(Sequel to Succession, Survival, Silence and Soliloquy; last of the Succesion series which is a sequel to the Surrender series)
“Bastard! Let her go!”
Shiwon saw nothing but hot fury as he held his gun at his side. He was angry. Angry at his dear uncle; angry at Kyuhyun and especially angry at himself. DoHae was nothing more than an innocent bystander once more. She was an innocent when he first met her so many years ago and he needed someone to comfort him. She was an innocent when he was reunited once more with Donghae and they divorced. Now, she was an innocent as his last living relative held her at gun point.
“I may not survive this,” Kyuhyun conceded, his smile slowly dissipating as his face was transformed once more into cold, calculated cruelty. “She gives me some insurance,” Kyuhyun replied, pressing the gun painfully against Dohae’s temple, “Even if that doesn’t work, at least I can take something of yours in the process. After all these years I’ll get some compensation for all the things you’ve taken from me. So what is it Shiwon? Let me go… or let her go?”
Donghae, who now only had to worry about one of the other men, was standing beside that lone wolf, his gun firmly aimed at the scowling man. He cursed himself for not protecting DoHae properly and it hurt him that he allowed that to happen. However, seeing the emotions playing across Shiwon’s face was killing him. He gripped his gun tighter to stop the rest of his body from shaking, “Shiwon… we have the others under control, you can release him.”
Shiwon heard the words barely penetrate his mind. All of his thoughts were on DoHae, the guilt unbearable as he saw tears slide down her face; as she bit on her lip to stop from vocalizing her cries. His eyes shifted slightly to his cousin. He couldn’t even begin to explain the anger that was brewing within him for Kyuhyun and yet… and yet when he looked at that face and heard that voice, he could not - would not - forget the younger boy who used to play with him… who always accompanied him to the gravesite of his parents. That was the Kyuhyun he knew and even if that boy was lost, Shiwon couldn’t face the man before him.
“But Donghae-” Shiwon began. He would never be able to kill his cousin. No, he’d never have the heart for that. However, he’ll settle for putting him back in jail.
“Choose cousin,” Kyuhyun reminded, his voice a cruel, taunting melody.
Donghae saw the confusion on Shiwon’s face. More importantly, he saw the concern, the worry for DoHae. Immediately, Donghae dropped his gaze to the ground, scared that if he read too much of Shiwon’s face, that he’d see more than just friendly affection in those eyes he loved so much. “SHIWON! JUST DO IT!” He explained, shutting his eyes tightly against the sting of tears.
“SHE MEANS TOO MUCH TO YOU TO HAVE HER KILLED!” Donghae exclaimed, his face snapping up to look at him, his dark eyes shining with unshed tears. His eyes bore into Shiwon, silently begging him to look at him. When Shiwon didn’t move his gaze from DoHae, Donghae tightened the grip on his gun and cocked it.
A gun fired.
When Sungmin felt himself being shoved to the ground, it took him a moment to regain his senses. As those around him continued in chaos, he slowly crawled towards Yesung’s body. Since the bullet entered Yesung, Sungmin hadn’t the opportunity - almost didn’t want the opportunity - to look at him. He reached Yesung’s body on all fours, not caring that his hands and knees were covered in the blood that had been pooling from Yesung’s stomach.
A feeling of numbness overcame him as he gazed at the pale face he loved so much. Wiping his bloodied hands on his own pants, Sungmin reached out and brushed strands of hair from Yesung’s eyes. When he had first met Yesung, there was always a tiredness, a weariness on the man’s face. Now, lying still on the ground, he looked at peace.
With shaking fingers, Sungmin unbuttoned Yesung’s shirt to reveal the torso, streaked with blood that slowly trickled from the bullet wound. Higher on Yesung’s stomach was a band that held a gun against his body. Slowly, methodically, he reached out and released the catch of the holder, the gun dropping to the ground with a quiet clack.
Sungmin leaned down towards Yesung’s face, one forearm supporting him as he reached out with his other hand and brushed more hair from those closed eyes, “It’s like you’re sleeping,” Sungmin barely whispered, his voice shaking as he felt a sob rise into his throat. Crushing it and fighting the flood of tears that threatened, he continued quietly, “But I know you’re not.”
Slowly, his free hand moved from Yesung’s face down to lay on his chest, over Yesung’s heart. Sungmin slowly closed his eyes, leaning his forehead against Yesung’s, feeling himself lose the battle against his tears, “You’re not sleeping… but you’re stronger than this, aren’t you?”
He raised his head enough to see Yesung’s face clearly, “I can’t be wrong… I know you,” He blinked as he saw tears drop on such a serene visage; “I love you… so please…” His tears continued as his hand confirmed what he had heard earlier before Kyuhyun had pushed him off. He barely repressed a cry as he felt the subtle rise of an expanding ribcage.
Subtly, Sungmin reached to Yesung’s side where the gun had fallen and, never taking his eyes off the sleep-like face of his beloved, Sungmin surreptitiously placed the gun in Yesung’s limp hand. Gingerly wrapping his arms around Yesung and pulling him into a sitting position, he hugged him fiercely. Sungmin held him dearly, securely as he felt his own clothing becoming drenched by Yesung’s blood.
Slowly, excruciatingly slow, Sungmin felt Yesung’s free arm move, limply embracing him back. Relishing in it, Sungmin buried his face in Yesung’s shoulder, muttering, “Let’s finish this together.”
Kyuhyun dropped to the floor with a loud thud and immediately Donghae grabbed DoHae, protectively pulling her behind him as he kept his gun pointed at one of the men. The office was filled with a silence as the remaining lone wolves gapped at their fallen leader. Suddenly, noise was heard out in the hallway as half a dozen men in black suits entered.
Youngwoon visibly relaxed as he removed his hand from a man’s neck, “Took you long enough,” He sighed heavily, glad he had the sense to call the Agency before leaving the hospital.
With more Agents there, Donghae and Jungsu both dropped their weapons, exhausted more emotionally than physically from the chaos. Replacing his dagger and gun, Jungsu took the few steps to Sungmin and Yesung’s side. Slowly, he eased the gun from Yesung’s hand,
“I was wondering when you were going to get up,” Jungsu said with a shake of his head, “104 missions - no, 105 now - and I refused to believe you hadn’t yet built up some kind of resistance to a stomach wound.”
“I’m not as good as I used to be,” Yesung said quietly as he slumped in Sungmin’s embrace, “I used to recover in seven minutes before…” Yesung raised his head enough to look over Sungmin’s shoulder, “Too much bloodshed,” Yesung sighed as he lowered his head again.
He made to stand up and gingerly, Sungmin brought them both to their feet. Yesung moved towards the fallen Key when Jungsu raised an arm to stop them. When they looked to him in silent questioning, Jungsu merely looked at Shiwon and said nothing.
Shiwon had felt his heart constrict when he saw his cousin drop to the floor. No longer having the strength for anything, his own gun slipped from his fingers and dropped to the floor without going off. Slowly, he made his way to Kyuhyun and dropped to his knees at his side. The man who had stood before him earlier with the gun pointed to his ex-wife was not Kyuhyun. This man who lay on the floor, blood gushing from his neck and a mixture of hatred and fear in those dark eyes; this was Kyuhyun.
“Don’t play the golden son and try to save me, Shiwon,” Kyuhyun rasped bitterly, “It’s too late.”
“I wouldn’t have you die over this, Kyuhyun,” Shiwon insisted as he felt his throat constrict with the cries he suppressed, “Never.”
“I know…” Kyuhyun sighed as he blinked and stared up at the ceiling rather than at Shiwon, “I was able to execute all of my plans up until this point with confidence simply because I knew that I couldn’t force your hand like that.” He gripped his hands at his sides, “It wasn’t fair that you inherited it all Shiwon… I was his son.”
“Maybe he didn’t want to corrupt you with this dirty business? Maybe he wanted something else - something better - for his only son?” Shiwon offered, his voice faltering as he felt the sting of hot tears behind his eyes.
“This is the only life I knew… there wasn’t anything else for me,” Kyuhyun replied as he felt numbness in his extremities and the constant burn in his neck. “In this world, all I had was the gang.”
“You had me,” Shiwon argued, feeling his body tremble. How could someone who was so strong, so confident, so alive just moments ago suddenly be so weak, so vulnerable, so…
Kyuhyun barely shook his head, “You were on a different level than me… you always were,” his eyes slowly shifted from the ceiling to Shiwon’s face as his vision slowly began to blur, “Golden boy,” he managed a small smirk.
In that infinitesimal moment, Kyuhyun was that young boy that Shiwon had once held so dear to him as he grew up. “If I was on a different level, Kyuhyun, it was only because you kept pushing me… you kept me alive all those years after my parents died… you kept me going.”
“A gang leader isn’t supposed to be so soft,” Kyuhyun chided quietly despite weakly reaching out and grabbing Shiwon’s hand, “For what it’s worth… I’m sorry… hyung,” Kyuhyun managed, feeling tears trail down his face as blood trailed from his neck.
It had been years since Shiwon last heard Kyuhyun call him that with such sincerity, with such familial love, that he felt his heart constricting painfully in his chest. Suddenly, his own tears were borne and his vision of his beloved cousin was blurred by a veil of tears.
“If I could change the past, Kyuhyun-”
Kyuhyun shook his head to silence him and gently tugged on his hand, gesturing for Shiwon to lean closer to him. Shiwon lowered himself until he felt Kyuhyun’s shallow breath against his ear. He heard the whispered words that his cousin forced out with the last bit of his strength. Gripping Kyuhyun’s hand even tighter, Shiwon shut his eyes when he felt Kyuhyun’s breath no more.
Nothing was said in the office, and yet, it seemed like an invisible, palpable sign had told them that Kyuhyun - more commonly known as Key - had died. Jungsu slowly lowered his arm from blocking Yesung and Sungmin as he silently crossed himself. Whatever evil Key had done in the world, Jungsu knew that Shiwon wouldn’t cry for someone who didn’t have some good within his soul.
Taking a deep, steadying breath, Jungsu felt he was able to finally think clearly for the first time since he and Donghae had found Youngwoon lying in a pool of blood earlier that day. As if suddenly realizing something of great importance, Jungsu turned his head towards said injured person.
Youngwoon stood talking to one of the Agents who had come as back up. The man was built strong but leaned all his weight on his cane. Despite having been covered in blood just hours ago, and despite all the injuries and bandaging on his person, Youngwoon was still dressed smartly in his virginal white suit with silver pinstripes.
As if sensing his gaze, Youngwoon excused himself from the Agent and turned to look at Jungsu. As best he could, Youngwoon made his way to Jungsu’s side. Immediately, he knew the scold that would come from the older man and opened his mouth to protest first, “Before you start getting riled up-”
Jungsu said nothing as he quickly pulled Youngwoon into a fierce embrace, ignoring the curious stares of his fellow Agents. Saying nothing, he merely held onto Youngwoon as if loosening his hold just a fraction meant losing life altogether.
Yesung was practically dragged by Sungmin, feeling no strength at all in his body. Some how he managed to place a hand on Shiwon’s shaking shoulder, “It’s over…”
“I know… I can’t… I just…” Shiwon choked as he ran the back of his hand across his reddened eyes.
“All we can do now is pick up the pieces and continue with our lives,” Sungmin offered quietly as he kept an arm securely around Yesung to keep him upright.
Shiwon slowly raised his eyes from his cousin’s lifeless body towards where Donghae was yelling at an Agent to stop questioning DoHae. As if in a trance, Shiwon rose from the ground and, with one last look at his beloved cousin, crossed the chaotic office to the two people who had had the most access to his heart his entire life.
Feeling, rather than seeing, Shiwon approach, Donghae turned his face away from the annoying Agent. His eyes sought out Shiwon’s, but the other’s did not meet his. Instead, Shiwon walked straight towards his ex-wife and took her hands into his own.
“I’m so sorry DoHae,” Shiwon managed.
Donghae quit the room before ever getting the chance of seeing Shiwon pulling DoHae into his shaking arms.
As if he was seeing something he shouldn’t be, Sungmin looked away from Shiwon and his ex-wife, turning complete attention back to the man beside him. He gently pulled Yesung off to the side and held him,
“I’ve always tried to finish a mission without bloodshed,” Yesung sighed as he slumped against the window sill where Sungmin had brought them.
Suddenly remember Yesung’s injury, Sungmin opened his mouth to say something when suddenly Yesung slumped against him,
“Yesung!?” Sungmin stammered,
“I’ve quite lost the feeling in my body,” Yesung murmured, his head lying against Sungmin’s shoulder as he found it hard to keep his eyes open.
“Damn it, you’ve lost so much blood,” Sungmin cursed, angry at himself for having forgotten the reason Yesung was so weak. He looked around the room, fortunately catching an Agent’s eye, “Don’t you dare leave me Yesung! Don’t you fucking dare!”
“You’re still the persistent pup I met over a year ago,” Yesung laughed lightly, his entire body numb except for a blinding pain in his abdomen, “Following me even when I was undercover… if I leave you, you’ll follow me still.”
“I’m not kidding Yesung!” Sungmin warned, trying to stop his body from shaking; someone had to be strong between the two of them.
“So dramatic,” Yesung heard himself say. His body was feeling lighter than it ever had, as if he were floating… floating… and yet, weren’t there a pair of arms still wrapped around him? He was floating but still bound to the ground. “I won’t leave. At least, not until I tell you how much I love…”
And darkness surrounded him, as he heard the distinct call of his name on the lips of the one he loved.
Donghae closed the folder and stretched his arms above his head. He looked across his desk at the young woman who was doing the same then pulling her silky hair into a ponytail. She caught his staring and offered a smile,
“Are we done now, Donghae?” DoHae asked politely,
“Unless there’s more you want to add to your statement, yes we’re done,” He cocked his head to the side as he stated suddenly, “You’ve never called me by my name.”
“Because that was when you were my ex-husband’s lover. I think after what we’ve just gone through - getting kidnapped and held hostage and whatnot - I do believe that warrants us some kind of familiarity, no?” She replied, her smile bright.
In that moment, Donghae suddenly understood what DoHae brought to Shiwon. She was kind and polite, he had understood that when she still offered Shiwon friendship after the divorce. Now he realized the reaches of her kindness; saw the size of her heart as she offered an olive branch.
Hesitating in taking it, Donghae nodded slightly, “Indeed.”
“You know, if I think about it, I really should stay mad at you,” DoHae said, her perfectly arched eyebrows narrowing suddenly,
“But.. Just now… our whatnot together-” Donghae stammered, startled at her sudden about-face,
“Not about that, about you abandoning Shiwon earlier,” DoHae replied, “Really, I thought you loved the big lug.”
“I… I do,” Donghae defended, eyes narrowing,
“Then why the hell did you leave him? He was obviously in a bad spot, definitely vulnerable and shaken over his cousin’s death,” DoHae crossed her arms over her chest and Donghae was startled to see that such a small gesture transformed the lady completely. “The strongest man I know is standing there as weak as a newborn kitten and you walk out on him!”
“I… but…” Donghae cleared his throat, slowly regaining control of his composure; “He had you, he had no need of me.”
She immediately scoffed, “Reverse our positions in that sentence and you’ll get the truth, you will! If the divorce didn’t make you realize this, then let me say it: Shiwon loves you.”
“I saw him, DoHae… I know he loves you,” Donghae gritted, fists clenching above his desk;
“Of course he loves me,” She said the next bit slowly, emphasizing each word: “As. A. Friend.” Her eyebrows relaxed, as did her crossed arms, “Donghae, Shiwon is completely and totally devoted and in love with you.”
“But all his visits to you-”
“All he blabbed about was you and how much he worried for your sake during this God damned mission,” DoHae interjected, “Just yesterday I told him not to visit me again until after the mission because he made for sorry company when all he did was mope and worry over you.” Her exasperated expression lightened into a soft smile; “He’s fiercely loyal to those he cares about, but don’t mistaken those feelings for love Donghae. I’m sure had I been Yesung, he would’ve treated him the same way,” DoHae insisted, smiling at the thought of her former accountant who had become her friend when she was married to Shiwon.
Donghae ran a hand through his hair, “I’ve been an idiot, huh?”
“Very much from what I’ve just witness,” DoHae laughed lightly as she stood up from her chair before Donghae’s desk,
“Thank you… thank you for confirming his feelings, DoHae,” Donghae stood up and came around the desk, holding out a hand,
She took it and shook it firmly, “You didn’t need confirmation in Shiwon’s feelings, Donghae… you needed confidence in yourself.”
The door opened and Shiwon stood there, perplexed at the scene before him.
Giving him a brilliant smile, DoHae released his hand, “You’re lucky to have his love,” she said quietly, sincerely as a friend;
“He’s lucky to have your friendship,” Donghae replied, finally smiling back.
After assuring herself that Shiwon was okay, DoHae made her excuses and left. Shiwon closed the office door and came towards Donghae, sitting in the chair that DoHae had occupied just moments ago;
“It would be some twisted triangle if my ex-wife suddenly ran off with my lover,” Shiwon stated with one thick eyebrow raised in curiosity,
“She was just explaining things to me,” Donghae replied quietly. He stared at Shiwon a moment, not knowing how to start. Taking a steadying breath, he began, “About earlier… I’m sorry I just left-”
Shiwon interrupted him by reaching out and grabbing his wrist, forcibly yanking Donghae until he fell into his lap, straddling him.
“I don’t want to talk about it right now,” Shiwon stated firmly, wrapping his arms around Donghae and pressing his lips against the other man’s shoulder. He laid his forehead against Donghae’s shoulder and closed his eyes.
“Okay… but I still get to apologize when you do,” Donghae replied playfully.
However, his comment was met by silence. Donghae opened his mouth to say something when he felt his shoulder feel wet. Then, he felt the strong arms around him and the solid body against him subtly shake. Comprehending immediately, Donghae wrapped his arms around Shiwon’s shoulders, pressing his head firmly against his own heart.
He felt the hollowness resonating in Shiwon as if it was in his own body. He held him more protectively, securely, trying to dispel that hollowness with his own feelings. There were few times when he had ever seen the formidable mob boss show such weakness and it tore at his heart completely.
Knowing that Shiwon’s reputation meant a lot, Donghae whispered gently, “Let’s go home, hmm?”
“Please…” Shiwon managed, his voice heavy and hoarse, “Just another minute…” His arms tightened exponentially around Donghae’s smaller frame, “Just another-”
Donghae pressed his lips to the top of his head to silence him, “However long you want,” he replied softly. He heard Shiwon bite down on the beginnings of a sob. Holding him even closer, Donghae closed his eyes, willing his strength and warmth and love into Shiwon’s body, “I won’t leave you again.”
“Donghae,” Shiwon cried, biting down on his lip until he tasted blood; “I love…” He shook now from the force of his silent cries. He had lost the last of his family and all he had left were his friends and the young man he held in his arms - no, the young man who held him. His heart felt heavier than it ever had, but he knew reprieve was right beside him, holding him, kissing him, loving him. “I love y…” His cries were slowly becoming vocal as he was losing reign over his emotions.
“I know,” Donghae said quietly, gently, “I know.”
Hearing such conviction in the other’s voice, Shiwon lost the last of his control and a strangle cry rip from his strong body. He didn’t know how long he stayed there, his body racked with tears. All he knew was love’s presence in the one who held him.
In a hospital not too far away from the Agency, Jungsu sat in a chair as Youngwoon was laid back down in his hospital bed as his elderly nurse scolded him for sneaking off. Never before had Jungsu seen the intimidating bar owner be put in his place quite firmly without a single word of objection. After assuring Youngwoon was safely in bed and that Jungsu required nothing, the nurse left, shooting one last warning glance at the patient before shutting the door quietly but firmly behind her.
“I wouldn’t be surprised if she locked the door from the outside,” Youngwoon laughed as he reclined in his bed which had the upper half reclined to a forty-five degree angle, “At least they only have me hooked up to one machine this time.”
“They should tie you down to that bed,” Jungsu didn’t intend for it to come out as a growl.
Youngwoon offered a small smile, “Hey, if I hadn’t come when I did-”
“You called the Agency to stop me so don‘t act like you guessed all along that Key was going to attack today,” Jungsu scowled at him, crossing his arms over his chest,
“The Agency wouldn’t have been able to stop you if you went and took your anger out on Shiwon like I knew you would,” Youngwoon countered, “So yes, it was by some dumb luck that I had called the Agency, but I knew I had to go just in case.”
“Because you send Donghae and the others after me,” Jungsu scoffed,
“Had Donghae not been captured by Key’s men first, then him and the other two would’ve held you off fine,” Youngwoon defended, “In case they didn’t, I decided to go after you.” He shrugged, “All for the best, anyway.”
“The best for who? Certainly not for you!” Jungsu’s eyes narrowed dangerously, “You could’ve gotten even more hurt than you already were Youngwoon! For God’s sake, you were using a cane-”
“Which wasn’t detrimental in the least-”
“THAT’S NOT THE POINT!” Jungsu exclaimed, his fists slamming down on the armrests of his chair. “You were being reckless as you’ve always been since the moment I first laid eyes on you. Damn it Youngwoon… for once, just stop and think about the consequences!”
“I always do, why do you think I left the Agency?” Youngwoon retorted,
“The consequences for YOU!” Jungsu argued angrily, “You were already battered as it is… going in there…”
“We just discussed how I didn’t know you all had been ambushed,” Youngwoon rolled his eyes,
“That doesn’t matter! You still left the hospital! You still put yourself in danger!” Jungsu exclaimed, hot tears sliding from his fiery eyes,
Jungsu blinked, startled, “W-w-what!?”
“I said, I’m sorry,” Youngwoon replied quietly, solemnly as he raised a hand to him.
Instinctively, Jungsu placed a hand in Youngwoon’s and allowed himself to be pulled closer to him. “But… why?”
“Because you’re right and although I don’t regret doing it, I do regret making you worry for me,” Youngwoon insisted, remember after Key had died and Jungsu hadn’t yelled as per usual; instead he had held onto him for dear life. He had never sensed such worry, such concern from Jungsu before. He looked up at him and smiled, “You seem put out by what I’ve said.”
“You… you never give in so easily,” Jungsu stammered, “I… I’m not sure what to say next.”
“You act as if you’ve had a whole lecture prepare,” Youngwoon laughed, only garnering a coughing fit. After it passed, he stared at Jungsu before stating flatly, “You did have one prepared…”
“A small one,” Jungsu conceded, his expression softening as he gazed down at Youngwoon. “This was the second time today that I’ve seen you in a dangerous situation.”
“I promise to let you lecture me twice as long next time,” Youngwoon offered lightly,
“In different circumstances,” Jungsu gripped his hand tightly, “I won’t be able to take it if something like today happened again to you.”
“In different circumstances,” Youngwoon promised, quietly, feeling his excursion from the hospital taking its toll on his body once more.
“And you’re not leaving this bed until the doctor says you’re fully recovered,” Jungsu warned, eyes narrowed,
“I wouldn’t dream of it,” Youngwoon grinned sleepily,
Jungsu scoffed, “You’re probably planning your next escape.” He sighed heavily as he reached out and brushed the side of Youngwoon’s bruised face, “I mean it.”
Youngwoon allowed his eyes to slip close as he leaned his tender face against Jungsu’s gently hand, “So do I. Just stay with me and I won’t have to leave.”
Jungsu whispered his agreement as Youngwoon pulled him down for a kiss before promptly falling asleep.
Just down the hall, in the same hospital, Sungmin sat in a chair beside Yesung’s bed. Yesung hadn’t woken up yet and, exhausted from the day, Sungmin had crossed his arms on the edge of the bed and laid his head to rest; one hand holding Yesung’s.
In that time, Sungmin dreamt. Actually, he remembered. He remembered when he first entered the agency with Yesung, only to see his fellow trainee be promoted to full Agent status after two weeks. He remembered when he first saw Yesung enter the bar, asking for a bottle of whiskey. He remembered their first conversation, their first touch, their first kiss, their first night, their first fight… He remembered Yesung.
“Shouldn’t you be gazing at me lovingly as I lay here sleeping? Not the other way around?”
The gently, laughing voice prodded Sungmin from his sleep. Stiffly, he twisted his torso this way and that to relieve his muscles as he sat up in his chair. He looked at Yesung who lay straight to keep his abdomen relaxed.
“I was so worried,” Sungmin said seriously as he brought Yesung’s hand to his lips,
“Not as much as I was when you were the one lying in the hospital bed,” Yesung replied with a small smile, “But maybe a close second.” Yesung took a few breaths, finding it tiring to blink, let alone speak; “How’s Shiwon?”
“Last I saw of him, he was with DoHae… I think… I think him and Donghae are at odds,” Sungmin said hesitantly, remembering Donghae leave the office;
“They’ll be okay,” Yesung insisted weakly,
“How do you know?” Sungmin asked, startled,
“Because when Shiwon talks about Donghae… or looks at Donghae… or vice versa; it’s the same way between you and I,” Yesung replied solemnly, “That’s how I know. And yes, they’ll be okay.”
“I… I don’t think I’ll be going back to the Agency after this,” Sungmin admitted,
“But you love-”
“I love you more,” Sungmin interjected sternly, sincerely; “I died when you dropped to the ground Yesung. When I finally had time to think clearly, I prayed that you had built up a strength against bullets,”
“Four years with the Agency, I had to build up some kind of counter to those wounds,” Yesung offered a small smile, “but gathering strength after a shot used to take much less time than it did today.”
“I was glad that I wasn’t wrong and that you were as strong as all those stories said at the Agency,” Sungmin said quietly, pressing Yesung’s hand against his lips again, closing his eyes as if memorizing the feel of him. “When I was attacking Key, I thought I heard you breathe and I just froze. When I heard it a second time I thought perhaps your acute hearing had rubbed off on me… I was so happy.”
“I’m strong, not invincible, Min,” Yesung stated quietly, “All I knew for a long time was darkness as I lay there and honestly, I didn’t know if I could do it this time… I didn’t know if I could-”
“But you did!” Sungmin said fiercely,
“Only because you pulled me back,” Yesung insisted, a small smile gracing his lips; “Only because you were there.” He released Sungmin’s hand to brush his fingertips down the side of his face; “It was you.”
“And it’s because of you that I won’t return to the Agency,” Sungmin repeated firmly, “I love planning and tactics, not killing and…” He sighed heavily, “I won’t go back.”
“In all honesty Min… I don’t like you killing and all the rest,” Yesung admitted quietly, “That night in the alley with that lone wolf… I love you Sungmin, but when I saw the look in your eyes that night… it felt like all warmth was gone from me… All life… I didn’t like who you became that night; fake or not.”
“I hated myself that night too,” Sungmin replied, “All those things I said… then our fight.”
“It’s over now-”
“I hated that you had to see that part of me,” Sungmin whispered, “The part that made me good at my job.”
“It shook my soul seeing you like that… as if you lost yourself to accomplish the mission,” Yesung visibly shivered, “I never had to go that far to finish a job.”
“My role in the Agency was a bit more… morbid than yours,” Sungmin said with a slight shrug, “If I didn’t detach myself I’d never be able to live with myself.” He shook his head as if to dispel his ghosts and looked at Yesung with a lighter expression, “But that was then.”
“Your past still haunts you,” Yesung stated simply,
“Never when I’m with you,” Sungmin repeated the words he had said over and over again to Yesung over the past year.
Yesung grabbed Sungmin’s arm and weakly pulled at him until Sungmin sat on the edge of the bed, pushing down the side railing. Yesung gently tugged him down to him, “Then let me help you forget today.”
Sungmin happily conceded, leaning down until their lips met in a sweet and sincere reunion.
Several weeks passed until things resumed as they once had. Peace settled once more upon Seoul with the death of Key, or as those close to him knew him, Kyuhyun. Lone wolves continued as they always had, subdued and just there, waiting. Whatever trouble that may arise, however, would be countered by the joint forces of the Agency and the underground gang Shiwon still controlled over.
Over the past weeks, Shiwon had been implementing steps to bring all of his gang’s work within the laws. A few gangs around South Korea called him out on it, calling him soft and even tried to overtake him and his gang. However, those who didn’t challenge Shiwon remain steadfast in their previous loyalty to him. They did not easily forget their reverence for the gang leader, nor his uncle before him.
Shiwon understood that what he was doing wouldn’t get acceptance by many in the underground. Many from his own gang left while others from other gangs came to swear loyalty to him. What seemed to make most gangsters agreeable to his changing ways was the forgiveness Shiwon showed. When it was revealed who had been behind the murders, Shiwon went into a brief mourning period; his gang soon followed, ceasing activity for an entire week to honour the man - no, the boy - who was once one of them. Despite the betrayal, Shiwon had forgiven and mourned the death of his cousin and many gangsters who respected him, could not see fault with such steadfast loyalty.
When Youngwoon finally left the hospital and returned to his bar, he was scared to look at the ledgers and count up how much profit he had lost after not being able to work for two weeks. Thankfully, his good friend and trusty accountant had returned the same time as he to help him out.
Sungmin did eventually return to the Agency. However, he refused to return to his old job as an assassin, especially since he decided to continue working at the bar during the night.
“Sorry, sorry, sorry, sorry!!” Sungmin chimed as he dashed through the door of the bar, practically collapsing against the bar counter to catch his breath,
“Late. Again,” Youngwoon practically growled from behind the bar.
“I know!” Sungmin apologized as he slowly straightened.
Youngwoon stepped away, still using his cane for support; “You’re the one who said that your other job wouldn’t interfere!”
“It won’t,” Sungmin insisted as he slipped behind the bar and began cracking his knuckles in anticipation of work.
“I told you to take the car,” Yesung sighed as he came out from the back of the building; “Told you that you were going to be late and-”
“I already said sorry,” Sungmin said exasperatedly as he handed out drinks to regulars who had approached the moment they saw his familiar face.
“Giving him such a hard time,” Sungmin was startled when he suddenly realized that Shiwon was sitting at the bar, “Bottle of soju, Sungmin.”
“How’s work for you, Shiwon?” Sungmin asked as he turned towards the fridge to grab the desired drink.
Shiwon shrugged as Sungmin handed him a chilled drink, “Same as always I suppose, although,” he glanced sideways at Yesung, “I’m still in dire need of an accountant.”
Yesung rolled his eyes, crossing his arms, “It’s been well over a year and you still haven’t found an accountant?”
“Oh, I’ve found plenty, just none good enough to be permanent,” Shiwon stated with a grin, “It’s not like you work during the day-”
“That’s because I sleep,” Yesung argued, “I like to sleep during the day since I work in the night for this guy,” he pointed his thumb at the bar owner who was talking to a customer.
Youngwoon scowled at him when the customer walked off, “Sungmin works noon to two in the morning with his two jobs, and you say you can’t crunch some numbers for Shiwon.”
“It’s because he’s getting old,” Sungmin laughed as he prepared a drink for some customers.
“I’m almost the same age,” Youngwoon growled but Sungmin merely grinned in silent reply. When he moved to clock the bartender over the head with his cane, the door to the bar opened and two men entered.
“Anything but his head!” Jungsu cried as he grabbed Youngwoon’s raised arm with a laugh, “The Agency needs its top tactician!”
“The Agency, or just you hyung?” Donghae laughed at his friend as he took an empty seat beside Shiwon,
Jungsu scowled at the younger man, “Ever since you were promoted as head of International Intelligence and Defence when the last one retired a week ago, you’ve been quite cocky.”
“Only to you,” Donghae grinned at him easily as he felt Shiwon’s big hand slip into his smaller one, hidden from all others’ view.
“How’s the gang?” Jungsu asked as he petted the simmering bar owner’s arm,
“We’re not called that anymore,” Shiwon corrected before taking a deep swig of his soju; “We are now a group, a corporation, a-”
“You’re legit, I get it,” Jungsu chuckled, “No need to convince me, I never held it against you. Actually-” He paused when he felt the familiar vibration of his phone. He withdrew it from an inner pocket in his blazer, “Hello? She’s back? Alive? Perfect, I’ll be there within a half hour.” He closed his phone and replaced it, “And to think I just left.”
“Chief?” Donghae offered,
“No, that old man’s probably peacefully sleeping in bed. My vice-head… one of my agents just got back from her mission so I have to go and debrief her on it,” Jungsu sighed heavily raking a hand through his hair, “I’m switching my number and not giving it to the vice-head.”
“I wholly agree,” Youngwoon stated solemnly as he appeared to be adjusting the cuffs of his black, pinstriped suit. He looked up from his ministrations and gave Jungsu a meaningful look.
The elder man blinked, fighting the creep of heat spreading throughout his body. “I’ll make it quick,” Jungsu promised.
“You’re desk in your office is quite sturdy isn’t it?” Youngwoon leaned in and whispered. Jungsu simply gave a curt nod before saying goodbye to his friends and leaving. With Jungsu gone, Youngwoon made his own excuses and retired to his office in the back of the bar.
The bar’s door opened once more and a small group of men entered, laughing. Shiwon looked up and immediately the group stopped,
“Ah, Boss!” The nearest one bowed to him, immediately followed by the others, “We were hoping you’d be here!”
“Oh?” Shiwon downed the rest of his soju, placing the empty bottle on the bar counter for Sungmin to dispose of, “Celebrating?”
“Most definitely! We’ve secured a partnership with one of the gangs for our ventures in Busan!” Another man said jovially, his red cheeks suggesting that this bar was not their first stop that night. “Come drink with us Boss!”
Shiwon chuckled at his members, his friends, “One drink and don’t think this means I’ll take it easy on you guys tomorrow!”
“Yesung! You too!” Another member called out, “We haven’t seen you since the last mah-jong night!”
“With good reason! Drink with you crazy people?” Yesung scoffed but grinned all the same, “I’ll join you if you manage to get Shiwon drunk!”
The group cheered at his acceptance and suggestion. Shooting Yesung a glare, Shiwon squeezed Donghae’s hand, slipped his hand out of it and stood from his chair, “Which gang is it? And it’ll be done legitimately right?”
“Of course Boss!” The man who greeted him first replied, “And it’s the Kim gang!”
“The Kim gang? We’re in Korea,” Shiwon said with exasperation, “You need to be more specific than that.” The group began moving away when one of the members turned back towards the bar,
The group paused and looked back at the young man at the bar and the member who greeted him. Shiwon looked passed those who surrounded him and stared at the scene. His members were fully aware of his relationship and although some didn’t approve, they didn’t condemn. Donghae had looked over his shoulder at the call of his name and now stared at the man, perplexed. He had been introduced to some of Shiwon’s members simply out of politeness when encountering them, but they had never gone out of their way to talk to one another.
“You should join us for a drink, too,” The member smiled at him,
Donghae glanced towards Shiwon’s equally startled expression. With the slightest of nods from him, Donghae tentatively turned completely to face the man and nodded, “Sure… Sure,” He repeated the second time with his own smile. The small group burst out with cheers as they tugged Donghae into their midst and proceeded to an empty booth for drinking and camaraderie.
“Looks like I should start chilling more soju,” Sungmin said exasperatedly, a smile belying his supposed annoyance.
Yesung smirked as he came behind the bar, leaning a hip against the lower counter, “Charge them extra,” Yesung suggested lightly as he eyed the group,
“You’re they’re friend,” Sungmin reminded as he turned to throw Shiwon’s empty bottle in the recycling;
“I’m also this bar’s accountant. Charge them, we’ll get more money,” Yesung chuckled, “They’ll be too drunk to realize there’s an extra digit on their bills.”
Sungmin shook his head with a grin, “Why you were never in a more cut-throat department, I’ll never know.” Sungmin glanced at Yesung, “You can stop watching Donghae, he’ll be okay.”
“I wasn’t the only one startled by that invitation,” Yesung replied as he turned, leaning his back against the counter this time, “But you’re right, he will be.”
“They’ve seem better than before,” Sungmin commented lightly,
“Donghae and Shiwon? Yeah,” Yesung agreed as he watched Sungmin move about the bar as more customers came in and placed orders. “DoHae’s seeing someone now, looks like she bounced back from what happened quite nicely.”
“That’s good, she’s a really nice person,” Sungmin replied before pausing to hand some drinks out. Once his customers were all served and retreated to their own spots, Sungmin took a breather to look at Yesung, “How are you feeling?”
“Alive and well,” Yesung replied, garnering a scowl and glare from his beloved, “Too early for jokes?”
“Definitely,” Sungmin practically growled as he turned to the back counter to pull out glasses from his dishwasher.
Yesung glanced towards the customers as he subtly closed the distance between himself and Sungmin. He looked out casually, crossing his arms lightly over his torso, “It’s been over a month since that happened, Min.”
“Yes well, I keep seeing you lying there in your own blood every time I close my eyes,” Sungmin hissed as he gripped a glass too hard and it broke in his seemingly delicate fingers. He cursed as he dropped the glass shards into the nearby sink and began running water over his cut hand.
Immediately, Yesung grabbed a towel and pulled Sungmin’s hand from the stream of water, pressing the towel firmly against the cuts Sungmin had attained. With his free hand, Sungmin shut off the faucet but said nothing as he allowed Yesung’s hands to surround his. They were warm and comforting; they were Yesung.
“So that’s why you’ve taken to walking about the apartment during the night,” Yesung said lightly, his eyes on Sungmin’s hand to make sure the bleeding stopped;
“You were always sleeping,” Sungmin couldn’t help the accusatory tone in his voice,
“I still heard,” Yesung replied as if it were the most obvious of things. When he pulled away the towel, all that was left were nasty red lines where Sungmin had gotten cut. Dropping the towel into a basket for other cloths to be washed, Yesung instinctively moved to a drawer behind the bar where a first aid kit was located. He brought it over and began tending to Sungmin’s hands, “I am fine, Sungmin. You don’t have to keep worrying.”
“I understand now how you felt when I was the one recovering,” Sungmin said quietly as he became entranced by the methodical feeling of Yesung firmly yet gently bandaging his hand;
“I was worse,” Yesung conceded once he was done and began putting the kit away, “You just weren’t aware of it.”
Sungmin let out a heavy sigh as he turned to look out at the bar, leaning his hips against the back counter and carefully crossing his arms over his chest, “It really is over, right Yesung?”
Subtly, he let his arm closest to Yesung drop to his side and like a skilled spy, Yesung did the same, his hand finding Sungmin’s. “It is,” Yesung promised, “And even if it weren’t, I’d be with you every step of the way.”
Surreptitiously, he brought up their hands up and pressed them against his lips. Then, just as elusive as he had raised their joined hands, he let them lower back out of view. But he’d never let go. Ever.
(For the Sequel series, Shatter.)