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Ryeowook woke up an hour before his alarm and decided to get up, there was no use not laying in bed because he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep. The adrenaline and nervousness mixed together and formed a knot in his stomach. Ryeowook couldn’t remember the last time he’d been this nervous for a mission, but he couldn’t remember the last time he was staring death in the eye either. Most times the highest risk was that his cover could be blown, which could of course lead to death, but not in the same way as he was now. Now, Ryeowook was staring straight into the muzzle of the gun. He could almost feel the gun being pressed against his temple. Usually, when Ryeowook was on undercover missions, people only wanted to kill him if they found out he was working for the FBI. Now, Kyuhyun wanted to kill him even if he didn’t know he was working undercover.

The black-haired male felt like a dead man walking to his grave as got up from bed. Ryeowook winced as he really realised what situation he was in. Kyuhyun and his men would undoubtedly be at the drop-off, and not only claim the painting back, but they’d probably take Ryeowook somewhere to question him, then kill him. Unless Ryeowook managed to smooth-talk himself out of the situation. Sadly, Ryeowook had never been good with words. He was holding a set of bad cards, and Kyuhyun had the upper hand. It wasn’t like Ryeowook could give Kyuhyun a sincere felt apology and hope that would be the end of it. His good looks could only get him so far, and although maybe the mobster would feel it was a pity for a pretty face going to waste it wasn’t like he’d forgive him just because he looked good.

Ryeowook took a hot shower in hopes that it would calm him down, but it didn’t help his nerves much. It served as a nice temporarily distraction, but when Ryeowook stepped out of the shower, the nerves came back in full force. For some time Ryeowook contemplated what to wear and wondered how he was going to present himself. Obviously, Park Ryeowook cared about his clothes, and wouldn’t just throw on anything, but at the same time Park Ryeowook had no way of knowing that Cho Kyuhyun would be present, so it wasn’t like he could dress to impress. He had to look good, in a casual way. Having settled that Ryeowook went with grey suit pants, a black turtleneck stuffed into the high-waisted pants with a black simple belt and dark grey wool coat that he’d take on before he left. To finish it of Ryeowook chose a pair of black leather shoes, he could run in them if he had to.

He still had an hour to kill before he’d head out, and Ryeowook sighed. He didn’t feel like eating, even if he logically knew it would be wise of him to eat something. He doubted Kyuhyun would hold him for long, he would either kill him straight away or he’d let him go, but again Ryeowook never knew. He didn’t know how Kyuhyun thought, and he couldn’t be sure of anything. He settled for black coffee with a little creamer, just how he liked it, he wasn’t in the mood for breakfast food. At least not the greasy American breakfast food, so he settled for a salad. The salad didn’t go too well with the coffee, but Ryeowook had had worse combinations. He knew already when he sat down to eat it that he wouldn’t finish it, and he felt slightly guilty knowing he’d have to throw food. He could hear the voice of his mother nagging him for throwing food, and his heart soared slightly at the thought of his mom, and then his dad. He missed his parents and hoped that this mission wouldn’t take more than a few months.

The time slowly ticked away until it was time for Ryeowook to go out. Ryeowook turned right before the elevator doors closed, and a longing sigh left his mouth. It felt too much like he said goodbye to the apartment. However, Ryeowook decided not to dwell on it and pressed the button for the first floor. He took one look at himself in the mirror and fixed his hair slightly until he was satisfied with its look.

Ryeowook hadn’t been to choose the meeting place, but it made him uneasy how close the café was to Kyuhyun’s office. It was as if Carter or the client, Winston Daniels, had unknowingly aided Kyuhyun. To be safe, Ryeowook got there early and checked the café out, painting safely with him in a large carrying bag. The café had two exits, one in front – the main exit, and one in the back meant for delivery. If Ryeowook was to make a guess, Kyuhyun’s men would show up at the front, forcing Ryeowook to escape from the other exit – where more people would be waiting. It was only minutes to twelve when Ryeowook spotted a large black van rolling slightly up the street. Kyuhyun’s men, no doubt. That meant the men in the back were already in position, but Ryeowook wasn’t one to go down without a fight, and he needed Kyuhyun to know that. Two men dressed in black suits exited the car, they were about the same height both with dark hair. One of them is lean and wearing sunglasses, while the other is more built and more on the heavier side. To Ryeowook it looked like Lee Hyukjae and Shin Donghee.

Slowly, careful not to call attention to himself Ryeowook got up from the table, sad to leave his half-finished coffee. He grabbed the painting and slid in a door that said STAFF ONLY, knowing there would be a staircase that would lead up to the roof. The second the door closed after him, he started running up the stairs, having no time to waste. As he was nearing the top, he could hear voices at the bottom of the stairs, and footsteps.

“He’s getting away!” Yelled a dark male voice.

“Get him,” commanded someone else, but Ryeowook didn’t stay to decipher their voices. The young agent kicked the door open with a forceful kick, and the door cave after. Obviously, the security here wasn’t treated too seriously. Ryeowook felt slightly bad for the damage he caused the café, but he couldn’t do anything about it. He scanned the flat roof as he got out on the roof for an easy escape route, without damaging the painting. Ryeowook couldn’t see an obvious escape route, but he had to hurry, Kyuhyun’s men were after him, and only a few seconds from catching him. Obviously, Ryeowook meant to be caught, if he had really tried to escape, he was confident in his abilities to do so, but it had to seem realistic.

The gap between the roof he was standing on and the next wasn’t too large, and Ryeowook knew he could jump to it even with the painting tucked under his arm. Just as Ryeowook made a jump he could hear the footsteps getting closer before the door was once again pushed open with force. He landed with ease; the distance hadn’t been too far. He was cautious not to damage the painting. That would’ve been unforgivable. Ryeowook didn’t turn to watch his chasers, as he ran further away from them hiding from them just as they got out of the entrance. He knew they were most likely armed, and he didn’t want to end his life quickly, so he hid behind a large pipe. Cautiously, he watched the chasers to make sure they hadn’t spotted him.

“Where did he go?” The taller, and larger man asked. The other in sunglasses shook his head in answer.

“He’s an art thief, he pretty acrobatic from what we know,” the other reasoned, “he probably went over to another roof. This one probably,” Sunglasses pointed towards the roof Ryeowook was currently on. “I’m gonna check.”

“Eunhyuk, be careful,” the other said to Sunglasses as he carefully started to climb over to the other roof. Ryeowook had also been right, one of them was Lee Hyukjae. However, Ryeowook didn’t stay to make sure Hyukjae got over to the roof, and slowly started to climb down the red, slightly rusty fire escape, careful not to make too much noise. They would catch up with him soon enough, but Ryeowook could make them work for it, a small smile made its way to his facial features as he was halfway down the set of stairs.

The smile quickly disappeared as Ryeowook met another male in the staircase. He was slightly taller than himself and stylishly dressed. He was wearing a light grey, almost white, suit and he had a red flowery shirt inside. Unlike the others, he had no tie, but the shirt took enough attention, he had obviously dressed with consideration. He wore sunglasses too, with red-tinted glass but it was obviously more a fashion statement than to help against the sun. His hair was cut shorter in the front, and longer in the back, and dyed a silver-white colour. Ryeowook was sure he could see the beginning of an undercut even though he was standing in front of him, with a gun pointing at him.

“Don’t move, or I’ll shoot,” he warned Ryeowook, and the black-haired male could only obey the command. Slowly, Ryeowook raised his hands as in a way of saying he surrendered.

“Alright, you caught me,” Ryeowook answered cheekily, although this wasn’t really the time for cheeky remarks. If anything, such remarks might cause him a bullet in the foot. Ryeowook didn’t recognize this person, so he was either someone from the file without an actual picture or an unknown team member not important enough to be in Leeteuk’s inner circle, this was after all Kyuhyun’s gang and not Leeteuk’s.

“Ah, Yesung, good catch,” Hyukjae commented as he came sprinting down the fire escape. So, the man in front of him was Yesung? He looked nothing like the drawing.

“If you guys had just done your job properly, I wouldn’t need to interfere, you’re such a nuisance Eunhyuk-ah,” Yesung replied to the other in Korean. Ryeowook didn’t bat an eye because he still understood them just fine.

“Aish~, it’s not my fault the little shit decided to run,” Hyukjae replied back in Korean. Ryeowook contemplated whether or not if he should reveal he understood the language but decided to keep shut for now. Just in case they revealed some viable information in his presence, thinking Ryeowook didn’t understand.

“Let’s just get back, you know how impatient Kyuhyun can be,” Yesung continued, “check if has the painting. I don’t want to deliver him back without it,” Yesung ordered Eunhyuk, and Eunhyuk came from behind Ryeowook and checked his large bag. Obviously, the painting was there, and the black-haired male grinned as he took the painting from Ryeowook.

“Got it,” Hyukjae said, switching back to English, and Ryeowook could see Yesung roll his eyes behind the sunglasses.

“Come with us,” Yesung told Ryeowook, not lowering the gun a little, “if you try to run, we’ll put a bullet in your head. Got it?” They got out of the fire escape, Yesung leading the way, and Lee Hyukjae going behind him threatening to shoot him if Ryeowook slightly moved out of line. Back on the ground, Shin Donghee was already waiting for them, up close Ryeowook could confirm his suspicions that it was Shin Donghee he’d seen outside the café.

“You have the painting?” Donghee asked, and Hyukjae answered by dangling the bag in front of him and making terrible background music.

“Let’s just fucking go,” Yesung complained, and the two others straightened up and went over to the black van that was parked at the back of the café, there were no one around to witness the scene. Not that Ryeowook counted on civilians to sweep in and save him before he even met Cho Kyuhyun.

“Get in the car,” Hyukjae told Ryeowook, pistol pressing a bit too harshly against his head, and Ryeowook didn’t say anything as he entered the van. “Should we knock him out?” Hyukjae asked in Korean and turned to the others.

“Yeah, it’s easier to tie him up later,” Shin Donghee replied, and the black-haired male nodded before he punched hard enough in the head to knock him out. He’d done it enough times to be successful on the first try, and Ryeowook could feel his subconsciousness slipping. He blacked out before the car started to move.

The first thing Ryeowook noticed when he woke up was his aching head. Damn, that hurt like a bitch. Nothing he couldn’t handle, but it sure was painful. Hopefully, the pain would subdue after a while. The second thing Ryeowook noticed was that he was tied up to a chair. The rope around his hands was tight, but Ryeowook was sure he could untie it if he got enough time. Ryeowook tried not to stir too much as he started to come back, hoping to regain his senses before Kyuhyun or whoever who’d interrogate him started. He had an inkling it would be Kyuhyun, though, seeing as Lee Hyukjae and Yesung had mentioned taking him back to Kyuhyun. He could hear someone speak lowly in what he assumed was Korean, but Ryeowook couldn’t make out the words.

The pain faded slightly, and Ryeowook opened his eyes to see where he had been taken. It looked like some old, out of use factory or warehouse, but aside from that Ryeowook couldn’t pinpoint where he was. Which was why Lee Hyukjae had knocked him out in the first place. To confuse him, so if he tried to escape, he wouldn’t know how to navigate. Ryeowook wasn’t too worried though because he didn’t even know if he’d survive long enough to escape.

“He’s waking up,” someone said, it sounded like Shin Donghee, but Ryeowook’s senses were still a little cloudy. “Someone, go get the boss.” There were a few movements as if the room woke up alongside with Ryeowook, someone left the room, while someone stalked closer to Ryeowook, but no one did anything, until a man in a black suit, with thin white stripes, entered the room through a hallway that Ryeowook couldn’t see what it led to. Behind him was two more muscular people holding machine guns, dressed like they were his bodyguards, and they probably were. Ryeowook recognized the man immediately, Cho Kyuhyun.

“You’ve caused quite a ruckus,” the other told Ryeowook, and as he walked towards Ryeowook his footsteps echoed in the large empty concrete building. As he passed the other people, it seemed like they straightened up. As if Kyuhyun’s presence required maximal respect, it probably did. But Ryeowook only glared angrily at the approaching male. Kyuhyun didn’t look like the picture that was in his FBI file, Kyuhyun’s hair was a darker shade of brown, and he kept his hair differently, but Ryeowook had no problem recognizing him. He had to admit that Kyuhyun was better looking in reality, and faking attraction wouldn’t be a problem at all.

Kyuhyun stopped dead in his tracks when he got closer to Ryeowook, and actual got a good look at his face. Ryeowook could see his eyes widen, and he had to surpass a smirk. For a second, it seemed like Kyuhyun was at a loss of words before he regained his senses. Kyuhyun definitely found Ryeowook attractive.

“Do you know what happens to people who dare steal from me?” Kyuhyun asked as if his slight slip-up hadn’t even happened. He smirked slightly as he played with the pistol in his right hand. He only did it as a silent threat, but Ryeowook ignored the pistol until he aimed it at Ryeowook.

“They get stuffed into a black van, knocked out and kidnapped to an abandoned storehouse?” Ryeowook asked sarcastically, slowly working to tie up the knot on the rope. He couldn’t move too much to attract attention and hoped that the rest were too intrigued by their conversation to notice. Kyuhyun chuckled slightly before he aimed the pistol at Ryeowook.

“Close,” he said, “but not quite. They die.” He could hear the click of the safety go off, and Ryeowook felt his heart speed up. Adrenaline was pumping quickly through his veins. Surely, there must be possible for Ryeowook to talk himself out of this?

“C’mon, you’re a reasonable man, surely, we could negotiate?” Ryeowook tried, but it sounded weak even to his own ears. There was no way Kyuhyun would want to negotiate with Ryeowook, and there was nothing Ryeowook could offer Kyuhyun that he couldn’t attain himself.

“I’m not gonna kill you quite yet,” Kyuhyun’s smirk widened, knowing he had the upper hand. “Not until you answer some questions. If you talk, we’ll play nice. But if you decide to be more stubborn,” Kyuhyun paused, and let the gun barrel trace some parts of Ryeowook’s face. The black-haired male shuddered under the feel of the cool metal. “We might not play so nice.” The gun pressed up against his face was proof of what was to come if Ryeowook didn’t give them the information they sought.

“Alright,” Ryeowook agreed. Even though he felt weak, his voice sounded strong. “What do you want to know?”

“First of all, we’ve looked into you. I know all about you Park Ryeowook, yes, we know who you are, I know where you’ve been the past three years, I know where you live right now. I know how much money you hold in your various bank accounts, it’s not like you needed the money. Why did you take the job? Do you have a death wish?”

“Money was good,” Ryeowook replied back, his eyes didn’t leave Kyuhyun’s as he answered.

“How much?” He could feel the barrel of the gun being pressed harder into his cheek, as long as it didn’t leave a bruise Ryeowook would forgive it.

“Ten precent of the image’s worth,” Ryeowook choked out, “besides it’s a Botticelli original, it’s too good to pass up.” He smirked when he once again saw Kyuhyun slightly stunned. As if he hadn’t expected Ryeowook to have the same love for the masterpiece as himself. But Ryeowook had always had a special kind of love for Renaissance paintings, it was his favourite art epoch.

“Well, too bad you won’t have much use for the money on the other side.” Kyuhyun taunted him, but he removed the gun from Ryeowook’s face, and the black-haired counted that as a small victory, and continued on loosening the knot.

“Only if you kill me,” Ryeowook shot back, and Kyuhyun turned back to him. His face slightly too close for comfort, but Ryeowook didn’t mind as much. Kyuhyun was attractive, and Ryeowook didn’t mind studying his features. He could feel Kyuhyun’s eyes trace over his own and linger slightly too long on his lips.

“And what makes you think I won’t?” Kyuhyun questioned, his voice just slightly above whisper. It felt intimate, but at the same time, Ryeowook couldn’t help but feel conscious about the others who were present close by.

“A feeling?” Ryeowook proposed. To be honest, he didn’t know if Kyuhyun would kill him or not. Logically, he knew that Kyuhyun could and would. He had a gun in his hand, and it wouldn’t be his first time killing someone, but when Ryeowook looked into Kyuhyun’s brown eyes he couldn’t see a murderous intent. Ryeowook had been around plenty of criminals, he knew how to recognize it, and he couldn’t see it in Kyuhyun’s eyes.

Kyuhyun removed his face from Ryeowook’s, and Ryeowook missed the proximity slightly. “Here we go by stone-cold facts, not feelings. And the facts here is that you stole from me, and those who wrong me end up with a bullet in the head. Understood?” Kyuhyun asked and continued to play with his gun again. A silent reminder of who held the upper hand here.

“C’mon, you got the painting back, no harm done, right? It’s not fair you kill me for taking an item from you when you got it back,” Ryeowook tried to argue, even if it seemed like a childish argument, but Ryeowook didn’t care. Right now, he’d use every childish argument he could muster as long as it meant Kyuhyun would let him live.

“My sweet Ryeowook, do you really think the world is a fair place?” Kyuhyun purred his left hand that didn’t hold the gun caressed his cheek slightly. Maybe Ryeowook’s looks could single handle get him out of this alive? At least, if Kyuhyun continued reacting this positively to him.

“Of course not,” Ryeowook stated.

“Then you answer your own question,” Kyuhyun replied bluntly, his hand quickly disappearing from Ryeowook’s face.

“I can’t let you live, too many will think I’ve grown soft, and try to rise against me. Although, it would be a shame for a pretty face like yours to go to waste,” Kyuhyun hesitated at the end. He didn’t want to kill Ryeowook, but he felt like he had to. After all, Ryeowook had wronged him, and Kyuhyun had to settle that kind of behaviour. If he let Ryeowook live, what kind of message would that send? It would tell criminals all over Chicago that Cho Kyuhyun was losing his touch.

“It’s only a waste if you kill me,” Ryeowook shot back confident. A smirk gracing his lips when Kyuhyun’s eyes widened ever so slightly. It seemed like he liked that Ryeowook could bite back.

“You seem pretty sure that I won’t kill you for someone who’s tied to a chair,” he told Ryeowook once again swinging his gun as if it were a toy. For a second, Ryeowook stopped working on the knot in fear, but Kyuhyun didn’t comment on it any further. If only he could keep Kyuhyun talking he’d soon have it loosened.

“And you seem pretty reluctant for someone with a gun in their hand,” Ryeowook shot back, and he could hear muffled laughter from the group that was watching from afar. Ryeowook cursed himself for reminding Kyuhyun why they were there, and that the brunet could easily just kill him now, but the other only seemed amused, a small smirk gracing his lips.

“Touché,” Kyuhyun said, a bit surprised by Ryeowook’s sassy remarks. “My second question for you is, how did you do it?”

“Do what?”

“Cutting the power,” Kyuhyun clarified.

“Oh please, you think you’re the only one with powerful friends?” Ryeowook answered, without actually answering the question. He hoped that was enough because he didn’t know how to answer the question without revealing it had been the FBI’s work.

“That doesn’t answer my question Ryeowook~” Kyuhyun singsong the sentence. “Remember, we’ll only play nice if you cooperate, and Shindong here’s quite grumpy, he’s been working all night just because a certain someone stole a painting. I think he’d be more than happy to relieve some stress.”

“I called in a bunch of favours,” Ryeowook explained vaguely, but Kyuhyun didn’t look too satisfied by that answer either. The slightly flirtatious expression he’d worn shifted, and it seemed that Kyuhyun shifted interrogation tactics.

“Funny, it doesn’t seem like you want to live to me,” he taunted Ryeowook. Reminding him once again what would happen inevitably if he didn’t give them the answers they wanted.

“Of course, I do,” Ryeowook answered as if it weren’t obvious.

“Then why don’t you tell me, Ryeo-woo-kie?” he split up his name, pronouncing one syllable at the time. The way he pronounced his name almost seemed affectionate, and Ryeowook couldn’t help but shudder ever so slightly.

Ryeowook remained silent because he couldn’t reveal how he’d done it without blowing his own cover. Kyuhyun’s dark brown eyes stared into his, and his gaze didn’t waver, and Ryeowook couldn’t help but get lost in the other’s eyes. “Alright, I’ll give you a deal. I’ll let you live, if you agree to sleep with me, that’s a pretty good deal, huh?” The other asked, and raised his brows, in a way to say he knew he was irresistible.

“No,” Ryeowook answered sternly and quick. Probably too quick and his reply probably damaged Kyuhyun’s ego. He could hear the loud laughter of Lee Hyukjae in the background, but his entire focus was on the other male in front of him.

“No?” Kyuhyun repeated, probably not used to getting rejected, and he was giving Ryeowook one last chance to take back his rejection.

“No, I won’t do it,” Ryeowook repeated. He couldn’t do it, not only because he disliked selling his body. Although, it was kind of what he was doing now for the FBI. But his, hopefully, eventual relationship with Kyuhyun couldn’t start with a deal like this. They wouldn’t be equals, and Ryeowook would have no way of getting details of Kyuhyun’s mob life because the other would hold more power.

“Am I not good enough for you?” Kyuhyun asked, a bit teasingly, but he also seemed a bit curious. Probably wondering what Ryeowook’s standards were.

“That’s not it, you’re very attractive, and all that, Kyuhyun. But that’s not how I do things,” Ryeowook clarified. He refrained from saying, if we’d met at different circumstances, he wouldn’t hesitate to drag him away to somewhere private to let Kyuhyun devour him.

“Earlier you wanted to negotiate, but now you don’t want to. I don’t understand, please enlighten me Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun was teasing him again, it seemed like he liked to do that a lot.

“I’m an art thief, not a prostitute, and I don’t sell my body,” Ryeowook simply. Ryeowook could bargain easily, but he wouldn’t bed Kyuhyun just to survive. He would’ve basically flushed the entire mission down the drain.

“It’s bellow you?” Kyuhyun questioned, probably hoping to irk some kind of reaction out Ryeowook, but Ryeowook didn’t react to the brunet’s dismay.

“It’s just not how I do things,” Ryeowook repeated calmly.

“Too bad,” Kyuhyun sighed, and lifted the gun again. “I guess this is it then.” Ryeowook stared at the pistol which he was starting to grow familiar with, and then at Kyuhyun. Strangely, he felt calm. His heart didn’t speed up, and the adrenaline wasn’t pumping through his body. It might be stupid, but somehow Ryeowook felt at ease. He didn’t fear for his life. It didn’t feel like Kyuhyun was going to kill him. Again, he knew the brunet could. He held a gun, and the safety was off, and it wasn’t like Kyuhyun didn’t know how to kill. All he needed to do was pull the trigger, and a bullet would go through his head. Rationally, he knew all that.

However, he felt completely at ease. It didn’t feel like Kyuhyun was going to kill him. It didn’t feel like he was going to die. It didn’t feel like he was one of the last tunes of a song. When he stared into Kyuhyun’s chocolate brown eyes, it didn’t feel like the brunet had any murderous intent. Frankly, it seemed like the other didn’t want to see him go. Ryeowook stared fearlessly into Kyuhyun’s eyes, and he smiled slightly, he had finally loosened the rope and his hands were free, but he didn’t know if that mattered if Kyuhyun was seconds from putting a bullet in his head.

Did Ryeowook even have a decent shot for an escape? His brown eyes quickly surveyed the large open room. It was almost nothing here, some large windows, but they were barricaded in a way that they still let in light. It would take brute force to break the planks, and although Ryeowook might have what it took he’d be shot before he even made it to the windows. There were several exits, but Ryeowook couldn’t trust any of them, not knowing where they led to. If they were a dead end, he’d end up shot. Ryeowook winced slightly, most scenarios ended with him dead. He couldn’t go where Kyuhyun had entered from because the way out was heavily guarded. And it could be the only way out.

“You won’t kill me,” Ryeowook said in an attempt of buying himself time, but as he uttered those words Ryeowook realised he believed it. He didn’t think Kyuhyun would kill him. He knew that the brunet could, but when Ryeowook looked into Kyuhyun’s eyes it didn’t feel like he was staring into the eyes of death. Maybe Ryeowook’s senses were a little cloudy from being knocked out, but he whole-heartedly believed it. He didn’t know how, but it felt like he’d get out of this situation. If Kyuhyun had asked him to explain, Ryeowook wouldn’t have been able to, but something told him he’d live to see another day.

Kyuhyun’s gun didn’t waver from Ryeowook, but the taller man leant his head back to chuckle loudly. “What makes you so hellbent on that?” His smirk revealed that he thought Ryeowook was wrong, but Ryeowook only shrugged slightly. He did another survey of the room, behind him there was a metal staircase that led to a door, that seemed like it went outside. It could be Ryeowook’s only chance if he only had enough time to get to the stairs. The black-haired male was confident that he was faster than them, but he wasn’t faster than bullets. He needed some kind of distraction to get to the stairs.

“You haven’t killed me yet.” Ryeowook countered back, and Ryeowook could see Kyuhyun’s eyes crinkle. Ryeowook knew he was playing a dangerous game, one wrong word and he’d have a bullet in his head, but it wasn’t like he could shut his mouth and hope that got him out alive. He was lucky for still being alive, given Kyuhyun’s reputation it was surprising Kyuhyun hadn’t shot him yet. That alone gave Ryeowook hope that maybe, just maybe, he could get out of this alive instead of in a body bag.

“Kyuhyun-ah, are you gonna kill him or not?” Lee Hyukjae yelled at them in Korean, rudely interrupting them. Though it wasn’t much to interrupt, Kyuhyun was contemplating whether or not he should shoot Ryeowook, and Ryeowook sat in place hoping he’d favour letting him survive. However, it still felt like it was a private matter between Kyuhyun and himself. “If you don’t have the balls, I would be more than happy to it for ya.” The black-haired male came closer to them but halted waiting for Kyuhyun’s approval or dismissal.

Kyuhyun turned to Hyukjae, and his focus was away from Ryeowook. Ryeowook knew it was now or never. He couldn’t sit around and wait for a good opening because it wouldn’t come. He had to act now or find the consequences of not fleeing. He was a dead man walking either way, but this was his only shot. Quickly, before the mobster could react, Ryeowook rose from the chair and hooked his foot around Kyuhyun’s leg and pulled with force. Kyuhyun lost his balance and went tumbling to the ground, the bodyguards seemed to react a second too late as Ryeowook threw the chair their way before he started to run. The entire room seemed frozen for a few seconds, and Ryeowook didn’t hesitate to use it to his advantage as he sprinted for the metal staircase.

“What are you doing, idiots?” Kyuhyun roared, “get him!” The room jumbled in different directions, Ryeowook could hear the sound of bullets, but they didn’t hit anywhere close despite how skilled shooters Ryeowook knew how some of them could be. Ryeowook could hear a silent question of how he got loose because the knot had been tied properly. Ryeowook was up the staircase when it finally seemed like people gathered their senses and started chasing him.

The others may be skilled mobsters, but Ryeowook was a trained federal agent. They had nothing on him when it came to running. Ryeowook didn’t doubt that Shin Donghee was a better shooter than himself, but Ryeowook had spent too many missions running away being chased by criminals – running was something he could do. When he wasn’t on missions, he usually went on early morning jogs. Ryeowook could run. He was up the staircase before he knew it, and Ryeowook slammed his entire weight against the door, which broke under force. He stumbled slightly out, but he regained his footing rather quickly. He could hear bullets being shots after him, but the adrenaline was pumping through his body and couldn’t waste the time to see where the bullets hit. He knew they didn’t hit him, and that was enough.

The door out led to some kind of roof, although the building went higher than whatever floor he was currently on. It was flat and made of concrete, and Ryeowook didn’t waste time watching the view. The building seemed to be in an abandoned neighbourhood, but Ryeowook could still see the infamous skyscrapers distinctly in the background. He wasn’t too far away from the city centre, and he could easily navigate his way home – as long as he escaped. The roof was more like an outside room, as Ryeowook ran over it and turned a corner. The others were chasing him, he could hear them in the background, but as long as Ryeowook didn’t take any wrong turns he was sure he could out-run them. His brown eyes scanned the area, he was pretty high up, but he could maybe make it down if he found somewhere easier to climb. The roof seemed to come to an end, with a larger gap than what had been at the café between the roof he was standing on and where it continued again.

Sadly, Ryeowook didn’t have the time to turn and find another route, as he’d definitely meet his chaser. On the brighter side, this time Ryeowook wasn’t carrying a painting worth several billion, and he could afford a less fortunate landing. Ryeowook thanked himself for being smart enough to wear shoes he could run in before he sped up and made the jump. He’d made several jumps like this in his career as an agent, and Ryeowook doubted it would be his last time either. He flew for a few seconds, and his coat blew in the wind like a cape before Ryeowook made a not so smooth landing. At least it wouldn’t leave a bruise, unlike Hyukjae’s punch and Kyuhyun’s gun pressed against his skin. He clumsily got up and dared to check behind him to see if the others were close. He could see them in the background and sped away. The jump might have bought him some time, but Ryeowook would be a fool to think that was enough.

He ran for less than a minute before he spotted a way out, the roof led down to a lower level, and Ryeowook jumped down. He was now closer to the ground, and although he was certain that there was the existence of a ladder that could safely lead him down to the ground, the black-haired agent didn’t have the time to search for it. This was as good as it was going to get, Ryeowook told himself, before he made the jump, diving towards the cement ground. The fall was anything but gracious, and Ryeowook knew that that was going to bruise, but what was some bruises if he still was alive? It hurt in his feet and knees who’d taken most of the impact, but nothing was broken, and he was still able to run.

“Hey! Stop!” Someone yelled, and then a shot was fired, who only graced by him. Ryeowook scoffed at the stupid comment as if he’d stop just because a mobster with a gun demanded so. However, it was enough to get Ryeowook going, and he was on the run again. The factory or storehouse, or whatever it had originally been was closed off by a large fence, surely there had to be an opening somewhere, but Ryeowook didn’t know if he’d find it before Kyuhyun’s gang found him first. He didn’t have the time to search after it, but at the same time, Ryeowook couldn’t exactly stop when he was being chased. His best shot was to find the way out as he ran from Kyuhyun’s gang, and if not find somewhere to climb the fence somewhere more accessible. From what Ryeowook knew Kyuhyun’s men, or Leeteuk’s, were still on the roof, but that could quickly change. They had the upper hand here, it was more of them against one, and they probably knew the building’s layout. They could navigate easier than Ryeowook without taking unnecessary routes. They could split up and chase Ryeowook.

He needed to get away, Kyuhyun and his gang had too many advantages here. Hopefully, if Ryeowook could get away from this area Kyuhyun and his gang would stop chasing him. He could get lost in the crowd, and Kyuhyun wouldn’t waste that many resources to chase him. Hopefully.

“There he is!” Someone yelled, and Ryeowook sped up, hoping to once again disappear out of sight. He ran faster than he could ever remember having run before, and he could feel how his legs shook from the adrenaline floating through his veins. His mouth started to taste like blood, and he could feel the sweat forming droplets on his skin. The black hair was sticking to his forehead, and his clothes followed the same manner. Yet again, Ryeowook was grateful that at least he could run in his shoes. They weren’t optimal running shoes, but they worked good enough. He came to a secluded area, where the metal fence fused over to a shorter brick wall. It wasn’t the exit, but Ryeowook didn’t know if he could run away again if he happened to stumble into the mobsters. This brick wall right here was his best shot of escaping Kyuhyun’s grasp, for now.

There was no one around, and if he could just go over the wall fast enough, he could escape without the mobsters even realising before Ryeowook was too far away. Quickly, Ryeowook ran for the brick wall, but as he was about to make a jump for it, he felt something restraining him. Something held him back. Ryeowook’s head snapped back as he saw a hand gripping harshly to the fabric of his coat. How could he have missed the presence of someone else?

“Caught you,” the man uttered, and Ryeowook recognized the voice as Kyuhyun’s. He could already see the outline of Cho Kyuhyun, because of Ryeowook’s position, he couldn’t turn to face the mobster, without Kyuhyun letting go of his fabric. For a second, Ryeowook felt frozen, scared that Kyuhyun would shoot him when he was this close to escaping. “It really would be a shame to see a face as pretty as yours go,” Kyuhyun stated this time lower, and Ryeowook could feel Kyuhyun’s body lean closer to his own. His lips almost touching Ryeowook’s ear as he spoke those words; he could feel Kyuhyun’s hot breath fanning his skin. A small shiver involuntarily ran down Ryeowook’s spine.

“You know,” Kyuhyun began, “I will spare you if you agree to sleep with me, even after all you’ve done.” He spun Ryeowook around in his grip and tightened his grip on the coat, his arm loosely hanging around Ryeowook’s waist. His brown eyes stared into Ryeowook’s own brown eyes, and Ryeowook could see the lust evident in his eyes. Kyuhyun was looking at him as if he were a meal, and he was ready to devour him. They stayed silent for a while, Kyuhyun’s eyes tracing Ryeowook’s feature’s and Ryeowook stared back at Kyuhyun. Until, his senses came back to him, a few seconds later than it should’ve taken.

“That’s not how I do things,” Ryeowook repeated, before he quickly stripped off the grey coat, leaving it in Kyuhyun’s grasp, as he escaped Kyuhyun’s grip. Before Kyuhyun knew it, Ryeowook was out of his hold once again, and up the wall. Right before Ryeowook jumped over to the other side he turned to Kyuhyun and flashed him a smile. “At least buy me dinner first.” With that Ryeowook was gone, somehow the black-haired male knew Kyuhyun wouldn’t pursue him.

“It seems like the art thief escaped,” Shindong informed Kyuhyun, unaware that Kyuhyun had witnessed Ryeowook’s flight. “Maybe we underestimated him a little?” He questioned in a careful tone as if he was afraid to aggravate Kyuhyun, but Kyuhyun wasn’t all that mad Park Ryeowook had escaped. He had had the chance to shoot and kill the art thief several times, but he hadn’t done it. Even right before the other male had gone over the wall Kyuhyun could’ve pulled out his gun and shot him, but instead, he had offered to spare the other’s life once again. Maybe Park Ryeowook had been right about his feeling, Kyuhyun didn’t actually feel like killing him now that he knew the person behind the heist. “Should we pursue him?” Shindong asked, ready to take whatever order Kyuhyun was going to give.

“No, there’s no need,” Kyuhyun replied, probably shocking the older male by his reply. Shindong stood there analysing him with watchful eyes, waiting for Kyuhyun to continue. Probably expecting Kyuhyun to reveal some evil, morbid plan, but nothing followed. “We got the painting, that’s what matters.”

Shindong, cleared his throat, still looking unconvinced, “alright,” he replied when Kyuhyun remained silent.

“Good,” Kyuhyun nodded as if that were the end of it, and Shindong walked away. It didn’t surprise the brunet that Shindong left him now that he was free to go, Shindong had a busy schedule, and Kyuhyun could think of several things Leeteuk could potentially demand of the elder. Kyuhyun still wanted Shindong to secure his office to make sure the painting never could be stolen again, but that could wait.

“We’re letting him go?” Hyukjae asked as he approached Kyuhyun, he had pushed his sunglasses up in his hair, so his black hair was slightly pulled back, revealing his young face. Hyukjae had always looked like he was younger than he was, but his eyes were dark and intimidating. Hyukjae had seen too much of the world’s cruelness, and now he’d taken a liking to the cruelty. Kyuhyun only hummed as an answer, not feeling like elaborating on why he let him live.

“For now,” Kyuhyun added. This wasn’t the last he’d seen Ryeowook.

“You like him, don’t you?” Hyukjae asked, but it wasn’t actually a question, but more like an observation. “That’s his coat,” the older further noted. Kyuhyun knew how sharp and perspective Hyukjae could be, like now. Hyukjae could hit right on the mark if he wanted to. That’s why it pained Kyuhyun to see Hyukjae waste his life away on drugs and alcohol. Hyukjae was sober now, but he wouldn’t be tonight. Everyone knew it, and Jungsoo could see it, Hyukjae had potential he just wasted away. They all had their problems, but Hyukjae’s coping mechanism was the most toxic ones, and would be the death of him one day. Kyuhyun had given up on making Hyukjae quit, he’d realised Hyukjae would only quit by himself. Nothing right now served as a motivator for Hyukjae to quit, so he dwelled deeper down in the addiction.

“He piques my interest,” Kyuhyun replied. He wouldn’t say he liked the other male, but it was something about him that interesting. He was pretty, but he didn’t like him yet.

“Oh, please, watching you flirt with him made me uncomfortable,” Hyukjae retorted, and scrunched his face up in a disgusted expression, but Kyuhyun knew he was joking. “He’s totally your type,” Hyukjae continued as if Kyuhyun had recognized that himself. Of course, he knew Ryeowook was his type, that’s why he was attracted to him, “And you let him live, you were like this in New York too. I can tell when you like someone.”

“It’s a little early to like him, isn’t it?” Kyuhyun asked, and raised his brows looking at the other male, who only shrugged as an answer.

“Dunno’ I’m not good at feelings, but someone might be good for you, ya know.”

Kyuhyun sighed, he’d had this conversation yesterday. “Jungsoo and you gotta stop conspiring together,” he laughed, but his words were serious. “What about you Lee Hyukjae? You need someone who’s willing to put up with your bullshit, and make you settle.” The brunet smirked as he saw Hyukjae’s expression shift as he was caught off guard by Kyuhyun’s question.

“Fuck, I knew you’d turn this around on me,” he muttered slightly under his breath. “But please, Kyu. If someone like that exists for me, he’d be scared by watching me in action. Someone’s just meant to be a bachelor forever,” he chuckled, and Kyuhyun could see he was at peace with that outfall. However, Kyuhyun knew Hyukjae good enough to know he longed for someone, even if that desire was buried deep under his self-loathing.

Jungsoo was once again over at Kyuhyun’s house, once again staying for dinner. Usually, Jungsoo wouldn’t come over for dinner twice in the same week, much less twice in a row. However, Jungsoo had called he told Kyuhyun he had important matters to discuss, and Kyuhyun knew what that meant. It meant it couldn’t wait. Kyuhyun didn’t know what Jungsoo wanted to discuss, but he had dutifully tried to find some time where they both were free, and it usually ended up being around dinner time. This time, after Jungsoo’s request to eat a Korean dish, they were eating Dakbokkeumtang, spicy chicken stew.

“I heard you got your painting back,” Jungsoo noted, and took a bite of carrot, and Kyuhyun nodded before he swallowed. When they were alone like this, they only spoke Korean, Jungsoo valued the Korean culture more than them. The only one who valued it equally as much was Choi Siwon. He and the others saw themselves as Korean-American, but Jungsoo was first and foremost Korean.

“Yes,” Kyuhyun confirmed. Although it was hardly necessary, Yesung, Hyukjae or Shindong had told Jungsoo they had got it back, and the information Jungsoo had wasn’t wrong. Kyuhyun had gotten the picture back.

“That’s good, Kyuhyun-ah,” Jungsoo praised. “But I heard you got something else stolen from you,” Kyuhyun gave him a confused look, no one had stolen anything from him since the painting. And Kyuhyun wasn’t planning on being stolen from either. “Your heart,” Jungsoo joked and laughed at his stupid joke.

“Aish~ don’t listen to Lee Hyukjae,” Kyuhyun said, and brushed it off. “He piqued my interest, that’s all,” Kyuhyun explained, but Jungsoo didn’t look all that convinced.

“That’s more than most have in the past few years,” Jungsoo remarked before he continued, “I’d say that’s impressive.” He took a bite of the chicken, mindful about the bone before spoke again. “The food’s very good.” Kyuhyun had to refrain from sighing, of course, Jungsoo would comment on how delicious the food was when it was a Korean dish, but when they ate steak yesterday the older male hadn’t uttered a word about the meat.

“Well, just because I’m interested doesn’t mean it will amount to anything,” Kyuhyun answered, and hope that Jungsoo would pick up on the vibe, Kyuhyun wasn’t interested in talking in his not-existing love life. Just because an art thief had waltzed up in his life and was very attractive didn’t mean that Kyuhyun needed to get together with him, like the others seemed to want. Kyuhyun wasn’t one for close relationships, he’d been there and done it. He knew it was more trouble than it was worth. Relationships were time-consuming, and Kyuhyun didn’t have much time to spare. He had a business to run, and a city to co-run with Jungsoo. Kyuhyun didn’t need to take on a relationship too. Kyuhyun preferred hook-ups, they were quick, satisfactory and there were no strings attached. Hook-ups gave Kyuhyun what he needed, without a demand for giving more than what easy sex was worth. Hook-ups spared Kyuhyun the drama, and the emotional toll relationships had on him. Kyuhyun wasn’t looking for a relationship, and he was happy being single. Sure, Park Ryeowook piqued his interest, but Kyuhyun wanted to sleep with him for a night, maybe two – but he didn’t want more.

“A man like you always get what he wants,” Jungsoo commented. It went unsaid that Jungsoo was a man like that as well.

“You know, you share the same last name,” Kyuhyun finally caved in, and gave Jungsoo a small detail, but he counted it as rather insignificant. What Jungsoo without a doubt wanted to hear was why Kyuhyun had let him escape. But Kyuhyun wasn’t going to tell him unless he vocally asked about it, and he knew Jungsoo would never ask.

“Oh, I see he’s a man of quality,” Jungsoo joked before his facial expression changed to a more serious look. “Although I always enjoy our time together, Kyuhyun-ah, I didn’t call just to eat dinner with you. Sungmin finally made contact. Donghae-ah told me the second he did,” Jungsoo’s face didn’t change, and Kyuhyun knew it meant whatever was to come wasn’t good news. The blond ate more before he continued, “he’s stuck in Los Angeles for a while, he cleared up with the Russians, of course.” Jungsoo reassured him, but Kyuhyun wasn’t one to doubt people’s ability if he knew them well. There was never a doubt in his mind that Sungmin wouldn’t be successful. “The money is coming our way as we speak. Siwon will have it within a few days.”

“Do we know why Sungmin-hyung made contact just now? And why he’s stuck in Los Angeles?” Kyuhyun asked, and Jungsoo smirked. Kyuhyun had asked the right questions, but Kyuhyun was too smart not to pick up those obvious details.

“I’m afraid it cooks down to the same problem, Sungmin-ah was shot in the foot,” and Kyuhyun felt his expression change. He must’ve looked mortified since Jungsoo was quick to reassure him, “it’s nothing serious, but it’s a slight drawback. Sungmin will live, but he’s decided to stay at the hotel until he can walk properly and defend himself in case the Russians want him.”

“Do we know he’s safe at the hotel?” Kyuhyun asked. If Sungmin was in such a bad condition that he couldn’t walk, he wouldn’t be able to protect himself if someone came for him at the hotel. Maybe they could send someone down to guard Sungmin until he got better? Even though the older would hate that.

“Of course,” Jungsoo answered as if Kyuhyun had asked a stupid question. “He’s staying at my hotel, after all.” They ate in silence for almost a minute; Kyuhyun refrained from saying anything because he that the blond mob leader had more to say. “My main concern isn’t Sungmin, he’ll be okay. He always is. My main concern is Operation Phoenix, I need Sungmin for the main part, so we either have to reschedule, and wait for him to get better. Or we need to find someone equally as skilled who we can trust. Sadly,” Jungsoo continued, “I can’t think of anyone to replace Sungmin, but we’re already running low on time.” Jungsoo folded his hands, and his brown eyes pierced into Kyuhyun’s own, hoping the youngster maybe could hold some answers.

“I might know someone who can do it,” Kyuhyun smirked, as a certain black-haired male came to mind. “I’m quite sure he wouldn’t dream of declining my offer.”