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Chapter Text

Busan, South Korea.
325 km from Seoul, 5 PM.

Silence reigned in that particular jet, but Vernon and Hoshi's voices broke it now and then, just to see how the two agents were on the other side of the jet. There were four men and a woman inside that luxury cubicle - as Joshua quickly called it - and only one of them had no idea what was about to happen.
And it was good that he still didn't know, or else everyone would have problems with S.Coups when they landed in Seoul.

“I ordered it with ice! Are you deaf?!”, ChungHo said sharply, throwing the glass with the amber liquid on the tray and soiling the Chinese man's shirt.

“I apologize, Sir.”, Jun bowed even though against his will and bit his tongue not to say what he shouldn't have, “That won't happen again.”

“I hope not”, ChungHo gave him a disdainful look and snapped his fingers, “Come on, get out of here!”

The Chinese obeyed and strode to the end of the jet, where the small pantry and a door were that separated the cockpit from the rest of the jet. It was possible to see how irritated he was only by the cracked jaw and his fisted hands. Joshua, seeing that scene, bit his lip, containing a laugh.

“He'll see just where I'm going to put this ice!”, Jun muttered under his breath, throwing the tray on the counter, “Joshua, this is not funny! I am really angry!”

“I know that!”, Joshua squeezed his friend's shoulders, trying to relax him for a moment, “But be calm, in a few minutes you can punch his nose and do whatever you want with this ice.”

“I have a cooler on the speedboat if it makes you feel better, Jun”, Vernon's sarcastic voice sounded again through the communicator of the four.

“Please do not touch this cooler”, Jun asked closing his eyes, already wondering what he would do with that information.

“Okay... Hoshi? Jennie? How are we?”, Joshua asked, knocking lightly on the cabin door, seeing his friend's head pop up quickly.
“We're almost there, right Jen?”

“Five more minutes and we can start”, The woman replied pressing some buttons on the panel, opening a smile for her co-pilot, “Are you ready, Hoshi?”

“Why can't I just go on the jet with you?!”, Hoshi asked for the tenth time in a tearful tone.

“Because I'm not going to land in Seoul, and you know it very well.”

“Put your parachute on already, Hoshi”, Joshua said looking at his watch and smiling at Jun, “How's your fist?”

“Ready to hit someone”, Jun showed his fist with an evil smile.

“Great. Take his drink and don't leave until I show up, okay?”

“Yes sir!”, Jun saluted and picked up the tray again.

“Hey! I’m the field leader!”, Hoshi complained while attaching the parachute straps.

"Josh is more handsome.", Jun shrugged and left before he heard his friend's outburst.

“Come on Hoshi, concentrate”, Joshua laughed peering at the corridor that led to the armchairs, “You remember the plan, right?”

“I made the plan!”, Hoshi said indignant, making Jennie laugh in the cabin.

“Great, so you know what to do”, Joshua smiled and took off his suit, revealing the straps of the parachute and the gun at his waist, “Showtime!”

With light and silent steps, Joshua moved down the hall, listening to ChungHo's complaints on Jun. He leaned his back against the wall where he could have a full view of his friend who was now beside the day's target.

“Do you intend to stay there until we reach Seoul?”

"No, sir", Jun replied, clutching the tray between his fingers and watching Joshua nod in the hall.

“Then get out of here!”

“I will retire, sir”, Jun smiled at the angry man in front of him, “But I will have to take you with me.”

With a single, sure move, Jun hit the tray on ChungHo's face just as he was drinking his drink. The sound of the glass shattering was no louder than the man's cry of pain.

“What-”

ChungHo tried to get the gun he kept in the suit's inner pocket, but Jun's hands were faster. In a matter of seconds the beautiful golden weapon was pointed at the head of the man who now had a frightened expression and a nose full of blood.

“Who do you think you are to-”

“If you don't want to take another blow to the head, I suggest you shut that fuck up!”, Jun pressed the gun to ChungHo's forehead, pushing harder when the man didn't answer, “Do you understand?”

“Perfect as always, Jun”, Joshua appeared with a satisfied smile, “I'm glad he shut up. His voice was already giving me a headache.”

“Don't even tell me”, Jun rolled his eyes and with his free hand started to search the other pockets of the surrendered man, just to make sure that was the only weapon he had, “It's clean. You can go.”

“Do you know who we are, ChungHo?”, Joshua asked putting on his black gloves.

“From the police, I believe”, ChungHo replied grimly. The bitter tone satisfying both boys.

“We are not from the police”, Joshua answered opening the suitcase easily with the code that Woozi had given him the previous day, smiling even more when he found everything he was looking for, “We are better than them.”

“You can even be something”, ChungHo laughed looking directly into Jun's calm eyes, “But you are not bigger than me. And you know that very well, don't you?”

“Of course, we are not idiots”, Joshua closed the briefcase and fastened it firmly against his chest, returning to Jun's side, “But at the moment you are just a small insect. And we don't like insects very much, right Jun?”

“Right”, Jun smiled pulling the man so that he would stand, Joshua handcuffing him next, “Do you know how to fly, ChungHo?”

“How is it?”

"I think that's a no", Joshua laughed, walking to the emergency exit door.

“We will give you the opportunity to learn right now”, Jun smiled widely, pushing the handcuffed man toward the door Joshua was about to open.

“Are you crazy?!”, ChungHo shouted with wide eyes trying to get away, “You can't throw me off the plane!”

“Yes, we can. Look!”, Joshua opened the door and with a single kick Jun threw him out of the jet, “See you on the launch!”

Joshua jumped out of the jet in a row, leaving only Jun and Hoshi behind. He was responsible for catching ChungHo, who was screaming as he fell with handcuffed hands. It was not a difficult task, he just followed all the training he had done since he became an agent of the Korean government, so he quickly caught the man between his legs and opened the parachute.

“Come on Hoshi!”, Jun shouted taking off his suit and getting ready to jump.

"G-Go ahead!", Hoshi stammered, holding on to the open door.

“Don't take too long, Jennie has yet to deviate.”

It was the last warning before jumping out of the aircraft. Jun put his arms close to his body and leaned over, the way he learned in his training. He could see Joshua arriving with ChungHo on the speedboat where Vernon was, and just seconds after opening his parachute he also landed safely next to his friend.

“Where's Hoshi?”, Vernon asked putting on his sunglasses. Jun and Joshua looked him up and down with expressions that shouted how confused they were with the clothes he was wearing, “What is it?”

“Hawaiian shirt and shorts? Seriously?”, Joshua asked throwing the suitcase so that he kept it in one of the compartments of the launch.

“I wouldn't be wearing a suit in this sun in the middle of the ocean!”

“If you arrive dressed like that on the coast, S.Coups will finish you off.”

“Coups loves me. And he doesn't need to know that I have these clothes on at work, does he, Josh?”, Vernon asked with a smile that made the older man roll his eyes. Satisfied, he raised his hands to the communicator in his ear to speak to the only one left on the plane, “Hoshi, do you hear me? We have to go now.”

“I can't jump! I will pass out before opening the parachute and I will die in the sea devoured by some shark!”

“Sharks hate human blood, don't worry.”

“The bite can kill you, but they won't eat you.”

“It's not helping, Joshua!”

“Hoshi everything is fine, we will pick you up when you’re close!”

“I’ll catch you, leader! And I still pay for your dinner tonight!”, Jun said looking at the jet.

“Will I be able to order as much kimchi as I want?”

“As long as you don't feel sick afterwards, yes”, Jun replied looking at the jet that was still in motion, “Jump, count to five and open the parachute, okay?”

“Okay... If you don't catch me, I swear I'll tell Minghao your darkest things!”

Jun just laughed when he saw his friend jump out of the jet. They could hear the desperate screams of Hoshi, who quickly counted to five and opened the parachute, trying to remember the instructions he received in his training.

It was not an easy task to try to hold it, but Vernon managed to move the speedboat so that Jun could hold him when the time came.

“Okay, scared kitten, it wasn't even that bad!”, Vernon laughed starting to drive the launch to the coast.

“You know I hate height!”, Hoshi grunted, letting go of Jun, “Why did you make me go with them if you know that, Vernon?!”

“Don’t worry because of that, Hoshi. You will thank me even more one day”, Vernon smiled and threw a bottle of water on his friend's lap, “Drink this and stay against the wind, you will feel better.”

“You are pathetic”, ChungHo complained and only then the four remembered his presence on the launch.

“Look, a cooler”, Joshua pointed to the large ice-filled compartment, smiling at Jun.

“Take a closer look”, Jun grabbed him by the shirt and threw him sitting inside the cooler, smiling mockingly at the irritated scream that the man let out by the low temperature, “Is it cold enough now, sir?”

“Ah okay! I'm feeling better”, Hoshi took a deep breath and stood up, looking at the man who tried unsuccessfully to get up. Taking his badge out of his pants pocket, he cleared his throat and spoke in his imposing voice, “Bon ChungHo, on behalf of the Korean government's special operations department, you're under arrest for conspiracy and international drug trafficking.”

“And for being a pain in the ass”, Jun muttered as he unfastened the buttons on his shirt. Joshua laughed and pulled him close to Vernon while Hoshi did his monologue on ChungHo's rights.

“Is Coups waiting for us on the coast?”

“No, Woozi is there. Coups is waiting for us with the police at the beach house”, Vernon replied focused on driving the speedboat.

“Great, I'm tired and all I want is to get to the beach house and get some rest.”

“Don't forget my kimchi, Junhui!”

“Shit!”, Jun muttered looking at the sky, “Even Minghao doesn't give me as much work as Hoshi.”

“That's because you give Minghao work”, Vernon countered with a singing smile, making Joshua laugh.

Jun looked at him seriously for a few seconds, only to agree and end up laughing with both of them.
The day was long, but at least they would end together and with one more mission successfully executed.

Chapter Text

Incheon, South Korea.

27 km from Seoul, 7 PM.

 

The hot water beat against his tense shoulders, wetting the entire length of his back and splashing some drops on the head that was bent forward. He waited a few moments, just for that relaxing feeling to take effect, and only then raised his head to receive the hot water.

Seungkwan was tense, tired with a heavy head due to the thousands of thoughts that decided to appear at the same time. It was a bad mix of sensations.

Frustration at not getting a job. The pressure of having to help at home in some way. Fear of what they would think of him at this point, and sadness when he remembered why he was feeling everything at the same time.

“Relax a little, Seungkwan.”, He said to himself as he finished his shower, “It will be okay.”

With the towel attached to his waist he left the bathroom, listening only to the sound of the television coming from the living room. Seungkwan went straight to his room and tried to put on comfortable clothes. His feet ached from walking around all day distributing resumes and looking for any job that came up, but it seems that his lack of experience in absolutely everything was hurting him.

“Hyung?”

 Seungkwan turned around when he heard that voice, finding his brother at the bedroom door with a simple smile.

“Hi Chan.”, Seungkwan smiled and took the towel to dry his hair, “How was the class today?”

“Normal.”, Chan shook his shoulders and walked away with the wheelchair, “Let's eat something? Seokmin hyung left some things before leaving.”

“Sure, I'm starving.”

Seungkwan helped his brother to rotate the wheelchair in the small hall and followed behind him. Chan hated it when one of the brothers tried to push his chair without his permission, so the two only helped him when needed.

“How was today?”

“Not very good, but tomorrow will be better.”, Seungkwan forced an optimistic smile.

“Don't push yourself too hard, hyung.”

“I'm fine, Chan. Don't worry.”, Seungkwan sat down at the same time that there was a knock at the door, “Are you waiting for someone?”

“Who would I expect, hyung?”, Chan asked amused, but Seungkwan can feel a twinge of sadness at those words.

“I'll be right back.”, Seungkwan went to the door and was surprised to be the smiling man on the other side, “Mingyu? Why are you here?”

“Can't I visit my best friend?”

“Of course you can, but I know very well that you did not come here with that intention.”, Seungkwan raised an eyebrow, watching his friend smile with a guilty smile, “Come in.”

“Thank you!”, Mingyu entered the house taking off his suit and shoes, “I hope I didn't arrive at a bad time.”

“Don't worry. Seok is still at the restaurant and Dino and I were about to eat something. Do you accept?”

“Yes, I do, thank you!”, Mingyu smiled before messing up Chan's hair, “What's up Chan?”

“Gyu don't do this!”, Chan complained while tidying up the messy hair, but then smiling at the older one, “You disappeared, where have you been?”

“In Japan. The company sent me for a two-week job in Tokyo.”

“Your job is so cool!”, Chan was looking impressively at the older man.

“Yes, very cool”, Seungkwan said looking directly at Mingyu, silently asking him to change the subject.

“How's school, Chan?”

Chan didn't like to talk about his days at school, but sometimes he tried. Seungkwan saw how much his younger brother liked Mingyu and was extremely happy about it, after all Chan did not have many friends and did not like people very much besides his two brothers and Mingyu.

Mingyu had a very important role in the boy's life, and he was fully aware of that.

“When I’m not traveling and you’re calm at school, I will take you on that basketball court that I promised, ok?”, Mingyu said while helping Seungkwan to clean up the kitchen.

“Ok hyung, I'll practice some more at school then!”, Chan smiled excitedly and Seungkwan felt good about that, “I'll let you talk while I do my lesson. Help me with math later, hyung?”

“Yes, I'll go to your room as soon as I'm done here.”

Chan nodded and left, pushing his wheelchair into the bedroom. The two finished cleaning everything up in silence, but Seungkwan knew that Mingyu was there for a purpose. The older man whistled as he put away all the dishes as if it was something extremely normal, and that was enough for Seungkwan to roll his eyes and tap his arm with the dish towel.

Outch! Kwan?!”, Mingyu jumped scared.

“Spit it out, Kim Mingyu!”

“’What-”

“I know you came here because you want to ask me for something, I've known you since the age of five, you idiot!”, Seungkwan tried to hit him again, but the older one was faster and walked away.

“OK! I will tell you!”, Mingyu asked raising his hands, “Sit there and I'll stay right here, ok?”

“Coward.”, Seungkwan snorted sitting in the chair he was before, “I'm waiting.”

“Ok... It's a delicate subject so let's talk low, okay?”, Mingyu asked looking in the direction of Chan's room.

“It's all right.”

“I don't know which story to make up, so I'll get straight to the point.”, Mingyu sat down with a long sigh, “I want you to come work with me.”

“You want what?!”

“I want you to work with me.”, Mingyu repeated in the same serious tone. The eyes never leaving Seungkwan’s, “As you know, I work for a government organization, and we need one more person in the intelligence department. And Kwan, quite frankly, you are one of the most brilliant people I know.”

“Mingyu listen to what you are saying.”, Seungkwan sighed supporting his arms on the table, “Do you want me to work in a secret organization? What makes you think that I would like to get involved with dangerous people all the time?”

“I know you don't want to, I didn't want to either, but I'm not part of a mafia.”, Mingyu crossed his arms, “I'm part of a team that protects people, we do good, and I know you want to do something good for people. Mainly by Chan.”

“Can you please not talk about Chan now?”, Seungkwan asked seriously. He hated it when they talked about his younger brother.

“Sorry.”, Mingyu stretched his arms until he reached his friend's small hands, “Listen, you are my best friend. And I will always protect and help you, and that’s what I’m doing now. I can answer all the questions you want, but I just ask you for some time to really think about this proposal, ok?”

“It's not that simple, Gyu”, Seungkwan shook his head, “What if something happens to my brothers?”

“Will not.”

“But what if something happens to me?”

“Will not.”

“But what if-”

“Kwan wait.”, Mingyu smiled getting up to sit closer to his friend, “I already said, I will answer all your questions, but only if you are sure that you accept my proposal. You know, I still work for the government, so I shouldn't even be talking about it with you without my boss.”

“You know I'm not going to spread it around.”

“I know that, I have complete confidence in you. And that’s one more reason why I’m making you this proposal.”

“You are so annoying!”, Seungkwan punched the elder's shoulder lightly, laughing with him next, “I like mysteries.”

“I know you like it, so I thought of you when we had the meeting yesterday.”, Mingyu smiled amused, “You are good at decoding those weird things.”

“They're not weird!”

“They are, but I love you anyway.”, Mingyu stood up looking at his watch, “I have to go, but you can call me if you have any questions or want to talk more about the proposal, ok?”

“Okay, I promise to think about it”, Seungkwan got up and accompanied his friend to the door, “Watch out on the street.”

“I am a trained government agent”, Mingyu said with an amused smile.

“In my view you are still the clumsy one who tripped over the shoelaces”, Seungkwan shrugged his shoulders and hugged the taller one.

“See you later, Kwan.”, Mingyu smoothed his friend's blond hair and received a wave before walking away.

Seungkwan closed the door and leaned his forehead against the cold wood, thinking about the proposal that Mingyu had offered him. He couldn't deny that he was tempted to understand more about what his friend works for and what exactly he would do in a government organization.

But, unfortunately, it was not an easy decision to make. At least not before talking to his older brother.

Deciding to forget about it for a while, Seungkwan went straight to Chan's room to help him with his lesson. He loved those moments with his younger brother, and because he was in the middle, he always felt the need to help and protect the family's maknae.

He failed only once, but he wasn't going to let those memories hit him right now.

After helping Chan with the lesson and the bath, Seungkwan went to the living room to try to distract himself with a television program. He was being foolish to try to distract his head, just when Mingyu's words echoed at full volume.

“Damn Seok, where are you?”, Seungkwan grunted, throwing himself on his back on the sofa, but jumping when he heard his brother's voice at the entrance to the room.

“I'm here!”, Seokmin laughed with his brother's fright and approached, leaving his backpack on the floor.

“Yah! Never do that again!”, Seungkwan said with his hands on his chest, trying to calm himself from the fright he got.

“Sorry, but it was funny.”, Seokmin said sitting on the couch. He had his usual smile on his face, but his tired expression gave away the long day he had, “What do you want with me?”

“I wanted to talk, but you are tired so I think we can do it tomorrow.”

“No need. Let's talk now”, Seokmin crossed his legs on the sofa and settled in front of his brother, waiting for him to start talking.

“Right. Well...”, Seungkwan imitated the elder's position and looked at him warily, “Mingyu appeared here today.”

“Really?”, Seokmin asked surprised, “Good, he hasn't shown up for some time. How is he?”

“He's fine, he was traveling for work”, Seungkwan cleared his throat and stared at his fingers, “We talked a little and... He kind of offered me a job.”

“A job? Where?”

“Along with him”, Seungkwan observed his brother's reaction well, seeing his eyebrows come together.

“And what did you say?”

“I said that I would think about it and talk to you”, The brother's thoughtful expression was making Seungkwan impatient, “What is it?”

“Did he give you details about the job?”

“Not much, but he said he'll take all my doubts if I accept.”

“And do you want to accept?”, Seokmin asked seeing his brother nodding with his lip between his teeth.

“What do you think?”

“Well, if you want to accept it, I can't do anything to stop you. It's just...”

“What?”

“Look, I love Mingyu. He's a good person and always took good care of you and Chan when I wasn't around”, Seokmin said cautiously, “But, I don't know why, the impression that I sometimes have is that he smells trouble. And I don't want you to get in trouble.”

“Mingyu is not a problem, Seok”, Seungkwan replied firmly, “He is my best friend.”

“I know that. As I said, it's just an impression”, Seokmin smiled a little and approached his brother, “And if you trust him, I suggest you take the job.”

“I'll talk to him some more before I decide something.”

“Do it!”, Said holding small hands, “But, please only accept the job if you really want it.”

“What do you mean?”

“I know you've been looking for anything just to start working”, Seokmin smiled amused, “Kwan, we're not starving. You don't have to be in such a hurry.”

“I know that, hyung. But you've been supporting the house since our father left, and I want to help you!”, Seungkwan said firmly looking quickly at the bedroom corridor, “And I also want to help Chan.”

“I think your attitude is beautiful, and I'm very proud of you. But I know that you want to do this just for Chan, and I'm concerned because I don't want you to go over your own limit, Kwan.”

“Hyung, I know we promised not to have this discussion again, but this is something I have carried with me since the accident”, Seungkwan sighed looking at his brother's clasped hands, “Chan can walk again, but you can't afford to treat him. And I... I want to do this for my brother.”

“Again, I'm proud of you”, Seokmin smiled pulling his brother into his arms, “I already gave up trying to convince you, but it never hurts to say it again. You were not to blame for anything, Kwan. It was an accident, and if you feel guilty in any way talk to Chan, he'll get that idea out of your head in no time.”

“Yeah, punching me in the nose.”

“Exactly!”, Seokmin laughed and stroked his brother's back, “Talk to Mingyu and, if you want, accept the job. But don't go over your limit, okay?”

“Okay hyung”, Seungkwan smiled hugging his brother's body more tightly. He loved Seokmin's hugs, always made him calmer and safer, “Thank you.”

“No need to thank me”, Seokmin left a kiss on the brother's head and walked away, “Now I'm going to take a shower and get some rest. Keep me updated on what to decide, okay?”

“Yes, hyung. Good night.”

Seungkwan saw his brother go to Chan's room before going to his own. He sighed and threw himself on the couch again, feeling much lighter than before. Seokmin had the gift of always knowing what to say to make him feel better, no matter what the problem. As now, Seungkwan never said what the job was about, but his brother was there encouraging and saying the right words.

He was very lucky to have Seokmin as an older brother, and he was very grateful for that.

Seungkwan picked up his cell phone on the coffee table and looked at the time, seeing that it was past midnight. Mingyu should be home by now, so he went to his room and dialed his friend's number.

The one who answered on the third ring.

“What happened, Kwan?”, Mingyu asked quickly. Seungkwan smiled at that, his friend was really protective.

“You happened!”, Seungkwan laughed and heard the sigh of relief on the other end of the line, “Are you tired?”

“Do you want to talk?”

“Yes... I want to know more about the job.”

At his home Mingyu smiled at that answer and settled on his bed before starting to tell about the work that Seungkwan would do, patiently answering all questions so that he had no doubts.

Seungkwan just hopes he is making the right choice.

Chapter Text

Incheon, South Korea.

27 km from Seoul, 7:32 AM.

 

Seungkwan woke up on the first ring of the alarm that morning, running to the bathroom and taking a bath longer than usual. He was nervous, so he took extra care when shaving and straightening his hair in a tuft to the side, different from the usual thing that was just messing the strands forward and almost covering his eyes. It reminded him that he should change the color soon, but that was something to think about later.

He searched his wardrobe for his social clothes, which he did not wear often, but would now be part of his routine. As it was his first day, he decided that he should at least wear a tie, so he chose the one that best matched the gray shirt and smiled pleased with the result.

He only took one last look at his hair and grabbed his bag before leaving his room and going to the kitchen, where he found his two brothers having breakfast. Seokmin had a funny expression as he faced Chan with a cup in his hand.

“What's it?”, Seungkwan asked looking at his younger brother, who was wearing his school uniform and had the first buttons of his white shirt open. He seemed to be looking for something in his chest, “What the hell is that, Chan?”

“He's looking for the two hairs he had on his chest”, Seokmin replied drinking his coffee seeing his younger brother snort.

“They were here! I'm sure!”

“Kid, you are 17 years old. If you have three armpit hairs, that's a lot”, Seungkwan joked starting to eat.

“For your information,”, Chan finished opening his shirt and raised his arm, “I do have more than three armpit hairs!”

“Oh my God! Seungkwan look!”, Seokmin covered his mouth pointing at the youngest, “He already has four armpit hairs!”

“Our maknae is growing!”, Seungkwan pretended to wipe his tears and Chan rolled his eyes, putting the shirt back on correctly.

“I hate you two”, Chan mumbled going back to eating, but unable to contain his curiosity over his brother, “Where are you going well dressed like that, hyung?”

“A job interview”, Seungkwan smiled and faced his older brother, “I decided to accept Mingyu's proposal.”

“I knew you would accept”, Seokmin smiled and squeezed his brother's shoulder, “Just be careful, okay?”

“Don’t worry”, Seungkwan smiled and saw his cell phone light up with a message from Mingyu saying he was coming, “Mingyu is already coming. He's going to take me today so I can learn the way.”

“Is it too far from here?”

“It’s in Seoul, just 30 minutes from here”, Seungkwan replied with his mouth full receiving a disgusted look from Chan, “Quiet, Mr. Three hair.”

“If I could I’d kick you now.”

“Soon you will be able to kick me”, Seungkwan blinked getting up and wiping his mouth quickly, “I have to go, see you later!”

“Good luck!”, The two brothers said together.

Seungkwan didn't even have time to reply to his friend's message, as soon afterwards the black car was stopping beside him. He got into the car and came face to face with a smiling and well-dressed Mingyu, which made him smile instantly.

“Good morning, Kwan!”

“What's the good mood before eight in the morning?”

“My best friend is going to work with me, I'm happy!”, Mingyu never stopped smiling, “Okay, come on. Some important information about today.”

“Wait a minute!”, Seungkwan opened his briefcase and took his glasses, notebook and pen, “You can say it now.”

“You are such a nerdy”, Mingyu laughed and spoke again before his friend mumbled, “Okay, let's get there first and I'll get your badge. Since you agreed to come with me, I already passed some information about you to the department, so they could register you and release your entry without many questions.”

“Badge ok. Okay, what else?”

“You'll just go through a quick inspection. Routine procedure, you don't need to be nervous.”

“I already am, but ok proceed.”

“We will attend a meeting at half past eight”, Mingyu quickly looked at his friend and saw him with wide eyes, “Calm down, I'll be with you all the time. S.Coups is our boss, and he asked me to take you. So he can introduce you to the team and get to know you personally.”

“S.Coups is the boss, ok”, Seungkwan repeated the man's name so he wouldn't forget later, “And what does he look like?”

“He is an excellent leader, extremely intelligent and dedicated. You will like him”, Mingyu smiled and squeezed his friend's shoulder, “Don't worry, everything will be fine and you will like the team. Especially Hoshi, I’m sure that you two will get along very well.”

“Ok, a lot of information”, Seungkwan sighed and closed his notebook, “Will I work with him?”

“Only when necessary. Hoshi is the leader of the field agents, my leader included, and you will be in the intelligence department. Where the hot nerds are.”

“Thanks for that last piece of information”, Seungkwan heard his friend's laugh and bit his lip, “You'll be with me, won't you?”

“As much as I can. After the meeting, I have to talk to the agents who are infiltrating in another missions, it was Coups's order. But don't worry, you will be guided by someone on the team at all times.”

“That's my fear.”

“Don't worry, you are good at making friends and socializing”, Mingyu smiled squeezing his friend's cheek, “And if you need anything, text me, I'll find a way to come to you. Ah! And we will have lunch together too.”

“Thank you, Gyu.”

“Don't thank me yet.”

Mingyu decided to tell only how that organization worked, he wanted Seungkwan to know each one of the team and have his own opinion.

With the conversation between them, the journey to the large building was made quickly. Seungkwan watched everything with curious eyes, looking like a child on the first day of school. Everything was very beautiful and modern, even the entrance to the underground was made with facial recognition and with fingerprints.

Mingyu parked the car in its usual spot and with one hand on Seungkwan's back he guided him to the elevator. This one that instead of going up started going down, leaving Seungkwan surprised once again.

As said before, Mingyu picked up Seungkwan's badge at the reception and waited while he signed some terms of release. They both passed the big inspect machine without any problems and went together down a corridor with dark glass walls.

“Everything is so beautiful!”, Seungkwan commented looking around in awe, making Mingyu smile again.

“I knew you would like it!”, Mingyu stopped at the first automatic door when he felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket, “Kwan I have to answer this, can you wait for me here a minute?”

“Sure, no problem.”

Mingyu walked away with the phone to his ear and Seungkwan stood in the hallway staring at his shoes. He grabbed the bag strap across his chest and decided to read his notes again, just so he wouldn't forget any names or rules.

While reading again everything he had written down, Seungkwan paced back and forth, and didn't even notice when the automatic door opened again. He only realized when he ran into someone else, knocking his notebook on the floor.

“Oh I’m sorry!”, Seungkwan asked adjusting his glasses and bending down to pick up his notebook, but the man in front of him was faster, “I was distracted reading my notes and I didn't see you coming in, I’m so sorry!”

“It’s okay, don't worry”, The man replied extending the notebook to the lowest one, “Are you new here?”

“Ah… Yes! It's my first day actually”, Seungkwan took the notebook and held out his hand, “My name is Boo Seungkwan!”

“The internship integration room is on the left”, The taller pointed and Seungkwan raised his eyebrows in confusion, withdrawing his hand.

“Hm...”, He looked at the highest badge in order to know his name, “Hansol, I'm not an intern. In fact-”

“Call me Vernon”, he interrupted seriously.

“Okay, Hansol”, Seungkwan continued, “As I said, I'm not an intern.”

“So you-”

“Sorry for the delay, Kwan. We can... Oh, good morning, Vernon-ah”, Mingyu stopped when he saw his friend facing Seungkwan.

“Morning Mingyu. How was Tokyo?”

“It was great, but we haven't finished the investigation yet”, Mingyu smiled putting the phone away, “And how was it with ChungHo?

“Jun hit a tray on his nose and then threw him in a cooler filled with ice”, Vernon said as if it were the most normal thing possible. Mingyu and Seungkwan frowned at that, “But he’s under arrest. I think that's what Coups is going to talk about at the meeting.”

“Ah yes, you will also be there”, Mingyu faced Seungkwan and rested his hand on his shoulder, “I see you met Seungkwan. He will be the new agent for the intelligence team.”

“Welcome”, Vernon bowed quickly, and Seungkwan returned, “I have to go, see you at the meeting.”

“Alright, see you later”, Mingyu waved and looked at his friend who was still staring at the agent's back, “Kwan? What did you think of Vernon?”

“He is very... Serious”, Seungkwan replied returning to face the taller.

“Vernon is a little... Complex”, Mingyu shook his head, “But you get used to it. Let's go?”

Seungkwan nodded and followed his friend again, paying attention to everything that was said. He entered a large room with an oval table in the center, the white leather chairs contrasting with the dark wood. There were a few men sitting around the table talking to each other, and just one man in silence typing frantically on the laptop at the end of the table.

“That's S.Coups”, Mingyu whispered in his friend's ear before taking him to the black-haired man, “Good morning, Coups!”

“Good morning, Mingyu”, S.Coups replied diverting his attention from the laptop and then getting up when he noticed Seungkwan's presence, “And you must be our new intelligence agent, am I right?”

“Yes sir”, Seungkwan agreed with a smile and bowed, “Nice to meet you, I'm Boo Seungkwan.”

“You are very polite”, S.Coups laughed at the formality of the youngest and bowed in respect, “I’m S.Coups, the leader of this operation. The boys like to call me Coups, you can call me that if you feel comfortable.”

“Okay, thank you.”

“I will start the meeting, it will be very quick, and then we can talk, okay?”

“Yes sir.”

“I'm feeling like an old man now”, S.Coups joked looking at Mingyu who had a happy smile, “Indicate a place for him, Mingyu.”

“Yes, boss. Come on, Kwan”, Mingyu pulled him to sit on two free chairs at the end of the table, “You don't need all that formality with Coups.”

“I'm not intimate with him to call him anything other than "sir", Mingyu”, Seungkwan replied, raising his eyebrows, seeing his friend's amused expression.

“All right, polite sir.”

“Good morning, everyone!”, S.Coups's thick and imposing voice was present, making all the noise from the chat room in the same minute, “I don't want to take too much of your time, so let's start the meeting. First of all, I would like to congratulate everyone for the capture of Bon ChungHo. The operation was carried out successfully and no one was injured. Congratulations to all of you, especially to Hoshi who did a great strategy.”

A wave of applause washed over the room, which made Seungkwan follow everyone present. He looked at the men sitting around the table smiling and greeting each other until he found Vernon's serious, expressionless eyes staring at him. His hands hesitated a little on the next move, startled to see someone staring at him.

Then he immediately tried to look away to the leader at the end of the table.

“Okay, you can and should celebrate, but remember that the operation is not over yet. Joshua managed to recover the suitcase safely and it is already in the hands of the intelligence department for investigation. Right, Woozi?”

“Right!”, The short man with brown hair nodded.

“Perfect, I need the study to begin today. Mingyu,”, S.Coups called looking at the end of the table, “After the meeting that you will have now in the morning I need you to sit down with the intelligence team to share information that you brought from Tokyo. We need to know if it’s the same mafia or we are dealing with larger proportions.”

“Yes, boss.”

“And please don't forget to pass me any and all new discoveries. As we are dealing with something international, other operations are also involved and we must all be aligned. Understood?”

“Yes boss”, Everyone answered in unison and S.Coups smiled with satisfaction.

“Very well. And last but not least, I would like to briefly introduce our new team member. He will be part of the intelligence team from now on. Boo Seungkwan.”

Seungkwan felt a small kick in his leg that made him rise, even though his cheeks burned from having all the eyes of that room fixed on his face. Swallowing and ignoring the chill in his stomach, he bent and smiled politely.

“Nice to meet you all.”

“You will meet one by one in a moment, but first we will talk”, S.Coups said with a small smile and clapped his hands, “Very well, dismissed! You can come over here, Seungkwan.”

“See you later. And don’t worry, you're doing fine!”, Mingyu smiled and squeezed his friend's shoulders before leaving the room with the rest of the agents.

“Nervous about your first day?”, S.Coups asked in a friendly way sitting at the end of the table.

“A little”, Seungkwan laughed nervously and settled in the chair.

“Okay, that's normal. You are Mingyu's best friend, right?”

“Yes, we've known each other since we were five.”

“Good! Then I see that it will be easy for you to adapt here”, S.Coups smiled and pulled out some papers, “I think he explained some rules about working here, after all we are a government organization, right?”

“Yes, he explained several things to me.”

“Great, but as is the standard procedure, I need you to read these documents carefully. Here are all the rules as well as your job assignments. If you have any questions don't hesitate to contact me, ok? My contact is on the last page.”

“Understand. Thank you sir.”

“You're welcome”, S.Coups ended up laughing again at the formality, “Usually I accompany the new agents on the first day, but I have an important meeting in a few minutes. So I'm going to ask an agent to accompany you and introduce you to your workplace, okay?”

“Alright, don’t worry!”

“Wait a minute”, S.Coups pressed a button on the phone in the center of the table and was quickly answered.

“Hoshi!”

“Hoshi where are you?”

“I'm at the cafeteria on the second floor with the boys.”

“Can you come up to the ground floor meeting room again? And bring The8 with you.”

“Ok Coups, we're coming soon!”

“Thank you!”, S.Coups hung up the phone and faced Seungkwan again, “Sorry again for not being able to accompany you.”

“It's okay, you have important commitments so I can get to know the team faster.”

“You will like them, they are good boys”, S.Coups smiled and looked at the door that revealed his two agents, “Boys I need you to accompany Seungkwan today. Show him the whole location and everyone on our team, please.”

“Okay it will be fun!”, The smiling man said looking at Seungkwan. He found it funny how his eyes got small when he smiled.

“Thanks guys”, S.Coups took his briefcase and reached out to shake Seungkwan's hand, “It was a pleasure, Seungkwan. And welcome again.”

“Thanks, Coups”, Seungkwan smiled and liked it when the man smiled happily before leaving the room.

“Coups and his power to make people lose formality with him in a matter of minutes”, The man with a cheerful smile and small eyes said dramatically.

“Don't be rude and introduce yourself!”, The thinner man with lighter hair said rolling his eyes and bowing, “I'm The8, nice to meet you.”

“And I'm Hoshi!”, The man said excitedly in a bow.

“Seungkwan!”, He bowed and tightened the bag strap across his chest again, “Mingyu told me about you.”

“Of course he did! I’m unforgettable!”, Hoshi sighed opening the button of the gray suit he wore, “It is inevitable.”

“Lesson number one, don't feed Hoshi's ego”, The8 said seriously, but Seungkwan noticed his amused look.

“We will keep jealousy aside and focus on our tour, okay?”, Hoshi opened the door for everyone to leave, “You will work in the intelligence department, right?”

“That's right!”

“Then we will work together”, The8 smiled and ran a hand through his hair, and Seungkwan was impressed at how smooth and well maintained they were, “It's the best department, by the way.”

“You dream about it, Xu!”, Hoshi mocked the front, following a new corridor.

“’Xu’ is my last name”, The8 explained seeing the Seungkwan's confused expression, “My name is Xu Minghao, but here we like to use proper names.”

“Exactly!”, Hoshi turned, starting to walk on his back, “My name is Kwon Soonyoung, but I just use that name out of here.”

“Got it!”, Seungkwan nodded, “Do I need to have one too?”

“Only if you feel comfortable with”, Hoshi replied opening a door, “The8 please do the honors.”

“You are more talkative today”, The8 grunted pulling Seungkwan into a large room.

“I'm happy, Chinese!”

Seungkwan smiled. Mingyu was right, he had quickly liked Hoshi and his lively and smiling manner, suited him perfectly. But going back to paying attention to where he entered, he could see how big that room was.

There was a large, organized bench at the back and in the right corner, some work bays with computers, not to mention the huge television on the left. It felt like Seungkwan's paradise.

“This will be the room in which you will work”, The8 said drawing Seungkwan's attention, “The entire intelligence team stays here. That's where we do our studies and use that bench to do some work. Tomorrow will be your first official day of work, so I will help you with the processes.”

“It's all very beautiful and modern”, Seungkwan said still looking at everything around him, especially the big bench with some equipment that he had never even seen before.

“Boring!”, Hoshi snorted tiredly and only then did Seungkwan realize that he was lying in a big chair.

“What is this thing doing in my office?”

The short man from the meeting asked standing at the door. He wore rubber gloves and was holding a briefcase.

 Maybe it's the briefcase that Coups spoke at the meeting, thought Seungkwan looking up at the man's face, only then realizing that he was staring at him.

“You're the newbie. Boo Seungkwan, right?”

“Exactly. Nice to meet you!”

“I'm Woozi, the leader of the intelligence team”, The little guy's little smile ended up enchanting Seungkwan who quickly shook his hand, “The8 must have already shown you the basics here, but tomorrow we will focus on each of the processes so come prepared.”

“Okay I-”

“Oh come on!”, Hoshi jumped up, “It's his first day! Leave the boring talk for tomorrow. I want to take him to the cafeteria!”

“Who gave him coffee?”, Woozi asked The8 who just shook his head in boredom, “Okay, good luck following Hoshi. If you need help, The8 will be with you.”

“Don't worry, he's funny”, Seungkwan smiled and can see Hoshi's smug smile come back.

“Oh no...”

“Thank you, Seungkwan! I can see that you have good taste, and we will get along. Now, let's go back to the tour.”

Hoshi put an arm around Seungkwan's shoulders and dragged him down the halls. The8 just watched the two and soon realized that they would become friends quickly, just by the cheerful and positive way.

The two really showed everything they could. The meeting rooms, the two cafeterias, an evidence analysis laboratory and even an expert room. Seungkwan tried to record them all, but it was being a little difficult.

“Ah I love this room!”, The8 smiled opening a door and turning on the lights, “This is our disguise room. Here we can choose whatever it takes to disguise ourselves on a mission.”

“Wow!”

Seungkwan looked at everything with wide eyes, completely astonished by the number of hangers and shelves that were there. Only that room should be bigger than his room and his brothers together.

“We also have a hair salon here”, Hoshi said excitedly, “We can dye and cut the hair whenever we want.”

“It's good to know”, Seungkwan said thoughtfully as he followed the two agents out of the room.

“The blonde looks good on you”, Hoshi said amusedly, putting his arm around his shoulders again.

“Don't mind Hoshi's sincerity”, The8 said further ahead realizing Seungkwan's surprise, “We just need to introduce the field team.”

“Oh, they're at the gym. This way.”

Hoshi guided the youngest and soon Seungkwan could hear some noises and cheers of encouragement. The double glass door was open and so he could see some men in different equipment at that gym. Everyone seemed very focused on what they were doing, and Seungkwan wondered if he would have to be part of it too.

“Yes”, The8 said, standing next to the youngest, “We all have to stay at the gym for at least two hours three times a week, unless you are on a mission.”

“Do we have specific hours?”

“No, but usually the field team does its exercises in the morning and intelligence exercises in the afternoon. You can come whenever you want.”

“Boys!”, Hoshi shouted startling everyone in the gym, “This is Seungkwan! Seungkwan, this is my team.”

“You will scare him that way, Hoshi”, A handsome boy said coming down from the mat. Honey brown hair was clinging to his face, “I'm Joshua. I would shake your hand, but I'm all sweaty.”

“Don’t worry”, Seungkwan smiled jumping in fright to feel two hands holding his shoulders, “Yah!”

“We are finally meeting Mingyu's best friend!”, The taller man with features like The8 said excitedly, waving Seungkwan's hand and pulling him in for a hug, “I'm Junhui, but it's easier to just call me Jun.”

“N-Nice to meet you!”, Seungkwan replied with difficulty by the squeeze, sighing with relief when the tallest one released him, “Are you Chinese too?”

“Yes!”, Jun smiled pulling The8 by the shoulders. “Made in China.”

“He's going to start again with this made in China thing”, Joshua laughed, returning to the mat.

“The8, please control Junnie”, Hoshi scoffed and Seungkwan was afraid of the deadly look that the Chinese gave the agent.

“Okay...”, Jun walked away before it ended up being left for him, “I see you at lunch!”

“How cute”, Seungkwan laughed when Jun quickly kissed The8's cheek and ran out of the gym, “He seems to have a lot of energy.”

“You can't even imagine how much”, The8 said tiredly, but with a small smile on his face, “Did you met everyone?”

“No, that boy is still missing there.”

Hoshi said pointing to the other side of the gym, where the last man was sitting next to the iron bars drinking water. Seungkwan recognized him instantly, after all it was not very difficult to remember the man who had called him an intern on his first day.

“That's-”

“Hansol”, Seungkwan replied without looking away from the distracted man.

“...Vernon”, Hoshi looked confused at the youngest, “Do you know him?”

“No, I just ran into him in the hall and read the name on the badge.”

“Ah yes. Well, avoid calling him Hansol”, Hoshi said with a grimace, “He doesn't like it very much. And don't mind his way, let's say that Vernon is a little introspective boy, but after a while he gets loose.”

“Okay, I got it.”

“Is lunch time coming, are you hungry or do you want to talk a little with your leader?”

“I think I'll talk to Woozi and meet you at lunch.”

“Okay! I'll stay here for a while and you can come back with The8”, Hoshi smiled and made a dramatic bow, “Thanks for the tour and welcome again!”

“You get used to this drama”, The8 said pulling a laughing Seungkwan, “What did you think so far?”

“I really loved it!”, Seungkwan replied smiling, “It's quite different than I had imagined, but Mingyu was right about the team being good.”

“I like Mingyu, he is one of our best field agents and right-hand man for Coups and Hoshi”, The8 smiled and Seungkwan could see how adorable his smile was, “And he's very smart too.”

“This I will have to see with my own eyes.”

Seungkwan laughed and followed The8 out of the gym but looking at the bottom of the gym once again. As he expected, Vernon's eyes were fixed on him, but when he realized that the look was being returned he went back to doing his exercises.

For a first day he was doing well.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

7:45 AM.

 

Jeonghan's thin fingers strolled the guitar strings lazily, purposely causing random sounds. He was sitting on the edge of the unmade bed, so he could see the man's feet lying beside him moving slowly.

Jeonghan smiled smugly and moved his fingers over the strings again, hearing a weak laugh behind him. As he expected, it didn't take more than a minute for him to feel the warmth he liked so much on his back.

“Why do I have the impression that you are doing wrong on purpose?”, Joshua asked, resting his chin on the men’s bare shoulder.

“Because I'm really doing wrong on purpose”, Jeonghan replied simply, feeling hot kisses being placed on his shoulder, “You should teach me that chord again.”

“I taught you last night.”

“I remember doing a lot of things last night, and learning that chord was not one of them.”

Joshua laughed against the blonde's neck and placed the guitar on the floor, throwing the defined body on the bed in a single, quick movement. The sun's rays from that early morning invaded the room through the crack in the curtains, one of them hitting Jeonghan's face.

Joshua was mesmerized and didn't even notice when Jeonghan's hands grabbed his face and pulled him down, pulling his lips together in a slow kiss. Joshua felt the thin fingers caress his hair, then going down to his shoulders and then to his arms, squeezing his muscles gently.

“Don't even think about it”, Joshua said against his boyfriend's lips, feeling the smug smile he knew so well against his own.

“I'm not doing anything”, Jeonghan said moving his lips to the American's well-designed jaw, “Hm... You need to shave, Soo.”

Joshua laughed in surprise when Jeonghan raised his hips and with the help of his hands reversed the positions on the untidy bed. A few blond strands fell over his brown eyes and the beautiful smile mesmerized Joshua again that morning.

“I hate it when you do that”, Joshua closed his eyes when he felt Jeonghan's lips against his neck.

“What?”

“Try to seduce me with that beautiful face and that hoarse voice.”

“For the pretty face, I can't do anything, Jisoo”, Jeonghan laughed against the American's neck, feeling the hands tighten around his waist, “And the voice? Well, I woke up not even half an hour ago.”

“You'll make me late. Again.”

“I can't get up if you keep holding me”, Jeonghan teased looking quickly at the hands on his waist.

Joshua shook his head and in a quick movement removed his hands from Jeonghan's waist and held the hands that were resting on the mattress next to his head. Forcing his body upward he managed to sit up and hold Jeonghan's delicate hands back, leaving him sitting on his lap and immobile.

“For a pharmacist you are very agile”, Jeonghan said tilting his head to the side, “And strong too.”

“Stop talking in that tone”, Joshua muttered, hiding his face in the older man's neck.

“You look cute when you're trying to control yourself”, Jeonghan laughed releasing his hands without difficulty and then wrapping his fingers around the light brown strands, “Are you going to sleep with me again today?”

“If nothing gets in the way, yes”, Joshua left a kiss on the older man's neck before moving away just enough to face him, “I’ll bring dinner.”

“I want pizza.”

“Yes sir”, Joshua smiled, receiving a long peck in response, “I need to go...”

“Okay, I don't want to be the reason for your delay again”, Jeonghan replied dramatically, throwing himself on the bed.

“Don't be so dramatic, Hannie”, Joshua got up starting to collect his clothes, “Coups doesn't mind if I'm late for a few minutes because of you, but I can't do that every day.”

“Coups…”, Jeonghan sighed sitting up and resting his arms on the mattress, “And someday I will meet your boss who is so nice?”

“Of course!”, Joshua replied, fastening his belt, looking back and meeting his boyfriend's eyes analyzing him with a well-known brightness, “I told you not to think about it.”

“I'm just thinking about how a simple pharmacist can have such a... defined body.”

“I work in the health area”, He replied, turning his back. He never looked Jeonghan in the eye when he lied about his job, “I have to be healthy.”

“Well, congratulations”, Jeonghan stood up, stopping in front of the American who was buttoning his shirt buttons, “Your health and I thank you.”

“Idiot!”, Joshua laughed letting the older man fix his hair, “Are you going to record today?”

“Only in the afternoon. The new episode will air today at eight, will you watch it with me?”

“Of course! I need a comfortable pillow to watch your series”, Joshua hugged the older man's body, leaving a kiss on his blond hair, “Take care on the street, okay?”

“You too.”

With one last kiss Joshua picked up his things and put on his sunglasses, leaving the apartment where Jeonghan lived. The two had been dating for just over ten months and had a peaceful relationship despite their hectic routines.

Jeonghan was an actor, and he met Joshua at a coffee shop near the agency he had just auditioned for. The two ordered the last piece of cake at the same time, and after a brief discussion about who should have the last piece, Joshua smiled and asked if he would like to share.

Jeonghan took that offer, after all he liked that cake and Joshua was very handsome. They ended up having a friendly conversation while sharing that last piece, and it ended up that before leaving Joshua asked Jeonghan if he would like to share that cake with him again.

Numbers were exchanged, dates were made, smiles became more sincere and feelings came up. When the two realized they were already in a relationship, and it didn't take much to make it official.

Jeonghan was perfect and Joshua loved every little detail of the blond-haired actor. The only problem was hiding his identity, where he said he was a pharmacist, but it was getting harder and harder to keep that lie.

He hated lying to Jeonghan, but he had a rule to follow.

And it was thinking about this lie that he arrived at the government building, going straight to the second-floor cafeteria where he used to have breakfast with his team. He spotted a table with just The8 and the new agent, Seungkwan.

The second seemed to pay close attention to what The8 said to him and occasionally pointed to some pictures on the table. Joshua came over and he could see that this was the case they were working on, so he understood why Seungkwan was so focused.

“Good morning!”, Joshua said placing his hands on the shoulders of the two agents, causing Seungkwan to startle, “Sorry.”

“It’s okay…”, The newbie sighed and smiled at Joshua, “Good morning.”

“You're late, Shua”, The8 hummed, looking at his friend with an amused smile, “What day is it today? Wednesday? So Jeonghan is involved.”

“You don't know how he's like in the morning. I have to wake up half an hour early to pay attention to him or I'm in trouble.”

“And yet he manages to hold you”, The8 clicked his tongue, shaking his head, a false tone of disapproval in his voice. Joshua just smiled and winked at him, going to place his order, “He will end up in trouble one way or another.”

“Why do you say that?”

“Joshua has been having trouble hiding his identity”, The8 replied, turning to face Seungkwan, “His boyfriend, Jeonghan, is not an idiot. He'll find out through some mouth that it's not my friend’s, and that worries me.”

“Have you talked to him about it?”, Seungkwan asked collecting some photos of evidence to not lose them.

“Of course. Hoshi and Coups too, but Joshua is an insecure little boy when it comes to Jeonghan”, The8 rolled his eyes and crossed his legs, “What about you? There is somebody in your life?”

“Not in the moment. My last relationship was about three years ago, and since then I decided to focus only on my college and my brothers.”

“Bad ending?”

“No, it was very easy actually”, Seungkwan smiled, “We are still great friends.”

“That's good!”, The8 heard a whisper behind him and rolled his eyes, “Don't even try, Hoshi.”

“Damn it!”, Hoshi grunted, throwing the rubber spider on the table and throwing himself in the chair facing the two, “You could at least pretend!”

“For a field agent you are very noisy”, The8 mocked taking off his round glasses, very similar to Seungkwan's, to clean them.

“I'm not on a mission, so respect my skills!”, Hoshi straightened his tie and took the rubber spider, “I am a tiger! Do not forget that.”

“Hoshi, for the thousandth time”, The8 put the glasses back on and faced the agent seriously, “You are a human. Human!”

“That's what you think!”, Hoshi sat up in his chair and crossed his legs, “Good morning, Seungkwan.”

“Good morning, Hoshi”, Seungkwan replied with an amused smile by their conversation.

“Are you ready for your first official day?”

“Yes! The8 was helping me to understand about ChungHo's case”, Seungkwan replied keeping everything he was reading, “It reminds me that Woozi said yesterday afternoon that the suitcase's expert report would be ready today.”

“Let's go over there after breakfast.”

“Woozi is here?”, Hoshi asked looking around, “He is usually the first one to arrive.”

“He arrived and went with Coups to the conference room on the fourth floor”, Vernon replied appearing beside Seungkwan with a cup of coffee and a paper bag, “Good morning everyone.”

“Good morning”, The8 replied laughing with the new scare of the youngest, “I will help you to understand approach, so you will not have a heart attack before the first week of work.”

“Thanks.”

“Fourth floor?”, Hoshi asked thoughtfully, “That means problems. Didn't they say anything about what it could be?”

“No, they just said they would be there if we needed them”, Vernon sat down, touching Seungkwan's arm with the same serious expression, “Sorry for the shock.”

“It must be something about ChungHo, he will tell us later”, Jun commented, since he had heard part of the conversation when he returned with his orders, “Here Hao. I ordered your decaf because you had a headache yesterday.”

“Thank you”, The8 smiled, running a hand through Jun's hair.

“Hey Junnie! Think fast!”, Hoshi said throwing the rubber spider on top of the Chinese.

“Wow!”, Jun was startled, hitting the toy before it was hit. Everyone at the table saw when Joshua, who was approaching with two cups of coffee, bent down to dodge that object, “What was that?!”

“I'm testing your reflection. Very good by the way!”

“I'm a cat, did you forget?!”

“Do all field agents think they are animals?”, Seungkwan asked quietly so that only The8 would listen. The one who had a bored expression for their discussion.

“Sadly yes. And that is why we are from intelligence and not from the field.”

“I don't think I'm an animal”, Vernon commented to the two agents, raising his eyebrows when he saw Seungkwan's surprised look, “I have good hearing.”

“Vernon is the rare exception in many things. You'll find that out”, The8 winked at his friend before going back to eating.

“This is a good thing, I think”, Seungkwan said looking at the agent beside him.

“I hope so”, Vernon shrugged drinking some more of his coffee, “Sorry for yesterday.”

“Don't worry, you were busy.”

“No, I say about the crash at the entrance.”

“I was distracted too, Vernon.”

“But I called you an intern”, Vernon made a face and shook his head, “Sorry.”

“Okay, I know I look like an intern with all that height and a lost face”, Seungkwan joked and could see Vernon's lips curl in a small smile, “Just give me a few days and a little confidence.”

“If you say so”, Vernon nodded, stepping aside for Mingyu to approach.

“An Iced Americano coming!”, Mingyu left the coup in front of Seungkwan with a smile, “If you want anything else tell me.”

“Okay, thanks Gyu”, Seungkwan smiled and Vernon studied them carefully.

“Do you like Iced Americano?”

“It's my favorite. Why?”

“Curiosity.”

Vernon shrugged his coffee again. The8 narrowed his eyes and looked at Jun beside him, the one who was already looking at him with a curious look. The two just smiled at each other and returned to the conversation that Hoshi and Mingyu were having.

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

“Mingyu-ah, you said that while you were in Japan you managed to get some records of ChungHo's credit card purchase, right?”, The8 asked supporting the blue pilot on his chin, looking at all the items in the case that were written on the white board.

“Yes, it was on the fifth or sixth day”, Mingyu replied typing something on the cell phone, “They were superficial things, but I found two purchases at a travel agency. Both purchases were made on the same day and with his data.”

“Were there round-trip tickets?”, Jun asked turning in the chair.

“No. Two one-way tickets”, Mingyu turned his attention away from his cell phone and looked at Seungkwan who was standing next to The8 with the folder he had brought from his trip, “One ticket from Busan to Bangkok and the other...”

“From Tokyo to Jakarta”, Seungkwan read in the document and faced The8, who wrote the on the board, “But that doesn't make sense.”

“There would be no way he could take a flight from Tokyo while in Busan”, Hoshi looked at Mingyu, “Something is wrong.”

“Not really”, The8 said still looking at the painting trying to see what was missing, “There's someone else with him.”

“That was expected. ChungHo just ran everything, so obviously he would have someone else”, Joshua said thoughtfully.

“A right arm”, Jun concluded.

“But who would it be?”

“That's what we have to find out now, Vernon.”

S.Coups's thick and imposing voice was present in the room, attracting everyone's attention. Seungkwan could see that, unlike the previous day, his expression was serious and even angry. Woozi walked past him with some pictures in hand and The8 left the front of the board so he could hang them there.

“What happened at the meeting?”, Hoshi asked seriously, and it was the first time in two days that Seungkwan saw the man that way.

“Do we have more problems related to ChungHo?”, Vernon saw him close the door and walk past the photos in the painting.

“Do you recognize this man?”, Seungcheol asked pulling the picture further forward for everyone to see.

Seungkwan looked at all the agents and saw the same expression on everyone's face.

Surprise.

Seungkwan looked again at the pictures and saw a man tied to a chair in a dark room, just a spotlight above his head so that his face was lit up. His mouth was gagged and appeared to have some aggression wounds on his face.

He felt a strange feeling, and he didn't like it.

“Sangwoo?!”, Jun asked and Seungkwan noticed his voice breaking. His eyes were wide, and it looked like he was facing some ghost.

“Where is he?!”, Joshua asked.

“Jakarta.”

“But how? Sangwoo was in Tokyo when I came back!”, Mingyu asked getting up.

“ChungHo’s ticket”, Vernon replied his friend, “Coups, ChungHo bought a one-way ticket to Jakarta from Tokyo.”

“Someone used this ticket, and it wasn't ChungHo”, S.Coups replied running a hand through his hair, “We were in conference with one of his subordinates, but he was using a voice modifier.”

“Was the call recorded?”, The8 asked receiving a positive nod, “I can clear the audio.”

“It would be nice to have something to compare, since we may be dealing with someone we already know”, Joshua mused.

“But we have no way of knowing that. The8, try searching the database if we have any record of the voice you find”, Woozi asked seeing the Chinese nod quickly.

“What else did he say at the conference, Coups?”, Hoshi asked.

“It wasn't much, they just said that they had taken our agent, and that if we were really good we would find out where they were taking him and for what.”

“So it wasn't just any subordinate”, Joshua said promptly, “ChungHo said something similar to us on the plane. It must be the same person who used the ticket.”

“Okay, but who?!”

“Hm... Excuse me?”, Seungkwan said raising his hand, getting the attention of everyone in the room, “I have the result of the expertise on fingerprints on ChungHo's briefcase.”

“They're not that stupid. They must be just ChungHo's own prints.”

“Actually, there are two”, Seungkwan looked carefully at the information on the paper and read aloud, “ChungHo's fingerprints are here, but they also found another compatibility in the database. They are from Tao Khalan.”

“What?!”, Vernon asked loudly, and this time he looked irritated.

“That bastard!”, Hoshi clapped his hands on the table and hurried out of the room.

“It was just what I needed”, Coups closed his eyes and took a deep breath, “Woozi, please search everything in that briefcase and try to find some clue as soon as possible.”

“Leave it to me.”

“The8, I want you to clear the audio and see if it matches Khalan's voice.”

“Yes sir.”

“I have some calls to make. Anyone who can help you discover something, especially you Mingyu, do it immediately.”

Everyone nodded promptly and started moving around the room. Woozi asked Seungkwan and Mingyu to go with him to the evidence room to pick up the suitcase, and on the way, they saw Hoshi circling inside a room while talking on his cell phone.

The department's atmosphere had changed from water to wine in a matter of minutes.

“Welcome to your first mission, Kwan”, Mingyu squeezed Seungkwan's shoulder, and he looked scared.

“Thanks. I guess.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

 

Seungkwan searched Khalan's name carefully in one of the file drawers. He wanted to understand a little more about who was the man who had caused his colleagues’ instant anger.

“Need help?”, Woozi asked standing next to the newbie with ChungHo's files in hand.

“Don't need to. I'm almost... there! I found it!”, Seungkwan sighed in relief when he finally found Khalan's files, “Tao Khalan, filed in 2018. Right?”

“God knows how much we hated working on this case”, Woozi said seriously, staring at the files in Seungkwan's hands. Before the newbie could ask why, the leader shook his head and looked up, “I had prepared all the material for you today. My plans went down the drain.”

“I also did not expect to enter the case on my second day”, Seungkwan laughed an embarrassed while closing the drawer, “But okay, I can read your material at home.”

“You are very helpful, Seungkwan-ah”, Woozi smirked, leading him out of the room.

“I like to learn. And in this case I don't have much time, so I better get started.”

“Okay, you can read about Khalan's case to find out what we did. I will send you the material I prepared for you to read later”, Woozi pointed out walking calmly down the hall, “Today we are going to the gym only at the end of the day, I want to find as many clues as possible in this damn briefcase.”

“Mingyu said he will take me to the shooting training room later”, Seungkwan commented remembering his friend's words in the morning, “On second thought, now I understand why he always takes me to play paintball and target shooting.”

“He was already preparing you and you didn't even notice”, Woozi smiled as he opened the door of the room they were in, “List everything you think is important in Khalan's files. If you need help call me.”

“Yes sir”, Seungkwan nodded going to his desk at the back of the room, passing by The8 and Jun, both with the headset, “Are you already with the recording?”

“Yes. They used a first-class program to modify the voice”, The8 replied with a smirk, “Too bad they don't know me.”

“The8 I'm trusting your audition”, Woozi said at his desk across the room, “Did any field agent come back here after the meeting?”

“No, Joshua said they would go to the gym. Vernon looked very irritated.”

“I can imagine.”

Seungkwan just overheard that brief conversation in silence, opening Khalan's file on his desk and separating the photos first and then the written documents. It was a very large file and he concluded that it was a long and tiring case just because of the amount of information.

He pulled out the notebook and started to write down everything he thought was important, just as Woozi had told him to. That would be easier for him to understand and also to try to find any possible connection with ChungHo.

“Tao Khalan, 45, born in Sukkotai, Thailand.

He was arrested for the long criminal record that included assaults, murders, drug trafficking and rape.

It was he who ran one of the largest women trafficking operations in Asia.

The case became even more difficult in late 2017, when one of the government's special agents was kidnapped by the Khalan gang. The agent was arrested and tortured but completing the mission with life after the rescue made by the special Korean government organization.

Khalan was arrested in April 2018 at his home in Tokyo, Japan. Agents reported shooting with four dead and only one wounded officer.

Tao Khalan will serve 115 years in Fuchu prison, without resource or parole.”

Seungkwan listed everything impressed by Khalan's heavy record, wondering how anyone could reach that point in life. Leaving the pen on top of the notebook, he decided to look at the photos, now knowing the man's face.

He was light and had thick eyebrows, his lips were thin, and his eyes were dark. He was not a handsome man, in fact, he was exactly what Seungkwan expected from a bandit.

Again, that bad feeling came, but he shook his head to shake it off.

The next pictures were identical to the ones that Woozi and S.Coups showed at the meeting. A man tied to a chair with only a spotlight on his head, apparently injured and with his head down. Seungkwan narrowed his eyes trying to see who it was, but he couldn't identify the face.

He compared the photos to those taken from Sangwoo, and there was no difference between them other than the tied person. So that helped them a lot in their search for Sangwoo.

“It's okay, Junnie”, Seungkwan heard The8's voice and saw him smoothing Jun's hair. The second had his face in his hands and looked more dejected than the other agents since the meeting, “We will bring him back.”

“I know we will, I make a point of bringing him back”, Jun replied without looking up, “But I know what he's going through, and this is killing me.”

“I know that, but I need you to focus and don't let those memories come back”, The8 lowered the Chinese's hands and smiled lovingly, “You’re safe, and you’re with me. I don't want you to think about that again, okay?”

“I promise to try”, Jun tried to smile and felt his hands tighten.

“Why don't you go to the gym with Joshua and Vernon? So you can be distracted.”

“But I want to help you with the recording!”

“We have already managed to separate the lines and filter the voice. We have to wait for the database search now”, The8 took Jun's headset and left it on the table, “You already helped me a lot, you can go.”

Jun looked into The8's eyes for a few more seconds and nodded, then left the room. Seungkwan raised his eyebrows and looked again at the photographs in his hands, internally hoping that his assumption was wrong.

“The8?”

“Yes?”, The Chinese promptly diverted his attention from the computer.

“The agent kidnapped in 2017... Was Jun?”, Seungkwan asked seeing the Chinese press his lips, “That is why he’s shaken by Sangwoo.”

“It took us three days to find him”, The8 replied turning the chair, “I was a newbie, but I remember all of us spending almost twenty-four hours here trying to find some clue that would lead us to him.”

“He was destroyed  when we found him”, Woozi said at the back of the room. He had a magnifying glass in his hand as he looked at every inch of the suitcase's interior, “At that time, it was Sangwoo who rescued him.”

“That's why he said he makes a point of bringing him back”, The8 added in a sigh. Seungkwan could see the concern on the Chinese's face.

“Do you remember where you found him?”

“On an island in Japan, it's called Kyushu. It’s more than a thousand kilometers from Tokyo”, Woozi replied raising his head, “Why?”

“I think Sangwoo may be in the same place”, Seungkwan got up to hang the two pictures on the board, “See? There is no difference in the place where the photo was taken.”

“It looks like a déjà vu”, The8 got up putting on his glasses and using a magnifying glass to better see the details in the photos, “It really is the same place. If not, they are managing to outwit us at least.”

“How original”, Woozi laughed supporting his hands on the table, “The8 call Coups, let's see what he thinks about the fact that they probably lied to us about Jakarta. Good job, Seungkwan.”

“Thank you!”, Seungkwan smiled glad to know he was helping, “One more thing, I read in the file that Khalan was also a drug dealer. ChungHo was arrested for international drug trafficking, so what if they are working together?”

“ChungHo being responsible for business after the boss was arrested?”, The8 questioned thoughtfully, “Looks clear to me.”

“So, in fact the chief would be Khalan, and not the man we arrested”, Woozi raised his eyebrows and opened ChungHo's file, “The strange thing is that his name did not appear in the previous case.”

“No, but his brother did”, Mingyu said at the door, attracting the attention of the three, “Bon ChungHee, ChungHo's older brother, was arrested four years ago for illegal possession of weapons and drug trafficking in Ulsan, released with the bail payment and a lawyer agreement in 2018. He was part of the Khalan gang and was not found in Korea when we finished the operation, so his case was passed on to other operations in neighboring countries.”

“We haven't heard from him until today.”

“Not until now”, Mingyu approached to hand the file over to Woozi, “He was seen in Bangkok two days ago.”

“So ChungHo would be going to meet his brother in Thailand”, Seungkwan deduced noting on the white board, “But what's so interesting there?”

“That's what we'll find out”, Woozi closed the file, “Let's call Lisa, she must already know something by now.”

“I’m here! What did you find out?”, S.Coups asked entering the room with Hoshi. The second was still talking on his cell phone.

“First of all, Seungkwan was studying Khalan's case and realized that the photos of Jun and Sangwoo's kidnapping are identical”, Woozi showed the photos on the board and S.Coups shook his head, “So, if they're not trying to fool us, Sangwoo can be in the same place. Kyushu island.”

“So Sangwoo may not be in Jakarta as they said on the call?”

“Exactly.”

“Great. Hoshi study this information better and prepare your team. I don't want to take more than a day on this rescue, understand?”

“Yes, sir”, Hoshi replied, ending the call.

“What else?”

“Possibly we are working with something bigger than we thought, Coups”, Mingyu handed the file that was with Woozi to the leader.

“We are thinking about the hypothesis that ChungHo is not the main focus of this operation.”

“With Khalan on the radar, he automatically stops being the main focus.”

“Yes, but what if ChungHo is another of Khalan's employees? And that in fact he was just running everything because the boss was under arrest?”, The8 scored showing the notes on the board.

“Did his name appear in the last investigation?”, S.Coups asked opening the file in hand.

“No, but Mingyu found that his brother did.”

“Bon ChungHee”, S.Coups read the name and sighed, “This case will be longer than I expected.”

“ChungHee was seen in Bangkok two days ago. The same place that ChungHo would go too once he arrived in Busan”, Seungkwan completed.

“I thought about calling Lisa, see if she already has any information and to contact us.”

“Awesome. Do it!”, S.Coups agreed looking at all the agents in the room, “If it’s necessary to involve any more operations let me know. I can talk to the Jakarta team to stay tuned.”

“I don't think it's a good idea”, Mingyu pondered taking a pilot and drawing several points on the board, “I contacted the airline that sold ChungHo tickets, they said that a new purchase was made in his name. This time from Jakarta to Bangkok.”

“Bangkok will host a big event”, The8 laughed returning to his computer, “The search in the database is over. The voice on the recording is really from our dear Khalan.”

“So Khalan escaped from prison, went to Kyushu with Sangwoo, took the pictures and made the call for us”, Mingyu started to list the facts and raised his eyebrows confused, “But Kyushu is fourteen hours from Tokyo. He would have a lot of work to escape from prison, go to an island and then return to Tokyo.”

“He may have already made the call from Jakarta”, The8 thought, “He just ordered someone to be responsible for Sangwoo's kidnapping in Kyushu.”

“ChungHee”, Seungkwan replied, receiving a positive nod from the Chinese.

“I spoke with the official in Fuchu, he said that Khalan's escape is still a mystery inside the prison”, Hoshi said crossing his arms, “That's because it’s one of the strictest prisons in Japan.”

“He had help”, Seungkwan concluded, “Preferably intern.”

“Okay, we need to take it easy, or we will ruin everything”, S.Coups decided to scratch his head, “Mingyu, I want you to talk to Wonwoo. He's still in Tokyo so work with him to find out who helped him escape. I leave that to both of you, but if you need any more agents let me know.”

“Yes sir.”

“Hoshi, gather your team and find the best and fastest way to search for Sangwoo in Kyushu. I want at my table tomorrow who, how and when they will make the rescue. Call Jennie if necessary.”

“Got it!”, Hoshi nodded, picking up his cell phone again.

“Woozi, call Lisa and schedule a meeting for tomorrow at the first time in the morning. I want all my agents in the second-floor room to discuss together.”

“Leave it to me.”

“Great work guys! I will be in my office in case you need me or have any news”, S.Coups smiled and left the room, being followed by Hoshi and Mingyu.

“Okay!”, Woozi clapped his hands attracting the attention of the two remaining agents in the room, “Let's start to list everything we have again. The8, can you get a new white board? This has already become a mess.”

“Sure, I'll be right back.”

“Seungkwan, come here please”, Woozi asked returning to his table and taking a small plastic bag, “I need you to take this to Jisoo and Rosé in the lab.”

“Is that a nail?”, Seungkwan asked taking the plastic bag.

“A piece of nail”, Woozi shook his head taking off the rubber gloves, “I want to know who was the pig that chewed it and threw it into the suitcase.”

“I hope it is from someone we already know in this case”, Seungkwan joked seeing his leader nod tired, “I'll be right back.”

“I'll call Lisa, then we'll fix all this and go to the gym”, Woozi said looking at his watch and Seungkwan nodded before leaving the room.

Seungkwan looked at the plastic bag again and made a disgusted face, walking down the corridors to the forensics laboratory. He made sure to pay double attention when he went with The8 in the morning to the lab, so he would have no problems when he needed something.

As expected, the laboratory door was open and he could see Jisoo under the microscope and Rosé sitting on one of the benches, writing down everything the older one said. He knocked twice on the glass door, drawing the blond-haired woman's attention.

“It's the newbie again!”, Rosé smiled leaving the pen on the counter. Seungkwan smiled at her.

“Hello again!”

“Did they send you here twice in less than twelve hours on your second day?”, Jisoo asked amused.

“Yeah, I'm surprised too”, Seungkwan laughed approaching the bench, “But it's urgent, the case is getting more complex than they had anticipated.”

“Still about ChungHo?”

“Yes”, Seungkwan showed the plastic bag, “Woozi found this piece of nail in the suitcase. We need to know whose it is.”

“I don't think it's ChungHo's”, Jisoo said taking the plastic bag to see up close, “Inside the suitcase we found a type of white powder, but it's not cocaine. We are trying to find out what it is.”

“Do you think it might be related to that nail?”

“That's what we'll find out”, Rosé smiled, resting her arms on the bench, “Tomorrow afternoon we will have the results and I will take them to you.”

“Okay, thank you girls. Have a nice day!”, Seungkwan smiled and waved to the two women before leaving the laboratory.

“What do you think, Rosie?”, Jisoo asked the youngest who made a face.

“My gaydar exploded here!”, Rosé replied making Jisoo laugh out loud, “What would be the prerequisite to be hired on the Coups team?”

“I think just that”, Jisoo said still laughing, “But I liked him.”

“He's cute! More polite than many people in here”, Rosé sighed and returned to sit next to the older one, “’Shall we continue?”

“Let's go.”

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

“Harder!”, The8 shouted holding the sandbag that Seungkwan was punching, “One more time. Harder!”

“Have you fought before, Seungkwan?”, Woozi asked, standing next to the two with a small bottle of water.

“I did Muay Thai class when I was a teenager”, Seungkwan replied kicking the sandbag, “I had problems with my weight, so my dad enrolled me in a gym. I was 8 years old.”

“Interesting”, Woozi nodded surprised, “The8 has been fighting Wushu since he was 5 years old. He always teaches us some scam that can be useful.”

“Wushu?”, Seungkwan asked, gasping.

“Kung Fu”, The8 answered simple, “How is your reflection?”

“I think-”

“Kwan thinks fast!”

Mingyu shouted at the gym door, throwing a rubber ball towards the youngest. Seungkwan was startled by the scream but managed to hold the rubber ball before it hit his face. The two agents looked at Mingyu with a happy smile on his face.

“What are you doing, Mingyu?!”

“Answering The8's question”, Mingyu shrugged as he approached.

“I was a goalkeeper in high school”, Seungkwan said throwing the ball back to Mingyu, “So I think my reflex is very good.”

“Great. It will be easy to train you”, The8 smiled amused, “Easier than Mingyu at least.”

“I was a great student!”

“Clumsy, but it went well”, Woozi laughed going to the iron bars.

“We still have a few minutes here, do you want to train with us?”, The8 asked pushing the sandbag back.

“I already trained today, I'll just wait for you to finish”, Mingyu replied sitting on the floor.

“Did you talk to Wonwoo?”

“Yes, he said it is crazy in Tokyo”, Mingyu laughed hugging his legs, “Tomorrow I will have a meeting with him and the person responsible for Fuchu. Cannot wait.”

“For your excited voice, even I want to participate”, Woozi laughed in the back of the gym.

“I think we're dealing with something bigger than we thought”, Mingyu said thoughtfully, “I just hope that no one ends up hurt like the last time Khalan was involved.”

“Let's think positive, Mingyu”, The8 said helping Seungkwan with his posture in front of the big mirror of the academy, “We are smarter and more prepared than the last time we dealt with Khalan. Will be all right.”

“It's what I expect.”

Mingyu sat watching The8 teach some basic fundamentals to Seungkwan, who seemed more focused than ever, paying attention and repeating everything the Chinese told him.

Mingyu was very proud of how Seungkwan was handling everything. He more than anyone knew what his best friend had been through in the past two years. The death of the father and soon after the accident that left Chan with a paralysis in the legs, the same in which he blamed himself for the suffering of the younger brother.

He knew that Seungkwan needed to be distracted, think of other things that were not negative and bad for himself, and seeing him socialize so well with his friends at work left him with the feeling that his duty was being done.

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

Incheon, South Korea.

9:05 PM.

 

At nine in the evening Seungkwan came home, taking off his shoes at the entrance and sighing with relief. His hands and arms were bothersome, heavy and tired. The first day of training with The8 and the shooting class with Mingyu were the explanation for that discomfort, but nothing that a hot shower and proper rest would not help to improve.

And he really should rest well, considering that the next day would be even more crowded than what was already ending.

“Here's the daisy!”, Seokmin hummed when he saw his brother, grimacing with a tired expression, “A withered daisy.”

“Almost dead”, Seungkwan teased messing up Chan's hair and throwing himself on the couch next to his older brother.

“You have a strange smell”, Chan turned his attention away from the notebook in his lap with a curious expression.

“I was at the gym with Mingyu. I came straight home, so I haven't showered yet.”

That was a lie since he had showered in the locker room after training at the gym. The smell on his clothes was of burning powder because of the several shots fired not only by him, but by the two agents who were in the room practicing.

“Disgusting.”

“I am.”

“No, you’re not”, Seokmin laughed, kicking his brother's leg, “Go take a shower. Did you eat something? There are leftovers in the fridge.”

“I haven't eaten yet”, Seungkwan got up already opening some buttons of his shirt, “I'm going to take a shower and I'll be right back.”

“Hyung, before you go, what is the square root of 256?”

“16.”

“Lee Chan!”

Seungkwan laughed in the hall, listening to Seokmin complain once again about Chan having to learn to solve his own math homework. Seungkwan has always had a higher intellectual level than the brothers, so even though he is in the middle, he helps Chan with the duties he has difficulty with.

During the bath he allowed himself to think about everything that happened that day, from breakfast with his new colleagues to shooting class with Mingyu. More than half of the things that happened have completely escaped his control and exceeded his expectations.

As Mingyu told him, any newbie would freak out with everything that happened. But he was not just any newbie.

Thinking of Mingyu automatically made him think of Vernon. The agent was also practicing after-hours shooting, but he only said four words in the three hours they remained in the room.

‘Hello’ and ‘see you tomorrow’.

Seungkwan had no idea what it was yet, but something about Vernon caught his eye. Perhaps the serious way, or the fact that he always remains silent and only speaks when he feels it is necessary, or else the intense way that faced him.

Yes, he noticed all the agent's looks while he was practicing, but he didn't say anything, just stared back at him now and then. It was as if Vernon was analyzing him, trying to find out who Seungkwan was without having to ask questions.

Mingyu told him that Vernon has been like that since he joined the organization. The only agent who achieved more than formal contact with him was Joshua. Mingyu thinks it's because they are both Americans, so it must have made him more comfortable with the older one.

Vernon intrigued Seungkwan, and that made him believe that the case they were working on would not be the only one for him.

“I told you not to wash your hair so late, Seungkwan”, Seokmin said leaning against the door of his brother's room shortly after he left the bathroom.

“I was so tired I didn't even notice it when I turned on the shower”, Seungkwan replied simply, leaving the towel around his neck to get dressed, “How was your day?”

“It was good, I got home on time today”, Seokmin entered the room, sitting on the end of the bed, “And yours? Overtime on the second day?”

“Not exactly”, Seungkwan turned to the mirror, trying not to look at his brother while making up a lie, “I actually left on time, but went to the gym with Mingyu after hours. We lost track of time a little.”

“Got it”, Seokmin nodded, “Where did Mingyu get you a job?”

“Did I not comment with you?”

“No.”

“Hm...”, Seungkwan looked at the reflection in the mirror, so he managed to think of something fast, “Mingyu works at a law firm. I’m going to work as an assistant for some lawyers, and they have a big case so maybe I’ll be late for dinner a few times.”

“Law office?”, Seokmin asked curiously, receiving a positive nod from his brother, “Okay... Okay then.”

“Why the question?”

“I just want to know what my brother is doing around late at night.”

“Still suspecting that Mingyu is getting me in trouble?”, Seungkwan asked wearing a loose T-shirt.

“I didn’t say that.”

“But that's what you think”, Seungkwan sighed, turning to face his older brother, “Hyung, it's okay. I'm not doing anything wrong, okay? Trust me.”

“I trust you, Kwan”, The older one stood up and took Seungkwan's shoulders, letting out a tired sigh, “I just...”

“You worry too much. I know that”, Seungkwan smiled, getting a hand ruffling his wet hair, “Don't worry, hyung.”

“Impossible not to worry when I have you and Chan as younger brothers.”

“You are the one who gets in the most trouble between the three of us!”, Seungkwan pushed his brother's shoulders while laughing.

“But I'm still the oldest!”, Seokmin laughed pushing him back, “Just be careful, okay?”

“Always, Seok.”

“Okay, we're done talking. I heated up your dinner.”

“I'll dry my hair and I'll be back in the living room.”

Seokmin nodded and looked again in the youngest eyes before leaving the room. Seungkwan took a deep breath and shook his head, feeling heavy for having lied to Seokmin, but for now he would have no alternative.

He just hopes to keep that lie long enough.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

8:00 PM.

 

The second-floor meeting room was full as early as eight in the morning, with all agents talking to each other to try to keep the room less tense as possible. The only one who was not participating in any conversation and just staring at the table was Jun, and from the tired expression Seungkwan could tell that he had a rough night.

The8 was standing next to the older one, holding one of his hands as if it were giving him confidence and showing that he was there. Seungkwan looked closely at everyone at that table, realizing how different and authentic each one there was, and that impressed him even more.

Seungkwan opened his notebook, noting the date of the day and getting everything ready for the meeting in a few minutes. In front of him Mingyu typed frantically on his cell phone and occasionally smiled, and this attitude made him narrow his eyes at his friend. Mingyu was a very cheerful and smiling person, but he was not the type to smile at anything.

“You are always like this?”

That thick voice woke Seungkwan out of his thoughts, making him turn and meet Vernon's curious eyes at his side. He was wearing a black shirt that day, and his hair was perfectly neat as always.

That made Seungkwan blink a few times before he answered.

“Like what?”

“Ready”, Vernon looked at the notebook, “Only you and Woozi have notebooks here.”

“Well, it's an important meeting. I need to make some notes to not get lost”, Seungkwan replied turning the pen on his fingers. Vernon nodded and leaned back in his chair.

“Got it.”

That was it. That was his morning conversation with Vernon that third day.

Seungkwan even thought about saying something else, but S.Coups entered the room and automatically all the voices stopped.

“Good morning, boys”, S.Coups said sitting in his usual chair at the end of the table. Everyone answered in unison, and he put on his glasses, “Can we start?”

“I'll call Lisa, she must be waiting by now.”

Woozi took the notebook and soon the image of a well-dressed blonde woman appeared on the big television in the living room. Seungkwan was surprised at how young and beautiful the woman was, especially when she smiled and waved to everyone in the room.

“Good morning, boys!”

Good morning, Lisa!”, Everyone responded together and Seungkwan could see a smile on everyone's face. Which indicated that she was well liked among everyone there.

“I know it's still early in Thailand, but we needed to talk to you as soon as possible”, S.Coups said in a softer tone than the day before.

“Don't worry about it, Coups. After the little guy called me yesterday and said what was going on I couldn't even sleep properly”, Lisa laughed looking at Woozi who had a grimace on his face.

“So, there are two of us”, S.Coups smiled leaning back in his chair, “What do we have so far?”

“Woozi told me that ChungHee was seen here two days ago, and believe me I was more surprised than you guys.”

“Nobody communicated you about it?”, Woozi asked raising his eyebrows surprised when the woman denied, “Oh... That's a surprise.”

“It’s okay, those responsible have heard enough”, Lisa broke into a smile that made Seungkwan think of the scold they had taken from that woman the day before, “I went out looking for as much information as I could, so please prepare the pens for write this down.”

“Okay. What do you have?”

“Nothing.”

“What?”, The8 asked confused.

“Nothing?”, S.Coups asked receiving a positive nod, “What do you mean, Lisa?”

“I didn't find anything connected to him around here”, Lisa huffed frustrated, “Nothing criminal in this case. The only thing I got was the hotel where he is staying and, apparently, he came for a tour. But since I’m not Santa Claus, I know that he came to take my city.”

“Ah that's a certainty!”, Hoshi laughed.

“Now I’m hoping you have something better than I have.”

“We only have what I said over the phone”, Woozi started picking up his file, “ChungHo would be going to Bangkok, and it seems that he would meet ChungHee. Mingyu found two tickets purchased in the name of ChungHo, and one of them was used by Khalan.”

“That bastard again!”, Lisa rolled her eyes, “Have you found out how he ran away from Fuchu?”

“We are trying. I will have a meeting with Wonwoo and the person in charge of the prison this afternoon”, Mingyu replied simply, “We are suspicious of internal help.”

“Don't trust the Fuchu cops, Mingyu. They are cruel!”, Lisa said seriously, “Believe me, that prison is reputed to be one of the cruelest in Japan. Be careful with who you are talking to and where you are going.”

“Yes ma'am!”, Mingyu smiled shaking his head.

“Lisa, everything indicates that Khalan should arrive in Thailand soon”, S.Coups drew attention again, “I need you to put your best team in this case. We will have to work together again.”

“To our joy, isn't it?”, Lisa smiled happily, “I'll start looking for information about what is so important that will happen here. If you can send me his flight information, I would appreciate it.”

“I'll send you everything as soon as I get back to the office”, The8 raised his hand.

“I need you to work with the intelligence team, Lisa. The field team has an important mission now.”

“I heard about Sangwoo”, Lisa said quietly, “I hope you can get him alive.”

“We'll make it, don't worry!”, Hoshi said confidently.

“Okay boys, I need to go. As soon as I find out something I will inform you.”

“Okay, thanks Lisa!”, S.Coups smiled, and everyone said goodbye to Lisa before the call ended, “The good thing is that we know as much as she does.”

“I didn't want to be in the pants of those responsible who didn't inform her about ChungHee”, Woozi laughed collecting his things.

“Well remembered”, S.Coups waved his arms and supported them on the table, “Hoshi, do you have everything I asked you yesterday?”

“Yes, sir!”, Hoshi nodded opening his file, “I already spoke with Jennie, and she got us a helicopter and we are going today in the late afternoon. Since the island is just over an hour from here, so if my calculations are correct, we will be back before midnight.”

“Do your calculations include contingencies?”

“Always, and you know it.”

“Okay. Does your whole team go with you?”

“Not all of them”, Hoshi replied looking closely at his agents who now had a confused look, “Jun you stay here in this one.”

“What?!”, Jun asked surprised. It was the first time he had demonstrated since they entered the room.

“You stay”, Hoshi replied seriously.

“Why?!”

“You clearly are not in a position to accompany us now.”

“Bullshit!”, Jun snorted angrily, “I will, and I will bring him back! I didn't even sleep well thinking about it!”

“One more reason for you not to go.”

“You will not stop me from saving my friend, Hoshi!”, Jun got up angrily.

“Moon Junhui!”, Hoshi shouted also getting up, scaring everyone in the room, “Don't forget that I'm still your leader, so control your tone!”

“But-”

“I already said you won't go!”, Hoshi repeated supporting his hands on the table, “You are emotionally shaken and not focused. This can ruin everything, and I don't want to possibly lose two agents, do you understand?”

Hoshi was right and everyone there knew it, but to see Jun angry at not being able to do anything was painful. The two held their gaze for a few more seconds until Jun snorted and walked away.

“Good then!”, Jun replied leaving the room with heavy steps and Hoshi sat down again.

“Go talk to him, please”, Woozi asked and The8 nodded, leaving the room behind the eldest.

“Believe me, it hurts me to do this, but I can't risk taking him right now”, Hoshi said in his usual soft tone again.

“I understand you, and I don't take your reason”, S.Coups nodded, squeezing the agent's shoulder, “So you will only take Joshua and Vernon?”

“No. Mingyu, you come with us this time.”

“Yes, leader.”

“Coups, Seungkwan and I are going back to the office. We have more to study”, Woozi said getting up, receiving only a positive nod from the leader.

Seungkwan followed him to the intelligence room, still surprised by Jun and Hoshi's discussion. To immediately see the two most cheerful and smiling agents on that team arguing was not a common thing to imagine.

“Don't mind this”, Woozi said as soon as they arrived in the office, “Hoshi is very serious and professional when it comes to field operations.”

“I just... I was surprised”, Seungkwan replied, receiving a small smile from his leader.

“Me too, but don't worry. They are both too soft so by lunch they will have made up.”

Seungkwan nodded and went to his desk, going back to his job of finding out as much as possible about ChungHo's brother. There weren't many records about ChungHee, just the ones he already knew about.

ChungHee was three years older than ChungHo and apparently has been well hidden for the past two years. As much as his criminal record is not as heavy as Khalan's, just the fact that he was one of his subordinates already made his sentence increase by at least twenty years.

“Hey Seungkwan-ah”, Woozi called getting the attention of the youngest, “I’m going to the cafeteria to buy our breakfast. Can you take a look at this while I'm not coming back?”

“What is it?”, Seungkwan asked taking the pen drive in his hands.

“This pen drive was in the suitcase, and from what I could see it has information about ChungHo's trip to Busan. List everything you think is important, let's see if we take a step forward or two backwards.”

“Okay, leave it to me”, Seungkwan nodded and Woozi smiled at him before leaving the room.

Seungkwan kept ChungHee's file and took out his notebook to write down everything he found. He speared the USB stick on the computer and waited for the information to be loaded.

“Okay let's see”, Seungkwan snapped his neck and leaned back in his chair, “Hm... ‘Package from Busan’. This can be interesting.”

“Do you talk to yourself?”, The8 asked as he entered the room, laughing when he saw the newbie jump in his chair.

Yah! Don’t do that!”, Seungkwan threw the closest pen he found. The Chinese dodged the object without difficulty and threw himself in his chair, rolling over to where the youngest was.

“You were so focused that you didn't even hear me coming in. I couldn't miss the opportunity”, The8 replied simply, ruffling the blond hair of the youngest who just winced in response, “Where's Woozi?”

“In the cafeteria buying our coffee.”

“Oh, that's good. I need to drink something warm to stay awake.”

“You look tired”, Seungkwan commented seeing the dark circles of the Chinese eyes, “Busy night?”

“Not the way I wanted”, The8 let out a nasal laugh, taking off his glasses to clean them, “Jun had nightmares during the night, so I spent much of it awake with him.”

“Because of Sangwoo”, Seungkwan concluded, receiving a positive nod in response, “Did you talk to him?”

“Yes, he's at the gym punching the sandbag right now”, The8 laughed putting his glasses back on, “He was really annoyed that he couldn't go with the team on the operation, but then he understood what Hoshi meant.”

“Woozi said that the two are too soft”, Seungkwan laughed, being accompanied by the Chinese.

“Too much! After the anger passed, Jun was pacing back and forth worried that he had been very disrespectful to Hoshi.”

“Jun is a good person. I like him.”

“Me too”, The8 smiled and looked at the computer screen, “What are you doing?”

“Woozi found this pen drive in the briefcase. There are not many folders but look at this one”, Seungkwan showed the folder he was looking at before.

“They look like e-mail prints.”

“He likes to keep vouchers”, The youngest joked opening the most recent image, “Looks like he was ordering something.”

“Let's find out what it is”, The8 moved closer to the screen, “Is he expecting something from someone called... Minoru?”

“That's right. He placed the order three days ago and said he would have someone pick it up on his behalf.”

“As he’s unavailable to choose, we will withdraw for him”, The8 smiled returning to his table, “Minoru sent a meeting point?”

“He sent some coordinates, look”, Seungkwan showed the coordinates to the Chinese who started typing something on the computer.

“Okay... These coordinates are showing some kind of bar in Busan”, The8 replied, raising his eyebrows, “It seems to be a nightclub or something like that.”

“What kind of order did he place at a nightclub?”

“It must be some point of trafficking”, The8 shrugged his shoulders, “When did he receive that email?”

“Four days ago.”

“Let's see if this Minoru answered”, The8 opened the drawer and took out a cellphone, “ChungHo's cellphone is still with me, so let's take the time now to look for what we want.”

“You are very good with these things”, Seungkwan said interested, getting closer to the Chinese.

“I can teach you some tricks if you want.”

“You could teach Hoshi”, Woozi said entering the room with the orders he had placed in the cafeteria, “He is out there suffering with one of the devices that they will take in today's operation.”

“Hoshi looks cute when he can't do something”, The8 laughed and Seungkwan accompanied him when he saw the leader make a face.

“Never repeat that again”, Woozi asked leaving the orders on the table and pulling his chair closer to the agents, “Did you find something?”

“On the pen drive there were some prints of e-mail from ChungHo with a man named Minoru. ChungHo ordered something and The8 has his cell phone to see if he received an answer”, Seungkwan replied taking his coffee cup, “Thank you.”

“Okay. And where should he find this Minoru?”, Woozi asked taking some coffee.

“A nightclub in Busan.”

“It’s not a good thing then.”

“For him, yes”, The8 said looking at the cell phone, “ChungHo received an email yesterday from Minoru. His order has arrived and is ready to be withdrawn.”

“What's his full name?”, Seungkwan asked returning to his table.

“Sho Minoru.”

“Wait a minute”, Seungkwan searched the name in the database and waited for the search to be completed, “He has a police record. Aggression, illegal possession of weapons and was caught last year with two pounds of cocaine in the car.”

“A great man to do business with”, Woozi joked returning to his desk, “Okay, make a report and after they bring Sangwoo we will talk to Coups about it. And eat before the coffee gets cold.”

“Yes, sir.”

The two agents responded and sat down again to write down everything they could find. The8 handed ChungHo's cell phone to Woozi, as the leader said he would study the way the emails were sent so that he could pass through ChungHo without generating suspicion afterwards.

Seungkwan was excited, but the fact that he found something new and different names all the time worried him a little. He just expects Minoru to be the least of the problems now.

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

“Joshua, your cell phone is ringing!”, Vernon said, extending the phone to his friend who was just putting on his vest.

Damn it!”, Joshua hit his own forehead when he saw Jeonghan's name on the screen, “I forgot to call him.”

“Good luck then”, Vernon laughed seeing his friend sigh before answering and walking away.

“Hi Hannie!”

“Hi Soo!”, Jeonghan said in his sweet voice and Joshua felt even more guilty, “I'm leaving the set now. Are you still in the office?”

“Yes, I am”, Joshua said leaning against the cabinets, “And I'm not leaving here anytime soon, Hannie.”

“Problems again?”

“Kind off. Sorry I didn't call before.”

“It’s okay, don't worry!”, Jeonghan laughed nonchalantly, “Do you have any idea what time is going out?”

“No, but it will be too late.”

“So that means you won't be sleeping with me today?”, That question made Joshua smile.

“Jeonghan, don't do this.”

“Jisoo, this is your fault! You got me used to sleeping next to you, so handle the consequences.”

“How do you manage to be older than me and do drama as if you were a child?”

“Jisoo-ah!”, Jeonghan grunted, smiling when he heard his boyfriend sigh. He knew he was getting what he wanted, “Come and sleep with me today. Please?”

“But it will be late, Hannie. I will disturb your sleep.”

“No problem. I don't record tomorrow, so you can come anytime.”

“Damn it, Jeonghan!” Joshua grunted, listening to his boyfriend's laugh, “I need to learn how to say no to you.”

“No need. So are you coming?”

“Yes, I will” Joshua replied defeated, “I'll call you when I arrive.”

“I will be waiting for you with tea and massage oil because I know you will arrive tense and tired”, Jeonghan said contentedly and Joshua smiled, feeling lucky to have a caring boyfriend.

“Thank you, Hannie. I need to go, see you later.”

“It's all right. Good job, Soo.”

Joshua ended the call and smiled silly at his cell phone. He was so in love with Jeonghan that moments like this made him happy, but guilty at the same time.

He needed to tell Jeonghan the whole truth before it was too late.

“Oh Hannie!”, Mingyu scoffed hitting Joshua on the arm, “Hannie, don't do that!”

“Go get yourself a boyfriend, Mingyu”, Joshua rolled his eyes as he put his cell phone away.

“To be cheesy just like you when you talk to Jeonghan? No thank you.”

“I'm not cheesy!”

“Yes, you are”, Vernon said, tying his boots, “It actually makes me sick.”

“You say that because you have no feelings, Vernon.”

“That's not true”, Vernon replied, staring at his friends for a few seconds before getting up and fastening his vest.

“This is new, Shua!”, Mingyu said surprised.

“What happened, Vernon?”

“Why would something has happened?”, Vernon asked casually, listening to voices inside the room and thanking him internally for it.

“So just press here when you put the glasses on”, The8 said showing the equipment to Hoshi who seemed focused on learning.

“Like this?”, Hoshi asked putting on his glasses and pressing where the Chinese had shown.

Soon the lenses changed, and he was able to have a perfect aim and even a heat sensor and night vision. Hoshi jumped in fright and soon started laughing, looking like a child excited about the new toy.

“Wow! This is really cool!”, Hoshi said excitedly, looking at his hands, “Look at this! The8, why didn't anyone give this to me before?”

“Exactly because of this!”, The8 said bored taking the glasses back, “Be careful and use this only when you arrive in Kyushu.”

“Okay, but let me see it again?”

“No!”

“It's always like that?”, Seungkwan asked stopping beside Mingyu, laughing at the two agents.

“All the time”, Mingyu laughed looking at the youngest and seeing the towel around his neck, “Were you at the gym?”

“Yes. I was going to the locker room, but The8 called me to accompany him.”

“And how is the training with him going?”

“Hard, but I think I'm doing well.”

“How nice! Will you stay here, or will you go home?”

“I'll stay. And yes, I already told Seokmin”, Seungkwan said when he saw that the friend was about to ask.

“Good boy!”, Mingyu ruffled his blond hair, receiving an angry growl from the youngest, “What did you think of my uniform?”

“You look good”, Seungkwan looked at the friend's name written on the vest, “But since I don't want to inflate your ego I will just say that you are presentable.”

“Thanks, Kwan”, Mingyu ended up laughing, opening his closet to get his gun.

“Don't forget to get an extra bullet comb, Mingyu”, Vernon said and only then did Seungkwan notice his presence.

Seungkwan looked him up and down, arching his eyebrows impressed by what he was seeing. Vernon wore the same black suit as Mingyu, and his always perfectly styled hair was now messed up and falling forward, almost covering his brown eyes.

Vernon could feel that someone was staring at him, but he did not take his eyes off the holster he was trying to clip onto his leg. He scolded himself internally for putting the vest on first, since it was getting in the way.

“I will help you.”

Vernon heard Seungkwan's voice closer and soon his hands were replaced by the boy’s hands. He stared at the newbie in surprise, seeing the holster being properly secured without problems.

“Here you go”, Seungkwan stood up and smiled at the agent.

“Thank you”, Vernon cleared his throat and looked away from Seungkwan's quickly.

Vernon didn't know what it was, but Seungkwan's eyes made him nervous. It was as if they could decipher him, and that was what he least wanted at the moment.

“Boys!”, Hoshi shouted calling everyone's attention, “Are you all ready?”

“Yes!”, The field agents responded by getting closer to the leader.

“Great. Here is your communicator, so put it to your ear and test it please”, Hoshi handed a communicator to the three agents and put one in his ear, “Do you hear me?”

“No need to shout!”, Joshua grumbled, taking the communicator out of his ear.

“I’m sorry. Well, Jennie is waiting for us on the terrace with the helicopter. Our equipment is already with her, and we can leave right now. Does anyone have any questions about our operation?”

All agents denied it and Seungkwan stood by The8 watching the four check to see if they had taken everything so they could go. Jun was leaning against the door with his arms crossed, watching the movement in silence. His expression was calm, different from the morning, which Seungkwan thanked internally.

“Okay guys, let’s go!”, Hoshi shouted pointing to the door, “We have a friend to rescue!”

“See you later, Kwan”, Mingyu smiled.

“Be careful”, Seungkwan waved and found Vernon's eyes staring at him, “You too, Vernon.”

“Thank you, Seungkwan”, Vernon replied even though surprised by the words of the newbie.

“Good to know that I don't exist!”, Joshua shouted from the door, making Seungkwan roll his eyes.

“You were away, Shua hyung!”, Seungkwan shouted back, laughing at the agent's dramatic expression.

“Hey Jun-ah”, Hoshi said cautiously stopping next to the Chinese, “I hope you're not mad at me.”

“I'm not mad, Hoshi. I understand and respect your decision”, Jun smiled uncrossing his arms, “Sorry to have yelled at you.”

“It’s okay, I yelled too, so we're even”, Hoshi smiled and reached out to shake the Chinese man's, “I'm going. See you here later, right?”

“Sure. Good luck!”, Jun waved to the leader and his friends when they entered the elevator towards the terrace.

“Gays!”, Woozi said in the corridor and only then the three noticed the presence of the little guy, “Are you hungry? Coups is going to order pizza since we're staying here. Enjoy that he will pay this time.”

“I need a shower first”, Seungkwan said holding his towel.

“Me too”, The8 turned to Jun, holding his hand, “Are you ok?”

“Yes. I'll wait for you in the video room with Woozi and Coups.”

“Come on, softie!”

“Don't forget that I'm taller than you and I can hold you by the heel without any difficulty”, Jun said and Woozi pulled him by the arm.

“You look good today, Jun-ah! You know that?”

Seungkwan laughed at both of them as he went to the locker room with The8. The field team left the building ahead of schedule, so in just over an hour they would be in Kyushu.

 And now they just had to wait.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

10:45 PM.

 

Jennie had contacted the rest of the team an hour ago, saying that they managed to rescue Sangwoo alive and that no agents were seriously injured. That means there was a confrontation, so The8 and Seungkwan went to get the first aid kits for possible injuries.

Seungkwan was surprised to see that inside that department there was an infirmary for such cases. They left one of the nurses on duty warned, so they've already left a separate stretcher to examine Sangwoo's condition.

“I think that's enough. Jennie said that no one was seriously injured”, Seungkwan said holding the two kits.

“Okay, let's go back”, The8 grabbed a blanket and locked the room again, “They must be coming soon.”

“Hoshi was right in the calculations”, Seungkwan joked seeing the Chinese roll his eyes.

“He hardly misses. That is why he was promoted to field leader.”

“I hope to go on a mission with him one day.”

“Don't say that around him or else he'll want to recruit you for his team”, The8 laughed amused.

“I'm fine with intelligence at the moment, thank you.”

“We are better, I know”, The8 blinked entering the equipment room where they were waiting for the others to return.

“Jun really blacked out”, Seungkwan said leaving the kits on the table and looking at the agent who slept in a chair.

“He was exhausted”, The8 covered him with the blanket and smiled, “I won't even mock the fact that he is snoring this time.”

“I mock for you”, Seungkwan shrugged sitting at the table, “How long have you been together?”

“We completed two years at the beginning of the year”, The8 replied running his fingers through the brown hair that covered Jun's eyes, “We’ve been living together for five months.”

“Did you meet right here?”

“Jun has more time here than I do, and since I'm also a Chinese Coups thought it would be a good idea to let him be my mentor for the first week.”

“Didn't you get along?”

“I almost hit him on the first day”, The8 replied and Seungkwan laughed, “He was so annoying, he didn't stay still and flirted whenever he could.”

“Totally your type”, Seungkwan joked still laughing.

“After a few weeks I had a fight with him about it, but he was insistent”, The8 rolled his eyes, “But he changed, he stopped being so annoying and the flirt stopped.”

“And then you started falling for him as the script says.”

“Yes, but then he was kidnapped”, The Chinese's tone was serious now. Seungkwan saw him rub his thumb over the small scar that Jun had on his chin, “I promised him that when we brought him back, I would go out with him. And here we are.”

“It's a beautiful story. Not very common because of the kidnapping, but still pretty”, Seungkwan said receiving a smile from the Chinese.

“Thanks. But what about you and Mingyu?”

“What do you mean?”

“When did you have something?”, The8 asked sitting next to Jun and crossing his legs casually.

“But we don't-”

“Oh, please don't even try, Seungkwan-ah!”, The8 cut him with an amused smile, “I already suspected, but after you said that you are still friends with your ex, I put everything together.”

“There is no way to deceive someone from the intelligence”, Seungkwan grunted seeing the Chinese wink at him with a smug smile, “Mingyu and I have known each other since we were five years old, so we had our first experiences with each other.”

“That includes...?”

“…Yes”, Seungkwan replied embarrassed seeing the Chinese laugh, “What is it?”

“Nothing. It's just... Mingyu is really tall, you know?”

“The adage is real”, Seungkwan replied quietly, not taking it and laughing with the Chinese, “Anyway! We even dated for a few months during the first year of college, but we realized that we are better off as just friends.”

“A feather. You would make a beautiful couple”, The8 shook his shoulders, “And your chemistry is great.”

“I know, but just the thought of seeing Mingyu naked in my bed again makes me laugh”, Seungkwan laughed shaking his head, listening to The8 and now Jun's laughter.

“I knew it!”, Jun laughed sleepily, opening his eyes slowly, “I'll mock Mingyu the next time he appears naked in the locker room.”

“Mingyu has a very strong self-love, so good luck.”

“I have too”, Jun shrugged as if that was nothing.

“They’re here!”, Woozi shouted from the hall, making the three get up quickly.

“Here Hoshi!”

Coups' thick voice was present and soon he entered the room with Hoshi and Joshua carrying Sangwoo. Jun helped them put Sangwoo on the chair he was on and held his shoulders so he wouldn't fall.

“Woozi, go and call Jeongyeon please”, S.Coups asked, bending down in front of Sangwoo, “Hey friend, you can open your eyes. You're home now.”

“I still need a few minutes, man”, Sangwoo laughed weakly and shook his head.

“They drugged him”, Hoshi said and only then Seungkwan saw his bruised face and messy hair, “He was knocked out when we rescued him. Woke up on the way back.”

“You will spend the night here. You'll feel better in the morning”, S.Coups smiled squeezing Sangwoo's shoulder before getting up, “Perfect operation guys! Congratulations to all of you!”

“Yeah!”, Hoshi shouted excitedly clapping his hands, “Another mission completed successfully, team! Take care of the injuries, change clothes and go home. You deserve a rest.”

“I have a boyfriend with tea and a massage waiting for me. So, excuse me”, Joshua said going straight to his locker to change. He didn't seem to have any visible injuries like Hoshi.

“Good night”, A female voice said and soon Jeongyeon stopped beside Sangwoo, “Is he conscious?”

“For now, yes”, Sangwoo replied trying to get up.

“You can't walk by yourself just yet”, Jeongyeon grabbed the agent's shoulders, “Boys, can you help me take him to the infirmary?”

“Sure. Come on Jun”, Woozi asked holding one of Sangwoo's arms and together they followed the nurse.

“Hey, can you help me here?”, Mingyu asked standing next to Seungkwan holding his right hand.

“What happened?”, Seungkwan pulled him to the table where the first aid kits were, “Mingyu-ah! It's bleeding.”

“I cut my hand in the confront”, Mingyu replied with a grimace as he opened his hand, showing the cut on his palm, “One of them had a very sharp knife.”

“I can see that”, Seungkwan started to clean the blood, hitting his friend on the back of the head when he tried to close his hand, “Be quiet Mingyu!”

“It burns!”

“Crybaby!”, Seungkwan mocked spreading the anti-inflammatory and starting to bandage his friend's hand, “Did you just hurt your hand?”

“Yes”, Mingyu replied biting his lip when Seungkwan tightened the band in his hand, “I went to help Vernon, that's why I’m hurt.”

“Is he hurt?”, Seungkwan asked raising his head seeing his friend nod.

“The place had two floors. Vernon and I stayed on the first floor while Joshua went up with Hoshi looking for Sangwoo”, Mingyu explained, “I was doing well, but Vernon was surrounded. I ran to help him, and an idiot attacked me with a knife.”

“At least you didn't have a more serious injury”, Seungkwan finished bandaging his friend's hand and took the kit, “Go change your clothes. I will take you to my house.”

Mingyu nodded, going to do as he was asked, while Seungkwan looked around for Vernon. He saw The8 helping Hoshi with his injuries while he told Coups the details of the operation.

Seungkwan found Vernon sitting by his closet taking off his boots. The face was bruised, as was the neck. He came over and sat facing the agent, making him raise his head to face him.

“What?”

“I came to help you.”

“I didn't ask for help”, Vernon replied, turning his attention to his boots, but stopped as soon as Seungkwan's warm fingers gripped his chin and lifted his head.

“And I didn't ask for your opinion.”

Vernon snorted and propped his elbows on his knees. He watched Seungkwan take a cotton swab with alcohol and then bring it to his face, pressing it against the cut on his cheek. It stung a little, but he didn't care, so he just admired every detail of Seungkwan's face.

He looked at him a lot, but he never did it as closely as now. Seungkwan had a thin chin and round cheeks. The small nose perfectly matched his face as well as the shape of his eyes, and Vernon was quite sure that he had no idea that he was making a small pout with his lips while cleaning his bruises.

He's adorable, Vernon thought.

“You do that a lot”, Seungkwan said, cutting off Vernon's thoughts.

“Do what?”, He asked tilting his head so that Seungkwan would clean the wound on his neck.

“Stare me.”

“I like to watch people”, Vernon replied seeing Seungkwan raise an eyebrow and meet his eyes.

“I'm not complaining”, Seungkwan smiled a little, threw away the bloodstained cotton and took another one, “Your forehead is bleeding too.”

“One of them kicked me in the back and I hit my forehead against the wall”, Vernon rolled his eyes in annoyance.

“Okay, it doesn't look so bad”, Seungkwan held Vernon's hair and cleaned the place, seeing only a few scratches, “Hold your hair like this.”

Vernon obeyed raising his hand to his head, brushing his fingers against Seungkwan's when he did. He looked away from the newbie and heard a giggle at that.

“Sorry for the rudeness”, Vernon said quietly, “I'm still irritated because of the injuries.”

“I know, don't worry”, Seungkwan put a bandage on his neck and another on Vernon's forehead, staring into his eyes again, “Doesn't it hurt?”

“I've had worse.”

“Which are?”, Seungkwan asked putting the last bandage on his cheek and stared at him waiting for an answer.

Vernon didn’t answer. He just kept looking at Seungkwan's curious eyes. The same eyes he feared would be unveiled.

“I'm ready, Kwan!”, Mingyu appeared beside the two, breaking the eye contact they were having.

“Right”, Seungkwan nodded and faced Vernon again, “I think I’m done with all your injuries.”

“It's great. Thank you”, Vernon smiled a little and stood up, “I'm going to change clothes and go home. See you tomorrow.”

“See you tomorrow, Vernon”, Mingyu waved and Seungkwan did the same, “Let’s go Kwan?”

“Let's go.”

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

Incheon, South Korea.

00:48 AM.

 

“Do you think Seokmin is already asleep?”, Mingyu asked quietly entering the house behind Seungkwan.

“I think so.”

“Found it wrong”, Seokmin hummed turning on the light in the room, making the two stop walking, “Good night, boys.”

“Hi, Seokmin hyung!”, Mingyu opened an embarrassed smile.

“What are you doing awake?”

“I wasn't going to sleep until you arrived”, Seokmin approached, raising his eyebrows when he saw Mingyu's bandaged hand, “What happened to your hand?’

“I hurt at the gym. It's no big deal”, Mingyu replied simply looking at Seungkwan, “I'll wait for you in your room. Good night, Seok.”

“Good night”, Seokmin said following the taller with the look until he entered Seungkwan's room. He looked back at the younger brother who had an innocent smile on his lips, “Can you explain?”

“I thought it would be a good idea for him to sleep here due to the time”, Seungkwan explained by interlacing his fingers, “Are you angry?”

“No, of course not!”, Seokmin shook his head crossing his arms, “It's just that he hasn't slept in a while, so I thought it was weird.”

“This is all the main reason”, Seungkwan forced a smile seeing his brother nod, “If you don't mind, I'll go to my room and-”

“Kwan, I didn't mean to ask that question now, but it seems like the right time”, Seokmin interrupted him getting closer.

“Okay... What is it?”

“You have been weird, arriving late and you are always with Mingyu”, Seokmin pointed out and Seungkwan swallowed, “Are you hiding something from me?”

“Of course not, hyung!”, Seungkwan forced a laugh, “Why do you think that?”

“Kwan, you can tell me if you guys are back together, you know?”

“What?!”, Seungkwan's eyes widened when he realized what his brother was implying.

“I’m your older brother, you can tell me these things.”

“But we are not together!”, Seungkwan shook his head to emphasize, seeing his brother narrowing his eyes.

“So you're planning to get back?”

“No! Hyung what’s up with you?!”

“Nothing! I'm just curious about your love life”, Seokmin shrugged with a smug smile, “And also if I should prepare to hear noises during the night again.”

“This is extremely embarrassing”, Seungkwan sighed feeling his face getting hot. Seokmin laughed at the reaction of the youngest, “Hyung, Mingyu and I are not together, and we are not planning to. We're just friends now, okay?”

“Okay”, Seokmin smiled raising his hands in surrender, “No Mingyu and no noise.”

“That's right. You can sleep peacefully.”

“It's all right. Go and rest with your friend in your room.”

“Seokmin stop!”, Seungkwan pushed his brother's shoulders making him laugh, “Go to sleep, you owl.”

“Yes I will”, Seokmin laughed following his brother in the hall, “Good night, Kwan.”

“Good night, hyung”, Seungkwan said entering his room and finding Mingyu sitting on the bed with an amused smile, “If you laugh, I swear I’ll make you sleep in Chan's chair.”

“Your cheeks are red!”, Mingyu laughed amused, “Are you shy, Kwan? You know, we're going to sleep together so we can give Seokmin a reason to be suspicious.”

“What is it? Today is the national day to embarrass Seungkwan and I don't know?”, Seungkwan asked angrily, making his friend laugh more, “Mingyu shut up!”

“You look adorable angry and embarrassed, Kwan”, Mingyu joked hitting his friend's ass when he went to change clothes, “Training with Minghao is making your ass grow even bigger.”

“That's it, you're going to sleep with Chan!”, Seungkwan grunted hitting Mingyu with the shirt he had taken off.

“Okay I'll stop!”, Mingyu threw himself on the bed looking at the ceiling, “Changing the subject, I can't believe I did so many things today.”

“Me neither. And look, I was eating pizza while you were in operation.”

“How jealous!”, Mingyu laughed tiredly, “But I'm happy that everything went well.”

“And nobody got hurt”, Seungkwan put on his sweatpants and threw himself on the bed next to the older man, who raised his bandaged hand with an indignant look, “I say serious injuries, you crybaby.”

“I see how much you care about me”, Mingyu said dramatic turning on the bed, putting an arm around his friend's waist and burying his face in the curve of his neck, “Kwan?”

“Yes?”

“What do you think about Vernon?”

“What do you mean?”, Seungkwan asked surprised, pulling his head away to face his friend.

“What did you think about him?”

“As a person or professional?”

“Both.”

“Well”, Seungkwan cleared his throat thinking about what to say, “He's pretty discreet, but he's a good person. Why?”

“It's just that Sangwoo is like him”, Mingyu replied quietly and Seungkwan knew he was almost asleep, “I'm telling you since you're going to meet him tomorrow.”

“Got it”, Seungkwan nodded patting his friend on the back, “Let's get settled, so you can sleep.”

Mingyu said nothing, just crawled over to one of the pillows and lay down. Seungkwan turned off the light in the room and pulled out the thick blanket, covering his friend's body and arranging himself beside him. Mingyu returned to hug the body of the youngest, sighing against the hot neck.

They were used to sleeping in that position, so Seungkwan didn't even notice when his hand found the black strands of Mingyu's hair. As expected, the eldest slept quickly, snoring against Seungkwan's neck who ended up smiling.

Reflecting on the way they treated each other, and taking that moment into consideration, Seungkwan was not surprised that they always thought the two were a couple. They acted as one and didn't care about that.

Does Vernon think so too?

Seungkwan wondered and thinking about the agent the moment they had a few hours ago came to mind automatically.

I have felt worse.

That response had affected him more than he would have liked. Seungkwan knew that Vernon had something bad inside him, something that had already hurt him a lot. He knew that the brown eyes told him that whenever he looked at them.

Maybe that's why Vernon always looked away when Seungkwan looked back at him. And if he wanted to find out what the American hides, he may have to get closer.

Only then will he be able to understand what those brown eyes were trying to say.

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

Seoul, South Korea.

7:55 AM.

 

Seungkwan stared at the couple at his side confused, trying futilely to understand what they were discussing. It had been exactly ten minutes since Jun and The8 had been arguing in Chinese, and the older one looked sulky about something. Seungkwan could tell by the pout on his lips and his arms crossed.

“Aish!”, Jun grunted stamping his foot on the floor. Seungkwan was finding that crazy Chinese pose funny, “Do what you want then, Minghao.”

“Don't be a child, Junhui”, The8 rolled his eyes drinking some of his tea.

“This is almost impossible”, Woozi commented passing the three, making Seungkwan bite his lip to keep from laughing.

“I'm still going to hang this gnome somewhere”, Jun muttered, narrowing his eyes at the shorter man who was fiddling with his cell phone and ignoring that discussion.

“Be aware that you'll have to deal with Coups later”, The8 mocked against the cup of tea. Jun just gave him a cold look and looked back at the cafeteria table.

“Are you done?”, Seungkwan asked supporting his arms on the table. The8 nodded like it was nothing and Jun snorted, “What happened to you being so angry with him, hyung?”

“I just said I'm going to cut my hair and he had an outbreak”, Minghao replied earlier, which made Jun look even more indignant.

“Only that?”, Jun asked incredulously, “I won't repeat everything I said about this, I just hope you understand, Minghao!”

“Stop calling me Minghao!”, The8 made a face.

“Am... And why can't he cut his hair anyway?”, Seungkwan asked confused, “Sorry, but I missed that part when you started arguing in Chinese.”

“There is no problem.”

“Yes, there is!”, Jun whined, “I like him like that! It looks beautiful, but no! Let's piss Jun off and cut everything!”

“I'm just going to cut a little, Junnie”, The8 said calmly, “You don't need all this.”

“I don't need-? Okay so, I don't think about anything else in this relationship”, Jun said dramatic and The8 just rolled his eyes, going back to drinking his tea peacefully.

“It’s good to know that you are going to cut, I need to dye mine”, Seungkwan said smiling, “We can go later this afternoon, what do you think?”

“It's fine by me.”

“Oh great! Let's all change the hair!”, Jun complained getting up and walking away from the table, “Come on, it's the international day to change your hair!”

“What happened to him?”, Seungkwan asked seeing The8 start to laugh.

“Jun has had a problem with hair since the incident at the barbershop”, The8 replied taking the phone.

“What happened?”

“Look”, The8 showed the picture of a hysterical Jun with a big flaw in the side of his head. Seungkwan was shocked at first, but soon started to laugh with the Chinese, “I love this photo!”

“Look at his face!”, Seungkwan said between laughs, “That must have been an outbreak.”

“It was hilarious! He spent the night crying saying he was ugly because of his hair”, The8 laughed even more remembering the cry of his boyfriend, “Since then I am the one who cuts his hair. He said he doesn't trust anyone else to do this.”

“Understandable”, Seungkwan nodded wiping the corner of his eyes, “Ah my belly hurts!”

“What's going on here?”, Vernon asked stopping behind the two agents, seeing Jun's photo on the Chinese's cell phone, “Oh that day was funny!”

“Ah good times!”, The8 sighed and stood up with his mug, “I'll talk to him. See you later.”

“See you later!”, Seungkwan waved and faced the American who was still standing, “Good morning, Vernon.”

“Morning.”

“Sleep well?”, Seungkwan asked seeing the American raise an eyebrow, “I say because of the injuries.”

“Oh yes!”, Vernon nodded, “I took a painkiller. Thank you for yesterday.”

“No need to thank”, Seungkwan smiled, taking his coffee and getting up, “It's almost time for the meeting with Coups. Let's go?”

Vernon nodded and the two started walking side by side through the department. Seungkwan kept his gaze always ahead, especially feeling that the agent at his side was giving him a few glances now and then. Vernon was not discreet, and Seungkwan felt like laughing about it.

That light blue shirt matched Seungkwan's pale skin tone, and the quiet posture somehow caught Vernon's attention. He just couldn't seem to be in the same environment as the newbie and didn't look at him once, as if something strong always brought his eyes to Seungkwan.

“How was your first week?”, Vernon asked after thinking about what he should say to break that silence.

“It was great!”, Seungkwan looked at the American with a smile, “A little too agitated for a first week of work, but I think I did well.”

“I'm sure you did”, Vernon smiled a little and opened the door to enter the meeting room, “You managed to help a lot. Especially with Sangwoo.”

“I'm glad you could bring him back.”

“Me too.”

A thicker voice said behind the two, making them turn and find Sangwoo at the door with a smile. Now without running, with a clean face and decent clothes, Seungkwan managed to analyze the agent that everyone talked about so much.

Sangwoo was taller than him and by his physical appearance he looked very strong. The well-designed jaw was perhaps one of the points that most caught Seungkwan's attention, in addition to the dark and intimidating eyes.

Sangwoo was a handsome man, but Seungkwan felt a little coerced by the intense look he had.

“Hyung, what are you doing outside the infirmary?”, Vernon asked, raising his eyebrows, “You should be resting.”

“I got tired of resting”, Sangwoo shrugged his shoulders, putting his hands in his pockets, “And you know I hate being still for a long time.”

“Yes, I know”, Vernon nodded, “Are you feeling better?”

“With some pain, but nothing that some painkillers don't solve”, Sangwoo blinked and looked at Seungkwan who was just watching their conversation in silence, “I don't know you yet. I'm Min Sangwoo.”

“Boo Seungkwan”, He replied bowing, “I am part of the intelligence team. I started this week.”

“What a beautiful week to start, isn't it?”, Sangwoo joked smiling, “Welcome, Seungkwan.”

“And very welcome!”, S.Coups said entering the room, smiling at the three, “Seungkwan helped to locate you.”

“Really?”, Sangwoo asked and Seungkwan nodded with a smile, “Thank you very much.”

“I didn't do anything alone”, Seungkwan said embarrassed.

“But it was of great help!”, S.Coups smiled squeezing Sangwoo's shoulder, “Sangwoo can you wait for me in my office? I want to talk to both of them.”

“Sure. I'll stop by the cafeteria first”, Sangwoo nodded away.

“Woozi is already there, so just enter”, S.Coups warned before closing the door and facing the two confused agents whit a big smile, “Good morning boys!”

“Good morning”, Vernon replied sitting down, “I thought the meeting was with everyone.”

“No, I just need to talk to you two”, S.Coups opened the suit he was wearing before sitting down facing them, “It will be very quick.”

“Okay, you can talk.”

“Woozi told me about what you and The8 achieved with ChungHo's pen drive and emails”, S.Coups said looking at Seungkwan who just nodded, “Great report, by the way. Woozi exchanged e-mails with Minoru on ChungHo's cell phone and scheduled to pick up his order for tomorrow afternoon.”

“In the same place he sent by email?”

“Yes, at the nightclub in Busan”, S.Coups nodded and faced Vernon, “And I want you to go there and pick up the order and investigate the guy.”

“Yes, Coups”, Vernon promptly nodded.

“And I want you to go with him, Seungkwan.”

“Me?!”, Seungkwan asked surprised, looking at Vernon's expressionless face.

“Yes, you!”, S.Coups smiled amused, “I talked to Woozi, and he gave me a great feedback about your first week. We really appreciate your commitment, so I thought it would be a good idea to send you along with Vernon on this field investigation. Unless you don't feel ready yet.”

“No! I mean, I'm ready!”, Seungkwan shook his head, “I was just surprised.”

“I was going to send you with Mingyu, but I have another activity for him”, S.Coups commented supporting his hands on the table, “Then I thought of Vernon! Since you two are the same age and Vernon is an experienced field agent, he can help you if needed. It’s a simple mission just to investigate someone, and for this kind of work Vernon is the best. I mean, look at his face!”

“Thanks, Coups”, Vernon responded with a serious expression, making the two agents smile.

“See?”

“I got it. Okay, I agree to go!”, Seungkwan smiled excitedly and S.Coups thought the newbie's way funny, “I mean, if it's okay with you, Vernon.”

“Yes, no problem”, Vernon nodded again, “Busan is almost five hours from here. We can go by car after work and spend the night at one of the government hotels. What do you think, Coups?”

“It’s okay for me, you can decide what is best. I will make your reservation for the weekend.”

“Is it okay to go by car, Seungkwan?”

“Yes, no problem!”

“All right, let's go home and pack a bag and I'll pick you up”, Vernon suggested seeing Seungkwan nod with his head, “So we're done, Coups.”

“Excellent! I’m loving this!”, S.Coups smiled and stood up, “It was just that, boys. Vernon, you can take the organization's card and car, you know where they are. Just give me your itinerary before you go.”

“Yes, sir”, The two nodded and saw the leader leave the room.

Seungkwan looked at Vernon and thought he had no better opportunity to meet the American than this.

Chapter Text

Incheon, South Korea.

7:13 PM.

 

“Did you get your socks?”, Seokmin asked leaning against the bedroom door.

“Yes.”

“Your pajamas?”

“Yep.”

“Underwear?”, Asked and Seungkwan stopped what he was doing to face his brother, “What? You always forget and have to wash the same underwear in the shower and sleep with your little friend free.”

“Please stop embarrassing me!”, Seungkwan asked in a crying tone and passed by his brother, going to the bathroom, “It happened once! And my friend is not ‘little’!”

“I'm just checking if you got everything you need”, Seokmin laughed watching his brother get his hygiene items.

“I'm not a child anymore, hyung. I know how to pack a suitcase.”

“No, you don't”, Chan said, leaving the room and pushing his chair down the hall. Seokmin laughed at the look his brother gave the youngest.

“I'll show you, come here”, Seungkwan closed the case and dragged the older brother to his room, “You can check the suitcase if you want.”

“Shirts, pants, pajamas... look, underwear!”, Seokmin joked seeing his brother roll his eyes, “Okay, I think you took it all this time.”

“Thank you!”, Seungkwan thanked putting the bag in the suitcase and zipping it, “And another thing, it will only be two days. I will survive.”

“Was this convention already scheduled?”

“It's not a convention, it's just a few lectures”, Seungkwan shrugged to feel less nervous when lying, “My boss said it will be good for my learning.”

“Got it!”, Seokmin nodded seeing his brother get his cell phone, “Mingyu is going with you?”

“No, I'm going with Vernon”, Seungkwan replied seeing the message on his cell phone, “Which happens to be here already.”

“I don't know him yet.”

“I promise to introduce you later”, Seungkwan replied that he was already going and put on his coat, “He is responsible, don't worry.”

“I'll try”, Seokmin followed his brother out of the room, “Text me when you arrive.”

“Leave it to me.”

“And don't forget my present”, Chan said, pausing the game on the video game.

“I will think about your case”, Seungkwan ruffled his younger brother's hair and opened the door, seeing the nearby car parked in front of his house, “See you Sunday, hyung.”

“Take care and eat right!”, Seokmin straightened his brother's coat and smiled, “Have a good trip.”

“Thank you hyung.”

Seungkwan smiled and went to the car, leaving his handbag in the back seat and sitting in the passenger seat.

“Hello Vernon.”

“Hi”, Vernon replied looking at the newbie in a curious way.

“What?”

“Weren't you blond this morning?”, Vernon asked making Seungkwan laugh and run his hand through the now brown strands.

“I was, but I went with The8 in the salon this afternoon.”

“Got it”, Vernon nodded maneuvering the car, “Was it your brother at the door?”

“My older brother”, Seungkwan fastened his seat belt and this time he had a curious expression, “How do you know where I live?”

“I took your address from the system and put it on the gps”, Vernon shrugged.

“Okay”, Seungkwan sighed and took out his cell phone, “Do you want to stop and take turns at the wheel?”

“I think we will arrive before midnight, so we won't need to take turns.”

“It's all right. If you get tired let me know.”

Vernon shook his head and Seungkwan knew the conversation was over. They were silent for a while until Seungkwan got tired and reached for his headphones in his coat pocket. As the car was in complete silence, Vernon could hear the songs through Seungkwan's headphones, not to mention that he occasionally hummed in a low voice.

Vernon wanted to laugh when he realized that Seungkwan was a fan of girl groups. He didn't know why, but he was not surprised by that. Seungkwan's voice was beautiful, sweet and calm. He was enjoying hearing the newbie's voice even though he was singing female songs.

When he could no longer hear Seungkwan's voice, he knew that he had fallen asleep. Vernon looked to the side only to find Seungkwan sleeping with his head against the window.

Vernon ended up smiling and as soon as he stopped at the red light, he took off Seungkwan's headphones and paused the music. He turned off the air and watched the older man sleep until the light went green again.

And there were still three hours to go.

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

Daegu, South Korea.

9:38 PM.

 

Vernon stopped the car at the side of the road and took the key out of the ignition. Several buses and other cars stopped at that station to refuel or eat something, and that was exactly what he intended to do.

The small task he had before that was to wake Seungkwan. The boy was sleeping so peacefully that Vernon felt sorry for waking him up, but he didn't know if Seungkwan was hungry or thirsty. And also, because he didn't want to leave him alone in the car.

“Seungkwan?”, Vernon called, touching Seungkwan's arm, watching him grumble and pout his lips, “Seungkwan? Wake up.”

Vernon rolled his eyes when Seungkwan grunted again and turned away. So, he decided to wake him up in another way.

“Yah!”, Seungkwan shouted jumping in his seat when his seat belt loosened against his body, “What is that?!”

“Woke up?”, Vernon asked innocently with his hand still on the buckle.

“Why didn’t you call me?”

“I called you. Twice”, Vernon indicated with his fingers, “But you grunted, pouted and turned away.”

“I don't pout!”, Seungkwan grunted, completely removing his belt and ruffling his hair.

“Yes, you do. All the time”, Vernon scored by picking up his wallet.

“Are we there yet?”

“Almost. We're in Daegu”, Vernon replied checking to see if the organization's card was with him, “I need to go to the bathroom and eat something. Are you hungry?”

“Not much, I think I'll just have a drink”, Seungkwan yawned shaking his head, “But I'll keep you company, don't worry.”

Vernon just chuckled and got out of the car, waiting for Seungkwan to get out and then lock it up. Seungkwan said he would wait for him at the small cafeteria, as he needed to make a call.

 Unlike what Vernon had thought before, Seungkwan's company was not being as uncomfortable as he thought it would be, no matter how much he slept through the trip.

When he left the bathroom, Vernon saw that the newbie was still on the phone and apparently was talking to someone important to him since he was smiling. Not wanting to disturb the conversation, Vernon decided to buy something to eat and also Seungkwan's drink.

Seungkwan was still sleepy, so it was being funny to watch him. The small eyes and the lazy voice made him adorable, and Vernon felt a little guilty about waking him up.

“Okay I'll be careful”, Seungkwan said shaking his head, “Yes, I remember what you taught me. Can you relax? It's just a simple investigation!”, He complained and paused, rolling his eyes in sequence, “Okay, the danger lies next door. Is it over?”, Seungkwan laughed and saw Vernon walking towards him with a paper bag and two cups, “I have to go. I'll let you know when I get there, okay? Bye.”

“Was it your brother?”

“No, it was Mingyu”, Seungkwan put his cell phone out and held out his hands to help him hold something, but Vernon just held out one of the cups, “You could have called me to help you.”

“I didn't want to disturb you”, Vernon shrugged taking the car keys, “I ordered your coffee.”

“Iced Americano?”, Seungkwan raised his eyebrows, “Thank you.”

“You're welcome”, Vernon unlocked the car and left his cup on the holder when entering, “It's getting colder. Mind if I turn on the heater?”

“Of course not. Why the question?”

“Because Wonwoo and Jihoon like to stay in the air”, Vernon shrugged eating his snack, “Do you accept?”

“No, thanks”, Seungkwan replied laughing, “Now I know why that office is always so cold.”

“They both have strange tastes. Jun and Hoshi too, so we sometimes joke that they share the same brain cell.”

“Because of the age?”

“Yes. Jihoon hates it when we say that”, Vernon laughed, “He says it's insulting to compare him with Jun and Hoshi.”

“I can imagine this scene”, Seungkwan laughed drinking his coffee, wondering a little if he should ask what was on his mind since the beginning of the week, “Vernon, can I ask you a question?”

“Yes.”

“Are you half-breed?”, Seungkwan asked getting the agent's full attention.

“I am. How did you know?”

“You are not the only one who pay attention to the other person”, Seungkwan joked and Vernon looked away, “And maybe Mingyu commented.”

“I was born in New York”, Vernon replied simply and Seungkwan almost choked on his coffee.

“You’re lying?!”

“It's true”, Vernon raised his eyebrows with the reaction of the other, “Why?”

“I always wanted to meet an American!”, Seungkwan left his cup on the stand and smiled excitedly, “You know, to practice my English!”

“And you speak English?”

Of course!”, Seungkwan replied with a heavy accent and Vernon continued to stare at him, controlling the urge to laugh.

“Are you sure?”

Yes! You see?” Seungkwan smiled happily and Vernon had to bite his lip when he let a laugh escape, “Why... Why you laugh?”

“I'm not laughing at you!”, Vernon denied still laughing, “The way you speak English is funny.”

I'm funny? I know, I know!”, Seungkwan nodded back to drinking his coffee, glad to have the American laughing, “You liked my language skills, didn't you?”

“They are unique”, Vernon nodded fastening his belt, “We still have an hour and a half of road, so let’s go.”

“I'm not going to sleep this time.”

Vernon just shook his head and started the car again, thinking how long it would take Seungkwan to lean his head against the window and sleep again. He hoped that it wouldn't happen and that Seungkwan would sing his favorite songs, only to hear his voice again.

Seungkwan did not go back to sleep, but neither did he sing again. So, they both just enjoyed the silence that had settled in the car until they reached Busan. Vernon has been there a few times, so it was no problem getting to the hotel that belonged to the government organization.

Since S.Coups had made the reservation early in the morning, they just had to present their badges and sign the check-in. Upon going up to their room Seungkwan was surprised by the decor, even though it was a small room.

As soon as they passed through the door, it was possible to see the living room with access to the balcony, a small kitchen on the left and a corridor leading to the bathroom and bedroom on the right. There were two beds, one in each corner of the room, with a nightstand and two lamps between them.

“It's very comfortable here”, Seungkwan said leaving his bag on the bed that was next to the door, leaving the one that was next to the window for Vernon, “I liked it.”

“I've stayed here a few times”, Vernon commented, “The food is very good.”

“Good to know”, Seungkwan yawned and scratched his eyes, “I think I need to sleep for more than three hours.”

“Don't forget to call your brother and Mingyu”, Vernon warned opening his suitcase taking a towel and his pajamas, “I'll take a shower. Make yourself comfortable.”

“Thanks.”

Seungkwan took advantage of being alone in the room and changed, just turning off the lamp next to his bed and taking out his cell phone, sending a message to Seokmin and Mingyu and settling himself under the thick blanket, taking no more than a few minutes to fall asleep again.

Vernon went back to the room listening to Seungkwan snoring, so he was careful not to wake him. He put his things away and lay down on the bed, looking at the boy asleep on the other bed and shaking his head with a smile when he remembered the funny English he had.

With that he turned off the lamp and closed his eyes, falling asleep shortly thereafter.

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

The morning light gradually woke Vernon, until he ended up getting irritated and pulling the window curtain anyway trying to end that uncomfortable light. He snorted angrily against the pillow when he realized that it made him lose his sleep.

Keeping his eyes closed for a while he could hear some noises coming from the bathroom, which indicated that Seungkwan was already awake and that it must still be early.

Stretching his arm, he looked for the cell phone on the nightstand, lifting his head from the pillow only to confirm that it was actually after nine in the morning. A whistle was present and soon Seungkwan entered the room, wearing black shorts and a plain blue T-shirt. His hair was still damp and the towel over his shoulders indicated that he had showered, but Vernon could come to that conclusion only by the pleasant smell that had invaded the room.

“Oh, did I wake you up?”, Seungkwan asked as soon as he saw the frown on the American's face.

“No”, Vernon grunted more than he answered, forcing himself to sit on the bed. He swung the curtain while scratching his eyes, “That woke me up.”

“Ah yeah. I see.”

Seungkwan nodded sitting on the bed, ignoring the strange feeling in his stomach with the thick voice that Vernon had when he woke up.

“I must be hungry. I need to eat something soon”, he thought.

“If you want we can change the bed”, Seungkwan suggested passing the towel through the hair, “I don't care about the light.”

“Stop being like that”, Vernon muttered with a lazy laugh.

“Like what?”

“So... Nice and helpful.”

“I'll have to ask you to stop being so quiet and surly then”, Seungkwan shrugged, receiving a grimace from the American, “Deal?”

“I agree to continue by the window then”, Vernon stood up taking the towel that was lying in the suitcase. Seungkwan ended up laughing in how grumpy the American was in the morning, “I'm going to take a shower because I know you already ordered breakfast.”

“What does a few hours in a car make you think you already know me enough to know that I already ordered our breakfast?”

“Again, you are nice and helpful. I'm sure you already ordered something and set the coffee table in the living room.”

“AND...? Your point does not answer my question!”, Seungkwan said and Vernon stopped at the bedroom door, staring at him with a raised eyebrow. The older man kept his eyes on for a few seconds before pressing his lips and interlocking his fingers, “The part of the table is a lie.”

Vernon gave a convinced laugh and went into the bathroom. Seungkwan put his things away and held the towel out by the window, picking up his cell phone and going to the living room to watch something while breakfast didn't arrive.

 

Seoul, South Korea.

325 km from Busan, 10:32 AM.

 

Vernon: Coups, Seungkwan and I are just waiting for your call.

S.Coups: Okay, I'm going to the video room. Give me 10 minutes.

 

Seungcheol responded to the message by walking down the hall, not realizing he was going to meet someone else until the bodies collided.

“Damn it!”, S.Coups said holding the body against his, only then realizing who it was, “Sorry Rosie! I was distracted and didn't see you!”

“It's all right! I didn't see you either”, Rosé laughed bending down to pick up the papers she dropped.

“Are you alright? Are you hurt?”

“Don't overreact, Coups!”, Rosé sneered, seeing the tallest man lift his shoulders with an innocent smile, “What are you doing here on a Saturday?”

“I'm with Woozi and Hoshi. Vernon and Seungkwan are in an operation, so we are monitoring.”

“Did you send the newbie on an operation on his first week?”

“It's something simple and Vernon is with him”, S.Coups shrugged, “He'll be fine. But what about you? Why are you here?”

“I had some things to finish. It was a busy week in the lab”, Rosé sighed, “I promised I would deliver these results to Seungkwan yesterday, but they weren't ready in time. You can take them if you want.”

“Okay, I'll give it to Woozi”, S.Coups took the papers, looking at them quickly, “He must know what it is about.”

“Yes, he was the one who asked”, Rosé smiled, “Well, I'm going back to work now. Have a nice day, Coups.”

“You too, Rosie. Good job!”, S.Coups waved and made his way to the video conference room, finding his two leaders arguing, “Are you fighting again?”

“Soonyoung is an idiot!”, Woozi grunted.

“Don't call me that, you key chain!”

“Can I shoot him?”, Woozi asked hopefully.

“No, I need him alive”, S.Coups replied sitting between the two and passing the papers to the lowest, “Rosie asked me to give you this. She said it was Seungkwan who asked a few days ago.”

“Ah yes. Thanks!”, Woozi took the papers to see the results.

“Can we start?”, Hoshi asked resting his elbows on the table, “I have an appointment in the afternoon.”

“No, you haven’t.”

“Yes, I have! Stop teasing me, Jihoon!”

“Stop being annoying then.”

“But I didn’t do anything??”, Hoshi grunted annoyed, “I know what that is. It is lack of good slap-”

“Good morning, boys!”, S.Coups’s loud and thick voice interrupted Hoshi's speech.

The three looked at the big television, having the perfect view of Vernon and Seungkwan sitting on the sofa in the government apartment. The two waved as soon as they saw their respective leaders.

“Good Morning!”

“How was the trip?”

“It was quiet. We arrived before midnight.”

“So you two are well rested for this afternoon”, Hoshi commented, crossing his fingers.

“Seungkwan, I sent you an email with the exact location and time that you two should be there.”

Okay I'll take a look.”

“Vernon you got everything you need before you leave here, right?”

“I packed a suitcase just for that, Coups”, Vernon replied calmly, “Are you going to stay there all day?”

“Only Woozi and I. We have some business to settle with Wonwoo in Fuchu.”

Okay, Vernon and I will let you know when we get to the place”, Seungkwan said looking at the American who nodded.

“It will be something simple, but it is the first time you go to the field Seungkwan-ah”, Hoshi said, “Just stay calm and follow Vernon. He will teach you some things that can be useful.”

We talked about it this morning, Hoshi. Don’t worry.”

“We have the cell phone, so if you need anything just call us”, S. Coups warned.

Yes sir.”

“I think that's it for now. Eat well and keep us updated, okay?”

Yes sir.”

Call me sir again and I will leave you two stuck in Busan!”,  S.Coups said pointing his finger, which made the two agents smile amused, “That's it boys. See you later.”

“See you later!”, Seungkwan said and Vernon just nodded before ending the call.

“Well, this is really cool, but I have to go!”, Hoshi said getting up, “If anything happens call me.”

“Okay, thanks Hoshi!”, S.Coups watched the agent leave the room, only then turning his attention to Woozi who had gone back to reading the lab papers with a frown, “What happened to you two today?”

“Nothing. Monday we will be talking normally, you know us”, Woozi shrugged without looking away from the papers, “Do you think they will be okay?”

“I think so, why?”

“Be careful when it comes to Khalan”, Woozi replied facing the older, “Vernon knows how to defend himself, but Seungkwan is still too inexperienced.”

“Hoonie, it's just an interrogation”, S.Coups smiled calmly, “You told me that Seungkwan is smart and started to loosen up more with the team. He will do well.”

S.Coups brought his hand up to the shorter's face, leaving a caress on his cheek.

“It's what I expect.”

 

>>>>> <<<<<

 

Busan, South Korea.

325 km from Seoul, 13:55 PM.

 

“Why you can keep the bunnie and I have to wear the cap?”, Seungkwan asked adjusting the black cap on his head.

“Because I prefer the bunnie”, Vernon replied simply, looking at Seungkwan with a mocking smile, “And you look good in a cap.”

“I look like a child!”

“Stop pouting, Seungkwan”, Vernon laughed adjusting his sunglasses and turning his attention to the nightclub across the street, “Are you ready?”

“I am.”

“Did you get your gun?”

“Yes, it's here”, Seungkwan tapped his waist over the green sweatshirt he wore.

“And got the-”

“The extra gun is stuck on my ankle”, Seungkwan cut, staring at the American with a happy smile, “I'm ready, Vernon.”

“Okay then”, Vernon took his communicator and put it to his ear, covering it with his coif so it wouldn't be noticed, “Coups? We are on site and ready to start.”

“Okay, go ahead. Keep the communicator hidden, Vernon”, S.Coups replied and Vernon shook his head, motioning for Seungkwan to get out of the car.

“You remember what you have to say, right?”

“Vernon, give me a vote of confidence!”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, walking beside the American.

“I’m sorry.”

Seungkwan shook his head and opened the door to the nightclub, looking around before closing it. The place smelled of cheap cigarettes, beer and other things he preferred not to know what they were.

Only a few lights were on, and Vernon took a few steps forward to examine the place. He always stayed ahead of Seungkwan as Woozi had guided him the day before just in case.

“We're closed.”

A female voice, and somewhat sour, said behind the two agents, making them turn their heads to face her. The woman must not have been more than thirty years old, but her appearance made the plastic surgery performed quite obvious.

She looked at them both intently and smiled mischievously.

“But I think I can make an exception for you two.”

“We are looking for Minoru”, Vernon said stopping next to Seungkwan.

“And would you be?”, The woman asked with a malicious smile and Seungkwan smiled in a corner.

“Just ask him if our order is ready. He will know what it is about.”

“Ah you are Ho's men”, The woman changed her posture and turned her back, following a corridor without saying anything else.

“What was that thick voice?”, Vernon asked quietly.

“My voice is thick!”, Seungkwan replied in the same tone, casting a serious look at the American.

“No, it's not”, Vernon disagreed, staring at him over his glasses.

“Well, when I want it, it is”,  Seungkwan raised his eyebrows and Vernon pressed his lips and closed his eyes, adjusting his glasses and posture to keep from laughing.

Boys…”, S.Coups asked and Vernon took a deep breath, swallowing the laughter stuck in his throat.

He could see Seungkwan control a smile and turn his attention to the corridor the woman had entered. Soon footsteps were heard and a Japanese man appeared with a frown on his face. He was chubby and had oily hair around his shoulders, as well as a mustache on his chin and the same smell as that place, only stronger.

Seungkwan held back the urge to make a face in disgust.

“Oh you really are here! I thought it was more of that woman's bullshit!”, The man said approaching the two with an outstretched hand, the same one that neither shook, “Come on bro, a little education is always a good start!”

“We are not here to be polite”, Seungkwan replied casting a disdainful look at the outstretched hand. He could see dirt under his badly cut nails, “And we're not your bro’s.”

“You are ChungHo bro’s, of course you are my bro’s!”, Minoru smiled hitting Seungkwan's arm. The one who looked at the place that was touched and cast a look so sharp that it stopped the Japanese from smiling, “Okay, maybe not that bro.”

“Do you have the damn package or not?”, Vernon asked stopping next to Seungkwan who still stared at the man without blinking, “We don't have all day.”

“Why are you wearing glasses in here, man?”, Minoru asked laughing and Vernon raised his glasses, showing the black lenses he wore, “Dammit bro! Hide this shit! Look, I know this thing over there. Better to see a doctor before it gets worse!”

Vernon looked at Seungkwan and they both raised their hands to their hips, stopping when they saw Minoru jump back.

“Oops! We don't need that in here, do we?”, Minoru gave a nervous laugh and took a black folder from his jacket, “Here it is.”

Seungkwan took the folder and looked at him with a raised eyebrow.

“We know it's not just that!”, Vernon said impatiently.

“You are driving, right?”, Minoru asked and the two nodded, “Great. Go to the back of the club and leave the trunk open. It's a big order, you know?”

The two faced each other and left the nightclub to do what the Japanese had asked. Neither said anything, just got in the car and Vernon walked around the block, stopping at the back of the club where the iron door was already open.

In the rearview mirror they saw Minoru carrying something in his arms and throwing it into the trunk. Vernon rolled down the window and saw the Japanese man approaching, wiping his hands on his jeans, bending down to speak with the two.

“It's all there!”, Minoru sighed tiredly, “Tell ChungHo that I sent him a hug!”

“No.”, Seungkwan replied taking the gun from his waist and leaving it on the dashboard of the car, watching the Japanese man swallow.

“If you also go to Thailand next month and want a toy for travel, just look for me”, Minoru blinked and walked away from the car.

Vernon closed the window and started the car, quickly leaving Minoru's sight. Seungkwan took off his cap and tossed it in the back seat, running a hand through his hair grumbling about how that cap was clutching his head.

“Take those lenses off, Vernon. They scare me”, Seungkwan asked when the American threw his glasses on the dashboard and turned on the speakers.

“When we get to the hotel, I'll take it out. They're pissing me off!”,  Vernon grunted, taking a hand to the communicator, “Coups we made it. We already have everything.”

Great boys. Was he dangerous?”

“He was a stinky idiot who had the audacity to touch me with those dirty hands!”, Seungkwan grunted and the leaders' laughter filled the speakers.

“The smell really wasn't the best”, Vernon agreed, “But he was an idiot. It didn't take much to scare him.”

And what did he give you?”, Woozi asked and Seungkwan took the folder from his lap.

“Are they... Photos?”, Seungkwan said confused looking at the pages with several pictures of women and information from each one, “Wait... These are files.”

“Files?”

“What did he say to you?”

“He said about something in Thailand next month”, Vernon said looking at the elder quickly, “He said that if we wanted a toy it was to look for him.”

But what does that mean?

“Vernon wait”, Seungkwan said leafing through the folder and feeling a stomach wrap, “Little toy...”

What's it?”

“These are profiles of women!”

“Seungkwan what are you-”

“Vernon, what did he put in the trunk?”

Seungkwan asked and Vernon pulled the car over, looking directly into the older man's eyes. He looked at the open folder and looked back at Seungkwan, his eyes wide this time.

Boys, what is it?!”

The two ignored S.Coups's question and quickly got out of the car, running for the trunk. As soon as Vernon lifted the cap, Seungkwan took a step back in fright.

It was a girl with her arms and legs tied and a tape over her mouth. She was unconscious and looked hurt.

“What the hell is this?!”, Vernon asked scared looking around hoping that no one was seeing that scene.

“Please be alive!”, Seungkwan asked touching the girl's pulse point and sighing in relief, “Okay... Okay! She's alive!”

“I can’t believe that bastard still does this shit!”, Vernon kicked the tire of the car, bringing his hand back to the communicator, “Coups, we have a problem.”

What kind of  problem?

“A known one”

Chapter Text

Busan, South Korea.

325 km from Seoul, 2:37 PM.

 

“Vernon how are we going to go up with her?”, Seungkwan asked as soon as they entered the hotel parking lot.

“I can distract the people in the lobby, and you go up with her”, Vernon suggested turning off the car, “What do you think?”

“Too risky”, Seungkwan bit his lip thoughtfully and looked around the parking lot, raising his eyebrows when he saw something useful, “How about the service elevator?”

“He's big enough for the three of us.”

“So, nobody will see us or suspect anything.”

“Good idea!”, Vernon took off his seat belt and they both got out of the car, “I’ll carry her, and you keep an eye here.”

Seungkwan nodded and took the folder, looking around and waving Vernon to go on when he saw no one around. Vernon picked up the unconscious girl carefully and headed for the service elevator while Seungkwan locked the car.

With another look around Seungkwan got into the elevator and pressed the number of the floor they were on. Seungkwan looked again at the unconscious girl and now without the tape on her mouth he could see the small cut in the corner of her lips.

“Do we have a first aid kit?”

“Yes. It’s in the bathroom”, Vernon replied leaving the elevator as soon as the doors opened, “Can you get things out of my bed?”

Seungkwan nodded and tossed the coat and towel that were on the American's bed in his own. The call ring was present, and he ran into the living room, using the television control to accept the call and seeing S.Coups and Woozi again on the big screen.

“They finally arrived!”

“Where's the girl?”

“Vernon put her in the bedroom. She’s hurt. Do you think we should wait for her to wake up or take her to the hospital?”

“Wait for her to wake up and call one of the government doctors. There's a list in the kitchen cabinet”, S.Coups replied scratching his head and looking at Woozi, “Are you feeling it too?”

“Déjà vu?”, Woozi asked with a grimace.

Exactly.”

“I think the other girls in that folder are all in the club”, Seungkwan said taking off the sweatshirt that was starting to choke him, “Or at least part of them.”

“How many files are in the folder?”

“Ten counting the girl who is here now.”

“Okay, we need to make sure that all these girls are rescued and sent home”, Seungcheol said thoughtfully.

“What do you have in mind?”

“I was thinking about-”

“Wow! Calm down lady!”, Vernon shouted, startling the three.

“What's it?”, Seungkwan asked looking in the hall and seeing Vernon at the bedroom door with his hands up and a startled look.

“I think she woke up”, Vernon replied without taking his eyes off the girl who was now awake and curled up in bed with a startled look.

“Stay away from me!”, The girl shouted pointing her finger at them both.

“We won't hurt you!”, Seungkwan said cautiously raising his hands, “We want to help you-”

“Get out!”, The girl screamed and the two closed the bedroom door scared.

“That scream was very high-pitched”, Vernon said with a hand to his ear.

“What did you do?”

“I did nothing! I was untying her hands when she opened her eyes and pushed me back!”

“Boys?”

“We have everything under control here!”, Seungkwan said returning to the room.

“From the screams, I'm sure you have”, Woozi sneered and Vernon sat on the couch.

“She is scared. Woke up in a different place and with two men”, Vernon shook his head, “Let's give her a break.”

“And in the meantime, you have something else to do.”

“I'm going to call the Busan deputy and report what happened”, S.Coups started, “Let's get all the girls that are stuck in that nightclub today.”

“Do you need both in this operation, Coups?”

“I think one is enough to accompany the chief. You can decide who is going.”

I think you better stay”, Vernon said turning to Seungkwan, “You get along better with people and can help her.”

“Okay”, Seungkwan nodded, “We will need to buy something for her to wear. We can't leave her that way.”

“I do this. There's a convenience store nearby”, Vernon said getting up, “I'm going to buy food too.”

“It's good to see that you two are getting along well”, S.Coups said with a happy smile.

“Yeah... Very good”, Woozi smiled amused.

“He talks a lot, but he is easy to deal with”, Vernon shrugged, receiving a serious look from the older man, “It's a joke.”

“Get out of here!”, Seungkwan pointed to the door and the American smiled, taking out his cell phone and car keys before leaving.

“Seungkwan, we’ll talk to the deputy. I'll call you back when we’re done, okay?”

“Okay boss.”

“Be patient with her. And don't forget that the doctor's number is in the kitchen.”

“Leave it to me.”

“See you later.”

Seungkwan waved and ended the call, looking down the hall and letting out a sigh. He decided to wait a few minutes thinking about how he would approach or what he should say to the girl, so in the meantime he took the opportunity to send some messages to Seokmin and Mingyu, hiding what had happened so that his best friend would not worry for now. He also took the opportunity to look for the girl's face in the folder, not taking longer than two minutes to find her name.

When ten minutes passed, he got up, taking the first aid kit from the bathroom and knocking twice on the bedroom door.

“Am... Momo, isn't it?”, Seungkwan asked opening the door and putting only his head inside the room and finding the girl huddled on the bed, then he opened a small smile, “Hi!”

“Please... Please stay away from me!”, The girl asked in a shaky voice and Seungkwan could see tears in her eyes.

“I promise to stay ten steps away from you”, Seungkwan finished opening the door and showed the white suitcase, “You are hurt, so I brought a first aid kit. I'll leave it here, okay?”

Seungkwan walked over and left the briefcase on the end of the bed, walking away again with his hands raised. Seeing that the girl did not move and continued with the same frightened look, he thought of acting differently.

“I'm not one of those guys”, Seungkwan took the badge with his name out of his pocket and placed it on the bed next to the suitcase, “You can look. I really want to help you.”

“And do you think you're the first one to tell me that?”, Momo asked taking the badge.

“I know I’m not, but I would like a vote of confidence maybe?”, Seungkwan said shrugging his shoulders, “Believe me, I'm as surprised as you are.”

“What do you want? And where am I?”

“You are safe in a Korean government hotel”, Seungkwan replied sitting on his bed, “And I just want to ask you a few questions.”

“Where's my wife?”

“Your wife?”, Seungkwan asked confused, “Was your wife with you in that club?”

“We live together in Seoul”, Momo replied in a shaky voice, “One day she went to put the garbage out and I heard her scream. When I went out to see what had happened, I felt a pain in my head and then everything went dark.”

“Okay wait a minute!”, Seungkwan ran to the living room to get the black folder and his notebook, returning to the room in record time, “I need you to tell me everything you remember ok?”

“I can try”, Momo replied wiping her face, “You won't hurt me, will you?”

“Of course not!”, Seungkwan smiled calmly, “Neither me nor the other man who was here. His name is Vernon.”

“He had black eyes.”

“Oh no, those are lenses”, Seungkwan laughed, “He had to put it on when we went to that club. We are investigating a dangerous criminal and we went there to collect information. Then we found you.”

“You are cop?”

“Almost that”, Seungkwan leaned forward and opened the folder, “Can you tell me if all these women are still at the club?”

Seungkwan was showing them one by one and writing down the names that Momo shook with her head, indicating that they were no longer at the club. When she finally saw her wife's picture, the tears came back hard, making her wipe her face again.

“We will find your wife, okay?”, Seungkwan said quietly, “So, counting on you, only four girls were handed over to someone, right?”

“Yes, but I don't know where they went.”

“I have an idea”, Seungkwan said quietly writing everything in his notebook, lifting his head when he heard the entrance door closing and footsteps approaching in the corridor, “Oh, Vernon is here!”,

“Seungkwan?”, Vernon called putting only his head inside the room, raising his eyebrows when he saw Momo sitting on the bed without the frightened expression of before, “Oh! Hi.”

“Hi.”

“Did you get everything?”, Seungkwan asked calling Vernon into the room.

“Yes, the food is in the kitchen and I brought this”, Vernon held out the bag with clothes, “I hope it suits her.”

“Me too”, Seungkwan looked inside the bag and smiled at the girl who just watched their conversation, “It's clothes. You can take a shower and change if you want. The bathroom is right there.”

“Okay”, Momo nodded getting up with the first aid kit and taking the bag from Seungkwan's hands.

“Are you okay to take care of the injuries or do you want me to call a doctor?”

“I am fine. Thank you.”

“No need to thank”, Vernon left the room so she could pass.

“When you finish you can look for us in the kitchen, we'll be waiting for you there with the food.”

Momo nodded and gave them a small smile before closing the bathroom door. Seungkwan blew out a long breath and faced Vernon at his side, the same one who had a little shrugged shoulder and a slight pink on his cheeks.

“What?”

“You’re shy?”, Seungkwan asked, raising an eyebrow with an amused smile, “Really Vernon?”

Vernon opened his mouth to answer, but the sound of a call ring from the room made him close his mouth and go straight to the room in quick steps. Seungkwan ended up laughing at that reaction and took his notebook, only then going to the room and meeting his leaders again.

“Seungkwan managed to talk to her”, Vernon said looking at the elder.

“Did you call a doctor?”

“She said she doesn't need one”, Seungkwan replied opening his notebook, “Her name is Hirai Momo and, counting on her, four girls have already been handed over to someone.”

“So we have six girls to rescue today”, S.Coups looked at Woozi, “The others must be in Thailand. Or on the way there.”

“I thought the same thing. Should I send the names to Lisa?”

“We will send on Monday with the photos and everything we have until now”, Woozi replied and Seungkwan nodded, “Let's focus first on those in the club.”

“I already called the Busan deputy, he will contact you Vernon”, S.Coups spoke again, “He is putting together a team and as soon as everything is ready he will inform you of the time and how they will do everything.”

“Okay, I'll wait then.”

“Seungkwan try to get as much information from her. On Monday we are also going to interrogate the dirty little fat man here in Seoul.”

“Oh how great!”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, causing some laughter in the leaders, “I can't wait.”

“She should be back by now. I'll prepare the ramén”, Vernon pointed to the kitchen and Seungkwan pressed his lips with the American's quick steps.

“You have a shy agent. Did you know that, Coups?”, Seungkwan provoked imagining the frown on the American's face.

“Vernonie! She won't bite you. You can rest easy”, S.Coups scoffed laughing, “Well, at least I think.”

“But it would be funny if she did.”

“Could you stop talking about me? Thank you!”, Vernon grunted angrily and Seungkwan covered his lips to keep from laughing.

“Okay then we continue.”

“Let us know when you’re ready, Vernon.”

“Yes sir.”

“That’s it! You will stay in Busan for the rest of the week!”, S.Coups answered seriously and Seungkwan ended up letting out a chuckle, “End of the call.”

“What's wrong with calling him sir?”, Seungkwan asked supporting his arms on the small kitchen table.

“He feels old”, Vernon shrugged holding out the chopsticks and kimchi for Seungkwan to put them on the table, “Coups is always on a new diet, goes to the gym every day and takes better care of himself than the whole team put together.”

“He really has a great body”, Seungkwan commented, seeing the American arch an eyebrow with an amused smile, “Shut up, Vernon.”

“I said nothing!”

“But you were about to say!”, Seungkwan pointed a chopstick at the American who started laughing but stopped as soon as he noticed Momo's presence in the kitchen, “Ah you came back! Do you feel better after the shower?”

“Yes, thank you”, Momo nodded as she sat in one of the chairs, “Oh, and the clothes are great.”

“I’m glad”, Vernon placed the three cups of ramen on a tray and carried it to the table, “Be careful, it's very hot.”

“Shy and worried. I'm impressed Vernon”, Seungkwan joked sitting down. Vernon looked at him seriously, raising a fist as a threat. Seungkwan didn't care and used the chopsticks to grab some kimchi and offer to the American with an innocent look, “Kimchi?”

“Shut up!”, Vernon ended up laughing at Seungkwan's pout. He didn't know what it was, but something about the newbie was very attractive and funny in his view.

“Don’t mind him. You get used to it”, Seungkwan told the girl who just smiled and agreed, “So, Vernonie…”

“I swear I'll hit you with that chopstick!”

“How long do you think you have until the deputy calls you?”, Seungkwan asked without caring about the threat.

“Coups said he's recruiting a team, so I think maybe an hour”, Vernon shrugged, wiping his mouth, “I just hope they're not a bunch of idiots.”

“Don't be an asshole and lead them, Vernon.”

“Don't worry, I'll be really nice!”, Vernon forced a smile and Seungkwan rolled his eyes.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“Okay you idiots, pay attention here!”, Vernon clapped his hands getting the attention of the ten men who were in that shed, “We have six girls to get out of that club, and one guy to arrest. I’ll go after the stinky chubby first, in the meantime I want two teams here. One will enter through the front door and the other through the back. Only shoot if it’s necessary, and for God's sake, don't hurt the girls! Did you understand?”

“Do what he said. Divide yourself and stand by!”, The deputy ordered, and all ten men nodded and began to divide. He turned to Vernon and held out his hand to greet him, “S.Coups said you were young, but that he had complete confidence in you. Now I know why.”

“I just try to do my best”, Vernon responded by checking if his gun was properly loaded, “We'll have an ambulance here, right? The girl with us was hurt so the others should be hurt too.”

“The two ambulances are on their way. We'll close the nightclub street as soon as the operation starts.”

“We're about to start, give me five minutes”, Vernon said taking out his cell phone and making the video call with the two leaders and Seungkwan, “Hello again.”

“Everything is ready?”, S.Coups asked. He looked tired just like Woozi who had a few buttons on his shirt open.

“Yes, the team is already created and divided. I’ll go after Minoru while they rescue the girls. I think it's the best option.”

“Perfect. Seungkwan-ah, is the girl okay with you?”

“Yeah, she’s right here”, Seungkwan replied, “In ten minutes, we're going to the club to meet the deputy.”

“What is that noise?”, Woozi asked, and Vernon could see Seungkwan run a hand through his hair.

“Hm... While we were waiting, I found a concert on tv. You know, just to pass the time.”

“Whose concert?”

Is that Girls Generation?”, Woozi asked.

“No…”, Seungkwan replied and seeing that none of the three believed he shook his shoulders, “Live in Japan.”

“I love this one!”, Woozi said looking at S.Coups who pressed his lips not to laugh, “You know that.”

“Okay…”, Vernon was also trying his best not to laugh at the newbie, “I'm going to start the operation. You can bring her if you want Seungkwan.”

We’ll be there in ten minutes!”

“Great. Good luck Vernon.”

“And be careful. Hoshi will kill me if something happens to you.”

“I got this, Coups. Don’t worry.”

“See you two later.”

Vernon hung up the call and kept his cell phone. He checked once again if his vest was properly fastened and carried the gun, leaving it in hand.

“Come on guys! On my sign!”

“Yes sir!”

Vernon opened the shed door and led both teams, signaling one of them to run to the back of the club as he headed for the entrance. The two security guards rushed into the nightclub when they saw the officers approaching. Vernon smiled at it and ran up to them, kicking the door before they could close it.

“Get the innocent out of here and look for the girls!” Vernon shouted to the five men behind him who didn't even hesitate to enter the club.

Vernon ran down the side corridor where he remembered seeing the woman follow earlier that afternoon. The closer he gets to the end of the hall, the stronger that horrible smell became. That reminded him of Seungkwan and how much he'd be hating being there.

“Focus Vernon”, Vernon said to himself and paused for a moment when he heard a noise on the floor, “What the fuck...”

Vernon lowered himself and saw some kind of lock on the floor, which indicated that it was a secret compartment.

“Okay, you stay for later”, Vernon said raising his head when he saw someone running down the hall, “Hey! Come back here!”

Vernon ran after the man and just by the smell he could tell he was Minoru. He followed the man with the gun in his hand and saw him enter a room at the end of the hall. Again, he kicked the door before it was closed, running into the chubby, stinky Japanese who had a frightened expression.

“Hi bro”, Vernon smiled sarcastically and approached the man who walked backwards, “Stop walking! You have no way out.”

Minoru pushed a chair toward the agent, only to gain a few seconds and get to the empty bottle on the table. It was the time for Vernon to kick the chair to the side and Minoru to turn around with the bottle in his hands, directly hitting the face of the agent who ended up losing his balance with the impact.

“What the fuck is this, Minoru?!”, Vernon asked angrily putting his hand on his face and seeing the blood.

“I'm sorry, kid! But I can't go back to jail!”, Minoru said running toward the agent and pushing him against the wall.

Vernon was still feeling dizzy, but he still managed to hit Minoru in the face with the gun he was holding. It was not difficult to make him move away and then sweep his legs, making him fall and face down with the broken glass from the bottle.

“I didn't give you a choice!”, Vernon lowered his knee to the neck of the Japanese man who was now grumbling in pain at the impact, “Are there only six girls in this club?”

“I… I don’t know”, Minoru replied, and Vernon rolled his eyes impatiently, unlocking the gun and scaring the Japanese, “Okay! Okay! I hate this man... There are six of them. In the basement.”

“And what else?”

“Nothing! I swear!”

“Whatever. We'll have plenty of time to talk later.”

“You can't beat him, boy.”

“What did you say?”

“You can arrest me. Arrest ChungHo and his ugly brother, but you can't get to Khalan. And if you do, he will find a way to stop each of you”, Minoru said in a tired tone and Vernon stared at him for a few seconds before taking the cuffs out of his pocket.

“So he better not see us coming.”

Vernon handcuffed Minoru's hands and lifted him up, pushing him out of that room. He can see that the running and shouting was over and that there were several police cars closing the street.

“You can take this one. And force him to take a shower at the police station, please.”

Vernon told the officer that nodded and put Minoru in the car. Before leaving, the Japanese man gave the agent a significant look, and Vernon just kept his expression serious and walked away.

He didn't have time to think about Minoru's words, especially with a paramedic running towards him to see his injured face.

Chapter Text

Busan, South Korea.

325 km from Seoul, 00:03 AM.

 

“I think the show is already over by now”, Seungkwan said stopping the car next to the signs that closed the street.

“Do you think everything went well?”, Momo asked worriedly.

“Yes, I'm sure. Vernon is very good and has experience too”, Seungkwan smiled and took off his seatbelt, “Let’s go? I need to talk to the deputy and look for my partner.”

Momo nodded and got out of the car with the agent. Seungkwan locked the car and started to walk towards the parked cars with the sirens on. He realized that the girl was scared and even shrunk by his side.

“It’s okay, nothing will happen to you”, Seungkwan smiled, “Just stay close to me, okay?”

“Have you done this before?”

“No, it’s my first time actually”, Seungkwan said thoughtful, “But that's okay. I have a badge and a beautiful smile.”

Momo couldn’t help but smile at that answer. She had liked the agent and how he tried to make her comfortable all the time.

“Deputy Hyun?”, Seungkwan called and one of several policemen looked at him. He smiled and showed the badge with his name, “I'm an agent from the Coups’s team.”

“Oh! You must be Boo Seungkwan”, The deputy approached and held up the ribbon for the two of them, not long before shaking hands with the youngest, “It's a pleasure!”

“It's my pleasure!”, Seungkwan kept his badge and looked around, “How was the operation?”

“As expected, a success!”, The deputy smiled, “All the girls have been safely rescued and are receiving proper care in the ambulances. After that we will take them to an accommodation for the night and tomorrow everyone will be sent home.”

“Ah that’s awesome!”, Seungkwan smiled happily and turned to the girl behind him who was just watching everything, “Deputy Hyun, this is Hirai Momo. We rescued her early in the afternoon.”

“Good night, miss”, The deputy said bowing.

“Momo, I'm going to leave you with Deputy Hyun now, okay?”

“It's all right. I will always be grateful to you two for helping me so much!”, Momo said hugging the agent who was surprised but returned the hug, “Thank you Seungkwan!”

“You don't have to thank me”, Seungkwan smiled, “Actually, we thank you! With your help we will be able to find the other girls and that includes your wife.”

“I know you can't promise me anything, but please find her”, Momo asked, and the agent could see the hope in those eyes.

“I can promise that I will do my best. Here, take this”, Seungkwan said taking a piece of paper from his pocket, “This is my number. When you get home, text me so I can save yours. I promise that as soon as we find your wife I will be the first to call you, okay?”

Momo nodded and hugged the agent and thanked him again, before following the policeman to the van where the other girls were.

“You’re a good boy”, The deputy said and Seungkwan smiled embarrassedly, “I think you're going to talk to your boss later today, so you can give him the good news and ask him to call me when he can, okay?”

“Sure, I will tell him. Do you know where Vernon is?”, Seungkwan asked, and the deputy pointed across the street where the agent was sitting on the sidewalk alone and holding an ice pack against his face.

“He's a good boy and led my team very well. He's very brave too, but a little tough. He accepted no more than an ice bag from the paramedics.”

“Yeah, I notice that”, Seungkwan shook his head and held out his hand to the deputy once again, “Thank you very much again, deputy Hyun. Coups will keep in touch with you.”

Seungkwan walked away from the police and crossed the street slowly, sitting next to the agent who kept his head down and eyes closed. He remained silent for a few more seconds and blew out a breath, watching the smoke get lost in the air due to the low temperature.

“Is she gone?”, Vernon asked quietly and Seungkwan felt a chill with his thick voice.

“Yes”, Seungkwan replied in the same tone, “She thanked you for your help.”

“I was just doing my job.”

“This is called empathy, Vernon.”

“Whatever.”

“You managed to arrest Minoru, the girls are safe, and we can sleep peacefully for now.”

“How do you know I arrested him?”, Vernon asked raising his head.

“Because I trust you”, Seungkwan replied simply, “I know you wouldn't fail.”

Vernon continued to stare at the newbie just one eye, as he was still pressing the ice pack to his left eye. He felt something strange with those words. Something he hadn't felt in a long time.

Something good.

“I told you to stop being so nice”, Vernon said looking away. He could hear a laugh from the man beside him.

“Sorry, I can't do that”, Seungkwan smiled and turned to the American, “Can I have a look at this? Or are you going to play tough with me too?”

“I play hard to get, you know?”, Vernon joked.

“Yeah? Me too. Now show me your face”, Seungkwan ordered, and Vernon slowly removed the ice bag from his face, seeing the newbie's grimace, “Oh ok this is really ugly.”

“Thanks”, Vernon mocked, covering his face again with the ice pack.

“I can fix this. Let's go to the hotel and I'll help you okay?”

Vernon stared at the older man's outstretched hand and hesitated a little before holding it and getting up. As soon as he stood he let go of Seungkwan's hand quickly, sticking it in his pants pocket.

Seungkwan found that attitude strange but said nothing. He just drove the American to the car and took the wheel. The trip was made in complete silence, Seungkwan could see that Vernon was in pain only from the heavy breathing and the grimaces he made.

As soon as they arrived at the hotel, Seungkwan left Vernon on the couch and went to the bathroom to get the first aid kit. When he returned to the living room, he could see that the American had already taken off his vest, leaving only a white T-shirt that now had some blood remnants.

He shook his head and headed to the couch, leaving the briefcase between the two and picking up a few pieces of cotton and wetting them in the alcohol.

“This may hurt a little”, Seungkwan said by picking up the tweezers to take out some very small pieces of glass that were still on the American's eyebrow.

“It’s okay. I’ve had worst”, Vernon replied closing his eyes.

“Yeah, I remember”, Seungkwan looked closer at Vernon's face who was looking down, “What happened?”

“Minoru broke a beer bottle in my face”, Vernon replied and stared at the newbie's frightened eyes, “He wanted to run away and decided to rip my face off.”

“That stinky bastard!”, Seungkwan grunted dropping the tweezers and Vernon smiled.

“It's okay, it was nothing so serious.”

“Good, isn't it?”, Seungkwan held the American's chin and Vernon restrained the urge to close his eyes, “From the amount of blood I thought it was a long cut, but it is very small.”

“Good…”

“Even so, I will need to make some stitches”, Seungkwan wiped the blood off the eyebrow, avoiding looking into the eyes that were so close to his.

“It's the second time you've taken care of my face”, Vernon commented curiously, “Where did you learn that from?”

“When I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor”, Seungkwan replied simply, “So I had some classes of first aid in high school. But then I gave up on the idea.”

“You would be a good doctor”, Vernon said, his voice slurred and sleepy, so he wasn't paying much attention to what he was saying.

“You think so?”, Seungkwan asked and saw the American nod, closing his eyes, “Hey! You can't sleep now.”

“I’m sleepy…”

“But you got hit on the head. Wait a few more minutes okay?”

“My head hurts…”

“I know. I'll finish the stitches and give you a painkiller. Then you will take a shower, and only then you can sleep.”

“You’re such a bossy!”, Vernon grunted and Seungkwan smiled.

“And you're a grumpy child. Now look at me, you do that a lot so it's not going to be hard.”

Vernon opened his eyes and looked directly into the eldest eyes. And so he stayed until Seungkwan finished the five stitches in his eyebrow. It didn't hurt as much as he expected because of the ice before, but it was still uncomfortable.

“Okay it’s done. In a few days it will be back to normal”, Seungkwan finished with a smile, “Now take this pill, a hot shower and go to sleep.”

“Okay”, Vernon took the pill and watched the eldest collect the bloodstained cottons, “Want help?”

“No need. You need to rest”, Seungkwan denied getting up, “I'm going to talk to Coups, don't worry.”

“All right”, Vernon sighed and stood up, “Thank you Seungkwan-ah.”

“You're welcome”, Seungkwan smiled, and Vernon went to the bedroom to get a towel.

He entered the bathroom and looked closely at the stitches Seungkwan had made and was impressed at how good it was. It was really a small cut, but it would probably form a scar.

When in contact with the hot water he could feel his body relaxing, as if all the tension of the day were going down the drain. He thought about everything he had done that day, and it seemed unbelievable, but he was already used to the rush that his job required.

Vernon took a quick shower, wanted to sleep as soon as possible. But as soon as he stepped out of the bathroom stall he realized that he had just taken the towel.

“Oh how great!”, Vernon grumbled and tied the towel around his waist.

He opened the bathroom door slowly and put his head out, listening to Seungkwan's voice in the living room where he would probably be talking to S.Coups.

“Okay you can do this. Your pajamas are on the bed so just run and grab it!”, Vernon spoke to himself and took another look in the hallway before opening the door and running to the room.

The only problem is that he was still a little dizzy and his feet were wet. What was supposed to be a quick and easy mission resulted in a tremendous fall in the middle of the corridor.

“Fuck!”, Vernon cursed by putting his hand on his back.

“Vernon?! What do you-”, Seungkwan ran down the corridor with his cell phone in his ear and wide-eyed when he saw the youngest lying on the floor only with a towel in his waist, “What the fuck happened here?!”

“I... I slipped”, Vernon replied embarrassed and saw Seungkwan undecided at looking at his face or body.

“Do you...”, Seungkwan cleared his throat and stared at the American's eyes, “Do you need help?”

“No! I'm fine!”, Vernon stood up holding the towel firmly. He didn't want it to let go and he'd put on another shame in that night.

“Ok then”, Seungkwan looked again at the American and put his phone in his ear again, “Coups? Yeah, we’re good. Vernon had an incident, but nothing serious.”

Vernon sighed and went to the room to finally get his clothes. His back hurt on impact, but he appreciates that he already took a painkiller.

He put an underwear and his pants quickly, just to avoid any other incident. And as predicted, seconds later Seungkwan entered the room already wearing his pajamas.

“Coups told you to be more careful”, Seungkwan joked sitting on his bed, avoiding looking at the shirtless boy in front of him.

“I'm still a little dizzy”, Vernon said by putting on a t-shirt and sitting on the bed. The two stared at each other for a few seconds before they started laughing, “I'm pathetic!”

“All right, you get a discount for being hurt”, Seungkwan laughed and fixed himself in bed, leaving his cell phone on the nightstand, “Coups congratulated us on the operation, said we should rest and come home tomorrow. Monday we talk about everything that happened.”

“Great, because I'm almost dead”, Vernon lay down and closed his eyes, feeling his head spin a little, “I feel like I have a hangover.”

“If you feel bad you can wake me up. I can call one of the doctors.”

“Don't worry, I’m fine.”

“Such a kid”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes and turned off the lamp.

“What did you say?”

“I said good night, Vernon-ah!”, Seungkwan smiled, and Vernon narrowed his eyes at him before turning off his lamp.

“Good night Seungkwan.”

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

325 km from Busan, 11:42 AM.

 

“Are you sure that we won't need gochugaru?”, Jeonghan asked leaving the bags on the kitchen table.

“Yes, I'm sure”, Joshua laughed opening the cabinets, and taking everything he needed.

“So you're saying you're going to teach me how to make macaroni and cheese and we're not going to put even a pinch of gochugaru?”,

“Exactly.”

“I don't believe you!”, Jeonghan crossed his arms and Joshua laughed as he put water to boil, “What now? You gonna tell me we're not going to use cheese either?”

“Hannie, it's not going to match the original recipe”, Joshua explained seeing the mocking smile of the elder.

“Babe, we're in Korea”, Jeonghan said shaking the American's shoulders, which made him sigh.

“Okay, we can put a little bit.”

“Jisoo, I'm messing with you”, Jeonghan laughed holding the American's face, “You need to learn how to say no to me.”

“You talk like it's an easy thing to do”, Joshua rolled his eyes, receiving a peck on the lips from the older one.

“You can do it. Now teach me how to cook this.”

Jeonghan spent the next few minutes just paying attention to what Joshua said and doing what he asked. Sometimes he ended up being distracted by how handsome and careful his boyfriend was, and only turned his attention to the food when Joshua stared back at him.

While waiting for lunch to be ready, the two continued to talk at the kitchen table eating what was left of the cheese. In fact, it was more Jeonghan talking about his routine with the new recordings of the drama. Joshua was thoughtful that day, largely because he was thinking about the right time to tell Jeonghan the truth.

He had even planned to have that moment just to make the environment as peaceful as possible, but it was not having the effect he had hoped for.

“What do you think?”, Joshua asked after giving the elder some pasta.

“Sincerely? It’s better than I thought.”

“So we don't need a pinch of gochugaru?”, Joshua asked amused and Jeonghan smiled.

“No at all…”, Jeonghan shook his head taking the glass of wine, “But the next time we make this recipe I will put gochugaru.”

“Of course you will.”

Neither of them spokes much during lunch, they just enjoyed the food by saying something now and then. Joshua remained less talkative for obvious reasons and Jeonghan for observing the American's strange attitude.

After doing the dishes and cleaning up the kitchen, Jeonghan pulled the youngest to the sofa and turned on the television, but Joshua's silence started to irritate him.

“Okay, your silence is hurting my ears!”, Jeonghan said abruptly, making Joshua stop the affection he was doing in his hair.

“What do you mean?”

“Ah don't use that calm and sexy tone with me, Hong!”, Jeonghan grumbled, turning to face the youngest, “You are too quiet today. What happened?”

“Nothing happened, Han.”

“It happened and you will tell me what it is!”, Jeonghan said seriously and Joshua removed the arm that was over his shoulders, “Is it something at work?”

You bet it is, Joshua thought.

“Kind of…”, Joshua looked right into his boyfriend's eyes, which now showed concern. He thought about it, want to tell the truth about his work, but it was like something stopped him from saying what he wanted, “I... I'm just a little stressed out, Hannie. Don't worry.”

“Of course I will worry, Jisoo. I don't like having you in silence thinking too much”, Jeonghan said, resting a hand on the American's knee, “You can talk to me about anything that's bothering you.”

“I know that”, Joshua took his hand on his knee, playing with Jeonghan's long fingers, “But I don't want to ruin this day that we're having with troubles.”

“I don’t mind.”

“But I do”, Joshua opened a smile and put some of Jeonghan's long hair behind his ear, “Let's change the topic okay? I made something for you!”

“What it is?”, Jeonghan asked, still suspicious and saw his boyfriend put his hand in his pocket.

“You know I’ve been interested in jewelry lately, don't you?”, Joshua saw Jeonghan nod and looked at his hands embarrassed, “So, I made this for you. I know it's not good yet! But I wanted to give it to you anyway.”

Joshua showed the bracelet in blue and with the letters "JH" in white. It was a very simple bracelet, but for some reason Jeonghan thought it was the most beautiful thing in the world at that time.

“I'm still learning, so it's not so pretty”, Joshua said, embarrassed when the eldest remained silent looking at the bracelet, “I promise to make a prettier one for you.”

“What?!”, Jeonghan's eyes widened and he stared at his boyfriend completely surprised, “Jisoo what are you saying? I loved it!”

“Hannie you don’t have to-”

“Shut up! I really loved it!”, Jeonghan said with a smile so big that it made Joshua smile too, “You can make twenty bracelets, this will always be my favorite.”

“That was really...”

“Gay. I know that”, Jeonghan laughed, extending his arm, “Can you please put it on me?”

“Sure”, Joshua put the bracelet on Jeonghan's wrist carefully, “I’m-”

Joshua couldn’t speak, because soon Jeonghan's soft hands were holding his face and lips on his. Neither could contain the smile during that kiss that lasted no more than a few seconds, but that was enough to make Joshua calm again.

“This is the cutest thing you've ever done. And I already saw you waking up!”, Jeonghan said making Joshua laugh, “Forget it, you're scrunching your nose while smiling. This is the cutest thing you've ever done!”

“Stop it!”, Joshua hid his face on Jeonghan's neck, hugging his defined body and pulling him to lie on top of his body on the sofa, “I'm glad you liked it.”

“I bet you took a few hours to make it, am I right?”

“You always are”, Joshua put Jeonghan's hair back and kissed his lips again, “I really love you, Hannie.”

“I love you too, Jisoo”, Jeonghan replied softly, a little surprised by that spontaneous statement.

They spent the rest of the afternoon cuddling on that couch watching the programs on TV. Sometimes they laughed at some scene, sometimes they exchanged kisses and stayed like that until Jeonghan ended up sleeping with the affection he was receiving.

Joshua looked at the sleeping boy in his arms and couldn't help but smile. He loved Jeonghan so much in such a short time, that the mere fact of hiding a single thing from him made him feel bad.

He knew he needed to resolve this as soon as possible. He just needed a little courage.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Busan, South Korea.

325 km from Seoul, 1:30 PM.

 

“Are you ready?”, Vernon asked when Seungkwan left the room with his suitcase in hand.

“Yep!”, Seungkwan replied taking the car keys, “How's your head?”

“Better.”

“What about your back?”, Seungkwan had an amused smile on his lips, which made Vernon roll his eyes.

“It’s great. So great that I could drive.”

“No way!”, Seungkwan denied locking the door and calling the elevator, “You had a blow to the head and back yesterday, so I drive. Besides, you've already brought us here so nothing fairer than me taking us back, right?”

“I’m not completely incapable, you know?”

“And I’m not useless.”

Vernon pressed the button on the ground floor and faced Seungkwan who was just looking at the keys in his hands. He didn’t like the tone of voice the newbie used, as if he was bothered or upset about something.

Was that something I said?, Vernon thought.

When he opened his mouth to ask what had happened the elevator doors opened and Seungkwan left with the suitcase on his back, leaving a confused Vernon behind.

They checked out and went to the parking lot. When they left the hotel Vernon looked at the boy next to him and then at his hands, then asking what he wanted.

“Are you upset?”

“No.”

“Was it something I said?”, Vernon asked ignoring his answer.

“No, it's just...”, Seungkwan sighed and looked quickly at the American, “Don't worry about it.”

“You said you're not useless”, Vernon said now staring at the newbie, “I didn't say you're useless.”

“I know.”

“I mean, you found out about Minoru, you found out about the girls at the club, you managed to talk to Momo and get even more information for the case, and on top of that fixed my face”, Vernon pointed to the stitches on his eyebrow and saw Seungkwan shake his head, “You’re far from useless.”

“I'm sorry, but since we arrived you talk to me like I'm going to do something stupid at any moment”, Seungkwan said without taking his eyes off the road, “I mean, I know I'm new to everything, but I'm not stupid.”

“I didn’t say you’re stupid either.”

“I know you didn't, but that's what I thought”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “At the club you were asking me every ten minutes if I had taken everything or if I remembered how I had to act. Then you left me out of the operation and now you didn't want to let me drive. Just... Have a little confidence in me, okay?”

Have a little confidence in me, this was the second time Seungkwan had said those words to him in less than 24 hours.

“Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon called and didn't get the newbie's attention, “I'm sorry if that was the impression I made. I don't think you're useless and much less stupid. On the contrary, you're very smart. But I received very specific orders to take care of you because it’s your first time in the field, I was just following orders.”

“Well, you followed the orders very well”, Seungkwan replied quietly. He didn't like hearing those words.

“No I’m-”, Vernon shook his head irritated by what he had just said, “Sorry if I treated you like a child. I was just trying to make you comfortable.”

“You don't have to do everything by yourself, Vernon”, Seungkwan looked at the American, “I mean, I’m a good driver!”

“Yeah you’re not that bad”, Vernon shook his head with a smile and got punched in the arm, “Hey! I'm still hurt!”

“Jerk!”

“Okay, seriously now. Sorry if I made you feel that way, it wasn't my intention. And I do trust you, it's just that I have a habit of doing things by myself”, Vernon shrugged, “And I was concerned about being a terrible company on your first field assignment.”

“What?!”, Seungkwan asked in surprise, “You were a great company! You’re funny!”

“What- I’m definitely not funny!”

“Of course you are!”, Seungkwan laughed, “You fell in the middle of the hall just in a towel yesterday, c’mon that was the best thing on this weekend after being shy in front of Momo!”

“That wasn’t funny!”

“'Oh my back... my back!'”, Seungkwan laughed, and Vernon ended up laughing too.

“I didn’t say that!”

“But your expression screamed that!”

“I said I was still dizzy!”, Vernon exclaimed, hearing Seungkwan's laughter again. He had liked that sound.

“Okay I’m going to pretend to believe it because you were really destroyed yesterday.”

“Look at you, all polite and now laughing at my misfortune”, Vernon shook his head with a judgmental look, “I'm going to report this to your leader.”

“Go ahead, he'll laugh at you too”, Seungkwan mocked, and Vernon shook his head with a restrained smile.

“I'm glad I didn't end up being so boring.”

“I’m glad too.”

The car went silent again and Vernon didn't like that. Which was strange because he liked the silence, but it was fun to hear Seungkwan’s soft voice or his contagious laugh.

Vernon didn't know what it was, but something made him want to do something he never did before: start a conversation.

“So… You like Girls Generation?”, Vernon asked instantly feeling like an idiot for the silly question.

“Was that a serious question or a joke?”

“I don’t make jokes.”

“Urgh! Stop being so serious, Vernonie!”, Seungkwan complained playfully, just to see the younger boy's angry expression with the nickname.

“Don’t call me that!”, Vernon threatened and Seungkwan lifted his shoulders, holding back laughter.

“Yes, I like Girls Generation. I like a lot of girl groups actually”, Seungkwan explained looking quickly at the guy next to him, “Is that a problem?”

“Not at all. I like some songs too.”

“And what else do you like?”

Vernon liked that question, because it showed that he was not the only one who was trying to have a conversation. They talked for a long time about things they liked and found out that they had some things in common, especially for food. The conversation ended only when Vernon took another painkiller and fell asleep.

Seungkwan took advantage of that moment to better observe the American, being able to see how beautiful he was even more with that late afternoon sun on his face. He shook his head to avoid those thoughts and focused on the road. He wanted to get home soon and rest from that busy weekend.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea

7:13 AM.

 

Seungkwan arrived at work early that Monday. He didn't know why, but he was excited to get back to work. Maybe it's because of the many discoveries he and Vernon made that weekend.

When he thought of the American, a happy smile formed on his lips. The two were starting to have a better relationship and that excited him.

“Good morning, Shua hyung!”, Seungkwan said sitting next to the elder after buying his coffee.

“Morning Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua replied in a softer than usual tone. Seungkwan could feel the sad tone in his voice.

“Are you ok?”

“Not really”, Joshua sighed looking at the youngest, “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure hyung. What is it?”

“How would you tell your brothers about our work?”

“I haven't stopped to think about it yet”, Seungkwan looked thoughtfully at the table, “But I think maybe I would bring it up during dinner or while watching a movie.”

“Really? That easy?”

“Nah! I would probably scream in the middle of the hall and run back to my room.”

“He would definitely do that”, Mingyu said sitting next to Joshua, “I can imagine the scene!”

“Of course, you can. You’d be with me and would run away right after!”, Seungkwan laughed seeing his best friend agree with a smile.

“You two certainly had sex before, right?”, Joshua asked and Seungkwan almost choked on his coffee, feeling his lip burn which made Mingyu burst out laughing.

“You are so smart, Shua. You should switch teams”, The8 said amusingly joining the table with Jun, Hoshi and Woozi.

“He's one of the best I have, Minghao! The best part is that he can be agile and smart!”, Hoshi said having a hi-five with Joshua, who was now smirking.

“Are you calling us idiots?”, Vernon asked stopping behind Mingyu and Jun who now looked at the leader seriously.

“What? Of course not!”, Hoshi laughed nervously as The8 and Woozi looked at him with a satisfied smile, “Stop looking at me like that!”

Everyone at that table started arguing and Seungkwan was lost in the midst of so many different voices. He still had a hand on his lips from the hot coffee, and when he looked up at Vernon, he saw an amused smile on his lips because of the mess he had caused among the agents.

Vernon went away to buy his coffee and Seungkwan followed him with a look. He noticed how pretty he was that morning with the gray suit and his hair well combed as always. If Seungkwan hadn’t spent two days with the American in Busan, he could even imagine that he was always well dressed and with his hair combed. Little did he expect that in fact it was a tremendous mess.

“Wait! What was that?”, Woozi asked pointing to where Vernon had gone.

“I saw it too!”, Hoshi said with wide eyes.

“I thought I was seeing things”, Joshua said.

“What is it?”, Seungkwan asked confused.

“Vernon smiled, didn't you see?”, Jun said pointing to the youngest who was waiting for his order.

“And what's the problem?”, Seungkwan asked, still not understanding.

“Vernon doesn't smile”, The8 replied.

“Sometimes he smirks. And only at Joshua and Sangwoo”, Mingyu said with his mouth full, receiving a slap from Woozi.

“I see…”, Seungkwan looked back just to make sure the American wasn't coming back yet. And shaking his shoulders he continued, “He has a beautiful smile.”

The table was then silent. Everyone had stopped when Seungkwan said that, and everyone was looking at him with the same confused and surprised expression. Seungkwan took another sip of the coffee that was now warm and looked up when he found the silence strange, finding seven pairs of eyes staring at him.

“What?”

“What did you say?”, Jun asked confused.

“I said that he has a beautiful smile”, Seungkwan narrowed his eyes, “What's wrong with you guys?”

“We? What’s wrong with you?!”, Hoshi pointed out.

“Vernon do smile, hyung. He did a lot this weekend.”

“Okay, there's something really wrong here”, Woozi said and Seungkwan could see The8's curious look.

“What’s wrong?” Vernon asked sitting next to Seungkwan since it was the only vacant chair.

“Seungkwan said you have a beautiful smile, and we were telling him that you don't smile!”, Mingyu said at once and Seungkwan opened his eyes wide at him, “So please tell him that you don't smile to end the discussion.”

“Mingyu, you're such an idiot”, The8 laughed as he drank his tea again.

“Ah, really?”, Vernon asked looking at Seungkwan. He wanted to laugh when he saw that he was looking at Mingyu with a death glare, “Well, you guys are right.”

“Good! Now changing the topic”, Hoshi clapped his hands and smiled at the American, “Coups told me how you conducted the operation at the nightclub. I'm proud, Vernonie!”

“Don't call me that!”, Vernon rolled his eyes, but ended up with a little smile when Hoshi ruffled his hair, “Thanks Hoshi.”

“He did it again!”, Jun pointed again to the youngest.

“I’m also proud of you, Seungkwan-ah”, Woozi said getting up and doing a hi-five with the youngest, “You did really well on your first field mission.”

“Are you two competing by using both of them? Really?”, Joshua asked.

“Us? No!”, Hoshi denied laughing.

“We’re just being good leaders, you know?”, Woozi shook his head and Seungkwan stared at Vernon who had an expression of boredom with that conversation. It made him hold his laugh.

“Ok enough talk. We have work to do!”, Hoshi said standing up with the others, “Let's talk later, okay Vernon? “

“Yes sir”, Vernon shook his head and got up as slowly as possible, only to be able to walk beside Seungkwan who was kicking Mingyu's leg.

“Outch! What-”

“This is for you to learn to shut up!”, Seungkwan muttered under his breath and Vernon pressed his lips together to keep from laughing.

“But you-”

“Get out of here before I kick you again, Mingyu.”

Vernon saw his friend walking in a hurry and took the opportunity to get closer. They walked side by side down the hall, behind the other agents who continued to talk about something he had no interest at the time.

He didn't know what it was, but he had enjoyed being in the company of the eldest.

Maybe it was the two days of the trip, Vernon thought.

“How's your head?”, Seungkwan asked, attracting the American's attention.

“Much better. I didn't feel any pain at night.”

“That's great!”, Seungkwan smiled, “You should go to the infirmary in a few days to remove the stitches.”

“I thought you were going to remove them.”

“Oh... Okay, I can remove it”, Seungkwan ran a hand through his hair.

“So, in a week we took this off”, Vernon stopped when they arrived at the door of the intelligence office, “I'm going to talk to Hoshi about the operation. See you at lunch, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Okay, see you later”, Seungkwan waved and closed the office door, seeing Woozi and The8 staring at him with their arms crossed, “Hm... What’s up?”

“How was the weekend?”, Woozi asked.

“Too agitated”, Seungkwan stopped and imitated the two by crossing his arms as well, “What happened with you two today?!”

“We're just messing with you”, The8 laughed, pushing the younger boy's shoulder, “It's fun to piss you off.”

“You guys...”, Seungkwan started to complain, but ended up laughing.

“Okay now let's get serious about everything you and Vernon have achieved in those two days”, Woozi said, pulling out the whiteboard to write everything.

Seungkwan pulled out his chair and opened his notebook, telling everything he had discovered and recorded in those two days.

While they were writing all the information, The8 tried to find everything related to what they already had, tracing a line up to the photos of the men they already knew.

“Okay...”, Woozi said closing the pen cap, “Is that all we have so far?”

“I think so”, Seungkwan stood up with the folder Minoru had handed him, “We have to find the girls who weren't at the club.”

“And do you think they are in Bangkok?”, The8 asked without taking his eyes off the board full of information.

“It makes sense”, Seungkwan shook his head, “Momo would be handed over to ChungHo, and he was going to Bangkok.”

“Lisa is going to love this information”, Woozi laughed, taking out his cell phone, “I'm going to call her and send the photos of the missing girls. She told me she already has a new team for this case.”

“She's always ready”, The8 said, “I need to talk to Jisoo. I'll be right back.”

“I'll be right back, too. Good job, Seungkwan”, Woozi smiled at the youngest before leaving the room.

Seungkwan felt happy. He was trying his best to be helpful to the team and was incredibly pleased when he received any compliment. He left his notes and evidence on Woozi's desk and went to his own, starting the detailed weekend report he was supposed to file.

He wanted to be doing that report with Vernon since he didn't want to miss any details, especially with the operation the American had with Minoru.

“Should I call and ask him to come over here?”, Seungkwan asked himself to look at the extension on his desk, but jumping in fright when it started ringing, “Aish! Ah seriously...”

He looked at the extension and saw that it was actually Woozi's name that was red, which indicated that it was an external call directly to the leader. Looking at the door, he saw no sign of the leader, so he decided to answer it to at least write down the message.

He got up and ran to Woozi's desk, leaning on the table to answer the call. The leader's extension was the only one that received video calls, so he was surprised when he saw a man cleaning his glasses on the monitor.

“Hey Woozi... Oh, you're not Woozi!”, The man said confused and Seungkwan pressed his lips in shame.

“Unfortunately, not”, Seungkwan smiled and saw the man put his glasses back on, “Woozi is not in the room right now. And my name is Seungkwan by the way.”

“Ah yes, the new agent”, The man broke into a smile this time and Seungkwan couldn't help but notice how handsome he was, “Mingyu told me about you.”

“Do you know Mingyu?”

“Yes, we work together, and he spent two weeks with me in Tokyo”, He replied crossing his hands on the table, “I’m Jeon Wonwoo, nice to meet you!”

“Oh, I've heard your name here a few times”, Seungkwan smiled, “You're also part of the intelligence team, right? We're going to work together then.”

“That's great! Finally, another agent for the intelligence team. We were getting outnumbered”, Wonwoo laughed, “Seungkwan, can you leave a message for Woozi? Tell him that I'll be back in a few days and ask him to call me as soon as possible.”

“Okay, I'll let him know as soon as he gets back.”

“Great! When I get back, we'll get to know each other better, okay?”

“For sure! See you soon, Wonwoo.”

Wonwoo smiled one last time and waved before ending the call. Seungkwan wrote it down on a post-it notes on the leader's desk warning of the agent's call. He was so distracted thinking about how polite and handsome Wonwoo was, he didn't even notice the door opening.

“Messing up the leader's desk?”

“Aish!”, Seungkwan raised his head to find Vernon leaning against the door with his arms crossed, “Vernon-ah don't do that!”

“If you knew how funny it is to scare you, you would understand why we always do this.”

“I think it became a hobby among you guys”, Seungkwan grunted, and Vernon approached with an amused smile.

“Stop pouting, Seungkwan-ah.”

“I don't pout!”

“You're doing it again”, Vernon put his hands in his pockets and the newbie rolled his eyes back to his desk.

“I was thinking about calling you, but right now I want you to get out of here!”

“Why would you call me?”, Vernon asked, pulling up a chair to sit, “Did you miss me?”

“Seriously, get out of here!”, Seungkwan snapped pointing at the door and Vernon laughed, getting closer, “I'm not joking Vernon!”

“But I am, so stop being grouchy!”

“Aish you...”

“But seriously, why would you call me?”

“Because we need to report the operation, and I wanted to do it together with you.”

“Oh yeah”, Vernon nodded, “We can do it now.”

“Okay then”, Seungkwan opened the document on the computer and looked at the youngest at his side, “Why did you come here?”

“I... I came to talk to The8!”, Vernon answered quickly and was satisfied when the older one nodded and turned his attention to the computer.

“Right… So, I already wrote all the details of our first contact with the stinky chubby and also about everything Momo told me.”

“You didn't call him "stinky chubby" on the report, did you?”, Vernon asked approaching to read what the newbie had written.

“Of course not!”, Seungkwan denied it, but he still had a frown on his face when he remembered the smell of that club, “I thought that smell was going to stick to my skin.”

“Think on the positive side. You didn't have a physical fight with him”, Vernon pointed out and Seungkwan laughed.

“Thank God for that.”

“No. Thank Vernon for that.”

“What was in your coffee today?”, Seungkwan asked, staring at the American over his glasses.

“Coffee?”, Vernon asked amused, “Why?”

“You are... Different today”, Seungkwan replied, adjusting his glasses and turning his attention to the monitor.

“I look the same as always, Seungkwan-ah.”

“No, you're not!”, Seungkwan laughed incredulously, “You're... playing! You don't play games, Vernon.”

“How do you know that? You've only known me for a week.”

“Well, considering my daily coexistence with your surly and serious posture for a week, including the weekend, and also adding to everyone around me saying that you don't even smile, I came to the conclusion that today you are acting different”, Seungkwan replied with a bright smile for the youngest, “Did you like it?”

“Shut up and let’s finish this report”, Vernon said sulking and Seungkwan laughed again.

The two agents continued to describe all of the weekend's events in the report. And like Seungkwan, Vernon was also detail oriented and liked to make observations on the things he noticed during the operation.

And one of the things he made a point of mentioning was the secret compartment he found in the hallway of the club.

“And what was in the compartment?”, Seungkwan asked without taking his eyes off the monitor.

“Some weapons, drugs and a box with files. Everything was sent by the Busan deputy and they are in the expertise lab with Jisoo and Rosé.”

“Do you think there may be something about what's going to happen in Thailand?”

“Maybe. But I think it must be things related to his dirty work.”

“Hi boys!”, Woozi said entering the office, “How’s the report?”

“Long”, Vernon replied, settling back in his chair.

“And done!”

“Great! Send it to Coups, Hoshi and me please”, Woozi said going to his table, “Oh Wonwoo called me? "

“Yes, it's been a few minutes.”

“Ok I'm going to call him. But first, I want to talk to you.”

“About what?”

“Lisa found the place ChungHee is hiding. She has a new team focused on mapping his every step in Bangkok.”

“Lisa doesn't play on duty”, Vernon laughed happily and Woozi agreed with him.

“She asked for a few days to try to understand what they are doing in the city, and also to try to find some sign of the four missing girls. I gave her the whole week for this, but she will stay in touch.”

“That’s great! If they are really in Bangkok, we will be even closer to Khalan”, Seungkwan said.

“Exactly. That's why we’re going to work directly with her now. So you, The8 and Wonwoo, when he comes back, will have my permission to speak about the case directly with her if you need to.”

“Awesome! She seems to be a very good person to work with.”

“She is amazing. You'll get along with her”, Woozi smiled and took out his cell phone, “Now I'm going to ask you to go practice with The8 at the gym because after lunch we are going to talk to your stinky friend.”

“After lunch? Do you want to see me feeling sick?!”, Seungkwan asked, and Vernon bit his lip to keep from laughing.

“Do you prefer it to be before lunch to lose your appetite?”, Woozi asked, raising an eyebrow. Seungkwan grunted, locking the computer and leaving the room already taking off his tie, “I like this boy.”

“I can see that”, Vernon put the chair that was sitting back in place and faced the shorter one, “He's cool.”

“How was he at the operation?”

“Not bad. He knows how to control his expressions very well”, Vernon replied sincerely, “I was surprised by the glare he gave to Minoru. The guy was intimidated without him saying anything.”

“Mingyu didn't praise him for nothing”, Woozi laughed, “I'm glad that for a first operation everything went well, and we had no surprises.”

“Me too”, Vernon shook his head and put his hands in his pocket, “I need to talk to Hoshi. See you at lunch.”

“See you later, Vernonie.”

Woozi laughed at the younger boy's angry expression with the nickname and sat down at his desk, not long to dial Wonwoo's number.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Argh!”, Seungkwan let out a loud grunt when his back hit the gym floor, “That was a good one I have to admit.”

“Do you want me to take it easy?”, Mingyu asked in amusement.

“Oh Mingyu…”, Seungkwan laughed looking quickly at The8 who was with his arms crossed just watching the two of them, “How many times am I going to tell you the same thing?”

When Seungkwan told his new Chinese friend that he learned everything very quickly, he was serious about it.

The8 spent the first week focused on teaching tackles and defenses in the first attack, so he had already hit his back in that same position at least twenty times a day. But the difference is that now he knew how to get rid of it.

In a movement so fast that even he didn't know how he managed to do it, Seungkwan managed to put his right leg between Mingyu's, making an effort to hold his support arm at the same time that his forehead collided with his friend's.

Mingyu let his guard down for half a second with the speed of his movements, and when he noticed Seungkwan he had already reversed his positions with just one hip movement. It didn't take much for Seungkwan to push his friend to the ground and immobilize the support arm he was holding tightly.

“I always stay on top”, Seungkwan mocked pulling his long arm even more, hearing an uncomfortable groan from Mingyu.

“Okay! You won!”, Mingyu said with difficulty hitting one of the Seungkwan's legs.

“That was very good, Seungkwan!”, The8 said happily lowering himself beside the two men on the floor, “And I’m sure that between you two, you were the bottom Mingyu.”

“Shut up!”, Mingyu grunted with a hand on his aching shoulder.

“What did I teach you? Never make fun of your opponent before he is unconscious or dead”, The8 said, tapping Mingyu's red forehead.

“Let's ignore the dead part here, okay?”, Seungkwan said lying on the floor next to his friend, “Sorry for the head-butt.”

“How can you be smiling after a head-butt like that?”, Mingyu asked massaging the sore region and Seungkwan laughed next to The8.

“There is a specific point on your forehead where you can hit without getting hurt”, Seungkwan replied.

“And apparently the whole time I made you hit the sandbag with your forehead it was worth it”, The8 laughed getting up.

“Thanks? I guess.”

“The day you use this technique on a mission, the first thing you will do will be to thank me”, The8 warned helping the newbie to get up.

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

“Seungkwan-ah!”, Vernon called while entering the gym, “Woozi asked me to... What the hell happened to you?”, He asked looking at Mingyu who was still lying on the floor.

“Seungkwan knocked him out”, The8 replied with a happy smile on his lips.

“It wasn't that! I just lost a fight”, Mingyu replied sulkily.

“Are you sure you lost just the fight?", Vernon asked getting a sharp look from the older one, “Okay I got it!"

“What does Woozi want with me?”, Seungkwan asked getting the American's attention again.

“Oh yeah. He asked me to call you for lunch. We are going to have lunch together because your stinky friend has arrived, and we are going to interrogate him.”

“First, he’s not my friend. Second, already?”, Seungkwan asked, and Vernon shook his head confirming.

“Sounds like fun. Can I go too?”, The8 asked excited.

“Please!”, Seungkwan asked, running a hand across his sweaty face, “I'm going to take a shower and meet you at the restaurant.”

“Okay. Mingyu, Hoshi and Sangwoo want to talk to you in his office.”

“You’re delivering a lot of messages today, Vernonie”, Mingyu joked.

“He's helpful today, how cute!”

Seungkwan smiled when he saw the two teasing Vernon, the same one who had a serious expression now as if he were ready to punch the two friends without thinking twice.

He took the towel from his locker and went to take a hot shower in order to relax the muscles that were still tense because of the fight he had with Mingyu, and also to prepare for his first interrogation.

This was going to be a long day.

Chapter Text

Interrogation Room.

2:26 PM.

 

“Are you sure you are ready for this?”, Vernon asked entering the interrogation room with Seungkwan by his side.

“I'm sure”, Seungkwan replied looking at his notes in his notebook.

“If you’re nervous or feel uncomfortable just let me know.”

“I’m not nervous, but thanks.”

“I’m serious. You can just give me a look, or we can combine a sign and-”

“Vernon!”, Seungkwan called, looking intently at the American, “You’re doing it again.”

Shit”, Vernon grunted, pressing his lips together, “I'm sorry.”

“Hi boys!”, S.Coups entered the room with Hoshi, Woozi and The8 behind him. He had an excited smile on his face, as if he were looking forward to that moment, “You two can start whenever you want. The four of us are going to be watching everything from here.”

“Put this on”, The8 handed out a communicator to each one, “If anyone here has any questions, you will know via the communicators.”

“Where do you get these cool things?”, Hoshi asked looking at Vernon's communicator with interest.

“In a place where you’re forbidden to get close”, The8 responded doing a hi-five with Woozi.

“This is so unfair!”

“Anyway!”, S.Coups drew attention to himself again before it turned into another fight between the three agents, “Good luck, Seungkwan. You will do well, so don't worry.”

“Thanks, Coups!”, Seungkwan smiled happily and felt a touch on his arm.

“Let’s go? I heard he took a shower”, Vernon tried to joke.

“There is no bath in this world that removes that smell, Vernon. You know that”, Seungkwan replied opening the black door for the two to enter the room.

As soon as the two entered the room Seungkwan could look around quickly. The room was entirely black, and he knew that those walls should be extremely thick because they were soundproof. The famous frosted glass window took almost all the wall behind the table, which was the table that Minoru was sitting.

Right away Seungkwan could already notice that that horrible smell no longer exists, and that the hair that was once oily was now clean and trapped in a ponytail.

Thank God for that, Seungkwan though.

“Orange looks good on you”, Vernon said throwing a folder on the table before sitting.

“And normal eyes look good on you”, Minoru replied ironically, receiving a sarcastic smile from Vernon.

“What's up bro?”, Seungkwan smiled as he sat next to Vernon, “How have you been? I think better than the girls who are missing, don't you think?”

“I have nothing to do with this, kid.”

“Kid? I thought we were bros.”

“I already said to your weird friend”, Minoru said looking at Vernon, “You can't stop Khalan.”

“And who said we're here for Khalan?”, Seungkwan asked, and Vernon opened the folder with pictures of the four girls who were missing, “One step at a time, right? First, they got ChungHo. Then we got you, and now we want to know where, and with who, these girls are.”

“Good one, Seungkwan”, Woozi said.

“I just know that they would be taken to Thailand.”

“Vernon, push him a little bit”, S.Coups said.

“Why don't we do it like this. You tell us everything you know, and in return we let you go back to jail without even a scratch. What do you think?”, Vernon asked, resting his hands on the table and Seungkwan was surprised by the tranquility he emanated.

“Your stiches are well made. Still hurts?”

The mocking tone in Minoru's voice even made Seungkwan angry, because he knew the Japanese was just trying to destabilize Vernon. And when he looked at the agent next to him, he was sure the other one had succeeded.

“Do you think I'm fucking kidding?!", Vernon asked punching the table so hard that even made the four agents outside scared.

He stood up abruptly, pushing his chair back and stopping behind the Japanese man. Seungkwan continued to stare at him, hoping he wouldn't do anything wrong at that moment. It was the first time he had seen Vernon irritated, and he was not really enjoying the feeling.

Vernon, get into his mind. Don't let him piss you off!”, Hoshi said and Seungkwan saw the American's expression soften a little.

“You are Japanese, right? Hm... Seungkwan, do we have a spot in Fuchu?”, Vernon asked and in the same second Minoru's expression went from sarcastic to scared.

“Recently opened one.”

“How wonderful!”, Vernon squeezed Minoru's shoulder and bent down until it was level with his ear, “Pay attention, you stinky shit. Are you going to tell us all the details of that shit you're up to, or do I have to send you to Fuchu?”

“I just say that they are really pissed off”, Seungkwan said quietly. He could see the sweat forming on the Japanese man's forehead, “I think you must know who escaped from there, don't you? Then you know what they can do when we send someone related to him there.”

“So are you going to open this fucking mouth, or do I have to make a call?”

Minoru said nothing, but it was not necessary either. The frightened expression and sweat on his face already showed how terrified he was. Seungkwan gave Vernon a meaningful look and in a few seconds the American was sitting next to him again.

“Yep! That was easy, huh?”, Seungkwan mocked taking the first photo on the table and raising it for the Japanese to look at, “You can start by saying who's with this girl, please.”

“And if we find out that you lied to us, we will send you to Fuchu faster that you can imagine.”

“It won't be necessary”, Minoru said rubbing his handcuffed hands, “I can cooperate with what I remember.”

“Alright, we'll make you remember the rest later”, Seungkwan shook the photo of the girl in his hands again, “Come on, who took this girl?”

“This blonde is with ChungHee himself”, Minoru replied and Seungkwan held out the photo for Vernon to write down below, “He has a certain fetish for Japanese blondes.”

“That's not what I asked”, Seungkwan cut down, also taking notes in his notebook, since that was Momo's wife, that is, a particular case for him, “And this one?”

“These two are with Lee Doyun. He is responsible for delivering drugs to Jakarta.”

“Okay”, Vernon wrote down the name under the two photos, “And the last one?”

“Son Yejun. He’s usually in the Philippines, but he is an old friend of Khalan's, so he was invited to the big event.”

“Ask about this event”, S.Coups’s voice was there again.

“What does Khalan intend to do for this 'event'? And why in Thailand?”, Seungkwan asked.

“Khalan is... extravagant. He wants to show that he managed to escape from the maximum-security prison. He wants to show that he has power. He wants to show that he is back”, Minoru replied, staring into Seungkwan's eyes, “He wants to show that he is bigger and better than each and every one of you.”

“Well,”, Seungkwan leaned his arms on the table, bowing just as Minoru was, “He doesn't know me yet.”

“He doesn't know our surprise element”, Vernon said with an ironically smile, “Does he want to show what it's all about? Okay. So we want to watch it.”

“Poor kids”, Minoru shook his head, “You don't know what you're getting into.”

“We’re starting to find out”, Seungkwan blinked collecting his things, “We’re going to talk again, Minoru.”

“Until then, enjoy your daily baths”, Vernon said before leaving the room.

As soon as the door was closed, Seungkwan felt instant relief. It was as if the weight that had settled on his shoulders the moment he faced Minoru again was gone.

“You did very well, Seungkwan-ah!”, Woozi said shaking the agent's shoulder, “I confess I didn't expect you to behave so well on your first interrogation.”

“Thanks. I guess.”

“That's a great compliment”, The8 laughed punching Seungkwan’s arm, “Now let's document all this information and talk to Lisa.”

“Yeah. I just need a coffee and I'll see you soon”, Seungkwan said handing The8 his notebook and photo folder.

“Okay. Bring me some green tea, please?”, The Chinese asked, extending the money to Seungkwan before leaving the room behind Woozi.

Before leaving, Seungkwan could notice Hoshi and Vernon talking in the corner of the room in a tone so low that he could not even hear their whispers. Vernon seemed to pay close attention to what Hoshi was saying and considering the serious expression should be about the small explosion the American had minutes ago.

“Hey Seungkwan!”, S.Coups’s imposing voice was present and Seungkwan felt the leader's strong-arm pass by his shoulders, “I told you to be calm because you would do well! Congratulations!”

“Thank you, Coups”, Seungkwan tried to reciprocate the smile the leader was giving him.

“Is everything all right?”, S.Coups asked low, but in a worried tone.

“Yes, I'm just feeling weird”, Seungkwan replied shaking his head, “I think it's because of this whole situation.”

“It's all right. It's the first time you've been involved in such a complex and heavy situation like this”, S.Coups said squeezing the shoulders of the youngest as they walked down the aisle, “Things are happening too fast for you in here. That's not what Woozi, Hoshi and I planned for you, but it was something we couldn't control. But even if it's hastily and without much preparation you're doing very well! Be proud of that!”

“And I am. Don't worry, I'll learn to deal with all this”, Seungkwan smiled so the leader wouldn't worry anymore.

“Know that you can come to me at any time if you want to talk about something.”

“Thank you, Coups. I'll remember that.”

S.Coups smiled once more at the younger one, and messed up his hair before taking the direction of his office in the hallway.

Seungkwan took the elevator and went to the cafeteria on the second floor. He needed a cup of coffee to try to distract himself at least a little. He didn't even know the exact reason he was feeling weird, as if the weight that had come off his shoulders had transferred directly to his chest.

Maybe it had a little to do with all the bad things that missing women could be going through. S.Coups was right to say that he had never been through something as heavy as that, but it wasn't much help because he knew that it was just the beginning of what he would have to go through in the case.

“Thank you”, Seungkwan thanked and paid for coffee and green tea.

“I found you.”

The scare that Seungkwan took was so big that he almost dropped both coups on the floor.

“You- I told you to not do that!”, Seungkwan tried to kick Vernon's leg that took two steps back.

“I'm sorry!”, Vernon said raising his hands, analyzing Seungkwan's somewhat irritated expression, “It wasn't on purpose...”

“It’s fine” Seungkwan said starting to walk back to his office.

“Are you mad at me?”, Vernon asked walking beside the newbie with his hands in his pockets.

“Vernon I already said that everything is fine-”

“I'm talking about the interrogation room”, Vernon interrupted, getting Seungkwan's attention, “You said I was doing it again... I didn't mean to be an idiot again, really! I was just thinking that it was your first time interrogating someone, and maybe-”

“I understand. Seriously”, Seungkwan said, stopping to face the American, “You weren't an idiot. Don't worry about it.”

“Really?”, He asked receiving a positive nod from Seungkwan, “I thought you were mad and ignoring me when we left the room.”

“You are quite dramatic, huh?”, Seungkwan said with an amused smile. Vernon shrugged guiltily, “I wasn't ignoring you. I just... I needed to take a breath.”

"You felt awkward, didn't you?" Vernon asked, receiving another positive nod, "I felt that way a few times too. It's normal."

“Speaking of which, you were really pissed off in there”, Seungkwan said walking back down the hall, “Why?”

“I don't like to show weakness.”

“I figured it out”, Seungkwan laughed, patting his shoulder lightly on the American's, “But you managed to make him very concerned about Fuchu.”

“He's going to go back there anyway”, Vernon shrugged carefree, “At least he said some important things.”

“Then teach me to talk like that”, Seungkwan asked, stopping in front of the open door of his office.

“And do you know how to speak thickly?”

“And here you come doubting me again”, Seungkwan shook his head dramatically seeing a small smile form on Vernon's lips, “You'll see what I'm capable of, Vernonie.”

The small smile that had formed disappeared in seconds. And with an expression of disgust Vernon turned his back and started walking down the corridor, leaving a satisfied and laughing Seungkwan behind.

It seems that he managed to find a hobby in the team, in the same way that everyone liked to make him scared. Teasing Vernon with nicknames he doesn't like yet would make him laugh a lot there.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“And the last one?”, Woozi asked, passing the photo to The8 to hang on the big white board.

“Minatozaki Sana”, Seungkwan read in his notebook, “She’s with ChungHee.”

“Known as Asshole Number Two”, The8 mumbled, linking a red line from Sana's photo to ChungHee's photo, “Now we're really working.”

“It's a lot more visual than before”, Woozi said happily, crossing his arms, “I hope everyone is in Thailand and hasn't diverted the route.”

“Do you think if Minoru knew that he would say?”, The8 asked drinking what was left of his green tea.

“I don’t think so”, Seungkwan shrugged, “What does he have to lose?”

“His life?”, The8 responded by arching an eyebrow.

“It would be a very superficial information to hide”, Woozi said, biting the cap of the pen, “It wouldn't worth his life. Maybe something more important would be.”

“For example?”

“Where Khalan is hiding”, Mingyu said entering the room. The wet hair indicated that he had left training a few minutes ago, “And I bet he knows.”

“Oh for sure he knows”, Woozi laughed, “But let's pretend we don't suspect it for the time being. In a few days we will talk to him again and start to bait.”

“The way he is stupid, he will fall quickly”, Seungkwan grunted, going to his desk to put his notebook in the drawer.

“I agree, but let's be careful anyway”, Woozi also went to his desk to get his cell phone, “I think we're done for today. I need you two to turn everything in that board into a visual graph tomorrow morning. We will send to Lisa with everything we have achieved today.”

“Yes sir”, The8 and Seungkwan replied, keeping the big white board full of pictures at the back of the room.

“Wonwoo arrives tonight, so you will finally meet him tomorrow Seungkwan.”

“Oh that's cool!”, Seungkwan smiled happily as he picked up his bag, “I only talked to him on that call for a few minutes.”

“You guys are going to get along well”, Mingyu commented with a smile, “I'll pick him up at the airport. If you want you can come with me.”

“Thank you, but I need a shower and my bed today”, Seungkwan replied in a tired tone.

“It was his first interrogation, Mingyu”, The8 joked, “Don't demand anything more from him today.”

“You're right”, Mingyu put his arm around Seungkwan's shoulders and pulled him close, “Come on, I'm going to take you home. I want to eat your brother's food today.”

“And my rest is gone”, Seungkwan shook his head.

“Good luck", The8 laughed past them with a nod, “See you tomorrow.”

“See you. Bye Woozi.”

“See you tomorrow guys. Good job today.”

“I heard you were great at your first interrogation today”, Mingyu said when they took the elevator to the parking lot, “Congratulations!”

“Hoshi is exaggerating a little bit about 'great'.”

“Actually it was Vernon who told me”, Mingyu replied, letting go of his friend's shoulders to get the car keys.

“Vernon?”, Seungkwan asked surprised.

“Yeah. He was the one with you there, right?”, Mingyu asked getting into the car.

“Yes, we both interrogated Minoru”, Seungkwan responded by fastening his seat belt, “But I didn't think he was going to say that.”

“I think he liked you”, Mingyu said, maneuvering the car and feeling his friend's eyes staring at him, “Vernon complains a lot, so if he spent a whole weekend with you and in the end praised you, it's because he really liked you.”

“Oh... This is good”, Seungkwan said shaking his head, “Hm... Mingyu-ah, I wanted to talk to you about something that happened over the weekend.”

“What did Vernon do?”, Mingyu asked abruptly, “I told him to be nice to you or else I would trade his shampoo for glue! Now tell me, what did he said to you?”

“Nothing?”, Seungkwan replied confusedly, “He didn't do or say anything. Nor is he what I want to talk about.”

“Oh… Okay”, Mingyu looked quickly at his friend, “What is it about then?”

“The woman Minoru put in our car, which was ChungHo's 'order', she asked me one thing before I left her with deputy Hyun."

“What did she ask?”

“She asked me to find her wife”, Seungkwan replied without looking at his friend, “And today I found out that she is with ChungHee.”

“Did you promise her that you would find her wife?”, Mingyu asked after a while in silence.

“I didn't promise, I just said I would do my best to find her.”

“So it's okay”, Mingyu sighed looking at Seungkwan again, “You know that if she's with ChungHee there's a good chance she'll be-”

“Dead. I know”, Seungkwan said quietly, “I just hope she’s not.”

“I know this is going to sound shitty, but you can't get emotionally involved in cases like this, Kwan-ah”, Mingyu said in the softest tone he could, “Because if it doesn't go the way you expect it could be worse.”

“You’re saying this to the most emotional person you know”, Seungkwan said without humor, staring at his hands.

“Actually the most emotional person I know is Seokmin”, Mingyu replied with a smile, “You are the second.”

“Right”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “I know I shouldn't, but I can't help thinking that she is probably suffering from things she shouldn't be.”

“So try not to think”, Mingyu said, stopping the car in front of his friend's house, “You're trying your best, and that's what matters now. If we can rescue the four women alive, great. But if we can't, I want you to keep in mind that you never stopped trying, understand?”

“Yes”, Seungkwan nodded, “I promise to improve this.”

“If you need me you can call, you know that”, Mingyu said, running a hand through his friend's hair, “Sometimes I think I should give you more attention in there.”

“You give me enough attention, don't worry”, Seungkwan smiled, “I'm already an adult and I have to know how to control my emotions on my own.”

“And this is what I'm afraid of”, Mingyu said in a more serious tone than Seungkwan expected, but he couldn't ask why, as he soon heard the noise of the doors unlocking, “Let's go because I'm hungry.”

“You literally have no shame!”, Seungkwan asked getting out of the car and putting the bag strap over his shoulders.

“You know I don't have it”, Mingyu replied with an amused smile, “And you don't have it either, which is why you love me.”

“I'm bitterly sorry for that”, Seungkwan said opening the door before his friend could reply, “I'm home!”

“Me too!”, Mingyu shouted closing the door and he heard Chan's laughter in the living room.

“Finally you two arrived before I left”, Seokmin said, meeting the two in the living room.

“Wait, 'you two'? Aren't you going to question the presence of this one?”, Seungkwan asked pointing to Mingyu.

“Why should I?”, Seokmin asked confused making Mingyu laugh.

“It’s nothing, Seok! The smell is as good as always”, Mingyu said heading towards the kitchen.

“What happened?”

“Nothing”, Seungkwan shrugged, “I just need a bath.”

Seungkwan went to his room, slapping Chan’s head who was sitting on the sofa.

The moment his body came into contact with the hot water in the shower he started to feel a lot better. With his eyes closed, he let the water run down his face and shoulders, hoping the water would take all those thoughts away.

Come on Seungkwan, think of good things, Seungkwan said to himself, forcing himself to chase away the interrogation image from his mind. And as if he had asked out loud, he could hear the laughter of Mingyu and his brothers, and that made him smile without even realizing it.

At least he would have a way to distract himself that night.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

7:40 A.M.

 

With his headphones on and humming softly, Seungkwan walked around the parking lot with his hands in his pocket carefree. It was a sunny day in Seoul, so he came all the way enjoying the blue sky and the pleasant weather, and he was sorry when he had to go underground in the government headquarters.

Seungkwan was so distracted that he didn't even feel the presence of Joshua and Hoshi behind him. They both looked at each other with mischievous smiles, and in seconds counted they both shook the shoulders of the youngest who, by very little, did not trip and fell to the parking floor.

“I swear to God”, Seungkwan started taking off his headphones, staring at the two agents who were holding their laughter in front of him, “That one day I'm going to fight back all this thing you're doing to me. Just wait for that.”

“You really need some intimidation classes”, Hoshi said laughing, pulling the youngest arm so they could enter the department.

“You can choose a more aggressive style like Hoshi and Vernon's, or more relaxed like mine”, Joshua said, fixing Seungkwan's strands of hair that messed up with the scare.

“I'll think about it”, Seungkwan showed the badge at the entrance and put it back in his pants pocket, “But I liked your attempt to assuage my hatred, Shua hyung.”

“Thank you!”, Joshua blinked happily, “I like your shirt.”

“Really?”

“Yeah... Jeonghan has one just like this one.”

“You haven't talked to him yet, have you?”, Hoshi asked pressing the second-floor button in the elevator. Joshua pressed his lips together and Hoshi rolled his eyes, “I already gave you permission to tell him the truth, Shua. What is stopping you now?”

“If I knew what it is, I'd have sent it to hell by now”, Joshua muttered, “I'm just afraid of what he might think.”

“Think what? That you save people?”, Seungkwan asked.

“That I kill people.”

“Bad people”, Hoshi pointed out.

“Whatever.”

“If you are going to think like that you will never tell him the truth”, Seungkwan shrugged his shoulders, “Just be honest and everything will be fine.”

“That's what I'm trying to do”, Joshua said, taking out his cell phone to see the messages as soon as they left the elevator.

“Wait!”, Seungkwan said surprised holding Joshua's arm when he saw the wallpaper on the cell phone, “Your Jeonghan, is the Yoon Jeonghan?! The actor?!”

“Yes…?”, Joshua replied confused, and Hoshi laughed holding Seungkwan's shoulders, “Are you a fan of him?”

“If I'm a fan?”, Seungkwan laughed, staring at Hoshi, “I would like to say a lot of things right now, but I can't because I’ll probably get punched. But yes, I really like his work.”

“One more person that you have to introduce to Jeonghan, Shua”, Hoshi said, shaking the shoulders of the youngest who was still surprised.

“I'll see if I can get a private fansign”, Joshua said entering the cafeteria and found Vernon and Sangwoo already sitting at a table talking.

“Are you serious, huh? Please hyung!”, Seungkwan asked putting his hands together.

“Only if you forget the idea of fighting back the scare I already gave you.”

“Did I say I would do that?”, Seungkwan asked offended making Joshua laugh, “If I said that I was out of my mind! Don't worry, hyung.”

“What about me?”, Hoshi asked, sitting at the table next to Vernon.

“You don't date Yoon Jeonghan”, Seungkwan replied simply going to get his coffee with Joshua laughing beside him.

“Children nowadays are out of control!”, Hoshi said shocked, “First, Vernon starts laughing and smiling like tomorrow doesn’t exists. And now this!”

“Hey, I did it once!”, Vernon pointed out, biting his bread.

“You were laughing right now, Vernon. Who do you wanna fool?”

“That's true”, Sangwoo laughed looking at the youngest, “Since when do you smile at someone other than me?”

“Since the trip to Busan with Seungkwan”, Hoshi grumbled, “I spent an entire year, Sangwoo! Twelve months! Trying to get a smile from this boy, and I only succeeded when I lost to Woozi in training!”

“That was really funny!”, Vernon laughed as he remembered the moment.

“I am your leader, boy! This is humiliating.”

“Hoshi, calm down or you will have an attack someday”, Joshua said sitting down next to the leader, leaving the empty chair next to Sangwoo for Seungkwan.

“I just want my children to respect me!”, Hoshi crossed his arms dramatically.

“I respect you”, Vernon rolled his eyes.

“And I'm not your child”, Seungkwan shrugged, drinking his coffee.

“Less than a month and you’re already responding to me like Woozi”, Hoshi narrowed his eyes at the youngest, “He will transform you into someone who hates me just like he did with The8 and Wonwoo!”

“God willing it to happen!”, Woozi said happily, stopping behind Seungkwan, “And I didn't even have to tarnish your image so that he could see for himself what a lunatic you are, Soonyoung.”

“You are asking for a new challenge, Jihoon.”

“For you to lose again? Vernon will like it”, Woozi sneered winking at Vernon who decided to drink his coffee to hide his smile.

“You-”, Hoshi took a deep breath and Seungkwan pressed his lips together to keep from laughing and making his friend even more angry.

“Alright, we got it”, Woozi winked at him, “I just came to buy a cola and call you to the meeting room. Wonwoo has already arrived and brought a surprise”, He said in a mysterious tone and went out into the hall again.

“Surprise?”, Joshua asked looking at his leader, “Do you know anything?”

“No, but I'm going to find out now”, Hoshi stood up buttoning his suit, “You guys can finish breakfast first, but don't take too long, ok?”

The four waved positively and returned to eat, a little faster than before because of curiosity. Seungkwan was eager to meet Wonwoo since everyone said good things about him.

“Hey Seungkwan”, Sangwoo called, getting the attention of the youngest, “Hoshi said that Vernon started to smile and laugh more after your trip to Busan. Tell me what you did to this grumpy boy.”

Seungkwan looked at Vernon behind Sangwoo, finding him with his face in his hands taking a deep breath.

“Hm... I didn't do anything actually”, Seungkwan replied mixing his coffee, “I already told him that and I repeat, Vernon is funny.”

“I already said I'm not!”, Vernon replied, still with his face in his hands, making Joshua laugh.

“You’re being right now, man.”

“We talked a lot about things we like, and thing we hate, during the car trip, so I think I managed to make him feel comfortable with me… I don't know”, Seungkwan shrugged his shoulders opening a smile, “He said I'm good with people.”

“And you really are”, Vernon said, staring at his empty coup.

“I'm a little surprised”, Sangwoo said looking at the American, “Vernon just felt comfortable to smile and laugh with Joshua and I.”

“This is really cool, Sangwoo”, Joshua said, “We both know his personality, so I'm glad he's getting along with Seungkwan.”

“I'm loving to see the three of you talking about me like I'm not here”, Vernon scoffed crossing his arms.

“I said everything looking at you”, Seungkwan said still looking at the American, the same one who never looked back.

Seungkwan was feeling awkward about that moment.

“You two are the same age, aren't you?”, Sangwoo asked looking at Seungkwan again. The one who nodded, “Cool. I'm glad you're making new friends, Vernon.”

“What I really liked is that he has this tough pose, but he’s a very good person and with a soft heart”, Seungkwan said with a smile. The same smile that faded when Vernon faced him with such a firm look that he felt his stomach freeze.

“Soft hearted, huh?”, Sangwoo asked staring at Vernon who looked away from Seungkwan to face the older one.

“Shall we go to the meeting room? We've all finished eating and they're waiting for us”, Joshua said, standing up and pulling Seungkwan to his side.

He had also noticed the strange atmosphere with that conversation, so he decided to change the focus so that things that shouldn't be said ended up being.

“Shua hyung, did I say something that I shouldn't?”, Seungkwan asked in a low tone for just Joshua to hear.

“No. Don't worry, Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua replied with a smile trying to give confidence to the youngest.

“Then why Vernon gave me that look?”

“It's just...”, Joshua sighed looking back before answering, “Vernon is a little more complicated than he looks. But don't worry, you didn't say any lies or anything wrong.”

“It's just that… it’s the first time he's given me that look, so I thought that-”

“Don't think”, Joshua put his arm around the youngest shoulders, smiling again. Seungkwan liked the older man's smile, “Let's focus on something else now because you have a new agent to meet.”

And with that, Joshua opened the door to the meeting room where all the other agents were talking animatedly. Seungkwan could quickly spot the new agent alongside Mingyu and Woozi.

Wonwoo was tall and his black hair was short, different from what he had seen in the call. The round glasses made him look smart, doing justice to the team he was part of.

He was a beautiful man.

“Wonu-ya! I missed you, man!”, Joshua said, greeting his friend with a hug.

“I missed you too, Shua!”, Wonwoo smiled and Seungkwan could see how beautiful he was, “I love Japan, but I couldn't wait to come home.”

“We were outnumbered without you here”, Joshua tapped his friend on the shoulder.

“And speaking of numbers”, Woozi said pulling Seungkwan closer, “This is our new prodigy.”

“Where did this come from?”, Seungkwan asked confused seeing the laughter of the four.

“We are all prodigies”, Wonwoo said, extending his hand, “It's great to meet you in person, Seungkwan.”

“I say the same”, Seungkwan smiled shaking the older man's hand.

“Mingyu told me a lot about you, but I confess that I expected you to be taller”, Wonwoo commented and Seungkwan look at Mingyu seriously.

“I hate you, Mingyu”, Seungkwan said grimly, seeing his friend smile innocently.

“Let's change the subject, please”, Woozi said seriously, making the four of them laugh without even wanting to.

“We’re going to change the subject because there’s a person here that I don’t know.”

The five looked at the owner of the voice who had said that and, if possible, Seungkwan was more astonished than he had been with Wonwoo.

“Baekho?!”, Joshua asked surprised, going to hug the man.

Oh so that's his name, Seungkwan thought.

Baekho was tall and very strong, maybe even stronger than S.Coups and Sangwoo. His eyes were small with the big open smile, and Seungkwan was sure that he was one of the most beautiful men he had ever seen in his life.

“What are you doing here, man?”, Joshua asked letting go of his friend, “I thought you were going to stay in Japan!”

“Me too, but I was called back for this operation”, Baekho replied smiling.

“And who did that?”, Sangwoo asked and only then did they notice the presence of him and Vernon who were silent behind them.

“Hello, Sangwoo”, Baekho said, breaking his smile and Seungkwan could immediately notice the tense atmosphere that had settled in the room with the two of them exchanging glances.

“You didn't answer me, Baekho!”, Sangwoo said, crossing his arms, “Who called you for the operation?”

“I did!”, S.Coups replied entering the room and closing the door, “Good morning guys.”

Oh this is going to be a long day, Seungkwan thought staring at Mingyu.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

S.Coups asked everyone to sit down, as he wanted to say a few things. Seungkwan sat between Mingyu and Woozi, exchanging a few looks with The8 who seemed to be a little apprehensive about what would be said at that moment.

When everyone was seated and the silence started to become unbearable, S.Coups cleared his throat and started to speak.

“Well, first I want to wish a good return to Wonwoo. I hope the trip was good and without problems”, S.Coups said with a warm smile to the agent who just nodded, “And second, I would like to welcome our former agent with open arms again. Welcome back, Baekho.”

“I thank you for your trust, Coups”, Baekho said with a small smile, “It's good to be back.”

Say it for yourself”, Sangwoo said in a low tone, but everyone could hear it.

“What I wanted to say, and make it very clear that I will only do this once,”, S.Coups said louder and in his imposing voice, “It's just that Baekho is again one of us for this operation. I talked to JR, who is his new leader in case anyone has forgotten, and we think it would be better to readmit him because he has important information from the last operation that can help us a lot today.”

“And you remember well what happened to some of that information last time, don't you?”, Sangwoo asked in an accusatory tone without looking away from Baekho, who had a peaceful countenance.

“Yes, I do. And do you remember what the conclusion was after several interrogations?”, S.Coups asked in the same tone and Sangwoo looked at him.

Nobody dared to say a word.

“I am still amazed at how manipulative you were to believe his testimony”, Sangwoo said with disgust. S.Coups straightened up in his chair and folded his hands on the table before answering.

“What I believed or not is none of your business, Sangwoo”, The leader replied with a tone of voice so deep that it made Seungkwan shiver, “The leader of this operation is me, not you.”

He did not like the tone of that conversation, and realizing that Mingyu put a hand on his knee to try to pass security and calm.

“You always make a point of remembering that, don't you?”, Sangwoo asked mockingly.

“I think the focus of the meeting has shifted”, Woozi said seriously, “If you want to discuss this again, then do it later.”

“Sorry, but I refuse to have a serious meeting with a betrayal.”

Saying that, Sangwoo got up and left the room without looking at anyone. Seungkwan exchanged looks with Mingyu and then with The8 who was in front of him. The Chinese just shook his head and turned his attention to S.Coups at the end of the table.

“I'm sorry, Coups”, Baekho said, “I didn't want to cause any problems again.”

“Don’t apology again, Baekho”, S.Coups interrupted in a much softer tone than before, "You're not going to cause any problems, and I've told you that before. But we'll talk better later, okay?”

“Okay. Thanks”, Baekho replied with a relieved smile and Seungkwan was curious about what they were talking about.

This is something I should ask Mingyu about later, he thought.

“Getting back to what matters. Hoshi, please proceed.”

“Okay guys, we are in the last week of the month so you already know what that means”, Hoshi started saying out loud, “Since Seungkwan is new to the team, I will go over it quickly and also explain the dynamics of this time.”

Hoshi took the remote to turn on the big television at the back of the room and Seungkwan looked at the leader with curiosity.

“Every end of the month we have a monthly evaluation”, Hoshi said looking at Seungkwan, “In the evaluation we look at your strengths and also the weaknesses that need to be improved. You only have two weeks of training, so don't worry too much about your starting grade. Even for that reason, the three of us decided to do a different dynamic this time.”

Hoshi turned on the television and the image of an abandoned building appeared. There were two flags, one blue and one pink, both at the ends of the building.

“We are going to play a game of hide and seek”, Hoshi said with an amused smile, “You will be divided into two teams, and they must be mixed teams. We’re not going to do intelligence versus field like the last time.”

“What a pity”, Woozi sighed and Seungkwan could notice The8 and Wonwoo covering a smile.

“We will divide the teams on the building, so don't worry about it”, Hoshi continued with a mocking look at Woozi who remained calm, “The dynamic is simple. Both teams must arm a strategy to steal the flag from the opposing team. How to protect your flag? This is a work for you. Any and all measures are valid, so you must decide what to do.”

“If I want to swallow the flag, can I?”, Jun asked raising his hand.

“Yes, but I don't recommend it”, Hoshi replied confused.

“Should we keep the flag within a perimeter, or can we move around with it?”, Baekho asked.

“You can move around with it.”

“This is interesting”, Baekho said with a smile for The8 who returned it, as if they were thinking the same thing.

“I think we can clear up any doubts tomorrow before the evaluation. But everyone understood what should be done, right?”, Hoshi asked, and everyone nodded, “Great! I'm done for today, Coups.”

“Me too”, S.Coups sighed, “You are cleared for your activities. Tomorrow morning you will go straight to the equipment room where everyone's backpacks will be ready. The van that will take you to the evaluation site will leave the parking lot at 9 am.”

“Yes, Sir!”, They all responded together.

“You can go now. Baekho and Wonwoo please stay so we can talk for a while.”

Everyone got up and left the room with the exception of the three leaders, Baekho and Wonwoo. Seungkwan walked behind Mingyu and could see Vernon walking past him with heavy steps, giving him no chance to say anything. He thought that attitude was weird, but he didn't even have time to think too much because soon The8's voice was present at his side.

“First monthly evaluation. How are you feeling?”

“I don't know... I think I'm anxious?”

“This one will be a good dynamic!”, Jun commented excitedly, “Especially with mixed teams. Last time we took a beating.”

“That's the reason you were holding on to laughter”, Seungkwan stared at The8 who gave a smug laugh.

“It was epic! We even took a picture with all the field agents surrendered”, The8 said in a nostalgic tone, “Hoshi was very pissed.”

“I can imagine”, Seungkwan laughed.

“That was lucky!”, Mingyu said, “We wouldn't have lost it if Jun hadn't delivered our location.”

“I was fooled!”, Jun defended himself, “Hao fell in front of me as if he was hurt and I couldn't stay in my position.”

“Each one plays with the weapons they have”, The8 shrugged and Seungkwan listened to that conversation with a happy smile. He was very fond of all those agents and hoped to make good memories with each of them.

“Let's see how you do on this one”, Joshua finally said something looking at Seungkwan, “We don't know what to expect from you in an evaluation yet.”

“He's small, so he'll be able to hide very well”, Mingyu said walking faster to not get a possible kick from his friend.

“If you don't have that ability, it's not my problem!”, Seungkwan replied causing laughter to everyone around him, “But seriously, even I don't even know what to expect from this evaluation. I just hope I do well.”

“Don't put too much pressure on yourself”, Jun said quietly.

“Yes, you'll participate with less than a month of training”, Joshua squeezed the younger's shoulder, “Just do what you've learned so far.”

“We're going to do a different workout today”, The8 said thoughtful, “Since we don't know who we're going to compete with, we should train together today.”

“It's a good idea”, Mingyu said, stopping in the corridor where the field team's offices were, “Let's go to the gym in two hours. So, we ended up before lunch.”

“That sounds fine”, The8 said staring at Seungkwan, “Let's do that report for Lisa first.”

“Right. See you later, guys!”, Seungkwan waved and followed the agent down the hall.

“I know you're curious”, The8 said quietly, “But it is easier to talk to Mingyu later.”

Seungkwan just stared at his friend and shook his head. He was really curious, but after the tense atmosphere that set in that meeting to the point of making S.Coups speak more firmly, he knew that no one there would tell him anything at the moment to cause any confusion.

It seemed to be a serious and delicate matter, but Seungkwan knew that Mingyu was a great gossip so it would be great to talk to him after hours.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“You can take a shower first. I'm going to order our dinner”, Mingyu said, locking the apartment door.

“I thought you were going to cook for me”, Seungkwan said pouting. Mingyu seeing that rolled his eyes and turned his back to the kitchen, “Gyu-ah!”

“Bath, Seungkwan!”, Mingyu shouted from the kitchen.

Seungkwan took off his shoes and stopped first at the guest room to pick up some clothes that he always left at his friend's apartment. Seungkwan did not take long in the shower, after all he was hungry and also anxious to bring up the subject Sangwoo vs. Baekho.

Mingyu knew that Seungkwan wanted to know that story the moment his friend asked if he could sleep in his apartment with the excuse of arriving together the next morning for the monthly evaluation.

Mingyu already knew of Baekho's arrival because of Wonwoo, but if he had a choice he would have received his friend only a few weeks later. It was predictable that there would be a tension between the team members, especially with Sangwoo, and he didn't want Seungkwan to get involved anytime soon.

“I must say that I loved the fact that you still have the robe I gave you when you graduated from college!”, Seungkwan said entering the kitchen wearing a black coat.

“I love that robe!”, Mingyu said without taking his eyes off the chicken he was cutting.

“Gyu, it’s horrible.”

“But it has my name on it”, Mingyu had a smile when he felt his friend's presence at his side.

“I knew you wouldn't be able to resist my pout!”, Seungkwan laughed smugly.

“Yeah, now shut up and help me fry this chicken”, Mingyu muttered, passing the plate with several strips of chicken for Seungkwan to put in the hot oil.

“Yes chef!”

“Tell me how you’re feeling about tomorrow's evaluation.”

The two talked about the evaluation during dinner preparation and even afterwards. Mingyu told some stories from his first evaluations, making Seungkwan laugh out of all the shame his best friend had gone through.

“So what happened when you hung on the rope?”, Seungkwan asked, drinking some cola, trying to contain the urge to laugh.

“Well, it was a little high, and it was a stupid decision”, Mingyu said, scratching his cheek in embarrassment, “So Coups stood down with open arms asking me to let go because he was going to hold me.”

“And did you let go?”, Seungkwan asked biting the edge of the coup. Mingyu nodded positively and he raised his eyebrows in curiosity, “So what?”

“Let's say I fell in a somewhat... strange way.”

“You will say that you fell sitting on his lap.”

“Almost”, Mingyu said with a grimace, but ended up laughing when he saw Seungkwan choke, “Actually, I dropped him on the floor and almost sat on his face.”

“Unbelievable!”, Seungkwan laughed, jumping up in his chair, “You are unbelievable, Mingyu-ah!”

“I don't understand why this kind of thing just happens to me!”, Mingyu crossed his arms, just waiting for the youngest to stop laughing, “Are you done?”

“Sorry, but I keep imagining the scene and it must have been hilarious!”

“It really was, but at the time I was scared and also ashamed.”

“Why?”, Seungkwan asked wiping away tears.

“Because he and Woozi were recently married, and we were in a very obscene position.”

That answer broke Seungkwan.

He was laughing so hard that his face was already red, and Mingyu could see the veins in his neck bulging as he laughed. Somehow imagining Mingyu afraid of Woozi being twice his height was hilarious in Seungkwan's head. He knew that the leader could be quite scary when he wanted to, and he could see that when he was training with Hoshi's screams.

Woozi really wasn't someone he wanted to face, but he was still funny anyway.

“I’m waiting. Take your time”, Mingyu said quietly drinking his soda.

“Sorry”, Seungkwan put his hand on his chest taking a deep breath, “I really didn't expect this.”

“Nor did I expect”, Mingyu laughed, getting up to collect the dishes, “But it's past and now it's just another funny story.”

“A very funny one”, Seungkwan started to help his friend, “But how did you deal with Woozi?”

“It was easy. I've dealt with you for years”, Mingyu replied trying to get away before Seungkwan could kick him, but it was useless, “Outch! I'm kidding, Kwan-ah!”

“What do you mean, Mingyu?!”

“It's just a joke! I swear!”, Mingyu replied laughing with the annoyed pout that his friend was doing, “Stop pouting, please!”

“I don't pout! Why does everyone say that?”

“Yes, you do”, Mingyu left the cup in the sink, “Now let's clean this up because I have a story to tell you.”

“I'm glad your gossip spirit exists, because I don't even need to start the topic”, Seungkwan joked with a grimace from his friend, “Okay, I wash and you dry, gossipy.”

“Look who's talking”, Mingyu mumbled, clearing the table.

The two finished washing the dishes and cleaning the kitchen in silence, after all it was quick since they hadn't made a lot of mess. After everything was clean and tidy, Mingyu took a jar of ice cream and two spoons, sitting with Seungkwan on the sofa in the living room. The television was turned on in a night program with the volume low, just so that the environment would not be in complete silence.

“You better eat while I tell you this gossip”, Mingyu said, extending a spoon to his friend.

“I'm anxious now.”

“Without going too far, it all started in 2018 when was the first time Khalan appeared. We were very inexperienced in cases like this, and we didn't have a lot of information about him”, Mingyu started picking up some ice cream, “So we depended a lot on the intelligence team. They worked very hard at that time, and since The8 was a newbie, Woozi worked directly with Baekho.”

“Wait a second!”, Seungkwan said swallowing the ice cream quickly, “Is Baekho on the intelligence team?”

“Yes”, Mingyu replied confused, “I thought you already knew that.”

“How would I know?!”, Seungkwan asked shocked, “With that body I thought he was on the field team!”

“Did you look at his body, Kwan-ah?”, Mingyu asked, arching an eyebrow.

“And you didn't?!”, Seungkwan gasped, and it was Mingyu's turn to laugh, “You can't blame me, Gyu.”

“Okay! Let me continue!”, Mingyu cleared his throat and hugged his legs, “Well, just before Jun was kidnapped they made some progress in their investigations. Baekho was able to map Khalan’s last steps and set up a pattern, so we knew where the next place he would land would be. But something weird happened.”

“What?”, Seungkwan asked curiously, biting his spoon.

“When we were setting up our plan to capture him, Jun disappeared. And where he disappeared, a note was left that said 'Good try, suckers. Now you either find me or rescue your agent alive.'”

“What?!”, Seungkwan asked in surprise, “But how come? The information about the investigation leaked in some way?”

“Yes, but the only one who had this information was Baekho”, Mingyu replied carefully, “So Sangwoo started to accuse him, and he was arrested for almost three months.”

“Three months?!”, Seungkwan was shocked by that information, “But did he have a trial?”

“Of course, yes. We rescued Jun first and made an effort to find Khalan. Sangwoo and Hoshi managed to locate him after some research and only after he was in jail, S.Coups called an extraordinary session to interrogate Baekho.”

“So that was the 'verdict' that Coups was talking about today.”

“Exactly. The three leaders listened to everything and asked so many questions that I can't even tell”, Mingyu sighed, grabbing some more ice cream, “In the end they considered Baekho innocent, and that the leak was still unknown.”

“That's... weird”, Seungkwan frowned, “What do you mean 'unknown'? Someone has leaked this information.”

“I know, but no one could understand how”, Mingyu shrugged, “The8 thinks someone must have accessed our system, but he couldn't prove it.”

“Even though he is innocent Sangwoo still blames him?”

“I think you could see it today”, Mingyu laughed humorlessly, “After he was exonerated, Coups thought it would be better to transfer him to another operation. So he went to the Japan operation to work with JR.”

“Something still doesn't make sense”, Seungkwan said thoughtfully, “Why would Coups bring him back to work on a case where he was accused of betrayal?”

“Coups is very smart, Kwan”, Mingyu said, understanding where his friend was going, “I'm sure this was not just his decision. Because even though he’s the leader of the operation, he always discusses the matter with Woozi and Hoshi to make the best decision. So, if Baekho came back to this case you can be sure that it has a much bigger purpose than just helping us.”

Seungkwan looked at his friend and thought about those words. They made sense, because it was the only explanation for bringing back an innocent agent for an already known case.

Perhaps this case is more complex than it appears, Seungkwan thought.

“Do you believe he is innocent?”, Seungkwan asked after a while.

“Yes”, Mingyu replied simply, but convincingly, “And I believe in our leaders. So if they say that he is clean, then I believe him even more.”

“Is there anyone in our team who thinks otherwise besides Sangwoo?”

“It's hard to say”, Mingyu shook his head, “Sangwoo has always made it clear that he doesn't believe him, and because of that Vernon and Jun sometimes end up listening to his speech. Joshua, The8 and Wonwoo prefer to follow the leaders' decision, but sometimes they prefer to not give an opinion.”

“Got it”, Seungkwan pressed his lips together.

“I don't want you to take a side because of me, Seungkwan”, Mingyu started, “I have my convictions because I have known Baekho for a long time, but you don't. So get to know him first and then draw your conclusions, okay? After all, he was cleared by his leader.”

“I get it, Gyu”, Seungkwan smiled a little, “We haven't even been introduced yet and the first thing I hear from him is this story, but you know I never judge before I understand all sides.”

“I know. And that's what I love about you”, Mingyu smiled as he picked up the jar of ice cream, “Now that you know the reason for today's tension, can we change the subject and watch something funny?”

“You are so subtle in closing a subject, Mingyu. I’m impressed”, Seungkwan laughed.

“I'm not the best person to be subtle, Kwan”, Mingyu blinked and went to the kitchen.

Seungkwan rolled his eyes and took the remote to change the channel. That would be a good distraction, but he knew very well that all that information would still make his head hurt a few times.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

8:37 A.M.

 

'Boo Seungkwan'. It was what was written on the black vest Seungkwan was wearing. All that black suit was very beautiful and, in a way, made him look more important than before.

He was enjoying the confidence that the outfit was giving him.

“Oh! You grew up so fast!”, Mingyu said, pretending to wipe away some tears.

“Idiot!”, Seungkwan laughed as he closed the locker door, “Do you think I got taller in these boots?”

“A few inches, yes”, Mingyu shook his head looking up and down, “You even look stronger in this outfit.”

“It's because you haven't seen my butt yet!”, Seungkwan turned on his back and heard Mingyu's laughter.

“Your ass is really huge”, Hoshi said impressed, standing next to Mingyu, “What did you do to have an ass like that?”

“I was born”, Seungkwan replied with a smile, placing the backpack on one shoulder.

“Very funny”, Hoshi mocked indicating the door, “Let's get out of here because we have a schedule to keep!”

“Yes sir!”, Mingyu pulled Seungkwan still laughing.

“Do you think my butt is going to get attention because of those pants?”

“It's already getting”, Wonwoo said with amusement walking beside them, “Congratulations, by the way.”

“Okay this is embarrassing now”, Seungkwan ran a hand over his face, laughing embarrassed.

“Think on the good thing”, Joshua appeared behind them, “If you fall, you won't even feel the impact.”

“Where did you two come from?!”

“Your butt has become a magnet for people, Kwan-ah!”, Mingyu laughed, getting punched in the arm by his friend, “Outch!

“This is actually the fastest way to the parking lot, so here we are”, Wonwoo said simply.

“And also, because Hoshi is rushing us”, Joshua said looking back, “He looks very excited with this evaluation.”

“It will be interesting. Thankfully, your first evaluation will be like this”, Wonwoo had a friendly smile for Seungkwan, “It's easier to do well in the collective than in the individual sometimes.”

“I just want to do well and not look like a complete idiot”, Seungkwan said entering the parking lot and already seeing the big black van ahead.

“I already told you not to put too much pressure on yourself”, Mingyu said, squeezing his friend's shoulder.

“Yeah, take it easy”, Wonwoo adjusted his backpack on his back, “We will help you with some tips if necessary.”

“A first tip”, Joshua said approaching the youngest, “You’re already part of the intelligence team, so be brave and use the things that The8 and Hoshi taught you. Hoshi likes someone who is not afraid to take chances.”

“Ah yes, this is important”, Wonwoo confirmed, waving to Woozi who was standing next to S.Coups at the van door, “But take a smart chance.”

“Okay, I got it," Seungkwan shook his head making that mental note, “Good morning, guys.”

“Morning, Mr. Big Butt”, Woozi said with amusement, seeing the youngest roll his eyes.

“You can go in there, guys. We'll be out in a few minutes”, S.Coups said, writing down the names of the four on a clipboard.

“Who's missing, Coups?”, Sangwoo, who was sitting on one of the front row seats with Vernon, asked.

“Hoshi and Baekho”, S.Coups replied without taking his eyes off what he was writing, “They are coming soon.”

It had to be”, Sangwoo muttered under his breath, but this time S.Coups couldn't hear him.

Seungkwan came in behind Joshua and ended up sitting next to him in the second row with three seats, since Mingyu, Wonwoo, Jun and The8 were already occupying the four seats in the last row. Seungkwan liked how spacious that van was and had very comfortable seats, after all they didn't know how long it would be to travel to the evaluation site.

He heard some laughter in the back row, but his attention was on the agent sitting on his diagonal. Seungkwan could see Vernon's serious profile from the space between the seats, and for the first time he felt unsure about greeting anyone.

Since the previous day, Vernon had not spoken to him or at least stayed in the same place. At the gym, when everyone was training together and talking animatedly, Vernon was the only one who didn't participate. Seungkwan kept Joshua's words in mind saying that he was a little more complex than he looked, but he wanted to know if he had said something wrong to Vernon to just ignore him out of nowhere.

“Okay, we're all here!”, Hoshi said outside the van and Seungkwan turned his attention to whoever was getting into the van.

Baekho was wearing the same black suit as everyone there, but somehow, he attracted Seungkwan's attention even more than necessary.

There were two empty seats. One next to Sangwoo in the first row, and the other next to Seungkwan in the second row. Baekho looked at both places and didn't even hesitate to sit next to Seungkwan, leaving for Hoshi the last seat.

Seungkwan looked away from the agent at his side and looked at Hoshi, who had slammed the door and had a big smile on his face.

“Let’s go Coups! We have a long trip ahead”, Hoshi said sitting up, “And don't forget your seat belt, boys!”

S.Coups, who had Woozi by his side, nodded and started the van. The three leaders talked about something about the evaluation, Sangwoo and Vernon also had a side conversation and Baekho and Joshua typed on their cell phones.

The tranquility that everyone emanated was making Seungkwan even more anxious. It was even a strange attitude to him to remain silent and not feel like talking and laughing with his new friends, but that was something he couldn't control.

“Do you intend to shake your leg like that until we get there?”, Baekho asked in an amused tone, making Seungkwan face him in the same second.

“Oh... Sorry”, Seungkwan said, stopping his leg from shaking, making the older man laugh.

“You are anxious, this is normal”, Baekho shrugged and held out his hand, “By the way, I was unable to introduce myself yesterday. My name is Kang Baekho.”

“I could notice that” Seungkwan laughed shaking the elder's hand, “Boo Seungkwan.”

“Woozi told me about you. You have less than a month here, haven’t you?”

“Two weeks, actually.”

“That's right! I hope you’re having a good time with the team.”

“Ah yes! Everyone welcomed me very well”, Seungkwan smiled happily, “And they helped me a lot too, since I arrived just when Khalan decided to appear again.”

“What a beautiful first case you got”, Baekho laughed. Seungkwan noticed that his eyes got small when he laughed, and that reminded him of Seokmin.

“To be honest, I think I'm doing well so far.”

“From Woozi's compliments yesterday, I think you're doing more than well”, Baekho said looking at the leader ahead, “You went on a field operation in Busan, didn't you?”

“With Vernon, yes”, Seungkwan agreed, “It was supposed to be just an interrogation, but we ended up arresting Minoru and rescuing six women.”

“I read the report you guys made. It was really incredible.”

“Vernon did all the rescue”, Seungkwan laughed self-consciously, “I only helped getting information from the first woman we rescued.”

“Just that?”, Baekho asked, raising his eyebrows, “The two were important there. Without your information, we wouldn't have mapped the next targets.”

“Yes, but-”

“We’re the intelligence team, Seungkwan”, Baekho interrupted softly, “Our main job is to collect as much information as possible, and draw up the best strategy with it.”

Seungkwan heard that and remembered the conversation he had with Mingyu the night before. It was strange to hear that knowing all the confusion that involved the eldest, but he could not let that interfere in that conversation. After all, Baekho was being extremely friendly and, from what he could see in his dark eyes so far, quite sincere.

“It’s normal for you to have all this urge to help in everything. I was also just like that when I started”, Baekho smiled in amusement, “But you will realize that we have a job as important as the field team.”

“Two weeks, Baekho”, Seungkwan smiled, “I'm still learning the basic defense moves from The8. Let me live!”

“Okay, you're right!”, Baekho laughed raising his hands, “Just don't have those thoughts all the time. It's not a good thing, and I have a place to talk about it.”

“Okay, I'll keep that in mind”, Seungkwan shook his head, “Now tell me about the operation you were on. I was a little curious about it.”

Baekho straightened up on the bench and started to tell how his new team worked, and how much like S.Coups his new leader was. JR seemed to be as good as his current leader, and it made him curious to meet him one day.

In the front row, Vernon watched their conversation through the space between the seats, trying to understand the reason for so many smiles. He knew that Seungkwan was extremely sociable, but Baekho wasn’t, so he thought it was at least weird. He looked at Sangwoo, who also had a suspicious look, and shook his head. This was not the time for speculation.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Yangpyeong-gun, South Korea.

45.7 KM from Seoul.

10:40 A.M.

 

They arrived in Yangpyeong County and, after a bit of traffic, they managed to get to the place where the evaluation would be made before eleven in the morning. Hoshi was the first to get out of the van all excited, and that was because he would only be the performance appraiser.

While the rest of the agents got out of the van, and stretched because of the time they sat down, the three leaders went inside the abandoned building. Soon Woozi appeared carrying a table full of equipment with S.Coups, while Hoshi was carrying a large box and two flags.

“Look at the height of this!”, Seungkwan commented to The8, pointing to the big blue and pink bands that were at the edges of the buildings.

“There are some ropes hanging near the windows, look!”, The8 pointed and smiled, “This is going to be awesome!”

“You look really excited for this”, Seungkwan said, placing the backpack on the floor.

“My head is boiling with ideas now, you have no idea.”

“Boys! Come here!”, S.Coups shouted calling everyone to the table, “Hoshi, whenever you ready.”

“All right, boys! Just remembering a few things!”, Hoshi clapped his hands and faced the group, “You see the flags, right? They indicate the colors of the teams as well. We’re going to divide you into two teams, and remembering that they must be mixed, and I will decide the colors. With that, the leader of each team will have one of these flags here”, Hoshi held both flags, one in each hand, “You will have fifteen minutes to put together the best strategy to protect your flag and also how to steal the flag from the other team. The team that steals the opposing flag first wins the game. Questions?”

“Just remembering”, Baekho raised his hand, “Can we move with the flag?”

“If your team finds it necessary, yes. Anyone else?”

“We cannot swallow the flag then?”, Jun asked and Seungkwan pressed his lips together to keep from laughing, unlike the other agents.

“What's your problem, Jun?”, Hoshi asked confused, but ended up letting out laughter then, “Nobody's going to swallow the flag! Next question.”

“Will we have any eliminations during the game?”, Joshua asked.

“Yes! I think you noticed that this vest you are wearing is a little different from the ones we have used before. That's because it has laser sensors! So, whenever you’re hit by someone it will vibrate and you will be eliminated from the game.”

“How do we know if the other team has already taken the opponent's flag or if someone has been eliminated?”, Seungkwan asked raising his hand.

“Great question!”, Hoshi smiled excitedly, “Do you see this equipment that I don't know how the hell it works?”

“This is the guy who will evaluate us”, The8 joked seeing the others laugh at what Hoshi said.

“Well, in these vests, in addition to the laser sensors, we also have a pressure and heart rate monitor, so we’ll take a report to the medical department to evaluate you”, Hoshi showed a screen that had the name of each one indicating the heartbeat, “And on these other two monitors, the three of us are going to watch you. The strategy you used and also the fighting.”

“When someone is hit, we will let you know through the speakers that are scattered around the building”, Woozi said crossing his arms, “And the same goes for when someone picks up the opposing flag first.”

“Any more questions?”, Hoshi asked, and everyone denied, “Great! Let’s divide the teams then. Who wants to be a leader?”

By the time Hoshi asked, Seungkwan could notice two arms raising almost at the same time. Sangwoo and Baekho had their arms raised and facing each other steadily.

That would be more of a personal struggle than a simple game.

“Okay...”, Hoshi looked at S.Coups who just shook his head. The leader has been quiet since they arrived, just watching everyone's behavior, “Baekho and Sangwoo will be the leaders. We’re in an odd number today, so a team will have five agents, but that is not a problem for this activity. Take even or odd to find out who gets to choose the teams, please.”

“Even”, Sangwoo said taking a step forward.

“Odd”, Baekho held out his hand.

“Six is an even number”, Hoshi said counting the fingers shown, “Sangwoo can start choosing the first agent.”

“Vernon!”, Sangwoo pointed, and Vernon went to his side.

“Joshua!”, Baekho pointed out.

“Jun!”

“The8!”

The two seemed to compete even to see who spoke someone's name first. Seungkwan crossed his arms and found Mingyu's eyes, the one who smiled calmly at him.

“Sangwoo, you have to choose someone from the intelligence team now”, Hoshi said and Sangwoo looked at Wonwoo and Seungkwan alternately.

Seungkwan knew he would not be chosen for being a newbie, but he found the look that Vernon gave him very weird before whispering something in Sangwoo's ear.

“Wonwoo!”, Sangwoo pointed and Seungkwan could see Vernon press his lips and look away from him.

Seungkwan frowned and met The8's eyes. The Chinese made a sign for him to wait and saw him wink at Mingyu before saying something in Baekho's ear.

What the hell is going on?, Seungkwan asked himself without understanding.

“Seungkwan!”, Baekho pointed out.

Seungkwan raised his eyebrows surprised at the choice. Without taking too long, he grabbed his backpack and walked over to where Baekho's team was positioned. The8 winked at him and only then he understood what they were doing there.

“Mingyu, nobody wants you, bro!", Hoshi joked seeing the agent pretend to cry.

“Just because it involves ropes nobody wants me!", Mingyu shouted and for the first time on the day S.Coups opened an amused smile.

“Dude, since you’re the only one left and the teams are already mixed, you can choose which team you want to stay on.”

“This is a difficult choice”, Mingyu scratched his chin while looking at the two teams. His expression was serious, but Seungkwan knew he was joking, “I think I want to be with my best friend on his first evaluation. So, I'm on Baekho’s team.”

“I told you he would choose us”, The8 said to Baekho who smiled and slapped Mingyu's outstretched hand.

“Okay! We have the teams divided so I'm going to hand over the flags and bandanas”, Hoshi said approaching with his hands full, “Baekho you get the blue flag.”

“It suits my eyes”, Baekho joked taking the flag and handing a bandana to each agent on his team.

“Sangwoo, you get the pink flag”, Hoshi handed everything to the older man and walked away, “Okay! From now on, you have fifteen minutes to set up a strategy. You can go to the side of the building where your flag is hanging and get ready! We will let you know when the time is up.”

“Good luck, boys!”, S.Coups shouted when the teams started to leave. He turned to Woozi and Hoshi and smiled smugly, “This is going to be very interesting.”

“I'm really scared”, Hoshi said, leaning on the table to watch the monitors.

“Cry baby”, Woozi mocked, “It was expected that the two would make this a private competition.”

“And that's exactly why we had the idea for this evaluation to be divided”, S.Coups sighed with a smug look, “Let's keep an eye on Seungkwan too.”

“He was very anxious”, Woozi commented looking at the new agent through the monitor, “I just hope he doesn't let that hinder his performance.”

“It won't”, S.Coups assured, “You can bet.”

[…]

“Did you get an extra pistol?”, Mingyu asked Seungkwan who was analyzing the laser gun.

“Yes, how about you?”, Seungkwan asked putting the gun in the holster.

“The newbie is you!”, Mingyu laughed.

“I'm fine, thanks”, Seungkwan shoved his friend's shoulders and approached the table where Joshua and The8 were sitting, “This place is really big, so maybe we better split up?”

“Yes”, The8 said thoughtfully, “They'll probably want to keep the flag on the top floor and eliminate whoever tries to get close.”

“But at least one will have to go down to try to get our flag”, Joshua pointed out.

“Maybe Sangwoo?”, Mingyu asked.

“Sangwoo is an idiot!”, Baekho said entering the window with the help of the rope.

“Where did you go?”, Seungkwan asked curiously.

“I went to listen to what they were planning!”, Baekho replied with a mischievous smile.

“I knew he wasn't in the bathroom!”, Joshua laughed.

“What I got to hear is that Vernon will come down and try to get our flag”, Baekho started pointing to the highest point in the building, “You’re right, they will keep the flag at the highest point to make it difficult.”

“Okay, so Vernon is the only one who's going down?”, Joshua asked.

“No. I just don't know if the next one will be Wonwoo or Jun.”

“Wonwoo”, The8 said, “In spite of everything, Jun hides very well and is very quiet. So, he'll probably be on the lookout if anyone comes.”

“It makes sense”, Baekho shook his head, “So we worry about Vernon and Wonwoo when they come down, and whoever is going up has to be careful about Jun.”

“Who goes up and who stays, Baekho?”, Mingyu asked.

“Joshua, The8 and I are going up”, Baekho replied, “You two are going to be on the first and the second floor. Keep moving to see if you can find Vernon or Wonwoo.”

“How do we know where their flag is?”, The8 asked.

“As I said, Sangwoo is an idiot”, Baekho laughed, “He wants to make this a personal struggle, so I'm going to give him that little taste.”

“The flag will stay with him”, Mingyu pointed out and Baekho nodded, “He's really an idiot.”

“I had been suspicious of that since Hoshi told us about the evaluation yesterday”, Baekho said sitting down, “It was obvious that he was going to make it personal, that’s why I asked if we could move with the flag.”

“And what are you thinking about?”, Joshua asked and The8 smiled at Baekho.

“I knew we were thinking the same thing yesterday!”, The8 celebrated by making a high-five with Baekho.

“It’s now that our newbie enters”, Baekho said looking at Seungkwan. The one who raised his eyebrows.

“Me?”

“Yes, you”, Baekho smiled, “The8 told me that you run fast and have a great reflex. And that's what is going to make us win.”

Seungkwan looked at the four agents who were looking at him with smug smiles. He didn't know why, but he was feeling awkward about that plan.

[…]

“Hyung, help me here?”, Seungkwan asked, extending the bandana to Joshua.

“Okay... let me know if it's tight”, Joshua tied the blue bandana on Seungkwan's head, as everyone had agreed to use it that way.

“Thanks!”

Boys! Your time is up!”, Hoshi's voice came over the speakers, “From now on you can start playing! Good luck!

“Come on guys! Let's win this!”, Baekho shouted at his team who shouted at him, “Joshua, go ahead as we agreed. The8 comes with me, Mingyu stay here and Seungkwan can climb the rope to the second floor. See you with the pink flag later.”

That said, Baekho left with the gun in hand with The8 and Joshua. Seungkwan said goodbye to Mingyu and went to the window where he grabbed one of the ropes tightly and rested his feet on the wall, rising slowly to not fall on the ground. He could see the three leaders staring at him in surprise, but S.Coups had a small smile on his face.

Seungkwan entered through the window of the small room when he reached the second floor and crouched down, paying attention to any noise. He pulled the gun from his holster and leaned against the wall, walking slowly to the door that was slightly open. He could see the entire corridor on the first floor and also the ground floor, but so far, no movement.

After what seemed like five minutes, he could see the figure of Joshua passing on the first floor and on the other side Wonwoo coming down, which meant that Mingyu should be on the lookout.

He could feel his heartbeat fast, and that could be bad for his report, so he took a few deep breaths to calm himself.

Come on Seungkwan! Calm down and pay attention, Seungkwan said to himself and shook his head.

Joshua eliminated!”, Hoshi's voice was present again and Seungkwan preached internally.

The8 was not kidding when he said that Jun knew how to hide and be silent. He looked through the doorway again and after a few seconds he could see Jun's body appear in the second-floor corridor, on the other side where he was. At that moment, his heart leapt, and he swallowed.

Taking a deep breath, he raised his gun and moved closer to the door for a better angle. Seungkwan closed his left eye and aimed right in the middle of Jun's waistcoat, holding his breath before pulling the trigger and a red line running through the entire building and hitting the Chinese man's waistcoat that got a different color when he was hit.

Jun eliminated!

Seungkwan released the breath he was holding and opened his eyes wide. He had hit the shot and eliminated an opponent. It had really happened.

But his celebration was short.

“I found you!”

Seungkwan looked to the side and saw Vernon at the end of the corridor running towards him. His first reaction was to open the door and run down the hall in a zigzag, just to make it harder if Vernon wanted to shoot him in the back, which was exactly the case.

“Where are you going to run to?”, Vernon shouted when Seungkwan entered a corridor on the right.

“Shut up and find me!”

Vernon entered the hall and found it empty. Narrowing his eyes, he held the gun and started walking slowly, aiming for the first open door, also finding an empty room.

“There are only three rooms here, Seungkwan!”, Vernon shouted walking back down the hall, “There's nowhere to run, so show up soon because I have more to do!”

Silence.

Vernon aimed the gun at the second open door and found another empty room. He smiled at that and walked faster to the last room in the hall, but stopped confused when he also found it empty.

“But how-”

His speech was cut off when he felt a strong kick in the back, making him fall flat on his face.

He turned, but a kick in his hand caused his gun to be thrown across the room. Seungkwan climbed on top of the American with the gun in hand, but Vernon was faster and held the gun before he could shoot and spun it, easily taking it out of the older man's hand.

“Nice try!”, Vernon pointed to Seungkwan's vest, but was again prevented from shooting.

This time because of Seungkwan's hands held his vest and with that he forced himself to turn it on the floor, leaving Vernon on top. Clumsily, Vernon tried to lean on his elbows, but Seungkwan punched his hand which made the second weapon have the same fate as the first. Now without weapons, the fight would have to be on the basis of force.

Using his legs Seungkwan used one of the tricks that The8 taught him and kicked Vernon's stomach, throwing him backwards and making him fall on his back onto the floor.

“Wow! How did I do that?”, Seungkwan asked surprised turning around on the floor.

“That was a good one”, Vernon said with difficulty, but quickly recovering and getting up.

Seungkwan, already standing, managed to dodge a punch and, lowering, hit Vernon's back with his elbow. But that was weak because Vernon grabbed him by the arm and threw him against the wall, trapping him there with an arm against his neck.

“Where’s the flag?”, Vernon asked with the face closer to Seungkwan's.

“Are you mad at me?”, Seungkwan asked trying to free his arm.

“What?”

“You”, Seungkwan repeated, “Are you mad at me for some reason?”

“Are you trying to trick me in any way?”, Vernon asked, squeezing Seungkwan's neck a little.

“I'm just asking you a question, Vernon”, Seungkwan replied simply trying to hide his right leg.

“Really?”, Vernon asked mockingly looking at the volume in the novice's pocket, “And what volume is that then?”

“Ah Vernonie, you’re making me embarrassed!”, Seungkwan replied with an amused smile and Vernon rolled his eyes.

“Shut up and give me that flag!”

Vernon reached into Seungkwan's pocket after he tried to resist and pulled out what was inside. But his expression was more confused than content.

“What the fuck is this?”, Vernon asked looking at the pair of black socks.

“Oh! My socks!”, Seungkwan smiled happily, “Thank you! I was looking for them.”

Vernon looked seriously into Seungkwan's eyes, the one who was still smiling amused. He really wanted to throw that pair of socks in the newbie's face, but the urge to laugh was stronger.

Seungkwan-ah!", Mingyu's voice sounded loudly from the floor below, “Our flag! They'll get it! Help me here!”

“You heard my friend, so if you'll excuse me...”, Seungkwan said trying to break free.

“Good luck then.”

Vernon pushed Seungkwan by the arm he was holding and kicked him in the back, knocking him face down on the floor. That gave him a few seconds of an advantage to run down the hall.

Seungkwan stood up feeling a burning on his chin, since he had hit the ground when he fell. Shaking his head, he went to the window and grabbed one of the ropes, taking a deep breath before throwing himself down, resting his feet on the wall. He thanked for wearing gloves, otherwise his hands would be burning at that moment.

When he reached the first-floor window he could see Vernon running into the corridor, then taking a good boost with his legs he threw himself back and came into the room, hitting both feet on Vernon's chest and throwing him back.

Not today, boy!”, Seungkwan said in English with his strong accent.

Vernon jumped up and ran over to Seungkwan, trying to hit him with punches and kicks. Some were blocked and others fought back, and the fact that Seungkwan was quick and had a good reflex was starting to irritate Vernon.

“Fuck it! The flag is not here anyway!”, Vernon used the wall as a support to jump higher and kick Seungkwan in the chest.

Seungkwan fell on his back on the floor and grunted, but struggled to get up and run after Vernon. Seungkwan noticed Mingyu and Wonwoo fighting in a room while running down the hall. He lifted his head and ran faster trying to get closer to Vernon, and when he did, he threw himself forward and grabbed the American's legs, causing him to fall to the ground again.

“You're pissing me off a lot today!”, Vernon said angrily, letting go of the hands that held him.

“So, you admit to being mad at me!”, Seungkwan stood up, facing Vernon who already had a messy hair and dirty suit.

Strangely beautiful, Seungkwan thought.

“At the moment I am!”

“So, you weren't before?”

“Why does that matter to you?”, Vernon asked, pushing Seungkwan by the shoulders.

“Because I don't like being ignored without knowing why!”, Seungkwan replied, pushing him back.

“You-”, Vernon grunted angrily and grabbed Seungkwan by the vest, throwing him against the hallway wall, “I said that I don't like showing weakness and you say I have a 'soft heart'? Really?”

“But you do!”, Seungkwan said confusedly and closed his eyes when his back hit the wall again, “Okay! Sorry! I didn't say to mock or to upset you!”

“It looked like you were teasing me!”

“But I wasn't!”, Seungkwan slapped the arms that held him and pushed Vernon back, “I was just praising you, Vernon!”

“Why?”, Vernon asked angrily trying to reach the newbie, “Who are you to praise me?”

“I'm a person, Vernon!”, Seungkwan avoided a punch and struck back, managing to hit the American's chest, “People do this!”

“I don't care!”, Vernon said angrily hitting Seungkwan in the legs, making him fall backwards onto the floor.

“So, I won't say anything else to praise you!”, Seungkwan said almost breathlessly, feeling the weight of Vernon's body on his.

“Great!”

“Great!”

Vernon's face was inches from Seungkwan's. So close that he could feel the hot, fast breath against his face. One was holding the other's waistcoat, as if to prevent anyone from moving away.

“One of the rules is”, Mingyu said, stopping next to the two with a gun pointed at Vernon, “Don't talk to your enemy before you kill him.”

And with that Seungkwan could feel Vernon's waistcoat vibrating over him.

Vernon eliminated!”, Hoshi shouted again.

“Wonderful!”, Vernon grunted angrily as he left Seungkwan.

“That goes for you too!”, Wonwoo said before shooting Mingyu.

Mingyu eliminated!”

“Where did you come from?”, Mingyu asked indignantly, “I threw you downstairs!”

“I have legs, you know?”, Wonwoo asked turning the gun.

Seungkwan took advantage of that little moment to take the spare gun out of his boot and shoot Wonwoo in the chest.

Wow! Wonwoo eliminated!”, Hoshi laughed on the speaker, but then cleared his throat, “Sorry guys.

“Very good”, Wonwoo said, winking at Seungkwan.

“Wait”, Vernon said getting up, “Where's your flag at?”

Seungkwan looked at Mingyu and they both smiled amusedly.

And in the same minute, Hoshi's voice came over the speakers again.

Blue team won! Game over!

Chapter Text

Yangpyeong-gun, South Korea.

45.7 KM from Seoul.

12:33 PM.

 

Blue team won! Game over!

 

After Hoshi declared victory for the blue team, Mingyu pulled Seungkwan and the two ran out and shouted happily to the ground floor of the large building. Joshua came running in with open arms and shouting as loudly as the two of them.

Seungkwan was so happy that he didn't even care when Joshua started messing up his hair in the middle of the celebration.

“Seungkwan-ah! You were great shooting Jun from that distance!”, Joshua said stopping from messing with the younger boy's brown hair.

“Don't ask me how I did it because I don't know!”, Seungkwan laughed happily trying to straighten his hair in some way.

“That kind of thing is not asked, just celebrated!”, Joshua adjusted the bandana of the youngest and in sequence punched Mingyu's arm, “Dude when you threw Wonwoo from the first floor to the ground floor... It was just incredible! Where did you learn that?”

“With Wonwoo himself!”, Mingyu replied laughing.

“I'll never teach you anything again”, Wonwoo muttered as he passed by the trio. Vernon and Jun were after him.

“Here they come!”, Seungkwan shouted pointing at Baekho and The8 who had arrived on the ground floor.

Baekho ran downstairs screaming with The8 on his back holding the pink flag with a smug expression. The three stood around the two agents jumping and celebrating as if they had just won a long war.

But it didn't matter. Seungkwan was happy that he did well in the evaluation and still won the game with his team. That was the most important thing.

“Boys! Come here please!”, Hoshi shouted making the five agents stop celebrating, but the big smiles were still there.

“I said I would see you with the pink flag in hand!”, Baekho said, placing The8 on the floor and doing a high-five with each member of his team, “We followed the plan perfectly! We deserve applause, don't you think, Hoshi?”

“Yes, you deserve it. But first get together here and drink some water”, Hoshi laughed indicating the cooler with several bottles of water.

No one hesitated to open a bottle of cold water and take long sips to cool off. That was the only moment when everyone was silent.

“I will take advantage of this moment of silence to congratulate the blue team for winning the game”, S.Coups said approaching with a happy smile, “My congratulations to the five. You did very well.”

“So well that I wanted you to explain the strategy you used, please”, Hoshi asked and Baekho went to the front of the group.

“It was pretty simple actually. We-”

“You cheated!”, Sangwoo said angrily, pointing at Baekho, and only then Seungkwan realized the man's presence.

“Sangwoo...”, Hoshi said in a warning tone.

“I didn't cheat. You lost”, Baekho said simply.

“So, where the hell is your flag?”, Sangwoo asked still irritated and the festive mood changed to tense again.

“If you stay quiet and listen to me, you will know what we did”, Baekho replied, drinking a little more water totally unconcerned.

“And that's what we want to hear, isn't it?”, Hoshi said looking at the two leaders who just shook their heads.

This attitude is very weird, Seungkwan thought.

“A very important point here!”, Baekho said pointing to his team, “We have an extra agent. So, we needed to sacrifice one of us so that someone on the pink team would expose himself. And in this case, Joshua was chosen.”

“I died so you could live, guys”, Joshua said in a dramatic tone and Seungkwan laughed with Mingyu.

“We knew that Jun would be hiding, because as The8 pointed so well, he knows how to be very quiet when needed”, Baekho said looking at The8 who was still holding the pink flag, “However, Joshua is also one of our best agents in terms of silence. That way he was able to find the place where Jun was and, by strategy, appear in front of him as a complete stray.”

“I know how to be very stupid, you know?”, Joshua laughed proudly.

“And with Joshua being stupid and pretending not to know where Jun was, he ended up being eliminated. But with that Jun ended up exposing his position, and it was then that Seungkwan, with an impressive sight by the way, hit him and had him eliminated.”

“It was really good”, Woozi commented and Seungkwan smiled happily.

“But let's think about one thing here”, Baekho had a sarcastic tone that was making Sangwoo more and more angry, “Why choose Joshua, an experienced agent, to be so foolishly eliminated early in the game? After all, anyone else could do what he did if the intention was to just expose Jun's position, correct?”

“Correct!”, Hoshi replied excitedly. He was loving that moment.

“And the answer is simple”, Baekho turned to Sangwoo with a smile, “I’m 99% sure that you have thought of this hypothesis. We have Seungkwan on the team, an inexperienced newbie who was doing his first monthly evaluation. So, to try to fool you, we would leave the flag with him because it would make sense, right? Who would suspect that the most important item in the game would be in the hands of the newbie? So, our target is him! Am I wrong, Sangwoo?”

Sangwoo didn't answer. He just kept staring seriously at the smiling Baekho who was a few steps away.

“With your silence now, I know that I’m 100% right!”, Baekho winked, and it was possible to see Sangwoo's rigid jaw, “And thinking in that hypothesis what did we decide to do Seungkwan?”

“Take off my socks and put it in my pocket to make volume, as if I were hiding something”, Seungkwan responded showing off the pair of socks. Vernon denied with his head remembering when he had them in his hand.

“And it worked!”, The8 laughed making a high-five with Seungkwan.

“Of course it did. Because using the idea that Seungkwan would be with the flag, Vernon would be the one to go after him because he's Sangwoo's right-hand man”, Baekho pointed out, “So I ordered Seungkwan to climb the ropes to the second floor, where it would be easier to find Vernon and he would also have a better angle to eliminate Jun when needed.”

“That's why you ran out instead of trying to shoot me”, Vernon concluded looking at Seungkwan.

“I needed to make you come after me and believe that I was hiding something”, Seungkwan shook his shoulders, “And also give time for Baekho and The8 to climb to the third floor since Jun was eliminated, and the path was clear.”

“And the fight between the two of you was really interesting to watch”, Hoshi said looking at the two agents, “We need to talk about some points, but it was pretty interesting.”

“So, Jun was eliminated, Seungkwan was distracting Vernon, while Mingyu kept Wonwoo busy looking for him”, Baekho said counting on his fingers, “Only Sangwoo, his ego and the flag left.”

“Baekho...”, this time Hoshi's warning tone went to the other agent.

“You wanted to make it personal, so nothing better than to use it to distract you while The8 climbed the ropes and took the flag without any problem. And that’s how we won the game.”

“That was really awesome!”, Hoshi clapped his hands and the other agents accompanied him, “Congratulations again!”

“Your game reading was really perfect”, Woozi said proudly, “You didn't miss anything, and the execution was accurate. I'm shocked!”

“Good job, boys!”, S.Coups said with a friendly smile, “And that goes for everyone. You all went well according to your characteristics, but we'll talk about that later. Now, can we please go to that tent? Because I'm starving, and our lunch is already there.”

Seungkwan looked confusedly at where S.Coups was pointing and was surprised to see a large white tent with the government symbol, set up beside the building.

“That was definitely not there before!”, Seungkwan said walking next to The8.

“Yeah it was!”, The8 laughed, “You didn't see it because you were too nervous and just had eyes to the building.”

“I wasn't nervous!”, Seungkwan pointed out seriously, “I was focused! Is different.”

“Okay, we're going to pretend to believe it now just because we won”, Baekho said, laughing beside the two agents.

“I'm not going to discuss my feelings with you two!”, Seungkwan grunted and saw The8 run over to where Jun was, jumping on his back as if it were the easiest thing in the world, “Do you see why I won't talk about my feelings?”

“You're funny, Seungkwan-ah”, Baekho laughed, but then stopped and raised his eyebrows, “Oh! Is it okay if I call you that?”

“Why would I have a problem with that?”, Seungkwan asked entering the tent, “Everyone calls me that here.”

“I don't know”, Baekho shrugged, “You've been living with the boys for two weeks now, and with me just a few hours...”

“Don't worry about it”, Seungkwan smiled as he sat next to Woozi, “I have no problem with nicknames.”

“Really, Mr. Big Ass?”, Woozi asked in amusement.

“Except for this one!”, Seungkwan said through his teeth.

“Okay, I won't use this one”, Baekho laughed sitting next to Seungkwan, “But speaking of the game, you did really well. Especially climbing up to the second floor.”

“It's because you didn't see him going down from the second floor to the first”, Woozi said holding out a glass to each, “And then throwing himself into the room to kick Vernon. That was really cool, man.”

“Really?!”, Baekho asked in surprise, “Was that recorded on your monitor? Because I want to see this moment!”

“Oh please!”, Seungkwan grunted, “I don't even know how I did that! I just wanted to stop him from running!”

“And you did”, Vernon said, sitting across from Seungkwan, “And it hurt. Just to be clear.”

“Sorry”, Seungkwan made a guilty face.

“It’s okay”, Vernon shrugged, “And your chin is hurt.”

“Ah yes”, Seungkwan touched the place that was still burning, “I'll take care of it later.”

“In each backpack there is a first aid kit”, Woozi said, serving himself, “After lunch, clean it well so you don't get infected.”

“Yes sir”, Seungkwan nodded, starting to eat.

“I wanted to thank my team for today's victory!”, Baekho said raising his glass and being followed by the four agents scattered around the table, “And also to our opponent, because it was a good game on both sides!”

Everyone left at the table also raised their glasses to Baekho, even Sangwoo after rolling his eyes. Seungkwan felt very comfortable and happy at that moment. He was surrounded by good people who, even after a competitive game, were laughing and having fun as if nothing had happened. Even Sangwoo was laughing while talking to S.Coups and Hoshi, and that indicated that all was not yet lost.

But perhaps the most important thing is that, at that particular moment, he was feeling a lot more confident than he had ever felt before. Knowing that the people around him trusted him was very gratifying.

“Baekho, can I ask you something?”, Seungkwan asked covering his mouth and the older man leaned closer to him.

“What's it?”

“Why did you choose me for the team before Mingyu?”

“It was The8's idea”, Baekho replied, “He told me your skills and that it would be better to choose you first, because if Mingyu stayed last he would choose to be on the same team as you.”

“Oh!”, Seungkwan shook his head, “Now the whispers make sense.”

“But the idea of using you as bait was mine”, Baekho said smugly, stirring his food.

“Why me?”

“Because I trusted you”, Baekho replied simply, turning to face Seungkwan, “And it turned out to be the right choice.”

“I'm... shocked”, Seungkwan laughed, “But thanks for the trust without even knowing me.”

“You are part of the team now. And if you are going to work with me, then I will trust you.”

Seungkwan felt awkward hearing that, but it was a good feeling. If Baekho was trying to gain his trust, he was succeeding very easily. But even so, Seungkwan couldn't see anything but truth in the way he spoke or even in his eyes, so for the moment he would ignore all the information he already had about the eldest and simply continue talking to him as if he had never heard his name before.

But someone hadn't really liked to hear those words, and he was sitting across from them. Vernon chewed slowly and listened to their conversation, and when he heard what Baekho said he raised his head in the same second, only to find Seungkwan smiling happily.

Vernon automatically remembered the three times that Seungkwan frowned at him shortly after saying 'have a little faith in me'. And now seeing him all happy just because someone said he trusted him and his ability, was like a punch in the stomach.

He wasn’t angry, but he was upset with himself because he knew how important those words were when you were new at somewhere. And that should have been his attitude that weekend in Busan, or at Minoru's interrogation.

Or maybe he was even more disappointed that he didn't get a smile as happy as that before.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

4:46 P.M.

 

When the van finally arrived in the parking lot of the government building, Hoshi had to wake up some agents who had fallen asleep during the trip. The effort at the task and then the hearty lunch they had would really knock anyone down, so no one made a point of talking a lot during the nearly two-hour trip.

Seungkwan didn’t sleep, but gave his shoulder to Mingyu who looked very sleepy after lunch. He put on his headphones and spent the entire trip just listening to his music and holding Mingyu's body at every new turn or hole in the road.

Everyone grabbed their backpacks and headed straight for the locker room to shower. It was only during the hot shower that the conversations returned, and the dressing room was noisy as usual.

Sangwoo, Baekho and Joshua were the first to finish and leave the locker room with their usual formal clothes. Seungkwan finished shortly after, tying the towel around his waist and going to the locker that had his name on it.

Using the mirror on the door he took the ointment for bruises and made a small bandage on his chin. It was a small cut, but it still hurt from the blow.

“Does it hurt?”, Vernon asked as he passed Seungkwan, as his closet was only a few steps forward.

“A little, but nothing that will kill me”, Seungkwan replied, finishing the bandage.

“Sorry about the push.”

“Sorry for the kick in the chest”, Seungkwan laughed looking to the side and stopping at the same second.

Vernon also had a towel around his waist while the other he used to dry his hair. Seungkwan couldn't help but notice how defined the American was even though he was thinner than Mingyu and Jun, for example. That made him feel a little embarrassed, since he still hadn't gained much body mass on training yet.

“Okay. We did what we needed to”, Vernon's thick voice brought him back to reality.

“Yes... What was needed”, Seungkwan replied without paying much attention, since he was more committed to putting on his underwear under the towel soon.

“Sorry to have yelled at you too”, Vernon left the towel on his shoulders and faced Seungkwan, “You didn't do anything wrong, and I acted like an idiot. Again.”

“You do this a lot, but it's okay”, Seungkwan replied putting on his pants, “I screamed too so we're even.”

“I want to review our fight later”, Vernon said with a smile, “Hoshi said it was very interesting.”

“You want to review it just to laugh at the fall that I took when I hurt my chin!”, Seungkwan grunted, and Vernon laughed. He had missed the American's rather childish laugh.

“You did very well, I don't know why you don't realize it.”

“I have my reasons”, Seungkwan shrugged, grabbing his blue shirt, “But I have a question for you.”

“What?”, Vernon asked, finishing dressing.

“You had more than one opportunity to eliminate me and you didn't”, Seungkwan said, raising his eyebrows, “Why didn't you eliminated me soon? It was easier for you and your team.”

Vernon finished buttoning his shirt and looked at Seungkwan, who was still looking at him confused. Pressing his lips, he ran a hand through his hair to straighten it and closed the locker door. Seungkwan watched Vernon's footsteps to where he was and for the first time he saw something different in those brown eyes. Something different from coldness and seriousness.

It was light. It was something good.

“I decided to have a little faith in you, Seungkwan-ah.”

That was something surprising.

Seungkwan had half his shirt buttoned up, because the shock with those words was so big that he stopped his fingers on the next button and stayed there. Listening to Vernon say that he had faith in him after he asked a few times was very good, especially after the assessment they had that day.

“See you later."

Vernon smiled before passing by the newbie and leaving the locker room. Seungkwan was still a little surprised, but even more because the American simply said that and left without continuing with that conversation.

Seungkwan looked at the mirror in the closet and shook his head, finishing buttoning his shirt, and as soon as he finished dressing he closed the door and left the locker room. Checking his cell phone, he replied to Seokmin's messages saying that he would make dinner since the older brother would arrive later.

Entering the intelligence team room he could see Wonwoo cleaning the desk that was previously vacant, and now Seungkwan knew who it belonged to.

“What a month out doesn't do with a desk”, Wonwoo said with a grimace throwing several things at the trash.

“Think on the bright side”, Thse8 swiveled in his chair with an amused smile, “At least your mug is clean.”

“That's the least they could do, isn't it?”

“Do you know how Mingyu's mug was when he came back?’

“Mingyu is disgusting. It's different”, Wonwoo pointed out, arranging his round glasses, “Seungkwan can confirm that.”

“I don't have the strength to deny this”, Seungkwan responded by looking at his emails.

“See?”, Wonwoo threw himself in his chair and blew out a tired breath, “I'm tired.”

“My arms are sore from climbing”, The8 flexed his arms with a grimace, “Yours must be hurting too, isn't it Seungkwan?”

“My legs are hurting more than my arms, actually”, Seungkwan responded opening an email from Lisa that had been received an hour ago, “Lisa answered us about the report we sent yesterday.”

“Already?”, The8 asked, pushing the chair closer to Seungkwan.

“Sometimes I suspect that she is a robot”, Wonwoo commented walking up behind them to also read the response.

 

“Hello boys! I hope you did well in the monthly evaluation today!

I read your entire report more than once, because it was too good to read just once. I made a chart with all this information very similar to yours, but I left some spaces for the information that I will collect from now on.

Tomorrow I will already prepare my new team to start the searches and investigations here. Now I’m going to ask you a little bit of patience for me to be able to work and pass on correct information to you.

With each new concrete clue I will contact you!

See you soon and take care, boys!”

 

“She's cute”, Seungkwan said as soon as he finished reading the email.

“Yeah... And can kill you”, The8 laughed hitting the youngest on the head.

“I will always remember that”, Seungkwan ran a hand through his hair and faced the two agents, “And what do we do now.”

“We wait”, Wonwoo replied returning to his desk.

Seungkwan saw the two return to their activities, as they should now wait for Lisa and her team to find out more about the case.

And he would definitely use that time to train and learn more, because now that case was starting to get serious.

Chapter Text

Friday, two weeks later.

Seoul, South Korea.

4:14 P.M.

 

“Now put this on”, Wonwoo said helping Seungkwan to put on the magnifying glasses.

“Wow!”, Seungkwan laughed looking at his hands and seeing several details impossible to see with the human eye, “This is really cool, hyung!”

“I know it is, now look here”, Wonwoo laughed pushing a green bag on the table, “Try to find something different here.”

“Hm... There are some strands of hair”, Seungkwan said adjusting his rubber gloves, “What else... Oh!”

“What?”

“Give me the tweezers, please”, Seungkwan stretched out his hand, and with the object he managed to catch what had caught his attention, “Can you see that?”

“It's quite small”, Wonwoo narrowed his eyes at the tweezers.

“It's a light color so let's put it on a dark surface.”

“Okay!”, Wonwoo opened one of the table drawers and took a piece of black cloth for the counter, “Put it here, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Can you see it now?”

“Yes, now I can”, Wonwoo approached with a handheld magnifying glass, “Does it look like... dandruff?”

“That's what I thought, too”, Seungkwan stepped back and lowered the mask, “There are some dandruffs in that bag.”

“We will collect and send it for analysis then”, Wonwoo took off his gloves and mask, “Probably the girls will find something in the database.”

“How are you guys doing with the stinky green bag that the Busan deputy sent?”, Woozi asked from his desk when he hung up the phone.

“Very well”, Wonwoo replied, taking notes in the small envelope and handing it to Seungkwan, “We found what looks like a little dandruff in the bag. Let's send it to the lab for analysis.”

“Great”, Woozi said, wiping his glasses, “This is the suitcase that was hidden in Minoru's nightclub, right?”

“Yes sir”, Seungkwan took as many samples as he could and walked away from the bag, “The horrible smell is still here.”

“Seungkwan is traumatized”, Woozi laughed.

“You would be too if you had smelled that smell so close!”, Seungkwan grunted, handing the sealed envelope to Wonwoo, “At least now he is being forced to take a shower.”

“Before you smell that than I do”, Wonwoo laughed, “I'm going to take this to the lab. I'll be right back.”

Yah! Seungkwan-ah!”, Vernon said hurriedly entering the room. However, when he saw what Seungkwan was wearing he stopped in the same second, “Look what I- What the hell are you wearing?”

“Oh! I was looking for evidence in this bag!”, Seungkwan said taking the magnifying glasses off his head, “Don't laugh at me, Vernon!”

“There's no way!”, Vernon laughed approaching, “Your eyes were tiny because of the lenses.”

“Still not funny!”, Seungkwan hit the American with the rubber gloves he had taken off, “Why did you run in here?”

“I found something interesting”, Vernon said, stopping laughing, but still with a smile, “Look at this!”

“Are these the pictures that Lisa said she was going to send?”, Seungkwan asked putting on his glasses to look at the pictures better.

“Yes! I was analyzing each one and look who I found here”, Vernon said pointing to a person in the corner of the photo, “Do you recognize?”

Seungkwan narrowed his eyes and looked closely at the person Vernon was pointing at.

A few days ago, Lisa said she had possibly found one of the men on the list they had sent. She assigned two agents to follow him for three days to be sure of where he was staying and, to Vernon's surprise, he was not alone.

Seungkwan raised his eyebrows when he remembered where he had seen that face before.

“It's the woman from the club!”, Seungkwan pointed, and Vernon shook his head, still saying with a smile, “But what is she doing with Lee Doyun?”

“I have no idea”, Vernon shrugged his shoulders looking at the photo, “But it reminded me that I didn't see her at any time that day.”

“Maybe she was hiding well?”

“Or maybe she wasn't even there?”

At that moment, the two looked at each other surprised and said at the same time, as if one already knew the answer of the other.

“She knew about the operation!”, The two said together and did a quick high-five.

“The mind of you two is so strangely synchronized that it makes me shocked every time”, Woozi commented while still reading the documents that were on his desk.

“I said it first!”, Seungkwan said quickly.

“No, I said it first!”

“Both said at the same time”, Woozi replied bored without taking his eyes off the document.

“Whatever!”, Vernon waved his hands with another smile, “Now it makes sense that she isn't there. We just need to find out how she found out about the operation.”

“And why didn't she warn Minoru.”

“Excellent boys”, Woozi said raising his head to face them, “But please document this.”

The two nodded and sat down at Seungkwan's desk to write all that information. Woozi looked at the two of them talking and working in such a good vibe, that it took from him a small, satisfied smile before going back to their documents.

After the monthly evaluation, the relationship between Seungkwan and Vernon became very strong. Vernon had allowed himself to approach the newbie in a decent way, and was enjoying it a lot since Seungkwan was funny and very smart. He liked being close to Seungkwan because the newbie made him feel good. And that was a sensation he had not known for a long time.

“I think we're done”, Seungkwan said, attaching the woman's photo to the document.

“Now we send this to Lisa to be aware of and wait for her next steps.”

“Exactly”, Seungkwan replied, seeing his cell phone start to vibrate on the table and a picture of Chan appear on the screen, “Chan calling me at this hour?”

“Maybe he’s looking for your calculator again”, Vernon joked. Seungkwan had told him about his two brothers and the youngest always called or texted for help with homework.

“Probably”, Seungkwan leaned back and answered the call, “Hi Chan!”

Uh... Are you Chan's older brother?”, A female voice asked and Seungkwan frowned.

“I'm one of them”, Seungkwan replied confused, “Who's talking?”

You need to come and pick him up from school now!” The girl said quickly, ignoring the question Seungkwan had asked.

“What do you mean now? What happened?”, Seungkwan asked cautiously, attracting the attention of both Vernon and Woozi as well, “Where's Chan?”

He's with me at the gymnasium, but you need to come here fast!

Let me talk to him”, Seungkwan could hear Chan's voice in the background, “Hyung, come pick me up, please.

“Chan what happened? Are you okay?”, Seungkwan could feel his heart beating faster in concern for his brother.

No”, Chan replied in a choked voice, “Please hyung...

“Okay, I'm going!”, Seungkwan said getting up, “In a few minutes I'll be there.”

Thanks.

“But Chan-”, Seungkwan tried to speak, but the call ended, “Shit!”

“Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon called seeing the newbie pick up his stuff quickly, “What happened?”

“Is everything okay with your brother?”, Woozi asked.

“I don't know, but apparently something happened to him”, Seungkwan put on his jacket and took the car keys, “I have to go pick him up, Woozi.”

“Sure, you can go!”, Woozi said quickly, “It will be okay, but drive carefully.”

Seungkwan waved and hurried out of the room.

He hadn't liked the tearful voice in which Chan had spoken to him on the phone. At the moment he wasn't even worried about who was the girl who had called him, he just wanted to know what had happened to his brother.

While driving back to Incheon he tried to call Seokmin, but the call went to voicemail every time.

“Seok, it's me”, Seungkwan said, resolving to leave a message, “You must be very busy right now, but just to let you know that I'm going to pick up Chan at school. I got a call and he asked me to pick him up now. I don't know what happened, but I just wanted to let you know. When you hear this go home because I'll be there with him. See you later.”

Seungkwan left his cell phone in the passenger seat and focused on the road. He wanted to get to his brother as soon as possible, but he couldn't cause an accident.

I just hope he's okay, Seungkwan thought in a sigh.

[…]

As soon as he parked in front of Chan's school, Seungkwan hurriedly got out of the car and ran for the open gymnasium door. As soon as he entered he could see two heads near the stands, and one of those heads was his brother.

“Chan!”, Seungkwan chanted down the stairs and approaching them.

The closer he got, the more worried he became. Chan was sitting on the floor all dirty with some green liquid, and his chair was lying next to him, also all dirty. His brown hair was a mess, and his eyes were red possibly from crying.

“What happened to you?!”, Seungkwan asked, bending down to stand at his brother's height.

“Hyung...”

“I heard some screams and laughter”, The female voice of the call came on and Seungkwan stared at the girl next to him and his brother, “I entered the gymnasium and some boys on the soccer team were mocking and trying to knock him off the chair. I yelled for them to stop and before they ran out, one of them knocked Chan off the chair and the others threw that green jelly at him.”

“Those idiots again?”, Seungkwan asked staring at his brother who just nodded, “Okay, this is not going to be like this! Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it.”

“Hyung, it won't do any good talking to the principal again”, Chan said dejectedly, “Let's just forget about it.”

“How am I going to forget this, Chan?!”, Seungkwan asked pointing to the white shirt full of green stains, “This is ridiculous! Why would they do this to you all the time?”

“Because I can't even stand up to defend myself!”, Chan replied grimly and Seungkwan felt as if he had been punched in the stomach with those words.

“This-”, Seungkwan cleared his throat to speak more firmly, “This is not a reason! I already said that I don't want to hear you talking like that, Chan.”

“Whatever”, Chan rubbed a hand over his eyes, “Take me home, please.”

“Fine”, Seungkwan prepared to pick up his brother and looked at the girl who was still there, “Can you help me by lifting his chair?”

“Sure!”, She replied, hurrying to help.

“Seungkwan I don't think-”, Chan started to speak, but stopped when his brother easily picked him up, “Wow! When did you get strong?”

“I've always been strong, what are you talking about?”, Seungkwan frowned while left the gymnasium.

Chan just narrowed his eyes at his brother and was silent. Seungkwan opened the back door of the car and placed Chan sitting carefully before closing the door and helping the girl with the chair.

“Thank you”, Seungkwan smiled putting the chair in the trunk, “I'm Seungkwan, by the way.”

“Kim Dahyun”, The girl broke into a small smile, “Sorry I didn't introduce myself on the phone.”

“Don't worry. I appreciate you calling me and not leaving Chan alone”, Seungkwan said picking up the car keys, “Do you want a ride home?”

“It's not necessary! I live ten minutes from school, but thanks”, Dahyun said hurriedly, holding her backpack, “I better get going, so see you later.”

“See you, Dahyun”, Seungkwan nodded, “And thanks again.”

The entire drive home was silent. Seungkwan was constantly looking in the rearview mirror, and just found Chan looking out the window with an expression so sad it was making his heart ache.

Seungkwan knew that his brother had no friends at school, and that the bullying had happened before and Chan always tried to take it lightly to not worry his brothers, but that was always something that hurt Seungkwan because of the accident they had two years ago.

This was a scar that would always be exposed to him.

Seungkwan helped Chan in the bath when they got home, even though he was still silent. Seokmin came running and shouting for the two of them in a row, as concerned as Seungkwan when he got the call from Dahyun. While the two were talking, Seungkwan decided to leave the two alone and left the house again.

Seungkwan went back to the department and spent the entire trip thinking about Chan's words and his sad expression, and that brought back all the guilt he felt for his brother not being able to walk.

He was angry. Angry for not paying enough attention that day. Angry because Chan was being bullied again at school because of the chair. Angry for not being able to do anything to help him.

Seungkwan walked from the parking lot to the locker room so blindly that he couldn’t tell whether he had bumped into anyone on the way or not. The cry that was stuck in his throat started to come out when he started punching the sandbag. His gloved hands collided directly with the rough material, but he was feeling nothing but the burning in his throat and the pain in his chest.

He just wanted to relieve himself of it in some way, and punching that sandbag with all his strength seemed to be the best alternative.

However, in the corridor someone carefree walked towards the gym, and the sound of heavy punches in the sandbag left him confused due to the time, since the shift had already ended a few minutes ago.

Vernon entered the gym and stopped as soon as he saw Seungkwan punch the sandbag wildly while crying. That left him without reaction for a few seconds since he did not expect to find Seungkwan there after leaving earlier, even more crying like that.

He left his backpack on the floor and slowly approached the newbie who had not yet noticed his presence.

“Seungkwan-ah…”, Vernon said softly touching Seungkwan's shoulder.

As soon as he felt the touch on his shoulder, he punched the sandbag one last time and rested his sweaty forehead on the black leather. He was still sobbing, and Vernon didn't know exactly what to do or say at that moment.

“Don't do that”, Vernon said, still holding Seungkwan's shoulder, “You're going to get hurt.”

“I don't care!”, Seungkwan replied, wiping his face aggressively, “I hurt him first!”

“But that's not how it works, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon still kept his tone soft. He looked at the closed hands and saw the blood between his fingers, “Your hands are hurt.”

“Whatever”, Seungkwan looked at his hands and couldn't even feel pain.

“Regardless of what happened, I need you to calm down”, Vernon squeezed the newbie's shoulder softly, “Why don't you take a shower and let me take care of your hands? What do you think?”

Seungkwan took a few deep breaths and, without looking at Vernon, headed for the locker room. Vernon looked at the sandbag that was still swinging and saw some blood marks there, which shocked him because the force Seungkwan was punching was greater than he thought.

Vernon went to his locker to get a first aid kit, which thanks to Seungkwan he learned to always keep one. Before returning to the gym, Vernon took a look inside the showers, just to make sure that Seungkwan wasn’t crying again.

However, different from what he expected to see, the image he saw in front of his eyes was just Seungkwan's slim body under the shower. Seungkwan had his back to him, and had his arms propped against the wall while the jet of water collided with his neck and back. The glass that closed the shower stalls was transparent, with only a small matte strip at the height of the private parts, but even so it was possible to see the bodies' silhouette perfectly.

When Seungkwan raised his head to continue his shower, Vernon took a few steps back and returned to the gym. He sat on one of the benches with the image of Seungkwan's body still in his mind. He did not know why, but the newbie always caught his attention and even more now that his body was more defined because of training.

Vernon did not know how much time had passed while thinking about what he had seen, but he came back to reality when he saw Seungkwan return to the gym in sweatpants and a black T-shirt with the government symbol.

“Do you feel better?”, Vernon asked indicating the seat so that Seungkwan could also sit down.

“A little”, Seungkwan put a leg over the bench and sat across from the American, “I'm sorry you saw that.”

“You have nothing to apologize for”, Vernon moved closer until their knees touched, “Let me see your hands.”

“It's no big deal”, Seungkwan tried to close his hands, but the American was quicker to pull them into his lap, “I can handle this later, Vernon.”

“I know”, Vernon left his bruised hands on his lap to pick up the light-cut ointment, “But I'll take care of that for you now.”

Seungkwan said nothing more, just watched the calm, and even slow, way that Vernon took the ointment and carefully passed the small cuts that had formed in the knuckles of his hand.

“I hope I'm doing it right”, Vernon said looking quickly at Seungkwan, and only then realizing that his eyes were fixed on his face.

“Yes, you are”, Seungkwan shook his head, averting his eyes from his hands, “I think during the month we met, we took care of each other's injuries more than anything else.”

“You have a point here”, Vernon smiled, turning his attention back to what he was doing.

“What are you doing here at this hour?”

“I came to workout”, Vernon replied simply, “I spent the morning doing paperwork for Hoshi and then in the afternoon I stayed with you. So I didn't have time to train during the day.”

“I got it.”

“And you? Why did you come back here?”

“I needed to punch something.”

“I noticed”, Vernon chuckled, “Do you want to talk about what happened?”

“I don't want to bother you with my problems, Vernon.”

“You never bother me, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon said seriously, staring at the other, “You can tell me whatever you want.”

“It's just...”, Seungkwan sighed and shook his head, brushing some wet hairs out of his eyes, “Chan has been bullied by some boys at school. That's why he called me asking to pick him up from school, because the same boys attacked him again.”

“Why do they do that to him?”, Vernon asked, frowning.

“Because he can't defend himself”, Seungkwan replied softly, looking at Vernon's still confused expression, “Chan is in a wheelchair, Vernon.”

“Oh”, Vernon went from confused to surprise at that answer, “I didn't know.”

“It happened two years ago”, Seungkwan started, “Chan and I went to the movies, and on the way back we were laughing and singing the songs on the radio while the traffic light was red. When I saw the green light I started driving again, but when I was crossing the intersection another car came in the opposite direction and hit us”, Vernon had his full attention on what Seungkwan was saying, and he could see when the brown eyes started to turn burst into tears again, “The car hit Chan's side, and it was a miracle that he didn't die. I don't remember much about the accident itself, I just remember two bright lights approaching and then a severe pain in the head.”

“So that's the reason for the scar on your cheek”, Vernon commented pointing to the small cut on Seungkwan's right cheek.

"Yes", Seungkwan replied a little surprised that the American noticed that scar, “I remember waking up in the hospital with Seokmin staring at me in the chair next to the bed. The first thing I asked was where Chan was, and he told me he was in surgery. After hours, a doctor came in saying that he was alive and would be fine, but he hit a part of the brain that is responsible for the movements of his legs, and that it had caused paralysis in his legs.”

“Oh so he can feel it, but he can't walk, is that it?”

“Exactly that”, Seungkwan sniffed, “There is a treatment so that he can recover his movements and walk again, but it is very expensive, and we had no way to pay at that moment. So I focused on finishing college and getting a job as soon as possible just to pay for his treatment”, Seungkwan said firmly, “Since I had been responsible for what happened, then the least I could do was pay for his treatment.”

“Wow! Wait a minute!”, Vernon said abruptly, “How come you were responsible for what happened?!”

“I should have paid more attention that day, Vernon.”

“Seungkwan, do you know the meaning of 'accident'?”, Vernon asked, “You had no way of predicting that! It could have been in the front car, or in the back car. When we drive, we can never blindly trust the people who are driving around us because things like that can happen.”

“But Vernon-”

"No. Listen to me”, Vernon approached, staring into Seungkwan's eyes, “You can't blame yourself for something you couldn't predict. It's unfair to do that to yourself.”

“It’s not something I can control, Vernon.”

“I know, but you have to try”, Vernon said softly, “Does your brother know you have this guilt for the accident?”, Vernon asked and Seungkwan was silent, “How do you think he would feel knowing that you feel this way?”

“He would be really pissed.”

“Because he knows that no one was to blame for this”, Vernon smiled a little, “Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm going to take the chance anyway. I'm sure Chan looks at you and feels very safe and proud, because he knows he has two brothers who do everything to help and protect him.”

“You think?”

“I'm sure!”, Vernon opened a big smile, “He called, and you ran in the same second to pick him up. This means that he fully trusts you! And I'm also sure that he would be very upset to hear that you have these thoughts.”

“I don't want him to know that.”

“Okay, it's your right, but I think you should talk to him frankly about it”, Vernon shook his head, “Tell him how you feel, and I know that he gets that idea out of your head very quickly.”

“Yeah, punching me”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes and Vernon laughed.

“Maybe so, but I think it would make you feel better if you had a conversation like this with him.”

“Maybe I’ll think about it”, Seungkwan pressed his lips together and faced the sincere smile that Vernon was giving him, “Thank you, Vernon.”

“I didn't do anything for you to thank me”, Vernon laughed, “I just don't want to find you crying and punching the sandbag again.”

“Oh my God! What a shame!”, Seungkwan closed his eyes and shook his head, “Please don't tell anyone about this!”

“Don't worry, I won't!”, Vernon said, still laughing.

Seungkwan started laughing next to the American and felt his hand tighten. Only then Seungkwan realized that Vernon was still holding his hands in a gentle grip.

The laughter slowly died away due to that detail, but neither of them broke the contact. One side of Vernon's conscience was screaming for him to release Seungkwan's hands soon, but the other side kept him holding those soft hands in his.

“Hm... I think I'm going to let you workout now”, Seungkwan said a little embarrassed, slowly letting go of Vernon's hands.

“Right... Workout!”, Vernon nodded gathering his things and getting up at the same time as Seungkwan, “Are you going home now?”

“I think so. Today was a busy day”, Seungkwan ran his hands through his hair, “See you tomorrow?”

“Tomorrow?”, Vernon asked confused, “What's with tomorrow?”

“It's Jun's birthday”, Seungkwan replied, “He invited everyone to eat and drink at a Chinese bar in Itaewon.”

“Ah yes!", Vernon shook his head, “I don't know if I’m going.”

“Why not?”

“I don't really like going out”, Vernon made a face and Seungkwan rolled his eyes.

“We will all be there, so it will be fun”, Seungkwan said with a smile, “I hope to see you there.”

“Okay I can think about it”, Vernon shrugged as if it was no big deal, but the urge to go was already growing inside him.

“Okay, then!”, Seungkwan said walking back to the gym door, “If that's the case, I'll see you tomorrow. If not, I'll see you Monday.”

“See you.”

Vernon waved and saw Seungkwan leave the gym. He looked at the things in his hand and the image of Seungkwan in the shower, and also of the injured hands in his, made a strange feeling rise in his stomach, and it made him shiver.

"I hope to see you there."

That sentence made Vernon roll his eyes and go to his locker to pack the things he had in hand and grumble on his own.

“Great! Now I have to buy Jun a present.”

Chapter Text

Incheon, South Korea.

3:35 P.M.

 

“Seungkwan?”, Seokmin called an attentive eye to the sandwich that the youngest was preparing, “What are you doing?”

“A snack?”, Seungkwan responded biting a piece of lettuce.

“Aren't you going out with your friends later to eat?”

“Yes, but there are still a few hours left and I'm hungry”, Seungkwan shrugged, “Why the question?”

“Nothing” Seokmin laughed, taking a glass of water, “I just thought that maybe you were going to lose your appetite and not enjoy it properly.”

“It's Chinese food, I'm going to enjoy it a lot!”, Seungkwan laughed as he finished the sandwich. Just in time for the bell to ring, “Are you waiting for someone?”

Seokmin denied it and Seungkwan wiped his hands on his pants quickly to answer the door. When he opened it, he could see the same girl from the previous day standing with her hands behind and a shy smile on her lips.

“Hello again!”, Dahyun said with a bigger smile.

“Hello! Dahyun, right?”, Seungkwan asked, and the girl nodded, “You can come in, please!”

“Thank you!”, Dahyun brought what he held to his chest and Seungkwan could see a book and some papers.

“How can I help you, Dahyun?”

“I'm looking for Chan”, Dahyun replied with a shy smile and Seungkwan found her extremely adorable, “Is he here?”

“Yes! I will-”

“I'm on my way!”, Seokmin said hurriedly appearing in the living room, “My name is Seokmin, by the way.”

“Hello”, Dahyun laughed as the older man ran down the hall.

“Damn gossipy”, Seungkwan said through his teeth and smiled at the girl, “Do you want to eat something? I was just finishing a snack.”

“No, I’m fine. But thank you!”, Dahyun responds nicely.

Come on, Chan!”, Seokmin's voice could be heard in the hall, “And fix this hair.”

“I was sleeping, what do you want from me?”, Chan asked sleepily entering the room. Seokmin stopped the chair and the youngest looked in surprise at whoever was in front of him, “Dahyun?”

“Hi Chan!”

“What are you doing here?”, Chan asked confused and soon felt a slap on the head.

Be nice!”, Seungkwan said between teeth while smiled at Dahyun, “Well, I'm going to finish my snack. Seok, come with me?”

“Yes, my water is in the kitchen!”, Seokmin smiled at the two before running after Seungkwan.

“Sorry for them”, Chan said, massaging his head, “They are two idiots.”

“They're funny”, Dahyun laughed, turning his attention back to the boy in front of him, “Sorry if I woke you up.”

“Don't worry”, Chan ran his hands over his shorts, “But what did you want to talk with me?”

“Ah yes!”, Dahyun laughed nervously, “Yesterday in the middle of the confusion a book and some activities fell out of you backpack”, Dahyun said handing the boy what she had in hand, “The activities were dirty, so I asked for a copy at school.”

“Oh! Thank you”, Chan thanked looking at the new activities, “But why didn't you give it to me on Monday at school?”

In the kitchen, Seokmin and Seungkwan were leaning against the wall that divides the room to listen to their conversation, and when Chan asked that question they both looked at each other angrily.

Look what your brother just asked!”, Seokmin said quietly, pushing the younger boy's shoulder.

My brother wouldn't ask such a stupid question! Your brother would!”, Seungkwan pushed him back and the two stopped when they heard Dahyun's voice again.

“I could, but these activities are due on Monday”, Dahyun shrugged, “I didn't want you to lose points because of what happened.”

“You didn't have to worry about that”, Chan said self-consciously, “But thanks. Not only for that, but for helping me yesterday.”

“No need to thank”, Dahyun smiled, “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, I am now!”, Chan broke into a smile.

“Good!”, Dahyun smiled and shook hands anxiously, “Well, I have to go...”

“Oh ok!”, Chan pushed the chair over to the door so he could open it, “Thanks again for the activities.”

“It's okay”, Dahyun put her hair behind her ear, “See you at school?”

“Hm... Of course!”, Chan smiled in surprise, “See you at school.”

With a last wave Dahyun said goodbye and Chan closed the door, the surprised expression still on his face. He looked at the book and the activities on his lap and thought about how cool Dahyun was in helping him that way, since they never even spoke at school.

Chan felt the presence of the brothers and turned towards the entrance to the kitchen, finding the head of the two brothers looking at him with curious expressions. That made him roll his eyes.

“What do you two want?”

Why didn't you give it to me on Monday at school?”, Seungkwan imitated his brother's question in an exaggeratedly thin voice, “Are you stupid?!”

“But it was a good question!”, Chan turned the chair, “I didn't understand why she came here just for that.”

“He really is stupid”, Seungkwan said to Seokmin, biting his snack.

“Chan, pay attention”, Seokmin said laughing, “Do you really think she came here, on a Saturday afternoon, just to give you the activities?”

“Yes?”, Chan asked showing the book and Seungkwan tapped himself on the forehead.

“Unbelievable!”, Seungkwan grunted with his mouth full.

“Chan, we need to talk about some things”, Seokmin laughed as he sat on the couch.

“She’s clearly into you, boy!”, Seungkwan said seeing the younger boy's serious expression turn into a loud laugh.

“Very funny, hyung!”, Chan clapped his hands still laughing, “That was really good!”

“He's not taking me seriously, Seok”, Seungkwan said looking at his brother.

“Chan, look at me”, Seokmin called, making the younger one stop laughing, “She's cute.”

“I know she is”, Chan cleared his throat, “But you’re seeing things that don't exist. We never spoke before yesterday's episode.”

“Then explain her visit today.”

“She was just being nice”, Chan shrugged.

“And what about that?”, Seungkwan asked with a shy smile as he pretended to put his hair behind his ear. Seokmin started to laugh at his brother's idiocy, “Explain it to me, Chan!”

“You are pathetic?”, Chan concluded with an innocent smile.

“I'm going to throw this snack at you.”

“You two are overreacting”, Chan said turning the chair over to the hall, “You should be happy that someone in that school is nice to me.”

“I'm happy!”, Seokmin shouted at the youngest who followed the corridor back to his room, “Even more because you have a possible crush now.”

I heard you!”, Chan shouted before closing the door, making the two brothers laugh.

“Are we going to torment his life with this?”, Seokmin asked.

“Of course, we will!”, Seungkwan laughed, throwing himself on his brother's side, “Now let's watch something, please.”

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Incheon, South Korea.

7:12 P.M.

 

Seokmin was laughing at the movie he was watching with Chan, completely distracted when he heard the bell.

“Oh! It must be Mingyu,” He said getting up, “Seungkwan-ah! Your ride has arrived!”

I'm on my way!”, Seungkwan shouted from his room.

“You arrived early today Min... gyu?”, Seokmin said confused as he opened the door and found a smiling man, “You're not Mingyu.”

“Hello!”, The smiling man said cheerfully, “My name is Kwon Soonyoung, and I'm here to pick up your brother.”

“Right...”, Seokmin shook his head, “And would you be...?”

“I work with Seungkwan”, Hoshi replied pleasantly, “He probably must have talked about me before.”

“Oh! You're the guy who think it’s a tiger!”, Seokmin snapped his fingers remembering the younger brother's words, “Yeah, he already talked about you.”

“Excuse me?!”, Hoshi put his hand on his chest offended, “I don't think I'm a tiger. I am one!”

“Yeah, right”, Seokmin snorted.

“I'm here!”, Seungkwan said appearing at the door and looking at his friend in a confused way, “Soonyoung? What are you doing here?”

“Mingyu had a problem and asked me to pick you up”, Hoshi replied putting his hands in his pocket, “Are you ready?”

“Yes, let's go!”, Seungkwan put his cell phone in his pocket and waved to his older brother, “Maybe I'll be back late, hyung. Don't wait for me awake.”

“Yes, sir”, Seokmin waved back, “Take care and have fun!”

Seungkwan smiled and got into the car next to Hoshi, soon seeing his brother's figure disappear.

“It's so weird to call you Soonyoung”, Seungkwan laughed as he put on the seatbelt.

“I know!”, Hoshi laughed turning on the radio, “I'm thinking of switching to Hoshi definitely, what do you think?”

“It suits you very well”, Seungkwan smiled looking at his cell phone, “What happened to Mingyu?”

“I don't know very well. He just said he had a problem and that he's going to be a little late”, Hoshi replied, “Didn't he send you any messages?”

“No, that's why it's weird”, Seungkwan blocked the phone, “But it shouldn't be a big deal.”

“Oh yes, of course”, Hoshi shook his head, “Now tell me. Does your brother have a problem with tigers?”

Seungkwan ended up laughing at that question, even more after seeing that the man next to him was serious.

The two spent a good part of the ride talking and singing the songs on the radio. Mingyu was right when he said that Seungkwan would get along with Hoshi, even if the older one was much more energetic than his best friend.

Traffic was fine that Saturday night, so they arrived at the restaurant before they imagine. Seungkwan didn't know that restaurant, but Jun told him it was fun, and the food was great, so he was excited to get to know it.

“Junnie!”, Hoshi shouted hugging the older man behind his back, “Happy birthday, man!”

“Thank you, Hoshi”, Jun replied with difficulty for the squeeze.

“I won't do that”, Seungkwan chuckled patting the eldest on the shoulder, “Happy birthday, hyung.”

“See? This is how you should greet me!”, Jun muttered, running a hand over his aching arms because of Hoshi's grip, “Thank you, Seungkwan-ah.”

“You know me too well to know that I wouldn't do that.”

“Hey guys!”, Seungkwan smiled as he sat next to Baekho.

“You survived!”, Woozi feigned a celebration, “You won this one, Baek.”

“You owe me a beer”, Baekho slapped the shorter's hand, “We made a bet to see if you could handle an entire ride with Hoshi without going crazy.”

“And apparently you're stronger than I thought you were”, Woozi laughed, leaning back on the leather sofa.

“Hoshi isn't that bad”, Seungkwan laughed looking at his friend who was now talking civilly to Jun, “He's fun and we get along well.”

“Please don't become a lunatic like him,” Woozi asked with a grimace.

“I think that between the two, Seungkwan is the most normal,” Baekho laughed.

“Do you think?!”, Seungkwan asked offended, making them both laugh again, “Hoshi is cool, but you don't have to offend me like that!”

“I'm sorry!”

“Okay guys!”, S.Coups' thick voice was present. He was carrying a bucket with several bottles of beer, “First round is already paid by the birthday boy, so let's enjoy it!”

“Please don't make me ashamed today”, The8 asked placing three bottles of soju on the table.

“Let's get Seungkwan drunk and see what happens!”, Hoshi asked placing a bottle of cold beer in the hands of the youngest.

“Didn't you hear what I just said?”, The8 asked, pushing Hoshi's shoulder.

“So, let's just get him excited enough then!”, S.Coups laughed opening the bottle of Seungkwan who was surprised by that side of the leader.

“You guys...”, Seungkwan sighed before taking a sip of his beer, listening to the excited screams around him, “Why me?!”

“Because you're new and we don't know what you look like when you get drunk”, S.Coups replied simply, putting an arm around Woozi's shoulders.

“It's like a ritual”, Baekho explained, taking a bottle, “We all went through this.”

“Don't listen to them unless you want to go to the hospital”, The8 said, sitting next to Jun with a smile, “I got you something.”

“What?”, Jun asked leaving the soju glass on the table to pay attention to what the other was saying.

“They don't sell it anymore, but I convinced the owner to make an effort”, The8 took out a plastic crown under the table.

“Oh! No way!”, Jun jumped excitedly, “Hao! They wrote my name!”

“Yes, they did”, The8 laughed placing the crown on his boyfriend's head, smoothing a few strands of hair, “There it is. It's beautiful on you.”

“Thanks Hao!”, Jun said happily, pulling his boyfriend's face and kissing his lips.

Awn Junnie. How cute!”, Hoshi teased, receiving a death glare from The8, “Okay! I stopped for today!”

“Great”, The8 said seriously, but then laughing with Jun with the startled expression that Hoshi was doing, “You idiot! Stop it and give me a beer!”

“What's the deal with the crown?”, Seungkwan asked Baekho.

“Jun really liked a place that made these birthday crowns, but they closed recently, and he was sad because he wanted one for his birthday”, Baekho replied looking at Jun's happiness, “I'm surprised The8 managed to convince them to make one just for him.”

“That was really nice”, Seungkwan smiled at the two who were talking to Hoshi, “I really like them.”

“I realized that”, Baekho smiled, “I really like that.”

“What?”

“Your funny way”, Baekho shrugged, “It's a light way of living.”

“Oh”, Seungkwan raised his eyebrows and looked away at the bottle in his hands. Baekho's sincere smile was making him embarrassed, “Thank you. I guess?”

“You're welcome”, Baekho laughed looking at something behind Seungkwan, “Joshua is here.”

“Moon Junhui! Happy birthday, bro!”, Joshua said hugging his friend.

“It looks like he brought his boyfriend”, S.Coups said pointing to the man next to Joshua.

“What?!”, Seungkwan asked at the same time as Woozi.

The two looked at the man wearing a cap and mask holding Joshua's hand, and even though only his eyes were showing, they both managed to recognize him because of his long hair.

“Hoonie”, S.Coups called it amused, holding the shorter man's shoulders, “Take it easy.”

“Easy?”, Woozi asked, widening his eyes, “Cheol, my favorite actor is only a few steps away from me!”

“Oh okay... Yoon Jeonghan is here”, Seungkwan said to himself shaking his legs nervously, “Stay cool, Seungkwan. Don't act like an idiot”, Seungkwan turned his head when he heard a small laugh coming from Baekho, “What?”

“Nothing!”, Baekho choked back his laughter crossing his arms, “Please continue.”

“Ah seriously!”, Seungkwan tapped the elder on the shoulder.

“And here are your two biggest fans, Hannie,” Joshua said pulling Jeonghan closer, “That's Jihoon and Seungkwan.”

“Jisoo told me a lot about you two!”, Jeonghan took off his mask revealing the beautiful smile he had, “It is very good to finally meet you.”

“Believe me, the pleasure is all mine”, Seungkwan smiled and looked at Joshua, “You really keep your promises, hyung.”

“I said I would do a private fan sign”, Joshua blinked.

“I think our food is ready”, Baekho said getting up, “Who's coming with me?”

“I will”, S.Coups said tapping Woozi on the shoulder who was still silent, “It's okay babe, you can say 'hello'. Jisoo, come with us.”

“Which of you two can tell jokes?”, Jeonghan asked sitting between them, “Jisoo told me that one of you is very funny.”

Joshua smiled at that and pulled Hoshi to help bring all the food to the table. He knew that Jeonghan was extremely sociable, so in a few minutes his two friends would be laughing and talking to him as if they had known him for some time.

During all this, another person also entered the restaurant with his hands in his pocket and looking around trying to find some familiar face. It didn't take long to find his friends' table a little more talkative than the rest, so Vernon didn't even hesitate to walk over to where they were and touch Jun's shoulder, who looked back in surprise.

“Vernon?!”, Jun got up in surprise, receiving a small smile from the youngest, “You really came!”

“Happy birthday, man”, Vernon patted the eldest on the arm in a greeting. He took a small package out of his pocket and handed it to Jun, “I bought this for you.”

“Oh! Thanks, but there was no need to bring anything”, Jun laughed, still surprised, picking up the package, “What is it?”

“A tie.”

“Vernon, I don't wear ties”, Jun said in an amused tone and The8 laughed behind him.

“Good! Now you have your first one!”, Vernon joked as the older man unwrapped the black tie.

“It’s very beautiful. Thank you!”

“You're welcome”, Vernon looked behind the older man and could see Seungkwan and Woozi talking animatedly to another boy that he couldn't identify.

“Hey, go sit down and have a drink! The guys are already bringing our food”, Jun clapped the youngest on the back, pushing him to sit on the big leather sofa.

“Hey man”, Vernon waved to The8, touching Seungkwan's shoulder who had not yet noticed his presence, “Can I sit here?”

“Yeah sure- Vernon!”, Seungkwan smiled as he looked back and saw the American with an amused smile for him, “You really came!”

“I said I was going to think about it”, Vernon sat down and waved to Woozi, “You said it would be fun, so I decided to believe you.”

“Good!”, Seungkwan was still smiling, “I'm glad you came.”

“So, in that case I'm glad too”, Vernon smiled and Seungkwan felt something strange in his stomach, “Hey, I don't know you.”

“Hello! Yoon Jeonghan!”, Jeonghan held out a hand that was soon squeezed tightly by the youngest.

“Oh, Jisoo's boyfriend”, Vernon raised his eyebrows, “Nice to meet you.”

“From your serious tone of voice, I can say that you are Vernon”, Jeonghan laughed, and Vernon smiled innocently, “Jisoo told me about the maknae with a serious pose.”

“Maknae?!”, Vernon asked in surprise.

“Yes, you are one of our maknaes”, Joshua said as he got close enough, leaving a tray with several plates on the table with Hoshi's help.

“Wait a minute!”, Vernon asked, frowning, “Do you call me maknae for other people?!”

“Yes, I do”, Joshua said taking a seat between Seungkwan and Jeonghan, leaving the seat next to Woozi for S.Coups.

“You're right, Jisoo”, Jeonghan said, smiling at Vernon, “He's cute.”

“Cute?!”, Vernon asked indignantly, and Seungkwan almost spit the beer he was drinking, “Hong Jisoo, what the fuck?!”

“Our little maknae looks so small when he gets mad!”, S.Coups said with amusement coming to the table.

“Look at his cute and confused face!”, Baekho joined in the joke and Vernon was lost between the different eyes that stared at him.

“Don’t try to deny it, Vernonie”, Hoshi said and Seungkwan bit his lip to keep from laughing when he saw the American's look go from confused too angry.

“Don't be like this!”, Joshua laughed opening two bottles of beer, “Seungkwan keeps you company as the maknae line.”

“He's turning red, is this normal?”, Jeonghan asked worriedly and Woozi laughed.

Vernon looked at each one and snorted angry before picking up a bottle of beer and opening with some force. That took some laughs from the others, but the joke stopped there. After all, it was already a big profit to have Vernon with them somewhere other than work.

“Hey, don't be mad”, Seungkwan said approaching the American, “They're just kidding.”

“That's why I never go out with them”, Vernon replied gruffly.

“Ah stop it!”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “You take things too seriously, that’s why they play with you. They even stopped, so you don't have to be this grouchy.”

“Seungkwan”, Vernon called looking at the older man who was starting to serve himself, “I'm not cute.”

“Ah! Yes, you are!”, Seungkwan laughed looking at the American and touching his cheek, “Look at those cheeks!”

“I'm going to break your finger”, Vernon replied seriously, even though he was feeling the same strange feeling as the day before the gym, “And I'm serious.”

“No, you’re not”, Seungkwan squeezed Vernon's ear affectionately and went back to serving himself, “Now undo that face and eat it, because this looks very good.”

Vernon kept looking at Seungkwan for a few more seconds before he started serving himself. It was the first time Seungkwan touched him that way, and he couldn't tell what he felt, but he knew he didn't feel angry as he probably would have felt if it had been any other guy on the team.

Shaking his head, Vernon decided to get involved in one of the conversations that the noisy table was having, and hearing Hoshi tell one more of his stories in high school made him distract a little from the thoughts he was having.

The food was good just like the atmosphere, and he thanked Jun internally for choosing that place. Jun the one who was happy trying to pay attention to everyone as a good host, still wearing the crown on his head and the tie that Vernon had given him.

“Do you like spicy food?”, Seungkwan asked attracting Vernon's attention again.

“A little. Why?”

“Try that one”, Seungkwan nodded, and Vernon looked confused at the table.

“Which one?”

“This one”, Seungkwan took a little bit with the chopsticks and held it out to Vernon, who hesitated a little before opening his mouth and eating the piece of food, “What did you think?”

“Very good”, Vernon replied with a smile.

“Hey! I want to try it too!”, Hoshi stretched out opening his mouth, and Vernon watched Seungkwan do the same thing as before and put a piece in Hoshi's mouth, “Hm... That's good! Jun, what is it?”

Suancai Yu”, Jun replied, “I said it was delicious.”

“I'm really surprised”, Vernon said seeing Seungkwan get up and head for the bathroom, “And I don't even eat a lot of spicy food.”

“If Jun could, he would only eat this”, The8 said, receiving an innocent smile from his boyfriend, “Your luck is that I exist.”

Jun smiled as he approached to kiss the boyfriend's cheek. Vernon looked up and saw Mingyu arriving with Wonwoo, both whispering but changing their expressions when they went to greet Jun. He thought that was weird, but he didn't mind too much to ask. Instead, he decided to drink the rest of his beer and get up to go to the bathroom too.

On the other hand, when Seungkwan was leaving the bathroom folding the sleeves of his jeans jacket a little distracted, he ended up not paying attention before bumping into someone else.

“Oh! I'm sorry!”, Seungkwan held the thin body in front of him and realized it was a woman, “Are you okay?”

“Y-yes”, The woman replied with her head down and Seungkwan lowered his head trying to look at the woman's face.

“You-”

“What did you do, you stupid?!”, a masculine voice said and soon a bearded man appeared pulling the woman's arm hard.

“I didn't do anything!”, The woman replied frightened.

“Hey! It was my fault”, Seungkwan said staring at the man, feeling sick in his stomach, “You don't have to talk to her like that.”

“Mind your own business, you shit!”

The man said harshly and pulled the woman out to the ladies' room where he opened the door and practically threw her inside, waiting outside. Seungkwan looked at the man's face again just to confirm his suspicions, and that sent a shiver up his spine.

Shit!, Seungkwan thought.

“Hey”, Vernon said, stopping next to Seungkwan, “Are you okay?”

“Look covertly at the man standing in the door of the ladies' room”, Seungkwan said quietly, turning to face Vernon.

“Right…”, Vernon said looking over Seungkwan's shoulders and taking no more than five seconds to recognize the face, “Son Yejun.”

“Exactly”, Seungkwan pulled Vernon by the jacket to return to the table slowly, “I thought this guy was already in Thailand.”

“I'm glad he's not, so we got one more now”, Vernon said looking over his shoulder, “And he's not alone here.”

“It would be stupid of him”, Seungkwan also looked and found a table further down with three men who appeared to be Yejun's security guards, “We need to warn the boys without arousing suspicion.”

“Sit down”, Vernon said, resting his hand on Seungkwan's back so that he could walk in front of him and sit back in his place, “Jihoon, sit here. I want to show you something.”

“Okay”, Woozi said getting up and sitting between Hoshi and Jun, “What's up?”

“Pretend you're looking at my cell phone”, Vernon said and the four of them were serious, looking at the lit cell phone screen, “Ladies’ bathroom door.”

That was enough for the four of them to lift their heads and look towards the ladies' room. Hoshi closed his eyes and Seungkwan could see a swearword escape his lips, Jun and The8 still had serious expressions and Woozi rubbed his forehead.

“Perfect”, Woozi grunted.

“Is he alone?”, Hoshi asked, opening his eyes again.

“No. Three men at the back table”, Seungkwan replied.

“We have to do something”, Vernon said, putting his cell phone away.

“We have a civilian among us”, The8 said looking at Jeonghan who was talking to Wonwoo and Baekho, “We have to get him out of here first.”

“We have to be careful”, Woozi said, staring at Hoshi, “We are at an advantage, but we are unarmed and with alcohol in our blood.”

“You’re right”, Hoshi ran a hand through his hair, “We have to think of something fast.”

“I need to go to the bathroom, I'll be right back”, Jeonghan said getting up, which made the six men look at him quickly.

Wonwoo!”, Woozi signed, attracting his attention. He pointed at Jeonghan and hissed without making any sound, “Go with him!

“Oh! I... I need it too!”, Wonwoo got up even though confused and went with Jeonghan to the bathroom.

“Babe, you needed to hear this story that-”, S.Coups started smiling, but the same faded when he saw her husband's serious expression, “What happened?”

“Son Yejun and three other very big guys are here”, Woozi said returning to sit next to S.Coups who raised an eyebrow.

“Did they see us?”, S.Coups asked in an imposing leader's voice.

“He ran into me, but he doesn't know who I am”, Seungkwan replied.

“We have to do something to keep him from escaping”, Hoshi said approaching.

“Coups, Jeonghan is here”, Joshua said worriedly, “I have to get him out of here first.”

“You’re right”, S.Coups said in a sigh looking at each other as if he were counting and planning what to do, “We are in a good number, so you can go and take Jeonghan with you. We take care of him and the three guys.”

“He is with the woman who was kidnapped here”, Seungkwan said seeing her leave the bathroom.

“Then let's make sure she doesn't get any scratches”, Baekho said facing the leader, “Coups, I think we'd better split up.”

“I was thinking about that too”, S.Coups shook his head and looked at Hoshi, “What do you have in mind?”

“First Joshua is going to get Jeonghan out of here”, Hoshi said staring at the older man who nodded, “Then we need to make him notice one of us and follow us through the restaurant's back door. I can take care of that. I want Baekho, Mingyu, Wonwoo and Woozi here with the three guys. Jun and Seungkwan, the restaurant is next to an alley, so I want you to be in position if anyone tries to escape. Coups, The8, Vernon and I are going to take care of Yejun.”

“I liked it”, S.Coups said looking at the others, “Let's wait for Jeonghan and Wonwoo to come back first, after that Seungkwan and Jun can go outside and take a position.”

“He's coming back”, Joshua said, clearing his throat and making a face in discomfort.

The others went back to feigning lively conversation and a few laughs. Jeonghan was still talking to Wonwoo, but stopped as soon as he saw the grimace on Joshua's face.

“Jisoo, what is it?”, She asked, sitting next to his boyfriend.

“I'm not feeling well”, Joshua replied rubbing his stomach, “I think one of those spicy foods made me sick, Hannie.”

“You can't eat a lot of spicy things”, Jeonghan said, running a hand over Joshua's face, “Do you want to go home?”

“Please”, Joshua said holding his hand, “I feel like I'm going to need to go to the bathroom soon.”

“So, let's go before the worst happens.”

Jeonghan made a point of saying goodbye to everyone and wishing Jun a happy birthday once again. Joshua left the restaurant after his boyfriend, but looking back again, winking at S.Coups as if wishing good luck on that surprise operation.

S.Coups said he would pay for the dinner as a birthday present, even though Jun insisted he didn't need it. The Chinese gave up when he realized it would do no good, so he went to Seungkwan to go together to the alley next to the restaurant.

“Before you go”, The8 said holding Seungkwan's arm and placing a black pen in his hand, “Take this with you.”

“What does this do?”, Seungkwan asked curiously, squeezing the pen cap and almost throwing it away when he felt a shock on his fingers, “Outch!

“Well, it’s a shock pen”, The8 said laughing, “Take it with you just to have something on hand. Jun has an equal.”

“I'm not even going to ask you why you have this in your pocket”, Seungkwan replied putting the pen in his jacket pocket.

“Come on Seungkwan-ah”, Jun put his arm around the youngest's shoulders, pulling him out in a relaxed way so as not to attract attention.

Still inside the restaurant, Hoshi told S.Coups, The8 and Vernon to go out the back door of the restaurant that led into the alley and wait there. He in turn, positioned himself in front of the table Yejun was on and leaned against the wall, taking his wallet out of the pocket where his badge was and staring at the man a few meters ahead.

It didn't take long for one of the big guys who were with him to notice the intense look Hoshi was giving their table. The man nudged Yejun's arm and pointed to Hoshi, who was still twirling the badge in his hand. Yejun frowned and settled himself in the seat, making sure to show the gun he had on his waist, and Hoshi seeing that looked to his left, which made Yejun follow his gaze and find Baekho and Woozi with arms crossed staring at him, and more behind Wonwoo and Mingyu near the exit also with their eyes fixed on that table.

Yejun looked annoyed at Hoshi, who now had a smug smile. He kept the badge and showed his waist free of any weapon, which made Yejun mockingly look at the agent. Hoshi put a finger to his lips indicating silence and pointed to his right where the back door was. Yejun didn't move, just followed Hoshi's smooth walk in that direction, but when the other four agents who were staring at him started walking towards him, he got up and without saying anything followed the same direction as Hoshi, finding him standing next to the open door.

“Come on man, there are a lot of people in here”, Hoshi said, staring at Yejun, “Let's get everything sorted out there, how about it?”

“I wonder what you guys are doing here”, Yejun said, walking slowly over to where Hoshi was, “And apparently unarmed.”

“Ah, that was just our luck turning in our favor”, Hoshi still had the same amused smile as he stepped back, “A little misfortune of yours, Yejun.”

“You're as pathetic as that leader of yours!”, Yejun said pulling his gun and leaving the restaurant, pointing to Hoshi who was standing in the alley.

“Outch! That one hurt”, S.Coups said, slamming the door shut, startling Yejun.

“Oh! Did you try to set up an ambush?”, Yejun asked pretending to be surprised, “How cute!”

“Did we try?”, Hoshi asked offended, “Coups, he offended me!”

“He offended me first!”, S.Coups said pushing Yejun by the shoulders, making him take a few steps back.

Yejun grunted angrily and pointed the gun at S.Coups, but before he could fire he felt a sharp kick in his hand, sending the gun away. The8 straightened his clothes and Vernon appeared in the darkness holding the gun that had been launched.

“Is it yours?”, Vernon asked, showing the gun.

“It's over Yejun” S.Coups said crossing his arms, “You can't escape and not even the three guys you're with at the restaurant.”

“Three?”, Yejun asked laughing, “You really are more stupid than I thought.”

That said, the restaurant door slammed open again, hitting S.Coups in the back, who fell forward with the impact and knocked The8 down. Two men left the restaurant quickly, one grabbing Hoshi by the neck and the other trying to hit Vernon who was struggling to dodge all the blows. Yejun ran and kicked S.Coups in the face before he managed to get up, but ended backing up a few steps when The8 managed to kick his stomach even on the floor.

“You really are one of the worst leaders that this operation has ever had, S.Coups!”

Yejun spat those words running to hit the leader who was still lying on the ground with his hand on his face, but was stopped again by The8 who got up in one quick movement and applied three well-aimed blows to Yejun's chest, knocking him against the wall.

“Coups, finish him!”, The8 pulled the leader until he was on his feet, “Hoshi needs help.”

“Go there”, S.Coups said, spitting some blood on the floor and staring at Yejun with hatred, “This bastard is mine.”

S.Coups didn't even give Yejun time to pull himself together by the sequence of blows he had suffered, he just grabbed Yejun by the jacket and threw him against the alley wall, hitting his stomach with the knee in addition to the head butt that left him stunned.

Hearing all that noise, Seungkwan got out of his position and ran towards the entrance of the alley, widening his eyes at the chaos he was witnessing. At the bottom near an iron gate The8 helped Hoshi restrain a big guy, S.Coups was in a good fight with Yejun who refused to let his guard down, and Vernon seemed to be having a hard time with a man who had twice its size.

Seungkwan didn't know who he should help first, but seeing one of the big guys throw Vernon with his face against the wall while immobilizing his arm and using the necklace around the American's neck to hang him, he didn't think twice about running to help him.

Using one of the garbage cans, Seungkwan jumped on the big guy's back, grabbing the neck with one hand while the other held the pen The8 had given him. With that surprise, the big guy released Vernon's neck, shaking his body to try to get Seungkwan off his back, but the strong shock he received in his neck made him scream and finally release the American.

“Get the fuck off me!”, The big guy shouted hitting Seungkwan in the rib, making him fell to the floor with a cry of pain.

But putting together the shock and the weight of Seungkwan on his back, he had completely lost his balance. And that was what Vernon needed in order to hit a sequence of blows to the big guy's face and stomach, making him fall to the floor stunned.

“Go to sleep”, Vernon grunted before kicking the man's face hard, knocking him out on the floor.

“That was... a good one”, Seungkwan said with difficulty and Vernon ran to him.

“Are you okay?”, Vernon asked helping Seungkwan to get up.

“Yes. I just lost my breath for a few seconds”, Seungkwan took a deep breath seeing a small bruise on Vernon's cheek, “Your face is bruised.”

“This is nothing new”, Vernon laughed, holding Seungkwan's waist, who still winced in pain.

“Boys!”, S.Coups shouted attracting their attention, “Watch out!”

The two looked down the alley where S.Coups was screaming. They found the leader on the ground and Yejun ran towards the two with his gun pointed. Vernon did not hesitate to grip Seungkwan's waist more tightly and throw himself behind one of the big dumpsters just a second before he heard two shots. He fell on his back and held Seungkwan's body on top of his to prevent him from getting any more hurt.

They watched Yejun run towards the exit of the alley, but before they could do anything Jun appeared with a garbage lid in hand, hitting Yejun in the face who fell unconscious due to the impact.

“That's for ruining my birthday, you bastard!”, Jun said angrily, throwing the lid on the floor.

“Perfect Jun!”, S.Coups shouted happily running to where they were.

“I don't know what your thing is in hitting these guys in the face, but please continue!”, Hoshi said helping The8 to drag the second big guy who was also unconscious.

“It's easier and I don't get my hands dirty”, Jun shrugged, pulling some handcuffs out of his pockets, “I got it from your car, Hoshi.”

Aish! It's finally over”, Seungkwan said quietly, lifting his head and meeting Vernon's face inches from his, “Oh! Sorry about that.”

“It's okay”, Vernon said without letting go of the older man's waist, “Do you need help getting up?”

“I think so.”

Vernon straightened up on the floor and stood up first, helping Seungkwan to get up while still holding him by the waist. That blow to the rib had really been strong, and it was hurting even to walk.

“The three guys are already handcuffed, and the woman is in the first patrol car receiving care”, Baekho said as he approached the group.

Seungkwan raised his head and only then noticed the three patrol cars that were standing in front of the restaurant. The confusion had been so big that he hadn't even noticed the moment they had arrived.

“Kwan-ah!”, Mingyu ran over to where his friend was being held by Vernon, “What happened to you?!”

“He was hit in the ribs”, Vernon said looking at Seungkwan's right foot, “And apparently he twisted his foot when he fell.”

“I can only feel the pain in my ribs”, Seungkwan grunted, putting his arm around Vernon's neck for more support.

“Let's go to the department to take care of the injuries!”, S.Coups said louder for everyone to hear.

Nobody dared to complain about that order. Vernon helped Seungkwan to get in Mingyu's car and went to his. He was not worried about his face or his neck that still hurt, he was more concerned with whether Seungkwan had broken any ribs or even his ankle.

Vernon shook his head and focused on following Mingyu's car, trying to focus only on that surprise operation that had been successful after all.

 

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

12:16 AM.

 

“Use this ointment for a week and everything will be fine”, One of the nurses said, handing the medicine to Vernon.

“Okay. Thanks”, Vernon thanked her, taking his jacket.

On the stretcher next to him, he saw Woozi talking to S.Coups while another nurse took care of the injuries on the leader's face. The fight with Yejun had really been very fierce and aggressive.

Vernon walked through the infirmary to the only stretcher with the curtains closed. Opening it a little he could see Seungkwan without his jacket and shirt, holding an ice bag on his ribs and staring at his right foot that was immobilized on the stretcher.

“Hey, can I come in?”, Vernon asked putting only his head inside the curtains.

“Yeah, of course”, Seungkwan nodded, taking his attention off his foot. He could see a small bandage on the American's cheek, “This time I didn't do your bandage.”

“Yeah... I prefer when you do it”, Vernon replied sincerely, but regretted it the moment he realized how that sounded. Seungkwan was looking at him with a raised eyebrow, and before he could say anything, Vernon changed the subject, “How’s your ribs?”

“They are still sore, but not as bad as they were before”, Seungkwan said taking out the ice pack and showing the stricken region, “It's turning a little purple.”

Vernon looked at the purple circle that was forming in Seungkwan's ribs and made a face, but that was just an excuse for him to run his eyes over the entire exposed chest in the older one, bringing back memories of the previous day in the locker room. Seungkwan was not muscular like Baekho or S.Coups, but he was very well defined and had a body that drew attention.

“Jeongyeon went to get my x-ray. She thinks it was just a blow, but she wants to make sure that no ribs have been broken”, Seungkwan said to attract Vernon's attention to his face again, even though he was feeling his cheeks burning.

“This is good”, Vernon smiled, “What about your foot?”

“Just a dislocation”, Seungkwan looked at his immobilized foot, “I need to wear this sock for seven days and then I'm free.”

“Glad it's nothing more serious”, Vernon shook his head, “You're getting good at fighting.”

“I took a hit and fell like an idiot on the floor, Vernon”, Seungkwan snorted and saw Vernon sitting next to him on the stretcher.

“Technically it was your first real confrontation, and you helped me a lot, so you were pretty good”, Vernon said simply, “If you hadn't shown up, I would have been out of action.”

“You really were taking a beating”, Seungkwan said with a grimace and Vernon laughed.

“That's true. Speaking of which, where did you get that thing?”

“It's a pen, Vernon”, Seungkwan laughed, taking the pen from the jacket next to him, “The8 gave it to me.”

“Why doesn't he give me these cool things?”, Vernon asked looking at the pen and Seungkwan found the little pout that formed on the American's lips extremely adorable.

“Cute”, Seungkwan thought, but realized that he ended up speaking out loud when he saw Vernon staring at him with an arched eyebrow.

“Cute, uh?”, Vernon asked with an amused look.

“Uh? Who said that?”, Seungkwan asked pretending to be misunderstood.

“You said.”

“Me? Are you sure?”

“It's the second time you've said that today, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Second?”

“Yes. At the restaurant I said I wasn't cute, and you said, 'ah! Yes, you are'”, Vernon imitated Seungkwan's voice, which pressed his lips together, “So, what's your defense now?”

“What defense? You’re a cutie!”, Seungkwan answered obvious and ended up laughing when Vernon pushed him by the shoulder, “Outch!

“Sorry”, Vernon laughed, placing his hand over Seungkwan's in the ice bag, “You are ridiculous.”

“I know that”, Seungkwan looked at Vernon's hand over his, “Vernon-ah?”

“Yes?”, Vernon asked in a low tone, looking directly into the older man's dark brown eyes.

“What are you doing?”, Seungkwan also asked in a low tone due to the proximity of the two.

“I don’t know.”

Both continued to face each other without saying anything, just trying to understand what that meant. Neither of them knew what it was, but they didn't want to go away. Seungkwan swallowed when he saw Vernon's eyes fall to his lips, and he was sure the American would do something if the curtains had not been opened to frighten them both.

“Okay Seungkwan”, Jeongyeon said looking at the x-ray sheets in her hands, “No broken ribs, which is great.”

“Yes, great”, Seungkwan repeated, clearing his throat embarrassed.

“I... I have to go”, Vernon said standing up with his jacket in hand, “See you on Monday, Seungkwan-ah. Good night, Jeong.”

“Good night, Vernon”, Jeongyeon said nicely and looked back at Seungkwan who was following the American with his eyes, “Are you still in pain, Seungkwan?”

“Just a little”, Seungkwan turned his attention to the nurse, “The medicine you gave me helped a lot.”

“I will give you a painkiller and an ointment for strokes. You can use it on your ankle too if you are in pain.”

“Okay, I got it.”

“I'm going to protect your ribs just so you can spend the night without too much pain and then you're free.”

Seungkwan straightened up on the stretcher and returned the bag of ice. Jeongyeon passed the ointment all over the purplish region and made a firm protection with the band. Mingyu arrived and waited patiently for the nurse to finish the work on his friend's ribs and ankle, smiling every time he made a face of discomfort.

When Jeongyeon finished what she was doing she let Seungkwan dress again, while taking the pills and ointment. The two agents said goodbye to Jeongyeon and left the infirmary, waving to Woozi, S.Coups and Hoshi who continued to talk.

Mingyu helped Seungkwan into the car as soon as they reached the parking lot, starting right away and leaving the large building. The streets were practically deserted due to the time, so the ride to Incheon would be faster than usual.

Mingyu could hear Seungkwan's heavy breathing at his side, he looked quickly and saw that his friend had his eyes closed, probably by the aching ribs. He felt sorry, but he didn't have much to do.

“It's hurting a lot?”

“Sometimes I feel a little twinge, but it's okay”, Seungkwan opened his eyes and looked at the friend who had his eyes on the road, “Gyu, what problem did you have today before picking me up?”

“This is something I need to talk to Coups on Monday”, Mingyu sighed, “I was with Wonwoo and was ready to pick you up, but I noticed a strange car following me.”

“Following you?”, Seungkwan asked confused, “Couldn't you see who it was?”

“No, the windows were dark”, Mingyu shook his head, “Wonwoo tried to get some reference from the car and managed to take a picture of the crumpled license plate. I kept going around for almost an hour until the car stopped following me and then we went to the restaurant.”

“This is very weird”, Seungkwan frowned, “You were being followed, and Yejun was in the restaurant with several men as if he was waiting for us.”

“I thought it was weird too”, Mingyu looked at Seungkwan, “On Monday Wonwoo will try to translate that license plate and look for the car.”

“Do you think it has anything to do with Khalan?”

“I hope so, because I don't want a new case right now”, Mingyu sighed tiredly and opened a small smile for his friend, “Hoshi told me that you and Vernon worked very well together today to knock out one of those idiots. Congratulations!”

“Yeah... That's right”, Seungkwan forced a smile, feeling that familiar feeling in his stomach at the mention of the American, “He needed help, so I didn't think twice about running there.”

“This is really cool”, Mingyu smiled happily, “I know I already said that, but I'm very happy and proud to have you on the same team as me.”

“You never said that, you idiot!”, Seungkwan tapped his friend on the arm, listening to the laugh he knew very well.

“Well, I'm saying it now, then!”

“I'm happy too”, Seungkwan laughed, but stopped when he felt another sting in his ribs, “Don't make me laugh, Mingyu!”

“Okay, sorry!”, Mingyu said looking at his friend, “Are you sure you don't want to stay in my apartment today?”

“Yes, I want to sleep in my bed with no one kicking me.”

“I don't kick!”

“Why did you bother? I didn't say your name”, Seungkwan said with an amused smile and saw Mingyu roll his eyes.

“Idiot.”

Seungkwan smiled and leaned his head against the car seat and closed his eyes. The rest of the ride was quiet and peaceful, and when Mingyu left Seungkwan at his house he entered calmly to not make any noise since his brothers were sleeping, and also because he could not walk too fast because of his ankle.

He was already thinking about the excuse he would have to come up with to explain his ankle, and would make a great effort not to show the bruised rib. He brushed his teeth and changed the clothes slowly, turning off the bedroom lights and making himself comfortable on the bed so he could keep his ribs from hurting, in addition to the extra pillow to support his still swollen ankle.

Seungkwan closed his eyes and blew out a long and tired breath due to the restless night he had. He was waiting for sleep to appear when the sound of his cell phone vibrating next to the pillow made him open his eyes. He took out his cell phone and saw the message notifications, and was surprised when he saw Vernon's name on the screen.

Vernon: hey! I hope you got home well...

Vernon: I just wanted to tell you to put a pillow next to your bruised ribs, so you won't feel any pain if you end up turning around during the night.

Vernon: ah, and it's Vernon btw.

Seungkwan ended up laughing at the last message. He settles on the bed and prepared to answer the American.

Seungkwan: Vernon-ah, I have your number saved hahaha.

Seungkwan: and yes, I got home well.

The answer came in the same second.

Vernon: oh... it's true hahaha my bad.

Seungkwan: it’s okay.

Seungkwan: I will use your tip, thanks.

Vernon: good night, Seungkwan-ah

Seungkwan: good night ...

Seungkwan: ... Vernonie :)

Vernon: I'm blocking you.

Seungkwan: hahaha go to sleep, cutie.

Vernon: -.-

Seungkwan blocked the cell phone screen and took one of the several pillows he had on the bed to place along the right side where the injured rib was. He still smiled at that little conversation because he found Vernon's reaction funny whenever he called him 'Vernonie', and for that reason it was one of the things he most liked to do.

He closed his eyes feeling the tiredness had begun to overcome him. And the last thing that popped into his mind before he completely fell asleep, was Vernon's face so close to his in the infirmary.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Monday.

Seoul, South Korea.

7:30 A.M.

 

Seungkwan walked down the department aisle more slowly than he would’ve liked, but it was necessary because of the sock that prevented his ankle from making very sudden movements. He had a cup of coffee in one hand and his notebook in the other since he would have a meeting with Lisa in the first hour of the morning.

“Good morning!”, Seungkwan said to some people passing by him.

“Seungkwan-ah! Come here!”, Wonwoo called out as he entered the meeting room on the second floor.

“What is it, Wonwoo hyung?”, Seungkwan asked sitting next to the older man who was looking at the laptop in front of him.

“What do these look like?”, Wonwoo pointed to the screen and Seungkwan could see a photo of what should have been the license plate of the car that was following them on Saturday, “I'm between a 'P' or a 'F'.

“Hm... Let me see”, Seungkwan adjusted his glasses and approached the screen to get a better look, “It’s a 'F' for sure.”

“Okay, let's look for that then”, Wonwoo said opening the system window and typing in the full license plate of the car, “Let's wait for the search now. How's your ankle?”

“It still hurts a little, but it’s not swollen anymore.”

“That's nice. Next week it will be recovered”, Wonwoo smiled, “Why did you get here so early? I thought you were going to stay with the guys at the cafeteria for a little longer.”

“I'm not in a good condition to be walking between floors”, Seungkwan said, drinking some of the coffee he had bought, “And you were alone here, so I came to keep you company.”

“Oh how cute!”, Wonwoo squeezed Seungkwan's cheek, which he dodged with a grimace.

“We have a lot of cute people on the team lately.”

Seungkwan swallowed the coffee he had in his mouth as soon as he heard that tone of voice that has been making itself very present in his life lately.

Vernon came into the room with his hands in his pocket, the sleeves of his dark shirt were folded, and his hair was perfectly done. Even Wonwoo found the youngest boy's amused smile weird, but decided to just watch when he sat down next to Seungkwan who was biting the straw in the coup.

“Good morning”, Vernon smiled as he settled into the chair.

“Morning”, Seungkwan replied, still biting the straw. He felt strangely nervous at that moment.

“How's your rib?”, Vernon asked taking out his cell phone, just to keep from staring at the youngest like a maniac.

“It's better”, Seungkwan left the coup on the table, “Your tip made me sleep very well.”

“Own experience”, Vernon blinked, turning his attention back to his cell phone.

Seungkwan bit the corner of his lip and turned to Wonwoo, returning to the subject of searching for the license plate. Vernon occasionally looked to the side, not to hear the conversation, but to be able to observe the side profile of Seungkwan’s face, who pretended not to notice the looks he was receiving.

Vernon had no idea what it was, but Seungkwan looked more attractive than ever in his eyes. The way he sometimes shook his head to get the strands of brown hair out of his eyes. The way he adjusted his glasses when he was concentrating. The way the pen rotated between his fingers. And most importantly, the way he always pouted when he spoke or was reading something.

He wanted to understand what Seungkwan had done to attract his attention so much, but that would have to be postponed as the rest of the team started to enter the meeting room.

“Good morning, boys!”, S.Coups said smiling when he entered the room. Woozi, Hoshi and Sangwoo right behind him.

“Good morning!”, They all responded together as they took their seats.

“We have some issues to discuss today, but first let's talk to Lisa who is already waiting for us”, S.Coups sat in his chair at the end of the table. It was possible to see a small cut on his lip and another on his left eyebrow due to the fight with Yejun.

“I'm going to call her”, Woozi said opening his laptop and turning on the big television on the living room wall. Within seconds everyone could see Lisa's smiling face.

Good morning, my favorite boys!”, Lisa nodded, and everyone smiled back. It was hard to find someone who didn't like the Thai woman.

“Good morning Lisa!”

I hope you have news as good as I have.

“We have some”, Hoshi smiled happily, “On Saturday we were lucky to run into Son Yejun at a restaurant.”

That's lucky”, Lisa chuckled, “Was he with the woman who was given to him?

“Yes, and she was rescued unharmed”, Woozi said, and Lisa smiled happily.

“We had a good fight, but we managed to arrest him”, Hoshi concluded with satisfaction.

That's great!” Lisa smiled, straightening her glasses, “One less on our list.

“That's our good news Lisa”, S.Coups said leaning his hands on the table, “Now it's up to you.”

First I want to know, who has never been here in Bangkok?”, Lisa asked. Even confused, Seungkwan, Vernon, Joshua and Wonwoo raised their hands, “So this is your chance.

“What do you mean?” Seungkwan asked.

Let's just say that, after a lot of effort, I ended up finding one of these invitations”, Lisa held up the paper in her hand, “It's going to be a private party next week. And you're not going to believe who will be hosting this party.

“Khalan,” S.Coups said seriously.

Himself”, Lisa set the invitation aside and took another paper, “The bastard arrived in Bangkok a few days ago and is in a mansion in the south. This party will take place on Koh Samet Island, which surprised me because the most famous beaches are right where he is.

“Maybe he didn't want to draw too much attention”, Wonwoo suggested.

Could it be”, Lisa dropped the paper, “What matters is that Khalan, ChungHee and Lee Doyun will be there, so we will be too.

“Do you want us all in Bangkok?” Woozi asked.

Of course! It's going to be a big operation, so I need backup”, Lisa smiled, “And I miss you guys.

“No sentimentality at this time of the morning, please”, The8 chuckled.

I'm serious. I even have a place for all of you on this island”, Lisa crossed her arms, “Consider it a gift.

“All right”, S.Coups had an amused look on his face, “Let's all check our passports and schedule to travel.”

I knew you wouldn't deny it”, Lisa chuckled happily, “I sent you a copy of this invitation with the information I have. Just send me the flight schedule when you decide.

“Yes ma'am.”

Oh I like that!”, Lisa pointed at the leader who smiled, “See you guys!

“See you later, Lisa!”, Everyone nodded, and the Thai woman's image disappeared.

“Lisa managed to find out where they are and will still take us to Thailand?”, Hoshi said excitedly, “I love this woman!”

“One way or another it will be fun!”, Baekho said with an excited smile.

“Yes, but we have to be careful anyway”, S.Coups said cautiously, “Hoshi, I want you to meet with your team to set up the best possible operation, ok?”

“Yes, sir!”

“Woozi, I want you and your team to work on the equipment we're going to need.”

“Got it.”

“Now let's get back to another topic”, S.Coups said turning to Sangwoo. The one who remained silent throughout the meeting, “Sangwoo, how was your lunch with the Fuchu representative?”

“Boring”, Sangwoo replied sincerely. Vernon pressed his lips together to keep from laughing and saw Jun do the same thing across the table, “But I got some important stuff.”

“Like what?”

“The first one is that they still don't know who it was that helped Khalan escape”, Sangwoo said taking a notepad out of his suit, “They know it was an insider, but they don't know if it was a guard, an agent or a visitor.”

“Have they been interrogated about this with the prison guards?”

“Yes, and none of them have shown suspicion so far”, Sangwoo replied simply. Seungkwan noted that he had a calm and friendly tone of voice, different from the usual one since Baekho had returned, “He said the atmosphere is so tense in Fuchu that one of the prison director had to be removed because of a possible heart attack.”

“Understandable”, Mingyu shook his head, “After all, one of Asia's most dangerous thugs has escaped from one of the best and most respected maximum security prisons.”

“I'm surprised no one has quit yet”, Joshua commented twirling a pen between his fingers.

“But that will happen soon”, Sangwoo faced the American and then the leader, “From the tone of voice of the representative I already know that he shouldn't last another two weeks in the job.”

“Do you think he lied about something?”

“Honestly? I don’t think so”, Sangwoo looked at his notes, “He just seemed like someone tired of everything and wants to get rid of what he knows as quickly as possible.”

“Let's keep in touch with him for a few more days”, S.Coups asked, “I want to know who helped this bastard get out of jail.”

“Leave it to me”, Sangwoo smiled putting away his notepad, “I'll find out who did it.”

“Work with Mingyu and Wonwoo on this”, S.Coups asked looking at the two agents who nodded, “Great. Any more things to discuss?”

“We have one”, Wonwoo said looking at Mingyu, “On Saturday we were followed for almost an hour when we were going to Itaewon.”

“I kept driving around to lose him, but it took a while.”

“Did you get any information on the car, or did you recognize who was driving?” Woozi asked.

“We couldn't see anyone, but I got the license plate”, Wonwoo said, holding up the laptop, “I'm looking through the transit system to try track it down.”

“Please keep monitoring and let us know as soon as the result comes up”, S.Coups asked, “And all of you, keep an eye open for anything suspicious around now. We're dealing with Khalan again, and for sure he already knows about ChungHo, so we must be careful. I don't want another agent being kidnapped, understood?”

“Yes, sir!”, Everyone in the room responded in a firm tone.

Seungkwan felt a shiver down his spine at the thought of someone, or even him, being kidnapped by Khalan.

“Okay boys. You are excused for your activities”, S.Coups said getting up and so the others followed him.

Seungkwan stood up and saw Vernon smile at him before pulling away and walking beside Joshua. He felt Wonwoo's hand on his shoulder and went back to talking to him about looking for the license plate. Walking beside him, Mingyu was staring at him from the corner of his eye, and that left him confused as to why he was getting that suspicious look from his friend.

But this was no time to think about it. He had a passport to look for and one more lie to make up for his brothers.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

9:54 P.M.

 

The apartment door closed and in less than a second The8 felt his back hit the icy wood. He closed his eyes and let out a groan of satisfaction when he felt Jun's warm lips on his neck, kissing all the way to the ear where he bit the earlobe with the tips of his teeth.

“You changed the perfume”, Jun said against The8's ear, moving his hands inside the shirt he was wearing. The8 felt a shiver at the older man's low, husky voice in his ear.

“You already said that”, The8 replied quietly, squeezing the back of Jun's head, “Twice.”

“I liked it”, Jun lifted his head to face the younger man. A smirk on his lips, “It makes you sexy.”

“Jun, babe”, The8 wrapped both arms around the eldest's neck, threading his fingers through his brown hair, “It's just a perfume. What's the difference?”

“It's a new perfume on you”, Jun emphasized, biting his boyfriend's lip, “That's the difference.”

The8 didn’t answer since the kiss Jun had initiated was so intense and hot that he couldn't think of anything else but to reciprocate. If there was one thing he loved about Jun, it was the amount of feeling he could convey with just one kiss. He could always decipher what his boyfriend wanted with just a flick of his lips.

Jun pulled the youngest by the waist and walked out of the apartment, bumping into the armchair and throwing himself on the couch. The8 didn't even hesitate to sit on his boyfriend's lap, taking off the suit he was still wearing and going back to kissing the lips he desired so much at the time. The body temperature was so high, that it didn't take Jun long to unbutton the shirt The8 was wearing, returning kisses down his neck and chest. The8 had his eyes closed just enjoying that moment, and when Jun bit one of his nipples he ended up letting out another moan, feeling a tightness in his pants.

The two were so involved at that moment that neither of them heard Jun's cell phone ring, but when the older man's hands began to unbutton his pants, The8 heard the ringtone. He looked to the side and saw the light from Jun's cell phone screen through his suit.

“Junnie…”, The8 said with difficulty, “Your phone is ringing.”

“Not now, Hao...”, Jun said against his boyfriend's neck.

“It might be important”, The8 said holding Jun's face and cracking a smile, “Just see who it is and then you can go back to taking my pants off.”

“It's a good idea”, Jun smiled and The8 kissed his lips quickly.

“See who it is”, The8 asked moving in Jun's lap, distributing kisses down his neck.

Jun sighed and reached out, taking the cell phone from his suit pocket. He unlocked the screen and saw that he had a missed call and some messages, and the name it showed on the screen surprised him.

“Who is it?”, The8 asked starting to unbutton the older man's shirt.

“It's Yanan.”

Hearing that name The8 stopped everything he was doing and opened his eyes. Yanan was Jun's best friend who lived in China, but he didn't expect to hear his name again anytime soon.

At least not after what happened.

“Oh...”, The8 raised his head, “What does he want?”

“He said he's arriving tomorrow”, Jun said reading the message. The8 could see a smile spread across his boyfriend's lips, “He asked me to pick him up at the airport.”

“Cool”, The8 said and saw Jun's smile fade. The older one stared at him intently and he arched an eyebrow, “What?”

“What is it now?”

“What do you mean?”

“Since the last time Yanan came to spend a few days here, you make that face when I mention his name.”

“What face?” The8 asked and Jun rolled his eyes, “I'm just surprised, okay?”

“It's not what it looks like.”

“Jun, he just texted at ten pm saying he's coming tomorrow for a few days”, The8 explained pointing to his cell phone, “I wasn't expecting this.”

“I know that's not the problem, Minghao”, Jun said putting his cell phone aside, “Why don't you tell me right away what happened between you two months ago?”

“Again this story, Jun?”, The8 asked getting off his boyfriend's lap and throwing himself on his side on the couch.

“I'll keep talking about this until you be honest with me!”, Jun said seriously taking off his shoes. The mood from before had quickly dissipated.

“Nothing happened! I already told you that”, The8 said without meeting Jun's eyes. He didn't like that subject.

“Look at me”, Jun pleaded and was ignored, which made him snort, “Minghao, look at me!”

“Stop calling me that, Junhui!”, The8 said irritated, turning his face to face his boyfriend who wasn't too different, “You know I don't like it when you call me that.”

“And I don't like it when you hide things from me!”

“I don't hide things from you!”

“You’re hiding right now!”, Jun chuckled humorlessly, “I just want to know what happened! Is it that hard to tell me?”

The8 continued to stare into his boyfriend's angry eyes and sighed. He didn't like to remember what had happened months ago on Yanan's last visit, because it stirred feelings in him that he swore he would never feel again. Just remembering Yanan's harsh words about his relationship with Jun made his chest ache.

Yanan was Jun's best friend for a long time. He couldn't ruin this even if it hurt him.

“Nothing happened”, The8 replied simply. Jun continued to stare at him, and stood up when he realized his boyfriend wouldn't say more than that.

“Great then”, Jun grabbed his suit and shoes and glared at his boyfriend before leaving the room, “So please don't make that face when he arrives, because he's still my best friend.”

“As you wish”, The8 shrugged and saw Jun stomping into the bedroom at the end of the hall. When he heard the sound of the door closing he let out the irritated grunt he was holding back and punched the couch seat, “Shit!”

Things with Jun were better than ever, and the last thing he needed was a troublemaker.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

5:12 PM.

 

The8 stared at the clock on the computer, counting the seconds and thinking about how a minute could take so long when he most wanted it to pass. He could hear beside him Wonwoo typing in his frantic way, and Seungkwan giggling at his desk while looking at his cell phone.

Was he angry? Of course he was, but he couldn't take his irritation out of the two who were just minding their own business and didn't even know what had happened the night before. But the sound of the keyboards and the giggles was actually making him more uncomfortable than he already was.

“What are you laughing about so much, Seungkwan-ah?”, Wonwoo asked still typing.

“Look at this video”, Seungkwan dragged his chair to stand beside Wonwoo, showing the video he was watching and then laughing again with the older one, “It's very good, isn't it?”

“The kitten is cute”, Wonwoo said taking off his glasses, “Who sent you this video?”

“Vernon sent me”, Seungkwan replied, seeing the older man's confused look, “He likes cats and sometimes sends me these videos.”

“I didn't know he liked cats”, Wonwoo commented as he cleaned his glasses, “If I knew I would’ve already sent him some videos. Did you know that, The8?”

“No”, The8 replied dryly, still looking at the monitor.

“Oh-oh... Someone's not in a good mood yet”, Wonwoo joked putting his glasses back on.

“Did something happen, The8?”, Seungkwan asked leaving his cell phone on the table.

“No big deal”, The8 replied, letting out a tired sigh, “Just a stupid fight with Jun.”

“That's why he was serious today”, Wonwoo mused, “I thought it was because of the job Hoshi gave them.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“No need”, The8 sat back in his chair, “It was too stupid to last more than a day.”

“Alright then”, Seungkwan said getting up, opening an excited smile, “Well, I have to go because today is an important day!”

“What do you have today?”, Wonwoo asked curiously.

“Today is the first day of Chan's treatment”, Seungkwan responded happily while collecting his things, “I'll meet him at the clinic with our older brother.”

“Oh yeah! You commented at lunch”, Wonwoo said with a smile, “I'm happy for him.”

“He's nervous”, Seungkwan chuckled, “Almost two years without being able to walk so it's understandable.”

“It'll be all right and soon he'll be walking again”, Wonwoo said simply, but Seungkwan could feel the certainty in his tone, “I want to meet him one day. Mingyu has told me a lot about your brothers.”

“You'll like them. Seokmin is an idiot, but he's hilarious”, Seungkwan said putting his backpack on his back, “And Chan... Well, he's cute.”

“It's funny to hear you describe your brothers in the exactly way Mingyu told me you would”, Wonwoo said amusedly.

“Mingyu is another idiot,” Seungkwan concluded, making the eldest laugh, “Well, I need to go. See you tomorrow!”

“See you tomorrow Seungkwan-ah”, Wonwoo waved still laughing and The8 did the same, “Are you sure you don't want to talk about what happened?”

“Yes, I am.”

“Just tell me the reason for the argument.”

“Yanan”, The8 replied facing the older man and saw him press his lips together, “Yeah.”

“Okay…”, Wonwoo said turning his chair to the front of the computer again, “I won't question it again.”

“Thanks.”

“Wonu-yah!”, Mingyu's voice was present and soon he was walking through the door with a content smile, “Are you ready?”

“Oh yeah! Let's go”, Wonwoo locked the computer and got up to gather his things.

“Where are you going?”

“We’re going to the movies”, Mingyu replied simply, “Are you working late today?”

“No. I'm actually just waiting for Jun to show up”, The8 replied and Mingyu stared at Wonwoo in confusion.

“But... Jun has already left”, Mingyu replied and Wonwoo pressed his lips together again when he saw the look on his friend's face.

“What do you mean he already left?”, The8 asked and Mingyu was afraid of his friend's tone.

“He said he needed to pick someone up at the airport and left early!”, Mingyu said holding up his hands, “That's all I know!”

“He didn't tell you?”, Wonwoo asked putting his hands in his pocket and The8 let out a humorless laugh.

“Of course not”, The8 got up and angrily gathered up his things, which left both agents worried, “But that's okay.”

“Clearly it’s not”, Mingyu said worriedly, “Want us to take you home? We'll pass nearby anyway.”

“No need”, The8 put on his coat and grabbed his bag, “I don't want to mess up your date.”

“It's not a date!”, Wonwoo said quickly.

“Okay, I'll pretend I believe it”, The8 took out his cell phone and stared at the two who had embarrassed looks, “See you tomorrow.”

The Chinese left with heavy, hurried steps, not listening to their response to people who looked at each other worriedly before leaving the room and following the path to the parking lot.

“It's not a date, isn’t it?”, Wonwoo asked embarrassed.

“Of course not”, Mingyu let out a nervous laugh, “It's just an outing between friends.”

“Exactly.”

They both faced each other and continued down the path to the parking lot, bringing up a new subject to break the uncomfortable mood that had set in.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Incheon, South Korea.

7:39 PM.

 

Seokmin collected his things as quickly as he could and walked out the restaurant staff door. He huffed in irritation when he felt the cold air from the street, but at least that would serve to try to calm him down a little.

He was angry about the bad day he had had. First, he missed the first appointment at the clinic where Chan would start his treatment on because of the shift, and on top of that he had to put up with the idiotic teasing of his supposed co-worker.

Thinking about it made him roll his eyes and shake his head. He'd been stressed out for some time now, and nothing seemed to help lately. At the moment he just wanted to go home and somehow entertain himself with his brothers.

But that really wasn't his day.

Aish!”, Seokmin grunted as he bumped into someone else, “Fuck!”

“Oh! I'm sorry!”, Hoshi said widening his eyes and opening his wide smile when he saw who it was, “Hey! Seokmin, right?”

“Yes”, Seokmin replied, adjusting the strap of his bag over his shoulder, “Sorry about the bump.”

Yah don't worry”, Hoshi waved his hand carelessly, “What are you doing here? I heard Seungkwan saying he would meet you and Chan at the clinic.”

“Yeah... I had some problems at work and couldn't go”, Seokmin replied simply. He really didn't want to talk, but he also didn't want to be rude.

“Oh yeah. Do you work around here?”, Hoshi asked and saw Seokmin pointing to the restaurant behind him, “Oh! No way! Really?”

“Why the surprise?”

“It's my favorite restaurant!”, Hoshi replied excitedly, “At least once a week I come to eat here.”

“Well, I'm glad you like the food”, Seokmin pressed his lips together in a small smile, “Sorry, but I have to go.”

“Want a ride?”, Hoshi asked sympathetically, “I live close by anyway.”

“No need. I don't want to disturb your night.”

“Disturb what?”, Hoshi asked confused, “I was just taking a walk before I got back home, so it won't disturb me at all.”

“Yes but-”

“No buts”, Hoshi smiled in amusement, “You look tired and it's getting colder. Come on, it'll save you time and taxi money.”

“Okay”, Seokmin sighed tiredly, “Okay fine.”

Hoshi smiled and shook his head for Seokmin to follow him to the other side of the street where his car was. Seokmin got into the passenger seat and ran a hand over his face and hair. He was really stressed out and was praying that Hoshi wasn't as talkative as he appeared.

Too bad he didn't know him well enough yet to know he was just the opposite.

“Okay, let's go!”, Hoshi started the car and Seokmin looked at him from the corner of his eyes, trying to understand how he managed to smile so much, “If you want to turn on the radio, feel free to do it.”

“I'm fine, thanks.”

“Seungkwan is just like you”, Hoshi chuckled, “Always very polite.”

“Yeah, we're brothers”, Seokmin replied obviously and saw Hoshi quickly glare at him.

“Yes, that's what I meant”, Hoshi said simply, “I see you're not in a good mood, so I'll be quiet.”

“No... It's just-”, Seokmin sighed staring at Hoshi, “I’m sorry. I'm being a pain in the ass while you're just being nice to me. It's not your fault that my day was a shit.”

“Do not worry. It's normal to have bad days”, Hoshi said still in a calmer tone of voice, “I'm a little talkative sometimes, so sorry if I invaded your space.”

“No, it's okay”, Seokmin shook his head, “You're nice, Soonyoung.”

“You can call me Hoshi.”

“It's a cool nickname”, Seokmin grinned, “I swear I'm a nice, lively guy, but-”

“I approached you on the wrong day”, Hoshi completed looking at the man beside him, “My bad.”

“If I meet you at the restaurant any day, I promise to be in a better mood.”

“So, I'm going back to the restaurant more than once a week”, Hoshi said with an amused smile.

Seokmin ended up laughing and looked out the car window. Even without making an effort, Hoshi managed to distract him from the stress he had during the day.

On the other hand, Hoshi held back a bit when trying to bring up something too abruptly or too animated. Seungkwan had said that Seokmin was very funny and fun and so he was looking forward to getting to know him better, but so far, he hasn't had much luck on both dates.

But that doesn't mean he couldn't try again.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

8:00 PM.

 

The8 took a lot longer than usual to get back to the apartment he shared with Jun. He was irritated, and knowing that when he got home, he still had to deal with Yanan only made him worse. It was common for him to have some arguments with Jun, but none of them lasted longer than a day, some were even resolved in the same day, but apparently this discussion would last until Yanan decided to return to China.

When the elevator doors opened on the floor where he lived, he tucked his pale suit over his arm and opened the top two buttons on his shirt as he walked down the hall to his apartment door. Before taking the keys out of his pocket he could hear Jun and Yanan's laughter a little muffled, and all the calm he'd collected on the way was gone in a matter of seconds.

Taking a deep breath, he opened the door and walked into the apartment, kicking off his shoes and tucking his bag over his shoulder. The laughter came from the kitchen, so there was no way he could just go to his room without going unnoticed. Slowly he walked to the kitchen entrance and found the two of them talking, but when Jun noticed his boyfriend's presence he stopped laughing and the smile on his face disappeared.

“Hey Hao,” Jun said in a soft tone, which made Yanan turn to face him.

“Minghao!”, Yanan exclaimed, walking over to where The8 was and pulling him into a hug, “How are you, man?”

“I'm fine, thanks”, The8 replied with a small smile, “How was the flight?”

“Tiring, but it was fine”, Yanan smiled as he let go of The8, “I think the worst was the traffic at the exit of the airport, isn't it Junnie?”

“Junnie?”, The8 thought with a grimace. He glared at the older one who had arched eyebrows, probably surprised that his friend had given the nickname only The8 spoke.

“Hm... Yeah! The traffic was horrible”, Jun replied quickly, running his hand over the back of his neck.

“Well, at least you guys are here, and now you can rest well”, The8 said forcing a smile, “I'm hungry, so how about we order something?”

“We've already ordered food actually”, Yanan said, taking a seat in one of the chairs. The8 arched an eyebrow and glared at Jun, who had a guilty look on his face.

“Oh... Okay then”, The8 shook his head disappointed, “I'll prepare something later.”

“Hao, I ordered your favorite!”, Jun said quickly again. The8 knew his boyfriend was nervous because of the way he spoke and the habit of running his hand over the back of his neck.

“That's good”, The8 swung his bag back on his shoulder again, “I need a shower so… I'll be right back.”

“Okay!”, Yanan said still smiling and The8 felt like punching him.

Without another word The8 walked down the hall to the bedroom, slamming the door. In the kitchen Jun closed his eyes when he heard the thud and sighed, as he knew his boyfriend was definitely upset with him.

“Looks like he's not having a good day”, Yanan chuckled staring at his friend, “What happened?”

“We argued yesterday”, Jun replied biting his lip.

“I bet he started the discussion.”

“It doesn't matter”, Jun shook his head and glared at his friend, “I was an idiot today.”

“But you didn't do anything wrong, Jun.”

“I didn't say I was coming to pick you up and we ordered food before he arrived”, Jun snapped walking across the kitchen, “That was childish.”

“In your defense, he took a long time to arrive,” Yanan said with a shrug.

“I'll talk to him.”

“Are you sure? I think maybe he needs a moment alone”, Yanan said getting up.

“He's going to have a moment alone after I talk to him”, Jun said firmly, heading into the bedroom and ignoring his friend's calls.

Jun opened the door slowly and found The8 facing the large bedroom mirror unbuttoning the shirt he was wearing. The8 didn't turn or raise his head to face his boyfriend, so Jun walked completely into the room and closed the door behind him, leaving his back against the door.

“Hao, can we talk?”, Jun asked, seeing The8 stare at him in the mirror, but he said nothing and turned his attention to the buttons on his shirt, “I... I want to apologize for today.”

“Okay.”

“Really”, Jun backed away from the door, “I was an idiot and I want to apologize.”

“You really were an idiot.”

“Hao, please…”, Jun asked tiredly. The8 snorted and turned to where his boyfriend was.

“You could have at least warned me you were leaving early, Jun”, The8 said, and he could hear the hurt in his voice, “I was waiting for you like an idiot and then I find out you were already gone!”

“I asked Sangwoo to let you know!”

“Well, I guess he had more to do than play the owl”, The8 scoffed, “You just had to text me, Jun!”

“I'm sorry!”, Jun asked approaching, “I thought you were still mad at me.”

“I'm still mad by the way.”

“And why did you take so long to arrive?”, Jun asked crossing his arms, “It’s impossible that you stayed at work for so long.”

“I was walking around Jun!”, The8 replied taking off his shirt and throwing it on the bed, “I was mad at you, so I decided to walk a little to distract myself since arriving here I would have another headache.”

“Oh no... Are you going to start this again?”, Jun asked annoyed, “He was nice to you! Why the implication?”

“I don't know, Junnie”, The8 said forcing the nickname, causing Jun to roll his eyes, “Maybe it's because he's just teasing me and you're not even realizing it.”

“I already asked you to tell me what the fuck happened, but you'd rather not be honest with me!”, Jun said with a shrug, “Then maybe I'll keep not seeing any of this happen!”

“Great!”, The8 raised his arms, going to the open bathroom door, “Do whatever you want, Jun. In fact, go laugh with him because I think the food you already ordered must have arrived.”

“I already told you I ordered your favorite!”, Jun said through clenched teeth, but shook his head and stomped to open the bedroom door, “If you want to eat, then come. If you don't, then whatever!”

“Do you want me to thank you?”, The8 asked holding the bathroom doorknob.

“No, Minghao”, Jun shrugged, “Do whatever you want.”

Both closed the doors at the same time with a thud. The8 stared at the closed door and in a fit of rage punched the wood, grumbling angrily because of another argument. He braced his hands on the sink and stared at his reflection in the mirror, his accelerated breathing and his chest heavy. The urge to cry grew in his throat, which was a surprise because he didn't usually cry easily.

Even if involuntarily, memories of Yanan's last visit five months ago right when he and Jun had finished moving into the apartment they lived in today came back. The8 could still feel the weight of the words Yanan had said to him as aggressively as if they had happened yesterday.

 

“That was the last one!”, Jun said dropping the box on the floor and throwing himself on the couch, “I'm tired!”

“What a drama”, The8 said stepping closer to hug his boyfriend's neck from behind, “It was just a few boxes, Junnie.”

“You have a lot of books!”

“I said I could bring them, but you insisted...”, The8 said resting his chin on Jun's shoulder.

“I was being a gentleman!”, Jun grumbled, hearing The8 giggle in his ear, “You laugh because your back doesn't hurt.”

“Who said that?”

“Okay! So, why don't we do it like this”, Jun said turning his head to face his boyfriend, “I'm going to take a shower and you come along, so we can massage each other and ease this pain. What do you think?”

“I think you're trying to play smart”, The8 concluded. Jun smiled innocently.

“Come on, Hao. I know you love taking a shower with me.”

“Disgusting!”, Yanan mumbled entering the apartment with a box in hand. The two started laughing at the grimace on their friend's face, “I'm still here in case you've forgotten.”

“Sorry Yanan”, The8 said letting go of Jun, but still laughing.

“He doesn't care!”, Jun said getting up, “Hao, I'll wait for you in the bathroom.”

“Go ahead and I'll go right away”, The8 smiled and saw his boyfriend go to the bathroom in the bedroom down the hall. He turned to Yanan who was still holding the box and held out his arms, “Is this the last box?”

“Yes”, Yanan handed over the box and closed the door, looking intently at The8, “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure”, The8 nodded, going to leave the box with the others, “What's wrong?”

“When are you going to stop with this?”

“With what?”

“You've been lying for how long? Two years?”, Yanan asked crossing his arms and The8 stared at him confused, “Jun doesn't deserve this.”

“I don't understand”, The8 said still confused, “What am I lying about?”

“You don't love him”, Yanan replied and The8 raised his eyebrows in surprise, “I doubt you even like him. So why don't you do him a big favor and go away?”

“Yanan, what are you talking about?”, The8 asked walking around the room, “Why are you saying these things?”

“Because Jun is my best friend and I know you're not good for him!”, Yanan said annoyed, and that started to annoy The8 too, “He's already called me a few times sad complaining about your rudeness, and I don't want to see this happening again.”

“Wow! Wait a minute!”, The8 asked raising his hands, “That was before we started a relationship! I already apologized to him about it, and we just left it in the past!”

“And who guarantees you won't do it again?”

“I don't have to guarantee you anything, Yanan!”, The8 said seriously walking over to where the other was standing, “What I feel for Jun I have to show only to him, not you.”

“When you realize you're just with him for pity of what happened, you'll realize how stupid you are!”, Yanan practically spat the words out, which made The8 stop where he was and stare at him blankly, “He's going to suffer a lot, and it's going to be all your fault.”

The8 was too surprised to be able to answer anything, and that was Yanan's cue to brush past his shoulder and disappear down the hall.

 

When the first tear ran down his face, The8 snapped back to reality and shook his head, going back to staring at his reflection in the mirror. He knew that was a lie, that he truly loved Jun and wasn't with him out of pity for the kidnapping, but his concern was different.

“What if Jun thinks the same thing?”, The8 thought, “Do I make him suffer?”

And there were those damn bad feelings that only Yanan could bring back to his chest. He needed to work this out, but the big problem was how he was going to do it.

Chapter Text

Saturday.

Seoul, South Korea.

01:15 PM.

 

The calm music flooded The8's ears as his eyes were fixed on the book he was reading. That was being a distracting moment, since lunch with Jun and Yanan was very uncomfortable. The tense atmosphere between the two was obvious, and the fact that The8 felt like punching Yanan every time he called Jun by his nickname just made it worse.

He could feel the mocking looks and the clear teasing Yanan was trying to make, but luckily he was a very emotionally controlled person. But that doesn't mean he's made of steel.

The8 looked at the big glass door in the living room that gave access to the balcony and sighed when he saw the cloudy sky, which indicated that it was going to rain and probably get cold. He was already starting to think about what would be better to do, a little meditation or just sleep and forget who was living under the same roof as him.

But he noticed someone approaching the sofa he was sitting on, and from the perfume he knew he would have another headache.

“What do you want?”, The8 asked without looking up from the book. Yanan snorted and crossed his arms.

“Why do you think I want something?”

“Because you’re committed on pissing me off”, The8 said simply.

“That means I'm getting it then”, Yanan sat down on the couch and crossed his legs, “I just want to ask you a question.”

“I’m busy, thanks.”

“What are you still doing here?”, Yanan asked, completely ignoring what the other said. The8 turned a page of the book and frowned.

“I live here”, The8 smirked, knowing Yanan was rolling his eyes at that answer.

“But until when?”

“And that interests you because...?”

“You really don't realize how bad you are to my friend, do you?”, Yanan asked in an irritated tone.

“I'll remind you of something you might have forgotten”, The8 said calmly closing the book and taking off the headphones, “You don't live here. So you don't fucking know anything about my relationship with Jun, do you understand?”

“And you think we don't talk?”

“Oh, I know you guys talk”, The8 shook his head and smirked again, “But I very much doubt he'd complain about me. We keep ourselves pretty busy when we’re at home, you know?”

“Completely unnecessary”, Yanan grimaced.

“We’re happy, Yanan. Accept this and go live your life”, The8 said seriously as he reopened the book.

“That’s weird because yesterday I heard something totally different”, Yanan laughed mockingly and The8 stared at him again, “In fact, I was surprised when he told me you didn't know I was coming.”

“What do you mean?”

“Didn't he really tell you?”, Yanan asked laughing and The8 continued to stare at him seriously, “Minghao, it was Jun who invited me to spend a few days.”

“What?”, The8 asked frowning.

“That's right”, Yanan smirked, “He even paid for the ticket. If he didn't tell you that... I'm sorry.”

The8 continued to stare seriously at Yanan, holding back the urge to punch him once more. That didn't make sense for two reasons. First, Jun would never hide anything from him, especially if it was related to someone staying a few days in their apartment. Second, they balanced their credit card expenses together each month, and no invoice counted the purchase of airline tickets.

Someone was lying in this story.

“I know it might be a little sad to know your boyfriend doesn't trust you to tell things like that”, Yanan said again in that teasing tone and The8 squeezed the book between his fingers, “But try not to think about it, okay?”

“Get out of my way before I break your nose, Yanan”, The8 said through gritted teeth and Yanan chuckled before getting up.

“I don't think Junnie would like it if that happened”, Yanan teased and The8 started to get up from the couch, but the footsteps coming from the hallway stopped him instantly.

“Yanan, I'm ready”, Jun said entering the room with his cell phone in hand, “Shall we go?”

“Yeah!”, Yanan glared at The8 still with a smirk, “I invited Minghao to come with us, but he's not feeling well.”

“Really?”, Jun lifted his head and stared at his boyfriend, “What's wrong?”

“Nothing”, The8 replied with one last glare at Yanan before facing his boyfriend, “Where are you going?”

“We're going to ride a bike.”

“Jun, it's going to rain”, The8 said pointing to the window, “Do you really think this is a good idea?”

“We won't take so long”, Yanan said pulling Jun by the arm before he could respond, “See you later.”

Jun just looked once more at The8 before the door was closed. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, trying to control the urge to scream and punch the first thing that appeared in front of him. The8 hated how silent Jun was when it came to Yanan, even more now.

Thinking about what he had said about Jun having asked him to spend a few days and having paid for the ticket, he decided to confirm whether that was true or not. He grabbed his book and iPod and left the living room, tossing them on the bed in the bedroom before heading to one of the first doors down the hall which was where the guest bedroom was.

The8 pushed the door behind him and looked at Yanan's bags in the corner of the room. He grimaced at the mess of clothes and shoes strewn around the room, but this was no time to notice. Opening one of the suitcases he started looking for the wallet with documents and the return ticket, but found nothing. Stumbling over a sneaker he went to the suitcase next to the bed, this one was smaller than the other, so he didn't take long to find the ticket with the passport in one of the inside pockets.

He looked at one of the receipts and smirked when he saw the digits on the card that made the purchase. That wasn't Jun's credit card.

“I knew there was something wrong with that”, The8 said to himself and raised his head when he heard the front door open, and Jun's voice make itself present.

Just grab your umbrella and let's go, Yanan”, Jun said, and the footsteps approached the guest room.

You know it will be in vain”, Yanan said tediously.

The8 stuffed the ticket receipt into the pocket of the hoodie he was wearing and jumped off the bed toward the wardrobe on the other side of the room. He opened one of the doors and walked in quickly, closing the door just in time for Yanan to open the bedroom door and mumble inside.

“I don't understand why he has to take everything that idiot says seriously”, Yanan grumbled as he went to his big suitcase to look for his umbrella.

The8 watched him through the crack in the door angrily at what he had said, but kept his breathing low to make as little noise as possible, but that was useless when one of the doors creaked, drawing Yanan's attention, who looked at the wardrobe in confusion.

Shit!”, The8 thought when he saw Yanan walk to the wardrobe.

Yanan!”, Jun yelled from the doorway, causing the Chinese to stop walking, “Hurry up!

“I'm coming!”, Yanan yelled back and shook his head, stepping away from the wardrobe and out of the room.

The8 let out the breath he was holding and leaned his head against the cold wood of the wardrobe. He waited until he heard the front door close again so he could get out of the wardrobe and then out of the bedroom, running to his own to avoid any further interruptions.

He pulled the receipt out of his pocket and smiled once more, wondering how he was going to find out which credit card had been used on that ticket. Thinking about that he took the cell phone from the bed and sent a message to Seungkwan and Wonwoo, not expecting any response before going to change clothes.

That was the kind of thing he wouldn't leave to find out later.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Incheon, South Korea.

1:40 PM.

 

“Where's this shit?”, Seungkwan said to himself, rummaging through one of the dresser drawers.

“What are you looking for, hyung?”, Chan asked from the bedroom door.

“My passport”, Seungkwan replied closing the drawer, “I need to take it with me to work on Monday because of the trip.”

“Oh yeah”, Chan pushed his chair into the room, “It's in the last drawer next to your badge and your gun.”

Seungkwan froze the moment Chan said that. He had his hands on the dresser and felt his heart skip a beat, thinking about how Chan had discovered that.

Looking back he saw his younger brother's calm expression, and that startled him because he expected an angry reaction.

“Oh... I...”, Seungkwan cleared his throat and saw Chan arch an eyebrow.

“You won't even try to deny it, will you?”, Chan asked and Seungkwan denied it, “Too bad! I wanted to see you try to fool me.”

“Chan”, Seungkwan said turning completely to his brother, “How did you find out?”

“I was looking for that crazy calculator of yours the other day, and I ended up finding your badge and a gun in the drawer”, Chan replied simply, “I didn't say anything because I wanted to hear from you.”

“Right”, Seungkwan sat on the bed to be closer to Chan, “You didn't say anything to Seokmin, right?”

“Of course not.”

“Oh great!”, Seungkwan sighed in relief, “I'm not ready to tell him yet.”

“Tell what exactly, hyung?”

“Do you know the job Mingyu got me?”, Seungkwan asked and the younger one nodded, “Well, Mingyu is an agent for a government organization. So he sort of managed to get me in the intelligence department.”

“So you're like a secret agent?”, Chan asked, raising his eyebrows in surprise.

“Not that secret anymore”, Seungkwan replied, and Chan laughed.

“Hyung, that's really cool!”, Chan pushed his chair closer, “So you're like those movie agents who wear those super cool things?”

“Almost”, Seungkwan chuckled at his brother's imagination, “I only have a month of training, so I haven't reached that level yet, Chan.”

“I knew you had gotten stronger!”, Chan pointed to Seungkwan who raised his arms pretending to flex his muscles, “Yeah, they're still non-existent, but you're definitely stronger.”

“Idiot!”, Seungkwan kicked his brother's leg who started laughing, “That's my big secret, so I ask you not to tell it to anyone.”

“Okay, leave it to me”, Chan nodded, “But don't take too long to tell Seokmin hyung. He deserves to know.”

“I know that”, Seungkwan sighed feeling his cell phone vibrate on the bed, “I'm still thinking about how to do it.”

“I think he will react well.”

“I really hope that”, Seungkwan said reading The8's message, “But I'll think about it later. I need to leave.”

“Are you going out on a special mission?!”, Chan asked excitedly.

“Hold your imagination a little, Chan”, Seungkwan chuckled putting on a coat before leaving the room with Chan behind him, “I'm going to meet a friend. I'll be back later.”

“Okay, 00S”, Chan joked, and Seungkwan laughed before grabbing his car keys and leave the house.

Seungkwan got into his car and started making the way he always did to the department. He found the message The8 sent strange asking if it could help him figure out some things, especially since he didn't say what these “things” were.

That rainy Saturday afternoon had left the streets a little deserted, even closer to Seoul where traffic was frequent, but with that he could arrive in less than half an hour. Seungkwan showed his badge at the entrance and when he got out of the car he could see Wonwoo's tall, thin body up ahead.

“Wonwoo hyung!”, Seungkwan called hurrying his pace to where his friend was, “What are you doing here?”

“The8 texted me”, Wonwoo replied as he straightened his glasses, “And apparently he texted you too.”

“Yes”, Seungkwan started walking beside the eldest, “Did he tell you what it was?”

“No. He just said he needed my help with something.”

“Do you think it's something about the case or about Jun?”

“I hope it's about Jun, because I don't feel like dealing with this case over the weekend”, Wonwoo replied tiredly and Seungkwan smiled at him.

It was weird walking around the department wearing casual clothes, but since it was practically empty it didn't make much difference. Quickly the two arrived in the intelligence room and found The8 with his hands resting on the bench looking at a paper.

“Hey man”, Wonwoo said calling the Chinese man's attention, “What happened?”

“You've got us worried”, Seungkwan said looking at the paper on the counter, “What's this?”

“I need your help to figure out a few things”, The8 said looking at each one.

“And these things would be about...?”, Seungkwan asked.

“About Jun”, The8 replied and Wonwoo cheered in relief, “What the fuck, Wonwoo?”

“Sorry. I'm just relieved it's not something about Khalan anymore”, Wonwoo said approaching the bench, “What happened?”

“Let's just say that the asshole decided to tease me today”, The8 said turning to the whiteboard.

Would the asshole be Jun or Yanan?”, Seungkwan asked in a whisper to Wonwoo.

I'm pretty sure it's Yanan”, Wonwoo whispered back.

“Yeah, it's about Yanan”, The8 said, still with his back turned, “Sorry to involve you in this for the weekend, but I need help.”

“Don't worry about it”, Wonwoo said taking the paper off the counter, “What did Yanan tell you?”

“Can we refer to him as 'the asshole', please?”, The8 asked and Seungkwan laughed.

“Okay then... What did the asshole tell you?”, Wonwoo asked with an amused smile.

“Thank you. Well, I was minding my own business reading my book on the couch in my apartment”, The8 began emphasizing what he was doing as he walked around the office, “When he arrived and started being annoying as usual. Asking when would I leave for good, saying I didn't know how bad I do to Jun and all that shit.”

“What an asshole!”, Seungkwan grumbled, “What's the need for that?”

“He thinks he's going to make me break up with Jun because of this”, The8 said like it was no big deal, “Anyway, he said something that intrigued me. He said he was surprised when he saw that I didn't know about his visit. He also said that Jun invited him to spend a few days and that he had paid for the ticket.”

“What?”, Seungkwan asked confused. Wonwoo stared intently at the paper in hand, “But that doesn't make sense.”

“I know it doesn’t. So I went into his room and managed to get the receipt for the tickets”, The8 said pointing to the paper in Wonwoo's hands, “And what did I find?”

“That Jun didn't buy any tickets”, Wonwoo replied, “That's not his credit card.”

“Exactly.”

“How do you know his credit card number?”, Seungkwan asked standing next to Wonwoo to look at the receipt.

“Incredibly, the last four digits of his credit card is the day and month he was born”, Wonwoo replied and Seungkwan chuckled.

“Of course it had to happen to him.”

“Since it's not his card, I need to find out what card it is and where it was used”, The8 said with a hand on his chin, “Can you guys help me?”

“I'll get the credit card number”, Seungkwan said going to his desk.

“And I'll get the purchase protocol from the airline to find the location”, Wonwoo handed the receipt back to The8 and went to his desk.

“Thanks guys”, The8 said, flopping into his chair tiredly, “I'm destroyed.”

“We've noticed this during the week”, Seungkwan said putting on his glasses, “You haven't been sleeping well, have you?”

“Not much. Jun and I aren't talking right, and I hate it”, The8 grumbled looking at the receipt, “He talks too much sometimes but I like that. Hearing him talking about cats or some new game he downloaded is my therapy.”

“I bet Yan... The asshole didn't let you guys have some alone time to talk”, Wonwoo corrected himself just in time before The8 beat him up.

“That... son of a bitch!”, The8 said angrily, and Wonwoo looked at Seungkwan seeing that the youngest was also holding back laughter, “He's just not sleeping in our bed because he still uses the rest of his senses. And I swear, if he calls my boyfriend 'Junnie' one more time, I'm going to punch that horrible nose he has!”

“Oh no, you won't!”, Wonwoo chuckled, “Jun would be very angry with you if that happened. Even more without knowing why.”

“That's right”, Seungkwan narrowed his eyes at the monitor, “And why don't you just tell Jun everything he does to you?”

“Because it's not fair”, The8 sighed, “They grew up together, and I came way later. How would you feel if you were dating… I don't know… Vernon? You're dating Vernon, and he comes up saying horrible things about Mingyu. How would you feel?”

“I don't know why you used that example”, Seungkwan let out a nervous laugh, “But I think I would be pretty upset.”

“Exactly! And I don't want to hurt him.”

“But I don't want my best friend saying horrible things to my boyfriend”, Seungkwan said, feeling a sinking feeling in his stomach, “If he's my best friend, he should support me in my relationships. Even more if I’m truly happy.”

“Seungkwan is right”, Wonwoo said without taking his attention from what he was doing, “It's not good to keep hiding this kind of thing. If the guy who claims to be my best friend does that kind of thing to the guy who makes me happy, then he's anything but a real best friend.”

“I agree with everything!”, Seungkwan snapped his fingers, “The fun of having a best friend is that you can share your happiness with him. And if you really love your friend, you will end up being happy with him.”

“Have you ever stopped to think that the asshole might like Jun?”, Wonwoo asked looking at The8 who was looking at both of them intently.

“I realized that when he started calling him 'Junnie' and touching him a lot more than he should have”, The8 shook his head, “I need to do more meditations to control the urge to punch him in the face.”

“You sure do”, Wonwoo chuckled looking at the computer, “Look! I got the IP address of the computer that purchased the tickets.”

“And what is it?”, The8 asked typing the number Wonwoo had found. He waited for the search to be completed and both frowned in confusion, “Is that correct?”

“I think so”, Wonwoo straightened his glasses and looked at the number on his monitor, “It can't be wrong.”

“What did you find out?”, Seungkwan asked curiously.

“The IP address is from our network”, The8 said looking at the youngest, “So the tickets were purchased here.”

“But that doesn't make sense!”

“Hm... Maybe it does make sense”, Seungkwan said cautiously, “I found the credit card number, and...”

“And what?”, The8 asked getting up and going to the younger boy's table, “What is it?”

“It's one of the department's corporate cards”, Seungkwan replied pointing to the monitor, “And since the IP address is from our network, it really indicates it was purchased in here.”

“But what is the information used in the purchase?”, Wonwoo asked, standing behind Seungkwan, “Because even if the card is ours, you have to enter your personal information when you go to buy something.”

“Let’s see.”

Seungkwan typed frantically and while they waited for the data to load, The8 just hoped his thoughts were wrong.

But apparently nothing was in his favor.

“The purchase information is from Wen Junhui”, Seungkwan read in the same apprehensive tone and glared at Wonwoo.

The8 stared at his boyfriend's name on the computer screen, internally denying what he was reading. He didn't believe it. That information was clearly wrong.

“Search again”, The8 asked.

“But hyung-”

“Search again!”, The8 asked again and felt a squeeze on his shoulder.

“The8, I'm sorry but Jun bought the tickets.”

“He didn't buy it!”, The8 replied seriously, “He would never do that, Wonwoo. Not without talking to me or using another credit card.”

“But... That's what he did”, Seungkwan said in a sheepish tone, “I'm sorry, hyung.”

“But...”, The8 shook his head and started walking around the room thoughtfully, “Why did he do that?”

“I'm going to say something that's going to be completely stupid on my part”, Wonwoo said carefully, “But maybe the fact that you've always kept that information about Yanan has angered him to the point of hiding something from you as well.”

“It makes sense”, Seungkwan said thoughtfully, “But I don't think he would do something that childish.”

“Oh! I do”, The8 chuckled humorlessly, “Jun can be very childish when he wants to. A great example was leaving without telling me that day.”

“But that day he was quite angry because of the fight you had”, Seungkwan argued.

“It doesn't matter”, The8 shook his head. He felt a known tingle in his throat, “I don't want to believe, but if he really did this... Then Yanan wouldn't be so wrong.”

“Hey! Don't say that!”, Seungkwan said getting up.

“Don't think that way, man”, Wonwoo completed, “Talk to him. Only then you'll understand each other.”

“Whatever”, The8 said clearing his throat. He could feel his voice breaking, “Thanks for your help, guys. See you on Monday.”

“The8!”, Wonwoo and Seungkwan called at the same time, but the Chinese man was quicker to collect his things and rush out of the office.

Both stared at each other and sighed at the same time. This was a delicate situation, and as it involved his friends, it was difficult to give his opinion and take sides.

Both Wonwoo and Seungkwan collected their things and left without saying much, but hoping the two friends could quickly resolve themselves.

 

Chapter Text

Monday.

Seoul, South Korea.

5:25 PM.

 

“Did you call us?”, Hoshi asked as he entered the intelligence office with Vernon.

“Yes! Sit on the chairs please”, Seungkwan asked pointing to the two chairs that were in front of the whiteboard.

“Should we worry?”, Vernon asked looking at the bench full of equipment and tools.

“Not much”, The8 said looking at the masks on the bench next to Wonwoo, “What do you think about this one?”

“I think it suits him”, Wonwoo agreed looking at Hoshi's face. He smiled at the agent who started laughing, “Stop it, Hoshi!”

“I'm shy with your looks, Wonu!”, Hoshi joked, straightening his posture as The8 approached with a mask and put it on his face, “Why are we proving this?”

“The party Khalan is hosting will actually be a masked ball”, Seungkwan responded while choosing a mask for Vernon, “Then we have prepared a special mask for each one of us.”

“Oh that's cool”, Vernon said lifting his head so Seungkwan could put the mask on his face.

“Is it tight?”, Seungkwan asked adjusting the feather he had put on the mask.

“No, it's great”, Vernon replied staring into Seungkwan's eyes.

“That's good.”

Seungkwan smiled and pressed an extremely small button that was glued to the feather, waiting for Vernon's reaction that was no different from what he expected. Vernon widened his eyes and looked around, managing to see the details of each one in that room. It was as if in front of his eyes there was a small monitor showing each person's vital signs, as well as showing what each person had under their clothes, such as Wonwoo's keys or The8's cell phone that were in the pocket of the pants of each.

Vernon was impressed by that, and when he looked at Hoshi he found the leader staring at him with an expression as surprised as his own.

“You look really cute, Vernonie”, Hoshi said smiling at the youngest. The one who looked him up and down and arched an eyebrow.

“Are you wearing those horrible tiger underwear again, hyung?”, Vernon asked, causing laughter from the other agents.

“Vernon, it's not polite to look at your leader's underwear!”, Hoshi said putting his hands between his legs.

“Sorry”, Vernon chuckled and glared at Seungkwan again, “Is it a good idea for us to have that kind of information?”

“Of course it is. This way we can know if someone is armed or with a bomb, you never know”, Seungkwan shrugged and saw Vernon look down his body in the same way he had done with Hoshi. This made him lift the American's face by his chin and take the mask off his face, “Enough for today!”

“I didn't do anything!”, Vernon laughed amused at Seungkwan's self-conscious way, “So, are all masks the same?”

“In functionality, yes”, Wonwoo replied, putting away Hoshi's mask, “We've also tested the communicators, but these are only going to be used on the day of the ball.”

“Have the others tried the masks too?”, Hoshi asked getting up.

“Almost everyone. All that's left is Sangwoo and Baekho”, The8 replied as he tidied up the workbench, “And we need to get Joshua's mask fit because it's tight.”

“If he cut that hair it would be perfect”, Seungkwan said and The8 agreed with him, “Tomorrow morning we will finish the two that were missing. Now I need to go pick up Chan or we'll be late.”

“Alright, see you tomorrow”, The8 waved to the friend who walked out with Vernon.

“Hm... I need to go too”, Hoshi said looking at his cell phone, “See you guys tomorrow.”

“I hope you're going to buy some new underwear!”, The8 teased receiving a middle finger from the leader, which made him laugh.

“Hey man, leave it for tomorrow and let's go home”, Wonwoo said putting on his coat.

“No problem. I want to get this sorted before I go”, The8 said, arranging the tools they had used during the afternoon.

“I know you just want some time alone, so you don't have to talk to Jun”, Wonwoo said leaning his hands on the counter, facing his friend, “That's not good for either of you, The8.”

“I really don't want to talk to him right now, Wonwoo”, The8 said tiredly, “Especially when that asshole could show up at any moment to interrupt us or make us fight one more time.”

“Okay, I understand”, Wonwoo nodded, “We travel tomorrow night, so maybe it's good for you guys to be away from here and have a little distraction.”

“Yeah, we've got quite a mission to distract us”, The8 chuckled, leaning his arms on the bench, “Don't worry, okay? We're going to hit it off somehow.”

“That's what I hope, because I don't like Jun's serious and quiet version”, Wonwoo chuckled starting to walk away, “Don't stay here late.”

“Yes, sir. See you tomorrow.”

The8 nodded and looked at the still messy bench, letting out a tired sigh before going back to organizing everything.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Incheon, South Korea.

6:45 PM.

 

Seokmin straightened his coat and grabbed his cell phone as he left the restaurant, reading the messages his brothers had sent. Luckily, that was the last week he would have a different shift, so he could start accompanying Chan to the clinic, especially since Seungkwan was traveling for a few days.

He was distracted answering some messages, but a whistle beside him made him shift his attention from his cell phone and look at the person next to him.

“Hoshi?”

“It's me again!”, Hoshi smiled excited as always, “How are you?”

“I'm fine”, Seokmin smiled and put his cell phone in his pocket, “What are you doing here?”

“I was going to buy food from the restaurant and eat at home today, but I heard Seungkwan say that he was going to take Chan to the clinic, so I assumed you would go home alone again”, Hoshi explained and held up the package in his hands, “I already bought my food, so I wanted to offer you a ride.”

“Are you always this helpful?”, Seokmin asked, amused.

“Only when I want to”, Hoshi shrugged, “Do you accept the ride?”

“I can't deny such an opportunity”, Seokmin chuckled, “Alright, let's go.”

Hoshi smiled and indicated the way to his car, which was parked in the same place the other day. Seokmin found all the energy Hoshi had funny, besides being always smiling.

“I hope I found you in a good mood today”, Hoshi said as the two got into the car.

“Lucky for you, yes I am” ,Seokmin shook his head, “Sorry about that day again.”

“Oh, don't worry!”, Hoshi shook his head like it was no big deal, “I can also be pretty annoying when I'm stressed.”

“So, you're calling me ‘annoying’?”

“Of course not!”, Hoshi widened his eyes and looked at the other, “I just meant that-”

“I'm messing with you!”, Seokmin laughed and could see Hoshi sigh before turning his attention back to the street.

“You scared me!”, Hoshi muttered and Seokmin thought the little pout the older one made funny, “I thought I offended you, just like you did to me.”

“Did I offend you?!”, It was Seokmin's turn to ask with wide eyes, “When?”

“When we first met!”, Hoshi replied raising his head and looking at the other from the corner of his eyes, “You said that I 'think' I'm a tiger.”

“And was I wrong?”

“Hey! Understand that this is a concept!”, Hoshi said looking at Seokmin who now had an arched eyebrow, “And no, I'm not crazy.”

“Okay, so explain the concept to me before I start thinking you really are crazy.”

“I always liked tigers. Literally since I was a kid”, Hoshi began with a nostalgic smile, “My dad always took me to the zoo to see the tigers, bought me clothes with tiger designs and stuffed toys too. He even enrolled me in a taekwondo school just because there was a drawing of a tiger on the door!”

“Looks like he really encouraged you.”

“He was the best!”, Hoshi smiled, “Well, he died five years ago and that's how I keep him close to me. That's the concept.”

“Oh!”, Seokmin covered his mouth, “I'm so sorry! I had no idea!”

“Hey, why are you apologizing?”, Hoshi asked confused.

“I made fun of you that day”, Seokmin said with a guilty look, “I'm sorry.”

“You couldn't have known”, Hoshi chuckled, “Don't worry about it.”

“Are you sure?”

“It's been five years, Seokmin. I've already learned how to handle it.”

“Well, now knowing the concept I change my opinion.”

“Oh yeah? And what's your opinion now?”

“It's cute”, Seokmin replied seeing Hoshi staring at him with a smirk, “Still unusual, but cute.”

“If you think it's cute then I'm fine with it”, Hoshi said simply, which made Seokmin smile.

“I liked you, Hoshi.”

“I liked you too”, Hoshi smiled amused, “But tell me about yourself. How long have you been working at the restaurant?”

The distance between the restaurant and Seokmin's house was not long, and Hoshi usually drove almost within the allowed limit, but at that moment he insisted on driving as slowly and safely as he could just to keep talking to his friend's brother.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Next day.

Incheon, South Korea.

8:45 PM.

 

“Mingyu, did you get fresh clothes?”, Seungkwan asked when he arrived in the living room where his friend was playing some video game with Chan.

“I picked up some t-shirts”, Mingyu replied without looking away from the television, “Grab some shorts and your slippers because it's quite hot there and- Behind you, Chan!”

“And you let me know now?”, Chan grumbled pushing the older one by the shoulder.

“Sorry!”, Mingyu chuckled trying to dodge Chan's punch, “I thought you were done packing, Kwan.”

“I'm almost done. I just need my charger and my slippers”, Seungkwan took the cell phone from his pocket when he felt it vibrate.

He smiled when he saw a new message from Vernon, since the two have exchanged several messages over the past few days. It was curious how they managed to have an interesting conversation with the silliest subjects, like one of the cat videos Vernon sent or one of the pictures of Seungkwan with his old dog.

One thing Seungkwan has noticed for a few days is always a flirting tone in some things Vernon said, especially when they were talking in person in the department. The day before was a great example of how he subtly tried to check on Seungkwan by the mask that allowed him to see under his clothes.

Seungkwan couldn't say he never flirted back, but it wasn't as constant as the American. He had no idea what they were doing, but he was curious to find out what was going to happen.

“Why are you smiling so much?”, Mingyu asked from the couch, making Seungkwan look up in alarm.

“Nothing!”

“Who is this?”, Seokmin asked, standing behind his brother, looking at the picture someone had taken in an elevator mirror.

“Where did you come from?”, Seungkwan asked locking the cell phone and moving away from his brother who was staring at him with a suspicious look.

“I was in the shower. Now tell me who is this goth who sent you a picture.”

“He's not goth”, Seungkwan said looking at Mingyu and Chan who had paused their game to watch the conversation, “And he's nobody.”

“Oh, so it's a ghost?”, Chan asked with mock animation that made Mingyu laugh.

“It's none of your business who it is”, Seungkwan said lifting his head and leaving the room, ignoring the taunts of the other three.

Seungkwan closed the bedroom door and picked up his cell phone again to reply to the message Vernon had sent, but before that he looked again at the photo he had received. If there's one thing he would never deny it was how handsome Vernon was, especially when he wore black clothes and had his hair swept forward almost covering his eyes.

Vernon: Hey! I'm ready and heading to the airport.

Vernon: Are you and Mingyu leaving yet?

Seungkwan: Why are you so well dressed to sit for five hours in an airplane seat?

Seungkwan: And we're leaving in a few minutes. We’re waiting for Hoshi and Wonwoo to arrive.

Vernon: Well dressed?

Vernon: So… you think I’m pretty today? ;)

Seungkwan read that message and let out a disbelieving laugh at what he was reading.

Seungkwan: I don't know...

Seungkwan: Interpret the way you want :)

Seungkwan had a smirk when he texted, and when he saw that Vernon was typing he bit his lip waiting for the answer, letting out a laugh when it came.

Vernon: I’m prettier in person, so come check it out :)

Seungkwan: Vernon! hahaha

Vernon: You said I should interpret it the way I wanted it!

Seungkwan: Okay! We’re coming.

Seungkwan put his cell phone in his pocket and grabbed his charger and slippers, throwing it in his bag and then leaving the room.

“I was just going to call you”, Mingyu said putting on his jacket, “The boys are already here.”

“Let's go then”, Seungkwan left a suitcase near the door and went to say goodbye to his brothers, “See you in a few days.”

“Did you leave that calculator on your bed like I asked?”, Chan asked holding his brother's arm.

“I left it in your room”, Seungkwan said ruffling his brother's hair, “Hyung, please keep me updated on any gossip involving this boy.”

“Hey!”

“It will be the first thing I’m gonna do”, Seokmin smiled giving his brother a quick hug, “Be careful and shower, Seungkwan-ah.”

“But I shower every day?”, Seungkwan said offended, hearing Mingyu chuckle from the doorway, “What was that?”

“I'm messing with you”, Seokmin said leaning against the open door, watching Mingyu put the bags in the car with Wonwoo, “But seriously, be careful.”

“Be calm”, Seungkwan smiled going to the car and patting Hoshi's hand, “Hey, hyung.”

“Hey”, Hoshi said waving at Seokmin at the door with a smile. The one that was just returned the same way, “I'll take care of him.”

“It’s easier Seungkwan to take care of you, hyung”, Mingyu said amusedly before getting into the car.

“Seungkwan, Mingyu and you on a trip...”, Seokmin sighed and stared at Wonwoo, “You’re Wonwoo, right? Please take care of them.”

“Oh I'll do it, you can leave it to me”, Wonwoo chuckled and waved at Seokmin before getting into the car.

“Why did you ask someone you don't even know to take care of us?”, Mingyu asked indignantly, lowering the window.

“Because he seems to be more responsible than the three of you together.”

“Ah bullshit!”, Seungkwan and Mingyu said at the same time, making Wonwoo laugh. Only Hoshi didn't say anything, but kept an amused smile on his face.

“Okay let's get going”, Hoshi said opening the door, “I'll bring them alive in a few days. At least I hope.”

Seokmin laughed at that and waved once more at them before Hoshi started up and disappeared from his sight.

The flight to Bangkok was scheduled at Incheon airport, so the car ride took no more than thirty minutes. Each took their suitcase with passport and ticket in hand, and together they entered the airport. Following the proper instructions they checked the big bags and arrived at the departure lounge where most of the agents were waiting.

“Joshua really got lost”, Baekho said, turning his attention to his cell phone.

“Hasn’t he arrived yet?”, Hoshi asked sitting down beside Jun.

“It's been about fifteen minutes since he said he was checking the suitcase”, Woozi chuckled, “And the message Wonwoo sent me was a few minutes later and you're already here.”

“Are the others here yet?”

“Yes”, The8 nodded without looking away from the book in his hand, “Sangwoo, Coups and Vernon went to the cafeteria.”

“Oh, I wanted some coffee too”, Seungkwan said facing Mingyu who was beside him, “I'll buy one and I'll be right back.”

“No need”, Vernon said stopping behind Seungkwan, smirking when he saw him turn around startled, “Boo.”

“That's me!”, Seungkwan replied patting the American on the shoulder who actually smiled.

“It was actually the sound of the ghost”, Vernon said handing Seungkwan a cup of coffee, “Americano.”

“And that's you!”, Seungkwan joked and smiled when he saw Vernon's bored expression, “Just kidding. Thanks, but you didn't have to do that.”

“We were buying drinks for everyone, so I ordered yours”, Vernon replied simply.

“And where is mine?”, Mingyu asked.

“Oh... I didn't buy yours”, Vernon pursed his lips and Seungkwan chuckled at his friend's disappointed expression, “I think Coups hyung did.”

“Fine!”, Mingyu rolled his eyes going to where the leader was.

“I think you hurt him”, Seungkwan said drinking some of the drink.

“Not my intention”, Vernon shrugged and smirked again, “So? Am I prettier in person or not?”

“You really want me to answer that, don't you?”, Seungkwan asked seeing the American nod.

Resolving to play the game, Seungkwan bit the straw of his cup and ran his eyes over Vernon's body from top to bottom. It was obvious that Vernon was more handsome in person, but it was hard to say that without feeling a shiver in his stomach, so Seungkwan met his eyes again and arched an eyebrow, shaking his head before turning and walking to one of the empty seats.

Vernon chuckled at that and followed the older man to sit beside him. He mentally cursed Seungkwan for giving him that look while biting the straw, since that image would be imprinted in his mind along with the image of him taking a shower.

“Okay, I think I get it”, Vernon straightened in his seat, putting an arm across the back of Seungkwan's seat.

“Good”, Seungkwan drank some more of the cold drink and looked around in order to find something to change the subject, “Apparently The8 and Jun haven't talked yet. You can tell from the distance between them.”

“They arrived arguing”, Vernon commented looking at his friends who wouldn't even look at each other, “Something about asking the asshole to cut his hair. Do you know who the asshole is?”

“Yanan”, Seungkwan replied seeing that Jun really had shorter hair, “Apparently Jun let Yanan cut his hair and The8 must have not liked it.”

“I don't even know this Yanan, and I already want to punch him”, Vernon said with a grimace, seeing Seungkwan agree with him, “I mean, he made the two of them fight and even worse, he made Jun be quiet. I hate it.”

“We all hate it”, Seungkwan looked at the entrance gate and saw Joshua hurried over to them running a hand through his hair, “Shua hyung has arrived.”

“Sorry I'm late”, Joshua said breathlessly, “I was-”

“Making out”, The8 said staring at his friend over his glasses.

“…Yeah”, Joshua cleared his throat, “It was a goodbye longer than I planned.”

“Hey Shua”, Baekho called, showing the collar of his jacket, “It's messed up.”

“Oh, I'm sorry!”, Joshua quickly straightened his jacket collar, making some agents laugh at their friend.

Everyone settled in that waiting room and continued talking random subjects until the flight was announced. After everyone passed through the gate and boarded the plane Seungkwan began to feel butterflies in his stomach with anxiety. It was his first time traveling outside of Korea, so he was anxious and excited even if he was going to be in danger in Thailand.

He looked up his seat number and was pleased to see that he would fly alongside Baekho. They both found a common taste for some musicals, so it would be nice to be able to talk to him more about it, or even watch one during the flight since it would be five long hours.

On the other hand Vernon was a little disappointed that he couldn't fly alongside Seungkwan, but at least he would sit with Joshua which meant peace and quiet so he could sleep or listen to music. Vernon was looking forward to that trip not only for the mission, but also to see what it would be like to live twenty-four hours a day with Seungkwan again.

He shook his head and put on his headphones, trying to distract himself so he could stop thinking about the newbie.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Bangkok, Thailand.

1:00 AM.

 

The plane landed in Bangkok after five hours and with no problems other than some turbulence. Everyone was exhausted and sleepy, but they got off the plane in a good mood. After picking up their bags S.Coups led the way out of the arrivals gate holding hands with Woozi and talking to Sangwoo.

It wasn’t difficult to find Lisa among the people holding little signs with the names of their acquaintances. The woman, who now had black hair and a little shorter, was smiling and waving at them as if she had all the energy she could have. S.Coups smiled at the Thai woman and got close enough to give her a hug, and that's when Seungkwan realized they must be longtime friends.

“Oh finally!”, Lisa said excitedly hugging each of the agents excitedly, “I was looking forward to seeing you guys!”

“We can tell”, Woozi chuckled, tucking his backpack onto his back.

“How was your flight?”

“It was pretty quiet, but tiring”, Wonwoo said with a yawn.

“I can see”, Lisa laughed amused, “Let's get out of here because we still have an hour's road to Koh Samet Island.”

“Can we sleep?”, Sangwoo asked, and Lisa nodded.

“Oh yeah, I'm glad I got you guys a van”, Lisa smiled as she led the agents out of the airport, “It's pretty comfortable and we're leaving the lights off.”

Seungkwan was a little impressed by how even more beautiful Lisa was in person, but whenever he thought about it, The8's words saying she could kill him would come back to him. Still, he was looking forward to working with her on that mission.

Unlike the plane, this time he sat next to Vernon in one of the van's leather seats. Lisa was right in saying that the van was comfortable, and because of that he could feel sleep coming back, which made him close his eyes as the van started to move.

Seungkwan woke up about an hour later feeling a slight touch on his knee. He opened his eyes, and only then could he notice that he was sleeping with his head resting on Vernon's shoulder, the same one who was staring at him with a soft look.

“We arrived”, Vernon said in a soft tone, pointing to the open van door.

“Oh”, Seungkwan lifted his head and ran a hand through his hair, “Sorry.”

“It’s fine.”

The two got out of the van and grabbed their bags, looking around the big house that was in front of them. Seungkwan was impressed by the beauty of the place, even though it was dark he could see that it was a big house in the middle of a resort. He walked with the other agents to the entrance door that gave access to a huge living room, with several armchairs and sofas along with a large television on one side, while on the other he could see an entrance to what would be the kitchen.

He would need a long time to get to know that place.

“Okay guys let's go”, Lisa said approaching with some key strings, “I did my best to share the rooms since you are so many. So some will have to share a room.”

“You asked for the whole team”, S.Coups said with an amused smile.

“I know, and I don't regret it”, Lisa held out a string to him, “This is the key to your room with Woozi. Jun and The8, here it’s yours”, She held the key out to Jun and didn't even notice the face they both made, “Hoshi and Joshua, your key. And lastly... Ah, Wonwoo and Mingyu. The rest will have individual rooms.”

“That's great”, Mingyu said taking the key and facing Wonwoo who had an arched eyebrow at him.

“I won't take up your time anymore because it's too late. Go rest and in the morning we'll talk more.”

“Thanks Lisa. Everything's perfect as always”, S.Coups smiled at the Thai woman who squeezed his shoulder.

“Don't thank me. And if you need me, my room is the first one down the hall on the right. Good night boys!”

Everyone said good night and went upstairs to the first floor where the bedrooms were. Seungkwan looked at the number on his key and went right into the big hallway full of doors, beside him were Vernon, Joshua, Hoshi and Sangwoo.

Sangwoo soon entered the first door, Hoshi and Joshua went to the end of the corridor and Seungkwan stopped in front of his room which was in front of Vernon's.

“They'll have to share a room”, Seungkwan said looking across the hall to where Jun and The8's room was, “Do you think they'll make it right?”

“I hope so”, It was time for Vernon to say that, that they heard a door slam open, startling the two who looked together down the left side of the hallway, “What-”

“Great, Junhui! Do whatever the fuck you want!”, The8 said annoyed as he left the room and headed for the stairs.

“Oh shit”, Seungkwan said with a grimace, seeing Vernon's eyes widen.

“Who's screaming?”, Hoshi asked leaving his room with only his shirt and a boxer short.

“I don't think it's a good idea to leave The8 and Jun together right now”, Vernon said, and the leader rolled his eyes.

“Oh no. We have an important mission tomorrow and they won't screw it up because of a stupid fight!”, Hoshi mumbled walking down the hall, but looking at Seungkwan before going downstairs, “And let your brother know you're alive. He was asking about you.”

“Okay I... How does he know that?”, Seungkwan asked confused, and Vernon shrugged, “Oh whatever. Let's get some rest. Good night Vernon.”

“Good night, Seungkwan-ah.”

Seungkwan entered his room and found it extremely comfortable. It had a nice bed by the window, an air conditioner, a bathroom, and a fridge next to the bed. He left his suitcase in the corner of the room and soon changed his clothes, since it was a very hot night, and went to the bathroom to brush his teeth. After he was changed and cleaned he threw himself on the bed and turned off the lights, sending several messages to Seokmin to know he was alive and well.

After chatting with his brother for a while, Seungkwan turned on the air and straightened up on the bed making an effort to go back to sleep as he had in the van, but it seemed that his sleep simply deserted him due to the heat. Feeling his throat dry, he got up and opened the fridge, finding only a few sodas and green tea.

“Oh, really?”

Seungkwan sighed, putting on his slippers and put the key in the pocket of the shorts he was wearing before leaving the room. The hallway was dark and silent, so he walked calmly until he reached the stairs and found some light. In the living room Hoshi and The8 were still talking, so he went to the opposite side that gave access to the kitchen he had seen when he arrived.

As he expected, the kitchen was empty and huge as was the living room. He went to the fridge and opened one of the doors, raising his eyebrows at the amount of food and drink in there. But as he stared at the fridge in awe, someone else came into the kitchen and ended up smiling when he saw him bent over inside the fridge talking to himself.

“Pass me the iced tea, please”, Vernon asked holding the waist of Seungkwan who jumped in fright.

“What the fuck, Vernon!”, Seungkwan mumbled repeatedly punching the arms of the American who was now laughing at him, “Stop scaring me all the time!”

“You make it nearly impossible”, Vernon chuckled, “But I promise to try.”

“Damn!”, Seungkwan grabbed a bottle of water and walked away with his hand on his chest, “I'm sure my heart stopped for a moment.”

“I'm glad I gave you that feeling”, Vernon said taking the bottle of iced tea.

“Idiot!”, Seungkwan sat on the bench and opened the water bottle, taking a few sips to calm down and cool off as well.

“Why are you here?”

“I was thirsty, and there was no water in the fridge.”

“Did you look at the fridge door? Because there are lots of little bottles of water there”, Vernon asked and saw Seungkwan close his eyes, “Okay, I'll take that as a 'no'.”

“I almost died because I'm an idiot, is that it?”

“Don't say that”, Vernon sipped his iced tea and smiled at him, “If you had found it before, you wouldn't be here with me right now.”

“It would be very unlucky, wouldn't it?”, Seungkwan sneered, and Vernon nodded.

Seungkwan stared into Vernon's eyes and saw a different glow there, something he hadn't seen before. The way he was staring was making him a little nervous, but it's not like he wanted to break his gaze right now.

He wanted to see how far this would go.

“Can I ask you something?”, Seungkwan asked quietly, seeing the American nod again, “Why do you stare at me so much?”

“I don't know”, Vernon replied simply, “Something about you attracts me, but I don't know what it is.”

“I... Do I attract you?”, Seungkwan asked, seeing Vernon start to approach him slowly.

“Yes. Very much”, Vernon replied in the same low tone, “And it makes me angry sometimes because I don't know what I'm supposed to do.”

“And what do you want to do?”

Seungkwan regretted it at the same moment he asked that question. As much as he wanted to know the answer, the smile Vernon opened was making him more nervous than before.

“Do you really want to know what I want to do, Seungkwan-ah?”, Vernon asked, stepping closer to Seungkwan, so close that he could stand between the older man's parted legs.

“I do”, Seungkwan replied and then rushed to add, “I mean, since we're having this conversation.”

“Since we're having this conversation”, Vernon repeated, leaning his hands on the counter and leaving his face inches from Seungkwan's.

“What... What are you doing?”, Seungkwan's voice was just a whisper at that moment.

“I'm getting close to you”, Vernon replied in the same tone, not taking his eyes from Seungkwan's, “If you want me to stop, just say it.”

“I didn't say that”, Seungkwan snapped, drawing another smile from the American, “Vernon, you didn't answer my question...”

“What I want to do...”, Vernon said thoughtfully and stared at Seungkwan's wet lips so close to his own, “I really want to kiss you right now, Seungkwan.”

With those words Seungkwan felt a shiver in his stomach, in addition to the absurd urge to kiss the man in front of him. He never had Vernon as close to him as he did at that moment, ignoring the day in the alley where they fell to the ground together because that was a different situation.

The question was, did he want Vernon to kiss him? And the answer was as clear as water.

“And what are you waiting for?”

Vernon smiled at that answer and didn't hesitate another second to bring a hand up to Seungkwan's face and put their lips together. He'd been waiting for that moment for days, and finally being able to have the lips of the man who was ruining his sleep on his was being a better feeling than he had imagined.

Seungkwan had soft lips, and they were cold from the water he was drinking. So that kiss, as slow as it was being, was better than Vernon had imagined. Slowly he lowered the hand that was on Seungkwan's face to his waist, leaving a soft caress over the shirt he was wearing and slowly parting his lips.

Neither of them opened their eyes, and before Vernon could say anything he felt Seungkwan's hands pull his face until their lips were together again. That made him smile between the new kiss they started, which different from the previous one was being a little faster and with more desire. Seungkwan couldn't describe in words how good Vernon's kiss was and how well the lips fit with his. The only thing he wanted to keep doing at that moment was kissing the American, who now had both hands squeezing his waist under the shirt he was wearing.

Vernon's warm hands squeezed Seungkwan's waist as he ruffled his hair, giving a few gentle tugs near the back of his neck. That made Vernon let out a small moan against the older man's lips, and gently biting his low lip he pulled away to leave a kiss on Seungkwan's chin and another on Seungkwan's jaw, moving his lips down his neck and following a path of kisses to the ear.

Vernon...”, Seungkwan whispered with his eyes closed, letting out a sigh of satisfaction when he felt a bite on his earlobe.

“Do you want me to stop?”, Vernon asked against the other's ear, which made Seungkwan shiver once more.

“Why would I want that?”, Seungkwan asked pulling Vernon's head back.

Vernon let out a satisfied laugh and went back to kissing Seungkwan's already swollen lips. He felt like he could stand there kissing him all night, but apparently someone else had other plans to get in their way.

A small noise near the kitchen caused the two to move away quickly, even against their will. And in a matter of seconds a sleepy Mingyu entered the kitchen, scratching his eyes and not noticing the presence of the two men.

“Oh you guys are here”, Mingyu said confused as he noticed their presence.

“Yeah…”, Vernon said running a hand through his hair to try and fix it somehow.

“What are you two doing here?”

“I was thirsty, so I came down to get some water”, Seungkwan showed the bottle in his hand and climbed down from the counter. He looked at Vernon and then at his friend, “I... I'm going back to my room. Good night.”

And without waiting for an answer, Seungkwan hurried out of the kitchen and up the stairs almost at a run. Seungkwan could feel his heart beating fast and a wave of heat rising in his body from the kiss he had with Vernon.

He walked into the room and leaned his head against the door, touching his lips with his fingertips and feeling them a little numb, and having his fingers so close to his nose he could smell again what Vernon's shampoo smelled like.

“What the fuck did I just do?”, Seungkwan asked himself and opened his eyes startled when he heard a slight knock on the door. Without thinking too much he opened it, startling The8 who still had his hand raised, “Oh! Hi!”

“Hi?”, The8 stared at him confused, “Hm... Can I ask you a favor?”

“Of course!”, Seungkwan replied quickly, “What is it?”

“Can I sleep here? I really don't want to sleep with Jun today”, The8 asked and Seungkwan could see Vernon walking into the hallway. That made his heart race again.

“Of course you can! Come in here!”, Seungkwan pulled his friend into the room and closed the door, letting out a long sigh.

“What happened to you?”, The8 asked staring at his friend who had wide eyes.

“I just made out with Vernon in the kitchen!”, Seungkwan responded quickly and The8 widened his eyes, “Damn it! Forget what I said!”

“Wait!”, The8 asked pulling his friend's arm, “You did what?!”

“I... Oh shit!”, Seungkwan mumbled throwing himself on the bed, “I don't know what happened! I went down to get water, and when I realized I had him between my legs, and we were kissing!”

“Lots of information, but wow!”, The8 chuckled as he sat on the bed next to his friend, “I'm surprised by the way you told me, but not by what happened.”

“What?”, Seungkwan asked sitting up, “What do you mean?”

“Oh please”, The8 rolled his eyes still with a smile, “The tension between you guys is touchable!”

“Oh great!”, Seungkwan mumbled, burying his face in the pillow.

“Stop it!”, The8 approached the younger one, poking his back, “Did you like it?”

“Very much!”, Seungkwan replied, making The8 laugh more, “It was great, but I don't know... I...”

“Stop thinking too much”, The8 straightened up on the bed and lay down correctly, “If you liked it, then it's ok. Just enjoy it.”

Seungkwan raised his head and stared at The8, thinking of saying something else but giving up right away. His hyung was right, he should stop thinking and just rest.

“Think about it tomorrow, Seungkwan”, he said to himself before closing his eyes and forcing himself to sleep, but still with the feel of Vernon's soft lips on his own.

Chapter Text

Bangkok, Thailand.

9:24 AM.

 

The room felt even hotter than before, so hot that Seungkwan could feel a few strands of hair sticking to his forehead. He had his eyes closed, enjoying the shiver every time Vernon's warm lips kissed his neck and the hands squeezed his thighs.

Vernon moved slowly against Seungkwan's hip and smiled against his neck when he felt the erection against his, which showed that Seungkwan was enjoying this as much as he was.

“It's... It's hot in here”, Seungkwan said on a moan, pulling the hem of Vernon's shirt up, “Get this off, Vernon.”

“Are you in a hurry?”, Vernon asked amused, getting down on his knees between the older man's legs, taking off his shirt and smirking when he saw Seungkwan reach for the hem of the shorts he was wearing, “Why so needy, Seungkwan- ah?”

“You're teasing me”, Seungkwan bit his lip as Vernon moved his hips against his again.

Vernon took Seungkwan's hands out of his shorts and held his wrists above his head kissing again the lips that were so attractive, and with his free hand ran his fingers across the exposed chest and down until he bumped into the boxers of the older one.

He could feel Seungkwan's abs muscles tighten and his hips thrust forward, seeking contact. Vernon broke the kiss but stayed close, staring into Seungkwan's dark eyes as he lowered his boxers enough to hold his erect member. That touch made Seungkwan close his eyes and moan again, clenching his hands into fists and trying to loosen them from the American's grip, but he squeezed his wrists once more indicating that he would keep them there for a while longer.

“Vernon...”, Seungkwan moaned trying to move his hip against the American's hand that was making slight movements in his member, “Too slow...”

“Again”, Vernon said biting Seungkwan's lower lip, making him open his eyes again. The American's thick voice so close to his face was making him hornier than he already was, “Are you in a hurry?”

Vernon had a smirk as he moved his hands gently over Seungkwan's cock, enjoying the way he bit his lip to try to contain his moans and move his hips for more contact. It was being fun to tease the older one, but his own erection was bothering him in his shorts, so leaving one more peck on Seungkwan's lips he started kissing down his neck, chest and abs, reaching where his hand was.

Seungkwan looked down anxiously, catching sight of Vernon with his messy hair holding his cock inches from his mouth. He swallowed hard when he saw the American approach and lick the entire length of it until he covered a good part of it with his lips, and that without breaking eye contact.

The moan he was holding was released loud and clear with the wonderful feeling of pleasure he was feeling with Vernon's warm mouth wrapped around his cock.

And that's what made him wake up startled and breathless.

Seungkwan sat up in bed in a jump, looking around and having no sign of Vernon or The8 who had slept there. Looking down he saw that he was fully dressed, but the discomfort in his boxers showed how intense and real that dream had been.

“Ah seriously?”, Seungkwan asked himself, looking at the volume on his boxers. It was embarrassing, but he couldn't deny that he was disappointed that it was just a dream, “What the hell was that?”

Seungkwan grunted and ran his hand through his hair, feeling it damp from sweat, and still disappointed he threw the sheet aside and got up going straight to the bathroom to take a cold shower to relieve that infernal heat he was feeling.

Meanwhile in another room, Mingyu had woken up first and was a little surprised when he saw Wonwoo sleeping so close to him and with an arm across his waist. As much as he enjoyed that, it would be awkward to explain if Wonwoo woke up too, so carefully he removed his friend's arm from around his waist and got up grabbing his towel and boxers before heading to the bathroom.

He didn't take long in the shower, it was just enough to cool off and start that day that would be busier than usual. As soon as he finished pouring his boxers Mingyu left the bathroom running the towel through his hair, seeing that Wonwoo was still sleeping in bed he took the opportunity to look for some fresh clothes and change without much haste, but he did not expect that Wonwoo was already awake and watching everything he was doing.

“You have a nice back”, Wonwoo said, making Mingyu turn his head to face him, “Hi.”

“Hi”, Mingyu replied putting on shorts, “Did I wake you up?”

“Actually, the light woke me up”, Wonwoo said lazily, sitting up in bed and running his hands through his hair, “I'm hungry.”

“I think they'll be making breakfast downstairs.”

“I'm going to take a shower and go downstairs then. If you want you can go ahead”, Wonwoo said getting up and grabbing his towel, stopping in front of Mingyu and slapping his exposed abs softly before entering the bathroom.

Mingyu looked confused at his abdomen and then at the bathroom door, not understanding what his friend had just done. Shaking his head, he pulled on his T-shirt and looked at himself in the mirror, ran his hands through his hair to straighten it and grabbed his cell phone before leaving the room. He bumped into Baekho, and they walked down the stairs together and followed the noise of conversation coming from the kitchen.

“Good morning”, The two said at the same time to those in the kitchen.

“Good morning, boys”, Lisa said from the table with an excited smile, “Did you get some rest?”

“Oh yeah”, Baekho said smiling and walking over to the fridge, “The room is very comfortable, so I just passed out.”

“That's good. We need some energy for later”, S.Coups said placing two bottles of juice on the big table, returning to sit between Lisa and Woozi, “And eat a lot too.”

“Yes, general leader!”, Hoshi said with his mouth full, saluting the leader.

“I said we should put a bib on him”, Woozi told S.Coups who was laughing at his friend.

“Good morning, hyungs and Lisa”, Seungkwan said walking into the kitchen with his hands in his pockets.

Seungkwan looked around the kitchen and saw the three leaders at the end of the table talking to Lisa and Sangwoo, Jun and The8 far apart and Baekho talking to Vernon, Mingyu and Joshua who were preparing something at the balcony. When his eyes met Vernon’s, he felt a shiver run down his spine along with the memory of what the two of them had done on that balcony the night before.

Vernon knew what Seungkwan was thinking, so he discreetly licked his lip and looked away, returning to help Joshua. Seungkwan blinked a few times at that and walked hurriedly to the table, sitting in front of The8 who was reading the same book as before, but he raised his head when he felt the presence of the youngest.

“Good morning, kisser boy”, The8 said quietly and Seungkwan widened his eyes at him.

“Don't say that out loud!”, Seungkwan said bending to get closer to the older one, the same one who had an amused smile.

“I saw what he did there”, The8 said looking at the balcony, “It was interesting to see your reaction.”

“Can we not talk about this?”

“Why are you so worried?”, The8 asked, adjusting his glasses, “Relax Seungkwan. You two didn't do anything wrong, on the contrary, I was already waiting for it.”

“I don't know”, Seungkwan shook his head and looked down at his fingers with a grimace, “Doesn't it look quite… unprofessional?”

“Unprofessional?”, The8 asked arching an eyebrow at the youngest, “I don't know if you noticed, but Coups and Woozi are married. And Jun is still my boyfriend.”

“Don't talk like that!”, Seungkwan kicked his friend under the table, “You two will still make it right on this trip. I know that.”

“Whatever”, The8 shrugged looking at Jun across the table who was now talking to Hoshi. Seungkwan knew that his friend was just pretending not to care about the situation, but he could see the sadness in his eyes, “Anyway, the focus here is on you to stop thinking too much and just enjoy the moment.”

“How can I enjoy the moment if just thinking about what we did yesterday makes me panic?”, Seungkwan asked nervously.

“I don't know, but you better think fast because he's coming”, The8 said quickly, turning his attention back to his book.

“What?”

“Good morning”, Vernon said placing a large plate of pancakes on the table, taking a seat next to Seungkwan.

“Good morning”, Seungkwan replied without meeting the American's eyes.

“I hope you like what Vernon and I prepared, guys”, Joshua said with his usual politeness, taking a seat next to The8, “I don't want to brag, but my pancakes are delicious.”

“Thanks, Josh”, Vernon said, getting a smile from the older man.

“Your waffles look… nice, Vernon”, Jun said picking up one of the waffles Vernon had made.

“Thank you”, Vernon shook his head and a few laughed at the serious tone he used.

“There's a big pool in the back”, Lisa said filling a cup of juice, “Anyone who wants can take a walk on the beach to relax or stay here, you're free.”

“What time are we meeting to go over the plan and get ready?”, Sangwoo asked.

“We'll meet here at six in the afternoon”, S.Coups replied looking at everyone at the table, “Hoshi will show you the whole plan and then we'll get ready.”

“The ball starts at ten o'clock at night”, Woozi said wiping his mouth, “We'll find a way to get in around eleven.”

“Okay, so we have plenty of time”, Joshua said facing The8 at his side, “Will you help me later, The8?”

“Yes”, The8 nodded filling Seungkwan's cup with juice, “We can do it after breakfast.”

“What are you going to do?”, Baekho asked.

“I convinced Joshua to cut and dye this hair”, The8 said pointing to the older one, noticing Jun's eyes on the two of them.

“It's going to be my spa day”, Joshua chuckled in amusement.

“I'll make you bald if you start taking advantage of my good will”, The8 threatened, getting a squeeze on the shoulder from the older one.

Seungkwan was eating his pancakes with a small smile, just watching that interaction. Out of the corner of his eyes he noticed Vernon drop his fork and reach for his cell phone, and it didn't take him more than five seconds to feel the American's warm hand on his thigh. The scare he got was so big that he swallowed what he was chewing at once, forming a lump in his throat, and to avoid a greater embarrassment he took the glass of juice and took several sips in a row to get rid of that feeling in the throat.

The8 noticed the youngest's behavior and looked closely at him, and then at Vernon who had a calm expression as he pretended to touch his cell phone. He pressed his lips together to keep from laughing and looked down at his plate, trying hard not to make a joke.

“Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon called seeing the other drink several sips of juice, “Are you in a hurry?”

That question made Seungkwan choke and drop the glass on the table and cough a few times. There was no way Vernon could be asking the same question he had asked in his dream, this must have been some bad joke.

The8 seeing that started to laugh at the youngest, receiving another kick in the leg.

“Are you okay?”, Vernon asked squeezing Seungkwan's thigh.

“Uhum!”, Seungkwan muttered shaking his head several times, “It's just... The juice is cold, so my brain froze for a moment.”

“Oh yeah”, Vernon nodded, still with his hand on Seungkwan's thigh, “Did you like my waffle?”

“Yes!”, Seungkwan nodded, looking at the American, “They're weird shaped, but they taste good.”

“Yeah... I don't have much skill to use that thing”, Vernon said referring to the waffle maker. He grimaced briefly but smiled at Seungkwan, “But I'm glad you liked it.”

“What about my pancakes, Seungkwan-ah?”, Joshua asked, attracting their attention.

“They're great too, Shua hyung.”

“What about my juice, Seungkwan-ah?”, S.Coups yelled across the table, and Seungkwan could notice the other agents' amused look at him.

Aish! You guys are making fun of me!”, Seungkwan accused and some laughed at his irritated pose. Vernon thought the pout that Seungkwan was making when complaining was cute.

“You're new here, so your opinion is important”, Jun said.

“Stop tormenting the newbie!”, Wonwoo said entering the kitchen.

“It's the best part of our day”, Woozi said amusedly.

Seungkwan opened his mouth to answer that but gave up and went back to eating the rest of the pancake on his plate to the sound of everyone else's laughter. Soon other talks took over the table, and Seungkwan got distracted in a conversation with The8 and Joshua about how the older one should cut his hair but for Seungkwan that was a pointless conversation, since Joshua was a very handsome man and would look good with any haircut he chose.

After everyone had finished eating, Hoshi asked if anyone wanted to run on the beach with him so some followed him and others just decided to stay and explore the house. Seungkwan helped Baekho and Woozi clean the kitchen and when they were done, they walked around the house talking about what they found, until they reached a room with some musical instruments and it was there that he first saw Woozi excited.

“I'm sure this was Lisa's idea”, Woozi said picking up an acoustic guitar and hugging the instrument.

“Of course it was. She thinks of everything”, Baekho chuckled playing some keys on the piano, “Jun will like this piano.”

“I need to show Joshua this guitar!”, Woozi said from the room still hugging the instrument and Seungkwan laughed at him.

“It's the first time I've seen him animated like this without being Hoshi-related.”

“Woozi loves music”, Baekho said giving Seungkwan space to sit beside him, “He said it calms him down and makes him think better.”

“He's not wrong”, Seungkwan looked at the shiny piano keys and then at the eldest, “Do you play?”

“A little bit”, Baekho smiled moving his fingers over the keys, “I used to play more when I was a teenager but after I became an agent, it became a distant hobby. When I moved to Japan, I even thought about playing again, but I can't have a piano in my apartment.”

“Oh, it's too bad”, Seungkwan paid attention to the beautiful melody Baekho was playing, “I know this song.”

“Beautiful Moment”, Baekho smiled while playing the piano, “I knew you would recognize it.”

“It's one of my favorite OSTs”, Seungkwan smiled happily.

“If you want to sing, I won't mind”, Baekho said looking at the youngest, “I heard you can sing very well.”

“Who told you that?”

“Vernon said.”

“Really?”, Seungkwan asked in surprise. He thought of the few times he'd sung in front of Vernon, and apart from Busan's trip it was only a few times in the locker room, “I only hummed next to him a few times. I didn't know he liked it.”

“Apparently he did”, Baekho chuckled, not noticing the younger boy's confusion, “Mingyu also said once at the gym that you sang at the school talent show.”

“That stupid giant!”, Seungkwan grumbled, making Baekho laugh again, “I only sang once at the talent show! And because I was forced to do it!”

“Even so, there are already two people saying you can sing”, Baekho said seeing Seungkwan's embarrassed look, “If it makes you more comfortable, we all like to sing here. Joshua once had to pretend to be a professional singer in a bar for a month, just so we could investigate the owner.”

“That doesn't count”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “Tell me something Joshua hyung can't do.”

“Cooked rice”, Baekho replied simply, making Seungkwan laugh, “Really, his rice sucks!”

“Finally something he's not good at!”

Seungkwan-ah!”, The8 yelled from the hallway, “Come to the pool area because I'm going to need help with Joshua!

“Good luck with that”, Baekho said with a grimace and Seungkwan smiled before getting up and leaving the room he was in.

Seungkwan went back to the corridor he was in and went out through the open glass door that gave access to the pool area. The8 was with Lisa fixing things he was going to use on a table while Woozi and Joshua were talking about the guitar that the shorter one had picked up in the room.

“I'm here, hyung”, Seungkwan approached with his hands in the pocket of the shorts he was wearing, “Need help with what?”

“Can you mix this hair dye please”, The8 handed the box to the youngest and grabbed a towel, “Joshua, sit here!”

“I'm coming!”, Joshua ran to sit up and took off his shirt.

“Are you trying to show off?”, Lisa asked and Seungkwan smiled while reading the instructions on the box.

“It's really hot here, Lisa!”, Joshua replied, tucking the towel around his shoulders.

“Are you going to dye your hair black?”, Seungkwan asked confused, “Wasn't it blue a few minutes ago?”

“It would take a lot of work”, Joshua replied and received the dubious look from everyone around him, “And also because Jeonghan likes black.”

“Now I believe it”, The8 starting to wet his friend's hair, “How do you want me to cut it, hyung?”

“It's up to you. I'll trust your gut.”

The five stayed there talking about subjects that didn't involve tonight's mission since the point was to relax and not get stressed out too soon, so Woozi played some calm melodies on the guitar he had picked up. Unlike what he had thought, Seungkwan was not nervous for the ball, maybe a little anxious but nervousness was almost non-existent. He had trained and worked hard during the week, and Hoshi and Baekho were very important in helping his psychological in the possible scenarios they would face that night.

It had been over a month since Seungkwan was living daily with everyone on the team, and he could say that he built very strong bonds with all of them, especially with The8, Wonwoo and Hoshi. Maybe it's because of these bonds that he's not nervous about the operation, because he knows he'll be backed up and won't be alone.

“What do you think of this work, Seungkwan?”, Lisa asked, attracting Seungkwan's attention.

“I have just over a month on the team, but it feels like a whole year has passed”, Seungkwan said mixing up the paint and Lisa chuckled beside him, “It's all very busy but I've learned a lot.”

“I really like the reports you send”, Lisa said smiling, “You're very considerate of information.”

“My little prodigy”, Woozi said still playing the guitar and Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “There was a moment when I thought I would lose him to Hoshi. It was the worst week of my life, Lisa.”

“You’re so dramatic.”

“He wouldn't abandon us to that lunatic”, The8 said, still focused on cutting Joshua's hair.

“He's not that bad”, Joshua said with his eyes closed, but he had an amused smile.

“Shua, I already said that if you want to change teams, we'll welcome you with open arms”, Woozi said seriously, making the older man laugh.

“I'm honored Woozi, but I prefer the field action.”

“Weird”, The8 said with a grimace before lifting his head, “I think they're back.”

“Whoever arrives last will wash my underwear!”, Hoshi yelled running into the pool area along with Sangwoo, Jun and Mingyu.

“And there goes our peace”, Woozi said rolling his eyes as the four of them jumped into the pool.

“How can he have that much energy?”, Lisa asked seeing Hoshi jump on Jun's back to sink him into the pool.

“That's something none of us can understand, Lisa”, S.Coups said stepping behind the Thai woman with a bottle of water and his sweaty hair, “Hoonie, it's really hot. Want to get in the pool?”

“With that thing?”, Woozi asked pointing to Hoshi who was laughing out loud with Mingyu in the pool, “Can I drown him?”

“You can try”, S.Coups chuckled as he sat down next to his husband.

“Vernonie! You're the last one!”, Hoshi yelled when Vernon walked into the pool area as sweaty as the others, “You're going to wash my underwear!”

“No”, Vernon replied simply, making the others laugh at the disappointed expression on the leader.

“I don't have any power with this kid, I don't even know why I still try!”

Seungkwan laughed at Hoshi's frustration and turned his eyes to Vernon, who was now taking off his running shoes on the glass door. He was a little mesmerized by the American's messy hair and sweaty face, as well as the well-defined muscles and armless from the tank top he wore.

Noticing the looks of Seungkwan himself, Vernon opened a smirk and took off the tank top he was wearing and jumped into the pool. Seungkwan gulped at that scene, having small flashes of his dream when Vernon took off his shirt just like he did at that moment.

Maybe the day has started to get hotter than it already was.

“Seungkwan”, The8 called and when there was no answer, he looked at the younger one and realizing where his attention was, “Seungkwan!”

“Yes!”, Seungkwan jumped in his chair, looking scared at his friend who had an amused smile on his lips, “What's wrong?”

“Pass me the hair dye, please”, The8 asked still smiling and Seungkwan quickly handed the dye to the older one.

“I... I need to go to the bathroom, excuse me”, Seungkwan said getting up and walking out of the pool area.

He could feel Vernon's eyes on his back until he was inside the house again, and that only made him walk faster down the hall until he reached the stairs and ran up to his room. Seungkwan was more nervous about the dream he had than the kiss they exchanged the night before, because being honest he couldn't deny it and say he didn't want to kiss Vernon again, especially after knowing how good the American's kiss was.

Shaking his head, he went into the bedroom bathroom and washed his face with cold water, running his wet hands over the back of his neck to try to cool off a bit. Seungkwan stared at his reflection in the mirror and bit the corner of his lip, thinking how good it felt to have Vernon's soft lips against his, and how much he wanted him to bite his lip like he did in his dream.

“Stop it, Seungkwan!”, Seungkwan said to himself, shaking his head and wiping his face.

Seungkwan took a deep breath and left the room feeling a little less nervous, however as soon as he locked the door, a grip on his wrist pulled him back into another room. He looked back scared and felt the nervousness return when he came face to face with Vernon, the same one who had his hair still wet from the pool with a few strands covering his eyes. Vernon was still shirtless and his skin was wet, so having him this close was making the heat from before coming back again.

“What-”

“Are you avoiding me?”, Vernon asked, interrupting the other's question.

“Avoiding you?”, Seungkwan asked confused, “I'm not avoiding you.”

“Then why are you acting weird around me?”, Vernon had a low tone and that was making Seungkwan shiver.

“I'm not weird”, Seungkwan let out a nervous laugh, seeing the American arch an eyebrow, “Stop staring at me like that!”

“Like what?”

“Like if you were trying to read my mind... Vernon, stop it!”, Seungkwan hit the exposed chest of the American who smiled broadly at him.

“You're cute when you get angry”, Vernon said stepping closer, making Seungkwan take a step back and slam his back against the door, “Especially when you pout.”

“I don't pout!”, Seungkwan replied confused between looking at Vernon's eyes or lips that were even closer now.

“Yes, you do. All the time”, Vernon said tilting his head to the side, still staring into Seungkwan's dark eyes, “And if you don't stop doing that, I'll punch your lips.”

“What?”, Seungkwan asked in surprise, seeing another little smile appear on the American's lips.

“I'm going to punch your lips. Very gently,”, Vernon came close enough to bump his nose against the other, “With my own lips.”

Seungkwan felt the power of those words hit his stomach hard, along with another shiver that ran down his spine. Vernon's thick voice being whispered in that way so close to his face was taking away all the thinking ability he could have at that moment.

“Well, then I'll save your work”, Seungkwan said in the same tone before joining his lips to Vernon's.

This time he didn't hesitate to move his hands to Vernon's neck, moving up to his wet hair and taking it between his fingers in a gentle tug. Seungkwan liked to feel the softness of the American's hair, and that simple caress made Vernon even more eager to kiss those lips that fit so well between his own.

Hugging the other's waist Vernon broke the kiss just so he could lightly bite Seungkwan's lips, leaving a long peck before returning to kiss him for real. Seungkwan ended up smiling at that because he couldn't believe that what he had wished for in the bathroom minutes ago was happening and was being better than he had thought it would be.

“You have a great kiss, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon said trailing kisses down the other's neck, smiling satisfied when he felt Seungkwan tremble in his arms.

“Is that what you've been waiting for?”, Seungkwan asked with his eyes closed, biting his lip to keep from sighing at the bite Vernon left on his shoulder.

“No”, Vernon lifted his head and pecked the other's swollen lips, “It's better.”

“You're a cheap flirt, did you know that?”, Seungkwan asked and Vernon smiled innocently at him.

“It made you shiver, so I'm happy.”

“Idiot!”, Seungkwan slapped the American's arm, but he couldn't hold back his laughter.

Vernon chuckled with him before pulling him by the waist and kissing his lips once more, in a calmer way this time. He couldn't explain it, but with just a few kisses he could tell he was addicted to Seungkwan's lips, being one more thing on the long list the newbie had done to him since he arrived.

Boys upstairs! Lunch is here! Come eat!”, S.Coups yelled from the stairs, which made the two break apart.

“Looks like they're focus on interrupting us”, Vernon grumbled as he pulled away from Seungkwan's lips, seeing him laugh.

“Why so needy, Vernonie?”, Seungkwan asked, pinching the American's cheek, seeing him narrow his eyes, “Let's have lunch before Coups picks us up.”

“Go ahead, I need a shower first”, Vernon said dropping Seungkwan's waist, getting a quick peck before he left the room. That made him smile and shake his head.

Seungkwan walked down the hall with his hand on his chest, looking at Vernon's bedroom door and biting his lip in consequence of what they did again. That make out was even better than the first one, but unlike the first this time he wasn't worried about anything other than going back into that room and kissing him again.

Shaking his head to get those thoughts out of his head, Seungkwan ran a hand through his hair and walked down the stairs thanking him for not having anyone around to catch that scene.

But there was someone in that hallway watching what the two had just done.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Bangkok, Thailand.

10:30 PM.

 

“Kwan-ah!”, Mingyu whimpered as he crossed the room where everyone was finishing up and going over some details of the operation, “Kwan!”

“Oh dear God... What do you want now?!”, Seungkwan asked in an annoyed tone, making Woozi burst out laughing beside him.

“Help me?”, Mingyu asked holding the tie with his puppy eyes. Seungkwan rolled his eyes and watched Joshua walk past them laughing.

“Come here”, Seungkwan took the tie from his friend's hands, “It's impossible that you haven't learned how to fix a tie yet, Mingyu.”

“I know how to do it, but with this bow tie it's hard!”

“Stop whining”, Seungkwan grumbled, but let out a laugh as soon as he finished, “There you go, you whiner.”

“Thank you!”, Mingyu pinched the younger boy's cheeks and left before he was punched.

“Hoonie, is that alright?”, S.Coups asked trying to straighten the mask on his face but failing miserably.

“How did you do that, Cheol?”, Woozi asked taking the mask off his husband's face and adjusting the size of the elastic.

“I don't think I should’ve tried to adjust the size by myself”, S.Coups said with a shrug. Seungkwan ended up finding it funny how the leader looked so small at the time.

“You should have called me”, Woozi shook his head, “I think it's fine now. Let me put it on so your hair won’t mess up.”

“Okay... Oh! Now it's comfortable”, S.Coups chuckled when he didn't feel the tightening on his face, “Thanks, babe.”

“Cheol, we're at work”, Woozi said seriously, thanking that he was wearing a mask and no one had noticed his blushing face.

“Technically not yet”, S.Coups said amusedly, leaving a peck on the shorter man's lips.

“You... Get out of here!”, Woozi said embarrassed, making the older one laugh and walk away, “Stop laughing, Seungkwan.”

“You're so cute, leader”, Seungkwan said touching the shorter one's cheek, getting punched in the arm, “Outch!”

“This is your punishment”, Woozi said seriously before turning his back and walking away, making Seungkwan laugh once more.

“You're brave to tease him”, Vernon said stopping beside Seungkwan, making him stop laughing.

“He's a softy”, Seungkwan said turning to the American, making a mental note on how handsome he looked in that black suit, “Are you ready?”

“Almost”, Vernon said raising his hand and showing his black tie, “I've heard you know how to fix ties.”

“What's your problem with ties, really?”, Seungkwan asked starting to straighten the tie around the American's neck. Vernon cracked a small smile and shrugged, “You picked out this suit yourself?”

“Yes, you liked?”

“It's very beautiful”, Seungkwan said when he finished straightening his tie, fixing his shirt collar. Vernon had his eyes fixed on his face, but this time he wasn't intimidated.

“I chose it thinking you'd like it”, Vernon said putting his hands in his pocket, keeping the smirk on his lips. Seungkwan snorted at that.

“Well, I liked it.”

“I liked your suit too”, Vernon said simply. Seungkwan smiled at that because it was the perfect opportunity to tease him too.

“Yeah? You should see me without them”, Seungkwan replied quietly, looking to see if there was anyone who could hear him. Vernon laughed at that and moved close enough to whisper in his ear.

“I've seen it”, Vernon pulled away and looked the older man up and down, straightening his mask and smirking again before walking away.

Seungkwan felt a slight chill at that and let out a disbelieving laugh. It was obvious that Vernon would wear that mask so he could check him under his clothes, and on second thought maybe it wasn't such a bad idea.

“The tension between you two is making me sick”, The8 said casually stopping beside Seungkwan.

“It's making me something else, and it's not sick”, Seungkwan replied, shifting his attention from the American to the Chinese at his side. The8 was very elegant in that light fabric suit, which instead of wearing a tie was a very nice scarf that matched him, “What about you? Have you talked to Jun?”

“Not yet. Maybe I'll talk after the operation”, The8 said looking over to where his boyfriend was talking to Lisa and Hoshi, “I miss him.”

“I bet you do”, Seungkwan said squeezing his friend's shoulder and getting a serious look.

“If anyone asks, you didn't hear me say that, okay?”

“Yes, sir!”, Seungkwan raised his hands and faced S.Coups when he saw him clap his hands.

“Boys! And Lisa”, S.Coups smiled at the Thai girl who looked incredibly beautiful and elegant that night, “The cars have arrived, so please let's all go outside!”

Seungkwan took a deep breath and felt a flutter of anxiety in his stomach. Finally the operation was about to start and only now he started to feel a little nervous. He looked at Mingyu who had a calm smile, and that made him relax a little.

It was show time.

Chapter Text

Bangkok, Thailand.

11:36 PM.

 

The cars didn't stop so close to the place where the ball was taking place as a strategic way, even because even from a distance it was possible to see the movement of elegant people and the lights of the large mansion in the background.

Seungkwan looked at everything with curiosity, but without activating the visor of his mask yet, after all it would be strange to be able to see under the clothes of each one in the car, and also because Lisa was with them so it would be disrespectful.

Ok boys, let's get out of the cars and spread out”, S.Coups's thick voice rang out over everyone's communicators, “Let's focus on disguise and talk to some people before we get into position, understood?

“Yes, sir”, everyone replied at the same time, getting out of the cars and starting to walk down the street as if they didn't know each other.

Lisa and I will communicate as soon as we find Khalan”, Hoshi said and Seungkwan could see him up ahead with Lisa holding his arm, pretending to be his date, “Does everyone have the fake IDs?

“Yes, we have”, Everyone replied.

That's it boys, let's do our best and not take unnecessary danger”, Woozi said and that was the end of the conversation.

With Lisa's help a few days earlier, she managed to insert some fake names into the guest list. These names were given to Woozi who was able to provide fake IDs for each agent so it was easy to get past security. The interior of the mansion was even more beautiful than the outside, with lots of lights and beautiful curtains to match the typical Thai decor.

Some agents exchanged a few glances before walking away and starting to socialize among so many people, but always keeping an eye on each other as planned. Seungkwan accepted a glass of champagne from one of the waiters, as did The8 and Vernon who were beside him.

“It's weird looking around knowing the whole structure of this place”, Seungkwan said looking around.

“I still don't know how Lisa got the floor plan of this mansion”, Vernon said.

“And it's better that we don't know”, The8 raised his glass so the two younger ones would toast with him before they started drinking, “Let's walk around to see if we can find anyone.”

Across the salon, Hoshi was still walking arm in arm with Lisa and having Baekho and Sangwoo behind him with their arms crossed. Hoshi was impersonating an important man at the Korean consulate, and for that he needed a date, Lisa, and his two big bodyguards. Lisa spoke in Thai with some people and showed Hoshi the names of some foods and some greeting phrases in Thai, just so her friend wouldn't get so lost.

“Okay boys, let's keep our eyes open”, Hoshi said to Baekho and Sangwoo, “Be smart and pretend you're dumb.”

“What?” Baekho asked and Sangwoo closed his eyes to keep from laughing.

“That sounded smarter in my head”, Hoshi said pressing his lips together, making Lisa cover her lips to keep from laughing, “But you got me, right?”

“Yes, Hoshi”, The two said getting back to their serious pose. Baekho gave a slight nod, indicating that someone was approaching.

“You must be Hajun, our consulate representative”, A thick, rather excited voice said as he approached.

Hoshi turned his attention to the front and gave a small, satisfied smile when he found Lee Doyun right in front of him with his hand outstretched.

“It's me”, Hoshi shook Doyun's hand firmly, “We finally meet, dear friend.”

“I was just saying that to other guests”, Doyun let go of Hoshi's hand and stared at Lisa who was watching that interaction with a serene gaze, “And what's the name of your beautiful date, Hajun?”

“Honey, please introduce yourself”, Hoshi asked Lisa who opened a rather seductive smile and held out her hand to Doyun.

“Pranpriya Kamon”, Lisa said softly, receiving a kiss on the hand and trying hard not to grimace, “Delighted, sir.”

“She's very obedient, Hajun”, Doyun said with an annoying smile. Hoshi clenched his jaw at that comment, but Lisa's light grip on his arm made him return the annoying smile.

“After all, that's what we want, isn't it?”

“Oh absolutely!”, Doyun chuckled, “Would you like to have a drink at my table? I wanted to introduce you to some people.”

“Of course”, Hoshi said looking at Baekho and Sangwoo who were still serious facing Doyun, “Boys, you can look for some fun, but stay close.”

“Oh, no need for searching, Hajun”, Doyun said looking back and snapping his fingers. Within seconds the two women who had been given to him by Minoru appeared at his side, “Girls, please give our friend's two bodyguards a special treatment.”

Hoshi glared at his two agents, a look that was enough for both to understand. Baekho and Sangwoo stared at each other, immediately thinking about what Hoshi had told them just a few minutes ago. Both nodded and each pulled a woman close by the waist, leading them away from the crowd. The fear of the two women trembling in the arms of the two agents was clear, and neither of them could believe how easy it had been to find two of the three women they needed to rescue.

“Let's take them upstairs, there are several rooms there”, Sangwoo said and Baekho nodded, leading the way to the mansion stairs that had a chain barring the entrance.

Baekho took off the chain and let the three of them pass, then climbed up with one of the women, looking around to make sure no one was following them. Sangwoo walked down the hall and opened the doors until he found a room with balcony access, and when he found it, he pulled them inside.

“I'll call Mingyu and Wonwoo”, Sangwoo said going to the balcony with his communicator.

“Good night, ladies”, Baekho said smiling and pulling his badge out of his suit pocket, “My name is Baekho, and my partner is Sangwoo. We are federal agents and we are going to get you out of here.”

“Is this a joke?”, One of the women asked, looking intently at Baekho's badge, “Oh my God...”

“We’re going home?”, The other woman asked tearfully.

“Yes. Let's get you out of here first, and tomorrow you'll be sent back to your home”, Baekho said, still smiling, and when he saw the two women start to cry he took a tissue from his pocket and held it out to both, “Hm... Please don't cry.”

“Thank you so much!”, The two said at the same time, hugging the agent who raised his arms without knowing how to act.

“Mingyu and Wonwoo are bringing a ladder to- What are you doing?”, Sangwoo asked from the balcony door, seeing Baekho startled by the two crying women clinging to him.

“I don't know!”, Baekho said looking down and then at Sangwoo again, “They started crying, I got nervous and offered them a tissue. After that they grabbed me.”

“You're pathetic, Baekho”, Sangwoo chuckled, turning back to the balcony where he could already see Wonwoo dismounting the stairs with Mingyu watching for any movement behind them.

“Sangwoo! Help me!”

“Flip yourself, philanderer”, Sangwoo sneered, gripping the end of the ladder Wonwoo dismounted. They weren't too far off the ground, but it was high enough to get hurt if someone jumped, “Okay Wonwoo, hold on tight and I'm going to ask them to come down.”

“Let's make this quick before anyone decides to come here”, Wonwoo asked and looked at Mingyu who had the gun in his hand still watching for any movement coming from the house.

“Ladies, pay attention here please”, Sangwoo asked and they let go of Baekho. The one who sighed in relief at the same second, “I need you two to take off your shoes and go down these stairs. There are two agents waiting for you there to get you out of here.”

“Thank you so much!”, One of the women said hugging Sangwoo quickly, holding tight to the ladder so she could go down.

“We'll never be able to thank you guys for helping us!”, The other woman said holding Sangwoo's hand, following the first woman on the stairs.

“No need to thank us, we just did our job”, Sangwoo said professionally, but with a small smile so as not to sound too rude.

“You're almost there, just keep going down”, Wonwoo said without looking up and being disrespectful, but a noise of a branch being snapped made him look quickly back towards the tall bushes surrounding the mansion, “Mingyu-ah. Did you hear that?”

“Yes”, Mingyu said looking at the bush, taking a few steps closer and that was enough for the noise to happen again, “There's someone here!”

“Shit!”, Baekho muttered, bracing his hands on the balcony beside Sangwoo, watching Mingyu run into the bushes.

“What's going on?”, The second woman asked startled as she reached the floor.

“It's okay. Just stay here, please”, Wonwoo asked politely, taking the gun from his waistband and slowly pointing towards the bushes, “Mingyu?”

Mingyu, if you're listening respond now!”, S.Coups' voice was authoritatively present.

Wonwoo took another step towards the bush, and raised the gun startled when he saw someone come out of the leaves but lowering in relief when he saw Mingyu running his hand over his arms to remove the dirt and leaves that had been trapped.

“I'm here!”, Mingyu replied putting a hand to his ear, “There was one of Khalan's bodyguards spying on us.”

Situation?”, S.Coups asked.

“Down”, Mingyu said facing Wonwoo who returned to putting the gun away.

Great. Take the two women to the van Lisa positioned down the block”, S.Coups asked and the communication ended.

“Mingyu, we didn't hear gunfire”, Sangwoo said and Mingyu showed the silencer on the barrel of the pistol, “Oh! You're really smart sometimes.”

Mingyu smiled at him and put the gun away so he could help Wonwoo get the two women to the van.

Seungkwan took a deep breath with that dialogue and looked around, seeing Hoshi talking to Doyun with Lisa beside him also attentive around. When his eyes met the Thai's, she discreetly put her hand to her left ear to indicate something with her finger and following the pointed direction, Seungkwan caught sight of the woman who was in Minoru's nightclub.

“Okay”, Seungkwan sighed, nodding positively at Lisa and facing The8 and Vernon, “The woman who was at Minoru's nightclub is on our left.”

“We have to find a way to get her out of here”, The8 said looking at the distracted woman in a corner of the big hall, “What do you suggest?”

“I can go there”, Vernon said simply, “Maybe flirt with her to lock her in one of the bedrooms.”

“Oh please!”, Seungkwan chuckled, “If a handsome man like you came to flirt with me out of nowhere, I'd notice at the same time it's a scam.”

“What did you say?”, Vernon asked in surprise, making Seungkwan feel his cheeks burn from what he had said.

“Too late”, The8 said staring at where the woman was standing, “Jun is already going there.”

The three turned their attention to where Jun was now speaking near the woman they already knew. It was all very quickly because they were near one of the large curtains that covered an open window. So, while Jun was saying something in the woman's ear Lisa approached saying something on the communicator and when she was behind the woman, she took a small object from her handbag and pressed against the exposed neck, making the woman fall unconscious in Jun's arms, who quickly stepped behind the curtain.

Lisa handcuffed the woman still behind the curtain and looked out the window, seeing Mingyu come running into the garden. As soon as he got near, he stretched out his arms and Jun passed the unconscious woman through the window so that the agent would also take her to the van.

“Woman from the club arrested and handed over to Mingyu”, Lisa said into the communicator for everyone to hear and smiled at Jun, “That was awesome, Junhui.”

“It's easy to team up with you, Lisa”, Jun smiled and held out his hand for Lisa to step out from behind the curtain, “Now you can go back to your fun date.”

“That disgusting bastard!”, Lisa rolled her eyes and ran her hand down her pretty black dress, “Keep your eyes open.”

Jun nodded and shoved his hands in his pockets walking absently to the food table. He was looking around trying to recognize some more face they should arrest that night when he felt a gentle touch on his shoulder. Looking back quickly Jun found a woman smiling suggestively at him, but unlike all the faces he had memorized this one was just a guest. Which was even worse.

“Oh hello, pretty sir”, the woman said and Jun could hear her voice a little groggy.

“Good night, ma'am”, Jun said politely, thinking about how he would get rid of that woman, “Are you looking for your husband?”

“Not really”, The woman denied getting closer to the Chinese, “Do you want to be my husband?”

“I’m sorry?”, Jun asked in surprise, trying to pull away from the woman.

Across the room Seungkwan watched that interaction in a curious way, finding it funny how Jun was struggling to get away from that clearly drunk woman.

“Looks like Jun hyung needs help”, Seungkwan said amused looking back and not finding The8, “Where is he?”

“I think this is going to get more interesting than it already was”, Vernon said pointing to The8 who was walking briskly over to where Jun was standing.

“Ma'am, for the last time, I can't be your husband!”, Jun said pulling away from the hands of the woman who was trying at all costs to hold his arms, “And I'm already with someone else.”

“And who would be stupid to leave a handsome man with those broad shoulders alone at this party?”, the woman said between a sob, trying to hold Jun's shoulders once more.

“Here baby, I found your favorite”, The8 said pulling Jun's waist and handing him a glass of martini. Jun stared at his boyfriend in surprise, seeing that his eyes were fixed on the woman in front of them, “Sorry to disappoint you, ma’am. But I think you're going to need to look for another handsome, broad-shouldered man.”

With that The8 opened a smile and pulled Jun by the waist, taking him away from the woman who was now drunk and disappointed. When the two were far enough away The8 took his hand from the older man's waist, which made him press his lips together to not complain about the lack of contact.

“What was that all about?”, Jun asked low so that only The8 could hear him.

“You weren't going to get rid of that woman by yourself”, The8 replied looking around, “You panic easy.”

“Right…”, Jun looked at the glass in his hand and frowned, “That's not my favorite.”

“I know that”, The8 said staring at Jun like he was the dumbest thing in the world, “You hate Martini. You prefer champagne because of the bubbles, but it was the first glass I found on the way.”

“Oh... Got it”, Jun said in a nod, feeling a little happy that The8 still cared a little about him, “We better get back to our positions.”

“Yes, let's go”, The8 said grabbing Jun's arm before he walked away, “And pay attention, please.”

“You too”, Jun said and the two exchanged that look for a few more seconds before pulling away.

Seungkwan smiled seeing his two friends talking for a few minutes without fighting or offending each other. Still with a satisfied look Seungkwan looked at the food table and stopped as he recognized a female silhouette, but just to be sure he pulled out his cell phone and looked at the photo on it.

Standing next to him was Sana, Momo's wife who was handed over to ChungHee last month. He looked around and found ChungHee talking on his cell phone by the table, not paying much attention to the woman with her head down.

“Vernon”, Seungkwan called pulling the American by the suit to stand in front of him, “Give me your hand.”

“What?”, Vernon asked confused as Seungkwan pulled his hand and placed it on his cheek, “What are you-”

“Pretend you're caressing my face”, Seungkwan said with a smile, seeing the confused look of the American who, without asking any more, just caressed his cheek. He took advantage of Vernon's hand on his face and placed his over it, using it as a disguise to use the communicator in his ear, “Joshua, target one on your left.”

Out of the corner of his eye he saw Joshua lift his head from the table he was on and look to the left, quickly finding ChungHee still talking on his cell phone. Looking to the right he found Seungkwan and nodded, standing up and adjusting his suit before walking casually to where the man was.

Now it's up to you, Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua said referring to the woman.

Vernon took his hand away from Seungkwan's face so he could go to the woman. He drank the rest of the champagne in his glass to try to distract himself from that strange chill he felt when he caressed Seungkwan's soft cheek.

Seungkwan approached the woman, seeing Woozi walk a little farther. Hoshi followed that movement out of the corner of his eye, pretending to pay attention to what Doyun and those men were talking about. When he stopped next to Sana, Seungkwan could see her flinch a little, but she didn’t look up.

“Good night”, Seungkwan said casually, taking a small plate. The woman didn't respond, so he spoke again, “I know who you are, Minatozaki Sana.”

Sana snapped her head up to face him and even opened her mouth to say something, then closed it right away.

“I won't hurt you, don’t worry”, Seungkwan said pretending to pick something to eat, “My name is Seungkwan, and I'm a federal agent. I'm here today to get you out of here and take you home with your wife.”

“Momo?”, Sana asked as soon as she heard the mention of her wife.

“Exactly”, Seungkwan smiled a little, “I rescued her myself and she's already safe waiting for you, but for that to happen I need you to follow what I'm going to say, okay?”

“How do I know I can trust you?”, Sana asked and Seungkwan took the badge out of his pocket, quickly showing it to the woman before putting it away again.

“Listen, do you see that man talking to your guardian?”, Seungkwan asked pointing to Joshua who was having a conversation with ChungHee. Sana nodded and glared at Seungkwan, “He's one of our agents and he's distracting ChungHee so I can give you instructions. Now look ahead, you'll find a short man staring at us with his arms crossed.”

“Okay, I see,” Sana said seeing Woozi staring at them.

“He's going to stay there for the next few minutes. In twenty minutes all the lights will go out and a screaming will start, but don't be scared. Just get down and get under this same table, he'll get you out of here through that open window. Did you understand?”

“Yeah, I got it”, Sana nodded quickly, “Is she okay? I mean, my wife is okay?”

“Yeah, she's fine and she already went back to your house”, Seungkwan nodded putting some pieces of cheese on his plate, “And soon you'll be able to see her again, but first we need to get you out of here, okay?”

“Okay... Thank you so much!”, Sana offered a small but sincere smile.

“Don't thank me yet”, Seungkwan winked and walked away with his plate, glancing at Joshua who soon ended his conversation with ChungHee.

Lisa followed with her eyes the two agents walking together until she reached S.Coups at the back of the room, seeing the leader with a smirk and a card in his hand. With that, she searched Vernon through the hall and found the American already walking to where the leader was, so casually she squeezed Hoshi's arm and glared at Doyun who was still talking nonstop.

“Excuse me”, Lisa said with a smile, seeing Doyun frown at being interrupted, “Female emergency, I'll be right back.”

“It's okay, honey”, Hoshi nodded exchanging a meaningful look with the Thai to show that he understood the message.

“You'll have a lot of work with this one, Hajun”, Doyun said looking at Lisa's back as she walked away. Hoshi felt like kicking him to make him stop looking at the agent, but he crossed his legs to restrain himself.

“What do you mean?”

“Didn't you see how she interrupted me?”, Doyun asked a little annoyed, turning back to face Hoshi, “Completely without manners.”

“Don't worry about it, Doyun”, Hoshi said with a smile, “I like rebels. Now tell me more about what you've been doing in Jakarta, it's been a while since I heard your name at the consulate.”

Lisa smiled at some people on the way to where S.Coups was, and then Vernon appeared with a bottle of champagne in hand. S.Coups guided them to a narrow corridor until reaching an iron door that gave access to the basement of the mansion.

“Surely there must be some security down there”, S.Coups said leaving the briefcase he was holding on the floor, “Lisa, do you have a clip?”

“For emergencies? Always”, Lisa took the clip out of her handbag and handed it to the leader.

“Vernon, you go down first and get rid of anyone in the front, okay?”, S.Coups asked, opening the door easily, handing the clip back to Lisa.

“Leave it to me”, Vernon said, opening the button on his suit and walking slowly down the stairs so as not to make a sound.

The stairs had approximately fifteen steps, and using the wall as support Vernon went down slowly, stopping on the last step and looking both sides of the corridor and finding no one so he motioned for the two agents to go down as well. As Lisa and S.Coups also went down the stairs, Vernon headed left into the hallway where there was a new hallway and a dim light illuminating the way. He leaned his back against the wall just before the turn, taking a small mirror out of his pocket he could see a big security guard standing in front of a distracted door, so he motioned for them to wait at the bottom of the stairs and held the bottle of champagne in his hand.

“Oh, where am I?”, Vernon said putting a hand on his head and pretending to stumble into the new hallway, startling the security guard, “What is this dark place?”

“What are you doing here?”, The security guard asked irritably, walking quickly over to Vernon who was still reeling.

“Hey! Is this the bathroom?”, Vernon asked with a burp, “I'm sorry about that.”

“You shouldn't be here, boy!”, The security guard grabbed Vernon's arms who threw himself against the strong body, holding his neck.

“I’m not a boy! I'm already a man!”

Vernon grumbled, tightening his hand on the bouncer's neck, kicking his knee so he lost his balance and then smashing the bottle over the man's head, knocking him unconscious to the ground. Vernon dropped what was left of the bottle on the floor and rebuttoned his suit, looking down the hall and seeing S.Coups spying on him.

“Free corridor”, Vernon said and the two agents stepped into the hallway.

“Very good, little man”, S.Coups said, squeezing the younger man's shoulder.

“Nice drunk imitation, Vernon”, Lisa chuckled looking at the security guard who had his head bleeding on the floor.

“Thanks Lisa”, Vernon nodded and saw S.Coups pull a card out of his pocket and open the door.

Once the door was fully opened the three entered what was like an engine room of the mansion, where the power generator was as well as access to some plumbing. Vernon stood at the door with his gun in his hands, watching for any kind of movement, S.Coups opened the briefcase The8 had given him earlier and took the device that his intelligence team had prepared. That device when attached to the power generator would activate the clock, and after twenty minutes it would be stopped turning off all power to the mansion.

“Boys, I'm putting the device on the generator”, S.Coups said into the communicator, “Let me know when I'm supposed to turn it on.”

I think now would be a good time, Coups”, Seungkwan said, and the nervous tone in his voice made the three agents frown in confusion.

“Why now?”

Because Khalan decided to show his face among the guests”, Woozi replied.

The three agents faced each other and without hesitation S.Coups turned on the device, showing the countdown. Lisa started to walk away to leave the room, but Vernon's body being thrown into the hallway startled her and made her pull the small pistol from her thigh in the same second.

“S.Coups! You bastard!”, A man yelled as he entered the room, “Did you really think we didn't know about your visit?”

Lisa ran towards the man, managing to hit him from below, but he was quicker to grab her by the short hair and throw her against one of the iron pipes. He went for S.Coups who easily dodged the blows, and with a single kick to the chest he managed to throw him backwards, which was enough for Vernon to appear in the door and kick him again in the back. As Vernon threw him forward again, S.Coups held the briefcase tightly and hit the man hard in the face, making him fall unconscious to the ground.

“I got distracted, Coups”, Vernon said entering the room, “Sorry.”

“Don't worry, we took care of him easily”, S.Coups said running to where Lisa was, “Hey, are you alright?”

“The son of a bitch messed up my hair!”, Lisa said irritated as she got up.

“It’s still pretty don't worry”, Vernon said running his hands over his suit.

“If Vernon said a compliment, then I believe it”, Lisa said in surprise, seeing Vernon smile in embarrassment.

“Let's go back to the main hall. We have a bastard to catch.”

In the main hall, all eyes were on the host of the ball who was smiling and chatting animatedly with some guests, squandering his arrogance and elegance to anyone who wanted to envy him. Khalan was smiling and shaking hands with everyone who came to speak to him, trying to gain even meager attention.

The agents who were still in the hall stared at him, almost unblinking, containing the urge to simply take him down and send him back to jail. Seungkwan walked around the hall slowly passing ChungHee and Sana, who followed him with her eyes. He stopped beside Woozi and watched the movement in the hall, facing Khalan again.

“Are they coming back?”, Seungkwan asked looking where S.Coups had gone earlier.

“They should show up any second now”, Woozi said looking at his wristwatch, “We've got twelve minutes until everything goes off. Keep an eye on the girl.”

“She will follow the plan”, Seungkwan looked at Sana who was swinging her leg anxiously. On the stairs he could see Baekho and Sangwoo appear talking seriously, “The two are back, so Hoshi will be able to catch Doyun easily.”

“He's an idiot”, Woozi rolled his eyes, “He made our job easier by handing the two women over to both. But ChungHee isn't such an idiot, he'll know where to escape.”

“I bet Joshua is faster than him”, Seungkwan smiled seeing the agent up ahead following ChungHee's every move.

“Coups is back”, Woozi said seeing the three agents walk back into the hall, “Stay in position, Seungkwan-ah.”

Seungkwan nodded and went back to walking around the hall but keeping close to where Sana was. On the other side The8 watched all the movement of the other agents, when Mingyu and Wonwoo appeared walking towards him in a hurried manner.

“What happened?”, The8 asked.

“We have a problem”, Mingyu said in a low tone.

“On the beach behind the mansion there is a boat”, Wonwoo said in the same tone, “There are some guests there enjoying the party, but we think it might be an escape route.”

“Do you think they know we're here?”, The8 asked looking over to where Khalan was.

“Surely he knows”, Mingyu huffed, “Why else would a boat be running at the back of the mansion?”

“Tell Coups”, The8 said seeing Jun a little further ahead, “Jun and I are going to stay close to the exit of the mansion, one of you can come with us and the other helps Joshua with ChungHee.”

“I'll stay”, Mingyu said and Wonwoo nodded, “I'll let Coups know.”

The8 and Wonwoo went to talk to Jun, and Hoshi followed all that movement with his eyes. He looked at his watch and saw that it was less than five minutes before all the lights went out.

“Are you listening to me, Hajun?”, Doyun said snapping his fingers, attracting Hoshi's attention.

“I thought I saw Pranpriya coming back”, Hoshi said turning his attention to the man in front of him, “Sorry, what were you saying?”

 “I asked if you know anything about Yejun. I didn't hear from him and he didn't show up at the ball.”

“Oh yeah, I heard”, Hoshi said, seeing Coups walk past this one making the signal to start acting. With that he got up and sat down next to Doyun, who stared at him confused, “He even asked me to give you a message.”

“A message?”

“Yes”, Hoshi approached Doyun's ear, “He asked me to warn you that if you don't resist the arrest, your face will be less deformed than his face is right now.”

Doyun turned his head to face the agent who now had a smirk on his face, opening his suit to show his pinned badge. Even though he knew he shouldn't, Doyun tried to get up, but he sat back down with Baekho's strong grip on his shoulder. Sangwoo sat down where Hoshi was before and stared at the man with an irritating smile.

S.Coups saw the situation under control with Doyun and looked at his watch, counting the last few seconds until the generator was turned off and all the lights in the mansion were turned off. As soon as the lights go out and the music has stopped, some people scream in fright and especially when gunshots are heard.

Seungkwan quickly approached where Sana had crouched, taking advantage of Joshua and Mingyu jumping on top of ChungHee to try and contain him, and pulled her by the hand towards the food table. Quickly she got under the table and saw Woozi appear to pull her to the other side, running with her to the open window and shooting the first security guard who appeared to stop him.

“Jump to the other side and stay down!”, Woozi asked Sana who quickly obeyed. He got rid of another henchman who appeared and jumped out the window then, “Follow down to that van with the door open. The other two women are already there with government agents.”

“But what if-”

“Don't worry, I'll walk you there”, Woozi said to calm her down. Sana shook her head and kicked off her shoes to move better, following Woozi's instructions until she reached the van with the other agents dressed in black, “Please take the three of them to the ambulance down the block.”

“Yes, sir!”

The agents started the van and went to follow the order given. With that, Woozi ran back inside the mansion soon running into Seungkwan and Mingyu trying to contain ChungHee's various bodyguards while Joshua chased after him. Across the room, S.Coups, Vernon and Lisa followed together behind Khalan, taking down anyone who tried to slow them down.

“There's nowhere to run, Khalan!”, S.Coups yelled shooting at another security guard.

“That's what you think, kid!”, Khalan yelled back, pulling his gun and firing at the three agents who jumped out to dodge the bullets.

Outside the mansion, Jun noticed the movement of security guards leaving the mansion and drew his gun to try to contain them. Running through the sand he managed to attract the attention of at least three big guys, who ran to try to catch him. Seeing that, The8 didn't hesitate to run to where his boyfriend was, kick one's back and fall next to Jun who linked his arms to his boyfriend's and used his back to lift him up and start spinning in circles. With that move, The8 managed to give a kick in the face of each one with enough force to knock them unconscious in the sand.

“Wow!”, Jun said as he dropped his boyfriend into the sand, “That was awesome!”

“Are you crazy?!”, The8 asked patting the other's arm, “It was three against one, you idiot!”

“Can we focus on what we just did, please?”, Jun asked and The8 rolled his eyes.

“Be careful!”, The8 asked running back to the exit of the mansion to help Wonwoo. Jun smiled at that and grabbed his gun before running after him.

During all the confusion Wonwoo was surrounded by two big guys, but two shots saved him. Hoshi appeared at his side and together they ran to where S.Coups was still chasing Khalan. The8 and Jun were running with them, but the four gulped when they saw Khalan jump on the boat's loose rope and give two shots in the leader's chest, who fell to the sand.

“Cheol!”, Woozi's scream was heard even though he was behind them, and within seconds he was already running to where the leader was lying.

“Fuck!”, Hoshi yelled seeing the boat pull away, “Bastard!”

“Hoshi!”, Vernon yelled and the four saw the youngest appear with a speedboat, “Come in!”

“How did you get this?”, Wonwoo asked getting into the boat along with the other agents.

“Ask Lisa later”, Vernon said, speeding up the speedboat to follow Khalan's boat.

“See that?”, Hoshi pointed to a helicopter that was following the boat at a considerably low height, “That bastard was one step ahead.”

“That's a matter for later”, The8 said, propping his foot on the end of the boat, “Vernon come closer. We need to get the rope.”

Vernon nodded and maneuvered the boat until The8 managed to get the rope, jumping into the boat with Jun and Hoshi behind him. The three jumped behind some boxes when they heard gunfire. Gun in hand, they exchanged a few shots with the men inside the boat, and the more time passed, the closer the helicopter got to the boat.

Argh!”, Hoshi yelled and threw himself behind the box with his hand on his arm.

“Are you okay?”, Jun asked crouching next to the leader who nodded.

“It was a graze”, Hoshi said with difficulty, as his arm was burning like hell.

“Give me your gun”, The8 asked holding the leader's pistol, “Go back to the boat, Hoshi.”

“I'm not leaving you two here!”

“You're not going to help us bleeding”, Jun said grabbing the leader and throwing him back into the boat, “Wonwoo! He got shot!”

“I'll give you a warning, Wen Junhui!”, Hoshi yelled angrily.

“Jun, be careful!”, The8 said firing both pistols and managing to take down one of the men, “One down!”

“Two down!”, Jun yelled as he managed to hit another man, “The last one hid.”

“The boat has stopped moving”, The8 said hearing nothing but the sound of the helicopter under their heads, “He's going to run away, Jun.”

“No, he won't”, Jun said reloading the pistol and facing his panting boyfriend, “Go to the left and I'll go right.”

The8 nodded and put away one of the pistols, keeping only one in hand to make it easier to move. The two walked together, but each on one side of the boat, until they reached the cabin. Through the window he could see the last man hurriedly fiddling with something on the boat's carpet, and when he looked at Jun to make the entrance sign, he saw Vernon walk past them and up the stairs that led to the top of the cabin where Khalan probably would be.

“Damn it!”, The8 grumbled kicking the cabin door and firing two shots at the man who didn't have time to react, “Jun! Vernon climbed alone after Khalan!”

“This boy is going to kill me one day!”, Jun grumbled going up the stairs.

The8 entered the cabin and began to look for what the man was searching so much, and when he found it all he had to do was fall back with fright. There was a bomb set to go off in two minutes.

“Oh, that's not good”, The8 ran for the stairs and climbed as fast as he could, “Jun! Vernon!”

As soon as he reached the top of the stairs, he found Jun slumped with a hand on his ribs and Vernon having an intense fight with Khalan. When the gun was aimed, Vernon managed to catch it and twist the man's arm until he let go, using his knee to hit him three times in the stomach and then punch him in the nose, which brought a sharp cry of pain from Khalan.

“Give it up, you bastard!”, Vernon said throwing Khalan to the ground.

“If you want me, then kill me first, boy!” Khalan said kicking Vernon in the stomach so hard that made him fly off the boat, and fall into the water.

“Vernon!”, Hoshi and Wonwoo yelled from the boat.

Khalan looked at the fallen Jun moaning in pain and then at The8 on the ladder, smirking before grabbing the ladder that was hanging from the helicopter, and only then starting to fade out of sight. The8 climbed to the top of the cabin and ran to where Jun was, pulling him up and seeing no sign of blood.

“My rib”, Jun grumbled and The8 nodded, picking him up with some difficulty since Jun was taller than him, “What are you doing?”

“There's a bomb that will explode in less than a minute”, The8 said looking at the boat where Vernon had already returned, “Wonwoo! Get the boat out of here! This boat is going to explode!”

Wonwoo looked at his friend at the top of the cabin and saw him throw Jun into the sea. The8 went down the stairs and entered the cabin, seeing that there was only ten seconds left for that boat to explode. Without thinking too much he started the boat again and moved the gearshift forward, making the boat move quickly.

Five seconds was all that was left, so The8 ran out of the cabin and jumped into the sea at the same time the explosion happened.

The agents on the beach widened their eyes, frightened by the explosion and wondering if everyone had managed to escape.

Chapter Text

Bangkok, Thailand.

1:45 AM.

 

Jun emerged taking a deep breath and regretting it in the same second when he felt his ribs ache. He looked at some wreckage of the boat still on fire and others floating around him, and coming close to him Wonwoo was driving the speedboat.

“Jun! Are you okay?”, Wonwoo asked stopping the boat.

“Where's Minghao?”, Jun asked when he didn't see him in the boat, “He jumped, right?”

“I didn't see him jump, Jun”, Vernon said looking around.

“I know he jumped!”, Jun said looking around trying to find his boyfriend, “Minghao!”

“Jun you-”

“Hao!”, Jun yelled louder, ignoring the pain in his ribs. The desperation that rose in his chest was making his heart race, “Hao, where are you?!”

“Let's find him!”, Vernon said jumping into the water without thinking twice.

Jun dove in and started swimming as deep as he could, dodging some wreckage. He climbed up to breathe already feeling his eyes sting with anguished crying, unable to think about the possibility that The8 hadn't jumped off the boat.

“Hyung!”, Vernon yelled, attracting the three of them, “I found him!”

Jun swam to where Vernon was and Wonwoo followed him with the boat. When he got close he saw The8 unconscious with his head back, so he quickly grabbed him and climbed into the boat with the help of Wonwoo and Hoshi.

“He's not breathing”, Jun said laying his boyfriend on the floor of the boat and putting his ear to his chest to listen his heartbeat, “Shit... He's not breathing!”

“Jun let's take it easy now to try to revive him, okay?”, Hoshi asked kneeling beside The8.

Jun pressed his hands to The8's chest, starting the cardiac massage in the same way he had learned in training. He massaged ten times and bent down to try mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, returning to the cardiac massage.

“Come on, Hao”, Jun whispered feeling his throat burn, “Come on... Come back to me.”

Jun did mouth-to-mouth one more time, and this time it was enough for The8 to open his eyes and start coughing. Hoshi turned him on his side so he could spit out the water that was in his lungs, sighing in relief to see his friend breathing again.

“Hao, babe”, Jun said holding The8's face so he could face him, “Can you hear me?”

“Hm... you're calling me Hao again”, The8 said closing his eyes and Jun smiled at him, “Yes, Junnie. I can hear you.”

“All right! The cute pet names are back”, Hoshi said looking at Wonwoo and Vernon who smiled relieved at the two, “Let's go back to the beach, boys.”

Wonwoo drove the boat back to the beach, and when they reached the sand they could see the mess of police officers and ambulances as well as the other agents who ran to help them off the boat.

“I need a paramedic here!”, Jun said carrying The8 to one of the ambulances.

“Two, actually!”, Wonwoo asked helping Hoshi down from the boat with Mingyu running beside him.

“Are you okay?”

“Yes, but Hoshi got shot.”

“It was a graze!”, Hoshi muttered through his teeth, following one of the paramedics.

“Vernon! Are you hurt?”, Seungkwan appeared running with a towel in hand, quickly placing it on the American's shoulders.

“No, I'm fine”, Vernon said with a small smile, “What about you? Did someone hurt you?”

“No one dared to do that”, Seungkwan smiled in amusement.

“Good”, Vernon smiled and tightened the towel around his shoulders, “Is Coups alright?”

“Yes, the bullets hit the vest”, Seungkwan said pointing to the ambulance where the leader was sitting talking to Woozi.

“I’m glad he's alright”, Vernon said looking away from Seungkwan's eyes feeling a little embarrassed, because ever since breakfast he had wanted to invite the older one to spend the night with him, “Hm... Seungkwan-ah, I... I want to know if you-”

“Seungkwan-ah!”, Joshua called from one of the cars where Lisa and Sana were also.

“I'm coming!”, Seungkwan waved and faced the American, “What did you want to know?”

“Hm... Nothing important”, Vernon pressed his lips together, “You can go with them.”

“Okay... See you later?”, Seungkwan asked already walking away and Vernon nodded, So he ran to where Joshua and Lisa were, “What's wrong?”

“We've already finished interrogating her, so I think you can do the honors”, Joshua said with a smile.

“You can use this phone”, Lisa handed over a corporate cell phone.

Seungkwan took Momo's number he had saved on his cell phone and dialed it, hoping she wasn't asleep now. It took five rings until the call was answered, and Seungkwan could feel his stomach churn with anxiety.

“Hello?”, Momo's sleepy voice made Seungkwan smile.

“Good night, Momo. It's Seungkwan.”

“Oh, good night”, Momo said in surprise, “Did something happen?”

“Yes, but this time it's a good thing. Wait a minute”, Seungkwan said walking over to the car Sana was sitting in, “Sana? There’s someone who would like to talk to you.”

“Is it my wife?”, Sana asked hopefully and Seungkwan nodded with a smile, handing the woman his cell phone, “Momo?”

Seungkwan was slowly backing away to give her privacy, still glad to see the woman he had rescued smile and cry with relief. Vernon watched that scene from afar and opened a small smile, as he could imagine the suffering those two women had gone through in the last few months.

Vernon turned to the sea and sighed wearily, sitting on the sand and looking at where the boat had exploded a few minutes ago. He still couldn't believe he was so close to stopping Khalan, and yet he managed to get away once more. But maybe what was bothering him even more was the fact that he had let his guard down for just a second, and that second was enough for him to be thrown overboard.

“Hey, little man”, S.Coups's thick voice came through and Vernon saw the leader take a seat beside him, “Are you alright?”

“I'm mad, but what about you? How does it feel to be shot twice and not die?”, Vernon asked looking at the leader who was shirtless and had only a towel on his shoulders. It was possible to see two purple marks on the left side of the leader's chest.

“Oh, I'm fine”, S.Coups said like it was no big deal, “The new vests are really nice. But now I want to talk to you.”

“Will you scold me?”

“I'm not going to scold you, but I want to know why you're here alone looking at what's left of the boat.”

“I don't know, I…”, Vernon sighed and shook his head, “He was in my hand and I let him get away. Sorry if I failed, Coups.”

“You failed? Vernon, Khalan escaped because we all failed”, S.Coups said in a soft tone, “He had a fucking helicopter! I mean, he knew we'd be here.”

“But I-”

“Listen, I'm not talking as your leader now. I'm talking as your hyung”, S.Coups said putting his arm around the younger boy's shoulders, “I don't want to see you blaming yourself for something we couldn't predict. You were very brave today, and I'm pretty sure Khalan has a broken nose now.”

“It was a really nice punch”, Vernon agreed and S.Coups chuckled, “I'll try not to think about it anymore, hyung.”

“Fine. I said I wasn't going to scold you, but I think your field leader will”, S.Coups said pointing to an angry Hoshi who was walking towards the two.

“Oh boy…”

“Chwe Hansol!”, Hoshi called irritated, getting close enough to stand in front of the youngest, “I want to know what the fuck you were thinking when you disobeyed my order and just got on that boat alone?!”

“I'm sorry, Hoshi”, Vernon said sincerely, “I wanted to catch him and I didn't think about what might happen.”

“Of course you didn't!”, Hoshi ran a hand through his hair. There were few times the leader got angry, but when he did it was a little scary to watch, “It was a lost fight! When I saw you being thrown off that boat I thought you were dead, Vernon!”

“Sorry hyung”, Vernon said lowering his head, “It won't happen again.”

Hoshi looked at Vernon who still had his head down and then stared at S.Coups, the one who still had an arm around the youngest's shoulders and had a serene look in his eyes, as if he were trying to make him calm down and take it easy with the American. Hoshi rolled his eyes and sighed, bending down to be at Vernon's level and cupping his face in his hands.

“Don't you ever do that again, understand?”, Hoshi asked and Vernon nodded quickly, “I'm not going to lose an agent because he's just a rebellious boy who decides to disobey my orders. If you disobey me one more time, I'll leave you out of field operations for a long time as punishment, got it?”

“Got it, hyung”, Vernon replied firmly and Hoshi continued to stare at him for a few seconds, snorting and ruffling the younger boy's wet hair.

“Stop looking at me with those puppy eyes!”, Hoshi chuckled and Vernon smiled at him, “Now Coups, we need to talk about something.”

“What?”

“A fucking helicopter?!”, Hoshi asked indignantly opening his arms and grimacing because of the injury.

“Yeah, I know”, S.Coups sighed wearily, “But let's talk about it tomorrow. We got shot and deserved a break.”

“I can feel Woozi's glare in your direction”, Hoshi said seeing his friend staring at the leader's back.

“He's mad at me because he thought I was dead”, Coups said with a shrug, “But I'll deal with him later. How's The8 doing?”

“He’s alive”, Hoshi replied and Vernon looked at the ambulance where his friend was with Jun. He had an oxygen mask on his face and was paying attention to what the paramedic said, “I thought Jun would have a breakdown.”

“I think now they'll settle down”, Vernon said.

He shifted his gaze to Seungkwan, who was now talking to Baekho and Joshua but at times he also looked where he was and offered a smile. Vernon returned one of the smiles and got up, calling the two leaders to return home soon to finally rest.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Everyone walked back to the house in silence, both from fatigue and frustration at having lost Khalan again. Some dozed off on the way back and others just sat thoughtful, trying to figure out where they failed.

Still in silence, everyone went to their respective rooms in search of a bath and a proper rest. In one of the rooms, Jun let The8 in first and only then locked the door behind him, looking intently at his boyfriend who was leaving his suit still damp on one of the chairs.

The8 noticed the eyes of the older one and turned to face him, trying to decipher what he was thinking at that moment, because the only thing he didn't want was to have another fight.

“Are you feeling better?”, Jun asked in a low tone.

“Yes, the bad feeling is over.”

Jun shook his head and without saying anything walked over to where The8 was and pulled the body against his, hugging him tightly. The8 did not hesitate to put his arms around the eldest's neck and return the hug, the last few days had been terrible and what had happened that night was the culmination for both. Jun had his face glued to the youngest's neck, and all the anguish he suffered in the boat trying to make The8 breathe again was released with a sob and tears running down his face.

“Jun-ah... Don't cry”, The8 asked running his fingers through the older man's already dry hair, “It's alright now.”

“I was so scared, Hao”, Jun said on a sob, lifting his head, “You weren't breathing and... And I wasn't-”

“Shh”, The8 held Jun's face between his hands and used the thumbs to wipe the tears from his face, “You were great. Don't think about it please.”

“I'm sorry, Hao”, Jun pleaded squeezing the other's waist, “I was an idiot with you, and I shouldn't have said all those things... I'm so sorry, babe.”

“No, I'm the one who should apologize”, The8 said running his fingers through Jun's hair, “I didn't mean to be selfish, and I still ended up being one. I did hide some stuff from you, and that made these stupid fights start.”

“You know you can always tell me what you want, Hao.”

“I know, but it was different...”, The8 sighed seeing Jun's confused look. He pulled him to sit on the bed and held one of his hands in his lap, “Listen to me, okay? I know I'm a little bit hard to deal with sometimes, and I know I can be stupid and it may seem like I don't care enough about you, but please never doubt the love I feel for you, Jun. I love you with all my heart, and I'm not dating with you out of pity for what happened two years ago or something like that. You really made me fall in love with you, and I'm very happy by your side. So please, I beg you, never ever have any doubts about my feelings for you, okay?”

“Date with me out of pity?”, Jun asked with a grimace.

“Is that all you heard?”, The8 asked and saw Jun shake his head.

“Of course not, I heard every word you said”, Jun said still confused, “But why do you think I doubt your feelings? Or that I think you're with me out of pity?”

“I… I was just afraid you'd ever thought that.”

“I never thought about it”, Jun said firmly, “Why did you start thinking about these things?”

The8 did not respond. He wanted to say it all, but it was still difficult for him to talk about it knowing it would ruin Jun's friendship with Yanan. Jun saw the boyfriend look away and his fingers tighten between his hands, so it wasn't too hard to understand.

“Yanan told you these things”, Jun said and The8 closed his eyes, “Didn't he?”

“It was when we moved in”, The8 said quietly, looking at his fingers entwined with Jun's, “He said I didn't even love you and was dating you out of pity. That I should leave because I’d hurt you.”

“And who does he think he is to say that kind of thing to you?”, Jun asked and The8 could hear a slight irritated tone in his voice.

“Jun, that's not-”

“No, wait a minute!”, Jun interrupted, settling down on the bed, “The last few days I've noticed a different behavior, but I didn't think it was that. This is ridiculous, Hao! He has no right to say such things or try to mess up our relationship!”

“I know! I told him that, but what he said got stuck in my head and I started thinking about what I shouldn't.”

“Why didn't you tell me this before?”

“You two have been friends for years, and I didn't want to spoil it”, The8 said simply, shrugging, “I have no right to mess up your friendship.”

“And he has the right to mess up our relationship?”

“I thought I could prove him wrong and show that I make you happy.”

“Oh my God, what am I listening to...”, Jun sighed and shook his head, taking a seat closer to his boyfriend, “You don't need to prove anything to anyone, Hao. I know you love me and care about me without you having to say the three words all the time.”

“Really?”

“Of course I do!”, Jun smiled, “For example, you know I hate getting up early with alarm clocks, so you always leave your cell phone to wake up first on the vibrate under your pillow so I don't wake up.”

“You really have a bad mood in the morning.”

“When you cook something, you always put extra pepper on my plate because you know I like spicier things”, Jun smiled brightly as he spoke, “You don't like sour things, but you always leave a lemon wedge in my glass. You don't like to talk a lot before bed, but you always listen to me. You made a huge effort to get that plastic crown for my birthday, Hao!”

“But you wanted one”, The8 said quietly and Jun felt like squeezing his cheeks at the cuteness.

“You try hard all the time, and you show that you love me by doing these little things”, Jun smiled and patted The8's earring, “You wouldn't pay so much attention to me if you didn't love me. So please, never let those kinds of thoughts take over again, and if they do, don't hesitate to talk to me!”

“I promise to do this”, The8 smiled and brought a hand to the older man's face, “I'm sorry I hid it from you.”

“It’s fine. I'm sorry I was childish and stupid to you all week.”

“Can we stop fighting?”, The8 asked tiredly. Jun smiled at him and took the hand that was on his face, leaving a kiss on the palm.

“We've just come to an end now”, Jun cocked his head to the side which made The8 smile at him, “I missed you.”

“I missed you too”, The8 giggled and finally kissed Jun after all this time, “Don't you ever be silent for so long again.”

“So you admit that you like my exaggerated talk?”, Jun asked, leaning his hands on the bed and approaching The8 who was laying down on the bed.

“I didn’t say that.”

“Yes, you did.”

“I did not!”

“Then say you love me!”, Jun asked, passing his legs over his boyfriend's body, leaving him trapped in bed.

“Again?”, The8 asked, smiling as he saw Jun pouted, “I love you.”

“I love you what?”, Jun asked whining and The8 rolled his eyes.

“I love you, Junnie.”

“Now the world is making sense again!”, Jun yelled, kissing the lips he had missed so much again, “I love you too.”

It was the first time in nearly two weeks that the two of them had felt happy again, knowing they wouldn't have to be apart or ignoring each other.

In the other room, Seungkwan came out of the bathroom wearing only a boxer and a towel over his shoulders that he was using to dry his hair. He was tired, but not sleepy, after all that operation had consumed all his concentration and left him aware of everything around him.

He finished drying his hair and ran his fingers through it so he could do it the way he wanted, used his favorite lotion and went back to the bedroom to finish dressing but when he finished putting on his shorts, he heard a light knock on the door.

Seungkwan opened the door and raised his eyebrows in surprise to see Vernon standing there with his hands in his shorts pocket. The American had just come out of the shower too and he could tell by the damp hair falling out of his eyes, and also by the smell that only he had.

“Hey”, Seungkwan said leaning his arm on the door.

“Hi... Did I wake you up?”

“No, I just got out of the shower actually.”

“Oh yeah”, Vernon nodded looking at the other's exposed chest, “I was thinking and I realized I didn't ask how you're feeling. You know, after your first official mission.”

“Oh! I’m alright?”, Seungkwan said frowning, “A little tired but I think I did a good job.”

“Well, Sana is safe and I heard Joshua saying that you and Mingyu were too important to contain some guys, so he could arrest ChungHee”, Vernon smiled and saw Seungkwan press his lips together in embarrassment.

“Yeah, that was really good. I confess”, Seungkwan chuckled looking back at the American, “And you? I saw the scolding Hoshi gave you on the beach, with reason by the way.”

“I deserved it”, Vernon shook his head, “I was irresponsible, but that wasn't the worst scolding I've ever had.”

“Have you had a worse scold?”

“Oh yeah”, Vernon smiled upon seeing Seungkwan's curious expression, “But that's a story for later.”

“Do you hate me?”, Seungkwan asked narrowing his eyes, making Vernon chuckle, “How am I going to sleep now that you've got me curious?”

“With a lot of effort”, Vernon said pulling away, “Go to sleep, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Boring!”, Seungkwan grumbled and closed the door, listening to the American's laugh.

Seungkwan leaned against the door and sighed, thinking how much he wanted to keep talking to Vernon but didn't know how to do it, after all he could be tired and wanting to sleep. When he released the door handle to step away, another knock was heard and he quickly opened the door, bumping into Vernon again.

“Sorry, but I forgot something”, Vernon said eagerly biting his lip.

“What?”

Seungkwan asked looking at the American's red lips and then at his eyes again, feeling an absurd urge to kiss him. And as if reading his thoughts, Vernon pushed him into the room and closed the door, holding his waist tightly and leaning him against the door before kissing the lips he wanted so badly.

That kiss was very similar to the one they had in Vernon's room in the afternoon, but for Seungkwan it was even better since one of the American's hands was squeezing his waist while the other went down to his ass, squeezing and pulling his body against his.

“I've been wanting to do this ever since you called me ‘handsome man' at the party”, Vernon said against Seungkwan's lips, leaving one more peck before trailing kisses down his neck.

“Did I say that?”, Seungkwan asked closing his eyes and pulling lightly on the American's hair when he felt a bite on his neck, “Well, I didn't lie.”

“You are very sassy, Seungkwan”, Vernon lifted his head and stared into Seungkwan's dark eyes. He moved the hand that was still on the waist to his ass, squeezing and pulling the hip against his.

“And you like it”, Seungkwan pulled Vernon's bottom lip between his teeth and smiled before going back to kissing him.

That was not such a hot night as the previous one, but the temperature of the bodies was growing so quickly because of that kiss and the hands passing freely over the bodies, that both could feel a wave of heat forming inside of them.

Seungkwan rested his hands on Vernon's chest, pushing him back without breaking the kiss until he found the bed and sat down, pulling Seungkwan by the thighs to sit on his lap. Seungkwan made himself comfortable on Vernon's lap and moaned against his lips when he felt the evident erection collide with his own, bringing back flashbacks of the dream he had the night before.

Running his hands down his back, Seungkwan pulled the black T-shirt Vernon was wearing and broke the kiss so he could take it off and toss it to the side. Vernon threw himself on his back on the bed and pulled Seungkwan along, and now kissing him with the warm skins touching was making Seungkwan feel that famous discomfort in his boxers again.

“Want to know something interesting?”, Seungkwan asked lowering kisses to Vernon's neck.

“What?”, Vernon asked closing his eyes when he felt Seungkwan's lips on his chest.

“I had a dream about you last night”, Seungkwan left a light bite on Vernon’s abs, smiling when he saw him twitch, “And it was really hot.”

“Really?”, Vernon asked opening his eyes and looking down, seeing Seungkwan continue to trail kisses down his abs until he bumped into the hem of his shorts, “And... And what I was doing?”

“What I’m about to do right now.”

Seungkwan straightened his knees on the mattress and pulled Vernon’s shorts down, feeling his ego inflate a little from the large volume in the white boxers. He bent down and without breaking eye contact pressed his lips to the member over the fabric, seeing that Vernon held his breath he did it again, and again, sinking his teeth into the hem of the boxers and pulling it down with the help of his hands until the cock was fully exposed.

Vernon rested his elbows on the mattress and lifted his torso, seeing Seungkwan not hesitate to bring his cock to his mouth. The sensation of having Seungkwan's warm mouth slowly sucking his cock made him throw his head back and release the moan that was trapped in his throat.

“Oh shit…”, Vernon moaned, looking back at Seungkwan, “You're so fucking good at this.”

Seungkwan felt his ego being inflated again with the moans of pleasure that Vernon released, and with that he began to suck it more willingly. Vernon brought one of his hands up to Seungkwan's head, holding his brown hair between his fingers and moving his hips to aid the movement.

“Oh fuck!”, Vernon moaned through his teeth and grabbed Seungkwan's head, making him drop his cock, “Stop it now, please.”

“I thought you were enjoying it”, Seungkwan said with a small pout, taking one of his hands to keep masturbating Vernon’s cock.

“I am, but I don't want to come now”, Vernon held the other's head with both hands and bit the pout Seungkwan was doing, “I want to make you come first.”

That phrase made Seungkwan's erection tighten again in his boxers. In a quick movement Vernon threw the older one on the bed and finished taking off his shorts and boxers that were on his knees, getting back on top of Seungkwan and kissing his lips hornier than before. Seungkwan lifted his hips so that Vernon could take off the rest of his clothes and throw them around the room like the others, wrapped his legs around his waist and moaned against his lips when he felt Vernon’s cock touch his own.

“You're very handsome, did you know that?”, Vernon asked leaning one hand on the mattress and bringing the other to Seungkwan's cock, massaging it slowly, “And very hot too, especially your ass.”

“And you think I've never seen you looking at my ass?”, Seungkwan smirked, moving his hips against Vernon's hand.

“Does it feel good?”, Vernon asked kissing the neck that was already starting to get sweaty from the heat. Seungkwan moaned in response and Vernon smiled, biting the older man's earlobe, “Do you want me to continue or put it inside?”

“Inside, Vernon”, Seungkwan replied on a moan, pulling Vernon's hair between his fingers, “I want you inside me.”

Vernon got on his knees on the bed and reached over to the nightstand, he opened the drawer hoping every room had condoms, and he was right. Ripping the package with his teeth he took the condom off and put it on his cock, watching Seungkwan watch every move he made while he masturbated his own cock. Vernon watched that scene for a few seconds, having Seungkwan lying beneath him, his hair messed up and having only the bathroom light illuminating the room seemed like one of his dreams come true.

Supporting a hand beside Seungkwan's head he bent down, kissing him with all the desire he felt at that moment and with his free hand guided his cock to Seungkwan's ass, entering slowly because he didn't know when was the last time the older would’ve had sex.

Seungkwan moaned against Vernon's lips, pressing his fingers into his back as if pulling Vernon closer to him. When Vernon was completely inside, he let out the contained moan, squeezing his eyes shut at the wonderful feeling he was having at that moment.

Moving his hips Vernon went in and out slowly, feeling how much Seungkwan's ass squeezed his cock. Now he had both hands resting on the mattress and he had eyes fixed on Seungkwan's face, finding him extremely attractive with a few strands of hair stuck to the forehead because of the sweat, his cheeks red and his lower lip between his teeth showing how much he I was enjoying what Vernon was doing.

“Are you okay?”, Vernon asked quietly, still moving his hips.

Seungkwan just shook his head and opened his mouth on a louder moan as Vernon went deeper, again scratching the American's back in pleasure. He could not remember the last time he had felt as much pleasure as at that time, and the pleasure was so much that he felt his cock pulsate even if it was not being touched.

“Shit...”, Seungkwan moaned throwing his head against the pillow and staring into Vernon's watchful eyes, “Faster, Vernon.”

“Say my name again”, Vernon urged, gripping the sheet between his fingers and starting to move his hips faster.

“Oh fuck!”, Seungkwan moaned in a cry, taking his hands off the American's back and grabbing the messy sheet, “Just like this, Vernon!”

Hearing his name moaned like that made a wave of pleasure so strong grow through his body, so Vernon began to move his hips harder, feeling that pleasurable sensation in his cock.

“God… fuck me!”

Vernon moaned along with Seungkwan when he heard that, getting on his knees again and lifting the older man's hips to get a better angle, pounding faster than before. The sounds of skin on skin, mattress shifting and their moans filled the room, and neither of them was wondering if anyone in the next room could hear them right now.

“You're so fucking good, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon said taking one last time, making Seungkwan moan through his teeth and stare at him seriously.

“Don't stop!”, Seungkwan asked trying to move his hips, but being stopped again by the American.

“Turn around”, Vernon asked with a smirk.

Seungkwan was so horny that he didn't even hesitate to do what the American had asked, leaning his knees and hands on the mattress just waiting for the next contact. Both were breathing fast, but Vernon could have sworn he stopped breathing for a second when he saw Seungkwan so exposed to him.

Holding the oldest waist, Vernon guided his cock into Seungkwan again. Having the ass he had so longed for pushing against his cock was one of the best things he had ever seen and felt, so he gripped Seungkwan's waist tighter and went back to pound as before, slapping his butt.

Again”, Seungkwan asked in a moan, looking over his shoulder, “Slap me again, Vernon.”

Vernon felt his balls tighten with Seungkwan staring at him like that and asking him to slap his ass again, and that's what he did, again and again. Seungkwan threw his head back smiling satisfied, bringing a hand to his own cock and making quick movements. He could feel that familiar sensation in his balls, and the moans getting louder made Vernon realize that and grip Seungkwan's shoulders so that he could pound with more force, easily finding Seungkwan's most sensitive spot.

Fuck Vernon! Right there!”, Seungkwan moaned feeling his legs tremble, speeding up the movements in his own cock, “I'm so close!”

“You're going to make me come with you”, Vernon moaned pulling Seungkwan's shoulders until his chest was pressed against his sweaty back. Wrapping an arm around his neck to keep him close, Vernon pressed his lips to the older man's ear, “Come on Seungkwan-ah... Come for me.”

With one last and long moan Seungkwan came all over the sheet beneath him, feeling his legs shake so much that he fell to the mattress. Vernon went down with him, taking just a few more thrusts before filling the condom. He kept his eyes closed and his face buried in Seungkwan's sweaty neck, feeling his heart beat so fast he thought it would rip his chest apart at some point.

After a few minutes Vernon finally moved, slowly getting out of Seungkwan, taking off the dirty condom and throwing it into the bathroom. He threw his body into the empty space on the bed, running a hand through his hair and letting out a long sigh, completely satisfied with what they had just done.

“Fuck! That was...”

“Amazing!”, Seungkwan replied with his face still on the pillow, which made his voice muffled and Vernon chuckled.

“Are you alive?”

“I'm wondering the same thing”, Seungkwan raised his head and faced the American, “I think I'm in another dimension.”

“God, you're wrecked”, Vernon chuckled, propping an arm on the mattress and bringing his free hand to Seungkwan's messy hair.

“You did this to me!”

“You asked!”

“And I don't regret it”, Seungkwan chuckled, turning over on the mattress and grimacing as he looked down, “Shit! I need to change this sheet and take another shower.”

“I need it too”, Vernon said stepping closer and placing a kiss on the older man's jaw, “Why don't we leave this dirty sheet over there and take a shower together? What do you think?”

“Are you that horny?”, Seungkwan asked getting a kiss on the neck.

“Don't you want to?”, Vernon asked, turning back to face him.

“I didn't say that”, Seungkwan pointed out, leaving a peck on the American's lips before getting up and heading to the bathroom, “I'm not going to get this condom, Vernon. Take care of it.”

Vernon smiled and grabbed another condom from the nightstand drawer, running to the bathroom after Seungkwan. After all, that night was a little far from over.

Chapter Text

Bangkok, Thailand.

11:32 AM.

 

The sound of the cell phone ringing was what woke Seungkwan that morning. Slowly he opened his eyes, closing them quickly because of the clarity in the room, cursing himself for not having closed the curtain before. Turning over in bed, he reached out and reached for his cell phone on top of the nightstand, sliding his finger across the screen without even seeing who was calling.

“What?”, Seungkwan said in a mumble, laying his head down on the pillow again.

“Were you still sleeping?”, Seokmin asked with a laugh, “You are unbelievable.”

“I went to bed late yesterday”, Seungkwan cleared his throat, “What happened?”

“I have news! Well, it's about Chan, but it's news.”

“Can you stop?!”, Chan yelled in the background and Seungkwan smiled.

“What did he do?”

“Chan has a new paired school assignment, and guess who his pair will be?”, Seokmin had a teasing tone, which made Seungkwan let out a nasal laugh.

“His new crush!”

“She's not my crush!”, Chan yelled closer to the cell phone now, “You guys are ridiculous! It's just a school assignment!”

“She's coming here for the weekend to get started”, Seokmin said ignoring the younger boy's complaints, “Will you be here yet?”

“I think so”, Seungkwan said sitting up in bed, “I can't miss this moment.”

“I hate you two!”, Chan yelled and Seokmin laughed, seeing the youngest push the chair into the bedroom.

“I think someone is nervous”, Seungkwan chuckled.

“He'll calm down in a bit”, Seokmin said nonchalantly, “And how are you? Are you eating well?”

“Yes, I'm eating well”, Seungkwan heard a movement beside him and turned his head in alarm, finding Vernon still asleep on the bed, “Oh crap!”

“What's it?”

“Nothing!”, Seungkwan said quickly, seeing Vernon hug the pillow and sigh, “I... I tripped over my suitcase, that's all.”

“Be careful”, Seokmin chuckled, “Don't forget to wear sunscreen, since it must be pretty hot in there.”

“Yeah, pretty hot”, Seungkwan agreed, looking at Vernon's exposed back. He shook his head and ran his hand over his face, “Hyung, I need to take a shower and change.”

“Alright, go ahead. Text me later, so I know you're alive.”

“Okay. Talk to you later, hyung.”

“Talk to you later!”

Seungkwan ended the call and left his cell phone on the nightstand again, looking at the American beside him and remembering everything they did last night. It was possible to notice some red marks on the white skin of Vernon's back, which made Seungkwan's cheeks burn.

“What time is it?”, Vernon asked sleepily, opening his eyes to stare at the older man.

“Almost noon”, Seungkwan replied pulling the sheet to cover some of his nudity.

“Are you embarrassed?”, Vernon asked trying to pull the sheet from Seungkwan's lap, the one who quickly pulled it back, “You weren't embarrassed last night.”

“Last night was... different!”, Seungkwan said standing up with the sheet still around his waist, “I thought you went back to your room last night.”

“Did you wish I had gone back to my room?”, Vernon asked sitting up, not really bothering to cover himself.

“No! I mean, I didn't mean that”, Seungkwan stammered, grabbing a pillow and throwing it at the American when he saw him laugh, “Stop it, Vernon!”

“That's not what you said last night either”, Vernon chuckled picking up his boxers from the floor to wear. Seungkwan opened his mouth to respond, but closed it again, “You look adorable all embarrassed, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Shut up!”, Seungkwan grumbled taking his boxers.

“Why are you so nervous?”, Vernon asked pulling on his shorts and stepping closer to where the other was standing, “It's not like we've committed a crime.”

“It wasn't a crime, but it was inappropriate”, Seungkwan finished putting on his boxers and felt more comfortable now.

“Didn’t you like it?”

“That's not what I said!”, Seungkwan held up his finger, “It was very good, you’re very good actually.”

“Thanks. You were great both times too”, Vernon crossed his arms, and smiled when he saw Seungkwan's cheeks turn red again, “I'm making you uncomfortable, so I'm going back to my room.”

“No, wait!”, Seungkwan grabbed the American's arm before he opened the door, “I didn't mean to be rude.”

“You weren't rude, don't worry”, Vernon put on the black T-shirt, “I'm finding you pretty cute actually.”

“Stop making me more embarrassed!”, Seungkwan whimpered covering his face with his hands and Vernon laughed, reaching over to grab the older man's arms.

“Sorry”, Vernon moved closer, being stopped with Seungkwan's hands on his chest, “What's wrong?”

“What the hell are you doing?”

“I was about to kiss you”, Vernon said trying to get closer again, but this time Seungkwan put a finger to the American's lips.

“Are you crazy?!”, Seungkwan asked, seeing Vernon arch an eyebrow, “I won't kiss you with morning breath! What do you think I am?”

“Is this serious?”, Vernon asked, his voice a little muffled by the finger on his lips.

“Very serious.”

“You know I kissed you yesterday right after you sucked-”

“Shut up!”, Seungkwan interrupted, holding the back of the American's head and feeling even more embarrassed when Vernon smirked and kissed his finger, “Don’t-”

“Okay then”, Vernon interrupted taking Seungkwan's finger from his lips, and pulling him against his own body by the waist. Seungkwan was about to object but stopped when he felt the American's lips touch his ear, “I'll take care of it later.”

With that said, Vernon placed a kiss on Seungkwan's neck and with one last smile left the room. Seungkwan continued to stand by the door with his lips parted and trying to think correctly, feeling the place where Vernon had kissed tingle.

“My dear God”, Seungkwan sighed, touching his neck.

After composing himself, Seungkwan grabbed the towel from his suitcase and headed towards the bathroom in search of a cold shower. He dropped his head under the cold water and closed his eyes, automatically remembering all the places Vernon had touched and kissed the night before. And then he suddenly started to laugh, still numb from the lightness Vernon had installed in his body.

Seungkwan didn't take long in the shower, but he took a bit of trouble cleaning the room and changing the bed sheets, ignoring the burning in his cheeks as he put the dirty sheets in the hamper inside the bathroom.

Only after tidying everything up and getting his cell phone did he leave the room, finding the hallways empty and some voices downstairs. Downstairs he found the front door open and Wonwoo passing in the background, then following the older man he found a large table on the front porch that gave access to a nice view of the beach.

“Good morning”, Seungkwan said approaching, finding almost all the agents sitting at the table.

“Good morning, Seungkwan-ah!”, Hoshi said with a smile. Seungkwan noticed that he had his right arm resting on the table while Lisa redressed his shoulder, “Did you get some rest?”

“Oh yes! I had a lot of rest”, Seungkwan nodded quickly, taking a seat next to the leader, “How's your shoulder?”

“It still hurts but it's better”, Hoshi said looking at the new bandage, “My date took good care of me.”

“Oh honey, it was a pleasure”, Lisa joked, gathering up the things she used.

“Stay still, Seungcheol!”, Woozi grumbled, drawing their attention.

“But it hurts, Hoonie!”

S.Coups sat shirtless while Woozi applied some kind of medicine to the bruises the bullets left on his chest. Woozi still had a scowl, but he looked less angry than he was the night before, which was a relief to both as it was one less couple fighting on the team.

“Are they okay?”, Seungkwan asked quietly just for Hoshi to hear.

“Yes, they are”, Hoshi chuckled, pouring juice into two glasses, “Coups looks like a child who needs to be taken care of sometimes, so Woozi can't be mad at him for very long.”

“That’s good”, Seungkwan smiled and looked at the beach, seeing Jun and The8 up ahead with Mingyu between them saying something, “What are they doing?”

“I have no idea”, Hoshi said with curiosity, his eyes widening as Mingyu stepped out from between them and they started to fight, “Wow!”

“Are they fighting again?”, Seungkwan asked worriedly, resting his hands on the table ready to get up.

“They're practicing”, Wonwoo said nonchalantly, “They talked last night and fell back in love.”

“Really? Ah finally!”, Hoshi sighed in relief drinking some of the orange juice, “I couldn't take it anymore having to deal with a serious Junhui. It's no fun ordering him and having him obey at first without grumbling or imitating me.”

“Well, The8's sour mood stayed the same, so we didn't see any difference”, Woozi said while running his fingers through S.Coups' hair, the one who buttoned up a flowered shirt, “Are you really going to wear this shirt?”

“We're on the beach babe, so I'm in the mood”, S.Coups smiled and squeezed the shorter one's thigh, glad when he saw Woozi roll his eyes.

“Hey guys”, Baekho said just sticking his head out the door, “Lunch arrived. Somebody comes help me get everything.”

“I will”, Woozi said getting up and pulling Wonwoo with him, “You're coming too.”

Wonwoo, who didn't have time to respond, just left the book on the table and followed the leader. S.Coups followed the three with his eyes until they disappeared from his field of vision, then he turned to Lisa who was in front of him typing something on her cell phone.

“Lisa-ya, I need some help”, S.Coups said leaning his arms on the table and the Thai girl raised her head curiously, “Is there somewhere nearby I can take Jihoon tonight?”

“Be more specific”, Lisa set her cell phone on the table and arched an eyebrow, “You say a restaurant or a motel?”

“Lisa!”, S.Coups grumbled when he saw Seungkwan and Hoshi laugh, “I say something romantic.”

“Now you're being specific”, Lisa chuckled propping her chin on a hand thoughtfully, “Let me think... Ah! You can rent a space on this beach anyway.”

“Really? Tell me more.”

“A little further in that direction there's a pier, right? There's a really nice restaurant over there, and you can book one of the tables near the sea”, Lisa explained seeing the leader's excited eyes, “If you say it's a special occasion, they might even put some candles around it.”

“It's perfect! Jihoon loves these candlelit dinners.”

“Does he like it?”, Seungkwan asked surprised seeing the leader nod with a smile, “Oh... I would never think that.”

“Jihoon is very romantic”, S.Coups said, and Hoshi made a disgusted face, “Will you help me book a table, Lisa?”

“Yeah, we can go there after lunch”, Lisa smiled getting up when she saw the boys approaching with lunch.

“Thanks”, S.Coups smiled, getting up to help Woozi with the bags, “Hoshi and Seungkwan, please go call the boys on the beach.”

The two nodded, grabbed the towels from a chair and walked to the beach together. Seungkwan felt a nice shiver with the hot sand between his fingers, and Hoshi seemed to have felt the same with the giggles he let out.

Jun and The8 had already stopped practicing some fighting move and ran to the sea taking the opportunity to have a moment of their own. Mingyu was also at the sea, but a little farther away with Joshua and Vernon.

“Boys and love birds! Come have lunch!”, Hoshi shouted and the five obeyed.

Jun and The8 were the first to get out of the sea, taking the towels Hoshi was holding. Mingyu ran across the sand and ruffled his wet hair on top of Seungkwan to play with him, getting the towel on his face. Seungkwan chuckled at his friend and looked straight ahead, breaking his smile when he saw Joshua approaching and Vernon close behind.

Vernon had wet shorts glued to his body, and a few drops of water trickled down his chest and abs while he ran his hands through his hair, leaving it messy over his eyes. Seungkwan gulped at the sight and shook his head, feeling a shiver in his stomach. Vernon noticed that and smiled to himself, liking the idea of making the older one look at him the same way he had last night.

“Thank you, Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua smiled and grabbed a towel to quickly dry his face.

“Yeah... You're welcome, hyung”, Seungkwan said when the older one walked away, leaving only the damn American in front of him, “Take it.”

“Thanks”, Vernon smiled as he took the towel.

“Stop smiling like that”, Seungkwan said narrowing his eyes.

“Like what?”

“You're smiling like last night”, Seungkwan said walking back to the balcony, but soon Vernon was at his side again.

“Hm... I don't know what you're talking about”, Vernon chuckled holding the older man's arm, “Have you brushed your teeth? You know, I still want to kiss you today.”

“I'm not kissing you in front of everyone, Vernon”, Seungkwan said staring into the amused eyes of the American closest to him now, “And go put on a t-shirt.”

“But I'm comfortable like this”, Vernon smiled tilting his head to the side, “And it's making you nervous, so I'll stay this way for now.”

“Idiot”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes pushing against the American's chest, walking back to the table where everyone was already serving themselves and ignoring Vernon's laugh behind him.

S.Coups announced that everyone could take the day off to rest or enjoy the beach, which was a relief for everyone. Seungkwan could feel some of Vernon's eyes on him during lunch, and it wasn't like he didn't stare at the American either, but even so he knew that it was going to be a long day.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Bangkok, Thailand.

6:20 PM.

 

That afternoon went by faster than they could have imagined, but each of the agents took advantage of the break in their own way. Seungkwan and Hoshi found a volleyball net and a ball in the pool area, so they didn’t hesitate to set it up on the beach in front of the big house, calling Mingyu and Baekho to run to help them. Sangwoo and Joshua also joined them, leaving the sport-less to enjoy the sun or the covered porch.

They split into two teams and started playing, and the team with Mingyu, Baekho and Seungkwan was being more chaotic than anything else. The8 and Wonwoo who were sitting in the chairs on the porch had a good laugh with Seungkwan scolding Mingyu every time he missed a move.

Vernon watched everything from the sea, since Jun didn't want to swim alone. He didn't even notice when a smile spread across his lips as he watched Seungkwan play, laugh and scold Mingyu. The only time the smile faded was when Baekho took off the cap he was wearing and placed it on Seungkwan's head, adjusting so that the sun didn't get in his way.

Ignoring that Vernon went back to swimming with Jun, not taking long to get out of the sea to put some sunscreen since his shoulders were burning. With the towel around his shoulders, he sat down next to Wonwoo, following with his eyes when S.Coups walked out of the house hand in hand with Woozi giving the excuse that he just wanted to walk along the beach in that beautiful sunset.

Vernon watched the two leaders walk casually along the beach, wondering if he would ever do that too.

And he wasn't the only one watching the two leaders walk.

“It's mine!”, Seungkwan yelled attracting Vernon's attention again, “Mingyu-ah!”

“It's yours!”, Mingyu yelled raising the ball.

When Mingyu raised the ball, everyone stopped to see what would happen, since he clearly had raised it too high for Seungkwan to reach. With that in mind, Baekho ran to where the youngest was and grabbed his legs, lifting him high enough so that Seungkwan could hit the ball hard and score the point.

Vernon gulped at that scene.

Yah! That doesn't count!”, Hoshi yelled taking the ball from the sand.

“And since when do we put rules here?”, Baekho asked putting Seungkwan in the sand again.

“Match point, Hoshi!”, Seungkwan yelled back to his position with an amused smile.

Hoshi grunted angrily and handed the ball back, so Seungkwan could serve. The ball flew back over the net and landed in Sangwoo's hands, who raised it for Joshua to finish, but Mingyu made the block that secured the last point.

“You finally got it right, I can't believe it!”, Seungkwan ran to jump on the back of his friend who was pretending to be emotional.

“After missing all the blocks, finally a victory, Mingyu-ah!”, Baekho chuckled shaking Mingyu's hair.

“Yes kids, don't give up on your dreams”, Mingyu said raising an arm and Seungkwan laughed, pushing his back.

Yah! Losers can collect everything”, Seungkwan said facing Hoshi, “And watch your shoulder, Hoshi.”

“I'll wrap you in this net, boy!”, Hoshi said through gritted teeth, making Joshua laugh and pulling him to unmounts the net.

“I'm wrecked!”, Mingyu said running a hand over his sweaty face, “I think I'll take one last dip just to cool off.”

“I'll go with you, and then we can make something to eat”, Baekho said, taking off his tank top and throwing it in the sand before running with Mingyu out to the sea.

Seungkwan raised his eyebrows when he saw Baekho take off his tank top and showed his muscular body, surprised that he was even more defined than he thought. Seungkwan didn't want to follow them in the dive, but at least he would walk along the edge of the sea, which was at a good temperature.

That late afternoon a cool breeze was present to cool them down a bit, which Seungkwan was internally grateful for. He closed his eyes when he felt the first wave crash into his feet, enjoying the good feeling that all that moment was bringing.

He wished his brothers were there with him right now, knowing they would enjoy it as much as he did.

“Am I disturbing your thoughts?”, Vernon asked softly but with a playful tone, stopping beside Seungkwan.

“No, you're not”, Seungkwan smiled and opened his eyes to face the American, “I was just thinking how nice it would be to have my brothers here now.”

“You can bring them here one day. I'm sure they'll like it”, Vernon said and smiled, “And Chan will be walking with you.”

“Of course, he will”, Seungkwan started walking again, and Vernon didn't hesitate to follow him, “Did you come here just to ask what I was thinking?”

“I actually came to get you this”, Vernon held out the water bottle, “It's hot and you guys played quite a game now, so I thought you were thirsty.”

“A lifesaver, that's what you are”, Seungkwan took the bottle and Vernon chuckled at what he had said, “Thank you.”

“It was nothing”, Vernon shrugged and put his hands in the pockets of his shorts.

The two of them were silent for a moment just enjoying the breeze and the waves against their feet, thinking more than twice about what to say to each other.

“Look I-”, Both said at the same time and ended up laughing embarrassed.

“You first”, Vernon said looking down at his feet.

“I just, you know, wanted to talk about last night”, Seungkwan said playing with the bottle cap in his hands.

“Last night… right”, Vernon bit his lip, feeling all his confidence slip away, “Do you… do you regret it?”

“Of course not”, Seungkwan replied as he stopped walking, facing Vernon, “I don't regret anything, Vernon.”

“Oh good”, Vernon chuckled in relief, “I was afraid I forced you into something you didn't want to do.”

“Don't think about it. We did what we felt like doing”, Seungkwan looked into the American's eyes, the same ones that were now light brown from the sun, “I just thought about the possibility that it was too fast, you know?”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean, we've known each other for a little over a month and we've already ended up in bed”, Seungkwan said squeezing the bottle in his hands, feeling embarrassed to talk about it even more with Vernon staring intently at him, “I just thought maybe we-”

“Should get to know each other a little more?”, Vernon asked, pressing his lips into a small smile.

“Exactly that”, Seungkwan chuckled in relief, “I'm not saying I didn't like it, or that I don't want to do it again, I'm just saying I wanted us to get to know each other better. Do you understand what I mean?”

“Yes, I understand”, Vernon chuckled at the older boy's nervousness, “And that's what I wanted to talk to you about. I mean, we clearly understand each other and, to be honest, we had good chemistry in bed.”

“Oh, for sure we did”, Seungkwan agreed drinking some more water, feeling embarrassed by the look Vernon was giving him.

“I also want to get to know you more”, Vernon put his hands in his shorts pocket, bumping his shoulder lightly against the older one, “I like your company.”

“I like your company too, Vernonie”, Seungkwan teased, seeing the American narrow his brown eyes, “I'm kidding.”

“I don't care if you call me that”, Vernon said as he started walking again, but this time back to the house.

“Really?”

Vernon smirked and kicked some water on Seungkwan's legs, running when he saw the older one running after him also kicking some water trying to wet him. That little run of the two that late afternoon by the sea seemed more like a movie scene, with both laughing and having fun in their own way.

“I'm so glad he's having fun again”, Joshua said with a content smile as he watched the two friends run across the sand.

“He looks like a different person”, Sangwoo said also watching that scene, “I'm glad he's not suffering.”

Joshua glared at the older man and nodded, pulling him into the house. After all, they still had to put away the volleyball net.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Bangkok, Thailand.

10:35 PM.

 

“Let me get this straight”, Seungkwan said taking more popcorn to his mouth, “The handsome one doesn't want to sleep with the cute one, even he's desperate for some attention. Is that it?”

“He's afraid he's pushing something too fast actually”, Lisa explained, pulling her hair into a bun.

“Understandable, but the cutest one has already made it clear that he wants to give himself to him”, Mingyu said running his fingers through Seungkwan's hair, as his friend was lying on his lap.

“Maybe he's just scared”, Baekho said from the floor he was lying on.

Vernon, who was lying on one of the sofas, stared at Seungkwan with that conversation feeling a slight impact with that little talk. He looked at Mingyu's hand that was still ruffling Seungkwan's hair, slowly pulling the brown strands without taking his eyes off the television. For a moment he wished he were in the older man's place, but when he realized what he was thinking he shook his head and turned his attention to the television.

That night off the agents decided to rest as they saw fit, so Sangwoo went for a run on the beach and enjoy the night, Joshua went to his room to make a video call with Jeonghan, Wonwoo went to sleep, The8 and Jun also went to their room enjoying the time alone, Hoshi was in the pool area talking on his cell phone and the rest of the agents joined Lisa in the living room to watch a Thai series.

It was a very pleasant evening, and the five of them were so focused in the drama that they didn't even notice when S.Coups and Woozi hurried through the front door and ran upstairs to finish off the great date they'd had in the bedroom.

“This series is really good, Lisa”, Seungkwan said staring at the Thai woman who smiled at him.

“I know! I'll send you a list of BL dramas to watch.”

“Send it to me too”, Mingyu said in a yawn, rubbing his eyes, “I think I'll join Wonwoo and sleep. I'm destroyed.”

“I'll go to bed too”, Baekho said getting up, “Good night, everyone.”

“Let's go because tomorrow it's going to be a tiring day”, Lisa said turning off the television and getting up, “Good night, boys.”

“Good night”, Seungkwan and Vernon said at the same time, which made them face each other and give each other a small smile.

The two took the glasses that were on the coffee table to the kitchen and also the empty popcorn bucket, leaving everything clean for the next day. Vernon turned off the lights, leaving only the one in the hallway that gave access to the pool area on so that Hoshi and Sangwoo wouldn't find the house completely dark when they entered, and together they went upstairs to the bedroom floor.

“Sleep well, Vernon”, Seungkwan said unlocking his bedroom door.

“You too...”, Vernon said, but without hesitating he reached out to touch the older man's shoulder, “Seungkwan-ah, are you sleepy?”

“Not really... Why?”

“Want to spend time in my room?”

“Vernon…”

“I just want to spend time with you”, Vernon said holding up his hands, opening an amused smile, “I won't do anything nasty, I swear.”

“Do you really swear?”, Seungkwan asked arching an eyebrow.

“Yes, I do. I have a Jenga box in there”, Vernon said pointing to the door behind him, “We can play and chat for a bit, what do you think?”

“Why do you have a Jenga box in your room?”, Seungkwan asked confused, seeing Vernon laugh.

“I got it from the game room downstairs.”

“You had this planned before, didn't you?”, Seungkwan asked suspiciously.

“Maybe”, Vernon shook his head still smiling, “Are you coming?”

“You're very manipulative”, Seungkwan grumbled, “Just let me brush my teeth and I'll be right away.”

“Okay, I'll leave the door unlocked.”

Seungkwan nodded and entered his room, going straight to the bathroom to brush his teeth. He took the opportunity to fix his hair, which was still a little messy from Mingyu's affections, and also to check if he didn't need another shower.

That made him laugh when he realized how stupid he was being.

Leaving his cell phone on the bed he left the room and tucked the key into his shorts pocket, heading to the door across from him and taking a deep breath before stepping inside.

“I'm coming!”, Vernon said from the bathroom and Seungkwan closed the door behind him, finding a room a little tidier than he expected.

“Have you been cleaning the room?”, Seungkwan asked amused, seeing the bathroom door open and Vernon come out smiling.

“I am organized!”

“I saw well on Busan's trip how organized you are”, Seungkwan chuckled as he sat down on the floor where the Jenga's box was.

“I was trying to pass an image on that trip”, Vernon sat on the floor facing the older man, watching him open the box to set up the game on the floor.

“The image of a bumbling, messy and tough guy?”, Seungkwan asked staring at the American, “You got it.”

“What about you? Putting on the image of a nice, helpful guy calling me a grumbler”, Vernon said, narrowing his eyes, “When in fact he's as grouchy as I am.”

“I don't know what you're talking about”, Seungkwan shook his head with a small pout, making Vernon smile at him, “Stop smiling and start playing, Vernon.”

“I forgot for a second how bossy you are”, Vernon said calmly taking off the first piece.

“You called me here to play and chat, or to make fun of me?”, Seungkwan asked taking off his piece, seeing Vernon repeat what he said with an exaggerated pout, “Vernon, I'm leaving!”

“It's fun to mock you, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon chuckled taking out another piece, grimacing when Seungkwan threw the piece he was holding to his chest, “Outch!”

“Jerk!”, Seungkwan looked at the tower of pieces wondering which one to take, “I didn't know you on that trip, so I was really nicer than I should have.”

“You took good care of me that weekend”, Vernon watched the eldest take off a piece slowly, “Even when I slipped in the hallway you got worried.”

“That was funny!”, Seungkwan chuckled remembering the scene, “You holding the towel afraid I'd see something was hilarious.”

“You were staring at my body, I was embarrassed!”

“I was not!”

“Yes, you were!”, Vernon chuckled taking off another piece, “You were already noticing me on that trip, admit it.”

“It was even before the trip”, Seungkwan said quietly, looking at the tower that already had several pieces missing.

“Really?”, Vernon asked seeing Seungkwan bite his lip and nod embarrassed, “When did you start noticing me?”

“It's not hard to notice you, Vernon”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “But it was on Sangwoo's rescue day.”

“When you went take care of my bruises?”, Vernon asked in surprise, “I was stupid with you that day.”

“A little bit, but I didn't mind”, Seungkwan said with an amused smile, “After you called me an intern on my first day, I didn't take what you told me too seriously.”

“That was embarrassing”, Vernon chuckled self-consciously, “But I started to get curious about you that day.”

“Curious?”

“Yes”, Vernon said playing with the pieces in his hands, “I've already said that something about you attracts me and I don't know what it is, and since your first day I've been trying to figure it out.”

“If you come to the conclusion that my ass is the reason for your attraction, I'll spank you”, Seungkwan said seriously, making Vernon throw his head back and laugh. He held back a smile at that, ignoring the effect the American's laugh had on him.

“It might be part of the reason, but it's not just that”, Vernon said stopping laughing, “When I find out I'll tell you.”

“You better do it, because I already know why you are so attractive to me.”

“Oh yeah? And what's the reason?”

“When you tell me your reason, I'll tell you mine”, Seungkwan replied with an innocent smile, taking another piece from the tower, “Your turn, Vernonie.”

“Okay that's fair”, Vernon shook his head, “But I know the fact that you think I'm handsome and cute is part of the reason.”

“You play really dirty, Vernon”, Seungkwan chuckled staring into the American's brown eyes, “But you're right.”

“You said at the party that if a handsome guy like me went to flirt with you out of nowhere, you'd soon notice it's a scam”, Vernon said leaning forward with a smirk, “Is that true?”

“Maybe,” Seungkwan also bowed, his face very close to the American, “At first yes, but later I would think it's because of my beautiful smile and my undoubted charm.”

“I love your self-love.”

“Enjoy it, because he doesn't come around often.”

“But he should always be there”, Vernon said looking at the older man's pink lips, “I really want to kiss you now.”

“I know that. You can't hide it”, Seungkwan chuckled tilting his head to the side.

“You owe me a kiss today.”

“I know I do”, Seungkwan said stepping closer, and when Vernon closed his eyes he smiled and moved his lips to the American's cheek, pulling away right away, “Let's finish playing first, Vernonie.”

Vernon pressed his lips together when he felt the kiss on his cheek, opening his eyes he stared at Seungkwan's innocent smile which, of course, was a big part of the reason for his attraction. He looked at what was left of the tower and pulled the piece from the ground, dropping all the others in sequence.

“Oops!”, Vernon said arching his eyebrows, “Looks like the game is over.”

Seungkwan laughed at that, dropping the piece that was in his hand to be able to hold Vernon's face, who was with his hands on the ground to get closer to Seungkwan, joining his lips to the older one without hesitation.

Both had been waiting for that kiss all day, so nothing mattered more than that their lips were together. Vernon braced his knees on the floor in order to get even closer to Seungkwan, but he ended up leaning on one of the pieces scattered on the floor, which made him break the kiss with a grunt of pain.

Shit! Who put this here?”, Vernon asked annoyed, making Seungkwan laugh and caress his face.

“You did, silly”, Seungkwan took the American's hands and stood up, pulling him onto the bed behind them, “We'll fix it later.”

“Who's the messy now?”, Vernon asked amused, lying on top of Seungkwan's body, leaving one leg between his.

“Want to fix it now?”, Seungkwan asked holding the American's necklace, pulling it down.

“I never said that.”

Vernon kissed the pink lips again, feeling a shiver at the perfect fit they had. Seungkwan still held the American's necklace with one hand holding him close, moving his free hand to his new favorite spot which was between Vernon's soft hair.

That slow kiss made it clear it was just the beginning of that make-out session, but neither of them were sleepy so they didn't care. The chemistry they had was touchable, and even without saying it out loud they knew those kisses were also part of the reason for their attraction.

Chapter Text

Bangkok, Thailand.

9:02 AM.

 

Everyone woke up early that day, after all they had a lot of work to do because of the operation two days ago. Lisa got some laptops from the department where she worked so the agents could report back on the entire operation, which they did, spreading out across the large living room.

All the light atmosphere the day had had was quickly replaced by something more serious and heavier, leaving most in silence as they worked on their reports. S.Coups was sitting with Hoshi and Woozi, tracing all the steps they took during the operation and trying to understand where they failed and the main thing: how Khalan knew they would be there.

“The only good thing about this operation is that the three women are alive, and that we managed to catch Doyun and ChungHee”, Woozi said tossing his pen on the coffee table.

“I still cannot believe about the fucking helicopter”, Hoshi said shaking his head, “How did this bastard know?”

“They all knew”, Vernon said, “Well, at least the ones with Khalan.”

“Doyun was betrayed by his own boss”, Baekho chuckled, “Although no one should trust him anyway.”

“He's an idiot”, Sangwoo grumbled, still typing on his laptop, “I never thought it would be so easy to arrest someone.”

“That woman from the club was also easy to catch”, Jun said amusedly resting his hands on the floor.

“I want to see her face when we put her in the same room as Minoru”, Seungkwan chuckled, seeing Vernon smile and nod.

“Tomorrow morning, she will be sent to Korea with Doyun. My boss has informed me that ChungHee needs to answer some files here before being taken to Korea”, Lisa said typing on her cell phone.

“I still want an explanation for the helicopter!”, Hoshi grumbled, running his hands through his hair and leaving it in a mess.

“Take a look at this”, Wonwoo said, turning the laptop around for all to see, “I looked for companies that do helicopter rentals in Bangkok, and I filtered through the companies that rented a Bell 407 in the last few days and I found a result.”

“How do you know the helicopter model?”, Woozi asked, adjusting his glasses.

“I got pictures from the local news and asked Jennie”, Wonwoo shrugged like it was no big deal, “The helicopter was rented in ChungHee's name, and was returned by dawn.”

“Great, Wonwoo”, Hoshi said getting up, “Give me the number for this company. I'll need your help on this, honey.”

“Oh, it will be my pleasure, honey”, Lisa chuckled taking the number and address Wonwoo had written down on a piece of paper, “Let's go get the helicopter information and be right back.”

“Mingyu and Wonwoo, go with them please”, S.Coups asked and the two nodded, leaving the room to follow the two, “Let's hope they can find something relevant.”

“If they're going to find something relevant, I don't know, but the owner of the company is going to have to file a hell of a lawsuit for having rented a helicopter for ChungHee”, The8 said stirring the straw in the juice glass.

“This guy is a bad guy”, Woozi scoffed with a laugh.

“What's left for us now?”, Baekho asked.

“Let's do our reports and document everything we have”, S.Coups said with a tired sigh, “Tomorrow we'll go back to Korea, and on Monday we'll get together to discuss better in the office.”

The agents who remained in the house nodded and followed S.Coups' order, talking to each other to not miss any details. Seungkwan could see how thoughtful the leader was, staring at a spot on the coffee table and frowning every now and then like he was trying to connect some dots.

Stopping facing the leader and turning his attention to his report, Seungkwan called Baekho to help him with the rescue of the three women, since Sangwoo was documenting Doyun's arrest. He got along well with Baekho, the detail and observer way were the same as his so they had no difficulty working together.

The rest of the afternoon was quite busy for everyone who stayed in the house, doing their jobs talking to each other about details and different points of view from the night before.

As it was the last day in that house, everyone took pains to keep everything clean and tidy, so everyone was spread out and focused on their own activities, which left Vernon and Seungkwan away from each other all day. The only time of the day they were together beyond the morning was at lunch, but only with brief contact. Vernon felt uncomfortable with that, so uncomfortable that he even found it strange that need to look to the side and find Seungkwan talking to himself or laughing with someone.

They all had dinner together on the porch, enjoying the beautiful night it was making, and this was the time when they could rest and not think about Khalan for a few hours. After dinner and washing up, everyone went to their room to pack their bags to get everything ready for the next day's flight. No one was in the mood to do anything but sleep after the long day they had, so silence dominated that big house.

After packing his suitcase, Seungkwan took a good shower and fell into bed to talk to his brothers, and Seokmin was glad that his younger brother would be back in time to tease Chan during the weekend with him. That exchange of messages didn't last long due to the time difference, so soon Seungkwan was bored looking at the bedroom ceiling wondering if he should knock on the bedroom door in front of his, but maybe he was acting too fast so he gave up on the idea.

Looking at his cell phone clock, Seungkwan saw that it was still nine o'clock, which made him snort with boredom. Thinking about getting something to eat, he got up and put the key in his shorts pocket and left his cell phone on the bed, leaving the room and walking down the empty, silent hallway. Downstairs the hallway light caught his eye, then following the light he saw the glass door leading to the open pool and someone swimming.

Seungkwan stood at the door waiting for the person to emerge and opened a small smile when he saw Vernon's head come out of the water, running his hands through his hair and face to remove excess water. Vernon had his back to him so slowly Seungkwan closed the glass door behind him and watched the American dive again, taking the opportunity to sit on the edge of the pool and just put his feet into the water that was at a great temperature.

Vernon hadn't noticed Seungkwan's presence in the pool, so when he surfaced again for breath and heard a whistle he turned around quickly startled and found Seungkwan staring at him with an amused smile.

“You scared me”, Vernon mumbled swimming over to where the older one was.

“It looks like the tables have turned”, Seungkwan kept smiling until the American approached, “It feels good to scare someone else. Now I know why you guys always do this to me.”

“With you it's funny.”

“Do I look like a clown?”

“Just a little bit”, Vernon teased, breaking into a smile when he saw Seungkwan make a face at him, “What are you doing here? I thought you were already asleep.”

“I was bored”, Seungkwan swung his feet into the water, “So I went down to get something to eat and found you here. And what about you? Why did you decide to swim at this hour?”

“We're leaving tomorrow, so I decided to enjoy the pool one last time”, Vernon said, standing next to Seungkwan's legs, “Do you want to swim with me?”

“Hmm no, thanks”, Seungkwan denied seeing Vernon arch an eyebrow, “I already showered and don't want to get wet again.”

“Oh, come on, Seungkwan-ah! We can swim naked, what do you think?”, Vernon asked getting between the older man's legs.

“I think you're playing with fire”, Seungkwan said making Vernon laugh, “Are you crazy?!”

“Okay, we can swim in our clothes then.”

“Vernon, I don't-”, Seungkwan didn't have time to deny it as soon Vernon's wet hands were on his waist pulling him into the pool, “Vernon!”

“Hey don't yell! I don't want anyone else to swim with us”, Vernon said laughing still holding the older boy's waist.

“I said I didn't want to swim!”, Seungkwan grumbled hitting the American's exposed chest, trying to ignore the amused smile he had on his lips, “Stop smiling, you idiot.”

“You’re funny, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon chuckled, dropping a quick kiss on the elder's round cheek, “And adorable too.”

“Stop calling me that”, Seungkwan asked with an embarrassed laugh.

“Stop being adorable then”, Vernon said simply, pulling them into the middle of the pool without letting go of the older boy's waist, noticing that he still held on to his shoulders, “Can't you swim?”

“Yes, I can.”

“Then why are you clinging to me?”

Seungkwan stared at Vernon's brown eyes that were so close and thought to say what was in his head, that the reason he was clinging to the body of the youngest was because he missed that closeness during the day. Little did he know that Vernon was hoping he wouldn't pull away at that moment, and for that reason he kept his arms around Seungkwan's waist.

“I already told you”, Seungkwan said clearing his throat, “I don't want to get wet.”

“Seungkwan-ah, you're already in the pool.”

“And because of who?”, Seungkwan grumbled and Vernon laughed.

“I had a reason to pull you into the pool”, Vernon said, swimming with Seungkwan's body to the pool wall, leaving the older man's back against the icy wall.

“And what was the reason?”, Seungkwan asked quietly, feeling a flutter in his stomach at the smile that the American opened.

“I was between your legs, and I don't know if you noticed, but the position was perfect for me to give you a blowjob right here in this pool”, Vernon said low enough for Seungkwan to hear, brushing his lips over his warm cheek.

“Oh!”, That was the only thing Seungkwan could say while closing his eyes.

“But I won't do that.”

“Oh?”, Seungkwan asked opening his eyes, staring at the American's amused smile.

“We've agreed that we'll get to know each other better, right?”

“Did we set this up?”, Seungkwan asked still staring at Vernon's lips.

“Yes, yesterday afternoon”, Vernon chuckled holding Seungkwan's thighs, making him hook his legs around his waist, “Have you forgotten?”

“Of course not”, Seungkwan looked back into brown eyes and swallowed, “You're right. We have to get to know each other better.”

“Of course we do”, Vernon passed his nose through Seungkwan's, down to his cheek and then his neck making the older one squirm in his arms, “But do we need to get to know each other better to exchange some kisses?”

“I don't think it's necessary”, Seungkwan said moving a hand to Vernon's wet hair, “I mean, kissing doesn't take that much intimacy, right?”

“Right”, Vernon said lifting his head with the slight tug on his hair, “You're always right.”

Without saying anything else their lips met, starting another kiss on that trip. It wasn't a quick kiss since neither of them was in a hurry, after all they had all night to kiss in that pool, so they both moved their lips slowly to enjoy the moment.

Vernon couldn't imagine having that moment with Seungkwan even in his deepest dreams, as he had already dreamed of the eldest a few times. Maybe he was enjoying those kisses with Seungkwan more than he should, but it wasn't like he could just stop and pretend nothing happened, not after knowing what the older man's kiss tasted like and how soft his lips were.

Thinking about what it would be like after they returned to Korea and the daily routine changed was something that worried him a little, but that was a problem for when he was alone and not with Seungkwan pulling him closer and biting his lip.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Incheon, South Korea.

7:15 PM.

 

The flight back to Korea was as smooth as the first one, the only difference being that it was in the afternoon so it was already past seven in the evening when the plane landed at Incheon airport. Lisa said goodbye to each one of them with a warm hug while still at the house in Bangkok, promising to visit them one day in Korea. Seungkwan had liked the Thai woman so much, that he was sure he had made a new longtime friend even more knowing that they could work together again at any time.

As smooth as the flight was, spending five hours on a plane was very tiring, so everyone disembarked in silence trying to get their bags and get home as quickly as possible. Seungkwan was at the baggage belt waiting for Mingyu and Hoshi to be able to return home, when Vernon appeared at his side taking one of the bags that were passing by.

“You look tired”, Vernon said placing the suitcase on the floor.

“I'm sleepy”, Seungkwan said in a yawn.

“Think about it, you'll have the entire weekend to rest.”

“It's the least I deserve”, Seungkwan chuckled, turning his attention to the necklace that was always around Vernon's neck, noticing that it was crooked.

“Are the boys coming to take you home?”, Vernon asked, squeezing the handle of the suitcase anxiously, hoping the older one would deny it just so he could take him home and spend a few more minutes with him.

“Yes, they are”, Seungkwan nodded.

“Then I'm going home”, Vernon said, wondering why he was feeling so anxious right now.

“Okay”, Seungkwan replied reaching for the American's necklace and arranging it, doing the same with the collar of the denim jacket he was wearing, “Send me a message when you get home.”

“Worried about me?”

“Coups said to be careful, remember?”, Seungkwan said quickly, feeling embarrassed by the little smile that Vernon opened.

“Yes, I remember”, Vernon squeezed the older man's shoulder, not knowing exactly what he was supposed to do, “See you Monday, Seungkwan-ah.”

“See you, Vernon.”

Seungkwan watched Vernon walk away until he was out of sight at that airport, and it was just time for Hoshi and Mingyu to find him with bags in hand so they could finally go home. On the way back home Seungkwan kept his head leaning against the window with his eyes closed thinking about everything that had happened on that trip to Thailand, from the operation trying to arrest Khalan to his moments with Vernon. By far the night they slept together was the most memorable but if he could choose one of the moments, it would be the night the two stayed talking while playing Jenga on the floor of the Americano's bedroom.

He could feel the smile begin to form on his lips as he thought about that moment. Just the two of them talking and teasing each other until they ended up kissing in bed with no malice whatsoever, just an innocent make-out session between two men who had no idea what they were doing but didn't want to stop.

Seungkwan had no idea what things would be like with Vernon now that they returned to Korea, but he hoped to find out what it was like in his chest every time he thought of the American and all the touches and kisses they exchanged.

“Kwan-ah?”, Mingyu called, making the younger one open his eyes and realize they had arrived, “I thought you were sleeping.”

“I was just relaxing”, Seungkwan took off his seat belt and ran his hand down his face.

The three got out of the car and Hoshi helped them with their bags, smiling when he saw Seokmin open the front door to welcome them.

“Ah finally! I was getting worried”, Seokmin said pulling Seungkwan into his arms, “I missed you, kid!”

“It was only a few days, hyung”, Seungkwan chuckled returning the hug, so he could walk into the house with his suitcase.

“I said I would bring them back alive”, Hoshi said, stopping with his hands in his pockets.

“Okay, you got some points with me”, Seokmin said amusedly patting Hoshi's arm. The one who concentrated hard not to grunt in pain, since the youngest had hit his wound, “Come in! I made you guys dinner!”

Hoshi thought for a while before entering, but ended up accepting because he was hungry and wouldn't refuse an invitation to spend time with Seokmin. Seungkwan left his suitcase in his room and joined everyone in the kitchen, not being surprised to see Chan talking to Hoshi, as he knew how friendly the leader could be.

That dinner turned out to be more talkative than expected, especially between Seungkwan, Hoshi and Seokmin. That left Mingyu and Chan surprised by the perfect dynamic that the three had, getting laughs all the time.

Two hours later when everyone was satisfied and the kitchen was clean, Mingyu and Hoshi said goodbye in order to rest and also let Seungkwan rest from the long flight. Seungkwan spent some more time talking to his brothers in the living room telling how beautiful the place he had stayed was, and only then went to take a shower and lie down. When he was properly comfortable on his bed a long sigh of relief escaped from his lips, and reaching for his cell phone one last time he saw two texts from Vernon from two hours ago, which had him snapping it open instantly.

Vernonie [7:47 pm]: hey I'm home

Vernonie [8:22 pm]: You ask me to text you when I get home and then disappear... should I be worried?

Seungkwan smiled with the second message and immediately tried to answer the American.

Seungkwan [10:04 pm]: Vernonieee

Seungkwan: Sorry not to answer you before :(

Seungkwan: My brother made a dinner and it ended up stretching longer than I expected

Seungkwan: I'm glad you got home well :D

When sending the last message Seungkwan saw the American come online, and it didn't take long for him to start typing a reply.

Vernonie: It’s alright, don't worry :)

Vernonie: I’m glad you spent time with your brothers. You were missing them

Seungkwan: Yes, I missed them :(

Vernon read that message and sat up in bed, biting the corner of his lip and thinking about what to say now. And without many options he went with the basics.

Vernonie: What are you doing now?

Seungkwan: I just went to bed

Seungkwan: And you? Did you eat well?

Seungkwan cursed when he sent the last message, feeling like an idiot.

“Maybe he thinks I'm a pathetic sticky”, he thought when he saw Vernon type in a response.

Vernonie: I just got out of the shower and I'm in bed too

Vernonie: And yes, I ate well

Vernonie: Actually I wish I had eaten you

Seungkwan widened his eyes and opened his mouth in shock at that, but he laughed out loud at the messages that followed.

Vernonie: WITH**

Vernonie: I wish I had eaten WITH you!

Vernonie: God... How do I delete this?

Vernon covered his face and flopped onto his back on the bed, feeling like a complete idiot for getting his typing wrong and looking like a complete pervert.

Seungkwan: HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Seungkwan: I'M LAUGHING SO MUCH

Vernonie: Seungkwan stop laughing!

Vernonie: Damn... I'm embarrassed right now

Vernonie: I'm not a pervert, just to make it clear!

Seungkwan: I know that silly

Seungkwan: But it was really funny, Vernonie

Vernonie: I'm an idiot

Seungkwan: Yeah, but just a little bit

Vernonie : -.-

Seungkwan chuckled and bit his lower lip, wanting to see the American's face now just to know if he was blushing or not.

Seungkwan: You're cute, Vernonie

Vernonie: It's the fourth time you've called me cute

Seungkwan: Are you counting?

Vernonie: Oh yeah

Vernonie: And apparently you really like to call me 'Vernonie', don't you?

Seungkwan: You said I could call you that :(

Vernonie: And you can

Vernonie: But only you

Seungkwan tried to contain the big smile he was trying to open on his lips, but he couldn't. Again that new sensation appeared deep in his chest, making his cheeks burn a little.

Seungkwan: Good thing only I can :D

Seungkwan: I know you've been thinking about me while eating, so I hope that happens in your dreams now too

Vernonie: Stop teasing me...

Seungkwan: Go to sleep!

Seungkwan: Good night, Vernonie <3

Vernonie: Good night, Seungkwan-ah

Vernon stared at that heart emoji he had received for a few more minutes, thinking about what it meant. He knew that probably Seungkwan had sent it innocently or just to tease him, but that didn't make the shiver in his stomach go away.

Shaking his head and blocking his cell phone he lay down correctly, turning off the lamp light and staring at the bedroom ceiling thinking about all the moments he had with Seungkwan during the trip. That made him crack a small smile before closing his eyes and allowing himself to sleep.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Incheon, South Korea.

5:30 PM.

 

“What do you think about we do like this?”, Dahyun asked showing the drawing she had made.

“Okay”, Chan replied turning his attention to the drawing when Dahyun looked at him with a hopeful smile, “Great! I think it looks great this way!”

“Do you want to make some changes?”, Dahyun asked staring into the boy's eyes, not realizing that it was making him nervous.

“Well… I have some ideas.”

The two of them were in the living room with notebooks and books strewn across the floor, sitting side by side on the rug discussing what they should do on this project. Chan couldn't help but notice how pretty Dahyun was with her hair pulled back in a ponytail, with only a few strands escaping every now and then where she tucked them behind her ear.

“Stop staring at her, Chan! She'll think you're weird”, Chan thought shaking his head, trying to focus only on what they were doing.

At the entrance to the kitchen Seungkwan and Seokmin were against the wall with just their heads out watching the two, taking care not to get caught. It went beyond the thrill of seeing Chan have his first crush, but also that he was finally interacting friendly with someone else.

“Look how cute he is trying not to look like an idiot”, Seungkwan said pointing to his younger brother.

“Just like you”, Seokmin said, getting an elbow to the stomach, “Outch!”

“Repeat it!”, Seungkwan said raising his fist, “Repeat it now!”

“But you are exactly like that!”, Seokmin laughed, trying to protect himself from his brother's punches, “Stop it!”

“Idiot”, Seungkwan grumbled taking a seat in one of the chairs in the kitchen, “I'm not like that.”

“Sometimes you are”, Seokmin sat facing his brother, cell phone in hand, “But Chan is worse.”

“You've been holding your cell phone for a long time”, Seungkwan said suspiciously, leaning his arms on the table, “Who do you talk to so much?”

“I say who it is if you tell me who is the goth who sends you messages and mirror selfies”, Seokmin replied also leaning his arms on the table, holding the gaze with Seungkwan for a few seconds until the youngest narrowed his eyes.

“I already told you he's not goth!”, Seungkwan grumbled making Seokmin laugh, “He's a friend from work.”

“Well, I'm just talking to a friend too”, Seokmin said leaning back in his chair.

“Great then.”

“Great”, Seokmin looked at his brother's cell phone on the table and saw it light up, “Is someone calling you? Is this your friend from work?”

“Shut up, hyung”, Seungkwan took out his cell phone and saw Mingyu's name flash across the screen, “It's Mingyu.”

“Kwan-ah!”, Mingyu said excitedly when Seungkwan accepted the call.

“Hey Gyu”, Seungkwan sat back in his chair, “What's up?”

“I'm calling to let you know that in less than an hour I'll be stopping by your house to pick you up.”

“And where are you going to take me, may I know?

“Let's go to a karaoke!”, Mingyu said excitedly, “Joshua called me and said it was Jeonghan's idea. So get ready to sing and drink in front of your favorite actor.”

“And you say that calmly?”, Seungkwan asked, seeing Seokmin staring at him with an amused smile, “Don't let go of my hand, Mingyu. I'm serious.”

“I won't let go”, Mingyu chuckled, “But seriously, go get ready because I'll be there soon.”

“Alright, let me know when you're coming”, Seungkwan asked before hanging up.

“Where are you two going?”

“He said we're going to a karaoke”, Seungkwan said getting up, “Soon he'll be here so I'm going to take a shower.”

Seokmin just held up his thumb and turned his attention to his cell phone. Seungkwan walked across the room smiling at Dahyun and grimacing at Chan, who reciprocated without even thinking twice.

Seungkwan didn't take a long shower as he had spent the whole day at home, so within a few minutes he was in his room choosing an outfit to wear, opting for just a pair of jeans and a sweatshirt as it was getting a little cold.

As he changed, he wondered if Mingyu had called Vernon too, and that it would be fun to have his company that night. Seungkwan finished fixing his hair and looked at the cell phone on his bed, thinking some more before giving up and picking up the phone and dialing the American's number, being answered on the third ring.

“Hey”, Vernon said hoarsely, and Seungkwan smiled in that tone of voice.

“Hey... Were you sleeping?”

“Maybe”, Vernon replied and Seungkwan could hear him settle into bed.

“I'm sorry.”

“It's okay”, Vernon let out a lazy laugh, “What happened?”

“Oh, no big deal”, Seungkwan sat up in bed thinking that maybe it wouldn't have been a good idea, “It's just that Mingyu called me saying the boys are going to a karaoke, so I wanted to invite you too.”

“Karaoke?”, Vernon asked, still lazily. Seungkwan really wanted to be with the American at that moment just so he could hear that voice in person, “But I can't sing, Seungkwan-ah.”

“But that's the purpose of a karaoke, Vernon”, Seungkwan chuckled, “You don't need to sing if you don't want to.”

“Hm... I don't know, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Please!”, Seungkwan asked whining, “Come on! It will be fun.”

“You're pouting, aren't you?”

“Vernonie, I really want you there”, Seungkwan asked, hearing Vernon sigh. He smiled knowing the American was giving in.

“Alright, I'll stop by”, Vernon replied huffing and Seungkwan knew he was rolling his eyes, “Send me the address later.”

“Hey! Get excited or...”

“Or what?”

“Just be excited Vernon”, Seungkwan chuckled in amusement, “See you later!”

Seungkwan had an excited smile on his face as he applied some perfume and checked if he was well dressed, after all he would be with Yoon Jeonghan. Leaving the room, he felt the cell phone vibrate in his hand, showing Mingyu's message that he had arrived.

“Hyung! Mingyu has arrived and I'm leaving!”, Seungkwan said entering the living room and seeing Chan back in the chair helping Dahyun to pack her things, “Oh are you leaving already, Dahyun?”

“Yeah, we're done for today, right Chan?”, Dahyun asked the boy who blinked a few times before nodding.

“Yes, we're done for today.”

“Oh good, you guys worked hard today”, Seokmin said walking into the room with his hands in his pockets, “Is your mom picking you up?”

“Actually I'll call an uber.”

“No way we’re going to let you go home alone with an uber at this hour”, Chan said looking at his brothers who were staring at him with an amused look, “Right, hyungs?”

“Of course”, Seungkwan said opening the front door, “Come on, Mingyu and I will take you home.”

“No need, I can-”

“Don't even try to deny it”, Seokmin said smiling.

“We're trying to make a good impression, Dahyun. Help us here”, Seungkwan asked and Dahyun chuckled, slinging her backpack on her shoulder.

“Alright, I appreciate it.”

“Then let's go. I don't know if I'm coming home late, so don't wait up for me.”

“Okay, just be careful!”, Seokmin yelled going to his room.

“Bye Chan”, Dahyun waved to the boy at the door, “See you at school.”

“Bye Dahyun”, Chan smiled but stopped when he saw Seungkwan point at him and laugh mockingly, “Get out of here, you idiot!”

Seungkwan laughed and closed the door, guiding Dahyun to Mingyu's car who was distracted by his cell phone and was startled when the passenger door was opened.

Aish! Don't do that!”, Mingyu grumbled to a laughing Seungkwan.

“Sorry”, Seungkwan said opening the back door for Dahyun before getting into the car, “We need to make a stop before we go to the karaoke.”

“Alright. Where do we go first?”, Mingyu asked seeing Dahyun get into the backseat, “Oh, hello!”

“Hello”, Dahyun smiled.

“Let's get her home safely first”, Seungkwan said taking out his cell phone, “You can follow the path to Chan's school.”

“Okay! Let's go then,” Mingyu started the car and started following the familiar path, “My name is Mingyu, by the way.”

“Kim Dahyun. Nice to meet you!”

“Oh I've heard your name before”, Mingyu said smiling and glared at Seungkwan, “Isn't she Chan's crush?”

“Mingyu!”, Seungkwan yelled scared, punching his friend's arm, “What the hell?!”

“I shouldn't have said that, right?”, Mingyu asked with a guilty grimace, “Oh shit.”

“Dahyun, ignore what he said”, Seungkwan said looking at the girl with red cheeks, “He's an idiot.”

“Yes, I'm an idiot”, Mingyu chuckled awkwardly, “Let's start again and forget what I said. Hi Dahyun, I hear you're a cheerleader, is that true?”

“I swear I'll throw you out of this car”, Seungkwan grumbled and Dahyun laughed.

She was finding that situation very funny, as much as she was feeling embarrassed to know that she was Chan's crush. Embarrassed and happy.

“Yes, I dance at the basketball team games”, Dahyun replied stopping laughing, “Chan said you often play with him.”

“Oh yeah, we play whenever we have time.”

Seungkwan looked at Mingyu and ended up laughing at his friend's attempt to change the subject, but luckily the path wasn't long so in a few minutes they left Dahyun at her house and headed to karaoke. He sent the address to Vernon who only replied that he was going to take a shower and would soon be karaoke with them, and that made him very excited.

That would definitely be a great night.

 

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

7:12 PM.

 

Vernon walked into the karaoke with his hands in his jeans pocket, looking around at the muffled booths. The cabins had glass walls, so it was easy to find the cabin where his friends were. He felt a little out of place as this was not an environment he was used to being, but this time he would give it a chance to enjoy.

Through the glass door Vernon could see the mess the boys were making, which made him shake his head and wonder what Seungkwan had gotten him into. And thinking of the eldest, he saw him standing by the screen with a red cup in one hand and a mic in the other, singing the song they had chosen.

Seungkwan sang an OST as if he were at a concert, closing his eyes now and then to sing that song he loved so much with emotion. Hoshi and Jeonghan laughed at his side, singing their screams without a microphone to try to disturb the youngest who didn't seem to mind. Vernon watched him with his arms folded in the back of the room, not having his presence noticed by anyone yet because of the loud music and also the mess everyone there made.

“Oh Seungkwan-ah! You're really good!”, Jeonghan yelled beside the youngest.

“Vernon-ah! Come here!”, Joshua said pulling the younger one by the arm to where they were sitting, “I thought you weren't coming.”

“And I wouldn't”, Vernon said, adjusting the beanie on his head, “But I was doing nothing at home, so I decided to stop by.”

“That's great! Here, eat some snacks”, Joshua pulled one of the snack plates for the younger one, “Will you sing too?”

“Don't overdo it, Josh”, Vernon chuckled looking again to where Seungkwan was still singing, “I'm fine just watching.”

Joshua smiled and also looked straight ahead as Seungkwan and Jeonghan now shared the mic. Baekho smiled at them both now and then, but also paying attention to what Hoshi was saying beside him about choosing a fun song.

When the song ended the two were waiting to see the score, and Seungkwan raised his arm with the mic celebrating when he saw the maximum number. Joshua and Vernon laughed at the two of them hugging each other as if they'd won a championship.

“Oh, that was amazing!”, Jeonghan laughed pulling Seungkwan around the waist towards the sofas.

“I should have become an idol!”, Seungkwan shook his head and handed the mic to Mingyu who was waiting for the next song.

“Or an entertainer”, The8 laughed in amusement.

“I could easily be an entertainer”, Seungkwan drank what he had in his cup and just then noticed Vernon sitting next to Joshua, “Vernonie! You came!”

“I said I would come”, Vernon smiled a little, making room for Seungkwan to sit beside him.

“I'm glad you're here!”, Seungkwan smiled as he sat down next to the American, showing the cup he was holding, “Do you want some?”

“What is it?”

“Soju”, Seungkwan said drinking some more, “It's very good.”

“Okay, I think I'll have a drink”, Vernon reached for a cup, but Seungkwan grabbed his shoulder and brought his own cup to the American's lips, “Oh okay then.”

“Good, isn't it?”, Seungkwan asked seeing Vernon nod. He smiled and put his lips close to the American's ear, so that only he could hear what he was going to say, “I would make you taste it from my lips, but the boys are here and it would be weird.”

Vernon gulped down the liquid at the sound of that, feeling his throat burn from the alcohol. He glared at Seungkwan who now had an innocent smile, but his brown eyes were shining the same way they did that night they spent together in Thailand, and that made Vernon's stomach quiver.

The8 watched that interaction between the two with an amused smile, holding back a laugh when he saw Vernon look at Seungkwan's lips without bothering to hide it.

“Really?”, Vernon asked still staring at the older man's lips, which made Seungkwan smile with that reaction, “How many cups of soju have you had, Seungkwan-ah?”

“Maybe two or three”, Seungkwan said with a shrug, “Why?”

“Your face is red”, Vernon said touching the older man's cheek, “And hot too.”

“I am hot, Vernon. I thought you already knew that”, Seungkwan replied taking some snacks with his free hand.

Vernon laughed at him and shook his head, also grabbing some chips to eat. He liked to watch Seungkwan interact with the other boys, laughing and joking as if nothing else mattered but his and others' fun.

Seungkwan was having so much fun that it was common for him to throw himself backwards when he laughed leaning against the American's body, or even holding his thigh from time to time. Every time Seungkwan's hand held Vernon's thigh he felt like pulling his hand between his, but he thought that would probably be too much for the moment so he squeezed the cup instead.

“Vernonie! Come here and see this!”, Hoshi called from across the room.

“Hey, don't call me that”, Vernon said getting up.

“Yeah! Don't call him that!”, Seungkwan pointed to the older one with narrowed eyes.

“You just called him that, Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua said following Vernon to where he was headed.

“But I can”, Seungkwan said with a smug smile, winking at Vernon who just smiled and turned his attention to Hoshi, “Really, he said it himself.”

“The tension between you two is so strong that it was almost suffocating me”, The8 chuckled as she sat closer to Seungkwan.

“Did you notice?”, Seungkwan asked running a hand through his hair.

“Oh yeah”, The8 nodded drinking some soju, “After that day in the kitchen did anything else happen?”

“We kissed a few times. You know, in his room and at the pool”, Seungkwan said taking another snack to his mouth, “Ah! And we also had sex in my room.”

“What?!”, The8 asked almost choking on his drink, “You two did what?”

“We had sex in my room”, Seungkwan repeated simply, “Twice.”

“When?!”

“After the operation”, Seungkwan said wiping his mouth, “He came over to talk, we started kissing and ended up in bed. And it was really good.”

“Okay, no details!”, The8 asked settling down on the big sofa, “Now I'm surprised.”

“You said you expected.”

“I expected you guys to make out, but I didn't expect you to get laid so fast”, The8 chuckled, “And what's he like?”

“You said you didn't want details, you gossipy!”, Seungkwan laughed pushing the older man's shoulder.

“But I don't want details! I just want to know if he's good or not.”

“Well, my legs shook both times”, Seungkwan said arching his eyebrows, “So...”

“So he's really good”, The8 chuckled, drinking some more soju, “At least you guys are having fun. You're not thinking too much like before, are you?”

“Actually, the only thing I'm thinking about right now is how much I wanted to kiss him again”, Seungkwan said looking over to where Vernon was, hearing The8 chuckle beside him, “I’m serious! Look how sexy he looks with that plaid jacket.”

“He looks fine but my type is different”, The8 said looking at Jun who was tinkering with Baekho on the mixer, “Look how cute he looks all confused not knowing what the hell he's doing.”

“Jun hyung is really cute sometimes”, Seungkwan smiled and crossed his legs, “And how are things between you two?”

“Now we're great”, The8 smiled happily, “We talked and had our reconciliation on the trip.”

“No details please”, Seungkwan asked with a grimace, “What about Yanan?”

“Oh he went back to China this afternoon”, The8 chuckled, “Jun had a good chat with him when we got home. I didn't want to join in but I heard everything, and it was the first time I saw Jun angry with him.”

“I hope he apologizes to you someday.”

“I don't care about that,” The8 shrugged, “Things being okay with Jun is all that matters.”

“Awn you are so cute, hyung!”, Seungkwan teased, getting punched in the arm, “I'm glad you guys are okay again.”

“Oh me too”, The8 smiled, looking at where Jun was and noticing Vernon's looks at his friend, “Hydrate yourself because Vernon will end up drying you with the looks he's been giving you.”

Seungkwan looked at the American and smiled when he saw him staring, not paying attention to anything the other boys were doing. That exchange of glances didn't last long, as Jeonghan sat down with the two to talk and Seungkwan turned all his attention to the older one. He finished that cup of soju and focused on just drinking water as he didn't want to get drunk and his face was really burning.

The hours passed with more singing and laughter at that karaoke, and no one there seemed to care much about the time. But after some time Mingyu got a call and answered outside the booth, returning a short time later and going straight to talk to Seungkwan who was talking to Baekho.

“Seungkwan-ah”, Mingyu called louder over the music, “I have to leave and sort something out. If you want, I can drop you off at home before, but it has to be now.”

“Fine, go ahead. I'll call an uber later.”

“You're not going home from uber at dawn, Seungkwan”, Mingyu said seriously, making Seungkwan roll his eyes.

“I am an adult and I know how to protect myself, Mingyu.”

“It doesn't matter”, Mingyu shook his head, “I'll see with Hoshi if he can take you home later.”

“I'll take him home, Mingyu”, Vernon said simply, not realizing that Baekho was about to offer too, “Don’t worry.”

“Okay, in Vernon I trust”, Mingyu said and Seungkwan glared at the American who wanted to laugh at the older man's comment, “Then I'm going. See you guys at work.”

“See you later”, Seungkwan waved and faced Vernon with an arched eyebrow, “So will you take me home?”

“If you want, yes”, Vernon said, amused.

Seungkwan nodded and went back to talking to Baekho about what they were talking about before Mingyu arrived. Vernon was sitting next to the older one, and stared at him every time his leg purposely bumped into his, making him wonder what the hell Seungkwan was doing.

It didn't take long for Seungkwan to settle on the couch and face Vernon innocently, placing a hand on the American's thigh that was glued to his and bringing his lips to his ear.

Vernon shivered at that move.

“Vernonie, get me out of here?”, Seungkwan asked with his lips lightly touching the American's ear.

“Okay”, Vernon said holding back the urge to close his eyes, “To your house?”

“No…”, Seungkwan said lazily, moving his hand to Vernon's crotch, “Take me to your place. I want to spend time with you.”

Vernon felt a twinge in his balls at the way Seungkwan was talking, and having the older man's warm hand on his crotch wasn't helping his self-control at all. Seungkwan stared at him innocently, but the twinkle in his eyes was still there.

“Let's go now.”

The two said goodbye to the boys and together they left the karaoke, and upon entering the car Vernon only had time to start the car until he felt Seungkwan's hand on his crotch again, squeezing more willingly than before.

“Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon called in a sigh, gripping the steering wheel as he felt Seungkwan's lips on his neck, “Oh shit.”

“Drive carefully, Vernon”, Seungkwan said against the American's warm neck. Vernon noticed that his voice was hoarse, “We don't want an accident here, do we?”

“No, we don't”, Vernon focused on the road, thanking the streets were emptier because of the time, “What got into you today?”

“I've been wanting to kiss you since you arrived”, Seungkwan said biting the American's earlobe, “No clothes, preferably.”

“Are you drunk?”

“I'm not drunk. I'm horny, Vernon. It's two different things”, Seungkwan pointed out staring at Vernon, seeing him laugh for the sincerity.

“What happened to 'getting to know each other more'?”, Vernon asked, glaring at Seungkwan quickly.

“What do you want to know?”, Seungkwan asked sitting up correctly but not taking his hand off the American's thigh, “I'm lactose intolerant, I don’t like tomatoes, I hate cucumbers, I don't like pineapple on pizza, my favorite color it's blue but I look great in pink, and I need to cut down the caffeine. What else?”

“You really drink a lot of coffee”, Vernon commented, seeing Seungkwan stare at him seriously, “I'm kidding! You dumped too much information at once.”

“Now you know more things about me”, Seungkwan shrugged and smirked, “Oh, and I like Pilates so I'm pretty flexible.”

Vernon glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and let out a nasal laugh, thanking God that he was already close to his apartment. When they finally arrived, he parked the car in his usual parking space and pulled Seungkwan to the elevator, pulling him against his body by the waist and kissing the neck that so caught his attention.

Seungkwan closed his eyes and sighed at that contact, reaching into the jacket Vernon wore and squeezing his back in order to keep him close at all times. He could feel a bulge against his belly, which made him smile, glad to know he had this power over Vernon without having to do much.

The elevator doors opened on the fifth floor, and without hesitation Vernon pulled the older one down the hall and quickly unlocked the door for them to enter. Seungkwan felt his back collide with the now closed door and then Vernon's lips were on his, starting a hurried kiss full of desire. He grabbed the jacket the American was wearing and took it off quickly, also taking off the beanie that was on Vernon's head so that he could thread his fingers through his dark hair and pull it whenever he felt his lips being sucked.

“God... I like your lips so fucking much”, Vernon said biting Seungkwan's lower lip.

“You should see what I can do with them”, Seungkwan teased with a smirk and stood on tiptoe to hug Vernon's neck.

“Show me then.”

Vernon pulled Seungkwan's thighs up and quickly they were wrapped around his waist, returning to kiss him with all the desire he was feeling at that moment. Seungkwan let out a lazy moan against the American's lips when he felt the obvious erection against his own, trying to move his hips against Vernon's even though he was in his lap.

“Vernon”, Seungkwan called, pulling Vernon’s dark hair once more when he felt a bite on his neck, “Bed. Now.”

“Yes sir.”

Vernon made his way to his room with Seungkwan doing a nice job on his neck, shutting the door with his foot and tossing him on the bed so he could get on top and go back to kissing him as he wanted. Seungkwan pulled the shirt Vernon was wearing up and broke the kiss to be able to take it off completely, using his hips and hands to turn the positions on the bed and sit on the American's lap, facing him from above and admiring for a moment the image of shirtless Vernon lying beneath him with his hair already messed up.

Seungkwan took off the sweatshirt and t-shirt he was wearing, tossing them to the side and resting his hands on the mattress beside Vernon's head, slowly lowering himself as if to kiss him but straying to the beautiful jaw line he had instead, moving his lips slowly to his neck and kissing more heartily with each sigh that escaped Vernon's lips. Seungkwan's lips brushed against the cold material of the necklace that Vernon always wore, and he didn't know why but at that moment that simple accessory was making him fascinated. Leaving kisses on the exposed chest, Seungkwan went to the small plate of the necklace, holding it between his teeth and lifting his head, staring into Vernon's eyes that didn't leave his face for even a second.

Seeing Seungkwan with his favorite necklace between his teeth staring at him in that hot way, and with his hair almost covering his eyes was being one of the best views he ever had. Still with the necklace between his teeth Seungkwan approached Vernon's lips, bringing them together again even with the icy material between them. The moan that Vernon let out with that was so satisfying that it made Seungkwan roll against his erection, and it was his turn to moan.

Fuck... You're so hot, Vernon”, Seungkwan moaned rubbing his erection against the American's belly, “See what you do to me?”

Vernon unbuttoned Seungkwan's jeans and lowered the zipper, reaching into his boxers and holding the cock in his hand, moving up and down slowly just to enjoy the pleasurable expressions Seungkwan was making.

“Take it off and come closer”, Vernon asked seeing him take off his pants and boxers, pulling Seungkwan back by his thighs until his head was close enough to the cock he wanted so much, “This way... It's perfect.”

Seungkwan looked down and settled his knees on the mattress so as not to hurt Vernon, having the perfect vision of the American moving his head forward and taking his cock in his mouth without hesitation.

He moaned at that.

Vernon moved his head slowly back and forth, using his tongue to tease Seungkwan until he moved his hips forward for more contact. With one hand gliding between the older man's thigh and ass, Vernon used his free hand to help him move. Seungkwan wasn’t that big but had a good thickness, so Vernon needed a little help to be able to pay attention to the entire length.

“Ah Vernon!”, Seungkwan moaned throwing his head back, “Fuck... Yes, suck it like that!”

For a moment Vernon kept his head still letting Seungkwan fuck his mouth the way he wanted, and it felt so good that his own cock was begging for attention. And as if he could read minds, Seungkwan moved one hand back and deftly unzipped Vernon's jeans and pulled his cock out, moving his hand quickly to reciprocate the pleasure he was feeling somehow.

It was when Vernon moaned against the cock in his mouth that Seungkwan stopped what he was doing, releasing Vernon's cock and holding his head to keep from moving again. The moan he let out was so long that Vernon thought he had come, which made him smile when he saw Seungkwan with his mouth open and his eyes closed.

Shit! I need to ride you”, Seungkwan said getting off Vernon's lap and helping him to take out of the rest of his clothes.

Vernon opened the nightstand drawer and grabbed a condom, putting it on his cock quickly having Seungkwan's eyes watching everything he was doing, knowing the exact moment to return to the American's lap. They went back to kissing for a moment, taking a few seconds to recover before continuing. Still kissing Vernon’s lips, Seungkwan held the cock and guided it to his ass, slowly sitting down until he had the entire length inside him.

“Ah! So deep!”, Seungkwan moaned in a smile, and that was so sexy that Vernon thought he could come at that moment.

Bracing his hands on the mattress for balance, Vernon watched Seungkwan grip his shoulders and begin to move, leaving all control in the older man's hands. Seungkwan started slowly as if getting used to the position, increasing his speed when he felt more comfortable, letting his moans audible so that Vernon could see how much he was enjoying it.

“Didn't you want to ride me, Seungkwan?”, Vernon asked through clenched teeth, slapping the older man's ass, “Then ride me!”

Seungkwan moaned louder at that. Putting his hands on Vernon's chest he threw him against the mattress, starting to ride harder and feeling Vernon go deep inside him. Vernon moaned along with him, squeezing his waist to help him move faster as he also moved his hips up against Seungkwan's ass.

“You were desperate for this, weren't you?”, Vernon asked slapping the older boy on the ass again. The one who let out a tearful moan and scratched his chest, “How badly did you want me to fuck you, Seungkwan? Tell me.”

“So bad…”, Seungkwan said softly, moaning louder at the slap he got, “Oh shit! I wanted so bad, Vernon!”

“Good boy”, Vernon smiled at that answer.

Vernon could see that Seungkwan was close, so with one hand he went back to masturbating the older man's cock, moving his hand at the same speed as Seungkwan was riding him.

Seungkwan could feel his balls tighten and his stomach quiver, bringing that familiar sensation that he enjoyed so much. He scratched Vernon's chest without mercy, moving the scratches to the abs and throwing his head back, delighting in the pleasure that the American was giving him.

“Vernon... Vernon I'm gonna come!”, Seungkwan felt his legs tremble, “Shit I'm coming! Vernon I'm coming!”

“Come on come for me, Seungkwan!”

With one last ride and a loud moan Seungkwan came in the American's hand, dirtying all of Vernon's chest and abs who was smiling satisfied to have Seungkwan's legs shaking again. Seeing that the older one was losing his balance due to the orgasm, Vernon grabbed his waist and changed positions to be on top and return to fuck Seungkwan in search of his own orgasm.

“I'm so close, Seungkwan”, Vernon moaned, bracing his hands on the mattress, increasing the speed of his thrusts.

“Come on, Vernon”, Seungkwan said grabbing the American's sweaty face, staring into his eyes, “Come on me.

That was enough to make Vernon take one last lunge, deep enough to make Seungkwan moan along with him as he filled the condom. Vernon had his eyes closed, feeling his body burn and his cock throbbing inside Seungkwan, the one who caressed his face while letting out low moans.

Not caring about the situation Vernon let his body fall over Seungkwan's, burying his face in the older man's sweaty neck and trying to calm his breathing. Their hearts were beating fast from what they had just done, but the sense of relief was so great that neither of them was minded that they were sweaty and dirty in that bed.

In fact, it would be very difficult to find anything that would make them think about something else right now.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

11:23 AM.

 

“It was around here, wasn't it?”, Joshua asked walking into another street in downtown Seoul, “These stores are familiar.”

“I already said it's on the next street, Jisoo”, Jeonghan said bored, leaning his head against the car window.

“Hm are you sure?”, Joshua asked amused. As he ended up not finding what he wanted on that street, he entered the next one, seeing right away the familiar strip of the toy store, “Oops!”

“I never make mistakes”, Jeonghan chuckled taking off his seat belt, “You owe me a hundred thousand won's.”

“Alright, I'll pay you later”, Joshua stopped the car in front of the store, “Go ahead, I'll wait here.”

“I'll be right back”, Jeonghan put on his cap and pecked the American's lips.

Joshua leaned back in the car seat, tapping his fingers on the steering wheel in time to the music playing on the radio. It was a beautiful day in Seoul, so to enjoy their time together, Jeonghan insisted that the two go for a walk downtown and take the opportunity to pick up the order the eldest had placed at the toy store.

Still humming the song, he looked around, watching the people and cars passing by the street. And with that observant act, Joshua noticed a car pull up right next to his, much closer than it should have. He looked in the rearview mirror and lowered his glasses, noticing how familiar that car was.

Joshua tried to see something through the car window, but all the windows were dark. That triggered his investigative instinct, so he quickly took out his cell phone and dialed Wonwoo's number who, as usual, answered quickly.

“Hey Shua!”, Wonwoo said as soon as he answered the call.

“Wonwoo-ya, I need some help”, Joshua said looking at the store to see if Jeonghan wasn't coming back.

“What happened?”

“Do you still have the license plate of the car that followed you and Mingyu the other day?”

“Yes, the picture is in my cell phone”, Wonwoo said seriously, “Did you find the car?”

“Let's just say he's probably standing behind my car right now”, Joshua said, adjusting his sunglasses, “Send me the photo so I can confirm, please.”

“I just sent you.”

Joshua put the call on speaker and opened the conversation with Wonwoo, opening the photo and confirming that it was the same license plate.

“Is it the same license plate?”, Wonwoo asked after a few seconds of silence.

“Yeah”, Joshua took the call off speaker and huffed annoyed, “What a nice time to show up.”

“Are you alone?”

“No, I'm waiting for Jeonghan to get back in the car”, Joshua looked again in the rearview mirror, “I'll have to find a way to lose him.”

“Send me your location”, Wonwoo asked, “I have an idea, and I can still help you lose him.”

“Okay, I'll send you on the chat”, Joshua said seeing Jeonghan leave the store, “Jeonghan is coming back. I'll talk to you later, Wonwoo.”

“Okay, leave it to me.”

“Thanks”, Joshua ended the call and sent in his chat location just in time for Jeonghan to get into the car with two bags, “Wow! What did you order?”

“This one is for my nephew”, Jeonghan pointed out a running track, “And this one is for me!”

“Another Lego, babe?”, Joshua asked with a laugh, starting the car and keeping his attention in the rearview mirror.

“Jisoo, this is my therapy!”, Jeonghan said outraged, showing the Lego box, “Look at this! It's going to look great in my room.”

“Iron Man's head?”, Joshua asked looking at the box, “Seems to be pretty tough.”

“Babe, look at me”, Jeonghan chuckled, “I'll finish this in two nights.”

“If you say so...”

Usually, the way back to Jeonghan's apartment was pretty quick, but this time Joshua had to find a way to try to outrun the car behind him, and it took time for Wonwoo to do what he was planning.

Joshua took the path to the main avenue where normally there were more cars, going straight through the fastest way he always did. Jeonghan was so busy reading the instructions on his new Lego that he didn't even notice the different path his boyfriend was taking, Joshua mentally thanked him for that.

The car kept following him whenever Joshua changed lanes, and that was already pissing him off. Why was that person just following him doing nothing? Just to scare him? Because that was the last thing he was on right now.

“Babe?”, Jeonghan called and Joshua just mumbled for him to continue, “I think it will take me more than two nights to put this together.”

“Okay, you can do it”, Joshua said softly, completely different from what he was feeling at the time.

He slowed down when he encountered some traffic, managing to change lanes once more and leaving the car a little further back. His cell phone vibrated on the stand and he quickly picked it up, seeing a message from Wonwoo saying he was on the same avenue and right next to the car. That relieved him a little.

“Don't touch your cell phone while driving, Soo. It's dangerous”, Jeonghan said, still reading the Lego instructions.

“Sorry, Hannie”, Joshua replied with a quick ok and looked in the rearview mirror trying to recognize Wonwoo's car.

“Who was it?”

“Oh it was Wonwoo”, Joshua put his cell back in the cradle, “He apologized for not going to karaoke yesterday.”

“Oh he's cute! There's no need to apologize”, Jeonghan chuckled and looked up at the avenue they were on, “Why did you take the long way around?”

“Don't you want to spend more time with me?”, Joshua asked with a small pout, which made Jeonghan look at him with a puzzled expression.

“I want to spend time with you in bed, not in traffic”, Jeonghan said obviously, making Joshua chuckle.

“It won't be long, Hannie. It doesn't even have much traffic today”, Joshua said as he went back to driving.

“Will you spend the afternoon with me?”

“Yes, I will”, Joshua looked once more in the rearview mirror and saw the car move back behind him, but this time he could see Wonwoo's car in the next lane, “You will start separating the pieces from your Lego, and I'm going to finish that one necklace I was making.”

“God... We're becoming an old couple, Jisoo”, Jeonghan grumbled, making Joshua laugh once more.

“It's our therapy, babe.”

Jeonghan turned his attention back to his new Lego, and Joshua kept his eyes on the rearview mirror, already thinking about how he was going to lose the car behind him when he took the boulevard exit. In the other car, Wonwoo managed to keep to the side of the car that was chasing him, trying again to see something through the tinted windows but without success.

Wonwoo grabbed the small pistol from the passenger seat and lowered the window, aiming at the rear wheel of the car and concentrating so as not to miss the single shot he had. He had been working on it a little while before the trip to Thailand, and now it would be proof that it was working. Closing one eye to get a better aim he fired, hitting the tire cap and making his cell phone vibrate at the same time. He smiled at that, because he knew it had worked.

That was a chip to track that vehicle to a certain perimeter in the city so they could chase it and catch it more easily. Using his skill as a driver, Wonwoo managed to overtake the car and get behind Joshua who quickly recognized him in the mirror. Signaling for the avenue exit, Wonwoo made Joshua quickly understand that he was going to hold the car behind him so the older one could exit the avenue and take Jeonghan home safely.

Joshua changed lanes and took the first exit, seeing in the rear view Wonwoo's car also leave the avenue and the car that was following him continued down the lane without being able to get out with them. Joshua sighed in relief and smiled as Wonwoo passed his car with the horn blowing open, and he squeezed back getting Jeonghan's attention.

“It's Wonwoo!”, Joshua smiled pointing to his friend's car who was making a finger heart through the window, “He's saying hi.”

“Ah Jisoo-ya! Get closer to him”, Jeonghan urged excitedly, waving when Joshua rolled down the window.

Wonwoo smiled at Jeonghan and saw Joshua hiss a 'thank you'. He honked again and went on his way, letting Joshua do the same thing but this time more relieved to know that no one was following him.

That would definitely be discussed tomorrow at work.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

Monday .

7:43 AM.

 

Vernon walked into the cafeteria that morning and opened a small smile when he saw Seungkwan sitting reading a document, pouting and shaking his head every now and then. He walked behind the older one who didn't even notice his presence, and that made him smile more as he realized how focused he was on that document.

The American placed his order and stared at Seungkwan while he waited, noticing how well dressed he was that morning. The pale pink shirt really suited him, even more so with the gray tie the same color as the pants. His brown hair was perfectly combed, unlike the last few days when it had been messy and falling over his eyes.

Vernon spent so much time going over Seungkwan's every detail that he didn't realize his order was ready, so he quickly paid, grabbed his coffee cup and went to sit with Seungkwan at the table. He stopped behind the older one still not getting his attention, so he bent down enough to whisper in his ear.

“Good morning, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon whispered, seeing the older one shrug.

“Oh! Good morning”, Seungkwan opened an embarrassed smile, “I didn't see you coming.”

“I noticed that”, Vernon chuckled taking a seat next to Seungkwan, “How was your Sunday?”

“It was good. And yours?”, Seungkwan asked, looking away from Vernon's eyes, taking his cup to drink some more coffee. He felt nervous at the looks the American was giving him.

“It was good too”, Vernon continued to stare at the older one, unable to hold back his laughter.

“What’s wrong?”

“Nothing, I just adore your three personalities”, Vernon said drinking some of the hot coffee, watching Seungkwan frown and straighten his glasses.

“Do I have three personalities?”, Seungkwan asked curiously. Vernon nodded chewing on his brownie, “And what are they?”

“You have your main personality, which is bossy, sassy, funny and smart”, Vernon listed and smirked, “You have the horny personality, that dominated you on Saturday. And you have the post horny personality, which is this one right now that makes you embarrassed near me.”

Seungkwan continued to stare into Vernon's amused eyes, wondering how he could answer that. When nothing came to his mind to counter that, he closed his mouth and punched the American's arm, getting another laugh in reaction.

Thinking about how he'd acted on Saturday made his cheeks burn. Everything he had done in that bed, the way he almost begged Vernon to make him scream in pleasure, was causing him a mix of different sensations at that moment.

“Sorry to embarrass you”, Vernon said squeezing Seungkwan's thigh.

“It’s okay, apparently it became a hobby”, Seungkwan said adjusting his posture and taking a deep breath, “Okay! My main personality is back.”

“Really?”, Vernon asked. Seungkwan removed the hand from his thigh and closed the file he was reading.

“Yes, and let's go because we have a meeting in a few minutes”, Seungkwan stood up with his file and his coffee cup.

“You're right. You really look good in pink”, Vernon said walking behind Seungkwan who stopped and pointed a finger at him.

“Enough of being cute!”, Seungkwan said seriously, seeing Vernon nod and stuff the rest of the brownie in his mouth, “I'll embarrass you one day, Vernon. Just wait for me.”

“Okay then.”

“And don't talk with your mouth full.”

Vernon ended up smiling at how bossy Seungkwan could be. Together they walked to the second floor meeting room, finding most of the agents talking. Seungkwan took his place next to Wonwoo who was again with his laptop, talking to Baekho while showing something on the screen. He could see a map and a stopped red dot, so he quickly understood what it was.

“Hey, is this what I'm thinking?”, Seungkwan asked sitting down.

“That's right”, Wonwoo smiled happily, “It worked, Seungkwan-ah!”

“Of course it did! You're a genius!”, Seungkwan laughed excitedly making a hi-five with the older one, “But how did you manage to put it in the car?”

“That's what we're going to discuss now”, Wonwoo said pointing to S.Coups who had just entered the meeting room.

“Good morning boys”, S.Coups said moving to his usual chair, listening to everyone respond together, “Well, we have a long week ahead of us. Our operation wasn’t completely successful and we ended up missing our main target, and first we need to understand how we lost it.”

“He had a fucking helicopter”, Hoshi grumbled. It was obvious that the leader was still outraged by the helicopter thing.

“What did you manage to find out about it anyway?”

“Nothing too important”, Hoshi said picking up his notebook, “The owner of the company that rents the helicopters in Bangkok knew who ChungHee was, but he had no idea that Khalan was involved. He seemed quite sincere, but he’ll be sued anyway because he knew ChungHee and still rented the helicopter to him.”

“Lisa will have fun with him”, Woozi chuckled.

“The helicopter was returned by some of Khalan's subordinates, so we don't know where he may have landed and where he went”, Hoshi folded his hands on the table and sighed, “We're back to square one with Khalan.”

“Then let's start climbing again”, S.Coups said seriously looking at the agents in the room, “What else do we have?”

“We have a new idiot in Seoul”, Joshua said from the back of the room, “The same car that followed Wonwoo and Mingyu the other day was following me yesterday.”

“Did you manage to catch him?”, Woozi asked, arching an eyebrow.

“Not yet, but we’ll make this quick”, Wonwoo said plugging the laptop into the TV cable, “Shua called me and asked me for help, so I went to where they were and used the new tracking chip we were working on before the trip. Now we’ll know when he's around, so we can arrest whoever the idiot is.”

“Great. Keep us updated”, S.Coups asked, “Doyun and Busan's woman, who happens to be called Minji, arrive in Seoul tomorrow morning. So, Seungkwan and Vernon, I want you two interrogating Minoru and Minji in the same room, got it?”

“Okay, got it”, Vernon said and Seungkwan nodded.

“Okay boys, I think we're done for today”, S.Coups said with a sigh, “You're cleared for your activities. Hoshi and Woozi, stay here please.”

Everyone left the meeting room leaving only the three leaders talking, leaving them curious about what it could be. Seungkwan headed to the intelligence team's office with The8, Baekho and Wonwoo, sitting in his chair and only then realizing that he had missed that environment for the past few days.

“Hey, do you want to finish the three women's rescue papers?”, Baekho asked from the next table.

“Yes, let’s go”, Seungkwan opened his email and took part of the document he had already made before, “So you panicked with the two women crying?”

“They weren't just crying”, Baekho defended himself by stepping closer to Seungkwan, “They grabbed me! I didn't know what to do.”

“Should we put this in the report?”, Seungkwan asked amused, seeing Baekho stare at him seriously, “It wouldn't be a lie. The agent really panicked with two tearful women hugging him.”

“Let's call Sangwoo here to describe the scene”, Wonwoo joked from his desk.

“That idiot didn't even want to help me”, Baekho huffed crossing his arms. Seungkwan stared at him and found him extremely cute at that moment.

“Yeah, like he was going to help you”, The8 said from the bench.

“Exactly! An idiot.”

“They were two scared women, Baekho, not two hungry lions”, Seungkwan chuckled in amusement.

“I won't be explaining myself to you guys”, Baekho said sulking, and the three of them laughed at him.

“Stop pouting and let's finish this”, Seungkwan said pulling the older one by the arm to get closer to his desk.

Baekho stared at the hand on his arm and then Seungkwan's face, breaking into a small smile and settling down beside him. It wasn't difficult to finish that report since more than half of it was done, so they just finished it and put it in the department's official template so they could file it later.

A short time later Woozi returned to the office, going straight to his desk without commenting on what he had talked about with S.Coups and Hoshi. None of the agents asked what it was about, but everyone looked at each other curiously trying to understand what could have been.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

7:14 PM.

 

Jeonghan walked into Joshua's apartment and sighed with relief when he found it empty, which made it clear that his boyfriend hadn't arrived yet and he could make the surprise he had planned.

He knew his boyfriend's apartment so well that he didn't even have to turn on all the lights to get to his bedroom, and also because he didn't want to make it obvious that someone was in the apartment when Joshua got home from work.

And maybe that was the first mistake of the night.

Jeonghan was so focused on packing up the things he'd bought that he didn't hear the bathroom door being unlocked, and since his back was turned, he didn't notice a pair of eyes staring at him.

Footsteps were heard and Jeonghan opened a happy smile as he turned to the door, thinking about Joshua’s fright and how much it would make him laugh. But his smile died as soon as he saw his boyfriend's angry eyes through the half-open door.

He had never seen Joshua angry before, and was not enjoying the sight at all.

“Jisoo?”, Jeonghan called carefully and saw the door open all the way, making him take a step back when he saw his boyfriend with a gun in his hand pointing at him, “Jisoo- What-”

“Get out of there now and I can think about not shooting you in the middle of your forehead”, Joshua said quietly, but in such a creepy tone that it made Jeonghan feel his legs tremble, “Get the fuck out of there!”

It all happened too fast. In a second Jeonghan was standing with his legs shaking, and the next second his body was thrown to the side where the bed was while two shots were made present.

Only then did he see that there was one more person in the room, and that at that moment he was on top of Joshua on the floor. It wasn't difficult for the American to get rid of the man and kick him back against the wall, causing Jeonghan to catch his breath.

“Who sent you here?!”, Joshua yelled pulling the man by the shirt until he was on his feet, “Say it! Who was the bastard?!”

“As if you didn't know…”, The man said with a smirk. Joshua knew that mocking pause was not a good thing, “Joshua Hong!

Oh shit!, Joshua thought as the man said his name out loud. That was definitely not good.

Those small seconds of distraction were enough for the man to break free of Joshua's hands by hitting a head-butt to his mouth and a knee to his stomach. Joshua lost his balance long enough for the man to run out of the room. But he was too angry to just let it go.

“Jisoo don’t-”

“Stay here!”, Joshua yelled before leaving the room.

He managed to reach him near the emergency stairs, kicking him in the back and sending him rolling down the steps. Joshua went down as fast as he could to try to catch the man, but apparently falling down two flights of stairs wasn't enough to stop him.

The emergency exit door was open, and when Joshua arrived, he found only one car sprinting down the darkened street. He recognized it and roared annoyed at having lost him again.

Fuck!”, Joshua snapped kicking the dumpster on the side of the building. The taste of blood in his mouth was making him even angrier, and when his cell phone started vibrating in his pocket, he almost threw it to the ground, but he only held back from answering as hostilely as he could, “What is it?!”

“Hyung! The car is near your apartment”, Wonwoo's voice sounded worried, “Are you alright?”

“The son of a bitch was in my apartment!”, Joshua replied, and Wonwoo realized how angry his friend was just by the fact that he was cursing, “Wonwoo, Jeonghan was there! And he called me Joshua!”

“Oh shit”, Wonwoo grimaced at that, “Did you guys have a confrontation?”

“Yeah, but he managed to get away”, Joshua ran a hand over his lip that was still sore and saw the bloody trail on his fingers, “But it wasn't serious.”

“Okay, at least you guys are fine. I'm with Baekho and we'll try to follow him now.”

“Be careful because he's not alone.”

“Don’t worry. See you later, Shua.”

“See you”, Joshua ended the call and walked back to the building.

As he climbed the stairs Joshua took off his tie and unbuttoned his shirt, thinking about what he would say to Jeonghan. Or worse, if Jeonghan wanted to talk to him.

Hoping that Jeonghan was still in the apartment Joshua went in and locked the front door, hearing nothing but silence and only the light in his room on. Slowly he walked over and found Jeonghan sitting on the bed hugging his knees, and only now more calmly could he see that his boyfriend had cut his hair and now the strands were short and black.

“Hannie?”, Joshua called in his usual soft tone. Jeonghan stared at him scared and he held up his hands, “It’s okay, it's just me.”

Jeonghan said nothing. He just stared at his boyfriend, and mentally thanked him that he was okay. Only when Joshua closed the bedroom door did he turn his attention to the gun that had been left lying on the floor since they'd left the room. Joshua followed his gaze and swallowed, bending to pick up the gun and tucking it into the dresser drawer.

He had nowhere to run, or any excuse to make up now.

“Are you okay? Are you hurt?”, Joshua asked and again Jeonghan said nothing, “Just nod your head. Yes or no?”, This time Jeonghan nodded that he wasn't hurt, which made Joshua more relieved.

Joshua shook his head and went into the bathroom to wash his hands and get something to wipe his mouth. That silence in the room was making him more apprehensive than before, but he didn't have the heart to break it at the moment.

“You're bleeding”, Jeonghan said quietly after a while. Joshua sat beside him on the bed and sighed wearily.

“It's okay”, Joshua tried to crack a smile, but the pain in his lip stopped him. So, he gave up and just put the cotton over the cut.

“Who... Who was that man?”, Jeonghan asked carefully. He was afraid to make his boyfriend angry like a few minutes ago.

“I don't know his name”, Joshua said trying to get closer to his boyfriend, but saw him shrug at the movement, “Are you afraid of me?”

“I've never seen you angry, cursing and yelling so…”, Jeonghan said with a shrug, “And also because there was someone else here looking for you. That scared the shit out of me.”

“I wasn't angry at you, Hannie”, Joshua said as sweetly as he could, trying to relax the older one somehow, “I'm sorry I scared you, but I needed to intimidate that guy somehow before he did anything to you.”

“Why was he after you?”, Jeonghan asked with a confused face, “And why did he call you Joshua?”

Joshua sighed at that and shifted on the bed, crossing his legs and running a hand through his hair that was still messed up. He just hoped this conversation didn't end the wrong way.

“That's not how I wanted to have this conversation with you”, Joshua stared at the bloodstained cotton and sighed, “But I deserve it for taking almost a year to tell you.”

“You're scaring me again.”

“Just... Just listen to me, okay?”, Joshua asked and saw Jeonghan nod.

And then he told everything. He told about his American name, about actually being a government agent and not just a pharmacist, about all the times he was traveling on missions and not the imaginary company, even about being followed the day before.

Jeonghan didn't interrupt him at all, just stared at him and listened to every word his boyfriend said. It was a lot of information, especially since he was knowing the whole truth about the man who had been his boyfriend for the past nine months, as if he was getting to know him again at that moment.

“That guy said I know who sent him here, so it can only be one person”, Joshua said tiredly, closing his eyes so he wouldn't get angry again.

“And who is it?”

“Khalan”, Joshua gritted out and regretted it in the same second, opening his eyes to see if Jeonghan wasn't startled again.

“Is he this dangerous guy you guys are looking for?”

“Yeah, that's why I went to Thailand with the boys”, Joshua said seeing that Jeonghan was going to ask what was obvious, “And yeah, they all work with me.”

“Okay...”

“Is everything okay?”, Joshua asked apprehensively, waiting for some response from Jeonghan.

“It's a hard question to answer, don't you think?”, Jeonghan let out a humorless laugh, “I practically just met a new version of you.”

“I know it's a lot and I shouldn't have hidden it from you for so long, but I was scared you'd run away and never want to talk to me again”, Joshua said quietly.

“Did you really think I would do that?”, Jeonghan asked confused, “All this time we've been together and you haven't learned anything about me?”

“Don't talk like that”, Joshua urged staring into his boyfriend's eyes, “I do know a lot about you, but that was a fear I had. It's not about knowing you or not.”

“I should have this fear”, Jeonghan said seriously, “After all I just found out I was dating a guy who doesn't exist.”

“Let's not fight, please”, Joshua pleaded taking one of Jeonghan's hands in his own, “I swear nothing was a lie. I've never faked any feelings, or said anything without being sincere. Never. The only thing I've hidden away it was about my work, and so much for wanting to protect you from all this chaos I live.”

“Jisoo, there was a guy in your apartment wanting to kill you!”, Jeonghan said arching his eyebrows, “It's a big part of your life that I had no idea that existed!”

“This is common in my life.”

“But not in mine.”

Joshua felt as if those words were a punch and had hit him directly in the gut. He felt the fear of what might come next, mainly because Jeonghan wasn't staring at him.

“Are you… Are you saying what I think you're saying?”

“I don't know what you're thinking”, Jeonghan said staring at his hands together, “Actually, is one more thing I don't know.”

“Jeonghan”, Joshua pressed his hand between both of his, feeling as if his throat would close at any moment, “You're not leaving, are you?”

As much as Joshua was afraid of the answer, he needed to know. This wasn't something he had planned, so he didn't know what he would do if Jeonghan just grabbed his stuff and left. That was a hypothesis he had never thought of, even more after he assumed to himself that he loved Jeonghan.

“I don’t know, Jisoo.”

And that was the worst answer he could get.

 

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

1:12 PM.

 

Only the sounds of keyboard were heard in the intelligence team's office that afternoon. That was something common among the agents who stayed there, especially when they were focused on some specific tasks that Woozi had ordered them to do, which was the case at the time.

Seungkwan occasionally stopped doing his research to write something down or just twirl the pen between his fingers. It helped him to think and also relieve a little of the tension that, even though it had decreased a lot since he joined the team, still existed.

He constantly received praise from Woozi for his commitment to the team, and also from Hoshi in training. It was rewarding and always motivated him to keep striving to become a good agent as soon as possible. Mingyu and Jun also helped him a lot, especially in shooting lessons, and the Chinese always left him impressed with his perfect aim.

Seungkwan turned his attention away from the monitor when he saw the cell phone screen light up with a new message. Picking up his cell phone, he opened a small smile when he saw Vernon's name on the screen. Exchanging messages with the American had become a constant habit, and he didn't even notice when the smile appeared.

Vernonie: hey, are you busy?

Seungkwan: I was studying some things... why?

Vernonie: I wanted to talk to you about the interrogation we're doing this afternoon

Vernonie: can you meet me in the second-floor hallway?

Seungkwan: yeah I'm on my way :)

Seungkwan locked the computer and got up, not really bothering to say where he was going since Wonwoo and The8 had their headphones on, and Baekho and Woozi weren't in the office. Notebook in hand he headed for the second floor, finding Vernon standing near the meeting room. The American smiled when he saw Seungkwan coming.

“Sorry to disturb your studies”, Vernon said as Seungkwan got closer.

Vernon didn't miss the opportunity to check on Seungkwan and how attractive he was that day in that black shirt. That was the main reason to have called the eldest there, as he couldn't get out of his mind how handsome he looked since he'd seen him in the morning.

“Don't worry”, Seungkwan smiled, much more from the looks he was getting, “What did you want to talk to me about?”

“Come here, I want to show you something”, Vernon grabbed the older man's arm and guided him down the hall, not wanting to draw too much attention from the people passing by.

“They both arrived this morning, right?”

“Yes, they will bring them soon”, Vernon entered a familiar hallway, which made Seungkwan frown.

“Where are we going?”

“Did you bring your notebook? That's good.”

“Yes, I brought it because... Vernon!”, Seungkwan exclaimed as he was pulled into a room.

“What's wrong?”, Vernon asked innocently as he turned on the light, leaving the older one even more confused.

“Why are we in the disguise room?”

“I want to show you something”, Vernon still had an innocent tone as he guided Seungkwan to one of the dressing rooms.

“But what are you-”

Seungkwan couldn't finish the question, because as soon as the dressing room door was closed Vernon's lips were on his. The notebook he was holding was on the floor now, his back against the wall and one of the American's legs between his, leaving the bodies completely glued together.

Even confused, he didn't fail to return the hurried kiss Vernon gave him, squeezing his broad shoulders and trying not to moan with each grip on his waist. Vernon knew how to kiss, and Seungkwan was very grateful to be able to receive those kisses.

“Vernon-”, Seungkwan said against Vernon’s lips, squeezing his shoulders again as the kisses moved down to his neck, “Vernonie...”

“Hm?”

“Reason?”, That was the only thing Seungkwan managed to say.

“You're wearing a black shirt today. It's the first time you've been dressed like that”, Vernon said against Seungkwan's neck, lifting his kisses to his ear, “And that's the sexiest version of you I've ever seen.”

My dear God, Seungkwan thought. Vernon's tone of voice always caused a lot of different sensations in him, but having him so close and whispering like that was making his legs tremble.

“A black shirt? Really?”, Seungkwan squeezed Vernon’s shoulders to maintain balance. He didn't want to be so submissive, but it wasn't like Vernon hadn't already noticed, “Is it that easy to get your attention?”

“Nothing compares to you naked in my bed”, Vernon bit Seungkwan's earlobe, smiling contentedly when he felt Seungkwan shiver in his arms, “But you in this shirt just made my list.”

Seungkwan laughed at that, pulling Vernon by his tie so he could kiss him again, but this time with him setting the pace. For a moment he didn't care where they were, not least because it would be hard to focus on anything other than Vernon's lips sucking on his.

Vernon had no idea what it was and why Seungkwan had caused that absurd desire inside him so suddenly, but it wasn't like he could control his instincts with the older one. And it's not like he wants to control that instinct.

Seungkwan was so immersed in that kiss, that for a moment he didn't mind Vernon's hands opening his belt and the button of his pants. But a snap brought him back to reality, making him widen his eyes and put his hands on the American's chest, trying to push him away but without much success since Vernon was stronger than him.

“Vernon, don't-”, Seungkwan moaned in frustration as Vernon shut him up again, tangling his tongue with his in a kiss so deep that he could feel his cock throbbing inside his boxers, “God... Vernon, not here!”

“Relax, Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon said holding up the hands that were trying to stop him, “Trust me, okay?”

“Vernon we're at work and-”

“Shh”, Vernon held the older man's wrists above his head with one hand so he could use the other to do whatever he wanted, “Just trust me.”

“You're not giving me a handjob in the middle of work, Vernon!”, Seungkwan grumbled trying to sound authoritative, but when the American's warm hand got into his boxers and pulled his cock out, he had to hold himself back from closing his eyes, “R-Right... Looks like you're going to give me a handjob now.”

“It's not like you don't want to”, Vernon smiled and Seungkwan could swear he was in front of the devil at that moment.

Seungkwan really wanted to say something else to impose himself in some way, but with Vernon massaging his balls like that it's been hard to get a sentence together without looking pathetic.

Vernon smiled satisfied when he saw the amount of pre-cum that Seungkwan had already released, running the tip of his thumb over the glans in circles, watching closely every expression of pleasure that Seungkwan made with that simple movement.

That certainly made my list, Vernon thought as he saw the older one bite his lip to stifle a moan.

“Do you like this?”, Vernon asked quietly, flicking his thumb once more over the sensitive spot, “Uh? Do you?”

“It's good”, Seungkwan replied almost in a whisper, curling his hands into fists above his head, “Very good actually.”

“And what if I move my hand like this?”, Vernon asked, moving his hand down all the way to the base, spreading the pre-cum all over Seungkwan's cock, “Good?”

“Y-Yeah...”, Seungkwan shook his head over and over, moving his hips against the American's hand looking for more contact, “Please continue.”

“You have a really nice cock, did you know that?”

“You really seem in love with him since our last night together”, Seungkwan chuckled with his eyes closed, remembering how devoted and hungry Vernon looked that night. Vernon laughed at that.

“I’m glad you noticed.”

Vernon returned to kissing Seungkwan's already swollen lips as he moved his hand along the length of the older one, swallowing some moans that only made him move his hand faster. He could feel Seungkwan's cock throbbing in his hand, releasing even more pre cum through his fingers and making everything even more pleasurable than it already was.

All that feeling of doing that in the work environment, with the possibility of having someone walk into that room at any time, made Seungkwan feel even more horny than allowed. It was like the saying went.

The feeling of getting caught was so much better.

Shit! Vernon I-”, Seungkwan moaned against the American's lips, feeling his balls tighten and that famous sensation coming closer, “Fuck I'm so close!”

“It's okay, Seungkwan”, Vernon intensified his movements, pressing his forehead against Seungkwan's, “You can come for me.”

Seungkwan writhed against the wall trying to loosen his hands to try to grab any part of Vernon's body, but as that wasn't possible, he was content to just move his hips until he came all over the American's hand.

His heart was beating so fast he could feel the pulse in his ears, and he could feel the sweat on his face from the absurd heat that coursed through his body. That had certainly been one of the best experiences of his life.

“Okay I need to make a correction”, Vernon said when Seungkwan opened his eyes to glare at him, “That's the sexiest version of you I've ever seen.”

“Shut up!”, Seungkwan chuckled tiredly, getting his hands free and taking the opportunity to run them through his hair, “Fuck! That was intense.”

“Haven't you ever had anything like that?”, Vernon bent down to get a box of paper tissues so he could wipe his hand.

“No, never”, Seungkwan took one of the paper tissues to clean himself and laughed again, “You really gave me a handjob in the disguise room! I can't believe it.”

“Yeah, I did. And it was really good”, Vernon chuckled in amusement.

“Where did you get those tissues?”, Seungkwan asked when he finished cleaning himself, seeing Vernon crack a mischievous smile, “You pervert! You already had that planned, didn’t you?”

“Seungkwan-ah, I’m going to teach you something very important”, Vernon took one of the tissues and walked over to wipe the sweat from the older man’s forehead, “This room is isolated and has lockable dressing rooms. You really think people just use this room to change or prepare for missions?”

Seungkwan broke. In fact, that information broke him. After Vernon said it, it seemed so obvious, it made him feel like an idiot for never having considered the possibility.

“You look really cute when you just discovered something so obvious”, Vernon chuckled as he straightened some messy strands of Seungkwan.

“God… I’m working at a motel!”, Seungkwan finished fastening his belt, hearing Vernon laugh once more, “How could I be so blind?”

“You were just being too innocent.”

“And you are the guy who took it from me!”

“Thank God I did”, Vernon bit his lip, checking on Seungkwan again.  Seungkwan felt a shiver in his stomach at that, after all the American’s gazes were always very intense, “It’s almost time for the interrogation. Shall we?”

“Yes, let’s go”, Seungkwan threw away the dirty tissues, took his notebook and took one last look in the mirror before following Vernon out of the room, “Do I look like I just got a handjob?”

“Just a little bit”, Vernon smiled amusedly before opening the door, “Don’t worry. You look great.”

“Okay… Have you trained today?”

“Not yet. I was thinking about training after the shift”, Vernon said as they walked down the hall to the elevator, “Why?”

“Nothing”, Seungkwan smiled innocently, stepping into the elevator with Vernon standing beside him still curious, “Just curiosity.”

Vernon stared at Seungkwan with narrowed eyes.  That tone of voice was the same one he’d used a few minutes ago, so it was obvious the older one was thinking about something.

And now he was eager to know what it was.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“And here we go”, Vernon said sitting down with the file in hand, looking seriously at the handcuffed woman who was sitting across from him, “Minji. What's your last name?”

“It’s none of your business”, The woman replied in a hostile way.

“Okay, Minji it's none of your business”, Seungkwan said twirling the pen between his fingers, “We need you to answer us a few questions.”

“Yeah right”, Minji scoffed staring at her nails.

Vernon stared at Seungkwan at his side, the older one adjusting his glasses and taking the file from the other's hands. It would be interesting to see Seungkwan deal with an annoying person, so Vernon crossed his arms and let the elder go on.

“It's okay, I'm really good at reading people”, Seungkwan said, scanning the document, “I took a good look at your entire file today, and I confess I was impressed. You've managed to fool a lot of people throughout your life, committing crimes and, impressively disgustingly, aiding in the trafficking of women.”

“This really is impressive”, Vernon agreed. He didn't take his eyes off Minji and it was visible how bored she was.

“I wondered a few times why you would have joined Khalan”, Seungkwan placed the open file on the table and ran his finger across the paper, now staring into the eyes of the woman in front of him, “But after mapping out all your steps, I concluded. You needed to hide, and being by Khalan's side you would have almost an army by your side, wouldn't you? So it's simple. You submit to his orders in exchange for protection. Am I right?”

“Didn't you say you can read people?”, Minji asked and Seungkwan smiled.

“And I can”, Seungkwan braced his arms on the table, tilting his head to the side, “And what I can see is a woman who thinks that is superior just for serving Khalan. But let me tell you something... He’s not going to get you out of here, so stop this bullshit because we don't have all the time in the world! Got it?”

“You're funny!”, Minji chuckled amused, “'Oh, I've mapped your steps.' Khalan's right, you guys are pathetic! All that time mapping me and you never managed to catch me, so you better stop with this bullshit, kid!”

“We never what?”, Seungkwan asked frowning. He glared at Vernon and then looked across the interrogation room, pulling the handcuffs that held the woman's hands up, “I'm pretty sure we could get you.”

Vernon held back a laugh at that, even more so when he saw Minji's expression change from mocking to angry.

“That was a good one”, The8 said laughing into the communicator. Seungkwan released the handcuffs and straightened in his chair.

“Now what? Did you accept reality or not yet?”

“You think you're very smart, don't you?”

“I don't think, I am smart. And now that I've gotten you mad, can I have the answers I need?”, Seungkwan asked turning the pen around in his hand again. Minji leaned back in her chair and kept quiet for the next few seconds, which made Seungkwan shake his head, “Okay, I got it. Vernon, you can bring him, please.”

“Okay, one minute”, Vernon said getting up to leave the room.

“It's so cute how he obeys you”, The8 scoffed. Seungkwan held back a smile at that.

“What is this?”, Minji asked looking at the door Vernon left.

“You'll like it, don't worry”, Seungkwan had an annoying smile.

“Hurry up, man!”, Vernon's voice was heard on the other side of the door.

Seungkwan looked at the door and saw Vernon enter pulling Minoru by the arm. The moment Minoru saw the woman in that room, his expression changed to enraged.

“You!”, Minoru raised his cuffed hands. Seungkwan could see Minji shiver in her chair, “You fucking bitch!”

Wow! Calm down!”, Vernon held him, so he wouldn't rush against the woman, “What do you think you're doing?!”

“I knew they were going to get you!”, Minoru said with an evil smile, “You're just a shitty bitch! Didn’t I always tell you we'd end up in the same place? Uh?!”

“You're pathetic”, Minji said without much emotion.

“It's an emotional reunion,” Seungkwan said smiling. Vernon placed Minoru in the chair next to Minji, but keeping an eye out in case he tried to pounce on her again, “You don't look so happy, Minoru.”

“Should I be happy to see the woman who fucked up my life?”

“Like you haven't fucked up my life too!”, Minji snapped.

“And now you'll be together forever in jail”, Vernon said amusedly. The two stared at the agent seriously, making him drop his smile, “Back to the interrogation. Seungkwan?”

“What kind of relationship do you guys have?”, Seungkwan asked, turning the pen between his fingers again.

“Define relationship”, Minji asked looking in disgust at the man beside her, “I mean, have you ever smelled him?”

“Unfortunately yes.”

“Well then. Do you think I would have what kind of relationship with him?”

“Well, you were with him in Busan, and at night you were gone”, Vernon said crossing his arms, “So, you knew we'd be there for the night, didn't you?”

“Of course I knew”, Minji said like it was no big deal.

“And why didn't you tell me?!”, Minoru asked indignant.

“Why would I do that?”

“Oh, you bloody bitch!”, Minoru snarled, “And look where you are now! Was it worth it to betray me like that?”

“You were out of the plans, Minoru! You can't be that dumb!”, Minji yelled. Vernon and Seungkwan stared at each other for a moment, turning their attention to the argument going on in front of them, “Khalan doesn't count on you anymore!”

“That's not what ChungHo told me!”

“And where's ChungHo?”, Minji asked, “And ChungHee? When did any of them, or even Khalan, come to get you out of here? Wake up, Minoru!”

“This is being more interesting than I expected”, The8 said amusedly.

“If Khalan doesn't needed you anymore, why were you involved with him?”, Seungkwan asked, noting everything they were saying.

“He needed someone to deliver the packages. Or do you think every one of those bastards would go to Busan for their package?”

“But what is the purpose of trafficking women?”, Vernon asked.

“Do you know how much money is involved in human trafficking?”, Minoru asked, eyes widening, “Lots of money, kid! And when you run the trafficking of women and drugs... you become-”

“Khalan”, Minji concluded simply.

“Exactly.”

Seungkwan and Vernon faced each other again, processing all that information. Even The8 had been silent. Seungkwan knew Khalan was powerful, but now he had another idea about the power he had over Asia.

That scared him a little.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

9:12 PM.

 

The fast breathing and the whimpers of fear were the only things heard in that building. The man running desperately, trying to get away from whoever was desperately chasing him.

He didn't even know where he was running, but when he opened the last door in that corridor the strong cold wind of that night hit his face. It was then that he realized he was on the roof of the building, and from there the only way out was the fire escape or jumping.

Footsteps were heard from the iron stairs, which made his despair grow even more. He had nowhere to go, and no one to help him.

That really was the end.

“Tic tac... Tic tac”, The voice that followed him imitated the sound of the clock, coming out of the darkness of the door that was open, “Your time is running out.”

“Please!”, The man said in a tearful tone, taking a step back, “Please don't kill me! I beg you!”

“It would be interesting to see you begging.”

“Please! I'll do anything you want!”, The man pleaded as he walked back, “I promise! I won't open my mouth with anything! Just let me live, please!”

“I don't have much time and patience for negotiations”, The other man approached pulling out his gun, “So let's get this over with because I have more to do.”

“No! I can-”

That sentence was never completed. Two shots to the chest caused enough impact that the man's body was thrown back on the edge of the terrace and fell down floors until it crashed into the ground meters below.

A few moments later Baekho kicked open the terrace door, knocking whoever was ahead in a grunt of pain. He looked down and saw Sangwoo standing up and staring at him in confusion.

“What are you doing here?”, they both asked at the same time.

Sirens and some screams were heard and both ran to the edge of the terrace, seeing the body of the man who a few minutes ago was lying there in a pool of blood. People formed a circle around the body trying to see what had happened, and the cops were doing a great job trying to contain that crowd.

“It's too late”, Sangwoo said shaking his head, backing away from the edge of the terrace, “What the hell!”

“Shit!”, Baekho muttered as he backed away from the edge, “Where did the bastard who did this run away? Because there's no other way out but to jump!”

“The fire escapes”, Sangwoo said pointing to the rusty stairs on the other side of the terrace.

“If he went down there we still have time to catch him, Sangwoo!”

“Don't be stupid!”, Sangwoo grumbled impatiently, “Surely he had a calculated escape route. We will just waste energy chasing someone who isn't here anymore.”

“You're right”, Baekho said staring at the eldest, frowning then, “And what are you doing here?”

“I was on a mission. What about you?”

“Me too”, Baekho replied, still frowning, “I had to keep an eye on that guy.”

“What do you mean?”, Sangwoo asked confused, “That was my mission!”

“It's not possible.”

“Who gave you this mission?”

“Coups. And you?”

“Coups”, Sangwoo replied with a humorless laugh, “How wonderful.”

“He's going to love knowing we lost the guy and couldn't arrest anyone.”

“You give him the bad news”, Sangwoo said running a hand through his hair, “I'll go downstairs and talk to the cops. We have a body to analyze now.”

“Sangwoo you-”, Baekho stopped talking when he saw the agent leave the terrace.

He rolled his eyes at that and took out his cell phone, dialing the number of the leader who didn't take long to answer. That made him close his eyes for a second, hoping that at least S.Coups was busy enough not to answer right now.

“Coups here!”

“Hey Coups”, Baekho said biting his lip. He was really going to get a scolding, “Sorry to call you at this hour.”

“It's okay. What happened?”

“I was after the guy you passed me last week, and I found him. But now we have a problem.”

“What kind of problem?”, Coups asked seriously. Woozi, who was beside his husband on the bed, looked up from the book and stared at him, “Did you catch the guy?”

“Let's say the guy got away”, Baekho said hesitantly, looking over to where the man's body lay. He can see Sangwoo talking to some cops at the crime scene, “And...”

“And? Speak up, Baekho!”

“And now the Fuchu representative is dead.”

S.Coups, who had put the call on speakerphone so that Woozi could also hear, widened his eyes and stared at his husband, who had closed the book and taken off his glasses to massage his eyes after that information. That was not good, especially with Baekho not having managed to arrest anyone.

“We talk tomorrow.”

And with that the call was ended. Baekho put away his cell phone and grunted, thinking of the scolding he would be getting the next day. He looked down once more and rolled his eyes, thinking it wouldn't be so bad to jump out of that building either.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

8:05 AM.

 

“We're late for the meeting!”, Seungkwan said as he hurried down the hall with a box in his hand.

“Five minutes doesn't hurt anyone, Seungkwan-ah”, Wonwoo said unconcerned, but walking as fast as the youngest.

“We're going to get scolded and it's your fault, hyung!”, Seungkwan grumbled entering the second-floor hallway. Wonwoo chuckled behind him but stopped as the meeting room door opened, “Sorry we're late, guys.”

“We needed to get some things for the meeting”, Wonwoo completed closing the door and going to sit next to Seungkwan.

“It's okay, we haven't started yet”, Jun said simply.

The atmosphere in that room was the worst Seungkwan had ever witnessed. Everyone was silent, but when they wanted to say something, it was only in a whisper, as if they were afraid of being scolded.

Seungkwan noticed that Coups, Woozi, and Hoshi weren't in the room yet, and judging by the intelligence team leader's sour mood that morning, this was going to be quite a meeting. He left the box on the table next to his notebook, sighing and looking at his friends at that big table until his eyes met Vernon's on the other side. He gave the American a small smile as if to say 'good morning' since they hadn't seen each other that morning, and the same was quickly returned.

“What is this?”, Mingyu asked approaching his friend, looking curiously at the box.

“You'll know after the meeting”, Seungkwan said simply, knowing that was enough for Mingyu to gnaw on curiosity.

“Ah Kwan! Tell me what it is!”

“Mingyu, restrain your curiosity”, Wonwoo said amusedly.

“But I want to know!”, Mingyu muttered in a pout, but got serious again when he saw the door open and two of the three leaders stomped in, “Oh shit... Today is going to be one of those days.”

Hoshi and Woozi went to their usual places, which were on either side of Coups' chair. The two had terrible expressions and Seungkwan could notice other agents swallow hard and avoid eye contact with their respective leaders. He'd only seen Woozi pissed off once in all the time he'd been there, and he wasn't enjoying seeing him pissed off again.

Everyone jumped in the chair when they heard the loud bang that the door made when it was closed, and when everyone turned to see who had done it, there was S.Coups and his most pissed-off face.

S.Coups trudged over to his chair in silence, wrenching open one of the drawers to grab the remote and turn on the big TV. The image of a body in a pool of blood appeared and caused some to widen their eyes and others to look away, which was the case with Seungkwan. He looked at the leader at the end of the table and shivered at the look he had as he looked at each of the agents.

“Who is that guy?”, S.Coups asked and everyone was silent, “Baekho? Sangwoo?”

“It's Fuchu's representative”, Baekho replied quietly, almost scared.

All agents stared at each other in a mixture of surprise and confusion, not understanding the purpose of it all.

“And what's he doing in that pool of blood?”, S.Coups asked facing the two agents, and when neither of them answered he threw the controller in the drawer and closed it violently, making everyone jump again, “Answer me! What the fuck is he doing in that pool of blood?!”

“He's dead”, This time it was Sangwoo who answered. It was the first time Seungkwan had seen him hesitant.

“And why is he dead?”, S.Coups asked crossing his hands on the table, “I'll get that one. Because we're acting like a bunch of incompetent idiots!”

“Coups, I-”

“Silence!”, Seungkwan had no idea what the fuss was about, but he was shivering with fear at the leader talking like that, “I only gave you two one job! Just one fucking job! And you managed to let the guy be killed! Now what? What the fuck am I going to tell the consulate in Japan?”

“Sorry, leader”, The two said together with their heads bowed.

S.Coups had bulging neck veins and red skin, showing how angry he was. He looked at the two agents a moment longer and took a deep breath, running a hand through his black hair as if trying to calm down.

“The murder of the Fuchu representative isn't the only thing we've received”, Hoshi said seriously.

“Lisa called us from the hospital”, Woozi said, “Her operation was attacked by Khalan in ChungHee's rescue. Half of the agents died.”

All agents widened their eyes, staring at each other shocked by that information. So that was the reason for all that irritation, which Seungkwan now knew was anger and frustration.

“Is she okay?”, Mingyu asked worriedly.

“She's hurt and shaken, but alive”, Hoshi replied.

“And now we have ChungHee on the loose again”, Woozi completed.

“This case is already taking on bigger proportions than it should, and we're stuck in the same place, guys. We urgently need to move even a single step forward! Any clue, any sign, anything!”, S.Coups said in frustration, “I need you all to do your best so we can end this once and for all, understood?”

“Yes, sir”, Everyone replied together.

“Fine. Now you can go ahead with what you had to do in this meeting.”

“Right”, Wonwoo cleared his throat, kicking Seungkwan's leg so that he too stood up, “It'll be really quick. Seungkwan-ah?”

“Woozi asked us to prepare something that would keep us tracked during this dangerous time we've been living, even more after Joshua's apartment was broken into”, Seungkwan started walking to the front of the room with Wonwoo, “So Wonwoo, The8 and I worked together on a device that goes unnoticed, so we can use it without drawing attention.”

“We thought about wearing the badge, but nothing gets more attention than that”, Wonwoo connected the laptop to the TV to show the images, “So, we thought of something simple like a ring. It would be a simple accessory and not flashy.”

“This ring should be worn on your pinky and it's very light”, Seungkwan said starting to hand out the boxes to each of the agents in the room, “It has a nano chip that can show our location anywhere in the world, as well as showing our vitals through a mobile app The8 had already developed.”

“He's fire and water proof, so we can rest easy with any possible incident”, Wonwoo said.

“That's really nice”, S.Coups said looking curiously at the ring before putting it on his finger, “Is it already working?”

“Yes, and we launched the monitoring app to each one's cell phone. The three leaders have special accesses to do other things besides accessing the monitor and tracker”, The8 added.

“Amazing!”, Hoshi said admiring the ring on his finger, “How you guys do this kind of stuff?”

“Excellent work, boys”, Woozi said happily to his team. Seungkwan preferred that version of the leader.

“We're done, Coups”, Wonwoo said returning to sit with Seungkwan.

“Right. So you're all dismissed”, Coups said getting up, “Any further advances please call me right away.”

“Yes sir.”

Everyone got up and walked out of the meeting room slowly, still silent from everything that had happened in the last few minutes. Some agents went to the cafeteria to buy something to drink, and Seungkwan used that moment to follow Joshua who was going to the field team office.

The eldest was still shaken by the argument he had with Jeonghan the other day, so he wasn't always with the rest of the agents at breakfast or lunch, not to mention spending most of the day in silence.

Seungkwan didn't like that, and since Joshua had become one of his favorite agents there, he decided to do something for his hyung to help him in some way.

“Shua hyung”, Seungkwan walked into the office, making the eldest face him, “I have something for you.”

“What is it?”

“I made an extra ring for you”, Seungkwan said handing the box to the older man who now had a confused look, “It's for you to give it to Jeonghan. So you can keep close to him and know if he's in danger or not.”

“Oh!”, Joshua arched his eyebrows in surprise, “You didn't have to do this, Seungkwan-ah.”

“It was pretty simple actually”, Seungkwan smiled at him, “And now you have an excuse to talk to him.”

“It's a good excuse”, Joshua opened a small smile and hugged the younger boy's shoulders, “Thank you, Seungkwan-ah.”

“No need to thank me! And I hope things between you guys get better soon.”

“Me too”, Joshua sighed and tucked the box into his backpack, “I'll give this to him. Well, at least I hope he doesn't shut the door on my face.”

“He won't”, Seungkwan smiled confidently, “Hyung, I'm going back to the office because I have some things to finish, but I’m cheering for you!”

“Alright. Thanks, my number one fan”, Joshua chuckled, flopping into his chair when Seungkwan walked out of the office.

He missed Jeonghan a lot, even though they haven't been speaking for just a few days. And now he had to think about how he was going to hand the ring to the eldest without looking like a complete freak.

Across the department, Mingyu was walking down the hall towards the gym with Wonwoo at his side. They decided to train together that day and talk a little about their morning meeting. They would take advantage of the fact that most agents would be busy with their tasks to train before everyone else and have some time alone to talk.

“This is all your fault!”

The two stopped walking as soon as they heard Sangwoo's angry voice inside the gym. Wonwoo held Mingyu's arm to they both lean against the wall, so they wouldn't be noticed so easily.

“How can this be my fault?”, Baekho asked just as annoyed.

“You shouldn't have shown up there!”

“That was my mission too, Sangwoo!”, Baekho pushed the older man's shoulders, “It's not my fault if you didn't know!”

“And did you happen to know that I had this mission too?!”, Sangwoo asked and smiled mockingly when Baekho was silent, “Well then.”

“But that doesn't make sense”, Baekho said without the irritated tone now, “Why would they do that?”

“Don't be an idiot Baekho! You're on the intelligence team for what reason”, Sangwoo said frustrated, “Coups wants to test us! And it's so obvious now that I'm feeling offended.”

“But test us for what?”

“Who here has an accusation of treason?”, Sangwoo asked and in less than two seconds Baekho was grabbing him violently by the shirt.

“I already told you I didn't betray the team!”, Baekho said through clenched teeth, “When are you going to get this out of your fucking mind?!”

“Whenever I want!”, Sangwoo took the younger boy's hands out of his shirt, pushing him back, “It's not because I agreed to work with you again, that I forgot everything that happened. Even more about what happened before that.”

“If you got your pretty heart broken, it's not my fault”, Baekho scoffed, seeing Sangwoo's face turn red, “That happened years ago and it has nothing to do with this story. So grow up and get over it, Sangwoo!”

“Listen to me”, Sangwoo stepped closer, pointing a finger in Baekho's face menacingly, “I don't like you. I don't even trust you. And there's no order in the world that's going to stop me from ending you, so don't tease me and get out of my way! Did you understand?”

Baekho said nothing. He just stared at Sangwoo fixedly, making it clear that he didn't care much less was afraid of the older one. Sangwoo snorted for the last time and walked out of the gym, looking down the hallway with a frown feeling the strange even if empty environment. He shook his head and went on his way without looking back.

Mingyu, who when he saw Sangwoo heading towards where they were, pulled Wonwoo to the first door he found, was looking intently at the entrance to the gym, seeing Baekho leave minutes later much more calmly than the older one.

“I think we can get out of here now”, Mingyu said looking down the hallway.

Wonwoo, who was glued to the highest body, never once looked down the hall. It was as if something was locking his eyes on Mingyu’s face who was only inches away. Mingyu's well-designed jaw was something that always caught his attention, and combined with the heat and smell that his body emanated Wonwoo felt mesmerized.

“Already?”

Wonwoo only realized he had asked that question out loud when Mingyu stared at him confused, realizing how close they were. The older man's intense gaze made him shiver, anxious whether he should do something or just wait for the next step.

“Mingyu-ah”, Wonwoo called low.

He smiled as he stood on tiptoe and saw Mingyu flinch, blinking several times. It was fun to see Mingyu get nervous at a simple approach.

“W-What's it?”

“Let's get out of here”, Wonwoo opened the door completely, startling the youngest.

“Ah! Yeah, yeah...”, Mingyu pulled away from Wonwoo, getting as far away as he could without looking awkward, “Let's work out?”

“Yeah, let's go”, Wonwoo still had an amused smile as he passed Mingyu, finding the gangly way amusing.

“What did you think of their discussion?”, Mingyu asked, intending to change the subject.

“I was surprised”, Wonwoo said going to the mat, “Especially the part where the two didn't know they were on the same mission. That's weird.”

“None of the leaders would do that”, Mingyu said thoughtfully, “On the contrary, they would have a meeting just to lay out the mission objective.”

“Exactly! So it doesn't make sense”, Wonwoo had the same thoughtful expression, but changed to curious when he remembered another point in the conversation, “And what do you think happened between them before the betrayal story?”

“It seemed pretty personal”, Mingyu said as he stretched, “Baekho even quoted a broken heart.”

“Do you think it must be something between them?”

“If not, it was definitely about some romance Sangwoo had and Baekho knew about.”

“That's interesting”, Wonwoo smiled in amusement, “We never know anything about Sangwoo's personal life. Knowing he had a romance in here is very exciting.”

“Are you that curious?”

“Said the most curious guy I know.”

Mingyu looked seriously at Wonwoo, but he couldn't hold back his smile for long.

Certainly those findings would be used in the future with the rest of the team, besides leaving them with a warning signal with the two agents.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Ah! Vernon.... don’t!”, Seungkwan moaned, pulling the American's hair between his fingers, “Don't do that!”

“Don't you like it?”, Vernon asked as he finished opening the shirt, lightly biting one of Seungkwan's nipples and smiling when he felt him squirm beneath him.

“Oh, I do like it”, Seungkwan pulled the American's head up, staring into his amused eyes, “But I already said I need to go.”

“Can't you leave a little later?”, Vernon took one of the hands from his face, kissing the fingers and the soft palm.

Seungkwan felt his stomach quiver at the sight.

“I said I couldn't stay long”, Seungkwan said more softly now, playing with Vernon's ear with his free hand. Vernon liked it when the older one did that.

“But I thought I could change your mind”, Vernon said mischievously, bracing his hands on the sofa to get closer to Seungkwan, “And I'd make you sleep here again.”

“Oh Vernonie”, Seungkwan chuckled arrogantly. Vernon stared intently into the older man's eyes, struggling not to close his eyes with the caress he received in his ear, “You're such a fool to think that.”

“I could try”, Vernon nuzzled Seungkwan's neck, closing his eyes as he smelled the scent that was most often present in his days. Seungkwan bit his lip as the warm, wet lips contacted his neck, “Uh? Can I?”

“You really are the devil”, Seungkwan let out a laugh, squeezing Vernon's shoulders when he felt a bite on his pulse point, “Vernon, stop teasing me!”

“I'm not doing anything yet.”

The innocent tone was like a trigger for Seungkwan. Placing both hands on the American's shoulders he pushed him back enough to make him sit on the couch, so that he could then sit on his lap. Vernon had his eyes wide open at that inversion but as if it were something automatic, his hands went straight to Seungkwan's waist keeping him as close enough.

Seungkwan opened the most perverted smile he could and approached Vernon's face, seeing him close his eyes waiting for the contact that didn't come. Instead of soft lips what he got was even better.

“One day I'm going to trap you on this couch, and I'm going to fuck you so hard you'll think twice before teasing me.”

Vernon was sure he had passed out. Even for just a second.

He wanted to have the strength to respond, but all that strength and attitude he always had was gone with the idea of Seungkwan fucking him and saying dirty words in his ear on that couch.

“Did you understand, Vernonie?”

Son of a bitch, Vernon thought when Seungkwan used his most innocent tone.

Seungkwan saw the younger one open his eyes and nod, squeezing his waist and bringing him closer, making clear the erection that tightened his pants. Seungkwan laughed at that and kissed the lips he wanted so much.

Vernon was surprised by that attitude of Seungkwan, as he was the one who had taken control of the actions until that moment. But it was exciting to have Seungkwan controlling him, saying what he thought and kissing him the way he wanted.

“Being submissive might be better than I thought”, Vernon thought.

“Good to know”, Seungkwan bit the American's lower lip, leaving one last peck before standing up. Vernon widened his eyes and opened his mouth to ask if he had actually said it out loud, “And yes, you did say it out loud.”

“Shit!”, Vernon swore through his teeth, embarrassed at having exposed himself like that, “Pretend I never said that.”

“Too late”, Seungkwan smiled as he ran a hand through his hair to straighten it, “You look cute with red cheeks.”

“Stop it!”, Vernon stood up, trying to get closer to the eldest, “You can't act like that, leave me like this and go away, Seungkwan-ah.”

“Leave you like what?”, Seungkwan kept his tone innocent as he buttoned his shirt. He felt like laughing when Vernon rolled his eyes and pointed to his pants.

“Are you really going to leave me with blue balls?!”

Seungkwan looked at the visible bulge between Vernon's legs and couldn't contain his laughter. He felt proud that he had left the American like that, but he couldn't help but laugh at the look of despair Vernon had at the moment.

“I'm sorry, but yes”, Seungkwan approached him, hugging his neck and curling his fingers between the soft strands of hair, “I promise to make it up to you one day.”

“The day you lock me up on that couch?”, Vernon asked hopefully, smiling when he heard the eldest laugh again, “Because we can do this right now.”

“I told you I can't, Vernon”, Seungkwan said, rolling his eyes at the little pout the American was doing, “Don't be a spoiled brat.”

“Don't call me spoiled brat when you want the same thing as me.”

“Oh I really want to, but I have to accompany Chan today.”

“I know this is more important, but it's hard to think I'm going to have to play in the shower today”, Vernon grumbled. Seungkwan laughed at that, leaving a long peck on his lips.

“If you want to call me when you play in the shower I won't complain.”

“Oh you naughty boy”, Vernon said trying to pull Seungkwan back by the arm, but the older one dodged laughing as he walked to the door, “Okay, I already know I won't hold you here.”

“Exactly.”

“Then be careful on the road”, Vernon zipped the last button on the older man's shirt, “And let me know when you get home.”

“Yes sir”, Seungkwan smiled and received one last peck before opening the door and being startled by what he saw, “Oh shit!”

“Knock-knock?”, Sangwoo said amusedly with a raised hand in which he was ready to knock on the door before it opened, “Am I interrupting something?”

“No!”, the two said at the same time.

“Okay...”

“I'm already leaving anyway”, Seungkwan said leaving the apartment and calling the elevator, “I'll see you guys tomorrow.”

“Seungkwan-ah, don't forget to... You know?”, Vernon showed his cell phone and the older one smiled at him.

“You too”, Seungkwan blinked before entering the elevator.

“You two became friends quickly, didn't you?”, Sangwoo asked amused, making Vernon's eyes widen.

“Yeah! The trip to Busan brought us a lot closer”, Vernon nodded and let his friend into the apartment, “We have common tastes.”

“Yeah, sex”, Sangwoo chuckled, flopping onto the couch and grimacing, “Should I worry about the couch?”

“What?!”, Vernon gasped, “We don't-”

“Don't even try, Vernon-ah”, Sangwoo tapped the seat beside him, “I know you too well to know when you're getting laid or not.”

“That's weird but okay…”, Vernon sat beside his friend on the couch still surprised, “But how do you-”

“I suspected. You two aren't subtle”, Sangwoo said simply, “When did it start? Thailand?”

“Um... yes?”

“I saw you coming out of his room one day and I thought it was weird, but after seeing you guys coming out of the disguise room the other day I connected the dots”, Sangwoo said laughing at the younger boy's startled expression, “And you two almost fuck with your eyes when you're together.”

“Okay that's pretty embarrassing”, Vernon cleared his throat and scratched his head, “I thought we were hiding it well.”

“For most of the team yes, but I know you very well”, Sangwoo ruffled Vernon's hair, “Why didn't you tell me?”

“I wanted to understand what was going on before talking to someone”, Vernon said simply.

“Are you two dating?”

“No!”, Vernon quickly denied, “Not even close. We're... You know...”

“Just fucking every now and then. Got it.”

“Don't tell anyone, please.”

“I won't do that, trust me”, Sangwoo crossed his legs to get more comfortable, “I just worry a little about you.”

“Why?”, Vernon asked, settling himself on the couch, “And why did you come here at all?”

“I wanted to talk to you, and seeing Seungkwan here reminded me of something else I wanted to understand.”

“What would it be?”

“Are you hungry?”, Sangwoo asked taking his cell phone, leaving Vernon confused.

“Hm... A little bit, but Sangwoo-”

“Let's order food then, because our conversation will take a while.”

Vernon was still confused, but decided to go with what his friend suggested. He had no idea what the conversation could be, but if Sangwoo said it would take a while then he should prepare for such a conversation.

 

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

1:10 PM.

 

“This looks delicious”, Hoshi said looking at the jajamyeon they had ordered, “It smells great.”

“You're right”, Mingyu smiled, pleased with the delicious smell, “I'll go get our drinks.”

“I'll help you. Seungkwan-ah, get us a table please”, Hoshi asked following Mingyu through the third-floor restaurant.

Seungkwan just nodded and took a tray, looking around the restaurant which was quite full since it was lunch time. He found Vernon sitting at the table they usually shared, then walked over to where he was with a content smile.

“Hey Vernonie!”, Seungkwan said happily as he sat down next to the American.

Vernon was startled by that, looking surprised at Seungkwan and feeling weird with the smile he was getting, not being able to reciprocate as he used to do.

“Oh, hey”, Vernon said simply.

“Have you had lunch already?”, Seungkwan asked looking at the American's empty tray, getting a nod, “Oh okay. How are you? I didn't see you at breakfast today.”

“Yeah... I was a little late today, so I skipped breakfast.”

“Hm... Don't skip meals, Vernon”, Seungkwan warned taking his chopsticks, “Isn’t good for your health.”

Vernon just nodded again, looking around the restaurant waiting for someone else to sit with them. He hoped not to meet Seungkwan that day, so he was late and left for lunch early, but apparently he was either bad at strategizing or very unlucky.

“You didn't call me yesterday, so I guess you must have played alone”, Seungkwan joked trying for some answer other than a nod.

“I didn't actually do anything”, Vernon cleared his throat, “Sangwoo and I ordered food and we talked for a long time.”

“Oh yeah, that's good”, Seungkwan smiled once more before starting to eat, “You guys are pretty close, aren't you?”

“Sangwoo was with me at a very difficult time”, Vernon said, hoping Seungkwan would stop staring at him as it was making him nervous, “Joshua too, but Sangwoo came first.”

“That's nice! It's good to know you have someone like that in your life too.”

“What do you mean?”

“What?”

“You said it was nice that I had someone like that in my life too”, Vernon said leaning his arms on the table, “What do you mean 'too'?”

“That I'm glad you have someone to rely on”, Seungkwan replied with a frown, “When I asked Mingyu or any other agent about you they told me you were more serious and didn't talk much. So knowing you have a person to trust is comforting.”

“You were asking about me?”, Vernon asked ignoring all the explanation.

“Of course!”, Seungkwan replied obviously wiping his mouth, “About you and other agents too.”

“Why?”

“Because I'm the newbie!”, Seungkwan chuckled shaking his head, “I wanted to meet you all. Why these questions, Vernon?”

“Curiosity”, Vernon shrugged and looked away, seeing Baekho take a seat at another table further away. Seungkwan also found the agent and pointed to him.

“I also asked a lot about Baekho.”

“Do you know the story?”, Vernon asked, getting a nod as Seungkwan had his mouth full again, “And who do you believe?”

“It's hard to take sides because I wasn't here”, Seungkwan covered his mouth and looked at Baekho once more, “But so far I believe in Baek.”

“Baek?”, Vernon frowned in confusion, “Are you two that intimate?”

“We work together almost all day, Vernon”, Seungkwan said obviously, “And we have a lot of common tastes.”

Vernon just mumbled in response and turned his attention to the movement in the restaurant again. Seungkwan looked at him out of the corner of his eye, finding that questioning attitude weird and quieter than he was getting used to. Even more after the night before where Vernon was much more relaxed and talkative than usual at work.

On the other hand Vernon was thinking about so many things at the same time, his head was starting to ache. After the long conversation he had with Sangwoo the night before, some old topics were coming back hard inside him. Topics he thought he'd already outgrown, but apparently they were just hidden inside him.

“Vernon, are you okay?”

Vernon was startled again. He turned his head quickly to Seungkwan, meeting a worried look.

No, I'm not okay, he thought as his stomach lurched and his head ached.

“I... I ate spicy food last night, and I didn't sleep well”, Vernon said the first thing that came to his mind. He didn't want to share more information about himself with Seungkwan at that time.

“You're sweating”, Seungkwan pointed out using one of the napkins to dry the American's face and neck, “And you're paler than usual. Do you want me to go with you to the infirmary?”

“No, I'm fine!”, Vernon mumbled shrugging his shoulders, making Seungkwan back away.

“I'm just worried about you, Vernon.”

“It’s not necessary”, Vernon felt bad about answering in that rude way, but it wasn't something he could avoid.

“And here we are!”, Hoshi said excitedly as he sat in front of Seungkwan.

“Here you go, Kwan”, Mingyu said placing the cup in front of his friend, noticing the strange look at Vernon. He alternated his gaze between the two and frowned in confusion, “Is everything alright?”

“Vernon is not feeling well and is playing stubborn.”

“I already said I'm fine, Seungkwan!”, Vernon snapped, avoiding looking at the older one and feeling bad guilty.

“Wow! Easy there”, Mingyu said seriously.

“Vernon, what's wrong?”, Hoshi asked looking intently at the youngest, “You're sweating and nervous. Do you want to talk?”

“I want you to leave me alone!”

With that said Vernon got up with his tray and left the restaurant, being accompanied by the three agents who were confused by that attitude.

“Did he say something?”, Hoshi asked seriously.

“No. He started sweating out of nowhere and he had a weird look”, Seungkwan replied trying not to look shaken by the way Vernon had spoken to him, “He said he didn't sleep well and skipped breakfast today.”

“Is he getting sick?”, Mingyu asked starting to eat.

“Vernon doesn't act like that when he gets sick”, Hoshi said taking out his cell phone, looking for Joshua's contact and dialing. The agent picked up on the third ring, “Shua, it's me. Please find Vernon and talk to him. He's acting weird again.”

“Again?”, Seungkwan asked looking at Mingyu, “Has he ever acted like that before?”

“Only once.”

Seungkwan watched Hoshi end the call with Joshua and start eating, bringing up any topic not to talk about it at lunch. Soon Wonwoo, Jun and The8 joined them at the table, fleshing out the conversation and making Seungkwan even more curious.

After some minutes, he finished eating and took advantage that The8 was heading back to the office to go with him. Yes, he still felt shaken by the rude way Vernon had spoken to him at the restaurant, but if he wasn't feeling well it wasn't his fault.

“Hyung?”, Seungkwan called as they entered the office, with The8 staring at him right away, “Do you still have that tea that makes you relax and calm down?”

“I always do”, The8 said opening the drawer and handing the youngest a package, “Feeling stressed?”

“It's not for me”, Seungkwan pocketed the package as he walked to the door, “Thank you.”

“You-”, The8 couldn't finish speaking as the younger one bolted from the room, “Okay then.”

Seungkwan walked through the corridors until he reached the field team's office, finding the room almost empty. Only Sangwoo was in the room facing his computer, but he diverted his attention when he noticed the presence of the youngest.

“Hey Seungkwan-ah.”

“Hey. Have you seen Vernon or Joshua?”

“Joshua has gone to take Vernon home. He's not feeling well”, Sangwoo said simply, “Is it something important?”

“No, I just wanted to know how he was doing”, Seungkwan said in frustration.

“He'll be fine. He just needs some time alone.”

“Alright. Thanks, hyung”, Seungkwan thanked him and left the room.

This was all very weird, especially with Mingyu saying that Vernon had only acted weird once, and Sangwoo saying that he needed to be alone. It worried him in a strange way, and he didn't like the feel of it.

Little did he know that this was just the beginning of it all.

 

The next day.

 

“I think in the next monthly evaluation we can make a circuit of obstacles!” Hoshi said excitedly, “What do you think?”

“You are the leader”, The8 said amused.

“Would we split up or would it be each for themselves?”, Jun asked interestedly.

“We could split into pairs and make an overall ranking”, Hoshi pointed out looking at Woozi and S.Coups, “What do you think?”

“Let's discuss this later”, S.Coups asked, “I like the idea.”

Seungkwan watched that conversation in silence. He kept looking at the door, hoping to see Joshua or Vernon come in so he could be more relieved, but only one of them walked through the door that morning.

Joshua entered in silence and went straight to where Hoshi and S.Coups were sitting, talking to both of them in a very low tone.

Seungkwan felt his heart miss the beat at that.

“Again?!”, Hoshi asked and Joshua just nodded.

“Shua, please stay in touch with him all day”, S.Coups asked and Seungkwan could see the worry on the leader's face, “If you need to go to him you're authorized.”

Seungkwan stared at Joshua and the two leaders alternately, trying to understand anything about Vernon. He looked at everyone in the room and began to feel irritated to see that everyone apparently had some notion of what it was but him.

When S.Coups dismissed them for their activities, Seungkwan took Mingyu by the arm and hurried to the disguise room, ignoring his friend's confused expression.

“Kwan, what-”

“What happened to Vernon?”, Seungkwan snapped, seeing Mingyu close his mouth, “I want to know because apparently everyone knows but me. And I hate not knowing something, and you know that!”

“I know”, Mingyu sighed, “I don't know exactly what it is, but I already have an idea.”

“So tell me what it is!”

“Well, for Hoshi to ask 'again', and Coups to tell Joshua to get in touch with him, Vernon is probably having another crisis”, Mingyu said seeing Seungkwan frown.

“Another one?”, Seungkwan asked changing his tone from annoyed to worried in seconds.

“After a messy case we had, Vernon started having some anxiety and panic attacks”, Mingyu explained, “And thinking about how he was yesterday at lunch, it's very likely that he was having an onset of crisis right there.”

“But... Why did he develop this?”, Seungkwan asked worriedly, “Has anyone harmed him?”

“Yes, but I can't tell you this, Kwan.”

“Why not?!”

“Because I don't even know what happened”, Mingyu shrugged, “Only Joshua and Sangwoo know the detailed story. The leaders do too, but only the summary.”

Seungkwan stared at Mingyu trying to absorb it all, thinking about Vernon having a new anxiety attack right now and how much it made his chest hurt. He would worry about why he was feeling that way the other day, because right now he just wanted to find Vernon and make him feel better somehow.

“Why are you so worried, Kwan?”

“It's just…”, Seungkwan saw Mingyu narrow his eyes at him, “We've gotten really close in the last few weeks. That's why.”

“Uhum”, Mingyu shook his head unconvinced, “Be careful.”

“What you mean?”

“I'm just telling you to be careful”, Mingyu said seriously. Seungkwan didn't like it when his friend assumed that posture, “I don't want you to get hurt.”

“Gyu, I don't-”

“I know you, Seungkwan”, Mingyu said simply, squeezing his friend's shoulder, “And I know you fall too easy for someone.”

“That won't happen, Mingyu”, Seungkwan said trying to sound serious, “I only care about him like I care about you and my brothers.”

“Only that?”

“Only that.”

“Okay then”, Mingyu nodded. But Seungkwan knew that his friend didn't believe him, “Come on, let's get back to work.”

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

8:32 PM.

 

Joshua had been standing outside Jeonghan's apartment for exactly twenty minutes, pacing and thinking about how to talk to him. He had gone home after work to take a shower and try to stay as relaxed as possible, but all that calmness he always had had gone to hell the moment he stopped at the older man's door.

He reached into the pocket of the hoodie he was wearing, reaching for the little box the ring was in to look at it once more. At the same time, images of the night his apartment was broken into came back to him, making him think of all the danger that Jeonghan had been in, and that if he hadn't been aware something worse could’ve happened.

Thinking about it, he took a deep breath and put the box back in his hoodie pocket again, ringing the bell and waiting for the door to open.

Jeonghan opened the door and raised his eyebrows in surprise when he saw Joshua standing with his hands in his pockets and his shoulders hunched, as if he was afraid of something. The youngest was wearing a baggy hoodie and his black hair was damp and messy, almost covering his eyes. The ones that didn't have the same shine as usual.

Why does he have to be so attractive?, Jeonghan thought.

“Hey”, Joshua said with a small smile.

“What are you doing here?”, Jeonghan asked confused, “How did you get up? I left an order in the lobby not to let you in.”

“Well, the emergency stairs exist for a reason”, Joshua said pointing to the door at the end of the hall. Jeonghan rolled his eyes at that.

“That's great”, Jeonghan said ready to close the door, but was stopped by the younger man's hands, “Jisoo, take your hand off.”

“I need to talk to you.”

“I don't want to talk to you right now. I told you that.”

“I know, and I promise I'll respect your space”, Joshua had a pleading look in his eyes, “But it's very important.”

“What is it?”

“Let me in to talk?”

“Nope.”

“Come on, please!”, Joshua whimpered. He really didn't want to have that conversation in the hallway, “I promise it'll be quick. Give me twenty minutes.”

“It's too much…”, Jeonghan pressed his lips together and Joshua rolled his eyes. He hated when the older one acted like that.

“Okay, ten minutes then. I promise I'll leave after this, and leave you alone”, Joshua proposed and saw Jeonghan’s eyes shift away from his, “Please Han... Jeonghan. It's really important.”

Jeonghan stared into the pleading eyes of the man in front of him, understanding that it really must be something important. He knew very well that Joshua respected him enough to obey him and not seek him out even against his will.

He snorted at that. Knowing that, even if he wanted to, he couldn't just close the door on his then-boyfriend's face.

“Okay”, Was what Jeonghan said as he stepped away from the door for the American to enter.

“Thanks”, Joshua said in relief. Following the older one into the kitchen, “How are you?”

“Your ten minutes are already counting”, Jeonghan said seriously, taking a seat in one of the chairs.

“Right! Uh... It's about what happened in my apartment the other day.”

“You say about the day a guy was in your room waiting to kill you? Yes, I remember.”

“It would be fun to see him try to kill me, but that's not the focus here”, Joshua sat facing the older man. Jeonghan thought his confidence was amusing, “That guy had followed us before, as well as following other team agents. That's why the intelligence team's agents made an accessory, so they could track us and know if we're in danger or not.”

“Cool”, Jeonghan shook his head slowly, “And what do I have to do with that?”

“They gave each one a ring”, Joshua showed the ring on his pinky, “And Seungkwan gave me another one. He said he made it for you, so I could know if you're in danger or not.”

“What's it like?”, Jeonghan asked confused, seeing the box with the ring in Joshua's hands, “Is this serious?”

“Very serious.”

“You want to track me down, is that it?”

“No. I want to take care of you”, Joshua said simply, “I can't stand to imagine anything bad happening to you. That's why I want to know, so I can be close and protect you.”

Jeonghan was looking intently at Joshua, the one who kept his posture serious so that the older man would understand how important this was. When Joshua saw him shift his eyes to the unopened box, he opened it to show the ring. It was a simple and very beautiful ring, and Jeonghan thought of the trouble they had gone into making that ring just for him and how disrespectful it would be to refuse.

“Did Seungkwanie do this?”, Jeonghan asked taking the box and Joshua smiled at him.

“Yeah. He made one for you and his brothers”, Joshua explained.

Jeonghan couldn't deny that he was glad to be remembered by his new dongsaeng, and also that Joshua was there saying he wanted to protect him from anything possible that might happen.

Thinking of Joshua right now was a mixture of emotions, good and bad, that left him confused and with a headache. And for that reason he didn't want to think too much, especially at that moment with his biggest weakness sitting right in front of him.

“Okay, I'll text him thanking for his consideration”, Jeonghan said closing the box and turning back to face Joshua. The one who now looked at him tenderly, “What is it?”

“This wasn't exactly the first ring I wanted to give you”, Joshua said sincerely. Jeonghan felt his stomach turn over in anticipation at that, “But I'm going to change that.”

“Yeah... Uh...”, Jeonghan cleared his throat, as apparently his entire vocabulary was gone with that statement, “Your ten minutes are up.”

“Alright, I'm leaving”, Joshua turned around to leave the kitchen but decided to enjoy that moment for a few more seconds before he left, “I didn't tell you before, but you look beautiful with your new haircut.”

Jeonghan stared at Joshua for a few more seconds, nodding his head in thanks because if he opened his mouth to say something he was sure he would embarrass himself. Joshua could see the Jeonghan's cheeks blushing at the compliment, and it made him feel good to walk away.

He made all his way hidden to his car and as soon as he got in he turned on the heater, since that night was being very cold. As he warmed up, Joshua leaned his head back against the leather seat and closed his eyes, letting out a tired, relieved sigh. It was great to see Jeonghan up close again, even though he was still mad at him.

“Joshua, you're a big idiot”, He mumbled to himself and opened his eyes when he felt his cell phone vibrate in his pocket.

Joshua saw a new notification in the app The8 had developed for the ring, and the smile he got when he read what it was about was impossible to describe.

"Yoon Jeonghan has entered monitoring."

 

Chapter Text

Incheon, South Korea.

7:36 PM.

 

It was a rainy day.

The gray and cold weather perfectly matched the depressive mood Vernon was in. He hadn't worked for the past two days, and he had thanked his leaders for understanding that he wasn't able to leave his own home at the time.

Vernon couldn't sleep more than three hours without waking up with a nightmare or having another anxiety attack, things that hadn't happened in a long time. Joshua calls or texts him all the time, and he's been talking to his friend a lot because Joshua could easily calm him down.

Sangwoo has also been texting, wanting to know if he was okay or if he needed something, as he knew that when Vernon was feeling unwell, he didn't eat right. Vernon dispensed any kind of visit from the two friends. He wanted to face this alone for once.

But it wasn't just the anxiety attacks and nightmares that were bothering him. Thinking about Seungkwan, and how he had been a complete jerk to him two days ago was killing him. The newbie had changed many things inside him since he arrived, and having spent more and more time with him made Vernon gradually stop being someone closed and serious.

Seungkwan didn't deserve that. He didn't deserve that rudeness. Not when all he's been doing is approaching Vernon and showing how fun it is to live. But at the same time, he thought about it and how much he wanted to be close to the oldest, there was always something bad to cover all that happiness.

What if he doesn't really care about me?

What if he's just using me to get something in return?

What if he doesn't like me?

What if I screw it up?

“Stop it!”, Vernon growled angrily.

He jumped out of bed and stood facing the glass porch door, putting his hands in his pockets and watching the light rain fall that night. He used to like the rainy weather better. Today he is terrified of being alone in some thunderstorm with loud thunder. Just thinking about thunderstorms made his body tremble.

Vernon looked at the cell phone lying on the bed and picked it up, unlocking it and opening his messaging app. He responded to Joshua's messages saying he was feeling better just so he wouldn't make his friend even more worried.

“Joshua hyung is already in too much trouble to put up with my crises”, Vernon said, closing the chat window with his friend and looking at the only unread message.

Seungkwan had sent him a message the day before. Only one. He had read through the notification center, but didn't respond because he didn't want to start a conversation at the moment.

Boo Seungkwan: Vernonie, maybe you're having a hard time right now, but everything will be fine! I'm here if you need me :)

That message made Vernon feel even worse. Knowing that he had been an idiot the other day and yet Seungkwan had still sent him a message offering comfort was like a punch to the stomach. He didn't deserve it. Not him.

“Oh, fuck it”, Vernon grumbled and sat up in bed, dialing Seungkwan's number and being surprised when he was picked up on the third ring.

“Hey!”, Seungkwan said flustered. Vernon felt a small urge to laugh at that. But very small.

“Hey Seungkwan-ah”, Vernon replied quietly. His voice was thicker than usual for the long time he was silent.

They were both silent for a moment, just listening to each other's breathing. Seungkwan didn't know what to say, much less Vernon.

That made him roll his eyes at the stupidity.

“Are you busy? Am I holding you back?”, Vernon asked hesitantly.

“No! Of course not”, Seungkwan replied quickly. Vernon could hear a door slam shut, “I was reading a book.”

“Uh... Good.”

“And you? What are you doing?”

“I'm talking to you”, Vernon replied and felt like punching himself right away. Seungkwan giggled at that answer, “I mean, I wasn't doing anything before I called you.”

“Got it. It's okay, it's good to do nothing sometimes”, Vernon could feel that Seungkwan was being careful about what to say. That made him feel good.

“Seungkwan-ah, can I ask you something?”

“Of course! What is it?”

“Can you come over?”, Vernon asked, quickly adding so as not to appear inconvenient, “If it won't bother you, of course!”

“Why would it bother me?”, Seungkwan asked amused, “I love spending time with you.”

“I don't know... Maybe you already have other plans.”

“Vernon, it's cold and raining. My plans were to read and sleep”, Seungkwan joked. He would be happy to see that he managed to get a small smile from Vernon, “Give me thirty minutes and I'll be there. Have you eaten yet?”

“Not yet...”

“Then I'll bring us food!”

“Thank you, Seungkwan-ah.”

“No need to thank. See you in a bit!”

“Okay, see you”, Vernon hung up and stared at his cell phone.

Thinking that Seungkwan was coming to see him made him feel better, even more that the older one had accepted right away. He left his cell phone on the bed and got some clean, warm clothes, going to the bathroom to take a good shower and get rid of that lazy smell he had been carrying for a whole day.

Vernon doesn't know how long he was in the bathroom, but he left feeling more excited than before. Maybe because of the hot water and clean clothes, but deep down he knew it was because Seungkwan could arrive at any moment.

He left Seungkwan's name released at the lobby and took the opportunity to tidy up the living room, keeping some pairs of shoes scattered around, throwing some dirty clothes in the hamper and throwing away some food packages.

“I really am messy”, Vernon grimaced when he was done tidying up and turned to the door when he heard the bell.

Quickly he wiped his hands and ran them through his still-damp hair, trying not to make it so messy. Adjusting his hoodie one last time he opened the door, finding a smiling Seungkwan with two bags in hand. He also wore a thick hoodie and a cap. A totally different look from what Vernon was used to, but which he didn't fail to find extremely attractive.

“Hey Vernonie!” Seungkwan said excitedly.

“Hey”, Vernon said still looking at how beaming Seungkwan was. When he realized he had been staring for too long, he shook his head and opened the door wider, “Come in please!”

“Thank you”, Seungkwan came in and took off his wet shoes, “This weather is no joke.”

“Sorry to make you leave your house in this weather.”

“Stop apologizing”, Seungkwan asked leaving the food bags on the coffee table. He pulled Vernon by the arm to get closer, “I told you I love spending time with you.”

“Okay…”, Vernon nodded self-consciously, “Thanks for coming.”

Vernon saw Seungkwan smile tenderly seconds before pulling him into a tight hug. He was shocked for a moment, but slowly returned the hug he was getting. He didn't know how much he missed a hug until he got one, and it was being the best hug he'd had in a long time.

Seungkwan closed his eyes as Vernon hugged his waist and buried his face on his neck, feeling him take a deep breath. That made him smile.

“How are you feeling?”, Seungkwan asked quietly, feeling Vernon’s calm breath against his neck.

“Now? Much better”, Vernon replied against Seungkwan's warm neck, feeling a hand in his hair, “I needed this.”

“You can ask me for a hug whenever you want”, Seungkwan opened his eyes as Vernon raised his head to face him, “I'm very good at this, you know?”

“I noticed”, Vernon smiled and Seungkwan felt like he had won everything with that little smile, “Seungkwan-ah, I'm sorry for that day. I didn't want to talk to you in that rude way.”

“It's okay. You weren't feeling well”, Seungkwan shook his head, stroking the American's hair, “I was worried about you.”

“Thanks for worrying. I called you as soon as I read your message.”

“I didn't know what was going on, and everyone seemed to know”, Seungkwan grimaced, “Mingyu told me you were probably not okay, so I wanted you to know that it's okay to feel bad sometimes, and that I’m here if you needed something.”

“Thank you. Really”, Vernon placed a kiss on Seungkwan's round cheek, seeing him smile embarrassedly and walk away from him.

“You're welcome. Uh... Shall we eat?”, Seungkwan asked opening the bags and Vernon thought that reaction was funny.

“What did you bring?”

“Pizza and fried chicken”, Seungkwan showed the boxes and could see Vernon's eyes light up, “Are you hungry?”

“Maybe a little”, Vernon sat down on the floor and grabbed the TV remote, turning it on to make the environment more comfortable, “Let's eat before it gets cold.”

Neither of them said much while they ate, especially since Vernon didn't realize how hungry he was until he took his first bite of pizza. Seungkwan looked at him from time to time and smiled happy to see the American eating with such enthusiasm, even more after hearing Sangwoo say that he tended to not eat right sometimes.

Vernon thought that being silent with Seungkwan would be somewhat embarrassing, but it was being very pleasant. They didn't need to talk all the time, and he noticed how comfortable it was to just sit and enjoy the company of the older one.

Seungkwan had this gift of leaving a comfortable environment just by being present, and every time his eyes ended up meeting in that living room the eldest always smiled tenderly at him, making him even more relaxed.

“Are you sleepy?”, Seungkwan asked noticing Vernon blink slowly at the TV.

They had already finished eating a few minutes ago, and after cleaning everything up Vernon pulled Seungkwan back to the couch to watch the program that was on.

“No, I'm fine”, Vernon rubbed his eyes and Seungkwan could swear he had never seen a scene as cute as that.

“You can lie on my lap if you want”, Seungkwan said patting his thighs.

Vernon stared at him for a few seconds, thinking how tempting that proposal was, especially since he was really getting sleepy. Eventually he lay down on the couch, snuggling his head in Seungkwan's lap and letting out a tired sigh.

Ah, this is very good, he thought.

“Are you sure you're not sleepy?”, Seungkwan asked taking a hand to his soft hair.

Vernon closed his eyes and sighed with that affection, not remembering the last time he had received something like that.

“I haven't been sleeping well.”

“You can sleep if you want.”

“You're going to sleep here, aren't you?”, Vernon asked opening his eyes and staring at Seungkwan, “Please? I don't want to be alone.”

“Well, if you want it so bad, I can spend the night”, Seungkwan said simply, brushing a strand of Vernon's eyes. The brown eyes looked so pleading that there was no way in the world for him to say no.

Vernon smiled and settled his head in Seungkwan's lap again, closing his eyes to enjoy the caress he received in his hair and ear. That was being the best moment in the last two days, and he wanted to be able to stay awake to enjoy more of Seungkwan's delicious caresses, but little by little he ended up being overcome by sleep.

Just before Vernon fell into a deep sleep, Seungkwan managed to get him to bed and cover him with the thick blanket as the night was being quite cold. He left only the dim light from the bedside lamp on and went back into the living room to turn off the TV and make sure the doors and windows were locked.

He had already brushed his teeth with one of the new toothbrushes Vernon had given him, so he just had a glass of water and went back to the bedroom. Laying down carefully to not wake the American, he straightened up and turned off the lamp, laying his head on the pillow and watching every detail of Vernon's face.

To him, Vernon had a unique beauty that he had never seen equal in any other man. The mix of nationalities had made Vernon so handsome, that Seungkwan doubted he would ever find anyone more handsome than him.

Ignoring the chill in his stomach that he felt at the thought of that, Seungkwan closed his eyes and waited for the sleep that didn't take long to come.

A few hours later, Seungkwan woke up scared with a jump in bed and a flash. He raised his head and listened to the sound of heavy rain falling, and still scared he turned in bed finding an agitated and sweaty Vernon.

Vernon squirmed on the bed and kicked at the blanket, letting out tearful mumbles and occasionally punching the mattress. Still sleepy, Seungkwan was confused about what he should do and how he should do it.

“Vernon?”, Seungkwan called, pulling what was left of the blanket off his legs, “Vernon, wake up!”

“No, please!”, Vernon whimpered turning his head against the pillow. Seungkwan got close enough to grab his shoulders, “Let me go!”

“Come on, Vernonie”, Seungkwan squeezed his shoulders trying to keep him down, “Wake up!”

“Leave me alone!”, Vernon yelled almost at the same time a loud thunder rumbled.

That made him open his eyes and jump on the bed scared, and with the sudden movement he ended up hitting Seungkwan's face, who took one of his hands to his mouth with the pain he felt. But even in pain he pulled Vernon's body against his own, holding him tightly against his chest.

“Vernon, calm down!”, Seungkwan said with teary eyes from the blow, “It's alright! I'm here with you!”

“H-He's here! He's going to get me again!”, Vernon muttered trying to get out of the grip.

“No one will catch you!”, Seungkwan pulled his sweaty face so he could look into his frightened eyes, “It was a nightmare, Vernon. There's no one here but us.”

“But he was here! I saw it!”

“Look at me!”, Seungkwan said firmly, “There's no one here. And even if there was, I wouldn't let them catch you. Okay?”

Vernon stared into the older man's still teary eyes, nodding quickly before throwing himself against the cozy body. Seungkwan hugged him tightly, feeling his body tremble and his fast-breathing crash against his neck.

Vernon closed his eyes tightly, clutching the hoodie Seungkwan was wearing as if he was afraid he would run away. He could still feel his body hot from the nightmare, but the good smell that Seungkwan had was slowly calming him, and when he felt again those familiar fingers in his hair everything started to get better.

Seungkwan didn't know how long they had been in that position, but he only dared to move when he felt the calm breath against his neck, quite different from before. He looked down and found Vernon with his eyes open, playing with one of the strings on his hoodie much calmer than before. There were still a few drops of sweat on his face, the same ones that were making a few strands of hair stick to his skin, so carefully Seungkwan brought his free hand up to Vernon's face and wiped the sweat away with his fingers.

Vernon closed his eyes at the contact and lifted his head when he stopped feeling it, meeting the older man's worried eyes and one more thing made him widen his eyes and furrow his brows.

“Seungkwan-ah! Your mouth is bleeding!”, Vernon said looking at the blood on the older man's lower lip.

“Oh, it's alright”, Seungkwan touched the corner of his lip, grimacing at the pain he felt, “It's not a big deal.”

“Did I do that?”, Vernon asked, pulling away worriedly. Seungkwan got up from the bed to get a tissue from the bathroom.

“It was an accident, Vernon”, Seungkwan replied from the bathroom, “Don't worry about it.”

“How not? You're bleeding!”, Vernon sat up in bed, watching the older man's every step, “I hurt you. I’m sorry.”

“You weren't aware”, Seungkwan said in a calm tone, walking back into the room with a small tissue against his bottom lip, “I was too close when you got up scared. Seriously, forget about it.”

“But that-”

“Vernonie”, Seungkwan said firmly, making the American shut up, “It's just a small cut, not a shot. I forgive you.”

“Really?”, Vernon asked when Seungkwan went back to bed. The older one felt like laughing at the worried look he was getting.

“Yes. Go back to bed, please.”

“Does it hurt?”, Vernon pulled Seungkwan closer, staring at him intently.

“Just a little... Vernon! Stop staring at me like that!”, Seungkwan slapped the American's arm, “You look like a maniac.”

“Sorry”, Vernon pulled the blanket again, laying down on the older boy's lap, “Is it okay for me to lie down here?”

“Yeah, you can lie down”, Seungkwan ended up laughing at that question. That worried and even hesitant version of the American was something new to him, “Are you feeling better?”

“Yes, the fear is gone”, Vernon sat on his back, “You managed to calm me down.”

“That's good”, Seungkwan smiled, turning on the lamp and seeing the bloodstained tissue, “It didn't even bleed that much.”

“It's getting swollen.”

“Tomorrow will be better.”

Seungkwan left the dirty tissue beside the lamp and looked at the American lying on his lap. Vernon had his eyes closed, breathing calmly, and it was impossible to hold his hands down to his dark hair. It was becoming a habit and neither of them was willing to stop.

Seungkwan ran his fingers through his soft hair up to his ear, stroking it from time to time and finding it funny when Vernon sighed in satisfaction, showing how much he was enjoying that caress. His fingers moved slowly over his jaw and down his smooth cheek, enjoying every detail of that face that was so attractive to him. It was then that he noticed a scar on Vernon's eyebrow, something he hadn't noticed before.

“You have a scar here”, Seungkwan ran his thumb over the small mark. Vernon nodded slowly, “Was it on a mission?”

“No, it was when I was seventeen”, Vernon opened his eyes, “Let's say I had an eyebrow piercing.”

“No way!”, Seungkwan chuckled incredulously, “Did you really have an eyebrow piercing?”

“Yes, I did.”

“What a rebellious boy!”, Seungkwan joked, making Vernon laugh.

“What I wanted most was to be rebellious”, Vernon joked, “My mom thought it was cute but my dad hated it. He said I was going to turn into a bad guy and smoke pot because of the piercing.”

“You don't need a piercing to smoke weed”, Seungkwan said obviously and Vernon looked at him curiously.

“What is it?”, Vernon asked arching an eyebrow, “Did you smoke weed in high school, Seungkwan-ah?”

“Maybe...”, Seungkwan shook his head. Vernon chuckled at that, “But that's not the point! Tell me how you got that scar.”

“It was an accident”, Vernon said stopping to laugh, “I never liked sports but I needed grades. So, one day I was helping to put on the volleyball net, and my piercing got stuck. And here comes the scar.”

“That must have hurt a lot”, Seungkwan said with a grimace.

“There was blood everywhere, but at least I stayed out of classes.”

“Did you rather have your eyebrow slit then playing volleyball? Really?”

“Of course!”, Vernon said like it was nothing. He flashed an amused smile and arched an eyebrow, “So you smoked weed in high school?”

“It was just once!”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “And it was horrible. I had Mingyu by my side the whole time, so I couldn't do much.”

“Was he a pain in the ass?”

“No, actually he was very protective of me”, Seungkwan said nostalgically, “So I don't have much to complain about.”

“They mocked you?”

“Vernon, I was the nerd, short and chubby boy”, Seungkwan chuckled, “I was always teased, but Mingyu would always show up and beat them up.”

“High school really is hell on earth”, Vernon sighed and Seungkwan nodded.

“Yeah, but it didn't last more than a year. I started taking muay thai lessons, so I became the nerd, skinny guy who knew how to fight.”

“What an evolution!”, Vernon chuckled impressed, “So you started hitting others and smoking pot. Got it.”

“Stop it!”, Seungkwan hit the American's chest, “I didn't hit anyone, but I made them afraid of me. And about the weed, it was just an experience after a soccer game. No big deal.”

“Got it”, Vernon chuckled, “It's nice to have these experiences in high school.”

“Oh yeah. When I lost weight and learned how to fight, I started playing soccer and becoming more popular”, Seungkwan smiled smugly, “It was fun. I got lots of girls.”

“Yeah, sure”, Vernon scoffed. Seungkwan looked at him seriously and arched an eyebrow, showing he was serious. Vernon widened his eyes, “No way!”

“Why not?”

“Because you are so gay!”

“And how do you think I found that out?!”, Seungkwan asked obvious. He really wanted to laugh at the shocked expression Vernon was making.

“Uh no!”, Vernon grimaced, “I just can't imagine you with a girl, Seungkwan-ah!”

“Well, then I'm sorry to tell you this”, Seungkwan held the American's face to say that looking him straight in the eye, “But I dated a girl.”

Argh no! It's impossible!”, Vernon covered his face, shaking his head. Seungkwan laughed at that dramatic reaction, “I don't want to have that image in my head!”

“It was fun, you know? We were a cute couple”, Seungkwan teased, still laughing at the American.

“God, what a horrible sight”, Vernon took his hands away from his face, still grimacing, “But did you guys just dated like, with the basics, or… you know? Did you do other things?”

“Vernon, we dated for six months”, Seungkwan said obviously, “Of course we did other things.”

“Enough. I don't want to hear it anymore”, Vernon whimpered as he buried his head in Seungkwan's belly, “I can't imagine you with a girl, Seungkwan-ah. It's impossible.”

“Stop the drama”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, running his fingers through the American's hair, “I don't do that anymore today so rest assured.”

“You planted the seed in my head! There's no going back.”

“Oh, come on! Are you going to tell me you've never dated a girl?”

“I've never dated”, Vernon said obviously, “I've slept with a few, but I've never dated any of them.”

“You're a jerk”, Seungkwan chuckled and Vernon followed suit.

“Maybe I am.”

“You sure are”, Seungkwan pondered, slowly stopping laughing.

The two continued to stare at each other in silence, but other than being something uncomfortable it was being very comforting. Vernon felt comfortable there, lying in the lap of someone he'd known a little over a month ago, but what felt like a long time. He didn't feel pressured or uncomfortable to tell a simple story about his adolescence, on the contrary, it was something very natural. A lot more natural than he thought.

Seungkwan gently massaged the earlobe of the man lying in his lap, completely ignoring the nice shiver that would arise in his stomach every now and then. That wasn't something he wanted to think about at the moment, as much as he'd noticed it over the past week.

“Vernonie?”, Seungkwan called in a low tone. Vernon muttered in response, looking intently at the eldest, “I don't know if this is too private, but...”

“Go on.”

“You said you've slept with some girls before”, Seungkwan started hesitantly, feeling embarrassed to ask that. Vernon nodded, waiting for him to continue, “When did you start being attracted to men too?”

Vernon didn't respond at first. He continued to stare into Seungkwan's curious eyes, thinking about how he would answer that question.

If it were anyone else asking him that, he would quickly frown and close the subject rudely. But he wouldn't do that.

Not with Seungkwan.

“It was a very private question, wasn't it?”, Seungkwan said guiltily at the American's silence, “I'm sorry! You don't need to answer that.”

“No, it's okay”, Vernon chuckled amused at the older man's slight despair, “I was just thinking about how the story would start.”

“But if you don't want to answer that's fine! I'm very curious sometimes.”

“You're being too cautious”, Vernon rolled his eyes, but still with an amused smile, “I'm fine, I don't need all that care.”

“Sorry, I can't do that”, Seungkwan pressed his lips together, shaking his head playfully.

“Alright then”, Vernon sighed and laid his head on Seungkwan's lap, “Well, I moved to Korea when I was 18 to go to college. I used to live with my grandfather but he passed away the next year. So, I was a 19-year-old boy living alone in Seoul. Can you imagine that?”

“Why are you talking like this happened many years ago?”, Seungkwan asked laughing, “You're 24, Vernon. Stop being so nostalgic.”

“I want to make the story a little dramatic”, Vernon emphasized, “Anyway. From 19 to 21 I lived a normal, boring life. You know, going to college, partying, and having a part-time job at a bar. And that was in that bar I was recruited.”

“Who recruited you?”

“Sangwoo, obviously”, Vernon rolled his eyes in amusement, “He was there the night there was a fight at the bar. I ended up getting involved, and since I always liked fighting I ended up getting his attention. He took me out of the fight and he talked to me, being very interested in how I knew how to fight”, Vernon now not only had the nostalgic look, but also the tone of voice. Seungkwan listened attentively to him without interrupting, “We became friends and one day he offered me to work on Coups’ team. Since I couldn't stand working at that bar anymore and I was already finishing college, I ended up accepting.”

“So you literally joined the team by getting into a fight?”, Seungkwan asked, laughing in disbelief, “Why is this so you?”

“Hey! I'm a lot more disciplined today”, Vernon corrected indignantly.

“Okay Mr. eyebrow piercing. Continue.”

“You won't forget this, will you?”, Vernon narrowed his eyes and Seungkwan shook his head, holding back an amused smile, “Continuing. I started training with the team and, like you, I was soon assigned to my first mission. It was a simple thing. I just needed to follow the team to a strip club and take care of the exit. And that's where it all started.”

“You really won't stop with that dramatic tone”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, snorting tiredly at that. Vernon smiled smugly.

“I was sitting at the counter watching the boys move when a guy sat down next to me. I remember being surprised and amazed at how attractive he was, even more so for looking lost in that place”, Vernon looked up at the ceiling now , remembering every detail of that night as if it had happened the day before, “I asked him if he was feeling okay because he looked around strangely. He said he was with a friend, but he was gone with one of the girls at that club and had left him behind. I offered him some of the water I was drinking and he started talking to me, and since the operation that night had been such a success I had no problem continuing to talk to him.”

“And the boys dropped you off at a strip club talking to a stranger?”, Seungkwan arched an eyebrow, seeing Vernon shrug.

“I was already an adult and could do whatever I wanted”, Vernon replied simply, “And we were talking outside the club, of course. That place was very uncomfortable.”

“I can imagine.”

“We exchanged numbers that night and he texted me two days later, wanting to know if we could meet again.”

“And that's when you started flirting?”

“I don't remember when it was exactly. When I realized we were already hanging out all the time, and one fine day I woke up in a bed that wasn't mine”, Vernon explained, seeing Seungkwan hold back a laugh, “And yes, I was sore.”

“Oh God!”, Seungkwan let out the laugh he was holding back.

“I remember going home and crying in my bed, scared of what I was feeling”, Vernon said lower, closing his eyes, “I've never felt lust for any guy before, and that was freaking me out.”

“It's really scary”, Seungkwan said as he went back to massaging the American's earlobe, “When you run out of your comfort zone, and end up in an unfamiliar place it's terrifying.”

“Exactly”, Vernon opened his eyes again, but still didn't look at the older man, “I remember running to Joshua, since he was older and he was also American. He helped me a lot to calm down and understand what I was feeling, and it made me realize that it was okay for me to be attracted to other guys now.”

“Joshua hyung really is the best for this kind of thing”, Seungkwan smiled tenderly, “And did you see the guy again after that?”

“Yeah. I apologized for being gone for almost a week, and explained everything to him”, Vernon said rubbing his eyes, “We got back together and pretty much dated for a while. Until everything went wrong and I wanted him dead. “

“Okay, I wasn't expecting that!”, Seungkwan let out a surprised laugh, “Was it that bad?”

“Let's say that's why I'm having crises until today”, Vernon said seriously, staring at Seungkwan. The eldest understood right away that he didn't want to continue with the subject.

“Got it” Seungkwan nodded slowly, “It was a long story, and I see you're sleepy again. Shall we go back to sleep?”

Vernon nodded and turned over in bed, getting off the older man's lap and tucking himself under the blanket again. He was very grateful that Seungkwan understood that he didn't want to talk about it anymore and quickly changed the subject.

“Thank you for sharing these stories with me, Vernonie”, Seungkwan said in his usual soft tone. Turning off the light and settling down beside the American on the bed.

“You're welcome, weed smoker”, Vernon sneered getting kicked in the leg, “Outch! I'm kidding!”

“Idiot”, Seungkwan grumbled, covering himself up properly, “Let's go to sleep.”

“I promise not to have another nightmare.”

“It's okay if you have another one”, Seungkwan said already with his eyes closed, “I'll try to wake you up from a distance.”

Vernon smiled at that and watched Seungkwan's calm face, slightly messy hair and swollen lip from the cut. Thinking about what he had felt that night when he saw that guy for the first time, it didn't compare to what he felt when he was around Seungkwan. With the other it was always something related to desire and physical attraction. With Seungkwan it was something different... Something simple.

He liked to feel that way.

“Seungkwan-ah?”, Vernon called low, afraid the older one was already asleep.

“Yes?”

“Can I call you 'Boo'?”

Seungkwan opened his eyes confused. Vernon had a calm, gentle, almost innocent look.

“Do you want to call me by my last name?”, Seungkwan asked confused. Vernon smiled at that.

Please stop pouting, he thought.

“You told me you know English!”

“And I know!”, Seungkwan replied offended, “I know that song with my name. What's it like?”

“My Boo?”, Vernon asked, seeing Seungkwan nod sleepily, “And what does that mean?”

“Hm...”, Seungkwan pursed his lips and stared at the American with a guilty look, “I don't really know what it means, but it's cool.”

“So, can I call you that?”, Vernon asked, enjoying knowing that the older man didn't quite understand what that meant.

“Yes, it’s okay”, Seungkwan shrugged, finding Vernon's satisfied smile strange.

“Okay then”, Vernon said leaning closer to Seungkwan, which made the older one look surprised and carefully. Vernon placed a soft kiss on Seungkwan's cheek and closed his eyes again, “Good night, Boo.”

Seungkwan felt his cheeks burn with that simple kiss. He continued to stare into Vernon's serene face, wondering why the hell he was acting so different from usual.

“Good night… weirdo.”

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

7:50 AM.

 

The cafeteria that morning was emptier than usual, just a few agents drinking coffee and going about their own business.

Seungkwan was at one of the tables with Joshua and Wonwoo, using the phone's front camera to see the cut on his lip. It was still a little swollen, but at least it wasn't as ugly as the day before.

“Morning, guys!”, Mingyu said smiling as he reached the table. Seungkwan only muttered in response, as he was too intent on looking at his sore lip, “Kwan?”

“What?”

“What happened?”, Mingyu asked holding the younger boy's chin, turning him around to better see the bruised lip, “How did you do that?”

“It was an accident over the weekend, Mingyu”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, breaking free of the grip on his chin, “It's not a big deal.”

“What kind of accident?”, Mingyu asked, ignoring his friend's answer. When Seungkwan was about to respond he saw Mingyu shift his attention to someone behind him, his expression changing from worried to serious in a matter of seconds, “Did you do this to him?”

Seungkwan looked back confused and swallowed hard when he saw who was there, looking at him worriedly. Vernon had the same guilty expression he had the other night, staring intently at the cut in the corner of Seungkwan's lower lip as if it were something extremely serious.

Well, for him it was very serious.

Seungkwan didn't understand why all the fuss and worry about a simple cut. And that was starting to make him slightly annoyed.

“Yeah, it was me”, Vernon replied simply. Seungkwan internally swore at that answer, stretching his arm back to stop Mingyu from getting up, which was exactly what his friend was thinking of doing at the time.

“Gyu-”

“What the hell, Vernon?!”, Mingyu frowned angrily. If there was one thing that could drive him out of his mind in a matter of seconds, it was messing with Seungkwan.

“It was an accident, I-”

“You hurt him!”

“It was an accident!”, Seungkwan snapped firmly, looking at the two agents intermittently.

Wonwoo and Joshua just watched that discussion in silence. The older American didn't take his eyes off Vernon for a second, like he was trying to read him somehow.

“But he hurt you, Seungkwan!”

“It's not like I punched him on purpose, Mingyu”, Vernon said in a slightly indignant tone.

“Exactly. It was literally an accident”, Seungkwan snapped again, looking at Mingyu seriously. Mingyu hated getting that kind of look from the younger one, because it meant it wouldn't do any good for him to argue, “It's just a cut on the lip, for God's sake! Stop all this stress before 8 am.”

“Yep, let's stop stressing”, Wonwoo said getting up, squeezing Mingyu's shoulder, “Shall we get some coffee?”

“I do not-”

“Let's go now”, Wonwoo cut him off, pulling Mingyu up and dragging him across the cafeteria by the arm. Seungkwan thanked him for that.

Seungkwan looked at Vernon who was still standing and rolled his eyes, knocking the chair beside him for him to sit down. Vernon complied and rested his hands on the table, and with his lips pressed together he looked at the older man hesitantly, as if he feared he'd be scolded for that little argument in the morning.

“If you don't stop looking at me like that, I'm going to punch your lip for real”, Seungkwan threatened. Vernon ended up laughing at that.

“Okay, I'll stop”, Vernon said pulling a small tube of ointment out of his suit, “I brought this for you. It'll help heal the cut.”

“No need”, Seungkwan watched him open the tube and take some ointment with his fingertip, “I can- Oh, okay then.”

Vernon interrupted the older man's speech by holding his chin lightly, bringing him closer so he could apply the ointment to the cut. Seungkwan noticed that he took the same care as the day he took care of his injured hands at the gym, applying the ointment slowly and carefully so that he didn't feel pain.

Again Seungkwan felt his stomach quiver anxiously.

Joshua watched them both intently, even a little surprised. Containing the contented smile that threatened to form, he turned his attention to his cell phone and his coffee.

“There you go”, Vernon finished what he was doing and walked away, opening a small smile and putting away the ointment, “Keep using it and by the end of the week it'll be gone.”

“Did we switch roles here?”, Seungkwan asked amused, trying not to mind his stomach churning, “Thank you.”

“You're welcome”, Vernon left the ointment on the table and stood up, “I need to go. Hoshi wants to talk to me.”

“Already?”

“Yes, I should’ve been in his office by now, but I stopped by to see you first”, Vernon said like it was no big deal, but Seungkwan felt affected by that. Joshua held back a laugh, “See you later.”

Seungkwan nodded and stared at the tube of ointment on the table, swallowing hard before putting it in his pocket. He couldn't deny that he was happy to hear that, that at least Vernon was worried about him.

And having Vernon worried about him felt strangely good.

Thinking of the American, he remembered the night he had spent with him, and how he had insisted on calling him by his last name. That was still strange to him, especially since he had joked about knowing English. And it was thinking about that that he faced the other American who was sitting in front of him.

“Shua hyung?”

“Yes?”

“You know English, don't you?”, Seungkwan started hesitantly. Joshua eyed him amusedly with that question.

“I'm pretty sure I do”, Joshua chuckled leaving his cell phone on the table, “Why?”

“You know that song 'My Boo'?”

“A classic. Yes, I know it.”

“So”, Seungkwan cleared his throat, wondering how to ask that without sounding too obvious, “What does it mean to call someone 'boo'?”

“Hm... Basically you call someone you like a lot like that”, Joshua said simply, “It's used a lot between couples. It's a sweet way to talk to your loved one.”

“C-Couples?”, Seungkwan asked in surprise. That took him by surprise.

“Yeah”, Joshua nodded, leaning forward to nudge the younger boy's arm annoyingly, “Who's calling you 'boo', huh?”

“No one!”, Seungkwan snapped back quickly, “I was just curious, hyung.”

“Do you have a boyfriend, Seungkwanie?”, Joshua continued with the irritatingly teasing tone. Seungkwan felt his heart miss the beat at that.

“Shua hyung! Stop it!”, Seungkwan grumbled avoiding the nudges, “Enough! Let's change the topic!”

“I have my eye on you, Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua chuckled as he sat back down correctly.

“You don't need that”, Seungkwan said awkwardly and Joshua laughed, finding him cute with the pout he was doing, “Did you talk to Jeonghan?”

“Yeah, I spoke to him Friday”, Joshua sighed, “He thanked you for the ring.”

Awn he's nice”, Seungkwan smiled contentedly, “And how was he with you? Is he still mad?”

“He almost slammed the door in my face”, Joshua said and Seungkwan grimaced, “But at least he let me in and he's wearing the ring.”

“That's good”, Seungkwan smiled confidently at the eldest, “It means he doesn't hate you to the point where he doesn't care about you.”

“You think?”

“Oh sure!”, Seungkwan stated, seeing Mingyu and Wonwoo return to the table, “It'll be fine, hyung. You'll see.”

“Thanks for your support, Seungkwan-ah”, Joshua thanked with a smile. He really liked the younger one's positivity.

“Here. Drink it”, Mingyu said seriously placing the cup of iced Americano in front of his friend.

“Why are you like this?”, Seungkwan grumbled at the friend’s dry tone. Mingyu glared at him seriously and walked over to say something in his ear.

“We'll talk later.”

Seungkwan internally cursed at that. He knew very well what the conversation was about and he wasn't at all in the mood to have it with Mingyu right now, even more so with his feelings colliding.

Damn it!

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“Hao, did you call me?”, Jun asked as he entered the intelligence team's office.

The8 was looking at the two monitors in front of him with a frown and a hand on his chin, still intrigued by what he had just found. That was a subject he had even forgotten about, but he was happy to remember so that he could finish that story once and for all.

“Yes, sit here”, The8 showed the chair beside him which was soon occupied by the eldest, “I wanted to talk to you about the whole Yanan thing.”

“Again?”, Jun sighed, “Hao, we're fine and he's already gone.”

“I know, but there's one point I still need to clear up.”

“Why?”, Jun asked crossing his legs, “I don't want to fight again.”

“And let's not fight”, The8 pulled him closer, “Listen, Yanan told me you had called him to spend a few days at our apartment, and that you even paid for the tickets.”

Hm... Lie”, Jun replied firmly, “I would never do that without talking to you before.”

“Exactly”, The8 opened one of the browsers, “So, I went into his room and took the ticket receipt to see the payment information.”

“You're really naughty”, Jun chuckled, seeing his boyfriend agree with a smirk, “So? What did you find?”

“The card really wasn't yours, as I suspected, but I asked Wonwoo and Seungkwan for help in trying to find the card and where the tickets were purchased”, The8 explained pointing to the monitor, “The tickets were purchased here and with the department corporate card.”

“But how?”, Jun asked, leaning closer so he could read the information on the monitor, “You need to make a reservation on the card in order to use it, right?”

“Yeah, and this card was booked in your name.”

“What?!”, Jun asked widening his eyes, “Hao, I swear I didn't make any reservations!”

“I know you didn't, silly”, The8 slapped his boyfriend's arm to stop him from despairing, “And that's what I want to find out. Because there's something weird going on.”

“Oh, you got that feeling again?”, Jun asked curiously, “Your sixth sense almost never fails.”

“I know, but I'm going to need help figuring out what's going on”, The8 said thoughtfully, “Let's keep this between us for now, okay? I don't want to involve the whole team.”

“Okay, no problem”, Jun said stepping closer to lower his voice, “And who are you going to ask for help?”

At that moment they heard a whistle approaching until it was clear in the room. Seungkwan had his headphones on and whistled in time to the music he was listening to, looking at the papers in his hands distractedly.

As if they had thought the same thing, Jun and The8 faced each other with the same mischievous little smile. They returned to face the youngest who, with two pairs of eyes staring at him intensely, noticed something weird and took off one of the headphones, looking scared at the two Chinese who still had that strange smile on their lips.

Seungkwan gulped knowing that this was not good.

“What happened?”

“Seungkwan-ah, we need your help with something”, The8 said and Jun leaned back in his chair, smiling innocently at the youngest.

For the second time that day, he internally cursed.

 

Incheon, South Korea.

8:30 PM.

 

This was another ordinary Monday night. Seokmin stayed late at the restaurant while Seungkwan took Chan to the clinic. The younger brother had three appointments a week and daily exercises to stimulate his leg muscles and joints, and seeing him happy and excited about getting back to walking left him completely satisfied.

Also as usual, he smiled as he left the restaurant when he saw who was waiting for him in the same place across the street. Hoshi was leaning against the car, distracted with something on his cell phone, so he didn't notice Seokmin's approach, who poked him in the waist, making him jump startled.

“Yah!”, Hoshi yelled scared, sighing in relief when he saw Seokmin laughing beside him, “Don't do that!”

“You were so distracted that I thought it would be appropriate”, Seokmin chuckled as he shifted his backpack over his shoulder, “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I am”, Hoshi smiled taking the car keys, “And you? Are you tired today?”

“I'm always tired”, Seokmin said getting into the car and fastening his belt, “But today was a good day.”

“That's good”, Hoshi started the car and left his cell phone on the cradle, “Did you watch that movie I told you about?”

“Yes! I watched it last night.”

That simple moment when Hoshi took Seokmin home every day was one of the best parts of the agent's day. He could easily spend the day listening to Seokmin talk and smile like that. Maybe it was something silly or rash, but he was clearly taking a liking to his friend's brother, and that hadn't been something planned. Just happened.

And that was something that worried him a lot. Not because it was Seokmin, as it was very easy for him to fall for the youngest, but because Hoshi never knew how to deal with emotions and feelings. Being impulsive and wanting to dive headlong into something had marked him a lot in life, and he was trying very hard not to do the same with Seokmin.

And this was a private mission he knew would fail sooner or later.

“There's another movie in the theater that looks like it's pretty fun”, Seokmin said taking his glasses from his backpack, “We could go watch it over the weekend.”

“Oh”, Hoshi looked away, seeing Seokmin distracted by his glasses, “The two of us at the movies?”

“Yeah”, Seokmin looked at the eldest, “Do you already have plans?”

“No!”, Hoshi quickly denied. Not even if he had plans he would deny it, “We can go.”

“Great! It will be fun”, Seokmin smiled and Hoshi shifted his attention to the street again before he got distracted and caused an accident, “Hoshi, do you have a tissue? I wanted to clean my glasses.”

“I think I have some in the glove compartment”, Hoshi replied simply, walking down the street from Seokmin's house, “Did you find it?”

“Yeah... I found something”, Seokmin said looking at the silver handcuffs.

Hoshi stopped the car and looked to the side, his eyes widening when he saw what Seokmin was holding. He internally cursed for forgetting the handcuffs were in the glove compartment of the car, but at least the spare gun was under the seat. Seokmin stared at him with an arched eyebrow, and Hoshi opened his mouth to say something, but he still didn't know what to say so Seokmin was staring at Hoshi's pathetic scene with his mouth open, eyes wide and one finger raised.

Seokmin really wanted to record that moment so he could laugh later.

“They're really pretty”, Seokmin said, looking at the handcuffs once more.

“Yeah... That's...”, Hoshi started, seeing a small smile appear on Seokmin's lips, “What? Why are you smiling?”

“I didn't know you had that kind of fetish, Hoshi”, Seokmin chuckled. Hoshi almost laughed along, until he realized what the younger one had said.

“Yeah... Wait, what?!”, Hoshi frowned, making Seokmin laugh harder, “Oh no! It's definitely not that!”

“I don't care, you know? I think it's interesting”, Seokmin said swinging the handcuffs.

Hoshi was still for a second with that, wondering what to do with that information.

“Seokie, it's not for that”, Hoshi shook his head to concentrate, “Give it back to me.”

“Uh... No.”

“Seok, give me back the handcuffs”, Hoshi asked with his hand outstretched and Seokmin shook his head again, still with a little smile on his lips.

“Come get it”, Seokmin sneered, chuckling when Hoshi tried to get the handcuffs and he pulled back, “Come on, Hoshi.”

Hoshi narrowed his eyes and seriously considered whether he should do what he wanted at that moment but, as usual, he couldn't contain his impulsive instinct.

Seokmin saw Hoshi looking him seriously in the eyes, and when he thought he had pissed off the older man, his eyes dropped to his lips. He broke his smile and was ready to ask what Hoshi was doing, but he was quicker to step closer, leaving him cornered against the car door. Hoshi ignored any other possibility existing at that moment other than touching his lips to Seokmin's, the same one who still had his eyes wide open from the sudden movement.

Hoshi has soft lips, was what Seokmin thought as he closed his eyes. Warm and soft, he added.

It was a very quick contact, faster than Hoshi wanted, so quickly Hoshi returned to his place with the handcuffs he took from Seokmin's hand in the middle of the kiss.

Seokmin opened his eyes and stayed where he was, against the car door and hands up. Both continued to stare at each other for a few more seconds, thinking about what they should say and who should say it first.

Taking advantage of the silence, Hoshi put the handcuffs back and took one tissue from the glove compartment, closing it to avoid further problems.

“Uh... Your tissue”, Hoshi held out the tissue and just then Seokmin moved.

“Thank you”, Seokmin said quietly, still shaken by what had just happened. He straightened up on the bench and looked out the window, seeing his house with the lights on, “Uh... I think I'll go in now.”

“Okay”, Hoshi nodded hesitantly, “Talk to you later?”

“Yes, of course”, Seokmin grabbed his backpack and opened the car door, “See you later, Hoshi.”

“See you”, Hoshi waved and waited for Seokmin to enter the house to close his eyes and bang his head on the steering wheel, “You fucking idiot!”

Seokmin walked into his house and leaned his forehead against the door as he closed it. He felt his cheeks burn and his lips tingle, and it had been a long time since he'd felt this way.

“Oh, hyung is here!”

Seokmin heard Chan's voice and it made him turn, finding his younger brother lying on the living room floor with Seungkwan and Mingyu stretching his legs in some kind of exercise.

“Great, now he can help”, Mingyu grumbled, dropping Chan's leg to the floor and throwing himself on the sofa.

“You're too weak”, Seungkwan sneered, slapping his friend's leg. He looked at Seokmin who was still silent and found his expression strange, “What is hyung?”

“What?”, Seokmin asked uncomprehendingly, shaking his head.

“Your cheeks are red”, Chan said, looking away from his cell phone.

“It's cold outside.”

“Then go take a hot shower”, Seungkwan said helping Chan to sit on the couch, “For God's sake, Chan! You've gained weight.”

“I'm collecting all your offenses, so I can kick you when I can move my legs”, Chan said turning his attention to his cell phone.

“Are you texting Dahyun?”, Seungkwan asked trying to see his younger brother's cell phone screen, ignoring the threat he had just received, “Huh Channie? Let hyung see.”

“Get out of here!”, Chan tried to push Seungkwan back.

“Are you going to ask her out on a date?”, Mingyu asked poking the younger boy's stomach, “Do you have a girlfriend, Channie?”

Yah! Leave me alone!”, Chan laughed but mumbled angrily, “Hyung! Get them out of here!”

“Boys, leave him alone”, Seokmin said as he walked past them to his room. The three looked at the older one confused by that attitude.

“That was weird”, Chan said, arching an eyebrow.

“Very weird”, Seungkwan agreed, “I'll talk to him.”

“Okay”, Mingyu saw his friend disappear down the hall from the bedrooms, “What about you, Chan? Were you really talking to your new friend?”

“You're not going to give me a break from this, are you?”, Chan asked tiredly and Mingyu laughed.

“We're just happy you have a friend at school”, Mingyu said settling down on the couch, “But do you like her?”

“She's very nice”, Chan said with an embarrassed shrug. Mingyu laughed at the younger one and squeezed his cheek.

“Okay, I get it.”

Mingyu nodded feeling Seungkwan's cell phone vibrate twice on the couch. He took it and quickly his expression turned serious as he saw two new messages from Vernon flashing on the screen. It reminded him of why he was there that night, and it was something that worried him more than it pissed him off.

Mingyu saw Seungkwan appear again in the living room and soon his friend's carefree eyes met his, and with just one look Seungkwan knew he was in trouble.

“Have you talked to him?”, Chan asked not noticing the exchange of looks between the two.

“Yeah. He said he's just tired.”

“Well then, it's our turn to talk”, Mingyu said getting up and holding out the cell phone to his friend. Seungkwan saw Vernon's two messages and grimaced, “Let's go.”

“Gyu, can we save this for later?”

“Now, Seungkwan”, Mingyu said pulling his friend by the arm to his room. Chan laughed at Seungkwan's face.

As soon as he closed the door, Mingyu crossed his arms and Seungkwan completely ignored him and went to sit on his bed. He wanted to read the messages Vernon had sent, but he knew if he did that now Mingyu would be very annoyed, so he just put his cell phone aside and rested his hands on the bed.

“What do you want to talk to me about?” Seungkwan asked using his best soft tone.

“First, I want to know how this cut on the lip happened.”

“I already told you it was an accident, Mingyu.”

“That I already know. I want to know how this accident happened.”

“Why?”, Seungkwan asked and saw Mingyu snort. He rolled his eyes at that, knowing it wouldn't do good to hide it, “He called me Saturday night asking if I could go to his apartment. I did, he apologized for being rude the other day, we ate and went to sleep.”

“Just sleep?”, Mingyu asked quickly and Seungkwan grunted.

“Yeah, just sleep. He had a nightmare during the night, and when I went to try to wake him up, he got up and I was too close”, Seungkwan shook his shoulders, “His shoulder hit my mouth and made this cut. That was it.”

“Right”, Mingyu slowly shook his head.

“And he apologized several times for that too”, Seungkwan added, “He even brought me some ointment for the cut this morning.”

Mingyu arched an eyebrow at that information and closed his eyes, throwing his head back and grumbling annoyed before going to sit beside Seungkwan.

“Kwan, didn't I tell you to be careful?”

“But Gyu, I-”

“Don't try to lie to me, Seungkwan”, Mingyu was saying seriously, but keeping his usual soft tone, “I know you better than you think. And I spend my whole day with Vernon, so I know damn well what's going on between you two .”

Seungkwan averted his eyes from his friend, looking anywhere but Mingyu and his overprotection. He knew it was pointless to lie, but he also didn't want to admit out loud that he was developing feelings for Vernon.

Not yet.

“Why do I get the impression that you're hiding something from me?”, Mingyu asked narrowing his eyes and Seungkwan bit his lower lip, feeling terrible for not having talked about his moments with Vernon to his friend yet, “Uh? Are you?”

“Maybe I am”, Seungkwan said quietly, staring at his fingers.

“And what it is?”

“It's just… Maybe, but just maybe, Vernon and I slept together twice”, Seungkwan said in a guilty tone, biting his lip waiting for the explosion that came seconds later.

“You two what?!”, Mingyu yelled standing up with wide eyes, “Boo Seungkwan!”

“Yes?”, Seungkwan asked innocently.

“How did this happen?!”

“It was when we were in Thailand.”

“Right under my nose!”, Mingyu said indignantly and Seungkwan ended up laughing, “I don't see the fun here!”, He ran a hand through his hair, “I really thought there was something weird going on when we were in Thailand, but I had no clue that was this!”

“And there was something weird, because that night you walked into the kitchen at dawn and found us... Well...”, Seungkwan shook his head embarrassed, “You kind of interrupted us up there.”

“Oh for God's sake! I ate at that counter, Seungkwan-ah!”, Mingyu whined and Seungkwan laughed again, “God, that's why he always finds a way to comment something about you at work.”

“Really?”, Seungkwan asked in surprise, feeling his heart skip a beat at that information, “I didn't know he was talking about me.”

“Jesus Christ, your eyes are shining”, Mingyu grimaced, “Take it easy or you'll blind me here.”

“Stop being exaggerated”, Seungkwan tried to kick his friend's leg, feeling his face burn, “I'm just surprised.”

“I'm not”, Mingyu sighed and flopped down on the bed again, looking up at the ceiling, “Damn it, Kwan. Why can't you obey me for once?”

“What's your problem with Vernon anyway?”, Seungkwan asked lying down beside his friend, “Because until the other day you said you trusted him.”

“Well, I take it back!”, Mingyu grumbled sulkily and Seungkwan rolled his eyes, “I don't want you having something with him, Kwan. Simple.”

“First, it's not up to you”, Seungkwan pointed out, “And second, what's the problem if I want to have something with him?”

“He will hurt you”, Mingyu replied simply, “You are very intense and sensitive. And I don't want you to end up crying for someone who doesn't value you.”

Seungkwan continued to stare at his friend for a while, absorbing those words. Mingyu wasn't wrong in saying that he was very intense and sensitive, and the proof of that was how he had been stirred by the rude way Vernon had spoken to him the other day. But then he thought of all the time they spent together in Thailand and then in Seoul, and it was that Vernon he liked. The simple Vernon, who smiled easily at him and even acted cute at times.

God, Seungkwan. Stop it now, Seungkwan thought.

“He's been quite different with me”, Seungkwan said quietly, “Especially on the weekend. He hasn't had any good days, so I thought I'd help him with that by trying to distract him somehow.”

“Of course you thought”, Mingyu chuckled, “I know I can't decide anything for you, but I just wanted you to be a little more rational.”

“I am rational, Mingyu!”

“When? When you’re in your room crying in the dark?”, Mingyu asked seriously, “I really hope he doesn't treat you like he's been treating some people for the past few years. Because if he does, you know I won't think twice before punching him in the face.”

“I know that, and I ask you not to do any of this. Don't forget we work together and he's part of your team”, Seungkwan said seriously, “We don't have anything serious, and I don't even know if we will. So please, just let me make my own decisions and figure out my feelings by myself.”

“I know I overreact over you, and I'm sorry about that”, Mingyu said sincerely taking one of his friend's hands in his own, “I only care about you because I know you so well, and I also know how jerk Vernon can be when he wants. Just... Please be careful, Kwan.”

“Hey, trust me a little bit”, Seungkwan joked and Mingyu smiled at him.

“You know I trust you”, Mingyu said touching the left side of Seungkwan's chest, “It's this little guy I'm afraid of.”

“Give him a break, Gyu”, Seungkwan chuckled and Mingyu nodded.

“Okay, I think we've talked a lot already”, Mingyu said sitting up correctly on the bed and looking at the clock, “I'm going home. See you tomorrow at work.”

“Yes sir”, Seungkwan accompanied Mingyu to the front door and waited for him to take his coat and says goodbye to Chan to give him a hug, “Drive carefully.”

“Leave it to me”, Mingyu winked and dropped a kiss on Seungkwan's forehead before leaving.

Seungkwan sighed tiredly and closed the door, returning to his room and throwing himself on the bed with his face buried in the pillow. That conversation with Mingyu made him thoughtful, because it was so obvious that his friend didn't even want to think about the idea of him and Vernon having anything. It was obvious that Mingyu respected him and would support him regardless of his decisions, but this seemed to be something far more serious than he thought it would be.

Seungkwan looked up when he felt his cell phone vibrate on the bed, reminding him of the messages Vernon had sent a little earlier. He reached for his cell phone and saw that it was another message from the American, which made him unlock the cell phone and open the messaging app quickly to read it.

“That's right you idiot, can't you seem more desperate?”, Seungkwan mumbled to himself when he realized what he was doing.

Vernonie [8:57 PM]: hey boo

Vernonie [8:57 PM]: did you remember using the ointment again?

Vernonie [9:32 PM]: boo!!! answer me :(

Seungkwan laughed at the last message. Having Vernon worried about him and asking him to respond soon didn't help him much in trying to control his feelings.

Seungkwan: hey vernonie

Seungkwan: sorry I was with mingyu

Seungkwan: and yes, I used the ointment again

Vernon was online, so he quickly started typing an answer.

Vernonie: oh I didn't know

Vernonie: he scolded you?

Seungkwan: no. we talk a lot actually

Vernonie: he looked pretty pissed off in the morning...

Seungkwan: yes, but only because he is too protective hehe

Seungkwan: don't worry, he's not mad at you

Vernonie: I don't care if he gets mad at me

Vernonie: even because I really hurt you

Vernonie: I was worried if he would be mad at you…

Seungkwan took one of the pillows and put it over his face so he could grunt. He was about to tell Vernon to stop talking like that, because it was such a huge trigger for his stupid heart to miss the beat all the time.

Seungkwan: yah vernonie

Seungkwan: I thought we had already resolved this issue

Vernonie: I know... sorry :D

Vernonie: I was just thinking too much again

Seungkwan: so don't think

Vernonie: I’ll do this

Vernonie: I'll let you rest too

Vernonie: good night, boo ;)

Seungkwan: okay you boring -.-

Seungkwan: good night, vernonie <3

Seungkwan locked his cell phone and didn't even notice the moment he started to smile with that conversation. Thinking about Vernon sometimes made his head hurt because he felt confused and often walking in the dark, as if he couldn't predict what would happen after this conversation for example.

He will hurt you.

Mingyu's words echoed in his head, only to make him more confused.

But he had already decided to help Vernon feel better, and that was what he was going to do.

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

8:00 PM.

 

Seungkwan felt nervous, looking at his watch every two minutes as if time would go faster just because of that.

Stupid.

Taking a deep breath he closed his eyes, trying to practice one of the breathing exercises The8 had taught him in training. Trying to get it through his head that he had no reason to be so nervous.

“It's just Vernon”, Seungkwan said to himself still with his eyes closed in the car, “Stop acting like a teenager.”

Still looking to try to relax he rested his head on the car seat, thinking about the previous days and how Vernon has acted around him, especially over the weekend.

The change in the American's behavior was obvious, especially in the way he spoke and acted when he was around him. And by behavior change did Seungkwan even refer to looking at times worried and at other times hesitant? Yes, Seungkwan could put it that way.

He didn't understand the reason for it, but he knew it had started after the crisis Vernon had last week. That had been the starting point for all that change, and so far Seungkwan didn't know if it was a good thing or not.

Well, he liked getting attention especially when Vernon called him by his new “nickname” during the day or even by text.

Boo... Oh! Damn it!

Why did he ask Joshua what that meant? Why did he have to keep that silly explanation in his head? Why did he have to think about it so much?

Thinking about Vernon and all the things surrounding him left him tired and confused.

Seungkwan looked at his watch once more, seeing that it was getting closer and closer to the appointed time.

During the day he worked up all the courage to be able to do what was already an old idea. He chuckled to himself as he remembered his conversation with Vernon in the locker room. Fast, direct and shameful.

 

“Vernon?”

Seungkwan called when the two were alone in the locker room after training. Vernon was getting his things to take a shower and turned his attention to the older one beside him, leaving Seungkwan slightly embarrassed at how attractive he was at that moment.

Vernon had messy, sweaty hair, as well as his face and arms. The tank top he wore showed off his strong arms which, because of the training, had obvious muscles and veins.

Seungkwan felt a shiver down his spine at that sight.

God... This has got to be some joke with me.

“Yeah?”, Vernon asked when Seungkwan said nothing.

“Uh... I was thinking”, Seungkwan started, looking away to the brown eyes that, intriguingly, were very calm that day, “Are you going to do something tonight?”

“Not that I know of”, Vernon flashed an amused smile, “Why?”

“Can you meet me in Hongdae? I wanted to show you a place”, Seungkwan tried to sound as casual as possible, and mentally cursed himself for how pathetic he looked.

“Hongdae? Oh, okay”, Vernon agreed, throwing the towel over his shoulders, “Send me the address and time.”

“Okay!”, Seungkwan cleared his throat to hide when he realized how excited that sounded. Vernon smiled at him, “I will send you.”

“Alright then”, Vernon approached, still smiling amused, “See you later, Boo.”

Seungkwan was startled when he felt a squeeze on his ass and a smacked kiss on his cheek. He looked back as Vernon passed, heading straight for the showers as if nothing had happened, not even aware that he had left a mess named Seungkwan behind.

Seungkwan touched his cheek, still feeling the place tingle from the American's soft, slightly sweaty lips. But it was not just that.

“Vernonie certainly hasn't shaved today.”

 

Thinking about it Seungkwan got out of the car, walking calmly to the next corner and crossing the street with his hands in the pockets of the jacket he was wearing. The street was busy when he arrived, so he had to stop at the next block, but that wasn't a problem.

His cell phone vibrated and he quickly picked it up, seeing a message from Vernon that he had arrived. He lifted his head and looked around, not long to see Vernon's handsome figure crossing the street to him casually.

Control your hormones, you idiot!, Seungkwan thought, opening a smile and putting away his cell phone.

Vernon looked the older one up and down, noticing how attractive he looked that night. But when looking at what was behind Seungkwan he felt all his calm go away and once again that feeling of worry take him. That was an expensive and romantic restaurant, well-known for being one of the biggest meeting places for couples in the Seoul region.

And judging by Seungkwan's beautiful, happy and excited smile, that was definitely not a good thing.

Oh shit!, Vernon thought just before he stopped in front of the older man.

“Hey! You really came”, Seungkwan said happily.

“Yeah”, Vernon shook his head, feeling hesitant, “Have you been waiting for me too long?”

“No, I arrived ten minutes ago”, Seungkwan lied so well he was surprised, “Are you hungry?”

“Not really”, Vernon scratched the back of his neck uneasily. Seungkwan noticed that and found it weird.

“It's everything alright?”

“Yeah, it's just”, Vernon sighed and thought about the best way to say what he wanted, “It's just that I think you've mixed things up.”

Seungkwan broke his smile and frowned in confusion. That took him by surprise.

“What do you mean?”, Seungkwan asked and Vernon pointed to the restaurant. He raised his eyebrows in surprise at the confusion and tried to explain, “Oh! No, I-”

“It’s alright, I understand you got mixed up”, Vernon cut him off and Seungkwan blinked in confusion once more, “But we're not a couple, Seungkwan-ah.”

Outch!, Seungkwan thought.

“I know that”, Seungkwan said quietly, trying not to be shaken by that answer.

“Then there's no reason to have a date.”

“And what would be the problem?”, Seungkwan asked before he could hold his tongue. That mess was going too far but he didn't care, “Would it be that bad to have a date with me?”

“I didn't say that”, Vernon said quickly, “You're getting it wrong.”

“No, you're the one who got it all wrong here!”, Seungkwan said seriously. Vernon could notice the annoyed tone, “I didn't invite you to eat at this restaurant. I'm just standing in front of it! I invited you to eat a burger with milkshake and play arcade, Vernon. That's all.”

Seungkwan pointed across the street and Vernon could see the beautiful, bright corner diner. He internally cursed himself for acting on impulse without even knowing what the meeting was about.

When he turned to Seungkwan again he felt even worse. Seungkwan had a serious expression, but Vernon could see the eyes that had previously been animated, completely lackluster and drooping, completely disappointed in him.

“Uh... Seungkwan-ah, I-”

“You didn't have to be so stupid, you know?”, Seungkwan cut him off without changing his expression. It was the first time Vernon had heard that disappointed tone of voice and he was hating, “You had rough days, so I thought that this maybe would distract you a little. But I was wrong, wasn't I?”

“No! I… damn it!”, Vernon grumbled, running his hand through his hair nervously, “I'm sorry, Seungkwan-ah. It's just that I saw this restaurant and thought it was something else, and-”

“I get it, Vernon”, Seungkwan interrupted him again, not wanting to be standing there on that street having that kind of conversation with a lot of people passing by, “If I had asked you out on a date, I would have specified this before. But don’t worry because it won't happen again.”

“Seungkwan, no”, Vernon grabbed the older man's arm so he wouldn't pull away, “Sorry, okay? We can forget about it and go eat and play arcade.”

“No thanks”, Seungkwan denied, “I lost my appetite, and you clearly don’t want to be here.”

“Come on, Seungkwan.”

“Let's just forget this happened and go home, okay?”, Seungkwan asked, freeing his arm from the American's hand, “I'm sorry to make you come here.”

“Seungkwan, please-”

“See you at work, Vernon.”

And with that, Seungkwan stuck his hands in his jacket pockets and walked down the street, completely ignoring the American who was still staring at his steps.

Vernon waited until Seungkwan crossed the street and disappeared among the people. He looked around and sighed annoyed, getting back into his car and slamming the door. Why had he acted that way? Even he didn't know how to answer that, but apparently the thought of going out on a date with Seungkwan scared him.

“You’re a big idiot!”, Vernon punched the steering wheel angrily. Thinking of Seungkwan's sad look and disappointed tone of voice was making his chest ache, “A fucking idiot!”

On the other block, Seungkwan got into his car and rested his head on the seat, thinking about how everything could be destroyed in a matter of minutes. He didn't know why Vernon had acted that way, as if the simple idea of having a date with him was completely absurd.

That hurt him more than he thought it would.

“Fucking idiot”, Seungkwan mumbled, startling when his cell phone vibrated in his pocket, “Don't be him, please.”

Seungkwan looked at the lit screen and arched an eyebrow when he saw Baekho's name. He thought about refusing and just going home, but it wasn't his friend's fault that his night was being shit.

“Hello?”

“Hey Seungkwanie!”, Baekho said excitedly.

“Hi Baek.”

“Sorry to call you at this hour.”

“It’s okay”, Seungkwan said lamely, “What happened?”

“I wanted to ask you a question about the ring”, Baekho said noticing the younger boy's dejected tone of voice, which was totally different from what he was used to, “Are you okay?”

“Yes, I-”, Seungkwan sighed tiredly, not having the strength to lie and make up some excuse, “Fine, I'm not really okay.”

“What happened?”, Baekho asked worriedly, “Where are you?”

“I'm in Hongdae”, Seungkwan replied simply, “But that's okay, it was just a silly thing. No need to worry.”

“Hongdae? It's right next to my apartment”, Baekho said, “What were you doing there?”

“I came to distract myself and eat”, Seungkwan responded with a humorless laugh, thinking about what he might be eating right now if Vernon wasn't an idiot.

“Hm... Got it. Do you still want to eat? I can meet you there.”

“Baekho, you really don't need to leave the house because of me.”

“Don't think about it. I was going to order food anyway”, Baekho had such a nice, calm tone of voice that Seungkwan thought it wouldn't be a bad idea to meet his friend, “Where would you eat?”

“At Seventeen Point.”

“Ah! I love this place!”, Baekho said excitedly. Seungkwan smiled at that, “Okay, in fifteen minutes I'll be there. You can get us a table if you want.”

“Alright then”, Seungkwan picked up his wallet again, “Text me what you like to eat and I'll order.”

“Perfect! See you in a little while, Seungkwanie!”

“See you”, Seungkwan hung up.

Seungkwan walked all the way back to the lighted cafeteria. He liked that environment a lot, from the colors to the delicious smell of milkshake and fries that emanated all over the place.

Choosing one of the tables near the window, Seungkwan sat down and took the menu while Baekho didn't arrive. When one of the waitresses came to take his order he took the opportunity and read what Baekho had sent him in the messaging app, thanking her with a small smile and waiting for his friend to arrive.

It was impossible to sit at that table alone and don’t think about the argument he'd had with Vernon just across the street a few minutes ago, and how it had left him mad and even disappointed. Seungkwan knew that this really wasn't a date, but the way Vernon referred to it made him feel bad because he wouldn't mind having a date with the American, but apparently Vernon would. A lot.

“Earth calling Seungkwan.”

Seungkwan turned his attention away from the window, blinking in surprise when he saw a smiling Baekho in front of him. Strangely, Seungkwan felt a little better with his presence.

“Sorry, I was thinking about other things”, Seungkwan straightened in his chair, seeing Baekho doing the same in front of him, “You came fast.”

“Fifteen minutes. I told you it was close”, Baekho took off his cap and ran his hand through his hair. That movement caused the older man's scent to spread across the table, which made Seungkwan shiver, “So? Do you want to talk about what happened or do you want to eat first?”

“I really don't want to bother you with my problems, Baek.”

“Stop thinking that you’re always bothering me”, Baekho rolled his eyes playfully, leaning his arms on the table, “If it's something that's bothering you, and you want to talk about it, you can talk to me without a problem.”

“It's just… It might be a little tricky to understand”, Seungkwan said looking at his fingers, “Even I'm confused right now.”

“Okay, maybe I can help you understand”, Baekho said in his calm, understanding tone. Seungkwan really liked that tone of voice.

“Okay... Fine! I'll try to explain without seeming too confused”, Seungkwan sighed feeling comfortable to talk about that with the older one. He looked to the side and saw the same waitress who had served him a few minutes ago arriving with a tray full of orders, “Oh, our food has arrived.”

“Oh good. I'm hungry!”, Baekho chuckled in amusement and Seungkwan ended up smiling at him. His appetite had also returned.

“Thank you”, They thanked the waitress and Baekho didn't take long to start eating his fries.

“Whenever you want, Seungkwanie”, Baekho said giving the youngest his full attention.

“I'm trying to find a way to start.”

“Okay”, Baekho chuckled, taking his milkshake, “Just to put it in context. Is it about something or someone?”

“It's about someone”, Seungkwan replied quietly, and didn't notice the forced way Baekho downed the milkshake.

Baekho really hoped it wasn't about anyone in particular, especially with him finally getting the opportunity to be alone with Seungkwan for the first time.

“Hm... Okay”, Baekho nodded, going back to his fries, “What did this someone do?”

“It all started a few weeks ago”, Seungkwan started eating his fries, “We slept together two and a half times.”

“Wait”, Baekho asked chuckling, “Two and a half times? How is that possible?”

“Well, twice complete and then it was... you know?”, Seungkwan made an embarrassed hand gesture, making the older one laugh more. Remembering the moment that he and Vernon had had in the disguise room still made him red.

“Alright, I think I get it”, Baekho nodded taking his burger, “Go ahead.”

“Right, uh... we had these moments, but we never quite talked about what was going on. We were just enjoying the moment and letting it go, you know?”, Seungkwan asked and the older one nodded, “Well then, he had some problems the last few days and I stayed away because I thought he needed this time alone. That's when on Saturday he called me and asked me to go to his apartment, and I did.”

“Did you guys do anything else?”

“No. We just ate and told some stories from school days”, Seungkwan decided to hide the nightmare part because that was something needless to say, “But he was… different.”

“How different?”

“He was... clingy?”, Seungkwan frowned, “Yeah, he was acting different than usual. Hugging me and wanting to be close all the time.”

“And you didn't like it?”

“I really enjoyed it”, Seungkwan confessed sipping his milkshake, “We get along really well, and with everything that was going on and the way he was acting on Saturday I felt...”

Seungkwan didn't finish the sentence. He didn't want to say he was actually liking Vernon out loud. Not yet.

“I get it”, Baekho said simply, even though he felt awkward knowing all that, “And what happened next?”

“He asked me if he could call me 'Boo', just like my last name”, Seungkwan continued, “And I was confused because I didn't understand why he asked for it. So I asked what it meant to Joshua hyung, because he knows English.”

“Yeah, I'm pretty sure he knows”, Baekho chuckled, taking another bite of his burger.

“And he told me that this is a sweet way to call someone you like a lot and who is used a lot between couples”, Seungkwan arched his eyebrows, “Couples, Baek! I was shocked by that.”

“And he's calling you that even though you guys haven't talked about it?”

“Yeah! So I thought, he's acting different, he's worried about me because of my cut lip, and he wants to call me by a cute nickname that couples use”, Seungkwan listed everything on his fingers. Baekho found him extremely cute at the time, even though he didn't really like the topic of conversation, “And I started connecting the dots.”

“And where did you get to?”

“Well, I'm here with you now”, Seungkwan finished sulking. Baekho chuckled, “I asked him to come here today, but he was a complete idiot.”

“What kind of idiot?”

“He thought I was asking him on a date”, Seungkwan didn't face the older man now, “He said that we're not a couple and he has no reason to date. As if having a date with me is such a terrible thing.”

I would like to have a date with you, Baekho thought, but held his tongue to keep from letting it go.

“What a jerk”, Baekho mumbled, not liking it.

“I was just upset because he decided to act like an asshole right after being cute and treating me well”, Seungkwan grumbled, “It makes me confused and... frustrated.”

“I can understand”, Baekho nodded, “I think maybe you guys should talk about all this and clarify what it really is the thing you're having. Just so you don't create false expectations.”

“I know that, but while I want to clear it up once and for all, I don't want to be disappointed”, Seungkwan said quietly. Baekho closed his hand on the table to refrain from reaching out and holding Seungkwan’s.

“But it's something necessary, Seungkwanie.”

“I'll sort this out, don’t worry”, Seungkwan smiled confidently, “Yah! Now let's change the topic please.”

“Yes, we will, but can I ask one last question first?”, Baekho asked and Seungkwan nodded, biting into his burger, “This was all about Vernon? Just so I don't get confused.”

“What?!”, Seungkwan asked with his mouth full. He widened his eyes surprised by that question, “You- How?!”

“I already suspected, but when you mentioned the cut on the lip, I connected the dots”, Baekho chuckled at the younger boy's shocked expression, “But you did well not to mention his name. I'm impressed.”

Seungkwan continued to stare at Baekho in surprise, which made the older one laugh at the image of a Seungkwan with arched eyebrows and round cheeks from the burger he was chewing.

God, please stop being so cute, Baekho thought.

“You really are very smart”, Seungkwan mumbled going back to chewing his burger. Baekho smiled at him.

“That's okay, isn't it?”

“Yeah”, Seungkwan drank some more of the milkshake and widened his eyes as he remembered how they had stopped there, “Hey, what did you want to talk to me about the ring?”

“Oh yeah”, Baekho wiped his hands to pick up his cell phone, “I was running some tests and there's something wrong with my ring. Try to find me in your app.”

“Let's see”, Seungkwan took out his cell phone and opened the app, seeing Baekho's name appear and disappear seconds later, “Hm... That's weird.”

“I thought so too”, Baekho took off the ring and put it on another finger, seeing the app's name disappear again, “It's like there's something wrong with the chip inside it.”

“Oh I know what it is!”, Seungkwan snapped his fingers, “It's easy to fix, but I'll need the ring.”

“Alright, you can have it”, Baekho handed the ring to the youngest, seeing it tucked away in his jacket pocket, “You can show me how to fix this, what do you think?”

“Want to learn how it's done?”, Seungkwan asked amused, drinking more of his milkshake.

“If you want to teach me, then yes.”

Seungkwan saw Baekho's smile and felt a flutter in his stomach, feeling shy at the glow his eyes gave off.

What the hell is this?

“Aish!”, Seungkwan jumped startled when his cell phone started ringing in his hand, making Baekho laugh at the shock he got, “Oh seriously...”

“You can get it without a problem”, Baekho said, stopping laughing, putting what was left of his fries in his mouth.

“It's Mingyu”, Seungkwan read his friend's name and then answered, “Hey Gyu.”

“Kwan-ah!”, Mingyu said excitedly, “Are you at home?”

“No, I'm in Hongdae”, Seungkwan said looking at Baekho, finding him cute as he stirred the straw of the milkshake, “Why?”

“I was going to drop by to give you something.”

“Which is?”

“Wonwoo and I got tickets to the musical at the theater in Seoul”, Mingyu said excitedly, “He asked to invite you and also your brothers because they like musicals too, and Wonwoo wants to meet them.”

“Oh that's pretty cool”, Seungkwan smiled excitedly, “Okay, tomorrow you hand it to me and let's go together.”

“Perfect!”, Mingyu said happily, “There's still a ticket left, so you can call Vernon if you want.”

Seungkwan stopped smiling at once, wondering whether or not to invite Vernon to another program. He really wanted it, but thinking about it he remembered the American's reaction today and gave up on the idea. Seungkwan didn't want to take another one out like today.

“No, it's better not”, Seungkwan said tapping his fingers on the table.

“This is new”, Mingyu said amused, “I thought you were going to agree right away.”

“Yeah... Maybe he doesn't want to.”

“Okay…”, Mingyu said suspiciously, but didn't comment on, “Is there anyone else you want to invite?”

Seungkwan looked straight ahead and quickly smiled, even though Baekho couldn't see him as he was busier with his milkshake.

“Baekho is going with us”, Seungkwan said simply, seeing the older man lift his head and stare at him in surprise. Seungkwan smiled at him.

“Baekho? Oh he's a musical fan too!”, Mingyu said remembering when his friend was talking to Wonwoo about some shows, “Okay! So tomorrow night we're going to eat and watch a musical. Be ready.”

“I always am”, Seungkwan chuckled, “Talk to you later, Gyu.”

“See you later, Kwan!”

“Uh... May I know where I'm going tomorrow?”, Baekho asked confused.

“Wonwoo and Mingyu got tickets to a musical in Seoul tomorrow night”, Seungkwan said putting away his cell phone, “He called my brothers and me and there's still a ticket left, so I'll take you with us.”

“Oh! I read about this musical”, Baekho said excitedly, “Okay! It's going to be fun.”

“Of course you will, I'll be there”, Seungkwan said smugly, making Baekho laugh, “And you'll like my brothers. They're fun too.”

“I bet they are”, Baekho shook his head still smiling, “Do you want to play arcade a little?”

“Yes, let's go.”

The two of them spent the next two hours upstairs in the cafeteria, playing all kinds of games there and laughing like this wasn't an ordinary Wednesday night. Seungkwan enjoyed Baekho's company, but this was their first time alone outside the department and it was being better than he thought he could be.

Seungkwan liked the way Baekho looked at him and how he talked to him, giving his full attention when he spoke. That wasn't something forced or fake, Seungkwan could see the sincerity in his eyes and the beautiful smile he had.

It made him feel good and forget about what had happened to Vernon earlier in the evening, and when he was driving back home his chest felt a lot lighter. Had he been upset? Yes. Was it still? A little, but it wasn't something that would keep him from sleeping.

Seungkwan arrived home around eleven at night, still catching his brothers awake and breaking the news about the next day's musical. Chan was excited to be able to get out and meet Wonwoo and Baekho, as well as Seokmin was very interested. The eldest still had a thoughtful expression, but Seungkwan thought it best to let him rest rather than fill him with questions.

After a quick shower, Seungkwan threw himself on his bed to sleep, seeing that there were some unread messages in the app. He opened Mingyu's first, smiling with his friend's excitement.

Gyu: kwan-ah!!!

Gyu: tomorrow I will pick you up at 7pm

Gyu: let's eat and watch the musical at 8:30pm, okay?

Seungkwan: okay gyu, you're the boss

The next message he opened was from Baekho, which made him keep the smile on his face without even realizing it.

Baekho: hey seungkwannie, thanks for the night

Baekho: I had a lot of fun :D

Seungkwan: I had a lot of fun too

Seungkwan: we need to do this again someday

Baekho: yes let's do it!

Baekho: see you tomorrow. good night :D

Seungkwan: good night baek :D

Seungkwan went back to the messaging app and felt his smile disappear when he saw that the last message was from Vernon. It was a message from two hours ago and he would not respond, but the curiosity to know what the American had sent him was greater.

Vernonie [9:12 pm]: boo, please let me know when you get home

Vernonie [9:20 pm]: and I'm really sorry about today

Seungkwan saw the gap between one message and another, making it seem like Vernon really thought about whether or not to apologize about what had happened. He sighed and looked up at the ceiling, wondering if he really should just ignore those messages and go to sleep, but he thought otherwise and how irritated he would be if he didn't get an answer about that.

“Oh you big idiot”, Seungkwan mumbled to himself as he typed in an answer.

Seungkwan: I'm home.

Seungkwan saw Vernon start typing but give up the next second. That made him lock his cell phone and settle into bed to sleep.

At Vernon's apartment, he wanted to respond by asking if Seungkwan was still upset with him, but considering the dot at the end of the message he deduced that he was, so he gave up and decided to talk to the older one tomorrow.

Closing the messaging app Vernon opened the rings app, just to make sure Seungkwan really was home and there was no one around him. But when he found Seungkwan's name, another name also appeared, and he stopped being worried to start getting annoyed when he saw Baekho's name in the same place as Seungkwan was, especially at that time of night.

Vernon had noticed the way Baekho always looked and talked to Seungkwan, and he didn't like that one bit. He didn't know what it was, but it always made him want to act differently than he normally acted, sticking to Seungkwan's side, and trying to get his attention all the time so he wouldn't notice what he had already noticed about Baekho.

“Stop it and go to sleep, Vernon”, Vernon told himself. Turning off the lights and closing his eyes tightly.

He didn't have time to think about Baekho and his crush on Seungkwan. After all, he had to apologize to Seungkwan the next day.

 

Chapter Text

Seoul, South Korea.

5:24 PM.

 

Vernon swiveled in his chair looking at the computer bored, irritated that he hadn't been able to do what he wanted all day.

In the morning Seungkwan was in a meeting with Jun and The8 and only showed up at lunchtime, where he happened to sit between Mingyu and Baekho and didn't even pay attention to him at the end of the table. Mingyu spent most of the day glued to Seungkwan, and that was annoying him because he just wanted to talk to the older one. In the afternoon he went to the intelligence team's office, but Woozi said that Seungkwan and Wonwoo had gone to the infirmary for the monthly health check, which made him return to his office frustrated once again.

It had never been so difficult to talk to Seungkwan in that department as it is today.

Vernon looked at his watch and locked the computer before leaving the room. It was almost the end of the day, so Seungkwan would probably be in the intelligence team's office and he didn't mind having that conversation in front of other agents. Vernon just wanted to apologize properly.

The door to the intelligence team's office was closed, so he looked through the glass and saw Seungkwan on the workbench concentrating on something in his hands.

Vernon studied him for a few seconds, seeing how handsome Seungkwan was with the round glasses, the dark blue shirt with the sleeves rolled up to his elbows and the brown hair that today was thrown forward almost covering his eyes.

Why does he have to be so attractive?

Shaking his head Vernon opened the door, not seeing anyone but him in the room which was fine.

“Boo?”, Vernon called, getting Seungkwan's attention, who stared at him over his glasses without expressing much reaction. Vernon gulped at that look, “Hi.”

“Hi”, Seungkwan replied softly, “What are you doing here?”

“I wanted to talk to you”, Vernon said closing the door behind him, “I've been looking for you all day, but you seemed to be busy.”

“And I was busy”, Seungkwan said simply, locking the iPad from the workbench, “I still am, actually.”

“It's going to be really quick”, Vernon said eagerly, putting his hands in his pockets, “I wanted to apologize for yesterday. I got it all wrong and ended up saying the wrong thing to you.”

“It’s okay, Vernon”, Seungkwan shook his head, turning his attention back to what he was doing, “Don't worry because it won't happen again.”

“I didn't say I didn't want it to happen again”, Vernon approached the workbench, “I very much appreciate your concern for wanting to make me feel better for the last few days. Really. And I was so confused I didn't notice your good intentions. And I'm really sorry, Boo.”

“Are you feeling better?”, Seungkwan asked raising his head to face Vernon again.

“Right now? I suck”, Vernon said sincerely, “I didn't mean to hurt you. Please forgive me?”

“God, you're really dramatic”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes, bracing his hands on the counter and giving the American a small smile, “It's okay, Vernon. It's past now.”

“Okay”, Vernon nodded, pressing his lips together and working up the courage to do what he wanted, “You know, I was thinking of something.”

“Thinking about what?”

“I really want to eat a burger, have a milkshake, and play arcade”, Vernon began with a shrug. Seungkwan found him cute at that moment, “Do you want to go there with me tonight?”

“Uh... I can't”, Seungkwan said with a grimace, “I already have plans for tonight, Vernon. I'm sorry.”

“Oh… Okay”, Vernon shook his head. He felt like an idiot at that moment, “You already have plans... Right. It's okay! We can go another day, right?”

“Yeah, we can go another day”, Seungkwan nodded with a small smile, “I'm really sorry, Vernon.”

“Don't be sorry!”, Vernon let out a nervous laugh, “Well, I'll get my stuff to go home. Enjoy your night, Boo.”

“I will. Thanks, Vernon.”

“See you tomorrow”, Vernon said opening the door, wanting to get out of there and leave as quickly as possible.

“See you”, Seungkwan nodded before turning his attention to the workbench.

Vernon walked out of the intelligence team's office and slapped his hand to his forehead, thinking about what an idiot he'd been seconds ago. It was obvious that Seungkwan would already have plans, after all he would not always be available to be with him.

“Congratulations you big idiot!”, Vernon mumbled to himself as he walked down the hall, “At least he accepted my apology.”

Vernon shook his head and walked back to the field team office at a brisk pace, wanting to get his things and get home as quickly as possible.

Does he have plans with Baekho tonight?, Vernon thought, grumbling, and scratching his head to keep from thinking about things he doesn't know about.

“Vernon-ah!”, Jun said as he saw the youngest enter the room, “We were looking for you.”

“What for?”, Vernon asked heading straight to his desk.

“We’re going out to drink and eat”, Sangwoo said typing something into his cell phone, “Are you coming?”

“Yeah, we need to cheer Joshua up somehow”, Jun said squeezing Joshua's shoulder who still had the same sad expression.

“You really need to smile a little, man”, Vernon said picking up his backpack. Joshua forced a smile, which made him chuckle, “It's better than nothing. Jun-ah, are you going alone?”

“Yeah. Hao is joining a meditation club and he has a session today”, Jun said like it was no big deal, slinging his backpack over one shoulder, “I called Hoshi, but he wasn't in a good mood.”

“It'll be just the four of us then”, Sangwoo said finally putting away his cell phone, “Shall we go? I want to get a nice table in the park.”

“Namsan Park?”, Vernon asked, getting a nod from the eldest, “Okay, let's go.”

Maybe hanging out with the boys would help him distract himself a little.

At least that's what he expected.

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“Oh I love this park at night!”, Seungkwan said happily seeing the lights that illuminated Namsan Park, “We've been here a lot before, haven't we Chan?”

“Don't be so nostalgic hyung”, Chan grumbled, but soon ended up smiling with his brother, “You always lost in the running for me.”

“You always had stronger legs”, Seungkwan shrugged.

“Wait for me to get out of this chair for you to see”, Chan said pushing Seungkwan around the waist.

“I love the self-deprecating humor”, Wonwoo chuckled walking beside Seokmin, seeing Mingyu and Baekho up ahead looking for a good table, “It’s a good night.”

“Thanks for the invitation, Wonwoo”, Chan said smiling and Wonwoo ruffled the younger boy's hair.

“Seungkwan was right when he said you’re cute, Chan.”

“No way he said that!”, Chan looked shocked at Seungkwan who had a grimace on his face, “Hyung!”

“It hurt, but I managed to survive”, Seungkwan waved his hand, showing that it was no big deal. Chan laughed, slapping his brother on the arm.

“Do you have siblings, Wonwoo?”, Seokmin asked, receiving a negative nod, “Do you want to adopt two? I don't mind, you know?”

“As if you could live without both of us”, Seungkwan chuckled smugly.

“Try me”, Seokmin narrowed his eyes, making Wonwoo laugh harder. He was enjoying being part of that moment between the three brothers.

“Guys! This looks like a good place”, Mingyu waved forward, showing a well-lit table.

“There's a good space for me, so I'm fine”, Chan said, settling into the space Mingyu opened up for him on the table.

“I'll get the menu and order the first round for us”, Baekho said leaving his coat on the chair beside Seungkwan, “You're underage, so what do you like to drink Chan?”

“A cold soda is great, thanks”, Chan smiled at Baekho who went to order with Seokmin and Wonwoo, “He's nice. Is he the one sending you pictures and messages, Kwan?”

“What?!”, Seungkwan asked in surprise, hearing Mingyu chuckle between them, “Of course not, Chan. Baekho is a friend.”

“Could it be him”, Chan shrugged, reaching for his cell phone, “He's pretty and nice.”

“Go talk to your girlfriend and leave me alone”, Seungkwan snapped, getting a frown from the younger one.

“Oh you two are funny”, Mingyu chuckled as he rested his arms crossed on the table, “But Baekho really is extra nice to you, Kwan.”

“See?”, Chan said smugly, not taking his attention off his cell phone and thanking for being away from Seungkwan or he would be punched.

“I know that”, Seungkwan said looking at the older man who was talking to Seokmin and Wonwoo later on, “But changing the subject, why have you been stuck to me all day?”

“I was curious about your meeting with Jun and The8”, Mingyu said more quietly, “What is it about?”

“You can't be more curious, can you?”, Seungkwan chuckled, seeing his friend pouted guiltily, “I'm helping them with something. That's all.”

“Ah Kwan! I want to know what it is!”

“I'll tell if you tell me why you and Wonwoo hang around with little secrets in the corners”, Seungkwan countered.

“We don't keep secrets!”

“Oh yeah, you do. And I want to know what it is, Mingyu.”

“It's just…”, Mingyu stopped and looked around before approaching his friend, “We saw an argument between Baekho and Sangwoo after that meeting Coups was angry about.”

“What were they arguing about?”

“It looks like the three leaders gave them the same mission, which was to keep an eye on the Fuchu representative, but without warning that they would be working together.”

“But that doesn't make sense”, Seungkwan said confused and Mingyu nodded, “None of the leaders would do that without talking to them together.”

“That's what Wonwoo and I have been talking about”, Mingyu explained, “We've been watching their behavior after that, especially with some things Baekho said to Sangwoo that day.”

“What kind of things?”

“I'll tell you the details later”, Mingyu said nodding his head forward and Seungkwan could see the three men approaching.

“Okay! We ordered fried chicken and jokbal for everyone”, Seokmin said taking a seat next to Chan and placing the soda in front of the youngest who had a grimace, “What's up Chan?”

“I’m glad you guys came back. I thought they were going to start kissing here because of how close they were”, Chan mumbled pointing to Mingyu and Seungkwan who laughed at what the youngest had said.

Baekho and Wonwoo laughed too, but looking closely at both of them. They both knew that Mingyu and Seungkwan had an affair years ago, so that Chan’s joke carried more weight to both of them.

“You two traumatized the kid!”, Seokmin chuckled as he sipped his beer.

“Don't worry about it, Chan”, Mingyu said simply. Wonwoo stared at him for a few seconds before looking away from his beer.

Seungkwan noticed the looks of Wonwoo and Baekho and decided to change the subject, starting to talk about the musical they would watch later. The mood at the table clearly changed to something livelier and only improved after the food arrived. Wonwoo and Baekho had adored Chan, finding him cute and funny just like Seokmin.

The conversation between the six flowed so naturally that it felt like they were lifelong friends. Seungkwan and Mingyu were happy to see their work friends having fun with them and Seungkwan's brothers. Even giving advice on how to flirt with Dahyun the boys gave it to Chan who, this time, ended up accepting it without grumbling or getting defensive.

Everyone at that table was very close, and after a few beers and a lot of food Seungkwan noticed Baekho's arm on the back of his chair almost hugging his shoulders. He felt a shiver in his stomach at that, but he said nothing. Seungkwan could notice Seokmin's suspicious look at him, but the older brother didn't say anything either.

What none of them knew was that at a table nearby, four other agents were also drinking and eating and talking about the most absurd things possible to try and make Joshua feel better. It had been a tough mission, but at least Jun had gotten some smiles from the older man with some stories about his training in China.

“So you decided to transfer to Korea because one of the agents on your old team killed your cat?”, Vernon asked confused.

“No! My cat died and this agent was joking about it”, Jun explained placing the beer bottle on the table, “Everyone there knew I loved that cat, and that asshole was joking about it. So I punched him in the face and accepted the transfer to Korea, which was something I was already looking forward to because the money was better.”

“Better than China?”, Sangwoo asked in surprise.

“Too many people, man”, Jun said with a grimace. There was a small moment of silence at the table until Joshua threw his head back and laughed out loud.

“This story sucks, man!”, Joshua said laughing, pushing Jun's arm, who started laughing with him.

“I know! But at least you're laughing”, Jun chuckled down the rest of his beer.

“Oh I love this guy”, Joshua said stopping laughing and taking a deep breath, “Wow! I need to go to the bathroom.”

“Me too”, Jun stood up with the eldest, “Sangwoo, can you order a bottle of water for me? Hao hates it when I drink too much.”

“He's meditating, Jun. He won't give a damn about this”, Sangwoo chuckled and saw the Chinese nod and go to the bathroom with Joshua.

Vernon saw Sangwoo ask for the water and looked around the place, enjoying the beautiful night it was making. He can't help but think about Seungkwan and how his night was going to be, if he would be enjoying it, and with who he would be enjoying. It was visible how much he was controlling himself not to pick up his cell phone and reach the app where he would be, and Vernon was sure it was impossible to look more pathetic than he did at that moment.

Ah fuck it!, Vernon thought, picking up his cell phone and opening the rings app. He frowned at seeing Seungkwan's name so close to his on the map. Lifting his head, he looked around more closely, until he turned back and found Seungkwan up ahead laughing with Wonwoo and a boy in the wheelchair, who he assumed to be his younger brother.

It seemed okay until Vernon noticed someone else approach and put an arm around Seungkwan's shoulders, and that was like a punch to his stomach.

Baekho laughed with them and with his free hand he smoothed a few strands of Seungkwan's hair, and Vernon felt his body boil with rage.

“What”, Vernon said through gritted teeth as he saw Seungkwan smile at Baekho, “the fuck is that?”

“What?”, Sangwoo asked looking at Vernon and following his gaze to something behind him, raising his eyebrows when he saw that scene, “Oh...”

Sangwoo shifted his gaze between the two agents up ahead and a pissed-off Vernon. He knew the two were seeing each other, but Vernon had made it pretty clear that they weren't serious, so he didn't understand what all the fuss was about.

“Are you okay man?”, Sangwoo asked holding Vernon's shoulder and noticing how tense he was.

“Do I look okay?”, Vernon asked rudely, not taking his eyes off Seungkwan.

“He's going out with the boys, Vernon-ah”, Sangwoo said not minding the rudeness, “What's the matter?”

“Baekho is the problem”, Vernon said obviously, “Don't you see that?!”

“Yes, I do”, Sangwoo looked once more at the group who were now walking towards the park exit, “But you guys don't have anything serious. I don't understand your irritation.”

Vernon glared at Sangwoo and snorted annoyed, turning in his chair, and crossing his arms. He had no right to be annoyed with Seungkwan for going out with someone, especially after he rejected a night out with him the day before for sheer cowardice.

“You need to sort this out soon, Vernon”, Sangwoo said simply, squeezing Vernon's shoulder so that he relaxed, “I've always told you that. If you want something, then work for it. Don't wait around because someone can take over.”

Vernon continued to stare at the table with his arms crossed, thinking about what Sangwoo was saying. And it was true. The eldest always emphasized how much he needed to go after what he wanted to deserve to have, but with Seungkwan the story was different. Mainly because he didn't know what he was feeling for Seungkwan, he just knew that he wanted to be by his side and have his attention only for himself, without having anyone else trying to steal the man from him.

God, what are you thinking?, Vernon chided himself shaking his head.

“I'm going home”, Vernon took some money from his wallet and tossed on the table, getting up then, “See you tomorrow.”

“Vernon-ah don't be like this, man”, Sangwoo said, but Vernon just turned his back and walked away. Sangwoo rolled his eyes and saved the money to pay the bill later, “Tough boy.”

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

Seoul, South Korea.

Intelligence Department.

9:15 PM.

 

“Hoshi, can you hear me?”, S.Coups asked snapping his fingers in front of his friend's face, seeing him blink a few times before looking at him.

“Sorry, Coups”, Hoshi said, settling back in his chair, “I was thinking of something else.”

“Is everything alright?”, Woozi asked with a frown, “You were pretty airy today.”

“I'm only worried about one thing, but it's okay”, Hoshi said opening the top two shirt buttons, “Where were we?”

“Lisa should call any minute now”, S.Coups said still looking suspiciously at his friend, “I was just saying JR is handling ChungHee's case now.”

“Woozi told me he was seen in Japan”, Hoshi agreed, “Did he ask for our help?”

“Only with information”, Woozi said typing something on the laptop, “I sent everything we have to him this morning.”

“JR is very competent. They will be able to catch ChungHee and send him to Fuchu with his brother.”

“Great. One less problem”, Hoshi sighed and heard the sound of the call coming from the TV, which made him sit back in his chair and soon Lisa's image appeared on the big screen.

“Good night boys!”, Lisa smiled and waved at the three agents. It was still possible to see some scratches on her face and also the splint on her right wrist from the attack she suffered days ago.

“Hey Lisa”, The three said at the same time, smiling at the Thai woman.

“How are you?”, S.Coups asked worriedly.

“I'm fine”, Lisa shrugged, “I'm going to take that splint off soon and the bruises are almost gone.”

“Oh that's good”, Woozi said in relief, “We have some news for you.”

“I hope they're good.”

“Oh yeah”, S.Coups nodded, “ChungHee is now being wanted by the team in Japan. So we don't need to worry about him for now.”

“Great”, Lisa nodded, “No sign of Khalan yet?”

“Not yet, but if ChungHee is in Japan he might be around”, Hoshi said crossing his arms.

“I doubt he'll show up yet.”

“So are we, but we're finding a way to keep an eye on him”, Woozi said simply. Hoshi looked at him curiously.

“That's good”, Lisa said leaning her arms on the table, “Maybe next week I'll be landing in Korea.”

“Are you really coming?”

“I want Khalan arrested, and if I have to go to Korea for that, then I will.”

“You're the boss”, S.Coups said amused, “You can stay at our place if you don't want to stay in a hotel.”

“That's very kind of you, but I won't intrude on your privacy”, Lisa chuckled, “I'm still arranging everything around here, so when I have a date I'll let you know.”

“Okay, we'll keep you posted on ChungHee too”, Woozi said simply, “Go rest, Lisa.”

“You too, you workaholics”, Lisa grumbled, making the three agents smile at her, “See you later, boys.”

“See you Lisa”, S.Coups waved and the call ended, “I'm more relieved to know she's alright.”

“Me too”, Hoshi said leaning his arms on the table and facing Woozi in front of him, “What do you mean by 'we're finding a way to keep an eye on him'?

“Have you noticed anything weird among the agents on your team?”, Woozi asked taking off his glasses, “Hidden conversations or strange behavior?”

“Maybe?”, Hoshi said frowning, “I've seen Mingyu acting weird all week and always whispering to Wonwoo.”

“Seungkwan and The8 have been acting weird too”, Woozi said facing S.Coups, “They really think they can hide something from me. It's cute.”

“I saw the two of them having a meeting with Jun this morning”, S.Coups commented seeing the shorter nod, “Do you want to ask them what's going on or are you going to wait and see?”

“I'll wait a little bit more”, Woozi said smiling, which made Hoshi laugh.

“I know that smirk”, Hoshi straightened in his chair, “I'll keep an eye on my boys too.”

“It may not be related to Khalan, but I have a feeling it will eventually lead us to him”, S.Coups said sharing the same look with Woozi.

“Oh I'm sure of that.”

 

Chapter Text

Incheon, South Korea.

9:34 AM.

 

Chan was quietly pushing his chair down the school hallway, taking care not to hit anyone and make any fuss. He was already used to that routine, and at least some students gave him more space to move around the corridors.

Chan stopped at his locker and glanced at the itinerary on the door, sighing when he saw he had two math classes that morning. He still had problems with numbers, but Seungkwan and Dahyun were helping him improve. Thinking about the girl made him crack a small smile and look around to see if she wasn't around.

It was at that moment that his locker door slammed shut, making him startle and everyone in the hallway stop talking to see what would happen. Chan looked up and rolled his eyes to see Jaein staring at him with the same smirk as always.

“Hey, no legs”, Jaein said excitedly and Chan took a deep breath, trying to ignore him, “Aren't you going to answer me?”

“What do you want?”, Chan asked seriously, going back to opening his locker to get his book and putting it in his backpack.

“I saw you smiling and wanted to know why”, Jaein said leaning on the locker and Chan looked at him with an arched brow.

“It's none of your business, Jaein”, Chan straightened his backpack and turned his chair to leave, “Leave me alone.”

“You're very rude, no legs”, Jaein said in a mock offended tone and Chan just ignored it, “Is this the education those fag brothers of yours gave you?”

Chan immediately stopped the chair. He took a deep breath and clenched his jaw, turning his chair to face the insufferable boy who was staring at him triumphantly. If there was one thing Chan didn't accept it was hearing someone talk shit about his brothers.

“What did you say?”, Chan asked through clenched teeth. All the students in that hallway watched everything in silence, “Repeat what you said!”

“Wow! He's pissed off”, Jaein chuckled approaching, “I didn't expect you to talk like a man. You know, since you have two fags in the house.”

Chan could feel his blood boiling, and the adrenaline he felt from the hate was so strong that he didn't even notice when he pulled his legs to the floor and pushed himself up, using the hallway wall for support and landing a punch at Jaein's nose as he stumbled back.

All the students widened their eyes as they saw Chan getting up from the chair even if awkwardly. He was breathing heavily and could feel his hand throbbing, but he couldn't care less.

“Don't you ever open your mouth again to talk about my brothers!”, Chan barked through clenched teeth, “Do you understand? Never again!”

“Who do you think you are?”, Jaein asked getting up, pushing Chan backwards making him fall to the ground without being able to help himself, “You want me to teach you a lesson like that day? Huh?”

“Stop now!”

Chan turned his attention away from Jaein when he heard Dahyun's scream in the background, seeing her appear among the students and pull Jaein back.

“Don't touch him!”, Dahyun said seriously, and it was the first time Chan had seen her and she didn't have the beautiful smile on her face.

“Look what he did to my nose!”, Jaein said irritably showing the blood on his nose. Chan smiled proudly at that, making the boy even angrier, “I'm going to finish you, you legless!”

“No you won't!”, Dahyun stepped in front of Jaein and pushed him back, “You promised, remember?”

Chan stared at her in confusion, but his expression faded as she helped him back to his chair.

“But he-”

“Please Jae”, Dahyun asked and Chan stared at her trying to understand that expression and the way she was talking. He saw Jaein stare at him once more and snort angrily.

“Fine!”, Jaein wiped his nose and walked over, dropping a kiss on Dahyun's cheek, which made Chan arch his eyebrows in surprise, “See you later.”

Chan would rather have been punched than see this. He saw Jaein leave as did most of the students, leaving just the two of them in front of the lockers, and Chan had never wanted to leave as much as he did at that moment.

“Are you okay?”, Dahyun asked approaching with the book that was on the floor. Chan felt sick, wanting more than anything to get away from the girl, “Chan?”

“I'm fine”, Chan replied queasily, picking up his book and throwing it in the backpack, “Thanks for the help.”

“Hey, what's wrong?”, Dahyun asked trying to touch Chan's face, but he walked away.

“Nothing. Don't worry about me”, Chan replied dryly, “You should go check on your boyfriend's nose because I think I broke it.”

“What-”, Dahyun widened her eyes, shaking her head quickly, “No! Chan, he's not my boyfriend! I-”

“You don't need to explain yourself to me”, Chan cut in, gripping the chair's wheels tightly, “See you around.”

“Chan, wait. I don't-”

“Bye Dahyun”, Chan turned his chair and walked down the hall as fast as he could, leaving a worried Dahyun behind.

He should have known by now, but it still hurt so much to see Jaein kiss her and talk to her like that. Who was he to think a girl like Dahyun would ever like him as anything other than just friends? It was obvious that she would end up with someone like Jaein, who was athletic, tall, strong and could walk on both legs without a problem.

Chan felt his eyes sting and he didn't even notice when he entered the school bathroom, locking himself in the wheelchair cabin and throwing his backpack on the floor. He quickly wiped the first tear that ran down his cheek, as well as the second and third, but on the fourth he gave up and let all those tears flow freely.

He didn't want to stay there today because he knew that at some point Dahyun would come looking for him and he didn't want to talk to her right now. So thinking about it he took his cell phone and looked for Seokmin's number, because he knew that his brother would only work in the afternoon and he didn't want to take Seungkwan off work again. Dialing his brother's number, he waited until he was picked up on the third ring.

“Chan? What's wrong?”, Seokmin asked worried, because he knew that the youngest never called him during class time.

“Hyung, can you pick me up?” Chan asked holding back a sob.

“Of course I can, but what happened?”, Seokmin asked already going after the car keys, “Are you hurt? Has anyone done something to you again?”

“No, just…”, Chan hiccupped and ran a hand down his face to wipe away the tears, “She has a boyfriend, hyung.”

Seokmin stopped in the middle of the room when he heard that, feeling bad for his brother in the same second. He knew that this was Chan's first crush, and how committed he was the night before to learn flirting so he could ask Dahyun out on a date.

“Oh Chan”, Seokmin sighed, “I'm sorry, little man.”

“It’s alright, just please come pick me up.”

“Sure, I'm coming”, Seokmin took the keys and locked the door on his way out, “Don't cry anymore, okay? I'll pick you up and we'll spend the day watching movies and eating ice cream. In fifteen minutes I'll be there.”

“Thank you, hyung”, Chan thanked and ended the call.

Seokmin got in the car and before starting he decided to send a message to Seungkwan, just to let him know that Chan was already coming home and he didn't need to pick him up this afternoon.

Seokmin: hey kwan. I'm going to pick chan from school now

Seungkwan: what happened????

Seokmin: chan is facing his first broken heart

Seungkwan: oh shit :(

Seungkwan: did she reject him?

Seokmin: looks like she has a boyfriend

Seungkwan: it's even worse!

Seungkwan: poor chan...

Seungkwan: I'll bring us pizza later!

Seokmin: okay! see you later

Seungkwan: see you

Seungkwan answered Seokmin and locked his cell phone, going back to waiting for his coffee to be ready. He felt sorry for his younger brother, but unfortunately that was something he couldn't help.

“What’s up with this face?”, Baekho asked nudging Seungkwan's arm, “Is everything alright?”

“Yeah, it was just Seokmin saying he's picking up Chan from school”, Seungkwan said taking his coffee, “Looks like those tips from yesterday won't help now.”

“Why?”, Baekho asked as he escorted him out of the cafeteria.

“Looks like she has a boyfriend”, Seungkwan sighed and this time Baekho grimaced, which made him laugh, “Exactly that.”

“Oh poor boy”, Baekho chuckled putting his hands in his pockets, “That's what makes a man. He'll be fine.”

“Oh for sure he will, but first I need to buy him a giant pizza”, Seungkwan rolled his eyes and Baekho chuckled, “And some paper tissues too.”

The two continued laughing in the hallway until they passed the copy room where, coincidentally, Vernon was leaving looking at some papers and ended up bumping into Baekho. He was ready to apologize until he saw who was in front of him, which made his expression turn serious at the same time. Seeing Seungkwan and Baekho laughing at each other and close was totally different than seeing them steps away.

“Hey Vernon”, Seungkwan said still with a smile on his face. Vernon felt even angrier if possible.

“Hi”, Vernon more muttered than responded, reaching down to pick up one of the fallen papers.

“I didn't see you this morning. Where were you?”

“Around”, Vernon snapped, tucking the papers in his hands, and seeing Seungkwan now frown at him, “I need to go. See you later.”

“See you...”, Seungkwan raised his hand to wave, but gave up when he saw the American stumbling down the corridor, “What's got into him?”

“Bad day maybe?”, Baekho asked with a shrug, walking back with Seungkwan to the intelligence team's office.

“It might be.”

Seungkwan sat in his chair and watched Baekho do the same, soon taking the headset to enter a meeting with his current leader in Japan. He was having a lot of contact with his new operation because of ChungHee, and Seungkwan even heard comments of him traveling to Japan at some point to help them. Seungkwan was thoughtful with that possibility, as he was already used to the elder's daily presence, besides enjoying his company a lot.

“Seungkwan?”, The8 asked confused as he entered the office and saw the agent at his desk, “What are you doing here?”

“Working?”, Seungkwan said confused.

“I thought you'd be in the interrogation room with Vernon”, The8 said putting his hands in his pockets. Seungkwan arched an eyebrow at him.

“What do you mean?”, Seungkwan asked looking at his email calendar, not seeing any appointments in the interrogation room in the morning, “I don't have any appointments for the morning. Is he in the interrogation room?”

“Yeah, he was on his way there. Looks like he had a few more questions for Minji, so I thought you guys would go together.”

Seungkwan stared at The8 with arched eyebrows, surprised by that information. He had run into Vernon a few minutes ago, and he wondered why he hadn't warned him that he would be interrogating Minji again. That bothered him, even more for the harsh way the American had spoken to him.

“Is everything alright?”, The8 asked as he sat down at his desk, seeing Seungkwan's expression change to annoyed in seconds, “Did you guys argue or something?”

“No, but we will”, Seungkwan grabbed his coffee and stood up, striding out of the room towards the interrogation room. The8 grimaced at that and turned his attention to his work.

Seungkwan took the elevator and drank some coffee to concentrate. If Vernon had actually walked into that interrogation room without him, even though he knew Minoru and Minji were their case, it would have been childish in the extreme.

And he didn't even know why.

Arriving in the interrogation room Seungkwan let out a humorless laugh as he saw Vernon and Minji through the glass. He thought about going in and taking part in that surprise interrogation, but he thought better of it and just sat on one of the leather sofas there and watched the two of them, calmly drinking his coffee while listening to their conversation.

“What was your role in Khalan's gang?”, Vernon asked seriously, tapping his pen on the table.

“I didn't have a role”, Minji replied. She no longer had the same hostile attitude from the other interrogation, finally accepting that she would be trapped there and no one would pick her up like they did with ChungHee, “I just did what he was ordering from time to time.”

“And what did he tell you to do?”

“Normal stuff. Walking around towns to find good women to compose his catalogue, and also attracting these women to be taken. Counting the money he received from the trafficking points... Those things.”

Pretty normal stuff, Seungkwan thought shaking his head. He was more and more impressed by how she said it all with ease and without any kind of guilt.

“Right”, Vernon said taking down everything that was said, “And what is his purpose now that he's run away from Fuchu?”

“The same as always”, Minji shrugged, “He always talks about taking over Asia and making everyone fall at his feet.”

“And you don't know how he managed to escape Fuchu?”

“I don't know who helped him, but it was definitely someone very close to him”, Minji replied simply. Seungkwan narrowed his eyes and studied her closely.

“Okay, I think you were very helpful and provided good information today”, Vernon nodded finishing taking down everything the woman had said, “But don't think we're done here.”

“I know that”, Minji said smiling. It was the same smile from the day they'd met her at the bar, and Vernon didn't react that little smile, “Where's your partner?”

“He's busy”, Vernon replied getting up. Seungkwan laughed in disbelief at that answer, “An officer will take you back to the penitentiary.”

Vernon grabbed his things and left the room, stopping with his hand on the doorknob when he saw Seungkwan sitting on one of the sofas facing him seriously. He arched an eyebrow and decided not to say anything and just leave the interrogation room, but it was obvious that he knew Seungkwan would follow him. Thing that happened within seconds.

“What was that, Vernon?”, Seungkwan asked seriously and Vernon continued walking down the hall.

“A brief interrogation.”

“I know that.”

“Then why did you ask?”

“Because I want to know why you're acting like an asshole again”, Seungkwan grabbed Vernon's arm to face him, “Why didn't you tell me you were going to interrogate Minji again?”

“Because I wanted to do this alone”, Vernon said freeing his arm from Seungkwan's grip, “And because you were busy.”

“I was busy yesterday, Vernon”, Seungkwan emphasized crossing his arms, “You ran into me in the hallway minutes ago!”

“Why all the stress over this, Seungkwan?”, Vernon asked annoyed as he walked back down the hall, “It was just a few questions.”

“Because I'm on the case too!”, Seungkwan replied indignantly, “I want to participate in things too, especially when my partner on the case decides to do an interrogation out of nowhere!”

“You're a newbie. Gotta learn how things work here”, Vernon said calling the elevator. Seungkwan really wanted to punch the American at that moment.

“Again, why are you acting like an asshole to me?”, Seungkwan asked almost offended, not understanding that change in behavior.

“I don't know”, Vernon shrugged, stepping into the elevator as the doors opened, “Ask Baekho.”

Seungkwan frowned at that, unable to form any reaction other than confusion. The elevator doors closed, cutting off the exchange of glances between the two who were still silent. Seungkwan kept staring at the metal doors trying to process what the hell just happened.

“What the fuck was that?”

 

>>>>><<<<< 

 

“You are so childish”, Vernon grumbled to himself once he got home.

He spent the rest of the day ignoring Seungkwan and avoiding being in the same room as him, wanting to avoid having to explain himself about that last sentence before the elevator doors closed. Not even he knew why he said that.

But that was a lie. He knew the reason very well, and it was simply because he couldn't bear to see Seungkwan smiling and laughing with Baekho especially with the older one looking at him the way he looked, as if he wanted to touch him and even kiss him.

“Stop it, Vernon!”, Vernon said irritably, shrugging off his shirt and tossing it on the bed before going into the bathroom and taking off the rest of his clothes, “You're going too far.”

Vernon ducked under the cold water of the shower, hoping it would calm him down. During the shower it was impossible not to think about the little argument he had with Seungkwan in the hallway and how he really had been an asshole not to talk to him about wanting to talk to Minji again, but that was one of his biggest faults which was acting without think when he was angry.

He really wanted to ignore all that anger and go to Seungkwan's house to have him in his arms again, kiss him one more time to show that he was better than anyone else he could have.

“What the hell kind of thinking is that?”, Vernon wondered as he turned off the shower, pulling the towel to dry off and getting out of that bathroom.

Vernon sorted out an outfit to get dressed and before he could put on his hoodie, knocks on the front door were heard. Confused, he left the room and went to open the front door still holding his hoodie, the same one he almost dropped on the floor when he saw a panting Seungkwan with damp, messy hair standing at his door.

“What are you doing here?”

“Ask Baekho?!”, Seungkwan asked breathlessly, but Vernon noticed the indignant tone in his voice, “What the fuck was that, Vernon?”

“Forget about it, Seungkwan”, Vernon rolled his eyes, putting on his hoodie.

“How can I forget about that shit?”, Seungkwan asked entering the apartment and closing the door, “You look like a fucking roller coaster, Vernon!”

“Maybe I am one!”

“But of course you are!”, Seungkwan snapped, “First I call you to distract yourself and you treat me like that, then you come like a sad puppy to apologize to me and now act like a fucking asshole again! What did I do to you?”

“Nothing!”, Vernon replied running a hand through his wet hair. He didn't want to have that conversation with Seungkwan, “You didn't do anything!”

“And why bring Baekho into this?”, Seungkwan asked ignoring the American's response, “What does he have to do with it?”

“I do not like him.”

“So what?”, Seungkwan asked raising his arms, “He's my friend, not yours.”

“Great friend, isn't it?”, Vernon snorted.

“Why all this mockery, Vernon?”, Seungkwan asked angrily, “You're really pissing me off.”

“Well you pissed me off first!”, Vernon snapped pointing to Seungkwan, “When he started laughing and smiling at you. I bet you liked it when he fixed your hair last night, uh?”

“How is it?”, Seungkwan asked confused, “How do you-”

“I was drinking with the boys at Namsan Park and I saw you guys”, Vernon crossed his arms, “I saw your plans sounded really good.”

“You're an idiot!”, Seungkwan chuckled humorlessly, “If I remember correctly, you dumped me the night before. So what's the problem with me hanging out with other people?”

“Did I say there was a problem?”

“Do you need to?”, Seungkwan pointed to the American, “Look at the way you're acting. And I don't know if you noticed, since you like to watch me so much, but I was with my brothers, Mingyu and Wonwoo. But of course you only saw one person.”

“I don't care who you were with, Seungkwan.”

“Stop lying!”, Seungkwan chuckled walking across the room. Both eyes gleamed with a mixture of irritation and jealousy, “Why did it affect you so much? Huh? Tell me, Vernon.”

“It didn't affect me”, Vernon said through gritted teeth, watching Seungkwan's steps without even blinking.

“Then why do you care so much about Baekho around me?”, Seungkwan asked in a teasing tone, leaning closer to Vernon, “You’re the one who said that we're not a couple, Vernon. This time are you the one messing things up?”

“No”, Vernon kept saying through clenched teeth.

“So what is it?”, Seungkwan asked stopping inches from the American's face, opening his best smile to ask what he wanted, “Are you jealous, Vernonie?”

Vernon continued to stare into Seungkwan's eyes that were so close to his own, feeling them burn against his own. Jealousy… That word activated an unknown trigger inside his body, and Vernon was dreading how he should react to that. Was he jealous? Of course he was, and he knew it.

But accepting that was something entirely different.

“Listen to me”, Vernon said quietly, pulling Seungkwan by the coat he was wearing and leaving the bodies practically glued together in the middle of the living room. Seungkwan continued to stare at him intently, not taking that teasing smile from his lips, “Never, got it? Don't you ever repeat that again.”

“So you admit it?”, Seungkwan asked in the same tone, tipping his head to the side, “All day you've been acting like a jerk out of pure jealousy? Was that it?”

Vernon felt his body burn with it, making him squeeze Seungkwan's coat between his fingers more tightly. Seungkwan was teasing him, and he didn't want to indulge in that teasing.

“I'm not jealous of you, Seungkwan”, Vernon tried to sound as firm as possible, “Get this out of your head.”

“Then take your hands off me”, Seungkwan grabbed the American's wrists, pulling them down until he let go of his coat, “And don't treat me like garbage just because you have some kind of unresolved complex with me. If you keep treating me like that, I'll have to act different with you.”

“Act different how?”, Vernon asked trying to keep his eyes only staring at Seungkwan, but it was hard when he was this close and it had been a while since they last had anything.

Seungkwan noticed that and smiled more, feeling something fierce take over his body and his actions. Something that had been sleeping inside him for years.

“I've been really nice and kind to you, Vernon”, Seungkwan still had the same deep low tone, which was making Vernon's stomach flutter with anticipation. Seungkwan forced him to walk backwards without letting go of his wrists, and he obeyed without even realizing, “And what have you been doing? Treating me badly, being stupid and childish like I was to blame for something. Do you think that's right?”

“I do not-”

“Shh! I'm talking!”, Seungkwan said louder, pushing Vernon back until he collapsed onto the couch, “I've had to put up with your rudeness all day, so now you're going to shut up and listen to me, got it?”

Vernon just nodded, feeling a bit coerced by that version of Seungkwan. The ever-so-happy brown eyes were now dark and burning against his own, as if he was a predator preparing prey before slaughter.

Strangely, Vernon liked that feeling.

“You don't scare me, Vernon”, Seungkwan said leaning his arms on the back of the sofa right next to Vernon's head, still standing so he could corner him, “You actually drive me crazy sometimes.”

“Then we're even”, Vernon said quietly, seeing Seungkwan shake his head slowly.

“No, we're not”, Seungkwan tilted his head to the side, bringing it closer and closer to Vernon's face who swallowed hard, “I didn't do anything to provoke you. But on second thought, I should.”

“There's no reason for it.”

“If you're going to be jealous of me, then let it be with a good reason”, Seungkwan now spoke almost in a whisper, making Vernon's body hair stand up, “Isn't that right? I should give you a reason to act like so impulsive.”

“Don't do that”, Vernon felt his mouth go dry, squeezing the leather of the sofa between his fingers to control the urge to pull Seungkwan's face against his at once.

Seungkwan stared intently at Vernon's expressions, amused to see him clearly controlling himself not to grab him right there. But this time it was his turn to play a little, and having Vernon so submissive to him on that couch was making that same fierce feeling that had been building inside him rise even more and nearly tear his chest apart.

He wanted Vernon, and he would have him right there on that couch.

“You really piss me off sometimes, Vernon.”

That's what Seungkwan said before finally putting his lips on Vernon's in a deep, fierce kiss, intense as the moment and fast as the pounding of their hearts. Seungkwan felt a tightness in his balls when Vernon held his face and moaned against his lips, bringing him as close as possible in order to deepen that kiss even more.

Vernon moved his lips in accordance with the rhythm that Seungkwan implied, feeling the hot tongue curl with his own causing a common grip on his boxers. His fingers had a life of their own as they ruffled and tugged at Seungkwan's brown hair, wanting to bring him closer until his body was over his own.

Seungkwan brought one of his hands up to Vernon's face, down to his neck and torso until he reached the sweatpants where he pressed his semi-erect member through the fabric. The sly moan that Vernon let out again against Seungkwan's lips as he invaded his sweatpants and started massaging his cock made Seungkwan moan along with him. He loved feeling Vernon's warm cock in his hands as he made him hard, which didn't take long to happen.

“That fast?”, Seungkwan asked as he broke the kiss, sucking on Vernon's bottom lip until he let go and opened his eyes, “It was just a kiss and you're already hard for me, Vernonie?”

“Stop teasing me, Seungkwan”, Vernon said out of breath, moving his hips to meet Seungkwan's hand that continued the slow massage.

“You started it.”

Seungkwan went back to kissing Vernon's already swollen lips still moving his hand along the length, and using his thumb to spread the pre-cum he released. Vernon brought his hands to Seungkwan's coat, pulling him closer and down the side of his body to his waist, quickly looking for the bulge in his jeans to do the same thing Seungkwan did to him. A heavy sigh hit Vernon's face before Seungkwan pulled away abruptly, making him miss the contact immediately.

“How nice would I be to take off your pants and give you a good blowjob right now?”, Seungkwan asked without taking his eyes off Vernon's, making him shiver from head to toe, “Huh? Tell me, Vernon.”

“Very nice”, Vernon said softly, moaning when he felt a firmer grip on his balls, “Ah! It would be great, Seungkwan.”

“Do you think you deserve one? After you treated me like you treated today?”, Seungkwan asked running his lips over Vernon's cheek and jaw, listening the heavy breathing next to his ear, “Because I don't think so.”

“I… No I-”

“You were really mean to me today, Vernonie”, Seungkwan said against Vernon's ear as he gave his balls another squeeze, not seeing Vernon roll his eyes with the pleasure he felt, “And I said I wouldn't be so nice to you anymore, right?”

“Seungkwan...”, Vernon moaned almost crying as Seungkwan released his cock and pulled away from his body, “No...”

“Calm down, you brat”, Seungkwan said pushing him back to the couch, opening the button on his pants and seeing Vernon's eyes fixed on what he was doing. That made him smile, “Do you want to continue from here?”

Vernon just nodded and took Seungkwan's hands out of the way, finishing the zipper and pulling down his jeans and boxers at once, opening his mouth and swallowing Seungkwan's entire length at once until the tip of his nose touched his pelvis. Seungkwan held back the urge to close his eyes to keep seeing the sight of Vernon swallowing his cock all at once, feeling it hit the back of the American's throat.

“Fuck... Just like that”, Seungkwan brought his hands up to Vernon's