Day 51 9.45 am
Knees : Trembling
Breath : Minty fresh
Feeling : Okay. It’s just another day at work. What could happen?
If it wasn’t for Chris Atkins who personally approached him for this mission, Jimin would have bolted at the very first sight of their makeshift headquarters. Any person walking down the front would look at it and say his prayers for the poor guy living in it. Thankfully, it was just an office; but he worked such long hours he might as well say he did.
The worst were the pigeons, always cooing and shitting about. The stairs too, fuck all seven flights of them.
Their office was tucked into a row of other abandoned buildings. It was highly likely that no one knew this, but Chris had bought off the entire row so that they would have this building to themselves. Jimin could see why Chris chose it. Right at their back door, there was a lake; and the rooftop was flat so as to double as a helicopter landing. It all made for strategic escapes.
“Hey Kareena,” he said as he slung his messenger bag off his shoulder.
Kareena was practically hidden behind her huge monitors. She popped up to wave at him and went back to her work.
Chris was a late riser so they ended up with a late start and a late night. But Kareena was always early. He once asked her about it and she said it was just the way she was raised. Her mother had a spatula ready in hand if she wasn’t out of bed by eight in the morning.
Jimin was an early bird too. He had routines and he liked getting them done before starting his day at work. That way, even if they made little headway, he could still feel accomplished.
He walked over to the kitchenette to fix himself a drink. The entire tea collection belonged to him. His co-workers on the other hand, were all coffeeholics.
Just as he was making his way back to his desk, Hanna walked in along with Jungkook. She was giggling about something and Jungkook was shaking off his umbrella.
Had it started raining? Jimin wasn’t even paying attention.
He watched from the corner of his eyes as Jungkook brushed off water droplets from Hanna’s hair. There was barely a single drop on her head, but Jungkook kept to it as if she was dripping wet. She flushed beet red and Jimin rolled his eyes.
He pretended not to notice their entrance and focused on organising his desk instead. There wasn’t much to organise, if he was being honest. He just wanted to look busy. He shuffled a few papers around surreptitiously before deliberately gathering them into their proper stacks.
When it was very nearly ten, Chris walked in with a spring in his step. Jimin wondered offhandedly if he was the only one who hated the stairs. Everyone else seemed to make their way up joyfully.
“Good morning everyone!” Chris said. His cheeks were pink like he’d rushed up to meet them.
Their office had an open floor. On the very first day, Chris gave them free reign with how they wanted to situate themselves. Kareena immediately went for the corner with multiple power sockets. She plugged in all her monitors and made herself right at home. Jimin steered towards the windows. He liked the natural sunlight and being next to an opening to the outside put him at ease. He wasn’t exactly claustrophobic but enclosed spaces kept him on his toes.
Jungkook was somewhere along the wall as well. If Jimin looked up from his desk, Jungkook would be directly in his line of sight. Hanna had started out beside Kareena but a couple of weeks back, she’d moved right next to Jungkook. Whatever that was going on between the two of them, Jimin hoped they kept it under wraps. Office romance- however casual and informal- was a sure-fire way of attracting attention.
Which was the last thing they wanted.
“We’ve finally gotten our big break.”
Some six months ago, a middle aged couple approached the police for fear their daughter had joined a cult. The couple wasn’t particularly religious, and had never obstructed their daughter’s journey in discovering her own path. But they grew worried when they realised there was something more sinister in the works. It began with skiving off school, then it was having friends beyond her age range, after that they noticed her becoming volatile- behaviour-wise and particularly, the anti-Semitic speech she would blurt out at the dinner table, or when they gathered with friends and family.
With further investigations, it was discovered the cult was only a front for a bigger operation- a terrorist cell recruiting new members to carry out attacks within the country.
They were working hand in hand now- local law enforcement officers and the five of them. Chris Atkins doubled as their team leader and liaison officer. He was with the CIA, Jimin knew that much, and his guess was that Chris had to be pretty high up on the ranks to head their team. And then there was Hanna, Kareena and Jungkook, plus himself. Chris had then chosen the four of them from different agencies. He called them espionage agents on their first day- but that was just a dressed up term. They were spies, really.
For a month and a half now they’d been working the case day and night. There had been attacks in different parts of the country- sporadic and with no warning. It was only after they had started unravelling the mystery that they realised those attacks were all connected- and connected to this one group.
Chris was holding a pink manila folder in his hand and waved it wildly. Some leaflets snuck out and Jimin glimpsed a grayscale photo.
There was a huge corkboard smack dab in the middle of the floor and several smaller ones beside it. They were tacked with information from A to Z- photos, updates, research and deductions. Chris raced to a half empty board and rummaged through the folder picking out a handful of papers. There was a lot more material in it than Jimin had initially imagined.
“So this just came in through France. One of the cult members we had under surveillance took a trip to Paris. We sent an APB and the Gendarmerie were alerted to keep their eyes peeled.”
“And? Has anything happened?” Hanna asked.
“I’m getting to it,” Chris said, as he grabbed a few thumb tacks. He pinned a blurry close up of a man onto the board, along with a slew of photos taken at multiple different angles of the same house. The final photo that Chris put up was more of a panorama shot and Jimin could see the house as a whole. It was more of a bungalow, really. A brick Tudor style bungalow that reminded him more of 19th century England rather than 2020 America.
“So here’s the update,” Chris turned to them and clapped his hands, stretching the buttons of his dress shirt. “The cult woman met with another man. There weren’t any photos of their meeting, unfortunately. They were probably carrying signal jammers to keep their conversation private. Lucky for us, our mystery man had a craving for a bottle of coke. It was a dark and dingy looking place so he might have overlooked the surveillance camera at the front of the mart. But we got a shot. And that’s all we needed.” Chris pointed at the photo.
Jimin thought the photo was as indistinct as potato mash. All he could make out was shoulder length hair and perhaps a scar along the man’s left eyebrow. It was so pixelated from being too zoomed in that it was practically a blob of black and white, with hints of grey.
Kareena stood up and walked to the corkboard. Today she was wearing a knee length paisley patterned dress that swayed gently with each step. She nudged her glasses up her nose and stood right in front of the picture, scrutinising it for a moment. Nodding, she turned to the photos of the house. “They tracked him and he lives here?”
“Wait, wait.” Hanna interrupted. She had a frown on her face and looked around the room to gauge everyone else’s standing. “Who’s this man? And why do we have pictures of his house? Also, where is his house?”
Chris’s expression said he was just waiting for someone to ask that question. He led Kareena back to her seat and returned to his position by the board. He said slowly, “I present to you, Jan Anderson, the leader of the cult, and very highly likely, the most wanted man in America. And he lives in this very state, Bluefield, to be exact.”
Day 51 10.15 am
Intrigue and curiosity : Increasing exponentially
They’d been working on the case for weeks and this was their first real lead.
“Here’s my plan.” Chris pulled up another corkboard, slightly smaller than the one they were currently using.
“Before that, let’s just make a quick review of the barrage of information we just had.” It was the first time Jungkook had spoken since Chris dropped the news. He had his arms folded across his chest and was leaning back on his chair on two legs. “So Janny boy here is half German, a cult leader and lives in the suburbs with wifey and kiddy.”
“And doggy,” Hanna added, forefinger pointing up and grinning brightly at Jungkook.
“And we know he’s the leader because our inside man confirmed it just a few minutes ago, yes.” Chris said, tacking on more papers, this time a much clearer shot of a woman, a child and a Pomeranian.
“Ugh,” Hanna’s lips twisted into a scowl, “That kind of dog.”
“What’s wrong with the dog?” JImin asked, affronted on its behalf.
“At home we call them city dogs. All bark and no bite.”
Kareena sniggered, pushing up her glasses again. “That’s kind of true. They’re really loud.”
“Back to the plan,” Chris said loudly, voice carrying over all of theirs. “Two of you are getting married today.”
Day 51 10.21 am
The day : Taking a turn
Chris : Pleased
“Who’s getting married?”
Jimin glanced up in surprise. “Why am I getting married?”
“The child is deaf. Jimin, you know ASL. I read your file.” Chris finally moved away from the board and took his own seat.
Chris must have seen the dubious look on his face because he then explained, “We have to be smart with how we approach this man. The goal is to get inside information. Not as a regular low-lying cult member, we already have our inside man for that. You need to get through to him on a more personal level. You need to be in his house. You need to be able to extract information from his very pocket. You get me?”
“And my route is through his child?”
As he sat there ruminating, he realised it wasn’t a bad plan. In fact, it was rather good. Getting into direct contact with Anderson would be too much of a risk. That man was probably paranoid as fuck. They would have to work their way in slowly, and what better way to start, than to befriend his family first. “Hmm, yes, I see your point.”
“Good man,” Chris said, his shoulders relaxing. Chris must have thought he would be averse to the idea. He took in the pictures tacked on the board once more, especially of the house. It looked to be in a housing estate, as houses in the suburbs tended to be. There were two photos that were put up on opposite ends but when combined, showed the Anderson house, and a half shot of the neighbour’s house- and the signboard SOLD.
Jimin huffed an amused breath.
“You sly dog. You went ahead and bought it didn’t you.”
“Guilty as charged.” Chris’s tone was mocking and he didn’t look the slightest bit sorry.
The four of them- him, Jungkook, Kareena and Hanna were all nearly the same age, give or take. Chris was a fair bit older than them. Jimin suspected he was in his mid forties, though he couldn’t be sure. They only knew the bare basics about each other. It was extremely rare for spies with different allegiances to work on the same team. Naturally, there were lots of precautions taken- he didn’t even know their full names, except Chris’, but even that was likely a moniker.
“What do you mean?” Jungkook asked. He looked to Jimin and then Chris, and back again.
Jimin wriggled in his seat, reluctantly answering Jungkook. “Chris bought me a wedding gift, apparently.”
“I like this idea,” Hanna said. “I’m imagining them inviting you in for tea while you snoop around their home. Very James Bond.”
Jungkook stifled a laugh. “Jimin as James Bond, I’d like to see that.”
Jimin glared at him.
Day 51 10.43 am
Conversation : Off tangent
Animosity towards Jungkook : Prevailing
Chosen spouse : Kareena
“I think we would work well together. What do you say, Kareena?”
He pushed aside all distractions to focus instead on the matter at hand. Chris said he could choose his own partner and frankly out of all of them, he liked Kareena the most. She was amiable, which was more than he could say for Hanna’s dog hating self and Jungkook’s suffocating presence.
“I’m down for it! This is quite exciting, getting married without my parents’ permission.” Her long earrings dangled and bounced, catching rays of sunlight and casting spotted shadows across the room. Her enthusiasm was infectious and Jimin found himself smiling back at her. She was really quite a beauty too, a different kind from Hanna who was just as pretty. But Kareena had something in her that drew Jimin close, like he wanted to be her friend and he wanted her to be his.
“That’s settled then.” Chris was taking notes and it looked jam packed. He even managed to scrawl in between the lines. “We need to get things ready for you. Marriage certificate, just in case, we’ll forge one, don’t worry Kareena- you won’t actually be marrying behind your parents’ back, and there are logistics that need taking care of. While Jimin and Kareena stay at the bungalow, there needs to be a safe house just in case things go south,” he announced to the room at large. “We also need to scope out the new town, figure out a story for the both of you,” he pointed to Jimin and Kareena.
“What’s this town called again?” Kareena asked. “Blue-something?”
“Bluefield,” Chris replied, glancing at the corkboard with all their photos.
“Bluefield,” Kareena said slowly, rolling the word over her tongue, “What an interesting name for a town.”
Just then, Jungkook raised his hand, a dour look on his face as if he’d come to a very reluctant conclusion. And he was staring right at Jimin- heated and somewhat murderous. Any moment now, he expected Jungkook to lunge over and stab him. “I think I should marry Jimin.”
There was a short moment of silence before everyone was speaking over each other. Jimin could hardly hear them over the ringing in his ears.
“-Is that allowed in this state-”
“-Jungkook, maybe it’s not Jimin you want to marry-”
“No, absolutely not.” He frowned at Jungkook, incredulous and utterly appalled. They couldn’t last in the same room at work, much less in the same house 24/7. “Have you gone mad? We’re not getting married.”
“Why not?” Jungkook’s tone was challenging. It was absurd. Where was the challenge? What was there to challenge?
“I-“ Jimin paused, gripping the sides of his chair. He couldn’t really say I don’t like you. It sounded extremely childish. But that was the truth of the matter. He didn’t like Jungkook. In fact, dare he say, he despised him. “We don’t know much about each other.” It sounded as pathetic an excuse out loud as it did in his head. “And I chose Kareena. It’s done. There’s nothing more to discuss.”
“No offense to Kareena, but she’s no combat specialist. And neither are you. If push comes to shove, I need to be there.”
Jimin spluttered. “To do what? What on earth are you saying? I can look after myself, thank you very much.” He turned to Chris to point out the fallacies in Jungkook’s argument. But Chris was looking thoughtful, like he was seriously considering Jungkook’s offer.
“I’ll have you know I have a black belt in taekwondo. I’m not as helpless as you think. Jungkook, it won’t work. We don’t- we-” Jimin stammered.
“We don’t what, Jimin?” Jungkook asked, voice icy and staring daggers at him. Everyone else was quiet and watching them intently.
Jimin felt like he was cornered. “We’re two men. And this is a cult- a neo-”
“Are you saying you’re homophobic?”
“What? No! I only meant-”
“You can’t just waltz into the neighbourhood, cosying up to the family with no warrant for suspicion. It’s in the same line as approaching his child-”
Same line? Perpendicular line, he might have meant.
“-If we go in as a gay couple, it’s obvious that we’re not there to bait him. It’s like calling bluff, then double bluff.”
“That’s too risky, Jungkook, it’s just not feasible. It's downright stupid.”
“And I’m quarter German myself, it would be an advantage.” Jungkook shrugged. But Jimin could see the calculated look in his eyes. That was his trump card.
“You’re buying your way in through your grandfather?”
“German, you say?” Chris interjected from the corner.
Jungkook’s lips twitched into a semblance of a smile. “Grandmother, actually.”
“Well can you speak German? Because there’s no point-”
“Ja, ich kann Deutsch.” Jungkook answered smugly. And Jimin was the idiot who fell right into that trap. He stole a glance at Chris, who looked pleasantly surprised, if that was even possible. He thought Chris had read their files.
Resigned and annoyed, Jimin leaned back, his chair scraping loudly against the floor, and stood up. “Fine. Alright, fine then. You win.”
He rarely ever showed emotion. And it irritated him that Jungkook managed to get under his skin. He hated that his team members had seen that side of him. It made him want to run away- for lowering his inhibitions and unintentionally exposing himself. He swallowed down his temper, squeezing it into a cage. “Excuse me, I- need a smoke.”
He left his stationery on the table and walked to the arched entrance. There was no door to their office, just a hole in the wall leading to the stairs. Right before stepping out, he heard Kareena ask, “Am I a divorcee now?” And he felt bad. He liked Kareena, he really did. Jungkook on the other hand, could go and get hit by a truck.
Day 52 8.40 am
Excuses : Exhausted
Situation : Accepted
Feeling : Bitter- like the black roasted beans of Robusta coffee
Jimin stood waiting at a gas station some distance away from his rented flat. He didn’t want Jungkook knowing where he stayed, even if it was temporary.
Chris said it would be better if they could come up with their own story- something about it being more believable and unique if they had their hand in weaving it.
Utter bullshit, it was. But he wasn’t about to contest. It was awkward enough that he was so reluctant in partnering up with Jungkook. He didn’t want to drag gossip into it as well.
He glanced at his watch, a no name brand that was probably going to snap if he got into a tussle. 8:42 it said, the minute hand inching slowly towards 43.
Jungkook was late. And not just late, but extremely so, nearly 13 minutes to be exact.
Jimin felt for his phone in his back pocket. The thought was there- to call Jungkook and yell at him, but somehow it felt like that was precisely what Jungkook wanted. Jimin held off on the temptation and glanced around the vicinity. People were walking, cars were honking, shops were filled. The area was bustling. Jimin spotted a little cafe that had just opened its doors and strode towards it.
If Jungkook wanted to play games, then he was welcome to do so by himself. Jimin felt he could do with a cup of Chamomile.
Day 52 9.09 am
Location : Bookstore down the street
Book : Harlequin romance- his favourite
Jungkook : Like a bull and ready to charge
Jungkook was breathing heavily.
Jimin didn’t look up. He knew Jungkook had been standing there for the last four minutes raging and blustering. He occasionally shuffled in place, the floorboards creaking under his weight, and clicked his tongue, like he was trying to get Jimin’s attention. But Jimin was determined not to give in.
He only had to wait a second longer.
“Well? Don’t you have something to say?”
Jimin put his book down and finally looked up.
The bookstore he’d found was perfect. It was second hand and the smell of old books permeated the air like a glorious promise of safety and warmth. There was no one else in it, except for the elderly woman at the counter wrapping books in a brown Kraft paper. There were also benches and stools scattered around the store, tucked into corners to make the perfect reading nooks. On any other day, Jimin would have loved to explore it.
The moment he took on this case and relocated for convenience sake, he’d gone straight to work, and straight home right after. That was the routine he’d built here. This was the first time he’d actually gone out of his apartment to mosey around town.
He wished Jungkook would look around and see what a gem this bookstore was.
It was in Jimin's nature to be passive aggressive when he was cornered. So with a smile as gentle as he could manage, he said, “Not particularly. Why? Is there something you’d like to say?”
Jungkook pulled a stool out with a screech and lowered himself heavily onto it. There was only a small coffee table in between them, hardly more than a foot in diameter. And even though they were both sitting, Jungkook was towering above him. Jimin scooted back and cleared his throat, pursing his lips in apprehension.
Jungkook’s eyes were following his every move. Except for the very first time, Jimin had been careful to not be in Jungkook’s presence alone. He was so- so- threatening. Somehow. Like a predator. Or maybe Jimin brought out his caveman qualities since Jungkook was only brutish and snappish towards him. When he wasn’t watching him like a hawk, that is.
“What?” Jimin whisper yelled, rubbing at the corner of his lips. “Do I have something here?”
Jungkook snapped to attention, shaking his head. Then he scowled at Jimin. “I thought we agreed on that gas station.”
“We did. And you didn’t arrive on time, as per our aforementioned agreement. Don’t hold me accountable for your lack of punctuality Jungkook. It’s entirely unbecoming.”
If possible, Jungkook scowled even harder. “Stop doing that!”
“What?” Jimin asked, completely bewildered.
“The whole hoity-toity spiel. Entirely unbecoming. Fuck that! You think you’re so much better than me, isn’t that right? Always looking down on me and brushing me off. You’re acting like a spoiled child!”
“How dare you-”
“What? Am I wrong? You weren’t scraping the barrel for excuses then? Admit it. You were willing to put the operation at stake based on how you feel about me.”
Jimin laughed bitterly. Jungkook was getting it all wrong. “It’s for the sake of the mission, you idiot. Yes, I factored in how I felt and you fell short. That’s all there is Jungkook. You just upped the chances of us actually bombing this whole thing.”
“I meant what I said when I suggested the marriage. There’s no one on this team who’s more knowledgeable than I am in close and hand to hand combat. Trust me, we’re going to need it. And you and Kareena are much too alike. You’d both come up with the same plans and not entertain the thought of other possibilities. A good partnership needs a push and pull. Something with variety and dynamic. You and I, we would make a better pair. It’s logical, it’s science.”
“No it’s not!” Jimin stood up abruptly, breathing in and out, five counts on each.
Jungkook snapped his head to his left and right, scouring the store. “Lower your voice, you’re creating a scene.”
Him? A scene? Jungkook was- impossible. “Damn you. Damn you Jungkook. You’re just trying to pull one over me. You talk about how I’m putting myself on top of you? Well guess what asshole. You fucking asked for it. How about this for creating a scene?!”
Jimin threw himself over the table and punched Jungkook across his jaw. He felt a stab of blinding pain reverberating up his arm but the look of shock horror on Jungkook’s face was rewarding enough.
Day 52 9.15 am
Guilt : Pea-sized
Guilt : Slightly larger than a pea
Guilt : Ngh
Jungkook held a bag of frozen vegetables to the side of his face. He wasn’t moving much, just staring absently at the incoming traffic. Jimin hoped he didn’t have a concussion. He hadn’t exactly pulled his punch, but surely Jungkook could take a hit.
They were now sitting on the curb, looking like a couple of delinquents. He looked decent, at least. Jungkook would have probably fit in.
At the bookstore during their scuffle, they’d toppled over and Jungkook’s tee had gotten caught on the edge of the floorboard. It now had a massive rip down the centre to show for their argument. His hair was tousled, in complete disarray. But it was his physique that had Jimin- and possibly the random pedestrians casting him anxious glances- feeling unsettled. Jungkook was just so fit, muscles bulging on every possible body surface that it made him look ridiculously intimidating.
Punching Jungkook had felt great. Liberating. He felt as free as a bird. Right after, Jimin had cursed himself for yet another uncontrolled outburst.
A car whizzed by and Jimin was blasted with a plume of toxic fumes. He nearly hacked out a lung in a coughing fit but Jungkook was unperturbed. He hadn’t moved since they’d sat down. Over by the 7-11 where Jimin had sweet talked the shop assistant into lending them the frozen bag, he saw her pressed up against the glass door watching them. It was a little weird but she was probably hoping they wouldn’t make a run with unpaid merchandise.
Jimin cleared his throat. “So...” He clasped his hands over his lap, hoping Jungkook wasn’t about to pummel him for trying to mend their very broken marriage. “We met at a bookstore and you were swept off your feet?”
Jungkook turned away mulishly.
Day 52 10.15 am
Chris : In the middle of a rant
Hanna : Giving him the stink eye
Kareena : Missing
Jimin slumped further into his seat. He hated being reprimanded. It was embarrassing.
The thing was, Jimin knew he was at fault. The tongue lashing Chris gave them was warranted. But he just had to take one look at Jungkook’s insouciant posture and the irritating bounce of his right leg for his ire to reignite. He was always giving in to Jungkook.
When Jungkook made rude remarks, Jimin withdrew. When Jungkook was invading his space, Jimin stepped aside. When Jungkook made a 180 turn, and started behaving frostily, Jimin held his tongue. When Jungkook pushed for their marriage, he agreed to it. And now when Chris was cross with the both of them, Jimin was the one who had to say, “I'm sorry. We'll watch ourselves from now onwards,” with his head down and tone contrite.
Chris snorted. Maybe he knew Jimin had forced those words out without meaning to heed them. Maybe he had too much on his plate to give them any more than a stern warning. Regardless, he stared them down, Jimin holding his gaze with what he hoped was calm assurance, then lifted his chin to dismiss them.
Jimin made a beeline for the rooftop. He hardly ever went up there, the building was old and uncared for. It stank like a landfill- unsheltered and full of pigeon shit. But there was a little corner where the awning jutted out and made for a compact space and the perfect spot for a smoke while contemplating life’s harsh tribulations.
When he took in his first inhale, he felt his nerves die down a little. Jungkook’s presence clouded his judgement to the point he felt like just yelling out into the open- a big fuck me and fuck you and fuck everyone. But he couldn’t do that, not without getting the axe or getting himself killed, whichever came first. So instead, he leaned back against the grimy wall- his head hitting it with a dull thud- and said in the smallest voice, enunciating each word slowly and carefully, trying to redirect all his anger into those four words.
“Fuck. Fuc-king. Fuc-ke-ty. Fuck.”
Jimin nearly stabbed himself with his cigarette as he whirled around only to be greeted by Kareena’s sheepish smile.
He groaned and slouched heavily against the wall, throwing his cigarette to the ground and stubbing it with his shoe. He would have to pick it up later to properly dispose of it but for now, he felt spent, and completely unable to bend down.
“Shit, yeah,” Jimin said.
He glanced over and saw her making her way to him. It was a bit of a game to dodge the droppings, a quick-step twist and turn that resembled a badly choreographed Jive. Kareena was focused on her feet, her long mass of curls tumbling over her shoulders and almost obstructing her vision.
For some reason, Jimin choked out a laugh. And kept laughing and laughing, until he started having conniptions and had to hold on to his sides. Kareena fumbled and flailed, trying to recover her balance while still evading the droppings. She was tipping over when Jimin finally regained his senses and hauled her to him.
He was still laughing, and so was she when the door to the rooftop burst open and Jungkook was filling the doorway with a magnificent withering glare. He looked poised to attack.
Jimin faltered, caught in Jungkook’s gaze and held his breath as time seemed to stop.
After a while, Jungkook’s eyes swept over him- over Kareena and his hands still holding her close- and snapped, “Get back to work. Now’s not the time to fool around.” Then he slammed the door shut.
Jimin felt his jaw dropping. Turning to Kareena, he asked, “It’s not just me right? He’s really fucking mean, isn’t he?”
Kareena was looking at the door in deep thought, a soft “Hmm,” the only thing she said in reply. “Feeling better?” she asked after a pause.
“Not after that, no. Jungkook is the devil incarnate, I’m telling you. Why can’t we be the married couple?”
“It works better Jungkook’s way I guess. Even I can see his point. You do see his point, right?”
Jimin shrugged. It felt like Jungkook was twisting the entire situation to suit his purpose. The ‘logical’ reasons were threadbare excuses to Jimin’s ears. Jungkook was out to get him, that was for sure- he was going to sacrifice him to the cult, forsake him in some way.
He shook his head. “Come on, let’s just go. Don’t want to keep His Highness waiting on my sorry backside.”
Kareena giggled. “Oh Jimin, it’s not so bad. You can always come to me, you know? If you need someone to talk to, I mean. You and Jungkook may be on the inside, but we’re still a team, all of us.”
Jimin smiled gently at her. “You’re a real chum, Kareena. Thank you.”
He picked up his cigarette and followed after her. Kareena was right, it wasn’t so bad. Work was work. He just had to tell himself that whenever Jungkook threw a tantrum. He had an inkling those were just empty aspirations though.
Day 52 11.46 pm
Sky : Dark
Sleep : Creeping
Notes : Flourishing
Back : Aching
It was just the two of them in the office- him and Jungkook. Everyone else had left just before eleven.
Jungkook was knocked out on his desk, head resting in his arms. That had been close to twenty minutes ago, and Jungkook was still sleeping soundly. Jimin’s first thought was to shake him awake- get him to work on their story; but the red of Jungkook’s jaw was starting to darken into a fire-brick shade and it stood out like a blaring siren.
He wished he could just ignore it, but he couldn’t, not without feeling a smidgen of guilt, and so he went back to his work. Soon enough, Jimin had three full pages in front of him. He had come up with a list of characteristics to embody, a thorough family history, career options, and another two page document of how they should furnish their home. He’d written so much his hand was cramping.
With his work now done, Jimin stood up and strode to Jungkook’s desk, the heels of his leather loafers echoing against the cement floor. He was curious to see what Jungkook had written down. As a token of good faith, he decided to incorporate Jungkook’s ideas into his write up, no matter how silly or ‘logical’ they were.
Jungkook’s desk was a disaster zone in itself. There were all sorts of things strewn across it, bits and bobs hidden beneath other larger clutter. The colour-coding organiser within him wanted to rearrange Jungkook’s papers and files, get him some bookends to keep his books aligned and gather the candy wrappers littered all over the table surface to throw into a bin.
Just as he was about to pick up the odd pen sticking out in the corner, Jungkook groaned softly and Jimin was redirected from his preoccupation.
Jungkook’s hair was fanned out over his forearm in clumps. Jimin took a step forward, leaning against Jungkook’s desk to get a better look at his face. Asleep and dead to the world, Jungkook looked serene. His lower lip jutted out slightly and Jimin caught a glimpse of his overbite. Not having to see or hear Jungkook throw his weight around, Jimin could admit, Jungkook didn’t look all too bad. Silence improved his character.
He air traced the shape of Jungkook’s blossoming bruise. In his cover story, he’d written that Jungkook had an argument with his parents over their marriage. Things had escalated to the point they finally decided to move out- and that’s how they would find their way to Bluefield- a small Podunk town where hopefully, none of Jungkook’s family members could find them.
Earlier in the evening, Chris had appointed Hanna to keep vigil over him and Jungkook- which in his humble opinion, was a bit of an overkill. He’d had his moment. Unless Chris was worried Jungkook would attack him- in which case, Jimin appreciated the kind gesture.
It made no difference to him, whether Hanna was watching them or not. He kept busy with his own work. At some point though, he’d headed into the pantry to fix himself a drink and almost walked in on Jungkook and Hanna sharing a private moment. He’d seen Hanna cradling Jungkook’s jaw- her crimson nails almost blending into Jungkook’s bruise.
They were whispering, half hidden behind the shelves. It prickled him. Jungkook had snapped at him to get on with work yet he himself was having a secret rendezvous in the pantry of all places. He wanted to remind Jungkook of their unfinished assignment. But he didn’t really want to draw attention to himself, and he had no intentions of eavesdropping so he took his leave immediately.
Now Jungkook’s bruise was darker than red, verging on maroon. It looked painful, and Jimin could only sigh. His exhale ruffled a few strands of Jungkook’s hair and Jungkook jerked in his sleep. Jimin backed away and held his breath, hoping not to wake Jungkook up. He didn’t know why he felt so nervous, it wasn’t as if he was about to commit a crime. And even if he was, he’d done much worse in his line of work.
There was a notepad by Jungkook’s head, and a Pilot ballpoint left on it. Jimin pushed the pen aside and picked up the notepad before hurrying back to his own desk. Within the safety of his space, he flipped through the pages, expecting to find something- ideas, or at least a semblance of one. Instead, he was met with blank page after blank page. Confused, he went back to the first sheet on which Jungkook had jotted down one thing and one thing only-
He had terrible handwriting- illegible chicken scratch that had Jimin spending more than a few seconds on each letter trying to parse them out. And when he finally did, he had to hold himself from marching to Jungkook’s desk and slamming the book down.
There was so much animosity and suspicion in those two words. Did Jungkook not trust him? Granted, he didn’t really trust Jungkook either, but he understood what it meant to have a partner, and watching them was certainly not it. That memo must have flown over Jungkook’s head.
He tiptoed to Jungkook’s desk and laid everything back the way he’d found them. Glancing at Jungkook’s relaxed form, he wondered what was going through that head of his.
Day 55 11.20 am
Name : Jeon Jimin née Park
Why : Because he had shitty luck and couldn't even win a coin toss
He was sweating bullets underneath his cashmere sweater. The weather forecast had read fourteen degrees but with the sun out, it felt like twenty at least. The heavy lifting didn’t make it any better.
And it was all Jungkook’s fault. Well, partly his own, but mostly Jungkook’s. He’d insisted they move in by themselves. It was- insane. They had two full lorries to unload. No matter what Jimin said, Jungkook held firm. Only after some grilling, and a disgruntled exchange did he find out that Jungkook was self-conscious of his black and blue jaw- which was ironic, considering it was a Monday.
Jimin snickered to himself. Monday blues.
“What’s so funny?”
Jimin raised a hand to his heart. Jungkook was standing right behind him, carrying the lampshade he’d picked out for their living room.
As it turned out, Jungkook was rubbish at interior decorating. Everything he’d selected was more suited for a bachelor’s pad, rather than the warm and bright tones that celebrated a pair of newlyweds.
Jimin had vehemently disagreed to all of Jungkook’s choices and replaced them with his own. Jungkook had surprisingly acquiesced- and with little fanfare, but Jimin took his graciousness with a grain of salt. Jungkook was watching him, for some reason and it would do him good to remember that.
In fact, it had been on his mind for the past few days. Either Jungkook had a personal vendetta against him, or he was acting under orders. Both circumstances left a bad taste in Jimin’s mouth.
“Nothing,” Jimin answered quickly and sped to the kitchen. His arms ached with the box of crockery he was holding on to. His mother would have been pleased with his choice of china. They had that in common, Jimin and his mother- their obsession over kitchen utensils and tableware. There was something about a well equipped and aesthetically pleasing kitchen that put the sweet in ‘home sweet home’.
Even if their marriage was a sham, he was adamant about the kitchen being their pride and joy.
“It’s not nothing.”
The lampshade was left somewhere and Jungkook was once again, trailing after him.
“It really is nothing,” Jimin grunted, trying to lift the box carefully onto the countertop so as to not scratch it.
“No, it’s not,” Jungkook snapped. He tore the box from away from Jimin’s grasp and plopped it onto the counter like it wasn’t back-breaking heavy.
Jimin turned to face Jungkook, shoulders straightening when he realised they were standing closer than he’d expected. Jungkook was studying him with those dark eyes again. It made him feel naked, like he was being exposed. He didn’t really feel like having a conversation with Jungkook, not until he had come up with a game plan of his own. Their priority was the case, but Jimin needed to cover his bases too. Alas, it wasn’t like Jungkook to stop when Jimin wanted him to.
“What do you want to say? Just spit it out, good god.”
It was hypocritical of him to say so, he knew. He was the worst when it came to arguments. If ignoring his problems didn’t work, then he’d beat around the bush until he lost track of them.
“You know what I mean.”
“No, I don’t. Are you going to tell me or are we going to stand here talking in circles?”
Jungkook stepped closer. Jimin inched backwards. Which didn’t do a thing, he was already backed up against the island.
“What was so funny?” Jungkook asked gruffly.
Jimin exhaled. He was half pissed off and half confused. “It was just a passing thought. Are you really holding that against me?”
“You’ve been avoiding me.”
“Um, no?” Jimin paused. “I haven’t.” It was a lie. He really had been avoiding Jungkook.
“Yes, you have,” Jungkook insisted, caging him in. If he was trying to intimidate Jimin, he was doing a piss poor job at it. Jimin had taken down men twice the size of Jungkook in nothing more than five seconds flat.
“Okay, so maybe I have. In case you haven’t noticed, Jungkook, we argue a lot. And the secret to a happy couple is the lack thereof. I’ve given you premise one and premise two. You can come to the conclusion by yourself. Now, if you’ll excuse me, we still have another-”
He felt smothered. Maybe it was a fever dream. Maybe that cup of Earl Grey he drank early this morning had hallucinogens imbued into the teabags.
He pinched his wrist.
No, Jungkook really was kissing him. Well not so much kissing as a slight pressing of lips.
Jimin stomped hard on Jungkook’s foot.
“You bastard!” Jimin shrieked. “What do you think you’re doing?”
Jungkook frowned at him, like he couldn’t understand why Jimin was being so defiant. “My job...? What, we’re married and we can’t even kiss? That’ll blow our cover before you can even spell out secret mission.”
Jimin pushed Jungkook back by his shoulders. “Yes, but no one’s watching. We don’t have to kiss if no one’s watching!”
Jungkook’s lips curled up- not quite a smirk but something equally mocking. “The secret to a happy couple, Jimin,” Jungkook replied while walking backwards and out of the kitchen, “-is affection. How about you pull up your big boy panties and embrace your role?”
He hated it when Jungkook spoke to him like that, when he made sly innuendoes.
Jimin stormed into the foyer, riled up and raring to give Jungkook a piece of his mind. He was by the chaise lounge, removing cling wrap from the upholstery. Seeing him doing something as supremely mundane as tearing off plastic was infuriating.
Jungkook had just kissed him.
Their lips had touched.
Jimin was tainted. And Jungkook was acting as if nothing had happened.
He hauled Jungkook up by the back of his dress shirt. A button might have popped, perhaps two. Jungkook twisted just in time for Jimin to push on his chest. “Stop- smack- fucking- smack- taunting- smack- me-”
Jungkook caught his hands just before he managed to land another hit. He was clenching his jaw so hard the bruised part of his face stuck out like a sore thumb.
Jungkook flipped them around and pressed into him. Jimin’s back was nearly bent in half as he tipped over. He couldn’t hold his own weight, much less Jungkook’s, and they crashed onto the chair, limbs entangled and cheeks knocking. Jimin wheezed in distress. Jungkook was built like a tank, and weighed just as much as about a dozen of them.
He laid back, breathless then pinched at Jungkook. “Get off me, asshole!”
If anything, Jungkook slumped into him even more.
He was about to complain when the doorbell rang.
Their front door was made out of solid oak but there were stained glass windows on either side. They didn’t offer much on the visibility front, installed probably for design rather than security purposes. But Jimin could see a figure trying to peek through the windows.
He turned to Jungkook after a moment of stunned silence. “Get the door!” he whispered frantically.
Jungkook was staring back at him wide eyed. He looked like he wanted to tell Jimin to get the door instead. Jimin didn’t think, he just reacted instinctively and kneed Jungkook.
Day 55 1.13 pm
Neighbour : Agnes, female, 70 something – deaf as a post but otherwise fit as a fiddle
Jimin recognised her the second he threw open the door. He’d studied the profiles of all his new neighbours. What the background checks didn’t reveal was how persistent she would be. She’d gone from regaling them with her decades old romantic affairs- scandalously involving the gardener, of all people- to venting about her daughter-in-law who refused to move into this backwater town.
He tried channeling his mother when she had to deal with pesky company- oohing and ahhing wherever appropriate, along with the generic ‘oh really?’ thrown in between. Undeterred, Agnes went on and on and on. And on.
“-And I said to Angus, I said, son, you married a stubborn woman. She’s a right mule, she is. And she thinks too much of her own self. She won’t be coming here anytime soon, I said. But Angus married for love. He loves her so damn much he’d bend over backwards to please her. It’s a good thing, love, when it’s right. But they need to come here, I said. They won’t come I know. I said to Angus, I’d be on my deathbed when he finally sees the light. Lord, help that man.”
Next to him, Jungkook fidgeted.
Agnes leaned over the edge of the sofa and took a sip of water- they hadn’t unpacked yet and had only bottled water to offer. She drank a few gulps and put her bottle down. Then she took off her spectacles and wiped them with her shawl before replacing them over her eyes.
She appraised them.
Jimin didn’t know what she saw. He and Jungkook were so awkward it was bound to blow their cover. Their whole plan was a terrible mistake.
“Now, I suppose you married for love too.”
Jimin nodded. Truth be told, he didn’t believe in love, not the kind that Agnes meant anyway. There were different types of love in existence, he acknowledged that much. But romantic love was a fickle thing. An arbitrary concept made by men to sustain their indulgences in capricious matters.
“Don’t look at me all nervous like. I’m a progressive woman, see. I go to church and it’s a good church. Jesus loves all His creations, and so will I. See if anyone here gives you a hard time, you come to me now. Old Agnes still has it. I was a boxer back in those days. Hard to imagine, I know, but I’ll right them in a jiffy. What’s happened to your jaw there young man?”
Jimin glanced towards Jungkook, who looked back at him with his eyebrows raised. Jimin narrowed his eyes at him. Jungkook was toying with him again. He wished Jungkook would just stop with his silly games.
“Got into a fight with some drunkards. It’s nothing, really,” Jungkook finally answered. He laid his hand on Jimin’s thigh, fingers flexing. “We just needed a break from the city life, that’s all. It’s lovely here, from what we’ve seen so far.”
“What did you say, son?”
“Just a squabble,” Jungkook said slowly. “It’s nice here.
“Oh yes, a nice little town. See I’ve been trying to tell my Angus that for ages now. It’s just that Priscilla of his that won’t-”
Jimin wasn’t paying attention to Agnes anymore. They still had loads to do. They’d only emptied out one lorry and there were boxes stacked all over the house. It would be nightfall by the time they settled in at the rate they were going.
Jungkook’s hand twitched on his thigh, the heat of his palm melting through Jimin's worn jeans and down to his bones.
Jimin cleared his throat demurely. He couldn’t really look up at Jungkook. Was he aware? Was it really a game? Did he attain some sort of sick satisfaction in pushing all of Jimin’s buttons?
There was a rip in his jeans right where Jungkook laid his hand. His nails were blunt, but they felt so stark against Jimin’s naked skin. Jungkook ran two fingertips up and down the seam, sometimes pressing in, sometimes feather light. It had all of Jimin’s senses honing onto that repetitive motion.
The doorbell rang. Again.
Jimin jumped to his feet. “The door, um. Excuse me,” he muttered before rushing to the entrance.
He took a moment to calm himself. Calm was a strong word. Jimin didn’t exactly need to calm himself, he was just a little distracted. No, that too was a very specific word. He just needed to collect himself. Gather his bearings, clear his mind.
It wouldn’t do to harp on Jungkook every second of the day. They were supposed to be married for fuck’s sake. He had to rein it in. Jungkook was right, as much as it pained him to admit it. They needed to practise showing affection. A hand to the back, a peck on the cheek. These were things Jimin had to get used to.
He took a deep breath and opened the door.
Before him stood a woman with wavy hair tied back to the nape of her neck. There were some flyaway stands that framed her face. She had a strong jaw and a sharp nose. Her eyes were cerulean and piercing. The wrinkles gave her a touch of maternal warmth. She had on capris and a white linen blouse. She looked elegant, like the kind of woman who had the means to support a semi-luxurious lifestyle.
She was Susan Anderson, Jan Anderson’s wife.
“Hello,” Jimin greeted her, a welcoming smile on his face.
“Why hello there,” she replied. She held out her arm and Jimin shook her hand.
“I’m Susan, I live just over there,” she pointed to the house on their left. Jimin knew this already, but he turned to see where she pointed and gave himself a few seconds of casual observance.
“Oh, that makes you our neighbour! That’s a lovely home you have there.”
“Thank you. You’ve snatched yourself a great house too! This is rather exciting for me, I hope you’ll excuse my enthusiasm. We’ve bought the corner lot, you see and we don’t really have any neighbours our age. It’s mostly folks who’ve retired who live here, you’ll get to know them soon enough. So I really just wanted to come over and introduce myself. I heard the commotion, earlier in the day. I assumed you’d just moved in.”
“I’m really grateful. We don’t really know anyone here. We’ve sort of uprooted our lives with this big move. We just needed a break from the city, Jungkook and I. I’m Jimin by the way, Jeon Jimin.”
“Nice to meet you Jimin! And Jungkook, he’s your...-”
“Husband. We got married just a week ago.” Jimin chuckled.
He saw the shadow of doubt that crossed her face the second he said husband, though she recovered quickly. “That’s wonderful. Congratulations are in order.”
“Thank you Susan. Would you like to come in for a moment? I’m afraid it’s still a little messy inside but I can get you some refreshment if you’d like.”
“Oh no. No, that’s quite alright. I just came to say hello, a quick drop-by, that’s all.”
“Who’s at the door Jimin?”
There was something in the way that Jungkook spoke that compelled attentiveness. Though he kept his voice down, it carried across the distance. In contrast to his personality, Jungkook’s tone was calm and commanding. It almost made Jimin want to straighten his shoulders and dip his head.
Instead, he fed some warmth into his tone. “This is Susan, she’s our new neighbour.”
He could feel Jungkook’s presence behind him, all the more when Jungkook draped an arm over his side, hand curving around the dip of his waist and hugging him close.
Susan looked surprised. Had they overdone it? Was that not how couples interacted? He wasn’t very sure himself. He only knew that Jungkook was all over him and he was beginning to feel uncomfortable. Jimin leaned forward, giving them a bit of space so that they weren’t fully touching.
“You must be Jungkook,” Susan said, blush tinting her cheeks pink.
“Pleased to meet you Susan,” Jungkook answered, velvety smooth.
Susan gave him a stilted nod. “Well, I’ve really got to go now. But it’s been a pleasure. The neighbourhood does these get-togethers every fortnight, and the next one is the day after tomorrow. You’re in luck, you can meet everyone in one go- well, everyone as in those who attend, of course.”
“That’s wonderful,” Jimin said, “-isn’t that wonderful, Jungkook?”
Jungkook hummed, brushing his lips against Jimin’s temple. Which was terribly unnecessary. He was certain they looked married enough. Surely couples didn’t need to kiss all the time.
“We meet at the park just down the street around six. It’s a potluck but since you’re new, I’m sure no one would hold it against you if you don’t bring a thing. And my husband might be home by then. My husband is often on business trips, he’s a busy man you see.”
“We look forward to it,” Jungkook said.
There was a moment of silence in which Jimin was looking at Susan, and Susan was definitely looking at Jungkook. He didn’t know where Jungkook’s attention was.
“Well, I’ll see you then. Goodbye!”
“Thank you for dropping by!” Jimin waved after her. He watched her walk down their driveway and into her own property.
When she was out of sight, he shut the door and pushed Jungkook’s arm down. He understood that they had obligations. But it was hard to accept the change in their relationship. He was used to having ill feelings towards Jungkook, and to suddenly allow him to encroach his space was unsettling. He could talk himself into it- the kissing and the hugging and the touching, but it was easier said than done.
While he debated, Jungkook was leaning against the doorframe with his hands crossed over his chest. It made his biceps look twice as large.
Jimin sagged against the wall. “What now?” he asked Jungkook.
“Now we gain her trust.”
“As simple as that?”
“As simple as that.”
“You didn’t see her face when I called you my husband.”
“Did you now?”
Jimin groaned. “Focus, Jungkook.”
“You’re thinking too much Jimin. You’re going to overcomplicate it. Right now we’ve put ourselves on her radar. Trust me, the cards will fall into place.”
They were interrupted by a muted crash. Jimin startled and nearly fell but Jungkook managed to steady him by his elbow.
Dear god, he’d forgotten about Agnes.
“I hope our guest hasn’t broken any of your precious dinnerware.” Jungkook said as he pulled Jimin along. “Come husband, we’re being terrible hosts. I don’t think she was done complaining about Priscilla.”
Jimin rolled his eyes.
Jungkook was such an asshole.
Day 55 7.47 pm
House : Habitable
Agnes : Absent
Team : Teleconferencing
“Good work, boys.”
There was hardly much work done but Jimin accepted the compliment gratefully. It had been a really long day, and he was bone tired.
They’d spent a good five hours working non-stop arranging the furniture and organising their possessions- most of them brand new, with a handful of personal mementos interspaced to actually make the place their own.
They were now lounging in the office room, watching the computer screen. The monitor was currently filled with three faces, all of whom Jimin had unknowingly begun to miss, after having only interacted with Jungkook for the past 48 hours.
The room itself was connected to the living area by panelled French doors- now agape and carrying in a light breeze from their open air indoor garden. It was also affixed with yellow lights that Jungkook had left dimmed. It was such a comfortable and relaxing space that Jimin slouched further into his seat while Chris’ chatter morphed into background noise.
Jungkook was speaking, then one of the ladies- he wasn’t really sure who. He wasn’t even sure if his eyes were open or if anyone was talking to him. He was drifting in and out, aware that a conversation was being held but completely out of touch with it. He heard his name being mentioned a few times, and possibly Jungkook explaining something about him.
He must have dozed off, because he had no recollection of what happened until he felt himself being jostled. He woke up with a start and realised that the computer was turned off and Jungkook was hovering above him.
“What- what happened?”
“Meeting is over for tonight. I can fill you in tomorrow.”
Jungkook had one hand over the head rest of Jimin’s chair, and the other tucked into the pocket of his trousers. He moved away when Jimin stood up to stretch, the hem of his shirt rising and exposing his midriff. It was cooler than earlier in the evening. He’d lost his sweater sometime during the day, but he wished he had it now.
“No, no. Let’s get it done today. I just need a shower.”
When he looked up, Jungkook’s gaze was focused elsewhere. His pupils were dilated to the point his eyes looked inky black. Concerned, Jimin turned around and wondered what had caught Jungkook’s attention. Nothing stuck out but on his second scan, he noticed that the tea mug he’d brought in earlier was left on the storage cabinet.
He suppressed a sigh. If Jungkook was going to nag him about where he kept his mugs he was going to riot. He leaned over and grabbed it, raising it in cheers before striding out of the room.
Just before he took the stairs, he realised that they’d both left their clothes and toiletries in the master bedroom. It made sense for a married couple to share a room, but Jimin was absolutely not going to get into bed with Jungkook. He turned back to Jungkook and hesitated, unsure how to pose his question.
“What?” Jungkook asked brusquely.
Jimin felt a pinch of irritation at his tone. Jungkook was a swinging pendulum when it came to his emotions. He was either about to murder Jimin in a fit of rage or he was doing dumb things to get a reaction out of him. Both riled Jimin to madness. It would be a miracle if he came out of this whole stint with a sane mind.
“Nothing,” Jimin said, reluctant to drag it on. “I’m taking one of the guestrooms.”
He didn’t wait for Jungkook’s reaction and took the stairs in two’s all the way up.
Day 55 8.21 pm
Bathroom mirror : Foggy from the heat
Feet : In bunny slippers
Suitcase : Will unpack tomorrow
They reconvened in the dining room.
Jimin’s sleepwear consisted of an old t-shirt that had seen better days and a pair of batman pyjama bottoms. He was also wearing his glasses- which had Jungkook doing a double take when he spotted him.
They were big and chunky with plastic frames. There was a time when he was young and naive that he thought they were cool, and that was why he’d bought them. But now he could see them for what they truly were- a beastly ugly fashion faux pas.
He ran his hand through his hair self-consciously and took measured steps to the dining table. Jungkook was already sitting at the head of it. So Jimin took the seat to his right. He laid out all the documents he brought along- notes, plans, a book and pen.
He was still feeling miffed about Jungkook’s reaction earlier, so he didn’t really look at him when he said, “Alright, so run me through what Chris said just now.”
He waited and waited. And when Jungkook was still silent, Jimin finally glanced at him. “Well?”
Jungkook’s eyes roved over his face. Jimin felt a flush rising from his neck upwards. He really hated his glasses but he couldn’t wear contacts all day long, they dried his eyes. And the glasses he was using had been specially prescribed with very specific lenses.
“Jungkook, can we please,” Jimin implored.
Jungkook stared into his eyes and Jimin’s entire face grew warm. Jungkook was just so intense. Every time he looked at Jimin, Jimin felt like he was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Like everything was hanging in the balance.
“Yeah,” Jungkook finally answered, shaking his head. “I’ll be heading into the office tomorrow. Chris said to pick up the surveillance equipment. And he wanted to know how we’re going to get in touch with the son.”
Jimin wrote into his journal.
“-And Kareena was saying that Jan is in France again. We need to figure out how much Susan knows about her husband’s doings. How involved she is.”
“Hm, that’s a good point. I mean, she’s a society lady- involved in charities and NGO’s but it could all be a front. She had reservations about two men being married. Not exactly a ground-breaking revelation but we definitely need to look into it.”
“I’m also thinking we should go into town soon. We have to show our faces, get to know some of the locals. It would be weird if we just kept to ourselves.”
“Yes, I agree,” Jimin said, twiddling with his pen and swinging it over his fingers. “How about the potluck though? Are we really not bringing anything? Susan said it was okay, but I think we should. At least a dessert or something.”
Jungkook shrugged. “I don’t know. You decide.”
Unhelpful, but Jimin conceded. He’d made his mind already anyway. They could never go wrong with brownies.
“Are you really sleeping in the guestroom?” Jungkook asked suddenly.
Jimin tilted his head. “Yes? I mean, obviously we won’t be sleeping in the same room, that would be uncomfortable.”
Jungkook riffled through the pages surrounding Jimin. “Uncomfortable, yes,” he echoed softly and paused with his fiddling. “It would be very uncomfortable,” he said aloud and looked back at Jimin indignantly.
It was such an odd line of conversation, Jimin felt nonplussed. “Yes, I know. And don’t worry, I won’t turn the main lights on, so anyone looking at the house from the outside would see only the master bedroom lit up.”
“Good.” Jungkook said. “See that you don’t.”
Jimin rested his elbows on the table. “That's what I said, Jungkook. I’m not dumb.”
“I didn’t say that you were.”
“It was implied. You were instructing me on what I already meant to do. And while we’re having it out, can we talk about how you’re always being so pushy?”
“Pushy?! What the fuck?” Jungkook retorted, neck veins sticking out.
Jimin stood up and walked away from the table. He felt like he was talking to a brick wall. “Yes, you. You’re pushy. You’re always pushing me. That’s all you do. Push push push. Ever since the day we’ve met you’ve been pushing me. Earlier, with Agnes and then with Susan. You’re always so- so up in my face. And I’m constantly stuck in these situations where I have to give in to you. And frankly, it’s starting to get on my nerves. It’s like you’re set on antagonising me.”
He’d been walking around in circles, his hands waving here and there. He hadn’t realised how much frustration he’d been holding onto, not until he felt his chest heaving in and out. When he was done, he turned around to Jungkook who was up on his feet as well, looking at him furiously.
“That’s only because you’re so crap at it! You can’t even act to save your life. We’re supposed to be married. We’re playing husbands. But you’re such a fucking prude who can’t get his lips touched and can’t get his hand held. Who the hell do you think you are? Honest to god, get your shit together Park Jimin or I’ll get it for you, and won’t that make a pretty picture.”
Jungkook said his name with so much malice and loathing that Jimin felt he’d been slapped. He opened his mouth to retaliate but no words came out. He was angry and upset, and Jungkook was so quick to jump down his throat, like he always did.
Jimin sent him a scathing glare and swiped his things off the table. He heard the scrunch of paper crumpling and he couldn’t find it in himself to give a fuck, not when Jungkook was in the same room as him and contaminating the air with his foul presence.
“You’re on your own tomorrow,” he barked and stormed out of the room.
He was halfway up the stairs when he heard Jungkook yell back, “I was going to go alone anyway!”
Jimin scoffed. He might have been out of it earlier but he distinctly remembered Hanna saying ‘I miss you’ to Jungkook. No doubt he had a whole day planned out. And to be all up in Jimin’s case about spousal obligations and whatnot. What a fucking joke.
He made it to the guestroom and slammed the door shut. He walked in, then doubled back to lock the knob for good measure, just in case Jungkook were to hack him to bits in his sleep.
He felt so exhausted. He didn’t know how to go about this. Jungkook was so volatile. He embodied everything in a person that Jimin hated. He was so out of it that he reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, scrolling through his contacts until he landed on a very familiar name.
It was an unspoken rule to be discreet while working on cases. Unspoken because everyone knew and it didn’t have to be written on paper, obvious as it was- to keep outside interactions to a minimum, which was polite speak for no contact at all.
Jimin couldn’t help himself when he clicked on the call button. She was six hours ahead of him. But she always answered his calls whenever and wherever he made them; and he hoped this time wouldn’t be any different.
He dropped his documents onto a random box and stumbled against a few others trying to make his way in the dark- then promptly flopped onto bed and dug himself a little hollow.
“Mom,” he breathed out, when he heard the phone pick up on the other side.
“Hello my sweet, how are you?”
Jimin sighed in relief. She sounded wide awake and he felt slightly better about how much he was about to unload on her. She knew he worked as a spy, and she knew he got sent away on missions periodically. He didn’t tell her he was in Bluefield though, that was confidential information.
“I’m okay. I’ve been better. It’s just someone I’m working with. Oh mom, I really can’t stand him.”
Ever since his father passed away, his mother was all that Jimin had. She was his rock, and he knew he was hers. And over the years, she’d perfected that sympathetic motherly tone that had Jimin pouring out everything to her.
“He’s a right ass. He finagled his way into partnering up with me and he’s always throwing his weight left right and centre. I’m blindsided, most of the time. And he’s just so infuriating, mom. He talks out of his ass and people seem to think he makes sense? I don’t know.”
He heard some rustling on her end, before the line cracked and she said, “That sounds awful. How is he with your co-workers?”
Jimin sighed. It was upsetting him to admit this. “It’s just me he’s mean to. I wonder if there’s something about me that sets him off. Am I such a difficult person to get along with? He doesn’t pick on me outright but sometimes he says things, you know? Do you think I’m projecting?”
“What do you mean, honey?”
Jimin turned on his side, gathering a pillow in one arm, and keeping his other hand on his phone. “He just rubs me the wrong way. Am I acting on these feelings and showing them outwardly? To the point he’s reacting to my feelings? Does that make sense? I think I’m blabbering.”
“No, no. I get what you mean Jimin. You might be right, you could be bouncing off each other. Maybe-” She paused and Jimin waited while she gathered her thoughts. “Have you sat down to ask yourself why you hate him? Has he been abusive, Jimin? Physically or mentally? Has he been bullying you?”
“Oh, no! It’s not like that. At least, I don’t think that he is. He’s just- he’s just immature. And- childish, in a way. Except that he’s a man, and his tantrums are less of the screeching kind and more of the brooding type.”
“Jimin, my sweet, this has been on your mind for a long time, hasn’t it?”
“It has,” Jimin nodded into his pillow. A hug from his mum would right all his wrongs.
“Tell you what, you should write down what you’re comfortable with and what you aren’t. And share this list with that colleague of yours. He should make his own list too. And you could sit down and discuss it. Tell him- tell him that it would be beneficial to the both of you. And that maybe setting things in stone would smoothen out your work relationship.”
“Mom, that’s...that’s brilliant. How do you always know the right things to do?”
His mother laughed brightly and Jimin smiled along. “You forget I’m your mother. And you take after me in some ways. It’s difficult for us to build relationships. Sometimes- you want friends but when they get familiar with you, you suddenly want your own space back...” she trailed off. She was probably talking about herself but Jimin felt her words resonate within him. That was exactly how he felt most of the time.
Partnerships were hard for him- especially now with Jungkook, who just took up so much of his space and time and feelings.
Jimin yawned. “I honestly… felt that.”
“Is it late where you are my sweet?”
“Not really,” Jimin answered softly. “Just been a long day today. But how are you? I didn’t even ask earlier.”
His mother chuckled into the phone and Jimin felt like he was rolling in a field of comfort. He took off his glasses and placed them on his bedside table, then pulled up the quilt that lay by his feet.
“I’m doing just fine, don’t you worry about me. You know I was at the grocer’s yesterday, and I was over by the poultry counter and guess who turned up, hiding behind sunglasses and sneaking in a couple of chicken thighs into his cart?”
“Who?” Jimin asked
“Roger Paton, can you believe it?”
“I kid you not Jimin, that man, I swear. I was ready to confront him but then thought the better of it. I mean, sure, he whinged about us non-vegans for decades and here he is going behind all our backs sucking on chicken bones probably. But you know, I figured he’s nearly eighty. I could give him a break-”
Jimin giggled, cradling his phone close. He missed his mother, he truly did. He usually compartmentalised well but there was a lot riding on this mission and Jimin was starting to let the stress get to him. Tomorrow he would sort out what he should do regarding Jungkook but for tonight, Jimin allowed himself this moment of vulnerability and fell asleep to his mother’s tinkering laughter.
Day 56 6.55 am
Tea : Piping hot Oolong
Outfit : Tracksuit and running shoes
Jungkook : Gone with the wind
It was a decent day out, and Jimin decided that he’d go for a jog. It was a two birds, one stone deal- he planned on getting a bit of exercise- nothing like a serotonin boost to start his day, and he might have spotted Susan stepping out in her running gear ten minutes ago; which then had him clambering into his own and downing his tea like shot of whisky.
She went down the left side of her house- so Jimin conveniently took the right. It had been a long time since he'd gone jogging and he hoped he could keep up. Yoga was the only form of exercise he did nowadays. It was just easier to get his mat out and hold a few poses rather than run out in the open. Not now though, now he was on a mission.
It wouldn’t do to just bum around until she came by, so Jimin took his chances with actually running through the neighbourhood. He could only hope they’d bump into each other somewhere along the way. He’d studied the landscape just a couple of days ago so he knew which turns to take that would lead him back to the house.
It was quiet and peaceful. The birds were chirping and some of the older folks were up watering their plants, greeting him pleasantly when he passed by.
It was nice but putting one foot in front of the other repeatedly had him moving on autopilot. And that incidentally gave Jimin time to think.
How on earth had they ended up like this? That was easy. Jungkook volunteered. Jimin made a mental list in his head of the little details he had compiled about Jungkook. He was arrogant. He was mean, yet reserved with others. He goaded Jimin. He was always putting himself in Jimin’s path- in a way that sometimes felt like deliberate obstruction. He was constantly behaving inappropriately- to the point that Jimin felt taken to the brink of an explosive outburst time and time again.
There was also a matter of that note he found on Jungkook’s desk. Watch Jimin- but for what reason? Was it something that he needed to contact his handler to look into?
That was a bit of a slippery slope though. Contacting his handler meant contacting his agency and that was the equivalent of raising a dozen red flags and announcing his reservations with a megaphone. No, he had to figure it out on his own.
Day 56 7.25 am
Laps completed : Three and a half
Pig : Wheezing like a dying one
Susan : Finally within sight
She’d been walking. Jimin hated that he’d actually ran a marathon.
He stumbled up to her soaked to his bones in perspiration. “Hello! Good morning Susan!”
She seemed surprised to see him. “Oh, good morning Jimin. I didn’t know you ran. Is your husband with you?”
“No, just me.” She seemed disappointed at his reply. Jimin could hardly understand why. She was better off not knowing Jungkook’s terrible attributes. “What a coincidence that we’re both out here this morning!”
“Yes, the fresh air is quite lovely, isn’t it?”
All Jimin could smell was the stink of sweat, but he smiled and nodded his head. Then a dog was running out of nowhere and came to a heel next to Susan. It barked at Jimin, tail wagging in circles.
“Oh I think she likes you!”
Jimin squatted until he was at eye level with the dog. He held his hand out to let it sniff him. “What’s her name?” he asked.
“Carla!” Susan answered. She had a twinkle in her eye and a fond smile on her lips. “She’s a rescue so she doesn’t usually let strangers near but she seems to like you just fine.”
Carla really did like him. It nosed his fingers then bounded right up to him and licked his cheek. No matter, dog slobber was a fair trade off for getting into Susan’s good books. He giggled when it circled around him, jumping and laying its paws on his back.
“No, Carla! That’s not very nice!”
Susan pulled her dog off of him and held it by its collar.
Jimin stood up and shook his head. “It’s alright, she’s just excited! I love dogs. I wished I had one here. It can get awfully lonely without Jungkook sometimes. He works at home but every now and then he heads into the office for long hours.”
Jungkook’s office trips were a reprieve and Jimin was forever grateful that Jungkook’s cover story needed him out of the house every so often. Otherwise, they’d drive each other mad locked in the same place.
“Do you really? I mean, there’s a shelter close by. It’s where I adopted my darling Carla. If you’d like I can take you there, and you could take a look- see if you’d like yourself a pet as well. They’re all in need of a home, those poor things. Some people are just so irresponsible, you know? Why get a dog if you’re just going to abandon it by the roadside? Though I wouldn’t have met my Carla if they hadn’t.”
She petted Carla’s flank while looking lovingly at it. Jimin couldn’t believe his good luck. He’d been planning on wrangling Susan into taking him to the grocery store to get ingredients for the brownies, but this was better. So much better. It would give them a proper physical being to bond over. And he really did love dogs, that was an added bonus.
“Of course, I would absolutely love to adopt one. The sooner the better! Do you have anything lined up for the day? I would love to surprise my husband before he gets back. He’s terribly fond of them as well.”
“What a splendid idea! I know my Jan was just over the moon when he met Carla! We must go quickly then. Oh I can’t wait to bring you to the shelter, thank you so much for doing this. Dogs are such precious creatures.”
She grinned at Jimin and he nearly fell over at how great this was all turning out to be. “In an hour’s time perhaps?” He asked hopefully.
“That's fine by me! I’ll drive us, so I’ll come by your door around nine. Would that be okay with you?”
“Nine is perfect!”
Susan flicked her wrist, glancing at her watch and nodded. “Right, best to hurry up with my walk then. See you later Jimin,” she said with a wave, then turned to her dog and clicked her tongue, “Come, Carla.”
Day 56 9.31 am
Breed : Havanese
Size : Itsy bitsy
Thinking of : Hanna and her distaste for small dogs
“He’s perfect,” Jimin cooed, playing with the little pooch through its cage. It had a thick coat of long silky piebald hair and Jimin kept ruffling it left and right. It yipped at Jimin, wagging its tail so hard it felt like little slaps to his forearm.
“I’m taking him,” he told Susan, who was standing to the side and clapped in joy at the news.
Day 56 12.17 pm
Shopping : Overdone, but so what, he’d be reimbursed anyway
Kibble bowl : Filled
New collar : Trying to attach
“There we go,” Jimin muttered, finally fastening the buckle. The collar was a thin leather belt that Jimin hoped was comfortable enough for the dog. It was plain and without embellishments but was the only one that felt soft to the touch.
The dog looked up at Jimin with anticipation and Jimin stared back absently. He had an idea for a name. But Jungkook was probably going to hate it.
“You’ll be called Kookie,” he told the dog conspiratorially. The dog barked. Jimin took it as a sign of approval.
The volunteer at the shelter told him that all the dogs had been trained. There was a file of information on the kitchen counter- of which Jimin had perused while on the drive back. Feed once a day, take on a walk once a day, bathe once a week- those were the cardinal rules. They sounded simple enough.
He’d also told Susan of his idea to bake brownies and she was thrilled. They stopped by the grocer’s and she’d introduced him to the storekeeper.
And it felt like they or rather- she, had overcome that initial phase of awkwardness. She asked him lots of questions about his relationship with Jungkook- how old they were when they met, when did they know they were in love, who proposed and a bunch of other personal inquiries. Some Jimin had shyly passed on, but most of them he answered- with his practised lines, of course.
It was all going swimmingly.
Now he just had to deal with Jungkook.
He went up to his room to grab his journal, Kookie following dutifully at his feet, and went back down to the dining table to make that list his mother had proposed.
He made a line down the middle and headed the left side with ‘Absolutely Must’ and the right with ‘Absolutely Must NOT’
He wrote ‘hand holding’ on the left. And put down his pen.
Kissing Jungkook would have to be a must but he couldn’t- he couldn’t. There were just so many things that words alone would not encompass about how horrid an idea it would be. But the glaring reason was that he hated Jungkook, and Jungkook most likely hated him back, if his words from the previous night were anything to go by.
He’d never been in a relationship before. His own father had been estranged from his mother before his death. He didn’t know what was required from him- what being a married couple entailed. Movies offered a fair guide, but movies were exaggerated, especially on the romance front. If he were to use movies as reference, he would be having sex with Jungkook every other day.
And as if that wasn’t enough, his own experiences were subpar. The last crush Jimin had was during secondary school- his Maths teacher had a top knot and an immaculate five o’clock shadow. It had illegal written all over it. He did partake in the occasional one night stand- but there was nothing concrete in that. They were a frivolous source of gratification, nothing more, nothing less.
Also, Jungkook had Hanna- which meant he didn’t swing that way. Jimin didn’t even know what he was trying to prove to himself. That Jungkook was messing with him? He already knew that much. That he and Jungkook were poorly matched? He knew that too.
Day 56 3.30 pm
Kookie : Learning to roll over
Jimin : Teaching to roll over
“That’s it, Kookie, who’s a good boy? Who’s my good boy, Kookie. Roll over, come on, like we practised. Down, then one paw out, then over, like this- watch me, like this okay?”
Jimin laid flat on the grass in the backyard, putting one hand in front of the other, then rolling over onto his back-
-And promptly yelling in surprise at Jungkook watching him.
He sat up immediately. “What are you doing there?”
Kookie trotted up to Jungkook and started sniffing around his ankles.
Jungkook was dressed in a swath of black. He had on a black cap, black fitted long sleeves and black cargo trousers. His feet were currently bare. But Jimin could hazard a guess that he’d worn deathly black shoes.
“And who’s this little fellow?” Jungkook asked, squatting down and scratching behind the dog’s ears.
It was fleeting, but a small part of Jimin felt betrayed. He’d imagined that Kookie would pee on Jungkook or something- maybe growl at him. But it really was a well behaved dog, just like the volunteer at the shelter promised.
Jimin got up and dusted his sweatpants. “That’s our dog,” he said carefully.
“What’s its name?”
“Kookie,” Jimin answered quickly and took a step back.
Jungkook only raised an eyebrow. If anything, he looked amused. “Did you miss me so much that you went out and got a dog, Jimin?”
He sputtered. “Absolutely not. I’ll have you know I made excellent progress today. And the dog was Susan’s idea. We went out. Together. And got him,” he paused. “Together.”
There was a range of emotions that flitted through Jungkook’s face at breakneck speed. Disbelief, for one, perhaps concern, and anger- which was what he settled with. “You went out with Susan alone? Unsupervised?” He picked up the dog and stalked towards Jimin.
Jimin huffed, walking past Jungkook and through the sliding doors. Jungkook had been back less than a minute and already, they were fighting.
He went into the kitchen to clear the mess he’d made. Kookie’s newly acquired possessions were strewn across the island and Jimin picked them up one by one to store away properly. When he turned around, Jungkook was blocking the archway, dog nowhere in sight.
“Where’s the dog?”
“Relax, he’s in the pen you set up in the living room.”
“Oh,” Jimin said. He continued picking up Kookie’s things and dumped the load of them into a box-container. The kibble went into the cupboard by the sink.
Jungkook was leaning by the island still watching him when Jimin was done. Jungkook was bursting with something to say, that was pretty evident, and he felt nervous in return. He took a rag and wiped the counter, trying to keep his hands busy. “What is it Jungkook?”
“You shouldn’t have gone out with Susan alone.”
“I knew what I was doing. And you flew out of here before sunrise, it’s not like I could confide in you.”
“That’s unfair, don’t put the blame on me-”
“There’s no one to blame, Jungkook,” Jimin said sternly. “We’re partners, we each have our own share to do.” He waved the rag in Jungkook’s direction, feeling his annoyance building up again. “You’re my partner, not my nanny.”
“She’s married to a cult leader, a terrorist, a wanted man-”
“I know this, Jungkook,” Jimin slammed the rag down, frowning at Jungkook. “I know this, I know who we’re dealing with. She wasn’t about to off me, and even if that’s what she had in mind, I would have gotten myself out of it. I’ve handled cases before. I’ve been on my own before. She was not a threat, Jungkook. I wished you could take my word for it and just drop it.”
He picked up the rag again. There was silence on Jungkook’s end while Jimin scrubbed at a stubborn stain. He didn’t know how it even got there, they’d barely used the kitchen.
“I’m sorry,” Jungkook uttered softly, so softly that Jimin almost didn’t hear him. But he was so aware of Jungkook’s presence that he doubted he would miss a single word he said.
Jimin looked up at him in surprise.
“I’m sorry,” Jungkook said again and this time Jimin watched the words tumble out directly from Jungkook’s mouth. It was the first time that Jungkook had apologised to him- for anything. He felt out of sorts. He’d never expected Jungkook to apologise.
“Are you really?” Jimin asked back.
Jungkook looked upset, his eyes were searching Jimin’s. “Yes,” Jungkook answered after a while. “I don’t mean to keep fighting with you. I thought about what you said. About me always pushing you. I didn’t realise- didn’t realise you felt that way. And I’m sorry about what I said too. About calling you names. You- you’re good... at your job.”
Jimin dropped the rag onto the counter and walked around it- to where Jungkook stood. “Thank you, Jungkook. That’s- well, it’s nice of you to say that, I appreciate it. And I appreciate you apologising as well. I know- we got off on the wrong foot. And we’re constantly at loggerheads and that’s not exactly the best start to a partnership, and especially not in our case, being married and all.”
He was beginning to ramble, words clogging in his throat.
He was hit by the vision of Jungkook bathed in the evening light. He was extremely easy on the eyes. His shirt was thin and stretched over his pectorals. His trim waist was emphasised by the belt looped over his trousers. And he was tall. And he had the darkest pair of eyes that always seem to hold so much emotion.
Jimin had been thinking all day long how to get himself used to Jungkook and it came to him, right then and there. If Jungkook could apologise then maybe Jimin could make concessions too.
“We should practise,” Jimin said.
“You should kiss me Jungkook. Just go for it.” Maybe it was like a big mental block he had to get over. For some reason he had qualms about Jungkook kissing him and the more he thought about it, the more childish his reasons sounded. He just needed to take the plunge.
“Kiss me Jungkook. I think we should practise. Maybe once everyday. Or maybe that’s too much. Should we schedule for once every two days or so? Just until you think I’m not as stiff as a plank anymore. Or maybe until I think I can handle-”
Once again, Jungkook silenced him with a kiss. But this time Jimin held himself from reacting adversely. It was odd- it felt almost intrusive for Jungkook’s lips to touch his. It was even more awkward keeping his eyes open so he closed them.
He could hear Jungkook inhaling through his nose, and his breath hitting Jimin’s cheeks in an exhale. He could also hear the sounds Jungkook made as he moved his lips, the sound of Jungkook swallowing his saliva.
And his touch- he felt Jungkook’s hands land on his shoulders, then make their way down his arms and to his wrists. Jimin had his hands balled up into fists and Jungkook coaxed them open, prying his fingers apart. Jungkook’s touch was gentle.
But Jimin felt wrought with tension.
Jungkook nipped on his lips and pulled back. “You have to relax, just lose yourself for a bit. Stop thinking.”
Relax, Jimin told himself. It wasn’t as if Jungkook was the first person he’d ever kissed, but it certainly felt like it. He didn’t know why he was waiting for a bomb to explode or for Jungkook to push him back and call it quits. He was just- waiting-
“Kiss me back, Jimin,” Jungkook muttered against his lips.
Jimin’s eyes flickered open. He came up to about Jungkook’s chin and he had a clear view of Jungkook’s neck. His shirt had a bateau neckline that exposed his collarbones and sat slightly askew since Jungkook was leaning forward and his head was bowed. It was then that Jimin saw the dash of mauve peeking from underneath the shirt, in the distinctive shape of a bruise- a hickey- and he just-
He stepped back instinctively. “Thank you. Jungkook. I think- I think that’s enough for today.” He tried to look elsewhere but he couldnt tear his eyes away. “We can continue at another time. I’d like to go unpack now.”
He kept his cool as he walked off but his heart was thundering in his chest as loud and fast as a freight train.
Day 57 12.47 am
Wide : Awake
As Jimin lay on his bed, all he could think about was Hanna and Jungkook making out while he’d been working on the case. Jungkook and him obviously weren’t really married but it felt like he'd been cheated.
He hated that he felt that way. He hated Jungkook for kissing him and he hated Jungkook for-
He sat up with a gasp, his quilt bunching around his waist. He’d just realised that Jungkook knew his full name. He’d call him Park Jimin the night they argued.
Jungkook knew his name.
Day 57 8.47 am
Dog : Walked
Toast : Eaten
Newspaper : Read
It was nearly nine when Jungkook stumbled into the kitchen with a full head of bed hair.
He was yawning but caught himself when he noticed Jimin looking at him. “Morning,” Jungkook said.
“Morning,” Jimin mumbled in reply.
He’d finished browsing through the newspaper but he opened it up again anyway, placing his hands on either side. Like a barrier, of sorts.
Jungkook was rummaging through the fridge, while Jimin read through sentences he was already familiar with.
“Listen,” Jungkook said, suddenly appearing and standing on the opposite side of the island. He had an apple in one hand and his other hand was resting on the counter. His voice wavered and he swallowed a few times. “So, yesterday went alright, didn’t it? When should we practise again?”
Jimin looked at him in disbelief. Yesterday went alright ? Yesterday was a total disaster. Jungkook had kissed a woman earlier in the day, a woman who very likely his girlfriend, then he came home to his fake husband and kissed him too.
“I don’t think it was a good idea. Maybe we should just stick to the basics.” Jimin answered, voice dripping with reluctance. “We can hold hands and kiss each other on the cheek. That should be enough, right? And if the situation calls for it, we can hug.”
Jungkook's eyes bugged out. “Are you- are you serious?”
“Of course I’m serious, why would I be joking?”
“You- Then why did you suggest it in the first place?!”
Jimin sighed, folding up the newspaper in half. It wasn’t like he was actually going to read it again. “I thought it might work but I don’t think it will. We’re just...two very different people, Jungkook. It’s not terrible. I mean, it’s not like I can’t work with you, we just- you know- don’t fit well, physically.”
Jungkook was confused, that much was obvious. Running over his own words, Jimin would be too, if he were in Jungkook’s shoes.
“What the fuck are you trying to say?”
Jimin wished he could just come out with it. That he couldn’t kiss Jungkook because he was with Hanna. And Jimin wasn’t a home wrecker, even if it was just for work. But he couldn’t bring himself to say so. It felt like he was revealing a part of himself and he was just not ready for that, especially not to Jungkook.
Instead, he said, “Maybe you were right, Jungkook. Maybe I really am just crap at this. I told you we wouldn’t work well together, I told you from the very start. So let’s just get this job done. Let’s just focus on getting the information we need and then we can just- not have to deal with this thing anymore.”
Jungkook was seven different shades of pissed, but he held his tongue. And Jimin couldn’t look at him long before starting to feel like a fool for backtracking and putting them in this position.
He got off from his stool and motioned Jungkook through the archway. “Let’s sort through the equipment you brought back.”
Day 57 3.50 pm
Ingredients : Laid out
Music : A jazz playlist set on low volume
It was a simple plan, really. Chris had supplied them with body-worn cameras and multiple other hidden cameras that were absolutely indiscernable to the passing glance. The cameras, once activated, sent recordings to the device that Jimin and Jungkook had set up in the second guestroom. They could listen in live, or they could listen to the tapes on playback. It was perfect- they would have full surveillance on the couple next door and they just had to do one thing for now- get the camera onto Susan.
And Jimin was working on it. He discussed it- awkwardly- with Jungkook, and since he’d spent the day with Susan already, it was decided that Jimin would be the one to approach her. He was going to attach the camera to her watch. It was a tiny little thing, no bigger than a speck of dust. He was dubious when Jungkook handed him the camera but they tested them all thoroughly and they worked, even the one he’d been given.
That was that.
And now he had to bake his brownies. It was muscle memory at this point, with the number of times he’d made it. Melt the butter, add the sugar, crack the eggs, sift in the cocoa powder, mix in the flour, stick it into the oven.
There was a thump from upstairs- a reminder to Jimin that Jungkook was pretty much part of his life now, however temporary. He was still fixing up the wiring for their tech- so that it would send information directly to Kareena as well.
It was almost as if one step forward guaranteed two steps backwards.
Jimin just hoped they could get through the potluck in one piece.
Day 57 6.35 pm
Neighbours : Trickling in
Hand : Carrying his tupperware of brownies, the other being held by Jungkook
It was a spacious park. There was a large table filled to the brim with food- roast, lasagne, slaw, and bottles upon bottles of alcohol- so that’s where Jimin went to drop off his contribution.
And Jungkook followed, what with the hand holding. His grip was mechanical, robotic almost. Jimin was beginning to feel self-conscious of the sweat collecting on his palms.
There were a few people who stopped them and asked who they were. They introduced themselves and made small talk. Jungkook described at length the kind of work he did in the tech world while Jimin talked about their newly married life and how they were still settling in.
It was all just as they rehearsed.
Then Jungkook got pulled into a conversation about a video game of some sort, and Jimin was left to fend for himself.
Day 57 7.15 pm
Party : In full swing
Jungkook : Location unknown
Jimin : Surrounded by the neighbourhood mothers
It was utterly and completely obscene. His ears were red, he could feel it, and his face was probably flushed the colour of a deep ripe tomato.
They were talking about sex. Well not him, but the ladies around him were.
Some of them were old enough to be his mother, some way beyond that age. And every time Jimin tried to run away, one of them would drag him back into the conversation, saying things like-
“The handcuffs over at Sally’s are quite durable. You should check it out, Jimin.”
“Lingerie is the secret to a spicy midsummer’s night. Jimin, have you tried them?”
And the worst- “So how is it like having sex with another man? You can tell us here, we’re all very open you know.”
And in the midst of it all, Susan- Susan Anderson, who he initially thought could have been a homophobe and a hindrance to his mission- quite possibly had a kink for gay couples. At least, that was the only explanation as to why she was pestering him for answers and talking about how Jungkook was devilishly handsome and looked like the type to be the domineering one in their marital bed.
That started a new line of conversation of tops and bottoms and just a whole slew of bullshit Jimin knew would taint his brain for at least some time.
And if that didn’t disprove the existence of providence, Jungkook just had to appear right then, swaggering out of the shadows like a straight-from-the-books Heathcliff and sending all the women into a tizzy.
One of the younger ones, and really the only one around his age, Marla, grasped his arm and said, “Oh Jimin, he’s staring at you. He looks like he wants to eat you right up, oh my god, I think I'm going to pass out!”
He turned towards Jungkook- who was making his way closer- and nearly looked away again. He didn’t know what Marla was on about, Jungkook was positively fuming. He was glaring at Jimin with so much anger that Jimin almost wanted to turn tail and run. He tried to think of reasons why Jungkook would be angry with him. Did he not salt the brownies? Did they miss Jan?
He glanced around and saw that only Susan was with them. Jan was nowhere in sight and she hadn’t said anything about him either so Jimin hadn't probed.
Jungkook sidled up to him and wrapped an arm around his waist, dragging Jimin to stand right in front of him. It was exactly what he did when they spoke to Susan that first time. And again, Jimin tried to inch forward but this time Jungkook held him tight. He could even see the muscles on Jungkook’s forearm flexing to keep him close. Jimin was practically attached to him.
“Having fun, husband?” Jungkook whispered into his ear, but apparently everyone in their circle heard him clearly enough. Someone gasped. Someone groaned. Someone might have even fainted.
But Jimin was focused solely on Jungkook- and more specifically, Jungkook’s breath. He’d been drinking, Jimin could smell it. Which was completely unacceptable and irresponsible.
He was about to excuse them, when Jungkook suddenly attached his lips to Jimin’s cheek. He felt Jungkook exhale at the contact, and then Jungkook was trailing his lips along Jimin’s jawline. He felt rooted, like he couldn’t move. He dared not move. It was so wet- and sticky. Jungkook was practically licking him in public. Half of him was embarrassed, the other half was mortified.
Jungkook’s other hand cupped his jaw and turned Jimin’s head.
They were kissing. Not just kissing, but actually kissing.
There wasn’t any hesitance on Jungkook’s end. He just pried Jimin’s lips open and shoved his tongue in, licking his way through Jimin’s mouth in sloppy strokes. He felt Jungkook’s tongue prodding his own, and his eyes fluttered shut. It was like he wasn’t even aware of what was going on, Jungkook was overwhelming him. Jungkook’s hands were pulling him closer, his body was burning through Jimin’s back. His grunt-
Jimin broke away and found six pairs of eyes staring at him in various degrees of interest.
He coughed, mumbled an apology, and dragged Jungkook away.
Day 57 7.30 pm
Wind : Picking up
Clothes : Not nearly warm enough
Goosebumps : All over
When he decided they were out of earshot, he released his hold and pushed hard against Jungkook’s shoulders.
“What the fuck Jungkook? What the fuck was that?!”
Jungkook’s features hardened. He was glowering. He looked even more incensed now that they were alone and away from the spotlights in the park. The moon casted shadows onto his face in a way that almost made him look dangerous. “What the fuck was I doing? The question is what the fuck were you doing?”
“You were flirting! In public!”
Perplexed, Jimin made a face. “I wasn’t flirting. What the hell are you talking about?”
“That girl!” Jungkook threw his arm out in the direction that they came from. “She was simpering! She was,” he held his hands out in front of Jimin, not touching him but trembling with how taut his muscles were. “-Holding on to you. She was all over you. And you fucking let her!”
Jimin slapped Jungkook’s shoulders again, pushing him backwards. “Are you insane? I wasn’t flirting! She was- oh my god, do you mean Marla? She was just talking, we were just talking!”
“No she wasn’t! She was coming on to you! She’s not even married. And the only single woman in that group was all over you- coincidence? I think the fuck not!” Jungkook growled.
Jimin glanced around furtively to make sure they were really alone. He pulled Jungkook further into the park until they were surrounded by copses and a pond.
“Jungkook,” he tried to keep his voice calm, “Jungkook, you’re drunk. Just. God. Sober up. This is out of line. You’re going to ruin it.”
“I’m not ruining anything. You’re going to ruin it. Stop talking about ruining things. Fuck. Jimin. Fuck.”
“Why are you so... you’re so infuriating!”
“Me? I’m infuriating?” Jimin scoffed. “You’ve got it backwards here. You mauled me Jungkook! In front of our neighbours! What were you thinking? Were you thinking at all?! That was stupidly inappropriate. You probably alienated us forever. God, what if Susan doesn’t want to talk to us anymore? Do you even realise what you’ve done Jungkook?”
Jungkook was distracted. He was staring into the distance. And that was just swell. Every time Jimin brought up something that Jungkook needed to fix, he would just turn a deaf ear.
“Are you listening to me Jungkook? And that display! We’ve talked about this. We agreed! Tiny pecks, a hug if necessary. You- you freaking- kissed me like- Jungkook? Jungkook! I’m talking to you, hey-”
Jungkook abruptly dragged him down until they were hidden by the thicket lining the pond.
Jimin struggled against him but Jungkook held his arms down and subdued him in an embrace. They were on their knees. His face was smashed into the side of Jungkook’s throat, and he could feel Jungkook’s Adam’s apple bobbing against his cheek.
“What the fuck are you doing?”
He was starting to shiver and clenched his jaw to keep his teeth from chattering. It was really starting to get cold.
“Ssshush,” Jungkook said, arms winding tighter around Jimin. He was still staring in the direction of the pond, so Jimin followed his gaze and noticed that there were figures at the pier.
“Who are they?” he whispered.
“Can’t tell for sure, they’re too far away,” Jungkook said quietly, his breath carrying into Jimin’s face. “Let’s get a closer look.”
Jungkook lifted them both up and turned around. He hovered low and walked around the pond, Jimin following in his footsteps. The closer they got, the louder the voices became. They sounded young. Like teenagers- boys on the cusp of puberty.
“Look at him fellas, what a loser.”
Peals of laughter followed.
Then another person said, “Grab his legs, let’s chuck him into the water!”
There were some raised voices- jumbled and incoherent.
Jimin heard a screech, then a splash. He looked through a bush and saw one of the boys flailing around in the water, the other boys gathered at the end of the pier yelling at him. On the other end of the pier- the part that was closer to the bank, there was someone lifting another boy up by his feet.
They were close enough now that Jimin recognised the boy being lifted up and he gasped.
Jungkook must have seen him too because he shot up and ran towards the pier. Jimin took off after him.
The boy was their priority.
They were charging down, his footsteps were thunderous to his own ears. They must have alerted the boys because they were kicking up a ruckus, shouting at each other to leave. By the time Jimin and Jungkook reached the pier, all of them were gone save for the boy being bullied.
Jimin dropped onto his knees and skidded to a stop in front of the boy. He was a mess. He had a split lip and he was sobbing. His hair was ruffled and his shirt was torn at the front.
Jimin glanced at Jungkook, who took off his leather jacket unprompted and handed it to Jimin to throw over the boy.
“Hey, kid,” he said softly. When the boy didn’t answer, he tapped his leg to gain his attention. “Hey, are you okay?”
The boy scampered backwards and Jimin moved away immediately, raising his hands so that the boy could see them. “I’m here to help. Are you okay?”
The boy shook his head and sobbed harder. Jimin glanced again towards Jungkook for help but Jungkook was staring back innocently at him, like he had less of a handle on the situation than Jimin did.
He scooted forward again, keeping his hands in sight. “I’m not going to hurt you okay. It’s fine now. They’re gone. I’m going to touch you. Is that okay? Can I touch you?”
The boy kept still and Jimin took that as invitation to envelope the boy in a hug. He was a scrawny kid, and he felt absolutely tiny in Jimin’s arms. But he held him close, patting his back soothingly and he soon felt the boy’s fingers gripping onto his shirt.
A few minutes had passed when the boy had finally calmed down. Jimin asked for his name but the boy shook his head. Jimin asked again and the boy finally signed.
He could hear Jungkook’s sigh of relief from behind.
Day 57 7.56 pm
Party : Still ongoing
Family : Reunited
Susan professed a litany of thank you’s when she had caught up with the situation. She fussed over her son, checking over him and comforting him at the same time. He was shaken up, but he wasn’t as upset as he was at the pier.
They were huddled near the entrance of the park. Susan was taking her leave, and when she did, so would Jimin and Jungkook.
“Say thank you to the nice men, Jason,” Susan said. She was holding her son in a one arm hug, his own arms wrapped around her.
He let go of his mother to sign at Jimin and Jimin signed back.
“Oh, do you know ASL?” Susan asked, sounding intrigued.
Jimin smiled at her. “Yes, before we moved I used to teach at a special school. No schools like that in the vicinity so I’m unemployed for the time being.”
She looked interested. “That’s fascinating. And a really honourable profession.”
Jimin felt his cheeks heating up. It would be honourable if it was true.
“Jimin was a great teacher. The kids loved him.” Jungkook piped in. They were holding hands and Jungkook had his in a tight grip.
Jimin grinned saccharinely and whacked Jungkook’s arm with the palm of his other hand. He still hadn’t forgotten how much of an idiot Jungkook had been. “Jungkook’s playing it up. But I did love my students and I hope they enjoyed having me as their teacher.”
Susan was watching them contentedly. “You guys are cute.”
“Thank you,” Jungkook said as he massaged the back of Jimin’s hand.
“Say, Jimin, I have an idea, but I would like some time to run it by my husband first. Would you be open to tutoring Jason? I have to send him to the next town for lessons and it’s about a three hour journey back and forth. It would just be a lot more convenient if you could take over. I’ll pay you of course.”
“Oh Susan, that would be lovely! I don’t mind at all. I love teaching, and you’d be doing me the favour, honestly.”
“Wonderful! Well I’ll get back to you on the details but I can tell this is going to be great. Thank you again, for helping my Jason!”
Jimin pulled away from Jungkook and accepted her gratitude by clasping onto her hands. They were warm and larger than his. “Please, we’re neighbours, this is nothing, really. Have a good night now.”
“Look after yourself,” he signed to Jason, who ducked and nodded his head.
Jungkook grabbed Jimin’s hand and yanked him closer. Susan laughed and ushered her son around.
When they were some distance away, Jungkook whispered, “Did you get it on?”
“I did.” Jimin flashed him a smile. The recorder was magnetic and stuck onto her watch seamlessly. They stood grinning at each other for a moment before Jimin realised he was supposed to be annoyed and pinched Jungkook’s side.
Jungkook yelped and hopped away. “What was that for?!”
“You know what that was for. Don’t play the fool, Jungkook, it’s not a good look on you.”
“You think I have a good look?” Jungkook asked in a sing-song voice.
God, he was probably as drunk as a skunk to be so playful. How did Jimin not notice earlier?
For some reason- maybe because they’d had a successful night or maybe he was intoxicated through sheer contact, osmosis, of some sort- he played along. “You don’t need me inflating your ego, Jungkook. You know how you look.”
They started on their short trek home. Jungkook reached for his hand again and Jimin let him. He was in a good mood and felt too tired to argue anyway. “So tell me, how do I look like in the eyes of Jimin, America’s favourite secret agent?”
Jimin spun around and clamped his other hand over Jungkook’s mouth. “Don’t say that out loud you dummy!”
Jungkook kept walking so Jimin had no choice but to walk backwards.
Jungkook licked his palm.
Jimin snatched his hand away and wiped it on Jungkook’s jacket. It was actually a really nice jacket and he was sorry to see Jungkook’s slobber diminish its quality. “That’s disgusting Jungkook. I suppose it was kismet that I named our dog Kookie. You two are more alike than you think.”
Jungkook held onto Jimin’s wrist and laughed. It was bright and airy. And it made his teeth stick out.
Jimin found himself smiling in return.
Jungkook switched his grip on his hand and he was holding onto both by Jimin’s wrists, keeping them down by Jimin’s sides. He was still walking backwards and he hoped that Lady Luck wouldn’t abandon him now.
“You didn’t say, how do I look like to you?”
Jimin scoffed. “How is that important? I’m just an insignificant person in a sea of people.”
“You’re not insignificant,” Jungkook said softly and paused, then quickly added, “Are you trying to evade my question? I didn’t know you were such a chicken.”
Jimin looked up at Jungkook incredulously. “I’m a chicken for not telling you how you look? That’s the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard.”
“I say a lot of ridiculous things.”
“And don’t I know it.” Jimin couldn’t contain his laugh. It bubbled out of him in squeaks.
“So?” Jungkook prompted, grinning wildly.
Jimin glanced backwards just to make sure their path ahead was flat and smooth. He would hate to crack his head on the pavement just because he hadn’t been walking straight. He turned back around and said, “You’re a decent looking guy. I’m sure you know that.”
“I do know that. You can do better.”
Jimin rolled his eyes in exasperation. “Your physique is satisfactory and your eyes are of a pleasant shade.”
Jungkook huffed a laugh. “That’s it?”
“As if you could do any better.”
“Is that a dare?”
“Maybe,” Jimin answered offhandedly. It wasn’t really a dare. He was just feeling embarrassed for admitting he thought Jungkook was handsome.
Jungkook stopped in place and Jimin was tugged into him. Jungkook’s arms went around his waist and made their way to his lower back, locking him in an embrace.
Jimin stood frozen. “What- what are you doing?”
“I think you’re really pretty, Jimin. Your nose is tiny, and your hands- they’re tiny too. You have a smattering of freckles on your forehead and down here, by your neck.” Jungkook hugged him closer and traced the tip of his nose along Jimin's neck.
Jimin felt his breath hitch. “Jungkook- stop, there’s no one here. You-”
“And your eyes are really pretty too. They’re wide when you’re angry- you’re always angry with me. You get this look, like you’re about to have a go at me. And- when you’re happy and smiling, you’re a completely different person. Your eyes scrunch up.”
Jimin felt a tingle travel down his spine.
“And you smell good. You always smell so so good.” Jungkook whispered.
Jungkook replaced his nose with his lips and skimmed over Jimin's neck and onto his jaw.
“And your lips,” Jungkook said, murmuring at the corner of his mouth, “I really really like them. Makes me want to-”
He pressed his lips into Jimin’s, soft and gentle, completely unlike their kiss earlier. Jimin felt his heart hammering in his chest as he closed his eyes. His mind was a whirlwind of chaos.
Jungkook’s fingers tightened around his waist, pressing him close and Jimin had to stand on his toes. He subconsciously brought his own hands to hold onto Jungkook’s shoulders. Jungkook’s tongue was swiping across his mouth, dragging saliva over his cupid’s bow and his lower lip. Jimin heard himself moan. He felt warmth smouldering in his gut, warmth that progress downwards and-
“Kiss me back, Jimin.”
It hit him like a bucket of cold water. They were the same words Jungkook uttered back in the kitchen the day before. The same words he said when Jimin saw Hanna’s mark imprinted onto Jungkook’s skin.
And just like that day, he couldn’t.
He moved away, pushing Jungkook back and stepping out of his hold. Jungkook blinked at him.
“Jungkook, I- what are you doing?”
Jungkook's hands fell slack. His eyebrows were pinched in the middle of his forehead. He was watching Jimin as if he was trying to understand something, but Jimin had nothing to offer, he couldn’t offer, and it wasn’t him anyway who was in a position to offer. They were two guys forced onto a job together. He and Jungkook were explosive enough- emotions were bound to sway in certain instances.
It was nothing. It was a slip. A blip.
Jungkook’s face smoothened and remained vacant. “It’s nothing,” he said.
Day 58 8.45 am
Dining table : Occupied by the only two people in the house
Breakfast : Pancakes, courtesy of Jimin
It felt like there was a black cloud over Jimin’s head, dense and suffocating. He wanted to set the record straight, but he didn’t know how to approach their predicament.
“Jungkook, do you-”
“These are really nice pancakes, Jimin.”
“Oh, thank you. I just followed the instructions at the back of the box.”
He waited to see if Jungkook had anymore to say, and when he didn’t, Jimin started again. “So what happened-”
“Listen, so I wanted to apologise for last night.”
Jimin shifted in his seat. His fork nearly clattered onto his plate but he caught it just in time. “Oh?”
“Yeah, I had a bit too much to drink. I didn’t fully have a hold on my senses. In fact, I don’t even remember much about last night so you’re going to have to brief me.”
“You don’t remember much? How much- how much do you remember?” Jimin asked hesitantly.
“Just stuff here and there. I remember us finding Jason. And I remember talking to Frank about Overwatch- he was talking about the meet up’s he and some of the boys have once a month. Just a whole weekend of gaming. He invited me, but I told him I had to think about it. And he went on a whole lovesick confession about Marl- marsupials. He’s fond of kangaroos.”
Jungkook rubbed the back of his neck.
“That’s- interesting,” Jimin said.
“Yeah. That’s pretty much it. Did anything else happen?”
Jimin was stumped. Jungkook was being very casual, and his demeanour was self-assured as per usual. He was looking at Jimin now, his eyes wide and guileless, waiting for him to speak.
And even though Jimin didn’t want a repeat of last night, and even though he felt like he and Jungkook needed some sort of entente so as to avoid future misunderstandings, he just couldn’t muster the courage nor confidence to broach the subject, not when Jungkook had no recollection whatsoever.
So he did what he always did best and swept it all under the rug.
“No, nothing of importance. Should we take turns listening in on Susan?”
Jungkook hummed, finishing off the last of his breakfast. He picked up his plate and was out of the dining room in a blink of an eye, and Jimin was left staring at his vacated spot.
It was perhaps for the best. But there was a strange bitterness at the back of his throat, and clamminess on the palms of his hand that he couldn’t explain.
Day 58 10.45 am
Feeling : Something
Jimin picked up the cushion toy by his feet and flung it across the living room. It landed somewhere behind the three seater and Kookie ran like a bat out of hell in search of it.
There was some squeaking, some tiny cut-off growls, then the toy was brought back to his feet.
Jimin flung it again- somewhere next to the TV cabinet.
Day 58 12.45 pm
Queries : Did Jungkook mean what he said during their walk? Or did he have another person in mind? Was Jimin just the inconveniently unlucky person next to him? Had Jungkook pictured Hanna’s face over his? Did it matter?
Reach. Throw. Repeat.
Day 58 2.00 pm
Body : Hunched over the processors
They switched positions just after lunch and Jungkook silently handed over the headphones to him. He’d said that there was nothing to report. Susan had been cleaning the entire house for the last four hours.
Jimin nodded and took his seat.
And Jungkook was gone. Again.
Day 58 5.00 pm
Arm : Starting to ache
Kookie had somehow found him upstairs, cushion toy at the edge of its teeth. The toy was plopped onto his foot and Jimin decided that even if he felt like a sack of potatoes, Kookie didn’t have to brood by proxy.
Day 58 7.10 pm
Itching to : Cook
He’d been meandering in the kitchen for the past ten minutes wondering what to do.
Susan on her own was just a bore. She read for hours. He could hear the sound of pages fluttering, and she talked to her dog a lot.
He passed over onto Jungkook- who barely said a word to him.
It made him wonder if Jungkook was hiding something. Why was he being so evasive- so quiet, all of a sudden? But it was a strange sort of peace they had right now, and Jimin was fearful of breaking it, so he kept his thoughts to himself.
He made pasta- with meatball sauce and everything, and left Jungkook’s portion in the fridge.
Day 59 12.00 am
Time for : The switch
Five hours on his own- make that four hours and 59 minutes.
Day 59 7.30 am
Lethargy : An interesting phenomenon that struck even when he wasn’t even exerting himself
He was dead to the world when someone barged into his room, throwing the door open so forcefully that it rattled on its hinges.
He woke up with a start, hand reaching immediately for the Swiss Army knife he kept underneath his pillow. He flicked the blade open and held it to Jungkook’s neck, both of them breathing heavily and staring at each other dumbly.
He felt- he felt- like time had slowed to a crawl, like he was breathing through molasses yet his heart was galloping.
He put his hand down slowly and took even regulated breaths, trying to regain control of his faculties. “Jungkook,” he exhaled, and fell back onto his bed, stashing his knife back in its place. “Jungkook- what the hell are you doing in my room?”
He realised belatedly that he hadn’t locked the door. He hadn’t locked the door the day before either.
Jungkook was still staring at him, half crouched on his bed and one hand resting on his mattress. Jimin grumbled and pulled another pillow over his face. He felt like he’d only just shut his eyes. Was it really time for his turn already?
“I’ll be there in a bit, just give me ten minutes,” he mumbled into his pillow and turned over, quilt rolling around his hips and wrapping him snugly.
He heard a strangled noise come out of Jungkook and threw the pillow blindly at him. “Jungkook, I said I would be there in a bit. Get out.”
He heard the pillow smacking into something and hoped it would be Jungkook. He raised his arms over his head and flexed his toes, stretching and feeling his joints pop satisfyingly. When he turned around to get out of bed, Jungkook was still there- and still staring.
“Oh my god, Jungkook, what do you want?” His mind was still hazy with sleep but he knew he told Jungkook to leave.
To his utter surprise, Jungkook flushed scarlet and turned his back on him, speaking to the wall opposite Jimin’s bed. “Jan just came back,” he grunted. “You better hurry up.” His footsteps were heavy as he strode across the room, grabbing the knob and nearly slamming the door on his way out.
Jimin shook his head blearily. Jungkook was super fucking weird sometimes. He quickly picked up his shirt that he'd flung onto the wing chair the night before and slipped it on. He usually showered in the mornings but Jungkook had said Jan was finally back, and he wasn’t about to waste precious time dilly-dallying on hygiene.
Day 59 7.40 am
Binoculars : In his hands
Headphones : Switched to earphones with one bud in his ear and one in Jungkook’s
Tippy : Toes
Jungkook snickered. “Do I need to get you a step stool?”
“Shut up, Jungkook,” Jimin muttered and shoved Jungkook aside. After an entire day of silence, Jungkook’s first words to him were an insult. Of course.
The binoculars were outstanding. He could even make out the number of leaves on the plants in that house. It so happened that the second guestroom had a clear view of the Anderson household, an advantage that Jungkook and Jimin were now fully exploiting.
Jan had only just arrived and was catching up with his wife. She was talking about the week she had and of the new charity she was now a patron of. He asked after Jason and she said all was well with him. Jimin found it interesting that she didn’t mention him being bullied.
After a few more minutes of banal exchange, Susan at last asked about his prolonged trip. Jimin pushed his earbud in to better hear Jan’s answer. He explained that he had trouble tracking down a buyer for a certain automobile part- something for the engine, and ended up rerouting to Germany for additional supplies.
It was all new to him. Jimin didn’t know what story Jan had been feeding Susan but now he could take a guess. He shared a look with Jungkook- who had his lips pressed into a thin line.
Jimin took the earbud off around the same time that Jungkook did, and trooped down the stairs, Jungkook following after him. They went into the office room and Jimin sat down on one of the swivel chairs.
“We have to get in touch with that inside man. Now that Jan is back, there’ll definitely be a gathering soon. Or meeting- whatever it’s called.” Jungkook said, dropping down onto the chair next to Jimin’s.
“I was thinking the same. He said he’d been to Germany. But the dossier Kareena sent didn’t mention a single thing about Germany. Do you think there’s something else going on? Are they gathering weapons?”
“Hard to say when even our intelligence couldn’t pick up on it.”
Jimin hummed. “I feel like we need to move quicker. When do you expect to get in touch with Jan?”
Jungkook stood up and popped his head above the windows. “Soon, I expect. Today, for sure.”
“Do you have a plan?”
“A lawn mower,” Jungkook said, “And a shitty old German song.”
Day 59 9.30 am
Doorbell : Ringing
Kookie : Running
Jimin opened the door having just finished showering, after taking the dog out for a short walk in their backyard.
“Susan, hello! Please, come in.”
Susan entered. It was the first time she had stepped into their home and she took her time looking around. Back when they just came up with the idea of an undercover marriage, Chris had made Jimin and Jungkook take a few pictures together.
They spent an entire day hopping from location to location and switching out their clothes for each photo. They barely said a word to each other then, completely sour in between shots- but they looked surprisingly happy in the photos. It went to show how even lies could portray truths and truths could be bent just as easily.
She took a seat on the settee and Jimin sat opposite her. “How have you been?” he asked.
“I’m fine, everything’s alright. I just came by to tell you the news! So I’ve spoken to my husband- he’s back you see, he’d only just arrived today. And it’s settled, you’ll be Jason’s new ASL tutor!”
“Wow, that’s wonderful, Susan! I’m so grateful you’ve sought me out. I promise to do my best.”
“You have yourself to thank for. I think Jason has already taken a liking to you. When I brought it up with him, he agreed immediately. Thank you Jimin, once again, for the other night. Poor Jason, he’s a shy little boy. And the other kids just don’t really treat him well, you know. I’ve tried speaking to his teacher about it, but she assures me they’re all harmless jabs.”
Jimin frowned at her choice of words. “But Susan, that night at the pier wasn’t harmless. They were being mean. It was a deliberate act of aggression.”
Susan waved her hand, as if to dismiss Jimin’s line of thought. “Boys will be boys, you know. My husband is a bit of a traditional man, and he insists on boys standing up for themselves and he says if Jason were to be a good strong man, he should learn now.”
He could see now that Jan was a real piece of work. There were insults at the tip of his tongue but he held himself back. “I’ll try to look out for him where I can,” Jimin settled on instead.
“That’s very kind of you.” Susan brought her hands together on her lap, her fingers moving restlessly. “I’d like to sit in on the first lesson, if you don’t mind, and if you could bring proof of your credentials, that would be great.”
“Of course. I’ll get them all ready. When would you like to start?”
“Would tomorrow be alright? And we’ll see how things go from there to set out a more concrete schedule.”
“That would do just fine. Should I come by your place or do you want to do it here?” Jimin gestured to the office room. He could technically do it in the dining room as well but the office room was small and cramped and he was hoping for Susan to offer her own residence as a study space.
“Mine would perhaps be better, and if anything were to occur or if you have questions I would be nearby to help.”
“Yes, that makes absolute sense. Oh, where are my manners, would you like something to drink Susan? Tea perhaps? Or water? I’m sure we have coffee somewhere, Jungkook keeps his own stash.”
Susan smiled kindly at him. “Just tea, thank you.”
Standing up, Jimin said, “I won’t take long. Please, make yourself at home.”
He trudged down the hallway, passing the staircase with preoccupied thoughts. And almost got the shock of his life upon seeing Jungkook lingering behind the bannister.
“Why are you always popping out of nowhere? Are you trying to give me a heart attack?” He hissed.
Jungkook motioned him closer and directed Jimin into a little alcove behind a nearby bookcase. Jimin felt ridiculous. Were they really doing this? Hiding in their own home?
“There better be a good reason for this. I should be putting the kettle on right now.”
Jungkook pulled him closer and leaned down to speak into his ear. “Ask her about Jan’s job. The version he’s told her.”
“Oh, right. Yes that would be a good idea.” He turned to leave but Jungkook pulled him back.
“And ask her where he’s been to, we need to know the countries he’s visited. He would have had contacts- for intel, weapons, anything- we can track them down.”
“Okay,” Jimin said, turning around again. Jungkook yanked him back.
“What else?” Jimin asked, exasperated.
“You’re taking too long, won’t make sense,” Jungkook said in a low rumble, before licking a stripe down Jimin’s neck.
Air wooshed out of his lungs.
Jungkook had moved so quickly he hadn’t seen it coming. Jimin tried to push him away but Jungkook’s fingers were digging into his waist, dragging him closer. He stumbled into Jungkook’s arms, out of balance, and Jungkook leaned them both lower, bending Jimin almost in half. It was a good thing he was so flexible or he would have broken his back.
Jungkook peppered kisses up and down his neck, frantic at first, and barely touching his skin. But they soon turned long and slow.
Jimin could feel his pulse reverberating in his head like he was buried in darkness and the rhythm of his heart was his only guiding light. There was a rush of white noise in his ears and a heavy pressure in his stomach. He could feel the trace of Jungkook’s teeth on his skin, grazing and sharp, biting into the flesh of his neck.
It was a lot. It was too much. Jungkook’s hands were gripping, his teeth were nipping.
Jimin felt Jungkook’s hand wander lower and away, inching towards the side of his hips. His own hands grasped onto Jungkook’s chest. Jungkook was only wearing a thin shirt and Jimin could feel everything through it- he could feel the definition of Jungkook’s chest, hard and sturdy beneath his fingertips, he could feel Jungkook’s muscles contracting and distending. He followed along the ridges and brushed against Jungkook’s nipples, rock hard and prominent through his shirt.
He nearly pulled his hands away but Jungkook moaned and grabbed his ass, squeezing his cheeks. It was almost painful but everywhere else Jimin was caught in the peak of the same pain- on his ass, on his neck, the phantom touch on his waist.
It was almost like Jungkook was angry- and he was pouring it into Jimin.
He whimpered, twisting Jungkook’s shirt into a swirl. He felt numb. He felt- the pain go through his nerves and somehow morph into pleasure in his brain. Because that was what made him latch on. Pleasure- pleasure that sent his head spinning.
Jungkook was the one this time to pull away. But not too far. He was still holding onto Jimin, still close and still surrounding him. The saliva on Jimin’s neck was drying up rapidly and Jungkook was exhaling into the crook of his neck. The cool brush of air was electric.
Jungkook righted them slowly.
Jimin was in a daze. He didn’t know what he’d been doing. He didn’t know what he had to be doing.
Jungkook nudged him out of the alcove. Just before turning the corner he glanced back at Jungkook, taking him in from a distance. Jungkook was panting, his fist clenching and unclenching. The veins in his neck and his forearms were protruding.
And his face. He was looking after Jimin with a pained expression- but it didn’t make sense to Jimin. It barely registered in his head. All he saw was that Jungkook’s cheeks were rosy and his lips were swollen.
He tripped out into the hallway and heard footsteps in the living room.
He rushed to the kitchen in a panic, hands flying to set the kettle on boil while blindly grabing at a random tea sachet. While waiting for the kettle, he took a swig of ice water from the fridge. It wasn’t nearly enough of a wake up call.
When the water was done, he poured it into the mug and let the teabag steep for a minute. By then vapours were rising and he could smell that he’d chosen green tea. Just as well, green tea was calming. He stood there over the mug and inhaled the aroma to clear his head.
He stumbled back into the living room. He didn’t even know how long he’d been gone. Susan was up from her seat and studying the pictures on the wall- pictures of him and Jungkook all lovey-dovey. Jimin couldn’t look at them without feeling flustered. He set the mug on the coffee table just as Susan turned around to face him.
“Sorry,” Jimin started, “I just got caught up in um-”
“Oh my!” Susan choked out, raising her hand to point at Jimin’s neck. Confused, Jimin tried to look down but saw nothing. “Well, I guess that explains it,” she said, igniting Jimin’s curiosity
Jimin walked to the mirror in the corner and nearly fainted. Jungkook had left a bruise the size of Africa just above his collarbone. It was a mangy red and stood stark on his skin, skin that was bitten raw. In not so many words, Jungkook had eaten him.
Jimin was so embarrassed, he was at a loss for words for a whole minute. “I’m so sorry,” he finally said. “Jungkook just came back... through the back door, he was out for a run. Oh my goodness, I’m really sorry.”
Susan started laughing. “Nonsense, nonsense, nothing to apologise for. I completely understand how it is. Young love, ah-”
Jimin blushed and resumed his position on the sofa opposite Susan.
“I remember when Jan and I were just married, no one could stand being near us. We were so openly in love,” she said with a faraway look on her face.
“And now?” Jimin prodded, desperate to get back into the conversation. He willed Jungkook out of his mind with all his might.
She smiled into her mug. “Now we’re just as in love but Jan... has obligations. Work makes him travel a lot. And I’m often by myself. It’s lonely sometimes, but it is what it is.”
Seeing his chance, Jimin jumped in immediately. “So what does he do? Sounds like an exciting job, travelling around.”
“Oh he used to be an engineer. But he has a love for cars. I guess you can say he got hired by the right company at the right time and he rose up the ranks very quickly. He’s a salesman for rare car parts, for automobile production companies. So he has to visit them to consult and handle the bargaining between sellers and buyers.”
“How exciting!” Jimin replied, faking the cheer in his voice.
“It truly is! I used to travel with him. He’d go off to do his work and I would walk around these foreign cities till dusk.”
“I’ve always wanted to travel. But, Jungkook and I, we’ve been saving for a house of our own and we’re now low on funds. But I would love to, some day. Where have you been?”
“And it’s a lovely house you’ve bought. I’m so glad to have you as my neighbour!” Susan fawned. “Oh let’s see now, we’ve been to Germany many times, that’s where the parent company is,” she counted slowly on her fingers “-then there was France and Ukraine, and an anniversary gift to Japan.”
“Wow Susan, that must have been a treat! Such scenic countries!”
Susan laughed. “But that was a long time ago. I have Jason now, and I absolutely don’t want to leave him on his own.”
“That’s very responsible of you.”
The smile on her face dimmed. “Things change when you get older. And you have to step up. You have to sacrifice some things. Compromise. And sometimes- sometimes you have to give in, for the sake of your family. Even if you miss the good old days, you have to remember that now is important. That you have a child that needs a family- and sometimes, sometimes you just have to suck it up and move on.” Susan was staring into her half-drunk tea, her fingertips going white with how hard she was gripping the rim.
Jimin could tell that they were crossing into something more personal. He leaned forward, lowering the volume of his voice and gentling his tone. “Susan, is everything okay?”
Susan stared at him.
“Yes, yes, I’m just- just getting sentimental now. Everything’s fine. Everything is in shipshape.”
Jimin relaxed his stance, trying to make himself seem more approachable. “I know we don’t have the same experiences. But I’m here if you’d like to talk, if you need to vent or discuss. I’m always here to lend an ear.”
He got up and went to sit beside Susan. He removed the mug out of her grasp, placing it on the table and held onto her hands. “Whatever you need. You’ve been kind to me. Me and Jungkook both. And I know it’s too soon to say but I feel like I know you so well already. You’re a good woman Susan, a good wife and mother. And I respect you for it.”
He saw tears pricking at the corners of her eyes, and he clasped her hands tighter.
“That’s- that’s very nice of you to say Jimin. I- I needed to hear that I think. I’ve just been running the house all by myself and he’s just gone a lot, you know. For the past month he’s been at home for three days- three days. It’s just stressful.”
“I understand, I understand.” Jimin pulled her into a side hug, rubbing his hand up and down her back. He felt sorry for her. She seemed like a regular person who just married the wrong man and who’s now caught in a huge tangle of mess.
Kookie jumped onto the settee and yipped at them, walking over Jimin’s lap and onto Susan’s. She laughed and petted its head. “He’s such a good dog. You’re a good person too, Jimin. Thank you for listening to me whining. I honestly feel better now. I think I just needed to let it out.”
“It’s no problem, no problem at all.”
She carried Kookie and set him down on the other side, standing up and fixing her blouse. She sniffed a few times and dabbed her eyes with the back of her hands. “I really should go now. I still have things to do at home.”
“Of course, let me walk you to the door.” He stood after her and followed her out. She stopped at the entrance, before turning around quickly and saying, “I hope you don’t mind me saying this, but I would like to keep this in between us. It’s just something close to my heart, you see, and I’m not comfortable with other people knowing of my... troubles.
Jimin mimed zipping his mouth and turning a key, grinning at her. “My lips are sealed, Susan. You have nothing to fear. Just know that you can come to me, whenever. And I’ll do my best to assist.”
She gave him one last smile and turned on her heels.
Day 59 12.30 pm
Hiding : The action of concealing someone or something - the state of being hidden
On his desk : Thai takeaway condensing in its plastic bag
Hunger : Possibly manifesting. Stomach had been... acting up.
He’d shut himself in his room. He hadn’t even updated Jungkook yet.
Jungkook Jungkook Jungkook.
He’d gone from pretending Jungkook never existed weeks and weeks ago to now saying his name in his head multiple times in a row.
He screamed into his pillow until he was almost blue from being out of breath.
Outside, the lawnmower revved up. It was a decrepit old thing Jungkook had borrowed early in the morning from Agnes. Jimin didn’t even want to know what lengths Jungkook had gone through to obtain it. He possibly sat through stories of cousins and cousins of cousins.
He picked up his chopsticks and tore through the pad thai Jungkook had bought.
His window was half open and he brought his polystyrene container in hand as he looked out. Jungkook was mowing the lawn, just as he said he would. And he was whistling something- a melody Jimin couldn’t recognise but it sounded sweet to his ears. Something that reminded him of nursery rhymes.
Jungkook was a surprisingly good mower. He handled the machine like a professional- smoothly and with ease even though it was spitting out smoke like an ancient chimney.
He turned his attention back to his food. His heart skipped a beat when he flipped it around.
Pad thai always came with peanuts but there were no peanuts. There were no peanuts and he had a peanut allergy. He had a peanut allergy and no one should have known.
He glanced up through the window and scooted out of the way immediately with his back to the wall.
Jungkook had been looking right at him.
Day 59 8.30 pm
Looking through : Binoculars
Static : Pretty bad
Debating : Whether to call Jungkook to check on the system
He finally found Susan through his binoculars. He zeroed in on her hand and realised she wasn’t wearing her watch. Which was disastrous. She was talking with her husband and they were losing all audio evidence.
He relented and decided to call Jungkook in. They needed to come up with a new plan.
Day 59 8.30 pm
Socks : Wasn’t aware Jungkook wore them in the house. They looked fuzzy.
Jungkook’s presence : Apparent. Very apparent. Like a- mountain. Mount Himalaya. Highest point in the world.
He stood quietly in a corner while Jungkook went through the checks. It looked like everything was in order. And Jungkook soon confirmed it.
“It’s not on our end. She could have left her watch next to a radio. The old kind- the one with an antenna. The signals might be clashing. We’re probably running on the same frequency, or the frequencies are close enough that they’re bouncing off of each other. There’s nothing we can do about it.”
Jimin made a moue of disappointment.
Jungkook chuckled and Jimin looked to him in a frown. “What’s so funny?”
“You,” he answered mysteriously.
Jimin rolled his eyes but ignored the jab. He would probably embarrass himself anyway if he addressed it. “So what now? We need to tack on a new recorder. Now more than ever since Jan is in the house.”
“How about tomorrow afternoon? I have lessons with Jason. I can fix one in.”
Jungkook leaned back, foot propped against the wall. “Yeah. Yeah okay. But not immediately. You should go in that first time and scour for a good spot. We’ll put in a bigger device, so that it can hold its own frequency without interference. We need somewhere with a good view and somewhere it can still stay relatively hidden.”
“Okay. So I’ll fix it in during my second lesson then. I don’t know when that’ll be though. I can try to suggest the day after...?”
“No need. We’ll do it in the evening.”
Sliding onto an empty desk, Jimin asked, “Evening? Which evening?”
“Tomorrow,” Jungkook said, looking amused.
“What do you mean?”
“I talked to Jan. It worked. He heard the song I was singing when he was on the way out. He asked how I knew it and I said my grandma sang it to me when I was little. I let slip she was German. And he invited me- us over. For tea.”
Jimin gaped at him. That was monumental. He couldn’t believe Jungkook had kept the news to himself for hours. “And when were you planning on telling me? Tomorrow? When it was tea time? Or were you going to go alone?”
“You’re so easy to rile up,” Jungkook huffed. “Look at you all ready to pounce on me. Chill, okay, don’t get your panties into a twist.”
To his chagrin, Jimin felt his face heating up. “Do you really have to say it like that?”
“Like I said,” Jungkook smirked cockily. “-easy peasy lemon squeasy.”
He felt nervous being in the same room as Jungkook. It was like his brain couldn’t really function and was honing in on random things- like how the lights on the processor were blinking, or how there was a sauce stain on the floor, or how Jungkook’s hair looked very fluffy and wavy when it was freshly washed.
He cleared his throat.
“So I go in for my lesson in the afternoon and you come by right after. We put in the device and we’re done.”
“Yeah,” Jungkook said. “What about you? What did you get from Susan?”
“He’s a salesman for rare car parts. And he’s been in and out of Germany the most. She mentioned France and Ukraine too.”
“Alright, I’ll send the information over to Kareena, give the team an update. Are you going to keep watching them?”
Jimin glanced over to his right where the windows were. The blinds in this room were perpetually drawn so he only saw white slats covering the entire length of the wall. “Why not,” Jimin said. “I can read lips so might as well keep watching. The only problem would be when they get out of view.”
“You read lips?” Jungkook asked curiously.
“Hmm, seemed like a good idea to learn. I guess it was.”
“What am I saying now?”
Jungkook moved his mouth slowly, biting and licking his lips in between. They gleamed under the fluorescent light in the room. He was exaggerating the pronunciation and Jimin had to really concentrate to sound the word out to himself.
Jungkook was doing it deliberately, that was pretty obvious, trying to throw Jimin off. And it was working, to an extent. Jimin almost didn’t catch him. Jungkook’s lips were covered in spit and it was ridiculously distracting.
“Well, if you spoke aloud, you’d sound like an idiot, Mr. Abacadabra.”
Jungkook laughed. “You’re good. I wasn’t even being serious.”
“I know I’m good.” Jimin scoffed. He picked up the binoculars on his far left and hopped over the desk. “Bye Jungkook, you can leave now.”
He lifted the binoculars up to his eyes and looked out through the blinds. There was no one there but he kept the act up anyway. He was feeling hot and weird and he just wanted Jungkook out of the room.
There was some movement and shuffling behind him, then the sound of the door closing softly. Jimin put the binoculars down and sighed. He raised his hand to rub his chest but accidentally brushed against the hickey Jungkook had left on him. He prodded it carefully around the edges. It stung.
If he closed his eyes he could still see the way Jungkook had looked at him, the way Jungkook had held him, and- kissed him. He could see it so clearly to the point he was reliving it.
He shuddered and opened his eyes, his fingers still skating around the bruise. He wondered how long it would take to fade.
Day 60 1.55 pm
Certificates : Forged and arranged alphabetically into a file.
Door : Opened by Jan Anderson
Jimin had to hold his breath at his first sight of Jan. That grainy picture Chris had put up in the office had nothing on the real living breathing Jan.
He really did have a cut along his left eyebrow- now a scar- with raised skin and a distinct line in which the hairs that made up his eyebrow didn’t grow back. He had shoulder length hair tied back into a ponytail. He had long legs- disproportionate to the rest of his body- especially apparent with his shirt tucked into his trousers. And he wasn’t exactly heavyset, but he was tall- more than six feet.
Jimin had called Jungkook intimidating before, because he was built and imposing and he was always looming and hunkering about. Jungkook would have looked like a spring bunny next to Jan.
Jan had a lisp when he spoke, and a slight accent- it was weird, and indistinct- it definitely wasn’t American. Jimin couldn’t really place it and it put him on edge.
Jan greeted him and gestured him into the house. Even without facing him, Jimin could feel Jan’s stare boring into the back of his head. He felt his muscles tighten- they way they did when he was gearing up for an attack. But he forced himself to relax.
Jason was already in the hall. There was a small corner set up- a plastic table and plastic chairs. Along the wall there were shelves full of books- most of them with bright colourful covers. Jason smiled when he saw Jimin coming in and Jimin smiled back.
Jan led him to the table. There were three chairs in place- Jimin took one and Jason took another. Jan stood behind Jason silently. Jimin held himself from glancing around. He didn’t want to come off as a nosy neighbour. Instead, he took out his documents and signed to Jason, asking him how he'd been and what he was doing earlier in the day.
When Susan came, blustering and carrying a tray of drinks, Jimin stood up to greet her too. She waved him back into the chair and took her own seat.
“Ah, are these your certifications?” Susan asked, gathering his papers and looking through them. He had only a few- proof of completion of his courses and documents to show his eligibility to teach, and a letter of recommendation from an actual headmaster they’d sought help from.
She took her time inspecting them while Jimin sat quietly and when she was done, she nodded to her husband.
“We thank you for your help, Jimin,” he said, with his hands behind his back.
“It’s my pleasure. Thank you for having me,” Jimin replied, equally as formal.
Jan left the room and Jimin exhaled loudly. Susan chuckled.
“He’s a very stoic man, my husband. He can come off as unfriendly, sometimes, but he’s just used to not showing much emotion. Now, especially, with the amount of stress he’s under.”
“What do you mean?” Jimin asked quietly.
“Just work stuff. His company is expanding. And they’ll be opening up in five locations all at once- and Jan has to coordinate everything.”
“Five locations! That’s huge. He must be really tired. Where will the new branches be?” He tried to keep from sounding too interested, to make it seem like he was asking only for the sake of continuing their conversation.
“Oh, let me see. NYC, Chicago and LA. Was it San Diego too? Yes I think so... and Phoenix.”
He couldn't help but notice how they were some of the busiest cities in the country. That had to be more than fifteen million people cumulatively. It was not looking good.
“Oh wow, they’re really going all out then! Those are really big cities! Will there be a grand opening of some sort?”
Susan grinned mischievously. “I have inside information- since I had to get my gown sorted out in time, but there’ll be an event soon, and Jan will be making some announcements. It’s all very exciting.”
She didn’t exactly reveal anything and Jimin found himself itching with curiosity. If she was getting fitted, then she had to be attending some sort of formal event. He and Jungkook really needed to get in on it. Just when he was going to pry into it further, Susan started talking about Jason’s lessons again. He couldn’t redirect the conversation back to Jan without starting to sound suspicious so he let it go for the time being.
Day 60 4.15 pm
Teaching : Was exhausting
Jason was a good kid. He was attentive and he was really enthusiastic about learning. Jimin felt bad about being a fraud. If he really did have the qualifications, he would have loved to teach Jason properly. But there wasn’t much he could do- he had the knowledge of course, about words and phrases and how to sign them. It was that he wasn’t a teacher. A person could be completely fluent in a certain language or subject yet not be able to explain it well.
So he settled on just talking to Jason, getting to know him and simultaneously throwing in a few short-cut signs that Jason quickly picked up on.
If Susan wasn’t in his line of sight, he would have forgotten she was sitting there. She was quiet throughout, fiddling with her phone and occasionally going off somewhere, but she would never leave them longer than a couple of minutes.
When they were done, she accompanied Jason to his room. She was probably going to ask her son how he felt about the tutoring. It had gone alright so Jimin wasn’t worried about it.
He was finally alone, and he took the opportunity to get his fill of the living area. It was a large space. They’d obviously renovated, since it was much bigger than his house next door, and this house had a lot less walls. There were some photos on the wall- family pictures, and pictures filled with unrecognizable faces, maybe friends or extended family.
On the other wall there was a huge flat screen TV and what looked like a Hi-Fi system attached. The sofas were sleek and leather, the coffee table seemed like it was made from pink ivory wood and there were glass ornaments arranged along one corner. Everything in the house screamed luxury.
He couldn’t put the recorder anywhere near the table. There was a risk of someone knocking into it and detaching the recorder right off. And he couldn’t put it anywhere near the television either or else that would be the only sound it’d pick up. It had to be somewhere on the wall- somewhere on the photo frames.
There were two frames particularly that were next to each other, overlapped in a way that created a small space confined by the edges. It offered good support on all four sides and looked like the best space for the recorder to be fitted inconspicuously.
He was eyeing the wall when the doorbell rang and there was heavy thumping coming from the stairs. He turned around and watched as Susan crossed the threshold, rushing to the door. Jimin glanced at his watch and assumed it would be Jungkook.
He was right. Susan led Jungkook to him, telling them she’d be right back.
Jungkook pulled him close and kissed him chastely. Jimin blushed and rested his hands on Jungkook’s biceps.
“Found a place?” Jungkook asked softly.
Jimin nodded. His hair brushed against the underside of Jungkook’s chin. “The wall. By the frames. Should we...now?”
“What do you think?” Jungkook asked and Jimin felt like his innards were doing somersaults. Jungkook was only asking for his opinion and he was overreacting like a teenager.
“I thi- think so,” Jimin answered shakily. Don’t know when we’ll be alone... again.”
Jungkook hummed and Jimin felt the vibrations in his own body.
“The frames with the space in between. Middle row on the right,” Jimin explained, trying to redirect his attention. “Baby picture in one and family in the other. I’ll- I’ll go keep a lookout.”
He released his hold on Jungkook and moved to the front of the room, the part that opened up to the rest of the hall. Thankfully, there were a couple of magazines on a floating shelf right in front of him. Jimin took one and flipped through it blindly.
He heard some sounds behind him but didn’t dare turn around. He was nervous- because of Jan, because of Jungkook, because of himself- for having some sort of hormonal reaction to everything that Jungkook was doing to him.
His thoughts were interrupted by a distinct creak. It wasn’t Jungkook, he was absolutely sure of it. He couldn’t see anyone from where he was standing but at the same time he didn’t want to put them in jeopardy.
“I’m a little tired.” Jimin said in a strained voice. He hoped Jungkook understood what he meant. It wasn’t like he could just warn Jungkook openly if someone was approaching them. It was his own fault though. It was a rookie mistake to have not established a code phrase and he had no one to blame but himself.
“We can go home anytime you want, baby.”
Jimin fumbled with his magazine and almost knocked his head on the shelf in an attempt to catch it. He spun around and shot Jungkook a glare. But he was so caught off guard he probably looked less aggressive than he intended to be.
Jungkook was nowhere near the wall of photos. He was instead by the TV cabinet browsing through the DVD’s on display.
That threw him for a loop. Jimin wanted to ask how Jungkook was done so soon. It had only been about a minute and a half. “You’re... ready to go?”
“Whenever you want, baby.”
Jimin flushed scarlet and tromped over to Jungkook, magazine rolled up in his hand. “Shut up,” he hissed. “Don’t call me that!”
“Don’t call you what? Baby? Why not? I mean, if the shoe fits..”
“There’s no shoe fitting. Shut up Jungkook,” Jimin whacked him with the magazine. “I’m not your baby.”
“Well you certainly have tantrums like one,” Jungkook muttered under his breath while rubbing at his arm.
“Say that louder,” Jimin warned scathingly.
“Sorry for taking so long!” Susan bustled in. Jimin hid the magazine behind his back as he turned on his heels to look at her. “I’ve just had to put away some things in Jason’s room. That boy never cleans after himself, I tell you. Well, shall we move on to the dining room? Jan is already there, waiting for us.”
“Oh it’s no trouble at all. We were just admiring your collection,” Jungkook said, gesturing to the cabinet.
Susan walked closer to look at the cupboard herself. “Ah yes, Jan used to be a massive movie geek. Jason’s catching up though. He must have gotten it from his father.”
Jimin hummed, trying to straighten the magazine he held.
Jungkook placed his hand at the small of Jimin’s back, ironing the book out against his spine. They were standing next to each other, so to anyone watching them, there was probably nothing to notice. A good thing too because Jimin was squirming, feeling itchy and ticklish both at once.
Susan motioned them to follow after her. Jungkook kept his hand on him until they passed the floating shelf, and then he plucked the magazine out of Jimin’s grip and smoothly placed it back where it belonged.
Jimin walked the rest of the way with butterflies swarming in his head and stomach.
Day 60 4.30 pm
Teapot : Cute
Cakes : Fruit (Ew raisins)
Jan : Quite possibly the king of poker faces
Jungkook pulled out Jimin’s chair and waited till he was seated before going over to his own. Jimin felt incredibly warm even though he was wearing a thin pair of trousers and an equally thin shirt. It wasn’t until he looked up at the faces around the table that he realised he had a small smile on his lips, which he quickly subdued. Though not before catching Jungkook’s eye- and his own lopsided grin.
Jimin cleared his throat and turned to Susan. In clockwise direction, Susan was to his left, then Jan, and then Jungkook. And Jimin was on Jungkook’s left. It was a surprisingly small dining table but with only three people in the house, and with Jan constantly away from home, a small table probably suited just fine.
“This is a lovely spread, Susan, thank you again, for having us.”
Susan rubbed her palms together. “Well if thanks are underway, I guess we should thank my husband for suggesting this casual get-together.”
Jan remained stoic and raised his brows unevenly. It was awkward enough that Jan was keeping silent, but he was also looking at Jungkook, and Jungkook only. Jimin tapped Jungkook’s foot underneath the table, hoping he’d do something about it.
“Thank you, Jan.” Jungkook said immediately.
Jan nodded and poured himself some coffee.
Susan got up and distributed the cake, talking about her dog, and asking after Jimin’s. He could hear Jan and Jungkook having a conversation of their own and even though they were sitting at the very same table, it was like there was a divider separating Jimin and Susan from Jungkook and Jan.
He felt annoyed, not just because he felt side-lined and excluded from the real reason they even accepted the invitation. He was embarrassed enough as a guest, and he couldn’t even imagine how humiliated Susan might have felt. She played her part well with her sweet smiles and easy conversation but she gripped her fork hard and sometimes her eyes would rest momentarily on Jan, as if she was waiting for him to notice her.
He couldn’t help but feel irritated towards Jungkook as well, for going on with the whole charade. Surely he couldn’t be so oblivious so as to not see how rude Jan was being. But Jungkook carried on like there was no problem at all. And seeing that the last thing on earth he wanted to do was draw untoward attention, Jimin reeled in his feelings and brought up the shelter, hoping to keep Susan engaged.
As he chatted, he kept an ear out for Jungkook’s conversation. It was apparent that Jan had taken a great interest in him. He asked after Jungkook’s upbringing, which under normal circumstances would have been extremely infringing. He had to give Jungkook props though, he did well to appear uneasy yet forthcoming.
Upbringing turned into religious affiliations and that brought up political discussions. Jan was discreet, but Jimin had the advantage of knowing his background. It was easy to pick up on his radical ideas. Jan was just beginning to speak on a new ruling in Romania- something about the governing body passing a bill that would enable them to apprehend individuals suspected of sedition when he switched to German without warning.
He wanted to look up, and he very nearly did, but Jungkook’s hand was on his thigh immediately, pressing and cautioning him to remain unassuming. Jimin refocused his attention on Susan. She was recounting a recent visit to the shelter and how many more dogs there were since he’d been. He wondered if she realised the two people next to them were conversing in a different language all together.
Day 60 7.10 pm
Jungkook : Closing the curtains and peeking through the windows
There was only the sounds of the curtains sliding against the rods before Jimin decided Jungkook was behaving quite oddly.
“You look paranoid.”
Jungkook didn’t say anything back but went to each window only to look out, turn the latch and draw the curtains. When he was done with the bottom floor, he went up the stairs and continued in every room. Jimin trailed after him with a confused frown.
“Jungkook, you’re making me nervous. What’s going on? What are you doing?”
They were standing in the master bedroom now, the room Jungkook had been using. There were clothes strewn across the floor, rolled up paper scattered here and there and his bed was unmade. At least Jungkook was consistent on that front. His desk at work was just as messy.
With the last of the curtains drawn, Jungkook turned around and leaned back against the wall.
“You were right about the weapons. About him going to Germany. He was there to procure them,” Jungkook said in a rush.
Jimin sat down on the nearest surface, which so happened to be Jungkook’s bed. “What? How do you know this?”
Jungkook closed his eyes and tilted his head upwards. “When he went to take the call. I said I needed to use the washroom but really I followed him. He was finalising the shipment. That’s what the cult is for. It’s not really a cult. It was never about the cult. It’s an underground web for illegal arms.”
“Buying and purchasing weapons, that’s what Jan does.”
“No. Our inside man. Didn’t he confirm it was a cult? He said it was. Jungkook? I don’t understand?”
Jungkook pushed himself off the wall and made his way to Jimin, sitting next to him on the bed. “Jimin. I don’t really know at this point. We were under the impression there was preaching, some sort of round table discussion of all these farfetched ideas that Jan had. But I just heard him say that he expected the men to be ready when the shipment reached. And he mentioned the names we thought were part of the cult. Don’t you see Jimin?”
“So maybe they’re a different group? Maybe the cult is a front for arms dealing. That doesn’t mean anything, okay yes, it does, but I don’t see why you’re closing all our curtains locking our windows.”
“Think about it though. This inside man of ours has been feeding us what kind of information? Substantial, groundbreaking stuff? No. He’s dropped a few names and that’s it. Nothing for months. Zilch. And he was sent in with the sole purpose of infiltrating their ranks. I know Chris said he meant for us to be doing the same, but don’t tell me he hadn’t gotten close enough to know about the weapons. Not when we've caught wind of it within a couple of days.”
“What are you saying, Jungkook?”
Jungkook sighed, taking in a drawn breath. “I’m saying something is fishy. Maybe I went a little ham with the curtains but something’s not right. Either our confidant is so out of the loop that he has no idea what’s going on, and that makes him absolutely shitty at his job so why was he selected? Or...”
Jimin caught the look on Jungkook’s face, grave and stubborn, his jaw clenching and his cheeks hollow. The notion came to him like a barreling truck and Jimin sucked in a desperate breath. “Or there is no inside man.”
Day 61 8:11 am
Yoga mat : Padded royal blue
Muscles : Strained but feeling good
Pin drop silence : Just what he needed
It was his mother who actually got him hooked on yoga. When she finished high school, she packed her bags and trapesed across the world. She fell in love with India at first sight. She had all sorts of funny stories to tell Jimin. They were his favourites, growing up.
His father died when Jimin was very young, and he wasn’t the kindest towards his mother. She shielded him from the worst of it but memories were funny in that sense. What he wanted to forget, he remembered, and sometimes what he needed to remember, he forgot.
When Jimin was younger, he started getting into trouble and his mother forced him to accompany her during her meditation sessions. Asanas, she would call them- poses- that forced his body into awkward positions. Not her though- she was as fluid as water and as strong as a deep rooted tree. He hated them at first. It felt like a joke when she insisted he could learn to keep calm when he was sweating bullets trying to bend his legs backwards.
But moms were moms. And somehow, moms were always right.
Yoga kept his mind clear- held him together when the world was spinning out of control. And after last night, it certainly felt like it. When Jimin finally walked into his bedroom it was so late he crashed and conked right out.
Up until the wee hours of the morning, Jungkook detailed the entire conversation he overheard. And they ended up spending several more hours trying to break it down from every angle they could think of.
First was the matter of the cult. They had several names that were given to them by their inside man. These were the people they had under surveillance. For the longest time, their intelligence proved worthless. They had these names, they had the knowledge that acts of terror had been orchestrated by the group they belonged to, and that was about it. It took months for them to even catch wind of Jan Anderson, and even then, it wasn’t their inside man who had revealed the information leading up to that meeting in France. It was investigations conducted by Jimin and Jungkook, and the rest of their team.
It stood to reason, now more than ever that their inside man was more of an outside man. Or, if Jungkook’s suspicions were to go by, their inside man wasn’t really working with them, but rather against. It paid to be cautious in their line of work, but jumping to conclusions was even more dangerous. They wouldn’t be able to work if they were suspicious of everyone. That doubt had to remain on the backburner for now.
Jimin stretched out on his mat, with his stomach flat on the ground. He counted to three and raised his arms, flexing his back into a cobra.
There was also the matter of the weapons being bought. When Susan had listed out those cities, something in him knew immediately that it was wrong. They were some of the most populated cities in America and that was no coincidence. It didn’t take much to connect the dots from Jan’s purchasing of weapons to the selection of those cities. And the opening of these new branches most definitely meant parties attended en masse.
Jimin got up onto his feet and bent at his hips, touching the mat with one hand and lifting the other to the ceiling, feet opened wide into the triangle pose. He held it for a minute, feeling his muscles burn and simultaneously relax.
Jungkook was still dubious as to the extent of Susan’s involvement. They argued about it. Jimin was sure she was an innocent party in this entire operation but Jungkook just wouldn’t let it go. Jimin had gotten so annoyed that he had yelled at Jungkook.
“If you could just spend time talking to her, Jungkook, if you just stopped for a moment to just see how she’s living with that- that man in the house-”
“Talk to her? Jimin,” Jungkook looked at him with worry and shook his head. “We’re not here to make friends or talk to people. We’re just supposed to get the information we need and lock them away.”
“Lock away the right people,” Jimin emphasised. “But Susan, she’s innocent. She’s a trophy wife at most. If anything, he’s using her to appear more... I don’t know, normal? More humane? He’s using her, Jungkook. I swear she’s innocent.”
“Why are you being so stubborn about this? If you say she’s innocent, fine. Evidence will tell. Interviews would tell.”
Jimin scoffed. “Interviews? With whom? Jan? Yeah right, he’d throw her under the bus right away. She’s got no one, Jungkook. She sits in that house day in, day out and waits on him hand and foot. And for what? He’s so fucking rude to her. It’s abuse. It’s plain abusive behaviour. I can’t even- the way- she’s wilting in that house. Every decision goes through him, every request, every option. He’s tyrannical.”
When morning came, Jimin felt a lot calmer. He understood Jungkook’s practical approach, he really did. But some things couldn’t be proven with physical evidence, not when there was so much subjectivity involved. And that was what Jimin feared, that Susan would be dragged to hell simply because she lived in the same house as that evil man. And Jimin had plenty of personal experience to go off on.
He moved one foot back and dropped his arm to the ground, stretching his hamstrings while pushing on his hands into downward facing dog. It felt like he was releasing all the tension in his body. He pushed his hips higher, tightening his waist, bending his back even lower. Stretching sometimes felt like walking on a tightrope. It felt like he was floating in the clouds with a very clear path ahead of him.
A strangled groan interrupted his concentration and Jimin looked up. Jungkook was standing some distance away, mouth agape and eyes wide.
Jimin had woken up and brought his mat to the living room hastily, needing to let off steam. He was still only in his boxers and shirt. And with the pose he was in, he knew his boxers had ridden up.
He dropped to the floor and rolled onto his back. It was embarrassing and now that he could see Jungkook properly, he wasn’t the only one blushing. But Jungkook had no reservations about seeking his gaze. Every second that Jungkook looked at him, Jimin felt himself growing nervous and sweaty. He felt it on his palms and his neck, all the way down to his thighs.
Jungkook’s eyes were magnetic. They drew him in and held him in place. Jimin pushed himself up onto his elbows, intending to get up or look away, or something- anything to break this spell he was caught in.
Before he could, Jungkook started walking towards him. His sock clad feet muted his footsteps. It felt almost like a ticking time bomb, the tension between them coming alive and racking up in intensity.
Standing to his right, Jungkook looked like a giant. His shirt fluttered with the light breeze coming from the indoor garden and Jimin caught glimpses of Jungkook’s abs. He felt his flush travel down his neck, down to his chest. Why did everything to do with Jungkook make his head spin? Why did he feel so breathless?
Jungkook stepped over his body, one foot on either side of him, and lowered to his knees. He pulled the cuff of his sweater over his fingers and raised his hand to Jimin’s face.
Jimin could hear his own breaths getting louder, short of a moan but desperate all the same. He found Jungkook’s eyes again, waiting for him- to make a move? To smother him? He didn’t know. But he imagined he would let Jungkook do it anyway- whatever it was. If Jungkook were to kiss him, he would let him, and what’s more, Jimin imagined he would kiss Jungkook back.
Alas, Jungkook didn’t kiss him. He dabbed his sweater on Jimin’s forehead, and said, “You’re sweating.”
“I know.” Jimin said in return.
He felt another bead of sweat roll down his temple, and Jungkook caught it with his sleeve as well. “You’re going to kill me Jimin,” Jungkook added softly.
“Why? Because I’m sweating?”
“Whether you sweat or not, you’re going to kill me someday.”
“It won’t be intentional.”
“Hmm?” Jungkook’s left hand went to the back of his neck, bracing Jimin while Jungkook dabbed along his hairline.
The entire conversation had gotten away from Jimin. He had no idea what they were talking about- if Jungkook was trying to say something or if this was all just mindless chatter because they’d been stuck with each other for hours and days and they’ve truly gone mad.
“I won’t intentionally kill you.”
“I think you might.” Jungkook’s voice was hushed and squeezed, the way Jimin sometimes sounded when he was holding back.
He followed the shape of Jungkook’s nose and the way it rounded just at the tip, and the dimples that appeared on the corners of his mouth when he pursed his lips. He’d never focused on Jungkook’s features before, and it was only now that he noticed the mole on the bottom of Jungkook’s lip, and one on the underside of his nose. He had more on his cheeks as well. He had a lot of moles.
Jimin had lots too. And Jungkook had pointed them out once. But Jungkook had forgotten all about that night. Jimin sometimes wished he did too. Sometimes it sucked to be the only one remembering a moment, especially when it wouldn’t leave him in peace and had him staying up in bed wondering what if.
“There, not so sweaty anymore.”
Jimin’s heart stuttered in his chest when he looked into Jungkook’s eyes again. He didn’t know if he was the one who was leaning forward or if Jungkook was the one to make the subtle move, but they were definitely a lot closer to each other. He could feel each of Jungkook’s exhales hitting his face in faint gusts.
There was a heaviness in his stomach, a heaviness that made Jimin tilt his head and part his lips. He felt the vibration of his heartbeat once, twice and his eyelids dipped down. He dug his nails into his mat, waiting, wishing, hoping-
The sharp piercing sound of an incoming call brought him out of his reverie. But the buzz in his head remained. He opened his eyes slowly and saw that Jungkook was leaning over him, licking his lips. He thought he might have recognised the look on his face, the same look he was wearing on his own.
“It’s your phone,” Jimin muttered.
He watched the way Jungkook’s lips barely moved as he spoke, and how his tongue was caught between his teeth. He watched those lips turn up lopsidedly and it took him a while to figure out why.
When he refocused his gaze, Jungkook was smirking at him, his phone still blaring in the background.
“Shut up,” Jimin snapped, and fell back onto his mat. He couldn’t believe he got caught checking Jungkook out.
“Hey, I didn’t say a thing.”
“You were going to. And even if you weren’t you don’t have to smile like that.”
“You don’t have to stare at my smile, how about that?” Jungkook chuckled and stood up. He pulled his phone out of his pocket, reading the display.
“No, I don’t want to hear anything about this. Spare me. Please.”
“Should I? Should I not?” Jungkook teased, holding out his other hand to Jimin.
“I said please, didn’t I? That has to count for something.” He took Jungkook’s hand and was pulled to his feet. He blamed inertia for throwing him right into Jungkook’s chest, because the alternative would be that Jungkook had done it on purpose- and that would send Jimin’s heart into a frenzy.
Jungkook looped his arm around Jimin’s waist, pulling him closer. “I’ll think about it. It’ll be my secret weapon. When you’re being stubborn I’ll bring it up so that you’ll change your mind.”
Jimin shook his head. Jungkook's playfulness was infectious. “That’s underhanded, a dirty tactic.”
Jungkook was silent for a moment, with a hint of a grin and his eyes especially bright. It was a fond smile, the kind of smile someone would give their pet when it did something silly, or the kind of smile reserved for a special someone. It had a swarm of butterflies fluttering wildly in Jimin’s tummy.
“A necessity for a married couple. And it made you laugh. I’d say it’s working already.”
Jimin felt his flush traveling to his toes. At this rate he expected to remain red for the entirety of his life. He ducked his head, fingers fidgeting at the hem of his shirt. His knees felt weak. And he wondered if Jungkook realised the only reason he was standing upright was because of Jungkook’s arm around his waist.
Jungkook’s phone had stopped ringing, but started again within a few seconds. Jimin cleared his throat and lifted his chin in askance. “Who’s that?”
“Why are you asking?” Jungkook asked amusedly.
“I don’t know,” Jimin said, eyes fleeting back and forth, “-looks like they really need to talk to you.”
“Are you jealous?”
“ No,” Jimin replied loudly. He rolled his eyes internally, because that absolutely sounded like a yes. “I mean, no, I’m not. Why would I be anyway?”
“Hmm, no reason. It’s someone from the team, if you must know.”
Jimin froze. He thought he’d been playing with his shirt but when he looked down it was Jungkook’s. And Jungkook had to know he’d been doing it. “I-I’m...” Someone from the team, Jungkook had said. “Is it Hanna? What does she want?”
“Do you really want to know?” He felt Jungkook’s fingers twitch around his hips, gripping him tighter.
“Which is it?” Jungkook murmured.
“I don’t know.” His fingers brushed along the waistband of Jungkook’s sweats. He heard Jungkook inhale in a hiccup, air rustling through his mouth. He hadn’t meant to do it, it was as if his fingers had a mind of their own.
He drew his hand back but Jungkook’s other hand immediately grabbed his. “You do know, Jimin, you just have to say it.”
He thought he might. He knew what his body wanted but he was scared. Of being nowhere near enough, of rejection, of being a disappointment. Of being a second choice, of being ordinary and mundane and not being able to measure up to those who might be better. He pulled his hand out of Jungkook’s grasp slowly, feeling horrible and guilty a at the same time relieved that he could keep his cluttered feelings to himself just a little longer.
“I’m sorry, Jungkook, I- I’m... sorry.” A flood of deprecating thoughts swept through him and there was a twinge of pain in his chest, a dull drumming at first but it suddenly felt sharp and suffocating. He pushed Jungkook’s arm down and sidestepped him, making a mad dash for the stairs and up into his room.
He felt like he couldn’t breathe, like his head was getting thick and heavy yet light and cottony. It felt like he was drunk and out of his mind. He slammed his door shut and stumbled to the edge of his bed, throwing his head onto the mattress and fell to the floor.
Breathing was getting difficult. He felt angry at Jungkook, he felt taken by Jungkook, he wanted Jungkook to kiss him, he didn’t want Hanna in the picture, he didn’t like Jungkook, he craved his touch. There were so many conflicting emotions going through him and he felt like they were about to burst out of him. He tried to keep quiet but all it took was one drawn out whimper to release the sobs bubbling in his chest.
It was such a small and simple matter. Teens dealt with flirting and rejections on a near daily basis. He didn’t know why he was taking it so badly. And it wasn’t like Jungkook was forcing him, the cards were on his table. It was just that he was so anxious to deal them.
He wiped his tears away and got onto his bed, hugging a pillow close. He just wanted to wallow in his own sadness for a while. Just until he got his head back on and could carry on with his responsibilities.
Day 63 1:17 pm
Car : Zooming
Back to : Strangers, of sorts
In a stroke of luck, their listening device managed to pick up on the formal get together Susan had mentioned. They passed the information on to Chris and he demanded they drive back immediately to the city.
On one hand, Jimin was glad to get out of the house, and any progress they made in their case was rewarding in itself, but on the other hand, he now had to sit through a two and half hour long drive with Jungkook. In an enclosed space no less, with nowhere to escape.
Often when they had disagreements, Jungkook would either blow up at him or at least say something in retaliation. But this time was different. Jungkook had been surprisingly gentle. He didn’t push, didn’t ask questions. He brought Jimin food during mealtimes- simple dishes he made in their kitchen, or takeout which he left on the outside of Jimin’s door.
They took turns listening in on Jan’s conversations, one after another without stalling for conversation, merely updates. When he spoke to Jimin, Jungkook was never brusque nor impatient. Maybe he was trying to keep things from escalating, but some distant part of Jimin indulged in the idea Jungkook was taking care of him. It was as if Jungkook knew there was too much on Jimin’s plate and he was going the extra length to not make it worse.
It was wishful thinking, of course. As soon as he thought it, he realised he sounded silly. But that was the beauty of daydreaming, they were purely for his own satisfaction.
He’d intended to keep silent during the journey, but one hour in and he was already about to crack. There were words and actions hanging over his head, over Jungkook’s too, probably, and it was slowly nicking away at him.
“What do you think is the plan?” Jimin asked abruptly.
Jungkook startled, one hand on the steering wheel, sleeves rolled up to his elbows. “For the party?”
“Mhm, I suppose Chris called us back for a reason.”
“On short notice, there’s not many options to choose from. He’s probably going to get us in on it.”
Jimin nodded as he turned towards his window, watching other cars streak past. “I think so too.”
He almost blurted some remark about Jungkook seeing Hanna again. Was Jungkook excited? He wondered if he would say the same things to Hanna, the way he said them to Jimin, all intimate and personal. His hands were trembling and he shoved them beneath his thighs.
He didn’t even have the courage to turn on the radio, because he didn’t want Jungkook noticing his tremors. They drove on in silence, Jimin feeling his heart squeeze tighter the closer they got to the city.
Day 63 3.00 pm
Plan : Everyone’s going to the party, apparently
Chris wanted all hands on deck, and that meant all of them were going undercover. He didn’t know what strings Chris pulled to get them all in, since it was a private party- invitation by name only. But if anyone could do it, he supposed it was Chris.
Seeing the headquarters again was like greeting an old friend. He didn’t mind the bird shit as much as he thought he would. Even hiking up the stairs felt like comfort. As soon as they arrived, Chris ushered them in for a briefing.
“Jimin and Jungkook, you’re there by virtue of Jungkook’s tech work. Jungkook I’ve got some new material I need you to go over. Memorise them before the party in case anyone asks you questions.” Chris threw an info packet across the table and it slid to Jungkook. “Jimin, while Jungkook is putting on a show, I need you to be my eyes and ears. Since Jan already knows the both of you, it’ll be easier for you to start up conversations. Who knows, he might have close colleagues mingling about.”
“And if he asks why we’re there?” Jungkook questioned.
“Not to worry. I have verification that Jan didn’t organise the party himself. He’s only briefly aware of who would attend and what not. He’s there to make the announcement about the new branches.”
Jimin nodded, peeking at Jungkook’s notes. Jungkook noticed him leaning over and pushed the notes further left so that Jimin could read along. Jungkook smiled at him softly and Jimin tore his eyes away. He regretted it at once, thinking that Jungkook might take offence.
He heard someone clicking their tongue off to his side and could feel his ears getting warm. He knew it was Hanna. He hadn’t actually stopped to think how he and Jungkook looked like to the rest of the team. When they had last seen each other, Jimin and Jungkook couldn’t even stand to talk to each other. And now-
“And what are we to do, Chris?” Hanna asked without missing a beat.
“Ah, you and Kareena will be going in as waitresses. Since we don’t have much time to flesh out a more thorough background, this is the next best option.”
“No,” Kareena said, chin leaning on her hand. “This is good. As waitresses we would be inconspicuous. No one would pay attention to us, even if we lingered.”
“My thoughts exactly.” Chris snapped his fingers. “Alright, everything is more or less set. Jimin and Jungkook, you need to get your suits ASAP. The girls will help you, they know where to go. Chop chop everybody. We need to be back here, dressed and ready to go in three hours.”
Day 63 3.05 pm
Hanna : Fitted in the tightest black dress and strutting towards Jungkook
Discomfort : Growing
“We should split up- it’ll be faster.” Hanna announced as soon as Chris turned his back. Maybe it would be faster, maybe it wouldn’t- but Jimin knew as well as Hanna did that that wasn’t the reason why she jumped on it.
“What do you suggest?” Jungkook asked.
“Jimin and Kareena could go on their own, and you can come with me. Chris gave us a list of shops to try out. You’re bound to find something that suits you. Kareena?” Hanna’s blonde hair swung in an arc when she faced her co-worker.
“Fine by me,” Kareena shrugged her shoulders. “Is that okay with you Jimin?”
Jimin hummed. There wasn’t anything to object against. But it didn’t stop his stomach from sinking at the thought of Jungkook and Hanna alone for hours, going shopping like a couple- a real couple.
“Is nobody asking if I’m okay with this?” Jungkook interrupted.
Jimin glanced up at Jungkook nervously. Ever since stepping into the building, he’d been trying to distance himself from Jungkook, just that little bit of space, that little bit of a wall. He told himself it was for Jungkook, but really it was for him; to brace himself for this exact moment, in fact, when Hanna and Jungkook reunited and Jimin got pushed to the backseat.
“What do you mean Jungkook?” Hanna asked while tucking her hand behind her ear.
Jungkook was staring at Kareena then at Jimin. It was like they were back to that day when Jimin and Kareena were up on the rooftop and Jungkook had growled at them and stared them down.
“Jimin?” Jungkook beckoned him to the side.
Jimin gave Kareena an apologetic smile and went to where Jungkook stood. Hanna was watching them with a pout and pinched brows.
“What is it?” Jimin whispered.
Jungkook sighed heavily. “Look, I know, things are a little rough right now. You’re keeping something from me, but it’s okay. But let me remind you we’re still undercover and we’re still husbands.”
Jimin raised his brows, confused and annoyed that Jungkook was giving him this talk when he was the one about to go gallivanting around town with Hanna hanging off his arm. “Okay. Got it. And you can do whatever it is you want right? Excellent!”
He didn’t want to listen to Jungkook’s petty excuses so Jimin turned on his heels and scooped up his jacket from his chair and tugged Kareena along.
Day 63 4.00 pm
Tailor : Poking Jimin with needles
Shopping : Coming along
“Okay,” Kareena said from where she sat.
They were in a little boutique that was third on Chris’ list. It was a rather understated place, and the owner was a tiny old man who spoke French in short bursts. When Jimin saw the storefront, he knew immediately that he was getting his suit from here.
“Just let it out Jimin, you’re like a thunder cloud, you know? You’re rolling and gathering all the condensation into this ball of energy and you’re going to rain down hellfire on everyone.”
It took a moment for Kareena’s words to digest and when he got there, Jimin doubled over in laughter. The tailor smacked him on his arm. “ Droit, droit ,” he said and Jimin straightened up promptly, holding one hand to his mouth to contain his giggles.
The tailor pulled his arm down, “ Ne bougez pas, oui? No move.” Jimin apologised as he nodded along. The tailor was a small man, but a small man with needles was terrifying.
“That’s one way to put it, I guess,” he said in answer to Kareena.
Kareena crossed her legs and leaned back on her chair. “So you admit then, that there’s something troubling you?”
Jimin frowned and considered her words. “I wouldn’t call it troubling per say. I just- you know- I’m facing some...things.”
“What things? Feelings?”
Jimin snapped his head up to look at her. Kareena only raised one eyebrow in return. “I’m a woman, Jimin. We can sniff this sort of thing from a mile away. Why do you think Hanna was all over Jungkook earlier?”
“What?” Jimin asked in surprise.
“Oh, come on. I’m sure you noticed. She’s usually a little bit more discreet but she practically attached herself to him, touching his arm, holding onto his elbow. It was basically a big red sign saying ‘MINE, BACK OFF’.”
Jimin wanted to sit down himself. “You mean, Hanna knows I-”
“No, not you,” Kareena said slowly, “Jungkook.”
“Jungkook likes you.”
Jimin stared at Kareena in silence. She looked at ease, like she hadn’t just dropped the bomb of the century.
“No, he doesn’t.”
“Yes he does,” she insisted.
Jimin shook his head, heart thudding in his chest. “No he doesn’t, Kareena. He likes Hanna. He’s been with Hanna before this whole arrangement in Bluefield even started.”
Kareena stood up, skirt falling down to her ankles delicately. She nudged her glasses up her nose and approached him. “She was never with Jungkook. I don’t know if they’ve ever fooled around but trust me when I say, she and Jungkook were never officially together.”
Jimin felt goosebumps rising on the back of his neck all the way to his scalp. Did this change anything? Did Jungkook liking him change the way he felt about Jungkook? “Why are you telling me this? What do you want me to do?”
Kareena crossed her arms over her chest. “I want you to know that you have a choice. The door is open. You could cross it if you wanted to. For what it’s worth, I think you guys look great together.”
“No, it’s not so much a choice as it is a trap. Feelings are... convoluted. They mess everything up. Maybe- maybe I have a crush, maybe. And maybe Jungkook has a crush, which is- okay? Yeah, I guess that’s okay, as okay as it is inevitable. But to do something about it is a whole other matter. You have to open up, expose your weaknesses and insecurities. What if it’s the chase that gives him excitement? What if it’s the idea that I’m single that gives him the urge? What if- it’s because we’ve been thrown into a house, just the two of us with no one else for company- that he’s suddenly developed this- this affection?”
Jimin took in a deep harsh breath, gulping in oxygen into his lungs. He was wound so tight, all his feelings pouring out to Kareena. He felt someone tapping at his hip and glanced down to see the tailor patting him gently. “Monsieur, c’est beaucoup de what if’s, non ? L’amour - that is scary, oui , but it is the scary that is vivant . Alive. To be in love is to be alive.”
Jimin watched him with parted lips, searching hard for words to rebuke this stranger, but not having the heart nor ability to say them.
“If not this man, then un autre . Or woman. Qui que ce soit. Even if love is scary, you must not be afraid of it,” he said serenely. “How do you say in English, ah, take a leap of faith, n’est-ce pas ?”
Jimin noticed that he had a gold ring dangling from a plain silver chain around his neck. He had wrinkles and lines on his neck, and sun spots on his face- withered with age, but his hands were elegant and deft, the hands of a master craftsman.
“Ah, mon wedding ring,” the tailor pulled his necklace out, the fluorescent lights glinting over the studded jewel in the centre. “ Elle est morte, but I still live...for my love . ”
Jimin imagined a vivacious woman who brought joy to everyone she met, and a man constantly watching her, near or far. It made his breath catch in his throat because deep down, he dearly wanted something like that, but reality was a lot different. Reality gave him his father and mother to learn from. Reality taught him to keep his heart guarded.
Kareena took his hand and gripped it firmly. “It’s okay if you don’t know, Jimin. It’s okay if you don’t want to pursue it, and it’s okay if you do. As long as you know that you can, if you want to. That’s all that matters. That you do it for you, and not because I tell you it’s a good idea or Monsieur Claude here flies the flag of love.”
The tailor scoffed. “You tease me Madame . I will charge extra.”
Kareena laughed. “Go right ahead. We’re not the ones paying anyway, the company is.” She turned back to Jimin, grinning. “Okay, Jimin?”
He couldn’t bring himself to speak aloud, worried it might show in his voice how affected he was by their words, so he hummed and nodded his head jerkily. Kareena gave him a comforting smile, skirt twirling as she walked back to her chair.
The tailor continued fitting him, while Jimin tried his best not to imagine being with Jungkook. It wasn’t very hard, not with how they were already living together as husbands. But it did stir up a storm in him, thinking of how every touch and every kiss given was because Jungkook wanted to and not because he had to.
Day 63 5.32 pm
In the : Parking lot
Kareena : Looking thoughtful
“Say, Jimin, what do you think about makeup?”
Jimin shut the car door, his suit hanging in a bag and thrown over his shoulder. “Um, may I ask why?”
Kareena clicked on the remote in her hand, locking the doors. She flipped her hair over her shoulder and skipped over to Jimin, looking suspiciously pleased. “I think you’d look good, that’s all. The colour of your suit jacket is giving me ideas, and I actually have my makeup bag here in the office.”
“A coincidence, I’m sure,” Jimin snorted.
“When will you stop questioning the talents of women, Jimin? Yes, we can sometimes read a room, and yes, we carry a makeup kit everywhere just in case.”
Jimin rolled his eyes, nudging Kareena with his elbow. “Well it’s not like I can say no. Pretty sure you’re going to wrangle me into a chair anyway.”
“I’m not one to wrangle,” Kareena retorted, mock hurt colouring her tone. “I’d strap you down though. Hmm, I wonder who else would?”
Jimin choked on his saliva and succumbed to a coughing fit. “Oh- oh my god- Kareena. Can you not say- weird things like that.”
She chortled like she was enjoying Jimin’s mortification. He had little doubt that she actually did. “ Is it weird? Who did you think of hmm, Mister?”
He felt a blush warming his cheeks. “No one. I mean generally. One doesn’t go about talking of how they want to strap people down.”
“Alright then, if you say so.” She gave him a wink as she started up the stairs.
“I do say so,” Jimin muttered under his breath as he followed behind her. He was lying of course. There was a name that came to him, and a very familiar face along with it.
When they entered the office, only Chris was in, Jungkook and Hanna not done with their excursion yet. Chris was on the phone but he waved at them and Jimin nodded back in greeting. Kareena ushered him into the bathroom and told him to change quickly while she gathered her products.
Jimin locked the door and hung the hanger on the hook by the side. He unzipped the bag and pulled the trousers out, pleated and cinched at his waist. He took off his jeans and pulled the new pair on. The material was light and Jimin wondered if he could take them home once the night was over. He didn’t mind paying for them.
He took off his shirt next, laying it on top of his jeans on the sink countertop. The tailor had recommended a silk black camisole, with a deep neckline. It wasn’t something that Jimin would have picked by himself but he trusted the tailor’s judgement.
And finally, he swung on the blazer that the tailor spent the most time tacking to fit Jimin’s measurements. As he shrugged his shoulders into the sleeves, he had to give the tailor credit. He had done a fine job with his tailoring. The blue velvet blazer fit him like a glove, cut short at his waist.
He glanced at the mirror to take in his entire outfit. There was something about it that gave him an edge. He felt untouchable, like he had stepped out of darkness in lavish garments and that darkness trailed behind him in a deeply entrancing way.
He smoothed his hands down the blazer and onto his trousers, the material of his clothes cool to his touch. He liked it. He liked it a lot.
He opened the door and Kareena was waiting for him, leaning against the door. She clapped her hands excitedly when she saw him. “Oh my goodness, Jimin! You look perfect! Absolutely gorgeous!”
Jimin blushed and looked down at himself. “You really think so?”
“I really do!” She squealed. “Come on, we have to put on the finishing touches. I’ve set everything up already.”
She tugged him to her desk where her brushes and a number of palettes lay open. “Sit down, sit down!”
He sat on her chair and closed his eyes while Kareena applied product onto him. “Not too much though. I don’t want to stand out.”
Kareena huffed a laugh. “Trust me, Jimin, the way you’re dressed- everyone’s going to notice you. Somebody’s going to have a tough night on their hands-”
Jimin had a sneaking feeling she wasn’t talking about him particularly.
“-but I know what you mean. Don’t worry, it’s just a bit of eyeshadow and lip tint. Nothing too fancy.”
She hummed a tune while she worked, and it almost lulled Jimin to sleep. As it was, he fell into a deep trance, Kareena’s brush stokes rhythmic and calming, and the sound of her voice gentle and soothing. She spoke sometimes, telling him what she was doing but the words flew over his head. He had no idea what she was talking about but he appreciated her attempts at explaining to him.
When she said, “There, we’re done. Have a look,” Jimin held his breath as he opened his eyes. He expected to see himself with weird colours that clashed and made him look not ugly- but not handsome either. Not that he didn’t trust Kareena, but that he couldn’t imagine makeup doing anything for him.
But he was wrong.
Kareena coloured his lids with a deep dark blue that blended into black, and lined his inner lid with kohl. His lips were just a touch red, and when he ran his tongue over them, he could feel there was a coat of some waxy substance and the redness hadn’t dissipated.
“It’s a strawberry lip balm. Not too strong I hope?”
Jimin shook his head, breaking into a grin. “No, no it’s perfect. I don’t know how you did it, but you actually made me look decent Kareena. I don’t know how to thank you. This is great.”
Kareena waved her hand. “Oh hush now. You’re the best canvas. I barely did a thing. What do you think, Chris? How does Jimin look?”
Jimin turned and glanced over his shoulder to where Chris sat.
Chris was clicking away at his keyboard but paused when Kareena called him. “My oh my,” he drawled. “Jimin, don’t you look dashing!” Chris walked from his desk to Kareena’s, his eyes locked on Jimin. He whistled as he got closer. “Wow. I hope the party is ready for you Jimin. I can tell you’re about to break some hearts tonight. Jungkook is going to be the envy of the hall.”
“And why is that?” came Jungkook’s voice from the door. Jimin couldn’t see him since Kareena and Chris were both standing in front of him, and thus blocking Jungkook from sight.
“Ah, Jungkook, you’re already dressed, great!” Chris said. “So is Jimin. Let me see the two of you together.”
Jimin felt nervous again, a bubbling feeling in his gut as Chris stepped aside and motioned Jimin to get up. He counted to five and lifted his head, looking right into Jungkook’s eyes. No matter how many times Jungkook had directed that piercing stare towards him, it still made his heart wobble in his chest, made him weak and a bundle of nerves, made him stagger back from the ferocity of that unwavering gaze.
“Hey,” Jimin said, casting his eyes quickly over Jungkook’s suit. He was wearing a three piece, completely in black. There was no surprise there, Jungkook loved black. And of course, he looked handsome in it. His hair falling over his forehead in artful waves. It complimented his entire look.
Jungkook took his time making his way over. Jimin had tunnel vision on him, counting the number of steps Jungkook took to distract himself from the way that bubbling feeling in his gut had travelled to his chest. “Hey, Jimin,” Jungkook said in a low voice. “You look beautiful.”
Jimin dropped his eyes to Jungkook’s neck, unable to hold his gaze. “You too,” he managed to say.
“Look at me.”
Jimin curled his hands into fists. He felt faint and- was there a word beyond nervousness? Because that’s how he felt. He felt tenfold the magnitude of nervous.
Jungkook took hold of his right hand, and it gave Jimin a shock. Jungkook’s hand was incredibly warm, feeling like a blazing oven next to his icy fingers. “Are you cold?” Jungkook asked.
Jimin shook his head.
“Won’t you look at me?” Jungkook requested again.
With that soft tone of voice and when he stood so close, Jimin felt an irresistible urge to do as told. He flicked his eyes open, tilting his head upwards.
“So pretty, baby” Jungkook said, eyes fleeting over Jimin’s face.
Jimin was thankful Kareena had covered his face with powder. Jungkook would never know how intensely Jimin had blushed at his words. He wanted to scream and cry, he wanted to throw his arms around Jungkook’s shoulders and drag him into a kiss. He desperately wanted Jungkook to keep looking at him and talking to him and liking him. He wanted so very much to take that leap of faith the tailor had talked about.
It was so easy for him to want things and to wish for things to happen. Yet so difficult to bring them to fruition.
Someone cleared their throat and Jimin didn’t have to look to know it was Hanna again. Jungkook turned around, hand still holding onto Jimin’s and he saw Hanna glaring at him. He twisted his hand out of Jungkook’s and looked down to his feet. He felt like such a coward. Kareena told him that Hanna and Jungkook weren’t together and some part of him believed her, but the other part was so adamant that they were.
“Yes, you look like a happily married couple. Jungkook? Have you read through the packet?” Chris paused. Jimin assumed Jungkook had given some form of affirmation because Chris then said, “Good, good.” He glanced at his watch and nodded to himself. “Well, seeing as it’s nearly six, Kareena and Hanna, both of you should make your way to the catering company. Individually. Try to glean as much information as you can while serving the guests. Jimin and Jungkook, drive to the Hilton hotel and check in. You’ll be staying there for the night. I’ve already made a booking under Jungkook’s name. At 7pm, there’ll be a car to drive you to the venue. Check out is tomorrow at 10 am. Everyone capiche?”
There was a chorus of yeses, as Chris walked back to his corner and picked up his bag. “Alright, I won’t be actively participating, but if there’s anything important- and by important I mean, extremely important, and I’ll leave that to your discernment- please ring me and we’ll see what to make of it. Otherwise, we gather here tomorrow and run through the data.” He gave them a two finger salute and exited through the archway.
Jungkook guided Jimin forward, with his palm at the small of Jimin’s back- not pushing but with enough force to nudge him along. As they passed the ladies, Hanna stepped up. She wasn’t exactly in their path but it made Jimin stop all the same.
“Jungkook- can I speak with you for a moment? Privately?” She addressed Jungkook but she was looking at Jimin. He had an inkling, a general idea of what she was thinking, but he was beginning to tire, thinking of her all the time. He had his own feelings to sort through without being subjected to hers. He moved to stand beside Kareena, lifting his chin at Hanna. “Go ahead. I’ll just be waiting here.”
He turned his back on them, not wanting to see them go off alone. What he saw instead was Kareena studying him with wide eyes.
Kareena raised her brows as to say really? You’re asking me that?
“She wanted to talk to him.” Jimin whined petulantly. “And it’s not like he didn’t want to either, or he would’ve said so.”
Kareena made a halting sound at the back of her throat, earrings bouncing off her neck as she shook her head. “When I said it was your choice, Jimin, I didn’t mean for you to hand him to her on a silver platter.”
“That doesn’t even make sense.”
“Okay, I’m going to say this again. Jungkook likes you. Hanna is just grasping at straws right now. I think she can see it too. And it’s not hard to notice. He’s always waiting for you, always looking at you, the first person he sees in a room is always you. No, don’t try to argue with me Jimin. I know what you’re going to say. And I’m here to tell you, as the third party, and from a very valuable outsider perspective, it’s always been like this. You guys were at loggerheads back then, yes but even so, he only had eyes for you. I don’t know how Hanna happened but I bet my computers it’s nothing serious.”
“Okay,” Jimin said, leaning against an empty desk, hands in fists on his chest. “Let’s say you’re right. And to be honest, I don’t even know why I’m saying this. I have conflicts, Kareena. Like, it’s in my head. It’s this loaded weight on my back and I’m just so fucking scared of this. And even if you’re right, it doesn’t change the fact that there is a little something going on between them and I just- it’s such a red flag for me, it’s making me double- triple question everything . I’ve been so confused, and this case is so important, and the people involved- Susan- it feels like it’s only me who cares. Jungkook doesn’t, not in the way that matters. And all these thoughts are-”
He heard the sound of heels clicking on the ground and turned around immediately. Hanna was pissed, rushing to her desk to pick up her things. She swept past Jimin in a flurry, only the faintest scent of her perfume left behind.
He saw now that they had gone into the pantry, it was where Jungkook emerged. He was calm though, composed when he said, “Let’s go, yeah?”
Jimin nodded hesitantly. He gave a quick “Catch you later” to Kareena and hurried after Jungkook. They went down the stairs and into the car, Jungkook giving off an air that kept Jimin from asking after him. Though he didn’t appear angry, Jimin noticed how his temples were bulging and how he squeezed the steering wheel till his fingertips were white.
Day 63 6.28 pm
Traffic : Heavy
Hilton hotel : All the way on the other side of the city
It took them nearly an hour to reach the hotel, and that was with Jungkook taking a few shortcuts through narrow ill-lit back alleys.
They handed off their overnight bags to the concierge and checked in right away. It was a grand hotel, with an enormous chandelier that twinkled majestically right in the centre of the main waiting area. There were people- guests- walking in and out, and chatter that echoed off the high walls and ceiling.
As Chris had said, there was a room booked under Jungkook’s name. And with how things had been going lately, it didn’t even phase Jimin that the room came with only one Queen sized bed. One of them would probably take the couch- or if there wasn’t one- then the floor.
The room they were given was on the seventeenth floor, and they rode the elevator up in silence. Jimin stood half a step behind Jungkook, and from there all he saw was the broad sweeping slant of Jungkook’s back filling out his suit jacket.
When the elevator slid open, Jungkook led them to their room, sliding in the key card for access. It was certainly luxurious, living up to the Hilton reputation. Since it wouldn’t be long till the car came for them, Jimin kept his shoes on and plopped onto the corner of the bed.
He heard the door to the bathroom closing, and then the sound of water running. He wondered if he had the right to ask Jungkook what had happened. He didn’t even know if he wanted to ask. A lover’s spat? A misunderstanding? Work-related problems? He closed his eyes and laid back on the mattress. It was so soft that it moulded around the contours of his body.
The water kept running in the bathroom and Jimin started counting down the seconds that ticked by. He knew he should tune out, but he felt very lax, like he was floating- and with it, his mind. So he kept count, in which one minute turned to three, and three to five, and five to ten.
When he was met with silence Jimin sat up abruptly, glancing at the door, as it slowly opened and Jungkook stepped out. He looked surprised to see Jimin watching him.
“What happened earlier?”
He didn’t know what came over him to make him blurt it out like that. But now that it was out of his mouth, he fervently hoped for an answer.
Jungkook’s eyes skimmed over him, from his hair to his dress shoes. It made him think of what Kareena had said, he’s always looking at you. Did he always? He thought he had wanted Jungkook’s eyes only on him but now that it was happening, Jimin wanted for him to look away. It was too much- questions, answers, thoughts.
“It wasn’t anything,” Jungkook finally said, nonchalant.
“It didn’t look like nothing,” Jimin mumbled, looking down and picking at the duvet.
He heard the armchair creak, and then Jungkook spoke, his tone sardonic, “Why is it when I ask you questions you either deflect or refuse to answer, and yet you can wheedle for information?”
He felt his jaw drop. Had that come out of nowhere or had that been brewing? No, Jungkook had been nice to him the whole day. Hanna’s furious face flashed through his head and now he needed to know what she said.
“You could just say you don’t want to tell me. But you’re being deliberately confrontational. Why is that?”
Jungkook looked at him for a moment longer, charged and consuming. He looked like he wanted to say more, but he didn’t. He just got up and walked to the door, sweeping it ajar.
“Time to leave.”
Day 63 7.20 pm
Car : Conveniently with a partition between the driver and passengers
Approaching : The venue
About five minutes ago it had started raining cats and dogs. There was now a row of cars waiting in line to drop off the guests attending the function. There was a delay, since the guests now had to come in one by one. They themselves weren’t too far off. Jimin counted about five cars ahead of them- which gave them circa ten minutes of waiting time.
“What did you and Hanna speak about that had her so angry?” Jimin asked.
“I said leave it, Jimin.” Jungkook said, raising his voice slightly.
“If it affects the team, I think we should all know.”
“You and I are always at each other’s throats, and we don’t go telling the others about it... Or do you?”
From his peripheral vision, Jimin saw Jungkook staring at him.
“What do you mean?”
“Do you go around telling the others about us? Who do you tell Jimin? What do you say? Do you make a habit out of it? Passing on information?”
There was something in the way Jungkook was speaking to him- he couldn’t quite put his finger on it- that had him on alert. It was aggressive. And targeted. Almost like it was an interrogation.
“I have no idea what you’re talking about. Is it something that Hanna said?” He looked out the side of his window and saw there were only three cars now ahead of them.
Jungkook scoffed. “Wouldn’t you want to know what Hanna said.”
“I do actually,” Jimin countered, turning to the side to fully take in Jungkook. “You had a five minute talk with her and suddenly you’re so hostile with me? You keep reminding me of this charade. Jimin we’re husbands this, Jimin we’re husbands that. Yet you’re being frigid right now, and if anything, you’re the one running the risk of blowing our cover. So yes Jungkook, I think I deserve to know what she said.”
Jungkook chewed on his bottom lip and glanced away. Jimin could see from the streetlights washing into the car that Jungkook was working his jaw.
There were now two vehicles in front of them.
Jimin chose to leave Jungkook to his musings. If he pushed too much, it would only come back to bite him.
Jungkook heaved a sigh. “She did say something... about you. I told her it wasn’t her place to say things like that. We’re all colleagues, but you and I are partners.” He rubbed at his temples as he continued. “She had a few choice words to share and I told her to back off. If she had complaints she could take them up with Chris. She stormed out and that’s basically what happened.”
The car jolted forward and it was their turn to get down.
“What did she say about me?” Jimin asked in a frown.
After a beat, Jungkook said, “I don’t want to tell you.”
Day 63 8.05 pm
Reminiscent : Of the neighbourhood potluck
Hanna and Kareena : Spotted
Jungkook : Off by himself
He didn’t know how it had happened again. One minute he was next to Jungkook, shaking hands and being introduced around, and the next, Jungkook was gone and he found himself once again in the midst of a gaggle of women passing on gossip between each other. At least this time it wasn’t as explicit, though sexual topics seemed to be at the top of everyone’s list.
“He’s sleeping with his secretary, didn’t you know?”
“Nooooooo,” someone gasped, Diane, or Diana, was her name. “Wait really?”
“Mhm, married her for her fortune. And couldn’t keep it in his pants, apparently. That poor woman. She’s a proper lady, I can tell you that much. Didn’t kick up a fuss. Some say she’s barren, that’s why she keeps her head down. Not the secretary though. She insists on accompanying him for functions, not a care for his or his missus’ reputation. That’s her right there.” She pointed to the back of the hall.
Intrigued, Jimin looked over his shoulder to where a slender woman stood in a rather ostentatious garb. She was decked in pearls and jewels- on her hair, around her neck, her ears, her fingers. Her gown flared out at her waist, making it near impossible for anyone to stand no less than a foot from her. Her lipstick was blood red and even from where he stood, Jimin could see the curl of her eyeliner. It was as attention grabbing as he assumed she intended. She was sipping from a glass of champagne, observing the room coolly with her chin lifted.
In the few seconds that he was watching her, she met his gaze and tilted her head, lips curling upwards into a smirk. Jimin turned around immediately, wondering what on earth had happened.
“-Did you see her sneering!”
“-God, why is she even here?”
“-Oh wait, is that Susan? Well, she’s rather late, isn’t she? I wonder why she didn’t come with her husband.”
“What do you mean she didn’t come with her husband?” Jimin interjected, eyes sweeping across the room once more, this time in search of a different person.
The lady who had just spoken, a brunette, gave him a questioning look, “Sorry, who are you again?”
“Jeon Jimin,” he held his hand out for a handshake. “I’m with Jungkook, Jeon Jungkook. My, um, husband.”
“Jeon Jungkook is your husband?” Someone else asked, and the interest in her voice made Jimin pause.
“Wow, you bagged a good one alright.”
He thought she would go on about Jungkook’s good looks or something, but that wasn’t the case at all.
“The rumour mill has been in overdrive. Your Jeon Jungkook is hot on the market. He some sort of tech whiz or something?”
“Prodigy,” Jimin nodded, playing along.
“Mm, well this is inside information too, and I only know because my cousin’s wife’s sister works at the Department of Buildings over in NYC, and this party here is organised by Collins & Co.- the very same company that’s looking to expand over there. They’ve just finalised the permit. I think they’re launching really soon. Less than two weeks away, I gather.”
“Hold on, NYC you say?” Diane or some such, asked. “Because I have first hand knowledge they’re expanding in Chicago. How sure are you about your source?”
The woman frowned disapprovingly. “Extremely sure. She’s reliable.”
“What about Jeon Jungkook then?” Someone pressed. Jimin thanked her internally for echoing his thoughts.
“Oh, they’re expanding the team, and now more than ever they need a someone to oversee the entire project- coding, designing, communication, the works. Literally anything and everything to keep the company running. Now I bet none of you guys know this.” She dropped her voice into a whisper, motioning them closer. “Jan Anderson had Jeon Jungkook’s CV left open on his computer or something, and someone saw it. And that someone told someone else, and it spread like wildfire, basically. Now everyone is looking to snatch him up.”
She slapped Jimin’s arm with the back of her hand. “But I guess you snatched him up first eh? You lucky bastard. He’s going to shoot to the top. Anyone Jan recruits absolutely thrives. They’re all extremely loyal to each other too, hard to come by in the business industry, that.”
Jimin gave her a sheepish smile, his heart beating hard in his chest. He needed to find Jungkook and tell him right away. “Excuse me, ladies, I just- need a new glass of champagne. I’ll be back in a bit.”
He speed walked away from them, far enough that he was on the opposite end of the hall. Only then did he stop a waiter to pick up a new glass, replacing his empty one. There were so many people about, and unfortunately, so many of them were taller than him. He stood on his toes, trying to look over the crowd.
He thought he might have spotted Jungkook, between several other men in suits when someone yanked him to the side.
The hall was huge- and it had a lot of walls, almost like a jigsaw puzzle with odd jagged corners. And the lights weren’t very bright either- dimmed to suit the ambience of a relaxed evening. There were two things to take into account, firstly, that when that person had dragged Jimin away, hardly anyone noticed, and secondly, it took Jimin more than a few seconds to see who was leading him away.
They were in white and black, the uniform that the waitresses were wearing.
And when he saw the colour of her hair- he realised it was Hanna.
Day 63 8.28 pm
Force equals : Mass multiplied by acceleration
Hanna : Really going at it
“Hanna, Hanna! Stop! Hanna, what are you doing?”
Hanna tugged him up a stairwell and rounded on him as they turned the corner. It was deserted- the second floor- the lights were off, the air was still and there wasn’t a single sound to be heard except for Hanna’s heavy breathing and his own panting.
“What the hell are you doing? We’re not supposed to be making contact. You can’t know me, and I shouldn’t be seen with you.”
Hanna scoffed, her head angled to the side before stepping closer and looking at Jimin head on. “Back- the fuck - off.”
Jimin tried to step away but she threw her hand up, blocking his exit. “What? Nothing to say? At least admit that you’re thirsting after him. God, you’re such a- such a fucking...”
Irritated, Jimin shoved her hand down. “No, you back off Hanna. What the fuck are you doing? You’re jeopardising our covers. Anyone can walk up these stairs and see us. Then what? You’re going to take responsibility? Get a grip, we’re working on a case.”
He turned, but Hanna wasn’t done with him yet. She put her hand up again, and lifted her skirt with the other. Jimin felt his heart skip a beat anxiously, thinking she was going to undress in front of him. But he then heard the sound of something unstrapping- much like the tear of Velcro, and suddenly he was pushed back, something sharp held to his neck.
There was only moonlight to illuminate the darkness, and when his eyes adjusted after a couple of seconds, he saw that Hanna was holding a small knife to his throat, the length of her forearm pressing on his chest and holding him down.
His hands came up reflexively to grip onto her elbows. “Hanna,” Jimin cautioned. “Hanna what the fuck are you doing?”
“Don’t move. Don’t fucking move.”
“I’m not moving. Calm down, okay. Whatever it is, we can just talk it out. We’re on the same team here.”
He was beginning to think they weren’t really. Hanna laughed. It was humourless and loose- it was hysteric. “You think I don’t know what you’re up to. You’re the one who’s going to bring all of us down. And Jungkook? What about Jungkook? You’re playing him too, aren’t you? Toying with him while he runs after you like a puppy. I don’t know what the fuck you guys have been doing in that house. But I know- I know- he wasn’t like this before you guys left. You changed him. You turned him against me.”
“Hanna,” Jimin whispered urgently. “I have no idea what you’re talking about. We’re just working the case. We’re just fucking working the case.”
“You’re lying.” Hanna dug her knife closer. It was flat against his skin and he had to give her credit for thinking smart. It wouldn’t leave any marks but she could very easily just flip the handle and she would nick his carotid artery in the blink of an eye. “Why else would he take your side over mine. He hated you. He hated you, and now-”
“Listen Hanna, put down the knife-”
“Don’t tell me what to do!” she snarled. “What about you? What did you do Jimin? Tell me. Did you spread your legs? Did you seduce him? Huh? Fuck each other every night? Is that how you work the case ?
Anger ripped through him like a flash of lightning. She was slandering him, and not only that, she was acting as if he was some sort of miscreant, manipulating Jungkook to gain his affection. She was one step short of calling him a slut, and it couldn’t be farther from the truth. “You think this is all just me? It takes two to tango, okay. Where is Jungkook in all your insults? It doesn’t matter anyway, you’re wrong. There’s nothing between us.”
“I have pictures you know. You can’t fool me. I saw you. And him.”
“Wha- What are you talking about? What pictures?”
She slipped her free hand into the pocket of her vest, holding up printed photos. Jimin didn’t have to look for long to see that it was him and Jungkook. It was on the night of that potluck and Jungkook was kissing him. That photo dropped to the ground and the next one was a wide angled shot of Jimin and Jungkook- kissing again in the kitchen- and the next was them behind the staircase- kissing, of course.
“You think you can lie to me,” Hanna muttered, the air around her frenzied and dangerous, but Jimin had a whole other thought in his head. Was someone spying on them? What the fuck was going on?
“Hanna, where did you get them from? This is important. Tell me, Hanna!”
“I’m not telling you shit. Consider this a warning Jimin. I’m on to you. And I’m not the only one. You better watch your back. And once this whole thing is over, you better stay the fuck away from Jungkook.”
She slid the knife smoothly back to the garter around her thigh, and brushed down the front of his blazer. “He’s mine, Jimin.” She tugged on his lapels. “Don’t forget that. Mine.”
She gave him one final look of disdain before leaving.
Jimin leaned against the wall, head dropping back and thudding loudly. Her feelings for Jungkook aside- Hanna had let slip vital information- and that was Jimin and Jungkook were being watched- in their own home no less. How did that happen? Why was that happening? He was certain Chris hadn’t authorised such a thing.
He pushed away from the wall on shaky legs and went down the stairs. Hanna had taken him through a maze and he wasn’t paying attention to where they were going at the time, and now he found himself not only lost in thoughts but in terms of direction as well.
There was a draft chilling the corridors, and Jimin decided to wend his way in search of the source, hoping to at least get some fresh air. He found himself at a little patio, a burst of greenery yielding him all the way around, with vines climbing up the wall. He rested his arms on the railing, looking out into the courtyard, breathing in the silence to clear his head.
Subconsciously, he raised one hand to his neck, rubbing away at a phantom itch. He wanted to call her crazy. She sounded like how a stalker would- obsessed and desperate- yet at the same time, he felt sorry for her. He felt sorry for himself too- for brushing away all her accusations.
He could say now that he liked Jungkook. As a crush. A little bit more- maybe? A lot more? Could be. He felt bad for lying, and he felt bad for knowing he wanted to keep kissing Jungkook, and he wanted Jungkook to keep kissing him. He wanted to think that Jungkook liked him back. But seeing the way Hanna had accosted him, Jimin wondered if he would end up being like her some time down the line.
And there was of course the pictures that had him questioning her intentions. How much of it had been her, and how much of it had been induced by an outside party?
Jimin swivelled his head around, stretching his neck. He groaned at how stiff he felt. He was also vexed with himself- for being cornered and held at knifepoint, more so by a colleague. It was something he should have anticipated- if not her threatening him so viciously, then at least her approaching him.
He exhaled sharply and leaned his head back, looking up into the night sky.
It creeped in slowly, an uneasy feeling that made the hairs on the back of his neck stand up. Jimin was being watched and he had nothing on him to fend for himself with, not even his phone, stupidly enough. That was in his jeans, which was currently lying in the hotel room.
Beside him were potted plants, small enough to fit the palm of his hands- a weapon he hoped, if necessary. He kept them in sight as he turned around.
Standing opposite him, not at all hiding, was the lady- secretary he’d seen earlier. She had faux fur wrapped around her shoulders and she was watching him intensely. She didn’t look like she was about to attack him but after his encounter with Hanna, Jimin was prepared for anything.
“Who are you? What are you doing here?” He asked.
Her lips eased into a smile, and her hips swayed as she strutted across the wooden floorboards. She was holding onto a minaudière, black, like the colour of her dress. She reached into it, taking out a worn pack of Dunhill and a lighter.
“Do you smoke?” She pulled out a cigarette and handed it to him.
“Hmm. Suit yourself.” She tore off the filter, throwing it over the railing, and lit up the tip. The embers glowed bright red as she sucked in a breath. Jimin found himself craving a cigarette too, watching her breathe out the smoke in a long exhale, but he knew better than to receive things from strangers.
“In regards to your question,” she crossed one arm over her waist casually, “My name is Anna Kasevka. Do you know who I am?”
Jimin nodded his head slowly. “You’re Mr. Collins' secretary.”
“That’s right. I am the secretary. The slut. No no, don’t look so shocked, I know the words that have travelled through the hall this evening.”
Jimin felt a twinge of shame, but it was only fleeting. “What do you want from me?”
Anna Kasevka took her time smoking her cigarette, grabbing the corners of her fur and pulling it tighter. “I just want to talk, is that not okay?”
Jimin considered his options. There was more to it- than what he knew, than what any of those women tattling in the hall knew.
“I don’t think so. When you saw me earlier you knew who I was. And no one else is at this part of the building, so you deliberately sought me out. When you opened your purse, there was a recording device in there. It was sewn into the seam- hidden, which wouldn’t be a problem in a lit hall but it’s dark out here and the tiniest source of light is amplified a dozen times over. You're not here for idle chit chat. So if there’s something you want, I suggest you get to the point.”
Anna Kasevka studied him for a moment, then burst into laughter. “Oh, you’re good. You’re really good. They always say, to never mess with people like you- street smart and sharp. So very sharp.”
“What are you talking about?”
“Oh, now now. You had your fun, let me have mine, Park Jimin. Yes, I know exactly who you are. And don’t worry, I’m not here to mess with your case, I have my own to worry about.”
She took in another lungful of cigarette smoke as Jimin tried to compose himself. His brain was scrambling, and his heart was pounding.
“You see, my case, hmm, it’s a little bit complicated, it’s kind of personal- and I will kill him for it, but also I’m lucky that he’s a shady bastard- it gives the opportunity to exact my revenge- under the very convenient excuse of justice. But I’m not here to tell you about him, because what do I discover while investigating him? Ah! Your case- Jan Anderson, isn’t it?”
Jimin stood stock still.
“I guess it would be too much of me to expect a confirmation of that, my mistake. No, they’re not in cahoots, but they’re aware of each others’ hmm, shall we say... transgressions. They cover for each other- that’s what men in power do- little things, you know. Cash under the table, passing on contacts, blanket corruption, that sort of thing. I know about Jan Anderson, and what’s more, I know that there’s a rat on your side.”
He’d been hesitant to believe her but the moment she uttered those words, she caught his attention. “Who?”
“Ah ah ah, that’s not my job to find out, that’s yours, Park Jimin. This is only a courtesy, one, because it is good to liaison with fellow agents, and two, because you’re the only other person in the hall who looks just as handsome as myself.”
Jimin coughed awkwardly into his hand, averting his gaze from embarrassment. “How do I know you’re telling the truth? How do you know about me? What else do you know?”
She tapped the butt of her cigarette, Jimin watching as the ashes fell and crumbled into fine particles, drifting in the air. “All of which are good questions, and of which I cannot give you answers. It’s just a matter of take it, or leave it.” She cocked her head to the side, a sly look upon her. “But I must say you put on a good show with your partner. Almost as good as mine.”
He'd been harbouring his suspicions and it wasn’t much of a leap to connect the dots. “You’re...- you’re investigating Mr. Collins.”
“Three cheers for you. For finally figuring it out. I don’t enjoy it, not with a disgusting old man like him and not when his wife has become nothing but cannon fodder. They say spies are cold and calculated, like machines who do as they’re told. But it is only us who know the truth. She's a decent woman, caught in the crossfire, but it must be done, even if she ends up hurt in the end. I think you and I can come to an agreement about this.”
Jimin found himself thinking of Susan, and how each of Anna Kasevka’s words resonated with him. “She’s innocent,” Jimin said, feeling downtrodden on her behalf.
“Yes, she is. And she might not be the only one wrongly accused with how things are going. This information I shared, tell no one. Do you understand?”
Jimin nodded his head. “I won’t. I know the risks. But why me? What if I’m the rat?”
She looked almost fond, as she kept her eyes on him while stubbing her cigarette on the railing. “You’re not the rat, of that I am absolutely certain. But no more. You will accompany me back into the hall. If I am seen with a handsome man, Mr. Collins will get jealous. And it serves me best when he’s lost his head.”
“In that case,” Jimin swept up towards her, lifting the tip of her hand by her knuckles and dipping his head in courtesy. “It’ll be my pleasure.”
With his other hand- armed with his folded handkerchief- Jimin swiped her cigarette butt and slipped it into his pocket in one swift move. Her back was already facing the railing and he was sure it had gone unnoticed.
He placed her hand in the crook of his elbow and walked them back into the corridor. “I’m afraid you would have to guide me. I have no idea where we are.”
‘Left at the first fork,” she said, “-and right at the next. It’s a straight path from there.”
They were silent as they made their way back. Even though Jimin was holding her close, he was rigid in his posture, ready to react in case she pulled a fast one. The heels of his dress shoes and her stilettos echoed loudly. It was unnerving, walking hand in hand with her, even if they had come to an accord.
“I know you have questions. And like I said I can’t answer them. You don’t have much time left though, and I would advise you to act quickly.”
Jimin glanced down at her through his peripheral vision. Her expression was unreadable, and like him, her muscles were strained- and he noticed this only because he was trained to. “I appreciate it,” was all he said in return.
When they made it back into the hall, it was like he was stepping into a different world all together. The lights were warm, conversations were audible and an overhead clock told him he’d been away for no more than twenty minutes. Too long for a bathroom break, but short enough to bring forth other ideas. There was a group of men who were gathered close by nattering away, but paused as Jimin and Anna Kasevka passed.
As if they were in a movie, the crowd parted like the Red Sea, and with it, Jungkook made his way through, fuming and livid, the energy around him crackling like a raging fire. It was then that Jimin realised he had disappeared for a significant amount of time and hadn’t informed Jungkook. He was regretful, but it wasn’t like he had gone off on his own.
He turned to Anna Kasevka and dropped his hand. “Thank you for... your company. It was enlightening.”
She dipped her neck gracefully, and cracked a smile. “Likewise. I wish you goodnight, Park Jimin.” She lifted her skirt with one hand, and her dress swirled with her movements as she turned in the opposite direction, finding her way around small groups of people towards the centre of the hall.
He could feel Jungkook’s presence by his shoulder, insistent and palpable. He knew Jungkook was about to lambast him, explode with some speech about responsibilities and whatnot and really, Jungkook probably had the worst timing, because after what he’d been through, Jimin wasn’t feeling generous with his patience.
He matched Jungkook’s fiery temper with his own as he faced him. Jungkook’s cheeks were blotchy and the veins in his neck were distended, like he was desperately trying to hold back.
There was a pettiness in him that wanted to push Jungkook’s buttons because he knew Hanna had to be somewhere watching them. He wanted her to see for herself that it was Jungkook who made the first move. That it wasn't him just 'spreading his legs'.
“What?” Jimin asked defiantly.
“You were gone,” Jungkook bit out.
Jungkook chewed on the inside of his cheeks, his arm jostling forward, like he had reached out but changed his mind midway. “You drive me mad. Make me so...”
Jungkook pulled him in suddenly, one arm looping around his waist, and the other cupping his jaw. Jimin had no idea if those around them were still watching him and Jungkook, Hanna drifting to the back of his head. He had eyes only for Jungkook, thoughts only for Jungkook.
He felt a rush of helplessness, like he was being given what he desperately wanted when Jungkook bent down to kiss him. He was harsh and unapologetic, like he was taking what was his. He bit and sucked Jimin’s lower lip into his mouth, again and again until Jimin was deafened by the sound of his heart beating wildly. He drew his hands up along Jungkook’s body, throwing them around his neck.
He heard Jungkook groan when he gripped the short hairs at the back of his head. “Kiss me back Jimin,” Jungkook said.
He opened his mouth and Jungkook swept his tongue in immediately. Jungkook’s grip around his waist tightened, pressing him in closely. He could feel his blazer being pulled and crumpled in Jungkook’s fist, probably wrinkled beyond recognition.
The warm feeling of Jungkook’s breath was addictive, the stroke of his tongue debilitating. He wanted so much for Jungkook to like him, to like holding him and kissing him the way Jimin had come to realise he himself did.
Heat rose from his stomach to his chest and into his head. He moaned at the taste of Jungkook’s saliva, and the way Jungkook flicked his tongue expertly against his. Jungkook’s hair was soft and feathery in his hand. He gripped the strands and pulled harder, his other hand splayed across Jungkook’s shoulder.
Jungkook was fighting him for dominance, and Jimin wasn’t one to give up so easily, but with Jungkook ravaging him it was almost inevitable. He wanted to submit. He wanted to be taken apart and licked open, wanted to be used and manhandled.
Their kisses turned softer, slower, sweeter. Jungkook pecked at the corner of his lips chastely, brushing their mouths together as he had both hands holding onto Jimin’s waist, caressing up and down soothingly.
Jimin opened his eyes leisurely, lids downcast and fluttering. He took in a gulp of air, his lips parted. Jungkook kissed him again, like he couldn’t stop, like he couldn’t get enough. Jungkook’s fervour consumed him, a strangled breath escaping from the back of his throat.
Jungkook rested his face at the side of Jimin’s head, lips grazing his temple. It made him feel so warm, butterflies blooming in his chest. Those barely there touches were just as exhilarating as when he was held firmly.
He took a peek around Jungkook’s broad shoulders and saw that hardly anyone was paying them attention, except for the few guests nearby, giving them scandalous looks. And there was Hanna too, half hidden behind a pillar, her tray beneath her armpit and glaring so ferociously at him. She held his eyes for a second and spun on her heels, disappearing out of sight.
Jimin shuddered in Jungkook’s arms, pulling away slightly. A shadow fell over them and Jimin looked to his right to see Kareena, holding out a tray full of champagne. “A drink, Sir?” She asked with a mischievous grin.
Jimin blushed and stepped out of Jungkook’s hold completely but Jungkook was quick to pull Jimin back against his chest.
“Yes, thank you.” Jungkook picked up a glass delicately by its stem and half walked, half carried Jimin as he manoeuvred them into the middle of the hall.
“You’ll stick with me until the night is over,” Jungkook practically ordered, hushed and strained, interlocking his fingers with Jimin’s.
Day 63 9.10 pm
Jan : Up on the stage- raising his champagne in toast
The room : Roaring with applause
Dread : Settling in the pit of Jimin’s stomach
It was as they expected, Jan announced the launch of the new branches in NYC, LA, Chicago, San Diego and Phoenix. There was to be a grand reveal, with an opening event scheduled simultaneously in the aforementioned locations.
He spoke of their vision for the new direction the company was taking, and how they were expanding their workforce, the investments they had gained, and the returns expected.
Jimin tugged nervously on Jungkook’s arm. “Jungkook, I meant to tell you. There’s rumours going around that they’re trying to recruit you.”
Jungkook reached into the inside of his suit jacket and pulled out a couple of business cards. “They’ve already started. Though Jan hasn’t said a word yet.”
They both look towards the raised platform where Jan stood, chugging his drink and laughing raucously amidst several men beside him. His gaze was crystal clear, his eyes beady and sharp.
Day 63 9.22 pm
Jungkook : Engaged in conversation, yet another business card in hand
Kareena : Over by one of the tables decorated with a variety of finger food
Jimin caught her eye and tried motioning by squinting and frowning that he wanted her to stay put.
He then stood on his toes, propping his hand on Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook’s hand curled around his waist almost instinctively but his attention was still elsewhere.
Raising himself to speak into the shell of Jungkook’s ear, Jimin said, “I’m going to get a drink. Do you want one?”
He felt Jungkook shiver and it made him bolder. He rested his weight into Jungkook’s side, and exhaled audibly, just loud enough for Jungkook to hear.
Jungkook’s eyes widened, his cheeks a blossoming pink. It was endearing. Jungkook’s presence was always so commanding. Nearly three quarters of their interactions consisted of arguments and disagreements; and Jimin- although resentful and mouthy- had been intimidated regardless. Cute wasn’t ever a word he thought he’d associate Jungkook with, so he was oddly proud of himself, for evoking such a reaction.
It made it more tangible, this thing that had going on- obscure as it was.
“No, go ahead baby,” Jungkook finally said, dipping his head to press a kiss to Jimin’s cheek.
Jimin let out a meek squeak and made a beeline for the table. Even when he thought he won, Jungkook would always have the last say.
Just to be sure, he cast a glance around the room, to see if he was being watched. He didn’t notice anyone particularly, so he neared Kareena, pretending to look over the hors d’oeuvres as he called her for help.
“Excuse me, how long have these been sitting out?” He asked aloud.
“Just ten minutes, Sir. Shall I bring you a plate?”
“No,” Jimin said, moving to the plates stacked at the corner of the table- which coincidentally brought him closer to her. “I can get it myself, thank you.”
He slipped his handkerchief out of his pocket and into the palm of her hand. “DNA, and a background check, stat. Results to me only. Email,” he muttered under his breath.
He then popped two rolls onto his plate, before going to the other end of the table to pick up another glass. He was honestly getting tipsy already but he’d told his lie, and now he had to live with it.
Day 63 10.03 pm
Car : So smooth, like cruising on autopilot
Jungkook : Quiet
The guests trickled out slowly. Jungkook had spent the rest of the evening talking to them, moving from one group to another. He’d received job offers well into the night. Jimin was sure he had a deck of cards’ worth in his suit jacket. Jimin kept himself attuned to their conversations, but there was nothing much to pick up on, most of it was business talk- legitimate business talk.
They did have a rather interesting stand off with Mr. Collins though. He thought the man would have been positively icy- which he had been, at first, but as soon as they had veered past introductions, Mr. Collins had lost his hostility. They made lame jokes- as was warranted in a business function, and found they had a shared interest in Japanese tea ceremonies.
Then of course Jungkook had gone stone cold, and Jimin tried to discretely pinch him into being a little bit more respectful but to no avail. He could count on his hands, the number of words Jungkook had said in his replies- cumulatively. At the very first opportunity, Jungkook had shuffled them over into another group, where he magically retained his speaking abilities.
And now Jimin was dozing off in the back seat. Lethargy hit him the moment he sat in the car, with the quiet wrapping around him like a blanket. He drank just enough to be mildly inebriated which was a nice place to be in when he was bone tired and craving sleep.
He nodded off a few times, jerking upwards when his head hit the backrest. It was terribly annoying and he nearly cried. In a last ditch attempt, he leaned to his right until his head landed on Jungkook’s shoulder, solid and unmoving, and also surprisingly as comfortable as a cushion. In his haze, he hadn’t seen the way Jungkook had looked fondly at him, nor did he feel Jungkook’s fingers carding through his hair. And neither did he hear the words Jungkook had said, “You can always lean on me, Jimin.”
Day 63 10.42 pm
Took turns : With the shower- not at all awkward (Lie)
Bath robe : Terry cloth
Feeling : Awake
Sometimes he hated showers for ruining the prospects of sleep. He’d been so ready to drop off into dreamland, but the moment he stood under the showerhead, hot steamy water clearing his head, Jimin lost all sense of drowsiness, and now he and Jungkook were sitting on either side of the bed pretending- and failing- not to be aware of each other.
He knew this because he could feel Jungkook’s long stares on his face, and when he looked up, Jungkook would be turning or shuffling.
There was also the matter of the bed. He thought one of them wouldn’t be sleeping on it, and he didn’t want it to be him. But he couldn’t exactly tell Jungkook to get off either, that would be extremely rude. So on top of this awkwardness, there was also anxiety and a rush of teenage excitement in sharing a bed with his crush.
It was all going swimmingly.
After another ten minutes, Jimin had had enough.
He slid off the bed- Jungkook perking to attention- and went straight to the fridge where he’d previously seen two bottles of wine. He placed them on the mattress, then went to another cupboard to fetch two glasses.
“What are you doing?” Jungkook asked, perplexed.
“ We - are drinking.”
He clamoured back onto the bed, his robe falling open with his movements. He quickly sat down cross-legged, and grabbed a pillow to hold to his middle.
Jungkook looked at him hesitantly, but he must have concluded there was no harm to it, giving a jerky nod. He replaced the bottles and glasses next to them and mimicked Jimin’s position.
“Just drinking?” He asked.
“I don’t know. Do you want to play a game?”
“What kind?” His eyes rounded.
Jimin smiled internally at his curiosity. Jungkook really was cute. “We could ask each other questions?” Jimin suggested. If he was being honest, he had no idea what sort of game this was. It just came to him. They could drink without playing too, but Jimin was feeling impulsive, and something in him wanted Jungkook to talk to him, loose lipped and without inhibitions. “And if we refuse to answer we down a shot? Have to promise to be truthful though, otherwise it wouldn’t work.”
“Sounds good,” Jungkook grinned enthusiastically. “Try and keep up, baby.”
Jimin could practically see the red in his own cheeks, warmth spreading down to his toes. He wanted to scream into his pillow, but he didn’t want to give Jungkook that satisfaction, not while he was still sober and aware of how embarrassing it would be.
“You talk big, Jungkook.” He prided himself in the way his voice came out strong. “I hope you don’t fall flat on your face. I’ll ask first.”
Jungkook nodded, eyeing him with amusement.
“What did Hanna say?”
It was as if Jungkook had been expecting it, with how his grin widened, his two front teeth sticking out. He opened the cork on one of the bottles and poured a full glass, his Adam’s apple bobbing as he gulped down the wine.
Jimin pursed his lips, annoyed that Jungkook had taken the easy way out.
“Sorry baby, you can pout all you want but I’m not telling. I’ll give you props though. You went straight for it. My turn now. Are you a top or bottom?”
Jimin fumbled with his glass and it fell to its side. Thank goodness he hadn’t filled it preemptively. “You can’t-” He stopped himself. Technically, they hadn’t established any rules. And that made it a valid question. With a groan, he took the bottle and filled his glass, downing it just as quickly. It went straight to his head. Maybe he hadn’t truly recovered from the party.
When he refocused his gaze, Jungkook was leaning into the palm of his hand, head tilted to the side and gaze smouldering.
The wine, or his blush, Jimin didn’t even know anymore.
“My turn,” he said quickly. “What’s my full name?”
Jungkook’s eyes widened in surprise, studying him for a moment. Jimin knew he knew. And if Jungkook were to drink again, he was- well he didn’t know what he would do but he wouldn’t be very happy about it.
“Park Jimin,” Jungkook replied carefully, the gentle tone of his voice like a shield around his name.
“Yes,” Jimin felt dazed. “Park Jimin, that’s me. How do you know my name?”
“Ah! Not so fast. We agreed to one question per person, didn’t we? It’s my turn now.”
“No,” Jimin whined. “No it’s part of the same question. It’s a two part question.”
Jungkook chuckled. “Nope, no can do. You can go again later. It’s my turn-”
“But Jungkook -” Jimin dragged out the last syllable of his name childishly. He felt a little silly, but he wanted to be a little silly.
“A deal’s a deal baby.” Jungkook crawled closer, until he was in the middle of the bed. He dragged Jimin in by his hips. Jimin was surprised Jungkook had even managed it. He might have shrieked as he was pulled, the lower part of his robe splitting open again. He should have felt shy, but the alcohol only made his head spin, sending waves of excitement through his body.
“You were too far. I want to see you.”
Jimin tried to hide his face as he blushed again.
“New rule, if you turn away from me, you have to take a shot.”
“That’s stupid, what if I need to use the bathroom, do I walk backwards?” Jimin pushed at Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook caught his hand and brought it down to his lap, both hands clasping onto his.
“My turn. Can I hold your hand?”
Jimin watched as Jungkook trailed his fingertips over Jimin’s stubby hand. He was really insecure about his hands and feet. He remembered being in school and how all the other boys would talk about hand length being proportionate to dick length- and naturally everyone realised Jimin had really small hands. The dick part was irrelevant. It was the bullying that marred his opinion of them.
But Jungkook’s touch was so soft and light. Jimin felt like he was swept into a pleasant reverie. He wanted Jungkook to always play with his hands. If Jungkook liked them, he wanted to like them too. He nodded his head.
“You-” Jimin started, his breath hitched and he had to clear his throat. “How do you know my name?”
Jungkook huffed through his nose, smiled and reached back for the wine bottle. He drank straight from the finish and swiped his mouth clean with the back of his hand.
“How many partners have you had?” Jungkook asked.
Jimin rolled his eyes and took the bottle. He considered pouring it into his glass but Jungkook was still holding onto his hand. He wasn’t confident about doing it single-handedly and anyway, he rather be held by Jungkook than keep up with wine drinking decorum- as if it wasn’t already a lost cause what with the table-glasses they were using.
Jimin felt the burn in his throat as he took a swig. When he was done, the bottle was very nearly empty. “Why did you sign up for this? Being married to me, I mean.”
Jungkook traced the veins from the palm of his hand and up his wrist. “Because of you.”
“You really expect me to believe that bullshit about balance and all that? Really?”
“I think you’re drunk, baby,” Jungkook smirked at him.
He knew he was drunk. The wine was coursing through him, setting his blood on a low simmer. It made him both horny and really sleepy. He wanted Jungkook’s hands to run all over him, and at the same time he wanted to shut his eyes and nod off. “We’re playing until one of us passes out. Jungkook, tell me the truth.”
Jungkook pulled the bottle out from his grasp and drank up the last few mouthfuls. “My turn-”
Jimin flopped sideways onto the bed. He wanted to throw a tantrum and be a brat, and he wanted Jungkook to fuss over him.
“I don’t want to play anymore, you’re no fun.”
“I thought you wanted to play till-”
“That’s before I realised what a sore loser you are. You probably have a really high tolerance and you’re just making fun of me right now.”
“I’m sorry baby, I didn’t mean to. You’re really cute though when you get all riled up like this.”
“Jungkook?” Jimin called out languidly. Now that his head was resting, he felt like sleep would claim him soon.
Jungkook hummed, hands moving up Jimin’s arms and coming to rest on his waist.
“Jungkook, I’m cold.” He didn’t even want to look down to see how high the slit was in his robe, but he knew his thighs were bare, pebbling up from the chill of the air conditioner.
He felt some movement, and then he was enveloped with a blanket, warm and heavy around him.
“Jungkook,” he called out again.
“Are you going to sleep here with me?”
“Do you want me to?” Came Jungkook’s muted reply.
“Mhm, yes please.”
“Okay baby, I will.”
The bed dipped and the lights went off, then Jungkook’s hand was back on his waist, patting him like how his mother used to when he was much younger.
“I miss my mom,” Jimin admitted in a whisper.
“Yeah? Do you want to tell me about her?”
“Mm, she’s really nice. And she’s my mother. She loves me a lot. My dad was really mean to her. Sometimes he was mean to me too, but I don’t remember much anymore. We went to a lot of therapy too. I’m really glad he’s dead.”
“You must have had a rough time growing up baby. I’m sorry you had to go through it.”
Jimin felt Jungkook’s weight settling over him. He must have scooted closer. Jimin nuzzled his face into the crook of Jungkook’s neck, where it felt warm and smelled nice.
“It made me learn a lot of things, pick up stuff from the streets because we had to survive somehow. I never wanted to be a spy but I needed the cash. They recruited me because I had so much weird stuff going on, like the sign language thing and lock picking, and taekwondo, pick pocketing, I can-” Jimin yawned tiredly. “-I can lie really well too. Jungkook, I think I’m- goodnight now.”
“Sleep baby, sleep. I hope you have only good dreams, Jimin.”
Day 64 9.32 am
Drumming : Getting louder by the second
Memories : Or dreams?
The dull thrumming in his head confused him.
Images snuck in and out of his head, unrelated yet seemingly significant- a pair of eyes, a nose, a strong jaw. They flicked by quicker and quicker until it was but a blur of grey.
Then came the sharp ringing.
Jimin woke up with a start, gasping and eyes wide. The room was dark, but between the shadows, there were strips of blinding white. He realised that the blackout curtains were still drawn, and the sunlight was peeking through the gap.
Another ring blared through the room and Jimin recognised the sound of the telephone. He twisted around- only that he couldn’t, and glanced down to see an arm slung around his midriff and holding him down. He followed the arm, muscled and lax, all the way to a bare shoulder.
He threw his face into his pillow in hopes of dissipating the blush on his face. He hadn’t realised that Jungkook had slept shirtless. He was all too aware of how closely they had clung to each other during the night. Had it been improper? Was that even a question worth asking? He was only in a flimsy robe, that was now loose enough half his nipple could be seen, and the hem raised dangerously close to his groin.
The phone rang again, and Jimin lifted Jungkook’s arm up, being careful not to look at him, lest his brain reduced to a pile of goo, and tiptoed to put a stop to the incessant ringing.
It was a morning call, of sorts, but really it was a reminder for them to check out by ten. Jimin nearly had a heart attack when he realised they had slept for about eleven hours.
Jungkook was snoring lightly, still dead to the world, and Jimin rubbed at his eyes blearily. It was such a good sleep, too good that he still felt sleepy. The bed was inviting him, as was Jungkook’s prone form, but Jimin couldn’t bring himself to look at him yet.
He picked up his phone from the shelf, and thumbed in his passcode. He had one new alert and that was an email- stamped 9:15 am. His fingers trembled as he opened it, skipping past Kareena’s short message as he downloaded the attachment.
There was a bio page- with Anna Kasevka’s name and personal details- and then there were documents scrounged from public records, as well as sightings of her.
He sat down on the chair as he read the first news clipping.
It was a report of an explosion in a textile factory- a tragedy in which hundreds of people had died in Mykolaiv, Ukraine. The depiction of the event itself was vague, and only a few lines long. He supposed there must have been a more thorough article about it. There was a gas leak, and proper checks hadn’t been carried out- alas, all it took was a spark. It was a waiting time bomb, really.
He read through the names listed- those who had died, and found three people with the surname Kasevka- Andriy (42), Maria (36) and Myroslava (17). He went back to her details and saw those same names listed under family, all marked ‘Deceased’.
He flipped further through the compilation and saw another newspaper clipping, a local paper from Gilberton, Pennsylvania, congratulating the newest batch of graduates from Shenandoah Valley High School. She looked a little different then, as it was dated more than a decade ago. Her features were not as sharp, but it was unmistakably her- those same eyes, and same mouth curving upwards in a smile.
Then another photo- a scan from a yearbook belonging to the University of Detroit- with a basketball team, and there she was again, taller, more poised and confident.
A listing that included her name under a business venture- as an associate in a pharmaceuticals company, then a sales rep dealing with insurance, a short stint with healthcare, and finally- her recent job as secretary to Chief Executive Officer. As he looked through the years, he noticed there was a time, about four years ago, in which there had been no records whatsoever of her- for a span of 2 years. No activity on Facebook and none on LinkedIn or any other social media platform.
He could hazard a guess that was when she was recruited, during which she had undergone training. From then on, every single choice made- though separately held no pattern- interpreted with the knowledge Jimin had, was tailored to raise her up the ranks to her current position.
He sent a text to Kareena, thanking her for her work, and asked her to prepare a similar document for one Douglas Collins. It was merely for formality’s sake, at this point. It didn’t take a genius to figure out that he was involved in the gas explosion in some way or another.
One thing he could take away from this, was that Anna Kasevka had very likely been telling the truth.
Jimin startled and turned his phone off, jerking his head to the side.
He’d momentarily forgotten that Jungkook was half naked and now he was assaulted by it. Jungkook was spread eagle on the bed, blanket rumpled and twisted around his legs. Once he’d looked though, Jimin couldn’t tear his eyes away. Jungkook was stupidly gorgeous. It was like someone had deliberately crafted a man with perfect proportions. His shoulders were strong and rounded, his pecs sculpted, his waist tapered, and from what little he could see from the top of Jungkook’s sweats, his v-line was deep.
Physically, Jungkook was the perfect man.
The man whose hands fumbled across the mattress, stretching lazily. Jimin felt a thrill go down his spine at the thought of Jungkook searching for him in his sleep.
But now wasn’t the time for it. In fact, now there wasn’t time at all. He talked down his pounding heart, and bit his smile away, grabbing a stray pillow and thwacked it over Jungkook’s legs.
Jungkook groaned and lifted his head, his hair mused and his gaze unfocused.
“We need to leave in ten minutes, get up sleepy head.”
Day 64 10.27 am
Dynamics : More legato than staccato
There was a change, maybe subtle to outside eyes, since they were always putting on a show, but to Jimin it was distinct.
He felt lighter around Jungkook, a little less angry, a little less confused. There was no blatant ‘I like you’, but it was implied, in the way Jungkook helped carry his bag, and the way he was always touching Jimin either on his shoulder or on his back, the way he rushed out of the driver’s seat to open Jimin’s door and the way they shared shy little smiles.
It was like they were in their own little bubble.
And it popped when they walked into the office. It was only ever the five of them. No one else had come close to the building, not since the day Jimin stepped in. Now there were men in suits, very clearly wearing earpieces. One of them flipped his jacket back when Jimin and Jungkook entered, and Jimin caught sight of a gun in a holster.
“No, no, they’re part of the team!” Kareena stood up and raised her hand in caution.
Jimin looked at Jungkook, who was just as confused and turned to Kareena, raising his brows. She motioned them away from the men- three, that Jimin counted.
“What’s going on?” Jimin asked.
“Transfer of classified information.”
“What do you mean? Doesn’t Chris usually handle it himself at their office?” Jungkook muttered.
“I’m not too sure, but I think they were trying to get a hold of him yesterday and he didn’t answer. Probably because he was on standby for us last night and went no contact with them. Anyway, they came in just a couple of minutes ago. Jimin I sent you a text, didn’t you see?”
Jimin pulled his phone out of his pocket and saw a notification from Kareena. He’d been so distracted he must have overlooked the vibration. “Sorry,” he answered sheepishly. “I didn’t see this.”
“S’alright. There’s another one in the room with Chris. They pulled the blinds down, and you know that door is soundproof. Suppose we’ll find out if it’s important.”
“Yeah, suppose so,” Jimin said. He noticed that Jungkook was looking around the room, eyes darting across.
“Where’s Hanna?” Jungkook asked abruptly.
Kareena looked up, scanning the room. “She was here earlier, but she must have stepped out for a bit. She’s either at the rooftop or walking the perimeter.”
Jimin wanted to ask, but at the same time, he didn’t. Things were different now between him and Jungkook, but there were still a lot of unanswered questions.
Day 64 10.31 am
Jungkook : At his desk
In the end, he chose to go with his gut instinct. And his gut told him to ask for Kareena’s help.
“Thanks for earlier,” he whispered under his breath. “This might be a bit much but can you pull up records for the whole team?”
He threw in his own name just to keep her off his scent- he trusted her, but there was still the tiniest of doubts. Out of all of them, Chris was the only one with a verified background, being with the CIA- and anyway, he doubted he could learn much from him, a lot of his information would be redacted. The rest of them, on the other hand, were acting independently and so their records existed and were accessible.
She looked confused, but Jimin pleaded with her once more. “This is really important. I need to cross reference some things. And I need this information right now, or as soon as possible. You can drop Mr. Collins down the list.”
It didn’t take much more than that for Kareena to agree.
Day 64 10.37 am
Hanna : Wrapped in a cloak and shawl
He’d been watching the entrance absently just as she entered. She stopped when they made eye contact- lifted her chin, and went to her seat.
Day 64 10.39 am
Getting a : Headache from side eying Hanna and Jungkook
Jungkook was whispering furiously at her, and she looked sternly back at him.
It was all very strange.
He might have also been a tad jealous.
Day 64 10.53 am
Chris : As serious as Jimin had ever seen him
Corkboard : Pinned with three more faces
“New POI’s.” Chris waved to the board. “Hanna, please, brief us.”
She stood up and crossed her arms. Everything about her seemed so different from the desperate frantic person Jimin had seen several hours ago. She was cool and collected, not a strand of hair out of place.
“Jan spent the whole night talking to everyone but with these people he seemed more- familiar. There were more touches, hurried words- everything pointing towards a relationship extending beyond regular business. At some point the three of them were huddled in a group. Here’s the recording.” She pulled out her phone and clicked on it. There was some static, and then a loud and rough sound of fabric swishing over the mic, before a voice of low timbre filled the room.
“We have the green light boys. She’ll be here in three days. The dock is handled. Joe, we need the manpower from you. Think you can be ready on time?”
“Sure, not a problem.”
“Alright. We’ll load it all up and then distribute two days later. That’s enough of a cushion and boss approves-”
“Hey, is that a waitress? Bran, how’re the ads coming along? Heard your side had some problems with-”
“They went on to talk about something else,” Hanna said, pausing the playback. “But this means that the shipment of weapons we were expecting will be coming in three- no, that would be two days now. As of yet, we’re uncertain of where. Kareena is working on tracing his past movements, to see if there’s a location that stands out.”
“Excellent. Jungkook? Jimin? Anything to report from last night?”
Jimin had technically learned a whole lot last night but those were for his ears only. Hanna was staring him down, and Jimin shifted in his seat. No, he wouldn’t reveal anything about her, not just yet. He shook his head.
“Just that I’ve been offered jobs, though I wasn’t approached by Jan,” Jungkook answered. “That guy though, the one in the middle, he was talking about visiting his family down in Virginia over the next week. I think, Kareena, you should narrow the search to the area.”
“He was the one doling out the orders,” Hanna noted.
“Alright,” Chris stood up. “We need this info ASAP. Get to it. Jungkook and Jimin you should probably head back to Bluefield.”
Jimin had started getting out of his seat when Jungkook suddenly said, “I have another thing to ask actually.”
“What’s that?” Chris asked, as he moved the corkboards aside.
“That inside man who’s been giving us information, what do we know about him? And how deep is he in it?”
“Why do you ask?” Hanna interjected. She too had sat back down.
“Not much of a reason actually. Just wondered, and we have to warn them of the shipment so they can try to keep track of it.”
Hanna was frowning at him, but Chris waved his hand. “Sorry, Jungkook, but I’m afraid I can’t share any information about him. And if I’m being honest, I’m only being handed the transcripts, but I’ll notify the team so that they can arrange things on their end. Good job guys.”
Day 64 3.20 pm
Home : Sweet home... not
Cameras : Obvious, now that he was looking for them.
Jungkook had dropped him off at the house, then went into town to pick up Kookie from the boarding kennel.
Jimin stowed away his things, and dropped his laundry into the wash, then went around the house to look for the cameras.
He knew someone had to be watching, so he tried to be discreet about it. Now that he was here, alone, and seeing the camera in the kitchen first hand, he realised how creepy it was. Creepy and weird and fucking scary.
God, all those times when he’d been home by himself, and some creep had known he’d been alone, and fuck- that was just not a thought Jimin wanted to dwell on.
He went around the house and found three more cameras, all active, in which two were also equipped with listening devices.
He couldn’t help but think of how no one else could have had the opportunity to install them, other than Jungkook. It pained him to admit it, but now wasn’t the time for biasness.
There was the matter of Jungkook being chummy with Hanna beforehand, before this stint started and how she was the one who had all these extra bits of information up her sleeve. It was also how Jungkook knew his full name, how he’d written down to ‘watch Jimin’, and how he had suddenly brought up the notion of the rat. At the time, Jimin had been numb from shock, but now when he considered everything together, had it simply been a ruse? Had Jungkook meant to divert his attention? Was Jungkook just toying with him?
Was Jungkook the rat he’d been searching for?
His heart and his head were at odds, vying for attention. He didn’t know if he was jumping to conclusions or if he was refusing to follow the trail of breadcrumbs leading him to Jungkook.
Day 64 8.15 pm
Guestroom : Number 2
Random Spotify playlist : On loop
Jimin had one earphone plugged in while looking through the slats. It was pretty futile since Jan wasn’t at home and it was pitch black outside.
“I love this song.”
Jungkook’s voice travelled from the doorway and Jimin glanced back to see him coming in. They hadn’t really spoken to each other having returned from the city. Jimin had cooped himself up in the guestroom, evading Jungkook while trying to organise his thoughts. And it made him feel like shit. He could hear the hesitancy in Jungkook’s tone, like he worried he’d done something wrong and now Jimin was punishing him.
It didn’t help that Jimin missed him- missed the closeness they shared and how comfortable it had been.
Also, he was stupidly attracted to Jungkook’s hot body, he might as well say it.
It was just so hard. Especially right now when he was suddenly overwhelmed by Jungkook’s sincerity that he wanted to believe in him. But when he stared at the evidence stacking up against him, Jimin could only second guess himself. That’s how he’d spent the entire evening, going back and forth plucking flower petals over guilty and innocent .
When Jimin didn’t answer, Jungkook’s face fell and he ran his hand through his hair.
“Listen, Jimin, can we talk?”
He wasn’t sure that meant. He was scared- that Jungkook might just admit to it all and Jimin couldn’t really handle that. He was beginning to really like Jungkook. And he worried that he was going to let personal affections cloud over his judgements.
It was absolutely quiet, save for the low thrum of the machines.
“Baby, what’s wrong?”
Jimin sucked in a breath and turned around. “Nothing’s wrong Jungkook. I just- I just want to be alone right now.”
He wanted Jungkook to leave before he blurted something stupid. When he heard the sound of the door shutting, he dropped his head against the window, exhaling harshly. “Fuck,” he whispered to himself. Fuck him, fuck Jungkook and fuck this stupid fucking case.
He twisted his shirt around his neck, breathing in deeply while trying to calm his heart. He needed to get a grip. He needed to be rational.
He turned around and yelped.
Jungkook was still in the room, watching him.
“What,” Jimin gasped, “-what are you still doing here?”
Jungkook edged closer with knitted brows. “I don’t understand what’s going on. What’s wrong, baby? Tell me.”
Jimin felt very small. He wanted to be Jungkook’s baby. He wanted to be held and caressed, and be addressed by that gentle voice. He wanted to be at the centre of Jungkook’s world.
Jimin shook his head wildly, a lump lodged in his throat. He didn’t want to cry but it was a struggle holding it all in.
“You just-” Jimin choked out. “Why are you keeping so many secrets?”
They were standing only a foot apart but it felt like a wide berth, a deep chasm between them. Jungkook looked resigned. “I could ask you the same thing, couldn’t I baby? What were you doing with that woman at the party? What’s going on between you and Kareena? What are you keeping from me?”
It was at the tip of his tongue but he reeled it in. Anna Kasevka had made him promise, after all. Jungkook’s expression painted a thousand words, dejected and distrustful. Jimin forced himself to look away. “I- I can’t tell you.”
He heard Jungkook sigh. “Me neither baby. And I can’t tell you if you won’t tell me.”
He wanted to say right back at you . But it was pointless. They were literally talking in circles.
Day 65 1.47 am
In : Bed
But : Awake
His phone chimed and Jimin scrambled to check it.
He had a new email from Kareena and tapped it open immediately. The backlight from his phone was harsh on his eyes but he couldn’t care less. There were five separate documents attached, one for each of them. There was no accompanying message this time and even if there was, Jimin wouldn’t have bothered.
He went straight for Jungkook’s file.
A father- and mother, a younger brother and sister. He could imagine them in his head, a little family of five.
He continued reading and saw that Jungkook had graduated from UCLA with a degree in Physics. It was no wonder he handled his cover so well. He was obviously gifted- and Jimin- Jimin felt like he’d cheated him. It sucked that he was learning all of this by going around Jungkook’s back and sneaking a look at his file.
But he told himself that he had to.
He skipped to the next page. Unlike Anna Kasevka, Jungkook was mentioned mostly for his accolades. A math decathlon, debate, a miniature self-made car race. Jungkook had had a busy college life. He really was the epitome of a star pupil.
But seeing the kind of family and life he had- a doctor for a father, and a nurse for a mother. His sister pursuing fashion; and Jungkook himself had an education only few had the courage to dream of- how did Jungkook end up in this line of work? Not even a proper detective, but a spy.
He flipped further to an obituary. A Jeon Eunae, aged 87 had passed away a month ago. The family section listed Jungkook as her grandchild. A month ago, Jimin had already met Jungkook. A month ago, Jimin hated Jungkook with his entire being.
He fumbled with his phone and had to put it down for a second. They always said to never judge a book by its cover. Well, it didn’t exactly apply, but it was close enough. Jimin had seen the cover, read the forewords, and completely tossed the book aside.
He picked up his phone again and went to Hanna’s profile. She was an only child, like himself, went to an all girls high school, then graduated in UC- Jimin rubbed his eyes and stared at his phone, zooming in on the words.
Hanna had gone to UCLA as well.
He flipped back to Jungkook’s file and saw that he was in the Class of 2015. Hanna too had graduated then, but her entering cohort was in 2012, one year after Jungkook.
He felt dizzy. He didn’t know what to think or do with this information. He quickly flipped through the rest of her file, wondering if there were any pictures Kareena had included. There were, of course, snapshots from the yearbooks, the same ones that contained Jungkook’s pictures but they never appeared together. Jimin went through them meticulously, all three yearbooks detailing the academic years of 2012 to 2015.
Then he followed up on their lives after university, comparing them side by side. Two years after graduating, Jungkook and Hanna were once again in the same city. It wasn’t much. People in big cities could live next door and not know a single thing about each other. But this made it a grand total of three times they were in the same location at about the same time. They say once is chance, twice is coincidence, but thrice is a pattern.
He flopped back onto his bed and skimmed over his profile, Kareena’s and Chris’ too, just in case. He didn’t have anything to say about Chris’ file- even his real name was censored. But his and Kareena’s came out clean.
He closed his eyes and tried to think of how this played into the bigger picture. Were they partners? Were they both double agents?
Was Jimin in danger?
Day 65 11.52 am
Last night : Slightly painful, slightly awkward
This morning : Very painful, very awkward
With every minute that ticked by, Jimin was beginning to lose confidence and trust in Jungkook. He couldn’t even be in the same room as him.
When he entered the kitchen, Jimin finished off his toast in the living room.
When he came to grab a book, Jimin went up to the second guestroom to appear busy.
When he stood at the door, saying he could take over, Jimin sat in the backyard with Kookie.
It was like a game- a delicate dance of dodging each other- well, him dodging Jungkook. He ignored Jungkook when he tried to linger, and once Jungkook asked outright if Jimin could stay- he gave a flimsy excuse that Jungkook had definitely seen right through.
It was childish in a very un-childlike situation.
It was like that night in the hotel never happened, like Jungkook hadn’t been steadily crawling into his heart, because they were now back to square one. He refused to even look at Jungkook. He felt betrayed and hurt. He was confused, and most of all, he felt the pain of heartbreak.
It was all just an act. Jungkook didn’t like him, he never did, and Jimin should have never opened up his heart.
There were moments when he felt so angry he wanted to just haul Jungkook up and- hit him. The mental image was unbidden but overcharged- a rain of punches and kicks and blood dribbling down Jungkook’s face. But all that brought was sadness. Jimin felt so weak for feeling horrid about it. He was angry about being angry and regretting that anger. He almost laughed at himself.
The one thing Jimin swore he would never do- after seeing how his own mother had to pick up the broken pieces of their lives when his father had wreaked havoc- and he’d gone and fallen in love with someone probably worse.
Day 65 2.33 pm
The Andersons : Still not back
Getting : Fidgety
They got a call from Chris saying they’d found the port. They were now organising a surveillance team to stand guard. Once the shipment came in, the plan was to hold out until Jan Anderson himself made an appearance. It would be the nail in the coffin, tying him directly to the case. But on the off chance that he wouldn’t, then they’d round up everyone else involved. The main thing, Chris emphasised, was to make sure the weapons didn’t get distributed to those cities.
Since Jimin and Jungkook were so far out, they were instructed to stay put.
Day 65 4.21 pm
Email : Received
Subject : Douglas Collins
Kareena’s note read that she hadn’t gone through the information herself, and just sent him everything her search came up with. It was of no consequence. He would get to it when he found the time. Douglas Collins wasn’t their priority.
Day 65 6.54 pm
Jungkook : Showering
Lock : Picked with a safety pin
The water was running and Jimin gave himself ten minutes to quickly go through Jungkook’s things. He wasn’t expecting to find anything but he needed to check all the same. Though he’d severely underestimated the mess in Jungkook’s room. It was like looking for a needle in a haystack. He flipped one shirt over and there was another below it. He went to the table and there was a mountain of rubbish. He looked in the drawers and they were bare. There was nothing underneath the mattress, but there was a little box squeezed between the bedframe and the wall that had a padlock on it. Jimin rattled it around and there was nothing echoing from within.
Day 65 9.45 pm
Back from : Walking the dog
Extremely : Quiet
And : Dark
It reminded him of a movie scene. The moment in which a character had gone off in the night and came back to an eerily silent house shrouded in darkness; then upon crossing the threshold, someone sat in an armchair turned on a lamp to announce their presence.
It was as elaborate a setup as that. Except that Jungkook was on the chaise lounge and he flicked on the lights, rather than a lamp. Jimin would have found Jungkook’s flair for the dramatics hilarious, if not for the fact that it was Jungkook , and Jimin was struggling to evade him.
“Where have you been?”
Jimin glanced at him nervously and took off his jacket. “Walking the dog?”
“So late at night?”
Jungkook was actually being serious and Jimin had to do a double take. “Is there a specific time to walk the dog? You know what? Forget it. I’m heading up.”
He turned away but barely managed to put his foot down, and was suddenly dragged by the back of his shirt. Before he could retaliate, Jungkook pushed him up against the wall and held his hands over his head.
Jimin’s first reaction was for his heart to start thudding traitorously. His breath caught in his throat and his eyes automatically went to Jungkook’s lips.
He was no different than the metaphorical Pavlov’s dog.
He twisted his head to the side, cutting Jungkook from his line of sight
“No, don’t look away from me Jimin.” Jungkook transferred his hold to one hand and with his other hand, he angled Jimin’s face back to the front. Jimin squeezed his eyes shut.
“I’m only going to ask one more time, baby. Please. All you need to do is just tell me the truth. If you have reasons, I’ll try to understand.”
“I have nothing to say,” Jimin bit out.
He felt something soft and cold trace along his cheeks and around his jaw. He squeezed his eyes harder.
“Jimin,” Jungkook breathed out.
The grip on his wrist tightened. Jungkook dropped his hand from his face to trail past the curve of his waist. He pinched the fabric of Jimin’s shirt between his fingers and tugged.
It all felt so surreal. His eyes were closed and he felt all these touches, the sounds of Jungkook’s breaths- everything- everything was amplified. It consumed him. All it took was for Jungkook to corner him against a wall for Jimin to lose his head and want to be kissed silly.
Jungkook licked down his neck, pulling Jimin’s shirt lower as his kisses trailed down to Jimin’s chest.
Jimin arched off the wall, wriggling his fingers.
“Just tell me, hm? Baby? Just tell me.”
He felt- felt so stupid . How could he fall for the same tricks twice?
He felt tears collecting in his eyes, from frustration, from embarrassment. He gathered all his anger and ripped his hands, pushing Jungkook back.
“Don’t you fucking dare touch-”
“Touch you?” Jungkook seized his arms again, holding them behind Jimin’s back.
“I’m fucking trying Jimin. You’re fucking- I have no fucking clue what you’re doing, or what the fuck is going on, and I have all these- these whispered words from these people- and I’m asking you now. Jimin? Okay? I’m asking you now baby. Please, fucking tell me what the fuck is going on.”
He put on a good show, Jimin could admit to it. Jungkook was breathing heavily onto him, his chest heaving, his cheeks reddened.
“I hate you.”
Jungkook made a strangled sound in his throat, eyebrows furrowing, and lips downturned. “Jimin, why can’t you-”
“I hate you, I fucking hate you.” Jimin snapped. How could Jungkook think so little of him, after- after everything. Even if it was all just an act, how could Jungkook use him so blatantly- so heartlessly. “You’re going to get what’s coming for you,” Jimin choked out. “And I hope you suffer from it.”
Jungkook’s jaw fell open as he stared at him, his grip loosening. Jimin saw his chance and threw Jungkook off, running up to his room and making sure to lock his door. It felt like he was constantly doing that, always running to his room to hide out.
Day 66 – the whole day
Occupants : On either ends of the house
Updates came in every few minutes. Jungkook and Jimin were both in contact with the team but separately. No one found it odd enough to comment on, either that or no one had actually noticed. Hanna probably did. She was probably rejoicing.
They had found the cargo ship- seeing that there was only one coming in from Europe within the entire duration of the week, so it wasn’t very hard to figure out. There was a special forces team there for reinforcement as well, along with other agents from the CIA.
It was a waiting game.
They waited hours.
Yet all it took was twenty minutes- for the vessel to dock, for the crates to be unloaded, for the team to storm in, and for there to be toy guns of the plastic variety found- for this one pivotal evidence to crumble into dust.
It wasn’t just a mistake, or a case of the perpetrators absconding. It was them being made fun off. They were deliberately set up and laughed at. Someone had taken the piss at them, Jan Anderson, most definitely. And they all fell into the trap like bees to honey.
Day 66 11.40 pm
One new message : From unknown number
Park Jimin, come alone to the gas station off Eve Street at 3 am. Attached is proof of information. If not alone, evidence will be destroyed. If late, evidence will be destroyed. If armed, evidence will be destroyed. If wired, evidence will be destroyed. If shared, evidence will be destroyed. You’ve been warned.
Jimin opened the image to see an email with sections blacked out. There was too much redacted for him to string them together. But the parts that were there painted a clear enough picture. They were messages detailing the team’s movements, identities, the likes.
He felt so out of breath. He couldn’t believe what he’d received. Was it truly a tip off, or was it just another ruse? Was Jungkook up to something? Was Hanna? Questions, questions, but no answers. As much as he didn’t want to, and as much as he knew this could very well end badly, he had to do what he had to do, whatever the stakes.
Day 67 2.57 am
Fog : Thick
Crickets : Chirping
Unease : Stemmed from waiting. Waiting in the dark and alone was always-
The sound of tires screeching interrupted his thoughts. A car rolled up from the corner, fast and uncontrolled. It came to a halt right in front of Jimin, the headlights blinding him momentarily. He threw his elbow up, forearm shading his eyes.
In his temporary blindness he hadn’t seen the two men, both in ski masks, stepping out of the car. One moment all he saw was light and the next, he was thrust into the dark. A sack of rough woven material was thrown over his head and clasped around his neck.
He was shoved into the car, right up against the window. The second the door closed, the car lurched forward. He couldn’t see where he was going or who he was with. The motion of the moving car contrasting with his repressed senses nearly made him nauseous but he focused on an imaginary dot in his head.
Survival instincts told him to keep silent. Logic told him to count down the seconds. Self-awareness told him to focus on the conversation around him, imprinting the voices to memory for later retrieval.
Around the time he reached the one thousand mark, the car jerked to a stop, and Jimin was once again hustled out. They pushed and pulled, tripping him up as they moved from the car to the inside of a building. It was still cold though, as if the building didn’t have proper heaters. There was not a sound to be heard, pin drop silence all around him save from that coming from the men.
“Search him,” a new voice ordered and Jimin felt the chill in his bones. He knew that voice, there was no mistaking it.
Hands patted him down roughly. Someone pinched his ass and Jimin yelped, elbowing him with his restrained hands. The guy laughed mockingly and Jimin flushed.
“Enough. Take it off.”
The sack was ripped from his head, stray ends scratching over his face. Jimin blinked several times to accommodate the fluorescent lights. When he came to, Jan Anderson was standing opposite him, distaste evident on his features, slimy and intimidating as he was.
Without warning Jan socked Jimin in his stomach and he doubled over, coughing and crouching at the force of it. Jan hadn’t pulled his punch and he seemed to have enjoyed Jimin’s reaction. “Fucking cunt .”
Jimin blocked out his words, getting his breathing under control, and tightening his rectus muscle to stop the pain from spreading. He gathered saliva in his mouth, straightened up and spat it out forcefully. A glob slithered slowly down Jan’s face.
He grabbed Jimin by the back of his neck and head butted him. If he’d been blinded by the lights then he might as well have lost his eyes from the flash of white exploding in his head.
“Listen to me, motherfucker.” Jan pulled ruthlessly on his hair. “I’m not here to play games with you. I would never stoop down to scum like you but what can I do when your side has screwed me over.”
“You’ve been getting information about us?” Jimin wheezed.
“Course I’ve been getting information about you.” Jan scoffed condescendingly. “Even without the knowledge, I would have been able to tell right away. How convenient you and your little play husband were? Chumming up to my wife, and my son!” He slammed his foot into Jimin’s thigh and Jimin fell over. “Fucking infiltrating my family? And not only that but putting flighty ideas into my wife’s head?”
He curled into himself, protecting his organs as Jan continued stomping on him. It hurt like a fucking bitch but he had to think smart. He wasn’t in any position to attack, and so he had to rely on defence being his only offence.
“You treat her like shit!” Jimin managed to croak out. “You don’t deserve her you fucking piece shit.”
“Yeah? Well too bad fuck face, I’m her husband and she’s my wife.”
“I will- I’ll-” Jimin gasped for breath, catching Jan’s foot in his hand. He meant to flip him over but he mistimed it, and Jan hopped onto his other foot, knocking into Jimin’s chin in a hard collision.
His head bounced on the concrete floor and Jimin screamed. He clutched his head and Jan stooped down to drag him up. Jimin struggled to stay on his feet, and Jan gripped him tighter, pulling him up to his toes.
“Listen to me loud and clear. I’ll reshape your entire face if I have to but I’m not going to kill you. Trust me, I want nothing more than to see the light leave your eyes, but I have a fucking problem. And you need to solve it.”
Jimin tilted to the side as the weight in his head intensified. Jan slapped him across his cheek and Jimin’s eyes flew open.
“Look! Look there! All those crates. What do you think is in there, huh? Weapons! My weapons! But that fucking nutjob diverted it here. He’s a bent bastard. But he’s not going to screw me over, not when I still have you. You're my trump card. You want the evidence? I’ll give you the name. Huh? How about that huh? Are you listening you fucking prick?!” Jan laughed and threw his head back. Jimin had the distinct impression that Jan wasn’t talking to him anymore. “Your game’s up. Huh? J-”
One moment, Jan had been frothing in the mouth and the next, his eyes went blank and a bullet was embedded in his forehead. Jimin flopped to the ground like a dead fish and watched in shock as Jan died right before his eyes. Blood trickled in slow motion form the entry point over his eyebrows and into his open eyes.
The two other men who were accompanying him drew out their guns and were waving them wildly.
His fight or flight response kicked in and Jimin scrambled to his feet, running to one of the crates. He shoved the lid off, splinters catching in his fingers.
Jan had said so but it was still a surprise to see rows and rows of guns in there- machine guns, carbines, assault rifles, shotguns. Jimin plucked out a handgun, which was at the topmost of the pile, and did a quick press check to see if it was loaded. He then aimed at one of the two men, yelling at them to get down on their knees.
The one who was further away fired at him, and Jimin ducked behind the crate.
It was crazy. It was absolutely crazy. The two guys were yelling at each other, yelling at him too probably, in a language that Jimin couldn’t understand. It was definitely Eastern European and unfortunately, those were the ones Jimin was the least proficient in. He felt so dizzy from the barrage of hits and all the loud yelling. He just wanted to tell everyone to shut up.
There were more shots fired suddenly, and Jimin wondered if Jan’s killer had finally shown himself. He’d been about to reveal the name of the rat and it was no coincidence that he’d been shot right at that moment. The pinpoint accuracy of the trajectory was impeccable. There was no doubt about it, the killer was a trained man. Or woman. But Jan had specifically said he .
He felt so harassed, that he’d come all the way only to lose the evidence. He honed in on the gunfire, calculating the shooter’s position in his head, then stood up, fired a few shots and ducked back under cover.
It was no use though. They were in some sort of warehouse that had huge units in several columns. For one thing, it probably saved his life, otherwise Jimin would have gotten hit in the crossfire. But the shitty part was that, the killer and the two other guys were hidden as well, and Jimin needed to move if he was going to get out alive.
He crawled on his elbows and knees, the skin of his limbs scraping through his torn clothes, and flung himself along a unit. He hunched low, running past unit after unit until the gunshots were as loud as could be. He took a deep breath, put his hand on the trigger, braced himself and pushed over the corner, squeezing-
His eyes met a very familiar brown and Jimin wanted to cry . They were several dozen feet away but Jimin could recognise those eyes anywhere.
“ Fuck! ” He slid back behind the cover of the storage unit, his gun held close to his chest. His heart drummed rhythmically in his ears. He leaned his head back and forced the air out of his lungs.
Even until just a few seconds ago, he still had doubts that Jungkook was involved- wanted to have doubts. He was willing to chalk everything up to an overactive imagination. It was just- it couldn’t be. He was ready to convince himself he was just woozy from the hit to his head, but-
He scrunched his eyes, shaking his head, a repetition of ‘nonononononono’ flashing neon and in capital letters-
But it was what it was.
Jimin stepped over the edge again and fired shots in Jungkook’s direction, then fired at the two men. It was a three way shootout- really, a 1-2-1 stand off, and there was no way this was going to end well. He’d nicked another handgun from the crate earlier, and it was tucked into the back of his jeans. That was about it though. Other than the knife in the heel of his shoe, Jimin had no other weapons.
He made a split second decision to go after the unknown men first. They were closer to him, and he needed to go through them to get to Jungkook anyway. So he turned back around and took another route, circling around the pair and approached them from the opposite side. They had to know something was up since Jimin wasn’t firing any bullets and that urged him to move faster. The only thing he had up his sleeve was a surprise attack, since they obviously had the numbers.
He peeked around a crate, sweat dripping into his eyes, and saw a guy, half hidden and with his legs sprawled out. There was a pool of blood next to him, but that was all Jimin could make out.
He stooped down and quick timed to the guy, being mindful of the shots still raging. That meant his partner was caught up with Jungkook. But it was odd for him to leave his friend behind, with a wound, no less. They must have known Jimin would come.
As he got closer, he realised why.
The guy was bleeding profusely, pale as death itself, but in his hand, gripped tight, Jimin could make out something small and round. The man’s eyes flickered back and forth rapidly, as if he was watching for something, and then it clicked.
Jimin scrambled back and despite his best efforts to remain quiet, the guy’s eyes snapped up. He pulled the cap and threw the grenade. It landed closer to him than it did Jimin, but Jimin ran like a bat out of hell.
It felt like he’d been pumping his legs for ages, but it was really only a couple of seconds long. It happened fast, within a blink of an eye. He was thrown up in the air, slammed into another unit, and then a loud boom crashed through him, echoing off the walls.
Jimin ducked and covered his head with his elbows when shrapnel rained down on him. He distantly realised how lucky he’d been that the initial blast had pushed him far beyond the destructive zone of the detonation.
That guy who threw the grenade was as sure as dead.
The haze was pierced with screaming, which he assumed came from Jungkook and the other person.
He coughed and got onto his knees, dust invading his eyes and plumes of toxic gas searing his nose. He didn’t know how far out they were from civilisation, if anyone had heard the explosion. If anyone was coming- if he should run or if he should-
What should he do? Kill Jungkook? Apprehend Jungkook? Kill the other guy? Apprehend him too?
He didn’t even know, much less how .
The structure of the building surprisingly held up. The area that had exploded looked like an absolute disaster, blackened with soot. There were smaller objects here and there caught on fire, but the other units were still secure.
Jimin rubbed his face on his sleeve and stood up on shaky legs, stumbling towards the voices. It got louder and louder the closer he found himself. They were whipping out words, throwing them at each other like they were wielding swords. He didn’t know Jungkook could speak another foreign language, and fluently at that. But it was obvious, if they were all part of the same team, they had to converse somehow.
Jimin picked up his gun and aimed.
The recoil was heavy and Jimin slumped down, as Jungkook staggered back from the shot, clutching his shoulder.
“On your knees,” Jimin said. His voice wavered, and it pained him as much as it embarrassed him.
“You fucking dick! YOU FUCKING DICK! FUCKING SON OF A BITCH!” Jungkook snarled, dropping his gun to press on his shoulder.
Jimin couldn’t tear his eyes away, heart hammering in his chest, and that was his first mistake.
The other guy made a dash for it, running across the front of the warehouse. Jimin fired again at him, but missed. He cursed, dropping his arms and chased after him. The guy was running in zig zag’s and Jimin couldn’t even stop to take aim again. He made it past the entrance in no time, disappearing from Jimin’s sight.
He doubled down, urging his body to go faster as he burst out into the open. His head flicked from left to right, snapping at the slightest sound- then the low rumble of a vehicle came to life and zoomed out from a hidden corner. It came barrelling at him and Jimin rolled on his shoulders to move out of the way. When he unfolded himself, he pulled the trigger, again and again at the backend of the car.
It was a sad, feeble attempt, and he was only wasting his bullets. The guy had managed to flee, a blur in the distance, and no doubt he would spread the word about the incident here.
“Fuck.” Jimin tugged at his hair, hand coming away with a disgusting mixture of blood, debris and sweat. “Fuck!” He said again, a little more emphatically. It was a fucking catastrophe. He stood there blankly for a moment then made his way back into the warehouse.
It was time to confront Jungkook.
Day 67 3.49 am
Walking into the warehouse : Like walking into a warzone
Jungkook : Gone
His second mistake was leaving Jungkook unattended, or rather, unsecured. When he walked in, Jungkook should have been crouched on the floor, but he wasn’t.
Jimin drew his gun out again, holding it in front of him. “It’s just you and me now Jungkook.”
The lights overhead flickered on and off, and smoke was thick and heavy in the air. Jimin had to squint to even make out the outline of the storage units in front of him and they were huge. He had no idea how he was supposed to find Jungkook.
Fire crackled somewhere far off, the acrid stench of burning plastic and the odd object dulling his sense of smell. His eyes stung and he was all the more aware of the aches rattling his bones.
“Are you hiding Jungkook? Like a child?”
A hoarse snigger answered him. “I thought you liked games, Jimin. I’m obliging.”
The voice was nearer than he expected but Jimin had been moving in a completely different direction. He recalibrated and cut through the maze of units.
“Now you want to indulge? That’s poor form Jungkook.”
“You shot me Jimin. I think that’s as poor as you can get. You shot your own husband.”
Jimin froze, his heart squeezing in his chest. “ You’re not my husband, ” he managed to get out.
He heard the flap of fabric, air whooshing around him and Jimin twirled to track the sound. There was nothing he could see and it was deathly quiet for a second. He had a sixth sense that was going haywire, warning him of an impending attack.
He twisted away just in time for a bullet to whiz past and strike one of the units. His gut rose up to his throat but he had no time to even think of how close a call that was before he was leaping away from the direction the shot was fired.
“Running away Jimin? Come on, where’s your sportsmanship. Stay and play.” Jungkook mocked him.
“You’re- you’re insane.” Jimin was panting, completely out of breath. He had no idea where he was going. It was all starting to look the same- ten steps back, ten steps forwards. With the smoke, he couldn’t tell the front of the warehouse from the sides.
“I’m insane? I don’t even know where to start with you! You fucking lied to me Jimin. What the bloody fuck, lying is fine, who fucking cares about lying, but you were- what? Planning some secret coup? What are you getting? Money? Huh? Is it a lot of money? Fucking greedy avaricious dick !”
Jimin fell onto one of the units, stopping for a reprieve. Jungkook’s voice was getting closer again. He felt like he was being hunted, and he knew he didn’t have it in him to last much longer. He was so exhausted. His ribs ached with a soreness so deep, his joints were on fire. Adrenaline was probably the only thing keeping him alive.
If he spoke, he knew it would make it easier for Jungkook to track him. But, was there even a point in hiding? Jungkook was the cat and he was the mouse. If he was to have a chance, maybe he had to rethink his options.
“What secret attack?” Jimin called out. “You were the one behind this, don’t fucking try to push the blame onto me asshole. Is that what you’re going to do Jungkook? Kill me off to silence me? I’m the only witness here. The other guy is gone, and John Doe is in chunks over there.”
He tore off the heel of his shoe in one quick swipe. A combat knife was securely attached and Jimin pried it out, tucking it into his pocket. His gun was almost out of bullets so he tossed it and got his other one out. He checked the chamber of this new semi-auto. It was heavier in his hands, awkward and chunky, but this wasn’t a time to be picky.
He leaned against the container and slid up slowly. He counted to five in his head and set out once more. He had taken only two steps before he was slammed abruptly into a wall. His gun fell away immediately and he saw Jungkook kick it aside.
He snapped his eyes back upwards and saw that Jungkook had tore off the bottom half of his shirt and made a makeshift bandage around his wound. Except for the excessive sweat pouring off his face, and his bleeding arm, Jungkook was unharmed. Jimin on the other hand-
Jungkook had the muzzle of his gun pointed to the underside of Jimin’s jaw. It was blazing hot and Jimin grunted at the shock of it, jerking away. Jungkook tapped the gun on his shoulder.
“Should I shoot you here too? Matching gunshots, baby, how about that?” Jungkook smiled sardonically.
“Get away from me you asshole,” Jimin snapped. He struggled against Jungkook, pushing far enough that he managed to raise his knee and slam into Jungkook’s groin.
Jungkook curled forward at his waist and Jimin elbowed his wound. He grasped the collar of Jungkook’s shirt, pulling him forward so he could knee him in the gut, but Jungkook grabbed onto his leg and slammed him back against the wall.
Jimin slouched down in a grunt, pulling Jungkook down with him. He felt like his head had been split right open. He was swaying as he caught Jungkook in a chokehold, legs wrapping around his waist and squeezing his arm around his neck.
Jungkook immediately flipped them over onto the concrete floor. He felt the skin on his back scrape at the impact. He grappled for the knife in his pocket but Jungkook noticed it right away. One hand he had around Jimin’s jaw, pushing his head up, and the other hand was on his wrist, his fingers digging into Jimin’s skin.
He bit on Jungkook’s finger as hard as he could.
“Fuck! Fuck!” Jungkook yelped, releasing his hold immediately.
Jimin rolled onto his side, still gripping his blade and lunged at him. His hand eye coordination was practically moot by then. His head was ringing, as were his ears and his eyes.
All that talk about Jungkook’s close hand combat expertise was evidently not just for show. He caught Jimin’s hand deftly and twisted his arm behind his back, sending Jimin skidding on the ground, and quickly straddled his back, pinning Jimin’s arms to his sides.
The knife was ripped from his hand and he felt the cool touch of the blade at his neck.
Jungkook held him securely, and even if he hadn’t, the weight of him was enough to keep Jimin down. Struggling only zapped the very little energy he had left.
“Tell me why I shouldn’t just slit your throat right here, right now,” Jungkook pressed into his back threateningly.
Jimin coughed and heaved, head resting sideways on the floor. “I’d expect nothing less,” he groaned, “-from a- from a turncoat .”
“You're going to stick to that story huh? Even with death knocking on your door you’re going to lie straight through your teeth.”
Jimin tried to push Jungkook off but Jungkook was as sturdy as a boulder on top of him. “That’s you !” He screamed. “That’s all you! You planned this. You fed him information about us. You killed him because he was about to out you. It’s you !”
Jungkook was unmoving as Jimin tried to suppress the agonising thumpthumpthump reverberating in his skull.
The next thing he knew, he was flipped onto his back, Jungkook lifting his hips up and resuming his position smoothly. The lights assaulted Jimin’s eyes and he scrunched them tight.
“What are you talking about?! You came here. You came here with your own two feet for this little rendezvous. What the fuck are you blathering on about?”
Jimin thrust his chin, trying to remove Jungkook’s hand from his jaw. “Not because I wanted to, asshole. The question- the question is what are you doing here?
Even though he couldn’t see Jungkook, he could physically feel the trepidation in his voice. “I followed you. I- I put a tracking device on your shoe- your left shoe.”
Jimin scoffed and fell back, his headache coming back in full force. “Yeah? And the cameras too right? Did you have fun watching me?”
The weight on his hips eased, and he felt Jungkook shifting. A moment later there was a shadow looming over him, and Jimin blinked a few times. Jungkook looked confused, his eyebrows pinched into a frown, his jaw slack and his eyes narrowed.
“What are you talking about? What cameras?”
“Don’t pretend like you don’t know. You’re going to kill me anyway. Just- just drop the act okay.”
“ Jimin -”
“It only makes me sick that you’re still pretending. It’s fucking-” He choked on his saliva, and he felt like he might have really died with the way his lungs rattled from the coughing fit that racked his entire body. “Fucking- fuck !”
Jungkook hauled him up by the collar of his shirt, his hands wrapping around Jimin’s waist. Jimin screamed even louder. It was- it was too familiar and he shuddered at how his brain was responding. Even in his last moments, he still wanted to be held in Jungkook’s arms. He was pathetic. And pitiful.
“I fucking hate you Jeon Jungkook,” he sobbed. “I fucking hope you rot in hell.”
“Shut up Jimin.” Jungkook lifted him to his feet, which- tough luck. Jimin’s knees wobbled once and he folded over like a house of cards. Jungkook quickly caught him again, winding Jimin’s arms behind his back. He felt like they were being twisted out of their sockets and cried out.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck! I’m sorry, fuck!” Jungkook released his hands.
“You got manners now Jungkook? Going to say sorry then kill me?” His head lolled onto Jungkook’s chest. His shirt was wet with sweat and stuck to his body. Jimin couldn’t find it in him to move.
“Jimin, something’s not right. It’s not- Jimin . Stay awake. Stay awake, fuck - we- we have to talk.”
Jungkook sounded harried in his ears. He tried to think but it was getting rather difficult. “And you’re going to kill me after that?”
Jungkook was moving him around, lifting Jimin’s arm and looping it around his neck. “We can’t stay here. We need to get out. Move, move !”
All he managed was a half-assed shuffle. He could barely feel his legs. Jungkook did the brunt of the work, carrying him and jogging through the maze of units. He realised he was grasping, digging into the flesh of Jungkook’s chest and he pressed his nails in deeper. Jungkook’s face twisted but he didn’t say anything.
“What- what are you doing?” Jimin asked. “Where are you taking me? Just- just get it over with.” He was leaning on Jungkook’s uninjured side and he bit into his shoulder, putting all his weight into it.
Jungkook swung him around, throwing him against a storage unit forcefully. “Listen to me Jimin. I’m not- I’m not the person you think I am, and I don’t think you’re the person I thought you were. So that means-” Jungkook tilted his head back, hair fluttering with his movements as he laughed scornfully. “That means this is a fuck up of epic proportions. We’ve been fucked over. Do you understand? Jimin? Stay awake. I’m going to-” Jungkook glanced to his side and whipped his head back, catching Jimin’s eyes again. “I’m going to get us home okay. I’m going to- going to patch you up, baby. And then we really have to talk. Nothing- no more secrets. I’ll tell you everything. And you have to tell me everything.”
Day 67 5.15 am
Drifting In: And Out
Jungkook looking over : Every few minutes
Seatbelt : Burning
He had no clue how fast Jungkook was driving, but he was starting to feel really groggy. Jungkook kept tapping at him in intervals and Jimin would always jolt up but Jungkook’s touch was beginning to feel like sweet caresses, lulling him to sleep.
He’d been going over Jungkook’s words. About how they’d been set up. It didn’t really make sense. There was just too much damning evidence against him. There was however the fact that Jimin was pretty much a limp doll at the moment. Jungkook could kill him off he wanted to, if he really was the rat. But he hadn’t.
The alternative was that Jungkook had planned everything to a T- in which case Jimin really deserved to die for making the same mistake over and over again. Yet, a small part deep in his heart was desperate to believe Jungkook. The conviction in his words and actions- it was not from a man who was lying. And though he thought Jungkook had lied to him earlier, this felt right. This was in line with the Jungkook he knew.
The car rolled to a stop. And Jungkook hurried out of his seat. Jimin watched blearily as Jungkook came to his side, kneeling to undo Jimin’s seatbelt.
“Do you think you can stand up?”
Jimin couldn’t even form a fist so he shook his head. Jungkook leaned over and helped him scoot forward, until he was half out of the car.
“Can you get on my back?”
Jimin tried, he really did. But he just couldn’t make the extra effort to climb out of the car. He was completely drained.
“I can’t,” Jimin complained, voice thick with frustration. “I can’t even-”
“It’s okay, it’s okay,” Jungkook hushed him. “I can just carry you.”
Jungkook grabbed his thighs and hefted him into his arms. Jimin melted into him, face tucked into the juncture between Jungkook’s neck and shoulder.
“Jungkook I’m too heavy, you can’t- your arm-” Despite his objections, Jimin pressed himself into Jungkook, wanting to be closer.
“Light as feather, baby,” Jungkook countered, his tone brooking no argument. He carried Jimin up their driveway and into the house. Jimin had no idea how he even unlocked the door. He felt like he was floating in the clouds, like he was gliding with Jungkook.
When he blinked his eyes open he found himself deposited on the counter in a bathroom. It wasn’t the bathroom he’d been using so it must have been the en suite attached to Jungkook’s bedroom. He was staring at the patterns on the tiles when Jungkook remerged, carrying with him a first aid kit and a stack of clothes.
Jungkook laid them on the counter and walked up to Jimin, spreading his legs so that he could stand in between them. He’d left Jimin leaning against the wall, and now Jungkook lifted him further forward, so that they were nearly nose to nose.
Even punch drunk from exhaustion and with a crippling migraine, Jimin flushed all the way to his toes.
“Need you out of your clothes first, baby,” Jungkook said, lifting the hem of Jimin’s shirt.
Jimin raised his hands slowly, stopping when his elbows were up to his shoulders. “I can’t- can’t- anymore.”
Jungkook stared at him for a moment, then asked, “Will you ever wear these clothes again? We can just snip them off.”
There was no point keeping them, being soiled beyond salvation, so he gave his permission. He sat still, nervous and anxious, as Jungkook ran a scissors through the front of his shirt. The tip of the metal blade traced up his stomach, up and up towards his throat. Jimin closed his eyes, breaths getting heavier and more rapid with every passing second.
He heard the clatter of something hitting the counter.
“Jimin- Jimin, open your eyes. Please .”
Jimin shook his head, breaths coming out in hiccups. The threat of a breakdown loomed over him. He bit his lips to hold in the rush of emotions, but it didn’t stop the tears from leaking out of his eyes.
“Hey, it’s okay. It’s okay baby. I’m sorry. I’m so sorry. I wish- I wish I didn’t-” Jungkook enveloped him in a hug, warm and tight. “You’re safe with me. I promise, I promise. I won’t let anything- anything - happen to you.”
“Don’t- don’t lie.”
“I’m not. I’m not lying. I’ve never lied to you.”
“Don’t kill me.”
“I won’t baby. I’m so sorry, I’m really really sorry. I can’t even tell you how sorry I am.”
Jimin finally caved, falling into Jungkook’s chest. He cried out his frustrations and fears, his doubts and shame- all culminating into a drawn out wail. His body shook with tremors and his head ached with a pressure so strong. He shakily brought his hands to rub at his eyes, spit dribbling down his open mouth, his throat dry and scratchy.
He could feel Jungkook’s arms on his lower back, swaying him from side to side, lips brushing on his forehead. It was so soft and sweet that it made him weep harder.
He felt like he was baring his soul to Jungkook. This was him-
And he was an ugly crier.
Day 67 5.42 am
Ibuprofen : Tossed back
A little bit : Calmer
A little more : Coherent
“It’s going to sting.”
Jungkook held up the needle and tapped it. Jimin nodded.
Jungkook then injected the fluid- lidocaine , Jimin had read from the bottle- into the area surrounding his open wounds. It really did sting, like he was bitten by several ants at once.
Watching Jungkook work was hypnotic. He was quick and sure, efficient like a real medical personnel. “Your parents taught you that?”
Jungkook glanced up, surprised and then he smiled. “Should have known you’d find out.” He moved back to the cut at Jimin’s thigh. “Yeah. My dad insisted. I was supposed to study medicine in college. I was volunteering at his clinic every other day, but,” Jungkook huffed a laugh. “On my eighteenth birthday my aunt got me this book- A Brief History of Time - and it changed my life- literally. My dad was so salty about it he didn’t talk to his sister for a whole month.”
Jungkook set the syringe aside and touched Jimin’s arm, where he'd first injected. “Do you feel this?”
“Okay, I’m going to stitch you up now baby. Tell me if it hurts.”
He didn’t want to look, lest he couldn’t handle it, so he prompted Jungkook. “But your dad and your aunt, they’re good now?”
“Mm, that was such a long time ago. He still made me volunteer at the clinic until I was done with college. And he made sure I knew enough to take care of myself.”
“You’re lucky.” Jimin pictured a caring father in his head, the complete opposite of the old man he called his own.
Jungkook worked silently for a while. Jimin could feel the sensation of his skin being pulled, but there was no pain whatsoever. Jungkook picked up a sterile bandage and wrapped it around his arm, moving to work on his thigh.
Jimin’s thoughts strayed and he kept repeating all the questions he wanted to ask Jungkook.
“I’ll take care of you now,” Jungkook said softly. Jimin looked down, to where Jungkook was pulling thread through his skin. He quickly focused on Jungkook’s face.
“I’ll take care of you, baby. If you’d let me. I want you to let me.”
Jungkook rummaged through the kit for another bandage, and secured it across his wound. He took off his gloves and dropped them into the bin. He then stood up and washed his hands, picking up another tube and squeezing viscous gel onto his fingertips. “For your back,” he said.
Jimin hunched and knelt down, waiting. The first touch of the gel was cool, but it warmed up rapidly as Jungkook massaged it in. Jimin relaxed into the repetitive motion of Jungkook’s hands.
“I want to tell you so many things Jimin, but I- I don’t want to do it at the wrong moment.”
Jimin’s breath hitched in his throat as he hung on Jungkook’s every word. He was sat in the bathroom counter, battered and bruised, in his boxers and all he wanted was- he just wanted to know .
Jungkook eased him up and grabbed a towel. He ran it under the water and squeezed off the excess, moving back to Jimin and wiping away all the dirt and grime from the rest of his body. When it came to his hair, Jungkook asked if he wanted to wash it or just wipe it down. Jimin opted to have it washed. If anything, he would have Jungkook’s hands on him longer.
Jungkook was quiet again, shampooing his hair carefully, so as to keep the suds from falling onto his face and back. Jimin’s heart was hammering in his chest. He was starting to feel restless and dizzy from overthinking and hoping and wishing.
Jungkook helped him down to bend into the sink while he rinsed his hair. Then he threw a fluffy towel over his head, wrapping it in a turban. Jungkook chuckled, giving him a once over. “You’re the cutest, the prettiest.”
Jimin blushed, looking to his feet.
“There are spare boxers over there,” Jungkook pointed to the other side of the sink. “I’ll turn around so you can put them on.”
Jimin stretched and grabbed the boxers, holding them in his hands. He pinched the fabric. It was soft and it looked brand new. He kept his eyes on Jungkook’s back, watching his frame move minutely with every breath he took and exhaled. He was also aware that the only sounds echoing in the bathroom was of the boxers snapping against his hips.
That made him flush too.
By the time he was done, Jimin was feeling frazzled and hot. “Jungkook, I’m- I’m finished. You can turn now.”
Jungkook strode past, to where Jimin assumed he left the shirt. There was some rustling and Jungkook was back in front of him. “This is mine. I thought it might be better, being extra large and all. Here, I’ll help you put it on.” He gathered the hem of the black shirt all the way up to the collar.
Jungkook laid the shirt over his head. The collar was so wide that it fell right through and caught on his shoulders. Jungkook let the shirt drop and it rushed to Jimin’s knees in a swoop. It wasn’t just extra large, at least not on Jimin. He was absolutely drowning in it. Jungkook was smiling as he gathered the sleeves as he did the hem, and manoeuvred Jimin’s arms through.
Jimin remained pliant, though his insides were warring.
“All done, baby.”
Jimin closed his eyes, his fingers trembling. He reached for Jungkook’s hand, holding onto his palm.
“Jungkook.” His voice came out squiggly and high. He was so nervous he felt goosebumps rising on his skin. He swallowed and tried again. “Jungkook, you- do you- like me?”
Jungkook’s hand moved up to cup his jaw and Jimin let his arms drop. He exhaled heavily at Jungkook’s touch, warm and gentle as always. What a difference this was to a couple of hours ago. When Jimin opened his eyes, he was met with Jungkook’s bloodstained bandage, now crusted over in dark brown.
“I’m sorry for shooting at you.”
Jungkook lifted his chin, his gaze reassuring. “You did what you had to do baby. And it was just a graze, nothing I can’t handle,” he paused. “-I’m sorry I hurt you too.”
Jimin nodded his head, his smile brittle and watery. A bullet graze wasn’t any ordinary wound. Jungkook had to be in terrible pain too. “It’s okay.”
Jungkook’s hand travelled from his chin to the corner of his lips, tracing up and around his cupid bow.
Jimin shivered, his eyes pleading. “ Jungkook -”
“I do like you. I like you a lot Jimin. So much sometimes I feel I’m going to burst from it.” Jungkook unwrapped the towel from his head and flung it onto the counter. He ran his hand through Jimin’s hair, untangling the strands, his nails scraping rhythmically against Jimin’s scalp.
“I always want to touch you and kiss you. I think about you, worry about you. And I want to be near you all the time. I get jealous when other people do. It drives me up the wall when someone even looks at you funny. You’re mine. You’re mine. Baby, tell me.”
Jimin gripped the bottom of Jungkook’s shirt, his face heating up and his spine tingling. “I’m yours Jungkook, and- and you’re mine.”
Jungkook exhaled onto him, their breaths mingling. “I want to kiss you so bad right now. I want to just hold you so badly. But I-” Jungkook motioned down to his filthy clothes. “I need to clean up first. And you look like you’re about to fall asleep on your feet. Come on baby, I’ll tuck you into bed. We still have time tomorrow to figure things out.”
Jungkook slid his hand down to intertwine with Jimin’s and tugged him out into the bedroom. The sight of Jungkook’s messy room was familiar and welcoming after the very long night he’d had. He cracked a smile as he followed after Jungkook. There were some things on the bed which Jungkook shoved to the floor hurriedly.
“Your room is a pigsty, Jungkook.”
Jungkook pulled him forward and sat him down at the edge. “I know.” He ruffled the hair at the back of his head and scrunched his nose. “It’s a terrible habit and I’m trying to fix it.”
Jungkook suddenly snorted, smiling brightly.
“What?” Jimin asked curiously.
“You’re nagging me.”
Jimin was about to object, saying he was only making an observation when Jungkook continued, “I like it. Feels like us.”
Jimin felt warm again as he lifted his feet onto the bed. Jungkook pulled the duvet over him and tucked in the corners. Jimin giggled, feeling ticklish.
“Rest now. I’m going to quickly wash up.”
“And then you’re coming back?” Jimin whispered.
“Yes baby, then I’ll come back.”
His eyes followed after Jungkook until he shut the door, then he rolled over onto his stomach. Even with the cream Jungkook had applied, his back was still incredibly sore. He wanted to stay awake- long enough for Jungkook to join him. But feeling the fluffy pillow under his head and the comforting weight of the duvet over him, Jimin drifted off easily.
Day 67 1.33 pm
Well : Rested
Still sore : But manageable
There wasn’t any part of him that wasn’t in contact with Jungkook when Jimin woke up. Their legs were entangled, Jungkook’s arms were slung over his hips, his hand was on Jungkook’s bare waist, and Jungkook’s cheek was resting on top of his head.
He realised this was how he wanted to wake up every day going forward.
Day 67 2.40 pm
In the : Second guestroom
Talk : Underway
“-And after she warned me, I got Kareena to run a background. She checked out so I started looking into it. I didn’t tell anyone though. That was her advice too, trust no one.”
Jungkook’s hands ran up and down Jimin’s legs. Initially he’d squirmed and flushed bright red. He was still only in a shirt and underwear. He felt like he was severely underdressed to be having Jungkook’s fingers caressing him without further intentions.
But Jungkook wasn’t exactly paying attention, it was just something he’d been doing subconsciously. He was on one end of the couch, and Jimin on the other, his legs sprawled on Jungkook’s lap. They’d never had reason to use the couch before since there was already a stool in the room, and they were usually working alone when they came up for surveillance.
But now Jimin was grateful for it.
“What else is there?”
Jimin frowned into his hands. He didn’t know how he was supposed to tell Jungkook about Hanna confronting him with a knife.
Jimin glanced up and Jungkook was looking at him with wide eyes.
“What is it baby?”
Jimin leaned against the couch, hiding his face with his hands. “Hanna might have threatened-”
“ What? ”
“Hanna- was quite taken with you- is probably still- taken,” Jimin stuttered. He didn’t know why he felt anxious telling Jungkook this- maybe because he was afraid of what Jungkook would have to say. “She wanted me to stay away from you.”
“Fuck, Jimin. I didn’t know she approached you. Did she hurt you baby? Fuck, I don’t want to apologise for her but it’s partly my fault.” Jungkook pinched the bridge of his nose, and rubbed circles at his temples.
“What do you mean?”
“That night of the party when Hanna wanted to talk to me. She was the one who accused you of being the rat. No, not so much accused, more like, strongly suggested. And I shut her down, of course. I thought she was just being petty and jealous, but after she said that, you started evading my questions, and it just- snowballed. She probably went to you to lash out.”
Jimin sat up straighter. “Accused me? With what? What information did she have?”
Jungkook rolled his eyes. “Observations, mostly. She was talking about how you were so obsessed with Susan’s welfare, that it had to be because you were linked to her, that you were working with her husband. But she did mention some note- a copy of an email from Jan Anderson telling ‘J’ to meet him somewhere. It-”
Jimin scrambled for his phone, wedged in between the cushions. He clicked on the message he received from the unknown number, and enlarged the image it came with. He passed his phone to Jungkook. “A note like that?”
Jungkook’s eyes flew from left to right. But he shook his head. “Sorry, baby, she didn’t bring any proof of it so all I’m saying now is what I remember from our conversation. But is this what you meant yesterday? That you didn’t want to be there? You were lured?”
Jungkook handed him his phone and Jimin turned off the screen. “Yeah. For information. Jan was going to tell me who the rat was. He said he got screwed over. And just before he managed to do it, he was conveniently shot, execution style. And you were there. And I just-” Jimin folded his hands over his waist in frustration. All that time he spent raging over Jungkook, was for naught. He’d let himself be clouded by circumstantial evidence and that was just disgraceful.
Jungkook lifted Jimin’s legs, and got onto his knees. He crawled right up to Jimin and booped his nose. Jimin was so taken aback he just stared at Jungkook. “Don’t do that. We were both influenced by other people. Don’t punish yourself for it. Unless you’re going to punish me too.”
Jimin’s cheeks warmed with red and he pushed Jungkook back. “Don’t tease me.”
“Too bad. That’s my favourite thing to do. You look really pretty when you blush baby.”
“Jungkook, don’t -” Jimin insisted quietly. He felt like he was beginning to lose his head again. Every time Jungkook said something remotely flirtatious Jimin felt so ridiculously flustered- and needy .
Jungkook smirked, like he knew how ruffled Jimin’s feathers were, and fell back into his previous position, bringing Jimin’s legs into his lap again.
“You know- there was something you said in the warehouse that’s still bothering me.”
“What.. did I say?”
“You mentioned cameras? You said I was watching you.”
“Oh,” Jimin felt bile rise to the back of his throat at the thought of those cameras. He’d assumed it was Jungkook, and as angry as he was about it, knowing it wasn’t Jungkook was even more frightening. “Hanna- she had pictures of you and I and she showed them to me. It was to warn me I guess, that we- I , specifically was being watched.”
Jungkook’s expression turned sour in a split second. “Pictures of us?”
“Yeah,” Jimin mumbled, “-you know, kissing.”
“She had pictures of us kissing? In this house? What the fuck . Where did she get them? How- was someone following us or something?”
“They’re still here, the cameras I mean. I found four.”
Jungkook was thunderous. “You found cameras in our house and you didn’t tell me?!”
Jimin wriggled, trying to pull his legs back into himself, but Jungkook gripped his calves tight. “I was- I was under the impression you put them there. Of course I wasn’t going to tell you I found them.”
“ Jimin -” Jungkook groaned, head hitting the back of the couch. “Oh god, what the fuck. At least tell me you've dismantled them.”
Jimin shrugged his shoulders, feeling a little foolish. “I didn’t want to tip you off. I thought I could catch you red-handed.”
“You’re telling me that there are cameras running right now? In this house? Then what are we doing? We’re literally discussing the case out loud.”
“It’s just downstairs, I scoured the whole house. There’s two in the kitchen, one near the staircase and one in the living room.”
“Oh my god. I can’t- You really left the cameras on just for that? Oh god Jimin, you really drive me mad sometimes. Get up baby, we’re taking them down right now, right this instant.”
Day 67 4.12 pm
News of Jan Anderson’s death : Spreading like wildfire
Watching the team over video conference : Like a hawk
He couldn’t spot any tells. And from the looks of it, neither could Jungkook. Over on the other side of the screen, there was a distinct sense of panic. Everyone was reacting as they should.
Jungkook was fidgeting- picking his nails under the desk and Jimin clasped his hands to stop him. Chris was saying something, pacing as he waved his arms.
“Word on the street is that it was someone with a grudge. People like Jan Anderson make enemies with the snap of a finger. Forensics were all over the place but there was very little to find. By the time local authorities caught wind of it, the building was already burning to the ground. And when we were called in-” Chris shook his head morosely.
“Nothing at all? Nothing was found?” Jungkook questioned sceptically.
“Nothing of value-” Kareena interjected. “Only items that were already stored within. We’re still double checking, but initial inspection reports so.”
He felt Jungkook stiffening. And he too realised what that meant. The weapons had been moved. Either disposed of, or rehoused. The problem was, only Jungkook and Jimin knew of them, and it wasn’t something they could just bring up or even imply, not knowing who to trust. As far as everyone else was concerned, there were no weapons, there had never been any weapons.
“So what about the event? The opening ceremony? Jan was supposed to be in charge, was he not?” Jimin asked.
“It’s still on,” Hanna replied, popping on camera. “It’s a big event, announcements had been sent out, and we have no legitimate reason to put a stop to it, not without the weapons, and now Jan is dead.”
Jimin knew she couldn’t actually see his hand over Jungkook’s but it certainly felt like she did. She kept glaring at Jimin then added spitefully, “By the way, Chris wants you back here. Your stint at Bluefield is up.”
Jungkook nearly jerked out of his seat. “What?”
Chris side eyed Hanna with resigned frustration. “Yes, thank you Hanna. I was getting to that.” To Jimin and Jungkook, he said “There’s no point hanging about the area. We sent you in for Jan, and now that he’s gone, there’s nothing left for you to do. You’d be of more use here. And frankly after what happened, we need to regroup and work out new angles. We’ve lost the head of the organisation, so the question is, is there an organisation still left?”
Those were reasonable concerns but Jimin couldn’t help but feel that decisions were being made rashly. He looked at Jungkook, silently asking him if he was in agreement. Jungkook clearly wasn’t, but again, there was nothing either of them could say outright.
“When do you expect us back?”
“Be in the office by next week,” Chris answered. ‘Next week’ was terribly misleading, seeing that it was only a couple of days away.
Day 67 5.45 pm
Packing : Into boxes
There wasn’t much of their own possessions to pack. Most of them, the moving team could handle and dump into storage.
They were nearly done with the bottom floor, only the living room left to clear up. Jungkook was taking down the photo frames hanging on the wall, handing them to Jimin to arrange into boxes. As he worked, Jimin couldn’t take his mind off of Hanna. He liked Jungkook, and he knew Jungkook liked him back. Even though he tried to put it past him, it still niggled at the back of his mind.
“Jungkook, can I- can I ask you something?”
“Sure, baby,” Jungkook replied, passing on another picture.
“I was just wondering.” Jimin traced the edge of the frame with his pointer finger. “About Hanna. Were you... were you and her ever- did you have a thing?”
He waited for Jungkook to say something, but when he didn’t Jimin glanced up, only to see Jungkook was staring at him, a little sombre and a little reluctant.
Jimin placed the picture on the box, feeling unexpectedly disappointed. “You don’t have to tell me. I was just- you know- I was just curious. That’s all.”
Jungkook’s sigh was telling and Jimin suddenly felt silly for asking. He didn’t want to be the kind of person who dredged up past flings and relationships just to hound on them. He didn’t want to push Jungkook away.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t-”
“No. No, please. Don’t apologise. I’m just- I knew this was coming and that’s not saying I don’t want to tell you. I don’t want to keep secrets from you. And I want you to be able to ask me anything you want. I just- wished I’d made better choices.”
Jungkook’s hand was on his wrist, guiding him to the sofa. “If we’re going to have this conversation, I want to be holding you.”
Jimin flushed and felt his heart go pitter-patter. “Why?”
“I just want to hold you. Can’t I hold you?” Jungkook sat down and tugged Jimin onto him. Jimin fell and caught himself by the backrest, one knee on the seat by Jungkook’s thigh. He let himself be pulled in, settling down on Jungkook’s lap, his hands flat on Jungkook’s chest.
Jungkook’s hands went around his back. “This is nice, right?”
Jimin nodded bashfully. “Yeah. It’s- it’s really nice.” It was more than nice.
“The thing with Hanna,” Jungkook started, “-happened because I was going through something personal. I’d lost my grandmother. I loved her very much and it was bad- I was in a pretty bad place. Hanna was, well, it’s rude of me to say this, but she was a convenient lay. I had a lot of pent up emotions and I just needed to let them out.”
“I was out drinking one night and she was coincidentally there at the same time and it just happened. It was only ever a one time thing, Jimin, I promise you that. I never saw her as anything more. But I think she wanted it- wanted more from me. I know she did, she was pretty obvious about it. I just didn’t want to deal with all the complications so I never really rejected her plainly.”
“Oh- that’s- I’m sorry for your loss Jungkook.”
Jungkook smiled warmly at him. “It’s okay baby, she lived a good life. I’m okay now. Thank you”
“Still- I- I was really mean to you. I was mean and standoffish- a real jerk and you were going through-”
Jungkook yanked him close, their bodies flush against each other. Jimin gasped as Jungkook’s hands tightened around his waist.
“I like you so much baby. I've liked you since the moment we met. You were so feisty and stubborn and the most beautiful person I’d ever seen. And your ass was fucking gorgeous. I wanted you so much. I was being all cocky and shit thinking I could charm your pants off but god, Jimin, I was such a fucking tool. It obviously backfired. And you hated me. I kept riling you up because I wanted you to look at me and talk to me. Then this thing came up and you were going to marry Kareena? Not a fucking chance.” Jungkook inhaled sharply, his cheeks red and his eyes wild. “You’re mine. You’re mine, Park Jimin.”
“Jungkook,” Jimin whined into Jungkook’s neck. There was an itch scratching under his skin, and he wanted to just -
“You wanted to know how I knew your full name. I looked you up like a fucking stalker.” Jungkook laughed breathlessly. “I wanted to know everything about you. But I was such a coward. I was so scared you wouldn’t talk to me if I approached you properly. God, I wish I did. Then this mess with Hanna cropped up and I thought I blew my chance. But you like me right? You like me.”
“I do.” Jimin answered hotly. “I do like you. I like you a lot.”
“I want to- baby I want to kiss you. Can I kiss you?”
Jimin was nodding before his mouth could open. “Please, oh god, Jungkook, please .”
Jungkook surged up as Jimin leaned down to catch his lips. He felt greedy, so greedy that he wanted to inhale Jungkook into his very being. He held onto Jungkook’s neck, fingers kneading the back of his head. Jungkook had such a lovely neck. Every part of Jungkook was lovely and smooth and- and hot .
It made his head spin- the way Jungkook licked at the seam of his lips. The way Jungkook’s tongue swiped at the roof of his mouth. The way Jungkook tugged his bottom lip slowly, watching it bounce back. The way Jungkook kissed him so hard, teeth clacking and nose pressing into Jimin’s cheek.
He felt so desperate. He wanted to be closer even though they were already so close, wanted to be touched and felt .
Jungkook’s hands were around his waist and Jimin brought them to his front, placing them underneath his shirt.
“Oh fuck. Oh fuck Jimin,” Jungkook groaned, breath heavy and wet on Jimin’s lips. “Fuck you’re so sexy-”
Jungkook slid his hands all the way up to his nipples and brushed against them. Jimin pulled away and leaned back, moaning loudly. Jungkook’s hands were large- so large and slightly calloused, leaving a trail of goosebumps wherever he placed them.
Jungkook raised Jimin’s shirt up to his armpits and dragged down his collar, pinching the fabric with one hand. His other hand went to Jimin’s lower back, pushing him down.
“Look at you. Fuck . Look at you baby.”
He felt Jungkook’s lips at his neck and moaned into Jungkook’s shoulder. Jungkook sucked and nibbled at his flesh, rough and hurried. He would bruise, he would carry traces of Jungkook’s lips on his skin today and tomorrow, and the days that followed; and it had arousal pooling low in his gut, blood rushing to his head.
He bucked up, feeling Jungkook’s cock- hard and large against his ass.
Jungkook was panting into his mouth, his hand dipping past the waistband of Jimin’s boxers.
“ Jungkook- ” he whimpered.
“I know baby, I know.”
He tugged on Jungkook’s hair, angling his head up and sticking his chest out. He wanted Jungkook’s mouth on his nipples, wanted them dripping with spit-
Jungkook licked at his pebbled bud, sucking it into his mouth. Jimin’s eyes rolled back in pleasure.
“Hold your shirt up.”
Jimin quickly lifted his shirt with one hand, his other hand reaching past the collar of Jungkook’s shirt and down his bare back. He curled his fingers, raking up and down with his nails. Jungkook jerked into him, Jimin’s body reverberating with Jungkook’s moans.
He could feel the cool breeze on his skin when Jungkook tugged his boxers down his ass. It made him feel so flustered- blush travelling down to his chest- the image of him sitting on Jungkook’s lap with his naked ass hanging out. Jungkook gripped his cheeks, squeezing and kneading, his tongue licking at the divot between Jimin’s collarbones and moving to his other nipple.
He rolled his hips as he watched Jungkook’s face, his brows furrowed in concentration and his eyes closed. Beads of perspiration were collecting at his temples and Jimin bent down to lick him clean. He was salty- slightly sour and Jimin inhaled deeply, taste going straight to his cock.
He swivelled his hips faster, harder. Jungkook slapped his ass, a loud thwack echoing and ringing in Jimin’s ears. He fell forward and sat fully on Jungkook’s cock.
“Your shirt- Jungkook, your shirt- off, off.” He grappled with the hem of Jungkook’s tee, twisting it around. Jungkook practically ripped it off over his head, flinging it carelessly and hands going right back to palm at Jimin’s ass. Neither one of them had the patience to manoeuvre Jimin through his own shirt.
Jimin lurched forward, sticking his chest to Jungkook’s. His skin was damp, both of them were- damp and sticky, grunting and breathing heavily. He rubbed his ass on Jungkook’s cock, feeling it pulse and twitch through the layers of clothes they had on. His own cock rubbed against the ridges of Jungkook’s abs.
He could feel his mind floating away, further and further, tethered to his body only by the thinnest of threads.
“That’s it baby, that’s it,” Jungkook urged, voice hoarse and raspy, guiding Jimin’s hips as they thrust into each other.
“Jungkook- Jungkook-” He gasped and moaned, eyes scrunched tight, feeling winded and coiled so tight. “Jungkook- I can’t- Jungkook .”
“Look at me Jimin. Look at me, I want- want to see you come. Want to see your face when you come.”
When he opened his eyes, Jungkook was watching him intensely, eyes glazed and pupils blown. His lips were swollen and slick with spit. The strands of hair by his face were matted down from sweat. He looked debauched, so incredibly handsome.
Jimin stuck his tongue daringly, and Jungkook stretched up to suck on it. He could feel his saliva dripping out of his open mouth, probably onto Jungkook’s face. The feeling in his gut was building, too high and too fast.
“I’m- I’m close.”
Jungkook wrapped one hand around his waist, his other hand holding onto his ass, finger sliding up and down his cleft. “Me too baby.”
It was the fluttering touch of Jungkook’s finger around his hole that had him screaming, teasing him with the idea of Jungkook’s cock up his ass. He’d been on the edge of an orgasm for so long, pulling and pushing him like a puppet. When it hit, he felt it from the top of his head to the tip of his toes, mind blanking and heart bursting.
Jungkook was looking up at him reverently and even with cum spurting out of his cock, Jimin felt his body tingling all over.
“Fucking,” Jungkook groaned, thighs working fast and hips moving erratically, “-beautiful.” With one last thrust, he moaned loud and long, dropping his head into Jimin’s chest, heaving and leaving open mouth kisses.
“Fuck,” Jungkook mumbled. “Fuck, fuck- did we just-”
Jimin shifted, looping his arms around Jungkook’s shoulders, feeling overwhelmed. “Come in our underwear like a couple of teens?” He laughed, “-Yeah.”
Jungkook patted his thigh, hand skimming and groping. Jimin slumped into him, boneless and tired. He didn’t want to let go of him, not just yet.
They were quiet for a while, just holding onto each other. Then, Jungkook adjusted Jimin’s boxers and stood up.
Jimin crossed his ankles around Jungkook’s hips, giggling as Jungkook lifted him effortlessly, biceps rippling and flexing.
“You’re really strong.”
He buried his face into Jungkook’s neck upon realising he’d said it out loud.
“You like that baby? Like it when I carry you?”
He didn’t know if Jungkook was teasing him or not but he couldn’t help himself when he squeaked a “Yes.”
Jungkook laughed, jostling Jimin in his arms. The cum in his boxers was drying up, fabric sliding and sloshing against his skin. It made him feel shy, a little warm with embarrassment but pleased all the same, that he and Jungkook had engaged in this- this act, and now Jungkook was carrying him up into the room, like a baby, Jungkook’s baby.
He nuzzled the base of Jungkook’s throat, pressing a kiss just under his ear- a thank you- for taking care of him.
Day 68 9.27 am
Kookie : Sent back to the shelter
Finalising : The move
It was really upsetting when Jungkook drove away with Kookie. Jimin had gotten really attached, and it was such a well behaved dog, so sweet and adorable. He teared up as he said goodbye, Jungkook hugging him close for comfort. But it had to be done. They were leaving the house, and thus Kookie had to be returned.
He walked around the house, making sure they’d packed up all their things. He still hadn’t seen Susan, not since the night of the party, and even then he hadn’t talked to her. Her house was dark and quiet. He didn’t know where she was, nor her son. The team didn’t either. It was as if they’d disappeared off the face of earth.
He sat down on the stool in the second guestroom, double checking that the equipment had been completely stowed away. Everything was gone, and there was nothing left to do so Jimin pulled out his phone, scrolling through his messages.
He still had one unread email, the one that Kareena had sent him about Douglas Collins. He considered deleting it. Mr. Collins wasn’t part of his case, but as he hesitated over the bin icon, he decided he might as well check it, for his own peace of mind.
The document was fairly straightforward. Most of the information jumped over his head anyway, since he had no idea what he was supposed to be looking for. He had plenty of pictures too. He assumed it was because Mr. Collins had been in the public eye for a long time, and consequently appeared more often in the papers and magazines.
As he flicked through the photographs, one in particular caught his attention. He clicked on it, zooming in until the entire face took up the screen of his phone.
He could feel pinpricks down his spine, cautioning him, warning him. He went back to the article and read through it slowly.
Day 68 9.33 am
Hit him : Like a truck
As he sat there staring at his phone, bombarded with words, pictures, and a connection that could very well break the case, Jimin suddenly thought of that day when Agnes had visited him and Jungkook. He was so quick to accuse Jungkook of planting the cameras when there actually had been one other person who was in their house.
He remembered how he and Jungkook were at the front door talking to Susan, and how they’d left Agnes alone and unattended. He remembered how they’d found her in the kitchen with one of their plates broken- which in retrospect, was strange at best, and downright dodgy at worst. She had no reason to be anywhere near the cabinet, not unless she’d climbed it to attach the camera.
Jimin raced down the stairs, throwing on a random jacket and stuffing his feet into his shoes. Agnes’ house was down the street, and Jimin ran all the way. He was still recovering from his injuries at the warehouse, and he realised he might have jumped the gun- stitches stabbing in his sides- but he was fueled with determination. And he simply had to find out.
Her house was a lot smaller than the rest of the houses in the neighbourhood, a lot older too. She had a flourishing garden, flowers and trees aplenty. But her rain gutters were rusty and jutting out, bent awkwardly in places. He could imagine the flood on her porch whenever it rained, which also explained the smell. It was musky and mouldy, walls in need of a good washing, or at least a new coat of paint.
Jimin stood at her door and rang the bell, shuffling with his hands in his pockets. She opened the door with gusto, welcoming him in a housecoat. She was thrilled to see him, talking a mile a minute.
“Agnes, wait, I’m sorry to interrupt, I just have a few questions to ask.”
“Oh,” she said, “Are they questions about married life? I can’t help but notice you’re here alone. Is your husband giving you trouble?” She fiddled with a leaf on one of her many house plants. Her living room was practically a greenhouse.
“No, no, not at all. It’s nothing to do with Jungkook. I just- I’m sorry for being presumptuous- but I need to ask- the day you came over to the house-” Jimin trailed off. Now that he was about to question her, he didn’t know how to word it without stepping on her toes. “Agnes, did you put up cameras in my house?”
He sat on the edge of his seat waiting for her response.
She blinked at him, once, twice. He almost wanted to repeat the question, in case she hadn’t understood. Then she twirled around, reaching for a watering can and walked by each of her pots, water raining through the spout.
“Yes I did,” she answered decisively.
Jimin gulped down his shock like bitter medicine. “But why? What- what purpose did you have?”
Back when they first met, he thought nothing of her. Just a chatty old bird who was probably lonely, a little obsessed with her son, a little nosy, as old people tend to be. But now, she looked at him shrewdly, eyes peering at him over her glasses, her head high. She'd purposely made herself into a silly old woman to disguise her intentions.
“The money, of course. It’s always about the money. Can I get you some tea?”
Jimin floundered for a second. “No, no I don’t want tea.”
“Well I’d like some. So I’m going to prepare myself a cup. I’ll be a minute, you don’t mind, do you?”
Well he definitely minded. But he doubted it would make a difference. She didn’t even wait for his answer, disappearing further into the house. Jimin took the opportunity to look around. The room was a treasure trove of knickknacks. Plants aside, there were photos, papers, knitting wool, bawdy jewellery, literally anything and everything one would find at a bargain store, he thought she had.
She reappeared with a steaming mug, sipping delicately. “Where were we?”
“Money,” Jimin answered, feeling slightly off-balanced. She was calm, too calm, and she sounded like she hadn’t done anything wrong.
“Ah yes, money. You see when my Angus moved into the city with Priscilla, he barely had a penny to his name. So I took out a mortgage. And he doesn’t earn much so I have to send him checks every month. He’s my only son, I would do anything for him, even if that means taking out a second mortgage. Money goes out, money has to come in somehow or rather, isn’t it?
“How is money coming in? Who’s paying you?”
“Did you know Jan Anderson is dead?” Agnes asked him abruptly.
Jimin hesitated. “Yes?”
“You would know, wouldn’t you. You’re not who you say you are. You’re a spy, and you’ve been spying on that family. How much do you think the tabloids would pay for news like that?”
“That’s- No one would believe you, and plus what makes you think you can go around saying things like that without dealing with the repercussions?”
“Not even going to deny it, I see?”
“You already know. So why should I?” Jimin pulled his jacket tighter. He didn’t think she had any of the heaters running. “Who’s paying you?”
“Who paid me,” she mumbled under her breath. “His name was Jordan. He had a proposition, I had the means, and we shook hands on it.”
“Just like that? Some stranger gave you a check and you waltzed into my home to install some cameras?” Jimin felt a spark of fury in his chest, agitated from her nonchalance.
Agnes scoffed snottily. “You young people. You think everything’s just black and white. Either you’re right or you’re wrong and get swept into the gully. Grey areas are not obsolete. There are reasons and explanations.”
She shifted imperceptibly. He narrowed his eyes.
“If I show you a picture of this Jordan can you positively identify him?”
She raised a brow but nodded her head slowly. “I can.”
Jimin took out his phone, turning it on and handing it to her, the face he’d been looking at displayed with the highest brightness. She only looked at the picture for a second before handing the phone back.
Jimin had him now. He had a witness, he had a connection, he just needed to get Jungkook and inform-
“You may think I’m unscrupulous, amoral, whatever else you want to call me. And I am sorry that it has to be this way. I’m just doing what I have to do.”
Jimin stared at her in confusion, his heart thudding heavily. He felt his senses sharpen and he caught a creak in the floorboard. He turned around immediately but it was too late. A hand slammed into his face and Jimin’s breath caught, head dizzying with the napkin constricting his nose and mouth. The pungent smell of ammonia wafted up his nostrils and stung his eyes.
He fell over like a rag doll.
Day 68 11.40 am
Not : Again
Held captive : For the second time
He was tied to a chair, hands behind his back, ropes digging into his skin. He came to slowly, first feeling the aches in his joints, then the twinge up his back. His head was pounding, and his cheek felt swollen.
The voices came next, filtering through his head uselessly, then gradually becoming clearer, sharper, louder.
The lights also took time getting used to.
When he had finally collected his wits, Jimin could discern two people, both speaking in hushed tones. He realised belatedly why Agnes had insisted on her cup of tea.
Whatever building he was in, he could tell he was in the middle of nowhere. The walls were half bricks and half cement, probably abandoned midway. And dust was so prevalent that he could see particles floating with every breath he took.
He tried to get a feel for the bindings. With how little they gave way and the roughness of the fibres, he guessed he might have been tied with hemp rope. The chair he was in jolted as Jimin tried to wriggle his fingers- loud enough that the two voices stopped.
And Chris stepped into view.
“Well well well, sleeping beauty finally awakens.”
Jimin didn’t grace him with a reply, focusing instead on the guy behind Chris, who was hunched and had upturned collars. He looked distantly familiar but he was half hidden in the shadows and Jimin couldn’t really place him anywhere.
“Just had to go and figure it out at the very last minute, huh? I was going to wrap up the case you know.” Chris exhaled dramatically, like he was reciting some great monologue. “Had it pretty much worked out- took over the reign, secured the delivery, cornered the family-”
Jimin snapped his head up so fast he had a whiplash.
“Oh, so that’s what it takes to get your attention. Yes, I have the family, no, they’re not dead. I’m not a brute, not like Jan. He had a great vision, but he had a propensity for violence. Terrible upbringing and all. He was an orphan, did you know that?”
Chris dragged another chair, brought it right in front of Jimin and sat backwards, face propped on his forearms. He thought Agnes had been too calm, but Chris took the cake.
“Let’s chat, Jimin, come on. We’re colleagues, after all. Friends, acquaintances.”
Jimin laughed humourlessly. “You’re not my fucking friend.”
“Wow, you really are angry, aren’t you. Really really angry. You know Jimin, I actually planned on letting you go. You were so obsessed with Susan when you were working the case, so I thought, you know, I’ll ship you off with her and her son, send you to some remote island with no way of ever getting back. See how considerate I am? How much regard I have for you?”
Jimin threw him a sour look, not at all impressed. Chris was trying to throw his weight around. These were all intimidation tactics that had been drilled into him over the years. Well, the more fool Chris if he thought Jimin was going to break.
“Alright, if that’s how you want to play it, we’ll get straight to it. How did you find out?”
Jimin flicked his head to the side, set on silence.
Chris hummed. “Lajos, have a little fun with him, but keep his face clean. I rather like his face.”
Day 68 1.59 pm
Ribs : Bruised, definitely bruised
He was kicked, punched, and whacked across his chest with some plastic rod.
Lajos then dragged him back to the chair while Jimin was wheezing his lungs out, and tied the rope around his wrists.
“You,” Jimin whispered hoarsely. “I know you. You were there that day, at the warehouse.”
Lajos stared him down, and Jimin was suddenly taken by how young he was. He looked like he was in his late teens, or early 20’s, entirely too young to be entangled with a terrorist group and the likes of Chris.
Chris was still there, lazing against his chair. He had an apple in his hand, throwing it up and catching it neatly.
“Let’s try this again, shall we? How did you figure it out?”
Jimin shook his head. Lajos retreated back into the shadows. “Tit for tat, Chris. How’d you get involved?”
Chris looked like he was seconds from slamming Jimin into the floor, but then changed his mind and relaxed back into his chair. “Jimin, Jimin.” Chris sing-songed. “I kind of wished it wasn’t you. You’re a really good kid. Dedicated, smart. Hanna though- she’s a twat, isn’t she? Feed her some crumbs and she’ll give you a biscuit, give her molehill and she’ll turn it into a mountain.”
The words registered and Jimin growled. “ You put her up to it! Led her to me!”
“I did! I can’t believe I’m saying this about my own team, but god, it was too easy. You guys are too easy. You’re like a soap opera. She likes him, he marries you, and you're at war with both of them. What a fucking mess. It was kind of sad, to be honest. You should have seen her in the office, staring dejectedly at his desk. Kareena’s a real trooper though, put up with all her nonsense without breaking a sweat.”
Chris crossed his legs, taking a bite out of the apple.
“You gave her the pictures?”
“Yeap, slid them onto her desk in an envelope. Thought she might bring it up with the team, but she didn’t. Kept it to herself.”
“So you deliberately set me up? Why?”
“You know Jimin,” Chris sighed. “I could have chosen anyone. The situation presented itself. You were the lucky one, or in this case,” Chris raised his brows in a comical attempt, “-the one with the shittiest luck. But I guess it’s working for me now. So maybe I do have some foresight after all. But enough about that. The question is, how did you find out?”
“I said I’d tell you if you told me how you got involved. And you haven’t”
Chris’ expression turned dark, lips curling down and pinched at the corners. “I don’t think you understand what’s at stake Jimin, so I’m going to explain it to you. You’re here at my mercy. I can knock your lights out, I can let you go, you can walk out with internal bleeding, or you can just die here and everyone would be none the wiser.”
Jimin snorted. He wanted to say thanks very much, dickhead . But he wasn’t feeling up to it. Instead, he said, “And I don’t think you understand. I have information that can lead back to you. Do your worst.”
Day 68 2.31 pm
Hair, face, neck : Soaking wet
Lajos dipped his head in a bucket of ice cold water, keeping him down for seconds at a time, and minutes in others. Jimin held his breath the best he could, but his earlier beating had already hurt his ribs.
He was certain water had gotten into his lungs, it had gone up his nose too, maybe into his sinuses. He choked and struggled, his arms held behind his back and hair gripped tight. There was nothing he could leverage against. At least the ice was numbing, after the initial slap to the face.
“He killed,” Jimin gasped. “He killed- your- killed your leader. Why- why help him?”
Lajos secured the rope, tugging it harshly against his skin. “Shut up,” he whispered, and turned around.
Chris strolled in, hands in his pockets.
“Did you like your bath princess? Oh hey, that has a nice ring to it, doesn’t it? You are a bit of a princess aren’t you, so proper, so frigid. If you sing ‘the cold never bothered me anyway’, I’ll give you a towel.”
Jimin tilted his head back, trying to get his breathing under control. “Not a- fucking... chance.”
“Listen Jimin. I have time. Do you have time? I don’t think so. It’s only going to get worse here on out. Tell me what you know, and that’s it, you’re done- out of sight, out of mind. But if you don’t cooperate...”
Jimin looked at Chris through narrow slits, daring him to carry on. He could take more, he knew he could.
Day 68 7.46 pm
Deep breath in : Deep breath out
They tied him to an industrial chain, rusty, of course, because how could one be tortured without the pressing risk of a bacterial infection. The chain was part of a pulley, rickety and old, looking like it could break apart at any moment and send Jimin crashing to his death.
His lungs felt heavy, his head felt full. He tried to keep counting, and tried to centre himself, sifting through his mom’s yoga teachings and putting them to practice one by one.
They left him hanging upside down long past ten thousand counts. And by then, Jimin had blacked out.
He was rudely awoken with a bucket of water. It splashed over his head and drenched his shirt. And with the sun setting, the weather was getting cooler.
He found himself tied once again to the chair. His arms were on fire, being pulled back for so long. And he felt like his head was stuffed with cotton, probably from all the blood pooling in it.
“Ready to talk now Jimin? And you know what, because you took that like a champ, I’m going to give you a little gift. I’ve decided you see, that I’m going to kill you. And since you’re going to die here all by your lonesome- pretty soon too, I might add- I figured, there’s no harm in giving you what you want.”
“Yunko comin gehme.” Jungkook is coming to get me , he meant to say. Jungkook, his- he wanted to call Jungkook his boyfriend, but they hadn’t discussed the premises of their relationship yet. He dearly hoped to be Jungkook’s boyfriend.
“What did you say?” Chris asked, sounding louder and nearer.
“Jungko- Jungkook .” Jimin shouted, voice booming and echoing back at him.
“Jungkook? Jungkook’s all packed up, hey. Left the house, probably back in the city by now.” He felt Chris gripping the strands of his hair, pulling and pushing his head around.
But Jimin had every faith in Jungkook. Jungkook was going to find him.
“I hope you’ve not lost your mind, Jimin. Because I’ve decided to talk, and since you were so insistent on it, you better be ready to talk too.”
Then another bucket was dumped over him, ice cold again and firing his nerves, body at the ready.
“There we go, much better.” Chris smacked his hands together. “Jan and myself, we go way back. He was an orphan, and surprise, so was I. He’s an immigrant, did you know? Well not really, he was the son of immigrants. And so am I. Which is a really deep thing to bond over. Sharing struggles, man, you become as tight as brothers. And you know who really hates immigrants? This country. This country really hates immigrants. From school to work, to relationships, absolutely nothing works in the favour of immigrants.”
Jimin’s head was throbbing so hard he almost couldn’t hear Chris over it. He pinched his hands, forcing himself to stay alert.
“It was Jan’s idea, his pet project. The typical ‘I’ll take over the world and make it a better place for all of us’ spiel. Except, it wasn’t just a spiel, was it? It was working. He was gathering people, like-minded people. And he amassed a loyal following, people who knew other people, and he soon built himself a name, talking to the right people, making deals with the right people, and the next thing you know, he’s a legitimate leader, really set on changing the world.”
“Except he got sloppy, showed up on our cameras. I was supporting him silently through the years and he really roped me in you know. His vision became my vision, his mission became mine. And to see it crumbling before my very eyes, well, Jimin, you must understand how that felt. So I had to step in. This is not about me anymore, it’s the bigger picture, do you understand? The greater good.”
The greater good was absolutely the kind crap a madman would spew. “You fuck- fucking killed a man- leaving- leaving behind a wife- and a son - and you- you talk about- talk- talk about the fucking greater- good? You’re a- zealot, that- that’s what you- are. Fucking bigot.” And because he was feeling so done, Jimin spat at him.
Chris looked deploringly at the ground and tsk-tsked at where Jimin’s spittle had landed. “You’re really testing my patience, Jimin. I honestly thought you were better than this. You were always so put together, always so quick to grasp a situation. You disappoint me. But I’m willing to look past it if you could now tell me how you found out it was me.”
Jimin couldn’t help himself. He laughed and laughed, laughed until his stomach cramped and he was coughing and crying at the same time.
Chris was fucking idiot if he thought Jimin was ever going to tell him. Right now, the only other person who had this information was Kareena, and he hoped to dear god that she’d read that file some day. She was his only hope if he didn’t make it out alive.
Please come quickly , he prayed. Jungkook, please hurry up.
Day 68 8.20 pm
Dragged : To his feet
“Strip him,” Chris ordered.
Rough clumsy hands worked at the buttons of his shirt and fiddled with the zipper on his jeans. Jimin leaned away and tried to stomp on Lajos’ foot but the man evaded him with surprisingly nimble steps.
“There’s- there’s no coming back from this,” Jimin mumbled under his breath. “You heard him. He- he set me- up, just because. He set- he set you up too- at the warehouse.”
He felt the pause in Lajos’ movements, just a second or two long, his hands subtly trembling, before he hastily ripped off Jimin’s shirt and tugged at his jeans.
He led Jimin to another corner, brightly lit with a table full of- knives, daggers, cleavers, switchblades, just a whole hoard of pointed weapons. He could feel himself shivering, the cold seeping into his bones, his joints felt like badly oiled hinges and his head felt heavy and hot.
Lajos pulled him to a stop, and Jimin nearly tripped. Chris was there, gliding a blade through a piece of cloth, surface glistening and reflecting the overhead lights. “I was hoping it wouldn’t come to this. Blood can be awfully messy. But you know, Jimin, I’m starting to wonder if you know anything at all, if you’re just playing bluff and trying to buy yourself time to escape.”
Jimin knew he looked sorry, teeth chattering and falling over at every step but he levelled the most contemptuous scowl he could manage. “I know your name- your real- name. Jordan... Banks.”
Chris turned slowly, impassive then his lips split wide into a manic grin. “Oh wow. Wow Jimin, I totally did not expect that. I’m actually really impressed right now. It’s such a waste, god, it really is a waste. But you’re not going to talk unless there’s incentive I guess, so here’s what’s going to happen. I’m going to slide this knife up your skin. Every ten seconds, that knife is going in deeper, whether you talk or not. So even if you do spill, keep it quick, won’t you?
“You’re just- sick. This a-a-another hobby? Muti-mutilating people?” Jimin said through gritted teeth.
Chris picked up a sickle and approached him. Even though he was prepared to die, it still scared him, it scared the fucking crap out of him. But he bit his tongue down and held himself steady. Lajos was behind him, keeping his arms twisted around his back.
Chris trailed the tip of the blade up his stomach and circled around his nipple. It was loud, but dull, the way the sickle brushed against him. Chris wasn’t exerting any pressure yet. He was probably enjoying the show, watching Jimin squirm and sweat it out.
“There, there. It won’t be so-”
Day 68 8.36 pm
Three things happened : In quick succession
The first in which, Jimin was thrown to the side, hips smacking against the table. His legs gave out and as he crumpled to the ground, he grabbed a random hilt, hand coming away with a dagger and sliced through the ropes.
Very quickly, Chris shot forward and slashed at Lajos’ arm, kicking him hard in his chest. Lajos fell back against a pillar, and was knocked out immediately. Jimin scrambled back when Chris then came for him. But exhaustion made him slow, and Chris caught his foot, dragging him from under the table.
“One move and I’ll blow your head wide open.”
Jungkook’s voice was like music to his ears. Jimin dropped his head against the floor, relief flooding through his veins. He wished he could get up on his own two feet and run into Jungkook’s arms. His heart was completely out of sync with his breathing, beating frantically, adrenaline crashing.
Chris looked up with shock and alarm, like he couldn’t believe he’d been found. “How- how the fuck.”
“Put the weapon down, Chris. The whole cavalry is here. It’s over. You’re done. You’re fucking done.”
Chris’ grip on him slackened and Jimin could feel himself losing consciousness. It was okay though, Jungkook was here. He was about to close his eyes when Chris suddenly snatched him up, pulling him to his feet so that Jimin was standing in front of him like a shield.
Chris had one arm wrapped around Jimin’s neck, pressing down on his windpipe and with the other hand, held the sickle next to his face.
Jimin froze, heart in his throat. His hands were spread out by his sides. When he tried to reach back, Chris whispered harshly, “Hands up front where I can see them.”
Jimin raised his elbows slowly, palms facing out. Chris pressed the sickle in. The blade was so sharp he felt it slide through the skin of his jaw like butter.
“You're really- really going to do this?” He choked out against the burning sting, just as Jungkook bellowed, “DON'T FUCKING TOUCH HIM!”
Jimin's attention snapped to Jungkook. He was decked in protective gear, his firearm raised, his stance battle ready. He'd been imagining Jungkook's face in his head all this time, and to finally see him- an instance of so near yet so far- it made him want to cry out in frustration and anger and want.
When he caught Jimin's gaze, Jungkook's eyes softened.
“Oh my god. Oh my good fucking god. You two- you two are actually- seriously- oh this is just great isn't it.” Chris shook with laughter, forearm pressing even more forcibly against Jimin's throat. “God damn, I'm such an idiot for thinking it was all an act!”
Jungkook was trying to tell him something, eyes lowering to the floor then looking back pointedly at him. But Jimin was at a loss. He didn't know what Jungkook wanted to do and he was starting to feel a little hysterical himself. Chris was edging towards the side of the of the building with cracks and a massive hole in the floor. He realised then that the building was more than a few storeys tall and that Chris was likely not going to let him go. A strangled sob bubbled up out of him.
“Eyes on me baby.”
Jimin glanced back desperately at Jungkook.
“That's it now. Don't be scared. Just look at me, okay. Only me.” Then louder and devoid of any gentleness, “That's your grand plan, then? Going to jump through two floors and break your legs? Give it up Chris-”
Jungkook looked down to the ground once more, mouthing something- bite, duck, bite, duck, bite-
Bite, duck, Jimin told himself. Bite then duck.
“-The entire building is surrounded. You can't get away.”
Jungkook widened his eyes, and in that moment, Jimin was completely attuned to him. His body reacted before he could even understand what he was supposed to do.
“Now!” Jungkook yelled.
Jimin bit hard on Chris' foream- a shot was fired, deafening to his ears- Jimin ducked and rolled- the sickle landed in a noisy clatter- Jimin was embraced from behind- Chris groaned, blood running down his arm in rivulets.
“I told you,” Jimin gasped out, Jungkook's presence anchoring him, “I told you- Jungkook- Jungkook is coming for me.”
Day 68 10.40 pm
Heart monitor : Loud
Bed : Adequate
Food : Terrible
His heart swelled with affection as Jungkook fussed over him, trying to fluff his pillows and trying to sneak him chocolate.
“How do you feel baby?”
Jimin smiled at him. “I’m fine Jungkook, as fine as I was five minutes ago and ten minute ago and half an hour ago and-”
“Alright alright, I get it.” Jungkook said. He straightened the creases in the bedsheet one last time, sulky and petulant, falling heavily into the wooden chair next to Jimin’s bed.
Jimin’s hands were on his lap, the rest of his body covered by a thin blanket, courtesy of Jungkook. He flipped his palm upwards.
Jungkook’s hand went to his immediately, thumb brushing over Jimin’s knuckles, generating friction, generating warmth. He pulled on Jimin’s fingers, clasping and unclasping, measuring his pinkie next to Jimin’s. Jimin blushed and tried to pull away but Jungkook weaved their fingers together, holding him tight.
“I love your hands,” Jungkook said quietly, as if he was talking to himself. He looked upset. He hadn’t said much since the rescue. Right after arresting Chris, there were protocols to follow. They were stuck at the scene for more than an hour. Jimin’s statement was recorded, his knowledge shared, his injuries briefly seen to.
And then Jungkook had hustled him away, and brought him straight to the hospital.
They scheduled tests for him for the following morning. And no matter how much he pestered them, they wouldn’t give him an ETA on release, not until they’d seen his scans. So Jungkook had gotten him a private room to rest comfortably in.
Not that hospitals catered to comfort in the way Jimin wished they did. His back really was hurting and could do with a nice springy mattress.
Jungkook’s hair was falling into his eyes and Jimin reached out to tuck the strands behind his ears. Jungkook caught his hand, pressing kisses into his skin. Then he folded himself over, head resting on Jimin’s lap and arms wrapping around his thighs.
Jimin carded his fingers through Jungkook’s hair, nails scratching against his scalp.
“Talk to me Jungkook. Just let it out.”
Jungkook exhaled shakily. “I was- I was really fucking scared Jimin. I came home and- and you were just gone, and I called you- I texted and called and nothing. I waited, and waited, and I called you some more-”
Jimin felt his heart squeezing at the sound of Jungkook’s tone, desperation weighing it down.
“And I went to our neighbours and asked if they’d seen you. And- and no one did. Then- then Agnes came to me. Agnes. Fuck her, fuck Agnes. She said you were in trouble and I just knew- I knew you were in really big trouble. Fuck.”
Jungkook’s voice was thick- high pitched and wavering. Jimin rubbed his other hand up and down Jungkook’s back. It’s okay, I’m safe, I’m here now, he wanted to say but he was tongue tied.
“I didn’t know what to do, so I packed up and went to the office. If more of us knew you were missing maybe- maybe we could get to you sooner, pool our resources. And when I got there, only Kareena and Hanna were around. We tried calling Chris but his phone was switched off.” Jungkook’s finger traced shapes on his thigh. Jimin sounded them out in his head as Jungkook drew them.
“I threw a fit. I knew he had you- somehow. And then Kareena compared your last few locations to his and we got a ping somewhere on the outskirts of Bluefield, but it was on the fucking highway of all places and you were long gone. Both your phones were off by then. So I called up my handler and told him that Chris had gone rogue and that we needed all hands on deck. Needed- needed to find you. And- nobody, nobody was doing anything to find you. I- I yelled at them. I think they’re going to sack me.”
“Oh Jungkook,” Jimin breathed out.
“Then I remembered,” Jungkook choked out a laugh, “-that bug I put in your shoe. I meant to take it out after that night but I completely forgot about it. And I’d never been more fucking glad that we were suspicious of each other earlier on. But you were out in the middle of no where and the signal was wonky as fuck. So we had to spread out, spread thin.”
“But we found you. I fucking found you and you were-” Jimin wiped Jungkook’s tears away, gently, softly. “I don’t want to see you like that ever again. Ever again- ever-” Jungkook shuddered, a full body shiver going through him.
“You’re strong, Jimin, but I’m not- I’m not as strong as you, so please -”
“Promise me, baby.”
Jimin tugged Jungkook upwards, up until Jungkook was leaning over him and Jimin could see his face, heartbroken yet heart-warming. He traced the shape of Jungkook’s eyebrows, past his long lashes, to the smooth curve of his nose, skipping over the little moles scattered around, along his prominent cupid’s bow and down to the jut of his lower lip.
“I love you, too.”