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Angel with a Shotgun

Chapter Text

It was very bright in the afterlife.

Gaon did not delude himself that he was anywhere resembling heaven. He had done a lot of things he was not proud of during his short life. He had caused someone's death.


He had killed people.

Min Jungho… Yo-

Was this his punishment? To float in this brightness for eternity?

A hand reaching for him.

Gaon's eyes snapped open and he gazed at the ceiling above him, tracking the crack that had been there for years. He had promised himself to fix it repeatedly but he had forgotten about it in the hustle and bustle of daily life.

He touched his cheek, the tears still wet on his face, the only remnants left of the dream.

Was it a dream? Soohyun… Kang Yo-

Gaon pushed himself into a sitting position, clutching his head in his hands.

It was too painful to be a dream.

His phone chimed from the nightstand and Gaon reached for it blindly, only succeeding in knocking it onto the floor. With a sigh, Gaon reached for it, Soohyun's message flashing on the locked screen.

Thug: Good luck on your first day at work.

Gaon's eyes widened as he checked the date and time, scrambling off the bed hastily.

“Darn it! I’m late!”

As Gaon rushed down the stairs of his house, he could hear the voice from his dream whispering in his mind.

‘Would you make a deal with the devil for a second chance?’

Gaon dashed through the corridor of the Supreme Court, heading directly towards the Chief Judge's office, remembering with a pang the last time he took this path.

He pushed open the door without slowing his pace, releasing a tension he did not realize he was carrying when he saw the Chief Judge standing there, facing the window wall.

Just like the first time.

The Chief Judge turned around and raised an eyebrow, pointedly looking at the door before facing him. Gaon flushed when he realised he had barged into the office without knocking.

It was a habit from before.

“I'm sorry. I-”

“Judge Kim.” The Chief Judge's voice was cold and smooth, his shoes tapping on the floor as he approached Gaon, close enough that Gaon could smell his cologne. He was staring hungrily at Gaon and unlike the first time, Gaon did not disturb him. Gaon knew he was looking at Isaac and if Gaon took advantage of that to look his fill at the Chief Judge, no one could blame him.

They were both looking at the deads in the faces of the livings.

“Welcome to the battlefield.” He held out his hand for a handshake, patiently waiting for Gaon to reciprocate.

Warm and alive.

A gentle squeeze and Gaon's hand was released. But he was still there in front of Gaon, his hand on Gaon's shoulder trailed to the shirt collar. Gaon's breath hitched.

“Did you run here?”

“Yes… I overslept.”

“No wonder your shirt's all crumpled up.” The Chief Judge tugged on his collar to fix it and Gaon unconsciously leaned into the touch.

Alive. Alive. Alive.

Their eyes met and Gaon jerked back in surprise, pulling away from the warmth that he was unconsciously basking in.

A pair of eyes full of regret and resignation.

Gaon closed his eyes to shake off the memory.

“Judge Kim?”

Gaon's eyes opened at the voice and caught sight of the painting on the wall, his blood draining off his face.

He survived that explosion. I saved him.

“Are you okay, Judge Kim?” the Chief Judge asked, turning around to follow Gaon's line of sight.

What if I was not here to save him this time?

“Do you ever think about changing the decor of your office? The painting especially.” Gaon's voice was trembling.

“What is wrong with the painting?” The Chief Judge's eyes narrowed and his full attention was on Gaon. It was always exhilarating for Gaon to have him looked at Gaon like this. Like he could see into Gaon's soul and the darkness inside.

“There is nothing wrong with the painting. It's just… I don’t think it fits with the rest of the office. It’s too… explosive.” Gaon was babbling and it was too late to stop the trainwreck that this conversation was turning into so he decided to jump into it with both feet.

“You don't think it fits with the rest of the office,” the Chief Judge repeated with an amused tilt of his lips.

“Yes. I have an interest in interior design and that painting is an interior design disaster.” Gaon was internally horrified by the words coming out of his mouth while the Chief Judge was increasingly amused.

“I will think about replacing the painting, Judge Kim.”


Gaon grabbed the Chief Judge's wrist before he could turn his back on Gaon, both of them eyeing the touch for a moment in silence. He looked at Gaon suspiciously, the amusement from before gone. Gaon steeled himself against that look and let go.

“You must get rid of it.”

The desperation in Gaon's voice must have been obvious for the Chief Judge to hear as he reluctantly agreed to Gaon's ridiculous request.

“If you feel so strongly about it, I will have people move it off the wall.”

“Thank you,” Gaon breathed out in relief.

The Chief Judge went back to his desk, leaving Gaon to stand there staring at him, Gaon's eyes tracing the scar he knew hiding underneath the layers of clothes. The heavy silence blanketed them until the Chief Judge turned around, a flash of surprise in his eyes when he noticed Gaon was still standing there.

“Are you planning to move into my office, Judge Kim?”

“No! No… I- I'll just go…”

A raised eyebrow and Gaon scrambled out of the door, leaning back against the closed door of the Chief Judge's office. He traced the name on the wall with shaking fingers, a sob escaping him.

Kang Yohan.

When Gaon met Judge Oh Jinjoo the first time, he thought of her as an over-excited fangirl of Kang Yohan. A capable judge but both Gaon and Yohan underestimated her in their plan. Jung Sunah however saw her potential and took advantage of it.

Gaon was determined not to give her an opening to manipulate Judge Oh this time.

He let their interaction continued in the same manner as the first time, a sense of deja vu washing over him. However this time, he paid more attention as she talked, filing the information away.

He had seen her nerves of steel and her determination to right her wrongs, he had seen a friend in her. But most of all, he had seen an ally.

“Charm is power,” Judge Oh said as she turned back to her desk.

“Then the Chief Judge must be very charming,” Gaon quipped, turning his chair slightly to face Judge Oh.

Judge Oh smiled widely. “Are you a fan too?” She was holding up the photo cutout of Kang Yohan that had creeped Gaon out the first time. “You are!”

“What?” Gaon blinked.

“Don’t hide it. You’re staring at his photo with fond eyes.” Her eyes twinkled mischievously, giving Gaon a bad feeling.

Judge Oh went to the wall facing their desks and pasted the photo right at Gaon's eye level.

“There. Now we both can stare at him as we work,” she said proudly.

Gaon burst out laughing.

Gaon was not surprised when Professor Min asked him to meet for lunch. He did not go to meet the professor in the morning as he was already running late. However, he had no excuse to refuse lunch.

So Gaon took a page out of Yohan's book and arranged to meet at an expensive restaurant. He ordered the most expensive thing on the menu with the sheer excuse of celebrating his new job and Professor Min's appointment as the Chief Justice.

He hated how easy it was for him to lie.

Gaon listened as Min Jungho smoothly tried to manipulate him, feeling sympathy for the past him that fell for this trick. The Chief Justice gave him the same speech as the first time, only this time Gaon did not believe a single thing of it.

Gaon wondered whether Professor Min really believed everything that came out of his mouth. Then, he was too far involved with Jung Sunah's scheme to stop but now Gaon wondered whether Gaon could try to change his mind.

"You need to keep an eye on him,” Min Jungho said sternly.

Gaon looked into his eyes and remembered another pair of eyes, full of hurt and betrayal. Gaon put down his chopsticks with a loud clang.


"No? Don't say that you believe all that rot about Kang Yohan being the symbol of fairness and justice?!"

"Of course not," Gaon said lightly, propping his chin on his hands.

"I believe Kang Yohan is the devil himself. After all, it takes a devil to drive out another devil." Gaon smirked before standing up and putting on his coat.

"Thank you for lunch, Chief Justice." Gaon took a couple of steps away before he remembered something.

"Oh, I almost forgot. Mr Chief Justice." Gaon turned to face a gaping Min Jungho.

"Please tell Jung Sunah that I will not be Kang Yohan's weakness, I will be his strength."

Having declared war against Jung Sunah, Gaon walked away from the man who was like a father to him.

He could not forgive Min Jungho.

For Soohyun.

For Yohan.

Gaon yawned, accidentally making eye contact with the photo of Kang Yohan on the wall and almost gave himself a heart attack. He gave Judge Oh a glare when she laughed at him.

Gaon turned back to his computer and grimaced. Time travel was cool and all but redoing boring work did not make it any less boring. His eyes caught the time on the corner of the screen and remembered what happened on his first day.

“Darn it!” Gaon swore, surprising Judge Oh.

“I'm leaving first!” He rushed out of his office, almost sprinting to the front gate. He got there just in time to see the kindergarten bus ploughing through the first barricade and heading towards the kids crossing the road.

Unthinking, Gaon dashed forward to usher the children away, catching a girl as she tripped and quickly sent her towards the rest of the kids. When Gaon looked up, the bus was heading straight towards him.

A bullet shot sounded from behind him and Gaon smiled. This time it was one versus one and he was still the bigger number for Kang Yohan. He did not even flinch when Yohan made a second shot so close to him, he could almost felt it.

The bus rolled over onto its side and Gaon ran towards it before it even stopped. He pulled the driver out, rougher than necessary and pushed him to the armed guards milling around.

The bus exploded a safe distance behind him as Gaon made eye contact with Yohan. There was a flash of surprise in Yohan's eyes and sadness that was quickly hidden away.

Yohan had already returned the gun he appropriated from the guard when Gaon reached him, smiling from ear to ear.

“Thank you for saving me, Chief.”

“You did not even flinch back there. Are you suicidal?”

Gaon had been suicidal once. He knew the feeling. Now, he was anything but suicidal. The very reason for him to continue living was standing in front of him.

Gaon shrugged. “I trust that you have my back.”

“Don’t,” Yohan warned.

Gaon understood his warning. Don’t trust him. He was as likely to stab Gaon in the back as he was to save Gaon.

“See you tomorrow, Chief,” Gaon waved cheerily as he walked away, Yohan's suspicious glare burning his back.

Gaon did not say what he was thinking. That he would not mind dying for Yohan. Even if it was at Yohan's hand.

Gaon dreaded going home. He took a long way around, taking his time. He picked up a plant on the way like the first time and spent more time than necessary repotting it.

When Soohyun showed up, Gaon was brimming with nervousness.

Gaon let the conversation played out just like the first time, expecting a stab of pain in his heart every time he looked at her but there was only a dull numbness. He opened his mouth to ask her to stay for dinner and closed it back without saying anything.

He realised he had moved on.

He had held Soohyun in his arms as she died, he had cried at her tombstone, he had mourned her. What was left was just the memories of his feelings for her.

Gaon yawned theatrically. “I think I’m going to call it a night. I don't want to oversleep again. Goodnight.”

“Are you just going to leave me here?” Soohyun shouted playfully when Gaon stood up to leave.

“Yes, show yourself out.” Gaon kept his voice light, listening behind the door as Soohyun grumbled.

“I love you,” Soohyun called out before she left.

Gaon closed his eyes and made a decision. Soohyun had died the first time because of Gaon, because Gaon was too close to Yohan. He could not in good conscience repeat the same mistake. Neither could he abandon Yohan.

That night, Gaon made his way to the same tattoo parlour where he got his first tattoo, a photo of what he wanted to be tattooed on his phone.

He went to work the next day with a white bandage around his right wrist.

Gaon had just turned on his computer when Yohan pushed open the door to his office with a stormy look.

“Judge Kim, my office.”

“Yes, Chief.” Gaon stood up to follow him when he stopped and stared at the wall before raising an eyebrow. He obviously had seen his photo on the wall and having questions about the sanity of his associate judges.

Gaon managed to keep a blank face as he followed Yohan, ignoring Judge Oh's laughter behind him. He might need to consider Judge Oh as a friend. She found too much fun in making Gaon embarrassed.

As soon as Gaon closed the door behind him, he found himself being choked against the wall. His body relaxed.

A small part of his mind missed being manhandled by Yohan.

“How did you know about the bomb?” Yohan hissed, his face so close to Gaon's.

So they had found the bomb. Gaon wondered whether it was K who was tasked with the job. He was not sure that the bomb would be planted so early but apparently, the Foundation wanted insurance against their star judge.

Alas, it was dangerous for Gaon to arouse Yohan's suspicion this early in the game. He might try to get rid of Gaon.

“Bomb? What bomb?”

“Don't play stupid. The bomb behind the painting. Did you put it there?” Yohan's grip tightened.

“If I planted it, do you think I would ask you to get rid of it?” Gaon managed to choke out.

“You didn't answer me. How did you found out?” Yohan gritted out. Gaon's vision started to get spotty but Yohan let him go before he could pass out. He fell onto his knees, panting.

“I don't know. I just don't like the painting,” Gaon lied, his voice hoarse, looking up at Yohan.

There was a knock on the door before Yohan could say anything and Judge Oh peeked in. She took a look at both of them and blushed.

Gaon frowned. He imagined how they looked from her view, him on his knees, clothes rumpled and panting in front of Chief Kang. Gaon blushed.

Judge Oh pulled herself together and kept her eyes on the blank wall.

“Chief, you did not answer your phone. The Chief Justice wants to see us.”

Judge Oh might have temporarily saved Gaon from Yohan's interrogation but that did not mean that Yohan stop being suspicious of him. Throughout their meeting with the Chief Justice, Yohan kept shooting him suspicious looks, even though Gaon did not contradict him this time. A less jaded Gaon once had stood up against Yohan and sympathized with the bus driver. This Gaon had learnt his lesson.

It was not until Judge Oh nudged him that he realized he had been unconsciously rubbing his neck. It would not surprise Gaon if Yohan left marks on his neck, he would not mind it in the least.

Without the need to stalk Yohan day in and day out, added in with the fact that Gaon was avoiding both Soohyun and Min Jungho, Gaon found himself with a lot of free time.

Gaon spent this time making a timeline of what happened before and where he could change things. He circled Jang Kiyoung's name and wondered whether he should start there. Yohan got to him in time but Gaon wondered whether he should kill the rumour before it started.

Gaon laid in his bed, tugging on the bandage on his wrist, thinking about his next course of action. He touched the marks Yohan left on his neck, relishing in the dull pain when he pressed on it. He decided to watch how things went before he did anything, he did not want to attract too much attention to himself.

Yohan was already suspicious enough of him.

When Gaon saw Yohan in the white judge robe, he embarrassingly teared up. He had to turn away and wiped his eyes, much to Judge Oh's amusement.

Gaon did not know how much he missed seeing Yohan in the white robe until he saw Yohan in it again. Somehow, it made Yohan untouchable, more than human. Gaon felt something inside him shifted.

The trial proceeded as expected and Gaon basked in the sense of rightness. Sitting on Yohan's left, watching him took control of the entire courtroom with only a few words settled him. This was where Gaon was meant to be.

When Dr Jung Yongbaek was called, Gaon played his role like the last time. However, Yohan kept glancing at him, as if Yohan could tell that he did not have his heart in it, that he was only following the script.

The lights turned off and Yohan stepped down to deliver his verdict that would change the country. Gaon propped his chin on his hands, watching him fondly.

He loved watching Yohan in his element. The confidence, the charisma, the way he played the public to his whim. This was Kang Yohan's stage and he made sure everyone knew it.

Back then, Gaon had called Yohan an experienced con man. Seeing him again, with the knowledge of what drove him, Gaon saw him for who he was.

For who he could be.

Gaon smiled proudly when Yohan looked up at him this time. Yohan tilted his head in confusion before his lips twitched up and Gaon's smile turned fond.

Yohan was it, wasn’t he?

Gaon had killed and died for this man and only now he realized why.

He touched the bandage underneath his sleeve, a reminder of what he was fighting for, of what he could not live without.

Kang Yohan.

Chapter Text

Realizing that he had more than a platonic feeling and respect for Yohan was a hard pill to swallow for Gaon. For as long as Gaon had known Yohan, he had always seemed so formidable that Gaon had a hard time thinking of him as a human, much less as a sexual being. Sure, there were times that he pushed the boundary of their professional relationship but Gaon chalked that up to Kang Yohan being Kang Yohan. He must have been in serious denial to miss out on this realization.


Gaon was so deep in his emotional crisis, he had checked out entirely from the conversation with Yohan and Judge Oh. That was how he ended up agreeing to dinner with them to celebrate their first successful live court show when all he wanted was to eat a tub of ice cream for dinner and put all his non-platonic feelings for Yohan in a box and locked it up.


"Judge Kim Gaon, do you have a crush on the Chief?" Judge Oh asked suddenly as they walked back together to their office.


Her question was too close to what Gaon was thinking that he automatically denied it.


"What?! No!" Gaon quickened his pace but Judge Oh kept up with him easily even in the heels. Gaon would have broken an ankle if he tried walking in that.


"Don't lie. I saw how you were looking at him when he was giving the verdict. You were having heart eyes. I wonder if they caught that on camera…" Judge Oh cornered him against the wall, pointing a finger at his face teasingly.


"It was dark, there was no way they could get that," Gaon countered, moving around her.


"Aha! So you admitted that you were watching him."


"You were watching him too. The entire country was watching him." Gaon opened the door to their office for Judge Oh, trying to end the conversation before he said too much.


"Yeah. But I don't look at him like I want to throw him on the floor and ripped… Argh!!!" Judge Oh backed up against Gaon with a cry as soon as she stepped into the office.


"What's wrong- What the hell is that?" Gaon was not ashamed to admit he had used Judge Oh as a shield as soon as he saw what was waiting for them inside.


"I think that's a life-sized cardboard cutout of the Chief," Judge Oh mused, poking the cutout with a finger. She was not wrong. It was a cardboard cutout of Kang Yohan in his judge robe, looking intimidating despite not being made of flesh and blood.


"I could see that. What I mean is what is it doing in our office?" Gaon circled the standee hesitantly, checking for a listening device or a spy camera.


Judge Oh plucked a sticky note from the cutout's forehead and imitated Yohan's voice as she read it. "'Judge Kim and Judge Oh, a reward for your good work today, Kang Yohan.'"


Gaon exchanged a look with Judge Oh, his lips twitching.


"I shall name you Yohan 2.0," Judge Oh said solemnly, patting the cutout on its shoulder.


As Gaon laughed so hard against the cardboard cutout of his boss, he thought life was less weird before he literally blew himself up for attention.

There was no way dinner with Yohan could be anything but awkward even before the standee's appearance. And Yohan of course had to make it weirder.


"How do you like my gift? I asked the production team to make it as life-sized as possible." Yohan asked just as the appetiser was served.


Gaon promptly stuffed his mouth with food to avoid answering.


"It's very… Lifelike," Judge Oh forced out, shaking in silent laughter.


"What about you, Judge Kim? Do you think it suits your office decor? I know you have an interest in interior design."


Gaon choked on the bite he had just taken.


"It really brightens up the room. Thank you, Chief."


"I'm glad. I like to support my colleagues' interest." Yohan raised his glass for a cheer and Gaon reluctantly followed, avoiding Judge Oh's eyes. He was afraid that they would both started laughing if they made eye contact at this point.


The dinner continued much like Gaon remembered, with Yohan talking about his hobby and the way he could not taste much of his food. Gaon remembered another Yohan, eating Gaon's cooking with gusto like he had been starving. Not for food, but love.


And Gaon had so much love, for him, for Elijah, that sometimes it felt like it was bursting out of him.


So the words just came out of Gaon's mouth without his control.


"What you need is someone to cook for you with love."


"Love? Is that what you learnt as the son of a restaurant owner?"


Gaon knew that Yohan was trying to taunt him with his past, that Yohan was pushing on his sore spot to see how he would react. It worked the first time but now Gaon knew Yohan better than before.


"Yes. I do believe that love makes food tastes better. What about you, Judge Oh? Do you agree with me?"


Judge Oh was looking between them like a tennis match and she jumped when Gaon said her name. "Well… My mother is not a really good cook. But I could taste how much care and love she put into her cooking."


"Hmmm… Is that so? Then why don't you come and cook for me, Judge Kim?"


"Sure. Tomorrow after work?" Gaon's answer surprised both of them but Yohan pulled himself together faster than Gaon could take those words back.


"It's a date."

"I'm doomed," Gaon stated, burying his face in his arms as soon as he got to his office the next day.


"Don't look so gloomy, Judge Kim. You have a date, not an execution." Judge Oh patted his shoulder in amusement as she walked past him to her desk.


"It's not a date. He just wants me to cook for him." Gaon turned his head slightly to glare at Judge Oh.


"Why did you agree then?"


Gaon buried his face into his arms again and whimpered. He could not tell her that he had missed cooking for Yohan and Elijah. He missed seeing how happy they were eating his cooking. He even missed Ms Ji's cooking.


He missed his home.


So when Yohan offered him a chance to do that, well. Gaon was a weak man.

Gaon would have been happy to pretend that he was not avoiding Soohyun, he was simply too busy to spent time with her. Unfortunately, Gaon worked at the live court show, there was no pretending that he was busy when there was no live trial scheduled.


Gaon reluctantly answered Soohyun's call at the end of the day, already dreading the interrogation he could feel coming his way.




"Gaon! Are you busy?"


"No. I can talk. I was just getting ready to leave."


"Can we meet up? I'll pick you up at the court."


Gaon grimaced. "I can't. I have a plan tonight."


"Oh… Is it a date?" Soohyun's voice sounded disappointed and Gaon suppressed a twinge of guilt.


"It's not a date-"


"It's a date!" Judge Oh said loudly and Gaon threw a balled-up sticky note at her.


"I see… Well, I'll talk to you later then." Soohyun hung up before Gaon could say anything and he was left staring at his phone. He was not sure whether this was a good development or not.


"Are you ready to go?"


For a moment, Gaon thought Yohan 2.0 had come to life and was talking to him. He looked to where the cardboard cutout was standing, still inanimate and back to an amused Yohan in front of him.


"Yes. I'm the real one."


"Darn it," Gaon cursed under his breath and quickly got his things together.


"Judge Oh." Yohan nodded and left, leaving Gaon to scramble after him.


"Have fun!" She shouted after Gaon and he gave her a middle finger.

The drive to the mansion was something that Gaon did regularly, either with Yohan or alone. It was not something that Gaon thought about when he allowed himself to think about what he considered as before he died. But now, as Yohan drove up to the mansion, something inside Gaon relaxed.


He was coming home.


The mansion was still the same. Dark and gloomy, hiding the secrets of its owner. It was Gaon who had changed.


Gaon stopped in Yohan's study, seeing the memories in every corner of it. Elijah's laughter, Yohan's smile. Gaon had found happiness here once.


But the happy memories were overlaid with darker ones.


The knife, the betrayal, the blood on Yohan's palm.


Gaon had thrown away that happiness without fully knowing what he had lost.


"What are you doing?" Yohan's voice snapped Gaon's out of his memory.


"Nothing. Where's the kitchen?"


"This way."


Gaon followed Yohan to the kitchen, trailing his hand on the counter. The kitchen had always been Gaon's, there were only happy memories here.


"You can start cooking." Yohan left him with only that instruction, not even bothering to show Gaon where everything was. Not that Gaon needed it but still, it was the polite thing to do.


"Hello, butler. Did you ordered the groceries list I sent Yohan?"


"Yes, Judge Kim."


Gaon stopped rummaging in the fridge and turned to the butler, a frown on his face. He was 'Owner Gaon'. He knew it was silly to mourn that an AI no longer called him by name but this was also something else he had lost.


To avoid crying from the ridiculous notion of being forgotten by an AI, Gaon put his mind into cooking. Cooking had always calmed him down and cooking for Elijah and Yohan gave him a sense of peace that he could not replicate anywhere else.


Gaon had decided on a menu last night and sent the list of ingredients to Yohan so at least he had everything he needed. The first time he cooked here, it was so bare of anything fresh that Gaon despaired for their health.


He lost himself in prepping the ingredients, frying and stirring. It was in his blood. He had seen his parents did this when they were still alive, he had done this before he died. It was like stepping into a shoe and was surprised to find that it still fit.


"Young Master Isaac?"


Gaon froze. He did not think this through. He had forgotten how much he looked like Isaac and what would Ms Ji and Elijah thought about seeing him at the mansion. He had stupidly thought that Yohan would prepare the two of them to see Gaon, that he would not just throw someone who looked like Isaac at them without warning. In hindsight, Gaon really had too much trust in Yohan.


Taking a deep breath, Gaon turned around to face Ms Ji, ready to explain his existence to her. Thankfully, Yohan, already in casual clothes arrived just in time to save him.


"I see you've met Judge Kim."


"Yes. When you said you invited a colleague home, I did not expect to see him in the kitchen." Ms Ji was glaring daggers at Yohan and Gaon decided to busy himself with stirring the soup.


"Where did you expect me to stash him? My bedroom, perhaps?"


Yes, this was definitely a conversation Gaon need to stop before he combusted in embarrassment.


"Would you like to join us for dinner? I made a lot," Gaon offered, ignoring Yohan's glare now that it was redirected towards him.


Ms Ji looked like she was going to accept but one look at Yohan and she shook her head. "I need to be going home."


"Maybe next time then."


Ms Ji stared at him stoically before leaving Gaon and Yohan alone, the latter leaning on the counter next to Gaon and watched him cooked with an attention Gaon had seen directed towards the defendant.


"You seem at home here," Yohan commented offhandedly, his eyes sharp as he watched Gaon opened the right drawer in one try and took out the cutleries.


"A kitchen is a kitchen, no matter how big and well equipped it is," Gaon lied, pretending to open the wrong cabinet to find the plates. Yohan could probably saw through his pitiful attempt but it was the thought that counted.


Gaon turned around and found himself being caged by Yohan's body against the counter. He gripped the counter tightly and tried to control his breathing.


"What is this? Do I need to set a suicide watch for you?" Yohan raised Gaon's right hand, the bandage stark white around his wrist. Gaon's eyes widened. He had always hidden the bandage underneath his sleeve at work but he had rolled up his sleeves before cooking earlier.


"It's not what you're thinking." Gaon did not bother twisting his wrist out of Yohan's hold, Yohan would only let go of him when he pleased, not anytime before.


"Then enlighten me."


"It's a tattoo. It's not healed up yet so I need to keep it bandaged," Gaon finally relented. Gaon would not put it past Yohan to just ripped off the bandage if Gaon did not give him something. And Gaon could not let Yohan see it. Yohan would know what it was as soon as he saw it and that was not a conversation Gaon was ready to have with him.


"You're hiding something, Judge Kim," Yohan accused, staring into Gaon's eyes as if he could see the truth in them.


"What is this? Did you brought your boy toy home, Yohan?"


Yohan closed his eyes at Elijah's voice and took a step back, releasing Gaon's wrist. Gaon almost sagged in relief. He was so close to breaking and confessing all of his sins to Yohan.


"This is Judge Kim. He's a colleague of mine. Elijah, my niece."


Gaon forced himself to greet Elijah politely instead of just pulling her into a hug. He had missed her so much. "Nice to me-"


"Are you together?"




"Why is he here?"


"He's here to cook-"


"So are you in a relationship?"


"No!" Yohan repeated, complete with a foot stomp while Elijah just rolled her eyes at him. Gaon knew he had a fond smile on his face as he watched them. He could not help it. This was his family.


"Enough of your bickering. Help me set the table," Gaon cut off their bantering before it could turn ugly, passing the dishes to Yohan.


"You cannot order me in my own home." Elijah crossed her arms stubbornly and Yohan looked at the dishes he just put down on the table, only now realizing that he had followed Gaon's order automatically.


"You are going to help me if you want to eat," Gaon said sweetly, holding out the cutleries to her.


"I don't want to eat your food anyway."


"More for me then. After all, Judge Kim came here to cook for me," Yohan taunted, reaching for the cutleries. Elijah snatched them out of Gaon's hand before Yohan could take them away.


"This better be good," Elijah grumbled, almost running over Yohan with her wheelchair.


Gaon hid his smile.

It was hard to keep smiling without tearing up when they all finally sat down for dinner. Gaon remembered the first time he fed them, the pride when they liked his cookings, the sense of accomplishment when they finished everything. It was those little things that hit him the hardest when he let himself remember.


"This is not bad. You can keep him, Yohan," Elijah commented after taking a sip of the soup and Gaon smiled proudly.


"Thank you. I'm glad I have your permission," Yohan deadpanned but Gaon could see the small smile he was hiding.


Elijah found her missing manner once she was full as she forced Yohan to load the dishwasher despite Gaon's objection.


"You're a guest! He made you came here to cook, you cannot clean too."


"I offered…" Gaon tried but Elijah was unstoppable. Gaon guessed it was her way of saying thank you.


"I need to be heading home," Gaon reluctantly said after the dishwasher was loaded and the three of them were just lingering in the kitchen for no reason.


"You can stay the night in Yohan's room," Elijah offered.


"Please don't offer my bed without my permission. You only want him to cook you breakfast."


Elijah huffed but did not deny Yohan's accusation.


"I already put the leftover in the fridge. Just heat it if you're hungry. I do need to go home though. I cannot go to work tomorrow wearing the same clothes."


"You can wear Yohan's clo-" Elijah stopped at Yohan's glare. "Never mind, you probably don't want to wear old man's clothes."


"Who are you calling old man?!" Yohan yelled as Elijah quickly wheeled herself out of the kitchen. "Come on, I'll send you home."


"I can take a taxi."


"I'll be a bad date if I don't send you home."

Something was niggling in Gaon's mind as he followed Yohan to the garage, something about tonight that he should have remembered. He discreetly checked the timeline on his phone but nothing jumped out at him.


His step faltered when he saw the Corvette, the memory finally breaking through.


Lee Youngmin.


"Can we take the Corvette, Chief?" Gaon asked as Yohan walked to a Cadillac sedan.


"I did not peg you as a thrill-seeker, Judge Kim." Yohan raised an eyebrow, walking back towards Gaon.


"We've established that you don't know me that well."


Yohan snorted. "Not at all, apparently. Wait here while I get the key."


Gaon took advantage of Yohan's absence to check the route on his phone. He remembered enough from the past to know where he could catch Lee Youngmin.


It was getting the timing right that would be tricky.




Gaon's hand automatically caught the key before he looked at Yohan incredulously.


"What are you waiting for?" Yohan asked from the passenger side of the Corvette. Gaon huffed. It would serve him right if Gaon crashed his car.

"I would have driven myself if I knew that you drove like an old man," Yohan complained for the fifth time since they left the mansion. Gaon had given him the barest responses because he knew how unpredictable Yohan could be if one ignored him.


"I'm following the speed limits," Gaon quipped. He was actually driving slower than the speed limits but Yohan did not need to know that.


Yohan rolled his eyes. "Why did you even asked for the Corvette if you want to follow the speed limits?"




A yellow Porsche blazed past them and Gaon floored the accelerator. Yohan whooped in delight next to him.


As a rule, Gaon prefered motorbikes to sportscars. He loved the wind blowing past him, he loved to weave around other vehicles. But even he could not deny that the Corvette drove like a dream. The car was practically purring under his hands as he chased after the Porsche, every motion of the steering wheel translated smoothly onto its movement.


Three minutes into the chase, Gaon realized that he was toying with Lee Youngmin. He could have easily overtaken the Porsche anytime, he did not even need to push the car to its limits. There was no way the car was street legal with this kind of speed.


He glanced at Yohan and the Chief gave him a wink. Of course. This was Kang Yohan's car.


Before the game even begins, I make sure it's my victory.


His laughter mixed with Yohan's as they cornered the yellow Porsche into an empty intersection, Gaon drifted the Corvette so close to the Porsche that Lee Youngmin had no other choice but to stop.


Gaon ignored Yohan's questioning glance as he stepped out of the car, knowing without a doubt that Yohan would follow him.


"Do you have a death wish?!" Lee Youngmin yelled once he got out of his car.


Yohan smirked, taking off his watch and passing it to Gaon on his way to open the car boot.


"Ten minutes," Gaon called out, absently noticing that it was the same watch Yohan had given him in another life. Without thinking, he put it on.


"Why? Do you have a curfew?" Yohan asked, pulling his gloves on.


"Do you two want to die?!" Lee Youngmin continued yelling, coming closer to them.


"I'd just like to be home before midnight." Gaon got himself comfortable, leaning against the passenger door of the Corvette as Yohan appeared, dragging a sledgehammer.


Lee Youngmin's eyes widened in surprise. "Who are you two?"


Yohan glanced at Gaon as if looking for objection but Gaon simply gestured for him to get on with it. The smile Yohan gave him was almost crazy but Gaon found himself smiling back.


And then Yohan went to town on bashing the yellow Porsche with the sledgehammer. Gaon thought he should not be enjoying this so much but Yohan looked so happy that Gaon could not help himself.


"You two are the judges from the live show. Why are you doing this?" Lee Youngmin asked incredulously, standing between Gaon and Yohan as if he was not sure whom he should be yelling at.


"Because you are annoying my date," Yohan answered, already dropping his weapon and was now rummaging in the car.


Gaon nodded.




Gaon felt a little bit of pity towards Lee Youngmin, especially after Yohan pulled out a packet of white powder from his car. He was just so pathetic.


"That's not mine! You saw him planted it in my car!" Lee Youngmin grabbed the packet frantically from Yohan and turned to Gaon.


"I only saw our Chief took it out from your car, with only your fingerprints on it."




"I'll be keeping this." Yohan easily plucked out the packet from Lee Youngmin's fingers and pocketed it, walking towards Gaon with something close to desire in his eyes.


Gaon shivered. Must be the wind. It was a cold night.


"What do you think you are doing?"


All three of them turned at that voice, belatedly realizing a police car parked a way back. Gaon did not know why he was surprised to see Soohyun here. She was with him the first time this happened. Mostly, he was just surprised to see her.


"Nothing. We were just having a talk between friends, isn't that right, Youngmin?" Yohan said, tapping his pocket meaningfully.


"T-that's right," Lee Youngmin stammered, taking a step away from them.


"Gaon?" Soohyun turned to him, her eyes begging him not to lie to her.


"You heard them." Gaon kept his face blank, rubbing the bandage on his wrist.


"I saw with my own eyes that he was bashing the car with a sledgehammer!" Soohyun pointed at the yellow Porsche, full of disbelief.


"We had a bet and he lost. That was all to it." Yohan opened the passenger side door for Gaon, his hand on the small of Gaon's back pushing a bit when Gaon did not move.


"You can't be serious!"


"This is none of your business, fuck off!"


Gaon glared at Youngmin for his language towards Soohyun, making him shrank a bit.


"See you around, Lee Youngmin." Yohan closed the door behind Gaon, moving around to the driver side. Gaon did not look back towards Soohyun, he had no doubt she was looking at him with disappointment.


Yohan drove them away from the intersection at a more sensible speed than him and Gaon watched Soohyun in the side mirror until he could not see her anymore.


"Do you know that policewoman?" Yohan asked once they entered the city.


"She is my childhood friend."


"Not a girlfriend?"


There was a pang for the brief moment when she was but Gaon shook his head. "No."


"Will she be trouble?"


"I will make sure she won't be."




They were blanketed by a heavy silence until Gaon could not take it anymore.


"Ask me."


Yohan raised an eyebrow at him but did not deign to ask him the question.


"Ask me why I chased Lee Youngmin and let you beat up his car, darn it!"


"Why? So you can lie to me again?"


Gaon deflated, his anger leaving him.


"I can't tell you the truth."


"I know."


Gaon hung his head down, his eyes flickered to where Yohan's hand was resting on his arm. He put his fingers on Yohan's pulse and slowly calmed down, no longer on the edge of a breakdown.


"I will allow you to keep your secret. But do not ever lie to me. Do I make myself clear, Judge Kim?" Yohan asked, glancing at Gaon.


"Yes, Chief." Gaon let go of Yohan's wrist and begin taking off the watch but Yohan stopped him.


"Keep it."


There was no longer suspicion in Yohan's gaze. Instead, he was now looking at Gaon with calculation, as if he was trying to figure out how to use Gaon in his plan, how to secure Gaon's loyalty.


Gaon let him. Yohan would learn, just like Gaon had learnt. Gaon's place was by Yohan's side and he would not let anything stop him. Not even Yohan himself.

Korean schooling did not prepare you for a career as a judge, Gaon thought as he picked the lock on the front door of Jang Kiyoung's house. It did not tell you how to bribe/blackmail the secretary to the Minister of Justice nor how to get your boss out from jail after you mistakenly accused him of killing your girlfriend. It definitely did not prepare you for time travelling second chance.


The door clicked open and Gaon grinned to himself. Thankfully, Gaon had a rebellious teenage phase where he picked up all kinds of talents. Including picking locks.


Gaon got inside as silently as he could, his dark clothing blending into the darkness. He did not bother with the lights, simply relying on the moonlight shining through the window wall. He made his way into the living room and sat on the chair where Jang Kiyoung could not have missed him.


He settled in to wait.


An hour later and Gaon was well into the second chapter of a self-help book he picked up from the shelves when he heard the door opened slowly. He closed the book as the soft footsteps got closer to him, mentally running through the speech he prepared.


"Who's there?"


Gaon stood up when Jang Kiyoung appeared from the direction of the front door which Gaon had purposely left unlocked.


"Mr Jang, I'm- Whoa!" Gaon jumped back, avoiding the bat swinging towards his head. He spun around, kicking the bat out of his attacker's hand.


"Wait, Mr Jang-" Gaon did not get to finish his sentence when Jang Kiyoung rushed him, fist already flying towards Gaon's face.


As Gaon sidestepped the attack, grabbing the incoming fist and using the momentum to push Jang Kiyoung against the wall, he wondered how did he get to this point in his life.


"As I was saying…," Gaon continued, pinning Jang Kiyoung on the wall with his palm. "I'm Kim Gaon, I'm one of the associate judges for the live court show."


"You work for Kang Yohan," Jang Kiyoung supplied, finally calming down.




"Did he send you here? I told him that I'm not going to tell anyone that we had a deal."


You just told me, you idiot.


Gaon sighed and prayed for patience.


"No, he did not send me."


"Who send you here?" Jang Kiyoung's eyes narrowed suspiciously and he tried to shake off Gaon's hold. Gaon simply pressed his hand harder.


"No one sends me here. I'm here on my own accord to warn you to lay low for now. Go into hiding if you must. There are dangerous people who are going to use you against Kang Yohan. You could be in danger."


"Are you threatening me?"


"Do I look like someone who would give you a threat? I'm on your side here!"


Jang Kiyoung looked down at Gaon's hand on his sternum and Gaon quickly let him go.


"Sorry about that. You just came after me and I reacted." Gaon took a step back, rubbing the back of his neck.


"Are you sure that there are people after me?" Jang Kiyoung stepped around Gaon cautiously as if he was scared that Gaon would attack him.


"One hundred per cent. Where's your family?"


"I sent them to the countryside before the trial started as Judge Kang told me to."


Gaon nodded to himself. That sounded like Yohan. Always planning. So Gaon had to plan farther than him.


"Go find them and stay there." Gaon patted Jang Kiyoung's shoulder and picked up the book he was reading. "Mind if I borrow this? It's interesting."


Jang Kiyoung looked at the book Gaon was holding and gave him a strange look. "Sure, why not."


"Thanks. I'll just show myself out." Gaon waved awkwardly with the hand holding the book as he left Jang Kiyoung's house. That did not go as Gaon expected but it was also not a complete bust either.


"Gaon, what are you doing here?"


Gaon swore he had lost ten years off his life when Soohyun's voice came from behind him. He idly wondered whether she had a tracker on him, she always appeared when Gaon was in trouble or causing trouble.


"I came to borrow a book." Gaon turned around, smiling and holding the book out as proof.


"From Jang Kiyoung?" Soohyun's eyes narrowed and she glanced to the house Gaon just left.


"What are you doing here?" Gaon crossed his arms and turned the question back to her, a surefire way to stop the investigation.


"I suspect that the witness was bribed into changing his statement. I want to ask him a few questions."


"Who told you that?" Gaon frowned. He had told her the first time so he did not expect her to start the investigation without his input.


"Professor Min told me of his suspicion…"


Gaon huffed. Min Jungho just would not stop. Gaon had wanted to let him go because he was manipulated by Jung Sunah but if he kept doing this, Gaon might need to handle him.


"Gaon, if you know anything about this, you can tell me." Soohyun touched his arms and Gaon had to fight the instinct to knock her hand off.


"Jang Kiyoung had a change of heart. There is nothing more to it," Gaon recited firmly.






They stared at each other in silence, Soohyun knew he was lying to her but was also unwilling to call him out on it. Finally, she looked away with a sigh.


"You've changed since you started working for Kang Yohan. You didn't even pick up my phone calls anymore. And last night, you were with Kang Yohan when you told me that you had a date."


"I am busy. You know how it is. New job, new boss. I need to work hard to impress the Chief."


"Is that why you're here? Impressing the boss?" Soohyun gestured towards Jang Kiyoung's house with her chin.


Gaon suppressed a groan. Soohyun was like a dog with a bone when she found something suspicious.


"Seriously, Soohyun. It's nothing like that. And you know that Professor Min doesn't like Kang Yohan. He's just sending you on a wild goose chase. Don't waste your time with this, okay?" Gaon patted her shoulder, trying to sound reassuring.


Soohyun still looked sceptical but then her phone rang, saving Gaon from further interrogation.


"I got to go. Will you be okay getting home?" Soohyun asked him after a brief conversation on the phone.


Gaon rolled his eyes. "I'm an adult. I'm pretty sure I can get home myself."


Soohyun ran off with a wave and Gaon waited until she was out of sight before turning around. He knew someone was watching him the entire time he was talking with Soohyun and he was right.


It was only K though.


Gaon did not have many conversations with K but Gaon knew him as Yohan's right-hand man. Yohan trusted K and that was enough for Gaon.


Gaon smiled at him before he remembered.


Gaon was not supposed to know K yet.


Well, darn it.


Gaon turned around and walked away as if he did not just smile at a complete stranger in the dark alleyway.


Kang Yohan definitely would hear about this.


Gaon was in so much trouble.

True to Gaon's prediction, he was summoned to Yohan's office the next morning. This request came in the form of a sticky note on Yohan 2.0's forehead that had somehow migrated to Gaon's side of the office. As a method of communication, this was not efficient but at least they had an excuse as to why they had a life-sized cardboard cutout of their boss in their office.


"Did Yohan 2.0 came to life and walked here last night?" Gaon asked Judge Oh with a raised eyebrow.


"I moved him there. I was trying to sleep and he was just there…" Judge Oh shivered. "I like the Chief but really… There is no way I could sleep with him staring at me."


Gaon tried not to laugh. He had slept with the real Yohan creepily staring at him. He wondered what that said about him.


"Why did you spend the night here anyway? We don't have an upcoming trial."


"I was checking up on one of my old cases. We put a kid in the witness protection program a few years back. He wants to return to his previous identity so…" Judge Oh trailed off when she noticed the absent look on Gaon's face. "Judge Kim, are you okay?"


"Yeah." Gaon smiled at Judge Oh. "Yohan 1.0 wants to see me. Wish me luck!" Gaon picked the sticky note off and headed towards Yohan's office, ignoring Judge Oh's "Give him a good one!" cheer. He did not know what Judge Oh thought he was doing in Yohan's office and he did not want to know.


Gaon took a deep breath and knocked politely on the door, waiting for permission before he entered. He was already in hot water so he decided to tread carefully from here on out.


"Chief, you wanted to see me?"


"Ah. Yes, Judge Kim. I heard you went to see Jang Kiyoung yesterday." Yohan leaned back on his chair, linking his fingers in front of him. Gaon's eyes flickered to the bare stretch of the wall behind him and suppressed a smile. Yohan still had not replaced the painting despite the rearrangement of his office.




They stared at each other across the desk, waiting for the other to break first. This was a battle Gaon was doomed to lose.


"I was worried about him. He came out and changed his statement against his employer. I don't think that bode well for his job."


"Is that so?" Yohan asked, his voice steady and controlled.


"He got fired. Can you believe that? I don't think it's fair that he is being punished for doing the right thing." Gaon put his palms on the desk, leaning over it.


"The world is not fair, Judge Kim." Yohan reached out and fixed Gaon's tie absentmindedly.


Gaon gulped and tried to find his train of thoughts again. "I know that. But at least, we can try to help."


"What are you suggesting?"


Gaon grinned. He knew Yohan was only humouring him now, Yohan did not think that whatever Gaon was planning would work.


Gaon lived to surprise Yohan.


So he called in Judge Oh.


Judge Oh's eyes were twinkling mischievously when she entered the Chief Judge's office. She actually looked a bit disappointed when she saw Gaon and Yohan not doing anything that could lead to misunderstanding.


Gaon explained the problem to her while Yohan pretended to stare out of the window wall. Gaon knew this as he had caught Yohan's eyes in the reflection a few times, each time sending a shiver down his spine.


"We need something in place to protect the witnesses from losing their job if they speak out." Gaon leaned against Yohan's desk, crossing his legs.


"What about something resembling the witness protection program?" Judge Oh offered after a moment of silence that Gaon spent staring at Yohan's back.


"Only instead of protection, we're offering support," Gaon continued, giving Judge Oh a high five.


"Good job."


Gaon smirked at the pleased look on Yohan's face. He had given Yohan a perfect excuse to bribe people and made it legal. And if Yohan managed to get the Minister of Justice to actually fund the program, well, it did not hurt anyone.


Judge Oh left them soon afterwards, excited to get started on the new project. Gaon watched her proudly, he knew she had it in her to be more than just a female representative on the bench.


"You played her well."


Yohan's voice stopped Gaon from opening the door. He sighed and hang his head. It was a tall order to expect Yohan not to notice the way Gaon directed the conversation with Judge Oh earlier. But Gaon, the fool that he was, had hope.


"She has potential. It will be a mistake to underestimate her," Gaon said, glancing at Yohan over his shoulder. He waited for Yohan to respond but the Chief merely tilted his head, looking amused. That was as much as recognition Gaon expected from Yohan.

Gaon almost regretted his action when he was swamped with work for the program for the entire week. Yohan let Judge Oh took the lead for the program and he sat back, watching smugly as Judge Oh worked Gaon to the bone.


Gaon knew Yohan was meeting the higher-ups on the sly, arranging the groundwork for when the proposal for the program was finally presented. He also knew that Min Jungho got wind of it and was actively working against Yohan.


Gaon doubted Min Jungho would get anywhere but he kept an eye on the Chief Justice anyway.


Less than two weeks after Gaon was summoned to Yohan's office, the witness support program was launched. Gaon had no idea how Yohan got it approved so fast but with the way the president was applauding Yohan's ingenuity, Gaon had a feeling the Social Responsibility Foundation had a hand in it.


Before he knew it, he was standing next to Yohan, being interviewed by the reporters outside the Supreme Court. Judge Oh gave him a wink behind Yohan's back and he smiled at her. He got what he wanted anyway.


"Judge Kang, can you explain more about the witness support program?"


"Oftentimes, a judge's work ended once the verdict was given. We have the Correctional Service to handle the defendant afterwards but what about the witnesses? Unlike the victims who received compensation, the witnesses are expected to put themselves out there without getting anything back. We have a witness protection program who those who were in danger of losing their lives. But what about those who lost their livelihood for coming forward? You could die from starvation just like you could die from a bullet. This is what the witness support program is all about. We're giving monetary help to witnesses who face negative repercussions from their brave act. Not only that we're lessening their burden, but we're also hoping that this would encourage more people to come forward."


"Is the government funding the program?"


"Yes, the Ministry of Justice has given us a budget and I will add to it from my personal account."


Gaon hid a smile. He wanted to see Minister Cha's face when she realized she was actually funding Yohan's bribing habit.


"What inspired you to start this program?"


"I can't take the credit for this. It actually thanks to Judge Kim who brought this problem to my attention. He found out that Jang Kiyoung, a witness from the JU chemicals case had lost his job and was almost losing his house. Judge Oh then suggested something resembling the witness protection program and we worked on it together. Judge Oh was actually the one heading the program."


Yohan turned to face Judge Oh, clapping and the reporters followed his lead. She took the attention in stride, handling the reporters like she was born to it.


Yohan inclined his head to Gaon, smiling smugly. Gaon nodded.


They got her.

That weekend, Gaon decided to take a little trip to Daanwan-Gu, Ansan . To a vineyard to be exact. He had been looking forward to this.


Gaon drove his new motorbike as close as possible to the vineyard, keeping his helmet as he watched Doh Youngchun worked peacefully. Every cell in his body wanted to rip that peacefulness from the criminal that had destroyed his family.


He could do it too. There was no Soohyun or Yohan to stop him this time. He already had blood on his hand, what was one more person.


Gaon fingered the knife in his pocket, calculating his chances. He could just rode up to him, slit off Doh Youngchun's throat and sped up away. No one would ever suspect him, one of the beloved judges in the country. Yohan would be suspicious but even with proof, Gaon knew Yohan would keep his silence. And if Gaon's plan worked, there was no need for Doh Youngchun for them to bury Minister Cha.


He kicked off the motorbike's kickstand, his decision firmed in his mind.


Just then, a black BMW sedan drove up next to him, heading to the vineyard. Gaon stopped and watched as a man in suit stepped out of the car.


"Well, well, well. What do we have here?" Gaon grinned and took out his phone to record what was happening.


"Secretary Kim, how many people are paying you?" Gaon mused as the man received a briefcase full of cash from Doh Youngchun. He even opened it to check the amount and from where Gaon was standing, he got everything on camera.


Gaon left before the secretary, deciding to keep his cards close to his chest for now. He got both secretary Kim and Doh Youngchun in his hands and he did not even need to waste Yohan's money.


Gaon sped up his motorbike back to Seoul, he had a charity fashion show to attend.

In another life, Gaon had rejected Yohan's invitation to the charity fashion show just so that he could investigate Yohan's past. This time, Gaon was more than happy to accept it.


Gaon got back home just in time to receive the clothes Yohan send through the courier. It was the same outfit he wore last time and Gaon mused over how something just never changed.


It was a bit disappointing to be dressing up alone in his house and Gaon mourned the fact that he might never get to live in the mansion again. He stood in front of the mirror, fixing the bowtie and his eyes caught his wrist's reflection.


Gaon touched his right wrist reverently, the tattoo had healed up nicely and was better than Gaon expected. Unlike the bird on his back, the tattoo on Gaon's wrist was more precise and delicate, a realism instead of romanticism.


Unfortunately, Gaon could not afford to flaunt his new tattoo to all and sundry so he put Yohan's watch over it. The band was not wide enough to cover the entirety of the tattoo but it was enough to stop anyone from guessing correctly.


Putting on the white coat, Gaon gave himself a once over. He was as ready as he ever was.

When Yohan came to pick him up, Gaon was already waiting in front of his house.


"You cleaned up nice," Yohan complimented, unnecessarily brushing down the white coat over Gaon's chest, Gaon unconsciously leaning into the touch.


"Unlike some people, I'm still young," Gaon quipped and his smile froze. He had said that once to another Yohan, another time, another place.


Yohan eyed him and tugged on his bowtie sharply. "Are you with me, Judge Kim?"


Gaon snapped out of the memory and focused on the Yohan in front of him."Yes, Chief."


They picked up Judge Oh on their way to the venue and Gaon teased her about how beautiful she was in the dress. He was a bit jealous that she got to keep the dress but he was wearing Yohan's clothes so he thought he got the better end of that deal.


When they arrived at the venue, Gaon hung back a little as Yohan escorted Judge Oh down the red carpet. He almost jumped when he felt Yohan's hand on the small of his back, pushing him along.


Even when Judge Oh separated from them for a photo session, Yohan kept his hand on Gaon. He was sending an obvious signal to anyone who bothered looking, they might have arrived as a group but Gaon was his date for the night.


Gaon forced a smile as he posed for photos next to Yohan. There went his plan to remain out of the spotlight.


Gaon turned to Yohan and found the older man was already watching him, Gaon's smile became genuine when Yohan winked at him.


Unlike K, Gaon did not belong in the shadow of Kang Yohan, he belong in the limelight by Yohan's side.


And if Gaon's smile afterwards was a little proud, a little challenging, only he knew why.


Yohan still had his left hand on Gaon's back as they entered the hall, Judge Oh holding onto his right hand. And then he promptly ditched them to Jung Sunah to hunt down Minister Cha.


"Welcome. I'm Jung Sunah from the Social Responsibility Foundation. I'm glad that I finally got the chance to meet you face-to-face, Judge Kim," Jung Sunah said sweetly.


"I'm afraid I cannot say the same about you." Gaon hated the way Jung Sunah looked at him. It was the same look she had when she came to dinner at the mansion. As if Gaon was a misbehaving puppy that she had put in Yohan's path.


"You are quite feisty for a mere associate judge."


"You are quite ambitious for a mere…" Gaon paused, smirked. "…secretary."


Her face darkened and Gaon knew she heard what he was not saying. That Gaon knew who she was.


Jung Sunah's smile was a bit strained when she turned to Judge Oh. "Judge Oh, you're looking beautiful tonight."


Judge Oh, obviously noticing Gaon's hostile tone merely smiled at her, wrapping her hands around Gaon's arm.


"Let me introduce you two to Chairman Seo."


Gaon gave a pat on Judge Oh's hand as they followed Jung Sunah to the seating area. He did not expect her loyalty but he appreciated it all the same.


Gaon had only met Chairman Seo Jeonghak once before his unfortunate demise but even then, Gaon's impression of him was a sleazy old man. That was still the same.


He caught the look of disgust on Jung Sunah's face, thinking that maybe Yohan was right that she had a hand in Seo Jeonghak's death. Not that Gaon mourned his death but it did put a damper in Yohan's plan.


Gaon was considering ways to deal with the chairman when he noticed that Judge Oh was getting increasingly uncomfortable. When Seo Jeonghak tried to put his hand on Judge Oh's shoulder, Gaon caught his wrist.


"If I were you, I would not put my hand there," Gaon hissed, coming between Seo Jeonghak and Judge Oh.


"Judge Kim…" Judge Oh clung to Gaon's free hand.


Gaon's entire body froze when someone held the back of his neck and promptly relaxed when he heard Yohan's voice.


"Excuse me, I need to talk with my associate judges."


Yohan's grip on his nape was bordering on painful and Gaon knew he had to back off. Neither he nor Yohan was ready to come toe to toe with the foundation yet, no matter how much they annoyed Gaon.


Gaon let Yohan tugged him away, Judge Oh following worriedly behind them.


"Chief-" she started once they were away from the crowd but Yohan stopped her with a hand.


"Calm yourself," Yohan ordered. Gaon searched blindly for Yohan's wrist, grounding himself on Yohan's strong pulse.


"Can I trust you not to cause trouble if I leave you alone?"


"I'm not a pet."


Yohan rolled his eyes. "It'll be easier if I could put you on a leash. Behave."


Gaon opened his mouth and closed it again without saying anything when the music started playing.


"May I have this dance?" Yohan asked, offering his free hand to Judge Oh.


Judge Oh turned to look at Gaon, asking his permission to dance with Yohan with her eyes. Gaon made a face at her.


"Keep your hand above the waist," Gaon warned, letting go of Yohan's wrist reluctantly. Yohan brushed his hand against Gaon, giving him a gentle squeeze.


"Yes, Judge Kim." Judge Oh saluted him playfully as she took Yohan's hand.


"I was not talking to you," Gaon snorted, watching Yohan glided onto the dance floor, Judge Oh following awkwardly behind him.


Gaon chuckled to himself seeing the way Yohan was trying to teach Judge Oh how to dance, she was giving Gaon a panicked look every time their eyes met.


"They looked good together, don't they?"


Gaon's entire body stiffened at that voice. He considered whether she would go away if Gaon pretended not to hear her.


"Would you like to dance?" Jung Sunah persisted, offering Gaon her hand.


"I don't know how to dance," Gaon gritted out, not sparing her a glance.


"I could teach you."


"I'd rather learn from the devil." Gaon nudged her hand down, smiling sweetly.

"May I cut in?"


"Sure!" Judge Oh said excitedly, leaving Gaon and Yohan on the dancefloor staring at her.


Yohan chuckled and offered his hand to Gaon, nodding his head for Gaon to take it.


"I'll lead, shall I?"


"Oh thank God. I don't know how to dance," Gaon sighed gratefully, taking Yohan's hand, letting him adjust Gaon's position as he pleased. The music changed and Yohan pulled Gaon closer.


"And yet you still ask for a dance," Yohan continued as they swayed slowly in place.


"I just did not want to dance with Jung Sunah."


"Ah. The lesser of two evil, am I?"


Gaon gave him a sweet smile. They swayed together slowly for a moment before Yohan leaned in to whisper in Gaon's ear. "I think someone is jealous that I'm dancing with you."


Yohan spun him around and Gaon found himself looking at Jung Sunah. She was glaring at him so Gaon winked at her.


"I think she is more jealous of me for dancing with you."


"You've taken off the bandage," Yohan noted, gesturing toward Gaon's wrist with his chin.


"I had forgotten about it during the busy week. Judge Oh was quite the slave driver."


Yohan chuckled. "You're not what I expected, Judge Kim."


"What did you expect?" Gaon asked, genuinely curious.


"Someone who believes in the system, who believes that justice is real," Yohan said, his voice mocking.


"I was that person," Gaon said, thinking of him in another life.


"What happened to him?"


"He died."

Gaon drove the car on their way home as Yohan had been drinking during the charity show. Gaon did not think Yohan was more than tipsy but he did not fight it when Gaon took the car keys. They dropped Judge Oh first, she gave them a worried look before she got out. Even she could tell that there was a weird atmosphere between Gaon and Yohan.


Gaon did not like the silence between them but he did not know how to bring Yohan out of it. Something Gaon said during their dance had triggered Yohan and he had been stewing in it during the car ride.


Gaon was not used to silent treatment from Yohan. Yohan was loud, mercurial and outright manic at times but silence usually meant something was seriously wrong.


Gaon stopped the car in front of the mansion and Yohan got out, Gaon following him after turning off the car engine. Gaon tried to give the car key back to him and call a taxi to get back home but he waved Gaon off.


"You can take the car for the night. Just pick me up for work tomorrow."


"Yes, Chief. Goodnight." Yohan nodded, opening the front door as Gaon turned back to the car.


There was a flash of light from the woods surrounding the mansion and something hit Gaon on the stomach. He automatically pressed his hand on it and his fingers touched something warm and wet.


"Judge Kim?" Yohan called and Gaon turned around slowly, lifting his hand into the light coming from the opened door. It was covered in blood.


"Chief… I don't think I can go to work tomorrow."


From the way the blood was draining from Yohan's face, Gaon knew he was in serious trouble.


"Kim Gaon!!!" Yohan was reaching for him. And like the last time, Gaon wanted to touch him again but his legs buckled under him, sending him onto the ground.


Ah… Am I dying again?


I hope this would not reset my progress.


I will be very annoyed if I have to start over at the beginning again.

Chapter Text

"I'm not dead," Gaon groaned. His eyelids felt like they were stuck together with superglue and his entire body ached something terrible. Death did not felt this uncomfortable.

"Don't sound so disappointed. How are you feeling?"

Gaon recognized Yohan's voice from the foot of his bed and his entire body relaxed. Like a plant seeking out the sunlight, all of Gaon's senses turned to Yohan as he approached Gaon's bedside.

"Like I've been in an explosion." Gaon forced opened an eye grudgingly, his need to make sure Yohan was okay outweighed his desire to go back to sleep. Or unconsciousness. Gaon would welcome either one right now. "You're not hurt…" Gaon lifted one hand despite the twinge of pain and traced a finger on Yohan's forehead. "You were hurt."

"You were the one who got shot," Yohan pointed out, raising an eyebrow.

"Ah…" That was right. He got shot this time. Now that Yohan had mentioned that, he could feel how all the pain seemed centred in his abdomen. Moving was a bad idea as Gaon had discovered the hard way.

He groaned.

"I wouldn't push it if I were you," Yohan said, walking out of the room nonchalantly.

Gaon watched Yohan's retreating back until the door closed behind him and only then Gaon took stock of the surrounding.

It was his bedroom, with all the dust sheets still covering the furniture. Gaon smiled and pulled the blanket higher. Sure, he might be hooked up to a heart rate monitor and there was an IV line attached to the back of his hand but he was home.

Gaon's last thought before he fell asleep was maybe he should send Jung Sunah a flower basket to thank her for shooting him.

Killing people with kindness was definitely Ms Ji's motto in life, Gaon decided after taking another bite of the porridge she had brought for him. It was black and bitter and full of nutrition. Gaon thought some poisons tasted better than it.

"I see you've finished eating," Yohan said, entering his room without knocking. He headed straight to the chaise lounge, reclining on it with his legs crossed.

Gaon ignored him, taking huge gulps of water to try to wash away the taste in his mouth.

"Will you tell me who has enough grudge against you that they wanted to put a bullet in you?" Yohan asked, all his intention on Gaon.

Gaon put the glass down and considered the question. Yohan had phrased it in a way that allowed Gaon a way out. He knew he could just say 'no' and Yohan would drop the question. But Gaon was tired of hiding things from Yohan. So he put down a card on the table.

"Jung Sunah."

Yohan raised an eyebrow. "Seo Junghak's secretary? Isn't a bit too much to shoot you just for refusing a dance with her?"

"I refused more than just a dance with her," Gaon said, taking a deep breath. This would not go down well with Yohan. "You don't think it's a mere coincidence that I was selected to be your associate judge, do you? I, a newly appointed judge who is the split image of your brother, Isaac."

Yohan moved before Gaon could continue, crouching over Gaon on the bed, his hand wrapped around Gaon's neck. "How did you know about Isaac?!"

"She put me next to you… To be your Judas… Your weakness… I refused to play her game…" Gaon said, his voice mingled with the beeping of the heart rate monitor.

Yohan's hand tightened around his neck and Gaon's breath hitched. "Why should I believe you? What is stopping me from killing you right now, right here?"

"You told me to never lie to you… I'm more useful to you alive than dead…" Gaon choked out. He did not doubt that Yohan could kill him and Gaon would not stop him. After all, Gaon had killed Yohan once, it was only fair for Yohan to take a shot at him. Even now with Yohan's hand cutting off his air, Gaon believed him. Because despite the anger on Yohan's voice, he was careful not to put any pressure on Gaon's wound and his eyes were full of hurt.

Yohan looked at Gaon's hand around his wrist and his eyes widened. Gaon's tattoo that he had taken care to hide was there and side by side, there was no mistaking it, it was identical to the cross hanging on Yohan's wrist.

Yohan jumped away from Gaon as if he was burned, so many emotions flashing through his eyes that Gaon could not tell what he was feeling right now.

"Chief…" Gaon reached out and Yohan looked at his hand like it was a snake. Before Gaon could say anything else, Yohan left the room, the door slamming shut behind him.

"Did you fight with Yohan?"

Elijah's voice snapped Gaon from his contemplation of the tattoo on his wrist. Gaon never asked Yohan what the cross meant to him but Gaon had caught the look on Yohan's face when he touched it. Sometimes, Gaon found himself hypnotized by the cross swinging when Yohan moved his hand. For Gaon, there was nothing that symbolized Yohan more than the cross.

Gaon put his right hand under the blanket, hiding it from Elijah. "Elijah? Why are you still awake?"

"Yohan is not home. He rushed out earlier after talking to you and he's still not home."

Gaon remembered another time when Yohan had spent the night away from the mansion.

I was with a rough lady. Do you want to hear all about it? She grabbed me by the hair and kissed-

"Maybe he's with his girlfriend," Gaon said in a tight voice.

"But you're here."

"Eli- Elijah! Yohan and I are not together!"

"Are you that stupid or had Yohan been secretly dating you without your knowledge?"

Gaon had a light bulb moment at her words. Suddenly, he was seeing the events from the past three weeks in a new light. The small touches, the way Yohan looked at him. In Gaon's defence, it was not that different from before his death but he did not want to think about what that meant. That way laid madness and it would be hard to explain to Elijah if he started crying.

"Both," Gaon said, rubbing his face to hide the growing smile.

"Wow. You two are certainly made for each other." Elijah sighed. "You didn't see how he looked after you got shot." She avoided Gaon's eyes, hugging her teddy bear tighter.


"Murderous. Like if you weren't bleeding to death in his arms, he would go hunt the shooter himself."

That sounded like Yohan. He was terrible at comforting people but Gaon could always rely on him to get revenge.

"Get rid of that creepy smile on your face," Elijah said, scowling.

Gaon tried to keep a blank face but his lips kept twitching up. Finally, he gave up and changed the topic. "So what do you want to do while we wait for Yohan?"

Gaon tried to stay awake with Elijah but his medicine kicked in and he fell asleep in the middle of their fifth card game. Gaon did not know when did Elijah left but he woke up with an ace of spade card stuck on his forehead.

And a Kang Yohan sitting on the bed next to him, building a card tower on Gaon's bedside table.

"You're awake," Yohan said, placing the two last cards on his tower.

"Good morning." Gaon pulled the card off his forehead and offered it to Yohan.

Yohan took it, smirking. "The death card. Are you my ace, Judge Kim?" Yohan asked, lifting Gaon's chin with the card. "Jung Sunah seems to think you were hers."

"You met her?"

"I received an invitation. It'll be rude to refuse, don't you think so?"

"I don't think you care about being rude. I think you thrive on being rude and getting away with it. But meeting Jung Sunah alone was stupid and you know it."

Yohan shrugged. "I'll admit, I was curious. Why would she go so far as to plant you next to me and then shoot you in front of me? What is her plan?" Yohan flipped the card in his hand. "And it turned out I already knew her a long time ago. Right here in this mansion. But you already knew all this, don't you?"

"Yes," Gaon answered.

"But you were not supposed to know that. Neither were you supposed to go against her from the first time you met me. That was not a part of her plan. And she had made it very clear that she is willing to get rid of you in any way possible."

"I figured that out myself when she put a bullet in me," Gaon said, pressing a hand on his abdomen.

"What is it that you want that you'll risk your life, Judge Kim?"

"I want to be on the winning side. Your side. No matter how many laws I need to break, I'll stay by your side to the end."

Once upon a time, Yohan put his hand on Gaon's nape, asking Gaon to choose between him and Soohyun. Back then, Gaon had lost himself in Kang Yohan's goal and it scared him. It scared him enough that he chose Soohyun over Yohan and ended up losing both of the people he loved.

This time Gaon put his right hand on Yohan's nape, forcing Yohan to kneel on the bed next to him, a hairbreadth space between their faces. Looking into Yohan's eyes, his voice was steady as he said, "I choose you."

Yohan wrapped his hand around Gaon's, his thumb brushing on the tattoo and Gaon expected to be pushed away.

"So be it," Yohan said, closing his eyes and leaned in.

With Yohan's thumb on Gaon's tattoo and Gaon's on Yohan's pulse, they shared their first kiss.

It was soft and gentle and sweet, nothing at all like Gaon had imagined. When Gaon thought about kissing Yohan, probably when he finally lost his mind from the time travel and Yohan, always Yohan, he imagined it to be rough and explosive, like many of their interactions. Gaon did not know that Yohan was capable of this much gentleness, did not expected this much from himself either.

When they broke apart, Gaon was crying. Yohan cupped his face and leaned their forehead together.

"Am I that much of a bad kisser that I made you cry?" Yohan teased, wiping the tears away.

"No… I'm just… Overwhelmed," Gaon said.

"Will you share your pain with me?"

Gaon gave him a sad smile, still holding onto Yohan's nape. "One day. One day I'll tell you everything."

Yohan pressed his lips on Gaon's tattoo.

At that moment, Gaon knew.

One day, Yohan would know everything. And he would stay.

That was his promise.

"What was your plan if I refuse you?" Yohan asked suddenly, startling Gaon. He had been curled up next to Gaon, holding onto Gaon's right wrist, his robe on the floor, the scar on his back exposed for Gaon to see. He had told Gaon about the church fire and it took a lot out of him. It was hard to listen to even for Gaon who was hearing it for the second time.

Gaon gently caressed Yohan's scar, thinking. "I'll keep doing what I was doing. Working around your plan, taking out obstacles before you even see them."

"So basically, you don't have a plan," Yohan said, his lips curling up against Gaon's inner wrist.

"Isn't that what's you are here for? You're the brain in this relationship, Chief. I'm just the pretty face."

"You are pretty," Yohan said and Gaon just had to kiss him for that. Gaon always believed in positive reinforcement.

The door opened without warning and Yohan walked in, already dressed for work. "I've warned off Ms Ji from cooking for you."

Gaon blinked groggily for a moment before his brain came online. "Thank you," Gaon said with relief, pushing himself into a sitting position. "Come here," Gaon called, making grabby hands at Yohan.

Yohan approached him warily and Gaon pulled him down into a kiss. "Are you going to kiss me every time I do something nice for you?" Yohan asked, a small smile on his lips.

"You caught on fast." Gaon's smile turned contemplative. "About Lee Youngmin's trial..."

Yohan sighed. "I can only postpone the trial for a week at most so you better healed up enough to be on the bench."

"Promise. I will do nothing but stay in bed for the entire week."

And that was how Gaon's week of mind-numbing boredom started.

Yohan strode into Gaon's bedroom without knocking again, Gaon's phone in his hand. "You need to call off your guard dog," he said without a preamble.

"What guard dog?" Gaon asked, putting down the book he was reading. He had managed to cajole Elijah into bringing books for him before he went mad from boredom. Alas, the book she brought could probably send him into madness anyway with their dry languages and dead authors.

"Lieutenant Yoon Soohyun. She had been coming to the court looking for you."

"She must have been worried because she couldn't contact me." Gaon reached for the phone but Yohan flipped it away.

"I don't share." That statement came out of nowhere that it took Gaon to understand what Yohan was talking about.

"Me neither," Gaon replied, biting his lips to stop himself from grinning.

Gaon waited until Yohan left the room before calling Soohyun. She picked up on the first ring.

"Hey, Gaon!"

"My ear, Soohyun," Gaon complained playfully.

"Sorry," she said sheepishly. "Where are you? You didn't answer your phone and you were not at home or the court. I thought you were dead in a ditch somewhere."

"You're right. I'm dead. You are talking to my ghost right now." Gaon laughed at his own joke.

"Don't even joke about that, Kim Gaon. Where are you?"

"I'm just taking a vacation," Gaon lied.

"Right before an important trial?"

"It's an easy case."

Soohyun sighed on the other end of the line. "Are you sure you're okay?"

"I'm better than okay," Gaon answered honestly as Yohan appeared in front of his door, carrying two instant meals.

"Take this," Elijah said, pushing a box into Gaon's arms. He had no choice but to take it, especially with that look in Elijah's eyes.

"What is this?" Gaon asked, opening the box warily.

"It's a bulletproof vest."

"Are you worried about me?" Gaon smiled.

"I just don't want you to die. Yohan would be impossible to live with and I still need him as a guardian for the next four years," Elijah huffed, heading to the elevator.

"Thank you, Elijah," Gaon called out just as Yohan appeared, carrying both his briefcase and Gaon's backpack.

"I see she finally gave you the vest."

"You know about this?"

Yohan's lips twitched up. "I received a bill of almost one million won for it so yes, I know."

Gaon almost dropped the vest in surprise. "I cannot take this."

"I dare you to give it back to her."

Gaon sighed.

"What are you waiting for? Put it on," Yohan said.

"Now? We're still at home."

"You were shot in front of the mansion," Yohan pointed out. "Do you need help to put it on?"


As it turned out, Gaon did need help putting it on. And Yohan enjoyed dressing Gaon up far too much that they were almost late to work.

It took Gaon ten minutes into Lee Youngmin's trial to regret his decision not to take his pain medication. Gaon knew how long the trial would take from his past life but when he was sitting on the bench, pretending that he did not have a hole in his abdomen that was throbbing with pain, it felt like an eternity.

Judge Oh, the only other person in the court who knew about Gaon's injury, kept giving him worried looks and Gaon tried to smile reassuring at her. She just looked more worried every time Gaon did that.

Meanwhile, Yohan, the man who spent the night in Gaon's bed did not spare him a single glance throughout the trial. But Gaon could tell that Yohan was rushing it. Gaon had watched this trial once with Yohan in full showman mode and knew the differences.

By the end of the trial where Yohan trapped the prosecutor into modifying the indictment into habitual assault, Gaon was pale and sweating. Only his bulletproof vest underneath the judge robe was keeping him from slouching in his seat.

When the lights and cameras were finally turned off, Yohan grabbed his hand, squeezing gently. "Can you make it to my office?"

Gaon wanted to groan and lay on the floor but he could never say no to Yohan. It was a character flaw, Gaon decided as he nodded and forced himself to follow the Chief.

The hallway to Yohan's office had never felt this long and Gaon gritted his teeth with every step. When Yohan closed the door behind him, Gaon sagged against the bookshelves and would have ended up on the floor if it wasn't for Yohan. Yohan half carried, half dragged Gaon across the room, pushing him into Yohan's chair behind the desk.

"Take this," Yohan ordered, giving Gaon his pills. Gaon was never so happy to take his medicine, swallowing them dry as Yohan was taking too long to open the water bottle for him.

"Let's not do this again," Gaon finally managed, his eyes closed, leaning back on Yohan's chair.

Yohan raised an eyebrow, leaning on the desk next to Gaon. "Getting shot? I agree. Try not to taunt anyone who has displayed a murderous tendency, will you?"

Gaon thought about the flower basket of tansies with a thank you note that he had ordered to be delivered to Jung Sunah right on time for the live show and decided what Yohan didn't know would not hurt him.

"What did you do?" Yohan asked with fond resignation, rubbing his temples. Gaon was feeling a bit insulted, he did not cause enough trouble to warrant that tone.

"It's better if you don't know about it, " Gaon said.

"You're bad for my health, Judge Kim."

"Don't blame me for your old age, Chief."

"I'll show you old man." Yohan spun the chair around, caging Gaon with both hands on the desk, smirking that devilish smile that Gaon loved.

With his white robe covering Gaon's black one and his hand on the back of Gaon's neck, Yohan kissed him like a hunter and Gaon his prey.

That day Gaon discovered something new about himself. He would never see the white judge robe the same way ever again.

The next live court show would be awkward.