“What is it like to be in love?”

“Free. It feels free, like there’s nothing that can stop me, nothing can hold me down.
It feels as if I can do anything because of love and I’m free of the fear of failure because,
even if I can’t do everything, at least at the end of the day,
there’s still me and him. When all else fails, love won’t.”

Reign on Me series

Monday, February 3, 2014

[LIS4] Chapter 4: As a Forest

rate: PG13
words: 10708
(Chapter 4 of the Living in Shadows series)

Sungmin woke with his heart pounding, his vision vivid in his mind. He had dreamt once more of the bleeding butterfly and it shook him to the core this time; he had never had the same dream twice. He jumped from his bed and left his room not even caring he was clad in nothing more than black pyjama pants. Instinctively, he made his way to his study, not bothering to turn any of the corridor lights on as he moved. He knew the house better than the back of his hand; he could manoeuvre through the house with his eyes closed.

He burst into his study, ignored the large figure looming by one of the windows, curtains wide open and strode straight to his side table. He down half a glass before he finally acknowledged the other,

“Why are you here, Youngwoon?” He asked, putting down the tumbler,

“Why is it more often than not, I see you with a drink in your hand?” He countered, turning away from the window, moonlight streaming in behind him,

“You didn’t answer my question,” Sungmin said as he sat down at his desk, drawing his feet onto the seat so that his knees bent to his chest,

“After discovering Taeyeon had a butterfly tattoo, I had a feeling you’d spend some time thinking in your study. I’ve been here since dinner ended… I fell asleep,” Youngwoon admitted. He grinned, “What took you so long to join me?”

“Honestly? I forgot about the butterfly, I’ve had other things on my mind since then,” Sungmin crossed his arms atop his raised knees and leaned his head against the back of the chair, closing his eyes; “But I had the dream again.”

“Again? That’s never happened before,” Youngwoon said knowingly. Over their many years together, Sungmin had told him often of his dreams and, not once had they ever repeated.

“Yep, again,” Sungmin sighed heavily, “So, you can see from where my worries stem. I wish Kyuhyun was awake.”

Youngwoon jerked his head at his words, “What? Why?”

“I need to clear my head; I want to run the course. However, even if that keeps my body busy, I need to distract my mind. If Kyuhyun were awake, he could control the panels and I run the course and I could do shooting practice with moving targets and an ever changing landscape,” Sungmin explained,

“In the dark?”

“You’ve seen the alternative,” he gestured to the side table and its assortment of drinks.

“Do you really need to go out and do something?” Youngwoon asked, his tone peculiar enough that Sungmin looked over in his direction,

“Almost desperately,” he admitted,

“I was talking to Eeteuk. I told him we have yet to decide on a plan. He suggested that we start where the last team left off,”

“Well, that’s a little obvious,” Sungmin rolled his eyes,

“Who are you? Kyuhyun?” Youngwoon shook his head, “We’ve been together a few days and already he’s spreading his sarcasm. Look, he meant take a look to where the murders happened.”

“Some of these murders happened quite some time ago, the scene would be completely disrupted by now,” Sungmin said,

“But, the most recent ones happened a few weeks ago. I’m not talking about looking at the crime scene itself, but we need to look at it a different way,” Youngwoon said, “Kwon had left a restaurant that night and left on foot. We should go and see who was there, who he talked to – everything that happened leading up to the murder.”

“How can we figure out all of that without Kwon getting suspicious? It’s not like restaurants have cameras inside,” Sungmin,

“Not all restaurants, but they usually have at least one watching the cash register and, if we’re lucky, a security camera or two outside watching the premises,” Youngwoon reminded, “Come on, Sungmin, think like the agent you used to be.”

Sungmin literally growled at him as he got up from his chair. He paced towards the side table, but didn’t pick up the glass again. Instead, he ran his hand through his half-head of hair, pushing it back from his face.

“Okay, we’ll approach surrounding businesses,” Sungmin said, his mind beginning to turn over the information like a Rubik’s cube, “If there’s a gas station nearby we’ll be in high luck, they have cameras everywhere. We’ll get all of their video data and, hopefully, we’ll get some sight into the restaurant.”

“We’ll do it tonight,” Youngwoon held up his hand, stopping when Sungmin was about to leave the study, “Not tonight as in now, Sungmin. Tonight as in after the day has passed.”

“What? Why?”

“Everyone’s emotions are running high from dinner and I want Junsu to come with us,” Youngwoon explained, “He’ll be able to sneak into the buildings to cut their cameras so we can go in as a unit. I know we don’t usually use our abilities so often, but if we don’t, we could end up in the same position as the last team who took this case. We need to use all of our skills to our advantage, including our special skills.”

Sungmin sighed heavily, “This includes our telepathy, doesn’t it?”

“It does,”

“I hate telepathy,” Sungmin practically hissed, “It’s so damn annoying having other voices in my head. Can’t we just use the radios like we used to?”

“And, if we’re overheard?” Youngwoon prompted, “What if video feed is cut but there is still sound able to get through? What if there are bugs planted and we miss even one? No, Sungmin, we’re using everything in our arsenal for this case, then, we’ll never have to do it again.”

“Have you prepared one of your little speeches to convince Kyuhyun to use his particular skill set?” Sungmin asked, leaning his hip against his desk,

“Not yet, but I will,” Youngwoon replied, ignoring the obvious bait,

“You said we’re using our full arsenal. You’re not going to use your voice on him, are you?” Sungmin questioned seriously.

Youngwoon had learned at a young age that he could convince anyone anything. He could convince someone to do anything from telling the truth to putting a gun down. He was always aware of what words he said and how he said it. He knew what particular inflections would cause his voice to hold their special influence and, so, as a trainee in the NIB, he had specifically specialized in interrogation and negotiation. Like the others, he didn’t want to rely on his special ability when he could develop skills like normal people. Also, he didn’t want to cause anything untoward to happen accidentally.

“I would never use my voice on him or any of you,” Youngwoon’s voice was a quiet growl, “You should know me better than that, Sungmin.”

“I do and I also know when a man’s desperate,” Sungmin replied; “I also know that using your voice may be the only way to convince him to use his telekinesis.”

“Kyuhyun’s on edge right now. I’ll give him a few days before I approach him about using his telekinesis,”

“Give him the week,” Sungmin suggested, “The week you gave us to come up with a plan, give him that much. He is on edge and he’ll find comfort in the data, he’ll find solidity in using his mind on a puzzle. After that, he’ll be okay for you to talk to about his power.”

Youngwoon regard Sungmin for several silent heartbeats before he gave a small nod; “I’ll see you in the morning then. Get some sleep, Sungmin.”

“Hey, Youngwoon, why do you think I had the dream again?” Sungmin asked quietly, worry evident in his tone,

“I don’t know, but there is a chance that the butterfly doesn’t represent Taeyeon,” Youngwoon reminded. “Come on, Sungmin. You’re going to have to show me where my room is again because I can’t remember.”

“I wasn’t going to have another drink,” Sungmin insisted, knowing his friend’s true motives for wanting them to leave together,

“I know, but it’s better to leave temptation alone. I don’t want this to become a habit for you,” Youngwoon explained, clapping him on the shoulder when Sungmin reached his side, “Am I being too bossy?”

“Yeah,” Sungmin grinned, “But I missed that about you.”

Youngwoon chuckled and, together, they left the study and the alcohol behind.

She’s so going to kill us when we get back to the house, Sungmin’s voice echoed through Youngwoon’s and Junsu’s minds.

Together, the three made their way down an alley, the mouth directly across the street from the restaurant. Youngwoon and Sungmin pressed their backs against the alley’s brick walls, hiding in the shadows. Junsu appeared beside Sungmin, rising from the shadows in a crouched position.

I HATE when you do that! Sungmin knew that if it wasn’t for his steely control, he surely would have jerked in surprise at the younger man’s appearance.

Stop screaming in my head, Junsu replied.

You two are such babies, they could see Youngwoon rolling his eyes even in the dark, Telepathy is just like wearing radios just without the equipment.

As a team, they made a point to use their special abilities only under the direst of situations. The only time they ever had to use their telepathy during a mission was when they were mucking through rivers in the dead of night and their radios were not water-proof.

And, I agree, Taeyeon will be very mad when we get back, Youngwoon added,

Don’t eat any food she gives you. She’ll probably poison it, Junsu warned.

They had all been training that day once more, utilizing Sungmin’s backyard. Youngwoon, knowing quite well that Taeyeon would be upset to not be included on their mini-mission that night, had waited until she was not around to fill Junsu in on the details. Fortunately, Taeyeon had left the house after lunch for a few hours, giving him enough time to tell Junsu of the plan. So, that night when they had retreated to their bedrooms to change for dinner, the three of them had snuck out of the house, leaving a message for her in the kitchen, knowing she would go there to begin preparing dinner.

We did leave a message, Youngwoon reminded,

We left a post-it note on the counter and that’s only slightly tolerable if she even sees the note. Kyuhyun might make dinner again tonight and see the note instead, Junsu added, melting into the shadows once more.

I still think we should have told Kyuhyun. He won’t bother poisoning our foods, he’ll outright attack us, Sungmin’s voice sighed in their minds.

The owner just left, Youngwoon stated, The night cleaners only come on M-W-F, so we shouldn’t run into anyone.

What’s taking you guys so long? I’m already inside, Junsu laughed. While you grandmas are making your way across the street, I’ll check for any internal cameras. I’ll let you know when it’s safe to enter.

Junsu separated from the shadows, but kept hidden in the dark restaurant. The feeling was always disturbing, as if his body had truly become nothing more than an absence of light, his entire being surrounded by an icy cold. The first time he had detached from the shadows, he was sure he had had a fever, he suddenly felt so hot after time in the shadows. Even now, after years of using his abilities, he never got used to the feeling of giving up every vestige of warmth to become a part of the shadows.

When he heard no sounds around him, he slowly moved along the wall, keeping to the shadows. He made his way deeper into the back of the restaurant until he found a door marked “Office”. He melted into the shadows once more and, when he rose up, he was on the inside. The office was small, a desk and a bookcase on one side. In the corner were computer monitors. Tugging on a pair of leather gloves to keep his fingerprints hidden, he made his way to the monitors. Turning them on, he saw that the cameras were of the surrounding property and, just one was pointed towards the cash register.

Three outdoor cameras, one inside, he relayed the information to his team mates. One camera points to the back entrance where the employee parking is, the other two cameras are on the front street.

He noticed a keyboard atop one of the monitors and, after pressing a few random keys, realized that it controlled all of the monitors.

Remember a simpler time when security cameras recorded onto video tapes? I miss those days.

How complicated is it? Youngwoon asked,

All cameras connected to a single computer. Worse yet, it looks like the computer tower has its data ports blocked up, Junsu replied, analyzing the computer equipment. This is more than just a B-and-E to get the security tapes, boys. Looks like we should’ve brought our brain child with us.

The office door opened suddenly, but it was enough time for Junsu to dissolve into the shadows once more. He knew that in his hidden state, no one could see him and, yet, he still held his breath. He let out a silent sigh when he recognized his comrades.

A little warning next time, Junsu scolded, appearing before them,

Sungmin rolled his eyes as he pushed past his friend. Keeping the keyboard on the monitor where it saw, he managed to change one of the monitors to display what appeared to be a computer desktop. He pulled up the command window and began typing.

Kyuhyun’s not the only one who learned a few new tricks it seems, Youngwoon commented as he began to move about the room, searching for more information. Despite his large and bulky body, he moved silently and swiftly.

Kyuhyun learned how to cook, I learned how to hack a computer, Sungmin said, What did you learn to do, Junsu?

To sew.

Youngwoon and Sungmin’s laughs echoed in his mind.

Shut up, his voice became raspier even through telepathy. Growing up, my grandmother sewed for me and, after her it was Taeyeon. Considering my dear grandmother is long dead and Taeyeon wasn’t around, I had to learn how to patch up my own holes.

So, if during this mission I snag my shirt on something…

I can fix it when we get back to Sungmin’s so the stitching isn’t even noticeable, Junsu snapped at their leader,

Think of it this way, Junsu. You won’t have to use a thimble because Taeyeon can just heal you if you prick you finger on the needle! Sungmin teased, his keystrokes the only sound in the office.

She’ll probably shove the thimble down my throat first.

What is going on between you two? Sungmin asked,

Sungmin! Youngwoon scolded,

What? I want to know if we need to prepare for world war three every time those two are in the same room, he defended.

You mean Kyuhyun didn’t tell you guys? Junsu asked as he began to go through the desk drawers, pulling out small tools when he found a locked drawer.

What does Kyuhyun have to do with this? Youngwoon asked as he searched the bookcase,

Kyuhyun asked me the day we all moved in together, Junsu explained as he began to use his tools to pick the drawer’s lock.

I always knew he would poke a bear if given the chance, Sungmin shook his head,

After the last mission, Taeyeon and I fought a lot. During one of the fights, I told her to leave and she did just that, Junsu explained, not caring how much bitterness he revealed to them. He never shielded his emotions from them in the past and he certainly wasn’t going to start the practice now. We’re certainly being civil to one another, but we’re definitely not as close as we once were even before we started dating.

Do you still love her? Youngwoon asked bluntly,

Yes, his reply was immediate and instinctual. He couldn’t remember a time when he didn’t love her. Had he known that Youngwoon had kept in contact with her the past few years, he would have badgered their leader relentlessly until he found her again.

I hate to break up the warm and fuzzies, but we really do need Kyuhyun. Seems I’m not as good as a hacker as he is, Sungmin sighed heavily. <i>We could take the tower with us, but that’ll only gain Kyuhyun’s censor even more.

Why break a computer when I can just break in? Youngwoon and Junsu chimed, the youngest male’s words said often enough to them during the year they had him on the team.

At least now we know what we’re dealing with and we can bring him next time, Youngwoon said. For now, we’ll just check out the surrounding businesses and see if we can glean anything off of their security cameras, too.

He won’t let us hear the end of it, Sungmin sighed again as they made sure everything was as they had found it.

There are three businesses that would have a possible eye into here, Youngwoon said. Sungmin, you take the restaurant across the street and I’ll go to the apartment building beside it. Junsu, you take the gas station. From here on out, we separate and we’ll meet back at the house. If you need help do not hesitate to call out. Remember: no risks. I won’t lose any of you like that other team.

Youngwoon and Sungmin exited the restaurant the way they came, careful to avoid the cameras. Junsu pushed all thoughts of Taeyeon from his mind, giving up warmth once more to clothe himself in the darkness.

“Oh, this is so wrong,” Kyuhyun shook his head, “I’ve done a lot of undercover jobs, but this is wrong, Taeyeon. This is asking for trouble.”

He and Taeyeon walked down a pristine hallway with white linoleum floors, bright fluorescent lights and a distinctive clean smell. They were both dressed in the sea-green hospital scrubs of healthcare professionals. Kyuhyun had a scrub-cap tied over his dark locks, his glasses gone as he wore a pair of light brown, coloured contacts. Beside him walked Taeyeon, her small body clad in the scrubs, but with a white lab coat thrown over top. Her long hair was coiled into a tight bun at the base of her skull, a pair of thick glasses on her small nose, her brows thickened by fake facial hair and a strategically placed mole just above the right-side of her lips.

Keep it in our heads, Kyuhyun. We’re out in the open here, she scolded even as she kept a smile on her face, nodding to other people as they passed, acting as if they belonged there.

Someone will question us. Someone will know we don’t work here.

Not if we act confident. There are hundreds of workers in this hospital. No one is going to know every single employee, Taeyeon admonished.

They rounded a corner and Kyuhyun bumped into someone. He murmured an apology, his hand plucking the other’s identification badge with a cat-like deftness.

Got the keycard, Kyuhyun said, his voice proud in her mind,

And I got his keys, Taeyeon replied, unable to help the smug smile on her face,

How!? He was beside me!

Taeyeon couldn’t help laughing out loud, the sound a soft melody, “I’m very good at my job.”

They spoke of inconsequential things, trying to appear like normal colleagues in the hospital. They murmured polite greetings, gave nods of acknowledgement to people they past, all the while walking swiftly so as to avoid any questions they may inspire in those around them. Their image of belonging in that hospital as workers was further supported by their definitely knowledge of where they were going. Just an hour before they had poured over the blue prints Taeyeon had obtained of the hospital.

They reached a room, the sign beside it reading “Clean Utility” and Taeyeon withdrew the keys she had obtained, unlocking the door and, together they entered. A quick sweep of the ten-by-ten room proved they were alone before they began checking the many shelves and boxes. The hospital had many clean utility rooms, one on each unit, housing the many equipment the staff needed to perform several procedures.

“So, tell me again what we’re looking for,” Kyuhyun replied, “You didn’t exactly explain everything back at the house,”

“That’s because I had to spend time convincing you to come with me,” Taeyeon replied, a teasing note in her voice as she was drawn towards the shelf containing several different types of needles and syringes.

“Yeah, yeah, you can tell the guys I’m a baby later,” Kyuhyun said with mock-exasperation, “Although, I’m just as peeved that they didn’t take me along for their little mission.”

“When we learned of how the different agents were killed, one of the deaths bothered me: the heart attack. There was something about it, some clue we were missing. I realized it later that it was how the heart attack happened. The coroner never figured out how it happened. You see, there are a handful of ways for one to die without evidence being left behind for the coroner,” Taeyeon explained as she analyzed the different labels and syringes with a meticulous eye;

“It scares me that you know what those ways are,” Kyuhyun muttered, “How did you narrow it down to which way was used?”

“I looked at the autopsy report that Eeteuk provided us and, on paper, all signs point to a heart attack. However, it wasn’t until I looked into the agent’s past medical history that I was able to narrow it down completely,” Taeyeon explained, “Think about it, Kyuhyun, what way could an agent be killed without any sign of struggle and without anything peculiar for a coronor’s practiced eye?”

“Something would have been planted in the agent’s house and it would have to be something the agent would use daily to ensure he dies,” Kyuhyun said,

“Exactly,” pulling on a pair of rubber gloves, she began to rummage through the small boxes of syringes, reading the fine print on each package, “You see, that agent was an insulin-dependent diabetic. He shot himself with insulin four times a day, so, any puncture wounds in his biceps or abdomen would be seen as clinically normal to the coroner.”

“And if the insulin was tampered with then there wouldn’t be a need for struggle because the agent would inject it himself,” Kyuhyun finished,

“Ah, you’re learning,” Taeyeon grinned at him across the room; “Now, there are several different types of insulin produce. There are few solutions you can mix with insulin without it crystalizing in the syringe. Any of these compounds and the agent would have known immediately. However, there is one compound that no only mixes quite well with insulin, but it also causes rapid coagulation, specifically in the smaller vessels like in our eyes.”

“What kind of medicine is that?” Kyuhyun questioned in disbelief,

“It was developed within the past decade but it passed clinical trials just this past year. It’s still undergoing board-certified approval, so it’s not used extensively. Indeed, only this hospital uses it and only in the most serious of situations,” Taeyeon explained, “It’s used for when a patient is exsanguinating. It’s used in small doses because in too high a dose heart attacks or thrombi-induced strokes happen, so, it has a special syringe so as to get accurate doses and to make sure it’s not confused with insulin when drawn up.”

“Define small dose,” Kyuhyun said, joining her at the syringes,

“Point-zero-one milligrams or, one unit of insulin. That agent took a few units several times a day, more than enough to cause a heart attack.” She lifted out a white package, the small, thin syringe inside covered with a blue and red cap. She smiled triumphantly, “This is the hospital, now we can start narrowing it down to who has access to this utility room.”

“But there must be dozens of utility rooms in this building,” Kyuhyun said, watching as she put the syringe back and, then, pocketing her gloves to dispose of away from the hospital,

“Because the drug is so potent, and to be used in only critical situations, it’s only used in the emergency department and intensive care unit. No other units are permitted to even consider the drug a choice. That’ll probably be about forty, maybe sixty employees at the most,” Taeyeon replied as they exited the room, walking back down the corridor, “That’s when you come into play,”

A hospital employee database to crack? Sounds like fun, Kyuhyun grinned at her and she was taken aback at how young he looked in that moment.

We need background checks on all employee connections, too.


Then, we’ll be a heck of a lot closer to finding the person who killed that agent.

Up ahead of them, a man suddenly collapsed. The woman beside him fell to her knees beside him, shaking his shoulders,

“Help! Help!” She spotted them suddenly, her eyes darting towards Kyuhyun, “Doctor! Please help!”

I TOLD you this is asking for trouble! Kyuhyun hissed at her even as they began sprinting towards the fallen man,

Whatever. And why do they always think the guy is the doctor? I even wore this lab coat and they still think you’re the doctor.

You better hope CPR is all he needs, because I have no idea what drugs we’d have to use otherwise.

“Doctor,” she addressed Kyuhyun, a slight sarcastic tone in her voice as she knelt beside the fallen man, her fingers against his neck checking for his carotid pulse, “Go call a code and grab the crash cart. This nurse has got it all under control.”

Kyuhyun barely suppressed the urge to roll his eyes as he did as he was told.

Taeyeon turned her mind to the man unconscious before her; his pulse had been absent. Without further ado, she began chest compressions.

The next night, it was well past midnight when the team returned to the restaurant. This time, no one was left behind at the house. Youngwoon had parked at the gas station under the guise of needing to change a flat tire. He would serve as their lookout and their eyes on the outside. Sungmin had made his way to the restaurant’s roof, a sniper rifle already set up as he served as a secondary defence should the need arise and a second visual for any blind spots Youngwoon had from his position. The other three would make their way into the restaurant. Junsu would ensure they got into the restaurant undetected, Kyuhyun would hack into the security system and Taeyeon was one of the most lethal in hand-to-hand combat, second only to Youngwoon.

“I’m in,” Junsu spoke softly through their ear pieces.

Although they all agreed to use their telepathy for this mission, Youngwoon had allowed the radios. If they were all to communicate, that was four different mental paths each person had to maintain for the entire duration. Since none of them had utilized or practiced their telepathy for quite some time, it would be too mentally fatiguing to use telepathy for the entire mission. The radios served as a back-up should the need arise.

They all waited in their positions, Youngwoon using a wrench to turn the bolt on his wheel at the slowest possible speed. After a few minutes, Junsu gave them the all-clear. It was several minutes more before Kyuhyun and Taeyeon joined him. They came from different vantage points to the restaurant. Kyuhyun slipped into the alley beside the restaurant as he casually walked by, his person shrouded in the shadows. Taeyeon came from across the employee parking lot behind the building, careful to keep hidden in such an open area.

Coming in, Taeyeon’s voice was a whisper in Junsu’s mind just before the office door opened.

See? She knows not to enter a room unannounced, Junsu taunted the other men,

Amateurs, Taeyeon added, grinning conspiratorially with Junsu before realizing what she was doing. She turned away from him abruptly, walking around the room to take in every detail.

Kyuhyun went right over to the computer and began hacking into the system, his fingers typing at a rapid rate. It was barely five minutes before his ever-sarcastic voice questioned, How were you unable to hack into this? The system is practically prehistoric!

How about I make you prehistoric? Sungmin snapped,

Kyuhyun grinned in the darkness. He had wanted to avoid Sungmin like the plague, especially since after their little conversation outside of his room two nights ago, but Sungmin wouldn’t allow it. No, if anything, Sungmin became even friendlier toward him and there was something in those fox-like eyes that told Kyuhyun that Sungmin knew how on edge he made him and Sungmin was enjoying it. The only saving grace was that the older man had not brought it up since, but Kyuhyun knew it was only a matter of time before it was brought up again. Kyuhyun hoped he knew his feelings by then.

A few more minutes and I’ll have this system completely at my disposal. I’ll be able to access it from my own computer so there’s no need to download the data.

Uh… Junsu? Taeyeon was standing by one of the walls,

What’s up? He came to her side,

Taking a penlight from her pocket, she turned it on and pointed it to one of the pictures hanging on the wall, Doesn’t this look like Kwon standing beside the restaurant owner?

The photograph was of two men, one had their arm slung around the others. Both had big smiles on their faces as a cake was set before them, candles aglow and, behind them was a big banner that read “Happy Birthday”.

Shit! Do you think they’re related?

If they are and if Kwon knew he was being tailed, then we need to do a thorough sweep of this office, Taeyeon turned off her penlight, pocketed it once more and, then, they both began a search of the office. This time, instead of information, they began looking for any planted mikes.

Shit! Mike beneath the desk.

Mike on top of the doorframe.

Youngwoon added his own swear before he said, I want you guys out of there fast! Not only would they know we came in, they would’ve heard us going through the desk and working the computer.

We’re good to leave, Kyuhyun said just then.

Junsu disappeared into the shadows as Kyuhyun and Taeyeon made their way to the back entrance. They were almost there when a large body filled the doorway. Taeyeon, who had been ahead of Kyuhyun, was suddenly pushed back against him as Junsu appeared in front of her, his head whipping back. The sound of flesh against flesh told the other two that Junsu had received a punch. Junsu felt the teeth literally rattle as the uppercut shoved his jaw together. He briefly acknowledged he was lucky he hadn’t bitten his tongue before he felt to the ground.

It was crucial to remain emotionless when in a fight and, yet, Taeyeon found it hard to do just that as she saw Junsu crumble to the floor. She quickly stepped over him. She shoved her shoulder right beneath the attacker’s breast bone, putting her entire weight into it. He stumbled backwards and she hooked a foot behind his knee, causing him to fall onto his back. Immediately, she was atop of him, one knee planted into his stomach as she brandished two small knives, the pair of them crossed beneath the assailant’s chin.

“One move and I’ll have you dead before you finish your next breath,” she whispered, her voice soft and deadly.

Kyuhyun, get Junsu out of here. Once you’re out, I’ll follow.

Back entrance is clear, Sungmin informed them, his rifle no longer on his tripod and now in his arms, trained on the ground below.

I’ll meet you guys at the other side of the parking lot, Youngwoon added.

The attacker tried to grab her, but she shifted and pressed one of the blades into his skin, drawing a line of blood.

“No moving,” she tsked. She had adjusted so that one knee remained on his stomach, her other knee had slid back, resting on his pubic bone, “Now, we can do this the easy way or we can do it the hard way. I’ll give you a hint as to what the hard way is,” she whispered, moving her knee until it pressed against his groin.

The attacker gasped deeply, pain suddenly shooting through his body at the contact; “Easy way, easy way!” He struggled for air,

“Now, my buddies are going to leave first and if you get it in your mind to move again, I’ll take off your left testicle,” she warned, slowly dragging one of her blades down the front of his body, the sharp tip easily cutting through his clothes, “If you move before all of us are out of the building, I’ll take both of them and send them back to you in the mail.”

“Okay! Fine! Please, move… knee!”

Kyuhyun helped Junsu to his feet and the pair of them stepped around them, but hovered at the back entrance, waiting for her. Taeyeon shifted again so that her foot replaced her knee on his groin. She used that foot to push off of him into a run and he cried out in pain. She left ahead of them, immediately shifting to the side of the entrance to scope out the lot. Once the pair of them where beside her, as a trio, they made their way across the dark parking lot to where Youngwoon waited for them.

The moment the adrenaline from the attack faded, Junsu promptly fainted in the car. He held out for as long as he could, but his jaw was hurting like blades of fire cut through the bone. His team mates, in an effort to keep him conscious teased him that they wouldn’t leave him alone if he fainted from a single punch. So, it was with one last swear towards them, that he allowed himself to slip from consciousness. When he was nudged back awake, it was to hear voices around him, although he still couldn’t even bear to open his eyes. The softness beneath him told him he was probably on his bed.

“How many days do you think we can get out of this?” Kyuhyun asked,

“Maybe until the end of the week,” Sungmin answered,

“Two days of making fun of Junsu is better than no days,” Junsu could practically hear the grin in the younger man’s voice.

“What’s the verdict?” Youngwoon’s voice sounded louder and Junsu found it easy to place where the other three men were in the room. Kyuhyun had been at the end of the bed, Sungmin by the window and Youngwoon at his bedside. He had begun to wonder where Taeyeon was and if she was in the room at all when he felt soft, slender fingers at his jaw’s joints.

“A hairline fracture in his jaw and both joints are dislocated,” Taeyeon replied as Junsu felt the slight dip in the bed as she knelt beside him.

“Damn, that does sound bad,” Sungmin muttered,

“Maybe we should cut it down to one day of making fun of him then?” Kyuhyun suggested and, by the sound of their joint chuckling, Junsu knew they had made an agreement.

“Can you heal him?” Youngwoon asked,

“Of course I can, don’t be stupid,” Taeyeon rolled her eyes at the leader; “I need you guys to hold him down.”

“Hold him down? Why?” Sungmin asked even as he strode across the room to the bed,

“Do you guys remember how painful it was whenever I healed any of your injuries?” Taeyeon questioned,

“No,” Kyuhyun answered as he knelt on the end of the bed, his arms wrapping around Junsu’s calves, holding them securely against the mattress,

“That’s because I always took away the pain,” Taeyeon explained, shifting enough that Youngwoon could come beside her and hold down his right arm. “Healing can be very painful, you feel everything from a tissue mending to bone shifting back into place.”

“You never said anything!” Sungmin exclaimed, crossing his arms instead of holding down Junsu’s left arm,

“I’m saying it now. I haven’t used my healing very extensively over the past few years, so I’m not as practiced anymore. I don’t think I’ll be able to heal and take away his pain at the same time, so I need you guys to hold him down while I heal him,” Taeyeon stated.

Once Sungmin had his hands clamped over Junsu’s other arm, she closed her eyes and concentrated on healing him. It was an odd thing to do, imagining the parts of the body moving back into their rightful place, picturing the bone threading back together where the fracture was. Surface wounds were second nature to her, she didn’t even have to think about them when healing, but anything beyond that took her concentration. She had been a trainee for three years, much longer than the requisite one year for NIB agents, but that was because she learned early on about her healing abilities. As such, she spent much time pouring over medical and biology textbooks to better improve her skills.

Junsu knew the moment the healing began to take place because he felt pain at the centre of his jaw as if fire wrapped around a single point. He felt his jaw pull down, the bone scraping against one another as it shifted back into the joint. He let out a strangled scream as he fought against the others’ hold on him. The pain he had felt before he had passed out now seemed to triple as fire seemed to spark where his jaw joined his skull.

“You will stop struggling against our hold and let Taeyeon heal you,” Youngwoon’s voice was like warm honey pouring over him, his ears relishing in the beautiful tone.

Without a thought, Junsu relaxed underneath their hold even as he continued to scream as best he could with his jaw unable to move. And, then, the pain disappeared altogether. It felt as if water flowed coolly along his skin, wrapped around his jaw and soothed the pain away.

“It’s done,” Taeyeon murmured, her fingertips trailing along his skin as her hands fell away from his face.

“We need to analyze the security cameras from the restaurant and surrounding buildings,” Youngwoon said as he released Junsu’s arm, his gaze going towards the youngest man immediately,

“I think you guys forget that I have a full-time day job aside from this,” Kyuhyun muttered as he moved off of the bed, “It’s already four in the morning and I have to be up in two hours. On top of that you want me to analyze all the cameras from four different places not to mention the data from the hospital?”

“What data from the hospital?” Youngwoon questioned,

“While you guys were off attempting to do research last night, Taeyeon and I did our own work. There’s some hospital data I need to go through and it might narrow down one of the killers to the agents’ murders,” Kyuhyun explained. He sighed heavily, shoving both fists into his pockets, “Give me until Sunday. I’ll see you guys in the morning,” his eyes were watching the ground, his expression troubled as he promptly left the bedroom.

“I’ll talk to him,” Sungmin insisted, swiftly following the younger man out.

Youngwoon sighed heavily, running his hand through his hair, “I better check in with Eeteuk, make sure he’s okay. Thanks for helping with Junsu, Taeyeon,”

She merely nodded. Youngwoon looked at her then, taking in her bowed head, the slump in her shoulders. He wanted to comfort her and, yet, he wasn’t sure he knew how. The old Taeyeon he knew exactly how to make her smile, knew that he could pull her into a hug and she’d hug him back. The new Taeyeon, well, he couldn’t help but walk on eggshells around her, his hold on her precarious. He knew the pain and sorrow she went through the years they were separated and, yet, he knew that it was because he knew that she kept him at a distance compared to the others; he knew too much. So, without a word, he left also.

The moment the door closed, Junsu slowly pushed himself into a sitting position. He knew why she was so quiet, why she was suddenly so exhausted. It was more than just the energy needed to heal him. He shifted so he was facing to her, reaching out he gently cupped the back of her neck and slowly brought her head down until her forehead pressed against his shoulder,

“Why did you take away the pain, Taeyeon? You didn’t have to,” Junsu said quietly, his free hand rubbing up and down her back as she finally allowed the tremors to run through her body,

“Had to… stop… your pain,” she somehow managed, the whole lower-half of her face felt as if it were burning off.

She wasn’t sure how she had been able to keep so still, so quiet while she waited for the others to leave the room, but the pain was almost unbearable. She allowed the pain to seize her body, allowed the tears to fall. She had known the exact moment Junsu was awake again, it was why she promptly began to heal him. Even though she waited until the others were gone before she allowed her façade to crack, she didn’t care that Junsu was still there. Even after everything they’ve been through, even after the feelings of loneliness and abandonment, she still yearned for his comfort, strength and warmth. Even after she had convinced herself she no longer loved him, her safe place was still there beside him and in his embrace.

“Can you take away your own pain?” He asked quietly. When she weakly pounded her fist against his chest, he chuckled softly, “Yeah, I guess if you could you would’ve done so already,” he said, knowing exactly what she conveyed with that hit. He stopped rubbing her back and, instead, wrapped his arm around her, pulling her more securely against him, turning his head just enough that his lips brushed her crown; “Stay with me tonight, Taeyeon. I’m not expecting anything, but let me hold you through the pain.”

She pulled away from his embrace, her eyes wide with panic as she stared at him through a veil of tears. There were so many things she wanted to say, but talking caused her pain to skyrocket and it didn’t help that it felt as if her heart had lodged itself in her throat.

Junsu had retained his hold on her neck, his thumb gently rubbing back and forth against the pulse there. He shifted closer ever so slightly as he reached with his free hand, tucking a few strands of hair behind her ear, “You used to let me help you all the time, Taeyeon, even when you didn’t need help and I just needed to fulfil some Neanderthal-need to take care of you. Let me help you just one more time.”

“I can’t… love you again,” she grounded out, her voice a plea. Her tears came harder and she wasn’t sure if it was from the pain that exploded in her jaw or from her painfully beating heart.

“I’m not asking for that,” he replied quietly, shifting even closer to her so that their bodies were mere centimetres apart,

“If… you hold me… I will,” she gazed at him, horrified even as her body leaned to him, instinctively moving closer to his warmth,

Junsu passed his free hand over her eyes and whispered, “Sleep.” He wrapped his arm around her just as she slumped against him, careful not to jar her jaw. Gently, he lowered her to the bed onto her back. He lay beside her on his side, propped up on his elbow so he could gaze down at her.

“You shouldn’t have admitted such a thing, Taeyeon,” he said quietly, his finger trailing along her hairline, tiny wisps of hair brushing against his skin, “Now, I will do everything it takes to hold you again.”

He caressed down her shoulder and arm as he settled himself more firmly against her side, laying his head beside hers on the pillow. He was not as tall as Kyuhyun or as bulky as Youngwoon, but with Taeyeon, he always felt bigger, her body so small and slight against his. She had invoked a sense of protection in him from the very first moment he saw her even though she was possibly one of the more lethal members of their team. He wrapped his arm around her torso just beneath her bust. He leaned his head until his lips were like butterfly wings against her temple;

“Ah, my little love,” he breathed the words as he breathed in her familiar scent, “Now that I’ve found you again, I will never let you go.”

He closed his eyes, tempted to sleep by the sound of her even breathing. He wouldn’t sleep, merely rest beside her. Then, before she woke with the dawn as was her habit, he would return her to her room and his moment lying beside her would seem like a dream to her. He couldn’t take away her pain, but he could make her sleep through it and, should any nightmares assault her, he would fight those for her as well.

Sungmin knocked on the door and, when Kyuhyun opened the door, stated simply, “You’re going to give me the data, so there’s no point going through an argument over this.”

Kyuhyun sighed heavily, “What data, Sungmin?”

“I don’t know, just give me half the data and I’ll help you analyze it,” Sungmin leaned a shoulder against the doorframe, “You’re right, we do put too much on you, so, let me help. You’ve already done the hacking, with the data, I can help.”

“So, you’ve seen that I give you the data and instead of beating around the bush, you’re telling it to me straight?” Kyuhyun asked, “You’re not usually so upfront about the future.”

“I know, but this is the fastest way to convince you to give me the data,” Sungmin replied, “If you’re worried about my analytical skills, then give me the security camera data and I’ll search there.”

“We’ll do this together,” Kyuhyun said, “I programmed the restaurant’s computer so I could have access from my laptop. If you go through the data from the camera, you’ll have to use my laptop.”

“Then, how will you look up the hospital stuff?” Sungmin asked,

“I wanted to avoid this, but I’ll have to get my desktop transported here for the time being,” Kyuhyun said, going towards his dresser and pulling out pyjamas, “I didn’t think I’d need both, so I just brought my laptop, but my computer has everything I need to hack into the hospital database.”

“When can you bring it over?” Sungmin asked, intrigued that Kyuhyun pulled off his shirt without any thought to who was with him,

“I can get it after work tomorrow, or, since you and the others aren’t doing anything but playing monkeys in your backyard, you guys can get it for me,” Kyuhyun replied as he pulled on his flannel pyjama top, buttoning the front,

Sungmin laughed, “Those are your pyjamas?”

Kyuhyun threw him a scowl, “They’re comfortable! What do you sleep in? Silk pyjamas, rich boy?”

“Birthday suit,” Sungmin stated simply, amused as the younger man’s face reddened immediately,

“There is too much information sharing happening right now,” Kyuhyun stated, “You need to leave so I can change.”

“Why? We’re both guys. There’s nothing you have that I haven’t seen,” Sungmin grinned, knowing how uncomfortable the other was becoming,

“Yeah, but you… you…” Kyuhyun stopped talking, preferring to be mute than to stammer like a nervous boy,

“Have feelings for you? Am attracted to you? Wonder what you look like in your birthday suit?” Sungmin’s voice was deceptively innocent as his eyes lit with mischief,

“At least step out of the hallway when you say things like that!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,

Sungmin promptly stepped into the room, closing the door behind him, “Why, Kyuhyun, ever the bold one?”

Realizing too late what he had done, Kyuhyun strode across the room, throwing the door open, “Out!” He demanded, his voice a little too high-pitched and his face a little too red,

“Kyuhyun, you’re being quite confusing,” Sungmin stated in that same casually innocent tone of his,

“You know what I mean!” Kyuhyun defended, realizing he was just a half foot away from Sungmin. He immediately took a step back.

Sungmin couldn’t help himself, he laughed again. Kyuhyun had always been so put-together, so rational. He was the brain of their team, his mind working much like a mini computer. He admired Kyuhyun for his analytical skills but, during the year he was on their team, Sungmin couldn’t help but want to break through his calm façade. He did anything and everything to annoy the younger man, ruffle his feathers and get him angry. Despite all of that, however, Sungmin had never seen him so nervous, so edgy, much like a young colt ready to bolt over a fence and run the meadows.

“Kyuhyun, just because I like you, doesn’t mean you have to worry about me trying to jump your bones every time we’re alone,” Sungmin insisted, a smile on his lips,

“I… I don’t?” Kyuhyun asked, skepticism evident in his expression,

Sungmin laughed again, unable to recall the last time he laughed so much. He stepped through the open door to the hallway, turning back to face him, “No, you don’t. My mother did raise me to be a gentleman after all.”

“S-so… if your mother hadn’t, you’d be…?”

Sungmin moved so fast that Kyuhyun didn’t have enough time to react. One second Sungmin was in the hallway, the next, the older man was pressed against him, one arm wrapped around his waist, the other hand tangled in his hair. Their noses were a few centimetres apart and Kyuhyun found it suddenly difficult to breathe as he stared directly into the other’s fox-like eyes.

“I’d be all over you and, no, you wouldn’t fight it and, yes, you would like it,” Sungmin murmured, his breath hot against the younger man’s skin, his words like a kiss against Kyuhyun’s lips.

Kyuhyun swallowed hard, unable to say a single word. What could he say? Sungmin was blatant about his feelings and Kyuhyun wasn’t even sure what he was feeling himself. All he knew was that his heart was hammering away in his chest, his lungs couldn’t get enough air and there was something comforting about being held by the other, regardless if the other was a man, too.

“I have to be up in two hours,” Kyuhyun stated lamely,

“I know you do,” Sungmin’s smirk couldn’t be any smugger as he slowly dropped his arms away from the younger man, “I…”

Kyuhyun watched, intrigued as the expression completely melted away from the older man’s face. One moment Sungmin was all smug confidence, playful lights in his eyes and, the next moment, his eyes were flat, his expression shuttered and his skin perhaps several shade paler than before.

“Sungmin? What is it? You look like…” Kyuhyun grabbed his shoulders, shaking them slightly, “What is it? What did you see?”

“You are going to sleep in, so deep in sleep you won’t hear your alarm clock or your phone ringing constantly as the school’s principal calls you,” Sungmin stated quietly, his eyes hauntingly knowing, “I do not know his side of the conversation, but from what you say, it sounds as if you get fired.”

Kyuhyun walked several steps away, running both hands through his hair in frustration, “Damn it!”

“Why would you get fired over one no-show?” Sungmin asked, watching as the young man paced anxiously,

“When we came back from Las Vegas, I was a no-show the next day. I was so jet-lagged that I promptly slept through my alarm clock,” Kyuhyun explained, “Not to mention the morning I dismissed my class a half-hour early and…”


“I’ve been on edge lately, I’ve been snapping at students, colleagues. The principal’s already talked to me about my shortness of temper lately and how my erratic behaviour will not be tolerated anymore,” Kyuhyun replied, “On Monday I was late to my first class because I had miscalculated travel time to the school from your house. The principal warned me that if I continued as I have been the past few weeks that I would be fired.”

“Kyuhyun, you have to be late tomorrow,” Sungmin said quietly,

“I can’t! I’ll be fired!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,

“I told you what happens when we try to change the future. I told you!” Sungmin’s voice was pleading as he approached the younger man, his fingers digging into his upper arms, “If you try to change it… I will not lose you, Kyuhyun!”

“I may not be the one to die from my decision, but I have to try something,” Kyuhyun insisted, prying the other’s hands from his arms, “You’re so scared of changing the future that you’ve given up all hope of trying to change. Are our destinies set in stone, Sungmin? Are we merely pawns to fate, unable to control our futures and merely waiting for whatever path is set before us?”

“Yes,” Sungmin’s voice was impossibly soft and Kyuhyun hated the sorrow he saw in the other’s eyes.

“You can do everything you want to do, Sungmin, but I will be on time to work tomorrow,” Kyuhyun said quietly, hating the terror he was so obviously causing in the other man, “I need this job. I need to know I have a purpose outside of the team. I need to know that, when this team ends again, that I have something else.”

Sungmin saw the resolve in the other’s eyes. Should he do something to stop Kyuhyun? Should he do something to make him late? It was the tricky thing about his visions. Often, he wondered if his actions would change the future or, if his response to the visions were what prompted the future. If he did something, would it make Kyuhyun strive even harder to be on time and, thus, change the future? Or, if he did something, would he succeed and his vision would come to pass? If he didn’t do something, would Kyuhyun be late for work anyways?

Sungmin turned away from him, then, walking towards the open door. He paused in the doorway when he heard his name; “What?”

“Your feelings… for how long?” Kyuhyun asked tentatively,

“From the beginning,” Sungmin admitted, “So, you see, Kyuhyun, I can’t lose you… I can’t.”

“I need that job,” Kyuhyun replied, hating the plea in his voice, wanting Sungmin to understand, wanting him to approve. Sungmin shook his head and Kyuhyun knew he wouldn’t receive either as the older man walked away.

“You sure you’re okay?” Youngwoon held the phone up to his ear.

“Yeah, I’ve gone to one of our safe houses,” Eeteuk replied from the other side of the line,

“Houses? We have more than one? I only know of the one,” Youngwoon commented as he pulled tight the drawstring of his pyjama pants, tying them tightly,

“Ah, I knew there was something I forgot to tell you,”

“Forgot to tell me? It seems like there are a few things you forgot,” Youngwoon drawled as he sat on the bed, his back against the headboard,

“Well, before we got together, I already had two safe houses,” Eeteuk admitted tentatively,

“Two? You mean we have three safe houses in addition to our normal house!?” Youngwoon exclaimed. There was silence on the phone and, then, he questioned in a suspicious voice, “How much money do you have, Park Jungsu?”

Eeteuk laughed, “Why do you always use my real name when you’re upset with me?”

“Because I’m the only one who even knows your real name without digging deep into your track records,” Youngwoon replied,

“And, even then they’d never find it,” Eeteuk revealed, “Besides, I have enough money to keep us safe.”

“Well, if we ever break up, I’m definitely hooking up with Sungmin. The brat is ridiculously rich,” Youngwoon teased,

“Oh, you would never get away fast enough to run to another man,” Eeteuk replied, his tone a little too serious,

“Jungsu… can I not even tease you?” Youngwoon inquired lightly,

“Not about this. You can tease me about anything except for leaving me,” Eeteuk was dead serious now.

Youngwoon sighed heavily, “Fine, but in return you have to buy me another safe house.”

“Ever the spoiled brat,” Eeteuk tsked even as his voice was warm with affection.

Suddenly, the bedroom door burst open, banging back against the wall. Youngwoon calmly glanced at the doorway now filled with his best friend as Eeteuk began yelling in his ear if he was ok.

“I’m fine, Sungmin’s throwing a tantrum,” Youngwoon said, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, okay?”

“If you’re sure?” Eeteuk asked, unconvinced that the younger man was safe,

“Yeah, everything’s okay,” Youngwoon insisted, ending the call himself. Calmly, he put his phone on his bedside table as he watched Sungmin stalk across the room towards him, “Something the matter?”

“You know what’s the matter!” Sungmin growled, his hands curling into the collar of Youngwoon’s t-shirt, “Where the hell is all my alcohol!?”

“All your alcohol? Why do you ask?” Youngwoon countered,

“The study, the library, the kitchen. I haven’t checked the cellar but I have a feeling you’ve confiscated whatever I have stored down there, too!” Sungmin exclaimed, “Give it back, Youngwoon!”

“I took your alcohol two nights ago. After we left the study I went back,” Youngwoon admitted, “So, since you only noticed now, it’s good to know you don’t drink every night.”

“Exactly, it means I don’t have a problem, but tonight, I need a drink, Youngwoon,” Sungmin tightened his hold on the other’s collar, his knuckles digging into his friend’s neck,

“When you say you need a drink instead of want, that means you do have a problem, Sungmin,” he replied, still in that same calm voice, “Every time you’re stressed or anxious, you drink, don’t you? You can’t keep relying on alcohol like this.”

“Please,” Sungmin growled even as he fell to his knees at the side of the bed, his fingers slipping from its hold on Youngwoon’s collar, “He might die tomorrow and I don’t know if I should or shouldn’t do something.”

Immediately, the leader was on alert, sitting up straighter, “Who might die tomorrow?” When he didn’t reply, Youngwoon shook his shoulders, “Sungmin! Who might die!?”

In a voice above a whisper, Sungmin explained what he saw of the future and Kyuhyun’s strong need to not just keep his job, but to also fight against what the future apparently had in store for him. The entire time, Sungmin knelt at the side of the bed, his cheek against the mattress.

“We could always lock him in his room,” Youngwoon said,

“He’d hate me if I caused him to lose his job and, what’s worse, is that I know how disappointed he’d be in me… disappointed I didn’t believe in him… disappointed that I submitted to my visions once more,” Sungmin’s voice turned hollow as he added, “But to test the future with his life at stake…”

“He’s right, you know. We don’t know if he’ll be the one to die, it could be anyone, even just a stranger off the street,” Youngwoon reminded lightly,

“And, yet, it would still be the consequence of my meddling,” Sungmin replied, “I could’ve kept my mouth shut. Indeed, most of the time I do let my visions play out without saying anything but… but I had to tell him what I saw. Had I known how much the job meant to him, I may have never said anything because I knew he would fight to keep it.”

“Maybe we should trust him, then, Sungmin? Maybe we should let him test the future, let him prove that we don’t always have to follow your visions?” Youngwoon suggested tentatively, knowing that Sungmin was on some proverbial edge, teetering unsteadily.

“Maybe I should brave his hatred and disappointment if it means I can save his life,” Sungmin stood up then, pushing his half-head of hair back away from his face,

“And, maybe you should stay here and talk with me until tomorrow,” Youngwoon suggested,

Sungmin eyed him, “Why?”

“Kyuhyun left the house,” Youngwoon admitted, “He just told me now that he’ll see us tomorrow after work.”

Kyuhyun!? Sungmin yelled on the mental path he shared with the younger man. He suddenly banged his fist against the wall, “The brat isn’t answering me!”

“Of course he isn’t. He knows when not to – what is that term you use? Poke the bear? He knows when not to poke the bear,” Youngwoon said, “Look, there’s just over an hour until he has to wake up to go to work, just over four hours until his first class starts. We’ll know by then…”

“Whether he’s dead or alive?” Sungmin retorted angrily, “Give me the damn alcohol, Youngwoon!”

“No,” He replied unrelentingly. He stood from the bed, “Come with me,”

“Where?” Sungmin questioned, suspicion drenching his tone,

“You need physical exertion to take your mind off of this,” Youngwoon declared, “We’ll spar until you’re too tired to even ask me for a drink.”

“Wait, wait, wait, what kind of sparring!?” Sungmin demanded. Although he and Youngwoon had been on the same team for six years prior to retirement and had trained together often, they hadn’t done hand-to-hand sparring since they were trainees in the NIB.

“Hand-to-hand, of course, we haven’t done that in what? Eight years?” Youngwoon questioned as he slipped on socks and sneakers and led the way out of his room,

“There’s a reason for that: I don’t want to die!” Sungmin said as he sprinted lightly to catch up to him,

“Stop being such a baby,” Youngwoon even went so far as to roll his eyes, slowly dragging the other’s attention away from their youngest male member.

“If wanting to live means being a baby, then I’m the biggest baby and am damn proud to admit it,” Sungmin hissed, “If you want a hand-to-hand sparring session, we’ll go grab Taeyeon. She’s probably the only one who can even put up a decent fight with you.”

Youngwoon laughed heartily as he slung an arm around the other’s shoulders. Inside, however, he was constantly worried about Kyuhyun. If Sungmin asked for the alcohol again, he was worried he might give in and even pour himself a drink, too.

The sky was beautiful. Kyuhyun lay on the cool cement, the pale sun shining warmly on his face and even though pain reverberated throughout his entire body, he couldn’t help but notice how beautiful the sky was that morning. The sound of sirens drew closer, drowning out the sound of nearby crying. Somehow, he managed to turn his head towards the crying. He saw a woman crying beside an overturned car. His body cried out as he pushed himself into a sitting position. He had felt something sticky on his exposed skin, acting like glue against the cement. Looking down, he realized belatedly that he had been lying in a shallow pool of blood. However, he pushed the thought aside as he crawled towards the woman,

“What… wrong?” He asked, the effort of speaking exhausting him,

“My husband is under there,” she cried, burying her face into her hands,

Kyuhyun crawled to the car, looking inside and seeing a man crumbled inside, his breathing almost indiscernible. Kyuhyun didn’t bother to see how many people were around; there wasn’t enough time. He took the door in his hands, concentrating strength into each finger. He tried to breathe deeply to centre himself, calm the heart that raced in his chest, but he was only able to take small, short breaths. Knowing he had to remain subtle with his special ability, he tried appear as if he were struggling as he pried the door open, hearing the cracking proving that it had been locked and, then, jammed stuck in the crash. On hands and knees, he dragged himself into the interior. Once inside, he carefully cradled the man’s head and neck against him as he pulled at the seatbelt, the buckle unlocking with just a thought. Once he had the man free, he gently moved him closer to the opening he had created. By then, firemen had appeared and Kyuhyun handed the man into their care.

The moment he had crawled out of the car, he collapsed face-down onto the pavement once more. He could now feel blood caking his skin in some places and flowing freely in other places. His clothes felt wet and heavy and he knew they were soaked with his blood. The cement was rough against his cheek, but he didn’t have strength to turn onto his back. It grew harder to breathe almost as if his lungs were full of other than just air.

His eyelids fluttered close, suddenly too weak to even keep his eyes open. He needed to call out to the members. He needed to tell Sungmin he was alive. However, as darkness overtook him and cold blanketed his body, he was afraid that if he said anything, it would turn out to be a lie. Before he allowed his mind to slip from consciousness, he managed to call out to one person.


(Chapter 5: On Fire Within)


a/n: kokietcookie - thanks for the correction. I do that all the time with double consonants (I have an eternal grudge towards them). If I ever write staring instead of starring - or vice versa - it's the same issue lol ^_^;;


bredelala said...

Your stories never fail to intrigue me to the very end. Indeed, you are one of the best author around in the fanfic world; For Kyumin at least, cause that's all I ever crave for ;) But various pairings in your stories is loved too. Just dropping by to let you know how admirable your works are.. Jjang!

kokietcookie said...

Damn it, Kyuhyun, why do you need to be so stubborn.

Don't answer that, I know why he is and I like his character, especially how you're showing the conflict he's feeling - the team used to be his everything, but he can't/won't let that happen again, because that'd put him back to two years ago except probaby even worse off. My bet's on Taeyeon being the one he reached out to (because he obviously can't die now, can he?).

I hate sparring (with two r's, btw ^^) so much and I don't even spar with people as good as Kangin or Taeyeon, haha - and I'm glad I don't.

I never really shipped TaeSu (never really didn't ship it either; I've never honestly shipped either of them, haha), but I keep hearing about that 'date' thing in LA or something...idk.

Anyway, you definitely still have me as a hooked (and greedy OTL) reader here! <3 <3 <3

kokietcookie said...

Actually, I change my mind. I predict Junsu, because KangMin are expecting it, he's blocking Min off, and Taeyeon would be the too-obvious second choice. He's going to have reached Junsu because 1.) Junsu has no idea what's going on and 2.) we haven't seen them really connect yet, although it was mentioned that Kyuhyun poked the Junbear and asked about him and Taeyeon.


Bookworm83197 said...

o.o Wat. Oh my gosh fourth chapter in and there's already two attempts on their lives. Yikes.
Hm, is that accident Kyuhyun's in really a product of him trying to change what happens in Sungmin's vision, or was it just happenstance? I happen to agree with Kyuhyun in his opinion on destiny, but Sungmin does have a point, which has been proven through exhaustion. >.<
Beautiful chapter as always! You're updating this story so quickly~ :DDDD I'm so excited (and worried this time. >.<) to see what happens next!