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Thursday rolled around quickly enough and Ryeowook was spotted on O’Hare International Airport slightly after eleven in the morning. Technically, Ryeowook had flown from D.C directly to Chicago, but if anyone looked into it, they wouldn’t be able to find him on that plane, or on-camera footage for that matter. They would see that Ryeowook had flown in from Copenhagen, Denmark, to Houston and then the final destination in Chicago. Morris had wanted it to say Paris instead of Denmark’s capital, but Ryeowook had insisted that it had to be a capital but from a smaller European country to really sell the art thief in hiding cover. It had to look probable because Ryeowook was certain Kyuhyun would look it up if he didn’t immediately kill him.

Walker, Morris and the rest of the team had done nicely setting things up to Ryeowook’s liking and expectations. The apartment was above middle class and smelled of riches as Ryeowook expected from an uncaught art thief with high standards. Park Ryeowook had, even if he hadn’t grown up rich, grown accustomed to an expensive lifestyle. Ryeowook’s apartment wasn’t nearly as nice as what he expected of Cho Kyuhyun or Leeteuk, but it didn’t need to. All his apartment had to do was serve a message to Cho Kyuhyun. That he was independent and didn’t need Cho Kyuhyun. Ryeowook couldn’t seem like he wanted Kyuhyun too much, and the fact that he was economically stable meant he didn’t need Kyuhyun’s income. Besides, Kyuhyun would never treat Ryeowook as an equal if Ryeowook was dependent on him. No, Ryeowook needed a place of his own to live, not only that but a nice place. Somewhere Ryeowook would be willing to stay for long periods of time, a reminder for the mobster that Ryeowook had other options, and the agent wouldn’t hesitate to choose from those.

The apartment was larger than his own D.C apartment, and nicer too. It wasn’t exactly downtown Chicago, but he wasn’t really far from the city centre either, not more than a twenty-minute walk, but Ryeowook would probably drive most of the time. It wasn’t exactly a penthouse apartment, but it was high up enough to give Ryeowook a beautiful view over Chicago, especially with the large windows. Although, the apartment came with a receptionist and a private elevator, which came in handy to stop unwarranted guests. However, Ryeowook doubted that was enough to keep out Leeteuk and his gang if things really came down to it. The black-haired male didn’t spend much time packing out and settling in, there would be plenty of time for that later. After all, he had a brand-new wardrobe to unpack, a quite expensive one too. Clark had argued that shopping hadn’t been necessary, but Ryeowook had claimed it was a valuable use of FBI’s resources and had in the end won out the argument. Either because Clark got tired or because he saw where Ryeowook was coming from.

Park Ryeowook was a complicated persona, he enjoyed a luxurious lifestyle with expensive clothes, food, and surroundings. He liked to flex his riches, but usually in a more subtle way to go unnoticed by the crowd. Instead of, vocally spelling out that he had money Park Ryeowook liked to do it visually. You could look once at Park Ryeowook and know he had money if you were smart enough to notice. Because Park Ryeowook was an art thief and gay he cared a lot about his personal fashion. Thus, owning expensive clothes – more expensive than what Ryeowook could afford with his own salary – was a personal fashion choice but also in a way to keep character.

He had to be noticed by Cho Kyuhyun on ‘accident’, which meant Ryeowook had to steal the painting, which again meant he had to get the job in the first place, and he couldn’t have the job if he wasn’t offered it. With that settled, Ryeowook got changed before he headed outside. His clothes consisted of beige, high-waisted suit pants, a white turtleneck tucked into the pants with a black Gucci belt holding the pants up. The black-haired male carefully chose a beige trench coat that matched his pants in colour and put on some completely white Adidas sneakers. Checking his appearance in the large mirror in the hallway the black-haired nodded to himself before he pressed the button for the elevator.

According to the intel from Walker and Morris one of his old contacts Raymond Carter was in town and had been ever since Seattle, which really didn’t come as a surprise, Ryeowook had known back then that Carter had several bases across the country and if one was taken down, he fled to the next one like the coward he was. However, Carter was like most people who survived long enough to make good money off this kind of business, old to the game. Because of his endless bases, his network was huge, and he knew just about anybody. If anyone could hook Ryeowook up with a huge heist like this one it was Raymond Carter. And if there was anyone who could manage to pull off such a heist it would be Park Ryeowook. Ryeowook was quite confident in his abilities to pull it off. However, he wasn’t equally as confident in surviving his first meeting with Kyuhyun. If he somehow made it and piqued Kyuhyun’s interest he was quite sure things would run rather smoothly, but for things to run smoothly he would have to get out of it alive.

The intel Ryeowook received was precise enough, Carter frequented a café a few blocks away from his apartment complex, so naturally, Ryeowook decided to head over there. In hopes of coincidently running into the older man. Ryeowook made sure to bring a book, so he would seem like he to had just decided to swing by a café instead of waiting for the said man. Luckily, Kim Ryeowook and Park Ryeowook had similar taste in literature so the black-haired male would not be completely bored to death. One of his more recent covers had enjoyed reading Donald Duck comics which had grown quite tiresome after the first three comic books.

The café was quite cosy, it wasn’t too large to feel like commercial, but not too small either making it feel cramped and that the employees were watching your every move. The feel to it was vintage, and there were several plants thrown around to make it feel homey and spring some life in the otherwise bleak café. It was nice, but Ryeowook couldn’t find himself frequenting the place either as Kim Ryeowook or Park Ryeowook. However, the café was good enough for Park Ryeowook’s standards, not as an ideal eating place, but good enough for some ice caramel latte as he was sipping now while reading Hard Times by Charles Dickens. It was a shame really, how Ryeowook had more time for reading books when he was working undercover than when he was not. His brown eyes eyed the large grandfather clock exhibited in the café, which he had cleverly sat in position to view with ease, Carter would usually show up in about ten minutes. At least, the intel from the files stated as much. Ryeowook wondered slightly how long they’d tailed Carter, and if he had noticed that he was tailed, but he brushed it off quickly.

First of all, the FBI was professionals, they knew how to tail someone and how to go unnoticed. It was child’s play, especially if one-tailed someone like Raymond Carter because he wasn’t expecting being tailed unlike more observant criminals like Cho Kyuhyun. Second of all, Carter was incredibly paranoid, if he got the slightest whiff off law enforcement chasing him, he’d disappear. That’s how he survived Seattle without a scratch. If Carter was still in town, it meant he was clueless about being trailed. Carter wasn’t exactly the type of man to lay his trust in other’s hands, even if Carter had powerful friends, he knew most would sell him out to save their own skin. Carter had given him a piece of advice three years ago, and Ryeowook could still recall it.

“At the end of the day kid, you can’t trust anybody but yourself. Got that? Every man is for himself when it comes down to it. Sure, some say they are a family and have each other’s back, but if you expose your back to someone for too long, they’ll stab you from behind.”

Now, Ryeowook wasn’t dumb enough to think that mobsters had his back. He’d seen multiple betrayals up close, and they all served as efficient reminders that these people would sell him out for the right price. Ryeowook didn’t trust mobsters, especially since if they knew who he actually they wouldn’t hesitate to put a bullet in his head. Carter was right about not trusting anyone, Ryeowook wasn’t actually dumb enough to do so, but the reminder was nice. He reverted back to his book and read a paragraph before he took a sip of his coffee, it was a bit too sweet, but Ryeowook would endure. It was all the more reason for Park Ryeowook to never revisit the corner café. Kim and Park Ryeowook had after all quite parallel standards for their coffee, maybe one of the reasons why Park Ryeowook was Ryeowook’s favourite cover. They were alike, so the cover had always been easy. That, and Ryeowook had spent so much time tailoring the cover that he knew just about everything about the cover. It was, after all, Ryeowook’s cover, which had been successful, and Ryeowook held it close to his heart. Ryeowook just about to turn the page when a booming voice echoed through the café.

“Park Ryeowook, what a sight!” Carter exclaimed, and Ryeowook looked up to meet the older man. He had strategically seated him in a way that Carter would spot him immediately when he walked into the café without seeming like Ryeowook had done it on purpose. “I haven’t seen you in forever,” the elder continued and smiled courteously to him. Taking a seat, he wasn’t invited to have, but Carter didn’t need an invitation. He would take it as a certainty that they’d share the table after everything they’d been through.

“Yeah, since Seattle, three years ago. You know, I went to your apartment the day after you left, imagine my surprise to find the entire place empty. Rocky had to tell me you’d fled town and most likely wasn’t coming back, that was of course, before the …” Ryeowook trailed and let it be unsaid. Before Rocky or Oliver Rodriguez, had gone to prison serving his time of ten years. The entire visit to Carter’s apartment was a fraud, of course, Ryeowook had known the second Carter had left the city, but he hadn’t bother chasing him knowing they didn’t have enough to hold him long and the bigger fish were still based in Seattle.

“And you?” Raymond intrigued, taking the coffee offered by the barista who served it with a nice smile. “I heard you got cosy in Europe.”

Ryeowook took a sip of his coffee before he put his book down. He wasn’t going to read that now that he had company. “Yeah, you know how it is,” he answered vaguely.

The black-haired lowered his voice before he continued, “had to lay low for a while, and you know how Europe is. Beautiful cities, amazing food, irreplaceable art, old rivalry and ancient money,” he smiled mischievously. Raymond broke out in laughter enjoying his, what looked like café au lait before Ryeowook continued.

“Actually, I just got back. Just got settled in my new apartment, it’s just a few blocks from here,” Ryeowook waved his had as if was supposed to be some sort of direction towards his residence, it was the wrong way though.

“And you’re looking for work?” Raymond intrigued, his green eyes carefully studying Ryeowook, and Ryeowook shook his head slightly. His black locks slightly bouncing at the motion.

“Not necessarily,” Ryeowook began warily, “I would say I’m pretty settled after Europe, not unless you can offer me an adrenaline rush.” Ryeowook knew he’d said the right words when there seemed to be a light turning on in the elder’s eyes. Raymond wasn’t necessarily a lot older than Ryeowook, not more than twelve years, but he’d always acted like he was in his mid-forties, end Ryeowook couldn’t help but think of the man as old. The three years hadn’t exactly treated Raymond nice, he looked older, more up-beat. His brown hair was greying, his smiling wrinkles were more prominent, and his stubble had grey spots, but aside from that he looked good. He looked like the man Ryeowook knew three years ago. But he was different, Ryeowook would guess that Raymond Carter was more settled now. At least, if the gold ring on his ring finger was anything to go by now. Raymond’s days in the field was probably over, and now he worked as a strategist more than a field worker.

“I was actually thinking of you the other day,” Raymond began, lifting the napkin to dry his mouth and stubble before he dusted the blue, probably Italian suit. Ryeowook wasn’t quite sure if it was a lie or not but decided to not find out. “I might have a job for you. I have this buyer, an impossible request really. None of my boys wants the mission, the risk is too high, and I was thinking to myself that Park Ryeowook would’ve taken the job. You like that kind of stuff, don’t you?” It was more of a statement than a question. “When there is a high risk because you like the adrenaline rush. I keep telling my boys you would’ve stolen the Mona Lisa if the price was good enough. And gotten away with it.” Ryeowook was flattered by Carter’s belief in his talents, but Ryeowook was sure he wasn’t that good.

“Maybe faith really wanted you to have this job?” the elder shrugged. “The price is good, very generous, but-…” Raymond trailed off. “But you might not come out scratch-free, worst-case scenario dead. That’s why none of the boys wants it.” Ryeowook played along taking the bait.

“Now I’m intrigued, Ray,” he smirked slightly. “What’s the job?”

“A few weeks ago, there was an auction selling Young Man Holding a Roundel, you might have heard of it, the bidding war was crazy,” Raymond continued, and Ryeowook interrupted him slightly.

“You were there?” Ryeowook asked, finishing the last of his ice caramel latte. The last sip was the sweetest as the caramel had gathered at the bottom, Ryeowook grimaced slightly at its sweetness.

“Of course,” Raymond replied slyly, “I was representing multiple clients.”

“Of course.”

“In the end, it sold for 92 million dollars, but there’s plenty of people who still desperately wants the painting, desperate enough to hire people like us,” Raymond shared another coy smile, and Ryeowook faked a burst of laughter.

“Wouldn’t expect less for a Botticelli painting,” Ryeowook commented subtly.

“So, you know of it,” Raymond asked, shifting slightly in his seat leaning closer to Ryeowook. Ryeowook knew the elder wanted him to take the job, he would probably earn a nice slant for setting it up whether or not Ryeowook was successful in surviving.

“I’ve heard of it, you know I still get news in Europe,” Ryeowook clicked his tongue as if he was annoyed. “I heard of the auction when I was in Paris, but I didn’t care too much about it since it was in a different continent than me, and I didn’t have a client. I don’t know who the buyer is, why is it that your boys don’t want the job?” Ryeowook continued playing the oblivious role, and Raymond bought the act.

“Cho Kyuhyun,” he began waiting for a reaction, but Ryeowook continued the unaware act. As if he didn’t have the slightest clue who that might be. “Sub-ordinate of Leeteuk,” he continued a bit quieter.

“Oh, hell no,” Ryeowook revolted. “I don’t mingle with mobsters.” Carter looked like he was about to say something, but Ryeowook continued. “You know how blood-thirsty and vengeful the mob is, and I’m just not looking for a bullet in my head,” Ryeowook continued. He couldn’t accept the job too quickly, it would seem suspicious, there was a reason why no one else had accepted the job. They would be a complete mad man. “If this sub-ordinate has the money to buy Botticelli he got resources, and I’m not about to get bad blood between me and Leeteuk. I may be an art thief, but I’ve heard things. Your boys are right to not take the job.”

“You haven’t even heard the price yet,” Raymond tried, but Ryeowook shook his head as if he had already decided that he wouldn’t take the job. After all, he had to look disinterested in the job, o Raymond would suspect that he had something suspicious going on. Raymond wasn’t overly bright, but he was careful. It was easy to trick him if you played subtly, if you didn’t even average intelligence people like Raymond would catch on.

“Not interested,” Ryeowook tried to argue, although it seemed weak. It was supposed to sound weak after all. “There’s no price worth dying for.”

“Not even ten precent of the painting’s value?” Raymond intrigued, and Ryeowook couldn’t help but gape. He hadn’t seriously expected that much money from the heist. Obviously, he wouldn’t be cheap, but even one percent of the painting’s value seemed like too much. “Yeah, I thought I was mistaken when I heard the price too, but the client is serious, he’ll even pay you half now if you’re willing to take the job.”

“You’re speaking my language,” Ryeowook smirked slightly, never being one to back out of a challenge. “But good money doesn’t do me any good if I’m dead,” Ryeowook ended the sentence bitterly.

“C’mon Ryeowook,” Raymond continued a bit more desperately, the client must be paying him good money for him to beg like this. “We both know if there’s anyone who can do it, it’s you.”

“Flatter will get you nowhere, Carter.”

“There’s a high risk yes, but we both know you’ll get in and out unseen. The reward is too high to decline, how often do you get chances like this? After this, you’re basically set for life, imagine what you could do with the money,” Carter continued trying to talk him into it. Ryeowook sighed loudly as if he was giving up, it was after all good money. He would never have to work again if he wasn’t an undercover agent and got to keep the money.

“Alright, I’ll bite, do you happen to know where the painting is?” Ryeowook asked after a long silence as if he was contemplating the pros and cons. Carter broke out in a huge smile because Ryeowook had basically confirmed he would take the job, which meant profit for the elder.

The brunet man smiled largely before he spoke, of course, he would happen to know where the picture was exhibited. “It’s in his office.”

“The security is probably air-tight,” Ryeowook muttered as if he was still on the fence for the mission.

“Of course, but that never stopped you before.”

The cool night air was refreshing, especially this high up. Chicago looked breath-taking at night, the view was marvellous, and Ryeowook couldn’t help but admire it. If this mission went bust at least Ryeowook would’ve died after looking at view like this. The sun hadn’t set yet because of summer nearing with high speed, leaving the city in a golden aura. Making the skyscrapers twinkle in the light and look even more majestic than they normally did. It was dark enough to see the city lights, but also not too dark to miss the beautiful colours being painted in the sky.

The short man took a deep breath before he slowly exhaled it out. He had a good view of Kyuhyun’s office building, it was directly aligned across the rooftop he was standing on. The Cho Corporation’s headquarter was a large skyscraper placed in Chicago’s city centre, and Cho Kyuhyun’s office was nearly at the top. His office had a large balcony which Ryeowook fully intended taking advantage of. He quickly got to work, having no time to spare. Quickly Ryeowook shot an arrow to hook a zipline from the balcony of Kyuhyun’s office to the rooftop he was standing on. He secured the line to the roof and tested it slightly by pulling on it before Ryeowook sailed across the two buildings using the zip line. No one noticed the black-dressed male as he sailed through the air several feet above them. As he flew through the air Ryeowook remembered why Park Ryeowook had always been his favourite cover identity. The adrenaline rush he got from heist like this was impeccable to any other cover he’d ever had. No matter which version Ryeowook played, Park Ryeowook or Kim Ryeowook both were addicted to the adrenaline rush. If Ryeowook hadn’t had a strong sense of justice and chosen a career within law enforcement, he knew he would’ve been outstanding as an art thief.

He sailed too shortly for Ryeowook’s liking, but he had to remind himself of the mission at hand. He entered the balcony and observed the office through the glass door and tried to analyse the room. There were several cameras in the office, and if there were several visible, there would be several invisible. However, Ryeowook wouldn’t worry too much about them, Morris had promised he would cut the power for the entire street 15 minutes past nine. Ryeowook impatiently checked his clock and realised it was only seconds from the scheduled time. The black-haired male counted down silently in his head, and as he reached zero the entire street went out. This meant that Ryeowook exactly had five minutes to get in and out before Chicago authorities started looking up in the power shortage. The balcony door was locked, but it wasn’t necessarily hard to pick, because the mobster hadn’t secured it. Not that Ryeowook could blame him, breaking into Kyuhyun’s office or the building was anything but easy. The mobster had probably not bothered with the balcony door because the height was a natural defence against intruders. Intruders that weren’t Ryeowook.

Ryeowook was almost certain that there were weight alarms in the floor and didn’t dare step on it, in fear of making some signals go off and have half of Kyuhyun and Leeteuk’s gang after him before he even touched the painting. For a while, Ryeowook stood in the door opening contemplating, but he didn’t allow himself to waste time as he made the jump for a small table near the balcony door, he wobbled slightly as he hit the table surface, but he didn’t fall, and the table didn’t collapse under Ryeowook’s weight. So, the black-haired male counted it as a success. From there on he tip-toed from the table to a large shelf, careful not to leave any trace that he’d been climbing the furniture, to Kyuhyun’s desk. He smiled slightly as the painting was within reach, and he stepped in the office chair to get closer to the valuable painting. Slowly he reached for the painting and lifted the picture frame, he was already wearing gloves so he wouldn’t leave fingerprints. He opened the frame, and slowly slid the painting out, careful to not damage the painting before he put it in a container on his back. He carefully put the picture frame in place before he jumped back on Kyuhyun’s desk again. Careful not to leave any mark that he’d been there.

The route out of his office was the same as the one in, and Ryeowook didn’t release the breath he’d been holding before he was out on the balcony again. The black-haired carefully locked the door again as he’d picked the lock previously and grabbed the zip line and shot it back to the roof that he’d been standing on. The route back was longer than the flight down, as Ryeowook had to climb by swinging himself forwards. It felt very anti-climactic, but Ryeowook didn’t really care about that. All he had in mind was to escape, he wasn’t safe yet just because he had the painting and was out of the office. Once he reached the rooftop once again, Ryeowook cut down the wire, to erase all forms of evidence. He messily put the wire in his backpack as he was massaging his sore muscles, his arms were going to kill him tomorrow after today’s climbing. He could already feel the familiar burn of worn-out muscles.

This time Ryeowook didn’t waste time admiring the view and acted quickly. The black-haired male fled down the fire escape, not stopping to look back. Somewhere halfway down the fire escape the light went back down, and Ryeowook grinned as he felt the familiar buzzing of adrenaline flow through his veins. This was the reason why Ryeowook loved undercover missions, there were no other in-field missions where he could get this kind of adrenaline kick. It was exactly why he couldn’t give up his job just because his parents were worried about him. Ryeowook loved this line of work and what he gained from it too much, to walk away from it.

The fire escape led directly to a mini harbour that went directly into the Calumet River. At the small harbour, there was already parked a small single-engine outboard boat, an Alison GrandSport 2003. It was small, but extremely fast, exactly what Ryeowook needed for the perfect escape. He wasted no time getting into the small white boat, and secured the goods before he started the boat’s ignition. It roared slightly, but not loud enough to call unwanted attention to himself. Slowly, Ryeowook backed out of the harbour before he set full speed forward, accelerating quickly away from Kyuhyun’s office area. The more distance he could keep between himself and the crime scene, the better. At some point, he dumped the wire in the river to get rid of the last piece of evidence. He parked the boat several miles down the Calumet River, knowing that the FBI would pick it up later. Ryeowook then changed out of the black clothes, and into more civilian clothes that he had packed beforehand. Before leaving the boat completely.

A small grin spread across Ryeowook’s face as he entered the taxi he had ordered, and it drove on his way back home to his apartment. He’d been successful in stealing the painting, which meant he was either one step closer to death or taking down Leeteuk’s gang.

He fished his phone out of his pocket and called Raymond, the elder picked up on the second ring, as if he’d anticipated the call. He probably had, there was after all a great deal of money on the line for the both of them.

“Hey, it’s me,” Ryeowook began slowly, “I got it,” he continued and paused to let Raymond ramble for a second.

“Really? I never doubted your abilities, Park. Of course, you do. I said, if anyone could’ve done it, it was you. So, how did you do it?” Ryeowook ignored Raymond’s question, and continued his own monologue.

“Could you set up a meeting with the client? Preferably within three days,” he would let Kyuhyun have some days to find him, to get some time to sort this mess out. If he were as smart as Ryeowook thought, he was he’d figure it out. Raymond wouldn’t know that all he would see was an art thief that wanted his money, and an art thief that wanted to get the evidence away from him so he could avoid mobsters at all costs. It worked in Ryeowook’s favour either way.

“Of course, does the day after tomorrow work?” Raymond asked, and cleared his throat.

“Yeah, it does,” Ryeowook replied and refrained from commenting how he had not much better to do before he got rid of the painting.

“I’ll text you the details,” Raymond assured him.

“Good,” Ryeowook agreed before he hung up.

The first emotion that washed over the twenty-five-year-old male was disbelief. For a second, he didn’t trust his eyesight, surely, he was mistaken. However, as the matters at hand remained unresolved, the shock wore over and the disbelief was replaced with frustration, and then wrath. Kyuhyun had started his day like any other, it was a calm morning, he skipped breakfast and replaced it with two cups of coffee despite Jungsoo’s constant nagging of how unhealthy that was. He then drove his black Mustang to work. After being briefed by his secretary about today’s schedule, Kyuhyun had greeted Donghae and demanded his presence at various meetings. Before he picked up the third cup of coffee finally heading for his own office to get some work done. Kyuhyun enjoyed his day job, but he could admit the paperwork was at times pretty demanding. And the meetings could run long, that’s why he usually demanded Donghae’s presence because the older could at least entertain him. Usually, most meetings could’ve been summed up in an email. This greatly annoyed Kyuhyun because he was wasting several hours in board meetings when he could’ve spent five minutes reading exactly the same that was repeated and circulated across a table for hours.

The wind was knocked out him when he reached his office doors, after putting in the code to lock open the door and disable all protective systems. A code that only Kyuhyun himself knew, and Donghae who’d set up the system. Not even Jungsoo or Changmin, someone of Kyuhyun’s closest friends and most trusted people knew the code. Not because he didn’t trust them, but because of safety reasons. His office was exactly as he’d left it the day before, except for one tiny little detail. The painting he’d bought only weeks prior was missing. The picture frame was still hanging in the same position, but the painting was undoubtedly gone.

It had to be a mistake, but the longer Kyuhyun stared at the empty picture frame, the longer the dark-haired male stared at it the missing painting, the more the shock ran over. Someone had stolen the painting, there was no other reasonable explanation for it. Usually, Kyuhyun prided himself with his intellect and how he held most answers, but he couldn’t explain what had happened here. He stood frozen in place taking the shock in, someone had dared to steal from him. They were either stupid or didn’t know who he was and what he was capable of. When he finally collected himself Kyuhyun placed the coffee cup on a table nearby the door, he was lucky he hadn’t dropped it in his shock. He would’ve ruined his Italian suit, and the carpet too. Kyuhyun knew how much a pain in the ass cleaning the floor carpet could be, having already cleaned blood from it once. Well, tried, they realised it was easier to just replace the whole carpet.

The brunet went straight back to Donghae’s office, and once again he was glad that their offices were on the same floor. Not that, that was a coincidence, Kyuhyun had moved Donghae’s office deliberately to his floor for convenience reasons.

“Back already?” Donghae joked when he realised Kyuhyun was back in his office.

“Why didn’t you tell me we had an intruder last night?” Kyuhyun asked in Korean. The sheepish relaxed expression from Donghae’s face disappeared and was replaced with a serious one. They all knew the rules, they only spoke Korean if it was serious or didn’t want to be heard. That’s why Kyuhyun had purposely not hired people who spoke Korean, to keep their private conversations private.

“An intruder?” Donghae questioned, “we had no intruder last night, I would’ve been notified immediately. Kyuhyun-ah, you know I would’ve told you if the office was broken into,” Donghae answered earnestly, and Kyuhyun sighed. It aggravated him more because if none of Donghae’s many alarms and security systems hadn’t picked up on anything, that meant that whoever had done it, was good. The painting could be just about everywhere now, the thief had, after all, several hours of a head start.

“Come with me.” Was the only explanation Kyuhyun offered, and Donghae stumbled up, smart enough to grab his laptop before he followed the CEO to his office. At first eyeglance, everything looked fine to Donghae, if the brunet were to guess he would’ve said no one had been there, but he quickly spotted the reason behind Kyuhyun’s distraught.

“The painting,” Donghae muttered, stating the obvious.

“I want you to find out who did this, I want you to find out how they did it, and I want you to find out where they are. If they didn’t set off your security system, they must be good. We’re not dealing with an amateur here, which means it’s most likely a hired job. I want you to find out who hired this heist, who set it up. Find everyone involved, I want to make them pay. No one dares steal from Cho Kyuhyun,” Kyuhyun told Donghae calmly. Kyuhyun was scarier when he was stoic than when he was angry because you could never figure out what he was thinking when he seemed calm and collected. That’s when the mobster came up with his most vicious ideas.

“Oh, and Donghae-hyung. We’ll keep this one under wraps, I can’t have anyone know the painting’s missing, because the police will end up knocking on my door. You know how they are; they’ll alarm the thieves they’re coming and chase them out of the city and ruin everything,” Kyuhyun stepped out of his office as he let Donghae set up his computer to go through the surveillance cameras. The twenty-five-year-old male wasted no time and fished out his phone from his pocket and called for reinforcement.

The male on the other line picked up on the third ring, and despite it being nearly lunch hours his voice was groggy and hoarse. Revealing that he most likely had woken up by this very phone call. Not that it surprised Kyuhyun, they had different jobs, Kyuhyun’s being more in the day, and Shindong’s being more in the night. “Hello,” the older answered, he only sounded half as dead as the thieves would be.

“Shindong,” Kyuhyun began, dropping the honorifics completely. “I require your assistance, immediately.”

“Wow must be pretty serious for you to call me this early, and speak Korean,” Shindong answered in English, sleep still evident in his voice. It wasn’t that early, but Shindong usually worked ‘night shifts’, so Kyuhyun let it slide.

“Shindong.” Kyuhyun’s tone was harsher than it should be when he was speaking to someone older than himself, but Kyuhyun didn’t really care if he seemed disrespectful towards Shindong, he had more important problems to deal with. The only one who was strict about Korean culture, either way, was Jungsoo, and Kyuhyun would rather die than disrespect the older male.

“Fine, fine,” Shindong replied in Korean. “I’ll come,” Kyuhyun could hear rustling from the other side, and he guessed it was from Shindong moving around.

“Come to my office, I’ll be expecting you in fifteen minutes,” Kyuhyun told the male, and was about to hang up, but Shindong continued talking, halting Kyuhyun ever so slightly.

“What, but’s a twelve-minute drive, and your office is on the 42nd floor,” the elder complained.

“It’s important,” Kyuhyun demanded before he hung up. Shindong would come even if he decided to whine about it. That’s one thing Kyuhyun admired about the elder, he always got things done. If Jungsoo or Kyuhyun gave him a task, they could trust that the work would be done. No need to check up on it, because Shindong was dutiful. Kyuhyun re-entered his office to see Donghae had already set up and was working fiercely to find out something, anything, about the thief. Kyuhyun suspected that there only had been one, because more people meant more room to mess up, and more people to split the pot with.

“Kyuhyun, I have some bad news,” Donghae declared to him where was sitting in his office chair. He had a troubled facial expression, and even though Kyuhyun didn’t know what the older wanted to tell him, he knew it was bad. “There seemed to be a power shortage yesterday, quarter past nine. It lasted about five minutes, and it affected this whole street, but to me, it seems like the thief was in and out within that period, and I can’t find anything else from our surveillance cameras. Look at it,” Donghae, turned the laptop screen towards Kyuhyun. The timestamp said 21:14, and the painting was hanging safely in place. Donghae skipped through frames of blackness before he reached a new frame where the timestamp said 21:20, and the picture was gone, with only the picture frame in place, as if to taunt him. It was exactly how Kyuhyun had found his office only minutes prior.

“You’re telling me that whoever stole my painting was in and out in five minutes?” Kyuhyun asked, disbelief obvious in his voice.

“I’m not telling you anything, the video surveillance is telling you that,” was the smart-ass reply he got back from Donghae. Kyuhyun sighed, even if it answered some questions, it only unravelled new ones.

“How did the thief get in so quickly, and only use five minutes? The weights in the floor should’ve alarmed you even if the power was cut, and whoever they were can’t possibly know where they are placed. Even if they were skilled, they would’ve spent more than five minutes up to this floor here, and the power generators would’ve kicked in after ten minutes. Did they leave any trace? Have you seen any signs of forced entry?” Kyuhyun half-asked Donghae, while some of it was mostly thinking out loud.

“I haven’t had the chance to check yet,” Donghae, “but I doubt we’ll find fingerprints, or what do you think? Seems pretty stupid to go through all this to leave fingerprints behind,” the brunet told him, and Kyuhyun agreed, but that didn’t mean it wasn’t worth checking. “I’ll check now,” the older, but slightly shorter man promised and disappeared from his office. Kyuhyun stared once again at the empty picture frame, whoever had done it was obviously a professional, and Kyuhyun would’ve been impressed by the talent hadn’t the person stolen from him, not to mention such a valuable item. Whoever had dared to steal from him was going to pay. There was a reason why no one in Illinois or around the state dared mess with Jungsoo or himself because there would be hell to pay. Sure, there were always some idiots who thought the rumours were fake or had too much self-esteem thinking they had a chance, but they were always knocked straight back in place. Donghae returned quickly, and Kyuhyun let him be as he left the office once again, he was expecting Shindong soon, and he would meet him himself in the reception to not waste any more necessary time. The more time they wasted, the more time they gave the culprits to get away with the heist.

Although he’d given Shindong fifteen minutes to his office, the elder was there two minutes early. He wore a black suit, Shindong was usually seen wearing that colour, and he looked very representable. Kyuhyun couldn’t have guessed that the man had been asleep twenty minutes prior if he hadn’t known that. Shindong looked like one of Kyuhyun’s business associates, and no one batted an eye as Shindong went into the reception. Some of the old-timers probably recognizing him from earlier. The older man smirked as he caught a glimpse of Kyuhyun, but Kyuhyun didn’t return it. He was in no mood to do so.

“Mister Shin,” he greeted Shindong in English, who only nodded to him. Kyuhyun could’ve both the business partners act if he hadn’t known better, “follow me please.” He could’ve both it if Shindong’s jacket hadn’t flown slightly, and Kyuhyun saw the outline of a gun.

“Of course,” Shindong replied just as courteous before they stepped into Kyuhyun’s private elevator, and the youngest punched the floor to his office floor.

“So, what’s going?” Shindong asked in Korean when the elevator started moving, and he was sure no one was around. “It’s not like you to wake me up just to share lunch in your office. I mean, I appreciate the date offer, but I’d rather have my beauty sleep.” The older joked, but Kyuhyun wasn’t in the mood to laugh.

“You know, my painting I just bought-…” Kyuhyun began calmly, but Shindong didn’t let him speak.

“What about it? You haven’t been bragging about anything else for weeks,” Shindong filled in, and Kyuhyun let an annoyed sigh escape his lips.

As I was saying, it’s stolen,” Kyuhyun picked up the conversation from before Shindong so rudely interrupted him. Hadn’t it been Shindong, Kyuhyun wouldn’t have let it slide.

“Stolen?” Shindong asked with disbelief. “Last night?”

“Yes,” Kyuhyun confirmed, “between quarter past nine and ten minutes to half-past nine.”

“Five minutes?” Shindong’s shock only grew. “Do you know who it is?” He asked, even if it was a stupid question.

“Idiot, do you think you’d be here if I knew who they were?” Kyuhyun asked, his voice slightly annoyed, but deep inside he knew that his anger wasn’t actually directed towards Shindong. He was angry that his painting was stolen, but it was easier to take it out on Shindong, even if it wasn’t fair. They didn’t get the chance to exchange more words before the elevator ride ended, and they both stepped out of the lift. “Donghae is already working on it, but apparently there was a power shortage during that five-minute break,” Kyuhyun began as they walked towards his office, “camera shows before the power shortage the picture hanging thereafter it’s gone.”

“Shit, whoever it is, they’re good,” Shindong muttered, and Kyuhyun slightly hit him in an annoyed motion. This wasn’t the time to compliment the thief for getting away with the heist.

“Shindong-hyung,” Donghae greeted as the two of them entered the office, “I didn’t know you’d come,” Donghae continued, his smile quite prominent whenever he was in the company of their inner circle. Kyuhyun hadn’t told him he’d get Shindong to come, but it had been rather obvious. When it came to security no one was better than Shindong. Donghae was untouchable when it came to anything technical, you needed a hacker, or someone to set up a digital security system? He was your guy. However, if you needed something physical, like a bodyguard or someone who could break an entry, or prevent forced entries, you went to Shindong.

“I checked for fingerprint, there were none,” Donghae informed him, “naturally.”

“Naturally,” Kyuhyun replied.

“Shit, they’re good,” Shindong said again, stunned, but he stopped himself before Kyuhyun could say something.

“I’ve filled him in,” Kyuhyun told Donghae, and the elder nodded, having expected no less from the fierce leader, Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun wasn’t one to waste time chitchatting when there were more important matters to be dealt with. “Obviously, as you can see for yourself the painting is gone. What I wanna know is, who did it, and how they did it. I believe, finding out the method will lead us to the identity, yes?” This time it was directed to Shindong, who only nodded. His brown eyes scanned the room, already lost in thought on how anyone could’ve gotten in and out of Kyuhyun’s thoroughly protected office.

“They did it in five minutes, right?” Shindong asked, already moving in the room checking different places, and furniture to look for evidence.

“Right,” Donghae confirmed. It seemed like the oldest of them only half-listened as he studied the balcony door’s lock. He then went over to Kyuhyun’s office door and checked that one.

“All doors were locked, right?” Shindong asked, even if he knew the answer.

“Of course,” Kyuhyun answered clicking his tongue in annoyance.

“Alright,” Shindong said, and clapped his hands as if he’d already solved the mystery of the break-in. Knowing Shindong and how fast his brain could work if he really tried, Kyuhyun wouldn’t be surprised if he had. Shindong was good at this sort of thing. “I believe it was done like this. The thief came through the balcony,” he began, and as he said it, it seemed rather obvious. “It’s the only door without an alarm, and you would only require low-level lockpicking skills to get that door opened. We never bothered securing the door since you’re on the 42nd floor. In retrospect, I see we should’ve.” Kyuhyun rolled his eyes, but he didn’t bother saying anything. Nothing would change if Kyuhyun yelled at Shindong, he would still miss a painting, and Shindong would be in a sour mood. “If you study the lock from the outside,” Shindong let them each have look, you can see the small signs of lockpicking. Obviously, whoever did this is a much better thief than lockpicker.”

“You have weight alarms on your floor,” Shindong wasn’t asking, he was stating it. He had been the ones to place them, and Donghae had activated them. Kyuhyun nodded, nonetheless. “The thief recognized this, or was too paranoid to take the chance, I think they moved around using your furniture.” Shindong tapped the table and then his shelf as an example, and Kyuhyun got the picture. “I’m saying ‘thief’ because it was one person, several people would’ve made too much of a mess, and wouldn’t have gotten out before they’d set off some alarms. No, it was one person, and they’re smart. Smart enough to get in and out in less than five minutes. Smart enough to leave minimal evidence. They’re smart and good, a professional, probably hired,” Shindong finished his monologue. Kyuhyun had recognized some of the same things himself, he hadn’t been too far off. However, Shindong’s expertise severely helped.

“How they got on the balcony, however,” Shindong picked up the conversation again, “is a mystery to me.” Kyuhyun slightly stepped out on the balcony, and inhaled the fresh air, as the cold morning air hit his face. It was slightly windy today, but the sun was up, promising yet another nice spring day. His brown eyes scanned the street for a natural explanation, and he didn’t have to look far. The two elders joined him on the large glass balcony, looking for an answer.

“I don’t think, we’ll need to look very far,” Kyuhyun said, slightly humoured by having the answer before the two. “That building,” he pointed at the building directly across from where he was standing, it was slightly taller than his own office building. “I think the thief came from there, over here and back. Donghae-hyung, would you be so kind to check the surveillance cameras for the building and roof?” Donghae nodded in a way that meant he was on it, and he went back for his computer.

“You want me to go over and check for more evidence?” Shindong asked, but Kyuhyun shook his head as a no.

“There’s no use, we won’t find much,” Kyuhyun answered. “You’ll probably see the same lockpicking technique, and some kind of obvious escape route, I think that our dear thief took good use of our river, but it won’t do much. We could probably follow their movements for some distance before they’d disappear. We won’t be any closer to the thief’s identity and it would just be a waste of resources,” Kyuhyun stated. “No, I was thinking, this is a hired job, and there are few people who’d hire an art thief. Who even have the money to do so, and who really wants this exact picture,” Kyuhyun took a short pause to let Shindong know where he was going with this. “They were most likely at the auction.”

“So, you plan on hunting down the ones you had bidding wars with?” Shindong asked sceptically.

“No, of course not, that would be stupid and a waste of time. No, but big desperate billionaires don’t hire art thieves by themselves, they don’t know how to. They need a middleman to set it all up, make it seem more like a business transaction than hiring a thief. And where do middlemen meet desperate billionaires? Auctions. I plan on finding the middleman through the auction, he’ll know the thief’s identity.”

“And how will you know who the middleman is?” Shindong asked, still not quite convinced.

“Oh please, Shindong, have some faith in me. There aren’t that many that’s stupid enough and greedy enough to cross me. The pickings are slim when we’re looking for someone old to the game, known from several places, sophisticated enough to fit in at these kinds of events, and cowardly enough to never get personally involved in deals. I’ll know it when I see it,” Kyuhyun told Shindong, his voice laced with cockiness.

“Sounds like you already have someone in mind,” Shindong muttered.

“Oh, I’ll know him when I see him,” was all Kyuhyun answered. The two went inside again, and Kyuhyun turned to Donghae to ask a new favour of him, but the older brunet male beat him to the word.

“Good news, Kyuhyun,” Donghae smiled, “you were right.” Kyuhyun refrained from adding ‘as always.’ “He used the rooftop; a surveillance camera got a small shot of him.” Donghae turned the laptop screen to them and shoved the image of the thief. Dressed in all black, the face was hidden, and there was no way of identifying the male, but they could all see it was male. The picture was pixelated, Donghae had probably zoomed in as much as he could, but it still gave them an idea of who the man could be. Small and lean, but aside from that the man was a mystery. “It’s not much-…” Donghae began, his smile slightly faltering.

“No, it’s enough,” Kyuhyun assured him, “I just wanted to see if my suspicions were correct, and they were. Could you print a member list of everyone present at the auction?” Kyuhyun asked. Donghae didn’t reply vocally, but rather in fast typing from his keyboard and seconds later, the printer in Kyuhyun’s office started printing out the list. Kyuhyun loved of fast and efficient Donghae could be.

The list was several pages, but Kyuhyun could skim through most of it. The media representatives or potential buyers who represented themselves were obviously out of the question. Kyuhyun’s own team was too eliminated. Most people on the list were names Kyuhyun never had heard before, and he skipped over them too. The brunet male knew that when he saw the name he’d recognize it, Shindong didn’t seem as convinced of the same when he reached the fifth page, but he was polite enough to not say anything. He didn’t need to, Kyuhyun could feel his disbelief as he turned to the sixth page, and halfway through the page, he saw the name he’d been looking for. It had to be him. He was certain. The longer Kyuhyun thought about it, the more it made sense. Yeah, he knew who the middleman was.

“Shindong,” Kyuhyun began, smirk visible in his voice. “Would you mind paying someone a little visit for me?”

Shindong didn’t hesitate when asked, “who?”

“Raymond Carter.” It was the only answer Shindong got, but he didn’t need more, and he made a motion to leave the room. Right before he was out of Kyuhyun’s office, the youngest stopped him. “Oh, and Shindong, I want you to break him, but don’t kill him. He’ll flee the city by himself.” Kyuhyun didn’t need to specify what he meant by that, Shindong was smart enough to figure it out by himself.

“That’s awfully nice of you,” Donghae commented as Shindong left the room, and Kyuhyun shrugged slightly. Donghae had expected Kyuhyun to want him murdered in cold blood. After all, he’d aided to steal from Kyuhyun, and no one crossed Kyuhyun and lived to tell the story.

“Killing him is too much of a hassle,” Kyuhyun began, “the FBI’s been breathing down my neck lately.” The younger continued, and Donghae wanted to interrupt to remind Kyuhyun that usually didn’t stop him, but he refrained. “Shindong don’t need the work of hiding a body, besides,” and Kyuhyun smiled evilly, Donghae knew that whatever came next was the brunet’s true motive. “Killing him is too easy. I want him to break. I want him to lose everything. I want him to lose everything he has built up during his many years, and he’ll never recover. I want him to sit in a lousy motel in New Orleans and wonder where it all went wrong, and regret he ever dared to cross me. Killing him is too easy, I want to crush him, and have him live in misery knowing he’ll never see the top again. If we’re lucky he’ll end his own miserable life.” Kyuhyun ended the monologue chuckling, and Donghae saw a twinkle in his eyes. The older had been correct about Kyuhyun again, when Kyuhyun was calm and collected that’s when his most cruel sides shone through.

It was late at night, and Kyuhyun hadn’t heard anything from Shindong, but he wasn’t too worried, the man had never disappointed him before, and he knew he wouldn’t start now. Besides, right now Kyuhyun had different matters in front of him to focus on. The brunet was back in his house, but he was still working, however, some matters were better to deal with in the privateness of his own home. Although, Kyuhyun knew he could work undisturbed in his office and not care about anything of his mobster work getting out, for appearance’s sake it was better to take some things at home. The FBI still didn’t know the identity behind Leeteuk, and they intended on keeping it that way. If Park Jungsoo, a renowned hotel giant, started hanging around the Cho Corporation too much the FBI would start to suspect him. However, it was a known fact that the Cho CEO and Park Jungsoo were great friends and sometimes business partners because of their shared values and history. To the unsubtle FBI van that was parked as close to the Cho residence as it could without Kyuhyun reporting them for trespassing or seeming too obvious Park Jungsoo was having a nice, friendly dinner.

That wasn’t necessarily the case. The FBI thought his friendship with Jungsoo was to keep up his civilian image and didn’t read too much into it, because there was no Park Jungsoo was involved in mob business.

“Have you heard anything about Sungmin-hyung, hyung?” Kyuhyun asked and took a sip of the expensive red wine. The older Korean male shook his head, so, he’s long blond hair slightly swaying with the movement.

“He’s still not back from Los Angles,” Jungsoo took a sip of the wine before he continued. “And hasn’t checked in with Donghae-ah in a few days. I’m not too worried though, he’s probably just laying low.” The FBI didn’t know about Sungmin’s identity, or what he did, and they intended to keep it that way. Sungmin wasn’t exactly in Jungsoo’s inner circle, not like the others were, but he was trusted. He was mostly a field worker for hire, although his loyalty laid with Jungsoo and his gang. Sungmin’s latest mission was to steal back a drug load that shitty Russians thought they could take without any consequences coming their way. Sure, Leeteuk’s group wasn’t based in LA, but that didn’t mean they didn’t have territory there. No one crossed Leeteuk and got away with it and stealing such a large shipment was just asking for trouble. If Raymond Carter and his partners thought crossing Kyuhyun was bad, they hadn’t seen how bad Jungsoo could be.

“We should probably check up on him soon,” Kyuhyun commented and cut the steak that was cooked perfectly. Medium rare, just like he liked it. He knew Jungsoo preferred Korean dishes, but Kyuhyun was trying hard to convince him that Western food could be equally as good. It didn’t feel like he had much success though, because Jungsoo had already commented on the lack of spices.

“Probably,” Jungsoo agreed, “but let’s give him a few days. You know how he is; he’ll state he had it under control even if he was missing an arm.” Kyuhyun hummed in agreement and took another bite of his dinner. They sat slightly in comfortable silence as the music played in the background, Mozart’s requiem. Jungsoo had always preferred it to his other works, he had morbid taste in that way. Jungsoo smiled a cunning smile, revealing his signature dimple before he continued the calm conversation. “I hope you’re not overworking my dongsaeng,” referring to Donghae. It was no secret that Jungsoo had a soft spot for the hacker. Going as far as referring to him as family, and Donghae likewise had an older brother image of Jungsoo. Jungsoo probably related to Donghae’s upbringing, and since Donghae was one of the first people he requited Jungsoo was more protective over him. Kyuhyun suspected Jungsoo had some of the same feelings for Hyukjae, but because of the other’s constant screw-ups, Jungsoo couldn’t dote on his innocence. However, Jungsoo couldn’t claim he kept Hyukjae around for convenience reasons because he almost caused more trouble than he was worth.

“Of course not, hyung,” Kyuhyun answered almost at once. They had all agreed that Donghae’s skills were better hidden in Kyuhyun’s IT company than Jungsoo’s hotel business when they’d started up in Chicago. Although, Kyuhyun was well-aware that Jungsoo wished he could work his day job with Donghae. If Donghae had been over-worked by Kyuhyun or mistreated him, he would be sure to let him or Jungsoo know.

“Aha,” Jungsoo said half-unconvinced, half-joking. “So, why is it that Donghae-ah, couldn’t be here today?” The older quirked an eyebrow at him, and Kyuhyun bent his head ashamed.

“I’m sorry, Jungsoo-hyung,” he bowed slightly to the elder, and the blond man seemed to accept his apology. “Someone stole my painting, and I need to get it back,” he explained to his leader.

“Which painting? Not the Botticelli painting, right?” Jungsoo asked, his voice distraught. Kyuhyun’s silence and avoidance of eye contact was answer enough. Even if Kyuhyun hadn’t done anything wrong, it felt like it was partly his own fault in Jungsoo’s presence. “Kyuhyun-ah, why are you here with me? The painting is more important,” Jungsoo said slightly scolding him, but he was also amused. Kyuhyun would say he was good at picking up on Jungsoo’s moods after so many years.

“Who am I to decline time with my favourite hyung?” Kyuhyun said to flatter Jungsoo, although he meant it when he said Jungsoo was his favourite hyung. Of course, Kyuhyun was fond of the others, but no one felt much more like a family member than Park Jungsoo. He didn’t tell Jungsoo that right now both Shindong and Donghae was on the case, meaning there weren’t much to do for Kyuhyun, except for wait. Jungsoo probably picked up on it, nonetheless. He was smart, after all.

“You’re such a smooth-talker,” Jungsoo bemused and chuckled slightly to himself before he enjoyed more of the wine. It seemed that Jungsoo had taken the liking to the wine, the food not so much. He’d eaten a great deal of the food but rarely commented on it, which Jungsoo would do if he liked it a lot. “I wonder why you’re still single,” Jungsoo continued, and Kyuhyun almost choked on a potato, regaining control before he started coughing. His voice was teasing, but Kyuhyun could see his serious look. Jungsoo was sometimes like an old English nobleman with several children, and his last dying wish was to see his children marry. However, Kyuhyun was at the end of receiving most of this treatment. Even if everyone else was equally as single as himself.

“I don’t have the time,” Kyuhyun shrugged, and tried to brush it off, but Jungsoo seemed hell-bent on continuing.

“Everyone’s got time.”

“Besides, it turns out people don’t always morally agree with mobsters and would rather see me locked up than go out on a second date. Who would’ve known?” Kyuhyun replied sarcastically, and Jungsoo’s eyes crinkled slightly in amusement.

“No need to get sarcastic, Kyuhyun-ah. Finding a long-term partner in our line of work can be hard. If you go for civilians,” Jungsoo noted, heavy on the hinting. Kyuhyun wasn’t quite sure what he was trying to set up, the ever matchmaker, but Kyuhyun knew he didn’t want to find out.

“Mobsters’ not my type,” he said and clicked his tongue in annoyance. “I would rather have someone who could stimulate me intellectually.”

“So, you turn to escorts, instead?” Jungsoo challenged.

“Hey, I never claimed to have intellectual conversations with them, my expectations for them are an easy fuck, and in that, they never disappoint,” Kyuhyun defended himself. Besides, it wasn’t like he frequently turned to escorts for sex, he was more than capable to find someone himself. However, what he liked about escorts was that they didn’t ask questions.

Jungsoo was about to continue the conversation, but Shindong and Donghae chose that moment to barge in. Kyuhyun would have scolded them for not knocking if they weren’t his elders and knew they were bringing important news. Jungsoo caught the eye of the other two and smiled politely. His smile was slightly larger as he nodded to Donghae.

“Oh, we didn’t know you’d be here, hyung,” Shindong apologized to Jungsoo and bowed to show his respect, Donghae copied the movement and bowed as an apology. Jungsoo only waved with his hand as a statement that it was okay.

“Well, if you’ll have me excused,” Jungsoo smiled and got up from the table where Kyuhyun was still seated. The wine glass was nearly empty, and there was still a little food left on his plate. “Thanks for the meal, Kyuhyun-ah,” he thanked the younger and straightened his black suit. “Let’s have Korean next time,” Jungsoo finished with a mischievous twinkle in his eye before he left. The three lingered slightly in the room until they could hear Jungsoo’s engine turn on and the sound of the older driving away.

“So, what do you have for me, hyungs?” Kyuhyun questioned and got up from the table, switching to English. He left the dishes as they were, he could clean it later. Shindong’s white shirt covered in blood, large spots some places small spots other places. Kyuhyun couldn’t help but hide a little smirk, he didn’t have to ask whose blood it was. Shindong didn’t disappoint as always. Kyuhyun led them to his living room and sat down on his huge white couch, and Donghae sat next to him letting Shindong take the lead.

“Well, first of all, I managed to find the art thief. Wasn’t too hard, you were right about the middleman being Raymond Carter,” Shindong told him, still standing. Kyuhyun only nodded satisfied. “The old fella didn’t seem all that hell-bent on keeping his silence after a few punches, and he started fearing for his life. Of course, he was quite helpful, and willingly told me all I needed to hear,” Kyuhyun could hear the smirk in his voice, that was very prominent on his face. Shindong had slightly sadistic tendencies.

“The exchange is supposed to happen tomorrow, twelve o’clock at café close to your office, conveniently enough,” Shindong continued, and Kyuhyun smiled slightly pleased. The painting was still in town, and Kyuhyun would have it back by tomorrow. “We’ll obviously sweep in and take it,” Shindong stated the obvious.

“The thief who was hired is a Park Ryeowook,” Shindong continued. “Donghae was able to dig up quite a lot on this guy. Twenty-five years old, he has no criminal record, of course. But he’s the lead suspect of several cases. He was a part of a big raid in Seattle three years ago, that’s when he met Carter, but law enforcement got involved and he fled the country, he’s been holding a low profile ever since. However, Interpol suspects him in several heists all over Europe. It wasn’t until recently that this Ryeowook got back to the states, I’m guessing this was his first mission back in the country. He’s good, but he’s not a match for people like us. We’ll crush him like a bug.”

“Do you want to break or kill him?” Donghae asked, shifting slightly to watch Kyuhyun’s reaction.

“He won’t crumble like Carter, so it isn’t as entertaining,” Kyuhyun replied, “I’ll kill him, but I want to do it myself. I’ll show him what happens when he steals from the wrong people. Who’s the client?”

“The client is an older man named Winston Daniels, he’s not really invested in the criminal environment, he’s just a rich collector who wanted the painting,” Shindong shrugged, he didn’t find him as interesting as the art thief. “What do you want me to with him?”

“I don’t care,” Kyuhyun shrugged, in a way that meant Shindong could decide how he’d kill him. If Shindong wanted to go slow or do it quick, if he wanted to do it clean or bloody was up to the elder. “Kill him.” The black-haired male nodded and smiled viciously. Kyuhyun assumed that Shindong had been rooting for that answer. Shindong decided not to stay after telling him more about the drop-off deal, he had after all a man to kill. Donghae, on the other hand, decided to stay to help Kyuhyun plan what they were going to do tomorrow. Kyuhyun didn’t mind Shindong leaving, strategy wasn’t the elder’s forte, and he had other matters to attend to. Donghae was much more helpful, and skilful when it came to strategics. So, his help was greatly appreciated.