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ᴾᴶᴹ

 

It had been a while since Jimin felt the thrill of royal life. 

When he was a kid, the king ordered to gather all the kids without parents in the three poorest villages, the ones with more violence in them. The meeting took place in the outskirts of the kingdom and every kid's will to live was tested, giving three of them the opportunity to be trained and pampered like royal blood would, with all the money and without anything lacking.

It was a big task, ridiculous to ask some kids— but the king wasn’t known for being charitable, we wanted them to fight for it. The children had to get to the palace in one week by their one means. Whoever got there first would be able to live the life they had always wanted, getting out of the dangerous villages.

Jimin was the first one to get there.

For the next fourteen years he lived what he called a hellish dream. It wasn’t exactly a nightmare, he still got everything he wanted apart for a full eight hours of rest before he and the others had to train for the 12 hours about physical training, studies, to learn how to act, move, speak and, luckily, a free hour to learn anything they wanted, so they wouldn’t go completely crazy.

Jimin opted for dance, and somehow the king had managed to turn his love for dancing into a weapon that served him.

“You look utterly bored, prince.” A intruder went into his room, a small smirk placed on his face.

Jimin snorted, twirling on his hands the object he had been playing with. “What gave me away? My face? My sudden quietness?”

“More like, you sharpening your knife when it can’t be any more sharp. If you continue doing it, you will make it disappear.”

Jimin sat up on his bed, raising an eyebrow to his friend— or that’s what he liked to think.

“You’ll need to understand my surprise, hyung. I’ve never seen you as someone who actually cared.”

Seokjin hummed, crossing his arms over his chest and walking to the full length mirror on one side of the room, but avoiding looking straight at it. 

“Maybe you’ll have to actually spend more time with me and actually know me before thinking I’m as cold as you.”

“Oh, please, Kim.” Jimin stood up, stretching by throwing his arms up. “I’m not cold, everyone around thinks I’m the most approachable. Who knows, they might demand for me to be king.”

The older’s eyes turned cold, his small smile vanished and he cleared his throat.

They still had the will to live a life they thought they deserved. Each of them had what they needed to be king after the current one died, and that moment was coming fast when the old man was getting more restless and lunatic over time.

“All at due time.” Seokjin mumbled, frowning.

Jimin giggled, delighted, while hiding the knives in his combat boots and taking out his phone from his back pocket. It was the youngest of them, telling him he was required in the king’s room.

“Looks like Jungkook is actually making some progress with him.” Jimin mumbled, typing back a quick reply.

“I know, I came here to look for you and take you back to the king’s room. Looks like we are getting a mission, the three of us.”

Something about it was making Jimin’s insides twist. They didn’t have missions together anymore, for the reason being their very passive aggressive nature towards each other.

“I know, I don’t like it either.” Seokjin commented while they got out of the room, typing on his phone, probably to Jungkook too. “But while we were trying to make him create a way of choosing one of us, he—”

“Went crazy by the idea of someone getting his throne?”

“Exactly.”

The hallways were empty on that side of the castle— a castle that was actually a huge mansion because they weren’t living stuck in the old days anymore. Except for their king every once in a while, who thought that he really did live during one of the ancient dynasties.

“What’s the point of having three amazing successors if he wants to keep it even now? Just call him out on his crazy behavior, hyung.”

“And get myself killed so any of you can do whatever you want with the kingdom? Right. You won’t ever care for it more than what you need, and Jungkook will turn it into his own playground.”

Jimin snorted, but said nothing. Arguing with Seokjin was signing a death wish to his will to live— and he knew he would need that will if the king was making him go to a mission that required the three princes.

The walk was hurried, they knew better than to make the king wait. The last time one of them did that, the three royals had to stand in the middle of winter for 5 hours in the gardens. Five hour for being five minutes late.

Jungkook was waiting outside the doors, his hands in his pockets and glaring at the door— well, probably at the king through the closed door. When he saw the others, he turned his glare into a more natural stare, with a simple smile. Neutral.

Sometimes Jimin wondered how they would be if they actually cared for each other.

With a mocking hum, incredulous by his own sudden thought and realizing how stupid he was being, he turned to the closed door. Thinking about that wouldn’t end up being good at any moment. 

“What happened? You should be there.” Seokjin asked the youngest.

“To be alone with his majesty when he’s plotting how to win more power is not one of my favorite things to watch, he becomes more violent than what is necessary, and I won’t be there to be one of his puppets, I’m meant to be the puppeteer.”

Maybe they would come off as less cold if they actually didn’t smile because of that, but they had been racing for the throne for the last seven years and railing each other up was what they lived for. They had to be the best among them, win everything they can, show everyone that they deserve to be the successor, in any way and by any means legally necessary.

Legal, because they were assholes, but fair ones.

One thing was certain, and the three of them were haunted by it since they won their lives. They couldn’t be weak, or, at least, they couldn’t let themselves look like they were.

“Coward.” Jimin smirked, opening the door.

Jungkook growled behind him, clearly annoyed, and Seokjin shushed them both while they walked through the door.

The king was a serious man, his eyebrows were mostly furrowed and sometimes the three princes thought that instead of a smile, the action would look more like a scowl. His laugh would sound as screeches from hell itself— alright, maybe not, but it just sounded like something the old man should be doing. He was dressed as the kings from long ago, and sometimes looking at him reminded Jimin of one of the many dramas they used to watch as kids, when they rarely had time to, and they weren’t trying to win the throne over.

“I need you to break a kingdom from the inside.” 

Jimin coughed, surprised. Maybe he was underestimating how crazy the man could really be. 

Sending away the three successors to the throne seemed a bit ridiculous when they were the ones keeping everything running and the people happy, trying to make less noticeable that the king was completely nuts and making stupid choices. Also, their enemies would get any opportunity to defeat them while they were away.

The king was standing in front of the throne, hands over the huge table that showed their kingdom, occupying half of the space, and the only one that remained to defeat, a beautiful place ruled by the king’s cousin, with a life of hatred falling between both families— one story that no one cared about anymore.

“They want to destroy us.” The king mumbled, glaring at the table. “They want my kingdom, but they won’t get it because you’ll take care of it, of them.”

Jungkook cleared his throat, taking one small step forward. “ Them , your majesty?”

The man nodded, looking up with the most dull, empty eyes they had ever seen. Jimin had to look at the table in order to avoid looking at his eyes. When he was a kid, those eyes gave him nightmares more than once.

“Everyone in the royal family needs to die.” 

Oh, right, just that. Tiny little detail.

Jimin looked up when the smell of burning paper reached his nose. The king was crazily looking down at the map displayed on the table while it started to burn slowly. Seconds later, a lighter was thrown at Seokjin, one that the older caught flawlessly. Jimin did his best not to roll his eyes.

Direct orders were rarely needed to be followed out of the palace. Personally, Jimin enjoyed those more than following royal duties, but his mind was set and that he had to make sacrifices to be in control and happy. He needed to get royal duties to show his potential as successor.

It took a few minutes talking with the king to realize that no one had an idea of what was happening inside the other kingdom. Every spy never returned and somehow it always looked like their enemies knew what the crazy king was planning to do. That was the reason for the withdrawal of the king to his chambers, where only the three of them were allowed to enter. The man trusted no one.

Going out of the room and leaving the burnt smell behind, Seokjin sighed. “We’ll have to pause our little battle until we are back to this place.”

“Don’t be ridiculous, hyung.” Jungkook shook his head with a smile. “The last time you said that, you got to be alone with that princess and got on the king’s good side for a week.”

Jimin scoffed. “Sneaky bastard.”

Seokjin took advantage of their distracted minds, but Jimin was sure that wouldn’t happen again, and he knew Jungkook knew it too. It seemed to be the last moment they realized they couldn’t trust each other.

“I actually liked her, unlike both of you.” Seokjin closed the door as quietly as he could. “The only thing you did was look at her as if she was the most boring person to ever come into your presence.”

“We destroyed her bloodline and we knew she wouldn’t be a princess for long, anyways.” Jimin snickered, starting to walk to the garden. “Are we supposed to be interested in everyone that comes here?”

He really needed to think about what they were planning to do, going to another kingdom without reliable information was a recipe for disaster.

“You need to understand that we don’t get a choice to do so.” 

He froze for a moment before frowning. It was something he resented about his life, after all. Probably the only thing that annoyed him and that he couldn’t cover up. Not being able to choose who he wanted to be with frustrated him too much.

He just didn’t know Seokjin had already guessed it.

He looked back over his shoulder. “You might be trying to lie your way to the throne and we might not be as good at lying as you, but we all have a weak point. Mess with me, and I’ll mess with you.”

There were times that they behaved like strangers, like they weren’t there with each other during most of their lives. It was easy to forget they actually saw each other grow into what they were now. 

“It’s always fun to be around my favorite hyungs.” Jungkook mocked with a small chuckle, walking in the opposite direction, probably to the library. “So much love!”

Seokjin was looking at Jimin with a cold glare, and the blond couldn’t help but to smirk before continuing his way to the gardens. 

They were dangerous, knowing how to push each other until they were about to break. 

And if it was a matter of who was breaking first, Jimin wouldn’t be the one doing it.

And speaking of breaking…

The kingdom they were supposed to destroy was guarded beautifully, that much they knew. Jimin felt like he needed to congratulate the person in charge of their military. Maybe Jungkook was the one that took care of that the most in their kingdom, but Seokjin and Jimin wouldn’t let him take all the glory, hence why they weren’t so ignorant about it. 

The rival king had two heirs from which Jimin knew nothing about. Then, there were their guards— and there were rumors about how deadly they could be, the four of them together. Many stories and whispers of the power they could yield, it almost sounded like urban legends.

As far as spies went, Jimin was in charge of his own small squad of spies. He didn’t send them to the enemies’ castle —another huge ass mansion—, unlike the crazy king. Until a month ago, his spies worked in the cheap bars in the other kingdom’s outskirts, getting information out of the citizens. That is until one of them got caught, and since everyone knew the ones caught never went back, they chickened out and decided to stop working for him.

Sighing, Jimin took his phone out.

If you asked him, having two kingdoms fighting so passively for decades was stupid and he would just declare war without blinking. Clearly, his kingdom was more violent and had more brutal force, so it would be an easy challenge. He was sure Seokjin and Jungkook would agree with the declaration of war, it was always faster.

The last time they actually had to think on a plan together, Jungkook was twelve. The king had left them in one of the remaining rebel lords’ properties to make it fall— some could say they were practicing for the future. Some lords had united, plotting to dethrone the king, and of course the successors weren’t agreeing. If the king wasn’t in charge, they couldn’t get the kingdom.

They weren't known as “the mighty successor of the king” yet, they were nobodies because they had spent years locked up training themselves to be kings, hence why it was so easy to pretend to be homeless bastards. While Jungkook and Jimin worked on getting close with the members of the house, Seokjin had managed to make a place in the lord’s right side, impressing him by all the knowledge the boy had at such a young age. It was a matter of months, but the three of them got what they wanted. 

The plan was rather… heartless. 

Knowing their ways into the house, they got a small place in the lords’ revolutions. And that was all it took. Getting information to not just break that individual lord’s life, but the whole rebels. They betrayed everyone they seemed to be close to, the daughter, sons, wives— everyone. In a blink, they sent the needed information back to the capital and the king was able to intercept the enemy troops by surprise. A successful ambush.

The night fell and Jimin decided to walk in the gardens. He just couldn’t find sleep. It was more usual than not, he already accepted long ago that peace wouldn’t be a word that could match his life— not even in his sleep.

Maybe getting Seokjin’s sleeping pills wouldn’t be a bad idea. After all, they at least helped each other when they needed to rest.

Luckily for him, he didn’t have to go back inside to find Seokjin. The older and Jungkook were already in the gardens, practicing combat, and Jungkook was already panting with Seokjin huffing mockingly, sure of his victory.

“Still as impatient as ever.” Jimin commented, loud enough to distract Seokjin, and giving Jungkook the perfect opportunity to throw a punch to his stomach. The older bended forwards, embracing his middle with both arms.

“You little menace.” He wheezed out much to the youngers amusement, holding onto one of the trees surrounding them. “Jimin, go to hell.” 

Rolling his eyes, Jimin went to Seokjin’s red silk robe, forgotten in one of the benches around the garden. The older started to carry the pills around when Jimin had started to have problems sleeping. Since the nightly meetings were usual, to beat up each other, it was convenient to have them always on him. 

“What will you do when you find a cute little someone to distract you? Give up the throne?” Jungkook mocked, shaking his head and dodging one of Seokjin’s punches.

“Will you, Jungkook-ah?” Jimin asked, taking a seat with the bottle of pills in his hand. “Love is a dangerous distraction.”

Jungkook snorted. “It’s not my fault that you two think love is useless. Unlike you boring grandpas, I think that it would make me stronger.”

“Such a romantic!” Seokjin rolled his eyes, patting his trousers in order to clean them from any dust. “Who would want to be with people like us, anyways?”

That made the youngest frown, and Jimin smiled seeing him annoyed. “Jungkook, you wish for too much. We are cold, manipulative and focused on getting the throne. Be careful, if you snooze—”

“You lose.” Seokjin opened his arms and threw them at the sky to dramatize.

“Keep being so afraid of falling in love, old people.” The younger shrugged, grabbing his black robe. “You’ll see, once you find someone, you’ll be doomed, and then I will take over while you two face your worst fear.”

“And what would that be?” Seokjin asked, raising an eyebrow.

Oh, the oldest might not know it, but Jimin was awfully aware of what the younger meant.

“Feelings.” Jungkook shrugged and went back inside after grabbing one pill that Jimin threw at him. 

Once he was out of sight, Seokjin cleared his throat and grabbed his robe, dusting it too and letting out a long sigh.

“I better be off.” 

Jimin bit his lip, one of the things they said still replaying in his mind. “Humor me, hyung.”

Seokjin raised an eyebrow at him, clearly surprised. He and Jimin didn’t have small talk because every time they tried to, they ended up fighting and pushing the other until they were seconds away from strangling each other.

“What if there’s someone out there for us?” Jimin asked, looking to the sky to avoid regretting speaking out his thoughts— between them, every information could be used against the other. But Seokjin, unlike Jungkook, already knew he was bothered by that specific matter, so there was nothing more to uncover.

“I don’t think there is.” Seokjin answered with a shrug, without hesitating and leaving one pill in Jimin’s hand.

Some things that Jimin remembered from the first months after they met: Jungkook used to be afraid of the dark, Jimin had nightmares and Seokjin was alway there to make them feel better, even if he knew their lives wouldn’t be as good as they had thought when they heard about the possibility to have royal lives.

Now it seemed like he wanted everything except to make them feel better.

Well, Seokjin seemed to have forgotten what life was about and, even if Jimin and Jungkook found a way to not get lost in their lifeless royal lives, the oldest was already far too gone. 

Sometimes, Jimin wondered if the oldest had turned into a robot. Cold and incapable of loving.

“What if there is?” He insisted when Seokjin was already walking back inside, playing with the bottle of pills.

“And drag someone to our lives?” He asked, waving goodbye with his hand. “Think about it, Jimin, how much cruelty would you be able to bring to your lover’s life?”

Groaning, Jimin bent forwards, covering his face with his hands.

Seokjin definitely knew how to make him want to scream.

Conflicts with the things he wanted were always a headache. The kingdom versus someone to share his life with…? Seokjin was right, maybe there wasn’t— couldn’t be someone for them.

The night came and went faster once he was able to fall asleep.

When the morning came, the three princes gathered in Seokjin’s room. It was the biggest room out of all three of theirs, and the oldest had enough space to prepare his room in order to have the two others occupied, since when they were bored they acted like energetic children. Hence, Seokjin had a big tv that he didn’t use but in which Jimin and Jungkook would play when there were no more ideas for their mission.

Like in that moment.

“Finally!” Jimin exclaimed, pushing Jungkook off the bed and making him yelp, but roll and stand up in less than two second with a pointy glare.

“It’s not my fault you suck at this game, stop pushing me around.”

Jimin snickered and looked back at Seokjin, who was looking outside the window with a frown. The oldest used to play with them when they were kids. The younger wondered if he could still beat their asses or if he had forgotten how to play. Knowing how he had changed, Jimin could bet on the second option.

Then, Jungkook gasped, going to the table on one side of the room, where they had documents and everything they were planning for their mission. They had to be out of their own kingdom by the day after or the king would drag them out.

“I have an idea.”

Seokjin finally looked inside the room, raising an eyebrow. “What is it?”

“Jimin mentioned his spy was caught because he was taken by the guards to the capital, right?”

At the mention of his former spy, Jimin scowled. “Yeah, the idiot said he was planning on staying in that kingdom and the next day, he was being dragged out of the hotel.”

“I thought it was because they knew he was a spy, but what if they just got lucky?”

Jimin got up from the bed and went to them, frowning and waiting for Jungkook to continue.

“What if that’s what the king does when someone wants to permanently settle there?”

It surely sounded logical, even if it also was something crazy to think of, because why would a king go to that length?

Seokjin scoffed. “You might be onto something, Kook-ah.”

“So, you’re saying that the old king talks personally with every single traveler that looks for settlement?” 

Jungkook nodded with a smile. “That’s how we get to the capital.”

“It’s the best we have.” Seokjin mumbled, getting his phone out. “I know how to go in, we’ll have to finish our plans once we are out of here.”

A knock on the door made Jimin tense up, holding onto the knife on his thigh and glancing at Seokjin and Jungkook. The oldest sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose, while the youngest frowned. 

“Calm down, don’t kill anyone." He mumbled, swatting his hand to the side. “I’ll get it.”

Jimin sighed, still holding onto the knife but relaxing his shoulders. 

They weren't used to someone calling for them, most people actually preferred to be as far as possible. Even if outside in the city everyone loved them, the ones inside were a bit more wary about being around them too much to avoid the king’s attention, since the man was, well, yeah, crazy. No one would be surprised if he asked for someone’s head after thinking they were planning his fall.

“What is it?” Jimin heard Seokjin asking, and he let go of the knife.

“The king has ordered for you to be in the car in five minutes, he wants you out as soon as possible so the mission can begin.”

When the oldest came back to them, he was frowning. 

“We don’t even have a plan settled, just ideas.” Jungkook huffed. “If I could, I would beat some sense into him. I know we are trained for this but he really is testing my nerves.”

They could get mostly anything done. When they started to go on missions they were too young, naive and inexperienced, hence why they made a lot of mistakes on the way. If they didn’t push their creativity, they would die— either that or the king would kill them if they fucked up a mission.

Jimin sighed, looking to the roof. “The old man will be the death of us.”

We briefly imagined the king’s face if Jungkook did punch him. If any of them did, really. It looked like he trusted them, sometimes. Other times it looked like they were just pawns for him to get whatever he wanted, not the successors to the throne. 

Most of the time, it felt like they could die and the king would just find someone else. 

“Well, if one of us dies...” Jungkook sighed, facing the window. “There would be two left.”

Seokjin scoffed. “Anyone would think you are a shy baby, what would they say if they knew you wish for your hyungs’ deaths, brat?”

There was a moment in their lives when Jimin really thought that any of them would be lying if they said stuff like that. Now, after all they had been through and that race for the throne they had going on, he wasn’t so sure. It was more likely that they would be the ones leading Jimin to his death.

“I don’t do that.” Jungkook shrugged, looking back with a frown. “You were the ones that left me in that forest when I was 14, weren’t you?”

Both Jimin and Seokjin groaned.

“You were the one that didn’t listen to us and got lost.” Jimin mumbled, turning to the door and making his way outside. “If you listened to us from time to time, things would be easier, Jungkook.”

“I doubt listening to any of you would be a wise choice, hyung.” Jungkook let out a scoffed laugh. “For my safety, you are the most dangerous people in this kingdom.”

Jimin looked back before completely leaving the room. Seokjin was looking at the documents on the table with a smirk, probably agreeing with Jungkook too. 

Well, at least that was something the three of them agreed on.

Between Seokjin, Jungkook and Jimin, the only threat that they truly had to be wary of was each other.

 

ᴷᴺᴶ

 

“Why are you so quiet today?”

Namjoon watched as Taehyung looked up, smiling slightly. “Hyung. Today is a beautiful day, I thought you would be out walking.”

The older hummed, sitting next to him and grabbing the photo album that the younger had in his hands, closing it with a heaviness settling in his heart.

He was walking through the city, but a bugging feeling on his chest was keeping him from enjoying his first free time he had in over a month. Like, how his brother was staying locked up in their home, dealing with royal social duties— or going over that album, again, while he just tried to enjoy a sunny day.

He used to go out with Taehyung by his side. That was a hundred times better.

“Maybe you could be enjoying it too if you were outside, Taehyungie.” He looked back at his brother, slightly smiling. "Maybe eat some of those disgusting caramel apples you die for."

The black haired, younger male smiled a little, slowly looking down at the book in Namjoon's lap, the older catching up on how his hands were slightly shaking as he intertwined them on his lap.

“What’s the point?" Taehyung asked, softly, before looking straight into his brother's eyes. "How can I when everyone looks at me with pity?”

Namjoon pursed his lips.

Their people kept looking at Taehyung like he was a lost puppy and even if they had tried to show them that the youngest Kim was alright —which he wasn't—, everything they did to help, ended up being useless. Eventually, even if Namjoon wasn’t fond of the idea of others looking at his brother like that and doing nothing, he couldn’t stand how broken his brother looked while asking him to stop, stop trying to lie to them, stop trying to show them I can be picked up and unbroken.

The older did believe that Taehyung would get better, but the younger didn’t. Helping Taehyung was harder if Taehyung didn’t want to help himself, it was as easy as that, but Namjoon understood that what had happened couldn’t be just erased.

“You just tell me who and I’ll kick their asses.”

At first, both looked back at the door with heavy glares. They weren't spending a lot of time together —and that annoyed them deeply— so naturally they wanted to be left alone for just a few minutes. 

Of course, their features relaxed when a male dressed in fancy black clothes and a shining winning smile walked in, two brand new phones in his hands.

“Hoseok.” Namjoon nodded in greeting, feeling Taehyung wiggling happily beside him. “I’d appreciate it, if we weren’t the ones ruling the kingdom.” 

Rolling his eyes, Hoseok left the phones on their laps. “And we, your guards, would appreciate it if you, my sires, could keep your phones close to you. You left it in your office, Taehyung's was in the garden— the garden, Namjoon, forgotten on the ground. That's why we bought these ones, they're indestructible. Wait till I tell Yoon-ah about—”

With a small gasp, Taehyung sat straighter, eyes and smile widening. “Is Yoongi-hyung back?” 

Namjoon shared an amused smile with his guard, enchanted by Taehyung’s excitement. There were few things that made the youngest that excited, Min Yoongi was one of them… only the heavens would know why.

The prince ran out of the library, almost tripping and squealing on his way out, but catching himself with the doorframe and then disappearing in search of his guard.

Namjoon looked down with a frown, tightly holding the album Taehyung had been previously eyeing.

“I’d love to burn it.” He mumbled. “He has enough dealing with the memories and the people around, these pictures aren’t helping.”

The guard gently took the book, shaking his head. “That would destroy a part of him that he’s still holding onto, you know that.”

“Father would know how to deal with it.”

“Every king rules its own kingdom, Namjoon.” Hoseok left the album in one of the bookshelves. “You are not your father, don’t think about what he could do, before he died he trusted you enough to give you everything you see.”

“I couldn’t even protect Taehyung, Hope. I couldn’t protect Kai.”

“You got him back, didn’t you?” Hoseok stood in front of him, frowning. Then, he pursed his lips. “Kai… It’s been almost a year, maybe that’s why he’s not going out.”

“A year.” Namjoon whispered, letting his head fall on the backrest of the couch. 

A knock on the door made him sigh, but he decided to let his friend go to it. 

Time flies when you try to deal with a reality that hurts more than getting a sword through you— and Namjoon was first handedly sure of it. The last year felt like a blur, the only moments he remembered after what happened with Taehyung and Kai, Taehyung’s protégé, were trying to get his brother out of his room, or to eat, or to talk, and it was so repetitive and painful, that it all mashed together in his timeline.

After a few seconds with Hoseok's low voice filling the room, the familiar sound of the teacups and cookware echoed in the room. Namjoon's mouth water. The door closed again soon after and Namjoon rubbed his eyes with his hands. 

Thinking about what happened seriously gave him a big need to cry.

“He’s too good to be suffering so silently, keeping all those feelings inside." He whispered, eyes scanning the paintings on the roof. "I’m scared that, one day, everything will make him combust.”

Hoseok hummed, serving some tea for him. The welcomed delicious smell hit Namjoon’s nose, making him feel a bit calmer.

“We’ll be there for him, there’s no way we’ll make the same mistakes twice. There’s no way we’ll let anything happen to any of you ever again.”

Jung Hoseok and Min Yoongi had been their guards since they were little, growing up training and in the line for that position until they could get it officially. Namjoon and Taehyung always enjoyed being witnesses of how their guards attracted so much attention because of it. 

People and royal friends were always curious about them, such skills and loyalty were rare to find. The Kims always joked about how both guards seemed to be a celebrity to everyone else, getting scowls in return from Yoongi and Hoseok. They didn’t like the spotlight, it made their work harder.

Both royals were extremely grateful to have them in their lives. No one knew all the things they had to go through together, how close those four actually were. They weren’t just guards and Namjoon and Taehyung weren’t just their rulers.

It went to a point where the guards knew the royals would do everything to keep Yoongi and Hoseok alive, even if that meant standing in front of imminent danger. That’s how they decided that the royals were a threat to themselves too, and the reason for them to personally make sure the guards’ teams were perfectly capable.

Namjoon smiled at the thought. That was not how it was supposed to work. He knew Taehyung and him were a bit too intense, but he really didn’t find a piece of himself that cared. They would lose it if anything happened to Yoongi and Hoseok.

“He forgot his phone.” Hoseok groaned loudly and exasperated, while taking the phone from the couch. “I swear, this kid really tests my—.”

The door opened slowly with a small creek, getting their attention. A few seconds passed with no one coming in and Namjoon smiled, finding Taehyung’s habits too endearing. Seconds later, the black mop of slightly curly hair popped in, peeking like Namjoon and Hoseok were dealing with very important matters he shouldn’t know about. 

The thought alone almost made Namjoon snort. As if they would keep something from Taehyung. One, they weren't good liars when it came to the youngest —terrible trait when they wanted to surprise him—, and second, they really didn't need to. Lies were the recipe for disaster.

“Come in, Taehyung-ah.”

Taehyung came in, his hands dragging along a man with dark sunglasses and an endeared smile playing on his lips. Blond hair, dressed similarly to Hoseok and a pillow under the arm that wasn’t caged by Taehyung.

“Admit it, I’m your favorite guard.” Yoongi shrugged, leaving the pillow on the table a few feet away from the couch and looking around the room. "You wouldn't go to greet Hoba, right?"

"Shut up." Hoseok grumbled, focused on getting tea for Taehyung. 

Now, Min Yoongi was very observant, he liked to know what was happening around him. 

The way the Kim brothers had concluded, Yoongi felt uneasy not knowing about something that was directly connected with Taehyung and Namjoon, even when sometimes knowing nothing couldn’t be helped. He put on himself to know as much as possible in order to keep them safe.

Going back two years, Yoongi used to familiarize with every place the royals went to, leaving Hoseok and the squad alone for fifteen minutes, personally getting to know every way in and out of those places. Of course, Taehyung now hated being alone in crowds and Namjoon was usually busy talking with those crowds, so Yoongi ended up enjoying being alongside Taehyung rather than leaving him, sending his subordinates to do the work of recon, twice every time to calm his senses.

“How is your father?” Namjoon stood up, flashing a dimple smile.

Yoongi’s smile grew while letting Taehyung drag him to the bookshelves. Namjoon was sure Taehyung could drag him around all day and he wouldn't complain. 

“He’s alright, very happy with Taehyung’s idea of the solar energy generator. He sends his thanks and congratulations on the project.”

Taehyung looked back at him, smiled quickly and nodded, before going back to fix his eyes on the shelves. 

Immediately, Yoongi frowned, looking back at Hoseok. Of course he would catch up with what was happening with Taehyung.

Namjoon always thought that Hoseok and Yoongi eye communication was scary, but a needed thing when they didn’t want Taehyung to feel uncomfortable around them. 

“Say, Taehyungie.” Yoongi called and Taehyung stopped his hand from going to grab a certain album again. “Why don’t we take a walk by the gardens? I haven’t been here for a week and Eunwoo drains my vital energy each time we go out.”

Taehyung frowned and looked down.

Namjoon could see the gears turning on his head, assessing his options. For one, the younger Kim loved to go on walks free from prying eyes, but then, there was the book the others wanted to keep him away from, at least just for a few hours.

“Fine. Leave the pillow.” 

Despite the scowl, Yoongi nodded, but before letting Taehyung drag him away, the blond extended his hand to Hoseok.

“He doesn’t have his phone, does he?”

Taehyung groaned, rolling his eyes and waving his hand dismissively, making Namjoon smile. At least he wasn’t the only one giving a difficult time to their guards with their phones.

“Useless.” The younger mumbled.

“Needed.” Yoongi shot back, taking the phone and clicking his tongue. “Lead the way, your majesty.”

Once they were out, Hoseok looked back at the photo album. “You’ll have to talk about it with him, eventually. He told you he wanted to talk it out, after all.”

Namjoon knew Taehyung wanted to talk about it, but, as Hoseok mentioned, it was something they didn’t know when would happen. Still, pushing it wouldn’t help, so they had been trying to get Taehyung back to a communicative state, to have him sharing time with them again after being locked up in his room for weeks and eating well after he was skipping meals and, in the beginning, panicking when strangers went a bit too close to him.

Their kingdom was beautiful as it was. Namjoon wished he had understood that before freaking out and asking for help from a person that would only give them suffering.

The photo album was filled with pictures from their early years until the beginning of last year. Months ago, Taehyung had mentioned how looking at his old self hurt, knowing that he was happy without limitations, one that everyone found easy to talk to so he could solve their problems— now, everyone was focused on what he went through, what he lost, like it was preventing him from helping. The personal conversations ended up turning into one-way letters describing their problems, ones that Taehyung read and tried to find solutions to from inside their home.

Namjoon loved their kingdom and its people, but sometimes he wanted to scream in front of everyone.

“We have to be patient. Forcing my little brother has never been a good idea, not before and surely not now.”

Hoseok nodded, taking a tablet from the table and passing it to the other. 

“We have news. Three guys had problems in the outskirts, the general said they are merchants from The Border and while they were selling in Tera they were attacked by people from our not so kind neighbor. They asked if they would be welcomed in Tera since everything they had was destroyed or robbed.”

The Border was the unclaimed land between their kingdom and the other, since originally it had been owned by some in-between lord. Some people lived there, less than ten families, mostly adults that could plant their own food since they weren’t dependent on any kingdom. And as long as Namjoon knew after sending guards to do get as much intel as possible from them, none had children in the last years, hence he concluded the merchants were old.

“Send guards to Tera, bring them here.”

Tera was the city from their kingdom closest to The Border. A vibrant city that welcomed those people living on their own in case they needed something. The people living outside the kingdom rarely visited and refused, despite Namjoon and Taehyung's several offers, to join their society.

"Your majesty." Hoseok nodded, bowing and getting his phone out while walking out of the room.

Namjoon looked at the tea on the table with a small frown.

Taehyung wouldn’t like the news and he probably would want to talk to the merchants as soon as possible to make sure they were alright, and to find a way of helping them now that they had lost everything. Namjoon, on the other hand, wanted to know who the merchants were and what they were expecting, he needed to be aware of every new citizen.

They only had one person coming into their kingdom during the last year, and it didn’t end well for them.

Like Hoseok said, they wouldn’t make the same mistakes.

Namjoon’s phone buzzed, startling him. He really needed to get used to it— even though he had had it for the last few years, he never really carried it.

"The refugees were sent an hour ago, Sehun took care of everything." Namjoon commented before nodding once. "Seems we'll be seeing them by dinner tonight, then."

Hoseok hummed. "Should I let Yoongi know?"

Namjoon shook his head, standing up while putting the phone in the pocket of his jeans. 

"I prefer to talk this out with Taehyung in person, while I talk with him you can talk with Yoongi— although it's probable that he already knows."

His guard snorted before bowing slightly, his hands moving to the side. 

"Your majesty, after you."

When they left the library, Namjoon was received with sweet smiles and polite greetings from the people that worked in the castle, all happy to see him. Seeing them happy made Namjoon feel at ease.

A kingdom wasn't the land it covered, after all. A kingdom, by the end of the day, was its people. It didn't make a difference if they were the biggest kingdom ever if the people were unhappy.

Like their neighbor kingdom.

A chill ran down Namjoon's spine at the thought of his dad's cousin's kingdom. It was a horrible place, he had personally welcomed refugees to the capital and their life's experience was just scary.

Most of them were just outside the premises of the castle’s state, where the city began, working like they were human beings and not slaves, living comfortably and not living day by day trying to survive. Namjoon liked to walk around their shops, the markets and the people, it made him feel normal and glad. Proud that, with Taehyung by his side, they were able to give their people happiness.

"... and maybe your dad can help us show the benefits of the new project, hyung. I think farmers aren't as excited with my green idea as they should be."

Namjoon smiled hearing Taehyung's voice coming from the greenhouse on the far side of the garden. 

"My dad loves you, Taehyung-ah." Yoongi chuckled. "He will be glad that he gets to help."

"Hyung, he loves you more."

"He's an angel, my chest hurts." Hoseok mumbled, shaking his head before knocking on the door. "Yoongi-ah, it is I— and our majesty, of course."

Taehyung chuckled while the door opened, showing an unimpressed Yoongi.

"What? Couldn't live without me, Hoba?"

Namjoon almost snorted, if it wasn't for Hoseok's eye roll. 

Those two were clearly onto something, but neither Namjoon nor Taehyung wanted to stop their natural affectionate process. Both were strong-minded guards, skilled as hell and the most caring guys the royals knew. Being the closest thing to a family they had, seeing them falling for each other was just too endearing to try and speed it up.

"Shut up, hyung." Taehyung sneered behind them.

Namjoon closed the door while Hoseok and Yoongi started bickering, seemingly blurring out Namjoon and Taehyung— the royal knew better than that, of course, they were sure the guards would be ready to attack however tried to harm them, even when they were busy bickering.

Taehyung was sitting on a metallic table under an open window that let a chilly breeze move inside the greenhouse. The younger had a portfolio on his hands, his glasses resting almost in the tip of his nose and his curls falling faintly on the side of his eyes.

His hair was getting long.

"Taehyungie, we're bringing some merchants that want to stay in our kingdom, they were attacked on the outskirts."

Immediately, the younger closed the portfolio with a frown attached to his expression.

"I'll have nurses and doctors ready." He said, ready to stand up.

Namjoon's heart squeezed at how much he knew Taehyung's kindness.

However, he grabbed his hands, keeping him on his seat. "Tae-ah, I need to know them first so we can offer them a place in our kingdom, alright?"

Taehyung froze and Namjoon smiled, trying to ease the younger into the realization. What had happened was mostly because of someone they didn’t know well enough, and even if Taehyung ended up too attached to that person, he knew it couldn’t happen again. He just got too caught up in his head, and wanting to help others, that often forgot.

"First, Hoseok and Yoongi will welcome them and make sure there is no physical threat for any of us. Then, we'll talk with them, try to get out of them as much as we can. Lastly, we put them in a trial period to test how they behave."

It was a bit obvious that Namjoon's paranoia had been fueled after what happened to Taehyung and Kai, but he could bring himself to care if he looked too crazy with safety measures. 

The grip on Namjoon's hands had lessened, and when the older closer, he realized Taehyung had spaced out.

Namjoon shook their hands a little, making him blink rapidly. "Tae." He called, smiling softly at him when the other scrunched his nose while blinking rapidly.

"You're right, hyung." He answered, sighing and then smiling. "After we tell them they'll be on trial and if they accept, then I can call the doctors?"

Namjoon nooded. "That's right."

The day ended up with the four of them staying together, until Hoseok and Namjoon had to leave to go back to royal duties in Namjoon's studio. An evening drowning in contracts, approvals, projects, reports, laws. He checked everything and then passed the important ones to Taehyung for a last approval.

They had been looked down several times for sharing the throne, but Namjoon honestly couldn't imagine the power all over his shoulders. None of them were greedy for power and both were happy with the arrangements they had. Besides, if someone tried to kill them —something that would be highly difficult, if Namjoon took the liberty to brag— it was almost impossible for them to die at the same time. The kingdom would find a way to prosper even after.

A frown grew on Namjoon's face when he read the document on the screen of his computer. 

"Hoseok." He called, mostly out of habit because Hoseok was sitting right in front of him, going over military reports on Namjoon's phone.

"Sire." The redhead looked up.

"Why am I seeing a notice about the dance academy closing?" 

Hoseok frowned as well, looking down at the phone when it dung signaling the arrival of the documents Namjoon just sent.

"This is nonsense." He muttered, eyes slowly starting to burn. "Why did the minister allow it without telling you?" 

Namjoon snorted. "They say it's unprofitable." 

"Taehyung is going to go bananas when he gets this." 

Taehyung would kill the minister, alright. 

The younger had personally followed the construction and classes of the academy five years back— it had been his first big project for the capital. The academy was a wonderful addition to the city, and after it was inaugurated dance groups started to show around town, sharing their art, while some had even gone to fairs and competitions around the kingdom.

"He didn't do it for profits, after all." Namjoon hummed, hands tracing his bottom lip. "I think I'll let him handle it, I kinda want to see the minister's face when our Taehyungie tries to punch him."

Hoseok snickered. "That will do, definitely." Ding! "Oh! Yoongi just texted me… they are here."

The merchants.

Namjoon and Hoseok walked together for a few more hallways until Hoseok broke apart to meet Yoongi, while Namjoon continued his way to the throne room.

When he went inside, Taehyung looked back from the window that faced the courtyard, a cardigan wrapped around him and his hair neatly styled, with his pijama under it. 

Of course, it was night already and Taehyung usually got really tired during the day, even more than Namjoon did. Some nights he didn’t sleep at all and then he slept too much— both tired him out by night time, so it wasn’t easy for Namjoon to know which one it was.

"They're three. Two tall ones, one smaller but still tall" He commented, a faint smile on his face. "They seem grumpy, hyung."

Grumpy , he said. It had been a while since Taehyung showed interest in someone— of course, he showed concern for his people, but now he seemed really curious.

Namjoon raised an eyebrow, amused, while following Taehyung's eyes to the courtyard, where some servants were passing by under the dim lights. 

"And why do you think that?" He asked.

"Because they were frowning and looking around like someone spitted on them. They did look bad, beaten up, and their clothes were barely keeping themselves knitted together. I told Yoongi to give them clothes."

The younger's right hand grabbed Namjoon's and squeezed. 

Namjoon's heart hurt at the gesture. He would erase all the things that reminded Taehyung of the last year if he could, but some things —most things— were out of his control. In that case, however, it not only made the younger feel anxious, but a bad sensation settled on Namjoon’s stomach. He couldn’t get out of his mind how Taehyung looked when they found him, the state he was in, the dirty clothes, the dried blood—

Namjoon swallowed. 

At least, the touch from either Yoongi, Hoseok or Namjoon was the younger’s way of feeling grounded, of knowing he was still there. Knowing he could help with even something so little made Namjoon feel a bit better. He promised to always be there for Taehyung, after all.

"It won't happen again, they are just looking for a new life." The other mumbled, shaking his head. "We haven't had new people around us for a long time, Namjoonie-hyung."

As the ones ruling the kingdom, both were aware they needed to be around people, of course, but they were very careful when it came to who they were with privately. The fact that not just one but three people were about to be in the same room as them was making Namjoon's muscles tense up. They usually didn’t need people being inside, they were very capable of dealing with everything without disrupting their privacy, and when they were meeting with the court or with the lords from different city districts, the meeting would take place in the middle of the city, not in their home.

"Do you want to stay here?" Namjoon asked. "Yoongi could let you know if they end up staying for trial."

Taehyung sighed, shaking his head. "As long as I'm with you I'll be fine, hyung."

Just then, both of their phones buzzed loudly, getting a scowl out of them.

“Seems they are ready.” Namjoon cleared his throat, pulling Taehyung by their intertwined hands and leading them to the throne, the only one at the end of the big wing of the mansion— after all, they weren’t fond of actually using that wing and the throne was the last thing the former king designed, so they were attached to it.

Before they could even get to the throne, the door opened, making Taehyung squeal in a whisper. With a chuckle, Namjoon turned around while letting go of Taehyung’s hand, both facing the group entering the room. 

Yoongi came heading the group while Hoseok was behind the merchants, both with a serious impassive expression settled on their faces, the result of years of dealing with the position as the royals’ guards. In the middle of the group were the three merchants, the tall ones by the side of the smaller one. 

“Sires, Kim Namjoon and Kim Taehyung.”

The guy in the middle had blond hair and piercing eyes, ones that almost sent a shiver down Namjoon’s back. He looked calm, so that gave Namjoon a peace of mind because most people that saw the two royals together would feel intimidated. That meant they probably weren’t even that often in their kingdom since they could look at Taehyung without pity, ill-intended curiosity nor judgment. 

On the guy’s sides, both males had black hair and small welcoming smiles. The one on the left side had a piercing on his eyebrow and soft features, while the one on the right side had a concerning amount of stiffness on his walk and general demeanor, almost military-like, but he didn’t look threatening. He looked like the oldest, Namjoon figured he probably had to carry the stress of taking care of the other two after their robbery, so Namjoon found it normal.

They had been given clothes to wear instead of the torn away clothes that Taehyung had mentioned, so all of them had black cargo pants, black shirts and black boots.

Taehyung let out a breathy chuckle. “They are merchants, not military.”

Namjoon hummed, assessing them. Maybe they looked more serious than they actually were because of the military clothes. Or maybe it was his paranoia kicking in.

“Sire, they are the ones involved in the Tera report.” Yoongi bowed slightly while some guards entered, all from Yoongi’s division. 

Seeing that the back of the group was guarded, Hoseok fast-walked forward, standing beside Yoongi and bowing too. It was a habit to act less friendly when they were on official moments.

“We gave them choices of clothing as you asked, sire.” Hoseok reported.

“Thank you, Hoseok.” Taehyung answered, smiling. “Now, please introduce our new visitors.”

Both guards nodded at the same time and Yoongi brushed his hand against Hoseok almost imperceptibly, but Namjoon had a good eye for detail, so his polite smile grew a little more. Little details .

After Yoongi's encouragement, Hoseok cleared his throat. He began the introduction from left to right.

“Jeon Jungkook, Park Jimin, Kim Seokjin.”

Namjoon looked each of them in the eyes, seeing a bit of confusion growing in them, something that confused him since, well, he didn’t see anything out of place. 

He looked at the younger for assistance, but frowned when instead of beside him, his eyes traveled back, finding Taehyung shuffling behind him. The older raised an eyebrow at the younger, who smiled sheepishly. 

“They are handsome.” He almost asked, in a very low whisper, like it was his reason to be hiding away behind the taller.

For the love of…

Ignoring Taehyung, Namjoon looked back at the merchants. “I’m terribly sorry you have to go through all this so late, I’m sure you have had a stressful day.”

The three of them looked a bit more confused now, and that feeling was growing with each passing second.

Taehyung’s curiosity won Namjoon’s, though.

“Why are you three looking at us like we are aliens?” The younger asked, making Yoongi and Hoseok frown and look back at the merchants. Both looked like they were ready to attack the merchants. 

“I’m terribly sorry, sires.” Kim Seokjin was the first one to speak, a nervous smile on display. “We didn’t mean to be rude staring, I guess we were nervous and prepared for… the king?”

Namjoon raised his eyebrow, sharing a glance with Hoseok. How could they not know about the king’s death? They knew the ones in The Border knew, news traveled fast around after there was a huge memorial in Tera, like in every city, at the same time one of the residents in The Border had to be admitted to their hospital.

“The king passed away some time ago.” Taehyung answered while Namjoon scanned the visitors, trying not to look too suspicious. “We lead this kingdom.”

The three merchants shared some glances before Jeon Jungkook took a small step forward, making Yoongi and Hoseok’s eyes fix on him. They were probably some inches away from jumping on the poor guy.

“Thank you, for letting us come here, we thought the thieves would get us before we even got to Tera.” Then, he looked over Taehyung. “And for a wonderful welcome, the clothes are great.”

Taehyung hummed, coming out from behind Namjoon. 

“Our pleasure, we just did what was fair, our neighbor is a bit too harsh.” Namjoon said, smiling. “We do whatever we can to make everyone, even if they aren’t from our kingdom, happy.”

Taehyung smiled, nodding. “We’re glad everyone is alive and alright.”

That’s when Namjoon’s eyes fell again on the oldest of them. Kim Seokjin was very openly staring at Taehyung. It was weird, since not a lot of people wanted to actually look at them for too long since they could look… a bit intimidating when they were in the throne room.

“My guards tell me you want to settle in our kingdom.” He tried projecting his voice to get their attention.

It worked, because now he was looking into Seokjin’s eyes, making the other frown after probably realizing he had been stared at.

“We do.” Park Jimin smiled. “We’re aware that this is unusual and we understand if there is curiosity over us. We are more than glad to make everything clear, your majesty.”

Well, then that made everything easier.

When Namjoon was about to speak, Taehyung walked away, getting his attention, along with Yoongi and Hoseok’s. It didn’t take long for Yoongi to be by his side. They were, after all, around unknown people, Namjoon should have known the younger would feel overwhelmed eventually, even more when he had been in the middle of the room, being the center of attention.

He smiled at Namjoon once Yoongi was by him, encouraging him to continue after he felt more comfortable. Just then Namjoon was able to turn his attention back to the other three, who were weirdly attentive of their interactions.

Their gazes started to make the protectiveness inside Namjoon jump and he frowned.

“You’ll have to gain your place here.” He walked closer to them, making Hoseok move closer. “We’ll have to know you and who you are. You stated your intention, you say you are looking for settlement, and we need to be sure you three don’t pose any threat against our kingdom.” and the against us went unspoken.

He stopped a good distance away from them, seeing as they seemed alright with that. 

They look too alright with it. Most of the time, people would freak out when they were told they would be under observation, even if they were innocent— being guarded and evaluated made everyone lose their cool.

But as Jimin said, they were already expecting to be questioned.

Huh.

“You’ll work in our state.” Namjoon let them know. “You’ll be around our people, close to our home, for some time. You can provide your skills to us.”

“A trial period.” Seokjin said, and Namjoon almost saw a smirk growing on his face.

Almost. But he shrugged it off when it turned into a gentle smile, realizing that maybe he was going a bit overboard with the prejudice before even meeting them.

“You aren’t forced to do it if you don’t agree with it.” Taehyung spoke, getting their attention. “We’ll provide you with enough to go back to The Border, because you won’t be allowed to stay.”

Jimin was the one shaking his head. “No, your majesty! We are honored to be given an opportunity to prove ourselves.”

Taehyung nodded, smiling and making his eyes turn into crescents. Then, he leaned on Yoongi, whispering in his ear, and then he looked at Namjoon. His eyes were a bit red.

The older smiled, nodding. “Good night, Taehyungie, I’ll let the doctors in when I decide over this.”

“Thank you, hyung.” He said, clearly relieved. He looked at the others while closing the cardigan over him just a little more. “I hope to see you around starting tomorrow, if you end up being allowed to stay then I’ll be personally tracking your progress with us, along with my brother.”

When Jimin was about to speak again, Seokjin beat him to it.

“It’ll be our pleasure, your highness.” He said with a big smile, bowing and being followed by the other two.

Namjoon bit his tongue when Taehyung started to walk towards the door behind the throne, Yoong holding the door open for him.

He wanted to have a superpower to measure Taehyung’s tiredness.

“Why haven’t we known about your existence?” He asked straightforwardly once the younger royal was out and Yoongi went back to Hoseok’s side.

The three of them jumped a little, clearly startled by the sudden question, and Namjoon smiled sheepishly. Okay, maybe he needed to calm down a bit. If he ended up scaring away the merchants, Taehyung would never forgive him.

“Have you been to The Border, your highness?” Jimin asked, curious eyes looking back at Namjoon.

“Our men have, we offered help and settlement some time ago, so we made a census on the people living there. None had children, nor teenagers, and not one mention of three young men that are said to be engaging in merchant activities in one of our cities.”

Jimin sighed, nodding. “We come from The Border, yes, but we weren’t born there.”

“We’re from the other kingdom.” Seokjin explained, making Namjoon’s heart skip a beat.

“We thought you would brand us because of it.” Jungkook scratched the back of his neck. “ Our parents died there when we were younger. Seokjin hyung was the one that took us away when the people that killed our fathers wanted to come from us.”

Namjoon looked back at Seokjin, who was looking at Jungkook with a frown. Just for a second, until he looked defeated and then looked back at Namjoon with shame clear on his face.

“I told them not to tell, it’s my fault. We had to live far away from the others living in The Border since they looked down on us based on where we are from. I didn’t want that happening here, we just want to leave it behind.”

Leaving behind something that other people used to look down on them. Yeah, that was exactly what Taehyung would have loved to do too, so Namjoon could understand why they kept it a secret.

Most of his questions were already answered with that. Why did they never hear of them? Check. Where did they live? Check. The rest of their family? Check.

“I understand that speaking up some secrets is a pain.” Namjoon tried to sound as accepting as possible so they didn’t feel bad or shy away after that. “So the trial period doesn’t have a specified number of months, it could be more or less from whatever we tell you. Thank you, for being honest, we will look into it.”

“Sire, if I may?” Yoongi asked, giving some steps forward. “Sire Taehyung had a question before he left.”

“Go ahead.”

The guard walked towards the merchants. Namjoon could see them wanting to react to a potentially dangerous man closing in on them, and the royal had to admire how composed they were behaving with all of what they were being put in front of.

“Why didn’t you come with our patrol when they went to offer settlement? Why stay?”

“Safety.” Jungkook blurted out, making Namjoon’s heart squeeze. “The unknown… we heard your kingdom is amazing, your highness, but, unknown people, unknown places… Seokjin hyung thought it was the safest choice and Jimin-hyung and I agree.”

They didn’t like unknown people.

Yoongi and Hoseok seemed to have caught on to the similarities between the three brothers and the Kim brothers, both looking back at Namjoon with troubled eyes.

Maybe there were too many similarities.

Sometimes the paranoia really tired out Namjoon. He wished he could relax just for a bit around other people, stop thinking about the worst outcome possible, stop being so damn anxious about anyone hurting them again.

“Well, that’s enough for tonight.” The royal cleared his throat, hiding his clenched hands on the pockets of his trousers. “You’ll use the side house, it’s behind the castle and it’s empty. It’s enough for four people, but you will be there without any of our people since we still don’t know who you are… Of course, that is if you want to stay under our trial period.”

Seokjin looked first to Jungkook, who smiled and nodded eagerly, and then to Jimin, who looked a little nervous, both nodded as well. 

Now, there was the nervousness Namjoon expected.

“We’ll go through the period of trial, your highness.”

Yoongi bowed at Namjoon and then left the room without a word, while Hoseok started to type away on his phone as quickly as he could.

“I’m delighted to hear that.” Namjoon nodded with a smile. “Now our doctor will check on you and decide if you need anything. Please, ask away if you feel like something about this bothers you, Taehyung and I will always be around to talk it out, but first let Hoseok and Yoongi know if you want to talk to us.”

“Thank you, your highness.” Jimin bowed with a smile. “We don’t know how to repay you.”

“Your truths will be more than enough.” 

Then, Yoongi came back inside with the castle’s doctor and one nurse. Both bowed and shortly after all of them were being escorted to the side house surrounded by Yoongi’s subordinates.

“I have people looking into whatever they can find about them, talking with the people in The Border.” Hoseok spoke up once the doors closed behind the group. 

“And my guys are ready to keep an eye on them.” Yoongi added.

Namjoon looked back at them before decking to get down from the throne’s side, more comfortable when he was standing beside them.

“Could you remind Taehyung to watch the recording of the meeting?” Namjoon asked, getting a quick nod. “Good. Keep the recording private and don’t let them go into the city just yet.”

“Right away.” Hoseok mumbled, typing away on his phone. “The cameras on the perimeter were checked and the staff has been informed about the trial too.”

“Efficient!” Namjoon chuckled, before gently squeezing both right shoulders. “Thank you. I’ll go to bed now. Yoongi, please make sure everything is alright with Taehyung and then, for the love of the heavens, please sleep. Both of you.”

Both smiled sheepishly, but nodded, and Namjoon knew they would do it. 

It relaxed him. Knowing Hoseok and Yoongi weren’t staying awake because of their duties.

“I’ll stay with him tonight.” Yoongi announced, looking back at Hoseok. “I need to be sure he won’t freak out after strange brothers appeared.”

Hoseok nodded with a big smile and glittering eyes. “You are such an amazing guard.”

Time to leave.

Namjoon whistled, walking backwards and looking everywhere except the royal guards. He felt like he was intruding when both looked at each other like that.

They were cute, though. 

Still, it overwhelmed Namjoon to no end the amount of adoration they held for each other. It was just so beautiful.  

“Good night, lovebirds.” He spoke while he crossed the door frame.

He needed to rest too. Prepare for whatever there was to come with the arrival of the three merchant brothers.

 

ᴶᴶᴷ

 

They were so beautifully fucked .

“Shit, shit, shit, shit.” Jungkook kept whispering, kicking the pillows on his bed.

It was early morning. After getting to the house assigned for them some minutes walking away from the palace, all of them went straight to bed without even sharing their thoughts about the stressful situation they found themselves in after the meeting last night with who they expected to be king.

There wasn’t even a rival king.

To make things bad, there were two.

And to make things even worse, they were two gorgeous brothers.

“We’re going to die.” He decided, puffing some air out to remove some bangs from his eyes. “This is our goodbyes, I never even got to try ice-cream, how sad is that?”

“Jungkook, I can hear you whining, stop freaking out alone and come here to freak out with us!” Seokjin yelled from the kitchen, making the youngest let out a yelled groan.

It was way too early for Seokjin to be that energetic.

He dragged his body out of bed —a really comfortable bed, for that matter— and patted to the kitchen, seeing Jimin sprawled over the kitchen island like a star. He looked just as done as Jungkook was feeling.

“We’re going to die.” He repeated, nodding. “I will let you in their hands and go back to our kingdom with honorable stories about brave Seokjin and courageous Jimin. Okay? Okay. Bye.”

Jimin sat up with a glare and Seokjin pointed at him with a knife covered in butter, making Jungkook almost laugh.

It was so easy to annoy them.

“We don’t have much of a choice.” Jimin said, laying down again. 

“We’ll get this done like we have done it before.” Seokjin crossed his arms, resting against the kitchen counter. “I don’t care if there’s two instead of one.”

“It doesn’t change our goal.” Jungkook nodded in agreement. “It just makes everything a lot harder.”

It wasn’t weird that princes were a lot less easier to deal with than kings. After all, the king was the head of a nation, it was just logical. 

But those kings worked together, were brothers, and had those stern looking guards that Jungkook briefly thought were robots like Seokjin. It would be challenging, but Jimin, Seokjin and Jungkook were trained for everything. 

And they weren’t people to back down from a challenge, anyway.

“We need to know more about them.” Seokjin cleared his throat, turning around. “And make ourselves useful for them, we have to stay right here in the palace grounds if we want to achieve our goal.”

Jungkook frowned, looking at his shoes. It felt weirdly like when he was just a kid, proving himself to the crazy king. It was something hard to do when the man was never satisfied with what they did, looking out of it and serious during all their lives in the palace.

“I hate pleasing kings.” Jimin mumbled, and scoffed right after. “I wonder just how hard to please those two will be.”

The three of them collected hobbies, so learning how to impress the two royals was the first task in hand.

Jungkook had a broad range of choice to make himself useful , but he knew every royal he had to deal with during his life expected a lot of different things from royal successors. He had come across people who expected him to know dance, others music, someone wanted him to duel with their strongest warriors, or even some expected him to paint like some famous artist when he was just around fifteen years old.

So he learned it all, like Jimin and Seokjin did, in order to wow everyone and gain more points for the king. They used their free time for it, and it took several years to finally get to a point where they could manage their own schedules, so they trained a lot and learned a lot more hobbies when they were older, overworking themselves continuously to make up for what they felt was lost time during their childhood— even though it really wasn’t, because they still had to learn how to be a good country leader.

Whatever they had to do didn’t change the fact that proving themselves was something Jungkook didn’t enjoy doing. He had been very glad when all of that was over, but after it started again in a kingdom he knew close to nothing about and he didn’t know if he should be bitter about it or just scream.

Seokjin scoffed. “We can’t go around showing we know a lot of stuff because, well, we aren’t supposed to have expertise in The Border.”

“And we don’t even know what they might need.” Jimin added. “We know nothing, I wonder just how far we will take this.”

“As far as we have to.” Jungkook shrugged. “I mean, as long as it gets us to stay living here and close to them.”

“We might target their emotions then.” Jimin sat up with a smirk. “They seem very humane and personal, like a king should look like.”

He did have a point. It looked like the royals were more concerned than anything else. First, about strangers. Then, once the supposedly merchants accepted their conditions, the kings were more concerned about their wellbeing, offering them clothes, a place to live, and using their personal doctor to treat them.

“The city looked thriving.” Seokjin commented, placing their breakfast in front of them, while Jimin moved out of place simultaneously. “I doubt we can help with anything there. They must have a dance institution since I saw a group dancing in the city center with the logo of one.”

“There I go.” Jimin quickly said, putting his hand up for a second. “I mean, I am the best at dancing, after all.”

Jungkook snorted, rolling his eyes. “Yeah, you wish.”

Jimin ignored him, and Seokjin just started eating without much reaction. 

Back home, Jungkook always wanted to make a lot of changes to their kingdom, from the city to the palace itself, everything could be better, improved, but he never really got a chance since the king was so wary about anyone having some control.

“Eventually we have to get closer to them, maybe more to Namjoon since he seems more present in everything related to the kingdom.” 

Jungkook thought Seokjin was thinking way ahead of himself, and that he actually thought that Taehyung was just as important if he was king, but he stopped himself.

“The guards are an issue.” Jimin scoffed, looking at Seokjin. “They remind me of you when we were younger. So stern!”

Seokjin rolled his eyes. “Maybe if you two weren’t a pain in the ass, I wouldn't have been.”

“Take responsibility for your own choices, hyung.” Jimin smirked. “We have always been the same, the only one ruining his own life and becoming a grumpy successor is you.”

That seemed to do the trick, because Jungkook could have sworn that he saw the metallic chopsticks almost bending. An excited knot started to form on the youngest’s stomach, but the images of someone finding the house completely destroyed by their fights made it disappear. That would ruin the mission.

Luckily, Seokjin thought the same. Of course he did.

“We won’t talk about being the king’s successors.” He said, leaving the breakfast half eaten and putting the plate beside the sink. “That will only make me beat you up and we don’t want that. Or maybe you don’t want to use your face to impress, is that what you mean, Jimin?”

There he was, the reality that hid behind Seokjin’s polite smiles and well-thought words. It seemed to be dormant since they arrived at the palace, but it finally woke up again. 

Jungkook would have paid for Seokjin’s threatening nature to go away, honestly.

Just when Jimin was turning red with anger and Jungkook was about to shout at them to stop, a pretty doorbell echoed in the first floor, making Jimin slightly choke on his words.

“From now on, no more successor talk.” He agreed, looking at Seokjin with a scowl. “You’re right, it’s only distracting.”

“No rudeness.” Jungkook added, putting his plate on the sink and frowning at Seokjin’s half full plate. “Even if you don’t like it, we have to act as brothers now.”

They stayed silent, but Jungkook knew they agreed. He knew that much about them.

They wouldn’t jeopardize the mission, even if they had to act nice with the other two.

Before opening the door, Jungkook put his ear against it, curious.

“... and then I’ll just go talk with that annoying minister, hyung.”

Well, well, well . It wasn’t Namjoon, like he was expecting.

Opening the door with a smile, Jungkook was welcomed by the sight of the younger royal brother. 

Kim Taehyung was looking incredibly, and clearly effortlessly, stunning . He looked brighter than the night before, rested, calm and happy. A big contrast for the first sight that Jungkook had in the morning— his hyungs.

Beside Taehyung, his royal guard, Yoongi, was looking at Jungkook like he was expecting the younger to jump on the king, and that made Jungkook smile even more.

Yoongi looked like he was another hyung to annoy.

“Your majesty.” Jungkook greeted with a small bow.

“Jungkook-ssi.” Taehyung bowed back with a smile. “How are you settling in?”

Jungkook moved aside for them to go inside, and Taehyung smiled gently before taking off his shoes and walking in. Yoongi wasn’t far behind, and Jungkook bowed as he passed beside him, making the guard raise his eyebrow slightly.

“I think I never knew what ‘sleep like a baby’ meant until last night, sire.” 

It was the truth. Jungkook decided to be truthful in the most general part of his life. If he started to lie all the time, the possibility of getting caught would have started to get bigger and bigger.

“I’m glad to hear that.” Taehyung said after chuckling a little, looking around the living room with glittering eyes. “This house is amazing, I used to live here, just for a while, but it was very comfortable.”

Yoongi cleared his throat, making Taehyung smile. 

“Your highness!” Jimin appeared in the living room, smiling widely and bowing. “What a good visit, how are you?”

“I’m good. Jungkook-ssi here was telling me you enjoy the house.”

“Definitely, thank you for everything, the food is really fresh.”

“And everything is really organized.” Seokjin commented, walking in with a smile. “It’s easier to cook when there’s everything I might think of, it’s amazing.”

“The kitchen was used a lot.” Taehyung provided. “I’m glad it can be used again, I think there’s more utensils than in the palace kitchen and we aren’t very good at cooking.”

They settled in the living room after some more simple conversation, Yoongi standing next to Taehyung’s chair and watching Jungkook, Jimin and Seokjin like a hawk.

Okay, Jungkook never had been observed before. Like a royal successor, no one really had to be observing him unless they wanted to look like they were a spy in the king’s eyes. And that only led to a long, probably pointless, interrogation.

Some minutes later, when Taehyung was explaining they could go to the gym that was in the palace, Yoongi leaned forward and whispered in his ear, making Taehyung scowl, but then he nodded a single time with determination. 

With a smile, he looked back at Seokjin.

“I came here to find a place for you three to work.”

Jimin slid forward in the couch the three ‘merchants’ were seated in and Jungkook could almost see him glowing.

“I saw a dance group when we passed through the city, is there a chance I can work with something related to dance? I like to think I’m good at it, and I was dancing before we had to flee from our home.”

The mention of them running away moved something on Taehyung, Jungkook could basically touch it with how clear it was. 

He had a big, beautiful heart. Jungkook almost felt pity for him, knowing how his hyung usually worked. While Jungkook didn’t play directly with someone’s heart when they needed to make someone fall, Seokjin and Jimin thought it was the easiest way to get things done. 

Jungkook always thought that was connected with them not wanting to focus too much on love, scared that someone might do to them what they did to others.

“Of course you can.” Taehyung talked steadily, normally, unaffected. It surprised Jungkook a bit, because he saw how affected he was.

Yeah, there was more of Taehyung than Seokjin and Jimin thought. While his hyungs were busy with their plans, Jungkook would have to try and find out the kings’ life before Jungkook, Jimin and Seokjin’s arrival. 

The people that worked in the kitchen were always a good idea to begin with. At least, in their own palace, Jungkook would always hear stuff from them when he was younger and the chefs weren’t behaving differently around him, treating him just like the kid he was.

“I have no idea how to help.” Jungkook blurted out, caught in his thoughts, and then swallowed, feeling his cheeks burning. “I’m sorry.”

Taehyung seemed delighted, for some reason Jungkook didn’t see, and Yoongi finally looked away, his eyes fixed on the window instead of the merchants.

“Our kingdom doesn’t need help, Jungkook-ah, don’t feel too pressured by it. I can assign you to something and if that doesn’t work, I can assign you to something else until we find what works”

“Then, what can we do?” Seokjin asked with a smile that Jungkook almost could have said that meant the oldest was endeared.

Taehyung changed position. With his elbow on his knee, he used his hand to hold his head high.

“Do you have any music knowledge?” 

Hell yes, that was perfect.

Jungkook smiled as big as he could, nodding. “Seokjin-hyung taught me piano and, eh, I used to sneak into the vocal rehearsing of the king’s successor.”

“Here you won’t have to do dangerous stuff.” Taehyung titled his head with a frown. “Do you think you can deal with younger ones?”

Hell no, that was a nightmare.

Jungkook made a panicked face and Taehyung laughed, much to the younger’s desperation.

“I know just where to put you, don’t worry.” Then, the royal turned to Seokjin. “You look like a fighter.”

Yoongi’s head snapped back at Taehyung with a frown, following his eyes and then frowning even more when he realized the comment was directed to Seokjin, who had genuinely surprised eyes, wide and funny.

Jungkook stifled a laugh, and Jimin chuckled while covering his mouth.

No one ever read Seokjin that fast.

Seokjin recovered quickly, glaring at the other two. 

“I was supposed to be in their guard when I got the news they were coming for us.” Seokjin cleared his throat, looking down. “I might not be of—”

“Help?” Taehyung completed for him with a smile. “I don’t mind, we’ll see how you work with them.”

Seokjin sighed, defeated. It was understandable. It was easy to keep up with their stories if no one had eyes on them like Yoongi did on Seokjin. Now that they knew the oldest knew how to fight, it would be harder for him to get anything done.

Well, boohoo for him. At least, Seokjin couldn’t rely much on his charms for their mission. 

Who said a mission wasn’t the time to learn something new? They were already there and, by the looks of it, they would be there a long time.

“Them, your highness?” Seokjin asked, a tint of panic on his voice.

“New recruits.” Taehyung smiled. “The three of you will be working with younger ones.”

Well…

That certainly managed to shut Jimin and Jungkook’s giggles.

They were absolutely not ready to deal with kids.