theme: o98. Soothing.
(Sequel to Surrender and Struggle. Last in 'Surrender' series.)
He dropped to the floor. Shiwon stood behind him, leaning his back against the open door’s frame for support, his gun raised, still smoking from the effort. His hand fell to his side, the gun dropping to the ground as Yesung turned around, Sungmin carried in his arms.
Yesung stared down at the fallen body on the ground; it was the gang member who had stabbed Sungmin. He turned to look at the member who had collapsed by the door after Yesung had let go of the broken mop handle. Finally, he looked over at Shiwon who was still holding his bleeding arm, just as the two gangsters who had been mopping came to the front door and slung Shiwon’s arms about their shoulders to hold him up,
“I thought you said you couldn’t help me once I left the corridor,” Yesung asked, his eyes full of tears for Shiwon’s generosity and for the injured man in his arms.
“Let’s just say you owe me one,” Shiwon grounded out as the two members who were holding him up nodded their silent reply. “And next time you knock a guy unconscious - hit them harder. I woke up ten minutes later with a headache.”
Yesung suddenly looked down at Sungmin who had begun trembling slightly. He was startled to find him crying, “Sungmin?”
“All I heard was the gunshot and… and I had thought,” he burried his face into Yesung’s shoulder.
Yesung tightened his arms about Sungmin and pressed him closer to his heart, “Sungmin…” Suddenly he blinked, “Sungmin!?” Yesung exclaimed as Sungmin went limp in his arms. He looked down and saw that his shirt was completely soaked with Sungmin’s blood, “Sungmin! Wake up! Wake up! Sungmin!”
“Hospital,” Shiwon ordered the members who held him up, “All of us.”
As they walked to one of the cars in the mansion’s drive way, Yesung cried for Sungmin to open his eyes again, “Please… wake up. Damn it - wake up!” As he sat in the backseat of the car, he leaned his forehead against Sungmin’s, “Please…”
It was dark when a knock came to the door. Yesung squinted his eyes as light poured into the dim hospital room. He straightened in his seat, having been slouched over as he laid his head on crossed arms on the edge of Sungmin’s bed. He looked over to see Shiwon standing in the doorway,
“Come get some coffee with me,” Shiwon said simply and disappeared from the doorway.
Yesung stood and made for the door then paused. He looked back at Sungmin who lay in the bed, his breathing shallow as wires hooked up to him monitoring his vitals, giving him medicine. He walked back to the bed, reaching for Sungmin’s forehead with his hand. He smoothed back the hair from Sungmin’s forehead and leaned down, pressing his lips to the cool skin. Then he promptly left.
He found Shiwon in the waiting room by the nurse’s station, pouring coffee into a Styrofoam cup. Upon reaching him, Shiwon handed him the cup and poured himself a cup. They sat down in the chairs lining the wall.
Yesung looked over at Shiwon, inspecting his appearance. Shiwon was in a hospital gown, his left arm bandaged at the shoulder and in a sling, “Said it’s best if I keep my arm still,” Shiwon explained, noticing Yesung’s observations, “But they also said it’s damn lucky the bullet hit where it did. Anywhere else and it could’ve done some serious damage to nerves, or killed me faster.”
Yesung shrugged as he tested the coffee’s temperature. Still too hot, he placed it on the ground between his feet and leaned back into the chair, crossing his arms loosely about his torso, “I wanted little to no casualties… and I didn’t want blame to fall on you if I escaped.”
“I appreciate the sentiment, but you got to learn, sometimes it’s best to kill people,” Shiwon sighed as he ran his free hand through his thick locks, “The other two will clean up the body from the front door… and I’m sure they can convince the last one to keep his mouth shut.”
Yesung leaned his head back against the wall and stared up at the ceiling, “Most people would be upset or hurt by the fact one of their comrades tried to shoot them… but I can’t. I couldn’t a year ago and I can’t now, simply because I’m the one who’s been living these lies.”
“Don’t put all the blame on yourself, Yesung,” Shiwon reminded as he took a sip of his hot coffee, hissing when he burned his tongue. He placed it on the ground between his feet and looked back at Yesung, “From what I can surmise about the situation from without you revealing your mission - if I’m right and you still are an agent - your friends back at the agency all turned their backs on you, just assuming you were a traitor. The same thing happened at the mansion. They turned on you before you admitted to anything.”
“Except for you,” Yesung stated as he turned his gaze from the ceiling enough to look at Shiwon, “You questioned the reports given, stopped me from trying to fight six gangsters, stopped them from attacking me by sending me to the cellar… then you shot one of your own loyal members to save me- the traitor.”
Shiwon cocked his head as he regarded Yesung a moment before answer, “You’re not a traitor; to the agency or to my gang. You were just doing your job for the agency and in my gang, you were an accountant; hardly in the place to betray us.”
“Is leaked, exchanged, given every day… I could tell you three other people in our gang of fifty who are agents,” Shiwon admitted, “Likewise, you could probably name three people in the agency who are gang members. It’s a part of the business we’re in, Yesung.”
“Then why did I almost get killed -”
“Because you lied,” Shiwon shrugged, “It hurts. After getting to know someone for a long time, then finding out it was all a lie - it really hurts. Or, in this case as I understand it, that person who died thought of you as a traitor. There are those in our business who are ignorant, don’t understand the ways of the trade, don’t know the unwritten rules; those are the evil ones.”
“Had we not become the friends we are now… and I was just some accountant you discovered was an undercover agent… would you still have let me go? Would you still have killed one of your own to save me?” Yesung challenged.
Shiwon picked up his coffee and was able to take a satisfying drink from it, “I don’t know.” He put his cup back down on the ground. He looked over at Yesung and smiled, dimpling, “Maybe I’m one of those evil ones too.”
After walking Shiwon back to his hospital room, Yesung slowly made his way back to Sungmin’s room. He closed the door softly behind him and approached the bed again. He took his spot in the chair again, leaning his elbows on the edge of the bed as he held Sungmin’s right hand between his own. He kissed the back of his hand and closed his eyes,
“I’m sorry you got hurt because of me,” Yesung murmured, his lips still pressed against Sungmin’s hand. He felt the tears brimming his eyes before spilling and trickling down his cheeks. “I’m sorry that you were one of the ones I had to lie to a year ago. I’m sorry I can’t let you go even though you keep getting hurt because of me…” Yesung opened his eyes, gazing at Sungmin’s serene face through a veil of tears, still holding his hand up to his mouth, “This may seem odd and fast… but at some point after leaving the bar I’ve-”
“Yesung-sshi?” Sungmin muttered as he moved his head slightly on the pillow before opening his eyes. He blinked several times before his vision cleared. He turned his head on the pillow enough to find Yesung, “I dreamt of your voice and wanted to hear it for real.”
Yesung stifled a sob as his hands went to Sungmin’s face, cradling it as he captured Sungmin’s lips with his own in a sweet kiss mingled with Yesung’s tears. Yesung pulled back enough to stare clearly into Sungmin’s eyes. Sungmin slowly, weakly raised his hand to Yesung’s face and wiped at the tears, “Agents and gangsters don’t cry,” he grinned and the smile nearly broke Yesung, “And you’re technically both.”
Yesung couldn’t help but laugh softly, “Your logic astounds me.” He stood up straight, but took the hand Sungmin had raised into his own, intertwining their fingers together, “I’m glad you woke up.”
“I was sleepy,” Sungmin explained apologetically, before suddenly grinning, “Were you worried about me?”
Yesung, suddenly startled at the confrontation, released his hand and stepped away from the bed, crossing his arms, “No.”
“Yes you were!” Sungmin smiled, “You love me, don’t you?”
Yesung blinked before shaking his head vigorously, “Do not.”
“Ah - you do love me!” Sungmin said in a sing-song voice, “Do you love me lots?”
“I don’t love you!” Yesung argued,
“You’re blushing - you totally love me,” Sungmin teased.
Yesung attempted to keep up his front, but seeing Sungmin smile and laugh melted away his defences. He offered a small smile as he stepped back to the bed and brushed stray strands of hair from Sungmin’s forehead again, “Yeah… I love you.”
Sungmin smiled brilliantly at the declaration as he gazed up at Yesung, “Good, because I’ve been in love with you for years and if you didn’t love me back after yesterday night, then I was going to give up on you.”
“For years? Why didn’t you ever talk to me at the agency? You said we started together,” Yesung remembered,
“When you became an agent after two weeks, you were the infamous Kim Yesung and I was still a trainee. Then when I became an agent, I went into Assassination while you were in International Intelligence and Defence. Not much chance to talk,” Sungmin explained, “Then Youngwoon told me you frequented his bar.”
Yesung raised an eyebrow at him, “You should’ve gone into Stalking instead of Assassination.” Yesung grew quiet as his hand passed over the bandages around Sungmin’s bare torso. He was clad in just hospital pants because of the frequent checks on his knife wound. “I don’t know how you can stand being an assassin. I went completely numb when I saw you getting stabbed.”
Sungmin took hold of Yesung’s wondering hand and squeezed it affectionately, “I try not to think about it. I try to remember there’s always a reason to why I’m killing someone. Then after it’s done, I try to forget.”
“And do you?” Yesung asked,
“Not once,” Sungmin sighed as he brought Yesung’s hand to his cheek and he pressed it there, closing his eyes as if the feel of him soothed him in ways hospitals and medicine couldn’t; “I remember every name and every face; and I still go back to receive a new mission, a new name and face.”
“That’s why I try not to kill… the burden’s too much for me,” Yesung admitted; “You’re strong for carrying it.”
“Strong… cold-hearted; the entire thing is debateable,” Sungmin shrugged, “But I do forget sometimes. I try to find peace in those brief moments.”
“What makes you forget? I want to know how to ease your heart,” Yesung said quietly as he reached back with his foot and pulled his chair closer, sitting down in it, all the while still having his hand pressed against Sungmin’s cheek,
“Whenever I saw you in the bar,” Sungmin confessed, his voice above a whisper as he turned his head slightly, kissing Yesung’s palm, “It made me happy to just be around you and I would forget names and faces; forget that my real job was the angel of death…”
Yesung stood up and leaned down, kissing Sungmin full on the lips. He pulled back after a moment and stared down at him, “Then never leave my side… so you’ll never have to remember.”
Sungmin nodded as he tugged at his hand and pulled him down for another kiss.
The next morning, Sungmin was sitting in bed, the upper half of the bed raised for his comfort, with a tray on wheels before him as he ate breakfast. A knock came at the door and Sungmin absent-mindedly beckoned them in. He nearly choked on his scrambled eggs to find the gang leader appearing in the doorway.
Shiwon glanced around the room finding Sungmin alone, “Ah… sorry, I wanted to say goodbye to Yesung before I was discharged,” he turned to leave when Sungmin called him to stop. He turned around, staring at him confusedly,
“Yesung’s just using the shower, he should be done soon,” Sungmin explained, “You can… wait until he’s done.”
Shiwon slightly bowed his head in thanks and sat in a chair by the door. Shiwon sat there, staring out the window nearby as Sungmin began to eat, chewing each bite longer than before. An awkward silence fell upon them until they both stumbled upon their words,
Stunned, they both looked up at one another, locking gazes.
“Why are you saying thank you?” Shiwon questioned, raising a curious eyebrow,
“You saved Yesung,” Sungmin explained quietly, taking another bite and chewing thoughtfully, “Why are you saying thank you?”
“From what I can tell, you’re the only person in the agency who thought better of him than being a traitor,” Shiwon answered, then quickly added, “But this doesn’t change anything between us - we’re still on opposite ends of our line of work.”
“I agree,” Sungmin replied, pausing to take a sip of orange juice that didn’t taste like orange - or juice, for that matter. “But here, the outside world doesn’t affect us here; so we can be amicable without betraying our loyalties.”
Shiwon smiled, dimpling, “I agree.”
A silence passed between them again, but this time it wasn’t awkward. Instead, it was comfortable because they had found common ground: Yesung. When Sungmin finished his meal, he broke the silence again,
“What was Yesung like… when he worked as an accountant?” Sungmin asked,
Shiwon cocked his head in confusion, “He’s different when he’s not crunching numbers?”
“Well, I don’t know; that’s why I’m asking. It’s because you’ve seen a different Yesung than I have. He was the agent to me a year ago… and over the past few days, he’s been just Yesung. There’s only one other aspect of him I don’t know and that’s him when he spent a year with your gang,” Sungmin explained with a slight shrug of his shoulders, “Whenever he talked about leaving the agency for his…” He glanced at Shiwon sharply, “Mission… he always sounds so broken. I want to know if he was okay.”
Shiwon scrunched up his face in thought, crossing his arms, “When I first met Yesung, he was quiet and reserved; there was always this sad undercurrent to his personality, even if he seemed bland and apathetic to everything around him. Slowly, over the course of a few months, he began to open up to me and the other members. I knew about what had happened to him in the agency - everyone knew about the world’s best spy and his fall from grace, so when he began to talk more, I felt that maybe we were glimpsing Yesung as he once was.”
“I think what hid his cover the most was that he cried in front of us. You don’t do that with the enemy, it shows weakness. But… at Christmas, when we were all exchanging greetings and some members gave him gifts, he smiled and quietly accepted them. Then, he retreated to his office. A few of the others and I followed him and found him at his desk crying;” Shiwon recalled, a peculiar light entering his eyes as the memories replayed in his mind, “He had been betrayed by people he had known and worked with for four years, so I thought being able to build those same bonds again really got to him.”
Sungmin blinked a moment before shaking his head, “No, if anything, that’s when Yesung realized how much he had fallen into his own mission. He no longer knew where the lies ended and the truth began; he realized at some point he had become friends with the other members and he didn’t want to be the one to lie again.”
“So he really did mix his loyalties,” Shiwon smiled slightly, “It’s good to know not all of it was a lie.”
“No, not all of it were lies,” Yesung’s voice came from the bathroom. They looked up to see Yesung standing in the bathroom doorway, leaning against the frame with his arms crossed loosely and clad in just a white towel slung about his hips; “And you’re both right.”
“About what?” They asked in unison,
“About why I cried,” Yesung answered. He glanced at Shiwon who was dressed in normal clothes that his wife brought him - he could only assume, “Getting discharged?”
Shiwon nodded, “I wasn’t as injured as I looked. It just looked bad because of all the blood and what not.” He stood up, “Wanted to say goodbye to you before I left.” He walked over to Yesung and stretched out his hand. Yesung took it and shook hands firmly, “And you’re still coming to dinner some time, the wife wants to give you a good scolding for shooting me.”
Yesung laughed freely as he crossed his arms again, “Alright, I will.”
Shiwon smiled, “It’s good to hear you laugh. I often wondered what it sounded like.” He looked over his shoulder at Sungmin, “I assume it’s all thanks to you that I finally get to hear it.” Sungmin flushed and looked away. Shiwon chuckled as he looked back at Yesung. He sighed heavily and his smile disappeared.
Yesung straightened his posture, his face suddenly also stoic, “Time for you to rejoin the outside world?”
Shiwon nodded, stuffing his right hand into his pocket; his left was still in a sling, “It is, which means we can’t be friends once I leave this room.”
“It’s sad that it has to be this way,” Yesung commented lightly, “But there is no other way. You’re a gangster with illegal businesses-”
“And you’re the best spy in the business;” Shiwon offered a small smile, “But the outside world doesn’t affect us at my dinner table; so we can be amicable without betraying our loyalties.”
Sungmin looked up at his mirrored words just as Yesung glanced at him knowingly; only Sungmin could originally come up with that logic. He looked back at Shiwon and returned the smile, “I’ve betrayed both loyalties, so I think I’m exempted,“ he chuckled before adding, in a more serious tone, “Then, goodbye until we meet at the dinner table.”
Shiwon headed for the door, then paused before leaving. He looked over his shoulder back at Yesung, “After yesterday, I’m not sure what you’ll do. You can’t come back to the mob and I have a feeling you’re reluctant to go back to the agency. But… if there’s an off chance that you can deliver a message for me to one of the agents?”
“If I don’t go back, Sungmin can always pass it on,” Yesung answered, “But is it safe to give an agent a message for one of your undercover members?”
“Not a member; remember that love I told you about?” Yesung nodded as realization dawned upon him. A look of longing crossed Shiwon’s face as a small, private smile graced his lips at the thought; “One of the reasons we couldn’t be together was because of our choice in occupation.”
“Ah… then I’ll gladly give the message,” Yesung said,
“Tell them that… they’re still first in my heart,” Shiwon stated quietly, solidly before turning back to leave,
“Wait - what’s their name?”
Shiwon didn’t look back again, but Yesung saw the private smile on his lips again before he left completely; “Lee Donghae.”
“SUNGMIN!” Yesung burst into the bar four weeks later, not caring of the customers who turned to look at him confused as he made a beeline right for the bartender. He was dressed in a black dress pants and blazer, left open to reveal the red silk button up he wore underneath, the top two buttons left undone. He threw down a folder before him, “How the hell did you use up this much alcohol over this month!?”
Sungmin blinked as he wiped out the inside of a glass dry with a cloth. He still wore the usual black dress pants with white button up, a dish towel always thrown over his left shoulder; “Well… alcoholics anonymous did drop by last week,” he stated dryly,
“We don’t have the budget to use up this much alcohol!” Yesung argued,
“… A bar that doesn’t serve alcohol - that makes sense,” Sungmin rolled his eyes as he put the glass onto a shelf and moved onto the next one, “Let me see the papers.” Yesung pushed the folder towards him. Sungmin wiped off his wet hands off a towel, threw down the towel and opened the folder. Sungmin’s eyes widened as he looked up at a grinning Yesung, “Seriously!?”
“Are you sure?”
Yesung nodded again,
“I can’t believe it!”
Yesung nodded again,
“There must be something wrong,”
Yesung shook his head,
“There’s nothing wrong?”
Yesung shook his head again.
“What’s going on here?” Youngwoon demanded as he walked up to the bar from talking with customers, dressed in his perfect black suit with white pinstripes. “All I hear is yelling the moment the door opens; my accountant yelling at my bartender; my bartender asking inane questions while my accountant decides he’d rather be a boggle-head.” Youngwoon glanced at the folder and rolled his eyes, “That’s sickeningly sweet. Don’t show that to Jungsu when he shows up later tonight; he might start getting ideas that we move in together too.” Youngwoon then walked off to the back to handle some office work.
Yesung looked back at Sungmin, “So… is that a yes?”
Sungmin reached across the table for Yesung’s collar and captured his lips with his own. After a moment, he broke the kiss and returned to drying glasses as if nothing had happened. He glanced up in time to see Yesung run his thumb over his freshly kissed lips, smile to himself and tuck the folder beneath his arm.
“So when should I start packing my things?” Sungmin’s eyes snapped towards Yesung’s serious face,
“What?” Sungmin stammered, “You’re moving in with me? But… your new place is so much bigger - even bigger than your old place!”
“Yeah, but I only moved across town because of my old mob knowing where I live,” Yesung explained, “Your place is so much closer to here.” Sungmin scowled and glared down at the glass he was drying. Yesung laughed, “I gathered you’d want to move in with me; I’m just teasing.”
Yesung chuckled at Sungmin’s scowl, but as he was turning his back to the bar, caught the glimmer of a smile. He reached for the glass of whiskey Sungmin produced for him. He took a long swig of it and just as he was putting the glass back down, the door opened and silence fell upon the bar.
Upon the sudden silence from the front of the bar, Youngwoon re-emerged from the back, “Now what’s the…” he paused, seeing who had just entered. Then he called out to his customers, “It’s all right, get back to what you were doing - this is neutral territory; nothing can happen here.”
Hesitantly, the customers did as they were told as Youngwoon looked over at the new arrival, “Shiwon-sshi, always a pleasure to have you in.”
Shiwon bowed his head slightly in greeting, “It’s one of the only places in town where I can stop by and see my favourite traitor.” Youngwoon shrugged at the statement and returned to the back.
Yesung blinked at him then gave him a slanted look, “Don’t tell me you fired another accountant.”
“He didn’t know how to add!” Shiwon insisted as he took a stool by the bar,
“Didn’t you say that about the last twelve accountants?” Sungmin asked, pulling out a bottle of beer for Shiwon,
“Yes - and they all could not count!” Shiwon said as he grabbed the bottle and took a savouring sip of the malt drink. He turned in his stool to look at Yesung, “Once a week is all I ask.”
Yesung, who was leaning his back against the bar, one arm crossed loosely about his torso while the other held his glass of whiskey to his lips, looked at Shiwon from the corner of his eye, “And the others are okay with you fraternizing with the enemy?”
“They don’t ALL have to know,” Shiwon stated, “But those that can know, say hi and ask if you’ll be there for the next mah-jong night?”
“Tell them I say hi back and I’ll be there for mah-jong if we stop using weapons as bets; I left the agency a month ago - I don’t have weapons,” Yesung said,
Sungmin snorted at the statement, “If I took a magnet to every hem of all of your clothes… I could probably supply a whole army with what I’d find,” he muttered as he put away the last glass and headed over to the side where a customer beckoned for him.
Shiwon smirked at Sungmin’s retreating back before taking another sip of his beer, “How’s he taking to the transition of leaving the agency?”
Yesung shrugged, “He’s doing better than I ever did… but then again I didn’t carry any burdens with me in work.”
“He’s okay, though?” Shiwon prompted,
“Yeah, he’s okay; not great, though. He still remembers every face and every name he’s ever had to kill, but he told me a few days ago that he remembers it less frequently now, which is good,” Yesung answered as he finished his glass and placed it down on the counter behind him, “But sometimes he reverts to old instincts. Before he controlled them because he had missions to use them, but now with no missions, he needs other outlets.”
“Hey! You said TWO OLIVES and so I gave you TWO OLIVES even if it meant opening a new jar! Now you’re telling me your martini is too olive-y!?” Sungmin exclaimed. He grabbed the man by his collar and grabbed a knife from a drawer. Spinning it in his hands, he gripped the hilt tightly, holding the blade to the man’s throat, “NOW tell me it’s too olive-y!”
Shiwon blinked, “Shouldn’t we… shouldn’t you stop him!?”
Yesung shook his head as he turned around, grabbed the whiskey bottle from the other side of the counter where the bartender had his workspace, and filled his drink. He took a long sip of his drink before nodding his head towards the door leading into the back room. Youngwoon emerged. He looked around then walked straight to Sungmin, standing behind him. With one swift movement, he smacked the back of Sungmin’s head,
“What the hell are you doing!?” Youngwoon demanded angrily. Sungmin immediately let go of the man’s collar and knife and covered the spot where Youngwoon’s hand made contact with his head. He looked at the man and handed him back the martini with two olives,
“You should teach your employees manners!” The man - clearly drunk - stated,
Youngwoon turned his glare on the man, “And you can shut up and drink your damn martini! I hope you enjoy the first olive and choke on the second one!” The drunk stormed off as Youngwoon turned back to Sungmin and continued to scold him.
“Sungmin mentioned that Youngwoon was in the agency too,” Shiwon muttered, “Is he having a hard time transitioning too?”
Yesung glanced at Youngwoon then shook his head, returning to his drink, “No, that’s just Youngwoon.” He finished his drink when he remembered something, “How’s the divorce coming along?”
Shiwon sighed as he took a long swig of his beer, “Faster than anticipated. She’s not as mad as she could be because of what she gets out of this, but it’s still five years of marriage I just put to an end.”
“You’re not… regretting divorcing your wife?” Yesung asked hesitantly,
“Not at all, I shouldn’t have married her in the first place. I just wish I could have done things differently in the past. Like, stay with Donghae for one thing… not marry the first girl I saw after breaking up with Donghae… A lot of pain would have been preventable had I done many things different; had I chosen to follow my heart rather than my mind,” Shiwon shrugged as he finished his bottle, “But we’re human in the sense we make mistakes and all that matters is that I’m with Donghae now.”
Yesung smirked, “You wish you could’ve done things differently and yet I feel I’ve done things perfectly.” Shiwon looked at him in askance, so he continued, “Everything I’ve done in the agency has led me to Sungmin. I excelled as an agent, so I became one almost immediately. I became really good at my job, which prompted that twisted plot to put me undercover. It was my disgrace that caused Sungmin to want to pursue his idol to find out the truth… etcetera, etcetera. I agree on your statement about us making mistakes, but I think all things happen for a reason.”
Shiwon stared at him a moment before smiling, his dimples appearing, “For the year and number of months I’ve known you, I always felt something was broken in you; like there was a storm raging inside you. But looking at you now… well, it looks like you’ve finally found your peace.”
Yesung watched as Youngwoon retreated to the back room again. Sungmin ran his hands through his hair then turned to walk back to them. As if feeling his gaze, Sungmin looked up, locking gazes with Yesung and gave him a brilliant smile. Yesung couldn’t help but reciprocate with a smile of his own,
“Yeah. I found it.”
(For the spinoff: Five Years Without a Gun // Serendipity and Desire that Transcends Sex // Secrets)