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JEWEL OF BUSAN

Chapter Text

TRAILER MADE BY SAPPHIAMUR

 

 

 

 

 PLAYLIST

 

CONCEPT THREAD

 

NO TRANSLATIONS ALLOWED AT THIS MOMENT IN TIME

 

 

 

Jimin looked in the mirror and saw exactly what he had become. A drug mule.  

 

His eyes were stained with dark circles, one darker than the other due to being punched ferociously as he passed a bar brawl. It reminded him of what Namjoon had once said to describe him: Always the innocent bystander, never the one driving the lorry loaded with explosives. Life kills people like you first, Jimin-ah.  

 

His once plump cheeks were gaunt but his lips were as full as ever. It created an odd imbalance in his face. He almost didn’t recognise himself. His hair fell in stringy tangles around his scalp, still stained green at the ends from when he had tried that wash out dye. His arms, once muscled, were skinny and covered in bruises. His insides felt much, much worse than his outside looked.  

 

Just forty six hours ago, he had been preparing for his flight to Japan with a stomach full of cocaine-filled balloons. He had swallowed one, retched, and promptly thrown the plastic and latex wrapped bundle back up. Jimin could still feel Taehyung’s large hand grabbing the back of his head and shoving it into the water basin. It was filled with balloons, to test how well they were packaged. If they sank to the bottom, it meant they were not and whichever poor idiot hadn’t done the test would be writhing in an A&E somewhere as the cocaine rattled through his system in one fatal surge.  

 

Being held under water for three minutes was enough. He ingested the next 70 with very little complaints and fought with himself tooth and nail to keep them going down. He prayed he wouldn’t have to pass them whilst on the plane. Horror stories had been told of those who had done so in the plane bathrooms and then had had to wash the balloons and ingest them again. 300 dollars per hundred grams wasn’t worth it, and he had only ingested about seven hundred.  

 

It was supposed to be the first step in the initiation. To be thoroughly debased and humiliated before being allowed anywhere near the higher ranks of the gang. Jimin was on the bottom rung and he was already starting to give up. He was prepared to beat people up till they were bleeding and their bones broken but he wondered what sort of desperate fuck could resort to becoming a drug mule as their steady income job.  

 

His phone buzzed in his pocket and he slowly sat up, groaning as bile rose in his throat.  

 

// Wakey   wakey  dickhead. Where’s my money?// 

 

Jimin stared at the text from Taehyung until his eyes blurred and his head pounded. It wasn’t long before the phone jolted again. This time, the message was in all caps lock. Jimin could almost hear the man’s obnoxiously loud growl, though he personally felt Taehyung was far more frightening when he was being deathly quiet. 

 

//IF YOU RAN OFF SOMEWHERE I’M GOING TO HUNT YOU DOWN, CHOP OFF YOUR FINGER AND FUCK YOU IN THE ASS WITH IT// 

 

//GET HERE NOW// 

 

There was no point riling him up. A tiny part of him wished he could just sit there and ignore him. Then, he would no doubt hear the car pull up outside his small apartment block. The feet would come barging up. The door would be kicked in. And Taehyung would beat him within an inch of his life for insubordination. He said ‘my money’ like it was his. It belonged to the higher-ups; Taehyung was just a cog in the machine, albeit a very dangerous one.  

 

Fifteen minutes later, Jimin was wrapped up in a hoodie, a pair of faded jeans and his old backpack hanging on his shoulders. Snow crunched under his boots as he looked up at the towering apartment complex. Marine City, Busan. No young man of twenty three, with a farmer’s background and a poor family could ever dream of living in such a place. Not unless he became a skull-crusher (the term for his kind). The name was ominous but they were only meant to scare those who owed the gang money. But Taehyung had since levelled up to taking the phrase quite literally. The higher-ups now employed him as an attack dog, a snarling pit bull rearing to go at anyone who so much as even looked at him wrong.  

 

//I see you dickhead. I hope your fingers are broken to explain why you didn’t  answer my  texts r // 

 

“Piss off, cunt,” Jimin hissed angrily, shoving his phone into his back pocket and launching himself up the stairs two at a time.  

 

He wanted to get his blood rushing to dissipate some of the fear before he ended up outside Taehyung’s place. The man could sniff fear as if it were freshly applied perfume on the insides of one’s wrists. Jimin hammered on the door, completely forgetting that there was a bell to ring. Taehyung’s loud footsteps stomped through the hall and the door was flung open, slamming against the wall on the other side. Even he did a double take when he saw Jimin. 

 

“Oh, you look like shit. And you stink.” He wrinkled his nose and wafted his hand across it in a weirdly dainty gesture.  

 

“I have your money,” Jimin grunted, thumping the bag onto the ground. He began to unzip it.  

 

Before he could begin hauling out the wads of rubber-band restrained cash, Taehyung’s hand found its favourite resting place in his hair and yanked him inside, bag and all.  

 

“Are you fucking crazy? There are cameras in the fucking hallway!” he hissed.  

 

His boot connected with Jimin’s backside and the smaller boy went flying, landing on his bony knees with a pained groan. He made no moves to retrieve the bag and simply curled his knees up to his chest and sat against the wall, scowling at the much bigger man as he locked the door and shrouded the hallway in darkness. A simple flick of the light switch and the contents of the half opened bag revealed themselves. Jimin could almost see the dollar signs pinging in Taehyung’s kohl-lined eyes. He knelt on the ground and dumped the stacks on the carpet, going through them.  

 

“You seriously fucking stink,” he said, not looking up as he wound the rubber band back over each stack after counting it. “Go and take a shower.” 

 

“I’m leaving anyway – “  

 

“That wasn’t a request.” 

 

Jimin knew better than to argue. Besides, he had seen Taehyung’s shower. It was like one of those fitted miracles of architectural wonder he only ever saw on his mother’s Pinterest boards. Compared to his one singular tub and stuttering stream of cold water, this was paradise. He made sure the door was locked behind him before stripping of his clothes. Down went his jeans, his hoodie, the jumper underneath and finally, his underwear. He padded across the marble floor, soles of his feet squeaking against the polished surface and gingerly opened the shower door. The shower was almost as big as a sauna, complete with benches on the side. There was a shower head on each of the three walls and the ceiling, with jewelled knobs decorating a panel to the right of the door. Under each was written in italics what sort of shampoo and body gel would come squirting out.  

 

All Jimin could think was that this was far too sophisticated for Kim Taehyung. For how much he had complained about Jimin smelling, he himself seemed to have a permanent scent of cigarettes and whiskey coating him. 

 

Jimin allowed himself the rare luxury of unwinding. It was hard to do anything else once he managed to get the fancy shower heads working. It was like standing naked in the rain, in some hot, humid part of a rainforest. Except there were no mosquitoes and he was safe from whatever god awful diseases jungles had. And cannibal tribes. Always the cannibal tribes. Jimin’s head began to unravel in smoky wisps of fantasies, weaving into a carpet and carrying him on its back deep into the fantasy world he had built for himself when he was very young. He was good at spacing out. Sometimes, on the worst days, he could black out for an entire twenty four hours with no real clue of what he was doing or who he was doing it with. It had helped when he had been bullied in school, his head shoved down a toilet. And it had also helped when he had been the bully pushing the back of someone else’s head down the bowl.  

 

It was awful walking out of there, back into reality. After drying himself with a towel hanging on the door, Jimin slowly got dressed before making his way out. His knuckles were bleeding again. He must have picked the scabs off, the skin still soft and tender underneath. There was a medicine cabinet – mostly full of recreational drugs – and he found a roll of bandages in the back.  

 

Taehyung was nowhere to be found once he went back out. There was the distant sound of speakers blaring upstairs – jazz music of some sort – but it felt like it was coming through many walls. How big was this place? Jimin resisted the urge to explore and fell down on the sofa. He wanted to leave. But he didn’t want to push his luck. He had already ignored Taehyung on the way here and the man was still his senior, even if he was just an attack dog. He took pleasure in bullying the new members, as proven by the merciless cocaine balloon binge.  

 

A heavy staccato on the stairs preceded Taehyung's appearance downstairs. He seemed in a hurry. The money in Jimin’s bag was now presumably in the silver briefcase dangling from his hand.  

 

“where are you going?” Jimin was on his feet immediately.  

 

“Why? Wanna come with?” Taehyung smirked. 

 

Just by that Jimin knew he didn’t. Taehyung kicked aside his discarded bag and review his laces before sticking a gun into his holster and a knife in the strap around his ankle. The arching curls of Roman numerals stretched over his knuckles as they clenched. Jimin was mesmerized by the sight of them, glowing dark on Taehyung's caramel skin.  

 

“Stay here until I get back,” he said. 

 

“Why?” 

 

“As soon as you step out you’ll be followed and then beaten and left for dead in an alley somewhere.” 

 

Anger surged in Jimin veins. “Alright! I fucking get it! You’re a hardass! You don’t have to constantly make threats to prove your damn point!” 

 

Taehyung ducked his head under the running kitchen tap and lapped at it like a dog. Six clean glasses were sitting on the counter just inches away. He straightened and brushed water droplets off his jacket. 

 

“I won’t be doing it, you idiot. You were followed here. The Scorpions are targeting our drug mules. They’ve taken out five this week alone. Why do you think I have a fucking gun under my jacket?” 

 

Because you’re a homicidal maniac  

 

“I'll  be fine. I’m heading home.” 

 

“Do it. Give me the pleasure of stabbing your Achilles tendon “ 

 

“Why the fuck do you want me to stay?!” Jimin was not one to flare explosively with the temper he very much had. He couldn’t even appear menacing at the best of times. It was why he was such a perfect drug mule. No one suspected a short boy with dyed hair, pretty lips and eyeliner to have 70 cocaine balloons in his stomach. But right now, even Taehyung seemed taken aback by the blackness in Jimin's eyes. Had he known it was fear that made his pupils dilate so, he would have probably laughed. Despite his reputation, Taehyung had difficulty understanding how much he frightened even the hardiest of people around him. 

 

“Because I’ll be bringing back orders from the higher ups.” He answered with civility, as if he understood Jimin was a human being. “Don’t you want to know if you’ve graduated from being a drug mule?” 

 

“After one trip? Not likely,” Jimin scoffed. 

 

“Yeah but not many drug mules start their first time by shoving 70 balloons down their gob.” 

 

“You threatened to waterboard me if I didn’t.” 

 

Taehyung laughed, an expression so bright, so beautiful it made Jimin's breath hitch. “Oh yeah. Forgot about that. But hey it produced results.” 

 

He was gone with a rattling laugh and an obnoxious ruffle of Jimin’s hair. The guest proceeded to raid Taehyung’s cupboards with impunity, not caring how much of a mess he made. But he was wasting his time. Ramen was the best thing on offer and the takeaway boxes jammed into the waste bin were testament to the fact. Taehyung was hyperactive enough to keep off most of the pounds but coupled with the incessant need for alcohol, it explained the soft tummy Jimin had seen sneak peeks of that one time the boy had changed his shirt in front of him. Jimin had never seen him shirtless. He was morbidly curious about it.  He ran a hand over his own lean abs as he flipped a packet of ramen over in his head. 

 

“Fuck it.” He ordered from the local Chinese instead and let them put it on Taehyung’s tab.  

 

Halfway through his indulgent takeaway binge, his phone vibrated. Jungkook’s perfectly edited selfie flashed on the screen. He was obsessed with filters, especially the bunny one. Jimin didn’t think anything could make him more good looking than he already was. But Jungkook was a strange one. His career path made him even stranger.  

 

“What?” Jimin said through a mouthful of noodles.  

 

“Hello to you too, twat. What are you doing?” 

 

“Eating. You?” 

 

“Figuring out if I’ve created a new drug or not. I mean, this shit is sparkling on the tray like diamond dust. It stinks to high heaven but I'm thinking that if coated in chocolate, we could have a really edible, really trippy niche in the drug market. I just need someone to test it.” 

 

“No. The last time I ‘tested’ something for you, I was depressed and suicidal and very willing to risk my own life. I’m happier now.” 

 

“Good to hear. I wasn’t paying you last time though.” 

 

“How much?” 

 

“2 million won. The haul was good this month.” 

 

“I bet. But no. I’m literally coming off a trip to - “ Jimin stopped as he realised what he’d almost said. He’d almost revealed he was running drugs for Yong Geondal. It would have been a fatal mistake. If he sometimes thought he was trapped between the jaws of a tiger and the fangs of a snake, he was absolutely right.  

 

“A trip to what, Jiminnie?” Jungkook purred.  

 

There was seduction in his voice. He always held the belief he could make Jimin do what he wanted if he tried hard enough. Most of the time he could.  

 

“A bad heroin trip,” he lied through his teeth.  

 

“What?” Jungkook’s voice immediately hardened, tinged with panic. “Jimin, Jesus H.Christ are you alright?! How many times have I told you not to touch that stuff?!” 

 

“Says the man who calls himself the drug connoissour.” 

 

“I don’t try that shit myself!” 

 

“You literally just said you’d pay me two million won to try the new shit you cooked up!” 

 

“I was kidding! I would never do that to you, Jimin, what the fuck?!” 

 

Jimin felt his heart turn somersaults in his chest. It was painful. Just as painful as the time Jungkook’s "Mother" had him beaten up for daring to think he could come anywhere near her golden son. How she found out Jungkook liked him, Jimin still didn’t know. He lay in the hospital for a week after with broken ribs and a knee fracture. That was where he met Taehyung. Jimin still didn’t know if he even liked Jungkook back. Did those nights really count? Contrary to what he claimed, Jungkook frequently got high on the mary jane and JImin was hardput to resist temptation when they were together. A glass of wine to join maybe, the bottle displaying a price that soared into the million won territory, and they would both be thoroughly fucked in the head. Jimin often woke up the morning after with bruises all over and a sore cock. It was a mystery to know what happened. Handjob? Blowjob? Or a thorough fucking in the ass? Was he receiving or giving? No fucking clue. All he knew was that Jungkook’s eyes grew softer and softer everytime they met and Jimin felt that uncomfortable throb in his ribs every single time.  

 

“I know you wouldn’t do that, Kook,” he said, gentler now. “But I’m honestly too knackered to do anything but sleep.” 

 

“I get that, babe. I’ll let you sleep,” Jungkook said, and then with a chuckle, added, “Man, you are so different to the way you act half the time. You’re literally a marshmallow and I love it.” 

 

Jimin pointedly ignored the ‘babe’ and the ‘L’ word even if it wasn’t in the correct context. “Yeah well, you’re not like Mother, are you? Despite how hard you act around her just to prove you are?” 

 

“Aaah, I don’t know. I can be a pretty savage cold-hearted bitch sometimes.” 

 

“Amen to that.” 

 

“What the hell is that supposed to mean?” 

 

“Nothing.” 

 

“No, tell me.” 

 

“Jungkook, it’s nothing  - “ 

 

“You’re so fucking frustrating. Every time I try to get into that pretty head, you say something and it turns into a bullet, shooting me right back out.” 

 

“Only I’m allowed inside my head, Jeon. Trust me it’s better that way.” 

 

Jimin rubbed his eyes, running a brief hand through his hair. He felt like crap warmed up. With a yawn, he fell back on the couch pillows. It was so large, so soft, just like the ones in his childhood home, that beautiful monstrosity with sixteen bedrooms and twenty bathrooms for no other reason except that its owners were heinously rich. A single polaroid of the ruins left by the fire that razed it to the ground now hung in Jimin’s dingy one-bedroom flat. It was the only personalized decoration on the mouldy striped wallpaper.  

 

“You wanna go out to eat something tomorrow?” Jungkook said.  

 

“I don’t know. I’ll see how I’m feeling.” 

 

“Jimin, I get that you’re my friend and all but you also work for Mother. You need to get your shit together. No more off days. What is that you do anyway? You disappear for a few days under the radar and then you’re back and it’s all hush-hush.” 

 

“Nothing Kook. I usually spend my time asleep.” 

 

“Why don’t I believe you?” 

 

“Because you were raised to be paranoid.” 

 

“Fair enough. Lunch tomorrow at noon. No buts.” 

 

“But - “ 

 

Click.  

 

Jimin flung the phone aside with a strangled moan and slumped sideways against the cushions once more. The TV was gurgling with some mindless trash of a variety show. It created a pleasant white buzz that infiltrated his senses and lulled his brain into a stupor of sleep. Sleep. The dear friend he longed for but saw so very little of. JImin welcomed it with open arms, hoping against hope it would be deep enough to be dreamless 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin didn’t hear the door slam. At least he expected that it must have because when he woke up, he could smell Taehyung on the air. The cologne was considerably heavier now. He must have reapplied it. Jimin’s eyes were almost swollen shut with sleep and it took far too much energy to stir and look around. He reached for his phone, the white digits informing him that it was 2:30am. He had been here five hours. The thought of having been asleep, vulnerable and unconscious in Taehyung’s presence was enough to push him to sit up. He went through a mental checklist of the things on his phone that might be incriminating. Jungkook was not a liability. His face wasn’t known outside of his mother’s inner circle. But there were other numbers on there – Namjoon's for instance – that would ring alarm bells. 

 

Calm down. Why on earth would Taehyung want anything to do with your phone? He has no reason to be suspicious of you.  

 

He had plenty but Jimin hadn’t given them to him so far. After a moment's thought, he left his seat and shuffled up towards where he could bear Taehyung moving about. He had never made friends with the man though they were the same age. And yet here he was, walking about his house as if it were the most natural thing in the world. The walls were monochromatic, as were the floors and ceilings. He kept it remarkably clean, contrary to what Jimin expected from such a person. Taehyung's bedroom door was right at the end of the first floor corridor and it sat ajar. Jimin knocked gently on the inner edge, throat constricting with painful suddenness. There was no response. A shuffle, a cough and then the sound of someone stumbling to the door and throwing it open. 

 

“Why the fuck are you still here?” Taehyung slurred, a bottle of soju half finished in his hand. 

 

Jimin stared at him, wondering how accurately Taehyung's fists landed a punch when he was drunk and whether he should take a chance and smack him in the face. He remained deadpan. 

 

"When do I have to go on another trip?” he said levelly.  

 

Taehyung took a swig of his drink with a lascivious smirk. Moisture clung to his lips, dewdrops on a pink petalled flower. The comparison rose unbidden in Jimin’s mind, unwelcome and strange. He shuddered, erasing it.  

 

“Why? Low on funds?” Taehyung leered.  

 

“Obviously,” JImin scowled.  

 

“Well, you don’t have to. You’re fired.” 

 

“Fired? What - “  Jiming stopped as the word ‘fired’ truly settled, like a hundred ton weight in his gut. ‘Fired’ - in the geondal world, a direct synonym for ‘dead’. In the eyes of Yongpa, he was just another broke highschool dropout, with no friends or family, collateral damage that didn’t even matter.  

 

Taehyung’s hand reached behind his belt and Jimin recoiled. Even in the buzz of white noise in his head, he understood that running was not an option. Taehyung kept his gun in the place he had just reached for. A bat – his favoured weapon of choice – would have been easier to avoid. Jimin wasn’t sure what his defence tactic was and by the time Taehyung’s hand reappeared, it was too late anyway. A roll of ivory was encased in his honey gold fingers. It took Jimin a moment to realise it was a sheaf of papers.  

 

“Wh-what’s that?” he said, struggling to speak past the dryness in his mouth.  

 

“Your graduation certificate.” Taehyung smacked it against his head and then turned to walk back into his room. He stretched out the paper on the cabinet and ran his palm over its smooth surface. As he did, his tongue slicked over his upper teeth in a decidedly carnivorous slate of expression. Jimin ignored the way his dark eyes flicked up to stare and focused his attention on the paper. And when he did, he couldn’t tear his eyes away.  

 

Drawn out on the paper in vivid detail was a near-perfect replica of an emerald necklace. Jimin’s first thought was to find it amusing how it was an artist’s rendition and not a photograph. It was an odd contradiction. But more than that, there was something else. He recognised it. A wet noise diverted his attention and he looked up to see Taehyung sucking on his lower lip with relish. It was both nauseating and seductive to watch. Jimin wasn’t sure what to make of it. He cleared his throat and touched the paper.  

 

“This. I’ve seen it before,” he said.  

 

“Who hasn’t?” Taehyung snorted. “Thing costs a blood fortune.” 

 

“Yeah. Made for an Indian Maharaja and then somehow ended up hopping all over the globe until it landed right here in South Korea,” Jimin murmured. “Why do you have a picture of it?” 

 

“I’ve been told to hold up on the skull-crushing for a while. I know why they’re doing it. Assholes are afraid of how many people i beat the hell out of before the cops really start to crack down. So, they’re dangling this before me and hoping I leap at it like a cat with a shiny new toy.” 

 

“This necklace?” 

 

“Yes, Park, this bloody necklace. Yong Geondal doesn’t have it. Yong Geondal wants it. I didn’t volunteer so much as I was forcibly thrust into the whole shitpile. But apparently, now it’s going to take a heist to steal the thing.” 

 

Jimin tried to show no real surprise, though his insides churned. “Mother has it though. You’d have to steal it from her.” 

 

Taehyung drained his bottle and wiped his mouth with a throaty sigh. “And once I get back to Seoul, I will. I don’t give a fuck who ‘Mother’ is. Nothing stands in the way of me and my money. And I'm getting paid a billion won if I get it.” 

 

“Extravagant.” 

 

“Guess they really want it.” 

 

“If it’s Mother they’re stealing from, it’s probably a prestige thing.” 

 

Jimin touched the carefully drawn zirconias rimming the green jewel and felt his throat tighten again but for a very different reason. He still remembered the way the jewel rested in the hollows between Mom’s collarbones. She always wore it at special functions and the one time she had worn it with a dress the exact same colour, she had stolen his breath away. He had always thought his mother was the loveliest woman to ever existence on this planet. The jewel was just a drop of glitter on a star. Now, Mother had it, doing with it what she willed. At least until Taehyung got his head blasted open trying to steal it. He might have been the feared skull-crusher here in Busan, but he was nothing in the face of the might that was Mother’s mafia.  

 

“One last thing...” Taehyung turned in the doorway of his room, already unbuckling his belt in preparation to go to the bathroom. “...I told them you’re coming with me.” 

Chapter Text

 

 

“So, like, what is the overarching plan here? Because this is all a big fucking mess as far as I’m concerned. Trying to steal a jewel from Mother sounds like an idea dreamed up whilst drunk, aka, something to regret when sober.”

 

Jimin had walked in silence beside Kim Taehyung for about ten minutes before the question arose like bile. They were traversing the seediest, shadiest pits of the red light district, the Yong Geondal's unofficial HQ. There was nothing about this gang that was reminiscent of flashy mobster movies. There were no Godfathers.  It was every man for himself and may God be with you. Though God was a distant concept in the squalor of Busan poverty-stricken corners. Jimin had seen things here he had never imagined he would in his entire life span. Busan was his birthplace but that had been on the wealthy end of the city, where parents flung about tuition fees for private schools as if it was petty cash for a single days school dinner. He didn’t even remember the city as he had been far too young when his parents had moved. Whatever he had imagined Busan might be like whilst living between Seoul and Daegu, this was not it.

 

“The overarching plan is shut the fuck up and maybe you won’t get smacked upside the head,” Taehyung answered at his own leisure. His lips rounded the filter end of his cheap cigarette and his chest puffed out as he inhaled. The suit on his toned, lithe body was cheap too, but Jimin grudgingly had to admit it looked good on him. Anything looked good on him when he was making an effort. Not that this could be classed as an effort.

 

“You can’t expect me to follow you blindly,” he said, with more defiance than he felt.

 

“And why not?”

 

“Because technically, I work for the ‘higher ups and not you. If anyone should be giving orders, it’s them.”

 

Taehyung acted as if he hadn’t even heard. They stepped into a narrow alleyway with high walls on either side and no sign of the sun before he turned to face Jimin. After a quick visual once-over, he grabbed the lapels of the cheap pinstripe suit he’d forced Jimin into and smoothed them out.

 

“Should have ironed them,” he grumbled.

 

Whether he was saying it to himself, Jimin had no clue. But the mental image of Taehyung doing something as pristinely dosmetic as ironing made his lips curl into a smile. He controlled it before the taller man noticed.

 

“You’re always in leather so why suits all of a sudden?” Jimin asked, as they continued their trek.

 

“Yoongi has a boner for suits.” And with that extremely baffling statement, he was silent again. 

 

The end of the alleyway revealed a door that Jimin assumed was some sort of back exit to a warehouse. Except no warehouse of good enough size would fit in this claustrophobic maze of high walled alleys. Most of it had to be underground.

 

Jimin checked his lapels nervously once more. Taehyung was walking with easy confidence though Jimin couldn’t help noticing that the various gang members standing around smoking in the shadows appeared to bear love for him. One or two spat directly on the ground he passed. Taehyung barely flinched.

 

“They don’t like you,” Jimin muttered.

 

“I know. Enough to want to rape me. Every single one of them is probably envisioning it right now.”

 

He said it with such casual indifference, Jimin didn’t react until a minute later when they were almost at the door. As a burly guard stepped forward to signal that he should lift up his arms, his head snapped around to stare at Taehyung.

 

“R-rape?” he said.

 

Taehyung tilted his head back, arms also raised as the other guard patted him down for weapons. “Sure. Want to hurt a man? Beat him up. Want to break him? Rape him. That’s all it is. Sheer dominance over another. Nothing sexual about it.”

 

“H-have you ever - “

 

“What do you think?”

 

Jimin took a shaky breath and bent down to unlace his shoes on the guard’s orders. After they were inspected, he slipped them back on and looked up at Taehyung.

 

“You meant whether I’ve raped someone, and not the other way round, right?” Taehyung scoffed.

 

Jimin gulped. He shook his head and muttered ‘never mind’ before turning towards the door. He didn’t care to know.

 

Inside, the claustrophobia increased. Narrow walls seemed to push in closer. Every time he blinked, they retracted a little, as if he were walking inside a breathing lung. The darkness heightened his other senses and though he kept his hands to himself, he smelt the acridness of gun smoke, tinged with cigarettes and mixed with the bitter tang of alcohol. It was a pungent odour, overlaid by the softer notes of female perfume. It was only then that he smelt the sex under it all. It made the hairs on the back of his neck rise. Any sex that had taken place here was not willing. He had seen the brothels closeted tight in the next street. He knew how new recruits of sex trafficking rings were broken in – the members of the gang had first go if they were of high rank.

 

A heavy bodied man brushed past him, appearing out of nowhere, and Jimin almost yelped in shock. The stranger grunted something to Taehyung, belched and then walked towards the lit doorway, picking something out in his ear. In the direction he’d come from were the quickly shutting doors of an elevator. The guard who had patted both of them down went ahead to stab in digits on the key pad. The burly bastard stood in front, caging in both younger ones in the back. Jimin had his hands clasped before him, squeezed into a corner of the elevator, with Taehyung on the other end, a foot resting behind him on the wall.

 

It too Jimin a few minutes to realise the guard standing before him was not Korean. The shades hid his eyes, but it was the colour of his skin that gave it away. The back of his neck was pale, mottled pink in places, not the golden undertone his own countryman had. European of some sort. Jimin glanced at Taehyung and surreptitiously signalled with his finger, his eyebrows raising in question. Taehyung stared back, his eyes blank. Then, he whistled.

 

“Oy. He wants to know what sort of foreigner you are,” he grunted.

 

The man turned around to face them and Jimin immediately felt the urge to shrink against the wall. The son of a bitch was gargantuan. It was a miracle his head didn’t bump the roof of the elevator with every jolt as it went down.

 

He pulled back his lips from his yellow, chipped teeth to show purplish gums and a weirdly blue tongue. “Odjebi,” he hissed, a guttural sound snaking up through his windpipe and exploding in a venomous cloud of bad breath that suffused through the confined space. Taehyung giggled but even he made sure to break eye contact and not provoke the beast further. Only when the man turned back did Jimin let out the breath he was holding.

 

Odjebi. He had heard that word before. His father had entertained many a Serb in their home, all tall, cruel and brusque in language. Cursing was common in those gatherings that a younger Jimin had eavesdropped on from the safety of the first floor balcony. He craned his neck to take a peek at the tattoo showing over the back of the man’s collar. He recognised parts of the intricate design.

 

Juggemaffian. A Serbian organized crime syndicate in Scandinavia that made the Russian mob look like new born kittens mewling for their mother. Why the hell was one here, in the slums of Busan, working for a petty geondal? Perhaps he had underestimated its size and influence. Frustration burned in Jimin’s gut. He hated not knowing things, especially when he made a conscious effort to hunt them out.

 

The elevator doors chugged open and with them came a world of sound, colour and smell. It was a factory of crime. On one side, rows of young kids measured out dashes of vodka into bottles before filling the rest with water. Jimin recognised the expensive labels wrapped around the bottles. Very expensive dupes. It was the oldest trick in the book. The fresh alcohol was only necessary when the club goers first arrived.  As they got drunker, they had no clue they were being given bottles of what was basically just water flavoured with alcohol. But they paid the full price for the alcohol anyhow.

 

On another side of the large concrete hall were machines spitting out sheets of counterfeit notes in preparation for laundering. By the end of this week, unsuspecting housewives would think they were part of a shoppers union funded by companies to assess their customer service sectors. They would buy goods worth hundreds of thousands with the fake money and then return them, receiving real cash in its stead. They’d keep a portion of it, but the rest would all come flooding back into Yong Geondal’s coffers.

 

It is better to be old-school and successful than end as an ambitious failure.

 

His father had many anecdotes like that, though Jimin had ceased to believe in the value of most. If they were so wise, Dad wouldn’t have met his end as a charred corpse.

 

Jimin didn’t realise he was openly gawping at his surroundings until he felt Taehyung smack him in the back of the head.

 

“Don’t stare. You’ll make them antsy,” he hissed.

 

One of the older kids scowled as Jimin passed. Antsy was the word indeed. The kid’s eyes were bloodshot and his limbs shook as he poured out water into the soju bottles. They were all drugged up to keep them going. He wondered when the last time was that any of them had truly slept. They were all runaways, with parents in cities far away, wondering where their child had disappeared to. Most of them would never get an answer.

 

“The higher ups are here?” Jimin whispered to Taehyung.

 

“Higher up.

 

He got the second part of his answer when the Serb turned to bark in thickly accented Korean, “Both. Upstairs. Now.” He pointed a thick, sausage-like finger towards metal-railed stairs that disappeared into the gloom of the first floor landing. It was fronted by guards holding machine guns, in what seemed an unnecessary display of force in a room filled with kids and emaciated adults. Jimin chewed on his lip as he was forced to undergo the invasive pat-down procedure once more. He didn’t let a muscle move, even when the man grabbed his balls and leered in his face, daring him to react. Jimin gulped, glancing sideways to see Taehyung’s sharp eyes on him, warning him not to.

 

Finally, it was over, and they were allowed up the stairs. Jimin felt the familiar acidic burn behind his eyelids of tears unshed, but a thick sniff and a clearing of his throat dissipated any sobs that might have jumped out. The back of his eyelids felt like sandpaper every time they blinked over his eyes and he could still feel the nausea of having his stomach packed full of plastic wrapped cocaine. He prayed there wouldn’t be another pat down outside the red door at the end of the first floor corridor. He’d throw up right onto the guard’s head.

 

But they were admitted in without question, The room was clean, well-furnished and smelt good, unlike the den of crime downstairs. The décor was monochromatic. It was not meant to be a welcoming, cosy space. A large mahogany table stretched out in the middle, with a projector screen on one end displaying photographs of influential personages of Busan, all interconnected with red lines. He recognised some of the faces on the screen, the mayor right at the centre. All blackmail victims? Or perhaps allies of Yong Geondal?

 

Four men, suited and booted, sat around the table. Their suits were more expensive than Jimin’s rent for three months put together. It was clear to see in the stitching and the fitted quality, though none of the wearers looked particularly good. They were all old and battered looking, displaying years of gang violence on their visage. Though to Jimin’s twenty years, even thirty was old. But these men were truly decaying. Every human being they had ever murdered seemed to have taken away a year of youth.

 

Except for the man sitting right at the end.

 

He was young, ridiculously so, when comparing him to the ancient geezers sitting around him. His hair was dark, but his eyes were darker, lumps of coal glaring balefully out from under his fringe. His lips were sensuously curved across the lower half of his face, a tender line drawn by some artist determined to create a masterpiece. His skin hadn’t seen much of the sun and was vampirically pale. His eyebrows hung low over his eyes, making him look permanently disgruntled. Glittering rings adorned his white fingers, resting elegantly on the arms of his velvet backed chair.

 

He’s too young. The thought was a flash in the pan. Jimin knew what he, and every other mob boss was trying to emulate: a persona as fierce as a Godfather’s should be. But Jimin had seen men who were worthy of that status. Silver foxes in their mid-fifties with the surety of life experience behind them and a confidence unmatched in their younger counterparts. But if this man – boy, almost – was the kingpin of Yong Geondal, then he had it in him to be a Godfather, someone who could make his enemies vomit with fear just at the sound of his name. With how little Jimin knew about him, maybe he was more than his lithe stature and baby face.

 

“Taehyung.” His monotone acknowledgement of his henchman was soft and there was an unmistakable tilt of Daegu satoori in his words. Taehyung’s was thicker, but this man had also been raised in that province, it was obvious.

 

“Juin-nim,” Taehyung answered, kneeling before him to kiss the largest ring on his hand.

 

The man’s sharp eyes turned up to Jimin who awkwardly imitated the gesture, glancing once at Taehyung for affirmation. When he looked up, he saw the man’s eyes travel down to his lips and fix there. Even when Jimin straightened and drew a step back, he stared. It was an uncomfortable, intrusive gaze and brought a painful heat to Jimin’s face. His heart began to pound in his ears, joined by a dull ringing.

 

“Who is this?” the man said.

 

Behind him, an older male wearing a silver grey suit leaned down to whisper in his ear. But he was stopped by the younger, who waved his hand towards Taehyung.

 

“New recruit, boss,” he said.

 

“Sex trafficking?”

 

“No – ah – I took him in as a drug mule.”

 

“You’re not capitalising on the product’s potential, Kim Taehyung.”

 

“If you want me to shift him over, I can – “

 

“No. He’d be wasted on the sort of animals who spend money on our human products.” He clapped his hands sharply and the other men in attendance rose as one to bow, before leaving the room. At his repeated signal, even the guards left. Silence reigned until the room was empty, except for the three of them. The boss stood, buttoning the bottom of his jacket and flexing his right hand in a menacing, graceful motion. He appeared to be in his own little world as his eyes spaced out. Jimin was once again caught staring, this time by both of them. Again, another hard smack from Taehyung and he lowered his head.

 

“Forgive him. He’s a fucking idiot,” Taehyung said.

 

“Tae, you’re too harsh on the new recruits. Don’t forget you were one yourself once,” the boss answered.

 

Jimin felt his much softer hand touch the back of his hair. What a contrast it was to Taehyung’s unforgiving weight. His tapered fingers trailed down the boy’s cheek, brushing his chin and then tilting up his face so that they could lock eyes. His lips curved into a smile and Jimin was reminded of a feline. His smile was deceptively innocuous, a smidgeon of innocence in a world of darkness.

 

“What’s your name?” he asked.

 

“J-Jimin. Park Jimin, juin-nim,” Jimin stammered.

 

He clicked his tongue with a disapproving frown. “And I’m Min Yoongi. Call me that. Go on. Let me hear what your pretty voice makes of it.”

 

“Y-yes juin- I mean – Yoongi…hyung.” He awkwardly attached the honorific on the end and the man laughed, a gentle sound that echoed through the room like a dying aria.

 

Taehyung looked baffled, and his eyes were as savage and as suspicious as ever when they met Jimin’s. It seemed he wasn’t expecting Yoongi to take to him so quickly. Yoongi’s hands took Jimin’s face between them, tilting it from side to side, inspecting it for flaws.

 

“Being a drug mule obviously doesn’t suit him,” he said. “I imagine a bit of polishing and pampering could turn him into a high-end escort that even the mayor would desire a night with. He’s beautiful, Taehyung. You didn’t tell me you’ve started picking them for their looks.”

 

Taehyung’s tongue poked the inside of his cheek and he took a deep breath. He was frustrated with how smoothly this entire thing was going. Jimin wondered why the fuck he seemed so hellbent on making his life a misery. Dickhead.

 

“Whatever you want, juin-nim,” he answered. “Does that mean he’s not coming with me to Seoul?”

 

“Does he have skills worth taking to Seoul?”

 

“He’s the cleverest son of a bitch I’ve ever come across. I could do with a brain like that.”

 

“Really? Do you read a lot of books, Jimin?”

 

“I-I have a near photographic memory.”

 

Taehyung lifted his eyebrows as if to say See? Yoongi couldn’t stop grinning. He looked like some demented Cheshire cat. Was he always so weirdly excited or was it just seeing a pretty face that had done it? Creep. He still had Jimin’s face trapped between his hands. With a final tug on his chin, making his lower lip part from his upper, he let go. Jimin licked his lips by force of habit and then regretted the gesture when he saw Yoongi’s eyes darken.

 

“He can go with you,” Yoongi said. “If you say he’s clever, I will believe you. You’ve always been a good judge of character despite your other…lacking attributes.”

 

Taehyung took a deep breath. “What’s that supposed to mean, hyung?”

 

Yoongi blew him a little kiss. “Never mind. And don’t pout. It’s unflattering.”

 

On the contrary, Jimin thought the sullen pout on Taehyung’s face was almost adorable. Putting aside his extreme distaste over the man’s character, Taehyung didn’t have a bad angle to that face. Yoongi’s smile disappeared as he returned to his seat. He picked up a palm sized remote and switched the slide on the screen. It flipped to a shadowy photograph of a lamp lit street at night. At the corner of the road stood a waiting Bentley, six armed guards situated at defensive positions around it. The door was being held open by a chauffeur and making her way towards it, was a tall woman dressed in a black Victorian hoop skirt. Her face was obscured by the fascinator attached to her hair and the parasol she rested jauntily on her shoulder.

 

Mother.

 

“Have you briefed him on who it is you’re stealing from?” Yoongi directed at Taehyung.

 

“I will do on the drive there.”

 

“Why are your organizational skills so pathetic?”

 

“Sorry, hyung, I’ll try harder.”

 

“If you fuck this up, you’ll be trying harder over a vat of acid.”

 

“Yes, hyung.”

 

Attack dog? More like chastised puppy. Jimin bit down on his lip to keep from grinning.

 

“Jimin, what do you know about Mother?” Yoongi asked.

 

He straightened his back, as if he were a schoolboy being called upon by the principal. “I know she’s a man who dresses in drag and made up this matriarchal persona. He uses it to carry out all his affairs as the head of Geomjeong-Pa, which used to be a tributary branch of Inagawa-Kai. But after the Scarlet Night two years ago in which the five Japanese bosses based in Seoul were slaughtered, he’s been cutting off the Yakuza’s hand in Seoul’s crime circle. He must be between the ages of twenty five and thirty because his father was the Geomjeong-Pa boss for about thirty years prior, had no history of cavorting with prostitutes, and only ever married one woman – in the late 80s. With how easily power passed over to Mother, it’s obvious he only had one child that he truly cared about.”

 

Yoongi was circling the rim of his wine glass the entire time Jimin’s flute-like voice spouted the words like a recited lesson. His face remained a mask. Taehyung on the other hand was openly staring at Jimin as if he had never seen him before. It was identical to the expression he’d had the first time Jimin explained how nuclear reactors worked (a weird, pointless conversation that Jimin couldn’t recall fully).

 

“Not many know he’s a man in drag. Are you a police informant, Park Jimin?” The atmosphere in the room changed with the slight drop of temperature in Yoongi’s voice.

 

“No,” Jimin said, not immediately aware of the dangerous territory he had stepped into.

 

Taehyung did. “I did a thorough background check – “

 

“I didn’t ask you,” Yoongi cut him off. He got up from his chair and walked back over to stand before Jimin. A muscle jumped in his jaw. He was close enough that even in the dim light, Jimin could see his jugular vein throbbing under the sheet of milky white skin wrapped around his throat.

 

“I-I’m not,” he said. “I’m just a runaway kid with too much time on my hands and an obsession with reading and finding out as much as I can about things that interest me.”

 

“And Mother fascinates you?”

 

“Any crime syndicate does. I guess I’m just wired that way.”

 

Yoongi grunted, the sound almost a chuckle. “Well, we’ll find out quick enough if you are lying. And when we do, you’ll find out that Taehyung is nothing like they describe him. He’s worse.”

 

I know. I’ve seen him in action. Jimin swallowed, wondering how the hell he had gone from being some sort of cherub in the geondal boss’s eyes, to feeling like a cockroach about to be crushed under Kim Taehyung’s size 9 boot.

 

“So, Park Jimin, do you have a girlfriend?”

 

Christ, what the fuck is this? The changes in Yoongi’s tones were enough to induce an anxiety attack. He didn’t know where he stood and how to respond. No seemed a safe bet.

 

“Boyfriend?”

 

Jimin shook his head, his throat drying up. Yoongi seemed pleased by the answer. He turned off the screen and a clap of his hands brightened the lights. Jimin blinked away the stars in his eyes, breath stuttering as he took a step back.

 

“I’d like to pick your brain apart some more. But perhaps not here. Somewhere more…personal?” Yoongi poured a glass of champagne and held it out.

 

Jimin had gone teetotal since the last nightmarish escapade with Jungkook but now was not the time to say that. He took it with a nod of thanks. Yoongi took it as a ‘yes’ to the other question also. He seemed amused by the fact Jimin thought he even had a choice.

 

It was only when Yoongi called one of his men to bring the car around that Jimin realised what he meant by ‘personal’. He found that he was surprisingly obtuse when it came to common sense, despite his relatively acute mental abilities. Panic spread through him as he reluctantly followed Yoongi to the door, eyes once again searching out Taehyung’s face with a lift of his eyebrows. All Taehyung did was mouth behave and circled his thumb and index, before poking the index finger of his other hand through them. The signal was clear. Jimin had merely tried to seek help from a familiar face, but of course, Taehyung was useless in this equation.

 

Or so he thought.

 

Yoongi stopped just moments before he passed through the door.  He turned back and smirked at Taehyung.

 

“Taehyung, how many kills this week?” he asked.

 

Taehyung’s visibly brightened and his lips curved into an identical smirk. He counted off three on his fingers. “The attorney who couldn’t keep his gob shot. The informant chasing up Choi Dong Hyuk’s crack den in the south end. And the snitch about to turn in the mayor for bribery. I threw his collection of hard drives in that vat of acid you love so much.”

 

“You have been a good boy, Taehyung-ah,” Yoongi purred. “If you want to join, feel free.”

 

Taehyung looked at Jimin and there was a deliberateness to the way his head moved. Jimin’s knees almost buckled. He felt like he was in a tiger’s den and the owner had just woken up. Sure, Yoongi was more dangerous but he was disciplined, and he was collected. He exuded calm, and therefore, Jimin could not help but feel weirdly calm in his presence. But not with that one.

 

“Gladly.” Taehyung’s tongue swept out to slick over his upper lip.

 

It appeared he was not just an attack dog after all.

 

Oh shit.

 

 

 

 

 

There was complete silence in the back of the Porsche Panamera.

 

It took half an hour to reach Haeundae I-Park, home to Busan’s most luxurious condominium apartment complex. The amount of dirty money that it must have taken for Min Yoongi to afford a home in the Marina Tower made Jimin’s head spin. Because though he had researched, he could not find any information on Yong Geondal’s boss and that meant that Yoongi did not have parents who were active members of the gang before him. The very gang that was spreading into a crime syndicate before the eyes of the horrified police network active in Busan. No one wanted a repeat of Mother’s Mafia in the south of the country. The scale of her criminal activity was unprecedented. Everyone who was anyone in Seoul, owed her a debt and those who did not, were blissfully unaware of the tightening noose around them. Mother made sure to pull everyone into her debt, with 30% interest rates and a pound of flesh to boot.

 

Jimin shifted and felt the expensive leather of the seats chafe against his suit. It smelt wonderful back here, like cedarwood and lime. Lights blurred past the tinted windows. He only managed to make out the streets when the car paused at traffic lights. It was magnificent, but it wasn’t Seoul. Busan was a city learning to be rich on the back of the widespread gang activity that had plagued it for so long. Seoul was rich before the mafia infiltrated its deepest parts and broke it in.

 

“You’ve never been to Haeundae before.” It was a statement, not a question. Yoongi was watching him, fingers fiddling with the rolex clasping his wrist. Nouveau rich, Jimin thought. Uncomfortable with his wealth. Definitely a rags-to-riches story.

 

“I haven’t, Juin-nim  - I mean, Yoongi hyung. Sorry.” He clamped his lips shut as he felt himself start to blush with embarrassment.

 

Yoongi didn’t laugh this time. He just kept staring with that disconcerting look in his eyes. Jimin wondered if he should let him know he was a virgin. And then he wondered if that would make a difference. Probably not. Was this the gang initiation that Taehyung mentioned? The cruellest form of domination? He had imagined it as being different. Probably in some dirty alleyway with his trousers not even pulled fully down and his body bruised and beaten into submission first. Not being driven to a luxury condo in the back of a Porsche with the phantom memory of Yoongi’s soft fingers stroking his skin.

 

Was he even unwilling? Was he unwilling with Jungkook or could that be considered date rape? Perhaps the younger boy plied him with exactly the sort of wine he knew Jimin had a taste for because it would make it that much harder to say no. He made the best strains of weed specifically for Jimin because it addled his brain beyond common sense. It was why Jimin considered himself a virgin – he didn’t remember details of what he did to Jungkook or Jungkook did to him. He only felt the after effects. He didn’t even know if he was good at sex without being intoxicated to the very tips of his fingers. The memory of Jungkook’s large, beautiful eyes and soft voice made him shiver.

 

//Cold?//

 

Taehyung flipped his phone over in his hand after shooting across the monosyllabic message. Jimin sent him back a middle finger emoji, making sure Yoongi’s attention was diverted. He heard Taehyung scoff under his breath.

 

//Don’t disappoint him. Don’t say no to anything he wants. He’ll throw you to the dogs quicker than you can blink//

 

Jimin flipped his phone ever and focused on emptying his mind of all thoughts before he threw up.

 

The Porsche stopped in front of Marina Tower 2 and the driver got out as three burly henchmen appeared out of the gloom. The door was opened for Yoongi and the other two followed. Jimin mindlessly began to follow one of the henchmen towards the entrance to the tower, when Taehyung whistled to direct his attention backwards. Yoongi nodded over to where rows upon rows of luxury yachts were anchored in the dock, silent sentinels on the sea.

 

“Ever fucked on a yacht out at sea, Park Jimin?”

 

Jimin mouthed wordlessly, stunned into silence. Taehyung’s face brightened into a laugh – that fucking face – and he followed Yoongi down to the dock, flanked on either side by the armed guards. Jimin hurried along after them, feeling a bit stupid standing there on his own. Only the three of them boarded the yacht, but the guards remained on watch at the dock.

 

The yacht was decked out with a gym, three large bedrooms, a dining hall crossed with a bar/restaurant and a games room. It was ridiculously large and yet Jimin could remember being on a far greater cruise ship. Vague, blurred memories came to him, of his father drunk in the cock pit and his mother dancing alone in the ballroom in her green dress as their ship coursed through the Pacific. This was a boat compared to that but Jimin had been poor for long enough to be in awe. Besides, his amazement seemed to please Yoongi and nothing was more important than that right now.

 

Yoongi took out the yacht a few miles out onto the open ocean before letting the engine rest. The moon dipped out from behind the clouds, immersing the yacht in a pool of molten silver.

 

“Don’t forget your hat, captain,” Taehyung said playfully, unhooking a sailor’s hat behind the door of the cockpit. He tucked it on Yoongi’s head, tucking his hair behind his ears. Though Taehyung was taller and broader physically, he seemed almost submissive in front of the older man. Jimin tried not to stare but it was difficult, especially when Taehyung’s full lips trapped Yoongi’s thinner, curved ones between them. He was a good kisser. His tongue came out in brief flashes, just enough to make Yoongi gasp softly and make his lips wet. His hands were huge, almost engulfing the older male’s face between them, before moving down to gently knead the tender spots on his throat.

 

Jimin felt a sweat break out on the back of his neck and a sharp, pleasurable throb in his core. The pair of them seemed to have forgotten he was even there. Taehyung lost his submissive purr and it was replaced by growls that were lost in Yoongi’s mouth with every deep, hungry kiss. When they broke apart, they stared at one another, breathless. Yoongi’s cheeks were pink and in the dim light, he lost all the hard edges he had possessed in the meeting room of the warehouse. He looked vulnerable and was gazing at Taehyung as if he wanted – no, needed – to devour him.

 

Jimin pressed his legs together, desperately trying to focus on something else.

 

“What are we going to do with him first, Tae-Tae?” Yoongi murmured, his voice becoming a deep, husky version of itself as he turned to look at Jimin for the first time since they had boarded.

 

“I-I’m fine just watching, I promise,” Jimin stuttered, before he could even process what he was about to say.

 

Yoongi chuckled, his eyes becoming half-crescents. That gummy smile could light up a room. In that moment, it was hard to believe this man had caused atrocities that Jimin couldn’t even bear to repeat to himself.

 

Taehyung peeled off his suit jacket and flung it on the back of a chair. He procured another captain’s hat resting on the control deck and put it on, roguishly seductive as he flung one leg over the arm of the chair.

 

“I’ve been fantasising about those lips around my cock since the moment I saw him swallow the coke balloons down his throat,” he admitted.

 

“Who gets to fuck him first, that’s the real question.”

 

“Why not both? At the same time?”

 

Jimin bit his lip to keep from letting out a squeak. Taehyung tilted his head with a mock pout.

 

“But honestly? I think that ass is way too tight to fit both of us, hyung. Let’s skewer him like a pig.”

 

Jimin’s stomach turned cold. Was that what the bastard was into? Snuff porn? Yoongi saw his frightened expression and the glee on his face only increased.

 

“So, I guess you don’t mean for me to go on the heist with him after all,” Jimin said.

 

“Whatever do you mean?”

 

“He literally just said you should kill me.”

 

Yoongi frowned at Taehyung and then back at Jimin. “Did I miss something?”

 

Taehyung scowled, and then guffawed with laughter. “He thinks skewering him like a pig means I wanna kill him.”

 

“Not in this context, my dear boy,” Yoongi said, nudging Taehyung’s head in reprimand. “Now strip, and go sit in the pilot’s chair.”

 

Jimin snapped to attention, once more a gawky schoolboy. It was simply Yoongi’s effect on him. Taehyung made him want to punch him in the face and go down screaming, but Yoongi…his iron fist was clad in a silken glove and until now, Jimin didn’t even realise he liked that. The cool sea air coming in through the open window had his nipples erect as soon as he got off the jacket. Taking off the shirt was torture – every stroke of the fabric on his sensitive, pebbled skin was like a tiny electric shock. There was a mirror directly opposite the pilot’s chair – he already knew for what – and he saw how thin he had become after the nightmarish few months he had had. He found nothing sexy about the reflection. He certainly didn’t see what had Taehyung so still as he watched him.

 

“Where did you get this, baby?” Yoongi murmured, touching the silvery scar rippling over the side of his abdomen, ending in a jagged star where the knife had initially stabbed.

 

Mother sends her regards, little boy.

 

Jimin shivered as Yoongi’s fingertips raised goosebumps on his pearly skin. “I-I was mugged by some lowlife behind a bar.”

 

Yoongi’s lower lip stuck out. “If I ever found him, I’d slit his stomach, hang him upside down from the ceiling and let him bleed out. How dare he ruin such a perfect body…Taehyung, get the ice.”

 

“Wh-what are you going to do?” Jimin whispered, moments before Yoongi leaned down and kissed him.

 

He felt the vibration of the older man’s moan of satisfaction travel through him. It was delicious. Yoongi’s breath tasted minty and Jimin self-consciously wondered if his own tasted half as good. His concerns were soothed the moment Yoongi’s lips pressed hard, urging him to open his mouth wider. His thin fingers grabbed onto Jimin’s thighs, propping them up, one on each arm of the chair. His cock was slack against his stomach, balls pressed on the leather but a soft touch from Yoongi’s hand and Jimin felt it stir. He became bolder, reaching up to slip a hand behind the mobster’s neck and pulling him close as his tongue foraged into his mouth. He never wanted to come up for air. He made do with gasping in between kisses, hands going down to undo the top buttons of Yoongi’s shirt as the older male’s knee landed dangerously close to his crotch on the seat.

 

“Holy fuck, you two are hot.”

 

Taehyung’s gravelly voice broke the kiss and Jimin turned to see him watching, jaw slack and eyes wide. He had a bowl of ice cubes in his hand and his knuckles were rubbed red raw; he obviously hadn’t used an ice scoop. Yoongi giggled – a miraculous sound – and crooked a finger, beckoning Taehyung closer.

 

The sight of the transparent ice made Jimin’s muscles tighten with fear. He didn’t want that anywhere near his sensitive flesh. He watched as Taehyung lifted one cube and closed his palm over it. With the heat of his tanned skin, it began to melt on the edges. Yoongi shifted onto the arm of the chair, draping Jimin’s leg over his lap and making room for Taehyung to occupy the space too. Jimin squeaked in surprised as he touched the ice cube against his inner thigh. His voice only got higher in pitch and more apprehensive as Taehyung stroked it closer to his apex.

 

Breath, Jimin, breath – fuck –

 

His hand clenched against Yoongi’s thigh and he let out a soft moan as Taehyung danced the cube all the way to his pelvis, holding it on the scar.

 

“He’s got a voice like a nightingale,” Yoongi said, and Taehyung exchanged a flirty glance with him before both of them leaned down to press their lips on either side of Jimin’s face.

 

Taehyung’s breath was hot. Yoongi’s was cool. Jimin’s hand began to shake as Taehyung snapped at his lobe and caught it between his teeth. He growled something unintelligible, thick with the Daegu dialect, and Jimin’s cock twitched. “I think he likes your accent, baby…” Yoongi whispered, nuzzling Jimin’s neck. He licked all the way up until his tongue stopped on the pumping vein directly under the boy’s ear. “Do you like it, darling?”

 

Jimin stifled a whimper by biting his lip and nodded helplessly. Taehyung kissed his cheek, the length of his jawline, whispered Fuck and then pounced on his lips like a dog to a bone. The kiss was different. Harder, angrier, full of pent-up frustration. Taehyung had wanted to do this for a while, just like he’d said. The ice cube held on Jimin’s scar had almost completely melted, forgotten now as Taehyung ravaged his plump lips.

 

Yoongi plucked another one and the clink made Jimin jerk away from Taehyung’s needy mouth. Wide eyes blinked worriedly and Yoongi licked the cube with a grin.

 

“Look at you…all nervous,” he smirked.

 

The anticipation was the worst part. Jimin’s lips parted as he stared up at Yoongi and tried not to moan with every kiss Taehyung lavished on his neck. The playfulness in Yoongi’s eyes was turning him on despite himself, and he chuckled nervously. But the smile disappeared fast.

 

Yoongi brought the cube down, brushing it over the sensitive red tip of his cock. Jimin cursed and almost arched up off the seat. If it hadn’t been for Taehyung’s hand latching around his throat and Yoongi’s arm around his leg, he would have managed to get away. The sensation was beyond shocking. His fingernails tore at the fabric of the chair as he keened in the back of his throat. Yoongi kept the cube over his slit, his dark, provocative eyes glowing, watching every last reaction that shivered over Jimin’s face and body.

 

Jimin was almost hyperventilating as he slowly lowered back down to the seat.  The cube was melting by the second, the cold water dripping over his balls and down the crack of his ass onto the chair. Yoongi caught a drop or two of the water on his finger, sucking it into his mouth before pressing a chaste kiss against Jimin’s head.

 

“Taehyung, baby, get on your knees and suck that pretty cock of his,” he purred, gently massaging the ice cube over Jimin’s pink entrance.

 

“Fuck…” Jimin let out an involuntary gasp as Taehyung sank his teeth into his neck before doing as Yoongi wanted. He landed a harsh smack on the inside of the boy’s thigh before nibbling on the paper-thin skin covering the spot where his thigh met his crotch. Yoongi brought his wet hand up and pushed two fingers into Jimin’s mouth, the other going up to unbutton the rest of his shirt. Jimin had no idea where to look – the devil at his side or the devil between his legs. Taehyung made the decision for him when he flicked his tongue against the place the ice cube had been moments ago.

 

His hand – oh god, those fucking hands – wrapped around Jimin’s cock, leisurely stroking up its length as his tongue traced circles around his puckered hole. Jimin wanted to wrap his fingers in his soft, silken hair but he was too afraid of the reaction he might get so he made do with grabbing onto the back of the chair. Yoongi had another ice cube and this time, he ringed it around each of Jimin’s nipples, hearing the boy’s squeak of pleasure in response. He dropped the rapidly diminishing ice cube onto Taehyung’s outstretched tongue which then immediately pressed against Jimin’s cock, trapped against his frenulum. Yoongi swallowed his screams with another kiss, tongue so deep in his mouth that not another sound could escape.

 

Taehyung’s hands pinned Jimin’s jerking hips, his lips greedily sucking on the tip of his cock as the ice cube melted in a flash. Water dribbled out from the corner of his lips, travelling down until it pooled on the chair. Jimin’s hand gripped Yoongi’s shoulder - pulling or pushing him away - he didn’t even know. All he knew was that neither of the two devils was letting him breathe and something was going to give soon. And when Taehyung took another ice cube into his mouth and swallowed his cock whole, it did.

 

“Don’t do that!” he shrieked, pulling his lips away from Yoongi’s to grab Taehyung’s hair. “It hurts!”

 

“Sshhh…” Yoongi covered his mouth with a hand, “…that’s when you know it’s good, baby boy…”

 

Taehyung tightened his mouth around his reddened member out of spite and all Jimin could do was yell and sob in utter defeat. It hurt to the point to the point of dizziness. The cube became a smoothened cold pebble trapped between the flat edge of Taehyung’s tongue and the place where Jimin’s cock met his balls. Jimin felt his head spin and his ears began to ring as he saw stars. When he felt Taehyung’s teeth scrape against the textured skin, he wondered numbly if the bastard was trying to kill him.

 

He had no more time to think on that because Yoongi had gotten rid of his trousers and his belt was wrapped around his arm. He unravelled it and looped it around Jimin’s neck, sliding the buckle in place before straddling the arms of the chair, knees resting on the leather. Jimin’s large eyes looked up in surprise and it was all the warning he got before Yoongi’s hand came down on his head, guiding his mouth forward on his cock.

 

Jimin obediently took it between his sore lips. He decided he liked doing things Yoongi wanted. If Taehyung brought his cock anywhere near his mouth, he would return the favour bite. He focused only on the heavy weight of Yoongi’s erection against his wet tongue, blocking out the pain between his legs and the hot grip Taehyung’s hand on his thighs.


“Y-yes, baby, j-just like that…” Yoongi gasped, tilting his head back with a deep, guttural sound of pleasure.

 

Like a child who had been awarded a candy and a pat on the back, Jimin worked harder, pleased by the praise. He liked the way the man felt between his lips. He wasn’t long but he was thick, filling the crevices of Jimin’s mouth with a satisfying smack every time he pushed his hips forward. He felt the corners of his lips become wet with drool and swallowed once to get rid of the excess saliva pooling under his tongue. The motion made Yoongi jerk and grab onto the chair with a grunt. Jimin did it again – and again – until Yoongi hissed, “Ease up,” before resuming the tongue twisting motions up and down his veined length.

 

“Fuck, I’m close…” Yoongi groaned, reaching down to touch Taehyung’s head, “Make him come at the same time as me, Tae…”

 

Taehyung stopped his sadistic games and abandoned the ice. Jimin finally got to enjoy the heat of his sinewy, writhing tongue in full as it looped around the head of his cock and plunged down its length. Jimin’s soft, sweet moans interspersed with Taehyung’s deeper ones, both entwining into a pleasurable rhythm. Jimin timed the movements of his head with Taehyung’s and one quick glance upwards showed Yoongi was literally on the brink. He was flushed, sweating and beautiful, the moonlight setting his skin alight until it was almost silver.

 

Down below, Taehyung rapidly tongued Jimin’s slit, hand squeezing the base of his shaft. Jimin screamed around Yoongi’s cock, accidentally letting his teeth graze the tender skin. It was the last push Yoongi needed. He jutted forward until his the tip of his cock bumped the back of Jimin’s throat. At the same time, Taehyung thumbed the top of his ball sac as his lips tugged on his cockhead. Jimin lost his fucking mind, his hips completely lifting up off the chair as his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He felt salt on his tongue and in his throat as Yoongi’s cock exploded a split second after his own, and he didn’t even care that it was suffocating him.

 

His head lolled back when Yoongi let go of his hair, chest heaving as he struggled to draw air. Taehyung made the filthiest sounds as he lapped up the white, hot liquid spattered over his navel and up the length of his red cock.

 

“S-s-stop – it’s t-t-too sensitive – “ Jimin choked, uselessly trying to bring his hands between Taehyung’s unrelenting mouth and his abused genitals. It didn’t work.

 

“I don’t think he has another one in him,” Taehyung remarked to Yoongi, “Looks like we’re gonna need the blue pill.”

 

Jimin mumbled something about not wanting to do drugs which went unheard - or ignored. He was only allowed a moment’s peace in the chair to catch his breath, before Yoongi’s hands coaxed his mouth open and dropped a pill on his tongue. Taehyung retrieved a bottle of champagne from the mini cooler and uncorked it before putting it to Jimin’s lips. The pill washed down before he knew what was happening.

 

“I wanna sleep…” he whined, as Taehyung yanked him up off the chair and flung him over his shoulder.

 

“You can sleep when you’re dead, nightingale,” Taehyung responded, smacking his ass.

 

Was the pill supposed to take effect so quickly? The moment his sore cock was pressed against Taehyung’s shoulder, it hardened once more. Yoongi dropped a luscious kiss on his mouth before smacking Taehyung’s ass and urging them both on. Jimin’s head lolled, only briefly lifting to see that they were now in one of the bedrooms. Taehyung threw him across the room and he landed on the bed with a skid, barely managing to catch onto the side before he fell.

 

Yoongi’s hands locked around his ankles, yanking him back and throwing his legs apart. Taehyung leered as he got rid of the rest of his clothes, watching with relish as Jimin writhed under Yoongi’s demanding touch. His pink lips kissed a steady trail down his chest, pausing to thoroughly suck on each nipple as his fingers massaged Jimin’s asshole with increased urgency. Yoongi held out his other hand and Taehyung pulled a bottle of lube from the bedside drawer, dribbling its contents over his palm.

 

Yoongi’s mouth was less harsh on Jimin’s cock than Taehyung’s but it was equally fervent. “Christ – oh – ohhh – god – “ Jimin wailed, back arching and hands tearing at the sheets as Yoongi pushed a lubed up finger deep into his ass. His limbs began to shake, as if he were high on a drug rush. He thought he was crying, but he couldn’t be sure if the wetness on his cheeks and the salt on his lips were tears or Yoongi’s cum.

 

And then Yoongi’s finger was joined by another, both of them twisting until he found a place so sensitive, so fucking electric –

 

Jimin forgot how to breathe and his spine locked into a painful arch. He froze, his body unable to react to how fucking good he suddenly felt. He didn’t realise he was coming until he felt the hot dribbles of semen coating his thighs and Taehyung’s breathed curse of appreciation. When oxygen found his lungs again, he gasped Yoongi’s name over and over, as if he had forgotten all other words of the Korean language.

 

“Again, come for me again, my little slut,” Yoongi whispered, kissing his cock from top to bottom as his fingers fucked into his tight little hole harder. He slammed them in, hammering the boy’s prostate until he had no choice but to come with a pained wail.

 

“Fuck! Please stop, oh god, please stop!” Jimin cried, but this time, he didn’t mean it at all.

 

He was laughing like a crazy person by the time Yoongi made him come a third time, this time using only his mouth. Taehyung was becoming steadily more jealous at the sight of the pair of them getting on so well and he climbed onto the bed, all tanned skin and lean muscles. Jimin looked up at him through a haze of tears and reached for him. He had lost all sense of who he was. In that moment, he was a needy little slut, just like Yoongi had said, and Taehyung’s mouth had never looked so gorgeous.

 

Jimin kept his lips locked with Taehyung’s even as Yoongi forced him up onto his knees, smacking his ass with a none-too-gentle hand. “I want to suck your dick,” Jimin whispered into Taehyung’s mouth, tongue sweeping over his cupid’s bow and nails scratching over his shoulders.  Taehyung was so far gone with lust, he didn’t even have the mental capacity to reply. He got up onto his knees and pushed on the back of Jimin’s head. What a familiar feeling that was. Jimin managed to look back only once, to see Yoongi rubbing lube over his pink cock, prepping it. He moaned at the sight, and then was quickly pulled back to minister to Taehyung’s stiff erection.

 

Jimin cooed, kissing the tip, blinking slowly up at the man. He knew what his eyes could do to people. Jungkook practically fucking melted every time Jimin looked at him from under his lashes. Taehyung was no better. Even the skull-crusher had no defence and Christ, that was a fucking ego boost like no other. Jimin sucked in the tip of his cock, releasing it with a cute little pop and giggling when Taehyung impatiently jutted forwards.

 

“Don’t fucking play games,” he snarled, slapping Jimin’s cheek.

 

“Ow!” he whined, but he took him back into his mouth, suckling wetly.

 

His brow was furrowed, but it loosened and then creased upwards when he felt his asshole gape as the first inch or so of Yoongi’s cock pushed past its barrier. Jimin reached back but his hands were quickly restrained by Taehyung’s and he was left utterly helpless, caught between them. It came to him in a flash what Taehyung had meant by skewer him like a pig. Yoongi’s cock was so hard, so hot inside him, he could feel his insides melting with pure ecstasy. If it hadn’t been for Taehyung’s hands holding him up, he would have collapsed.

 

“He’s tighter than a fucking virgin – “ Yoongi growled through clenched teeth and Taehyung leant over to spread Jimin’s ass wider, eyes devouring the sight of Yoongi’s lubricated cock disappearing into the tight pink flesh. The further he leaned, the deeper his cock delved into Jimin’s mouth until he gagged. He was bigger than Yoongi and Jimin was already nervous over how much it would hurt when he got behind him.

 

Yoongi’s hand landed a rapid flurry of slaps on both his ass cheeks and Jimin clenched, making him hiss viciously. He pushed his cock three quarters of the way in and then began a rhythmic pattern of thrusts. Short, sharp strokes that fucked away what was left of Jimin’s sanity. He made good on his promise to himself earlier and bit down on Taehyung’s cock.

 

Hearing Taehyung scream, quickly made him want to repeat the motion, just to hear it again. Before he could, he was distracted by Yoongi’s thrusts speeding into a frenzy. The ridges on his stiff shaft were pleasuring his prostate so well, he was seeing white in his vision. Jimin let Taehyung’s cock drop out from his rosebud mouth and turned to watch Yoongi, moaning with every thrust.

 

There was almost a tug of war between both of them as Yoongi yanked Jimin back and Taehyung grabbed his shoulders to keep him in place. Jimin reached up to appease the younger, by taking his cock in his hand and steadily jerking him off as his tongue stretched out in anticipation of his orgasm. His toes curled as Yoongi flipped him onto his back and spread his legs wider. It gave him more leverage and he adjusted his stance to thrust into Jimin’s trembling asshole from a lower, harder angle.

 

“Yes – harder, Yoongi – haarrddeerr!” Jimin screamed, thrashing against the sheets as his hand squeezed Taehyung’s dick painfully hard.

 

Taehyung was close to completely collapsing, his head hanging low, lips parted and his breath mingling with Jimin’s below him. Yoongi muttered, “So fucking beautiful,” eyes glued to the sight of them sweating and panting all over each other. He pushed Jimin’s legs up and Taehyung reached over to pin them back against his own shoulders, forehead creased up.

 

“Come for me,” Jimin whispered to him, thumbing the slit of his cock. He stuck out his tongue and Taehyung swallowed it into his mouth, crying out as his cock throbbed one last time before spraying his seed over the sheets, Jimin’s hair and face and the underside of his chin. Jimin’s hand tugged on the back of Taehyung’s neck, slippery with sweat, and ground his hips down against Yoongi’s, hearing them collide with wet, lustful smacks.

 

Simply put, Yoongi was a fucking animal, his strength belying his slight stature. Jimin knew he could never taken the force of it without the blue pill they had both made him take. He was screaming now, as if Yoongi was actually hurting him. Again and again, the older male wanted to know how good his cock felt and Jimin yelled out in affirmation each time, pleading with him to keep going until he could no longer take it. He came around his dick more than once, though he lost count, and each time, Taehyung’s hand jerked off his swollen cock until Jimin’s stomach was marked with cum droplets, a messy constellation of liquid stars.

 

“Fuck, I’m done,” he whimpered weakly when Yoongi pulled out, turning over to curl up on the bed.

 

Up above, he heard Taehyung’s throaty whisper of, “No you’re not…you’re just getting started, little boy…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sometime later – perhaps eons– Jimin’s eyes fluttered open to the sight of a starry pre-dawn sky stretched out over the sea. The smell of sex was still thick in the air, though it had cooled, so it was no longer as pleasant. Mixed with champagne, it managed to be worse. His body felt like one gigantic bruise and there was no speaking for between his legs. At least you remembered what happened this time. Poor comfort. He had been wrong to think it wasn’t a gang initiation of sorts. The last twenty-four hours had gone by in a blur, with things happening on a ridiculously rapid scale. Twenty-four hours ago, he had still been in the dark about who it was Taehyung had recruited him to serve. Now he was lying in bed with the man’s semen dried up on the insides of his thighs. It was like some fucked up dream where the sequence of events were out of order but he had no power over any of it.

 

As the minutes ticked past and sleep would not return, Jimin slowly became aware of a heat against his back. He shifted slowly, turning to look over his shoulder. Yoongi was on the far end of the bed, his back turned. Taehyung was cuddled right up beside Jimin, one arm and one leg splayed over his smaller body.

 

“Wouldn’t have taken you for a cuddler,” Jimin mumbled, trying to wriggle out of his grip.

 

Taehyung immediately tightened his hold, though he remained fast asleep, his face mashed up against Jimin’s shoulder blade. The latter gave up, sinking against the silk sheets with a deadened sigh. After a moment’s thought, he decided it was nice. Jungkook used to do the same thing. They were almost the same size too. Taehyung’s hand reflexively clutched his hip and Jimin glanced down. It was easy to forget that these very same hands had murdered other human beings. After experiencing what they had to offer in terms of pleasure, Jimin could almost forget the times Taehyung had hurt him with them.

 

Almost.

 

It left a bitter taste in his mouth and the warmth of feeling the man spooned against him quickly dissipated. As carefully as he could, he managed to inch out of Taehyung’s grasp and slid onto the floor with a quiet thud. Yoongi coughed, and Jimin froze, not even daring to breathe. Once he was settled again, he tiptoed out of the room. In the dark, he was afraid of getting lost but the way back to the control room was blissfully simple. He gathered his clothes up from the floor, finding his phone in the left side pocket of his trousers. He had almost forgotten to take it back from the guards when he’d left the warehouse.

 

As soon as he turned it on, on cue he saw a dozen notifications. Missed phone calls from Jungkook and then a string of voice mails that started plaintive and slowly became angrier.

 

Yah…pick up the phone…

 

Hyung, why are you ignoring me? Did I do something wrong?

 

Come on! Did Mother threaten you again?

 

Jimin-ah, this isn’t funny…pick up…

 

Jimin, pick up! Are you fucking someone else, is that it? Finally got a new boyfriend and suddenly I’m old news?!

 

You know what? I fucking hate you! I hate you, I hate you, I HATE YOU – I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL YOU WHEN I GET MY HANDS ON YOU –

 

“Spoilt brat,” Jimin muttered under his breath, deleting all the notifications and turning the phone off again.

 

“What are you doing?”

 

Jimin gasped, spinning around as if he had been caught disposing of a dead body. Taehyung stood in the doorway in all his naked glory. He was puffy eyed with sleep, but his scowl was as sharp as ever. As soon as he heard him, Jimin’s thumb had automatically tapped on the Candy Crush app and he now displayed the screen to Taehyung as he drew closer. His heart plummeted into his throat as Taehyung snatched it. But rather than go through the rest of his phone, he merely dropped it back down into Jimin’s hand with a muttered profanity.

 

“You fucking woke me up,” he grumbled.

 

“Sorry,” Jimin said awkwardly. Truth was, he wasn’t sure how to behave around him now. He couldn’t even see him the same way anymore.

 

In typical fashion, Taehyung shattered all such illusions in one sweep.

 

“He might like you, but I still don’t,” he said.

 

Jimin stood up, clutching his clothes to his chest, his lips drawing back from his teeth in a bad-tempered scowl. “Maybe you need knocking down a peg. We’re about the same fucking age so stop acting like your shit doesn’t stink.”

 

“Not the same size though are we, little boy?” Taehyung spat out the last two words with such venom, Jimin could almost envision his eyes turning green. The phrase sounded derogatory now, nothing at all like the whispered term of endearment earlier.

 

“I agree. My brain is definitely bigger than yours,” he snorted.

 

Taehyung lifted his hand and Jimin saw it clench into a fist as he winced, expecting it to swing down. Just before it connected with his face, he heard Yoongi’s sleepy, husk of a voice drawl Taehyung’s name from the bedroom. The Skull-Crusher stopped mid-swing. He made do with shoving Jimin, like some school bully, and turned to leave.

 

Jimin was left standing on his own with the vast emptiness of the ocean on one side and the darkness he had plunged into on the other.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jimin had wanted to sleep in the cock pit, but for fear of what Yoongi might think, he returned to the bedroom reluctantly. This time, Taehyung stayed in the centre of the bed, using a pillow in lieu of Jimin’s body. It seemed he had a fixation with having something to hold onto when trying to sleep. By the time Jimin got back under the covers, his breathing had evened out. He peeked over at where Yoongi had turned over to face them, and in the breaking sunlight, his face wasn’t so much pale as it was gold. His jet black hair was like ink splattered over the white pillowcases, the finer lines of his lashes tracing shadowed streaks over his cheekbones.

 

Jimin remembered the broken kneecaps, the blood and the mushed brains he had seen on the sidewalk three weeks ago, with Kim Taehyung standing in the centre, a resurrected god-like figure with his deranged smile and bat dripping with blood. Jimin recalled how confidently he had told him the enemies of Yong Geondal always got what was coming to them. Yoongi’s porcelain hands were so clean, and yet, were bloodier than Lady Macbeth’s. Jimin wondered how he slept so deeply. Taehyung had to hold onto something but Yoongi slept like a king, unbothered and carefree. His eyeballs didn’t move behind his lids; that was how Jimin knew he was truly deep in sleep. A flicker of jealousy stabbed at the base of his throat and he turned onto his side, hoping he could get even a minute’s rest like that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

As luck would have it, he did.

 

When he opened his eyes again, it was bright outside over the aquamarine sea and the bed was empty behind him. He could smell toast and poached eggs and hear the sizzling hiss of bacon. His mouth watered and for a moment, he fooled himself into thinking it was his nanny in the kitchen, singing softly to herself as she waited for her beloved young charge to arrive. For a short while, Jimin could fool himself into thinking she was still alive. Reality came crashing over him like a bucket of ice water, pushing him to get out of bed and wash up.

 

After a brief shower, Jimin followed the scent of cooking breakfast and walked into the kitchen at the east end of the yacht. It was magnificent, a genuine splendour of fitted, streamlined appliances and Grigio Sfumato marble interspersed with oak wood furniture. The entire west wall was made of glass, a table to seat six set before it. It was already laid, but only for two.

 

“Good morning, Jimin,” Yoongi said, his wrist flicking expertly as he flipped thin strips of bacon in the bacon.

 

“Good morning, juin-nim,” Jimin bowed. He noticed Yoongi no longer insisted on being called by his first name. Whatever the frenzied intimacy of last night had been, it was over. He hovered by the sink, unsure whether he would be allowed to sit down yet.

 

Yoongi paid him no attention and continued cooking breakfast as calm as ever. He had an earpiece lodged in his ear, the wire disappearing down the back of his collar and whenever it flashed blue, he took a call. In total, he took six, all the while not missing a beat on the perfect preparation of the food. Jimin’s eyes followed the colourful cuisine as it went from the frying pan into the platter, popped from the toaster and was poured from the kettle. His body ached and it was shaking from the need for nourishment.

 

Finally, Yoongi signalled for him to start taking the food over to the table, still muttering to the person on the other end of the line. Jimin quickly obeyed, feeling like an excited young child about to have his first meal for days. Still, out of respect, he sat patiently and waited for Yoongi to join. However, Master Min showed no signs of ending the call and merely waved Jimin on to eat.

 

Jimin had his ears perked for every word that came out of Yoongi’s mouth but it was hard to get details of the one-sided conversation. It sounded urgent, that was all he could fathom.  After he’d scoffed down three pieces of toast, an omelette and a side of bacon, Yoongi joined him.

 

“Is everything okay, boss?” Jimin ventured, swallowing the mouthful of food first.

 

Yoongi buttered up a piece of toast before pouring himself a cup of tea. “Yes. Is everything okay with you?”

 

“Y-yes.”

 

“You look terrible. Taehyung really did a number on you in that last round, didn’t he?”

 

How has my question suddenly turned on me?

 

Jimin ducked his head to hide the fact that he was redder than the cherry tomatoes on his plate. Speaking of Taehyung, the man was nowhere to be found and he wondered if he was on some other dirty mission for Min Yoongi. Yet another skull to crush for Yong Geondal probably.

 

“Were you a virgin prior to last night?” Yoongi inquired. The way he cut up his food was so elegant, Jimin felt ashamed of his ham-fisted struggles to get as much of it into his mouth as possible. Yoongi’s white fingers seemed to have been created for such delicate undertakings, parlour tricks for afternoon tea.

 

“Y-yes. S-sorry I didn’t mention it,” Jimin mumbled, unsure of exactly why he was so embarrassed.

 

“I figured the moment you almost fainted after your first orgasm,” Yoongi shrugged. “I pride myself on not sleeping with people who need a blue pill, but I made a concession.”

 

A bottle of 1996 Chateau Latour Pauillac and a good strain of grass would have been enough, Jimin thought sourly. His cock literally felt like it had been flayed and no amount of manspreading made it better. And there was no speaking of what his ass felt like. Fucking Taehyung. I should have bitten off the attack dog’s dick when I had the chance.

 

“What are you thinking?” Yoongi’s velveteen voice sliced into his thoughts like a knife into butter.

 

Jimin quailed. “I was just – thinking about the heist.”

 

“Are you afraid?”

 

He decided to ditch pointless bravado and went for the truth. “Yes.”

 

“Good. It shows you have common sense, and therefore, a possible chance of success. Good sense is hard to find amongst gangsters, I think you’ll find that soon enough.”

 

“Yeah, Taehyung doesn’t have much of it,” Jimin muttered, before he could stop himself.

 

Yoongi sipped on his cup of tea and smiled condescendingly, as one might do to a sullen child complaining about a grown-up. “Taehyung has issues, I’ll grant him that. But he’s twenty-two and he’s alive, whereas men who considered themselves greater were beaten into a bloody pulp by his bat. He may not have good sense in most situations, but he knows how to stay alive. You’ll need that where you’re going.”

 

“He’s twenty-two? I thought he was my age,” Jimin remarked in surprise.

 

“He changes his age as it suits him,” Yoongi answered. “But his birth certificate doesn’t lie.” He set down his cup and cleared his throat, his voice losing the soft edge it had when speaking of Taehyung. “Now, Han Doyoung is an ex-schoolteacher who is in my employment. He acts as a records-keeper of sorts. He will join you on your drive back home and will be providing you with the brief you’ll need to get through before your trip to Seoul. Taehyung already knows the ins and outs and he’s known for about five months now. You’re going to have to catch up fast.”

 

Jimin nodded, blinking a little as his mind searched for the name Han Doyoung and came up short. He had obviously made the mistake of only researching the power-wielders of Busan who were hand-in-hand with Yong Geondal. Any number of ordinary citizens could be benefiting from the gang’s dirty backdoor scheming. Although a schoolteacher was a strange past vocation to have for a geondal consorter.

 

“Once you feel you’re ready, you will set off.”

 

“A-and it’ll literally only be the two of us?”

 

“When you read the brief, you’ll know why. Now finish your breakfast. The car’s already outside waiting.”

 

It was hard to believe that only last night this man had been under him on the bed, moaning in a voice that became softer than a woman’s when he orgasmed, his pretty pink lips stained with cum and saliva. Even thinking of him in that way felt wrong, as if caught in some treasonous crime for which the punishment would be severe. Despite himself, Jimin felt a stab of jealousy. Yoongi had cut off all such connection with him already, once more seeing him like the low-ranking gang member he was. But for Taehyung, the familiar side stretched outside of the bedroom too. It wasn’t Yoongi Jimin wanted, it was the knowledge that he was important to someone in such a position of power. Even if this nouveau riche kingpin had no name and no familial connections to justify his high and mighty act.

 

Han Doyoung was a reserved, middle-aged man wearing a knitted sweater and rounded spectacles. As soon as Jimin got into the back of the awaiting Mercedes, he caught himself staring. He muttered a quick greeting, to which the older man bowed his head in acknowledgement, and then shifted over to one end of the seat with a shifty sideways glance.

 

“Am I not what you expected, Master Park?” Han said. His voice was mild and his way of speaking almost archaic. Coupled with the Busan dialect, it was like listening to one of those old-time movie stars in the black-and-white pictures his mother adored so much.

 

“No, you’re not,” he said. “Juin-nim said you were a schoolteacher.”

 

“You call him juin-nim. How quaint.”

 

“What do you call him then?”

 

“Boss, just like everyone else. But I’m sure he likes hearing the other title better.”

 

Jimin frowned as Han’s mouth stretched into a knowing smile. “Don’t tell me you were his teacher? How old is he?”

 

Han pursed his lips. “I would not consider myself a successful teacher if years later I was actively encouraging a student down the path of crime.”

 

“And yet here you are.”

 

“And yet here I am. But no – I did not have the pleasure of teaching Master Min. I would have remembered a student so intelligent.” His gaze wandered to his right, brown eyes honeyed in the sunlight as they studied the younger man.

 

Jimin caught sight of his own neck in the window’s reflection. In the harsh sunlight, hickeys flowered purple and maroon over the tender arches of his throat and neck. He yanked up the collar of his shirt and pressed the back of his hand against his mouth. His lips were still inflamed from the constant abuse last night. In fact, everything about him gave away the dirty secret. The shower hadn’t done much. Han made no indication that he even noticed these things and turned back to face the front. Reaching down into a tattered brown briefcase, he pulled out a ring binder filled with papers marked with coloured dividers.

 

“Master Min tells me you like reading. This will be a treat,” he said, dumping the folder on the seat between them.

 

Jimin lifted it – it wasn’t heavy despite how substantial it looked – and flipped open the cover to glance at the first page. It was blank.

 

“I’ve been researching Geomjeong-Pa since Yoongi offered me the chance to work with him. Mother is a fascinating creature. It is quite often those singular personalities that capture the imaginations of the ordinary folk and have their names written in history, terrible legacies and all. Pablo Escobar, Griselda Blanco, Hisayuki Michii – all names that should have been erased along with their awful deeds, used only as warnings. But they are celebrated in infamy. Mother is one of those people, I believe. She will rise above the ranks of lesser mobsters to become a legend all of her own making.”

 

Though his words seemed to be disapproving, his tone was not. There was almost a weird glint in his eyes as he spoke of her. Was he excited by all this? It started to become clear why the schoolteacher was so willing to work with criminals now. He was hardly daring to believe a Harry Potter reference was forming in his head, but he remembered reading Mr Ollivander’s description of Voldemort as terrible, but great as a ten year old, and wondering how the hell someone could be so blind. 

 

“She’s a he,” Jimin said.

 

“I suggest you don’t use the wrong pronoun regarding her position as a mafia kingpin. Heard by one of her crowd, you could lose a hand, or worse.”

 

“So just because she’s powerful, everyone panders to her eccentricity?”

 

“Yes.” Han smiled to himself, before brushing a piece of lint off the sleeve of his sweater. It was only then that Jimin noticed the label. Dior. He even recognised the line the sweater was from. Those things cost above three hundred dollars apiece. “If it bothers you so much, perhaps you will try harder not to die on this mission. After all, if you succeed, no one will address her the way she wants, ever again.”

 

“We’re only stealing a necklace,” Jimin murmured, feeling his mouth go dry.

 

Han’s spectacles fell down the bridge of his nose as he turned to fix him with a keen stare. “My dear boy, you’re not just stealing a necklace. You’re bringing down an empire.” He pulled a USB disk from his pocket and handed it over, the metal rectangle cold against Jimin’s hot little palm. “Your background will be fabricated, as will Kim’s. Master Min terms this entire affair a ‘heist’ but what you are doing in reality, is infiltrating Geomjeong-Pa. The necklace is merely the symbolic proof of Yoongi’s victory over Mother.”

 

And he’s sending over the man who’s good at staying alive, attached with an expendable asset because if this fails, Taehyung will escape and I’ll probably be killed. The thought didn’t affect him at all. Being underestimated was something Jimin was accustomed to.

 

“Why does he want to destroy Mother so badly?” he murmured, flipping over the disk in his hands.

 

Han coughed into a handkerchief, the sound a wheezed rattle from the bottom of his lungs. “That is a question only Master Min can answer. But if he’s sending Kim, it means he’s banking on some sort of success. Frankly, I’m shocked he’s sending a new recruit. I haven’t been able to dig up a single thing from your background, Park Jimin. You are a mystery.”

 

“I’m a runaway,” Jimin replied, as if that should answer the question.

 

Han’s quiet scoff let him know the answer was unsatisfactory, but acceptable for the time being.

 

 

 

 

 

Bringing down an empire.

 

Once Jimin opened the folder in the safety of his apartment, he no longer viewed those words as symptoms of Han’s old age. The folder itself had a concise history of Geomjeong-Pa, beginning from the time of the Japanese occupation to the day Mother’s predecessor, her father, died. Jimin assumed the years after that event were on the encrypted USB disk Han had slipped to him before he left. The recent years were far too sensitive a topic to be printed into an old-school folder. Somehow, he knew this had been Han’s idea and not Yoongi’s. He flicked through the tome – 400 pages – and groaned, wondering where the fuck he was going to find the password hidden inside. A clever way to get him to read everything, no doubt.

 

It began with Inagawa-Kai, the third largest Yakuza gang and Geomjeong-Pa’s natural precursor. Jimin stared at the gang’s daimon, two intertwined stalks of wheat with the logo hovering between them. To the untrained, foreign eye, it looked like the emblem of some honest business specialising in fair trade with farmers or something equally stupid. With 15000 members and counting, Inagawa-Kai had long since left farms in the dust.

 

With his mind starting to wander – he knew half of this stuff and he wasn’t in the mood to go over the finer details – as if on cue, the video call notif rang on his laptop. Jungkook. Jimin slammed the folder shut and ripped off the grainy photograph of Mother he had pinned to the wall before hitting receive.

 

Jungkook was still in bed, shirtless and wearing only boxer shorts that displayed every last detail of what he was hiding underneath. Jimin knew the decision to appear before him like this was calculated. He had never seen a more innocent face with such cunning lurking under the surface.

 

“Hello, stranger,” Jungkook propped his head up on his elbow and blinked owlishly through the screen.

 

“Just woke up? It’s already noon,” Jimin said, wrapping the scarf around his bruised neck a little tighter.

 

Jungkook yawned, scratching his balls as he sat up. At the sound of Jimin’s laugh, he did it again, making a silly face as he did.

 

“You sounded angry in your voice messages. I figured it wasn’t for real. You’re a lot calmer now,” Jimin noted.

 

“I was angry. But I was also drunk, so there’s that distinction. I really wanted you to call me, I was so fucking lonely and hearing your pretty voice telling me to leave a message and then that shitty dial tone – it was too much. I guess I flipped.”

 

Jimin scratched his head, feeling the rigid scalp underneath and the tough roots of his hair. He never knew what to say to this boy. He never intended on meeting someone like him when he set out to discover who Mother was. He never meant to discover that the man who called himself Mother had a surrogate son with severe mommy/daddy issues and a worrying talent for manufacturing drugs that weren’t on the market yet. Jungkook clung to Mother, but she obviously kept him close for less sentimental reasons.

 

Jimin watched him lean over the screen and retrieve something from a shelf. Behind him, a plushie sat on the bed. A puppy dog. Jimin had given it to him last Valentine’s Day as an afterthought. In retrospect, it was a silly thing to do, but Jungkook had kept it. He was smiling when the boy reappeared on the screen.

 

“What?” Jungkook’s face brightened as soon as he saw Jimin’s expression.

 

“You kept Chimmy. Wouldn’t have thought a nineteen year old drug connoisseur kept plushie gifts on the bed with him.”

 

“Drug wizard – “

 

“What?”

 

“I call myself the Drug Wizard now. DumbleHigh. Ganjalf. Name other famous wizards and I’ll have a moniker.”

 

Jimin spluttered and bent over the table, wheezing with laughter. Jungkook’s giggles rang in his ears from both speakers. Once he had recollected himself, he sat back with a deep sigh, cheeks still pink and lips turned up into the first genuine smile in weeks.

 

“When are you coming back to Seoul, Jimin-ah?” Jungkook said softly.

 

Jimin’s smile faded. Sooner than you think. “I might stay here actually, you know, for a little while longer. I want to visit the places my parents used to go to. I was born here after all, it’s part of my heritage.”

 

The lies slipped off his tongue, softer and sweeter than strawberries and cream. Jimin always knew how to pitch his voice just right when he wanted something. The memory of how he had pleaded with Taehyung last night rose unbidden and he swallowed to relieve the sudden burning in his throat. He was using the same tone of voice he had done then. When he saw Jungkook show doubt, he hated himself for it. As much as he loved his mother, he had promised himself he would never be as manipulative as she was. The only person she could never fool was his father, who usually responded to her attempts with violence when he was drunk. Taehyung hadn’t. No, he did exactly what Jimin wanted as soon as he heard that voice in his ear.

 

Maybe Jungkook’s not the only one with Mommy issues.

 

“I miss you so much though,” Jungkook pouted.

 

“I know, and I miss you too. But absence makes the heart grow fonder and hey, before you know it, I’ll be back in Seoul.” Jimin reached down to tie his laces up as he spoke and when he straightened, he saw Jungkook sitting back against his pillows with a vicious pout. He looked so beautiful doing it, Jimin had to consciously remind himself why he could never give in to the boy’s ceaseless courtship.

 

Jungkook, despite his puerile behaviour and tantrums, was a dangerous individual. More so because he didn’t seem to be. But he was Mother’s charge. Of course, he was dangerous. She kept him distracted with a multimillionaire lab where he oversaw an entire team of “drug technicians” but Jungkook had often expressed his desire to be out in the nitty gritty world of gang warfare. His desire for violence went beyond avid marathons of Tarantino movies. Jungkook wanted to shoot snuff films with the captured enemies of Geomjeong-Pa and turn them over for a profit on the dark web. He had outlined his business plan in detail to Jimin, who did not have the energy to give his opinion on the whole thing.

 

So, no. Dating Jungkook would be like dating Taehyung. Unfathomable. Catastrophic. Just plain fucking weird.

 

“Don’t pout. You’re almost twenty. Also, I wanted to ask this for a while – when we had our little…”sessions”…did you ever – I mean, did we - ?” Jimin trailed off.

 

Jungkook chewed on his lower lip, his eyebrows creasing up, and for a moment, Jimin’s heart sank.

 

“No. No, I doubt it very much,” Jungkook said at last, “I can’t get an erection when I smoke weed. I thought you knew that?”

 

Weirdly enough, Jimin had never thought to ask.

 

“I assumed we had. I always woke up the next morning feeling sore all over. And naked,” he muttered.

 

“Yeah, well, I don’t know what you do when you’re high, you freak, but I just sort of lie there and giggle,” Jungkook chuckled. “We do make out, I know that much. You have sharp teeth.” He indicated his neck to mark out the places Jimin had left love bites in the past.

 

Which meant Jimin had actually been a virgin up until last night. Now that he knew for sure, he didn’t know how to feel. He hated himself for being insecure enough not to straight up ask Jungkook the question earlier. Now he had to bear the knowledge that his first time, his first threesome and his first blue pill were not mutually exclusive events.

 

“But you should also come back to Seoul because you work for Mother, remember?” Jungkook said.

 

“Being on your pay roll for a couple weeks to pay the rent doesn’t equate to working for Mother. She’s never even seen me. She literally told her goons to beat up any guys who come out of your apartment and I happened to be the lucky one that night.” Jimin didn’t mean to make it sound so angry, but the memory of that battering was still fresh in his ribcage ( that had taken ages to heal) and the scar Yoongi had caressed with his tongue so tenderly.

 

“If I tell her I’m serious about dating you, maybe she’ll change her mind? And then you can get acquainted for realsies?” Jungkook put on his best cute voice but Jimin’s face remained a stone mask.

 

“Why do you even call her Mother?” he asked. “And why do you treat her like she actually is? I know the man under the persona isn’t old enough to be your real parent and yet he treats you like some prodigal only child.”

 

“I call her Mother to differentiate between her and Mommy, who gave birth to me.” He rolled his eyes as if it should have been obvious. “And since Mommy is dead, Mother takes care of me now. I told you the story. I would have been a sex slave in some rich man’s bed if it wasn’t for Mother. You should know better than to question her intentions.”

 

“I don’t question, as much as I’m sceptical,” Jimin replied.

 

“And what’s that supposed to mean?”

 

“Nothing.”

 

“Then this conversation is over. Stay in Busan if you want. But once I find someone new, don’t come crawling back to me. You won’t be welcome.” The last he saw of Jungkook was his exposed collarbone as he leaned over to shut the lid of the computer.

 

Jimin scoffed, staring at his own reflection in the blackened screen, upper lip curled in disbelief. The nerve of the brat. Sometimes he wondered how Jungkook functioned living in a blinkered world where he only understood his own needs and had no empathy for anyone else.

 

Whatever.

 

Jimin propped open the folder once more and it fell open on the tenth to last page. Under it was a list of the Geomjeong-Pa ranks ordained by its previous boss. They were littered down the page in a neat line. The longer Jimin stared at them, the more his vision blurred. The coloured section divider caught his eye. They all had something relevant to each section scribbled on them in English except this was a non-English word. He hadn’t even noticed. He was fluent in the damn language and he hadn’t even realised one of the ten coloured slips of paper had Lozinka written on it.

 

“Motherfucker,” he cursed.

 

The key to the encryption was literally the word for password in Serbian.

 

Jimin erupted into a fit of cursing as the disk unlocked and he opened the one video file it had stored on it. The rest were photos and documents. Yoongi’s face appeared on screen, hair brushed to the side as he sat cross legged in a wide armchair. Behind him, the windows of his yacht were open, curtains fluttering upwards with every inward gust of air. He had on the same clothes he was wearing at breakfast and behind him, was Taehyung’s unmistakable shadow passing over the wall. This morning. He had gone to all this trouble when he could have just spoken to Jimin over breakfast.

 

“How long did that take you?” Yoongi sneered, as if it were a live conversation. “Forgive my little joke, it’s idiotic, I know. I was inspired by Taehyung telling me how frightened you were of our friend Viktor yesterday. Big old Serbian fucker, remember? If you haven’t figured it out yet…well, expect Taehyung to really rub it in your face if he has to explain. And of course, then this video would also be pointless.”

 

Behind him, Taehyung’s voice could be heard saying, “If I have to explain it to him, it’s gonna be with my cock jammed down his throat.”

 

Yoongi pursed his lips, rolled his eyes and continued as if he hadn’t heard. “I don’t have much to say except – should you become a turncoat in Seoul and switch sides, Taehyung will take you out. That’s the only thing of importance really. You’ll find a prescription for recording lenses on the disk. Print it out and take it to the 623-8 Eumgong-dong. Ask for Hyeri and she’ll get you fitted out with a pair, and a spare just in case. They’re smart lenses, designed to record videos and take photos at the blink of an eye which are then stored in a remote server. Trust me when I say half of Mother’s high-ranking mobsters wear something similar to them, whether it be in the form of contacts or framed glasses. As they’re recording you, you’re returning the favour so make sure you’re on your best behaviour. I don’t say shit like good luck. There’s no such thing. Come back in one piece and with your objective fulfilled and the rewards will be swift and heavy.”

 

“Do I take them off when I go to the toilet or…?” Jimin sang to himself, before slumping in his chair and sulkily watching the rest of the video. There wasn’t much. Apparently, Jimin was just there to be an extra set of eyes – literally. Taehyung probably had a completely different angle on the whole thing and he most definitely wouldn’t share it with Jimin.

 

The video blacked out and he turned his attention to the files dotting the folder marked MOTHER. He clicked on the first one and there it was – a profile of the most elusive member of the criminal underground in Seoul. Jimin’s jaw dropped. Whatever Yoongi had been planning, he had been doing so for a long time. Not even Jungkook knew the name of the man behind the persona. And yet there it was, written in black and white.

 

Kim Seokjin.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung had always been struck by how unwelcoming police stations looked.

 

Sure, the threat of spending a night in a cell should be foreboding, but what of victims who wanted to make a complaint? If Taehyung was a victim – a big, fat hypothetical if  - he wouldn’t want to walk into that grey concrete box or want to talk to anyone inside it. Besides, the real cops were never inside these buildings. The donut munchers sat behind desks. The ones worthy of his attention were out on the streets.

 

He had with him a happy meal from the nearest McDonald’s, thumb twisting the head of the Buzz Lightyear toy that accompanied it. His mouth was crammed with fries and half an uneaten burger was now getting cold in the cardboard box. It was disgusting. He hated fast food. Buying it at the drive-thru had been on a whim. Taehyung often did things he didn’t want to, just because. Perhaps it was because knowing no one could ever force him to do anything was kind of boring. The days when his grandmother had forced him to eat his greens were long over.

 

Taehyung dropped the toy Buzz on the ground and crushed it under his heel. He dropped the takeaway box in the bin and dusted down his suit for crumbs, fixing the rolex tighter on his wrist. Yoongi had given it to him out of the blue that morning, taking it off and tying it around his tanned wrist with a secretive smile. Taehyung had long since stopped questioning the man’s random behaviour when they were alone.

 

The automatic doors of the police station pulled back and Taehyung stepped through, patent leather shoes clacking on the floor. The expensive suit and the watch helped to exude authority. The finishing touch was the way he buttoned a loose button at the waist of his jacket, a movement he had seen Yoongi do many times. The receptionist behind the desk looked up and couldn’t look away. She was young, possibly late twenties, with jet black hair coiled into a bun behind her head. Her rose-tinted lips formed a perfect circle as she watched him approach.

 

“Woo Hyun Sang?” he said, leaning an elbow on the desk. He made sure to give her a slow once over with his eyes, knowing exactly what was happening between her legs. When her eyes met his, he smirked.

 

Like clockwork, the blush infused over her prominent cheekbones and she visibly took a deep breath before answering. “He’s in Room 505, sir. May I take a name?”

 

“No, you may not. I’ll find my way there. By the way, you have lovely hair. Don’t hide it behind your head.” He blew her a kiss and walked around the desk, trailing his fingers along the wooden surface. The receptionist completely forgot there was an alarm under her desk to press in situations like this. She just watched him leave, her ears getting redder by the minute.

 

Taehyung’s smile disappeared as he stepped into the elevator. He studied himself in the mirror with a scowl. He didn’t recognise the elegantly dressed, polished man in the reflection. He preferred dusty leather and combats. But where he was going, there would only be more suits to don. He fixed his shirt collar where the top of a violent love bite was showing up. He touched it gingerly, wondering whose teeth had made it, Yoongi or Jimin’s. He decided it was the latter – the shape was unfamiliar.

 

When had it happened? When Yoongi had been in his lap with Jimin behind him? Or when he had Jimin flat on his back with his legs up beside his ears, unable to move, barely able to scream as he fucked him into the mattress? The boy could bring the ceiling down with that voice. Jimin was taller than Yoongi but still small enough to be easily thrown about by Taehyung as if he were a rag doll. He winced as his cock twitched at the memory of Jimin’s vicious little teeth clawing against it. He knew the little shit had done it on purpose. For all his useful qualities, he was a vengeful fucker. Although perhaps that was useful too.

 

The elevator doors dinged and Taehyung spun around to come face-to-face with Woo Hyun Sang. He snapped his fingers.

 

“Oh my god, exactly the person I was looking for!” he exclaimed, affecting an air of mock surprise.

 

Hyun Sang turned white as a sheet, glancing up and down the corridor. He got inside the elevator and jabbed the button to close the doors, turning on Taehyung. “I thought you were coming tomorrow!”

 

“Plans change. Is he in his cell?”

 

“Yes, he is, but  - “

 

“Then what the fuck is the problem?”

 

“My superior is in the adjoining office!”

 

Taehyung casually placed his hand on his hip, lifting the jacket as he did to show the holstered gun in his belt. “Really. Well, I suggest you cook up a fucking excuse and get him out of there Hyun Sang or I’ll shoot him too. And don’t look at me like that, you know I’ll do it.”

 

“Yes, you crazy fucker, I know,” Hyun Sang spat under his breath, but he opened the doors and disappeared. Taehyung stepped out onto the corridor and watched him waddle across the squeaky clean floors, disappearing through a door on the right.

 

He followed at a leisurely pace, walking into an empty interrogation room on the left. The door swung close as soon as Hyun Sang’s voice was heard, mingled with the deeper timbre of his superior. They were muttering urgently together as their footsteps faded down the opposite end of the hallway. Taehyung pulled the silencer from his pocket and fitted it onto the barrel of the gun, before exiting the room.

 

The office was poorly air conditioned and it was sweltering when he walked in. Taehyung slid a finger under his collar and grimaced. He hated being overheated. He kicked the faulty fan by one of the desks and barely kept it from falling over. When he looked up, he saw his action had attracted the attention of the only other person in the room. The man was locked away in a five by four cell, with a single bench and a small bed in the corner.

 

“Cha Dong Hyuk,” Taehyung nodded.

 

“Kim.” The man answered with more cool in his voice than should be expected from someone staring death in the face.

 

“What did you have to eat?”

 

“Why do you ask?”

 

“Just hoping a former comrade had a good last meal.”

 

“These pigs wouldn’t know good food if it slapped them in the face. I got a bowl of seawood soup.”

 

“If I’d known I would have brought in what was left of the McDonald’s crap I had.”

 

Cha snorted, the sound turning into full blown laughter. Taehyung tilted his head and grinned, heart-shaped lips pulling back from perfect teeth. He ruffled his hair and sat back against one of the desks, arms crossed before him. Cha was quiet now, watching him intensely, anticipating his next move. It was all he could do – anticipate. He had nowhere to run to behind the bars.

 

“I liked you. Never thought I’d be the executioner taking you out,” Taehyung said.

 

“Yeah, well, I made my choice and it’s time to man up and face the consequences,” Cha grunted.  He slipped his arms through the bars, resting them on the horizontal strips of metal fitted over the vertical. His eyes were circled with dark shadows and stubble marked his weak chin, greasy hair hanging flat against his forehead. Cha had been handsome once. Taehyung still remembered seeing him for the first time, a tall, proud man in an Armani suit standing at Yoongi’s right hand.

 

“Embezzling from your own gang’s trafficking rings. Committing a crime against the criminals themselves. Takes some balls to do that. Too bad the pay-off wasn’t as successful as you probably thought it would be.”

 

Cha spat out the gum he had lodged between his tongue and upper lip and leered. “Let’s be honest here – if I could steal money from him as long as I did, it doesn’t bode well for his future as this gang’s leader.”

 

Taehyung frowned. “Yeah? And what about the fact that he united all the petty gangs of the city into one cohesive unit. Is that what the grudge is about? He annexed your gang into Yong Geondal? How long would you have survived without him?”

 

“About as long as you’ve been sucking his dick.”

 

Taehyung laughed. “Really?”

 

Cha nodded. “Really. In my day, we didn’t rise up in the ranks via pillow talk. We got up there through grit and determination. Pretty boys like you went straight to the prostitution rings.”

 

Taehyung bit down on his lip, unsuccessful in keeping a smile off his face. “Yeah, well, it’s always the ugly motherfuckers chatting shit. Weird, because you were a looker yourself back in the day I’ve heard. Now though…” he trailed off and made a face.

 

Cha shook his head, resting one knee against the bars. “Why are we even talking? Just get it over with.”

 

“You remember Jung Hoseok, don’t you?”

 

Despite the faulty AC, the temperature in the room dropped. A muscle popped in Cha’s temple and sweat glistened on his face as he shifted under the fluorescent light. They stared at one another, neither of them backing down. Cha broke the stare first.

 

“Sure, I remember him,” he said. “Filthy little snitch. I heard he died screaming for his mommy. I wouldn’t wish a better death on an undercover pig.”

 

He was baiting Taehyung into killing him quickly. It was clear to see in the mad glint of his eye. He was yearning for death but the son of a bitch sitting on the desk still hadn’t gone for his gun. Cha decided to prod the beast further and twisted the knife in the wound.

 

“Do you know what the funniest thing was?” Cha said, “He said he changed allegiance, that he’d gone rogue and the cops were now after him too. When they cornered him, he told them to call you and ask. And they actually fucking did, because – and for the life of me I still don’t get why – you’ve put the fear of God into hard bastards twice your age. But you never picked up. Where were you, Kim? Which crack den were you hiding in? Bet you had your dick in some whore with another one up your ass. He called for you before he called for his mother. They told me. I remember thinking…wow, Kim is one co-ooold motherfucker. Undercover cop or not, wasn’t he your friend?”

 

Cha licked his lips as he saw the cold metal glint of the gun appear from under Taehyung’s jacket. He knocked his head against the bars, hammering on them with his fists. “Come on! Do it! Kill me, you spineless shit!” he growled, beating himself into a frenzy.

 

Taehyung remained quiet. He hadn’t moved a muscle through Cha’s speech. He cradled the silencer in the palm of his hand, long eyelashes casting shadows across his smooth cheekbones.

 

“You should have had a good final meal, Cha,” he said.

 

“Shut up and shoot!”

 

Taehyung smiled. “I found out who they were.”

 

“What?” Cha stopped, breathing hard.

 

“I found out who was there that night.” Taehyung flicked his nail against the trigger, slowly wrapping his fingers around the weapon. “How’s your brother Jiwoo doing these days? Heard he got married and had a son. Apparently he was there the night Hoseok was murdered. How old’s his little boy? Six, was it? Yeah…passed the house on the way here. 192-4 Jangram Il-Dong, Saha-gu. I saw the kid playing on his tricycle outside. Very pretty little boy.”

 

All the colour left Cha’s face before it turned a sickly shade of green. His eyes glistened as he laughed shakily.

 

“You fucker,” he said and abruptly turned to throw up. Bile pooled on the ground, disgustingly yellow in the blueish light.

 

“See, if you’d had a better meal, I would have had the pleasure of seeing you throw up harder,” Taehyung clicked his tongue with disappointment. “One of the businesses you were embezzling from…wasn’t it a sex trafficking ring? I hear the dirty fuckers in the mayor’s office like them young. I imagine your nephew could very easily fall into the wrong hands. Unless, of course, you want me to kill him too?”

 

Cha was bent over, shaking from head to toe, and incoherent. He thought he had the perfect wound to pour salt into and receive a quick death. Underestimation was a bitch. Taehyung went closer to the cell, crouching down so they were level, and scratched the barrel of the gun against the side of his hair.

 

“Choose, Cha. Should I sell your nephew, or murder him? You get to decide his fate. One of the two things will happen anyway, but I’ll give you one last shot at redemption because, well, you weren’t actually present when Hoseok was murdered.”

 

The man mumbled something, and Taehyung struck the bars. “Louder!”

 

“Kill him too,” Cha gasped.

 

“Okay,” Taehyung said sweetly, before sticking the gun against his jaw and pulling the trigger.

 

Cha slumped down, the blood from his shattered jaw forming scarlet streaks in the puddle of vomit. Taehyung pocketed the gun and turned on his heel without a backwards glance. As he passed Hyun Sang’s desk, he dropped a fat envelope of cash into the unlocked drawer at the top. The receptionist was nowhere to be found when he re-entered the lobby. The heat slapped him in the face with renewed intensity the moment he stepped out.

 

Taehyung decided on the humbler option of public transport that day. Pulling up in a residential neighbourhood in a Mercedes or a Bentley was far too much attention than he was comfortable with. And he was way too trigger happy. He’d shot people for looking at him funny in the past and he just didn’t want to risk upsetting that part of his brain again. Yoongi had taught him the benefits of avoiding collateral damage.

 

But still, sitting on the bus dressed like he was, became awkward real fast. The other passengers seemed to sense he wasn’t one of them. Not normal.  Nobody made eye contact. At the fifteenth stop, Taehyung got up, brushing past a frightened old lady as he did. The bag in her hand dropped to the ground, the apples inside rolling across the floor and under the seats. He retrieved all six and handed the bag back to her with a kind smile and a, “Be careful now, Halmeoni. Don’t want to ruin such good apples.” She might have had enough wits about her to say thank you if only she hadn’t seen the gun in his belt when he bent over.

Cha’s nephew was no longer playing in the front yard of his house and the sun was lower in the sky than it had been when he’d been here three hours ago. His tricycle lay abandoned on the grass and a water hose snaked around it, leaking at the ends. He could hear sprinklers in the back garden and jazz music from the upstairs window. Taehyung looked up and down the street, waving to a man and his dog as they passed by, before checking the chamber of his gun for bullets.

 

He rapped on the door and whistled to himself as he admired the paintwork on the fence. It looked fresh and the apple tree skirting the west edge of the yard was in full bloom. Pretty as a picture.

 

“Coming!” a female’s voice was heard in the hallway and harried footsteps came to a skidding halt.

 

Jiwoo’s wife was gorgeous. Taehyung actually stopped to stare for a moment when she opened the door dressed only in her bath gown, with a towel wrapping her mint coloured hair up. She looked him up and down, and her mouth fell open. She recognised him. Strange, he didn’t recognise her and he knew he wouldn’t haven’t forgotten such a face.


“Scream and you’re dead,” Taehyung said.

 

“Ji – “ her body twisted back into the hallway as she shrieked one half of her husband’s name.

 

A muffled pop of the gun and she collapsed, her white hair towel infused with red.

 

“Told you,” Taehyung muttered, stepping over her and shutting the door.

 

It was a clean house, but with the usual clutter created by a young child. He had to step over several toys on his way to the kitchen. He spied out the figure in the back garden through the kitchen window as soon as he stepped into the room. Cha Jiwoo was apparently weeding his tulip bed. Taehyung decided to let him finish and walked over to the fridge. Magnets held in place reminders of doctor’s appointments and the number for plumbers. Right in the centre, in pride of place, was the little boy’s artwork and a family photograph taken at Namsan Tower. Taehyung smiled fondly as he plucked it off the fridge and held it up to the light.

 

“Domestic bliss. Cute,” he murmured to himself, carefully reattaching it.

 

“Baby, do you remember where I put the – “ Jiwoo stopped mid-sentence, the bags of garden waste in his hands dropping to the floor with a heavy thunk.

 

He was an ex skull-crusher, just like Taehyung. He didn’t pause to ask why or what or how. He saw an uninvited guest, and fellow gang member or not, he leapt into action. Taehyung had only just lifted his arm with the gun at the end of it when Jiwoo flung the shears in his hand, his throw frighteningly accurate. It struck Taehyung’s wrist and he dropped the gun with a strangled curse.

 

Jiwoo kicked the table, upending it. It crashed into Taehyung who only just managed to deflect it before he dove for the kitchen counter. Jiwoo saw the block of knives at the same time as he did, but lunged in a different direction. Straight for the gun that had landed two feet away from him. Taehyung yanked out the largest knife in the block just as Jiwoo fired the first shot. The silencer was still attached and the only proof the trigger had been pulled was when the knife block exploded. By some miracle, the knives missed the back of Taehyung’s head as they clattered to the ground.

 

“You fucker – “ Jiwoo snarled as he fired again and again.

 

Glasses shattered, the hinge of a cupboard split from the wood with a bang, magnets fell off the fridge until finally the trigger was clicking uselessly.

 

“Guns run out of bullets, you dumb fuck,” Taehyung hissed.

 

He launched himself across the room before Jiwoo could find a new weapon. The knife split his ribcage with a sickening crack as Taehyung’s whole body weight pressed down on it. Jiwoo made an inhuman gurgling sound, dropping back against the wall. Taehyung pulled out the knife and stabbed it back in. Around the tenth stab, he began to count. He went crazy, his pupils two pinpricks of black as he rammed the knife in – out – in - out. Hoseok’s face flashed before his eyes as blood spattered over his face, his hair, his clothes, his shoes, the floor –

 

“Sixty-four,” he panted.

 

Jiwoo’s gut was in tatters, the stink of his spilled intestines almost unbearable in the humidity of the late afternoon. Taehyung stared at his handiwork, feeling light headed as he let the knife drop from his rigid fingers. The clock had fallen from the wall but it was still ticking. It was almost three ‘o’ clock.

 

“Fuck, I need a cigarette,” he said to no one in particular.

 

Taehyung hauled himself to his feet, sinking against the kitchen counter as he pulled the last cig from the squished box in his pocket. The lighter had skittered under the fridge the moment the fight had started so he made do with turning on the gas stove and lighting the tip of the stick up. He put the filter to his mouth and breathed in. Immediately, his lungs eased up and he managed to take in a few deep breaths of air before inhaling the nicotine once more. He glanced sideways at the dead man and grimaced. He went to retrieve a coat from the hallway and flung it over Jiwoo, hiding much of his body with it.

 

When he turned, a little boy was standing in the doorway, with large eyes and blood-covered hands. He had obviously found his mother. He didn’t look scared, just very surprised. Of course, he was only six. Or was it five? He probably didn’t know what death was, or what it smelt like. Taehyung squinted at him in silence, not speaking until he had smoked what was left of his cigarette.

 

“Don’t look at me like that. They both had it coming,” he said. “Him for killing my friend. Her for marrying an asshole who used to kill people for a living.”

 

The little boy blinked numbly. Taehyung sighed and retrieved his gun from where it lay between Jiwoo’s legs. He dug into his breast pocket and found a business card. He’d had them made for when he had overseen one of Yong Geondal’s many racketeering exploits. Yoongi had dumped him with money laundering and Taehyung hadn’t been very good at it so he was back to beating people up within a week. But he’d kept the cards. They made him feel distinguished.

 

He handed one to the little boy and ruffled his hair. “Come find me when you’re older. Finish what your Daddy started.”

 

He took a trench coat from the hallway rack and slipped it on. In the front yard, he opened the garden tap and quickly wiped his face and hands clean before pulling an address book from his pocket. Using the pen stuck in its binding rings, he crossed out a name on the list written on the third page with red ink. The coat was fucking huge and it was awful. Taehyung could feel the sweat mingling with the blood soaking through his shirt. Not to mention the stares he got as he walked back down the street. A gentle breeze managed to lift the right flap of the coat, revealing the bottom of his bloodied shirt as a gaggle of kids cycled slowly by with wide eyes.

 

“Paintballing accident,” Taehyung told them casually, before pulling out his phone and dialling a cab.

 

That was enough public transport for one day.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

“I don’t like these. I’m taking them off.”

 

“They’re just glasses, dickhead.”

 

Hearing routine slurs rolling of Taehyung’s tongue was as normal as hearing the birds chirp outside. Jimin paid it no mind. With a grateful sigh, he reached up and flipped down the compact mirror on the sunshield. Taehyung got sunglasses as part of his spywear, and he got thick fucking glasses that made him look like Arthur. They were uncomfortable to wear because the lenses were actually designed to improve bad eyesight, a way to cement the disguise further. His eyesight was near perfect though which made it a struggle not to look cross-eyed everytime he put them on. But he supposed it was a handy way to immediately and swiftly record information without having body cameras hidden all over.  Jimin yelped as he almost stabbed himself in the eye when the car raced over a speed bump.

 

“Why the fuck are you so loud?” Taehyung scowled, hitting the horn as a car overtook them on the wrong lane.

 

“You don’t seem to mind when –“ Jimin broke off as he realised he was speaking out loud.

 

“When what?” Taehyung demanded.

 

“Nothing. How long till we get there?”

 

Seoul was unfamiliar territory, and Jimin had only ever visited Gangnam-gu. Yongsan-gu was completely alien to him. They were in the Itaewon district, the beating heart of Mother’s Seoul empire. Foreigners looking to have a good time were the main consumers of the drug and sex trades in Itaewon and the maximum turnover was a reported 1.5 billion won each month, a staggering number for a mere four weeks. Geomjeong-pa thugs walked the streets freely, their tattooed skins blending in with the tattooed youngsters who frequented Itaewon for their nightly entertainment. Within minutes of crossing a few traffic light intersections, Jimin noted the difference between Geomjeong-Pa and Yong geondal in Busan. Despite Yoongi’s alleged “boner for suits” most Yong geondal thugs did not understand the need or desire to look classy whilst committing criminal acts. They couldn’t give less of a shit.

 

Mother’s men were sleek and streamlined, like sharks swimming through shoals of innocent fish. A flash of a polished gun here, a pair of branded sunglasses there, expensive watches, thickly packed tattoos, swept back hair, gold chains. Most were older with bellies that showed it. And quite a few were starting to bald. Their fitted suits couldn’t hide that. What a waste, Jimin thought to himself. He remembered the way Taehyung had been roughly tugging on a pair of trousers and clumsily doing his belt. How his long fingers had struggled with the loop of the tie until it he managed to fasten it but it still looked wonky. And the scuffs on his sleeve jacket that he didn’t even care to notice. He would have looked so much better in a 2 million won suit, just like the ones Jimin's father had a taste for.

 

As if on cue, the car screeched to a halt and Jimin almost went flying into the dashboard.

 

“Wear your fucking seatbelt,” Taehyung said, before climbing out and slamming the door hard enough to shake the car.

 

Jimin did not have a clue why he was in such a bad mood. Perhaps it was simply due to being in his vicinity. He got the feeling Taehyung’s dislike of him had increased after the night with Yoongi and he was probably regretting ever putting forward Jimin as a volunteer to come to Seoul. Then again, since this was a suicidal fucking mission, it didn’t matter. Was he really that jealous? Jimin knew Taehyung was cosy up there in the high ranks of Yong geondal but the rigid envy he displayed around Yoongi was something else. Proof of something more.

 

Taehyung took the steps two at a time up to the lobby of the apartment block whilst Jimin’s shorter legs struggled to keep up. The wheezing in his lungs was proof he was failing to take care of himself physically. He had never been the strongest, but this was ridiculous.

 

“Ahn Il Sung?” Taehyung’s deep voice echoed through the lobby as a gentleman in a navy blue suit stood up from his seat.


“You must be Kim,” Ahn said, his tone curt, rather than the condescending bravado Jimin had expected. “And that’s Park, is it?”

 

His eyes turned on Jimin and now, the condescension was there. Jimin knew what the man was looking at – a skinny boy with soft edges to his mouth and even softer hands that had no callouses from wielding weapons. He remained quiet, allowing Taehyung to do the talking. He did not trust his own tongue at the best of times. Passive-aggressive sarcasm didn’t go down too well with mobsters.

 

“Come on. The apartment’s on the third floor.”

 

 It would be their new home for the next however many months. New identities had been created for both. They were now cousin brothers, nephews of Ahn Il Sung. One was a high-school dropout iljin. The other an honours student who had been kicked out from Seoul University after being indicted on a drugs charge and had decided to join the “family business” with his uncle. No guesses on who took which role.

 

They even had phony arrest records made for both. Everything from drivers’ licences to bank accounts right down to a library card (for Jimin) was created to cement their identities into place. Han had stressed the importance of straightening out his speech and ridding himself of the bastardised mix of Daegu and Busan dialects he had adopted. Taehyung could mimic a perfect Seoul accent, accept for when he was angry. And the latter happened so often, Jimin wondered if an accent was enough to blow a cover.

 

“I feel like a cop,” Jimin noted, chuckling as he flipped over his library card. All the papers were laid out on the grimy coffee table in Apartment 404. Ahn had thrown the documents onto it carelessly and was now in the process of popping open beer cans. Jimin tried not to wince at the first taste of the disgusting drink and put the can aside quickly, going back to studying his new birth certificate. “This all feels like an undercover police op.”

 

“It’s more dangerous,” Ahn said. “If you two die, you take me down with you. We won’t get a funeral with honours and our loved ones cared for on our pensions. We’re going to be thrown in a landfill, rolled over like carpets with a hot poker up the ass. Mother’s goons have a penchant for humiliating deaths and trust me when I say that shit isn’t a joke.”

 

“You look like you’ve watched someone have a poker shoved up their ass before,” Taehyung snorted.

 

“I’ve been the one to do it,” Ahn said grimly. “You fire it up until its glowing red. In that time, most men shit themselves. The poker goes in, burning everything on its way and ends up halfway through the intestines. Some unlucky bastards don’t die straight away.”

 

There was an abrupt lack of air in the room. Or was it just in his head? Jimin tried to hide the fact that he was drawing deep breaths in a struggle to stay vertical.

 

“Do you want a poker up your ass?” Ahn continued.

 

“Is that a rhetorical fucking question?” Taehyung shot back.

 

Jimin saw Ahn’s jaw clench and spoke up to dispel the thickening cloud of tension. “How long have you been working for Master Min? And how have you gotten away with it?”

 

“I work in low-risk ventures and produce high turnover rates. I don’t play the big game – no drug trade, no sex rings – just protection money. The local businesses pay a fee each month for protection from Geomjeong-pa. I encourage them to keep on top of their monthly debt.”


“And is that we’re going to be doing? As your nephews?”

 

“No, unless you want to waste a few months going by unnoticed. I’m just your point of contact. If you’re going to get anywhere in this gang – anywhere near Mother – then you need to aim for the high-stake games.”

 

“Why exactly did Master Min tell you we were here, Ahn?” Jimin said slowly.

 

There was something off about this entire thing. When Ahn merely gave him a cold glance, he knew Yoongi had fed different instructions to him. How many operatives did he have in Seoul that Jimin _ or even Taehyung – wasn’t aware of? Did Ahn have orders to kill them if the mission was jeopardized? Was Taehyung really that important to Master Min or was this all a sick chess game in which there were no winners except for the king? Either way, if Jimin fucked up, he would die. That much he was sure of. The uncertainty made his stomach lurch and the stench of the beer wasn’t helping.

 

“My associate runs an escort business for Geeomjeong-pa. One of the escorts has worked for me in the past. She’s also one of Yoongj's operatives and if I’m not around, she’s your point of reference.” He handed Jimin a thin leather folder. He opened it and stifled a gasp within seconds of focusing on the picture of her. “Her name is Ahn Hye-Jin but she prefers the name Hwasa. She’s temperamental, and despite being loyal to Yong geondal, she will switch on the flip of a coin. Don’t piss her off and she'll help you. But don’t expect much from her or me. We're not here to hold your fucking hands.”

 

“Ahn...another “relative"?” Taehyung said.

 

“She’s my wife.”

 

A short silence fell, broken only by Taehyung’s soft chuckle and then he flipped the folder away from Jimin’s tight grip to take a look at her. Jimin sat with his hands folded in his laps like a chastised school child. Looking at her had done it. She looks so much like mom. It wasn’t just the wistful memory of an orphaned child. Even objectively, Ahn Hwasa was a dead ringer for his deceased mother. The same high cheekbones, sultry eyes and red lips that his father had once been in such thrall of.

 

“If you can avoid it, don’t ask either of us for help.” Ahn stood up, straightening out his jacket. “Neither of us want this responsibility and it doesn’t matter how well Master Min will pay. It’s dangerous being an ordinary member of Mother's mafia as it is, never mind keeping tabs and embezzling money from Geomjeong-pa and turning it over to Yong geondal.”

 

“That’s what you do? You embezzle from her? “Jimin s eyes were wide, rosy lips circled in an o. “How much can Master Min be paying you to do that?”

 

“Not enough,” Ahn said grimly. “Certainly not enough to have you two foisted onto me as well. Try not to die is my only advice.”

 

“Thank you, O wise one. Now fuck off so that we can get on with giving Yoongi more than petty embezzled cash each month,” Taehyung said.

 

Ahn's hand went to his waist holster and Jimin imagined what it would be like if Taehyung was shot dead right here. Skirmishes between gangsters happened all the time after all. Except if Taehyung died, so went Jimin's last grudging line of defence. He didn’t want to swap and go over to Mother's side. His only other choice was Yoongi because splitting from both would mean the latter would have men at the ready to slaughter him in his bed. He held out a placating hand and smiled at Ahn.

 

“Thank you, Ahn, for your help. We'll try not to get in trouble,” he said sweetly.

 

Ahn eyed him with suspicion and then grunted, ignoring the proffered hand. “Teach your friend they castrate men for less around here. His scrappy tongue’s gonna be shoved down his throat before he knows what’s good for him.”

 

Jimin stood and moved to show Ahn out before Taehyung could open his mouth again. For a feared and respected skull-crusher, the man had far too loose a tongue. Jimin knew dangerous men from the moment he saw them. They were usually the quietest people in any given room. Taehyung only fit half the bill.

 

“Way to piss off one of our only real contacts in this city,” Jimin said as soon as the door was shut.

 

“Maybe for you. I’ve got plenty,” Taehyung finished rolling a cigarette, slender fingers making easy work of the thing, and then lit the end.

 

“Does Master Min know about them?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

He was being needlessly mysterious, no doubt just to grate on Jimin's nerves. The other male proceeded to stay mute and decided food was needed to soothe the knot of tension in his stomach. He asked his new roommate if he wanted anything from the grocery store and was answered with “alcohol" and nothing more. Rather than get him the liquor he no doubt wanted, Jimin took petty revenge and stuck to red and white wine and a bottle of champagne. With Taehyung's level of machismo he would no doubt term them girly drinks. Jimin had found however, that women had higher alcohol tolerance due to the ridiculous amounts of alcohol mixed into “girly drinks". Wine itself was a whopper when drinking more than one glass.

 

“What is this…toilet water? “ Taehyung said within minutes of entering the kitchen and raiding the shopping bags.

 

Jimin looked up to see him holding up the bottle of cheap red wine. “Hm, sure, if that’s the first thing you thought to compare red wine to. You must have a very heavy flow when it's your time of the month.”

 

Taehyung’s mouth dropped open and Jimin could almost see the cogs in his brain whirring trying to dissect the veiled jab. His only response was to shake his head and mutter “dickhead" before grabbing the champagne bottle.

 

“I was saving that for-" Jimin began to say, but the taller man had already unwrapped the gold foil, popped the cork and taken a hearty swig before disappearing into the living room. “Never mind.”

 

Jimin flung the rest of the frozen fish into the freezer and sighed, knocking his head against the cool metal of the refrigerator. His mental stability was fast sinking with every passing day. He did not know what would make him blow up first, close proximity to Kim Taehyung or the stress of knowing how incredibly difficult stealing Mother’s necklace would be, never mind weakening the steel rungs of her empire. Her necklace. It was strange how he had become accustomed to thinking of it like that when its original owner had been his own mother. The man called Kim Seokjin had taken it somehow and now the invaluable piece was a gaudy decoration on his already huge pile of riches. He squatted on it like Smaug on his mounds of treasure, a formidable obstacle to defeat. Jimin levelled out his breathing, reminding himself sternly whose fault it was that he was in this situation in the first place.

 

You signed up for this entire sequence of events when you agreed to be a drug mule for Kim Taehyung in the hospital three months ago. Now man up and take what’s coming your way.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jungkook was not stupid.

 

People who assumed he was, quickly found out otherwise with devastating consequences. But of course, with all visual assumptions, it happened far too often. He blamed it on his baby face and the fact that his eyes took up half his face. And though his nose looked impressive in profile, it failed to balance out his sweeter features. Hell, even Jimin managed to look manlier when he was angry and with him, that was saying something.

 

As sad as it was to think it, Jungkook suspected Jimin also believed he was foolish. Immature, impulsive and foolish. Nothing at all like Mother who truly commanded Jimin's fear and respect without having met him. Was it twisted that he wanted just a small portion of that fear and respect in Jimin's eyes when he looked at Jungkook? It probably was. Jungkook wasn’t the healthiest person when it came to emotions. He just knew when they were intense and then proceeded to struggle to stay afloat as they threatened to drown him.

 

Jimin caused emotions more intense than any Jungkook had ever felt, fiddling his mind day and night. The memory of his soft smiles and the feel of his silky, plush lips was maddening. Jungkook regretted not persuading him harder. If only he had convinced him, Jimin could have been his first. He still could be but not all the way over in Busan, a city Mother would never let Jungkook go to unattended. Jimin’s excuse for visiting his birthplace rang shady to him. He came to the conclusion that Jimin had been frightened away from Seoul by the threat of Mother's goons coming after him again. So, Jeon Jungkook decided to deal with the rage and overwhelming grief at parting from him by handling it the best way he could.

 

He started a group chat.

 

Lisa ; Mingyu; Yugyeom ; Jungkook

 

JK: Katya's Parlour, Itaewon at 7pm tonight. Bring gloves and your sharpest knives. A hatchet or two would also be preferable. We're butchering bunny rabbits.

 

JK: Leave this chat as soon as you’ve read the message.

 

 

He then dialled Choi's number, stomach churning with excitement. It had been far too long since he’d felt electricity in his core, dancing about in glee. He welcomed the feeling.

 

“Young master,” Choi's monotone voice answered.

 

“Are you with Mother?” Jungkook said nervously.

 

“Are you going to ask me to do something she would disapprove of?”

 

“Maybe.”

 

“Then she’s sitting in my lap.”

 

“Choi, she’d have your tongue if she heard you talking like that. Stop fucking about. Are you alone or not?”

 

“Yes, young master I am.”

 

“Good. Inform Jang, Lee and Woo that Katya has been pocketing the funds from the brothel and foregoing on the interest she was supposed to be paying to us.”

 

“How do you know this?”

 

“Russian contact.”

 

“You know I can’t send them. Katya’s parlour has the biggest turnover of all the brothels.  Inform Mother and let her handle it.”

 

“I want to show Mother I can do things on my own initiative.”

 

“Having those three demons rip her fingernails from her nailbeds isn’t it.”

 

“Of course not. I’ll be there too. I just want them to scare her. You know nothing phases the bitch. I’ll put the fear of god into her.”

 

Choi finally gave in, albeit unwillingly. Jungkook had known about Katya for a while but the funds she was pocketing were not for her. They were going into an offshore account in his name. No one would be scaring Katya. But she was a good cover for the three men to converge on her parlour. They never passed up the chance to torture and abuse Mother's insubordinates.

 

Choi Dong Hyuk was a man far too war-weary to spend his days chasing after Jungkook. The stories about him were as spectacular as they were frightening. Having been the bodyguard of the last boss in his final decade alive, he became a sort of unofficial executioner for Mother. Choi was famed for his intensely painful, creative tortures. He invented new ways to hurt people that weren’t recorded in history books (Jungkook’s own frame of reference). Jungkook had begged him to part with some of his wisdom but ever since Mother had assigned him as Jungkook’s would-be mentor/right-hand, Choi had calmed considerably. He knew why he was pushed into such a repressed position and he did not mind. His last torture had gone awry, simply due to the fact that for the first time, he went berserk. Mother did not like people who let the blood rush to their heads. A singular mistake was enough to land him in hot water. Choi was lucky his loyalty saved him.

 

The only thing he had truly taught Jungkook was the Blood Eagle, an invasive, terrible procedure which had been popular amongst the Northmen of Scandinavia. Jungkook had practiced on a dead man, but he was told there was nothing quite like performing the Blood Eagle on a live human and feeling the blood spray over your face. Apparently, some didn’t die until the very last moment, although Jungkook didn’t understand how. He was pretty sure if his back was cut open and his lungs pulled backwards through his ribcage to spread outwards like the wings of an eagle, he’d die simply from heart failure or shock.

 

“Messy. It’s messy,” he muttered to himself, seated comfortably in the back of the Maybach. He had discarded his usual hoodie and jeans for a waterproof tracksuit. He knew he would look highly strange to anyone who saw him step out of the back of the luxury car dressed like this. But he wasn’t thinking about that. He let Mother think about appearances, with her designer clothes and the limited-edition Rolls Royce cars she favoured above all others.

 

“What’s messy?” Choi said sharply, nudging the rear-view mirror so that it angled down and showcased Jungkook’s guilty expression.

 

“Nothing,” he answered.

 

“First rule in telling a lie – always have an answer ready. Never be monosyllabic with your response.”

 

“Yes, Choi, we all know you’re a master fucking criminal. Now shut the fuck up and just drive like I asked you to.”

 

Jungkook felt a strange, dangerous sort of thrill poking at Choi’s temper and seeing if it would flare. Sort of like kissing a hornet’s nest and wondering which black-and-yellow son of a bitch would give you a stinging kiss back. Choi never took the bait, but Jungkook thought he saw a nerve pop under his jaw. Good. The angrier Choi was, the less inclined he would be to try and keep Jungkook away from trouble and by extension, Mother’s wrath. Jungkook didn’t need babysitting right now.

 

Katya’s Parlour was a ten-minute drive from where the car currently remained stuck at a traffic light. It was run by a Russian madame, who had turned the tricks of her trade over in Moscow to Seoul after being blacklisted by the local mob. She was a tall, blonde dominatrix with very little command of Korean and very little inclination to learn. Jungkook had a reasonably good grasp of her home language to arrange the funding for his side project. Unlike Choi and every other man under her rule, Jungkook wasn’t fearful of what Mother would do to punish him when she found out. He wanted to see if she would do anything at all. She had taught him to find weakness in his opponent and latch onto it like a pit bull. Mother wasn’t his opponent but he had a morbid desire to know if he was her weakness or not.

 

The car rolled to a stop halfway down the street where the brothel was located. He stepped out of the Maybach and came one step closer to breaking one of Mother’s biggest conditions to him having his own lab. He was never to undertake a punishment on his own, without her approval. Now he had three of her best executioners under one roof, probably inebriated and already under the care of Katya’s girls.  

 

Jang, Lee and Woo were the sort of men who would partake of her services before cutting off her finges, the greedy pigs. Katya had already prepared their reception after letting Jungkook know she wanted no part of it if he was caught. He didn’t believe she was in a position to threaten him, not with the embezzlement, but he didn’t point it out. To her also, he was a silly little boy with far too much money than he had sense.

 

Lisa was perched under an abandoned bus shelter just down the road from the brothel. Her stick straight blonde hair had been dipped in acid green at the tips and her large eyes were lined with kohl. Her cargo pants were held up by an obnoxiously large belt and the orange colour clashed horribly with the bright blue of her sports jacket. But somehow, she managed to pull it off. She removed the blunt from her lips as she saw Jungkook approach and gave him a nod.

 

“I know you’re not very logical when you’re high, but standing out to this extent is just vulgar,” Jungkook snorted.

 

“I’m a Thai girl with blonde fucking hair and a knife in my belt. I’m going to stick out no matter how I dress. Why am I here and not in my bed catching up on much needed sleep?” She crushed the remains of the blunt under her boot and stood up. She was tall, almost as tall as him in the platform boots, and she used her vantage point to stare him down.

 

By her attitude, it was hard to tell she was one of his closest friends. She handled the distribution of every new strain of weed Jungkook and Yugyeom formulated between them and had recruited a hundred kids at Seoul University alone to help spread the sales. Bad investments meant Jungkook was nowhere near close to being the millionaire he could have been by the end of the year and a half he had spent in the drug trade, but as long as he kept the original three close by, he knew he would hit it big. Lisa, Mingu and Yugyeom were invaluable. And of course, they shared a common interest in all things violent, except for maybe Yugyeom.

 

Lisa’s beloved knife was diamond-edged and she had used it enough to be totally at ease having it strapped to a holster around her ankle. Her skill with it was dextrous and it fit on the end of her hand as if it were an extra limb. She flipped it out, giving Jungkook a sly little grin as she touched the blade with the pad of her thumb.

 

“Choi, could you get the bag from the boot, please?” Jungkook said to the man who was standing some way behind.

 

“He doesn’t even roll his eyes at being ordered around like a dog by a kid half his age,” Lisa muttered, watching him leave. “Have you brainwashed him or something?”

 

“I wish. He doesn’t know why I’m here,” Jungkook muttered. “I don’t know how he’ll react.”

 

“Well, too late now. No one’s ridding me of my evening entertainment,” Lisa said, turning at the sound of a motorcycle revving. A rider dressed in black and white riding gear was speeding down the road towards them.

 

Choi dumped the bag on the ground beside Jungkook who opened it with one swift pull on the zipper. The motorcycle stopped and Mingyu yanked off the helmet, just in time to see the contents of the bag.

 

“Ski masks, camera equipment and hatchets? I knew this was going to be fun!” he grinned.

 

“Master Jeon,” Choi coughed.

 

“Yes, Choi, what is it?” Jungkook said absently, testing the elasticity of one of the ski masks.

 

“Whatever you’re going to do, don’t do it.”

 

“Whatever you’re going to say next, don’t. Stay quiet. I like you better that way.” Jungkook grunted as he lifted the bag on his shoulder and turned to beam at Choi. “If you don’t want to implicate yourself, feel free to stay in the car as my unofficial chauffeur. Keep an eye out.”

 

“On the contrary, I am your body guard, so – “

 

“Then shut the fuck up and guard my body! Jeez! So much fucking chatter from a guy like you is a turn off!”

 

“Is he meant to turn you on?” Lisa muttered. She straightened out her face when Jungkook’s vicious scowl turned on her.

 

“Where’s old Yuggie boy?” Mingyu craned his neck as if they were hiding him behind them.

 

On cue, running footsteps could be heard storming down the street. The approaching blur materialised into a tall boy with brunette hair and a thoroughly red face. He wheezed, bending over, eyes a little bloodshot from the sesh he'd indulged in before arriving. The others watched him collect himself in silence. Yugyeom sensed the tension and immediately tried to quieten the noisy rattle of his lungs, fingers scrabbling for his inhaler in his front pocket.

 

“Sorry. Got distracted,” he said.

 

“By the new product, I assume,” Lisa said, sniffing him with a crumpled expression of distaste. “The after scent is disgusting.”

 

“Yeah, gonna have to do something about that,” Jungkook grimaced. “Yugyeom, you’re the cameraman.”

 

“Why am I always the cameraman? Do you not think I’m brave enough for the actual brutality?” he whined.

 

“Then would you like to pull out Jang's lungs through his ribcage and out of his back?” Jungkook tilted his head with a coquettish smirk.

 

Yugyeom’s Adam's Apple bobbed nervously and he shook his head, meekly going over to lift the bag. Choi went in first. One look at Katya's smug face and his fist clenched. Jungkook knew he understood she was in on it.

 

“The room is ready?” Jungkook muttered to her.

 

“It was. And then the three fuckers turned up early,” she said in her husky native Russian, “I plied them with champagne and when they got to the little surprise in the bottom they were out within seconds. I had them tied up ready for your arrival.”

 

“You’re a treasure, Kat,” he beamed, dropping a kiss on her cheek.

 

A brothel with an elevator hidden in the boiler room was an unusual thing. It took them down to a musty cellar, larger than the entirety of the building and spanning under the strip club next door. The floor was made of concrete with ominously placed drains at eight-foot intervals. A single table sat in the centre under a rickety lamp shade. The walls were hung with chains and other sinister looking BDSM tools. Obviously, the room was intended for a very different purpose than the one it was being adopted for tonight.

 

 A hulking, hooded figure was strapped into chains extending from the walls, floor and ceiling. Their arms were outstretched and their knees trussed, their ankles looped with heavy metal circlets, identical to those around their necks. Jungkook punched the air with a silent cheer of triumph when he saw them and it was followed by happy applause from Mingyu. Choi's face clearly showed his disgust at how they were acting like children who were about to get dessert for dinner.

 

“So, I’m assuming the order of the day is the Blood Eagle from the description you gave earlier.” Lisa was already strapping on her gloves, the ends making a sharp smacking sound against her wrists. The sound of her voice made one of the tied-up men stir and groan. Lee. Jungkook recognised the gravelly voice immediately. He drank half the water bottle in his hand and squirted the other half down the back of Lee’s collar, relishing in the surprised yelp from the man.

 

“Gentlemen, remove your hoods,” he announced with a grand flourish. And then he laughed, a hearty, full sound as he clapped his hands together. “Oh, that’s right, I forgot. Your hands are a little preoccupied...Mingyu, would you do the honours?”

 

Mingyu wasn’t as immersed in the theatrics of any given situation like Jungkook was. He yanked off the cloth hoods with little ceremony to reveal the bruised faces of Jang, Lee and Woo underneath. It appeared Katya's girls had taken a little vengeance of their own. Tonight, the girls would moan louder than usual to please their clients and disguise the sounds of bloodcurdling screams from somewhere deep below.

 

Jungkook took a knife, offering it to Choi who declined. “If you don’t mind, young master, I’d rather sit to the side and watch.”

 

“Yes, watch as the student becomes the teacher,” Jungkook sneered, sliding the point of the knife into the thin fabric of Jang's shirt. He slit downwards, ripping it open and signalled for Lisa and Mingyu to take up positions behind Lee and Woo. “Welcome kiddos, to a masterclass in performing the Blood Eagle.”

 

Mingyu stifled a laugh as Lee rocked hard against his restraints, no doubt trying to escape. But the drugs in system made his movements woozy and slow. Jang’s shirt back was in tatters, his skin a perfect gleaming canvas for the sort of fun Jungkook lived for.

 

“Mine’s still out,” Lisa said grimly. She reached into her back pocket and removed a silver flask filled with undiluted vodka and poured it down Woo’s throat. He came to immediately, eyes wide and mouth gasping and sputtering in shock. Lisa patted his shoulder and smiled. “Hi, sweetie. Welcome to the party.”

 

“We gotta work fast and get through most of the torture before they have time to fully process the pain and go into shock,” Jungkook said. “ I want them to feel that final splinter their ribs make when their lungs burst out through their back. But first....gentleman, can any of you guess  why you are gathered here tonight?”

 

“Mother's finally going to castrate her little bitch boy, I know that much,” Jang spat. “Whatever you think you’re about to do, think again. I promise I’ll be nice when I get orders to discipline you for this little stunt.”

 

“Jang, I’m shocked. Didn’t know you were such a talker,” Jungkook said with surprise, “You see when Jimin told me you guys beat him up and left without calling an ambulance, I imagined you were too retarded to do so. But apparently, when it comes to begging for your own life, you’re quite eloquent.”

 

“Didn’t sound like begging to me. Sounded like defiance,” Lisa said.

 

“I agree with Lisa,” Yugyeom piped up from where he was setting up the camera equipment. “Also, guys, though I’ll be watching through my fingers, trust me when I say that this’ll make a killing on the dark web. We have entire forums that are mad about medieval tortures. This fits the bill like a glove.”

 

“You seriously don’t remember Jimin?” Jungkook was still focused on the three prisoners. He had just seen the expression of brief confusion on Lee's face and rage seethed inside his gut like a seven headed monster.

 

“Who the fuck is Jimin?” Lee grunted.

 

“Oh for fucks sake...short, pretty kid with blonde hair and pouty lips? How the fuck do you forget a face like that?!”

 

Something akin to comprehension dawned on Woo's face. “Outside your apartment? The kid Mother said you were fucking? Ha! I remember him. Screamed like a pipe flute.”

 

Lee chuckled under his breath. It was the sheer underestimation again. Jungkook knew none of them believed he would go through with this. They were laughing in the face of unimaginable pain and ultimately, death. There was no more room for talk. Choi chewed on his lower lip as he saw the light from the lamp illuminate a fire in the black depth of Jungkook's eyes. He shook his head as if in disappointment, crossed his arms and decides silence was indeed the best option.

 

“Knife’s not gonna do it,” Lisa said suddenly. “hatchet first.”

 

“In the bag,” Jungkook muttered, throwing on his ski mask and signalling the others to do the same. Once his face was covered, Yugyeom finally hit the record button on the camera. The bag that had held the masks had an entire bundle of weapons that were reminiscent of those found under the counters of butcher’s shops. Lisa took the sharpest hatchet for herself and gave the other two cleavers, figuring they would work well enough.

 

The blood drained from Jang’s face when he saw the tools. Finally, it seemed to strike him how serious Jungkook was. And even then, his bravado was like a shield.

 

“Seriously kid, you’re a fucking fool if you think you’re getting away with this. Stop now, and I won’t tell Mother.”

 

“Stop now and I won’t tell Mother,” Jungkook mimicked him. And then his smile was gone.

 

He swung the hatchet in the air, as if getting used to its weight. Then, with a precise, focused strike that he had practiced many times, he brought it down into Jang's back. The sound was satisfying and thick, and coupled with the sound that Jang made, it made a thrill go through him.

 

Simultaneous wet thuds followed as Lisa and Mingyu followed suit. Woo was loud enough to force Lisa's hand and she shoved a vodka stained handkerchief into his mouth. He would bite off his own tongue and go into shock and she wasn’t having any of that.

 

The procedure was straightforward. The blood was already spraying over his tracksuit, but Jungkook worked diligently, paying it no attention. He managed to prise apart the thick flesh without hitting any of the bone. Jang’s vomit pooled in his lap, mixing with the piss stains on his crotch. One of the three had shit themselves; the smell mingled with the metallic blood scent and behind them, Yugyeom gagged, shoving his face into the lapel of his jacket. The ski masks helped quell the stench somewhat.

 

“Break away the ribs from the spine,” Jungkook said, glancing over to see Mingyu struggling to work as Lee suffered severe convulsions. “Mingyu work faster, he’s going to faint.”

 

“Is all this really necessary for beating up your boyfriend?” Mingyu muttered.

 

“Don’t be a pussy and give up now,” Lisa snarled, saving Jungkook the bother of having to answer.

 

Mingyu’s hand tightened and he began to hack at the ribs. One sickening crack after the other, fingers struggling to hold onto the hatchet as it became slippery with blood and muscle matter. The fact that Jang, Lee and Woo were still conscious was simply testament to their physical stamina. They probably wished they were lesser men now. Jungkook did not realise his hands were shaking until the skin scraped against the sharp edge of one of the broken ribs and split open. The pain wasn’t noticeable, and his blood was lost in the red gushing from Jang's body. Now that he had it open, it was just a slippery, smelly sack of meat and liquid. Nothing more. It helped him continue.

 

Lisa gasped as her hand slipped and she did made the same mistake. “Fuck!” angrily, she reached deeper until the bulbous bottom of Woo's right lung was in her grasp. She was breathing hard, as if she’d run a marathon. “Any longer and I’m going to throw up.”

 

“Pull them outwards. Don’t let them cave back in,” Jungkook growled, squeezing Jang's left lung. He was pretty sure the man was on the brink of death, unaware of what was happening any longer. But the sputtering squeeze of oxygen that escaped his lung and blasted from his mouth was still satisfying to hear. If only it wasn’t followed by the urge to throw up violently.

 

With the final gasp of an artist who had completed his masterpiece after an exhausting, long winded creative session, Jungkook fell back. His eyes were wide, sparkling with horror and glee as the bloodied pink sacs of air expanded and stuck out from Jang's back like the macabre wings of an angel of death. Yugyeom had opened his eyes and was motionless, holding onto the tripod as he stared at the lustrous, disgusting vision.

 

The opening in Jang's back was of a finesse that would have made Choi proud had he deigned to study it. Mingyu's was a mess. Lee had died in the first ten minutes and had only suffered death spasms when his lungs were brought out. Lisa had kept Woo functioning with the vodka stained handkerchief, numbing the pain in the beginning to have it explode into a cacophony of violent agony in the end. All three kids were covered in scarlet and shaking from head to toe.

 

Choi broke the silence first. He stood up, his suit still pristine but his shoes ruined. “I’ll get a clean-up team over here.”

 

“No!” Jungkook said, “Mother will – “

 

“Find out, yes,” Choi said blandly. “Jang wasn’t joking. She will find out. It’s inevitable. The three of them had many enemies but none would dare to do such a thing to them. They’re all far too frightened. Please don’t tell me you went into this thinking you could get away with it.”

 

Jungkook deflated. Lisa dropped her knife – the diamond blade had been invaluable in cutting the ribs – and she jerked her head around to stare at Choi.

 

“Are the rest of us going to get in trouble too?” she asked.

 

“Do any of you consider the consequences before you go gallivanting after Jungkook?” Choi said, his upper lip curled incredulously.

 

Jungkook swept his hair back, wincing at the squelch he heard. He had perhaps underestimated how all consuming the spreading quality of blood could be. He didn’t particularly mind it. It was just...surprising. He took another water bottle from his bag and washed his hands clean before going over to the camera. After briefly rewinding through the footage, he gave Yugyeom a pat on the back.

 

“Send the video to me later,” he whispered.

 

“We're all gonna be in deep shit aren’t we?” Yugyeom whispered back.

 

Jungkook glanced over at where Choi was muttering to someone on the phone. Below him, the blood was a steady river flowing into the drains. It was never ending. Yes, they were all in deep shit. Depending on Mother's mood, he would pay for it heavily. Mother never punished his associates whenever Jungkook landed in trouble. She targeted him. She knew he did not care enough for his friends to feel guilty if they were punished so she cut to the root. His last punishment had been isolation without sunlight and only bread and water for a fortnight. Something vital had snapped inside Jungkook's mind when he was finally let out. The only thing Mother had never done was hurt him beyond repair or just straight up kill him.

 

He wondered which new scrap of his sanity Mother would steal this time.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin had just gotten comfortable in bed when the knock on the door made him lift his head up off the pillow. It was fascinating how swiftly sleep could lift its warm embrace. Once upon a time, Jimin had been such a deep sleeper his dog could have been barking in his ear and he’d still be unconscious. He stumbled across the bedroom floor and landed against the door, heaving it open with a tired sigh.

 

“What?” he said, without even looking up.

 

Taehyung still had on his trousers and jacket, but the shirt was gone. He had freshly showered, droplets of water still dripping onto his shoulders from his hair which was held back by a patterned bandana. Taut, tanned skin coated him like honeyed caramel, dripping down over his toned physique. He smelt like citrus and jasmine, two of the ingredients the shower gel in the bathroom had listed on the front. He wet his lips – an unconscious habit – and sucked his lower lip into his mouth, pronouncing the shape of the upper. Jimin mirrored the gesture, as if in a trance, all traces of sleep vanishing.

 

“Yoongi called,” Taehyung said, pushing himself through the doorway.

 

“Why?” Jimin mumbled, rubbing his sleepy eyes.

 

Taehyung fell onto the bed, leaning forward with a look of exasperation. It was to hide another sentiment underneath. Jimin saw it in the way his eyes scanned up and down, undressing him without moving a muscle. And suddenly, Jimin knew why Yoongi had called so late at night. Taehyung reached over to grab the glasses Jimin had thrown aside earlier that day and fiddled with the tiny buttons on the inner rim to set it on recording mode.

 

“So, what is this then? He’s going to shoot an amateur porno and make a little side profit?” Jimin said bitterly.

 

“Amateur? You, maybe,” Taehyung grunted. “He wants to jack off to the sight of us fucking. It’s not that deep. He asks, I provide.”

 

Lies. The video would be going in an archive that would come back to haunt Jimin when he least expected it. Even if it didn’t, the power play was stifling. I own you. I can have my dog fuck you and you can’t say no. You’re mine. Yoongi already owned Taehyung and he was certain of it. Obviously, he still had his doubts about Jimin. Apparently, Taehyung’s seven-inch erection up his ass was needed to reassure him of Jimin’s submission. And to think Jimin had termed Jungkook possessively toxic.

 

Taehyung was leaning back on his hands, watching as Jimin stood still and pondered. It was interesting that he was quiet. He was never quiet. Perhaps he didn’t like this either. Except the sudden darkening of his eyes as Jimin pulled nervously at his pant strings said otherwise. The smaller boy walked towards him slowly, gripping the sheets as he crawled onto the bed. His eyes were two pools of darkness in his skull, a shining abyss that let nothing out and reflected Taehyung's face back at him.

 

Taehyung moved suddenly. Jimin squeaked, backing away by instinct until he was trapped against the foot of the bed. His lips were swallowed up between the other’s, breath letting out in stuttering bursts. The taller man's hands were demanding, as impatient as the last time Jimin had been in bed with him. But this time, he no longer had Yoongi’s intervention to protect him. He tore away to look at the glasses perched on the drawer and was rewarded with a rich smack from Taehyung.

 

“The harder you struggle, the harder I go,” he murmured  between kisses, his hot, wet dirty tongue playing with Jimin's in all kinds of inappropriate manners.

 

All Jimin managed to say was “Fuck!” before Taehyung had his face buried in his neck and started planting soft hickeys all over it. They got harder with each one until Jimin was gulping in air as if he were dying. He hadn’t thought about struggling, and even so, his body was physically unable.

 

No man had ever touched him in such a way, so thoroughly and so intensely. It was like with every touch of his hands he was trying to take his skin off and get under it somehow. Jimin's mouth was filled with the taste of him, from the back of his teeth to the tip of his tongue. It wasn’t long before he started moaning, soft, sweet luscious sounds of approval as Taehyung's hard teeth and tender lips wreaked havoc on his throat. He could already feel how hard the older man was, his hot, straining bulge pushing against his navel every time he gyrated his hips up. His own cock was semi erect, leaking with enough precum to soak through the insubstantial material of his trousers. The footboard was digging into his spine and he tried a couple times to escape from under the weight pinning him down only to receive a vicious bite from Taehyung.

 

“You’re crushing me!” Jimin let out a high-pitched gasp as his head hit the board with a painful crack.

 

Finally, Taehyung eased up and Jimin scrambled over the mattress, as if he were trying to get away. The bed was barely bigger than a single but somehow, all such trivial things were forgotten. Jimin glanced over at the glasses again, wondering if Yoongi would watch this with a cold, calculated silence or if a certain tightness in his trousers would cloud up his head until his cheeks were as pink as the first time Jimin had gone down on him.

 

Taehyung's teeth caught on his waistline, tugging it down, and Jimin forgot about Yoongi. One hand went into the breast pocket of his jacket and produced a bottle of clear lube and the other continued ridding Jimin of his underwear.

 

“Get on top of me,” he said huskily, lying back on the pillows and forcing Jimin to straddle him.

 

Jimin did so with little resistance, taking the lube and copying the way he’d seen Yoongi and Taehyung slather it over their dicks that night. Taehyung didn’t make a sound when Jimin's small hand wrapped around his shaft, but when he squeezed, a groan escaped him, low and primal. Just to be safe, Jimin smeared some more of the cold stuff over his own entrance. He didn’t want to wake up as sore the next morning like the first time.

 

A high pitched keen left his swollen lips as his hole stretched out to accommodate Taehyung's  cock, the older man's hands forcing his hips down. A delicious push of his waist and he squeaked, the sudden fullness overwhelming. His lips were parted in a gasp, saliva wet on his lips as he rolled his ass against Taehyung, taking him in as deep as he could. He let Taehyung pull him down and encircled his neck with his arms, rocking his slim hips, taking his thick shaft in and out of his tight hole.

 

“Fuck, little boy, you’re gonna make me cum too fast,” Taehyung grunted, as Jimin's movements became more and more vigorous. He didn’t know where he got the sudden energy from. If he had known sex could feel this good, he would have started a lot earlier.

 

“I’m not a little boy,” Jimin growled through clenched teeth, smacking Taehyung's chest with a vicious dig of his nails.

 

He was immediately forced to halt as Taehyung sat up straighter and sank his teeth into the flesh of his neck, causing a sharp stab of pain. Jimin punched his shoulder to make him stop and when that failed, grabbed a fistful of his silky brown hair and bit him back, growling like a savage animal as he did. Taehyung lost it. Jimin's head snapped to the side as the older man’s palm connected with his face. Before he could react, he was flying through the air and his back slammed into the bed hard enough to almost send a crick through his spine and neck.

 

Taehyung pounced, pinning him down and shoved his fat cock back inside his tight heat. Jimin was quickly lost all sense of self and was simply a moaning, screaming mess as Taehyung fucked the wits out of him.

 

“Fuck, I’m gonna come, make me come – don’t stop!” he begged breathlessly, arching his back and thrusting up to meet Taehyung’s relentless pounding. His cock bounced between their bodies, precum glistening all over the insides of his thighs and stomach. He wanted to touch it – was desperate to – but Taehyung had his wrists pinned above his head and all Jimin could do was sob with repressed pain everytime his hard cock slapped against Taehyung’s pelvis.

 

“Yeah? You’re gonna fucking come? Squeeze that pretty little ass on my cock, bitch…” he grunted, grabbing the boy's legs and pinning them to his shoulder as he pounded faster. His humiliation kink was glaringly obvious and Jimin didn’t care. In fact, he found it beyond sexy to see Taehyung’s beautiful mouth spout filth with such passionate hatred. Whether the hate was real or not, Jimin didn’t care either.

 

A white hot coil began to twist inside his core as Taehyung’s cock hammered deeper and deeper into his swollen asshole. No amount of lube was going to ease the friction. All he wanted was a quick release, to distract himself from the fact that he was not going to be able to walk the following morning. With a massive heave, he managed to get his hand free and reached down to grab his cock and give it a couple jerks. That was all he needed. Taehyung pulled out his cock as Jimin orgasmed, eyes rolling back into his head as rope after rope of hot cum spurted from his reddened member.  

 

“Fuck!” he panted, hitting his cock against Jimin's stretched pink hole as the boy’s cock squirted some more, covering his navel and the sheets below with ejaculate. Jimin’s toes were curled and he was pretty sure he was crying. At least if those were tears on his cheeks and not the remnants of Taehyung’s wild, sloppy kisses .

 

Jimin’s speech abilities evaporated and he locked in an arched position with his mouth open in a silent scream. His fingers tugged at his hair, pulling painfully as he tried to regain control of himself but failed. The feeling was indescribable. He didn’t even feel Taehyung drive his cock in a couple more times. He was on cloud nine.

 

“Urgh, look at that pretty face – look at that fucking face,” Taehyung growled, grabbing his jaw and forcing his tongue deep into his mouth. His other hand reached to the side and grabbed the glasses to put them on, no doubt to let Yoongi see first-hand what he was looking at. Even through helpless whimpering, Jimin managed to laugh at the way the glasses changed Taehyung’s entire face. He felt like he was being fucked raw in exchange for a good grade from his hot, young professor.

 

Taehyung pulled out and crawled down his body, pushing his legs apart. The glasses were removed and dropped back onto the table.

 

“Oh Christ, Taehyung!” Jimin moaned as he started flicking his tongue over the base of his scrotum. His cheeks hollowed, sucking on the textured skin and kissing all over his sac until Jimin grabbed his head and pushed it forward, deeper into his crotch. Taehyung didn’t resist, willingly increasing his efforts, each slurp of his tongue setting off new bursts of fireworks in Jimin's abdomen.

 

Taehyung’s sinful tongue wriggled down until it found the sensitive place between his asshole and his balls and lapped at it, his hand stroking up Jimin's cock, thumb massaging every vein and every ridge. It was the sounds and the sight even more than the feeling. Jimin watched him from under hooded lids and it took his breath away. Taehyung had very little finesse, unlike Yoongi. He went in like an animal starving for food and the mess he created was spectacular. Strings of cum and saliva connected from his face onto Jimin’s crotch and he still managed to look hot. He didn’t even need to suck the shaft before Jimin began screaming again.

 

“Yeaaah, come for me,” Taehyung snarled, as Jimin yelled to the high heavens and a fountain of cum exploded from the tip of his erection, gushing all over Taehyung’s waiting tongue. He didn’t even think he had the energy to come a second time but there it was.

 

It was obvious Taehyung’s intentions were for many more orgasms and erections when he reached for his trousers. A small jewelled case was pulled out, revealing a baggie of white powder and a thin silver cocaine spoon. Jimin didn’t have the strength or courage to say no. Taehyung snorted first and Jimin’s eyes became panicky, wondering how much more energized the bastard could get. And then the spoon was shoved under his nose. Taehyung held one nostril shut for him and grunted “Do it". Jimin stuck out his lip in a pout before obeying. He ended up choking, coughing hard enough to turn scarlet. He wasn’t given time to recover, instead thrown back down and with his legs pulled apart.

 

Taehyung went slower this time, bending Jimin’s legs back until his knees were squeezed against his legs and his ass cheeks were spread. After rimming his puckered entrance for an infuriatingly short while, teasing Jimin until he whined, he moved his tongue back up to his ball sac. “Oh – oh my – god – fuck – “ Jimin panted, already anticipating the moment his cock would disappear between those perfect fucking lips. Taehyung looked up, long eyelashes fluttering as he licked the underside of his shaft before lavishing broad licks over the sensitive slit.

 

“Uunnnhhh…I l-love your t-tongue – s-so m-m-much – “ Jimin whimpered, struggling not to thrust his hips up. The cocaine was stiffening him up quicker, and he felt like he would burst in seconds. He held on, wanting to feel more. There was something incredibly erotic about seeing his cock disappear inch by inch into Taehyung’s mouth. It made him feel powerful, though he knew it was a misled feeling. The ease with which Taehyung had manhandled him into position was proof enough.

 

Taehyung’s large hands gripped his ass cheeks hard and pushed his hips up closer into his face, swallowing his cock whole. With every upwards pull of his mouth, he sucked tight, forcing out precum and slurping it up with wild abandon. It was agony as Jimin tried to hold back his orgasm. Every limb of his body was shuddering like a jackhammer and sweat was literally dripping down his temples. One hand stroked down the side of his own face, his pinky getting trapped between his lips as his dark eyes searched out the spy glasses on the table. If Yoongi hadn’t orgasmed so far, he would now.

 

“A-AAHH! T-Tae – uunnnhh – “ his scream was lost as he yanked the pillow around to bite into it. Taehyung’s fingers were inside him, curling, pumping, massaging his prostate until Jimin had no control left. His walls convulsed around the intrusive digits and Taehyung’s mouth was suddenly brimming with salty white cum. He didn’t remove it, instead lowering it deeper until he felt every last drop slide down his throat. When he pulled off with a satisfied moan, he smacked Jimin’s cock for good measure, just to smirk as he shrieked and squirmed.

 

“Stop, baby, stop, no more…” Jimin gasped, pulling ineffectually on his arm to make him pull away.

 

Thankfully, he heeded the plea and crawled back up Jimin’s body to press kisses all the way up his navel. His lips traced the lines and curves of his abs, biting every so often. Jimin let out an involuntary sound as Taehyung’s tan hands splayed over his pearly skin, leaving flashes of red in their wake. He bruised easy, something he would also face up to in the morning. Jimin worried his lip as Taehyung’s tongue curled around his left nipple, mouth closing around it. He kicked up a leg around Taehyung’s waist as a croon travelled through his chest, up his throat and out through his mouth. The sheets were drenched under him and Taehyung’s stiff cock was rubbing up against his own in a way that made him marvel at the older man’s stamina and self-restraint.

 

“Such a pretty little thing,” he said hoarsely, biting Jimin’s lower lip, hot breath searing the boy’s skin until it flushed a furious red.

 

“Feeling’s mutual,” Jimin whispered back, hungrily devouring his lips and tasting the cum staining them. He didn’t know where the sudden fake affection was coming from, but he decided not to think too hard about it. The moment was far too intense to think deeply. And Taehyung didn’t seem to mind, which meant he would continue to do unspeakable things to Jimin’s body that made him twist and arch and yell as if he were having a holy fit in church. He couldn’t help laughing when he saw the devilish smirk on Taehyung’s face, just moments before he removed the bandana from his head and shoved it in Jimin’s mouth without warning.

 

The smaller boy moaned as Taehyung reached down and squeezed his cock a little, before smacking his cheek a couple times. The loss of speech and the ability to say ‘stop’ was simultaneously exhilarating and frightening.

 

His dick was the next thing to enter his body via an orifice and this was an intrusion Jimin welcomed. The substantial amount of lube used in the last round was still coating his anal cavity and every thrust was quick and pleasurable. Taehyung’s hands were pinning him down before he could begin straining for real.

 

“Yeah, you like that…you like that don’t you, little slut?” Taehyung crooned in that sinfully low voice, his powerful abdominal muscles working fast and furious, to stretching him out with every thrust.

 

The boy was half sobbing with the lack of sounds he was able to make, as well as the lack of oxygen. Great, shuddering sobs were his body’s attempts to draw in air and he failed each time. When Taehyung leaned down to bite his neck again, he convulsed. Between frantic screams around the gag, Jimin glanced down to see the man’s huge, slick cock pumping into his rosy hole, the veins on it throbbing with every outward pull. He almost passed out at the sight.

 

Despite the hold on him, he began thrashing a lot harder once he felt yet another orgasm unravelling its fiery tendrils through his core. Sweat dripped off Taehyung’s forehead, falling on Jimin’s face as he snapped upwards and locked into a frozen arch of pure ecstasy. His toes were curled so hard they were beginning to hurt but he didn’t care. He tightened around Taehyung’s thrusting dick so hard, the other him could not hold back his own climax any longer. Jimin was still coming as Taehyung rutted forward and they rode their high together. Taehyung was incoherent, cursing in between deep, lusty moans as he locked his hips into Jimin’s. His hair was plastered to his forehead and if it was possible, he looked even sexier.

 

When he finally recovered, Taehyung reached down to pull out the gag and Jimin gasped with relief, breathing deep as he writhed and rode out the final aftershocks. Taehyung still hovered over him, eyes hidden behind their lids as his chest heaved. On instinct, Jimin reached up to kiss the side of his face, jaw, neck, anywhere he could reach, thirsting to feel his sweaty, golden skin against his tongue.

 

“Fuck me again…again…please…” he didn’t even recognise the voice coming out of his own mouth. A cocaine-fuelled plea to help him calm his cocaine-fuelled cock so that he could finally get some fucking sleep. But it came out sounding so pathetically submissive, whiny almost, some distant part of his mind retched.

 

But for the present purpose, it worked. Taehyung’s lips found his and his rock hard, warm body was soon nestled in between Jimin’s ample thighs again, exactly where he wanted it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The coffee machine had malfunctioned for the third time in a fortnight.

 

Namjoon got one taste of the especially bitter tang of the hot liquid and cursed the man who was supposed to clean out the filters once a week. His job was simple enough and yet he could not stay on top of it. Namjoon removed the lid of the cup and was about to pour it into the flowerbeds, when he stopped. His frustration and anger at the way this week had rolled in like a tsunami was no reason to scald and hurt innocent plants. He trudged back into the station with it, emptying it in the sink in the communal room and throwing the cup in the bin.

 

“Kim! Could I get you in here please?” the sergeant’s voice rang clearly over the buzzing noise of the office.

 

In a heartbeat, it fell quiet. Namjoon looked around, making a face as he met the eyes of his partner, Dean. His name was Kwon Hyuk but he insisted on his English name being used, for reasons that baffled Namjoon. He had lived in the States for only a year and suddenly, he was “American” and Kwon Hyuk was a thing of the past. He shot Namjoon a half smile over his screen, one precocious dimple denting his creamy cheek. It did nothing to alleviate the tension burning in Namjoon’s gut.

 

“Close the door, Kim,” Sergeant Hwang said, glancing at him over the top of his spectacles.

 

Namjoon did so, trying to gulp down the nerves tied up in his throat. He took a seat when Hwang gestured and crossed his hands in his lap, folded his arms, uncrossed his legs – anything to make himself feel and look comfortable. Nothing worked. Hwang tapped a sheaf of papers against the desk to align them neatly and set them down. He lifted a folder of the pile on the corner of his desk and slid it over for Namjoon’s appraisal.

 

“Three bodies were found today, in warehouse 13 by the eastern bank of the river. Forensics summarised they had been dead a while and were moved there. Either to send a message, or just plain laziness.”

 

“A message?” Namjoon blinked. He proceeded to open the folder and almost threw up in his mouth as a photograph fell out.

 

“It’s gang-related. To the gang. Geomjeong-Pa.” Hwang stood, going over to the noticeboard hung up on a stand and flipped it over to reveal an array of photographs interconnected by red lines and red tacks. He hit his curled knuckles against three photos, one after the other. Jang Ki Hyun, Lee Byung Chul and Woo Deok Su. Namjoon knew those faces well. They had appeared in his nightmares with horrific frequency. “The identities of the bodies – Jang, Lee and Woo – Mother’s famed trio. And now they’re dead.”

 

“I hope we’re not trying to actively hunt out the murderer. He deserves a Nobel prize,” Namjoon said, his voice coming out a little weaker than he had intended. The photographs were truly disgusting. He was still young, so desensitisation was not something he had experienced.

 

“That’s the thing – even if we tried, it would be impossible. We’re guessing this is an inside job,” Hwang said. “Unrest within Mother’s ranks. An external factor would have left a gang symbol, proof of allegiance that they were against Geomjeong-pa. But all we got were three brutalised bodies and no signs of a gang war erupting anywhere. Mother’s been quiet.”

 

“When were they found?”

 

“Yesterday evening. She usually retaliates within the hour.”

 

“Would you like me to do the paperwork for this case, sir?”

 

Namjoon sighed inwardly as he said this. He had only just started to prove he was a brilliant detective despite his age, but it was his age that always let him down in the end. He had paperwork foisted upon him when his seniors couldn’t be arsed. Dean and Namjoon hadn’t been out solving a case in months because of the paperwork now starting to pile on their respective desks. The police hierarchy was second only to the army and Namjoon had already experienced the joys of that. He preferred this to it.

 

“If you would be so kind,” Hwang nodded. “But also, I must draw your attention to something else. Do you remember Detective Lim?”

 

“From Busan?”

 

“Yes. You weren’t asked to review the case he brought to our attention, but I remember briefing you on the details.”

 

“Yes, I remember,” Namjoon said slowly, comprehension lighting his features, “It was concerning the murder of a police informant in Busan. The victim had been living in Seoul for some time, so Lim tried to chase up leads on this end. Though that didn’t make any sense as the case was pretty black and white. A few disgruntled thugs from Yong geondal killed him for being a cop.”

 

“Ex-cop. Jung Hoseok went rogue. It was publicised throughout the police circles as a total failure on the part of the Busan cops to handle their mafia presence,” Hwang said grimly. “At the time, Detective Lim suspected that Hoseok had pissed off important members of the criminal underworld in Seoul. However, it was quickly uncovered that Hoseok had never dealt with Geomjeong-pa in any form whatsoever. But now…”

 

Hwang reached over and flipped open the folder Namjoon had deposited on the table. He traced the outlines of the victims’ lungs, each pair erupting from their spines like bloodstained wings.

 

“The Blood Eagle. I can’t tell you how long it took before someone finally found a name for this method of extermination. I’ve never seen anything like it. Apparently, it has its roots in ancient Scandinavia. Whoever decided to use it, obviously has a keen eye for the most painful methods of murder possible. The coroner’s reports state the victims may have been alive till the moment their lungs were pulled backwards.”

 

Namjoon suppressed the urge to wince, but his face paled and he could not hide the revulsion in his eyes. This was sadistic hedonism to an extent he had never seen before. Whoever had murdered the trio, truly loathed every fibre of their being. Their list of enemies had to be endless, but no names came to mind that could have done something like this before.

 

“I called Detective Lim to confirm the details of his closed case. He revealed Jung Hoseok was murdered in the same manner. At the time, the bizarre method of killing wasn’t questioned by the Busan police force, again proving their ineptness. They summarised it was just evidence of how bitter a hatred Yong geondal mobsters bore for police officers. This case upends everything we know about Jung’s murder. I need you to investigate it.”

 

Namjoon’s jaw had dropped from the very first sentence and it had still not closed. It seemed physically impossible to make it do so. Hwang eyed him sternly, and then added, “You are one of our best detectives. And I think that’s been quite enough paperwork for the time being. You’ve proved you can bow your head and show remorse. I will speak to the superintendent about closing the investigation into your conduct on your last case. However, Dean will shadow you on this new case and unlike last time, you are not permitted to go lone wolf. Do you understand?”

 

“Y-y-yes,” Namjoon stammered, unable to believe what he was hearing. He stood up abruptly, knees knocking against the underside of the table and almost sending it flying the opposite way. Hwang’s jaw tightened and he stepped back just in time. “I-I’m sorry. I promise I won’t disappoint you, sir.”

 

“Better not. I’m putting my reputation and career on the line to plead your case. Brief Dean and transfer your paperwork to the temps.”

 

Namjoon couldn’t get out of there fast enough. Now he knew why Dean had smiled earlier. He must have known there was a case waiting in the wings, he just didn’t know what.

 

“Did he tell you?” Dean hissed, wheeling his chair over to Namjoon’s desk.

 

“Y-yeah! Shit! We’re actually going out in the field again, man!” Namjoon whispered, clenching his fists to keep them from shaking with excitement.

 

“Come on, tell me! I’ve literally been holding it in since the morning because Hwang wouldn’t say a word to me!”

 

Namjoon nodded, holding up his palm to indicate he would, just as soon as he had gathered his wits. The calmer and stiller he got, the smoother the synapses of his brain crackled and connected. It took him a minute to find the mental itch and when he had it, he snapped his fingers. It had started irritating him the moment Hwang had revealed Jung Hoseok’s method of execution in Busan but Namjoon had been too overwhelmed by shock to scratch it. He briefed Dean as quickly as it was verbally possible to do so, and without giving the other man a chance to process anything, jumped to the next call of order immediately.

 

“I need you to find something out for me,” he said.

 

“What would that be?”

 

“I need you to find out the whereabouts of this person. The kid has my number, but he never called me, so I don’t have his. I need you to find it.”

 

“Who are we talking about?” Dean’s voice was impatient.

 

Indeed, who was he talking about?

 

“Someone who might hold the key to this entire thing if I know him as well as I think I do.”

 

“Wait – is this the same kid you almost jeopardised the last investigation for? The one you went on a detour to hunt down over a case we weren’t even given? Jesus, Namjoon, you almost killed both our careers with that fucking stunt!”

 

“But it came in handy. Because I just know he’s related to this case somehow,” Namjoon slammed his fist against his knee, overcome with a sudden passion to prove he was right. Dean recognised that look. It was the look of a man who was on the winning trail. And Namjoon had solved their last case, despite being distracted.

 

“Fine. What was his name?” scowled Dean, looking ready to punch him in the face.

 

“Last time I met him, he was heading down to Busan to escape an obsessive ex – or so he said. He never gave me a straight answer when I asked if he was part of Geomjeong-pa but Jang, Lee and Woo messed him up real bad by the end so no wonder he wasn’t talking. And then suddenly, he’s in Busan? A kid with no known qualifications or job prospects? What is he doing there? Swapping one gang allegiance for another, obviously. And the biggest gang in Busan happens to be Yong geondal, the same gang incriminated for murdering Jung Hoseok, an ex-police informant. The method of killing Jung Hoseok was identical to that used for Jang, Lee and Woo. So yes, this boy is the dead centre of it all and whether he knows it or not, I’m finding out.”

 

Namjoon slapped his knee in triumph, both dimples on display like a man who had reached nirvana. Dean stared at him blankly, eyes blinking slowly. He coughed, cleared his throat and sat back in his chair with a sigh.

 

“What?” Namjoon frowned. “I’ve literally solved half the case already.”

 

“And I’m still on square one. But if you give me his bloody name, maybe Watson can have a chance to catch up with Sherlock, hm?” Dean said, tilting his head as if speaking to a child.

 

“Oh. Right. Sorry. Of course.” Namjoon laughed, smacking his head. “I think he might be in the database. I’m pretty sure he was arrested for a misdemeanour. His name’s Jimin. Park Jimin.”

 

 

 

A/N

I’m sorry I don’t upload in the week, it’s mostly due to working every day so I usually try to cram in my updates on a weekend depending on how fast my muse is urging me to write. Hopefully this gives you guys a couple of 30 page chapters that you can absorb and relish over the week and don’t have to read in a rush?

 

As it stands, since I know I’m quite bad at conveying clearly what is happening sometimes, Vmin’s relationship is ambiguous (and yes, Taehyung is older than Jimin here for the purpose of the story). Obviously, Hoseok, despite being dead, plays a huge role in Taehyung’s development. Jimin’s parents’ background has to be something slowly unravelled by one of the other characters (which is why I can’t really have Jimin letting it all show via his mental thoughts). Jungkook obviously has issues, but that’s understandable considering where he was raised. He started off his scene wanting to bait Mother and then ended knowing he was doomed. Very impulsive. Namjoon has now finally been introduced after a brief mention of him in Chapter 1. So I guess all that’s left is showing Mother – aka Kim Seokjin – something I’m really looking forward to.

 

p.s. I’m honestly trying to improve on smut scenes as they tend to be quite long, but sometimes I just stop and think ‘Wtf am I doing, I – literally – wow – ‘

 

-A

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Dean uncovered a whole lot.

 

A whole bunch of phony bullshit nestled comfortably in the police records as if it had been put there via legitimate means.

 

“Do you see this?” Namjoon tapped the screen where it showed Park Jimin’s face next to a drug indictment record.

 

“Yes. I see a kid being exactly what you described him as. A petty criminal,” Dean muttered, opening up another window and typing into the search box to find any other past misdemeanours.

 

“It doesn’t fit the timeline. Look at the date – June 26th. He left for Busan a month before that and yet this says he was arrested in Seoul for it. It’s been fabricated, for whatever purpose. Geomjeong-pa is a disease and its virus networks are so deeply embedded in our department, fake records are put in and no one bats an eye.”

 

“So, is his entire record fake? Because they have a mobile number listed here I could try and track,” Dean said. “It’s probably not for the police’s benefit though if mafia moles is what we’re dealing with.”

 

“Track the kid’s phone. I’ll go on the first day’s stakeout alone. Figure out where he’s living and what he’s up to in terms of earning a living.”

 

Dean’s face contorted with suspicion. “Is this just another excuse for you to get ahead in the case without me? Because if so, let me know right now. I’m not looking like a fool in front of the sergeant when he asks me where we’re at with it. Gotta be prepared.”

 

Namjoon didn’t answer, eyes focused on the tracking app as it unravelled across the screen. He flung his coat over his shoulders and fixed his cap on his head, grabbing what remained of the bagel on his desk and wolfing it down in one bite. “There!” his eyes widened as the phone was tracked and shown to be stationery at an address in Itaewon. He scribbled down the phone number and wiped the remains of the sugar powder on his lips.

 

“Namjoon, I’m serious,” Dean said as the taller man went around the desk. “we're not used to mafia cases. Don’t start playing with fire, at least not without me. I don’t want to get a call telling me my partner’s down.”

 

“Hyuk, you won’t. I promise,” Namjoon sobered up.

 

“Honestly, it would make me more comfortable if I went along, so – “ Dean stood up, unwinding his jacket from where it clung to the back of his chair.

 

“No, it has to be me. For now. If Jimin happens to notice us, he’ll recognise me but seeing you will only make him panic. It’ll be clear proof that the cops are onto him. With me alone, it would be a coincidence. Granted, it’d be a pretty huge fucking coincidence, but we parted on good terms so I’m taking my chances. I just want to see him for myself.”

 

Somehow, he managed to make Dean back down. The miraculous feat was enough to give him the confidence boost he needed to ignore the fact that he was purposefully going against his sergeant’s orders. Again.

 

There were three unmarked sedans in the station garage, to be utilised by non-uniform cops, and all were meant to be signed out. Namjoon decided he would explain to his superior later. He took a black Hyundai and slid into the interior, which smelt profusely of pinewood and leather. He took a deep breath and pulled on a pair of gloves, starting up the engine. His phone was set on the dashboard, the live coordinates from Jimin’s phone beeping red in one corner of the map onscreen. It was moving but remined firmly within the boundaries of Itaewon. The app was faulty, but with the lack of funds the department had been suffering recently, it was the affordable best.  

 

Namjoon did not usually remember the faces of people he met unless they were key players in the cases he worked. Words and numbers weaved themselves into the fabric of his memory with ease. But faces? That was a whole new struggle. Jimin’s stood out though. The first he saw of him were the eyes. He had a strange way of lying in the hospital bed. Even with half his ribs fractured or broken, he was trying to make himself comfortable by bunching up the sheets around him. A classic case of a child that had grown up in isolation. Had he been able to, Namjoon knew he would have curled up embryo-style.

 

His eyes peeked over the top of the sheets, the rest of his face hidden under it. He didn’t move a muscle as he looked up to see the tall stranger staring down at him. He stared right back. Namjoon had never seen a pair of eyes so dead in a person as young as he. He didn’t need to know a thing about Park Jimin. The eyes said it all. And nothing about the softness of his voice, his features and his slight stature could disguise it. The kid was as dangerous as he was inherently miserable.

 

As expected, Namjoon found the signal took him into the seedy underbelly of Itaewon. It was nothing on the holographic madness of neon lights and eclectic people of Kabukicho but it had its own sinister charm. In a country as conservative as Korea, it was as if all the vestiges of rebellion and downright lawlessness had been churned and regurgitated up over Itaewon, painting it red. Geomjeong-pa played the biggest part in the steadily growing blotch of red ink on Seoul and Namjoon’s only enduring dream was to be a part of helping to dismantling the goliath that was Mother and her ever-growing syndicate.  He didn’t believe Jimin was the key to such a colossal task. But he was a pawn amongst thousands and he was better than nothing.

 

The signal took him down a street that boasted three casinos, a pawn shop and a closed down brothel. Men smoked outside the doors of the casinos, heavily tattooed, but well disguised by the fitted quality of their suits. All Geomjeong-pa, since all shared one tattoo in common, a four-pointed star with the southern point longer than the three others. Some had it imprinted on the back of the neck, the hand, or even ankles, depending on who wasn’t wearing socks. A greasy air of smug wealth clung to all of them. They were obviously well-ranked in the gang. Namjoon’s eyes strained, searching out the face he had seen in the flesh months ago.

 

Impatiently, he tapped his phone screen. The signal was displaying this location. He turned, craning his neck to glance down the street. He grabbed his phone and took a quick snap of the man he saw crossing the road. He looked to be in his late thirties, early forties. Whoever he was, Namjoon would find out later because behind him were two other men, and one of them was his target.

 

And yet even so, his gaze caught on the one whose face he didn’t recognise, as he followed the older male in front. The young man was tall, dark brown hair falling into his eyes, a curtain of honeyed silk that glinted when the sunlight kissed it. He was impossibly handsome for the line of work he was in. Strong jaw, pronounced nose and large eyes, unscarred and all exactly where they should be. No missing fingers, no limps, no chunks of flesh missing on his person. Watching him cross the road was akin to watching a model walk a runaway, all easy grace and self-assurance.

 

Jimin was last. He was still as Namjoon remembered, though the suit made him look infinitely more polished than the scruffy hospital gown. His hair was dyed a caramel brown, softening his already sweet features until the sunlight bathing him made his visage glow. He walked with his hands shoved in his pockets and had none of the power and fluidity of the one before him. The first one was like a male lion, begging to be noticed. Jimin’s every gesture screamed uncomfortable. Eyebrows drawn together, lips pouting slightly, eyes staring at the ground whenever given the chance. An unwilling participant, Namjoon summarised. But in what?

 

The three men joined the group of four by the first casino. A few minutes passed of introductions. The man in front was introducing the younger two and Namjoon watched as they were appraised by the others, much like captives in a prison judging fresh meat. Jimin’s head lowered further. Namjoon rolled the car window down an inch, just in time to hear the older man guffaw, “Thought I’d let them get a taste, you know? Good practice. This one here – “ he grabbed the dark-haired boy’s elbow and gave it a shake – “he’s got a bloodlust. The other one plays along well too.”

 

“Go on then. Show us what you got, kids,” one of the others sneered, hawking up a inordinate amount of phlegm mixed with tobacco and spitting it on the ground at Jimin’s feet.

 

He didn’t shrink back and stood his ground. Namjoon felt weirdly proud of him for it. The other young man gave him a sharp slap on the back and motioned with his head. The pair of them disappeared through the doors of the casino. There was nothing much to watch until they returned fifteen minutes later. But there was plenty to hear. Namjoon winced as he heard the crashing of furniture, the screams and then the steady thunk thunk thunk of a chair being slammed against someone’s back. That was a sound he knew well. When it finally splintered and broke, there was silence. The tall young man walked out first, his suit sleeves rolled up, his knuckles bloodied, his hair ruffled and a sadistic leer on his face. Jimin scurried behind, clutching a silver briefcase in his hands, wide-eyed but not as frightened as might have been expected.

 

“Jesus, kid, what kind of shit have you gotten into?” Namjoon muttered.

 

Protection money. He knew enough of the mafia-related activities that were steadily profitable to know what this was. But he had never seen something quite as hideous as the look of utter satisfaction on the face of Jimin’s partner as he buttoned his cuffs up. Whoever he was, he breathed and lived for violence. Namjoon had seen plenty criminals like that. The ones who could not help being immoral, as if an integral piece of their moral compass had never been attached during their creation process. Knowing Jimin was consorting with such people again made him sick to the stomach. The kid was a high school dropout and had openly mentioned being a delinquent iljin but he did not deserve to be in such company.

 

Namjoon watched as he stood to the side, noticeably quiet and holding onto the briefcase for dear life. The other mobsters were having a good laugh at whatever the first kid was saying. It led to him being allowed into the other two casinos down the street to do pretty much the same thing (though the resistance was decidedly less strong – the noise from the first clash had obviously travelled).

The briefcase was handed over to one of the men and Jimin was given a roll of cash in exchange. Daily salary, perhaps. The older man who had accompanied both him and the other male whispered something in his ear and Jimin nodded fervently. He pocketed the cash and turned to walk down the street alone. Namjoon remained stationary, watching the signal flash and the coordinates start to flash and flicker, changing as Jimin walked further and further away.

 

You should be using burner phones, kid. With a police record and now a budding career in extortion, he should most certainly have gotten rid of the number logged in the system. Namjoon was not foolish enough to think it was mere carelessness on Jimin’s part. The kid was too smart for that, at least from what Namjoon had gauged in their short acquaintance.

 

Once Jimin was a few blocks away, Namjoon started up the car. The young man with blood stained knuckles turned sharply at the sound of the engine. The others didn’t notice. Namjoon glanced in his rear view mirror to see the dark-haired man’s face was still turned in the direction of his retreating car. He shuddered and looked away, focusing on the road.

 

Jimin’s destination was about a ten minute walk away. Namjoon ended up having to park his car because the speed at which he would have had to go was ridiculously lax. The kid didn’t look left, right or backwards. He wasn’t expecting to be followed. He only seemed to be in a hurry to get home. At least that was what Namjoon assumed the apartment block was. Somehow, he doubted Jimin was being sent to carry out any errand on his own after his lacklustre display. Holding the briefcase without dropping it had been the only highlight of his performance.

 

It looked like it was the end of his “stakeout”. Jimin had disappeared through the front doors of the shabby complex a few minutes ago. Namjoon stood on the street mulling his options over. He wasn’t supposed to be playing lone wolf. He had expressly promised both the sergeant and Dean.

 

“For fuck’s sake,” he muttered, stamping a foot on the ground as he shivered from a cold blast of northern wind. He considered calling Dean just to make his next planned action somewhat legitimate. But as per usual, lack of common sense won out. Namjoon steeled his jaw and went up the steps.

 

All it took was 57000 won to make the desk clerk give him the apartment number. 404. It was on the third floor, a penthouse apartment if such a phrase could be used for the decrepit mess of a building. Squalor coated every inch and the smell was indescribable. He passed one door which surely had a dead body hidden in the apartment beyond. The stench leaking out into the hallway was suffocating.

 

By the time 404 showed up, Namjoon’s skin was a little greener and his stomach thoroughly unsettled. He would have paused to think over it some more if the smell in the hallway hadn’t been so disgusting. Without any contemplation whatsoever, he rapped on the door, breathing through his mouth. It took just under a minute for footsteps to draw nearer. There was a pause – Namjoon knew Jimin was looking through the spy glass – and he turned his face to stare directly at it. He had a feeling Jimin wouldn’t ignore a cop standing right outside his door. Especially not one he recognised.

 

He didn’t. The door swung open and Namjoon almost laughed. Jimin’s face was calm, a still picture of serenity, as if he hadn’t just taken part in an illegal activity that could put him away for years. He blinked at Namjoon as if he were an interesting ant under a magnifying glass. If only he had shown such cool arrogance in front of his criminal buddies, perhaps he would have gained their respect like the other one had.

 

Just like he hadn’t foreseen coming up here and actually coming face-to-face with the boy, Namjoon didn’t know what he was about to say. He let his tongue go on auto pilot.

 

“I thought I told you to run and never look back, Park Jimin.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“He needs to get his act together if he thinks he’s going to be getting anywhere,” Ahn growled through clenched teeth as Jimin turned the corner of the street and disappeared from view.

 

Taehyung tore his eyes away from the black sedan that had caught his attention and laughed shortly. “He will. Don’t you worry about that.” Ahn looked at him warily. The insinuated threat was tangible in Taehyung’s voice and the older man decided to drop the subject. He didn’t care what Jimin might suffer at Taehyung’s hands for not being up to par, and he certainly didn’t care to know. His only wish was to stay as far from the pair of them as possible and avoid any implication when one of them inevitably slipped up and landed on Mother’s chopping block.

 

“I have shit to do,” Taehyung announced suddenly, addressing the group of thugs. From the corner of his eye, he saw Ahn’s face become taut with tension. He was taking a risk addressing them informally. He had also taken a risk addressing Yoongi informally for the first time. And a mere week later, he had the older man naked and his cock lodged halfway down his throat. There was something to be said for displaying dominance when there were chinks in the armour. And these illiterate, uncouth fuckers were about as beta as they came; mere pawns dressed expensively and fooling themselves into thinking they were somebody on the bloodstained ladder of Seoul’s criminal underworld.

 

Only one of them puffed out his chest and strutted forward, sizing Taehyung up with his eyes as he exhaled, unleashing a puff of nicotine-tinged breath into his face. “Oh yeah? And what shit might that be?”

 

“Your mom. Seems like last night wasn’t enough for her,” Taehyung scowled. He fucking hated poor dental hygiene.  The gangster’s hand came up, no doubt to grab his neck, but his companion pulled his arm back with an amused guffaw.

 

“Leave the kid alone. He’s just tryna’ show some balls.”

 

“Balls? Don’t look like they’ve dropped yet,” the first one snarled, but he drew back.

 

“With that voice, they’re probably hanging down by his ankles. Why don’t you show him, pretty boy? Let him see if your balls are as pretty as your face,” another one sniggered.

 

“Only if you promise to get them wet first,” Taehyung shot back, eliciting another round of raucous laughter. He watched in thinly veiled disgust as they howled. Dick jokes constituted the height of their intellect. He could almost feel individual cells in his brain committing Hara-kiri, the longer he stood amongst them.

 

Ahn nodded for him to leave, his smile tightly wound and very obviously fake. Taehyung bowed with a begrudging mutter of, “Uncle,” to tighten the façade and retraced Jimin’s steps back down the street. He wasn’t headed back home. Ahn had given him Hwasa’s address earlier and Taehyung had failed, on purpose, to let Jimin in on it. He did not know why he was choosing to blindside the kid, he only knew he would continue to do so whenever he could. Simply put, Taehyung didn’t trust the pouty-lipped, rosy-cheeked, sparkly-eyed bastard. Not anymore. He would have been much happier had Yoongi kept him as a sex slave back in Busan and denied Taehyung’s initial request to take him along. Because Taehyung would never have gone back on his own decision. Not in front of Yoongi.

 

Jealousy is a bitch. Taehyung shuddered as his own mind betrayed him with the snide little comment. The memory of Yoongi’s face when he first laid eyes on Jimin rose unbidden. It reminded him of how he’d looked when Taehyung had entered his service. A long, searing look of appreciation from head to toe, his dark eyes holding only one sentiment: desire. Taehyung’s reaction had been nowhere near as awkward as Jimin’s. He had straight up ignored Yoongi’s obvious lust until he was in his bed with no idea how he got there, or the presence of mind to even care. Up till then, it had been the occasional short flings with women and even shorter one-night stands with male escorts. Yoongi was the first long-term male relationship.

 

Taehyung barked with laughter, startling an old woman walking her granddaughter home from school. The pair of them huddled to the other end of the pavement. He often forgot how obviously antagonistic he looked with the suit, the shades and the tattoos on his hands.

 

Yoongi wasn’t a relationship. Yoongi was an investment contributing towards a future greater than Taehyung had ever dreamed of back on his grandmother’s strawberry farm. Jealousy was a non-factor.

 

Hwasa’s apartment was more expensive than the one Ahn had put them up in. She was only twenty-five, a child compared to her much older husband. But prostitutes in Geomjeong-pa’s rings usually ended up dead after a five year career so it appeared her investment had done her plenty of good.

 

She was even more stunning in person, all curves and golden skin and feline eyes that made Taehyung’s cock twitch in his trousers. Their sultry quality was identical to Jimin’s, with eyeliner for added effect. Taehyung swallowed, willing his boner down. A beautiful woman was one thing. He didn’t need to feed his erection the Viagra that was the mental image of Jimin’s face, contorted in pleasure no less.

 

“Ahn Hwasa?”

 

She looked him up and down, scoffed and then abruptly smiled, sweet as sin, holding out her hand. “And you must be Kim Taehyung. Il Sung said you were the skull-crusher.”

 

Taehyung took her hand in his, engulfing her thin fingers between his own with a droll smile. “What gave it away? I’ve been told I look far too good to be as violent as you’re insinuating.”

 

Hwasa beamed. “I love that you said that with a straight face. I like a good liar. But it would have been far more convincing if you’d cleaned the dried-up blood on your knuckles first.” She ran the pad of her thumb over the crusted scarlet imprinted over the back of his hand. Taehyung stared at is as if he’d never seen it before and then flashed an innocent grin up at her.

 

“There’s a washroom to your right,” she drawled, her hips swaying with every step back down the hallway. “Clean up and then join me in the dining room.”

 

Taehyung shut the front door behind him and after a moment’s pause, locked it. She didn’t notice. Once he was in the washroom, he checked the bullet chamber of his gun and took the safety off. He knew he was playing with fire every time he stuck it back in his holster with the safety removed. It didn’t bother him in the slightest. He liked a good game of chance.

 

The bathroom was filled with the usual things he might have expected an expensive escort to have stashed away. Toiletries with prices that were sheer ridiculousness to a man who had grown up using bars of soap for shampoo. There was no sign of a male presence. Ahn obviously didn’t stay over. Marriage of convenience perhaps. Taehyung opened the medicine cabinet and let out a soft breath. Bottles upon bottles of prescription drugs, the labels written in English. Imports. He reached into the back where a tightly sealed package sat – no doubt cocaine – and his hand hit the end of the cabinet. The sound it made was hollow. It was a false back. He ran his fingers over the veneer wood, searching for any false give in the surface. Before he could, there was a gentle tap on the door.

 

“Are you masturbating in there or something? I haven’t got all day, you know.”

 

“Coming,” he called, hurriedly rubbing the blood off his knuckles, barely pausing to use hand wash. Hwasa grimaced when she saw the mess created by the splashing of the water, but she didn’t comment, crooking a finger for him to follow.

 

Her apartment was nice, all things considered. She obviously had a strange sense of style, half inspired by Pinterest and the other half just…weird. His kind of weird. A ram’s skull hung on the wall above a painting by Van Gogh, girdled by dreamcatchers and fairy lights. Blood red candles flickered on the walls and blackout curtains blocked out the sun to leave the entire place looking like an oracle’s wet dream. It smelled of incense and jasmine and cedarwood, overpowering to the point where his head hurt.

 

“I think you need to open your windows some more,” He muttered, sinking into a velvet backed chair at the dining table which stood on legs carved in the shape of wood nymphs.

 

“Too much for you?” Hwasa smirked, but she did as he suggested and parted the curtains just a tad before throwing open a window. Taehyung made sure his sunglasses were still set on record and dropped them on the table before him, facing her as she took a seat opposite.

 

“Where’s the other one?” she asked. “Il Sung said you two were a package deal.”

 

“He can’t stomach violence too well. I sent him home,” Taehyung answered, gesturing to his hands where just moments ago, blood had been drying.

 

“That’s not an ideal trait for a mobster.”

 

“He isn’t. But he’s clever. And he pauses to uses his brain. I’ll be the first to admit I don’t do that as often as I should.”

 

“No. Because you have physical advantages,” she murmured. She lapsed into silence, choosing to stare at him. Her eyes were piercing. One long jewelled fingernail rimmed the edge of the wine glass that sat before her and she nibbled on her ruby-red bottom lip before offering him a drink too. Taehyung shook his head. That bathroom cabinet was no fucking joke and some of those bottles had definitely had their contents end up in a few alcoholic drinks, he was sure of it.

 

“So, why are you here then, Mr Kim? I thought Il Sung gave you everything you needed to know.”

 

“It was shit all,” Taehyung scoffed, “he’s unwilling to talk, and I don’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to have anything to do with two strangers turning up and jeopardising my career as a spy in a rival gang. He probably envisions his death every time he sees the pair of us.”

 

“Il Sung has mentioned his…qualms about the situation,” Hwasa conceded. “And after the death of Mother’s Trio, even ordinary Geomjeong-pa thugs are on tenterhooks.”

 

Taehyung sat up slightly. “I heard about that. The way they died. Someone really hated them, huh?”

 

Hwasa swallowed and turned a little pale. “I know it’s laughable to talk about morality when you’re part of a syndicate such as this, but there are some lines that just aren’t there to cross.  I’ve never heard of anything like the way they were murdered.”

 

I have.

 

“Any ideas on who it could be?”

 

She shook her head. “I presume that would be your objective to find out. My husband and I are not here to collect information on the higher ranks. We’re meant to stay hidden in the grassroots.”

 

Taehyung decided to change the subject before the red creeping up on the corners of his vision threatened to overtake it completely. Jimin was onto something with the way he used his head. Taehyung sometimes felt he had very little control over his own. The smallest triggers set off bouts of dark recollection that then manifested in a violent rage, consuming him whole until he unleashed it through physical means.

 

“Tell me about the necklace. I don’t get what it’s supposed to symbolise, and I don’t care. But Yoongi’s got a thing for collecting pretty trinkets,” he said.

 

“I can see that,” Hwasa said, side-eyeing him as she leaned over to the shelves behind her chair. She removed a velvet box and dusted it off before opening it and retrieving a newspaper clipping. She slid it across the table.

 

PARKS PERISH IN BLAZE DESTROYING MANSION WORTH BILLIONS

 

It struck him as odd that despite the presence of human victims, the house was given an honorary mention, as if it were something to mourn equally, if not more. The photograph on the front page that took up most of the space was also of the house. Two smaller photographs showed the Parks in question: a hard-faced gentleman with a mouth inclined towards scowling and a woman that was preternaturally beautiful. Separately, her features were mismatched and not typically attractive – a rather hooked nose with a bridge unusual amongst Koreans, wide-set, slanted eyes and a full mouth, very unlike the desired scarlet rosebud that most Korean women aspired to. And yet all the features combined made her so attractive, Taehyung knew he wouldn’t forget her face even if he never saw it again.

 

“That’s Jo Ara,” Hwasa mentioned, when she saw his gaze linger on the woman. “Wife of Park Jiwon and original owner of the Jewel of Busan. It was named for her since she was a Busan native herself.”

 

“Daughter-in-law to the richest chaebol in the history of South Korea, huh? I bet that necklace wasn’t even worth anything to her,” Taehyung said.

 

Hwasa smiled placidly, leaning over to study the photograph. “She was from a farmer’s family, you know. Prostituted herself on street corners when Park Jiwon decided to have her as a kept woman. And they tell you Cinderella stories are homespun twaddle.  He ended up marrying her despite the express protests of his parents but that’s where the fairytale ends. He was a hedonist and extremely stupid on top of that, a very bad combination for the future CEO of a company that formed a third of the nation’s economy. Terrible investments, poor business skills and debauchery led to him draining the coffers until they weren’t as bottomless as they used to be, though there was still a disgustingly large net worth against the Park name. Kim Jaehyun – that would be Mother’s father – offered to partner with him to save the steady decline of the chaebol’s profits and in return, he wanted Jiwon’s political influence and contacts. He needed them to grow the fledgling Geomjeong-pa and help it escape Inagawa-Kai’s chokehold. The Park chaebol is quite literally the reason Geomjeong-pa is prevalent in Seoul in a way no other gang has ever been. Ara wasn’t the only rags-to-riches story Jiwon facilitated.”

 

“And then what? He pissed off Kim Jaehyun and suddenly he’s dead? Where did all the money go?”

 

“The Parks – and I’m including his wife in this, because Ara grew into the wings given to her – wanted greater influence in the mafia and Jiwon pushed for it relentlessly. They treated it like a commodity, something to distract them from the mundanity of living a life of utter luxury. It’s always the richest people who love getting down and dirty. And it caught up to them. In 2011, they were dead, their house razed to the ground in a fire and their charred corpses, along with the body of their thirteen year old son, were recovered from the ruins. The fire department took an extraordinarily long time to turn up that day.”

 

“So, where’s the picture of their kid?” he asked.

 

“There are no photographs of him that survived or were recovered. He was kept hidden away and isolated from the media with prejudice. The papers reported him as being named Christian Park and there was never any mention of a Korean name. The heir died with the parents and all the offshore accounts Jaehyun had created to drain away and store the last of Jiwon’s money were filled to the brim with half of it. The other half went to the government just before the stock market crash of late 2011. I’m sure the last bit didn’t bother Geomjeong-pa in the slightest. Better business in terms of moneylending and investments. Mother became head of the syndicate in early 2012 and her father stepped down, only to die a month later.”

 

“She probably had him put down,” Taehyung muttered, shifting in his chair. His butt was falling asleep. He hated being seated for too long. It was either standing or lying down, there was no in between.

 

“But yes, that is the history behind that necklace. Two very greedy, very foolish people,” Hwasa finished. “The husband paid millions for the necklace of an Indian maharaja and made it a national Korean treasure. You can’t make this stuff up.”

 

“And now Yoongi wants it.” Even as he said it, he couldn’t help but picture the emeralds lying flush against the hollow of Yoongi’s porcelain throat. He imagined his teeth snagging on the jewels, salty with Yoongi’s sweat as he fucked him into the headboard and heard his husky voice switch from whispers of encouragement to broken screams. How wonderful he would look wearing nothing but that necklace as he knelt before Taehyung, eyes lowered and submissive in a way Yoongi never was. Taehyung liked playing against peoples’ natures. Hell, he would steal that necklace if only to choke his lover with it. It didn’t seem like such a burdensome task after all.

 

“Somehow, I can’t believe you just came here to listen to a story about the Parks,” Hwasa said suddenly, getting to her feet.

 

Taehyung’s hand slid up his thigh, pushing the jacket to the side and brushing the warm leather of his holster. Hwasa saw the slight movement and she smiled crookedly, one high cheekbone lifting in an expression of thinly veiled scorn.

 

“Relax. As lean as you are, I still wouldn’t be able to take you in a fair fight. And I have no reason to either. Yet.” She enunciated the ‘t’ in a delightfully succinct smack of her tongue against her roof and Taehyung’s face melted into a smile. Hwasa bit her lip, eyes lingering on his face for a moment before heading to the kitchen and offering something to eat over her shoulder. He declined, and she once again asked why he was really there.

 

“I wanted to see you in the flesh. You know, check you for signs of domestic abuse, see how you were living. Find reasons not to trust your husband.”

 

“I suppose you’re the sort who judges men by the way they treat their women, huh? It’s not an accurate scale of measurement, my love. Though judging by the rumours about you and Master Min, you haven’t dealt with the realm of females for a while.”

 

Taehyung moved across the carpet, his footsteps silent. He was in the kitchen, behind her, before she even had time to turn around. His hand came up to clench her throat, tipping her chin back until she was choking, her head pressed against tight against his shoulder.

 

“See, don’t do that,” he whispered in her ear.

 

“Do what?” she managed to get out past the crushing weight on her larynx. He could feel her jugular fluttering against his palm. Her lashes fluttered in terror.

 

“Don’t be so...blasé, when you mention his name in the same breath as my own. You’re a clever girl. You should know rumours get you killed.”

 

Perhaps she thought this was her last day alive. Or perhaps she was just recklessly brave.

 

“Why? Is it a ‘no homo’ sort of situation? I don’t tend to believe rumours, my love, but the moment I saw your face I just knew there’s a grain of truth there. It’s designed for both sexes to adore.” And then she laughed, a sweet, scintillating sound that came out so pretty, even though she was being choked half to death. Taehyung decided to finish the job, letting the scarlet fogging his brain take over.

 

He gripped her body against him tight, hand clenching on her neck with a firmer, more decisive hold. She began to make short, squeaky sounds as her face turned completely red and then slowly began to flush into a flattering shade of plum. Taehyung wondered if she had enough presence of mind to feel his erection digging into her ass. He wondered if her last thoughts were about what a sicko he was, how disgusting he was. Things he already knew. It turned him on even more to know there was no way in hell she couldn’t feel how hard he was.

 

The doorbell rang.

 

Taehyung abruptly let her go and Hwasa fell to the ground on her hands and knees, gasping and shaking like a fish out of water.

 

“Quite literally saved by the bell,” he chuckled darkly, lifting the palm of his hand to sniff it. Her perfume clung to it, a heavenly aftertaste. “Go and answer the door. Speak a word of this to Ahn and I’ll kill you both.”

 

She said nothing. He knew she believed him. The seductive, confident air was gone. She didn’t meet his eyes as she clambered to her feet and struggled to still the trembling of her limbs. She took a deep breath and wiped the tears from her cheeks, fanning herself a little and blinking a couple times to clear her vision. Taehyung stayed in the kitchen, listening as he heard a man’s voice at the door. He expected the visitor to leave, but the footsteps followed in behind Hwasa’s heels.

 

“I have an appointment,” she said to Taehyung in a clipped tone as she drifted back into sight. “Mingyu, I’ll be upstairs in a minute.”

 

Just behind her was a young man, tall, with hair so jet black it was almost tinged blue. His eyes fixed on Taehyung and his features flickered with suspicion and envy before wiping clean. He looked young enough to be jealous over his favourite prostitute consorting with other men. Taehyung grinned, and the kid scowled, muttering something in Hwasa’s ear before pushing past her to go up to the bedroom. She turned to Taehyung.

 

“Why are you still here? Planning on watching? It’ll cost you,” she said, calm and collected once more.

 

Taehyung’s tongue snaked over his teeth and he shook his head, reaching for his holster. Hwasa flinched, her back connecting with the wall. But he merely put the safety back on and repocketed it.

 

“You’ve got guts that you have no business having. I like you,” he said.

 

He leaned into kiss her and she recoiled. Taehyung paused, and then dropped the kiss on her cheek anyway. Fear mixed with Dior perfume – he could get used to that lovely smell.

 

“Give Mingyu a real good time. Looks like his balls still need to drop,” he leered.

 

He heard her hiss an expletive under her breath as he left, slamming the door behind him.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jungkook's apartment complex was located in the centre of Gangnam-gu, on the penthouse level, a chrome and glass architectural marvel. For a child with dubious parentage and no confirmed relation to Mother, he was doing well in life.

 

 Choi had not failed to tail him from the moment he left the warehouse, and he was now standing outside the bathroom door when Jungkook went to shower. Usually, Jungkook had to make an appointment four days in advance to see Mother. He had felt the last breath escape Jang a mere day and a half ago and here he was, being summoned already. How times changed. Had he known it took murdering her favourite goons to get her attention, he would have done it a lot sooner.

 

The blood had gotten into every crevice of his body. He’d just finished cleaning clogs of scarlet from under his fingernails when he found more, lodged between his toes.  The stuff had soaked through the mesh of his trainers. They obviously weren't worth the 600,000 won he'd paid for them. His hand brushed his penis as he scrubbed himself down and a smirk painted his plush pink lips. After the shock was over, there was no denying it. Some deep part of him had been aroused by the killing. Jungkook had never experienced arousal through sadism before. Perhaps it was just a fluke. Or maybe not. Maybe hurting people was an extension of his sexual tastes. Not that he would know until he finally fucked someone.

 

Am I seriously saving myself for Park Jimin?

 

The thought made him laugh in disbelief, head knocked back against the tiles. Ridiculous. But not according to his penis. The very thought of Jimin brought about familiar stirrings in his crotch and he couldn’t help but grip his member in his hand, slowly stroking it to it’s full thick length. His mind wandered to images of Jimin's pale skin stained with blood. Whether it was his or someone else's, Jungkook did not care. He just had memories of how Jimin whined at the tiniest of things – tripping over his own feet, getting paper cuts- and he transplanted them into his dirty fantasies. He wanted Jimin to whimper like that with Jungkook's cock stuffed so far up his perfect ass, that he could taste it in his mouth. Harder, faster, rougher until –

 

 

“A-a-aahh-uunnhhh!!” Jungkook gasps stuttered, levelling out into a drawn-out moan. White, warm liquid spilled over his fingers which were wrapped in a death grip around the sensitive head of his cock. He jerked it off, furiously milking every last drop with a contorted expression  and Jimin's pouty lips panting for breath in his mind's eye.

 

His legs were still weak when he stepped out of the bathroom, swathed in a robe with his hair lying flat on his head. Choi didn’t look at him – though it was obvious he had heard Jungkook moaning Jimin’s name over and over – and gestured towards the sofa. He had laid out a suit – black of course, Mother’s signature colour- and told him to get dressed.

 

“You’re not my dad,” Jungkook muttered, pushing past.

 

“After your little display, I wouldn’t wish to be,” Choi answered, rather than stay stoic and silent as Jungkook had predicted.

 

“You should be proud of a kid that took after you so well,” Jungkook sneered, stripping off his gown. He considered a Choi a nonentity and had no qualms about being naked before him.

 

“However immoral and cruel a man may be, most will still be thankful for a pure and good-hearted child. So, no, Master Jeon, a child such as yourself would ill suit me.”

 

Jungkook did not have a response. Choi's face was a mask, eyes as hollow and black as ever. Jungkook wondered if Mommy would have been proud of him. He doubted it. She was far too good a person to deserve the sort of son he turned out to be. But he would have treated her well had she survived, he knew that much.  

 

The Mercedes was waiting, and he slid into the back. The drive to Mother's condominium was a ten minute one and it was silent. Lisa texted him briefly saying she was going out of the country for a while. Jungkook immediately texted back.

 

Nothing is going to happen to you. I’ll make sure of it. Pass the message onto Mingyu and Yugyeom.

 

Her answer was nothing short of cynical.

 

Worry about yourself.

 

Jungkook gritted his teeth and suppressed a grunt of annoyance. How did Mother make all these unruly thugs obey her? If he had only a smidgen of the authority she commanded, Jungkook was sure his life would be easier. He knew if Lisa wanted to return  to Thailand, there was nothing he could do to stop her. The girl was a wild card and came from a rich Thai family. She could afford to hide away under Daddy’s wing until the hurricane blew over. But Yugyeom and Mingyu could not and her leaving would unsettle them. Selflessness did not come easy to Jungkook but then again, neither did friends. He decided that he would take double the punishment owed to him if it meant his friends were assured true safety.

 

The condominium had an underground garage but some of Mother’s vehicular trinkets could be seen beyond the gates. A matte red Lamborghini Aventador, a sleek grey Porsche and Mother’s ride of choice, a glossy black Rolls Royce Phantom VIII. Jungkook had been allowed to drive it only once and it was the automotive version of Mt Olympus, a car built for the gods. Fitting, considering the god complex of its owner.

 

Neatly designed gardens with clean cut rockeries and fountains topped by classical statues welcomed him as the gates swung open. The air hung heavy with the sweet smell of honeysuckle and oranges. In the distance, a peacock cooed. There were two white tigers kept in the grounds though there was no sound or sight of them. But it was the grand entrance hall that truly tore down the pretentiousness of anyone stupid enough to think they could walk into Mother's house with their head held high. The floor was transparent, made of shockproof glass that was six feet thick. The building housing the entrance hall jutted out from the rest of the complex due to it being built over a gigantic tank underneath. Only thirty by fifty feet of the tank could be seen, but it was far bigger.

 

Jungkook watched his reflection stare back at him on the glass. His footsteps did nothing to disturb the water below. It was still. Where are you?  Choi walked behind and even his eyes were roving over the floor. Jungkook smiled. Everyone, no matter how long they had known Mother were put in their place once they walked through hall.

 

The water did not ripple as much as it tore smoothly in two, a glassy sheet of liquid. Jungkook felt his breath whoosh out of his lungs as a shadow passed under him, a streamlined monstrosity. Other mobsters kept leopards, at the most, tigers. Mother had a shark.

 

“There you are...” Jungkook murmured, watching its tail disappear towards the eastern end until the floor was an interrupted shade of blue again, set aglow by lights on all sides of the tank. Maybe Mother meant to feed him to her pet. It would be an interesting way to die that was for sure.

 

Two guard stood outside the double doors at the end of the hall. Mother’s office was situated at the end of a long corridor behind them. But Jungkook was denied admittance almost instantly. The bigger man held out a hand telling him to halt and the other handed him a folded piece if paper.

 

“Mother has denied you entry until you give her the correct answer to this riddle.”

 

Of course. It always happened this way for him. She had never failed to get rid of this annoying security measure that was exclusively for Jungkook. Usually, it was a difficult maths problem and Jungkook suffered alone. A riddle was a first. He signed and opened the paper, eyes scanning it.

 

I can be found in water, but never wet. What am I?

 

He immediately pulled out his phone, only to have it confiscated by one of the guards, with a stolid shake of his head. Jungkook's ears turned red with anger as the realisation hit him. He was going to be here a while.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There wasn’t much to indicate Jimin wasn’t living alone in the tiny flat. Nothing except for the extra pair of significantly larger shoes lined up beside his trainers on the rack stand. The apartment was suspiciously free of personal items but that was hardly surprising. Most kids recruited into a gang’s lower subdivision lived in places like this with the assumption that they would soon move up. It smelt of damp and mould and Namjoon couldn’t help but feel sorry for the young man. Jimin had ahis face that seemed to suggest he was made for better things. Much good it was doing him. And if one was to go only by faces, then the handsome psycho back at the casino also deserved to live somewhere better than this.

 

“You can come in,” Jimin’s voice was quiet with its invitation, stepping back to allow Namjoon forward.

 

Namjoon nodded his head tersely and stepped through the door, making sure to take off his shoes. Jimin murmured something about it not being necessary but he didn’t press the issue.

 

“Would you like some tea? Or coffee? I brought a whole bunch of things from the grocery store, but I can’t remember what,” the younger male laughed awkwardly as he went to the kitchen.

 

Namjoon saw his hand go to his pocket.

 

“You don’t have to play housewife and I’m not here to arrest you. And you certainly don’t need to call the other one,” he said.

 

Jimin turned, and there were keys in his hands. His expression hardened. “I wasn’t going to. Once he found out you were a cop, that man would rip your heart from your ribcage without skipping a beat. We don’t need that sort of barbarity here.”

 

Namjoon chuckled, lowering himself gingerly onto the dodgy looking couch. It was most definitely not the same colour it had been when new. He mentioned a desire for tea and three minutes later, Jimin set before him a very badly made cup. It was pale beige and chock full of milk. But he took a sip to be polite, wagged his eyebrows in appreciation and hurriedly set it down.

 

“You never answered my initial statement, Park Jimin,” he said.

 

“Run and never come back? It’s Seoul. Of course, I had to come back at some point,” Jimin said with a delicate shrug. He sat with a dancer’s posture – back straight, chin lifted, toes pointed – with one leg crossed over the other.

 

“I’m assuming you thought it was safe to return now that Mother’s Trio are dead, but – “

 

“Dead?”

 

Namjoon cocked his head. “You didn’t know?”

 

Jimin’s composure was gone. His legs uncrossed, and his hands tightened on the arms of his chair, lashes fluttering against his cheekbones. He swallowed, hard. Namjoon was trained to see even the most minute changes in a person’s body to gauge their true state of mind. He had interviewed sociopaths who were adept at fooling even the best of lie detectors the department had at it’s disposal. Jimin was nothing like them.

 

“I didn’t,” he admitted. “Though I can’t say I care. Who is the person we should be awarding a bravery medal to?”

 

“We don’t know,” Namjoon said. “But as you can imagine, I was surprised to find you returned to Seoul at practically the same time. Their deaths are suspected to be an inside job and you never did give me a clear answer about whether you were a member of Geomjeong-pa or not.”

 

Namjoon didn’t mean anything by what he said. He in no way believed Jimin was an actual suspect in the murders of Jang, Lee and Woo. But the easily read face was a dead giveaway for any other forms of secrets the boy might have been hiding. And the more unsettled he got, the more he looked like a kicked puppy.

 

“I saw what your partner did back at the casinos,” Namjoon said. “I don’t think you need me to tell you that you’re in perpetual danger the longer you stick by him. Is he Geomjeong-pa?”

 

Jimin nodded shakily.

 

“And you? Wait, why am I even asking, of course you are.”

 

“I'm just doing random errands. He’s my cousin and said I should do it if I wanted some extra cash. And I really do, so -"

 

“Who was the older gentleman with you?”

 

“My uncle.”

 

“You told me you had no family.”

 

“Why would I trust a cop?”

 

“Fair point. Well, it’s all very cosy. A real family affair.”

 

“Why are you even here? You obviously don’t have a search warrant.”

 

“Didn’t think you two would be stupid enough to stash contraband here. I just wanted to see how you were doing, Jimin.”

 

The boy's eyes narrowed, lower lip jutting out just the tiniest bit in a swollen pout. “I'm fine. Now unless you’ve got reason to suspect me in relation to an actual crime, stop stalking me or I’ll report you.”

 

“I suppose I should be thankful you care about me enough not to sell me out to your fireball of a cousin, huh? Namjoon murmured, sarcasm dripping from every syllable. Before Jimin could answer, he got to his feet, zipping up the front of his jacket. “I will be watching you, so try not to trip up and fall into something that’ll land you a lifetime behind bars.”

 

“Am I supposed to be flattered you care so much?” Jimin sneered, angrily marching over to the front door and swinging it open. He jabbed a thumb towards the exit.

 

Namjoon smiled, dimples indenting the soft tan skin of his cheeks. He paused halfway through the door and turned to look down at Jimin.

 

“One last thing. Have you heard from Mother at all?” he inquired.

 

Jimin's eyes transformed from narrow slits of anger, to wide and nervous once again. “Why the hell would I hear from Mother?”

 

Namjoon shook his head, the surreptitious little smile on his face broadening as he turned to leave. “No reason.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Four hours.

 

Four fucking hours Jungkook sat there on the ground, watching the shark cut lines through the tank underneath. Jungkook had picked her name five years ago when Mother had first gotten her. It was when he was bang in the middle of his Game of Thrones obsession. The shark's name was Cersei, named so for his favourite character on the show. He supposed it was slightly odd for a sixteen year old boy to fancy the hell out of a murderous, incestuous queen but then again, maybe he was just trying to send Mother a message.

 

He lay down after the second hour passed, ignoring the strange looks shot at him by people passing through. Choi was long gone.

 

I can be found in water, but never wet. What am I?

 

“My....dick,” Jungkook said aloud, circling his hand and pretending it was a telescope as he scanned the ceiling. He lifted his head and eyed the two guards. “Don’t suppose you two would know the answer, would you?”

 

They didn’t even look his way. He huffed and his head fell back on the ground with a thunk.  Jungkook flipped over and ran a finger over the transparent floor. Cersei swam back into view. He wondered if she was even aware she was being watched. Could she sense it? He didn’t know much about animals – Didn’t care to – but big ones that could swallow people whole fascinated him. He fantasised often about what it would look like to see a shark devour a human. In fact, Jungkook was surprised Mother had not already punished insubordinates via this method. A whole audience could be gathered up here to watch.

 

“Can I call a friend? It’s been four hours already,” he called to the guards.

 

No response. Jungkook slammed his fist on the ground and sprang to his feet. As he did, he caught sight of the double displayed on the glass. The blue of the water perfectly reflected back his own image. Jungkook's eyebrows lowered and he bit on the inside of his cheek to keep a fresh surge of annoyance from lighting up his head. He always got terrible migraines whenever he got too angry. But this was just fuckin taking the piss.

 

“Reflection. My fucking reflection,” he snapped to the sentries manning the doors. “Let me through.”

 

The bigger one pressed his earpiece and muttered the answer into it. A second later, he nodded tersely and drew back from the doors. Jungkook spat a curse and shoved his way through. Large strides echoed through the hall, the polished heels of his shoes battering out a fierce staccato against the marble floors. The interior of Mother’s house was clinical, with a touch of Yayoi Kusama. Monochromatic polka dots marked out a vivid display of a twisted human figure on the walls lining the corridor that led to Mother’s office. Silver gargoyle heads exploded from the corners of the ceiling, little demons crouching in the shadows. It was a catastrophic clash of minimalism and gothic architecture. At least Jungkook thought so. But then again, he was not the one with a shark housed under his fucking entrance hall so he wasn’t about to voice his opinions any time soon.

 

Two guards in white suits patted him down briefly before letting him through a pair of sliding chrome doors. Beyond that was a small antechamber, furnished with dimly lit lamps and two wide backed chairs. Jungkook stood still on the literal ‘X’ that marked the centre spot and held out his arms. Scanners attached to the ceiling, floor and walls emitted red laser beams which traced up and down his body. Jeon Jungkook, a sultry female voice announced over speakers in the office beyond. Access granted.

 

Only two other people had access to Mother’s office when she was not there. The guards were not permitted to allow in anyone who was not stored in the security scanner’s logs in her absence. Not that Jungkook had ever dared to trespass in her office, despite knowing full well the guards would allow him in. Mother had a very bad habit of letting her female white tiger live in there and Jungkook was not about to be the person who shot dead her second favourite pet for attacking him.

 

The door to the office slid upwards, revealing the gargantuan, circular expanse of office behind it. The skin of a polar bear was sprawled beside the electric fireplace to the right, there to be a makeshift rug. Jungkook still refused to believe it actually came off of a land predator that size but he knew it was nothing for Geomjeong-Pa to import something like that. Columns lined the walls, half embedded in with blue lights set into niches going down their length. The entirety of the floor was of a reflective surface and the ceiling was transparent, the night sky visible from end to end. It was the strangest, most unsettling and yet utterly dazzling room Jungkook had ever been inside.

 

And the strangest most dazzling thing in it sat at the far end, behind a stainless steel desk that curved like a boomerang.

 

Jungkook had rarely see the man behind the women’s clothes. About three times in total, so even in his mind, she was not a he. And though she wasn’t anywhere close to being the age his mother should have been, it was the easiest thing in the world to call her Mother. She had discarded her usual Victorian gothic get up and was dressed in a hanbok, with a broad brimmed hat on her head, tied under her chin with a ribbon. The attire was in varying shades of purple, from palest lilac to deepest violet. It was soft and pretty, flattering the features of Mother’s face, from her plump lips to her unsettlingly attractive eyes. Had it not been for the broad shoulders, far too broad for any average woman, she would have passed as the opposite sex with brilliant ease. She had chosen to wear a wig today, a simple head of jet black hair tied behind her head in a ponytail. In her arms, almost like an accessory, sat the fattest, grumpiest bitch of a white Persian cat, named Mitsy. Jungkook had named the bitch, back when she was skinnier and far more sweet-tempered. Now, she loathed him almost as much as he loathed her. Her baleful orange eyes followed him suspiciously as he came closer and knelt on the ground.

 

Jungkook bent forward, hands clasped on the ground with his forehead resting on top. He remained low, until he heard the soft whisper of “Rise.”

 

He smoothed out his suit as he did, vainly self-aware of how good he looked in it and anxious not to ruin the overall effect. Outside of this office, grimy tracksuits did him fine. But before Mother, he had an almost childish desire to please and impress. Not that she gave anything away with her expression. She just looked him up and down and scoffed slightly.

 

“I know I made a mistake – “ he started.

 

“Shut up.” And she sealed him off with two off-handed syllables. Mitsy yowled as she was unceremoniously dumped onto the floor. Mother got to her feet, the shuffle of her skirts a lilting rustle as she walked around her desk.

 

Jungkook glanced down at the reflection in the mirrored floor. Anything but to look up into those black eyes. Mother’s hand connected with his cheek, jerking his face back upwards with ferocious strength. The impact was so hard, Jungkook felt his teeth sink into his tongue, drawing the warm, coppery scent of blood in his mouth. The minutes stretched on and neither spoke. Jungkook was honestly too nervous to.

 

“Do you – enjoy  - inconveniencing me?” Mother said.

 

Inconveniencing. Of course. Her favourite trio of executioners were brutally murdered and that was just an inconvenience to her.

 

“I-I’m sorry, Mother, please forgive me,” he whispered, terrified his voice would crack if he spoke even a decibel louder.

 

“You’re sorry,” Mother whispered. “You’re sorry. You are a sorry little fool, Jungkook. I am disappointed. You see, if you had done your job right, you would have uploaded the video live to the dark web and not stored it away to upload later. It’s one thing to go against me. It’s quite another to be stupid about it.”

 

Wait – what?

 

Mother turned, leaving behind the intoxicating smell of her favourite body mist. A tapered finger hit a button on her desk and three gigantic plasma screens emerged from the walls, panels sliding smoothly back. Jungkook recognised the website displayed on each. It had haunted his nightmares the very first time he had delved into the dark web. Red Room. Throw your highest bid and watch a real live victim get tortured to death. A livestream of the chat flickered up the left side of the screen.

 

Misc 23: $200. Break her hand with a hammer.

Misc 36: I raise you $500. Put a drill up there. When she starts screaming, turn it on.

Misc 48: $150. Punch her in the gut. I’m a simple man with simple pleasures. None of the sick, twisted shit.

Misc36: Gtfo, Misc 48, you pussy.

 

On the main screen, a hooded figure rifled through a tool kit on the table in whatever warehouse he was in. There was no telling where in the world he was. He could have been anywhere. The ethnicity of the female appeared to be some kind of European. Her accent as she screamed for help had an Eastern European lilt. She was bound to the chair and not gagged, apparently for the aural benefits of the viewers. The hooded man found a hammer, and at Misc 23’s confirmation that the $200 had come through, nodded and swung it in preparation. Her screams became downright ugly. He swung it up –

 

Mother switched off the screen and turned to Jungkook. He was green in the face.

 

“You tore out a man’s lungs through his back and this makes you queasy?” she said, amusement tinging her voice.

 

“He deserved it, but I’m not a monster,” Jungkook replied. “N-not like whatever the fuck they’re doing – wait, is that you? Does the man work for you?”

 

Mother laughed. “Oh please, if you’re not a monster, neither am I. I don’t personally advocate for the torture of innocent female victims for the sexual pleasure of rich men worldwide. I have more important things to worry about.”

 

“But you realise some of your own men probably are involved in this.”

 

“If they are, they’re cleverer than you because they’ve hidden it from me so long.”

 

“Would you even stop them if you knew?”

 

“Does one take a bone from a dog?”

 

“You do realise they do this to children too?”

 

“I don’t care to traverse these sites in my spare time.”

 

“Oh please, don’t fucking pretend you don’t – “

 

“Watch how you speak to me, young man, or I’ll be live-streaming your tongue being cut from your mouth.”

 

Unwillingly, Jungkook’s jaw snapped shut.

 

Mother nestled herself comfortably in her chair once more, whistling for Mitsy to join her. “I don’t own the vast ocean that is the dark web, nor do I have any influence over the sharks that lurk within. What I do have control over – or thought I did – is Geomjeong-pa and the ungrateful son of a BITCH WHO I TOOK IN AND DECIDED TO RAISE AGAINST MY BETTER JUDGEMENT!”

 

Mother’s voice launched into a shriek that tore through Jungkook’s head like a serrated blade. He could feel the beginnings of a migraine coming on, helped mostly by the abundance of alcohol and cocaine last night. This was not helping. She was shaking from head to foot, black eyes sparkling with a rage unlike any he had seen directed towards him in the past. She had always seemed like a disappointed parent. Now, she looked exactly as if she were about to unleash punishment on one of her enemies. Jungkook did the only thing he could think of in the situation and sank into a full bow again.

 

It was the oldest trick in the animal kingdom. Weaker animals flipped over onto their back and showed submission to a more dominant animal threatening to rip their jugular out. Jungkook liked his jugular. He wanted it to stay inside his body.

 

He did not know how long he stayed like that, just that it felt like an eternity. When he finally heard her get up, she moved faster than last time. Jungkook flinched, getting ready for more physical abuse. Instead, he felt a gentle touch on the back of his hair, that trailed down to his cheek, coaxing his head up.

 

“Don’t disappoint me again. This is your last chance,” she said, deathly quiet. “Because of you, now I must find a new executioner and they do not come cheap.”

 

“M-make me your new executioner,” Jungkook said, rising to his feet. His eyes sparkled like an eager puppy’s. His momentary rebelliousness was a flash in the pan. He once again wanted to please her. But it was not to be.

 

“I would. But there is one vital element lacking in this new relationship of ours.”

 

“New relationship?”

 

“Yes. The old one melted down the moment you killed Jang, Lee and Woo and was re-forged into whatever…this is.” Mother looked him up and down with a distinctly acerbic look. “Trust is lacking. I no longer trust you. And you know better than most what happens to those who lose my trust, Jeon Jungkook. Leave.”

 

And that was it.

 

No other conjecture to add onto her subtle threat of a dismissal. Just a handful words that made ice claw down Jungkook’s spine.

 

Choi was waiting in the car when he stepped into the night air. Jungkook said nothing to him, trying hard not to let his inner turmoil show on his face. He kept an eye on the older man, watching for any sudden movements. Movements to kill. A sly hand in the pocket for a gun. A loosening of cuff links to prepare for strangulation. Or a surprise jerk of the wheel before he leapt out and let Jungkook and the car tumble through the road barricade and into a pole. Mother might have already informed Choi he was to get rid of the young man quickly and stealthily.

 

But Jungkook was dropped off at his apartment without a hitch and Choi didn’t even follow him in. It did not alleviate the terrible tension in his stomach. Jungkook was so sure he was a dead man, he called the last person who could possibly help, simply because all the other options were null and void. Well, not help in any sense. Jungkook just really wanted his ability to disappear off the map without a trace. He had never known someone escape Jang, Lee and Woo alive and then not be captured quickly after.

 

“Pick up, pick up, pick up – Jimin, please – pick up – “ he chanted under his breath, palms slippery with sweat as he locked down his home. The blackout curtains came down, the backup security system was launched and only then did he sit down on his couch, the TV showing some mindless drama, as he unloaded and reloaded the gun in his lap.

 

Jimin, please.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dean kept his hand away from the phone for at least half an hour after Namjoon left.

 

It was more than enough. Namjoon did not return and Dean knew he would probably not see him till the next morning.  Namjoon’s promises were not broken out of malice and as his closest friend, Dean knew that. He was just too eager to do his job to the point where acted like a horse wearing blinkers. He could focus on nothing but the path ahead. Dean was the one who always saw the bigger picture.

 

Is this really the bigger picture though?

 

Every time he dialled this particular number on his phone, the question came up. As usual, he ignored it out of necessity.

 

“Hello?” the call was picked up within the first half minute.

 

“The boy. Park Jimin. He’s lying,” he muttered, keeping an eye over the side of his cubicle as one of his colleagues walked past holding a coffee mug. “Namjoon knows him.”

 

“How well?”

 

“Not very. Only one meeting in the past. Sounds like Namjoon believes he’s some sort of charity case that he needs to fix. He’s got a sensitive spot about kids who end up on the streets – “

 

“Are you sure he recognises him?”

 

“Yeah, yeah, he said Jimin was living in Seoul up until a few months ago. He got beaten up real bad by Mother’s Trio and was trying to escape an obsessive ex. Never confirmed if he was a part of Geomjeong-pa and I haven’t dug up any older records about him apart from the new ones I made for him.”

 

“Thank you, Mr Kwon. That will be all.”

 

“Uhm – do you know when the payment will come through? I don’t mean to push, it’s just that – “

 

“We understand your predicament, Mr Kwon. We will compensate you in full when the time comes.”

 

Click.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Han put down the phone and adjusted his spectacles. He gave a dry little cough, turning to the man sitting beside him in the back of the Bentley. Yoongi had his leg propped up on the seat opposite, one finger crooked between his teeth, his elbow resting on the window sill as he gazed out at the sparkling expanse of sea under the night sky. He looked incredibly young in this light.

 

“He confirmed our suspicions, didn’t he?” Yoongi murmured, before Han could say a word.

 

Han gave a short nod. “Indeed. Park Jimin lied about his past. Though it wasn’t a harmful lie as far as I know, it proves he has a tendency to conceal things. A harmful trait in the long run.”

 

“Yes, I know a thing or two about liars, Han, I run a fucking syndicate. Hand me the phone.”

 

He put down his ipad on which he had been scrolling through the videos recorded by both Jimin and Taehyung’s glasses. Jimin’s were pointless, an adventure in getting adjusted to the glasses and recording every little thing. Taehyung’s casino brawl was documented. As was the bedroom escapade which Yoongi had stored into a remote folder, saving it for later. There was nothing of any real worth yet. Han’s burner phone was cold when it touched his palm and he tapped out Taehyung’s number without looking at the keypad. The phone rang for three minutes straight, no voicemail message popping up at the end.

 

“I hope you’re making another porno or I swear to god, Kim Taehyung, you won’t get away with making me wait,” Yoongi murmured to himself.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung didn’t hear the phone until he turned off the shower. Only then did he become aware of the incessant buzzing. When he tore back the curtain, he saw the black rectangle about to fall off the edge of the glass shelf. It dropped, and his hand whipped out to snatch it.

 

“Hello?” he said, clearing his throat as he stepped out of the shower.

 

“What’s the worst thing you would do to someone who betrayed me?”

 

“Right off the bat, huh? Rough day?” Taehyung chuckled, grabbing a towel and drying himself off. Still with one hand, he tied it around his waist and studied his reflection in the mirror. Perhaps it was time to dye his hair, he hadn’t in such a long while. He remembered the last colour it had been, an obnoxious red. The time before that, chocolate brown with green tips. Now it was just a brown so dark it was almost black.

 

“Answer me,” Yoongi said on the other end.

 

“Trephination.” Taehyung didn’t skip a beat, clutching his fingers through the wet strands of hair on his forehead. He circled his temple, letting the finger trail down the side of his face, his jaw and then finally his neck. “And after I’ve drilled the hole, I’d slip something inside. And the thing I’d put in would be alive too. Probably a centipede. Those things can burrow.”

 

Yoongi’s voice dropped to a shaky whisper. “I would pay you a billion won in cash if the person was alive during the process.”

 

Taehyung knew there was something up with him. But the fact that he was not saying a name and hanging up told him it was a little more complicated than that. He was not curious. Usually, Yoongi spilled his secrets sooner or later and when he did, Taehyung took care of them. It always worked like that.

 

The lights were out in the flat and there were no sounds coming from Jimin’s room. Taehyung shoved the door open as he walked past and saw that the boy was passed out on the bed. His phone was ringing, and the room smelt of alcohol.

 

“Your little boy needed alcohol to shut off his brain after the day he had,” Taehyung said to Yoongi, going inside and closing the door. “He’s curled up with half his clothes off. Wanna see?”

 

“Would you keep them alive?”

 

Taehyung climbed onto the bed and shifted Jimin across, bending over the curled-up man and hearing the soft pitter patter of his breath. He whacked the phone on the bedside cabinet without seeing who was calling and it rang twice more before falling silent. He traced a finger over Jimin’s plush cupid’s bow. It was impossibly soft to the touch. Taehyung leaned down, resting his head on Jimin’s until their ears were pressed together and draped a long leg over the boy’s thigh, pinning him.

 

“I never let them die,” he murmured, holding the phone to his other ear. “They all suffer. You’ve seen me in action. You’ve seen how they wish for death but never get it.”

 

Yoongi’s voice had a catch in it when he whispered back, “That’s why I love you, my gorgeous darling.” The mellowness lasted for about a few seconds, before he was back to his old self again, hard, cold and calculated. “Now, I hear Mother has lost her infamous Trio. I’m sure she’s probably looking for an unquenchable sadist to fill the vacated role. Work that angle. Get noticed. The casinos were a good step in the right direction. Volunteer yourself whenever Geomjeong-pa needs someone getting rid of and do it in the most spectacular way possible. She’ll notice soon enough.”

 

Taehyung was in a daze as he listened to the humming thrill of Yoongi’s voice pass through him. Jimin’s eyelashes fluttered and he moaned a little as the heel of Taehyung’s foot brushed against his crotch. He whined something that sounded suspiciously like “Get fucked” and turned over. Taehyung lifted his head, watching him switch positions until he was curled up and comfortable with his face mushed against the taller man’s chest. He had no decorum whilst asleep, drool clinging to his open mouth and a snore occasionally sounding from the depths of his chest. Taehyung slid an arm over the top of the pillow and lay down once more, chin resting on Jimin’s head.

 

“I will,” he told Yoongi, closing his eyes in annoyance as Jimin’s phone began whirring again. “Is there anything else? Perhaps the name of the person whose head you want me to drill into whilst they’re still screaming?”

 

There was a long, long pause, in which Taehyung felt himself start to get sleepier, floating on the back of Jimin’s rhythmic breathing.

 

“Not just yet,” Yoongi said, “I need some time to mull it over, gauge how bad of a situation it is.”

 

He hung up abruptly, without saying goodbye. Taehyung flung his phone on the cabinet and grabbed the other one, pulling it over to glare at the screen. Jungkook. Who the fuck is Jungkook? Whoever he was, he was hellbent on getting Jimin to pick up. The same Jimin who had burrowed his way deeper against the cocoon of Taehyung’s body with his legs all tangled up. He wasn’t about to pick up any time soon.

 

Taehyung’s finger hovered over the green button. Time to find out who Jungkook was.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

  

“Why do you want to know who I am? Tell me who you are first. No, I’m not, guess again. How old are you? Because you sound ten.  Oh, are you getting pissed off? Yeah? Go on, tell me who you’re gonna send to finish me – go on – “

 

Taehyung’s laughter was like the first curls of mist creeping in at dawn, rolling over the hills of Jimin’s subconscious. For a moment, he thought he was still dreaming. Except the deep rumbling in Taehyung’s chest as he spoke was starting to nudge him awake. Jimin’s eyes opened and he took a deep breath, inhaling the fresh scent of lemon and jasmine. Taut, supple skin rubbed against his forehead and it was only when Taehyung’s nipple brushed his cheek that Jimin understood that this was not a dream.

 

“W-why are you in my room? Get out – “ Jimin mumbled, stretching to reach for the bedside lamp. Light pooled over the bed and he saw his phone cradled in Taehyung’s hand, the screen lit up against his ear. He saw the last characters of Jungkook’s name and Jimin almost pissed himself right there on his freshly laundered bedsheets. Without thinking, he reacted, snatching the phone from Taehyung and hanging up.

 

“What the fuck was that for?” Taehyung said, getting up to lean back on his hand. His face was dead serious  - a terrifying expression due to the natural downward tilt of his lips – but his honey coloured eyes danced with merriment.

 

“You shouldn’t be in my room and you shouldn’t be picking up my phone. We’re not boyfriends,” Jimin spat the last word out with such venom he felt his saliva turn to acid and burn his mouth. Just to be safe, he turned off the phone and shoved it into the drawer.

 

Whatever was up with Kim Taehyung, he seemed to be in a frivolous mood. “Who was that kid? Threw a tantrum because I wouldn’t let him talk to you.”

 

“Who did you tell him you were?”

 

“Your cousin. As we are. Incestuous, nothing-alike, cousins,” Taehyung leered.

 

Jimin ignored the flinch in his stomach at the salacious slick of his tongue over his upper lip. He had all these little gestures and they created havoc in Jimin’s mind and body. Ever since that first night he had become aware of Taehyung as a sexual creature, these moments of distraction interrupted his train of thought frequently. The coarse hair on his leg rubbing against Jimin’s calf wasn’t helping either.

 

“Who is Jungkook?” Taehyung pressed.

 

Jimin ruffled his hair, feeling the caramel strands pass through his fingers messily. “Just a friend.”

 

“He sounded upset.”

 

“He’s always upset. He’s a drama queen.”

 

“He sounded jealous.”

 

“Of what?”

 

“When I told him you were asleep in bed next to me, he sounded jealous. That’s when he started cursing and I started laughing. Still just a friend?”

 

There was no sign anywhere on Taehyung’s visage that he was taking this seriously. Jimin knew it was the only thing that saved him.  Had the skull-crusher wanted information, he would have only had to lift a finger. Jimin was at his complete mercy. But here he was, sprawled in his bed, naked and curled up beside him as if it were the most natural thing in the world. Exactly how he had clung to Jimin in bed on the yacht. Mommy issues, Daddy issues, abandonment complex – whatever the case, there had to be something behind it. A man so violent and cruel had to have a reason behind needing something to hold onto when he fell asleep.

 

“Go to your own bed. Yoongi wouldn’t appreciate us being like this unrecorded,” Jimin muttered, pulling the sheets over his naked thighs.

 

“What Yoongi thinks isn’t any of your concern,” Taehyung said. “Come here.”

 

Jimin considered slamming his fist down on his balls. They were inches from his hand. But no one would come out of that unscathed and he would get it a lot worse. He inched across the covers until he was cuddled against the pillows and grabbed another cushion from the foot of the bed, setting it behind Taehyung’s head. He didn’t retract his hand, instead letting it stroke down the width of his broad shoulders, soft indentations forming in his golden-brown skin where Jimin’s fingers clutched.

 

“So, he’s fine with this?” Jimin asked, “he doesn’t want all private moments recorded?”

 

“If he wants it, he’ll ask.”

 

“You’re not here because he told you to be?”

 

“Why all the questions?”

 

Jimin exhaled, crooning a little as he got comfortable. He didn’t feel the need to answer. The control was shifting over to him. He could feel it in the slackening of Taehyung’s muscles when his body pressed against his. The taller man liked the closeness, he wanted the warmth. Jimin was a wonderful cuddler – Jungkook had testified to that often enough. He had never used it as a weapon though. What a novel concept. He pressed a kiss against the hollow of Taehyung’s throat, smiling against his skin as he felt his heartbeat pounding. One hand smoothed down his front, searching for the gold. When he found out, Jimin pushed his hand deeper in between his legs, but before he could take hold, Taehyung’s hand snapped painfully tight around his wrist and pulled it back up.

 

“No,” Taehyung said.

 

“I want to suck your cock,” Jimin blurted out, more explicit in his words than he had intended. He decided he liked the way it made Taehyung’s pupils dilate.

 

No.” Now he sounded like he was admonishing a young child and his hand didn’t loosen.

 

Jimin whined in discomfort. He could have said that before his boner started coming alive. But there wasn’t much room to shift away so he stayed there, burning up.

 

“Why are you here?” he said again.

 

Taehyung dropped his hand and pulled the sheets up over them. One long arm reached around to turn off the light, leaving only the softer glow of the street lamps outside to filter in.

 

“Ever heard of the man who lived with a snake?” he said.

 

“Why would a man live with a snake? Wouldn’t it be a pet snake and not some equal living arrangement?” Jimin frowned.

 

Taehyung stared at him, shook his head and smacked his ass to make him shut up. It only served to make Jimin arch his spine, his clothed crotch pushing against Taehyung’s hip. God.

 

“He lived with a snake that came to sleep with him in his bed every night, all stretched out like this.” Taehyung ran his hand over the curve of Jimin’s waist under the sheets. “Night after night, the snake fell asleep beside him and the man came to believe they had a sort of camaraderie going. Turns out, the snake was going there every night to measure itself up against the length of the man’s body and gauge how much it could stretch itself out to devour him eventually. Because you know, they swallow their prey whole and then their stomach acids do the rest. And one night, it pounced  - “

 

When he said ‘pounced’ his hand came down to grab the younger man, fingers digging viciously hard into his side. Jimin yelped with fright, jerking away. It only served to knock his head against the cabinet, hard enough to make it spin. Taehyung’s laughter underlaid the humiliation like salt in the wound.

 

“Jesus, your face,” he sniggered, “You’re a sore little scaredy-cat, aren’t you?”

 

“I don’t want snakes in my bed, get the fuck out – mmph  - “ Jimin’s sullen pout was vanquished by Taehyung’s mouth swallowing it up. He sighed, a tender, gentle sound, so unlike his inner desire to curl his fingers into Taehyung’s eye sockets and reduce his eyeballs to useless mush. He decided to go with the pleasurable throb in his stomach, not the angry itch in his fingers.

 

The kiss was intimate. Jimin wasn’t surprised. Anyone else and he would have pulled away, fearing intimacy was a negative. But Taehyung was as cold blooded as they came. He just quite literally had an intimacy kink where he cuddled people to sleep or kissed them with soft strokes of his tongue and needy moans in his throat. He tasted good for once, no cigarettes, no whisky, just this intense, warm taste that Jimin couldn’t get enough of. A trail of heat followed Taehyung’s palm as it massaged the skin of the younger man’s back, moving up under his shirt to grab the back of his neck. He pressed the knobs of his spine a little too hard and Jimin jerked away with a quiet grunt of pain.

 

Are we fucking or not?” Jimin groaned impatiently.

 

Taehyung didn’t answer. But he shifted, sliding downwards inch by inch. Jimin turned onto his back, already parting his thighs because he knew where the devious mouth would end up. Just as Taehyung's lustrous head of hair disappeared under the sheets, his phone rang. Jimin jerked, almost kneeing him in the face.

 

Taehyung cursed under his breath and reached for his phone. Jimin watched curiously as his face changed when he saw the screen and he picked up.

 

“Got a name for me, sweetheart?” His face fell when the person on the other end made it obvious they were not in the mood for playfulness. Then, he shoved the phone towards Jimin. “He wants to talk to you.”

 

Just in the way he said it, Jimin knew who was on the other end.

 

“Master Min,” he said, lowering his tone to one of respect.

 

“Jimin. How are you?”

 

“I’m good, thank you, sir.”

 

“How’s Taehyung been treating you?”

 

“Good, sir.” This entire conversation was so unnatural. It was as if Yoongi was an off-location boss, checking up on how one of his permanent employees was treating the temp. Nothing Jimin could hear in his tone of voice suggested he was in any kind of trouble.

 

Trouble? Why would I be in trouble?

 

Yoongj’s next question cemented the gut feeling.

 

“Remind me again, who did you say your parents were?”

 

“I never did, sir. Their names were Kwon Mina and Park Hyunjin.” The key to telling a good lie: perfect improv, good memory, convincing presentation. When Jimin heard nothing but silence on the other end, he avoided Taehyung's keen, black eyes and rolled on. “I was a military brat for a good ten years of my life from the age of one to eleven. My dad was stationed on the border and my mom and I went with him. When he died, my mom brought me to Daegu and when she died, I travelled to Busan. Too many bad memories in Daegu. My mother was...a drinker.”

 

He had the urge to take a deep breath but resisted. Yoongi still said nothing.

 

“What rank was he?” Taehyung said suddenly.

 

“First Lieutenant.”

 

“So, you’ve got the average dull background. Same as everyone else.”

 

What was that in Yoongi's voice? Suspicion? Indifference? Or plain old curiosity? The man’s face was a hard picture to read but his voice was even worse. It had a relatively steady drone to it that made it all too easy to fall into a trance. Taehyung’s leg lashed out, flipping both of Jimin’s upwards until he landed on his back. He turned over just in time to swerve away from Taehyung’s lips as they came down to assault his neck. Yoongi and his attack dog were playing this game together and whatever it was, Jimin didn’t want in.

 

“I’m a pretty average person myself, Master Min,” Jimin said, trying to pull the sheets in between his skin and Taehyung’s mouth. “Average in everything but the career I chose.”

 

“Is that supposed to be a joke?”

 

“Fuck!” Taehyung grunted as Jimin kicked out and found his target dangerously close to the crotch.

 

“N-no. Have I done something wrong, sir?

 

“What makes you ask that?”

 

“Your voice?” Jimin was sick of this naive playacting.  It actually hurt his brain to sound so innocently dumb. But that was the persona he had introduced to the both of them. It was the safest.

 

“Give the phone to Taehyung.”

 

Jimin passed it over obediently, palms slippery with nervous sweat. There was nothing untoward in Taehyung's reaction that suggested he had just been ordered to take out Jimin for not disclosing his past. He was relaxed and only grunted a few times before he hung up.

 

“What was that about?”

 

“We got a big few weeks ahead of us, little boy. I suggest you tighten your nerves and strengthen your stomach. You’re about to see me operate at my best.”

 

He's lying.

 

Jimin’s mind was calm in its delivery of the truth. The skull-crusher was lying through his front teeth and if Jimin didn’t know him as well as he did, he would have gotten away with it. There was something about seeing a man in the throes of ultimate ecstasy that made it easier to pick up on the miniscule physical tics and dilation of the pupils. It was weird how lying could have the same effect on the body that rising to a climax did. Taehyung settled into the sheets, as cosy as pie, and closed his eyes. Within minutes, with infuriating ease, his breathing levelled out and he was fast asleep. Jimin stared down at him, throat dry and head hurting. He inched towards the edge of the mattress but Taehyung's hand shot out and he almost lost control of his bladder again.

 

But it was a reflexive movement. Taehyung was still asleep. He just didn’t want to let go of his human teddy bear, his subconscious refused to allow it. Jimin winced, trying to loosen the death grip on his thigh and sidled back under the sheets. Before he curled up, he grabbed his phone and flipped it around to see the text message notification. Jungkook.

 

Who was that?

 

Why aren’t you picking up?

 

Jimin please I’m in trouble.

 

Jimin looked over his shoulder. Taehyung’s face was pressed against the soft, firm skin of his shoulder blade. He was not a deep sleeper. But Jimin knew his voice could be made light enough to minimise the vibrations that might normally go through his body and alert the sleeper. And even if not, there was no way in hell he was about to ignore Jungkook in this very uncharacteristic state of pleading.

 

He picked up on the first ring and Jimin spoke before Jungkook’s voice could come pouring out like an avalanche.

 

“My cousin's sleeping. Keep your voice down and tell me what’s wrong,” he murmured.

 

There was a silence. Jimin could hear him breathing on the other end. It was the only thing that kept him from hanging up.

 

“I missed the sound of your voice so much.” Jungkook’s voice cracked on the last word. Jimin’s heart clenched. For all the young man’s issues, he had still been Jimin’s one and only friend for a year in Seoul that would have been miserable had Jungkook not taken him in, first with a place to live and then a job.

 

“Are you alright?”

 

“I think so. That’s the clincher isn’t it? She always makes you think you’re fine but in reality, she’s master minding the exact method of your demise.”

 

“What did you do to piss her off? It couldn’t have been that bad. She’s never able to hate you for long-"

 

“I killed her Trio.”

 

Jimin muffled his gasp behind a hand, and it reverberated in his windpipe as he inhaled. Behind him, Taehyung’s hand clenched on his leg, but his breathing stayed level.

 

“No kidding,” Jimin whispered, “On your own? How?”

 

“I had help.”

 

“I’m surprised you’re even alive right now.”

 

“So am I. She’s going to get me.”

 

“No, she won’t. You've passed her expiry date.”

 

“What?”

 

“Mother gives three days maximum before she kills insubordinates. It’s been longer than that since the Trio died.”

 

“She called me in to her office tonight. Said there was no trust left between us -"

 

“She said that but you’re still alive. She’s not going to kill you, Jungkook, but she will watch you and I promise it’s going to be the scariest thing you’ve ever experienced until you win her trust back.”

 

“You know more about her than I do. How strange,” Jungkook chuckled tiredly.

 

“I’m not going to lie, I studied her the moment I found out your relation to her. She frightened me and I was right to feel that way.”

 

“I don’t want to win back her trust. I want you. I want to escape her but I don’t know how.”

 

For the second time that night, Jimin took such a deep breath, his lungs expanded painfully. There was no shortage of oxygen in the room but somehow his brain urged him to suck in as much as possible. This was it. This was the key into Mother’s well-kept secrets. The only thing was, he couldn’t tell Yoongi without revealing he had lied about his past. But once he thought about it, he realised he didn’t want to share Jungkook. The volatile, unpredictable creature that he was, he would get them both killed by Yong Geondal. Jungkook was no use to Yoongi. The mob boss already had a wild animal in Taehyung.

 

Jungkook was his trump card, his ticket out of there should the whole thing with Yong Geondal blow up in his face.

 

“Stay with her for now. She’s where you’ll be safest. You've been raised in a sheltered world, you need to thicken your defences whilst still under her protection. But I want to meet you.”

 

“You're coming back to Seoul?” Jungkook could barely disguise his excitement.

 

“I am. But you have to be patient. I can’t openly meet. She had me beaten up, she'll have me killed this time.”

 

The excuse manifested on its own and was beyond perfect.  Mother probably didn’t even know what Jimin looked like or what his name was. But Jungkook couldn’t be sure of that, not with how secretive she was.

 

“What do I do for now? I’m lost, I’m actually terrified of her. I’ve never been more scared of something in my life. You know me.”

 

Yes, cocksure, arrogant Jungkook was the last person to be frightened of anything. In fact, Jimin was a little scared of him now knowing what he did about the death of the Trio. But there was the undeniable fact that Jungkook was untying the apron strings looped around him and attached to Mother. Now, he was looking to Jimin for guidance.

 

“Lay low. Boost sales with your dealing. Show her you’re a profit, not a loss. Don’t get high to the point of almost overdosing. Keep your outside connections to a minimum. Don’t speak to anyone you haven’t known for more than a year. There are two ways she can see you going right now, behaving prudishly and rebelling against her. You have to keep her from thinking the second option applies to you.”

 

“I can do that,” Jungkook said after some length. “I can do it. I’m just glad you’re going to be here with me, babe. I missed you so much. I won’t let anything drive you away from me now, I promise.”

 

Jimin looked down at the sleeping killer next to him and said the most insincere thing he had ever said to Jungkook.

 

“I know.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The sergeant was late.

 

Namjoon was relieved. It gave him more time to prepare what he was going to say. He had been thinking about it all night, foregoing dinner to be able to think on an empty stomach. He always thought better when he didn’t have the heavy distraction of food weighing down his gut. It was an unhealthy habit according to his mother, one she had tried tirelessly to kick during his exams at school.

 

His eyes blurred form lack of sleep, merging the coffee rings on the desk into one, murky entity. When the door banged, they jumped apart but the edges of his vision remained misty. He pulled out his glasses and put them on, pushing them up the bridge of his nose.

 

“Kim. To what do I owe the pleasure?” the sergeant announced, walking around the desk and taking a seat.

 

“I have a request regarding my case, sir,” Namjoon sat up straighter.

 

“Before you request anything, have you made any progress?”

 

“I have a possible witness.”

 

“To the killings of the Trio themselves?”

 

“No, but he is possibly connected to someone who was responsible for their deaths. But in the position I’m in, I can’t get anything out of him.”

 

“What’s your solution?”

 

“I’d like to go undercover.”

 

The sergeant’s face hardened. On the desk before him, lay the file Namjoon had prepared. He gave it a cursory glance over. It wasn’t very thick.

 

“This young man knows your face. He would rat you out the minute he saw you undercover,” was all he said at first.

 

“He won’t. He wants to get out of there. I’m good at understanding body language and he is a caged animal wanting to be released – “

 

“Forgive me for my scepticism, Detective Kim, but though you may have a death wish, I am not about to sacrifice one of my own men on the basis of conjecture revolving around a young man’s emotions.”

 

“Sir, I understand this sounds crazy but Jimin could have called his flatmate the moment I walked in through the door. I saw the way the other one behaved. He would have had me at the bottom of the Han River. Men like that have little regard for the justice system. They know no law and no order. Just violence.”

 

“I won’t let you do this, Kim – “

 

“But, sir – “

 

“And that’s my final say on the matter.” The sergeant closed the file. “If you think you cannot handle this case with the delicacy required, please ask one of your colleagues if they are willing to have it passed onto them. Unless – “

 

He paused, and thought for a moment, eyes narrowing behind his glasses. He opened the file once more and scrutinized the picture of Jimin inside.

 

“You can go undercover when I am assured of this man’s discretion. Bring him to the station and I will interrogate him.”

 

Namjoon faltered. “He would never come.”

 

“If he wants to escape the situation he’s in as desperately as you insinuate, he will come. And then we can talk about you going undercover. Will there be anything else, Kim?”

 

There wasn’t, of course there wasn’t. Namjoon was utterly defeated. There was no way in hell Park Jimin was about to walk into a police station and risk being suspected by his associates as a rat. Even if he was brought under the guise of a drunk and disorderly or some other lesser crime, it would never be believed. Geomjeong-pa men were not brought in for petty crimes. They weren’t even brought in for huge, stinking ones.

 

Was this the end of what was to be the landmark case of his career? As Namjoon dropped the folder into his desk drawer with a sad little thunk, he certainly thought so. He decided to throw caution to the wind anyway. What did he have to lose?

 

A simple text to Jimin was all it took.

 

I have a proposition for you. It’s worth your time, trust me.

 

 

 

 

Jimin spent his morning balancing the accounts for Yongsan-gu’s drug trade. More precisely, Soo Jang Ho’s thriving cocaine ring. Ahn worked for him and was third in ranking to handle his affairs, explaining why Jimin had been trusted with access to the bookkeeping. He had done some research into Soo and discovered that the man was one of Mother’s principle six. Six, for the districts in Seoul she had complete control over. The other nineteen were largely monopolised by Geomjeong-pa but were ridden with other gangs, including a minor branch of Yong Geondal.

 

She had a lot of named groups, Mother. Her Trio. Her Six. Numbers. She clustered up her favourites and spotlighted them leaving the rest rearing at the leash with jealousy and the desire to be one of those coveted numbers.

 

Was Jungkook her One? Not in a romantic way, but in fact an utterly platonic form of the word. The relationship between Jungkook and this twenty six year old man who dressed up as a steampunk heroine, fascinated Jimin. He had never known anything quite like what the pair of them had. At once familial, but estranged.

 

He was supposed to be meeting Jungkook at two am and it was already one. Jimin knew he wouldn’t get much sleep by six am, but he had learned to become accustomed to the mindless drone of his sleep deprived head and lived on a daily fuel of coffee. Taehyung was angrier by the day, mood swings back and forth like a pendulum. He no longer had Yoongi’s prime cocaine stash to keep him going. If Jimin was wary of sober Taehyung, then Taehyung on coke was the last person he wanted to live with. Ahn had said there were rumours Mother wanted to start dealing in PCP just as soon as the labs were ready to produce. Suddenly, it became a little more obvious why Jungkook wasn’t dead in a ditch. His chemistry inclined brain was the best Mother had at her disposal.

 

It wasn’t his first lonely walk through Seoul this late, but there was a certain element of paranoia attached to it knowing Taehyung could be anywhere in Yongsan-gu right now, around a dark corner, waiting to pounce. Knowing he was at home wouldn’t have made it easier either. Nothing was easy with him. It was just one contorted mass of fear, manipulation and a game of wits. Thus far, Jimin had allowed the fear to take him, but it was getting real old.

 

Jungkook was conspicuous, the only person sitting in the corner of the dingy little diner. Dressed in all black as usual, his hoodie was pulled low over his angelic face. Somehow, in the storm of lies, obsession, irritation, unhealthy dynamics, Jimin had forgotten just how beautiful Jungkook was. His head turned an inch when he heard Jimin’s footsteps but he didn’t turn to look properly. Jimin could already envision he way his chest was heaving with shallow, rapid breaths. When he rested a hand on his shoulder, Jungkook’s entire frame tightened.

 

He had to look up finally. His eyes moved as if in slow motion, lifting under the veil of thick lashes, until they were fixed on Jimin in all their wide, glittering glory. Jungkook’s eyes were perfectly positioned and perfectly drawn to look like two obsidian gems in his porcelain skull. He had two dots of pink on his cheeks, his lips wind-chapped and his hair wet from a shower. He smelt of that shower gel, the one like eucalyptus leaves. The smell registered as familiar and sent tingles down Jimin’s neck.

 

“You look good,” he said, swallowing once to wet his throat and amplify his voice.

 

Jungkook didn’t bother saying a word. He got to his feet quickly, kicking back his chair in his haste. They both ignored the crash. Jimin let the taller male pull him into his arms and his breath left him in a quiet gasp. Jungkook’s grip was bone breaking and Jimin stayed slack. He forced himself to remember that Jungkook was the only thing standing between him and certain death when Yong Geondal turned on him. That thought alone made Jimin lift his limp arms and hold on to Jungkook.

 

The younger man was crying, muffling the sounds against Jimin’s neck, leaving a wet trail of tears and saliva on his skin wherever he kissed.

 

“Jeon, don’t you dare dribble snot on my jacket,” Jimin said.

 

Jungkook answered by grabbing his face and pulling it forward. Their lips collided, Jimin’s tooth catching painfully on the skin of his inner lip from the impact. It thronged, burning, made worse by Jungkook’s tongue rolling over it. Jimin opened his eyes a little to see Jungkook’s tear stained lashes so close he could make out each individual one. He drew in a shuddering breath and pulled away. A thin string of saliva still connected their lips and he wiped it, playfully cleaning his thumb on Jungkook’s hoodie.

 

“Well, you still kiss the same. Clumsy, eager and angry,” he chuckled.

 

Jungkook sniffed, his nose red, and glared, sitting back down in his chair. “I’ve never had any complaints.”

 

“I bet you haven’t,” Jimin answered, sitting before him. He reached out and took a single chip from the basket on the table and crossed his arms. “Strange time to meet. But understandable.”

 

“Choi will notice my absence so this has to be quick. I want us to date again. I can work out ways to keep your identity a secret from Mother. But I need you by my side -"

 

“You don’t need me, you want me,” Jimin corrected him. “And an association with you would be hard to hide from my cousin. He lives with me, you know.”

 

“He’s Geomjeong-pa?”

 

“What makes you say that?”

 

“Sounded like a total fucking thug that’s all.”

 

“He is. His speciality is violence and he’s already gained attention for it.”

 

“Is he a homophobe? Why do you have to hide a relationship with me?” Jungkook frowned.

 

Jimin laughed awkwardly. “No. He isn’t. At all. But he’s trying to rise the ranks and he wouldn’t appreciate being tied to someone who was fucking the boss's protege – or charge. Or whatever you are.”

 

“I’ve blown it,” Jungkook sat back with a heavy sigh. “I was doing fine until the rage took over. I hated being apart from you, and I took out my anger on those I deemed responsible.”

 

Jimin didn’t voice his extreme panic over what this said about the kind of man Jungkook would grow up to be. More dangerous than Taehyung? Quite possibly considering he had the fire of emotion pushing his worst actions.

 

“What are you doing living with your cousin anyway?” Jungkook asked. “Don’t tell me you’ve joined the gang now too.”

 

“Mother always pays well.”

 

“Who are you working under?”

 

“Ahn. And then Soo, I guess.”

 

“Yongsan-gu. I don’t make their coke.”

 

“I know.”

 

Jimin ignored the fact that Jungkook’s foot was sliding in between his. He remained expressionless, watching, waiting, for every minute change in the atmosphere. It went the opposite way of what he expected and eased up. Jungkook’s hand came out to clasp his own, thumb tracing over pink knuckles.

 

“I don’t care if it’s not often, but I want to see you. Or I swear I’m going to go crazy. I don’t know how I survived these last few months.”

 

“You’re a well earning member of the richest crime syndicate in Korea and acting like Romeo is what you do in your spare time. No wonder Mother’s disappointed,” Jimin said.

 

“I don’t care what she thinks. I care about you.”

 

“And I want you to stay alive. Acting like a lovesick puppy will get you killed and thrown for fish food in the bottom of the Han. When will you understand that?”

 

Jungkook withdrew his hand and the petulant scowl was back. “I didn’t come here to listen to a lecture.”

 

“No, you came to see me, and figure out if I’d finally be willing to date you. In fact, forget dating, you’re a nineteen year old male, how could I forget? You just want me to fuck you so that you can get it off your checklist.”

 

Jungkook flashed him a wily smile. “Well, if that’s what you say, maybe that’s what I want.”

 

Jimin tried, but failed to keep a smile off his face. The tension was gone and they were left in silence, with only the thrumming of the diner fridge in the background. Jungkook’s gaze didn’t waver from Jimin’s, so he was able to watch as the laughter slowly left his eyes and he sobered.

 

“I don’t know how many times I’ve said this, but the fact never changes...You’re a complete and utter mystery. You confuse me and delight me in the same breath and sometimes it’s invigorating – I like a challenge – but most of the time it’s just exhausting.”

 

Jimin chewed on his bottom lip, the chapped bits softening. He took Jungkook’s hand in both of his and turned his palm over, tracing the lines with his finger.

 

“And I thought you were my open book. But apparently not. It makes me wonder how many more lungs these hands are capable of tearing out.”

 

Their eyes met, and the good humour vanished completely. Jungkook’s ring clad fingers tightened on Jimin’s but it was painful.

 

“I’m not the same young boy I was when we met. And neither are you. We can't do things the same way. You can’t throw a tantrum and expect me to fall in your lap. I’m surrounded by dangerous people – I can’t even begin to describe them – and you’re surrounded by worse,” Jimin told him.

 

“So what you’re telling me, as per usual, is stay away,” Jungkook said dully.

 

Jimin grit his teeth and prayed for patience. “I’m saying, if you play your cards right, we'll end up not having to owe allegiance to anyone but ourselves. We'll be free.”

 

He was hoping against hope Jungkook understood what he meant. He wanted to test the waters and seen if Jungkook was even capable of considering treason against Mother. The seconds ticked by in which Jungkook stared at him, his eyes unsettlingly black. And then he scoffed, nodding. Nothing else. Jimin chose to take it as confirmation. He had to believe anything he said was kryptonite for him. Everything was on the table if Jimin put forward the suggestion.

 

Jungkook stood, and for the first time, Jimin noticed how drastic a change had taken place in the young man’s stature. He stood taller, held himself erect and there was a grim set to his jaw. Was the change recent? Probably, considering what he had done.

 

“I’ll call you,” was all he said, before turning heel and leaving.

 

No more an open book indeed.

 

His phone jerked in his pocket and he pulled it out. The number was unfamiliar. The voice was not.

 

Yoongi.

 

“I have a task for you, cherry pie. Wherever you are, return home immediately. I told Ahn to drop off something for you.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ahn’s call came early in the morning. Taehyung spent the day preparing for the show at night.

 

Usually, his job as a hitman was straightforward. Engaging with the targets and torturing happened once in a blue moon, contrary to popular belief in the gang ranks. It was usually those one or two isolated incidents that then received such infamy that it magnified. The incident with Cha and his brother’s family was one of those.

 

He considered himself a performer, every thing he did was honed to perfection when it came to his job. A day was too short a time frame, but he made do.

 

“This man’s rowdy. He’s a barkeeper, but he’s been working for Geomjeong-pa for a year now. He lets the gang run a money laundering operation in his backroom. Recently, he wants more than his fair share of money and is threatening to make the whole business go bust by going to the cops. Kill him. Make it bloody. It’s supposed to be a warning to others hoping to snitch.”

 

Taehyung mulled over it for about an hour, whilst watching baseball on the telly with his hand down his pants and a beer bottle in his other hand. There was a certain element of roughness about him that Yoongi disapproved of. Jimin was the sort that Yoongi would prefer to take to parties as his arm candy, reserved, elegant, sleek. Taehyung would have belched in the face of the president should the gas build up. He didn’t give a shit.

 

Around noon, he had it.

 

The barkeeper – his name was Roh Jaemin – closed the bar early on Wednesday, at eleven pm, rather than midnight. He was alone downstairs. Upstairs, in their shared apartment, his wife was blaring a drama at full volume. That was what Taehyung was counting on. He entered through the ajar back door, left open by Roh when disposing of glass bottles in the courtyard. Over his back was slung a golf bag. It was the heavy thud of the bag hitting the ground that alerted Roh.

 

He came back in, with the plodding, heavy-footed walk of a middle-aged man with the attached weight of a growing belly. He was balding, wearing a wife beater, whatever hair he had left slicked back over his egg-shaped head. His corduroy trousers had stains all over them and a bar towel was slung over his shoulder.

 

“Who the fuck are you?” he grunted, piggy eyes narrowing.

 

Taehyung tilted his head and gave him a once over. “I didn’t know corduroys were still a thing,” he said pleasantly.

 

“Get the fuck out of here, before I shoot you in the face, you little–“

 

He spent too long introducing his position as a gun holder. Not taking advantage of the fact immediately was a common mistake. He failed to see the dart gun in Taehyung’s hand until a loaded dart embedded itself in his bicep. He swayed, slurring his wife’s name, before thudding to the ground. Upstairs, the TV was as loud as ever.

 

Taehyung worked fast.

 

He heaved the fat tub of lard into a chair and zipped open his bag. He pulled out a rifle stand, setting it up for the sniper weapon made to go on tape. With a long, jerk of a silvery grey roll of tape, he began winding it around Roh, the chair and the rifle stand. It was more meticulous work taping the man’s fingers and hands to the trigger of the rifle, but he finally managed it.

 

Upstairs, the TV switched to the musical chaos of adverts. Footsteps disturbed the floorboards. Taehyung froze, head cocked like a waiting animal. The heavy thunk of the sofa signalled the wife had taken a seat once more.

 

Roh mumbled, starting to come to. Before he could open his eyes, Taehyung taped his mouth over, smacking his cheek to jerk him awake properly.

 

“Evening,” he said cheerily, “I feel it is my duty to explain this strange situation.” He waved around him, as if introducing something far happier. “Long story, short, Mother is sick of you. I have been sent to kill you. Any last words? No. Good.”

 

He removed his long coat and dropped it into the bag. Underneath, he was clad in a police uniform. Roh came making frantic sounds and rocking back and forth in the chair but the tape was the strongest on the market. It wasn’t about to let him move an inch. Taehyung set the officer’s hat on his head and checked himself out in the mirror.

 

“Good to go,” he remarked.

 

The trigger clicked.

 

Taehyung turned to see growing fear explode in Roh’s eyes. He laughed, patting the man’s fat cheeks. “Oh no, you didn’t think I’d actually load the magazine, did you? Nooo, this isn’t what it’s for. Look, if you’re so eager, I’ll get things started right now, buddy. Help ease the mystery a bit.”

 

Roh shook his head, moaning frantically. Taehyung ignored him, fingers tapping over his phone screen. 119.

 

“119 what’s your emergency?”

 

“I heard gunshots at Roh’s Bar next door. The guy who owns it was having a fight with his wife a minute ago. I think she might be dead,” Taehyung said tonelessly.

 

And then he hung up.

 

Roh’s screams were getting more and more frantic. He knew in an instant what was happening. Taehyung had to give it to him. He’d done this before and the victim very rarely caught on until the final catastrophic moment. He remained inside the bar until he heard the sirens in the distance. Then, he shut all the locks on the front door and left through the back. The TV upstairs had turned off, no doubt alerted by the closing proximity of the police sirens. She would be down any minute now, struggling to free her husband from his restraints.

 

The first squad cars screeched up, and Taehyung melted into the small crowd of onlookers, emerging around the back as if he was one of the officers who had arrived. It was madness. Guns held by civilians were taken very seriously. Taehyung looked down at his watch as the police tape was put up. Every back and forth struggle would make Roh involuntarily pull the trigger. The magazine was empty except for one bullet. Everything relied on that last bullet.

 

In the cascade of officers pouring out of the cars, he spied out a familiar face. Pale, with very expressive eyebrows. Pretty. Kwon Dean. Yoongi had briefed him on the police officer he had paid out to be his eyes and ears in Yongsan-gu’s department. Sad story. A sick sister, dying of terminal cancer, constantly in pain without the expensive medication needed to numb it. Medication that was unaffordable on a police officer’s salary.

 

Why was he here, slap down in the middle of a domestic violence situation? Cops always feared domestic dispute calls. They were the most unpredictable.

 

Before Taehyung could think on it further, one of the officers voice rose over the rest.

 

“He’s armed, and his wife is in there with him. This is a hostage situation. Swat team are on their way.”

 

Taehyung took a deep breath and let out with a fervent, “Fuck.”

 

In the time it took for the SWAT team to get there, the last bullet would be slotted into place. There was silence inside, however. The police negotiators and their mega horns got no reaction from the inside. The windows were still closed. The wife wasn’t screaming for help through them. Where the fuck was she?

 

Five minutes later, and the SWAT team arrived, six heavily armed officers emerging from the back of a black van.

 

“There’s no word on the wife. He may have already killed her,” the officer in charge informed them.

 

“Armed?”

 

“The 119 caller said so. However, the neighbours haven’t reported hearing anything.”

 

Using the distraction of the SWAT arrival, Taehyung slipped through the throng, sliding his hand under Dean’s arm and pulling him back.

 

“Stay back. Yoongi must have told you not to put yourself in life threatening situations. You’ll be dead come morning if he finds out you defied him,” Taehyung hissed in his ear.

 

He felt Dean’s body tighten at first, and then go slack. He was white as a sheet, looking around in a panic to see if the others had noticed. But as far as they could see, Taehyung was one of them. There was nothing inconspicuous as far as they could tell.

 

“You did this?” Dean murmured.

 

“Clever boy,” Taehyung cooed. “It’s a masterpiece, actually. I’m proud of it.”

 

“What is Yoongi doing? This is Geomjeong-pa territory. Why are you doing their dirty work for them?”

 

“So you know the barkeeper?”

 

“Of course I do. The cops have been trying to catch Roh for months.”

 

“Well, guess I’m just better at the job than you are.”

 

They were interrupted by the warning the SWAT team gave to the occupants of the building. It was a final call for them to come out, unarmed. No response. A countdown of five seconds, and the hydraulic jack was produced. The doors gave in after three hard slams. A moment of stilling peace followed. And then the yell split the air, destroying the calm.

 

“GUN!”

 

The world exploded. The screams of the onlookers standing behind the police tape were swallowed by the thunderous hammering of the SWAT team’s firearms. When the debris dust cleared, the scene inside was chaotic. Taehyung dragged Dean with him, drawing closer with the rest of the officers.

 

He had sat Roh directly in the line of the front doors. The SWAT team were not negotiators. They saw guns, they reacted. That was what he had counted on. But the last bullet in the rifle had done its job even more splendidly than he had anticipated. Lying at Roh’s feet was his wife, dead from a chest wound. She must have walked around to the front of the gun to try and remove the tape from his hands, assuming that it was unloaded after the countless, futile trigger clicks.

 

“I would have liked to see his body quake from all those bullets. Guess you can’t have everything,” he chuckled under his breath.

 

Dean turned and doubled over. The sounds of him retching were the cherry on top. Taehyung pulled out his phone and dialled.

 

“If that doesn’t get me attention, nothing will,” he said, a satisfied purr in his voice.

 

“You pulled it off? Wonderful,” Yoongi chuckled. “I had complete faith in you.”

 

“As you should. Caught your little cop spy at the scene and pulled him out of harm’s way. He’s throwing up in the corner right now. I’m headed home before Geomjeong-pa thugs turn up. They get real antsy about newbies doing their job better than them.”

 

“There’ll be a surprise for you when you get home.”

 

Taehyung nudged Dean, forcing him to straighten, wiping his mouth. “Jimin? What do you want me to do with him now? And what number of video are we on? Twelve so far?”

 

“Thirteen. I wanted to tell you beforehand so that you don’t overreact.”

 

“Overreact about what?”

 

“You’re attached to him. That’s understandable. But let me remind you, he’s expendable. Unlike yourself.”

 

“I am not attached to him. I’ve had better.”

 

“Taehyung, my love, you are a fantastic liar. But I know you better than you know yourself. It happened with Hoseok, it’ll happen with Jimin.”

 

“Alright, what’s the surprise?”

 

“Go home. You’ll find out. And take Dean with you. I want to have a chat with him. Face to face.”

 

Dean didn’t protest when Taehyung told him where he was going. There was a blank gaze in his eyes. He was beyond protests.

 

Before Taehyung opened the door to the apartment and felt the cold air rush towards him through the open windows, he had a feeling. Still, he went upstairs, leaving Dean in the hallway. Jimin’s door was ajar. The bed was neatly made. The closet was empty. All his belongings – what little there were – had vanished.

 

Taehyung dialled Yoongi again.

 

“Is he dead?” he said.

 

“No. But he is no longer after the necklace, whereas you still are,” Yoongi answered. “His priorities have changed.”

 

“Where is he?”

 

“I can’t reveal that information.”

 

“Fine. I don’t care anyway.”

 

“Good. I like you when you don’t care. Don’t go soft again. Neither of us want a repeat of the Hoseok incident, do we?”

 

Click.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jimin expected Ahn to be sitting there with a revolver pointing at his head.

 

He did not understand why he went back at all. Death was not something Jimin was unfamiliar with. He had had a fair amount of brushes with it, to the point where it was an old friend. But this was just pure recklessness. Nevertheless, his feet took him back to the apartment, one step at a time. The door creaked, a low, sonorous sound.

 

It was empty.

 

Ahn was nowhere to be found and the lights were all off. On the living room table sat a suitcase. Jimin opened it and found it to be what few belongings he had. Wrapped inside the front pocket, was a note.

 

Hwasa’s place. Now.

 

He recognised it as Ahn’s handwriting.

 

Jimin didn’t waste two seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

Soo Jang Ho was a stately man.

 

Pinstripe suits, 2000 dollar bottles of wine at dinner and fat, expensive cigar that cost more than the combined salary of an entire block of ordinary citizens in Yongsan-gu. He was in his late forties, with a downturned mouth and slanted eyes. He already had a reputation as the hardest motherfucker in Geomjeong-pa. The facial features exacerbated it. His skin was a yellowish-green in the dull lights of the casinos and parlours he could usually be found in.

 

The fluorescent lights of Mother’s office made him look disgustingly green.

 

She certainly thought so.

 

Delicate gloved hands folded on the desk and she beamed as he came closer.

 

“Master Soo. How wonderful to see you. I trust you have him with you. It would be an unfortunate waste of a visit for you to return to the hole he’s been squatting in and retrieve him, no?”

 

“He’s waiting in the hall,” Soo replied, bowing deep. “He pulled it off fantastically. I’ve seen quite a few things in my long life in the game but this was something else. I couldn’t stop laughing when I heard the exact method of assassination. Couldn’t have thought of that myself.”

 

“Yes, I heard,” Mother said drolly. “Apparently the police opened fire without mercy. I must say, it’s the perfect sort of warning. A little ham-handed – the mess was unnecessary – but I’m impressed nevertheless. I hope you learn to keep your men in better check, Soo.”

 

“Roh wasn’t one of mine.”

 

Mother’s eyebrows lifted and Soo lowered his eyes quickly. Her voice remained mellow.

 

“But the men operating their money laundering business in his back room were yours, no? The moment you bought him out, the details of your contract with him should have been flat ironed and cemented in his head with no room for doubt. How dare a roach try and throw a spanner in the workings of the greatest syndicate to ever rule Seoul? Get out. Send the boy in.”

 

Her voice didn’t lift a decibel. But it had Soo backing out of the room faster than he had entered it,.

 

Once he was gone, Mother lifted the glass on the corner of her desk. Underneath it was trapped a shiny green beetle. With a flick of her hand, it flew off the desk, landing on its back towards the corner of the office. Her white tiger, Rani, opened her deep blue eyes. The beetle’s legs flailed. Mother put her hand to her ear, a little smile on her soft pink lips. If she imagined hard enough, she could almost hear the little thing screaming in abject terror. Rani flicked her tail curiously but remained sprawled on her many floor cushions. Finally, the beetle bored her and she lashed out with a paw, crushing it.

 

The door opened, and Kim Taehyung walked in.

 

A young man, about five foot eleven, with a face so beautiful it would have brought Zeus down from Olympus to chase after him. Thickly lashed eyes gave the impression of being lined with kohl. They were lovely. Disdainful, angry and sour. His mouth was just as baleful, turned down at the edges, but unlike Soo’s, it was a mouth you wanted to kiss as soon as you saw it. Mother had expected something different. An uglier, rougher looking thing. Not this gorgeous creature with silky dark hair and a cheap suit that fitted him with an elegance far greater than any expensive suit on a richer old man.

 

“You must be the orchestrator of the most fabulous assassination Yongsan-gu has seen in a long time,” Mother said breathily.

 

Taehyung bowed low, getting down onto the ground. When he lifted up, his eyes flickered towards Rani. His face remained still but in the bright light, Mother saw his pupils dilate. To his credit, he showed none of his fear on his face. Rani watched him, still flicking her tail. She was annoyed to be disturbed from her rest.

 

“Don’t mind her. She’s just being a drama queen. I suppose she gets it from her owner.” Mother gave a charming little laugh, signalling for Taehyung to rise. She directed him to a chair in front of the desk and removed the hat on her head. Underneath, the curly wig was pale violet, made of real human hair that was dyed to perfection. Her attire was as per usual, black, a tight, skin-hugging dress that accentuated her broad shoulders and narrow waist. She liked seeing the confusion in straight men’s eyes when they looked at her. The tortured desire and longing and the refusal to let go of what they assumed was their concrete sexuality. But this one…he didn’t look at her with the same sort of lust. He just looked blank. He wasn’t attracted to females. She smirked.

 

“You’re awfully quiet. Do you have nothing to say or is this a battle of wits in which whoever speaks first rules the tide of the conversation?” she murmured.

 

“I have nothing to say,” Taehyung answered tonelessly.

 

Mother smattered her fingernails on the desk. “Well at least you’re honest.”

 

“I have something to ask though.”

 

“Go ahead.”

 

“Did you buy the shark or capture it?”

 

“I took her when she was a baby, right after I killed her mother and served her at a banquet for the Mayor of Seoul. Why? Do you like her?”

 

“She’s magnificent.”

 

Mother laughed again, and leaned over the desk, black eyes sparkling with mirth. “Do you know what, Kim Taehyung? I think I’m going to like you. A lot.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hwasa had no objections to Jimin being in her house. In fact, she clearly stated she was afraid it would be Taehyung. Ahn had only told her that one of the new boys Yoongi had sent would be staying with her. She was in no position to say no. When she saw Jimin, he had initially wondered why she seemed so relieved and only found out what Taehyung had done later.

 

“That sounds like Taehyung, alright,” Jimin had muttered.

 

He wondered if Taehyung would in fact call him or try to text him. A week went by with no response. Perhaps Yoongi had forbidden him. Taehyung was nothing if not an obedient henchman. A week went by in which he slowly received news from Ahn that he was no longer obligated to help steal the Jewel of Busan.

 

“As far as I know, Yoongi was talking about wanting you back in Busan with him. Until then, you’re to stay with Hwasa. She’s the dealer for a bunch of Gangnam elite circles, all young people with too much time and money on their hands. There’s been a recent demand for PCP, something Mother’s drug manufacturers are trying to keep up with.”

 

“PCP is a hell of a drug,” Jimin said in surprise.

 

“Yeah, so is being rich and bored.”

 

It wasn’t until much later that Jimin thought about what Ahn had said. Gangnam. The district that Jungkook distributed for. And he only remembered this tid bit when one night he returned home from a scheduled cocaine delivery to a lawyer’s office, and found Mingyu on the couch with Hwasa between his legs.

 

“Sorry. I didn’t think you’d be back this early. Thought I’d handle one last appointment before turning in for the night,” Hwasa said cheerily, wiping her mouth.

 

“Appointment? Harsh – “ Mingyu began to scoff, but then his eyes fell on Jimin. He buckled his best fast, as he sat up. “Holy shit. It’s you.”

 

“You two know each other?” Hwasa said curiously, looking from one to the other.

 

“We have…a mutual friend,” Mingyu said slowly, getting to his feet. “You met him since you got back?”

 

“Sure. So, you don’t have to go running to him about this,” Jimin said.

 

“Same old Park Jimin, huh. Never changes. I wonder what he even sees in you.”

 

“More than he sees in you evidently.”

 

“Alright ladies, tuck your claws back in,” Hwasa said disapprovingly. “Mingyu, if you’re staying for a glass of wine, it’s on the house.”

 

“Nah, I have to be somewhere. Besides, I don’t think I could spend another minute in the same room as this asshole,” he scowled.

 

Once the front door had slammed shut, Hwasa turned to ask, but Jimin shook his head before she could.

 

“Long story,” he muttered. “If it’s alright with you, I’d like to shower and take a nap.”

 

“Sure, that’s fine.”

 

He could feel her eyes searing, into his back all the way upstairs.

 

It only took Mingyu a day to blab to Jungkook about Jimin’s latest whereabouts. Hwasa opened the door to him, standing tall with a mask over the lower half of his face. She assumed it was a client and lazily asked whether it was an hour or more that he wanted.

 

“I’m not here for you,” he answered.

 

Jimin recognised the voice from the kitchen and hurried into the hallway. His eyes widened before his mouth settled into a pout of disapproval.

 

“Well, this one’s your appointment, apparently,” Hwasa snorted, walking past to go back into the living room.

 

“What did I tell you?” Jimin said as soon as they were alone in his room.

 

“You didn’t tell me you were living with Hwasa,” Jungkook shot back. “Why do you keep lying to me?”

 

“I moved out of my cousin’s place and came to live with her because he’s a crazy son of a bitch!” Jimin snarled. “Why are you here?”

 

“Relax! No one saw me, and even if they did, I’m paying a visit to the most desired prostitute in Yongsan-gu. No harm, no foul.” Jungkook took off his mask and fell down on the bed. “Looks like we do get to meet up after all.”

 

“Guess we do.” Jimin curled up on the pillows beside his head, nudging his shoulder with a sock-covered foot. Jungkook turned his head, pretending to bite at it. “I’ve been running drugs this past week. Apparently, I’ll be dealing PCP soon.”

 

Jungkook nodded. “We’re testing the final strains in the lab. The last man we tested it showed rabies symptoms within the first five minutes.”

 

“What sort of person would trust you guys to test drugs on him?”

 

“A desperate drug mule with no other financial support.”

 

Jimin’s throat tightened as memories of his own nightmarish experience under Taehyung came back to him. He was lost in the blackness of his recollections, oblivious to Jungkook’s eyes on him. The younger man had to reach out and stroke the underside of his chin to get his attention. Jimin shifted, cuddling the cushion closer.

 

“Mmm?” he mumbled.

 

Jungkook chuckled, mimicking the inquiring sound. He rolled over onto his side, dragging himself closer until his chin was resting on Jimin’s collarbone. “If you let me kiss you again, I promise I’ll be nicer than last time.”

 

Jimin shook his head but he was holding back a laugh. Jungkook’s nose was somehow always a little red. Under bright lights, he looked pale, but Jimin preferred him like this, skin golden in the soft shadows. He ran his finger down the elegant line of his nose, dropping a kiss on the end of it. Jungkook  seized up, almost in disbelief that Jimin had initiated the first move for once. He became still, as if any slight movement would scare off the other like an animal shying away. Jimin’s rosy, plump lips were like warm, soft cushions, caressing his skin, travelling from the corner of his eye, his cheekbones,  the decisive slant of his jaw and his strong chin. Jimin loved strong features in a man. That’s why you liked Taehyung so much, the dark little voice in his head hissed. He ignored it. Besides, he had never gently kissed Taehyung like this. He remembered one time he had grabbed his face and quite literally licked the sweat off it, almost biting his own tongue as Taehyung’s thrusts got more and more violent.

 

Jungkook leaned in, lips nuzzling Jimin’s jaw as the shorter male dropped butterfly kisses on his cheek. It was as if he was asking for permission. Jimin went slack against the pillows, giving it to him. Jungkook was quick on the beat, his body pressing down, all hard planes and rippling muscles. “You’ve gotten bigger...” Jimin mumbled against his mouth, nipping his lip. Jungkook answered with a faint moan, breath catching as he swallowed his lower lip into his mouth. With it still lodged between Kook’s teeth, Jimin managed to get out “and harder" before their tongues were wrapped together in a hot, wet dance of lust.

 

Jimin arched, the curve of his body fitting seamlessly into Jungkook’s. He threw back his head and let out a sound that was a cross between a gasp and a moan. Throw slightly parted lashes, Jungkook’s face came back into view –

 

Except it wasn’t Jungkook.

 

His nose was less aquiline, his eyes hooded, his lips downturned –

 

Fuck. He wasn’t dreaming. He was fully aware of his surroundings and yet even after a few panicked blinks, the face above him was Taehyung’s. Leering down at him before he kissed Jimin’s sore mouth, biting, growling, gripping his hips –

 

“Stop,” Jimin panted, pushing Jungkook off abruptly.

 

The younger boy fell to the side, revealing the arched tent in his pants. He grabbed a cushion with a muffled groan and covered it, pressing his lips together as he caught his breath in annoyance.

 

“What?” he hissed through gritted teeth. “You’re still playing push-and-pull? Seriously? After all this time?”

 

“I’m not. But I won’t disrespect Hwasa by doing this under her roof. She’s been lovely to me,” Jimin said, making up the excuse on a whim. Every day he grew better at lying on impulse and it was as frightening as it was a relief.

 

“Fair enough.” Jungkook rolled off the bed, pulling up his trousers. “Let’s go then.”

 

“Go where?” Jimin blinked.

 

“To my place.”

 

Jimin giggled. “Kookie, don’t be silly. I’m not your boyfriend. You can’t just drag me around wherever you want.” His smile faded when Jungkook’s face hardened. No, this definitely wasn’t the young man Jimin bordered on falling in love with in the past. This was someone else. He stood up, taking both his hands with a placating kiss on the back of each. “Let’s not rush it. It’s our first time together. I promise when it happens, your brains are going to be blown out. I’m going to make it worth your while.”

 

“It’ll be my first time,” Jungkook muttered.

 

“Really?” Jimin blurted in surprise. “I-I mean. Wow. I thought you would have done it by now.”

 

“Well I haven’t. And neither have you, so.”

 

Jimin gulped, choosing not to correct the assumption. Instead, he stepped on Jungkook’s toes and wrapped his arms around his neck, kissing the sharp curve of his jawline.

 

“And I hope that when we get down to it, your dick doesn’t fuck the way your mouth kisses. Seriously, work on your kissing technique. It’s wasted on these gorgeous lips.” He pressed his finger against them, squeaking in surprise when Jungkook bit at it.

 

“If I wasn’t still reeling from the fact that you’re actually back, I’d throw you on the bed right here and have my way with you,” Jungkook said.

 

Jimin smirked, a coquettish little curl of his lips that he had learned from his mother. He had seen the effect it had had on men she directed it at. It never failed to entice, promising more as long as they obeyed her every whim. Jungkook’s shoulders slackened, and his eyes became lighter, a helpless look of adoration returning to his face. What a surprise. His mother had indeed perfected the art of flirty manipulation to a tee.

 

If only you could see me now, mom. I bet I’d make you proud.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The dingy little flat became old news.

 

The same night he had brought Dean back to it, Ahn had informed him Mother wished to see him the next morning at 6am. Dean's talk with Yoongi was short, but he left the apartment looking sicker than when he’d entered it.

 

“His times running out. When it’s up, get rid of him discretely and finish paying the last of his sister’s bills,” Yoongi told Taehyung.

 

“Mother wants to see me,” Taehyung blurred out.

 

The creases in Yoongi’s face smoothed out. Taehyung leaned in closer to the screen, wondering if the connection had been lost. The corner of Yoongi’s lips curved upwards and he relaxed, also grinning as he ran a hand through his hair.

 

“You seem relieved that my reaction is positive,” Yoongi purred.

 

“I don’t know why, I thought you’d be mad,” Taehyung admitted.

 

“Why? Because you’re amazing at catching the eye of kingpins and making them fall in love with you?”

 

“I wouldn’t say fall in love. She was just intrigued.”

 

“Sometimes I wonder if you ever make use of mirrors.”

 

Taehyung laughed. “What? You think she’s going to make a move on me?”

 

Yoongi coughed, before lifting a cigarette into the view of the camera. He lit it up, smoothing off a speck of ash from his velvet blue suit. The choker around his throat was the colour of red wine. The longer Taehyung stared at the contrast against his milky white skin, the more he wanted to lean in and kiss it. He loved marking Yoongi’s porcelain body, marring it with red, blue and violet. The only thing better than suckling the side of his neck, was to open his eyes and see Jimin abusing the other side with his teeth sinking into Yoongi’s flesh. That night on the yacht sure seemed like a century ago.

 

“I have no doubt she will, as a matter of fact,” Yoongi said. “And when she does, you do what you gotta do.”

 

“Gotta? Wow. Feels strange hearing that sort of speech from you,” Taehyung snorted.

 

The boss tapped his cigarette on the ash tray, twisting the ring on his right hand. “Taehyung-ah. Are you listening to me, right now?”

 

“Yeah, I heard you. Sleep with the bitch if I have to,” Taehyung sulked. “I hope she takes off the damn wig and dress first though.”

 

“I’m sure you can persuade her to do whatever you wish.”

 

“I doubt it. She keeps a shark in an underground tank and an unchained tiger in her office.”

 

“Does she? Well, I’d heard the rumours. Honestly, she sounds brilliant. In another life, I would love to meet her.”

 

You’re more similar than I can even begin to describe. Taehyung sensed Yoongi was bored of the conversation and cut it off quickly. It was a surprise he ever even held the man’s attention long enough outside of bed as it was. Taehyung had not admitted to himself immediately that it was jealousy coursing through his veins when he saw the spark in Yoongi’s eyes as he spoke to Jimin. It had never been there for Taehyung unless a physical language was being spoken.

 

A mere day later, Taehyung was given a free pass into Mother’s home. He knew why she was letting him live there. Even without Yoongi’s instruction, he knew she intended to make him some sort of gigolo, a kept boy, as well as a weapon kept close to her chest. And at some point, she would tire, and be rid of him. Before that happened, he’d have the necklace and his debt to Yoongi would be paid. At least it wasn’t a debt in Yoongi’s eyes. But Taehyung considered it so; the older man had taken him in, given a poor farmer’s boy a chance to prove himself and gain prestige, unlike anything he had received in his life.

 

He had no sooner kicked open his bag on the floor of his new bedroom that the door swung open and a six foot five man walked in, bulky fists clasped before him. He bowed and informed him that Mother wished to have dinner with him.

 

“So, we just don’t knock in this place?” Taehyung snorted.  He had already noted there were no locks on any of the doors. Only a few had keypads set to their left.

 

The man said nothing, a silent sentinel sent only to retrieve the object he was supposed to. Taehyung took his sweet time getting dressed, choosing the suit Yoongi had gifted to him in the first month of their acquaintance. It was a deep red colour and the moment he had seen it, Taehyung knew what the one giving it wanted from him. He thought it only fitting that he should wear it for the kingpin of Seoul who no doubt wanted the same.

 

And when he found “Mother" dressed in a black suit, wig off, no makeup, sitting in resplendent elegance at the head of his dining table, Taehyung knew he was right.

 

 The man behind the dress was if possible, even more striking than his vicious female persona. His eyes had the same mocking quality, his plump lips positioned to smirk and sneer at everything he considered beneath him. A straight nose, moonlit skin and hair that rustled gently in the breeze coming from the windows. He was Snow White and the Evil Queen all wrapped up in one irresistible package.

 

Taehyung bowed deep. It was not difficult to show subservience of a kind that pleased naughty men. Everything he did with Yoongi, had worked so far with Mother.

 

“Mr Kim,” Mother said pleasantly. “Please, take a seat. The lobster is reaching lukewarm levels of heat. Thankfully for me, I hate it with a vengeance.”

 

And that meant Taehyung would have to eat lukewarm lobster as silent penance. He sat down and obediently raised a glass to the man.

 

“Do I still call you Mother?” he questioned.

 

“No.” He gave no other moniker for Taehyung to use.

 

“I’ll just call you boss then,” Taehyung nodded, plucking at the lobster.

 

“Awfully chatty for a hitman, aren’t you?”

 

“Being chatty is my trademark. I like to entertain my victims before they leave the Earth.”

 

The Boss traced a thin finger over his sumptuously drawn upper lip. It flicked up just a little but then settled again. Taehyung beamed, knowing it was a smile the older man was trying to cover. He knew exactly how he looked when he smiled, Yoongi had told him. Bright, innocent, gullible. And when he pulled it out, it made even the worst brutes walking the Earth hesitate for a moment. The Boss gave into the urge and half smiled in response.

 

He wasn’t eating much. Mostly just watching Taehyung scarf down food, whilst plying him with more wine and more questions.  He wanted to know about his family,  his school career and how had he gotten into this line of work. Taehyung answered that he had been born to an insurance worker and a petty criminal. His father’s mother had decided to take her grandson in so that there was a lesser chance he turned out like her son. Taehyung only had hazy memories of his father from when he was a toddler, a pair of large hands lowering to lift him up and a deep voice, not unlike his own, crooning lullabies in his ear. His parents had divorced early and his father played even less of a role in his life until he vanished altogether, never to be heard from again.

 

“I dropped out of high school and started running drugs for my uncle. The rest is history,” he shrugged.

 

“But from running drugs to assassinating...such a huge leap in such a short amount of time. You’ll understand why I’m so intrigued,” the Boss said, his voice gentle.  

 

“Well, the usual happened, as it does with psychos. I grew up hurting animals when the urge took over. Bullied kids smaller and larger than me in the neighbourhood. Left most traumatised. It was a long time coming, trust me,” Taehyung answered.

 

The other man laughed, a sound like a tinkle of crystals. “Why don’t I believe you? You say it with such lacklustre indifference and the face of an angel. I am not inclined to trust such words.”

 

“If I said I had a perfectly happy childhood, you still wouldn’t believe me.”

 

“Fair point. Let’s believe to disbelieve then. Wine?”

 

Taehyung nodded at the proffered bottle. He held up his glass and wondered if the Boss was trying to get him drunk for sex. Taehyung would have done him sober. The topic of conversation remained carefree and directionless until the Boss brought it to Soo Jang Ho.

 

“How are you finding it working for him?” he asked.

 

“I haven’t really met him. I’ve just been doing what my uncle tells me. Apparently, Soo is the biggest deal in Yongsan-gu.”

 

“He is. He’s a very powerful mobster. Once, he was leader of his own gang and monopolized Yongsan-gu with very little competition. Then, my father paid off his men and annexed it. Soo never expressed distaste at the idea but he is a very good actor. And my father lined his coffers well, of course.” The Boss flicked a piece of lint off his sleeve in a motion that reminded Taehyung very much of Yoongi. “all business. Soo is nothing if not a brilliant businessman.”

 

Taehyung reached for a plate of duck spring rolls and popped one whole in his mouth. The Boss watched with the sort of fascination that could only be described as if one was studying a particularly interesting reptile in the zoo. His white fingers, dusted with pink at the knuckles, undid his shirt buttons. Underneath, a lingering remnant of Mother’s feminine charms peeked through. The verdant sparkle was blinding. The necklace hit the light at exactly the right angle, leaving Taehyung blinking stars out of his eyes. It was even lovelier in real life. Initially, Taehyung thought it to be obnoxiously named, as if it were without doubt the representative jewel of Busan. But it truly was. And it looked magnificent on Mother’s throat, so milky white, identical to Yoongi’s.

 

The boss noticed him staring.

 

“I took it from the neck of the most beautiful woman in Korea. Or so she was known. I never found her looks particularly remarkable. Memorable perhaps. And her personality was one in a million. As was her wit and her charm.” He poured some tea into a cup and cleared his throat, fingering the largest emerald. “They put it on her charred corpse, intending to bury her with it. But I wanted it, so my father got it for me. If there was one thing he taught me well, it was to kill those nearest to me when they reach the precipice of becoming too powerful.”

 

The clock rang out the hour.

 

“Do you want me to kill Soo Jang Ho?” Taehyung said, without warning or context.

 

Dark eyes flashed his way. “What on earth makes you say that?”

 

Taehyung shrugged, shoving half a brioche in his mouth. For some reason, the hunger wouldn’t abate. “You mentioned someone not present or relevant to the both of us in the present, more than once. I assumed.”

 

The other man scoffed, and again, until it was a laugh. “You’re a strange young man. But very astute.” And then said nothing more about Soo Jang Ho.

 

Taehyung was already on his next casual concern.

 

“Do you ever truly drop the Mother persona?” he questioned.

 

The boss tucked his chin on the back of his hand and Taehyung felt something shift in the air. And in his pants. There was something about the quality of the man’s eyes that reminded him of a cobra. A gorgeous cobra waiting to strike. And he had a weakness for danger. He would let danger fuck him up the ass and shove a gag in his mouth (something Yoongi could attest to doing). Danger was his kryptonite.

 

“I had a wife and child once, when I was known as my father’s son. Both dead. I never went back to that persona since. It was tiresome anyway. It’s far more fun dressing up in pretty clothes and wearing makeup. I feel like I’m my own doll.”

 

The chirpy little laugh didn’t help Taehyung’s erection. But he was starting to sense something was…wrong. He was turned on, but he didn’t usually blush and his skin didn’t feel like a hundred degrees when he was. There had been something in the drink to help the boner along. Fuck. It better fucking be Viagra and nothing else.

 

“Is something wrong, Taehyung?” the boss fluttered his perky eyelashes and tilted his head with a shielded smirk.

 

“It’s too hot,” Taehyung muttered, leaning back in his chair and eyeing the window. After a moment’s consideration, he got up to go open one.

 

“Sit.” The command was sharp and Taehyung was down like a puppy dog.

 

The older man got up, and he stretched, sucking one full lower lip into his mouth with a soft groan. Every movement was bewitching to the onlooker. Was it the drug? Or was he truly attracted to the son of a bitch? Taehyung couldn’t figure it out. Not even when he walked over and planted himself smackdown in the centre of his lap. Literally, smackdown. His ass crushed Taehyung’s bulge under it and the younger had to stifle a fervent, embarrassingly high-pitched whimper. His glasses were removed with one quick flick of those pale fingers and dropped onto the table. His arms moved on autopilot, reaching up. One hand went around the back of the boss’s neck and the other in front. He considered ripping the necklace from his neck and making a run for it as best he could. After choking the man first of course. But the lusty fog around his brain was too thick to function past.

 

And one more thing.

 

Why end this for Yoongi quickly? Recently, it seemed his lover did not have his best interest at heart. Taking Jimin away was like some sort of punishment for a disobedient dog, with the minor difference that Taehyung had not made a single mistake. The glasses were still recording.

 

A mixture of misdirected rage and jealousy sprang up, and Taehyung grabbed the thighs of the man on his lap. He stood up, shoving him up and back on the table, hands gripping his hips possessively. There were no words. Their mouths connected and the rest of his body kicked into autopilot. Taehyung knew he was good at fucking. There was no self-consciousness in the way he ripped the man’s clothes off, not even giving him a chance to breathe past Taehyung’s tongue shoved down his throat. But he seemed to enjoy it, at least if the way his hips grinding on his crotch was any indication.

 

One last thing to seal the deal.

 

Taehyung grabbed a fistful of his jet black hair and licked his ear, fingernails clawing down his back. The little scream was delicious. Weak spot found.

 

“Before we get started, I’d like to know the name I’m going to be screaming,” he whispered.

 

He already knew his name. But he needed to be told, for the door to open.

 

He got no response, except for a viciously sharp bite to the lip. However, the answer arrived an hour later, once they were both sprawled on the rug before the fireplace, all tangled legs and arms, with Taehyung’s throat choking under the slender hands of the other. He rode him with such vigour, his hands clenching around Taehyung’s neck with every thrust downwards. And then he flung his head back and gasped –

 

“Say my name! Come with me, and say it!” he cried. And then he arched and bent down, running his pink tongue over Taehyung’s sweaty face and stopping at his ear. “it’s Seokjin…”

 

Checkmate.

 

Taehyung screamed it as promised but the smirk on his face as his cock exploded inside Seokjin’s ass was for an entirely different reason.

 

 

 

*

 

Jimin had spent the night tossing and turning, dipping in and out of hazy, hot dreams of Taehyung and Jungkook, until both of them melded into one haunting creature of insanity. Sometimes, one was fucking him and then the other, or both together. He’d had the usual amount of wet dreams going through puberty but recently, he had fallen back into that terrible phase and it was driving him mad. Waking up sweaty and sticky was never fun.

 

A phone call from Yoongi at 2am was almost welcome. It jolted Jimin from his stupor and he reached for it, hurrying to put it to his ear.

 

“Boss?” he rasped.

 

“Hello, Jimin-ah.” The familiar purr was like silver in his ear. “You’re in trouble.”

 

It took him a few minutes to separate the foreboding words from the gentle tone. And when he did, Jimin sat up, eyes wide, all traces of sleep gone.

 

“S-sir?”

 

“Kim Namjoon. Do you know him?”

 

Jimin almost jumped out of his skin. Sheer terror rushed through his spine. For some reason, there was a certain intonation in Yoongi’s voice that he recognised. His instincts saved him by telling him not to lie.

 

“Y-yes, I do. He was some cop who tried to get me on the straight and narrow when I was in Seoul briefly. He let me off for being drunk in public and lectured me a lot. I didn’t think he’d remember me, but…he did.”

 

His heart hammered in his ears.

 

“Well, you do have a very memorable face, my darling,” Yoongi crooned. “In fact, I have no doubt Taehyung’s probably thinking of it in his head as he fucks the daylights out of Mother.”

 

He what? Jimin decided not to ask.

 

“I lied. You’re not in trouble. I just wanted you to squirm.” Yoongi’s low laugh drilled through him. “I have it on good information that Kim Namjoon wants to go undercover. The informant who should have told me, didn’t, no doubt in a silly effort to protect his partner. He will be dealt with. The only thing keeping Namjoon from going undercover is that you recognise him. Namjoon will soon enough ask you to meet his sergeant and vouch for your trustworthiness. They’ll no doubt bribe you with complete protection in exchange for you keeping quiet about Namjoon’s true identity.”

 

“W-why does he want to go undercover? This makes no sense.” The last phrase was barely a whisper and Yoongi probably didn’t even hear it.

 

“He wants to find out who killed the Trio,” Yoongi yawned. He sounded like a cat when he did that.  “Help him. Humour him. That information could be useful for us.”

 

Oh god. Jimin ran a hand through his hair, remembering the watery quality of Jungkook’s eyes when he had revealed his wrongdoings. If Yoongi found out Jimin had known all along the answer to the Trio question, his forgiveness would not be as forthcoming as it was in Namjoon’s case.

 

“Assure the sergeant that for a fee, you’ll be a police informant. Persuade Namjoon you want to go on the straight and narrow and want to save up to leave Seoul and start a crime-free life elsewhere. Namjoon is a handy little tool. There’s nothing quite like the determination of a police officer. If he doesn’t end up dismantling Mother’s empire for us, then you will get rid of him once his usefulness expires. That is all.”

 

Click.

 

Horror clawed its way up Jimin’s throat, choking his windpipe.

 

Nothing so far could get him in trouble with the law, he had not involved himself in anything that would lead directly back to him.

 

Killing a police officer would certainly destroy that track record.

 

*

 

“I think he bought it,” Yoongi giggled, pouring himself another glass of wine. “Honestly, he is so gullible, it’s almost darling. I have no use for him apart from his brains. He’s very clever. Likes to act dumb though. The innocence isn’t forced. Anyone can see that.”

 

“And what of the fact that he’s hiding something from you? Or is that no longer a concern of yours?”

 

The voice seemed to come as if from the shadows, the corners of the room which the light from the fireplace just wouldn’t reach. A hand reached out to pick up a still full glass sitting on the table. The man’s features were smooth, high cheekbones, a perfectly sculpted nose and eyes that could melt ice. It was a face suited to smiling, yet it rarely did.

 

“Park Jimin and dangerous secrets hardly go hand-in-hand,” Yoongi scoffed. “Whatever he’s hiding, he probably thinks it’s bad. Like the police officer. It creates humorous situations for me, in which I laugh inwardly and he sweats to high heaven. Amusing, not worrying.”

 

“If you say so, love. You’re the boss.”

 

Yoongi fiddled with his signet ring as he turned his head and tilted it, much like a little bird. The gesture was adorable and out of place. “Oh, come now, Hoseok. Surely, we can drop these formalities when it’s just the two of us?”

 

“Have I surpassed Taehyung in that regard then?” Hoseok said playfully, but the sentiment did not reach his eyes.

 

Yoongi’s smirk faded. “You surpassed him the moment he believed you were dead.”

 

“A scheme only Min Yoongi could concoct,” Hoseok chuckled, taking a sip of the wine and swilling it about his mouth. “Although, I guess it helps not having my face seen by anyone aside from the two of you and Han.”

 

“And having street thugs stupid enough to kill anyone at name value given the right price,” Yoongi snorted. “I often marvel at how stupidly well all of it went. Including that last bit. Cha and his brother were an annoyance. Trust Taehyung to do exactly what I want, without even knowing it. He’s not stupid, per say. Just...so ridiculously impulsive. It’s like letting a pit bull with rabies into your bed. You never know if he’ll bite but that’s just the bloody thrill of it.”

 

Hoseok said nothing. His face was like steel. Yoongi reached out a polished leather shoe, stroking it under the bottom of Hoseok’s pant leg, brushing it against his ankle.

 

“He loved you, you know,” he said, his voice oddly tender. “Or…loves you, I should say. I feel that somewhere in the fascinating cobweb of his psychopathic brain, he still holds a flame for you.”

 

Hoseok put down his glass, upper lip curling. “You think he ever loved me? I don’t think he’s capable of it.” His Adam’s Apple bobbed and he blinked, hard a couple times, and then slower, eyes refusing to meet Yoongi’s. Instead, they gazed out towards the window, where the light from the moon brought silver to his dark eyes.

 

Yoongi gazed at his side profile in silence. He was perfection. “Well, he went on a killing spree for you, my love. Killing aa-aalll the people who supposedly tortured you, sparing only their children. He loved you, alright. Which is why it was imperative that I take you away from him.”

 

“Like a toy from a child,” Hoseok muttered.

 

“Like a toy from a dog. A very efficient, murderous, wolf-dog who was losing his edge,” Yoongi reminded him.

 

“Do you love him? Whenever you speak of him, I always wonder.”

 

“I love him about as much as it is possible for someone like me to love another,” Yoongi said, with utter honesty. “Do you?”

 

It was the millionaire dollar question. And with his usual taciturn slipperiness, Hoseok evaded it. He smirked, the little dimples rippling over his cheeks. He stood up and came closer, straddling the kingpin as he sat back in his velvet armchair. Yoongi let his glass fall to the table and exhaled, the sound coming out with a soft moan.

 

“I will always love you the most anyway,” Hoseok said, leaning down to seal their lips together.

Chapter Text

So I may have been feeling really bad about my writing and searched up my fic title in Twitter just out of curiosity. I saw people asking for updates and I felt invigorated and re-inspired so I pulled it together and…here we are :’) Enjoy!

 

p.s. I now know endgame. The warning tags have been changed accordingly. Please be aware of severe trigger warnings in this chapter – extreme violence, implied rape intentions, mentions of animal abuse via dog-fighting rings.

 

p.p.s Finally, in some form or other, all seven of BTS are in the last scene.

 

“You came dressed well. That’s a good start.”

 

Jimin scoffed under his breath and dodged Namjoon’s wandering hands as he tried to fix a loose lock of his hair, brushing the rest into place.

 

“I’m dressed in what is popularly known as a ‘thug suit’,” Jimin muttered. “Hardly dressed well.”

 

“Granted, that suit is popular amongst the mafia, but you pull it off respectably enough,” Namjoon smiled, his cheeks dimpling. The expression did not reach his eyes.

 

He was terrified. Terrified that Jimin’s interview with the sergeant would go south and his credibility would be questioned. If it was, that was the end of Namjoon ever hoping to solve a case that could end up doing some real good in the city of Seoul. That was all he wanted. To help the city he loved.

 

“I’ll try my best to convince him I’m desperate to change my ways,” Jimin sighed. “And when I do, he’ll allow you to go undercover to get killed. So, in all honesty, whether I do this or not, apparently both options are negative.”

 

The casual tone of his voice did not go unnoticed. Jimin swept a lock of hair out of his eyes, and turned to see Namjoon watching him, his dark eyes harrowing. Jimin felt slightly sorry for his blunt words. There was a very real chance Namjoon believed he would die on this mission.

 

And even if he was confident, he had no idea of the monster lurking in the shadows, wanting him taken out when his purpose was fulfilled. Yoongi had given the order of execution so cleanly, without fuss, Jimin finally understood what it was like to be Taehyung. Was he the new attack dog of Yong Geondal? A laughable thought. He could barely swing a knife the way Taehyung could, even on a good day. But Yoongi seemed to think he was good enough to take out a police officer.

 

“You’ll be fine,” Jimin muttered, putting on his glasses and discreetly touching the disguised button on the inner rim.

 

“I know I will be. I’m not involving myself with the heavier circles of the gang,” Namjoon answered, but he was twiddling nervously with his ring.

 

“You need to go deep to get the sort of information you want,” Jimin answered. “Or indeed any other information that would be worth saving to take Geomjeong-Pa down.”

 

“The sergeant just wants me find out who killed the Trio. Wants to leave the dismantling of Mother’s empire to officers who’ve been on the case since her father was alive.”

 

“And who still haven’t unravelled it. You should be the first. Let me give you a handy tip. I keep records. That’s my job, assigned to me by my uncle, therefore I know a hell of a lot more about what the thugs of Yongsan-gu do, where they go, what they eat, who they fuck, kill, hang out with, than any police officer in this precinct. There are three principle fight clubs running in Yongsan-gu right now. Two are run by the Yakuza, and the last one by Geomjeong-pa and the rich kids go there to get drugs, mix with the dirty underbelly of Seoul and generally fuck about. That’s where you want to hang out.”

 

“I…I haven’t been told of this fight club,” Namjoon said, slowly getting up. He was anxious, but Jimin saw a flicker of keen curiosity in his eyes. The younger male latched onto it.

 

“That’s the one you need,” he said, tilting his head. “It doubles as a dog-fighting ring. Although, I’ve been told they import animals to fight from everywhere. A panther versus a pitbull happened last week. The panther was ripped to shreds because the pitbull was jacked up on drugs.”

 

“Jesus Christ,” Namjoon murmured.

 

“My point is, the fight club attracts very important people. Namely, Mother. Her white tiger’s been in some fights. Though the last time she visited the club was six months ago, her most important men are usually there.”

 

“And this is a weekly thing?”

 

“Yep. Next one is in two days. Your choice if you want to come.”

 

He didn’t want to. It was written all over his face. Jimin summarised that deep down, in this 6 ft tall man, there was a young boy who had probably had a pet dog growing up. An animal he had loved more than his own parents, his siblings, any human being in the world. And that boy was curled up in the shadowed corner of his mind, crying like his heart was breaking at the thought of the dog-fighting ring. Jimin could see him through the glassy reflection of Namjoon’s eyes. He removed a pair of shades from his pocket and reached up to try them on Namjoon, masking his eyes.

 

“When we go, I suggest you wear these,” he said.

 

“Why?” the other frowned, taking them off, bemused.

 

“No reason. Just wear them.”

 

 

*

 

Mother was a one-time fuck.

 

Taehyung learned that lesson when he woke up the next morning and found Seokjin asleep beside him. The man slept on his back, both arms folded before him, as if he were placed in a coffin. His expression was serene, almost pleased.

 

Taehyung knew all the little tricks and turns to make Yoongi’s day start off well and he tried to do the same here, sliding deeper under the sheets. Before he could get anywhere near Seokjin’s thighs, a hand grabbed a fistful of his hair and wrenched him back up with enough force to pull some strands out by the roots. Taehyung grunted in muffled pain and scrambled to get back up until he was face to face with the kingpin.

 

“What?” he breathed.

 

“What do you think you’re doing?” Seokjin drawled.

 

“I was trying to suck your dick.”

 

“Well, don’t. You don’t get seconds.”

 

He released the Skull-Crusher’s hair and pushed him to the side, swinging himself and out of bed with easy animal grace. His every movement was graceful and feminine – small footsteps, the way he held his arms, how his hips swayed – he was so deep into Mother’s persona he didn’t throw it off even when the dress and the wig were packaged away. Seokjin threw a lace gown around his shoulders, disappearing into the en-suite, leaving Taehyung alone in the white, circular bedroom. The younger male fell off the bed with much less finesse and stumbled over to the vanity table. Just as he had suspected, in the mirror he saw dried blood crusted around his nose with white residue that looked like salt. He checked his arms. No track marks. Looked like cocaine and champagne had been the only aphrodisiacs of the night.

 

The en-suite door was open so Taehyung took the invitation and followed Seokjin through, finding him bent over the washbasin, delicately wiping his face.

 

“Does anyone get seconds?” he asked.

 

Seokjin ran his wet hands through his hair, sniffing a little, his eyes red. He was impossibly beautiful, in a way no kingpin should be. There were no scars, no mottled veins, no bloated belly from too much drinking. He was immaculate, like a Greek statue. Taehyung had a startlingly bold vision of the Aphrodite with the missing arm, porcelain and perfect, except for her severed limb.

 

He’d look perfect even without an arm, so why not take it?

 

Seokjin looked at him and Taehyung smiled quickly, making his eyes wide and innocent. The older male’s lip curled. He wasn’t fooled – he knew Taehyung’s thoughts had taken an abruptly dark turn - but there was laughter dancing in his eyes.

 

“I like you,” he said. “Continue to make sure I like you. It’ll be in your best interest, Kim Taehyung.”

 

“I’ll do it in the hope of getting seconds,” Taehyung challenged, wagging his eyebrows flirtatiously.

 

Seokjin laughed shortly, walking past him with a gentle pat on his shoulder. “If I’d wanted seconds, I would have been the one going under the sheets. You’re good, but not that good, so wipe that smirk off your face.”

 

It disappeared faster than an eraser on an Etch-a-Sketch.

 

“Lucky for you, your thirst for blood is something I like far more than your ability to fuck,” Seokjin continued, wafting perfume over himself and then a few spritzes into the air of his bedroom. “The sex was your reward. You’re now officially on your way to climbing to the most feared rank in Geomjeong-pa, just under me, of course.”

 

“Reward? Is this how you bestow promotions on all your men?” Taehyung’s eyebrow lifted in a lazy flick of amusement.

 

“Only the pretty ones,” Seokjin sneered. “Would you like some breakfast?”

 

‘Breakfast’ was a feast, spread across a round table on a veranda at the back of the house, far too much food for the both of them to finish. The shark tank extended all around the front of the house and the back – the floor of the veranda was six foot deep glass, just like the entrance hall, ending only when the rockery gardens began ten feet away from the balcony. At first, the water was still, but Cersei soon came to forage, swimming around the edges of the tank, a steady puff of red following her.

 

“Mmm, we’re not the only ones having breakfast,” Seokjin said with a little laugh, nibbling on a jam and scone.

 

Taehyung glanced down and dropped the crumpet in his hand when he saw the shark had something bared between its teeth.  “Is that a torso?”

 

“And legs,” Seokjin said brightly, gazing at Cersei as she swam the horizontal width of the tank before giving up and swimming back until she was out of view. “Isn’t she the cutest?”

 

“Very. I want to put her in a keyring,” Taehyung muttered, taking a hasty gulp of tea.

 

The kingpin watched him with sharp eyes, and then smiled. “Don’t worry, darling. It’s very rarely she gets to eat humans. Only when the human being in question has pissed me off beyond measure. Have some caviar, it’s delicious.”

 

Of course, he had caviar on his fucking breakfast table.

 

“Soo Jang Ho was supposed to be shark feed last night,” he continued, as if the conversation was about the weather. “But I changed my mind the moment I saw you. I have a better plan for him now.”

 

“You want me to kill him?” Taehyung nodded, finally comfortable since they were talking about his speciality.

 

“I do. But not secretly. An assassination is the last thing I need for someone like Soo. He is well-respected by his men and has earned his reputation as a quick-witted, very adept man. If only he had not turned against me, I could have used his services for far longer. No, I need him to be publicly humiliated. I need his men to see that he is too weak to lead them. And I need the perfect display of aggression to prove that you are going to be my new executioner, someone to replace the Trio and strike fear into the hearts of my men. Because you see, a ruler who is loved is bound by the constraints of morality and justice and therefore the borders of their empire remain unstretched. A kingpin has no such qualms. Fear is our ballgame, and I intend to be the best player.”

 

Taehyung bit into his lower lip, a grin slowly spreading on his face. “You want me to fight him? Like some sort of gladiator?”

 

“Like a dog,” Seokjin smirked, tilting his head to match the movement Taehyung made with his. “In a dog-fighting pit. Geomjeong-pa’s most famous underground ring reconvenes this Friday. I want you to initiate an argument with Soo – he will be there – and I will step in and suggest you both fight. Winner takes all. He’s overconfident, he’ll think nothing of fighting you, even if he has heard of your track record.”

 

“Winner takes all? I get Yongsan-gu?”

 

Seokjin snorted, a sound far too gruff and manly for his delicate features. “Don’t be foolish. You’ve proven yourself adept at killing, not ruling an entire drug kingdom. Yongsan-gu will go to whomever I see fit. Your role is executioner and you will gain it in two days if you fight well. Mark my words, if Soo gets the better of you, I will let him kill you.”

 

Taehyung nodded, his face expressionless. If he was worried, he didn’t admit it to himself. The thought of physical violence usually blinded him to everything else but the necessity of coming out victorious. He knew how valuable this ability of his was, to block out everything but the desire to slake his thirst for blood. It helped him win, not thinking about whether he would live or die, or whether his victim deserved it.

 

Fighting like he had nothing to lose, was the only thing that had kept Taehyung alive so long.

 

*

 

When lies piled upon lies upon lies, it was quite similar to being trapped in a coffin underground, with only one breathing tube and a growing sense of claustrophobia as the darkness drew in.

 

Jimin felt this sickening, trapped feeling when he introduced Namjoon to his “Uncle Ahn” as a kid from the streets who had been doing extraordinarily well running drugs. Ahn was a liar, Jimin was a liar and Namjoon was a liar. All the lies criss-crossed like a game of Cat’s Cradle and Jimin plucked the strings just right to make the next shape but wondered when his finger would slip, and the thread would snap, breaking the formation.

 

Ahn was not happy with Namjoon’s sudden appearance.

 

“Your job was to keep records,” he hissed as they both stood in Hwasa’s kitchen with the door firmly shut. “Not to recruit for Geomjeong-pa!”

 

“Look, I felt sorry for him and he followed me around until I said I’d put him in touch with you,” Jimin pleaded, “He’s a high school dropout and he’s been living in a cardboard box since his family threw him out. He fell in with a petty gang and he’s been running for them but he’s turned a profit margin of 80%. Imagine! A bunch of kids who don’t know any better and are only dealing with marijuana! You’re embezzling money anyway, so let him make more of it for Soo!”

 

“Keep your fucking voice down!” Ahn hissed, grabbing his throat and slamming him against the fridge.

 

Jimin coughed, wincing as his windpipe clenched with pain. “Ahn – trust me – “

 

“I’m not going to fucking trust you, I’m going to let you off this once. Next time, Yoongi finds out and your body is at the bottom of the Han River. Do you think you’re the first person he’s sent to me? You’re all expendables! Hwasa and I are the only constants and I will take you out the moment you present yourself as a danger, do you understand?”

 

Jimin could really have done with Taehyung right now. Though he was no soft kitty cat, he would never have tolerated Ahn laying hands on him, he knew that much. Jimin understood that in Taehyung’s mind, he was partially his responsibility and that he took that seriously. Ahn was a lone ranger, and Jimin doubted he would even protect Hwasa if it came to end game. The older man finally let go and Jimin wheezed, massaging his throat, feeling his head spin.

 

Ahn left the apartment without a backwards glance at Namjoon, who was fully immersed in his new role rugged, streetwise kid on the sofa. Jimin smiled a little when he saw him bundled up in a padded coat, his hair ruffled onto his forehead and a cigarette tucked behind his ear. It was the stark opposite of the put together police officer he knew.

 

“Are you alright?” Namjoon said anxiously, “I heard a thud.”

 

“You’re in,” Jimin said simply, choosing not to describe what had happened. “And I’ve boasted of your abilities, so that’s the story we’re sticking with. You’re clever enough so you’ll work out a way to maintain that image.”

 

“Drugs, I can do drugs,” Namjoon nodded, as if it were an algebra equation that he could solve if he focused hard enough. Jimin was surprised at how remarkably well he was assimilating after his initial shock at hearing of the dog-fighting ring. He seemed to have been preparing himself for this for a while.

 

“So, the underground ring,” he said, sitting down beside him, “There’s someone quite high up in Mother’s ranks that will probably be there, and you should meet them. He manufactures drugs and recently, he’s trying to develop his own strain of PCP – “

 

“Hold up. PCP?” Namjoon’s eyes widened.

 

Jimin nodded grimly. “Mother doesn’t play. She wants Seoul’s underworld draining in a sinkhole that she controls. Gone are the days when crack was the hardest drug to be found. Anyway, this man is one of her best manufacturers, but that strain won’t be finished any time soon. It’s not feasible. However, he also creates the best crack on the market and that’s what you’re going to be dealing in. I wish I could say start off with marijuana, but since I have this connection and I want you to get out of this world as quickly as you can, this is your best stepping stone.”

 

He did not add that it was the only stepping stone. All Namjoon had to do was realise it, without Jimin telling him point blank.

 

Namjoon didn’t answer immediately, and the clock ticked on, marking out the seconds in a world that was increasingly beginning to lose the natural concept of time. Jimin met his gaze for a while, but couldn’t hold it, looking away.

 

“Jimin, you can leave this world when I do. You have other options,” Namjoon said gently. “You don’t have to stay in Geomjeong-pa. Whatever it is keeping you here, cut ties and leave. I can keep you safe.”

 

Jimin nodded. “ I know you mean well, but I could have gotten out myself if I’d wanted. But I can’t. I have something I need to do.”

 

“What?”

 

“I’m not at liberty to explain.”

 

“Fine, keep your secrets. But please don’t become a photograph on the sergeant’s wall of criminals he wants to crush. And please don’t let that photograph have a red cross on it one day.”

 

“I’ll try not to.” Jimin stood up abruptly, feeling a strange prickle in the back of his eye. “Anyway, you should probably camp out upstairs. No point you going home since you’re now known as homeless. Hwasa won’t mind as long as you don’t get in her way when she has clients over.”

 

“Ah yeah, I forgot she was – er – “ Namjoon trailed off, scratching the back of his head. “By the way, you never gave me the name of the man I’m supposed to meet at the dog-fighting ring.”

 

“It’s Jungkook. Jeon Jungkook.”

 

*

 

Jimin did not know what Taehyung was reporting to Yoongi, or even if he was reporting at all anymore. He knew nothing. Stealing the necklace was a faraway mirage of the not-so-distant past, a sort of unifying point that Yoongi had used to gather them and then tear them apart. Something had happened, Jimin was sure of it. The necklace was a fine enough plan until suddenly he was being told to live with Hwasa and Taehyung was nowhere to be found.

 

It had barely been a fortnight, but Taehyung’s silence was worrying.

 

Jimin did not flatter himself enough to think he would try to contact him for the sake of what they had shared in that apartment. Because that was nothing. It wasn’t even masturbation material for Yoongi. It was visual proof that he had both of them dancing to his tune. Jimin was beginning to believe the only thing Yoongi got off on was power. But he also knew Taehyung got off on him very well. They had managed to go at it one night, for four rounds, without Viagra, cocaine, anything to aid them. The attraction was unbelievable. And for that sake alone, Jimin expected to see Taehyung in the two weeks since he left the flat.

 

But he didn’t.

 

Silence.

 

Perhaps he missed him, in his own perverse, twisted way. Too often, Jimin curled up in bed, and he swore he could feel Taehyung’s breath on his skin, expecting his long limbs to drape over his body at any moment. He had a habit of mumbling stupid nothings in the morning, usually directly into Jimin’s ear. And in that hazy area of sleep and consciousness, Jimin always giggled, mumbling stupidly back until their mouths met and sleep wore off. They forgot what they were then and simply became two young men in their early twenties, wanting the other one in bed with them.

 

Or perhaps Jimin missed knowing nothing could touch him with Taehyung under the same roof. That even if his secret was threatening to come out, Taehyung would shoot Jimin’s attacker first and ask questions later. Taehyung’s protection was invaluable, especially with an increasingly tight-strung Ahn. Jimin knew now why Yoongi had not informed Ahn of Namjoon’s status as an undercover cop. The old bastard was greasy. He could switch sides and return to Geomjeong-pa without a backwards glance if he sniffed any hint of the police around himself. Rival gangs were nothing. The moment a cop badge showed up, the enemy of one’s enemy became a friend and gang allegiance be damned.

 

Yoongi had his fingers in far too many honeypots and they were all just bees to him, stuck in the honey, legs flailing helplessly.

 

Even Mother, the Queen Bee.

 

Better to be the beekeeper than the bees trapped in the hive.

 

Such thoughts filled Jimin’s head all the way to the warehouse building located by the outskirts of Yongsan-gu. He and Namjoon walked in silence. He knew the cop was sick to his stomach and feared if his mouth opened, he would end up barfing over the two of them. But his face looked determined, if a little pale.

 

The outside of the warehouse was teeming with thugs, like ants to an anthill, smoking and standing about. No sane civilian would go down this alleyway on a Friday night. All the women here were prostitutes selling their wares, and the men were either mafia or young chaebols, easily pointed out by the nervous, excitable energy that surrounded them. They were untouchable, all with their own bodyguards around them.

 

The doorman was a well-known associate of Ahn’s and he cast one look over Jimin before pushing him towards the door. But he held up a hand and barred Namjoon entry without hesitation.

 

“He’s with me,” Jimin explained.

 

“Get the fuck out of here,” the bouncer snarled at Namjoon, shoving him. “I don’t know him, he doesn’t get entry.”

 

“I said, he’s with me, you overgrown piece of shit.

 

As soon as he said it, Jimin feared he might have overplayed the rude-mouthed thug card.

 

“Listen, runt – “ the conversations on either side stopped as Jimin found himself wrenched up by the collar and lifted so high up against the wall, his feet left the ground. He saw Namjoon move forward abruptly, but he was shoved back by a leering thug.  “ – you either go in alone or I scar your pretty little face and leave you to the hounds.”

 

When he said hounds, he nodded his head towards a group of bulky men standing to one corner, snorting crack as their gold teeth flashed in the streetlights. One of them whistled when he caught Jimin’s eye and groped his crotch, thrusting it in his direction.

 

“Put me down,” Jimin hissed through his front teeth, struggling to breathe past the choking hold of his collar as it was bunched up by the bouncer’s meaty fists.

 

The man laughed, throwing his head back, a wild, rabid cackle that sent chills down his spine. Jimin felt his body tense, feeling as if any moment now he’d piss his pants and end up humiliating himself in front of men who thrived on displays of fear. The bouncer’s head came snapping forward and when it did, he butted Jimin in the face. The shorter male heard the sick crack as if from a distance away. The world erupted in stars and his vision wavered.

 

He heard Namjoon yelling, and then felt the bouncer’s grip loosen as Namjoon managed to get past the thug holding him back. He only got the big man’s grip to lighten a little before the bouncer elbowed him in the face, sending him knocking against the back of the warehouse doors. He dropped Jimin, kicking him in the ribs, a thick wad of green stained spit landing by his head.

 

Before Jimin could get up, he felt hands pulling him up and laughter. He saw the flash of a gold tooth and kicked out, snarling and fighting. It only encouraged the man who flung his arms around his waist and lifted him up off the ground, dragging him back towards the shadows of another alley a few doors down. It was one of the so-called ‘hounds’.

 

And then Jimin saw a familiar face and screamed for all he was worth. In any other scenario, he never would have done such a thing. But he was about to be dragged into an alley, gang-raped and no doubt strangled to death. No one was about to stop it. Options were scarce.

 

“JUNGKOOK! JEON JUNGKOOOOOOOKKKKKKKKK!”

 

The darkness of the alleyway swallowed him whole. He was weakened enough to be pulled like a rag doll. The world seemed to stop. A broken sob left his lips as he whispered Jungkook’s name again and tried one last time to rid himself of his attackers, biting the hand that held him. All that he got was a hard punch to the head and that was enough to almost make him pass out. He went limp, slumping to the ground.

 

“Get his pants off – “

 

“I’m going first back off – “

 

“Like hell you are – I caught him – “

 

“The bouncer knocked him out for you, you piece of shit, he’s mine - “

 

It was a blessing they decided to argue over who went first. Jimin heaved himself up and began crawling on his elbows, life-saving adrenaline coursing through. The light of the street lamps washed over him and through tear-stained eyes he saw Jungkook still outside the door, having stopped. And – thank fuck  - Namjoon was talking to him, jabbing his finger in the direction of the alley he wasn’t being allowed to get to by the men standing in his way. Jungkook pushed past them with ease and Jimin saw his pale face and round eyes, before hands on his ankles dragged him backwards.

 

“OY! GET THE FUCK OFF HIM RIGHT NOW!” Jungkook roared, with such rage, his face flushed crimson red.

 

He was there in seconds, Mingyu right behind him. Jimin saw a girl with blonde hair cut into a fringe, jump over his arm and land a punch in the face of one of his assailants. He heard Yugyeom’s voice though he hadn’t seen him approach and then hands were pulling him, lifting him up and away from the alley. It was Yugyeom; Jimin’s head lolled as he struggled to regain his senses and his vision cleared somewhat to see the boy’s anxious face shimmer into view.

 

“Holy shit, are you alright? Jimin? Jimin!” he said, slapping his face.

 

“I’m fine…jesus…” Jimin muttered, suddenly realising he was panting and struggling to catching his breath. He was sore, and there was blood trickling down his forehead where the bouncer had headbutted him, but he was conscious and able to stay that way. “Jungkook, leave it – leave it!”

 

He stumbled forward, fearing the men were Geomjeong-pa. Jungkook and Mingyu and the girl were going at them like maniacs. If Mother found out Jungkook had slaughtered more of her men for his sake, Jimin knew he would finally be forced to come face-to-face with her and that was the last thing he wanted.

 

“They’re Yakuza,” Yugyeom said quickly, grabbing his arm and holding him back. “Just…let him.” He looked away with a grimace.

 

Jimin’s jaw dropped, but he became still and watched as Jungkook’s arm moved once, twice, thrice in a sharp, deliberate movement. The last of the men dropped and he let him sink to the floor, walking back out with a switchblade that was so copiously covered in blood, not an inch of its original silver could be seen.

 

Jungkook’s eyes glittered with a sinister insanity, red splattered over his chin and jaw and all over his clothes. He didn’t say a word to Jimin, grabbing his elbow and steering him back towards the warehouse entrance. Choi stood there, his face drawn with tension as he saw his young charge return covered in blood and breathing as if he had run a marathon. The look he gave Jimin was a lot worse.

 

“He’s with me,” Jimin muttered, yet again about Namjoon when Jungkook tried to keep him from going over to the man. Namjoon began asking him if he was alright, but was silenced when Jimin shook his head just the smallest bit. Showing concern was out of place here.

 

“What are you doing?” Jungkook hissed in his ear as they were allowed easy access into the warehouse this time round. “What the fuck are you doing, Jimin? Why do you keep throwing yourself headfirst into shit?!”

 

“I brought him to see you,” Jimin jabbed his thumb at Namjoon. “A new dealer for you.”

 

“You mean, you came all the way here, almost got killed because you wanted to bring me a new dealer?” the anger in his voice was steadily rising.

 

“No, I wanted to watch a fucking dog-fight, that’s why,” Jimin snarled, slapping his hand off. “I’m grateful you arrived when you did but seriously, don’t start trying to control what I do and where I go. I told you, we’re not boyfriends – “

 

“And would it be so bad if we were? Maybe it’d keep you from getting killed – “

 

“Listen – “

 

“Um guys? Maybe not the place for this particular discussion,” Yugyeom’s voice hesitantly sounded from behind them. They turned to stare at him and he pointed downwards, where a steep set of stairs descended into darkness, and the slowly rising sound of cheers. “Don’t want you to fall down the stairs by accident,” he smiled awkwardly.

 

Jungkook finally let Jimin walk on his own and the other hung back until all three of his friends were ahead. He then turned to Namjoon and muttered, “You alright? You took a pretty bad hit back there.”

 

“I’m fine,” Namjoon muttered back, as they descended the steps, one at a time so as not to lose their balance in the narrow space, “I’m more worried about you. Are you sure you don’t have a concussion?”

 

“I’ve survived far worse,” was all Jimin said, even as stars danced in his vision.

 

“That’s not necessarily a good thing.”

 

Yeah, well, not like I ever had a choice.

 

The dog-fighting ring was exactly what Jimin had imagined and more. He had only heard tales of it from Ahn, but it was entirely different to see it. The underground bunker was massive, stretching under many buildings, thickset pillars holding up the ceiling and the interior completely grey brick. There was a second level, with seats for VIP viewing, branched off from the ground floor with metal railings.

 

In the centre, between two pillars, the pit was dug out, fifty feet long, thirty feet wide and twelve feet deep. The sides of it had foot holes carved in, for climbing out - there was no other way in or out. The top of it was ringed off by rope to keep the spectators back. It was like a nightmare pit, taken from the vivid bowels of a Tarantino movie, brought to life in terrifying colour.

 

Two dogs were already in there. Pitbulls, one considerably heftier than the other, but with less energy. Its eyeball was hanging out of its socket, but it kept fighting, even as the smaller one tore chunks of flesh from its ailing body. Jimin glanced over at Namjoon, who was transfixed by the sight, horror slowly creeping into his eyes.

 

“Come on,” he muttered, steering him away, “You don’t need to see this. And put on the shades I gave you.”

 

Jungkook was on the eastern end of the second level, sitting away from the blinding white lights above the ring, on a row of seats occupied only by his friends and Choi. He was watching Jimin, and though there was no signal of assent between them, Jimin nudged Namjoon and gestured to him, leading him to the single set of stairs that went up. Mingyu watched them approach, with a little leer on his face, blood dried on his jaw. The girl was still, her expression dark and Yugyeom just smiled quietly.

 

“Official introduction – Jungkook, meet Namjoon. He’s going to be an asset to your drug running, so take him on,” Jimin said briefly, taking the empty seat beside Jungkook as he did.

 

Jungkook glared at Namjoon and his eyebrows remained furrowed as he looked away. He was still thoroughly pissed off but if it meant he wouldn’t try to talk to him, Jimin was fine with it.

 

There was a clear view of the dog-fighting pit from where they were but none of them except Jungkook was really watching. The other three were talking to Namjoon, and through the noise from down below, Jimin figured they were mostly posing him with questions. He hoped the cop had rehearsed his backstory carefully, and by the sound of his eloquent rabbling, it appeared he had. He had been worried for a short while, thinking Namjoon was not as put together as he had seemed.

 

“Oh great, look who it is,” Jungkook muttered.

 

“What?” Jimin leaned in to hear him better.

 

Jungkook nodded across to the opposite end of the second level.

 

She had come in almost unnoticed. At least, no fuss had been made to announce her arrival. Dressed from head to toe in a black hanbok with a hat that veiled her face, there was no denying who that was on the chair closest to the balcony, looking almost directly down on the pit. Jimin started a little, reaching for the face mask in his pocket.

 

“She doesn’t know what you look like, Jimin,” Jungkook said.

 

“I’m not taking any risks. I’ve been beaten up enough for one night,” Jimin muttered back, slipping on the mask.

 

He would have done it a lot quicker if he had noticed who was at her right side. When he did, Jimin’s gasp was muffled by his fist, pressed against the stiff material of the mask.

 

Taehyung’s hair was swept off his forehead, explaining why Jimin hadn’t immediately focused on his face. It was almost unrecognisable, just with a simple change of hairstyle. His suit was deep red, almost black, and a diamond earring winked in the light as he moved. He was saying something to Mother as he watched the fight, completely at ease, as if he had been at her side for years.

 

Jimin ignored the twisting knot of tension in his stomach and tried to focus on the fight. It was over within seconds of him turning his attention to it. The bigger dog had miraculously managed to kill the smaller even with all his injuries. But they were too great for his survival and he was pronounced dead soon after. A great yell of triumph went up from those who had bet on him and money was exchanged as the bets were cashed out.

 

“Bringing me this guy…does this mean you want to join me again?” Jungkook said suddenly.

 

He was staring at Namjoon, but moved his gaze back onto Jimin slowly.

 

“Sure, I don’t know,” Jimin answered, clearly distracted.

 

Taehyung was descending the stairs, and he had a very focused look on his face. Jimin saw him go around the pit and towards the far end where the gambling tables were spread out. He took a man’s arm and turned him around. Jimin flinched when he saw that it was Soo Jang Ho. What sort of status had Taehyung been granted to be able to pull on the arm of a man like that? 

 

Soo’s face was telling enough. He glanced up towards Mother and then back at Taehyung before shoving his shoulder. Soo’s men immediately thronged behind their boss, turning on the young man. Taehyung turned as if to leave, but then swung back, fist flying directly into Soo’s face. A brawl broke out almost instantly.

 

“What the fuck?” Mingyu said, getting up to lean over the railing. He laughed when he saw what it was and began to join in the chant of FIGHT FIGHT FIGHT that had broken out.

 

Before it could get any louder, a microphone screeched through the speakers, forcing everyone to cover their ears. The announcer who had been previously giving a play-by-play of the dog fight, had a note in his hand, and with a brief bow to Mother, turned to the crowd.

 

“Gentlemen, if you please! Mother has a message for – her words, not mine – the two fuckers by the gambling tables. If you want to fight like dogs, join the pit! On one hand we have Soo Jang Ho, undefeated boxing champion in his heyday! On the other, we’ve got Kim Taehyung, Mother’s new pretty bitch!”

 

Laughter roared through the chamber and the announcer paused to grin up at Mother who was still standing at the railing, her face veiled.

 

“Place your bets, gents! We haven’t had a human-dog fight in a while! Winner takes all! And I mean – all!”

 

Such a roar went up it was as if the ceiling would collapse, bringing the buildings above crashing down on them.

 

“What is this?” Jimin said to Jungkook, his face white as a sheet, “is this actually going to happen?”

 

“Yep,” Jungkook grinned, “I’ve seen men tear each other to pieces in that pit. One of them is gonna be carried out in a body bag. She won’t have it any other way.”

 

Jimin felt the world start spinning.

 

Everything happened in a blur. One moment, the throng around the gambling tables was tightly packed, and then it dispersed, a path cleared for the two fighters to enter. Soo did not look pleased. He was complaining, gesturing up at Mother, but it appeared he was being forced to prepare for a fight. Jimin had a feeling he didn’t want to, though he couldn’t imagine why not. Taehyung was well built for his lean figure, but he was nowhere near on the level of muscle Soo had rippling through his suit. Both of them were told to take off the top half of their clothes, leaving only their trousers.

 

Soo’s muscled physique had tattoos all over it, and they seemed alive as he flexed. Taehyung had comparatively less, and as Jimin had feared, he was much slighter in comparison. But he had a cocky grin on his face and it didn’t seem to affect him in the slightest that every single person he walked past on his way to the pit was mocking him, hurling insults and howling with laughter, thinking they had gained easy money with their bets placed on Soo.

 

Normally, Jimin would have laughed to see them so confident. But he himself was not confident at all. What he knew of Soo was that the man was a sheer force of nature in everything he did. He was sharp mentally and despite his age, still physically well maintained. Taehyung was all violence and eagerness, very little strategy unless he was planning an assassination. He was the smaller dog, the one with all the energy, only to eventually get taken out by the stamina of the older animal.

 

“Cigarette break,” Jimin murmured to Jungkook before getting up abruptly and walking downstairs. He wriggled through the throng of people until he was out in the corridor, the fire exit door lying open at the end of it. It was less crowded out here now, most of the people having been attracted to the sound of a new fight being announced.

 

He pulled out the sixth burner phone he’d acquired in a fortnight and dialled.

 

Yoongi picked up on the fifth ring.

 

“What mission did you give Taehyung?” he said, forgetting all honorifics in his urgency.

 

“Jimin,” Yoongi said coldly. “What is the meaning of this?”

 

Jimin thought he heard a male’s voice whisper something in the background, but it was unclear. The whisper sounded muffled, as if through bedsheets.

 

“What did you tell Taehyung to do? He came into the dog-fighting ring with Mother, had a fight with one of her men, and she suddenly suggested they both fight. He’s about to go into the pit with a man who’s twice his size and is an undefeated boxing champion!”

 

“What’s his name?”

 

“Soo Jang Ho.”

 

There was a pause.

 

“Taehyung didn’t mention him in correlation with her,” Yoongi said. “What is he doing?”

 

“I don’t know, that’s why I asked you! I know we’re both expendable to you, Ahn told me! Is this how you’re trying to get rid of him? By having him torn limb from limb?!”

 

“Jimin, you’re forgetting your manners. Careful how you step,” Yoongi snapped, a real threat in his voice this time. “He’s gone rogue. I have no other explanation. Either that, or he’s lost his damn mind. Is there any way you can get him out?”

 

“No, sir,” Jimin muttered, pulling at his hair tight, his eyebrows furrowed helplessly.

 

“Then, he’s dead. Leave it.”

 

“But, sir – “

 

“He had clear orders. If he wants to get himself killed, then let him die.”

 

Click.

 

Jimin knew there was very little love to be found in Yoongi’s world, but he had seen something of it between him and Taehyung. No matter how crude their relationship was, there was real attachment. He didn’t believe this was how easily Yoongi could snap off his connection. Well, Jimin would be damned if he didn’t let him watch Taehyung die. If Jimin had to, then the son of a bitch had to as well. He pulled out the glasses case from his breast pocket, flipping them out and slipping them on.

 

Inside, the fight had just started, and the atmosphere was like heroin. The pounding metal music someone was blasting in the background didn’t help. Jimin climbed the stairs quickly, ignoring the stares from a few men, and even throwing off one as he tried to grab at him. Jungkook was pressed to the railing, eyes alight with life as he watched the fight, Mingyu placing his own bets with Yugyeom in the corner. The blonde girl was sitting looking thoroughly bored and Namjoon was beside her, still and quiet. Jimin walked around the railing, past Jungkook, a little closer to Mother’s seating area at the far end, emboldened by the mask across his face. From his new vantage point, he could see the fight a lot better.

 

It was as he feared.

 

Taehyung already had blood on his face and Soo only had sweat on his. Taehyung took being battered well, that couldn’t be denied. But how long could he be a punching bag before he fell? Mother was sitting now, her veil up. For a moment, Jimin could only stare at her. Him. She was a man, but in that attire, she was also female, and both fused in her face, a perfect harmony. She had the most beautiful face Jimin had ever seen. He almost forgot the fight, the noise around him dulling. It was as if Mother felt his stare, because her sharp eyebrows came together and her lashes lifted. Jimin looked away quickly before their eyes met.

 

Down in the pit, Taehyung was cornered against a wall, his head lolling as Soo slammed his fist into his stomach. Jimin’s knees felt weak. He took a deep, shuddering breath, holding onto the railing. Soo held up his fist to the spectators, yelling something. It seemed he wanted the fight to be over, as he believed Taehyung to be thoroughly beaten. He growled at the announcer who passed the message onto Mother. Before her permission to end it could return, Soo stamped angrily towards the foot holds in the wall.

 

Most of the crowd, including Jimin hadn’t even noticed Taehyung was on his feet again. He was swaying a little, both his eyes swollen, and his lips bruised and bleeding. His bloodied knuckles worked at his belt, untying it and he slid it off, letting his trousers fall down with it. There was laughter from the people who noticed, hysterics, as no one had any idea what the fuck he was doing. He looked ridiculous.

 

Mother’s message returned to the announcer and Jimin saw his eyebrows lift up. He hesitated before he lifted the mic to his mouth.

 

“It appears Mother wants the fight to go on – wait for iiiitttt – TO – THE – DEATH!” he yelled the words with a pause between each to create tension, and on the final one, Taehyung swung his belt around  Soo’s neck from behind as he put his foot on the third hold on the wall.

 

The man came crashing down, and Taehyung’s face twisted. Jimin was far away from him, safely above on the second level, but even he felt his stomach drop in terror. There was no other way to describe the expression Taehyung had, but as having been ripped straight from Lucifer’s face himself. His teeth were bared in a grin, blood pouring from his mouth as he tightened the belt and dragged Soo back. He was laughing. In the sudden hush from the crowd, Jimin heard Taehyung’s wild laughter.

 

He was enjoying it. The pain, the battering, everything. He had enjoyed it. It had fed his ultimate intention to do this.

 

Soo was trying his very hardest, but he was already weakened from the fight and the demonic energy in Taehyung’s body was flowing through into the belt, which would not give, no matter how much the older man clawed at it.

 

He took a while to die, and as he did, his men up above were trying to get to the ropes and down into the pit. But they were being repeatedly shoved back by Mother’s personal henchmen. Taehyung was not satisfied. His grin was gone the longer it took Soo to die. He finally let the belt go and Soo sank to the ground, half delirious with lack of oxygen. The younger wasted no time and straddled him. What he did next was too much for Jimin to watch, and the roar of disgust from the crowd was deafening.

 

Taehyung’s thumbs jammed into Soo’s eye sockets, turning his eyeballs into a messy, bloody mush. Unfortunately for Soo, he was still conscious. His scream tore from his lungs in a hysterical, high-pitched wail, a sound no man of his size should have been able to make. His legs quaked violently and he thrashed as death throes took him over. Taehyung was still pressing down, blood squirting from Soo’s skull directly onto his face. He licked his lips and stood up, stumbling back, spitting out the red stuff onto the ground.

 

He held up his arms and the crowd went wild.

 

Gunshots rang out.

 

Soo’s men were revolting. Jimin turned back just in time to see bullets hammer into the floor of the pit as Taehyung danced to avoid them. He was up the footholds in an instant, climbing like some sort of animal, diving under the ropes as Mother’s henchmen pulled him up and out of danger.

 

“Jimin!” Jungkook’s voice rose over the chaos and he saw that he and his friends were running out.

 

Mother had already vanished from her seat.

 

Outside, police cars were already pulling up and people were running in all directions. The precincts would be chaotic all night. Jungkook’s car was already waiting, Choi in the front seat and Namjoon, Mingyu, Yugyeom and the girl already inside. Jimin had been the only one transfixed by the violence inside, whilst they had all known what was about to happen the moment Soo got the belt around his neck.

 

“Holy fuck, what just happened?” Jungkook laughed breathlessly, once the door was slammed shut and Choi began to back up the car, the tyres screeching.

 

“We just saw Soo Jang Ho get taken out like Oberyn Martell – except the other fucker was Oberyn,” Mingyu said, opening a silver flask and draining.

 

Jimin glanced at Namjoon, who was staring at him. Of course, he had recognised Taehyung. But he was silent, thankfully.

 

“Who the hell was that? I’ve never seen his face before. I would have remembered it,” the girl said.

 

“I have no fucking clue,” Jungkook said, biting on the knuckle of his thumb. “Jimin?”

 

“What?” Jimin blurted, starting with guilt.

 

“You know him?”

 

“I-I didn’t really get a good look at his face before Soo battered it.”

 

“Fucking hell, I thought Soo was gonna win,” the girl muttered.

 

“Appearances deceive, Lisa,” Yugyeom snorted, “You should know that better than most.”

 

Jimin’s head was hurting, like his skull was an anvil and a hammer was pounding it into oblivion. He felt bad about inviting Namjoon here to meet Jungkook. But then again, he had not envisioned such a violent turn of events.

 

Soo Jang Ho was dead, one of Mother’s most profitable gangsters. He was a businessman, and he had been loyal. Jimin knew she would never have let him die in the pit if it hadn’t already been pre-orchestrated. Which meant Taehyung had been her pre-established weapon. Jimin could only question how that had come about.

 

“So, Soo Jang Ho’s dead,” Mingyu said finally, as the car sped down empty, lit roads, “she’s restructuring. But I haven’t the faintest clue who she’ll replace him with.”

 

“Maybe she’ll replace him with Jungkook,” Lisa said.

 

Jimin glanced at the boy, but he was silent, his eyes round. He was spacing out. Jimin couldn’t imagine what was going on inside his head, but there was reason to think Lisa’s suggestion was valid. Jungkook’s new strain of PCP was too intense for the upper classes of Gangnam. But for the hardened partiers of Yongsan-gu, it was another rush, a thrill, a gamble with life and death. Jungkook was the manufacturer, Jungkook could very easily be trained to be the facilitator of Yongsan-gu’s thriving business once the PCP came onto the market.

 

Everything was going to hell, down, down, down.

 

Jimin had the worst feeling that when he landed, every bone in his body would shatter and when it did, Taehyung would be there to dispose of him.

Chapter Text

 

 

 

“What do eyeballs feel like?”

 

Taehyung’s grip tightened on the phone. He was sitting outside a funeral home, squatting on the pavement like a hobo. A hobo in a pristine suit with impeccable hair and a gun attached to a silencer in his breast pocket. Still a hobo. Because he was homeless, technically. Déjà Vu. The last time he squatted outside a sombre grey building in a suit, a man in a prison cell had died with the knowledge that his family would be slaughtered soon after. This was less…profound. It was a police officer, with a sister who had just died of cancer. Death was a fluid concept today.

 

“Kim Taehyung.” Yoongi’s gentle voice rippled with warning. He hated to be ignored, even by Taehyung, whose silences were common and stretched out until it was almost easy to forget he was even there.

 

“Imagine the largest, ripest strawberry. Now imagine two of them, and envision sinking your thumbs into them. It feels good,” Taehyung said. “But I’m guessing you saw how good it felt, since you watched me do it.”

 

“Jimin is a loyal little sparrow. Unlike you,” Yoongi said. “Recorded the whole thing.”

 

“Wouldn’t you love me less if I were obedient?”

 

“I love him because he is.”

 

“You’re lying. You don’t love him.”

 

“You’re right I don’t. But I prefer him. Love doesn’t direct my actions, Taehyung. If you think love will save you next time you dive headfirst into something like that without permission, I’ll make sure a bullet is lodged deep between those lovely eyes before you can hear me say ‘I love you.’”

 

Taehyung chewed on the inside of his cheek, staring fixedly at an old woman who was dragging garbage bags across the street ahead of him. She was muttering to herself, lost in the physical grind of her everyday work. By the hunch of her back and the wrinkles around her eyes, it was easy to see she had not had a moment’s peace in her lifetime. Luxury was all but a fantasy, carved in the wishful crevices of her leathered hands. She would find something in the top of the trash bags today, when she went through them to scavenge the small things that she could use in her cockroach-infested apartment where she lived, lonely and abandoned by her grown up children. Taehyung had dropped his Rolex in the open bag as he passed her on his way across the street. He knew she would no doubt end up showing it to her friends, or someone who knew its value better and then would be conned into giving it away, or selling it for a paltry price. But maybe, just maybe, she would pawn it and gain ten times the retirement fund she was owed and find a retreat to spend the rest of her days in.

 

“I have to go,” Taehyung said into the phone, as the front doors of the funeral house opened, and the mourners began to leave, trickling out slowly. “Remind me again, why does this man have to die?”

 

“He’s a loose end. I dislike loose ends,” Yoongi answered.

 

“Right, well – “ Taehyung suddenly stopped, his ears picking up a fainter voice in the background on the other end. He shut his other ear to drown out any distant noise of traffic and his brow furrowed. “Who is that?” he said, as silence fell on the other line. Whoever it was, Yoongi had no doubt signalled for them to shut up.

 

“No one. I’m alone in my office. Why?” Yoongi said.

 

“Are you sure?”

 

“Why are you so interested?”

 

“It sounded like – never mind.”

 

“Maybe I should ask Jimin to kill Dean. Hearing voices isn’t a good sign, darling.”

 

Taehyung hung up, his thumb turning white with the force he used to press the red button. He held the back of his fist against his mouth, controlling the urge to vomit. He tossed the burner phone to the ground and crushed it under his heel. Long strides took him across the road, ignorant of cars hurtling at him, honking their horns furiously as the tall young man walked without looking left or right. He dug his hand into his breast pocket, keeping it there as he slowly clicked off the safety of his gun. This was not Yongsan-gu, the breeding ground of Geomjeong-pa. This was Incheon. He could get away with a public execution. He had no patience left to stalk Dean to his home and take him out cleanly and quietly.

 

Taehyung stopped as the doors opened for the umpteenth time. It was Dean. Gaunt, pale, beautiful Dean, his eyes red and puffy, all cried out. Taehyung had killed many people. Killing those who had no desire in their eyes to live was the least fulfilling. His hand remained hidden inside his breast pocket and when Dean’s eyes met his, the police officer seemed to know why he was there. He became motionless, almost as if he were offering himself up as a docile target.

 

Shoot me. Please. His eyes pleaded, but his mouth remained still, turned downwards.

 

Taehyung beckoned to him, and began walking down the street, removing his hand from his pocket - empty. He heard Dean’s footsteps behind him, and though someone was calling his name, he continued on his way. The man was following Taehyung as if he were a lost soul, allowing a Reaper to take him over the bridge to the next world.

 

Taehyung led him into an empty coffee house, ignoring the waitress’s eager smile at the sight of new customers. One look at the tattoos on his fingers and she retreated behind the bar without a word, suddenly finding a horde of freshly washed coffee cups she had to dry.

 

“You’re here to kill me,” were Dean’s first words when they sat down.

 

“I was. Now, I’m not. Don’t ask me why, or I’ll shoot you to spare myself the trouble of answering,” Taehyung said curtly, taking out two envelopes tucked into the waistband of his trousers. “This one’s for your sister’s outstanding medical bills and the funeral. I was supposed to pay them after you died. And this one, has funds to leave the country and start a new life elsewhere.”

 

“I’m not leaving – “

 

“You will leave, or I will take you to Yongsan-gu and let the worst of Geomjeong-pa take out their thinly veiled anger at the police on your pretty face,” Taehyung hissed, leaning across the table until he was almost nose to nose with the man. “Leave, before Yoongi discovers you’re still alive.”

 

Dean saw right through it. Taehyung truly did want to kill him when he saw the mockery in his dark, hollow eyes, the only sign of life since the moment he’d left the funeral parlour.

 

“You’re afraid he’ll kill you if he finds out you spared me. And I thought you two were attached at the hip. At least, that was what I heard,” Dean said.

 

“Hips are easily fractured. You of all people should know that. Didn’t he have his men break yours the first time he coerced you to go dirty for him?”

 

Dean said nothing.

 

Taehyung scoffed. “But that wasn’t enough was it? He had to threaten your sister’s life to get you to even consider about it. You’re admirable. Not many men could hold out once Yoongi applies pressure. Consider it a sign of respect that I’m letting you live.”

 

Dean took the envelopes, without affirmation or denial, got up and walked out.

 

Taehyung watched him leave. He knew Dean wouldn’t go abroad. He knew exactly what Dean would do. It was written all over his face. But either way, Taehyung’s problem was solved, so he sat there, letting the dead man walk.

 

 

*

 

Jungkook had come through.

 

He had changed, finally. He was no longer as spoiled, or as petulant as he once had been. His lab had expanded and he had more men under his employ than the usual small group of ragtag drug-manufacturing geniuses holed away with him in an underground bunker.

 

The new lab was still underground but it was beneath a condominium now, a megalith of concrete and glass, the interior décor clinical and pristine, to counter the colourful bunch that Jungkook kept around him. Lisa, the girl with a love of knives and bleached blonde hair, Mingyu, the overgrown brat with a whore complex and a penchant for violence that matched Jungkook’s, and of course, Yugyeom, the shy book nerd who could rig a pipe bomb in under a minute. Colourful was one way to describe them.

 

And now he had two more to add to his collection.

 

Namjoon was far better at acting then he had let on the first night in the fight club. His intelligence got him through most awkward spots, and lucky for him, Chemistry was something he was extremely adept at, a lingering trace of the extracurricular credit he’d achieved at university, as an aside to his degree in engineering. Jungkook was a difficult conversationalist to keep up with at the best of times. His intellect was sharper than a taut metal wire, easy to trip on and incredibly lethal. His bratty outbursts were but an outlet of hormonal teenage years that still weren’t totally in the past. The calmer he got with age, the more dangerous Jeon Jungkook was set to become. Namjoon was his intellectual match and they spent most of their time locked away in the laboratory, Jungkook’s favourite place to be if alcohol and drugs weren’t on the agenda.

 

“You two get on like a house on fire. Makes me wonder if you’ll miss him once you return to the precinct,” Jimin said to Namjoon as they sat together in the terrace garden. On the table between them, a silver tray was laid out with a batch of cocaine, sparkling snow dust piled up in little mounds. Jimin was well practiced at wrapping it into balloons, though Namjoon was having some difficulty, his fingers fumbling.

 

“If I miss him too much, I’ll have plenty of time to visit him in jail,” Namjoon said.

 

“Oooh, cold,” Jimin laughed, flicking a wrapped-up balloon into the silver briefcase lying open on the ground beside the deck table. “Maybe you are just a really good actor. You had me fooled with how much you seem to like him.”

 

“He’s a nice kid,” Namjoon shrugged. “Once you get past the fact that he sits in a lab all day, like some sort of Druggie Einstein.”

 

And that was all Namjoon knew so far. He had no idea of half the things Jungkook was capable of. It would be something to watch when Jungkook ended up trusting Namjoon enough to let him in on the secret. Either that, or he would take him along to watch him torture the next poor fucker that wronged him and the cop would put two and two together himself. Blood Eagling was not a torture method that was popularly used. Far too messy in the wrong hands, but it was already something of a signature for Jungkook. He’d told Jimin how much he’d enjoyed it once he got over the initial shock of how much blood it produced.

 

“You’re still the resident bookkeeper for Soo’s district? Or I should say – whoever his new replacement is?”

 

“No. Working for Jungkook is a full-time commitment. My uncle took me off the job,” Jimin answered.

 

“Shame.”

 

“But I’m near the heart of the beast now. So are you,” he said cheerfully, snorting a little bit of the cocaine before he started wrapping it. He ignored the look of disapproval on Namjoon’s face but it made him want to giggle.

 

“What is his relationship with Mother?” the older man asked. “Of all the endless reams of files documented on Geomjeong-pa, that’s the one thing no one’s been able to ascertain and it’s driven me up the wall wondering about it.”

 

Jimin shrugged, and honestly gave up everything he knew. “Quite literally what the tin says. Mother. She’s his parental figure if you will. Either that, or an older brother, sister, whatever it is. Jungkook has been around her family since he was a little boy. He calls his biological mother ‘Mommy’ but I have no idea who she was to Mother’s family. I guessed that Jungkook might have been the dead Mr Kim’s illegitimate son, and therefore Mother’s half-sibling. But they look nothing alike. Usually, there’s a resemblance and I only saw her face properly for the first time at the dog-fighting ring. Apart from both having pale skin, nothing.” He flung the case shut, pressing down on it to keep the balloons from making it spring open again. “Besides, Jungkook would have given up that information long before now if it were true. He spends half his time trying to exert the same sort of authority Mother holds. This would have helped his case.”

 

Before Namjoon could provide a response, his phone jolted to life on the table. Jimin noticed it was not the burner he had given him, but he said nothing. There was time to reprimand him later.

 

“He-llo?” Namjoon said, getting up to walk a little distance away.

 

The doors to the terrace opened and Jungkook appeared, a little poodle dog in his arms. He noticed Namjoon by the far end of the balcony but gave no reaction, coming over to Jimin, with a bright smile.

 

“Look what I got you, babe,” he murmured, putting the dog in Jimin’s lap. It was a pocket poodle, barely the size of a football and so, so excited, little tongue out as it yipped up at both of them.

 

“Oh my -  what?” Jimin laughed, lifting it up and nuzzling its fur. “What’s its name?”

 

“Her name is Gigi and she’s a teacup Pomeranian. She’s my dog too, so you gotta share,” Jungkook said, kicking up a chair next to Jimin. He put his arm around the back of Jimin’s chair and grinned. He was a grown version of the Pomeranian. His tongue might not have been out, but he was waiting for Jimin’s approval just as eagerly. Jimin catered to his need for it, leaning in as if it were some great secret and whispering, “I love her.”

 

Jungkook’s smile faded a little, their faces coming within inches of one another. The world around them quietened, as if someone had turned down the volume on some celestial soundboard, only amplifying the sounds of their breathing. Jimin could feel Jungkook’s breath evaporating when it touched his lips, they were so close. He reached up a tentative hand and ran his thumb across his jawline, eyes lifting to meet his. The tension was so delicious, he didn’t want to break it.

 

Jungkook was younger by a year at nineteen, but it didn’t feel like it in that moment. It hadn’t felt like it the last time they were alone either. Jimin had been the one with the toned muscles and physique before he left for Busan and now it was Jungkook’s biceps that rippled with every small movement. Granted, being Taehyung’s drug mule for months wasn’t an ideal way to keep in shape, but still.

 

Jimin leaned in first, hand tightening on Jungkook’s neck, just under his ear as his lips pried the younger male’s apart. He felt Gigi wriggle in his arms, trying to get up on the table, where the small pile of remaining cocaine was dangerously close to disintegrating. They moaned together, Jimin’s whimper melting into Jungkook’s soft, throaty croon.

 

“I love you,” Jungkook whispered with a mouthful of Jimin’s tongue.

 

“No, you don’t,” Jimin whispered back, even as his hand grabbed the front of Jungkook’s white shirt, bunching it and pulling him closer. His hand slipped and fell down onto his thigh. Jimin gasped softly, the sound muffled by Jungkook’s mouth, almost pulling his arm away. The muscle on his leg was like fucking steel. He could already imagine how easily he could grip onto Jungkook’s thighs as he fucked up in a standing position. Right then, he wanted nothing more than to climb him like a pole and cling to him as his cock hammered his sanity into seventh heaven.

 

Because he’d need to be insane to willingly entertain that sort of desire for Jeon Jungkook. One kiss had led him to an I love you. Sex would create a bigger mess. The only mess Jimin really wanted was what he imagined Jungkook could do to his body, after months of strangling his libido.

 

Gigi suddenly yelped and tried to get out of Jimin’s arms with renewed effort. Jimin broke away, cooing as he tried to understand what the pup wanted, but Jungkook groaned, pulling him back, impatient for more.

 

“No, Kook, wait, I think she – “ Gigi abruptly hopped down onto the next seat and then onto the ground, running speedily away towards the terrace doors, then back, then forth and then around in rapid circles, barking madly the whole while.

 

Jungkook’s ring knocked against the silver tray sharply. He was staring at the cocaine which was spread over the tray now.

 

“Do you think - ?” he trailed off, turning to stare at the dog.

 

“No…” Jimin laughed hesitantly, before also going quiet.

 

“Gigi!” Jungkook called to her, and the dog came rushing over. He reached down and checked her nose and tongue for residue. Jimin sank in relief to see there was none.

 

“And let’s add this to the list of reasons neither of us should ever have children,” he said, lifting Gigi back into his lap.

 

Namjoon was done with his call. He had been for a while, and Jimin had noticed, but he hadn’t turned. Instead, he remained standing by the balcony, staring out at the city skyline in silence. When he finally returned, his face glistened with freshly wiped tears, his eyes reddened.

 

“What is it?” Jimin said quickly, as Jungkook finally gave up trying to kiss him.

 

“I – well – it’s my friend. He – er – he killed himself today. After his sister’s funeral – um – he - he just…jumped off Mapo Bridge…so yeah.”

 

There was nothing quite like seeing a grown man cry. It was one of the most heart-breaking things one could witness. But seeing a police officer cry was infinitely worse. Namjoon’s deep voice cracked with every word he tried to get out, his broad shoulders shaking with a poor attempt to keep in sobs. Jimin didn’t know what to do, and did the only thing that came to mind. He reached across the table and covered Namjoon’s hand with his own, letting the other’s shaking fingers slowly wrap around his.

 

“I’m sorry, Joon,” he said quietly.

 

“Yeah, sorry, mate,” Jungkook muttered, his face furrowed with a rare expression of pity as he reached out and gave Namjoon’s shoulder a quick squeeze. “I guess I’ll leave you two alone.”

 

It was obvious he couldn’t get out of there quick enough and Jimin didn’t blame him. Though he felt beyond sorry for Namjoon, comfort was not his strongest point.

 

“Was he – a police officer friend?” Jimin ventured to say once the terrace doors were shut.

 

Namjoon nodded, gulping down fresh sobs as he looked out at the sky, the horizon of which was being kissed by vivacious oranges and pinks, trailing after the setting sun.

 

“My first and only partner since I joined the police academy,” he said. “His name was Dean.”

 

“I’m sorry,” Jimin said again.

 

Namjoon nodded, pulling his hand away and tried to collect himself somewhat, before speaking again.

 

“The sergeant said he left a message for him. Admitted to being a mole for a Busan kingpin, said he was coerced into it after the guy had him beaten. I badgered him about it the time he turned up at a hospital with a broken leg and hip but he stuck with the story that it was a fight with a fucking robber that got away. I should have known, Dean’s shit at lying, but he sure kept this secret well.”

 

Jimin was trying not to look him directly in the eye, for fear that any slight dilation in his pupils would give away the shock that was jolting through him. Yoongi had dirty cops in Seoul, though his principle playing ground was Busan. Why did that not surprise him in the slightest?

 

“Dean wanted us to know we’ve got to be careful,” Namjoon continued, his voice stronger now, “said Min’s got men in Geomjeong-pa that are working for him and they’re dangerous.”

 

“D-did he give names?” Jimin stuttered.

 

Namjoon shook his head and every muscle in Jimin’s body seemed to relax a little. “I know why he didn’t. He knew I’d try to go after them, rather than stick to the assignment I was given. One of them came to him today, to take him out. But he ended up giving him a wad of cash for his sister’s funeral bills and to escape the country. Dean left them in his PO Box and he gave the sergeant the code to get into it. His last request was that I take care of any debts he had.”

 

Emotion overcame him again and his voice went quiet, hand going up to cover his eyes. He remained like that for a while, lips clamped shut as fresh tears spilled down past his hand onto his cheeks. Jimin breathed in a quiet, but deep gulp of air, blinking the wetness from his eyes as he looked up at the skies. Whoever Dean was, he sent a prayer to Providence for his soul, because fuck if his name and Taehyung’s had gotten out just then –

 

Namjoon left soon after, saying he would be in his room for the rest of the evening. Jimin offered to have food bought up to him, but he declined. Jimin didn’t press the matter. He had troubles of his own to deal with now.

 

At the nearest opportunity, he texted Taehyung.

 

It was just a single word, but it would have all Taehyung needed to know and it would bring him to Jimin, wherever he was. It was a certainty.

 

[Dean]

 

 

*

 

Seokjin had developed a real affection for him since the fight club incident.

 

Taehyung felt it in the way the kingpin kept him around, taking him wherever he went, wanting his input on things that someone of his ilk should have had no business commenting on. In the space of a week, Taehyung put down six men, loyal to Soo, lined up against the wall like bowling pins, their heads covered with hoods. Seokjin didn’t despise any of them, which was they got a quick death. But their loyalty to the wrong man had doomed them in the end.

 

It was boring. The straight shooting, trailing around after Seokjin, pretending to be interested in the intellectual conversation his boss posed from time to time. He had simply replaced an old master with a new one, and the old didn’t even know he had been removed from his position yet. Yoongi’s lies were piling up and soon enough, they’d be a noose around Taehyung’s neck unless he moved his head out of the way, fast.

 

Seokjin was a whole new kettle of fish but until Taehyung had him figured out, he was the kettle of fish that was getting the benefit of the doubt.

 

Besides, he had more interesting things hidden away in his home than a shark in an underground tank and Taehyung wanted to see them all.

 

Mother kept more than just the necklace of her dead nemesis. She had an entire archive of Jo Ara’s work stored away, a room that hung with the paintings done solely by her. It was a macabre obsession that she had, which she shed whenever the wig and the dress came off. It was as if her desires and her hatreds were different, depending on which persona she inhabited. It baffled her men, Taehyung saw it in their eyes when she was around them. It unsettled them. It was only her iron fist that kept them from revolting against what most of them saw as heinously against their understanding of masculinity. To them, Taehyung crushing Soo Jang Ho’s eyeballs in his skull was worthy of fear and respect. But a man in a dress was intolerable. Strange, how human beings were contradictory like that.

 

“So, you just keep the dead woman’s paintings here like some sort of shrine? Well, I’ve seen weirder collections of things, so I’m not judging,” Taehyung said, as he stood against the door jamb and watched Seokjin wander around the room, gazing up at the works. He was wearing a simple poet’s sleeve shirt and jeans, his perfectly cinched waist a picture to behold after years of wearing corsets.

 

“She had a very detailed hand,” Seokjin admitted, “And to be very honest, I’m archiving them for future sale, when their worth increases. Along with the Jewel of Busan, of course.”

 

“That’s more like it. I was starting to think there’s something seriously wrong with you,” Taehyung snorted, eliciting a laugh from the other.

 

“Come and look at this one,” Seokjin beckoned him over with a slight flutter of his hand.

 

The painting was of a burning castle, surrounded by a moat. The reflection of the flames in its depths was perfectly depicted, making it seem like the building was set amidst a steaming lake of fire.

 

“She painted this a month before her death. I don’t believe in omens, but my, this does send a shiver down one’s spine considering how she went out.” He trailed his pale fingers across the lower edge of the framed painting and in the reflection of the glass covering it, saw Taehyung’s face. A smile painted Seokjin’s crimson lips and he looked over his shoulder. “You’re bored aren’t you, Kim?”

 

“If I lied and said I wasn’t, you wouldn’t believe me. So yes, I’m bored,” Taehyung said.

 

“Well, you won’t be much longer. I have another task for you.” Seokjin slipped a folded up piece of paper from his pocket and handed it over. Written on it in italic font was a name an address. “Lee Hansoo. He has a five year old daughter and a prostitute girlfriend who lives with him. Kill all three.”

 

“I don’t kill children,” Taehyung said.

 

“If you leave her alive, she’ll be taken to the nearest orphanage, motherless and fatherless. They live in Mapo-gu and most of the orphanages there are owned by one charity foundation – The Han Association. The founder is a well-known paedophile in the elite circles, and he regularly lends out children from his foundation’s orphanages to his friends. Now, I’m not saying it’s a certainty she would ever be one of them, but it’s up to you. Take that chance, or kill her and spare her a lifetime of severe issues.”

 

They stared at one another in silence.

 

“I’m not killing her,” Taehyung said again, and this time, his tone was final as he turned to go to the desk by the window.

 

“I do love a man who sticks by his principles, however ill-considered they might be,” Seokjin said breezily, “I don’t like loose ends, Taehyung, not even five year old ones.”

 

“And I have limits. Find someone else to kill her.” Taehyung didn’t let it show on his face how much the mention of ‘loose ends’ had twisted his stomach into knots.

 

“Relax, Terminator, the child lives,” Seokjin scoffed, and without a second glance, he vanished through the doorway, leaving him be.  

 

Taehyung knew this refusal of his would come back to bite him later. At some point, Seokjin would use it against him, as fuel to stoke the fire that encouraged Taehyung’s own disposal. Kingpins could be as unpredictable as they wanted, but in one way, they were remarkably consistent. Everyone was expendable.

 

With a casual flip of his fingers, Taehyung removed a framed miniature from the little slot built into the desk. On the back, in neat handwriting that he recognised as Jo Ara’s from the other works of art she had signed, he read the words My Boy – 13th October, 2003. Taehyung turned it over. It was a small painting of a young boy, who only looked to be around five or six. A round, chubby face, wide set eyes like his mother, button nose and a pair of plush, pink lips, set in a pout. He looked sulky.

 

Taehyung stared at the painting in silence, a fog muffling the sudden frantic whirring of his mind. The buzz of his phone cut through it like glass. He slowly pulled it out, eyes still glued to the miniature in his hand and then lifted it to look at the single message on the screen. It was from Jimin.

 

[Dean]

 

Taehyung’s eyes swerved back to the little boy in the painting.

 

“Ha.”

 

 

*

 

The flat they had occupied before Yoongi ordered Jimin to move in with Hwasa was as they’d left it. No one else had been moved in. Jimin still had his spare key and getting inside wasn’t an issue. Taehyung had answered his message with the address, making it clear he wanted to meet up there. He walked in within minutes of Jimin entering the damp, narrow hallway.

 

Unlike the younger who was wearing jeans, a hoodie and sneakers, Taehyung was the one who was better dressed for once. Except no amount of perfect tailoring could distract from the blood stains on his cuff and the specks of red on his collar. He had obviously been ‘working’ before he arrived. He walked in and went straight to the third cabinet from the left in the kitchen where he’d left behind a half finished bottle of whiskey. Without looking or speaking to Jimin, he took a glass from the cupboard and poured himself a drink, draining half of it in one gulp. He slammed the glass down with a growly sigh of satisfaction and wiped his mouth.

 

“Nightingale,” he nodded, finally acknowledging Jimin’s presence.

 

Jimin sat curled up on a chair at the table by the window, hood pulled over his head as he watched Taehyung with dark eyes.

 

“You knew Dean was working for him? And you didn’t think telling me was an option?” he snapped.

 

“I wasn’t told I had to tell you,” Taehyung shrugged.

 

“But I’m guessing you knew all about Namjoon though.”

 

“I did.”

 

“He and Dean were partners! I should have known!” Jimin snarled, hitting the table with a balled up fist. “He fucking killed himself after you gave him the money to flee the country! Yoongi could have you had you killed if he found out you disobeyed him!”

 

“Wait hold up – “ Taehyung waved a hand to make him stop, “He’s dead?”

 

“He jumped off a bridge,” Jimin scowled.

 

“Right, well, that solves that then. But more amusingly, you care that Yoongi would kill me? I think you should worry more about yourself, nightingale,” Taehyung chuckled, pouring himself another drink.

 

“I don’t care. It’s just that you dying, puts me next in line for the chopping block. Any misstep from me right now, and it’s drowned out by the way you’re openly rebelling against him.”

 

Taehyung’s smile faded, and he walked around the counter, slow and steady. He came to sit down beside Jimin, tapping his ring against the table at a nervous, rapid pace. He ran his other hand through the silky curtain of hair on his forehead and Jimin discreetly lifted his thumb to his mouth, nibbling on the knuckle. Always the same reaction to Taehyung’s proximity. The overwhelming desire to put something – anything – in his mouth to distract from what he really wanted in it.

 

“Why are you going against him? Why would you go against someone as dangerous as him?” Jimin asked, his tone less confrontational now. When he didn’t get a response, he sat up properly, leaning his elbows on the table. “I know you love him, so why the sudden switch in behaviour? Is this about Mother? Did she provide a better alternative?”

 

Taehyung sucked his lower lip into his mouth, eyes narrowing, the street lamps from outside the window pouring into them, lightening their colour to a honey brown. He glanced sideways at Jimin, before turning them away again. He blew up one cheek and then the other and finally, gave up the charade.

 

“I’ve never met anyone like him. I switch my brain off around him. If that’s what you consider to be love, then sure.”

 

“I don’t think anyone would consider that to be love. That’s just…brainwashing.”

 

“Are you saying I’m easily influenced?”

 

“I think you use your heart when it comes to Yoongi, but it doesn’t end well.”

 

“And it never ends well, does it?”

 

“No, it does not.”

 

“So, what’s your excuse then?”

 

“What?” Jimin blinked.

 

Taehyung leant his chin on his hand, eyebrow lifting in a mock expression of fascinated curiosity. “If I keep doing what he wants because of my – ‘heart’ – then what’s your excuse? Why are you still doing as he says?”

 

“I’m afraid of him,” Jimin said simply.

 

“Are you?” he sneered. “You’re very good at faking emotions though.”

 

“You’re afraid of him too, don’t act like you aren’t,” Jimin retorted. “Trust me when I say, my fear of Min Yoongi is very real.”

 

Taehyung shook his head with a half-smile, as if he wasn’t convinced by anything the other said. He clicked his tongue and muttered, “That necklace – the Jewel of Busan – was a farcical cover for something else. He doesn’t want that damn trinket.” He stabbed his finger against the tabletop, again and again, as if it had done him some personal wrong and  then spat out, “He wanted me out of Busan, for some reason, and you were just there to make it all seem…believable, somehow. A toy he fancied, so he put it together with another and watched what happened.”

 

“Like having two Barbie dolls and making them kiss?” Jimin smirked, finding the whole analogy rather amusing even if it was far from it.

 

“You’re the Barbie,” Taehyung muttered, “I don’t know what the fuck I am.”

 

“You’re Ken.” This time, Jimin couldn’t keep laughter from bubbling past his lips and he had to muffle it behind the sleeve of his hoodie. He sobered up and leaned over the table, hands propping up his face. “Look, I was just angry you didn’t tell me about Dean. I don’t care what you’re doing otherwise. I’m no longer reporting to Yoongi unless he asks. And if he asks me about you, I’ll make something up.”

 

“I don’t need you to protect me,” Taehyung countered. “Worry about yourself, holed up in that condominium with Mother’s little charge, Jeon, and his band of merry druggies.”

 

“So, she told you about him?”

 

“She told me what he did.”

 

Jimin played dumb. “And what was that?”

 

“He Blood Eagled the Trio. Same thing happened to a friend of mine. Needless to say, Jeon Jungkook interests me. A lot.”

 

“What friend? Back in Busan?”

 

“Never mind.”

 

And that was all he would say on the matter.

 

It should have been the natural end of the conversation, but neither of them moved to get up and leave. Jimin was staring fixedly at the table. Taehyung was staring at him. Someone wanted to do something, but it was difficult to tell who. Jimin took a shallow breath, the sound a little shivery, and his eyes flickered up fast to see Taehyung’s still on him, before lowering them again.

 

“What is it, nightingale?” Taehyung said, his voice barely louder than a whisper.

 

Jimin tried to think of the horror and wretched disgust he had felt when he’d seen the man before him crush someone’s eyes through their skull. How he had looked with blood all over his face, panting like a rabid dog. Anything and everything to turn himself off.

 

His hand slipped over the table, his palm burning hot as it brushed over the tips of Taehyung’s fingers.

 

“I don’t know what it is,” he murmured.

 

Taehyung’s fingers moved, lifting to slide over the back of his hand, until they were covering it. Jimin let himself be pulled closer, unable to help from smiling as the smirk on Taehyung’s lips grew. The older man reached into his trouser pocket and for one wild moment, Jimin thought he was reaching for his gun. But what he pulled out was small, flat and square. He couldn’t see it very well, before Taehyung slipped it between their hands, sliding Jimin’s back to him. Jimin frowned, turning the object over.

 

He took one look at it and dropped the miniature painting to the table.

 

He had never moved faster in his life. The switch blade hidden in his sleeve was out, flipped open in seconds, as Jimin darted to his feet. Taehyung laughed, sighing as he felt the sharp edge of the blade cutting into the side of his throat, drawing blood immediately. A warning, not a killing motion, though it was clear by the shaking of Jimin’s hand, he had been on the verge of driving it straight through until he’d stopped himself.

 

“Who did you tell?” Jimin said.

 

“No one. And that’s the truth. I know you’re not familiar with the concept, but take my word for it,” Taehyung purred, tongue running over his upper teeth as he tipped back his head to give Jimin better access. “What are you going to do, baby boy? Kill me?”

 

Jimin’s fingers tightened in Taehyung’s hair and his hand gripped the switch blade so tight, it shook, cutting open more of the other’s soft skin. Shallow, but the bloodletting increased, drenching Taehyung’s collar.

 

“Don’t joke around,” Jimin said. “I don’t want to kill you, but I will slit your throat before you can even move a finger.”

 

“I believe you,” Taehyung said, his voice soft, “I think you know more about effective violence than you let on. You really do put on a good show of being a bumbling, physically inept idiot. Had me fooled. Loosen up on the knife. I won’t tell Yoongi, if that’s what you’re afraid of.” When the knife stayed where it was, Taehyung reached up to touch Jimin’s arm, tapping it, wincing as the blade dug deeper. “Come on, nightingale. You can trust me.”

 

Jimin released him, his shoulders tensed as the knife moved away from his neck. But Taehyung didn’t make a single move to lunge at him. Instead, he removed a hankerchief from his front pocket and pressed it against his neck, grimacing.

 

“There’s a first aid box in the cabinet over the sink,” Jimin muttered.

 

“Right. You hurt people and then offer them plasters and bandages,” Taehyung shot back, getting up to find the box.

 

Jimin took the painting from the table, staring at it. He flipped it over and huddled his knees up to his chest, pressing his sleeve against his mouth as his vision wavered with held back tears. Taehyung returned with his throat bandaged, another glass of whiskey in hand.

 

“Shallow cut. You weren’t planning to kill me, despite your threats to,” he said. “Why?”

 

“Maybe I was so unsettled, I missed your jugular,” Jimin mumbled, trying not to let his voice shake.

 

“Oooh, I’m quaking in my boots,” Taehyung cooed. He fell down into his chair, beaming. “Do you know what tipped me off when I first saw that?” he nodded at the miniature now lying face down on the table. “That sulky little pout. It just…clicked. I thought of how many times I’d kissed the grown up version of that pout. In fact, it’s staring me in the face right now.”

 

Jimin swallowed, trying to relax his mouth, but he couldn’t. It only seemed to amuse Taehyung more, and he was actively trying to get the younger to respond. Jimin let himself be pulled up from the chair, feeling like a hollowed, deadened shell. Seeing that painting was like a taser to his nervous system, a revert back to the black memory of a night he had suppressed. Even when he was trapped between the wall and Taehyung’s body, a position he had fantasised about ever since they had first parted, Jimin couldn’t make himself relax.

 

“Hey,” Taehyung whispered, nuzzling his cheek.

 

“Stop it,” Jimin muttered, pushing him away. “Just – “

 

“Stop what?” Taehyung insisted, moving back against him in an instant. “Come on, tell me – “

 

“Stop whatever this is. You’re holding a figurative gun to my head with this and it could go off at any moment. If you’re going to do something, do it. Don’t play with me,” Jimin said. “That’s something Yoongi would do, and I know he’s the last person you want to emulate.”

 

“Oooh, you think you know me, huh?” Taehyung sang, trying to kiss him even as Jimin dodged his head to avoid him. “Hold a knife to my neck once and suddenly you’ve got the balls to tell me what I’m doing?”

 

“You’d be surprised what I know about you, Kim Taehyung.” Jimin’s nails dug into his chest, straining against him, but not hard enough. If he really wanted him away, he would have managed it.

 

“Yeah? You know?” Taehyung said, in that same patronising high-pitch, as if he were speaking to a child.

 

“You’re not funny – “

 

“I’m not? Is that something you know too?”

 

“Taehyung – “

 

“Do you know how much I want to kiss you right now?”

 

Jimin let out a sound that was meant to come out as a frustrated growl but was more of a defeated groan. Taehyung’s hands were around his wrists, pinning him, though there really was no need. There were very few things in the world right now that could make Jimin voluntarily leave this spot. Not with what he wanted pressing so close against his nether regions.

 

“You think this is a joke, don’t you? It doesn’t bother you at all who I am,” Jimin laughed humourlessly. “You’re something else.”

 

“You’re right. It doesn’t bother me,” Taehyung stuck out his lower lip and shrugged.

 

“It doesn’t excite you, not even a little, that if you gave me up to Mother right now, or even Yoongi, they’d reward you beyond your wildest dreams? Why do I find that hard to believe – “

 

“If you don’t fucking kiss me before I count to three, I’m tying you up and gift wrapping you and putting you on Yoongi’s doorstep. One – two – “

 

Jimin silenced him, yanking his hands from the wall to cup Taehyung’s face between his hands and muffle his lips. It was the sort of kiss that was motionless but deep. Their lips were locked, but neither moved to change the angle of the kiss, preferring to just breath each other in, revel in the taste of their tongues as they entwined. Jimin’s head knocked against the wall as Taehyung’s moan of pleasure was lost in his mouth. He wriggled a little, to gain a better vantage to hold onto the taller man but ended up slipping against the window sill, taking Taehyung with him. Both of them tumbled over onto it, clumsily knocking into the table and sending a chair toppling.

 

“Wait – wait – “ Jimin panted, shoving him back before the kiss became too frantic, too demanding.

 

“What?” Taehyung said, impatience creasing every feature as he held himself up, hovering over the other.

 

“I-I want to be the one to-to fuck you, the way Yoongi d-does,” Jimin said breathlessly, “I wanna top.”

 

 

 

p.s. Yes, it does bother Taehyung. Very much.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Taehyung laughed.

 

When he wouldn’t stop, Jimin punched him in the stomach and announced he was leaving. He hated how firm the bastard’s stomach was, how it barely gave way even though he had put a fair bit of strength in his fist. To his credit, Taehyung pretended to double over before reaching out and grabbing Jimin’s wrist, preventing him from leaving with a wheezed chuckle.

 

“Alright, if that’s what you want, that’s what you’ll get. I missed your body way too much to care how I get to it again,” he said.

 

Jimin ignored the abruptness of his insides somersaulting when he heard those words, and tore his sleeve from Taehyung’s grasp. He went upstairs, to what had been Taehyung’s old bedroom, and also, the only room with the queen size bed. His hands were shaking, with a mixture of excitement and nervousness. Ever since the very first time he had slept with him, Jimin had been jealous of how easily Yoongi controlled Taehyung. The Skull-Crusher was quick to dominate and subdue Jimin, but just one touch of Yoongi’s hand on the back of his hair and he always responded a certain way.

 

Widened eyes, tongue trapped between his teeth, his chest heaving, like a puppy dog determined to please. Yoongi barely did anything. He just looked at him and something took over Taehyung.

 

“Suck his cock.”

 

“Fuck him from behind.”

 

“Make him cry.”

 

Everything Taehyung had done to Jimin that night was an extension of what Yoongi wanted and fuck if that wasn’t what Jimin desired for himself. There was a Yoongi-shaped hole in the equation now, and before Taehyung filled it with Mother, the strange enigma Jimin trusted the least simply because he did not know her well enough, he wanted to stake a hold. It was either that or risk Taehyung’s mind changing and Jimin’s secret spilling from his lips. The younger had already had his chance to kill him and had failed to seize it.

 

This is the biggest gamble of my fucking life and I’m going to die at the end of it if I don’t succeed.

 

The door behind him slammed, making him jump. Taehyung flicked his eyebrows up, tongue pressed to the corner of his mouth as he made a show of wiggling out of his jacket.

 

“Come on then. Dominate me, daddy,” he purred, sliding down the door with a moan that was faker than his smile.

 

“Get on the bed,” Jimin said quietly, patting the mattress next to him as he sat cross-legged on it.

 

Taehyung leapt onto it, laughing like a young boy as he made Jimin’s body jolt with the force of his jump. He kicked off his shoes and then his socks, flinging them across the room and leant on his side, head propped up by his elbow. Jimin ignored his silly attempts to bait – he kept crooking his finger to him with his lips all puckered up – and knelt up on the bed to peel off his hoodie. Taehyung stopped his playing about long enough to eye him with appreciation.

 

“Ooh, is that muscle I see? No wonder you were so confident with that knife,” he said. “Jeon Jungkook’s been feeding you well.”

 

“Not having cocaine balloons in my diet did wonders, yeah,” Jimin shot back, pulling down his white shirt to cover his abs. Taehyung’s hand shot out to rip it up again but Jimin responded by kneeing his thigh just hard enough to flip him onto his back.

 

“Oof!” Taehyung threw back his head and cackled, “What the fuck has gotten into you?”

 

His eyes were sparkling. In bed, it was very easy to tell what Taehyung liked or did not like, and this, he adored. Whether it was Jimin’s sudden roughness, or his refusal to speak to him beyond monotonic utterances, but Taehyung’s dick was starting to chafe against his underwear, pushing against the constraint. It made sense – Jimin was behaving like Yoongi.- of course it turned Taehyung on.

 

“Lie back,” Jimin ordered him, shoving at his shoulders when Taehyung tried to kiss him. He climbed on top of Taehyung’s chest, knee pressed just hard enough against his oesophagus to keep him restrained. “I told you to lie back.”

 

Taehyung was still grinning, but he was a little more subdued now, as if curious to see where Jimin was going with all of this. His eyes were dark as Jimin’s hands loosened the tie around his neck. “That’s not gonna keep me held against the bedpost.”

 

“You’re not going to want to get out of the restraint once I’ve started with you,” Jimin said.

 

Taehyung’s laugh was definitely shorter this time, and there was a hint of breathlessness about it. Jimin looped the silk tie expertly, leaving just enough wiggle room to allow Taehyung to move his wrists, but not enough to pull them away from the knot securely tying them to the bedpost. Everything was fine until Jimin took the scarf he had discarded with the hoodie and lifted it over Taehyung’s face.

 

“What are you doing?” and this time, there was no playfulness in Taehyung’s face or voice.

 

“Blindfolding you,” Jimin blinked innocently.

 

No.

 

Jimin ignored the thrill that trembled through his spine at the authority in Taehyung’s voice. Old habits died hard.

 

“I’m not going to slit your throat if that’s what you’re afraid of,” Jimin sighed, “Look, we either do this my way or not at all.”

 

“Put the scarf down, or I tear this tie off and strangle you with it.”

 

Jimin’s hands were resting on Taehyung’s chest and he felt the rapid staccato of his heart in his ribcage. He was either scared or furious, and it probably wasn’t the first emotion. But Jimin didn’t want to give up his game. Not when he was enjoying the sight of Taehyung helpless and restrained so much. He leaned down, small hands cupping the angular line of Taehyung’s jaw, caressing it, his lips hovering over the other’s.

 

“Trust me,” he murmured, “I’m not going to hurt you –“

 

“Park Jimin, I swear to fucking god – “

 

I’m not going to hurt you, baby boy.”

 

Taehyung’s chest stilled against his. He stopped breathing for about five seconds. Jimin counted them , before covering Taehyung’s lips with his own, relishing in the stuttering gasp of air he let out of his lungs as he relaxed. Jimin’s hands travelled up the undersides of his biceps, up to the insides of his wrist, where he stroked concentric circles with his thumb. He pecked Taehyung’s lips a last time before kissing his forehead and whispering, “Trust me?”

 

They stared at each other for a few minutes, the darkness in Taehyung’s eyes diluting  to a deep brown. Jimin sank his teeth into his lower lip and smiled sweetly. Taehyung nodded, just the barest movement of his head, but undeniably an assent. Jimin kissed the rounded tip of his nose and sat back, pleased. He tested the elasticity of the scarf before covering Taehyung’s eyes and lifting his head to tie it around the back. It marred the effect of seeing his lovely face, but he wanted him blind for this. All the better to lose focus on who was doing this to him.

 

Every time Jimin’s hands brushed against his naked skin in the process of undressing him, Taehyung flinched. It was almost as if he were expecting the cold prick of a blade at any moment. His shirt couldn’t be removed, so Jimin left it unbuttoned.

 

Soft touches, featherlight kisses and whispered words of comfort turned into something entirely different after a few minutes passed and Taehyung was lying there, silent at last.

 

Jimin ran his hand through Taehyung’s hair, straddling his chest, still fully clothed, an almost affectionate smile on his face. He leant down, and Taehyung’s hands clenched, perfectly formed nails digging into his palms. Jimin licked the inner shell of his ear, nibbling on it and kissing it until the blood rushed to it and it became red.

 

“You like being tied up, don’t you? Submission…it’s not your defining attribute, but a – guilty pleasure you deny yourself,” he whispered. “Why? Are you afraid?”

 

A shiver jerked Taehyung’s body but he kept his lips shut.

 

“I think that’s it,” Jimin’s voice got softer, his finger trailing circles around Taehyung’s right nipple, “I think you’re afraid it’ll turn you into what you really are…a slu-t.” He enunciated the ‘t’, letting the tip of his tongue hit the roof of his mouth and when it did, the sound echoed in Taehyung’s ear. He took a deep breath and when it escaped him, a sound slipped out with it. A sound Jimin had never heard him make him before. It was high-pitched and…almost…whiny.

 

“So, I see you like being a slut too,” Jimin giggled, leaning up and propping his hands on either side of Taehyung’s head. “You are bad, Mr Kim. Such a bad boy…” he cooed affectionately, squeezing Taehyung’s jaw in a death grip and forcing his red lips to pop open. Jimin shoved his tongue inside, in a move reminiscent of the countless times Taehyung had done the very same thing to him. He pushed it in as far as it would go until Taehyung’s gag reflex kicked in and he choked, almost biting down on Jimin’s tongue in the process.

 

“Tsk, you can’t even take my tongue, however will you handle it when I sit on your face and it’s my cock down your throat?” Jimin purred, slapping his cheek gently.

 

Taehyung moaned, and Jimin promptly slapped him again, enjoying the little stutter in his voice as he tried to say something, but words failed him. He had to take a few deep breaths before he was able to get anything coherent out.

 

“Don’t think your dick’s big enough to manage that, nightingale,” he said, his throat hoarse.

 

Jimin pressed his hand over his own mouth as his face crumpled with laughter. It overcame him so suddenly he had no time to try and stop it. It took everything he had inside of him to keep from making a sound and letting Taehyung hear his amusement. He took a gusty breath of air, coughing a little to hide the chuckle that threatened to escape and promptly slapped Taehyung’s other cheek.

 

“Shut up, slut,” he said. “It was a rhetorical question.”

 

But Taehyung was now laughing outright, the spell of before very much broken. Jimin’s smile faded.

 

“Yeah, you did well whilst the going was strong. Now get this off and let me show you what a real good time looks like,” Taehyung drawled, cocksure once more as he pulled on the tie and moved his head from side to side to try and shift the blindfold.

 

Jimin snapped. He pressed his palm tightly over the Skull-Crusher’s mouth whilst the other one pinched his nostrils shut, depriving him of air.

 

“I told you to shut up, slut,” he snarled, holding both air holes shut just long enough for Taehyung to begin convulsing. Then, he let go. He was barely free two seconds before Taehyung began cursing with vicious expletives and Jimin did the same thing again. The next time he let go, Taehyung got the message and he was quiet, except for heaving gasps of air. His nipples were hard, and his cock was harder than it had been so far, lying flat against his belly. Jimin sat back, satisfied.

 

He placed gentle hands on Taehyung’s cheeks and squeezed them, smiling as the other leaned into his touch just a little. “Good boy…you can be good, you see? What a pretty little slut you are…”

 

It was words, not actions that did it. Jimin was making notes of it as he went. Slut. Baby boy. Both elicited almost miraculous reactions from Taehyung, turning him into a docile puppy that would whine if prodded enough. Jimin liked to hear him whine. His deep voice was surprisingly well suited to it.

 

He barely even had to try, and he knew the blindfold was helping. One look at his face, and Taehyung wouldn’t have been able to take his voice seriously. Not when Jimin had no clue how to express authority through facial expressions – he had attempted it before in the mirror and the result was hilarious but unconvincing. Until he had that pinned down, he was fine calling a blindfolded Kim Taehyung ‘slut’ and feeling him writhe in pleasurable discomfort. It was all he did for the next fifteen minutes. Kiss him, whisper sweet abuse in his ear, track his neck with a steady line of hickeys and nibble on his tongue until Taehyung was whimpering in frustration.

 

Jimin got off him, feeling a little dizzy as he touched the numbed, swollen skin covering his lips. He tottered as he pushed Taehyung’s legs further apart with his foot.

 

“When are you gonna fuck me?” Taehyung breathed, motionless except for the rise and fall of his chest.

 

“When I feel like it,” Jimin answered, bending down just low enough to blow on his poor, red cock.

 

Taehyung twitched and almost wailed, “Jimin!”

 

“Uh-uh, it’s master to you,” Jimin retorted, resting a foot on his thigh and applying pressure.

 

“I’ll call you master when you fuck me with that tiny cock of yours,” Taehyung spat.

 

There it was again. The unbelievable urge to laugh. Jimin had no clue why it was happening when Taehyung’s smart mouth should have been pissing him off. He covered his face with his hands and struggled to compose himself. A few minutes passed until he was ready to speak, but the sight of his red face in the mirror almost set him off again.

 

“It might not be as big as yours but it’s big enough for your tight little ass.” Jimin knelt down between Taehyung’s spread thighs and scraped his fingernails gently along the sensitive skin on the insides of them. Taehyung’s neck arched as he craned his head back and whispered an expletive, muscles tensing with the tantalising touch. His skin was hot and flushed red whenever Jimin’s fingernails dug too deep.  

 

Jimin grinned, lashing his tongue over his canines as he saw Taehyung bite his lip, hard. Reaching over to the bedside cabinet with one hand, Jimin hoped what he was looking for was still in the bottom drawer. Luck was smiling down on them. Three condoms and a quarter-full bottle of lube in the corner. It was more than enough. With one hand, he thumbed the underside of Taehyung’s balls, whilst with the other, he flipped open the bottle cap and tipped some of the cold viscous liquid out onto Taehyung’s stomach. He hissed in shock at the contact against his heated skin, but a warning smack to the thigh had him still once more. Or as still as he could be. Every pinch of his ball sac forced him to let out a sound of depraved, pained pleasure and Jimin was tending to every inch of the sensitive skin.

 

Jimin coated a finger with the slick substance and then brought it down to ring Taehyung’s clenched hole with it. There was much resistance, even when he leaned down to lick his perineum, tickling the delicate skin with his tongue. It made Taehyung’s cock jerk up without needing to be touched, and Jimin coupled it with more pressure against his asshole, spreading his cheeks apart with his other hand. He lashed his tongue over Taehyung’s scrotum, sucking his left nut into his mouth and felt his finger give against the tight ring of muscle, the tip slipping in.

 

“Open up, baby boy,” Jimin sang, nibbling on his sac and giggling in delight as Taehyung cried out, his body arching and going taut. “Let me feel how tight your slutty little hole is…open up, there’s a good boy…”

 

With the cooed encouragement and the constant torture of Jimin’s teeth, lips and tongue which refused to go anywhere near his cock, Taehyung relaxed enough to allow more of his finger in. Jimin gasped and let out a soft moan as Taehyung’s sphincter muscles clamped down tight enough to nearly stop the blood flow to his finger. He forced it to move, stretching him out as he angled his palm upwards against his balls. The motion made his finger rub tight against Taehyung’s prostate and he reacted immediately, throwing back his head and keening needily. Jimin repeated the forced upwards stroke and Taehyung’s voice cracked. His cock was oozing pre-cum profusely now, and it was mixing with the lube to create one, runny mess on his navel. His cheeks were pink, and his lips wet from constantly running his saliva-slick tongue over them. Jimin was dizzy with lust, as he saw what had become of the man who stirred terror in those far bigger and scarier than Jimin himself.

 

This was what true power felt like.

 

“Unnnhhh – fuck – I-I’m gonna come – “ Taehyung murmured, knuckles white as his hands fisted the tie that had him latched to the bedpost.

 

“Yeah? Are you gonna come?” Jimin said, groaning a little as he pushed his finger in as deep as it would go and then pulled it out just far enough for the tip to jab directly against Taehyung’s sweet spot.

 

“Yes! Fuck!” Taehyung cried as he did it, straining harder.

 

“Then come for me…come on my tongue, like the slut you are,” Jimin growled, grabbing his cock and slapping it against his flattened tongue, as it splayed over his lower lip.

 

Taehyung practically shrieked, coming on command. Jimin kept hitting the frenulum of his cock against his tongue, choking a little as his mouth filled abruptly with rope after rope of frothy cum, giving him no time to swallow in between each. But he had missed the salty musky taste and he couldn’t care less if there was a danger of some of it going down the wrong pipe. Taehyung was frantic, toes curling and scratching against the bedsheets as Jimin kept thrusting in his finger, feeling his prostate swell with every strong pulsation of the cock in his mouth.

 

“Oh, my fucking god, that was a lot of cum,” he gasped, lifting his mouth off it just briefly to swallow, before going back in for what was left. This time, he kept it pooled in his mouth and leaned up to kiss Taehyung, letting him taste and swallow it too. It was downright filthy, quite possibly the dirtiest thing Jimin had ever done of his own volition. And yet he had so much fun doing it, he could only laugh as he licked up and cleaned the corners of Taehyung’s mouth.

 

“Turn over – on your hands and knees, slut,” Jimin told him, “Hurry now.” He emphasised his words with a sharp, solid smack squarely on Taehyung’s right ass cheek.

 

“Wait….” Taehyung managed to get out, his voice barely above a whisper. His arms were still trembling and every so often, an aftershock of his orgasm made his entire body tighten and relax. “I need a minute…”

 

Jimin recalled their first time together, with Yoongi, when he had asked for the same thing, only to be denied. It was tempting to do the same thing to Taehyung and repay the favour. But he knew that was not going to achieve what he wanted. He leaned down, ruffling his fingers through Taehyung’s hair, pressing his lips against his forehead.

 

“If you want, baby boy…”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Ready?”

 

Jimin’s mouth was muffled against his shoulder, his voice high and soft with need. Through the fog still clouding Taehyung’s mind, he managed to find some semblance of an assent and communicated it with a nod of his head. Jimin’s hands were gentle on his body as he turned him onto all fours, until they weren’t, gripping on his hips with crushing force. Jimin’s teeth nipped the skin dipping against the small of his back, forcing Taehyung to arch with a hiss.

 

“We can get rid of this,” Jimin said, removing the blindfold.

 

Taehyung looked over his shoulder at him, hair falling into his eyes and drenched with sweat. His mouth was set in a scowl, but it fell short. He could barely hold it on his face. Jimin was smiling at him, his eyes crinkled up into half crescents, toothy grin stretching from ear to ear. It destroyed the vicious insults Taehyung had ready for him, waiting at the tip of his tongue. Jimin leaned in and kissed his mouth until they were both yearning for breath and broke away with a husky whisper of, “My turn.”

 

Taehyung pulled his lower lip into his mouth and silenced the desperate, dirty mewl that threatened to claw its way out of his throat. Fuck.

 

It was as if Jimin knew he didn’t want it soft and easy. There was no easing in, slowly, letting him adjust. As soon as he had his cock dripping with lube, he pulled Taehyung’s ass cheeks apart and pushed, forcing himself in until he was encased fully inside, grinding relentlessly to fill him. Taehyung welcomed the pain, like acid to his system, as he lifted his tied hands and crushed his palms against the wall. Where they dragged on the plaster, they left sweaty prints behind. Jimin’s voice had the opposite effect, like opium, lulling him with its sweet, dulcet pitch as he moaned in such pleasure his thighs trembled when they connected with Taehyung’s ass.

 

“Harder,” he managed to grunt, as Jimin began to move, but not forcefully enough.

 

He felt the younger’s hand grab onto his shoulder for leverage, and then he complied, pulling back his hips and driving them forwards with a satisfying slap of skin on skin. Taehyung let out a breathy moan, closing his eyes and imagining it was Yoongi doing it. They were almost the same size, though Jimin was girthier and – christ – he stretched him open wider. Taehyung let his forehead sink against the cold wall, panting with his tongue out as Jimin’s hand caressed his ass before spanking it. He unleashed a torrent of hard slaps, not stopping until Taehyung’s skin was red and stinging at the slightest touch.

 

“Fuuuccckkkk – “ Taehyung snarled, teeth grinding so hard he almost bit into his tongue with every judder of the bed.

 

“Do you like it? Huh? Tell me, slut!” Jimin hit him again and he shivered, his eyes snapping open.

 

“Yes, I fucking love it – take this off – “ Taehyung muttered, before repeating himself louder, signalling to his hands. He expected Jimin to say no and punish him again, and though that would have been nice, he wanted the tie to be used for something else. But Jimin did as he asked, leaning up to remove it when Taehyung raised his arms above his head and once he did, he jerked forward, sending Taehyung crashing against the wall.

 

“Tie it around my neck,” Taehyung gasped desperately, grimacing in frustration as the thrusts slowed.

 

“What?” Jimin’s voice was laced with surprise and Taehyung didn’t look back, knowing the sight of his cherubic mouth rounded with shock would ruin it all. He reached back and grabbed Jimin’s wrist, shaking the tie in his grip.

 

“Tie it around my neck like a leash and fucking pull! Choke me with it!” he yelled, “You wanted to fucking go all the way, so do it! Show me how much of a Dom you are, little boy!”

 

He used the condescending tone on purpose, knowing it was the best way to get Jimin riled up and he was right. He half-smiled in blessed relief as the tie looped around his neck and Jimin’s vicious little hands yanked the knot tight.

 

“Now pull – and fucking ride me harder,” Taehyung managed to get out before the tie tightened and his windpipe began to buckle under the pressure.

 

If he hadn’t known better, the strength with which Jimin pulled was close enough to the level of fatal strangulation. And that was exactly what Taehyung wanted. Jimin’s thrusts became sheer violence, sending Taehyung slamming into the headboard as his cock split his ass open. Taehyung’s head kept hitting the hard plastered wall and he let it, enjoying it even more when the tie-leash was pulled, tugged back so swiftly, he didn’t have time to draw in air.

 

And at some point, Jimin kept it drawn back, meaning the pressure on Taehyung’s wind pipe didn’t abate and the sounds he was making quietened to near silence, except for the barest choke and gasp. His fingers scrabbled to find a hold on the headboard as his ears filled with a roaring sound, drowning out Jimin’s rising moans as his cock expanded in Taehyung’s ass, and he drew close to a thunderous climax.

 

It was a dirty, animal rut, nothing more, nothing less, and it was the reason for Taehyung’s crazed grin as his eyes rolled back into his head. His cock was hard again, pumping in Jimin’s fist but he didn’t care if he got to come or not. It was the feeling of lightness in his head he was after, the sort that made him feel as if his soul were escaping his body.

 

“Fuck, Tae, I’m gonna come – “ Jimin’s teeth sank into his shoulder, and the tension on the tie relaxed.

 

“Pull the fucking leash!” Taehyung snapped at him, and seconds later, Jimin orgasmed, his cock spilling copious amounts of cum straight into his ass. And it did, his hand grabbed the tie and pulled, as he lost sight of his own strength and his scream was muffled by Taehyung’s skin.

 

Stars erupted in Taehyung’s vision, before abruptly fading to black.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin didn’t realise Taehyung was unconscious until about a minute after it happened. He was so lost in the new heights of bliss he had reached, he became selfish, unable to think outside of it. When his fingers uncurled from Taehyung’s hips, they ached from gripping too hard. Taehyung didn’t bruise easily but there was discolouration on his skin around the indentations of Jimin’s nails.

 

“Oh shit,” Jimin muttered, when Taehyung sank to the bed.

 

He pulled out, climbing off him and quickly unravelled the tie around his neck. Panic took him over as he felt for a pulse. It was there, slow, but picking up pace. Jimin exhaled, feeling shaky. He turned Taehyung onto his back and awkwardly waited for him to come to again. And then he thought about what might happen when he did, and panic returned.

 

Jimin got off the bed and rushed downstairs to get a jug of water. After a moment’s hesitation, he took the half-full whiskey bottle too, and ran back upstairs. Taehyung was stirring on the bed, his lips forming incoherent words. There were tear tracks on his cheeks, drying up, no doubt having resulted from the over-enthusiastic choking. Jimin climbed onto the bed and poured out a glass of water, trying to control the shaking of his hands.

 

“Hey,” he said softly, as Taehyung’s eyelashes fluttered open, “Here, have some water – “

 

As he had expected, Taehyung shook his head and glanced towards the bottle of whiskey. Jimin drained the glass of water and then poured the whiskey, slipping his hand under Taehyung’s shoulder to help him up. He sat up, wincing as he touched his throat and coughed dryly. He drank the whiskey in silence and Jimin waited, holding his breath.

 

Taehyung did nothing else, except give him back the glass and lie down. Jimin couldn’t figure out if it was awkwardness in the air or something more profound. He took a chance and decided not to leave the room and Taehyung alone in the bed. The sheets were stained but he had no strength to try and find new ones to replace them. He sank into the pillows next to Taehyung, pulling the sheets over their bodies. In the street light spilling in from the window, Taehyung’s every feature was awash in a dappled, pale orange glow.

 

“Did I pull too hard?” Jimin whispered. “I’m sorry if I lost control, I – “

 

“Hard enough,” Taehyung cut him off, “And if that was losing control, I don’t know what else you could possibly have to offer.”

 

“Well, I’m sorry if I didn’t choke you to death,” Jimin scowled, burying his face into the pillow.

 

“The difference between you and I, is that you don’t really want to hurt me, you just want to control me. I, on the other hand, want to hurt you, and control is part of it. Control and pain go hand-in-hand.”

 

“For you maybe.”

 

Taehyung’s hand lifted and Jimin recoiled, thinking he was going to smack his forehead. But instead, it came to rest against the side of his face, fingers twisting in his hair as he pulled him closer. Jimin’s hands were clasped between their chests and with this simple touch, he felt that devil of dominance inside him sink back to the depths from which it had reared its head. They kissed, soft, lingering touches of the lips until the kisses turned deeper, more passionate.

 

“This is the first time we fucked without recording it for him,” Jimin said breathlessly, pulling away just enough so that their noses still touched.

 

“He would haven’t been too pleased with what happened tonight,” Taehyung smirked tiredly, nuzzling the corner of Jimin’s mouth.

 

“Yeah.” Jimin’s hand turned over until his palm was flat on Taehyung’s chest, slipping under the shirt that still clung to him. “Whose blood is it?” he whispered, fingers squeezing the dull red patches spotted over the hem of it.

 

“Doesn’t matter,” Taehyung whispered back, eyes closing.

 

Jimin watched as sleep slowly overtook him, Taehyung’s arm securely wrapped around him. How easily he slept with blood on his hands, as long as he had something to hold onto when he did. Jimin didn’t know whether to be impressed or disgusted. He settled with apathetic, for the sake of finally getting some sleep himself.

 

*

 

 

They showered separately the next morning, though Taehyung made it obvious he wanted Jimin in the cramped showed cubicle with him. But Jimin wasn’t up for it. The coming of the cold winter morning brought with it the very real, very trouble-filled life waiting for him outside the door to this apartment. He was in no mood to get fucked higher and higher up a tiled wall, even if it was Taehyung doing it.

 

Jimin showered first and then opted to order breakfast from the usual place down the road. It felt weirdly nostalgic, though it hadn’t been long since he and Taehyung had lived in this place. Tt felt like years and yet had only been a matter of weeks. He had everything unpacked and waiting on plates on the living room table when Taehyung came downstairs.

 

It was only once they were both seated and eating, that Jimin finally asked, “Why did you want me to choke you so hard? I was practically strangling you to death.”

 

Taehyung laughed as he tore a brioche in half and stuffed it into his mouth. “What I wanted, was to reach subspace. But seemed like it was your first time doing this, so it’s no surprise I didn’t get there.”

 

“What’s subspace?” Jimin inquired, ignoring the jab to his prowess.

 

“It’s what happened to you when Yoongi and I fucked you. Together. Don’t you remember?” There was a decidedly mischievous glint in his pretty dark eyes as he stared at Jimin over the rim of his coffee cup.

 

Jimin did remember. He remembered feeling as if his world had shrunk to nothing but himself, Yoongi and Taehyung. He hadn’t been able to speak, much less make a sound, lost in such an enveloped feeling of bliss it felt wrong to feel so good. And then, it was nothing but stillness as he spaced out.

 

“Yoongi considers it to be the closest thing to being back in the womb,” Taehyung continued, his chin resting on his hand as he gazed out the window. “You’re unaware, oblivious to everything that exists outside it, and it takes you over like nothing else.”

 

“I know, I remember,” Jimin said quietly.

 

Taehyung exhaled, sitting back in his chair, his jaw set and his arms folded. Jimin acted as if he didn’t know the cold hands of reality were about to wrap around his neck. He stared into his cup of coffee and imagined the swirls were marking out a map of a fantasy world that he could sink into if he wished hard enough.

 

“How did you escape the fire?” Taehyung asked.

 

Jimin took in a deep, shaky breath, and shrugged, shaking his head with a sad little smile. “I don’t know. I just remember being in my bedroom and then nothing. I’m assuming someone came in behind me and knocked me out because when I woke up wrapped in a garbage bag in a back alley somewhere, the back of my head had a lump on it. I heard they retrieved the body of a thirteen year old,  and I knew they wanted my inheritance. Death was the best way to ensure it fell into their hands. Except, I wasn’t dead and some other kid was. Never figured out why.”

 

“By they, you mean…Geomjeong-pa,” Taehyung said, his fingers tapping softly on the table. “Does Yoongi still have the bullshit version of your past or does he know?”

 

Jimin shook his head, blinking back the prickliness in his eyes. “You know what he’d want. To make me want to avenge my parents and then reclaim the fortune and give a large fraction of it up to him. He’d know I’d give it up if he asked just right. But I couldn’t care less about the money.”

 

“So, you’re not out here looking for revenge?” Taehyung said.

 

“What revenge is there to be had? My parents got on the wrong side of Mother’s family and paid the price. And as I said, I don’t care about the money.”

 

Taehyung moved suddenly, leaning forward over the table, his brow furrowed as he forced Jimin to look him in the eye. It felt like being X-Rayed, and Jimin found it difficult not to let his knees buckle, though he was seated.

 

“What are you not telling me?” Taehyung said, his voice dropping a few decibels, his face earnest with the desire to know what was inside Jimin’s head, things that he couldn’t reach simply by jabbing his thumbs through the boy’s eye sockets.

 

“What?” Jimin grimaced, trying to move back, but unable to as Taehyung’s hand came up to grip his chin and keep him there.

 

“You’re lying to me, Park Jimin. You didn’t keep it such a secret only to imply it was because you didn’t want Yoongi to know.”

 

“I’m not lying,” Jimin insisted, “I never intended to get mixed in with Min Yoongi. That was on you. I had no money in Busan and I was earning it by working for you – “

 

“But you came from Seoul, where I found you, and never learned exactly what happened to land you in that hospital bed – “

 

“I told you it was a petty brawl – “

 

“And you were lying then and you’re lying about this too! Stop lying!” Taehyung exclaimed.

 

Make me, Jimin almost said. But that would prove to Taehyung he indeed had something to hide and he’d be on the scent like a bloodhound. Instead, he picked up the miniature portrait his mother had done for him and brandished it.

 

“Where’d you get this anyway?” he scowled.

 

Taehyung didn’t answer his question, sliding his hand from Jimin’s chin to the back of his head. It should have been a comforting gesture, his fingers playing with the hair on the nape of Jimin’s neck, but it just came off as intimidating. When did anything he ever do not come off that way in the end?

 

“Just leave me alone,” Jimin muttered, swatting his hand off. “We can’t continue this, or Mother will notice. Take it from me, she’s not going to invite us to have a threesome with her. She’ll kill us.”

 

“And yet, I’m going to fuck you again,” Taehyung answered. “And again. And again. Whenever I want, wherever I want.”

 

“There’s no use talking to you sometimes, is there?”

 

“There’s no use talking to me if you’re gonna lie.”

 

“I’m not fucking LYING!” Jimin screamed.

 

Taehyung stood up, fixing the cufflinks of his suit and nodded, tongue snaking over the inside of his cheek as he scoffed. “Yeah. Alright. Have it your way.” He walked around until he was standing directly behind Jimin, both hands on each of his shoulders, before leaning down until his voice was in his ear. “I’ll let you in on a fun fact. Your made up back story? Yoongi didn’t buy it. He told me. And though you’re low on his radar right now, trust me, he’s probably already got people looking into you. Whatever he decides to do when he finds out, consider yourself on your own.”

 

Jimin was frozen, his eyes glazing over. Taehyung slipped his arms tight around him from behind, and kissed the side of his head, holding his mouth against his skin for at least a minute before he let him go.

 

Jimin didn’t realise he was holding his breath until the front door slammed and he was left alone with the carcass of his mind and the dark thoughts battering away at its edges.

 

His bated breath left his lips like a death rattle.

 

 

 

Well, I mean, Jimin’s gamble paid off. Didn’t it……baby boy? /cackles/

 

Anyway, this wasn't my best smut but tbh, it was Jimin's first time Domming, so hey, I'm allowed to be clunky too. Yayyyyy - 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

Namjoon was shitting himself.

 

Never, not since the moment he had offered himself up as a voluntary sacrifice, had he imagined standing outside the cold, lifeless heart of Geomjeong-pa: Mother’s steel, concrete and glass condominium, a megalithic representative of the cold efficiency of her gang ranks.

 

Namjoon had studied Geomjeong-pa for so long, the initial disgust with its criminality and violence was superseded by begrudging admiration for how well-organised it was. With all the slick, cut-throat efficiency of a powerhouse Roman legion, the only thing Mother needed was to stick a giant golden eagle on the helm of her house and call it a day.

 

But of course not.

 

She had a fucking shark.

 

Namjoon had never been particularly fond of fish in his diet. He had never really thought about his opinion of being part of a fish’s diet. Especially not a seven foot long nightmare that almost made him piss on the floor the moment he set foot in the entrance hall. Jungkook noticed his reaction, and smirked. It was always a strange expression to see on him when he showed his front teeth. Everything about him was lethal, simmering under a pretty surface, but the sight of his teeth always gave him an innocence he had long outgrown.

 

“She can’t get out of there, you know. Don’t need to look so scared,” he said.

 

“Any other forms of wildlife I should know about?” Namjoon muttered, shoving his hands deep into his coat pockets.

 

“She’s got a white tiger, which she sometimes keeps in her office with her,” Jungkook answered.

 

Namjoon opened his mouth to reply, but he had no words.

 

Two guards at the opposite end of the gigantic hall held up a palm when Jungkook approached. Namjoon assumed they would begin by checking their person for weapons. Instead, one pulled out a tightly rolled piece of paper and slipped it to Jungkook. The young man groaned, eyes doubling back into his skull and flung it to Namjoon.

 

“She never lets me in without giving me a riddle to solve. Last time I was here for hours,” he said.

 

Namjoon unrolled the paper with a curious frown. Hurt without moving. Poison without touching. Bear the truth and the lies. Are not to be judged by our size. What are we?

 

He ignored Jungkook’s relentless pacing back and forth. The fact that he wasn’t taking out his phone told Namjoon it was against the rules. He wondered if Mother made all her men go through this. Was that possible? Namjoon had seen the collective IQ prevelant at the fight club, and unfortunately, 99% of Geomjeong-pa was designed to follow, not use their own brains and therefore lead. Mother always dealt with the remaining 1% anyhow.

 

Ten minutes passed during which Namjoon closed his eyes and let the question sink into the crevices of his brain like lava flowing down the sides of a volcano, settling into the shallow trenches already formed there. He used to do that in exams when a question was particularly hard. Letting go and allowing his brain to do its job without overheating it was the best option.

 

“Words,” he said out loud.

 

Jungkook turned with a scowl. “What?”

 

“The answer to the riddle. Is it words?” Namjoon directed to the guards.

 

The one to the right nodded but hesitated in moving to the door.

 

“You don’t have to tell her it wasn’t me who gave the answer,” Jungkook said, slipping him a hundred dollar bill and nodding for him to open up. Once they were in the slimmer hallway beyond, Jungkook grinned at Namjoon. “I knew there’d be a benefit in bringing you along. Apart from Jimin, you’re the cleverest man I have.”

 

Namjoon didn’t doubt it for a moment.

 

The closer they got to the monochrome doors leading into Mother’s office, the tighter his throat constricted. Until suddenly, they were inside and surrounded by light and open space. Namjoon had expected something darker and more furnished, not this. It looked like the futuristic office space of a hotshot executive in Silicon Valley. And thank fuck there was no tiger in sight.

 

Mother wasn’t…Mother.

 

The male persona was sitting behind the desk, and even Jungkook’s reaction was a little surprised to see him like that. Namjoon was trying his very hardest not to stare. He had seen pictures of Mother, usually shadowed ones that did not do full justice to her features. He had seen her from across the balcony at the fight club. But seeing the man behind the dress, swathed in light and dressed in all-white, was close to ethereal. His dark eyes wandered over Jungkook once, and went straight to Namjoon.

 

“Who is this?” she said, incredibly soft-spoken.

 

“Namjoon,” Jungkook gestured to him grandly. “He’s one of my men.”

 

“Since when?”

 

“Since I hired him?” Jungkook said, like a teenager arguing with his parent.

 

“Has he been vetted?”

 

Why are they acting like I’m not here? This was explained when Jungkook sat down at the desk but a quick look from Mother forced Namjoon to freeze a few feet away, still standing. Of course. He was non-existent in this case. He proceeded to fold his hands before him and make his face blank, as he saw the other men of Geomjeong-pa do whenever someone of a higher ranking showed up.

 

“Quite a show your man put up at the fight club,” Jungkook said, going straight in.

 

“I thought you’d like it,” Mother laughed, resting her perfectly formed chin on the back of her hand. There appeared to be genuine affection in her eyes for the young man, and Namjoon was trying not to stare as he utilised his lessons learned on reading body language. She wasn’t leaning towards Jungkook, but her free hand was out, fingers splayed in a relaxed manner across the desk. A quiet implication that he was free to take her hand. Subtle psychology had been Dean’s specialism when it came to interrogations. He had taught Namjoon all these things through practice.

 

“I loved it,” Jungkook chuckled, his eyes crinkling sweetly, looking his age. “The guy fought like he was a character on Overwatch. What was his name?”

 

“Kim Taehyung,” Mother replied, dancing her fingers on the desk. “I’m glad you like him, Jungkook. He’s going to be your enforcer when you take over Yongsan-gu.”

 

Jungkook’s eyes popped open to full roundness and his mouth did the same. He tilted his head, cocking his ear towards Mother as if he had not heard correctly.

 

“When I what?” he said.

 

Mother sighed, eyeing him with a knowing look of exasperation. “You heard me. Don’t pretend to be oblivious.”

 

“I heard you, but – Yongsan-gu? That’s our wealthiest district,” Jungkook said, stuttering a little.

 

“Do you think you won’t be able to handle it?”

 

“I could try, but I doubt it.”

 

Mother seemed pleased with the answer, biting the corner of her lip to keep back a smile. “And that’s how I know you’re closer to being ready than you’ll ever be. The old Jungkook would have said yes immediately, overconfident and far too proud for his own good.”

 

Jungkook said nothing, glancing down at his hands. There was something of a sullen pout forming on his face though Namjoon couldn’t figure out for the life of him why that should be. He had received news that should have had him screaming in triumph from the rooftops. At his age, to be given Yongsan-gu was akin to inheriting a chaebol. It was good news for Namjoon for altogether different reasons. A younger boss was set up to make mistakes. Jungkook was incredibly sharp, but he had a hot temper. And nepotism would do him no favours. Soo Jang Ho was hand in hand with judges, politicians and chaebols, having drawn up private agreements to keep Geomjeong-pa thriving under their noses whilst providing them with lucrative rewards for their silence. None would find anything to relate to in twenty year old boy who spent his time holed up in a condo running a makeshift narcotics factory.

 

“When you’re ready, the reins will be passed to you, as will Kim Taehyung,” Mother continued. “You’d be right to doubt yourself at first. But that’s why you’ll have him. When my father created Geomjeong-pa, his enforcer made all the difference. If we are to make Seoul a Yakuza-free territory, then it needs to spread wider and reach greater heights. Don’t think I’m giving you a free pass because of nepotism. You’ll receive the same treatment as Soo Jang Ho the moment I get a whiff of deliberate ineptness.”

 

Jungkook nodded slowly throughout her speech, but nearer the end, he scoffed humourless. Silence fell, in which he simply stared at his fingers. When he looked up, his smile was gone and so was Mother’s.

 

“Nepotism,” he said quietly. “I don’t think that word applies. We’re not related.”

 

“And yet you receive benefits others your age can only dream of.”

 

“Why?”

 

“What do you mean why?”

 

Tension was starting to creep in like fog, slowly turning the air icier. Jungkook didn’t seem afraid, but Namjoon saw that Mother had retracted her hand.

 

“I don’t even know your name,” Jungkook said honestly, “I knew you as hyung when your dad was alive. And then Mother when he died. I knew your wife’s name and I knew your son’s name, but I still didn’t know yours the day they were cremated. It’s like I’m family but not at the same time. You hold me at arm’s length and hand me Geomjeong-pa’s most profitable district as if it’s a toy to distract me. Why?”

 

Mother’s lips pursed. “You want to know my name? There’s a lot of power in a name. People share that power all too easily.”

 

“Is it more valuable than Yongsan-gu?” Jungkook challenged.

 

Mother smirked. When Jungkook continued to smile, she rapped on the desk with her knuckles and sat back in her seat. “Alright. I share the same name as my great-great-great grandfather.”

 

Jungkook glanced to the side and then back at her. “I…don’t know what his name was?”

 

“There’s a genealogy of the Kim clan in your home. It’s in the library I had built for you that you rarely visit.”

 

Jungkook looked baffled, but then he shook his head and seemed to reorganise his thoughts. “Well, if that’s all then – “

 

“One more thing. I need you to hunt someone down for me,” Mother interrupted, signalling for him to remain seated. She removed a photograph from her desk and slid it over to Jungkook. It was impossible to see from Namjoon’s vantage point. “His name is Kim Bong Ju. He worked for my father, and I need him, wherever he’s vanished to.”

 

“Who is he?” Jungkook asked, frowning down at the photograph.

 

“That’s the fun of a research project, Jeon Jungkook. Research,” Mother replied tartly.

 

Jungkook very obviously resisted the urge to roll his eyes and got to his feet, bowing deeply. Namjoon did the same when it became clear the conversation was over. The motion redirected Mother’s eyes back to him and a flicker of a smile returned to her mouth.

 

“We must have tea some time, Namjoon,” she said, “I would like to get to know a man who solves one of my riddles in ten minutes.” At Jungkook’s guilty double take, she lifted an eyebrow. “Did you really think your hundred dollar bill was enough to bribe the loyalty of my men? Let’s hope yours are more faithful to you.”

 

Whether there was a veiled threat in her humorous words, there was no telling. But Jungkook’s mood dropped rapidly, and after a cursory farewell, he walked out of the office with a face like thunder. The doors slid open and he walked headfirst into Kim Taehyung.

 

There was an odd moment where both men stared each other down as if they were in a boxing ring. And then as quickly as it happened, it dissipated, and Taehyung stepped aside, with a slight bow of his head. However, when Namjoon passed, he looked up. There was no other way to describe the movement than plain deliberate. There was something in his eyes, a knowing look as if he could see right through Namjoon’s façade, and he knew exactly who he was.

 

In a wildly illogical supposition, Namjoon wondered if Jimin had told his cousin about his identity. But of course, that was impossible. Considering how close Taehyung was to Mother, he would have had no reason to hide it from her if he knew. Namjoon would already have been on the floor with a bullet in his head.

 

He was allowed to pass, all the while feeling those evil eyes  lasering holes into the back of his head.

 

 

 

*

 

Do not bite the hand that feeds you. It may be diseased.

 

So many things his mother had said, that Jimin put off to her…eccentric nature. His father was less kind. Ever since Jimin was old enough to talk, he heard stories of how his mother was mad, and how he eventually would be, because he had her blood running through his veins. He couldn’t remember a time in his life he had felt truly mad. He had put off his father’s tirades to his alcoholic nature.

 

Until now.

 

If she had still been alive, he would have asked her to repeat all her sayings, so that he could provide context. He was stuck in a war without honour or end, and her words of madness were starting to make more and more sense. He remembered her cradling him when his father’s drunken tantrums became too violent. In a house with a hundred bedrooms, hiding was the easy bit. It was knowing when to come out that was the difficult part. Father’s drinking was consecutive, he was never fully sober in the final five years of his life. The liquor curdled in his blood, ready to make him lash out if he was crossed even an inch. Mother was no better in her own strange way but at least she held Jimin when he cried, and promised to protect him from Father.

 

What an odd moment of epiphany it had been to see the portrait she had so lovingly painted, in Taehyung’s hands.

 

A knock on the door forced Jimin to hurriedly wipe his reddened, watery eyes with the sleeves of his shirt and he called ‘Come in.’

 

It was Jungkook. He didn’t have to look up in the reflection of the mirror to know. The scent of his aftershave came in with him.

 

“Hey. Where were you?” Jimin mumbled, keeping his voice low, to disguise any cracks in it.

 

“Mother called,” Jungkook answered, opening one of the window doors to the terrace balcony before kicking up a chair beside Jimin at the dresser.

 

He imitated the way the older man sat, elbows on the wood, hands tucked under his chin and gazed at Jimin with a steady, penetrative stare. Jimin could never get over how misplaced his eyes - hell, all of his features were – on his face. Soft, inviting, doe-like. Jimin had seen plenty of pretty mobsters before they were scarred to high hell, however none had such innocence. It made Jimin wonder what Jungkook’s mother had looked like. If their faces were similar, then he wouldn’t be surprised if Kim Seokjin’s father was also Jungkook’s. The dead Kim patriarch reportedly had a penchant for innocence. Though he did not touch a single one, he personally hand-picked prostitutes for his elite circle of friends and almost always chose them for how sweet and demure they were. Unsettling, to say the least. Even more so if this desire of his had resulted in the boy seated before him.

 

“What are you thinking?” Jungkook murmured, reaching out to place his hand on the nape of Jimin’s neck. His finger curled the tendrils of hair, tugging gently until Jimin finally made him stop. His hand went up to grab Jungkook’s and ended up entwined with it. Jungkook chuckled, implying that had been his aim to begin with.

 

The smile slowly faded – as it usually did – and Jungkook spread Jimin’s hand open in his, palm towards the ceiling. He traced the pad of his thumb over each finger, before kissing the tip of the longest one. Jimin eyed him, motionless, hissing a little when Jungkook’s teeth nipped his skin. There was desire in his eyes. Not the playful, slightly ambiguous confused desire of a hormonal teenage boy. Real desire. The sort that made goose bumps rise on the skin without being touched.

 

Jimin pulled his hand away. It came loose with a jerk, as Jungkook’s grip tightened.

 

“What is it about me that repulses you so much?” Jungkook said.

 

Jimin’s heart broke.

 

It was a clean split. Not the sort of chaotic mess created by the falling of a china plate on stone floors. More like a stretched taut metal wire slicing through butter. A quiet, clean destruction. So swift, the pain wasn’t even there.

 

“You don’t repulse me. You could never repulse me,” Jimin said, past the lump in his throat, winding his fingers through Jungkook’s. “Don’t say that. Sex isn’t everything.”

 

“And yet it’s a lot,” Jungkook challenged.

 

Jimin realised very quickly he could not talk himself out of this one. Not without some severe soul searching anyway. It took him a minute, during which he found his sanity slipping away the longer he stared into the pools of darkness that masqueraded as Jungkook’s eyes. Were they getting larger, or was it a trick of his mind?

 

Jimin’s hand tightened around Jungkook’s larger one and he pressed his forehead against the back of it. Maybe not looking at him would make this sound more genuine, because it was. He had just forgotten how to tell the truth in a convincing manner since he was so much better at lying.

 

“I like you far too much to do that to you,” he said.

 

“I-isn’t it supposed to be the opposite?” he heard Jungkook laugh nervously from above him.

 

Jimin shook his head, still keeping it down. “Not with me it isn’t. Our relationship is going to go downhill the moment we sleep together.”

 

Jungkook’s hand pulled away violently, almost hitting Jimin in the face as it did. Jimin lifted his head to see the other scowling.

 

“Sure. Whatever.”

 

“You don’t get it, do you?” Jimin laughed tiredly, “You really think the love you have for me is going to keep rising after you fuck me. It won’t, Jungkook, it’s going to peak. And then everything is going to crash and burn. Maybe you need to go out and lose your virginity to someone you like, not love. Then, when you’ve taken off the rose-tinted glasses – “

 

Jimin jumped as Jungkook abruptly grabbed a chair and flung it across the room. It shattered with frightening precision, each leg splintering upon contact with the wall. The sound was deafening in that split second.

 

“There you go. That’s why we shouldn’t sleep together. You just proved my point,” Jimin muttered.

 

“Do you get off on acting like you’re a decade older than me?” Jungkook said. Other than slightly faster breathing, his voice was calm and low. Somehow, that was scarier than if he had been screaming. “You’re twenty going on twenty-one. Act like it for once.”

 

“Fine. I’m not sleeping with you because you’re a dickhead. Happy?” Jimin retorted.

 

“That’s more like it,” Jungkook replied, kicking aside the seat he had occupied at the dresser before falling onto Jimin’s bed, his combats still on his feet. Jimin didn’t have the energy to tell him to take them off.

 

As ever, the temper tantrum was short and contained, over as quickly as it had started. Jungkook wasn’t a fan of talking about feelings. He just stated what he wanted and liked hearing an answer in his favour. But this argument had been different. The physical outburst was proof. Jimin knew Jungkook would never in a million years hurt him. He didn’t even think such an idea could ever cross his mind. But this display was worrying. Jungkook was slowly turning into the exact thing he always feared he would become, at least if the drug-addled conversations at 4am were any indication. And the ‘thing’ he feared was Mother. It was characteristic of her to be as still as the ocean until a shark came cutting through, ready to rip off limbs and fill the water with clouds of red.

 

As red as Jungkook’s temper.

 

“Maybe I’ll take your advice,” Jungkook said at length. “Maybe I’ll find someone to sleep with. And maybe it’ll happen again and again and again until I’ve weaned myself off of my immature pining over you. You don’t have to say it with your own tongue, but I see it all over your face. That look of pity and frustration. You think of yourself as so much older than me.”

 

“I don’t! Oh my god, Jungkook not everything is about you, you, you! You never fucking believe me when I tell you it’s a bad idea! I don’t want to sleep with someone who can’t see beyond his own desires!”

 

What a fat fucking lie, you hypocritical piece of shit, Jimin’s brain snickered at him.

 

“Whatever,” Jungkook said airily, shrugging. Jimin felt his ears turn red with rage and he had to physically look away before he gave into the urge to grab Jungkook and headbutt him back to his senses. “I know Mother’s name now.”

 

Jimin said nothing, but he felt the base of his stomach drop away. So, she was meaning to give him Yongsan-gu. Jungkook turned out to be the chosen one after all.

 

“Seokjin hyung,” Jungkook chuckled, rolling the name off his tongue, “It feels like she – he’s a completely different person. Not the one I’ve known most of my life. But Seokjin hyung feels more familiar than Mother. She’s unreachable behind her wig and her dress.”

 

“Maybe that’s why she puts it on,” Jimin muttered. “And maybe I should take a page out of her book.”

 

“Seeing you in a skirt would only make me want to fuck you more, so better not. Since you know, I’m a hormonal little boy who can’t control his emotions.”

 

Jimin let the words float away on the air, each dripping with the sort of sarcasm that bit like acid. He didn’t take the bait and grab onto them.

 

“She’s considering giving me Yongsan-gu,” Jungkook continued, confirming Jimin’s earlier thought. “Well, she said she’d give it to me outright, but I know I’m still in the trial period and will be for a long time. But first, she’s going to give me tasks to do, probably so she doesn’t have to waste her own manpower on them. Something to keep me distracted until she’s sure of my loyalty. Because thirteen years at her side obviously isn’t enough.”

 

“She’s got the most to lose, it’s understandable,” Jimin said wearily, putting his chin in his hand and watching Jungkook with red eyes.

 

The young man laughed. “Yeah, well, my first task is to find an elusive man called Kim Bong Ju who worked for her father. If she hasn’t managed to find him yet, how the fuck will I? Watch me fail the first one.”

 

Jimin’s eyebrows shot so high up his forehead, they disappeared completely behind his fringe. Then, he laughed shortly.

 

“You’ll be fine. You’ve managed more than that spending endless hours in your lab,” he said.

 

“Thanks for the encouragement.” Jungkook turned on his side, smiling prettily with his head propped up on his elbow. “Aw, almost feels like we’re real-life boyfriends! Not just make-believe!” he cooed in a high-pitched voice.

Jimin gave in and laughed, but it was an unconvincing sound. And Jungkook’s façade of cheeriness wiped away faster than bleach. He swung his legs up until he was sitting on the edge of the bed. He fiddled with his belt, pulling his jeans up higher as he stood and began walking towards the door. As he did, he danced a little pirouette, looking at Jimin with a renewed twinkle in his eyes.

 

“Mother also said that new pet of hers would be my enforcer. The man from the dog-fighting ring.”

 

Every cell in Jimin’s body became still as he told himself inwardly not to let any untoward reaction flicker over his face.

 

“Oh yeah?” he said, blank as ever.

 

“Kim Taehyung.” Jungkook waggled his eyebrows. “He’s hot. Hotter than I’d expect him to be considering the way he acted at the fight club. Maybe I’ll have him be my first. Man like that…probably doesn’t deal with emotions at all, does he? He can teach me to be the sort of emotionless sex robot you want. How does that sound?”

 

He didn’t wait for an answer. Instead, his laughter echoed in the air behind him, before he disappeared through the door, letting it swing shut with a sharp clack.

 

The careless words of a boy who was hurting at being rejected by his first love. That’s all they were. Jimin knew that was the logical answer. But what was this terrible, churning, hot feeling that came with the cold touch of logic? Right there in his stomach, spreading through his limbs until his toes curled and sweat broke out on the nape of his neck.

 

Jealousy?

 

He felt like laughing at himself. What the fuck sort of an emotion was that in this situation? But it was there, and it was making itself felt, stabbing at his insides like a red-hot iron poker. Worst of all, he didn’t know in whose honour it was. Jealous of Taehyung or Jungkook –

 

It was the name that followed the ‘of’ that made all the difference after all.

 

*

 

Perhaps it was just because it was December.

 

December was an awful month. Full of anticipation, happiness, celebration, excitement. All things Taehyung had come to loathe. And his birthday was stuck right there on the ass-end of the whole year. Too uncomfortably close to being at the end of one year, but not late enough to be at the start of the new one. A January 1st birthday wouldn’t have been as awkward. Oh no, everyone would be happy to celebrate that. But December 30 wasn’t even New Year’s Eve. It was just…there. Rammed in where it wasn’t wanted.

 

All of this Taehyung had once put together in a surprisingly verbose explanation to Hoseok, an attempt to keep the man from getting him a birthday present. It never worked. Besides, if it wasn’t for his birthday, Hoseok would always use December 30 as an excuse to mark the first time they had met.

 

December 30th was drawing closer again and Taehyung hadn’t asked for the flood of memories, but this bastard of a month brought out something only Hoseok could. This would be the first December 30th without him.

 

He had turned 17 at midnight. Awkward, tall boy with gangly limbs and a voice that was far deeper than his face suggested, occasionally squeaking as puberty kicked him in the ass every now and then. His hair was dyed a bright orange, and he had been waiting for two hours at the post office. His grandmother had inadvertently let slip that the yearly birthday cards and money from his father were left in a PO box, at the post office down the road. She had begged Taehyung not to go, she said it was no use. His father would never stick around, not even for his son. The cards and the money were the last remnants of any humanity and guilt he still had left inside him.

 

But Taehyung still went. She might have given up on her son, but then again, she had all her answers. Taehyung only had questions. He needed them answering. He wasn’t sure what he would do when he first saw the man. Punch him in the face? Or run to him and cling to him, sobbing like a little child?

 

A hundred scenarios sped through his mind in the first hour.

 

“Sit down kid you’re making me nervous,” the post master told him, but Taehyung ignored him and kept pacing.

 

By the second hour, he sat, unable to keep his legs upright. All the energy had drained from them at the thought of the exams he had to sit after New Years. He curled up on a chair and bit his nails to stubs, holding his skinny arms to his chest and watching the clock tick. Three hours passed, and the sky outside began to darken. His birthday would soon be over.

 

The asshole wasn’t coming. His grandmother was right.

 

And yet Taehyung spent the fourth hour there too. The post master told him to leave, saying he’d call his grandmother. Taehyung ignored him, kicking his shoe against the arm of the chair beside him, scuffing the wood.

 

The doors opened and he perked up, only to sink down immediately. It was a young man in a beanie hat and headphones pinning it in place. He seemed to know the post master, his face lighting up with an ear-splitting smile so bright it was almost impossible to look at. Taehyung hated him in an instant. He just seemed so stupidly happy and happiness was a luxury. How dare he hog it all for himself, the son of a bitch. And without apparent reason too.

 

He closed his eyes and returned to scuffing the chair, humming under his breath to try and still the vicious racket of his thoughts.

 

“Excuse me?”

 

He heard the voice, but ignored it, assuming it wasn’t for him. But at the sharp flick of fingers on his forehead, Taehyung leapt up, rearing to fight.

 

“What?” he barked, shoulders tense as he drew on the guy. It was the asshole with the sunshine smile.

 

“Woah there, kid, calm down,” he answered, holding up his palms. “You don’t wanna talk like that to a cop.”

 

Taehyung didn’t back down but some inadvertent wariness must of shown in his eyes because the other shrugged sheepishly and added, “Well, officer-in-training, but still a good idea to be mindful of your actions.”

 

Taehyung just scowled at him, an expression that was not menacing enough to be convincing. It was the puppy fat packing his cheeks that ruined the effect. The other certainly seemed to think so, because his lips trembled for a moment, as if he were trying to hold back a smile. He cleared his throat and lifted his eyebrows in a mock semblance of being stern.

 

“The post master asked me to get you to leave. He’s closing up soon. It’s almost 6pm. So come on, chop-chop.”

 

He wouldn’t take no for an answer. That was how Taehyung knew he’d be a good cop. He had a major stick up his butt that kept him strait-laced to a fault. He introduced himself as Hoseok, but the boy was barely paying attention. Rather than walk off down the street, Taehyung proceeded to huddle his coat around him and sit outside the post office, expectantly watching the end of the street that curved in from the main road. By this time, Hoseok was curious and after watching him in silence, he finally asked.

 

“My dad’s supposed to come here,” Taehyung mumbled, wiping his runny nose on his sleeve.

 

Hoseok quietly removed a pack of tissues from his pocket and handed one to him before asking, “Can’t you meet him at home?”

 

Taehyung shook his head, not meeting his eyes. “He only comes to Busan once every year.”

 

“Today?”

 

Taehyung nodded.

 

“Why?”

 

“It’s my birthday. He leaves a card and money in a PO box and then leaves. My grandma told me by accident this morning. I didn’t know before.”

 

Hoseok’s face melted, his smile faltering as his eyes became dark with concern. Taehyung glanced at him suspiciously and a scowl painted itself across his features.

 

“Don’t go feeling sorry for me. I don’t need your pity, cop,” he spat.

 

“I wouldn’t dream of giving it,” Hoseok said quickly, putting up his hands in a theatrical display of defence yet again. “Look, if he was going to come, he would have by now. You shouldn’t be spending your birthday out here like this. How old are you?”

 

“Seventeen.”

 

“Aah, I’m nineteen. Your hyung,” Hoseok said brightly. “Come on. I should treat you with food.”

 

“We’re not friends. Piss off and leave me alone.”

 

“We might not be friends, but you’re hungry and don’t deny it.”

 

Taehyung couldn’t. The cop-in-training treated to him an entire bucket of fried chicken at the shop down the road and Taehyung assumed that would be the last he saw of him. But somehow, and not entirely by coincidence, he found Hoseok patrolling the streets a month later. The lack of coincidence stemmed from the crowd Taehyung had fallen in with. Petty iljin gangs dealing in drugs when they should have been studying. Taehyung’s reasoning was that he would be failing all the exams anyway, so why not spend the time doing something more productive?

 

It wasn’t Hoseok’s duty to book the kids and take them down to the station. But he certainly did his best to usher them out of whichever alleyway they were holed in. All of them got a savage smack on the head except for Taehyung, who only got a disappointed sigh. The young boy never really cared. Until he did.

 

His grandmother died a year later and Hoseok was one of the many people in the community who had known and loved her. Goodness had skipped two generations, because despite her best efforts, Taehyung knew he was like his father, the man he had never known. Even her death didn’t do enough to make him want to change. He cried and cried until he could cry no more and he was back to dealing drugs the next day. Daegu was not a city designed for orphans who had no social standing or money. The hustle was constant.

 

Hoseok graduated from the police academy another year later and Taehyung’s first time in jail was his doing, a fact both amusing and ironic. He was growing taller, and he lorded it over Hoseok all the way to the station. Once he was behind bars in his small cell adjacent to the open plan office, he waited until Hoseok was the only officer left in the room after the rest went to take their breaks, before addressing him.

 

“I swear you were taller than me last time I checked,” he teased, “Didn’t feel very intimidating being put in jail by you, I must admit. Kind of feels like a walk in the park with one of Snow White’s dwarves.”

 

“What?” Hoseok said, shaking his head with a baffled expression, before returning to his computer.

 

Taehyung’s smile disappeared, and he took a deep breath. For a moment, the young boy with a nose and ears too big for his face, returned. Awkward, fumbling, aggressive because he didn’t know how else to behave in response to a world that had kicked him in the spine since the moment he learned to walk. He wanted to talk to the cop. He liked him. Taehyung generally didn’t like people, and that was a rule of thumb. His grandmother was the only person he had ever loved. Perhaps her death had left a void that needed filling before it swallowed him whole.

 

He jangled his cuffs against the bar. “Hey, can you take these off? They’re starting to hurt my wrists.”

 

Hoseok looked up with a scowl, prepared for more of his irritating sarcasm. But something in Taehyung’s face told him he wasn’t joking around. He stifled a sigh and reached for the keys in his drawer. Going over to him, he didn’t meet Taehyung’s eyes, before signalling that he should lift his hands. The boy did, reaching through them to place the lock as close to them as possible. Hoseok struggled with the key. It wasn’t turning. The light returned to Taehyung’s eyes. Abruptly, he grabbed Hoseok’s hands, pinning them against the bars.

 

“Boy, if you don’t – “ Hoseok stopped mid-growl when he looked up to see Taehyung smiling at him.

 

It wasn’t his usual smirk. Well, it was, but it was tinged with something…genuine.

 

“What’s the matter? Your small hands can’t manage it?” he said.

 

Rather than take offence at the jab, Hoseok glanced down. How odd. It wasn’t just vertically that Taehyung had grown. And yet in Hoseok’s opinion, his nose was still too big for his face, and now his hands were too. They were holding his incredibly tightly. There were times in the past when Taehyung displayed a self-assurance with physical violence, enough to shock the officer. But more often than not, he just looked lost. A lost boy with nowhere to go. Now, the lost boy was the one that rarely showed up, and in his place was this calm, collected young man with hands that were holding his far too hard.

 

“It’s starting to hurt. Stop it,” Hoseok said quietly.

 

Taehyung let go instantly and broke eye contact. Hoseok managed to get the cuffs open, turned and almost ran back to his desk. Once there, relief washed over him. He had never felt that way around Taehyung. As if he was standing in the presence of danger. Or he thought that was what it was. Yet danger wasn’t supposed to stir strange feelings of excitement.

 

Even without looking, Hoseok knew Taehyung continued to stare at him, and the danger in the air continued to swell, thicker than lust, stronger than love.

 

 

Taehyung had never even kissed anyone by the time he was nineteen. He didn’t know what it was like to interact romantically with people his own age. He’d had crushes, on both boys and girls, and never done anything to follow through. And yet he knew, sitting there in the cell that summer night, that something had changed in his relationship with Hoseok. He was right.

 

Taehyung joined Yong Geondal a month later, with no idea of who the kingpin was or any desire to know. Another six months and Hoseok was sent undercover, secretly unwilling and terrified out of his mind. For once, Taehyung had the upper hand, he was the protector, not the one who needed protecting. The change between them didn’t manifest until another month or two later. They were each other’s first, and it became quite clear once the awkward fumbling and giggling commenced. The sex got better, eventually, but that wasn’t what stuck out in his mind. It was that moment in the jail cell when his hands had pinned Hoseok’s to the bars.

 

Nothing – and no one – had ever made him feel so much in such a short time of knowing them. There had been no one quite like Hoseok to exist in Taehyung’s realm of awareness. He was never into that Harry Potter shit that all the other kids were into growing up, but he would describe Hoseok as magical without a moment’s hesitation.

 

And now he was dead, leaving that black void inside Taehyung unfilled. His grandmother had kept it sealed, until she couldn’t anymore. Hoseok took over and even though Taehyung grew more and more violent with each passing day, as the maniacal society of Yong Geondal encouraged his natural talent to hurt people, he held onto that small part of him that was filled with sunshine. He hadn’t found another cork to plug the void quick enough after Hoseok died. It had grown by the day, a cancer spreading through his soul until Taehyung looked in the mirror and saw maggots pour from his mouth and leeches pop from his ears, his eyes running black.

 

December 30th always fucked with him like this.

 

And though he had long ago promised himself he was done trying to seek out sunshine in people who would never be half the force of nature Hoseok was, Taehyung still felt something of a twinge when he felt his burner phone vibrate.

 

Only one person messaged or called him on that one.

 

*

 

Jimin fell through the door as if he were drunk, yet he hadn’t had a drop of alcohol in days. He landed against the wall of the motel room, forehead pressed to the cool wallpaper and closed his eyes with a little grin when he heard the sounds from the other room come through. Taehyung entered a few seconds later, closing and locking the door.

 

“They’re going at it like horses in a stable,” Jimin murmured, tapping the wall gently.

 

Taehyung’s hot breath on his neck made him tense, a gasp just waiting to blow from his lips. Taehyung’s hand came slithering up the front of his padded jacket, wrapping around the base of Jimin’s throat.

 

“We can be louder,” Taehyung whispered in his ear.

 

Jimin let out a soft moan, that turned into a crooning giggle, rising in pitch until Taehyung couldn’t take it anymore and turned him around, slamming his back against the wall. Jimin’s squeak of surprise was lost in his mouth, his hands finding Taehyung’s hair and grabbing so eagerly, his nails scratched his scalp. He felt like he could stand there forever, with the sounds of someone’s raucous lovemaking next door, and the sucking sounds Jimin’s lips made when they fondled his.

 

“I like it better when you make me go quiet,” Jimin said breathlessly, in the brief moment of pause in the kiss. It kept Taehyung from leaning in for another, his brow furrowed against Jimin’s.

 

“I’ll gag you if that’s what you want,” he said.

 

Jimin shook his head. “No, no, I mean – “ he gestured with his hands before giving up and pulling on Taehyung’s shoulders to destroy all distance between them. “ – I like being overcome to the point where I can’t make a sound. When you’re fucking me so good, I have to breathe just to stay conscious, I can’t spare oxygen for screaming – that sort of quiet – “

 

As if to prove the point, Taehyung kissed him again, sealing their lips tight.  He felt Jimin shudder against him, hands clawing his shoulders. When they broke apart, words were gone. Taehyung pulled on his chin, hissing as he saw how Jimin’s lip was almost drooling when he tugged it down. He grazed his teeth over it, before running his tongue over the boy’s upper lip. Jimin curled out his tongue to meet his, French kissing in mid air, until Taehyung pushed it back into his mouth, closing the kiss once more.

 

“I-I’m gonna get on the bed,” Jimin stuttered once they came up for air the second time.

 

He was red in the face, the colour spreading to his neck and ears. Taehyung proceeded to go through the motel’s well stocked supplies in the bathroom cabinet. Six bottles of lube and four boxes of condoms. Evidently, this room hadn’t been used much this week. It had been expensive, which was most likely way. But better a love motel than that mouldy apartment.

 

When he walked out, Jimin was on the bed, stripped of everything but his socks, and sitting back against a mound of pillows with his hand slowly stroking between his legs. The TV was on, displaying an advert for life insurance.

 

“Death turns you on? Why am I not surprised,” Taehyung muttered, switching it off again.

 

“They started arguing,” Jimin jabbed his thumb over his shoulder at the wall to indicate the couple who had been fucking only minutes ago. It was quiet now. His eyes were as dark as Taehyung’s, but in the pink light, they seemed hazel, shimmering slightly as their gazes met. It was a strange, disembodied moment. A crossing into No-Man’s land that was happening simultaneously, representing a silent agreement to leave the real world on the other side of the closed motel door.

 

Taehyung pinched his toe through his sock, making Jimin jump and kick out. “You leaving these on?”

 

“Why? Got a foot fetish?” Jimin demanded, nudging his ankle into Taehyung’s side.

 

Taehyung grabbed it, dragging him down the bed until he was beside him, flat on his back. Jimin laughed, a little nervously and tried to get up, only to be shoved back down again. Taehyung leaned down to kiss him but Jimin turned his head away, giggling when the older growled in frustration. “You wanna play it that way, huh?”

 

“What way?” he frowned.

 

Taehyung grinned, his grip loosening and Jimin took the chance to escape, pushing him in the process.

 

He curled up on the other end of the king size bed, nibbling on the crook of his finger as he watched Taehyung with eyes that danced, waiting for his reaction. Taehyung kicked off his shoes, taking his sweet time getting undressed. It was far more entertaining watching Jimin’s eagerness turn to confusion and then finally, boredom as Taehyung gave no sign that his little display of playfulness had had its intended effect. He began to get impatient, crawling across the bed on his hands and knees once Taehyung’s briefs lay on the ground with his trousers. Moments before Jimin’s greedy mouth came into contact with his cock, Taehyung grabbed his neck and forced him to kneel upright.

 

“So, where’s the Dom in you gone, huh?” he said, squeezing the sides of Jimin’s neck until the boy winced and coughed a little in pain.

 

“He’s still there if you want him,” Jimin whispered, cackling as Taehyung pretended to punch him in the ribs.

 

Before his fist connected with Jimin’s side, Taehyung let it splay open over his skin, moving around to the pert curve of his ass. He tugged him closer and Jimin’s knees spread on instinct, pink cock hanging limply between them. Taehyung took hold of it as their lips reconnected, twisting his hand as he stroked it towards the base before moving back up to pinch the tip making Jimin squeal against his tongue.

 

“C-can we fuck without all the hardcore stuff today?” Jimin mumbled, fidgeting as Taehyung’s grip on his cock became near uncomfortable. “And no edging, degradation – any of that – just fuck me, in every position you can think of. I want to keep coming, so don’t let me stop.”

 

His cheeks were burning hot to the touch, his eyes feverish with lust. Taehyung thought of it as a switch; once flipped, it turned Jimin from a taciturn individual with sweater-paws, into a drooling nymphomaniac. Taehyung identified with that flipped switch; it was similar to his own.

 

He grabbed him by the ankles and flipped him onto the mattress on his back, eliciting a delighted scream from Jimin. The other ran his hands down the back of his thighs, spreading his legs wide in a V. His fingers gripped his ass cheeks, pulling them apart for Taehyung. His eyes said fuck me, tongue sliding wetly across his smirking lips. Taehyung stroked the puckered hole, watching the tightly packed muscles flutter. He spat on it and the white fluid met its mark, sliding inside.

 

“Christ…” Jimin moaned under his breath, “Don’t tease me…”

 

“Why not?” Taehyung said, leaning down until his elbows were on the bed, feet still planted on the floor. “You teased me when I was in your position.”

 

“I’m sorry, I won’t do it again, just don’t tease me…I need you so fucking much – “

 

Taehyung blew on his hole, and Jimin’s voice lowered a pitch or two as he groaned.

 

“You’re such a little whore – “

 

“I thought I said no degradation – “

 

“I’m sorry, does it look like I give a fuck what you want?”

 

“Please?” Jimin reached out, cupping Taehyung’s chin in his hand. “I want to try – um – the endearment kink!”

 

“The fuck is that?”

 

Jimin seemed to have made it up on the spot. They both knew the kink didn’t exist. But Taehyung allowed himself to be humoured with an explanation.

 

“Endearment,” Jimin said breathlessly. “C-call me affectionate things – like ‘baby’ or ‘darling’ or ‘sweetheart’ or….” He hesitated, cheeks turning bright pink. “…princess.”

 

Taehyung’s upper lip curled. He grabbed a handful of Jimin’s thigh and squeezed, watching the boy shiver.

 

“You just wanna be called ‘princess’ don’t you? The other words are just for decoration,” he said.

 

When Jimin didn’t answer, just got that petulant look that made Taehyung want to kiss his lips raw, he got back to spreading his legs again. His tongue tracked a wet stripe of saliva over the underside of Jimin’s ball sac, hearing him mewl with pleasure above him. He buried his mouth against the textured skin, nose bumping the bottom of Jimin’s cock as one finger began its slow push into his ass. Taehyung couldn’t tear his eyes away from him, face buried in his crotch and his finger knuckle deep in his heat. Jimin clawed the sheets as Taehyung milked his prostate, keeping the pressure on it intense and steady. It took him about a minute and a half to come, during which his cock became erect and then returned to being flaccid, his balls hot and tight against the curve of Taehyung’s lips.

 

“Do you want another finger, princess?” Taehyung smirked, once Jimin had caught his breath somewhat.

 

It whooshed out of him as soon as he said the word and Taehyung repressed the urge to laugh. Jimin nodded, gorgeous brown eyes misty with pleasure as he looked down. Taehyung lifted his head and kissed the inside of his thigh before doing as he said. The second orgasm was more intense, with added pressure. The third finger had him screaming for god. The fourth finger induced an orgasm so strong, there was no sound. Just gargled gasps whenever his lungs were able to draw breath.  Taehyung had barely used any lube on his fingers, but the pain of the growing friction only seemed to get him off harder.

 

There were tears leaking down his face when Taehyung crawled back up the length of his body. Jimin grabbed at him, sobbing as he kissed him, toned legs gripping Taehyung’s waist like a vice.

 

“Does the princess want to be fucked?” Taehyung was still mocking him with that, but it didn’t seem to bother Jimin. He just nodded, his vocabulary reduced to a handful of monosyllabic words, those that would get Taehyung to do what he wanted. Everything else was communicated by physical gestures.

 

Taehyung loathed missionary. It was his least favourite position. But the sting of it was reduced somewhat when he fucked Jimin. It was the only way to see every inch of his cherubic face as it fluttered through several emotions before finally, twisting up in a look of utter helplessness as he climaxed.

 

Taehyung didn’t know at what point he started seeing Hoseok’s face instead.

 

Whether it was on Jimin’s sixth orgasm, or his third. But he knew exactly when it happened, because he accidentally yanked at the hair on the younger man’s scalp, making him screech in surprise. Taehyung muttered an apology and let go, his vision hazing until it was back to Jimin’s face. But it was a lot harder to keep his brain from playing tricks when Jimin was on top.

 

The more he looked like Hoseok, the harder Taehyung’s fingers pressed against the dimples in his lower back. Until finally he had had enough and flipped him onto his hands and knees for the last round, pressing his head into the pillow to muffle his screams.

 

That way, he didn’t have to see either of their faces.

 

 

*

 

Jimin never fell asleep.

 

He pretended to, for the sake of show, before he felt Taehyung’s arms wrap around him and his breathing level out. They had ended up in a spooned position, facing each other, with Jimin’s chin tucked on Taehyung’s hair. The Skull-Crusher’s arms were vice-like around his waist, but that wasn’t new. It was comforting now. Jimin could still remember the first time Taehyung had slung his leg and arm over him, as if he were his own human-sized plush toy, and how Jimin had wanted to run screaming. But with Yoongi on his other side, he had had nowhere to run on that stupid yacht.

 

Now, he softly traced a circle on the back of Taehyung’s head and pressed his mouth against his hair, inhaling deep. He smelt of musk and sweat and citrus. Jimin shivered as he felt Taehyung’s mouth press against his collarbone. A reflexive movement. But how easily the curve of his lips settled into the curve of the bone.

 

The warmth couldn’t last.

 

Jimin reached back slowly, reaching for his jacket where it still hung on the bedpost. His fingers nimbly wove their way into the pocket, finding what he was looking for. A plastic baggie. Inside, was a singular cotton bud. He slipped it out and then leaned back, gazing at Taehyung’s face and wondering how he was going to do this.

 

It was quite easy. Taehyung’s mouth was hanging open slightly. All Jimin had to do was slip the bud into the corner of his mouth, just a brief dab. It came out soaked, just as Taehyung stirred, grunting under his breath. Jimin froze, waited until he was still again before slipping the bud back into the bag.

 

Taehyung let him go, turning over and finally leaving Jimin free and unrestrained on the mattress. Suddenly, Jimin was no longer tired. He slid off the bed, ensuring Taehyung remained asleep through it. He had become very skilled at knowing exactly how to step to keep the man unconscious. He was such a light sleeper the task required ninja level talent.

 

By some miracle, he managed to leave the room after getting dressed, without making a single sound over 10 decibels. Outside in the corridor, he slumped against the wall, sliding down it before pulling out his phone.

 

“I got it,” he said, once the call connected. “What did you want with it?”

 

“Don’t worry your pretty head about it. Your loyalty will be rewarded, Jimin.”

 

Jimin. Always Jimin. His name. No term of endearment outside of the bedroom. Just plain Jimin. Such a difference to how he purred darling to Taehyung. It wasn’t hard to understand; Taehyung was endearing, in the way a pitbull was, all curled up in its doggy bed, muzzle dappled with blood from a squirrel it had savaged in the backyard. Jimin was no longer jealous of the difference. Just curious, as to why Yoongi held him at arm’s length, despite everything.

 

“Did you find out who killed the Trio?” Yoongi continued, and Jimin heard the clink of ice in a whiskey glass.

 

“Yes,” Jimin said. He had thought about it for a while, and there was no use hiding it now. Not considering the amount of power about to be handed to Jungkook. “Jeon Jungkook. Mother’s charge. He may be taking over Yongsan-gu soon, now that Mother got Taehyung to get rid of Soo. But I think until then, she’s distracting him. Told him to find someone called Kim Bong Ju.”

 

There was a short silence, during which Jimin stared at the motel room door, expecting Taehyung to burst out of it at any minute. He could even imagine him standing on the other side of the spy glass, watching him. The only comfort he felt about deceiving him was that Taehyung would now hesitate before killing or harming him. That moment of hesitation was months in the making, but it was here at all. Taehyung hesitated to kill no one if he had made up his mind, but Jimin was sure his finger would pause on the trigger if he was on the receiving end.

 

“He found out about my parents.”

 

Jimin really didn’t need to tell Yoongi that. He knew what would happen in the kingpin’s ever-churning mind once he did. His trust for Taehyung would weaken even further. But it was security. Better he, than I. After all, Taehyung’s trigger finger would not hesitate forever.

 

Yoongi himself had gotten it out of Jimin before he left for Seoul. He wasn’t an ordinary man. Jimin remembered thinking that when Yoongi had held him back on the yacht, as Taehyung was already getting back on the dock. His powers of deduction were next to none.

 

“You’re terrified,” he said quietly, hand on Jimin’s arm. “Tell me why.”

 

“You’re sending me to Seoul with him. Of course, I’m terrified, sir,” Jimin played it off.

 

“Don’t play games. We both know he’s not the one you’re scared of. You can handle him. This is something else I see in your eyes. A deep-rooted fear.” He paused, to let the point sink in. “This is your one and only chance to tell me what’s on your mind, Park Jimin. You’ll be thankful that you did.”

 

Yoongi’s reaction to the truth of his parentage was nothing shy of indifferent. He nodded, as if it didn’t matter. It probably didn’t. Jimin was dead in the eyes of the world. Christian Park was dead. His inheritance was gone. His parents were gone. His home had been burnt down. He was of no use to anyone.

 

“I want to take revenge on the person who killed them.”

 

And Yoongi took that to mean Mother. For she was the next of kin to the man who had ordered their execution. And then he had praised Jimin for not telling anyone, including Taehyung. He had praised him for holding his cards to his chest, even those that others might deem insignificant. The phone call to ask about his background was for Taehyung’s benefit, to make him believe Yoongi’s did not trust Jimin, that Taehyung truly was his only player in the field. To an extent, it worked.

 

“He won’t tell a soul,” Yoongi said after some length of time elapsed. “As long as you keep him onside. Mother is growing on him. If all it takes is a good fuck to keep his lips sealed, fuck his brains out. Otherwise, he tells her, and she kills you as brutally as her father killed your parents.”

 

“You don’t need to tell me what happens if she finds out,” Jimin muttered. “Sodding bitch wears my mom’s necklace everywhere. I’m not a threat to her, but she’d kill me, just for daring to be alive.”

 

“I don’t doubt it. After all, one of her father’s men went against his orders and replaced you with another boy, throwing you in an alleyway somewhere. And why he did that, fuck knows. I think she’ll torture you. And you know exactly who she’s going to assign that task to.”

 

Jimin prodded the inside of his cheek with his tongue and scoffed. He had forgotten how hard Taehyung’s beatings came down. The warmer, softer grip of his hands all over Jimin’s taut, arching body in recent months, was enough to make him forget.

 

“Why do you want the DNA swab?” he asked, knowing what the answer would be.

 

“I have my reasons. Mail it in the morning. And Jimin?”

 

“Yes, sir?”

 

“Try not to die any time soon. It would throw such a wrench in my plans.”

 

Click.

 

Jimin burst out laughing. He didn’t need to look in a mirror to know the reflection in his eyes was exhaustingly dead. Hauling himself to his feet, he opened the door and went back inside, slipping the battery out of the burner and sliding it under the rug by the door.

 

Taehyung was awake on the bed, head twisting around when Jimin walked into the room. He didn’t ask where he’d been. Jimin crawled into the bed and told him anyway.

 

“I thought I saw a vending machine downstairs when we came in. Apparently not,” he mumbled, getting under the sheets.

 

Taehyung still said nothing, pulling his arms under the sheets as he turned to face Jimin. The younger kept his eyes closed for a whole minute, but when he opened them again, Taehyung’s were still on him. He curled up closer to him, hand sliding over his naked, warm skin and pressing into the small of his back.

 

“What is it?” Taehyung whispered, as Jimin’s lips kissed his chin.

 

“Nothing. Just silly fears that creep into my mind every so often,” Jimin whispered back.

 

“Like what?”

 

“I don’t want to die like my mother did, facing terrible pain at the start of her life, and ending it in a gilded cage.”

 

Taehyung’s hand came around to the back of his head, stroking the soft hair falling from his scalp to the pillow.

 

“You don’t have to die at all if you don’t want to,” Taehyung murmured.

 

Jimin laughed, but when he glanced up, he saw Taehyung’s mouth was still stern, turned downwards.

 

“Well, you won’t miss me at least,” he said softly.

 

“Maybe. Maybe not.”

 

Jimin leaned his head up, a cheeky grin spreading on his face. “You will.”

 

Taehyung said nothing, his eyes still impassive, but he pulled Jimin closer, until their legs were tangled together. Jimin lowered his head against the crook of Taehyung’s neck, his smile fading. By the time he felt sleep take him, Taehyung’s breathing still hadn’t levelled out.

 

 

It messes me up that Jimin didn’t even know it was Taehyung’s birthday. :(((

 

 

 

Chapter Text

   

 

This is a fun but sloppy chapter, I’m sorry :(((

 

p.s. Here's a thread of art that I made for JoB. It more represents the vibe the characters give than literal representations but it’s super fun so check it out! ^^ Happy reading my darlings xxx

 

https://twitter.com/vmintie/status/1080904326002995200

 

“Taehyung, pluck me that flower.”

 

“This one?”

 

“No, that one.”

 

“This one?”

 

“It’s right there, Taehyung.”

 

“I’m looking at a flower bed, boss, there’s flowers everywhere. Which one in particular did you want?”

 

Mother paused, lowering her parasol just a little as she glared at Taehyung. As quickly as the clouds cast over her expression, they cleared, and she smirked as if she were pleased somehow. Taehyung still stood crouched by the flowerbed, one leather glove off as he waited.

 

“You are controlled. You ask which one. Because not any will do. I like that. But what I don’t like, is that you don’t just…know,” Mother said, tilting her head.

 

Well, they weren’t talking about flowers anymore.

 

Taehyung turned his head back to scowl at the sea of tulips, anemones and roses. The whole structure was artificial, the flower bed based in a gigantic basin lining the sides of a greenhouse that was more of a crystal menagerie with plants. Taehyung reached out and plucked the rose, standing up and handing it to Mother.

 

“It’s not the one I wanted,” she said.

 

“Well, that’s what happens when you don’t specify. After all, I’m just the servant. You’re the leader. I’m not your bosom companion, so it most certainly isn’t on me to make assumptions about what you want…sajangnim.”

 

The last word was attached to the end carefully, as if ensuring Taehyung’s toneless words remained respectful, if not what she wanted to hear. Mother showed no reaction. She twirled the rose in her hand and then carefully tucked it in Taehyung’s hair. Inwardly, he groaned, knowing the men standing around at safe distances would be sure to harangue him about it later. None would be so stupid as to call him ‘pretty boy’ now, but the rose wasn’t helping anything.

 

She didn’t say anything for the rest of their little walk through the greenhouse, Rani walking up ahead, her striped tail flicking back and forth. Mother’s dogs had leashes, and her tiger didn’t. The logic was insane enough to make sense. Taehyung presumed the flower conversation would come back to bite him in the ass.  No doubt, she meant for him to kill someone else, but Taehyung couldn’t think who. He had taken care of the entire list she’d given him in a blood-soaked fortnight.

 

“Boss. Kwon Byung Chul on the line.” One of her men in black addressed her tersely as she approached the back door into the dining room.

 

Mother nodded, waving him away before allowing Rani to pass through the glass sliding doors. Taehyung came to a stop, but a quick crook of her finger and he hurried to follow once more. She led him around with more persistence than Yoongi ever had.

 

Kwon Byung Chul was a well-known political figure in Gangnam, with a very itchy reputation. He had his fingers in several pies, a restless busy-body son of a bitch who had a superiority complex. His sheer tenacity was enough to suggest he would one day find himself at top of the Blue House hierarchy, but for now, he thrived on spreading his political influence with Mother’s shadowed hand at his back. She did not dabble with politicians as a given, and neither had her father. Taking sides in politics was not in the mafia’s best interest, but for Kwon, she’d made an exception. The man was so slimy, he was practically one of her thugs, but with better diction.

 

Taehyung mentally ran through the information on Kwon Byung Chul with such swiftness, it surprised him. Jimin’s nightly ritual of going through the folders he collected out loud was coming in handy. Taehyung made a silent note to thank him. Perhaps a bottle of wine worth six thousand dollars, just one of the many littered all over Mother’s house, or a baggie of the finely crushed cocaine Geomjeong-pa was famous for. If nothing else, Jimin was hooked on coke, though he would never admit it.

 

Mother sat behind her desk, coolly addressing the stocky Mr Kwon on the video call. Taehyung heard something about KG Entertainment and “unpaid dues” before his entire body froze over.

 

The tiger had gotten up from her bed in the corner and was stalking towards him, slow and steady. He knew enough about Rani’s behaviour to know a chuff from her was welcoming, and she did it whenever she licked Mother’s hand. But she was deadly silent now, blue eyes glued to Taehyung’s face. He would have felt more comfortable if she’d licked her lips because at least then, he would know what she wanted.

 

Taehyung glanced up at her owner, and saw Mother watching them both. She didn’t make a single move to call Rani back, and instead, continued speaking to Kwon. Taehyung wasn’t moving a muscle, but his heart was pounding like a freight train, getting faster as Rani’s fur brushed his hand. She was sniffing him.

 

His gun was in his breast pocket. The tiger was behind him. The moment he reached for it, she would start, surprised by the sudden movement and that would be enough time to shoot her in the head. Because he would kill the fucking thing right in front of its owner the moment it tried to take a bite out of him. He liked furry animals, but not ones that towered over him on their hind legs.

 

And then, Rani chuffed.

 

Taehyung let out the breath he was holding as he felt her friendly tongue warm his hand. Fuck. She chuffed some more, sniffing his pants leg before ambling back over to her bed. That has to be the biggest pussy of a wildcat ever. And the stupid thing was fat too.

 

“Taehyung you look like you’ve swallowed a lemon. Everything alright?” Mother asked, turning off the video call.

 

“Yep,” Taehyung muttered, wiping his hand on his jacket pocket. “Kwon Byung Chul had a lot to say.”

 

“He did. He’s angry. And rightly so. He’s also the reason you’ll have something to do in the next few days. Oh, and one more thing – now that you’ve so successfully torn your way through the list I gave you, it’s time for a little reward.” Mother reached into her desk, her ruby ring glinting as she pulled out two sets of keys. She slid them across the desk. “One key is for an apartment in the Signiel Residence. The other is a key to a safe. I’m paying you for your services in gold bars. Your loyalty was worth it.”

 

Taehyung bowed his head, as he accepted the keys. The Signiel Residence encompassed the 42nd to 71st floors of the Lotte Tower and he fucking hated heights.  

 

“You know, I remember watching some shitty American gangster movie – Jungkook loves them, though I am baffled as to why – and one particularly mundane line caught me.” Mother sat back in her chair, fingers twiddling with her ring. She was watching Taehyung turn over the sleek set of keys in his hand as one might watch a child play with a new toy. “It said something about the five boroughs of New York, one for each finger, clenching to make a fist that was undefeatable. Or something to that effect, anyway. But it got me thinking and I realised, Geomjeong-pa doesn’t have a fist. At best, it has two and a half fingers and who ever caused damage with those?”

 

Taehyung pocketed the keys. “There are twenty-five districts in Seoul. Never heard of a hand with twenty-five fingers.”

 

Mother scoffed. “Your sense of humour is sparkling, as ever. No, but the five I want are not within my control, not all of them. What do we have? We have Gangnam-gu, Yongsan-gu, bits of Mapo-gu. Jung-gu and Songpa-gu are out of our control. My father had them all until the Parks began to sell out real estate to rival gangs on the last two.”

 

“And that’s why he had them killed, huh? Them and their thirteen year old kid?”

 

“Loose ends are a dangerous factor in our business, but you aren’t a kiddie-killer so of course, what would you know? I bet you would have spared the Park child.”

 

Taehyung shrugged. If I had foresight and could see what sort of looks he’d grow up into, definitely.

 

Mother slapped the surface of the desk and huffed. “My entire reign will be a mess of trying to undo the damage the Parks did and ensuring Jungkook receives Geomjeong-pa as a whole, and not in demented factions.”

 

“So, he is your heir?”

 

“Well, my would-be heir died as a toddler, so I don’t have any other candidate in mind. Do you?”

 

Taehyung shook his head, though his dark eyes remained pensive as they roved over her face. “You never told me what happened to them.”

 

“To whom?” Mother’s face was as passive as his.

 

“Your family. You weren’t the kingpin yet. There was no reason for someone to kill your wife and baby unless you’d done something to someone very powerful. And your father was the only power player in town.”

 

She smiled, a dry, tired expression. “He was. And my baby boy was killed. He was murdered by his mother, just before she killed herself. A last ‘fuck you’ of sorts to me. She was a beauty queen, unused to the violence and savagery of our world, and she didn’t want her son to grow up as the next kingpin. So, she shot him in the head at point blank range whilst he played with the toys I got him for Christmas.”

 

Taehyung’s eyebrows shot up. He had not heard that version of the story before. “I’m sorry,” he said simply. Sorry for asking, that was. This was not good. Humanizing his boss never worked out well. Yoongi was proof.

 

“Kwon Byung Chul called for a reason.” Mother’s voice hardened, cutting through the misty afternoon haze created by unwilling memories. “An entertainment agency CEO refused to pay up on their protection money on New Year’s day and ended up paying a sixth of the amount. They also voted out Kwon as one of their major shareholders. KG Entertainment is based in Mapo-gu, a district we’re struggling to remain in control of. This isn’t about the money, it’s – “

 

“-about respect,” Taehyung finished. “I got it. You want him taught a lesson.”

 

“Not just any lesson. Your kind of lesson,” Mother said, a smile curling at the corners of her lips. Lotte Hotel, Room 686. Tomorrow. Don’t disappoint. And take Jungkook. He needs a crash course in the correct way to avenge Geomjeong-pa’s lost assets.”

 

Lotte Hotel, Room 686.

 

The next evening, Taehyung sat in the driver’s seat of a brand new Jaguar XJ, dressed in a coat that was fitted like he was born in it. Gloves covered his hands, reflective shades hid his eyes and his hair was swept back, tied into a bun at the back of his head. This was exactly what he used to picture as a teenager, all the bling and glitz that came with being a professional mobster. He looked good in it. It made him wonder why he used to keep his hair messy and falling into his eyes all this time, wearing scruffy suits and leather jackets with scuffed Doc Martens.

 

Because Yoongi liked it.

 

Perhaps Mother was the best option after all. It wasn’t betrayal if Yoongi betrayed him first. Taking Jimin from him was a betrayal, and nothing would ever make Taehyung think differently. It was proof of Yoongi’s waning trust. He was done with trying to figure out what was going on inside his enigmatic lover’s head and god, was it freeing.

 

The back door opened, and Taehyung twisted around, lowering his glasses to see Namjoon get in. The passenger door opened immediately after and Jungkook slid into the seat beside him.

 

“Is that your little pet now? Why is he here?” Taehyung said gruffly.

 

Jungkook turned to look at him with an expression that clearly said he had been the golden prince of Geomjeong-pa so long, that such a tone of voice was only allowed from Mother’s lips. But he backed down after a few seconds, settling into his seat with a pout.

 

“He’s my friend,” Jungkook answered. “I wanted him to come.”

 

Taehyung barked with laughter, pulling down the mirror to catch Namjoon’s pale reflection in the back. “Oh yeah, I bet he is. A ‘friend’.”

 

“Drive,” Jungkook said.

 

Taehyung was still chuckling as he pulled away from the kerb. Some of this shit couldn’t be made up. Mother had named her heir, who had made friends with an undercover cop. Incredibly entertaining stuff. Though it was never specified what sort of enemies Mother fed to Cersei, undercover policemen probably fell into the category.

 

“If you’re going to be my enforcer when I take over Yongsan-gu, why do I have to follow you around like a puppy dog? Shouldn’t that be your job?” Jungkook sniped.

 

Taehyung suppressed a sigh as he overtook a car trundling along on the carriageway. He’d forgotten how annoying kids were.

 

“If you’ve got a problem with it, talk to the boss,” he grunted. When he received no response, he added, “Yeah, I thought so.”

 

That irritated Jungkook no end. “Watch your tone. You’re still only one of her men. We’re not on the same level.”

 

“Are we not, Master Jeon?” Taehyung drawled, one hand on the wheel as he sat back looking thoroughly bored. “I only take orders from Mother, so again, if you have a problem – “

 

“Stop hiding behind Seokjin hyung’s petticoats and act like a man!” Jungkook barked.

 

Taehyung’s arm lashed out, faster than the business end of a whip and connected with the back of Jungkook’s head. The boy went flying forward, his face hitting the dashboard with a thud. When he lifted it back, there was blood smeared on the grey, some of it staining his upper lip, trickling from his nose.

 

Taehyung didn’t feel the cold metal of the blade pressed to the back of his head until he saw Namjoon’s face was closer in the mirror. The cop was playing his part as a loyal friend well.

 

“Put that away before you hurt yourself,” Taehyung spat, smacking the knife away. “And you – “ he grabbed Jungkook’s chin and pressed him back against his seat whilst at the same time making a dangerous U-turn back towards the Lotte Hotel building “ – next time, I’ll break your pretty nose for real. If you fuck this up in any way, I’m throwing you into traffic. Understood?”

 

Jungkook refused to nod, his chest heaving and his eyes blackened with rage. But he didn’t need to. The alpha of the group was already determined.

 

There were guards against every pillar of the golden interior of the hotel lobby. The sight of three suited and booted men set off an alarm bell in the heads of the staff, naturally. But no sooner had the first guard begun to approach, Taehyung pulled out a key card and waved it in his face as he breezed past. The card was fake. It wouldn’t get them into any rooms, but it got them past the scowling faces of the men who knew they were up to no good. Taehyung knew just how to walk to keep attention away from the holster hidden under his coat. Jungkook did not. It was obvious he had only recently been allowed to carry a gun and he kept awkwardly positioning his arm by his side in an attempt to keep the holster from showing through.

 

“There,” Taehyung said, nodding towards a female staff member wheeling along a housekeeping trolley. They followed her into the elevator, which was roomy enough for it not to be a tight squeeze. Namjoon and Jungkook stood by the doors, whilst Taehyung made himself comfortable beside her.

 

It was a superficial fact that had he been any older, or uglier, she would have instantly had the correct reaction and tried to move away. But when he lowered his glasses and smiled at her, a soft pink crept through her cheeks and she had to struggle not to smile back as she looked away, eyelashes fluttering prettily. It took her a whole minute to realise there was something digging into her side. She looked down.

 

“Sssh,” Taehyung hushed her, as her eyes and mouth widened at the sight of the gun sticking out from his coat. “Jungkook. 99th floor please.”

 

“I-I’m going to the sixtieth floor, sir, I –“ the girl began to cry. She was no more than twenty-five, and worn out from a long day’s work.

 

“If you’re quiet, and don’t tell anyone about seeing the three of us anywhere near the 99th floor, I’m going to give you a reward. You can leave this shitty job. Find a new one. Have fun.” Taehyung’s voice was jovial, attempting to set her at ease despite the gun in her back.

 

He heard a stifled coff and his smile faded as his eyes swivelled back to the two in front. Through the reflection in the doors, he saw Namjoon look away quickly.

 

“Find something funny, officer?” he said sharply.

 

Namjoon’s face drained of all colour. Jungkook turned to look at him and then Taehyung.

 

“Never mind him, love, he’s the joke police. As in, he can’t take one,” Taehyung said to the woman.

 

Namjoon was no longer smiling, or moving. The doors opened after what felt like a century and the two men walked ahead, leaving Taehyung and the woman to slowly make their way down the corridor. It was deserted, luckily for them. He was sticking far too close to her for it to appear normal to anyone passing by.

 

Room 686 was halfway down and Taehyung whispered for her to stand directly in front of the spyglass. Namjoon and Jungkook stood out of sight on the other end, and Taehyung took the left, gun still aimed at her head.

 

“I believe you’re supposed to say ‘housekeeping’,” he supplied helpfully.

 

“W-what will you do to them?” the woman asked.

 

Taehyung sighed, reached into his pocket, and pulled out a wad of notes, dumping them on the second shelf of her trolley.

 

“Any more questions?” he said.

 

She gulped and took a deep breath. “H-house – “ she stopped as her voice was too weak. The second time, it came out loud and strong. “Housekeeping!”

 

A soft squeal was heard from inside and then the laugh of a male. Footsteps hurried to the door and it fell open. Jungkook reached out to keep it open as the woman squealed and tried to retreat with the trolley. Namjoon put his finger to his lips to remind her to stay silent.

 

The CEO’s son was in the hotel room with KG Entertainment’s most lucrative female idol. And it was clear he had no idea of the extent his father’s company was in debt to the mafia, otherwise the sight of tattooed, armed men would have had him looking a little less surprised. As it was, he began to yell for help.

 

Taehyung walked forward, grabbed his head between his hands and smashed his skull against the young man’s. He sank to the ground, unconscious. By the time his companion turned up to see what the fuss was and started screaming, the door was closed, and all three of them were inside.

 

“Hello, darling,” Taehyung beamed, barely heard over the sound of her terrified yells for them to get out. Somewhere in there, she threw in a ‘Do you know who I am?’ to which he tartly responded, “Of course I do. I used to jack off to pictures of you in high school. A man never forgets his first wank. Jungkook, tie Yang Jae Sun up. Namjoon, man the door.”

 

The cop looked almost relieved not to be near the action.

 

“W-what are you going to do to him?” Jang Mi stammered, crawling over to the far side of the bed, as far away as possible to Taehyung. She was dressed only in her lingerie, with a hastily thrown on sheer robe to top it. And she looked terrified out of her mind. Even without the threat of violence, the idea of being caught with the son of her own company’s CEO was more than enough media fodder to ruin her career.

 

“Boyfriend?” Taehyung gestured at Jae Sun.

 

Jang Mi shook her head, trembling like a leaf. Taehyung sat down on the edge of the bed and gave her a kind smile.

 

“Well, I’m going to need you to be quiet. No matter how much blood splatter there is, or how he screams, as long as you just sit still right there, like a good girl, you won’t be harmed. I promise. Understood?”

 

She gasped, hyperventilating, as her lips stuttered out something incoherent. Taehyung got up and went to close the window doors, locking them.

 

“You’re KG’s highest-earning asset. You need to make sure you’re still in pristine condition when you walk out of here,” Jungkook said to her.

 

“B-b-but what has Jae Sun oppa done?” she sobbed.

 

Her question went unanswered as he picked up Jae Sun’s phone and reached down to put the unconscious man’s thumb print against the screen to unlock it. He tapped on ‘Dad’ and then turned on the camera, setting the phone up in landscape mode on the dresser. It took about a minute for Yang Jae Min to pick up.

 

“Son, what is it?” he said in exasperation.

 

Taehyung bent down, grin stretching from ear to ear as he peered into the lens. “It takes you a minute to respond to your son? Almost makes me think this blackmail isn’t going to work. How’s things, Mr Yang?”

 

“Who the fuck are you? Why do you have my son’s phone?” CEO Yang’s voice got progressively louder as he lifted his phone higher to look at the screen.

 

“I’m going to need you to stay quiet, and not call the cops, or anyone outside of your office. If you do, both Jae Sun  and Jang Mi die. Right now, they’re both alive. See?” he leaned back to allow Mr Yang a better view.

 

“W-what do you mean ‘Jang Mi’? I thought your argument was with him, why me?” she wailed from her position on the bed.

 

“So, he’s not the love of her life,” Jungkook snorted, and Taehyung allowed himself a brief chuckle, before his face became serious again.

 

“You have two hours to hand over the money you owe to Mother, with interest, or your son dies. Good luck, Mr Yang,” Taehyung said.

 

“Fuck you – “

 

“The two hours is a rough timeframe, but it would be in your son’s best interest that you get the money through quicker. Because right now, he’s locked in a hotel room with an extremely violent sociopath who gets bored quite easily.”

 

It didn’t take Mr Yang long to understand that this situation was of a whole new calibre. By the look on his face, it was clear he had never experienced anything like it before. He nodded, hands shaking as he tried to collect himself.

 

“I-I can try, but unfortunately, the company is close to being broke. I couldn’t pay from my own pocket even if I wanted to.”

 

“I didn’t say from your own pocket. I said money. Get Mother her money or your brat dies, you stupid old man.” Taehyung hit the ‘end call’ button and turned to the others as if to an audience, his arms out in a flourish. “Right then! Let’s find ways to pass the time.”

 

Jungkook looked at the man lying beside him on the floor, his eyes wide and a little baffled. Taehyung removed his coat and from the breast pocket, pulled out a thin leather folder. Flipping it open on the desk revealed a set of freshly sharpened scalpels.

 

“Do you know what frightens people the most? Beyond the mere sight of violence?” he asked Jungkook.

 

Jungkook gave a shrug with one shoulder, like a sullen school boy in class.

 

“Anything that doesn’t immediately make sense. I had a friend once who painted pentagrams on the wall in his victim’s blood, just to see the headlines that it would create. Granted he was in the Bible Belt of America, so prime breeding ground for such a reaction. But I think we could get some fabulous headlines here too. A prominent female idol and an entertainment chaebol? Pentagrams on the wall and they won’t shut up about it.”

 

The room had fallen deathly quiet, devoid even of Jang Mi’s suppressed sobs. She looked about ready to pass out now, completely paralysed. Namjoon was impassive, though Taehyung could only imagine what was going through his head. His eyes turned to Jungkook. The young man was staring up at him with eyes that were shining. He looked happy at last.

 

“I know Latin,” he said.

 

Taehyung threw back his head in delighted laughter.

 

*

 

Before he had gone undercover, Namjoon had been tested psychologically, physically, everything. He had been briefed on the horrors he would witness, the things he would hear, the sort of people he would meet. But he understood that even in their terrible actions, the mafia had reasons behind their violence. It was in their best interest to have a police force and a government, because operating underground was ideal for them. Thus, they had their limits.

 

But he was not told that he might end up in a room with an individual who functioned on laws of his own.

 

Jungkook was not a bad person. Namjoon still believed that with his whole heart. He was just surrounded by bad people. Taehyung was the worst of them, and it showed. Namjoon remained glued to the door, trying to ignore the smell of blood that was starting to slowly but surely suffocate the room. They were playing around with the unconscious Jae Sun, occasionally slapping him in the face with a shot of alcohol and forcing him to wake up. He would wake, screaming as the alcohol stung his open wounds, and then a fresh dig of the scalpel would have him fainting again. His pain tolerance was low.

 

Jang Mi was going insane on the bed. She wasn’t saying much, aside from gibberish, rocking back and forth with her knees huddled to her chest. Tears streaked her face and she looked nothing at all like the pretty, polished face on the billboards outside.

 

Jungkook’s crudely drawn pentagrams were now marking the wall. He couldn’t draw straight fucking lines. Or maybe it was because his hands were shaking with excitement as he did it. Taehyung would do the bloodletting, and Jungkook would draw. Between them, they were giggling like demented children of the Manson family.

 

It felt like he was in the Twilight Zone.

 

Time seemed to have stopped.

 

Every time he checked the watch, only a minute seemed to have passed, each one like an hour.

 

“Do you think you can cauterize wounds with cigarettes?” Jungkook said suddenly.

 

“Try it,” Taehyung snorted.

 

It was very obvious they couldn’t. It was a flesh wound in Jae Sun ’s bicep but it was most certainly too big for a cigarette. Jungkook lit one up anyway and as the man began to stir, pressed it against the raw, bloodied flesh. It didn’t get much of a reaction.

 

“He’s going into shock. We should probably bandage him up,” Jungkook muttered, getting to his feet and almost slipping on the bloodstained carpet.

 

“Don’t bother,” Taehyung said to him, before pulling a swiss army knife from his pocket. He bent down and dug the blade into Jae Sun ’s gut. A deep, hard swipe to the right, slitting his belly open.

 

Jang Mi stopped rocking.

 

“W-what did you do that for?” Jungkook said in horror. “His dad won’t give us the money – “

 

“Get him up into that chair and tie him up,” Taehyung ordered, not bothering to explain.

 

Namjoon’s knees were shaking, and he was struggling with himself not to let the bile in his throat come churning out. He didn’t believe in God, he never had, but the absence of anything holy in this room was starting to get to him. A terrible blackness crept over the edges of his mind and it was getting harder and harder to remain standing.

 

Jungkook got Jae Sun tied to a chair, wincing as some of the contents of his gut began to jut out from the wound. He propped him up, with his head lolling forward. From the chest up, he looked bloodied, but as if he were still just unconscious. Taehyung forced Jang Mi up and sat her in another chair beside him. It was when he went to call Mr Yang, that Namjoon realised the two hours were up.

 

“WHAT HAVE YOU – “ Mr Yang controlled himself just before his voice rose to its highest volume.  He began to pant, loosening his collar as he clutched at the side of his desk.

 

“Don’t go having a heart attack now, old man,” Taehyung said, sitting on the edge of the bed in full view, between the two in the chair. “Your son is alive. Just a little…tortured. I said he wouldn’t die, not that I wouldn’t hurt him.”

 

“I got you the fucking money, let them go!” Mr Yang spluttered, “Please, I had the money wired to Mother six minutes ago, for god’s sake, let them go!”

 

Taehyung held up a finger, and pulled out his own phone to call one of Mother’s secretaries and confirm the news. He put it away and nodded to Mr Yang.

 

“Alright. You coughed up the money. Thing is, Mr Yang, what will you do about the disrespect you put on the boss’s name, hm? That can’t just be repaid by financial means, you know. Respect is a man’s strongest armour.”

 

“Please, your boss is barely a man, with all his dresses and his hats,” Mr Yang spat. “Let my son go, or – “

 

“Or what? You’ll do what?” Taehyung snorted.

 

“You think I don’t have powerful contacts of my own? One call from me and you’ll have a target on your head, boy.

 

Namjoon prayed Mr Yang would stop talking, but the old man was apparently as foolish as he was headstrong.

 

“Jungkook, flip a coin,” Taehyung ordered. He rested a hand each on Jae Sun and Jang Mi’s heads. “What will it be, Mr Yang? Heads or tails?”

 

“What do you mean? What are you doing? I gave you the money, stop this!” Mr Yang exclaimed, “My boy’s lost blood, you fucking maniac, get him an ambulance!”

 

“He’s lost more than that.” Jungkook made a disgusted face as he glanced down at the intestines poking out from Jae Sun’s stomach gash.

 

“Heads…or tails, Mr Yang? What will it be? Your son, or the cash cow that makes your company most of its money?” Taehyung continued. “Ten…nine…”

 

“P-p-please don’t make me do this – “

 

“…eight…seven…”

 

“Mr Yang, Jae Sun is already – “ Jang Mi’s sudden shout was cut off by Taehyung’s hand slapping over her mouth. She struggled, the chair legs knocking against the ground, but

 

“…six…five…” Taehyung smiled at the camera, waiting.

 

“J-j-j-just – god – please – “ Mr Yang’s hands flailed, his forehead glistening with sweat.

 

“I think he’s signalling towards…her,” Jungkook said slowly, tilting his head to look.

 

“I’m not! Please just don’t – “

 

“…four…three…for fuck’s sake, it can’t be that hard of a decision!” Taehyung said, “choose the one that didn’t come out of your balls!”

 

The man’s eyes closed and there was no denying it this time. He was gesturing with his hand, towards the right. Jang Mi’s enraged screams grew louder and louder behind Taehyung’s palm. Jungkook crouched down, still covering the side of the coin that had landed face up on the back of his hand.

 

“Will it be tails, Mr Yang?” Taehyung said brightly.

 

“………………tails.

 

The whisper was barely choked out before Jungkook reached over to turn off the video call.

 

“Y-you’re not actually going to kill her, are you?” Namjoon said suddenly.

 

“You thought this was just about psychological torture?” Taehyung smirked, “Please. As if I’d stick around two hours just to fuck with his head by faking it.”

 

Jang Mi’s screaming was simply white noise by now, it was such a common sound in the room. Namjoon swayed, landing softly against the wall as the world began to spin. He heard Jungkook and Taehyung conversing as if from a great distance. This was what true impotence felt like.

 

“Funny, how almost every method of killing has a name, even something as simple as throwing someone out of a window. Defenestration. `And even funnier, that almost everything has a religious parallel if you squint hard enough. For example, Jezebel – “ Taehyung grabbed Jang Mi before her legs gave way and she sank to the ground in a dead faint, “ – was thrown out of a window. Patron saint of whores.”

 

He lifted Jang Mi up off the ground and threw her over his shoulder.

 

“Holy shit,” Jungkook murmured.

 

Taehyung kicked open the windows, and walked out onto the balcony. Jang Mi was still unconscious and unaware of what was about to happen. A small mercy. It took her forever to fall and hit the car roof ninety-nine floors below. The crash was thunderous, followed by a cacophony of car alarms and screaming.

 

“That should be one for the papers,” Taehyung muttered.

 

Their departure from the hotel was relatively as easy as their entry. The chaos exploding everywhere allowed for it to be. Jungkook practically had hearts dancing in his eyes as he hurried to keep up with Taehyung who strode ahead and Namjoon just tried to keep up, careful not to fall behind.

 

Now that the fresh air was clearing his mind, he realised certain truths.

 

None of it had been necessary and Taehyung was fully aware of the fact, ruling out possible mental illness. KG Entertainment was just a music label. But it was the ‘just’ that did it. If a CEO of such low calibre could think to defy Geomjeong-pa, then their far bigger business partners would have no reason to hold it in esteem. Its name was devalued. If gangs had representative stocks, Taehyung had just sent the stocks crashing through the roof.

 

News would spread of how what had happened to Mr Yang’s son and Jang Mi. It displayed the sort of brazenness that demanded respect. Mr Yang’s lack of funds was not public knowledge. For all anyone knew, Mother had cut down an agency in its prime, simply for disobedience. From a business point of view, Mother had gained a priceless jewel in Kim Taehyung.

 

Namjoon did not even want to consider the moral implications of all of this. Or the legal ones. He would have to report back to the sergeant about his involvement, even if it was something as passive as standing by the door to keep watch.

 

But it was Jungkook that worried him the most. How easily he had taken to the violence, like a fish to water. He hadn’t looked at all squeamish which suggested he had done this before. Namjoon couldn’t even begin to imagine what that meant.

 

“Wanna come back to my place for a drink? Your cousin lives with me, you know. You can meet him,” Jungkook said in the car, all chirpy and cheery like a well-fed baby bird.

 

“I know,” Taehyung said. Then, with a scoff, added, “Eh, why not. Could do with seeing my dongsaeng again.”

 

What a happy little family they were starting to become, Namjoon couldn’t help thinking bitterly. He wanted this nightmare to end. At this point, he was happy to go back to being a beat cop for the rest of his life. Anything but having to look at Taehyung’s blood-splattered grin a second longer.

 

The Jaguar pulled smoothly into the driveway of Jungkook’s condo, and the youngest of the three hopped out as soon as it came to a stop. Namjoon was slower on the mark. By the time he opened his door, Jungkook was already halfway up to the front doors, giving Taehyung the perfect opportunity to accost Namjoon.

 

“How you holding up there, tiger?’ he said, a sly glint in his eye.

 

“Pretty good. Nothing I haven’t seen before,” Namjoon muttered.

 

“Uh huh. Uh huh. Okay, well…” Taehyung trailed off, hesitated, and then laughed quietly. “How are your parents?”

 

Namjoon stilled, eyes darkening. “What?”

 

“Yeah, you know…your parents. You’ve got such a dangerous job, surely they can’t be happy with it. And what was your sister’s name again? Kyung Min? Ah yes, Kim Kyung Min. Seoul University, right?”

 

He does know.

 

Taehyung leaned against the side of the car, hand curled up and resting on his head. He was perfectly at ease, whereas Namjoon’s hands were shaking by his sides.

 

“How?” Namjoon choked out.

 

“Jimin didn’t tell me, if that’s what you think,” Taehyung said. “You cops think your system is far-reaching and invincible. But the fact is, you’ve come here to find out who killed the Trio but have no real idea of the messed up web you’ve tangled yourself into. I’ll tell you who killed the Trio. The little boy who ran up to the house moments ago.”

 

Namjoon said nothing.

 

“What’s that I see on your face? Relief?” Taehyung tilted his head and squinted. “You think your mission is over? I’m afraid not, baby.” He reached out to pat Namjoon’s shoulder, squeezing a little. “You stay. Until I tell you that you can return and give an exhaustive report to your sergeant. And that report is going to have exactly what I want written in it, and the person you end up putting in jail, is the one I’ll lead you to. So, I hope you’re prepared to stick around, baby-face. Still plenty of time to get jaded. You looked like you were being fucked by a ghost back in that room.”

 

“Why don’t you tell Mother right now? Get it over with,” Namjoon said through clenched teeth. “Find someone else to write your damned report.”

 

But Taehyung only smiled, backing up from him as he began to retrace the route Jungkook had taken up to the house.

 

“Your sister’s very pretty. She’d look even prettier all battered and broken against the roof of a car, no?” he teased. He cupped his hands against his mouth and loud-whispered, “Defenestration!”

 

Report or no report, Namjoon knew Kim Taehyung would not be one of the people he helped put in jail. No, he deserved a different fate.

 

He would not rest until the day he got to cover the bastard’s smug face with six feet’s worth of shovelled earth.

 

 

 

Well, Taekook’s first real interaction wasn’t disappointing.

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Jungkook had gotten over their temperamental argument.

 

It was no happening of chance. Jimin worked actively to heal the wound, and his kisses were the balm. Kisses, cuddles and sweet words whispered in his ear from time to time – Jungkook was still a child at heart, he had not developed the thickened hide of a man in his vocation. He wasn’t truly into the game of acting ‘tough’ yet and Jimin took full advantage. It was enough to have Jungkook trust him with the task of taking a sample of Smiley down to Busan, to sell to interested buyers. It cemented his view of Jimin as an equal, a lover, though neither of them had said anything about such a thing out loud.

 

It was the drug he’d developed from studying the effects of PCP on humans. Jimin thought it was horrendous. It was named Smiley due to the tension it created in the facial muscles, stretching them out until the user had a joker-like grin on their face as they rode their high. But the high was worth it, or so he was told by Mingyu who had offered himself up to experiment on. Jimin could only imagine what walking into a basement full of Smiley users would be like.

 

There were ten pills in the briefcase, and Jungkook had the only other twenty in the world. Smiley was time consuming and expensive to create in its purest form. Soon enough, once the demand increased, there would be plenty of cheap, watered-down imitations. But for now, Jimin’s only job was to display the proof of Smiley’s effects through video evidence and have interested buyers invest in advance. Mother was not investing. If Jungkook was to take over Yongsan-gu, he had to prove to her he could handle his business on his own.

 

Even if that meant trying to get Yong Geondal to invest.

 

Jimin had not believed it a good idea at all, but Jungkook was nonchalant about it.

 

“Yong Geondal has a weak foothold in Seoul. They could do with binding alliances with a stronger gang. But they’re rolling in gold down in Busan, and that’s what I want. The money – “

 

He then proceeded to re-enact the ‘Show me the money’ scene from Jerry Maguire with Yugyeom, and there was no talking sense into him after that.

 

Needless to say, Jimin didn’t need to inform Yoongi of his arrival beforehand. Jungkook had already arranged the meeting, and the address was situated in a penthouse restaurant, above a luxury casino overlooking the docks. It was a Yong Geondal establishment and Jimin remembered it well. It had a basement underneath where Taehyung had taken him to practice ingesting cocaine balloons for his first trip to Japan. Even after all these months, his stomach clenched at the memory of having the balloons packing it up.

 

Seeing Yoongi was somewhat nostalgic as well. Interesting how months felt like years when one’s life was going to shit.

 

He was sitting opposite another man, whose face wasn’t visible, pale as a vampire in the sunlight. Jimin almost expected him to sparkle. He himself didn’t have any guards, only a driver who was still seated in the car. Yoongi’s men were everywhere, standing in the shadows so as not to disturb the wealthy patrons.

 

“Master Min,” Jimin said, bowing deeply, before carefully setting the briefcase on the table.

 

Yoongi stared at him, his lips a thin, hard line. Jimin’s eyes wandered nervously in the direction of the man sitting opposite him. He was young, with features that were too good to be true. He was gorgeous, with large eyes and a mouth that was inclined to smiling. He was smiling a little now, purely out of politeness as he studied Jimin.

 

“Sit,” Yoongi ordered.

 

Jimin did as he asked, taking a seat beside the stranger. He’d rather chop off his own hands than risk sitting beside Yoongi uninvited. He bowed awkwardly to the stranger, and then reached over to open the briefcase. There wasn’t much talking on the part of Yoongi and his companion. Jimin kept expecting some sort of conversation to strike up but it ended up being a solo presentation. Oddly, it reminded him of the days when he used to recite his lessons to his father, after a day or learning them with his mother. He felt the same prickling tension on the back of his neck and his throat squeezed up tight. But he got through it.

 

“You seem to know a lot about the drug,” Yoongi said finally. “Did you help manufacture it? Such intimate knowledge would suggest so.”

 

“I was in the lab quite often when it was being made,” Jimin admitted.

 

“Did you allow yourself to be a guinea pig for experimentation?”

 

“Never went that far.”

 

“And yet you’re trusted enough to broker deals on behalf of Jeon Jungkook. Admirable how you’ve risen the ranks in such a short time,” the man beside Jimin said. When Jimin looked at him, he smiled and introduced himself. “My name’s Jung Hoseok.”

 

“R-right. I guess you already know who I am,” Jimin said.

 

“Taehyung never mentioned Hoseok to you?” Yoongi said, stirring his cup of tea.

 

Jimin’s eyebrows lifted. “No, I don’t think so.”

 

“Well, they have an interesting history. Hoseok joined my ranks as an undercover cop around the same time Taehyung became a Yong Geondal dealer.”

 

Jimin almost choked on the mouthful of coffee he’d sipped. He coughed into a napkin that Hoseok offered him, before holding it over his mouth. His words came out a little muffled.

 

“Undercover cop?”

 

“Not anymore. I sort of…reneged on my previous occupation,” Hoseok said sheepishly, “Underpaid and overworked. Whereas here, I guess it’s the opposite.”

 

“Oh please. You love it with Yong Geondal, that’s why you switched,” Yoongi snorted. “Hoseok and Taehyung were lovers, which is why I’m surprised he didn’t mention it.”

 

“N-no, he didn’t,” Jimin muttered, closing the briefcase. He didn’t know what Taehyung’s type was now at all, since all of them looked so distinctly different to one another. For a heartless motherfucker who killed people for a living, he sure had a lot of dalliances on the side.

 

“Well, he says we were lovers, but Yoongi was part of it too. Ménage-e-tois of sorts,” Hoseok explained.

 

“Maybe he didn’t mention it because he thinks Hoseok is dead,” Yoongi murmured, chin resting on his hand as he gazed out at the sparkling blue sea.

 

“Why would he think that?” Jimin said, laughing awkwardly as he looked between the two of them.

 

Hoseok was no longer smiling.

 

“He was starting to forget his role. It was more running after Hoseok and less working for me. Besides, two birds were killed with one stone. The police force had Hoseok on the top of their most-wanted list for betraying them, and now they believe he’s dead.”

 

“Taehyung thinks you’re…dead? As in, you two were in love, and now he thinks you’re dead?”

 

It was a genuine question, but they both chose to treat it as rhetorical, leaving Jimin to gape at the pair of them. Of all the ways he had imagined this meeting going, this wasn’t it. A silence fell. Hoseok and Yoongi appeared comfortable with it, or perhaps that was just a dogged refusal to break it. Jimin was pretty sure he saw Hoseok’s jaw clench a couple times. He reached for the briefcase and muttered something about leaving before dark, when Yoongi lifted a hand to signal that he should stop.

 

“You mustn’t mention Hoseok to him,” he said. “And I’m not just telling you to do that with belief in your blind loyalty. Neither of us would be so naive. I have something to offer in return for your silence.”

 

Jimin said nothing, simply preferring to wait. He kept getting the urge to look at Hoseok, to trace the perfect line of his silhouette against the setting sun with his eyes. He was beautiful. Taehyung certainly picked them well. It was quite possibly the strangest story he’d ever heard, excluding his own. An undercover cop-turned-rogue and a teenage drug dealer.

 

“It’s not confirmed yet, but I may have the identity of the man who set fire to your parents’ house. I know your ultimate target is Mother, but surely this will provide some satisfaction.”

 

Jimin felt the nerves in his body light up, but he managed to keep his face straight. “Do you have a name?” he said, mouth dry.

 

Yoongi shook his head. “I have very little information on him thus far but I’m following up on leads. We have a former detective-in-training right here.” He gestured to Hoseok who half smiled, but didn’t seem to find the joke all too humorous. “He vanished off the face of the earth after he killed your parents, which was no doubt what he was promised in exchange for carrying out such a task. A complete change of identity.”

 

Jimin didn’t have to think twice. “I won’t tell Taehyung.”

 

Yoongi nodded. “Then, when I have more information, you’ll have your name and hopefully, an address. I won’t ask what you choose to do with the information. That’s your business.”

 

Jimin’s phone buzzed with a message from Jungkook asking how the meeting had gone and when he would be back. He excused himself, saying it really was urgent that he depart. He had arrived by plane and was going back the same way, which was a relief, as there was no chance of having to stay in Busan overnight. When he stood, he shook Yoongi’s hand with a bow, and went in for another handshake with Hoseok as a courtesy. He felt something crushed between their palms, but didn’t make any sort of reaction, discreetly clenching his fingers around it. Hoseok’s eyes remained blank, his smile passive.

 

Jimin opened the scrunched up tiny ball of paper once he was safely in the car on the way to the airport. Written in small letters across it was –

 

He needs to know I’m still alive.

 

 

*

 

Jimin returned to the condo at around eight pm to find a scene of utter chaos.

 

It wasn’t chaotic in the normal sense. Everyone was sitting at the dinner table, eating. But it was not what, but who. Lalisa, next to Yugyeom, next to Mingyu, Namjoon, Jungkook and…

 

“Hey there, cousin,” Taehyung said brightly, flashing him a smile.

 

Jimin dropped his bag by the window, slowly, hoping he hadn’t gone pale. “H-hey. Um – “

 

Nope.

 

“Jimin, come and eat,” Jungkook said, patting the seat beside him.

 

“Y-yeah sure, just a sec,” Jimin said, before making a beeline towards the door.  

 

He wasn’t given much time to be alone in the kitchen, even after kicking out one of Jungkook’s stoner friends who was always hanging around in some corner of the house smoking. He’d just managed to drain a glass of water when the door opened and Namjoon walked in.

 

“What is wrong with your cousin?” was the first thing he said.

 

“No hello?” Jimin laughed weakly. “Nice.”

 

“After the day I’ve had, you’ll forgive me if my manners are a little blunt,” Namjoon retorted. He drew closer, thoroughly agitated, pacing back and forth. Something had seriously ruffled his feathers. Jimin waited patiently, knowing it would come out.

 

“I met a friend of mine when I was studying in America. His dad was a criminal profiler at Quantico and my friend was training to be one too. I remember going over some of his notes with him as he prepared to sit his exams. What Taehyung did today, reminded me of that.”

 

“And what did he do, Namjoon?” Jimin said wearily.

 

“Stressors,” Namjoon continued, without directly answering the question. “A stressor triggers a violent offender who might otherwise have had his sociopathic behaviour and or psychopathic tendencies under control. The stressor in the offender’s life would trigger a near or complete lack of control over their violent lash-outs. Stressors are usually associated with serial killer sprees.”

 

“Right, and you think Kim Taehyung is about go on a serial killing spree?” Jimin snorted, “Have you read his job description? Even if he was a complete psycho, which I don’t believe he is, he’s got the most perfect job in the world to keep him satisfied.”

 

Namjoon laughed dryly, opening the fridge and grabbing a beer can. He popped it open, taking a deep swig, before shaking his head. “I know you think I’m just bullshitting.”

 

“Namjoon, I’m not, but – “

 

“Jimin, you didn’t see him today! He didn’t have to kill that girl, but he did. He gave some excuse about putting respect on Geomjeong-pa’s name but that could have been achieved by killing CEO Yang’s son. He killed the girl because he wanted to. He mentioned he used to fancy her in high school, masturbated to her pictures, and now a few years later, he has no qualms throwing her out of a window. Do you not see the psychosexual violence in that?”

 

“I didn’t go to criminal profiling school, Namjoon,” Jimin muttered, brushing his hair out of his eyes and tugging on the strands tight.

 

“Has he suffered any sort of stress in his life recently? You’re his cousin, you should know,’ Namjoon said, “Jimin, I’m a cop. I have a moral duty to do anything I can to protect innocent civilians. Discovering all I can about a potential psychopath is part of that.”

 

Jimin chewed on the inside of his cheek. Honestly speaking, he didn’t give a damn who Taehyung killed. He knew that made him a bad person, but there were so many others assholes populating the planet, why should he feel as if he were deviating from the crowd? Jimin’s concern was not what Taehyung did when he wasn’t with him. He didn’t care. But the look on Namjoon’s face was heart-breaking. Obviously, Taehyung was not the only one with a soft spot for undercover narcs.

 

“I think I might know something,” he muttered. “Someone close to him died. Someone he loved. I don’t know how long ago, but it’s less than a year and the pain is probably still fresh, though he would never show it.”

 

Someone who isn’t really dead after all.

 

Admittedly, the stressor argument was convincing since Jimin had heard rumours of Taehyung’s maniacal bloodbath spree in Busan just days before Yoongi dispatched them both to Seoul. Jimin hadn’t asked about it then, and he had never asked since.

 

“But then he reined it in when he turned into Mother’s personal enforcer,” Jimin added. “So, you’re asking me for another stressor? I don’t know what else it could be.”

 

“That dog-fighting ring might have been it,” Namjoon remarked, “Being allowed to commit such gratuitous violence surely had an effect. He could have strangled Soo. But he chose to stab his thumbs into his eyes and crush them through his skull.”

 

Jimin swallowed down nausea, blinking away the dryness in his eyes. “Yeah well, he’s not really my cousin, though I think you already figured that out. I thought I’d tell you just in case you start psychoanalysing me too.”

 

“I figured you two weren’t related,” Namjoon shook his head. “It doesn’t concern me what your relationship is anymore.”

 

“Good, because it’s fucked up – “

 

The door opened, interrupting their conversation.

 

“Speak of the devil,” Jimin said.

 

He looked good. His way of dressing had changed. The collared shirt with the sleeves rolled up to reveal his tattoos, neatly tucked into his belt and the glasses perched on his pristine hair. Jimin felt the crotch of his trousers tighten just a little as Taehyung’s gaze met his and quickly looked away before the heat could spread any further.

 

“Ah, so you’ve made friends with the undercover cop too,” Taehyung said casually as he dropped a used napkin in the bin.

 

It took Jimin a second to register what he’d said, and when he did, he moved reflexively to stand in front of Namjoon, arms spread slightly.

 

“You can’t tell Jungkook,” he blurted out.

 

“Relll-aaax,” Taehyung drawled. “I’m not telling anyone. And I won’t kill him where he stands so you don’t have to be his body shield. You’re half his height anyway.”

 

“Excuse me,” Namjoon muttered, taking the chance to leave.

 

“He can’t even stand to be in the same room with you,” Jimin said. “You really spooked him today.”

 

“Good thing he wasn’t there when I chopped up a man and fed his liver to his wife and child for afternoon tea back in Busan,” Taehyung said, washing his hands under the tap with a dreamy expression on his face.

 

Jimin blanched. “What?”

 

The man turned to look at him, and the way the kitchen lights fell on his face, created shadows that were borderline satanic. His eyes were completely shrouded in darkness. But then, he lifted his face and his lips quirked up into a smirk, his eyebrows doing the same thing.

 

“You are one gullible mochi, did you know that?”

 

“Oh my god, you’re joking, oh my god!” Jimin gasped, putting his hands to his head and feeling his skin dampen with sweat.

 

Though it was clarified, he still flinched a little when Taehyung came closer and took him by the arms. It took Jimin a minute to calm himself enough to be still. Namjoon’s words wouldn’t stop ringing in the back of his head. Taehyung’s hands were on his hair, his mouth kissing the shell of his ear. His warmth was comforting.

 

“He’s the enemy. Don’t get too close,” Taehyung murmured.

 

“Don’t hurt him. Please,” Jimin said, taking hold of his wrists as he leaned his head back to look at him. “I don’t want him to get hurt. He’s not a bad person.”

 

“Oh no, I won’t hurt him. I’ll hurt the people he loves, if he dares to raise a finger in the wrong direction,” Taehyung assured him.

 

“A stressor triggers a violent offender who might otherwise have had his sociopathic behaviour and or psychopathic tendencies under control.”

 

Jimin’s eyes usually drifted closed of their own accord when Taehyung kissed his neck. They wouldn’t now. They remained wide open, staring at the wall opposite, unblinking. He didn’t even care that the wrong person could walk in on them like this. He was just…frozen.

 

“Come back to my place,” Taehyung whispered in his ear, his large hands groping Jimin’s waist, squeezing his flesh tight, needy and hot.

 

“I can’t. Jungkook will get suspicious if I leave without an excuse. And I have none,” Jimin murmured.

 

Taehyung lifted his head again and this time, kissed Jimin’s mouth full-on. The younger leaned up on his tippy toes a bit, just so that he could hug onto him a little tighter. They swayed together as Jimin lost his balance, and landed against the side of the counter, the kiss becoming messier as their teeth clashed by accident.

 

“They’re all getting drunk in the dining room and Jungkook was talking about inviting strippers over,” Taehyung broke away to say, “just a little wait, and you can come with me.”

 

Jimin shook his head. “I’m sick of creeping around. Wait here – “

 

Before Taehyung could ask where he was going, Jimin left the kitchen and headed back to the dining room. He was right. They were all getting drunk and Jungkook was already on his second joint, squatting by the terrace window as he watched Lisa and Mingyu play Russian Roulette with a box of hard boiled eggs.

 

God, this group is weird.

 

“Hey, Jungkook?” Jimin couldn’t pretend he didn’t notice how Jungkook’s face lit up when he saw him, but he could definitely ignore how it made him feel. “Hey,” he said, taking him by the shoulders and dropping a kiss on his cheek. “Come to my room. I wanna show you something.”

 

*

 

“What is this? What are we doing? Why is he here?”

 

Jimin hadn’t really thought of the implications of bringing them both to his room. He hadn’t really thought about much of anything all the way up. He just wanted the noise in his head to stop and he couldn’t be bothered making up a reason to leave Jungkook’s condo and return the next morning. He took the worst route and said to hell with it.

 

Jimin silenced Jungkook with an affectionate peck on his lips. “He’s here because you think he’s hot, remember? If you don’t want him, I can make him leave,” he offered.

 

“I don’t think you could make him leave if he doesn’t want to,” Jungkook snorted, but he smiled, leaning into Jimin’s arms, just glad to be there.

 

Jimin had never felt as fond of him as he did in that moment. For the first time, as Jungkook’s lips wandered to his neck, teasing the tender skin, he didn’t push him away. He held him closer and pulled him backwards onto the bed. Taehyung was still standing motionless by the door, just watching. Jimin’s view of him was blocked as Jungkook clambered on top, pushing him down onto the pillows. He yanked down Jimin’s sweater sleeves before putting his hands against his own cheeks with a soft moan.

 

“I love your hands,” Jungkook whispered, kissing his fingers, one by one.

 

“I love your face,” Jimin giggled.

 

“Are you two gonna fuck or…?” Taehyung trailed off expectantly.

 

“Sssh!” Jungkook slurred, putting his finger to his lips. He was definitely a little drunk.“We’re having a moment…okay?”

 

Taehyung made a scornful sound, but he didn’t say anything else. Instead, he wandered over to the bookshelves lining the far wall, lifting a book from the one in the middle. Jimin frowned, about to ask if he didn’t want to join after all, but his words were cut off by the squeeze of Jungkook’s lips around his.

 

The younger couldn’t get both their clothes off fast enough. Jimin sank against the pillows, breathless, dazed and a little overwhelmed at the enthusiasm. He preferred slower, more intense build up, but Jungkook was champing at the bit. There was plenty of giggling and squealing as they wrestled around, drinking champagne straight from the bottle every so often. Somewhere in the middle of it, Jungkook’s hand found Jimin’s cock and suddenly, things got a little more serious.

 

Jimin nibbled on his lip, slowly parting his legs as he breathlessly waited to see what Jungkook would do next. He squeezed the tip, as if testing the most sensitive points and seeking out the places that would make Jimin react. He found one pretty fast, right under the soft pink tip. Taehyung flung the book over onto a table and climbed onto the bed, sprawling down next to Jimin to watch.

 

“Kitten lick just under the tip. He goes crazy for that,” Taehyung murmured.

 

“Let him figure it out for himself,” Jimin complained, pushing his head.

 

“I thought you two were cousins,” Jungkook frowned, as if the thought had just suddenly jumped back into his head.

 

“Adopted,” they both replied simultaneously.

 

Jungkook frowned, narrowed his eyes and then shrugged and took Taehyung’s advice. Jimin managed to hiss ‘asshole’ in Taehyung’s general direction before his head sank into the pillow and his eyes rolled into the back of his head. He grabbed fistfuls of the sheets as Jungkook’s kitten licks turned into hungry, lapping sucks.

 

“You taste delicious,” he said, his voice hoarse and his eyes closed. He drooled in his eagerness, lips slipping and sliding over the lubricated glans. Jimin responded with muted squeaks in his throat, trying not to thrust upwards in case he hurt him. His eyes flew open as he felt Taehyung’s mouth breath hot air into his ear. His large hand smoothed over Jimin’s throat, gripping the side of his neck just under his ear as he turned his head to face him.

 

Jungkook paused momentarily to gape at the sight of them kissing, tongues twisting wetly in Jimin’s mouth.

 

“Adopted cousins,” he murmured, as if reassuring himself he wasn’t caught in some sick incestuous fantasy. He was distracted, his tongue slowing down and by accident, his teeth grazed the sensitive veins of Jimin’s erection a little too roughly.

 

“Jungkook, no teeth,” Jimin whimpered, reaching down to touch his head.

 

Jungkook let him go, and launched himself back up, shoving Taehyung out of the way none too gently. Jimin only managed a surprised gasp and then Jungkook was kissing him, fierce, hot and possessive. It was clear he no longer wanted to share. Jimin’s hand was still out to the side, resting on Taehyung’s arm and even that Jungkook had a problem with. He pulled it back, bundling the smaller male into his clutches and blocking Taehyung’s access.

 

“Kookie, do you want him to leave?” Jimin whispered against his lips. He winced as Jungkook answered with a sharp nip of his teeth. “Ouch!”

 

It was Jungkook’s turn to yelp suddenly as his weight was pulled off Jimin. Taehyung had him by the back of the hair and was slowly tugging him upwatrds. Jungkook growled and elbowed him in the ribs but the only thing that did was to make Taehyung laugh, groaning a little as the pain made itself felt. His arm snaked around Jungkook’s slim waist, pinning their bodies together as he steered his head around until their lips were inches from each other.

 

“You don’t have to be jealous, little virgin, I’ll touch you the same way I touch him…” Taehyung whispered in his ear.

 

Jungkook strained against him and Taehyung’s grip almost slipped. Almost. He held him until Jungkook finally stopped moving. Jimin leant up on his elbow and laughed, patting his thigh.

 

“It’s more fun sharing, baby,” he said.

 

Taehyung flipped the boy onto his back, and before he could spring back up, kissed him. It was the sort of kiss meant to tear down defences and it worked to spectacular effect. Jimin could tell Jungkook was trying desperately not to moan and thus, show his resolve was weakening. But his brow was furrowed, and his nails were clawing down Taehyung’s arm, to push him away or pull him closer, it was impossible to tell. Jimin became still, watching them make out, the sound of their lips meeting was intensely erotic.

 

“You’re both so pretty,” he whispered, laughing a little as he rested his head on his arms and watched Jungkook wrap his hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck and pull him close with a soft whimper.

 

Taehyung blindly reached out and pulled Jimin nearer, breaking away from Jungkook to push his tongue into Jimin’s mouth. Jungkook’s taste was all over it and it was the hottest thing he had ever experienced.

 

“H-he can stay,” Jungkook gasped.

 

“Of course, he can,” Jimin giggled, bending down to kiss him.

 

“Get on top of him,” Taehyung said, “straddle his face.”

 

“Oh, are you giving the orders now?”

 

“I don’t see you giving them. Move it.” Taehyung landed a smack on Jimin’s ass to drive the point in.

 

“Jungkook, I think we should kick him out after all – “

 

“Shut up and sit on my face already,” Jungkook panted, grabbing at his thigh.

 

Between them, they manhandled Jimin into position, tickling him as he shrieked. He almost kneed Jungkook in the face in his attempts to get them to stop. Jimin rolled his hips a little, teasing Jungkook, letting his mouth open and try to grasp at his cock as it dangled above him. When he finally lowered and gave him what he was hungering for, the moan that came from Jungkook’s throat rolled through his shaft, spreading to the rest of his body in tremors. His head fell back, lips open in a silent gasp as the wet heat of Jungkook’s lips clamped onto his sensitive length, tongue curling around it as saliva dribbled from the corners of his lips.

 

Jungkook was mostly silent, except for the mouth-watering sounds of the blowjob, but suddenly, he jerked, hands gripping Jimin’s thighs hard. He writhed violently and Jimin’s cock fell from his mouth as he threw his head back and yelled out. Taehyung was between his legs, and in typical fashion, hadn’t given him any prior warning. Jimin turned to see him deep throating Jungkook’s dick with such vigour the boy’s body was near to convulsing with the first few sucks.

 

“Slow down! You’re going to drain him of all he has,” Jimin whined.

 

Taehyung lifted his head, dragging his tongue up the sides of Jungkook’s cock, strings of saliva clinging to it. He grinned. “Not my problem.”

 

Before Jimin could hiss at him, Jungkook’s hand pulled his shaft back between his lips and he forgot whatever he was about to say. He sank against the headboard, thighs trembling as Jungkook went to town. Jimin praised him all the way through it, stroking his hair and the boy was lapping it up. He had a praise kink – unsurprising.

 

It was hard to tell who was going harder, Jungkook or Taehyung, both seemed to be in some sort of competition. They were alike after all. Just not in the way he had imagined.

 

But Jungkook was the virgin and he failed the game. Taehyung had him coming within a minute and a half of swallowing his cock down his throat. Jimin cursed as Jungkook’s mouth clamped impossibly tight on his erection as he screamed, body shaking. Jungkook’s nails had run red, clawed marks all the way down the back of Jimin’s thighs as he orgasmed, and the pain started to set in immediately. But it was forgotten as Jimin felt his cock throb against the back of Jungkook’s mouth.

 

“Kook, I’m gonna come – baby don’t stop – fuck – you’re so good – so fucking – good  - “ the praise came out as a high pitched wail as Jimin sank against the headboard for the last time.

 

He pulled out, squeezing the head of his dick as it began to gush with a sudden and forceful stream of cum. It landed all over Jungkook’s mouth, nose, chin and neck, white against his reddened skin. He gasped, trying to lift his head and swallow it up but Jimin whispered it was too sensitive and gently lifted himself off. Jungkook pulled him down until their bodies were lined up, and kissed him. Jimin licked the cum off his faze lazily, half-smiling as Jungkook mumbled something. He could feel one of Taehyung’s hands on his spine; the other ran up Jungkook’s side, stopping at the base of his neck.

 

“You’re really good at giving blowjobs,” Jungkook said to Taehyung, once he’d collected himself a little.

 

“Uh huh,” Taehyung replied, kissing his shoulder and sucking up the sweat glistening on his creamy skin. “By the sound of it, so are you.”

 

Jungkook grinned so wide his cheeks dimpled. Jimin kissed him again, the feeling of affection from before tripling.

 

There was no discussion over who would go first, or who would position themselves where. It happened naturally. Jungkook was very clearly determined to fuck Jimin, and he didn’t really care where Taehyung was, until he did. It was slightly uncomfortable being at the bottom – both of them were heavier and taller – but at this point, Jimin was so buzzed on champagne, a little discomfort was nothing.  

 

“Jungkook – wait – condoms – “ Jimin mumbled against his shoulder as he felt Jungkook’s body nestle between his legs.

 

They were helpfully supplied by Taehyung, along with the information that Jungkook was trying to penetrate with a semi-erect cock that still hadn’t recovered from its first orgasm.

 

“Were you gonna try and fuck him without lube? Don’t tell me you’ve never watched porn,” Taehyung chided him, as he knocked through things in Jimin’s drawers to find a bottle of it.

 

“I-I forgot, sorry,” Jungkook said to Jimin.

 

“It’s alright,” Jimin whispered, holding his hand against his cheek. He felt wonderful. Or maybe it was the champagne. He was warm and fuzzy and as if there was nothing outside of this room but blank space. The door would open, and he would fall down, down, down into nothing. The world had simply vanished.

 

Jungkook pumped his fist up and down his length, trying to get it rock solid again. When it didn’t work quickly enough, Taehyung helped, but even then, nothing. It was Jimin’s hand that did the trick, and he couldn’t help but smirk at Taehyung’s thinly-veiled sourness.

 

“Kiss me,” Jimin told him.

 

The sight of them kissing, with Jimin’s hand cradling his shaft did the trick. Jungkook rolled the condom on and Jimin pushed gently at Taehyung’s shoulder to get him off. He braced himself as Jungkook lined up against his entrance. He managed to get in the tip, before he stopped and took a deep breath.

 

“What is it?” Jimin said quickly.

 

“I think I’m gonna cum again,” Jungkook said, his face turning red with embarrassment.

 

Taehyung brushed his hair back off his forehead and kissed his neck from behind, hands splayed over his chest. “No, you won’t. And even if you do, I’m gonna suck you till you’re hard again, because one way or another, you’re going to be pinned between the both of us. Understand?”

 

Jungkook whimpered, and Jimin’s stomach disintegrated into fireworks of heat as his gaze met Taehyung’s. He looked like some sort of succubus, latched onto Jungkook, encouraging him to move forward, drive his cock into Jimin up till the hilt. In fact, at some point, Jungkook didn’t even seem to be moving of his own accord. It was Taehyung’s hand at the base of his cock, and his hands pushing his hips, manoeuvring him deeper in. But as Jimin’s moans grew more and more high-pitched, Jungkook gained renewed confidence. He pulled himself away from Taehyung, to push Jimin’s legs up until his knees were by his ears and his feet were up in the air.

 

“D-does it feel good?” Jungkook whispered in Jimin’s ears, stuttering as he struggled with all his might to hold his climax off.

 

“Y-yes, so good, Jungkook – move your hips just like that – aaah!” Jimin’s words punctuated with an involuntary squeaking sound as Jungkook gyrated again. He was going slow, but it was the exquisite sort of slow, the sort that had Jimin seeing stars as the ceiling rocked gently in his vision.

 

He clasped Jungkook to him, enjoying the sound of his tender moans, as his walls gripped onto his pumping cock. Lube pooled in Taehyung’s palm and the wet sound it made as he ran his fingers up the crack of Jungkook’s ass was pure sin. Jimin grabbed Jungkook’s face and kissed him, swallowing up his moans as Taehyung pushed one slicked up finger inside his tight cavern. He timed his thrusts, slow and torturous, letting the volume of Jungkook’s cries rise with each. He began to thrust back to get more of Taehyung’s finger and as a result, rutted forward into Jimin harder, sending the headboard crashing against the wall.

 

Christ,” Jimin hissed, biting his lip as his fists clenched against the wood behind his head. Every so often, his body shifted upwards with the force of the thrust, and he screamed Jungkook’s name in a way that had the owner of it grinning.

 

Through slightly misty eyes, Jimin saw Taehyung’s long fingers wrap around Jungkook’s hips and he knew it was coming. He braced for the second time, but nothing happened as Jungkook stopped thrusting. His face was contorted with pain as Taehyung began to enter him.

 

“Slower, Tae,” Jimin warned him, reaching up to run his fingers through Jungkook’s hair.

 

“No, keep going – “ Jungkook grunted, trembling all over as he grabbed onto the cabinet for leverage, one hand pressed against the back of Jimin’s thigh.

 

“You two are gonna have to come to sort of agreement as to what you want me to do or I’m pulling out,” Taehyung snapped.

 

Jimin couldn’t help it. He burst into giggles and it wasn’t long before Jungkook’s shoulders were shaking with mirth also, though he was far more breathless. Taehyung gave up and pushed forward, hard. As one, the two beneath him screamed, the laughter cutting off abruptly.

 

Jungkook was moaning again within seconds, but Jimin could barely make a sound. The pressure on his prostate was unbelievable and it took him a moment to realise he’d already orgasmed. His cock was red and hard against his navel, with only the sparest amount of cum pooling on his belly but he had definitely climaxed. Before he could recover, Taehyung moved again and fuck, if Jimin didn’t lose his mind. He pushed Jungkook’s hand over his mouth to keep from letting any gibberish escape and closed his eyes to it all, wanting only to focus on what was happening to his body.

 

He could feel them both on top, writhing, pressing him so deep into the mattress, it felt like his back would connect with the wooden slabs. The bed was going to break, he was sure of it. But for now, it held. Jungkook’s thrusts were shorter now, as he couldn’t pull out completely and ram back in unless Taehyung let him. And every so often, Taehyung did, guiding his hips back and then pushing him forward until his weight was half crushing Jimin.

 

Jimin felt something solid holding against the push of his foot as he accidentally kicked out but didn’t bother opening his eyes to find out what. He couldn’t stop screaming against Jungkook’s palm, letting it suffocate him as his second climax hit. It was stronger now, he felt the wetness spread over his stomach and his cock turned flaccid again. He became nothing more than a quivering pile of muscles and raw nerve endings, trapped against the bed. The other two were still going, in an aggressive, uncoordinated rhythm of thrusts. Jimin pushed against Jungkook to alleviate the pressure just a little, as his prostate throbbed from overstimulation.

 

He gasped in sheer relief as he felt Jungkook’s cock inflate inside him and the tell-tale trickle of cum leak down his ass as it escaped the tight squeeze of the condom on its way out.

 

“W-wait, let me pull out,” Jungkook gasped, reaching back to touch Taehyung’s reddened face and lifting himself off of Jimin.

 

Jimin took a deep breath and wriggled out from under them, landing in a heap beside their tangled bodies on the bed. He flung his arm over his eye momentarily, recovering, but he couldn’t help turning his attention back to them. Taehyung had Jungkook’s head buried against the pillow. The condom was off, and Jungkook’s cock was still ejaculating, ropes of white seed, that Jimin reached out and caught on his hand. He sucked on it lazily, making eye contact with Jungkook. The boy was beside himself, wailing with the sort of ecstasy that only came with total loss of control. His pupils were dilated, and he was half delirious. Jimin beamed, his eyes turning into half crescents as he enjoyed the sight.

 

“He looks so pretty with your cock inside him,” he purred to Taehyung, “Mmmm…are you gonna come, baby?”

 

Jungkook mumbled something, tears running down his face, and drool clinging to his lips. Taehyung was silent, except for the odd, strangled curse word. Jimin pressed his mouth to Jungkook’s cheek before leaning up to kiss Taehyung. Their mouths were still locked when Taehyung came inside Jungkook, a growl tearing from his throat as he grabbed the back of Jimin’s head and kept him in place.

 

Jungkook pulled away, sniffing as he wiped his face and fell against the pillows, exhausted. Jimin pulled away and crawled over to him to check that he wasn’t hurt.

 

“Are you alright? Do you want some water?” he said anxiously.

 

“Champagne,” Jungkook managed to get out.

 

“Of course you do,” Jimin cooed, smacking his cheek softly, before pouring him a flute.

 

He could barely keep his eyes open, and with Jimin’s gentle coaxing crawled under the sheets and curled up, completely content and knocked out within seconds of his head hitting the pillow.

 

“You know, I’m surprised you didn’t insist he keep going,” Jimin said to Taehyung who was now lazing at the foot of the bed, hand in his hair.  “You did that to me the first time.”

 

“He’s not the one I came here to fuck, that’s why,” Taehyung answered. “A nice side bonus, but not the thing I wanted.”

 

Jimin rolled his eyes, refusing to answer, and proceeded to tuck Jungkook in properly. “He’s going to wake up in the morning, and shit’s going to get real awkward. There’s no one like Jungkook to make a big deal of things that really shouldn’t matter. He’s at his best when he’s smoked a joint. Otherwise, he’s a bit prickly.”

 

“He’s also at his best when he’s hurting other people,” Taehyung pointed out. “He was playing like a child at kindergarten when I bled out CEO Yang’s son.”

 

“Yeah, I’m sure he was,” Jimin sighed, “but I’m not talking about awkward for you. For me.”

 

“Because he likes you?”

 

“How could you tell?”

 

“Getting face-palmed and shoved away from you was the first sign.”

 

Jimin snorted, muffling his laughter into the back of his hand. The corners of Taehyung’s eyes crinkled, and his lips stretched into a toothy smile. It was a very rare expression on his face. Jimin felt his stomach drop and his own smile faltered. He looked away, pretending to busy himself with getting rid of the used condoms. They didn’t go far. He didn’t have a bin on his room, so they ended up in a pile on the floor next to the cabinet. When he turned the right way up again, Taehyung was a lot closer, having crawled across the bed back over to him. And by the look in his eyes, he wasn’t there to talk.

 

“What are you doing?” Jimin dodged his kiss as he glanced at Jungkook sleeping beside them.

 

“He won’t wake up,” Taehyung murmured, pulling the sheets down further and then back up to cover them both.

 

He pushed Jimin onto his back even as protests kept spilling from his lips. Too tired, Jungkook would wake up, this was wrong, he couldn’t do it –

 

All of them died away as Taehyung’s arms slid under his body, pulling him closer. The oxygen in Jimin’s lungs left him in a gasp as his hands came up to cradle Taehyung’s head, fingers brushing through his hair. Their noses touched, lips just centimetres apart. It was more intimate than kissing, looking into his eyes up close, feeling his breath wash over his face. They stayed like that as Taehyung reached down and inserted his cockhead securely into Jimin’s reddened, sore entrance. The lube was still coating his walls, and he slipped in easily. The abuse his prostate had undergone was still making itself felt, but it turned into pure pleasure once more as Jimin wrapped his leg around Taehyung’s waist tighter to pull him in deep.

 

“You’re not wearing a condom,” he whispered.

 

“I know…I want to feel the cum dripping out of you,” Taehyung whispered back, long eyelashes tangling with Jimin’s as he leaned in closer.

 

This feels wrong.

 

Jimin knew exactly why it felt so wrong. It was that sinking feeling in his stomach that he shouldn’t be feeling butterflies with a man like this in his arms.

 

Shit, when did I acknowledge they were butterflies?

 

“Feel good?” Taehyung murmured, and there was a hint of laughter in his voice.

 

The butterflies began to do little pirouettes.

 

“Yes…” Jimin said quietly, unable to meet his gaze for once.

 

He buried his face against the crook of Taehyung’s neck, where it met his shoulder, and focused on the whirling patterns on the ceiling as the other began to move. He didn’t speed up. Slow and steady, but deep, so deep Jimin fought hard not to cry out in delight. His ear was burning with how hot Taehyung’s breath was, and it was all he could hear - the air escaping and being sucked back into his lungs. Jimin felt a strange sensation of disassociation, as if he was floating up against the ceiling watching himself be fucked so good his eyes could barely stay open. Bruised, red lips, flushed cheeks, sweat-drenched hair.

 

The disassociation sucked. It made him feel cold inside, even as the temperature of his skin soared. He was reminded that this was a finite moment. Taehyung was making enemies left and right. He could be shot tomorrow. A simple headshot, as he walked unawares, and no amount of skill could help him avoid a severe grudge.

 

And of course, I’m probably going to end up dead too.

 

Pain condensed in his chest and he took a shuddering gulp of air as tears cooled on his chest. But he was determined to ride out the new high. Arms and legs locked around Taehyung’s lithe frame, as Jimin goaded him into grinding deeper, rougher, until they were both unable to keep sounds escaping their mouth. They forgot they had to keep quiet for Jungkook’s sake, and fucked like this orgasm was the only one they’d both have for the rest of their lives.

 

Drops of sweat fell from Taehyung’s forehead fell onto Jimin’s face and he craned his neck, to make them drip down his cheeks like tears.

 

“Tae, I’m gonna – “ the word ‘come’  was crushed between their lips as Taehyung’s head swooped down. Jimin’s drawn out moan cracked into several shorter ones, as Taehyung’s last few thrusts drove in with brutal force. “Yes, yes, yesss…” he whined as he felt his ass fill up with his seed. It squeezed out around the tight fit of Jimin’s muscles clenching on Taehyung’s length, leaking onto the mattress underneath, drenching the bedsheet.

 

They stayed like that, rocking against each other, as aftershocks trembled between their bodies. Jimin mumbled sleepily as Taehyung’s lips spelled out unintelligible letters on his collarbone.

 

“Does it ever feel like there’s a time bomb around your neck? Counting down to an explosion?” Jimin said in a hushed voice.

 

Taehyung didn’t answer, but Jimin felt him go still.

 

Tell him. Fuck loyalty to Yoongi. Tell him.

 

Tell him what?

 

That the love of his life was still alive?

 

What would happen then? Taehyung would do everything in his power to set fire to Yoongi’s empire out of revenge and take Hoseok back. Jimin would cease to be a part of anything important in his life.  

 

“Sleep,” Taehyung said, dropping a kiss on his forehead and rolling off of him.

 

Jimin closed his mouth, sealing in the words that he was about to let escape out of guilt. On Taehyung’s other side, Jungkook turned over, face pressed against the older man’s shoulder as he smacked his lips, eye’s rolling around under their shut lids. Jimin did the same thing, curling up, with his head resting against Taehyung’s chest, one of his legs resting between the other’s.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

“Mm?”

 

“I actually needed to…”

 

“Needed to what?”

 

“Nothing. Goodnight.”

 

 

 

So, after 84 years, we know one of them is falling. Question is, when will the Titanic sink?

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

 

 

Trigger Warning: Extreme gun violence 

 

When Jimin woke, it felt like centuries later.

 

The body knew automatically if it had been asleep too long. His had all the warning signs. Heavy-headed fatigue, sluggishness. But there was something more. Jimin recognised it, even though his brain was failing to work properly. It was the way his limbs felt numb and wouldn’t move though he tried to get them to. He had been drugged. The thought didn’t shock him into alertness. There was far too much of some neuromuscular junk in his system to allow that. Had to be some sort of tranquiliser, probably of the equine variety.

 

First thing’s first. Get your body to move. Hurry.  

 

He didn’t know how long he tried until finally, his head lifted an inch and he felt the sheets strain against his foot. His vision was foggy, blurred, but he could make out the blue digits on the clock. He was still in Jungkook’s room. But the bed was empty. He couldn’t figure out if his ears were damaged or if it really was deathly silent.

 

Ten more minutes, and finally, Jimin heaved himself up with a burst of energy and fell against the headboard. It caused him to hyperventilate, as if he had run a mile at top speed. Sweat pooled on his forehead, trickling down fast. He had never sweated this much in his life.

 

Wrong. He woke up drenched in sweat in the back alley in Yongsan-gu where his parents’ killer left him. But even so, this was far more sinister. The stuff was dripping off of him. He had to be dehydrated. Water. That was the next priority. He crawled out of the bed, unable to stand, and dragged his body across the floor using his elbows. There was no question of going down to the kitchen. Jungkook’s en-suite would have to do.

 

Once there, Jimin swivelled the bath tap, grabbing onto the sides of the tub as the water splurged out. He groaned, ducking his head under the stream. He drank like a deranged man, and the water worked in washing some of the drug from his system. Once he had his first shred of awareness back, he started to focus.

 

Jungkook and Taehyung were gone. The bed was empty. The house was quiet. The house was never quiet. The clock read five pm, which meant he had been asleep fourteen hours, with the aid of the tranquiliser. Jimin dragged himself to his feet, ignoring the quivering of his legs as he held onto the walls to walk. With each step, his next one was stronger until he could finally walk unsupported.

 

Jimin picked up the clock just to make sure, and the date in the corner almost made him drop it in shock.

 

He had not slept 14 hours. He had slept 40. An entire day and then some.

 

Fear washed through him. Suddenly, the quiet in the house was more horrifying than it had initially seemed. His phone was gone. So was the burner.

 

Once he got dressed, Jimin went downstairs. One step at a time, his pace slowing down as he saw the chaos. Furniture was overturned. Glass was shattered, glittering on the floor like deadly snow. Blood smears traced the western wall, trailing across the floor and then out towards the hallway. Someone had been injured, and then dragged out.

 

Jimin sank down on the bottom step, puffy-eyed and shaking. His hand ran through his hair and his mind went through all the possible scenarios. Namjoon had been revealed to be a cop. Taehyung had killed Jungkook. Jungkook had killed Taehyung. Namjoon had killed Taehyung. Lisa had had too much to drink and gotten wieldy with her knife. None of them made sense.

 

The house was in the same state for every room, as if a massive search had gone down. The underground laboratories were locked, but everywhere else, it was utter destruction. The Wifi had been disabled, the phone lines were cut. There was nothing for it except to walk outside.

 

Seoul was overcast, grey in the sky, grey on the ground, grey everywhere. Jimin stood at the head of the driveway, hands interlaced in his hair as he looked around him. All the cars were still here, but there were skidding dirt marks, suggesting a few other cars had entered and then left in a hurry.  

 

He stood there, waiting. He knew something was going to happen eventually.

 

And it did.

 

The gates swung open, and a Mercedes rolled in, tyres crunching on the gravel. It stopped directly in front of the entrance steps at the top of which Jimin stood. The door slowly opened, revealing the luxurious cream interior of the car. Even without moving any closer, Jimin saw the red stain on the seat nearest to the door. And then, a gloved hand reached across, covering it. A hand clothed in lace.

 

Jimin’s body went slack.

 

“Christian Park. How lovely to finally meet you,” Mother said.

 

 

*

 

Trauma to the head was not so easily achieved. It was the first thing Namjoon had learned when a thief he was pursuing turned around and struck him with a tyre iron. It only took Namjoon a few seconds of reeling before he was good to continue chasing him. He caught the man and cuffed him, without back up, despite his head injury. A proud moment.

 

It was the first and only time he had been hit with a tyre iron and that perpetrator had been a scared twenty-one year old. The second time he was hit, well, he didn’t remember who had done it and when and that spoke to its severity.

 

He woke up, after god knew how long, with no idea of where he was and what had happened. His eyes wouldn’t open and blackness swallowed him whole A strange, floaty feeling surrounded his body, as if he was bobbing up and down. Namjoon mumbled under his breath, struggling to reach out and find something to hold onto. His body wasn’t touching anything. He was very aware of the awful feeling. There was a strange, calming pressure enveloping him but the lack of anything solid to touch was upsetting.

 

A flail of his hand and he found something metal, slim and vertical. His eyes refused to open, his head heavy with pain and fogginess. Namjoon focused on taking deep breaths, and only then did he become aware of the many other things that were wrong in this equation. There was something in his mouth, something pressed around his eyes. He panicked, scrabbling to eject the foreign objects, away from his body. The fear forced his eyes to open and his vision filled with a murky blue. Something hissed in his ear as he drew breath, and he glanced down.

 

He recognised what was attached to his mouth. It was an oxygen tank. His brain was working. He hadn’t been hit too hard. Namjoon’s relief was short lived, as his surroundings began to rapidly become more and more vivid. He had an oxygen tank attached to the tube in his mouth, goggles around his eyes and he was in some sort of tank with floor to ceiling bars.

 

And he was underwater.

 

The panic set in again, and he started to breathe harder. He had to remind himself repeatedly that the oxygen supply was limited. The tank was full, but he didn’t know how long he would be under. He couldn’t risk taking deep breaths. After several minutes of self-coaching, Namjoon calmed himself down.

 

Then, came the terrifying task of putting the pieces together.

 

He was underwater, attached to an oxygen tank, in a cage with a shaky lock (he had checked).

 

And somewhere in this large expanse, Mother’s shark swam free.

 

 

*

 

“You’re prettier than I remember,” Seokjin said.

 

Seokjin, not Mother. The gloves were just a shadow of her. He was dressed in an emerald suit, his hair swept back with a single lock falling in his eyes. He was even more stunning up close.

 

Jimin was slumped against the door and hadn’t said a word since he’d gotten into the car. Up ahead, the partition was closed, blocking the driver from hearing their conversation. Outside, the sky darkened fast as the lights of Seoul sparkled into a swirling medley of colour. Seokjin didn’t say anything after his greeting either, as if he was waiting for Jimin to say the first word.

 

And he did.

 

“Where’s Jungkook?” Jimin whispered, head thudding against the window as the car braked at a light.

 

“Jungkook is fine. It wasn’t his idea that you be drugged but he was eventually convinced after he learned the truth. He didn’t want to see your face, hear your explanations. He said he never wants to see you again and I intend to fulfil that wish for him.”

 

Jimin nodded, as if Kim Seokjin had merely told him the temperature outside. He wiped his eyes, as moisture leaked out. It was not from emotion. His eyes were just watery for some strange reason.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

“Taehyung is fine.”

 

“N-Namjoon?”

 

Seokjin said nothing to that. Jimin wasn’t sure what it was that he knew apart from his identity as the Parks’ son. There was no telling if he knew about Yoongi, about anything else. In some ways, a secret part of him almost wished that Seokjin knew everything. The tangled web of lies Jimin had woven around himself was suffocating. If this was how he would die, then so be it. He had failed. There was nothing more to say.

 

The car came to a stop in an abandoned parking lot. Jimin hadn’t even been focusing on where the drive was taking them. Seokjin got out, and without being told, Jimin followed. He regretted his decision not to wear a jacket immediately but made do with holding his arms close to his chest, shivering as he followed after Seokjin.

 

Shipping containers were stacked in all sizes and colours, but the one Seokjin was headed to was bright red and positioned in the centre of the lot. Two armed men appeared around the back, opening it when they saw their approach. It was slightly warmer inside, but fresh goose bumps began to raise on Jimin’s skin when he smelt the air. It was the unmistakeable metallic scent he had come to loathe so much.

 

The men joined them inside the container, switching on massive flashlights.

 

Jimin jumped at the sight, drawing away a few steps. One of the guards shoved him back forward. Strung up from the ceiling by thick, blood-soaked ropes, the pair of them hung like butchered meat in a slaughterhouse. They were slick with scarlet from head to toe, some pieces of their body flayed. Jimin retched as he saw lumps on the ground below them, bits of flesh hacked away messily. It was torture, so no doubt it had taken place whilst they were very much alive.

 

He knew the long curtain of black hair, with the blue streaks in the ends. Hwasa. Beside her, twirling slowly on the rope, was her husband, Ahn.

 

And at last, Jimin’s question was answered.

 

Seokjin knew everything.

 

The kingpin was watching him, a slight smile on his face as if he acknowledged that Jimin understood the significance of what he was seeing.

 

“How does that make you feel, Christian?” he said gently.

 

“My name’s not Christian,” Jimin said, before heaving again, as his empty stomach tried to throw something, anything, up. “It’s Jimin.”

 

“Mmm, but your mother named you Christian. You wouldn’t want to upset her, would you?” Seokjin tilted his head, batting his long eyelashes with a cartoonish look of tragedy.

 

“Is that what’s going to happen to me?” Jimin said, nodding towards the bodies.

 

“Taehyung did that, you know,” Seokjin said. “Right after he told me what those two were up to. And who they were embezzling my money for. That little fucker down in Busan certainly has long arms. And I intend to amputate them. Apparently, these two weren’t the only ones. Of course, there was you, and then there was Taehyung who is too precious to kill, and has switched sides. But Min Yoongi had plenty of other rats. My exterminators have been hard at work today.”

 

Seokjin laughed softly, the very thought of Taehyung making his eyes shine. Jimin shifted and his foot almost slipped. The floor of the container was covered in blood, and it made every step precarious. Seokjin on the other hand, walked as if he had no such problem. He descended the steps of the container, and Jimin shuffled behind after him, almost slipping at the first step.

 

“You must have seen something like this coming,” Seokjin said once they were back in the car. “Lying to everyone, including Jungkook who did nothing but love you. He killed my Trio for you, a fact I won’t easily forget, or forgive him for. But as I said, you must have seen this all unravelling, somehow.”

 

Jimin had. Not that he would admit it to the man beside him. His brain was moving a mile a minute, trying to figure out which thread had been pulled first. It had to be Taehyung. He knew about Ahn and Hwasa, and he knew just how to torture them to get the names of every last one of Yoongi’s men operating in Geomjeong-pa. Taehyung had been fine, with no indication that something was wrong that last night. He had difficulty hiding his emotions at the best of times, and this was one of those occasions. He could never have hidden something that was eating away at his thoughts that much.

 

He needs to know I’m still alive.

 

The writing on the wrinkled paper returned to his mind’s eye. No, it can’t be.

 

His mind said no, but his conscience tugged the other way. Jimin rubbed his hand over his face and felt a sweat break out on the back of his neck. Taehyung, what did you do? It didn’t matter to him if he had found out about Hoseok. What mattered to Jimin was that he had successfully turned one of the two most dangerous individuals in the South Korean underworld against him. Yoongi would not take this lightly. Up till now, Taehyung was double crossing one, and showing loyalty to another. Choosing a side was fatal.

 

Either way, Jimin knew he himself would be dead by the end of the night. It irritated him that his first thoughts of concern still went to the man who had butchered Hwasa in such a way he’d left her unrecognisable. A woman who had done him no wrong and was merely a product of circumstance.

 

“Where’s Namjoon?” Jimin asked.

 

Seokjin held up his lace-covered hand and inspected the ring glittering on his middle finger with a smirk. “You’re very concerned about him. What is he to you?”

 

Jimin wasn’t about to fall for the bait. “Where is he?”

 

“You know, we often get undercover cops rootling around in our business. They come with good hearts and a sense of justice, with little to no idea that they will never be promoted. The officers who do get promoted have their noses stuck so deep in the mafia’s ass, they lose the ability to smell anything but shit. One of them being Officer Kim’s sergeant. The man who had no idea who you were when he interviewed you. He still doesn’t know, but I bet his ugly face would seize up if he did.”

 

Jimin was sure Namjoon was dead by now. There had to be no other end for him. The sergeant would never allow him to return to the department and out him for his corruption. Taehyung had probably decimated him. There was no way in hell he would have gone easy on Namjoon, even if Hoseok had once been in the same position.

 

“You knew about Namjoon all along,” Jimin said quietly.

 

“I knew,” Seokjin admitted. “But I also knew he would make no headway. All the reports he was working on – and he worked diligently – were concealed by his superior the moment they dropped in his inbox. He had so much – information on sex rings, blackmail lists, individual counts of drug dealing each for Jungkook and his little band – everything, gone. Jungkook can be a trusting fool when he wants to be.”

 

“You said ‘was’. Namjoon’s dead,” Jimin stated flatly.

 

Seokjin pulled out his phone from his pocket. “Not exactly.” The screen flared to life and he set it between them on the seat. Jimin looked down.

 

He recognised what it was immediately, though he had never seen it for himself. Jungkook’s descriptions were vivid enough. The cameras fitted into the sides of the shark tank had one purpose only. To allow its owner to view the shark feasting from each and every angle. And now, the camera was trained on a lone cage. Inside, Namjoon was afloat, tied to an oxygen tank. Occasionally, he’d twitch, as he heard a sound somewhere in the distance. It couldn’t have been the shark, but it was enough to make him look scared, a rare expression on his face. Jimin felt his heart rise in his throat and tears sprang to his eyes. When his gaze met Seokjin’s, the other was smiling again. He took a quiet, suppressed sort of joy in watching the pain on his face.

 

“The cage is rusty. The bolts are coming loose. He doesn’t have long you know,” Seokjin murmured. “And his bandages were removed. His head wound is bleeding. She knows there’s a feast awaiting her. She’s just biding her time – “

 

Jimin let out a soft cry of surprise, that lapsed into a sob of fear as darkness streaked past the camera lens. The sobs wouldn’t stop as he saw the shark swirl through the water around the cage, swimming in perfect circles. She nudged it, and he heard the crackling audio of Namjoon’s terrified gasp. It was all set up to be a snuff film.

 

“You can save him, you know,” Seokjin said, his voice softer than ever. The fact that his voice was lowering, and becoming more gentle with each word was riling Jimin up. It was like jagged glass on his nerves and he didn’t think he could stand much more. “You can do this one last favour for me, to drive the message in for Min Yoongi, that he is trying to play in Geomjeong-pa territory and falling short. If you do it successfully, I will have Namjoon removed from the cage. Of course, he’ll be fired from the department, but he’ll be alive. That’s what matters to you doesn’t it, Christian?”

 

Did it matter? No, not really. But if he was going to die, better to make it worthwhile. He had failed everything else. It was like those video games Taehyung was obsessed with. Except even without cheat codes, Jimin had managed to skip a few hundred levels and been thrown into the boss fight with no warning whatsoever. But it still wasn’t adding up.

 

Seokjin was an unreliable narrator, and yet everything he told Jimin about the last 40 hours seemed to make sense. It would have helped if Jimin was allowed to see visual proof other than Namjoon trapped in a fight for his life.

 

“I’ll do whatever you want. Just let him go,” Jimin said, with as much conviction as possible. If his voice came out unsure, he knew Seokjin would order for the cage to be opened. He had to believe in Jimin’s complete desire to save Namjoon otherwise the cop was as good as dead.

 

“Wonderful. I was hoping you’d say that.” Seokjin reached under his seat and the sound of a keypad made itself heard. His hand disappeared under the seat and he drew out a submachine gun. Jimin’s heart plummeted. He recognised the make. Heckler and Koch MP5, German make, 100 round drum magazine. A weapon of handheld mass destruction if ever there was one. “I can’t really do to Min Yoongi what I want. I can’t have Taehyung open him up and dissect him whilst he’s still alive. But what I can do, is have you send him a short, but sweet message.”

 

He flung the gun across the back seat and Jimin caught it just in time. Shivers ran through him, making the hair on the back of his neck stand. It was heavy in his hands, far heavier than it looked.

 

“You’ll find a backpack in the compartment under your seat. There’s a wireless earpiece inside. Put it in.”

 

Jimin did everything as he was instructed. The earpiece flashed blue when he put it in and Namjoon’s laboured breathing battered at his eardrum.

 

“A little encouragement,” Seokjin explained, as the car came to a stop. Up above, the lights of the Blue Tails Casino rose into the sky. They were in Mapo-gu. The casino was Yong Geondal owned and sat atop a luxury shopping mall that was open 24/7. Established in 1943 during the Japanese Occupation, it was essentially a speakeasy, hosting the meeting of revolutionaries and other fugitives. Now, it was nothing more than a hedonistic playground for the rich and bored, and it was a Friday. It would be packed to the rafters.

 

Jimin instinctively knew what Seokjin wanted. It was the age-old way of sending a ‘message’. No matter which country it was, when civil war broke out between gangs, it was a thunderstorm of bullets and blood until one gave in. This war had only just begun, and he was to be the catalyst.

 

 “There is doubt on your face,” Seokjin said softly. “Why? Have you never shot a gun before?”

 

He was watching Jimin with a coquettish tilt of his head. Mother’s persona was coming through, which was a proving to be far more terrifying to look at. Jimin zipped the bag shut slowly, his hands shaking.

 

“I’ve never really, killed anyone, before,” Jimin stammered.

 

“Never really? You’ve just tortured people before have you? But no, I doubt that. Your hands…” Seokjin reached over and took one of Jimin’s hand in his own, stroking his thumb over the palm. “They’re too soft. The hands of a rich boy. I remember your mother had lovely hands. She was sort of an idol for me, you know. I didn’t have a mother growing up and when Mrs Park entered our lives, I was entranced. Such a lovely creature. Almost helps me understand what Jungkook sees in you, though you are but a shadow of her loveliness.”

 

“Don’t make me do this,” Jimin said. “Torture me. Hurt me as much as you want for your revenge. But don’t make me kill them. There aren’t just Yong Geondal men in there.”

 

“Why ever would I want revenge on you, sweet child?” Seokjin seemed genuinely surprised. “You’re but a cog in the wheel. I don’t care that you are the Parks’ son. You’re worth nothing. It’s the Busan spider whose web I want to destroy. None of this is about you. It’s about Min Yoongi. Don’t flatter yourself. Now pick up that bag and go inside.”

 

Jimin didn’t move. Seokjin sighed, as if he had expected this, and reached for his phone. He turned off the livestream briefly to call someone.

 

“Shoot him in the leg.”

 

“What are you – “ Jimin’s panicked words were cut off as the back of Seokjin’s hand struck him across the face. He tasted blood on his tongue, his head ringing and cheekbone thrumming with heat.

 

The video was back. At first, nothing happened. And then a thin white cloud zipped towards Namjoon, like the trail left by a plane in the sky. Jimin jumped as he heard Namjoon’s cry of agony and his body jerked. A plume of red clouded from his right thigh, and in the background of the video, the shark streaked past once more, a menacing, streamlined blur.

 

“It doesn’t take her long to be driven into a blood frenzy,” Seokjin said, tongue licking over his canine teeth. He stared at the screen, a half smile forming as the shark slammed into the tank. It was its first real attack directly on the cage. She knew what was inside. It took her half a minute to circle back and strike at it again. Namjoon was hyperventilating, yelling out in terror every time Cersei slammed the cage. “Jimin, I suggest you get a move on. Alternatively, you can let the cop die, you can die, and those people in there die anyway because I’ll send someone else. At least in this scenario, one person survives.”

 

“How do I know you’ll release him?” Jimin said, his legs shaking as he tried to swallow down the bile in his throat. It burned like acid.

 

“Because you will return here once you’ve done your job. And I will show you video proof of his survival. If you don’t get moving in the next fifteen seconds, his other leg gets shot.”

 

Jimin shoved open the door and dragged the bag out with him. The street was crowded with clubbers, in various states of drunkenness. No one paid attention to him, everyone pushed past, not caring to focus on anything but their own worldly worries. He heard laughter and screaming and chattering in one ear, and Namjoon’s frightened groans in the other. His vision began to merge into a swift, terrifying cacophony of colours and lights and people with no faces. He had nothing in his system to keep him going – he hadn’t eaten in the last 40 hours – but he forced himself to walk.

 

Jimin stopped at the entrance to the elevators in the mall, frozen in place by the sound of Namjoon’s muffled scream and the loud slam of the cage. Jimin walked into the elevator before he had any time to doubt himself. Namjoon was closer to dying by the minute. That was all he had to think about. All the way up, he tried to imagine what Taehyung felt before he was about to kill. What went through his head to make him so calm?

 

Jimin closed his eyes and envisioned mosaics over strangers’ faces, blurring out their individual features. The sound of the gun would drown out most of the screaming and his target wasn’t a single one in particular. He could close his eyes and do a span of the room whilst keeping his fingers taut against the trigger.

 

Namjoon called for his mother, and it was all Jimin could do not to cry. He bent down, and shoved his face into the bag, screaming at the top of his lungs. He straightened once it was all out, breathless and red-eyed, as the elevator bell rang. He wiped his eyes and slung the bag over one shoulder.

 

The corridor going down to the casino entrance was gold, paved with red carpet and lined by low hanging chandeliers. Two guards stood outside the doors, the raucous explosion of the noise in the casino sealed behind them. Jimin knew he would be stopped before he even got close.

 

“ID,” one of them said.

 

“Don’t I look older than nineteen?” Jimin said dully.

 

They exchanged glances, and it was clear they had made up their mind. “Piss off, kid,” the bigger one grunted, resuming his position by the door.

 

Jimin twitched as the cage was slammed again.

 

“If I show you proof of the money in my bag that I’m probably going to end up gambling away tonight, would you still let me in?” he said.

 

The other one laughed and nodded. “Go ahead, kiddo. Show us the money. Maybe if you’re nice about it, we’ll let you keep half of it and walk away without getting your pretty face beat.”

 

Jimin nodded, and slowly set the bag on the ground so that it wouldn’t create the tell-tale thud sound. He glanced up to see their hands were still safely away from their hidden holsters. And then he opened the bag wider and yanked out the gun.

 

The racket was loud but extremely short. The two men dropped like bowling pins and no one inside was any the wiser. Jimin didn’t pause to look at their fallen bodies. He knew he would start retching and hesitate. Namjoon had gone quiet in his ear, but the shark was still trying to batter down the cage. It was gnawing at it now; at least Jimin guessed that was what the awful metallic, grating sound was.

 

He would walk in and open fire and Seokjin would hear it. And then it was up to his mercy if he decided to order the cage’s removal from the tank there and then or wait for Jimin to return and waste more precious time.

 

The inherent horror of the situation led Jimin to disassociate. Perhaps that was why his body went on autopilot, guiding him through almost as if he were drifting through a video game, with fake victims. Jimin’s shoe hit the doors, kicking them open as he palmed the underside of the submachine gun with his other hand.

 

3…

 

He saw faces, smiles faltering, the voices closest to him fading out.

 

…2…

 

He saw faces of people who were innocent and really didn’t deserve it. People who had children to go home to.

 

…1…

 

Three men in suits pushed through the crowd, headed right towards him, their hands going for their holsters.

 

Jimin pulled the trigger and the world shattered.

 

He closed his eyes halfway through out of the sheer need to avoid flying splinters from the poker tables. Everything seemed to have lost the pull of gravity and was in mid-air. Bodies dove down, left and right, his was the only one that remained upright. The gun was stronger than he had imagined. The 100 rounds were going a long way. It was an eternity before the gun stopped thrashing in his hands and fell still. Through the ringing in his ears, Jimin heard the alarms going off in the rest of the building.

 

He didn’t pause to survey anything. He turned and ran.

 

Once he had thrown the gun in his bag, and descended the first flight of steps, he blended in with the panicked shoppers who were trying to escape the building. Sirens wailed in the near distance as the cold night air hit Jimin’s burning skin. He practically ran back to the Mercedes which still sat exactly where he’d left it, though police cars were pulling up all around. Seokjin really did not care about being found out in the slightest.

 

“Release him,” Jimin panted, as soon as he closed the car door.

 

Seokjin laughed under his breath, as he swirled a glass of champagne in his other hand and held out his phone. The cage was gone but there was still blood clouding the water. “He’s going to wake up to the biggest shock of his life when he regains consciousness,” Seokjin said, “Perhaps he won’t want to live at all after he finds out.”

 

Jimin said nothing, fingers clutching at his sweat-drenched hair. He was trying to breathe deeply to calm himself, but the adrenaline still had a terrible hold on him. The numbing blankness of firing across the span of the room was giving way to flashes of recollection. People in the darkness that exploded with blood. He had killed more innocents than the average mobster did in his entire career. Civilian collateral damage was avoided in the Seoul underworld. What Jimin had done could essentially be termed terrorism.

 

“When I looked up, I saw people falling like dominoes. I don’t know if I should congratulate you or the sublime make of the gun. You can never go wrong with an mp5.”

 

“When are you going to kill me?” Jimin’s voice was barely a croaked whisper.

 

“I’m not,” Seokjin said, placing a delicate hand on his chest as if the very idea was scandalous. “I don’t want to be responsible for killing the son of a lady I loved so dearly.”

 

“Then what was all of this? Aren’t you going to punish me for double-crossing you?” Jimin said.

 

“Darling, you misunderstand. You didn’t double-cross me. I wasn’t even aware you were in Seoul, or that you were even alive. I’m not the one you wronged.”

 

Jimin sat up straighter as the car rolled to a stop again. It had only been five minutes. They were at Mapo police station and it was devoid of squad cars, most of the active duty officers having rushed to the disaster at Blue Tails as soon as the 119 calls began pouring in. The lights flooded down onto the front steps through the glass doors, a few secretaries hurrying about inside.

 

“It was wonderful meeting you, Christian. I would have liked to get to know you further, but alas, life gets in the way.” Seokjin reached out, placing his hand on Jimin’s hair in an almost affectionate manner. He stroked it briefly, his smile a little subdued, and then Jimin heard the locks click open. A clear signal to get out. He removed the bag off his feet, taking out his earpiece and throwing it inside, before opening the door.

 

Even as Jimin started thinking about how this was a trick, that Seokjin definitely had someone on his trail preparing to take him out, the driver’s side of the Mercedes opened.

 

“Jimin.”

 

He turned, his knees going weak at the sound of the familiar voice. The driver’s face was covered by a hat and glasses, but even before he removed them, Jimin knew who it was.

 

Taehyung ruffled his hair flat against his head and then lifted it, dark eyes zoning in on the young man standing at the bottom of the station steps. He started to walk closer, and on instinct, Jimin backed away, but in this case, it meant ascending the steps, one at a time until he was halfway up. Taehyung stopped at the bottom, still staring at him with that unsettling calm on his face.

 

“How many secrets can one man keep before he implodes?” Taehyung asked.

 

Jimin automatically knew what he was talking about, without needing to question him.

 

“I was going to tell you,” he said. “I just didn’t have the courage to. Not right then.”

 

Taehyung smiled crookedly, the expression not reaching his eyes. “I don’t believe you. You weren’t planning on telling me about your parents either if I hadn’t found out. Did you not have the ‘courage’ to tell me then?”

 

“Taehyung – “

 

You didn’t tell me that you’d known Jungkook before you came to Busan. The little shit who took out the Trio on his own – you didn’t have the courage to tell me you knew him?”

 

“I’m sorry – “

 

“No, you’re not. You have the face of an angel, you act like a submissive, and you’ve got the mind of a fucking spider. Everywhere, all at once, wrapping webs around everything you touch because you’re too fucking scared to trust anyone. But what gets me, is that you lied to me. You knew I’d have to kill you for it, but you lied to me anyway.”

 

Jimin sank down on the step, feeling his head loll with dizziness. He pressed his palms to his eyes, trying not to let out a scream of frustration.

 

“You were on his side all along. Made out as if you weren’t, as if you hated him, but you were licking Min Yoongi’s ass all along,” Taehyung laughed in disbelief. “What it is about him that you trusted? He’s more powerful than me? He’s richer than I am? I know he calls me an attack dog behind my back, is that what you think I am? A rabid bitch passed from one owner to the next?”

 

“No,” Jimin insisted, “No, no, no, if you’d just let me – “

 

“Nah, you don’t get to talk!” Taehyung snarled.

 

Jimin shut his mouth, his eyes starting to well up.

 

“Talking is all you’re good at anyway,” Taehyung sneered. “You’re weak, so all you do is talk your way out of tight corners. But for the sake of argument, let me hear it from your own mouth – what was it that you didn’t have the courage to tell me that night?”

 

Jimin pressed his sleeves over his mouth, blowing in them to heat up his hands and face. Taehyung’s mouth was twisted into a bitter smirk, that succinct little expression that hammered the final nail in Jimin’s coffin.

 

“I found out Hoseok was alive that day,” Jimin breathed out. “I didn’t know who he was or what he was to you. Everything I found out, I discovered on that day, I swear. I would have told you eventually.”

 

“No, you wouldn’t have, you’re lying again,” Taehyung said.

 

I wouldn’t have. Jimin knew he was right. He would have woken in the morning with a clear head and realised the negatives of Taehyung finding out. Seokjin would lose an executioner, and Yoongi would get a reason to put a bullet in Jimin’s head.  He wouldn’t have told him, and the truth was written all over his face for Taehyung to see and know he was proved right.

 

“How’d you find out then?” Jimin said tiredly, throwing his arms out as he stood. He really didn’t give a shit anymore. Everything was torn to the ground already. He had killed dozens of people tonight and he had no room left to care about anything.

 

Taehyung shrugged, slowly drawing up the stairs towards him. “I had a feeling before yesterday. I’d heard a voice in the background once, when I was still talking to Yoongi regularly and I thought it was in my head, but it wasn’t. And then your burner phone rang at 4am that morning. Guess you forgot to bin the battery, huh?”

 

Jimin shrugged and smiled wearily, shifting from one foot to the other. It was cold. And there were tears drying on his cheeks, ready to be replaced with fresh ones. He wanted to spend his last hours somewhere warm.

 

“He was panicked, could only talk in whispers. He’s on his way up to Seoul now. Told me he was escaping Busan and coming up to find me. Said Yoongi was keeping secrets that he couldn’t just tell me over the phone, he needed to see me face-to-face. And then – “ Taehyung wagged his finger, laughing a little, “- then he tells me you knew. He met you. I didn’t think twice after that.”

 

You shot me up with the drug?” Jimin raised his eyebrows.

 

Taehyung shook his head. “I knew I would have killed you in a fit of rage. I woke Jungkook up and forced him to do it. Held a gun to his head and took him to the lab, told him to find the best one for the job and jab you up with it. And then I called Mother and told her everything. The rest you probably know.”

 

“So – what – you really are just Mother’s bitch now? Not Yoongi’s? Maybe I didn’t peg you wrong after all,” Jimin retorted. He spoke with the valour of a man who was doomed to die. To face someone as dangerous as Kim Taehyung and speak in such a manner was liberating.

 

“I left Yoongi behind the day he invited you into our bed,” Taehyung said, closing the last of the distance between them until he was on the step directly below Jimin. Close enough to reach out and grab his throat and squeeze the life out of him. “That was our thing. Me, Hoseok and Yoongi. He replaced Hoseok with such ease, put you in his position and acted like it was nothing.

 

“Yeah, well, you were real good at acting like you didn’t want me there,” Jimin muttered into his collar.

 

“Everyone else's emotional capacity is shallow to you, isn’t it?” Taehyung’s voice lowered until it was a livid growl, and his hand came up to grab the side of Jimin’s head. Here we go, Jimin thought, bracing himself. The man had no weapons, so it was bound to be good old strangulation. An intimate way to go, by all accounts.

 

“What are you trying to say? You like me?” Jimin smirked. As he breathed, the air from his lungs fogged mid-air, mingling with Taehyung’s. Jimin dragged his teeth across his lower lip, releasing it softly. Taehyung’s eyes drifted down to watch just like he had predicted they would. Not that it mattered.

 

He heard something click but he didn’t look down to see what. He couldn’t tear his gaze away from Taehyung’s eyes. They were honey brown in the light streaming from the station windows. The touch of his hand was gentle now, as it slid around to the back of Jimin’s neck, pulling his head down. Jimin kissed him back with all his might, the fresh tears finally falling. But no sobs came with them. Just silence, during which they kissed, and the world melted into nothingness. Taehyung was the first to pull away, but not enough to keep their foreheads from touching. He was smiling, a mindless, almost dazed expression as his eyes took in every last detail of Jimin’s face.

 

“I don’t like you,” he said.

 

“No?” Jimin whispered, giggling a little.

 

“I love you, nightingale. Not that it matters.”

 

And then the knife went in.

 

The interesting thing about fatal wounds was that the pain did not immediately make itself felt. There was a feeling of intrusion, as the foreign object invaded his body, but nothing else to go with it. And then, the switches of awareness were flicked back on, one by one.

 

Jimin almost moved in to kiss him again, as if nothing was wrong, until he tasted the copper in his mouth. Followed by the sudden flare of agony that spread from his chest, taking over his nervous system. He coughed, trying to clear his throat of the coppery taste, and when he did, blood speckled Taehyung’s collar.

 

Taehyung lowered him gently, as gently as if he were putting a child to bed. But there was no pillow under Jimin’s head. Just cold, hard stone, and the steps digging into him as his body went slack from the pain. That awful, shrieking, white-hot throbbing that was making it harder and harder to breathe.

 

His vision started to become wavy and it was blurring out Taehyung’s face. Jimin blinked, trying to correct it so he could see him properly. But then he disappeared, and there was nothing but sky. A black, velvet expanse dotted with pinpricks of white and blue. Hundreds and hundreds of stars.

 

Mommy, the stars are so pretty…

 

They are, aren’t they? Would you like to play with them?

 

Yes please!

 

One day, you and I are going to dance among the stars, Jimin-ah.

 

When Mommy? I wanna dance now.

 

You’ll know when the time comes, baby. You’ll just know.

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

A puddle of piss shimmered around the base of the chair. The man strapped to it was shuddering, and every jerk of his body sent ripples through the golden pool. It was a typical cellar room, straight out of a horror movie, complete with the lone dangling bulb in the centre. Blueish white light illuminated the seated victim, casting the rest of the room in an impenetrable shadow.

 

“P-please, I don’t know anything. I’m not working for Min Yoongi, I would never, I swear, I’m Geomjeong-pa – “ he wheezed.

 

“Shut up or you get your face washed in your own piss,” Taehyung answered, scratching the paint off the handle of a staple gun.

 

“My eyes hurt – please make this stop – I didn’t do anything!” the young man shrieked, going into hysterics.

 

His name was Choi Minsung and he had done absolutely nothing wrong. But his father had, and he’d gotten away with it. Taehyung had managed to weed out the last of the Yong Geondal plants except for Choi Hong Jun, the most important one of all. He had met the man before, one of Yoongi’s ex-enforcers, with a reputation for being one of the most dangerous hitmen operating internationally. His was the first name Taehyung had given to Mother, knowing it was imperative to catch him before he slipped through the cracks. For a hitman, he was deeply mired in gang politics, and Taehyung suspected he wanted to retire, hence the lack of international plane-hopping to gain new clients. Hong Jun’s involvement with Yong Geondal was the straightest route to a relatively peaceful retirement for an assassin with a formidable body count.

 

Choi Minsung was the next logical target, and there was no ransom demand or call for the elder Choi to hand himself over. Minsung just had to die, as painfully as possible, whilst a camera was rolling. Daddy dearest would see his son’s agonising final moments and hopefully have the urge to take out the man who had done it. He would come out of hiding and Taehyung would deal with him when he took the bait.

 

At least, that was the plan.

 

Jungkook walked in halfway through, dressed in a suit, pretentious, young and chest puffed out as usual. But his eyes were reddened and so was his right cheek. Taehyung could almost see the trace of Mother’s gloved hand against his pale skin. Jungkook had tailed Taehyung for the last three days, much to the older man’s irritation. The younger was somehow convinced Taehyung knew what the cops had done with Jimin’s body.

 

The news was still on a 24/7 circulation, reporting the Blue Tails tragedy as domestic terrorism, though they never named any particular group that they suspected was behind it. The Blue House did not want to admit they couldn’t control the growing spread of gang culture, and the public did not want to accept it. The media drew the veil in between.

 

“When is this going to be over?” Jungkook yawned, fixing his cuffs and propping one leg over the other. “If I’d known you were just going to let him sit there and piss himself, I would have passed. This is what Mother considers her prized enforcer? She should have had you put down with the rest of the Yong Geondal scum.”

 

“Shut up – “

 

“It should have been you, not Jimin. He never hurt anybody, he was just trying to stay afloat – “

 

“I told you to shut up – “

 

“He deserves to be alive, not killed by a low pedigree son of a bitch like you – “

 

“I WILL FUCKING CRUCIFY YOU AND FEED YOU YOUR OWN TONGUE!” Taehyung roared, slamming the gun down so hard, the table tipped dangerously.

 

Jungkook’s mouth closed, but the anger on his face twisted it, making his features almost ugly in the bad lighting. His fist was clenched and shaking on his knee, as was Taehyung’s around the gun. Never had two people wanted to destroy each other so badly. Taehyung loaded the staple gun, going over to Minsung with his eyes still on Jungkook.

 

“No – no – stop – please, please, please, I won’t say another word!” Minsung sobbed, rocking back and forth. Taehyung steadied him with a firm hand on his head and tilted it back.

 

“You said your eyes hurt. Let’s see what we can do about that, Mr Choi.” His voice assumed an unsettlingly calm tone, like that of a doctor about to perform a surgery on an anxious patient. He tugged on Minsung’s top eyelid, stretching it back and stapling it open. Minsung took a deep breath and let out a scream, his mother’s name tangled up in there somewhere. Taehyung promptly stapled the other eyelid before he had a chance to draw breath again.

 

Jungkook’s frown lessened a little.

 

“This isn’t personal. We just need your Daddy to understand what betrayal feels like,” Taehyung told him, with a quick pat to the cheek.

 

“Stopstopstopstop – pleaaaassseeee gooooddddd!!” His screams turned to wails of pathetic pleading. Minsung called for God, but Taehyung was the only god in that room and he was not merciful. Minsung strained against his cuffs, and had the chair not been nailed to the ground, he would have keeled backwards.

 

“Hate to inform you but that’s not the worst of the pain. Save your breath to give a real loud scream for your God. You know, so he hears you all the way up there, where he has no intention of helping. Guess being stapled to a cross just the one time was enough.”

 

“He was nailed,” Jungkook interjected in his sullen little voice.

 

“This isn’t theology class. My threat of crucifixion still stands, so I suggest you shut your mouth before I staple it shut myself.” Taehyung lifted an ice pick with a stainless-steel handle and double checked the battery on the camera. Still 70%. He peeked into the lens, his dark eyes filling up the screen and said, “This one’s for you Daddy Choi. You did this to him. Remember that. Let it be the last thing you think of when you die. You did this to the little boy you helped create.”

 

Minsung’s eyes were rolling, tears dripping ceaselessly as the air stung their sensitive surface. He kept stuttering “P-p-p-please – Omma – p-p-p-please –“

 

“Sssshh,” Taehyung comforted him, stroking his cheek. “You’ll be with her soon. Now be a good boy and scream really loud for this next bit.”

 

He had never performed a lobotomy before, and only knew vaguely the troubled history behind the procedure relating to mental patients. None of that concerned him. He fiddled around with the ice pick, as Minsung made grunting, squeaking sounds, his throat closing up. He was choking on his own saliva. Taehyung winced as he felt the ice pick hit bone, and then something decisively soft. Brain. Skull-Crusher was a good enough name for what he used to do, but that had always been in the heat of the battle. He had never experienced someone’s brain so intimately, had never felt its spongy texture and the give it had when he pushed against it. Minsung’s fingers clawed at the chair arms as he gurgled.

 

His voice rose higher in pitch and suddenly it was Jimin tied to the chair, his pretty eyelids bloodied and mangled. It was Jimin’s piss that made the air reek and it was his bloodied nails clawing at the wood. Taehyung dropped the ice pick by accident, and before he could scrabble to pick it up, it fell into the liquid mess on the floor. He grimaced, getting up and walking back. He blinked a couple times, shook his head and smacked the side of it as he tried to get Jimin’s hallucination out of it. Minsung’s face kept morphing into him, like a retro TV switching unsuccessfully between channels.

 

“Want me to do it?” Jungkook said, getting up.

 

“You – sit,” Taehyung grunted, pointing at him, and slowly, he did as he was told. But there was definite pleasure in his eyes at seeing the Skull-Crusher so shaken. It was clear Jungkook didn’t know exactly what had rattled Taehyung so, but he was enjoying it anyway.

 

Taehyung reached into his pocket and walked behind Minsung. He turned towards the camera and pulled out a gun. He put it to the boy’s head and shot him clean through. Brain matter exploded and Minsung’s skull came apart like an egg shell. Jungkook was flabbergasted.

 

“What did you do? You ruined it!” he yelled like a spoiled child. “Why did you chicken out?!”

 

Taehyung didn’t answer, went over to the camera and turned it off. He pulled out the memory card and put it in his pocket, before flipping the screen shut. He caught sight of bloodied flesh tissue on his thumb and stared at it for a moment, as if he had never seen the insides of a man’s head before. But then, he flicked it off and got to cleaning up the steel implements on the table, wiping each one off and sliding it into the case.

 

Jungkook’s hands were wrapped in his hair, the skin on his temples stretching back. He looked genuinely devastated to have his entertainment cut short. Taehyung slammed the case shut and slid a pair of red aviator glasses over his eyes, glove clenching around the case handle. The air stank of blood and human waste. He heard Jungkook say something, but it slipped through one ear and left out the other. He didn’t want to hear Jungkook say another word for the rest of his fucking life. He wanted Jungkook’s tongue nail gunned to the wall, creating abstract art in scarlet as it dripped blood.

 

As abstract as Jimin’s bleeding heart painting the police station steps.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Namjoon woke screaming.

 

He was uncontrollable for ten minutes, during which it took three burly men to hold him down as a doctor stabbed him with an injection to calm him down. But it wasn’t enough to send him to sleep again. He was still aware of his surroundings, frothing at the mouth, and wholly unable to move or talk. His eyes rolled in his skull, like a frantic horse about to be put down. It took a while before the bed stopped juddering with the force of his convulsions.

 

A soft slither of skirts sounded in his ears and he tried to twist his head to see. He already knew who it was. The smell of her perfume clogged up his brain like toffee hardening in the cracks of a drain. Namjoon’s fingers curled around the sheets.

 

“I was beginning to think you wouldn’t wake,” Mother said softly.

 

Namjoon heard a terrified whimper and realised it had come from him. Mother lifted the bottom of the bedsheets, tilting her head.

 

“Oh, they took the whole leg away,” she murmured.

 

Namjoon straight up screamed, lapsing into ugly sobs of terror. Mother laughed, more of a giggle really, and patted his thigh. “Relax. I was only having a little fun. You still have both your lovely legs.” She covered them with the sheets and sighed, squeezing his big toe and releasing it with a whistle. “You know, you’re the only person to have been pulled out of that shark tank since it was created. One might say you made history.”

 

Namjoon tried to ask her if she was going to kill him but could only froth at the mouth. Whatever they had pumped him with had not been carefully dosed at all, but it wasn’t as if he could do shit about it. However, Mother seemed to sense the nature of his inquiry just by the way his hands strained at the sheets.

 

“You won’t die,” Mother explained. “I have come to the conclusion that you are of better use alive. Jungkook speaks highly of you.”

 

It made no sense. Either this was a lie as part of some psychological torture before he was slaughtered like a sitting duck. Or something was wrong back at the station and Mother had no reason to be afraid of the reports he had been sending to his sergeant on a regular basis. The latter seemed far too frightening an option to explore. Namjoon had always heard whispers of extreme corruption poisoning the police force in Seoul as a whole, but it was always other precincts, never his own.

 

“Your life was saved by an unlikely source. I believe you know of Park Jimin,” Mother continued, trailing a delicate finger over her bottom lip. “He saved you by killing dozens of others. It’s the only reason I kept you alive afterwards, you know. To see you live with the guilt of knowing what your life cost. Jimin is dead, so he won’t be feeling anything and where’s the fun in that?”

 

Dozens of lives. Jimin dead. The facts sped through his brain and still, ended with the gaping maw of Cersei as she bore down on him. Namjoon’s breath caught in his throat as his head filled with the terrible grinding noises her teeth had made against the cage. He stopped struggling against the drug and gave into its stifling hold. Jimin is dead. An incredible surge of grief tightened his throat. The last memory of Jimin he had…he didn’t have one really. It was all a whirling rush of madness and the only thing Namjoon could remember was promising the young man he would get him out of this world somehow.

 

“Jungkook wants you back at his side. He is very forgiving of you,” Mother explained. “He turned out to be a foolish, emotional little boy after all. He cried over Jimin for three days before he was finally able to look me in the eye. He is a pathetic shadow of his mother, a far stronger woman, but then again, I suppose it’s partly my fault for sheltering him. Regardless – “ Mother stood up to open the blinds, revealing the pitch black night sky outside. No sound of traffic, no orange streetlights filtering in. This was no hospital though the room gave that impression with its clinical design. Namjoon was still in Mother’s condo and somewhere below, the shark swam. A cold sweat broke out on his forehead and he bit his lip to keep from screaming again. “ – you will behave yourself. Otherwise, I will strap you to a bomb and have you blow yourself up in the vicinity of an enemy of my choosing. I’m starting to like that method of execution, you see.”

 

Mother walked around the other side of the bed, until she towered over Namjoon. A gloved hand reached down to stroke his sweat-soaked hair off his forehead. Her lips quirked into a smile, eyes lighting up, and she bent down to kiss his cheek.  “Brave,” she whispered, in a tenderly mocking tone. “Brave, brave, brave little boy. What a shame it is, that it had to end for you like this. Sleep tight. You’ve got tough times ahead of you, darling.”

 

She left and the door was deadbolted, the shadow of the guard’s pacing feet outside lulling Namjoon back into the arms of his shark-infested nightmares.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Noise. And so much of it, it drowned out the pain in his chest.

 

Not pain. Agony.

 

It was a peripheral ink blot at first, spreading through his system as Jimin breathed. He was cursing inside his head, caught in the murky plane between consciousness and drugged up sleep. His rattling attempts to breathe alerted his caretaker. Jimin felt a pair of large, calloused hands brush against his bare arm and then his shirt was being pulled up.

 

“Time to change your dressing, son.”

 

The voice sounded familiar. He had heard that gravelly intonation before. Jimin coughed, and instantly went taut as the pain nearly paralysed him. He was pretty sure he was crying by the time he finally let out the breath he was holding. The man was quiet, busily removing the bandages over his chest in order to replace them. Jimin focused his energy on prising his eyelids apart, until he managed to blink through the gunk and tears gluing his lashes together. It didn’t make much of a difference. It was dark, and the only light came from the business end of a failing flashlight.

 

He became more aware of the constant jolting and vibrations running through his body. They were moving, and fast. The flashlight rocked and his companion’s face was half illuminated. Jimin wheezed, trying not to take too deep a breath as the man’s hands worked with the new bandage. He simply stared at him until his features clicked into place.

 

“Choi Hong Jun…”

 

At the sound of his name, Choi looked up, arched a brow and snipped off the excess bandage. He looked like pure shit. He was pale, covered in sweat and his usually immaculate suit had been replaced by a workman’s overalls. He had bruises on his cheekbone and one of his eyes was swollen. Jimin remembered Ahn introducing him as one of Yoongi’s most prized hitmen and a frequent freelancer for Geomjeong-pa. He sold his wares as most hitmen did, however he also held loyalties to Yong Geondal, a highly unusual position for someone of his stature to be in. It didn’t take Jimin long to understand why he would be here in this cramped space with him.

 

“You escaped,” he rasped.

 

Hong Jun scoffed, and the sound was dead flat. “Sure. I escaped.”

 

“Where are we?”

 

“In the back of a freight train.”

 

“Going where?”

 

“Busan.”

 

Chills ran down Jimin’s spine. Followed immediately by relief. Busan was indeed the safest place for him to be. Yoongi was the safest source of refuge. The heat was starting to become suffocating and Jimin wished he would faint again. But the pain in his chest had lessened and there was no chance of it knocking him out.  

 

“Water,” he croaked, reaching out in a futile attempt to feel for a bottle. His fingers hit wood and then Hong Jun slipped him a flask. Once he had drunk enough to clear his foggy thoughts a little, Jimin let his head fall back on the folded up coat which was serving as a makeshift pillow. He was naked from the waist up except for the bandages. “How did I get here?”

 

Hong Jun took a swig of water and wiped his mouth before answering. “Found you on the Mapo station steps. I was at the Blue Tails casino when you started firing. Knew it wasn’t done of your own volition – you didn’t even open your eyes - and followed Mother’s car to the precinct. I watched Kim stab you and went to collect your corpse before the cops could. Except you weren’t dead.”

 

Jimin gingerly brushed his chest, almost too afraid, in case he managed to feel the wound left by the intruding knife. It felt like a gigantic bruise, except it hurt far more than any bruise ever could.

 

I love you, nightingale. Not that it matters.

 

“I should have died,” Jimin murmured. The darkness in his vision was lulling him into a stupor, encouraged by the steady movement of the train.

 

Hong Jun clicked his tongue. “Kim isn’t that careless. If he meant for you to die, you would have.”

 

“He really fucking wanted me dead, you have no idea – “

 

“He stabbed you in such a way that he missed your heart and all the major arteries on purpose. To do that with such precision, you’d have to have a working anatomical knowledge. The sort of knowledge which is part of the average hitman’s modus operandi. You survived because he wanted you to.”

 

Jimin said nothing.

 

“Stabbed you hard enough that you’ll be in a lot of pain for a few days though,” Hong Jun continued. “Wonder why he let you go.”

 

He said it casually, but the implication was heavy. He wanted to know. But Jimin wasn’t about to reveal the truth of their relationship to a stranger. Homophobia was the least of his worries just then.

 

“We were friends until he turned tail and ran to Mother’s side,” he explained. “Guess he let me live for old times’ sake.”

 

“Or he seemed to think you don’t pose any threat to him.”

 

“I suppose I don’t.”

 

“If you didn’t, I wouldn’t be taking you with me to Busan. You’d be at the bottom of the Han River. Yoongi told me to bring you once he found out you were alive.”

 

He waited for an answer, but he got nothing. Jimin had already passed out.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

An hour later and the door slid open, letting the sunlight and fresh air pouring into the stuffy, sweltering freight train container. Jimin woke to the sound of Hong Jun’s thudding footsteps. He heard voices and then the container shook with the impact of more heavy feet stomping around. Two men were unloading boxes, no doubt filled with Yong Geondal contraband.

 

“Get him up, slow,” Hong Jun ordered them once the container was empty.

 

Jimin tried to protest, mumbling that it would make the wound bleed again. But before he could get the words out properly, strong hands lifted him up and he ground his teeth to keep from yelling out in pain. He held his breath and kept his eyes screwed shut, shutting out the blinding sun. When he felt cold leather against his sweat-stained back, Jimin almost sobbed. He could hear Hong Jun’s voice muttering in the near distance.

 

“My son’s dead. He refused to come with me. Said he was loyal to Mother. Kim got to him before I could talk to him again.”

 

“How did you find out?”

 

Jimin lifted his hand to shield his eyes as they opened at the sound of Yoongi’s quiet voice.

 

“Snuff film. He sent it as soon as he was done. Didn’t expect anything else from him. I warned Minsung. He didn’t listen.”

 

“Did he suffer?”

 

“He did. I expected it to go on longer, but Kim cut it short. Shot him in the head and turned off the video.”

 

“You don’t seem particularly upset at the death of your son, Hong Jun.”

 

“I didn’t particularly love his mother, and I saw the kid for the first time when he was already a man. We weren’t close. But I’ll get Kim the same way he got Minsung. And when I do, I’m selling him for parts.”

 

The car door slammed shut soon after that and silence returned. The chaos of the train was replaced by the soft purr of the Jaguar’s engine and at a nod from Yoongi, the driver pulled away from the kerb.

 

Yoongi was blonde now, each strand of hair swept back off his hair so smoothly, it glistened as if it had been freshly polished. Jimin had never seen him wear a suit of such a drab colour before – grey. It matched the colour of the skies outside. His profile was still the same, all soft angles and porcelain skin, but the downturned set of his mouth was harsher. The shadows cast on his face made him look older, wearier. It was understandable.

 

Jimin’s stare made itself felt and Yoongi’s head turned. Rather than look away, Jimin continued to gaze at him, through the cracks between his eyelids. He couldn’t open them fully yet without his head hurting as light infiltrated his vision. They looked at each other for a while, motionless and without expression.

 

“How are you feeling?” Yoongi asked the logical question.

 

“Like hell,” Jimin provided him with an appropriately generic answer, to downplay the severe agony in his chest.

 

Yoongi nodded, as if Jimin had merely told him of the temperature outside. He set his elbow on the window sill, a finger pushed across his mouth as he stared through the tinted glass. A pregnant silence followed. Delirium was licking at the edges of Jimin’s mind. He knew it for what it was because of the prevalence of Taehyung’s face in his mind’s eye and the overwhelming rage, yearning and hatred it brought with it. He felt moisture at the corner of his eyes and labelled it just that – moisture. He couldn’t admit to himself that he was crying in the back of Yoongi’s car, with a gaping wound in his chest, as he thought of the man who had betrayed both of them.

 

Jimin’s eyes snapped open when he felt a cold finger catch one of the tears as it trickled down his temple. Yoongi observed it as if it were an interesting jewel, and then let it spill.

 

“Does it hurt? Hong Jun told me he ran out of morphine halfway through the journey,” he said.

 

Jimin nodded, wordlessly.

 

“You’ll get morphine when we return,” Yoongi assured him. “Try to sleep until then.”

 

Jimin held out for a few short minutes. He had far too many pressing questions that needed answering. But only one thing came out.

 

“Tell me you’re going to kill him,” he said.

 

Yoongi knew exactly who he meant. He remained impassive, but his finger stroked across Jimin’s cheek and stopped at his chin. “How did Mother get you to open fire on Blue Tails?”

 

Jimin couldn’t tell him it was to save an undercover cop. That subject would be touchy under normal circumstances, but with Hoseok’s recent betrayal, it would explode like wildfire. “She threatened to kill me. And then it happened anyway.”

 

“Yet you survived.”

 

“Guess so.”

 

“Taehyung let you live.”

 

“Hong Jun said the same thing.”

 

“Your loyalty will be rewarded. I will bring Taehyung to you, with every bone in his body shattered. You can slide in the knife the same way he did to you. Your face will be the last thing he sees before he breathes his last.”

 

Jimin felt the tremor run through Yoongi’s hand and only then understood the extremes of the fury the other was feeling. His face gave nothing away, but he was struggling to control the shuddering of his limbs as anger raced through him like molten liquid.

 

“This can’t be the first time he’s betrayed you,” Jimin murmured.

 

“This is the first time he’s done it on such a grand scale. He’s a loose cannon in the wrong hands and clearly, loyalty is no longer on the agenda.”

 

It was a classic case of if I can’t have him, no one can.

 

“I don’t think I’d be satisfied just stabbing him once,” Jimin muttered, closing his eyes. It was if he had taken truth serum, and his darkest, ugliest desires came out into the open without shame. “I want to cut open his chest, pull out his heart and eat it in front of him. I hate him more than I ever thought it was possible to hate someone.”

 

“I can do you one better.”

 

“What?” Jimin opened his eyes again.

 

“There’d be one thing worse than torturing him and killing him,” Yoongi said.

 

“What?” Jimin repeated, feeling his fingers start to shake with barely repressed anger.

 

“You’ll find out,” Yoongi said simply. “That DNA swab you took from him came through.”

 

Jimin resisted the urge to say what for the third time, at the risk of sounding like a gormless fool. But he remembered thinking what a strangely specific thing that was to ask of him and being afraid of what Yoongi had in store for Taehyung. Now, the fear was replaced with a vengeful sort of excitement, the kind that made adrenaline rattle through him. His wound was bleeding through his bandages again, but he barely even noticed the steady, sharp throb of pain.

 

“As long as he suffers,” Jimin managed to get out, his voice getting weaker by the minute as dots of black clouded his vision. He was on the verge of passing out once more.

 

By the time Yoongi finally gave him an answer, Jimin was already halfway out, his vision blurring as a terrible ringing resounded in his ears. He didn’t want to sink into the darkness. He knew what was waiting on the other end. Taehyung’s hot, pliant mouth, his whispered sweet nothings, the urgent nip of his teeth, his hands, his tongue – and the knife.

 

Always the knife.

 

Jimin clawed desperately for consciousness but he was gone within seconds.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

Trigger Warning: Gun Play.

 

When Taehyung saw Hoseok, he didn’t speak or move for several minutes.

 

It had only been a year, but thanks to believing he would never see him alive again, it felt like decades. He didn’t look real. Not that he ever did. But right then, his face was above and beyond surreal.

 

No one knew he was in Seoul. Hoseok simply turned up at the address Taehyung had given him in that brief, devastating phone call the morning he reached over Jimin’s sleeping body and picked up his phone. Taehyung knew it would make no difference to Mother who he brought up here, especially not Hoseok, who despite his status as an ex-police informant was now nothing to anyone when it came to dangerous mafia connections. He was only connected to Taehyung, and Taehyung’s (current) thread of allegiance ran straight to Mother. But even so, he didn’t want to tell her about Hoseok. The last time he had introduced Hoseok to a kingpin, destruction was the only outcome.

 

He thought of all this before he saw Hoseok. But all the carefully laid reasonings and plans went swimming away with the last of his bitterness and anger when Hoseok smiled. He stood there in the doorway, not even asking to be let in. He just stood there, and grinned, a happy, happy grin that made his eyes dance like sunshine.

 

For Taehyung, it restored the last remnants of a broken and troubled childhood. One spent without his mother, his father, and only an ailing grandmother who tried harder than she could physically and mentally bear, to raise him. Hoseok was the last hope in a life that had derailed so spectacularly, a Greek tragedy would have been hard put matching it.

 

Taehyung reached out, slow and timid, and the tips of his fingers brushed Hoseok’s cheek. It was warm. He took a deep breath, letting it out in a slow, drawn out trembling sound. A single tear welled up at the corner of his right eye, quickly followed by one from the left, and then with every blink of his lashes, they kept pouring. He felt seventeen again, waiting for his father and finding instead, a brother, a best friend and then, finally, a first love.

 

“God. I’ve never seen you cry. In all the time I’ve known you. I have never seen you cry,” Hoseok said, and his eyes were wet with tears, but he was still smiling, practically laughing, unable to hold in his joy.

 

Taehyung didn’t say a word. He closed the short distance between them and flung his arms around Hoseok, practically crushing him in his embrace. He didn’t sob, but there were a couple of sniffs, as he struggled to hold in the wave of emotion that had come from nowhere and struck him over the head. He never wanted to let Hoseok go and his bone-crushing grip was unrelenting.

 

“Wow, I forgot how big you are,” Hoseok laughed, “literally a big ol’ bear doling out bear hugs. Come on, ease up big boy.” He patted Taehyung’s back to make him loosen his hold. When Taehyung finally managed to do so, Hoseok leaned back and cupped his face between his hands the way he used to do when they were younger. He tilted his head and wrinkled his nose, patting his cheeks. “Hmm. You’re an ugly crier. Now, I see why you don’t cry much.”

 

Taehyung was too far gone to lash back with his usual sarcastic quip and restrike the sort of banter they were so accustomed to. He put his arms around Hoseok again, gentler this time, simply holding him close and reassuring himself that the nightmare of his death was just that. A nightmare.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung did not have any duties to attend to that evening. He told Hoseok as much, and the older’s response was to look at him with a levelled degree of scepticism at the word ‘duties.’ They both knew what that meant. Taehyung didn’t expect judgement from Hoseok and he didn’t get it. There was a distinct understanding in the air that Taehyung had crossed the line of no-return. Back with Yong Geondal, Hoseok used to joke often that Taehyung could back out of the gang life once he’d made enough money by threatening and coercing people who owed the gang money. However, once he’d graduated to killing, there really was no more chance of that, not really.  

 

“What happened to Jimin?” Hoseok said eventually, a glass of wine in his hand as he sat opposite to Taehyung who was draped across the far end of the couch.

 

Taehyung frowned at the TV, not answering for about as long as he could get away with. Since he’d muted the volume on the TV earlier, that wasn’t long. He didn’t cut corners and simply told Hoseok that he had killed Jimin on Mother’s command. And as per usual, Hoseok saw through the front and noticed there was something off about his reaction.

 

“Did you?” he said. And nothing more. Just waited for the truth to pour from him.

 

“He was a liar,” Taehyung answered, still not meeting his eyes. “A dirty little liar, and he got what was coming to him.”

 

Hoseok swirled the wine in his glass and chewed on his lip a little pensively before answering. “I was part of a truth kept from you as well, Tae. I was complicit for almost a year in letting you believe I was dead.”

 

Taehyung ran his hand through his hair, and the action marked his frustration at the direction the conversation was taking. “You had Yoongi looming over you, a constant threat. Jimin wasn’t being blackmailed or coerced. He could have told me any time who his parents were, or what the fuck he thought he was doing down in Busan after running from Mother’s possessive charge - that little parasite - Jeon. But he didn’t and now he’s dead.”

 

“Because you killed him.”

 

“Right. You don’t fucking lie to me and play me like a fool and think you can walk away unscathed.”

 

“Uh huh.” Hoseok put down his wine glass and uncrossed his legs, all traces of humour gone. “The way you talk about him…you’ve made it personal. Killing Jimin was a crime of passion, wasn’t it? You’ve turned into everything you loathe. The sort of person who kills for an incentive other than money. I truly don’t understand why Mother let you kill him, other than the fact she’s a sadistic cunt who gets her rocks off on watching people suffer mentally and emotionally, same as Yoongi. You thought you were killing Jimin because it was your choice? You probably did exactly what she wanted. Taehyung, when are you going to be the leader and not the one being led?”

 

Taehyung muttered something sullen, and Hoseok said, “Excuse me, what?” to which he repeated louder, “Didn’t ask you to come here for a lecture.”

 

Hoseok rolled his eyes, falling back against the couch. He opened his mouth as if to form more words, but they never came. Instead, he just bit his lip and shook his head, scoffing a little. Some minutes of silence passed before he spoke again.

 

“He didn’t look as malicious as you painted him out to be,” Hoseok admitted. “Even if he didn’t pass on the message to you immediately, he would have. In the end.”

 

“You got all that from one meeting?” Taehyung sneered.

 

“Not then, I didn’t. But now, I know he would have. Because of the way you talk about him. I know you two have been sleeping together for a while, but this is beyond sexual. I trust you when it comes to choosing the people you get close to, Kim Taehyung. You were never close to Yoongi the way I made the mistake of being. You kept him at enough of a distance and you were right to. You let Jimin under your skin. Just from that, I already know he wasn’t like everyone else who’s ever betrayed you.”

 

Taehyung lay his head back on the cushion and watched the stars dance in his vision, merging into rainbow sparkles on the ceiling. Jimin’s eyes stared back at him, filled with starlight and fear and confusion.

 

He seemed to have accepted his death when he stood on those police stations steps. And yet it still surprised him when Taehyung dug the knife in. Taehyung had heard many a last breath drawn and let out, and he was most used to seeing fear as his victim’s soul ripped from their body and was unwillingly dragged wherever. He saw nothing of that in Jimin. Just a muted fear and a resignation that was ultimately, worse. Taehyung could still feel the warm weight of his body against his arm as he lowered him. He knew first-hand how hard Jimin could punch and most of his baby fat had hardened into pure muscle. Yet, he was still almost feather light in Taehyung’s arms as he sank to the ground.

 

That walk down the station steps back to the car was short, and yet it stretched for miles.

 

“Taehyung?”

 

Hoseok’s gentle voice pulled him from his stupor, and Taehyung sat up. “What?”

 

“Are you alright?”

 

No.

 

“Yes.”  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Blue.

 

Jimin’s favourite colour. It coats Taehyung’s slender, perfect form like a second skin. He bought the shirt yesterday, and the tag is freshly cut, lying in the waste bin. The shirt is a rich blue, creasing at the slightest movement, and smoothing at the next.

 

He sits there, polishing his GSG 1911. It’s his baby. He’s never said it, but just by the way he cradles it, it’s easy to tell. Jimin nibbles on his finger as he remembers that it’s how Taehyung cradles his head too. He starts off by pushing him too hard, underestimating how quickly Jimin falls. But his hand always flies forward and finds the back of Jimin’s head, fingers splaying out to maximise the protection, even though it’s only the pillow underneath. And then, his hand runs down the back of Jimin’s neck, in a slow, lingering stroke that leaves him breathless as he opens his legs wider so Taehyung can settle between them.

 

Taehyung’s fingers splay over the end of the barrel and then stroke down, slowly, as he polishes it.

 

Jimin doesn’t know what goes on in his head. Sometimes, he believes it’s a mad whirl of chaos, eating away at the insides of Taehyung’s brain like termites to wood. At others, he thinks there is nothing in there, that he’s turned everything off and it’s only static that he hears when he commits his terrible acts of violence with a straight face. He’s turned everything off and he’s happy that way. Jimin isn’t sure whether he wants to know at all. It’s more fun just guessing, he supposes.

 

Taehyung looks over his shoulder and Jimin turns his attention back to the binder in his hands. It’s boring stuff. Ahn always dumps the accounting side of his business to him. High turnover rates leave Jimin with an inordinate amount of cash to keep track of and then distribute amongst the people in Ahn’s employ. He knows he is basically just free labour for Ahn, but even so, he can’t help but finish the tasks given to him to the best of his ability. A lingering effect of his father’s constant disapproval, he knows. Jimin can never have enough approval now.

 

“Bored?” Taehyung says.

 

Jimin is about to shake his head, but the way Taehyung’s eyes are fixed on him ruffles his feathers. He sighs, turning onto his side and leans his head on his hand with a lazy lift of his eyebrows. He is fully aware of Taehyung’s brief glance down at where he’s made sure to let the bedcovers lower over the curve of his ass and that brings a giggle to Jimin’s lips that he just about manages to hold back.

 

“If you have a more entertaining alternative, then yes, I’m bored. If not, I’ll keep going without complaint,” Jimin says airily.

 

Taehyung says nothing, just stares, with those unsettlingly large eyes. Jimin’s smile fades and he droops in disappointment, turning his eyes back onto the binder, convinced that the other isn’t up for games. But then the mattress dips and Taehyung is on the bed with him, crawling up to where he is sprawled. Jimin watches open-mouthed as he pulls the binder from him and dumps it on the table.

 

“What are you doing?” Jimin whispers, laughing a little as Taehyung leans in closer, the gun still in his hand. “Is the safety on?”

 

Taehyung doesn’t answer and removes the long barrel extension, before resting the shorter barrel against Jimin’s plump lower lip. Jimin nervously flicks his tongue out over it and winces at the cold, metallic taste, tinged with the remnants of the cleaning agent. He isn’t sure what Taehyung is doing, but he’s along for the ride. He thinks he’s seen practically everything this man can do, but he knows that’s a foolish way to think of it. Taehyung finds new and demented ways to surprise him at every turn and right now, he might fully intend on killing Jimin. How many secrets is Jimin keeping that could warrant Taehyung pulling the trigger, right here, right now? Too many to count.

 

Jimin smiles, his eyes lighting up with laughter. Taehyung’s lips flicker just a little, in a similar expression, but then part as he forces Jimin to open his mouth. Jimin feels his heart stutter and panic infuses his eyes but even so, his lips open up. Taehyung bites his lower lip and his brow furrows. He is so turned on the lust is dripping from his eyes like honey.

 

“It’s unloaded. Safety’s on. Don’t look so scared, nightingale,” he whispers.

 

Jimin almost sobs in relief. He frightens himself with his complacency in the face of Taehyung’s violent whimsies. The urge to go along with him, knowing the pay-off will be good, is going to get him killed one of these days. He relaxes, as much as he possibly can with a barrel as thick as Taehyung’s cock stuffing his mouth.

 

Taehyung is painfully hard against his thigh now, eyes greedy as he watches the drool cling to the gun barrel and leak from the corners of Jimin’s rosy red mouth. Jimin doesn’t even want him to take it out, though it’s starting to get uncomfortable not being able to swallow his excess spit properly. He just wants to keep watching Taehyung’s eyes swirl madly, as his other hand fiddles with his zipper and has it down with the rest of his trousers.

 

Jimin stretches his arms up above his head, hands grasping the bed post as he makes himself comfortable. Taehyung lets go of the gun and Jimin obliges by gripping onto the smooth metal with his teeth to keep it in place. The first drops of lube on his asshole make him squeal and the sound makes Taehyung laugh. Jimin likes it when he laughs. He likes odd little things about Taehyung, though he doesn’t believe he likes him very much as a whole. He’s too scary. But little bits of him, Jimin can take, to pocket away and treasure. The bits that are borderline normal, such as the way his lips stretch out into a rectangle when he grins, and how his eyes sparkle with child-like mirth when he is truly amused. It doesn’t happen often.

 

Both of them stop smiling when Taehyung thrusts into Jimin. The younger arches his spine, toes curling as he drags his feet up the bedsheets and pushes his hips up into Taehyung’s. He hears himself make a low, keening sound, muffled by the gun and Taehyung responds by taking it out. Jimin gasps, blinking away the wetness in his eyes as he coughs. Saliva is smeared all over his bottom lip and chin, lips reddened with the pressure of holding onto the barrel.

 

Jimin sees himself in the reflection of Taehyung’s eyes – blushing, trembling and so needy – and he understands why Taehyung suddenly looks the way he does. He lunges down, gripping Jimin to him in an embrace that is far too intimate for what their relationship is. The gun is resting on top of Jimin’s head, an extension of Taehyung’s hand that he still refuses to relinquish.

 

“Yes – yes – fuck me – you’re so good – so – uuunnfffhhh – “ Jimin bites into his shoulder to muffle the rising volume and pitch of his moans. Taehyung is so beautifully steady, always hitting the exact spot that makes Jimin scream like the nightingale that he’s been dubbed as. A singular drop of sweat rolls down Jimin’s temple and Taehyung’s eager tongue catches it, licking it up and then licking back down the side of his face as Jimin giggles. He tries to push his head away – his tongue tickles – but Taehyung kisses and licks harder, nipping when Jimin tries to elbow him. Almost like an eager dog with his owner.

 

Jimin supposes he does own him in a strange sort of way, just as Taehyung owns him. His arms are circled around the older, and their playful antics have faded to a lazy, lingering make out, and Jimin can’t stop himself from sucking on Taehyung’s tongue like candy. He loves this sort of dirty kissing. It makes his cock throb as it is squeezed between their squirming bodies. He wishes Taehyung would vocalise more. He is always too quiet, too intense, until the moment where he comes apart and drowns in such thrilling pleasure, it silences him again.

 

Jimin gets an idea and wraps his hand around the back of Taehyung’s neck. He cranes his neck just as Taehyung’s drives his cock in so deep it has Jimin seeing stars. He fights past the urge to scream and moans in Taehyung’s ear, “You’re so pretty…”

 

Taehyung doesn’t react at first and Jimin is having too much fun to be disappointed at that. But then, just after he looks down to watch Taehyung’s thick, lubed-up shaft disappear into him inch-for-inch, Jimin meets Taehyung’s eyes. His cheeks are pink. Jimin knows it’s probably because of the physical exertion, but coupled with the hazy look in Taehyung’s eyes, and he lets himself believe it’s the effect of his compliment.

 

It brings out a tenderness in Jimin that urges him to cup Taehyung’s face in his hands and kiss him the way he used to kiss Jungkook. Like a lover, not a fuck machine he is privileged to ride every night. Taehyung kisses him back with an energy Jimin struggles to reciprocate – the other has far greater lung capacity evidently – and it only ends when they climax together. The roaring orgasmic rush takes them by surprise and for a minute, neither can make a sound as Taehyung ruts into Jimin, holding himself deep as he empties his balls. The mess is spectacular. The look on his face even more so when he sees Jimin reach down and lick up the cum leaking from his ass, sucking it into his mouth.

 

Jimin learns something new that day. Taehyung likes softly whispered compliments, though he will die before admitting it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jimin woke with a start, his heart in his throat and expanding until it was too painful to swallow. The pillow underneath his head was damp, and so was his hair. Was that a sex dream or a nightmare? He couldn’t figure out of if the sweat was a negative or a positive, but he couldn’t blink away the image of Taehyung in that royal blue shirt for a while, no matter how hard he blinked. It disgusted him how he couldn’t get the son of a bitch out of his head. Not when he was awake, nor when he was asleep. And at the threshold between both, he remembered those words and the painless first slide in of the knife, a quiet, metallic pressure in his chest.

 

I love you, nightingale. Not that it matters.

 

I love you, nightingale. Not that it matters.

 

I love you, nightingale. Not that it matters.

 

Sometimes, Jimin was defiant and let it ring in his head, lulling him to sleep. Most of the time, the urge to start screaming was too great and he drowned himself in alcohol until he fell onto his bed like a sack of potatoes, dead to the world.

 

Taehyung’s precision when he had stabbed him was just as Choi Hong Jun had said: he’d done it so it wouldn’t be fatal. Jimin didn’t want to think about why, though he knew full well. The wound was healing quickly and though he still had to have the bandages replaced, it didn’t hurt that badly as long as he didn’t take deep breaths, or cough too hard.

 

“You do heal fast,” was Yoongi’s comment when he came to visit after five days passed with Jimin stuck in bedrest. His tone was as brusque as ever, however his touch was exceedingly gentle when he lifted Jimin’s shirt. He glanced up and saw Jimin’s expression after which he lowered the shirt and just sat there looking at him.

 

“Is there something on my face?” Jimin murmured after a short while had passed.

 

Yoongi smiled briefly and shook his head. “Of all the people I was expecting to end up with when a full-scale war broke out with Mother, you were the last name that came to mind.”

 

Jimin scoffed, a tragic sound that fell flat. “Are you sure you can trust me? Maybe you should finish what Taehyung started and end me once and for all.”

 

“Knowledge is power, and you appreciate that fact. I can’t begrudge you your secrets. I understand your position. I came from nothing, and you’re the same now that your parents are dead, and their fortune squandered. I understand your desperation, and I understand how it caused you to make all the mistakes you’ve made thus far.”

 

Jimin was starting to think his only mistake was not to slit Taehyung’s throat when he was at his most vulnerable: lying beside him in bed, asleep, as innocent as a child.

 

“I’m no use to you,” he told Yoongi, “you might as well just let me go.”

 

“I’m not keeping you,” Yoongi answered. “Though, if I let you go, you’ll have died a second time. What will your third life be? Another attempt to find your parents’ killer which ends in failure?”

 

And just like that, Jimin recalled the delirious conversation he’d had with Yoongi in the back of his car, soon after he’d been helped out of the freight train container. He’d forgotten all about that in the haze of pain and recovery the last couple of days. He sat up, hair a tangled, sweaty mess on his forehead and sank against the pillows tiredly. His skin was pale, with an unhealthy yellowed pallor and his lips were near colourless. Yoongi took a handkerchief from his pocket and wiped Jimin’s forehead with it, patting it dry of the sweat glossing there.

 

“You found out who he is,” Jimin said. It wasn’t a question. It was very apparent in Yoongi’s face that he had the answer. And it made Jimin’s insides squirm and melt, turning into acidic mush. His finger shook as he clenched them on the sheets and waited.

 

Yoongi reached into his pocket and pulled out a photograph. It was of a young man, dressed smartly in a pinstripe suit. He was expressionless and on other side of him, a couple other men stood about. But he stood out the most, perhaps due to his youth and good looks. It looked to be a picture from the 80s, telling by the fashion.

 

Yoongi had more photographs of him, and he pulled them out one by one, eyes flickering up to observe Jimin’s reaction. But Jimin just looked at one after the other, trying to remember if he had ever seen the man in the many files on Geomjeong-pa Ahn had collated. He would have remembered his face.

 

Then, Yoongi dropped a photograph on the sheets and Jimin reacted as if he had been electrocuted. He snatched it up, his mouth drying up.

 

The man was sitting beside Jimin’s mother, and both were laughing. They looked so young, so fresh-faced, and it was the first photograph of the man that Jimin had seen him look so happy. There was something terribly familiar about him which he couldn’t place, but that track of thought was lost when he saw his mother’s face.

 

“H-he knew her?” Jimin choked out, “he knew her. Sh-she looks way too young here – she wouldn’t have known my dad here – “ he took a few heaving breaths, feeling his head become dizzy until he had to grab the side of the bed just to keep from blacking out. Yoongi took the photo and observed it, with a passive smile.

 

“It’s quite marvellous, really. When I first started looking into him, I didn’t expect to find the treasure trove of ironies that I did,” he murmured.

 

“Who is he?” Jimin insisted. “They were friends, weren’t they? She seems totally at ease with him.”

 

Yoongi nodded complacently. “I know. And you’re right. They were friends. He introduced your father to her when she was prostituting herself on street corners. Apparently, they grew up together on neighbouring farms in the Daegu district before her uncle moved her back to Busan. That’s the man Mother told Jungkook to look for.”

 

“K-Kim Bong Ju?” Jimin stuttered over the unfamiliar syllables.

 

“Kim Bong Ju.” Yoongi fixed his cuffs and there was a wry smile on his face. He looked as if he was still holding back information, something that had him looking as if he couldn’t quite believe it himself. A sarcastic sort of disbelief. “He heard she wasn’t doing well and came all the way from Seoul where he worked for Geomjeong-Pa and paid out her pimp just in case her meeting with your father didn’t go well and they’d have to seek alternative routes. He was one of Geomjeong-pa’s most prized hitmen. Honestly, if he’d married your mother, she would have probably been happier but that’s neither here nor there.”

 

Jimin’s jaw was trembling, adrenaline coursing through his veins. Seeing the man who had burned his family alive was altogether different to seeing him as a shadowy figure of evil in his mind. It made him real, human. And whereas it might have terrified Jimin before to kill someone even for revenge, he still wasn’t over the shock of his cooerced actions at the Blue Tails Casino. As long as his brain remained paralyzed with disassociation, Jimin knew he could very easily copy Taehyung and dig his thumbs into this man’s eyes and crush them through his skull. Anger was following quickly on the tail of shock.

 

“Where is he?” he said quietly.

 

“I’m afraid that bit I can’t tell you just yet. He’s done a very good job of hiding himself,” Yoongi admitted. “I would have told you all of this once I knew for sure where he was. But after recent events, something told me you might be interested in what my police contacts dug up in their records.”

 

Jimin gathered up the photographs again – Yoongi had more, of both his mother and Kim Bong Jun, and in all of them she was so, so happy. It drove knives into his heart seeing her so completely cheerful next to her future murderer. How, why, why, why, why – the words revolved around his head, a macabre roundabout that wouldn’t stop.

 

The cotton swab he had taken from Taehyung, all wrapped up in its plastic baggie, fell onto his lap next. Yoongi’s tongue swept over his teeth, and there was no hiding his smirk now. Jimin’s mind was a blank buzz of white noise.

 

“I’m sure you probably already know where I’m going with this,” Yoongi said.

 

Jimin’s hand slowly went to his chest, where his wound was starting to ache with a vengeance. He didn't want Yoongi to say another word, but he knew he would, and that Jimin had to hear it with his own ears before everything went up in flames once and for all.

 

“Kim Bong Ju is Taehyung’s father.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Trigger Warning: Mentions of past child abuse, implied child abuse, mental illness.

 

This is a heavy one, guys. Took ages to write for this reason.

 

All eyes were on him.

 

There was a certain sort of pity and curiosity that always surrounded the injured. A sort of there but for the grace of God, go I. Every tap of his crutches alerted the person just ahead and their head would turn accordingly, until it was a domino effect the further he advanced. The quick snap of the neck so that they wouldn’t be caught staring. And then the furtive glances following him until he found his seat.

 

Namjoon had been on crutches before. But then, he had been a helpless ten year old, broken by circumstances beyond his control. He had been better accustomed to pain then. This injury was trying to break him in in to feel the agony of helplessness once more. A knot rose in his throat as he crossed the restaurant floor, focusing only on the tiles paving it and the reflection of his silver crutches in them.

 

His sergeant was the only man who did not stare, though he must have heard him coming. Namjoon slumped into the booth, carefully setting his crutches on the ground beside the seat. He grabbed a menu, for the sake of doing something which wouldn’t require looking directly at the man who had betrayed him. Son Ho Joon was not the most imposing man in stature – he was only 5”6 – but he had always seemed like a pillar of strength to Namjoon. Ever since he had first arrived at the station, he had worked towards pleasing the sergeant. This was the man who had busted the biggest drug ring the Korean branch of Inagawa-kai had operated for a decade. He had locked away countless criminals and he had been stabbed, shot at, even had patches of skin on his arm burnt away by acid. And he still stood tall at the end of it all.

 

How fragile the pedestal of adulation was.

 

“Namjoon,” the sergeant nodded, finally folding up his newspaper and laying it on the table.

 

Namjoon forced his head to bow. “Sergeant.”

 

Son Ho Joon glanced down at the crutches. “How deep was the wound?”

 

“I was told the gunman meant to graze to draw blood. He ended up shooting directly at my thigh and they had to dig the bullet out. Along with a sizeable chunk of flesh,” Namjoon said bluntly. The sergeant’s jaw tightened. Guilt? Shame? Sympathy?

 

“I’ll get you out,” Son Ho Joon said.

 

“And then what will happen to me, sir?” Namjoon said.  The question was innocent enough but Son’s face twisted. He took a deep breath and tapped his hand nervously on the table as a waiter brought over a starter dish of onion rings and sushi. A strange combination.

 

“I know what you think of me, Namjoon – “

 

“I’m not thinking anything in particular right now, sergeant – “

 

“I wasn’t always like this. But this is the way the world works – “

 

“The world doesn’t populate us. We populate the world. It’s ours to control – “

 

“Lofty words, but they only look good in print, or scripted haikus hung over mantelpieces. I was like you once, I was injured in the line of duty – “

 

“You were injured because you stood for what you believed in! Not because your superiors betrayed you and threw you under the bus!” Namjoon tensed as he realised his voice had reached a volume that carried. Except for a few curious glances however, it went unnoticed.

 

The sergeant was pale, but he said nothing more. Instead, he reached into the briefcase on the seat beside him and pulled out a thin, sleek, black folder tipped with gold corners. He slid it across the table and Namjoon retracted his hand, refusing to open it to whatever new devilry was being thrust his way.

 

“Mother has already laid out all the details of a drug ring Yong Geondal operates in Seoul,” the sergeant explained. “It’s up to your discretion when you utilise the information, and turn them in to the Commissioner General.”

 

“Is he part of Geomjeong-pa too?”

 

“Namjoon, none of us are part of that accursed virus.” The sergeant displayed his first dregs of real emotion. Namjoon’s resolve to hate him weakened for a moment when he saw the fire in Son’s eyes. “But just like a virus, until an effective cure is developed, it’s best to alleviate the symptoms. Yes, there are corrupt officers who turn tail and join the mafia for the monetary benefits but the rest of us strike deals where we can to minimise Geomjeong-pa’s cruelty affecting the general public. Sometimes, an individual turns up who refuses to cooperate with them and for a few glorious months we admire his courage, but ultimately, he or she disappears and that’s that. This is not the sort of plague you fight with fire head on. Geomjeong-pa is Seoul’s infected limb and it needs to be amputated and cauterised. Is that going to cause the rest of the body pain? Undeniably. But until someone has just the right amount of power and figures out the perfect time to strike, the illness will spread.”

 

Namjoon completely forgot his pain for a short moment. He let himself be carried on the back of words that were just that – words. Words the sergeant had probably told himself time and time again when the monthly packets of cash arrived from Mother. He was trying to convert Namjoon now. This was a speech meant to instigate, not relieve. Namjoon reached for the file and pulled it closer. Son sank back against his seat and patted at the beads of sweat on his forehead with a napkin.

 

Namjoon flicked through the file without really seeing the pages. He looked up and asked, “What was it that forced you to do this?”

 

Son looked at him, and for a moment, it seemed that he might lie. But then, he said, “Family trouble.” And he didn’t need to provide any further details. It was clear by the sudden emptiness in his eyes that the trouble was much, much worse than he was implying.

 

It was partly the reason why Namjoon excused himself to throw up his guts in the alley behind the restaurant. Family trouble. Family – fucking – trouble. The sergeant had promised him a promotion if he stuck it out in Mother’s gang for a few months (just for appearances of course) and Namjoon hadn’t accepted nor declined. He left before he threw up all over the plate of sushi rolls.

 

Family trouble.

 

Part of the reason he’d been so eager to go undercover was the thought of promotion. It was the money, it was always about the money. He had two sets of bills to shoulder, for both his parents and Geong Min, his younger sister whose university fees had ended up becoming his sole responsibility. Most of it was borrowed money from friends who had assured him he didn’t need to worry about paying them back until he was promoted. But it was an ugly, heavy burden Namjoon couldn’t live under. He barely ate more than a few cups of ramen a day at one point, until it became apparent a poor diet wouldn’t cut it for the job of field officer. Geong Min worked too but he didn’t want her spending her hard-earned money on anything but her day-to-day life.

 

So, when the sergeant so blithely put off his betrayal of the entire justice system to family trouble – justified Namjoon’s near death experience to family trouble – all he wanted to do was ram his crutch down the older man’s throat. Again and again, until his innards were churned to mush and squirting from his every orifice –

 

Namjoon bent over and promptly threw up again. He had spent far too much time with Geomjeong-pa.

 

Bang on time, a Hyundai Palisade rolled up, blocking the way out of the street. Namjoon regained his balance and began limping towards it on his crutches. Mother’s own driver had dropped him off and had given him strict instructions to be out in half an hour. Namjoon didn’t bother going back into to bid farewell to the sergeant. Before he could reach out to open the door, it swung outwards. Mother was already seated inside.

 

She was wearing a deep emerald velvet dress that sheathed her perfect frame in swirls. It was off-shoulder and around her neck, the Jewel of Busan glittered, perfectly rested in the hollow of her creamy collarbone. Her wig was blacker than a raven’s wing, gleaming a rich blue-violet when the light hit it. Her head was free of a hat for once, hair piled up and pinned with a dozen jade pins. Namjoon was frozen for a moment. Fear? No. He was past that. It was always a little jarring to see how beautiful she was. She fucked with his sexuality in bad ways and that special little glint in her eye told him she was aware of it. She was probably used to seeing that inner turmoil in her men every time they looked at her.

 

Namjoon recovered and dragged himself up into the backseat, pulling the crutches in after him. He shut the door and bowed his head to her out of habit, rather than any desire to show respect.

 

“How was it?” Mother asked gently.

 

“I wasn’t expecting you to personally pick me up,” Namjoon replied without answering her question.

 

Mother slid off one lacey glove and then the other, dropping them on the seat between them. Every movement she made swept waves of perfume towards Namjoon. He didn’t know much about the world of feminine scents, so he couldn’t begin to name what that smell was. All he knew was that it was enticingly good.

 

“You mustn’t lose hope, Namjoon,” she said. “It’s just the way the world works. It’s the way nature works. Domination, violence, bloodshed and triumph. If you can’t play the game, you drown in your own blood. But you already know that. You just haven’t learnt to accept it.”

 

“Knowing there’s evil in the world doesn’t mean I have to lie down on my back and accept it,” Namjoon retorted.

 

Mother scoffed, a gentle, whispering sound that made her jewelled red lips curl. She always looked as if she was holding onto a secret the rest of the world was not privy to. Namjoon couldn’t look away from her face as she gazed at the state of her fingernails. Finally, she looked up and in the sultry light of the late afternoon, her eyes gleamed.

 

“You can just be another cop on my payroll, with no harm done to your conscience. The system you idolise is flawed, Namjoon. It won’t be your fault if you learn to work with it, rather than risk your own wellbeing by going against it.” Mother leaned over and put her hand over his tightly clenched fist. The scent of her strengthened, invading his senses and he gulped. “I know you’re struggling with your parents’ bills and your sister’s university fees.”

 

Namjoon bit his lip and laughed, a bitter, baleful sound. “Of course you checked up on them. Were you planning on killing them whilst you had me in that shark tank?”

 

“No, of course not,” Mother said. “I know the importance of family. It’s always a last resort if it does come to hurting someone’s loved ones.”

 

Namjoon just stared at her.

 

Mother squeezed his hand and patted it, without letting it go. “I know you’ve had a terrible life, and all I wish now is for you to earn enough money to live comfortably – “

 

“And yet you were going to kill me if Jimin didn’t shoot all those people in the Blue Tails casino.”

 

“Perhaps I might have changed my mind, who knows? There’s no point crying over spilled milk.”

 

“So. Tell me. What did you find out about me that was so terrible?” Namjoon knew he was playing with fire whenever he spoke to her as if she were less than. But quite frankly, when a man stared down the open jaws of a shark hurtling towards him at 25 mph, much of the fucks he had to give, evaporated into thin air.

 

Mother did not seem to be in a prickly mood. She was all soft at the edges, like a tintype photograph, shimmering with uncharacteristic empathy and deceitful kindness. “I don’t think I’ve ever met someone with quite the same back story as you, I must say. I know your parents were both released from a psychiatric facility due to overcrowding and received no approval from doctors or the government that they were fit to join society. And that nine months later, you were born. Your father cracked first, didn’t he?”

 

Namjoon was utterly silent now. The blood had drained from his face and he was deathly silent. Mother spoke of it as if it were a mere retelling of a fairy tale gone wrong. Two lunatics fell in love, were released from their prison by a stroke of fortune and created a child. His father had indeed shattered the spell first.

 

Namjoon’s father was equally as ill as his mother, however his delusions reassured him he was the only sane one in the pairing and she needed extra protection. The delusions convinced him that since Namjoon looked more like her, he had inherited the same illness. And he had learnt terrible, terrible things during his time in the asylum, the principle one being a crude form of electro shock therapy. Despite his ailing sanity, he was incredibly intelligent and devised a homemade device to induce electroconvulsive therapy which he used on Namjoon as soon as he was old enough to talk. At first, the shocks were few and far between, mild and gentle, just enough to make Namjoon yelp in discomfort and go running to his mother. But as he grew older and began to tell his father ‘no, I don’t want this’, Mr Kim was convinced Namjoon was getting worse. So, he beat them both up – her, to keep her from trying to stop him, and Namjoon so that he would sit quietly and take it.

 

And then one day, he simply gave up on the therapy. He just beat the shit out of his son whenever he saw ‘demons’ lurking in his eyes. He always claimed Namjoon’s eyes were portals to hell and that if he looked directly into them, he would see Lucifer staring back.

 

Both his parents were re-institutionalised eventually, after Namjoon’s father tried to commit murder-suicide. It was Geong Min who escaped long enough to scream to the neighbours for help.

 

“How are they doing now?” Mother asked him.

 

“Fine,” Namjoon said tersely.

 

“That can’t be true, else they’d be out. I hear your father tries to kill himself each full moon. He thinks it’ll let out the demon living in his body. The demon he thinks you put into him. He doesn’t like it when you visit, does he?”

 

“I know you get your kicks from psycho-sadism and I can’t stop you but – “

 

“Namjoon, I’m not doing this to hurt you. I’m asking these things to understand you. I’ve never met someone like you, and I mean it. You fascinate me.” There was something in her voice that managed to convince even him. Namjoon looked at her uncertainly and saw that her face was devoid of all pretence, lies and malicious sentiment. Her eyes were large and unassuming, gazing at him with such sweet concern he almost believed it was real.

 

It did feel somewhat therapeutic. He had never spoken of his parents’ actions to a soul. He had been home-schooled most of his life and had never been allowed outside to play. Despite the electroshock therapy, the high IQ he shared with his father had been nurtured as Namjoon had developed into a lonely, bookish boy who made most of his friends in the world of fiction. They could not hurt him. They only held him and comforted him when reality failed him. Speaking to people about his troubles was never something he had actively sought out.

 

“And much to my dismay, I discovered it didn’t end there,” Mother murmured, her hand going up to the back of Namjoon’s neck. The soft hairs on the nape of his neck curled around her slender fingers, causing goose bumps to ravage his skin. “They put you and your sister with your grandfather because no one else would take you and the orphanages were full. The government put you with a man accused of child molestation in the 70s because two working-class children weren’t worth spending time, effort and money on.”

 

“Stop – just stop – please – “

 

“Did he hurt you?”

 

“I told you to stop – “

 

“Did he touch you? Or your sister?”

 

“I said – STOP!” He practically slapped her hand away, flinching against the car door. Tremors ran through him from head to foot and he had to roll the window down to lessen the feeling of suffocation constraining him. His forehead touched the cool glass and he swallowed down the nausea rising in his chest. Her hand was still on him – his elbow – but it was no longer moving.

 

“How did your grandfather die, Namjoon? Did the radio fall into the bathtub by accident? I’m guessing he always took baths with the door open. He liked to know he might be seen by one of you, didn’t he?”

 

A soft drip made Namjoon’s eyes open and he saw tears pooled on the window sill, spilling off the edge. He wiped his face in a quick, hurried swipe of his hand, as if that would do anything to hide the fact that he was crying. “He didn’t touch me. Either of us,” he muttered, as if saying it would make it true.

 

Mother’s voice was barely a whisper now. “You’re a brave man. I can respect that. Let me help you. Let me help your parents, your sister. All I ask for is your loyalty in return. All those dirty cops who are just in it for the quick cash stuffed in padded envelopes, they’re rats scrabbling for crumbs until their avarice pulverizes them. I trade with them out of necessity. But i want to help you.”

 

“I don’t need your help,” Namjoon growled through gritted teeth, the salt of his tears still sharp on his lips.

 

“You do. And I’ll give it to you whether you ask for it or not,” Mother insisted. “Your parents’ bills have been paid and the rest of your sister’s tuition fees are already covered. You don’t have to pay another instalment till she graduates.”

 

“I refuse to work for you, you can take your dirty money back.”

 

“Let us strike a deal, Kim Namjoon.” Mother’s hand reached up to tilt his chin towards her. Namjoon’s scowl was defiant, blackened at the edges by such severe hatred, it made her smile. “Work for me until your sergeant promotes you. And then, continue to rise in the ranks. If you really hope to bring me down, you’ll need those promotions. We’ll see if you eventually manage to destroy me. Kind of a…wager, perhaps?”

 

It was all a game to her. The twinkle in her eyes said she didn’t believe he could ever bring her down. It was as if she was giving a child a pair of boxing gloves and suggesting he might one day grow into them. It was patronising and infuriating and Namjoon wanted to kiss her till –

 

Wait, what?

 

The sharp, involuntary tangent of his brain left him reeling and Namjoon could only blink at her in surprise. She took it as a victory and gave his arm a quick squeeze before releasing it. He expected her to dig the knife in deeper, to gloat over her obvious victory. But she simply fixed her necklace and turned her head away, gazing out of the window in silence.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The intimacy of a handgun was unreal compared to the whorish screams of a submachine gun. Jimin felt as if he had more control over it, though he knew it was just an illusion. Guns could have a mind unto themselves, they were not always a mere extension of the bearer’s psyche. He had learnt that the hard way. But the revolver in his hand was easily controlled. It had quite the long title – Ruger Super Redhawk.- with 44 mag and Jimin hadn’t never imagined a weapon could feel so sexy.

 

It was even sexier when after hours and hours of endless bullets wasted, he hit all the relevant targets on the rubber dummies lined up at the end of the shooting range. Even when they were moved on the end of machines to mimic a moving, living target, Jimin landed fatal shots on each one. For someone who had never shot a gun at someone before a couple weeks ago, his draw was quick and his aim quicker. Vengeance truly was the best motivation.

 

Every single one of those dummies was Taehyung and he died a thousand deaths each time Jimin pulled the trigger. That was how it should be. That was how it was going to be.

 

“You’re getting better.” Behind him, Yoongi removed his ear muffs and uncrossed his legs to walk over. “Do you even sleep these days? It feels like you’re in the gym in the early hours and here for the rest of the day and night.” As he said this, his pale hand traced gently over Jimin’s bicep, and Yoongi smiled, almost fondly. “No longer the skinny, flexible twink. Your shirt’s practically straining.”

 

“Still flexible,” Jimin muttered, reloading the magazine.

 

Yoongi sighed, the air hissing out of him like a deflated tyre. “What a strange pair we are.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“You love Taehyung, I hold some unexplained, intense feelings towards Hoseok. Both have ditched us and vanished into the wind together. And now I watch as you pretend to shoot Taehyung over and over.”

 

Jimin tensed at the word ‘love’. He had not allowed himself to think of it, especially not in relation to Taehyung. When it came from Yoongi’s lips, it sounded so easy, so natural, as if he was speaking of someone else. Jimin lowered the Redhawk and pressed the back of his hand against his temple. Despite the earmuffs, the constant bangs were starting to have an effect. His head felt tight.

 

“I don’t love him,” was the only response he had. He didn’t have to say anything really. Yoongi hadn’t wanted an answer. Answering him had the opposite effect. It felt like Jimin was trying to prove something but was failing miserably.

 

“Sure,” Yoongi snorted. “Because when I’m coerced into sleeping with a psychotic hitman and his boss, I go back to fucking the hitman on the down low and don’t do shit all to cover my back. What was your escape plan, Jimin? What did you plan on doing once shit hit the fan? Or did Taehyung’s cock have you so giddy you forgot what he is?”

 

“Yeah alright, smart words coming from someone who he fucked over just as badly,” Jimin retorted, forgetting for a moment what his position was.

 

But Yoongi wasn’t Mother. He was fully prepared to get down on the level of those below him, and he certainly didn’t hold back his punches.

 

“At least Taehyung didn’t have the pleasure of driving the knife into my body,” he remarked.

 

“No, what I don’t get it is why you didn’t just kill him when you had the chance. You could have had Choi Hong Jun take him out the moment his interests changed. But you let him live,” Jimin snapped.

 

Yoongi had no answer to that. And when he didn’t have answers, as usual, he twisted the conversation back around to what he could explain away. He didn’t say another word till he’d lit up a cigarette, and it was nestled between his coral pink lips. There was style in everything he did, even when he just stood leaning against the barrier, his eyes murky with thought and his brow furrowed. He tapped ash over the edge of the railing and coughed.

 

“I miscalculated,” he said. “I knew threatening Taehyung with death would do nothing. Threatening to kill someone he loved would only stir him into a murderous rage. To kill someone he loves without warning would do the same thing but it would shatter him. It wouldn’t give him the chance to prepare, to say any sort of goodbye. One day, they would just vanish, and he would be left adrift. I tried with Hoseok, and I miscalculated my own feelings for that man. If I’d let my men Blood Eagle him, this would all be a lot easier.”

 

“You’re an evil man, I hope you know that,” Jimin said.

 

Yoongi lifted a shoulder and let it drop. “Evil is a matter of perspective. I am what I am because I don’t know how to be anything else. It’s the people who don’t know what they are that are in trouble.” His eyes swept to the side to look at Jimin. “I guess, in a strange way, I love Hoseok, just as you love Taehyung.”

 

“Would you kill Hoseok for betraying you?”

 

“I doubt it.”

 

“There’s the difference.”

 

Yoongi’s eyes crinkled into a sweet smile. “You look so much like your mother, I forget you are your father’s son too.”

 

Jimin consistently forgot how famous his parents had been in their time. It was still grating to hear people speak of them as if they were intimately familiar. He knew for a fact Yoongi had only been a child when his parents were having their heyday as South Korea’s very own Rockefeller dynasty. Back when the chaebols of today were infants next to the sheer power of the Parks and their megalomaniacal hold on Seoul. The newspapers spoke of them every other day and the common folk followed their exploits as if they were the royal family themselves.

 

“This assures me you won’t make my mistake,” Yoongi nodded. “There’s no way in hell you’ll spare Kim Bong Ju. You probably don’t know how Hoseok found Taehyung when they first met – it was his birthday and he was curled up in the post office in his neighbourhood for hours waiting for his father to drop off his annual birthday card and money. You’d think he would have given up on the man since he was a toddler when he left, but Taehyung doesn’t let things go, does he?”

 

Jimin couldn’t help envisioning the image of a young Taehyung curled up pitifully in the cold, waiting for a father who did not show. And nothing happened. His heart didn’t melt, clench or strain – none of the usual actions it took whenever Taehyung was involved. It lay still and Jimin could barely hear it beating in his ears.

 

It felt different, knowing why his universe was shredded to smithereens when he was thirteen. It felt different knowing his mother had burned alive because of Taehyung’s own flesh and blood. Jimin had learnt to love Taehyung, but that sort of love didn’t stand a chance in the face of this.

 

When he thought of revenge, Jimin no longer saw Taehyung screaming in anguish as he held his father’s burnt, bloodied body in his arms. Instead, he saw his mother screaming as the flames swallowed her whole, her final moments spent thinking that her son was burning in the same fire.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The entrance into the underground aquarium was a dark, dismal dystopian hell.

 

Taehyung had not been inside the tank before. He had never bothered asking Mother for permission now. She wouldn’t care. If the shark ate him, it would be unfortunate, but it would be his fault and she wasn’t going to kill Cersei for eating him. There was something incredibly amusing about that. He didn’t mind going out as shark food, as painful as it might be. It would certainly be biblical.

 

He sat for an hour or so in the partition between the bunker and the corridor going into the tank. The smell was unbearable. Beside him, in a poorly covered, crate, he had food for Cersei. She had swum past a couple times but didn’t seem to care that he was there. She never cared about anything. Sharks were low maintenance pets really, once you got past the expense of upkeep.

 

Taehyung got to his feet, stretching them out in the flippers and checked his oxygen tank. There was a gun strapped to the inside of the crate. He couldn’t swim faster than a shark, so this was a little extra something to make sure he could. His morbid fascination with Mother’s pets would never end, he knew that. First, the tiger who had turned out to be a pussy, and now this demon. He wondered if he could nudge her towards the idea of getting an alligator or even better, an anaconda. It would be a rush to get into that tank.

 

The airtight corridor filled with water as soon as he prised open the door into the larger tank. The crate lost much of its weight when he lifted it and began to swim. The blood which had been steadily seeping onto the floor, now whispered out in smoke trails of red, merging with the blue of the water. Taehyung swam in long, steady strokes until he was far from the corridor and heading in a precise line towards the eastern end of the tank.

 

She came within seconds.

 

Taehyung felt his breath whoosh from him in one giant gust of air as her pectoral fin struck his head. He laughed, regaining his balance in the water and held onto the crate tighter. She was circling him, her beady eyes glinting and dangerous. She hadn’t fed for a week and there he was, wriggling like a seal and surrounded by blood. Her senses had to be going haywire.

 

Taehyung almost began to cry with fear and excitement. He was feeling that pure, wonderful rush of terror that he so rarely felt in a world that no longer frightened him. He kicked his foot under the crate and let it upturn. Tattooed arms, legs, feet, torsos, a head or two – the Frankensteinian feast exploded around him and Cersei lunged.

 

Taehyung didn’t move, floating completely still as her teeth gnashed and ravaged and the blood began to create such a terrible vacuum of red, he could barely see past his own nose. He had painstakingly removed all gold fillings, rings, piercings - any hint of metal on the bodies - before he’d chopped them up, but he was worried he might have missed one.

 

Cersei rammed into him and it was as if he’d been struck by a bus. He was tossed through the water like a rag doll, with no control over his own limbs. But it appeared she was only irritated he was getting in the way. She truly was a house pet. She didn’t prefer eating live prey unless there was absolutely no other option.

 

Still reeling, Taehyung blinked away the stars in his eyes and glanced up. They were directly under the entrance hall and they had an audience. He recognised Choi Dong Hyuk, the man who had once held his position and was now just a glorified babysitter for Jungkook and he most definitely recognised the Yakuza tattoos on the men Choi had been speaking to before the bloodbath erupted. The leaders of Inagawa-kai were scrambling to reassure Mother of their support after the Blue Tails disaster, fearing she was getting rid of alliances which weren’t benefitting Geomjeong-pa. These two appeared to be representatives of some sort.

 

Choi was no longer talking, he was just staring, and his two guests were doing the same, their faces turning green. Taehyung swam closer to the surface of the tank and held up a cheery V sign. Choi rolled his eyes and beckoned for the two men to follow, and they did, still staring over their shoulders.

 

A pair of size 8 shoes appeared from the direction of the front doors and then Jungkook’s face came level with the glass as he knelt down. His expression was incredulous when he saw Cersei feeding, but it quickly changed to anger when he spotted Taehyung. He banged on the glass and mouthed something, stabbing his finger in the shark’s direction. What Taehyung mouthed back, but Jungkook’s mouthing became more frantic and no less unintelligible. To infuriate him further, Taehyung pressed his face against the glass to mimic a kiss. Jungkook pressed his middle finger down in response.

 

“Diarrhea! She’s been suffering from diarrhoea and you stuff her chock full of human garbage!” Jungkook barked as soon as Taehyung stepped out of the freshly drained entrance corridor. He unzipped himself out of the diving suit and stepped out, hair dripping everywhere. He shook it in Jungkook’s general direction and laughed when the younger man punched him in the side with ferocity.

 

“Ooh, harder,” Taehyung cooed, wiggling his ass as he pushed the diving suit down his legs.

 

“She’s going to kill you if Cersei gets the runs again,” Jungkook told him.

 

“Wanna bet?” Taehyung sneered, sweeping his hair off his forehead.

 

“Yeah, if she ends up shitting herself to death, I’d bet on you getting your head crushed to a pulp.”

 

“Fine. Next time I’ll feed the human garbage to you. Now back the fuck up before you get smacked the fuck up,” Taehyung muttered. “I should smack you anyway since you never call me hyung.”

 

The look Jungkook gave him could have frozen over the Sahara. There was no doubt in Taehyung’s mind that one of these days, he would wake up to Jungkook hovering over him with a knife. It wouldn’t be as exciting as having a shark chomping away at human flesh just metres from him, but it would be something. He could hardly wait.  

 

“Come. I want you to meet someone,” he said, once he was back in his normal clothes. Jungkook hadn’t left as Taehyung had expected him to. He was still skulking around when Taehyung returned from dropping off his oxygen tank – still three quarters full – in a storage unit.

 

“You’re crazy if you think I’m going anywhere with you,” Jungkook said, quite predictably.

 

“Look, I know you hate me for killing the love of your life but get over it, alright? ‘Cause one of these days, Seokjin will be sending me to hunt you out and put you down. You’re not in the business of love here, Casanova.”

 

It was painfully endearing to see the myriad of expressions tear Jungkook’s features up, one after the other. Sure, he was young, and he was born into this, but he wasn’t made for it. Taehyung felt sorry for him most of the time. He felt no real sense of rivalry or hatred despite Jungkook’s unswervingly vicious emotions towards him. All Taehyung saw was a sad, loveless little boy who was starving for human empathy. He didn’t doubt Jimin had probably given him much of it, even when he didn’t mean to. Jimin was a born empath, and coupled with the needy, narcissistic wiles of Jeon Jungkook, the match was beyond toxic. No wonder Jungkook was whipped.

 

Hoseok was more than a little surprised to see Taehyung walk into his apartment with Jungkook trailing behind him. Hoseok knew of Jungkook, though he didn’t know what he looked like. But judging by the recognition in his face when he laid eyes on the younger male, Taehyung knew his description of ‘he looks like Benjamin Bunny’ was effective.

 

“Who’s this?” Jungkook said.

 

Taehyung and Hoseok exchanged glances, and the tension was palpable. Hoseok recovered first and held out his hand for Jungkook to shake. “We’re friends from back in Busan.”

 

And Taehyung decided to leave it at that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Namjoon had no memory of the night before to explain why he woke up in Mother’s bed.

 

He was in Kim Seokjin’s fucking bed.

 

Drowning in cream satin sheets and blinded by the light flooding through the French windows, he was lying with his injured leg trapped under him. Namjoon winced as he became very aware of the dull ache and shifted to release it. He froze when he caught sight of his own reflection in the vanity mirror. Beside him, Seokjin sat in a silken dressing gown, sipping tea as he flicked through the morning newspapers. His jet black hair was up in rollers. The scene was so absurdly domestic, Namjoon’s survival instincts didn’t kick in for a good while.

 

“Morning,” Seokjin said, turning a page.

 

Namjoon took a deep breath and his lungs wheezed. Seokjin turned to look at him as if he’d just farted. “Don’t look so frightened. We didn’t fuck. Though, be sure not to look too relieved either or I may have to punch you in the face.”

 

Namjoon decided he wouldn’t move a muscle, just to be safe. He passed the test. There was a derisive sparkle of mirth in Seokjin’s eyes as he turned back to his paper. Namjoon sank against the pillows, eyes wide as saucers as he stared into space. The minutes ticked by – literally, since there was a clock on the wall with a very audible tick– and the silence between them weighed down like hardening cement. Namjoon desperately needed to go to the bathroom but Seokjin seemed comfortable where he was. It didn’t seem right to leave the bed whilst he was there. Finally, he braved it, making movements that suggested he was about to vacate the king-size monstrosity.

 

“Mmm, you had a lot to drink last night,” Seokjin murmured, turning another page. “I imagine your bladder’s feeling the brunt of it.”

 

“I-I drank?” Namjoon croaked.

 

“Oh, and how.”

 

That didn’t sound like him. But no matter how he strained, his mind wouldn’t allow him access to the memories generated after he got into Mother’s car and they returned to her condo. Knowing that they hadn’t fucked was a smattering, but if he had agreed to sleep next to Seokjin, even whilst drunk, then he must have been a completely different person last night. By the look of amusement Seokjin could barely keep off his face, it was not the sort of person Namjoon would be fond of.

 

In the bathroom, Namjoon checked himself thoroughly for any signs that he had done anything with Seokjin last night, despite the man’s assurances to the contrary. Even on crutches with an injured leg, there was plenty they could have managed. But his neck was free of all marks. With lips like that, he would have left a mark. Namjoon shook his head as he envisioned them against his will. Déjà vu. In a flash, he remembered wanting to kiss Seokjin last night in his Mother persona. And hard. Something choked his windpipe as he tried to breathe – guilt, possibly – and Namjoon proceeded to splash his face with icy cold water. It brought back some clarity to his head, if none of the memories he desperately wanted.

 

Seokjin was still in the same position he’d left him. Namjoon bowed and muttered about having to do…something or other. Anything to get out of there, return to the station and inform the sergeant he wanted to be transferred as far away from Seoul as possible. Any sleepy little village in the countryside would do. He would handle missing bike cases for the rest of his fucking life, he didn’t care. Namjoon had seen more in the past month than he ever wanted to see in a lifetime.

 

“Darling, you’re forgetting something,” Seokjin called to him.

 

Namjoon turned to see him glancing at a thin folder on the bedside drawer. He limped across, setting one crutch against the wall to lift the folder up. The papers inside were printed with records of a bank account he didn’t recognise. The transactions recorded were filthy high in numbers, and he knew he was looking at the proof of a highly illegal offshore account, complete with an obscure address in the Maldives stamped on the far right corner.

 

“What is this?” he asked, dreading the answer even before he looked up to see Seokjin smiling complacently.

 

“Surely you’re not that hungover, Kim,’ Seokjin said, “This is your money. You earned it. You see, out of respect of him being a good friend of my father’s, I did Semion Mogilevich a little favour and buried a count of tax evasion he was very close to being pinned for. I referred him to you, trusted man of mine that you are, and said you’d be more than willing to store away the money in an offshore account in your name. You get a fraction of it for your services.”

 

None of that ever happened,” Namjoon laughed incredulously. “I’ve never even met Mogilevich.” The very name was like mentioning the Pope when it came to the international crime network. The Russian oligarch was so beyond the scope of South Korean police, they had strict instructions not to bother meddling with Russian mobsters operating in Seoul unless the repercussions of their activities directly affected civilians. And that, they rarely did. Seokjin was probably on very genial terms with Mogilevich but it was nothing to do with Namjoon and that was one thing he was certain of, hazy memories or not.

 

“It didn’t happen, huh? You don’t remember signing the papers?” Seokjin hummed.

 

“I didn’t sign any – “ Namjoon stopped as he saw his signature scrawled on the bottom. It was a little shaky but was undeniably his. Snippets of recollection gleamed in the darkness of his brain and he remembered admiring a silver pen carved into the shape of a dragon at the end. Just before he put it to paper and signed for what he thought was the bill. A fucking bill when we weren’t even at a fucking restaurant. And then he remembered more. Opposite him, Mother chuckled, the Jewel of Busan glittering around her neck in the soft light, blinding Namjoon when he looked directly at.

 

“Revived your memory a little?” Seokjin’s perfectly plucked eyebrow arched high. When he saw Namjoon’s fist clench on the folder, he added, “Don’t bother ripping it up. We both know you’re not stupid enough to believe that’s the original.”

 

He wasn’t. What he did know however, was that he was thoroughly fucked.

 

“I meant it, you know. I like you a lot. I want to see you do well. This is just security, an assurance that you will do what’s best for you and your family.”

 

Yeah, with this, he wasn’t going anywhere.

 

It was fifty years in jail right there in his hands. Namjoon dropped the folder onto the cabinet and grabbed his other crutch. He bowed to Seokjin, his face impassive, and then turned to hobble out. Outside, his brain overloaded with vivid, flashing, terrible images of men with blood pouring from their mouths, of gaunt, heroin-addicted hookers shot in dark alleyways and bundled into bin bags en route to the Han River.  Of men with their throats gaping though they were very much still alive. Of street kids turned into drug mules and sex slaves, brought to parties shrouded with cigarette smoke, through which the leers of rich men gleamed. It was PTSD, he knew that. He was calm enough to identify the sudden, horrific scream of his mind as it struggled to vent through his vocal chords. But he kept a lid on it. He wasn’t going to start screaming now. Not yet.

 

If he started, he would never stop.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Smiley was wonderful.

 

Jungkook had surpassed himself with the drug. Yoongi had ordered fresh shipments just days before the Blue Tails disaster and he now had enough to successfully fuel circulation through Busan and all its neighbouring cities. Though the strife with Mother had settled into a cold war, there was still no question of trading further with Jungkook, so the first and final shipment of Smiley down to Busan was decisively finite.

 

Against his better judgement, Jimin kept a stash for himself. Ten of them. He took one that night, on his own in the hotel room he had been staying in since he’d left Yoongi’s villa. It was quite possibly the most imbecilic decision he had made in a long time, testing out a drug he had never taken, whilst in pure isolation with no emergency plan if things went wrong. But he just wanted the hallucinations and he trusted Jungkook’s verdict that the ones created by Smiley were real beyond anything else the market had to offer.

 

Except they were so real, waking up the next morning meant waking up to sweat-stained sheets, vomit on the floor and blood smeared on the pillowcase. And he was pretty sure he’d wet the bed too judging by the smell, but he didn’t particularly want to check for certain. Yet, Jimin didn’t look half as bad as he felt.

 

Also, he’d had the hallucination he wanted.

 

He got to see his mother for the last time, again.

 

But it was quite literally the last time; it played out the same way it had happened eight years ago.

 

His father had come home early for once, thoroughly drunk. She put him to bed and seemed terribly nervous doing it. Jimin asked her what was wrong and if he could bring her anything, to which she smiled so bright, as if she were afraid she’d start crying if she didn’t smile wide enough. “You’re such a good son, my darling. I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you.” And then she turned to go hurrying up the stairs when his father yelled for her drunkenly.

 

Jimin remembered going to his room then. It was always his safety precaution, to retreat where he could lock the door if Dad went on one of his raging tirades. Jimin wasn’t old enough to beat him up for daring to hurt his mother, and he wasn’t big enough either. He had tried once but his father had thrown him off as easily as if he weighed nothing, sending him crashing down the stairs and fracturing Jimin’s left leg. His mother made him promise he would never come between them after that and to keep her from getting upset, Jimin promised. But he told himself he would one day. Just as soon as he was big enough to bash his father’s skull into the wall and see the blood gush from his nose.

 

She came to his room that night, a rare occurrence after ten pm. “What are you doing?” she asked gently, stroking his hair and kissing it. “Just homework,” Jimin answered, smiling bravely up at her. Mother and son had perfected their fake smiles until they could convince even each other they were okay. Jo Ara swallowed down her obvious misery and sat beside him, eyes sparkling with held back tears as she went through his English homework. After a minute’s silence, she made a sound of surprise and laughed. “You’ve gotten so much better, Christian! My goodness, I’ve raised a genius!”

 

“Don’t exaggerate, mom,” Jimin blushed, but he could barely keep his teeth behind his lips as he grinned.

 

“I’m not! You’re my little genius!” she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him. She was always liberal with her affection, it bubbled from her in abundance. Ara could never hold back when it came to her only child. He was the only one who made her smile the way she used to when she was young, and innocent to the evils of the world. She often told Jimin she had loved him long before he was conceived. She’d always envisioned her future child and how much love she would pour all over them, whether it was a boy or a girl, and she told him she would sometimes cry herself to sleep at night, fearing she’d have to raise her baby in poverty the way she herself was raised. Being poor had once been Ara’s only real fear. Wealth had not made her happy but when she looked at the comforts Jimin had, she was thankful for it.

 

They spent almost two hours together in his room, talking about the books Jimin had devoured in the last month, and the movies and TV shows he’d binged. Again, he told her he was incredibly lonely and wished he could go to high school, just like the kids he watched on his screen. Ara assured him that he would go to university eventually, and really, high school was overrated. He wasn’t convinced but she was so beguilingly innocent with her reassurances, Jimin accepted them.

 

The doorbell shattered the spell, and Jimin remembered thinking how strange it was for someone to call at midnight whilst his father was asleep. Only his father had guests and if it was this late at night, it was usually for parties he held on the other side of the house.

 

“I’ll go see who it is,” Ara said, getting to her feet and dusting down her dress as she did.

 

“Should I come with you, mom?” Jimin said, moving to follow her.

 

“Don’t be silly,” she giggled. “I don’t need protecting.”

 

“But, mom, all the servants are on holiday – “

 

“Yes, because I allowed them to be. Now, you sit tight, and I’ll be back in a short while, okay?”

 

The hallucinations from the drug were bringing back memories Jimin didn’t know he had. For instance, in his sober state, he remembered her leaving his room, and then fifteen minutes later, he was struck on the head from behind and everything went dark. But now he remembered going out into the hallway when he heard the distant voice of his mother speaking to someone. She seemed to be arguing, and a deeper voice was trying to reason with her. He was trying to reason with her. A strange detail to remember. Jimin leaned over the bannister as far as he could and saw the top of the man’s head. He was tall, broad-shouldered and dressed entirely in black and his hand was on Ara’s elbow, in the sort of intimate way Jimin had only ever seen Dad touch her. Then, the pair of them noticed him and Jimin ducked into the shadows before he could take a good look at the man’s face.

 

“I’ll be up in a minute, darling!” his mother called to him, “Go to bed.”

 

Jimin still didn’t know why he obeyed her without question. Sheltered and home-schooled or not, he was still a teenager at thirteen. His first reaction should have been defiance. He should have stayed there, should have gone downstairs to face the stranger and ask him who he was. Instead, he went into his own room, got cross-legged on the bed and put in his earphones.

 

Fifteen minutes later, he received the blow to the back of his head, the music in his ears having muffled out any approach from behind.

 

The come down from the drug was unforgiving. Jimin’s head still throbbed from where he’d banged it against the wall and cried and screamed until his throat was hoarse. He cried because his childhood bedroom was fading, and the hotel room was shimmering back into reality. The bannister disappeared, his mother vanished, and the warm lights of the chandelier took the stranger with them. He clawed at the wallpaper and the plaster and brick under it for half an hour, attempting to dig his way back into the hallucination. At some point, he must have passed out.

 

Feeling as if his bones had disintegrated, Jimin dragged himself across the floor and grabbed for his phone. He couldn’t dial, his fingers were shaking too much. He put the phone down on the floor and proceeded to steadily tap out the number with his nose, aiming at each number as if it were the hardest task in the world.

 

Threatening to kill someone he loved would only stir him into a murderous rage. To kill someone he loved without warning would do the same thing but it would shatter him. It wouldn’t give him the chance to prepare, to say any sort of goodbye.

 

Yoongi’s words replayed in a vivid flash.

 

What would it do then to warn Taehyung in advance, only for him to fail to save his father?

 

Jimin punched the floor with his fist as the shaking in his limbs became stronger, fuelled with a toxic swell of raging adrenaline. He took a few deep breaths, as if he had run a marathon and blew them out sharply through his front teeth. Then, the dial tone clicked as someone picked up on the other end.

 

“Fuck,” Jimin grunted, as his stomach heaved and he retched. Nothing came up. He gathered himself together and knelt up, cradling the phone in his hand. He closed his eyes and took a few more deep breaths in a desperate attempt to stop his head from spinning. “You’ve got shitty aim, motherfucker.”

 

For a while, there was nothing on the other end except for breathing. Then, a soft laugh.

 

“Your fault. You moved,” Taehyung said.

 

Jimin’s teeth crashed together and he bent over, stifling screams of pure rage. His nails clawed red marks into his thighs through the torn material of his jeans and his forehead knocked against his knees. He could no longer tell if it was the drug, or the pent up emotions he’d held onto for weeks. He almost hit the red button by accident and hung up as he struggled to keep a hold of himself.

 

“You don’t sound surprised I’m alive,” Jimin put the phone to his ear and practically panted the words out.

 

“I’m glad you’re alive, Jimin,” Taehyung said, and nothing in his voice suggested he meant it. There was a smile in his words. The bastard was grinning as he said it.

 

Jimin hit his fist against the side of his head to clear his vision and looked up towards the ceiling, praying to a God he didn’t believe in to grant him enough strength and patience to rip out Kim Taehyung’s jugular with his bare teeth.

 

“The worst mistake you ever made in your life was to leave me alive,” he said.

 

“Come on now, it was a clean wound. Healed pretty quickly, I bet. Don’t be mad, baby – “

 

“I’M NOT FUCKING KIDDING AROUND YOU SON OF A BITCH!” Jimin roared.

 

For once, Taehyung was stunned into silence.

 

“Where’s your dad, Kim Taehyung? Huh? Where’s- your - daddy?” Jimin laughed, looking and sounding exactly as insane as he felt. He scrambled to his feet, stumbling around until he found the mini bar and yanked it open to pull out a bottle of iced water. He popped the lid and upturned it over his head, groaning as his overheated skin screamed in relief. That fucking drug.

 

“Are you drunk?” Taehyung said levelly.

 

“I asked you where your fucking father is.”

 

“I don’t know, Jimin. Why are you asking me about my dad? Where are you?”

 

“You don’t know? Never mind, I’ll find him. Don’t you fucking worry, I’ll find him.”

 

Taehyung laughed again, but this time, he sounded uncertain. “Jimin, you’re delirious. Did you get treated for the wound or did you self-treat?”

 

Don’t  - “ Jimin stopped himself and deliberately lowered his voice to keep it from the shriek it was about to launch into. “Don’t patronise me. Don’t act like you’re the sane one of the two of us.”

 

“I am genuinely fucking concerned for you right now, you need to see a doctor – “

 

“Your father killed my mother.”

 

Dead silence on the other end.

 

“Funny how history repeats itself. Kim Bong Ju, Geomjeong-pa’s prized hitman. And now Kim Taehyung, Geomjeong-pa’s mad dog. Sort of a family business now, isn’t it?”

 

“How do you know his name?”

 

“What?”

 

“How do you know my dad’s name?” Finally, there it was, the first stirrings of the psychotic freak Jimin had fallen in love with. The dangerous, dark droplets of Taehyung’s insanity could be heard in his voice as he repeated his question.

 

“Ask Mother. Mention Kim Bong Ju to her and hear for yourself what she has to say. It’s not my job to fill in the blanks for you. All you need to know is your dad killed my parents, burnt their house to the ground and left me for dead in an alleyway. He helped Geomjeong-pa become everything it is today, didn’t you know? That fucking shark under Mother’s house, her tigers, her luxury lifestyle – it’s aaallll Park money – it’s all my fucking money  - “

 

Jimin sank against the wall as his heart almost gave out. It skipped a couple beats and he nearly collapsed in his panic. Either he had taken another pill by accident when he was riding the high of the first one, or Jungkook hadn’t considered the symptoms of the come-down to be worthy of consideration when he’d approved it for distribution. And yet still, Jimin managed to stay on his feet. For how long though, he didn’t know.

 

“I am going to find him, and I am going to kill him and dump his lifeless body at your feet. Do you know why I warned you ahead of time? So that despite your attempts, I can beat you to him. I can’t wait to see what you look like knowing you failed to save the only family you have left. I can’t fucking wait. The day you’re as dead inside as I am, Kim Taehyung, is the day I let you kill me for real.”

 

 

Click.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Trigger warning: Mentions of implied child trafficking.

 

There was something strangely captivating about Hoseok.

 

Jungkook hadn’t believed him for a minute when Taehyung had professed, they were “friends”. He had never seen Taehyung associate on a personal level with anyone; he gave the term ‘lone wolf’ a whole new intensity of depth. But the longer he spoke to Hoseok, Jungkook began to see why. He eyes were the colour of molasses and his smile was as sweet, dimples perforating his creamy cheeks at the slightest hint of a smile. He paid attention to every word, as if the speaker was his only focus in the entire universe. It wasn’t hard at all to understand why Taehyung was attached to him, though this attachment had none of the strange, territorial vibes he had around Jimin.

 

It wasn’t long before Jungkook introduced Hoseok to Namjoon and the others (minus Lisa who had been whisked away to Thailand by her father for reasons yet unknown).

 

“You’re both undercover cops – or used to be – I feel like you’ll have loads of stuff to talk about,” Jungkook told them, a decidedly malicious smirk curling his lips.

 

They didn’t. They sat awkwardly as Hoseok’s innate charm failed to make an appearance.  Jungkook was aware his presence was part of it, but that didn’t dissuade him from spreading his legs as he sat down in an armchair between them. His condo had been refurbished after the brutal takeover by Mother’s men the day they took Jimin away. It was as if not a single thing had been moved out of position.

 

Namjoon was not making eye contact with either of them. His eyes were glazed over and glued firmly to the surface of the table. Hoseok’s eyes darted nervously to the door every so often, as if he expected Taehyung to walk in and rescue him. Jungkook looked at one and then the other, resisting the urge to giggle.

 

Jinsim Insamju? It’s plum-flavoured,” he offered, tapping his hand against the side of his chair. The bottle and glasses were right there on the table, untouched thus far. Both Namjoon and Hoseok murmered in agreement, though it was more obviously out of politeness than anything else. Jungkook poured, offering a glass first to Hoseok, and then Namjoon, raising his own after. “Geonbae.”

 

No one responded. Hoseok took a sip, suppressed a shiver, and then smiled, pretending to like it. Jungkook’s smirk faded and he downed his own glass. Then, he waited for Namjoon to do the same. When the older man did not, Jungkook slammed his own glass down on the table with a throaty, exaggerated sigh of satisfaction.

 

“So, Namjoon, looks like you’re Mother’s new favourite. What’s the basis of attraction then? Did you fuck her?” he announced.

 

Hoseok went perfectly still, however his eyes flicked between Jungkook and Namjoon, quicker than the roll of a dice. Jungkook still smiled, that passive, bland expression, but his eyes burned black as coals. Namjoon finally looked up, and the look in his eyes was as transparent as ice.

 

“I’m not gay,” he said.

 

“Everyone says that at some point in their life,” Jungkook answered. “It’s not what I asked though.”

 

“No. I haven’t,” Namjoon said levelly.

 

“See, I knew there was a reason I liked you. Be careful though. If she doesn’t want to fuck you, she wants something else from you,” Jungkook answered.

 

Namjoon nodded to show he understood. Jungkook also liked that about him. Though he knew the cop in no way meant to show any sort of reverence to someone younger and far more irresponsible, he was good at faking it. Jungkook would have quite liked to earn the respect of someone like Namjoon. Someday, that nod of quiet deference would be genuine, he would make sure of it.

 

“Jungkook?” Hoseok’s voice was genial and hesitant. He waited until the subject of his question turned to look at him before going on. This one knows how to handle himself around alpha males, Jungkook thought. “Are you related to Mother?”

 

Jungkook shook his head. “My mom was good friends with the Kim family. My grandfather was a wealthy banker until he lost all his money through bad investments and killed himself. Kim Seo Joon took her under his wing.”

 

“What about your father?”

 

Jungkook fidgeted, his smooth veneer of machismo slipping. “She was in love with some guy who didn’t love her back apparently. He got her pregnant with me and abandoned her. I love her, but I’ve always thought of my mother as a whore. I think most mothers are whores. They debase themselves for men who aren’t worth it in return for what? Love? Money? A ring? Mine didn’t get any of the three so she wasn’t a very good whore.”

 

Namjoon cleared his throat, interjecting the intensely uncomfortable silence that followed. Jungkook’s hand was tight around the glass, fingers white and trembling. “I’ve seen a picture of your mom. You look exactly like her. I don’t see any other features in your face,” he supplied.

 

Jungkook snorted. “You don’t have to pat me on the back and burp me like a baby. I’m over it. Even if I looked like the bastard who left her, it changes nothing. She killed herself over him and he obviously found something else that was worth his time. What about you?”

 

He didn’t direct the question to any one of them in particular. Hoseok spoke up first, “Me or him?”

 

Jungkook shrugged. “I don’t know. If we’re sharing shitty back stories then whoever wants to, go ahead. I really don’t fucking care.”

 

He pressed the cold glass against the side of his head and closed his eyes, letting the scent of it inhale through his nostrils. Jimin loved plum wine. Jimin loved a lot of things Jungkook had taught himself to love. Fucking Jimin.  

 

“I had a pretty normal family life. A mom, a dad, an older sister and a dog. Picture perfect,” Hoseok said.

 

“And yet you ended up here,” Namjoon murmured. It was the first time he had directly addressed Hoseok without Jungkook’s coercion. They stared at each other and Hoseok broke first. He smiled, that innocuous expression designed to set even the hardest of hearts at ease. It didn’t have an effect on Namjoon whose mask remained steely.

 

“Yes, I ended up here. Life is funny that way,” he admitted.

 

“There is nothing funny about forfeiting your oath to protect the people of our country and switching over to the side that exploits them.” Namjoon’s voice was harsh and his jaw was pulled tighter than a drawstring.

 

“Why do you think I switched sides, Officer Kim?”

 

“For money? For prestige? For love?” The last word came out as a scoff. “Enlighten me.”

 

‘For peace of mind,” Hoseok answered, his face blank. “There is nothing worse than working for an institution festering with hypocrisy. Busan has twice the number of police officers tucked away in the mafia’s pocket than Seoul. Imagine a world where it’s easier to be at the right hand of the devil in order to lessen the harm wreaked upon innocents.”

 

“Namjoon doesn’t have to imagine, he’s already there,” Jungkook muttered, draining his glass.

 

Namjoon stayed mute. Hoseok sighed and put down his still full glass. “However, I admire people who stick to their principles, just as I understand it is unavoidable for others to change lanes once in a while.”

 

“I feel like you two are going to be good friends,” Jungkook grinned.

 

“I don’t,” Namjoon said shortly, and putting down his glass, he got up and left the room without a backwards glance.

 

Jungkook mouthed for a moment, taken by surprise. He turned to see Hoseok with a sad little smile on his face and said, “Sorry. I think the shark incident took a lot out of him.”

 

“Taehyung told me,” Hoseok nodded. “I thought Min Yoongi was bad. I don’t ever want to come face-to-face with Mother.”

 

“It’ll happen eventually. You just need to make sure you’re halfway prepared for it,” Jungkook told him. “Which you won’t be. No one ever is. Not for her..”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“Mother wishes to see you.”

 

Five words, clean, short and curt. Namjoon had heard them before, but in reference to Jungkook. This was the first time he heard the words addressed to himself. He knew it would be the dumbest thing in the world to make her wait, though he was in no mood to face her or indeed anyone after the stifling encounter with Taehyung’s “cop” friend. Jungkook did not usually hold the ability to piss Namjoon off but he had done so a lot ever since the Cersei incident. Either that, or Namjoon’s patience was running extremely short things he would have previously overlooked.

 

Mother was in all grey today, her pencil skirt pristine except for a single ruffle running diagonally from waist to hem. Her silvery blouse was strategically open a few buttons down, broad shoulders giving her whole figure a striking, statuesque air. Her wig was silver blonde, thick, sleek and straight falling down her shoulders, framing the fragile beauty of her face. Her eyes were as vicious as ever, hidden away behind a pair of thin-rimmed spectacles. She smiled when she saw Namjoon, the genial, kind smile of a friend pleased to see him. Namjoon bowed, and went forward to stand before her desk, his eyes turned downwards until she addressed him. It was sort of like approaching a crocodile with its jaws deceptively closed.

 

“Is Jungkook bothering you?” Mother said.

 

Namjoon started in surprise. “I beg your pardon?”

 

“You don’t seem happy.”

 

“I think I have quite a few reasons not to be happy. Interesting that you landed on that one.”

 

“True. But I doubt Jungkook is helping your “unhappiness”. You can move out of his condo, you know. Where would you like to live? I have many properties in Gangnam. You can have an apartment in the Lotte Tower, just like Taehyung has.”

 

“Forgive me, but I’d rather camp with Jungkook in a tent then live in the same building as Kim Taehyung,” Namjoon said.

 

“Then what do you want?”

 

Namjoon knew he was on thin ice. He was always on thin ice with her, no matter how soft her offers of aid were. Right now, he was an oddity, something which baffled and intrigued her. The moment he stopped being so, he could end up reuniting with the shark. He cajoled himself to stand straighter and made a mental note to soften his eyes when he lifted them up. It seemed he succeeded because hers softened accordingly, believing she was getting through to him. Or whatever she believed inside that head of hers.

 

“I’d like to be part of your security protocol,” Namjoon said bluntly. “I’ve been part of the mayor’s security for a short stint as part of my training in the field, so I’m not without experience.”

 

Mother didn’t say anything for a while. Namjoon feared he had overstepped. She took off her glasses and propped the temple tips between her teeth. Her lips tugged into a smirk and she lifted and dropped an eyebrow in wry amusement.

 

“Well, you certainly have moxie, asking to guard someone who caused you bodily harm by use of a wild sea predator. You already know what my logical response should be, but you’re banking on the illogical, aren’t you? What are you up to, Kim Namjoon?”

 

Of course, it would be easier to kill Mother whilst tasked to keep her from being killed. But as she predicted, that wasn’t on the agenda. Hoseok’s words returned to him despite his initial distaste at the ex-cop’s career arc. They made a startling amount of sense in this context and Namjoon decided to test the waters.

 

“I would never actually kill you, though the thought was rampant in my dreams the first few days after the shark tank,” he admitted. “But I know you’re the only thing holding Geomjeong-pa together, as the compact, well-oiled machine it is. If you died, it would explode into factions and civil war would break out on the streets of Seoul. Jungkook can’t hold his own and you have far too many domineering, contrasting personalities controlling your major districts of operation. You need to stay alive. Hence, why I wish to be a part of your security protocol.”

 

Was that admiration in her eyes? Or was it just smugness as usual? No, there was definitely something more. She seemed pleased with his answer, as if he had exceeded her expectations in giving it.

 

“There’s a rigorous training process. I like you, but I don’t like you enough to show favouritism,” she said.

 

“I understand,” Namjoon bowed.

 

“Then, I suppose we have an arrangement. And I trust you will be turning in that report on Yong Geondal to your Commissioner General when the time comes?”

 

“I will.”

 

“Good. I also have a few other names which need seeing to – “

 

“I thought it was Taehyung’s job to be your executioner.”

 

She glanced up sharply, and again, Namjoon tensed, believing he had fucked up. But then, she continued without a pointed remark. “I don’t want them killed. I want them to be wary for reneging on agreements with Geomjeong-pa, and I want them to be encouraged to return to the fold.”

 

“My conscience means nothing in the grand scheme of things, but I do feel a little better about turning in Yong Geondal drug rings, than tarnishing the names of innocent men.”

 

“If you’d let me finish, I’d explain, Namjoon-ssi,” Mother sighed. Namjoon decided he wouldn’t open his mouth now till directed. She lifted her phone and tapped away, before swiping and setting it back down. “I’ve just sent you files to peruse. I’m sure you’ll find them enlightening – in fact, do it now. I won’t have you standing there and judging me. Go on.”

 

Namjoon did so, uncertainly, and opened up his email. The zip folder was absurdly named Kiddie Gang and though the ominous part of his brain told him it was probably exactly what he was thinking, Namjoon opened it. It took just a minute before he got through a page of writing and came to the first photograph. He blanched and hit the lock button on his phone, washing the screen in welcome blackness once more.

 

“There are some very powerful names in there, so I doubt the Commissioner General will want to charge all of them,” Mother said. “But the report’s already been compiled for you. Turns out, it was put together by Park Jimin. Ahn had him do it in case he and his wife needed a quick way out of Seoul and required a fat wallet to blackmail. Too bad they never saw Taehyung coming.”

 

“They’re paedophiles. Why wouldn’t the Commissioner General want to prosecute them?” Namjoon said, his voice shaking.

 

“Well, because one is his brother-in-law,” Mother chuckled. “I want him to know I know. He will then relay the information onto the men in question, discretely. It’s better than having my men roll up at their gates and face their security personnel for some sort of chaotic shootout. I like having the police understand that my network of information is larger than theirs. It keeps them in thrall.” She pulled out a nail file and began to tend to her middle finger, carefully measuring the nail down to a similar length to the rest of until she was satisfied.

 

“How can they all be – “ Namjoon stopped. Why was he even asking? When had he ever assumed good of anything? He knew better than anyone else the downsides of being optimistic. And yet sometimes, it always felt like a brand new slap in the face to find out how just how ugly his species could be.

 

“Geomjeong-pa do not trade in children,” Mother explained, interlacing her fingers on the table. “I won’t discuss any morals or ethics behind that, or if there are any. We just don’t. But Inagawa-kai and other minor Yakuza branches operating in Seoul do. The Serbs ship them over the way they used to ship over white women. However, white girls are no longer the commodity they once were – too much availability, not enough demand. The desires of rich and powerful men are always devolving, and merchants are always there to provide. The men in those files are the select few who seem to think Geomjeong-pa is not intimidating enough to keep them from trading with the Yakuza for little boys and girls. Now, I can’t kill these men, they have too much money and influence – both we need – but their reputations mean nothing to me and everything to them. Their good name is what stands as their Sword of Damocles.”

 

Namjoon took a deep breath and nodded. If he didn’t think about it too hard, he could navigate the whole thing with a clear mind. If he didn’t think about it too hard, he could pretend the young trafficking victims would not be abused if the rich men of Seoul no longer bought them. If he didn’t think about it too hard, he could ignore that the demand for them would be met elsewhere. If he didn’t think about it too hard, he could forget his grandfather’s voice in his head and –

 

“Namjoon?”

 

He opened his eyes (when had he closed them?) and saw Mother was on her feet now, standing by the window. She was watching him with a strange expression, eyes filled with sunlight as it streamed through the bulletproof glass in abundance.

 

“Yes…?” Namjoon trailed off. He was about to call her ‘ma’am’ and yet he had never heard anyone address her as such. They repeatedly called her Mother, but it felt awfully stifling to use it after every sentence and besides, he hadn’t cared about informality thus far. If he was to officially work for her though, some boundaries of respect needed to be put in place.

 

“You’ve gone quiet again. What’s going on inside that head?” she said, almost as if she were talking to a child.

 

Namjoon slowly walked over to join her. He noticed he was about an inch or so taller when she wasn’t wearing heels. Even with the sunlight illuminating her every feature and leaving no imperfections in shadow, she was nothing short of stunning.

 

“I was just – thinking about what I saw in that file. It was just the one photograph but I don’t think I can keep on scrolling,” he admitted. “I don’t know how Jimin put the whole together because he seems like he’d be worse at stomaching something like that.”

 

“You knew him?” Mother asked, quick to pick up on the nugget of information he’d let slip.

 

“For a short while, yes. After your Trio beat him up, I found him in the hospital and I tried to talk him out of joining the gang. I just thought he was some kid off the streets I could save, but that was wishful thinking.”

 

“Yes, well, just like most of your presumptions about Park Jimin were proven wrong, so was this one. That boy is stronger than he looks. He comes from incredibly powerful stock after all. Though I do believe they said his mother was a whore in Busan at some point. Still, whores are arguably stronger in substance than the average person. I know I could never fuck a hideous old lecher for money.” Mother turned and removed a pearl-handled, silver pistol from the embossed handbag sitting on the desk “Colt Model 1903. It’s lovely. Hold it in your hand.”

 

Namjoon hesitated, before holding out his palm and allowing her to place the gun into it. Her conversational topics whipped like a snake, swerving here and there on a whim. The pistol was beautiful, a semi-automatic model and hammerless. The pearl was hard and polished under his touch and the rivets caught the light in the most fascinating of patterns. It was more of a decoration than a weapon though he saw that it was loaded. He squeezed off the safety, and then clicked it back on again.

 

“You know, I – “ Mother never got to finish her sentence as the speakers came alive and her guard announced that Kim Taehyung was here to see her. She frowned in surprise, before glancing at Namjoon a little disappointedly. It seemed she hadn’t planned on interruptions, but Taehyung’s visit was inopportune enough to have her curious. “Send him in,” she said.

 

He appeared a few moments later, in a concrete-coloured pea coat that stretched down to his knees, tailor-made to fit him. He had always been handsome, even in the ill-fitting suits Namjoon had seen him in when he’d first come to Seoul but what wonders a change in wardrobe could do. Finally, he seemed like a grown man and not a baby-faced killer with a wicked smile.

 

Taehyung was distressed. His face was wiped blank of emotion but the tell-tale signs were there. His hand kept clenching and unclenching, his eyelashes fluttered at every other blink and his jaw was set. Namjoon tilted his head and stepped back a little, interested to see how this would play out. Mother had not excused him, so he assumed he was free to watch. Taehyung didn’t seem to care. He didn’t even notice Namjoon standing there. His attention was all for Mother.

 

He came to a stop just behind the chair at the other side of her curved desk and uttered three syllables that made her go still. “Kim Bong Ju.”

 

The silence between them went on for the longest time. The nervous energy around Taehyung was starting to unsettle Namjoon and he eyed the length of the man’s coat, figuring out where he could have positioned his holster. It was all gut instinct that told him this might turn ugly, nothing more.

 

“Kim Bong Ju,” Mother repeated. “Have you been speaking to Jungkook? And if so, what does he have to do with you?”

 

“You don’t know?” Taehyung exhaled, laughing a little in disbelief. “You know everything, and you’re trying to fake that you don’t know? Come on now.”

 

“Taehyung, I hope you have a very solid point to make or you’re about to get dragged out of here with a noose around your neck,” Mother answered.

 

“Kim Bong Ju is my father,” Taehyung spat.

 

Namjoon had no clue who Kim Bong Ju was, but he thought oh boy when he saw Mother’s shoulders tighten.

 

“Are you high?” Mother asked. “Your father left you as a child. You told me so yourself.”

 

“Yes, and apparently, he went back to his old job – taking out people your dad had quarrels with!” Taehyung snapped. “You do background checks on everyone, I refuse to believe you didn’t find out, which means you decided not to tell me that I somehow ended up in the same fucking position as the man I’ve been trying to find for over a decade!”

 

Mother seemed taken aback enough to overlook Taehyung’s blatant rudeness. She was staring at him as if she’d seen a ghost, and comprehension began to dawn in her eyes the longer she studied his features. And then, she laughed, a sharp, rough sound.

 

“Well, fuck me, how did I not see it?” she murmured.

 

“You’re still trying to pull the oblivious shit?” Taehyung said.

 

“Taehyung, believe me, I am as surprised as you – “

 

Taehyung’s draw was quick, so quick, Namjoon barely even saw his arm move before it was stretched out with a gun in his hand. Of course, they let Mother’s favourite in here fully armed. He was entitled to the right. And now she was staring down the barrel of a gun, at the end of which stood a man clearly bent on harming her. Namjoon made a snap judgement and decided to regret the consequences later. Off came the Colt’s safety and then he had it trained directly at Taehyung’s head.

 

“Put the gun down or I shoot,” Namjoon said. “You might be fast, but you’re not fast enough to take us both out. You will die.”

 

“Maybe it’ll be worth it,” Taehyung leered, starting to pull the trigger. “She’s fucked with me long enough. She’s the same as Yoongi, they’re all the fucking same – “

 

Something had clearly snapped in his head and Namjoon knew he was speaking to someone way beyond the point of sanity, even for Taehyung. But Mother was surprisingly docile, both hands placed on the table where Taehyung could see them, ensuring she made no sudden movements. Her tone was actually quite pleasant when she spoke.

 

“A month ago, I set Jungkook on the task of tracking Kim Bong Ju down. You see, he vanished after killing the Parks in a house fire, and never returned to claim his prize. Father wanted to reward him heftily, to give him a share of the Parks’ fortune, but he never saw or heard from him again before his death. I simply wanted to tie up the loose end and give Kim what he was owed. Since I found out Jimin survived, naturally, I have questions for him, so trust me, if I knew where he was, or even that he was your father, I would have made no secret of it. Now, why don’t you be a good boy and put down the gun, there’s a dear…”

 

Namjoon glanced at her, incredulous. She was speaking to him as if he were a little boy though she wasn’t much older herself. He looked back at Taehyung, his palms starting to sweat against the smooth veneer of the Colt in his hand and wondered if this would actually work. He saw the intense need to know burning in Taehyung’s eyes and realised that it would. Still, Namjoon kept the gun aloft until Mother put a hand on his arm and made him lower it, slow and steady. Taehyung waited about five seconds before doing the same thing. Mother didn’t speak, waiting. Like a chastised child, Taehyung set his gun on the table.

 

“Now, I think we all should take a seat and have a little chat. Would anyone like some tea?” Mother said cheerily.

 

Namjoon understood where Jungkook got his blasé attitude from. The tea was declined on both ends but Mother wanted to have some and ended up ringing the bell for the maid. Somehow, she managed to coerce the other two into having freshly poured cups despite their declining and for the second time that day, Namjoon found himself forced to drink a beverage he did not want, in a very awkward situation.

 

“So, he’s your father. And you had no idea he was Geomjeong-pa? That makes some sort of sense if you really were born and raised in rural Daegu before he left you,” Mother said. “Though I don’t think any of us knew he was married.”

 

Taehyung said nothing.

 

“Father liked him, a lot,” Mother explained. “It’s starting to add all sorts of dots knowing you two were related. You’re not as refined as Daddy dear, but you’re certainly getting there. They called him the Ring Collector, since he had a penchant for sending the marriage fingers of his victims’ to their loved ones, whilst keeping the wedding rings if there were any. Had quite the little trophy collection your Daddy did. Mine treasured it until the day he died. He always hoped he’d get to return it to Bong Ju.”

 

“Jimin’s alive,” Taehyung said.

 

Namjoon’s eyebrows shot up, stretching painfully high.

 

“Of course, he is,” Mother rolled her eyes. “The way you stabbed him. I thought I was watching something out of a shitty romance movie. Where is he?”

 

“Choi Hong Jun was caught on CCTV during the Blue Tails shootout. He must have followed us to the station and taken Jimin before the cops could.”

 

“So, Min Yoongi has him. My god, I never thought you’d fail at something, but now that you have, what a shit show it’s turning out to be,” Mother snorted. “Let me guess – Jimin found out about Kim Bong Ju, found out he’s your father, and that he killed his parents, and now he’s on some quest for revenge, is that it? What sort of a sordid, Mexican telenovela is this perfectly respectable crime syndicate turning into?” She threw her hands up in mock defeat and sat back in her chair with a pouty huff.

 

Namjoon had the strangest, most terrible urge to laugh.

 

“Jimin must have found out from Yoongi, and if Yoongi found out of his own accord who my dad was, then he’s already halfway to knowing where he is. Meanwhile, I haven’t a fucking clue. Jimin’s going to kill him if I don’t get there first.” Taehyung sounded almost pleading, and Namjoon wondered what it was like to have a father one yearned for. He could almost envision Taehyung as a little boy with puppy-dog eyes, waiting on the sunlit porch of a home his father would never return to.

 

“Well, you need to ask Jungkook because, my love, that was his task. It’s not on me to save my father’s ex-henchmen from death,” Mother answered.

 

“He killed Jimin’s parents on Kim Seo Joon’s command!”

 

“And left Jimin alive, for god knows what reason. Honestly, he brought this on himself. Besides, do you truly think Park Jimin could take out the likes of your father? I don’t.”

 

“Jimin had everyone fooled far longer than he should have. He got into Jungkook’s head and turned him against you. He got into my head and had me believing Yoongi had turned on the both of us. He even got into your pet officer’s head and had him getting all protective and trying to save him from the life he chose for himself!” that last was joined by an accusatory stab of the finger in Namjoon’s general direction and on cue, the officer squirmed a little.

 

“Well, he didn’t technically get into your head. I believe his ass “slipped” and fell on your dick and your head just sort of wrangled itself into smithereens,” Mother said, tart as ever. “just like your father, you have no one to blame but yourself when it comes to Park Jimin. However, for old times’ sake, I will promise round-the-clock protection for Bong Ju and safe passage out of the country once we find him. It’s more than you deserve after pointing a gun at my head, but I think it’s quite poetic that our partnership should be as prolific as that of our respective fathers. Let’s not end it on a sour note. Now leave, because just looking at you right now is making my blood boil.”

 

And then she crossed her arms and refused to look at Taehyung, fixing her eyes on the muted TV mounted to the wall on the opposite wall. Again, that horrible urge to start laughing surged through Namjoon and he had to force his eyes away from her petulant pout. He stood up, assuming the role of bodyguard unofficially, and gestured for Taehyung to head for the door.

 

“What the fuck are you doing?” Taehyung said as soon as they were in the antechamber between her office and the hallway leading to the rest of the house.

 

“What do you mean?” Namjoon blinked, acting innocent.

 

“She almost kills you and now you’re protecting her?”

 

“I can’t have you killing one of Interpol’s Most Wanted without the chance to put her through trial.”

 

“Don’t bullshit me. You’ve switched sides.”

 

Namjoon threw back his head in a mock burst of laughter. “Ha! I’m not Hoseok.”

 

“Oh, you’ve met, have you?” Taehyung sneered.

 

“Yes, we have, and I’ve decided I’m no longer associating with people from Busan because all of you are a pack of fucking trouble. When you see Jimin again – and you probably will very soon, knowing how quickly he moves when he wants something – give him my regards. And tell him I was right – he doesn’t belong in your world, he never did, and putting a bullet in your head is going to be his biggest achievement to date.”

 

With that, Namjoon turned and walked back into Mother’s office, back into relative safety. He really hadn’t liked the look in Taehyung’s eyes the further on he got with his rambled, impulsive speech. Whenever he spoke to the man it felt as if he were taunting a tiger with a lit torch and daring it to brave the fire and jump at him.

 

“Is he gone?” Mother scowled.

 

“Yes.” Namjoon took the seat Taehyung had vacated and put down the gun at last. On second thought, he lifted it and gave it a furtive polish to wipe away the sweaty palm prints now gleaming on the pearly finish.

 

“My mother had a saying she used quite often as an expletive at the end of an angry outburst – all men are trash.” Mother set her chin on her hand in the manner of a sulky young child and glowered at the screen where a live car chase was being televised. Some junkie had taken off with an entire ambulance worth of paramedics and drugs. “So, I used to ask her if all men are trash, why did she then tolerate my father’s infidelities? She said “Seokjin-ah, people learn to live with their trash. It’s in their kitchen bins, in the bins outside their home, in waste baskets. You have to keep your trash collected and restrained nearby so it won’t go out and pollute the rest of the world. I stopped keeping the trash that is your father under check, and off he went.”

 

“Your mom sounds…interesting,” Namjoon said.

 

“The woman was a crazy bitch,” Mother waved it off. “But there was some truth in her strange, convoluted metaphor. She was right to believe in it. My father had a prolonged affair with her best friend, the wife of some banker in Geomjeong-pa’s employ, and got her pregnant. Mom always believed she herself couldn’t have kids – I wasn’t born then – so her misery turned to hatred and she had the woman killed and took her baby away. The baby was a girl. Jeon Jung Ah, my mother named her, and took her in.”

 

“Jeon…?”

 

The smile Mother gave him was dryer than sand. “Jungkook’s mother, yes. Fucking Mexican telenovela, what did I tell you?”

 

“Does he – “

 

“Know? Not at all. And I don’t intend to tell him.”

 

“Why?” It was a simple enough question but Namjoon felt almost afraid to ask it. It seemed like an intrusion and he had already been party to more than one fucked up revelation today.

 

“He’s so dependent on my love and affection now, imagine if he thinks he deserves it because he’s my nephew,” Mother sneered. “No, I prefer him the way he is. A guilt-ridden, psychotic little bunny who has psychosexual fantasies about me being a maternal figure in his life. Let’s not make it weirder, shall we?”

 

The expression on Namjoon’s face clearly said too late for that.

 

 

 

Chapter Text

 

 

 

Namjoon quickly understood he was the new favourite.

 

Kim Seokjin found reasons to summon him, to have him there in meetings with men that worked high up in Geomjeong-pa’s ranks and spoke of nothing but money, money, money. Taehyung was nowhere to be found anymore. How short and hard the fall of the mighty was, though, it was Namjoon that was at risk of crash landing. He always kept his mouth shut, and his face blank, since he had learned it was the fool proof way to keep resentful eyes turning on him. Essentially, he was a poodle, a lap dog for Seokjin to flaunt around. Look at my new pet, isn’t he well-behaved. Often, Seokjin would lean back in his chair and smile up at him, stroke his elbow and guide him forward with a sleek, “Namjoon, what do you think?” And then, Namjoon would have to stare down a room full of far older, more experienced men, scowling at him for daring to have an opinion at all, and unwillingly part with his thoughts.

 

It was like being trapped in a bubble without air or gravity. He could breathe, his feet touched the ground, and yet the outside world was so cleanly cut off, it was as if he truly was in space. He had often thought how the line attaching astronauts to their spacecraft was like an umbilical cord. Well, he didn’t fucking have one and he didn’t want to think about one materialising between himself and an individual who liked to be known as ‘Mother’. The metaphorical layers of Oedipus Complex in that idea was not something he wished to focus on.

 

His attraction –Namjoon had admitted to himself that was what it was – had not lessened in any way whatsoever. He still had moments where his eyes landed on Seokjin’s face by accident and couldn’t move away. He had taken to calling him ‘Seokjin’ in his head, even when he was very firmly in his Mother persona. A subconscious form of intimacy perhaps. Though it frightened him, he couldn’t stop. Just like he couldn’t stop thinking about how Seokjin had a habit of tracing his lips with his finger when he was thinking. Again and again, until Namjoon fell into a near hypnotic trace just following his index finger. And in the back of his head, his brain churned out the visual image of replacing that finger with his tongue. Of hearing Seokjin’s soft little whimper as Namjoon refused to let his tongue slip into his mouth and allow him a taste. Of feeling those spindly white fingers claw into the flesh of his neck, both hateful and passionate, irate that for once, he wasn’t getting what he wanted –

 

“Namjoon.”

 

Namjoon jerked from his reverie and looked up to see Seokjin staring at him, fixedly. He was dressed in an impeccable, royal blue suit, a bright pink cravat tucked under a  collared shirt. Cufflinks in the shapes of scarab beetles glinted at his sleeves when he ran his hand through his hair.

 

“You seem preoccupied,” Seokjin said.

 

“I would think so. I just heard you discuss the renewed distribution of cheap cocaine in Japanese university campuses,” Namjoon answered.

 

“Oh. That.” Seokjin glanced at his phone which had been up to his ear a minute ago. “Well, better on the Japs turf than ours.”

 

“You also distribute crystal meth and marijuana on Korean campuses.”

 

“That’s right, we do,” Seokjin giggled, a musical, clear sound. “Whoopsie.”

 

Namjoon frowned. It was unnatural to see him in such a chipper mood. He had two moods – perfectly still and raging like a volcano. The former was most common and was terrifying enough, but the latter was sheer horror. This playful, twinkling character he did not like. He did not understand it and it made the hairs on his skin rise.

 

“Cocaine is worse for the heart, and meth is toxic to the brain. So, you’re putting the Japanese students at risk of heart attacks, and the Koreans are getting their brains fucked with,” he said sternly.

 

“The Korean students who can afford coke regularly have rich parents,” Seokjin shrugged. “They’re sorted even if they don’t get the grades they should because of their fucked brains.”

 

“They get free rides into law offices, into the government – they become the people in charge of the rest of us,” Namjoon retorted.

 

“And their dependence on cocaine, and to people like me, remains firm. Leaving Geomjeong-pa to pull the real strings, which is as it should be From a business perspective, you just defined the perfect Five Year Plan, Kim Namjoon. Stalin would be proud.”

 

It was pointless. Seokjin saw his face fall, and his expression darkened a little. He sat up straighter, signalling for a waiter to bring over another round of shots. They were at Rooftop Kloud, seated on the terrace just outside the rest of the bar inside. One word to the owner of the bar and the terrace had been emptied for them the minute Seokjin walked in. Namjoon wondered what it felt like to have such power at one’s fingertips. How life would even seem worth living if things came so easy. He didn’t understand the mindset at all. He felt out of place as he followed behind his boss, but a brief glance in the large windows behind him and he frowned in surprise. The suit looked much better in the glowing dimness of night.

 

Seokjin had sent him to his personal tailor a fortnight ago to get his measurements taken and the man had whipped up a simple, burgundy three piece; it fit like a glove and looked even better. Namjoon had never worn something so expensive in his life and he kept fiddling with the sleeves and the buttons on the lapel, as if he had to find something wrong with it. His hair was swept back, combed for once, and it was clear Seokjin liked his new appearance by the way his eyes had done one long, sweep up and down the length of Namjoon’s figure.

 

“Students and drugs go hand in hand,” Seokjin said as the waiter approached with a row of shots, cranberry coloured and shimmering in their little glasses. Seokjin paused to sprinkle salt on the back of his hand and gave it a cat-like lick. He tipped a shot back and slid a piece of lemon into his mouth, humming in the back of his throat as he savoured the sourness. He dropped the used peel into a silver plate and turned to squint at the purplish-pink horizon. “If they can’t get their hands on meth or cocaine, they’ll turn to alternatives. There’s been an alarming trend of snorting bath salts which are a lot cheaper. I’m guessing by the look on your face you know what those do.”

 

Namjoon had seen it first-hand on one unforgettable call out to an SNU dorm. Someone had called the cops on a student who was desperately trying to cut the “wires” out of his body. He was adamant he was a North Korean sleeper agent and they had installed a system of wiring inside his body to control him. Namjoon would never forget the screaming and the look of abject terror on the boy’s face as he scrabbled around, hunting for anything else sharp as soon as his knife was wrestled from him.

 

“Nothing is black or white, my good man. Everything’s grey,” Seokjin said blithely.

 

“You don’t have to patronise me. I know,” Namjoon said.

 

Seokjin laughed. “I like how you’ve completely given up on even a feigned show of respect. You really, truly don’t care anymore, do you?”

 

That was one way to put it.

 

In the car ride back, the silence was oddly comfortable. Namjoon couldn’t tell if Seokjin was drunk – he had thrown back six shots in quick succession but walked in a straight line back to the elevator without any aid whatsoever. Namjoon had merely had two cocktails but he already felt a bit fuzzy around the edges. He knew he was drunk when he felt Seokjin’s hand land on his and didn’t push it off, letting the older man’s fingers slide around his in a tight hold. Namjoon just sat there, blankly staring at the back of the seat in front of him, fully aware of how warm Seokjin’s hand was. He turned his head to look at him when he heard the sound of silk against leather. It was the sound of Seokjin sliding across the seat, his cheeks pink and a silly little smile on his face.

 

He was drunk.

 

Namjoon stared at him. Seokjin took it as an invitation and leaned in. Namjoon abruptly drew his head back.

 

“What are you doing?” Seokjin muttered, genuinely confused.

 

“No one’s ever said ‘no’ to you, have they?” Namjoon snorted, head now pressed against the tinted window which was partway rolled down.

 

Seokjin had to think about it for a moment, before he shrugged. “Eh. No one’s ever said no to me and lived, I suppose.”

 

They fell quiet, staring at each other. Namjoon was so determined not to let his eyes wander, he kept them trained on Seokjin’s and in the process, started counting each individual eyelash – he was so close. Of course, his eyelashes were as perfect as the rest of him. Of course. Seokjin reached around him and rolled up the window and a stray lock of Namjoon’s hair finally fell still, askew on his forehead. Seokjin reached up to stroke it away. His hand travelled gently down the side of Namjoon’s face, past his collarbone, his chest, to come to a rest at the top of his thigh.

 

“I don’t want to kiss you,” Namjoon choked out. They were the only words that sprang to mind, and he didn’t put them through a filter first.

 

Rather than look offended, Seokjin looked beyond amused. “I would kill you, but I know your rejection is half-hearted. You’re lying.” And to prove his point, he didn’t move a muscle. He just sat in that half leaned-over position, and blinked his large eyes up into Namjoon’s, waiting. It was working. Namjoon felt the world around him move, only to realise it was his head moving, down and forward, so that he could feel Seokjin’s tequila-stained breath warming his chin.

 

Fuck, I’m actually going to kiss him.

 

Seokjin’s eyes began to flutter close in anticipation and his lips parted, fingers tightening on the material of Namjoon’s trousers. Before their mouths connected, the sharp ring of Seokjin’s phone slashed through the heat like an icicle shard. The kingpin jerked away, visibly irritated and snatched up the offending device. Namjoon reeled, thinking he would turn it off and lean back over again – he wanted him to – but upon seeing the name on the screen, Seokjin rolled his eyes and took the call. He hit speakerphone and the gruff voice on the other end filled the back of the Bentley.

 

“Boss, I kept tabs on the young master just as you said. He’s been making a lot of calls to Busan recently, to that Jimin kid.”

 

“How do you know?” Seokjin drawled, turning his hand over and studying his manicure.

 

“Well, let’s just say it was clear the young master had the hots for the kid before he – er – left. Still has the hots for him. Kinda easy to tell who he’s talking to on the phone. Kinda awkward too, not gonna lie – “

 

“I don’t pay you to be comfortable, Lee.”

 

“No, sir, of course not  - I mean ma’am – sorry – “

 

“Don’t be. It’s ‘sir’ right now,” Seokjin said, eyeing Namjoon with a naughty smirk. “I’m sure Jungkook’s conspiring to reunite with Jimin. Whether that’s in Seoul or Busan, it makes no difference to me. Continue keeping tabs on the boy. And Lee?”

 

“Yes, sir?”

 

“Make sure he doesn’t die any time soon. I need him.”

 

“Of course, sir.”

 

“That doesn’t bother you?” Namjoon said once he hung up. “That Jimin might come back to Seoul, just like Taehyung said?”

 

Seokjin surprised him with a lax shrug. “This isn’t my fight. My stake is in Jungkook, and Taehyung can defend himself.”

 

“I thought you’d want Jimin dead though. He’s the heir of all his parents’ money after all, most of it which is now in Geomjeong-pa’s possession.”

 

“And he knows better than most he has no access to it, and never will. I only want people dead when my dominance is challenged. Jimin’s war is not with me, it’s with Taehyung’s father.”

 

“But then his war could easily turn on you. Your family ordered Kim Bong Ju to kill the Parks.”

 

“Yes, but if Jimin actually manages to kill Taehyung’s dad, do you think Taehyung will let him live? I know they were fucking for a while, and I dare say Taehyung may even have feelings for the Park boy. But at the end of the day, a father is a father, and Taehyung has so many Daddy issues, he’s desperate to reunite with Kim Bong Ju. I mean look at him – so extraordinarily violent, charismatic, intelligent – I would have given him Yongsan-gu and not to Jungkook. But Taehyung is a follower, he needs someone to hold his leash and tell him what to do next. Without direction, he is a lost little boy. Once you crack that facet of his personality, you’ve got him pegged.”

 

Namjoon nodded vaguely, watching Seokjin with an intensity he only ever got when he was in the middle of a case and tantalisingly close to solving it. His brain went into overdrive and he would go silent in order to focus all his power on the mental acrobatics required. Seokjin seemed to have lost all thoughts of drunk kissing, and sat there, reserved and elegant as ever, hands interlocked on his crossed legs.

 

“You don’t know how many petty struggles break out within the ranks of a syndicate as large as this,” he said. “Mobsters have their code of law, one not recognised by the police, but which works more than well for us. Revenge is the one motive most in-fighting and murders are justified for. This time round, we have Jimin and Taehyung, until one of them dies, and then the next month we’ll have someone else. If I meddled with everyone’s problems, Geomjeong-pa would still be a petty street kkangpae. Let them fight each other when they have troubles, let them kill each other. As long as the majority is in working order, I don’t care. Haven’t you noticed Min Yoongi has been doing the same thing?”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“He would never have harboured Jimin if he didn’t think it served a purpose in the grander scheme of things. He obviously thinks Taehyung is indispensable to me, and Jimin is his chess piece because the boy is clearly so driven by vengeance, he’s starting to lose his grip. And now Yoongi is allowing Jimin to return to his mission, whilst he stays in Busan, silent about everything. Mobsters take immediate revenge. Kingpins sit still and wait for the perfect moment to strike. Min Yoongi’s answer to Blue Tails will come when he thinks my defences are weakest. It’s not as action-packed being the head of a syndicate, you know. Most of it is just a boring wait for something exciting to happen on a large-scale.”

 

Boring. That was one way of putting it.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was not the first time Jimin had turned to Jungkook as the defence against possible fallout from his involvement with Taehyung and Yong Geondal. But for the first time, it didn’t feel as if he were using the young man. For once, Jungkook wasn’t the only one beside himself to hear Jimin’s voice over the phone that first call they had after the Blue Tails Massacre. Relief had been fervent and sweet, but within minutes, it was boiling rage, mostly against Taehyung who Jungkook said was acting as if he had killed Jimin for real.

 

Jungkook wanted to go all out – as usual – and send a helicopter to bring him home from Busan. Jimin shot that idea down pretty fast. It would attract attention. And for once, it wasn’t Mother’s attention he was worried about. Taehyung couldn’t find out he was anywhere near Seoul, or even thinking of coming back, not until it was absolutely necessary that he did.

 

Jimin didn’t even want to risk a car journey and opted for the train instead. Yoongi had made no objections, but then again, he didn’t have to. He had told Jimin everything he needed to know, and his concerns were more to do with defending Yong Geondal’s territory in Seoul.

 

It felt like a pressure cooker was brewing, and Jimin and Taehyung were at the centre of it, all alone. At one point, everyone from Mother to Jungkook to Yoongi were major obstacles to overcome (or even to hide behind). But now, it was a static silence filled with anticipation. Having as close a brush with death as he had, Jimin didn’t have the ability to really care which of them died at the end of it as long as his objective was fulfilled. Once it was done, he didn’t think he could go on living. It was why he had goaded Taehyung so openly. After what he had been forced to do at the Blue Tails casino, he couldn’t think of living with himself. For now, it was blocked from his head as he had something to focus on, but the moment he let his mind stray, his brain would explode in a staccato of gunfire, blood spurting and people screaming.

 

Jungkook met him at the station, swathed in all-black right down to the mask covering half his face. Some way behind, his guards stood in equally understated clothing, blending in with the crowd were it not for the earpieces coiled at their necks. Jimin only had a second to look at them before Jungkook’s arms were wrapped tight around him.

 

“Easy there, tiger,” Jimin muttered, giving a pained laugh as Jungkook squeezed him too tight.

 

“Oh fuck, I’m sorry.” He immediately backed up, eyes wide with concern as they went down to his chest. He reached out to touch it through Jimin’s coat, fingers splayed out. “Has it still not healed?”

 

“Healed well actually. But if you hug me that hard, it’s going to hurt,” Jimin said lightly.

 

It didn’t mean Jungkook had to stop touching him, and he didn’t. He found excuses to do in some form or another in the car ride back to his condo. Whether it was to stroke Jimin’s face, hold his hand, or squeeze his thigh, all amidst a torrent of questions that Jimin remained tight-lipped over for the time being.

 

“Your cars are all gone,” Jimin noted as they pulled up into the driveway that looked incredibly sparse without the flashy vehicles parked there.

 

“Yeah, I’ve been in trouble since that day,” Jungkook grimaced. “She won’t let me see Yugyeom or Mingyu and Lisa’s left for Thailand. She’s also taken Namjoon to be her new pet so, it’s basically a prison here. Not anymore though. You’re here and I bet she knows, but she hasn’t said a word. She would have found a way to stop it if she cared, I guess.”

 

“Namjoon?” Jimin’s eyebrows shot up.

 

Jungkook laughed as he got out the car. “Oh yeah. That was an interesting plot twist, I won’t lie. Just fucking came out of nowhere, but let me tell you, Taehyung is not in a good place with her right now. I heard he pulled a gun on her in her own office and ever since then, I haven’t heard from him.”

 

That must have occurred after the phone call with Jimin. It was the only thing that would make Taehyung lash out in such a way against Mother of all people. He asked after Hoseok as well, to find out that he was now in Seoul also, though Jungkook had no idea of the extent of his relationship with Taehyung.

 

It was unusual to hear the condominium so quiet. Jimin’s room was restored to the way he’d left it, though he remembered seeing it trashed the day Mother came for him. The racks upon racks of expensive clothes once again lined the insides of the walking closet and Reggianini paintings covered the walls, handpicked by him months ago on a surreal, late-night shopping spree online with Jungkook lazing in his lap. “They’re just girls in dresses – pretty dresses, but still,” was Jungkook’s dry comment. Jimin couldn’t explain why he could sit there for hours just staring at every realistic crease and fold Reggianini painted into the satin folds of his subjects’ clothes.

 

“It feels colder than it did last time,” Jimin murmured, standing in the centre and gazing emptily up at the artwork.

 

“Why? Heating’s on,” Jungkook frowned.

 

Jimin laughed a little. “No, that’s not what I meant.”

 

Jungkook shrugged, as if it were a simple solution to the problem, and said, “You can stay in my room.” Whether he meant just for the night, or for a lengthier amount of time, Jimin didn’t know. But when their eyes met, Jimin was expecting to see the large, doe eyes of the needy, desperate boy he was used to. Instead, he saw the calm, collected eyes of a man and there was no denying it, he felt a thrill go down his spine. Jungkook’s jaw was set, his stance confident and motionless as he stood blocking much of the doorway.

 

“Yeah, alright,” Jimin said quietly, and turned to go back to him.

 

Jungkook’s bed hadn’t changed. Super king-size, covered with satin sheets and real deerskin throws, it was still the comfiest bed Jimin had ever laid down on. He threw himself on it, face planting with his shoes hanging off the sides as Jungkook went around turning on the heating and drawing the curtains over the bay windows.

 

“You took down your posters,” Jimin said, lifting his head to look around. “Though your anime figurines still take pride of place I see.”

 

“I would never get rid of my tiddie-queens,” Jungkook said solemnly, crossing his heart in mock prayer.

 

Jimin giggled and patted the bed spread beside him. Jungkook launched himself across the room, landing smack dab in the centre of the mattress. They ended up facing one another, lying on their sides, heads propped up by their elbows.

 

“Hi,” Jungkook grinned.

 

“Hi,” Jimin smirked.

 

“I missed you.”

 

Had he always sounded so mature? There was something in his voice that had changed. It wasn’t deeper. It was just…different. Better. Jimin traced his finger over his own lip and then smiled, as he said, “I missed you too.” Jungkook’s smile faded a little, and there was that heavy moment of stillness, the kind that preceded a kiss. It hung between them until neither could take it anymore and they leaned in at the same time. It wasn’t long before Jimin was moaning, legs parting to accommodate Jungkook’s body between them. The younger male ground against him a couple time, letting him feel the girthy length of his cock through his trousers. Just before Jimin could reach down and free it, Jungkook’s hands trapped his face between them and he whispered, “Wait.”

 

“What?” Jimin whispered back, frowning with such petulance that Jungkook’s expression melted and he kissed him a couple more times.

 

“Do you love me?” Jungkook asked.

 

“Yes.” Jimin didn’t skip a beat.

 

“Taehyung loves you.”

 

“What?” Jimin said, laughing a little at the sudden awkwardness of the statement.

 

“He never said it, but I know he does. Do you love him?”

 

The longer he looked into the coal black of Jungkook’s eyes, Jimin got the sense lying would only end up badly. So, he stroked his hands over Jungkook’s shoulders and in the sincerest voice he could manage, he said, “I do. But it’s not the same sort of love.”

 

Jungkook was doing an admirable job of hiding it if he was disappointed at hearing such an admission. “What sort of love is it?”

 

“Twisted. Not right. Born out of Stockholm Syndrome. There were several moments in the time between going to Busan and coming to Seoul that I thought I would have died if Taehyung wasn’t there. He was insurance, and somewhere along the way, I convinced myself he was more.”

 

Was he lying? He had no idea, and he didn’t care. It didn’t matter. Jungkook’s answer however, was surprising.

 

“You use people, don’t you?” he murmured, brushing the baby hairs off of Jimin’s temples with a tender touch. “I don’t think it’s a bad thing – use me all you want – but that’s what you do to survive.”

 

His words did nothing to put Jimin on the defensive. Instead, he found his throat was constricting. It was the tell-tale sign of tears. He rarely shed those, and he didn’t want to start again. “I wasn’t born into your world. I wasn’t trained to protect myself, to hurt others, to play power games with thugs. I’d led a sheltered life up till the moment Kim Bong Ju took it from me. Using people is the only thing I knew how to do because my mom taught me it’s the best way to survive if there’s no other option.”

 

“I’m not blaming you,” Jungkook said. “I told you, I don’t care. Use me all you want.” And then he kissed him again, and Jimin’s tears dried up.

 

Jungkook was still a little hesitant at first once their clothes came off, but when he thrust his freshly-sucked cock deep into Jimin, there was a moment of eureka in which Jimin nearly yelled the place down. The thrust was perfectly angled, and to make things more intense, he began to gyrate his hips in constant circles as he held himself inside. Jungkook had to pin Jimin down to keep him from thrashing as his ass was thoroughly stretched out.

 

“I’ve been practicing since the last time,” he breathed, laughing a little as Jimin’s nails sunk into his back. “On escorts, who all asked me afterwards who ‘Jimin’ was. I wanted to pleasure you as much as you did for me that first time, no holding back.”

 

“You’ve gotten good, holy fuck – “ Jimin gasped for air as he locked his ankles around his waist, heels digging into Jungkook’s buttocks.

 

They went a couple rounds, with the full intention of going for more, but Jimin suggested they rest first. It was still only 1am. The night was young. He sat in the crook of Jungkook’s arm, feeling a little lightheaded, sweat cooling on his chest as he levelled out his breathing.

 

“I wanna fuck you from behind this time,” Jungkook mumbled into his hair, to which Jimin responded with a high-pitched, “Okay,” before laughing at himself.   

 

The silence was peaceful, but it wasn’t long before a conversation struck up and turned to the inevitable. Jimin explained to Jungkook why Taehyung might have pulled the gun on Mother, and though appropriately surprised, Jungkook didn’t have much of a reaction.

 

“Yoongi’s playing his typical power games. I thought at first he didn’t know where Kim Bong Ju was, and only that he was related to Taehyung. But a week before I left, suddenly he said he knew, as did Hoseok, and that I had to get it out of him. He obviously wants me to hurt Hoseok and get the information that way because no way in hell would Hoseok tell me if he found out what I’m after.”

 

“How do you know he hasn’t already told Taehyung?”

 

“Because Taehyung hasn’t told him what I said, either. If he had, he would have found out where his dad is, and he’d be gloating at me by now.”

 

“I’m kind of curious to meet Min Yoongi in the flesh myself. He sounds like he’s got more than a few things in common with Mother.”

 

Jimin snorted. “He does. I’m not even sure he cares much what happens to Hoseok and Taehyung now, he’s probably bored of the whole thing already. Last I heard, what’s left of Yong Geondal in Seoul is joining forces with the Yakuza and planning to bribe some of Mother’s higher-ranking men to switch sides on the down low. The ones that resent her of course, the rest are stupidly loyal.”

 

“Why would you tell me this?” Jungkook said, “You think I wouldn’t warn her?”

 

“That’s up to you,” Jimin shrugged, feigning indifference as he traced down the line of Jungkook’s abs. “But you don’t know Yoongi. If anyone can overthrow her eventually, it’ll be him. If not killed, she’ll at least be in the hands of Interpol. I can’t ever forgive her, not for what she made me do at Blue Tails. I’d rather have you in her place.”

 

“What?”

 

Jimin lifted his head and stroked his hand under Jungkook’s chin, tilting his head down for a lingering, passionate kiss. When he broke away, his eyes were soft, like twin pools of honey. “Prove your mettle to her, win Yongsan-gu just the way she promised you, and side with Yoongi against her when the time comes. If she’s allowed to stay where she is, she won’t die of anything but natural causes and we both know that’s a long time away. Do you really want to live the rest of your life accountable to someone like that? She threw Namjoon to a shark one day and has him at her right-hand the next. It could be you in the shark tank at some point, Jungkook.”

 

Jimin felt like Satan whispering into Eve’s ear when he saw the doubt flash across Jungkook’s features. He had to remind himself Mother was the closest equivalent to Satan, and if anything, he was bolstering Jungkook’s defences against her inevitable backlash. Whatever was keeping her attached to him in her own, crooked, cold way, it wouldn’t last forever. Jungkook didn’t say anything, but in the way his mouth pursed up and his shoulders tensed under Jimin’s arm, it was clear which way the tide had turned. Jimin bit back a smile and kissed his face, dropping more of the sweet, settled kisses all over his neck and under his ear, enjoying the way Jungkook melted into him.

 

“You said Yoongi has connections in the Yakuza?” Jungkook murmured, eyes drifting half closed as he leaned in to kiss him. Jimin mumbled in assent, tongue flicking out to stroke under Jungkook’s upper lip. “Then get in touch. You want that information from Hoseok, you’ll get it. But we can’t use a Geomjeong-pa man to do the kidnapping.”

 

Jimin opened his eyes and blinked in surprise. “You’re going to help?”

 

Jungkook shrugged, a lazy grin stretching his handsome features. “Eh. I’ve got nothing better to do.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was frighteningly easy.

 

Jungkook knew for a fact Hoseok lived in Taehyung’s apartment, and for the first month, he hadn’t left it much. But by the time the second rolled around, he was acting as a messenger for a prestigious law firm in Gangnam whose biggest client was Geomjeong-pa. It was probably paperwork, something to foist off on him as had happened to Jimin in the early days with Ahn and Hwasa. There was always some form of criminality available, no matter what type of person Geomjeong-pa employed. It was partly why turnover rates were so low when it came to the pettier, low-level rings of the gang. The higher-ups were always dying, shot in the head, poisoned, blown up, pushed aside to make room for men who were more power-hungry, more willing to do whatever it took to stay at the top. But at the grassroots, most people working for Geomjeong-pa were relatively content.

 

It took the two Yakuza Jungkook had paid off, about an hour before their black van pulled up outside his condominium again. Jimin was watching from an upstairs window as they dragged out a man with his head covered in a black hood, his legs dragging behind him. Hoseok had been drugged, thoroughly so. It took another hour before Jimin and Jungkook could even get him clear-headed enough to form intelligible words.

 

“Waterboarding,” Jungkook explained, when Jimin eyed the towels and bucket he’d brought. “Effective. Trust me.”

 

“I do,” Jimin said, “but why the basin? Are you going to dunk him in or strap him down?” They were in one of the unfurnished laboratory spaces in the basement area. Unfurnished, meaning it was just a concrete square room with a large basin stretching from the floor to a quarter way up the wall on one end. It was definitely bigger than an average bath tub and there were taps lined up in pairs where they would have been attached to pipes in a lab. Hoseok was strapped to a chair directly in front of the basin, hands tied behind him. He was alert now, but silent, watching the pair of them whisper to each other on the other side of the room.

 

Jimin saw him staring, and tilted his head, staring right back at him. “If you just tell me what I want to know, none of this has to happen.”

 

Hoseok laughed dryly, his eyes red and half-lidded. “And what is it that you want to know?”

 

“Where Kim Bong Ju is.”

 

“Taehyung’s father. Why?”

 

“Because he killed my parents. Burned their house right down to the ground. I’m surprised Taehyung hasn’t told you by now. I rang him last week telling him I’d throw his dad’s corpse at his feet.”

 

Hoseok fell quiet, his eyes unreadable. But he was unsettled. There was a tremor in his jaw he couldn’t control. He sniffed, coughing a little, before feigning ignorance. “I don’t know where Taehyung’s father is.”

 

“Don’t lie,” Jimin said, going closer. “Yoongi already told me you know. You really should have told Taehyung as soon as you got to Seoul, you know. Now, you either tell me or drown.”

 

Hoseok beamed. “You think I haven’t been tortured before? Do your worst.”

 

Before Jimin could reply, Jungkook muttered, “Yeah, I plan to,” and pushed past. Jimin started to say “Wait – “ but he stopped, knowing it was probably more effective to let Jungkook go ahead with it. At this point, Hoseok had no reason to give in to either of them, his loyalty was only for Taehyung.

 

Jungkook was none too gentle with his actions, banging Hoseok’s head against the basin behind him, dropping the towel over his face and weighing it down with his fist. He set the bucket on his shoulder and began to tilt it over. Jimin winced as the first droplets of water fell on Hoseok’s face, and the fear made his shoulders shake. Then, Jungkook tilted it more and it became a waterfall and Hoseok’s whole body thrashing under it as he gurgled and struggled to breathe.

 

“Stop,” Jimin whispered, touching Jungkook’s arms as Hoseok’s convulsions grew near violent. Jungkook lowered the bucket and Jimin quickly lifted the towel off, tipping Hoseok’s head forward. “Come on, don’t make him continue. I don’t want to do this.” Hoseok coughed up water, heaving and gasping for air, his hands tugging at his restraints as they trembled. “I know you love Taehyung, but his dad’s got nothing to do with it. He abandoned him, Taehyung’s love for him means nothing.” Jimin crouched down until his face was directly below Hoseok’s and he touched his cheek, nothing but kindness in his eyes. “So, you can tell me.”

 

Hoseok said and did nothing for a moment. He just breathed. Then, his lips quirked into a little laugh, which brightened. “Really? The good cop, bad cop routine – against an ex-cop? You have got to be kidding.”

 

“Alright, you know what – “ Jungkook grabbed his hair and the towel was back on him.

 

Jimin was startled by the ferocity of the man’s impatience, but he swallowed down his reservations when he told himself it would yield results. Even so, the look of fury on Jungkook’s face and Hoseok’s suffering was almost too much to bear. The second time he stopped him, Hoseok was still. It took a while before Jimin got him to throw up and return to consciousness. As he did, Jungkook untied his hands, lifting him to his feet. He collapsed as soon as he did, slumping to the ground. Jimin grabbed his other arm and got him back up, as Jungkook held him by the hair, positioning him over the basin. He stuck in the drain plug and opened the tap. Jimin grimaced.

 

“Just tell me,” he said to Hoseok. The man looked dazed, unable to comprehend what was going on around him, but the brief flick of his eyes in Jimin’s direction told him he was still aware. “At this rate, you’ll end up dying with your lips sealed.”

 

Jungkook’s grip tightened on Hoseok’s hair as he prepared to dunk him, and at last, Hoseok spat, “Fine.” Jimin waited, still holding onto his arm. The man leaned in, and for a moment, Jimin heard nothing but laboured breathing, harsh and broken. Then, he whispered the name of a street, right down to the postal code. Jimin’s face twisted with anger and he shoved him against Jungkook.

 

“Stop fucking with me,” he snarled.

 

“What did he say?” Jungkook said.

 

“He just gave me the name of the alleyway Kim Bong Ju dumped me in eight years ago.”

 

“I’m not lying!” Hoseok said, “it’s where he was last seen. He never stays in one place often but he’s been there three times in the last few months. Yoongi’s had tabs on him since the moment he found out who you were.”

 

It was something in the way that he said it, that told Jimin he was actually telling the truth. But it was a disappointing truth. He would have much preferred a solid address, with a house, and a front door and windows, all things he could have set fire to with Kim Bong Ju tied up inside. Not a place of abject memory and emotional scarring.

 

“That’s it then?” Jungkook sighed.

 

“Yeah, guess that’s it,” Jimin muttered, sinking into the chair Hoseok had just been in.

 

“You realise we can’t keep him alive. If we let him go, he’ll tell Taehyung what he just told us and then there’s no chance in hell you’ll get to Kim Bong Ju first.”

 

“What?” Jimin looked up, the thought of actually killing Hoseok not having his entered at mind at all. But when he saw Jungkook’s staring down at him, he saw that he was dead serious, frighteningly so. Jimin laughed uncomfortably. “Kook, we can’t kill him…”

 

“He’s not lying you know…” Hoseok murmured, “I wasn’t going to tell Tae about his father, I thought, good riddance to that man, he’s better off without him. But now, it’s the first thing that’ll come out of my mouth.”

 

“What are you doing?” Jimin hissed, “Shut up.”

 

“You heard him,” Jungkook said.

 

“Ignore him, he’s half delirious from the waterboarding – “

 

“No, Jimin, listen to me.” Jungkook paused, as if to ram the point in, and only once Jimin’s mouth closed did he continue. “This is what Geomjeong-pa is. You want something, you do everything in your power to get it. Something threatens to sabotage that, you get rid of it. You’ve spent months killing yourself over this, and Taehyung ended up nearly killing you. You’ve killed dozens of people to save a cop, and guess where he’s at now? Living in the lap of luxury with your enemy. There is no good or bad, there is only winning and this is winning.”

 

Before Jimin could get another word in edgeways, Jungkook slammed Hoseok’s head on the edge of the concrete basin. The silence that followed was deafening. There was a ringing in Jimin’s ears, buzzing at the corners of his mind and making his vision flicker. Hoseok was completely still now, his head underwater. It took Jimin a moment to realise he himself was holding him up, keeping him from sinking to the floor. It was his fault the water was clouding with pools of red, Hoseok’s hair floating in the centre of it.

 

He let him go with a gasp and Hoseok dropped.

 

“Oh fuck – “ Jimin whispered, falling to his knees beside him, fingers desperately searching for a pulse.

 

There was none.

 

“He’s dead,” Jimin said blankly. “He’s dead.”

 

“I know. That’s what I intended,” Jungkook arched a brow.

 

“We could have kept him captive until we found Kim Bong Ju. We could have – “

 

“No, we couldn’t. That’s weakness.”

 

“Jungkook, you fucking killed him!”

 

The younger man knelt down also, sliding his hand against Jimin’s face as he forced his head to stay still. “If Taehyung was in my place, he would have done no different. You died once. I’m not letting you die again.”

 

Jimin’s face crumpled. “I didn’t want for this to happen though. I don’t care if Taehyung kills me eventually. But he’ll come for you next. He’s going to hurt you so bad, Kook, he won’t let you die, he’ll keep you alive. The sort of things that man does, you don’t understand, you – “

 

Jungkook cut off his hysterical rush of words with a kiss, holding his face close until Jimin’s shivers calmed a little. He broke away, just enough so that their noses were still touching. His voice was quiet, but confident, when he said –

 

“Then, we’ll fucking kill him too.”

 

Chapter Text

Trigger Warning: Extreme violence.

 

The moment the clock struck seven and Hoseok wasn’t back, Taehyung didn’t bother calling him. He called the law firm where he should have been last. They told him he hadn’t turned up and still, he did not panic. There was no reason to panic. No one knew Hoseok in this city. He had no enemies. He had crossed no one in Seoul, not yet. Taehyung might have enemies, but to the outside world, Hoseok was merely a low-ranking Geomjeong-pa thug crashing on his couch until he got his own place. As ridiculously banal as that sounded, it was the truth. Hoseok wasn’t publicly associated with him.

 

Perhaps he should have panicked, but that emotion was so alien to his being, Taehyung didn’t know how he’d go about it. He always dealt with problems before they struck him, and if he let them get out of hand, he took care of them quickly. Love is a weakness all animals have, no matter how closed off they may appear to be. Yoongi was right. Love was fucking filthy, and it made him act illogically. Love made people panic.

 

Later, he considered it a mistake that he stayed in his apartment and didn’t go out looking for him. Hoseok had a tracking chip in his phone, but it was turned off. Even if he’d gone out, it might have taken him hours to track him down. But it would have been better than nothing.

 

At precisely eight pm, the buzzer rang.

 

“Package for you, Mr Kim.”

 

A suitcase.

 

He knew straight away. But he denied the wail of his subconscious and pretended it was just a suitcase. That he hadn’t himself delivered corpses and body parts to loved ones in these sleek, silver, reinforced boxes. They weren’t really suitcases. He didn’t know what the proper term for them was. Just that the sight of this one was very familiar.

 

Taehyung took it from where it had been left by the elevator and dialled reception as he did. “Who dropped it off?”

 

“Three middle-aged men in suits, sir.”

 

Taehyung hung up and dragged the suitcase into his apartment. It was heavy, in that burdensome way that indicated it was full to the brim. He moved mechanically. Shut the door, turned up the dimmer switch, pulled the suitcase to the centre of the room and broke the lock. Inside, a large bundle was wrapped in a black shroud. He reached inside, reaching underneath the bundle to pull it out – he felt arms, elbows, shoulders – but he still chose not to react. His heartbeat was like a jackhammer, pounding at the insides of his rib cage.

 

His hands were without a single tremor as he unwrapped the shroud.

 

Hoseok’s head was bandaged, as if it were a macabre way of making amends for the fatal injury it covered. The one that had soaked the white until it was almost completely scarlet. His face was calm, lips upturned at the edges just a little, as if he were about to smile. Taehyung ran his fingers over his cold mouth, softly pushing at the corners. He knew if the smile stretched, his skin would dimple and his eyes would sparkle. But it wouldn’t stay. As soon as he let go, his lips returned to their position and his porcelain skin remained smooth.

 

Taehyung’s jaw trembled, lips starting to part. He took in a little shiver of a gasp, though his eyes remained dry. “Hey,” he whispered, pushing his thumb gently against Hoseok’s cheek. “Hey, come on now…stop with the fucking prank. Was the suitcase your idea? Huh? Come on, you got me, it’s over, come on – “

 

His voice rose a couple pitches as his throat closed up. He sat there, holding Hoseok, his lower lip jutting out like when he was a child. The first tear slid down his cheekbone, splashing over the edge and landing on Hoseok’s neck. Taehyung let out a shaky laugh. “You said you’d never seen me cry – now it’s the second time you’ve seen it. Your prank worked, man, I’m telling you, you can stop now – just stop – huh? Come on…” He brushed his fingers through Hoseok’s hair – it was like silk and strangely warm, though his skin was cold “ – get up, Hobi-ah, don’t do this, don’t do this…”

 

He bent over, sobbing now, burying his face in his best friend’s hair. It swallowed up the scream that tore from him, loud and strangled, the force of it almost bursting a vein in his temple. Once it was out of his system, another followed, and then another, until his sobs were screams and his tears dripped down Hoseok’s face.

 

He didn’t know how long he sat there, holding Hobi and crying into his hair. It could have been an hour, or more, as his throat became hoarse and his eyes felt like sandpaper. But when he stopped, he stopped completely. His face wiped clean of all emotion. Every fold of the shroud, every movement of his hand, was still gentle as he covered Hoseok’s face. He stretched his body out from the foetal position it had been curled into and laid him out on the rug. Then, Taehyung backed up a little, kneeling properly as he used to do before the Buddhist altars his Grandma took him to when he was little. He took his gun from his pocket, removing the long barrel attachment. He checked it for bullets, then put the barrel in his mouth. The safety disengaged, slamming painfully against his upper lip but he didn’t even flinch. His eyes went to the clock on the wall. The second hand was ticking closer to twelve. He waited, his finger starting to press on the trigger.

 

The sound of a car accident on the street below, drifted through the open window. Screams rang out. Within minutes, sirens resounded.

 

Taehyung took the gun out of his mouth. His eyes were empty, reflecting every light on the city skyline, yet seeing nothing at all. He clicked the safety back on and turned to hit a panel next to the TV. The wall behind the sofa to the right began to move, revealing itself to be adjustable panels. Behind it, was a smaller room, furnished with racks upon racks of weapons – guns, crossbows, knives, drills, zipline rope, the lot. Taehyung kicked out a bag from under one of the shelves and began throwing in weapons, seemingly at random, starting with a submachine gun and a metres worth of bullet chain. It took him all of about ten minutes to get everything he wanted.

 

He left Hoseok where he lay, threw on his long over coat and covered his dark hair with a black beanie. He lit up a cigarette, finished it, and then smoked another. And another. Until he’d emptied the whole packet and the room was foggy with a thin sheen of smoke. He opened all the windows wider and turned on the A/C once he was sure the heating was off.

 

Heat sped up decomposition.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jumping the walls of Jungkook’s condo brought back the old days, of skiving off school and jumping the walls to do it, with a backpack full of beer cans on his shoulders. The bag on his back was heavier now, but his movements were just as light. There was an air of quiet about the place, and Taehyung knew before he entered through the unlocked front doors that it was empty of those he sought. He went in anyway.

 

Silence.

 

In one hand, his gun dangled loose, as he walked through each room and found nothing. They had fled. Both of them. The laboratories were empty, as were the empty concrete rooms beyond. He paused at the last one. There, obvious even in the dim light coming in from the corridor, was a dark stain on the floor under the basin. Blood.

 

Taehyung turned to leave, his footsteps quicker. On his way out of the basement level, a guard appeared. He saw Taehyung at almost the same time, and hit his earpiece, shouting, “Basement level – “

 

He did not get to finish his sentence and keeled over, a bullet lodged in his brain. It was an ambush. The little bastard brat had actually set up an ambush as if it would be in any way effective. Taehyung walked up onto the ground floor, fully prepared for the oncoming onslaught. There weren’t many. Six in total, all going for non-lethal shots. It appeared Jungkook wanted him alive for the time being, which meant Jimin wanted him alive. Taehyung could imagine why. All six got a bullet dead in the face, leaving them an unrecognisable mush of blood and cartilage. There was nothing in Jimin’s bedroom that indicated he had been living there recently. Jungkook’s room was in disarray however. The sheets were in a mess, and there were undeniable stains on them. Jungkook wanted Taehyung to see them, to know what had happened. It left Taehyung wondering how obvious he had been with his feelings for Jimin, that even a total fucking numskull like Jungkook figured it out. Too obvious evidently.

 

He set Jungkook’s room on fire first, drenching it in gasoline he’d found in the basement. He went through each room starting from the highest levels, right down to the ground. As soon as he stepped outside, the back portion of the house exploded.

 

Taehyung stood there with a cigarette in his mouth, watching it burn, the fire reflected in his eyes until there was no darkness left in them. He pulled out his phone and dialled the number he had memorised by heart. Yoongi’s voice was monotone at the other end.

 

“It’s unlike you to pick up an unknown number. Were you expecting me?” Taehyung said.

 

To his credit, Yoongi didn’t miss a beat, answering with his familiar purr of a laugh. “I’m always expecting you, darling.”

 

Taehyung scoffed, taking a deep drag from the Marlboro between his fingers. He exhaled, squinting up at the east wing of the condo as it collapsed. Weak architecture for such a pricey residence. It hadn’t even been fifteen minutes. “What did you tell Jimin?”

 

“No ‘hi, how are you doing, does that knife I plunged in your back still hurt?’”

 

“Yeah, well, now we’re even. Excuse me if I skip the formalities.”

 

“Of course. I wouldn’t love you quite as much if you showed any respect.”

 

“Mmm. Answer my question.”

 

“I told him what he needed to know, that’s all.”

 

“Liar.”

 

“Why would I lie?”

 

“Hoseok is dead.”

 

Finally, Yoongi missed a beat. For a whole minute, there was nothing but silence on the other end. Taehyung filled it first.

 

“You told Jimin to go looking for him. Are you happy now? They killed him, the pair of them. Smashed his head on a concrete basin and let him bleed out on the floor. Then, they put him in a suitcase and had him delivered to me. I mean – “ Taehyung laughed a little, “ – I would expect it from Jungkook, he’s learning day-by-day. But Jimin was surprising. He’s grown up. No longer the trembling, fragile little bird. But you knew that. That’s why you told him Hoseok knew where my father was. You lied to him to get revenge without getting your own hands bloody.”

 

“Taehyung you overestimate me,” Yoongi said, and for once, there was no laughter in his voice. Just blank indifference, masking what was probably some terrible, sordid, painful emotion he would never share. “I did not expect Jimin to kill him. I thought they’d kick him around a little and leave it at that. And Hoseok knew where your dad was. I told him.”

 

“You’re lying – “

 

“Why would I lie? Wait…did he not tell you?” Yoongi’s voice trailed off into a sour laugh.

 

Taehyung dropped the cigarette and crushed it, his face blanching of all colour. The hand holding his phone was starting to shake with how hard he was holding it. Flickers of anguish ran through his expression as he struggled to keep a hold of himself. The switch was starting to lift in the other direction, trying to turn his emotions back on and he was fighting it with everything he had.

 

“I’m not surprised he didn’t tell you. He cared about you too much to,” Yoongi said.

 

“You’re the reason he died, you piece of – “

 

“No, you’re the reason he died!” Yoongi barked, “Stop deflecting blame! People who love you or your father either end up dead, injured, or just simply vanish off the face of the damned earth! You’re a fucking curse!”

 

Taehyung gave a shaky laugh, salted by tears that dried on his cheeks from the heat as soon as they fell. “D-don’t say that – fuck– don’t say that -

“You’re a curse and you’re gonna continue to be a fucking curse till the day you die! Your father should have killed himself the day he killed the Parks, then there’d be one less of your flesh and blood walking around! Jimin wouldn’t have come to Busan, Hoseok wouldn’t have met you and you would have died on the streets, just the way it was supposed to be!”

 

“Yoongi – “

 

The line went dead. Taehyung stared at the phone, vision blurred by tears. Gasping sounds erupted from him, as if something was clawing its way up his trachea, determined to crush it. He stumbled, hearing a high-pitched keen sound in his ears. It was coming from him.

 

The phone rang again.

 

Taehyung jerked, gulping in air as he wiped his face with the back of his hand. But it was not Yoongi. ‘Mother’ flashed on the screen. The split change in his expression was swift. His face retracted back into a smooth mask.

 

“Why has Jungkook gone into hiding?” she asked. “Leave him out of your fight with Jimin or you know what’ll happen.”

 

Taehyung considered giving her a straight answer.

 

Fuck that.

 

“I hope you taught him how to play hide-and-seek. If I find him, I’m shooting on sight. Both of them.” Then, he threw the phone up in the air, took aim with the gun and shot it to smithereens.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jungkook’s rat pack would know where he was.

 

A bunch of emotionally-starved children exchanging sob stories and feeding on one another’s thirst for violence. Of course, they kept tabs on each other.

 

Mingyu was first on the list. His father’s old meatpacking plant was his favourite haunt. On the weekends, Mingyu could be found there, usually alone after seven pm, either fucking his whores or drinking himself silly as he played video games. Classic case of an utter waste of space. His father went from being a butcher to a politician with strong connections to the Blue House, and Mingyu ended up a whoring alcoholic.

 

Taehyung found him bent over the counter at one end of the gigantic hall, snorting up white lines. Behind him a gaming console was set up and the headphones stuck to his ears left him oblivious to his surroundings.

 

The console exploded first, a bullet ramming straight through it. Then, one half of his headphones blasted off, struck by a second bullet. Mingyu spun around, face white as a sheet. He didn’t look surprised to see Taehyung. Two holes were seared into the translucent plastic sheets dividing the plant into sections, where the bullets had pierced through.

 

He walked through the plastic sheets until he was standing just feet from Mingyu. The boy was transfixed. Taehyung cocked his head. Smiley. He was snorting Smiley at a time such as this. He truly was an addict in the ugliest sense of the word. Taehyung flipped the gun in his hand and pointed it at Mingyu.

 

“Where is he?” he said.

 

“Go fuck yourself,” Mingyu leered, turning back to his remaining lines.

 

“I’ve always admired your blasé imbecility but now is not the time!” the end of his sentence was a vicious roar, erupting as Taehyung caught a fistful of Mingyu’s hair. He dragged the boy backwards, towards the main counter and slammed his head against the side of the meat grinder. “Tell me where he is and I won’t send you to your daddy in shreds – “

 

“Get your hands off him.”

 

A new voice cut through the silence stifling the east side of the plant and Choi Dong Hyuk appeared. Taehyung was surer than ever now that Jungkook had warned them. Whatever he was playing at, he was setting up his friends to be killed. Either that or he was idiotic enough to believe they could overpower Taehyung. Something had obviously gone awry in the poorly put together ambush and he guessed it was Mingyu’s drug distraction. Choi looked pretty confident though, his gun trained directly at Taehyung’s head. Taehyung’s had lifted towards him before he had even finished his sentence.

 

“No,” he said, gripping Mingyu’s hair tighter. “Tell me where Jungkook is and I won’t hurt either of you.”

 

“Don’t make me laugh, you piece of shit. Let him go and I won’t gut you like the rat you are.” Choi hawked and then spat. The mess landed close to Taehyung’s feet.

 

“TELL – ME – WHERE – HE – IS!” Taehyung screamed, hitting Mingyu’s head against the metal slab with each word. The young man groaned, reeling, but he was starting to laugh, a hysterical, drugged-up sound. Choi was not moving an inch. Taehyung felt something terrible snap inside of him, a familiar sensation, and kicked backwards. His shoe connected with a switch concealed under the counter and the grinder jumped to life.

 

He only had ten seconds during which Choi’s eyes widened like saucers. He tensed, expecting Taehyung to threaten him some more. But Taehyung had no such intention. He lifted Mingyu in one swift movement and with a cry that barely sounded human, shoved him into the mouth of the grinder. Taehyung dove away as Choi’s bullets began to spray. They mingled with the blood, brain matter and crushed bone flying out the other end of the machine, a macabre display of fireworks, splattering over everything. Mingyu never even got a chance to scream before a quarter of him was turned into canned food.

 

Choi was hollering. Taehyung giggled, his movements tarantula-like as he crawled between the counters. It appeared Choi had lost his mind. The feared hitman of Geomjeong-pa was actually stammering. Perhaps it was the suddenness of Taehyung’s actions. People who operated with cold logic always feared what he brought to the table – chaos. And Choi was nothing if not logical.

 

“You piece of – “

 

BANG. BANG. BANG.

 

The gun exploded but the last of Taehyung’s coat whipped around the sixth counter, already headed to the next aisle. Choi dashed to the side, shooting whenever he saw the dark shadow. Taehyung shot back, but it was in vain. Both their bullets were ricocheting off of metal and concrete. By the last counter, the bullets ran out on both ends and the meat grinder was silent. Taehyung straightened, treading back in its direction, eyes alert as they scanned the empty room.

 

“Come, old man, no time for hiding now. Come out, come out, wherever you are,” Taehyung sang, ducking under counters, expecting to see Choi desperately reloading his gun under one.

 

The grinder skidded to a halt and Taehyung’s head snapped around. He went towards it, footsteps quiet but swift. What was left of Mingyu was now a stinking pool of red on the floor. A loud crack echoed, and Taehyung felt pain flash through his head. He sank to his knees, blinking to clear his vision as the base of his skull throbbed. Choi came down with a metal pipe again, but Taehyung dodged at the last minute.

 

“Oh, you nasty motherfucker – “ Taehyung broke off and fell against the side of the grinder, breathless, pants and lower half of his coat soaking in blood.

 

“Like you wouldn’t have done the same thing,” Choi snarled, and brought the pipe up.

 

This time, on the swing down, Taehyung dodged and promptly rammed his elbow down on Choi’s wrist, forcing him to drop the pipe. He knew the man’s martial art of choice, the world’s deadliest – Muay Thai. But he had very little time or patience to match his own black belt against a man who had been wielding one far longer. Krav Maga usually got the job done. Without giving him a chance to move back from the blood-soaked floor, Taehyung crammed his foot in Choi’s face. He slipped immediately after but used the blood to propel him across the floor, both his feet crushing into the base of Choi’s spine. The older man skittered against the wall, but recovered with surprising agility.

 

“You fight real dirty. Now I know what she sees in you,” Choi grunted.

 

“Zip it, old man. Save your breath,” Taehyung said, lifting the metal pipe from where it had fallen.

 

Choi flew at him. His blows fell hard. He was merciless with the strength he put behind them, but Taehyung deflected each one. Yet still, he was being pushed back towards the pool of Mingyu’s remains. The moment he landed on his ass in the middle of it, a brutal roundhouse kick from Choi would end it. Taehyung bluffed to the right and Choi’s leg swung in the same direction. Grabbing the table with Mingyu’s shattered console, Taehyung heaved with all his strength. It was so heavy, for one terrifying moment he thought it was screwed to the ground. But then it came free from the wall and rammed into Choi, knocking the wind out of him. It fell on top of his midriff, trapping him by the leg. Taehyung heard the sickening crack but to Choi’s credit, he didn’t make a sound. Instead, he began to heave at it, as if pushing the table off would mean he could get back on his feet again.

 

“Here, let me,” Taehyung panted.

 

Rather than the table, he grabbed Choi’s other leg and snapped it backwards, throwing his body weight against it. Choi’s leg split open at the knee, the shards of his bone slicing through the skin. Now he screamed, and it was deafening. Taehyung frowned. He had expected something guttural and manly, but Choi just sounded like a broken little girl. Perhaps it was Taehyung’s hearing malfunctioning. The grinder had been very loud and the metal pipe to the back of the head couldn’t have helped. Speaking of the pipe -  

 

“This isn’t personal,” were the last words Choi heard before the pipe came down. Taehyung kept swinging until Choi was faceless, just like the security team at Jungkook’s house. But it was far more satisfying to feel the crunch of his skull give in. His days as a Skull-Crusher returned to him, and for a moment, Taehyung actually felt alive. He forgot why he was there. He just obliterated the living shit out of a human being and took pleasure in it like the demonic, soulless piece of shit he was.

 

And then it occurred to him.

 

If Jungkook had given them warning, and had no doubt done it in person, the last member of this little tribe had to be close by. If Taehyung knew him – and he knew him well enough – the boy probably hadn’t left. Fear would have paralysed him upon seeing what became of his best friend. Taehyung looked around, breathless and shaking, as the pain in his head turned into adrenaline. He caught sight of himself in the polished reflection of a grinder opposite and grinned.

 

“YUGYEOM!” he yelled, stretching out the syllables until he lapsed into a cackle.

 

After reloading his gun with bullets and five minutes of searching, Taehyung found him cowering in one of the walk-in freezers, curled up by the far wall. He was frightened. In fact, Taehyung believed he might have been going into shock. His pupils were dilated like saucers, and shudders ran through him with each step inside Taehyung took.

 

“Do you know where Jungkook is, Yugyeom?” Taehyung asked, in a pleasant, calming tone, bringing in a steady, dripping trail of blood behind him. His shadow cast over the terrified young man, throwing his pale face into shadow. He was shaking his head furiously, small, whimpering sounds spilling from his lips. “Are you really covering for him? After all this?” Taehyung knelt down in front of Yugyeom, reaching out a bloodied hand and setting it on his knee. The boy burst into tears.

 

“I g-genuinely don’t know where he is, please don’t hurt me,” he wept, starting to rock back and forth.

 

It took some hushing and soothing and petting before Taehyung got him to sit quiet again. He still had that sinister, empty smile on his face. It was reflected in Yugyeom’s eyes when he made him look up. Taehyung leaned closer, sniffing as a dog might do. He touched the boy’s collar, putting his nose to it, and there it was. Jungkook’s cologne. “I suppose he hugged you goodbye, did he? I can smell him on you. He always uses too much cologne,” Taehyung murmured, turning his head.

 

His nose brushed Yugyeom’s cheek, leaving a bloodstain on his porcelain skin. He heard, rather than saw, Yugyeom lose control of his bladder. “Blood and piss on my coat? Really?” Taehyung muttered, more annoyed than angered.

 

“Please don’t kill me,” Yugyeom sobbed.

 

“I won’t kill you. You’re a good boy. You’ve always been a good boy,” Taehyung assured him. Yugyeom’s head sank forward onto his arm and he started to cry for real, shivering and hiccupping as snot dribbled from his nose, mixing with the tears on his cheeks. Taehyung held him, like he was a child who needed comfort, whilst his other hand lifted up and angled the barrel of the gun. It stopped inches from the back of Yugyeom’s head.

 

“Good boy.”

 

BANG.

 

Taehyung let him drop, careful not to let his head fall in the puddle of piss. He shook out his coat as best he could, mouth twisted into a grimace and marched back out into the packing plant. Choi’s phone. Of course. If Mother had set Choi to be Jungkook’s watchdog, then he must have the means to keep an eye on him at all times. It took a quick search of his pockets to retrieve the phone and Choi’s thumb was still warm enough to unlock the device.

 

Taehyung’s strangely focused hunch was correct. Choi had a tracking app installed and one subject in particular stood out. It was simply labelled ‘brat’. Taehyung enlarged the map where the red dot was throbbing and saw that it was stationary.

 

Gotcha.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jungkook was the one who had convinced Jimin to visit the alleyway.

 

“What’s the harm?” were his exact words. Jimin knew Jungkook was trying to find some way to appease him for Hoseok’s death, though he had given no real indication that he was mad. At least not since the initial horror of seeing Hoseok go slack against the basin. But Jungkook had learnt how to read Jimin well by now and unfortunately for Jimin, he was also learning how best to correct his mistakes when he fucked up.

 

Jungkook insisted on letting Mingyu and Yugyeom know that he was leaving first. They were on the run now, there was no doubt about it. Neither could stay in Seoul whilst Taehyung was still active, and without Mother’s support, there was no question of launching a proper offensive against him. The man was a machine when he was determined to take someone out, and Jimin and Jungkook were both targets. Jungkook had sent the last of his manpower to wait for Taehyung at the condo. Mother had retracted all her earlier promises of Yongsan-gu for the time being, leaving Jungkook adrift, truly an orphan for once. The plan was to live off the grid on the outskirts of Gwacheon until they could trace Kim Bong Ju and find him once and for all.

 

It was a shaky plan and Jimin had a feeling Taehyung would find them and slaughter them in their beds before they got anywhere near to fulfilling it. But Jungkook was so optimistic, it was difficult to be negative.

 

The alleyway was a last-ditch attempt at pretending they had some semblance of control over the helter-skelter their lives had become. And it was for nothing. Jimin knew it the moment he stepped out of the car and saw what the alley had become – a glorified squatter’s hole for the district’s homeless.  They lounged around in grubby coats, muttering to each other, small piles of canned foods hoarded up and jealously guarded. Upon seeing Jimin’s well-dressed figure, the hands emerged like flowers turned towards the sun, and a symphony of whispers rang out, asking for money. Jimin mumbled something about having no cash on him – it was true – and many of them curled up again, grumbling and sour.

 

When he showed each and every one a photograph of Kim Bong Ju in his younger days, asking if they had seen a man that looked like him, he got mostly hissed curses and spit balls at his feet. Jungkook looked ready to kick a few in the face and if it hadn’t been for Jimin’s warning hand, he would have.

 

“There’s always people wandering through here – washed up prozzies, hobos, some get killed, some get kidnapped, steady turnover,” one of the men grunted.

 

“I know, but I was asking if you’ve seen someone like this – ever,” Jimin said patiently, offering the photograph. The man took it, glaring at it for a few minutes. He handed it back and got to his feet, shuffling towards the end of the alleyway. He pushed open a rickety mesh gate that led into a darker portion of the cobbled street and then pointed at a figure curled up under a dirty sleeping bag.

 

“He knows the guy in the photo?” Jimin said.

 

But the other would say no more, except for “Check his ankle -  he comes here the 4th of every month. He’s weird.” And then, he returned to his original seated position.

 

“This is bullshit,” Jungkook muttered.

 

“Patience. It was never going to be easy,” Jimin said.

 

“Yes, but – “

 

“Jungkook, for once can there not be a but?”

 

“On the contrary, there should always be a butt.”

 

Jimin felt like punching him, but he ended up laughing anyway. The figure was a man and he stank to high heaven. Jimin retched a little just getting close. Jungkook lifted his face mask, though it did not have much of an effect. “Will I catch something if I touch him?” he muttered.

 

“I doubt it. He said to check the ankles,” Jimin whispered. “Do you think he’s asleep?”

 

“Looks like it.”

 

But then the man muttered something and both of them jumped. Jimin reached down to lift back his tattered sleeping bag and saw that his eyes were open and rolled into the back of his head. He was on some kind of high.

 

“He’s drugged himself,” Jimin said, before reaching down to pull the rest of the bag off. “Check his ankles.”

 

“Urgh.” Jungkook obliged, slipping on leather gloves before he did. “The other dude said he comes here on the 4th of each month. Any significance?”

 

Jimin didn’t pay much attention to that, still watching the man writhe in the force of his hallucinations. It wasn’t until Jungkook slapped his calf and forced him to turn and look down, that 4th took on a whole new meaning. Faded, but clearly outlined, a dagger tipped with three stars covered the skin on the man’s ankle.

 

“My parents died on the fourth,” Jimin said.

 

Jungkook’s eyes widened and he reached up to tilt the man’s head straight. It was covered in beard and grime, and there was no comparing him to the man in Jimin’s photo. But there was an instinctual feeling of holy fucking shit and as one, Jimin grabbed his legs and Jungkook did the same under his arms.  Better safe than sorry.

 

There were louder, disgruntled mutters as they carried him back through the more populated end of the alleyway. Jimin was breathing through his mouth so as not to inhale the stench. It was truly horrific. His hands were shaking but he had an iron grip on the man’s legs, determined not to let him drop.

 

“Who’s that?” he heard one of the women say and paid no attention, focused only on getting their quarry into the back of the car. Jungkook was already in the driver’s seat, the engine coming to life with a muted hum.

 

“God, Jimin, hurry up so I can get him out of this car. He fucking stinks,” he moaned, tapping the steering wheel impatiently. “Are we even sure it’s him?”

 

“I don’t know,” Jimin muttered. “But he’s got the old Geomjeong-pa tattoo on his ankle and he comes to this alleyway on the fourth of every month.” He paused, as he remembered something. “Wait, he had a bag next to him.”

 

“That might not have been his – “

 

“I have to go get it – “

 

“Jimin, we’re about to catch a hundred diseases – “

 

But Jimin was already gone, sprinting back into the dark shadows of the alleyway’s end. He didn’t remember it at as well as he thought he did. It just seemed like every other alley in Seoul now, nothing special to make it stand out. Or perhaps it was just the lack of homeless sitting around when he had been dumped there. The bag was right there in the corner, but before Jimin could open it, the sound of a safety lever being squeezed, turned his blood to ice. He turned, as slowly as he could, the bag still dangling from his hand and saw a shadowy figure standing on the other side of the mesh barrier dividing the alley from the small street opposite. Jimin knew who it was, without seeing his face. And he also knew Taehyung had no idea who they had just picked up from that very spot. If he had, he wouldn’t have taken a moment to stare Jimin down as if he were lone prey on the savannah. He would have come for him without hesitation.

 

When Taehyung grinned, Jimin shivered. In a strange slick of light that came from an upstairs window, his teeth flashed white, like a screen grab from a horror movie. And then, he launched himself, climbing the mesh wall like a spider. It was a fucking horror movie.

 

Jimin bolted. Taehyung was the most beautiful man he had ever laid eyes on but right then, he was demonic. Jimin had seen him run before, and he remembered thinking what a terrifying last sight that had to be. He had this way of standing still for a split second, leaning forward as if he were about to fall flat on his face, and then breaking into a mad sprint. He was doing it now and it was a miracle Jimin’s shorter legs were keeping any distance between them. Yells of annoyance and panic reverberated in his ears as he almost tripped over the legs of a few people sprawled out under dirty blankets and coats.

 

In a still sane part of his mind, Jimin wondered why isn’t he just shooting at me? And the hysterical part of his brain answered because he wants to torture and tear you to pieces with his own hands. That made him run faster.

 

“Jungkook, drive, drive, drive!” Jimin yelled, flinging the bag into the back seat and slamming the door shut. Mistake. Common sense left him in that moment and rather than jump in the back seat with their captive, he decided to go for the passenger seat in front as he usually would. Taehyung had him by the coat tails as Jimin yanked open the door and the car kicked into gear. He couldn’t shoot and neither could Jungkook – their guns didn’t have silencers and if the cops got involved now, they’d be in jail for the night, sitting ducks for their homicidal hunter.

 

Jimin yelped as the car shot forward a few feet, dragging him with it, whilst Taehyung yanked him backwards at the same time. He had one foot on the rim of the door and a hand on the window frame, but Taehyung’s strength was insane. Suddenly, his hand was around Jimin’s neck, choking him the more Jungkook revved the car forward in short bursts.

 

“Jungkook, just drive!” Jimin gasped, past the ever-increasing tightness of Taehyung’s fingers kneading his throat. “Take him! Go!”

 

“I’m not leaving – you – get OFF HIM YOU SON OF A  - “ Jungkook let go of the steering wheel and reached around to grab onto Jimin, pulling him back in. Taehyung had his gun out in seconds, and he shot blindly in the direction of Jungkook’s head. He missed, but it was enough to make him let go.

 

“He’s not going to kill me! GO!” Jimin let go of the car, gravity yanking him back down and he felt Taehyung let go of him just before he hit the road. He heard the engine roar and thought thank fuck, he listened to me for once.

 

“You shouldn’t have told him I’m not going to kill you.”

 

Taehyung wrenched him to his feet by the scruff of his neck. There was a small group of curious onlookers on the opposite side of the street and there were sirens getting closer. Taehyung’s gun was attracting attention.

 

 

Jimin closed his eyes when he felt the older man’s hand wrap around his throat, bringing his face closer. He heard Taehyung say more things, threats that he would no doubt follow through on, in that beautiful, baritone voice, smooth as velvet.

 

And all Jimin could do was laugh, a low, crooning sound that rose steadily in pitch.

 

He laughed, and laughed, and laughed.

 

 

 

 

Chapter Text

Trigger Warning: Violence, Bodily harm

 

Taehyung practically kicked Jimin through the front door to his apartment. He slammed the door shut and dragged the younger male into the living room, flinging him on the rug next to –

 

“Oh god – “ Jimin whispered, flinching away as he recognised the black shroud.

 

“Whose idea was the suitcase? Yours, I bet.”

 

Jimin heard the clank of the belt buckle before he heard the swing of the leather strap. It lashed the base of his spine and a scream ripped from him before he could stop it. He almost rolled over onto Hoseok’s body to dodge the next blow. But it came fast. Taehyung pulled his arm back and swung. Jimin couldn’t avoid it, but he dodged the third. The fourth caught his calf as he crawled away and he couldn’t make a sound. The pain was like splatters of white hot acid thrown on his skin. He could already feel the burning hot welts rub the fabric of his clothes and before he could grow accustomed to the terrible throb, more blows landed.

 

The glass doors onto the balcony were open and it was the only route onward, away from Taehyung. Jimin ended up pressed against the railing, bracing for the belt’s next blow. His lip was split, blood smearing over his chin. The buckle had caught on it as it grazed past on its way to land against his shoulder. Taehyung dropped the belt and lifted Jimin by the neck, both hands choking the life out of him. If he could have, Jimin would have screamed as he felt half his body tip over the side of the balcony.

 

“You didn’t kill him, did you? It was Jeon. It was that filthy little rat. Wasn’t it?” Taehyung shook him, again and again, until Jimin was sure he would fall any second. All he could see above him was the angry swirls the clouds made as the evening darkened. His hands clawed down the sides of Taehyung’s arms in an effort to grip onto him.

 

“Jungkook didn’t – it was me – “

 

That’s a dangerous game you’re playing, his subconscious whispered. He knew he would kill Jungkook without a moment’s hesitation. But Jimin was banking on the fact that Taehyung wouldn’t if he admitted to the crime. Or at least, he would leave him in good enough condition after he was done with him.

 

The rage was expected. Jimin expected Taehyung to let him fall when his hands loosened. He thought his gamble had failed. But then he was being dragged back into the room and again, he was on his knees beside Hoseok’s wrapped up corpse. Taehyung opened the shroud around his face. He was pale, his lips a sickly blue. When Jimin had gently wiped at his wound and tied a bandage on his head, he had still been warm and flushed. He gasped as Taehyung’s hands came around the side of his face, fingers pulling at the hair on his temples to force him to stare directly at the dead man.

 

You did this? You killed him? Don’t fucking lie to me!” he spat, shaking Jimin’s head forcefully with each word. “Jungkook killed him, admit it! You don’t have the fucking nerve!”

 

And then he kept yelling ‘Say it’ and shaking Jimin until his teeth rattled in his skull. It was the combination of his voice, Hoseok’s deathly pallor and the memory of how desperately Jimin had tried to revive him that made him scream –

 

“IT WAS AN ACCIDENT! I KILLED HIM, I KILLED HIM, IT WAS ME!” he broke down, crying like a baby, his nose runny, his eyes gushing with tears. Taehyung still had a traumatising grip on his head, but it was near cathartic to speak out the lie. Jimin’s body sank and he felt Taehyung’s knee digging into his back. “I killed him,” he repeated in a deadened voice. “I’m sorry.”

 

“Y-you’re sorry?” Taehyung’s voice cracked. He sank to his knees beside Jimin and his hand came down to cup his chin. “Just…sorry?”

 

“Yeah…just like your dad was when he killed the only reason I had to live all those years ago,” Jimin murmured.

 

“Is this about what my dad did? Did you fucking kill Hoseok because of what my dad did? You – “ Taehyung shoved him, knocking him against the table. Before Jimin could recover, Taehyung’s fist met with his jaw and he was brought back to the old days, of surviving beatings from this man for not bringing in a high enough turnover on his drug deals. He almost started laughing again, though he was pretty sure he’d just bitten his tongue and that was blood he could taste in his mouth.

 

“It’s not about your fucking dad, I said it was an accident!” he snarled, finally kicking out himself. His foot landed in Taehyung’s midriff and though it wasn’t much, it was enough to get him off. Jimin turned over onto his hands and knees, swaying a little before he managed to get to his feet. “I saw red. I thought he was lying to me about where Kim Bong Ju was. I didn’t believe the answer could be that numbingly simple. I just – pushed him, and he fell. You can kill me if you want, but if you do, Jungkook will kill your father when he finds out.”

 

It was almost pitiful to watch the myriad of expressions flicker over Taehyung’s face. Disbelief, hope, agony, misery – all churned into one awful, hollow look at the end. “You found him in the alleyway,” he said.

 

Jimin nodded, though he wasn’t particularly sure himself yet. Taehyung started laughing then, a sound very similar to the one Jimin had let out as Jungkook drove away. As if he were truly going mad. It wasn’t as scary as it was tragic, although maybe that was just Jimin’s understanding of him talking.

 

“The pair of you cunts really thought this through, didn’t you?” Taehyung keeled backwards, falling to the floor beside Hoseok, his eyes dead as he stared at the ceiling. “Put me in a corner, killed my best friend, took my father hostage – it doesn’t sound real even when I say it out loud. How you managed to do it, I don’t know – “

 

“Revenge is a pretty motivating factor. As is love,” Jimin interrupted. “He loves me. I hate your father more than anything else on this world. I wish his sick and twisted son didn’t love me, but that’s the way the world works, doesn’t it?”

 

Taehyung lifted his head just enough to spit at Jimin. “I don’t love you.”

 

“ ‘I love you, nightingale. Not that it matters,’ “ Jimin recited like clockwork.

 

“I thought you should hear something nice before your sorry life ended, you orphaned wretch.”

 

Jimin whistled. “Low blows, huh? Guess you really are angry with me.”

 

Taehyung sat up, with such eerie speed, it was near robotic. “You haven’t seen me really angry, you little shit, so wipe that smirk off your face before I laser it off. There are plenty of ways I can hurt you and keep you alive till you’re begging for death, you know that.”

 

Jimin’s smile was certainly gone. “I died the day my mother did. Your threats mean nothing.”

 

“Pain conquers all. I’ll make you come alive with it.” Taehyung slowly stood, his lips pulled back from his teeth in a fiendish leer. “How many resurrections do you think you can undergo until there are no more bones left to break and no more flesh to burn and scar?”  His hand slammed against the wall, pinning Jimin. Déjà vu. The younger didn’t move a muscle, allowing Taehyung to brush his fingers against the bruises on his neck from rough handling. He placed them on the marks, lining them up with his thumb pressed against the small scar under Jimin’s chin.

 

Moments of utter peril often brought madness. Jimin had experienced it before, when Mother had forced him to choose between saving Namjoon’s life and letting him die for the sake of his own conscience. He gave into the impulse then, and he gave into it now. Except that there was nothing at stake except his own life and he didn’t care much for that anyway.

 

Jimin let his lips come apart, pretending as if Taehyung’s thumb on his chin had caused them to. His eyes peeked upwards, searching out Taehyung’s in the dim light and he traced his tongue over the tip of his thumb. He was expecting the other to pull back, but instead, Taehyung just watched as Jimin began to suck the tip of his thumb between his swollen, bleeding lips. He milked it for a while, whimpering ever so soft as his lip throbbed, before releasing it.

 

“You can’t resist. Not even with your ex-boyfriend lying dead behind you. I think torturing me would hurt you more than it would hurt me,” Jimin crooned, and he grinned, the gash in his lip tearing open wider.

 

Taehyung’s face twisted with blind rage and he backhanded him across the face. Jimin took the slap as if he deserved it. The knee to the stomach was worse, and stars flashed in his vision as he collapsed to the ground. It wasn’t enough. Taehyung started kicking, sharp, angled, brutal hits to his ribs until Jimin felt something give and panicked, thinking he’d broken one. He hadn’t, it just hurt like hell. His chest would be a canvas of abstract colours tomorrow. He grabbed Taehyung’s ankle the next time his foot came flying. It was purely instinct, but he heard Taehyung spit again and winced when he felt it on his cheek.

 

“Looks like the nightingale fears pain after all. I’m going to enjoy breaking your wings.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung tied him to a chair before he left with Hoseok’s body. Jimin wasn’t surprised that no one would question Taehyung walking through the lobby with a bundle in his arms the same size as a human man. Half this apartment building was directly rented out by Geomjeong-pa. The reach of the kingdom was extensive and in his darkest, loneliest moments, Jimin had salivated at having such power. For someone who had always been powerless, Geomjeong-pa was a Holy Grail.

 

He drifted in and out of sleep in the three hours that passed. The pain had given him a brief high, but he crashed hard and the only escape was to drift into unconsciousness. The slam of the door jerked him right back out. The clock on the wall read 1am. His first thought was of Jungkook, that he would do something stupid if he feared Jimin was already dead. But then it occurred to him that as long as Taehyung wasn’t going after him, Jungkook would know Jimin was still alive. Small comfort.

 

Taehyung walked in, drenched from the rain. There was dirt on his hands and Jimin’s heart clenched. He wondered where he had chosen to bury Hoseok. Jimin knew next to nothing about the ex-cop, including whether he had family or not. Who would they turn to when their son failed to get in touch? The police in Busan would denounce him as a turncoat and if by some miracle they managed to contact Yoongi, his answer would be no better. Hoseok’s death had been unnecessary collateral damage. He was quite possibly the only person who could truly control Taehyung and Jungkook had eradicated him in a misjudged bout of cold logic.

 

The minutes ticked by during which Taehyung ignored him. Jimin felt something trickle from his lip and glanced down to see a steady, thin string of blood pouring onto the front of his jacket. He spat as quietly as he could, but it caught Taehyung’s ear and he turned. Jimin looked up. Multicoloured stars danced around Taehyung’s face until he blinked them away and his vision only fuzzed around the edges.

 

“Will you leave Jungkook alone once you’re done with me?” Jimin said, trying not to slur the words. He had bitten his tongue way too hard earlier.

 

Taehyung took a deep breath, releasing it with a bitter laugh. “I really did think he killed Hoseok. Strange, how you’ve managed to overturn my expectations a hundred times in the past, and yet I still believed you couldn’t do such a thing.”

 

“Well, he didn’t kill Hoseok. So, he doesn’t deserve to die,” Jimin reiterated.

 

“I’ve killed all his friends.”

 

“W-what?”

 

Taehyung walked closer. His smile widened as Jimin started to cry. Soft gasps at first, and then heaving, child-like sobbing. He remembered advising Jungkook to not tell his friends they were leaving. It would be too dangerous, he’d said. But Jungkook was sure that Choi would protect them. Yugyeom had hugged Jimin before they left. Mingyu had never had any positive feelings towards him but Yugyeom was quieter and more pliant, and he had always appreciated Jimin’s sullen nature. And now he was dead.  

 

Taehyung knelt before him, touching their foreheads together. “I put Mingyu in a meat grinder, shot Yugyeom in the back of the head and bashed Choi Dong Hyuk’s face in till his teeth were creating constellations on the floor. I wanted to break Jungkook and turns out he didn’t deserve it after all. How does that make you feel?”

 

Jimin let out a loud, piercing scream, ignoring the pain in his jaw as it stretched. The sound died away into broken sobs, tears and drool dripping onto his thigh as Taehyung’s hands squeezed either side of his head.

 

“I guess I’m sorry too. It was an “accident”,” Taehyung whispered, “Do you think he’ll forgive me? Or do you think he’ll come after me and try to kill me?”

 

He wrapped his arms around Jimin, almost tipping the chair forward as he pressed his face into his shoulder. Taehyung inhaled, soaking in the smell of the boy’s blood, sweat and tears, and then let out a sigh of relief. He held him until Jimin couldn’t take it anymore. He pulled back his head and spat in Taehyung’s face. The reaction was swift. Taehyung punched him, pulling his fist all the way back. The world swung up and Jimin’s head slammed against the hard floor. His breath caught, the agony so sharp that for a moment he almost blacked out. Before he could recover, he heard the sharp click of a switchblade and then the sharp rustle of ropes. Taehyung was cutting his restraints, no doubt for ease of torture.

 

Jimin braced himself and the second he felt his wrists slip free, he lunged for the couch. Taehyung was a paranoid freak and he kept weapons in the unlikeliest places even in his own home. The left cushion of the couch was slightly loose and Jimin knew there was a Ruger concealed between it and the hard-padded seat. He allowed himself no time to think, whipped the safety off, turned and fired.

 

The explosion was deafening, and Taehyung buckled where he stood about eight metres away. Then, before Jimin’s horrified eyes, he straightened, though his hand shook as he held onto his abdomen. He’d lost his voice for a minute, face contorted in pain, but there was no blood. He stumbled forward, set his knee on the couch and hovered over Jimin with one hand holding him up against the back of it. “Blanks,” he managed to choke out. He grabbed Jimin’s hand, still holding the gun and pressed it against the underside of his chin. “If you want to kill me with a fucking blank, this is your best bet.”

 

His breathing was laboured, shuddering out of him with each exhale. The blank was not fatal, but it had probably knocked his senses out of him for a second there. Jimin sat there unmoving, his hand pinned to the gun by Taehyung’s larger one. Finally, he pulled it away by force, sinking against the cushion.

 

“We’re even now,” Taehyung rasped. “You tried to kill me, I tried to kill you. Seems like we need a bomb to blow the pair of us up because we’re obviously rubbish at this.”

 

Jimin laughed. It was more of a cough, but then the mirth poured out and he pressed his hand to his eyes, unable to keep from giggling. Taehyung smiled too, looking thoroughly dazed with pain and keeled forwards, resting his head on Jimin’s stomach. He lay there, feeling the way Jimin’s body shook with laughter, and let himself drift into the empty space in his mind where nothing made sense.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

They must have fallen asleep because Jimin didn’t remember a thing from the moment Taehyung collapsed on top of him. When he awoke, the sky outside was a tad paler than it had been before. It was early morning. Taehyung was now almost fully draped over him. The gun was still lying on the arm of the couch, right next to his head. Jimin lifted it, knowing full well he wouldn’t pull the trigger. He pushed it against Taehyung’s head and felt the man’s eyelashes flutter open against the back of his hand. He didn’t move an inch. Jimin clicked the safety back on and replaced the gun.

 

Taehyung lifted his head. Jimin blinked lazily up at him, not an ounce of energy left in his bones. “You look like shit,” he whispered. Taehyung said nothing in response, instead readjusting his position and falling against the opposite end of the sofa. “So that was a failure, huh?”

 

“What was?” Taehyung scowled.

 

“I can’t kill you. You can’t kill me. At this rate, we’ll just grow an addiction to physical pain.”

 

“You might need to. I’m already there. What do you want to eat?”

 

“What?”

 

“Breakfast.”

 

Jimin snorted. “You’re kidding, right?”

 

“Suit yourself.”

 

Jimin watched him get up and go over to the kitchen. He peeled off his jacket and did the same with his shirt before thrusting his head under the kitchen tap. An easier alternative to showering for the time being, Jimin supposed. Taehyung turned to open the fridge and Jimin felt his body physically curl up in on itself. Not because of pain or fear. No, this feeling was at the opposite end of the spectrum. But it did hurt to watch him, just a little. It hurt because this state of affairs felt so absurdly normal. He was lying here on the couch, bruised and battered, Taehyung had a bruise flowering on his abdomen after being shot with a blank and now he was cooking breakfast and Jimin’s heart was melting just to watch him. This was wrong. All of it.

 

The smell of sizzling omelettes wiped away such thoughts for the time being and Jimin started to fidget. His eyes were no longer following the ripple of lean, hard muscle under golden skin, and were instead firmly fixed on the frying pan. Taehyung glanced at him, smirked and then made a show of flipping the omelette. Jimin glowered, crossing his arms and closing his eyes.

 

“You wanna eat, don’t you?” Taehyung called, “Come on now. The next time you say something that makes me beat the hell out of you, you’ll drop like a leaf. You should eat and get some energy before that happens.”

 

“I don’t like this waiting game for you to do something bad to me,” Jimin said.

 

“Why not? It’s kind of fitting. Like the last meals they give to prisoners on death row.”

 

“Except I’m not going to die.”

 

“If you ask nicely, you might.”

 

“Kill me.”

 

“Nuh-uh.”

 

“Sorry – please kill me.”

 

Taehyung was no longer smiling and Jimin decided it was probably best to be silent again. He had cooked for both of them, despite Jimin’s denial that he wanted food at all. He dumped the first tray on the table in front of Jimin and left to retrieve his own. They ate in silence, the TV becoming a welcome distraction.

 

A pristinely dressed newscaster reported of the President and the First Lady’s recent visit to the opening of a new orphanage in Incheon. Much of the interest revolved around the grandson they had taken with them. On the news ticker, his introduction began with ‘Sixteen-years-old, hard-working presidential grandson, Choi Yeonjun.’ The smarminess of the newscasters was almost unbearable to watch as they gushed over his good looks and the fact that he was doing the bare minimum. He didn’t bust a single smile, and simply stood his by grandfather and stared blankly at the cameras as if he wished the earth would swallow him whole.  Jimin imagined that would probably have been him if his parents had survived. His father would have gradually introduced him to the public like a prince. Their chaebol controlled a third of Korea’s economy in its heyday, something which would have no doubt multiplied in present time. Jimin had never wanted to the be the Crown Prince of the unofficial royal family of Korea but it felt worse knowing it had been ripped from him against his will.

 

“Can I call Jungkook?” Jimin said suddenly.

 

“What for?” Taehyung muttered, eyes still glued to the screen where Choi Yeonjun flinched a little as a flash blinded him.

 

“To distract him.”

 

“From what?”

 

“From trying to reach out to his friends in my absence. You do realise he has your father, don’t you? What’s he going to do once he finds out Mingyu and Yugyeom are dead?”

 

Taehyung said and did nothing for a while. Jimin finally prodded his side with his toe and he got up to retrieve Jimin’s phone from where he’d left it on the mantelpiece. He whirled around and smashed it against the wall.

 

“Dick!” Jimin yelled.

 

“Suck it,” Taehyung shot back. “Are you done with your coffee?”

 

Jimin wanted to throw the dregs in his face, but he resisted and curled up again, keeping his fists safely clenched. “You’ll make someone a good fucking housewife someday,” he muttered as Taehyung cleared the table. His sarcasm went largely ignored. Jimin grabbed the remote and turned off the TV. After a moment’s hesitation, he smashed the remote in an identical manner to his phone.

 

Taehyung didn’t even bat an eye.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Taehyung left him alone again an hour or so later. He tied Jimin to the chair once more, very much against his will. He pleaded, reasoned, cursed, screamed, but Taehyung tied the ropes hellishly tight and put a jacket around his shoulders to keep him from being too chilly. Jimin sank, defeated.

 

“Where are you going?” he murmured. “And when will you be back?”

 

“I have to show my face to Mother, to keep her from thinking I chased down her precious pet. If she gives me something to do, I don’t know when I’ll be back. Sorry.”

 

He didn’t sound sorry at all.  

 

“Can’t you just lock all the windows and doors, take the keys and leave? I’m dying for a shower and these cuts might get infected – “

 

Slam.

 

The door beeped as it locked behind him.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

He returned as the sky was getting dark and the sound of the door jolted Jimin out of the horrible stupor he had fallen into. His ears rang with the remnants of sickly, hideous dreams curled up in the last shreds of his subconscious. In walked Taehyung, dressed in clean clothes, with his hair neatly brushed and his face completely unbothered.

 

“It’s – been – nine – hours,” Jimin growled, his head lolling a little as it moved to follow the direction of Taehyung’s footsteps. “What the fuck is wrong with you?”

 

“You were right,” Taehyung shrugged carelessly, opening a bottle of water from the fridge and downing it in two gulps. “Hurting your pretty face would probably hurt me more. Since I’m such a sucker for it, right? Well, letting you rot tied to a chair fulfils the purpose and I don’t have to do a thing. Look at you. Half-crazed already. This is fun.”

 

Jimin had no more room left for defiance. The growl had taken the last of it. His face crumpled and he whined, dropping his head back. “Please don’t. I can’t take this. I will take all the pain you want to dole out, but I can’t do this. Untie me.”

 

Taehyung chuckled. “Yeah…beat you around just enough to make sure you’re too tired to attempt escape and leave you for twelve hours on your own. Sounds fun.”

 

“Taehyung, please…please, please, please – “ Jimin cried, hammering his feet on the floor like a child.

 

The look of disgust that flashed across Taehyung’s features would have been humiliating if he wasn’t so desperate to escape this terrible inertia. He finally came towards Jimin and with a dry, “You stink,” he started to untie the ropes.

 

“Am I allowed to use the shower?”

 

“Are you?”

 

“Taehyung – “

 

“To keep me from having to smell you, yes. Use the fucking shower.”

 

Jimin managed to make it up the stairs, though he did partially crawl some of the way. His legs were like paper, refusing to support him unless he held onto every available piece of furniture and wall. Taehyung stayed behind on purpose, preferring to watch him suffer before he finally came up the stairs too. In the bathroom, Jimin sank against the tiled wall as he struggled to rid himself of the clothes clinging to his body. They were soiled with sweat and blood, and he thought longingly of the walk-in closet at Jungkook’s condominium. He had laughed at it before, but now he wanted nothing more than to spend an hour mindlessly trawling through all the clothes.

 

“Are you going to be alright in the shower or do you need me to help?” Taehyung said.

 

Jimin frowned at him, as if trying to figure out whether the offer was mocking or genuine. He expected to see a dirty smirk and that dark twinkle in his eyes he secretly liked so much. He saw neither. Taehyung’s expression was dead-pan. Jimin was about to tell him to get lost, but he remembered his threat to tie him down again the next morning. He couldn’t do that again, he couldn’t. It would be better to treat this as Stockholm Syndrome and play nice.

 

“Yes please,” he said quietly.

 

Taehyung pulled open the shower door and turned the water on after rolling up his sleeve. He beckoned Jimin over to the sink and pulled open the glass cabinet above it. Jimin held onto the cold marble in an effort to keep himself aloft as he watched Taehyung dab a cotton pad against the mouth of a bottle of antiseptic solution. He winced as the first touch of the soaked cotton sent such a terrible sting through his lips, his eyes watered. The wound had stopped hurting before, but now, it was back. He sniffed, blinking away tears and Taehyung smiled softly.

 

“What?” Jimin murmured, as he doused a new piece of cotton for the cuts on his cheekbones.

 

“You can take the hardest kicks and punches from me, like you’re in the ring. But a little alcohol on your wound and you start crying,” he said.

 

Jimin said nothing, just gazing up at him. Taehyung met his eyes a couple times, but the moment passed without incident. Something bright in the bandage box caught Jimin’s eye and he lifted up a box of pikachu plasters with an inquiring flick of his eyebrows. Taehyung grinned when he saw it, and Jimin couldn’t help laughing, though it was cut short immediately as his lips throbbed in protest.

 

He was completely naked before the other, and yet he wasn’t self-conscious at all. Only when Taehyung’s hand brushed his waist, did he start to tense up. If the other noticed, he made no indication. What Jimin called the ‘haze’ was returning. That psychological fog that had a dreamy placebo effect and assured him it was just the two of them and the rest of the world had vanished. He fought against it, but there was no point. It never completely vanished. Every time Taehyung caught his eye and gave him that secretive little smile, Jimin felt dizzy for reasons far removed from the pain in his body.

 

The water from the shower was warm, steam escaping through the open glass door where Taehyung stood. Jimin grabbed onto the railing fitted to the side and yawned, stretching his head back and shaking out his hair under the pouring water. “Your clothes will get damp,” he said.

 

Taehyung didn’t answer. Jimin blinked through the water clouding his vision and wiped his face, to look at him. He hesitated, extended his hand out a little and beckoned. Taehyung looked tempted. Jimin latched onto that weakness and walked to him, carefully, never losing his grip on the railing. With one hand, he unbuttoned Taehyung’s shirt, keeping eye contact until the other finally cooperated. He stripped down and pulled Jimin away from the railing.

 

Large hands ran down the sides of Jimin’s body and he almost wept with relief. Taehyung’s mouth was against his temple, his hard chest pressing into the curve of his spine with Jimin’s heels pressing against the top of his feet. He kept touching the bruises and welts on his body and the agony was near ecstatic. Jimin knew he did it partly out of sadism borne from the rage he couldn’t so easily drain away, but also because when he did, Jimin let out sounds that made his fingers tighten reflexively.

 

He was ever so gentle with the shampoo, keeping Jimin’s chin tilted back with one hand whilst the other combed through his locks. Jimin’s knees felt weak as Taehyung brushed through the base of his scalp and he reached back to lock his arm around the older man’s waist, desperate for something to anchor him. He felt something primal swell inside his core, but he didn’t expect it to escape him verbally.

 

“I missed you,” he whispered before he could stop himself. Taehyung stopped his careful rinsing of his hair and Jimin’s eyes snapped open. He kicked himself mentally and prepared for a poisonous retort, but it never came. Instead, Taehyung nuzzled the back of his neck and murmured, “I missed you too.”

 

Jimin almost sobbed. Whether it was pain, hunger or Stockholm Syndrome, he didn’t know, but he turned and put his arms around Taehyung like a child begging for comfort. Taehyung continued to rinse his hair, but his arms came around him too. “I’m sorry,” Jimin sniffled, “I’m sorry about Hoseok, I’m so, so – “

 

“Jimin.” Taehyung’s hands seized his head between them, forcing him to look up. His eyes were as dark as ever, nearly black. His breathing was no longer as calm as it had been. “Don’t mention his name. Don’t mention what you did. It makes me want to split your skull and tear you to shreds with my bare hands. If you die, I have nothing else left, so don’t – just fucking don’t – “

 

“Okay, okay,” Jimin nodded quickly, “I won’t. I promise.” He didn’t move. The hold on his head was very hard, almost as if Taehyung actually was on the verge of crushing his skull despite what he’d said. Jimin didn’t breathe until it loosened. “I think I’m clean,” he whispered, squeezing Taehyung’s arm briefly.

 

He was able to walk on his own back to the bedroom, leaving his clothes in a sorry pile on the bathroom floor. He made sure not to look at his body in the mirror as he passed it. He was too scared he’d see a misshapen, bruised version of what it normally was. It would make everything too real. Just like Taehyung was pretending everything was fine, Jimin decided he would do the same. It hurt too m