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Mama called me destructive (said it'd ruin me one day)

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Pitiful.

 

It's remarkable, he muses, that even in the midst of the chaos and iniquities people inflict throughout the span of their lives, how quickly it all comes crumbling down into a ruse of shameless imploring and cowardice when faced with the brink of death.

 

Jeon Jeongguk lives for moments like these.

 

He toys with the jagged army blade in hand, gliding the tip of his finger enticingly across the edge, watching in utter delight as the stout male before him tracks every movement with poorly veiled panic in his eyes, growing increasingly anxious with every passing moment that Jeongguk continues to regard him wordlessly.

 

"So," he drawls after a sustained period of silence, tone slicing through the air like the very dagger in his palm and leaving his victim with feelings of trepidation. Jeongguk doesn't bother concealing the smirk tugging at the corners of his lips as his eyes gleam wickedly, watching the other squirm like a caged pig resigned to its fate of soon being gutted.

 

That's not too far from predictive events in the foreseeable future.

 

For Jeongguk always did enjoy playing with his food before devouring it.

 

"You thought you could steal from me, did you?" He taunts, playful expression a stark contrast to the menacing lilt to his tone . His eyes betray his casual façade, however, sinister and promising a world of affliction beyond no other. The emotion simmering beneath his veins is potent and strangely unprecedented. He's unaccustomed to an ire quite like this, threatening to overpower all sense of reason, but he'll be damned if he allows such vermin to witness his undoing.

 

Not that his soul isn't already condemned to burn in all seven, fiery layers of hell.

 

But if that's the case, he'll make it his goddamn mission to drag as many pieces of filth that he can down with him.

 

Starting with the pathetic excuse for a human being currently on his knees, praying for a salvation he knows he won't get.

 

"No, I s-swear!" The man stutters, eyes widening when he notices the way Jeongguk slowly approaches him with the grace of a panther in the still darkness. "I paid off everything last month!" He grasps desperately for words, feeling the apprehension gnawing at his insides. "I haven't touched anything else since!" He proclaims, heart palpitating wildly in his chest.

 

He's never known fear like this.

 

"Oh, but that's not exactly true now, is it?" Jeongguk poses, and the mask drops in that brief moment, a sliver of something menacing creeping into his irises as his stoic visage descends into something bordering venomous. He revels in the way the other gazes up at him almost beseechingly, as if that would have any influence on what Jeongguk has in store for him.

 

No, Jeongguk has planned this out far too methodically to merely abandon his plans. That doesn't mean he won't enjoy watching the other squirm in the process, though.

 

"You have quite the affinity for pursuing things that don't belong to you, don't you, Lee Dongwoo?" Jeongguk queries offhandedly, quickly regaining his composure as his grasp tightens around the handle of his recently sharpened blade.

 

He had prepared it solely for this occasion.

 

"I told you I haven't taken any cash from you or the organization in months!" His body is lightly sheathed in cold sweat by now and there are slight tremors wracking his frame, exposing the sheer panic slowly gripping him from the inside.

 

"Is that what you think this about? Money?" Jeongguk chuckles, and it serves to make Dongwoo freeze on the spot because despite the frighteningly collected tone, there is absolutely nothing in those dark, piercing eyes that even hint at humor.

 

"No," he sneers, lips curling in disdain as he regards the other the way one would scum on the bottom of their shoe. "If that were case, I would have shown mercy and ended your pathetic life quickly by blowing your head off."

 

"No." Jeongguk repeats, staring into Dongwoo's eyes with a chilling placidity that makes the hairs at the rear of his neck rise, sensing the impending wrath for something he's still not entirely sure of. "This is much more personal." He spits, closing the narrow distance between them and with an agility unheard of, rams the tip of his blade vigorously into the muscles beneath his shoulder blade.

 

The agonizing scream it wrenches from the other does little to curb the bloodlust coursing through his system.

 

Because all he can think about are those filthy hands wandering in places they shouldn't be, invasively mapping over contours of a body he has no business even looking at (let alone touching), and Jeongguk sees red.

 

It's the kind of vivid scarlet that paints his corneas and permeates every last centimeter of his vision, until the only thing fueling his instinct is the primal urge to tear apart flesh and wreak havoc.

 

He retracts the knife callously from the other's shoulder, deriving sick pleasure from the way it draws a harrowing cry of pain from the older male as a pool of blood slowly soaks through his clothing from the deep laceration. It's a small price to pay, Jeongguk thinks darkly as he wipes the edge of his blade on the other's shirt, staining it crimson.

 

"You touched- no, desecrated- something far more valuable than anything this empire could have ever amassed and for that, you will pay." Jeongguk whispers ruthlessly against his ear and Dongwoo realizes, in that moment, that this is what it means to be paralyzed by unadulterated fear as the pieces slowly begin to fall into place.

 

Through the excruciating haze of pain, he vaguely recalls a lithe frame and soft, chestnut brown hair. And beauty beyond what his mind could initially comprehend.

 

There was something alluring about the younger man, and he remembers how intent he had been on obtaining that beauty and reserving a piece of it for himself.

 

He wonders now if perhaps that was his greatest transgression yet.

 

Had he known that the other was somehow tied to Jeon Jeongguk, that he held some sort of unspoken claim over him...

 

Dongwoo would have never stepped foot in the same room as the other, let alone approach him.

 

"It seems you have some trouble understanding what it means when someone tells you no," he states evenly, but there's an undercurrent of anger threatening to shatter the calm and not even Dongwoo is daft enough to miss it. "So why don't we go over that in stunning detail, starting with you as our prime example."

 

Jeongguk may be well-versed in the act of remaining poised even in the face of danger and in dire situations, but-

 

He's not sure how much longer he can maintain this impersonal demeanor.

 

Because this-

 

It cuts just a little too close to home, and Jeongguk is consumed entirely with the raw need to gut this man open- to skin him alive and disassemble his limbs and organs, piece by piece. And that's merely a fraction of what he'd really like to do.

 

Jeon Jeongguk understands cruelty.

 

He's the embodiment of it.

 

But this feeling is something that startles even himself, and it's unsettling how much it threatens to unravel his unshakeable composure and demolish the very image he's worked so diligently to uphold.

 

He remembered how Taehyung had looked when he returned tonight, visibly shaken but forcing a smile all the same before he had easily, almost instinctively, melted into Jeongguk's arms, burying his face against his chest as though that would somehow deflect his circumspection.

 

But Jeongguk was no fool.

 

He suspected something must have transpired to instigate this uncharacteristic behavior, the unsettled expression on Taehyung's face shooting off warning signals in his mind and alighting something unwelcome within.

 

So he had sought out Jimin to interrogate him, having delegated to him the task of keeping an eye on Tae at all times, even while he was at work. Jimin was the one who had posed the idea of secretly installing cameras at Taehyung's workplace after all, and Jeongguk had quickly conceded.

 

For if there was anyone more adamant about ensuring Taehyung's safety than himself, it would be Jimin.

 

But the other had merely avoided his steely gaze, dodging the question before gravely informing him that he should check the video feed from that evening. Jeongguk had felt something distasteful churn in his stomach then, knowing that whatever happened must have been unpleasant enough for Jimin to have been sworn to secrecy.

 

In retrospect, Jeongguk should have been at least somewhat prepared for the onslaught of emotions that would soon overtake him.

 

But nothing- nothing- could have prepared him for the surge of unbridled fury that seized his rationale, grappling at his self control and threatening to undo everything he had fought so hard to contain.

 

Jeongguk remembered watching the entire incident unfold through the recording, how Taehyung had been lured under false pretenses of help as he prepared to close up the shop. He watched as Taehyung returned the disarming smile before refuting the lingering customer's offer, assuring him he had everything under control.

 

He watched as this man, Lee Dongwoo, persisted in his advances and how the cordial grin on Taehyung's face subsequently faltered as the other gradually approached before cornering him against the counter. He watched as the other breached Taehyung's personal space, holding absolutely no regard for the growing discomfort apparent on his face.

 

Jeongguk's iron grip had tightened considerably around the edge of the screen, sensing something ugly clawing at him from the insides as he witnessed that man bring a hand up to brush against Taehyung's cheek.

 

The top corner of his screen shattered.

 

Taehyung slapped the other's hand away, a look of vexation settling across his features as he skirted around the stranger, insisting that he leave because it was past closing hours.

 

It did little to deter the other's doggedness, however, and Jeongguk's eyes narrowed into slits as he observed the way the older man suddenly grasped Taehyung's wrist, pulling him in far too closely against his chest amidst hushed murmurs of "c'mon" and "such a pretty little thing."

 

Jeongguk felt one of the restraints surrounding his impeccable self-control snap.

 

Taehyung struggled in the man's hold, his aversion warring with the mounting unease as the other refused to relinquish his grip around his arm. Jeongguk watched the argument escalate as that piece of filth navigated his hands over the slope of the younger's hips and his jaw clenched almost painfully in response.

 

The older ignored the streams of "get off me" and "let me go" flowing past Taehyung's lips, choosing instead to inch his head closer to the stunning male's pulse point, inhaling deeply and brushing his nose against supple skin.

 

Jeongguk used every remaining ounce of strength and willpower he could muster to keep himself calmly seated, knowing it would be useless to go off on some kind of rampage.

 

No, he would need a clear head to calculate and follow through with his next course of action.

 

That was the point Taehyung had suddenly managed to throw the other off before striking him jarringly across the face.

 

A small part of Jeongguk- the part still clinging onto some thread of logic- felt a rush of satisfaction at seeing Taehyung defend himself.

 

That feeling didn't last long, however, because the next moment revealed Taehyung being shoved harshly, a loud thump resounding clearly through the sound system as his body made impact with the wall, inciting a sharp gasp of pain.

 

Jeongguk felt something constrict in his chest as he witnessed the way Tae's face suddenly contorted in affliction. He watched as Taehyung struggled to breathe, chest heaving laboriously and that-

 

Jeongguk felt something lethal stir in the wake of his consciousness, threatening to override his judgment and consume his very being. He forced himself to take a steadying breath, not realizing how hard his fingers were trembling.

 

His vision bled crimson.

 

He heard the man swear at Taehyung, demeaning insults thrown his way, and Jeongguk would have cut his tongue off for that alone.

 

In the next moment, before that vile creature could put his hands on Taehyung again, Jimin's petite frame came into view and he watched with utter glee- and he'd never admit it aloud, but a swooping sense of relief- as he snuck up behind the stout male and coiled a bicep unforgivingly around his plump neck, yanking him backwards into a vicious chokehold. Jeongguk could sense the sheer rage emanating from Jimin even through the pixelated screen as he appeared intent on crushing the man's windpipe, and he felt an acute sense of appreciation for the other in that moment- for valuing Taehyung's safety (knowing what it meant to Jeongguk).

 

Jeongguk observed impassively as the older man's face slowly turned an unsightly shade of purple, his hands grappling uselessly at Jimin's arms and a small part of him was satisfied.

 

Just barely, however.

 

"Jiminnie, stop." Jeongguk's gaze automatically snapped towards Taehyung's figure on the screen, stomach clenching at the sound of that voice, weak but pleading with the shorter male nonetheless. "Please."

 

The desperation in Tae's voice must have been enough to infiltrate Jimin's haze of anger and his thirst for vengeance, because the death grip around that neck loosened ever so slightly. The storm brewing on Jimin's face remained prevalent, however, as he looked on at the older with murderous intent and there was no doubt in Jeongguk's mind that he would have inflicted irreparable damage had Taehyung not intervened.

 

"Let him go, Jimin-ah," Taehyung implored, reaching out to rest a hand gently against said male's arm, silently urging him to relinquish his hold. "It's not worth it."

 

Jeongguk noticed the conflict on Jimin's face, the internal struggle he must have been facing as he attempted to reconcile instinct with reason. How he must have deliberated between conceding to Tae's wishes or watching the life slowly drain away from those beady eyes.

 

"You're better than him, Jimminie." Taehyung's voice rang clear with conviction as he gazed at him with an undisputed sort of sincerity, and Jeongguk wished he could be more livid at the other for his inability to hold a grudge, for not sharing their animosity.

 

But then again-

 

That would have been so very uncharacteristic of the man he'd developed a strange sort of affinity for- would have gone against everything that drew him to the beautiful male in the first place.

 

That seemed to do it for Jimin, his arms dropping reluctantly from the other's neck, and Jeongguk felt an odd mix of disapproval and grudging acceptance because he understood the kind of influence Taehyung had over him, knew that Jimin would ultimately do just about anything the other wanted him to because if there was any kind of weakness he had, it would be Kim Taehyung. He knew, because he was all too familiar with the infuriating fluctuation of control and willpower that surfaced when faced with a touch of Tae's kindness.

 

Perhaps they were both a little weak when it came to Taehyung.

 

Jimin withdrew from the other completely but not before delivering a final blow to his gut, shoving him roughly to the ground and rendering the man breathless, wheezing from pain.

 

"If I ever see you in here again, a broken neck will be the least of your problems." Jimin seethed, body still coiled tightly from rage. "Now get the fuck out of here before I crush your skull."

 

It was almost humorous witnessing how rapidly that pathetic being scrambled out of the shop, casting one last terrified glance at Jimin and a lingering one at the man beside him. Jeongguk's fists clenched and he wanted nothing more than to carve those lecherous eyes from their sockets.

 

Perhaps he should.

 

"Are you alright?" Jimin immediately turned towards Taehyung the moment the other was out of sight.

 

A feeble nod in response.

 

Jimin breathed in heavily, irritation overlapping with his concern. "What the hell were you thinking, Tae?" He whispered harshly, glaring at the other even as he shrunk away in the face of Jimin's anger. "I- no, we've- told you not to let your guard down and trust people so easily. Why can't you fucking listen?"

 

That seemed to strike a nerve with Taehyung because he could make out the way his frame stiffened, a defiance in those eyes that shone through even with a barrier between them.

 

"Not everyone is like that, Jimin-ah." There was something resolute in his tone, and Jeongguk sensed that Jimin was fighting a battle he had no chance of winning. "The two of you may come from a world where mistrust and deceit come first, and I understand that, I do- but there is good in this world whether you choose to believe in it or not. And I'm not going to close myself off to that just because of a few assholes here and there." He spoke with unnerving calmness, the resolve in his voice inflexible.

 

Jimin scowled, the vexation still visible across his features as he ran his fingers irascibly through his hair, attempting to achieve a serenity he wasn't sure he could find.

 

"Yeah, well, we'll just wait and see what Jeongguk has to say about that."

 

At that, Taehyung's expression faltered and the rate at which his hand shot out to clutch at Jimin's arm was almost impressive.

 

"No, don't. Jimin, please," he urged, the unease spilling from his very features. "You can't tell him."

 

"Tae-"

 

"No," he argued, a desperation to his tone that he knew the other was weak against. "Please, Jimin, you know how he gets. He's rash, and there's so much on his plate right now, he doesn't need one more thing to deal with, okay?" He reasoned, eyes lighting with unspoken determination. "I'm fine, I don't want him to do something that he'll regret later."

 

And that was where he erred, Jeongguk thought. Because while Taehyung may have understood parts of him that he would never allow anyone else to see, the one thing he couldn't seem to grasp (and perhaps never would) was that Jeongguk would never regret the things he did for- because of- Taehyung.

 

Jeongguk would turn the entire world upside down, annihilate and watch it burn in flames until mere ashes remained if only to ensure Taehyung's very existence.

 

"He hasn't been sleeping well this past week, Jimin-ah." Taehyung conceded softly, the concern seeping through his ebony orbs even despite his best efforts to hide it. "So please, whatever you do, just promise me you won't say anything to him. He doesn't need another thing to concern himself with."

 

Jeongguk's throat tightened uncomfortably at that, because it was true that he had been unable to find rest easily the past few days, a result of those goddamn narcs sniffing around his turf in addition to the mounting hiccups surrounding the reallocation of their resources.

 

It had continued to pile upon Jeongguk's shoulders as he had been forced to lay low while rectifying the idiotic mishaps, and he had done his best to ensure that Taehyung had remained unaware of the pressure increasingly forcing its way onto his chest, but-

 

He should have known the brooding and waspishness wouldn't have gone unnoticed by Taehyung.

 

The other always did have a keen sense for detecting calamities, most especially where it concerned Jeongguk. He supposed it was both a blessing and a curse, knowing he couldn't ever really hide anything from Taehyung but a minuscule part of him feeling appeased that the other never gave him that option.

 

Taehyung was prying in the most aggravating way at times, and if it were anyone else being that intrusive he would have dismembered the sorry bastard, but-

 

When it came to Tae, Jeongguk supposed he was willing to make that exception.

 

(That didn't mean the older didn't drive him completely up the wall sometimes, with his incessant reprimands and contemplative gazes. God, how it drove him insane).

 

A frustrated sigh, and begrudging assent on Jimin's behalf and Taehyung slowly relaxed, the tension trickling out of his body like morning dew against a coated windowpane. He expressed his gratitude in the form of an embrace, winding his arms around the other before pressing his face against Jimin's chest.

 

"Thank you." He uttered almost inaudibly, relief settling in as he found ease in the peaceful conclusion he thought had been attained. A contentment at the prospect of the entire incident being swept delicately under the rug, right below Jeongguk's awareness.

 

But oh, how wrong he was.

 

It wasn't the end. Far from it, actually.

 

Jeongguk would personally see to that.

 

"You see," Jeongguk murmurs carefully, words tapering off into protracted syllables. "I'm not an advocate of violence."

 

Lies.

 

"I prefer to settle things... Amicably." His tone is void of any real sentiment, but there's a glint to his eyes and Dongwoo knows- he just knows- there's no way he's leaving this place unscathed tonight. The thought evokes a sense of dread.

 

"After all," he continues, circling the other closely- predatorily. "A leader who resorts to brutality before compromise is no leader at all. Don't you agree?" He presses lightly, but there's a taunt embedded somewhere within feigned joviality. The look in those eyes tells him everything he needs to know.

 

"Y-yes." Dongwoo chokes out, fingers trembling from his frayed nerves as a tremor travels down the curve of his spine. The pain in his shoulder is almost enough to render him speechless.

 

Jeongguk grins, as though appeased by his answer.

 

But Dongwoo knows better, for it only serves to heighten his unease as he stares up anxiously at the man who quite literally holds his fate in his hands. And judging by the malefic sheen in those dark, searching eyes, he senses the odds are not in his favor.

 

"Smart man," Jeongguk comments offhandedly, twirling the bloody knife in his hands, grinning at the sight of sanguine fluid coating the edges. It provokes a deep sense of satisfaction within him, seeing the other squirming in pain and attempting to hide that anguish.

 

And he's only getting started.

 

"The thing is- I consider myself to be a rather fair man. I'm not a fan of inflicting pain when it's not necessary. But you see, Dongwoo-ssi," he pauses, and there's an edge to his voice this time around, nearly imperceptible had one's ears not been trained to pick up on traces of hostility. Dongwoo has perhaps been conditioned to detect any threat directed his way, however, because he distinguishes the underlying malignancy immediately. "When someone decides to overstep their boundaries, that's when it becomes necessary for me to intervene, do you understand?" He asks evenly, a sneer gradually unveiling itself on the canvas of his face. There's nothing gracious about his demeanor now. "It's only reasonable to repair the damage that's been inflicted and to personally remediate the wrongs, don't you think?" He queries, and the pleasantries have dropped completely.

 

Dongwoo is frozen on the spot, flesh still throbbing unforgivingly and throat coarse like sandpaper as he mentally scours for an explanation he knows can't save him at this point. The unhinged fury and tempestuousness brewing within those eyes leave him voiceless.

 

"So," he states with a frightening tranquility that coaxes another shiver from his body. "Here's what we're going to do." He drawls, taking in the sight of the other looking as pale as freshly laundered sheets. It sparks a current of excitement throughout his system. "I'm going to make it abundantly clear to you what it means when someone expresses their dissent. And what better way to illustrate that than to leave a lasting impression, quite literally." He smiles, a fresh wave of delight cresting and finding refuge in his orbs.

 

Jeongguk crouches down so that he's at eye level with the other, brandishing the soiled knife before him threateningly, caressing that plump cheek almost benignly. Dongwoo's breath hitches. The frenzied look doesn't leave Jeongguk's eyes.

 

Jeongguk glides the knife tantalizingly up the curve of his face until the tip of the blade rests above the arch of his brow.

 

"We'll start right here," Jeongguk utters rapturously, tapping the knife reverently against his forehead and the breadth of his words weigh heavily on Dongwoo's chest as he fights to quell the quivers seizing his frame. "I'm going to decorate this pretty little forehead of yours." He announces jovially and the older man's eyes widen in fear, shaking his head deliriously.

 

"Shh. Don't worry, Dongwoo-ssi." Jeongguk whispers placatingly, content smile still present on his face as he takes in the hysteria arising within the other. "You're overthinking this. Just think of it as an exercise in restraint- an extension of creativity, if you will."

 

Dongwoo feels his heart pounding relentlessly in his ribcage. The cold touch of the blade against his skin is dismal.

 

"Relax." Jeongguk chuckles, finding the situation all too amusing. "Think about it this way. I'll get the opportunity to hone my artistry and you'll be getting a tattoo, of sorts, free of charge." His misleadingly affable tone juxtaposes with the poison seeping from his mouth. "I used to dream of becoming a tattoo artist, did you know that?" He trails off, as though wandering in the forest of his own thoughts. "Probably would have pursued that had this," he gestures around him with his free hand. "not worked out. Funny how things turn out though." He pauses, gazing at the other with sly interest in his eyes. "It's just so fascinating to me, the idea of leaving something so, permanent on someone else's skin."

 

When Dongwoo finally manages to meet the other's eyes, his blood turns cold.

 

"Well," he laughs and it chills him thoroughly to the bone. "Now I'll finally get the chance." He smirks, digging the edge of his dagger further into Dongwoo's skin, and said man feels a prick of pain as the blade grazes the surface. "And you'll get the opportunity to practice staying quiet. It's a symbiotic relationship."

 

Dongwoo quakes where he's kneeling, the adrenaline pulsing through his veins.

 

"And you will remain quiet." Jeongguk breathes malevolently, an iciness to his tone that matches the coldness of his gaze. "Because if I hear one word out of you- so much as a peep," he brings the knife to the ridge of his mouth, tracing it along the planes of his lips. "I'll cut your fucking tongue off. Got it?"

 

He wonders if there's a God out there to offer him salvation.

 

"Good, it looks like you're getting the hang of it." The younger man praises, pleased. "Then we can just jump right into it."

 

The next thing Dongwoo registers is a searing pain below his hairline, so excruciating his vision bursts with a plethora of ivories and blues. He gasps from the shock, a scream unfurling within his throat before the brevity of the other's words hit him and he bites down on his tongue to stifle the sounds.

 

"Ah, ah ah." He hears Jeongguk chide, pausing in his ministrations. The slash on his skin nearly enough to render him unconscious as his body trembles unceasingly from the pain. "What did I say?" He tuts, disapproval scattered across his features as he gazes at him with an intensity he can't decipher. "Dongwoo-ssi, you disappoint me."

 

Dongwoo looks at him pleadingly, distress visible in his wide eyes. Jeongguk smirks.

 

"I suppose I should offer you one more chance, yes?" He questions, amusement dancing wildly in his obsidian orbs. "Fine. But this is the last one, Dongwoo-ssi. I won't be quite so forgiving the next time around." He grins, and the older man thanks the deities for that exemption. "I told you I could be fair."

 

Dongwoo feels something warm trickle down the contours of his forehead, skimming lightly over the curve of his lid before collecting along the edge of his lashes. He brings a hand up hesitantly to brush against his eyes.

 

His fingers are stained red.

 

Before he has time to dwell on it, however, he feels another shock of pain cripple him. He chokes back the whimper that threatens to escape, feeling the corners of his eyes burn from the agony of that blade slicing through his skin. His breath comes out in rough staccatos, a reflection of the pain that ruins his very hope for serenity.

 

Jeongguk traces patterns- lines- meticulously over supple flesh, watching reverently as he mars that visage, blood slowly oozing from the gashes. He applies just the slightest bit of pressure and delights in the way it draws a muffled cry from the other, even as he tries his hardest to silence it.

 

He has an inkling he's enjoying this a little too much.

 

He presses the knife in hard as he finishes up the last stroke with a quick slash across the other's forehead, drawing thick trails of vermilion where the blade made its mark. He notices the way the other's entire stature trembles as a result of his ministrations, fighting to keep itself upright as the pain cripples him.

 

"Well done, Dongwoo-ssi." Jeongguk murmurs softly. "I have to admit, I'm quite impressed with your resilience. You've done an admirable job remaining quiet," he states thoughtfully, a look of consideration filling his eyes.

 

"I suppose I should reward you then." He states dismissively, glancing over his shoulder just as his expression morphs into one of guileful anticipation. "Jimin, bring me the hammer."

 

Dongwoo's head snaps up at that, blood tainting his features but eyes conveying his horror distinctly. Jeongguk smiles at him mockingly.

 

"What, you didn't think we were done, did you?" A subtle flash of teeth and Dongwoo's own clatter violently within his orifice. "No, I'm just getting warmed up here. But I did say I would acknowledge your behavior, didn't I?"

 

Jeongguk's grin widens when Jimin comes into view, handing over his blade in exchange for the tool. He turns back to regard the other critically.

 

"So I'll let you choose, Dongwoo-ssi. Which hand would you prefer to keep, the right or left?"

 

The older male has trouble swallowing past the lump in his throat. He gazes up wordlessly, orbs enlarged and imploring.

 

Jeongguk withholds a scathing remark at the display. He feels some of the ire trickle back in, churning in the pit of his belly as he recalls those hands trailing lecherously over a slender frame, and-

 

The chains around his self-control splinter.

 

"You see, Dongwoo-ah, I may be able to overlook a few things including your little blunder from earlier," he continues gratingly, cadence leveling off into something daunting. "But you had the gall to touch what's mine, to sully something sublime with those filthy hands of yours, so now," he taps the head lightly against his cheek, the cool press of steel making him flinch. "I'm going to make sure you wont be able to make the same mistake twice." Jeongguk sneers, relishing the way the other's breathing audibly picks up.

 

"Don't be so uptight. I'm giving you the option to choose, aren't I?" He laughs, irises catching the light from the sole lamp post and gleaming lethally in the night. "I'd say I'm being plenty generous here."

 

Dongwoo stills, fear momentarily eclipsing the pain.

 

"So," he prods. "What'll it be?"

 

The older male shakes his head vehemently, unwilling to make that kind of decision. He's encountered some vile individuals before in his life, but never-

 

Never anyone like this. So cruel, twisted- sick.

 

"You're an animal." Dongwoo whispers fearfully, entire frame quivering at the prospect of what's to come.

 

At this, Jeongguk emits a full-bodied laugh, perhaps the most genuine sound he's heard from the other all night. Somehow that thought only serves to petrify him.

 

"You don't know the half of it." He murmurs dispassionately, the emotion behind his eyes (or lack thereof) is nothing short of unnerving. "But since you seem disinclined to make a choice, I guess I'll make that decision for you." He declares, satisfied. "We'll go with the left. I believe you're left-handed, Dongwoo-ssi, isn't that right?" The younger muses, running his fingers reverently over the handle of his weapon. "Well, not anymore. Jimin, hold down his arm. I'm not interested in playing whack-a-mole with his hand right now."

 

"Yes, boss."

 

Dongwoo struggles uselessly when he feels a bruising grip around his arm, pinning the limb ruthlessly against cold concrete. He stifles a cry of anguish at the unnatural angle forced upon his joints, the gash along his shoulder blade still pounding unceasingly as he desperately attempts to overlook the pain now blooming in multiple areas of his body.

 

"No!" he blubbers hysterically, resorting to begging, hoping against all odds that there's a salvation somewhere waiting for him. "Please, no, I-I'll do anything!"

 

Jeongguk's eyes suddenly thin into slits, glare turning murderous as his lips curl upward into a snarl. "It's too fucking late for that, Dongwoo-ssi." He spits, crouching back down before jabbing the end of the hammer roughly against Dongwoo's cheek, as though barely refraining from striking him across the face with it.

 

"You've eradicated any possible chance for redemption the moment you laid your hands on him," he grits out, shaking from the depth of his rage. "And I guarantee you, I'll make sure to return the inconvenience you've caused tenfold."

 

"Keep him still." He barks at Jimin before gripping the base firmly in his hand and bringing it forth mercilessly.

 

It takes a millisecond for Dongwoo's nociceptors to register the brunt of the impact, and when they do, he screams. It's an ear-splitting, agonized sound wrenched from the base of his throat and breaking off into a choked cry. He trembles violently as his mind languidly catches up with the pain, his hand exploding unendurably and he knows the metacarpal bones in his hand must be shattered. There are specks of white dotting his vision as cold sweat breaks throughout his body. The nausea that assaults him is sudden but no less acute, and he finds himself keeling over, ready to empty the contents of his stomach. The affliction that invades his entire being is torturous and he briefly wonders if he'd be better off dead.

 

Maybe this was his entire devise, he thinks. To push him far enough past his breaking point that death would be the only thing left on his mind.

 

"Please," he tries again, tears brimming around the edges of his eyes as he cradles his injured hand weakly. "No more." The area around his hand is dotted with blurs of red and purple and blue, already showing signs of swelling. "I'm sorry."

 

Jeongguk chuckles, but it sounds abrasive even to his ears.

 

"If only that were enough." He replies, looking towards Jimin knowingly, raven orbs conveying everything he needs to say in one glance. Jimin nods his head subtly, retrieving the knife from its holster and slipping it furtively into the hand lingering by Jeongguk's side, the action going unnoticed by the other who's currently preoccupied with the severity of his circumstances. "But you know that," he declares, voice sedated and introspective. "Maybe tonight's your lucky night, because this game has grown tiresome and to be quite honest, I'm not all that interested in dragging this out further." Jeongguk states solemnly, circling stealthily around the other until he's behind him.

 

"So maybe it's better for us to stop here." His grip tightens, zeroing in on his desired point. "What do you say?"

 

Dongwoo almost cries in his relief, overcome with a surge of contentment and hope he dares not wish for, because perhaps Jeon Jeongguk has finally taken pity upon him and maybe that means there is a God out there for him-

 

"Make sure you say hi to the rest of the scum down there in hell for me." He hears a vengeful whisper against his ear.

 

Dongwoo's eyes widen in horror, just barely processing the words before Jeongguk brings his knife around and runs the blade clean across the valley of his throat, slashing straight through with ruthless yet rapid precision across his carotid artery. Blood splatters messily over his once crisp suit, staining the white dress shirt beneath. He watches with apathy as the other collapses into a crumpled mess on the pavement, clutching at his throat futilely as blood spills over ceaselessly from the severed artery.

 

A thrill of excitement shoots through Jeongguk, an unparalleled form of euphoria at the sound of the other choking on his own blood, inhumane noises leaving his mouth as he struggles to gather oxygen in his lungs.

 

Jeongguk considers it to be rather useless if your jugular and other crucial arteries are ruptured. Although, it's no less entertaining to see him try.

 

Jeongguk's own hands are painted maroon.

 

He watches, intrigued, as the elder man takes raucous, gasping breaths through a sundered trachea, coughing up hemoglobin and Jeongguk witnesses the entire situation with a sated conscience.

 

It won't be long, he thinks, before the blood loss and lack of oxygen to his brain leave him unconscious. And shortly thereafter, the life will slowly drain out of him.

 

He wipes the edge of his knife collectedly against his pressed slacks before handing it over to Jimin. Not once does his gaze drift from the scene on the floor, speculating the way those ragged gasps gradually weaken and subside even as blood continues to spurt from the other's lacerated windpipe.

 

A few more seconds pass before the noises- movement- cease.

 

Jeongguk slinks towards the other, stepping into the puddle of blood surrounding the corpse. He moves that head towards the opposite side with the sole of his dress shoes, large yet lifeless eyes staring forward into nothing and the word "no" carved impeccably upon his forehead. The young mob boss smirks at the finesse of his handiwork.

 

It quickly slips off, however, as he turns back towards his underling.

 

"Take care of the body." He orders, briefly glancing back towards the lifeless form with mild disgust this time around. He kicks the other away by the head, as though repulsed by the mere idea of any part of that body making contact with his. "Throw it in the cage with the dogs." He suggests indifferently, meticulously adjusting the lapels of his suit. "They haven't had a decent meal in quite a while."

 

Jimin nods his assent, standing stiffly with his hands placed before him as the other walks past, heading towards a sleek, ebony Maserati.

 

"Oh, and Jimin?" Jeongguk halts, shifting his head vaguely to the side. "I'm willing to let it slide this once because I'm indebted to you for stepping in when you did and for tracking down that fucker. But the next time I see you with your hands around Taehyung like that again, I'll put a bullet through your head. Got it?" He throws casually over his shoulder, as though discussing something mundane like the weather.

 

Jimin resists the urge to roll his eyes, unimpressed with the grandiosity of the other's words.

 

"Yes, boss." He answers gruffly instead, knowing that the other is likely exaggerating and not to be taken too seriously. Jimin is his best sweeper, after all.

 

Then again, maybe that holds insufficient weight where Taehyung is concerned.

 

After all, he's witnessed Jeongguk commit some pretty heinous acts because of the other.

 

"Good." He returns, sounding mollified. "One more thing. You're not to breathe a word of this to him, am I clear?"

 

"Yes, boss." He repeats, still positioned motionlessly beside the body.

 

Jeongguk does not deign to answer, making his way towards the vehicle once again. He unlocks and slips inside the car gracefully before Jimin hears the revving of the engine as it slowly comes to life. Jimin waits until the lustrous black automobile disappears from sight before allowing his shoulders to gradually sag.

 

"Aish, this brat," Jimin mumbles irritably. "Does he even remember that I'm his hyung?"

 

He turns back to evaluate the rather unfortunate situation before him (not that he feels too bad about it. It was a well-deserved fate, he thinks). He groans internally.

 

God, Jeongguk just had to make a mess for him to clean up.

 

Jimin runs a hand briskly through his hair, peeved. He sighs.

 

Alright. Let's get to it.