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Lose Your Mind To Find Yourself

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Kim Junmyeon likes to think he is a simple man. At twenty-five he has achieved his goal and now he is here. By here, he means his job, which is not normal for a simple man like him. He is an assistant medical examiner and today is his first day visiting the homicide department’s chief’s office. He has been working here for three years but he never had to visit the higher ups. That was his boss’s job. But his boss was AWOL now and Junmyeon swears that when the man returns he will let him have a piece of his mind.

“May I come in?” Junmyeon says as he pushes the door to the chief, Choi Siwon’s, office.

Choi Siwon had his back turned towards the door. He was engrossed in reading the file in his hand when Junmyeon enters, so it gave him quite a fright. He jumps and the file slips out of his hands. He blinks at the intruder with the soft voice. Junmyeon blinks back at him. Siwon says, “Uh, who are you?”

Junmyeon fights the urge to roll his eyes. Just because he never leaves his office doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. He coughs, “Sir, I am Kim Junmyeon, assistant medical examiner?”

“You don’t know if you are Kim Junmyeon, assistant medical examiner?” Siwon asks, scowling a little.

“Sir?” Junmyeon is very, very confused.

“You added a question mark at the end of your sentence,” Siwon says, putting his hands on his hips and cocking an eyebrow as if he just made the observation of the century.

Junmyeon bites the insides of his cheeks. He did hear rumours about how impossible the chief was…he coughs again, “Sorry sir, I didn’t mean to phrase it like that.”

Siwon nods, “So, uh, why are you here?”

Junmyeon wants to punch this man and he has never wanted to punch anyone. He sighs and tries smiling, “You asked for me?”

“Did I? Why must you phrase everything like a question?”

Why is he so fixated on phrasing? Junmyeon would like to scream while tearing his hair off. Matter of fact is that he has been up since five in the morning and it is noon now and he wants his lunch! But his boss is missing and the chief is slowly driving him over the cliff. He says, internally crying (this is why he doesn’t leave his office because people), “Sir you called the morgue, boss wasn’t there, I picked it up. I told you so, then you ordered me to come up instead.”

“Oh,” Siwon says, finally remembering, “Where is Seung-hyun?”

The fuck do I know, Junmyeon wants to say but he opts for, “I do not know sir.” Then he pointedly looks at Siwon.

Siwon cocks another eyebrow. He is handsome, his hair is effortlessly slicked back and he has a good physique, but where the hell does he keep his brain? Siwon keeps staring at Junmyeon, who keeps staring as well, head tilted slightly to one side. Finally, after an awkward silence of two minutes and nine seconds (Junmyeon was counting), Siwon gets it, “Oh! Right, there is something I want you to do.”

“Yes sir,” Junmyeon can start crying now, “What can I do for you?”

“A body was found in Yongsan last night. It was unidentified. The higher up called me to send someone from my jurisdiction over. He told me it is very important. You know how Yongsan is.” Yes, Junmyeon knows how Yongsan is, Seoul’s number two in terms of drugs and drug-related offences.

“So you want me to go take a look?” Junmyeon frowns. There goes his spicy shrimp ramen for lunch.

“Yes,” Siwon says and doesn’t further clarifies.

Junmyeon scowls some more but bows and leaves the office. He has a bad feeling about this. He is going to kill his boss when he returns from wherever he is.

 

Wu Yifan knows he is complicated and he has a complicated, dangerous life. At twenty-six he has seen enough death and violence to fill two lifetimes. He is a criminal and today is turning out to be his unluckiest day. The man that Zelo killed yesterday has been found. It had been taken away to the morgue. Awesome, just what he wanted. Yifan kills the engine, and he sits in his car, scowling at the morgue’s entrance.

Kris, as Yifan liked to be called on the streets, was a sweeper. He is on the mafia’s payroll, and since he knew the boss from childhood, he had a higher, better position than the rest. And he was good at his job. He cleaned up after others, be it in blood or paper, broken bones or money. Occasionally, if he was required to, he would do the killing himself. And he is the best in that.

Suddenly another car rolls in the parking lot. A small figure gets down and enters the morgue. Yifan thought the morgue was going to be empty since it is lunchtime. Yifan scowls—this day was going fantastic. Just fantastic.

He gets down from his Porsche and walks closer to the entrance. There are two security guards. They are chatting and haven’t noticed the tall figure looming near the entrance. Yifan slowly stalks forward. When the two guards acknowledge his presence, he has already incapacitated one by a swift punch on the temple. The other is about to fight when Yifan catches his fist and pulls him forward. Then he has the hapless man in a headlock. He presses hard, but not hard enough, on the man’s throat. The man passes out. Yifan dusts his suit and enters the main building.

A shiver runs down his spine as the elevator takes him to the second floor. The air is chilled. He walks in and pushes the big steel doors. He stops in his tracks. The small man he had seen entering previously is hunched over the examiner’s table. He can see that the body he came for is laid out on the table. The sound of the door opening makes the man turn his head around.

The man gasps. So does Yifan. He knows him. “Kim Junmyeon?”

 

Junmyeon grumbles all the way to Yongsan. He does the grumbling and chewing his sad excuse of a lunch (a store brought kimbap, fuck his life) in intervals on the drive. He washes it all down with some peach iced tea (he still has little nice things in his life). He doesn’t stop cursing his boss though.

He reaches his destination and parks his sensible sedan. He walks over the guard post and flashes his identification. He enters the morgue and takes the elevator to the second floor. Choi Siwon has briefed him the particulars over text when he realised that he had dismissed Junmyeon without telling him anything in the first place. He finds the body displayed on the table. He gets closer and peers down. His eyebrows crawl up his forehead in surprise.

Unidentified truly. Judging from the build, he didn’t look that much older than twenty-five. The face is smashed brutally. Junmyeon guesses it must have been a steel baseball bat or something. He spots a deep gash on the man’s neck. Looks like it was done by something long and blunt. He frowns. He puts on his gloves and his spectacles, ready to get to work when he hears the door opening. He thinks it must be the coroner who works here.

So he turns around, and gasps.

“Kim Junmyeon?” the tall figure asks, his eyes widened.

“Wu Yifan…” Junmyeon trails off as memories as old as ten years rise to the surface.

When he was fifteen years old, and a freshman in high school he came across Wu Yifan. The Chinese student was a year ahead of him and had already gone through his growth spurt early so he stood over everyone at five feet ten inches. And matched with that grumpy face, he soon got himself a clique. A clique of bullies. Even if Yifan never directly participated in the bullying, he was still there, in the background watching, his thickk eyebrows frowning, as his minions tortured people. And Junmyeon was one of those people. But Junmyeon was ‘special’ because he was sometimes directly tormented by Yifan—torn up homework assignments, stealing his money, getting his gym clothes muddied, taunting his height and background excessively day in and day out, etc. And Junmyeon hated him, so damn much. But then during his sophomore year, Yifan left the school. But Junmyeon swore never to forget Yifan, never to forgive him for the years’ worth of torment.

And now he finds himself facing his teenage nightmare again. Yifan didn’t grow beyond six feet. But the long black hair has been chopped off and slicked back. He is wearing a suit that looks like it costs a month of Junmyeon’s salary.

Yifan seems as much surprised as Junmyeon is. He asks, “What are you doing here?”

“I could ask you the same,” Junmyeon says, and crosses his arms in front of him, “What are you doing here?”

Yifan notices the gloves and spectacles, “You work here?”

“Yes, sort of,” Junmyeon says, the bad feeling returning. He doesn’t miss the suspicious way Yifan looks at the body behind him. Junmyeon narrows his eyes. “What do you want Yifan?”

Yifan didn’t want to do this. He wanted a quick in and out. But he was facing Kim Junmyeon after ten years and he didn’t need the trip down memory lane. Also Junmyeon is with the police. After he leaves, Junmyeon will remember him, his face and his name. He really didn’t want to do this. He gets his gun out of his holster.

Junmyeon’s eyes widen in shock when he eyes the shiny metal glinting in Yifan’s hands. His breath catches when the gun points at him. Yifan says nothing as he inches in closer. Junmyeon backs away, fearing for his life now. His bottom hits the metal of the table. He is cornered now. And he doesn’t even know what is going on now. The muzzle of the gun now rests against his forehead. He shuts his eyes and prays.

“Get up here,” Yifan growls. Junmyeon opens his eyes to see Yifan talking over the phone. Yifan disconnects the call and looks at him, a malicious glint in his deep, dark brown eyes. Junmyeon gulps. Yifan says, “I don’t need to tell you that if you say anything about today to anyone, I will kill you. But if you keep quiet, I will let you live.”

Junmyeon frowns, his lips quivering, “Why?” Yifan is wondering the same thing.

“For old times’ sake Kim Junmyeon. This was a nice reunion,” Yifan grins and Junmyeon feels his life span shortening.

The door swings open again and two men enter. One is quite tall, with slanted eyes and the other is shorter with hair sweeping over his forehead. Yifan cocks his head and barks in Chinese (Junmyeon recognises it), “Zip the body up and take it down through the back door. Be careful.”

The shorter one chirps, a sole dimple on his right cheek, “Yes boss!”

Junmyeon looks on, heart thumping and fear lingering, as the two men make quick work of the body. They carry it between them and leave, the tall man nodding his head once at Yifan.

With them gone, Junmyeon finds his voice, “You got yourself better minions.”

Yifan laughs, “Very funny.” Then his face darkens as he says, his voice deeper than before, “I am sorry in advance.”

Junmyeon is about to ask what he is sorry for when he feels a blunt thud against his temple. Then everything blurs to black.

Chapter Text

“Junmyeon-sshi? Junmyeon-sshi?” a voice calls him and shakes his shoulders.

Junmyeon wants the voice and hands to go away. His head throbs and he would like it to stop. But the hands and voice doesn’t stop, so much for small mercies.

He opens his eyes and instantly shuts them. Holy shit, the light hurts. He realises he is on the tiled floor and there is a woman hovering over him. He tries opening his eyes again, and then feels something chilled pressed to his temple. His body acts on its own as for a split second he thinks someone is pressing a gun to this head again. He violently swats the hand away and sits up straight. He instantly regrets it though, because he feels even more dizzy. He blinks his eyes and sees a woman sitting in front of him, hand raised clutching an ice pack in her hand. Oh, it wasn’t a gun.

He says, “Uh.”

The woman sighs, “Thank God you are okay. I am sorry, I had stepped out for lunch and I shouldn’t have. I knew you were coming, but I got so hungry!”

Junmyeon waves his hand, “Who are you?”

“Oh,” she gasps, “How stupid of me! I am Kim Taeyeon, the coroner.”

“The body,” he says and scrambles to his feet.

“Yes, I know,” she sighs, rubbing her forehead, “When I came back and saw the two unconscious guards, I knew something was wrong. Then I come here, and the body is gone and you are on the floor, bleeding.”

Bleeding? Junmyeon raises his hand to this temple and comes in contact with warm liquid dripping down his right temple. Oh, he is bleeding. Taeyeon continues, “So, what happened here?”

The fear returns and grips him. His hands start shaking and he can feel cold sweat breaking out on his nape. He remembers Yifan’s threat loud and clear. He gulps, stumbling along his words, “I don’t know…I was about to start the examination when I hear the doors opening. I thought it was you, but it wasn’t. It was a tall man; I couldn’t see his face. But then he hit me.” He gingerly touches his wound and winces in pain.

“Oh,” Taeyeon says, her gaze resting on the table, “We couldn’t even identify the body. The plot thickens. I need to go make a report now. You will help, right?”

Junmyeon nods. He cannot believe he lied and now he is going to make false statements. All because he finds himself cowering in fear due to one Wu Yifan. The old, dusty, forgotten feelings of hatred for the tall Chinese man were trying to come back again.

Taeyeon beckons for him to follow her to her office. She gives him the ice pack and smiles. Junmyeon smiles back as he presses the pack to his temple. When they enter her office she says, “Do you know all the surveillance cameras were fried? None of the cameras picked up anything. This is very, very mysterious.” But then she shrugs, “But what do people like us care? We just deal with the dead. We make the reports; the police will catch the living. Tea?”

Junmyeon was staring somewhere over Taeyeon’s head. When she mentions tea, he looks down to find a Styrofoam cup filled with tea. He takes it and says thank you. He sips it, it is iced peach tea. His soul feels lighter…with a six feet cloud looming in the horizon.

“Now, let me see that wound,” Taeyeon says and gets her first aid kit. Junmyeon tries protesting, but the woman in relentless. He slumps down on a chair and lets her take care of his injury.

 

Yifan grips the wheel of his Porsche so hard, his knuckles turn white. He had been idling in the basement parking lot of his apartment in Gangnam for minutes now. He kept thinking about Kim Junmyeon. And how, even after ten years, he cannot tolerate that face.

He had joined that high school when he was sixteen. He didn’t want to go to school. He had reasoned with Kang senior but to no avail. On his first day he had bumped into Kim Junmyeon, a freshman. Yifan was flabbergasted at first, he didn’t know a man can look like that—almost angelic. Even his behaviour was as such. Junmyeon made his way into the student council, he got straight As. He was a perfect student. His family was wealthy. Yifan had seen Junmyeon coming to school in a chauffeured car. Junmyeon was untouchable. But one day he found himself privy to a hushed conversation in the library…

“Wu Yifan, he is very handsome. That ponytail reminds me of a manga character,” Yifan hears a girl say. He smirks.

“He only has his looks Hye-jin! You shouldn’t go for a guy like him!” Yifan hears another voice, flustered, a bit on the edge. he recognises it straightaway—Kim Junmyeon.

“Why so?”

“He is good-for-nothing, everyone knows that. No one knows about him, or his background. Plus, I hear he skips class! He is not nice at all; I hear people say he is the devil!”

That is when Yifan started seeing Junmyeon in another way. Yifan saw Junmyeon’s wealthy status as an injustice. Junmyeon was privileged. He had a family, love, grades and friends. What did Yifan have? He doesn’t know who his parents were, he had no family to call his own, he had mediocre grades and his ‘friends’ in school were more like followers. His followers start bullying people, he never participated but he found himself getting involved when it came to Junmyeon. At first he saw Junmyeon as an angel, someone unattainable but then he starts seeing him as what he truly is—a rich, privileged kid who looked down on people like him. “The devil” Junmyeon had said and Yifan was driven to prove him just that.

And he hated Kim Junmyeon more when whatever Yifan did to instigate the shorter man, his face never wavered, never once did Junmyeon break in front of him. Yifan hated that impassive face. He hated that face he had admired from afar in the beginning.

To see him again like this threw Yifan off. Grudgingly he admits that age has been kind to Junmyeon. He is very good-looking now. The lightly messed up auburn hair and spectacles were suiting him so well. When his thin pink lips had started to quiver, Yifan was so taken aback. Somewhere, somehow he realised that face still affects him.

Yifan hits the wheel with his palm. Fuck it, he should have put a bullet through that head. But he couldn’t find the need or urge to kill Junmyeon.

 

Junmyeon sighs as he unlocks his apartment. He had sent a lengthy text to his boss and taken an early leave. He takes off his shoes and walks in, his steps heavy. He sits down on his couch and his pet cat, Suho, comes to curl in his lap. He pets his grey tabby and the animal purrs in satisfaction.

He throws his head back and sighs again. Of all the times and the places to meet Yifan again, he never expected to meet Yifan like this—guns and body-snatching escapades.

He was so surprised to see Yifan again. He truly was taken aback by Yifan’s appearance. He looked cool, calm and collected. And dangerous. Junmyeon is certain Yifan is not a normal citizen. Maybe he is in the mafia. Maybe he is a gangster now. That wouldn’t surprise Junmyeon.

It would suit someone like Wu Yifan to be a gangster. He already had that face—sculpted and created with care. Junmyeon used to be in such awe when he was in school with him. Yifan was everything Junmyeon wanted to be—tall, handsome and cool. But then Yifan started bullying him and the illusion faded. Whenever Yifan bullied him, he waited and wanted to understand why he was being targeted like that. He did notice that Yifan never bullied anyone personally. So why him?

Junmyeon rubs his face. And he tries to erase the image of how good Yifan looked today. He looked like he had walked out of a GQ spread. Cool teenager had turned into a sexy man. With the hand that was poking at the bandage around his head, he slaps his cheek with it. What is he thinking? Yifan is a criminal, he threatened him with a gun, made him tell lies to Taeyeon, his boss and the chief, he also hit him on his head. He wishes he could punch Yifan. Hey, that makes two people Junmyeon would like to punch.

But Taeyeon is right. The matters of the living are not his priority. He can only wish to punish Yifan without losing his life in the process. His life is precious—if not to him then to his mother.

He sighs yet again and looks down at Suho. He says to the cat, “It has been a while since I visited mother.”

Suho simply blinks his yellow eyes as if to say how terrible a son Junmyeon has been to his mother. Junmyeon rolls his eyes, “Fine, fine. Since my evening is free, I will go visit her.”

Suho meows and licks his paws in agreement.

 

Choi Siwon looks down at his phone, wary and uncertain, as if the phone would suddenly turn into a man-eating predator and gobble him whole.

What he was waiting for was a call. And it came after a few seconds. He sighs at the blocked number. He picks it up.

"Yifan moved on his own, he arranged for the body to be taken away," the slightly nasal voice says.

"Who is that?" Siwon asks. He was hoping for good news.

"An employee, and friend in the association."

"So...what now?"

"I have a plan. And it is not going to be pretty."

Siwon rolls his eyes and rubs the bridge of his nose. He wonders if they know how deep the grave they dug themselves is.

Chapter Text

Jung Daehyun had a good day today. His superior was happy with his work and that made him happy. He nearly skips home from the bus stop.

He unlocks his apartment and switches on the lights. He doesn’t see the shadow moving in the kitchen. He registers its presence when it comes to stand behind him.

Daehyun thinks his mind is playing a trick. But he turns around anyway. There is a man standing behind him. He knows him.

“Jun—”

He doesn’t get to finish his sentence when a knife slashes his neck open. Blood gushes out of his wound and he can taste iron on his tongue. He gasps, trying to say something. But he cannot. The figure in front of him becomes a blur as he drops to his knees.

Death catches up to him fast.

 

Junmyeon takes off the sweater he is wearing as he sees the sanatorium getting closer. He had walked all the way from the bus stop and even though it was still chilly in Seoul, walking uphill had made him all hot and bothered. He picks up his pace and enters the clean and serene grounds of Blessed Hearth Home. His mother, Kim Eun-yon had been admitted here five years ago with  Korsakoff's syndrome. Junmyeon was still in college, in his second year when his mother walked out of their small apartment one day and didn’t come back that night. Junmyeon, along with his cousin, Seokjin, who lived near them found her finally, crying on a park bench. She failed to recognise them both and asked for her husband, with whom she have had no contact for three years.

Junmyeon shows the security his identification. The young man smiles, “Ah, you are here after a while.”

Junmyeon scratches his head, “Yeah, you know my job, I can hardly catch a breath.”

“Thursday she remembered you,” the man says. Junmyeon perks up. “But she still thought you were seventeen.”

“That is something,” Junmyeon sighs, “I can live with that.”

The man nods. Junmyeon walks down the corridor to get to the backyard. It was four in the afternoon, his mother likes to be outside during this time.

Life was great till he was seventeen. His father was rich and successful. His mother often published her picture books for children. They were living comfortably. His parents were in love and happy. But then his father got caught in a Ponzi scheme and their world collapsed. The money was gone, their house was gone, his father was in prison. They moved in with his fathers’ sister. His aunt was a widow and she was happy to take care of them. Junmyeon found life hard at seventeen. He wasn’t used to household chores or living in small apartments. But his cousin helped him a lot. They became fast friends. And his mother seemed to be coping well. Mother and son were eagerly waiting for the most important man in their life to return.

But after a year in prison, disaster struck. His father died due to pulmonary hypertension. And his mother started getting depressed as each day passed. He watched his mother age ten years in one single year. Then the alcohol consumption started. He saw his mother wither away with each passing day.

Thank goodness he was a good student and he managed to keep his grades up throughout. He got a good scholarship and got into a good college. Then his mothers’ condition got severe, and Junmyeon was given two choices—either let Eun-yon stay with his aunt (his aunt offered to) or let his mother live in a sanatorium, long-term institutionalisation would prolong her longevity. He chose the latter, he didn’t want to burden his aunt and cousin anymore. They dealt with enough shit anyway. The sanatorium’s monthly fees were paid by Junmyeon after he took a loan from a friend. He started doing small part-time jobs to pay back.

The last nine years were hard. Three of those eased up a little. He had a stable job and he can now support his mother on his own. The nine years matured him beyond his age. He learnt to take care of himself and others. So Wu Yifan became a distant, faded memory. And now he was back. With a gun.

Junmyeon shakes his head. Now is not the time to think about Wu Yifan. He came here for his mother. He spots her right way, sitting with a small smile on her face looking at nothing and everything. His heart lurches. He sometimes looks for the woman he knew, a lively, happy woman who loved to bake and write stories for children (she was a prolific children fiction writer). Now she is just a shell, where the real Eun-yon comes and visits sometimes.

His mothers’ eyes light up when they land on him. His heart picks up pace, maybe just maybe, today she will recognise him. He grins as he walks closer. His mother says as the shine in her eyes die, “Oh, I thought…”

Junmyeon says, still vaguely hopeful, “Yes?”

“I thought you were my husband. You look a lot like him young man.”

He sighs. He takes off his glasses. He sits down beside her and says, just like any other day, “Tell me about your husband then ma’am. You must think about him a lot.”

 

Yifan takes off his jacket as he enters the garage. He usually worked from here. The Kang family had given him the place and he was part owner. The other partner was Luhan, a Chinese expatriate like him. Along with Luhan, the other people working here, on and off, are Kim Jongdae or as Chen, the name given by Luhan, Huang Zitao or simply Tao and Zhang Yixing or Lay. Yifan didn’t want to admit but these four were his only friends. There was another guy called Kim Minseok but he wanted to go clean so he had stopped working here six months ago.

He beelines for the second storey were Luhan’s cool office awaits when Zitao stops him in his track. Yifan scowls, Zitao jerks his head sideways, “A kid called Zelo is in the back, wants to talk with you.”

Yifan nods. He walks to the back where the more illegal repairs happen and spots the tall teenager right away. Yifan didn’t know much about him, even though he had this vague impression that Zelo was somehow related to the Kang family. But Yifan knew one thing, the Kangs were training this kid to become a killer, just like him. He was eighteen when he was handed a gun. Zelo is nineteen.

Every time Yifan sees the boy his heart feels heavy. Yifan was born with the scowl and a deep disregard for life. He hated his life and everyone. He was born and moulded in the drudgery that surrounded him. But Zelo wasn’t. He might have grown a lot taller, gained some muscle, Yifan knew he was still innocent and unsullied deep down. He had met the kid a year ago. And somehow Zelo stuck around.

“Kris-hyung!” Zelo smiles at Yifan when he spots the older man.

Yifan waves and gives half a smile. He comes closer and flicks the boy’s forehead. He says in a low growl, scolding the younger, “What did I tell you? Kill in secluded places and then wait for the disposal team. And what did you do? Leave the body in broad daylight. You will never learn.” And I hope you never learn, run while you still can, Yifan doesn’t finish the sentence.

Zelo ducks his head and says, in a low voice, choked with tears, “I am sorry hyung. I lost control.”

“I saw that. What did you use?”

Zelo frowns at Yifan as if trying to remember, “I used my skateboard to stop him and then used my bat.”

Yifan sighs. Too brutal, too emotional. Zelo is not a born killer. True killers, like him or Luhan, they never choose to show their strength. Poison, a stab in the dark in the right place, a gunshot—all unemotional and clinical. Detached from the victim and feelings. Zelo wasn’t cut out for this. What was Kang thinking?

Yifan asks, “Who was the hapless fellow?”

“Bang Yongguk,” Zelo’s breath catches.

Yifan has questions. He doesn’t understand the petrified expression on Zelo’s face. But he supresses it. He glances down at his watch. He looks at the boy and asks, “Want to get some dinner?”

“Your treat hyung?” Zelo smiles so sweetly, Yifan heart warms. Nope, not a killer, this boy needs to leave this life now while he still can. He is too young for the demons and the darkness that will come to haunt him. He needs to leave before the blood on his hand stains his entire life.

“Of course, you idiot,” Yifan says and wraps his hand around the youngers’ shoulder. Damn, Zelo is as tall as him now. He ruffles Zelo’s artificially dyed blonde hair and chuckles when the younger complains about hair gel and hairstyles.

 

“Send Kwon Jiyong to my office Krystal,” Kang Daesung orders his secretary as he enters his office.

Here, in Gangnam, Kang Daesung was a businessman who was the owner of two hotel chains and was the second best choice when it came to real estate. But in the darker parts of Seoul or when night arrives in Gangnam, he has an empire of crime. An empire built on drugs and black money. And to maintain an empire he needed knights. He called on one of his most important knights, Kwon Jiyong.

He takes a seat and traces a pattern on the glass surface on his table. Then there is a discreet knock on the doors. Daesung says, “Come in.”

The door opens to let Kwon Jiyong in. The slim man dressed in a simple black suit can pass off as any ordinary citizen. And that is his specialty—blending. Hence, Kwon is the right man for this job. He is the best assassin working for him. He is a shadow, when and where he might strike is always a mystery.

Kwon bows. Daesung shakes his head. Kwon is a year older than him. Daesung didn’t need such formalities. He quietly says, “Eliminate the second best.”

Kwon doesn’t say anything, he gets his boss’s cryptic instruction. But Daesung catches the slight twitch near his lips. Kwon Jiyong had questions. Of course he had them, but Daesung need not answer. Jiyong would understand. Shadows like him don’t ask questions.

Chapter Text

Yifan takes Zelo to the younger’s favourite fast food joint. He wasn’t too fond of food like that but he knew the boy liked it and he was feeling indulgent.

Zelo goes to order for them both. Yifan looks for a place to sit. It is a Saturday, so it is crowded with families and young couples on dates. Yifan ruefully looks at a family of four. They were about to leave. But he keeps staring because he wonders if his life would have been different if he had a family. A mother, a father and maybe a sibling. Where would he be now, what would have been he doing?

The family leaves. Yifan breaks out of his reverie and swiftly takes his seat before anyone else can claim the seat.

Zelo finds him after ten minutes. He plops down the trays and gives Yifan his change. Zelo beams, “I ordered the couple special.” Good thing Zelo clarified because Yifan was wondering why his milkshake had a heart drawn on it with chocolate syrup.

“Couple special?” Yifan asks.

“Yeah, they give special discounts to couples!”

“Oh my god Zelo, if you wanted to ask me out you could have done it nicely!” Yifan jokes.

“As if I would date an old geezer like you!”

“Hey I am only twenty-six!”

“Yeah, same thing.” Zelo unwraps his burger and takes a big bite. Yifan does the same.

They converse about what had been going in their lives. Yifan told him a little about meeting an old high school acquaintance. Zelo told him a little more about his older brother. Yifan always wonders why Zelo doesn’t talk about the mysterious older brother much. Or maybe Yifan is again just envious that Zelo has family and he doesn’t.

After they finish eating they walk side by side enjoying the night. It was pleasantly cool. Yifan liked this weather. He liked how spring was around the corner; he likes spring more than winters anyway. His heart is cold and his life is dark, he doesn’t need the weather outside to remind him of it. Beside him Zelo is chatting about his college life. Yes, the boy still managed to go to college and get an education. Something Yifan couldn’t. So when Zelo talked like this, Yifan listened lightly, living vicariously through Zelo. They take an isolated short cut to a bus stop nearest to the garage.

Suddenly, all the hair stands up on Yifan’s neck. He was smoking a cigarette which he drops on the ground and extinguishes it by stepping on it. He yanks on Zelo’s elbow. He whispers, “There is someone following us.”

Zelo is about to ask if his hyung was joking when he remembers who Yifan is. His eyes widen and he swallows his words. “Hyung?”

“Keep walking,” Yifan says, gritting his teeth. His grip on Zelo’s elbow doesn’t loosen.

The two men keep walking when Yifan’s sharp hearing picks up the tell-tale slide of the slide release being pulled back on an automatic pistol. So the killer is planning to keep quite. Probably put a silencer too.

Yifan spots an in-construction building in his peripheral. Perfect. He loosens the grip on Zelo and pulls the younger closer. He puts his lips on Zelo’s ears and whispers, “When I shout the word now, hide.”

“But hyung,” Zelo protests. Yifan claps his hand over the younger’s mouth. Zelo mutely nods.

They enter the building. As soon as they are a few feet in, Yifan shouts, “Now!”

Zelo tears off, his lanky body disappearing in the dark. Yifan pulls out his Desert Eagle and shoots a warning shot pointed at the ground. The bullet pierces the concrete and dust clouds around his feet. Yifan shouts, “Come out you sneaky fucker!”

In retaliation, a single bullet whizzes past Yifan’s ears. He hears it. He touches his ears, he wasn’t hit. He shoots in the direction the other shot came from. He hears the bullet hitting something metallic. Okay, whoever that is, he is well trained. And on his level. The assailant knew Yifan would figure out the direction the bullet came from. Yifan scowls.

He hears footsteps running up. The other killer is going upstairs, probably to get a better view and shot. Yifan squints in the dark and finds the stairs. He follows.

As he gets to the second level, he finds it empty. He hears steps overhead. He frowns at the speed the other got. He hates this man, or woman. He takes the stairs to get to the third storey.

The first two storeys were completed. The walls were raised and windows were fit. But the third floor is incomplete. The walls were only done on one side. The lights from the distance illuminated the place slightly. Yifan smirks. Now they were both equally at an advantage and disadvantage.

Suddenly the air gets knocked out of him. Someone had managed to kick him on his back. Yifan stumbles forward on his knees. His gun slips from his hand. Yifan curses as he gets to his feet and turns around, fists raised. The man ducks.

The man ducks and grabs Yifan’s waist.  Yifan loses his balance and falls flat on his butt. The man straddles him, gun aimed at his heart. Yifan cannot see his face clearly. Yifan uses his long legs and knees the man in his chest. The impact has the man losing his gun which comes to rest in Yifan’s hands.

The two fight over for the control of the gun as soon as the two of them scramble to their feet. In the tussle, the two inch slowly to the incomplete edge. One push and they could both fall.

But suddenly Yifan loses his balance. He almost catches himself when the man uses this as an opening and punches his face.

Yifan feels hard knuckles hit his jaw. His mouth is filled with blood as his teeth clamps over his tongue. He doesn’t manage to catch his fall. The man pushes him, and his back hits nothing, just air. He falls from the third storey.

Gravity does her work as Yifan falls. And falls. He feels air whooshing past his ears. His styled hair dances around his face for a few seconds before he hits the ground. He hears a resounding crack and before his vision blurs, he sees a face on the third floor. He welcomes the darkness that washes over him.

 

Zelo had run outside when he saw a figure falling out of the third storey. He ran outside and looked up. He sees the man who pushed Yifan. He gasps and looks at the man standing on the edge three floors high. The man brings a forefinger to his lips, gesturing Zelo to keep quiet.

The figure vanishes. Zelo takes out his phone with shaky fingers and dials for an ambulance when he realises that Yifan’s chest is still moving. As soon as his call is finished, another call comes in. He says shakily, “Hello?”

“Come to my office as soon as possible,” the voice at the other end says.

 

Junmyeon is out for dinner with his cousin and the two friends he had made in college. Kim Seokjin, his cousin and his friends, Do Kyungsoo and Moon Byul-li, were now teasing Junmyeon about the lack of a love life. Or why Junmyeon is still single.

Kyungsoo and Byul-li were both residents at a prestigious hospital and Seokjin had his own coffee shop. They often met for dinner. Dinner usually meant going to their favourite noodle place and making a lot of noise. Even if all them were loud and atrocious, Junmyeon still loved their company. It was refreshing after all the death and doom he was surrounded in.

“So what about that Helicon guy you were going gaga about?” Byul-li asks.

“Hakyeon, Hak-yeon,” Junmyeon rolls his eyes. His tiny crush on his colleague wasn’t unknown to his group. “It is Cha Hakyeon and I don’t even know if he is into guys.”

“Haha, you showed us his graduation photo,” Seokjin says, “He might as well be. Plus, his skin glows, I bet he uses a thousand face products.”

Kyungsoo rolls his eyes, “Just because you put two hundred skin care products on your face before going to bed doesn’t mean that Hakyeon does. It also doesn’t imply that a man using a face cream instantly becomes gay. Don’t project yourself on others Jin.”

Seokjin pouts. Byul-li pats his shoulder. Junmyeon eats his noodles in silence. Byul-li takes a sip of her beer and says, “But seriously dude, your single as fuck status makes me weep.”

Junmyeon rolls his eyes again, “Please guys. I don’t need a boyfriend that desperately. I have Suho.”

“Yup, you are well on your way to become a crazy cat lady hyung,” Seokjin says and nods his head. Byul-li nods along.

Kyungsoo says, “They are right. I don’t want you to become a crazy cat lady. You already have a morbid profession. All you need is a few more cats, then you might take to taxidermy and start stuffing the cats who die.”

Byul-li widens her eyes at Kyungsoo, “Bro, how does your brain work?”

Junmyeon blankly blinks at his friend. Seriously how does the great Do Kyungsoo’s brain work? Byul-li turns her attention to Junmyeon again, “Hey, how did you get that by the way?” She points at the bandage on his head.

His hand touches the wound on reflex. He goes with another story, “Hit my head on the autopsy table.”

“What?”

“Yeah, dropped my scalpel and when I was getting up on my feet again I banged my head hard on the edge.” He desperately wishes they buy his story.

“Oh my god now you will get dead people cooties!” Seokjin squeals. They buy it then.

The three medical students swerve their heads to glare at Seokjin. The entrepreneur raises his hands and says, “Okay, okay, my far more intelligent friends, I know you cannot get dead people cooties because the tables are always sterilised.”

Kyungsoo huffs when his phone starts ringing. He picks it up. He doesn’t say much as he listens intently. When he disconnects the call he looks at Junmyeon, “We need to go.”

“Huh?”

“Byul-li you too.”

“What?” Byul-li asks, mouthful of fried chicken.

“There is a dead body at the morgue. The EMT bought it over to our hospital since the police morgue is full.”

“And my morgue is the closest,” Junmyeon says.

“You just said ‘my morgue’,” Seokjin frowns. But he waves his hand, “Go, you morbid people, go. I will take care of the bill.”

The three give their heartfelt thanks and hurriedly leave. 

 

Junmyeon puts his gloves and glasses and gets to work. The body in front of him is male, in his early twenties and cause of death is definitely due to the wound on his neck. It is a clean cut to the carotid artery. The slice is deep and thorough. There are no jagged cuts along the flesh. It was done in one swift motion. The killer definitely did not hesitate.

He pulls his glasses off and tells his assumptions to the tall man standing beside him. He doesn’t dare look directly at him.

Cha Hakyeon nods his head, “Yes, seems about it. I will write the report; you wait for the boss?”

Junmyeon nods his head. He puts his gloved fingers over the dead man’s open eyes and pulls down the eyelids. Poor thing. He seemed too young to die.

The three of them had reached the hospital as quickly as possible. He had found Hakyeon waiting for him. The sight of the tall, caramel-skinned man had Junmyeon nearly taking a three sixty degree turn and walking out of the hospital but then he hears Byul-li snickering. Nope, he is Dr Kim Junmyeon, the professional. He can be Junmyeon the Hopeless Idiot Crushing on His Colleague later.

Hakyeon waved them over and briefly told him that their boss, Choi Seung-hyun, had asked the hospital to house the body till their morgue could be cleared. The boss had given them permission to make preliminary observations till he arrived.

So now, he found himself alone with Hakyeon. The object of his hapless crush is scribbling away. Junmyeon looks at him out of the corner of his eyes.

Cha Hakyeon is a wonderful person. He is like sunshine in the gloom of the workplace. He always made Junmyeon smile. And poor Junmyeon found himself stupidly attracted like a moth to the flame.

Just then the doors to the small examination room swings open and in walks in their boss, the man Junmyeon had cursed at least twenty times today. Choi Seung-hyun casually strolls in and glances once at Hakyeon, then at the body and finally at Junmyeon, who stands there with an impassive, cold face. Seung-hyun knows the reason behind that cold glare, so he smiles and waves at Junmyeon.

Junmyeon isn’t impressed. He has a bandage on his head.

Hakyeon watches them both and laughs, “Junmyeon-sshi wishes the bandage was on your head!”

“I know, I know, and I am very, very sorry,” Seung-hyun bows his head and claps his hands together.

“I need four days off in March if you want to prove you are indeed very, very sorry,” Junmyeon says.

Hakyeon laughs, “Ever the opportunist!”

Junmyeon grins and shrugs his shoulders. Seung-hyun says, “Oh my, yes! Four days off guaranteed!” Junmyeon’s bright smile eases Seung-hyun, “Okay then, what are your first impressions gentlemen?”

 

The body gets taken to the police morgue. Hakyeon and Seung-hyun leave before him. Junmyeon stayed back to say his goodbyes to Byul-li and Kyungsoo. He takes the elevator to the ground floor at the ER where the two residents work. He spots Byul-li when the ER’s doors bang open. A team of EMTs arrive wheeling in a gurney. Junmyeon hears one of them say, “Male, fall from third storey. Serious head injury!”

Byul-li, who was nearest, runs over and does a quick check. She shouts, “Prepare an OT now and get hold of a surgeon! There is massive bleeding and multiple fractures!”

Junmyeon had gotten closer automatically. Curiosity tickling him when he spots a pair of expensive shoes peeking out from the wall of people hovering around the gurney. He comes closer and peers over the shoulder of a nurse. He sees the inert body of tall man with dark hair wearing a neck brace.

He gasps and clamps a hand over his mouth. Byul-li notices him. She asks, “Jun? You know him?”

“Yes. His name is Yifan. Wu Yifan.”

As if on cue, Yifan’s eyes flutter open and his gaze is directly on Junmyeon. Yifan’s mouth moves but no sound comes out. Then he loses his consciousness again as another team of nurses wheel him away from the ER.

Byul-li whistles when they are left alone, “He tried saying ‘Junmyeon’ I think.”

Chapter Text

Junmyeon finds himself unable to move or go home. He stays in the hospital. He was pacing back and forth in front of the operation theatre.

He really, really cannot explain himself. He doesn’t know what he is doing here. He had no reason to be here. He isn’t Yifan’s relative, or a friend for fuck’s sake! But he finds himself immobile and worried. Yifan’s injuries looked serious.  The EMTs said he fell from the third storey. He wonders if Yifan had jumped. No, that doesn’t seem like something Yifan would do. Maybe he was pushed? He bites down on his lower lip. What has he gotten himself into?

But back to his original question: what the fuck is he actually doing here?

He sits down in one of the plastic chairs lined in front of the OT. He puts his head in his hands and groans. Is he here because Yifan spared his life? Yifan could have easily killed him. He had a gun while Junmyeon was unarmed. Instead Yifan spared him, risked an eyewitness to his crime.

But also Yifan injured him. And made him lie to his bosses and friends. Yifan was his bully in high school so what was he doing here, worrying over a man that didn’t matter in his life?

Suddenly he feels a slight pressure on his shoulder. His head jerks up and he sees Kyungsoo smiling down at him. Junmyeon notices a large Styrofoam cup with a straw in his hands. This is what people call de ja vu. Kyungsoo hums as he sits down beside Junmyeon, “Here, your favourite peach tea.”

“Is it iced?” Junmyeon reaches for the cup.

“Ever heard of warm peach tea?” Kyungsoo scowls as he hands Junmyeon the cup.

Junmyeon sips quietly. Kyungsoo asks, “So, how do you know this guy? Romantic potential?”

The peach tea goes down his air pipe instead. He coughs as Kyungsoo rubs comforting circles on his back. He splutters, drops of liquid flying everywhere, “God, no. Yifan is not a potential for anything.”

“Then who is he? I thought you were a serious introvert whose only friends are yours truly, Byul and Jin. And that nice lady cop friend of yours.”

“I knew him in high school…I met him recently.”

“Oh. He is quite handsome. I hope the operation is successful.”

“Yeah.”

Despite everything, Junmyeon prays that Yifan survives. Because he acknowledges that he is alive due to Yifan’s mercy today. He doesn’t want Yifan to die.

Suddenly a phone starts ringing. Kyungsoo and Junmyeon look at each other quizzically. Kyungsoo doesn’t have his phone on him and Junmyeon’s ringtone is some The Weeknd song. This ringtone is some piano instrumental. Junmyeon looks down at the little plastic bag beside him. It contained all Yifan’s immediate belongings like his phone, car keys (a Porsche!), house keys, wallet and a lighter. His phone was ringing.

“It’s Yifan’s,” Junmyeon says.

“Pick it up, could be family,” Kyungsoo comments.

Or a girlfriend, Junmyeon wonders wryly (wait why does he care?). He fishes the phone out of the bag. He squints at the caller name. What is a ‘Lay’? He swipes the accept icon and puts the phone to his ear.

“Gē, nǐ zài nǎlǐ?” the voice says rapidly.

“Excuse me? Hello, I don’t speak Mandarin. Um, this is Kim Junmyeon, Yifan cannot come to the phone right now,” Junmyeon says.

“Oh, wait what?” the caller switches to Korean.

“Yifan was, um, in an accident. He is here,” Junmyeon gives the name of the hospital, “He is still in the OT.”

“Oh my God, I am coming!”

The call disconnects. Kyungsoo asks, “So his family is coming?”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon says, not sure. The guy spoke in Mandarin. Maybe he is family.

“I will go do my rounds,” Kyungsoo gets up, “Call me if you need something. I will keep my phone on me, okay?”

Junmyeon nods as Kyungsoo leaves.

Thirty minutes pass. The doors are still closed, the sign above the door was blaring red still. He hears footsteps behind him and his heart drops to the floor as he turns around.

Yixing had arrived at the hospital with Luhan in tow. Yixing halts in his track when he sees Junmyeon. The two men look at each other, mouth hanging open and eyes wide. Yixing is the first to break the awkward, tense silence, “You.”

“You,” Junmyeon parrots, breathless.

“Uh, hi, I am Luhan,” the slim, other good-looking man comes forward, extending his hand towards Junmyeon, “So, can you tell us what happened? Kris, I mean Yifan is a dear friend of us.”

Yixing mumbles something in Mandarin to Luhan whose doe-shaped eyes widen. He smiles sadly at Yixing who shakes his head. Junmyeon is confused but he takes Luhan’s hand anyway and firmly shakes it, “I am Kim Junmyeon. Was it you over the phone?” Luhan shakes his head and points at Yixing. “Oh, well the thing is, somewhere after nine Yifan was brought here severely injured. He, uh, fell from the third floor. His skull is cracked and his left leg is fractured. The doctors are trying to stop the internal bleeding. It has already been an hour.”

Yixing sighs and sits down, rubbing his forehead. Luhan pats Junmyeon’s shoulders and smiles, “Thank you for helping him. But you should go home Junmyeon-sshi, you look tired.”

Junmyeon looks over his shoulders at the closed door. Luhan was right. He should leave. He is tired. He has been up since five in the morning. He has no business being here. Yifan had his friends, or family here. His job here is done. He smiles at Luhan and then curtly nods at Yixing. Then he collects his bag and leaves. He will text Kyungsoo later.

As soon as Junmyeon has disappeared around the bend of the corridor Luhan asks, slipping back into Chinese, “How do you know him?”

“Remember I told you about the guy ge didn’t kill today?” Yixing says as he leans back and puts his hands in his pockets, “That is him.”

“Well, he is quite a looker,” Luhan grins.

“Control your thirst,” Yixing rolls his eyes.

“Anyway,” Luhan’s face hardens, “Go see if you can find where they found Yifan. His gun might be there.” When Yixing looks blankly at him, Luhan explains, “The cops aren’t here, what does that mean? His gun was not on his person. It is still at the scene. I don’t think he simply “fell” or jumped. This feels fishy.”

Yixing gets to his feet and nods his head, “I will get to it.”

Luhan watches Yixing leave. He looks at the doors to the OT and sighs. He prays Yifan makes it out alive. He has to. He owes Yifan his second chance at life.

Luhan was Xiao Lu back in Beijing. He was a simple man—pushing drugs when required to make some extra cash on the side, he mostly worked for the government executing smaller people the bigger people found to be an annoyance. He had no family, no attachments. But he fucked up one major case. He fled to Seoul after his bosses jumped to falsely accuse him and send him to prison. But he was found. He was going to be killed when Yifan swooped in and saved his sorry ass. Since then, he has been under Yifan’s protection. It was four years ago. Now, he was safe. And Yifan had become a good friend. He didn’t want to lose his friend.

But another thought pops up in his head—who could have overpowered Yifan like this? Wu Yifan is a dangerous man, to have him lose like this means someone stronger out there exists and it makes Luhan very, very anxious.

 

Junmyeon enters his apartment for the second time today feeling like shit. His head throbs a little as he takes off his shoes. He heads straight for his bedroom, not even bothering to look for Suho which is the first thing he does whenever he comes home. He heads straight towards the showers and starts peeling off his clothes and just dumps them on the floor. He stands under the hot stream of water and lets the water do its magic on the knots on his shoulders.

When the water starts to run cold, Junmyeon exits the shower. He doesn’t even bother with clothes as he puts clean shorts on and falls chest first on his bed. He feels a dip on the bed. He feels soft fur brush along his bare torso.

Suho curls up against his shoulder. Junmyeon pets him and says, “You wouldn’t believe the day I had.”

Suho yawns and blinks at him as if to say tell me more.

 

Next morning arrives too quickly for Junmyeon’s liking. His alarm clock screams shrilly at six. His shift starts at eight today. He wakes up and slams his hand on the little digital clock.

He goes through his morning routine. The thought of Wu Yifan never leaving the back of his mind. He quickly sends a text to Kyungsoo. Ten minutes later as Junmyeon eats his breakfast, he gets a reply. He nearly cries in relief. The surgery was successful. Yifan is stable but unconscious.

Then Junmyeon feels like slamming his head against his refrigerator door because why the fuck is he relieved at this news? Why does he care? Well, he would have been upset if Yifan had died or something…

“No, no, no Wu Yifan is no longer your concern,” he says out loud. Suho, who was drinking water from his bowl looks up at Junmyeon’s outrage and tilts his head. Junmyeon shouts, “What?”

Suho simply swishes his tail twice in the air and leaves the kitchen.

Junmyeon swears his cat isn’t normal.

He gets to work after he fills Suho’s water and food bowl. He drives down the two blocks to Seokjin’s café, Butterfly. He always got his morning coffee here. It was free after all.

He pushes the door and since it was early, the preparation for the day was going on in full swing. The smell of freshly baked bread and other baked goodies greeted him as soon as he entered. He closes his eyes and sniffs, feeling relaxed and happy.

“Ah, Junmyeon!” Seokjin’s employee and the star barista, Kim Minseok calls for him.

Junmyeon smiles and leans against the counter. Minseok is cleaning the espresso machine. He says, “Hold on for a while okay? I am almost done cleaning this. I will get your Americano in a few minutes.”

“It is okay Minseok, take your time,” Junmyeon smiles. He liked Minseok. He is so agreeable and cute. And he is terribly good at coffee. “Where is my dear cousin?”

“Interviewing this new kid for the night shift.”

“That sounds stressful.”

“Yup, he has been on the search for a week already. I hope Jeon Jungkook makes the cut. I cannot handle a fuming, stressed, sleepless Kim Seokjin.”

“He is hardly tolerable when he is not fuming, stressed or sleepless.”

“Ah, oppa, don’t let him hear you say that,” a voice chirps. Junmyeon looks sideways to see Ahn Hee-yeon, Seokjin’s star baker, coming to the counter with a handful of breakfast muffins. She picks out a muffin and offers it to him, “A special Sunday cranberry muffin for Junmyeon?”

“Thank you,” Junmyeon grins and breaks the muffin in smaller pieces, offering them to Minseok and Hee-yeon. They take it. They eat and talk about how horrible it is to work on Sundays when Seokjin comes out from his office, a tall young boy trailing behind him. Junmyeon assumes this is the part-time worker Seokjin was interviewing. Hee-yeon quips, “Wow, boy are you even legal? You have such a baby face!”

Minseok chuckles behind his coffee machine as he prepares Junmyeon’s usual coffee, slightly sweetened Americano. The boy, or Jungkook huffs, “I am nineteen and a music major!”

Hee-yeon raises her eyebrows, “You are cute, dear maknae.”

Jungkook gets flustered and his face reddens. Seokjin says, “Enough Hee-yeon. Tomorrow will be his first day. Don’t traumatise him yet.”

“Oh he is hired?” Minseok says as he gives Junmyeon his order, “Then welcome young man!” He smiles at Jungkook and shakes his hand.

Hee-yeon leans across the counter and shakes Jungkook’s hand. But just as he was about to let her hand go, she winks and says in a low voice, “Welcome to Butterfly Jungkookie.”

“Hee-yeon,” Seokjin warns as Jungkook’s face gets even more redder.

Junmyeon laughs, “You guys make my day. Bye all of you, see you later! And welcome to Butterfly, Jungkook-sshi.”

The cheerful employees and the grumpy boss (and a very flustered newbie) waves him goodbye. Junmyeon heads for his office. He likes his mornings because coming to Butterfly makes him appreciate the good things in his life. He sips his coffee. Minseok is so damn fucking good at coffee.

 

The morning, which bleeds into the afternoon, finds him writing his reports on the body found yesterday. He was identified as one Jung Daehyun. He had recently joined an advertising firm and moved in his new apartment. The body was found in his apartment. Apparently he hadn’t even given a housewarming party. The apartment was instead christened in blood which will be scrubbed down and the place will be put on the market again. Junmyeon feels a bit upset about that.

“Ah, Junmyeon, you can’t let every death affect you,” a voice says. Junmyeon was hunched over the table in his office, he raises his head to see his friend, Amber Liu, police officer, standing at the entrance. She walks in and plops down on the chair opposite.

“What do you mean?” Junmyeon asks, whipping his glasses off.

“You had that face, eyebrows drawn, sad frown going on. It usually means you are upset and thinking. Since you are writing reports, I can safely assume this victim saddens you.”

“Hmm,” no denying that, Junmyeon admits.

“Say isn’t this your break time? Shouldn’t you be getting your lunch?”

“Ah yeah, right,” Junmyeon realises.

“Oh Junmyeon,” Amber chuckles.

Suddenly, he thinks of Yifan. He had been successful not thinking about him for the last seven hours. But now he is filled with an unexplainable emotional. He gets up and says, “I am meeting a friend for lunch, I nearly forgot. Thanks Amber!”

Amber says something in return but Junmyeon doesn’t hear it as he grabs his coat and car keys. He needs to go see how Yifan is doing.

 

Yixing and Luhan had been at the hospital whole night, guarding Yifan especially after Yixing had returned late that night to say that yes, Luhan was right, Yifan’s gun was there; and there were tell-tale signs of a struggle. Yixing also reported that he found bullets from a Magnum along with bullets from Yifan’s Desert Eagle. Also the ambulance was called there by someone, and when the EMTs got there, there was no one. They didn’t risk leaving Yifan then. He was unconscious and vulnerable. They only left in the morning when Jongdae and Zitao arrived to take their place. Luhan and Yixing gave a brief account of everything. Even if Jongdae lacked in muscle, they can entrust Yifan’s safety on Zitao.

Jongdae sits beside Yifan’s bedside. Zitao had taken a bathroom break. Jongdae is hungry. He was about to yawn for the nth time when the door opened to present a short, light-skinned man with auburn hair. Jongdae stands up and scowls. Is he an assailant?

But then Jongdae looks closer. No, this man doesn’t look like a criminal. The man notices Jongdae. He bows slightly, “I am Kim Junmyeon.”

Jongdae’s lip curl up into a smile, “Oh, that Kim Junmyeon.”

Junmyeon is startled, “Excuse me?”

Jongdae waves his hands, “I am Chen. I work for Kris-ge. Lay-ge and Luhan-ge told me about you.”

“Oh,” Junmyeon quietly says. Chen just called Yifan Kris, just like Luhan did, almost, last night.

“Um, Junmyeon-sshi, do you mind sitting here? I am kind of hungry. I promise I will be back soon!”

Junmyeon smiles and nods his head. The blinding smile that Jongdae sends him nearly makes Junmyeon forget that this nice looking young man just might be a criminal as well ("work for Kris-ge"...huh). Fuck, how did he get to this point in his life?

He takes the seat Jongdae vacated. He looks at Yifan. The lower part of his head is wrapped in bandages. There are numerous tubes attached to his body. Junmyeon takes a good look at Yifan. He admits that Yifan had, indeed, grown up to be drop-dead gorgeous. The kind of looks that would make anyone stop and try to take a second look.

Junmyeon drops his gaze as he feels his cheeks heat up. He is blushing. He has officially lost it. Wait, he lost it last night itself when he stayed in the hospital till Yifan's friends arrive. He doesn’t understand why he is so involved. Especially when he now he is starting to become more sure that Yifan is a dangerous man.

Junmyeon, the professional had seen the small signs of struggle (he cannot believe he made observations on a live man like that, he performed an autopsy on a living human being). He sees the bruise blooming an angry purple on Yifan’s sharp jawline. Someone punched him, and hard. Yifan probably bit his tongue. He notices the small scratch marks around his large hands. There was a struggle for something that was in his hands. A gun maybe? He remembered Yifan keeping his gun on his person (he pulled it out in front of Junmyeon after all) and his gun wasn’t in his belongings.

Hence, Junmyeon comes to the conclusion that Yifan was pushed. Yifan is dangerous (or maybe not) if someone wanted to kill him.

He is absently trailing his fingers over Yifan’s large hands when he hears the blanket shifting.

Junmyeon looks at Yifan who has his eyes opened. Junmyeon smiles, Yifan is awake!

But then the smile dies when Yifan croaks, his voice dry due to dehydration, “Who are you?”

Chapter Text

“Who are you?”

“Uh?” Junmyeon asks, his eyes widening, “Yifan?”

“Who is Yifan?” says the man himself.

Oh fuck, Junmyeon thinks. Oh fuck no. Yifan better be joking.

Yifan tries sitting up but Junmyeon gently pushes him down. He smiles, “You are very badly hurt. You shouldn’t move.”

Yifan’s eyes widen in shock, and they are glistening, “B-but where am I?” He grabs on to Junmyeon’s arms that were placed on his shoulders. His sad, confused face is making Junmyeon more alarmed by the second. He still hopes Yifan is pranking him.

“You are in a hospital,” Junmyeon reassures. He is internally screaming. Fuck, Yifan is not joking.

“Oh,” Yifan’s eyes dart around, “Why am I here?”

“As I said you were badly hurt. Look,” Junmyeon tries removing his hands from Yifan’s shoulders but the man just grips him harder, “Yifan, yeah that is your name, I need to get a doctor, okay? You need a doctor.”

“No, please don’t go, please don’t leave me alone!” Yifan’s lips start quivering and Junmyeon can’t find the resolve to leave and go search for a doctor.

The door opens at that time and Zitao enters with Jongdae in tow. The two look on in bemusement at the scene in front of them. Yifan cries, “Who are they?”

Junmyeon shouts, “GET A DOCTOR NOW!”

Jongdae hurries away without a question. Junmyeon recognises the taller guy. He asks, “You are?”

“Tao,” Zitao says, he is very confused as to why Kris-ge was clinging onto this man like that.

“Tao, I think Yifan has memory loss.”

Zitao says nothing, just loudly inhales and exhales. This is quite a turn of events.

 

Saturday midnight, March 6, 2016, Gangnam

Zelo waits for the man in front of him to say something, anything. But Kang Daesung is more interested to look out of the window.

Daesung speaks, finally, “Do you know why you are here?”

“No,” Zelo whispers.

“Two strikes Zelo. One for leaving Bang Yongguk’s body out in the open and two, for being at the wrong place at the wrong time.”

“I am sorry hyung,” Zelo says in a tiny voice.

“I don’t need to tell you that you can’t tell anyone that you saw Kwon Jiyong tonight.”

“I won’t tell anyone hyung. You can trust me!”

“Good. But…Jiyong messed up…” Daesung gets lost in his thoughts.

Zelo says, his voice shaking, “Hyung? Why did you want to hurt Yifan-hyung? He is a good person.”

“No person is good here, my dear brother,” Daesung sighs. “Now, don’t tell anyone anything. You don’t want to disappoint your hyung right?”

Zelo shakes his head vigorously. He will kill himself before he can disappoint his hyung.

 

Zhang Yixing couldn’t wait. He makes a quick detour to the boss’s headquarters in Gangnam before heading back for the hospital. Since he was Yifan’s team member, he had quick and easy access to the building. He takes the lift to the thirtieth floor. He steps out and sees Krystal not in her usual post. But then he remembers it is midnight and Krystal never stays that late. So he makes haste and gets closer to the door.

The door was ajar. He sees Daesung talking to someone. He can’t see the person since he had his back towards the door.

And he hears the entire conversation between Daesung and Zelo.

He leaves with his heart pounding and head aching. He wants to tell Luhan when he meets him again (the journey from the HQ to the hospital was a blur) but stops.

Maybe he heard wrong. Maybe he assumed wrong. There has to be another explanation for what he overheard.

So he doesn’t tell Luhan anything. Yet.

 

Present day, March 8, 2016

Sunday went great for Junmyeon. Yifan had worked himself to a frenzy, refusing to let Junmyeon go. There was screaming and crying and Yifan refusing to let his friends get close to him. He would only allow Junmyeon to be near him. Yifan was basically a baby chick who lost his mother and Junmyeon was the mother hen in the area and poor baby chick got attached.

Junmyeon finally frees himself when the doctors give Yifan sedatives. The fool had thrashed around so much that stitches on his head had torn open. So he was unconscious again and dragged back into the OT. Junmyeon dragged himself to the office only to find a worried Hakyeon awaiting him. It took a lot of self-control to not crash against Hakyeon’s chest and start sobbing.

He had left for home early after his boss saw his condition. He felt eternally grateful.

However, Monday morning finds him back at the hospital again. This time Kyungsoo called. And his words bounced around his head.

“Junmyeon, he is creating trouble again! Please come over at once! He is refusing treatment! He keeps asking for the angel-like person who was here yesterday. And I am two hundred percent sure that he means you!”

Junmyeon doesn’t take his car. He takes the bus. He is too emotionally distraught now to drive (Yifan called him an angel, no angel-like, what). He doesn’t want to end up as another corpse on Hakyeon’s autopsy table. He doesn’t visit Butterfly, even though he can feel his body complaining about the absence of his early morning caffeine fix.

He arrives at his destination. He notices his reflection on the glass covered advertisement board in the bus stop shelter and an exhausted escapes his lips. He didn’t even comb his hair. He walks to the hospital entrance. He is mildly surprised to find Kyungsoo waiting at the entrance for him. He spots Junmyeon and waves his hands.

Junmyeon is taken aback at Kyungsoo’s appearance. His facial hair makes an appearance and there are bags under his eyes. On a closer inspection Junmyeon notices how glazed his eyes are—probably running on caffeine.

“Junmyeon what are those?” Kyungsoo points at Junmyeon’s choice of clothes. Okay he put on his jeans and an unwashed hoodie. at least he is wearing clothes (he dropped his daekbokki on it).

Junmyeon rolls his eyes, “I don’t give two fucks about it.”

“You are using cuss words this early,” Kyungsoo chuckles.

“Why are you on Yifan’s case?”

“Dr Lee, the doctor assigned to Wu Yifan, was looking for a resident to help with the scans. I was available. He worked me all night.”

“Aw poor you.”

“Don’t, please.”

“But why did he throw a tantrum for me?”

“He saw you first. And honestly, you kind of have a pleasant, trustworthy face. I wouldn’t blame Yifan for trusting you instantly. After all he is confused and he doesn’t even know who he is. You just happened to be there and appeal to him.”

Junmyeon groans. While talking they had reached Yifan’s room. Kyungsoo opens the door for Junmyeon.

The stupid cute, dorky, gummy smile that Yifan gives Junmyeon as soon as he enters halts him. He had no idea that Wu Yifan can smile like that. It is so bright and sunshine-y that Junmyeon forgets how to breathe for a while.

Kyungsoo says, “Here you go Yifan-sshi. Junmyeon is here. Now will you take your medicines?”

“Yes,” Yifan nods his head.

Kyungsoo leaves them alone. Yifan is sitting and reaches for Junmyeon with his hand outstretched. Junmyeon looks confused but raises his hand. Yifan entwines their fingers together. Junmyeon sits down on the bed. Unconsciously he starts rubbing circles over Yifan’s knuckles with his thumb. He ignores the irregular ‘ba-dum-thump’ of his heart.

“Were you the one that said you wouldn’t take your meds if the angel-like person didn’t come?”

Yifan shyly nods his head. Oh be still Kim Junmyeon’s heart.

“I am angel-like?” Junmyeon giggles despite himself. He feels his irritation reducing little by little.

“Yes,” Yifan whispers and looks down on his lap.

“Where are your friends?”

“Friends?” Yifan frowns, “I don’t know. They scare me Junmyeon. I don’t like the tall one, he has scary eyes.”

“Yifan…”

“And Yifan feels so strange. I am speaking in Korean even though I know my name is Chinese. Nothing makes sense anymore.”

Without really realising what Junmyeon was doing, his free hand rises and places itself on Yifan’s cheek. He says as kindly as possible, “I am sure you will remember.” And then Junmyeon will have to leave because Yifan and he aren’t friends.

The door opens. Junmyeon turns around and quickly drops his hand from Yifan’s cheek. A man in his forties enters with Kyungsoo in tow. A nurse trails behind them both. The man, who Junmyeon assumes is Dr Lee, says, “Ready for your meds Yifan?”

Yifan gulps and nods. He looks back at Junmyeon and says, “You won’t leave right?”

Say yes, say yes, say yes. But instead Junmyeon says, “No, I won’t leave.”

The gummy smile aimed at him has his foolish heart skipping a beat.

 

Yifan’s medicines had been administered. He had feeling sleepy so Junmyeon left him, promising him to come back, in search for coffee. He meets Kyungsoo waiting for him outside. He asks, “So what is exactly wrong with Yifan?”

“Post-traumatic amnesia. The anterior temporal lobe dealt with the shock of the injury. He fell from a considerable height,” Kyungsoo replies while stifling a yawn.

“So he remembers nothing about what happened to him? Also the people he knows?”

“Something like that.”

“But post-traumatic amnesia isn’t permanent.”

“Yeah…he may regain his memories in a few days, weeks, or months. Till then, he needs to be taken care of twenty-four seven.”

“Hmm. What about his injuries?”

“The one on his head will hurt for a while. He will get horrible, horrible headaches. He got a thick skull, we are lucky no bone fragment embedded the brain. His left leg is fractured. It is a simple fracture. It will take six to eight weeks to heal. Overall I give physical recovery three months.”

“Whoa, he needs constant care then. But who is going to take care of him after he is discharged?”

Kyungsoo smirks mischievously, “You could. I mean he seems to trust no one but you.”

Junmyeon looks at Kyungsoo in ill-concealed horror. Kyungsoo face gets stuck somewhere between laughing and yawning. Junmyeon shakes his head, “That is it, I am taking you to Jin’s place. You need sleep.”

“I get off in fifteen minutes anyway,” Kyungsoo says.

“Nope. We are leaving now. I guess Yifan would be knocked out for a few hours right? I am taking you with me.” Junmyeon crosses his arms and glares at Kyungsoo.

Kyungsoo chuckles, “You got your mom face on. Fine, fine wait for me, let me change out of my scrubs.”

 

Junmyeon had taken Kyungsoo to Butterfly and deposited him on Seokjin’s bed (Seokjin occupied the floor over Butterfly). He even managed to get his caffeine fix. He returns to the hospital and finds the trio of Luhan, Chen and Yixing seated around a sleeping Yifan.

Junmyeon had bought himself a bag of muffins from Butterfly to be shared with Yifan. Luhan eyes the paper bag. Junmyeon shyly offers, “Um, muffins?”

Chen happily takes one and passes one to Luhan who divides it between Yixing and himself. Chen chirps, “Mmm blueberries. I love blueberries!”

“These are nice,” Yixing smiles after taking a bite, his dimple showing.

Luhan nods his head as he chews. He swallows and says, “Junmyeon-sshi?”

Junmyeon was busy stuffing himself with a lemon and poppy seed muffin (he missed breakfast after all) when Luhan takes his name. He chokes a little. Chen passes him the water. When his coughing fit is over, he says, “Yeah?”

“I have a favour to ask you. We talked to the doctor. He told us about Yifan’s condition and all the aftercare he will require. Since he may not regain his memory anytime soon, and he refuses to let us get close to him, could you, uh, could you take care of him after he gets discharged from here in a week? He has no family…just us.”

“We will help you as much as we can!” Yixing says.

“I,” Junmyeon is a bit speechless. He wonders if this Kyungsoo’s doing, he did say the same thing. “Uh,” he glances at Yifan’s sleeping form, “Okay.”

Luhan beams at him. He grabs Junmyeon’s hands and says, “Here take our numbers,” he presses a piece of paper in Junmyeon’s hands, “Call us whenever. We will try to do our very best!”

Junmyeon nods and tries smiling. His facial muscles refuse to cooperate. Suddenly he remembers, “A week? He will be discharged from here in a week? Isn’t that too soon?”

Luhan fumbles. Junmyeon need not know that Yixing had bribed the administration to let Yifan go earlier than required. Junmyeon doesn’t need to know that Jongdae looked him up, they know he is a medical examiner, that he isn’t completely inept to take care of Yifan. And Junmyeon especially doesn’t need to know that with him is the safest (Yixing had finally told Luhan and Jongdae his eavesdropping adventures) Yifan will be since Junmyeon doesn’t associate with their world.

Jongdae saves Luhan by saying, “The doctor said Yifan is stronger than most.”

Junmyeon nods his head. Yixing gets up from his seat, “We should be leaving. We don’t want Yifan-ge to work himself up as soon as he sees us.”

Junmyeon bows as the three of them leave him alone with Yifan.

Chapter Text

They call him Yifan. So he started to refer to himself as such. They said he will be out of this hospital in a week. Junmyeon will take him home. He doesn’t know where ‘home’ is. But he blindly trusts Junmyeon.

When he had woken up from his seemingly endless dream, he had seen Junmyeon’s face first. And even though he was confused and scared, when he heard Junmyeon’s soft voice and looked into Junmyeon’s deep, gentle eyes, he felt his confusion lessening. He just knew he could trust Junmyeon. His head felt heavy and his body hurt, but Junmyeon’s firm grip on his shoulder anchored him down. Quieted the thundering in his head.

He didn’t remember his name, or what he is. He doesn’t even know how Junmyeon knows him. He cannot recognise the four people who came to visit him but he felt angry and upset when they looked at him sadly, he could see their silent pleading for him to recognise them. He cries in his sleep. He feels so lost. To not know why he exists is tearing him apart. To know that he is here, a body of flesh and bones and skin, yet not understanding why is upsetting him. He tries, he really tries hard to remember his life but nothing comes up. His dreams are just an endless tunnel of darkness and silence. He heard someone screaming once. He couldn’t figure out if it was him or someone else. He is here, in body, mind and soul, yet he is not. He understands the conundrum he is trapped in. And he is afraid it might drive him mad.

But at least there is Junmyeon. It has been four days since he has been in this hospital. Junmyeon comes twice a day, once during lunch and again during the evening. He doesn’t stay too long but Yifan looked forward to those visits very eagerly (also he likes the muffins, cookies or cupcakes Junmyeon would sometimes bring along with him in the evenings).

Yifan is reading this book in English and wondering how does he know to read in English. The sound of the door opening makes Yifan raise his head. It is the nice doctor with the big eyes, Dr Do.

Kyungsoo says, “How are you feeling today Mr Wu?”

“Better,” Yifan closes his book, “Doctor? Can I ask you something?”

Kyungsoo nods his head as he checks the charts. Yifan continues, “I am Chinese right? But I am speaking Korean. And I realised I know how to read in English. How is this possible?”

Kyungsoo smiles, “The brain is a peculiar organ. And what you have is psychological amnesia. The head injury shocked your system. Language is a developed skill, maybe that is why you remember how to read in English and speak in Korean.”

“Will my memories return?”

“Yes they will.”

“When?”

“It could be today, it could be tomorrow, it could be next week or even next month.”

Yifan hums in comprehension. “I don’t remember how my injuries happened…”

“It was an accident most likely,” Kyungsoo is through with checking Yifan’s vitals.

Yifan nods his head again.

 

Junmyeon looks down at his watch. Two hours to go. He would head to Butterfly first and get those lavender buttermilk muffins he promised he would get Yifan. Then he would go to the hospital.

A silly smile creeps up his face. He has been visiting him two times a day. He cannot stick around for long but he still visits. And Yifan is affecting him slowly. He likes the way Yifan’s face lights up every time he visits.

However, he reminds himself that this is not real. The Yifan he knows now is lost and he anchored himself to Junmyeon. But when the memories return, Junmyeon would be discarded and forgotten again. Junmyeon has to latch onto reality, keep a solid grip on it. It is a phase; it is a transition in his life. When Yifan will remember everything, all of this will be over.

He decides to leave his office and get some air. He takes the lift and presses the button for the tenth floor where the terrace is. The car moves and stops at the third floor. The door opens to reveal Amber walking in. Junmyeon smiles, “Hey!”

Amber walked in distracted. She didn’t even notice Junmyeon. His cheery greeting makes her jump a little. She gasps, “Oh, hi.”

“Everything all right?” he frowns.

“Yeah, yeah…”

Amber cannot bring herself to tell that everything was not fine.

Five minutes ago

Amber is walking down the corridor. She wants to inform Choi Siwon that Jung Daehyun’s body has been released. She is at the door of the chief’s office. She is about to rap on the door when she hears voices inside. She recognises one voice as Choi Siwon’s and another as…Choi Seung-hyun? The medical examiner? He hardly ever leaves his office. In fact, hardly anyone working in the basement and lower levels showed up upstairs.

She was about to leave when she hears Seung-hyun say, “Why wasn’t Daehyun’s body not disposed?”

“I don’t know, he said that he has a plan,” Siwon says.

Amber frowns. What are they talking about? She wanted to listen in more but she hears footsteps down the corridor. She scampers away as she didn’t want to be caught eavesdropping outside the chief’s office.

She can’t stop replaying the conversation, she came across, in her head.

“Amber?” Junmyeon frowns. His friend had this faraway expression on her face.

“I don’t know,” she sighs, “I just heard something strange. I am just trying to make sense of it.”

“Oh,” Junmyeon smiles and pats her shoulder, "I am sure you will get it!". Amber gets down on the fourth floor.

 

Kim Himchan gasps for air. His lungs feel like they are being crushed under massive pressure. He is trapped in his own bedroom.

He was sleeping when he was woken up by the pungent smell of gasoline. He thought that maybe he had left his gas on or something even though he hardly cooks. He had ambled over to his door to open it but he was surprised to find that the door wouldn’t budge. He doesn’t lock his door when he is sleeping. So…someone locked him from outside? What kind of prank is this?

But the smell became more heavy in his room. He looked around trying to find the source of the smell. He realises it was coming from the air conditioner. How…wait it is broken. He was waiting for summer to set in completely before he got the appliance fixed. So how is there gas curling out of the blades?

He runs over to his window, trying to wrench them open when he sees they are sealed shut. What? He is confused and scared. At this rate he is going to die. He already finds it hard to breathe.

He was woken up at ten, now it is fifteen minutes after ten. His lungs work hard to keep breathing but he knows it is futile. His vision has started to blur. He feels it, he knows he doesn’t have any time left.

He closes his eyes for the last time.

 

A week was up. Junmyeon has taken his first day off for the month of March. He had spent all morning with Seokjin clearing up the second unused bedroom. He had turned the room into a storage room of sorts, so it was filled with assorted knick-knacks that he had no idea what to do with. This room is much smaller than his room but this room gets more sunlight and he knows that it will be good for Yifan.

Seokjin did raise his eyebrows and snickered when Junmyeon told him the reason behind the sudden spring cleaning. He even said, “I heard he is quite a looker from Byul.”

“He is sick Jin!” Junmyeon hissed. He was so done with his friends.

Seokjin just rolled his eyes and got to work.

Now it is four in the evening and Junmyeon stands at the reception with Luhan who fills the discharge forms and takes care of the bills. When they are done, Luhan says, “I am trusting you Junmyeon-sshi.”

Junmyeon silently nods. He sees Kyungsoo walking over to them. He gives Luhan a little nod. He has seen the lissome Chinese man come every afternoon when Yifan would be sleeping. Then he turns towards Junmyeon, “I don’t need to tell you what to do. But know this, his memories might return anytime. Can you handle it?”

Junmyeon gulps. To be honest, he cannot. But he says, “Yes, I can.”

“Keep him comfortable, no sudden movements—”

Junmyeon rolls his eyes, “I know the human body too.”

“Yeah the dead kind.”

Luhan coughs in shock, “Excuse me?”

“He works in forensics,” Kyungsoo explains.

“Oh,” Luhan shakes his head slightly, “I better go. Oh! Keep this credit card with you,” he hands Junmyeon the plastic card, “You know, for medicines and others. You shouldn’t do everything out of your pockets. Anyway, see you. Don’t want to agitate Yifan.” He says his goodbyes and leaves before Junmyeon could even open his mouth to protest.

“He came every day and just silently stayed beside Yifan while he slept. Yifan must be a very dear friend to them,” Kyungsoo remarks.

“Hmm,” Junmyeon nods wondering if Luhan wasn’t also protecting Yifan. Whoever tried killing Yifan didn’t finish their job after all.

 

Outside, Luhan makes a hand gesture. On the opposite curb, a car roars to life and speeds off. Zitao appears beside him and asks, “Great acting. Everything done?”

“Yeah, go dismantle the camera in Yifan’s room. Had Jongdae fit the cameras in front of Junmyeon’s apartment?” Luhan says. He rolls his eyes when he gets what Zitao meant by "great acting", “And come on, every normal person would react to meeting a forensic doctor like that.”

Zitao shakes his head and replies to Luhan's question, “Yeah, all of that is done.”

“Good. See you later.” Luhan walks down the pavement and hails a taxi.

They might not have visited Yifan while he was awake but they made sure they kept eyes and ears on their leader at all times. Jongdae had installed hidden cameras inside and outside the hospital room. Yixing and Zitao would take turns patrolling the area and keeping an eye on the hospital. They were slightly disappointed that Yifan’s attacker did not come to finish what he started because they were deprived of the satisfaction of punishing whoever hurt their leader.

Two things they were all pleasantly surprised about while they were keeping surveillance: one was Junmyeon visiting Yifan daily, that too twice in a day; and two, they had no idea Resting Bitchface of the Century Wu Yifan can smile like that.

Jongdae had squealed “Aw ge is so cute!” but Luhan and Yixing were speechless and stunned while Zitao looked like he was questioning the existence of unicorns now that he knew his ge could smile like that.

 

The drive from the hospital to Yifan’s place didn’t take long. Yifan had gaped as soon as the car started to drive through the streets. At one point Yifan asked, “I live in this city? I don’t remember a thing!” They were going to Yifan’s place first to pick up clothes and other necessities.

Junmyeon was not surprised when the address that Luhan gave bought him here, in one of Gangnam’s most expensive residential property (Yifan had keys to a Porsche after all). The Omicron Residency is well-known and coveted by everybody who had pockets deep enough and connections wide enough. He parks his sedan and feels like sinking into his modest Hyundai’s seat. So far he spots three Mercedes convertibles, a Ferrari and two Porsches—one black and the other silver. He wonders which one is Yifan’s. He pats the pockets of his jacket. Yup, he has the keys to the Porsche.

He steps out of the car. He hears the passenger door opening as well. He presses the button on the key. The black Porsche beeps back. Yifan stands on his crutches near him and says, “You have two cars?”

“Nope, that is yours,” Junmyeon answers

Yifan stares blankly at the car. He murmurs, “I drove that? I don’t remember that…”

Junmyeon’s head swivels around and Yifan’s sad pout makes him feel sorry. He rubs his neck, “You live here. And Yifan? Stay in the car please. You are not supposed to move around.”

Yifan smiles and does as he is told.

Junmyeon takes the elevator to the sixteenth floor. When the elevator’s doors open, he is taken aback by the opulence of the corridor alone. There is a geometric printed carpet that muffled his steps as soon as he started walking. He looks down at the paper clutched in his hand. Unit 1607, the last one on the right side of the corridor.

Junmyeon finds 1607. There is no nameplate or potted plants (he saw the ferns outside 1604 in gilded pots) in front of the door. He shrugs and unlocks the apartment.

Minimalistic. Junmyeon would use to describe Yifan’s apartment as soon as he turns on the lights. It is just a fancy word for empty anyway. It is huge, like Junmyeon’s apartment could fit into it snugly and there would still be space left. But it only has a single black leather couch and a flat screen TV in the living room. He spies three doors, a three BHK then. Wow, pricey.

He walks in further wondering which one is Yifan’s bedroom. The décor is all grey and dark blue. It feels cold. The kitchen’s clinical and honestly looks unused. Too clean, too shiny. The expensive marble under his boot is grey too. It feels like Yifan’s entire life is grey. Junmyeon pouts, that sounds sad.

He opens the first door and strikes gold. It seems like the master bedroom judging by the king sized bed smack dab in the middle. The curtains are drawn, so it is dark. He fumbles across the wall and his fingers find the switch.

“Whoa,” Junmyeon finds himself exclaiming breathlessly. The thing that attracted his attention like that is this huge painting of a landscape hanging from the wall. It was the only ornamental furnishing in the room. It must be at least seven feet long and eight feet across. Junmyeon gets closer and gingerly touches the frame. The brush strokes are exquisite. He peers closer when he notices an anomaly. It is a panorama of a mountain range drenched in the colours of a sunset. The palette consists of pinks, yellows, oranges and reds. Why is there a sole blue dot on the right hand corner? He thinks it must be dirt so he touches it.

As soon as he touches the dot, it dips under pressure and he hears a distinct click. He jumps back. Then his eyes widen in surprise and terror when the painting splits in half to reveal a cavity behind it. He claps a hand over his mouth to stop himself from crying out loud.

It is a hidden cupboard of sorts. It lights up automatically. Junmyeon counts exactly twenty guns and fifteen kinds of knives meticulously displayed according to size. He fumbles along, trying to find a way to close it when a nudge to one of the panels leads to the entrapment locking into place. He doubles over his knees and tries not to hyperventilate. Great, he found Yifan’s secret stash of arms. Also, yes, it is confirmed, Wu Yifan is a possible assassin, or hitman, or whatever the media, criminals and fiction writers are calling them nowadays.

He gulps, takes a deep breath and straightens up. Clothes and toiletries, that’s what he was supposed to look for. He notices a door opposite the ‘painting’ and he opens it while desperately wishing he didn’t find something more disagreeable there, like a freezer full of dead bodies or more guns.

He sighs in relief when it turns out to be just a bathroom. He walks in and turns on the light. It is a beautiful bathroom—the marble here is honey coloured and the shower stall can fit three people and the sunk in tub looks so tempting (he spots the Bvlgari products, that rich bastard). Then he notices that there is a walk-in wardrobe attached to the bathroom. He looks in and his jaw drops. Yifan’s collection of suits can make Barney Stinson weep.

He walks in and stares. Does the man sleep in suits as well? He starts pulling drawers and finally finds a drawer filled with normal, ordinary clothes. He stuffs as much as he can in the duffle he was carrying—mostly pyjamas, t-shirts, shorts and a pair of jeans. He is in the underwear drawer when the reality of the situation hits him.

He met Wu Yifan a week ago on gunpoint. Wu Yifan who made his freshman year difficult. Then he goes and gets grievously injured and loses his memory. Now he is wrist deep in Calvin Kleins and Armani Exchanges, and oh he found Yifan’s secret store of guns and knives. Terrific. It feels like fate decided that Junmyeon had enough of a stable existence. Just terrific.

 

Junmyeon unlocks the door to his apartment, a bit apprehensive. Yifan is leaning against wall. Junmyeon enters first and turns on all the lights. Yifan hops on one leg as he follows Junmyeon.

Yifan looks around the modestly sized apartment. It has light yellow walls and nice wooden floors. From the entrance he sees the kitchen to his left. Opposite him are three dark green coloured doors side by side. The living room has a comfy-looking couch, an overstuffed chair and a TV, besides it is a big bookshelf. The window beside the bookshelf has some potted plants dotting its sill. He flashes his gummy smile when he sees a grey cat rubbing its body against his crutch. He says, “I like this place. Is this home?”

Junmyeon lets out a shaky breath. He had forgotten that Yifan totally doesn’t remember his own place. He had been thinking all the opulence versus this modesty might not make Yifan happy. He was worrying uselessly. He smiles, “Yes, it is.” For now, he finishes the sentence in his head.

Chapter Text

Two days and two nights passes with Yifan in Junmyeon’s house. It feels weird to have another human in his space. He was used to the soft steps of Suho, the purrs and meowing at four in the morning (he was convinced Suho called for his demon overlord when he meowed at such unholy hours). But now on his bed he could hear Yifan shifting on his bed in the room beside his (the walls are thin). He frowns, he had set Yifan with enough cushions so there would be no stress on his injured leg. If he shifts too much he will end up hurting himself. He sits up and swings his legs down. He shuffles his feet over to Yifan’s room.

Yifan had shifted so much that one of the three cushions propped under his leg had fallen on the floor. The blanket was sliding off. Junmyeon shakes his head. He cannot sleep in peace. He leans over Yifan and sets his foot right again by placing the cushion back at its place. He is very cautious, careful not to hurt Yifan. He glances at Yifan and notices beads of sweat on Yifan’s bandaged forehead. He doesn’t have a fever does he? Oh my god, what if it is an infection?

He puts his hand over Yifan’s temple. His body isn’t warm. But then he realises that Yifan’s lips are moving. He is dreaming, and judging from the way his thick eyebrows are furrowed, he is having a nightmare.

Junmyeon sits down on the bed and gently runs his fingers through Yifan’s hair. He notes that Yifan’s hair needs to be shampooed. Junmyeon massages his scalp slightly. Yifan murmurs in his sleep in Chinese. Junmyeon doesn’t quite catch it. He continues his ministration till Yifan’s breath evens again. He has stopped dreaming. Junmyeon pulls up the covers and tucks him in. He brushes his hand against Yifan’s cheek and Junmyeon thinks that Yifan looks very cute while he is sleeping.

Then he stands up and leaves the room. He slaps himself. One is not supposed to find a man who keeps guns hidden behind paintings in bedrooms cute while he is sleeping.

 

Yifan wakes up, his head aching a little. He remembers dreaming last night. But for the love of his life he cannot remember anything besides the image of bloodied hands. He raises his own hands in front of his face. Was it his hands that he saw? Could be.

Two days have passed, here with Junmyeon, in the place he’d like to call home. He doesn’t remember anything about his previous life, but this one is not so bad. Especially with Junmyeon around.

He likes it when Junmyeon fusses over him. He likes the food Junmyeon makes for him. He likes the cute, embarrassed face Junmyeon makes when he tries helping Yifan bathe (the first time was so awkward). He likes the sweet, sleepy smile Junmyeon gave him on the first morning here. He smiles a little every time Junmyeon calls him on the phone, he was handed by Junmyeon himself on the first day, making sure he is behaving well (that is, not trying to walk around). He knows he is cared for and it makes his heart happy. He might be confused about his identity but with Junmyeon around it isn’t too bad.

Lost in his thoughts, he feels movement on his blanket. He raises his head slightly to see Suho creeping along his leg. He lets the cat come closer.

Suho stops and sits down on his chest. He stares unblinkingly at Yifan with his yellow eyes. He tilts his head sideways as if deeply regarding Yifan. Yifan feels brave, so he gingerly pets Suho. The cat allows Yifan to stroke his neck. “You are a nice cat,” Yifan grins.

Suddenly he hears someone singing. It is mellifluous and soft like summer rain. Like the phantom soft brush of fingers on his temple last night (he thinks he dreamt that). He doesn’t know what song that is but he closes his eyes to listen. But suddenly the singing stops, and is replaced by, “Suho? Where are you Suho?”

Yifan opens his eyes. That was Junmyeon? The door to his room opens. Suho jumps down from Yifan’s chest to the floor. Junmyeon feels Yifan’s gaze on him. He smiles, “Hey, good morning.”

Junmyeon had bed hair, and his pale skin looked porcelain in contrast to the grey, faded t-shirt he is wearing. In the early morning light filtering through the cotton curtains, Yifan thinks he hasn’t seen anything this beautiful since…well since he woke up to know he was Yifan and he was in a hospital with no idea about himself.

Junmyeon enters the room as Suho exits. Yifan says, “Good morning. Was that you singing?”

Junmyeon’s cheeks flush a little, “I am sorry, did I wake you? It is just I am used to being alone so I sing and—”

“No, no, you have a very nice voice!”

Junmyeon blushes furiously. He knows he is not much of a singer; he only did concerts in his bathrooms. He forgot he has a human audience beside the feline one he is accustomed to. Except the feline never gave him any compliments. He coughs, “Uh, do you want to go to the bathroom now?”

Yifan thinks Junmyeon blushing is kind of adorable. He sits up and nods his head. Junmyeon comes closer and taking Yifan’s forearms, gently pulls him to his feet. Junmyeon had pushed the bed to the left side of the room so when Yifan gets up, he doesn’t put any weight on his bad leg.

They hobble along to the bathroom. Junmyeon leaves Yifan there, giving the man his privacy. But he stays outside the door, ready to barge in if Yifan trips or something.

Ten minutes later Yifan comes out, his breath minty and his bangs a little wet. Yifan no longer pushed his hair back, so the bangs sweeping over his eyebrows did things to Junmyeon (he had to keep reminding himself that Yifan isn’t cute, he is a professional killer). Junmyeon wraps his arm around Yifan’s waist and supports him to the small dining table in the kitchen.

Yifan finds their height difference a little hilarious. Junmyeon easily slides under his arms. He sits down and Junmyeon starts arranging dishes. Yifan swipes his wet bangs off his eyes. He muses, “My hair feels horrible.”

“I was thinking of washing it for you but then I remembered your stitches haven’t come off yet. You can’t wash your hair till then,” Junmyeon pointedly says.

Yifan nods his head. He takes a spoonful of rice and says, “So, are you a doctor too?”

“Kind of,” Junmyeon chuckles.

“Kind of?”

“Yes. When people die, they come to me.”

Yifan frowns, “Dead people?” The image of bloody hands flash in front of his eyes.

“Yes. Living people can tell what is wrong with them but the ones who die they cannot. So I try to guess what their stories are. They need someone to tell their tales.” Junmyeon wonders how he is holding such a strange conversation with Yifan at eight in the morning while having breakfast.

Yifan nods his head, as if he understood everything Junmyeon said. It makes Junmyeon chuckle. He smiles, “Okay, eat up. I will be back by four.” His phone starts ringing. He left it on the kitchen counter. He stands up to get his phone. It is from the station. He picks it up, “Yes? Oh? Okay. Forward me the address then, I will go there directly.” When the call disconnects, he looks back at Yifan, “I might be late I think.”

Yifan’s face falls a little. Junmyeon says, “Alright then, I don’t need to tell you that you are not allowed to move around much. Kyungsoo might come around lunch to check up on you. He said he will get you more books in English. Since I cannot help you with bathing today, I will tell Kyungsoo. I have prepared your lunch, heat it up or let Kyungsoo do it for you. Take your medicines.”

Yifan nods along. Junmyeon puts his hands on his hips and sighs. He really did not want to leave Yifan alone. But hey, at least today he won’t have to assist Yifan in taking a bath. The last two days that he had helped a very naked Yifan with scrubbing his back, he had spent them blushing and trying not to look too much. A naked Yifan is even more unsettling than a clothed Yifan. He had a body Junmyeon would want to worship but right now he doesn’t have the time for this. Junmyeon sends a text to Kyungsoo.

He inhales his breakfast instead and gets ready to leave. But not before placing Yifan back in his room with books, a few bottles of water, snacks and Suho decides to join, so he orders his cat to stay by Yifan’s side. Before leaving, he swipes the hair off Yifan’s head, and says, “You could do with a haircut I think. Anyway, take care of yourself. And absolutely no moving!”

Yifan rolls his eyes, “I know, I know. Aren’t you getting late?” He chooses to ignore the irregular beating of his heart at Junmyeon’s touch.

“Yeah, whatever,” Junmyeon grins before turning and walking out of the room.

Yifan smiles a little to himself. He says to Suho, “Junmyeon is very nice, isn’t he?”

Suho softly purrs in agreement.

 

Junmyeon is on the road to the address he was texted when he thinks about the last two mornings he had left Yifan to go to work. Yifan would always look sad when he left but when he got home, Yifan would give his best gummy smile and Junmyeon would melt a little. Yifan needed him and waited for him, and this made Junmyeon’s little heart swell with affection. He hated leaving Yifan home alone. He had given Yifan the phone Yixing passed on to him (Junmyeon is certain it is bugged or something), so he can call Yifan whenever to check on him.

It was too domestic, too warming the rhythm they had fallen in in just three days. Junmyeon knows after Yifan’s memories return, he will be the one hurt and picking himself up when Yifan will push him away. He stops his car at a red light. He tells himself to be strong, and not be persuaded to think otherwise just because Yifan’s crestfallen face is adorable or his smiles are halcyon. He needs to remember who Yifan was, who Yifan is really and not how he is right now.

It isn’t too difficult to find Galaxy Apartments in Songpa because he spots the two police cars and the M.E vans in front of it easily. He parks at a distance and gets down. As he walks closer a cop comes to stop him. He flashes his identification. The cop says, “Oh, it is on the fifth floor. Take the lift.”

Junmyeon bows his head and enters the foyer. He takes the elevator and as soon as the doors open he spots Hakyeon and Lee Taemin, the forensic photographer hovering around the door to the apartment where the body was found. Taemin spots him and waves him over, “Morning Junmyeon-sshi.”

“Why are you guys waiting?” Junmyeon asks as he takes the latex gloves Hakyeon offers.

“We are waiting for the cop photographer to finish taking photos. Amber was here. She says it is a decomposed body,” Hakyeon says.

“Yup, can smell it,” Junmyeon says.

Taemin, Hakyeon and Junmyeon aren’t bothered with the horrible medley of hydrogen sulphide and methane wafting around the area unlike the two police officers Junmyeon spots standing inside the small living space of unit 505. They had handkerchiefs pressed over their noses.

The call he got this morning was from the station informing him about the body of a male in his twenties found in his bedroom at Galaxy Apartments in the Songpa district. He came over directly without waiting to reconvene at the CSI department. He knows someone else will be here with the kits required.

The cop photographer exits the bedroom and takes a deep breath when he is outside. The man wheezes, “Gosh, it is a stinker.”

“Roger that,” Taemin quips and enters the apartment, Hakyeon and Junmyeon trailing behind him.

The sight that awaits them had Taemin whistling, “Haven’t seen one this far gone in a while.”

Junmyeon puts on his glasses and narrows his eyes at the decomposed body of a man in his twenties laid down on the floor at the foot of his bed. He hears the shutter of Taemin’s camera as Hakyeon mumbles, “I would say more than four days.”

Junmyeon points at the corpse, “There is serious putrefaction. The maggots have hatched, they are young. Plus, there are blowflies and fleshflies. These are late-arriving predators. And I think a colony of parasitoid wasps have already started laying their eggs on his neck. I would say more than four days. Somewhere between four to ten days.”

“You are right, it is seven days to be precise,” all heads turn around to see Amber leaning against the doorframe, a handkerchief to her nose, “The victim is one Kim Himchan, age twenty-five, worked at the Garak Market. His neighbour found his body. Himchan usually left for work at six in the morning, around the time Oh Ji-yoon, the neighbour would go out for her morning jog. She realised she didn’t see him for a week, so she came to check on him. She caught a whiff of the rotten smell and got the superintendent of the building to open the door. They found him in the bedroom like this.”

“Then the pile of vomit on the living room floor is either the girl’s or the superintendent’s?” Hakyeon asks.

Amber nods. She says, “So what do you think?” She asks Junmyeon and Hakyeon.

Hakyeon says, “Cause of death would be impossible to determine just like this without an autopsy.”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon says, “Even though I don’t find any external injuries. Could be a natural C.O.D.”

“Hey guys,” Taemin, who was taking pictures near the window, calls, “Check this out.”

The three of them walk over to where Taemin is standing, “Look at this,” he points at the windowsill.

They scowl down at the thick grey substance clumped along the edges. Hakyeon picks at it, “Looks like some sort of seal?”

“Yeah, like those seals used to repair stuff,” Amber says.

“Like on pipes or such?” Taemin says, he tries pushing the windows open, “Why is his window sealed like this?”

Junmyeon was quietly looking at the windowsill, then he thinks something as he looks up at the air conditioner. He says nothing as he grabs a stool by the dresser and he drags it under the appliance. He presses the on switch, the AC doesn’t start but he gets a faint whiff of a scent.

Hakyeon asks, “What are you doing?”

“Go take a sniff,” Junmyeon says as he gets down.

Hakyeon steps on the stool and sniffs. His eyes widen, “Gasoline…Butane?”

“We need to dismantle that thing,” Junmyeon says, “And Amber this is officially a homicide.”

 

“I swear to lord you are like the Sherlock Holmes of forensics or something,” Amber says to Junmyeon when she comes down to the labs to see what the two forensic doctors were doing.

The sample taken from the lungs of Himchan showed lethal levels of butane gas. The grey sample turned out to be plumber’s putty. And the AC that was dismantled revealed a can of butane gas accessorised with a timed device, the killer pressed a button and the timer attached to the can got to work, the gas leaking out through the blades. The killer managed to kill Himchan from a safe distance. This led to Hakyeon and another crime scene worker to fail at getting any fingerprints in the bedroom that wasn’t Himchan’s.

Junmyeon blushes at Amber’s compliments. He shyly says, “Nope, I am just observant.”

“Please Junmyeon,” Hakyeon chuckles, “You figured it out!”

“I just…the windows were sealed,” Junmyeon coughs, “And things are sealed only when we don’t want something to leak out.”

“But the air con?” Amber asks.

“There was no other opening in the room,” Junmyeon shrugs.

“This is why I hired you,” Seung-hyun enters the room and pats Junmyeon’s head.

Junmyeon scowls at the patronising gesture but says nothing. However, his attention is attracted by the way Amber throws a glance at Seung-hyun. He brushes it off. His boss is known widely for his eccentric behaviour. He can understand if Amber is unsettled, it took him a year to get used to his boss.

He huffs and says, “Uh, can I leave now?” He had worked from the morning, and it was close to six now.

“Why,” Amber wiggles her eyebrows, “Got a hot date?”

Junmyeon flushes. He stammers, “W-what? No!”

Seung-hyun grins, “Yeah, I think you can leave. The night shift will arrive soon. Hakyeon, you can leave as well if you want.”

“I will finish the paperwork first, thank you sir,” Hakyeon bows and leaves for his office.

Junmyeon says thank you as well and he leaves with Amber in tow. They ride the elevator together. They separate off at the ground floor.

Junmyeon whips out his phone and dials Yifan as he walks to the parking lot. He picks up after three rings, “Hello?” Wait that isn’t Yifan.

Chapter Text

A familiar voice says, “Hello?” on Yifan’s phone.

“Kyungsoo?” Junmyeon frowns.

“Oh, hey.”

“What are you doing at my home? Weren’t you supposed to go there during lunch time?”

“Yeah, I have been here since one o’ clock actually.”

“What?”

“I gave him his bath, and got his lunch. Since I got the night shift today I thought I would stay a little bit longer. So I fell asleep on your bed. I woke up an hour ago. We are eating red velvet cupcakes now.”

“We?”

“Oh yeah, me, Yifan and Jin.”

“What is Jin doing there?”

“Duh, who do you think got the cupcakes?”

“No, I mean what is Jin doing in my home?”

“Oh,” the sound of footsteps is heard, “Why don’t you ask Jin?”

“Kyungsoo!”

“Hello hyung,” Jin says, too cheerful.

“What are you doing there?” Junmyeon hisses.

“I know that you know hyung,” Junmyeon can feel the sleazy grin Jin is wearing on his face through his voice.

Of course Junmyeon knows. Jin had been obscenely curious about Yifan ever since Kyungsoo said that Yifan called Junmyeon an angel and ever since Byul informed Jin that Yifan was an “disoriented but attractive six feet tall sample of man flesh”.

“Kim Seokjin,” Junmyeon grits his teeth as he beeps his car door open.

“Gee, hyung, I know my name!”

“You, wait, I am coming,” Junmyeon growls lowly. He slides in and starts his car. He needs to go home fast, before Seokjin traumatises Yifan anymore. Kim Seokjin had the gossiping prowess of a menopausal ahjumma at a street corner store.

 

Junmyeon comes home to a peculiar sight. Seokjin is drawing on Yifan’s leg plaster, Kyungsoo is stuffing himself with cake and Yifan has Suho curled up in his lap as he laughs at something that Seokjin said.

“…so that was when hyung decided he is into guys,” Seokjin says.

“Kim Seokjin!” Junmyeon screeches.

“Hey what about that time he was asked out by this Russian guy, remember he was like nine feet tall or something,” Kyungsoo comments, his words a bit jumbled due to cake in his mouth.

“Do Kyungsoo!” Junmyeon shouts again.

“I wasn’t there during that hyung, you could tell it better,” Seokjin says as he gets to his feet and walks into the kitchen. He opens the refrigerator, knowing very well that Junmyeon is glaring at him. He brings out a pastry box. “But I remember that guy being persistent, and poor guy didn’t even know a word of Korean. Here hyung, I got you your favourite salted caramel cupcakes.”

Junmyeon snatches the pastry out of Seokjin’s hands. “Don’t you have like a café to run or something?”

“Nah, mom is helping me,” Seokjin yawns, “I thought I could take a break.”

“Go take your breaks in a park or something,” Junmyeon grumbles. “And you,” he points at Kyungsoo, “You should be at the hospital!”

“Yeah, yeah,” Kyungsoo gets to his feet and stretches, “I am leaving. Oh Yifan, I will prescribe some painkillers. Don’t take them until needed, okay?”

Yifan nods, “Okay.”

“You are kicking us out?” Seokjin makes his best puppy face. Junmyeon isn’t impressed, he still glares.

“Junmyeon wants to be alone,” Kyungsoo stage whispers to Seokjin and winks, “You didn’t say anything about the wicked dragon tattoo on his back”. Junmyeon’s cheeks heat up (he has seen it and silently admired it). He glances at Yifan. He hadn’t heard what Kyungsoo said judging from his expression. Small mercies.

He nearly pushes his friends out of his apartment. He turns around and says to Yifan, “They didn’t upset you, or bother you too much, right?”

“What? No. I like your friends. They are very nice, and funny. And I was so glad to know that Jin is the owner of the café from where you used to bring all those cakes from! I was bored, and I knew they didn’t have to stay, but they did. I like them,” Yifan says with a smile.

Junmyeon sighs and sits down beside Yifan on the couch. He eyes the doodles on Yifan’s leg. Yifan follows his gaze. He laughs, “That is me,” he points to the tall stick figure with thick eyebrows, “And that is you,” he points to the short stick figure with glasses, “And then Jin drew his favourite things,” he points to the drawings of cupcakes, butterflies and poor imitations of Mario littered across the surface of the plaster.

Junmyeon smiles. He looks at Yifan, “I am sorry you were bored.”

Yifan’s eyebrows rise up his eyebrow, “Why are you sorry? I mean I cannot move much.”

“If you want to,” Junmyeon scratches his neck, “I can drop you at Seokjin’s café some day when I go to work and then pick you up on the way home?”

Yifan’s eyes light up, “I’d like that. Oh, before I forget, Kyungsoo said in two days, they will remove my stitches and I would need to get an x-ray.”

“Okay,” Junmyeon nods his head. He rubs his neck lightly massaging it. Suddenly he feels fingers pressing into his nape. He startles a little. He realises Yifan is lightly pressing his fingers into his skin, kneading it gently.

“Here, let me,” Yifan says, “Turn around.”

Junmyeon turns around. He dangles his legs off the armrest of the couch. He feels both of Yifan’s hands on his neck. Yifan huffs, “Junmyeon, come a little closer please.”

How about no, because the simple touch is doing things to Junmyeon, like accelerated heartbeats and shallow breaths. But he scoots a tiny bit closer. “Okay, better now,” Yifan says.

Yifan gently kneads the knots on Junmyeon’s neck. Junmyeon feels himself relaxing under Yifan’s touch. He sighs deeply, “Thank you…”

“You don’t have to say thank you Junmyeon, you do so much for me anyway,” Yifan says, “And I don’t even remember who you are, yet, here I am, due to your kindness.” His hands on Junmyeon’s neck stills (Junmyeon mentally whimpers, Yifan’s hands are rough but warm and the contact is making his life difficult) as he continues, “Are you my friend? Like are you a really, really dear friend of mine? I know I should have asked you this before…”

Junmyeon takes a shaky breath. It is a loaded question. He replies, “Yes, we are friends…kind of.” He feels emotions twist and turn inside him. He lied, he doesn’t think Yifan is ready to know the truth. He is just protecting Yifan.

No, he is protecting himself.

Junmyeon leaves his seat, instantly missing the warmth of Yifan’s hands on his neck. But Yifan grabs his wrist to stop him. Junmyeon turns around and looks down at him. Yifan’s confused expression pains him a little. Yifan asks, “Did I say something wrong?”

“No,” Junmyeon smiles tightly, “You didn’t. I am going to take a shower now. Been in a morgue for ten hours and all.” He touches Yifan’s cheek to reassure him.

Yifan buys it. He lets Junmyeon go. Junmyeon doesn’t waste time to take refuge in the shower. He turns on the water and puts his head on the wall. He is digging himself a deep, deep hole. He cannot let Yifan affect him like this. Not like this all over again. He is twenty five, not fifteen and life has changed so damn fucking much already.

 

Luhan is in a difficult dilemma. He isn’t sure whether he should lie or tell the truth.

He was surprised by a visit from the boss, Kang Daesung, himself at the garage. It is late, Luhan was the last to leave. He had just locked his door when he hears a car entering downstairs. He was about to tell off whoever came but is stopped when he recognises the black Rolls Royce Phantom. What is the big boss doing here?

Luhan stepped down and received Daesung. Daesung asked about him and how the business was going even though Luhan had a feeling Daesung wasn’t here to know how much money they were making.

Then Daesung gets to the point, “Where is Yifan?”

Which is a segue to Luhan’s current predicament. He can lie, but then he knows Daesung can go elsewhere for the truth. He can put spies on Luhan, bug his phone and so on. But Luhan knows just how smart and cunning Daesung is. So he tells the truth, well half of it, “Yifan? He said he is visiting a friend. An old high school one. They recently reconnected and all. He was pretty rattled by the drug bust in Yongsan, so he decided to take a break of sorts.”

“Yeah,” Daesung sighs, his expression darkening briefly, “That Yongsan debacle will haunt me for a long time. Tell Yifan I came by!”

The boss leaves in his expensive car. Luhan exhales loudly. Just what exactly did Daesung want? If Yixing is right, then Yifan’s life is in danger.

He locks the garage and walks to the subway station. He thinks about what Yifan told him a long time ago.

Yifan was young when Daesung’s father, Kang Yunhyeong, took Yifan under his wings. Yunhyeong trained Yifan as well as took care of him. He was treated like a son. The garage was a gift from the old man. When he died three years ago, Daesung took over the business. Even though Yifan never fully disclosed the relationship between Daesung and himself, Luhan, as well as Yixing, had noticed the subtle rivalry and antagonism between Yunhyeong’s own flesh and blood and Yunhyeong’s adopted son. But Daesung never let it affect the business. Yifan is the best marksman they have, beside Kwon Jiyong, and Yifan couldn’t refuse the boss. And Daesung needed Yifan, because Yifan knows how to talk. If you want Yifan to charm someone, he will do it. If you want Yifan to subtly threaten, he will do it. Kwon Jiyong wasn’t trusted with words but Yifan was. The entire organisation knew Yifan had the gift of gab.

But now Luhan is afraid, mostly for Yifan. He has to know why Daesung wants him dead—if his assumptions are right that is.

 

Daesung rolls down his windows and watches Luhan walk to the subway station. He opens the phonebook on his phone. He scrolls down till he finds the name Min Yoongi. He dials it.

The phone rings four times before a sleepy, bored voice picks it up, “Yes?”

“I need you to investigate Luhan, get me all his movements since March 8,” Daesung orders, “I will pay you more than your usual.”

“Alright,” Yoongi disconnects.

Daesung knows where Luhan’s loyalty lies. And he also knows that Luhan didn’t tell him everything. He knows Yifan well enough. He rubs his chin. He is hitting two birds with one stone after all. An old score, and a new trouble, would be solved in one swoop.

Min Yoongi better live up to his reputation of an assassin. 

 

This time he knows it his hands in the dream. His hands are covered in blood. But he knows it is not his blood. He looks around. What he sees makes him scream.

He is standing on a pile of corpses. Some have their heads bashed in, some have their throats slit, some have gaping holes on their chests, some are burned and mangled so bad, it is hard to tell if they are human or not. And the blood on his hands is theirs. In fact, he realises he is covered with blood from head to toe.

 

Junmyeon is fast asleep when he hears screaming. He wakes up with a jolt. It takes him a few seconds to realises in his muddled state to realise the screaming was coming from the room besides his.

Yifan!

Junmyeon throws the covers off himself (dislodging a hapless Suho, who was sleeping on top of the covers, in his wake) and runs out of his room. He barges into Yifan’s room and his eyes widen at the scene before him as he turns on the lights.

Yifan had thrown the covers off himself and onto the floor. He is curled in a foetal position and his mouth is wide open, he is screaming with tears rolling down his face. He is dreaming, Junmyeon realises when he sees Yifan’s eyes are shut tightly.

Junmyeon shakes Yifan’s shoulders. He needs to wake up. Junmyeon is scared, he wants Yifan to wake up. It had been two days since Yifan’s last nightmare. But that wasn’t this severe. Junmyeon cries, “Yifan? Yifan, please wake up!”

Yifan’s blood-curdling screams stop but he still has his eyes shut and he is still crying. And he has started trembling all over. Junmyeon shakes him violently and shouts, “YIFAN!”

That seems to work as Yifan wakes up with a start and sits up, eyes wide and glassy. His lips tremble before he throws himself against Junmyeon, slightly crushing the shorter man in his embrace.

Junmyeon doesn’t say anything as he soothingly rubs Yifan’s back in circles. He realises Yifan is drenched in cold sweat. Junmyeon frowns, what did Yifan dream about?

As if hearing his mind, Yifan whispers, “There was so much blood.”

Junmyeon’s frown deepens. He rests his chin on Yifan’s shoulder and asks, “Blood?”

“Yes, I had a bad dream. There were dead bodies,” Yifan takes a shaky breath, “And my hands were covered in their blood.”

Junmyeon eyes widen. As if he needed another reminder that Yifan is a dangerous man…his nightmare was definitely his unconscious mind giving Yifan clues about his identity. But Junmyeon doesn’t say it out loud, “Ssh it is okay. It is okay, it was just a dream.”

“But it felt so real,” Yifan sobs.

“But it wasn’t,” Junmyeon holds Yifan a little closer.

“Who am I Junmyeon?”

I cannot answer that, Junmyeon thinks. He says, “Right now, you are going to get sick if we don’t take off that shirt.”

Junmyeon pushes Yifan a little. He then proceeds to help Yifan out of his shirt. His eyes flick over to the tattoo of a Scorpio on his left bicep. Yifan sniffs a little, his nose crinkling. Junmyeon softly smiles at him and cups Yifan’s face. He wipes the tears on Yifan’s face. The sad, scared, kicked puppy look that Yifan gives him has his heart swelling and butterflies flitting about in his stomach.

He leaves the bed and rummages in the dresser for a clean shirt. He can feel Yifan’s gaze on his back. He gets a clean shirt and returns to the bed. He helps Yifan putting it on. He fixes the cushion under Yifan’s injured leg and picks up the cover from the floor. He is about to throw it over Yifan when the man says, “Can you stay with me?”

Junmyeon stumbles as Yifan blushes. He says, “Uh, I mean, stay till I fall asleep?”

Junmyeon nods even though the idea of sharing a bed with Yifan has a few unholy thoughts briefly flash in his mind. He turns off the light and sits at the edge of the bed. The bed isn’t big enough for two people. Yifan lies down and pulls the cover till his chest. He murmurs, “Thank you.”

Junmyeon scoots back till his back hits the headboard. He smiles down at Yifan and says, “You are welcome.”

Yifan closes his eyes, a small smile on his face. Then he feels fingers carding through his hair. The touch feels familiar. Like he knows it from a dream. His eyes open again when he remembers the phantom touch he felt on his head a couple of days ago. It was real? Junmyeon was in his room? He asks, “Did I have a nightmare before?”

Junmyeon frowns, “You don’t remember?”

“No, not really.”

“Yeah you did.”

“Did you come into my room then too?”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon blushes a little, “I did.”

“Oh,” Yifan says nothing else as he closes his eyes. Junmyeon wonders what that was all about.

Junmyeon tells himself he will leave as soon as Yifan falls asleep. He keeps running his fingers through Yifan’s hair as Yifan’s breathing becomes even. He doesn’t move when he realises Yifan is fast asleep again. He stays and looks adoringly at Yifan’s relaxed, peaceful face under the foggy light of the streetlamps that filter through the cotton curtains. His eyes start feeling heavy.

Chapter Text

The sunlight and his body wakes him up at exactly six in the morning like always. Junmyeon blinks, a bit confused as to where he is, why does his neck hurt and what is that weight on his lap. One thing at a time: he realises he is not in his bedroom but Yifan’s, his neck hurts because he had fallen asleep while sitting up and the weight on his lap is Yifan’s head. The last bit has every vestige of sleep washing away as he stares down at his lap.

Yifan had his head resting on his thigh. He is sound asleep. Junmyeon rubs his eyes and smiles a little at the man lightly snoring in his lap. He pats Yifan’s head, his fingers gently traversing the curve of Yifan’s head. His fingers stop at the thick strip of bandage near the base of the skull. Oh, yeah they got to go to the hospital today to get his stitches removed. He is sort of transfixed by how the sunlight tinted Yifan’s skin a golden colour (and feeling slightly envious about his own lack of melanin) when he hears a soft meow in the room.

He looks up to find Suho seated at the foot of the bed, tail swishing back and forth. He has his head tilted to one side. Junmyeon raises his eyebrows. Suho licks his paws. Okay, fine, he is moving from the bed. Suho’s water dish needs refilling most probably. Junmyeon gently puts Yifan’s head back on the pillow and gets up, stretching to get rid of the crick in his neck. He bends down in front of Suho and scratches Suho behind his ear, “I haven’t forgotten you, you know. It is just Yifan needs a little bit more care than you do. He had a bad dream last night.”

Suho seems to understand as he licks his owners’ hand.

Junmyeon leaves the room and starts preparations for the day.

 

Junmyeon sets Yifan down on the couch in his office. He had called the hospital and scheduled an appointment at two in the afternoon. He didn’t want to go back and forth so much so he took Yifan with him to the office today. Yifan found his office impressive apparently. It was a dignified glass box to be honest. Yifan had asked a million questions as they passed the labs.

Yifan is snoozing on his couch when Seung-hyun enters Junmyeon’s office, “Say, did you finish up writing the report about the fire at Myeong-dong?”

Yifan wakes up with a jolt. He stares at Seung-hyun, and Seung-hyun finally notices the presence of another person in the room.

“Boss, this is Wu Yifan, he is staying at my place and Yifan, this is Choi Seung-hyun, my boss,” Junmyeon introduces the two.

Seung-hyun quirks an eyebrow. He stops Yifan from getting to his feet when he notices the plaster on his foot, “Ah, please don’t! I can see you are hurt! It is nice to meet you Yifan-sshi. But what are you doing here? Today isn’t bring-your-boyfriend-to-your-workplace-day, is it?”

Junmyeon’s face gets red, fifty shades of red, and Yifan has a violent fit of coughs. Seung-hyun glances between Junmyeon and Yifan. Junmyeon nearly shouts, “He isn’t my boyfriend!”

“Who is not your boyfriend?” someone says at the door. Seung-hyun turns around to reveal Hakyeon standing at the entrance.

Seung-hyun points at Yifan, “This isn’t Junmyeon’s boyfriend.”

“Oh?” Hakyeon says, grinning at Junmyeon.

Junmyeon bites his lip to stop the hysteria bubbling inside him. Yifan saves him, “Junmyeon is an old friend. Since I don’t have any family in Seoul, and also I lost my memories due to an accident, he is taking care of me,” he starts blushing, “We aren’t…I mean that is it really.”

Junmyeon exhales and says, “We have a doctors’ appointment in the afternoon. That is why I brought him along with me. That is not a problem, is it?”

“What?” Seung-hyun shakes his head, “No, no it is not. As long as he does not enter the labs or morgue, we are okay.”

“Thank you sir,” Junmyeon bows.

Hakyeon asks Yifan, “What is your name? I am Cha Hakyeon by the way, I work with Junmyeon.”

“Wu Yifan,” Yifan smiles at Hakyeon, quitely admiring the way how a smile lighted up the man's face.

“Okay, Yifan, it was nice to meet you. I got to go to work now!” Hakyeon waves at Junmyeon before leaving.

“Yeah, me too,” Seung-hyun says. He leaves not before winking at Junmyeon.

Junmyeon feels steam rolling out of his ears. He has never felt so embarrassed. Yifan coughs, “Your boss is funny.”

“You should see the things he posts on Instagram,” Junmyeon says.

Yifan says nothing in return and turns his attention back to his book again. Junmyeon looks down at the report he was writing. He reads the name of the book Yifan is reading—The Catcher in the Rye? Did Kyungsoo give him this book? He puts his glasses on and starts writing the report his boss wants. He better focus on his work instead of stressing over the fact of Wu Yifan as a boyfriend because fuck, that would be one terrible idea. Yifan as a boyfriend is an idea he knows is too dangerous to mull over.

Yifan glances at Junmyeon. He thinks Junmyeon in glasses is kind of sexy. He feels his cheeks heating up and he looks down back at his book again. He needs to concentrate on Holden Caulfield not feeling sexy as the prostitute in his room takes off her dress. Junmyeon as a boyfriend looking sexy in glasses is not what his brain needs.

 

“I checked Luhan’s bank activity since March 8, he paid bills for a patient at a hospital. The patient is one Wu Yifan, who was admitted with fractures,” Min Yoongi reports to Kang Daesung.

“Oh? Do you know where Yifan is then?” Daesung asks.

“No.”

Daesung receives a text on his other phone. He checks it and scowls. He tells Yoongi to hold on as he replies to the text. Another text arrives, his scowl easing a little. He says to Yoongi, “Find out the address of a Kim Junmyeon.”

“Junmyeon?” Yoongi scribbles down the name, “And then what?”

“I am sending you a picture of Wu Yifan. If you find him there, kill him.”

“Okay.” Yoongi disconnects.

 

“Okay, his vitals are a-okay and he is healing along nicely,” Byul-li reads off her chart, “You are taking good care of him indeed.”

Junmyeon reads between the lines when Byul-li briefly glances at him through her bangs. Her perverted insinuation not escaping him. Yifan says, “Yup. Junmyeon is very caring.”

“That he is,” Byul-li nods her head, “I am Moon Byul-li, I am sorry I didn’t introduce myself before. Junmyeon and I are college friends.”

“Nice to meet you,” Yifan flashes his gummy smile.

“He is so cute,” she leans closer to Junmyeon to say that.

Junmyeon puffs out his cheek in frustration. Byul-li chuckles, “You are cute too!”

The two of them—Junmyeon and Yifan—had arrived on time for Yifan’s appointment. They were seated in an examination room waiting for the x-ray report that Byul-li brings. The stitches had been removed. Junmyeon nearly giggled when he saw the bald spot on Yifan’s head (the doctors had shaved his hair in that area to operate).

“Let’s go home,” Junmyeon says as he lifts Yifan to his feet.

Byul-li chirps, “Be careful!”

 

Junmyeon checks the water temperature in the tub. Perfectly warm. He wipes his hand on his sweatpants and walks out of the bathroom to get Yifan. He finds Yifan sitting on his bed, torso bare, having rid of his shirt.

“Ready?” Junmyeon smiles.

“Yes,” Yifan says and reaches for Junmyeon.

Junmyeon picks him up by grabbing his forearm. Yifan leans on to him and hops on one leg as Junmyeon takes him to the bathroom. Junmyeon leaves him standing by the tub, giving Yifan his privacy as he takes his shorts and underwear off. Meanwhile Junmyeon has his back turned to him as he busies himself with which shampoo and conditioner to use. He chooses the products he got from Yifan’s home.

He hears the splash of water and that is his cue to turn around. Yifan is chin deep in the water, his long leg bended, his knee poking out of the water and the other, injured, leg hanging from the side of the tub. Junmyeon sits down on the stool he placed at the head of the tub. He scoops some water and pours it down Yifan’s head. He squirts some shampoo on his palm and lathers up. The shampoo smells like wild berries meets woods drenched in dusk. Really nice and pleasant.

He slowly massages the product on Yifan’s scalp. He hears Yifan take a deep breath and lean back into Junmyeon’s touch.

Yifan finds himself relaxing into Junmyeon’s touch. He likes the shampoo’s smell. Junmyeon starts humming a song under his breath as he washes Yifan’s hair.

“Hey,” Yifan says softly, “Sing louder. I like to hear your voice.”

Good thing Yifan cannot see his face, because Junmyeon is pretty sure he resembles a tomato now. He clears his throat and sings louder. It is a song from a drama he had watched a long time ago.

Junmyeon washes the suds out of Yifan’s hair and applies the conditioner. He rubs it along Yifan’s black tresses for a while, trying to evenly spread the product. Yifan sits up a bit. Junmyeon’s eyes trace the dragon tattoo that nearly covers Yifan’s entire back. It is done in black and red, and it is very beautifully done. Previously, he had also noticed a mark on Yifan’s right shoulder. A scar of sorts, from a burn most probably.

He traces the scar with his finger. He feels Yifan shiver a little. He asks, “Do you know what this is?”

Yifan looks over his shoulders and down at the place where Junmyeon was indicating. He shakes his head, “All I remember about this is that I was small, the place was dark and a bigger person did this to me. I remember the sound of my flesh sizzling, and the smell of my skin burning. It hurt a lot…Everything hurt a lot. I was crying.”

Junmyeon gulps. He knows what that mark is. It is a branding. And he had seen it before, back when he had started working and was reading through old files. When he saw it first on Yifan, he was shocked. When he got to his office, he had checked the archive of cases ten years ago to check if his memory served him right. He remembered the case. It was a young woman’s body. She was drowned and on her right shoulder was this branding—it was an intertwined ‘Y’ character in Chinese and the ‘L’ character in Korean. It signified the Yang-Lee faction in Seoul. They were involved in the flesh trade that started all the way from China and extended till Thailand. The trade had been finally eradicated in 2006 when both Yang and Lee were found asphyxiated and gutted respectively in their respective homes.

And Yifan had the same branding. Junmyeon wonders what kind of life did Yifan have.

He remains quite as he washes the conditioner out of Yifan’s hair. He puts a towel over his head when he hears a loud hiss out in the living room. It is Suho, and he sounds agitated or hurt. Yifan hears it too as he says, “That was Suho, right?”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon gets to his feet, “Stay here, I will go check on him.”

Junmyeon leaves the bathroom and finds Suho standing on the kitchen counter, back arched upwards, tail straight as he bared his fangs at something behind Junmyeon. The kitchen is perpendicular to the bathroom so he doesn’t notice what is behind him. He turns around and gasps.

There is a short, pale, thin man in his apartment with a gun aimed at his chest. His first thought is Yifan as he turns around and makes a run for the bathroom. The man follows.

Junmyeon enters the bathroom and is about to lock the bathroom when he flies backwards as the door is pushed open. The man enters the bathroom. Yifan shouts and grips the side of the tub, trying to get up, “Who are you?”

“Your grim reaper,” the man says in a bored voice as he raises his gun and aims it straight at Yifan.

Junmyeon gets to his feet and throws his entire weight at the intruder, but a shot rings out. The intruder falls on his back and the air is knocked out him. Junmyeon fears the worst when he looks over at Yifan. He heaves a sigh of relief when he sees the bullet has just grazed Yifan’s left cheek, a thin trail of blood cutting through his cheekbones. Junmyeon turns his attention back on the man and spots the gun on the floor beside him that had fallen out of his grip. Junmyeon scrambles forward and grabs the gun before the man can get it.

Junmyeon grips the heavy, foreign object in his hand and turns around, pointing it at the intruder who slowly gets to his feet rubbing the back of his head. He glares at Junmyeon and before Junmyeon could fathom, the man jumps on him and tries to wrestle the gun out of the death grip Junmyeon has on it.

Yifan cannot move. The cut on his cheek not registered. He mutely watches the struggle between Junmyeon and the stranger. Suddenly, an image flashes in his mind of him wrestling in the dark with a man, a gun in his grip. He is brought out of his flashback when he hears a gunshot. The two men stop wrestling and Yifan’s heart stops. No, no, no.

But his fears are baseless as the intruder sways and falls backward on the ground. Junmyeon stares at the man on the ground, blood seeping out of his wound on his stomach. The gun in his grip starts shaking and falls from his loose grip, clattering noisily to the floor. His eyes are widened and his mouth is drawn in a thin line, Yifan can see them quivering. He gasps, “Junmyeon.”

“Oh god,” Junmyeon cries and slumps down against the tub, his eyes fixed on the body sprawled at his feet. The chest heaved once, twice, then a staggering breath and then silence. “I just killed someone.”

Yifan’s heart twists uncomfortably. He shifts in the tub ignoring the sharp stab of pain in his leg as he throws his arms around Junmyeon’s shoulders. Junmyeon grabs his arms, his blunt nail digging a little into Yifan’s arms. Yifan notes how cold his hands are. He says nothing but presses his lips on Junmyeon’s hair. He hears the hiccupping sobs that escape Junmyeon’s lips.

Just then another figure enters the room. They both look up to find Yixing gaping down at the body and then at them. Junmyeon blinks through his tears. Yixing asks, “You two okay?”

“Lay! Are they okay?” a voice shouts behind Yixing.

Yifan doesn’t remove his arms, neither does Junmyeon ease his grip on Yifan’s arms as they see Luhan entering the bathroom. The small bathroom suddenly is so crowded.

Luhan gasps as he sees the body on the ground; he recognises the man, “That is Min Yoongi.”

“I killed him Luhan-sshi,” Junmyeon hiccups.

“You didn’t mean to,” Yifan says in a firm voice.

“What do we do now?” Yixing asks.

“Junmyeon-sshi call the police,” Luhan says. The three who heard what Luhan said look at him in shock. He explains, “Don’t worry Junmyeon-sshi, this man is a dangerous criminal. And it was self-defence right? Yifan can vouch for you. We could have made the body disappear but this way we will be able to send a message to the one trying to hurt Yifan.”

Yixing nods his head in agreement, “Yes, I agree. Junmyeon-sshi call the police.”

Junmyeon gets up to his feet, his knees wobbling. He wipes his face, “Yeah, okay. But what are you two doing here?”

“Uh,” Yixing scratches his head. He flashes his dimpled smile, “We got a camera installed outside your apartment.”

Junmyeon cannot find it in himself to be surprised at that. He expected as such.

Luhan says, “We saw Min breaking and entering. We came over as quickly as we could.”

“Oh.”

“We gotta leave before the cops arrive. Lay?”

Yixing looks at Luhan who backs out of the bathroom. Yixing grips Junmyeon’s elbow and says, “Thank you for protecting ge.” He nods his head at Yifan before leaving.

Yifan finally speaks, “Junmyeon, who am I? And why are people trying to kill me?”

“I don’t know Yifan,” Junmyeon sighs.

 

Yoo Youngjae couldn’t understand what was happening to him. He thought he was safe in Daegu, but apparently he wasn’t. It is midnight and he is running down the empty streets, praying that he finds a police officer, or hell, even a civilian would do. Anyone who can save him right now will do.

His legs hurt, they are getting heavy. He can no longer run. He risks a look over his shoulder. He sees the black van following him. He cannot run anymore. His entire body is protesting due to the exertion. But then he trips. And falls on his knees. A pain shoots up from his knees, he has grazed them on the asphalt.

The car stops. He hears the door opening. He starts crawling away on his hands and knees, trying to get away. He knows he is going to die, and he didn’t want to die. He shouldn’t be punished like the others for his one mistake.

Suddenly he feels his hair getting harshly grabbed from behind. It hurts, and his eyes start watering. He cries, “Please, please. Let me go. I will go far away and never tell anyone.”

“Tch, tch Youngjae-hyung, that wouldn’t solve a thing,” the man says.

And that is the last thing he hears as a knife slices his throat open.

Chapter Text

His house is a crime scene right now. Terrific. He and Yifan (and Suho curled into a petrified ball in Yifan’s lap) are seated on the couch as Hakyeon, Seung-hyun, Amber, Siwon, Taemin and the new addition to the night shift, Im Jaebum, bustle around his apartment.

The body had been taken away and now Hakyeon and Jaebum were dusting for fingerprints. Taemin pats Junmyeon’s shoulder, “Hey, be careful okay?” Junmyeon nods his head as Taemin heads back to the lab to process all the pictures he took.

Amber approaches him next. She hugs Junmyeon, “You got the boss down here. Some power.” She releases him and says, “Oh gosh, I am so glad you are okay.”

Junmyeon says, his voice low and tight, “But I killed a man.”

“In self-defence,” Amber reminds him.

“Yes,” Seung-hyun says, “The gunshot residue on the victim is evidence enough.”

Junmyeon looks quizzically at his boss. Hakyeon chooses to explain, “You both have GSR on your hands, which proves the killing shot was at close range.”

“Also, we extracted the bullet from the wall. Mr Wu’s wound correlates with the trajectory,” Jaebum says, crouched against the bathroom doorknob.

“Yes,” Siwon says as he re-enters the apartment, he was asking the neighbours questions, “This is a clear case of self-defence. The inquest will be a breeze.”

Amber nods at the direction of her boss. She looks back at Junmyeon, “Do you know why he was here?”

“He was here for me,” Yifan says before Junmyeon could formulate the right—another elaborate lie—reply.

Silence descends on the room as everyone looks at Yifan. Junmyeon puts his hand on Yifan’s knees, oh fuck here goes, and says, “Yifan was pushed from the third storey of a building. Due to his head injury, he lost his memories. Since we were schoolmates a long time ago, I took him in. He has no family in this city. The guy today definitely came for him. Someone wants Yifan dead, and we don’t know why.”

Siwon whistles lowly, “This is serious. And here I was thinking maybe this was just a B&E gone wrong.”

“That means, we cannot leave you two alone here on your own,” Hakyeon says, his brows knitting.

“I can stay,” Amber says, “They need police protection anyway.”

“Hmm,” Seung-hyun says, “Siwon-sshi? Please put my employee under protection. I don’t want to lose him.”

Junmyeon feels like crying at everyone’s concern directed at him. He says, his eyes a little watery, “It is okay Amber. You don’t have to.”

“You don’t get to have a say,” Amber scowls.

“Let Amber stay here tonight, Junmyeon,” Siwon says, “Tomorrow I will put together a team to give all-round protection.”

“Sir, it is too—” Junmyeon tries to protest.

“Junmyeon, for Gods' sake, shut up,” Amber rolls her eyes.

 

In the end, Amber proved to be relentless. She left them briefly to get some sleeping clothes. She returned with pizza. That made everyone glad. Junmyeon prepared the couch for her and tended to Yifan’s wound.

Now it was somewhere after one in the morning and Junmyeon feels someone shaking his shoulders. He opens his eyes to see Amber shaking his shoulders with a panicked expression on her face. He is about to ask what is it when she says, “It is Yifan.”

Junmyeon jumps out of his bed and runs over to Yifan’s bedroom. The door is open and the lights are already on.

Yifan is thrashing on his bed and groaning, his forehead beaded in sweat. Amber says, standing beside Junmyeon, “I had gotten up to go the bathroom when I heard movement in his room. I opened the door to this. I tried waking him up but I couldn’t. That cannot be good for his leg right?”

Junmyeon doesn’t say anything as he sits down beside Yifan. He strokes his head and says loudly, his voice breaking, “Yifan, wake up, please wake up.” Junmyeon hates to see him in pain like this.

Junmyeon shakes him a little. It seems to work as Yifan wakes up, blinking confusedly, tears streaming down his face. He notices Junmyeon and throws his arms around Junmyeon. He presses Junmyeon close to his body and Junmyeon is surprised to see how violently Yifan is shaking. He rubs Yifan’s back in soothing circles, trying to calm him down. Junmyeon says, his lips brushing against Yifan’s neck, “Hey, hey it is over. You are okay.”

“Junmyeon, all those people screaming…all that blood…I think, I hurt all those people,” Yifan whispers, his breath ghosting over Junmyeon’s ear. “They kept coming after me, they wanted me to die.”

“No one wants you to die,” Junmyeon says. He runs a hand from Yifan’s head to the small of his back.

“Really?” Yifan says and pulls back, his head resting back on his pillow, his arms still circled around Junmyeon’s neck. His eyes blinking from under his bangs, eyelashes wet and eyes wide in question.

Junmyeon smiles down at him and swipes the hair that falls in Yifan’s eyes. He leans in closer and kisses Yifan’s forehead. He hears the hitch in Yifan’s breath. He leans back and says, “Yes, no one wants you to die, especially me, okay?”

Yifan nods his head. Junmyeon pries the arms around his neck and stands up, not before making sure Yifan’s injured leg is okay. He says when he realises Amber had left the room, “I think I owe Amber an explanation. I will be back.”

Junmyeon walks out and shuts the door behind him. He rubs the bridge of his nose. Why, oh, why did he just kiss Yifan on his head? What possessed him?

He is falling into this vortex of confusion when a voice chirps, “He is okay now?”

Junmyeon looks up to find Amber perched on the kitchen counter a glass of red wine in her hand. Junmyeon mock scowls, “Oh my god, you touched my alcohol.”

“Hey, consider this payment for me protecting you!”

Junmyeon walks over to her and pours himself a glass, or cup actually since he doesn’t remember where he put the wine glasses. Amber was drinking from a normal glass. He says, “Aren’t you supposed to stay sober while on duty?”

“Hey, just one glass!”

“Just one glass then.”

Amber sips quietly for a while before she asks, “So, who exactly is Yifan?”

Junmyeon sighs. He knew this was going to happen, he knew Amber had questions. He quietly says, “Are you asking as Amber Liu, the inspector or Amber, my friend?”

She looks at him with unreadable expression before she replies, “I am asking as Amber, your friend.”

Junmyeon sighs as he edits his story, “Yifan and I used to go to the same high school. He was a year ahead of me. And he was a bully,” he doesn’t react to her sharp intake of breath, “Our relationship was not nice at all. But then he left the school after a year. I didn’t see him for ten years. It was actually just a massive coincidence that on the day he was admitted to the hospital, Jung Daehyun’s body arrived at the same hospital. When I recognised him, lying on the gurney like that, I found myself unable to leave.” He takes a big sip of his drink, “And that is all. I don’t know anything about his life, what he did for the last ten years, or why there are people trying to kill him.”

“I see,” she says (he wonders if she really did see), “Junmyeon, you are not falling for him are you? I saw the way care for him, and who brings home a dude they haven't met in the last ten years? Feels like some twisted, weird crush..."

He chokes as the wine travels down his windpipe instead. He looks aghast at his friend, who raises her eyebrows. He says, “What? No!”

“Whatever,” she says as she finishes her drink, “Just remember this Junmyeon, his memories will return. What will you do then?” She gets down from her seat on the granite top.

Junmyeon looks down at his cup. He admits in a low voice, “I don’t know.”

“I don’t want you to be hurt,” she says as she walks away, yawning, “Good night.”

“Good night,” he mumbles around the ceramic as he finishes his drink.

He washes his cup and her glass. He turns off the light in the kitchen and enters Yifan’s room. He feels Suho brushing past him and entering Yifan’s room. Yifan has his eyes closed. 

 

Yifan touches the spot Junmyeon kissed him. He feels his skin prickling where Junmyeon’s soft lips pressed down. A silly grin covers his face even if he feels his injured leg throbbing in pain. He feels happy. He thinks Junmyeon must be magical because his kiss makes Yifan forget about his horrible nightmare a little.

The grin drops from his face as he remembers something else from his dream. He remembers Yixing was in it, and the two of them were standing in a room, four dead bodies around them. They were panting and there was blood on both of their faces and clothes.

He hears muffled voices from the kitchen. Amber and Junmyeon are having a conversation but it is too low for him to discern the words. He closes his eyes and tries remembering what he saw. He was holding a gun. He can still feel the weight of it in his hands. Something tells him it was just not a dream, it was his reality. A fragmented, foggy piece of his reality. As if what Luhan said today triggered some covered, hidden piece of truth of his life. Then the scene changed and it was like that other nightmare again. Except the corpses started moving and wanted to kill him. He shudders remembering the way the undead bodies clambered after him, hungry for his demise.

Is he some sort of killer? The thing that Luhan said today, that he can make bodies disappear, has bothered him for a while. If he and Luhan are friends, that means Yifan’s life is nothing legal. When Junmyeon and that Yoongi guy were wrestling over that gun, he had a flashback. He tries remembering that image. It was too dark; he couldn’t place that face that was fighting with him. It was too dark, but the face felt familiar.

He hears the door opening and Junmyeon switching off the lights. Junmyeon is about to leave when Yifan opens his eyes and says, “Hey, my leg hurts.”

Junmyeon says nothing as he comes closer and pulls out the drawers on the bedside table. He brings out the painkillers and Yifan hears the aluminium foil getting ripped under Junmyeon’s fingers. Junmyeon says, “Open your mouth.”

Yifan opens his mouth and Junmyeon drops the pill in his mouth. Then Junmyeon presses the rim of the water bottle against Yifan’s lips and slowly tips the water down his throat. Yifan gulps down the tablet and wipes his chin as water dribbles down. He says, “Stay please.”

“I wasn’t planning on leaving,” Junmyeon smiles, his smile is angelic to Yifan whose heart skips beats when Junmyeon says that.

Yifan scoots closer to the wall to make space for Junmyeon. Then Yifan gets surprised, but pleasantly so, when instead of sitting, Junmyeon lies down beside him. Their shoulders and fingers brush against each other. Yifan is staring at Junmyeon’s side profile while Junmyeon is staring at the ceiling. Junmyeon speaks first, “Yifan, when your memories return, will you forget about me?”

Yifan is surprised by this question. He asks, “What do you mean?” He grabs Junmyeon’s wrist.

Junmyeon turns to his side, shakes off Yifan's hand and rises on his elbows. He props his head on his hand and runs his fingers through Yifan’s hair, “Nothing” he says with a smile.

But the smile is sad. Yifan can see the sadness in his eyes in the semi-dark room. Yifan swallows the feelings that catch his throat. He grabs the hand on his hair and brings it on top of his heart. He knows Junmyeon can feel his staccato heartbeat. He says, “I will never forget you, I will never leave you.”

Yifan sees Junmyeon’s Adams’ apple bobbing up and down. His eyes widen fractionally. He fists the hand under Yifan’s larger one. He says nothing as he leans over Yifan, eyes closed and presses his forehead against Yifan’s. He murmurs, his breath fanning over Yifan’s lips, “I will hold you to that.”

Junmyeon is so close. Yifan can count his eyelashes, he can also tilt his head up a little and capture Junmyeon’s lips. He is about to do so when Junmyeon leans back. Yifan misses the closeness already. But he sees a real, happy smile on Junmyeon’s face. Junmyeon lays his head down on the pillow and says, “Good night Yifan.”

Junmyeon takes a deep breath and closes his eyes. Yifan doesn’t yet. He watches Junmyeon for a while, enchanted at the proximity. He doesn’t want to leave Junmyeon. He wants to be close to Junmyeon forever.

 

Amber wakes up somewhere after nine. She panics a bit when she sees the time, she overslept! But then she remembers she is not at her home. She stretches and gets up. She realises she is the first one awake considering the apartment is completely silent. She goes to Junmyeon’s room first and is a tiny bit surprised (but not really) to see it empty.

She walks to the next room, the door’s ajar so she gently pushes it and grins. Junmyeon and Yifan were sleeping together, Yifan tucked under Junmyeon’s chin and Suho sleeping on Yifan’s plaster. It was kind of endearing to see the taller man making himself smaller just to hold on to Junmyeon like that. Suho wakes up and yawns. She beckons at Suho and whispers, “Come on boy.”

Suho listens and jumps down from Yifan’s leg. They both leave the slumbering males alone. Amber decides to make breakfast for them.

 

Yifan wakes up before Junmyeon. He has his face pressed against Junmyeon’s neck. He turns his head and blinks at the ceiling. He looks back at Junmyeon again and his breath catches.

Yifan silently admires the pale skin, and the long lashes brushing against his cheeks. Junmyeon’s nose is kind of perfect and cute. His lips are slightly opened. Yifan traces his thumb across Junmyeon’s lower lip gently. They are thin, but they are pink and soft and Yifan wants to kiss them. In a few words, Junmyeon is beautiful. And Yifan is so damn enamoured.

Yifan removes his thumb and he sits up. He looks down at his injured leg. He still cannot shake off that Junmyeon meant more than he said last night. His question still reverberated around his head. What did Junmyeon mean? He might have said nothing but Yifan knows that he was lying.

Yifan kind of lied too. He didn’t tell Junmyeon his entire dream. He didn’t say that he was remembering things.

He hears the bed creak a little. He looks over his shoulder to see Junmyeon sitting up and rubbing his eyes. He smiles, “Good morning.”

“Good morning,” Yifan says.

There is a knock on the door and it opens to Amber peaking her head in. She chirps, “Hey sleepyheads! You guys are awake, good. I made breakfast.”

Junmyeon asks, “What time is it?”

“Ten I think.”

“Oh my god, that is so late!” He has a mini panic attack at that.

“Hey buddy, you kind of had a traumatic experience yesterday? So you don’t need to go today?”

“Oh yeah,” Junmyeon chuckles when he remembers, “I have day offs guaranteed.”

“Okay then, get up before my pancakes get cold!”

 

Junmyeon ends up going to the station anyway. Not for work, not as an employee but as an average citizen (who shot someone) about to go make a statement about the crime he was involved in. Funny how tables turn. He wishes he could sit with the universe for tea and ask it why him and why all this.

Siwon sits with him throughout the interrogation. A detective Jung Taekwoon was questioning him. It kind of felt nice to have the Chief of the Homicide Department silently supporting him (also Jung Taekwoon has a scary face). He is allowed to leave after two hours and noting down the date of the inquest.

When he is about to leave the station, Amber finds him. She grabs his elbows and says in a low tone, “The dead dude has been identified, a Min Yoongi, contract killer and sleuth extraordinaire. That means he was hired by someone to kill Yifan. Junmyeon, be careful, be very, very careful.”

Junmyeon schools his expression to look shocked because he knew everything anyway. He nods his head slowly, “I will, yeah.”

He walks out of the station. He wonders what Yifan is doing. He left him with Yixing and Luhan.

He gets into his car and takes a deep breath. He tries to arrange his thoughts. There is too much noise in his head. Then a chill creeps up his spine when he remembers that he, accidentally or not, killed a man. A living, breathing human being. He has cut open enough dead bodies, but when he saw the lifeblood seeping out of a human in front of his own eyes, he was terrified. He is responsible for a loss of life. He is responsible for putting a corpse on the metal table. He slams his head on the steering wheel.

Then there was Yifan’s “I will never forget you, I will never leave you” that made his soul want to leave his body. Yifan doesn’t know what he promised. Junmyeon dreads the day Yifan will get his memories back. Yifan will forget him, Yifan will leave him.

He starts the car and he again thinks about last night. He doesn’t know what possessed him to do what he did yesterday. Okay, well, he got this amazing urge to kiss Yifan senseless and he didn’t want to scare Yifan so he pressed his forehead against Yifan’s to stop himself from doing anything stupid.

He stops at a red light and thinks about the time he decided on fight (instead of flight) when Yoongi held Yifan at gunpoint. He doesn’t know where he got the courage from to do so. He just knew he was responsible for Yifan’s health. And life. And no one was fucking allowed to kill Yifan under his watch. Also adrenaline and all that shit he thought would never happen to him.

So he killed a man for Yifan. Okay, a dangerous man who had the greater intention to kill them, but nevertheless, Junmyeon took a human life, self-defence or otherwise and he knows he will never quite learn how to deal with it. Then the other, glaring obvious truth is staring at his face—Yifan is on someone’s hit list. And they live together. Simply terrific.

When he steers his car into his apartment’s parking lot, he is surprised to see that he drove himself home in one piece considering how messed up his head was. He wonders how Luhan and Yixing were faring.

 

Yifan didn’t want to be alone and Amber told him he didn’t have to go to the station yet, she will send someone here for his statement. Then Junmyeon said when Amber left, “You keep asking who are you. I was thinking I should call Yixing and Luhan here. Maybe they can help…if you want to that is.”

Yifan had agreed a little unwillingly. Twenty minutes after Junmyeon left, Yixing and Luhan arrived with Jongdae. The youngest was immediately taken by Suho. He squealed, “Oh my god, Junmyeon-sshi has a kitty!”

Yifan sat down on the couch and asked him, with no preamble, “Can you tell me about myself? Why do people want to kill me?”

“Huh,” Yixing says, “Where do we start?”

Luhan smirks, “We can tell you one thing, you are a dangerous man.”

Yifan frowns.

 

Luhan stands up from his seat. Jongdae was telling how he and Yifan met. Luhan knows the story.

Jongdae was a hacker in his spare time (he had a perfectly normal job as a grocery store employee) stealing information and money when one of his ‘free-time’ adventures got him into really big trouble. But it wasn’t completely his fault. Yifan and Luhan were sent to kidnap him and scare the information out of him. They were expecting a quiet, nerdy person. What they got was a short, loud man who wouldn’t stop talking and being sassy. At least he was honest. He gave them helpful information in exchange for his life. Luhan was impressed. He convinced Yifan to let Jongdae come work for them. And all this was a year ago.

“You looked ready to kill me when I called you Bitchface Dragon King,” Jongdae laughs.

“Bitchface?” Yifan asks.

“Yeah, ‘cause you never smiled. Just kind of smirked all the time.”

“Junmyeon’s here,” Luhan says when he recognises the Hyundai rolling in the parking lot.

“He is here?” Yifan asks, his head whipping around to stare at Luhan.

Yixing who was standing in the kitchen raises his eyebrows at Yifan’s reaction. He shares a glance with Luhan who didn’t miss Yifan’s reaction either.

“Cue for us to leave?” Yixing asks.

“Yeah,” Luhan says. He looks at Yifan, “I know we didn’t say much but, it is just, we want you to remember on your own.”

Yifan nods. He understands. Jongdae stands up, he pats Suho one last time, “Goodbye Suho, I will miss you. And you too hyung! Take care of yourself. Oh no, don’t get up, we will show ourselves out.”

Yixing says, “We are here for you. It kind of stings that you cannot remember us, but it was nice of Junmyeon to ask us to babysit you today. Take care.”

Yixing drags Jongdae with him when he realises Jongdae just might kidnap Suho. Luhan is the last to leave, he pats Yifan’s shoulder, “Yifan?” Yifan looks up. “Don’t hurt Junmyeon.”

“Why would I hurt him?” Yifan asks, brows furrowing.

Luhan simply smiles before he leaves. When he is outside, he sees Yixing and Jongdae waiting by the elevator. Yixing says, “He is getting too attached to Junmyeon.”

“I know,” Luhan says, “But I can’t decide if it is a bad thing, or a good thing.”

“We will just have to wait and see,” Jongdae says.

The elevator doors open and Junmyeon walks out. He is kind of startled to see the three of them staring at him. Jongdae grins, “Hello!”

“Hi,” Junmyeon says.

Yixing says, “We were just leaving.”

“Yeah,” Luhan says, “Yifan looks a lot better.”

“You have a such a nice cat,” Jongdae pouts, “I wish my apartment allowed pets.”

“Oh, yeah Suho is very well-behaved,” Junmyeon nods.

“We didn’t tell Yifan much,” Luhan says, “It is better if he remembers on his own.”

Junmyeon ducks his head and nods, “Yeah.”

Yixing, Luhan and even Jongdae notice the sad, faraway look in his eyes. The three of them share a glance. “See you around Junmyeon-sshi,” Luhan says and pushes his two associates in the elevator.

When the doors close and the car moves down, Yixing says, “Oh, well, looks like Junmyeon is getting attached as well.”

“This won’t end well Lay, this cannot end well,” Luhan shakes his head. Attachments were the bane in their existences. Nothing beside fleeting engagements survives. All of them, Luhan, Yixing, Jongdae, and even Yifan, know that all too well.

 

Junmyeon enters his apartment. Yifan is seated on the couch, his head turns to look at him when he sees Junmyeon. He smiles, “Hey.”

Junmyeon smiles back, “Hey. Hungry?”

“Kind of.”

“I was thinking maybe we could go out for lunch?”

“We can?” Yifan’s eyes light up a little. He really misses the outside world.

“Yeah. We will go to Butterfly. Seokjin insisted on taking you there once.”

“Okay. Junmyeon?”

Junmyeon walks into the kitchen to get some water when Yifan calls him. Junmyeon says, “Yes?”

“Luhan told me I am a dangerous man. I think I am a criminal of sorts,” Yifan ducks his head, “I am putting you into danger. I, I can’t thank you enough for taking care of me.”

Junmyeon grips his glass of water hard. He says, “You don’t have to say anything.”

“And I will never hurt you,” Yifan raises his head, his eyes blazing with conviction as he locks his gaze with Junmyeon, “I don’t understand why Luhan told me not to hurt you. Why would I hurt you?”

Junmyeon just takes a shaky breath. He wants to scream at Yifan that he really, really wants Yifan to stop saying things he won’t mean later. Doesn’t he understand how much it hurts Junmyeon? Yifan is already hurting him.

But Junmyeon doesn’t scream. Instead, he sweetly smiles at Yifan, “You are dramatic. Now come on, I will help you get ready.”

 

Kang Daesung gets the news of Yoongi’s death over a text message. He grips his phone hard, fuming inside. He cannot believe even Yoongi failed. Wu Yifan must have been born under a very lucky star indeed. But everyone’s luck runs out at one time or another.

His gaze falls on the papers strewn over his desk. Suddenly his attention is captured by a page that Yoongi had send over—information about Luhan. Daesung grabs it and reads it, a name jumping out of the words he reads.

Daesung smiles. No one can deny that Kang Daesung knew how to get his way. He presses the intercom on his desk, “Krystal? Note down that you need to call Luhan at my office at ten p.m.”

“Yes sir,” his secretary answers.

Time to get some loyalties tested.

Chapter Text

Seokjin squeals, “Oh my, look who’s here!” when he sees Junmyeon entering Butterfly with Yifan.

Junmyeon sighs, already exhausted, “Jin.”

“Yeah, yeah okay,” Seokjin walks around the counter to get near Junmyeon and Yifan.

“Hi Jin,” Yifan smiles.

“At least someone is happy to see me,” Seokjin pouts.

“Who is happy to see you?” a man comes up behind Seokjin and puts his hands on Seokjin’s broad shoulders.

“Yifan is. Remember I told you about them?” Seokjin says, turning around to talk to the man.

The man smiles, deep dimples forming in his cheeks. His hair is bleached and he has a nice round face. Junmyeon says, “This is Kim Namjoon, the only man who can be happy twenty-four seven to see Jin.”

“Oh?” Yifan says, shaking Namjoon’s hands.

“Nice to meet you Yifan-sshi, heard so much about you,” Namjoon smiles, “Anyway I gotta leave.” He kisses Seokjin’s cheek, “See you later babe.”

“Bye Joonie,” Seokjin waves as Namjoon leaves. His cheeks dusted lightly with pink. “He is a music producer,” he adds a little dreamily.

Yifan is a little curious about the very public display of affection. He asks Junmyeon in a hushed voice, “Is that Jin’s boyfriend?”

“Yes,” Junmyeon replies, “Poor guy. He doesn’t know what he has gotten himself into.” The last part is said a little louder.

“Hey!” Seokjin hears what Junmyeon says.

Junmyeon raises his hands in surrender, “Now, give us a seat will you? Or do you want to keep an injured man standing?”

Yifan scoffs at Junmyeon as Seokjin rolls his eyes and says, “I should just kick you out and keep Yifan here. But, like, are you two on a date?” He even adds a suggestive eyebrow wiggle.

Junmyeon blushes, “Jin!”

Yifan shakes his head, “Uh, no.”

Seokjin giggles, “I was totally joking but your reaction was worth it. Now come in, let me introduce you to my staff!”

Seokjin ushers them inside and he points to a pretty woman stocking the bread rack, “That is Ahn Hee-yeon, our resident pastry goddess.”

Hee-yeon wipes her hands on her apron and smiles, “Well hello Junmyeon oppa, you haven’t been here for a while.”

“Been busy,” Junmyeon grins.

“I can see that,” Hee-yeon smirks and kind of stares suggestively at Yifan who finds it unnerving.

Junmyeon bites his lip. Who said it was a good idea to bring Yifan here? Oh right, it was his. Good job, genius.

Yifan says, “You are the one making all those cakes? I love them!”

Hee-yeon blushes, “Always nice to meet a fan!”

“Are you,” Seokjin gasps dramatically, “Blushing?”

“Hey,” Hee-yeon reverts back to her real self, “I got my womanly charms.”

Suddenly the sound of glass breaking to their right attracts their attention. They turn to see Minseok staring down at his feet. An employee comes out from the kitchen. She asks, “What happened?”

Seokjin leans over the counter, “You broke a glass hyung.”

“Ah yes, sorry, it slipped,” Minseok says, his voice shaky.

“Oppa, you okay?” the girl asks.

“Yeah hyung,” Seokjin frowns, “It is just a glass. Min-ji? Help him clean it up,” he tells the girl. “Oh, this young woman is our line chef, Min-ji and that man who feels upset when he breaks glasses is Kim Minseok, our coffee superstar.”

Yifan bows and smiles at them both. Junmyeon notes the surprised look Minseok gives Yifan. Seokjin claps his hand, “Okay, then, you two here for lunch?”

Junmyeon says, “I am about to change my mind.” Why does he feel bristly at the way Minseok keeps looking at Yifan from the corner of his eyes? He knows Yifan is attractive, but he was under the impression Minseok was in a relationship or something. He grabs Yifan’s elbow and lets Seokjin usher them to a seat.

Yifan is a little taken aback by the possessive grip on his elbow. He just smirks. He didn’t miss the way Minseok kept looking at him. So Junmyeon is a bit jealous and it makes him very, very glad.

Seokjin says, “Since this Yifan’s first time here, I will prepare your lunch! Hope you like Italian food!” He nearly skips to the kitchen. Junmyeon shakes his head at his cousin’s antics.

 

Minseok’s shift will get over in another hour. His boss allowed him to leave early today. And thank god for that, because he cannot take it anymore—his former boss pretending not to know him is equal parts making him angry, frustrated, confused and glad. Well, he is glad because no one here, in Butterfly, knows about his past. Oh come on, how many vehicles had he hotwired and how many times had he helped Yixing hide bodies? But why did Yifan look at him like he doesn’t know him? What the fuck was with Yifan’s face too? He was smiling. Minseok had never seen him smiling. Never for the two years he was with the crew of Yifan, Luhan and Yixing. It is like seeing a unicorn, or something.

He is also very curious about how Junmyeon knows Yifan. Junmyeon is a medical examiner and Yifan is a criminal. How did two tangents like them collide? They are like at the opposite spectrums of society. Minseok has a million questions. But he couldn’t bring himself to ask Seokjin. Who knows how his boss will react. His boss is a gossiping ahjumma who, one can be assured, will misinterpret things like nobody’s business.

He decides to go talk to his boyfriend about this. He slips out unnoticed and walks to the back alley running behind the café. He dials his boyfriend.

His boyfriend picks up the phone and says, “Hey, love. I am surprised you are calling at this hour.”

“Luhan,” Minseok rolls his eyes, “Listen, something insane happened.”

“Ah that is why. And here I thought the love of my life was missing me or something.”

“Luhan!” Minseok giggles.

“Okay, okay, what is it?”

“Kris just walked into my café with my boss’s cousin.”

There is silence. Luhan doesn’t say anything. Minseok scowls. He asks, “Luhan?”

Luhan sighs, “I am sorry I didn’t tell you anything.”

“Tell me what?”

“Kris lost his memories.”

“What?”

“Yeah, long story short, someone tried killing him, and he got hurt. His head got, like, majorly fucked up and now he doesn’t remember anything.”

“That would explain why he didn’t recognise me.”

“Yeah. But wait, you said boss’s cousin? Are you talking about Junmyeon?”

Minseok raises his eyebrows, “You even know Junmyeon? God damn it Lu, what have you keeping from me?”

“I didn’t know your boss and Junmyeon are related! And here I thought that pastry bag that day was a coincidence…”

“Lu,” Minseok sighs, “This is all just a horrible coincidence.”

“Yeah, feels like a big joke.”

“I cannot believe someone would target Kris though.”

“Yes,” Minseok’s catches the heavy tone Luhan uses.

Minseok says, “There is more isn’t there?”

“Yes.”

“You don’t have to tell me. I wanted to stay out of that world.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“Anyway, I gotta go.”

“Okay. Love you.”

Minseok grins, “Love you too.” He disconnects the call and smiles down at his phone.

“Kim Minseok?” a voice asks him. He turns around to see a man looking at him. Minseok says, “Yes?”

“Huh,” the man says before thrusting a cloth over Minseok’s mouth.

Minseok recognises the smell—chloroform. He struggles but the man is stronger than him. He easily overpowers Minseok. The chemical starts working and he feels unconsciousness gripping him. He tries one last time to fight back before his eyes closes.

 

They are in Junmyeon’s car when Yifan says, “You are very lucky.”

Junmyeon doesn’t look away from the road as he raises an eyebrow, “What do you mean?”

“You are surrounded by wonderful people who love you,” Yifan says, his voice a little sad, “Dr Do, and Jin, and Amber. Even your boss and colleague like you a lot.”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon sighs, “Maybe. Why do you say that? Something on your mind?”

“I remember something,” Junmyeon briefly glances at Yifan, who finishes the sentence, “I am an orphan. I don’t have anyone.” Yifan quiets down. Then a few seconds later he says, “What about your parents?”

Junmyeon grips his steering wheel hard as Yifan continues, “I thought I’d see them by now. Strange guy living with their only son, I know I’d be worried!”

Junmyeon smiles a little at Yifan’s attempt at joking. He says, “My father is dead and my mother is unwell.”

“Unwell?”

“Yeah, she is in an institution since I cannot take care of her at home.”

“Oh.”

The rest of the way to Junmyeon’s apartment passes in silence. Junmyeon glances at Yifan every once in a while. Yifan seemed to be in deep thought.

When Junmyeon parks his car in the parking lot, Yifan finally speaks, “I am sorry.”

Junmyeon stops what he is doing and turns to face Yifan, his face scrunched up. Yifan unbuckles his seat belt and reaches towards Junmyeon and wraps his arms around the shorter man. Junmyeon is surprised but he pats Yifan’s biceps. “What are you sorry for?” he asks.

“I am such a burden to you. I don’t remember you. I sort of latched on to you because you were the first thing I saw after I woke up. You were attacked in your own home thanks to me. I don’t know who I am or what I do, and I constantly put you in danger by remaining here but I don’t know where else I could go! I hate this,” Yifan says, his lips pressed against Junmyeon’s hair.

Junmyeon is sort of at a loss of words due to the overwhelming sensations breaking on him like a tsunami. Yifan is embracing him, the car is tiny and the air is getting warmer. But it is comfortable in Yifan’s arms. So Junmyeon hugs him back, pressing his cheek against the taller man’s shoulder. He says, “So what do you want me to do? Leave you alone? I can’t do that. That is not how I work.”

“How do you work then?” Junmyeon feels Yifan’s body shake in laughter.

“The fuck do I know!”

Yifan pulls back and smiles at Junmyeon. They are too close; their faces are too close. Junmyeon notices it first and glances down at Yifan’s lips. They look soft and totally kissable. He feels Yifan’s fingers rest on his nape. The touch warm and electrifying.

Yifan notices it too. It is a small gap between them. He watches Junmyeon look at his lips. He sees the faint blush dusting Junmyeon’s cheeks. He could so kiss Junmyeon right now. He locks his gaze with Junmyeon. He hopes Junmyeon gets the hint. His heart is beating too loud and he wonders if it echoes in the small space of the car.

There is an ambiguous intensity in the way Yifan held Junmyeon’s gaze. As if he is trying to say so much without disturbing the strained silence. Junmyeon thought looking into his eyes is kind of invasive, yet kind of vulnerable. He doesn’t want to encroach and neither does he want to reveal himself too much. But Yifan’s unwavering gaze is making things difficult. Yifan condensed so much want and desire in that one gaze, and Junmyeon wonders what Yifan sees in his eyes. Can Yifan tell that Junmyeon wants it too?

Yifan strokes Junmyeon’s nape with his thumb. His neck feels hot. He sees Junmyeon’s eyes fluttering as he tries to take a deep breath and licks his lip. Yifan inhales shakily at the sight of that and desperately wants to feel those soft, inviting lips. He is not going to lie that he doesn’t want to kiss them and feel them on his skin.

However, neither of them can catch a break as the shrill sound of The Weeknd singing, “I only call you when it’s half-past five”, destroys the moment. Junmyeon jumps back and gets the phone out of his jacket. He sees it is Amber. He accepts the call, “Hello?”

“Hey, I had a question,” Amber says.

“Shoot.”

“Who checked out Himchan’s body from the morgue?”

“Uh, his older brother or cousin came by to take his body.”

“Who signed it out?”

“Dr Choi. Why, what happened?”

“Nothing. Just couldn’t find the right files.”

“Oh okay.”

“Take care buddy!” She disconnects.

“Yeah,” he whispers.

He daren’t look at Yifan. He nearly kissed Yifan today. If Amber hadn’t called, he would have kissed Yifan. And then what? He tries very hard to not hyperventilate. He finds himself unable to look at Yifan.

 

That night passed in awkwardness. There wasn’t much conversation. It was like walking on eggshells. Junmyeon couldn’t understand why Yifan wasn’t talking to him. Yifan couldn’t understand why Junmyeon refused to make eye contact with him. Yifan felt rejected and Junmyeon felt stupid.

Yifan thought that maybe it was mutual, that maybe Junmyeon wanted to kiss him too. But he chose to answer the call and then refuse to talk to Yifan. It was like Junmyeon subtly rejected him. It was like Junmyeon rather kiss someone else than Yifan. Is he that despicable? He isn’t trying to hurt Junmyeon. What is so wrong in wanting to kiss Junmyeon? He wonders if Junmyeon rejecting him has to do anything with the night when Junmyeon showed doubts about Yifan.

Junmyeon was so damn tempted. But he knew it was a stupid idea to kiss Yifan. He was already confused enough, who knows what kind of crazy thoughts will be born if he lets himself kiss Yifan? What happens when Yifan’s memories make a comeback? He isn’t prepared for Yifan’s reaction to that. Maybe he will be disgusted and regretting everything as soon as he becomes his real self. Junmyeon doesn’t want that, thank you very much.

The next morning Junmyeon doesn’t get down from bed as soon as he wakes up. He knows he should, he needs to take Yifan to the bathroom, fix them breakfast and a million other chores he has to do. But his body refuses to budge. He calls his boss. When the phone gets picked up, he says, “Good morning boss.”

“You are late!” Seung-hyun shouts, not angrily.

“Yeah, I know,” Junmyeon sighs, “I don’t feel too good.”

“Oh. No problem. I owe you three more day offs anyway!”

“Two, sir.”

“Nope, I am not counting the day after the attack in your home.”

Gratitude blooms in his chest. He smiles, “Thank you sir.”

“Yeah, you’re welcome. Take care of yourself!”

When the call is done, Junmyeon looks up at the ceiling again and sighs. Yifan needs him. He cannot let Yifan move on his own. Any wrong movement can hinder his healing. Junmyeon rubs his face. He is not the type to run away from responsibilities even if everything goes to hell. He has stuck by when his father was arrested and he had to change his entire lifestyle. He stuck by when getting an education and taking care of his mother got too much. He can do this. He gets up after chanting to himself that he can do it, that he can face Yifan, that his heart is being stupid and he doesn’t need feelings for Yifan.

He puts his feet on the floor when he hears the sink turn on in his kitchen. His heart jumps. Not another hired gun, is it? He stands up and cautiously moves to the door. He slowly opens it and peeks out. He heaves a sigh of relief when he sees it is just Yifan at the sink. Wait…it is Yifan at the sink.

He shouts, “Wu Yifan! Why are you out of bed on your own?”

Yifan jumps a little. He looks part deer-caught-in-headlights and part guilty. Junmyeon marches over to him and peers around the taller man. Yifan is washing a cup. Junmyeon asks, putting his hands on his hips and glaring, “What are you doing?”

Yifan puts the cup down in the sink. He sheepishly grins, “Is this your mom face? Jin and Kyungsoo told me about it.”

“Stop joking,” Junmyeon scolds, “Give me that.” He reaches for the cup in the sink, “Go sit down.” Yifan hobbles over and sits down at the dining table. “What were you doing anyway?”

“I wanted some coffee,” Yifan yawns.

“I will make some. Don’t get out of bed on your own. You could hurt yourself.”

“I had to pee.”

Junmyeon stares Yifan down, “Shout for me. I am literally next door.”

“Since you wake up before me and didn’t come for me today, I thought you must have been sleeping.”

Junmyeon narrows his eyes slightly. He focuses on making themselves coffee. He didn’t oversleep, he just didn’t want to face Yifan. But now that they were talking in the kitchen, it feels so domestic. It feels like last night’s awkward debacle didn’t even take place. He says, “Sorry for not waking up sooner. Say, do you want anything for breakfast?”

“Can you make pancakes?”

Junmyeon smiles at Yifan, “Yup!”

Junmyeon’s bright smile has Yifan’s heart doing funny things again. He cannot bring himself to not melt a little. He wants Junmyeon to smile like that at him always. He doesn’t want to be ignored by Junmyeon ever. He won’t try kissing Junmyeon ever again, no matter how hard that will be. He smiles back, “Can I help?”

Junmyeon laughs, “You don’t have to! I am the one taking care of you dummy!”

Yifan decides there and then that no, he will never ever try to do anything that will wipe that smile off Junmyeon's face, or stop that laughter that fills him with sunshine inside. An upset Junmyeon is something Yifan doesn't want to see ever. Even if his feelings for Junmyeon overwhelms him.

Chapter Text

Minseok opens his eyes in a dark room. He is lying on the floor. He tries to sit up when he realises that his hands and feet are tied. There is also a gag on his mouth. He feels annoyed and scared. He left the world of crime behind, he wanted a new start but here he was now, in a dark room, kidnapped and tied up. But he is also scared, he is kidnapped. And god knows where he is.

The room has no window, just two long pigeonholes in the wall opposite him as an excuse for ventilation. But he can see the sky from here, and it is night, judging from the thin yellow light from a streetlamp streaming into his room.

Suddenly the doors open. A tall man enters the room, the light behind him making a halo around him, hiding his identity. He says, “Yeah, he is awake.”

The man nods before he walks over to Minseok and roughly pulls him up by his hair. Minseok groans around the gag. The man pulls out the gag and says, “Here, talk.”

Minseok looks down at the thing in the man’s hand. It is a mobile phone. The man pushes the device against his ear. He blinks confusedly at the man before his kidnapper scowls and makes an impatient sound. Minseok gingerly says, “Hello?”

“Minseok?”

Luhan’s panicked voice over the speaker doesn’t ease him at all.

 

“Luhan-sshi?” a lilting female voice asks him over the phone’s speakers.

Luhan was in the process of heading home when his phone rings. He picked it up to that. He says, “Yes?”

“I am Krystal Jung from Kang Daesung’s office.”

He scowls, “Okay.”

“Mr Kang wants an audience with you at ten p.m. tonight.”

Luhan looks down at his watch. It is twenty minutes to ten. He really wanted to go home and snuggle on his couch with food, a movie and Minseok. But he knows he cannot refuse the boss. He says, “I will be there.”

“Okay.”

The secretary disconnects. Luhan keeps staring at his phone. What does Kang Daesung want with him now?

He gets in his Jaguar and starts the engine, the foreboding descending on him with full force.

He reaches the Kang offices at Gangnam a little after ten. He parks his car and enters the building. He takes the lift to the thirtieth floor.

He finds the door to Daesung’s office wide open.  He walks in and finds Daesung sitting on top of his desk reading a file. The man looks up at the sound of footsteps and smiles at Luhan, “Ah, Luhan, you came!”

“You called for me,” Luhan doesn’t smile back.

“Oh yes,” Daesung slides down from the desk and walks around to his desk. He sits down and gestures Luhan to do the same. Luhan takes a seat and looks at Daesung straight.

Daesung leans back and presses his fingertips together, “Why were you hiding Yifan from me?”

If Luhan is shocked by that, he doesn’t show it on his face. He smirks, “What? Why would I do that?”

Daesung leans forward and puts his elbows on the desk. The fake amiable smile drops from his face, the dangerous glint sliding back in his eyes, “I know you know that I sent Min Yoongi to kill Yifan. If you are wondering how, it is very simple. The Luhan I know would hide the body, not let the police get to it. But if he wanted to send a message, then…anyway you got what you wanted, I got your message.”

Luhan isn’t able to hold in his surprise now. His eyes widen and he inhales sharply. Daesung seems pleased with his reaction. He says, “You should do what I tell you to, you know. Your loyalty must be with me. I am Yifan’s boss. You are alive because of me as well. You shouldn’t have lied to me when I asked about Yifan earlier.”

Luhan scowls, “My loyalties lie with Yifan. I will do anything to protect my friend.”

Suddenly Daesung starts laughing. He throws his head back and howls. Luhan’s scowl deepens. He doesn’t understand what is so funny in this situation. Daesung finally stops and says, “Would you? Even if I tell you that I have something of yours, something or someone far more precious than Yifan?”

Luhan tilts his head to one side, the scowl not leaving his face. Daesung grins maliciously and picks up his phone which was placed on the desk. He dials a number and says, “Is he awake?” He listens for a few seconds and then gives the phone to Luhan.

Luhan looks down at the phone offered to him with deep suspicion. He takes it and presses the smooth glass surface to his ear. He hears feet shuffling and then someone’s muffled groaning. He throws a glare at Daesung, silently asking him if it is a prank when the silence stretches on the phone’s speaker.

“Hello?” a very familiar voice says.

Luhan feels like someone put ice down his shirt. He gulps and says, “Minseok?”

“Luhan?” his lover sounded unsure.

“Minseok!”

“Oh my god, Luhan! Luhan, someone kidnap—” his words get cut off.

“Minseok? Minseok?” panic rises in Luhan.

Daesung stands and leans over his desk. He snatches the phone away from Luhan. The Chinese man gapes at him.

Daesung grins, “Now will you do as I say?”

Luhan feels his soul and heart flayed in two.

 

The documents don’t make sense. Amber has been trying to make sense of them since she came back home.

Kim Himchan was murdered in his own home by a very clever device. Junmyeon’s report said that the gas was contained due to the sealed window. He had also noted down that when they entered the room, there was no smell. And yeah, Amber knows that. She didn’t smell anything either. Then the neighbour and superintendent said that the door to Himchan’s bedroom was opened. For the gas to work the door would have been closed too. Then who the hell opened the door?

And this is where the documents stopped making sense. Junmyeon’s reports had a page missing. The very page about the door being opened. Then the other page inserted by Dr Choi didn’t make sense either. Amber checked, Himchan had no cousins or brothers living here in Seoul. Who the hell took the body then?

She throws the page she was holding on her coffee table when something catches her eye. She picks up the page that attracted her attention. It said that Himchan used to work as a temp in the Korea National University of Arts. Now, where had she seen the college’s name before, that too, recently?

She frowns and exercises her brain for a while. Suddenly she remembers.

She rummages through the box of documents she had sneaked out of the station. After a frantic search she finally finds what she was looking for. She opens the file and gasps.

Jung Daehyun had passed from Korea National University of Arts a year ago.

 

It is somewhere after three, and somewhere after the third Studio Ghibli movie that Yifan says, “I want to meet your mother.”

Junmyeon was nodding his head along to “Totoro, Totoro” but stops midway and stares at Yifan. He asks, “What?”

“I said I want to meet your mother.”

“I heard what you said. I am just asking why?”

“I am just, I am curious. If she is unwell, shouldn’t you visit her more often? Look at Mei trying to go see her mother even if she is just four years old.”

Junmyeon sighs and pauses the movie. He says, “I should visit her. But it is so damn difficult.”

“Difficult?”

Junmyeon leans back on the couch and says, “You want to know?” When Yifan nods his head, Junmyeon says, “Okay. I will take you to meet her.”

An hour later finds them both in front of Blessed Hearth Home ambling at the gate, waiting for the security to give Junmyeon his id card back. When the man returns with his id proof, Junmyeon drives in further, the gravel crunching under the tires. He finds an empty space to park and gets down. He rushes over to the other side and helps Yifan get to his feet. Junmyeon says, “Mom usually stays outside in the gardens at this hour.”

Yifan can now walk easily with his crutches. That doesn’t mean Junmyeon stops hovering close, ready to catch Yifan if he falls. They walk to the garden and Junmyeon easily spots his mother.

His mother looks at him with a faraway expression. Yifan frowns. Junmyeon sits down beside his mother. Eun-yon looks at him and smiles, “You look familiar my child.”

“I came here a few days ago,” Junmyeon says pleasantly.

“Oh you did?” Eun-yon laughs. The way she laughs is a lot like how Junmyeon laughs—lilting and pleasant. “You know, you look a lot like my husband young man.”

“Really?” Junmyeon laughs but Yifan can see the heartbreak in his eyes. Yifan now understands by what Junmyeon meant by difficult. “Oh, you must meet my friend, Yifan.”

Eun-yon notices Yifan for the first time. She smiles brightly at him and Yifan knows where Junmyeon got his smile from, “Well your friend is rather handsome. Sit down, I see you are hurt.”

Yifan right now understands a lot yet not comprehending much.

 

Luhan grips the steering wheel hard, his knuckles turning white. He bites down on his lip. How did Daesung get to know about him and Minseok? Not even Yifan knew about them. No one knew why Minseok left them. Only Luhan knew. Because it was Luhan who wanted Minseok out of the world of crime. He wanted Minseok out before he killed someone. Minseok didn’t deserve the blood on his hands. Luhan had loved him and wanted to protect him. For the first time in his life, Luhan had something precious and worthwhile to protect. So Luhan had given him a choice—leave the gang and be with him or stay in the gang and forget about him. Minseok had chosen the former. And Luhan was overjoyed.

But now everything was at the risk of disintegrating. Just because he chose Minseok over Yifan.

And it was killing him. He kept swallowing the bile threatening to crawl up his oesophagus.

He loves Minseok. He will never be able to live if anything happened to him. So now he becomes the villain, drowning in hatred for himself for choosing to protect Minseok over everything else, over everyone else.

He cannot lose Minseok. He just cannot. He had to deal with a lot of hardship in his former life. He didn't know the meaning of love, or companionship, but Minseok made him see, feel and understand. His life changed in ways he did not understand.

A strangled sob escapes his lips. And the Chinese man slumps over the wheel, crying in his expensive car.

 

Yifan falls into silence after the visit to Eun-yon. Junmyeon asked him if he wanted to go to Butterfly, Yifan mutely shook his head. Junmyeon tried starting a conversation but Yifan didn’t respond.

Yifan was thinking. And his heart was breaking for Junmyeon’s mother. He felt guilty for not remembering Junmyeon, he has never felt more like a burden to Junmyeon than before. He wonders if Junmyeon hates him deep inside. Junmyeon already had to deal with his mother not remembering him, then he comes along. Yifan knows he would have despised himself if it was him in Junmyeon’s place.

Junmyeon keeps trying over dinner, trying to understand what it was that had Yifan thinking so hard. But to no avail. So now at somewhere after midnight, Junmyeon is perched on his kitchen counter drinking iced peach tea, his go-to comfort drink. Some people took to whiskey, some to cigarettes but Junmyeon took to iced peach tea.

He finishes the tetra pack of tea and chucks it into the waste basket. He is about to head to his room to try to sleep again when he hears a soft, “Junmyeon?” from Yifan’s room.

Junmyeon is startled. He thought Yifan was fast asleep. Maybe he needs to go to the bathroom. He enters Yifan’s room and says, “Need any help?”

“Please come here,” Yifan scoots over to the wall, making space for Junmyeon.

Junmyeon is a bit taken aback but he goes and lies down on Yifan’s bed after weighing the pros and cons of that (his almost kiss hasn’t been forgotten). He asks, “Another nightmare?”

“No,” Yifan says, “Why doesn’t your mother recognise you?”

Okay, Junmyeon was prepared. He knew Yifan would ask him this. He says, “She has Korsakoff’s syndrome.”

“What is that?”

“It is a sort of a memory disorder.”

“Like mine?”

A mirthless bark of laughter is what Junmyeon reacts with to that question. He says, “No. My mother took to drinking more and eating less after my father died. She developed a severe case of thiamine deficiency. That affected her brain. That is why she is nothing like you. She will probably never remember me, but you will.”

“Junmyeon,” Yifan grabs Junmyeon’s shoulder, “Do you hate your mother for that?”

“No, I don’t,” Junmyeon turns his head sideways to look at Yifan. His question was weird. “Why would I?”

“Because she can’t remember you.”

“That doesn’t mean I start hating her. She can’t help it. And I am still her only son, I can’t just hate her because she doesn’t recognise me.”

“Oh.”

Junmyeon pokes Yifan’s cheek, “Yifan?”

“Do you hate me?” Yifan doesn’t make eye contact with Junmyeon even though he knows Junmyeon is looking at him. Suddenly, it is so important for him to know that.

“No,” Junmyeon sighs, “But I used to.” The little admissions slips without his permission. Junmyeon bites down on his tongue.

Yifan looks at Junmyeon directly. He frowns, “You did? When?”

Junmyeon sighs, “A long, long time ago.”

Chapter Text

“I lied, we weren’t friends, you and me in high school,” Junmyeon says, “You used to bully me.”

Yifan is shocked. He says, “I used to bully you? Why?”

“I don’t know. But I used to wonder why too. You never directly bullied anyone, just me. I never got to know why.”

“What did I do?”

“Sabotage my homework, destroy my belongings, call me out for being a “rich weak fucker” and other things that alluded to my background. I mean, I know I was rich. But I couldn’t understand why that made you despise me. I never behaved like the other privileged kids. I remember when dad went to prison and we were left with no money, I used to think what would Wu Yifan tell me now?” Junmyeon cannot stop himself, “But life got so difficult after that, and you had disappeared. I didn’t think of you anymore.”

“I am sorry.” Yifan places his large hand over Junmyeon’s smaller one, “I sound like a horrible person.”

“You were pretty horrible,” Junmyeon weakly laughs, “You know we met the day before you ended up in the hospital?”

“Really?” Yifan asks.

“Yeah, you came with your posse to steal a body. You even pointed a gun at me. You didn’t shoot me but you knocked me out,” Junmyeon pouts and points at his temple, “You hit me right here.”

Yifan traces a finger over the spot Junmyeon indicated. He lightly brushes his lips against it. Junmyeon forgets how to oxygen momentarily. Yifan says in a low voice, “I am sorry for that as well. If I bullied you and hit you and was all over a terrible person to you, why did you bring me home?”

Junmyeon chuckles, “You know Suho is a stray? I found him when his mother abandoned him. So you could say I have a habit of bringing home cute strays!”

Yifan laughs, “I am cute?”

“Kind of,” Junmyeon grins, “I used to think you looked like an anime character in school.”

“An anime character?”

“Yeah, you had a ponytail and you were already taller than all of us. Then you walked with this I-don’t-give-a-damn attitude that was sort of attractive. I thought you would fit right into a shoujo anime!”

Yifan grins, his fingers slowly running through Junmyeon’s soft brown hair. He says, “You sound like you spent a lot of time looking at me.”

Junmyeon smile is sad and wistful when he says, “I did. In the beginning. I think…I might have had a weird, uh, crush on you.” He laughs when he remembers, “In fact, I thought I liked girls before I saw you! You were the reason why I changed completely.” He remembers the day well when he realised that, maybe, just maybe he admired Yifan more than just out of deep appreciation of anything manga…

“Wu Yifan, he is very handsome. That ponytail reminds me of a manga character,” Junmyeon nearly trips when he hears his classmate say that. He notices the way she smirks, like she was planning something not-so innocent with the tall, dark-haired, mysterious and good-looking boy.

“He only has his looks Hye-jin! You shouldn’t go for a guy like him!” he blurts out without much thought. He looks at her, notices her voluptuous figure and pretty face, and suddenly he knows that no way on earth will he be able to handle Hye-jin, the hottest girl in school as of now, dangling off Yifan’s arms. That image made him want to run all the way to the Arctic circle and never return.

“Why so?” Why? He is jealous and petty, that is why. This is first time crushing on someone his own sex. What else would you expect?

“He is good-for-nothing, everyone knows that. No one knows about him, or his background. Plus, I hear he skips class! He is not nice at all; I hear people say he is the devil!”

That seems to work as the girl pouts, clearly weighing her popularity against Yifan’s, if she is willing to risk her image by dating him. Junmyeon knows he won this time.

Then his smile is sad again as his little trip down memory lane ends, “But then you started bullying me and I started hating you instead.”

Yifan says nothing for the next few seconds, replaying Junmyeon’s words in his head—Junmyeon had a crush on him? Junmyeon decided he liked men because of him? Involuntarily, he leans closer to Junmyeon. He says, “I am sorry for hurting you.”

Junmyeon notices how close Yifan is. His skin burns when Yifan’s breath fans over his face. He is too close and Yifan is looking like that at him again. Junmyeon gulps. He hears the conflict in his head. One part wants to run and the other wants to stay. He doesn’t realise when his hand moves on his own and rests against Yifan’s chest, feeling the heat of his skin through the cotton and the firm beat of his heart.

Yifan moves to rest on his side. His leg complains a little but he ignores it. He has far more important things to give his attention to. He remembers his oath from last morning. But he finds himself breaking that oath when Junmyeon leans closer.

One kiss is all it took.

One kiss fuelled by all the mutual longing and heated gazes.

From the first trembling touch of their lips, Junmyeon forgets everything except Yifan.

Junmyeon hasn’t kissed anyone in a very long time. But the texture of Yifan’s lips, the pressure of his hands drawing Junmyeon closer against him, the delicious stroke of his tongue…

Junmyeon wondered why did he resist this so much?

Junmyeon sensed an earthiness in Yifan that drugged his senses and melted his inhibitions with staggering ease. From the moment they took the kiss deeper he could feel himself sliding deeper helplessly into a hot, spiralling tunnel of need.

Junmyeon tastes like peaches and god Yifan cannot get enough. He wants more.

There is no point in trying to pretend Junmyeon didn’t want this. No time for discussions or debates.

Junmyeon slips his hand underneath Yifan’s shirt and is pleased at the way his skin jumps under his palm. He has touched Yifan before but not like this. Meanwhile Yifan showers him with kisses on his jaw, on his earlobe, his neck. Yifan threads needy fingers in his hair and Junmyeon kisses a burning trail along his collarbone.

“Junmyeon,” Yifan breaths against Junmyeon’s ear, “God, you are amazing.”

“Don’t say that. You’ll make me cry.”

“Then I’ll kiss you better.”

Playfully, he teases Junmyeon’s ear lobe with the tip of his tongue and Junmyeon is overtaken by a desperate need to nibble-kiss the rough skin along Yifan’s jaw. He pushes Yifan on his back and gets up. He sits over his chest, straddling him, careful not to hurt Yifan’s leg. He is glad that Yifan choose to wear a button-down pyjama top tonight. He opens each button teasingly slowly. The sharp, impatient intake of breath tell Junmyeon that it is working. Yifan puts one large hand over his and growls, “Junmyeon?”

“Yes?” he asks innocently.

Yifan says nothing, just narrows his eyes and lifts his hips against Junmyeon. They were both half-hard by now, and Yifan’s sudden hip-lifting has him grinding right up against Junmyeon’s arousal. He groans. Junmyeon digs his blunt nails on Yifan’s chest. He says, “I am just trying to help an injured man here.”

Yifan groans as Junmyeon resumes paying attention to his exposed skin, “My leg is injured, my dick isn’t,” he gasps when Junmyeon licks over a nipple, “But it might be.”

Junmyeon chuckles against Yifan’s skin. He raises his head and smirks, “Let me take care of that then.”

Yifan’s eyes widen as Junmyeon’s sinful mouth inches lower and lower. He traces a burning trail of kisses and nibbles from his chest to his abdomen. He bites down on the skin below Yifan’s navel, which has him groaning again. Junmyeon decides he quite likes the sounds Yifan makes. His deep voice is music to Junmyeon’s ears.

Junmyeon raises his head and smirks down at Yifan, who looks at him, a question etched across his face. Junmyeon says nothing as he cups Yifan’s erection through the cotton pyjamas he was wearing. He runs his hand down and up, watching Yifan’s expression change from pleasure to annoyance, and back again, with amusement. Good thing Yifan sleeps with no underwear.

“What do you want Wu Yifan?” Junmyeon asks, his voice low and husky, and damn if that isn’t the sexiest thing Yifan had heard Junmyeon saying!

Yifan stutters, “A-anything, you, just…” He is far too lost in the haze of lust.

“Anything?” Yifan doesn’t miss the heated glint in his eyes. Junmyeon’s finger traces the skin right above the elastic band. He says, “I wanted to touch you everywhere for a while.” He wonders when did it get so easy to confess his deepest desires like this.

“So, why didn’t you?”

“Is this okay?” Junmyeon suddenly has doubts.

“What do you think?” Yifan scowls and points at his crotch. Real talker, Junmyeon grins.

Junmyeon casually hums as he slips his hand under the waistband. Yifan gasps at the sudden heat around his cock. Junmyeon tugs once, twice and pushes his pants down with another hand. He says, his voice huskier, “I am going to suck you off.”

Yifan just nods his head as words get stuck in his throat. Junmyeon is so fucking hot right now. His hair is messy, his lips are swollen and his small, slender hands are just right around Yifan’s cock. His breath is shaky when Junmyeon leans further and licks the tip, never breaking eye contact.

Yifan throws his head back. He wants to keep looking at Junmyeon. So he raises himself on his elbows. Junmyeon smirks devilishly around his cock. Then without any warning he puts the entire head in his mouth, his tongue pressed on the underside. Yifan growls.

Junmyeon has grossly miscalculated. Yifan is much bigger when he is hard like this. He had only seen the non-erect penis all the time he gave the taller man a bath, and that was big enough. But, Junmyeon doesn’t fret much. He can do this. He had wanted to do this any time the man stripped in front of him. He relaxes his throat and gag reflex as he started taking in more of Yifan. Also, he made sure he never broke eye contact with Yifan.

Yifan feels Junmyeon working his way down his length, the muscles relaxing around him. Junmyeon is trying to take in as much as he can, but Yifan just wanted to thrust in more into the warm cavity. As if reading his mind, Junmyeon runs lazy circles on his hipbones with his fingers, his touch firm but gentle. Then Junmyeon starts moving. And the sight of Junmyeon’s small, pink lips wrapped around his cock is too much.

When Junmyeon has figured out how much he can go, he starts bobbing his head, his tongue licking along the throbbing vein. His teeth lightly graze the skin. He feels Yifan grabbing his hair. Junmyeon can feel Yifan trying hard not to pull his hair too hard. Yifan’s breathing sounds uneven. If it is possible, Junmyeon feels Yifan getting harder in his mouth.

Junmyeon likes the weight in his mouth, he doesn’t mind the bitter precome that he licks off the tip with small kittenish licks. That has Yifan falling back in the bed, one hand still on his head and the other clutching the sheets. He curses and mutters Junmyeon’s name. His chest heaved up and down.

Junmyeon feels smug that he is the one reducing Yifan to a mess like this where he cannot even string a coherent sentence. He hears “Oh Junmyeon” and “Oh god” and something in Chinese and then a few “Oh fuck” strewn around.

What he cannot reach Junmyeon uses his hand. The room is only filled with Yifan’s heavy pants and the lewd sounds of Junmyeon’s mouth on Yifan’s cock. Junmyeon, all of a sudden, leans back and away from Yifan’s throbbing cock. Yifan looks at him through his eyelashes, his eyes silently asking what. Junmyeon gives him a lopsided smile, “Come for me Wu Yifan.” Then he presses his thumb down on the slit and rubs in circles.

That causes Yifan’s undoing as he takes one deep breath at the delicious pressure Junmyeon uses, his abdomen tightens and the next thing is him coming all over his abdomen and Junmyeon’s hand with a guttural moan. A little bit lands on Junmyeon’s chin.

He still rides his high when he looks up at Junmyeon again. Junmyeon uses his finger to wipe the cum off his chin. Then instead of wiping it off on the bedsheet or something, he puts the finger in his mouth and licks it clean. Yifan’s eyes widen. Fuck saying that Junmyeon’s husky voice was sexy, Junmyeon’s red lips licking Yifan’s release off his finger is the new sexy. He stares unblinkingly as Junmyeon coyly looks at him, his finger in his mouth, his lips slick with saliva and so swollen and beautiful.

Yifan doesn’t think next as he sits up, pulls Junmyeon down on his lap. Junmyeon removes his finger and grabs Yifan’s neck. They crash their lips together in a bruising kiss.

Yifan tastes himself on Junmyeon’s tongue, but he doesn’t fucking care. Junmyeon’s lush, tantalising lips sliding against him is too good. Yifan bites down his swollen lips. Junmyeon whimpers. Then Yifan takes his lips to Junmyeon neck, totally planning to paint that porcelain skin with a few red marks. Junmyeon throws his head back, allowing Yifan access. Yifan bites and sucks the skin presented to him. He hears Junmyeon mewling when he puts his hand under the latter’s t-shirt, stroking the firm skin that shuddered under his touch.

Yifan cannot believe he finally has Junmyeon like this, on his lap, whimpering and moaning. This is perfect. And he wants to never stop hearing Junmyeon’s breathy “Yifan” tickling his ear.

Yifan feels something poking his stomach. He looks down and realises Junmyeon is hard. Junmyeon follows Yifan’s gaze and his cheeks colour. He whispers, “Oh, well.” He kind of cannot believe he got hard sucking Yifan off.

Yifan smirks, “Let me take care of you for once.” He puts his lips against Junmyeon’s again and slips his hand in Junmyeon’s sweatpants.

Junmyeon is rock hard and there is precome leaking already. Yifan wraps his long fingers around Junmyeon, smearing the fluid along his length. He swallows the moans that come out Junmyeon’s lips.

He is alternating between stroking the entire length and pressing onto the slit. Junmyeon breaks the kiss. The stimulation is too much for him. He puts his head against Yifan’s shoulder and breaths hard and shallow. He grabs onto Yifan’s shoulder to centre himself. He knows he is close.

Yifan pumps his length one last time before Junmyeon comes hard in Yifan’s hand. His undoing comes hard and fast, with heat flashing his veins and he kind of feels boneless and he is glad Yifan has one arm around him, holding him up. He mutters against Yifan’s skin, “That was hot.”

Yifan chuckles and Junmyeon feels the vibrations of it. Yifan takes out his hands and wipes it on his shirt. He pushes it off his shoulders. Junmyeon takes the shirt from Yifan and wipes the release on Yifan’s abdomen. Junmyeon mutters, “I need new pants.”

Yifan laughs, “Go. But come back soon.”

“Yeah, yeah,” Junmyeon says and gets off Yifan.

When Junmyeon is back in his room looking for pants, he finds himself grinning like an idiot. He feels his skin burning at the places where Yifan touched him. He already wants to feel Yifan’s large hands all over him again. Maybe, one day, he could…yeah let’s not think too far ahead. This thing they had stumbled upon is new and uncharted territory.

As he walks back to Yifan’s room clad in new pants, he doesn’t think too much about what will happen once Yifan returns to his former life (that will be a mental exercise of anguish for another day). He re-enters Yifan’s room and finds him fast asleep. He has left enough space for Junmyeon to slip in.

Junmyeon slips in and turns sideways to look at Yifan. He is not going to lie. The repercussions of tonight will be an imbroglio when the right time comes. Junmyeon knows that, but for now, he wants to curl up in Yifan’s warmth and stay there.

Chapter Text

Moon Jongup knew he was next. He had read about the deaths of Himchan and Daehyun in the papers. Yongguk and Youngjae was missing but he knew they were as good as dead. So he isn’t surprised when he enters his apartment to see him sitting casually with a sinister smile on his face.

Jongup swallows, “You don’t need to do this.”

The man says, “Yeah, Youngjae said the same thing. So did Yongguk.”

“So Yongguk-hyung is dead?”

“Yeah. Bashed his head in. It was oddly satisfying.”

Jongup feels fear curling around him like a boa constrictor slowly choking him. He whimpers, “I knew. I knew you were coming. But, you don’t have to kill me!”

“Funny, Youngjae said the same thing,” the man stands. He is taller than Jongup. He says, “You made my hyung upset you know? You used my condition and my background to make all that mess. How did you expect to live after all that you did?”

“Zelo, please.”

The teenager smirks. He brings out the gun out of his leather jacket. He pulls back the hammer and aims it right in between Jongup’s eyes.

Jongup closes his eyes. This is it. He hears the trigger being pulled. Then nothing.

Zelo looks how Jongup’s body slumps sideways. He has finished what his hyung sent him out to do. He pushes Jongup’s body aside and walks out of the apartment. He takes the stairs from the third floor and jogs to his van. It is a van used to transport meat. He wrenches open the doors and drags the body bag out of it. He made sure that there was no people around beforehand. He is strong, he swings the bag over his shoulder and takes the lift back to Jongup’s apartment.

He closes the door and gets to work. He was already wearing gloves so he needn’t fear about fingerprints. He had been careful at Himchan’s place as well. He even came back and opened the door so the gas dispersed. But still he preferred killing outside. No fingerprints, no evidence. But Jongup is the last name on his list. And hyung said the message must be loud and clear.

He unzips the bag and Youngjae’s body rolls out of it. Zelo doesn’t move Youngjae on his back, he lets his body remain on his chest. The normalised temperature in the room would eventually get to Youngjae; he should leave before Youngjae starts decomposing.

He leaves with the body bag, not before looking once back at his former friends. He mutters, “We had it all, but then you all had to go fuck it all up.” He takes the stair to go down again.

 

Yixing waits for Krystal to arrive at the restaurant they went for dinner every alternative Sunday. It was a small Chinese eatery tucked away in between a second-hand bookshop and a nondescript clothing store. It was really small, not being able to seat more than ten people at the same time. But the food was splendid, the steaming bowl of sesame noodles and the stir fried pork with red chillies reminded him of a long lost memory. And this was the only time Lay can be Yixing and Krystal can just be Soojung.

They always met at the stop at Kwanchenru Street. Yixing always feels happier and lighter when he met Soojung. She was the best thing in his life now. Even though he will never tell her that. Their relationship is a bit strange. There is love, there is companionship, there is understanding. But, they never told each other anything. There are shared smiles, there is hushed whispers, there is holding hands, and if they find time, which they almost couldn’t, they had solace in each other’s arms all night long.

It is an unspoken agreement. They never used words. They just knew.

Soojung waits for him. He is a bit late today. But she doesn’t mind. It has been fourteen days since she last saw him. She knows how she feels about Yixing. But due to the silent, unsaid agreement between them, she never voiced her feelings either. She smiled at him, laughed at his attempt at humour and touched him with meaning instead. She kissed his dimples, held his hand and told him things on her mind instead. And she knew Yixing did the same, instead.

Yixing jogs up to her, and smiles sheepishly, “Sorry, I am late. Did you wait too long?”

Soojung smiles. How can she be mad when he flashed his dimples like that? She shakes her head, “Nope! A little less under five minutes actually.”

“Let’s go?” he reaches for her hand. Soojung lets him entwine their fingers together. Yixing is so solid and warm. Soojung’s heart flutters a little.

“Okay,” she smiles and they start walking to their little hole-in-the-wall restaurant.

They take their usual seats—a small booth sheltering them from people. The aunty running the restaurant waves at them, they wave back.

Their jasmine tea pot arrives first. Yixing fills their cups. Soojung giggles, “You know, I told my boss that I needed to go early today because my mother is sick.”

“Shame on you young woman, your dearly departed mother is crying up in heaven,” Yixing shakes his head.

Soojung giggles and covers her mouth. Yixing gently pries her mouth away and smiles, “Hey, don’t cover your face. I hardly see it.”

Soojung cards her fingers through Yixing’s and tilts her head to one side. “Cheeseball,” she grins.

They smile at each other, spending the break in conversation in having their fill of each other. No one knows about their relationship, they have been pseudo-dating for a year and a half now. The world in which they exist doesn’t allow them to have relationships, form emotional connections. There is always danger round the corner, always there is the risk of an enemy using your loved one against you.

They have to release each other’s’ fingers as their food arrives. Soojung knows why Yixing always orders the same thing—his beloved stir fried pork with red chillies. One night, when they were cuddling, Yixing holding her flush against his chest, he told her how the dish reminded him of his mother. Soojung had soundly kissed him then, her heart swollen with affection.

They eat and talk. Suddenly Yixing stops eating when Soojung says, “You know, my boss called on Kwon Jiyong that day.”

“When?” Yixing asks. Kang Daesung never calls on Jiyong unless the matter is very serious and the killing needs to be as clean as possible.

“I think it was on March 8?”

“March 8?” Yixing’s chopsticks drops from his hand. That was the day when Yifan fell from that third storey building. He asks, “Do you know what gun Jiyong was carrying that day?” Soojung is sort of a gun enthusiast and is a remarkable shot herself.

“A Magnum maybe,” Soojung says, chewing her broccoli carefully. “I saw it when the guard checked him. Wrong move though, you should have seen the guard’s face. Well, he was new, what did he know? Kwon Jiyong doesn’t have a mugshot framed in our hallway.”

“Soojung,” Yixing’s voice gets hard as pieces of the puzzle fall into place, “I need you to do me a favour.”

The tone of his voice didn’t miss her attention. She nods her head. Anything for Yixing.

 

Junmyeon wakes up first. He is tucked under Yifan’s chin. He blushes a little as he remembers the incidents of last night. He tries to detangle himself from Yifan. He actually plans to go to work today.

Yifan opens his eyes when Junmyeon moves too much. He grumbles, “Stop moving, my leg hurts.”

Junmyeon stops, slightly panicking. He says, “Oh my god, did I hurt you? I am sorry. I will stop moving.”

“At least you stopped moving.”

Junmyeon narrows his eyes. He realises that he fell into Yifan’s trap. He fumes, “You know unlike certain people, I have a job to do and all.”

Yifan complains but lets Junmyeon free himself. He sits up and stretches. He says, “This bed is too small.”

“Yeah,” Yifan sits up too and kisses Junmyeon on his cheek.

Junmyeon side-eyes him. He says, “I am moving you to my room. At least the bed’s bigger.”

Yifan keeps the lid on his excitement at Junmyeon’s words. He kisses him on his cheek again as a response. Junmyeon grins at him. He says, “Hey, what about I leave you at Butterfly today? Jin would be very glad to see you again.”

“Hmm.”

“Maybe come up with a new recipe for a muffin or cake?” He is not going to lie; he had thought talking to Yifan the morning-after might be awkward. But here they are, casually talking. The new ‘thing’ between them had quietly slipped in, never distorting what they already had. And he is thankful. And he feels an inexplicable emotion at that. His chest feels too tight and he wants to kiss Yifan senseless.

“I can do that?” Yifan’s eyes light up.

“Yeah, Seokjin always accept recipe ideas from others. You know who gave him that lavender buttermilk muffin idea? Me.”

“Yeah, they are quite lovely. I will go then.”

“Okay, let’s get you ready!”

“Hey,” Yifan grabs Junmyeon hand who jumps down from bed, “Can I kiss you?”

Junmyeon fights the grin trying to break out on his face at Yifan’s cute, uncertain face. As if Yifan is afraid Junmyeon will reject him. He leans over and cups Yifan’s face. He whispers, “Yes, you may.”

 

Seokjin knows something is different when Junmyeon walks in with Yifan in tow. Junmyeon gives an award-winning smile and says, “Can you babysit Yifan while I go to work?”

Seokjin nods, the feeling not leaving him. Junmyeon looks at the counter and says, “Hey, where is Minseok?”

Seokjin sighs, “Don’t know. He didn’t come back after he took a break yesterday. He is not even picking up his calls.”

“Who is going to make my coffee today?” Junmyeon is genuinely distressed by that piece of information. Sure, Minseok was looking weirdly at his…uh, Yifan, but Junmyeon still is a huge fan of Minseok’s coffee-making capabilities.

“Yeah I got a temp for today. He should be getting here,” Seokjin looks down at his watch, “By now.”

As if on cue the door opens and a young man tumbles in. He has a red baseball cap on his head and he blinks up, glancing between Yifan, Junmyeon and Seokjin. Junmyeon gets his confusion. He points at Seokjin, “This is the boss.”

“Oh,” the man walks over to Seokjin, “I am the Lee Seunghoon you called yesterday.”

“Oh, hello,” Seokjin says and stares Seunghoon down, “Show me how you coffee. Impress that man,” he points at Junmyeon, “With a thirty per cent sweetened Americano. Go, you have five minutes!”

Seunghoon nearly trips over his lanky legs. He skids behind the counter and starts with the coffee. Junmyeon asks Seokjin, “Where’d you find him from?”

“Remember Lee Jaehwan from my college?”

“The one who used to be your best friend before he stole your dissertation idea?”

“Yeah, I met him yesterday. I told him about how my barista was missing when he told me about his cousin. That’s him. Apparently he got fired from his last job because he refused to respond to all the flirting his employer, a woman who could be his mother, was doing.”

“Wow, you are lucky.”

Suddenly a bulb lights up in Seokjin’s head. Lucky! He grips Junmyeon arm and drags him sideways, away from Yifan. He says in a hushed whisper to a very confused Junmyeon, “You got lucky last night!”

“Huh, what?” Junmyeon is getting confused by the second.

“You and Yifan fucked didn’t you?”

Junmyeon looks at his cousin, shocked and speechless. He stutters, “H-how?”

“You look different. Satisfied and so does Yifan. And you are wearing a scarf! Ho ho, love bites!” Seokjin nods his head sagely. Junmyeon’s hand touch the scarf around his neck instinctively. But Seokjin had more to say, “Yup. So who bottomed?”

Junmyeon flicks Seokjin hard on his forehead. Seokjin whimpered in pain and ruefully rubbed his forehead. Junmyeon says, “No one bottomed, you prick!”

“So who jerked who off?”

Another flick. Another groan. Junmyeon hisses, “None of your business you fucker!”

“DONE!”

The two cousins jump at the sudden shout. It is Seunghoon who had shouted, in his hand is a steaming Styrofoam cup. Yifan who had sat down on one of the high stools at the counter claps his hand, “Wow that took you like three minutes!”

“Oh?” Seokjin peers down the cup and takes it. He sniffs it, “Okay, smells nice enough. Here, you are our judge.”

Junmyeon glances once at Seunghoon before taking the cup from Seokjin. Seunghoon has really small eyes, his eyes blinking at Junmyeon like a little lost puppy. He looks at the dark liquid and prays it is good. He doesn’t want to hurt Seunghoon. He takes a sip and his eyebrows rise up his forehead. He says, honestly, “This is good. He is good.” Yes, the coffee is good, his taste buds agree but his heart misses Minseok (coffee won’t be the same again, Butterfly won’t be the same again…yes he is aware he is being overtly melodramatic but coffee).

Seunghoon grins. Seokjin says, “Fine, you passed the test. You work here for today. You get paid by the hour, okay? If you impress me further, I may keep you on my temp list.”

Seunghoon excitedly nods his head.

Junmyeon says to Yifan, “I will go now. See you later, and take care of yourself!”

Yifan nods and smiles. Junmyeon’s heart skips a beat at that gummy smile, his favourite smile. Before he leaving he throws a glare at Seokjin’s direction, who innocently shrugs.

But Junmyeon knows Seokjin is going to jump on Yifan with questions as soon as he leaves. 

 

Amber’s head is reeling. The information she stumbled upon has her feeling very confused. She has found enough evidence to prove that the last two murders of young men where not coincidental. There is a serial killer on the loose with no decided modus operandi, except for the fact that he was only targeting people from the Korea National University of Arts. Himchan worked there as an office temp, Daehyun had graduated from there. To her, it did feel like a stretch because the cause of death was different in both cases but her intuition told her that maybe she is right. Daehyun’s murder and Himchan’s murder are connected. She just needs enough evidence.

She is seated at her desk when the phone rings, startling her. She picks it up, “Yes, Inspector Amber Liu speaking? Oh? Okay, I will be there.”

Two dead bodies had been found at an apartment in Seocho-dong. The Korea National University of Arts has a campus in Seocho-dong.

 

Junmyeon greets Amber as she gets down the stairs. She says, “All yours.”

Junmyeon nods and walks the next two flights up to the crime scene. The call came in right before his lunchtime. Two male bodies on the third floor at Skyview Apartments in Seocho-dong. This is a low-income housing complex, mostly rented by college students, low wage workers and others. The bodies were discovered by a friend of one of the dead, Moon Jongup, the owner of the apartment where the bodies had been found.

Junmyeon enters to find Jaebum and Taemin working. Jaebum is kneeling by one of the bodies. He hears Junmyeon walking in. He smiles, eyes crinkling, “Oh good you are here. Check this out.” He points to the body he was kneeling beside. Junmyeon is a little amazed by Jaebum’s smile.

Junmyeon, while putting his latex gloves on and glasses on, says, “Where’s Hakyeon?”

“Oh, he took the night shift for the week. We switched.”

“Oh.” Junmyeon kneels down and takes a closer look at the body with a slit throat. He scowls, “Decomposition?”

“Yep,” Jaebum says, “I’d say it was delayed though, you know. But look at this one.” He points at the other body.

“He was killed yesterday,” Junmyeon scowl deepens, “Rigor mortis and,” he moves the body to check the body’s back, the skin there a slight purple, “Lividity says so.”

“Hold him up, will you?” Taemin says as he clicks a few pictures.

“So who is the owner of this apartment?” Junmyeon asks.

“That is Moon Jongup,” Jaebum points to the body with a gunshot wound on the forehead.

“Who is this then?”

“That will be Yoo Youngjae,” Amber re-enters the room, “I was talking to the friend, Jung Hyukjae. Yoo Youngjae was their senior. Moon and Jung are students at the Department of Dance in the Korea National University of Arts, year two.” Junmyeon doesn’t miss how Amber’s jaw hardens when she mentions the name of the university.

“Youngjae has been killed two days ago approximately,” Junmyeon says, “Judging from the neck wound, skin tone and rate of decomposition, he was kept refrigerated for a while.”

“Could be,” Amber says, “According to Hyukjae, Youngjae left for a trip two days ago. He didn’t say where he went.”

“So, he was killed somewhere else?”

“Definitely,” Jaebum says, “No blood splatter.”

“That is point blank,” Taemin points at Jongup.

Junmyeon frowns, “No struggles. And,” he dabs the wound with an alcohol swab, “There is gunshot residue on the forehead. So it was close range. The victim might have known the killer. Also, why did he leave this dead body here?”

Amber says, “Maybe it is a message to someone.”

“Message?”

Amber doesn’t further clarify. Instead she says, “Anyway I gotta go, snoop around the college a bit. See if I can find anything.” She leaves.

“I have been on field for just two months, and here comes a peculiar case,” Jaebum mutters.

“I once photographed a crime scene where a couple was killed while having sex. Dude was still inside the woman,” Taemin offers.

Jaebum grimaces, “Okay, you win.”

Chapter Text

Junmyeon enters the grocery store to grab something to eat. Something packaged, something sad just like his life right now. He had to autopsy, not one, but two dead bodies. He stands in front of the instant ramen aisle and struggles between spicy shrimp and cheesy chicken.

“Have you tried the cheesy chicken?” a voice quips beside him. Junmyeon whips his head around to see Jongdae grinning at him, two packets of cheesy chicken ramen in his hands. He is surprised but doesn’t show it as he is hundred and ten per cent sure that the (un)holy trinity of Jongdae, Luhan and Yixing were keeping a close, very close, watch on him, and Yifan.

“No, I haven’t. It seemed interesting and that is why I was thinking.”

“Here, let me treat you! Come on!” Jongdae grabs his elbows and drags him along. Junmyeon protests but Jongdae waves him off.

Jongdae pays the bill and the grocery store had seating and hot water arrangements. Jongdae hums along to the newest pop tune as he prepares their ramen.

They sit down and wait for their noodles to cook. Junmyeon says, deadpanned, “Funny meeting you here.”

“I live close by,” Jongdae says, smile never leaving his face.

“Can I,” Junmyeon asks after a few minutes, the question flitting around his brain for a while, he always felt Jongdae was more approachable than the other two (he doesn’t count Zitao because that guy kind of scares him), “Can I asks you a question?”

“Sure hyung!”

“Just who exactly is Yifan?”

Jongdae says nothing, just blinks at Junmyeon for a few heartbeats. He says, “Something happened between you two didn’t it?”

“Uh,” Junmyeon cannot control the blush, “We kissed.”

“Oh,” Jongdae’s eyebrows rise up his forehead. This is an interesting turn of events.

Junmyeon waits for Jongdae to resume talking. Then Jongdae says, “Yifan, or as we, and everyone in our circles call him, Kris is no ordinary man. Have you heard of the Kang family?”

“The impeccable businessmen by day and untouchable criminal overlords by night?” Junmyeon has heard of them.

“Ding! That is correct. Yifan works for them.”

“Oh.” That explains the hidden compartment for guns and knives.

“Yifan is a cleaner of sorts.”

“Cleaner?”

Jongdae nods, “He wipes off the crimes that the organisation leaves behind. Be it in blood or money. But he also does personal missions for the big boss. Every crook on the street shivers when they hear his name. Kris is dangerous and ruthless.”

Junmyeon’s heart drops to his stomach. He finds it hard to breath. He twists his fingers in his laps. Jongdae puts his hand on Junmyeon’s shoulder and presses a little, “Hyung, you got attached didn’t you?”

Junmyeon looks at Jongdae. Funny how the younger man figured him out. He smiles sadly, “Aren’t you afraid to tell me all this?”

“No, not really. I have a feeling you won’t really sell him out.”

Junmyeon lifts the top of his cup noodle. He twirls his chopsticks through the noodles and soup. Jongdae is right. Deep down, after everything else, Junmyeon knows he cannot do that to Yifan. Something about hating the sin not the sinner.

 

Amber walks into the station in sort of a daze. She slumps down on her seat and looks down at the information she collected from the university. She stares down at her notebook and wonders why no one saw the pattern before? Why has her boss redistributed all the police working the Kim Himchan case to other cases? Why was Jung Daehyun’s case  written off as a B&E gone wrong? Why is no one looking for this Bang Yongguk, a teaching assistant at the college?

She looks up from her notebook and thinks it is time she talked to her boss.

 

Soojung thinks the universe is pleased with her today or something. It has been two days since she last saw Yixing and here she was again, waiting in front of Yixing’s apartment. He had already called her, telling her he was five minutes away.

True to his word, Yixing arrives five minutes later. He smiles down at her and he walks closer, truly happy to see her twice in a week. His hands are warm on her cheeks as he holds her face and gazes into her eyes. He brushes his thumb over her lips.

The golden light of the afternoon streamed through the window at the end of the corridor, glittering all around them. She nearly forgot why she came. Whatever she feels when she is alone with Yixing seems to overshadow everything else. Then he kisses her before she has time to take another breath.

The light dances around them, making the dust particles sparkle. That sparkle dances inside of her too. When he kisses her, their desire goes deeper. She would dream of a moment like this with him, all happiness and sunshine and a song that plays in her heart. It is a song with depth and feeling and magic. Her heart embraces it and her soul feels its truth.

They are so hungry for each other. Yixing’s hand splays in her hair as he angles her head and ravishes her mouth. Is this what feels to be truly desired?

They break the kiss when breathing becomes a necessity. She grins at him, and he does likewise. “It’s just,” he smiles, “This is such a rare occurrence.” He holds her hand and with the unoccupied one he unlocks his apartment. They walk in the apartment together.

She says, “Well, I came here because I did what you asked me to do.”

“Oh?” the jubilance he felt earlier dims down a little.

“Boss wants to kill Kris,” she says, her brows knit together. “Also he is using this Zelo kid to kill people. I was checking his expenses, he paid this Min Yoongi guy for an assassination.”

“Min Yoongi tried to kill Yifan,” Yixing says.

“I think, and this is just my opinion, that boss wants to put the blame on Yifan about the whole Yongsan incident and have him killed so the family doesn’t ask too many questions. It will be like hitting two birds with one stone.”

Yixing gazes at his girlfriend with an unreadable expression. He knows she could be right. He isn’t unknown to the fact of the covert rivalry between Yifan and Daesung after all. He needs to talk to Luhan about this right away.

 

Junmyeon enters Butterfly and is surprised to see Yifan perched on a tool behind the counter talking with Seunghoon. When Yifan notices him, he waves him over. Junmyeon asks, “What are you doing?”

“Manning the cash register,” Yifan shrugs.

“And you should have seen the schoolgirls fawning over him,” Seokjin says as he comes out the kitchen, who has heard his cousin’s voice all the way in there, “They tipped so generously.”

Junmyeon dons an impassive face, “I left you with him so he wouldn’t be bored, you put him to work!”

“Hey he got paid in food!” Seokjin jabs his finger at Junmyeon’s general direction, “Yifan, tell him!”

Yifan nods his head, “Jin made me lunch again, and Hee-yeon kept giving me freshly baked cookies every time a new batch came out of the oven.”

Junmyeon shakes his head amusedly. His heart feels heavy thinking only if Seokjin or Hee-yeon knew his true identity. How will he ever explain to them when Yifan disappears into the night, back to his own world, his own life? Maybe he shouldn’t have gotten all of them involved with Yifan.

“A penny for your thoughts?” Yifan snaps his fingers under Junmyeon’s nose.

“You are going to get fat,” Junmyeon lies.

Yifan cutely pouts. Seokjin coos, “Gosh, he is cute.”

“Okay, we are going home,” Junmyeon shakes his head at his cousin again.

Later that night, when Junmyeon and Yifan lie side by side on Junmyeon’s bed, Yifan runs his fingers through Junmyeon’s hair. He mumbles, “Junmyeon?”

“Hmm,” Junmyeon is half-asleep, eyes closed.

“I like you.”

Junmyeon opens one eye and grins at Yifan, “I know you idiot. I like you too.” Sadly, Junmyeon knows that’s not a lie.

Yifan smiles sweetly at him and closes his eyes.

But Junmyeon thinks. He knows he is setting himself up for heartbreak. These moments he has with Yifan are not real. The real Yifan wouldn’t look at him twice, much less touch him or kiss him. Junmyeon knows he is being kind of masochistic—taking these moments and holding onto them even though he knows these will be the end of him.

But he cannot seem to convince himself otherwise.

 

Luhan stares at Yixing, trying to digest all the information his friend gave him.

Yixing told him about his assumptions regarding Daesung and Yifan. Luhan just listened, his heart dropping to his knees. He wanted to scream at Yixing that he knew, that he had sacrificed Yifan’s safety for Minseok’s.

And Daesung still held Minseok captive, refusing to release him till Luhan gives him something substantial. Luhan hasn’t slept well for the last three days.

He doesn’t say much and Yixing sees this as Luhan trying to think. But Luhan isn’t thinking. He is spiralling down the hole of shame and guilt. Yixing leaves him alone in his office, informing Luhan that he must come visit his apartment later to discuss their next move.

Luhan cradles his face in his hands and cries.

When he is done, he picks up the phone.

 

Yixing leaves Luhan deep in thoughts in his office. He knows Luhan will think of something. He too has to think of something to get their revenge. He starts his bike and wears his helmet. As he whizzes through the city in twilight, he feels anger blooming in his chest. How dare Daesung hurt Yifan?

He had met Yifan ten years ago, here in Seoul, in a basement of a house when he was fifteen. In Changsha he used to live with his grandmother after his mother had died ten years ago, when he was five. He was poor but he didn’t mind. He was good in his studies and was a good grandson to his grandmother. But then these crooks came. They wanted grandmother to leave the house and the small land she owned. They offered money at first, but she refused. When she refused to budge, they killed her, right in front of his eyes. Then they wanted to kill him too but one of them commented how cute he was. They forcibly took him with them and put him on a boat to Korea with five other girls and three other boys, all around his age.

Then when he landed in Seoul, he was sent to live in a basement of a big house. There he was branded, hot iron melting his skin, he remembered passing out from the pain. He was appalled when they stripped him down and touched him in the wrong places. He cried that night. But a week later everything changed.

He remembers that day like it happened yesterday. The door to the basement banged open, a lone tall figure at the top of the stairs. The figure walked down and Yixing had gasped at the blood covering the boy a little older than him. By now, only he and two other girls were left. The others had been dragged away from here one by one. The figure introduced himself as Yifan and told them they were free to go. The girls sobbed their thanks and left. But Yixing couldn’t move. He asked Yifan a lot of questions. And Yifan answered.

Yifan told him how the Yang-Lee faction (the ones who kidnapped Yixing) had also kidnapped him when he was no older than eleven. He had waited a long time for his revenge. Yixing said he wants to go with him, that he wanted to become stronger too.

And that is how Yixing and Yifan became friends.

Now, Yixing would do anything to save Yifan. He owes Yifan one.

 

Amber cannot believe this is happening. Choi Siwon just refuted all her findings. She cannot believe he waved her off like that!

She told him about the Korea National University of Arts connection. She wanted to investigate further. And what did Choi Siwon do?

He told her to go home and rest because her overworked brain was cooking up scenarios that never happened.

Oh that man’s nerve!

Amber will prove him she is right. She doesn’t need his approval to keep investigating. She is convinced there is a serial killer on the loose. And she will gather evidence on her own.

She is in her home right now. She organises all her information and tucks them in a cardboard box. Then she puts the box under her bed.

She decides to work on this case on her own.

 

As soon as Amber Liu walks out of his office Choi Siwon dials Daesung’s number. He says as soon as Daesung picks up the phone, “Someone connected the four of them together.”

“What?”

“Amber Liu, a cop in my department, figured out the connection between Jung Daehyun, Kim Himchan, Moon Jongup and Yoo Youngjae.”

“Oh.”

“It won’t be late till she figures out the rest of it.”

“I guess she needs to be eliminated then.”

Siwon just sighs and rubs his face.

 

When Siwon disconnects the call, Daesung leans back and thinks. The web he is weaving is unravelling. He cannot let that happen. He presses the intercom, “Krystal, call Kwon Jiyong to my office.”

“Yes sir, and there is Luhan-sshi here to meet you,” his secretary says.

Daesung raises one eyebrow, Luhan is here? On his own? Maybe his web can be rebuilt again. He says, “Let him through.”

“Okay, sir.”

He leans back in his seat, expectations galore weave around his mind.

 

Chapter Text

Luhan sits down and stares without blinking at the laptop in front of him. The screen showed two men beating up Minseok. Luhan wants to scream, he wants them to stop kicking and punching Minseok. But he cannot find his voice. He only hears Daesung’s voice, the four words he said five minutes ago echoing around his skull…

“Kill Zhang Yixing then.”

Luhan had come to the office to tell Daesung that Yixing had figured it out. That Yixing knows Daesung’s plans. Daesung had looked disappointed and ready to throw something. But then Kwon Jiyong entered the office. Daesung told Luhan to sit down on one of the designer couches while he gave Jiyong instructions to kill this woman. He didn’t catch the name, but it was none of his business. However, he kept stealing glances at Jiyong. He had only heard stories about this man, never met him. He was like a shadow, but Luhan had heard that he was better than Yifan. It made sense that Daesung sent Jiyong to kill Yifan.

After Jiyong left, Daesung finally turned his attention to Luhan. He sat down opposite him and said, “Kill Zhang Yixing then.”

Luhan’s eyes widened in shock. He stuttered, “W-what?” He wondered if he heard Daesung wrong.

“Yixing knows too much. He is a hindrance to my plans. As you saw, Jiyong has other work to do. And Yixing trusts you. It will be easier for you to kill him.”

“But, he is my friend!” Luhan cried.

“Oh?” Daesung smirked. He got up and brought his laptop over and placed it in front of Luhan. “Open the live feed icon.”

Luhan looked at Daesung once, dread filling him. He opened the icon and gasped. It was a live feed of Minseok sitting, hands and feet tied up, in a room. Daesung took out his phone and said, “Go have some fun.”

And this brings Luhan to the present, watching helplessly as Minseok’s small body gets abused by kicks and punches. When Luhan says nothing, Daesung leans closer to him and says, “Your boyfriend is really pretty. What if one of them realises that?”

Luhan jaw hardens, and tears roll down his cheek. He reads in between the lines. Daesung will have the men rape Minseok if Luhan doesn’t talk. Luhan sees Minseok spit out blood and his resistance cracks. His shoulders droop and he mutters, completely defeated, “I will do it. Stop it, please.”

Daesung smiles. He dials a number again and says, “Okay. Enough, get your men out of there.” He looks at Luhan for a few heartbeats, “Oh? He is bleeding too much? No, I will tell you when to send him to a hospital.”

Luhan looks up at Daesung. The man says nothing but Luhan understands—Daesung will allow Minseok medical attention only if Luhan finishes his job.

Luhan gets up, heart heavy and the tears don’t stop. He says, “I will call you when it is done.” He rubs his face and wipes his tears. He cannot let Daesung have the satisfaction of him breaking down. He doesn't want to show any weakness. Daesung won, but Luhan cannot let him have the last laugh. Luhan knows he won't be able to handle that.

 

Amber is watching a Running Man rerun when her doorbell rings. She looks at the wall clock. It is eleven thirty. Who can it be at this hour? She stands up and wipes her mouth. She had been snacking on some Hot Cheetos.

She opens the door to see a fairly attractive man dressed in all black standing on her welcome mat. He smiles, “Amber Liu?”

She says, “Yes?”

He keeps smiling as he puts a gun at her head. Before she can react, he pulls the trigger.

Jiyong catches the woman as she falls on him. Good thing he always wears black. Blood doesn’t show much on black. He picks up her inert body and lays it down inside the apartment. He glances at the television. Running Man, he likes that show. He walks out of the apartment and closes the door.

He sends a quick text to Daesung. 

 

Flashes of images, a montage of voices and all the blood. He is five, in the orphanage in Beijing. He had scraped his knees after the bigger boys pushed him. He didn’t cry.

He is ten, still in that orphanage when it burns down, displacing all thirty boys who lived there. But he didn’t want to go where the police where taking him. He ran and ran. He fought for his survival. He had bruises on his body and the pain went deep in his soul. But he refused to give up.

He is eleven, they have kidnapped him. He is in an alien environment. They strip him naked and poke him, touch him, do things to him that scared him and confused him and hurt him. He screams at them to stop. They stop, but then this tall man picks up a hot iron rod and puts it to his skin. He is branded. But one day, they do something foolish. They leave the door unlocked. He runs again. And then he meets Kang Yunhyeong.

He is thirteen when he starts learning how to shoot. His teacher is surprised by good he is. Teacher tells Yunhyeong how much of a natural Yifan is. Kang Yunhyeong wants to personally train him. So, his training starts.

He is fifteen when he is forced to go to school when he was fine with being home-schooled. They think he is sixteen because he is tall. He doesn’t tell anyone he doesn’t turn sixteen for the next few months. On his first day he bumps into an angel.

He is sixteen when he learns about the people who kidnapped him and violated him. He wants revenge. Yunhyeong allows him. So he strangles the man called Yang. He might have been smaller back then, but now he was stronger and taller. He feels some sort of peace when he feels the man’s thorax crushing under his deathly grip. But that isn’t the end. He finds Lee and kind of loses control with him. Yang had watched him getting raped, but Lee had participated. So he stabbed Lee over and over again. He split the man open while he was still alive. He didn’t care about the blood on his face and clothes. That was the night he met Yixing. The boy refused to go, instead he stuck to him. He took Yixing with him.

He is nineteen when he learns that Kang Daesung, Yunhyeong’s son, hates him, but he cannot bring himself to care about it. Yunhyeong was sending him on his first assassination, he is much more focused on making his adopted father proud. He is flawless at his first job. No one had to know he had thrown up his dinner that night. No one had to know he had nightmares for a month. But that is simply the beginning of a life covered in the blood of others. The demons grow and grow, plaguing him in his darkest, loneliest hours. They keep reminding of everything he wishes he could escape.

He is twenty-six when he is meets that angel again. And he is pushed, by someone, of an edge. He falls.

His eyes open. His head is throbbing. The images are too much. The memories flood him and drown him, suffocating him as they return in a rush. Too much too soon. He feels like his head will burst. He clutches his head and groans in pain. He sees yellow light fill the room and a soft hand rests on his chest. He blinks through tears to see the face he has gotten too familiar over the last few days. Junmyeon.

“Yifan?” Junmyeon asks, worriedly.

“My head hurts,” Yifan whimpers.

Junmyeon gets down the bed and rummages through drawers. He finally finds the pills Dr Lee prescribed for the headaches. He rushes back to the bed. He helps Yifan up and gives a pink pill and water bottle to him. He rubs Yifan’s back in soothing circles as Yifan gulps down the medicine.

Yifan drinks the entire content of the bottle. When he hands the empty bottle back to Junmyeon, the latter asks, “Better now?”

Yifan nods. The warm touch on his back is so comforting. Junmyeon smiles softly at him. Yifan feels confused now. But he says nothing as Junmyeon pushes him back on the bed and starts caressing his head. He looks up at the face beside him. Too much. He gulps, he doesn’t understand his thoughts anymore. Junmyeon asks, “Another bad dream?”

Yifan likes the hands in his hair. He likes the soft gaze directed at him (no one has ever looked at him like that). He whispers, “Yeah.” He doesn’t know why he just lied.

“Try to sleep now, okay?”

He just nods and closes his eyes. He feels the fingers lovingly caress and lull him till he falls back asleep.

 

“Ah ge, you are late,” Yixing smiles as he opens the door to his apartment.

“Yeah, had some work to finish,” Luhan smiles back. The muscles on his face feel frozen.

“You know,” Yixing says as he moves to the side to let Luhan enter, “You look like shit nowadays. Have you not been sleeping?”

“Not really,” Luhan nervously chuckles as he feels the weight of the weapon he carries. His own voice sounds hollow to him. He chose to bring a stiletto knife, sharp and precise. The weapon is light, yet he can feel it weighing his jacket down.

“So—”

“Yixing?”

“Yes, ge?”

“Have you ever loved someone? Loved them so much that you would do anything for them? Die for them, or even kill for them?” Luhan says, his eyes cast to the floor.

Yixing doesn’t understand why Luhan is talking like that. But at the question, his mind instantly thinks of Soojung. He understands loving someone so much. He says, “Yes. I do love someone like that.” He wonders where Luhan was going with this.

“I will tell you mine if you tell me yours,” Luhan says, finally looking at Yixing.

Yixing frowns, “Why?”

“I will go first,” Luhan inches closer to Yixing. He puts a hand on Yixing’s shoulder and whispers, “I love Minseok a lot. And I would kill for him.”

Yixing is still frowning, wondering where this was going. But he is a bit taken aback by the fact that Luhan and Minseok were dating. He had no idea. He misses the knife that Luhan brings out of his jacket. But he feels the cold blade piercing him on the left side of his chest. He staggers backward and looks down at the stiletto knife poking out of his heart. He looks back at Luhan to see the older man crying. Luhan cries, “He has Minseok, Lay. He will let Minseok die if I didn’t kill you. I am so sorry!”

Luhan catches Yixing just as he was about to fall to the floor. Luhan hugs Yixing to his chest and cries into his hair. He hears Yixing say, with his dying breath, “Soojung…no you know her as Krystal. I love her.” Luhan recognises the girl. Daesung’s secretary?

Even as death pulls Yixing away, he thinks that maybe he understands Luhan. They really cannot afford to love anyone in this dark, messed up world of theirs. Always that fear of being used and manipulated and blackmailed. He closes his eyes, the sweet smile of Soojung and the infamous scowl of his first friend, Yifan, in this city are the last things he sees.

Luhan hears Yixing take his last breath. He cannot stop crying. He just killed his friend. He will never go out drinking with Yixing again. He will never see that adorable dimpled smile again. He screams, his heart aches. He doesn’t even care about the blood staining his shirt.

He doesn’t know how long he sat there, with Yixing’s lifeless body in his arms. He doesn’t know for how long he cried, but when he feels like he has no more tears to shed, he gently puts Yixing down. He kisses the cold forehead and pulls the knife out of Yixing’s chest. The blood splatters and lands on Luhan’s face. He wipes it off. He washes the knife in the kitchen sink and puts it in his jacket.

Luhan takes one last look at his former friend and walks out of the apartment. His hands are shaking too much. He feels sick and his vision swims. He dials a number on his phone with shaky fingers. He says when the phone is picked up, “It is done.” His voice sounds lifeless to him.

Daesung says, “I will send someone to check, if you don’t mind. Minseok is in Seoul General Hospital.”

Daesung disconnects. Luhan hurries to Seoul General Hospital.

Chapter Text

Junmyeon kisses his forehead as he leaves for work. Yifan touches the place where Junmyeon’s lips touched him and he wonders shouldn’t his feelings change or dissipate because he has his memories back? Then why does his heart jump and he finds himself smiling at Junmyeon? He doesn’t do the whole smiling thing. He has forgotten how to smile, but he thinks it is sort of ironic that it took amnesia for him to learn how to smile again.

He was in Junmyeon’s bedroom. He limps into the room he had occupied two nights ago. He rummages through the drawers of the bedside table. He finds what he is looking for: his phone. He plugs it to Junmyeon’s phone charger and waits for the device to come to life. When it does, he sends two text messages, one to Luhan and another to Yixing. He waits for replies but it doesn’t come. Maybe those two aren’t up yet.

He enters the living room and decides to watch some useless daytime television.

But he cannot concentrate on the TV. His mind goes back to the days and moments he has spent with Junmyeon. He is completely confused as to why he is behaving like this around Junmyeon. Shouldn’t he be reverting back to his old self now that his memories are back?

But more importantly, why didn’t he tell Junmyeon that his memories are back?

He lies down on the couch and does what he does best—analyse the situation and conclude the best way to handle it. That is how Kris eliminates problems the Kang organisation has. Not that Junmyeon was that kind of problem. It is just…the short, caring man has become a problem for Wu Yifan, or the cold-hearted, rather ruthless Kris Wu on the streets.

He goes over what happened last night. He was too disoriented to assess the situation, so he welcomed the relief Junmyeon gave. He bites the inside of his cheek when he remembers how gentle Junmyeon was with him. He remembers liking the touch on his skin, and it is making him very confused.

Hell, everything about Junmyeon is making him confused. Like how he allowed himself to be kissed this morning. Or the way he smiled at Junmyeon.

He thinks about all the things he has learned about Junmyeon. He thinks about all the emotions he had felt. Emotions that were plastic to him because he wasn’t himself. That wasn’t him. That will never be him.

Yet, he couldn’t tell Junmyeon he had his memories back last night, or this morning when Junmyeon woke him up with a sleepy smile and made him breakfast and kissed him goodbye. Then stuck a note on the microwave to eat his lunch with a smiley face drawn on it.

He gnashes his teeth together. He cannot be getting involved with someone like Junmyeon. He was wrong when he was in high school. Kim Junmyeon wasn’t a snob, he always had been an angel. Too good, too pure to exist. Kim Junmyeon is a simple man and Wu Yifan is a complicated, dangerous person.

But the way Junmyeon touched him, kissed him or looked at him, it was all too much for Yifan to process. However, he surprises himself when he doesn’t find himself regretting kissing or touching Junmyeon like that. Like what happened between them a few nights ago. He remembers all the sensations too vividly. Okay, fine, maybe he can admit that he was attracted to Junmyeon. There is nothing else to that. The little details like Junmyeon nagging after him, looking after him when Junmyeon absolutely was under no pressure to do so, or Junmyeon smiling do not matter. Nope.

Suddenly he feels a weight on his chest. He raises his head slightly to see Suho looking at him, tail swishing and ears twitching. He scratches the cat behind his ears and the animal purrs in delight. He chuckles, “Hey, as long as I am here I am safe, right?”

Yeah, that is it. Yifan concludes that he will be safe here for the meantime. He has been targeted, not once but twice. With Junmyeon, a man unattached to the criminal world, he is safe for a while. That’s it, there is no other reason for him hiding the truth from Junmyeon.

 

Luhan gets no text message or calls because he had turned off his phone as he sits beside Minseok’s hospital bed, waiting for his lover to wake up. He had stayed in the hospital since last night.

Minseok had broken ribs, a broken wrist, internal bleeding and a slight fever with low blood sugar levels and partial dehydration. Doctors said not to worry much. Minseok is stable. They say Minseok was lucky, if he was admitted even an hour later, it would have been impossible to stop the bleeding. So Daesung put him in the hospital before Yixing died in his arms. Daesung knew Luhan would do it.

Luhan fists his hands and swallows down the acid crawling up his throat. He had already thrown up twice last night. He hasn’t eaten anything. He cannot bring himself to do so.

He is ready to keep vigil till Minseok opens his eyes. He is not going anywhere.

As if he can ever run, from Minseok or himself. There is no running from the crime he has committed and the choices he has made. Nothing he does to repent will wash his sin. He has led a sinful life, he has blood on his hand, but he knows the blood of his friend will never wash off. He doesn’t stop the tears that silently roll down his cheeks.

 

Junmyeon is surprised to find Amber not in her usual place—his office at lunchtime. She always came over to remind him to eat. Today she didn’t come and it made Junmyeon antsy. He calls her and finds it ringing till the call drops. He feels even more unsettled because Amber had sent him a text last night. Something about talking to him about something very, very important. If she had to talk to him, then where the hell is she?

He goes upstairs only to find that Amber didn’t come in today. Is she sick? Junmyeon gets anxious.

He takes his lunch break to head over to Amber’s house. He is certain she is sick. She had a tendency to overwork herself. He parks the car in front of the two storey house that she inherited from her grandmother. He jogs through the small front yard.

He halts in his tracks when he realises that the door to her house is ajar. He feels extremely anxious now. He has worked enough crime scenes to know what an ajar door means. At the same time, he chastises himself for thinking like that. Maybe Amber simply had forgotten to close the door.

He walks up the steps and pushes the door open. His worst fears are confirmed when he sees Amber on the floor, eyes wide open and a gaping hole on her forehead.

He claps his hand over his mouth, and tries to breath. His friend is dead. Someone had shot her.

 

Jongdae takes two steps at a time to get to Yixing’s apartment. He had received a text from him last night, but he had gone drinking out with his other, normal friends last night and was too smashed to check his phone. But this morning, when he woke up after twelve, he read the message that ge send.

He stops in front of Yixing’s apartment and knocks. He sing-songs, “Lay-ge! Open up!”

He knocks a few times more. He frowns. Yixing is an early riser, he is not the type to sleep till noon. Jongdae twists the doorknob and the door opens. He breathes heavily. Somehow, the emptiness and silence has an ominous feeling.

He walks in and finds the hall and corridor empty. He hears no sounds from the kitchen as well. He looks into the living room. He sees a pair of bare feet first. He prays that that isn’t what he is thinking it is.

He walks in cautiously and falls back, pressing his back to the wall. Yixing lies on the floor with a peaceful expression, lifeless, blood clotted on his chest and eyes closed.

Jongdae slumps down to the floor and chokes out a sob. He brings out his phone and dials Luhan’s number. He curses when the electronic voice informs him that the person he is trying to reach has his phone switched off. With his trembling hands he presses another number.

A cold voice grumbles, “What is it Chen?”

“Tao,” Jongdae starts crying, “Tao, Lay-ge is dead. Someone killed him.”

 

Junmyeon is standing there, silent, in the corner. The place around him is buzzing with cops and CSI techs. He is supposed to work too, he even put his gloves on, but his feet won’t take him near the small female body with cropped hair lying on the floor.

Hakyeon looks over at Junmyeon. He stands up and walks up to him, “Hey.”

Junmyeon is startled, “Oh?”

“You go home, okay? You gave your statement; you don’t have to stay anymore.” Hakyeon’s eyes are kind, Junmyeon muses.

“No. I can’t…” Junmyeon doesn’t know where he is going with that sentence so he stops. He stares down at his feet and fights the tears. He hears Hakyeon sighing.

“Fine, I know you want to help. Then go dust the bedroom?” Hakyeon offers. He finally understood that Junmyeon needs work as a distraction or else he is going to fall apart.

Junmyeon just nods his head, and picking up the fingerprint kit, heads upstairs.

The bedroom door was open. Junmyeon walks in and takes a deep breath. Gosh, the bedroom is messy. The bed is undone, there is laundry piled on a chair and more clothes on the floor. Is that a small molehill of Mars wrappers? Typical Amber.

As the sweet smiling face of his friend flashes before his eyes, he breaks. He closes the door behind him and flops down on the bed, head in his hands, crying his heart out for his first friend in the police department.

Junmyeon met Amber three years ago. It was the first day for both the Inspector and assistant medical examiner. They had bumped into each other. In fact, they kept bumping into each other quite a lot for the next three weeks. Junmyeon finally asked her why because he realised she was doing it on purpose.

Amber, her hair black then and bangs sweeping over her mischievous eyes, chirped, “You are cute and I wanted to know your name.”

Junmyeon snickers through the tears when he remembers the how he and Amber became friends. She was so adamant to be his friend even after he let her know that he will never be romantically interested in her. She used to say he reminded her of a pet rabbit she had when she was ten. So out of pity and goodness of her heart, she befriended him despite Junmyeon's warning. And Junmyeon is glad to have her in his life.

Sorry, was to have her in his life. He shuts his eyes tightly and asks to no one in general, his voice choked with tears, “Why?”

Why did his friend have to die this way? Why, just why? All his life as a M.E. he had simply observed and tested those bodies that landed on his metal table. He had heard their stories and he had felt sorry for them. So he always tried his very best to make sure those stories don’t finish in vain. That he could help them find an ending.

But this is Amber. He doesn’t want to find an ending. He wants to know why. And who could do this to her.

He opens his eyes and the first thing his gaze falls on is a small box peeking out from under her bed. He bends over to pick it up. It is a small cardboard box with a handwritten label of Jung Taekwoon scrawled on it; like the ones he had seen in the evidence archives. And he recognises the detective’s name.

Wait…why does Amber have an evidence box with her? She wasn’t a detective or chief. She didn’t have clearance to take evidence home. Junmyeon frowns and wonders if this could be the reason behind that point blank gunshot wound on her head. Or maybe that is a farfetched thought.

 

Yifan is sleeping on the couch when Junmyeon comes back home. It is somewhere after eight and Junmyeon felt a little guilty for not informing Yifan. He finds the taller man asleep on the couch. He hangs his coat and places the box he had sneaked out from today’s crime scene on the top most shelf over the stove. He walks over and chuckles a little at the way Suho is curled up, asleep, on Yifan’s broad chest. He doesn’t disturb them. He drags his feet to the bathroom and starts the shower. His heart is heavy and his mind is too clouded. He slumps down the tiled wall and curls up in the tub, the hot water raining down on him. He doesn’t want to cry, but he just lost a friend and he can’t help himself.

Yifan wakes up with a jolt, dislodging Suho, who hisses at him a little. He sits up and blinks a little, trying to get rid of the last traces of slumber. From the couch he spots Junmyeon’s sable coat on the hook by the door, and a box on the table. So Junmyeon is home. He also faintly hears the shower running.

But he is a trained killer and his hearing is very sharp. He also hears crying. He puts his feet on the floor. Junmyeon is in the bathroom crying?

He decides to investigate (it is something the Yifan Junmyeon knows will do right?). He stands in front of the bathroom, wondering if he should knock when he realises Junmyeon didn’t lock the door. And yes, it is Junmyeon crying. Small, hiccupping sobs that were twisting Yifan’s stomach in a very alien, unfamiliar way.

He opens the door to a naked Junmyeon curled up in the tub, knees drawn to his chest, arms hugging the knees and head tucked in his hands. Junmyeon’s skin has turned a slight shade of red from sitting under the torrent of hot water for too long. Yifan limps forward and turns off the shower. Junmyeon realises the flow of the water has stopped, so he looks up. And Yifan’s stomach further twists itself into some elaborate, intricate Boy Scout knot.

Maybe it is due to hot water, or due to the crying, but Junmyeon’s face is pink and his eyes are wide and glassy through the wet bangs sticking to his head. His lips are quivering and the tears keep rolling. Yifan does his best to crouch down, careful about his leg and grabs the edge of the tub and asks (it is something the Yifan Junmyeon knows would do), “Are you okay?”

Junmyeon inhales shakily. He shakes his head, water droplets flying and some getting on Yifan’s face. Yifan finds his hand rising to move the brown locks of hair off the teary, sad eyes (it is something the Yifan Junmyeon knows would do). Junmyeon bites down on his lip and Yifan cannot explain the urge to kiss the man in front of him. So the hand on Junmyeon’s forehead travels down and rests on those lips, thumb releasing the lower lip from the teeth clamped over it. Yifan leans forward and closes the distance. He kisses Junmyeon lightly, like trying not to break something fragile. He doesn’t take the kiss any further and pulls back, and says softly, “Junmyeon?”

“Amber,” Junmyeon finally speaks, “She is dead.”

Yifan leans back and gapes at Junmyeon. He remembers Amber, the short, chirpy policewomen who made pancakes for him and Junmyeon. He frowns, “What?”

“Someone shot her,” Junmyeon hiccups, “In her home.”

Yifan says nothing as he pulls Junmyeon into his embrace, not minding how his t-shirt was getting wet. Junmyeon starts crying again, his wet face pressed into the crook of Yifan’s neck. Yifan is surprised at his own actions.

No, he is doing what Junmyeon expects him to do. So far he has done everything Junmyeon would have expected him to do. So why were all his moves so far felt so natural? Like he didn’t find himself hesitating at all. Like his body knew what to do before his brain could fathom.

He sighs. Now is not the time to think about himself. Junmyeon just lost a friend and Yifan still had some humane part in him, salvaged carefully after years and years of his inhumane existence, to actually care a little. Care a little about the demise of Amber. And care about Junmyeon crying in his arms.

Chapter Text

When Minseok wakes up, it is too bright and his head hums like static on some analogue television channel. He blinks, trying to get his vision back in focus. There is soft pillow under his head, bright sunshine pooling on him and something brown laid beside him. He is in a hospital judging from the generic clinical style. He realises that the something brown is someone’s head. He recognises the fading dye and the shape. Luhan?

He closes his eyes again. The last thing he remembers is pain, something crunching in his body and then blind, raging pain. It still hurts but he thinks the drugs help. The head brushes against his arm. He opens his eyes to see Luhan raising his head and rubbing his eyes. Minseok croaks, “Hey.”

Luhan gets startled. He halts and gapes at Minseok who smiles kindly at him. Luhan’s heart lurches as he says, “Minseok,” he rests his head on Minseok’s chest, “Oh god Minseok.”

With the hand not hooked to an IV, Minseok runs his fingers through the messy brown mop of hair. He says, “Hey again.”

Luhan props his head with his chin against Minseok’s chest and smiles, “Hello to you too.” Minseok grins and Luhan’s soul sings at how beautiful and precious his Minseokkie is.

But Minseok doesn’t miss the sad, haunted look in his lovers’ eyes. Neither does he miss the haggard look and dark circles under Luhan’s eyes. He cups Luhan’s face and asks, “You okay?”

Luhan leans back, instantly missing Minseok’s touch. He nods his head, even though his heart hurts and the guilt claws at his gut. But he knows Minseok doesn’t buy it when he frowns and says, “I don’t believe you. What happened? Who kidnapped me?”

Luhan takes a sharp breath in and his shoulders drop. He mutters, “Kang Daesung.”

Minseok gasps, “But how did Kang get to know about us?”

“He probably hired someone to snitch on me.”

“Snitch on you? Why?”

“Minseok you need rest,” Luhan pats Minseok’s chest.

Minseok knows something is off. The gears in his head start working. A sliver of dread trickles in. He sits up with great effort. The fresh stitches on his stomach stings. Luhan tries pushing him back down, but Minseok grabs his hands and says, “What did you do? What was the price of my freedom? Kang wanted something from you didn’t he? That is why he kidnapped me, didn’t he?”

Luhan says nothing and drops his gaze, fighting back the tears. Can Minseok not hear his internal scream of anguish?

Minseok gets agitated, “Luhan…please tell me what was the price of my freedom?”

Luhan mutters something under his breath. Minseok doesn’t catch it, “What?”

“Yixing,” Luhan speaks a little louder.

“Yixing what?” Minseok asks even though he feels like he already knows the answer. But he thinks that possibly cannot be true. But Luhan’s prolonged silence kind of confirms the fear in him. His hands drop and he wheezes, “No. No. Tell me you didn’t,” he briefly shuts his eyes and drags a shaky breath in, “Tell me you didn’t kill him, that you didn’t kill Yixing.”

But Luhan says nothing. Nothing at all but Minseok can hear the truth in the silence. He falls back on the bed and a frustrated tear slips out of the corner of his eyes. So Yixing’s life was the price for his life. Yixing was his friend too. He remembers how much Yixing encouraged him to go pursue his barista dreams after he told the Chinese man his plans for leaving Yifan’s crew. He liked Yixing and his easy going nature. He used to appreciate how Yixing managed to have some optimism disregarding his sad environment.

Luhan whispers, “I am so sorry Minseokkie.”

“You killed Yixing,” Minseok mutters, his voice breaking.

“Daesung would have killed you.”

Minseok wants to call Luhan a murderer but he understands. Luhan was given choices and he made the one that was most important to him. But at the price of someone’s life? He cannot look at Luhan right now. He feels Luhan’s gaze on him, but he cannot meet that gaze.

Luhan gets to his feet, he is aware that Minseok needs space. He murmurs, “I am gonna go get something to eat.”

Minseok watches the love of his life walk out the door with his shoulders drooping. He wanted to scream what have you done Luhan?

 

Yifan wakes up before Junmyeon today. Last night, after dragging Junmyeon out of the tub, Yifan hadn’t let go of him. He made Junmyeon wear his pyjamas, dried his hair and managed to calm him to sleep. Junmyeon kept silently sobbing throughout. And Yifan kept thinking why was he doing all that for Junmyeon.

No, he is just returning the favour.

So when today he wakes up and feels soft hair brushing his chin, his heart thumps weirdly when he realises the weight on his shoulder is Junmyeon’s head. He twists his head to look at the smaller man.

The area around Junmyeon’s eyes were red and irritated from rubbing them too much. His nose still had a little bit of pink tinged on it. His lips are cracked and there is blood from the time he tried to stop from hiccupping last night (Yifan had held him close till that meltdown subsided). His hair is in disarray. He has his head resting on Yifan’s shoulder and his hand fisted over Yifan’s heart. Right now Junmyeon looks so small and fragile against him, that he can nearly forget that Junmyeon accidentally killed a man not so long ago.

Yifan swallows the unfamiliar emotion down and covers Junmyeon’s smaller fist with his larger hand. Junmyeon killed someone to protect him. Junmyeon took him in when he was under no obligation to do so. Junmyeon, Junmyeon

Yifan wants this feeling to stop. He wants to not be bothered by Junmyeon’s soft gazes, light touches and quivering lips. He wants to not be affected by Junmyeon’s unwavering kindness and inherent goodness. He wants to not feel like falling apart whenever Junmyeon cries (last night was hard for him as he learned a few things about himself like how a sad Junmyeon wanted him to punch walls and he couldn’t even understand why). He knows, he fucking knows how easily he can ruin Junmyeon’s life. And Junmyeon doesn’t fucking deserve that.

Yifan’s heart swells and he feels like his ribcage cannot accommodate his heart anymore. He gently pushes Junmyeon aside and tries sitting up. But it wakes Junmyeon. Yifan watches in silent awe as the latter slowly opens his eyes and blinks up at Yifan, as if trying to remember something. When he does, he shuts his eyes and sighs, “It isn’t some bad dream is it?”

Yifan shakes his head, “I am afraid not.”

Junmyeon sits up and stretches. Yifan stares at the way the t-shirt drags up slightly, showing him a narrow strip of porcelain skin. He quickly averts his gaze. Junmyeon looks over and down at him and smiles. Yifan’s breath catches. Junmyeon says, “I am sorry I couldn’t make dinner yesterday.”

Now that he mentions it, Yifan suddenly feels hungry. But he sits up and shakes his head, “Stupid Junmyeon. Why must you feel sorry about the silliest thing?” He wonders how he managed to sound so endearing. But he is starting to believe Junmyeon had done something to his system that he doesn’t know about yet.

Junmyeon chuckles and tries to comb his hair with his fingers. Yifan just stares as he realises something.

The reason he hasn’t left is because no one has ever cared for him like this. No one had treated him with kindness (not even his foster parent). No one had seen him more than a killing machine with no feelings. No one had touched him like that—gently and affectionately, ardently and reverently. He lived in a world where everyone used everyone. That is why he knows Kang Yunhyeong wasn’t being truly kind when he trained Yifan to become an assassin and a potential heir. Yunhyeong wanted Yifan in return to be his personal puppet. There was never any real kindness. But with Junmyeon he understands what real kindness is. He stares mutely as Junmyeon wages battle with his hair.

Kim Junmyeon has made all those dormant emotions, lost under the debris of despair, to come to life in Yifan again. Yifan is feeling again and it scares him, and confuses him.

Suddenly Junmyeon’s phone rings on the bedside table. Yifan picks it up for him and passes it to Junmyeon, not without glancing at the caller name. Why is Chen calling Junmyeon so early?

Junmyeon takes the phone and accepts the call, “Hello?”

Yifan cannot obviously hear what Chen said on the other end, but he can guess it is something unpleasant judging by the way Junmyeon’s face loses all colour and his eyes widen. The call ends but Junmyeon’s face is schooled into this expression of surprise and disbelief. He looks at Yifan and his voice shakes when he says, “Lay, I mean Yixing-sshi, is dead.”

Yifan noiselessly gasps.

 

Junmyeon looks down at his mobile phone one last time, re-checking the address sent to him. He side-eyes Yifan sitting in the passenger seat, silent and scowling. Well, he did lose his friend, even if he currently doesn’t remember said friend. They are currently headed to a place Chen texted the address to him. Chen said that he wasn’t going to do the funeral rites without Yifan’s presence. This place is pretty far from the main city, pushing closer to the suburbs. Chen explained that he wanted to perform the funeral far from the city because doing anything in Seoul will raise unwanted questions.

Yifan is screaming inside. He cannot believe Yixing is dead. What could have possibly happened? Chen didn’t give any details about Yixing’s death. He closes his eyes and the image of dimpled smiles and mismatched Korean words and calm eyes with determination smouldering behind them flashes in his head. Yixing was his first friend. Yixing wanted to be his friend even after he saw Yifan covered in blood and gore. Yixing understood the guilt and emptiness Yifan feels. Yixing saw past all the sins he committed. Yixing used to remind him that he could change, he could leave anytime he wanted and that Yixing would follow him there too. And now Yixing is gone. Without realising, a single tear rolls down his cheek.

Junmyeon glances at Yifan again. He notices the track of tears on Yifan’s cheek. He stops the car and leans over to Yifan. He touches Yifan’s shoulder and softly says, “Yifan?”

“Yixing was a friend. And now he is gone,” Yifan says. He wishes he could tell Junmyeon everything. But he has to keep up this charade.

Junmyeon sighs deeply. Obviously Yifan feels the loss even if he cannot remember. Memories and feelings sometimes are separate entities. He cups Yifan’s cheek which had the latter turning his head to look at him. Junmyeon leans closer and kisses Yifan’s cheek. He says, “I wish I could help…”

Suddenly Yifan remembers, Junmyeon lost a friend too. They were in the same boat. And here, again, Junmyeon was putting Yifan before himself. And he was still lying to Junmyeon. Before he can stop himself he finds himself unclasping the seatbelt, leaning forward, closer to Junmyeon and hovering for an endless tension-fraught moment, before lowering his head and slamming his mouth on Junmyeon’s, eager, hungry, desperate.

Junmyeon doesn’t know what shocks him more: the sheer reckless abandon with which Yifan kisses him or the yearning behind it as Yifan’s lips skids over his, craving purchase, demanding he respond. He doesn’t need to be asked twice, opening his mouth, the thrill of Yifan’s tongue plunging in and exploring him tearing a groan from deep within.

Crazy with passion—realisation slams into Junmyeon as Yifan eased the kiss, lifts his head to stare at him with something akin to unabashed lust in his glittering deep brown eyes.

Junmyeon isn’t in control any more, had lost it the second Yifan had initiated the kiss, demanding a response he was all too willing to give. Too willing indeed.

They gaze at each other, deeply without any words. Yifan scoots back to his seat and wears the seatbelt again. He says, “Let’s go. Chen must be waiting.”

Junmyeon nods even though his blood still sings with desire. Yifan just did something extremely impulsive. Junmyeon wonders what that was all about.

Yifan is amazed, and frustrated, at his own impulsiveness. Why does proximity to Junmyeon affects him this way? It is like Junmyeon keeps pulling him in like a magnetic force field. And Yifan is trying his level-best to run, to fight this fatal attraction. If he gets too close, if he falls into this force field, it will only end in destruction.

Junmyeon starts the car again and they are off. But the magnetic pull remains.

 

Kang Daesung glances up from his phone as Kwon Jiyong enters his office. He puts down his phone and focuses on the man bowing in front of him. Jiyong says, “You called?”

“Yeah,” Daesung says as he stands up from his seat, “I am giving you another chance.”

Jiyong frowns, “Another chance at what sir?”

Daesung’s eyes harden and he grits his teeth before he says, “Another chance at killing Wu Yifan.”

Jiyong nods his head solemnly. He would also like to finish his orders this time.

Daesung believes it is high time Yifan’s good luck begins to run out.

Chapter Text

It took them one hour and a little more than fifteen minutes to get to Yeoju from Seoul by car. Junmyeon stops the car in front of this beautiful riverfront property. The house isn’t too big; neither is it too small. He looks around the tranquil estate and takes in the scenic view. Apparently this place was co-owned by Yifan and Yixing. Junmyeon wonders if Yifan can remember this place. He turns to look at Yifan, who has a prize-winning scowl etched on his face. Junmyeon wonders what that is about.

Of course Yifan remembers, but obviously doesn’t say so to Junmyeon. Yifan, Luhan and Yixing bought this house and the surrounding land two years ago. This is their hideaway, their safehouse; this is where they stored most of their profits from the garage. Well, the honestly earned money went to banks while the not-so-honestly money was stored in the impenetrable locker in the basement. This is also where Yifan holed himself up six months ago.

Jongdae had heard their car entering the driveway, so he comes out to greet them. Junmyeon’s heart twists uncomfortably when he sees how upset the usually cheery Jongdae looked like. It is like all the happiness had been squeezed out of him. His feline-shaped lips would, usually, be turned up in a permanent smile, but the same smile was erased, replaced by deep sorrow. Junmyeon gets down from the car and goes over to hug Jongdae.

Jongdae is a little taken aback but he reciprocates by hugging Junmyeon back. Junmyeon’s grip around him is firm and gentle, and it is suddenly so comforting to be held like this. It breaks Jongdae’s resolve and the tiny sobs that he makes him shake a little. Junmyeon soothingly rubs his back and says, “I am sorry. This is so shocking, to be honest. I wish I could do something…”

Jongdae nods his head. He gets a whiff of how Junmyeon smells, like home and home-cooked breakfast and Jongdae thinks he could be hugged like this for a little more. Junmyeon reminds him of the time he was fourteen and his life was nothing like this. His heart clenches painfully. He squeezes his eyes and tries to control his breakdown.

Yifan mutely watches the scene from his seat inside the car. He is sort of surprised at how Junmyeon just hugged Jongdae, like they have been best friends for years. He swallows when he realises that this too was an example of how Junmyeon is. He opens the door and grabs his crutches from the backseat. He hops out and walks over to Junmyeon. He believes the hug has lasted too long. He clears his throat. They separate and, okay, Jongdae’s little teary face twists Yifan’s insides too.

Jongdae sadly smiles, “Thanks for coming. I know how you must feel, and I wish you knew, but…yeah. Come in.” He rubs his face and gestures at Junmyeon and Yifan to follow.

Yifan says, “Junmyeon can go ahead. I have something to ask you.”

Junmyeon nods, understanding that Yifan probably needs some clarification from Jongdae. He enters the house and contemplates removing his shoes or not because the house was Western-stylised. He is staring at his shoes when a voice says, in accented Korean, “You can take them off.”

Junmyeon raises his head to see Tao standing in front of him. Junmyeon takes off his shoes and bows at Tao, who bows back. Tao beckons him to follow him. Junmyeon does so. They make no sound in their socked feet as they walk down a short hallway. Then Tao stops at the last door and says, “Well, you work in forensics.”

Junmyeon is confused at first but then he understands. He nods his head. He asks, “How did Yixing-sshi die?”

“Someone stabbed him,” Tao says, his voice tight but Junmyeon can hear the rage behind it. Someone tried killing Yifan; and someone actually killed Yixing. Junmyeon gulps, suddenly a little worried.

They walk in and Junmyeon takes a staggering breath. Yixing looks peaceful laid out on the floor covered in a white sheet. It is almost like he is just sleeping. Junmyeon didn’t know him for long, yet he feels awful. Since he was raised Buddhist (even though he hasn’t seen the inside of any religious institution for the last ten years), he kneels beside Yixing and chants the prayer his grandmother once taught him, “‘Sabbe Saikhara Anicca ‘ti Yada Pannaya Passati Atha Nibbindati Dukkhe Esa Maggo Visuddhiya. Sabbe Saikhara Dukkha’ ti Yada Pannaya Passati Atha Nibbindati Dukkhe Esa Maggo Visuddhiya Sabbe Dhamma Anatta’ Ti Yada Pannaya Passati Atha Nibbindati Dukkhe Esa Maggo Visuddhiya…”

When he is finished, he stands up and turns around to see he has an audience (well Tao was already there) of Jongdae and Yifan staring at him. He blushes and scratches his neck, “I was raised Buddhist.”

“Huh,” Tao nods, “So was Lay-ge. It is a good thing you said a prayer, none of us could.”

“Yeah,” Jongdae says, “That was nice of you.”

Yifan walks in further and crouches beside Yixing. He looks at the body and his heart breaks. His best friend is gone. And he never could thank Yixing enough for being there for him, for being his friend when he needed one, or when he didn’t even know he needed one. He closes his eyes and swallows the tears threatening to fall. He has to keep up his act in front of Junmyeon. He touches Yixing’s forehead and mentally tells his friend goodbye. He swears to find whoever did this to him, and make him or her pay, very, very dearly.

 

When Junmyeon enters the house, leaving Jongdae and Yifan alone, Yifan lowers his voice and says to Jongdae, “My memories are back.”

Jongdae’s eyes widen comically. He throws his hands around Yifan and starts crying, “Ge, Yixing-ge…he was stabbed. Someone murdered him!”

Yifan pats Jongdae’s head and clenches his jaw. He says, “We will get whoever did this.”

Jongdae pulls back and sniffs, “So, if your memories are back, why are you still at Junmyeon hyung’s place?”

Yifan gulps, “I think…I think he might be in danger. Whoever sent Min Yoongi knows where Junmyeon lives. It is not safe. I was attacked, and Yixing’s dead. Someone or somebodies are targeting us.”

Jongdae nods even though he wonders if that is all. Yifan asks, “Where’s Luhan?”

“I don’t know ge. I have tried contacting him since yesterday. His phone is off. I am scared ge.”

Yifan pats Jongdae’s head again. He says, “Let’s not think of the worst possibilities. And Jongdae, don’t say anything to Junmyeon. You can tell Tao. And Luhan if he contacts you first.”

“Okay. Ge?”

“Yeah?”

“Junmyeon hyung feels like home doesn’t he?” Jongdae’s eyes are wistful.

Yifan looks down at his shoes. So Jongdae feels it too. Yifan didn’t have family while Jongdae lost his when he was fifteen years old. They both had an unconscious yearning for home—a place where they could feel safe, secured and loved—in this terrible existence they shared. Jongdae had some experience of it but Yifan didn’t even know how that felt. But with Junmyeon, he admits, grudgingly, that he thinks he feels it. Home. He is still staring at his plastered foot when he says, very quietly, “Yeah.” 

 

After a cremation at the local funeral house that turned out to be owned by an acquaintance of Yifan, the four of them—Yifan, Jongdae, Tao and Junmyeon—where heading back to Seoul in Junmyeon’s car. Evening was close by the time they started. Yifan is on the passenger seat while the two younger men were fast asleep in the back seat. Junmyeon thinks Tao looks kind of cute and harmless when asleep.

Suddenly Yifan asks, “That prayer you said, what does it mean?”

Junmyeon pouts, “Uh, if I remember right, it means suffering is all that is conditioned: when with wisdom one sees this, then one tires of suffering; this is the path to purity. My grandmother once took me to her friend’s funeral and recited this prayer. I asked her what it was and she taught me. Told me never to be afraid of death and that all suffering has an end, no matter how much hard this world becomes.”

“Your grandmother sounds like a very wise woman,” Yifan comments.

“She was.”

Yifan says nothing as he looks at Junmyeon from the corner of his eyes. The more he sees the various sides of Junmyeon the more he becomes convinced that he is a terrible, terrible presence in Junmyeon’s life.

Yet, he is unable to leave. Unable to stop his emotions from running haywire. 

 

Luhan walks into his empty apartment. He switches on the lights and sighs. Minseok comes home in a few days. Luhan is happy that Minseok is recovering fast but somehow, he feels like he has lost Minseok. He knows the inner battle Minseok must be waging with himself. So today, Minseok straight up told him to not stay. Luhan silently obeyed and pretended his eyes weren’t burning due to unshed tears from the rejection.

He walks in and turns his phone on. Twenty missed calls from Tao and fifty missed calls from Jongdae. He gulps. There are a few messages too. He opens them one by one. The last one has him gasping:

Kris Wu 03-27, 8.00 a.m.
My memory’s back. Call me.

The phone drops from Luhan’s hand. He rubs his face. He is so fucked now. 

 

“There, take a right,” Jongdae says. He is giving the directions to their garage.

Junmyeon takes the right and after a few yards they stop in front of a large establishment. But what surprised him, and the others, is a young woman standing in front of the closed doors of the garage. The headlights on Junmyeon’s car hits her and she raises her hands to block the light. Junmyeon stops the car, and cuts the light. They all get down and the woman approaches them.

She looks over at everyone and decides to address Jongdae, “Hello, I was wondering if you knew where Yixing, I mean, Lay is?”

The four of them share a look. Jongdae says, “He is dead. He died two days ago.”

The woman’s eyes widen and she gasps, “No…” She sways and Junmyeon rushes forward to catch her as she faints.

Jongdae says, “Well, what.”

“Hold up,” Tao says, “She looks familiar. Isn’t she Kang Daesung’s secretary?”

“Well, we need to take her inside,” Junmyeon huffs, “Can we?”

Jongdae opens the door and Junmyeon picks her up bridal style and walks in. Tao hisses, “What is she doing here?”

Yifan spots the handbag that dropped from her hand. He points at it, “You can check.”

“Uh, it is a ladies’ bag,” Jongdae protests.

“Yeah I don’t care,” Tao says as he crouches down and unzips the Gucci (Tao knows his brands) bag. He rummages for a while and finds no weapons. But he takes out her wallet. He flips it open and reads from her identity card, “Jung Soojung.”

Suddenly something falls from the wallet. Tao picks it up and his eyes widen. He whistles, “Chen-ge you gotta see this.” He hands the strip of photos to Jongdae.

Jongdae takes it and Yifan peers over. They both gasp and look at each other, eyes wide and mouths open.

It is a series of photos of the woman with Yixing, and they look like they are in love as all the photos have them either embracing or kissing each other.

“Hey guys! She is awake!” Junmyeon shouts. The three of them scurry in, handbag in tow after Jongdae stashes back the photo.

In the fluorescent light inside the garage, they realise the woman is actually very beautiful. She is crying though. She says, “I am Krystal, or Jung Soojung, from Kang’s office.”

“Yeah I recognised you,” Tao crosses his arms and glares.

Krystal bites her lips to stop the tears, “Yixing and I were, uh, dating.” She misses the look the four men share. “When he didn’t text me for two days I got worried. I went to his apartment, it was empty. So I decided to come here. But…” her entire body starts shaking as she starts crying again.

Junmyeon sits down beside her on the couch and rubs her back. Krystal hiccups, “We had been dating for a year. We couldn’t even meet every day. But he always texted me, once in the morning and once in the night, no matter what happened he never once broke this habit. But when he didn’t for two days, I started feeling afraid. And my worst fear became true…” she falls onto Junmyeon’s chest and sobs, “I couldn’t even get to see him for the last time. I didn’t even get to tell him I loved him. He never got to know how much I loved him…I never got the chance.”

Junmyeon says nothing as he wraps his arms around Krystal. He glares over her head at Jongdae and Tao who were stunned speechless. He mouths tissues and water to them. The two of them get his message and run off to find said items. Junmyeon’s mom glare sometimes worked wonders.

Yifan sits down beside on the other side of Krystal. He asks, “You were dating him for that long and you couldn’t tell him how you felt?” He pointedly ignored Junmyeon’s mom glare directed at him.

Krystal detangles herself from Junmyeon’s embrace and rubs her face. She smiles sadly, “I don’t have to tell you what having a relationship means in this world of ours, do I Kris-sshi?”

For maybe half a second, or even less, Junmyeon’s and Yifan’s eyes meet. Junmyeon turns his head away and deeply inhales while Yifan looks down back at Krystal who continues, “Yixing told me not to fall in love with him and I challenged him back not to fall in love with me. We joked about it but when we both did, we chose not to talk about it. We thought we would jinx our happiness. Ha, it got jinxed anyway.”

“How,” Junmyeon gulps, “How did you guys know if he never told you?”

Krystal turns to look at Junmyeon and says, “It was in the gazes and touches. I cannot really explain, but we just knew.” Her sad smile kind of stabs Junmyeon’s sides. He rubs her shoulders and stares at his shoes.

Jongdae returns with a tissue box, Tao following with a glass of water. They hand both the things to Krystal who eagerly takes it and thanks them for it. She finishes the water in one gulp and after that she says, “Can I ask how Yixing died?”

“Of course you can,” Jongdae says, “He was stabbed.”

The glass falls from her grip but thanks to Yifan’s great reflexes, he catches it in time. She gasps and clamps a hand over her mouth. She says, her voice muffled, “No, no.”

Suddenly Krystal gets to her feet and grabs her bag. She takes turns to look at them all, “There is something I have to do. I promise to get back to you.” With that she leaves.

Tao says what everyone else was thinking, “She knows something doesn’t she?”

Junmyeon clutches the cushion under him, thinking what has he gotten himself into? And why did Yifan look at him like that?

Chapter Text

Woo Jiho knows he is finished. He should have known better than to go against Kang Daesung. But greed is an insatiable mistress and power is such a seductive little minx. So now Woo Jiho—or as he is known in his club, Blockbuster, Zico—knows he is a dead man.

He knows his doom is near as he stares at the face of his brother, Mino, lying on the floor with a slit throat. The blood is still trickling out of the wound. He looks at the man looming large over his brothers’ body. The man pulls Mino’s eyelids down and says, “Shame, I actually liked Mino hyung. He had mad rapping skills.”

“Zelo…” Jiho whimpers, not quite sure what to say. He had been speechless ever since he had seen Zelo entering his establishment and taking down three guards at once: he broke one’s neck and stabbed the other two. Then he had made his way to the inner office where Mino was waiting with a gun aimed at the door. However, Zelo proved to be far more skilled than Mino and it didn’t take Zelo long to incapacitate Mino and proceed to slit his throat, ear to ear. Jiho simply looked on in stunned horror as his brother swayed and the life seeped out of his body.

Zelo swishes his knife in the air, the blood has already started to clot on the blade, and smiles, “Yes, Zico-hyung?”

“Why are you doing this? I got your message when I learnt about the deaths of Daehyun, Himchan and others. I understood loud and clear that Kang wants me to stop my drugs operation. And I did! I am sticking to gambling and girls now, I promise!”

“Daesung hyung didn’t send me. I came on my own. I know Mino and you were responsible for switching out my pills. Yongguk-hyung told me right before I sprayed the pavement with his brain. I wanted to come here first, but I had a list to follow. I haven’t been my other self yet but the fact that all of you used me for your ends seriously pissed me off. So I killed your dear brother.” His grin is so sinister that Jiho nearly wets his pants.

Jiho gulps, “Fine. I am sorry. I admit I didn’t think of the end of this. I am really sorry.”

“This isn’t that simple hyung,” Zelo takes out the gun from his jacket, “I am here for me. As I said, no one sent me. You know who I enjoyed killing the most? Yongguk-hyung and Jongup-hyung. They were so kind, but of course. Goodbye hyung.”

Jiho closes his eyes when he hears the hammer click into place.

When Jiho falls to the floor, Zelo shivers. He feels the familiar tug in his mind. No, he doesn’t have time for this. He needs to leave before anyone finds him here. On his way out, he steals the security tapes. Prevention is better than cure.

 

Junmyeon and Yifan have a quiet breakfast the next day, each stewing in their own thoughts. They were both trying to decipher the look that they gave each other when Krystal talked about relationships. Yifan is wondering what is his relationship with Junmyeon while Junmyeon wonders the same thing. Last night they were too tired to talk so they had gone to bed, this time taking care to not touch each other. It failed anyway when both of them wake up to see that their limbs were entangled and Junmyeon had his head on Yifan’s shoulder again.

They live together, they have kissed each other (and more), there is comfort in each other’s company. But Yifan knows what Krystal meant. Attachments are dangerous.

And Junmyeon knows how much attachment to Yifan is a terrible idea. But oh wait, it is too late for that now.

But neither can deny that whatever they have is there, simmering under the surface. There is an elephant in the room and none of them want to address it.

Junmyeon doesn’t even kiss Yifan goodbye (and no, no Yifan is not bothered by this at all if you ask him). He had received a call from the station and he was headed there. Work, he needs work to keep his mind off Yifan. He grips his steering wheel hard as he bites down on his lip. He was absolutely aware why kissing Yifan was a bad idea. Yifan has invaded all his thoughts and Junmyeon doesn’t know how he can ever stop. He is hooked on this feeling and he wishes he could get off this ride.

He stops his car in front of the club, Blockbuster. Apparently it was a mini massacre inside the trendy looking building with five people dead. Since this club is in the very centre of the drug trade in Yongsan, Junmyeon is pretty sure this is a gang war or something of that sort. He parks his car and gets down. As he walks closer he realises there is small group of people talking very loudly. He spots Taemin standing a few feet away. He walks over to the photographer and says, “Hey what is going on?”

Taemin presses his lips in a straight line as he says, “Typical jurisdiction hullaballoo. The Yongsan CSI team wants to take over, but since we are the superior department and you know how messed up and corrupted Yongsan PD is, Detective Jung Taekwoon is trying to fight for us.”

Junmyeon recognises the broad-shouldered tall detective, with his back to Junmyeon, talking to a woman who is trying her best to square up to Taekwoon in her short stature. Junmyeon frowns, he knows her. He walks over to them and says, “Taeyeon-sshi?”

The woman stops gesticulating and her eyes widen when she notices Junmyeon and recognition dawns in her eyes, “Junmyeon-sshi? Oh my!”

Taekwoon glares at Junmyeon who cowers a little mentally (the detective is genuinely intimidating). Taeyeon sighs, “Fine, if Junmyeon-sshi is here, I can work with him.” She flashes a smile at Junmyeon who tries smiling back even though he can feel Taekwoon’s gaze like a laser burning a hole on his back. “I am prepared to cooperate with him.” Taeyeon pointedly glares at Taekwoon.

Junmyeon beckons Hakyeon and Taemin, who were standing at a distance watching the exchange with ill-concealed amusement, to follow him and Taeyeon and her forensic photographer. They enter the establishment and spot the three bodies in the entrance right away. Hakyeon and Taemin get to work there while Junmyeon and Taeyeon enter the inner office where the club’s owner and his brother’s bodies were found.

Taeyeon says, “This place is infamous for their parties and raves. Not my first time looking at dead bodies in this area. Oh Junmyeon-sshi, this is Lee Jinki.” She points at the good-looking man who nods his head at Junmyeon before he starts taking pictures.

Junmyeon looks at the bodies and he is a little astonished by how much this scene resembles the crime scene at Seocho-dong. Slit one’s throat and shot another point blank in the head. He wonders if the killer is the same person.

“This is the club owner, Woo Jiho,” Jinki points at the body with the gunshot wound, “I have seen his mugshot before.”

“Oh yeah, I have seen him in the station on multiple occasions usually bailing his pushers out,” Taeyeon says, “Since he is dead, do you think this was a gang thing?”

“I don’t think so,” Junmyeon wonders aloud.

“Why not Dr Kim?” a voice speaks from behind them. They all turn around to see Taekwoon standing at the entrance. The hard look in his eyes asks for an explanation.

Junmyeon explains, “Two bodies were found at Seocho-dong a few days ago. One had his throat slit and the other was shot. In fact, I am ready to bet that the bullet extracted will match the victim at Seocho-dong.”

Taeyeon huffs, “Hm, then the case does go over to your jurisdiction.” She narrows her eyes at Taekwoon who smirks back.

“Get to work then Dr Kim,” Taekwoon says before leaving.

 

Back at the office, Junmyeon and Hakyeon wait for the ballistics report to arrive. They quietly eat their lunch and chitchat about nothing in general. Until Hakyeon asks, “So how is Yifan-sshi?”

Junmyeon nearly chokes on his sandwich, “He is okay.”

“Oh. That is nice to hear.”

“Hm.” Suddenly he realises his crush on Cha Hakyeon had dissipated. He can now interact with Hakyeon without feeling like jumping out of his skin. He has one Wu Yifan to thank (or blame? He doesn’t know).

“Dr Cha?” a girl enters Junmyeon’s office with a report in hand. Hakyeon rises from his seat and takes the report, not forgetting to thank the girl. He opens the file and reads it. He whistles, “You are right. Both lead bullets are from a Walther PPK. They are a ninety-eight per cent match.”

Junmyeon picks up the in-office phone and calls Taekwoon. The phone gets picked up after six rings, “What.”

“The bullets are a match,” Junmyeon says, fighting the urge to roll his eyes at Taekwoon’s brusque manner. Does the tall detective have any manners at all?

“Interesting.” Taekwoon disconnects the call.

Junmyeon stares at the phone for a while and grumbles, “Such a grumpy bear. I’d like to see him smile.”

“Maybe he cannot because he has a perpetual stick up his ass,” Hakyeon grins.

Junmyeon laughs.

 

Yifan lies down on his bed and waits for Junmyeon. It is somewhere after eleven now. Junmyeon is never this late. On top of that he sent Yifan no text, or even call him, which he usually does when he runs late. He crosses his arms under his head and sighs. Suho purrs at his feet, the cat equally worried about his owner.

Yifan thinks he should tell Junmyeon the truth and then leave. But yet he cannot help thinking if he would be putting Junmyeon in danger if he leaves. He sighs again. Kim Junmyeon is becoming a riddle he cannot solve. It is mildly annoying.

Then he hears the front doors click open. It is Junmyeon judging from the footsteps. Yifan doesn’t need to see to know what Junmyeon is doing: he first deposits his car keys in the drawer in the shoe rack, then takes off his shoes and then takes off his coat. Then he walks into the kitchen and checks to see if Yifan and Suho had their dinner or not. Then he opens the refrigerator to drink some water. Then he makes his way to his room.

On cue, the door to the bedroom opens. Junmyeon sees Yifan and Suho sprawled on his bed. Both human and feline look at him. Suho jumps down and rubs his lithe body against Junmyeon’s leg who crouches to scratch him behind his ear. Yifan asks, “Did you have your dinner?”

“Yeah, Hakyeon and I got some dinner. Work was insane today,” Junmyeon says.

Hakyeon? That tall man with a dazzling smile who works with Junmyeon, right? Something akin to jealousy claws at Yifan but he doesn’t recognise it. He only scowls at the ceiling, “Oh.”

“One crime scene connected to another crime scene. The detectives are certain there might be a serial killer on loose or something,” Junmyeon says as he rummages inside his dresser.

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. And then Amber’s sister called to say the funeral is in four days.”

“Oh.”

A heavy silence descends on them. Junmyeon grabs his sleeping clothes and sighs. He is about to say something when Yifan beats him to it, “Junmyeon can we talk?”

Junmyeon whips his head around and stares at Yifan for a few beats before he says, “Yes. Just let me take a shower first.”

Yifan smiles, “Yeah, nearly twelve hours inside a morgue and all.”

Junmyeon chuckles, “Yeah.” He leaves the room.

After fifteen minutes Junmyeon comes back rubbing his hair with a towel. When he thinks his hair is dry enough, he spreads the towel on a chair and sits down on the bed.

Yifan hadn’t moved from his position. He looks at Junmyeon, who sits with his back facing Yifan. His hair is wet and messed up. The t-shirt he is wearing is ratty and looks like it has seen better days; but the t-shirt is maybe a couple sizes too big for him so it is slipping off one shoulder, and exposing a wide enough expanse of flawless, milky skin. Yifan gulps at the sight and ignores the tug in his gut. He says, “Jun—”

“I have been thinking of what Krystal said yesterday,” Junmyeon speaks. He looks over his shoulder and says, “What are we Yifan?” he doesn’t give Yifan the opportunity to answer when he pulls his knees to his chest and curls into a ball, “I mean I know this is nothing. You and me, we are just convenient. As soon as you gain your memories, you will leave.” He laughs bitterly, “Sometimes I wish we could be like this forever but it is selfish and petty on my part. You have a life that is poles apart from mine. I have no place there and neither do you have a place here.” His voice drops to a strained whisper, “You can’t stay and I can’t go with you.”

Yifan knows Junmyeon is right. Whatever he is saying is absolutely correct. They got close because they are the only two people in this space. Yet, this inexplicable feeling lodges in his throat and he gulps it down. He looks at the way Junmyeon was sitting—defensive yet vulnerable. Yifan doesn’t know what to say. Junmyeon continues, “Maybe I was too clouded by my crush on you. Maybe I was thinking I was fifteen again and this time I can ask Wu Yifan to like me back. This is silly. I am silly.”

Yifan says, quietly, “Maybe I should leave.”

Junmyeon looks over his shoulder again. Yifan’s heart clenches when he sees the way Junmyeon’s eyes were glistening. But Junmyeon nods his head and whispers, “Yeah, maybe you should.” Junmyeon can feel his heart breaking and he is pretty sure past Junmyeon is kicking present Junmyeon in the face. And he deserves to be kicked. He knew what he was getting into, and oh look what happened now. Life isn’t a romantic comedy where everyone lives happily ever after. Especially Kim Junmyeon’s life.

Yifan doesn’t know why his heart hurts all of a sudden. Then Junmyeon turns his head again and says, “I will sleep in the next room.” But before he could get down, Yifan sits up and grabs his hand. Junmyeon stares at him.

Yifan says, “This is your room, you should stay. I will go.”

“No,” Junmyeon smiles, “You shouldn’t move much. I will go.” He tries leaving again, putting one foot on the ground.

But Yifan doesn’t let Junmyeon free his hand. He tugs Junmyeon hard and the latter loses his balance, sending him falling sideways against Yifan’s lap.

The wet brown hair tickles Yifan’s nose, and it smells like oranges. The t-shirt has fallen a little bit off the shoulder, those collarbones in full display. Yifan cannot stop his fingers from slowly threading through Junmyeon’s still damp hair. Junmyeon pulls back slightly, but not completely, and stares at him unblinkingly. Yifan shifts his gaze from the questioning eyes to the enticing lips to the pale skin. Yifan cannot stop himself when he leans forward and presses his lips against the juncture where Junmyeon’s neck and shoulder meet. He places open-mouthed kisses there and bites down lightly. He hears Junmyeon gasp. His teeth dig deeper and then he soothes it over with his tongue. He trails kisses along the plane of the shoulder, pushing the sleeve down Junmyeon’s arm. Junmyeon cannot stop the moans falling from his lips.

Yifan would like to stop but then Junmyeon shifts and ends up in his lap, with his legs encaging him, so he gives up resisting. Their bodies are flush against each other and Junmyeon digs blunt nails on Yifan’s neck. Yifan snakes his arms around Junmyeon and pulls him closer. He can feel Junmyeon’s frantic heartbeat against his chest.

Junmyeon tugs at his hair, pushing him away. Yifan removes his lips from the skin he was so eager to taste. He locks his gaze with Junmyeon, who looks half turned on and half worried. He asks shakily, “Yifan, why are we doing this then?”

Yifan tries arranging the right words in his head. He says when he thinks he can be coherent enough, “I know, I know that this isn’t ideal but I cannot stop. Everything has changed, and now…”

“Now?” Junmyeon whispers, his eyes uncertain, “What do you want from me now?”

“This.”

 Before he can make sense of Yifan’s words, before he can push Yifan for an explanation, Yifan’s mouth swoops and captures his in a hungry, rash kiss, blindingly brilliant in its savage intensity.

Junmyeon’s senses reels as Yifan deepens the kiss, as he let him, stunned by the ferocity of his own response as he grabs frantically at Yifan’s t-shirt, clings to him, drags him closer.

If Yifan had slowed down, been tender and gentle rather than commanding and masterful, he would’ve had time to think, time to dredge up every rational reason why he shouldn’t be doing this after everything else, after how Krystal showed them the truth behind this attachment and put this ‘relationship’ in focus.

But he pushes those tyrant thoughts away as Yifan’s hands strums his back, his lips playing delightful havoc with Junmyeon’s as he challenges him with every tantalising sweep of his tongue, with every searing brush of his lips.

It felt like the kiss of a lifetime.

An eternity later, when the initial blistering heat subsides and their lips ease, lingers, before releasing, the reality of the situation rushes in, the doubts swamping Junmyeon in a crushing wave. He opens his mouth to say something, anything when both of them hear the door to their bedroom open, bit by bit.

Chapter Text

Yifan knows that whoever is at the opposite end of the door is not any average human. Must be an assassin again because he heard nothing—no footsteps, no doors being opened with a lock pick. Though he thinks Junmyeon in his lap might be the reason why he slipped. He grabs Junmyeon by the waist and rolls them both off the bed. His leg complains and Junmyeon says something but quiets down as the report of a gunshot fills the room. The bullet cracks the window. Shards of glass fall on Yifan and Junmyeon.

“Come on Yifan,” a slightly nasal voice sing-songs, “I want to see your pretty face when I kill you.”

Yifan cups Junmyeon’s face and with his eyes tells him to stay put. He peeks over the bed. Kwon Jiyong! Suddenly he remembers, it was Jiyong who pushed him off the building. He grabs the crutches that he had kept beside the bed and gets to his feet.

Jiyong smirks, pointing his brand new .44 Magnum at Yifan, “It is funny to see you like this.”

“Don’t worry, I am equally amused to see you,” Yifan growls.

“Where’s the pretty boyfriend of yours? Must say you got a nice choice. Couldn’t hide his attractiveness even through those grainy surveillance pictures.”

Yifan scowls. His skin crawls thinking this sad excuse for a human being, this vile man had been spying on Junmyeon. He never liked Jiyong. He reminded Yifan of a snake. Yifan had certain principles but Jiyong didn't. Jiyong walks around the bed and spots Junmyeon. He grins, “Oh there you are. Please get to your feet. I would like you to see your boyfriend die.”

Junmyeon gets to his feet, his knees terribly wobbly. He clutches the back of Yifan’s t-shirt. He is terribly scared.

Yifan is seething inside. He has put the puzzle pieces together. He knows now. He throws his crutch at Jiyong who swerves not before accidentally pulling the trigger. A shot whizzes out and Yifan hears a soft cry of pain behind him. He turns around and sees Junmyeon on his knees, clutching his forearm as blood trickles down the gap in his fingers. Junmyeon locks his teary gaze with Yifan, “It grazed me.”

Yifan says nothing as he focuses back on Jiyong who raises his hand again. If Yifan was seething before, he is downright mercurial now. Jiyong hurt Junmyeon. Yifan is going to kill him.

He forgets the pain in his leg as he lunges at Jiyong. The force has Jiyong falling on his back with a thump. Yifan straddles him and swiftly punches him in his face. The crunch of cartilage breaking is satisfying. But suddenly Jiyong flips Yifan over and hits his head with the butt of the gun. Yifan sees stars briefly before he uses all his energy to get the upper-hand and flip Jiyong on his back again.

Jiyong still had his gun in his hand. When Yifan notices that he snaps Jiyong’s wrist into two. Jiyong cries out in pain, blood flowing down his nose and staining his teeth. Yifan whispers, “That is for pushing me.” He realises there is blood trickling down his temple.

Then Yifan punches him again. This time he knows he broke teeth as blood fills Jiyong’s mouth. Yifan takes the gun from Jiyong’s hand and points it at him. Jiyong laughs, “Funny how you end up killing me, eh?”

“What will you do Jiyong? This life of ours ends either at the barrel of a gun or at the bottom of a glass. Eat lead you, vile motherfucker.”

Yifan pushes the tip of the gun in Jiyong’s mouth who gags slightly. He says something and Yifan knows it is something along the lines of “See you in hell bitch.” Yeah, Yifan knows. Then Jiyong closes his eyes. Yifan pulls the trigger.

Junmyeon had seen it all. When they started rolling around he had nearly cried for Yifan. Then he saw Yifan gaining the upper-hand and he saw the way Yifan shot Jiyong. Blood pooled around Jiyong’s head, and some of it sprayed on Yifan’s face. Junmyeon also heard what Yifan said.

Yifan gets up and hops over to Junmyeon who looks at him with scared eyes. Yifan asks, “You okay?”

The sight of a blood-splattered Yifan who just killed a man with no hesitation should scare the living daylights out of him, but instead of that, Junmyeon knees shake as he stands up and crashes against Yifan’s chest. He feels strong hands hold him up. He mutters, “You okay?”

Yifan chuckles, “I need painkillers.” He pushes Junmyeon a little and holds him at arms’ length, “Let’s get that wound treated. Come on.”

They sidestep the body lying on the floor and Yifan gestures Junmyeon to bring his phone. Junmyeon does so. Then Yifan takes his hand and they enter the bathroom where Junmyeon kept his first aid kit.

Junmyeon sits down on the sink as Yifan carefully peels the fabric away from the wound. He sighs, “It is nothing serious, thank goodness.”

Junmyeon says, his voice tight as the shock starts to wear off and his rational side returns, “Seen a lot of gunshot wounds haven’t you?”

Yifan knows he has been caught. He wets a towel and gently wipes the clotted blood away. He knows Junmyeon is waiting for an answer. He puts down the towel when Junmyeon picks it up. Junmyeon grabs his chin and forces him to meet the former’s gaze. Junmyeon says nothing as he wipes the blood off Yifan’s face. But Yifan can see the conflict, and most importantly, pain, in his eyes. Yifan whispers, “Yes.”

Junmyeon takes a staggering breath, “Since when?” Yifan knows very well what Junmyeon was alluding to.

Yifan dabs at the wound on Junmyeon’s arm with antiseptic. Junmyeon hisses a little. Yifan maintains his silence until he covers the flesh wound with a clean bandage. He finally says, “Since that night I woke up with a headache.”

Junmyeon gasps. That was nearly five days ago or so. All this time Yifan…pretended? He thinks about the time Yifan helped him when he was mourning Amber’s death. He thinks about that reckless, impulsive kiss in the car. He thinks about the heated kiss very recently. He thinks about all the smiles and gazes and words. If he was in complete control of his memories, why did he do all that? What was all that about then?

Junmyeon sees Yifan dial a number on his phone and say something in Chinese. He disconnects and looks at Junmyeon. Yifan notices the tears rolling down Junmyeon’s cheeks. Yifan comes closer and touches his cheeks, “Jun—”

Junmyeon swats his hands away and hops down from the sink. He says nothing as he walks out of the bathroom. His head is reeling and his vision is blurry. He hadn’t realised he had started crying. He hears Yifan walking into the living room. Junmyeon heads for the kitchen and gets himself some water. He tries to keep his emotions in check when he asks, “Who did you call?”

“My cleaning crew. They need to make the body disappear,” Yifan replies, wary because he cannot see Junmyeon’s face as he had his back turned to him.

“Okay. Who was that you killed?”

“Kwon Jiyong,” Yifan walks closer, trying to make no sound, “He was the one who pushed me.”

“Oh.”

Yifan puts his hand on Junmyeon’s shoulder, who jumps and hisses, “Please don’t touch me.”

Yifan retracts his hand not before asking, “Why?” He tries to conceal the hurt and confusion he feels on his face.

Junmyeon sighs and turns around, “You were faking it all along. If you had your memories, why did you pretend to like me?” His lips are quivering again and Yifan’s stomach is twisting again. “What the fuck was with all that? Why the fuck did you stay? Why the fuck did you lie?”

What the fuck was all that and why the fuck did he stay and why the fuck did he lie are the same questions Yifan had been asking himself for the last few days. Junmyeon rubs his face and says, “No, fuck it. I don’t want to know. You used me. I just keep getting played by you. I was wrong. I still hate you.” He scowls at Yifan, displaying his displeasure loud and clear. Suddenly Yifan no longer feels welcome.

Yifan says, his voice hard, “Don’t worry. I am leaving tonight.” He walks into the small bedroom he used to occupy and starts packing. He throws open drawers and grabs clothes by the handful, not really caring about creases or being gentle or folding. Junmyeon’s words feels like vitriol burning his flesh. But…this is for the best. This way whatever Junmyeon feels for him will be turned to hatred, and then maybe Yifan will stop feeling like absolute shit about all this. He zips his bag and walks back into the kitchen.

He sees Junmyeon perched on the counter. Their gazes collide and Junmyeon points at something beside him, “Your meds.”

Yifan gulps, Junmyeon still fucking cares or cannot stop the way he is engineered to take care of him. Habits. Junmyeon drops his gaze and twists his fingers in his lap. The bag drops from his grip. He wants to grab Junmyeon and press him to his chest and kiss the sadness away (like he said that one night), and he doesn't even know why he wants to do that. He comes closer and he bites his lips when Junmyeon shifts away from him. He takes a painkiller and is about to dry swallow it when Junmyeon pokes his side. Yifan looks down to see a water bottle in Junmyeon’s hands. Yifan takes it. He swallows the pill and says, “Thank you.”

“Hm.”

Yifan looks at Junmyeon and his heart falls to his stomach. He has never seen Junmyeon broken like this. And the sad eyes were making him helpless. And weak. And before he could stop himself he curls his fingers under Junmyeon’s chin and turns his head to look at him. Junmyeon gasps and tries moving but Yifan winds his free arm around Junmyeon’s waist, trapping him. Junmyeon thrashes in his hold, and cries, “I said not to touch me Wu Yifan!”

“Jun—”

“You are a killer! And you are a despicable human being! You lie and pretend and you play with other’s feelings! I hate you and I hate myself even more for telling you everything. Just fucking go!”

Yifan is taken aback at the outburst. He wants to scream back and give reasons as to why he stayed. Because he has never felt cared, he never felt at home, he never knew anyone could like him for what he is and not what he can do for them. But he says nothing. He tells himself Junmyeon’s anger is justified, he doesn’t need clarification from him. It will only complicate things more. He lets Junmyeon go.

Junmyeon jumps down from the counter and walks back, making sure there is a considerable distance between him and Yifan. He looks at the tall, beautiful man and his heart breaks. This is his fault, his own damn fault. He can shout all he wants at Yifan; it won’t change a damn thing.

“Okay,” Yifan sighs, and looks at Junmyeon, “But will you do one last thing for me? Leave this apartment.”

Junmyeon scowls, “What?”

“Kwon Jiyong was a hitman on the personal payroll of someone even more dangerous. And I killed him here. Chances are whoever sent him might target you next out of spite. It’d be better if you left and went somewhere else safer.”

Junmyeon nods his head. Just then they hear voices in the small hallway. Junmyeon looks over to see Chen, Tao and two more people standing at the entrance. Chen waves his hand, “Hi hyung, can we come in?”

“Uh, yeah,” Junmyeon says. He tries to ignore the body bag in Tao’s hand.

Chen points at the tall unidentified man, “This is Hongbin,” and then he points at the slightly shorter man, “And that is Minhyuk.” Both men curtly nod at Junmyeon. "Oh, ge, someone took out the cameras in front of the apartment." They get to work when Yifan says, “In that room.” He jerks his thumb at the direction of the room.

Chen, Hongbin, Tao and Minhyuk get to work leaving Yifan and Junmyeon alone again. After a few minutes Hongbin and Chen exit the room, the body bag swinging between them. Chen sighs, “Gee boss, you did a nasty one. The back of his scalp has become part of the floor.”

Yifan just sighs. Junmyeon frowns, “Chen, you know about…the memories returning?” he doesn’t know how much he should divulge since there is someone new in the room.

But Chen gets it. He says, “That day when you came to Yeoju. You know as well?”

Junmyeon nods his head. Chen briefly glances at Yifan.

Yifan says, “I am leaving with you guys. Tao!” Tao comes running out of the bedroom. Yifan orders, “After you and Minhyuk are done here, you make sure that Junmyeon safely leaves the apartment and accompany him wherever he decides to go.”

“Excuse me?” Junmyeon protests.

“Shut up Junmyeon,” Yifan rolls his eyes, “This is for your own safety. Don’t argue with me please.”

Junmyeon pouts and fumes as he gets Yifan’s hidden message loud and clear: don’t make a scene in front of his subordinates. So this is Kris, the man he didn’t think he would have to meet.

When Chen and Hongbin leave and Tao returns to the bedroom, Yifan says, softly, “Junmyeon? Thank you for everything.” His eyes are no long hard and menacing. There is an undetectable emotion there. As if he had so much to say but he didn’t know how to say them.

Junmyeon was glaring at him, but his gaze softens a little. He murmurs, “You are welcome.”

Yifan stares at Junmyeon for a heartbeat. He wants to hold Junmyeon one last time, memorise every curve and plane, and imprint it in his mind. But he knows that is a bad idea.

With that Wu Yifan turns around and walks out of Kim Junmyeon’s life.

 

Junmyeon did try to wheedle out of Huang Zitao’s Protective Services but to no avail (“When ge asks me to do something, I do that no matter what.” Junmyeon wanted to ask if ‘ge’ told him to wear a ballet tutu and perform in the middle of a street in full glitter makeup, would he do it? But Tao looks like a killer, so he didn’t risk such risqué questions) after he and Minhyuk are finished with the task of cleaning the blood off his bedroom floor. Junmyeon had watched them work, and the forensic scientist in him was truly impressed with their work.

So now Tao drives him to Seokjin’s place. It is somewhere after midnight. He already had sent his cousin a text. He also took Suho with him, who peers at Tao with curiosity. When they reach Butterfly, Junmyeon tries stopping Tao from carrying his huge duffle bag upstairs but again fails. So Junmyeon follows Tao with Suho in his arms.

Tao even rings the doorbell. Seokjin opens the door, “Really Kim—” he realises that the tall man with the slanted eyes and bleached hair and looking like he stepped off a fashion runway is not his cousin, “Um you aren’t Junmyeon.”

“T-tao, I accompanied Junmyeon-sshi here. I will take my leave now,” Tao says, blushing a little because never has he seen a man this gorgeous and he thought he was pretty straight too. But goddamnit this man’s lips are shaped like a flower petal.

Junmyeon looks on with amusement at the subtle shifts in Tao’s facial expressions. He knows very well the effect Kim Seokjin sometimes has over people, gender and sexual orientation notwithstanding. He clears his throat, “Thank you Tao-sshi. I think you can go now. You can tell your boss I have reached Seokjin’s place safely.”

Tao bows at Seokjin and then at Junmyeon and promptly scampers. Seokjin starts guffawing, “He is as straight as an arrow isn’t he? They always look like deer-caught-in-headlights surprised. Well I am too beautiful.” He touches his cheek and looks into space, pretending to be in his own television beauty commercial.

“Kim Seokjin, don’t you dare make any more men question their orientation!” Junmyeon grins.

“Yeah, yeah come in. I made hot chocolate,” Seokjin shifts to let Junmyeon pass through.

Junmyeon walks in and gratitude and adoration for hi stupid cousin crashes like a wave inside him. This is what he loved about Seokjin, no matter how much of a gossiping ahjumma he was, he never poked Junmyeon when the latter would be upset; instead Seokjin would wait for Junmyeon to open up. So the tears fall freely.

Seokjin hears Junmyeon sniffing and throws an arm around Junmyeon’s shoulder, “Tell me whenever you are ready. Are you hungry? I think I have enough ingredients for a bibimbap.”

Junmyeon nods his head. He wipes his tears and lets his cousin guide him to the kitchen cum dining space.

Junmyeon takes a seat and watches mutely as Seokjin chops radishes, cucumbers, carrots and picks out some sautéed tofu and soy bean sprouts. Then Seokjin fries an egg and places everything over a bowl of hot rice. “I don’t have any beef right now, will chicken do?” Seokjin asks.

“Yeah,” Junmyeon says and sips his hot chocolate.

While Seokjin is fiddling with microwave controls to heat up chicken, Junmyeon says, “Do you remember me talking about a Chinese guy who used to bully me during my freshman year?”

“Oh yeah,” Seokjin says as he measures out some sesame oil and drizzles over the vegetables. He moves on to the red chilli paste, “He gave you major grief. I remember asking you about him when I entered your high school and you were a sophomore by then. You refused to talk about him. Never even got his name. But suddenly why are you talking about him now?”

“His name was Wu Yifan.”

Seokjin gasps and nearly drops the container of red chilli paste. He says, “God damn it Junmyeon, what have you gotten yourself into?”

Chapter Text

Junmyeon breaks the egg yolk and mixes the contents of the bowl together. Seokjin sits opposite him, patiently waiting for him to talk. Junmyeon is deciding on how much to say and how much to not say. He eats a spoonful of rice and chews slowly. His phone beeps. He sees it is a message from Jongdae. He reads it and sighs in relief.

“I used to have a crush on him,” Junmyeon says.

“I figured that bit out. The chronology of you deciding on your gayness and Wu Yifan in your school matches. So Yifan was the catalyst?” Seokjin says. “Also Stockholm Syndrome much? Who crushes after his own bully?”

Junmyeon frowns, “I had a crush on him before he started bullying me.” Sometimes he forgets his asshole of a cousin is actually pretty smart. “Yeah. So when I saw him again, that day in the hospital, I couldn’t stop myself from caring.”

“That is your problem, you care too much.”

“So that brings us to today. There are some things I didn’t tell you that has happened while Yifan was with me.”

Seokjin narrows his eyes, “Spill.”

“Yifan was pushed. Someone wanted him dead. Whoever failed to kill him sent two more assassins.”

Seokjin gasps, “What? Then what?”

“Yifan killed one today,” Junmyeon leans back and sighs, “And another one died at my hands a few days ago.”

Seokjin gapes. He licks his lips and looks down at the table. This is too much to process. He stares at Junmyeon and notices the haunted look in his eyes. Junmyeon continues, “And Yifan has his memories back. So today, when I saw him killing the hired gun with no hesitation, I felt terrified. I know nothing about the kind of man Yifan is now. I just know he is dangerous and he had no hint of mercy in him when he shot the guy today.”

The worst part of it all was Junmyeon isn’t lying as he said all that to Seokjin. Yifan is a dangerous man and he did a tactical error of getting involved. He wishes he could redo it all. But deep down he knows he doesn’t want to exchange those few days of gummy smiles, heated kisses and domesticity for anything. Yifan made him happy no matter what. It felt nice to go back to a home that wasn’t empty. It felt nice to take care of someone. It felt nice when Yifan said he liked him. And he hates himself for that. Hates how happy he was. Hates that he is relieved that Yifan reached wherever he was supposed to reach safely. Hate how he still cares. He wishes he couldn’t care at all.

"So, what about the police?" Seokjin asks.

Junmyeon shakes his head, "No, we can't. This is a whole lot complicated."

"As I said, what have you gotten yourself into?"

"The fuck do I know. But…” Junmyeon says and bites his lips.

“But you still care,” Seokjin sighs and leans forward, taking Junmyeon’s hands in his.

“And I wish I didn’t.”

 

Wu Yifan has decided to stay with Jongdae for the meantime. He doesn’t want to risk going to his apartment yet.

Jongdae unlocks his studio apartment and waves Yifan in, “Welcome to my humble abode!”

Yifan looks around the open space. It isn’t surprising for him to see less furniture and more technical equipment and a shrine dedicated to Star Trek, Bleach and Harry Potter. He walks in and sits down on the couch with a grimace. Jongdae asks, “Does it hurt?”

“Slightly,” Yifan says.

“Ge?”

Yifan turns to look at him, “Yeah?”

“Did you and Junmyeon hyung have a fight?”

Yifan scowls. His expression is enough to tell Jongdae that he is not going to talk about it. So Jongdae smiles and puts his hands up in surrender, “Forget I said anything! I texted Lu-ge, he replied this time. He is coming here. Do you want some soba noodles, ‘cause I suddenly feel very hungry!”

Yifan grunts in response as Jongdae escapes to the kitchen. He searches for the Japanese takeout menu in his kitchen when he sighs and thinks that Bitchface Dragon King is back. He liked it when the Dragon smiled. At least he didn’t look like he could gut Jongdae in a blink of an eye—if he wanted to that is.

He dials the restaurant and gives his orders. Then as he is about to return to the kitchen, he thinks about sending a quick text to Junmyeon. Just to check in. Even though Jongdae knows this is how far involvement with Junmyeon should extend to, yet Jongdae feels oddly obligated.

The bell rings suddenly. Jongdae exits the kitchen and opens the door. It is Luhan, and he looks like hell ran him over. There are heavy bags and dark circles under his eyes. His usually styled hair looked un-kept. He looks older than his twenty-six years of age. Jongdae whistles, “You okay Lu-ge?”

Luhan shakes his head, “Nope. Someone tried to kill me two days ago. I have been away from Seoul.” He hates how he had to make up a story. He desperately wishes that they believe him. He coughs, “I got your messages. I am sorry I couldn’t do anything.” A stray tear falls down anyway, and he isn’t sure if he is crying for Yixing or for himself.

Jongdae pats his shoulders, “It is all right. Looks like someone wants you two dead real bad.”

“It is Kang Daesung,” Yifan says.

Luhan finally notices his presence and smiles, “Welcome back boss.” He schools his expression next into disbelief and anger, “Daesung? How do you know? Are you sure?”

“Yes. Kwon Jiyong came to kill me today.”

“Jiyong?” Luhan gasps.

“He was the one to push me off that building as well.”

“What?” Jongdae says, this bit is news to him.

Luhan wants to claw his face off. He hates how he has to keep up with this charade. He says, “Then was it Jiyong who killed Yixing too?”

“Maybe.”

“But,” Jongdae says, “Yixing-ge was stabbed, and everyone knows Jiyong’s favourite weapon is the gun and a silencer. Word on the street was that he might have actually married his Magnum.”

Yifan frowns as Luhan starts sweating despite chuckling at Jongdae’s attempts at humour. Yifan says, “Yeah. I don’t see Jiyong killing anyone with a knife.” He looks at Luhan, “Did Jiyong come after you?”

“No. Some kid,” Luhan says, “I hit him and ran. I was hiding in Gurim.”

“Yifan-ge killed Jiyong by the way,” Jongdae says.

“He attacked you at Junmyeon’s place?” Luhan asks.

Junmyeon’s mention seems to darken Yifan’s face more. Luhan and Jongdae share a look. Jongdae just shrugs as an explanation. Yifan says, “Yeah.”

“Where is the body?”

“Somewhere where Daesung can see it.”

Luhan looks at Jongdae again who shrugs, again. Luhan narrows his eyes. Suddenly he remembers something, “Oh hey, there is some news.”

“What?” Yifan asks.

“Woo Jiho and his brother, Mino, are dead. They were found shot and slashed, respectively, in Blockbuster, yesterday morning.”

Yifan sits up straight and frowns, “What?”

“Yeah,” Luhan puts his hands in his pocket, “I don’t know much but I am pretty sure Daesung’s up to something.”

“Maybe Soojung-sshi can help?” Jongdae asks.

“Soojung?” Yixing’s girlfriend? Luhan’s blood runs cold at the mention of that name.

“She is Kang’s secretary and Yixing-ge’s formerly secret girlfriend, and I am pretty sure she thinks that Daesung had to do something with Yixing-ge’s death as well. She might be willing to help us.”

Yifan nods. The bell rings again. Jongdae claps, “Food! Lu-ge you will eat with us right?”

Luhan wants to say no. He wants to escape like the coward he is but he knows he cannot. So he nods his head and smiles. He can feel the proverbial noose winding tighter around him.

After Jongdae has set the food on the small coffee table, Yifan says, “I am going after Kang Daesung.”

Luhan and Jongdae stop eating and gape at him. Yifan looks at their faces and puts down his bowl, “I know you all know that I am not particularly fond of Daesung. But he has never outright declared war like this. It is time I retaliate.”

Luhan and Jongdae share a terrified look, but Jongdae says, “I am with you then hyung.”

Yifan stares pointedly at Luhan who hasn’t said anything. Luhan puts down his bowl and sighs, “Well a three-man suicide team sounds better than a two-man suicide team.” He wants to scream at Yifan.

“Four-man,” a voice says at the entrance. They all whip their heads to look at Tao. No one heard him coming in. Jongdae says, “Dude, you are scary. How and when did you arrive?”

“No, I am a ninja, you noob,” Tao says as he jingles a bunch of keys, “I live here too, remember?”

Yifan looks at his rag-tag team of a hacker, ex-assasin and ex-drug dealer about to take down South Korea’s most wanted crime syndicate. This is going to be fun. Not.

 

Kang Daesung usually stays till late in his office, leaving after almost everyone has left. It is somewhere after one in the morning. He puts on his coat and picks up his phone. He reminds himself to talk to Zelo regarding the Woos’ deaths. Something tells him Zelo had to do something with it.

He takes his private lift down to his private parking space. The elevator door opens and he walks over to his Rolls Royce. He had dismissed his driver today. As he gets closer to his car, he notices something black and long placed on the hood of his car. He walks faster and realises it is a body bag. He halts in his steps and stares unblinkingly.

He carefully closes in and pokes the bag. There is a body in it. He slowly unzips the bag and the head pokes out, he gasps and moves a few steps back.

Kwon Jiyong’s bloody head has shaken him. His best marksman is dead. He can guess who could do this, there is only man capable. He spots a paper tucked in Jiyong’s collar. He pulls it out. It is a small white card with the words “With Regards. K.” scrawled on it.

He crumples the card in his hands. So Yifan knows. And he is back in action. Fine then, Daesung isn’t afraid to take him on. In fact, he has waited for this confrontation for years.

If Yifan wants war, he will give him war.

 

Yifan has been here, in Jongdae’s apartment for the last two days as the latter and Zitao investigate Yixing’s death. It is afternoon now and Yifan just woke up from a nap. Or rather his dream woke him up.

He pushes the bedsheet in the washing machine, completely appalled that he came all over Jongdae’s bedsheets. Thank goodness the apartment was empty. He wouldn’t have been able to explain himself.

He starts the machine and palms his face. What is he? A teenager with no control over his hormones?

He had a wet dream of all things.

A fucking wet dream about Junmyeon of all people.

The washing machine was in the bathroom, so Yifan sits down on the toilet seat. He rubs his face as the vivid, too vivid, images of his dream come into focus in his mind.

He was back in Junmyeon’s apartment, on his bed when Junmyeon enters the room, dressed in nothing but a big t-shirt that made Yifan’s mouth water as he takes in the bare, milky white thighs, calves, that called out to Yifan to leave marks on.

Junmyeon laughs at Yifan and comes closer. He sits on Yifan’s lap. Yifan realises Junmyeon has no underwear on. That is enough to get Yifan a little hard. Junmyeon grinds down a little and Yifan growls. Yifan leans forward and kisses Junmyeon hard, with fire and passion and it has Junmyeon squirming more into his lap. Yifan grabs Junmyeon’s bare bottom and holds him in place.

Yifan feels lightheaded, so he breaks the kiss and Junmyeon lips become the cynosure of his attention. He rubs his thumb over Junmyeon’s lower lip. A small pink tongue darts out and licks the pad of Yifan’s thumb. A keen ripple of desire flows down his spine. Junmyeon drops his gaze and gingerly touches the bulge in Yifan’s pants. He says, as Yifan gasps, “Do you think about my lips around your cock?”

Yifan nods, no longer able to use words because Junmyeon had put his hand down his pants. Junmyeon says, “Do you think about fucking me?” Slender fingers tug at his rapidly hardening length.

Yifan gulps at the way Junmyeon looks at him. So unashamed and lustful, that Yifan feels his throat getting dry. Junmyeon gets up from Yifan’s lap when the latter nods in positive to Junmyeon’s question, takes off his t-shirt and lies down beside him, on his stomach. Yifan stares at him in askance when Junmyeon says, huskily, “So what are you waiting for?”

Yifan runs a hand over Junmyeon’s back, following the natural curve of his spine and rests his hand on one cheek. He squeezes it. It is firm and soft and fits perfectly in his grip. He rises on his knees and hovers over Junmyeon. He leans forward and kisses Junmyeon’s shoulder, then lower and lower he trails kisses as he goes. He pushes one finger through the tight ring of muscles and realises Junmyeon came prepared.

Junmyeon whimpers as Yifan delves knuckle deep, his fingers finding easy purchase due to the lubricant, “I came prepared.”

“Good,” Yifan whispers.

“Please, Yifan,” Junmyeon cries when Yifan pushes two more digits in and abuses his prostate.

“Please what?” Yifan smirks.

“Please fuck me.”

Yifan does as he is told as he takes off his pants and doesn’t waste any more time. He picks Junmyeon by his waist and says, “On your knees.”

Junmyeon gets on his knees and places his palms on the bed. Yifan thrusts in one swift motion and nearly sobs at the tight heat around his cock. Junmyeon groans.

Yifan grabs Junmyeon’s hips as he re-enters him again. He says, “So you touch yourself thinking about me?”

“Ye-es,” Junmyeon moans as Yifan thrusts in deeper and hits him right where he wants.

The room is filled with the obscene sounds of skin slapping against skin as Yifan wrecks Junmyeon underneath him with hard, smooth strokes and as Junmyeon wrecks him back by clenching and unclenching around him; Junmyeon’s moans and Yifan’s primal groans accompanies it all.

Yifan wraps his hand around Junmyeon’s throbbing length and pumps him. Junmyeon sobs, “God, Yifan, so good.”

“You like this?” Yifan bites down on Junmyeon’s shoulder.

“Y-yes!”

Yifan presses hard on the head and Junmyeon spills his release all over Yifan’s hand and on the bed. Yifan keeps up with the thrust but he can feel his rhythm getting erratic, he is close.

That is when he woke up to wetness in his pants. At first he was a bit disoriented and then he realised that a) it was a dream and b) it his cum all over his pants and the bed. Terrific.

So now he groans in tune with the mechanical whirring of the machine. He promised to himself he won’t think of Junmyeon. He isn’t thinking about him, no. He didn’t wonder for the last two days if Junmyeon was safe and okay. He didn’t feel disappointed when he woke up yesterday morning without the familiar smile. He didn’t miss Junmyeon’s cooking. He didn’t think about Junmyeon’s sinful lips wrapped around his cock. Especially didn’t think about that last one.

Nope, he did no such thing for the last two days. He doesn’t care. He absolutely doesn’t care.

He imagines the washing machine whir, the mechanical sound singing “Liar, liar, liar.”

 

Junmyeon didn’t want to come into work today. But he thinks he has taken enough days off. But one look at his face, his junior, Jaebum says, “Um? Hyung, are you okay?”

Junmyeon looks at him over the microscope, “Yeah.”

“You look tired,” Jaebum shakes his head.

“I couldn’t sleep much last night,” Junmyeon smiles, and his chapped lips complain.

“Do you want some coffee then? I was about to get some.”

“Nah, it’s okay,” Junmyeon glances down at his watch, “I leave in a few minutes. My aunt’s coming to visit today.”

Jaebum nods and smiles, and gets going. Junmyeon sighs. He should have just stayed home, made a burrito out of blankets and watched crappy daytime TV as he ate some unnecessary junk food. Jaebum was the sixth person to ask him if he was tired. Even Angry Young Man Jung Taekwoon asked him about his wellbeing (Junmyeon nearly fell off his chair). He sighs again and looks at his watch. He should get going as well.

Thirty minutes later he enters Seokjin’s apartment and the smell of sundubu jjigae greets him and his mouth instantly waters. His aunt, Kim Kyung-ri, is here. He spots her peering over the stove. He says, “Auntie!”

The tall, slim, still good-looking woman turns around and gives her nephew a big smile. She opens her arms and says, “Come here.”

Junmyeon walks into her embrace. Kyung-ri pats his head affectionately, “Seems like you don’t love your auntie anymore. No calls, no texts.”

Guilt slams hard in his chest as he pulls back and pouts, “I have been busy auntie.”

“Yeah, yeah, I know,” she pinches his cheek and returns to the pot bubbling on the stove.

Junmyeon sits down at the dining table and says, “How have you been? Did the florist turn out to be any good?”

Kyung-ri guffaws, “Mr Florist turned out to be nice company. I may go for a second date.” Kyung-ri had been widowed for nearly fifteen years now. She had recently returned to the dating scene (she was still in her mid-forties) on the insistence and encouragement of her son and nephew.

“Fighting Kim Kyung-ri!”

She turns around and waves the spoon at him, “Don’t tease your aunt! What about you?”

“Me?” Junmyeon’s smile drops, and before he could catch himself from thinking about Yifan, his chest starts hurting.

Kyung-ri notices the change of expression on her nephew’s face. She lowers the heat on the stove and sits down opposite him. She holds his hands in hers and says, “Uh oh, did someone have their heart broken?”

Junmyeon shakes his head and laughs, “What? No, no!”

“Yeah, now don’t lie to your aunt! What happened?”

Junmyeon blinks at her, thinking if he should tell her or not. But the pointed way she was staring at him, he knew he cannot escape. He sighs, “I don’t know. There was never anything to begin with. We weren’t together in the conventional sense. And now he is gone, and I don’t know anymore. I don’t know why I am so hurt. I knew it was nothing, and it would end, yet I am hurting. I feel stupid.”

Kyung-ri nods and falls into deep thought. After a pregnant pause she asks, “This guy, did he make you happy?”

“Yeah,” he whispers, “He did.”

“If you could have it all again, would you do it?”

Junmyeon doesn’t even think, “Yes.”

“Myeonie? Did you fall in love with him?”

He gasps and shakes his head, “No, auntie, I didn’t know him for that long!”

“Oh, come on. Love doesn’t come with a time limit. You could fall in love in a day or it could take you ten years. I fell for your uncle when I was only seventeen, and it took me less than a week to decide that he was the one. And we were happy. God rest his soul in peace…What matters is how you feel. So?”

He shakes his head. No, no he isn’t in love with someone like Wu Yifan. That just cannot be.

 

Later that night, Junmyeon is lying on his couch, thinking about his conversation with his aunt. He couldn’t sleep for the longest time. He couldn’t stop thinking. He checks his watch. It was two in the morning. He rubs his face. He really needs to sleep. He plans to go to work tomorrow, or today. Whatever.

He closes his eyes and starts counting sheep. It works because the next time he opens his eyes it is morning and Seokjin jiggles a set of car keys in front of his face. Seokjin asks, “I didn’t know you had a Porsche. Did you steal it?”

At first he feels like kicking Seokjin for disrupting his sleep. Next, Seokjin’s words filters through the fog in his brain. He sits up straight and snatches the keys from Seokjin. He asks, “Where did you find this?”

“In your black trench-coat. I was putting your clothes in the closet when this fell out. So where is the sugar daddy you have been hiding?”

“It is Yifan’s.”

Seokjin says nothing and walks away. However Junmyeon doesn’t miss the “Of course that motherfucker has a Porsche” that Seokjin hisses under his breath. Junmyeon yawns and gets ready for work.

An hour later he is in his office, writing reports.

Another hour or two later, Junmyeon asks for an early lunch and leaves his office. He should return the keys after all. He can go over to Yifan’s apartment in Gangnam and leave the keys there. It is not like he cares; he is just doing what is right. Yes.

Chapter Text

Junmyeon idles in the parking lot of Omicron Residency. This woman in her shiny plum Jaguar and million dollar leather bag gave him and his modest car the stink-eye. After, what felt like a century (fifteen minutes actually), Junmyeon gets down from his car and gets into the lift. Chances are he is really lucky, and Yifan isn’t home. Even if he is, what does he care?

He gets down at the sixteenth floor and takes a deep, deep breath. He can fucking do this.

His steps are soft and silent as he walks down the carpeted hall towards unit 1607. He still had the keys, so he unlocks the door and walks in. His breath staggers. The apartment in morning light is stunning. The emptiness is still staggering but the sunlight warms the space up a little.

He puts the car keys on the shoe rack by the door. He notices that the master bedroom door is ajar. He cautiously walks in and carefully peeps in. The room is empty. But what catches his eyes is the painting. The secret compartment is open, and it is empty. All the thirty-five varieties of assault weapons were gone. So Yifan was here. Or maybe he sent someone. He should just leave.

He turns around and is about to leave when a voice behind him exclaims, “Junmyeon?”

 

Yifan puts all his collection of knives and guns in his duffle bag. He doesn’t want to leave them here, unguarded. He enters the walk-in closet through the bathroom to pick up some clothes. He is stuffing clothes into another bag when his sharp ears pick up sounds of footsteps in his bedroom. He pulls out his Beretta from the duffle bag and walks out of the bathroom.

His breath catches when he recognises that back. He would recognise that profile anywhere. He puts away his gun and says, “Junmyeon?”

Junmyeon is dressed in his pale greyish-pink full-sleeved t-shirt that only seemed to highlight his skin tone more. He whips his head around and gasps, “Oh, I thought no one was here!”

“What,” Yifan tries to ignore the tired look on Junmyeon’s face, “Are you doing here?”

Junmyeon gulps. Yifan is wearing all black and his mouth shouldn’t go dry at that but it is. But he finds his voice (and his mind), “Your car keys, they were with me.”

“Oh.”

Junmyeon finally notices the bags in Yifan’s hands. He looks back at Yifan and blushes when he sees Yifan staring at him. He clears his throat, “H-how are you? Is your leg okay?” He clasps his hands and starts twisting his fingers.

Yifan’s heart thumps erratically at the way Junmyeon asked about him. He wants to scream why do you care? But he doesn’t. He thinks that he shouldn’t sway. That he shouldn’t give in and tell Junmyeon that he wasn’t functioning very well without him. That he has questionable dreams about Junmyeon and it reduces him to an embarrassed teenager. Instead he channels his Kris persona, and says in his ‘street’ voice, “You shouldn’t be here.”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen at the tone of voice. He has never heard this tone. It is rough and has an undercurrent of danger and authority. Like he expects people to listen when he uses that voice. He says, “I, just—”

“Came to see if I am alive and okay without you? I don’t need you now.” Yifan drops the bags on his bed and walks closer to Junmyeon. “Or do you miss my dick down your throat?” He hates the hurt and shock that flashes on Junmyeon’s face, and how it loses colour. He also tries to not look too much at those lips and think too much about that dream he had yesterday.

“Forget about me Kim Junmyeon. I don’t need you anymore. You are just an ordinary dick-chaser,” Yifan says as his last parting shot as he walks out of his room and into the kitchen.

The words burn on his tongue. He can taste the toxicity as he spits them out to Junmyeon, who doesn’t deserve them. And he is achingly aware of that. But the guy Junmyeon likes is not him. This is him—unattached, crass and a truly horrible person. Kim Junmyeon needs to be reminded of that.

He did expect Junmyeon to come after him as he hears brisk footsteps behind him. Junmyeon stands behind him and gripping his elbow hard, turns him around.

Smack.

Yifan saw Junmyeon raising his hand. He felt the hit as Junmyeon’s palm connected to his cheek. And gosh, it stings. His head turns sideways due to the impact. Who knew Kim Junmyeon could hit so hard?

He looks at Junmyeon and touches his cheek. He never thought he will ever see Junmyeon like that—shaking in fury, eyes wide and panting hard. Long story short, Junmyeon is mad and Yifan has never thought Junmyeon could even get mad.

“You, how dare you,” Junmyeon says, his voice shaking, “How dare you…”

“How dare I? How dare you?” Yifan grabs Junmyeon’s wrist and turns him around, twisting his arm behind him. Junmyeon doesn’t protest even though Yifan sees him biting his lips. He brings his lips closer to Junmyeon’s ears and growls, “Do you know who you hit?”

“As if I care about that,” Junmyeon says, struggling to free himself from Yifan’s grip. Yifan grabs his other wrist as well, completely trapping him. He absolutely doesn’t care. He doesn’t care how Yifan’s warm breath send shudders up and down his spine.

“I could kill you right now,” Yifan says. After days of not being near Junmyeon, the small body pressed against him, struggling, is making him question himself at the way his own body was reacting. God, Junmyeon smells good, he thinks. Junmyeon stops struggling when he realises he is no match for Yifan’s strength. His head drops on his chest, exposing his fair neck. Yifan stares at it, in befuddled awe. Junmyeon is so close. Too close. The smart part of him wants to push Junmyeon away, but the other, unacknowledged emotional and irrational, part wants to kiss that neck.

Junmyeon says, “Go ahead then. You had plenty of opportunities to kill me. I don’t expect anything less from you. Wu Yifan is ruthless and dangerous, isn’t he?” His voice loses fight at the ending.

Fuck it, Yifan brushes his lips against Junmyeon’s nape, despite the smarter side of him telling him not to. He doesn’t miss how Junmyeon shivers. He smirks, “Right, Wu Yifan doesn’t miss, and he definitely doesn’t appreciate being slapped by people like you.”

“People like me?” Junmyeon perks up. He tries to wrench himself out again.

“Weak people like you.”

Junmyeon has had enough. He steps down on Yifan’s foot (on the uninjured leg) hard. Yifan’s yelp has him feeling a tiny bit of satisfaction. The grip around his hands loosens. But before he can completely free himself, Yifan turns him around and pushes him backward, his butt coming into contact with the kitchen counter.

Yifan looks enraged, and it is scary and now Junmyeon is questioning his life choices. Yifan says, “I am going to make you regret this.”

With that, he kisses Junmyeon. But there is nothing tender about it. His lips are harsh and demanding. He bites down on Junmyeon’s lower lip, trying to make Junmyeon respond.

Junmyeon responds, by using all his strength and pushing Yifan away. He pants, “What do you think you are doing?”

Yifan just stares. Junmyeon won’t lie. He did want to kiss Yifan, and touch him again. But not like this. Strangely, Yifan mirrors the conflict Junmyeon feels in his eyes.

“Junmyeon,” Yifan leans forward as Junmyeon leans backward, “Shut up.” He has to feel and taste those lips again. He realises now how much he had missed it.

Junmyeon couldn’t lean any backwards, so Yifan kisses him again. This time, he puts his hands on Junmyeon’s neck and tilts his head. Junmyeon wants to stop, he wants to push Yifan away. He clutches onto Yifan’s shirt, bunching the fabric in his fists. He doesn’t push Yifan away, instead steadies himself. And kisses Yifan back against his better judgement. He ached for this. He missed this.

Yifan missed those lips. Soft, small and sinful. He nips at Junmyeon’s lower lip, demanding to deepen the kiss. Junmyeon obeys and Yifan doesn’t waste any time to rub his tongue against Junmyeon’s who shivers slightly and moans. God, he missed the sounds, the soft moans and the sweet mewls.

But right now, Yifan wants more.

He turns his attention to Junmyeon’s jaw and neck, kissing and biting that skin that he had dreamed of tasting again. Junmyeon smells like coffee and oranges and chocolates and he isn’t sure how that works on Junmyeon but he likes it. He sucks on a bite he made near the collarbones as he hears Junmyeon breathing hard above him.

Too much, this is all too much. Junmyeon thinks he can stop now, push Yifan away but he doesn’t find it in himself to do so. His body aches for Yifan and he shuts down all rational thoughts. He feels like he will disintegrate from all that he is feeling right now. There is cold marble under him and hot touches all over him as Yifan slips his hand under his t-shirt. Yifan’s mouth on his neck is making breathing hard. Like how the sane part of him is warning him and the stupid part of him wants more. He wants Yifan to touch him more. As if reading his mind, Yifan tugs at the hem of his t-shirt. Junmyeon doesn’t resist when Yifan pulls it off and chucks it somewhere behind him.

Yifan halts for a while. He takes a brief moment to admire the man in front of him. Junmyeon’s chest is heaving, trying to breath normally. His pale skin is flushed and Yifan likes the way the red marks he made blooms against the flawless skin. The soft auburn hair is messed up and his pupils are ridiculously dilated. Beautiful. He could look at Junmyeon forever. He wants Junmyeon so bad right now, that he really cannot care of the repercussions of what he has decided to do.

Junmyeon gulps. He doesn’t understand why Yifan is staring at him like that. But then Yifan stares straight at him, and he reels at the intensity of the gaze. There is lust, unabashed wanton desire in those eyes. A shiver runs down Junmyeon’s spine. He is half scared and half ridiculously turned on.

Yifan kisses Junmyeon again as he runs his hands all over Junmyeon’s chest. His hands go lower and lower, till it rests just above the button on Junmyeon’s denims, just above the obvious bulge in his pants. Yifan casually strokes it over the fabric making Junmyeon shudder. The zip is pushed down and Yifan slips his hands in Junmyeon’s underwear which has him groaning into the kiss.

Suddenly, Yifan turns Junmyeon around. Yifan rakes his fingernail over a nipple as he whispers huskily, “This is your punishment for hitting me. No one steps on my shoes and gets away with it.” Junmyeon throws his head back and squeezes his eyes shut. He bites down on his lips to stop himself from moaning.

Yifan’s husky voice in his ear also has Junmyeon shivering slightly, both in fear and anticipation. Yifan bites down on his shoulder and his large hands push Junmyeon’s pants down. Junmyeon shimmies out of his pants and when he does so, his rear bumps against Yifan’s crotch. Junmyeon feels victorious at the little groan Yifan gives when he brushes against the latter’s erection.

Yifan licks the edge of Junmyeon’s ear and pushing two fingers inside Junmyeon’s mouth, says, “Suck.”

Junmyeon clamps his mouth over the long, slender fingers and another shiver runs down his back. He gets what Yifan is planning to do and he is scared a little. Not that he hasn’t tried rough sex, it is just, this is Yifan and he had wanted and waited for this. He had wanted those hands on him, in him, everywhere. The crazy, irrational part in him is shaking in excited anticipation.

Yifan wants to see, so he turns Junmyeon around again and pushes him up the counter. The sight of a naked, flushed, turned on Junmyeon sucking on his fingers like they were something desirable, like a fucking lollipop or something, made Yifan slightly impatient and impossibly hard. Yifan says, “You really want my fingers inside you, don’t you?”

Junmyeon removes his mouth with an obscene pop and a string of saliva connects his lips to Yifan’s fingers. He narrows his eyes and says, “Shut up.” A delicious coil of desire wraps around him as he waits, riling Yifan up more, he waits.

Yifan leans forward and flattens his tongue over Junmyeon’s pecs. He doesn’t give any prior warning as he nudges in one finger inside Junmyeon.

The burn is obvious and Junmyeon hisses. Okay, he knew this was going to happen. He needs to relax. But before he can command his muscles to do so, Yifan pushes in knuckle deep. Junmyeon throws his head back and groans in pain. But he doesn’t want Yifan to stop.

Yifan tries distracting Junmyeon by wrapping his free hand around Junmyeon’s cock. It works, as Junmyeon barely starts to relax his muscles around the finger when Yifan pushes in another.

Junmyeon’s face twists and he inhales shakily. He tries to get used to it. Yifan can see it, so he tries to not hurt Junmyeon either. He uses his other hand to loosely pump Junmyeon’s cock. His own member aches and he wishes he could free it, but he wants Junmyeon to be ready. Just because he wants to bury himself in Junmyeon, doesn’t mean he wants to gain his pleasure by hurting Junmyeon. He owes Junmyeon that much. 

No…He swallows the words he wants to say to Junmyeon. He is not the Yifan Junmyeon wants. This is not the Yifan Junmyeon needs. This Yifan just wants to fuck Junmyeon hard without caring about the aftermath. And Junmyeon has to understand that. Yet he holds on.

When he feels Junmyeon relaxing, he moves his fingers and scissors them. Junmyeon digs his nails on Yifan’s shoulder when Yifan’s fingers find his sweet spot and he moans.

Yifan wants to hear more, so he keeps pushing the pads of his fingers against Junmyeon’s prostate. His own cock throbs at the sounds and expressions Junmyeon makes. He is losing his grip on his patience. He removes his other hand from Junmyeon’s cock and unzips his pants.

Junmyeon hears the sound of a zip ripping open and he braces himself. He might have been halfway gone, what with those sinful fingers both inside him and around him, but he knows the real thing won’t be pleasant at all. Yet, he wants it. He wants this physical, carnal connection with Yifan.

Yifan slicks his cock up with spit and notices the lust-ridden way Junmyeon stared at him as he strokes his own member. He pulls Junmyeon’s legs up, the action making the latter fall back a little and splaying his palms on the surface for support. He brushes the tip slightly against Junmyeon’s hole and says, “Impatient?”

Before Junmyeon could retort, Yifan, leaning forward, pushes his length in, to the hilt.

Junmyeon doesn’t know where to begin with to describe the pain he feels. He closes his eyes and bumps his head against Yifan’s chest. He breathes hard and tries to relax his muscles and accommodate Yifan.

Something inside Yifan tugs as he sees the way Junmyeon is curved at an awkward angle into his chest. If his cock wasn’t so hard and aching, he would have pulled out now. He had started this wanting to show Junmyeon that he wasn’t what Junmyeon had seen him be. But now, he is having second thoughts.

The stretch is too much and there are tears at the corner of his eyes, yet Junmyeon is surprised that Yifan isn’t moving as well. Instead he runs his fingers through Junmyeon’s hair, then down his spine. Yifan is almost…tender and gentle with him right now. He is not a fool. He knows Yifan wanted to be rough with him, show him who is boss. But his actions right now don’t make any sense to Junmyeon. And yes, the stretch is hurting, yet he is starting to letting himself feel the sensation of being filled like this, the blazing need he feels as Yifan’s cock nestles close to his prostate, barely touching it.

Yifan opens his mouth to say something, anything, when Junmyeon tilts his head up and drags Yifan’s neck down to kiss him. Yifan gets Junmyeon’s silent plea. He puts Junmyeon flat down on the counter and arches over him. This position has Yifan sliding a little out of Junmyeon who groans into the kiss and tugs painfully at Yifan’s hair.

Yifan pulls back from the kiss and thrusts back in. Junmyeon shuts his eyes tighter and moans, if in pain or pleasure, he doesn’t know yet.

A slow, yet steady pace is picked as Yifan changes the tempo of his thrusts, now making Junmyeon moan in pleasure mostly. But it isn’t enough. Junmyeon cries out, “God, Yifan, please.”

Yifan huffs. He has been standing too long. His leg hurts. But, Junmyeon’s turned on, lusty voice is a thing of wonder and he knows what Junmyeon wants. So he pulls out and flips Junmyeon over, his chest resting on the cool surface of the counter.

Junmyeon was slightly upset when Yifan pulled out. But he forgot all about that when Yifan flipped him over like that and the sudden coolness against his chest has him hissing. Then he feels Yifan kneading the flesh on his butt. His entire body shivers, wanting to be filled again, the emptiness nearly makes him sob.

Yifan had envisioned Junmyeon like this, bent over, and desperate. And his dreams were coming true. What more could he ask for? So he thrusts in hard, and the long, drawn-out moan he hears is what he wanted to hear.

Yifan changes the pace, it is hard and fast now and Junmyeon cannot find leverage on the smooth surface, he wants to grab on to something, as each thrust had him going backwards and then forwards, his chest sliding against the cool marble. Yifan is hitting the bulls eye at each thrust, making Junmyeon see stars and reducing him to a sweaty, moaning mess. He can hear the low, guttural, but sometimes primal way Yifan groans and moans over him. His blood boils and his skin sizzles. He can feel his release getting closer. But his own cock throbs due to inattention. He winds a hand down and tries to jerk himself off when a large hand slaps it away. Yifan growls, his lips brushing Junmyeon’s shoulder, “No. You come when I say so.”

Junmyeon shudders a little as Yifan’s cool breath fans against his too hot skin. He sobs when Yifan’s fingers curls around the base of his cock, like a makeshift cock ring, denying his release. If it was throbbing before, it is definitely paining him now.

Yifan doesn’t recede. The heat and the tightness around his cock is just right. His free hand brushes the smooth expanse of skin before him. He knows he is close. His pace slackens a little and the rhythm is uncoordinated. But then Junmyeon clenches tight around his cock, his walls pressing deliciously around him, and the friction kills him. The pent-up frustration he had been nursing for days unwinds and melts, and he orgasms, shooting his load inside.

Junmyeon senses Yifan is close to coming when his tempo is all thrown off. He groans a bit in annoyance as Yifan still had his fingers curled around him. His orgasm hovers in the horizon, swelling bigger by the second. He hears a deep, gravelly moan as Yifan comes, filling his hole to the brim. Finally, (Junmyeon almost cries) Yifan removes his fingers off his cock. Yifan just has to stroke his cock thrice in a few smooth motions and Junmyeon crumbles apart, as the dam breaks and it hits him hard like a tidal wave and he sees white for a while as he comes hard all against the counter and floor.

Junmyeon rises a little from the counter when Yifan wraps his arm around his torso and pulls him up. He is pressed against Yifan’s chest and he feels how hard Yifan is panting. So is he. Junmyeon feels boneless and tired but so damn sated and satisfied. Sure it hurt, but he doesn’t remember having an orgasm that intense ever.

In any other parallel universe, Junmyeon would have dragged Yifan to the bedroom and cuddled with him like he used to once upon a time. But his reality has no place for such thoughts. He has to be practical and rational, and not let his emotions control him. He ignores the liquid dripping down the back of his thighs as he shifts, pushing Yifan away. He doesn’t look at Yifan as he pulls his pants up. He doesn’t zip it as he searches for his t-shirt. He spots it on the stove.

Yifan looks on confused as Junmyeon dresses himself. Finally, Junmyeon looks back at him. Instead of being angry, or broken, he says, his voice steady and face carefully blank, “You were standing for a long time. Go sit down Yifan. I’ll be back.” He leaves the kitchen and walks over to the master bedroom. 

Yifan gulps. That wasn’t the response he was expecting. Even after everything, Junmyeon does what he does best—worry about Yifan’s injury. Yifan grabs the edges of the counter and bites down on his lips. Why does Junmyeon work that way? Ever since they were teenagers, back in the days when he bullied the shorter man. He would always be so impassive and detached. Right now, he did the same thing. Brush off Yifan like whatever happened between them was nothing.

No, that is not it. If there is one thing, he has got to know about Junmyeon in the few days he was with him is that Junmyeon was an expert at hiding his feelings.

Yifan angrily pulls up his pants as he curses himself. Why does he care? Why should he care how Junmyeon feels? The attraction between them had been obvious for a long time. They simply acted on it right now. And didn’t Yifan want Junmyeon to leave him alone? So why, in the name of everything holy he didn’t believe in, does he feel broken and disappointed about it?

Chapter Text

Junmyeon locks himself in the bathroom and lets the events from the last few minutes sink in. He just had sex with the man he wanted to for a long time. The same man who confuses him to no end. The man who kills people, lies to people and is overall an asshole. Yet, Junmyeon’s very soul tingles at the way Yifan touched him, and proceeded to fuck his brains out (for the lack of better words). “Shit,” Junmyeon hisses and grabs his hair. What did he do? He could have pushed Yifan away. He could have stopped whatever was happening. But no, he is stupid and he is weak. So fucking weak for Wu Yifan.

Angry tears roll down his cheeks as he chastises himself some more. However, he is kind of surprised with himself—the way he brushed Yifan off after everything else. God, when did he become such a good actor when he is having a meltdown in reality.

Then he remembers the brief gentle moment and he is even more confused. The way Yifan held him and tried to soothe him, twists his heart. The conflict in his eyes, the passion and the heat was too much to bear. It wasn’t all mindless, Yifan wanted it and knew what he was doing. He succeeded in wrecking Junmyeon apart completely.

Yet it felt so good. His body is still humming from the after-effects.

The sex was great. Their chemistry is great. But the rest of it doesn’t make any sense.

 

While Junmyeon was having a meltdown in the bathroom, Yifan sits down on the couch in the living room and scowls. He just did the number one thing he wasn’t supposed to do. Stupid dreams and stupid feelings, and he is the biggest idiot ever.

It is all Junmyeon’s fault, he surmises. Something happens to his system anytime Junmyeon was around. The pull, the force and the destructive attraction. He was always sucked into this vortex that Junmyeon created no matter how hard he tried to resist. This is a fucking weakness. He is fucking weak for Kim Junmyeon. Everything about that man makes him lose his restraints. He has learnt by now that being close, too close, to Junmyeon is bad for him. He is going to stay away. This is the last time.

But the first time their lips touched, Yifan knew he had lost it. He wanted Junmyeon so much that it scared him. He cannot explain it to himself. And damn, real life Junmyeon felt even more wonderful than dream Junmyeon. The reality was so much better even if it was a bad decision. He would take this ‘bad’ decision again if he could but he knows it is a dire idea. He slaps himself in frustration. No, no, he is not doing this again. No matter what.

He hears the bedroom door opening and he turns his head around. Junmyeon stands at the doorway, hair in place and his two bags in both of his hands. He says, “Woah, this is heavy…”

Yifan stands up, his leg protests but he ignores it and walks closer to Junmyeon. He takes both bags from the latter. He has to address the issue, “Junmyeon loo—”

Junmyeon raises a hand and drops his gaze as he says, “I know. We can all pretend nothing happened. It is for the best. You can’t keep playing with me like this. And I don’t need this, whatever this is.”

“Playing”? It was game over for Yifan the moment he saw Junmyeon in his apartment. But he sees Junmyeon’s point. He also sees the red, irritated skin around Junmyeon’s eyes. Yifan gulps. Junmyeon was crying. He made Junmyeon cry. He grips the leather handle of the bag so hard, he feels the strap pressing uncomfortably into his skin. He has to get a grip, or else he might sway and crush Junmyeon to his chest and start apologising. He nods his head instead, “Yeah.”

Junmyeon finally makes eye contact with him. Yifan cowers mentally at that gaze—he didn’t know vulnerability and determination could be mixed into one gaze. Junmyeon says, “Are you going to leave now?”

“Yeah,” Yifan says.

“Did you come here by a cab or something?”

“Yeah.”

“You could have sent someone else here. Moving around too much is no good for you.” Junmyeon moves around Yifan and starts walking towards the entrance. He looks at Yifan over his shoulder and says, “I can drop you.”

Yifan wants to grab Junmyeon and slam him against a wall and scream at him, “Stop pretending to be okay! I hurt you! Say something! Punch me, hit me if you have to, if that makes you feel better! Stop being so emotionless! I made you upset and it is killing me!” The guilt is real and it is chewing him inside out. Instead Yifan says aloud, “You don’t have to.”

“I insist Yifan,” Junmyeon shakes his head, “If you are worried about me learning about where you are staying right now, don’t worry, I will drop you a block away or something. You won’t find a taxi at this hour in the lanes. You would have to walk quite a distance.”

Yifan cannot argue with that logic. He would have to walk and that would be supremely painful. He grabs his crutches and nods his head curtly. They walk out of the apartment. Junmyeon locks the apartment and stares at the keys in his hand. He puts his hand towards Yifan and says, “You keep it. I obviously don’t need it anymore.” You don’t need me anymore.

Yifan hesitates. He feels like taking the keys is equivalent to a curtain dropping after one last performance. But he takes it anyway. No, keep it.

Junmyeon walks in front as Yifan follows. They get into the elevator and each wishes they could say the right things.

I hate you but not really.

If you hate me now, then do something about it please. I am your villain.

I wish I could hate you. Will you ever kiss me again?

I want to hold you and kiss you and apologise for everything. You don’t deserve this; you don’t deserve someone like me. I just wanted to show you that.

I miss your smiles. You looked like a fool when you smiled, yet it was adorable, and cute. And I miss it.

I miss your sleepy smiles. No one is there to wake me up now. No one sings in the apartment.

I wish we could make love instead of what happened right now.

I wish I could take my time with you. Hear your sweet voice.

I wonder what are you going to do with all those weapons. Please be careful. Please, please, take care of yourself.

I wonder if you are doing okay. I am not. I am on a suicide mission. Please be okay.

I wish I knew how to forget.

I wish I knew how to stop from feeling.

I wish…

I wish…

The elevator door opens and startles them both. They briefly glance at each other. Junmyeon looks away and walks out first, blushing. Yifan stares at his shoes and tries to regulate his heartbeat before following Junmyeon.

Junmyeon unlocks his car and opens the back door, “Here, keep your bags here.” Yifan does so.

Yifan says, “Drop me at Hapjeong-dong.”

“That is north of the river, right?”

“Yeah.”

Junmyeon stops the car and no one initiates conversation. Too afraid lest their real feelings come spilling out if they start talking. Words are dangerous. Silence is safe.

 

Junmyeon returns to his office after two hours. He enters his office to see his boss sitting on his table. He gets startled, “Boss?”

Seung-hyun tilts his head, “You didn’t go out for lunch did you?”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen and he swallows, “Uh.”

“Ha caught you! What are you up to?”

“It was personal.” He went for a torrid mid-day dalliance. He doesn’t think his boss would approve.

“Hm,” Seung-hyun closes his eyes and nods his head, “Anyway, we have a slump right now. So go grab your lunch. Then finish your reports. I am going to step out for a while.” Seung-hyun gets down and walks towards Junmyeon. He pats his shoulder and says, “If it is a personal crisis, I won’t snoop and be a bad boss. But don’t let it eat away at your professional life. Okay?”

Junmyeon nods, grateful for all the consideration. Seung-hyun leaves whistling some pop song under his breath.

Junmyeon is about to take a seat when he notices something white on the floor on his peripheral. He turns his head to look at the thing, it is a sheet of paper. He picks it up. He scowls, it is the last page of the report he made on the Seocho-dong murders. He had put it on his table. He walks over to his table and realises the file is not on his desk anymore.

He frowns. Where did it go? And why was one lose sheet from it lying on the ground? A stray thought lodges in his brain...

Did Seung-hyun take his report?

No, that can’t be. Why would he do that? His boss could just ask it from him.

Then again, what was his boss doing in his office?

Nothing today makes any damn sense.

 

Zelo looks at the two small medicine containers in his hands. He hasn’t taken them for some days. He reads the names: the Valium for whenever it felt like that tug in his mind that threatened to pull him back into the darkness and the carisoprodol for whenever that darkness got too comfortable. The medicines are made to stop him, to tame him. And he hasn’t taken them for the last two months. He likes being Zelo.

Zelo is in control of his feelings. Zelo knows what he is doing. Zelo is efficient and smart. The other him is weak and always depressed. Always needy and dependent. Zelo is powerful and strong. He doesn’t need anybody. He puts his medicines away in his bathroom cabinet and walks out. He enters his kitchen and thinks about what he should eat for lunch.

His phone starts ringing. It was in the living room. He saunters in and picks it up. It is hyung. He smirks. He swipes right and says, “Hello?”

“Hey, checking in. You okay?” his hyung says.

“Yes. You checked in last night.”

“Did you have lunch yet?”

“No.”

“I was thinking if you wanted to eat something. I could bring it over.”

“Yeah?” Zelo perks up, “I feel like pizza.”

His hyung chuckles, “All that junk food is unhealthy Junnie.”

Zelo pouts, “I don’t care. I want pizza.”

“Okay. Can you hold on for thirty minutes?”

“Yeah,” Zelo dramatically sighs, “I will survive.”

His hyung chuckles again and disconnects. Zelo’s heart swells when he thinks of how much his hyung loves him. He does feel guilty that he isn’t taking his medications like he is supposed to. But Dae-hyung told him that this is for the best. Even if what Yongguk and Zico did to him was horrible, he admits that being stronger as Zelo was a better idea.

He chucks his phone on the couch and decides to take a shower while he waits for that pizza.

 

It is close to four now and Junmyeon is free after an hour so he decides to assist Jaebum with some samples. He is about to put a tube in the centrifugal machine when Jaebum says, “Do you mind if I turn on the radio?”

Junmyeon smiles and shakes his head, “No, go ahead.”

Jaebum turns on the radio on his phone and a familiar song starts playing.

Those two eyes that just flittered by

I couldn't look at that time

Junmyeon nearly drops the tube in his hands. His breathing hitches. Jaebum smiles, “Oh, yeah, I used to love this song. It was from a drama soundtrack right? What was it…” he mixes the alcohol with the residue and wonders out loud.

I was just looking at those lips

I couldn't hear anything

 If we were to be in another place at another time and fall in love

 Would we have been happy?

Junmyeon tries to focus back on his work. He carefully inserts the tube and bites his lip. Why this song of all songs today?

That time when we were living?

I falter just by looking at you

I can't forget or hate you

I can't seem to do anything else but love you

But while my heart can rest for one day

“Ah the drama had a very popular boy group member in it…” Jaebum still wonders.

Junmyeon’s heart picks up pace when he understands the lyrics he used to casually sing. If indeed Yifan and he were in another place at another time, would they have been happy and…in love?

Was his aunt right?

Junmyeon stands up abruptly and runs out of the lab. He doesn’t heed Jaebum shouting after him. He needs to be alone. His head is reeling, his lungs can’t get in any oxygen and he feels tears prickling behind his eyes. No, no, no.

This isn’t love. He is not in love with Wu Yifan.

 

Yifan is lying down on the couch with Jongdae and Zitao bickering in the background. They were arguing about which Lee Jong Suk drama was better—Pinocchio or Doctor Stranger.

“Whatever I can’t hear you!” Zitao shouts and turns on the radio on his phone.

The song startles Yifan. Jongdae shouts, “Hey! You can’t do this!”

“Chen shut up,” Yifan says as he tries to listen to the familiar lyrics.

If I can forget you easily

That time when we were living?

I falter just by looking at you

I can't forget or hate you

I can't seem to do anything else but love you

This is the song Junmyeon sang around the house most of the time. He remembers Junmyeon singing it when he was washing his hair. His eyes widen and his heartbeats fasten. Why this song of all songs? And that too, today?

But I can't reach for you no matter how I try

You seem even more beautiful when you're further away

Yeah he cannot reach Junmyeon no matter how hard he tries. Junmyeon has shut him off from his life. Yifan closes his eyes and thinks, yeah, the Junmyeon of his memory is beautiful, flushed skin and doe eyes and blinding smiles. And if Junmyeon seems far away, then that is where he should stay…right?

But the more I love you, the more it hurts

Why does my heart want only you?

I can't forget or hate you

I can't seem to do anything else but love you

He doesn’t realise the way Jongdae and Zitao were staring at him, concerned and confused. Yifan bites down on his lip. No this isn’t love; it is anything but that.

Yet, he cannot forget Junmyeon or hate him. He opens his eyes and gets down from the couch. He limps to his bedroom and angrily shuts the door. Jongdae jumps at the noise. He whispers, “Is ge okay?”

“Who knows,” Zitao shrugs, “Only Yixing-ge would have known.”

“Yeah,” Jongdae mumbles.

Zitao notices how sad his friend looks, he is biting his lips and his eyes are watery. Zitao rubs his head and says, “Hey, I give up, Doctor Stranger is better. Come on, don’t be upset, I will buy you ice cream.”

Jongdae smiles, “You know I am older than you. Stop treating me like a dongsaeng.” Zitao may look like a murderer, but Jongdae knows he is essentially a huge softie.

“Shut up shorty.”

Jongdae tries fighting back but Zitao drags him away anyway. When Yifan realises they have gone, he comes out of his room. He is in a mess. His head hurts and he wishes Junmyeon was here. He walks into the kitchen and as Junmyeon’s smile is the only thing he sees in his mind, he picks up a cup at the sink and throws it at the opposite wall.

He watches silently as the ceramic hits the open brick wall and disintegrates into pieces on the floor. He mutters, “No, I am not made for love. Things like that don’t exist for me.”

Because love is something that doesn’t figure in the plot of his life. And he is mad that his life doesn’t make any sense to him anymore. 

Chapter Text

Zelo is done with his shower by the time his hyung arrives. He excitedly opens the door, “Hyung!”

Choi Seung-hyun smiles affectionately at his half-brother, “Hi there. No one is this excited for pizza.”

“Oh please,” Zelo moves aside to let Seung-hyun in, “Everyone loves pizza.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

Seung-hyun enters the kitchen and sets plates. He sits down and Zelo joins him. He just watches Zelo excitedly smile and grab himself a slice. Seeing him happy makes Seung-hyun happy. He knows about the things Daesung made him do. The deaths of Yongguk, Daehyun, Himchan, Youngjae and Jongup was Zelo’s fault. But was it really? He knows Daesung uses Zelo. And he hates it. But he owes Daesung.

“Junhong-ah?” Seung-hyun uses Zelo’s real name.

Zelo, or Choi Junhong, looks up, cheeks stuffed with food. He blinks at his hyung to continue. Seung-hyun says, “You have been taking your meds right?”

Junhong swallows and nods his head. He does feel a little guilty for lying to Seung-hyun but he doesn’t want to stop being Zelo. So for his brother’s sake, Zelo has gotten good at acting like Junhong—nice and harmless. Seung-hyun says, “I took care of the recent reports. Jongup and Youngjae were the last right?”

“Yes,” Junhong says, “I don’t need to kill anymore.”

“Good. I am glad.” Seung-hyun reaches forward and cups Junhong’s face. He stares at him in adoration. They have different mothers but he always loved Junhong as his own brother. He sees how much Junhong has grown at only nineteen years of age. He has blood on his hands yet Seung-hyun can’t see beyond the sweet, innocent face of his half-brother.

Junhong pouts, “Hyung, let me eat please. You can squash my cheeks later.”

Seung-hyun takes away his hands and laughs, “I am just thinking how tall you have grown. You are like a giant baby!”

“Yifan-hyung said the same thing,” Junhong chuckles.

Seung-hyun frowns, “You know Yifan?”

“Yeah, everyone knows Yifan. He is the coolest!”

This is news to Seung-hyun. He didn’t know that Yifan and Junhong ran around in the same circles. He was experiencing six degrees of separation right now. 

 

Junmyeon fixes his black tie before the bathroom mirror. He is in the station’s bathroom waiting for Hakyeon—they were going together to the funeral. He exits the bathroom and walks down to the parking lot where he finds Seung-hyun waiting. Seung-hyun was carpooling them. Hakyeon arrives soon after and smiles, “Ready?”

Junmyeon nods. He is not ready to say his final goodbyes to his friend.

They reach the venue where the funeral was to be held in a few minutes. Seung-hyun leaves them at the doorstep to go look for a parking space. Junmyeon is surprised at the turnout. They were far too many people. But then again, Amber was very popular and had friends in almost every department. He spots Jung Taekwoon amongst the crowd and their eyes meet for a fraction of a second. The scowl that Taekwoon wears on his face nearly has Junmyeon tripping and wondering what sin he committed in his previous birth to be on the receiving end of Taekwoon’s wrath in this life.

He also notices Siwon who nods at him; he nods back. He finally finds who he had been looking for. He waves his hand and the short woman with brown hair waves back and walks over to him. Junmyeon says, “Hey Jackie.”

Jackie, Amber’s older sister, hugs Junmyeon, “I am glad you came.”

Junmyeon asks when Jackie releases him, “How are your parents doing?”

“Mom hasn’t stopped crying and dad, well, he has been silent since yesterday.” Jackie’s eyes glisten.

Junmyeon sighs, “I so hate this.”

Jackie snorts, “We all do. Who dies at twenty-four? Mom keeps saying how Amber shouldn’t have been a cop. She would have lived longer and all that…”

“Amber only ever wanted to be a cop.”

“Yeah. Try saying that to mom. I don’t know how to handle her anymore.”

Junmyeon squeezes her shoulders and tells her to take him inside.

They enter the wake room. Jackie leaves him to attend to other guests. Junmyeon lights an incense stick in front of the praying table on which a framed picture of Amber is placed along with flowers and a pair of shoes that belonged to her. Amber’s body would later be taken to the crematorium. Junmyeon wasn’t planning on going there. He already felt like crying and he knows he cannot keep up the façade of stoicism anymore. He finds Jackie and gives his condolences to her parents.

He is about to leave when someone grips his elbows. He turns his head to see it is Taekwoon who has a death grip on him. Taekwoon says, “I need to talk about Amber Liu.”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen. What? He doesn’t say anything as Taekwoon releases him and beckons him to follow him.

 

“What day is it today?” Jongdae asks.

Zitao replies, “It is the second of April.”

They were in the car with Yifan in the backseat. Yifan who had been paying no attention to them suddenly perks up. He asks Jongdae, “Can you do something for me?”

Jongdae says, “Sure boss!”

“Find out where Amber Liu’s funeral is being held. She is a cop.”

“Amber Liu, cop…okay,” Jongdae nods as he brings out his phone.

Between Jongdae and Luhan, they have contacts who have contacts everywhere. There was nothing they couldn’t know. So after a few minutes and incessant jabbering, Jongdae exhales and gives Yifan the address.

Yifan says to Zitao, who is driving, “Take me there.”

Zitao nods and takes a left.

They had been driving for a while, and getting closer when Yifan shouts, “Stop the car!”

Zitao breaks hard and Jongdae is thankful to the seatbelt or else he would have been flying out through the windshield. He asks, “Boss, what is wrong?”

Yifan shakes his head and gets down from the car. He simply says, “Go home. I will take a taxi back.”

Zitao and Jongdae shrug at each other but none of them dare ask Yifan what is going on because Yifan has his Resting Bitchface Dragon King face on. They quietly drive away not noticing what Yifan had his scowl directed at. It is a common face sitting inside a café.

Yifan grits his teeth when he sees Junmyeon in the café with this stranger. And they were drinking coffee, well the man was, judging from the light brown liquid in Junmyeon’s glass, he can assume it was iced peach tea…and did that man just touch Junmyeon? He doesn’t like the way the man keeps looking at Junmyeon.

Did Junmyeon just smile at him?

He doesn’t know how long he stands there looking at them on the opposite street. But Junmyeon finally leaves the café and crosses the street. Yifan ducks in a lane, hoping Junmyeon would walk in front of it.

Junmyeon does. Yifan times it right and extends his hand to grab Junmyeon. He pulls the man in and pushes him against the wall. He says, in a tight voice, “Who is that man?”

Junmyeon is still processing the situation, so when Yifan’s question filters through, he frowns and says, angrily, “Why the fuck do you care?”

Huh, good question.

 

Junmyeon silently follows the tall detective as he exits the venue and starts walking. After taking a few turns, they end up in front of this café and Taekwoon opens the door. When Junmyeon makes no move to enter, Taekwoon says, gruffly, “What are you waiting for? Need me to roll a red carpet for you?”

Junmyeon nearly keens over. Jung Taekwoon is holding the door open for him? The man has manners? What? He scurries inside. Taekwoon huffs and follows him. They take a seat and before Junmyeon could ask if he should order, Taekwoon gets up and goes to order, not even caring to ask what Junmyeon wants. Fuck that, he got no manners.

Taekwoon returns after a few minutes. He sits down and says, “You like peach tea right?”

Junmyeon gasps, “How do you know?” He might have to re-re-think about this stoic detective again.

“Amber once bought an entire aisle of peach tea for you, saying “he is having a bad day” or something like that.”

Junmyeon is impressed, “Wow, you got really good memory.”

Taekwoon coughs, “Uh, yeah, whatever.” His cheeks are flushed and his eyes dart from side to side.

Junmyeon crooks an eyebrow. So Detective Jung Taekwoon is allergic to compliments. The waiter arrives with their drinks. When the young man leaves, Junmyeon asks, “So what am I here for?”

Taekwoon drums his long fingers on the wooden surface. He says, “Amber took something from me.”

Junmyeon frowns, “What?”

“I have been investigating the death of Jung Daehyun and Kim Himchan before my boss, Siwon, that is, told me that the cases are being shifted to another unit. I and Amber were working together. But after the cases closed for us, Amber protested. And that night I could no longer find the evidence box that I kept in my office,” he sips his macchiato and waits for Junmyeon to say something.

Junmyeon rubs his lip, “I was the assistant M.E. on the Kim Himchan case. Before the day she died, she sent me this text.” He fishes out his phone and opens the last text Amber sent.

Taekwoon takes the phone. He reads the message, “’Need to talk to you about the Kim Himchan case. There are pages missing in the report’…huh.” Taekwoon curls his fingers under his chin and falls into deep thought.

Junmyeon quietly sips his tea. There are even real peaches in this drink. Cool. He thinks about the day when Amber got him ten packs of peach tea because he had messed up an autopsy. He was in his office trying hard not to tear his hair off when Amber had walked in, panting and deposited all ten cold packs of peach tea and shouted, “There! Now please don’t feel too bad!” Junmyeon had nearly cried and decided then that he loved Amber very much. He smiles and stares down at the peaches resting at the bottom.

Taekwoon’s gaze lands on Junmyeon and he has to take a moment because he thinks Junmyeon has a very nice smile. His eyes have a faraway look in them like he is lost in some personal space. A really nice smile though. And a nice face. And wait what. He should just focus on what he came here for. He clears his throat and that breaks whatever daydream Junmyeon was having, “So I was thinking if you know anything about the evidence box I am talking about?”

Junmyeon suddenly remembers. There was an unopened box with Taekwoon’s name sitting on a top shelf in his kitchen cabinet. So Amber did steal it. He wonders whether he should tell the detective the truth.

His internal battle must have been evident on his face because Taekwoon reaches forward and grabs his wrist, not harshly though. Junmyeon looks up and sees a trace of kindness in his eyes. Taekwoon says, “Look, I won’t hold you responsible for anything. Amber just wanted to learn the truth and so did I. But she chose to work on her own. And I wish she didn’t. I keep thinking that she died because of the secrets she tried to unravel.”

Junmyeon tilts his head, “I don’t understand. Himchan and Daehyun’s death were not related right?”

“Let me ask you something. You worked on Daehyun’s autopsy and the recent multiple homicides at the club in Yongsan right?”

“Yeah.” Junmyeon glances at the long fingers encircling his wrist. Taekwoon follows his gaze and quickly takes back his hand. That was totally unprofessional, Taekwoon chastises himself.

“Then,” Taekwoon extracts a small envelope from his jacket pocket. He takes out two pictures and puts them on the table, “Tell me what you see?”

Junmyeon fishes out his glasses and wears them as he peers at the two photographs. He recognises one as Woo Mino and the other as Jung Daehyun. He gasps, “The precision and angle is almost the same! I didn’t notice this… I kept thinking they were all separate incidents.”

“Exactly.”

“So…do you mean there is a serial killer out there? Because the Seocho-dong crime scene looked the same. Even the bullets matched.”

“The Seocho-dong murders and the Blockbuster murders are related yes, Daehyun’s an anomaly.”

Junmyeon frowns, “But as far as I know, Daehyun was a copywriter and Mino was a criminal of some sorts. And on the other end, Yoo Youngjae and Moon Jongup were just students. Don’t serial killers usually choose similar types of victims. Isn’t this too random? Also these wounds don’t provide anything substantial.”

Taekwoon shrugs, “I am not sure and neither was Amber.”

“Did no one else see this? How about Choi Siwon?”

Taekwoon jaws harden at the boss’s mention, “I wouldn’t trust Choi Siwon too much. And neither should you.”

Junmyeon frowns. Then he wonders if he should tell Taekwoon how he thinks his boss, Seung-hyun, stole his report. He isn’t too sure that Seung-hyun did take it. He meets Taekwoon unwavering gaze and is surprised when Taekwoon averts his gaze and blushes a little. What is that about?

Taekwoon looks at Junmyeon as the latter falls into deep thought. Maybe he shared too much. But then he is distracted by how well glasses suit Junmyeon. He wants to look away but finds himself unable to do so. Then Junmyeon looks straight at him and suddenly he feels so flustered.

Junmyeon doesn’t think too much about it as he says, “I took the evidence box from Amber’s house. I was afraid that if someone else saw it, it might become problematic for Amber. I can…I can give it to you.”

Taekwoon thinks for a while. He says, his voice firm and serious, “Junmyeon? I may need your help with this. I need you to look at the documents in that box. Amber didn’t share her findings with me. And I could use a second pair of eyes. I am willing to trust you.”

Junmyeon chuckles, “That is alright but I am no detective.”

“Amber kept calling you the Sherlock Holmes of forensics.”

Junmyeon blushes and shakes his head. He says in a tiny voice, “I am just observant.”

Taekwoon cracks a smile and Junmyeon wishes he had a camera, “Let me be the judge of that.”

Junmyeon tries to pay for his drinks but Taekwoon refuses. He promises to give the evidence box to Taekwoon and help the detective in any way he can. He muses that the man isn’t that awful.

He exits the café and crosses the street. He walks down the pavement in hopes of getting a taxi when somebody grabs him by his forearm and before he can realise what is going on, he finds himself pushed against a wall.

His eyes widen when he realises it is Yifan in front of him. The taller man looms over him as he growls, “Who is that man?”

At first Junmyeon is very surprised by Yifan’s sudden appearance. Then he gets infuriated by Yifan’s question. He asks, “Why the fuck do you care?”

“I thought you had a funeral to attend instead of a coffee date.”

Junmyeon just gets angrier by the second, “As I asked, why the fuck do you care Wu Yifan? Who I spend my time with is my problem!” One part of him is mad at Yifan and the other part purrs like a cat in satisfaction when he realises that Yifan was jealous to see him with Taekwoon. Then he realises Yifan mentioned ‘funeral’. He calms down enough to say, “How do you know I had to go to a funeral?”

Yifan calms down as well, as he dips his head and says, “You told me about Amber’s funeral.”

Junmyeon feels his insides twisting. Fuck, why does Yifan affect him like this? He has no right to do so. He mutters, “So, where you following me?”

“No, I wanted to pay my respects.”

“Why?”

“She made me pancakes,” Yifan mutters. Junmyeon bites his lip. He had no idea that pancakes could be so potent that it brings out a criminal in broad daylight to go a police officer’s funeral. But he feels like Yifan doesn’t quite finish his sentence. Yifan continues, “On the way I see you with him, whoever he is.”

Yifan looks straight at Junmyeon, anger simmering in those deep pools. Junmyeon frowns, “I am under no obligation to tell you Yifan.” He stands a little bit straighter and steadies himself, “You and me aren’t lovers, heck, we aren’t even friends. You and me are nothing.” It breaks his soul to say those words but Yifan needs to hear them. He owes Yifan no explanation.

Yifan is a bit taken aback by that. He releases Junmyeon and takes a few steps back. Unbeknownst to them, a light drizzle had started to fall. Yifan lips quiver as he tries to put his emotions and thoughts into order. He says, “You are right. I am sorry.” With that, he turns around and leaves.

Junmyeon stands there aghast. Why did Yifan look so crestfallen? No, no, he rubs his face and chalks it up to his imagination. He saw nothing on Yifan’s face, he only projected his own feelings there. He gulps when he realises that he did want to Yifan to reciprocate, he wanted Yifan to lay bare his jealousy, he wanted Yifan to kiss him again.

Junmyeon walks out of the lane. Maybe, just maybe…

But…they weren’t nothing were they? There is too much. And Yifan means something to Junmyeon.

But how can it be love? Junmyeon is so confused.

 

Yifan thanks his luck when he is able to get a taxi quickly. He gets in and gives the taxi driver the address of Jongdae’s place. He rubs his face as he tries, desperately, to delete whatever Junmyeon said.

“You and me are nothing.”

You and me are nothing.

…Nothing.

He groans and the poor driver gets terribly startled. He glances at Yifan slyly. He wonders if someone broke his heart. He has seen this stance before—guttural groans and dejected expressions—among the countless passengers he had picked up over the years.

Yifan and Junmyeon are nothing. Nothing at all. So whatever happened between them for those eighteen days were nothing at all. Whatever happened between them yesterday was also nothing. How can Junmyeon just... casually disregard them?

But wait. He sits up straight and takes a few deep breaths. He looks out of the window and sighs. Why does he care who Junmyeon decides to spend his time with? Why does he care that Junmyeon called them ‘nothing’? Why does he care at all?

Junmyeon is right. This is nothing. There is nothing.

The tug in his heart is simply imaginary.

Chapter Text

When Yifan reaches Jongdae’s place, it has started to rain quite furiously. He notices the door to the apartment is already open. He frowns. Jongdae is rarely this careless. He doesn’t think too much about it as he enters.

He curses when he sees the scene in front of him. Kang Daesung has an arm around Jongdae’s neck and the other hand has a gun grasped in it, the muzzle pressed to Jongdae’s temple. Jongdae’s eyes are widened and there are tears pooled in them. Yifan feels like an idiot for not carrying a gun with him. Jongdae whimpers, “Ge…”

“Ssh,” Daesung grins, Yifan’s blood boils at that, “This was just for effect. I would apologise for scaring you but that is not my style.” He hits the back of Jongdae’s head with the butt of the gun. Jongdae loses consciousness and slumps down to the floor. Daesung steps over him and comes closer to Yifan, “My main target is you anyway, brother.” He sneers and aims the gun at Yifan this time.

Yifan scowls. He can see the hatred in Daesung’s eyes for him. Brother, Yifan mentally scoffs, as if. Yeah the late Yunhyeong did wish they become like brothers. Sometimes the old man had impossible requests. Daesung pulls the trigger.

Bang.

 

Luhan rushes forward to open the door. Minseok slowly walks inside their apartment and beelines straight away for the couch. He sits down on it and lightly rubs his stomach. The little he walked had the wound on his torso hurting slightly. Luhan hovers uncertainly around him. Minseok says, “Can you give me some water?”

Luhan scoots into the kitchen and returns with a glass of water in hand. He gives it to Minseok, who says a tiny thank you.

To say the atmosphere is awkward and tensed would be a gross understatement. They can both feel it.

When Minseok is finished with his drink, he sighs, “Sit down Luhan.” He pats the couch.

Luhan scratches his neck and sits down. Minseok doesn’t start talking and Luhan keeps glancing at him from time to time. Luhan breaks the silence, “I am sorry.” He swallows down the tears threatening to spill. He feels more like a criminal at this point. He killed Yixing, broke Yifan’s trust and broke Minseok’s heart all in one fell swoop. He knows no court on earth can give a conviction that will truly cover all his sins.

Minseok sighs again, “I know. I know Luhan,” he moves closer and throws his arms around Luhan and puts his head on the latter’s shoulder, “I know you did it to save me…but you are so smart, couldn’t you have found another way? You have pulled out others through shittier situations than this. You didn’t have to kill him.”

“He would have killed you,” Luhan sobs, “And I couldn’t have lived with that.”

Minseok shivers without any rhyme or reason...No, he understands why—Daesung hit Luhan where it would hurt the most, and the usually rational Luhan took an emotional decision. He cups Luhan’s face and forces the Chinese man to lock his gaze with him. He says, “I am not going to lie, but I hated you when you told me what you did to save my life. I would have preferred to die than have you kill anyone for me Lu.”

Luhan gasps and grabs Minseok to pull him into his embrace, “I, I can’t do that. Not in a million years Minseokkie. I love you too much. And I would have done anything to save you!”

Minseok clutches the back on Luhan’s shirt. His voice is muffled as he presses his face into the crook of Luhan’s neck, “But was killing a friend the best option? Wasn’t he your friend too?”

Luhan exhales shakily, “He was. And I can’t look at myself in the mirror anymore Minseokkie.”

“And I can’t bring to myself to forget. I love you but this is difficult for me.”

They release each other at the same time and Minseok gets to his feet. He quietly says, “I am going to lie down for a while. We will talk later?”

Luhan just nods already feeling miles away from his one true love. He ruefully looks on as Minseok shuffles into the bedroom and closes the bedroom door, not even looking back at him once.

 

Bang.

It is a blank. No bullet rushes out through the barrel. Yifan doesn’t even flinch. Daesung laughs, “You didn’t even blink an eye! The great Wu Yifan everybody!”

Yifan asks, “Why do you want to kill me? Isn’t this three years too late?”

Daesung narrows his eyes, “Yeah, better late than never.”

They both knew what they were referring to.

Three years ago

Kang Yunhyeong had been battling cancer for a while. The doctor has given him another year. So he decides to do it today. He calls Yifan and Daesung to his office. He smiles slightly when he sees the two of them entering the office. He steeples his fingers and says, “So as you two will know, I don’t have very long to live. I have decided to step down.”

Daesung looks on expectantly while Yifan is impassive. Yunhyeong continues, “Yifan, you will take over Seoul, I have decided. And Daesung will head to Taiwan.” He says this with a calm face, yet his voice booms in authority. The cancer may have diminished his physical prowess and greyed his hair considerably, no one could deny that Kang Yunhyeong had a commanding presence.

Daesung gasps and fists his fingers, he is shaking in fury. Yifan looks at him from the corner of his eyes. Daesung is seething. Everyone knows that Taiwan is the dumpster for all the rejects of the Kang family. Seoul is where the Kang family’s brightest and most ruthless reign. He grits his teeth, “Father, Yifan isn’t even a Kang.”

Yunhyeong frowns, “Yifan is as good as my son. And I personally trained him all these years.  I haven’t made my will yet but I thought of letting you two know in advance. I am dividing my establishments and estates here and in Taiwan between you two.”

“Then why am I being sent to Taiwan?” Daesung shouts in indignation. He always hated Yifan for taking away all the affection that he deserved as Yunhyeong’s son. He hated how an outsider like Yifan climbed through the organisation while he was always suppressed because he wasn’t smart enough, or strong enough, or charming enough. But have they ever let him try? Have they ever let him show what he can do? No, it was always Yifan this and Yifan that.

Yunhyeong rises from his seat and shouts back, “I am your father and you shall listen to me!”

Daesung shuts up but the fire of hatred in him burns bright and he tries to control it. He glances at Yifan and makes a promise to himself. He swears he is going to kill Wu Yifan one day. But before that he needs to do something about his own father.

Yifan says, “I always had a question. Yunhyeong’s accident wasn’t really just an accident was it?”

Daesung says, “Of course it wasn’t. I had to stop him from officially making that ridiculous will.”

Yifan shakes his head, “Only you would kill your own father.”

“Well of course,” Daesung shrugs, “Anything to stop you from taking everything from me.”

“I wasn’t even interested Daesung. I didn’t want anything from Yunhyeong. He used me as much as he used you to get what he wanted.”

“You think I don’t know? Dearest Fanfan, I am not stupid. But you reminded me how much of a thorn you were in my side after what you did in Yongsan.”

Yifan raises his eyebrows, “So, was I supposed to let Zelo die? I thought you were his family!”

Daesung guffaws, “Family? Yeah right…didn’t you know that he is my mother’s illegitimate child? That no one wanted him? That if it wasn’t for me then my father would have strangled baby Zelo in his crib? That my baby half-brother lived because I wanted to?”

This was brand new information for Yifan. But certain things begin to fall in place, “Is…that why your father killed your mother?”

Daesung’s face darkens at the mention of his mother, “Yes. Very smart Yifan. Losing your mother at six for the first time and then watching your father shift his attention to a kid picked up from the streets later kind of made me mad you know.”

“Took your time to take your revenge.”

Daesung laughs before he suddenly rushes forward and kicks Yifan in his stomach. Yifan doesn't see that coming, he staggers and falls, his back hitting the floor. Daesung straddles him and puts his fingers around Yifan’s neck, slowly choking him. He growls, “But funnily, I am not here to kill you. That is for another day.”

Yifan struggles when he sees Daesung bring out a small knife from his jacket. He plunges the knife on his shoulder. Yifan howls in pain as the steel cuts through flesh and embeds itself deep. Daesung twists the knife and Yifan bites down on his lips to stop himself from screaming.

The pain is blinding and he sees spots in his vision. But Daesung keeps twisting the knife excruciatingly slow, taking his time. He can’t even bring himself to push Daesung off from himself as his strength seeps out and he starts feeling faint.

But before he could lose his unconsciousness completely, he hears Daesung say, “Do you think Luhan was kind with his knife, unlike me obviously, when he stabbed poor Yixing?”

He isn’t sure if that is indeed what he heard before Daesung gets up and nudges hard at his injured leg. He sees Daesung’s smug face swimming above him before he closes his eyes and lets the darkness engulf him.

 

Junmyeon is looking down at his half-finished Long Island Iced Tea. He can hear Kyungsoo, Byul-li and Seokjin bickering beside him. They were out for pre-dinner drinks in this slightly upscale bar in Apgujeong. He is surrounded by noise, people and the general humdrum of a place for young people to meet and drink, but he is a million miles away. He wonders how Yifan is doing. He keeps trying to stop thinking about that man, but he just fails every time. He is, at this point, kind of disappointed with himself. But he keeps replaying the expression he saw on Yifan’s face. He is still trying to decipher it.

“Junmyeon?” Byul-li shakes him, “Hey earth to Junmyeon!” Byul-li’s hard shake breaks Junmyeon from his stupor and he blinks stupidly at her. She puffs her cheeks and shakes her head, “What is going on with you?”

“Today was Amber’s funeral,” Junmyeon says, “I am just…”

“Oh,” Byul-li squeezes his shoulder. They all knew about Amber’s death.

Kyungsoo says, “It was Seokjin’s idea to bring you here. I told him you might not feel like it.”

“Hey!” Seokjin exclaims, “Don’t always point your stumpy little oompa loompa fingers at me!”

That has Kyungsoo elbowing Seokjin on his ribs and Seokjin trying to strangle Kyungsoo. Byul-li tried to stop them. Junmyeon cracks a smile for the first time since meeting Yifan today. The struggle ends with Byul-li’s Mai Tai ending up on her skirt. She slaps them both on their heads and stands up, stomping all the way to the bathroom. Kyungsoo glares at Seokjin before mumbling something about “I am too sober still” and walking over to the bar to get another drink.

“You know since he is so short, he is closer to the ground and that is why Satan likes him,” Seokjin says and sips his Old Fashioned.

“I met Yifan today,” Junmyeon sighs.

Seokjin narrows his eyes at him, “I knew there was something more than you mourning Amber.”

Junmyeon traces a pattern on the wood with his forefinger. He says, “He saw me with detective Taekwoon and thought I was on a date with him. He seemed jealous, I think. I don’t know.”

Seokjin sighs, “Myeonie? He isn’t worth it. Stop it.”

“There’s more,” Junmyeon takes a big gulp of his drink, “I, uh, he, I mean I went to his apartment to return his car keys and he was there, so we, uh…”

Seokjin’s eyes widen as he leans closer, “Kim Junmyeon tell me you didn’t. Tell me that you didn’t fuck him.”

Junmyeon looks at Seokjin through his lashes and then looks back down again as his cheeks redden. Seokjin can fathom the truth easily enough. He falls back on his seat and rubs his face, “God damn it Myeonie, why are you so hell bent on destroying yourself?”

Junmyeon sees Kyungsoo walking towards with a beer bottle in his hand. He quietly says, “I don’t mind this destruction if it is him destroying me Jin.” And Junmyeon is surprised at himself that he did mean what he just said.

Seokjin would love to say what he thinks about that but he is silenced by Kyungsoo flopping down beside him. Kyungsoo instantly notices the tense atmosphere and comments, “What is going on?”

“Nothing,” the cousins say in unison. Kyungsoo just cocks an eyebrow.

Byul-li returns soon after and sits down beside Junmyeon. She snarls at Seokjin and Kyungsoo, “You guys are lucky this is my least expensive black skirt. I still demand dry cleaning expenses though.”

“Ask shorty for the money,” Seokjin snorts.

“The gayest unicorn will pay,” Kyungsoo glares.

“Hey at least unicorns are fabulous. Have you seen the mirror lately?”

“I don’t depend on a thousand face products to compensate for all that I am lacking.”

“Lacking? What the fuck do you mean you twink?”

“Twink? I will punch you into the next century!”

Byul-li rolls her eyes and stuffs her mouth with some bar nuts. Junmyeon smiles and shakes his heads. This is nothing new. Seokjin and Kyungsoo hated each other as much as they loved each other. Suddenly his phone starts ringing. He pulls it out of his pocket and frowns at the caller name. Why is Jongdae calling him? He excuses himself and walks into the bathroom to attend the call.

“Hello?”

“Hyung?” Jongdae says, Junmyeon can detect the alarm in his voice.

“Yes?”

“It is Yifan-ge. He…has been hurt.”

 

Junmyeon drives in the parking lot of Jongdae’s apartment. He is amazed he is alive and no traffic police tried to stop what with the reckless way he was driving. He quickly locks his car and rushes inside. He shifts his weight from one foot to another as he waits for the elevator to descend. He doesn’t even wait for the door to fully open before he is inside and pressing the button for the fifth floor.

When the elevator arrives at the fifth floor, he rushes out and knocks on apartment 5C with a shaky hand. Jongdae didn’t say anything else about the extent of Yifan’s injuries. He tries not to fear the worst.

The door is opened by Zitao who looks solemn. He says, “Follow me.”

Junmyeon nods and mutely follows him as he takes him inside. He briefly glances at the pool of blood on the floor behind the couch and feels afraid. Zitao opens another door and since Junmyeon is blocked by Zitao’s six feet frame, he cannot see inside this room. Zitao moves aside and Junmyeon gasps.

Yifan is laid out on a bed, unconscious, with Jongdae sitting beside him, his hands pressing down on Yifan’s left shoulder, a bloodied towel in his grasp. Jongdae sees Junmyeon and cries out, “Hyung!”

Junmyeon slowly walks closer. He sits down on the bed and quietly says, “Can I see?”

Jongdae nods and removes the towel. Junmyeon gulps when he sees the wound covered in clotted blood. He says, “That blood on the floor is his, isn’t it?”

Jongdae says, “Yeah.”

Junmyeon notes Yifan’s appearance, “He needs blood, he lost a lot of it. His skin is too pale, and he might get an infection. And the wound looks serious. He was stabbed. Chen, he needs a hospital. How long has it been?”

Zitao snorts, “Thirty minutes since I came back to find ge like this and we cannot take him to any hospital. How will we answer all the questions?”

Jongdae bites his lips, “There is a way. Remember Chanyeol-sshi?”

“That funeral director at Yeoju?” Zitao asks.

Jongdae nods, “His sister works in a hospital there. They might help.”

Junmyeon nods, “Then let us go there.”

 

After Junmyeon took care of Jongdae’s wounds, Zitao carries Yifan in his arms (“I work out a lot.”) and they head towards Junmyeon’s car. Jongdae says, “Zitao drives. Hyung, you sit behind with ge.”

Zitao agrees. Junmyeon unlocks his car and climbs on the backseat. Zitao carefully places Yifan, with Junmyeon’s help, with Yifan’s head resting on Junmyeon’s lap. Junmyeon makes sure his makeshift bandage stays in place over Yifan’s shoulder. He locks gaze with Zitao and the latter says, “I will drive carefully.” Junmyeon nods and is glad Zitao could read what was on his mind because his throat has choked up and he is fighting the dread and wishing that they are not too late.

Jongdae falls asleep after a few minutes and they might have been forty minutes into the journey when Junmyeon asks, carding his fingers through Yifan’s hair (he hasn’t even realised that he is doing it because it has become rather a habit), “Tao? Can I ask you something?” Tao nods his head. “What happened?”

“Kang Daesung came over,” Zitao says and Junmyeon can feel the anger in his voice, “He hit Chen-ge first and then stabbed ge.”

“Oh my god,” Junmyeon breathes and tries very hard not to hyperventilate.

“I swear when I get my hands on Daesung, I will kill him for doing this to ge.”

Junmyeon is surprised by the intensity. He says, “You are all very loyal to Yifan.”

“Of course we are,” Zitao sighs, “He saved us all in one way or another. He saved Lu-ge from Chinese government officials, he saved Yixing-ge from sex traders and Chen-ge from murderous rival information brokers.”

“He saved you too?”

“Yeah,” there is a few beats of silence before he continues, “I was a dealer with this guy called Zico. I not only sold drugs, I became a user too. I crossed paths with ge seven months ago. He found me, high as a kite, tripping on a lethal cocktail of hallucinogens no less. I had an overdose and Kris-ge found me, half-dead, in a shitty back alley. He took pity on me and put me in a hospital. I am alive because of him. if no one had found me, I would be dead. I found him later to say thanks, to say that I owed my life to him. Even though I worked for Zico, he saved my life. When I overheard someone say his crew was short of a member, I volunteered and left Zico forever. I have been off drugs ever since.”

Junmyeon stares at the man in his lap. He had no idea about all this obviously but it twists his heart. Zitao says quietly, “We all are orphans like him you know.”

Zitao says nothing more as explanation but Junmyeon understands. And suddenly he gets why pancakes are important. His hand stills in Yifan’s hair as he takes a few deep breaths. He can feel himself falling deeper. Yifan had no family, no idea of filial love. This is the world he has ever known. So he tried making his own little family. He liked Amber because she made him pancakes. Junmyeon can bet that no one has cooked him breakfast like that. He presses a hand over his mouth as he tries not to cry. He looks down at the steady rise and fall of Yifan’s chest and he knows how far gone he is regarding what he feels for Yifan. He knows, he already knew, he just has been actively denying it.

Then Zitao very quietly says, “Hyung? Don’t hate him for what he does because killing is the only thing he can do. He knows nothing besides that. He saved us all...”

Junmyeon swallows and says, his voice equally quiet, “I don’t hate him Zitao.” I am in love with him.

 

Park Chanyeol jumped in to help as soon as Jongdae called him. He met them in front of the hospital his sister worked in. His older sister, Yura, agreed to help straightaway since Yifan helped her once. She snuck him in and set him up with a bed. Thankfully Jongdae and Yifan shared the same blood type as Yura informed bringing blood from the hospital reserve would require paperwork which is what they all wanted to avoid.

They are waiting outside for Yura to come out from Yifan’s room. Junmyeon finds himself alone with Chanyeol. He says, “So, do you mind if I ask you something?”

“Junmyeon right?” Chanyeol flashes a huge grin (Junmyeon is blinded in the worst possible way), “Sure ask away! Any friend of Yifan is my friend as well!”

Junmyeon smiles a little, “What did Yifan do for your sister? I mean she jumped to help him with no questions asked.”

Chanyeol pushes his lower lip out, “Well, you see three years ago my sister’s fiancé—now her husband—was wrongly accused of illegal organ marketing. He was almost being send to jail when Yifan chipped in to help. Yifan and I already knew each other, and I knew that even though Yifan is not all black and white, he is essentially a good man, so I asked my sister to trust him. And he did help! He found out all the people responsible, and saved her husband’s life.”

Junmyeon looks at Chanyeol, his mouth hanging a little open. Chanyeol looks away from Junmyeon and says, “Yifan never forgets a good deed. Since I helped him, he wanted to do something for me.”

Junmyeon twists his fingers in his lap. Somehow, he is learning so much about Wu Yifan. And he is also falling harder than ever.

Yura exits and spots them. She smiles, “Well he did lose a lot of blood and we are trying to replenish it. The wound did not get septic, thank goodness. We stitched him up. But he has a slight fever. Someone should stay overnight; he might regain consciousness any moment. I can only allow one person.”

Junmyeon says, not even thinking about it, “I can stay.”

“Okay.”

Jongdae and Zitao return. Junmyeon relays them whatever Yura told them. Zitao crosses his arms and nods, “I can stay outside in the parking lot, just in case.”

“I will stay with you,” Jongdae quips.

“No, you are going home ge,” Zitao says, “You just gave blood.”

“Shut up, I am older than you, don't argue with me.”

“He is right Chen,” Junmyeon says, “You need to rest.”

After a couple of minutes of back and forth between Zitao, Jongdae and Junmyeon, Jongdae wins the argument and Zitao grumbles.

Chanyeol who had been silent on the side-lines, says, “You guys didn’t have any dinner did you?”

As if on cue, their stomachs start rumbling. Chanyeol shakes his head, “Come on, there is a restaurant not too far from here. You guys can get a quick dinner and come back.”

 

Dinner didn’t take too long as none of them felt very relaxed leaving Yifan alone. They hurried back without Chanyeol who returned home, promising to come visit tomorrow. Zitao and Jongdae left a while later, heading for the car in the parking lot. Junmyeon stayed behind.

He enters the room and it feels like déjà vu. In another time, in another hospital, his life had started taking a different direction without him knowing. Look where he is now. He sits down beside Yifan and simply stares at him, his heart swelling with every emotion that he felt for Yifan.

There is fear of the unknown—because he didn’t know what this future holds, and what Yifan’s real identity is. All that he has learnt has only showed him another side. What else was there?

There is anxiety—what has he gotten himself into? Will Yifan be okay?

There is concern—Yifan’s life is in even graver danger. He has heard horror stories about the Kang organisation. He doesn’t want Yifan to die.

Then there is the loudest and most potent emotion, that was threatening to overcome all other emotions—love. He is in love with Yifan. There was no denying and he can no longer run from what is painfully obvious. He is done for. And he doesn’t care.

He brushes his fingers over Yifan’s forehead. He doesn’t know how long he sat there gazing at Yifan but he suddenly feels his eyelids getting heavy. He moves to the adjacent cot and lies down. He doesn’t want to sleep but he can no longer resist his body. He hopes Zitao and Jongdae fare better.

 

Yifan remembers pain. Then an absolute nothingness. He wakes up and the unknown surrounding scares him. There is a light throbbing in his leg and his left shoulder hurts. Also his skin burns a little. He turns his head sideways and gasps.

There is a cot next to his bed and Junmyeon is asleep on it. Then he remembers all that happened before he fainted due to blood-loss. He clutches his blanket. His throat feels dry. He spots a covered glass of water beside his head. He reaches for it but his grip is weak and the cover slides off the glass and clatters to the floor. That wakes Junmyeon up. Yifan watches as Junmyeon wakes up with a jolt, his auburn hair sticking up on one side and blinks groggily at Yifan. Then his eyes pop open fully and he gets up. He leans over Yifan and cups his face. He says worriedly, “Are you okay? Do you remember who you are? You feel warm.” Then he notices the glass in Yifan’s hand. He wraps his fingers around Yifan’s and moves the glass to the latter’s mouth. Yifan takes a long sip, never taking his eyes off Junmyeon who is looking down at their hands. Junmyeon is touching him again and it is doing things to his heart.

When Yifan is done drinking, Junmyeon shifts his gaze to him. Yifan frowns, “It happened once. I am not going to keep losing my memory.”

Junmyeon smirks, “Just checking.”

“Where am I…and how are you here? What did I miss?”

“Well,” Junmyeon sits down, “Jongdae panicked and called me. Then I told them I couldn’t help much because I am no miracle medical doctor. So he suggested coming to Yeoju where Chanyeol-sshi’s sister helped us. That is a summary of everything that happened while you were dead to the world.”

Yifan nods. He asks, “Where is Jongdae and Zitao?”

Junmyeon, somehow ends up misinterpreting Yifan’s simple enough query. He stands up and says, “Uh, they are outside. I can go call them.” He thinks that Yifan wants him to leave.

Yifan understood that Junmyeon wanted to leave. He says, before he could stop himself, “No! Stay. You don’t have to go anywhere. Stay here.” He hates how weak he sounds; how weak he is for Junmyeon. He genuinely doesn’t want Junmyeon to leave. He sees the shorter male open his mouth then close it. He blinks and sits back down again, at Yifan’s feet.

Yifan thinks Junmyeon is too far away. But he wonders if it is okay to ask Junmyeon to come closer. Junmyeon turns his head and their gazes lock—one unsure and another confused. Yifan is the first one to tear his gaze away. Too much.

Junmyeon comes closer anyway. His hand hovers over Yifan’s head. “It helped you sleep,” he says in a quiet, scared voice. Like he was waiting for Yifan to lash out at him. Yifan nods because, yes, he remembers how comforting Junmyeon’s touch was. Junmyeon slowly runs his fingers through Yifan’s hair, gently massaging his scalp. Yifan soon feels himself lulled into the familiar, and missed, sense of comfort. He sighs and closes his eyes. It feels like coming back to a home not his own but also somehow his own.

Junmyeon smiles when he sees Yifan close his eyes. After a few moments, Yifan’s breathing evens and he falls asleep. His fingers stop. He leans forward and kisses Yifan on his nose. He wants to hold Yifan close all of a sudden. He fights this ridiculous urge before he decides that he can afford to be selfish for once. If Yifan can be selfish and have him bent against a kitchen counter, then he can be selfish and lie down next to him.

So he lies down, sideways, beside Yifan. He doesn’t know, but while studying the thick eyebrows, and the long lashes, and the full lips, he falls asleep, telling himself that he will wake up in a while and move back to his cot. He doesn’t want Yifan to wake up to him on the same bed. 

Chapter Text

Junmyeon is the first to wake up. He blinks trying to erase the tiredness he is feeling. He is still on Yifan’s bed. Thankfully, Yifan is asleep. Junmyeon quietly gets down from the bed and stretches, his bones creaking in the right places. He yawns and thinks about checking up on Jongdae and Zitao. He smiles down at Yifan, the early morning light illuminating him and the room in a fantastical way. A fantasy where Junmyeon and Yifan could be something other than this, waking up together on a bed and not in a hospital. He shakes his head and quietly walks out. Silly fantasies.

He buys coffee and some food from the hospital canteen and walks to the parking lot where he spots Jongdae and Zitao sleeping in his car, the former laid out on the backseat while the latter sleeping in an uncomfortable position on the front seat. He raps on the window. That wakes Jongdae up.

Jongdae sits up. He rubs his eyes and gives Junmyeon a cute sleepy smile. Junmyeon sits down on the passenger seat and hands Jongdae a cup. Jongdae mumbles his thanks and sniffs the coffee. Junmyeon looks at Zitao, who is fast asleep. Jongdae says, “He took the second watch. I think he must have fell asleep a couple of hours ago. Yah Tao! Kung Fu Panda sucks!”

That seems to wake up Zitao, who scowls, “Shut up. You don’t appreciate pandas.”

Junmyeon laughs and hands Zitao his cup, “Pandas are a little useless.”

“No they are cute.”

“Lean mean lady killing machine Huang Zitao finds pandas cute, go figure,” Jongdae grins.

“Do you want a special hot coffee bath ge?” Zitao warns.

Junmyeon laughs and thinks how much Zitao and Jongdae remind him of Kyungsoo and Seokjin—constant bickering but he can tell they do adore each other just as much. He opens the paper bag in his hand and says, “Since it is only seven in the morning, the canteen only had croissants on sale. Will this do?”

“Gee hyung, anything right now would do,” Jongdae says as he dips his hand inside the bag, “Thank you for bringing us food!”

Jongdae’s phone rings. He picks it up and talks for a while. He puts it down and says, “That was noona, she says we need to take Kris-ge home. There might be complications later on.”

“Yeah,” Zitao swallows, “We cannot have Yura-sshi facing any difficulties because of us.”

When they are done eating their impromptu breakfast, the three head inside. They enter Yifan’s room to find the man on his feet. He says, “We gotta go right?”

Jongdae nods his head. Zitao asks, “But where do we go? I don’t think going back to Seoul is a smart idea.”

“I don’t plan on hiding Tao,” Yifan scowls.

“Ge,” Jongdae says, “We need to come up with a better plan before we can counterattack. Staying in our safe house would be a good idea to formulate. Plus, we can inform Lu-ge to come over.”

At the mention of Luhan’s name, Yifan’s face darkens. He says, “Yeah, we need to call Luhan. I need to see him.”

 

No one explicitly asks Junmyeon to stay with them but Jongdae drags him along to their safe house (that beautiful riverfront property) and then to the closest grocery store. So now he stands at the dairy aisle thinking if he should buy ice cream or a litre of whiskey because what has he gotten himself into? Maybe he will just buy a truckload of peach iced tea.

When they returned and were stocking the refrigerator, Junmyeon’s phone rings. He frowns at the caller name. He picks it up anyway, “Hello?”

Taekwoon says, “Can we meet? I need that evidence box back.”

Oh fuck, due to all the drama yesterday, Junmyeon had completely forgotten about that. He says, “Yes. Uh, can you come to my place? Say in three hours? I am at my…cousin’s place right now.”

“Okay. Text me your address.”

“Okay.”

Junmyeon disconnects the call and messages Taekwoon his address. Jongdae quietly says, “You lied.”

“Huh?” Junmyeon turns his head to look at Jongdae.

“You lied to whoever you were talking to. You said you were at your cousin’s place.”

“Well,” Junmyeon scratches his neck, “I know I can’t betray Yifan like that.”

“Thank you hyung,” Jongdae touches Junmyeon’s elbow, “Someone should go with you. I don’t think it is safe for you to go on your own.”

“Nah, I will be fine.”

“I don’t think so,” Zitao enters the kitchen, he has heard what Jongdae had said, “Chen-ge is right. I am pretty sure Kang Daesung knows where you live. He can come after you if you are on your own.”

Junmyeon sighs. There is never any arguing with the Huang Zitao Protective Service, he has learned his lesson from the last time. He briskly nods.

An hour and thirty minutes later Junmyeon is unlocking the door to his apartment, and the emptiness is weird. He has lived here for the last three years and this had to be the first time he is isn’t greeted by Suho. Zitao enters before him and opens all the doors to do a thorough check. Junmyeon idles by the kitchen. When Zitao’s done, he says, “All clear.” Junmyeon nods. “I will be at the car. Call me when you are done. Don’t wanna be around any detectives.” Junmyeon nods again as he watches Zitao leave. The tall Chinese man is a lot different than how he appears to be, he has learnt that in the last twelve hours.

He opens the shelf and sees the box where he kept it. He brings it down and blows on the thin layer of dust that had accumulated on top of it. He sits down at his dining table and opens it. There are five files and a small green notebook. He pulls out the notebook first. He opens it and recognises the handwriting immediately. It is Amber’s handwriting. He flips through it and his eyes fall on a page where Amber had written four questions—

-where is Bang Yongguk?

-why has been Jung Daehyun’s death signed off as a B and E gone wrong? Who took his body?

-why is no one investigating Kim Himchan’s mysterious death? Why are pages of his autopsy report missing?

-who killed Yoo Youngjae and Moon Jongup? Why was Youngjae frozen prior? What did that death mean? Who was the receiver of that message?

Junmyeon frowns when he reads further—

-Bang Yongguk, 26, T. A. at Korea National University of Art, missing (considered deceased?).

-Jung Daehyun, 22, graduated from Korea National University of Art, dead.

-Kim Himchan, 26, worked as a temp at KNUA, dead.

-Yoo Youngjae, 21, music student at KNUA, dead.

-Moon Jongup, 21, dance student at KNUA, dead.

*what is the connection?

Junmyeon frowns. They were all from the same university. He grabs the five files inside the box. He opens them all and lays them out on his table. He nods his head when he realises he thought right. None of the reports mentioned the university’s name besides the Yoo Youngjae and Moon Jongup ones. So Amber found out about this herself. Then if that is so, these deaths were not isolated incidents. That means they all have the same killer. Junmyeon reads some more from the notebook—

-Bang Yongguk and Kim Himchan were friends. A student from the university confirmed. They were often seen hanging out together.

-Daehyun was a senior to Yoo and Moon. They were often seen studying together in the library.

-Yoo and Moon were close buddies.

-Daehyun, Moon and Yoo were apparently close to Yongguk and Himchan. There was another kid named Choi Junhong who later joined this group. Hasn’t been seen ever since Yongguk’s disappearance. Dead?

Junmyeon breathes heavily. And here he thought those deaths were nothing else than mindless violence that had nothing to do with each other. So, this means someone killed all the men at the university and that someone killed all those people at Blockbuster as well. The total body count being nine victims so far. But what do three students, two university staff members and a club owner and his brother have in common?

He decides to take a shower before Taekwoon arrives. He is done in a few minutes and is rubbing his wet hair when there is a discreet knock at his door. He spreads his wet towel on a chair and peers through the peephole. It is the detective. He opens the door and smiles, “Welcome Taekwoon-sshi.”

Taekwoon nods and enters. The visual of a wet-haired Junmyeon is something he pointedly ignores. He is here for work. Not to stare at Kim Junmyeon. And add fuel to the stupid crush he was developing.

Junmyeon points him to the dining table. He says, “I was reading through these. There are some interesting connections. Do you want something to drink? I was going to make myself some tea.”

“Tea will do,” Taekwoon mutters even though he is more of a coffee person. He sees the opened notebook and picks it up. He already knows the contents because Amber had shared some of her findings with him. But he thinks it is a better option to stare at words than stare at Junmyeon busy making tea for them. That doesn’t cover the covert glances he keeps sneaking in between.

Junmyeon is done. He places a cup in front of Taekwoon which has the latter looking up. Junmyeon beams at him, “I didn’t add any sugar. Here,” he places a small bowl of sugar cubes on the table, “Since I don’t know how much sugar you take.”

Taekwoon thinks Junmyeon smiles too much. He nods and picks up one sugar cube. He drops it into the hot liquid and stirs. He clears his throat, “So what do you think?”

“None of them are isolated homicides for sure,” Junmyeon says, “But…this isn’t a serial killer is it? It is someone who only had a grudge against these students. But what can three students, two university staff members and a club owner and his brother have in common?”

Taekwoon sips his tea. He tastes ginger in it. He says, “The Woo brothers were not only club owners. They also had a thriving drug trade on the side. And go read Himchan’s file.”

Junmyeon picks up said file and reads it. He frowns when he sees that Kim Himchan worked some nights at Blockbuster. Suddenly he gets it, “Wait, do you mean to say that maybe the five of them were drug pushers?”

“Won’t be surprising. A lot of students take to pushing drugs on the side. And most of the time, dealers themselves target these students. I am thinking Kim Himchan was the dealer. He might have enlisted the other four.”

Junmyeon nods, “Yes. That is possible. Kim Himchan could have taken a job there for this purpose—a college would be a hotbed of students desperate for some loose and easy cash on the side. Plus, his file mentions he mostly did odd jobs. Keep a normal job while dealt narcotics on the side?”

“Exactly. Himchan could have been Zico’s direct subordinate.”

The name Zico jostles Junmyeon. He asks, “Zico?”

“That was Woo Jiho’s street name.”

Junmyeon says nothing as his brain whirs. The world was really such a small place.

Junmyeon frowns when he realises something else, “But, why is the PD not investigating further? There is only you working on them. And there was Amber.”

Taekwoon scowls. He fights with himself for a while as he sips his drink. He decides to trust Junmyeon. He says, “What I am about to say is my own opinion, and I think Amber might have figured it out too, but you need to keep this a secret.” Junmyeon nods, his eyes widening. “The Homicide Department is corrupted Junmyeon-sshi. And Choi Siwon is the sitting in the middle of this cesspool.”

Junmyeon gasps, “Is this why you told me not to trust him? But how do you know?”

“This isn’t the first time that Siwon had covered up crimes. Ever since he had been promoted, he had been making files disappear. No one can tell. But I got suspicious about him six months ago when a drug bust went very wrong in Yongsan. Not only where there no arrests, there was no paper trail of the incidence which had a few dead bodies. I know all this because I have contacts in Yongsan. Then I thought to myself, who could have the power, and authority, do something like this? Only the chief.”

Junmyeon mouth drops as he processes all that he heard. He mutters, “I think my boss stole my reports.”

“Seung-hyun?” Taekwoon frowns.

Junmyeon nods, “My report on the Seocho-dong murders went missing. I had stepped out for a while and when I returned I saw my boss in my office. I did find that a bit weird considering that my boss never would have waited in my office. He would have sent me a cryptic message instead of waiting for me. Amber has written in her notebook that some of my reports have gone missing. That would mean my boss is involved as well, right?” His blood runs cold and he hopes Taekwoon refutes his conclusion. He doesn’t want to think that his eccentric yet amiable boss is corrupted as well.

But Taekwoon slowly nods his head, “That would make sense…It would make sense that those two would work together to cover up crimes.”

Junmyeon frowns, “Why do you say that?”

“Choi Siwon and Choi Seung-hyun are cousins.”

 

Junmyeon returns to Yeoju with Zitao. Again, he felt like he was just going with the flow. It is like someone suspended him on a stream of choices and he had no power to choose the direction. He gives up. Also, love has people doing silly things.

So he packs another small overnight bag and lets Zitao drive. He also sends a quick text to Seokjin, then switches his phone off because he knows his dear cousin, with his intentions in the right place, will call him up and tell him why this was a bad idea. Thank you, but Junmyeon knows. He doesn’t want anyone else reminding him.

He lets Zitao pick a radio channel as he leans back and mulls over all the information he had received. He side-eyes Zitao beside him. He clears his throat and asks, “Say, this Zico person you mentioned, did he own a club or something?”

Zitao briefly glances at him. He nods his head, “Yeah. He owned a club named Blockbuster. Why?”

“He and his brother died recently.”

“Yeah, I know.”

“I was at the crime scene.”

“Oh?”

Zitao wonders what that conversation was about. But Junmyeon doesn’t offer any other explanation. 

 

They stop at the grocery store again and Junmyeon buys a few things. They return home in another hour, it is nearly lunchtime. They enter the house to find a pouty Jongdae crying (he was waiting for them, sitting patiently at the foot of the stairs), “I am hungry Taozi!”

Zitao rolls his eyes, “This is why I keep telling you to learn cooking.”

“But you told me not to cook for the sake of world peace!”

“Right, I forgot about that time you set our rice cooker on fire. I am so tired of cooking for you.”

Junmyeon says, hesitatingly, “I can cook today if you want.”

“Yay!” Jongdae claps, “Can you cook kimchi fried rice? Taozi only cooks Chinese fried rice. My taste buds are bored.”

Zitao glares at Jongdae while Junmyeon grins, “Yeah I do know.”

Jongdae beams. Zitao rolls his eyes again, “Let me help. How is Kris-ge doing?”

Jongdae’s smile drops. He presses his lips, “I don’t know. I heard him telling Luhan to come here. Ever since that call ended, it is like a dark cloud of doom and gloom descended on him.”

Junmyeon raises his eyebrows, “So do I cook for Luhan-sshi too?”

“That won’t be necessary,” a deep voice grumbles from the top of the stairs. They all look up to find Yifan scowling down at them, “He will come by the evening.”

“Okay,” Junmyeon says and his eyes meet with Yifan’s. It is like Yifan’s hard gaze softens momentarily, the Kris mask slips. But in a few heartbeats, the Kris mask is back on again. Junmyeon tears his gaze away and heads to the kitchen. Yifan goes back to his bedroom.

Jongdae and Zitao saw the entire thing. Jongdae says, “Don’t you think that around hyung ge forgets he is Kris?”

“I don’t know ge,” Zitao shakes his head, “But one has to be blind to not see this weird thing, whatever that is, between them.”

Zitao heads for the kitchen, with Jongdae in tow who proclaims that he wants to help. Zitao is going to make sure Jongdae touches nothing.

It doesn’t take too long to cook up four portions of kimchi fried rice. Junmyeon is frying four eggs when Yifan enters the dining room. Zitao and Jongdae carry the food when the eggs are done with Junmyeon entering with a glass of iced tea for himself. Yifan eyes it and smirks inwardly.

Junmyeon says, “I hope you like my cooking.”

“You are an excellent cook,” Yifan says, his words slipping out without his permission.

Junmyeon looks at him, his heart swelling at the praise. Yifan looks up and Junmyeon’s beaming smile aimed at him knocks his breath out. Junmyeon hasn’t smiled like that at him in a while. The smile he once treasured. He tears his gaze away as Junmyeon takes a seat.

Jongdae takes a big spoonful and chews happily. He swallows and says, “Wow, hyung! You are good at this!”

Zitao nudges Junmyeon, who had taken the seat beside him, with his elbow. He lowers his voice, “Give me the recipe one day.”

Junmyeon smiles and nods his head.

Yifan eats and he feels like the way he felt when Junmyeon was caressing his head last night. Home tasted like this to him. He also notices how Zitao and Junmyeon had grown closer to each other. He knew Zitao intimidated Junmyeon, but now they were whispering and smiling at each other. Yet again, Junmyeon makes another friend. It is an amazing quality.

Zitao says to Junmyeon when he remembers all of a sudden, “Can I ask why you were asking about Zico in the car today?”

“Zico?” Jongdae asks, his spoon stopping halfway to his mouth, “The recently deceased club owner and drug kingpin?”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon says, realising that Yifan was looking at him in askance, “A string of murders is connected with the Woo brothers’ death.”

“What do you mean?” Yifan finally breaks his silence as curiosity takes over.

“A few people from the Korea National University of Arts are dead. They were murdered. Bullets from the crime scene at the club and at another crime scene matched,” Junmyeon says.

“A serial killer?” Zitao asks.

“No, we, I mean me and detective Jung, we don’t think so. The killer only targeted a select few people. Serial killers usually connect their victims on a psychological level. This was not like that,” Junmyeon explains.

The name of the university lights a bulb in Yifan’s mind, “Korea National University of Arts? Can you tell me the names of the victims from the college?” That is the college Zelo goes to. He develops a hunch.

“Uh, it is not exactly secret information. The victims so far discovered are Jung Daehyun, Kim Himchan, Yoo Youngjae and Moon Jongup. There are other two who are missing—Bang Yongguk and Choi Junhong.”

The names mentioned by Junmyeon surprised all three of them—Yifan, Jongdae and Zitao. They share a look which doesn’t go unnoticed by Junmyeon. He says as realisation dawns on him, “You guys know something don’t you?”

Yifan curtly nods. His hunch was right.

 

Luhan is staring at the ceiling. It has been an hour since Yifan called. It has been thirty-six hours since Minseok has been home. They hadn’t talked much. He had told Yifan he would come by later in the day. Yifan had his Kris voice going on. Luhan feels a bit scared, but hey, he knew this day was coming. He will be lying if he says he hadn’t prepared himself for this day.

He gets up from the couch on which he had been vegetating. He knocks on the bedroom door. A small voice says, “Come in, it is open.”

Luhan pushes open the door. Minseok is sitting up on the bed, a magazine in hand. Luhan comes over and sits down opposite Minseok. He says, “My punishment hour is here.”

Minseok doesn’t understand at first. But when he does, the magazine drops from his hand and he gasps, “Kris knows?”

Luhan says, “Most probably.”

Minseok blinks. Suddenly tears pool in his eyes and run down his cheeks. He throws himself in Luhan’s arms, who doesn’t waste any more time in crushing Minseok to his chest. Minseok sobs, “No, no, no.”

“There is no getting out of it,” Luhan sighs as he rubs Minseok’s back, “That is the code of conduct in our world. You don’t stab your allies. You don’t fuck with your own kind.”

“No, no, I cannot—you don’t have to go!” Minseok pulls back, “We can leave. Run far away from here.”

“Kris will find me even if I am hiding in hell,” Luhan cups Minseok’s face. His heart bleeds knowing he won’t see this face again: the beautiful eyes and the perfect lips and the glorious smile. He wipes the tears and kisses a cheek. His lips travel from there to Minseok’s lips and he presses hard.

Minseok responds, but his lips are trembling. More tears flow, mixing with the kiss and Luhan tastes the salt and sadness. Minseok pulls back and mutters, “Please. Don’t kiss me like this is the last time. Maybe it is about something else.”

Luhan gives half a smile and kisses Minseok again. He pushes until Minseok is lying on his back. He trails kisses all over Minseok’s face and neck as his hand slips under the latter’s shirt. He comes up and locks his gaze with Minseok, “Who knows. But, I want you know something. I love you and if I can kill for you, I can die for you as well.”

Minseok wanted to tell him to throw his romantic ideology out the window but is silenced when Luhan dives in for another searing kiss. Luhan kisses him with depth and passion and he cannot stop himself from crying. He keeps wishing desperately that Luhan is wrong and he will return to him. But he knows how this world works. He has seen loss but he is not prepared for this.

Minseok threads his fingers through Luhan’s hair and kisses back fervently. He conveys his apology and love through it. Luhan breaks off for air. They press their foreheads and their chests heave.

There are more than a million words that could be used, but right now, Luhan and Minseok stare at each other in silence, their eyes speaking what their voices cannot.

Chapter Text

The food was finished; the dishes were done but Junmyeon wasn’t. He sat all them down in the living room and says, “Tell me.”

Yifan, Zitao and Jongdae share a look. They all asked each other through their glance just how much should they trust Junmyeon. After all, Junmyeon is on the right side of the law. They aren’t. Laws were made to stop people like them, they were also made to be broken by them. Maybe Junmyeon understood their silent argument. He says, “Remember something, I am not a cop. I am an assistant medical examiner. I am not officially involved with the investigation. In simple terms, I just…cut up dead bodies, for the lack of a better word. What happens after that is none of my business.”

Yifan frowns, “Then why are you interested?”

“Because,” Junmyeon gulps, “I think Amber died because of this.” He locks his gaze with Yifan.

Yifan is a bit taken aback. He sees the deep determination in Junmyeon’s eyes. He thinks of all the days he spent with Junmyeon. He owes Junmyeon this much. Junmyeon drops his gaze and starts twisting his fingers in his lap. Yifan, by now, knows that little gesture means that Junmyeon is antsy, nervous or unsure. Yifan says, “Do you know anything about the drug bust that happened in Yongsan six months ago?”

Junmyeon frowns, “No, not really.” All he knows about said incident is what Taekwoon had told him, which wasn’t much to begin with.

This time Zitao frowns, “What do you mean no, not really? People died, there was a shootout. Kris-ge and Lu-ge nearly died. There must have been some bodies, right?”

Junmyeon stares at Zitao, “No. Wait, can you tell me the exact date? I do autopsy a lot of bodies.”

Jongdae raises an eyebrow, “You have a creepy job.’

“All thanks to you all,” Junmyeon deadpans.

Yifan starts laughing. That kind of surprises everyone—Jongdae was pouting at Junmyeon, who still had that impassive expression while Zitao was trying to dredge out the exact date from his memory. Jongdae and Junmyeon forget their staring battle and Zitao’s concentration is rudely disturbed. Yifan is laughing so much that there are tears at the corner of his eyes. However, Junmyeon can hear the bitterness and the cynicism behind it. He says, “Yifan, stop.”

That stops Yifan who stares straight at Junmyeon, all ill-gotten mirth forgotten. Junmyeon doesn’t flinch when the Kris mask slips on. He stares just as strongly back. He knows Yifan is trying to drive him away, he is trying to intimidate. And Yifan knows that Junmyeon is communicating just how much he won’t.

Yifan had laughed at Junmyeon’s little joke, because finally the latter had acknowledged what he truly is. He holds his stance because he wanted Junmyeon to understand, that Junmyeon should take his newfound enlightenment and leave him be. Junmyeon doesn’t have to care for him, run his fingers through his hair or cook for him. He knows what he is and he doesn’t deserve all that Junmyeon does for him.

Junmyeon doesn’t know all that. But he gets why Yifan laughed at his little statement. Fine, he acknowledged Yifan’s reality. But all that he had learnt about Yifan made it impossible for him to give up. Something about loving the sinner and not the sin?

Jongdae and Zitao alternate looking between the two males in their personal match of glaring. Jongdae scoots closer to Zitao. He leans closer and whispers, “What is this weird energy?”

Zitao shakes his head. Yeah, he felt it too. Yifan had his Kris mask on, challenging Junmyeon to encroach. While Junmyeon held his gaze steadily, with a stern determination simmering underneath. They were seated opposite each other and Zitao wonders if it was possible to harness fire out of the friction in the room. He coughs loudly, “Uh, I remember the date.”

Junmyeon hears him. Even though he doesn’t want to be the first person to break away, he still does. He can play his mental tug-of-war with Yifan later. He focuses his attention on Zitao who continues, “It was the second of September of last year.”

Junmyeon narrows his eyes and thinks if he had any extra work to do that day. He says, “No. There were no bodies from Yongsan. I work the day shift, but sometimes if there are shootout victims, I would be called in and work overtime. I remember something about September second…” his eyes widen when he does, “My boss closed the morgue the next day, saying something about a chemical spill…” he gasps when the puzzle pieces align themselves, “Shit.”

Jongdae asks, “What is it?”

“Nothing. But, what has this got to do with the murders?” He waves Jongdae off, mentally taking a note to inform Taekwoon about this.

“All the dead guys you named were involved in the shootout,” Zitao says.

“And Bang Yongguk is dead,” Yifan says, his voice solemn. Junmyeon looks back at him, he continues, “Remember the day we met again for the first time in a decade?” Junmyeon narrows his eyes, like he can ever forget that day. His life turned upside down since that fateful day. “That was Bang Yongguk on your table.”

Junmyeon gasps, “What?”

Yifan nods and gets up, “Stay away from all this Junmyeon. Those deaths were not just a personal grudge. I can tell you this—their deaths were sanctioned by Kang Daesung, and you shouldn’t go against him.” He fists his hands and pointedly stares at Junmyeon. “He will kill you.” Then he leaves not wanting Junmyeon to see how the very thought of Junmyeon dying affected Yifan. His heart clenches painfully and he wants to stop his mind from creating scenarios where he stands to lose Junmyeon.

After Yifan leaves, Jongdae says, “Ge is right. Don’t go against the big boss. Remember he tried to kill ge thrice. And he knows where you live.”

Zitao agrees as he nods his head. Junmyeon stands up and excuses himself. He plans to relay everything to Taekwoon. He goes out through the back door and walks barefoot on the expansive backyard.

Yeoju had temperate climate so the backyard had a row of beech trees with naked branches, but on closer inspection one could see new, green leaves budding. The river could be seen behind it. There is even a lime tree which is completely bare but there would be new leaves soon and then the first rain will bear round, sour, yellow-green fruit. There is tufts of thick carpeted shrubbery thriving under the shadows of the bigger trees. Then there are small patches of purple, white and blue flowers dotting the greenery. Junmyeon takes a deep breath and thinks that he could totally live here, in nature’s beautiful bounty.

He pulls out his phone and dials Taekwoon’s number. The detective picks it up in four rings, “Hello.”

The detective sounded tired, so Junmyeon asks, “Did I disturb you?”

“No,” there is the sound of paper rustling, “I fell asleep on my desk. Why did you call?”

Junmyeon presses his lips. Rude Taekwoon is back. He says, “Well, I learnt something…”

Junmyeon tells Taekwoon what he has learnt. He edits a bit for obvious reasons. He attributed his source as a contact in Yongsan PD (Taekwoon thinks it must be that impossible woman at the Yongsan morgue, so he grumbles). When Junmyeon is done, he sighs, “So Choi Seung-hyun is involved. I thought…”

Taekwoon rubs his face. He can see Junmyeon’s crestfallen face in his mind. He erases that image before saying, “I don’t know who or what they are protecting. But yes, we can confirm now with no doubts that Choi Siwon and Choi Seung-hyun are very much involved.”

Junmyeon nods and shuts his eyes. Now he realises why Siwon sent him to Yongsan all those days ago—Siwon wanted him to give him the report so Siwon could make it disappear. But Yifan managed to get there first. Why did his nice, stable life turn out to be like this? He doesn’t deserve this. He opens his eyes and says, “Anyway, I got to go. Take care of yourself Taekwoon-sshi.”

Taekwoon just grumbles and disconnects trying to ignore the concern in Junmyeon’s voice. he doesn’t need anyone’s concern. He can take care of himself, thank you very much.

Junmyeon shakes his head at his phone. He walks on the grass, enjoying the feeling of the earth under his feet. He enjoys the wind that picks up and has his hair dancing in it. What he doesn’t notice is the figure standing at the back door with a grimace on his face.

 

Yifan had entered the kitchen for a glass of water when he saw the back door open. He walks over to close it when he sees Junmyeon in the backyard, his phone pressed to his ear. Then he hears Junmyeon say, “Anyway, I got to go. Take care of yourself Taekwoon-sshi.”

His heart thumps loudly in his ribcage when he notes the concern in Junmyeon’s voice. Taekwoon. Was he the guy that Yifan spotted with Junmyeon in that café? He tries remembering the face. The man was tall, and handsome. He was dressed in a clean, black suit. He looked respectable. Nothing like Yifan. The man probably had a nice, stable, normal job. Someone who wouldn’t jeopardise Junmyeon.

He watches Junmyeon walk away, farther in the backyard and he ducks inside the kitchen again. He leans on the kitchen counter and bites down on his lips. He tries to delete this heaviness he feels. This strange feeling that coils around him, burning his skin, where he wants to find whoever Taekwoon is and smash his face. Who is he and why does he deserve Junmyeon’s concern?

You and me are nothing.

Junmyeon’s voice echoes in his skull. Right. He shuts his eyes and tries to get his heart to calm down. He opens the refrigerator and gets himself a small water bottle. He finished its contents in one gulp. The bottle gets mercilessly crushed in his grip as he tells himself over and over again: nothing, nothing at all.

 

Choi Seung-hyun notes how Junmyeon hadn’t come today. He had seen Taekwoon and Junmyeon leaving Amber’s funeral venue together. According to Siwon, Jung Taekwoon worked closely with Amber. And Amber was Junmyeon’s friend. So Seung-hyun is a bit worried. He unlocks his phone and enters his office.

Kang Daesung picks his phone in three rings. He sing-songs, “Well, hello cousin, what has you calling me at this hour?”

“I have been thinking,” Seung-hyun locks his door and sits down on the chair behind his desk, “Jiyong died in Junmyeon’s apartment and you said Yifan had his memory back. But Junmyeon hasn’t been in today. Did you do something?”

“No. But your favourite employee is AWOL? Interesting…”

Seung-hyun frowns. Yes, Junmyeon is his favourite. He admires Junmyeon’s intelligence. And that is why he doesn’t want Junmyeon to get into any kind of trouble, or worse, die. He asks, “What is so interesting?”

“Yifan is not in the city anymore either. Isn’t that funny?”

Seung-hyun sees the connection but he doesn’t find it funny. He says, “Please don’t hurt Junmyeon. He has nothing to do with me, you or Junnie.”

“But he has everything to do with Yifan.”

“No. Keep your hatred for Yifan away from all this. I don’t want any more people to die Daesung-ah.”

There is overdrawn silence on the other end, which has Seung-hyun thinking if Daesung had hung up or something. But then Daesung says, all amusement gone, “You would know how personal I can get hyung.” This time Daesung hangs up for real.

Seung-hyun stares at the phone in his hand. He closes his eyes and sighs. If he didn’t owe Daesung his and Junhong’s life, he wouldn’t be here, begging for Junmyeon’s life and keeping his half-brother away from the hands of criminal law and justice. Because Junhong won’t be able to handle that.

He thinks of the night nineteen years ago. His mother had passed a year since. He was seven years old when his father comes home with Daesung’s mother, Ga-in, and a small infant bundled in his arms. He later learns that it is his brother. When he sees the small, pink human all wrapped in the softest white blanket, he knows he already loves his brother. They leave Seoul after that and go live in a small town. He didn’t understand why aunty Ga-in, his mother’s cousin, lives with them but when he sees his father’s behaviour around Ga-in, he finds himself asking, “Aunty, why does dad hug you like he hugged my mother?”

Ga-in had smiled and said, “Your father loves me. Does Hyunnie love me?”

Seung-hyun had nodded his head furiously. Ga-in cupped his face and kissed his forehead. She was crying when she said, “Hyunnie, promise your aunty you will always protect Junhong. He is your little brother, you need to love him and watch over him always.”

Seung-hyun had offered her his pinkie finger and promised her that he would, always.

Then that night came. He was eleven and Junhong was four. He had received permission from his parents that he could stay over his friend’s house that night. When he came home next morning to see a young Junhong curled up between the cold, bloody corpses of his father and aunt, he didn’t know what to do. Then Junhong had woken up to realise his hyung was back. He started crying and Seung-hyun had picked him up. He didn’t understand why his parents were dead. But he remembered his promise.

Two days later, a ten-year-old Daesung arrived at the foster home with his father. They offered Seung-hyun a home minus Junhong. He refused when Junhong started crying and hid behind his leg. He realised that Yunhyeong scared Junhong. He would never live under the protection of a man like that. He never liked his uncle very much either. The social worker handling their case agreed.

A few months later, his father’s long-distance cousin, Choi Min-ho came for them. This time he agreed because Min-ho and his son Siwon did not scare Junhong.

Then three years ago, Daesung finds him again. He tells him the truth behind that night fourteen years ago. It was Yunhyeong who had killed Ga-in and his father. He also tells him that Junhong was the illegitimate child of Ga-in and his father. That all those years ago his mother ran away with Seung-hyun’s father to save themselves. That it was on Daesung’s insistence that Yunhyeong spared Junhong’s life. Something about making Junhong lose his mother like the way Daesung lost his mother to Junhong.

Life had changed since then. Suddenly he found himself, alongwith Siwon, embroiled with the underworld. Siwon agreed because he wanted to be promoted and Seung-hyun accepted because of Junhong.

Junhong has dissociative identity disorder, and Seung-hyun couldn’t afford the immense medication and consultation expenses without Daesung funding him.

The thought of his brother saddens Seung-hyun. Junhong spent twelve hours laid out in the blood of his parents. To cope with the trauma, Junhong created his Zelo identity. This came into the fore when Junhong turned sixteen, right about the time Daesung contacted him again. When his usually peaceful, harmless, sweet-natured brother started getting into fights and not remembering them, Seung-hyun knew he was no longer okay. Then the doctors confirmed his worst fear.

But Junhong started doing okay with his medicines. He got into college. Then he ran into that crowd of drug pushers. Who could have known those bastards would figure out Junhong and Daesung’s connections and use Junhong’s condition to get their way? And then Daesung used Junhong to get back at all of them. Junhong is a harmless boy but Zelo wanted to inflict pain on everybody he hated.

Sometimes Seung-hyun would cry in the silence of the night, his heart bleeding for his brother. How he cannot drag themselves away because Daesung can destroy him and Siwon in a blink of an eye. If he is done for, how will he protect Junhong? So he covered up all the crimes with Siwon’s help.

And now, the winds of change were coming. It will blow furiously and uproot everything. Seung-hyun knows it is time. But he has to make sure Junhong gets out of this destruction unscathed. He will see to that. Even if he has to go against the mighty Kang Daesung himself.

 

The bell rings. The three of them—Yifan, Jongdae and Zitao—were congregated at the living room. Jongdae swivels his head, “That must be Lu-ge!” He stands up to receive Luhan.

He returns soon after with Luhan in tow. Junmyeon was in his room, but he comes out when he hears the bell ringing and sees Luhan, who seems surprised at first but then smiles sadly at Junmyeon. Junmyeon doesn’t understand the smile on Luhan’s face but he bows his head. He doesn’t think it is his place to enter their meeting but curiosity the cat rears its furry head at Junmyeon, so he sits down on the top of the stairs. The living room wasn’t too far from it. If they talked normally enough, he could hear them.

Yifan looks up sharply when Luhan enters. He stands up and walks closer to Luhan who meets his gaze, with his heart dropping to his knees. He doesn’t see it, but he feels it when Yifan’s fist connects with his jaw. His head snaps back and he ends up biting his tongue. Blood fills his mouth and he sways backwards, not falling down because Jongdae holds him up. Jongdae shouts, “What the fuck ge?” Blood and saliva trickle down his chin as he realises that this is it. He is glad he got to hold and kiss Minseok one last time.

Zitao comes to stand behind Yifan, feeling skittish and ready to stop Yifan if he feels like hitting Luhan again. Yifan growls, “Tell them Luhan! Tell them how you stabbed Yixing!”

Zitao gasps, so does Jongdae as he removes his hands. On the stairs outside Junmyeon claps his hand over his mouth to stop from gasping out loud. Back in the living room, Luhan looks down at his feet as fat tears roll down his cheeks. So this is how it all ends.

Zitao asks, “Ge, what are you talking about?”

“You said that the wound was created by a slim blade right?” Yifan looks over his shoulder. Zitao nods. “Guess who used to carry a stiletto knife as his signature weapon?” He pointedly glares at Luhan, his entire body shaking in repressed anger. Sweat breaks out on his temple and he pants.

Jongdae shakes Luhan, “Ge, what the fuck is Kris-ge talking about? Tell me this isn’t true! Why would you kill Lay-ge? He was your friend! You wouldn’t kill him! Ge!”

Luhan clasps Jongdae’s hands and looks at the younger. The tears and the broken look in his eyes tells Jongdae everything as he snatches his hands away from Luhan’s grip. He walks away and presses his back against the wall, “No, no, no.”

“Daesung told me,” Yifan says, his neck feels hot now, “Before he left me bleeding on the floor, he told me. I thought I was hallucinating. But then I remembered what Chen said about Jiyong not choosing to stab people. You prefered stabbing. You don’t like the loud report of guns. Then I asked around, send Minhyuk to check if you were indeed in Gurim when you said you were. Guess what, you weren’t! You never left Seoul!” He rushes forward and grabs Luhan’s neck. He pushes Luhan against the wall and shouts in his face, “How could you kill Yixing!”

Luhan finally breaks his silence, “He would have killed Minseok!” He feels the pressure on his throat decrease as Yifan frowns.

Jongdae whispers, “Xiumin-ge?” He uses Minseok’s previously used street name.

Luhan nods, “I am with him. He left the crew because I asked him to choose between the crew and me.”

Zitao thinks to himself how Yixing hid his relationship and now Luhan too. Thank goodness he only does one night stands. However, he feels upset at all that he is learning.

“What do you mean you had to kill Yixing because of Minseok?” Yifan asks.

“Daesung threatened to kill Minseok if I didn’t kill Yixing,” Luhan sobs, “Yixing got to know that Daesung wanted to kill you. I don’t know what Daesung’s plans are but he wanted Yixing removed.”

“So he used you,” Yifan says. But then he increases the pressure around Luhan’s neck, “You betrayed us Luhan. All for one person. You killed your friend!”

A spark flashes in his soul. Luhan grabs Yifan’s shirt and screams, “Wouldn’t you do anything for the one you love? I would do anything for Minseok! So kill me if you have to! You would know Yifan if you knew love!”

Yifan hand drops as his eye widen. His vision is blurring now at the corners but his anger seeps out when he shouts, “Leave you fucking coward! Love is for weaklings like you!” He calms down and moves back. He takes a few deep breaths and controls his emotions. He says, in a steady, voice, “Go and never show your fucking face in front of me again.”

Luhan realises that Yifan spared him. But this is what he didn’t expect. He feels more like a criminal now. He sees how Jongdae and Zitao and Yifan shun him, their gazes unforgiving. Jongdae is crying but he can see the hurt and betrayal in his eyes. Zitao crosses his arms and glares, his hatred and disappointment rolling out in waves. But Yifan’s expression kills him inside. Yifan looks calm even through the fine film of sweat on his face. Luhan can tell Yifan has already given up on him, that Yifan won’t involve himself anymore, that Yifan only has apathy for Luhan. To Yifan, Luhan is already dead.

Luhan backs away and leaves through the door, ignoring a shocked Junmyeon on the stairs. He runs outside. To Yifan, to the man who saved him and gave him a second chance at life, Luhan was dead. He opens his car and sit down on the driver’s seat. The tears keep flowing as he feels like he lost everything—the sky over his head, the ground beneath his feet and the love and friendship he used to treasure so much. The guilt tears him apart inside. The hatred he feels for himself poisons his blood.

He puts his head on the steering wheel and brings out his phone. He dials Minseok’s number, his decision already taken. Minseok picks it up in one ring, “Lu? Are you okay?”

Luhan sobs, “No. Minseokkie? I love you so, so much.”

“Luhan what are—” Luhan cuts off Minseok’s alarmed voice as he disconnects and he unlocks the glove compartment. He kept his only-for-emergencies gun there.

 

Inside the house, as soon as Luhan runs out, Yifan sways and Zitao holds him in time before the taller hit the floor. Jongdae shouts, “Ge! Junmyeon-hyung!”

Junmyeon is right there on the top of the stairs. He runs down and barges into the living room. Yifan had fainted. Zitao looks up, “He is burning hyung!”

Junmyeon kneels beside and touches Yifan’s forehead. He says, “Shit, his fever’s back. Can you carry him upstairs Tao?”

Tao nods and is about to pick his ge up when a loud gunshot rings outside. They all look at each other. Jongdae gets to his feet, “Lu-ge!” He runs out of the living room. Zitao and Junmyeon hear the front door slamming.

Junmyeon whispers, his voice shaky, “Did Luhan-sshi…”

Zitao gulps and his jaw hardens, “He couldn’t live with himself hyung.”

Jongdae returns after a few minutes. Zitao and Junmyeon were upstairs in Yifan’s room. They rush downstairs when they hear the front door opening and closing. Junmyeon and Zitao halt in their tracks when they take in Jongdae’s appearance. He is crying and there is dirt on his knees. Junmyeon rushes forward and holds Jongdae before the latter sunk to the ground. Junmyeon strokes his back as he whimpers, “Lu-ge, he, he, shot himself…”

Zitao exhales and inhales loudly and sits down on the stairs, his head in his hand. Jongdae keeps crying into Junmyeon’s chest.

He didn’t know Luhan personally, but suddenly tears well in Junmyeon’s eyes too. The three of them lost so much. His chest swells in empathy and he silently sobs. Then he cries a little for himself.

Love is for weaklings like you!

Yifan’s words cut him like a knife. But he stomps that thought down as he tries to comfort Jongdae.

Chapter Text

Junmyeon made sure that Zitao and Jongdae went to bed after they returned somewhere after midnight, having disposed of Luhan’s body and car. They refused to eat supper and Junmyeon didn’t feel like forcing them. He stayed with Jongdae till the younger fell asleep.

It might be one in the morning now and he is getting sleepy. He yawns as he walks into Yifan’s bedroom to check up on him. He leans over the bed and places his hand on Yifan’s temple. He frowns when he feels how hot the skin is. He gets up and walks downstairs to get some cold water and a towel. He comes back and places the wet towel on Yifan’s head.

Yifan wakes up at the coldness on his head. He hadn’t been sleeping well as his temperature rose. He had felt a light brush of hand on his head but he felt too tired to open his eyes. But then he feels a cold, wet, comforting sensation on his head. He opens his eyes to find Junmyeon beside him. The latter gives him a small smile. He says, “Good, you are awake. I need to take your temperature.”

Yifan opens his mouth so Junmyeon can place a thermometer inside. Junmyeon flips the towel on his head as he waits for the thermometer to read his body temperature. Yifan stares at him through his watery vision. The room only has one light source, the lamp beside his bed. The soft yellow light falls on Junmyeon and Yifan understands why he chose to trust Junmyeon when he woke up in that hospital without his memories. There is an inherent desire to trust Junmyeon in those deep, kind eyes, soft smile and gentle face. And he knows he isn’t alone in this feeling—Jongdae and Zitao know it too, considering how fast they befriended him. Junmyeon looked tired but there is such kindness in those eyes, that Yifan feels his throat choking up.

Junmyeon taps his chin and he opens his mouth. Junmyeon takes out the thermometer and reads the digits, “Hundred one. That is manageable. A paracetamol will do.” He gets up and Yifan finds his fingers grasping Junmyeon’s wrist. It is a reflex, he thought Junmyeon was leaving him. His mind is muddled, but he knows he wants Junmyeon to stay. Junmyeon chuckles, “I am not going anywhere. I can’t give you any meds on an empty stomach. I will bring you some food. Okay?” Yifan hesitantly let go. He watches Junmyeon leave the room silently.

Junmyeon takes a shaky breath as he enters the kitchen. Why did Yifan look at him like that? He makes a small portion of porridge and returns. He pushes his confusion aside and focuses on taking care of Yifan. Yifan needs him now.

Junmyeon places the food tray on the ground and asks, “Can you sit up?”

Yifan nods. He braces himself on his elbows as he tries to pull himself up. Junmyeon helps him. When he is sitting, Junmyeon hands him the tray and waits as Yifan eats. Junmyeon bites his lips, wondering if he should give Yifan the news of Luhan’s suicide. But Yifan is not well, who knows how bad news like that will affect him. So Junmyeon holds back.

Yifan cannot eat beyond eight spoons of porridge. His mouth and stomach cannot cooperate anymore. He looks at Junmyeon, his eyebrows pulled down and his cheeks are puffed with porridge stuffed inside. He peers sheepishly through his bangs, conveying his discomfort and refusal to eat another bite to Junmyeon. The latter sighs exasperatedly at the pitiful expression and shakes his head, “Fine. I would have liked it if you ate a bit more, but okay.” He takes away the bowl and passes Yifan a water bottle. He also puts a pill in Yifan’s hand. He watches as Yifan gulps down the medicine.

Yifan and Junmyeon both feel it. The familiar domestic comfort bubble they lived in when Yifan would stay with Junmyeon. Yifan was being petulant and Junmyeon was nagging. They both share a gaze, and they can read each other’s’ expressions clearly. Junmyeon says, coughing a little, “Now, lie down.”

Yifan listens and lies back down. Junmyeon dips the towel, that had slipped off, in water and wrings the excess out. He puts the towel back on Yifan’s head and unconsciously, his fingers start threading through Yifan’s ebony locks. Yifan sighs contently as he shuts his eyes. Junmyeon is a little taken aback at that but he doesn’t comment on it.

Junmyeon thinks Yifan is falling asleep so he stops. He is about to get to his feet when Yifan murmurs, “Don’t go. Please.” Yifan opens his eyes and his tender gaze hits Junmyeon hard.

Junmyeon’s breath hitches. He shuts his eyes and inhales. He knows this is Yifan’s vulnerable moment. And come morning, Yifan will push him away, again. But, Yifan needs him. How can he refuse? Yifan may have his own views on love, but Junmyeon had his. He will do what he thinks he needs to do, no matter what. So gets to the other side of the bed, all the while knowing that Yifan was watching him closely. He lies down on his side and Yifan turns his head to look at him. Yifan says, “Thank you.”

Junmyeon smiles, “No problem.”

Yifan opens his mouth but then closes it. He isn’t too sure if Junmyeon wants to hear what he had to say. He isn’t it too sure what he wanted to say anyway. Junmyeon yawns and Yifan takes it as his cue to look away. 

 

Jung Taekwoon is smoking his second cigarette as he waits for his informant to show up. It has started to lightly rain again, something not so uncommon in this city at this time of the year. Taekwoon snubs his cigarette and ducks in the samgyeopsal stall. He orders a portion and takes a seat.

His food arrives before his informant does. A short man with bleached hair flops down the seat opposite him and smirks, “Gee, hyung started without me?”

“Shut up Jackson,” Taekwoon grumbles as he glares at his informant, Jackson Wang. Then he sneers sarcastically, “You are early.”

“Quality information takes time,” Jackson grins shamelessly, “And I got news for you.”

Taekwoon doesn’t stop him as Jackson snatches a strip of meat. He says, “Tell me.”

“Okay,” Jackson chews and gulps, “Gosh this is good. Anyway, yeah I did what you asked me to. I hit up one of the girlfriend of one of the dudes who died at the Yongsan shootout. Dude worked for Kang Daesung.”

“Kang Daesung of the Kang organisation?”

“Yeah. The shootout was between Kang’s men and Zico’s men. Kang won that round, all thanks to his hitman extraordinaire Kris.”

“Did you find out then if either Kang or Zico had any connections with the police?”

Jackson eats some more before answering, “Zico had no connection. He just bribed people over at Yongsan PD. But Kang might have. Apparently, rumours on the street is, he got a cousin in the police.”

Cousin? Taekwoon frowns. Choi Seung-hyun or Choi Siwon? Jackson continues, “I don’t know if this is relevant news or not, but Kang’s hitman has been missing you know.”

“Who?” Taekwoon asks, disinterested as he stuffs himself with some meat and lettuce.

“You know the Kris character I mentioned?”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah, apparently he is missing and word on the street is Kang no longer wants him. Well, I feel safe. That guy was scary. He must have been nine feet tall and had real scary eyebrows.”

Taekwoon smirks, his voice dripping in sarcasm, “I cannot believe the great, brave Jackson Wang is scared of anyone.”

“No shit dude,” Jackson rolls his eyes, “I once met him, and I thought he was going to kill me. I pulled the hey-I-am-Chinese-too card. He only looked amused and let me go, like I was some cockroach who didn’t even deserved to killed by the likes of him!”

“He is Chinese? Isn’t his name Kris?” Taekwoon sips some water.

“That is his street name Mr Detective." Jackson rolls his eyes dramatically, like he cannot believe the detective doesn't have this basic information. "His real name if Yifan, or Yifeng, or something.”

Yifan. The name jolts Taekwoon as he drops his chopsticks and narrows his eyes at Jackson. He has heard that name somewhere. But where?

 

The sun comes up and the sunlight pours in the room on the two men sleeping on the bed. One of them feels annoyed by the light and wakes up.

Yifan wakes up, squinting his eyes. Too bright. He is about to go back to sleep when he feels a weight on his chest. He looks down to see Junmyeon, his head resting on Yifan’s shoulder and his arm round Yifan’s torso. Junmyeon is snoring, lightly. Yifan thinks it is sort of adorable and the grip around his torso is comforting. And Junmyeon is so warm. His brain doesn’t catch up to him as he lightly touches Junmyeon’s face.

His fingers trail from Junmyeon’s hairline to his chin. Yifan’s heart constricts as he thinks about the first time he woke up with Junmyeon beside him. He remembered how he felt as he had silently admired Junmyeon. His feelings weren’t much complicated back then. But now, he has possession of his most tyrant thoughts, yet, why does his heart thump the same way and why does he want to kiss Junmyeon all of a sudden?

He swore to himself on that day in his apartment that it would be the last time. He had locked away his desire and need and threw away the key. But those feelings were threatening to burst open from their confinement.

He presses his lips against Junmyeon’s temple and takes a deep breath. He cannot run away with all these traitorous thoughts. Junmyeon doesn’t deserve someone like him. He steadies himself as he pushes away a little from Junmyeon’s grasp. But it doesn’t work as Junmyeon protests by whining a little in his sleep and tightening his grip around Yifan. His eyebrows furrow and he pouts.

Yifan shuts his eyes as Junmyeon wraps himself closer. He battles with his rational side for a while before he gives up as he wraps his arm around Junmyeon’s back and kisses the top of Junmyeon’s head. He smiles a little into the messy head of hair. Sometimes Junmyeon can be so cute. And this felt so nice. He can afford this, Junmyeon in his arms, now. He will deal with his smart, sensible side later.

He did say that love is for weak people.  He was weak for Junmyeon. That meant something, didn’t it? He sighs and closes his eyes. He is too exhausted to join the dots. He falls back asleep, feeling oddly content.

 

Zitao wakes up and sits up on his bed, feeling groggy and all his muscles are complaining, especially those on his arms. He did most of the muscle work with Chanyeol last night. He rubs his eyes as he thinks how he had to lose so many people in these few days. And here he was starting to feel like he finally belonged somewhere. Now it was just him, Chen and Kris. Well, maybe Junmyeon too by association. He wonders how long do they share this life with someone like Junmyeon. He won’t deny, he likes the short Korean man now. Sure, he was against it before, but now Junmyeon is a welcome presence. And he has mad cooking skills. He can appreciate whoever feeds him.

He walks down to the kitchen for some water when The Weeknd scares him. He whips his head around to discern where the song is coming from. He walks into the dining room and finds the source of the sound. It is Junmyeon’s phone. He picks it up. What is a ‘Jin the Asshole’? He decides to take the phone to Junmyeon.

He opens the door to Junmyeon’s room and is a bit surprised not to find him there. Even the bed’s made. So Junmyeon never slept here. He closes the door and looks at the closed door to Yifan’s bedroom. He bites his lips. The phone stops ringing in his hand. He walks up to Yifan’s door and stands in front of it, direly hoping he sees no one naked. Yeah, okay, he knows Yifan had a fever but hey what does he know? He knocks lightly and when no one comes to open the door, he takes a deep breath and opens the door.

He lets out his breath when he sees no one is naked (thankfully, because he doesn’t need those visuals). But the sight of Junmyeon and Yifan cuddling does make him smile a little. They are kind of cute. The phone starts ringing again. He jumps a little.

Junmyeon wakes up with a jolt when he hears ‘I only call you when it’s half-past five’ play up again. He wakes up to find himself tucked against Yifan in the most comfortable way; and Zitao standing awkwardly at the door with his phone in his hand. Junmyeon sits up hurriedly. Yifan grumbles in his sleep but doesn’t wake up. Junmyeon jumps down from the bed and stumbles over to where Zitao is standing. Zitao says, “Ugh, your phone.”

Junmyeon glances down at the phone as Zitao passes it to him. Junmyeon blushes, “Ugh, thank you.”

“Yeah. Good morning. I, ugh, will get breakfast started then.” Zitao makes a quick exit.

Junmyeon picks up the call. Before he can open his mouth, Jin screams, “WHERE THE FUCK ARE YOU?” Junmyeon has to hold his phone away as Jin continues screaming, “I went to your apartment this morning, but you weren’t there! It has been two days since Suho has been crying for you! If you are with Yifan, I swear to lord—”

“I am with Yifan,” Junmyeon sheepishly admits as he walks out of the room and closes the door behind him. He hears Seokjin take a deep shaky breath. Junmyeon can imagine Seokjin rubbing the bridge of his nose.

“God fucking damn it,” Seokjin curses, “I don’t understand you.”

“He is sick Jin. I couldn’t just look the other way.”

“Argh, I don’t even know what to say.”

“Take care of Suho, please. I will…return whenever it is possible.”

“Whatever. Just…take care of yourself.” Seokjin disconnects.

Junmyeon sighs in relief. He knows there is another round of outburst he would have to endure from Seokjin when he returns to the main city. He notices there is a message in his inbox. He opens it, it is from Taekwoon. The detective wants to meet him. He walks down to the kitchen and finds Zitao making coffee. Jongdae is here too, sitting on one of the bar stools lining the counter. He sees Junmyeon and sends him a sad smile, “Good morning hyung.”

“Did you sleep well?” Junmyeon asks as he gets himself some water.

“No,” Jongdae whispers, “Not really.” Junmyeon walks closer to him and squeezes his shoulder. Jongdae looks up at him and smiles, “You know, I had an older brother. Sometimes you remind me of him.”

Junmyeon’s eyebrows rise up his forehead. He chuckles, “Oh really? Where is your brother then?”

“I don’t know. He left home when I was twelve, and I have never seen him since,” Jongdae shrugs, “But I remember him being nice like you.”

“Oh,” Junmyeon smiles, “That is awful.”

“Nah,” Jongdae shrugs, “I am okay…But thank you for taking care of me last night. You are too kind.”

Junmyeon blushes as he says, “That is okay.”

“Say,” Zitao says, “Did you tell Kris-ge about Lu-ge?” He asks the question to Junmyeon.

Junmyeon shakes his head.

“Tell me what about Luhan?”

Yifan’s gravelly voice surprised them all. They all gape at him, wondering how to deliver the news. Finally, Jongdae breaks the silence, tears pooling in his eyes, “Lu-ge shot himself.”

Yifan’s eyes widen and his knees wobble. He is still weak from the fever. Junmyeon rushes over to Yifan before the latter’s knees gave away. Junmyeon says, “Let’s sit down, okay?”

Junmyeon guides Yifan to one of the bar stools and places him on it. He hovers behind Yifan, hands on his broad shoulders. He feels Yifan breathing hard. He presses a hand lightly against Yifan’s cheek. He sighs when he realises Yifan’s temperature is back to normal. Yifan mutters, “His body?”

“Already taken care of,” Zitao says, “Chanyeol-sshi helped. He was pretty upset.”

“He and Luhan were friends as well,” Yifan says as his head drops. Suddenly he is glad Junmyeon has a hold on his shoulders. Junmyeon’s gentle pressure is anchoring him down. He feels unshed tears burning behind his eyes. He lost another friend. Another person who understood him. He couldn’t kill Luhan, so he let him go. But…he whispers, “But why did Luhan kill himself? I let him go.”

Junmyeon squeezes his shoulder and says, softly, “You didn’t forgive him, you let him go. He would have liked to be punished by you. At least it would have meant that you care, that you might have forgiven him. Instead, you let him think that you didn’t care at all. I think that broke him. I don’t know him personally, but no one can forgive themselves in a situation like this, can they?”

Yifan listens intently. He clutches his knees hard. Jongdae, who is sitting beside him, sees it. He looks at Zitao and points to the back door. Zitao gets what Jongdae is trying to convey. Jongdae and Zitao quietly slip away from the kitchen.

When they are outside, Jongdae says, “Ge needs Junmyeon hyung only.”

“Yeah,” Zitao agrees. He thinks how he wouldn’t have agreed on this if he had been told this earlier, before coming here, before he saw them cuddled up on bed. He doesn’t know what had happened in the eighteen days they spent together, but he can safely assume that yeah, they needed each other in ways no one else will understand.

Back inside, Yifan breaks down and starts crying. Junmyeon hunches over, wraps his arms around Yifan from the back and places his head on Yifan’s shoulder. Yifan grabs Junmyeon’s forearms and his entire body shakes as he cries for Luhan, and Yixing. He sniffs, “This is all my fault.”

“No, no it isn’t,” Junmyeon says.

“It is! If I had done something, Luhan wouldn’t have taken this drastic step. If I was in my right mind, then Yixing would be alive. If I…fucking hell Junmyeon, I fucked up!”

Junmyeon shakes his head, “Don’t blame yourself. You didn’t do anything.”

“But—”

“Ssh,” Junmyeon raises his head and kisses the side of Yifan’s cheek. He is surprised at how human Yifan was being right now. He did have a tiny glimpse of this side when Yixing died. Suddenly he realises how much sadness Yifan must have bottled up inside when they came here for Yixing, lest Yifan mistakenly gave himself away to him. He rubs his nose along Yifan’s jaw as his heart clenches at that thought and says, “Stop it. Stop blaming yourself. Luhan was manipulated and used. You know that. And I don’t think you could have stopped Luhan from punishing himself. You may have said some choice things to him, but can you imagine how he would have felt being the one to kill Yixing, his friend?”

That seems to calm down Yifan a bit. He turns his head. Junmyeon shifts back a little but their noses bump. Junmyeon smiles, “Don’t work yourself up too much. You will fall sick all over again.”

Yifan’s eyes are wide and glassy as he stares at Junmyeon who blinks back at him. Junmyeon cups his face and using his thumb, wipes away the tears. Yifan closes his eyes and basks in the warmth and comfort surrounding him. He tugs Junmyeon forward and tucks his head against Junmyeon’s chest. He hears the steady beat of Junmyeon’s heart and it calms him down. He mutters, “Thank you.”

Yifan feels fingers running through his hair as Junmyeon says, “No problem.”

Yifan gulps. Junmyeon said so last night too. He doesn’t deserve Junmyeon. He just doesn’t. His heart picks up pace. He shouldn’t be doing this. He shouldn’t let Junmyeon in his heart. He doesn’t have one. He is not supposed to have one. But the ten-ounce organ in his chest feels so heavy, and it is pounding so hard against his ribcage.

He pulls back and rubs his face. Junmyeon puts some distance between them. Both of them know their moment’s over. Yifan says, “Call those idiots in. I am okay.”

Junmyeon shakes his head as he opens the back door and shouts, “Come inside you two!”

Zitao and Jongdae sheepishly enter. Junmyeon says, “Uh, I need to go to the city today. I need to meet my cousin. If I don’t, he might kill my cat.”

“Kill Suho-sshi? I like your cat,” Jongdae exclaims.

Zitao says, “Cousin?” He thinks if that means the man with the rather luscious lips. He blushes at that memory.

Junmyeon says, “Yeah.” He bites down on his lips to stop from giggling when he sees Zitao blushing. He can fathom what the Chinese man was thinking. Kim Seokjin is an asshole.

“Take Tao with you,” Yifan says. Junmyeon quietly nods. He already knew that. He sends a quick text to Taekwoon with Butterfly’s address.

“I may need to meet the detective who is investigating the homicides,” Junmyeon says, nervously.

And suddenly in the morning light, everybody in the spacious kitchen is reminded where they stand in the grand scheme of this universe. Yifan says, “Detective?”

“Yeah, detective Jung Taekwoon. He wants to meet with me for some reason. I won’t tell him anything.”

The name Taekwoon has Yifan on high alert. His voice is hard when he says, “You are under no obligation not to.”

“I know,” Junmyeon scowls wondering what brought on the sudden personality change, “But I have been thinking Amber might have been killed because of all that you told me.”

“How so?” Yifan gets curious again, even though the jealousy lingers.

Junmyeon sighs, “Taekwoon and I think that Amber knew too much and got herself killed because of that. She had been investigating on her own.”

Again, the name Taekwoon propels the jealousy to come forward. Yifan bites down on his lips. None of his business. So what he wants all of Junmyeon’s kisses, and touches, and smiles for himself. He has no right over them. Junmyeon can give them to whoever he wants, whoever deserves it, whoever Junmyeon thinks is worthy. He stands up and excuses himself, not before reminding Zitao what to do.

Junmyeon watches him leave. He walks slowly on his crutches. Junmyeon wonders what was the reason behind the stormy, conflicted emotion on Yifan’s face.

Chapter Text

Junmyeon stands unsure by his car. Zitao, who is in the driver’s seat asks, “Hyung, you okay?”

“I am just really terrified to meet my cousin,” Junmyeon chuckles darkly.

“He looks,” Zitao coughs, suddenly heat rises up in his cheeks, “Harmless.”

Junmyeon leans down and grins in Zitao’s face, knowing very well the reason behind the colour on Zitao’s cheeks, “Mostly. Do you want to come with me? You can leave before the detective arrives. We are thirty minutes early anyway.”

Zitao scowls. He curtly nods. He thinks Junmyeon is being nice, but he doesn’t know Junmyeon is taking him along to distract Seokjin. Junmyeon apologises in advance mentally. What Zitao doesn’t know won’t kill him.

They enter Butterfly. The place is buzzing with the early morning college and office crowd. He spots Minseok at the counter talking to Seokjin. Minseok looked sad while Seokjin looked sympathetic. Suddenly Junmyeon feels Zitao bumping into him. He looks over his shoulder. Zitao’s eyes were widened and his mouth was opened. Junmyeon asks, “Tao?”

“That is Xiumin,” Zitao gasps, pointing at Minseok, “I saw him once at the garage. He came to go out with Lu-ge and Lay-ge.”

Junmyeon gasps, “He works here.” He looks over at Seokjin and Minseok again. He had been drinking coffee made by the same man that Luhan killed Yixing for. His cousin spots him and so does Minseok. The former glowers at Junmyeon while the latter looks at Zitao, his eyes widening. Minseok’s eyes shift rapidly from Junmyeon to Zitao, probably trying to understand why the two of them were together. Zitao whispers, “Guess, I will have to tell him.”

“Yeah,” Junmyeon squeezes Zitao’s shoulder and nods. They walk closer to the duo at the counter. Junmyeon takes a close look at Minseok. They were cuts on his lips and bruises on his face. He says, “Minseok, you okay?”

Minseok shakes his head and smiles sadly. Seokjin says, “He got into an accident. I am trying to convince him to take as many day offs as he wants.”

“Oh,” Junmyeon nods but from experience, he can tell the injuries on Minseok’s face aren’t from an accident. Minseok looked like he had been assaulted. He focuses his attention to Seokjin. “So, ugh, you wanna talk?” He wants to give Minseok and Zitao privacy to talk. The two men were throwing covert glances at each other.

Seokjin tilts his head, “In my office.”

Junmyeon follows Seokjin, nodding encouragingly at Zitao.

Minseok asks when Junmyeon has left with Seokjin, “You and Junmyeon?”

“Through Kris-ge. You remember who I am?” Zitao says.

“Yes. We met once. But Luhan talks about you…” Minseok’s eyes gloss over as he claps a hand over his mouth. He collects himself and says, “Is Lu, I mean, did Kris…”

Zitao shakes his head, “Lu-ge shot himself.”

Minseok takes a staggering breath and his knees buckle. He sits down on one of the high chairs along the counter. He blinks his eyes to keep away the tears. He knew something was off when Luhan called him last night. Zitao sits down and softly says, “Kris-ge couldn’t forgive him.”

“And Luhan couldn’t forgive himself,” Minseok sighs as the tears slip down anyway. He knew, didn’t he, the guilt that Luhan must have felt? Yet, he pushed Luhan away, he couldn’t meet his lovers’ eyes because he couldn’t forgive Luhan either. Everybody forsake him—his friends, his lover. Minseok wants to cry out loud, the pain stabs him in his chest. He wants Luhan back, he wants to cry and punch Luhan in his face and he wants to hold Luhan again. Most of all he wants to apologise. The regret slaps him hard on his face. He feels a light touch on his shoulder. He turns his head to see Zitao pressing his hand lightly on his shoulder. Zitao is staring at him, he doesn’t say anything but his expressive eyes tell Minseok everything.

Minseok wants to scream at Zitao. But then he remembers that it is not Zitao’s fault. The younger lost Yixing and Luhan too. Zitao is an orphan just like Minseok is, just like they all were. And Kris saved them all. Minseok owes Yifan too, from saving him from the police. Another sob wracks his body. He hunches over and tries to control himself. He takes a few deep breaths and reigns in himself. He straightens and says, rubbing his face, “Thank you for being here. I will go now. I should take my boss’s advice and take a couple days off more.”

He gets downs and walks away. Zitao frowns. He feels stupid, he couldn’t help Minseok at all. He thinks about what he saw today. He thinks how dangerous being in love in this world is. He gulps when he realises he doesn’t want what happened to Krystal and Yixing, and Luhan and Minseok to happen to Yifan and Junmyeon too. 

 

Seokjin slams the door shut and Junmyeon jumps. Seokjin faces Junmyeon and the latter swears he saw smoke rising from the top of his cousin’s head. Junmyeon says, “I can explain.”

“Explain,” Seokjin crosses his arms and glares.

“I am in love with Yifan.” Junmyeon sighs and looks down at the black and white tiled floor.

Seokjin uncrosses his arms and shakes his head, “Can’t say I didn’t see this coming.”

Junmyeon looks up at his cousin and frowns, “What?”

“You were happy when Yifan was here. Your smiles were different. I have been around you for too long, you know. I saw how difficult your life became. Your smiles became rare. They seemed lifeless. But when Yifan came around, you changed. You were really happy, weren’t you?”

Junmyeon stares at Seokjin breathless, he has never heard Seokjin sound so serious and wise. He says, “Yeah.”

“But does he love you?”

“I don’t know Jin.”

Seokjin sighs and says, “Enough of this. You give me headaches. I may not like it. But I trust you. Anyway, I got news.”

“Oh?” Junmyeon says, glad that Seokjin didn’t drag this miserable topic any further.

Seokjin opens his office door, “Coffee?”

Junmyeon nods as he follows Seokjin out of the office, “So, about that gossip.”

“Kyungsoo is seeing someone,” Seokjin grins.

“Oh my god, what? I thought he said he doesn’t have time for “love and all that nonsense that mere mortals waste their existence with”.” Junmyeon makes quotations marks in the air.

Seokjin chuckles, “You will never guess who it is.”

“Oh, come on tell me!”

“Her,” Seokjin points towards the girl stacking cakes in the glass display case.

“Hee-yeon?” Junmyeon nearly trips over nothing.

“Yup! One day I find Kyungsoo and Hee-yeon flirting,” Seokjin hears Junmyeon’s incredulous gasp, “Yes, flirting. Imagine my surprise when phone numbers got exchanged and the next day Hee-yeon asks for an early leave. Then today she shows up with love bites under her jaw.”

Junmyeon is still trying to absorb whatever Seokjin was telling him. He had been gone for two days and the world has turned upside down. They reach the counter, and Seokjin chuckles when he spots Zitao there. Junmyeon says a little prayer on Zitao’s behalf.

Minseok had left a while ago. Zitao had ordered a cup of tea when this pretty girl with short brown hair asked tartly if he was going to sit here for free. He realises there are people behind him. He turns his head to see Junmyeon sit down beside him. He calls the same rude girl, “Hee-yeon? I will take an Americano!”

Rude girl, or Hee-yeon, smiles brightly at Junmyeon and says, “An Americano, coming right up! Yah Lee Seunghoon, where you at?”

“Hello there,” someone says on the other side of Zitao. He nearly falls off his chair when he recognises who it is. God fucking damn it this man is even more breath-taking in daylight.

“Uh, h-hello,” Zitao stutters. Junmyeon bites down on his lip to stop himself from laughing. Straight men losing their shit around Seokjin is always a fun thing.

Hee-yeon comes over with a plate of cookies, “Here oppa, fresh red velvet cookies. Tell me how it is, I am trying this out for the new menu.”

Junmyeon picks one warm cookie up. His taste buds sing the hallelujah as he closes his eyes after taking a bite and nods his head. He swallows, “Gosh, this is good! Can you pack me some?”

“Sure!”

“So,” Junmyeon leans closer, “Little birdy told me you are dating my friend.” He smirks at the small, blooming bruise under her jaw.

Hee-yeon blushes and bites her lips when she realises where he is looking at and Junmyeon thinks he needs a camera because holy shit he didn’t know she could even ever be bashful like that. She nods her head and says, “Ah, oppa, let me pack these!” She promptly escapes with the plate as Junmyeon chuckles. He looks over at Seokjin and Zitao again. He cannot see Zitao’s face but he can tell the younger was blushing because the back of his ears were a tomato red.

“So,” Seokjin drawls out, “Are you like a bodyguard or something?” He pokes at Zitao’s biceps. Zitao flinches. “Nice muscles. I like men who have nice biceps. I can tell you have a model-like body under all that leather, don’t you?”

Zitao coughs. Good thing he wore his leather jacket today. Holy shit this is too much. Why is he blushing like a schoolgirl?

“I like your face. It was dark that day, so I couldn’t see much of it. You look like a model, you know. Really sexy,” the last sentence is said in a low, husky whisper and Zitao’s soul leaves his body.

Junmyeon had been watching all of it with much amusement. He finally intervenes, “Hey Jin, stop terrorising Tao.”

“Ta-a-o…You are Chinese? Ooh,” Seokjin bats his eyelashes.

That has the right effect as Zitao reddens some more as he says, “Zi-zitao. My full name is Huang Zitao.”

Seokjin purses his lips (like rose petals, our poet Huang Zitao muses) and pronounces his name, highlighting each syllable, “Zi-ta-o. Nice name.”

“Kim Seokjin,” Junmyeon rolls his eyes, “That is enough. Have some shame, you have Namjoon.”

Seokjin presses his lips and looks at his cousin, “Oh, come on! I am allowed some fun!”

Zitao is kind of still dazed so he doesn’t understand the conversation. But Seokjin winks at him as he gets up from the seat and leaves. Zitao finally heaves a sigh of relief.

Junmyeon giggles, “Relax. Seokjin has a boyfriend. He just really enjoys messing with people.”

Zitao nods. Well, thank god for that. Kim Seokjin was pretty close to giving him a heart attack.

Someone enters the establishment. Junmyeon looks over Zitao to see Taekwoon at the entrance. He gets down from his seat and says, “Detective Taekwoon is here.”

“Go. I will leave when I finish my tea. Don’t worry about me,” Zitao says quietly.

Junmyeon nods and puts some distance between himself and Zitao. He waves and calls, “Taekwoon-sshi! Here!”

Taekwoon finally finds Junmyeon. He has to take a moment because Junmyeon has his bangs down to day, he is wearing a bright red sweater that contrasts sharply with his paleness and he is slightly amazed at the sight. He walks over trying to shake off that terrible observation. Junmyeon smiles and directs him to an empty seat not before telling this man with tiny eyes at the coffee machine, “One macchiato as well, Seunghoon-sshi!”

Taekwoon doesn’t want to address how it feels when Junmyeon remembers his coffee preference. They sit down and he asks, “You come here often?”

Junmyeon grins, “My cousin owns this place. I know everyone.”

“Oh.”

“So, did you find anything new?”

“Yes. Someone inside the department, either Siwon or Seung-hyun is on Kang Daesung’s payroll.”

The name of Kang has Junmyeon gasping. Dread fills him. He says, “You sure? I have heard stories about the Kang family.”

Taekwoon nods, “My informant told me. He is smart and reliable, well most of the time, but he seemed sure. It would only make sense. Remember the Yongsan debacle?”

Junmyeon nods as Seunghoon serves them their coffees. Taekwoon continues as he adds one sugar cube to his cup, “The shootout was between people from the Kang organisation and Zico’s gang. The death toll was some nine people. It was over a huge shipment of heroin from Taiwan. Here is the interesting thing, the girl who told all this to my informant said she had seen Kim Himchan at the scene when the dead bodies were being taken away. I think…it is safe to say the drug pickup at Yongsan and the deaths of our five guys and Blockbuster’s owner and his brother are all connected. And guess what, Kang has a “cousin” in our department.” He curls and jabs his forefinger and middle finger angrily in the air.

Junmyeon chews the inside of his mouth. He says, “Then Amber died because she knew too much didn’t she?”

Taekwoon looks at Junmyeon. He can see the wheels turning in Junmyeon’s head. Junmyeon was staring into his cup. Taekwoon realises it isn’t peach iced tea this time. Junmyeon raises his head, his eyes blazing, “I think…I think Amber told Siwon. He was her superior, right? Who else would she go to? Then Siwon told Kang and he killed her.”

“Kang wouldn’t dirty his hand. He probably sent one of his many hitmen to do the dirty job,” Taekwoon briefly glances at Junmyeon, he hoods his eyes as he says, “I heard both of his best hitmen are missing—Kwon Jiyong and Kris.” He looks up as he mentions Kris’s name. Taekwoon had finally remembered where he had heard the name ‘Yifan’. It was also the first day he met Kim Junmyeon.

Junmyeon bites down the gasp that would have given him away to Taekwoon. He sees the glint in Taekwoon’s eyes. Junmyeon suddenly thinks, fear coiling in his gut, does Taekwoon know? He nonchalantly picks up his cup and sips his coffee. He puts the cup down and says, “Oh?”

Taekwoon leans back. Junmyeon’s insouciance alarms him. His radar picks Junmyeon’s behaviour and categorises it as ‘suspicious’. He didn’t rise up in the homicide department from the narc department with nothing—he had his sharp intuition and keen mind. But he doesn’t want to probe because something tells him that Junmyeon will build up his walls and shut him out. So he remains quiet as he sips his drink.

Seunghoon returns to the table. He smiles as he hands the bag of red velvet cookies, “Hee-yeon told me to give this to you.”

Junmyeon takes it and gets up from his seat, “Thank you, tell her I said thanks.”

“Sure. How is your friend? It was fun hanging out with him. Yi—”

“He is okay!” Junmyeon says, loud enough to attract the attention of people from three tables across. He notices Taekwoon looking at him sharply from the corner of his eyes. “He is healing fine. I will tell him you asked about him!” Shit, that was close. Junmyeon doesn’t know how Taekwoon knows but he has to protect Yifan anyhow.

Seunghoon smiles and leaves. Junmyeon looks down to see Taekwoon has finished his drink. Taekwoon stands up, “How much do I pay?”

“It is on me,” Junmyeon waves his hands, “Don’t worry. You paid the last time.”

Taekwoon nods, “See you around then, Dr Kim.”

Junmyeon watches the tall detective leave. He doesn’t feel any relief. The way Taekwoon said “Dr Kim” just felt so ominous. A small shiver travels up his spine. This doesn’t feel right.

As soon as Taekwoon gets inside his car, he dials Jackson’s number. His informant greets him cheerily as soon as he picks up the phone, “Yo!”

“I need you to track this guy,” Taekwoon says.

“Aren’t the police good at this?”

“I cannot involve the PD.”

“Oh, that kind of job. Cool, text me the guy’s licence plate or phone number. You owe me more food hyung!”

Taekwoon disconnects and texts Jackson Junmyeon’s phone number.

 

Choi Seung-hyun stares up at the tall, imposing structure in front of him. This is where the bloodhound lives. He fists his hands and walks in, anger and determination driving him forward. He is here for Junhong. He is here because he knows who killed Woo Jiho and Woo Mino. How could he be so blind? He had all the evidence before him. It didn’t take him long to correlate.

He takes a lift to the thirtieth floor. The elevator doors open to Kang Daesung’s office. He marches in. Not bothering to stop when the secretary tries blocking him. He throws open the doors and shouts, “Daesung!”

Daesung was hunched over his desk, reading documents when Seung-hyun shouts. He raises his head and looks up, confused, at his cousin. He stands up and asks, “What are you doing here?”

Seung-hyun shuts the door and says, “You said the kids from the university will be the last. Then why did you send Junnie to kill more people?”

Daesung frowns, “What people?”

Seung-hyun comes forward and throws some A6 sized photographs on Daesung’s desk, “These!”

“What,” Daesung looks down and touches one of the photos, it is of a man from his head down, displaying the deep gash on his neck, “Are these?”

Seung-hyun snaps. He grabs Daesung by the collar and shouts in his face, “You send Junnie to kill more people! You said only those five! But he goes and kills five more people!”

Daesung hardens his jaw and grabs Seung-hyun’s hands around his collar. He presses hard enough to leave bruises on Seung-hyun’s skin. The older doesn’t flinch. Daesung grits his teeth, “I didn’t send Zelo to kill these people, whoever they are.”

“Junhong! He has a name!”

Daesung frees himself and rolls his eyes, “Who are these people?”

Seung-hyun doesn’t believe him but he answers, “Woo Jiho and his brother, and three of their guards.”

Daesung’s eyebrows rise up his forehead. He looks impressed, “I didn’t send Zelo to kill these people.”

“STOP CALLING HIM ZELO!”

“He likes being Zelo. You know that. Your little Junnie killed all these people not on my orders. Do you want to know what this means?” Daesung waits as he sees Seung-hyun working it out. He laughs, “Guess me and Junnie are related!”

Seung-hyun’s voice shakes when he realises, “You turned my brother into a monster.” His brother killed people not sanctioned by Daesung. Junhong wasn’t Daesung’s personal puppet this time. His blood runs cold. What has Junhong become?

Daesung laughs even harder, “Oh dear cousin, your brother already had a monster inside him. I just unleashed it.”

Tears roll down Seung-hyun’s face as his knees buckle and he kneels down on the floor. Daesung smirks as he takes his seat behind the table. He says, “You couldn’t save your brother, such a tragedy…You took what you wanted, but you didn’t see who it was you were taking from.”

Seung-hyun squeezes his eyes shut as Daesung’s words ring in his ears. He took the poison willingly. He took the misery willingly. He couldn’t save Junhong. He couldn’t protect his brother. He failed Ga-in. He failed Junhong. He failed himself.

 

Junmyeon returns in a few hours with Zitao. Junmyeon offers Jongdae and Yifan the cookies he had brought along. Jongdae says, as he chews into the soft cream cheese filled centre, “Gosh, hyung, this is heavenly!”

“Hee-yeon does make the best cookies,” Junmyeon laughs.

Yifan says, “These are from Butterfly?”

Junmyeon slowly nods and smiles. But his smile is wistful, Yifan can see it. Suddenly the cookies don’t sit right with him. He remembers that day he spent at Butterfly. So much laughter and happy banter. Seokjin had cracked jokes about him and Junmyeon. Hee-yeon kept feeding him. Seunghoon told him all his sad (read: hilarious) university tales and all the shenanigans he got into with his friends. He had a nice day. One of his best, and he can count all his best days on one hand.

He gulps and stands up. He knows why Junmyeon was smiling like that. He was thinking about those days as well. Yifan feels something, his heart clenches and unreasonable thoughts plague him. He shares a brief look with Junmyeon. In another life, in another time, he would have made Junmyeon his. Junmyeon…The dots are slowly getting connected. But he doesn’t want to acknowledge it. No good can come out of it.

He pointedly ignores Junmyeon for the rest of the day. He is afraid, so afraid of himself.

 

Junmyeon doesn’t understand why he had stayed. He had no business here. Well, okay, maybe he did. What he means is he doesn’t think he is needed here. And by ‘needed’ he refers to needed by him.

No, Wu Yifan hadn’t verbally specified as such but Junmyeon can tell. Considering how Yifan behaved around him since yesterday when he returned home with Hee-yeon’s cookies. Yifan ate them with a smile on his face when he realised where they were from. Junmyeon had felt satisfied that he could make Yifan happy. But a few hours later, Yifan shut himself off. Junmyeon wonders if he was unwelcome now. Yet, the way Yifan had requested for him to stay one night ago refuses to let Junmyeon go. Yifan’s behaviour pains him a little.

So far, he doesn’t mind. Jongdae and Zitao have become his friends. Both of them are very comfortable with him and it kept Junmyeon distracted. He hasn’t told anyone that Taekwoon knows more about the Yongsan shootout. Actually he is just trying to find the way to slip away, but so far he has been unsuccessful. Because he is Kim Junmyeon, and he cares, and he is in love. And love usually has you doing silly things.

Right now he is lying down on the couch in the living room. Zitao and Jongdae aren’t home. They are out there doing who knows what. Yifan is home but Junmyeon hadn’t seen him since breakfast. It is close to three now. Or maybe it is after three. He doesn’t know. He thinks now could be a good time to just leave. The trio of criminals hadn’t kidnapped him. The door wasn’t locked. He could get up and leave. But he finds himself unable to move.

He gets up anyway, sighing and missing Suho. His pet cat is such a comfort during trying times like this. He hopes Suho is happy at Seokjin’s place. He swears to strangle his cousin if anything happens to Suho.

He yawns as he walks to his room only to find Yifan standing in front of his bedroom door. Junmyeon is a little taken aback. His yawn is abruptly halted. Yifan notices his presence, and looks at him for a few heartbeats.

Yifan just looks, as if trying to string along the right words. The suspense is nearly killing Junmyeon until Yifan says, “Can we talk?”

Yifan has to tell him what was going on with him. The cookies yesterday reminded him of all the happiness he had in the not-too-distant past. Then he had thought of the things he did, and said, to Junmyeon, who never deserved such treatment from him. Junmyeon has been nothing but good to him. And Yifan wants to understand why. He finally put himself in Junmyeon’s shoes and realised that he would never have stayed with himself—he has been awful towards Junmyeon at times.

Junmyeon nods. Yifan points to his own bedroom. Junmyeon goes first to open the door for Yifan. They sit down on the bed, Junmyeon perched awkwardly at the foot of the bed while Yifan sits at a distance from him. Junmyeon twists his fingers in his lap, getting anxious by the second.

Yifan finally breaks the silence, “Why?” He has so many words on the tip of his tongue but he doesn’t know how to say them.

Junmyeon is startled, both by Yifan’s rough, edgy voice and by the question. He frowns, “What? I don’t understand.”

“Huh,” Yifan bitterly chuckles, “I don’t understand either.” At least he is being honest.

Junmyeon shifts a little closer to Yifan and puts his hand on Yifan’s forehead. His frown deepens, “Well, you don’t seem to have a fever. So why are you delirious?”

Junmyeon is about to remove his hand when Yifan grabs it and pulls him close. Junmyeon falls against Yifan’s chest. He tilts his head up, his eyebrows furrowing because he is so very confused now.

Yifan rubs Junmyeon’s lower lip with his thumb and whispers, his voice raspier, “Why are you still here Junmyeon?”

Oh fuck, Junmyeon thinks, he had been waiting for this. He stutters, “W-what? I can leave, I mean I know I am—”

Yifan closes his eyes and sighs. He opens them again and says, “Stupid Junmyeon. I didn’t mean that. I meant why did you come when Chen called you? Why are you here, taking care of me?”

Junmyeon’s fear abate a little, but not completely. Yifan doesn’t need to know he came as soon as Jongdae called because Yifan was injured and he couldn’t just sit there and do nothing to save Yifan. He would always try to save Yifan because, in some twisted logic and even more thanks to twisted emotions, he is in love with Yifan. He gulps, trying to find a good answer. Yifan presses his forehead to Junmyeon’s, “Why do you have to care so much for someone like me Kim Junmyeon?”

Junmyeon swallows the words he had in response to that. He mutters, “I am engineered this way.”

“I am not a stray cat. I am no good Junmyeon.”

Junmyeon sighs. He knows, he has known that from day one. But here he is now. He says, “I don’t care. I cannot just stand back and watch you die.”

“Why?”

You cannot know, Junmyeon thinks. Out loud he says, “Just because.”

Yifan doesn’t understand Junmyeon’s reply. Instead he pulls Junmyeon closer and kisses Junmyeon’s head. He chuckles a little when he feels Junmyeon’s hot breath on his neck. His heart misses a few beats. Why did his body always react this way whenever Junmyeon was in his arms?

“Hey,” Yifan whispers, his voice choked with need, “Can I kiss you?”

Chapter Text

“Hey,” Yifan whispers, his voice choked with need, “Can I kiss you?”

He feels the staggering breath Junmyeon took on his neck. Junmyeon tilts his head up and those beautiful lips quiver when he says, in the smallest voice, “Please.”

Yifan doesn’t waste any more time. He seals his mouth to Junmyeon’s, his tongue searching, soothing and exciting all at once. The thread reins on his restraint snaps. He had been thinking of Junmyeon, of this, ever since the morning he had woken up to see Junmyeon curled against him, fast asleep. He loops his arms around Junmyeon’s waist, desperate to get even closer still.

Junmyeon’s fingers traces just below the hem of Yifan’s t-shirt, dragging his hands up, pushing the fabric out of the way. Yifan’s skin jumps at the contact and he groans. Dragging in breaths between frenzied kisses, Junmyeon inhales the scent of his aftershave.

Hot sensation spider-webs over Junmyeon’s skin, a network of exquisite pleasure from the barest of touches. Yifan cups his face, brushes kisses over his eyes and cheeks while he strokes Junmyeon’s bare back, hands that had slipped underneath clothes unnoticed.

Suddenly Junmyeon finds himself shifting as Yifan manoeuvres them and presses the former down on the mattress. The late afternoon light spills through the light cotton curtains and it is enough for Junmyeon to make out the hard lines of desire etched on Yifan’s features as he sprinkles kisses over his face.

Yifan slides his hand against Junmyeon’s side with sensual precision. He asks, his voice unsure, and so unlike the last time, all traces of arrogance gone, “Is this okay?”

Junmyeon blinks, trying hard to breathe at the conflict in Yifan’s eyes. He nods his head, “But, your leg. You shouldn’t be doing this.”

Yifan realises that indeed there is a dull throb of pain in his left leg, but as if he cares about that now. He rolls his eyes as he sweeps up Junmyeon’s t-shirt, burning to see him, have him, “Like I give a fuck about that now.”

Junmyeon laughs as Yifan tugs his t-shirt up and over his head. Yifan stops and stares at Junmyeon, he hadn’t heard that laugh in a while and his heart beats faster at that. Goodness, why is Junmyeon the way that he is? Junmyeon says, “We can wait, not that I want to, but—” He gasps when Yifan dips his head and closes his mouth over a nipple, his teeth lightly tugging at it. He hears a muffled, “Shut up then” from Yifan.

Junmyeon trembles in delicious anticipation. Finally. Yifan’s warm, bold hands goes further, lower, lower still until he cups Junmyeon’s bottom and brings him against himself for another moist, searching kiss. The lower parts of their bodies come in contact in the most delicious way and Junmyeon moans.

Rational thoughts scatter as quickly as their clothes hit the floor. Yifan’s eyes rove hungrily over Junmyeon’s naked body. Junmyeon’s entire being hums in pleasure when he sees the wanton look in Yifan’s eyes. He has never felt desired like this before. Yifan traces the angular line of his jaw, down to the hard plane of his collarbone, over his pectorals. His muscles jump under Yifan’s fingertip. He murmurs, “Yifan?” He wonders what that look in Yifan’s eyes was, he felt like some object in a museum being admired.

“Just, you are a marvel,” Yifan sighs. He leans forward and captures Junmyeon’s lips again. He sucks on the latter’s lower lip. He lifts his head up and rubs his thumb over Junmyeon’s swollen lips. He whispers, “I think…I had a weird crush on you in school as well. I bumped into you on my first day. I thought I had bumped into an angel. You were unreal. You are still unreal.” He wonders where he is finding it in himself to be this honest.

Junmyeon forgets how to breathe. No one on earth has ever told him such things. He doesn’t know how to react to something like this. So he drops his gaze and blushes furiously. But Yifan continued, “I am sorry I bullied you. I am sorry for that day in my apartment. I am sorry for behaving like a dick the last time we met. I am sorry for so many things Junmyeon…” He cups Junmyeon’s face and strokes his cheekbone. “And you still don’t give up on me. I don’t deserve this.”

Junmyeon looks back up at Yifan again. He gulps knowing very well why he cannot tell Yifan the reason he is still hasn’t given up on Yifan. He says nothing as he pulls Yifan down by his neck and seals his lips over the latter’s. He kisses Yifan fervently, trying to quiet his tumultuous thoughts, trying to quiet Yifan’s mind. They don’t need this right now. What they need right now is the feel of skin over skin and work on that desire that has wound around them tightly.

Yifan stretches over Junmyeon, leaning on his elbows to hold the bulk of his weight off the latter. Junmyeon hooks a leg around him, pulling Yifan full out on him. He wanted all of Yifan, the full-bodied experience of Yifan blanketing him.

Yifan palms just below his chest, stroking his thumb along the sides, then around his already tight nipples. The pressure of Yifan’s gentle torment makes him ache for more and he arches against the warm pressure of Yifan’s leg between his. Yifan’s pupils widen ridiculously, broadcasting just how much he wanted Junmyeon, too.

Junmyeon’s eyelids go heavy, and he can’t stop them from closing even as he mourns losing the vision of Yifan over him. Other senses heightening, he inhales the tangy scent of Yifan mixed with the musk of desire. Part of him feels the frantic edge of passion clawing to get free, but he grits back the impulse to rush. Reality would take over soon enough.

He feels the hot gust of his breath an instant before Yifan takes his mouth and kisses him long and well. He explores just as deeply. He wriggles against Yifan, hungry for deeper pressure. And he could tell without question Yifan isn’t unaffected. The hard swell of him throbs and Junmyeon aches to learn anew the intimate feel of him.

Junmyeon slides his hand between them and encircles Yifan’s hard length, slowly caressing until Yifan raises his head and groans. He puts his hand over Junmyeon’s and says, “Someone’s impatient.”

“Yifan?” Junmyeon squeezes the weight in his palm, “Just take me.” The last part comes out in a desperate, raspy whisper.

Yifan bites his lips to stop the gasp from escaping at Junmyeon’s command. Fuck, how did he get so lucky? He nods and leans backward. Junmyeon scowls. Yifan smiles, “I have lube in the bathroom. Wait here.”

Yifan leaves the bed not without Junmyeon unleashing his inner sass and saying, “Where else would I go naked and with a raging boner?” Yet, his heart thumped because Yifan didn’t show this much consideration the last time. He hears Yifan chuckling in the hallway outside the bedroom. Thank god Jongdae and Zitao aren’t home.

Yifan (thankfully) returns under sixty seconds (no, Junmyeon wasn’t counting) and settles back between Junmyeon’s legs. The latter watches in bated breath as Yifan coats two long fingers judiciously with the clear, thick liquid. Yifan leans over him and kisses Junmyeon. His plump lips sliding oh-so deliciously against Junmyeon’s, who whimpers helplessly as he drapes his hands around the former.

Yes.

Two thick fingers push inside Junmyeon, his touch cool against Junmyeon’s overheated flesh. Yifan strokes, parts, finds the tight bundle of nerves. His hands fall away and he grips the comforter, tighter and tighter until his muscles burn.

Faster, but softer Yifan circles until frustration knots within Junmyeon. He nips at Yifan’s lower lip. Yifan growls lowly, trailing his mouth away, along Junmyeon’s neck. He gasps, again, and cannot stop the moan that follows when Yifan bites down against the base of his throat. If he doesn’t find relief soon, he might as well scream because fuck, his erection hurts and Yifan had paid no attention to that. He slides his hand down and encloses around his cock.

“No more teasing. Finish this, please,” Junmyeon begs.

“Whatever you say, whatever you want,” Yifan says as he swats Junmyeon’s hand away and with his free hand strokes Junmyeon’s cock, who feels like crying.

Junmyeon moans at the double assault. Yifan’s sinful fingers worked inside him and on him and Junmyeon thinks he can pass out due to too much pleasure right here, right now. Then Yifan removes his hand off of Junmyeon. He kisses Junmyeon again, and between kisses all over Junmyeon’s face, he whispers, “You are irresistible Kim Junmyeon.”

Still, he wouldn’t allow Junmyeon the release he craved. He let go of Yifan’s hip and tries to slide his hand between them again to torment Yifan as fully as the latter is tormenting him. Yifan clasps his wrist, halting his progress.

A whimper slips past Junmyeon’s lips, “No more.”

Yifan smirks and scissors his fingers inside Junmyeon, who moans, “Do you want me to stop?”

“No! I mean, no more playing.” He strokes Yifan, who moans in return.

Then Yifan groans, “We’re in agreement on that.”

If nothing else.

But Junmyeon doesn’t want doubts or darker thoughts now. He needs—deserves—this stolen moment of pleasure with Yifan.

Yifan, finally, pulls his fingers out and lubricates his length. Yifan nudges against the core of him, entering, stretching, his body oh-so-sensitive. Gasping, he went near boneless from the sheer pleasure of the thick pressure. He slides an arm over Yifan, his fingers threading through the lush, black strands.

Yifan whispers in Junmyeon’s ear, words of encouragement, of much he wants Junmyeon, how Junmyeon turns him inside out. Each sexy sound strokes his emotions as smoothly as Yifan strokes his body while they rock against each other.

The rippling, sweet surge of sensations storms through Junmyeon as Yifan hits him right at every thrust and Junmyeon writhes against him. He presses his face against Yifan’s neck, grasping him with frenetic hands, his nails scoring down the latter’s back.

Too soon, the storm gathers in that tightening swell and as much as he wants to delay, he loses control when Yifan wraps his long, slender fingers around his throbbing cock. He clasps Yifan closer, harder. His teeth clamp into Yifan’s shoulder with the force of his completion exploding through him in sweet, sweet release coating his abdomen. Yifan thrusts harder, faster, drawing out his orgasm until every nerve tingles, damn near burned until he follows Junmyeon over the edge.

Slowly, Junmyeon realises his arms are locked around Yifan, the open window letting in air chilling the light sheen of sweat slicking his body and Yifan’s. Yifan rolls to his back, hugging Junmyeon to his side. His chest still pumps heavily and Junmyeon cannot find the air to talk even if he knows what to say. He isn’t even sure what to think.

Junmyeon is too busy being scared. Because without question, he has found so much more than he’d expected to experience here with Yifan. Ever with anyone. At an earlier, freer time in his life, or in a parallel reality, he might have taken a chance on this man with potent kisses, restless feet and a carefree smile. A risky proposition, to say the least.

Yifan clutches onto Junmyeon like no tomorrow. A stray thought lodges in his conscious—he had gotten something far greater than he had signed for. Mutual attraction is supposed to be physical, but he is wondering when did he get his feelings involved with all this. This is not supposed to work like this. He is well aware how much he doesn’t deserve this, and Junmyeon.

“This is so incredibly dangerous, isn’t it?” Junmyeon sighs as he puts his head on Yifan’s shoulder.

“Yes,” Yifan says. He was thinking the same thing. They were finally talking about this, their weird little ‘relationship’ after days of palpable tension. None of them felt like denying anymore what had been blatantly obvious between them. It is easier accepting this madness they have found themselves in.

Junmyeon props his chin on Yifan’s chest and smiles, “Don’t you ever wish we met in some different way? In some different life?”

Yifan smiles as his heart skips a few beats. Junmyeon’s bangs were down and he was peering adorably at Yifan, and all of it is too much. Yifan runs his fingers through Junmyeon’s hair as he says, “I do. I was thinking about this yesterday.”

“Yesterday?”

“Yeah. After you got the cookies. I remembered how much fun I had when you left me at Butterfly that day. Seokjin, Hee-yeon and Seunghoon—they are all such nice people. But I am who I am, and I cannot wish for such things.” Yifan looks away as his eyes prickle. He agreed that he was happy when he didn’t have his memories. He didn’t know who he was, or what he did. A little part of him coveted that security and bliss that a life like that gave him temporarily. He got a glimpse and he wanted more, but he knows that will never be, that this wish of his will never become a reality.

Junmyeon pushes his lower lip out. He doesn’t want to hear such melancholic things from Yifan. He sees Yifan avoiding him so he taps the latter’s chin, “Hey. Tell me something,” when Yifan looks back at him, he claws at something to say because he didn’t want to see that sad expression on Yifan’s face, “You thought I was some angel back in school? That is some serious foreshadowing!”

Yifan chuckles, and his gums show and Junmyeon chuckles along with him. God, he missed this Yifan so much. Yifan says, “Fine. I admit, I had a weird crush on you. Maybe. I didn’t know. That was my first time in a school. I had no idea about crushes! That is why when I heard you say mean things about me, I got mad. I bullied you out of spite and envy.”

“Envy?”

“You had a family, and friends. I was a loner. I hated you for the things you had that I didn’t.”

Junmyeon understands. He sees Yifan’s point of view. Junmyeon had something Yifan never had: a family. His heart clenches. He leans forward and kisses Yifan under his jaw. Then, he says, “That doesn’t forgive you for making my life hell for that one year.”

Even though Junmyeon’s tone is light (Junmyeon knows he has forgiven Yifan by now), Yifan frowns, upset at how his past-self behaved. He would like to dropkick that asshole in his face. He rubs his thumb along Junmyeon’s cheekbone and says, “I am really sorry. You didn’t deserve it.” You don’t deserve me. More importantly someone like me doesn’t deserve someone like you.

Junmyeon asks, to change the topic (he sees how Yifan is trying to be open and honest with him), “First time in a school?”

“I was home-schooled till I was fifteen. I only attended the school because Kang senior, Daesung’s dad, wanted me to. I was completely against it.”

“Then why did you leave? The high school life wasn’t fun enough?”

“No,” Yifan chuckles darkly. He wonders if he should tell Junmyeon his darkest secrets. Junmyeon has always been honest with him. Even now he is here, pressed against him and talking. He never imagined this would be possible. What if Junmyeon hates him after this? Not even Yixing or Luhan completely knew what he really did all those years ago, and why he did it. He swallows, “School was an environment I could have adopted to. But…I killed someone for the first time that year. And I was never the same again.”

Junmyeon says nothing, but Yifan can feel the sharp breath he took by the rapid rise and fall of his chest. He continues, “No one knows about this. Only Kang senior did…”

Junmyeon props himself on his elbows and says, determined, “Tell me.” He hears Yifan’s silent plea. Yifan wants someone to know. And Junmyeon will listen, no matter how much that terrified him.

Yifan gulps, “I never knew my parents. My earliest memory is in an orphanage in Beijing. I was too thin and really tiny. I was picked on and bullied often. So I started to learn how to defend myself. I had so many bruises and scars before I even turned ten. Then the place burned down. I don’t remember how that happened, but I remember running. I didn’t want to go the foster care home.

“I was eleven when I was kidnapped. My kidnappers brought me here, to Korea. They were…sex traders. They told me I was handsome, that I had potential to become even more handsome and taller as I grew up. They kept touching me. They…” Yifan closes his eyes at that memory. He tries not to think about it, but sometimes, he slips. The pain, the humiliation, the confusion haunts when lets his demons loose and it is too late to sleep.

Junmyeon gasps and bites his lips. He slowly says, “They raped you…” Suddenly the burn scar on Yifan’s shoulder starts making sense. He says, “That mark on your shoulder, the Yang-Lee faction did this to you, didn’t they?” His vision blurs when he thinks about an eleven-year old Yifan hurt like that. The urge to protect Yifan just becomes stronger.

Yifan opens his eyes and his surprised to see tears pooled in Junmyeon’s eyes. He nods his head. He says, “I killed them after that school year ended.”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen. He mutters, “Yang was strangled and Lee was gutted mercilessly. That was…you?”

“How do you know that?” Yifan counter-questions.

“The Yang-Lee death is one of the greatest unsolved mysteries for the last decade. I studied it. It was you…” a slight shiver passes through Junmyeon but he supresses it. He has seen pictures. He had shuddered at the violence and wondered who would be this angry and reckless enough to crush a man’s neck and cut open another man’s torso like that. He got his answer now. A part of him wants to recoil but another part wants to stay in Yifan’s arms and comfort him. Yifan didn’t kill them mindlessly.

Yifan says, “Yes.” He waits for Junmyeon’s reaction. He wants to know how Junmyeon would react at the fact that he has blood on his hands, that he began killing people when he was just sixteen. At an age when boys chose girlfriends, Yifan chose the Desert Eagle.

Junmyeon sighs, “They probably deserved it. They were evil people anyway.” Though Junmyeon knows what he said is just a very Yifan-biased point and that he doesn’t approve of murder, but they violated Yifan, murdered the child in him. He grits his teeth and tries to calm his heart down. He leans down and seals his mouth over Yifan’s.

Yifan is surprised at Junmyeon’s words. He is even more surprised when Junmyeon kisses him. Because he isn’t stupid, he pulls Junmyeon closer to deepen the kiss. He is amazed at the fierce, passionate way Junmyeon is kissing him. Their tongues tangle and their hands claw for purchase on bare skin.

When air becomes a necessity, they pull back. Junmyeon presses his head against Yifan’s and says, his breath fanning over Yifan’s wet lips, “I don’t care what you did. You are not what you do. You aren’t heartless Yifan. I know that. You knew no other kind of life. You are a product of your environment. We can never fight with that.” Junmyeon leans back and locks his gaze with Yifan, “But we can fight with our circumstances. There is no rule that we need to accept whatever life throws at us. We can either take it, or we can revolt against it. I was a rich, spoiled kid when I was fifteen. But life changed and circumstances drastically changed. I dealt with it. I refused to give in. And you shouldn’t either. Don’t give up Wu Yifan,” I love you, “You don’t know what can happen next.”

Yifan stares at Junmyeon, eyes wide and mouth open. His heart picks up pace as he closes his eyes and fights back the tears threatening to escape. No one has ever said such things to him. No one had said he can change, that this life was chosen for him. No one has accepted him like this. He opens his eyes and curls his fingers around Junmyeon’s neck. He pulls the latter down and crushes his lips against his. He hopes Junmyeon can understand what he cannot convey with words.

Junmyeon does.

 

Krystal takes a deep breath as she raises her fist to knock on the door. With her other hand she clutches the envelope that has her resignation letter in it. She pushes open the door when a voice says, “Come in.”

She walks in and bows at her boss, Kang Daesung. She extends her resignation letter to Daesung. Her boss takes it with a quizzical expression. He tears the envelope open and takes out the letter. He reads it for a while and then says, “Miss Jung, are you sure?”

“Yes,” she nods. You killed Yixing.

“Well it is nice that you want to pursue your dreams of becoming a pastry chef…you were a good secretary. It will be tough to replace you,” Daesung gives her a small smile.

Krystal smiles back even though her blood boils. She had written in her letter that she is going to Japan to learn how to become a patissier. Well, she does like cakes, the real reason is something her boss wouldn’t like to know. He could even kill her for it.

Daesung says, “Well, best of luck for your future.”

Krystal bows once again as she leaves the office. And this life forever. From now onwards, she is going to make sure Kang Daesung pays for all his sins.

 

Jung Taekwoon lights up a cigarette as he contemplates: should he venture further or should he leave?

Every cop instinct is telling him that he should stay but a small irrational part in him wants to believe that his trust wasn’t misplaced. He watches the blue smoke curl out of his nose as he thinks, weighs all the pros and cons. Finally, as the cigarette ends and he had his fill of nicotine, Taekwoon gets out from his car. He slams the door shut and walks up the gravel path. The property is situated in a gorgeous place. Even in the semi-darkness, the natural beauty of the place cannot be diminished. He walks up to the porch and rings the bell. He waits for a few seconds before the door is opened and he sees a very familiar face.

Taekwoon says, “Good evening Dr Kim.”

Chapter Text

“Good evening Dr Kim.”

Junmyeon’s mouth drops. He had been happily preparing dinner with Zitao. His talk with Yifan had left him in a very good mood (despite the topic discussion being morbid, Junmyeon is happy because Yifan trusts him now). Yifan didn’t push himself away or push Junmyeon away anymore. He was smiling again and kissed his cheek in front of Zitao and Jongdae, which had those two whistling and cheering them on. Yifan shut them up with a glare but Junmyeon saw the small smile he tried to hide. But now, Taekwoon in front of him with that dark expression on the porch under the gauzy yellow overhead light, shattered his mental peace to smithereens. He stutters, “T-taekwoon-sshi? What are you doing here?”

“Who is it hyung?” Zitao says behind him. When he recognises Taekwoon, his jaw hardens and his eyes narrow. He growls, “What is he doing here?” Suddenly, he wonders if trusting Junmyeon was a good idea.

“I tracked your phone, Dr Kim,” Taekwoon comes closer as Junmyeon steps backward, *“You seemed very suspicious that day. What are you hiding Dr Kim?” His eyes flit briefly towards Zitao. He thinks he had seen this man in the café a day ago.

Junmyeon opens his mouth, but Zitao steps around him and shields him. The younger says, “What do you want?” Judging by what the detective said, this isn’t Junmyeon’s fault. And if he is here to harm Junmyeon, he will have to deal with Zitao first.

Taekwoon comes closer, he says, “The truth.”

Yifan and Jongdae were in the living room when they hear voices at the entrance. They come out and Yifan recognises Taekwoon right away as the man he saw with Junmyeon that day. But he doesn’t understand why Zitao was shielding Junmyeon like that. Taekwoon’s gaze lands on Yifan and he says, “Kris, or Wu Yifan, hitman under Kang Daesung’s payroll.”

Junmyeon gasps and turns his head around. He says, “Yifan…” The biggest fear of his right now is that Yifan might think that he has broken Yifan’s trust. That he betrayed Yifan and sold him out to Taekwoon. “I—”

Yifan raises his hand when he takes in Junmyeon’s wide eyes and scared expression. Taekwoon says, “I didn’t know that the doctor associated with criminals.”

Junmyeon turns to look back at Taekwoon and is at a serious loss of words. Yifan comes to stand behind Junmyeon and places a hand on the latter’s shoulder. Junmyeon turns his head to the side to look at Yifan, to tell him that he did nothing to harm Yifan but the latter shakes his head. Yifan’s gaze is soft, like he is telling Junmyeon that he trusts him. Junmyeon gulps, his heart racing. Yifan trusts him.

Yifan glares at Taekwoon, “What do you want?”

Taekwoon glares back, “I want to know why one of the key players in the Yongsan drug bust and the assistant medical examiner of the State PD know each other.” He shifts his glare to Junmyeon.

Yifan says, his voice authoritative, “Tao, stand down.” Zitao looks at his boss, he is about to protest but Yifan just used his Kris voice and the Kris mask is on, so he obeys, albeit unwillingly. He stands back as Yifan moves to stand beside Junmyeon, snaking his arm around the shorter man. “Tao take Chen with you. Stay away till I ask you to.” His stance is protective and Junmyeon is nearly shaking in fear. This is what he didn’t want to happen. But then again, how long had he hoped this would last? He is aware where he stands and where Yifan dwells.

Jongdae and Zitao share a look. The tension in the room just notched up a few hundred degrees more. But they don’t dare disobey their boss. They quickly make themselves scarce.

“I will be civil if you promise the same,” Yifan says.

Taekwoon nods his head, not before glancing briefly at the way how Yifan had his arm around Junmyeon’s waist. Not just mere association, is it?

They move outside. Junmyeon wishes he could disappear, Taekwoon wishes he could slap some cuffs on Yifan and drag him to jail while Yifan wishes he could smash Taekwoon’s face. Yifan stuck impossibly close to Junmyeon because he didn’t appreciate Taekwoon looking at Junmyeon like that.

Junmyeon starts because he could no longer take the I-can-combust-you-with-my-eyes competition between Taekwoon and Yifan, “How did you find me?”

“I tracked your phone,” Taekwoon says, a bit hesitantly.

Junmyeon’s eyes widen, “You cannot do that! That is illegal.”

“Don’t worry,” Taekwoon shrugs, “I didn’t use anybody from the PD to help me. So no one knows. You can’t accuse me of anything.” He is not enjoying doing this to Junmyeon. But he is a police officer first and Kim Junmyeon has betrayed his trust.

Yifan says in a low voice, “It is still a terrible thing to do.”

“So is hiding criminals,” Taekwoon doesn’t miss a beat as he glares back at Yifan.

Junmyeon fists his hand and bites his lip. He is in a turmoil. If the obvious differences between him and Yifan were a backdrop to all his other problems, Taekwoon saying those words pushed them to the fore. He just got harshly reminded of the impossibility of his relationship with Yifan.

Yifan says, “Junmyeon isn’t hiding me. I own this place.”

“Oh,” Taekwoon raises one disdainful eyebrow, “So he is shacking up with the criminals now. Care to explain yourself Dr Kim?”

“He doesn’t need to explain himself!” Yifan growls and leaves Junmyeon’s side. He walks closer to Taekwoon. They are the same height and the anger simmering between would have ignited sparks in the air.

Junmyeon knows it is time to intervene. Just because he had been standing there mute doesn’t mean he wasn’t thinking, exercising his brain to come up with a solution for the meantime. He knows how stubborn Yifan can get and even if he doesn’t know Taekwoon that well, he can safely assume he is the same. Before fists are raised and bones get broken, he comes in between them and puts a hand on Yifan’s shoulder. Yifan shifts his gaze to Junmyeon and he sees the silent request in the latter’s soft gaze. Taekwoon watches as the hard lines on Yifan’s face soften a little. Junmyeon looks back at Taekwoon, “Taekwoon-sshi please. We are all after the same person.”

That has both men look down at Junmyeon who continues, “You want to expose Choi Siwon and Yifan wants revenge on Kang Daesung.”

“Who is Choi Siwon?” Yifan frowns.

“Like hell you don’t know,” Taekwoon scoffs.

“No, he doesn’t,” Junmyeon assures Taekwoon. “Kang and Yifan don’t have a working relationship anymore.”

Taekwoon scowls, “What do you mean?” He crosses his arms.

“Choi Siwon is the chief of the Homicide Department. And the detective thinks either Siwon or my boss, Choi Seung-hyun, has ties to,” he looks at Yifan, “your boss.” Then he shifts his gaze back to Taekwoon, “Kang Daesung and Yifan have no love lost. Daesung tried to kill him. So basically we are after the same person. So…why fight?”

Junmyeon hopes this helps but to no avail, because then Taekwoon says, “Still doesn’t explain why you are here with a criminal like him. Do you know how many people he has killed?” Taekwoon wishes he could stop getting personal. He knows Junmyeon is right, if he is being truthful right now, he had a very valid point.

Yifan shuts his eyes and takes a few deep breaths. He daren’t look at Junmyeon. He is guilty, and at times he would stay awake at night, haunted by all the souls that died too soon because of him. He knows how much blood he has on his hands. He hasn’t felt guiltier than before as Taekwoon says those words. But then Junmyeon says, “I don’t care about that. I am here because he needs my help. And I will stay by his side…as long as he needs me.” This afternoon had changed everything for him.

Yifan turns his head to look at Junmyeon, his words prickling Yifan in the warmest way possible in his heart. He felt some sort of emotion he couldn’t recognise. But his heart swelled and it wanted to burst out of his chest. Junmyeon meets his gaze and smiles, while his fingers lace through Yifan’s, “He is what he is. I know that. I don’t need to be reminded Taekwoon-sshi.” I love him.

Yifan squeezes Junmyeon’s hand. He couldn’t open his mouth; he couldn’t form the right words. He couldn’t trust himself with coherency. He just keeps staring at Junmyeon even as the latter turns his head to look at the detective. Taekwoon scowls. He reads their body language loud and clear. He realises something else. He clears his throat, “I see. I need to think about this. You do have a point. We will talk again.”

Junmyeon heaves a sigh of relief. Yifan still held his hand and he tried to not think about that too much. Yifan addresses the detective, “Yes. I think that is better.”

Taekwoon turns around to walk to his car. But after a few paces, he turns his head and looks over his shoulder. He stares at Junmyeon’s direction, “Don’t be so blinded by your feelings.”

Taekwoon walks away but leaves a slightly panicked Junmyeon in his wake. Yifan frowns, he doesn’t get it but one glance at Junmyeon’s stricken face tells him that whatever it is has the latter shaken. He wonders what is it that got Junmyeon so nervous.

 

Zitao says as he slumps down on the couch, “Why is that dude here?”

Jongdae sits down opposite him and asks, “But, who is he?”

“The detective whom hyung was talking about,” Zitao replies, “I saw him at that café hyung took me that day.” His mind flashes back to Seokjin flirting with him. He feels his cheeks getting hot. He shakes his head to get rid of that particular flashback.

Jongdae frowns, “What does he want?”

“Who knows,” Zitao shrugs.

Jongdae is about to shout at Zitao for being so blatantly nonchalant, while the curiosity burns inside him when his phone beeps with an incoming message. He picks the phone to see it is from an unknown number. He opens the text—

Unknown 04-05, 8.30 p.m.
Hello Jongdae-sshi. I am Krystal. There are some things I want to talk about with you and Yifan-sshi. I got your number from Lee Hongbin. I hope you don’t mind, but the matter I want to talk about is serious. The info I have may help you and Yifan. Please do reply if you are willing.

Jongdae’s eyebrows furrow. Zitao asks, as he sees his friend frowning, “Who you texting?”

“No one, it is from Krystal. She wants to talk us,” Jongdae replies, his thumb hovering over the reply icon.

“What does she want?” It is Zitao’s turn to frown a little.

“She didn’t say…but I think it might be something about Lay-ge.”

“We already know who killed Lay-ge!” Zitao leans forward.

“No, I mean, she may know something about what Kang’s master plan is. You think killing Lay-ge by using Lu-ge was a random incident?”

“No, not really,” Zitao leans back. “We all know that.”

“So…should I reply yes?”

“Yes.”

Jongdae quickly types out his reply and taps send. Within a few seconds, he gets a reply, telling him thanks and the place Krystal wants to meet them.

Zitao says, “I am going with you guys.”

Jongdae nods his slightly.

 

That night, when the house has fallen silent, and Jongdae had informed Yifan over dinner about Krystal, Junmyeon exits the bathroom after brushing his teeth and enters Yifan’s room. No one decided this, they didn’t even talk about the sleeping arrangements, it only seemed right for both of them to share the bed again, just like those days. So Junmyeon sleeps in Yifan’s room now. Junmyeon claims Yifan’s room is airier than his. Yifan is sure it is the mattress.

Yifan hasn’t fallen asleep. He was waiting for Junmyeon. When the door opens, Yifan shifts to make some more space for Junmyeon and lifts up the blanket. Junmyeon smiles and crawls in. As soon as Junmyeon has tucked himself against Yifan, the latter drops the blanket over him and smiles in the head of brown hair tucked under his chin. Yifan knows this is what contentment feels like. He doesn’t know how long this will last, but he is not letting go of this yet.

Junmyeon sighs, “This is nice.”

“It is,” Yifan breathes, totally enjoying it.

Junmyeon presses his face closer and murmurs, “Hey, I am sorry for today. I had no idea that Taekwoon-sshi would do something like that.”

Yifan cards his fingers through Junmyeon’s hair. He says, “I don’t blame you for anything.”

“I know. It is just…”

“You are living a double life now Junmyeon. Don’t tell me you didn’t know.”

“I did. I am not going to deny that I didn’t. But I hoped to keep them separate as long as possible.” Junmyeon feels a burden lifting off his chest. It was nice to discuss this with Yifan.

“You can’t. Let’s not forget what I and you do for a living.” Yifan feels lighter to put this out there. He feels like he is giving Junmyeon opportunities to leave him, to walk away and not turn back and waste all of himself on a man like Yifan. Junmyeon just deserves so much better. He is not worthy of all that Junmyeon has given him so far.

Junmyeon makes his voice smaller when he says, “That isn’t enough.” What Yifan said isn’t enough for him to abandon Yifan.

Junmyeon thinks Yifan hasn’t heard him, but Yifan does. He curls his finger under Junmyeon’s chin and tilts his head up. He asks, “What do you mean?”

Junmyeon hoods his eyes, finding it hard to meet Yifan’s deep gaze. His confession is on the tip of his tongue. It would be so easy to slip but he cannot afford the heartbreak that Yifan would serve him on a silver platter. Junmyeon has been masochistic enough, he doesn’t think he would be able to handle that. So he refuses to meet Yifan’s probing eyes. Then he finds soft, plump lips press down on his.

Yifan doesn’t push but he asks, his mouth gently moving against Junmyeon’s. The touch is so light, and soft, Junmyeon finds himself melting. His fingers curl around Yifan’s neck as he moves his lips in tandem with Yifan’s. The fingers that were casually caressing his head becomes restless as they grip his hair and tilts his head further to get better access. Yifan slips in his tongue as Junmyeon lets him. The fact that Yifan asked for permission leaves Junmyeon all burning and melting simultaneously.

The kiss deepens further as hands slip under clothes to touch skin. When Junmyeon feels lightheaded, Yifan moves his mouth down, kissing his chin, then his neck and his hands roam lower across his back. Junmyeon is burning up as Yifan’s light touches wreck him apart.

Junmyeon,” Yifan murmurs reverently against Junmyeon’s collarbones.

Junmyeon head is clouded and his thought are a mess. His resolve his melting at the hot, wet mouth at his neck and the deep voice vibrating against his skin. “I am in love with you,” he breathes out.

Yifan stops. His mouth stops and his hands still against Junmyeon’s lower back. Junmyeon bites his lips as dread fills his being. He instantly regrets the words that slipped out. But Yifan weakened his resolve so much with his burning touch. He shifts away from Yifan’s embrace and prepares himself to meet Yifan’s eyes. He gulps and looks up. He wishes to run when he sees the surprised look on Yifan’s face.

And Yifan is surprised. Suddenly, what Taekwoon said made sense. Don’t be so blinded by your feelings—Taekwoon saw it before Yifan could. Taekwoon saw Junmyeon’s real feelings before Yifan could. He gulps but this weird feeling choking him doesn’t go away. Junmyeon bites his lips, red from the kiss, and looks down, not before Yifan catches the glisten in those eyes. Yifan’s head is a mess now. Junmyeon’s six little words had broken something in him. He finds it hard to clear his head, to find his voice and say something, anything. He whispers, “Junmyeon…”

Junmyeon takes a staggering breath as he presses his palm on Yifan’s chest, right beside the thundering ten-ounce organ inside Yifan. Junmyeon collects his words. He isn’t going to lie, he did prepare a contingency plan for this because he knew deep down that Yifan wasn’t the kind to drop down on his knees and profess eternal love to him. So he was happy in loving Yifan in silence. But then again, he never has been good in seeing his resolutions through.

So, Junmyeon says, “Look, I know what you think about…love. I overheard you shouting at Luhan your views.” Yifan’s eye widen at that. He wants to correct Junmyeon but his mouth refuses to cooperate. “So, I am not that kind that will die if you never feel the same. I may seem like that type but I am not. I can live with it.” No, Yifan doesn’t think Junmyeon is weak. He thinks Junmyeon is like water that flows gently but over time can erode even the hardest rocks. Like what he did to Yifan, broke through his defences and washed away some of the pain. “I don’t expect anything from you.” Yifan gulps. He doesn’t know why his heart hurts, and his lungs try to work harder, but he wants Junmyeon to stop talking already.

Junmyeon turns to his side, his back facing Yifan now. Junmyeon just wanted to hide the tears. Yifan’s silence tells him everything. Tactical errors…

Yifan has never been a man of words when it came to all his feelings. So he clutches at the wind and wishes he could tell Junmyeon all that the man makes him feel: like the way Junmyeon smiles has him feeling light and happy; like when Junmyeon caresses his head, he feels content; like when Junmyeon is writhing and moaning in his arms, he wants to record that in his mind so that he never forgets. But he fails. So he shifts closer to Junmyeon, ignoring the sharp stab of pain in his leg and puts his arm over Junmyeon. He tucks his head against Junmyeon’s neck and says, finally finding some words, “Junmyeon…I am not worth it.”

Funny how that is the first thing Yifan thinks. He is not worthy. He will never be worthy for Junmyeon’s love. What was Junmyeon thinking? Why would Junmyeon make the mistake of falling for someone like him? A criminal, someone who has killed so many. And Junmyeon is too good...too good for him. So he says the next thing on his mind, “Don’t waste your love on me.”

Junmyeon stops crying as Yifan’s soft words seep in. He wipes his face and puts his hand on Yifan’s, who doesn’t waste time to link them. Junmyeon exhales at that gesture, his heart beats loud, and he says, “You can’t tell me who to love or not.”

“I can, if it is me.”

“No you can’t.”

“Yes, I can.”

“No.”

“Yes.”

“Yifan.”

“Junmyeon.”

There is a beat of silence, then they both burst out laughing. Junmyeon doesn’t know why, but he feels slightly better. Yifan is just glad to hear that sound. When their hysterical fit is over, Yifan kisses Junmyeon’s nape and says, “I don’t know Junmyeon…this is another terrible idea.” He doesn’t know what he feels yet, but he knows one thing for sure—he doesn’t want to leave Junmyeon even though every rational thought tells him to. All that he has experienced with Junmyeon, has changed him somewhere, and he cannot imagine what would be if he suddenly lost all that, even though that is the smarter thing to do, to stop whatever is happening between them.

Junmyeon sighs, “I know. But the heart wants what it wants.”

Yifan doesn’t have a comeback to that.

 

Soojung twists the paper napkin in her grip. She had arrived five minutes earlier than the scheduled time after all. She watches the waiter coming close to her. She hurriedly orders the first thing she reads off the menu. She waits for another couple of minutes before the trio of Yifan, Jongdae and Zitao arrive in the small eatery close to their garage.

They take their seats and Jongdae speaks up first, “So Krystal-sshi—”

“If isn’t too much,” Soojung says, “Please refer to me as Soojung from now onwards. I don’t want to be called Krystal anymore.”

Yifan scowls, “You left your job didn’t you?”

Soojung startles, “W-what, how do you know?”

“There is only one reason ever why we stop using our other names.” Yifan thinks about how Minseok dropped his other name—Xiumin—when he left his crew and started working in Butterfly.

“Yeah,” Soojung shyly nods her head, “I couldn’t work for that man anymore.” She takes a deep breath, “And the reason is because I know what Daesung did.”

Zitao, who had been silent till now, asks, “What did he do?”

Soojung raises her head, “It took me a while but I found out…Daesung had Kim Minseok kidnapped so he could manipulate Luhan. I feel like an idiot for not connecting the dots. I arranged those appointments Luhan had with Daesung. I saw Luhan leaving the office in tears. But why didn’t I see it before?”

Jongdae’s voice softens when he says, “This isn’t your fault Soojung-sshi.”

“It is,” Soojung says, “There is more. Yixing knew something was wrong so he had me looking into the reason why Daesung send Kwon Jiyong to kill Yifan-sshi. I found out.”

The three of them exchange a look. Yifan says, “Please continue.”

“I noticed some calls were coming from other Kang factions from all over Asia. Daesung usually never accepted those calls. I even got a few angry emails. But he specifically instructed me to never reply to them and delete them. I didn’t think too much of it. But then I heard about the deaths of those university kids related to the Yongsan drug heist. I started to think…so I recovered some of the emails. I read them. They were nothing but thinly veiled threats from the family about the failure of the drug heist.”

“But why? The drugs weren’t worth more than a hundred thousand right?” Jongdae asks.

Soojung shakes her head and smirks, “No. It was worth fifteen million dollars.”

The three men gasp at the same time. Yifan says, “I had no idea…”

“This information was confidential. But when Woo Jiho got hold of the information, he wanted a big piece of it,” Soojung says.

“And that is why he used Zelo to betray Daesung,” Yifan nods his head, “Then Daesung used Zelo to kill all seven of them.”

“Seven?” Jongdae asks.

“Yeah, Yongguk, Daehyun, Himchan, Jongup, Youngjae and the Woo brothers.”

“Not the Woo brothers,” Soojung says, “That was all Zelo…I overheard a conversation between Daesung and this man. Daesung kept saying that Zelo didn’t kill the Woo brothers on his orders.” Soojung pauses when the waiter returns with her order. The guys hurriedly order some things too. She continues after the waiter leaves, “But that is not all. This is just my deduction but…I think Daesung had originally planned to put all the blame on Yifan-sshi and his crew, that is, all of you.”

Jongdae gasps, “What?”

“Yeah. Everybody in the organisation knows Daesung hates Yifan-sshi. But remember, this is just what I think. The day I found out Daesung was trying to kill Yifan-sshi, I got suspicious. I told all of this to Yixing.”

Yifan, who had quietly listened, rubs his chin, “No. You could be right. Although this is fifteen years too late, I am not surprised that Daesung would do something like this. This would be like hitting two birds with one stone—he gets to shake of the anger from his family and gets rid of me at the same time. I expect nothing else from the person who killed his own parents.”

Soojung frowns but doesn’t comment on it. She picks at her sandwich only to realise it is tuna. She whispers, “Killing Yixing was all part of his plan. If he hadn’t used Luhan, he still would have used someone else. He wanted to wipe out all of you one by one. Then he would have claimed himself hero, that bastard.” Tears prickle behind her eyelids, but she tries to control herself. She closes her eyes and the dimpled smile she loved so much flashes in her mind.

“Soojung-sshi? Are you okay?” Zitao asks. He can hazard what she was thinking as her eyes cloud over. He starts to think she is rather beautiful.

“I don’t even like tuna,” Soojung whispers.

“Here, I can eat it. You can have my mixed berry smoothie.”

Zitao takes her plate as she smiles in gratitude. He thinks she looks rather pleasant when she smiles. Yifan notices the look Zitao and Soojung share, and he thinks how one tragedy linked them all in the most intimate way. Now Soojung wants revenge on Daesung too. Well, more the merrier.

 

Chapter Text

Morning breaks with Junmyeon spooning Yifan. The taller man wakes up first. He looks over his shoulder to see soft brown hair sticking up in all directions. He smiles a little, even though Junmyeon’s confession last night was a fresh memory still. His heart races as he thinks about it, Junmyeon’s words reverberating around his head. Junmyeon is deeply asleep, so when Yifan moves and sits up, Junmyeon doesn’t even stir. Yifan has a meeting with Krystal today. He gets up, his leg has him hissing in pain as he puts pressure on it. He opens a drawer to find some painkillers, when he remembers that Junmyeon told him not to take any painkillers on an empty stomach. He smiles and scratches his head as he closes the drawer. Junmyeon did change him in so many ways. He looks down at Junmyeon, who is curled in a foetal position, his hands clutching at empty as Yifan moves away, and his heart twists.

Junmyeon looks so small and defenceless when he is sleeping like this—his hands curled and knees tucked to his chest. Yifan leans down and throws the blanket over him. Then he limps towards the bathroom and gets in the shower.

Junmyeon wakes up a lot later. He blinks, wondering where the warm body he had latched on to is. He realises the bed is empty. He sits up and rubs his face. Has Yifan already left with the others to meet Krystal? He looks at the clock on the opposite wall. It was only eight. He yawns and rubs his eyes. But his yawn gets interrupted when Yifan comes back to the room. In wet hair and torso bared, a plum towel tied dangerously low around his waist. Junmyeon is…well, his brain has short-circuited.

Yifan is busy rubbing his head with another smaller towel, so Junmyeon shamelessly ogles at the hard planes of his body. Water is dripping down from his neck to the top of the towel. Junmyeon’s eyes follow the trail from the delicious collarbones to the flat stomach to the V-shaped plane, the plum colour contrasting against the wet skin. The sunlight flushing the room in mellow light tinted Yifan’s skin to a tanned effect and Junmyeon wants to run his hands all over.

Yifan thinks his hair is dry enough as he stops. He watches Junmyeon watching him and he smirks, “Like what you see?”

Junmyeon blushes furiously, and tears his gaze away. Of course he likes what he sees. Yet he huffs, “What? No. Nothing new there.” Wait…Junmyeon thinks he just made it worse.

Yifan grins salaciously. He gets closer to the bed and puts one knee on the mattress. This little move has the towel splitting sideways, and Junmyeon briefly glances down at the expanse of taut thigh muscle, his palms itching to run his hands all fucking over already. Yifan curls his hand under Junmyeon’s chin, grin in place, he whispers, “Nothing new? Hmm.”

Junmyeon narrows his eyes and finally, places one palm flat over Yifan’s abdomen. He looks at his hand and chuckles, “God, I am so pale compared to you!”

Yifan looks down. His skin tingles at the warm touch over his cool skin. He sees how, indeed, pale Junmyeon is in contrast to his slightly darker complexion. Junmyeon pouts, “I can’t even get tanned!”

Yifan chuckles at how cute Junmyeon is being now. He rubs his thumb over Junmyeon’s lower lip. Junmyeon looks up. Yifan smiles, his voice soft as he says, “You are a lot of things compared to me.” Yifan is surprised at his mollified admission.

Junmyeon blushes and feels very shy all of a sudden at the way Yifan was looking at him. His heart beats wildly. He feels Yifan’s nose brushing his cheek and his wet hair tickling his temple slightly. Yifan pulls back a little and locks gazes with him. Junmyeon feels breathless at the intensity radiating from Yifan. Junmyeon reaches up and tangles his fingers through the wet black hair.

They are a few beats away from kissing each other when there is a discreet knock on the door. Yifan hurriedly pulls back and straightens up. Junmyeon gets down from the bed and says, “Yes?”

“It is me, Zitao is calling for breakfast downstairs,” Jongdae says.

Yifan says, “We will be there shortly.”

Junmyeon takes a few deep breaths. God, why is everything all haywire with Yifan around? He is about to head out when Yifan grabs his wrist. Junmyeon looks at him, eyebrows raised. Yifan says nothing as he leans down and places a chaste kiss on Junmyeon’s chapped lips. Junmyeon blinks as Yifan smiles at him indulgently. He says, “Good morning.”

Junmyeon shakes his head, a small smile on his face. Suddenly he wonders if last night was the right thing to do. Maybe it was. And he is happy instead of being miserable. There is an effervescence in his soul and sunshine in his heart, for a change. A miracle indeed.

Junmyeon and Yifan join Zitao and Jongdae for breakfast. Junmyeon realises the latter two are all dressed up. He asks, “All of you are going?”

Zitao nods his head. Junmyeon says, “Oh. I will be alone then…”

Yifan suddenly realises that, yeah, Junmyeon would be all on his own here. He doesn’t want to leave Junmyeon unprotected. He is about to tell Zitao to stay when Junmyeon beats him to it, “I will go to work today. I haven’t been there in a long time. Plus, I am on leave without even informing anyone.”

Yifan frowns, “Absolutely not. If Taekwoon-sshi is right—”

Junmyeon presses his lips and says with an unimpressed face, “Do you really think they will do something to me inside the department, where there are other cops and pathologists running about, and CCTV installed every fucking where? Don’t worry, after I am done, I will wait at Butterfly, pick me up from there.”

Jongdae says, “Well, hyung has a point.” His rice goes down the wrong pipe when Yifan glares at him. Zitao silently passes him some water.

Yifan knows Junmyeon has a point. That doesn’t mean he likes it. But Junmyeon was staring pointedly at him, his ‘mom’ glare in place. Yifan admits defeat, “Fine. I will pick you up by lunchtime.”

“Okay,” Junmyeon says, feeling a little bit touched at Yifan’s barely concealed concern for him. He looks down at his bowl of food as he thinks that he may not know what exactly he and Yifan were now, after last night’s incident, but he is glad that Yifan is still here, still with him. He is content with this, ridiculously so.

 

Junmyeon unlocks the door to his office. He hasn’t been here in four days. He has never done this, not come to work for days without prior notice. His mind is in a severe tug-of-war—between feeling bad for not reporting to work and feeling worried if indeed Kang Daesung’s cousin is his boss, and all that he has worked for has been for naught.

“Junmyeon-sshi?” someone calls him.

Junmyeon turns around to see Jaebum blinking in surprise at him. Junmyeon smiles, “Oh, hi.”

“I thought you weren’t supposed to come in this week.”

Junmyeon frowns. He never asked for leave, that too for a week. His brain whirs as he thinks hard. He deduces that this can only be the work of Seung-hyun. Does he know? Is he in danger? But no, he is safe here, where there are people. He smiles, and lies, “I had some work.”

“Oh? You feeling better then?”

“Yeah.” He wonders what he is supposed to be feeling better from. But he is saved when Jaebum just nods his head and leaves, not before offering to help. Junmyeon kindly declines. He walks towards Seung-hyun’s office.

He isn’t sure what he is going to say to Seung-hyun, or even how to confront him. Junmyeon wonders if it is tactful to go barge in and say “Hi I know your cousin is in the mafia and you are covering up for him, aren’t you? Also your cousin tried to kill the love of my life. And, oh, the man who made my coffee used to be a criminal as well”. He needs to reframe that sentence.

He twists the handle, knowing very well that his boss isn’t in his office right now, he is usually out on his morning rounds. But as soon as he opens the door to his boss’s office, the plywood hits something solid. Junmyeon pushes the door and sees a young man sprawled on his bottom, his messenger bag by his side, its content spilled out on the floor. Junmyeon says, “Oh my god I am so sorry!” He rushes forward and grabs the man’s elbow. Closer, Junmyeon realises the man is merely a teenager. His skin is shiny with a spot of acne blemish. His hair is bleached. As Junmyeon pulls him to his feet, he is taken aback to see this guy is as tall as Yifan.

The man (boy?) smiles, dusting the back of his jeans, “No problem. I thought hyung was back so I got up to stand behind the door.”

“Oh. Hyung?” Junmyeon asks.

“Oh, the M.E, Choi Seung-hyun? He is my older brother.”

“Oh, I am the assistant M.E, Kim Junmyeon.” Junmyeon shakes hand with the stranger.

“I am Choi Junhong. Hyung talks about you!”

Junmyeon frowns for a fraction of a second. The name Junhong sounded familiar, but where had he read it? His eyes fall down to the bag, lying unceremoniously on the ground. He crouches over and starts picking up the folder, some sheets of paper off the ground. Junhong gets flustered, “Oh let me!”

“No, let me! I pushed you,” Junmyeon reassures. As he picks up one sheet, two small orange containers are revealed underneath it. He reads the labels: carisoprodol and Haldol. The Haldol container looked brand new.

Junhong picks up his bag and another orange medicine container is uncovered. Junmyeon reads that label too: Valium. He frowns. Carisoprodol, Haldol and Valium? He knows what those medicines are used for, but for the love of his life he cannot remember now.

As Junhong and Junmyeon straighten up, Seung-hyun enters the office. His face loses colour when he sees Junmyeon. He stutters, “Ju-junmyeon? What are you doing here?”

Junmyeon says, equally flustered, “Uh, about my leave…” he realises he still is holding onto the clear plastic folder that fell out of Junhong’s bag. It is a university curriculum. He reads the university’s name. Suddenly the pieces fall into place. He gives it back to Junhong not before glancing for a moment at his boss. His boss is staring straight at him. Their gazes lock for a second. Something passes between them, a current of understanding or accusation. Or both.

Seung-hyun coughs, “Yes. What about your leave?”

“I was hoping you could extend it,” Junmyeon says slowly as his brain keeps stitching the clues together, “The issue, isn’t solved yet.”

“That is alright Junmyeon. You have worked non-stop for three years,” Seung-hyun forces his facial muscles to smile.

Junmyeon nods his head, “I will be off then. Nice meeting you Junhong.”

“Same here Junmyeon-sshi,” Junhong grins. Junmyeon thinks he is too young, if his assumptions are right, Choi Junhong is too young for all this.

He doesn’t look back as he leaves. He misses the quiet, controlled look Seung-hyun gives him.

 

Yifan inhales, then he grabs the handle of the door. He exhales as he pushes. He is at Butterfly and he had already seen Seokjin glaring at him from the counter. Also he couldn’t understand why Zitao adamantly refused to accompany him and Jongdae. Yifan safely assumes that Junmyeon has told something regarding him to Seokjin because as soon as he steps in, the café owner shouts, “You!”

Yifan tries to smile, but his face doesn’t cooperate with him, “Hello.”

Junmyeon stays still in his seat, Kyungsoo opposite him stares at Yifan in confusion over his shoulder. Jongdae spots them and slides in a chair next to Junmyeon. He introduces himself to Kyungsoo, “Hello, I am Kim Jongdae.”

Kyungsoo turns to look at the man in front of him. He says, “Do Kyungsoo. Have we met before? You look familiar.”

“Sure we have! I saw you in the hospital where ge was admitted!”

“Oh, right. You came once with, uh, Luhan-sshi? You are Yifan’s friend.”

“Yes!”

While Jongdae distracted Kyungsoo, Junmyeon conveys through his eyes to Seokjin, over Kyungsoo’s head, to not confront Yifan in front of Kyungsoo. Seokjin gets it as he walks closer to Yifan and narrows his eyes at him. He whispers, angrily, “I know everything. You are lucky Kyungsoo is here. I may not know wushu, but I know whoopyourass. And god knows how much I want to kick your non-existence ass.”

Yifan is mostly fearless because he knows he can take on anyone threatening him, but Kim Seokjin scared him a little because he was related to Junmyeon after all. And Junmyeon is important to him. Wait, what. Yifan’s heart skips a beat when he realises that simple fact.

“Go sit,” Seokjin orders, “I will get lunch for you. Hold up, Junmyeon said there are three of you, but there’s only two.”

“Uh,” Yifan says, “Zitao refused to leave the car.”

The mention of Zitao’s name lights up Seokjin’s eyes. The narrowed eyes expressed menace, but now they were shining with much mirth. He grins, “What car is it?”

“Uh, we drove Junmyeon’s car.”

“Good, good.” With that Seokjin skips out of the café. Well, kind of skips. He is too jubilant and Yifan wonders why.

Yifan takes the seat beside Junmyeon, who beams at him. Yifan then greets Kyungsoo, who says, “I heard your memories are back.”

“Yeah,” Yifan scratches his neck.

“Good! It is almost time for another x-ray. I heard you are not living with Junmyeon anymore. But please do get checked at any hospital of your choice.”

“Yes Dr Do.”

Kyungsoo and Junmyeon had already eaten. Kyungsoo stands up and says, “Well, I need to get going. Take care of yourself Yifan. And it was nice meeting you Jongdae!”

Kyungsoo walks away from the table and Yifan nearly falls off his chair when he sees Hee-yeon rushing out of the kitchen and grabbing Kyungsoo to plant a kiss on him. Yifan whips his head to stare at Junmyeon, who shrugs, “I know. I was equally surprised when I came here and saw them making out. They are dating, FYI.”

“Oh!” Yifan looks at the couple. He thinks they look nice together. He says, “I guess his sass matches her level of savagery.”

Junmyeon laughs, “You couldn’t be more right!” Then he notices Seokjin entering the café with a very flustered Zitao in tow, “Oh god, I was wondering where Zitao was.”

Yifan looks over at them and frowns, “Why is Zitao…blushing?”

Seokjin and Zitao walk to their table. Zitao sits down and Seokjin drawls, “I hope you like my cooking Tao-zi.”

Zitao nods his head slightly, clearly embarrassed. Seokjin grins as he heads for the kitchen. Jongdae looks at the receding back of Seokjin and then he looks at his blushing, embarrassed friend. He says, “Um, what?”

“Huang Zitao has a hapless crush on my cousin,” Junmyeon laughs.

Zitao’s head snaps at Junmyeon’s direction as he cries, “Hyung!”

Jongdae gasps, “What? And here I thought you were straight!”

“I am!” Zitao protests.

“Then why are you blushing?”

“I don’t fucking know!”

Junmyeon laughs, “It is not his fault per se. Seokjin is kind of an attractive asshole. I have seen straight men salivating after him before.”

“I am not salivating!” Zitao protests again. Fine, okay, he did think if Seokjin’s lips were as soft as they looked. But he wasn’t drooling.

Yifan laughs, the sound pleasantly surprising everyone at the table, “Well, Seokjin is kind of pretty.” But Junmyeon is better, he thinks.

“Oh? Yeah, I suppose,” Jongdae cocks his head to one side.

Zitao mumbles, “You are asexual as fuck, what would you know?”

“I am technosexual!” Jongdae shouts which has a couple on a date three tables away from them, look at him in distaste for interrupting their conversation.

Yifan grimaces, “Please, we don’t need to hear just how much you love your computers again.”

Jongdae pouts. Junmyeon grins. Seokjin returns with the food and it has Zitao fumbling all over again. That has everyone breaking out in laughter again.

Just as they are finishing their food, Minseok enters the café through the backdoor. Zitao, Junmyeon and Yifan were laughing at something that Jongdae said. He looks at the source of the noise and his gaze collides with Yifan, whose grin is wiped off as soon their eyes meet. Jongdae notices him as well. So does Junmyeon. Thankfully, Seokjin was in his office talking to Namjoon over the phone.

Yifan stands up and makes a move to get closer to Minseok, who raises a hand. Minseok gets closer to their table instead. He doesn’t say a word before he punches Yifan in his face.

Junmyeon watches in slow motion as Minseok fists his right hand and then makes contact with Yifan’s jaw. Yifan staggers, because Minseok is strong, but Junmyeon catches him. Minseok trembles, his voice heavy when he says, “You could have killed him. I would have hated you less Kris.”

The way he hisses Yifan’s street name, has the latter hanging his head in shame, and sadness. Junmyeon removes his hand from his back. Yifan straightens his spine as he whispers, “I am sorry.”

“You think sorry will bring him back?” Minseok hisses, his tears now flowing free down his cheeks.

“I know it won’t,” Yifan sighs, “You are not the only one who lost him Xiu-Minseok. I lost my friend as well.”

Minseok bites his lips. He squeezes his eyes shut to stop the tears. He opens them, and his gaze falls on Junmyeon, and the sympathy in his face. He is surprised that Junmyeon is still with Yifan…this could only mean one thing, he fathoms. He looks at Yifan as he whispers, “Cherish what you have Kri-Yifan. You don’t know what losing your loved one feels like.” With that he walks away. He wears his apron and tries to put on his barista mask over his tear-stained face.

Yifan gulps at Minseok’s parting words. It feels like his heart dropped to his knees, and this fear grips him. He feels soft fingers prodding his jaw. He looks over to see Junmyeon touching his face. Junmyeon says, “I am glad you didn’t fight him back.”

Yifan closes his eyes and sighs, “No, I deserved it.”

Zitao says apologetically, “I am sorry boss. I thought I shouldn’t intervene.”

Yifan sits down as he sighs again, “No, it is okay.”

 

An hour later they are back in Yeoju. Yifan complains of pain which gets Junmyeon all worried so he drags Yifan with him to the hospital. Chanyeol’s sister, Yura, helps them again. There is inflammation and she prescribes some medicines. Junmyeon heaves a sigh of relief.

They are alone in the car (Zitao and Jongdae had left from the hospital and headed for the house) when Junmyeon says, “I met Choi Junhong today. He is related to my boss. Small world.”

Yifan’s eyes widen. He realises that Jung Taekwoon was right. He says, “Choi Junhong…I know him.”

Junmyeon stops the car at the side of the road and stares at him, somewhere between surprised and curious, “What? Explain.”

Yifan gulps, suddenly afraid how this information will effect Junmyeon, and their relationship, whatever that is. He says, “Junhong is Daesung’s half-brother.”

What? But…wait, Junhong said Seung-hyun’s his older brother. That means…Daesung’s man in the police is my boss?” Junmyeon feels like his world suddenly crumbled apart and crashed down on him, “And my boss and the Homicide Department’s chief are cousins. They are all related!”

Yifan mutters, “Wow, well I didn’t know that. That would mean Junhong shares his parents with both Daesung and Seung-hyun.” He rubs his lip in consternation.

“Shit,” Junmyeon says as he remembers, “Junhong goes to the same college as the victims who were involved in the Yongsan drug bust!”

“Yeah…I know.”

Junmyeon startles and narrows his eyes, “Yifan? What are you not telling me?”

 

Junmyeon slams the car door shut and stomps up to the porch. Yifan bites his lip as he stays seated inside the car. His leg is paining and he doesn’t think he can stand up on his own. But he understands why Junmyeon raged off like that. He did tell all he knew about Junhong, or Zelo, as he likes to be called. He told Junmyeon how he knew that Zelo had killed all those people. He told how he had to save Zelo during the shootout.

He rubs his face as he prepares himself to get down from the car. Right then, the front door opens and Zitao jogs to the car. He says, “Hyung sent me. He said you might need help.”

Yifan frowns and nearly refuses to take Zitao’s help but decides against it. He rather not harm himself anymore. He roughly nods his head and lets Zitao support him.

As they enter the house, Yifan asks, “Where is Junmyeon?”

“I think he went to his bedroom,” Zitao replies.

“Take me there.”

Zitao helps him up the stairs and they stand awkwardly in front of Junmyeon’s bedroom door. Yifan says, “Go. I can take it from here.”

“Okay,” Zitao makes himself scarce.

Yifan knocks softly on the door. He hears a low “It is open”. Yifan pushes the door and enters. Junmyeon is on his bed, his legs are folded with his phone on one hand and a pet bottle of iced peach tea on another. Most importantly, he is wearing his glasses which has Yifan’s throat suddenly feeling very dry.

Junmyeon is so engrossed on whatever is on his phone screen that he doesn’t even look up. Yifan clears his throat, “I am sorry I withheld information.”

Junmyeon looks up over the thin black frame of his spectacles. He puts down his phone as he says, “You were protecting Junhong, why?”

Yifan comes closer and sits down beside Junmyeon. He stares at the rug under his feet as he says, “He is too young Junmyeon.”

All of a sudden Junmyeon understands. He takes a sip of his drink and sloshes the cool, sweet liquid in his mouth. He swallows and says, “You wanted to save him too, didn’t you?”

Yifan nods his head. He finds himself telling things to Junmyeon that he never even told Yixing and Luhan, “Junhong and I met a year ago. Daesung told me to keep an eye on him. He wanted the kid to learn how to be a killer. You saw him right? Did he look like a killer to you? He didn’t look like a killer to me. I wanted to protect him. I tried subtly discouraging him to join the organisation. But to no avail. His first kill was that Yongguk guy. You saw that guy’s body, you saw how violent he was. He is young, and he is volatile and emotional. He still has some soul left. Guys like Luhan, Jiyong or…me—we don’t do violence. It must always be clinical, soulless.”

Junmyeon puts down the bottle on the ground and sighs, “I heard how you saved Zitao, and Chanyeol-sshi’s sister. You keep trying…but sometimes you cannot.” Yifan finally meets Junmyeon’s kind gaze. “And that is why I fell for you,” Junmyeon whispers, “You have so much soul too Yifan. If you didn’t you wouldn’t try so hard. You did what you had to for survival. You tried to compensate every step of the way. But sometimes, you won’t be able to save everyone.”

Yifan gulps. Junmyeon is making his heart feel all funny again. Junmyeon is about to take off his glasses when Yifan grabs his wrist. When Junmyeon looks at him in confusion, Yifan gets flustered, “Y-you look good in glasses.”

Junmyeon grins, “Oh really?” He finds himself leaning closer to Yifan.

Yifan finds himself scooting closer to Junmyeon. When he sees Junmyeon leaning in, Yifan meets him halfway. He tilts his head sideways and licks along the seam of Junmyeon’s lips. Peaches. Junmyeon’s lips tremble as he parts them, allowing Yifan access. Yifan wastes no time in deepening the kiss.

When breathing gets difficult, they stop. Yifan chuckles, his forehead pressed against Junmyeon’s and his breathe ghosts over Junmyeon’s saliva-slick lips. Junmyeon murmurs, “What is so funny?”

“You tasted like peaches the first time I kissed you,” Yifan whispers and pecks Junmyeon once on his lips again.

Junmyeon blushes as he says, “I-I…I really like peach tea, okay?” He probably loves peach tea second after Yifan.

“And I like you.”

Yifan raises his head as Junmyeon gasps, “What?”

“I remember telling you I liked you one night, before my memories returned. I wasn’t lying Kim Junmyeon.”

Junmyeon heart beats too fast, too loud. He grabs Yifan by his neck and pulls him close against him, letting Yifan grab his waist.

Needless to say, that iced tea gets really warm before Junmyeon can get back to it.

 

That night, after dinner is done, Junmyeon says to Yifan, “I found medicines in Junhong’s bag. Full prescription bottles of Valium, Haldol and carisoprodol.”

“Valium?” Jongdae asks, “Isn’t that taken for anxiety issues?”

Jongdae and Zitao had been informed of all the new information. Junmyeon nods, “And carisoprodol is a depressant. But Haldol is an antipsychotic drug…” his brows furrow as he thinks. His voice is faint when he says, “Anxiety medication, depressants and antipsychotics…” he tries arranging his thoughts. There is something he reaches out in his mess of thoughts but he misses.

Yifan asks, “What are you getting at?”

Junmyeon shrugs, “I don’t know. I did send a message to an acquaintance of mine for help, she is a psychia—”

Suddenly the bell rings. Zitao frowns, “Who can that be?”

“It is possibly Taekwoon-sshi,” Junmyeon says.

“What is he doing here?”

“I called him,” Yifan says to temper down Zitao. Jongdae looks on confused.

Junmyeon gets up to open the door.

Chapter Text

Taekwoon glares at Yifan as Junmyeon hands him a cup of tea. Likewise, Yifan glares back at Taekwoon, annoyed at how host-like Junmyeon is being. Junmyeon mentally sighs and admits that yes, he has failed to reduce any hostility between the two men. They are supposed to cooperate, not trying to kill each other if Junmyeon leaves them alone.

Jongdae and Zitao were in the living room as well, silently, in the background, watching Yifan and Taekwoon mentally strangle each other. They felt a bit sympathetic for the pained look on Junmyeon’s face. It is obvious that these two—Yifan and Taekwoon—were alpha males and right now, they were busy establishing domination. Yifan on the logic that this is his den, his house. And Taekwoon on the point that he is on the legal side of the law and Yifan isn’t.

Junmyeon cautiously clears his throat, “So, uh, did you find anything about Choi Junhong?”

Taekwoon sips his tea. Tastes like some floral blend, he thinks. He doesn’t miss the glow that wrapped Junmyeon, or the small bruises along Yifan’s jaw. He wonders if the discomfort he feels in his soul is jealousy. He is Jung Taekwoon, he doesn’t do emotions. He says, “I did.” He puts down the cup and puts the folder he brought with himself on the coffee table. Junmyeon picks it up. Taekwoon speaks, “He is the son of Kang Ga-in and Choi Kibum. Now, Ga-in is the mother of Kang Daesung and Kibum is Seung-hyun’s father. Ga-in and Kibum’s wife were distant cousins.”

Jongdae whistles, “Incestuous.”

Junmyeon frowns, “Not really. Ga-in wasn’t related to Kibum by blood, just by marriage.”

Yifan says, “Kang Yunhyeong killed Ga-in and Kibum.”

Taekwoon asks, “How do you know that? The case of their death was closed as unsolved.”

“Yunhyeong had kind of adopted me by the time he got to know about the whereabouts of his estranged wife. I later heard that he killed her and her lover.”

Zitao crosses his arms and leans back into the couch, “So, what does Daesung want from you ge?”

“Revenge,” Yifan’s jaw hardens, “Daesung hated me from the very beginning. As long as Yunhyeong was alive, I knew I was going to be okay. I had been on my toes for the last three years, and so has Daesung. He is using the Yongsan debacle as an excuse to finally get rid of me.”

Taekwoon says, “But you could have gotten rid of him anytime you wanted.”

“It is not that easy,” Jongdae speaks up, “The Kang family is spread out all over Asia. If ge took out Daesung, someone else will try to get revenge.” No one notices the colour drain from Junmyeon’s face at that comment.

Taekwoon nods his head in comprehension, “And my boss and Junmyeon’s boss are very, very involved.”

“We are,” Yifan says, “All after the same person.”

Taekwoon and Yifan’s gaze meet, and this time the hostility is lowered. Instead, there is a thin thread of reason connecting them, a shared understanding, a common goal. Taekwoon slowly says, “Yes.”

“The knight gives his allegiance, and when the time comes, he must go to war,” Yifan narrows his eyes, “Especially when the allegiance falls apart.”

Taekwoon nods. He stands up and says, “Yet…not all knights are equal in the empire. I need to speak to you privately Wu Yifan.”

Yifan gets up, so does Junmyeon, worry etched across his face. Yifan nods, “Yeah, okay.” He leaves not before lightly touching Junmyeon’s cheek, silently promising him that he wouldn’t strangle the detective. Junmyeon sighs and nods his head. Taekwoon watches the exchange with a blank expression.

Junmyeon looks on worried as Yifan and Taekwoon head outside, to the backyard, to talk. He cannot help but bite his lips, feeling extremely on edge and nervous.

Jongdae says, “I don’t think they want to kill themselves anymore.”

“Yeah,” Zitao says, “What was that all about knights and empire?”

Junmyeon sighs and runs his hand through his hair, “Yifan and Taekwoon are the knights. The criminal world and the police are the respective empires that they were chosen to protect. They swore their allegiance to the very powers that betrayed them. So, now within this twisted logic, they found their neutral ground.”

Jongdae and Zitao nod their head, utterly impressed.

 

Yifan and Taekwoon re-enter the living room fifteen minutes later. They look calm and collected, and Junmyeon is relieved to find no marks of a fight on either of them.

Taekwoon picks up the folder from the coffee table and says, “I will take my leave now. We are going to work together. We have agreed to send both our bosses a message.”

Yifan puts his hands on his hips and nods, “Yeah. We both want Daesung to stop.”

“Goodnight then,” Taekwoon looks for a moment at Junmyeon, who looks back. Taekwoon thinks how he can never compare. But he shakes that ridiculous thought away. He needs to focus on the work at hand. He follows Junmyeon to the entrance. He says to Junmyeon, “I suppose, being blinded has its advantages.”

Junmyeon gasps. But then he finds himself smiling, “Maybe it has. How did you know by the way, that I…?”

Taekwoon gulps at the bright, fond smile aimed at him. He says, “Your eyes betray your innermost feelings…Especially around him.”

“Oh,” Junmyeon smiles again and drops his head, his cheeks dusted a light pink shade.

Taekwoon leaves before his rational thoughts abandon him and the stupid, emotional side tries to claw to the surface.

Junmyeon returns to the living room to find it empty besides Yifan who sits on the couch with his elbows on his knees and face tucked in his palms. Junmyeon sits down beside him and rubs his back, a bit panicked, “Does your leg hurt?”

Yifan sighs and raises his head to smile at Junmyeon. His smile is sad and it makes Junmyeon a little worried. He wishes he could smoke right now, but fractures and nicotine aren’t a good mix. Yifan shakes his head, “No. My leg is okay.” My heart is not okay; I don’t know what to feel anymore; I don’t understand what I feel; you don’t know what I have agreed to do, but it is the right thing to do. I will do anything to protect you. But he doesn’t want to say all that to Junmyeon. Instead he pats his lap and says, “Come here.”

Junmyeon raises an eyebrow but says nothing as he sits down on Yifan’s lap, straddling him in all honesty. They are facing each other and Yifan is looking at him all weirdly. His gaze is uncharacteristically soft and there is a small, slightly sad smile on his lips. Junmyeon frowns, not liking this one bit. He puts his hands around Yifan’s neck and kisses the corner of Yifan’s lips. He leans back and asks, “What is it Yifan? And don’t tell me nothing. I know something’s up. What did you and Taekwoon talk about? Did he say someth—”

Junmyeon is rudely cut off when Yifan kisses him, shutting his query down. Yifan moves in fast, but Junmyeon saw it coming and didn’t try to thwart him. All the chaotic emotion and anxiety that had been writhing around inside Junmyeon abruptly became too much to contain. Junmyeon shoves a hand in Yifan’s glorious hair and clenches it tight, holding him still as he sucks on Yifan’s tongue. Yifan’s groan is the most erotic sound Junmyeon ever heard, making the flesh between his legs tighten viciously.

Shocked by the fury of his reaction, Junmyeon wrenches away, gasping for precious air.

Yifan follows, nuzzling the side of Junmyeon’s face, his lips brushing over Junmyeon’s ear. He is breathing hard, too.

“I need to be inside you, Junmyeon,” Yifan whispers roughly, “I’m aching for you.” His tongue traces the shell of Junmyeon’s ear which makes him shiver. It felt like every cell in his body is straining towards Yifan. Resisting Yifan takes an impossible amount of energy, draining him and making him feel on edge. So gives up resisting every damn time.

Junmyeon whispers, huskily, “Upstairs. Now.”

Somehow they make the journey upstairs, even though Junmyeon’s knees wobble and Yifan is running on very low patience. As soon as they enter their room, Yifan dips his head to kiss Junmyeon again. He slowly pushes Junmyeon back till the back of the latter’s knees bump against the mattress. Junmyeon pulls back from the kiss which has Yifan whimpering a little.

Junmyeon turns them around and putting his hands on Yifan’s shoulder, pushes him down. Yifan looks on quizzically. Junmyeon explains, “You are not putting any pressure on your leg.”

Yifan smiles and takes Junmyeon’s hand and runs his fingertips over the palm, the simple touch sparking a fierce lust. He says, “How considerate.”

The next moment Junmyeon is tugged forward on Yifan’s lap and his mouth is on the former, kissing him fiercely. Junmyeon shoves his hands in Yifan’s hair again and kisses him back. Junmyeon loved the way Yifan kisses him, as if he had to, as if he’d go crazy if he didn’t and had nearly waited too long. Junmyeon sucks on his tongue, having learned how much Yifan liked it, how much he liked it, how much it made him want to suck Yifan elsewhere with the same eagerness.

Yifan’s hand slips under Junmyeon’s shirt and are sliding over his bare back and he moans, feeling the prod of Yifan’s erection against his hip. Junmyeon shifts, moving to comfortably straddle him. With his knees on either side of Yifan’s hips, he wraps his arms around Yifan’s shoulders and deepens the kiss. He licks into Yifan’s mouth, nibbles on his lower lip, strokes his tongue along his…

Junmyeon runs his hands down Yifan’s chest through the cotton t-shirt, feeling the unforgiving hardness of his muscles. He murmurs against Yifan’s swollen lips, “I want you, Yifan.” He rocks his hips against Yifan, stroking himself with the hard length of Yifan’s cock. Yifan’s breath hisses out between clenched teeth.

“I need you, Yifan,” he says breathlessly, inhaling Yifan’s scent, which is richer now that he is aroused. Junmyeon thinks he might be slightly intoxicated, just from the enticing smell of his skin, “You drive me crazy.”

Yifan cups Junmyeon’s face, his lips pressing hard against Junmyeon’s, who unzips the fly on his denims. When he falls heavily on Junmyeon’s palms, he groans, the sound both pained and erotic. Junmyeon squeezes him gently, his touch deliberately tender as he sizes Yifan with both his hands. Yifan is so hard and hot. Junmyeon slides both of his fists up Yifan’s length from root to tip, his breath catching when Yifan quivers beneath him.

Yifan grips Junmyeon’s thighs, his hands sliding down beneath the waistband of his sweatpants until his thumb finds the divide between his butt cheeks, slowly tracing, making Junmyeon shiver uncontrollably. “Gosh,” he murmurs into Junmyeon’s mouth, “I want to spread you out and lick you ‘til you beg for my cock.”

“I would beg now,” Junmyeon pleasurably shudders at Yifan’s salacious promise, “But I don’t want you hurting yourself.”

Yifan groans in disapproval but then Junmyeon strokes him with one hand and reaches for the drawer beside their bed with the other, dragging it open to grab the bottle of lube they used yesterday.

Yifan helps Junmyeon slide down his sweatpants and underwear off his legs. Next he watches in muted awe, his eyes glittering in the semi-darkness of the room, the room being illuminated only with the one lamp on the other side, the smoky light falling on Junmyeon’s beautiful face as he slides in two fingers coated in lubricant inside himself. Yifan bites his lips as Junmyeon throws his head back, closes his eyes shut and moans.

“Holy shit Junmyeon,” Yifan breathes shakily as he kisses the underside of Junmyeon’s jaw.

Junmyeon scissors his fingers, finds his sweet spot and moans, “I-I can’t help it.”

“I don’t want you to help it,” Yifan says and pushes his finger beside the two inside Junmyeon, biting his lip when Junmyeon moans louder and clenches helplessly around him. “I’m breaking all my rules with you.”

The seriousness of Yifan’s low tone sends a burst of warmth and confidence through Junmyeon. He rasps, “Rules are meant to be broken.”

Yifan pushes out Junmyeon’s hand away as he pushes another finger and jabs not-too-gently. Another helpless moan slips out of Junmyeon’s lips. Junmyeon says, his voice strained, “Enough.” Setting his hands on Yifan’s shoulder for balance, he lifts onto his knees, rising to gain the height he needs to hover over the crown of Yifan’s thick cock. Yifan’s fingers slip out and his hands come to fist at Junmyeon’s hips.

“Go slow,” Yifan orders hoarsely, lifting his hips to push his pants down further. The willingness to give himself over to Junmyeon, to give him the control to pace them, spurs Junmyeon’s desire to fever pitch.

Yifan’s erection brushes between Junmyeon’s legs as he moves and the latter whimpers, so aching and empty, as if the orgasms he’d given him earlier only deepens his craving rather than appeasing it.

Yifan tenses when Junmyeon wraps his fingers around the former and positions him, taking the wide crest against the slicked up folds of his ass. The scent of their lust is heavy and humid in the air, a seductive mix of need and pheromones that awakens every cell in Junmyeon’s body. His skin is flushed and tingling.

“God. Junmyeon,” Yifan gasps as Junmyeon lowers onto him, his hands flexing restlessly on Junmyeon’s thighs.

Junmyeon closes his eyes, feeling too exposed. The intimacy is overwhelming. They are eye-to-eye, only inches apart, cocooned in a small space with the rest of the world—the wind blowing outside, making the tree’s branches sway and creak, a window bangs against the pane somewhere in the house—around them. Junmyeon could sense Yifan’s agitation, knows he is feeling as centred off from the world as he is.

“You’re so tight,” Yifan gasps, his words threaded with delicious agony.

Pressing his hand against Junmyeon, he touches the latter’s throbbing cock and begins to massage it in slow, expertly soft strokes. Everything in Junmyeon’s core tighten and clenches, sucking Yifan deeper. Opening his eyes, Junmyeon looks at Yifan from under heavy eyelids. Yifan is so beautiful sprawled beneath Junmyeon in his faded blue t-shirt, his powerful body straining with the primal need to make love.

Yifan’s neck arches, as if he is struggling with invisible bonds. “Ah,” he bit out, his teeth grinding, “I’m going to come so hard.”

The dark promise excites Junmyeon. Sweat mists his skin. He becomes so hot that he slides smoothly down the length of Yifan’s cock until he nearly sheaths him. A breathless cry escapes Junmyeon before he has taken him from the root. Yifan is so deep, he could hardly stand it, forcing him to shift from side to side, trying to ease the unexpected bite of discomfort. But his body didn’t seem to care that Yifan is too big. It is rippling around Yifan, squeezing, trembling on the verge of orgasm.

Yifan curses and grips Junmyeon’s hip with his free hand, urging Junmyeon to lean backward as his chest heaves with frantic breaths. The position alters Junmyeon’s descent and he opens, accepting all of Yifan. Immediately Yifan’s body temperature rises, his torso radiating sultry heat through his clothes. Sweat dots his upper lip.

Leaning forward, Junmyeon slides his tongue along the sculpted curve, collecting the saltiness with a low murmur of delight. Yifan’s hips churn impatiently, rubbing against Junmyeon’s prostate. Junmyeon lifts carefully, sliding up a few inches before Yifan stops him with that ferocious grasp on the former’s hip.

“Slow,” Yifan warns again, with an authoritative bite that sends lust pulsing through Junmyeon.

Junmyeon lowers, taking Yifan into him again, feeling an oddly luscious soreness as Yifan pushes just past his limits. Their eyes lock on each other as the pleasure spreads from the place where they connect. It strikes Junmyeon that they are both almost completely clothed except for the most private and intimate part of their bodies. Junmyeon finds that excruciatingly carnal, as are the sounds that Yifan makes, as if the pleasure is as extreme for him as it is for Junmyeon.

Wild for him, Junmyeon presses his mouth to Yifan’s, his fingers gripping the sweat-damp roots of Yifan’s hair. Junmyeon kisses Yifan as he rocks his hips, riding the maddening motions of Yifan’s hand on his cock, feeling the orgasm building with every slide of Yifan’s long, thick cock into his hot cavern, hitting straight where Junmyeon wants it to hit.

Junmyeon loses his mind somewhere along the way, primitive instinct taking over until his body is completely in charge. He could focus on nothing but the driving urge to fuck, the ferocious need to ride Yifan’s cock until the tension burst and set him free of this grinding hunger.

“It’s so good,” Junmyeon sobs, lost to Yifan, “You feel…ah, it’s too good.”

Using both hands, Yifan commands Junmyeon’s rhythm, tilting the latter into an angle that has the big crown of his cock rubbing the tender, aching spot inside Junmyeon. As Junmyeon tightens and shakes, he realises he is going to come from that, just from the expert thrust of Yifan inside him, with the smooth, sometimes rough, stroke on his cock. “Yifan.”

Yifan captures Junmyeon by the nape as the orgasm explodes through him, starting with the ecstatic spasms of his core and radiating outward until he is trembling all over. Yifan watches Junmyeon fall apart, holding his gaze when Junmyeon closes his eyes. Possessed by his stare, Junmyeon moans and comes harder than he ever has, his release shooting out in spurts all over Yifan’s hand and t-shirt, his body jerking with every pulse of pleasure.

“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” Yifan growls, pounding his hips up at Junmyeon, yanking his hips to meet his punishing lunges. Yifan hits the end of Junmyeon with every deep thrust, battering into the latter. Junmyeon could feel him growing harder and thicker.

Junmyeon watches Yifan avidly, needing to see it when he goes over the edge for Junmyeon. His eyes are wild with need, losing their focus as his control frays, his gorgeous face ravaged by the brutal race to climax.

“Junmyeon!” Yifan comes with an animal sound of feral ecstasy, a snarling release that rivets Junmyeon with its ferocity. He shakes as the orgasm tears into him, his features softening for an instant with an unexpected vulnerability. Junmyeon’s wall shake with the warmth spurting into him, filling him.

Cupping his face, Junmyeon brushes his lips across Yifan’s, comforting him as the forceful bursts of his gasping breath strikes his cheeks. I love you so damn much.

Junmyeon.” Yifan wraps his arms around Junmyeon and crushes the latter to him, pressing his damp face into the curve of Junmyeon’s neck.

Junmyeon knows just how Yifan feels. Stripped. Laid bare.

They stay like that for a long time, holding each other, absorbing the aftershocks. Yifan turns his head and kisses Junmyeon softly, the strokes of his tongue into Junmyeon’s mouth soothing his ragged emotions.

“Wow.” Junmyeon breathes, shaken.

Yifan’s mouth twitches, “Yeah.”

Junmyeon smiles, feeling dazed and high.

Yifan brushes the damp bangs off Junmyeon’s temples, his fingertips gliding almost reverently across Junmyeon’s face. The way he studies Junmyeon makes his chest hurt. Yifan looks stunned…and grateful, his eyes warm and tender. The right words get stuck in his throat. So he kisses Junmyeon, softly, ardently, can’t really believing that this man chose him over anybody else who would have been lucky enough.

Yifan sighs as Junmyeon rubs his hands on Yifan’s nape. Yifan finally knows. He can finally get all the voices in his head to stop bickering, to agree that he is in love. So stupidly in love with Kim Junmyeon.

 

Junmyeon wakes up with a jolt as his bladder protests. He is so damn comfortable cuddling Yifan, but no. He gets up with a tiny groan, careful not to wake Yifan up. They had cleaned up and then didn’t even bother with clothes as they dove under the blanket. He pulls up his sweatpants and drags his feet out of the bedroom.

After he is done, he spots his phone light up on the bedside table. He picks it and squints as the light harshly burns his retinas. He sees it is somewhere after three in the morning and he has a message from Choi Seung-hyun. He frowns, as his grogginess vanishes. He opens the text and reads it, his frown deepening. He bites his lips and looks down at Yifan.

Interesting turn of events.

Chapter Text

Jung Taekwoon stands outside the office of the Chief of the Homicide Department. He raises his hand to knock, but stops as he takes a deep breath. He wonders what would it take for him to be the next dead body. Amber went to Siwon and she was deftly shut up, eternally. He might face the same fate again. But he has to do this. Because Siwon and his corruption is a sacrilege to the profession. Siwon should be punished for what he did for the department. He is supposed to upheld the honour of this profession. But he didn’t.

So Taekwoon must be brave, and do what needs to be done, no matter what.

“Come in,” Choi Siwon says when Taekwoon knocks.

Taekwoon enters with a grim face and steadfast determination burning in his eyes. Maybe Siwon notices the look in his eyes. The chief frowns, “Is everything okay?”

Taekwoon shakes his head, “No, sir, nothing is okay.”

Siwon leans forward and places his elbows on his desk. He asks, “What do you mean?”

Taekwoon smirks and throws a folder on Siwon’s desk. A few pages slip out of it and splay on the desk. Siwon briefly glances down and back at Taekwoon. He stands up. slightly enraged at his subordinate's blatant disregard, “Jung Taekwoon! What is the meaning of this?”

“I suggest,” Taekwoon says, in a low, dark voice, “You go over that folder sir. It is extremely enlightening.” Then he turns around and leaves.

Siwon frowns but sits down and picks up the manila folder. He spots the stray pages and picks them up next. His eyes widen and fear trickles down his spine when he reads the content of the pages.

He thought he destroyed these documents. He thought his crimes won’t come back to bite him in the ass. His entire world, everything that he had worked for will be reduced to rubble. The grave he dug—his little security bubble has burst, time has arrived to crush him and throw him six feet under.

With shaky hands, Siwon dials a number on his phone. He says, his voice shaky, as he loosens his tie, when the receiver picks up the call in three rings, “Daesung, I am fucked.”

“What did you do?” Daesung says in a bored voice, “It is midnight you know, I was almost sleeping.”

“The Yongsan case…a detective in my department knows.”

“Knows what?” Siwon finally has Daesung’s undivided attention.

“Everything Daesung, every-fucking-thing!”

 

Jongdae yawns wide enough to fit a bagel inside his mouth as he drags himself to the kitchen where Yifan is helping Junmyeon make breakfast. Junmyeon notices the dark circles and droopy eyes on Jongdae. He says, “Jongdae? Are you okay?”

Jongdae shakes his head, “Nah, I was helping Jackson.”

“Jackson Wang?” Yifan says, “That sneaky bastard?”

“Yeah. He calls me up at eight yesterday night to tell me he needs my help hacking into this policeman’s personal network. Took me all night.”

“Oh,” Junmyeon nods as he puts a steaming cup of sugary milky coffee, just the way Jongdae likes it, in front of the latter, “A policeman you said?”

“Yeah,” Jongdae smiles as he sips his drink, thanking his good luck that Junmyeon is here making him his coffee, “It is relevant to our situation. Do you know one Choi Siwon hyung?”

Junmyeon startles, “Yeah, I do. He is the homicide department’s chief.”

“Yeah, guess who Jackson works as an informant for?”

Yifan crooks an eyebrow, “Informant? I knew he was up to no good.”

Junmyeon ignores Yifan as he asks, “Who?”

“Jung Taekwoon.”

Both of Yifan’s eyebrows rise up his forehead. He whistles, “Small world.”

Junmyeon snorts, “Tell me about it.” He is now used to surprises like these.

“So,” Yifan sits beside Jongdae, “What did Jung Taekwoon want from Jackson?”

“Every encrypted file from Choi’s system,” Jongdae answers.

“You mean, all the secret, high-level access files on the system?” Junmyeon frowns, “I thought the firewall protected all that.” Even though his knowledge of technology is limited, he does know how zealously information is guarded at the police department.

“No firewall is enough for Chenchen!” Jongdae shouts.

“Oh god ge, shut up,” Zitao grumbles as he walks into the kitchen. He did not have a good night’s sleep either. He was up all night trying to get hold of YJ, a demolition expert. Then he knows he positively heard noises from ge's room last night. Noises.

Junmyeon chuckles and silently passes Zitao his black coffee. The Chinese man grumbles his thanks as the smell of freshly brewed heavenly elixir (that some other may call coffee) wakes him up.

Yifan silently watches everything. It is kind of amazing for him to see how Junmyeon now knew what their coffee preferences were. Somehow, Junmyeon had weaved himself in the tapestry of his dysfunctional life seamlessly. His heart clenches as he thinks of his deal with Taekwoon.

“You would do this?" Taekwoon asked, incredulous.

“I would do anything for Junmyeon,” Yifan fisted his hands. He was serious.

Taekwoon sighed, “You two, I don’t understand completely this love you share.”

Yifan had startled, his heart jumping wildly in his ribcage. Love?

Love. It took Taekwoon for Yifan to understand his true feelings for Junmyeon. He silently stares at Junmyeon, in this brightly lighted kitchen, joking with Zitao and Jongdae. Junmyeon’s smile lights up his entire face, his eyes become crescents and Yifan’s breath staggers. He never knew what love is, but if love means losing your breath every time he smiled, then Yifan knows now and he doesn’t mind forgetting how to breathe.

Yifan is rudely brought out of his thoughts when Zitao says, “So, do I finalise the deal with YJ?”

Yifan nods his head. He looks how the clouds roll in on the brightness on Junmyeon’s face. Junmyeon knew about their plans. Yifan had told him everything this morning. Junmyeon had held onto him tightly, his small body shivering in fear. But Yifan had promised that he will be careful. Junmyeon had made him promise to come back in one piece. And Yifan wanted to keep this promise.

Junmyeon clasps his hands and says, “Both of you, be very careful. Please.”

Zitao smiles, “Promise, hyung, we will be okay.”

That doesn’t dispel Junmyeon’s fear completely. But he chooses to have some faith.

Jongdae decides to stay with Junmyeon as Zitao and Yifan get ready to leave. Jongdae escapes to the basement to work on some more requests that Jackson send his way (he swears he is going to murder that short, stumpy Chinese guy one day with a very blunt and rusted instrument). Junmyeon helps Yifan dress.

Yifan is trying to get his hair under control, when Junmyeon, standing at the entrance to the bathroom, says, “Is this really necessary?”

Yifan puts down his comb and turns his head to look at Junmyeon. Yifan had his earrings back on, and the sunlight falls on them, making them glint. Junmyeon is momentarily distracted by the light bouncing off the silver. Also, Yifan is wearing this worn leather jacket that just seemed to amplify his attractiveness. Junmyeon is having a hard time not jumping the tall man—to stop him from executing his plan, and to kiss him senseless.

Yifan comes closer, which has Junmyeon tilting his head back, and says, “If Daesung was content with leaving me alone, then we wouldn’t be here.”

Junmyeon gulps. He knows what Yifan is getting at, and somewhere deep down, he knows Yifan is right. But he is so scared for Yifan’s life. Junmyeon rises on his tiptoes and curls his fingers around Yifan’s neck. He softly presses his lips against Yifan’s. He says, “Come back home safely. Please.”

Yifan mutely nods his head. Junmyeon said home. He cups Junmyeon’s face and his voice is hoarse when he says, “I will, for you. Anything for you.” He swoops forward and catches Junmyeon’s lip in a tender kiss.

Junmyeon sighs as his eyes flutter close. He wouldn’t want to lose this feel, this touch or this taste for anything else in this world. Yifan pulls back too soon which has Junmyeon whining a little. Yifan chuckles, “So hard to satisfy you.”

“It’s your damn fault,” Junmyeon blushes as he ducks his head and runs his hands over the leather jacket’s lapels, “And this jacket’s fault.”

“Oh?” Yifan laughs, “Didn’t know you had a thing for leather.”

Junmyeon bites his lips and looks at Yifan through his lashes (he is completely aware what that visual will do to Yifan, this cheeky man). His voice is intentionally sultry when he says, “Well, even though this jacket does look good on you, it will look better on the floor Yifan.”

That has Yifan inhaling sharply as he tried to command his body to not send all his blood rushing downstairs. Short, pale, angelic Kim Junmyeon could be such a tantalising devil at times…he needs to remember that. He exhales and tucks his head at the crook of Junmyeon’s neck. He places an open-mouth kiss there, and says, “God fucking damn it, you are impossible.”

Junmyeon lightly bites Yifan’s ear, and then uses his tongue to soothe over. He whispers, “Only for you.” He smirks and mentally cheers himself, because he had no idea he had this side to him. Anyone who knows him would have said that Kim Junmyeon and seduction don’t fit into the same sentence, but oh look, here is Wu Yifan sighing against him.

Yifan leans back and shakes his head. He is too damn lucky. Junmyeon smiles, “Anyway, I am going to visit my mom today,” when he sees Yifan about to protest, he puts up a hand, “Don’t worry, I will take Jin with me!”

Yifan frowns but nods. As long as Junmyeon isn’t all on his own. He holds Junmyeon’s hands as they start making their way downstairs.

Junmyeon does feel terrible for lying to Yifan. He feels like he is breaking Yifan’s absolute trust in him. But he knows that Yifan would lock him up in a room if he told him the truth—that Junmyeon wasn’t going to visit his mother.

 

“This the right place?” YJ, or Choi Youngjae, says as he jumps down from his car. He stares, not at all impressed at the sparse and desolate warehouse a few paces away from him.

Zitao says, rolling his eyes, “Yes.”

“Doesn’t look like the place where you would keep powder gold, y’know?” Youngjae jabs at Zitao with his elbow. Zitao scowls, not at all feeling like sharing the joke with Youngjae.

Yifan scowls, “So what do you expect a warehouse that hides million dollars’ worth of drugs to look like? Painted yellow and orange with a neon sign saying “Hey! Drugs Here!”?”

Youngjae says, “Ah well, you do have a point.”

Zitao coughs, “So, okay here’s what we do...we take out the drugs and then you bomb this shit down.”

“Don’t you worry,” Youngjae grins, “I have a particular proclivity for pyrotechnics.”

“Did you just…did you just quote Harry Potter?” Zitao asks, kind of impressed at Youngjae and kind of surprised at himself.

Yifan looks at Zitao in surprise, “You should stop hanging out with Jongdae. His nerd is rubbing off on you.” Zitao just grumbles at that, he had been Jongdae’s personal tissue every time the older watched the eighth movie in the popular movie series.

“Anyway let’s go,” Youngjae chirps, a bit too happy for Yifan and Zitao’s taste, “I love blowing up stuff!”

“Calm down,” Zitao waves his hand, “We need to move out the cargo first. Hongbin and Soojung will be here anytime.”

A few seconds later, a small truck rolls in the discreet lane that the trio were waiting. Soojung and Hongbin get down. Soojung says, “I must say, it has been a while since I used a gun.”

Zitao smirks, “I have heard of your days as the exclusive shot for the Koo association.” The Koo faction was a small group that was absorbed by the Kang organisation and that is how Soojung ended up working for Daesung.

Soojung tilts her head and smirks, “Looks like you checked up on me.”

“I like to know everything about everybody.”

Youngjae rolls his eyes and huffs, “If you two kids are done flirting, can we already get to the good part?”

Yifan hides his grin behind his hand as Soojung blushes and looks away, trying to talk with Hongbin while Zitao growls, “Who you calling kid, huh? You are like, only eighteen!”

“Hey! I turn twenty soon!”

Hongbin solemnly says, “So, when are we going to move?”

Yifan says, “In ten minutes when the watch changes.”

Soojung says, shifting her weight to one foot when she touches the smooth metal of her gun, tucked inside her jacket, “Are you expecting something Yifan-sshi?”

Zitao silently admires the perfect proportions of Soojung’s body, exquisitely highlighted by the lean lines wrapped in black denim and leather jacket. Her waist length hair is tied up today, her face devoid of make-up. She still managed to look like a supermodel without it. What was a girl like this working as a plain old secretary for a man like Kang Daesung? Then he bites his tongue, he cannot believe he is checking out his dearly departed ge’s girlfriend. He deserves to go to hell for that obviously.

Yifan says, “We carry guns because when it comes to Daesung, I never know what to expect.”

“I can agree with that,” Soojung says, her eyes misting over as she fights back the urge to weep in his memory. Anything for Yixing.

 

Junmyeon feels like he is committing some grave crime as he paces by the river bank. He tries to remain still by sitting down but it doesn’t help as his restless feet has him up and about, and pacing all over again. He thinks he might have covered a mile already when a man arrives and stands behind him. Since Junmyeon couldn’t see him, he nearly walks into him.

Choi Seung-hyun holds Junmyeon by his shoulder to halt him, “Were you waiting for too long?”

“No,” Junmyeon lies, then thinks better of it, “Actually, I arrived twenty minutes early, I think.”

Seung-hyun nods. His gaze drops to the ground as he says, “I didn’t think you’d actually come, considering everything else…”

Junmyeon crosses his arms and frowns, “So you know that I know?” He doesn’t want to beat around the bush. He knows why they are here, by the river with the winds ferociously whipping around them.

“Yes. I guessed when you looked at Junhong like that. I could see your brain working.”

“Did Amber die because of this?” Seung-hyun feels ashamed as he nods his head. Junmyeon gasps and squeezes his eyes shut. “So you and Choi Siwon are working for Kang Daesung.” He had known, he had proof, but somewhere he had refused to admit the truth. But now, saying it out in the open, drives home the truth hard, nearly knocking the air out of him.

Seung-hyun frowns, “Yes.” He hates the disappointed look on Junmyeon’s face. His knees feel weak all of a sudden. He sits down on a bench. Junmyeon stands behind him.

Junmyeon asks, “Why?”

“Why?” Seung-hyun laughs bitterly, “What would you do for love Junmyeon?” When Junmyeon doesn’t answer, he continues, “I did it all for Junhong.”

“Junhong is Zelo, and he killed ten people in less than a month.” Junmyeon’s voice is hard and unforgiving.

“He,” Seung-hyun gulps as his gaze drifts across the shore, “Can’t help it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Junhong has dissociative identity disorder.”

Junmyeon’s eyes widen as he realises what the medicines he had seen that day means. He slowly says, “So, the murders he did were…”

“The doings of Zelo, his second identity. Junhong is a kid, but Zelo is a killer.”

A moment passes as both men stay silent, thoughts humming in their heads incessantly. Finally, Seung-hyun speaks up, “I want you to know and understand Junmyeon. You are with Yifan, and Yifan and Daesung hate each other. Unwillingly, or willingly, you are in the middle of this.”

Junmyeon sits down beside Seung-hyun as he realises that his boss had a point. Suddenly, all of their lives were now entangled in the most intricate and dangerous way. He says, “Okay.”

“Junhong and I are half-brothers, we share the same father. So are Daesung and Junhong, they share the same mother. When my father and his mother died, Junhong was there. He saw his parents being brutally murdered. He was only four years old.”

“He created a separate identity to cope with the trauma?”

“Yes. But he didn’t display it before he turned sixteen. I was an assistant M.E. then. I couldn’t cope with the expenses. Psychological treatment requires not only patience but also enough capital. That is when Daesung offered to help. Siwon jumped in because he wanted a promotion. He did it for the position, and I did it for my brother. Do you get it now Junmyeon? I did it to help my brother, but before I could see it, Daesung took over our lives. We cannot escape.

"Then I hired you as the assistant M.E. You were smart, you managed to impress everyone on the board." Seung-hyun chuckles.

Oddly, Junmyeon understands. Ever since Yifan walked into his life, he has finally understood how life wasn’t all black and white; there was always too much grey. No good or bad, just a lot of ambiguity. Seung-hyun did what he had to do for his brother. He says, “I know about the Yongsan shootout. So Daesung used Junhong, no, he used Zelo for his own purposes, didn’t he?”

“You are clever,” Seung-hyun smiles sadly, “Yes. But there is something you might not know.”

“What?”

“My brother was used by Zico to get back at Daesung first. Junhong had befriended Yongguk in college. When the guy learnt about Jun’s connection to Daesung, Zico got excited. Then Jongup accidentally discovered Zelo. Jun slipped, he was off his meds for a while and Jongup, Yongguk and Zico saw an opportunity. They swiped Jun’s meds with fakes and Jun slowly became Zelo. Then Zelo was working for Daesung in an attempt to get information about the huge shipment arriving at the Yongsan warehouse.

“When the day arrived, Daesung got wind of it. Zico wanted to steal, so he sent Jun and his friends from college, along with a few other hired guns. Daesung sent his people and Yifan. A shootout was inevitable. I learned all about this recently. I was curious as to how Yifan and Junhong knew each other. I got to know something else too…

“And this is why I called you here. Yifan saved Jun’s life. And I am grateful, so very grateful Junmyeon.” Seung-hyun clasps his hands, “I owe Yifan.”

Junmyeon bites his lips. So atypical of Wu Yifan. He is certain Yifan has some sort of saviour complex. He says, “But why are you telling me this? You are admitting to be connected to the mafia. And Daesung will come after you as well.”

“I know that, and I don’t care. He can kill me if he wants, but I am doing this for Junhong.”

Seung-hyun doesn’t say anything else but Junmyeon understands. He feels pity, and sadness. He has never met this Daesung guy (and he doesn’t want to) but he really, really hates him for ruining so many lives. He presses Seung-hyun’s shoulder, trying to convey his unsaid words.

When Seung-hyun leaves Junmyeon alone, he calls Seokjin. His cousin picks up in three rings, “What.” He sounded a little breathless.

“I was wondering if you are free for lunch. I am going to visit my mom, and I was hoping you could accompany—” he hears Seokjin groan, he frowns, “Are you okay?”

There is some muttering and a deep chuckle. Junmyeon starts blushing when he realises. He says sheepishly, “You are with Namjoon aren’t you? I will call you later!”

“No! He is gone,” Seokjin sounds embarrassed. “He just wanted his goodbye kiss. He stayed over last night. He was trying to get his hands down my pants.”

Junmyeon deadpans, “That was too much information.”

“Whatever, and yes, come over you free-loader.”

“Whatever.” Junmyeon can’t help but roll his eyes as he disconnects. He did tell Yifan he was going to visit his mother, might as well do it. Also, he feels like the worst son of the year, or the century. In the middle of his mess of a life right now, he nearly pushed his mother to the back of his mind. Some child he is.

 

Yifan is roughly pulled by Zitao to the ground as a bullet nearly whizzes by his face. Zitao shouts, “Ge? Please stay down! You are a freakin’ liability right now!”

Yifan presses his lips in a thin line. Okay, Zitao has a point. He sits down behind a crate, away from the line of fire and nods his head. Zitao leaves him to go help Soojung.

They had entered the warehouse as soon as the shift changed but a few stragglers saw them. As expected, gunfire was inevitable and so far, thankfully, no one had died and Yifan’s side was winning. Soojung hit with bullets aimed at hands or feet; Zitao used his wushu; Hongbin used his hands and feet; Youngjae had brought along a steel baseball bat and Soojung threatened him with her gun anytime she caught him trying to hit people on their head. Yifan had strictly ordered not to kill anyone. He wasn’t willing to sacrifice any more innocent lives in this battle.

Soon, the fight ends with broken arms and feet. Yifan’s team is mostly unscathed except for Hongbin who had blood dripping down his temple. Yifan comes out from behind the crate and he looks at Hongbin, “You okay?”

Hongbin nods, “Knuckle dusters. How many crates do we move?”

“All the ones at the back. Then—”

“We blow shit up!” Youngjae whoops which has Zitao slapping his head.

Yifan shakes his head, “First, take out all the injured men away from here.”

“Yes sir!”

There were only five guards. Zitao and Youngjae tie their hands, and push them outside. They tell them to run, not before confiscating their mobile phones. Meanwhile Soojung, Yifan and Hongbin start moving the more expensive drugs out. Zitao and Youngjae return to help them. When all twenty crates are moved, Yifan says, “It’s your turn now, Youngjae.”

“Yes!”

Youngjae gets to work, placing bombs all over the place. The others had already left and were waiting for him by the truck. When Youngjae returns, he fishes out his detonator. He asks, “So what do we do with the drugs?”

“Hongbin will take some, and so will you. You could pass it on to Jackson, I hear he has contacts in Hong Kong,” Yifan says.

“Yeah. This is a very pricey loot, huh.”

“I plan to throw them away,” Hongbin says, his face dark.

“What bro? This is good money!” Youngjae exclaims.

Hongbin shakes his head, “The only reason I agreed to this was because of this. Kris-hyung knows.” He says nothing else in explanation as he walks up to the truck and hops up to the driver’s seat.

Yifan says, grimly, “He lost his brother to drugs two months ago.”

“Oh,” Soojung says.

“Go ahead Youngjae,” Yifan nods at the younger.

Youngjae grins. “Yippikay motherfucker!” And presses the detonator.

This time Zitao doesn’t palm his face at Youngjae’s enthusiasm as the warehouse in front of them blows up in fire and smoke, disintegrating and burning. The flames lick high up the sky and the smoke billows crazily. Yifan watches it burn as he says, “Damn you Kang Daesung.”

 

Junmyeon is still with Seokjin when he sees it on the news. He had visited his mother and is having a late lunch with Seokjin in the latter’s apartment, with the television on, when the breaking news of a bomb blast in a supposedly empty warehouse in Yongsan flashes on the screen. Junmyeon places his chopsticks down on the table and sighs.

Seokjin looks at the screen, “Terrorists? Juvenile delinquents?”

“Could be,” Junmyeon lies.

“Anyway, I have something to say.”

Junmyeon notices the odd tone his cousin uses. It sounds like he is unsure. Junmyeon asks, “What is it?”

“Namjoon wants to move in with me.”

“So?” Junmyeon grins, “Isn’t that a good thing? Why do you sound so unsure?”

“Because this is my first serious relationship!”

“Do you love him?”

“Of course I do! What kind of a moronic question is that?”

“Then what is your problem?”

That gets Seokjin to stop talking and think. Finally, he slowly says, “I am just…afraid.”

Junmyeon smiles, “I know. But if you are in love and he makes you happy, then what the fuck are you afraid of? If you feel like this is the right thing to do then it is. Stop questioning yourself too much.” Kind of like what he is doing right now.

Seokjin nods and a beatific smile lights up his face. He dreamily says, “Yeah.”

Junmyeon takes his leave after he is done with lunch. He wants to reach home before Yifan does. God knows what has happened in that warehouse. He doesn’t even know if all of them are okay.

 

Yifan comes home with Zitao in tow as the sun dips below the horizon slowly. He gets down from the car and refuses Zitao’s help as he walks towards the back of the house. He is stunned speechless at the view before him.

The sky is painted a rush of oranges and reds with a purple blue line at the far horizon. The light reflected off the river, making it look like liquid fire. When Yixing found this place, Yifan was sceptical but Yixing was so adamant. He said they needed this place not only for hiding but also to take a break from all the darkness that surrounded them. Yifan understands now.

At the memory of friend, his throat chokes up. He shakes his head and walks inside the house through the back door. He finds Jongdae and Zitao in the kitchen, talking. Jongdae, as soon as he sees Yifan, says, “Saw it on the news.”

Yifan nods his head. “Is Junmyeon home?”

“Yeah, hyung arrived a couple of hours before you did.”

“Okay.”

He walks upstairs to their room only to find Junmyeon fast asleep in the middle of the bed. Yifan’s heart clenches when he sees the way Junmyeon is curled up, a slight furrow on his forehead. He doesn’t disturb him. He decides to take a shower first.

When he returns, Junmyeon is still asleep, but he has shifted on his side, leaving ample space for Yifan, who lies down beside him. Junmyeon doesn’t stir as Yifan wraps his limbs around the smaller man and tugs him close. A small grumble is heard but Junmyeon doesn’t wake up, instead he presses his cheek to Yifan’s chest and sighs. Yifan smiles as he runs his fingers through velvet brown hair.

Yifan sighs. He feels terrible for keeping secrets from Junmyeon, but he is also doing this for Junmyeon after all. He also wishes he could open his mouth and say the right words but he always had been a failure with emoting anything. But in his defence, he has never been in love either, so what does he know?

But if love means feeling at peace, or in other words, when he makes you feel a sense of peace when he is in your arms, then he is sure this is love. 

Chapter Text

Junmyeon didn’t plan to nap but he did overeat at Seokjin’s place and promptly fell into a food coma as soon as his head hit the perfectly soft yet firm mattress. Seokjin is so good at noodles, it is not his fault. So when he wakes up to warm breath on his neck and strong arms wrapped around him, he is startled. He knows it is Yifan by the scratchy surface of the plaster he feels against the sole of his foot. He squints over his shoulder and smiles. Yifan’s eyes are open and he smiles back at Junmyeon. They say nothing, each wrapped around the feeling of each other, of this moment of sheer heartfelt bliss, this warmth. It felt like they were in their own personal bubble. And nothing can touch them here.

Yifan softly says, afraid to break this seashell like fragility of the moment, “Hey.”

Junmyeon turns to his other side and snuggles in closer. He kisses Yifan under his jaw, his lips soft and moving to murmur, “Hey.”

“How is your mother?” Yifan kisses the top of Junmyeon’s head.

“Same old, but today she talked about how she once used to write books.”

“Your mother wrote books?”

“Mostly for children. With nice illustrations.”

“Oh wow.”

“Yeah. I used to help colour at times. I got so good at colouring within the lines!”

“I could never colour within the lines. I once coloured a crow so messily that my teacher couldn’t even tell if it was a piece of coal or a bird.”

Junmyeon chuckles, his body shaking, his hair tickling Yifan which has the latter grinning. Junmyeon stops and tilts his head to look at Yifan. He cups Yifan’s face, his thumb rubbing circles over Yifan’s cheekbone. He mutters, “I am really glad you are okay.”

“Tao kept me grounded, like literally.”

“Good.” Junmyeon doesn’t say anything as he tips his head back. Yifan obliges him with a kiss that is slow and sweet—a simple reaffirmation of their precious, complicated connection.

“Do you lovebirds want dinner or nah? Chanyeol is here with cake!” Jongdae shouts from the other side of the door.

Yifan would have liked to ignore Jongdae and keep kissing Junmyeon but the latter sits up. When Yifan scowls at him, Junmyeon shrugs, “I heard cake.”

“You would choose cake over me?” Yifan’s tone is only slightly petulant and incredulous, but all in jest.

Junmyeon grins and gets down before Yifan can get a hold of him. Yifan shakes his head and smiles as Junmyeon exits the room, swinging his hips, a little too excited for baked goods. If love means that you find every silly antic of his precious, then he is so in love.

 

Next morning when Junmyeon wakes up, he finds a message from Choi Seung-hyun waiting to be opened on his mobile phone. He frowns. The message looked urgent. Seung-hyun wanted to see him right now. He looks over at the sleeping form of Yifan. He bites his lips as he wonders if it is a good idea to sneak behind Yifan’s back like this. But Seung-hyun said he owed Yifan, so he wouldn’t harm him. And Seung-hyun might prove to be helpful, to both Yifan and Taekwoon, but Yifan would stop Junmyeon from going if he informed the former. So he quietly gets down from the bed and gets his jeans and sweater out.

Junmyeon quickly does his morning routine and tiptoes downstairs. No one is awake yet. The house is completely silent. He grabs his car keys and heads outside, making sure to softly close the door behind him. He starts his car and heads for Seoul.

Unbeknownst to him, Jongdae was in the basement and he heard the car start. He would have gone outside to look but Jackson was being a little piece of shit again. But he does come out of his den a few seconds later, only to find the driveway empty.

It takes Junmyeon an hour to reach his labs. The labs are mostly empty at six in the morning. He enters his office and waits for his boss to show up.

Ten minutes later a man enters his office. Junmyeon is rudely surprised when he sees it is Choi Siwon. The chief locks the door behind him as he says, his eyes hooded, “I know you know about everything. You and Taekwoon have been chummy recently.”

“What?” Panic grips Junmyeon as cold sweat breaks out on his neck.

“I am here because Daesung wants to meet you. This isn’t personal.” Siwon inches closer.

Junmyeon walks backward and his butt hits the table, Suddenly, he wishes he told Yifan where he was going. He is going to pay for his stupidity. Siwon lunges at him but Junmyeon ducks and moves sideways. His back hits a shelf, folders topple from there. Siwon comes at him again, this time Junmyeon rushes for the door, but he trips when Siwon extends one long leg and kicks his ankle.

Junmyeon falls and is about to get to his feet when Siwon plops down on his back. Siwon growls, “Stop fighting. Told you this isn’t personal! What do you expect when you mingle with filthy criminals?”

Junmyeon feels Siwon pushing a cloth soaked in some liquid on his face. Junmyeon recognises the sweet smell: chloroform. Before he loses consciousness he thinks how it is Siwon who is the filthy one, not Yifan. He has seen Yifan’s soul and he would have liked to punch Siwon for saying such things but the chemical is getting heavy on his senses, and his eyelids droop as darkness washes over everything.

 

Yifan wakes up to an empty bed. He touches the mattress—it is cold. Junmyeon has been up for a while then. He sits up and rubs his eyes. He walks down to the kitchen, hoping to find Junmyeon there. But instead he finds Zitao with prize-winning dark circles under his sleepy eyes and a cup of coffee in hand. Zitao grumbles, “Sup?”

“Where is Junmyeon?” Yifan asks.

“Dunno. Haven’t seen him.”

Jongdae saunters in the kitchen, scratching his stomach as he yawns. He says, “I think he left. I heard the car leaving.”

“You didn’t ask him where he went?” Yifan scowls, a strange fear gripping him.

“By the time I left the basement, hyung was already gone ge.”

“Shit!” Yifan shouts as he limps upstairs. Zitao and Jongdae follow him.

Zitao asks, a bit anxious now, “Ge, what is it?”

“Junmyeon wouldn’t leave like this, and considering what we did yesterday...”

“Fuck no,” Jongdae bites his lips and severely wishes he was faster.

“Sadly, fuck yes,” Yifan brings out his phone and dials a number, “But I’d like to check first.” He waits for a few seconds before his call gets picked up, “Jin? It’s me, Yifan.”

Seokjin scowls, “What do you want?”

“Are you and Junmyeon supposed to meet today?”

“Uh, no?”

“Okay, Jin, listen to me carefully, I need a favour.”

Seokjin sighs, “What.”

“I need you to ask around in your and Junmyeon’s circle if he had anywhere to go today.”

Seokjin gets alarmed, “What is going on? What is wrong? What happened to Junmyeon? What did you do to Junmyeon?”

Yifan rubs the bridge of his nose. “I would never hurt him Jin. I love him. And that is why I need to find him before anybody else does. His life might be in danger.”

What? Wu YifanOkay, okay, I will do so. And Yifan?”

“Yes?”

“Took you long enough to get there. I will call around.” Seokjin disconnects the call.

Jongdae and Zitao had heard Yifan’s admittance and they were pleasantly surprised. They share a covert look. Zitao lightly touches Yifan’s shoulder. “Maybe he is okay ge. We will find him.”

Yifan slowly nods his head. However, the feeling that something is very, very wrong doesn’t leave him.

 

Choi Seung-hyun is rudely awoken at five in the morning by Kang Daesung. He blinks as Daesung grabs his phone off his bedside table and types something on it. Then he orders, “Get dressed. We are going on a trip. In an hour or so.”

Seung-hyun opens his mouth to question but Daesung raises a hand and hoods his eyes. “Get up hyung. Don’t make me force you…please.”

The way Daesung says please feels like as if he had something extremely distasteful in his mouth. Seung-hyun frowns but does as he is told. Something tells him he shouldn’t poke Daesung too much.

An hour later, Seung-hyun wraps a scarf around his neck as he follows Daesung outside to a jeep ambling by the curb. Seung-hyun doesn’t recognise the face behind the wheel. Daesung pushes Seung-hyun in the backseat and sits down beside him.

They might have been on the road for twenty minutes or less, when Seung-hyun finally asks, “Where are we going?”

“You will see soon enough. Here!” Daesung tosses Seung-hyun’s phone back to him.

Seung-hyun catches it and his heartbeat quickens when he sees that Daesung had sent an urgent message to Junmyeon. He says, “You weren’t supposed to go after Junmyeon!”

“Junmyeon is very, very much involved with Yifan. And you know what Yifan did? Blow up my main warehouse and steal three million dollars’ worth of stock.”

“You are…using Junmyeon as bait?” Fear lodges in Seung-hyun’s gut. “To get to Yifan?”

“Well, yes.”

“Daesung…”

“Oh! We are here!”

The jeep stops at the foot of a trail winding up a small hill. They get down and Daesung beckons Seung-hyun to follow him. The air is crisp and cool, and any other time Seung-hyun would have appreciated this a lot. But right now, he is breaking out in a cold sweat and his heart refuses to calm down. He chastises Junmyeon a little for getting tangled with Yifan but feels like there is no one to blame but him. All the choices and decisions he has made so far has ended up affecting everyone around him. Junhong, and now Junmyeon. He angrily palms his face and swallows the frustrated sob threatening to escape.

They walk up the trail, with the driver trailing silently behind them. Seung-hyun is a hundred per cent sure that the guy has a gun on him, ready to whip it out and shoot Seung-hyun, lest he felt like escaping. They finally reach their destination—a big wooden cabin hidden by a dense canopy of evergreen trees. Seung-hyun spots Siwon standing at the porch with a solemn expression on his face. He isn’t very surprised at that. Everything that has happened so far has finally culminated, snowballed into something far beyond Seung-hyun and his wish to save his brother. He feels like today is going to be his judgement day.

Daesung asks, “Is he awake yet?”

Siwon shakes his head, “No.” He walks inside the house as Daesung and Seung-hyun trail after him.

They reach the back of the house. Siwon opens a door that leads to the basement. The stairwell is shrouded in darkness but light manages to creep in through the pigeonholes masquerading as adequate ventilation. Dust particles dance in the stream of illumination that falls on an unconscious body lying at the corner. Seung-hyun’s head reels when he recognises the messy head of auburn hair. Siwon kidnapped Junmyeon. Terrific.

Daesung frowns. He shouts, “Mark!” The driver who had been vigilant outside comes running in. “Stay here, and if he wakes up, call me immediately.”

Disgust rolls in Seung-hyun’s stomach as he fists his hands. He silently follows Daesung and Siwon upstairs. They enter the living room. Siwon says, “Was this really necessary?”

Seung-hyun is amazed that Siwon still has some conscience left. Daesung frowns, “Yes. First we deal with Yifan, with Junmyeon’s help, then we deal with your problem.” Seung-hyun sighs, looks like he was terribly wrong about his cousin. Siwon is here for himself, as usual. He had lost his conscience a long time ago.

Siwon flails his hands in anger, “How much later Daesung? Taekwoon is dangerous! Who knows what he might do?”

“Tch tch,” Daesung sits down and crosses his legs as he coolly considers an agitated Siwon, “Don’t be so selfish. We will get to it when I say.”

“But my career will be destroyed! And who will help you cover up all your crimes?”

“Money can buy almost anything.”

That shuts Siwon up. Seung-hyun scoffs. The other two stare at him—one furious and the other coldly curious. Seung-hyun shakes his head, “Money makes the world go round. Who would know this better than us?”

Siwon scowls and stomps out of the room. Daesung chuckles, “Ever heard of the Latin proverb bibere nemenum in auro?”

“Drink poison from the gold cup. I know.” Seung-hyun sits down opposite Daesung. He is absolutely aware what Daesung was alluding to. He doesn’t need a reminder for that. He glares, “I wish I could kill you.”

“But you cannot.” Daesung’s grin drips in malicious intent. Seung-hyun involuntarily shivers. After all, he did shake hands with the devil. Daesung did hand him the gold cup, and he drank the poison, all too willingly.

 

An hour later, Seokjin informs that Junmyeon hasn’t been with anyone, he didn’t talk to anyone in their circle either. Yifan says his thanks and grits his teeth. There is only one person to be called. He huffs and dials the number that Junmyeon had put forcefully in his phonebook. The phone gets picked up in a few rings. A bored, dead voice, says, “Hello.”

“This is Yifan.” He gnashes his teeth. “Would you know where Junmyeon is?”

“Why?”

“He went out without informing anyone and he isn’t picking up his phone.”

“You think he is missing?”

“Yes. Saw the news yesterday? Saw how one of Kang’s warehouses went up in smoke?”

“That was you? Thought so.”

“So…”

Taekwoon breathes heavily. “So, you think he has been taken by Daesung.”

“Yes.”

“Shit.” He sounds agitated and that is the most feeling Yifan has ever experienced from Taekwoon.

Silence descends on them as each think about what to do next.  Finally, Taekwoon says, “I can have my informant trace Junmyeon’s phone.”

“Jackson Wang right? We know him. Jongdae is trying to trace Junmyeon’s car.”

At that moment, Jongdae runs into the room shouting, “Ge! I found hyung’s car!”

“I heard that,” Taekwoon says, “What about Junmyeon’s car?”

Yifan repeats Taekwoon’s question to Jongdae, who answers, “He went to his office.”

Yifan repeats Jongdae’s answer to Taekwoon. “I will go check the office,” Taekwoon says, putting on his shoes and his long overcoat over his pyjamas. He doesn’t forget to take his gun.

Yifan says, “Yes.” He disconnects the call and falls back on the couch. “Any word from Jackson?”

“Nope,” Jongdae rubs his neck, “He is trying. A switched off phone is harder to trace.”

Zitao enters the room with a tray. He places it on the table. Jongdae gratefully takes a cup of coffee. He softly says, “Ge, you have to eat something. And take your meds. You won’t be helping hyung this way.”

Yifan rubs his face and says, “Tao, can you make me something?”

Zitao and Jongdae smile in relief. Zitao says, “On it boss!”

When the two of them leave him alone, Yifan lets a tear of frustration and exasperation slip down his cheek. He has held in his anxiety and fear for too long. If something happens to Junmyeon…he will never be able to forgive himself. He is starting to understand just how important Junmyeon is to him. Junmyeon has done so much for him, and now Daesung got hold of him, probably. He owes Junmyeon his life, and so much more. He has to find Junmyeon and bring him back. And then he will tell him how he feels. He will hold Junmyeon close to him and tell him how much he loves him.

A few minutes later Zitao returns with a plate of scrambled eggs. He sees the dried tear tracks on Yifan’s face. He says nothing as he quietly leaves the room. He goes to the basement where Jongdae was working. He says, “How far?”

“This is difficult. But I am trying. Daesung, if he did kidnap hyung, would have most probably destroyed the phone. I feel a headache coming...”

Zitao presses his hands on Jongdae’s shoulders. “You will get there ge. Nothing is too impossible for you.”

“Damn right!”

Zitao goes back upstairs and peeks in the living room. Yifan is on the phone and his expression is dark. He puts down the phone and his jaw hardens. Zitao enters and asks, “Any news ge?”

“Taekwoon went down to Junmyeon’s office. He said there were signs of struggle.” Yifan wants to break something. Most possibly Daesung’s head. But he restrains himself.

“Ge, Chen-ge’s trying really hard,” Zitao reassures. He can see the tension in Yifan’s body. He is afraid of what he might do next. “Ge, calm down. You can’t get all mad now.” A mad Yifan is a scary Yifan—Zitao knows this from experience.

“I know,” Yifan gnashes his teeth, “But he has Junmyeon Tao!” Yifan gets to his feet, the veins in his neck popping out in rage. “I will kill him!”

“Ge!” Zitao holds Yifan by his arms. “Calm down. We need you to focus.”

Yifan’s head drops as he says, “I know. I am trying. Help me downstairs.”

Zitao helps Yifan walk down to the basement. Jongdae is frowning at the monitors. He also has his phone pressed to his ear. “Yah Jackson! Work with me here you fucker. I need you to check for me…Yeah? Yeah? Okay? Thanks man!” He realises Yifan and Zitao are standing behind him. “Found his phone.”

Zitao says, “Where is he?”

“As I said the phone’s destroyed. We found it in Mangu-dong,” Jongdae says.

“Mangu-dong?” Yifan frowns. He says nothing for a few seconds. Then he looks at Zitao, “Get a hold of Soojung. Ask her about any and all properties Daesung has in and around Mangu-dong.’’

Zitao nods as he races upstairs to get his phone. Jongdae asks, “You need help ge?”

Yifan nods. Suddenly, especially today, his leg is hurting a lot. “Get me my meds, okay?”

Jongdae nods as he helps Yifan upstairs. Jongdae puts Yifan on the couch and then heads upstairs to get Yifan’s medicines. Zitao is in the kitchen talking to Soojung. He finds Yifan in the living room. “Soojung said she will get back soon. Since she is no longer an employee, it will be a bit difficult.”

Yifan nods, and grimaces in pain. Jongdae returns with a glass of water and the pain medicines. He hands them to Yifan who gratefully takes them. He doesn’t understand why his leg is hurting so much today. He doesn’t believe in omens and signs, but he finds himself wondering.

 

Junmyeon wakes up with a funny feeling in his head, like someone stuffed the inside of his head with cotton. He blinks and notices he is in a strange surrounding. The room is dark besides three slits in the wall bringing in some light and air. The air is cooler than normal. He wonders where he is. He sits up to realises his hands are tied behind his back. What?

Then he remembers. Siwon rendered him unconscious and then he brought him here? Where is he? Then he hears feet shuffling from somewhere on his left. He turns his head to see a tall man standing on the stairs peering at him. The man says, in heavily accented Korean, “You awake?”

Junmyeon says, “Where am I?”

“Can’t tell you.” The guy leaves Junmyeon alone. He hears a door opening and closing. Some seconds later the door opens again and a different person comes down the stairs. This man is dressed expensively, Junmyeon can tell. He had spent days with his father in the walk-in closet, helping his father chose clothes. The jacket on him would cost Junmyeon three months’ worth of his salary. He can slightly make out the man’s face in the semi-darkness. The man is grinning and Junmyeon doesn’t like it.

The man says, a grin in place, “Hello Junmyeon.”

“You are Daesung aren’t you?” Junmyeon asks when he figures it out.

“Well you are very smart. Seung-hyun wasn’t exaggerating, were you?” Daesung shouts the last bit out, looking somewhere behind him. Junmyeon follows his gaze to see his boss standing, with a shameful expression on his face.

“Boss?” Junmyeon whispers. This can’t be…

“I am so sorry Junmyeon.” Seung-hyun comes to kneel in front of Junmyeon. He implores, “I had no idea Daesung would do this to you. I told him to stay away from you.”

“How could I? If Junmyeon-sshi just stayed away from Yifan…” Daesung sighs dramatically.

Suddenly Junmyeon gets it. His heart races and fear coils around him. He says, his voice shaking, “You plan to bring Yifan here.”

“You just keep impressing me, and it is only my first time meeting you!” Daesung grins maliciously.

“You are going to kill him…” Junmyeon’s eyes widen and his hands go cold.

“Well, more or less.” Daesung hoods his eyes and the grin drops from his face. “Yifan and I had to come face-to-face sometime. You, Siwon, Seung-hyun and Junhong are just collateral damage.”

Seung-hyun sucks in a deep breath at Daesung’s words. He gets to his feet and walks over to Daesung. He says nothing as he punches Daesung straight in his face. Daesung sways but hold his balance as he raises his hand to cover his nose, now bleeding profusely and staining his branded sable coat. His eyes widen as he stares unblinkingly at an enraged Seung-hyun. Seung-hyun says, “Collateral damage? Sure Dae. Have you ever wondered why you are so miserable? Because you are a despicable human being and you will die alone, never knowing love. I despise you and I pity you.”

Daesung says nothing, his eyes blazing, as he wipes the blood of his face. He quietly leaves the room, not before throwing one poisonous look at Junmyeon.

Junmyeon tries not to shudder at that. He looks up at Seung-hyun whose back is shaking. Junmyeon hears him crying. Sympathy fills Junmyeon up as he softly calls, “Boss?”

Seung-hyun rubs his face and turns around. “Yeah?”

“If you hate him, why are you here? I take it he must have taken your phone to text me, right?”

“Yes. And…I am here because I want to see Yifan destroy him.”

Junmyeon bites his lips. “But he doesn’t know where I am…”

“I am pretty sure he will use every available resource to find you. He likes you, doesn’t he?”

Junmyeon finds himself blushing despite his dire circumstances. “I think he does.”

“Then he will come for you. I heard some nice things about him from Junhong. He sounded like a good man.”

“He is,” Junmyeon whispers.

“Then he will come Junmyeon.”

 

Zitao rushes into the room and shouts, “Soojung said that Daesung has a property near the Achasan mountain! Soojung doesn’t exactly know where it is, but she is looking.”

Yifan was cleaning his gun when Zitao enters. He looks up and says, “Tell Soojung to get ready, and get her gun. We are going to pick her up.” The more help he can get the better and he knows Soojung would be only too willing to participate.

Jongdae had entered unnoticed sometime. “But ge, we don’t have a car.”

“Get Chanyeol’s car. We are going to save Junmyeon no matter what.” Then he gets an idea. “Oh, we are going to make two more stops along the way.”

Chapter Text

Junmyeon tugs the binding across his wrists. He just manages to dig the rope deeper into his skin. He stops hurting himself like an idiot. Whoever tied his hands is probably a scout or something. He scoots backward till his back touches a wall. He realises it is not really a wall but a door. He gets excited, but then he looks up to find three huge locks all over it. Okay, great, he is truly trapped.

He tries taking stock of his environment. He thinks he is in the mountains, now that his initial panic has subsided and he can smell trees. Through the slim slits he had spied a rough terrain and fallen spruces. This is, most probably, a cabin in the woods. And probably it is well hidden. He sighs as he weighs the possibility of him being found.

He wonders what time is it. He had left home at six, reached his office at seven. The place he is right now wouldn’t be that far from the main city, so maybe anywhere between twenty to thirty minutes? The dose of chloroform wasn’t heavy. He woke up earlier than normal. He can safely assume he is not that far from central Seoul.

He bites his lips as he thinks what is going to happen to him. And what will Daesung do to Yifan. He wants to protect Yifan, even though the Chinese man is the taller, stronger one with guns (and probably knows how to fight, while Junmyeon here chides himself for never attending the self-defense seminar arranged for newbies during his first year working in the crime lab). He doesn’t want Yifan to completely lose himself in the melancholy he surrounds himself with. He doesn’t want Yifan to lose his soul completely. He doesn’t want Yifan to die. He wants to be with Yifan for as long he can because one day he is going to sit him down and ask him exactly what does he feel for him. Junmyeon knows, instinctively, by now that Yifan is struggling to deal with his emotions. And Junmyeon wanted to give him enough space to figure things out. And he will have Yifan tell him, anyhow—he swears to himself.

After what would have been an hour or so, the door opens, and Junmyeon startles. The tall guy with accented Korean enters. He comes closer and unties Junmyeon’s hands. Junmyeon looks on confused. The guy says, “Water.” He hands Junmyeon a water bottle.

Junmyeon takes small sips when he realises he was, indeed, thirsty. “You aren’t from around here, are you?” He craved some human interaction to get rid of the oppressing silence he had been enduring.

The guy smirks. “I am from Taiwan.”

“Oh.”

“Sorry, but I have to tie you up again.” Junmyeon just dejectedly sighs before the Taiwanese guy ties him up again. The guy looked a bit sheepish but Junmyeon could have been imagining all that up for all he knows.

The guy leaves him alone, in that suffocating silence again. Junmyeon sighs again. He wonders what will happen next.

 

Zitao stops the car when he spots Taekwoon standing at the curb, a block away from the police station. He tries not to laugh at the detective’s choice of clothing—tweed jacket over a ratty t-shirt and faded neon green pyjamas. Looks like the detective rolled out of bed to help look for Junmyeon.

Taekwoon enters the car and sits down beside Soojung who coolly stares at him. Yifan briskly introduces, “Soojung, Taekwoon. Taekwoon, Soojung. Taekwoon is a detective and Soojung is Daesung’s former secretary.”

When Taekwoon noticeably bristles, Soojung says, “I have no allegiance to Daesung anymore. He killed someone very important to me.”

Taekwoon nods. Yifan says to Zitao, “Now, get to this address, there is still one person we need.” He turns to look at Taekwoon in the backseat. “Taekwoon-sshi, how well do you fight?”

“Got a black belt in hapkido,” Taekwoon says, kind of wary. He finds his predicament a bit ridiculous—he is in a car filled with criminals. Terrific.

“Good. You are going to need it.”

“Why?”

“We are kidnapping someone important to the Choi cousins.”

After a few minutes, Zitao stops in front of an apartment complex. Yifan crushes a painkiller in his mouth to numb the throbbing in his left leg. The bitter medicine coats his tongue and he nearly gags, but he gulps it down, reminding himself that this is the least unpleasant thing he has to do today. He has no time for his body to complain and nag. He needs to find Junmyeon. He signals Taekwoon to come with him. The two enter the building and head for the seventh floor.

Soojung watches them go. She says, “Who lives here?”

“Don’t know,” Zitao frowns, “Wu Yifan works in mysterious ways.”

Soojung hums and pushes her cuticles for a while. She looks up to find Zitao looking at her from the corner of his eyes. She smiles, “Say, your boss is in love with Junmyeon-sshi, isn’t he?”

Zitao chuckles, “You are very observant.”

“You don’t become one of Kang Daesung’s most trusted if you aren’t smart enough!”

“I have never seen ge so agitated,” Zitao admits, finding it odd that he is able to talk so easily to her, considering he only met her four times.

“Love can change you.” Her voice is light and it sounds a bit nostalgic and wistful.

“Oh yeah?” Zitao grins. “I wouldn’t know.”

Soojung tilts her head to one side, her brows furrowing. “Don’t tell me a handsome guy like you never fell for anyone.”

“Nope. I don’t do love. Too much complicated for a simple organism like me.” He tries not to get flustered by the compliment.

Soojung giggles (Zitao likes the sound of that). “Huang Zitao, you are a human being, not an amoeba!”

“I wish I was one!”

Meanwhile, Taekwoon and Yifan are on the seventh floor in front of flat no. 7D as Yifan picks the lock. Taekwoon grumbles, “I can’t believe I am standing here, helping you break the law.” He never thought he would have to see a day like this in his career.

“Just a little bit of breaking and entering,” Yifan smirks.

The lock gets opened and they walk in cautiously. Yifan puts a finger to his lips. Taekwoon rolls his eyes and stifles the sarcastic comment on the tip of his tongue. He might be a cop but he has enough sense to know you don’t make noises when you invade someone’s home.

Yifan takes the lead as Taekwoon silently follows. Yifan opens another door. Taekwoon sees it is a bedroom and there is someone on the bed, a man judging by the attire. Yifan gets closer to the bed and shakes the figure on it.

The man opens his eyes. The sun is higher up in the sky now. He recognises the face hovering above him. He croaks, his throat dehydrated, “Yifan-hyung?”

Yifan smiles, as guilt swamps him as he looks at the innocent pair of eyes sleepily staring up at him. He cannot believe he had to stoop this low. As he sees the naive face peering up at him in confusion, his heart twists uncomfortably. “Wake up Zelo, we are going on a trip.” As he said, least unpleasant thing he has to do today.

 

Mark, that Taiwanese guy, runs inside and shouts, “I saw a car coming!”

Daesung smirks, “Let the show begin.”

Siwon scowls while Seung-hyun sits down and rubs his face. Daesung says, looking over to Seung-hyun, “Dear cousin, can you bring Junmyeon up?”

Seung-hyun gets up, grudgingly, and heads towards the basement. He doesn’t want to be a part of this game. But he feels responsible for Junmyeon. He can’t abandon Junmyeon like this. He couldn’t save himself or his brother, but he can try with Junmyeon. Though he has no idea how he is supposed to do that.

By the sound of the door opening, Junmyeon turns his head to look at the stairs. Seung-hyun solemnly says, “Yifan is here.”

“Really?” Junmyeon perks up, hope blooming in his chest.

“Yeah. And took him only three hours to do so. See, I told you.” Seung-hyun helps Junmyeon to get to his feet by hoisting him up by his elbow. “I don’t think I can untie you though.”

“I didn’t think so.” Junmyeon sadly smiles as his feet come to life, the blood rushing to his extremities, stinging him like needles on skin. He grimaces which Seung-hyun understands, so he lets Junmyeon stabilise himself. When Junmyeon is ready to go, Seung-hyun places a hand on the small of his back as he guides him upstairs.

The basement was dark, so the sudden sunlight blinds Junmyeon momentarily. He squints, trying to get used to the brightness. He spots Siwon and Daesung staring out the floor-to-ceiling window that gave them a spectacular view of the forest. So they are on a mountain. Daesung realises Junmyeon is in the room. He grins. “Your boyfriend is here.”

Junmyeon wants to say that Yifan is not his boyfriend. Yet. Maybe. He doesn’t know. But he chooses to glare at Daesung instead. Siwon refuses to meet his eyes though and Junmyeon gets this urge to punch Siwon again. From his peripheral he sees that Taiwanese guy pushing a magazine in his gun. His heart thumps. There will be blood today.

“Let’s go outside,” Daesung says. “I just renovated the cabin.”

Seung-hyun thinks how Daesung wouldn’t be enjoying it anymore. He will make sure of it today. He and Junmyeon follow the other three outside. They are on a flat slope along the mountain that has a terrific view at all sides. Down the edge they can see a metalled road, on which a black SUV is winding its way up. Junmyeon hopes Yifan didn’t come alone like some Don Quixote trying to prove himself.

The car skids to a halt a few paces from them, and Junmyeon has to control his surprise when Taekwoon, Yifan and Zitao get down from the car. Yifan got Taekwoon to cooperate? If his situation wasn’t so dire, he would be amazed at that. Also, he would have laughed at Taekwoon’s attire. But then his eyes fall on Yifan…

Yifan had his Kris mask on. The lines of his gorgeous face are harsh and his eyes are hard as he stares at Daesung, the hatred in his eyes has the air knocked out of Junmyeon almost. But then Yifan locks his gaze with Junmyeon, and the Kris mask fades in and Junmyeon could see the relief in his eyes. Junmyeon gives him a small smile and fights the urge to run into Yifan’s arms. Yifan smiles a little back at him. Yifan’s heart races when he sees Junmyeon, and he is glad that Junmyeon is not hurt.

Siwon says, clearly agitated, “Taekwoon? What the hell are you doing here?”

“Dr Kim is a friend,” Taekwoon says as an explanation. Junmyeon fights the smile trying to break on his face.

“Dr Kim seems to be very popular,” Daesung smirks and Yifan growls at that.

“Let him go,”’ Yifan walks forward, “You have me now, let him go Daesung. Your beef’s with me.”

“Oh, but what if I don’t? What if I take him away from you like you took everything from me Fanfan?’

Yifan smirks. He knows Daesung too well. He scoffs, “Knew you would say something silly like that. I came prepared. Soojung?”

The back door opens and Soojung gets down. Daesung gasps when he sees his former secretary pulling someone from inside the car and hauling said someone forward. It is a man and from his neck up, he is covered with a burlap sack over his head, hiding his identity. Seung-hyun’s heart drops when he thinks he had seen those baby blue pyjamas somewhere. Daesung screeches, not even caring to check his anger and betrayal, “Krystal? I thought you had to go to Japan!”

Soojung smirks, “Looks like I didn’t.”

“Why?” Daesung shouts.

“I was in love with Yixing. Remember him? You killed him!”

“Luhan killed him.”

Yifan shouts, his voice is scary which has Taekwoon and Zitao flinching, “You killed him Daesung!” Yifan still glares as he nods at Soojung, who whips off the sack over the man’s head.

Seung-hyun gasps when the cloth some off, revealing a befuddled Junhong. His brother spots him and cries, “Hyung!” Junhong is amazingly confused, ever since he was woken by Yifan and this strange tall guy in his room. Then they took him to the car where he recognised Dae-hyung’s secretary. She looked at him coldly and as soon as the car started, she pulled a cloth over his head, and he had heard Yifan’s voice saying “I am sorry for the Zelo-ah, but you are going to be a surprise for someone.” He wanted to ask more about that but he didn’t. Now, his two hyungs stand in front of him. Seung-hyun looks afraid while Daesung looks annoyed.

Junmyeon wants to scream at Yifan that this isn’t right. That Seung-hyun is not one of the bad guys. But he holds his tongue as panic engulfs his chest.

Daesung frowns, “What is the meaning of this?”

Yifan says, “Collateral. You have something of mine, so I have something of yours.” Soojung pulls out her gun and presses the muzzle at Junhong’s side.

Seung-hyun whips his head to groan at Daesung, “Let Junmyeon go!”

“Why?” Daesung shrugs.

“What do you mean why?” Seung-hyun asks confusedly.

“Junhong is disposable.”

Yifan chuckles. They all turns to look at him. Junmyeon doesn’t understand the malicious gleam in his eyes. “Knew you would say something like that.”

“Well congratulation—”

Seung-hyun snaps as he lunges at Daesung, fist raised. He punches Daesung in his face. He hears something cracking and he feels satisfied. Daesung falls to the ground and Seung-hyun doesn’t stop as he sits on top of him, hitting him again. Yifan tilts his head towards Junhong, “Don’t you want to save your hyung? Now which hyung will you save…Zelo?” He glances at Soojung who drops her hand.

Junmyeon’s eyes widen when he finally realises what Yifan is hoping to achieve here. Dissent among the ranks. Yifan knew Daesung cared two hoots about Junhong but Seung-hyun did. And this will cause unrest.

Something in Junhong snaps as he runs forward. Siwon was trying to pry Seung-hyun off of Daesung when Junhong pushes Siwon away and grabs Seung-hyun by his shoulder. He is all muddled right now and Zelo is pushing forward, trying to break the thin barrier that Junhong builds. He pulls Seung-hyun up and pushes him off Daesung. Seung-hyun trips as a result of Junhong using such force and he falls backward, his head knocks against a rock and he loses consciousness.

Junhong thinks he hurt his hyung too much. He didn’t mean to, he just wanted hyung to stop. He didn’t want hyung to hurt anyone. The barrier pushes back. He fights inside his mind, unable to do anything as he stares aghast at his hyung, lying motionless on the ground. He sees Junmyeon kneel down and check to see if Seung-hyun is breathing.

Daesung gets to his feet and wipes the blood from his face. He says, glaring at Yifan, “Ever the sly bastard, Fanfan.”

“Why thank you,” Yifan grins. Junmyeon is amazed to see this side to Yifan. If he met Kris first, he would have run so far. But he also knows that there is the Yifan he knows somewhere in there, and that keeps his feet rooted to the ground and keeps the faith alive in his heart.

Taekwoon walks in between Yifan and Daesung. He cocks his head towards Siwon. “I am here for him.”

“Go do what you want.” Yifan shrugs.

Siwon walks closer to Taekwoon. His handsome face is twisted in fury and Junmyeon thinks he hasn’t seen anything uglier than that. Siwon growls, “Try to arrest me detective.”

“Oh, I will, happily,” Taekwoon says, “You are disgusting.”

That has Siwon snapping as he punches Taekwoon. This is the tear in time that was needed as Daesung shouts, “Mark, kill Junmyeon!”

Yifan turns his head to look at Junmyeon, who is standing by Seung-hyun. Junmyeon’s wild eyes meet Yifan as Mark aims at the former. Yifan shouts, “No!” as he tries to bring out his gun.

A shot rings out.

Yifan watches in bated breath as Junmyeon squeezes his eyes shut. But it is Mark who falls backwards, a round wound on his head, to the ground. Junmyeon opens his eyes when he realises no bullet pierced his flesh.

From behind Yifan, Soojung says, “Still got it.” She grins at Zitao who looks at her all impressed with a matching grin.

Yifan turns his head around to see Soojung blowing the smoke away wafting from the muzzle of her gun.

Meanwhile, the sound of the gunshot breaks Junhong’s internal battle. Dae-hyung shouts, “Yifan!”

Junhong whips his head to look at Yifan. His Yifan-hyung. Yifan brought him here. And then he ended up hurting his hyung. Junhong doesn’t understand how but he knows all of this is Yifan’s fault. He says nothing as he lunges at Yifan.

Chapter Text

Yifan doesn’t see him coming as he is focused on Junmyeon who looks at him in surprise. His breath gets knocked out when he feels a weight pushing into him. He looks down to notice a blond head and an elbow pushing into his diaphragm. He staggers, and he loses his balance. He falls to the ground and Junhong falls on him, his shoes clicking sharply against Yifan’s plaster. A sharp surge of pain radiates from his leg and he has to bite his lips from crying out aloud. Somewhere, he hears Junmyeon’s voice.

Yifan gasps, “Zelo…”

“It’s all your fault!” Junhong screams and fists his hands. He raises his hand and hits Yifan on his nose. He raises his hands again but the hit never comes home as he finds himself airborne.

Zitao was focused on Daesung when Junhong launches himself on Yifan. He came over a beat late. He saw blood trickling down Yifan’s nose. But before Junhong can do any more damage, Zitao picks him by the collar and throws him aside. He picks Yifan up and asks, “You okay ge?”

Yifan pinches his nose to stop the bleeding, his voice nasal when he answers, “What do you think?”

Meanwhile, Seung-hyun regained consciousness and slowly sat up. He gets startled when he sees the dead body of Mark lying a few feet across him. He turns his head and gasps when he sees Junhong sprawled on the ground. “Junhong…,” he exhales as he tries to get to his feet.

Taekwoon has Siwon in a headlock and he is trying to incapacitate his boss. But Siwon is a strong man and Taekwoon cannot match up to him in upper body strength. It kind of annoys Taekwoon, so he perseveres.

Eventually, he feels Siwon struggling less in his grip. Taekwoon relents and Siwon falls to his knees, wheezing and trying to breath. Taekwoon staggers back and huffs, not before hitting Siwon across his head so he doesn’t move much. Taekwoon’s gaze flitters over to Junmyeon who is screaming at something behind him.

Taekwoon turns around to look at Junhong on top of Yifan. He makes a move to get to Yifan but Zitao is faster and he has freed Yifan from the teenager pelting down at him. Taekwoon moves towards Junmyeon.

Junmyeon sees a figure approaching him from the corner of his eyes. Zitao had managed to remove Junhong from Yifan. So he whips his head around and is relieved to find it is Taekwoon. He says, “Are you okay?”

“Yes,” Taekwoon nods and gets closer. He brings out his pocket knife and cuts the ropes around Junmyeon’s wrist. “Here.”

Junmyeon smiles kindly, “Thank you.”

Taekwoon turns around and starts walking over to the SUV where Yifan waits, his body pressed against the door, his nose bleeding. Taekwoon looks how Yifan’s eyes light up at the sight of Junmyeon. He smirks a little when he sees Junmyeon rushing past him to get to Yifan. But suddenly, Junmyeon turns around, instead of falling into Yifan’s arms when the latter throws his arms wide open for him. Junmyeon shouts, “Taekwoon!”

Taekwoon frowns. He is about to ask what is wrong when Junmyeon runs over to him in record time and pushes him just as he hears a gunshot ring out loud in the silent forest. Next he hears a soft yelp and Junmyeon is staggering. He turns his head around to see Siwon with a gun, smoke curling out of the muzzle.

Siwon had fallen to his knees, finally submitting to Taekwoon’s strength. His vision was blurry and he felt lightheaded. But then he saw Mark’s gun lying a few feet away. He risks a look behind him. No one was paying him much attention. Even Taekwoon, who was busy cutting the bindings off of Junmyeon’s hands. Siwon crawls over to the gun and picks it up.

Siwon aims his gun at Taekwoon’s back. He pulls the trigger. But Junmyeon comes in between. The bullet aimed for Taekwoon buries itself in Junmyeon’s shoulder. He gapes and tries to aim at Taekwoon again but someone grabs his wrist. He realises it is Yifan. And Yifan looks mad.

Yifan had watched as Taekwoon freed Junmyeon’s wrists. Both Taekwoon and Junmyeon were making their way to him. Junmyeon’s face had lighted up and Yifan had unconsciously thrown open his arms. Junmyeon had beamed. But suddenly Junmyeon turns his head to the back at some sound. Yifan had followed Junmyeon’s line of sight to see Siwon getting to his feet, gun in hand.

Junmyeon had rushed towards Taekwoon and pushed him away. Next Yifan hears a gunshot and sees blood spreading through Junmyeon’s sweater. His vision is red as rage fills him. He turns to look at Siwon, who looked shocked, and was about to take aim again when Yifan got to him, his leg screaming in pain. But he pointedly ignores it as adrenaline fuels him further because Siwon just hurt Junmyeon.

Yifan grabs Siwon’s wrist and puts enough pressure to have Siwon gasping. Yifan twists his wrist and his grip on the gun is weakened. Yifan takes the gun and throws it aside. Then he punches Siwon in his gut. Siwon doubles over in pain. Siwon just hurt Junmyeon. Yifan isn’t going to let him live.

Soojung pulls Junmyeon over to their side with Taekwoon’s help. Junmyeon weakly says, “Wow, getting shot really hurts.”

Taekwoon presses a piece of cloth that Soojung throws at him over Junmyeon’s wound. Junmyeon winces as Taekwoon presses hard. Junmyeon squeezes his eyes shut as he feels tears slipping down. He says, “Yifan…”

Taekwoon and Soojung look over to Yifan, just in time to see the Chinese man kneeing Siwon in his stomach. Siwon doubles over with a loud gasp. Soojung whistles, “I once saw Yifan-sshi beating this guy to a few inches away from his death.”

Soojung’s comment has Junmyeon forgetting all about his pain. He looks up and his eyes widen as he watches Yifan hold Siwon by his collar and punching him hard in his face. Siwon’s head lolls back at the force and Junmyeon sees blood dripping down his nose. He sobs, “Please, someone stop Yifan. Please, stop him!” He doesn’t want Yifan to hurt anyone, especially for him.

Zitao never got anywhere near Yifan when the older beat up people. He knew Yifan unleashed his demons when he got too mad, and this was one of those moments. Yifan would be usually cold and stoic when he is Kris, but if someone hurt the people he cared for, of if someone crossed him, Zitao knew just how ruthless Yifan could get. He, at the beginning, was stupid enough to try stop Yifan from knocking this guy out and Yifan couldn’t even distinguish between friend and foe in unmitigated rage. Zitao had no feeling in his jaw for days after that. Siwon just shot Junmyeon, by mistake, but Yifan doesn’t care. Siwon just hurt the one most precious person to Yifan. But when he hears Junmyeon’s plea, he drops his head and sighs. He has to do the right thing. He has to do it for Junmyeon-hyung then.

Zitao moves towards Yifan when he realises that Taekwoon is beside him. He raises an eyebrow at the detective. Taekwoon coughs, “Siwon is a police officer. Do you want Yifan to kill someone like him?” Zitao nods and doesn’t comment on the slight flush on Taekwoon’s face. But he supposes the detective is doing it for the same reasons as he is.

While Siwon was getting his bones broken by Yifan, Daesung eyes the gun that flew from Siwon’s hand on the ground. He cautiously walks over and picks up the gun. He raises his hand and aims towards the scuffle a few paces from him. But before he can pull the trigger, someone grabs his wrist. He realises it is Seung-hyun, who shouts, “No! You aren’t killing anymore people!”

Daesung shouts back, “You don’t tell me what to do!” He tries wrenching his wrist away from Seung-hyun’s grip. He plunges his nails into the flesh on Seung-hyun’s palms. Seung-hyun flinches but doesn’t relent, he tries to wrestle the weapon from Daesung’s strong grip. Seung-hyun won’t let anyone shed blood anymore. He uses his elbow to push back Daesung, but the latter uses his momentum to sidestep him and as a result Seung-hyun’s ankles twist in an uncomfortable way and he slips.

Daesung pants, he won this round. The gun is still in his grip. He raises his gun as Seung-hyun rises to his feet. Seung-hyun raises his palms, “Daesung, please stop. Haven’t you had enough?”

Daesung laughs, mirthlessly, “Never dear cousin.” He pulls back the trigger.

Taekwoon and Zitao finally wrench Yifan off Siwon, who is halfway passed out and his face is bleeding and bruised in five different places. Yifan’s knuckles had split and it is impossible to tell if all the blood on Siwon was his own or Yifan’s. Taekwoon holds Yifan back by one arm while Zitao holds his ge by the other. Yifan is panting and the urge to beat Siwon to a pulp hasn’t reduced as the latter sinks unceremoniously to the ground. Zitao whispers, “Ge, enough.”

Taekwoon too softly says, “Junmyeon doesn’t have to see this Yifan.”

That stops Yifan. He quiets down. But then a gunshot rings out, again. They turn to look towards Daesung.

Daesung is standing, his gun aimed at in front of him. Seung-hyun is on the ground. And Junhong lies in his hyung’s arm, blood spreading on his white t-shirt like a red carnation on a white funeral bed. A second of silence. Then Seung-hyun starts screaming as tears stream down his face.

Junhong had risen to his feet when he saw his hyung fighting with Daesung. Then when Daesung pushed Seung-hyun away and aimed the gun at him, Junhong ran and jumped in front of his hyung. He heard the report, and he felt the small lead bullet pierce him through his heart. He remembers falling backwards and he thinks his hyung caught him. Then hyung started to cry and scream. He wanted to say something to hyung but his eyes were feeling too heavy and it was getting harder to breathe. He opens his mouth to say it. But the words never made their way out as his eyes closed. Sorry hyung, I love you. Thank you for everything. Thank you for being there for me, for helping me, for taking care of me. I am sorry I lied to you. I am your baby Jun, hyung, always. I love you so much...

Yifan quietly says as Seung-hyun keeps screaming, “Hold Daesung down Tao.”

Zitao nods and leaves Yifan’s side to stand behind Daesung. Taekwoon says, “I have called for backup. They will be here in twenty.”

Yifan nods and looks at Junhong. His heart twists and he fights tears as he realises he couldn’t save Junhong. In fact, Junhong died because he brought him here. Suddenly he feels someone hugging him from the back. He doesn’t have to look behind to know who that is. Small, pale hands come resting on his stomach. Yifan just sighs and puts his bloody hands on them. Junmyeon is still here after his rash display of violence. Junmyeon is trying to comfort him in this situation (when it should be the other way around). Yifan just gets reminded anew how much he doesn’t deserve him. His heart swells and clenches, the love filling him to the brim. Suddenly he feels like he isn’t big enough to contain this feeling. He softly says, knowing very well that Junmyeon will hear him, “Junmyeon, I love you.”

 

The police arrived twenty-five minutes later. Daesung was diligently guarded by Zitao and Soojung in the meantime. Yifan and Junmyeon sat together, huddled in the backseat with the backdoors open. Seung-hyun sat numb and silent beside Junhong’s lifeless body. Taekwoon sat down on the porch with Siwon’s unconscious body beside him. After all the violence and bloodshed, a lull had descended on the scene. Even the winds stopped. Taekwoon reckoned even they felt exhausted from the ordeal. He wouldn’t blame them. He could see how the fight had left them all drained and vacuous. This is the end. Or the beginning of the end. He looked over at Junmyeon and Yifan in the car. He remembered the deal he had made with Yifan a couple of days ago.

Taekwoon says, his face unforgiving, “You do know when the time comes, I would have to arrest you?”

“Yes, I am aware,” Yifan nods. His face is cold and impassive but Taekwoon sees the determination blazing in his eyes. “I am also aware of the damage to Junmyeon’s reputation if our connections come to light.”

“Yes. I was thinking about that as well…arresting you wouldn’t undo that.”

“I will not let any harm come to Junmyeon.”

Taekwoon rubs the bridge of his nose. “I am aware of that as well. So what will you do Wu Yifan?”

Yifan looks down at his feet, his face morose. He quietly says, “I am not sure yet.”

“I have an idea. Let us make a deal Yifan-sshi.”

Taekwoon knew by now that Yifan will come through. Yifan, if he wasn’t protected by Daesung, would have had a criminal record a mile long, but Taekwoon knew he is a man of honour. He wondered how Junmyeon will be affected by it all. He could safely (and correctly) assume Yifan hadn’t said anything to Junmyeon. He thought Yifan must have some sort of saviour complex for sure.

When the police arrived on the scene, Taekwoon put cuffs on Daesung and Siwon while Seung-hyun surrendered himself and swore to cooperate with Taekwoon all the way. Seung-hyun only requested to ride the other van with Junhong’s body. The others had already left when Taekwoon had heard the sirens. He fathomed he couldn’t involve Soojung, Zitao, Yifan and Junmyeon without a solid excuse, so he let them go. But before Yifan could leave, Daesung said to him, “Don’t be so happy Fanfan. My other cousin is still alive and he will find you for doing this to me. I wish you a painful end brother.”

Taekwoon had noticed how pale Junmyeon had become at that as he clutched Yifan closer to him. Yifan’s eyes were hard but he locked his gaze with Taekwoon and nodded. Taekwoon couldn’t fully understand that gesture but he knew instinctively that Yifan would contact him later that day.

Right now, Taekwoon is at the station which is abuzz with detectives, inspectors and superiors as he takes the centre stage and tells everything he knows. He puts up Seung-hyun’s statement in front of his superiors. The entire Homicide Department has been jilted. Every detective and inspector were reeling from the information coming their way. Siwon tries resisting but he gives in soon enough. Daesung just smirks, but Taekwoon sees the defeat in his eyes. The smirk isn’t confident, it is self-deprecating. Kang Daesung knows he is finished. The court date is fixed a week away and the three cousins are sent to maximum security hold till their court appointment rolls in.

Taekwoon enters his office after playing the ringmaster in this circus for more than six hours now. He sighs as he sits down and puts his feet up on his table. He wonders how many people had noticed his faded neon pants. He is about to order himself something to eat when his phone rings. So Yifan finally calls. He picks it up, “Yes?”

“So is Daesung behind bars now?” Yifan asks.

“Yeah. A court date has been finalised for the start of their trial.”

“When is that?”

“Fifteenth of this month.”

“Oh.”

“Yifan?”

“I remember our deal. And I have made my plans, and fifteenth will be perfect. I need your help.”

Taekwoon frowns as he hears Yifan tell him his plans.

 

Chanyeol is surprised when he opens his door to see Yifan hoisted by Zitao and this unknown woman on either side. Junmyeon says, behind them, “Can you ask Yura-sshi to check him? He went under a lot of stress today!”

Yifan barks, “No! You got shot! Ask Yura to help him first Chanyeol.”

Chanyeol puts his hands in the air and shouts, “Whatever! Stop fighting on my porch! You are lucky my sister is home. I will fix the basement. Zitao take them down.” He smiles down benevolently at the woman, wondering who else (poor soul) Yifan dragged into his posse, “And who are you?”

“Uh, my name is Jung Soojung.”

“Okay, Soojung, nice to meet you. Please go downstairs. My sister will be right there with you.”

Junmyeon and Soojung exchange a look. Yifan scoffs as he reads the question in Junmyeon and Soojung’s eyes. He says, “Chanyeol’s grandfather used to be the on the mafia’s payroll once upon a time. He was a doctor and he had set up a clinic in the basement. Then his son, Chanyeol’s father had opened a funeral home to make all those bodies disappear. Chanyeol and Yura follow the family traditions.”

While talking they had made to the back of the house. Zitao opens this heavy wooden door and behind it lies another metal door down a few steps. The metal door had a coded lock, but it was thankfully open as Chanyeol had gone down before them. There were a few more steps. Yifan grumbles, “Yay, more stairs.”

Junmyeon gently rubs his back and Yifan stops complaining, not without unleashing a defeated sigh. Zitao and Soojung share an amused look. They help Yifan climb downstairs.

Junmyeon is amazed when they reach the bottom. The room is adequately sized and it looks like a set of some retro medical drama. Clinical fluorescent lights flood the room, reflecting off the equally clinical pale blue tiles. There is another set of stairs winding from the middle of the room with a trapdoor above. Junmyeon looks at all the sophisticated medical instruments and machines and whistles, “This is an any surgeon’s wet dream.”

Chanyeol laughs, “My sister is a stickler for shiny new things. And it helps that my brother-in-law is on the hospital’s medical board.”

Junmyeon runs his hands over a scalpel set and says, his voice somewhat akin to admiration, “Holy shit these are number ten Henry Schein blades. I have always wanted a set.”

Chanyeol frowns in confusion as Yifan rolls his eyes and Zitao grins. He asks, “Uh, Junmyeon-sshi, are you a doctor?”

“He is a doctor for the dead,” Yifan offers as an explanation.

Junmyeon jerks his head up and grins at Yifan. He is surprised Yifan remembers that morning when he explained to Yifan what he did for a living. Yifan smiles back.

Chanyeol just keeps frowning, “What?”

“Oh dear brother of mine, Junmyeon-sshi is in forensics, aren’t you?”

Junmyeon turns to bow at Yura who is standing at the middle of the stairs. He says, “Medical examiner.”

“Oh, you work with dead bodies,” Chanyeol surmises.

“So do you,” Yifan reminds Chanyeol.

“Uh no,” Chanyeol raises a finger, “We don’t look for what killed who. Actually we hate examiners because they mess with anatomy and leave everything for us to fix.”

“Excuse me?” Junmyeon crosses his arms and sort of glares at Chanyeol. “I will have you know my stitching is very good. That is the only thing I take pride in.”

Soojung groans, “This conversation is too morbid for me, and I hadn’t even had any breakfast.”

Chanyeol’s booming laughter fills the room as he says, “Well, then. I am off on breakfast duty then. Shout if you need something noona!”

Chanyeol bounds upstairs. Yura shakes her head at her brother. She says, “So?”

“Junmyeon was shot,” Yifan points his finger at Junmyeon before anyone can say anything (by anyone he means Junmyeon).

Yura looks at Junmyeon. She smiles at the cute way Junmyeon is glaring at Yifan. He grumbles, “You would need to look at Yifan’s leg as well.”

Yura smiles indulgently. She says, “Okay, okay. I can only let one of you stay.” She looks at Zitao and Soojung.

Soojung gets to her feet and bows. “I will go help Chanyeol-sshi then.” She hurries upstairs. She is a stranger in this place. Judging by how all of them were interacting, it is obvious they are close. She felt like she was intruding.

Yura gestures at Zitao, “You will do as my nurse then.”

Zitao sighs. Yifan kicks him in the shin, silently ordering him to cooperate.

Yura guides Junmyeon to one of the beds and he sits down. She raises her eyebrows at the blood on Junmyeon’s shoulder. Junmyeon takes his sweater off, wincing when the wool tugs at the wound. Then he peels off his t-shirt, slowly with Yura’s help and exhales when the fabric scrapes over the wound, collecting some clotted blood along the way.

Yura puts on some surgical gloves and gently prods at the wound. She says, “The bullet didn’t go too deep.”

“I don’t think I hit any major arteries,” Junmyeon says. “The bleeding stopped after ten minutes.”

Yura chuckles, “It is always so entertaining to treat doctors.”

Yifan watches as a blush creeps up from Junmyeon’s neck to his face. He smiles when he sees the embarrassed look on Junmyeon’s face as he mutters, “Sorry, habit.”

Yifan thinks about the moment after his confession as Yura washes the wound.

“Junmyeon, I love you.”

Junmyeon startles as his eyes widen and his breath quickens. Yifan just said what?

“I want to sit down,” Yifan says. He chose some moment to confess his feelings. It just slipped, not like he had any control over it.

Junmyeon helps him to the car, all the while his mind is running at a hundred miles a second and his heart skips multiple beats. He heard right, right? Yifan loves him?

When they are seated, Yifan pulls Junmyeon close, careful not to touch the wound on his shoulder. Junmyeon says, his voice so small and unsure that it has Yifan’s heart clenching, “Yifan?”

Yifan smiles down at him. He kisses Junmyeon on his forehead and says, “I love you Kim Junmyeon. I can say it a million times before you choose to believe me.”

Junmyeon shakes his head as his eyes shine with unshed tears. “No it is not that…it is just I never expected you to…”

“Fall for you?” Yifan brushes Junmyeon’s cheeks with his fingers. “Have you met yourself? You are wonderful, kind and the most selfless person I ever met. And you are smart, and beautiful and just so damn fucking wonderful, you know. You loved me when no one else would have. You saw past my despicable self. You are the reason why I chose not to kill anyone today.” He gulps when he thinks about Junhong’s innocent, cold face.

Junmyeon’s lips quiver as he says, “Are you sure?” He keeps thinking, for some weird reason, that Yifan is messing with him.

Yifan scowls and flicks Junmyeon on his forehead, “What kind of a stupid question is that?”

“But…but what you said to Luhan that day!”

Yifan presses his head against Junmyeon’s. He smiles, “I was wrong…I am so damn fucking weak for you. You are my weakness Junmyeon. You are also my strength. I don’t know how that works, but it is.”

Junmyeon tears up at that and buries his head against Yifan’s neck. He sighs, “Wu Yifan.”

Yifan gets it. He chuckles. He gets Junmyeon’s exasperation. He says, “This was never meant to be simple or easy.”

“I know you idiot,” Junmyeon says over the loud triumphant roar of his heart, “I love you.”

“I love you. I love you so damn much.”

Yifan is brought out of his flashback as Junmyeon hisses loudly. He focuses back on Yura and Junmyeon, the former dabbing around Junmyeon’s wound with a cotton ball. Yura says apologetically, “I am sorry Junmyeon-sshi. I don’t have any anaesthesia. I will have to extract the bullet without it.”

Junmyeon nods, “It is okay. I rather have you do that than develop an infection.”

Yura nods. Yifan was sitting on a stool. He gets to his feet and sits down beside Junmyeon who turns to look at him, eyes wide and watery. Yifan holds his free hand. Junmyeon squeezes back. He whispers, “Thank you.”

Yifan nods. Yura returns with a disinfected tweezer and asks, “Ready? I have heated the tweezer, to cauterize your wound. You are lucky the bullet is of a small calibre.”

“The bullet entered at an angle. I won’t need stitches right?” Junmyeon asks.

“Nope. That is the only good news.”

Junmyeon’s grip on Yifan’s hand is near bone-crushing when he nods at Yura to get going. Yura snaps her fingers at Zitao who passes a pad of gauze for Junmyeon to bite into. Yifan helps Junmyeon fix it between his teeth, lest he bite his tongue in accident. As the hot metal tip of the tweezer delves into his flesh, he groans around the gauze and buries his face into Yifan’s chest and his hand clutches at Yifan’s sleeves so tightly that his knuckles go white. He hadn’t planned on the white hot pain stabbing into him. It is excruciating. But then he feels Yifan’s large, warm, calloused hand on his nape to his bare back moving in soothing strokes. He tries to quiet the pain as tears slip down the corner of his eyes. The tweezer nudges in further and he can feel it twisting. He groans again. Yifan holds him by his nape, whispering soothingly, “It’s okay. Yura-sshi almost has it…she is taking it out now.”

True to his words, a few seconds later, the tweezer stops and Junmyeon nearly sobs out loud when he hears the clank of metal hitting metal as Yura drops the bullet on a tray. Yifan takes out the gag in his mouth and wipes his tears, brushing his bangs away from his sweaty forehead. Yura chirps, “Phew! Let me clean that up and bandage it really quickly! Then it is your turn Yifan!”

Yifan brusquely nods his head as Yura cleans the wound and wraps bandages around Junmyeon’s shoulder. Junmyeon laces his fingers through Yifan’s again. Yura says to Zitao, “Can you ask my brother to give you a spare t-shirt and sweater? Junmyeon-sshi cannot put those back on.” She points to Junmyeon spoiled clothes.

Zitao nods and runs upstairs. Yifan says, “Burn them, will you?”

“You don’t have to tell me twice. Not my first rodeo boy. Did you get kicked again?”

After Yura prods and pokes Yifan a few times, she orders him to get another x-ray done as soon as possible, most preferably tonight when Yura goes to work and prescribes some more painkillers, warning him not to take them until and unless he has to. She also bandages his knuckles. Junmyeon raises eyebrows at that, he remembers how Yifan got those wounds. Zitao returns with the clothes and tells her that Chanyeol was calling her upstairs. They leave Junmyeon and Yifan alone.

Junmyeon puts on the t-shirt that is too big for him. Then he slips on the hoodie that is, again, too big for him. The hem stops at the top of his thighs and the sleeves go on forever. Yifan helps him dress with a small smile on his face. Junmyeon asks, “What are you smiling for?”

“Both of us are disabled now,” Yifan laughs.

Junmyeon starts giggling despite the circumstances. He swipes at the hair falling into his eyes. Yifan grabs his hands and chuckles at the fingers poking out of the long sleeves, “Sweater paws. You are too cute!”

Junmyeon pouts, “Shut up.” But he is blushing anyway.

Yifan cannot handle all that adorable so he tugs Junmyeon forward and kisses him, slowly, softly. Junmyeon kind of, sort of melts into his embrace. Only Yifan knows this magic that leaves Junmyeon with weak-knees and galloping heartbeats every time. Junmyeon tilts his head so he can deepen the kiss. He traces the back of Yifan’s front teeth with his tongue to the base of the latter’s tongue and back again. Yifan pleasurably shudders against him. His fingers tangle in Junmyeon’s hair as he bites down on Junmyeon’s lower lip. Junmyeon groans.

When the need for air becomes a necessity, they pull back. Yifan smiles as he rubs his thumbs across Junmyeon’s lower lip, swollen due to the not-so-gentle nip thanks to Yifan. Junmyeon looks at him through his lashes. Junmyeon smiles back. He puts his head on Yifan’s chest and winds his arms around his waist. Yifan strokes his back and sighs, sadly.

Junmyeon tilts his head up and says, “That was a sad sigh.”

Yifan’s eyes widen, “You can tell that by a single sigh?”

“Yes.”

Yifan chuckles. But then his face gets all serious when he says, “I am happy. But I wonder if I am allowed to feel this happiness. Junhong just died because of me. If I hadn’t brought the kid with me, nothing like this would have happened.”

Junmyeon cups his face, “What did I say? You can’t save everyone. You didn’t see this coming. You had thought it would be a good plan. But you couldn’t have foreseen the events of today. My grandmother used to say that love, birth and death are the three most unpredictable things.” He rises on his toes and kisses Yifan on his nose. “And Junhong loved his brother very much, I am certain. He chose the hyung he wanted to protect at the end, no matter what Daesung had him do.”

“But this guilt…”

“Guilt is inevitable, I suppose. But you will be okay.” Junmyeon rises on his tiptoes to kiss Yifan. “We will be okay.”

Will we? Yifan muses as he reminds himself to call Taekwoon later as he follows Junmyeon upstairs.

Chapter Text

A day later, Junmyeon returns to Seoul. He had dropped Zitao and Jongdae at their apartment. Yifan is with him in the car as he heads for Seokjin’s house to pick up his bags and Suho. Junmyeon misses his cat so much. There are tears in his eyes when he wonders how Suho must have felt to be separated from his human like this.

Yifan frowns at Junmyeon, getting alarmed, “Are you crying? Why are you crying? Is everything okay?”

“I miss Suho so much,” Junmyeon sniffs.

Yifan raises his eyebrows and it is only a second before he starts laughing. “What.”

“Suho is very important to me, okay? This is the longest we have been separated!”

“Okay, okay,” Yifan mocks wiping a tear (Junmyeon saw that and punched Yifan on his biceps). “I am sorry.”

“Hmm.” Junmyeon decides to ignore Yifan for the rest of the way. Serves the giant right.

Junmyeon tells Yifan to stay put as he parks the car in front of Butterfly. He heads upstairs to Seokjin’s apartment.

“’Hey,” Seokjin says as he opens the door for Junmyeon. “There your cat awaits.”

Junmyeon shouts, “Suho!” Seokjin raises an eyebrow at how his cousin bypasses greeting him.

Suho was lounging on the living room couch. He had heard the door opening. Then he heard Junmyeon’s voice and he stood up. He meows loudly and prances towards Junmyeon in record speed. He launches himself into Junmyeon’s open arms. He proceeds to lick his owner thoroughly. Seokjin wasn’t a bad human to live with, but his human was the best.

Junmyeon coos and baby talks to his cat as Seokjin makes a chiding sound and rolls his eyes. Junmyeon rubs his hands along Suho’s sides to check for protruding ribs. “I am glad you are okay. At least Jin didn’t starve you.”

Seokjin scoffs, “I am not that terrible a person.” He kneels down and pets Suho’s head, “It was nice babysitting him. Your cat is very well-behaved. Except for the random meowing at two in the morning.”

“He calls to his demon overlord then,” Junmyeon deadpans.

Seokjin laughs, “Thought so. He was even nice with Namjoon, you know!”

Seokjin passes Junmyeon his bags and Suho’s things. Junmyeon thanks him profusely and promises Seokjin a treat as he heads for his car.

Junmyeon returns to see Yifan looking thoughtful and rubbing his chin. He says, “Everything alright?”

Yifan turns his head and smiles. He spots Suho curled up in Junmyeon’s arms. He extends his arms and Suho jumps in his lap, willingly. Suho softly purrs as Yifan scratches him behind his ears. He grins, “You are one lucky cat. Your owner was crying for you.”

Junmyeon narrows his eyes and presses his lips, “Don’t listen to him Suho.” He gets in and before he starts the car, he finds himself asking Yifan nervously, “So where do you want to go?”

Yifan grins as he thinks what they can do about that. “Let’s go to my apartment. I need to dump my stuff there anyway. And…” he leans in closer, his lips brushing Junmyeon’s ear, “I want you under me on my king-sized bed.”

Junmyeon feels his cheeks heating up and his eyes widen as he inhales slowly. Then he turns to his side and slaps Yifan on his head. “Your leg is broken!”

Yifan kisses Junmyeon under his jaw and says, “That hasn’t stopped us before, right? Also the x-ray told us that I am fine anyway.”

Junmyeon gulps. It is a very nice invitation, he won’t deny. Yifan leans back and the greasy grin is back in place. Yifan knows he won when Junmyeon sighs, “Okay.” Then Yifan flashes him his favourite gummy smile and Junmyeon doesn’t mind losing.

 

When they reach Omicron Residency, Junmyeon parks his car beside the black Porsche. Yifan gets down before Junmyeon and stands beside his car. He looks down at the thin layer of dust coating his precious car. He swipes a finger over it, watching mournfully at the strip of dust on his finger. He sighs, “I miss driving you.”

Junmyeon chuckles, “Are you really talking to your car?”

“Hey, you got Suho, I got my baby,” Yifan says so in all seriousness. Junmyeon has to cover his mouth to stop himself from laughing. Wu Yifan can be so adorable at times.

They get to the sixteenth floor and Yifan unlocks the door to 1607. Junmyeon walks in first and Suho jumps down from his arms to explore the place. Suho is amazed how big this space is. The late afternoon light gives the illusion of infinite expansiveness and he would love to run all around. Also it is an added bonus to him that there is hardly any furniture. He looks back at Junmyeon and swishes his tail. Junmyeon laughs, “I think Suho likes your apartment.”

Yifan kneels down and pats Suho’s head, “Suho has taste! You are a good cat my friend.”

Junmyeon laughs some more. His eyes land on the kitchen counter, where not too long ago, he had sex with Yifan for the first time. His smile is sad and he sighs. Yifan follows his gaze and guilt swamps him. He comes closer to Junmyeon and curls his fingers under the latter’s chin. He hasn’t stopped feeling terrible about that day. He tilts Junmyeon’s head up and says, “I am so sorry for that day. I was such an asshole.”

Junmyeon’s lips curl into a lopsided smile as he puts his hands on Yifan’s neck and locks his fingers there. He softly whispers, “It is okay Yifan. I could have stopped you any time…”

“But you didn’t, why?” He had wondered then and he is still wondering now.

“Because I didn’t want to. Not your fault.”

“You were so cold afterwards, and I knew you were crying in the bathroom.” Yifan puts his hands on Junmyeon’s waist and pulls him closer. Junmyeon puts his chin on Yifan’s shoulder. He feels so…loved and secure here right now in his arms. Yifan tucks his head against the crook of Junmyeon’s neck. With Yifan like this, he didn’t feel the mad chemical rush of feelings that every television drama boasts of. Instead, what he feels is a certain peace, like something intensely warm radiating from his heart and spreading all throughout his being. He loves it.

Junmyeon sighs, “I was just…trying to protect myself. And, yeah, I was crying because I was so mad at myself.”

“I was mad with myself too.”

Junmyeon laughs, “We are ridiculous.” Honesty is such a beautiful thing. It is nice to know that Yifan felt just as conflicted as he did. That he wasn’t alone in this and the self-hatred was mutual.

“And I am hungry,” Yifan untucks his head and grins. “There is pizza place not too far from here and I have been missing it.”

“Get going,” Junmyeon grins as he steps out of Yifan’s embrace. “I will go take a shower.”

Yifan walks to the kitchen and says over his shoulder, “Can I join?”

“Absolutely not!” Junmyeon walks towards the bedroom and reminds himself to lock the door.

Yifan’s shout is heard from the kitchen, “Unfair!”

Junmyeon giggles. It is so much fun teasing Yifan.

Yifan hears faint giggling and smiles. He calls for the order. He notices he has a few messages from Taekwoon. He opens them and scowls. Right, he has six more days to go. Just six more days with Junmyeon. Last night when Junmyeon had fallen asleep, he had told Zitao and Jongdae all his plans. They had protested at first but then when they understood Yifan’s reasons and motivation behind it, they agreed to give their support. He knew he could trust them to deal with things.

He shuts his phone off. He doesn’t want anyone bothering him, at least for the next couple of days. He wants to spend all the time he has with Junmyeon. He feels Suho rubbing his body against his leg. He smiles down at the cat and picks him up. He asks, “How do I convince Junmyeon to stay?”

Suho meows and blinks his eyes. He puts his front paws on Yifan’s chin. Yifan smiles, “Right, that was helpful.” Suho’s ears twitch in response.

Junmyeon walks out of the bedroom and it surprises him when he sees Yifan talking to Suho. Junmyeon grins, “Are you and Suho having a very important conversation?”

“Yes. We are talking about how do we convince his human to stay here with me for some time,” Yifan says, his voice very serious. He eyes Junmyeon in his loose white t-shirt and black pants. He muses how Junmyeon always looks alluring even when he is simple like that. It is equally unfair and amazing how Junmyeon lit the spark of desire in him when he is facile like this—wet hair and rutilant skin.

Junmyeon chuckles, “Nope. Not happening. His human still needs to go to work and deal with his cousin.”

Yifan’s shoulders droop as he sighs, “Ah well. I tried.”

Junmyeon comes closer and takes Suho from Yifan’s arms. He says, “He needs to be fed now.”

“Hm,” Yifan says and pecks Junmyeon on his cheek. Junmyeon probably showered in hot water, thus his skin is flushed a pink that Yifan wants to bite and suck and leave marks all over. He rubs his nose along Junmyeon’s jawline. He recognises the smell from one of his own soaps. It sorts of thrills him. He whispers, “You smell so nice.”

Yifan’s breath tickles Junmyeon’s sensitive skin. He shivers slightly. He mutters, “You have expensive bath products.” Suho jumps down from his arms.

“Oh Junmyeon,” Yifan puts his hands on one side of Junmyeon’s neck which has the latter tilting his head and leaning into Yifan’s warm touch. That gives Yifan more access as he peppers open-mouthed kisses all along the pale column of Junmyeon’s neck. Junmyeon sighs as Yifan’s slow kisses make his skin itch for more.

Suddenly Suho cries loudly. Yifan and Junmyeon jump apart. Junmyeon laughs, “He is hungry.” He pats Yifan’s cheek and says, teasingly, “Later.”

Yifan just pouts and heads for the bathroom. He thinks about taking a shower as well.

When Yifan is done with his shower, he wraps a towel around his midriff and walks out. His walk-in closet got no comfortable clothes in it, only all his suits. Damn, why does he own so many suits? Who needs so many suits? He deems he must have some clothes in those bags he dumped in the living room.

He walks in the bedroom to find it flushed in light and Junmyeon stands beside the window, looking down, his wet hair sways in the wind, tyrant auburn strands brushing his forehead in the way. Yifan looks on, transfixed. He sighs.

Junmyeon was admiring the view of Gangnam from the sixteenth floor of this apartment. Living in heights like this must be fun. Just then he hears a sigh. He turns his head around to find a half-naked Yifan looking at him, kind of lovingly. Junmyeon finds himself blushing and trying not to stare too much at the body displayed before him. He asks, “What?”

“Nothing,” Yifan shakes his head and comes closer, “Just…you.” He cups Junmyeon’s face and chastely kisses Junmyeon.

Junmyeon blinks in surprise. Sometimes he doesn’t understand Yifan and the things he says, but he knows Yifan means well and he is sometimes touched by all those words. He softly says, “You are so silly. Sometimes you make no sense.”

Yifan squashes his cheeks and laughs when Junmyeon frowns at his antics. “I am sorry. I have never been in love before.”

Junmyeon puts his hands over Yifan’s and smiles, “I haven’t either. I had crushes, I had dates but I have never been in love either.”

Yifan presses his forehead against Junmyeon’s, who wraps his hands around the former’s waist. Junmyeon knows how Yifan must feel. This is an entirely new experience for them both. Yifan didn’t know love and Junmyeon didn’t think he would ever fall for anyone like this—this all-consuming, reverent, deeply overwhelming but welcome feeling. He feels happy. He whispers, “Are you happy?”

Yifan smiles, “Very.” Junmyeon misses the sad look in his eyes.

Junmyeon drums his fingers on Yifan’s skin. Then he turns his head sideways to kiss Yifan. He gently presses his lips against Yifan’s who sighs and tangles his fingers in Junmyeon’s hair.

The kiss gets heated and Junmyeon finds himself pressed against Yifan, impossibly close. The front of his t-shirt gets wet and his fingers find their way to the knot on Yifan’s towel. He tugs it and the towel falls to the floor.

Yifan chuckles against his lips, “Such impatience.”

“I did say later,” Junmyeon smirks and his voice is husky in arousal as he pushes Yifan towards the direction of the bed. “And you said something about king-sized beds.” Yifan growls and kisses him hard, his tongue harsh and unforgiving as he tears a strangled moan from him.

Junmyeon steps back as he takes a moment to admire Yifan in front of him. He had seen Yifan naked before, but each time, seeing all of him is always synapse frying. Yifan is the one he wants, the embodiment of what he coveted, fantasized about and wished for.

“I’ve died and gone to heaven,” Junmyeon says, staring unabashedly. It amazes him that this man is all his.

“You’re still dressed.” Yifan attacks Junmyeon’s clothes, whipping his t-shirt off before he takes a full breath. Junmyeon’s pants are wrestled down and he kicks off his shoes off in such a hurry that he loses balance and falls on the bed. He barely catches his breath before Yifan is on him.

They roll across the mattress in a tangle. Everywhere Yifan touches Junmyeon leave trails of fire behind. The clean, woody scent of Yifan’s skin is an aphrodisiac and intoxicant at once, spurring Junmyeon’s desire for him until he is about to lose his mind.

“You’re so beautiful, Junmyeon,” Yifan’s breath ghosts over his chest before taking his nipple in his mouth.

Junmyeon cries out at the scorching heat and the lash of Yifan’s tongue, his cock tightening with every soft suck. Junmyeon’s hands are greedy as they slide over Yifan’s damp skin, stroking and kneading, searching for the spots that makes him growl and moan.

Yifan kisses him deeply, licking into his mouth in that way of his. Junmyeon thinks that Yifan could really make him come with just a kiss, if they stayed at it long enough. Everything about Yifan turned him on, from the way he looked and felt beneath his hands to the way he watched him and touched him. His greed and the silent demands he made on Junmyeon’s body, the forcefulness with which he pleasured Junmyeon and took his pleasure, drove Junmyeon wild.

Junmyeon runs his hands through the wet silk of Yifan’s hair. “I love you. I love your body,” Yifan whispers, his lips moving across Junmyeon’s cheek to his throat. His hand caressed the length of Junmyeon’s torso, from his chest to hip. “I can’t get enough of it. I don’t think I’ll ever have enough.” Nibbling and licking across Junmyeon’s shoulder, he slides down and catches the other nipple between his teeth. He tugs and the tiny dart of pain has Junmyeon’s back arching on a soft cry. He soothes the sting with a soft suck, then kisses his way downward. “I’ve never wanted anything this badly.”

A violent shiver of arousal moves through Junmyeon. It turns him on when Yifan is this blunt about his feelings for him. Then Yifan slides lower and Junmyeon tenses.

Yifan growls softly and dives for the throbbing flesh between Junmyeon’s legs. His tongue pushes into the head, licking at the sensitivity that has Junmyeon shuddering and his hips churning restlessly, his body silently begging for more. It feels so good, Junmyeon can weep.

As the velvet softness of his tongue and the hot wetness of his mouth wraps and works around Junmyeon, he presses hard into the pillow, and gasps out, “Y-yes. Like that. Make me come.”

Yifan does, with the gentlest of suction and a hard lick. Junmyeon writhes as the orgasm jolts through him, his abdomen tensing violently, his limbs shaking. Yifan swallows it all, not even letting one drop go to waste. Then Yifan’s tongue goes lower, and Junmyeon whimpers before the former thrusts inside him, as Junmyeon convulses, rippling along the shallow penetration. Junmyeon had hardly come down from the high when Yifan starts circling the trembling entrance to his body with his tongue and lapped until he quickened again.

Yifan’s groans vibrates against Junmyeon’s flesh, goading the climax to roll on and on. Two fingers push inside, curving and stroking in tandem with the tongue. Junmyeon is so sensitive, he thrashes against the onslaught. Then Yifan draws out his tongue as he puts another finger in. He has three fingers in Junmyeon, twisting and opening him. Tears stung Junmyeon’s eyes and courses down his temples, the physical pleasure destroying the wall that keeps his emotions at bay.

“No,” Junmyeon tosses his head from side to side, every inch of his skin tingling and burning, “No more.” He wants Yifan inside him now, till he loses all semblance of sanity.

“Once more,” Yifan coaxes hoarsely, “Once more, then I’ll fuck you.”

“I can’t…”

“You will.” Yifan blows a slow stream of air over Junmyeon’s shivering ring of muscles, the coolness over fevered skin reawakening raw nerve endings. “I love watching you come, Junmyeon. Love hearing the sounds you make, the way your body quivers…”

He massages the tender spot inside Junmyeon and an orgasm pulses through him in a slow, heated roll of delight, no less devastating for being gentler than the one before it.

Yifan’s heat and weight leaves Junmyeon. In a distant corner of Junmyeon’s dazed mind, he hears a drawer opening, followed swiftly by the sound of a bottle cap opening. The mattress dips when Yifan returns, his hands rough now as he yanks Junmyeon down to the centre of the bed. He stretches himself on top of Junmyeon, pinning him, capturing him.

Junmyeon’s gaze is riveted to Yifan’s austerely beautiful face. His features are harsh with lust, his skin stretches tight over his cheekbones and jaw. His eyes are so dark and dilated, and Junmyeon knows he is staring into the face of a man who has passed the limits of his control. It is important to Junmyeon that Yifan has made it this far for his benefit and that Yifan had done so to pleasure and prepare him for what he knows would be a hard ride.

Junmyeon’s hands fist in the bedspread, anticipation building. Yifan had made sure that he got his, over and over again. This would be for Yifan.

“Fuck me,” Junmyeon orders, daring him with his eyes.

Junmyeon.” Yifan snaps out his name as he rams into him, sinking balls-deep in one fierce drive. The rough slide less painful as he already had used the lubricant on himself.

Junmyeon gasps. Yifan is big, hard as stone and so damn deep. The connection is startlingly intense. Emotionally. Mentally. Junmyeon has never felt so completely…taken. Possessed.

Yifan’s total domination of Junmyeon’s body ratcheted his desire to an outrageous level. He has never been so hot for it in his life, which seemed insane after what he had experienced with Yifan so far.

Junmyeon clenches around him, relishing the feel of Yifan inside him, filling him. Yifan’s hips ground against his, prodding as if to say, Feel me? I’m in. I own you.

Yifan’s entire body hardens, the muscles of his chest and arms straining as he pulls out to the tip. The rigid tightening of his abs is the only warning Junmyeon gets before he slams forward. Hard.

Junmyeon cries out and Yifan’s chest rumbles with a low, primitive sound. “Oh…You feel so good.”

Tightening his hold, Yifan starts fucking Junmyeon, nailing his hips to the mattress with wildly fierce drives. Pleasure ripples through Junmyeon again, blood rushing down his body again, pushing through him with every hot shove of Yifan’s body into his. Like this, he thinks. I want you just like this.

Yifan buries his face in Junmyeon’s neck and holds him tightly in place, plunging hard and fast as Junmyeon locks his ankles over his back. He makes a small, helpless sound of need and Yifan’s mouth slants over his. Junmyeon is desperate for Yifan, his nails digging into his pumping hips, struggling with the grinding urge to rock into the ferocious thrusts of his cock.

They are dripping in sweat, their skin hot and slicked together, their chests heaving for air. As an orgasm brews like a storm inside Junmyeon, everything tightens and clenches, squeezing. Yifan curses and shoves one hand beneath Junmyeon’s hip, cupping his rear and lifting him into his thrusts so that his cock head strokes over and over the spot that aches for him.

Yifan wraps his big hands around Junmyeon’s pulsating cock. “Come, Junmyeon,” Yifan orders harshly, “Come now.”

Junmyeon climaxes in a rush that has him sobbing Yifan’s name, the sensation enhances and magnifies by the way he has confined his body. Somewhere in his melted consciousness, Junmyeon cannot believe he came so many times in such intense succession. Yifan throws his head back, shuddering.

“Ah, Junmyeon!” Yifan clasps Junmyeon so tightly, he couldn’t breathe, his hips pumping as he comes long and hard inside Junmyeon. Then he slumps over Junmyeon, completely spent.

Junmyeon has no idea how long they lay like that, levelled, mouths sliding over shoulders and throats to soothe and calm. His entire body tingles and pulses.

“Wow,” Junmyeon manages finally. Seems like that is the only word he can manage every time Yifan wrecks him apart.

“You’ll kill me,” Yifan mutters with his lips at Junmyeon’s jaw. “I love you so damn much.”

“I love you,” Junmyeon whispers in earnest. He feels like crying at all the tangled rush of emotions coursing through him.

“I think,” Yifan raises his head and smiles, “We need another shower.”

Junmyeon grins and nods his head.

 

The food arrives and they sit down on the floor with plates to eat not before Junmyeon chastising Yifan for not investing in a dining table (“Where did you eat?” “I never ate at home.” “What do you have a kitchen for then?” “Look closely, the microwave isn’t even connected.” “Wu Yifan!”). They took that shower together where Junmyeon had a hard time keeping Yifan’s hands off of him.

Junmyeon is wiping his mouth when Yifan says, shyly, “Hey Junmyeon?”

Junmyeon blinks, “Yes?”

Yifan looks at him for a few seconds, suddenly feeling very stupid. He sighs, “Nothing.”

“No, tell me!”

“No.”

“Yifan! Does your leg hurt?”

“No! It is not always about my leg!”

“Then what?”

“I said nothing!”

Junmyeon knows something this up. This is slightly grating on his nerves. So he plays dirty. “Fine, don’t tell me. I will just leave then.”

Yifan chokes and shakes his head. He gulps down his food and sighs again. “You will think I am an idiot.”

“I already wonder if you are one.”

Yifan rolls his eyes. “I was wondering,” he scratches his neck and looks down on his lap. He wonders how Junmyeon will react. Oh heck, whatever. “Will you go out with me?”

“What?” Junmyeon heard him alright. The next moment he is doubled over in laughter. Yifan scowls at him.

“What?”

“You egg…are you asking me out on a date?” Junmyeon is chuckling, finding a blushing Yifan very amusing.

“You know what,” Yifan grabs another slice of pizza, “Forget it. I just wanted to do something everybody does…” He takes a huge bite and refuses to look at Junmyeon.

Junmyeon had laughed, and he still found it funny, but he understood Yifan’s reason for doing this. Yifan probably never went on a date before. And to be honest, he found it cute. He also finds Yifan’s cheek stuffed with food cute. He smiles and pokes Yifan’s cheek. “I suppose we are doing this backwards then…okay, Mr Wu, I will go out on a date with you.”

Yifan’s eyes light up and he hurriedly swallows his food, which results in him choking. Junmyeon tuts and passes him the water. Junmyeon beams at him and Yifan feels happy and awful at the same time.

“Next Tuesday then?” Yifan asks, sheepishly.

Junmyeon nods. “You are planning something, aren’t you?”

Yifan nods his head, embarrassed and uncomfortable. First phase of his plans is accomplished.

Junmyeon grins. Stupid Wu Yifan. His heart beats rapidly and he cannot believe this is happening.

Yifan says, “Junmyeon?” He grabs Junmyeon’s hands. “I am going to bury my weapons tomorrow. Then I am going to leave this world of crime forever.”

Junmyeon gasps. He sees the honesty in Yifan’s face and his breath staggers. Yifan is being serious. He slowly says, “You mean, you…”

“Yes. I always looked for a reason to stop doing what I do. I found my reason.” Yifan softly smiles.

Junmyeon feels his heart clenching and tears stinging behind his eyes. Yifan will do this for him? Leave everything he knows? He says nothing as he swings forward and crashes against Yifan’s chest. He wraps his arms around Yifan and tries to breathe normally. He really cannot believe this is happening.

Yifan hugs him back and says, “I love you, Kim Junmyeon.”

“I love you, Wu Yifan.”

 

Tuesday rolls around soon enough. Today was Daesung, Siwon and Seung-hyun’s first trial. Junmyeon didn’t go to work today. Ever since Seung-hyun left, rumours were rife that Junmyeon might be promoted as the new M.E. Though Junmyeon would have liked the promotion, he didn’t want to take up Seung-hyun’s job. He didn’t feel ready and he knew all of this couldn’t possibly be true. But yesterday he got a call from the State Board to meet them this Friday, and that could only mean one thing. He had talked about this with everyone he knows—Jaebum, Hakyeon, Seokjin, Kyungsoo, Byul-li, his aunt and even Yifan. And all of them congratulated him instead of giving any good advice. He needs new friends, and a better boyfriend.

Boyfriend. Junmyeon smirks as combs his hair. Tonight is date night. Yifan wanted it to be “proper”, so Junmyeon is here, in his apartment, getting ready while Yifan will come pick him up.

But Yifan is running late. He should have been here by eight, but now it is half past eight. Junmyeon didn’t want him driving with his injured leg but Yifan was adamant. Obnoxiously so. So Junmyeon let him.

Junmyeon is getting bored waiting for Yifan, so he decides to watch some TV whilst waiting. The news channel comes up as he browses. The headlines have him freezing the channel as his blood runs hot and cold.

The news announcer is speaking about some car bombing. A black Porsche. One driver. Around Gangnam. A mile away from Omicron Residency.

No.

His phone rings right then, and he picks it up, hoping it is Yifan. But the caller name has him shivering. It is Taekwoon. He swipes right and with shaking hands, puts the phone against his ear. “H-hello?” Please, please, please.

“Junmyeon, I have some bad news. It is about Yifan”

Chapter Text

“Junmyeon, I have some bad news. It is about Yifan” Taekwoon hates to be the one to bear such news. But there is no sound from the other end, just loud breathing. “Junmyeon? Hello? Hello?”

The phone slips from Junmyeon’s finger and falls to the floor with a soft thump on the rug. Junmyeon blinks, trying to feel something past the numbness that has descended on him. Everything is static to him. The television buzzes without making any sense; he could hear Taekwoon but his own voice isn’t working. His heart thumps slowly, ever so slowly. His vision is blurry. But he isn’t crying. He has been shocked out of sensations, like all his emotions have been brutally amputated from him. His fingers get cold as he wraps his arms over himself and doubles over.

He stares unblinkingly at the rug under his feet. His toes curl and he finds it hard to breathe all of a sudden. Before he knows, his breath staggers and his head swims. Then his vision darkens and he falls forward to the floor, unconscious.

Taekwoon gets panicked when he hears no one on the line. He gets anxious. He was on the scene. The press had left a few minutes ago. A few lab technicians where hanging about, the firemen had left after dousing the fire. The carcass of an expensive car is all that remained, and the smell of charred flesh hangs heavy in the air. He waves a police officer over and orders him to take over in his absence. He needs to go over to Junmyeon’s place now.

Taekwoon arrives a few minutes later and knocks loudly on Junmyeon’s door. No one comes to open even with the racket Taekwoon is making. He gets anxious by the minute. This isn’t okay. He walks a few steps back and prepares himself. He rams forward at a speed, shoulder first. The door shakes at the doorframe.

Suddenly he hears scratching behind the door. Junmyeon had a cat right? He puts his ear on the door and yes, he can definitely hear loud meowing. The cat sounded agitated. Goddamnit Junmyeon.

He charges like a battering ram two more times before the door loosens from its frame. Just one more hard push and the door falls with an ear-splitting clatter. His shoulder smarts as he presses a hand over it. He shouts, “Junmyeon!”

He rushes inside to see the cat on its haunches, all hair on its lithe body standing up. Then the cat turns tail and jumps over the couch in the living room. Taekwoon walks in to find Junmyeon lying on the floor, at the foot of the couch. “Junmyeon…” The cat licks the side of its owner’s face and meows pitifully.

Taekwoon kneels down beside him and puts his finger on Junmyeon’s pulse. He heaves a sigh of relief when his fears abate. Junmyeon had fainted. He lightly slaps Junmyeon’s cheek and says, loud enough, “Junmyeon?”

Junmyeon doesn’t budge. Taekwoon stands up and walks in the kitchen. He fills a glass with water and returns to Junmyeon’s side. He feels terrible for doing this to Junmyeon. He wishes he could tell Junmyeon the truth. But he had been sworn not to. And Taekwoon would always honour a promise he made, no matter how unpleasant it is.

Taekwoon kneels down and sprinkles some water on Junmyeon’s face, while calling his name. It finally works. Junmyeon slowly opens his eyes. He looks confused when he looks up to find Taekwoon looming over him, calling his name. He sits up and his heart starts racing as he remembers the moments prior his fainting spell. He grabs Taekwoon by his shoulders and says, “Tell me Yifan is okay. Taekwoon, please, please tell me.” His voice catches in the end and a broken sob shakes him. He gulps down the tears as he stares imploringly at Taekwoon, pleading.

Taekwoon sees Junmyeon’s lips quivering and he sees the silent plea in his eyes. Taekwoon looks away, suddenly he cannot meet Junmyeon’s hurt, questioning, begging gaze. He feels guilty and terrible, and he wishes he never had to do this.

Junmyeon sees how Taekwoon looks away. He whispers, “Take me to Yifan. I need to see him. Please.”

Taekwoon gulps and nods. He takes out his phone and calls the lab. The body has been taken to the morgue for the autopsy. He gets to his feet and drags Junmyeon up. He can tell the shorter man doesn’t have the strength to completely support himself. He lets Junmyeon lean against him for support as they get to the entrance. Junmyeon sees the condition of his door. He sighs. Taekwoon says, guilt lacing his voice, “Uh, I will send someone to stand guard.” Taekwoon quickly calls for an inspector to come over.

The entire journey to the morgue was silent. Junmyeon had his forehead pressed against the window while Taekwoon alternated between staring ahead and glancing over at Junmyeon’s slumped shoulders.

When they reach the morgue, Junmyeon doesn’t lean on Taekwoon for support as he strides in first, his steps firm but his knees feel weak. The plan of the floor a muscle memory to Junmyeon—he even knows where burn victims are taken. Taekwoon cautiously follows him, trepidation making his heart beat erratically.

Junmyeon throws open the door to morgue number five. The smell of charred flesh hits him first, and his breath hitches. His heart falls to his knees when he sees the blackened body on the metal autopsy table.

The body is burnt black. Identification is impossible as the face and fingers had been burnt to a crisp. But Junmyeon can tell the man on the table is tall, at least six feet in height. He has broad shoulders, long arms and legs with a pointed chin. Like Yifan.

A lab tech moves a portable x-ray machine over the corpse’s legs. He casually says, “This guy got a fracture in his left leg. Looks kind of recent.”

That’s it. The dam breaks as Junmyeon loses feeling in his knees and drops to the ground. He faintly realises the pain in his knees before he doubles over and cries, “Yifan!”

He is really gone. For forever. All Yifan wanted was a second chance at life with him. Junmyeon can’t believe that his happiness was fleeting and impermanent. Junmyeon squeezes his eyes shut and cries, he doesn’t even stop the tears from falling. He can’t help the wails and he wants to melt into the floor and never wake up.

Why? Did he deserve this? He wanted to be happy, and he found his happiness. But, why was everything snatched from him like this? Did he not deserve all this? He knew things were too good to be true. He fucking knew it. He fists his hand and pounds it on the tiled floor, not caring that it hurt. Nothing else can hurt more than this. Nothing.

Taekwoon rubs his face as his heart clenches at the soul-wrenching wails. He cannot help Junmyeon and it is killing him. The lab techs finally notice their presence. One of them turns out to be Jaebum who looks at Taekwoon in confusion and query. Taekwoon softly says, “Dr Kim knows the victim.”

 

Junmyeon has spent all his tears. He looks blankly at the white plaster wall in Taekwoon’s office before him as people enter and exit the office around him. Someone had handed him a mug filled with water but he had been loosely holding it. He is completely numb. The screeching in his head had dulled down as his mind is comatose. He doesn’t care about the bandage, or the throbbing pain on his hand, that Hakyeon had put when he had made a bloody mess of his hand pounding the floor. He doesn’t care about his tangled hair. He doesn’t even care about the dried tear tracks on his face. He doesn’t even notice the dried blood on his lips when he had bit into his lower lip trying to breathe while crying on the morgue’s floor.

The door to the office bangs open. Junmyeon doesn’t budge, but he looks over his shoulder when someone shouts, “Myeonie!” It is Seokjin, with a flustered Taekwoon behind him who says, “Who the hell are you?”

Seokjin turns around and shouts in Taekwoon’s face, “I am his family! Now stop trying to stop me!”

Someone had put a blanket around Junmyeon’s shoulder. It slips when he shifts a little in his seat and says quietly, his voice cracking and devoid of any emotion, “It is okay Taekwoon, he is my cousin.”

“I saw it on the news. They released the identity of the victim,” Seokjin says as he comes closer. He looks at Junmyeon’s blank, pale face and his heart twists. He feels an overwhelming sadness when he thinks that Junmyeon didn’t deserve this. But the empty eyes and straight lips scare him. He has never seen Junmyeon like this. It petrifies him. He mutters, “Oh my god…”

Junmyeon says nothing as he sips the water, finally realising his throat felt scratchy. Taekwoon and Seokjin exchange a look. Taekwoon says, “Sorry for my behaviour earlier. I am Jung Taekwoon. I am the detective on…” he takes a deep breath, “On Wu Yifan’s case.”

“Kim Seokjin,” Seokjin says as he nods at Taekwoon.

Taekwoon leaves them alone as someone calls for him. Seokjin walks closer and envelopes his cousin in a hug. Junmyeon doesn’t have the energy to hug him back, so he drops his head on Seokjin’s broad shoulder. Seokjin says, “You are coming home with me. Don’t argue.”

Junmyeon just weakly nods his head. He didn’t feel like fighting Seokjin anyway. He doesn’t want to be alone tonight. He shudders when he thinks how he won’t be sleeping next to Yifan anymore. There will be no one kissing his neck in the morning. There would be no gummy smiles. There would be no large, warm hands on his skin. There would be no stupid jokes that he found funny anyway because they were that pathetic. There would be no more of soft gazes, tender smiles and warm touches. There will be…no more Yifan.

The half-empty cup slips from his grip. The front of his pants gets wet but he doesn’t register that as his heart hurts and he claws at Seokjin’s back as the tears return. He thought he was empty, that the tears have run out but apparently not. He cries, “Why did he leave me Jin? I deserved this, didn’t I, for being too happy? I can never be happy. Everyone leaves…” he starts hiccupping as his voice breaks, “Dad, mom and now him. Am I cursed?”

“Shh,” Seokjin rubs the back of Junmyeon’s head as a few of his own tears slip. His heart lurches at how broken and defeated Junmyeon sounds. This isn’t right. Junmyeon doesn’t deserve this. He was so happy. Seokjin doesn’t know who he wants to blame—Yifan for dying or the powers that be to snatch Yifan away like this from his cousin. “Hey, you love me right? I won’t leave, promise.”

Seokjin knows his attempt at diverting Junmyeon’s attention is weak, yet he tries. It doesn’t work as Junmyeon doesn’t stop shaking in his embrace. The crying doesn’t stop either. And Seokjin knows, deep down, that Junmyeon will never be able to bounce back from this, unlike how he did when he lost his father and his mother got sick. But he wants to hope that time will heal Junmyeon. He desperately prays, and hopes, so.

 

April 9, 2018.

“Do you Do Kyungsoo, take Ahn Hee-yeon to be your lawfully wedded wife?” the minister asks as he benevolently peers over the happy couple in front of him, who seem to have eyes only for each other.

“Yes, I do,” Kyungsoo grins as he squeezes the hands in his. His bride in front of him beams, looking so beautiful in her pristine white wedding gown.

“Do you, Ahn Hee-yeon take Do Kyungsoo to be your lawfully wedded husband?” the minister now smiles at the lovely bride with sparkling eyes.

“Oh yes, I do!” Ahn Hee-yeon chirps. She can’t get over how ridiculously handsome Kyungsoo looks in his tuxedo and with his hair slicked back. And now he is all hers.

“By the authority committed unto me as a Minister of the Church of Christ, I declare that Do Kyungsoo and Ahn Hee-yeon are now husband and wife, according to the ordinance of God, and the law of the State; in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Whom therefore God has joined together, let no one put asunder. The grace of Christ attends you, and the love of God surrounds you, the Holy Spirit keeps you, that you may live in faith, abound in hope, and grow in love, both now and forevermore. Amen. 

“You may kiss the bride.”

“Finally,” Hee-yeon whispers and Kyungsoo has to bite his lips to stop himself from laughing. Behind him his brother, Seungsoo, Seokjin and Junmyeon roll their eyes, having heard Hee-yeon loud and clear.

The couple kiss and the crowd cheers. Do Kyungsoo and Ahn Hee-yeon are finally joined in holy matrimony. Seokjin whispers to Junmyeon, “Fucking finally.”

“How long do you think it will take them to start on babies?” Junmyeon whispers back.

“A couple of months, tops.”

“I say six months. I bet you.”

“I am with Junmyeon,” Seungsoo whispers.

“We shall see,” Seokjin scoffs under his breath. “We are on. Loser takes winner out for dinner in Gangnam.”

Kyungsoo had heard it all. As Hee-yeon smiles at the cameras in front of her, he turns around and hisses, “Fucking shut up please.”

The three groomsmen start laughing at the red flush on Kyungsoo’s cheeks.

The wedding crowd breaks into the reception area. The people start mingling, some head to the expansive buffet—all thanks to Kim Seokjin and Co., while some go congratulate the newly married couple. Junmyeon helps Seokjin with the wedding cake. Minseok comes to help as well as Seokjin puts the last sugar flowers with some royal icing on the five tier cake. In the last two years, Seokjin had opened a steakhouse named Fire and made Minseok the full-time manager at Butterfly. Junmyeon had helped with Fire by using the royalties from his mother’s books, that now belonged to him. Seokjin had made him a co-partner even though Junmyeon protested by saying how he knows nothing of business (“Inactive partner hyung.”). Minseok and Junmyeon had developed an unusual friendship. Their respective losses and their shared secrets had built the foundation of their relationship.

When the cake is set and Seokjin heads towards the couple, Minseok asks, “Can I come with you on this fifteenth too?”

Junmyeon visited the temple at Yeoju last year on the fifteenth of April to pray for all the people they lost a year ago. Minseok had gone with him then. So Junmyeon replies, “Of course Minseok. I will leave earlier this year. I will tell you the time later.”

“No problem.” Minseok smiles and looks over at the couple, smiling as they cut the cake. Hee-yeon smudges some icing on Kyungsoo’s cheek who retaliates by drawing a line under her nose. They giggle and proceed to kiss each other all over their faces.

Minseok and Junmyeon look over with sadness in their eyes, both thinking about the loves they lost. Minseok softly says, “I wish I could learn to be that happy again.”

“Who knows if we can,” Junmyeon sighs as the wound on his heart throbs and reminds him that it will always be there and it will always hurt. He doesn’t cry as much, unlike the first year, but sometimes he spirals down the void of misery and it takes him a while to pick himself up and put himself back together again. Days like those are the worst. It worsened further when his mother passed away ten months ago. The worst part of that was, his mother finally recognised him moments prior her death. Junmyeon, so accustomed to loss and pain now, didn’t cry much at his mother’s funeral. Instead he felt somewhat relieved that his mother was no longer in pain. He hoped in her afterlife, she finally gets to be with his father.

He is dragged out of his moping when he sees the wedded couple taking the dancefloor. Byul-li finds him and shouts, “You, dance with me!” Junmyeon isn’t given a choice as he is dragged to the dance floor. Minseok doesn’t help, instead he laughs and pushes Junmyeon up.

Besides Kyungsoo and Hee-yeon, Byul-li and Junmyeon are the second duo to join the floor. However, Seokjin and Namjoon soon follow suit, with Seokjin grumbling at how Namjoon can’t dance and Namjoon not giving two fucks about it. Junmyeon says, “How long do you think before Namjoon steps on Seokjin’s toes?”

Byul-li looks over her shoulder and snorts, “Five minutes.”

“I say ten,” Kyungsoo saunters over, with Hee-yeon in his arms, to where Byul-li and Junmyeon are swaying to the music.

“Nope, I am with unni on this one,” Hee-yeon shakes her head. “Namjoon is the clumsiest person alive.”

“Amen!” Byul-li laughs.

Turns out Byul-li was right as five minutes later Seokjin screeches and stomps away, leaving a frantic Namjoon in his wake, whimpering after him in apology as he did step on his boyfriend’s shoe. The four of them laugh at the scene. Namjoon and Seokjin had moved in together two years ago, and now everyone calls before going over to their place because none of them want to see a half-naked Seokjin opening the door for them (Byul-li was the first one to experience that and she explicitly explained her horror, and trauma, to the others, which served as a lesson to be never forgotten).

Soon, evening rolls in and the guests are tired of all the merry-making. The times arrives to bid the couple farewell as they get in their custom decorated convertible to head for the airport, where they shall start their fortnight-long honeymoon in Bali, Indonesia.

Friends and family scatter thereafter and Junmyeon says his goodbyes to everyone he knows. Then he heads towards Yeoju, where he has lived for the past two years now.

A week after Yifan’s death, Zitao and Jongdae meet him and passed on the deeds of the Yeoju house to him. They had already handled the legalities of it, Junmyeon only had to move in. So he did. He did like that house a lot. Especially since he quit his job at the State Police Department a month after Yifan’s death, he appreciated being away from the hustle and bustle of city life. He was still very much involved in forensics as he is now a lecturer at the National Forensic Service and trains law enforcement officers and investigators. He was no longer involved with crime directly, and he enjoyed the peace of his new job. The impressed and awed reactions of his students brought him much joy as they learnt something new every week.

Hakyeon had made the post of the Medical Examiner, and Jaebum had taken over Junmyeon’s post. Junmyeon still occasionally met them and it felt nice that they cared to check up on him. Taekwoon too, is still here. Junmyeon knows the detective will get promoted soon. He is glad that he and Taekwoon managed to remain friends even after his drunken debacle of New Year’s 2017.

He reaches home, and he could already hear excited barking from inside. A year ago, he adopted a Shiba Inu and named her Cookie. At first he was afraid that Suho won’t get along with Cookie, but he was proved wrong when Suho’s lazy and Cookie’s lazy synced, and now they are inseparable. Also, both of them liked living here, with an entire backyard to play on and run about to their hearts’ desire (well mostly to Cookie’s desire since Suho and physical exertion don’t belong in the same sentence).

No sooner has he unlocked the door that Cookie jumps on him, tail wagging and paws on his thighs. Junmyeon leans and kisses her head. He smiles indulgently at her. At least with Suho and Cookie around, this house didn’t feel that empty.

He changes into comfortable clothes and makes himself some chamomile tea. He sits down on his bed after turning off all the lights downstairs. Cookie and Suho join him on the bed. He sighs as Cookie puts her head on his lap. He absentmindedly scratches her ear as he ponders. It is at moments like these, when he feels a sort of exhausted weight rest on him, that he regrets not having a picture of Yifan to look at. Then again, he did think they had all the time in the world for that.

All the time in the world for random dates, lazy mornings and impromptu coffee breaks. Yifan had planned to keep his garage and keep the legal operations running. Junmyeon had thought that it was a great idea. He had hugged Yifan and told him he will be there all the way…

But he doesn’t need a memento to remember Yifan. He can close his eyes and see him, his features forever burned into his brain. At times he wishes he could forget, but then he feels like he rather not. He feels like if he forgets, some part of him will die and he doesn’t want that.

He finishes his tea and says goodnight to his pets. Cookie sleeps with her head on his stomach while Suho curls up at his foot. He wonders what will he dream of tonight. He wonders if it will be about him again.

 

The fifteenth of April arrives with a light morning shower, but the sun soon comes out from behind dark silver clouds. Junmyeon heaves a sigh of relief. He looks at his watch. Minseok will be here soon. They go to the local Buddhist temple today. Minseok had joined him last year when Junmyeon had casually asked him, thus it sort of surprised him when Minseok took the initiative this year and asked to join again. Junmyeon doesn’t mind Minseok’s company.

Minseok arrives five minutes after ten. Junmyeon was in the backyard, enjoying the sunshine as Cookie chased after a butterfly when Minseok arrived, who knew where the former would be. He goes around and Cookie runs towards him in excitement. Junmyeon turns around and greets him, “Good morning. Ready to go?”

Minseok was busy getting licked by Cookie. He nods his head and laughs. Junmyeon smiles. Cookie especially liked Minseok and Seokjin for some reason, even though Junmyeon had an idea why—they both worked in a café and they always smelled like baked goods.

When Minseok is done being smothered by Cookie, he and Junmyeon leave for the temple. At the temple, they both light incense sticks as Junmyeon chants another prayer he remembered his grandmother teaching him in the memories of Yifan, Luhan and Yixing. This year Minseok joins him in chanting, as he had learnt it from Junmyeon before. This year Junmyeon adds two other names—his mother’s and his former boss’s.

Seung-hyun, while in prison, had committed suicide seven months ago by swallowing bleach. Junmyeon was shocked and upset at learning that news. Seung-hyun even left a note, saying that he couldn’t live anymore, as he kept blaming himself for his brother’s death. Siwon is still in prison, and so is Daesung, who claimed he had nothing to do with Yifan’s death. But Taekwoon had informed Junmyeon that someone from the Kang family in Thailand was in Seoul on the day Yifan died. However, due to no viable evidence Taekwoon couldn’t investigate further. Junmyeon didn’t blame him, at least he had tried.

Minseok and Junmyeon were chatting about nothing in particular as they were making their way back to Minseok’s car when Junmyeon’s phone starts ringing. He sees Taekwoon’s name flashing. He picks it up, “Hello.”

“Hello Junmyeon,” Taekwoon says and Junmyeon thinks he sounds excited (or as excited as this man can get), “I have some news.”

“Oh?”

“I got my promotion letter today. They are making me Chief.”

“Congratulations!” Junmyeon grins. He is genuinely happy for Taekwoon. He knows Taekwoon will make a much, much better Chief of the Homicide Department than Choi Siwon.

“Yeah, yeah,” Taekwoon sounds shy and Junmyeon smirks at that. Taekwoon’s allergy to praise is still going strong. “Listen, they are throwing me a party tonight. I would like it if you came.”

“Sure thing chief!”

“Yeah, don’t call me that please.” Junmyeon cannot help but laugh at the obvious discomfort and embarrassment in his voice. “And I have a surprise for you, so please do come.”

“Surprise? For me?” Junmyeon frowns. Taekwoon is not the one for surprises or gimmicky things like that, so he gets curious.

Taekwoon disconnects after Junmyeon assures that he will come no matter what. But Junmyeon keeps wondering about what kind of surprise the usually stoic detective has in store for him. He guesses he will just have to wait and see.

Chapter Text

Jung Taekwoon had woken up to two letters in his mailbox. He takes them inside and saw that one was from the State Police Department Board and the other had a watermark from China. He opens the official one first. He just takes a deep breath when he reads the contents. He had some inkling about his impending promotion when the Assistant Commissioner of Police hinted as such at the last department milieu he had grudgingly attended. He puts the letter down and sits at the table, his hands under his chin. Suddenly his phone rings. It is Eunji from his department. She shouts as soon as he picks up, “Congratulations boss! So, before you protest we are already throwing you a party tonight! Don’t say no!”

Taekwoon palms his face and grumbles his acquiescence. Eunji could be so very persistent. Yet she is kind and thoughtful, and incredibly smart. Something about her reminds him of Junmyeon. He shakes his head as his eyes fall on the other international mail.

He tears the envelope and two letters fall out, one small and the other is a slightly thicker stack. His name is written on the smaller one, while the thicker stack had Junmyeon’s name on it. He picks the smaller one up, curiosity now burning in him. He reads the content.

His eyes widen and his breath picks up. He rubs his face and sighs. He picks up his phone and dials Junmyeon’s number.

After his call with Junmyeon is over, he gets up from his dining table and walks to his minimal backyard. He leans against the door and he thinks that his time has come to let Junmyeon go. He had harboured his silly little “crush” long enough. Junmyeon has only ever belonged to one person…

January 1, 2017

Taekwoon hates parties with a vengeance. But he came because Junmyeon didn’t want to go alone. Junmyeon had been invited by Hakyeon to the year-end party at the PD. The midnight bell had struck and the whistles had been blown. The alcohol is dwindling and he had seen unlikely people making out with each other. In the midst of this, he wonders where Junmyeon went.

Taekwoon makes through the sea of human bodies as he spots a pale, small figure alone at a corner, by the window, staring out of it with wistful eyes. The light doesn’t reach the nook completely, thereby covering Junmyeon in a mysterious semi-darkness. The streetlight spills on him partially and Taekwoon thinks why must he be so…ethereal and unreal. Taekwoon comes closer and touches Junmyeon’s shoulder. He softly pries, “Junmyeon?”

Junmyeon turns his head and Taekwoon gasps to see fat tears rolling down the smooth, pale cheeks. Junmyeon sobs and lunges forward, tucking his head against Taekwoon’s chest. The detective’s heart flutters and he doesn’t know what to do with his hands. Junmyeon sobs into his chest, “Why isn’t he here with me? I miss him so damn much! Why did that fucker have to leave me like this?”

Junmyeon sways a little, and his speech sounds slurred. It doesn’t take Taekwoon too long to realise Junmyeon is heavily intoxicated. He awkwardly pats Junmyeon’s back, at a loss of words because how is one supposed to say anything to that? And how is he going to form coherent sentences over the storm in his heart?

Junmyeon tilts his head back and props his chin on Taekwoon’s chest, which has the latter taking in a shaky breath. The corner they were standing in is half-shrouded in darkness and the only source of light is the lampposts outside. The weak white light fell on Junmyeon’s face, the deep flush on his cheeks due to alcohol most probably and Taekwoon has to remind himself to breath at the sad, soft eyes gazing at him and at the beautiful lips leaning upwards and closer to him. Before he can push Junmyeon away because this is a very bad idea, Junmyeon presses his soft lips on Taekwoon’s.

Taekwoon is stunned immovable at first. Then Junmyeon wraps his hands around his neck and presses impossibly close. Taekwoon wants to push away but then he tastes the wine on Junmyeon’s lips and he loses his composure. Junmyeon’s lips are so fucking soft and pliant. He lets Junmyeon kiss him, fervently, with teeth clashing and sloppy movements because Junmyeon is so, so drunk and Taekwoon is terribly nervous.

Taekwoon finds himself kissing back despite his rational side warning him. Hasn’t he daydreamed of this before? He holds Junmyeon close to him by his waist as he feels Junmyeon licking into his mouth. Taekwoon sucks on that tongue and Junmyeon shivers in his arms. Fuck. Somewhere in his mind, Taekwoon thinks this is taking advantage of Junmyeon’s vulnerability. He starts feeling lightheaded, so he leans backwards and away. Junmyeon grumbles and tries chasing Taekwoon’s lips. Taekwoon whispers, “Don’t Junmyeon.” Junmyeon is disoriented and they are friends for fuck’s sakes!

Yifan,” Junmyeon drawls, his eyes closed shut, “I love you Yifan.”

And that is when the other shoe drops. Taekwoon’s heart lurches and he feels a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. There it was, Taekwoon was questioning Junmyeon’s actions. He got his answer. He tugs Junmyeon’s hand and drags him forward. Junmyeon whines and grumbles, and loses his balance quite a few times.

When they are at Taekwoon’s car, Junmyeon tackles him and hugs him. He mutters, “Happy new year’s Yifan.”

Taekwoon closes his eyes and sighs. He gently manoeuvres Junmyeon and puts him on the passenger seat. Junmyeon sleepily smiles at him and closes his eyes. Taekwoon knows that beautiful smile wasn’t for him. Just like how the kiss wasn’t for him either.

He starts the car and glances once at Junmyeon. His passenger had fallen asleep. He touches his lips and if he swipes his tongue over his own lips, he can still taste Junmyeon. Taekwoon swallows the hurt and dejection as he once again thinks, how he will never compare. But this time he doesn’t do so condescendingly, he does so in acceptance.

The next day Junmyeon had called him and cried and told sorry a billion times. Taekwoon had gnashed his teeth and waved it off like it was nothing, assuring Junmyeon that he wasn’t mad or offended. That he was drunk and shit happens. That it didn’t break Taekwoon’s heart into a million pieces…

Taekwoon swallows the knot of feelings lodged in his throat. This was it. His duty to watch over Junmyeon until the time arrives has ended. Now, Junmyeon can have a second chance.

They always belonged to each other anyway.

 

Junmyeon is an hour late but he shows up at Taekwoon’s promotion party anyway. As soon as Taekwoon spots him, he beckons him to follow him to his new office. As soon as Junmyeon enters the office, Taekwoon locks it. Junmyeon raises his eyebrows at that, but he pushes it aside as he smiles, “Congratulations again! You are going to make a fine chief!”

Taekwoon scoffs, “Well, I am following his tradition…”

Junmyeon frowns, “What do you mean?” He knows Taekwoon meant Siwon by “his”.

Taekwoon doesn’t answer as he opens a drawer in his new desk and takes an envelope from it. He gives the envelope to Junmyeon, who takes it with a suspicious tilt of his eyebrow. Taekwoon finally speaks, “I helped cover a crime too.”

Junmyeon gasps. “What?” He is very surprised and isn’t sure how to react. What does Taekwoon even mean?

“Two years ago, exactly two years ago, I helped someone fake their death.”

Junmyeon’s heart thumps. Two years ago?

“I made a deal with a criminal.” Taekwoon takes a seat, steeples his fingers and looks pointedly at Junmyeon. “The deal we made was…”

Taekwoon watches Yifan touch Junmyeon’s cheek, a silent communication, in a mute reassurance.  Yifan steps around him and beckons him to follow the former to the backyard.

When they reach the backyard, Taekwoon takes a moment to stare at the river.

Yifan asks, “So, what do you want?”

Taekwoon says, his face unforgiving, “You do know when the time comes, I would have to arrest you?” He had thought long and hard about this.

“Yes, I am aware,” Yifan nods. His face is cold and impassive but Taekwoon sees the determination blazing in his eyes. “I am also aware of the damage to Junmyeon’s reputation if our connections come to light.”

“Yes. I was thinking about that as well…arresting you wouldn’t undo that.” He is glad that they were at least on the same page.

“I will not let any harm come to Junmyeon.”

Taekwoon rubs the bridge of his nose. “I am aware of that as well. So what will you do Wu Yifan?”

Yifan looks down at his feet, his face morose. He quietly says, “I am not sure yet.”

“I have an idea. Let us make a deal Yifan-sshi.”

“Deal?” Yifan scowls. He is unsure to make negotiations with Taekwoon, because after all he is a cop and Yifan is a criminal. But he squashes that down. Right now he needs allies, and he knows Taekwoon just might prove to be useful.

“Yes. You clean up your act Yifan and I don’t arrest you,” Taekwoon sighs. He had checked in the system for any record on Yifan, but there wasn’t any. He could safely assume that the absence of any record meant that the Kang organisation really did treasure Yifan once upon a time. Since Yifan is not in the system, he can turn his life around. “I cannot arrest you. You have no record. Siwon made sure of that, I am a hundred percent certain. Thus I got no reason to throw you in jail. But, if you…”

Yifan fists his hands and stares at his. He slowly says, “I have been thinking the same thing for a while actually. I want to do so; I want to do it for—”

“Junmyeon?” Taekwoon hazards a guess and judging from the way Yifan refuses to meet his gaze confirms his doubts. He shakes his head.

Yifan says, slowly, “Okay, I agree. I will clean up my act. I will stop doing what I used to do. That life isn’t worth it anymore.” Because he found his life is so much better with Junmyeon in it…

“You would do this?” Taekwoon asked, incredulous. He hadn’t expected Yifan to agree so quick.

“I would do anything for Junmyeon,” Yifan fisted his hands. He was serious. And he means what he said.

Taekwoon sighed, “You two, I don’t understand completely this love you share.”

Yifan had startled, his heart jumping wildly in his ribcage. Love? His blood heats up as his heart pumps hard and fast as realisation crashes on him. The dots get joined and he wonders why was he so blind for so long. He looks up to see Taekwoon looking all funny at him, so he scrambles for something to say. He quickly speaks, “But that won’t be easy. After we are done with Daesung, the other Kangs might not be content to leave me alone.”

Taekwoon nods, “Hm, we will see when we get there. So deal?” He extends his hand which Yifan firmly shakes. Taekwoon smirks, “I wonder if in another life we could have been friends.”

Yifan smirks back. He knows where Taekwoon is coming from. They were both men who put honour and value above everything else. He says, “I wonder the same.”

“The deal was simple. The guy promised me to clean up his act. But a problem arises when the guy realised that he won’t be left alone in peace if he does so. Also, the love of his life would be in danger as well. So, he and I came up with a plan…”

Taekwoon looks at the corpse at his feet. He weighs the risks in asking Zitao and Jongdae where they got the body from. The height and weight, stature and even the fracture was the same. Jongdae says, “Dude died of a heart attack and no one came to claim his body. We are extremely lucky. Let’s just thank all the gods of all religions. Okay?”

Yifan chuckles darkly. Taekwoon raises an eyebrow at him. He asks, “And what about that guy who landed from Thailand this morning?”

“I will take care of him,” Zitao says. “No one besides us, and Soojung know about ge and Junmyeon-hyung. So if I shut him up for good, no one else will ask around anymore.”

“Yeah,” Jongdae nods along, “The dude is not that important in the organisation. I can spread rumours he scrammed.”

Yifan nods. “We are ready to go.” They are at his garage. He limps closer to the Porsche and strokes the bonnet. “I couldn’t even drive her for more than a few months.”

Taekwoon palms his face. Jongdae laughs at his ge’s antics. But the mood shifts when Zitao says, “Couldn’t we have done this without keeping hyung in the dark?”

Yifan shakes his head, “No. If I told Junmyeon, his life could be in danger. And I don’t want that. I will disappear, and when the time is right, I will tell him.”

“That won’t go down well. I am pretty sure hyung will punch you,” Jongdae says, his feline lips curling into a grin. Yifan bitterly laughs at that.

Yifan clasps Taekwoon by his elbow and says, sincerity shining in his eyes, “Take care of Junmyeon, Taekwoon.”

Taekwoon gulps. He mutely nods, feeling overwhelmed. That is some responsibility when he is in turmoil himself regarding Kim Junmyeon.

So they put the corpse in the car and Zitao fixed the time bomb under the car. He slides in the backseat. Yifan drove it to a relatively empty street, not too far from his apartment and Zitao and he work in crisp tandem as they put the corpse on the driver’s seat. They move away at a safe distance and Zitao sets off the bomb. Yifan silently weeps at the deception that he is creating just to keep his love safe. He hopes Junmyeon can forgive him.

Later, during the investigation when Jaebum gets a hold of Taekwoon to talk about why the body was already dead before the blast, Taekwoon took him aside and promised him a promotion if he kept his mouth shut.

“I told Jaebum that this wasn’t any dirty crime cover-up. It was someone’s sacrifice to keep the love of his life safe. It was someone’s determination to become a better man for said love.”

Taekwoon stops and takes a deep breath. Junmyeon clutches the envelope in his hand and he tries his very best to not hyperventilate. He heard Taekwoon’s tale and even if he took no names, Junmyeon can read between the lines and his shattered soul refused to believe it all. This cannot be…

He shakes his head and he feels wetness on his cheeks. He whimpers, “What do you mean Taekwoon? You cannot possibly mean,” he gulps as a shudder passes through him, his heart swelling in either joy or anxiety, he doesn’t know, “You cannot possibly mean he is…that he is alive.” He shuts his eyes, thinking that Taekwoon will tell him that all of this is just an elaborate prank or he is in a dream and he is going to wake up soon. The thing he had desperately wished for, prayed for every day for the last two years, he cannot believe that it was attainable. So it cannot possibly be…

Taekwoon sighs. Then he smiles kindly, “Yes Junmyeon. Yifan is alive.”

Chapter Text

Junmyeon checks for the umpteenth time if he has all his belongings on him. He is only carrying an overnight duffle bag, so he could keep it with him on the flight. Seokjin stands beside him and tuts, “Oh my god, stop, you didn’t lose your phone. You might have lost your sanity, but your phone is still with you.”

Junmyeon just glares at him. He knows Seokjin isn’t mad about his decision anymore. A week ago when Junmyeon ended up in Seokjin’s apartment and started crying and blabbering about Yifan’s letter, Seokjin was shocked. But he heard his cousin out, and even though Junmyeon could tell that he wasn’t glad initially, that he was mad at Yifan mostly, he encouraged Junmyeon to go. Seokjin had seen how broken Junmyeon had become even though he hid it expertly. How Junmyeon laughed and smiled but his eyes were empty. So Seokjin knew this was a good thing. Even though Seokjin does want to strangle Wu Yifan with his own hands, but that can happen later. He will make it happen later.

The flight is announced. Junmyeon sighs as excitement gets his heart skipping beats. And he feels nervous as well. He says, “Take care of Suho and Cookie, okay? Take Cookie for a walk every day. Shibas are lazy but you will have to be strict and persistent. And—”

Seokjin suddenly hugs him, cutting Junmyeon’s speech off. Seokjin says, “Yeah, yeah I know. Have a good trip, okay? And please punch that guy for me. Then you can punch his face with your face. You have my permission.”

Junmyeon chuckles as his cousin releases him. He looks at his stupid brother with tears in his eyes. He never acknowledged how much he loves his family. But Seokjin gets it as he smiles and ruffles his hair. “Now go, do you wanna miss your flight as we recreate a TV drama scene here?”

Junmyeon wipes his face and smiles. He keeps waving at Seokjin until he passes through the boarding area.

He is on the flight fifteen minutes later. He had taken the window seat. The flight from Incheon to Guangzhou, China will be three to four hours long. He had his book and he has already paid for the snacks. He will be okay. Mostly. Like how many people fly to China to meet their once-dead-but-not-really-lover?

After take-off, he pulls out his book to settle down and read. But he can’t relax when all he could think is of Yifan. He will see him after two years. So much can change in these two years…

He pulls out the envelope and opens the stack of A6 pages scribbled in messy Hangul, like the writer has forgotten how to write in that script. He opens them and reads the words on them for the twentieth time.

Junmyeon,

I cannot believe I am writing a letter. Who writes a letter nowadays anyway? (Apparently people who fake their deaths do, Junmyeonn scoffs) And this is probably the first time in a long time I am writing anything. But I didn’t know I don’t know how else to tell you everything I did otherwise.

So, stating the obvious is stupid, but I am alive and that body in the Porsche that day wasn’t me. (duh, he isn’t stupid) Don’t worry, I didn’t kill anyone for that. I made up my mind to never shed blood again on the day I realised I didn’t want to you loved you and I wanted you to think better about me. Like I wasn’t some mindless murderer. I wished I could tell you my plans, tell you that the things I did was for you just as much it was for me. I didn’t want to be killed by any vengeful Kang and I didn’t want you to be in any danger. But

But I already put you in so much danger while I was around too. You got attacked twice in your own home, got kidnapped, had to lie to everyone bec all thanks to me. And I was such an asshole to you as well. (that self-awareness though) But I was just trying to protect myself. You are dangerous you know? You changed me. And I thought I was unchangeable. I thought I knew myself, I believed that I was unshakeable, that I could never fall for anyone, that feelings aren’t for me. Then a certain Kim Junmyeon happened to me. And I wanted to never let go.

I had to however. The world of crime is a terrible place. And you were too naïve to understand it all. Otherwise you wouldn’t have taken me in, kept me around even after that first assassination attempt or try to help Seung-hyun. I started to think if it was a good idea to involve myself with you. I didn’t want to introduce you to the violence I was always surrounded by. I am a I was a criminal, I know how many have died because of me. For the first time in my life, I discovered a reason to stop. And that reason was you Junmyeon. (he stifles a sob)

I never thought I could ever fall in love. Love was such an indulgent extravagance in our world. You saw what happened to Yixing and Soojung, and Luhan and Minseok. I was living in fear every day. If anyone had got to you to get to me, I would have hated lost it. You are very important to me.

However, I knew, and so did Taekwoon, that just me stopping being a sweeper wouldn’t solve all our problems. I had a reputation, and it wasn’t a glowing one. Even if I cut myself away from it all, it won’t leave me alone, and you, by association, would have been targeted. Remember how I told you that you are weakness and my strength at the same time? (yes, he remembers that very clearly)

It wouldn’t require a fu genius to figure out that I loved you very much. I didn’t You would have been used as my weakness, and I would have turned the world upside down to protect you. I would do anything for you.

At the same time, you gave me strength Junmyeon. Even now, everything I have done to turn my miserable life around is because of you. I worked hard because I wanted to make you proud of me.

Because You matter to me. I wanted to become a man who could stand tall in front of you without his past weighing on his shoulders. I didn’t want to lurk in the dark and you became my light. (he stifles another sob)

You are still my light. I hated this. I hated hiding from you. I hated that I had to do this to you. I You don’t have to forgive me ever. You can shred the plane ticket to bits. You can burn this letter and consider me dead and move on with your life. But Junmyeon, I wish to see you so damn fucking bad. I have been without your smiles, and your beautiful face, and your voice, and your just you for too fucking long.

You have no idea how much I missed you. There were times I nearly got on a plane and just to see you. But Zitao and Jongdae reminded me not to, because everything we were all building to make our lives better would be for reduced to nothing. I miss you so bad. I know I have no right to say so, or ask this from you, but please, please let me see you once Junmyeon. You are free to then decide if you want to what you want. Please Junmyeon, just for once?

(Yes, Zitao and Jongdae knew. So did Soojung. And Taekwoon. I wouldn’t be able to do anything without them. Trust me when I say that they hated lying to you too and hiding my the fact that I was alive.) (Captain Obvious strikes again as he smiles behind the hand on his mouth)

It is your call Junmyeon. But I miss you. And I still love you.

I love you so damn much. But I don’t know if you still do. I couldn’t ask Taekwoon these things. I don’t even know if you have moved on and found someone much, much better. If you have, then it is okay. You are so wonderful that I wouldn’t blame anyone for falling for you. He wouldn’t mind much if you took a little trip to China, right? You don’t have to tell him. This could be our little secret. (stupid, stupid Yifan, how can he even think like this?)

I cannot go back to Korea anymore, and I will tell you why someday. So, if you I know I am asking for too much. I won’t even ask you stay for too long. Just meet me once. I have finally achieved what I wanted to do. I want you to see my life, I want to know if I have done any good from you. Only your opinions matter to me.

I never deserved all that you gave to me. I encroached upon your kindness and love far too many times. Anyone else in my place would have given you something better in return. I could only give you hurt. Did you hate me all this while? I won’t be surprised if you do so. Did you feel like you wasted all your love on me? I told you did tell you so. (he had cried the first three times he read this part, but he feels like crying all over again)

I don’t deserve anything. I have nothing to ask from you. But please, just once, let me see you and touch you and hold you and hear your sweet voice. Don’t worry, I won’t try to be the ex-boyfriend from those TV dramas (I am sorry Tao and Jongdae have influenced me too much). (he chuckles at this)

You know what I craved for the most for all this time? A home…with you. You gave me that Junmyeon, and so much more. I love you. I still do. And I don’t think I can stop. (neither can he)

Yours

Love

—Yifan.

Junmyeon folds the letter neatly and tucks it back in the envelope. He is such a mess of emotions right now. He doesn’t know what to feel—he is angry, sad, happy, nervous, excited, etcetera, etcetera. His heart is beating too fast and his hands match their rhythm. He doesn’t know what he is going to do when he meets Yifan. He wants to see, hold and touch him again as well.

He had wondered if it was a prank, but Taekwoon had repeatedly assured him it wasn’t. Taekwoon had been in contact with Yifan all this while. He told Junmyeon how much he hated lying about Yifan’s existence all this time. Junmyeon did want to scream at him because Taekwoon had seen how miserable he was for the last two years. But then he realised that he can’t do that Taekwoon, who has been nothing but nice to him all this time. He has been a good friend. And Junmyeon is so very thankful for that. 

Wu fucking Yifan, you idiot, Junmyeon muses as he picks up that book and again,and tries to calm down.

 

Yifan paces around in his office, impatient and edgy. Junmyeon lands today, Taekwoon has informed him. He hasn’t seen Junmyeon for two years. Two fucking years.

He is no longer Wu Yifan now, he changed his name to Li Jiaheng. He settled in Guangzhou with Zitao, Jongdae and surprisingly, Soojung as well. They owned and operated a security agency here. Zitao worked as a bodyguard, only taking elite cases and trained recruits on the side. Jongdae works in the intelligence department, collecting information and taking care of resources and technology. Soojung is the head manager, controlling traffic and selecting clients, and keeping Jongdae in line (her most stressful responsibility). They had risen within a year, and they were the new favourites of celebrities, politicians and the like. The irony of their new enterprise didn’t miss them. They were now the protectors instead of the predators.

He had used the money he had saved in the locker in the basement of their house in Yeoju (which he left to Junmyeon). It wasn’t too difficult, even though there were trying times, to set up business here. It is a good thing no one asked too many questions after people realised how efficient and skilled they were. That doesn’t mean Yifan has relaxed completely.

Zitao met with that cousin from Thailand. What surprised them all was when said cousin thanked Zitao in removing Daesung from Seoul. Looks like cousin wanted a big piece of the organisation in Korea, and make himself head. Thus he made a deal with them—he wouldn’t try exacting revenge if Yifan stayed away from Seoul. So, Yifan was safe but he was still on his toes, ready to strike back whenever.

Soojung knocks on his door and enters when he says, “Come in.”

It wasn’t hard to become friends, and partners, with Soojung. She had a pleasant personality and he could see what Yixing liked in her (Zitao could see that as well). She says, “That idol company requested Tao again.” Her face is neutral but her crossed arms tell Yifan she is pissed.

“Which one?” Yifan asks even though he knows. Soojung is very controlled and never lets her emotions show, so it was always amusing for Yifan to see a tiny break in that cover. Jongdae would pray to his gods for any opportunity to mess with her.

“You know, that one with that girl with the huge bo—ridiculous nasal voice. Yang Lin.” The last part comes out as a hiss and she knows she is caught when Yifan starts laughing.

“Oh Soojung, you know Tao only loves you,” Yifan says with an amusing smile.

“I know!” Soojung stomps her feet and sheds her cool exterior. “But she is so annoying! She always keeps clinging to him!”

“Soojung, this is the longest I have seen Tao be with anyone. So don’t worry if some hot actress takes a shining to him. He really loves you, and only you.”

Soojung bites her lips. She knows Yifan is right, but sometimes she remembers what Zitao told her about his past dating escapades and she gets insecure. But she does appreciate that Zitao is honest. That Zitao gave her time after he confessed because he knew she still loved Yixing. She sighs. She loves Zitao, she really does but she knows that there always be a Yixing-shaped hole in her heart. And Zitao knows that and respects that. And still loves her all the same.

Fuck pretty idols with huge plastic breasts. “You are right,” she shakes her head and glances at her watch, “It is nearly four now. I am taking Tao with me to the airport.”

Yifan clasps his hand and tries to pace himself. Soojung sees the tension radiating from him. She comes closer and puts her hands on his shoulders. She smiles, “Nervous?”

“You have no idea,” Yifan’s voice shakes.

“You will be okay.”

Yifan nods as Soojung turns around and leaves. He bites his lips as his heart pounds. He will see Junmyeon again. He will finally get to see Junmyeon again after two years. He has waited for this moment for so long.

 

Junmyeon spots Zitao and Soojung right away. They are standing outside the airport and they break out into matching grins when they spot him. Junmyeon feels the tug in his heart and he finds himself grinning back. Zitao’s hair is longer and black, and there is a little ponytail. He is dressed in a black suit and the sunglasses make him look like a bodyguard. While Soojung on the other hand still looked lovely as ever. Her hair is shorter. But what catches Junmyeon’s eyes is the fact that they are holding hands.

Zitao engulfs him in a hug as soon as he is close enough. Zitao says, “It is so nice to see you hyung.”

“It is nice to see you as well,” Junmyeon is sincere when he says that. When Zitao leaves him, he focuses on Soojung and smiles, “Are you two dating?”

Soojung laughs, “Is it that obvious?” On the other side, Zitao blushes.

Junmyeon nods his head and lets Soojung hug him as well. They were never that close but both of them are glad to see each other again.

She releases Junmyeon and says, “He is very anxious to see you.”

Junmyeon’s smile wavers and nervousness returns and rolls around in his stomach. Zitao presses his hand on his shoulder and softly says, “We are sorry for lying hyung.”

“I know, I understand,” Junmyeon sighs.

They head towards the car and Soojung tells him all that they did here for the last two years. Junmyeon is half surprised and half proud at all of them. He wants to weep at how hard they have worked in turning their lives around.

They travel through this unknown city. Junmyeon stares out the window and looks at the unfamiliar streets rushing past him. Excitement floods his veins as they get closer. Nervousness has his extremities turning cold though. Breathe in, breathe out.

After thirty minutes, Zitao stops in front of a multi-storeyed building with a glass front. He reads the banner, “Li Security?”

“Oh, right, ge changed his name. He is Li Jiaheng now,” Zitao explains.

“Oh.”

They get down and Zitao ushers Junmyeon to the lifts. He presses the button for the fourteenth floor, but he doesn’t step inside the elevator. When Junmyeon frowns, he says, “Ge’s office is the only one on that floor. You cannot miss it.” He smiles as the doors close and the elevator starts moving.

This is it. His hands get cold and he wonders if he is heading towards an untimely heart attack by the way his heart is beating. He clutches his chest and tries to steady himself. He cannot afford to die right now. He still has to deliver Seokjin’s request.

The doors open and Zitao was right. There is only one office with glass walls. So Junmyeon could see inside. And he can see a tall man with broad shoulders facing the other way. Junmyeon bites his lips. He can recognise those shoulders anywhere. He walks out the door, and he is proud that despite his knees shaking, he is able to stand upright and walk.

He pushes the door and the sound makes Yifan turn around. Their eyes meet and time stands still.

There is only silence as Yifan’s mouth drops and he looks at Junmyeon. He wonders if he is dreaming, if what he wanted for so long is actually happening in reality. He takes in the soft eyes wide in surprise and the small mouth gaping. He stares at the face that he has dreamed about for so long. Junmyeon’s hair is black now and it looks so soft. Yifan’s finger itch to run his fingers through them. He steps closer.

There is only silence as Junmyeon’s mouth drops and his eyes widen. Yifan is alive and this is not a dream. He sees how short Yifan’s hair is, how fuller his cheeks look and how nice he looks in his form-fitting formal white shirt. Junmyeon cannot separate his feelings from one another now. He doesn’t know if he wants to punch Yifan or kiss him and touch him to confirm if he is actually real and not a figment of his imagination. He steps closer.

They meet halfway and Yifan says, “Junmyeon.”

Junmyeon blinks as the familiar baritone resonates. He shuts his eyes and says, “I…I don’t have a boyfriend. In your letter, you said…” Wait, why is he talking about this of all things? Funny how his brain works...

“Oh.” Yifan tries not to grin like an idiot at that. He doesn’t understand why Junmyeon is talking about that but he doesn’t care.

But he definitely cares when Junmyeon raises his fist and punches him under his jaw. His head snaps to the side and his jaw hurts. He rubs his jawline as he turns his head to look back at Junmyeon, whose eyes are still cartoonish-ly wide as he says, “That was from Seokjin.”

“I deserved that,” Yifan nods. Yes, he did. If Seokjin was here, he would have definitely taken a rolling pin to Yifan’s head.

“Yes, yes, you fucking did.” Junmyeon’s lips quiver and Yifan knows he is going to burst out in tears soon.

So Yifan cups his face and says, “I am so sorry…for everything.”

“I mourned you!” Junmyeon places his hands on Yifan’s chest and his heart soars when he feels the solidness of flesh and bones. Yifan is real and this isn’t some grand hallucination. “I-I.” He starts stammering as one tear rolls down his cheek.

Yifan softly kisses that cheek and says, “I am sorry I had to lie to you. I had to protect you. I love you so much.” He fights back his own tears. Junmyeon is here and he can touch him and somewhere inside him, he cannot quite believe this.

“I missed you so much,” Junmyeon whispers as he places his hands on Yifan’s face. “I mourned you. You can never imagine how I felt...I felt dead inside Yifan.”  

“I…know. Taekwoon told me.”

Junmyeon closes his eyes and tries taking a few deep breaths. He could smell Yifan’s cologne and it calms the storm brewing inside him. He opens his eyes and notices Yifan’s eyes are misted. He rubs his thumb over Yifan’s cheekbone. “I don’t think I can forgive you this easy, even if I still love you…”

A rush of emotions overwhelms Yifan as he feels Junmyeon’s gentle, wary touch on his skin and hears Junmyeon's muted confession. He knows this feeling. He hasn’t felt this for a long time. This feeling that he had missed all this while, away from Junmyeon, in this city.

“And this is from me,” Junmyeon murmurs. Yifan opens his eyes to see Junmyeon leaning in. He leans forward and their lips meet halfway in much awaited bliss. Lips meet in half searing agony and half inexplicable joy as Junmyeon’s heart jumps in realisation that this is his second chance. Hands find purchase on fabric as Yifan feels like weeping at how his dream is finally a reality. This is definitely real.

As Junmyeon strokes the hair on his nape and Yifan pulls the shorter man closer to him, chests flush pressed against each other when Junmyeon recognises this warmth filling his being and Yifan finally allows himself to feel it. In his empty life Junmyeon had found it and felt it when Yifan was around, his soul ached for it when Yifan wasn’t there. In his dismal existence Yifan had stumbled upon it in the most unexpected way thanks to Junmyeon, and in his silent apartment he wished he could feel it again.

That bubble, that warmth, that soft sunlight like existence that swept them up in each other and wrapped them in a feeling they could never pinpoint because it wasn't physical. It was just...there. It was never brick and mortar. It was smiles, and touches, and words, and them. It was Yifan and Junmyeon.

They are home.