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House of Cards

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Taehyung was usually woken up by the sound of some kind of alarm blaring. Whether it be an alarm clock beeping over and over until he slammed his hand down on it, or his phone buzzing and dancing along his side table from the vibrations as a preset alarm startled him awake. So when there came a loud and rather dull buzzing sound he found his eyes opening in surprise. For a second or two he was even going to reach up and feel for an alarm clock before he realised that he wasn’t lying in his own bed. The one in his apartment room, or even the one all the way across the city that was his actual bed. No, this was certainly another bed and he was so horribly disoriented that he couldn’t seem to figure out if he was awake or still dreaming somehow.

 

Taehyung found himself lying on his side and his head was mostly on a pillow. Underneath him, snug between the mattress and his neck was an arm. When he lifted his head to look he saw that it was Jungkook’s arm, noticeably paler than his or Jimin’s skin tones. The young man was as close to the middle of the bed as possible and his head was turned away from him so that he could only see the back of his hair. A rather untidy mess of black hair strewn on the pillow. His chest was rising and falling slowly and on his opposite side he could see Jimin. The other man was also lying up against Jungkook’s side, tangled up so that his arm was over his ribs and one of his legs was wrapped around his.

 

There was another loud buzz and that was enough to make Jungkook stir. He made a soft noise and then rolled his head back on the pillow before forcing his eyes open. He stared up at the ceiling mirror for a moment and then turned his head to look at him. Taehyung tried to hold his gaze even though his eyelids were much too heavy and they wanted to close on him. Jungkook’s expression was rather distant for a few seconds as he no doubt came to reality himself, and then he gave him something close to a tired smile.

 

“Guess I should answer the door…” Taehyung hadn’t even realised that he too had been wrapped around Jungkook, so when he shifted to let him sit up he had to move his legs too. No covers were over them, rather they were kicked right down to the bottom of the bed. He would have been embarrassed about his nakedness but all things considered he thought it was a bit silly to be so now.

 

“Mmm, wanna…sleep.” Jimin moved along the bed to get closer to him and then he was dragging him into something close to an embrace. Taehyung felt warm skin brushing against his and he had to swallow a sudden lump in his throat. God, the other man was just so warm and soft it was almost impossible to believe. The human equivalent of a pillow, his confused and foggy brain decided.

 

Jungkook crossed the suite and actually opened the door in his current naked state, clearly not at all fazed. He could have grabbed his trousers or any of the shirts on the floor and quickly shrugged them on but he hadn’t. Instead he just unlocked the door and pulled it back and from his distance Taehyung saw that it was none other than Woo on the other side of the door.

 

“Ahn Kangho was discovered dead this morning,” Woo explained in a rather crisp tone as he stepped inside the suite. Taehyung disentangled himself from Jimin to snatch the wrinkled bed covers and drag them over his body before he was seen. “His body was found mutilated in Seodaemun-gu, eyes and tongue missing. Died from a gunshot wound to the head. The parts were delivered express to his family home apparently. Unmarked vehicles. Either way, your father wants you at the funeral, Master Jeon.”

 

Taehyung felt rather stupid in his current woeful state of undress. This was Woo, the man that had saved his ass from Nam not that long ago. And here he was just a few feet away, as impeccably proper as always whilst he was hiding his naked body under a thin cover. Talk about professional member of Haedogje Pa. He could only wonder what he was thinking when he saw his eyes slide to study him from behind his glasses.

 

“There’s a funeral already?” Jungkook asked dumbly, trying to flatten his hair rather than cover up his nakedness. “It’s not even been a fucking day. Why a funeral?”

 

“Your father wants to keep this issue…under wraps so to speak, Master Jeon. There’s not going to be a police report on the matter, he wants this buried. Literally and figuratively.” Clearly this was Woo’s attempt at humour. “So a funeral is a wonderful way to do so.”

 

“Our schedules?”

 

“Currently on hold, as are quite a few Haedogje Pa associates. I would advise some coverage, Master Jeon,” Woo remarked. “You’re looking a little…tired this morning.”

 

Jungkook actually snorted laughter at this and then reached up rub at his no doubt sore nose. Taehyung’s own nose and throat felt horribly dry right now, likely the result of all of the cocaine. His tongue was heavy and somehow resembled carpet in his mouth, dry and stuck in place. Shit, now he thought about it his head also felt weird. A combination of a delayed hangover and a come down from the drugs, a dull throb like a headache right behind his eyes.

 

“When is the funeral, Woo?” Jungkook asked, clearly the most important question of them all.

 

“9am. It’s currently 8am and travelling will take you at least half an hour. So I would also advise that you get ready and leave as soon as possible. It’s not fashionable to show up to a funeral late.” Jungkook dismissed Woo and Taehyung caught him glancing at him one more time before he turned on his heel and left the suite. As soon as the door was shut the young man turned to look over at the bed.

 

“Babe, wake up we’ve got places to be.”

 

“Mmm…don’t wanna,” Jimin mumbled as he burrowed against Taehyung’s side just that little more. The covers rustled softly at his movement. To counter this Jungkook didn’t repeat himself. Rather he crossed the room to get to the bed and reached down to pull the covers off him. Then he grabbed him firmly by his upper arms and pulled him into a sitting-position even when he made a series of pathetic noises against this. “I’m tired…

 

“We’re all tired,” Jungkook retorted as he ran a hand through his tousled hair to flatten it for him. Taehyung saw that Jimin’s eyes were mostly closed, pretty lips slack because he really was half-asleep. “After what happened last night, I’m surprised anyone of us are alive. Never mind conscious,” Jungkook joked with a smirk. Taehyung silently agreed with this, muscles in his stomach and upper thighs aching. The very idea of getting out of the bed was something that he very much didn’t want to do. “But wake up, we have a funeral to attend.”

 

“…Fuck,” Jimin cursed as he forced his eyes open. Jungkook crossed the suite to disappear into one of the other ground-floor rooms and after a moment he heard a shower sounding, signalling that he was in a bathroom. Taehyung felt something rubbing against his shoulder and when a lock of hair brushed against his cheek he figured out that it was Jimin’s head.

 

“Uh, Jimin, don’t fall asleep again.”

 

“Not sleeping,” Jimin replied in a voice that sounded awake. For a few minutes the suite was silent save for the shower and then Taehyung felt something else touching him. This time it was Jimin reaching back with one hand to rub at his lower back. His palm was warm and soft as he traced concentric circles into his skin. “Tae, did you enjoy last night?” Taehyung really didn’t know what to say in regards to this question. After a lack of a reply Jimin laughed sweetly. “Of course you did. What a silly question.”

 

“Jimin, did you…did you enjoy last night?” Taehyung asked in a quiet voice, almost a whisper. At his words Jimin moved his head off his shoulder so that they could look at each other. But he kept his hand on his lower back.

 

“Of course I did, Tae,” Jimin replied with a smile, one that made his eyes wrinkle slightly.

 

“No I mean, did you enjoy it or did you enjoy it? ‘Cos you’re…y’know?” Taehyung paused and wet his lips and yet Jimin was looking at him without judging. “I wanted to know if-”

 

“If I faked it?” Jimin asked as he cocked his head. “I’m not a woman, Tae, I can’t fake my orgasms at will. And I wasn’t using drugs either, just a little champagne. No Viagra, I don’t use that, the other actors do. It was just you.”

 

For some reason this made Taehyung feel strange. Maybe a little proud in fact at the thought that Jimin had actually maintained orgasms because of him. And if that was the case then it also meant that Jungkook too had experienced much pleasure last night. Why that make him feel rather proud he didn’t really know. Taehyung supposed it was because it was his first true sexual experience, not like the blowjob he had given Jungkook in his apartment room. He thought that most people would feel proud of themselves after what had happened last night. He also supposed that he should say something to Jimin in reply and yet he had very little need to do so. Instead he just stayed silent and allowed Jimin to keep trailing his fingers along his lower back until the sound of the shower cut off and Jungkook was stepping back into the room, roughly drying at his hair with the towel. Taehyung noticed for the first time that there were quite a few little mottled pink and lightly bruised marks on his body, along his chest and upper arms, the curves of his shoulders and even one or two on his thighs. The result of sucking mouths and nibbling teeth. Which ones had he left behind, he wondered?

 

“Babe, you should have used the other bathroom. Get ready we’re going to have to leave soon.”

 

“Can’t I stay here?” Jimin asked. “You know I shouldn’t really be there. People will stare and not in a good way.”

 

“No, you’re coming. Ready. Now.” Jungkook almost snapped his fingers at him, clearly back into dominant mode once more. Last night had been a pleasant break from it, short but pleasant. “Taehyung, get cleaned up. There are guest toiletries inside a cupboard in the bathroom, under the sink. Then get dressed. One of the day suits should suffice. Be quick, we have a schedule to stick to.”

 

Jimin looked quite possibly morose at the idea of going to a funeral. Taehyung wondered why exactly the idea was enough to make his expression turn so dark, and so he asked him what was to matter in a quiet voice. Just in case it was unwise to ask such things in Jungkook’s presence. Perhaps there was a reason for it, a personal reason. The other man took a moment to reply to this, full lips still pouted out in that wonderfully spoilt manner. Then Jimin shifted his gaze to look at him.

 

“What’s the matter is that I fucking hate funerals,” he replied, before quickly adding. “Everyone is so miserable in them.”

 

Taehyung could vaguely recall the ground-floor suite bathroom from last night because he would have no doubt used it at some point. He had drank a lot of champagne. It was a massive room and he saw several things inside: a toilet and sink with gilded taps, an open shower on the wall. The tub was central to the room, a long rectangle like that of a swimming pool. Big enough to easily for several bodies inside. The walls looked like marble to his eyes, a lush cream with veins of gold running through it, and the floor was dark tiles that were smooth against his bare feet. He located the cupboard Jungkook had told him about to find several things within it. He was thankful when he saw the several toothbrushes were still in packaging: unused. So he grabbed some of the toiletries and placed them on the counter before proceeding to use the shower. Only a fast one to save pissing Jungkook off, but one in which he ensured to clean himself as thoroughly as he could. Washing away scale-like patches of dried cum from his skin was a pleasant experience, made him feel much cleaner. But Taehyung noticed mottled marks on his body too, and when he was washing his hair his scalp burnt in parts. Likely from being tugged on by Jungkook. When he was finished he grabbed a towel off a gilded bar set a few feet away and crossed the bathroom.

 

There was a mirror built into the wall above the long counter. On the counter he could see countless products he assumed belonged to Jimin but he had no way of telling for sure. As he hastily brushed his teeth he studied his reflection in the mirror. Taehyung was still sleepy so maybe that was the reason why, but looking at his face he almost felt that he wasn’t looking at the same person. This wasn’t the young man that had woken up for work every morning to coffee and stacks of files on his office desk. This was someone…different. Both him but not him at the same time, an alter ego.

 

The old Kim Taehyung didn’t have hollow eyes and a crust of dried blood stuck around his nose from snorting cocaine.

 

Taehyung reached up to touch this and then he turned the tap on and splashed water on his lower face to try and clean it free. Then he patted his face dry roughly, wiping away any slight blobs of toothpaste from his mouth. It didn’t really matter if he was different now, did it? After all, Namjoon had told him that he was going to have to pretend. Wasn’t this all just one great game of pretend?

 

He stepped back into the main area of the suite to see a fully clothed Jungkook and Jimin sitting on the chaise lounge. Not too far away he sighted the wooden and silk screen on which his suits were still hanging. It was going to be fun changing into one with his still damp hair but he had no choice. So Taehyung selected the first all black day suit and hastily got dressed into it. No underwear, he had to settle for slipping into the suit trousers and nothing else. The sensation was strange and he wondered why the hell Jungkook did this before a quick thought came to mind.

 

Ease of access.

 

Now that he was dressed and he had located his loafers by the door Taehyung turned to look at the two other men. Jungkook had his hair swept off his face so that Jimin could hastily blend something into his skin, something he assumed was makeup. It was light and rather runny in consistency, but Jimin worked quickly because he no doubt had experience.

 

“The curse of coke binges,” Jungkook muttered as the other man’s fingers lightly danced along the bridge of his nose. “Is looking like a bloated corpse the next day and pissing your father off when he looks at you.”

 

“That’s why I don’t take that shit,” Jimin said as he smoothed the last of the liquid onto his cheeks and then grabbed a brush. “But Tae looks fine this morning.”

 

“He snorted about five lines less than me that’s why,” Jungkook argued as the fluffy brush batted around his face. Taehyung had to admit that he certainly looked less tired and drained than he had a moment ago, more colour to his skin like usual. When Jimin was finished he placed the brush down and then pinched both of his cheeks hard between his fingers and thumbs. Jungkook made a rather indignant noise at this, for it no doubt hurt for a second or two before he let go.

 

“There, the picture of health,” Jimin remarked sarcastically, two bright pink patches of colour left behind on his pinched cheeks. “Tae?”

 

“No uh, no thanks,” Taehyung mumbled as he reached up to try and flatten his messy hair. “Coffee usually makes me feel alive.”

 

“Babe,” Jungkook patted his thigh and so Jimin shifted to get to his feet and off his lap. “Sadly that will need to wait until after the funeral.” It was strange seeing him in all-black for once rather than having a white shirt peeking out from underneath his jacket. It was a funeral after all. Even Jimin was wearing as much black as possible though he could see the white collar and cuffs of a shirt sticking out from under his woolen coat. Black plaid with a collar of its own and even a hat on his head. “Which we sadly must leave to go to.”

 

Riding in the back of the Mitsubishi with Jimin in the middle seat between them was a strange experience. Mostly because Taehyung had started associating the car with business discussions, yet there were no discussions to be held currently. Rather the car was as silent as possible save for the rumbling engine and Jimin lightly humming under his breath as he played with the cuffs of his shirt almost constantly.

 

“Stop doing that you will ruin the cuffs,” Jungkook remarked before studying his face. Judging from what Taehyung could see Jimin looked uncomfortable. He didn’t know why but he did. “What? Are you nervous?”

 

“Your father’s going to be there,” Jimin said in a quiet voice. “Of course I’m fucking nervous, darling. Talk about a stupid question.”

 

Shit…

 

“My father has much more important issues to worry about than who walks into that church with me,” Jungkook retorted and yet the other man kept fidgeting without rest. “Trust me, babe.”

 

“You can say that, but it’s not going to change the fact that he’s going to stare and everyone will stare and-”

 

“Because you’re so beautiful.”

 

Jungkook, you know that’s not true. You know why they’re going to stare so don’t-”

 

Jungkook reached out with one hand to grab at his, to stop him from worrying at his shirt cuffs. Taehyung saw how firm his grip was, fingers seizing hold tightly. It was enough to make Jimin stop bumbling as he intertwined their fingers together. His expression also showed something close to relief as he let his breath out in a soft sigh.

 

Trust me,” Jungkook repeated and it seemed like Jimin decided to do so for he stayed silent and still for the rest of the journey. When the vehicle was pulling up outside a rather large church with a gothic-look to it Taehyung opened the door, stepping outside and holding it for the two other men. He saw a massive stretch of vehicles taking up both sides of the street up all along the length of the block. Clearly the space had been reserved for Jungkook and he spotted Jeon’s Ssangyong parked right in front of them.

 

Taehyung had watched and had heard the dialogue in the car but hadn’t really taken it all in. He had been playing over what Jimin had said in his mind, about Jungkook’s father being present at the funeral. Jeon himself was going to be in the building that he was going to step into in just a minute and he really didn’t know what to think about that. He had been trying to sort it all out but he had failed to so and his only current thought was absolute sheer terror and nothing more than that. The leader of Haedogje Pa was going to be in that church, breathing the same air as him. Namjoon hadn’t told him about this part of the plan, hadn’t told him about the possibilities of meeting Jeon. It was enough to make his skin turn rather cold at the thought. But he had no choice because Jungkook was crossing the sidewalk to go up the set of stone steps to go inside and he had to follow. So Taehyung slammed the door shut and almost jogged after him and Jimin to enter the church.

 

The building was massive and filled with black-clad bodies. Taehyung saw a lofty ceiling much like the hotel and the main area of the church was divided into two halves of long benches. There were a few smaller doors on the sides of the areas that he didn’t have a clue of the purpose of and the altar was right at the front. There were fonts placed near the doors and yet both Jungkook and Jimin ignored them and instead crossed the main aisle without a word. Taehyung had to follow along after them rather stupidly until Jungkook stopped at a bench and gestured for him and Jimin to sit. So he moved to sit on the bench first, leaving enough room for the two other men. Jungkook turned around to go to another bench a few feet away and when Taehyung looked over he saw a quick flash of a woman’s face before she was embracing Jungkook. He didn’t know who she was but judging from the man right beside her she was Jungkook’s mother.

 

Jeon was right there on that fucking bench, in a pressed suit looking as every bit as intimidating as possible. Short hair cut short and styled to the side, face severe in an aged handsome way he supposed, Taehyung could see some resemblance between his face and Jungkook. But he looked away quickly without much study for fear of being seen staring at the man.

 

“He knows you’re there,” Jimin said in a quiet voice. “Doesn’t matter if you look at him or not, he knows everything.”

 

How fucking terrifying.

 

Taehyung had never been to church before in his life. He didn’t know when he was supposed to stand up but seen as Jungkook and Jimin didn’t bother he decided to stay seated too. On the end of the bench Jungkook looked bored to death, eyes burning into the crucifix of a tortured-looking Jesus on the wall and his lips pouted out softly. Jimin just studied his nails in turn or scuffed his shoes on the genuflection rest set for people to kneel on when praying. The priest seemed to drone on for hours and hours when in reality he knew that it was minutes. The heady scent of incense made his already aching head feel strange and he had to fight to stay awake in the warmth of the building. But also because he could see Jeon just to the side of the bench they were sitting on and he didn’t want the man to look at him and decide he hated him. If Jungkook had men murdered for pissing him off he thought it was highly likely that his father would have men murdered because he disliked them. As it was he was about to risk another quick glance at the man when he saw movement out the corner of his eye.

 

“Come, Taehyung.” Jungkook got to his feet, hand out to grab his elbow and pull him upright too. “Time to pay our respects.”

 

Taehyung was firmly pulled along the length of altar bench to the centre aisle, knocking against Jimin’s knees as he stepped out. The thought of approaching that coffin was enough to make his heart jump up into his throat. Enough to almost choke him. He didn’t want to pay respects to the dead man, the man he had fucking murdered. The coffin might just be closed right now but there was this horrible thought at the back of his mind, one that seemed to say that it wouldn’t stay closed for long. Hell, Taehyung was almost convinced that the moment he stood on the slight altar that the lid would go up. Might even be knocked free from the force of it being shoved from the inside. Then Kangho would sit up, like fucking Dracula himself, to point right at him. Even with his hollowed out eyes he would stare right at him and lift one arm so that he could point. His mouth would open and that bloody stump of a tongue would wriggle and yet somehow, some fucking way he would manage to say the words.

 

Murderer! ” Deep rasping voice, almost a lisp because of his severed tongue. “ That son of a bitch murdered me!

 

The thought was so strong that Taehyung could almost hear it ringing in his head. When Jungkook let go of his elbow and started walking up the aisle he was scared that his legs would give in. It was a horrible moment of lightheadedness, wobbly legs and all. But then he managed to take a few steps and follow him up the aisle to the altar step. No, unlike Taehyung’s fear the coffin lid did not fly upward to allow Kangho to try and grab at him. To point at him and try and scream through his ruined mouth that he was the one, he was the filthy murderer that had butchered him. Instead he was able to pass it on Jungkook’s heel and run his eyes over the lacquered dark wood.

 

“Rest in peace, Kangho,” Jungkook said in a soft voice.

 

“More like pieces,” Taehyung muttered under his breath.

 

“Yes, in pieces too. You were a good man, once. But you were also a meddling asshole. Let sleeping dogs lie was clearly not an idiom you subscribed to.” Jungkook actually reached out to run his fingers along the dark wood slowly. Then he patted it thrice. “Lesson learnt, old man.”

 

Taehyung eyed the coffin for a moment, the wood and Jungkook’s fingers in turn. There was very little to say to the dead man now, except maybe a hypocritical apology. “ Sorry I murdered you, brother ”, yes a very fitting thing to say. So he just held his tongue and then he was stepping off the slight altar step to follow along after the younger man. A moment later he felt Jungkook’s hand moving to settle on his waist. Maybe in the guise of steering him back to the right bench, but Taehyung could see so many pairs of eyes staring at them in the aisles as they passed. There was no need to guide him for Jimin was still sitting there looking so very bored and miserable with his hands folded on his knee. Taehyung shifted to sit back down on the bench and Jimin moved along to his seat so that he didn’t have to climb over his legs again. The wood creaked slightly as they sat down and Taehyung became painfully aware of how quiet the church actually was. Beside the occasional sobbing and whispered attempts at comfort, clothing rustling and shoe soles lightly squeaking on the wooden flooring as people got up to pay respects, the building was eerily quiet.

 

He hated it.

 

“Closed casket treatment,” Jungkook whispered down his ear, breath warmth and ticklish. “What a shame, I would have loved to have seen his face.”

 

Taehyung still could when he closed his eyes, a flash of that horror film monster face every single time he blinked. Maybe Jungkook would like to see that, and maybe he would take his wish back with regret once laying eyes on Kangho’s mutilated head. But he doubted that he would. He knew that Jungkook really would love it.

 

“Why didn’t you pay respects?” Taehyung asked as he leaned close to Jimin, not wanting to draw too much attention to himself. Jimin turned his head ever so slightly to look at him and his lips lifted in a rather sweet fashion.

 

“Oh, Tae, a whore in a church. Don’t you find that funny? I’m surprised I didn’t burst into flames the second I stepped inside the building. All of that sinning and all.”

 

“Babe,” Jungkook said suddenly, voice not even a hushed whisper. “I’m cold, sit on my lap.” Jimin didn’t excuse himself but rather gave him a look as got up and hastily squeezed around his legs to get to Jungkook. Taehyung felt Jungkook’s knee brushing against his so moved along the bench slightly to allow him to open his legs wider. Jimin didn’t even blink as he moved to sit on his left thigh, back to the aisle and the other half of the procession. The position allowed Jungkook to put his hand on his thigh and stroke his fingers along the material of his trousers.

 

The way the priest stared at them from the pulpit whilst he continued with his sermon was enough to have Taehyung gnawing down on his lip. If looks could kill there would be three more coffins on the altar just for them. He almost thought that he should sit on Jungkook’s other thigh too, just to make the glares feel worth it. But he didn’t. Taehyung just kept his head down and stared at his clasped hands until the funeral was over and they could respectfully leave. No going over to other people to talk, no approaching his father, just getting up and leaving the church.

 

Climbing into the back of the car Taehyung sank down into the leather with a relieved noise. His shoulders and jaw were nearly aching from clenching them so tightly, and his head was still hurting. As soon as they got back to the apartment block he could eat and maybe take a nap before doing whatever Jungkook requested of him. Likely just check over and update files now that Ahn was no longer present to figure out what that would do to his district. Woo had said that they had no schedule today because of the funeral. So he just settled into the seat beside Jimin and tried to not think whilst the car to transported them across the capital.

 

“Yang, can you see that car in the rear-view mirror?” Jungkook asked, bringing him out his near doze with his words. “The silver one?”

 

“Yes, Master Jeon, I’ve seen it for quite some time now.”

 

“Ah yes, we’re being tailed just like I thought,” Jungkook announced before shifting in his seat. “Pull over.” The chauffeur said something in agreement before the car was smoothly twisting to pull up at the side of the street. A rather nice-looking street, the view outside that of a café in which quite a decent amount of people were visible. A glance at the rear-view mirror showed him that a car he also just slowly pulled up against the curb at the end of the street. The sight of it was enough to make Taehyung feel a strange sensation in the pit of his stomach. He knew that car, the silver Daewoo. He knew it and when the door popped open and someone climbed out he realised why.

 

Hoseok had just climbed out of the car and he was moving to enter the café just beside them. Not once did he look over at their vehicle as he did, rather he looked calm and collected as he stepped inside. Taehyung tracked his movements like a hawk, trying his very hardest to not look too shocked by his sudden appearance. Had Hoseok tailed them because he was keeping an eye on The Boy like always? Was this all just some fucked up coincidence, or had Hoseok tailed them because he was in the car? To see what the hell he was doing to report back to Namjoon?

 

“That man had been tailing us all the way from the church. I’ve been watching the rear-view mirror. He might let a street get between us but he’s still been following us the entire time. Fifteen solid minutes now, I’ve timed it since I noticed it. I think he might be a police officer.” Jungkook looked away from the window to look out the front window and then he started laughing softly under his breath.

 

“I thought…I thought that Woo said that your father didn’t want police getting involved?” Taehyung asked in a quiet voice, a squeak of a voice in fact. He was straining so hard to get to his words out that he wondered if Jungkook had any idea what he was going through right now. His tightly knotted stomach and erratic heartbeat.

 

“He didn’t, but that man isn’t acting upon the Ahn case. He’s tailing us for another reason.” When Jungkook paused and look over at him Taehyung almost felt his heart stop in his chest, never mind beat erratically. “Someone’s clearly paid him to get them information on the side. Could be one of a few men, but it doesn’t matter who hired him. What matters is making an example of him.”

 

“You…you want me to shoot him?” Taehyung asked him in a breathless wheeze. The gun in the armpit holster seemed like an anchor, dragging him down with the weight of the Cz75. He twisted back to look out of the window to see Hoseok stepping back out of the café with a coffee to sit at one of the outside tables. It was clearly to make him look inconspicuous, for he most certainly couldn’t be tailing them if he had just settled down at the café. He would have stayed in his car instead to follow them as soon as they started driving again.

 

“No, I don’t want you to shoot him. There’s a knife hidden under the seat. Get it out, I want you to use that instead,” Jungkook explained curtly, as if this order was absolutely nothing.

 

“Master Jeon, you just said that he was police,” Taehyung said as he twisted to look out the back window. “Should I really kill a-a-a police officer in broad fucking daylight?”

 

“Not kill, just injure him,” Jungkook corrected. In the middle seat between them both Jimin had yet to say a word. He was just still and silent, and so very hard to read. Had he ever witnessed violence at the behest of Jungkook’s hands, or was he too sheltered from all of that to physically see it? “To let whoever he’s working for know that you don’t tail me for information.”

 

Taehyung studied him for a moment before realising that he had no choice in the matter. This was a direct order from Jungkook and he couldn’t say no. He had murdered Ahn last night and had been of assistance in the deaths and mutilations of two other men. If he started refusing to do this then his cover might just be compromised. Sure, the excuse that it was in public and it was a suspected police officer sounded like good things to voice concerns about, but Taehyung knew that he couldn’t do that. Jungkook shifted to stick his hand under the seat they were sitting on, no doubt finding a hidden compartment under the plush leather. Then he was pulling out another standard flick knife to offer him. Just like the one that he had used on Kangho.

 

“Three or so stabs to the stomach should be enough,” he said as he held the weapon out to him, hand hovering just in front of Jimin. Taehyung reached over to accept with a shaking hand and it went inside his trouser pocket. Then he asked if any of them had a cigarette that he could use. It turned out that the chauffeur did though he clearly didn’t smoke inside because the leather seating didn’t have the ghost of tobacco trapped in it. So he got one out of the packet and accepted a lighter from him and he quickly climbed out of the car, using the smoke break as a valid excuse to get out.

 

Taehyung lit the cigarette, cupping his hand around the end as he did so before shoving the lighter in his left pocket. Just so he had a clear way to grab the knife from his right. He took a drag on the end and breathed it out his nose in a hard sigh as he looked over at Hoseok sitting at the table a few feet away. Did his teammate have any idea what he was going to do? Did he know that he was going to have to stab him to prove a point? He knew that the answer was no, and he also knew something else. After this, this brutal attack, he was never going to be able to look the other man in the eyes. All of the horrors that he had committed so far meant nothing to the team, but this was one horror too far.

 

This was personal.

 

This was like stabbing his own brother.

 

Taehyung knew that this little fake smoking act wasn’t going to work for long. That was made him stroll up to the bin in the act of tossing the butt. Except he didn’t. He went right over to the café table that Hoseok was sitting at and he brought one leg up quick so that he could kick out hard and knock the table over. The piece of furniture was knocked flying, colliding with another and causing two females sitting at it to almost fall out of their chairs. Taehyung grabbed Hoseok and pulled him out of his chair by one arm, reaching into his pocket to grab the knife with the other. As he flicked it open with his thumb he seized the other man’s shoulder to get a firm grip and Hoseok didn’t even attempt to fight free because he was clearly too shocked to even notice the weapon in his hand. The other man couldn’t even manage to ask him what the fuck was going on before he thrust forward with the knife right below his ribs.

 

Taehyung wished that he didn’t see the way that Hoseok’s eyes opened wide from the impact of the blade sinking into his stomach. He wished that he didn’t look into his eyes and see complete confusion in their dark depths. But he had to look because he needed him to see that it was him , Taehyung. His teammate. This was all part of the plan, wasn’t it? This was the perfect way to keep his ass safe in Haedogje Pa…right?

 

More than anything else, Taehyung wished that he could open his mouth and tell him that he was so fucking sorry but he couldn’t do that.

 

Men might just scream when castrated, when their teeth were removed and eyes plucked right out of their skulls…but they didn’t scream when they were stabbed in the gut. In fact Hoseok didn’t do much more than let his breath out in a rather shocked grunt as Taehyung pulled the knife free and proceeded to plunge it into him two more times. It was quick and fast, all over in the space of just a few seconds. Then he shoved his shoulder hard to knock him backwards. Unsurprisingly Hoseok tripped over the chair and landed on his ass with a jarring thud to the sound of the women and the customers inside the café screaming in horror. Taehyung turned on his heel and he saw that Jimin had already opened the door for him, so he climbed back inside and slammed the door shut. It sounded like a gunshot and instantly muffled the screams from outside.

 

He twisted to look out of the window at the café front. One of the women had a phone pressed to her head and she was frantically talking down the line, presumably to an ambulance operator. The other was on the floor beside Hoseok trying to help, pressing her hands down over his to attempt to staunch the flow of blood. The blood that could see was soaking into the front of Hoseok’s work shirt. Then the car was smoothly pulling away from the curb and into the road and the view disappeared from his sight. Taehyung looked over at the two other men with wide eyes, shaking with the knife still gripped tightly in his hand.

 

“Hmm, would you look at that?” Jungkook remarked as he stared as the flick knife blade. “Pig blood is red, just like human blood.”

 

Jimin slowly moved to take hold of his wrist, the one holding the knife. With his other hand he reached inside his coat pocket and he pulled a white silken handkerchief out. Then he proceeded to pull the weapon free and wipe the blade and handle clean before handing it to Jungkook. Once that was done he focused on cleaning the blood from his hand for him.

 

Taehyung had just stabbed his own teammate. Hoseok had taught him how to work a firearm, had participated in a three month-long workout routine to help him get in shape and toughen up. The man that was now lying bleeding out on the street outside a café was a man he had seen almost every day of the week for near two years now. Had shared stupid stories and coffee and even food with, had helped co-ordinate armed police raids with, had…

 

He had to bite down on his lip to stop a whine from escaping. Jimin was still carefully wiping blood off his fingers with that same tenderness. The silken handkerchief was so soft but also tacky with gore. He realised that every other time he had helped kill or injure a man he had worn gloves, had had a thick layer of leather between himself and the blood. But not today. Today he had gotten Hoseok’s blood all over his hand and he knew that the scent would linger on his skin all day long.

 

 

 

 

 

It had been so long since Namjoon had been in a hospital that he felt very strange. The doors opened up to show him a white entrance area, gleaming counters and glass, and he had to take a moment to look over it. He supposed that he was rather numb right now, numb with shock and confusion. He saw a few people sitting around the perimeters of the area on benches and a dozen or so nurses moving around the area. He sighted the reception desk and decided that he should go over and find out what the hell was going on. As he stopped at the counter the nurse looked up at him.

 

“Hello?”

 

“Hello, I’m here to check on a patient. Jung, Jung Hoseok,” he explained as he pulled the wallet free and quickly flashed it at the nurse. She glanced at it and then back at his face. “He was admitted this morning, was stabbed in the streets.”

 

“Yes, hang on.” The woman turned to a machine beside her and she hastily hit a few buttons and started typing. Namjoon put his wallet away and spared another glance across the entrance area. The nurse told him that Hoseok was allowed visitors and then proceeded to give him the wing that he was on. Namjoon noted that it wasn’t ICU and that was a very good sign. Of course he wouldn’t be in ICU, it was just a stabbing. He knew a little about that too. “If you follow the signs you should have no trouble Inspector, but if you require directions just ask a nurse.”

 

“OK, thank you.”

 

Namjoon went around the counter in the direction of the right wing. There was a sign on the wall telling him to turn all electronic devices off and so he stopped to pull both phones free: his personal phone and his tapped phone. He hoped that Taehyung wouldn’t try and contact him whilst he was in the hospital or the call wouldn’t come through. Namjoon shoved both phones into his trouser pockets and then he carried on walking along the wing. After some navigating he managed to locate the room that the nurse had told him. He paused for a few seconds outside of the room to try and collect himself and then he stepped inside.

 

Hoseok was lying in the hospital bed, propped up ever so slightly on a stack of pillows. He was awake rather than unconscious, staring up at the ceiling with a hard to read expression. The light blue sheets were pulled up to his ribs and Namjoon could see several tubes in the back of his arm and inner elbow, hooked up to a machine and an IV drip. It was a private room so at least he could talk to him without worry.

 

“Hey,” Namjoon said as he stayed close to the door. “Hey, brother, how are you?”

 

“What a stupid fucking question, Namjoon,” Hoseok muttered without looking over at him. His voice sounded weary and a look at his face showed so too. The other man looked quite frankly exhausted. “I feel like shit.” Namjoon moved to get closer to the bed, doing so slowly as he looked at his colleague.

 

“Damn, Hoseok, what the hell happened?”

 

“What happened was he fucking stabbed me!” Hoseok shouted at him, as if that wasn’t rather obvious, actually sitting upright in bed as he did. “Three fucking times in the stomach and I-”

 

“Whoa whoa, don’t-” Namjoon reached out to push him back down against the stack of pillows, “don’t move right now, brother, you’ll just make it all worse.”

 

“Can’t really get much worse than this, man,” Hoseok muttered, jaw clenched from the pain of his sudden movement. Namjoon could see a light sheen of sweat on his brow. “Four years…four years working this desk and not once have I been shot in a raid, shot by Haedogje Pa, injured in any way. And then Tae…Tae comes along and he fucking-” Hoseok’s voice cracked at this and he reached up with one shaking arm to place his hand on his brow. There was a wetness to his eyes that hadn’t been there a moment ago. “He fucking stabbed me, Namjoon.”

 

“I know, I know he did. That’s why I wanted to know what happened,” Namjoon said in a quiet voice.

 

“I was following him from the funeral,” Hoseok explained in a quiet voice. “Ahn Kangho, his funeral was this morning and I was watching the procession from a distance. When I saw The Boy leaving I noticed that Tae was with him, Tae and another man I didn’t recognise. So I followed their car, I shouldn’t have but I just felt like I had to. We both know that The Boy had Ahn murdered. I didn’t expect to see him at the funeral but he showed up.” He paused for a few seconds. “Makes sense, the murderer always shows up at the scene of the crime and sometimes the funerals too.”

 

“They knew you were following them?” Namjoon asked him. Hoseok nodded and said that he had been careless, that he had slipped up.

 

“I stopped and entered a café and was planning on letting them go. I had no need to follow after them. That was when Tae stepped out the car and jumped me.”

 

“You know why he did it?”

 

“Yeah, ‘cos The Boy told him to do it,” Hoseok said in a low voice. Namjoon asked him how certain he was that Ahn had been murdered by The Boy. “Certain enough, severe mutilation before death from what I heard. I know you know more, even with the case being so hush hush. Ahn was murdered. Now I doubt that only one person would want him dead but that level of brutality…doesn’t it remind you of Nam?” Namjoon didn’t say a thing at this because he knew that his colleague knew that it was the truth. “I was canvassing the church like always, like I canvas all buildings. Hoping to see the regulars, keep tabs fresh. I didn’t expect to see The Boy or Tae. I’ll admit it man, I fucked up. Got careless.”

 

“No, you didn’t know, brother,” Namjoon disagreed as he reached out and put a hand on his shoulder. Have him an attempt at a comforting squeeze. “It wasn’t careless, you didn’t have a clue. None of us did.”

 

“Shit, Namjoon, I just keep thinking…if he’ll go far enough to stab me then what else’s Tae gonna do? What else has he already done ?”

 

“I don’t know,” Namjoon said with a rather useless shrug, shoving his hands into his trouser pockets. “I don’t know what Taehyung’s doing right now. He’s out of my hands. The minute he entered Haedogje Pa he was out of my hands. But I do know this. I know that when I infiltrated I had to do some shit, some crazy shit that didn’t seem to make any sense at the time. But it all worked out in the end. What Taehyung’s doing right now, it’s his own plan. So we just need to stay away and let him follow through with it. Play with fire-”

 

“And you’ll get burnt, yeah,” Hoseok nodded with a wry smile. “Yeah I can relate that sentiment.”

 

“What’s the diagnosis?”

 

“Uh…shallow wounds. Got some stitches, transfusion for blood loss. Think I’ll be discharged in a couple of days. I’ll be out of action for a week or two but I can still do desk work and interviews. Stab wounds aren’t gonna slow me down, man.” Hoseok shook his head. “I gotta stay on top of this.”

 

“Yes you do, but you can do that just fine whilst resting,” Namjoon agreed. The other man made a soft noise at this and then the hospital room fell silent for moment. Silent save for the beeping of machinery and squeaking wheels on the linoleum flooring of the corridors. “Look, Hoseok, I’m sorry.” At his words Hoseok looked up from his lap to hold his gaze. His expression looked both confused and surprised. “If anyone should have gotten hurt it was me.”

 

“No, that’s not right. You shouldn’t-

 

“I shouldn’t have dragged you all into this too I-”

 

“Hey hey, whoa,” Hoseok interrupted, holding a hand up to effectively silence him. “We’re a team yeah? All of us. We all agreed to take part in this. When someone gets hurt-”

 

“It’s the leader’s responsibility.”

 

“Namjoon, this isn’t a college presentation this is real life, real danger, real shit. I knew that when I agreed, hell I knew that when I signed onto this fucking desk yeah?” Hoseok settled back against the pillows and he let his breath out in a heavy sigh. “This was a warning sign. Like you said about playing with fire. We’ve learnt our lesson, no more playing around with Haedogje Pa. Let’s leave that to the professionals like Tae.”

 

“…Alright.”

 

“You know why Ahn’s death isn’t a pending investigation?” Hoseok asked, switching the topic smoothly. “I tried looking into it but I just hit red tape.”

 

“Jeon buried it, just like everything else he wants hidden away. Didn’t happen in Yongsan-gu, we’ve got no rights to go snooping around,” Namjoon explained. Hoseok asked him why Jeon would do that something like that. “If you bury it away it means you can deal with the matter yourself, outside the law if you know what I mean?”

 

“But we’re certain The Boy did this, right?”

 

“Of course he did.”

 

“So…so what the hell’s he gonna do? He’s not gonna punish his own son for this. You think he’ll just let it slide?”

 

“Not sure, Jeon’s not a petty man but he lost an important man. He might just decide that he needs to take action. So let’s just hope that Taehyung had nothing to do with it. Or that The Boy likes him enough to shield his ass.”

 

“Shit man, a simple murder then it I guess…well, it wouldn’t be OK, you know? The idea of Tae murdering a man seems fucking impossible to me but if it was a clean kill I could…could understand it but what happened to Ahn. What I heard, he was tortured. You really think that Tae could torture another man like that?”

 

“When your life depends on something Hoseok, you would be surprised at the kind of shit you would do. Not even because there’s a gun pointed at the back of your head. Oftentimes it’s invisible. The Sword of Damocles, hanging right over your head just waiting to drop. I think that Taehyung could do those things.”

 

“For the sake of his cover?”

 

“To stay on The Boy’s good side as well as maintain his cover. You saw his note, he swore fealty to him.”

 

“Namjoon…” Hoseok paused for a moment as if thinking his words over. “Have you thought it over a little more, about the chances of Tae being dependent on The Boy? Of maybe mistakenly thinking he’s in love with him?” Namjoon quietly told him that he was trying to not think about it. “I’ve thought about it. At first I thought it was pretty fucking stupid. Tae’s a professional he’s not some stupid drama character but the more I think about it…the more I start to worry.”

 

“Worry?”

 

“The Boy’s got power, money, influence, looks. Probably got charm falling out of his ass too. It’s not hard to think that Tae might find some attraction in that, even if just superficial. Do you think The Boy’s interest in Tae really could be sexual?”

 

“I think there are sexual undertones underpinning the entire relationship they have right now. The Boy is known for his sexual proclivity.”

 

“Yeah pretty sure we all know he likes ass, Namjoon, but that’s not what I meant. Just ‘cos he likes it doesn’t mean he likes Tae’s.”

 

“Why do you want to know?”

 

“I’m scared that any possible sexual attraction might evolve into something else, that mutually exclusive fucking might turn into mutually exclusive partnerships and next thing you know we’ve got a man inside Haedogje Pa with too much power for our liking and no way of controlling him. I don’t wanna think that Tae would fuck us over like that but you said it yourself Namjoon: he swore fealty to him.”

 

“…I don’t think Taehyung will do that,” Namjoon replied after a moment of contemplation. “I know him, I picked him myself.” Hoseok held his eyes steady and he could see that he didn’t look wholly convinced.

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung had been staring at his own reflection in the ceiling mirror for what felt like an eternity. He didn’t know why exactly because it wasn’t like it was something interesting to watch. He wasn’t moving, wasn’t doing much more than blinking and breathing and yet he couldn’t seem to take his eyes off his reflection. He guessed that right now he was feeling one of two things: overwhelming shock or abject guilt. Probably a combination of them both. After all, shock was only one side of the coin. He had to feel the guilt too though that was a strange sensation. The first few times he had helped Jungkook mutilate and murder he hadn’t felt guilt or not exactly. Just fear. Fear of inflicting pain and fear of being punished for it. But not guilt. Now however, because of Hoseok he was feeling guilty as sin and it was not a feeling he liked.

 

Where was Hoseok right now? In a hospital room, hooked up to various machines with countless little stitches in his stomach? Was he conscious and in pain, or unconscious from surgery? He knew that he wouldn’t have died from his wounds. Too shallow, much too shallow. But he would need a blood transfusion and stitches, that much was certain. And lots of drugs of course. Hoseok would get to feel blissful numbness just like what cocaine made him feel, minus the rush of energy. Wherever Hoseok was he wasn’t supposed to be there. He should have been at his department desk just like always and yet…

 

The door opened without much warning and he turned his head on the pillow to see that it was Jungkook entering. Of course it was, after all hadn’t he said that he could come and go at will seen as he owned the building? So he just watched the younger man walking across the apartment room until he was sitting down on the edge of the bed just beside his knees. Taehyung didn’t say a word and instead just studied him silently. There were many reasons why he might have entered the room but until he opened his mouth and starting speaking Taehyung had no way of telling why.

 

After a few seconds of silence Jungkook shifted slowly to lie on the bed beside him, doing so in a way almost as if he didn’t want to startle him. The way that Taehyung currently felt a bomb going off wouldn’t have startled him. After a few seconds the younger man was lying on the bed beside him, on his side so that he could look at him. Jungkook reached out with one hand to place it on the side of his face and then he turned his head to look at him. As he did he leaned closer to him, so close in fact that their foreheads were touching and Taehyung could feel his breath on his skin and his mouth almost on his.

 

“You’ve been such a good boy,” Jungkook said in a soft whisper, lips brushing against his. “There isn’t a man in Haedogje Pa more loyal than you, Taehyung.” Taehyung lifted his gaze from his mouth to hold his gaze and he wondered if Jungkook was telling him the truth or if he was just praising him for the sake of it. Praising him so that he could wrap him that much tighter around his little finger. Yet it didn’t really matter to him right now. What mattered was that Jungkook’s fingers were trailing along his jaw, feather soft, and his words creating a dual sensation inside of him. His chest and stomach seemed to have bloomed with warmth at the mere mention of him being good.

 

“Thank you, Jungkook-”

 

“No, thank you,” Jungkook spoke over him, fingers still trailing along his jaw. He didn’t look away from his face once, holding his eyes with that same unparalleled confidence. “Look at how many messes you’ve cleaned up for me already. I’ve had Woo following me around for months and you know what? One mess cleaned up a week if I’m lucky. So much paperwork and talking and useless shit but with you by my side…” His thumb shifted up along to his cheek and softly stroked his skin. “Three dead men, four examples. I’m cleaning this fucking cesspool out to make it pure again, and you’re my right hand man, Taehyung.”

 

“I’m just…just doing my job, Jungkook.”

 

“If I had found you sooner…” The younger man paused for a moment. “Oh, just imagine what we would have achieved by now. So many useless fuckers gone, so many more loyal ones to replace them. No loss in profits.” Jungkook’s lips lifted up at the corners and he felt the movement against his own mouth. “Out with the old, in with the new, mmm?”

 

When Jungkook purred Taehyung felt the most pressing urge to kiss him. He didn’t know if he should attempt such a thing without Jungkook’s express permission but he couldn’t shake the feeling. Wasn’t that why Jungkook had moved so close to him in the first place? Wasn’t it because he was going to kiss him? Or was he just teasing him?

 

“Imagine our achievements,” Jungkook repeated as he cupped his cheek with his palm. “But imagine your rewards too, Taehyung. Imagine what you could have experienced.” Taehyung had to drop his eyes to look at his lips again because he couldn’t hold his gaze. It was too strong, withering almost. “What you did for me today, Taehyung, that was good. You didn’t ask questions, you just did what I asked. Sure I have goons to do that work for me but it’s not the same. I want a man that can do that and more; just like me.”

 

“What’d you mean, Jungkook?”

 

“I want a man that knows Haedogje Pa business better than anyone else. I want a man that can also take care of business for me when I need him to, that can assist me. Woo doesn’t do that. Woo doesn’t get blood on his hands but you do. More importantly I want a man that will do exactly what I say because he’s loyal.” Jungkook shifted so that their faces were that much closer, touching. Every breath that Taehyung exhaled he seemed to inhale. “That’s you, Taehyung. I want you .”

 

Jungkook’s lips pressed against his with a tenderness that was rather surprising. Considering everything, what had happened the previous night he hadn’t expected this: gentle touches and kisses. Yet after a few seconds Jungkook was deepening the kiss, turning his head into it so that he could open his lips with his tongue and explore his mouth. Taehyung reached up to touch the back of the younger man’s hand with his fingers, following the bumps of his knuckles down to his wrist.

 

“I don’t just fuck anyone, Taehyung,” Jungkook said as he stopped kissing him for a moment, breath against his lips. “Only men worthy of attention can touch me like that and you’re one of those men. I would let you inside me, Taehyung-”

 

“Juh-Jungkook, I-”

 

“You would fuck me so good, Taehyung, I know that you would,” Jungkook breathed the words out, uneven and almost a soft moan before kissing him again. This was more rougher than the first kiss, almost hungry in a way. His hand trailed around to his hair and Taehyung felt his fingers tangling in it, just as his tongue seemed to tangle around his. The space on the mattress between them seemed to shrink as Jungkook moved closer to him, bodies pressed together. When he broke the kiss to catch his breath he planted kisses along his cheek to his neck.

 

“Do you want me, Taehyung?” he asked, lips on his throat, chin brushing against his shirt collar.

 

“I…I do, Jungkook I do but-” his words were cut off once again by Jungkook’s mouth pressing against his. It took Taehyung great resistance to stop him and break the kiss, moving his face away and knocking his palm free from his cheek. “I still have work to do.” He rolled his head back to look at the ceiling mirror rather than at him. Jungkook propped his weight up onto one elbow, head on his palm and he looked at him in a mixture of curiosity and frustration. Then he asked him if he had been looking over the files and the database. “I have, I looked into a few people.”

 

“And?”

 

“Ahn’s death is a massive blow to Haedogje Pa right now but he needed to go,” Taehyung said with a soft shrug, shoulder brushing against the younger man’s chest. “Your father will have to scrabble to replace him but I’m sure that he has a man. The question here is…will the man he pick be loyal to you? Will he be loyal and safe or will he be just another Ahn, a man plotting to overthrow his wishes as soon as his back is turned?”

 

“The name that you gave me?” Jungkook asked as he slowly wrapped a lock of his own hair around his index finger. “Is that man in anyway linked to Ahn? Can he in anyway be a replacement?”

 

“I’m not sure, I need to do more research. I…I want to go and see him.” Taehyung paused, searching his brain for a few seconds to remember the right name. “Seokjin, the man from the casino in Songpa-gu.”

 

“Why do you want to see him?” Jungkook asked him, brow furrowing ever so slightly as he looked down at him.

 

“To follow up on info that Ahn have me, about the names,” he clarified. “I want him to tell me what he can on the two names I was given so I can get a head start. I need more info than what our databases have, Jungkook.”

 

For a moment Jungkook didn’t say a word, just continued studying him. Taehyung went from looking at them in the mirror to glancing back at the younger man. He wondered if maybe he was wrong to ask to see Seokjin, if perhaps that wasn’t allowed. But then Jungkook shifted to sit up and fixed his shirt. Then he told him to inform the man on the entrance desk and a private car would escort him there. He would also contact Seokjin and arrange a meeting for him. Taehyung watched him climb off the bed to cross the room and as he got to the door Jungkook spared a glance back over his shoulder at him. He saw the smirk as he pulled the door open and left the apartment room. The door clicked loudly and Taehyung stared at it for a moment. Then he guessed that he should really get his ass in gear. So he grabbed his suit jacket and slipped into his shoes, empty holster still strapped up around his rib and shoulder.

 

Taehyung rode down to the ground-floor in the elevator and went over to the desk. Dongjun was there like always and after some back and forth he was informed that a car had left the apartment pool and was outside for him. So he left the building and saw a black car pulled up at the curb, which he climbed into. He gave directions to the man inside, pulling the street name out from memory and then he sank down into the seat and closed his eyes. He was so tired, drained and sore from last night and also because of the incident with Hoseok earlier. He felt like he really needed to nap but he was a little too scared to do so. Yet the journey to Songpa-gu took some time and he ended up drifting off in the backseat. When he next opened his eyes he glanced out the window to see that they were almost at their destination. The sky outside was starting to darken, late afternoon soon turning into evening hours. It took a few more minutes until the driver stopped the car outside the grey block building.

 

Taehyung got out and slammed the door shut, hastily fixing his suit jacket as he crossed the curb to push the revolving door and enter the casino. The woman on the desk was the same as the other day.

 

“Kim? On behalf of Master Jeon?” He confirmed that it was the case and she went to duck under the counter. So he rapidly told her that he knew where to go. “Oh, OK then please step inside.” Taehyung went around the counter and through the door to get into the back, pushing the curtain aside. Just like he expected the room was still packed full of workers. Casinos didn’t sleep of course, especially not online casinos. He walked the length of the room to get to Seokjin’s office door and stopped in front of it. Taehyung decided to be courteous and he knocked on it rather than just let himself in.

 

Yes, enter.

 

Taehyung pushed the door open and stepped inside the room. Seokjin was sitting at his desk, clearly in the midst of crunching numbers. There were two computer monitors switched on to his side and he was hitting buttons on a large calculator and scrawling sums in a book. When he closed the door the man looked up at him, eyes curious behind his glasses.

 

“Oh yes, you’re Kim. I should have expected you,” Seokjin said as he put the pen down and reached up to push his glasses back up the bridge of his nose. “Please have a seat Kim…?”

 

“Taehyung,” he replied as he moved to sit in the same chair Jungkook had used for their last visit. “I know you as Seokjin.”

 

“Kim Seokjin,” Seokjin said with a smile. “Another Kim to add onto the list of hundreds you likely know.”

 

“Funny, what’s even funnier is that I’m here looking for information on another Kim.”

 

“Kim, wait what Kim?” Seokjin asked with a laugh, no doubt about to ask him the exact same question that he had asked Kangho. What Kim, I know about about a hundred? So before he possibly could ask that question Taehyung sat forward in the chair and folded his hands on his desk.

 

“Kim Jinwoo.”

 

At this the office room fell silent and for several seconds Seokjin just stared at him from behind his massive glasses. Stared at him in something that might have been sheer confusion, or something else. Something like shock. Then Seokjin closed his file over and reached up slowly to collect his glasses. He pulled them free but didn’t put them on the desk, rather just tapped the thin metal arm against his lips.

 

“Why are you asking about Master Kim, Taehyung?”

 

“You heard about Ahn? Ahn Kangho?” At his questions the other man’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly. Not entirely a confirmation but as close as he was going to get. “Before I removed his eyes and tongue and shot him in the head he gave me two names: Lee Yoochun and just Kim.” Taehyung paused to let this sink in before continuing. “I know neither, and I pride myself on knowing men, Seokjin, that’s my talent.”

 

“Along with murder it would seem…” Seokjin muttered around his glasses arm. Taehyung managed to not outwardly wince at this but he did feel a slight inward twinge.

 

“Lee Yoochun is a great tip, a full name. I can narrow him down no problem but Kim. Kim can mean absolutely any-fucking-one. I find Lee and I might just be able to find him too but I like knowing what I’m up against, if possible.” Taehyung glanced at the file before looking back up at his face. “I know one, maybe two Kims that have problems with Master Jeon. Kim Jinwoo and Kim himself.”

 

“Why do you think that they have problems with him?” Seokjin asked in a quiet voice, full of curiosity.

 

“Ahn said something about people being pissed off about the idea of Master Jeon taking over Haedogje Pa. A great many men could be pissed off but rebellions have to start from somewhere. Last time I checked, neither son saw eye to eye. Why?”

 

“Kim Jinwoo is disdainful towards Master Jeon’s choice of bed warmer, and by that I don’t mean a porn star. I mean a man,” Seokjin explained. “He’s a Methodist, kind of funny I know. A man of Haedogje Pa being religious but it’s true. Master Kim sees Master Jeon akin to that of the devil I suppose. Drinking, doing drugs, cavorting with other men.” He paused and seemed to think this over for a moment. “They are mortal enemies quite frankly, which is why Jeon has pretty much forced Master Kim out of the picture.”

 

“Doesn’t that seem like something to be pissed off about? Kim Jinwoo losing his share of it all? Or his father, Kim himself seeing his heir denied a powerful position ‘cos of Master Jeon?”

 

“Master Kim has a powerful position already, Taehyung,” Seokjin retorted in a crisp tone. “And we’re not the kind of men that should be meddling in powerful men’s affairs.”

 

“Who are you loyal to? Haedogje Pa or Master Jeon?” Taehyung asked in a quiet voice.

 

“Who are you loyal to Taehyung?” Seokjin reflected the question back at him, clearly doing so to draw attention away from himself. Taehyung could only hold his gaze and refuse to look away. Loyalty was something that he didn’t really want to think about right now, not after what had happened today.

 

“I know that you came from the bottom,” Taehyung remarked, and at this he was pretty certain that he saw Seokjin stiffening in his seat. “If it wasn’t for Master Jeon you’d be still working for his father as a whore, correct me if I’m wrong. I doubt I am seen as Master Jeon told me everything.” Oh now the other man’s expression looked peeved. Rather cute actually, the way he seemed to puff his cheeks up. “That kind of upgrade, it seems like you’d have reason to want to keep Master Jeon at the top. These men I’m looking into want him torn from that position. Quite possibly torn into pieces. If we’re not the kind of men to be meddling then what’d you think happens to men like us when Master Jeon is removed from the picture?”

 

For near a minute the office room was silent, deathly silent. No sounds from the rest of the building. Taehyung could sense that Seokjin was holding his tongue because he had caught him out. The other man was trying to think of something to say in reply and yet he had nothing. It was a rather nice sensation having the last say for once, rather than always being the one left dumb. When Seokjin finally seemed to have sorted his thoughts out he shifted in his seat and sighed heavily.

 

“Damn, he really did pick a smart toy.”

 

Taehyung could only cock his head and offer him a rather pleased smile.

 

“…I’ll collect information on Lee Yoochun for you,” Seokjin said in a quiet voice as he dropped his eyes to his desk. “I can contact Master Jeon when I have substantial information on him. You can collect it on his behalf but Taehyung…I would advise you avoid looking into the Kim family. Just trust me on this. This isn’t about being loyal, this is about survival.”

 

“Why?” Taehyung asked him brusquely. “It’s my job to know Haedogje Pa business, if Master Jeon requests it of me then I have to collect info no matter what.”

 

“Yes, but if Master Jeon values your pretty little face then he would tell you the same thing. Let the important men sort it out Taehyung. You’re just fodder yes? Just like the rest of us.” Seokjin smiled at him and his expression had an almost bitter twist to it. “My advice is this: just find out what you can and when you start to get deep, force that shit onto someone else. Let them take the fall, or more aptly the bullet.”

 

“…OK,” Taehyung said as he shifted to get out of the chair. “Thank you for your assistance Seokjin.” He moved to cross the office room, grabbing the door handle and pulling it open. He was about to step outside of the office when the other man’s voice caught him by surprise.

 

“Master Jeon might tell you that you’re something more, a god if you will. But you’re just a man. And men die.” Seokjin paused for a moment and then gave him a smile. “Please close the door on your way out, Taehyung.”