“Is it possible to tie a human finger into a knot?”
They’re planning their latest hit— that is, Minho is planning their latest hit— in the living room. He’s not sure why they call it a living room, when they only ever come in here to plan out detailed assassinations. It’s more of an execution room than anything else. Jiwon, who is upside down on the couch, has disassembled both of their watches and is attempting to reconstruct the pieces into one ultimate Watch. It’s not working— the links on Jiwon’s watch are slightly wider than the links on Minho’s, and anyway the designs are all wrong, all he’s doing is deforming the links— but that doesn’t deter Jiwon in the slightest.
“Bones shattered or whole?” Minho says, looking up from a blueprint of a hotel to watch as Jiwon determinedly jams two more incompatible links together.
“Whole,” Jiwon responds, forcing in the watch pin. The metal bends as it’s shoved in. He’s single handedly ruining two watches worth over a billion won each. “Well, not whole. It can be broken, it’s gotta be a clean break. Not all mushed up.”
Minho examines his own hands and does a mental simulation, pitting calculations against each other. If they were in a cartoon, he’s sure that there’d be plenty of complicated-looking, totally irrelevant integrals and matrixes floating around his head.
“No,” he concludes. “The diameter versus length ratio isn’t big enough.” Jiwon nods, disappointed. If he squints hard enough, Minho can see him mentally crossing off tie a finger into a knot on his list of intel-gathering ideas.
“Look,” Jiwon says, holding up the watches— or rather, the Watch. Minho looks.
“What the hell is that supposed to be?” Minho asks, laughing in spite of the vague eldritch-watch-horror-vibe associated with the entire thing. It’s huge and looks ridiculous as hell. Jiwon has remade the watch straps in an impressive display of brute force. They aren’t so much interlinked as they are twisted together to the point that it’s impossible for any link to fall out. A watch face has been integrated on opposite ends of the straps. The glass on them has become scratched and blurry from Jiwon’s antics, but Minho can see the hands still ticking merrily away on the inside.
“It’s a physical representation of our love, of course!” Jiwon says proudly, shoving the mess of a thing closer to Minho’s face. “Here, try it on.” He slides the abomination onto his wrist. It’s about twenty sizes too big and hangs comically down his arm, and one of the bent pins sticks out between the links and pokes painfully into Minho’s flesh as it dangles on his wrist. He is torn between delight at the sheer absurdity of the contraption, and affection for its maker.
“So?” Jiwon says. He’s moved closer to Minho, and his crescent eyes are crinkled at the edges as he looks at him, bright and expectant. Minho grins at him. They can never do anything with either of the watches again— Jiwon’s completely wrecked the Cartier and Audemars past the point of no return, and if they put it up as an art piece Jiho would definitely have a stroke when he visits. Minho turns the Watch around in his hands and traces over the alternating links that have been jammed together. He decides that it’s the greatest thing that he’s ever seen. But…
“Why does the physical representation of our love have to look like it got run over by a tank?” he asks. Jiwon gasps, offended.
“Nobody is perfect, hyung. I’ve purposefully designed this piece to celebrate our flaws and differences! Even though the links weren’t designed to fit together, the strength of our bond…” Minho leans back more comfortably against Jiwon and closes his eyes as he continues to randomly throw out poetic bullshit, lets himself be lulled by the husky, soothing voice. At some point, Jiwon, still talking, slides his hand alongside Minho’s through the too-wide Watch and laces their fingers together. Minho tilts his head towards Jiwon and cracks open his eyes slightly to look at him. Jiwon beams at him with his bunny teeth, and there is a rare unguarded happiness in his eyes. Minho keeps his eyes open for one more second, memorizing every detail in this moment, before closing them again with a smile of his own. He doesn’t think he would mind dying on this feeling.
Their latest target is an executive of a multi-billion oil corporation in the West who is visiting Korea on a business trip. In their experience, Western bodyguards are more of a pain than their Eastern counterparts. More wary, less tolerant of any suspicious behavior. Having spent the first half of his childhood in America, Jiwon knows that they’re not used to the spirited, ever nosy nature of the women and the elderly that are commonplace here. So, while Minho stresses over finding vantage points for sniping and scouting infiltration routes next to him, Jiwon busies himself by going over every single weapon in his arsenal.
Sleek black sniper rifles, customized semis and shotguns and knives, traps of every imaginable size and shape. They’re his most prized possessions. Out of all of them, his personal favorites are the ones that have been gifted to him by the people he’d become close to over the course of his career. A beautiful silver blade from Hanbin, etched with a roaring tiger. A midnight-black revolver, gifted to him by Jiho-hyung when Jiwon had single-handedly wiped out an entire rival gang in a night. Your first knockout , Jiho had said to him. They’re gonna be seeing you do a lot more of that soon. A garrotte from Jiyong-hyung, poison-laced needles from Jinhwan, twin daggers from Teddy-hyung. Jiwon spends the better part of three hours polishing and assembling every gun and sharpening every blade. The movements of his routine are familiar and assuring.
He’s in the middle of carefully rewinding the garrote when he realizes that Minho has fallen silent, no longer swearing at the shift patterns of the hotel staff. Jiwon looks up and sees him leaning back against the couch, looking at him, schedules and blueprints forgotten.
“What’s up?” he says, but he already knows. Minho always gets like this for all their more complex plans, mind overloaded trying to include the potential encounters and calculating every possibility, taking every last variable into account. Minho gets all wound up before a hit in the same way that Jiwon always does right after one. The feeling is singularly unique— an odd combination of anticipation and tightly coiled tension, one that starts at the chest and slowly coils its way up to the head, dizzying and suffocating. It used to be worse. Before they’d gotten together, Minho would whip through countless bottles of liquor before a mission and do lines like it was breathing. Jiwon would rampage for hours and hours through the alleyways of the red light districts after finishing a job, uncaring of any injuries, pulverizing anything that moved until his scorching bloodlust had been satisfied, until the screaming in his head was drowned out by the screaming outside of it.
They were better, now. They countered each other, contained the craze so that it stayed strictly between the two of them. Each of them stopped the other from collapsing under the burden of themselves.
“Don’t let me interrupt you, by all means.” Minho says. They both know. The edges of Jiwon’s lips quirk up as he continues to wind the wire, movements fluid and steady.
They sit in companionable silence as Jiwon methodically goes through the remaining weapons that have yet to be attended to, but there’s anticipation building in the air. He’s just able to slide in the last cartridge, barely gets the chamber shut before Minho is pouncing on him. The impact sends them crashing into the floor and the gun flies out of his hand, and they roll around, struggling for a bit as Minho bleeds his tension through lethal techniques and violent, brutal motions of his body that Jiwon meets with a wild and unrestrained force of his own.
Later, when Minho has tired himself out and the cacophony in his head has subsided, their movements will become more refined, more assured. Right now, though, they exchange violence in its purest, most undistilled form. They move with a sort of primal force, paired with what could laughably be called martial arts and combat techniques stripped to its barest, most primitive form.
They circle each other slowly, then lash out without warning. A rib-breaking blow aimed by Minho is met in the middle by a sweeping axe kick that Jiwon throws at his collarbone. The elbow that Jiwon directs at Minho’s throat is effectively blocked by a hook that Minho throws at him. Bruises blossom along their bodies. Their destructive motions clash against each other and cancel out with a force that makes their teeth rattle. Defense between them is unheard of.
Neither hold back. It is mutually understood that the moment one of them shows any sort of restraint, all movement must immediately stop. Otherwise, the fight will end in a cripple or a death.
As they grapple for the upper hand, Minho manages to bodily throw Jiwon to the floor. Jiwon grabs onto the front of Minho’s shirt as he goes down, which sends the two of them rolling over and over until both of their worlds spin and their visions tunnel. All they can see is each other, everything else rendered worthless and insignificant.
With a deft snap of his hips, Jiwon manages to control the flow of their movements until they come to a stop with Minho pinned underneath him. They pause briefly, struggling for breath. Jiwon leans back slightly, and surveys his catch, looking closely for a sign. He’s got Minho pinned down by his left wrist and right shoulder on the floor. The craze has left his eyes, which have now regained their usual sparkle, and his dark hair fans out around his face like some strange variance of a halo. Jiwon vaguely thinks that it’s been a while since Minho’s last had a haircut. He looks good like this though, beautifully flushed and so alive. And, just as all the other times they have done this, Jiwon wants .
His grasp loosens as he leans down at the same time that Minho surges up, and they meet with a clash of lips and teeth and burning fire and nothing else in the world matters, and the only thing he can focus on is him , writhing and clawing and just as desperate to take as he wants to be taken.
They are still on the ground of the living room. Minho is laying beside him, finally relaxed. Their lips are swollen and they’re both sporting brand new collections of bruises that are rapidly purpling, on Jiwon’s neck and Minho’s chest, and everywhere else that they have made contact with during their fight. They’re skilled enough to avoid any breaks, but there’s a rather painful ache throbbing on Jiwon’s ribs that he’ll have to guilt Minho into attending to later.
The gun is still lying on the ground under the table, where it fell when Minho jumped him. Still sprawled out on the floor, Jiwon stretches an arm out and clicks the safety off on a whim.
“Idiot,” Minho groans sleepily, reaching over and swiping randomly with his hand until he catches Jiwon’s hand and pins it back to the ground. He’s staring straight down the barrel from the angle the gun is pinned, and Jiwon’s finger is caught on the trigger.
“You’re the idiot,” Jiwon says, affection thick in his voice. Minho blinks at him and throws an arm at Jiwon, pulling him closer against himself. A hand reaches out to pet at Jiwon’s raven locks, and they’re gone.
When Jiwon wakes up, they’re cuddled together in the space between the couch and the table in the so-called living room. He’s using the back of Minho’s hand as a pillow, and Minho is using the corner of a couch cushion that had gotten upended during their scuffle. Jiwon can already tell that standing up is going to hurt like a bitch.
Minho yawns and stretches, uncaring, as the barrel of the gun digs deeper into his chest. As he turns to look over at Jiwon, a strand of hair falls over his eye. His face scrunches up as Jiwon blows a puff of air at him, blowing the hair up his forehead. Jiwon laughs as Minho grumbles exaggerated complaints about his morning breath, and they begin smacking at each other ineffectually, gun tossed away to the side. He reaches out for Minho as their childish laughter subsides and pulls him close, relishing in the warmth and the comforting familiarity of his body. He doesn’t think he would mind living the rest of his life on this feeling.