best reprimanding stare. It’s hard to be scared of him now when Beomgyu is still on the verge of having a panic attack.
“God, please tell me they didn’t get you,” he frantically checks all over Beomgyu’s front, only to sit back with a relieved sigh when he didn’t spot any blood stain in the new shirt. “This is why I didn’t want you to bait yourself like that.”
Still shaking, Beomgyu’s hand blindly searches for Soobin’s, finding himself able to breathe properly again after getting a reassuring squeeze from the larger palm. His eyes are falling shut now instead of their former size of saucers from the shock.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t think they’d really make a move in broad daylight.”
Soobin’s voice is soft again, void of the anger he had earlier. He just sounds genuinely tired now. “I’m just glad you’re okay, for now. Seven is too much.”
“That’s right, but then I have the best bodyguard in the world,” he cracks a smile, feeling his heartbeat evening up after the rush of adrenaline. His mood is turning into a lighter one, and he is making sure that Soobin feels that as well by teasing him. “You looked like you were going to die of fear, though? What will you do if they got me? Are you in love with me?”
Usually the guy would just flinch away from him and give him a disgusted look, but Soobin is just staring at him with a conflicted look now. His lower lip trapped between his teeth, just before he releases it with a sigh. It’s not working.
“I really thought I was going to die from fear. If you died… I wouldn't know what to do.”
In Soobin’s words, Beomgyu can feel the severity of the situation. It is not just like any other day of fighting bullies and kidnappers. He barely escaped death, and his bodyguard is the one who is scared for his life. Perhaps it’s time for him to take this more seriously.
“Soobin,” he calls out, dropping his head to rest his forehead on the guy’s shoulder. “We're going to be okay, right?”
There’s another squeeze on his hand, and then a gentle thud of Soobin resting his head against his own.
“I’ll make sure of it.”
━━━━━━ ◦ ❖ ◦ ━━━━━━
This part of the neighbourhood always reeks of weed and rotten trash.
There is no sign of life apart from the flickering street lights and dripping water into the sewer. That is, until someone comes stumbling into the alley. Puddles of water disturbed out of their calmness by the clumsy steps of an injured leg. It's a hopeless game of chase, yet the wounded figure's desperate need of survival urges him to keep going. The end of it is only marked by a flash of lightning that lights up the dark street, showing a dead end ahead of the male. A despaired wail rings through the vacant area when he realizes his demise.
He falls down into a puddle of water, still trying to crawl away with the river of blood that is running down his leg from a fresh bullet wound.
Cockroaches are really hard to kill.
“Pathetic. Did you imagine being in this position when you stole all that money?” Another voice comes from the entrance of the alley.
The gravels crunch under his boots as he walks slowly to the whimpering figure, enjoying each second of the chase. As the street light flicker back into life above the alley, the owner of the voice comes into view. He is clad in a leather jacket and a pair of tight jeans that hugged his long legs. A smug smile is plastered on his lips as he makes his way to his prey.
The guy screams when one of the heavy boots makes a contact with his back, sending him flat on the ground with his face smushed into the mud.
“I already returned the money, all of it! Ask Dr. Kim. He—He really trusts me. He wouldn’t want me to die!”
“Dr. Kim said to put 7 bullets in your head, though.”
He is hysterical when the gun comes back into view. Even if he was not paid to kill this roach, the man in leather jacket would do it for free because of his annoyance now. He would have done it quickly, if only it’s not for the vibration coming from his pocket.
Feeling generous, he opts to take the call first while letting the guy weep for his life. A vain hope dangled in front of his mud-stained face.
“Yeonjun, my boy! Are you done with the last kill?” Taehyung’s voice comes from the line. He sounds too cheerful for this kind of discussion.
“You’re asking me if I’m done, less than 10 hours after you gave me his file? You’re too much.”
“I have a new job for you. It’s pretty high profiled, so I want to see if you’re up for it first before I assign it to someone else.”
That caught his interest.
His eyes locked with the guy once again—still begging for his life—before he pulls the trigger. Sounds of gunshot ripped through the air exactly seven times, and then everything is swallowed by a thick silence.
“I’m in. The case is mine.”
“See you at the HQ in 30 minutes.”
He takes his foot away from the lifeless body, cursing under his breath when he spots a splatter of blood on his boot. It’s nothing to worry about. Nobody is going to discover the man until hours later when the drunks walk out of the bars in search for a place to throw up.
Blood stains are just a bitch to clean up.
Nobody really visits this headquarters unless there is something important, and Yeonjun likes important matters. Those always bring in the most money into his saving account.
Despite being fairly new in the field, Yeonjun climbed up the ranks quicker than anyone else. Everyone looks down on him for looking like a teenager, always carrying a guitar case over his shoulder and trying to look so fashionable with his leather jacket. Little did they know, he is a prodigy.
“Daniel, you’re here.”
He arches a brow at the sudden usage of nickname. It only happens whenever the customer is present to judge him before signing the contract. True to his thoughts, he can see the person on the screen of Taehyung’s computer. A middle aged man with a mask covering the top part of his face.
“Let’s get to business,” he says, lowering his guitar case to the floor and resting his weight on it. “Who is the target?”
To answer his question, his phone beeps with an incoming email. He fishes it out of his pocket, opening the mail to see a case file with the picture and details of the person who is soon to be dead by his hands.
Choi Beomgyu. The sole heir to a chaebol company who just lost his parents in a car crash.
After a few cases similar to this, Yeonjun can already assume that this has something to do with the company and inheritance. Especially since the target is still so young.
“A clean kill is preferred. One shot.”
“I can do that.”
“He is going back to school in three days, and if you lost the chance, we’ll have to arrange your enrolment into the institution. It’s one of the safest places in the city, and you can only do it from the inside,” Taehyung adds, apparently ready with a whole plan even the backups.
So much trouble for such an easy case.
Yeonjun sucks a breath through his teeth, not appreciating the fact that he is being underestimated by this old man. “I’ll finish him before then,” he says nonchalantly, scrolling down the pdf file to find more pictures.
Pictures of him with black hair, looking all naïve and young. Then there are pictures of him with blonde hair and multiple piercings, seemingly the current look. Typical rebellious phase of a rich kid. As he scrolls further down, there are also pictures of some other guys with him—probably classmates; but particularly this one tall guy with dimpled smiles that is always present in his pictures. On the next page, an information of the guy himself is displayed.
“I’ll pay you extra if you can finish Choi Soobin, too,” the voice comes from the computer screen this time. His smile twisted into a smirk at the offer.
With this easy money, he can afford eating his favourite beef stew for the rest of the month.
Or so he thought.
What that old man did not mention is the fact that there will be other people targeting the rich kid, too. These other people are inexperienced idiots who will ruin his fancy meal plan.
It’s been going smoothly for him. Over the past few days, Yeonjun has disguised himself as a college student (exchanging his black boots with converses, that’s his best disguise) in order to blend in the shopping street frequented by his target.
As someone who just went through a devastating loss, Choi Beomgyu sure does not look like it. Instead of staying home and mourn, he is enjoying his life to the fullest – visiting various stores and food stalls, single karaoke rooms, and multiple arcades. He looks just like any other teenager who is freed from his study responsibility, and Yeonjun is not feeling bad anymore about killing the guy.
The insolent rich brat deserves it.
According to the information in the files, this would be the kid’s last day of mourning leave before he has to go back to the academy.
Yeonjun has it perfectly planned.
After watching those two and memorizing the pattern of their hang out plans, they would stop at this Baskin Robin’s store around 7 o’clock, and then a car would pick them up from there. The place is perfect for his mission, with an abandoned building across the street that he can use as a hideout until he has to carry out the kill.
He even planned to be generous, to let those guys finish their ice cream first before he snipe them. At least their last memory in this cruel world will be a pleasant one.
Before he can execute his perfectly crafted plan, however, that peabrained hitman just had to ruin everything.
He has been hiding in a balcony of a stationery store, watching as his target eats his lunch happily while his own stomach rumbled. Even from this far, he can see the red dot from the rifle slowly climbing up from the table, shaking a little before it’s fixed on Beomgyu’s head. Anyone would see that, including Choi Soobin who quickly pushed the target aside before the shot was released.
The failed shoot totally ruins the whole plan, as his little guy is now safe inside his bulletproof car, on his way back to the mansion.
Who would shoot their target in the middle of the day unless they are a super experienced sniper? Even worse, it had to be a total miss.
“Fuck. If only I could kill this dumbass instead,” he searches frantically around the vicinity with his binoculars.
There he is, the epitome of a failure as a hitman, making a run on an adjacent building’s rooftop. It’s so easy for him just to pick up his rifle and aim for the panicky guy if he were to end him. But it’s not his job.
His job starts again only later on, as he launches himself over the tall gate of the Choi mansion. It’s a totally risky move, especially being a back-up plan with minimum research of the mansion. Still, he has to do this before the kid is back to the academy’s maximum safety.
He has disabled the security cameras for ten minutes and memorized the blueprints. There are no guards in the vicinity, probably slacking around since there are not many people left living in this place.
Yeonjun has done countless of breaking into places with high security and escaping unscathed, so this one should not be any different.
He got ten minutes to kill Choi Beomgyu.
The sneak in is going way too smoothly, he should’ve been suspicious about it. It must be the easy money that got into his head, making him too excited with the adrenaline rushing through his blood, as he quietly runs across the corridor leading to where Beomgyu’s bedroom should be. If he still had time, he could pay a visit to the other guy’s room for a surprise. And that extra money.
Cold air follows behind his nape, following his silent footsteps the closer he gets to the bedroom. He got another weapon ready for this, a smaller gun hiding under his sleeve, complete with the silencer.
A clean kill. One shot.
It echoes inside his head over and over again, even when he cracks the door open and walks inside the room. As his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he spots the furniture first, and then the blanket lump in the bed. It’s such a shame, that cute guys are so easy to kill. The universe won’t leave some behind for him to date.
His gun is ready now. He just has to point it at where the cute small face would be on top of his pillow.
What he didn’t expect to see is the swift movement from the bed, shooting up for him and grabbing his shirt before he can react. His gun drops silently onto the carpeted floor while he stumbles into the bed from the tug. The element of surprise lasted for 0.1 second, and then he fights back, landing a punch on whatever it is grabbing him. Still, he’s overpowered, especially when he hears the door slams open and a few more dull footsteps coming in.
Sounds of cocked guns pointing at him are enough warning for him to stop struggling.
Without the fight, he is helplessly pinned down to the bed with a knee to his chest. A barrel of gun pressed against his cheek. The light in the room comes to live, and a cold face of a dimpled man greets him instead of a bloody face of a cute blond he expected to see by the end of the day.
That’s when he knows that he fucked up. He walked straight into their trap.
“Didn’t your mom tell you that it’s rude to enter someone's bedroom without knocking?”
Fuck. This guy is irritating.
Just the cherry on top to his demise.
They should have just gone with this motto: One Shot, Clean Kill; and perhaps Yeonjun would thank them from his grave.
Much to his dismay, he ends up getting tied up to a chair inside the fancy office. The bruise on his cheek stings from where Choi Soobin slaps the gun against his face, which is a totally unnecessary attack. The guy is now glaring dagger a few meters away from him as if he is the one with the right to be angry.
“Are you really planning to kill me here? It would be a bitch to clean up,” he yells, getting tired from being held in this position for so long.
“I’d rather clean up than listening to you, god, can’t you shut up for five minutes?”
Yeonjun laughs, finding amusement in being just as irritating as the guy. He sure can spew some provocation, but inside he does not fancy the thought of dying. Especially not in the hand of these targets he underestimated.
Having done this kind of job for over a year already, he knows that he would be in this position sooner or later. A lot of other names in his agency have been announced to fail in their gigs and killed, and he remembers paying his respect every other week when he was a rookie. He just never thought the day would come this early for him.
It’s really pathetic to die in the hand of rich people. At least the ceiling is beautiful, he sighs as he slouches down on the chair, ignoring the strain on his bound hands as he tipped his head back to stare at the pictures of clouds drawn in the ceiling. He shuts his eyes, then. If he can choose what to see before he died, it would not be the annoying face of Choi Soobin.
That’s when the door slams open, followed by relaxed footsteps walking into the room that stops right behind his chair. “This is our honourable guest?” the voice comes from above his face.
When he opens his eyes, he is greeted by an angelic face.
Okay, that is an exaggeration caused by the adrenaline leaving his body. The face, in fact, is the same one as the many pictures he saw in his files. It’s already etched in his brain, ready to be added to the long list of faces that died by his hands, if only this had been a successful mission.
“Beom, seriously? Get away from him!”
“Yeah, because I have this magical power to kill people without my hands and guns,” he spits.
Beomgyu’s laugh tinkles in the silence of the room. How the guy could look so relaxed when his life is being targeted, Yeonjun can’t comprehend it.
“The data is right. Someone really hired a kid to kill me,” he says with a sigh, walking away from the chair and stopping across the room right in front of Yeonjun, hoisting himself up to sit on the edge of the big desk. “Do they think I have no resources to protect myself? I’m a little offended.”
“I’m one of the best,” he snaps defensively, gritting his teeth at the smugness of the boy.
He even had the audacity to call him the kid.
“Are you?” Beomgyu cocks his head to a side, a mocking pout forming on his lips. “You wouldn’t even last a minute inside this place if I hadn’t let you.”
So he did walk into a trap, that’s why it’s so easy. Not to mention, the guy talked about data, which means that they have obtained information about him, too. As if confirming his thoughts, Soobin steps forward with a printed document.
“Choi Yeonjun, 20 years old, high school drop-out,” he says, punctuating it with a scoff before he continues. “37 kill within the first year of his ‘career’, two of them being an assassination of high profiled names. We’ll be helping those open cases a lot if we send this pest to the cops.”
“Really? I wasn’t expecting that.”
“You didn’t read the files…”
“Are those meant for me to read?”
If Yeonjun didn’t already hate these two for trapping him in this office, he would hate them for making him sit through their bickering session. He has to mute the conversations because his head pounds with all the possibilities of what he would become; now that his fate is in the hands of a couple of kids. The worst case scenario is being tortured in a basement of a police station and forced to spill information about his agency.
All his friends…
“Who hired you?”
He blinks slowly at the question, eyes locked with the blonde who is staring at him with a more pensive expression.
“I can’t tell you that.”
“Choi Yeonjun, I don’t think you’re in the place to withhold information,” Soobin chimes in from the side.
“Fuck off, you little family pet.”
A book hits him square on the face as soon as he said that, making the bruise sting some more from the impact. He curses under his breath, glaring at the guy who just chucked the book at him.
“You think you’re in the place to speak that way to Soobin? He is a hundred times above the like of you,” the guy looks pissed now. A frown replacing the impish smirk he had on his face earlier as he hops off the desk and walks towards him. “Now, tell me who hired you.”
“Rot in hell.”
As if the book wasn’t enough, Yeonjun hears a familiar click of metal before he sees a glint of knife in Beomgyu’s hand as the boy stops right before him. He clenches his jaw, looking at his target straight in the face even as the cold metal meets his neck, tapping gently right above his pulse point.
“You’re really protecting their lives, now? More than your own?” the guy is standing tall before him now, tapping his chin with the knife to make him look up. “You know who you’re protecting? Those so-called relatives and friends who rejoice over the death of a kid’s parents, then proceed to kill the said kid because they are not getting the money. Do you think they would care about what happens to their little hitman when they don’t even care about their own blood relatives?”
Yeonjun glares at him. He knows all these already, yet he also knows that it would be dangerous for him to release classified information. Even if he survived, the agency will be out for his blood. That is, surprisingly, not the thing that’s bothering him now. It’s the underlying sadness behind the stern eyes of the boy.
The kid is Choi Beomgyu, and he is all alone without anyone to trust, just a few days after burying his parents. As if that wasn’t enough, he almost died twice within a day.
“You’re really not giving in? It’s going to be messy… good thing I like red.”
Never mind. The kid is a psycho.
“I really don’t know who it is, okay?” he finally says, ignoring the sneer from the other male thinking it’s an obvious lie. “He was wearing a mask, so I didn’t catch his face. I can tell you that it was a middle aged man, though. Is that enough?”
“Bet my car it’s that fucker Jongho,” Beomgyu says, looking over his shoulder to Soobin.
“Great deal, can I go now?” Yeonjun grunts, inching his head away from the knife that is still dangerously close to his face. He doesn’t trust the guy enough not to accidentally poke his eye.
“What? So soon?” he turns his attention back to Yeonjun, but dropping the knife now that it’s not necessary for threatening anymore. “Nope, you’re going to work for me!”
“First, you have to kill all the other hitmen hired to kill me.”
“What the fuck?”
“Second, you have to go back to your agency and dig information on who hired you. That’s who you’re going to kill for the last time before you’re free.”
“No, I’m not—“
“Six… seven. That’s seven people in total to kill!” Beomgyu counts with his fingers, smiling brightly at Yeonjun when he looks up again. It’s as if he is talking about something light like buying candies and not about killing people. “I will pay you four times the amount of what that asshole offered. On top of that, I will also spare your life. Isn’t that super nice of me?”
“What are you playing here, Choi Beomgyu? This is not a game and you can’t just re-hire me to double cross like that.”
The smile dissipates from Beomgyu’s face, just like an unplugged tub. There’s no disappointment, just firmness as the guy runs his fingers through Yeonjun’s hair, before closing them around a handful of the dark locks and yanking his head back. The sting makes him hiss, glaring at the younger male in anger.
“You think you’re in the position to say no?” his voice deepens when he says that, and even as the smile comes back to his face, it’s more of a cold-blooded one. One that sends a shiver of fear through Yeonjun’s body because of an underlying tone on what the guy can do to make him submit.
“You’re mine now, Choi Yeonjun.”