It’s almost midnight when Junghwa finds herself in an unfamiliar part of Seoul, far away from home.
She’d been tracking a robber that was currently giving the Major Crimes unit a headache, but had lost them a few hours ago. She stayed out after her partner called it quits, undeterred in her search, but now she’s wondering if she might as well go home. She’s tired, it’s late, and the robber has probably already crawled back into whatever nest they call home.
She stifles a yawn and looks around, frowning when she notices that there aren’t any taxis or people around. The street is deserted, which only makes sense when she considers that maybe this part of the city isn’t known for its nightlife. She wouldn’t know either way, never being one to go clubbing.
She resolves to walk around until she runs across a taxi. It’s bound to happen eventually, right?
The longer she walks, the more aware she becomes of her aching feet. She’s been on them all day with no respite. It wouldn’t hurt to take a little break, and rub them a bit before continuing.
Junghwa ducks into a nearby alleyway, the brick serving as a solid wall to lean against while she removes her shoes. She unlaces the first one, but before she can tug it off something catches her eye.
It’s a glint, or a flash, like light reflecting off a conducive surface. Junghwa frowns, straining to see through the shadows — until her eyes adjust, and horror washes over her.
There’s a man slumped a few feet further into the alleyway, across from Junghwa. The flash she saw earlier was the shine of blood, completely soaking his clothes and still slowly leaking out of his neck. He’s most definitely dead, judging from the blood loss alone, and Junghwa brings her hands up to cover her nose from the overwhelming metallic smell.
But before she can do anything else, the shadows move and the ghost of a man she thought was long dead steps into her line of sight.
“Good evening, Officer So,” Seo Moonjo greets calmly. “I always hoped we’d meet again.”
Ice shoots through Junghwa’s veins and freezes her in place, shocked and terrified at the evil she’s unwittingly crossed paths with a second time.
Moonjo’s gaze shifts off Junghwa to somewhere behind her, and he smiles. Junghwa moves her head, but doesn’t get to find out what else lurks in the dark.
Something heavy hits her head, and her world goes black.
Jongwoo helps Moonjo clean up the mess they made in the alleyway and scowls.
“How did she find us?” he asks. “We’re far away from Eunhye-dong.”
Moonjo throws her ruined phone into the trunk of their black BMW with the rest of the evidence and slams it shut. “I think it was a coincidence. She seemed very surprised to see me.”
Jongwoo glances at Officer So in the backseat and groans as Moonjo starts the car. He really hoped that he wouldn’t meet anyone from his old life. He doesn’t even like thinking about them, since they remind him of who he used to be.
“She’s always in the wrong place at the wrong time,” Jongwoo mutters. “What are we going to do?”
“Whatever you want to do, jagi,” Moonjo grins. “Luckily I know just the place to do it.”
Jongwoo’s not surprised when Moonjo drives them outside the city to the abandoned warehouse they’d started using for their shared hobby. It’s isolated and belongs to one of Moonjo’s fake identities, so there’s no danger in being discovered there. It’s proven to be quite the useful place, although Jongwoo still likes going out and hunting in the city. Like tonight.
Moonjo carries Officer So inside while Jongwoo grabs his knife and wipes it on his shirt. He leaves the rest of the evidence and the dead body in the trunk, they can deal with it later.
He follows Moonjo into the main room they have covered in plastic, and watches as his lover sets the nosy police officer on the ground and quickly restrains her hands and feet. He moves with the efficiency that comes from experience, and Jongwoo never gets tired of watching him.
When Moonjo finishes, he walks over to Jongwoo and kisses him on the cheek.
“Sorry tonight didn’t turn out as planned, jagiya,” he murmurs.
“It’s okay,” Jongwoo says. “With any luck, this will turn into a nice surprise.”
Moonjo smiles at him, and Jongwoo gives a small smile back. He is admittedly annoyed at the turn of events, but overall he’s still in a good mood from taking care of the serial rapist from earlier.
There’s a low groan as Officer So begins to stir, and Jongwoo walks forward to tower over her. He’s still holding the knife in his hand.
She groans a second time, then blinks and finally returns to consciousness. Jongwoo catches the exact moment she recognizes him, her eyes going wide in fear as she glances around and puts the pieces together.
“Hi,” Jongwoo says.
Officer So swallows. “Jongwoo-ssi… What is this?”
“You’re smart enough to know,” Jongwoo replies. “The real question is, how did you find us?”
She shakes her head. “I didn’t. I was out alone, tracking a suspect, and just happened to find you.”
Jongwoo nods, satisfied. “So nobody knows where you were?”
“My dad does,” she says slowly, eyes sliding over Jongwoo’s shoulder. “He’s a police officer too.”
“You’re a bad liar, Officer So,” Moonjo comments from behind.
Her eyes snap back to Jongwoo and she leans forward. “Jongwoo-ssi, I don’t know what he’s told you, but you can come back from this. Whatever you’ve done, we can fix it. I can help you.”
Jongwoo raises an eyebrow. “What makes you think I want your help?”
“You were recovering well in the hospital, but stopped returning my calls,” she says, ignoring his question. “Did he get to you? Did he convince you to come with him, and do horrible things?”
Moonjo lets out a soft laugh and Jongwoo narrows his eyes, hating the insinuations behind her words.
“He didn’t make me do anything,” Jongwoo replies shortly. “I’m happy now.”
“With him?” Officer So asks, biting her lip anxiously. “Jongwoo-ssi, he’s a serial killer. He’s not good for you.”
“I’ll decide what’s good for me,” he warns. “Besides, I suppose I’m a serial killer now too. We’re on equal footing.”
Officer So frowns deeply, obviously disturbed by his honesty.
“It’s not good,” she repeats. “Please, let me help you.”
“I don’t need your help,” Jongwoo dismisses.
“You have to see that this kind of relationship is toxic,” she pleads.
Jongwoo rolls his eyes. “What’s toxic is you trying to tell me what to do. I think you would agree that coercion is never healthy?”
Officer So blinks. “Yes, but… so is hurting others. Jongwoo-ssi, killing is wrong — ”
“I don’t give a flying fuck about your definitions of “right” and “wrong”, Officer So,” Jongwoo says bluntly. “I’m finally proud of myself, and that’s worth so much more than your illusion of morality.”
She opens her mouth again, but Jongwoo’s anger begins to take over and words spill out of his mouth.
“You know, I used to feel so much guilt and shame whenever I thought about how pretty a boy was, or when I had the urge to punch someone who insulted me,” he growls. “I wasted so many years drowning in the shame inspired from trying to do the “right thing”. But I ask you, how can something be right if it makes you feel like shit?”
She gulps. “The right thing isn’t always the easiest — ”
“I’m not talking about the easiest, I’m talking about what makes me happy.” he snarls. “Do you think killing someone is easy? Do you think it’s easy to push a knife through layers of muscle and fat until you get to the lethal spots? Do you think it’s easy to wrap your hands around their neck so hard and for so long that your knuckles start to ache?”
“Jongwoo-ssi — ”
“I’m not done,” he snaps.
He can hear Moonjo’s breath hitch from where he stands a few inches behind, the sound only adding fuel to the fire burning inside his body.
“Do you think it’s easy to bare yourself to someone completely, both emotionally and physically?” Jongwoo demands. “Do you think it’s easy to love so deeply that it aches?”
Officer So shakes her head miserably, giving up on words.
“It’s not easy at all,” Jongwoo says. “But it’s worth it. It brings me joy. And that happiness is the true reason for living.”
She starts crying, and Jongwoo’s face contorts in a mixture of rage and disgust.
“What did you think you were going to do, saying that bullshit to me?” Jongwoo asks. “Did you believe you could sway me to turn myself in? That I was only under his influence, and would snap out of it and turn on him when confronted?”
Moonjo comes up behind him and hugs him, wrapping his arms around Jongwoo’s waist and resting his head in the crook of Jongwoo’s neck. It’s possessive, but not the way Officer So may assume.
Moonjo is undeniably powerful, but Jongwoo’s the one that utterly owns his body, mind, and soul. He’s the one holding the leash.
“I have complete freedom to do whatever I want,” he tells her. “It’s not just in my head, either. I could never kill anyone again and Moonjo would kiss me and tell me okay. Have you ever had a love like that?”
Jongwoo tilts his head, feels Moonjo’s hair brush against his skin.
“I’m the one who decides to kill,” he says. “Because I want to. Because it feels good.”
He watches the anguish settle into Officer So’s eyes, the realization that she’s up against something she never imagined taking root and making her sob harder.
“Jagi,” Moonjo murmurs into his neck, arms tightening around his waist. “What do you want to do?”
Jongwoo considers. Holds the knife by his side and considers.
“I think she understands now,” Jongwoo decides. “You can kill her.”
Moonjo chuckles. “You want to watch me, jagi? Want to see my hands stained red with her blood? Want to see me drain the life from her eyes?”
“Yes,” Jongwoo confirms simply, because he no longer has any reason to be ashamed of the things he wants.
Moonjo presses a few kisses to his throat before reaching down and gently taking the knife from Jongwoo’s hand. Jongwoo lets it go and untangles himself from the taller man, already imagining the different ways they’d tangle together again later tonight, in their bed at home and desperate for each other.
“Jagiya… you’re my most beautiful masterpiece,” Moonjo says, probably for the thousandth time.
Even if it was the millionth time, Jongwoo wouldn’t get tired of hearing the words come out of Moonjo’s mouth. Every time, his dark eyes shine with love as he murmurs them like a prayer.
“I know,” Jongwoo smiles softly, tugging Moonjo down for a kiss.
A few years ago, he’d consider it a nightmare to kiss a man in front of someone he knew. It would be a dream if he kissed a man when they were alone, a dream that would’ve stayed in Jongwoo’s mind and brought him a day full of hot shame.
But now, things are different. He is different. He’s no longer ashamed of his feelings, desires, or actions. For better or for worse. Moonjo helped him be that way, helped him reach his full potential and live life the way it was meant to be experienced — wholly, and full of joy.
Moonjo kisses him one last time, a lingering press of their lips, then pulls away. Jongwoo watches him stalk toward Officer So, admiring his faint smirk and the way he grips the knife in his hand.
When Moonjo brings the knife down, Jongwoo watches and thinks that he wouldn’t trade his new life for anything.