(Chapter 15 of the Living in Shadows series)
The moment the yacht’s horn sounded, Kyuhyun immediately checked to ensure the heavy-duty suction cup he had attached to the boat was secure and that the rope which linked it to the small flotation ring he was situated within held firm. Once the sun had completely set on the harbour, Kyuhyun had slipped into the water on the far end of the docks. With his scuba gear, he easily made his way to the yacht, going to the far side which wasn’t visible from those on the docks. Once there, he unfolded a flotation ring and it self-inflated. He had secured it to the boat and, to preserve energy, allowed the flotation ring to hold him afloat rather than do it himself. He had kept himself busy by having Sungmin describe to him what he saw. When the horn sounded, he knew he could no longer be idle.
As the boat began to slowly pull away from the dock, Kyuhyun reeled himself close to the boat as possible so that the flotation ring wouldn’t drag belatedly compared to the boat, increasing the chance for it to be seen by those on the docks. He slipped on a pair of gloves which had magnetized area which would allow him to scale the side of the boat. The moment he had one hand secured against the hull, he took a knife which was secured to a utility belt on his waist and cut first the flotation ring to make it deflate and, then, cut the rope attaching it to the boat. Returning the knife to its holder on his belt, Kyuhyun returned his attention to scaling up the hull.
Talk to me, keep me entertained. This auction is boring. Junsu spoke to him.
Kyuhyun snorted. You’re just trying to distract yourself from whatever it is Taeyeon’s wearing.
Don’t. Remind. Me. The other’s raspy voice held a biting edge. I knew I should’ve refused when she wanted me to leave ahead of her.
Oh, please. We all knew whatever she was going to wear wouldn’t be anything you’d like her to wear in public. She had to combat with an already scandalously, scantily clad waitress uniform from the last auction. Kyuhyun rolled his eyes as he slowly made his way up the side of the boat, all of his weight relying on the grip of the gloves. Each time he moved one hand up further, he grounded his teeth and managed to silence any groans as he pulled his entire weight up so that he could move his other hand.
Well, she could have dressed differently. She could’ve worn a suit! And, damn it, does she have to sit so close to Eeteuk!? She’s practically sitting on his lap! Junsu snapped.
She is not. There’s an empty chair between them. Sungmin countered. He was so comfortably deep in Kyuhyun’s mind, the younger man had forgotten his presence and hadn’t realized that Sungmin was privy to the conversation with Junsu.
They could be sitting further from each other. And, how the hell are you talking to me? This is just a path between Kyuhyun and I. Junsu questioned.
I was talking to Kyuhyun before you did. He just didn’t send me out before you started talking to him. Sungmin replied.
One would assume that certain conversations are private and -
Fuck, now I know why Taeyeon’s always telling you two to shut up during meetings! Kyuhyun snapped. Can you two at least bicker out of my mind? I’m trying to scale a damn boat without getting caught by guards on the deck and that’s hard enough without having you two old maids arguing in my head!
The youngest male’s mind became gloriously quiet as he continued his journey up the boat. He had no doubt that both men were waiting for him to have his feet on a solid surface before one or both began to scold him for being so disrespectful to them. He was just two more arms length below the closes window when he tried to move one hand further, only to have his fingers slip. He tried again, but the magnetized tips didn’t stick. Without anything to hold on to, his body slipped, jarring painfully at his shoulder when the one hand that was still secure against the hull held. He grounded his teeth painfully to keep from yelling out when, in his mind, he let out a resounding,
What’s wrong? Do you want me to come to you? Junsu was the first to respond.
Kyuhyun didn’t reply. Instead, he brought his free hand up to his face and examined the tips. They looked intact, but, still, they didn’t stick to the hull at all.
Cho Kyuhyun! Answer me right now: what the hell is wrong!? Sungmin demanded, so concerned, so desperate, he called out on all his mental paths, the others on the team and Eeteuk, through his connection with Youngwoon, able to hear his question clearly in their minds.
Just shut up for a moment! Kyuhyun replied back, annoyed. One of my gloves stopped working and I’m figuring out what to do. I’m hanging off the side of this damn yacht and I can hear guards above me. So, please! Shut up and let me think!
Let me help! Junsu said.
No! I’ve got this! Kyuhyun insisted.
He’ll be fine. Sungmin added, his quietly confident voice calming the threat of panic reaching for the youngest male.
Kyuhyun heard guards’ voices coming closer to where he was. If they stood at the railing and looked down, they would see his form hanging there, his lower body far from the angle that the hull created. When he finally realized what he had to do, he swore at himself. He gently swung his legs back and forth until they were able to hit the hull. The moment one toe did, he concentrated his mind on that area. He heard the soft groan of metal bending as it moved to form a niche for his foot. The same happened with his other foot. Then, with his free hand he easily made the metal bend, digging his fingers into the hull enough to keep a good grip. With all his strength, he pulled himself flush against the side of the boat and waited.
With the last bit of his concentration, Kyuhyun pulled down barriers in his mind and allowed only one pathway open. Sungmin.
You can do this. Came the older man’s reply. His surety and support settled Kyuhyun completely.
There had been a moment when his hand couldn’t latch onto the hull that premature panic began to rise within him. For that split second, he began to question why he ever became a field agent and wondered if he should have refused Eeteuk’s request to take on one last case.
A cigarette butt flew by him and down to the dark waters. As its spark of red disintegrated into nothingness, he heard it accompanied with jovial laughing and ribbing from the guards directly above him. They began to walk away from where he was, however, he waited several seconds after he could no longer hear their footsteps before making a move.
Strengthening his resolve, Sungmin’s words emblazoned in his mind, Kyuhyun utilized his telekinetic powers to help him create dents and niches into the hull to climb his way up to the window. Once he reached the window, it was a simple matter of using a diamond blade to cut away the glass and toss it to the water before pulling himself into the cabin.
He had just changed from his wetsuit to a formal suit when the cabin door began to open. Kyuhyun had his gun at the ready when the man who entered closed the door behind him. As if he were sneaking off for a quick nap while the auction was taking place, he moved towards the bed before realizing he wasn’t alone in the cabin. His hand was subtly reaching for a gun when Kyuhyun cocked his gun for the other to hear.
“You won’t live to feel your fingers even graze the handle of your gun,” Kyuhyun warned. “Hands in the air.”
The man hesitated. He was tempted to try and reach for his gun again when a soft shushing and almost indiscernible click was heard.
“That was me putting a silencer on my gun. I can kill you and escape without anyone finding your body until this auction is over and they do a final sweep of the yacht. Now, I’ll only repeat myself one last time: hands in the fucking air.”
Just as the man raised both hands in the air, Kyuhyun was already behind him. He slammed the butt of his gun against the man’s temple and, immediately, the man fell to the ground. With a wave of his hand, Kyuhyun stopped the body from hitting the ground. He eased the body onto the bed and, locking the door, he went back to his equipment and quickly packed them into a bag before stashing it below the bed.
Water in, Kyuhyun announced. He replaced his gun in its holster at his hip, hidden beneath his suit jacket. He patted his body knowingly, ensuring he had other weapons and plenty of ammo before he unlocked the door and slipped out into the corridor. He eased the door close, straightened his jacket one last time and headed for the deck.
The auction was well underway when a large guard stepped onto the stage and presented the next item: a thick, manila envelope. The auctioneer who stood at the podium smiled happily as if a fat, roasted pig had just been brought forth. He turned to the audience and held up his hands in excitement,
“Ladies and gentlemen, the star of tonight! The pages within this envelope are not like any other! They could make or break the future of this country! They could decide whether an alley rat is elevated to lordly status!” The auctioneer exclaimed. “Ladies and gentlemen, within this envelope are portfolios and data of every agent in the National Intelligence Bureau! Home address, statistics and even identification photographs!”
Immediately, eager whispers burst out all over the room and it seemed like everyone moved to the edges of their seats as if they could pounce on the guard and steal the envelope themselves. Sungmin, who was situated in the back, Junsu, from his hidden corner up near the ceiling and Youngwoon, now standing within the room’s doors as one of the guards there, could all see Kwon. It was only Youngwoon, however, who could see the way the man watched the envelope like a hawk, as if it were his precious treasure vulnerable on the stage at that moment. Kwon had managed to pass off the envelope without them catching him, but they would get him when the money switched hands.
We’ve got audio evidence. Junsu revealed to the others. When Kwon had entered the reception hall, he had managed to use his shadow walking to sneak a bug beneath the other man’s chair before situating himself in the dark corners of the ceiling.
We’ve got to aim for more, just in case. Youngwoon replied.
As the auctioneer began answering questions from the audience about the validity of the information being sold, Taeyeon heard movement behind her just moments before a hot breath touched her bare shoulder.
“Cheri, did you think I would not recognize you tonight?” The familiar, loathsome voice of Mouse whispered into her ear. “You have accompanied Kangin tonight, I see, but you have strayed from his side.”
Taeyeon barely suppressed the urge to shudder as her skin crawled just listening to him. “If you don’t want your balls cut off and shoved down your throat, I suggest you leave me alone,” she warned, her voice soft yet deadly.
Youngwoon, I’m going to kill you for ever letting me meet Mouse. Taeyeon muttered. He’s such a damn annoyance.
Ah, so that is the infamous Mouse. Junsu added in.
Don’t worry, Junsu. I’ll kill him myself if he tries anything with Taeyeon. Youngwoon assured.
Tone down the testosterone, please. Taeyeon replied exasperatedly.
“Ah, how did you know that a bloodthirsty woman turns me on?” Mouse asked lightly just as the soft click of a gun cocking reached her ears. It was almost hidden by the questions being shouted out at that time, but Taeyeon had heard it. “It has been such a long time, no? Since I last held you in my arms? Since I last had your body pressed to mine? I think when this auction is over, it is best that you leave with me, ma cheri.”
I heard a gun cocking from Mouse. Eeteuk spoke to the others through Youngwoon.
What!? Junsu exclaimed as Taeyeon said, How!?
He has annoyingly good hearing, Youngwoon answered.
Taeyeon sighed softly aloud as she leaned back in her chair and loosely crossed her arms about her torso, “Are you really that hard up that you have to threaten your way to get someone to sleep with you?”
“Don’t worry, ma petite, by the end of the night you’ll be begging me to not stop,” Mouse sounded as if he were attempted to be seductive but his anger was all he heard.
Don’t taunt the bastard! Junsu reprimanded.
Junsu. Her voice was like a summer breeze, warm and soft on their private mental pathway.
Don’t! You made me a promise, don’t you fucking break it now, Taeyeon! He snapped, immediately moving through the shadows to get closer to her.
“Five hundred thousand won!” A bidder called out.
“I’ve got five hundred, do I heard five-fifty?” The auctioneer questioned loudly,
“Five hundred and fifty thousand won!” Another bidder yelled.
As the bidding continued, each amount of money spoken louder and louder than the last, Taeyeon hissed out when she felt the brush of lips against her shoulder. With her trained, rapid speed, she turned her body just as she pulled the trigger on the gun she had been hiding. She had slipped it from a holster around her thigh and moved it into place when she had crossed her arms. She knew the reaction from getting such trauma would be a tensing of Mouse’s muscles, including the finger he had resting on the trigger of his gun. Immediately, she felt the burning impact of a bullet pierce into her side. As she easily got to her feet and faced Mouse, her gun trained on him still, she could only hope that the bullet hadn’t buried too deeply.
The gunshots had halted the auction immediately and Mouse’s yell had only centred all the attention on them. He raised his gun again, but before he even realized it, one hand was on his forearm and the other was on his hand. With a push on his forearm and a powerful pull on his hand, there was a horrible wrenching sound followed by his cry of pain as his gun was then easily swiped from his loosened grip.
Junsu, who now stood by Mouse slipped the criminal’s gun into an empty holster at his waist as he grinned, eyes narrowed angrily, “This is going to be fun.”
“Evacuate the room! Evacuate the room!” The auctioneer immediately yelled out, “Guards, stop those mongrels!”
As people rushed out of their seats in an attempting to join the exodus out of the reception room, guards from all sides pushed and shoved their way through to get to those who had caused the disturbance.
Wood, you stay on that data! Youngwoon commanded, easily slipping back into his role as leader, their codenamed spoken in instinct rather than procedural thought. Kwon was watching it like a king’s ransom. I’ll bet my life that that envelope has the real data. If we can’t catch Kwon with it, then you get that fucking data back!
I’m on it. Sungmin replied, as calm and collected as the sniper shooter he was. Even through the crowd of people, his eyes watched the guard with the envelope still standing on the stage with the auctioneer. He slowly moved his way around the perimeter of the room, one hand already palming one of his hidden guns.
Water, where the hell are you? Their leader demanded.
In the back room behind the stage. Kyuhyun revealed, surprising them all. If the data comes back here, I’m taking it. If that happens, Wood, you keep an eye on Kwon and I’ll take care of any guards who come my way. Earth, you and Eeteuk provide cover while Wind and Fire assist with trapping Kwon. If the data is out of his hands, he’ll either go after the data or his money. I want most eyes on him on the off-chance we can get our evidence.
I am Agent Water, the youngest interrupted Sungmin’s reply. I am just as capable in the field as any of you and I have already taken out five guards. Don’t worry about me.
“You bastard, you broke my wrist!” Mouse spat at Junsu, “I’ll fucking kill you!”
Without hesitation, Junsu slammed his fist right between the other man’s eyes as he smirked, “I’d like to see you try.” As Mouse fell to the ground, his free hand now holding his heavily bleeding nose, Junsu turned back to Taeyeon, “Are you okay?”
Taeyeon immediately pulled Junsu behind her as, with the hand not holding the gun, she pulled a dagger hidden within a nearby seat cushion. She stopped as the blade was now pressing against Mouse’s neck, a scarlet line appearing on his skin. “Are you that fucking stupid?”
“Well, he did choose the name Mouse,” Junsu muttered,
“I’m not talking about him, I’m talking about you. You NEVER turn your back on an enemy!” She snapped,
“I do like my women feisty,” Mouse managed, his voice nasally now as blood continued to drip from both nostrils.
Junsu pulled Taeyeon away from the other man only to shove his palm up against Mouse’s nose. The man screamed as he dropped to the ground again, his free hand cupping his nose as it bled even more profusely than before.
“Will you two stop arguing long enough to fight!?” Youngwoon demanded just as he grabbed one of the guard’s arms and threw him to the ground.
Youngwoon had rushed towards their side once the guards were commanded to attack. He began to fight from behind the onslaught of guards while Eeteuk moved in to protect them. Youngwoon had taken out several guards already with the use of his body alone. He knew that, as long as he did his part, he wouldn’t have to worry about Eeteuk.
The agent had jumped into the fray the moment the guards came rushing towards them. Without even bothering to grab gun or knife, he began to fight. His experience showed as, with well-placed hits, he was easily able to take down guards even twice his size. One guard came charging at him and he punched an uppercut, however, instead of hitting the guard’s jaw, he aimed it into the other man’s abdomen, meaning to strike close to the diaphragm. When one guard grabbed him behind, Eeteuk slammed his foot against the side of the man’s kneecap. The guard crumbled to the ground with a yell of pain, his hands protecting his knee.
“Fire, join me and let Heaven take care of Wind,” Youngwoon commanded once they got the guards’ numbers down to two-thirds of their original number. To synchronize properly, they had given Eeteuk a codename, too.
Junsu moved into place as Eeteuk pulled back from the fight. He moved to Taeyeon’s side immediately as she kept her gun trained on Mouse, her other hand gripping her dagger tightly at the ready.
“You bitch, I’ll enjoy slitting your throat after I enjoy your body!” Mouse still had the temerity to threaten even as his shirt was now stained from his own blood.
“Oh shut up already before I shut you up myself!" Taeyeon snapped. When Mouse opened his mouth to reply, she shot him in the shoulder. “I warned you,” she said with a slight shrug of her shoulders.
“Damn, remind me to never get you angry,” Eeteuk muttered as he quickly revealed his holster wrapped around his abdomen and hidden beneath his own shirt. Knowingly, from the many pockets, he withdrew gauze and a small bottle. He soaked the gauze and pressed it firmly against her gunshot wound. When she hissed, he rolled his eyes, “It’s lidocaine and epinephrine. It doesn’t sting.”
“Pushing on my wound does sting!” She defended.
“This is all I can do for now, the bleeding should stop in a few minutes, or at least slow down. Can you do anything about your wound?” Eeteuk asked as, with his free hand, he pulled free his tie and then tied it around her torso to hold the gauze in place.
“Not with a bullet still in me,” Taeyeon replied. “I’ll finish off this rat.”
“No, we need your hand-to-hand skills,” Youngwoon interjected, still able to converse even as he fought off two guards.
“Should I just kill him off, then?” Taeyeon asked almost nonchalantly,
“NO!” Mouse cried out frantically,
“Remember the creed,” Youngwoon replied, reminding her of the guiding ethos he instilled in their team.
“Never take a life without just cause,” she recalled easily before sighing heavily.
“Sir!” A new man rushed towards Taeyeon and Eeteuk.
When Taeyeon raised her dagger, Eeteuk held up a hand to stall her, “Cobra, what is it?”
“I will take care of this rat,” the man, Cobra, insisted, “so that you and your comrades may fight on.”
“Very well,” Eeteuk replied after a heartbeat’s deliberation. “Do not disappoint me, Cobra.”
“Never, sir!” The man replied, even going so far as to salute him. He grabbed Mouse by underneath the arms and dragged him away from the others.
Eeteuk glanced at Taeyeon as he buttoned up his shirt again to protect his holster. “Let’s finish this.” When they turned back to the fighting, Eeteuk’s eyes narrowed dangerously as he noticed a cut along Youngwoon’s cheek. Letting out a hiss on exhalation, he withdrew two knives, “No one get in my way.”
Taeyeon nodded as she put away her gun, but kept her dagger on hand.
Then, like a whirlwind, Eeteuk jumped into the fray.
“You know, you guys had this coming,” Kyuhyun sighed as he sat on a box, gun on hand after he had tied up the five guards together in a cluster. “I did offer to do this the easy way, but you guys wouldn’t let me.”
From behind the curtain which separated the back room from the stage, the loud clatter of chairs falling to the ground, people fighting and yelling were easily heard. The young man sighed heavily,
“I would really love to be out there right now, but I have to sit here with you guys,” Kyuhyun said forlornly. “While we get to know one another, how about you guys start telling me whether or not the envelope they presented out there holds the real data.”
“And, why should we tell you!?” One of them spat angrily,
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, “I just took down all five of you. Do you really want to get into another fight with me?” When the man grew quiet, Kyuhyun eyed him. He slowly stood up as he tilted his head, regarding the men, “You know, each one of you could have defeated me one-on-one. There were critical moments during each fight where you could have stopped or disabled my attack. Hmm… I’ll have to put more effort next time.” He eyed them, “Now, are you going to tell me if it was the real data or not?”
“Go to hell!” Another guard grounded out,
Kyuhyun sighed heavily as he slowly began to circle the tied group. He pointed to one man, “You’re left-handed which, in a fight would have given you an advantage if your opponent believed you to be right-handed. However, it was very clear which was your dominant side, making it easy to not only evade your attacks, but aim for your weak side, too.”
He took more small, slow steps as he pointed to the next man tied up in the circle. “You trained to fight using a pivot. Used properly, it’s quite an excellent defines while also keeping your dominant side facing your opponent. However, used poorly, as you demonstrated, it limited your moving area and, when you were forced to take steps, made your attacking stilted and awkward.”
Systematically, he went on to the third and fourth man, easily remembering what their weaknesses were. When he came to the fifth and final man, he gave a small, smug smirk.
“And, mine?” The man challenged,
“You? You’re my favourite,” Kyuhyun grinned. “You have some missing toes on your left foot, don’t you?”
The man’s eyes widened, his surprise quite evident.
“Your balance was off. You probably learned how to compensate when you’re walking, but during a fight, balance is different and less stable. If you had learned to compensate properly during a fight, you could have complete control in your movements. Unfortunately, all I saw was a monkey prancing about,” Kyuhyun recalled.
Immediately, Kyuhyun moved behind the men and aimed his gun on the curtain leading to the stage and reception room. The auctioneer appeared, shock infusing his expression when he took in the scene in the back room.
“What’s the meaning of this!?” He demanded,
Kyuhyun snorted, “You know what exactly it means.”
As if on cue, a guard followed the auctioneer into the back room, the manila envelope tucked firmly beneath one arm. The auctioneer snatched the envelope from him, “Take care of this!”
“Now, I’ll give you the same option I gave your men. We can do this the easy way or the hard way,” Kyuhyun stated simply. “In the easy way, you walk out of here alive, your men are safe from any stray bullets and I get what I want. In the hard way, you may walk out of here alive, your men are susceptible to whatever happens in this fight and I still get what I want.”
“The way I see it, either way you’ll end up dead!” The auctioneer sneered, clutching the envelope to his chest,
“You would risk your men’s lives just to kill one person?” Kyuhyun challenged,
“Of course,” the auctioneer replied. “Take care of him!” He repeated as he made a dash towards the exit.
Kyuhyun grounded his teeth together when he felt fire pierce his bicep. He had allowed the bullet to hit so that he could shoot at the auctioneer, his aim true as the bullet burrowed into the other man’s foot. “No one’s going anywhere,” Kyuhyun stated before he took out a second gun with his free hand and adjusted his stance so that he had one gun trained on the auctioneer and another on the guard who had originally been holding the envelope.
“You can’t stop me!” The auctioneer spat as he cringed with each step he took.
Kyuhyun shot the other foot and the auctioneer was forced to his knees from the pain. “I warned you! I gave you a choice but you had to go and choose the hard way!” He exclaimed bitterly.
“I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you and your family and everyone you love!” The auctioneer threatened as he struggled to his feet, blood spilling through the holes made in his shoes from the bullets’ entries.
Kyuhyun’s eyes narrowed angrily at the threat. Anger burning in his chest, he quickly aimed and shot. The other man dropped down to his knees again, his left knee bleeding from the side where the bullet had entered. With the auctioneer practically disabled, Kyuhyun turned his attention to the free guard.
The guard stumbled back a step as one bullet entered his left shoulder, then another bullet entered his right in quick succession. By the time he had regained his balance and retrained his gun, Kyuhyun was already lunging towards him. Kyuhyun hooked his gun beneath the guard’s, shoving its aim high as, with his other hand, he slammed the butt of his gun against the guard’s temple. The blow dazed the other man for just a moment, but it was enough for Kyuhyun to get in close, and jab his forearm against the guard’s Adam’s apple and then his opposite knee into the man’s abdomen.
Kyuhyun immediately spun behind the guard, one arm wrapping around the man’s neck while his other hand pressed the barrel of his gun against the man’s temple. He glared at the auctioneer who, from his place on the ground, held a smoking gun aimed still on him.
“What’s the point of shooting me if you’re going to lose anyway!?” Kyuhyun demanded, his left thigh now burning painfully, the pressure of the bullet burying deep like a hot poker cauterizing the tissue.
“If I die I’ll take you with me!” The auctioneer threatened,
“Then, you risk your guard, too!” Kyuhyun warned,
“Like I give a damn!” The auctioneer punctuated his statement by firing off another shot.
Kyuhyun quickly calculated the projection of the bullet and moved, yanking the guard with him but keeping the man as a shield before him. “Just give me that damn envelope and we can end this!” Kyuhyun growled,
The auctioneer laughed manically in reply, “You little piece of shit! You’re too scared to kill me off!” He laughs hysterically, “You use big words but at the end of the day you don’t have the balls to kill me like I’ll kill you!”
“Don’t you dare try to go against me,” Kyuhyun hissed quietly to the guard he held before him, “If you do you’ll end up wishing that I hadn’t saved you!” With that, he threw the guard to the floor. He turned his attention back towards the auctioneer, both guns now trained on him. “I may not kill you but I’ll enjoy beating the shit out of you,” he smirked as he slowly strode towards the auctioneer.
Kyuhyun paused, suddenly, hearing a sound behind him. He began to turn around.
The familiar, fiery, piercing assault of a bullet stabbed at his head and, then, pain flooded his consciousness as blood flooded down his body. With his last thought, he called out one name.
Eeteuk was like a whirlwind once he was unleashed on the remaining guards. He held both daggers with a reverse hold as he took on one of the two guards now attacking Youngwoon. He made several shallow cuts, enough to burn, to warn. He moved around the guard like a dance, easily evading several punches and kicks as his own slashes landed with scary accuracy. The guard attempted to pull out his gun and Eeteuk immediately stabbed his knife into the man’s forearm. With his other hand, he made a succession of accurate hits: the Adam’s apple, the nose, the eye. Eventually, the guard fell to the ground with a cut around his neck like a red smile.
Without a moment’s hesitation, Eeteuk turned his attention to the guard Youngwoon was fighting. The ex-agent threw the man off of him, sending the guard stumbling backwards towards Eeteuk. Immediately, Eeteuk stepped towards the man and, before the guard could even begin to regain his balance, a knife plunged into his back. The man crumpled to the ground, blood already pooling from the fresh stab wound.
“LOOK OUT!” Eeteuk exclaimed as he lunged towards Youngwoon.
He pulled the younger man behind him with one hand. With the other hand, the knife went slicing in an arch towards another guard that had been trying to sneak up behind Youngwoon. It planted deeply just above the guard’s collarbone. With all the strength he could muster, Eeteuk followed through with his arm movement, pulling the knife through muscle and tissue, slicing up the middle of the man’s neck and then deflecting to the side. The man was dead before he even hit the floor, blood bubbling up from the wicked slice.
Nearby, Junsu and Taeyeon were taking out guards just as easily. Although he was a weapons expert, able to use any weapon he used but not specializing in any, in such close-range combat, he couldn’t use weapons. He had already gotten hit a few times. He ducked beneath another punch and came up close to the assailant, hitting the man’s abdomen and jaw. With a quick swipe of his foot, he tripped the guard and, as the other man was falling, with his other foot, Junsu did a quick kick, catching the man’s temple. He was unconscious when he hit the floor.
Beside him, Taeyeon was holding her own easily. She held her dagger with a reverse hold in her left hand, guarding with it as she punched out with her right hand. A guard punched out at her. She quickly ducked her head to the side, her left hand went upwards, the blade of her dagger slicing across the man’s forearm as he followed through with his motion. Once she was antiparallel from him, she punched with her right hand, her small fist a strong force against the joint of his jaw. She placed her hit precisely, at the correct angle to dislocate the joint. She stepped forward, giving her the space to do a reverse-spin kick, her heel making fierce contact with the guard’s solar plexus. Then, in rapid succession, using the spinning trajectory of her body, she followed up with the other knee, smashing it into the man’s face as he was falling to his knees. He was immobilized on the ground, unable to concentrate beyond the pain in his face.
When they were done, the four of them were surrounded by a ring of immobilized, unconscious or dead guards. The room was practically cleared, the stragglers shoving their way through the doors to escape as they saw the carnage left by the four.
Sungmin. They heard the calm call, the voice of their youngest male slowly pulling them down from the adrenaline rush of the fighting.
Youngwoon stared at Eeteuk with wide eyes, his voice hoarse when he managed to say the other’s codename, “Heaven.”
Eeteuk was beautiful chaos incarnate. He stood there, his daggers still held firmly in both hands as blood covered his body. His hair was matted from blood and dried rivulets of scarlet lined the sides of his face where blood had once ran. His eyes were still narrowed, wild, as if the adrenaline still ran high in his blood, drugging him, keeping him raptured even after the fighting was done. His lean body was free of the tremors of adrenaline’s tempering, even as he breathed heavily still. However, Youngwoon knew his rapid breathing wasn’t from the physical exertion of the fight. No, he had a feeling Eeteuk could still fight for much longer if he had to. Instead, the younger man knew that his breathing was more affected by the emotions now charging through him like a summer storm unleashed.
As if Youngwoon’s voice broke through the unleashed beast, Eeteuk blinked several times as realization entered his cognition. He glanced around him, his expression blank as he took in the corpses he left in his wake. When he looked back at Youngwoon, his dark eyes were tortured even as they narrowed.
“They hurt you,” he said quietly, his voice expressing all the pain and emotion he kept hidden from his face. “I couldn’t allow them to continue to live after such a transgression.”
“Idiot!” Youngwoon hissed as he stepped over a body to get closer to the older man, “Are you okay? Where are you hurt!?”
Eeteuk blinked again, confused. He looked down at his own body as if realizing for the first time that he was more red than anyone else. He gave a slight shrug of his shoulders as he looked back at Youngwoon. “None of this is my blood.”
“What?” Youngwoon gaped,
“I didn’t get hit once,” Eeteuk replied.
Youngwoon let out a quiet, shaky breath as he shook his head in disbelief and relief.
“WIND!” Junsu suddenly cried out.
He and Taeyeon had been checking which guards were still alive. When he was moving on to the next body, he saw a guard raise a gun aimed at her turned back. Without a moment’s doubt, he lunged towards her, his arms wrapping securely around her body as he tried to force them both to the ground and out of the bullet’s path. His raspy yell filled the glass-encased room as pain stabbed him in the back and then blossomed through him with a fiery rampage. When they dropped to the ground, Taeyeon immediately turned beneath Junsu’s body, managing to sit up as she held him in her arms.
“FIRE! FIRE!” She exclaimed as in her mind, she cried out, Junsu! Junsu! As Junsu floated in an out of unconsciousness, she turned her narrowed gaze towards the assailant whom Youngwoon had just disarmed, “BASTARD!” She yelled as, without hesitation, she whipped the dagger still in her hand, planting itself into the man’s eye.
“Too much blood on your hands,” Junsu’s raspy voice pulled her attention back on him,
“Don’t you dare die on me!” She threatened as hot tears filled her eyes. For so long she had believed she would never see him again, however she was able to survive those years of separation on the thought that, although he wasn’t with her, then, at least, he was alive. If he died, she would not be able to live without him again. “Do you hear me!? If you die now, I’ll never forgive you! I’ll hate you forever!”
Through the pain wrapping around him, pulling him, tempting him back to unconsciousness, Junsu felt the slide of her hand slowly going down his back. “Don’t!” His reprimand was sharp yet quiet, “You can’t heal with the bullet there.”
“But, your pain -”
“If you take on my pain, then I will never forgive you,” Junsu replied. “I’ll be fine,” he insisted, even as it grew more difficult to keep his eyes open and even though he could no longer wiggle his toes and a horrifying, tingling sensation was slowly spreading up his legs.
I NEED HELP! Sungmin’s yell echoed through their heads.
Eeteuk and I are coming. Youngwoon replied immediately,
NO! I NEED TAEYEON! He replied, desperation and anxiety evident even through telepathy.
Taeyeon looked up at their leader, obviously torn between what to do. She heard as easily as the others how much Sungmin needed her help and she felt her own anxiety and concern skyrocketing at the eerie silence from their youngest male. However, her heart was beating a rapid, painful tattoo and she couldn’t help the dread of leaving Junsu’s side spreading through her mind like spilt, black ink on a white canvas.
“Go,” Junsu insisted as he repeated, “I’ll be fine.”
“I’ll stay with him,” Youngwoon insisted, “Eeteuk will be of more help than me if Kyuhyun’s injured.”
With shaking hands, Taeyeon eased Junsu to lying on the ground as Youngwoon knelt down beside her. Before her trepidation could set in, Taeyeon suddenly bolted for the stage and the back room, knowing that if she stayed even half a heartbeat longer, she would never be able to leave Junsu’s side. All the while, he whispered reassurances and endearments into her mind, flooding her with warmth and affection.
When they were alone amongst the fallen guards, Youngwoon sat down beside Junsu as he pulled out two guns and trained them on the guards who were still alive.
“Tell me the truth,” Youngwoon said quietly, his eyes sweeping over the guards before glancing at the younger man, “How badly are you injured?”
Junsu swallowed hard as he barely managed to force his eyes open to look up at the man who was friend, teammate, leader and, more recently, brother. He gave him a small, rueful smile as he admitted quietly, “I’m scared, Youngwoon.”
Youngwoon gave a small nod, fighting back the emotions now battering against his resolve as the adrenaline seeped from his system. He swallowed as his throat seemed to swell with emotions and the tears he fought. He grabbed the younger man’s shoulder and squeezed it comfortingly.
“I’ll stay with you,” he promised. “I’ll stay with you.”
When the fighting began, Sungmin kept to his corner, allowing himself to oversee all that happened. Although he was an ex-agent skilled in combat, being a sniper shooter was and always would be his specialty, a large part of him. He preferred long-range where he could use his skill and eagle-like sight. He kept his gaze locked on Kwon who had remained in his chair when the fighting and exodus began, his guards standing on either side of him, wary expressions on their faces.
His gaze flicked towards the stage where the auctioneer and guard stood conversing, overseeing the chaos within the reception room. The moment that the auctioneer turned towards the curtain hiding the entryway into the back room, Sungmin called out to Kyuhyun,
His hand gripped the gun he withdrew from its hidden holster as the guard who supposedly held the leaked data from the NIB followed the auctioneer into the back room. He was tempted sorely to follow, however, he knew his task was to keep an eye on Kwon and he knew Kyuhyun could protect himself. He banked everything on Kyuhyun calling out for help if he needed it.
He turned his attention back to Kwon who was now standing between his guards. Even from his distance, he could tell that the man was arguing with the guards. The muscles in his hands itched, as if tempted to just raise his gun and take them out. How he craved the feel of steel pressed against his cheek as he aimed through the scope of his gun. He craved the familiar weight of the sniper rifle in his hands, the fit perfect as if it had been made specifically for him. It would be easy to take out all three men with or without his sniper rifle.
Even through the fighting, no guns had been used yet. It had been easy for the noise to permeate from the back room and viciously pull Sungmin from his deadly thoughts.
WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED!? Sungmin demanded as he gripped his gun tighter, the urge to run back and help Kyuhyun mounting higher and higher. Kyuhyun didn’t reply and he began to balance on the balls of his feet like a predator waiting to pounce.
Knowing now that Kyuhyun would not answer him and not wanting to divide the younger man’s attention, Sungmin swore softly as he struggled to remain in the reception room, idle as he kept Kwon under surveillance. When Kwon’s guards abruptly left him, abandoning him in the middle of the mayhem, Sungmin went on alert even more. He saw Kwon survey the room, calculating his possible escape routes. Then, in his observations, Kwon stopped when he found Sungmin. Even from their distances, their gazes locked and, as if he had the instincts of a prey when it realizes a predator has it in its sights, Kwon knew he was cornered if he didn’t escape right then and there.
Kwon turned and ran, shoving the few upright chairs out of his way as he made a beeline to the stage and straight on to the back room where the auctioneer, guard and the data had left just moments ago.
Running on pure instinct, Sungmin made chase. He took the safety off his gun and cocked it as he easily made his way over upturned chairs, his training in his backyard forest paying off as he moved with deadly grace. He was closing in on Kwon quickly, but not fast enough as the other man disappeared through the curtain on the stage. The moment his foot hit the stage, he heard the report of another gun firing from the back room. Just before he bolted through the thick velvet curtain, one soft, calm voice whispered through the onslaught of chaos beating through his mind like the wings of a desperately dying butterfly.
When Sungmin burst into the back room, his gun was at the ready, but all it took was the sight of Kyuhyun lying on the ground with a pool of blood spreading beneath him to unleash the agent he had once been. Calculating, skilled, Sungmin had been deadly, never hesitating to decide whether or not to kill or be killed. He risked no lives other than his own and he never chanced the lives of his comrades. However, when the killer agent within was reawakened, he did not just want to kill Kwon - the person Sungmin calculated to have been the one to deliver such a deadly shot - he also wanted him to suffer first.
“KWON!” Sungmin yelled as he attacked the other man from behind, grabbing his head and forcefully shoving him down to the ground.
As Kwon fell, Sungmin kneed him in the abdomen. Kwon landed on the floor gasping for air as he tried to crawl away. Sungmin, however, didn’t give him even the luxury of a semblance of escape. With the toe of his shoe, he kicked Kwon, forcing him to roll onto his back and he immediately dropped down on Kwon, straddling his abdomen. With rapidly firing fists, he pummelled punch after punch at the other man’s face. Blood began to splatter onto his fists and clothes as Sungmin broke Kwon’s nose once, then, twice.
Kwon’s attempts to plead for the other man to stop, to cry for help, were all stopped as he found himself struggling to not choke on his own blood flowing down into his throat from his broken nose. He tried to hit the other man, tried to shove him off, but the hits continued to rain down on him and all he knew was pain.
Sungmin hit without calculated purpose. He didn’t aim his punches to make particular injuries. Instead, he punched with all his strength, the only purpose was to make Kwon suffer. Even through the pandemonium of emotions and thoughts rumbling through his mind, everything tainted with ferocious, prevailing anger, Sungmin was still completely aware of his surroundings. He knew exactly where a group of guards were tied up. He knew that another guard was standing idly to the side, unsure of what to do as blood pooled in different parts of the room. He was also aware of the soft click of a gun cocking.
Without skipping a beat, Sungmin took up his gun again and with rapid precision shot the auctioneer who was attempting to aim at him. The man fell to the ground, a bullet planted accurately between his eyes, the manila envelope rolling to the ground from his now lax arm. He swung his gun then to aim at the guard who had been standing to the side, having heard the guard take a step.
The guard immediately held both hands up, “I wasn’t going to do anything to you,” the man insisted, “I thought you should attend to your buddy first before killing off this guy, too.”
Having allowed his anger to reign, to distract him from the true horror, the real reason fear was gripping his heart within its icy clutches, Sungmin slowly stood and approached the younger man with trepidation. When he towered over him, his heart twisted at the sight of his body pronated on the floor. He dropped to his knees beside Kyuhyun immediately, blood pouring profusely from the side of his head.
I NEED HELP! Sungmin yelled to the others as he put down his gun and reached for the younger man, his hands trembling as he gently rolled the man to his back, cradling Kyuhyun’s head in his lap.
Eeteuk and I are coming. Youngwoon replied immediately,
NO! I NEED TAEYEON! Sungmin argued as he ripped off his jacket, rolled it into a ball and pressed it firmly to where he guessed Kyuhyun’s wound was; there was so much blood he couldn’t tell its exact location.
Kyuhyun! KYUHYUN! KYUHYUN! He yelled over and over through their private mental pathway, but, no matter what, Kyuhyun didn’t respond. He found it harder to breathe when he saw how shallowly and how slow the younger man breathed. He clutched him firmly to him, uncaring of how weak he appeared or how vulnerable a position he was in being in the centre of so many potential enemies.
“WHAT THE HELL!?” Taeyeon exclaimed as she suddenly came running in. She dropped to the floor on her knees on the other side of Kyuhyun as she moved Sungmin’s jacket to assess the damage herself. “HEAVEN!” She called out just as Eeteuk appeared. She looked up at Sungmin, her heart seizing at the sight of complete defeat in the man’s face. “I… I need you to provide us with cover. I… Please… give me room to work.”
She knew she was asking a lot from him, knew that if their places had been reversed, she would fight with everything she had to remain beside her beloved as he lay dying. She was having enough trouble as it was to concentrate while worry for Junsu and Kyuhyun warred within her.
Sungmin moved just enough so that Kyuhyun’s head was no longer on his lap, but now lying on the ground. However, that was all the space he would give them, all the space he could afford to have separating him from Kyuhyun. One hand gripped his jacket still wrapped in a ball and now soaked with the younger man’s blood. The other hand was a vice around Kyuhyun’s closest wrist as if he could physically keep the man’s life attached to his own.
As the pair began to work to save what little life Kyuhyun had left, Sungmin kept his eyes glued to Kyuhyun. However, in his periphery, he saw a blaze of scarlet. Startled, he looked down at his shirt, blood now stained over his heart. He had sustained no injuries and realized then that, at some point as he held Kyuhyun against him, some of the younger man’s blood had made contact with his shirt. Sungmin felt his lungs and heart stop as cold realization flooded him, his dream suddenly making complete sense.
His dream had not predicted his death.
It had predicted Kyuhyun’s.
(Chapter 16: Go Home)
Pronate = to turn into a prone position (e.g. downward, face down, facing the ground, etc).
It is more commonly used in relation to the direction in which a limb or joint moves, but it can also mean an entire body (in that sense, it would be the body is face-down). The opposite direction would be supinate/supination (e.g. upward, face up, facing the sky, etc). A key way to remember this is if you were to hold soup in your hands, you would need to supinate them.