(Epilogue of the Living in Shadows series)
“Water! What’s the status?”
Dressed in a black suit with a white shirt, his tie a bright blue and his wavy hair slicked back from his forehead, he sat in the back corner of a small room watching the activity with distant interest. He sat back in his cushioned chair, one knee crossed over the other, idly counting the minutes on the clock on the wall until everything would begin. Even when he felt the familiar vibration of his cellular phone in his pocket, he clipped on his earpiece with leisure before answering the call.
“Now would be a really good time to for you guys to come and do some B-and-E, Wood,” Kyuhyun replied with a quiet drawl, making himself unnoticeable as possible under the circumstances.
“We’re nearing the parking lot right now,” Sungmin replied,
“Why didn’t you just use the other way to call me?” Kyuhyun inquired lightly as he suddenly became more alert when he saw a door on the other side of the room open and a number of people rushed towards it.
“Because it’s a little difficult to keep Fire out of trouble while getting him here for the correct ETA and coming up with a plan of getting in there safely without being detect. I’m not going to add another stressor on top of that. With my luck, I’ll end up tipping off Wind and then we’ll all get into trouble,” Sungmin replied,
Kyuhyun scoffed, “I won’t get in trouble and neither will Earth. It’s you and Fire who would get in trouble. Fortunately for you, he’ll be in more trouble than you.”
“I wouldn’t count on it,” Junsu’s raspy voice came over the phone, having taken it from the other man, “She can be pretty protective towards me. She might see it as Wood’s fault that the mission didn’t go as smoothly planned as it could have been.”
“Call this a mission one more time and she might not be feeling that protective to you,” Kyuhyun stated drily. Abruptly, he stood from his chair as the flurry of people in the room seemed to part and Taeyeon walked towards him. “Hey, Fire. Give the phone back to Wood.”
“What’s wrong?” Sungmin asked, coming back on the phone,
“Nothing. I just didn’t want him to hear me say how fucking beautiful Wind looks right now,” Kyuhyun replied. “I’ll see you guys in T minus 15 minutes.”
“Water out,” Kyuhyun murmured just before ending the call, sliding the earpiece from his ear and pocketing the gadget.
“You’re looking at me weird, Kyuhyun,” Taeyeon said as she tentatively approached him. “I look weird, don’t I?”
“Not in the least and, even if you did I wouldn’t say anything because you’d kick my ass if I did,” Kyuhyun stated solemnly before he offered a soft smile. “No, Taeyeon, you look absolutely beautiful.”
She stood before him in a dress of pristine, white silk. Delicate white lace decorated the entire dress from its sleeveless neckline all the way down to the hem which brushed the floor, tiny pearls threaded throughout the lace. The dress itself hugged her bust and waist, conforming to the gentle slope of her hips before falling straight to the ground. She had a short-length bolero made entirely of lace which fit snugly around her slight shoulders and down her slender arms to just past her elbows. Her fringe gently swept over her forehead, a stark contrast against her pale, smooth skin. Secured just behind her fringe was a diamond-decorated comb, holding a white veil made of silk tulle which, at that moment, flowed over her hair and down her back like a wispy cloud. Her hair was simply styled in gentle waves, the long locks curling at the ends as they reached to mid-back.
“If things had been different I would steal you away right now and marry you myself,” Kyuhyun grinned as he leaned down and gave her an affectionate kiss on the cheek,
“Ah, but you have Sungmin,” she murmured as she took his hand and squeezed it,
“Indeed, I do,” he replied, his tone content and satisfied as his lip curled into a slight, soft smirk.
“And, I do have Junsu,” she reminded,
Kyuhyun gave a one-shouldered shrug, “That’s easily corrected.” He paused and, then, narrowed his gaze on her, tugging her a little closer, “You just told him everything I said, didn’t you!?”
Taeyeon grinned, “Not on purpose. He’s just, always in my head and sometimes I forget to kick him out.” She patted his arm with her free hand, “If it helps, I think you’re getting much better at hand-to-hand combat.”
“Even if he does come at me, it’s not like I can do anything. I can be an annoying bastard, but I’m not just a bastard; I can’t hit a person in a wheelchair,” Kyuhyun said firmly, “I’m not that mean!”
“Come on you two. We should be standing outside of the chapel by now!” Taeyeon’s stepmother approached, lightly chastising them.
“We have 10 minutes before the ceremony starts,” Taeyeon defended,
“Nonsense. You’ll need those 10 minutes to compose yourself!” Her stepmother replied, handing a small bundle of white silk and blue ribbons to Kyuhyun.
“Compose myself for what? I’ve been with Junsu for years,” she reminded,
“There was 2 years separation,” her stepmother reminded,
“But, collectively, there’s still 3 years we were together,” Taeyeon countered,
Her stepmother sighed with mock-exasperation as she put her hands on her hips, “At least try to act like a normal bride, Taeyeon.”
“Normal bride? There’s nothing normal about me or Junsu or our relationship,” Taeyeon stated before smiling brightly.
“At least pretend to have cold feet. I feel like I have nothing to do because you’re not panicking!”
“Once again, I ask what should I be panicking about? For goodness’ sake, we have a 4-year-old son,” Taeyeon said dryly.
“Fine, fine. Just don’t be late for the ceremony!” Her stepmother warned. She suddenly turned on Kyuhyun, eyes narrowed, “And, you!”
“Ma’am?” Kyuhyun blinked, startled at the abrupt attention sent his way,
“If you drop my granddaughter, you’ll answer to me, young man! You think my daughter is dangerous, but you’ve never seen the likes of me!” With grand flourish, Taeyeon’s stepmother left the back room where she had been preparing for the ceremony.
Kyuhyun stared at the door where Taeyeon’s stepmother had gone through before looking down at the little baby girl now lying securely in the crook of his arm. She was dressed in a small dress of white silk and blue ribbons the colour of crushed sapphires. She was small, almost lost in the puffy skirt of the dress as her little chubby hands were gently tugging at his matching blue tie.
“You did this on purpose, didn’t you?” Kyuhyun looked up at Taeyeon who was looking at herself in a full-length mirror, adjusting her bolero.
Taeyeon looked at him in the reflection of the mirror. She slanted him a look, “If I did, she would have been born after Junsu and I were married.”
Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, “Not Sooyeon. I mean how she’s your flower girl and dressed in blue. She’s your something new and your something blue.”
“Trust me, Kyuhyun, if I had thought of that over a year ago, I would have become a tactician like you,” she replied as she finally turned towards him. “I never planned to have a flower girl, but, then, Sooyeon was an unplanned miracle.”
Kyuhyun’s eyes widened when he saw her eyes brighten with a sudden flood of tears, “No crying! I can’t deal with crying females! There’s a reason why I’m with a man!”
Taeyeon laughed lightly as she gently dabbed at the underside of her eyes with a tissue, “Okay, okay. Then, let’s head over to the chapel so I can get married to my man.”
Waiting outside the main double doors which led into the chapel proper was Youngwoon. Unlike Kyuhyun who wore a blue tie with his black suit to match the wedding colours, Youngwoon wore a suit and shirt combination of all black, his white tie a sharp contrast. His expression immediately warmed when he saw them approach, even leaning down to brush a kiss against Sooyeon’s head.
“You look beautiful,” Youngwoon stated as he kissed Taeyeon, too, on the forehead. “And, Junsu would be totally jealous if he saw how the three of you look like a little family.” His eyes immediately narrowed on the younger man, “Don’t you dare say anything to him!”
“Why do you all assume I’m this snarky jerk?”
“Because you are!” Youngwoon and Taeyeon snapped in unison.
Kyuhyun sighed heavily as he looked down at the little girl in his arms, “Do you see how they treat me Sooyeon? You’re my only ally.”
“Go stand in front of us. When the music starts the doors will open,” Youngwoon instructed.
“Once a leader, always a leader,” Kyuhyun snorted as he took up a spot between them and the double doors leading into the chapel.
As if on cue, a soft melody could be heard barely penetrating the heavy wooden doors. They opened outwards from within the chapel proper and Kyuhyun, carrying Sooyeon slowly began to walk down the aisle towards the front.
As they waited for Kyuhyun to get half-way down the aisle, Taeyeon gently squeezed Youngwoon’s arm where her hand was tucked as her other hand held her small bouquet of blue hydrangea and baby’s breath.
“What? Asking for one last exit? I guess I did promise you one of those 2 years ago in Vegas, huh?” Youngwoon lightly joked,
“No, I promised Junsu no more running and the only running I want to do is towards him,” she replied softly. “I just wanted to thank you again for standing in for my dad.”
“Don’t… don’t mention it,” he replied just as quietly.
When she looked up at him, she gently nudged him in the ribs with her elbow, “Don’t let Kyuhyun see you cry. He’ll never let you live it down.”
“In this case, for this reason, I’ll let him,” Youngwoon said as he reached over with his other hand and placed it over her hand on his arm.
No more was said when they saw Kyuhyun pass the mid-way point in the aisle and, together, Youngwoon began to escort Taeyeon down the aisle. The chapel was the same one where she would go to when she was an agent and, later, when she would meet her stepmother and son. It was decorated simply, classically, with bows of blue and white cloth on the end of the pews and large bouquets of flowers around the chapel. The music was simple, made of a pianist and flutist duo, the acoustics of the stone walls allowing for the music to swell in the air and surround each individual.
Only the first three pews of each side had people, the wedding small and intimate. Other than her stepmother, neither the bride or groom had family outside of their original team. The few co-workers that either had come to call as friends attended, either alone or with their significant other, smiling and supporting the nuptials.
In the front row to the left was Taeyeon’s stepmother, tears filling her eyes as she watched Taeyeon and accepted Sooyeon from Kyuhyun. Beside her stepmother was Eeteuk dressed in a suit more formal than the ones he previously wore everyday to work. His hand was securely holding on to little Junho who stood on the pew to see better, dressed in a little black suit. It was fortunate that the rings were secured to a pillow with ribbon because Junho was waving the pillow at her in delight. Although he was the ring bearer, he had gone down the aisle earlier by his father’s side.
The front row of the right side was empty. Although Youngwoon was standing in for Taeyeon’s deceased father, he would also represent the only family Junsu had ever known. At the front to the right stood Sungmin, similarly dressed to Kyuhyun with a black suit and blue tie. Unlike a year before, his hair was the same length all over and kept only a few inches long compared to before when it reached his jaw.
As they walked closer to the front, Taeyeon’s attention was immediately drawn towards Junsu. Even sitting in his wheelchair, he sat up straight and tall, his gaze unwavering even across the distance between them. He wore a 3-piece suit, the pants and jacket an inky black while the vest and his tie were a brilliant blue against the white of his shirt. He sat there with pride in every inch of his body and love in his eyes.
When they reached the front, Youngwoon gave Taeyeon a small embrace before placing her hand in Junsu’s outstretched one. Then, Youngwoon went and stood before the empty pew on the right. Kyuhyun, who stood as Taeyeon’s maid of honour, took her bouquet as she turned towards Junsu. Junsu brought her hand to his lips and with her free hand, she lovingly caressed the side of his face. As one, they turned and faced the priest.
“You are aware we’re never going to let you live it down,” Kyuhyun teased as he turned his back to the railing and propped his elbows back on it. His hair was no longer perfectly slicked back, his tie was just a ribbon of blue hanging around his neck and his shirt was untucked from his pants.
He and the other men of their former team sat out on the balcony terrace of the restaurant where the wedding reception had been held. Since the wedding was small, the couple had opted out of renting a great hall and having a banquet, deciding on an intimate dinner amongst their friends and family instead. The moment the other guests left, the four men had escaped to the balcony to unwind. The balcony gave a beautiful view of Seoul, its night life lighting up the darkness like man-made stars and flickering candles.
“At least I didn’t let Youngwoon and Eeteuk sneak up on me when we first regrouped 2 years ago,” Junsu defended lightly as he sat back in his wheelchair, a balloon of red wine loosely cradled in one hand. At some point during the dinner he had abandoned the jacket of his suit and now just had the blue vest on, his tie gone now, too.
“Whatever, yours is still worse, Junsu,” Kyuhyun snickered only to get a smack behind the head by Sungmin who had been standing beside him. “Hey! What was that for!?”
“Be nice,” Sungmin warned as he pulled up a chair and sat down, crossing one knee over the other as he held a glass of water.
“You’re supposed to be on my side!” Kyuhyun growled softly,
“And, I am. Youngwoon asked me to hit you since I was standing closer,” Sungmin insisted innocently.
“Come on, Kyuhyun,” Youngwoon said from his chair beside Junsu’s, “It’s his wedding day. Leave him alone for at least today.”
The youngest rolled his eyes, “I have left him alone all day. I should be canonized for how good I’ve been all day. Besides, didn’t I help you guys hide the fact that Junsu was almost late to his own wedding?”
“She knew,” Junsu sighed heavily just as Taeyeon announced, “I knew” as she came out onto the terrace.
“Sooyeon’s done feeding, I thought you’d want to say goodbye before my mom takes her home,” Taeyeon said as she laid the tiny bundle in his arms. Halfway through the reception, she had changed her daughter from her dress to a more comfortable cotton one-piece.
“You guys should have a real honeymoon instead of just staying at a hotel overnight,” Youngwoon said as Junsu turned his complete attention to his daughter,
“Sooyeon’s barely 4-months old and still breastfeeding, so I can’t be too far since I’m her food source,” Taeyeon replied,
“Taeyeon! Too. Much. Information!” Kyuhyun exclaimed,
It was her turn to roll her eyes as Junsu handed their daughter back to her, “Stop being such a drama queen. You’ve been such a prude ever since you walked in on me feeding her.” She threw him a mischievous grin before slipping back into the restaurant with her daughter.
“When did you see her!?” Junsu demanded, straightening in his chair as Sungmin kicked the youngest’s shin.
“What the hell, Youngwoon!” Kyuhyun glared at their former leader,
“That was all from me,” Sungmin snapped. “You never told me that happened!”
“What the hell,” Kyuhyun sighed exasperatedly as he silently vowed revenge against Taeyeon for bringing such drama down upon him. “I’m not even going to deem this worthy enough to heed.”
“Youngwoon,” Taeyeon said as she came back out onto the terrace, this time without her daughter, “Thank you again for the flowers. And, please thank Eeteuk for us as well.”
Youngwoon raised his glass of wine in salute, “You’re welcome and will do.”
“He seems to be adjusting quite well to life outside of the NIB,” Taeyeon mused as she let Junsu pull her onto his lap.
“He’s been out for the past year and it’s been the year from hell,” Youngwoon murmured as he brought his glass to his lips. “Now that he’s no longer an agent, he has all this unspent energy and he’s focused all his attention on me now.”
“Isn’t that a good thing?” Sungmin asked,
“He’s stealing my job!” Youngwoon exclaimed before sighing softly, “He does help me with the store, though and he always manages to find the best flowers and get the best deals. I think he’s building a network of contacts within the horticultural communities of Korea.”
“That sounds kind of lame,” Kyuhyun stated bluntly,
“It’s fucking scary,” Youngwoon snapped. “He’s so damn efficient at everything and he just knows everything. I swear, if I ever decide to plan a surprise party for him, he’ll know before I’ve even told another person!” He shook his head ruefully, “If he gets even just one consultation request a month from The Sector, then I won’t go crazy watching him steal my shop from right under me.”
“Are you two ever going to get married?” Taeyeon asked,
“Taeyeon!” Youngwoon gaped,
“What? You two have been together for 7 years now. I know it’s not legal here, but you could always have just a ceremony. Or, fly off to New Zealand and get married there,” Taeyeon replied,
“Are you trying to get me killed? Me? Tied to that lunatic for the rest of my life?” He questioned incredulously,
She slanted him a look, “You love that lunatic.”
Youngwoon abruptly grinned then, taking a slow sip of his wine. “That, I do.” He leaned back in his chair and turned his face up to the night sky, “Don’t worry, I’m sure Eeteuk has something to that effect up his sleeve. He just hasn’t said or done anything so he wouldn’t steal your thunder. Please pretend you didn’t have any idea of it when it’s announced. It’s hard enough for me to pretend like I don’t know what he’s up to. He’s quite proud of his skills, I’d hate to take him down a notch.” He turned a narrowed gazed to the youngest man, “This means you specifically, Kyuhyun!”
“Yeah, yeah,” he waved away the eldest’s words. He slowly turned his face towards Sungmin, “Don’t get any ideas.”
“Why the hell would I want to commit myself to you for the rest of my life?” Sungmin snorted before taking a long swig of his water.
“Because you harboured a secret love for him since the moment he joined our team,” Taeyeon stated,
“Because you’re so possessive of him you returned to The Sector,” Junsu added,
“Because you stalked him during the years of separation after the summer camp mission,” Youngwoon revealed.
Kyuhyun merely raised a brow, his lips quirked in a smug smirk.
“I did not returned to The Sector to be with Kyuhyun. First of all, we’re in different departments. Second of all, I went back to make sure your new wife doesn’t kill off the trainees through her practice regimes,” Sungmin defended as he put his empty glass on a nearby table and loosely crossed his arms about his torso.
Junsu snorted, “You’re just as bad as her. I’m not even in the training department but all the other desk agents tell me how you’re both known as the Demon Teachers.”
Sungmin shared a look with Taeyeon and they laughed, the others shortly joining in.
“Hey guys,” Youngwoon said, “Did you guys ever think that we’d ever get to this point? That we would be who we are today?”
“I always hoped,” Taeyeon admitted as she leaned her side against Junsu’s torso, his arms wrapping around her securely, “But, no, I, too, didn’t think we’d ever get here.”
“The bonds we’ve formed over the years and, especially during our time working on that last case - I couldn’t have ever anticipated such a thing,” Junsu said.
“I wouldn’t have guessed it at all,” Kyuhyun added, “Hell, I was so far removed from our former lives that I ended up teaching those high school brats for two years.”
Sungmin held out his hand and Kyuhyun dutifully placed his hand in the other’s, allowing the older man to tug him away from the railing and to his side. “I knew,” Sungmin stated solemnly. After several mutters of disbelief from the others, he chuckled softly, “I had a premonition that something good… something great would happen and, I believed it wasn’t just meant for me alone. It wasn’t until I had a vision of Kyuhyun, Youngwoon and Eeteuk showing up at my front gates did I suddenly understand what that premonition meant.”
As one, they all looked out at the city, the colourful lights of night life against the backdrop of a velvety black sky. For years they had dedicated themselves to protect a country and a people unknowing of their efforts. A thankless job. A life in shadows meant to be lived alone.
None of them were alone ever again.