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Open Doors That Were Previously Closed

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“The mission is simple,” Hwaryun said. “Sneak into the study and plug this USB into the main lighthouse.” She held up a black USB with a single red eye etched into it-FUG’s symbol. “The USB can only be removed by a registered member of FUG. In this case, that’s you, Bam.”


Khun sighed. “You couldn’t have made it a little less obvious that it’s from FUG? If this goes wrong, they’ll trace it back to Jyu Viole Grace immediately.”


“Then don’t let it go wrong.” Hwaryun stared impassively. “This information about the Thorn is worth the risk.”


On the 73rd floor, an influential and eccentric Tu Perie family ranker was hosting a party. Numerous famous (or perhaps infamous) rankers from the Great Families and other organizations were invited, as were well-known regulars on the floor. This included the extremely popular princess Endorsi Jahad and the infamous lightbearer Khun Aguero Agnis, much to FUG’s delight. Even though both were “tainted” by their connections to Bam and Khun was technically disowned, the ranker seemed to enjoy the element of rebelliousness. Plus, the guide had a hunch the ranker Tu Perie Tulan favored lightbearers.


“Tu Perie Tulan will be monitoring almost every room in the house. However, he has the lighthouse in the main study monitor itself and alert him when something happens. If Reverse Flow Control is applied to the lighthouse until you leave, it will not alert the ranker. The area is patrolled by guards, so try not to make any noise.”


Bam nodded.


“How is Bam going to get in?” Endorsi asked. “He doesn’t have an invitation.”


“Both of you are allowed a plus-one. I’d recommend you both bring someone with you. It’s good to have backup.”


“Okay, so I’ll bring Bam-“ the princess began.


“Actually, it would be better for Khun to bring Bam as his guest,” Hwaryun interrupted. “Khun, being a lightbearer, is better at surveillance than a fisherman. Besides, if he disappears with his plus-one, people won’t assume anything nefarious.” She gave a small smirk. “It would be bad for the princess if people thought she was making out with a man somewhere.”


Endorsi spluttered and both Khun and Bam turned red.


“Well, what am I supposed to do?” Endorsi asked, regaining her composure.


“Mingle. Pick up gossip. As a regular familiar with the press and what people say, you’re a prime candidate for the job.”


“Fine.” Endorsi scrutinized her options for dates. “Hey, swordsman. You’re coming with me.”


Hatz grumbled.


“Shibisu and I will be connected to the earpieces I’m going to give you.” Hwaryun held out two sets of clip-on earrings. One set was cobalt blue and the other blood red. “We will do our best to provide remote support for you. Report back into me if you hear anything interesting or your progress on acquiring the information.”


“I can’t believe you’re making me wear earrings.” Hatz looked at his red earpiece with distaste.


Khun snickered. “Oh, I’m remembering this moment forever.”


“Shut up.”


“What about me, red turtle?” Rak yelled. “You’re leaving me out!”


“I don’t have anything for you to do.”


“Hmph. Stupid turtles, not including their leader.”


“Don’t I need to disguise myself somehow?” Bam questioned. “After I beat test ranker Pan, I’ve become...recognizable.”


“We’ll just use our old standby. Somehow, no one realizes it’s you when your hair is short. Khun, help him gel it up.”


Khun grinned. “With pleasure.”


Endorsi grabbed Hatz’s arm. “Get over here, sword boy. I’m not disgracing myself with a date who doesn’t match my outfit.”


“This isn’t a date, princess. It’s a mission.”


“Don’t be such a stick in the mud,” she said, exasperated. “We can still look good.”


“The party is in three hours. Start getting ready.”


Bam walked with Khun to his room. “I only have one suit,” he admitted. “It’s black with a dark gray shirt and gold tie.”


That sounds hot as hell. Khun’s internal thoughts were betraying him, as usual. “Should be fine. I can wear my white suit with a blue tie if you want to contrast.” 


“Sure,” Bam agreed. I have no idea what that really means but if Khun’s suggesting it it should be fine, right? I’m not good at this clothing stuff. There’s a reason Jinsung buys all my clothes.


“Get dressed. I’ll be back soon.” The blue-haired boy swept into his room, adjacent to Bam’s.


Bam opened his closet and pulled out the suit. Jinsung had sent it to him just last week. I bet Hwaryun warned him ahead of time. Thank god.


It fit perfectly, as usual. Bam also supposed it probably cost thousands of credits, so he’d try not to ruin it. It came as a rather large shock to his friends that he didn’t know how expensive his own clothing was, but after spending his life in a cave and then joining FUG with its infinite money, his perception of price was slightly skewed.


Khun gently knocked at his door. “Can I come in?”




Both Khun and Bam stopped short as the door swung open.


Khun’s mouth went dry. The black suit Bam was wearing was almost identical to the one from the Workshop Battle, but re-tailored to fit Bam’s longer legs and broader shoulders. Speaking of broader shoulders... damn. That jacket was doing wonders. His gold-colored tie matched his irises nicely. Khun let his own eyes travel up and down, taking in everything. I hope I can make it through the night because holy shit.


Khun looked amazing in the white suit. Bam had seen Khun in a suit before, but never one like this. The fit of his coat hugged his slender waist and more feminine hips. The guy could pull off a trash bag, honestly. This wasn’t fair. Gold hoops shined in one of his ears, the cobalt earpiece dangling from the other.


“You look...really good,” Bam said, breathless.


“So do you.” A faint tinge of pink colored Khun’s cheeks. “You’d better be careful. I bet the princess is going to be all over you.”


“You think so?”


“I am an excellent judge of male attractiveness and unfortunately, so is she.” Khun combed his fingers through Bam’s hair. “No wonder all of the princesses do you favors because of your face.”


“That would have made dealing with Maschenny easier,” Bam joked. 


“Obviously, she has no taste.” Bam’s hair was really soft. It was almost surprising, considering how long he had gone without proper hair care. Khun shuddered to think of the state of his own hair after years alone in a cave. Not everyone was flawless.


The pair made small talk while Khun worked through Bam’s hair. Thankfully, he had already fixed his own up earlier. Three hours wouldn’t be enough time for doing his hair routine twice.




Bam beamed at him. “Thanks, Khun!”


After spending these past years with Bam’s bangs and small ponytail, seeing his hair pushed back to show his forehead was giving Khun a goddamn heart attack. God decided to make my best friend unfairly attractive and now I’m suffering for it. I have never wanted to be pinned against a wall so badly. Fuck.


Honestly, he was lucky he could get over himself before the others saw him. He was not about to be a wreck in front of them. Khun took a deep breath.


“What took you so long?” Endorsi asked, irritated. Her eyes widened as Bam stepped in the room. “ Oh .”


“Told you,” Khun whispered.


Shibisu whistled. Even Hatz gave a small nod. Hwaryun was as impassive as ever.


“Bam, I think I’m rediscovering my bisexuality,” Shibisu declared. Bam spluttered.


“Shibisu! It’s just a suit! Khun and Hatz are wearing them too!” Bam waved his hands around, embarrassed. “Also, Khun looks way better than I do,” he muttered.


“Khun’s only wardrobe options are dress clothes and random pieces of weird clothing he somehow manages to throw together into an outfit. We’ve all seen him in a suit before.”


“I’ve definitely worn one!”


“Yeah, once. At a party you ditched as soon as you could,” Endorsi snarked. 


“And besides!” Shibisu slung an arm around his shoulder. “Khun’s always been too good looking for the rest of us. But we’ve watched you grow up before our very eyes! You’ve gone from a cute innocent kid to a really hot guy! I’m so proud!”


“Shibisu, I’m pretty sure I’m thousands of years old.”


“Not the point.”


Khun noticed Shibisu avoided the subject of Hatz. Speaking of the swordsman...Khun had to grudgingly admit he looked good in a suit as well. 


“I’m glad Yuri isn’t here. She’d go nuts over him,” Khun said.


“That means I get Bam all to myself!” Endorsi said. She was wearing a low-cut crimson dress with matching heels. 


Khun laughed. “He’s not your plus-one, Princess. I get him for the night.”


“Oh, shut up. You get him all the time. Is it so much to ask for a beautiful girl and a hot guy to spend some alone time together?”


“I guess it is.” He smirked. Antagonizing Endorsi was too fun. Ever since she found out about his crush on Bam, they tortured themselves and each other relentlessly. Endorsi was almost as ruthless as he was, so they made a surprisingly good pair. Khun remembered the day their team met up with Endorsi’s after the war. He had slipped into her room and she immediately went off on how tall and buff Bam was now. They had really bonded.


“Well, if you’re done thirsting over my God,” Hwaryun interrupted placidly, “we should go over the strategy.” Endorsi shrieked in indignation and Khun turned bright red. Even Shibisu gave an abashed laugh.



“I bet there’s not even going to be good gossip at this party,” Endorsi grumbled. “It’s almost like I’m here because there’s no good reason for me not to be.”


“She figured that out fast,” Hwaryun said over the private line to Bam and Khun’s earpieces. “Don’t tell her I said that. I can’t have her running off.”  


Khun laughed. “Khun,” Bam whispered reproachfully. “Don’t make fun of her.”


“Are you laughing at my predicament, you blue haired bitch?” Endorsi huffed. “I’m the side character to your main display. If this was a comic or something, I’d be relegated to the background while you have your daring escapades.”


“Wow, that sucks for you.”


They continued to bicker on their way to the ranker’s mansion, Hatz occasionally interjecting to make snide comments. Bam had to de-escalate things between him and Khun more than once. 


Hatz and Endorsi were admitted with no trouble. The princess flashed her invitation and hooked her arm around Hatz’s, and they were in. Khun and Bam followed behind them. Bam squeezed Khun’s hand, his tanned and rough fingers intertwining with Khun’s pale and delicate ones. The ranker checking the invitations scrutinized them suspiciously.


“Let me see your pockets for proper identification, please.”


“What the fuck?” Khun asked. “You didn’t do that for them.”


“Princess Endorsi Jahad is a public figure. I had no need to-“


“Oh, am I not public enough for your taste?” he snapped. 


“Khun, it’s okay,” Bam said. “We’re not in the wrong here anyway.”


Khun set his pocket to visible mode, all the while glaring daggers at the ranker. Bam followed suit, with his usual smile on his face. “Good enough?”


The pockets displayed what he knew they would. Khun Aguero Agnis. 25th Bam. Both of them internally sighed in relief that the name Jyu Viole Grace wasn’t registered on Bam’s pocket.


“Everything seems to be in order,” the ranker said. “Forgive me.”


“That’s what I thought,” Khun muttered. “Asshole.” Bam took him by the wrist and dragged him inside before he could attempt murder.


“That was scary.” Bam breathed a sigh of relief. “I’m glad FUG didn’t change my name in the pocket. It’s been twelve years and still I barely know how to use it.”


“I can’t believe Princess Yuri gave you an A-rank pocket and you still don’t know how to use it.”


“To be fair, I only use it for money and communication,” Bam admitted.


“If someone here figures out you’re Jyu Viole Grace, they will alert Tu Perie immediately,” Hwaryun said. “The man may be tolerant of rebelliousness, but he will not let a war criminal anywhere near him. The other guests at the party will turn against you as well.”


“I always forget I’ve committed war crimes in the eyes of the King.”


“Yeah, the list is kind of extensive. Right now I think you’re wanted for forty-three different crimes,” Shibisu informed him. 


“Damn, I don’t have nearly as many as that. You stole my spot as Most Wanted, Bam.”


“We’ll get in, get what we need, and leave. I don’t want to start a fight.”


“Sounds good to me.”


The mansion was extravagant, to say the least. Especially in the lighting department. Chandeliers dripping with crystals hung from the ceilings. Golden sconces lined the walls. Did one person really need this many lighting fixtures? His power bill must be through the roof. Tu Perie Tulan himself was on the second floor, leaning on a railing overlooking the party. Rankers and regulars danced to the music, all of them powerful and influential. Khun vaguely recognized a few; a ranker princess from the Yeon family, someone from the Lo Po Bia family bearing the symbol of the army, a famously wealthy ranker who started with nothing to his name, a Ha family regular he remembered from the last floor’s test. Waiters skillfully wove through the people, carrying trays of glasses.


They made their way over to Hatz and Endorsi, who were standing by the dance floor. Endorsi was trying to convince Hatz to go dance, but the swordsman was unfortunately stubborn.


“Come on, Hatz,” she said, exasperated. “Are you just going to stand here the entire time?”


“We’re here for one re-“


“Shut up, dumbass. If we’re dancing, we can listen in on everyone.”


“I think hara-kiri just doesn’t know how to dance.” Khun smirked at him.


“I know how to dance, earrings.”


“Prove it, bitch.” He sipped from a glass of champagne.


Hatz sighed. “Fine. Let’s dance, princess.” Endorsi swept him onto the dance floor, mouthing a thanks as she went by.


Bam studied the door that would lead them into the hallway their destination was. A ranker appeared to be guarding it, but not in a way that it would be obvious there was something to hide.


“What should we do, Khun?” Bam asked. “There’s no way we can get past him without looking suspicious.”


Khun eyed the glasses of champagne. “Two questions. First, how good of an actor are you?”


“Decent? It depends.”


“ high is your alcohol tolerance?”



“That should not have worked.” Bam stared in disbelief.


“My plans always work.”


“I can’t believe you snuck us into a forbidden hallway by pretending we were drunk and wanted to go make out in a closet somewhere.”


Khun flashed his trademark smirk. “I’ve had weirder nights.”


They stopped outside a door, carved from mahogany. “This is it, right?”


“That’s the door,” Hwaryun confirmed. “The lighthouse is in the center of the room in invisible mode. The camera is focused on the door, so you’ll have to disable it before entry.”


“I can sense it in there,” Bam murmured. “I think I can freeze the camera.”


“We’ll find out, I guess.”


The door creaked open. No reaction from the lighthouse. Bam sighed in relief. “I think we’re good.” Khun installed his own lighthouse in the hallway for surveillance.


“Nice job. Plug the USB into the side port.”


“Yeah, I don’t know where that is.”


Khun cursed. “I’d help you, but I can’t see the lighthouse.”


“It should be on the right side near the bottom.”


“I think the one on my lighthouse is in the same spot,” Khun said.


Bam gently guided Khun’s hand to the surface of the lighthouse. “It should” Khun tapped a spot on the huge lighthouse with his finger. Sure enough, something that looked like it would fit the USB was right below. Bam plugged it in. The symbol flashed red.


“It’ll flash again when it’s ready to be taken out,” Hwaryun said. “It should take about ten minutes.”


Bam realized he was still holding Khun’s hand. They were also very close to each other. Flustered, Bam let go and moved back a step.


“Well, I suppose we’re not going anywhere for a bit.” Khun perched on Tu Perie’s desk.


“This is a pretty long make-out session.”


“We’re taking it slow.”


“Hey guys.” Endorsi’s voice crackled over the earpiece. “Did you see the Ha guy from our last test?”


“Yeah,” Khun replied. “Why?”


“Well, he saw you guys. I was just near him and he swears that Bam is Jyu Viole Grace. Thankfully he’s also incredibly drunk and no one believes him. Just be careful when you come back.”


“Well, shit,” Bam said. 


“Hearing you swear still gives me whiplash,” said Shibisu. “I’m never gonna get used to it.”


Hwaryun laughed over the comm. “I have some stories to tell.”


“Don’t you dare,” he warned her. “Not right now.”


“Why not? We have a few minutes to kill.” Khun grinned. “I’m very interested in these stories.”


“He tried one of Jinsung’s cigarettes once.”


“You did what ?” 


“It was one time!” Bam protested.


“You know those are bad for you.” Khun was in full-on ‘disappointed mom’ mode. Bam remembered him using it on Sweet and Sour all the time. It was actually kind of scary when it was turned on him.


“I never did it again,” he promised. “And I never will.”


“Oh, come on, Khun. We all had our angsty rebellious phases.”


“If I wasn’t trying to concentrate on Reverse Flow Control, I would bang my head against the wall right now.”


“He was late coming back one night and we found him about to kiss a guy in an alleyway.”


“Hwaryun, that was private!”


Khun almost fell off the desk. Oh shit, he’s gay. Or at least into guys.


Isu decided to confirm it for him. “You’re gay??”


“I don’t know.” Bam shrugged. “I don’t care about gender, really.”


“He’s just mad we interrupted what would have been his first kiss.”


“I’m actually kind of glad I didn’t kiss a random guy I didn’t know. The only reason I tried was because I wanted to stick it in Hansung’s face.”


“Fuck Hansung,” Khun agreed. “Him and his shitty coffee.”


“He’s gotten better, but his coffee still sucks.”


“The USB should be finished downloading any minute now.”


Khun’s lighthouse beeped. “There’s a guard coming. He’s going to open the door.” He slid off the desk. “Is there anywhere to hide?”


Bam looked around frantically. “I don’t think so. I can sense him right outside.”


Hwaryun and Shibisu were silent over the comm.


“Come here,” Bam whispered. “Don’t freak out, okay?”


“Why would I-“


Bam slid his hands under Khun’s jacket and pressed his lips to his. Khun’s eyes widened in surprise.


The doorknob jiggled.


Khun shut his eyes and kissed back, wrapping his arms around Bam’s neck.


A very tired guard opened the study door and sighed. This was the third couple tonight. “Oi. You’re not supposed to be in here.”


They stopped kissing, but Khun kept his arms around him. He pressed himself closer to Bam’s chest. “Give us some fucking privacy. We’ll get out soon.”


“I’m not paid enough for this,” the guard mumbled. “If you aren’t out of this room in two minutes I’m kicking you out, no matter what you’re doing.” He shut the door.


They staggered back from each other. “Holy shit,” Khun breathed.


“I’m sorry!” Bam said guiltily. “We were just talking about it and it was the only thing that I could think of.”


The USB flashed red. Bam grabbed it from the lighthouse, still furiously blushing.


Hwaryun snickered. “The princess won’t be happy.”


Fuck the princess. I just kissed my best friend who I’ve had a crush on for years in a closet. Sure, it was fake, but it still happened. Khun was almost giddy, but he had to disguise that. “That was a memorable first kiss, for sure.”


Bam opened the door and they made their way back. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t know it was your first too.”


I wouldn’t have wanted it with anyone else.


Bam blinked. “Really?”


The lightbearer froze. “Did I say that out loud?” Bam nodded. “Ah.” Well, shit.


“I wouldn’t have wanted it with anyone else either,” he admitted. “I’m glad my first wasn’t in that alley.”


“It was a pretty good kiss.” I’d kill for it to happen again.


They stepped back into the main realm of the party, still alive with laughter and dance. 


“Do you want to dance before we go?” Bam asked shyly.




The song was fast-paced and energetic, perfect for them. Bam couldn’t slow dance for shit. Dancing with Khun was exhilarating. His best friend had a smile on his face reserved just for him, one different from the strategist’s usual cocky grin or evil smirk. It was soft and sweet. Bam was suddenly struck with something he had always known but should have acknowledged more; Khun was beautiful . His blue eyes shone under the chandeliers. His features were both handsome and pretty, like an angel’s.


Bam wanted to kiss him again. But he didn’t.


The song ended, but the magic was still there. Khun Aguero Agnis was beautiful, just like he always had been.


They met up with Hatz and Endorsi again, who were sitting at a table by themselves.


“Did you get it?” Hatz asked. Bam nodded. “Great. That means we can leave.”


“Aw, you aren’t enjoying yourself, hara-kiri? Do you miss your beloved sword?” Khun teased. “What a shame. I thought this was actually kind of fun.”


“Come on Hatz, you got to go to the fancy ranker party and I had to stay behind. Don’t complain,” Isu said.


“What kind of fun could you have had in a room waiting, Khun?”


Bam and Khun exchanged a side glance. “You’d be surprised.”




Bam and Khun turned around. It was the Ha regular. Khun swore under his breath. “What do you want?”


He stumbled over to them, clearly flat out drunk. He pointed a shaky finger at Bam and yelled “Jyu Viole Grace!”


Instantly every ranker and regular in the vicinity turned to stare.


Bam looked around and pointed a finger at himself. “Me?”


“Who the fuck else would it be??”


“I’m not Jyu Viole Grace.”


“Don’t lie! I recognize you from the last floor!”


Bam looked at him, confused. “I don’t know who you are. You seem very drunk, I think you have me confused with someone else.”


“Besides,” another regular piped up. “That can’t be Jyu Viole Grace! He’s big and scary and violent!”


Khun was fighting his laughter. He could tell Endorsi was too. Bam just looked resigned.


“Look, the guards checked my pocket when we came in. It didn’t say Jyu Viole Grace,” Bam snapped. I really don’t want to deal with this.


“Maybe we should go,” Khun said in a low voice.


“Might as well.” Endorsi stepped beside them. “This was starting to get boring.”


“We don’t want any trouble. We’ll just go if our presence here is a problem.” Bam smiled placatingly. 


“You can’t go,” the regular spat. “You need to be arrested for your crimes against the king!” He charged forward, throwing a sloppy punch Bam easily dodged.


“That guy must be insane. He can’t do a thing against Bam if no one believes him,” Shibisu pointed out. “Attacking him isn’t gonna get the guards on his side.”  


Khun sighed. “This is ridiculous.” His lighthouses flickered into view and teleported them straight to the door.


“I could have done it.” Endorsi frowned. “Give me some use here.”


“You get to take us home. We’re coming back, Hwaryun.” 



Bam collapsed on his bed with a sigh of relief. “I’m so happy I get to take this off.”


“What, you don’t like wearing dress clothes?” Khun asked as he took his jacket off.


“I just wear whatever I feel comfortable in and don’t mind getting destroyed, usually.” His jacket slipped off his shoulders.


“Like that ugly plaid shirt.”


“Khun! It wasn’t that bad!”


Khun gave him a deadpan stare. 


“Okay, maybe it was.”


Khun loosened his tie and began unbuttoning his shirt. Bam studied his friend as he did, admiring his graceful movement even when doing something as simple as taking a shirt off. Speaking of taking a shirt off...Bam was feeling things about Khun’s exposed collarbones. 


“Is everything okay, Bam? You’re looking at me weirdly.”


Bam reddened. “No, everything’s fine! I’m just...thinking about earlier.”


“Ah. Good things?”


He bit his lip. “Maybe? Depends on what you think about it.” The wave controller took a deep breath. “I...I kind of want to kiss you again.”


Khun froze. “What?”


“Is that weird?”


“I don‘t know, is it weird that I want the same thing?”


With that, Bam pressed his lips to Khun’s, gently at first. When Khun started kissing harder, he did too, until the kiss was rough and passionate and right . Khun’s hands were pressed against his chest, a steady comfort saying keep going . Bam threaded his fingers through Khun’s hair, one of the only ones who would ever have the privilege. After a moment of hesitation, he lightly tugged on the fine blue strands, eliciting a moan from Khun.


“Do it again,” he murmured. Bam obliged, tugging a bit harder. Khun explored Bam’s mouth with his tongue, running it along his teeth. He had never noticed how sharp his canines were until now. Bam pushed him up against a wall, never breaking away from the kiss for a second. 


Damn, Khun thought. Looks like I’m getting my wish.


“Hey guys, the meeting’s about to st-“ Shibisu froze at the scene in front of him. Naturally, with Bam pinning Khun, whose shirt was half off, against the wall while making out, he assumed the worst. “Ah.”


“Shibisu.” Khun was deadly calm. “What have I told you about knocking?”


“This isn’t your room!”


“That doesn’t mean you can barge in! We were having a moment , asshole.”


“We’ll be there soon,” Bam said, sheepish. Isu nodded and hurriedly closed the door.


“Nosy bastard, ruining our first official kiss,” Khun grumbled. “We should head over there.”



“Ah, so nice of you to join us.” Hwaryun had a serene smile on her face. “How was it?”


“You knew this was going to happen, didn’t you?” Khun ran a hand through his hair.


“Yep.” She popped the p. “It was only a matter of time. Nice going.”


“Fucking guides.”


“Hey Khun,” Endorsi said dangerously. “Shibisu told me an interesting story about what happened in Bam’s room.”


A knife thudded into the wall next to Shibisu’s head. He yelped. “I’m sorry!”


“We were just kissing. That’s it.” Bam tilted his head. “Is that bad?”


Just kissing?” Isu screeched. “His shirt was halfway unbuttoned!”


“He didn’t finish changing,” he said, confused. “What are you- oh. Nothing like that happened! We were just trying it out!”


“Can’t we do anything in peace?” Khun shook his head and sighed. 


“Interrogate them later,” Hwaryun said dryly. “We’re here for a reason.”


“Right.” Bam flashed Khun a smile with the promises of later .