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The door opened, and the jingling of his keys made an uncomfortable loud sound, but it could be that Ryeowook was tired, and every sound seemed exaggerated. The black-haired male didn’t bother to find out whether or not his keys always made such loud rattling noise or if he imagined it. He hadn’t touched those keys in months, and small details like that were always the first to slip from memory. His mind might not remember minor details like that, but his body remembered his routine and Ryeowook moved almost robotic. Tossing the keys on the counter in the hall, closing and locking the door. One hand loosened the tie around his neck, while he kicked off his shoes.

God, it was good to finally be home. His small D.C apartment smelled cramped, but that was to be expected. He hadn’t lived here since February; it was now mid-May. A dejected sigh left his lips as he remembered that all his plants were probably dead by now. That too was to be expected. Ryeowook didn’t know why he even bothered buying plants when he knew most of them ended up dying. The lack of care usually got them if the cold didn’t do it. Logically, Ryeowook knew as a field agent for the FBI, especially an undercover agent as he specialized in, would spend long periods of time away from home and couldn’t possibly care for plants. And Ryeowook didn’t trust anyone in the area enough to let them roam in his apartment when he was away. However, the lack of greenery always brought a depressing mood to his apartment.

His brown eyes looked down on his wristwatch although Ryeowook had a pretty good idea what it would show. The black-haired male wasn’t surprised when it showed it was over midnight. Ryeowook was deadbeat and could probably sleep for days. Sleep was definitely needed. The last couple of months he’d spent in San Francisco on a particularly tough drug bust – as an infiltrated member of the gang sleep hadn’t usually been a problem. However, the weeks leading up to the bust had been particularly hard. Ryeowook had been working double as a federal agent and a drug dealer. All the sneaking around and keeping a low profile had stressed him out so much that when Ryeowook finally had some hours to spare he would usually lie restless until exhaustion hit him. The SFPD hadn’t been very understanding, which was fair because they all wanted to take the drug ring down. However, they failed to consider that Ryeowook was one man and very human. Which to some police officers almost seemed like an alien concept.

It was good to finally be home. His suitcase stood in the hallway, and Ryeowook had no intention of touching it before daylight came. The same went for his dead plants, he wouldn’t do anything about it before he had a good night's sleep and probably some coffee in him. With that in mind, Ryeowook went straight for his bedroom. The apartment was chillier than when he left it, but it didn’t take a genius to figure out why that would be. Luckily, Ryeowook had missed the last winter weather and the harsh spring weather – and summer was approaching. Meaning that although his apartment was a bit cold, it wasn’t unliveable. Ryeowook didn’t feel like turning on the heater.

Usually, Ryeowook cared enough about his clothes, especially an expensive suit like this one, to treat it better, but the black-haired male was too tired to care. As soon as he’d stripped off the suit he went straight to bed. His last thought was that the suit would survive a night on the floor before he drifted to sleep.

He woke up too fucking early. Ryeowook couldn’t tell what the time was, by the light peaking through his curtains he knew it was morning. But for someone who’d just flown from San Francisco to D.C after working overtime with little sleep to bust a drug ring – it was too fucking early. Usually, Ryeowook wouldn’t have woken at this ungodly hour, he hadn’t even set an alarm with the purpose of sleeping in. However, someone – someone who should a really good reason to call, or they may find themselves on the bottom of the ocean before they could apologize – had decided to call him.

Irritated Ryeowook snapped the phone from his nightstand and looked at the caller ID, it was a secret number. So, it was the bureau. Usually, the FBI had a probable cause for calling, but Ryeowook found himself fuming, nonetheless. He was on leave, he had a vacation for two weeks. Two whole weeks Ryeowook intended on spending as far away from work as possible. Vacation time was sacred, and Ryeowook hadn’t even been gone for 24 hours. He didn’t care if the president himself needed Ryeowook they could find someone else or wait two weeks.

“Special agent Kim?”

“Speaking,” he barked out, not even bothering to sugar-coat it. They, whoever they were, had called Ryeowook on his leave, so they would have to deal with his crankiness.

“This is special agent Walker talking from the D.C office,” the man greeted him with a pleasant tone, and Ryeowook found himself huffing. “We’d like you to come in for a meeting this afternoon,” he continued, and Ryeowook felt like someone had punched him in the gut. He couldn’t believe what he was hearing. He was on vacation, he wasn’t supposed to have meetings, phone calls, or whatever for two weeks.

“Does it have anything to do with San Francisco?” Ryeowook carefully asked. The only reason Ryeowook would use his vacation time to do work was if it was tied to his previous mission. However, he highly doubted it. Once the arrestations had gone down, and they’d taken down the drug ring he doubted there were any loose ties remaining. The SFPD would gladly take it from here. Ryeowook wasn’t blind to how the local police hadn’t liked the FBI’s presence.

“I don’t know anything about the San Francisco situation, however, -…” the man began, but Ryeowook didn’t let him continue.

“No,” Ryeowook declined.

“Agent Kim this is important,” the poor agent began, but Ryeowook wasn’t one to change his mind.

“And I’m on vacation, fuck this! I just got back, I haven’t even had one day off, and you want me back in the field? Fuck no. With all due respect, I’ll decline that not-so-tempting offer. I don’t care if the president himself calls me, I’m on vacation, and if you need me, I’ll be available in two weeks. If not, find somebody else.”

“Agent Kim,” Agent Walker tried again, “we really need you to-…” but Ryeowook wasn’t having it, he interrupted the agent again.

“What I need is a few days away from work, and that’s exactly what I intend to do. I’m on leave, talk to my supervisor, I have two weeks off, goodbye.” With that Ryeowook hung up. He finally had a look at the clock and he could feel the irritation against Agent Walker grow. The nerve to call someone at seven in the morning. It was way too fucking early, so Ryeowook went back to bed.

When Ryeowook woke up again it was a much more manageable hour to wake up, the clock was almost eleven, but Ryeowook didn’t mind as much. He was after all on vacation, he could sleep in for two weeks, and he was going to do it. He never knew what his next cover would be, and Ryeowook usually never lucked out.

His apartment still smelled cramped, and it was a little cold, but Ryeowook would deal with that later. He lazily slung a robe around him before he walked straight to the kitchen. Coffee first, and then he’d decide his agenda for the day. As the coffee basically cooked itself, Ryeowook opened a window in the kitchen and one in the living room that would help for the smell.

Once with caffeine in his system Ryeowook felt slightly better and more prepared to handle what might come his way. Although the most exciting thing that seemed to be coming his way would be unpacking his luggage and taking a shower. The day was spent doing small things like that, throwing out his plants, taking a shower, cleaning out his luggage, doing laundry, and some general cleaning. When his phone started vibrating again, Ryeowook wasn’t surprised to see that the caller ID was his mother. He had been expecting a call from her ever since he sent her a text that he landed in D.C and was back in town for two weeks.

“Ryeowook sweetheart,” she greeted him in her normal chirpy voice, but Ryeowook found himself wondering if she sounded happier because she hadn’t heard from him in a long time. His parents were like any other parents proud of their son, proud of him being a federal agent, but like any other parent, his mother hated the months of no contact and the constant secrecy. She was constantly urging him to find someone to settle down with and find a calm desk job. What she didn’t seem to get was that the adrenaline was part of the reason why Ryeowook had gone for this exact job.

“Hey mom,” he greeted her back. It was good hearing her voice, the bust in San Francisco had taken longer than he liked, and he’d been away for months. His parents were used to it by now, but as their only child, they couldn’t help but worry. Especially with his line of work. Ryeowook never told them anything to keep them safe from it, but that didn’t stop imagination from running wild.

“It’s so good to finally hear from you,” she exclaimed, and there was a quiet rustling from her side of the line. If Ryeowook was to take a guess he’d assume she put the phone on speaker so his father could hear him too. “It’s been too long.” She continued, and Ryeowook could hear that his long silence had bothered her. Ryeowook knew that she didn’t mean to guilt him, but Ryeowook could help but feel guilty, nonetheless. After all, he’d chosen the line of profession himself, and he loved his job – apart from the constant no-contact with the outside world.

“I know, ma,” Ryeowook felt himself sigh, “it took longer than expected,” was all Ryeowook said, and even though he wanted to tell her more they both knew it was safer if he didn’t. She didn’t know exactly what he did, and if she did, she’d only worry more.

“Where were you this time?” She asked before she caught herself. “Sorry, I know you can’t tell me. I just … I just wish there was a way of me knowing that you’re safe,” she said, and Ryeowook couldn’t imagine what his mother felt. He loved his job, but he had to see things from his parents' perspective too. Who wanted to see their child only a few times a year – not knowing if that included the holidays? And whenever he was on a mission they never knew if he was safe or not. It was hard to be hard as a parent. Every parents’ dream for their child was a safe, stable life; Ryeowook’s life wasn’t exactly that although the salary was good.

“I always come back in one piece, don’t I?” Ryeowook answered because there was no other way to answer her. What words of reassurance could magically make her feel better. Except for something along the lines of ‘I’ve quit my job.’

“Honey, I know it’s just …” She paused for a little while, “when are you going to settle down?” There it was. The typical question. When was he going to find someone, and settle down with them? When were they going to adopt, get a dog, and live in a suburban area with a green grass lawn they trimmed every weekend, arranged barbeques for the neighbors with a white fence surrounding their house? Ryeowook’s mother wanted the all-American lifestyle for him; regardless if he wanted it himself.

“Mom,” Ryeowook tried, but she either didn’t hear his complaining tone or didn’t care.

“Wookie, c’mon, you’re not getting any younger,” she began, and Ryeowook was forced to huff. He wasn’t getting younger; that much was true – however, he wouldn’t call twenty-five old. However, when his mom was his age she was married, had a house, and was expecting him. Their lives couldn’t be more different. However, Ryeowook didn’t want a life like that, if he had; he’d settled a long time ago.

“I want grandkids, and I want to see you get married,” she continued, disregarding Ryeowook’s silence completely.

“Well, there’s not much time meeting people in the field,” Ryeowook replied darkly, hoping his mother would understand that would be the end of this discussion. Obviously, just for now because she’d bring it up next time either way.

“Ryeowook, honey, if you’d just quit your job-…”

“I don’t want to quit my job,” Ryeowook interrupted her, not caring if he was a bit rude and harsh. His mother stayed silent on the other line, and Ryeowook’s voice softened. “Mom, I’m sorry, it’s just that … I like my work, okay? I like my job, and I don’t want to quit it just yet, maybe in a few years.” The last part is a lie, but it made his mother hum pleased. Ryeowook had no intention of quitting unless he got severely injured or found a new equally exciting profession. The idea of quitting for someone he loved was romantic and all, but Ryeowook was realistic enough to know that he didn’t have much time to meet people with his line of work, dating much less seemed impossible. He had a hard enough time keeping up with his old friends.

The line went silent for a moment, but it didn’t bother Ryeowook much. He wouldn’t budge on the matter, and his mother wouldn’t stop wishing for grandkids and a safe, settled life for him.

“When are you coming over for dinner?” She asked, and Ryeowook was grateful for the change of subject. The only reason Ryeowook endured her nagging was because he knew she meant well, that and he went without it when he was undercover. Usually, he wasn’t undercover most of the year, maybe a few months to six months, there were surprisingly many papers to fill, and hours sitting in front of a desk at the FBI. However, when Ryeowook was so busy with work he hardly had time for his parents even when he was in the same state as them.

“I can come today?” He asked her, even if she was the one to ask.

“That’s fine dear,” she replied instantly, her good mood already picking up.

The dinner went fine, it was exactly like Ryeowook expected. It was kind of nice, his life was an endless roller-coaster of ups and downs, flying across the country and taking up fake identities, but the Kims' family dinner would remain the same until they’d cease to exist. His mother berated him for not settling down, while his father tried to not mention the fact that his only son was gay. They hadn’t exactly disowned him when he came out to them, but they pretended that it was a phase for his entire college years. When they realised that sexuality wasn’t a choice his mother had decided that Ryeowook could still get the all-American lifestyle, while his father tried not to mention it.

Ryeowook was pretty sure his father was secretly glad he’d never brought a boyfriend home, not to mention a fiancé. Everything was going fine until Ryeowook’s phone started ringing in the middle of his father’s tale about his recent car chase. His father was a police officer, and quite proud Ryeowook had taken the same career path as himself, although Ryeowook knew he rather hoped Ryeowook would rather go into the police field and not become a federal agent. From an outsider’s perspective, some would say Ryeowook had gone further than his father, but his father seemed to believe that there was more honour being an officer of the law.

“I’m sorry I have to take this,” Ryeowook excused himself, and went out of the living room, to the porch just to assure himself that his parents didn’t listen to his call. He could recognize his boss’ number, and he winched slightly. Whoever had called him in the morning had apparently decided to call his supervisor.

“Clark,” Ryeowook greeted with fake joy. “How are you?” Ryeowook knew there was no use beating around the bush, but if he was being called in on his vacation time, then he’d make them work for it.

Clark addressed the issue himself though, “Not good, I heard that an agent of mine refused to come down to the office. Agent Walker said you weren’t quite willing or cooperative earlier,” he began, his voice obviously displeased.

“To my defence he called at seven AM on my vacation time,” Ryeowook made sure to emphasize the important words, “I just got home from a bust. Yesterday.

“I agree he should’ve called later, but Kim this is fucking embarrassing,” Clark continued to curse him out, “Walker asked for my best agent, and this is the impression you leave on him.”

“I’m sorry sir,” Ryeowook began, but he never got to continue his sentence. His boss clearly deciding that whatever Ryeowook was going to say was unimportant.

“You need to meet them at the D.C office, tomorrow,” Clark left no room for argument, but Ryeowook couldn’t help but huff and complain, nonetheless.

“But I’m on leave!”

“Kim! Walker just flew down from Chicago for this, we wouldn’t be here if it wasn’t important,” his supervisor began, “we wouldn’t be calling you in if there was anyone else who could do the job.” Flatter got Clark nowhere, Ryeowook wasn’t dumb enough to fall for such traps. However, he understood the severity of the situation. If anyone else could’ve done it, they wouldn’t be pulling Ryeowook back in the field, and it was clearly too important to let it slide for a few weeks.

“Fine,” Ryeowook sighed, “I’ll come by tomorrow,” he promised. It was a good thing Ryeowook hadn’t bought new plants yet.

“Good, be there ten AM sharp,” with that, Clark ended the phone call, and Ryeowook was left standing alone on the porch in the cold night breeze. The black-haired male stood there for a few minutes admiring the city. He had a feeling he’d leave in a few days and let himself admire the city for a few minutes. Considering Clark had mentioned that Walker flew down from Chicago, he assumed that whatever mission he’d have to do would be foregoing there. Which was okay with Ryeowook, he’d had enough of the heat from San Francisco. Hopefully, whatever mission he’d have to would take less time than the San Francisco one.

It was a nice evening out, the sky was clear, and if there had been less light pollution Ryeowook assumed he’d be seeing plenty of stars by now.

“Ryeowook,” it was his father who came to check on him. “Are you okay?” he asked, and looked at his younger son, he smiled slightly when he saw Ryeowook wasn’t on the phone.

“Yeah, it was just … work,” Ryeowook settled on.

“Anything to do with your previous mission?” His father made such assumptions because he had experience in the same field. His mother didn’t, she would’ve asked what they wanted straight out. His father always understood the secrecy, and why Ryeowook couldn’t tell anything better than his mother. He also didn’t nag him about settling down.

“No,” Ryeowook admitted sheepishly, his eyes looked to the ground not daring to meet his father’s eyes. “Actually, they want me in the office tomorrow,” he confessed.

“But …” his father began startled, “but Wookie, you just got back,” his father continued. “Your mother won’t be happy about this.”

“I know,” Ryeowook admitted. His father acted as if Ryeowook wanted this when none of this was his doing. Obviously, Ryeowook wouldn’t want to cut his vacation short, but what other choice did he have? He could either take the job or quit. One of these options would’ve pleased his mother. “I don’t have much choice though,” he continued. “They need me, and I can’t decline.”

“I understand,” his father smiled sadly and clapped his shoulder. “I just wish … I just wish you didn’t have to leave all the time. Ryeowook, you just got back. At least, if you told us where you were, or called in sometimes, we’d know you were safe. Not knowing … is worse.”

“I know this is hard for you and mom, but you know I can’t tell you where I am, or call,” Ryeowook felt tears well slightly up in his eyes. His job was slowly tearing up their family. There was a reason why most agents either switched professions, got divorced, or never established a family. Undercover agents – like him – had a hard time settling down when they always were on the move.

“Just be careful out there, alright?”

Ryeowook nodded, not daring to speak up. He was pretty sure that if he chose to say something his voice would crack, and he’d end up crying. His father pulled him in for a hug, and Ryeowook melted into the touch. It felt almost like old days when Ryeowook was little and scared of the dark, and his father would come to soothe him. He cried silently into his father’s shoulder, wetting his shirt ever so slightly. In all his years, he’d never really grown taller than his father. Not that either of his parents was any tall, making Ryeowook just slightly taller than 170 centimeters.

“Will you be home for your birthday?” his father asked hoping that this year they would be able to celebrate Ryeowook’s birthday.

“I hope so,” Ryeowook answered, his voice strained. However, they both knew that he most likely wouldn’t. Ryeowook would probably celebrate his 26th birthday alone in Chicago.

Ten AM sharp the next morning Ryeowook had parked his car outside the office and was walking towards the building. The air was cold and fresh, as to be expected of early May. It wasn’t cold enough to freeze his ass off, but cold enough for it to be noticeable before the sun really started kicking in.

Clark was already there by the entrance which Ryeowook found a little odd, but he didn’t question it. If the older agent was there, it meant that whatever mission they wanted Ryeowook on was important. Not that Ryeowook didn’t know that before, but this was starting to look like the FBI was bringing out the big guns, Ryeowook couldn’t help but wonder what this time’s mission would be. Drug bust? It could be, knowing Chicago’s history, but it felt like it was something else. Something of more importance.

“Kim,” Clark greeted him by the door, his signature three-piece, grey suit already on. Ryeowook had never been one for working in a suit unless it was necessary, a nice shirt and a pair of trousers would do as he was wearing now. The black shirt with white stripes along with the black trousers looks casual yet professional. Ryeowook could fit in about everywhere without anyone batting an eye at him. Just as he liked it. Clark on the other hand looked more professional, but there were certain places where Clark couldn’t go without looking out of place.

“Clark,” Ryeowook greeted back and smiled slightly at his supervisor. The older grey-haired man handed him a cup of coffee, and Ryeowook took it. Despite being awake for several hours already, Clark knew that.

“If we’re lucky, it’s gonna be brief,” the older man joked, revealing his smiling wrinkles around his eyes. Joseph Clark was at the end of his 40s, but his once dark-brown hair had started to grey, and there were wrinkles in his skin that didn’t use to be there. Ryeowook would necessarily call him old, but he was older. He was starting to look older.

“Things like these are never brief,” Ryeowook answered, not really in the mood to joke. He took a sip of his warm coffee; after all the years he’d worked with Clark, the older man still didn’t know how Ryeowook took his coffee. Ryeowook didn’t like sweet coffee, black coffee was just fine, with creamer if possible. But sugar? Ryeowook would rather pass. Clark seemed to have made the coffee for Ryeowook just as he himself preferred it, black, two cubes of sugar.

“You’re right,” Clark said, his voice a little defeated before he adjusted his glasses. Thick black frames, they looked outdated. Something people would wear in the 80s, his glasses weren’t more than a year old probably, but Clark wasn’t the type to go for a new fashion statement when he needed new glasses. For the four years Ryeowook had worked for the FBI, three years with Clark as his supervisor the man had always worn the same pair of glasses. Older pictures of Clark revealed that he never changed the glasses frame. It looked like Clark had bought a pair of glasses in the 80s and stuck to the same frame for all these years.

They walked through the building towards a conference room and made idle small talk. However, Clark seemed tired; if Ryeowook were to take a guess the older man was pulled out from his free time too. From what little Ryeowook knew about Clark he was a family man, and he probably wanted to be back with his wife and kids. Clark had, unlike Ryeowook, time for family and settling down. As a supervisor, he wasn’t much in the field, and that seemed to suit the older man perfectly. Interrogations, meetings, and paperwork seemed to be Clark’s forte.

Inside the room a man was already seated, he looked younger than Clark, but Ryeowook assumed he was between his late thirties or early forties. His hair was sand-blond, but it was starting to thin several places, he was wearing a brown suit, with a black-tie. The look he sent Ryeowook was rather nasty, but Ryeowook didn’t blame he had been rude on the phone. That didn’t mean Ryeowook forgave, who he presumed was agent Walker, as he shot him a strained smile.

“He will do nicely,” another man said as he entered the room just after Ryeowook and Clark. Unlike the other man, this one looked younger and was wearing a dark suit, his blue tie half-undone. He had dark-haired curls, but cold blue eyes matching the tie. Despite the cold eyes, he looked kinder than the seated man. He was carrying two mugs of coffee, and placed one in front of the other agent before he got seated right next to the other man.

“Do nicely?” Ryeowook asked puzzled, “what does that mean?”

“Oh, sorry,” the man in the man in the dark suit apologized, “I was under the impression that Clark had already briefed you,” he shot Ryeowook an apologetic smile, and Ryeowook smiled slightly in return, not knowing how else he was going to reply to the gesture.

“No one’s told me anything except for getting my ass down here, on my vacation time,” Ryeowook added the last detail as a reminder that technically he still had twelve vacation days to go.

“Why don’t you take a seat,” Clark suggested, as he closed the door. “We’ll fill you in shortly. Agent Walker,” he pointed at the seated man in the brown suit, “and agent Morris” Clarke pointed at the man with the two coffee cups. “meet agent Kim,” Clark said and got the necessary introduction over and done with.

“Yes, I remember,” the older man began a bit tense, “we spoke on the phone.” There was an edge to his words as if he either was trying to hurt Ryeowook or remind him there was bad blood between them. Ryeowook wanted to scoff at Walker’s behaviour. If he wanted to be petty, he should at least have better sense than to call someone less than twelve hours after a bust; especially seven in the morning.

Ryeowook stiffly shook Walker’s hand followed by Morris’s hand, before he took a seat, still holding that god-awful coffee. His plan was to let it go cold, so he could ignore the beverage altogether. He appreciated Clark’s kind gesture to bring him coffee, but he should at least try to get his coffee right. They’d worked together for three years, they were the FBI, they were supposed to pick up on small things like that.

“I guess there’s no use beating around the bush, we all know why we’re here,” Clark began, as he took a seat next to Ryeowook. The two Chicago agents on one side, the two D.C agents on the other. “Walker, why don’t you brief the mission?” The older asked as he did a hand gesture towards Walker.

“Meet your next assignment,” Walker clicked on a controller and the TV on the wall flashed on, a PowerPoint already on full screen. “Cho Kyuhyun.” A picture of a handsome young Asian man appeared on the screen. Judging by the name, Ryeowook would guess Korean. His hair was dark brown, kept in a messy, yet stylish way. His eyes were dark even if he was smirking in the picture – the smile didn’t quite reach his eyes. It was a portrait photo, cut right above his chest. But Ryeowook could see his broad shoulders and the expensive suit. He was handsome enough to draw attention to himself, if Ryeowook had met this Cho Kyuhyun in a bar it would be enough to make his head turn.

“Sub-ordinate of Leeteuk’s clan, head of his own clan, he’s practically running Chicago’s underworld at the moment,” Walker continued.

“Wait, he’s a sub-ordinate of Leeteuk’s clan, yet he has his own?” Ryeowook questioned. He’d heard of Leeteuk and his clan before, not much, just snippets from other groups in other cities, but most of them weren’t either willing to talk or didn’t know much.

“It’s a complicated relationship, we’ll get to that,” agent Morris reassured him.

“Chicago used to be split between the Italian and the Irish mafia, it’s been that way since … well before Prohibition really. Well, ever since Leeteuk arrived the city he’s been playing it smart and took out the two families. Leeteuk’s gang used to sell weapons, they were small fish. Now, they run just about everything. If they don’t like the way you do it in the city, they take you out. Even the gangs know they’re no match on Leeteuk and his clan,” Walker continued his briefing.

“Leeteuk, I presume that’s an alias and not his real name,” Ryeowook began and got confirmation from Clark. Morris filled in to say they still didn’t know Leeteuk’s real identity. “He took out two old-time mafia groups? How?”

“We’re still not sure,” Morris began, “but word on the street is that he played them up against each other, Leeteuk and his kind presumably sided with the Italians who took out the Irish, and during the celebrations, they took out the Italians themselves. Now there’s no competition left to challenge Leeteuk’s gang. The Koreans run everything now.”

Ryeowook had to admit he was a little impressed, he couldn’t believe that this Leeteuk-persona managed to wipe out two influential families just like that. “I didn’t think that was possible. Old families usually don’t engage in mob-wars, they tend to be more careful.”

“Well, Leeteuk changed all that,” Walker answered. Ryeowook studied the picture of the Korean male, if Leeteuk was the leader why would his next mission be Leeteuk’s sub-ordinate?

Ryeowook decided to ask as much. “If Leeteuk’s the leader, why is Cho Kyuhyun my next mission?”

“Ah, so you caught up on that,” Clark commented as if it wasn’t obvious at all.

“Good question,” Morris began, taking a sip of his coffee before continuing. “From what we’ve gathered, Leeteuk’s a careful man. The way he runs the underworld of Chicago, and how he came to power all spoke of that. We’ve tried multiple times to infiltrate his gang, but he’s very … closed off. Hardly requits new members. Leeteuk’s closest circle consists of six people, and from what we’ve gathered that circle has never grown or gotten smaller. It’s practically impossible to get an in, even old friends and business partners say as much. Leeteuk’s way too paranoid, with good reason, however, it’s impossible to get any good information without being in the inner circle.”

Morris took a break, to catch his breath before he continued. “Think of Leeteuk as the king, and his inner circle his counselors, if we want the information you’ll have to be at the hearings, and the only people who have permission to be there is the higher-ups. A guard, even a skilled one, won’t get anything useful. Maybe some bits and pieces every few months but not enough for it to be worth it or take Leeteuk’s group down.”

“Besides,” Walker added, “word on the street is that Leeteuk already got someone.”

Ryeowook furrowed his eyebrows, “got what?” he asked visibly confused. Sadly, his question was ignored, only Clark gave him a small motion of recognition. However, Ryeowook knew that motion meant, ‘we’ll address that later.’p/> “I think you understand that getting close to Leeteuk, not just his inner circle, will be nearly impossible,” Morris said, looking at Ryeowook. The black-haired agent only nodded in answer. “That’s why we want you to infiltrate Cho Kyuhyun, he’s an unofficial second in command, but his relationship with Leeteuk is quite … rocky. We don’t know much about their relation, but a previous intel said they’d fight quite a lot, and that’s one of the reasons why Kyuhyun is in charge of his own gang. Kyuhyun doesn’t deal well with authority.”

“So, you want me to get close to the cocky, power-hungry second in command?” Ryeowook question, but no one answered him. Instead, Walker shifted slightly and turned back to the presentation.

“Cho Kyuhyun, twenty-five years old. Has no known close family ties, which goes for most of Leeteuk’s inner circle. That’s probably why they’re so loyal to each other and Leeteuk. The FBI has tried to turn some of them to no avail. He went to Columbia University and he met Leeteuk in New York, we’re unsure where Leeteuk met everyone, but it seems that during Kyuhyun’s four-year study period Leeteuk’s inner circle was formed, and they all went with him back to Chicago. We think some might have joined right after Leeteuk got established in Chicago. However, because we don’t know everyone’s identity it’s hard to say.”

Ryeowook found himself surprised and raised his eyebrows. A mobster who attended ivy league? It wasn’t unheard of, but quite strange. Mobsters usually didn’t see the point of getting a degree, unless they were trying to distance themselves from the mobster culture.

“He has an impeccable record, a GPA of 3.9 and he received a bachelor’s degree in Economics,” Walker continued. Cho Kyuhyun was in other words something else. Ryeowook could already get a picture of the man, he was intelligent, almost frighteningly so, and that made him arrogant. Usually, mobsters were arrogant, but not in the same way Ryeowook suspected Cho Kyuhyun would be. Mobsters, usually, were simple-minded, they were arrogant because they had power, a gun in their hand, and money in their bank. They were arrogant because they had objects that made them powerful. Kyuhyun would be arrogant because he was powerful. He could outsmart others, and he was probably proud of his intellect. If that was the case, which Ryeowook suspected, that meant he had fights with Leeteuk about how to run the business. Not because Kyuhyun was power-hungry, as Ryeowook first had thought, but because he disagreed on how to run the business.

Which was probably why he had his own sub-unit. Because although he could stand being a subordinate, he didn’t like going against what he deemed as the best solution. However, if Kyuhyun was willing to work for someone like Leeteuk it meant Leeteuk was an intelligent man. However, they had different ways of working. If Ryeowook were to guess, Kyuhyun was more impulsive, and Leeteuk was more calculating. Which could work, but if the leader were unwilling to take risks, and the subordinates were like a loaded gun ready to fire; that could cause conflicts.

“If Kyuhyun’s record is clean, why do we know so much about him?” Ryeowook asked out loud, and how could they tie him to Leeteuk?

“After New York, he went to Chicago and started an IT company, now he’s the CEO of a renowned company, that is only a façade to white-wash his wealth, of course. In Chicago he’s a very public person, donates to charity, attends galas, and appears frequently in the tabloid news. Think of him as Bruce Wayne, eligible bachelor, rich, CEO, but instead of the hero that protects the city, he’s the villain,” Morris said, drawing another allusion. Ryeowook was getting a growing suspicion that Morris loved allusions like that.

“So, like Lex Luthor?” Ryeowook asked, but his question went uncommented. Ryeowook had a feeling that the other members of the room weren’t that into D.C comics to know villains like Luthor.

“Leeteuk, and Kyuhyun for that matter, got their finger down in every deal that goes down in the city, but Leeteuk is never personally involved so we can’t touch him. And Kyuhyun, though he’s involved he’s way too smart for us to have any evidence that holds. If we want to take down Leeteuk and his gang, we have to take them down now.” Walker stopped to take a sip of his coffee before he sat the blue FBI coffee cup down. “Rumour is that Leeteuk’s looking to set up a second base in Miami, to get closer to Cuba. Once the mob expands the business to Miami, we’ll never get them out again. A direct supply line from the Mexico Gulf to Chicago, run by the same family, is frankly a terrifying idea. With Leeteuk’s brains and Kyuhyun’s ruthlessness, the result could be catastrophic. We can’t let them get to Miami or Cuba.”

“Alright,” Ryeowook started, “I see the urgency. What I don’t understand is why it has to be me. The Bureau has plenty of qualified people, you don’t need to cut my leave short and put a tired agent on the case.”

Morris and Walker shared looks silently communicating. It seemed that none of them wanted to tell Ryeowook the reason, and Ryeowook forced himself not to cringe – if they didn’t want to tell him it could only mean bad news. In the end, Walker sighed and pressed on the controller revealing a new slide, there were several pictures of Kyuhyun paired up with several boys. They all things in common though, they were all undoubtedly Asian, shorter than him, and pretty. Very pretty.

Oh, now everything made sense.

That’s why Ryeowook would do nicely, and why rumour was why Leeteuk already had someone. Because by getting close to Kyuhyun, they meant being his love interest. There were few openly gay agents in the FBI, most people preferred to hide their sexuality, not mixing work with private life. Even less who fit for deep cover work, and if they wanted someone Asian and pretty the pickings were slim. Ryeowook wouldn’t necessarily call himself pretty, he preferred the term attractive, but it wasn’t like he hadn’t heard the term being used to describe himself before,

“Whose idea was this?” He glared at the three males, hoping their facial expressions would reveal something, but everyone’s faces were like stone.

“Obviously, the fact that you speak Korean and Chinese was a part of why you were chosen,” Clark began speaking. He was a brave soul for taking the word, even braver for lying to Ryeowook. His language skills were nothing but a nice afterthought. Sure, it came in handy, but they would’ve chosen him anyway.

Ryeowook greeted his teeth in aggregation, “I don’t think this will work.”

“What you don’t think you’re pretty enough?” Walker challenged him, with an eyebrow raised to taunt him.

“I’m good-looking enough, thanks, but I think I’m a little too old for him. He seems to prefer them younger. Not to mention, he’s way too smart for me to just waltz up to him and start flirting,” Ryeowook replied dryly.

“I don’t the age thing will matter when he sees you,” Morris noted, which made Ryeowook feel very uncomfortable. “Besides, the age gap is less than a year.”

“Meet Kang Doyun,” the screen flashed to show another Korean male. He was pretty, slim, and had a dark vibe around him. Something that screamed, I might look innocent, but I’m not. “Kyuhyun’s only known boyfriend. They dated for a year when he was in Columbia before Mister Kang moved to LA. He’s intelligent, confident, fierce, and doesn’t mind breaking the law. Sounds like somebody you know?” Walker raised an eyebrow and smiled confidently.

“I don’t break the law,” Ryeowook grumbled. He had a feeling they already decided on a cover for him, which aggregated Ryeowook. Ryeowook did his own homework, he built up his own covers, and he was damn careful about it. He tailored his covers to fit the assignment, and Ryeowook wanted to keep it that way. Especially if he was about to whore himself out for the FBI.

“No,” Walker began, a teasing smile evident on his features. “But one of your old covers did.” The screen flashed, and Ryeowook immediately recognized the picture. It was a security camera picture of him from three years ago, his first deep cover mission. It had been in Seattle and had barely been successful. People had grown suspicious of Ryeowook’s partner, setting both Ryeowook and himself in danger. Since then, Ryeowook had opted to work alone.

“You remember Ryeowook Park?” Walker asked with a sly grin. Ryeowook wanted to scoff but refrained from doing so. Of course, he remembered his own cover, from his first deep cover mission. Who wouldn’t?

“It’s perfect,” Morris chimed in, “if we introduce someone new it’s going to raise suspicions, but Park Ryeowook is known. He has a record; people can verify his identity. If we use your old identity Kyuhyun’s going to meet someone who’s been in the game for years. Kyuhyun can check you up, and he will, so he’ll meet people who met you three years ago. Besides, you’re a criminal, so you won’t have any moral objections to dating a mobster. It’s a foolproof setup, really.” Ryeowook thought of it as a foolish setup, but he kept his mouth shut.

“Ryeowook Park hasn’t been active in years, that’s not gonna look a little suspicious?” Ryeowook raised a brow. After the bust had gone down in Seattle there hadn’t been any reason for Ryeowook to stay active, and Ryeowook had never had the need to re-visit an identity. Until now, that is.

“He fled the country,” Clark replied matter-of-factly as if it was a known fact. “To Europe. He’s an art thief after all, and there are lots of jobs there. He laid low for a while, didn’t want the feds to catch him. We actually slipped Interpol a tip that he may have been involved in a series of museum heists, and other robberies. Since your cover never was blown, he’s now a listed suspect in the Interpol database.”

Walker looked satisfied like he just got the highest score on a test. His large smirk was almost threatening to crack his face, but Ryeowook wasn’t as convinced.

“Even if it might work, Kyuhyun wouldn’t be interested or buy it for that matter, if I approached him in a bar,” Ryeowook stated.

“Why not?” Morris asked.

“I might not have the moral objections to date a mobster, but an art thief wouldn’t actively seek out a mobster’s company,” Ryeowook replied as if it wasn’t obvious already. Art thieves saw themselves as sophisticated, and thieves, in general, saw themselves as better criminals, because they didn’t actively kill. Criminal or not, there was a huge difference in the moral code. “Art thieves see themselves as better than a common criminal, they don’t mingle with mobsters, and they would usually avoid people who are not afraid to get their hands dirty.”

“So how do we make the approach?” Walker asked him, seemingly not convinced.

“Kyuhyun’s too smart for me to approach him. It would have to seem coincidental, but not random. And I couldn’t look too interested, he would have to chase me,” Ryeowook thought out loud. It was an interesting challenge, “I would have to show him that I’m a criminal and not a snitch, but without saying so directly. I have to show him that he doesn’t scare me, but not actively seeking for mob-company. He likes a challenge, so I’ll have to be reluctant.”

“That sounds good and all,” Morris began, “but how do we do that?”

Ryeowook couldn’t really believe what he was going to say, it was crazy. The risk was huge, and he could be signing his death warrant, by trying to do so. However, it could work. If Ryeowook pulled it off, this would be the exact in he needed. “I need to steal something from him and get caught.”

“You’re going to get yourself killed!” Clark yelled at him, he breathed out angrily glaring at Ryeowook. Ryeowook couldn’t help but crack a small smile, at least he knew Clark cared about him. Ryeowook wanted to add a snarky reply that he’d only die if he failed, but he held his tongue.

“That’s actually brilliant,” Morris exclaimed euphorically, and Ryeowook couldn’t help but scrunch his nose. None of this plan was “brilliant” it was reckless, stupid and they were lucky if they managed to pull it off. It was a one-way ticket to his own early funeral. “I don’t know why I didn’t think of it earlier. Earlier this month there was a huge auction in Chicago, and Kyuhyun showed obviously and made a scene. The bidding war lasted for thirteen minutes, I’m sure national news mentioned it. It was huge news within the art society-…”

“Morris,” Walker interrupted Morris’ rambling, “get to the point.”

The dark-haired cleared his throat slightly before he continued, “A Botticelli painting was sold for 92 million dollars. And Kyuhyun was the one who bought it.” Ryeowook could feel himself gape, 92 million dollars? Of course, Ryeowook was no stranger to how much a painting could cost, but the fact that this mobster had 92 million to spare told him enough about Kyuhyun and this Leeteuk. Their business was awfully profitable. Probably why the FBI wanted to shut them down.

“A lot of people wanted that painting, and I’m sure we can hook you up with someone who’s willing to pay for an art thief, Young Man Holding a Roundel, is after all priceless. I think BBC wrote a story about it; it really rocked the art world-…” Morris continued his rambling but was once again interrupted by Walker.

“Morris,” that was enough to shut the younger Chicago-based agent up. They fell silent for a while, and Ryeowook continued his streak of glaring at the other males in the room.

“Look Kim, I know you don’t like this,” Clark began.

That was an understatement.

“Trust me Ryeowook, I don’t like this either,” Clark continued, “this is not how the bureau usually does things. Hell, Harrison yelled at me for fifteen minutes for even suggesting it. But there doesn’t seem to be another way-…”

“There’s always another way,” Ryeowook grumbled, rudely interrupting his supervisor.

Walker shook his head. “Trust me, there’s not. Don’t you think we’ve tried? We tried turning people close to Leeteuk and Kyuhyun to no avail. No one in his inner circle talks, and those who did talk, disappeared. We’ve sent in five agents, several experienced undercover agents, two have ended up dead, and one is still missing, presumed dead. If we keep failing now, they’ll grow suspicious of new people and we’ll never get anyone in. So, it has to work now.”

Clark seemed genuinely sorry for Ryeowook and kept sending him side-glances, but that wouldn’t do much if Kyuhyun ripped Ryeowook to pieces.

“You can, of course, say no,” Clark began in a small voice, but Ryeowook dismissed it.

“After you said the world will end if I don’t do it?” Ryeowook let out a burst of harsh laughter, no one answered him, but Ryeowook didn’t expect them to, either. “How long do I have to prepare?” Ryeowook asked.

“It’s going to take a few days to find someone willing to hire an art thief and set you up in Chicago, why don’t we fly you in on Thursday, five days from now?” Morris suggested, and Ryeowook only nodded, what else could he reply?

“Maybe you can tell your old contacts you’re back and willing to work,” Walker suggested.

“I haven’t really kept in touch with them though,” Ryeowook replied. He hadn’t had the need to. Up until now, Ryeowook had never thought he’d have the need to revisit his old identity.

“No problem, I’ll redirect it to our IT expert, she’ll find all the information you need and send it to you,” Morris replied with ease. “We’ll send with everything we have on Leeteuk and Kyuhyun, and we’ll send with a file of your heists in Europe. We don’t have much on Kyuhyun, even less on Leeteuk, but it’ll do for now.” Walker stood up. “I created a special task force on Leeteuk’s operation over six months ago and to date we have zilch. What we need is a new approach. And that is you. Since Leeteuk almost certainly has cops on his payroll, maybe even someone in the FBI, we’re keeping this one under wraps. The only people who know are Clark, Morris, Harrison, and me. I assume there still isn't an entry of you in the database as Special Agent Kim?”

Ryeowook shook his head. To make his covers more secure in a time where every slightly skilled hacker seemed to be able to crack the FBI’s database, the members of the Undercover Division in DC only had a hard copy file. Not that this particular division existed officially in the first place.

“Good.” Walker cleared his throat. “Then why don’t you go home and get your things in order.”

“We’ll give you the files and then you can prepare. You won’t be able to wear a wire in his presence, so you’ll be on your own.”

"Can I bug the place at least?" Ryeowook asked, but he highly doubted that he would be able to do so. Not with what he knew about Kyuhyun.

Morris shook his head regretfully. "No, we tried. Kyuhyun has permanent bug screeners all over his place. Kyuhyun has a few places he likes to frequent, bars and restaurants. Maybe you can plant a few when you go out with him. It would be good to get ears on him there. But don’t worry, we’ll be watching. If things get sticky, we’ll pull you out.” Ryeowook didn’t comment on how if things grew bad, he’d be dead before they could possibly do anything.

The black coffee was carefully sat down on his table, as Ryeowook sat down. However, it was quickly forgotten when Ryeowook started reading the files sent from Morris. He started with the files from the previous agents. Morris had sent them with and told him Ryeowook probably could learn something about them, see where they went wrong so he could avoid it. It was easy to see what had gone wrong, they’d all moved too fast. It was as fast as they were settled, they’d started digging; Ryeowook couldn’t blame them, they were there, after all, on a job, but it did raise suspicions. Ryeowook assumed that the superiors had pressed for more intel, and that had been the end for them.

Having established that the files from the previous agents’ failed mission weren’t very interesting. So, Ryeowook moved on to the files on Leeteuk’s inner circle, aside from his inner circle consisting of six other members and Cho Kyuhyun being one of those six not much had been discussed about them. Ryeowook quickly discovered there was variating information about the different members, some being less than a paragraph and some being several pages long. Lee Hyukjae, known as his alias Eunhyuk seemed to be the longest one. He was constantly arrested for small-time crimes but often bailed out before he even reached the police station. The file even provided a picture of a fairly attractive Korean male glaring into the camera as his mugshot was taken.

Lee Hyukjae was twenty-seven years old, Korean American, born and raised in New York City. He came from a low-income family and had a criminal record going back for more than ten years. He didn’t have any higher education than high school. He seemed to be the party king of the group if that was the correct term. The file said you were more likely to find him at a club than anywhere else. It seemed that Hyukjae had an alcohol problem, at least a drug problem – seeing as most of his arrestations were related to drugs. From his file, Ryeowook would’ve guessed that this Lee Hyukjae was small fish, but he knew better. Intel’s reported different things so Ryeowook couldn’t quite figure out his role in Leeteuk’s gang. It seemed like something in-between the guy you went to if you wanted to teach someone a lesson or make someone disappear and Chicago’s own personal drug lord. Lee Hyukjae was no doubt trouble, and he was a loose cannon; reportedly the only one who could control him was Leeteuk, and he had to be special for Leeteuk to bother having him around despite all the trouble he caused.

Lee Donghae was much easier to figure out. His record was clean and allegedly lived a normal civilian life. He hadn’t been a suspect hadn’t an intel spotted and recognized him. By day he worked in Kyuhyun’s company as a Network Engineer, and by night he worked for Leeteuk. The information on Donghae was slim, but it didn’t take a genius to figure that Lee Donghae was Leeteuk’s own personal hacker. A damn good one too if Ryeowook were to go by his work. He left no trackable trace, and his identity would’ve continued to be a mystery if he hadn’t been spotted. However, the spotting wasn’t all that useful because there was no evidence that could hold Lee Donghae. He was that good. The rest were of his file was basic information, twenty-six years old turning twenty-seven soon, born in New York, started college but dropped out after two years. It wouldn’t surprise Ryeowook if he dropped out after meeting with Leeteuk. Seeing as Lee Donghae was his real identity a picture of his driver’s license was attached to the file, and Ryeowook had to admit he was good-looking.

Shin Donghee’s file was short but satisfactory. He went by the alias Shindong, which to the Chicago underworld was a known name. Previous agents reported that he was Leeteuk’s own personal bodyguard, but Ryeowook could see he was much more. There was a mug shot of the man attached to the file, and Ryeowook could see the dark look in his eyes. It was easy to tell that this man was dangerous. His record was clean, but he was the primary suspect of several CPD cases. Sadly, the evidence didn’t hold to take him in, and the video footage that had existed had mysteriously disappeared. Donghae’s doing, no doubt. Twenty-seven years old, turning twenty-eight later that year. He seemed to have been raised in Boston, then the paper trail ran empty until he turned up in New York already close to Leeteuk. He was a suspect in several trade deals, weapons mostly, one case making him the suspect of a series of explosions on warehouses owned by the Atlanta mob. There obviously no evidence to hold him. One intel reported that he worked closely with Lee Hyukjae, and Ryeowook didn’t doubt it. Shin Donghee looked like the guy that could make you disappear without a trace. His tendency and history of violence only added to that belief.

Yesung’s file was the shortest one, not longer than a single paragraph. There wasn’t much on the guy. The file came with a badly drawn picture of him, but it wasn’t useful, so Ryeowook completely dismissed it. Aside from that, there were variating descriptions of this Yesung. Some saying he had red hair, black hair, silver, brown or blond hair. Everyone agreed Yesung was an alias, but no one knew his real identity. He was in his late twenties, but no one knew exactly how old he was. No one was quite sure what he did for the group either, the only thing that was reported was that he was constantly arguing with Lee Hyukjae.

Heechul’s was the second shortest. The file didn’t say what Heechul did for Leeteuk, so Ryeowook assumed they weren’t sure. All it said was that Heechul was close to Leeteuk but kept in the shadows. They weren’t quite sure if Heechul was his real name or if it was a fake one, the man had gone by many names, but Heechul was the one that seemed to occur several times thus leading the FBI to the conclusion that it could be his real name. They didn’t have a last name though. He was in his late twenties, but like Yesung, they weren’t quite sure of his age. The file provided a picture taken from a security camera, but it didn’t reveal a face, only an idea of who the man might be. Average height, lean, and dressed in a suit. Dark hair, face directed away from the camera as if he knew of its existence. Ryeowook could almost hear the taunting voice, you can’t prove I did it because you can’t prove that was me. Some intel’s said Leeteuk was closest to Heechul – while others disagreed and said he was closer to Kyuhyun. – Making Ryeowook guess that Heechul at least functioned like some kind of advisor although that wasn’t his role completely.

Ryeowook read over Cho Kyuhyun’s file, although it didn’t tell him anything new. Morris’ allusion to Bruce Wayne was a little exaggerated he found out because Kyuhyun didn’t live that much of a playboy life and seemed to prefer a professional persona in front of media. That didn’t mean he didn’t appear in tabloid papers, but they didn’t seem all that interested in Kyuhyun’s flavour of the week. Kyuhyun’s party-boy persona wasn’t existing as one would imagine. Kyuhyun didn’t seem all that interested in relationships, or hook-ups, which meant Ryeowook would need to be extra intriguing to pique Kyuhyun’s interest. The resemblance between Bruce Wayne and Cho Kyuhyun seemed to end after being rich and CEO of their own company.

Then there was Leeteuk himself, his file was large but very vague. Most sentences ending with there was no way of proving it, lack of evidence, or being suspected but the case was shut due to lack of sufficient evidence. Whereas the other files were provided with an actual picture, or an idea of who the person was Leeteuk had nothing. There was a small paragraph describing his appearance, but it didn’t do much. Asian, around average height, dark hair, late twenties to early thirties, and expensive clothes didn’t do all that much. It sounded like almost every male Asian in Chicago. Like Shin Donghee he was the primary suspect in several cases around the east coast most dating before Kyuhyun’s college period. After New York and arriving in Illinois the cases seemed to cease as if Leeteuk had vanished into thin air. Ryeowook knew this not to be the case, but Leeteuk had probably stopped doing the dirty work after assembling a gang of highly trusted people with specialized skills.

For a while Ryeowook sat there pondering, staring into nothing, trying to save all information for later. The coffee had by now gone cold, and Ryeowook had lost all interest in the beverage even if it was made to his liking. He yawned slightly and checked the clock, it was already late, and Ryeowook contemplated going to bed. He glanced over the case files again but knew he had already learned there was to learn from them, so he decided to wrap up for the night.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

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.”

Chapter Text

Several days passed before Ryeowook really dared to step foot out in Chicago. Ryeowook hadn’t locked himself in and feared going outside in fear of meeting Kyuhyun’s gang, but he had been careful. However, after a few days, Ryeowook decided to drop the act. Cho Kyuhyun had mentioned that he knew where Ryeowook lived, and Ryeowook didn’t doubt the truth in that statement. If Kyuhyun or his gang hadn’t knocked on his door yet to take him out, then he doubted it would happen later. Walker hadn’t liked his careful act, and tried to get Ryeowook to work more, he felt Ryeowook was wasting time. Ryeowook had sneered that Walker wasn’t the one who almost got shot, and had to run from a bullet rain, so the elder agent’s opinion didn’t matter. No to mention, Ryeowook was the skilled undercover agent here, not some Chicago-based office worker. And it wasn’t like he didn’t work, Ryeowook didn’t lounge around all day wasting his time in front of Netflix, Ryeowook worked. He just wasn’t out in the field as much.

Ryeowook didn’t know how his next interaction with Cho Kyuhyun was supposed to go. He was hoping that the mobster was intrigued enough to make the approach himself, but Ryeowook couldn’t lay his entire hope in a criminal. He had to have some sort of backup plan, although Ryeowook was pretty sure Kyuhyun would make contact within this week. He couldn’t steal from Kyuhyun again, he’d been lucky to survive it the first time. A second time would be a one-way ticket to the afterlife. Ryeowook wasn’t stupid enough to pull something so risky again. If he stole from Kyuhyun again the younger wouldn’t even hesitate or stall, he probably wouldn’t even ask questions. He would kill him coldly and cast Ryeowook away like he was nothing of importance. Ryeowook’s second approach couldn’t be anything like the first. It had to be calm, and Ryeowook couldn’t be tied to a chair. They had to be more equal, and preferably somewhere public so they could talk – instead of fight.

It had to be somewhere Kyuhyun had to act calmer, so he had the chance to really see Ryeowook. Ryeowook knew he might have piqued Kyuhyun’s interest by their first meeting, but it wasn’t enough to have him hooked. He needed a calmer space, and more time to actually allure Kyuhyun in. If the second meeting went like Ryeowook wanted it to go, he would have the mobster hooked. However, Ryeowook had difficulties finding such a perfect meeting place. He knew what he wanted out of the meeting, but he couldn’t seek out the mobsters. If Ryeowook met him somewhere randomly, Kyuhyun would grow suspicious. Ryeowook should after all be avoiding the mafia at all costs. It had to be somewhere coincidental, but not random. However, Ryeowook couldn’t stalk Kyuhyun so he could randomly bump into him, the mobster was too smart to notice if he was under surveillance. He was probably aware of the FBI shadowing his movements. The poor fools in the Chicago office thought they were being subtle.

It was hard coming up with the perfect spot to meet Kyuhyun unless Ryeowook actually bumped into him – which would be rather unlikely. Or Kyuhyun sought him out.

He didn’t seem to reach any conclusion in his own apartment, so Ryeowook decided to head out. Maybe the Chicago scenery could help him find the perfect meeting place? And if he didn’t, at least he increased the chance of bumping into Cho Kyuhyun. Ryeowook didn’t bother dressing up today, the chances were slim of meeting Kyuhyun, and he didn’t intend on looking for Kyuhyun either. He dressed in black high-waisted jeans and took on a dark-red shirt with smaller white and black vertical lines. The shirt’s arms stopped right above the elbow. He buttoned the shirt and stuffed it into the pants before he took on a black belt seeing as the jeans were slightly large around his waist. As an extra detail, because his cover Park Ryeowook was extra, he chose to wear smaller hoop earrings. Ryeowook ruffled his black hair, took his essential belongings with him, and chose some red vans to go with the outfit that matched the shirt in colour, and with that, he was in the elevator on his way out. When Ryeowook was outside of his apartment complex he quickly got into a taxi.

“Take me to the Art Institute of Chicago, please,” Ryeowook told the driver, and the driver only nodded in reply before he started to drive. The Claude Monet exhibition in Chicago was one of the largest exhibitions outside of Paris, and Ryeowook wanted to take advantage of that fact now that he was in town. Especially, since the Institute had set up a special exhibition featuring works that usually hung outside of Chicago. Apparently, if one cared what the critiques said the exhibition was quite outstanding, and it was a once-in-a-lifetime thing you had to go to. Seeing as so many Monet paintings collected together was a rarity.

It didn’t take them long to reach the exhibition, because Ryeowook skipped the morning rush. The clock couldn’t be more than eleven, but the day had for many started several hours ago. Ryeowook paid and thanked the driver before he stepped into the huge building. Impressionism art wasn’t really Ryeowook’s favourite art epoch, and he preferred the old masters, but an exhibition like this was too good to pass up. And Monet’s landscape paintings were breathtaking, it was only a shame that his favourite piece of the water lilies series was hanging in Paris.

He bought a ticket, and grabbed a catalogue about the exhibition, although as he skimmed through it, he realised it didn’t tell him anything new. Ryeowook silently walked aimlessly as he began watching the art. There were so many beautiful paintings on the wall and Ryeowook felt overwhelmed at first. He had seen beautiful art before, of course, but so much famous art collected here for a special occasion rendered him slightly speechless. Not that there was anyone around to talk to. When the awe wore over Ryeowook turned to the first painting. The Towing of a Boat in Honfleur. It was one of his earlier paintings before the term impressionism first was used. Usually, it hung in New York, but Ryeowook was lucky enough to see it here in Chicago.

The painting showed two men pulling on a rope, and a third person by the boat towing it towards land. The lightning in the picture revealed it was somewhere in the evening as the sun was setting. The lightning in the painting was stunning. In the background of the painting, you could see a city, which was darker in the light of the sunset.

“I didn’t really picture you for an impressionist kind of guy,” a familiar voice told him as he made an approach. Cho Kyuhyun. “You seem like you’re a renaissance, baroque kind of guy.” Ryeowook turned to the other, he was now standing only a few feet from him, tall and ever so handsome. He was dressed in a black tailored suit, white shirt, with a skinny tie to finish the entire outfit off. Ryeowook stood frozen, not because of fear, but because of surprise. He had hoped Kyuhyun would make the approach, but he hadn’t expected it this quickly. Kyuhyun must’ve interpreted his silence as fear though because he continued. “Don’t worry, I’m not going to hurt you.” Kyuhyun raised his hands in a way to show his surrender, and his expression seemed sincere enough, but Ryeowook knew what that meant. He wouldn’t hurt him – as long as Ryeowook did exactly what he wanted.

“Impressionism isn’t my favourite era, you’re right about that,” Ryeowook confirmed instead of stating he wasn’t afraid of Kyuhyun. “But even I can’t turn down a Monet exhibition this large,” he continued. Ryeowook moved away from the painting and went on to another piece, who featured sailboats on the Seine River. It was dated a year later than the one he’d just looked at. The two paintings matched in colour, and it was obvious why they hung right to each other. This one was called Mouth of the Seine River in Honfleur. Painted in 1865, and usually hung in California. As Ryeowook moved, Kyuhyun followed, and Ryeowook sent him a pointed look.

“Can I help you?” Ryeowook asked when Kyuhyun remained silent. The brunet grinned largely at him but didn’t make any move.

“Would it really be so terrible of me to accompany you through this art exhibition?” Kyuhyun asked and quirked a brow. The action itself, and his words made it all seem so innocent. Like he was doing no harm, and they were just two acquaintances. They both knew better than that though. Kyuhyun was a mob leader, and Ryeowook was allegedly an art thief.

Yes, I don’t know if you remember, but you tried to kill me,” Ryeowook spoke in a hushed, but accusingly tone.

“Okay true,” Kyuhyun agreed, as they moved to the next Monet painting, “but you stole from me.”

“Yeah, and you kidnapped me,” Ryeowook countered back.

“That’s not fair,” Kyuhyun turned to him, and Ryeowook could see that he enjoyed their bickering. “That’s connected to the attempted murder thing, they count as one.” It was a stupid argument, and Ryeowook could only laugh at it.

“Fine,” Ryeowook replied, “you stalked me.” He countered back and smirked as he saw the surprised look on Kyuhyun’s face.

“Stalked you?” Kyuhyun asked surprised feigning innocence. “I didn’t stalk you.”

“Uhuh,” Ryeowook answered sarcastically, “so you just happened to be here today at this exact moment, in this part of Chicago to view the Monet exhibition? A crazy coincidence, don’t you think?” Ryeowook fired back, and he folded his arms. Kyuhyun only laughed at him, loud booming laughter, but at the same time, Ryeowook felt slightly warm hearing the laughter. It was somewhat contagious.

“That doesn’t count as stalking,” Kyuhyun only shrugged. Ryeowook could feel himself slightly shiver, that didn’t count as stalking in Kyuhyun’s book, which meant this was to him a trivial matter. Something of unimportance. Stalking in Kyuhyun’s terms were also worse. “I just kept tabs on you.” Ryeowook only rolled his eyes, because to him it was the same thing. “Can’t have you go around and steal things from me again.”

“As if I’d be stupid enough to,” Ryeowook answered, slightly offended that Kyuhyun thought so lowly of him. “I know I wouldn’t survive it a second time.”

“You’re right about that,” Kyuhyun answered in a casual tone. Almost as if he didn’t admit that he’d kill Ryeowook if he ever tried to steal from him again. His tone seemed so relaxed like he was talking about the news, international relations, or insignificant things at work. Not murder. The taller man leaned closely to Ryeowook, and his lips ghosted Ryeowook’s ear as he spoke. “And it would be a shame to lose a pretty face like yours.” Ryeowook could feel himself shiver at the contact, and Kyuhyun chuckled as he leaned away. He probably knew the effect he had on Ryeowook.

“I’m not going to sleep with you,” Ryeowook answered and left the younger male, as he went to another room. This room showcased some of Monet’s later work, and Ryeowook stopped in front of a piece of the water lilies series. It was one of his more famed works. A Japanese styled bridge stretched across the pond with green leaves and pinkish-white and yellow lilies covered the water. It was one of the earlier paintings in the water lilies series, dated back to 1899. This particular painting usually hung in New Jersey but was moved to Illinois for this exhibition.

“I’m not trying to get laid,” Kyuhyun defended himself as he followed after him into the next room. Ryeowook quirked a brow at Kyuhyun, and the younger rephrased his sentence. “I’m not only trying to get laid.” Ryeowook didn’t doubt that was the truth. It seemed rather unlikely that Kyuhyun would seek him out just because he was horny. Kyuhyun had unlimited resources and he was very attractive; he could get any person he desired. And although Ryeowook’s goal was to make him lust and desire after him, he knew the mobster wasn’t there yet.

“Besides, I always get what I want, I’m pretty irresistible,” Kyuhyun continued, his words laced with cockiness. “You wouldn’t be able to resist me if I tried to charm you to bed.” He leaned closer to illustrate a point, and Ryeowook made a show of seeming flustered. The smirk evident on Kyuhyun’s face was all Ryeowook needed. It meant Kyuhyun thought he had the upper hand, and that made him too arrogant to see how smart Ryeowook was. Of course, intelligence recognized intelligence, Kyuhyun could probably tell Ryeowook was smart – but he probably thought he was smarter than him.

“That’s where you’re wrong, Cho Kyuhyun,” Ryeowook replied. “I have a code that I stick to, and I don’t plan on breaking it.” Ryeowook lied, there was no code at all, but he needed to lie about it. Kyuhyun wouldn’t chase him if he didn’t meet resistance, and Ryeowook needed Kyuhyun to chase him so far that somewhere along the way Kyuhyun fell for him.

“A moral code?” Kyuhyun questioned. He’d probably heard it before from other thieves, who didn’t like interacting with criminals who murdered.

“Of sorts,” Ryeowook replied shortly. His brown eyes leaving Kyuhyun’s and going back to the beautiful painting.

“So, you won’t sleep with me because I’ve murdered?” Kyuhyun’s voice was filled with disbelief, but he could also hear the challenge. He wanted Ryeowook to say yes, so Kyuhyun would make him break that code by making Ryeowook want him so much he couldn’t resist Kyuhyun. To Kyuhyun, it was a game.

“No, I’ve done that before. I’ve slept with murders before, and I’ll probably do it again,” Ryeowook wasn’t actually lying about that. He had slept with criminals on other missions, and if things went like the FBI wanted them to, he would sleep with Kyuhyun. “I don’t sleep with powerful men like you. I’ve been there, done that. Multiple times.” Kyuhyun’s face darkened, and his relaxed posture straightened up. The playful smile on his lips disappeared completely, Ryeowook thought he looked slightly jealous. “And it always ends in some sort of backlash. It’s easier to resist temptation and skip that part. There’s already plenty of people who wants me dead, I don’t need to add to the list.”

Kyuhyun stayed silent for a while before he began. This time his voice a lot darker, “didn’t you hear me properly previously? I always get what I want.”

“And what could you possibly want?” Ryeowook asked, even if he knew what Kyuhyun’s answer might be.

“You.” His face was honest, and his dark eyes were full of lust. Ryeowook didn’t doubt his honestness, but all he wanted Ryeowook for was a one-night stand.

Kyuhyun seemed hell-bent on getting Ryeowook, but it wasn’t like Ryeowook wanted it to be. Needed it to be. Kyuhyun wanted him for a night. He wanted to share his bed once and then cast him away like a broken toy. Ryeowook couldn’t get an in like that; if anything, it would be harder to approach Kyuhyun. No, he needed to make Kyuhyun want him so much that the younger couldn’t bear letting him go. Right now, Kyuhyun didn’t want him that much.

“Monet painted this in Giverny, he moved there in 1883 and died there years later,” Ryeowook didn’t reply to Kyuhyun’s statement, and instead, focused on the painting in front of them. Pond with Water-lilies. “He bought a plot of land in Giverny, and this was a part of his garden. The famous water lilies series is mostly painted from his own garden. In this series, Monet’s primary concern was the harmony of colour, unlike his previous works where he focuses on the lightning and transitioning of colours. Other artists like Marquet and Matisse were interested by the same things, who went on and originated Fauvism.”

Kyuhyun nodded at Ryeowook but didn’t comment on it. He seemed slightly dejected from Ryeowook’s silent rejection, but he didn’t push the issue further, as they continued through the art exhibition. They stopped in front of another piece of the water lilies series, and Ryeowook admired the painting. Kyuhyun didn’t seem all that interested in the painting and was rather watching Ryeowook.

“As you may know,” Kyuhyun began, starting to reveal his true motives. “I didn’t just come here to look at art.”

“Who could’ve figured,” Ryeowook dryly, but Kyuhyun didn’t comment on it, and continued undisturbed.

“I’m in need of a thief, and you have already proved to be a good one,” Kyuhyun began slowly and checked for Ryeowook’s reaction.

“No thanks,” Ryeowook declined quickly. He had to make Kyuhyun think he didn’t want it. After all, any sane human being would decline. He would be working with the mafia, only someone with a death wish would do that. Ryeowook would take on their enemies, having enemies for the mafia was normal, and alright. Because they had the resources to defend themselves, however, it wasn’t alright when they came for Ryeowook. Because Ryeowook was one person and had no other protection than what he could offer himself. Ryeowook would be stupid to accept a job from Kyuhyun, but he needed to take it, nonetheless.

“Oh, honey,” Kyuhyun purred, leaning closer. “You haven’t even heard the best part. You don’t have a choice. If you want to live that is. Don’t think I have forgotten that you wronged me and escaped without consequences.”

“Are you …” Ryeowook began surprised, “are you blackmailing me?”

“Blackmail is such an ugly word,” Kyuhyun feigned innocence once again, and Ryeowook scoffed. “Don’t think I won’t hesitate to put a bullet in you, even if you’re sexy,” Kyuhyun continued, his voice still seductive. “I’m giving you a choice, you can either live, and work for me or,” Kyuhyun dragged out the last word. “You can die, and I’ll dump your body in Lake Michigan. Your choice.”

“Sounds like blackmail to me,” Ryeowook muttered, but he knew there was no getting out of this one. Not that he actually wanted to, but Kyuhyun didn’t know that. “Fine, I’ll do it.”

“Great,” Kyuhyun smiled largely, flashing his white teeth. “I knew we would see eye to eye.” The taller brunet paused for he added slyly, “I told you I always get what I want.”

“When I told you to buy me dinner, I didn’t actually mean it like this,” Ryeowook told Kyuhyun, as they were seated in a fancy, five-star restaurant. Kyuhyun only hummed letting the waiter present the wines to them, and Kyuhyun decided on a bottle of expensive champagne. Thousand-dollar champagne, from the actual French district Champagne. They hadn’t even ordered food, and Kyuhyun had already spent hundreds of dollars as if it were nothing to him. And it probably wasn’t if he could afford a Botticelli painting worth billions.

“We need to celebrate a good partnership with good lunch, of course,” Kyuhyun answered as if it was obvious. He raised his glass and cheered with Ryeowook. The black-haired male took a small sip of the alcoholic beverage, and he realised how good expensive alcohol could taste. That was clearly different from the cheap stuff he was used to drinking.

“Funny, an hour ago it almost seemed like you threatened to kill me,” Ryeowook replied sassily.

“All partnerships have their flaws,” Kyuhyun brushed it off as if it were nothing. He smiled as a waiter returned, and Kyuhyun ordered a fish dish for the both of them. When the waiter left, Kyuhyun picked up the conversation again. “So, Park Ryeowook, that’s Korean, right?” He asked.

“It is,” Ryeowook confirmed. Park Ryeowook had no reason to hide it, so when asked Ryeowook had to answer, although his language skills could’ve been used as an advantage if kept a secret.

“Can you speak and understand Korean?” Kyuhyun questioned.

“I can,” Ryeowook answered in Korean, “and a bit Chinese, if necessary,” he added, still speaking Korean. Kyuhyun looked slightly impressed before he smirked satisfied.

“Good, my boss will be pleased,” was all Kyuhyun replied in English, so Ryeowook continued in English as well.

“Your boss, Leeteuk, I presume?” Ryeowook asked in a lower tone, careful that no one overheard him.

“Yes,” Kyuhyun confirmed shortly. “I take it that you’ve heard of him.”

“Not much,” Ryeowook shrugged. It was true, he didn’t know much about Leeteuk. At all. “Just that I know I’m not stupid enough to ever try stealing from him.”

Kyuhyun laughed slightly at Ryeowook’s comment. “But you dare steal from me? Has my reputation been damaged?” He asked jokingly. Ryeowook could see the crinkle in his eyes, and he smiled along.

“To be fair, I hadn’t heard of you before I took the job, but I don’t frequent your circles. And I’ve been out of the country for a few years. If I’d stayed here, it would be probable I would’ve heard of you, and then I wouldn’t have taken the job,” Ryeowook shrugged, slightly defending himself.

“But then I wouldn’t have met you,” Kyuhyun flirted slightly, and Ryeowook bashfully looked away from Kyuhyun’s gaze. The younger seemed humoured, but he didn’t comment on it as the food was served, and Kyuhyun thanked the waiter profoundly. Right now, he didn’t seem like a mafia leader at all, he almost seemed like a sweetheart. The cold and scary aura was present, but only because Kyuhyun still seemed powerful. If Ryeowook hadn’t seen the other side of Kyuhyun he wouldn’t have been able to say that this man here partially run Chicago’s underworld. He seemed like upper-class and the only crime he’d ever done was drunken driving.

“So, what you’re saying is that you’re glad I stole from you?” Ryeowook asked and took the first bite of the fish. It tasted delicious, and the black-haired had to refrain from moaning out loud. Though he didn’t doubt that Kyuhyun would mind.

“It depends,” Kyuhyun mischievously answered, and took another sip of the champagne.

“On what?” Ryeowook couldn’t help but ask.

“On you,” Kyuhyun answered mysteriously at first. “And if I get what I want.” The younger ate a bit of his food, and Ryeowook expected him to continue, but it seemed like Kyuhyun had said everything he wanted to say.

“Didn’t you always get what you want?” Ryeowook teased him, with a sly smile, and Kyuhyun was quick to return it.

“I do,” he confirmed.

“Then that shouldn’t be a problem,” Ryeowook answered back, with a playful twinkle in his eyes. He couldn’t help but smirk as Kyuhyun’s expression shifted to surprise.

“Are you implying-…” Kyuhyun began, completely taken aback. It seemed like he hadn’t expected that Ryeowook would reply as flirtatiously back. His shock ran over, and he tried again. “Are you implying that-…” but he interrupted himself again. Not able to utter the words out. His face was a mix between surprise and joyous.

“Look, I’m not a cheap hooker, and if you really want me, you’re gonna have to work for it, got it?” Ryeowook reminded him sternly. Ryeowook didn’t need to spell it out, Kyuhyun picked up on the message. Ryeowook wouldn’t just jump in bed with him, if Kyuhyun wanted Ryeowook it wouldn’t be easy. But Ryeowook knew Kyuhyun liked a challenge.

“You intrigue me, Park Ryeowook. But understand that I’m not the kind of guy to turn down a challenge. You should know what you’re getting into and walk away while you can if you can’t take it,” Kyuhyun warned him. As if Ryeowook didn’t know that already. Getting involved with Cho Kyuhyun was dangerous, and any normal, sane person would stay away from him. Luckily, Park Ryeowook wasn’t a normal person.

Ryeowook was silent for a while and didn’t break away from Kyuhyun’s dark gaze. His silence seemed to be an answer enough for Kyuhyun. “So, tell me about the job?” Ryeowook asked instead of continuing their conversation. Although, it told Kyuhyun all he needed to know. For now, Ryeowook wasn’t going anywhere.

“Not here,” Kyuhyun waved off-handily, “too many ears around.”

“Of course.” Ryeowook answered quickly, he hadn’t expected anything else. Kyuhyun didn’t talk business in public rooms. If he did, the FBI would probably have more on him and Leeteuk. They might even know the identity behind Leeteuk. Kyuhyun was too smart to let anything slip, and he wasn’t going to start now.

Kyuhyun let a heavy sigh leave his lips after a long silence. The silence hadn’t been awkward, but rather suspenseful, Kyuhyun seemed to be unable to take his eyes off Ryeowook. Ryeowook didn’t mind Kyuhyun staring it him, it only confirmed that the mobster had taken a liking to him. Which was necessary for the mission to be a success. “I really want to kiss you right now,” Kyuhyun admitted after a while. His brown eyes almost seemed darker with lust, and his eyes kept falling down to Ryeowook’s lips before he made eye contact with the black-haired male again.

The way he said it wasn’t really an admittance, but rather an invitation. All Ryeowook needed was to say the word, and Kyuhyun would probably drag him away from the table to the closest bathroom and make out with him. However, Ryeowook knew Kyuhyun wasn’t where he wanted him yet. So, he politely declined, by teasing the mobster.

“Not here,” Ryeowook answered, using Kyuhyun’s own words against him. “Too many eyes around.”

“Oh, I see what you’re doing. Do you really think this is a game?” Kyuhyun seemed slightly taken aback, but he regained control quickly, as a smirk spread on his face. The brunet hadn’t said anything about it, but Ryeowook knew that Kyuhyun liked that Ryeowook was a little feisty.

“Of course, what else?” Ryeowook questioned and smirked back to the other. Flirting with Kyuhyun wasn’t really flirting, but endless teasing and bickering, but Ryeowook found himself genuinely enjoying the exchange. Maybe he shouldn’t do it, seeing as it was a job, a mission, but the black-haired agent couldn’t help himself.

“You really do intrigue me, Park Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun repeated. The lust in his eyes didn’t seem to disappear at all. At least, Ryeowook didn’t need to doubt if Kyuhyun wanted him or not, he’d made it evident that he found Ryeowook more than attractive. Hopefully, after today’s meeting, he found Ryeowook appealing for more than just his body. They ate rather peacefully after that, still exchanging small flirty comments or mild bickering. Ryeowook almost forgot how Kyuhyun was Leeteuk’s second in command, and murder, and not just a sweet, yet cocky CEO, and otherwise normal civilian. The food was delicious and the champagne went nicely with the fish. When they finally finished Kyuhyun insisted on paying for everything, and Ryeowook didn’t make any move to stop him. They agreed, well more like Kyuhyun decided and Ryeowook didn’t argue, that Ryeowook would come to Kyuhyun’s house to brief the details of his newly acquired job.

It wasn’t like Ryeowook had much of a choice, but he still felt uneasy. He didn’t know who would be there, and he didn’t know what the job could be. Kyuhyun wouldn’t need a thief if he could require whatever he needed himself or get someone from his inner circle to do it. Whatever he wanted was harder to attain, with a higher risk. And if it was a high risk for people like Kyuhyun and Leeteuk, it meant that it was dangerous. It was exactly the in Ryeowook had needed, but he didn’t know if the risk was worth it. It felt like Ryeowook was sentencing himself to death for the second time in less than a week. However, he assumed that he was going to get used to the constant risk of death soon. Being close to Cho Kyuhyun was dangerous, and the man had admitted so himself. They left the restaurant much to Ryeowook’s delight because he’d felt slightly underdressed for how fancy it was. However, the waiters hadn’t given him pointed looks, so it couldn’t have been a disaster.

The black-haired male didn’t know what he’d been expecting that they’d take a taxi or Kyuhyun would drive. However, when a long black limousine pulled up, with Kyuhyun’s private driver Ryeowook realised he shouldn’t have expected anything else. Kyuhyun being a gentleman opened the door for Ryeowook who entered before the mobster followed after him.

“Do you always drive around in a limo?” Ryeowook asked when the car started to move and turned to watch Kyuhyun as the brunet replied.

“Only when I want to impress someone,” Kyuhyun began jokingly, “or when I’d rather do something else than focus on driving.” The last part was said with a hint of slyness, and the smirk that followed made it nearly impossible to interpret the sentence in any other way than one. Kyuhyun’s gaze looking him up and down only confirmed it.

“Like what?” Ryeowook intrigued as if he were completely oblivious to the tension that was building up.

“I can think of several things,” Kyuhyun answered his voice suddenly lower. He leaned closer to Ryeowook, and Ryeowook answered by closing in on the space between them as well. Kyuhyun’s gaze didn’t leave his own, and Ryeowook could see how much Kyuhyun wanted him right this second. His eyes were full of lust and desire, and the only thing on the brunet’s mind right now was Ryeowook, and Ryeowook could only smile slightly. This was exactly what he wanted. Kyuhyun’s face was suddenly only inches from his own, and Ryeowook could feel Kyuhyun’s warm breath fanning his skin ever so slightly.

Ryeowook’s hand grabbed Kyuhyun’s shirt to halt Kyuhyun’s movement before he dragged the younger closer to his face. Kyuhyun didn’t seem to mind the slightest. Right before their lips touched, Ryeowook stopped Kyuhyun and said, “you’ll have to work harder than that.” Before he pushed the younger away, a large grin evident on his face.

The grin only enlarged when Ryeowook saw the utter look of betrayal on Kyuhyun’s face. He looked like he couldn’t believe what had happened. His entire face screamed of disbelief before he sent Ryeowook an ugly look. “You’re lucky you’re cute,” was all he answered him, and he folded his arms like a child. He was obviously offended. It seemed that Kyuhyun had never been teased like that before.

When the car stopped, Ryeowook left the car first his smug expression nowhere leaving his face. Kyuhyun followed only seconds after, and the limousine drove away. Ryeowook couldn’t believe he was about to enter Kyuhyun’s house, he was already closer to Kyuhyun than what most intels had been. The mansion Kyuhyun lived in was large and white, with huge windows. The short male could already see several cameras all over the area. The garden was huge, obviously well-kept, and he knew it stretched around the house. There was a large black fence that spread across the property with large gates which were where they’d entered through. It was obvious that Kyuhyun had a lot of money, and he didn’t try to hide it.

Kyuhyun seemed to have regained his posture as he was closer to home and stood proudly next to Ryeowook. Probably, pleased about how awe-struck Ryeowook seemed by the property. It was a nice mansion and garden, Ryeowook could easily admit that. That, and Kyuhyun seemed to enjoy their height difference. The shock of Ryeowook’s teasing had run over, but not forgotten, as Kyuhyun started speaking.

“I changed my mind,” Kyuhyun began, his voice was serious, but Ryeowook could see he was joking. “I don’t want you for the job anymore.” They both knew he wasn’t serious; he wouldn’t have brought Ryeowook here or blackmailed him if there was a potential chance Kyuhyun would change his mind.

Ryeowook only smirked again and leaned closer to Kyuhyun pleased by the instant effect he had over Kyuhyun. “Oh, but baby don’t you know there’s no one as good as me?” Kyuhyun gulped slightly, and his eyes widened when Ryeowook used a pet name.

“I don’t doubt it,” Kyuhyun let out a shaky breath, his brown eyes not leaving Ryeowook’s even for a split second. For some reason, it felt like Kyuhyun was talking about something entirely different than Ryeowook. “I changed my mind again; you can have the job. But you have to give me something in return.”

“Aren’t my services already enough?” Ryeowook asked, reminding the other that he was here against his will.

“In theory, yes, but you keep teasing me, so I want you to give me something as compensation,” Kyuhyun explained, and Ryeowook rolled his eyes. He quirked a brow at the taller in a silent way of asking Kyuhyun what he had to give him. “A kiss,” Kyuhyun elaborated.

Ryeowook laughed loudly before he replied. “Keep dreaming, Cho.” Ryeowook walked past Kyuhyun, up a few stairs, before the younger caught him by the arm, and spun him around. Ryeowook was once again facing the other this time they were closer to the same height since Ryeowook was standing in the stairs.

“I didn’t tell you to go,” Kyuhyun told him, his voice slightly displeased, but the sour expression quickly faded away.

“What about this?” Ryeowook offered a counteroffer. “You let me go, then you can have your kiss.”

“No can do, babe,” Kyuhyun cheekily replied. “I need you for the heist. And apparently, no one’s as good as you.” Kyuhyun’s eyes twinkled as he used Ryeowook’s own words against him, and Ryeowook had to hold back a laugh.

“Even if the kiss was the best, you’ve ever had?” Ryeowook teased.

“Of course, if it was the best I’ve ever had, I wouldn’t be able to let you go,” Kyuhyun answered at once as if it wasn’t obvious.

“Your loss,” was all Ryeowook uttered, before he turned around and walked up the small flight of stairs, towards Kyuhyun’s front door. The brunet stood lingering, contemplating if there were something he could say to get his oh-so-desired kiss. But it didn’t seem like Ryeowook would budge on the matter, for now, so Kyuhyun left it. “Aren’t you going to invite me in?” Ryeowook taunted Kyuhyun as he walked up the stairs.

“Of course,” Kyuhyun cheekily replied. Before he opened the door and let Ryeowook enter first. “Welcome to my humble residence, can I offer you a drink?” Ryeowook huffed at word humble and politely declined the offer for a drink. The inside was equally as stunning as the outside, if not more; Ryeowook hadn’t even seen the entire house, and he knew that it was decorated with care. But he hadn’t expected anything else, after all – he had the money to do so.

“Kyuhyun-ah! You’re finally home,” a loud voice boomed from another room, and Ryeowook knew he had heard the voice from before. It didn’t take long for the voice to reveal himself as Lee Hyukjae. “Oh, you have a guest,” the black-haired male continued sheepishly as he spotted Ryeowook. “Wait, what is he doing here?”

“He’s working for me,” Kyuhyun replied shortly and sent the other a pointed look Ryeowook didn’t know what meant. “Ryeowook meet Eunhyuk,” Ryeowook nodded at Eunhyuk. It wasn’t lost on Ryeowook how Kyuhyun presented him to Hyukjae using his alias. “He’s usually here to raid my fridge or alcohol stash,” Kyuhyun continued, his voice slightly passive-aggressive.

“Hey, I work too,” Hyukjae shot back, but Kyuhyun waved him off with a hand, and the word barely. Hyukjae looked offended, but he didn’t bother arguing. He either knew it was no use or didn’t bother. Either way, the older kept his mouth shut. He went back to the room he came from, and Kyuhyun followed, so Ryeowook followed too, not sure what else he should do. They came into a huge living room which was clean and had a minimalistic vibe over it. There was a huge white couch in the room, and directly in front of it was a huge TV that was on. On the couch, there was seated a man, and Ryeowook recognized him as Yesung, and he was watching the movie that played. Ryeowook studied the TV for a few seconds and realised the movie it was Taxi Driver when he recognized Robert De Niro.

Yesung turned to them and paused the movie. He was still well-dressed, like last time, but he was definitely dressed down. He wore black jeans with a black short-sleeved shirt, but the accessories made up for the lack of colour.

“Oh, you have a guest?” the silver-haired male asked and took a quick look at Ryeowook. Ryeowook wasn’t surprised to see that the other recognized him. “What is he doing here?” Yesung sent Kyuhyun a look, and the two silently communicated through looks.

“A job,” was all Kyuhyun revealed, and Yesung only shrugged, quickly disinterested. As he started to watch the movie again.

“Oh, by the way Kyuhyun,” Hyukjae began as he entered the room again. He looked like he just woke up, Ryeowook had more time to study his attire now. His black hair was messy, and his black shirt wasn’t fully buttoned up, revealing his pale collarbones. Ryeowook wasn’t quite sure what pants he wore, but they looked like pyjama pants, and he had tossed a dark blue dress grown on top of that. He looked like a fashion disaster. In his hand was a glass of whiskey that wasn’t there before, Kyuhyun hadn’t been joking about Hyukjae raiding his alcohol. “J-… L-… Boss called. He wants you to meet him at his office.”

Kyuhyun cursed lowly, before he quirked a brow. “Now?” Kyuhyun didn’t look happy with the news, as his relaxed expression vanished and was replaced with a stern face.

“No tomorrow,” Hyukjae answered sarcastically, “yes now, of course.”

“Fuck,” this time Kyuhyun cursed louder. He looked tired, and he dragged a hand over his face as if he was exhausted. It wasn’t really the lack of sleep that made the look, but rather the lack of energy. It didn’t seem like Kyuhyun wanted to go down there, because he hadn’t planned on going there. Which was kind of obvious, with the way he had taken Ryeowook back to his house. He hadn’t done that if he planned on meeting Leeteuk later.

The brunet walked over to where Ryeowook was standing and bent his head slightly down to watch Ryeowook. His brown eyes were locked with Ryeowook’s and Ryeowook didn’t dare look anywhere else. “I’m sorry, Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun apologized, his voice gentler than it had been earlier. “I have to go, but I promise to be back soon – it won’t be more than an hour.” His eyes didn’t waver, and Ryeowook could see that he was earnest. He caressed Ryeowook’s cheek, and Ryeowook stayed silent as he let the action happen. It was an awfully endearing action for someone like Kyuhyun. “Don’t go anywhere, okay?” Kyuhyun asked as if it would pain him to see Ryeowook leave. Ryeowook only nodded unsurely, it wasn’t like he actually could leave. Hyukjae and Yesung would never let him if he got past security that was.

The taller turned to the others in the room, and his posture straightened, while his expression became sterner. “Eunhyuk, watch Ryeowook. Yesung, watch Eunhyuk,” he ordered. “And please don’t burn my house down,” he added as an after-thought before he left.

Kyuhyun parked his 2021 Mustang Ford outside of Jungsoo’s hotel and stepped out of the car. The staff already recognized him, and he threw the keys to a younger boy who’d park his car. Kyuhyun tipped him generously, as the boy gave him his number when the time came to collect his car again.

“Here you go, Mister Cho,” the younger teen said, as he handed Kyuhyun the chip with the number 7262 on it, and Kyuhyun pocketed it in his black suit.

“Thank you,” Kyuhyun smiled at the teen before he entered the hotel through the reception. Jungsoo’s hotel never failed to stun him, it was always perfect down to the smallest detail. It was a reason why Jungsoo’s chain of hotels could continue expanding because most people who stayed there had an overall positive experience. The staff was nice and willing to help you, the hotel was clean, and the interior was beautiful. The food was of a high standard, and there was never something amiss. The staff was ever-so efficient, and it didn’t take long for someone to notice Kyuhyun’s presence.

“Cho Kyuhyun!” a man greeted him, as he spotted the brunet. It was no other than Kim Heechul, Heechul’s black hair had grown longer since Kyuhyun saw him last, and was now wavy, and shoulder-length. He wore a black suit like Kyuhyun, and he loosened up his tie. Usually, Jungsoo’s staff had a strict dress code, but those didn’t really apply to Heechul. “Come with me,” the elder said, and lead Kyuhyun towards a golden elevator. It was Jungsoo’s private elevator, the only one who had access to it was Jungsoo and Heechul. Not even Jungsoo’s beloved younger brother, Donghae, or his own bodyguard, Shindong, had access.

“How was Miami?” Kyuhyun asked as they stepped into the elevator, while Heechul pressed the button for the top floor. It went unsaid that he was visiting Jungsoo.

“Boring, I missed Chicago,” was all Heechul elaborated, and Kyuhyun nodded. For a brief second, Kyuhyun wondered if Heechul meant he missed his home, or if he just missed Jungsoo. “It was just the usual punks who think they can make it, I reminded them where they belong.” Heechul would’ve disclosed more information if it was necessary, if he didn’t it meant things went fine. Heechul did several things for Jungsoo, though his most important job was budgeting, and making the money they earned seem legal. Another thing he did was travelling outside of Chicago to either fix deals and trades or remind those they traded with who was in charge. Heechul was one of Jungsoo’s most trusted men, and the elder often gave him private missions without elaborating it to Kyuhyun or anyone else. Although everyone knew Jungsoo preferred to have Heechul close.

“I heard that you’re seeing someone,” Heechul turned to him with a sly smile. “Tell me about it,” he ordered, and Kyuhyun wondered slightly how Jungsoo could put up with someone as bossy as Heechul.

“God,” Kyuhyun groaned in despair, “does anyone around here know how to keep their mouth shut? I’m not seeing anyone. Don’t listen to Jungsoo-hyung or Lee Hyukjae.” Heechul sent him a pointed look, and he folded his arms, clearly not convinced. “I’m not seeing anyone. I’m not dating anyone. I’m not even sleeping with anyone.”

“That’s not what I heard,” Heechul teased, and Kyuhyun wondered what Heechul had heard. It wasn’t anything serious going on with him and Ryeowook. They hadn’t even kissed. Sure, the other interested Kyuhyun, but there wasn’t a relationship in development. Ryeowook didn’t seem that interested in him, and Kyuhyun doubted that they’d ever start dating. All Kyuhyun wanted was to sleep with Ryeowook, he didn’t have time for a relationship. Though he couldn’t help but find the other attractive, and interesting. Kyuhyun didn’t mind spending time with him at all.

“Well, then you heard wrong,” Kyuhyun answered as he clicked his tongue in annoyance. “Everyone’s talking about an art thief that stole my Botticelli, but we haven’t done anything. We haven’t even kissed.” Kyuhyun tried to show Heechul how insignificant was, but the elder was too smart to be tricked. Kyuhyun could see it, how Heechul could read behind the lines. It was obviously something there if Kyuhyun had let the art thief live even after stealing such a valuable item from him.

“But you want to kiss him, right?” Heechul asked as the elevator stopped. Kyuhyun didn’t reply as he stepped out of the elevator. Heechul only followed him, when Kyuhyun didn’t answer. “I’m right, aren’t I?” He took one look at Kyuhyun’s face, and Kyuhyun tried to mask up his expression. Apparently, he wasn’t so successful when the next words that came out of the elder’s mouth were. “Oh my god! You want to kiss him so bad, what does he look like to have my Kyuhyunnie whipped so bad?”

“I don’t have a picture of him,” Kyuhyun choked out, and Heechul only laughed. The black-haired male fished his phone out of his pocket and started typing.

“He’s at your house now, right?” Heechul asked, it wasn’t really a question, he just wanted to confirm what he already knew. Kyuhyun wondered how Heechul could know that, but he didn’t bother asking. It was just one of those Kim Heechul things, he knew everything. Being Jungsoo’s personal assistant did that. Kyuhyun only nodded in slight shock that Heechul could know such a thing.

“I’m texting Hyukjae to send me a picture.” It didn’t take long before Hyukjae replied with a selfie of himself and Ryeowook who looked quite uncomfortable. Hyukjae was grinning towards the phone, and Ryeowook looked like he was forced to be there, he probably was. He looked cute nonetheless, and Kyuhyun smiled slightly as he spotted the other. By the background Kyuhyun guessed they were in his kitchen.

“He’s very cute,” Heechul commented, and Kyuhyun couldn’t help but glare at Heechul who only laughed loudly again. “Got it, he’s yours.”

“Are we done here?” Kyuhyun asked Heechul, as he started walking towards Jungsoo’s office.

“Yah, Cho Kyuhyun, you ungrateful bastard!” Heechul cursed at him. “You should appreciate the precious time spent with me, your hyung.” Kyuhyun rolled his eyes in reply and stepped outside Jungsoo’s door. “Jungsoo is in a meeting with Siwon, but you can just go in,” Heechul told him before he started leaving. “I need to do some work, but I’ll stop by your house later,” Heechul promised. “I want to see him by myself.”

“Why?” Kyuhyun questioned. It wasn’t like Kyuhyun needed Heechul’s consent to date or fuck whoever he wanted. Kyuhyun was an adult, and he was more than capable to make those decisions for himself.

“Yah, ungrateful child,” Heechul scolded him, and hit him slightly in the arm. “I need to approve of him, of course.” With that Heechul left him alone outside of Jungsoo’s office. Heechul might’ve said he could just waltz in, and that might be how Heechul did things, but Kyuhyun wasn’t disrespectful enough to try something like that. He knew there were different rules for him and Heechul, thus he knocked on the door.

He could hear the faint voice of Jungsoo telling him to come in, and Heechul opened the white door, greeted by the sight of Jungsoo and Siwon, both dressed in expensive suits. They looked slightly at him before Jungsoo smiled invitingly at him – and Kyuhyun entered the large office before he closed the door.

“Kyuhyun, good you could make it here so fast,” Jungsoo smiled, “take a seat,” he pointed to a seat next to Siwon and Kyuhyun didn’t hesitate to sit down. He gave a curt nod to Siwon, who nodded right back at him. “We were discussing Operation Phoenix,” Jungsoo grinned as if it wasn’t obvious. “And I was wondering if you found the thief we need since Sungmin is out. I just spoke to him on the phone, he’s out of action for a while.”

Kyuhyun grinned back at Jungsoo. “I have found a thief,” Kyuhyun replied with confidence. “I wanted to confirm with you first before I actually give him the mission.”

“I trust your judgement,” Jungsoo waved him off. Ready to continue the briefing of their next operation.

“It’s Park Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun continued.

Jungsoo halted slightly, and Siwon looked at him confused, as if that name was supposed to mean anything to him. The FBI was unaware of Siwon’s involvement in Jungsoo’s gang, and they wanted to keep it that way. Siwon was the famous heir to the Choi cooperation, and just recently took over as CEO for the Choi company. The Choi’s company was in another league that Kyuhyun’s would ever be and had deals and minor jobs almost within every area, but their primary area were trains, train export and passenger trains. Even owning several tracks, meant only for their trains. If Jungsoo was in need to transport anything it was usually done in a train owned by Siwon’s company. Siwon’s role to their gang wasn’t any less or more important than anyone else’s, but because of his alibi and role as owner of the company he was often unaware of minor details like this. He was always filled in later, only because Siwon couldn’t be seen with the likes of Hyukjae or Shindong.

If the FBI were to watch them now, they wouldn’t find anything out of the ordinary. Three CEO’s discussing some partnership, probably. Publicly, Siwon could be seen with Jungsoo since his identity was still a mystery for the law enforcement, and Kyuhyun too without raising suspicions. However, if Siwon was seen with Hyukjae or Shindong in public it would raise questions. Not that was really a problem for them, but they couldn’t be too careful.

“That’s an interesting choice,” Jungsoo told him after a while. “But if we can trust him, and he’s skilled, I don’t have any objections.”

“We can trust him,” Kyuhyun confirmed, it was unsaid that he was good. He had gotten through Shindong and Donghae’s security, only the best could pull off something like that.

“So, I’ve decided to push the operation to this weekend. I know we decided on the weekend after, but I see that we no longer can wait,” Jungsoo began, and looked at the two for questions. Kyuhyun slightly wondered why Jungsoo had decided to push the operation forwards. He knew Jungsoo had good reasons for doing something like that, but they had scheduled on something else. Today was Wednesday, meaning they had three days to prepare for Saturday, the day of the operation.

“Can I ask why?” Siwon wondered, asking exactly what Kyuhyun had wanted to ask as well.

“Nick Griffith, despite our multiple warnings has been searching for victims again. Yesterday, Donghae caught his men patrolling a local school, which he knows is prohibited. We’ve already decided to take him down, but to risk anyone else getting endangered I decided to do it this weekend. I don’t want more children end up in his claws.” Kyuhyun could feel the shock ran over his face after hearing the news. He’d been there when Hyukjae had threatened him, he had made it crystal clear what would happen if Griffith if even stepped a toe out of line. Now, Griffith hadn’t really listened to their threats, but he hadn’t done anything as bold as patrolling schools. He was just asking for trouble, and if trouble was what he wanted Kyuhyun would give it to him.

Chapter Text

Ryeowook watched Kyuhyun leave, and he felt even more awkward than when Kyuhyun had been here. He couldn’t claim to know the brunet well, but Hyukjae and Yesung were entirely different. He didn’t know them at all. They weren’t his missions, and he hadn’t talked to them directly unless the time they knocked him out and kidnapped him counted. But it could hardly count. It felt awkward just standing there but joining Yesung on the couch felt weird too. In the end, Ryeowook settled for a chair nearby the couch. He hoped Kyuhyun would come back soon, so he didn’t have to stay like this if it was going to be this awkward.

“So,” Hyukjae began, turning to Ryeowook, a mischievous look in his eyes. He plopped himself down on the couch next to Yesung, and the other showed him slightly away. “How well do you know Kyuhyun?” This question seemed to interest Yesung as well, and he paused the movie once again.

“Uh not at all,” Ryeowook replied, hoping to brush the conversation away. That for some reason made Hyukjae laugh, and he shared a look with Yesung.

“Do you have the hots for him?” Hyukjae continued. “I saw the two of you on the stairs, looked like you were about to kiss.” Ryeowook couldn’t tell if Hyukjae was teasing him, or if he genuinely wanted Ryeowook’s answer, but he guessed the first one.

“I-…” Ryeowook began, not knowing what to say.

“Don’t worry he has the hots for you too,” Hyukjae reassured him quickly.

“Yeah, he looked like he was saying goodbye to his lover,” Yesung helpfully filled in. Ryeowook rolled his eyes, but even so, he could feel himself blush, and he quickly avoided eye contact.

“So, do you?” Hyukjae pressed on, as he noticed Ryeowook hadn’t replied to his question.

“I would rather not talk about this,” Ryeowook replied, and Hyukjae only laughed before he turned back to Yesung.

“He totally likes him,” he told Yesung in Korean. “And Kyuhyun wants him so bad, it’s kind of uncomfortable to watch.”

“You’re just jealous, you’re not getting some,” Yesung replied curtly.

“At least I’m getting more than you,” Hyukjae fired back. To which Yesung answered by pushing Hyukjae away, and the other replied by pushing him again. “So, do you think Kyuhyun will keep him around for long?”

“Not a chance,” Yesung replied quickly, “he never does.”

“Yeah,” Hyukjae agreed, “but I’ve never seen him this interested. Not even in New York.”

Ryeowook wondered how long he was going to allow them to talk over his head, but he had enough when it went on for a while without anything vital got revealed. Ryeowook doubted they would reveal any important information, and it would only be a matter of time, nonetheless, until they found out he spoke Korean since Kyuhyun already knew.

“You guys know I speak and understand Korean, right?” Ryeowook asked them in Korean and watched them both freeze in shock. Realising he’d overheard the entire conversation. Hyukjae was gaping like a fish, and Yesung laughed so much he leaned back on the couch and started to clap.

“You do?” was Hyukjae’s dumbfound reaction, which didn’t help the already laughing Yesung. He was so surprised he even switched languages.

“Hyuk, you owe me ten dollars. Told you he was Korean,” was the only thing Yesung answered when he finally stopped laughing. While Hyukjae still looked betrayed.

“Too bad, I really thought he was Chinese,” Hyukjae mumbled.

“His last name is Park,” Yesung snarky replied as if he couldn’t understand how that hadn’t been obvious. Hyukjae huffed as an answer. The slight fond smile on Yesung’s features as he watched Hyukjae wasn’t missed by Ryeowook.

“Well, I obviously wasn’t thinking straight, I told you to stop betting with me when I’m drunk,” Hyukjae complained, as he walked towards a table to fetch his wallet and pulled out a ten-dollar bill.

“Why?” Yesung grinned victoriously, “I make good money.” He sourly handed the money to Yesung, who snapped the money out of Hyukjae’s hand before he had the chance to take them back.

“Because I lose money,” the other replied like a child, and Ryeowook could hardly picture him being a wanted mobster at the moment. He looked like a kindergartner if anything. With the pouting lip and the crossed arms, and messy hair. He looked like a big man-child instead of someone who was capable of killing you with ease.

“Not my problem,” Yesung replied carelessly, “have you tried not being stupid?” Hyukjae only hit him as an answer but didn’t argue any further. They were silent for a little while, and Hyukjae got comfortable on the couch again before 3he turned to Yesung.

Hyung, if you give me my ten dollars back, I’ll promise to make you dinner,” he cutely asked, and Yesung only laughed while violently shaking his head.

“No thanks, I’ve seen your so-called dinners before. You’re just gonna boil up a cup of instant ramen. Thanks, but I’d rather have the money,” Yesung quickly declined, and the sour expression on Hyukjae’s face only got worse. He sat there pouting like a child, over ten dollars. “I’d like to not die of food poisoning,” Yesung added as one final blow.

“What? How can you say something like that,” Hyukjae seemed a mix between fake and actually offended.

“Hyuk and I mean this well,” Yesung began, “I’ve seen your place, not a chance I’m eating there. FDA would shut down your kitchen if they saw it. I mean, there’s a reason you’re here all the time.” This rendered Hyukjae speechless, and he decided talking to Yesung was boring, so he turned to Ryeowook again.

“So, about you and Kyuhyun,” he smirked and raised an eyebrow. “Are you close?”

“If by close you mean, blackmailing me into working for him, then yes. Incredibly,” Ryeowook answered dryly, which lured a burst of laughter out Hyukjae.

“Oh, that seems so much like our Kyuhyunnie,” Hyukjae replied humoured. “But don’t worry, he still likes you, he let you live. So, you’re actually rather lucky.” Hyukjae remarked, and Ryeowook stopped himself from rolling his eyes and telling Hyukjae sarcastically he wasn’t lucky for not being killed. That was a basic human right. It was like calling someone lucky after crossing a street because they weren’t run down.

“Believe it or not, you’re actually on his good side, you would’ve known if you were on his bad side. And believe me, you don’t want to be on his bad side,” Hyukjae continued, and Ryeowook only shrugged having nothing to add. He knew he wasn’t exactly on Kyuhyun’s bad side, if so, he wouldn’t sit here alive and breathing. If Kyuhyun had disliked him, he wouldn’t have allowed Ryeowook to be here in his house, but Kyuhyun didn’t like him as much as Ryeowook needed him to.

“Wow, he really knows how to make a guy feel special,” Ryeowook replied once again dryly, and the others laughed along. Hyukjae grinned largely when he finally calmed down from laughing.

“You’re really funny,” Hyukjae remarked.

“If Kyuhyun saw you now, he’d kill you for hitting on his potential boyfriend,” Yesung teased Hyukjae, and both black-haired males made a face of disgust. Ryeowook’s was mostly fake, but he was unsure if Hyukjae’s was fake or not.

“Ew, no thanks,” Hyukjae declined quickly, then he looked at Ryeowook. “No offence, ‘s just you’re not my type.”

“Non-taken,” Ryeowook replied back quickly, “you’re not my type either.”

Yesung laughed loudly, while Hyukjae acted offended as if he hadn’t offended the other just seconds earlier. “So, what is your type then, Hyuk?” Yesung asked when he finally calmed down. Hyukjae turned to Yesung and stared at him with wide eyes. He opened and closed his mouth for a few seconds, as if he hadn’t expected the question – and stayed silent for several seconds.

“I-… My type?” Hyukjae asked, almost as he hadn’t processed the question completely. “I don’t know, someone whos’ willing to put up with your bullshit?”

“So, when you’re at the club you try to find someone who’s willing to put with your bullshit?” Ryeowook intrigued which made the others laugh.

“No, of course not,” Hyukjae replied quickly, “I try to find the second most fuckable person in the room since no one beats me.”

“God, you’re such a self-centred prick,” Yesung hit Hyukjae slightly, and Hyukjae replied by rolling his eyes.

“You know what they say, love yourself so no one has to.” Hyukjae quickly replied his tone light, but somehow to Ryeowook, the statement didn’t feel that much of a joke. It felt like it was the truth deep down, but Ryeowook quickly brushed the feeling off. Whether or not Hyukjae had deep-rooted emotional issues wasn’t a part of his mission. All Ryeowook had to focus on was Cho Kyuhyun and getting close enough so he could bring the group down. Yesung got up from the couch, apparently disinterested in the movie – or he knew that he wouldn’t be able to finish it. Hyukjae looked at him expectingly but made no move to get up from the couch.

“I want a cup of coffee, you want anything?” The silver-haired male asked them generally, his eyes swiping between Ryeowook and Hyukjae, but resting longer on Hyukjae. Ryeowook wanted to decline first, but he realised he’d be left alone with Hyukjae when Yesung left. He’d rather not stay with Hyukjae alone, forced to answer whatever questions coming his way.

“No,” Hyukjae said instantly and took a sip of whiskey to prove a point. He already had the beverage he wanted.

“Yes, please,” Ryeowook replied after a while, and Yesung nodded.

“Come with me.” Was all Yesung said before he started to leave the lounge area. Ryeowook didn’t hesitate to follow the other.

“Hey,” Hyukjae yelled after them, “you know he’s my responsibility.”

Yesung laughed as they walked and answered, “we both know he’s really not.” Ryeowook expected Hyukjae to follow them just to prove a point, but the other didn’t move. Instead, he could see in the corner of his eye that Hyukjae got more comfortable on the couch, and switched positions, so he was laying in it. They both knew Kyuhyun it was a reason Yesung was assigned to watch Hyukjae, given his record Ryeowook wasn’t all that surprised. Hyukjae’s record spoke for itself, and that was only the things the FBI knew of. Ryeowook wouldn’t be surprised if there were other things that he didn’t know of that made Hyukjae even more undependable. Kyuhyun, and the others, clearly trusted him, but at the same time, they seemed wary, because of his long record. Which was understandable, and it was reasonable of them seeing as it was the truth.

They quickly arrived at the large kitchen, which was as luxurious as the rest of the manor. It was clean and mostly white in colour, but Ryeowook recognized the expensive kitchenware. The tiles on the wall were beige-white and made the kitchen seem very welcoming. The cabinets were a light shade of grey, and some parts of the lower parts of the kitchen were made out of dark wood, matching the cabinets in colour. There was an island in the middle, with tall bar stools to sit on, on one side – which was made of marble. Most surfaces were of marble in fact. There were several plants across the kitchen to make the kitchen seem livelier, and it worked as a nice contrast to the otherwise calm, modern vibe. The kitchen was very bright due to the large windows that looked out to the garden behind the house, and there were modern-looking black lamps hanging down from the ceiling.

It was clear that Kyuhyun spent a lot of time in the kitchen, or that he hired a personal chef that did. Ryeowook didn’t doubt that Kyuhyun had the money to hire a chef, but it seemed rather unlikely. It seemed like a great deal of the mob work was done at home, and outsiders didn’t seem very welcome. With Kyuhyun’s strict security and all.

Yesung walked over to the coffee machine and put a white coffee cup under it before he pressed a button for his desired coffee. Yesung turned to Ryeowook and smiled politely at him, but the smile didn’t quite extend to his eyes.

“What kind of coffee do you want?” Yesung asked as his own finished. “We got all kinds, caffe latte, cappuccino, americano, latte macchiato, black coffee, espresso, caffe mocha, flat white, ristretto, lungo-…” Yesung was about to continue, but Ryeowook interrupted him.

“Woah man, that’s just going over my head. Black coffee’s fine,” Ryeowook replied before Yesung turned into a Starbucks barista that would make fun of him for not knowing what a Venti Skinny latte was.

“Boring,” Yesung told him, but Ryeowook could see him press the button for black coffee, nonetheless. As they waited Ryeowook decided to take a seat at the barstool, and Yesung sat his cup down next to Ryeowook as a silent way of telling him, he was going to sit there when Ryeowook’s coffee was done.

“So, Ryeowook, how old are you?” Yesung asked, Ryeowook’s coffee was done. The silver-haired male carried the cup to Ryeowook and sat in front of him before he took a seat himself.

“I’m twenty-five, I’m turning twenty-six soon,” he didn’t lie about his age. Park Ryeowook and Kim Ryeowook shared the same birthdate. Mostly, because Ryeowook hadn’t thought it would be important last time he had used this identity. So, the birth certificate said that their birthdates were the same.

“Hm,” Yesung acknowledged, “so, then I’m your hyung,” the older grinned largely. “Actually, everyone around here – except for Kyu – is your hyung,” Yesung continued, and took a sip of his coffee, and Ryeowook did the same. He wished the coffee had a little creamer in it, but he didn’t ask for it, so he drank it black.

“Everyone?” Ryeowook questioned, acting as if he oblivious. “Who’s everyone?” Hoping to get some information but phrasing it as an innocent question.

“Just the inner circle,” Yesung bemused. He didn’t reveal who the inner circle was, but he didn’t need to, Ryeowook already knew who they were.

“I doubt I’ll meet them, so there will hardly be any need for honorifics. I’m just doing a job for Kyuhyun, so he won’t kill me, and then I’m out,” Ryeowook told Yesung casually before he took another sip of the coffee. He eyed the older male for a reaction, but Yesung’s face was disclosed, and he showed no reaction. Not too surprisingly, he had probably practised.

Yesung hummed. “We’ll see,” he replied mysteriously. Ryeowook wanted to ask what he meant by that, but he was disturbed by Hyukjae storming into the kitchen phone in hand. He looked determined and he smiled crookedly when he caught the eye of Ryeowook. Ryeowook didn’t know what the black-haired male wanted, but whatever it was it couldn’t warrant any good.

“I need to take a selfie with you,” Hyukjae declared, and Ryeowook made a face of disgust. Not only did he actually hate taking selfies of himself, but selfies with others? That was just a huge no from him. And having photo evidence of himself, with criminals? No, it seemed like a rather bad idea. Ryeowook didn’t want to take a selfie with Hyukjae at all.

“I really don’t want to take a selfie with-…” Ryeowook began, hoping he could decline politely, but Hyukjae interrupted him. Before Ryeowook knew it the black-haired male was next to Ryeowook and had an arm around his shoulder to trap him. Preventing Ryeowook from escaping the situation.

“Nonsense, it’s important,” Hyukjae discarded Ryeowook’s refusal like noting before he pointed the camera towards the two. Hyukjae grinned as he heard the sound of the shutter, while Ryeowook only seemed uncomfortable. Hyukjae sent it to someone before Ryeowook could only protest, and then Hyukjae’s arm disappeared from him as quickly as it had appeared.

“Who are you texting?” Yesung asked calmly, his coffee almost half-gone.

“Heechul-hyung,” Hyukjae replied quickly. Heechul. Ryeowook had read about him, but he didn’t know much about him. The way Hyukjae pronounced his name didn’t confirm or deny if Heechul was his real name, so Ryeowook was stuck exactly where the FBI were. He typed something on his phone before he locked eyes with Ryeowook. “He thinks you’re cute,” he told Ryeowook, and Ryeowook rolled his eyes as an answer before he returned to his coffee again.

“He says Kyuhyun thinks so too,” Hyukjae added.

Kyuhyun stopped at Donghae’s office on his way out. Technically, Donghae didn’t work for Jungsoo, but the older had provided him with an office, nonetheless. Claimed it was for convenience reasons. Which it was, of course, but it was also one of the many obvious signs Donghae was his favourite. If Hyukjae was only half as fucked up as he was, and sober for at least four days a week, Kyuhyun didn’t doubt he’d have an office here as well. However, Hyukjae wasn’t those things, and therefore he didn’t have an office in Jungsoo’s hotel. He knocked before he entered, where he met Donghae at his more natural habitat.

His suit jacket was abandoned and hung over a chair, his tie was loosened to the point where it was barely hanging around his neck. The brown hair which had been styled this morning was messy and his eyes were a little glossy. There was a half-eaten cup of ramen forgotten on his desk, next to what Kyuhyun assumed was a cold cup of coffee. The older had several screens in front of him, but he was typing on his trustworthy laptop.

“Hey hyung,” Kyuhyun greeted him and gained the attention of the elder, who nodded to him in acknowledgement.

“What can I do for you?” Donghae asked, he knew Kyuhyun came to ask a favour of him. Kyuhyun liked this about Donghae, how he came straight to the point, not wasting any time. Donghae was truly a valuable member to their team.

“I need you to do find everything you can on Park Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun told him.

“I have checked him up,” Donghae reminded him. Not necessarily declining Kyuhyun’s request but reminding him that the job had already been done.

“I know,” Kyuhyun replied. A silent answer to Donghae. “I need you to dig deeper. As deep as you can go. Try to find anything that’s deeply hidden. So, deep covered that you think no one will ever find it. Got it?” Donghae nodded before he took a sip of the coffee. He made a face of disgust, clearly, he hadn’t expected that it would be cold.

“Are you planning on pursuing him?” Donghae and Kyuhyun shook his head. He wasn’t interested in anybody at the moment like that. He liked life as a bachelor. He didn’t need a boyfriend nor did he long for one.

“I’m not planning on doing anything until I know his record is clean,” Kyuhyun told him, and Donghae nodded again.

“Are you going back home now?” Donghae asked, his eyebrow raised. Kyuhyun answered in a short nod. “I heard he’s at yours, and that you’ve replaced Sungmin with Ryeowook.” It wasn’t really a question, but Kyuhyun could tell that Donghae wanted him to confirm it. Kyuhyun face palmed slightly and sighed.

“Jesus, does anyone around here know how to keep their mouth shut?” He asked no one in particular, it was more like a general question. “Yeah, that’s right. I was planning on briefing the mission,” Kyuhyun told Donghae.

Donghae smiled largely and closed his laptop. “Great,” he replied. “I’ve been wanting to meet him. I’m coming with,” Donghae told him. His tone indicated that it wasn’t a question, he was informing Kyuhyun he was coming with. Now Kyuhyun could be stubborn about it, but it would be easier for them both if he just agreed.

Jesus,” Kyuhyun groaned. “I guess it’s a fucking house party, maybe I should just ask Siwon, Jungsoo and Shindong if they’re feeling up for a meet and greet with our newest thief,” Kyuhyun replied sarcastically, and Donghae only laughed as an answer. He grabbed his laptop and suit jacket before they were on their way out.

“Is Heechul-hyung coming too?” he asked Kyuhyun when they were in the elevator. Observant enough to realise Kyuhyun hadn’t mentioned his name, which meant he was already at his house – or coming.

“He said he was coming,” Kyuhyun commented sourly. Folding his arms like an immature child.

“And you’re in a bad mood because?” Donghae asked, once again raising a brow at him.

“He’s treating me like a child! Like I need my parent’s approval for who I can and can’t date,” Kyuhyun raised his voice, and he was clearly annoyed. “I’m capable of judging for myself, and I don’t need anyone’s approval.”

Donghae helpfully answered by laughing, and Kyuhyun replied with an evil glare. “He’s just looking out for you,” Donghae began, Kyuhyun only huffed. It didn’t feel like Heechul, or anyone was looking out for him, rather it felt like they were making Kyuhyun’s business, everyone’s business. “Besides, you know, everyone’s curious about the thief. And what makes him so special that you let him live.” Kyuhyun didn’t comment on it. He understood that people were curious, but they didn’t need to invade his house. And they more than anyone should understand Kyuhyun’s need for privacy. The others constantly complained about the lack of privacy but weren’t good at giving it either.

They were silent for a while before Donghae picked up the conversation. “And why would you need Heechul-hyung’s approval for who to date? I thought you didn’t do dating.” His question was followed by a sly smirk. A silent way of telling Kyuhyun he had him now.

Kyuhyun shut him off shortly. “I’m not.”

“Then what is he doing here?” Donghae intrigued, once again smirking at Kyuhyun. Donghae really knew how to ask the right questions. Spend enough time around Jungsoo, and you learnt to do that.

“He’s just doing a job,” Kyuhyun replied indifferently. Somehow, even if that was the simple truth, Ryeowook was just doing a job, it didn’t feel like the truth. It felt like an excuse, and partly the truth. Like something he was saying to himself, to keep himself from admitting the full truth. Even if there was no bigger picture to admit to.

“Just a job?” Donghae inquired. His voice made it obvious he didn’t quite believe Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun didn’t quite believe himself, but at the same time, he had no other motives for Ryeowook. So far. He would like to sleep with him, but Ryeowook didn’t seem all that willing himself. He’d declined Kyuhyun so far, and Kyuhyun was bound to take a hint. However, he did get mixed signals from Ryeowook, which made him unsure if Ryeowook wanted him or not. Ryeowook had basically told Kyuhyun to chase him, but Kyuhyun wasn’t quite sure if that was his way of rejecting Kyuhyun without receiving the backlash of rejecting someone like him. However, if Ryeowook really thought he was getting out of his grasp that easily, he was wrong. Kyuhyun had warned him to get out before it became too dangerous, and Ryeowook had accepted the challenge. What remained to be seen was if Ryeowook could stand it or not.

Kyuhyun always got what he wanted.

“What more could I hire him for?” Kyuhyun asked and looked at Donghae for an answer. The elevator stopped, and they both walked out of it as the doors finally opened. Once again, he was in the reception. The meeting hadn’t taken long, and hopefully, Ryeowook would survive Yesung and Hyukjae for nearly an hour.

However, Kyuhyun wasn’t naïve enough to believe things would’ve gone smoothly. Either someone would’ve been killed during the time span, or his house would be a war zone. Kyuhyun had problems seeing Hyukjae, Yesung and Ryeowook having a calm and collected conversation together where no one died.

“Professional bedwarmer,” Donghae answered lamely and laughed off his own stupid joke. The joke was so ridiculous that even Kyuhyun chuckled a bit. From there on they stepped outside where Kyuhyun handed his numbered chip back to the same boy, and his car was quickly parked outside of the hotel. One of the many reasons why liked being at Jungsoo’s hotel was how efficient the staff was. Jungsoo treated the staff with respect, so they treated the boss and his orders back with respect. Jungsoo had told the staff that Kyuhyun was a high-priority guest, so whenever he came things always ran smoothly. Things ran like a perfectly oiled machine. They stepped into the car without wasting any time, and Kyuhyun didn’t waste any time taking longer routes or taking stops. He had one destination in mind, he was going back home.

The second Kyuhyun walked in the door of his own home he was met with complete silence. Kyuhyun couldn’t help but scrunch his face up in a weird expression. It felt wrong. He had known Hyukjae for six years, and Yesung for five. He knew how their relationship worked, deep down they cared for each other, but they would never admit that. Instead, they hid it with insults, fights, and arguments. Kyuhyun was pretty sure there were at some point where they actually hated each other, but that was a long time ago. Since then, it had dwindled down to bickering. They weren’t bickering, but it was easy to tell if they were in the same room.

The house was silent, somehow that made Kyuhyun wary. It felt like something was wrong, were Hyukjae or Yesung up to something? Or had something happened to Ryeowook? Kyuhyun went into the living room, only to find it empty. It didn’t really unnerve him yet; he wouldn’t panic until the entire house was searched and he found it empty. He doubted he would find it empty though, Yesung and Hyukjae had no reason to leave, and Ryeowook wasn’t stupid enough to try.

He continued to the kitchen where he found the subjects of his search. Well, almost anyone. Ryeowook and Yesung were seated at the bar stools, calmly talking. There were two empty coffee cups at the counter, but Hyukjae was nowhere to be seen. Although, Kyuhyun could see the empty whiskey glass Hyukjae had had before Kyuhyun left.

“Ah, Kyuhyun. You’re back,” Yesung smiled as he turned to him, and Kyuhyun only nodded as a slight answer. It was obvious that he was back. There was nothing to say to the statement.

“Where is Eunhyuk?” Kyuhyun asked, careful to use Hyukjae’s fake name since Ryeowook didn’t know about his real name. It wasn’t like Kyuhyun thought Ryeowook had any connections to law enforcement, and even if he did, the FBI already knew Hyukjae’s real name, but it didn’t hurt being careful. Being careful had saved Kyuhyun’s ass several times in the past, and he wasn’t going to get reckless now.

“Don’t know,” Yesung shrugged like it wasn’t his problem. “He stunk of sweat and alcohol, and did you see what he was wearing? He’s probably having a shower.” Yesung replied, never one to miss a chance to insult Hyukjae. Especially now that the other wasn’t here to defend himself.

“He’s going to borrow more of my clothes and then never return them, isn’t he?” Kyuhyun asked Yesung, and the older shrugged. Kyuhyun didn’t really want an answer because they both knew the scenario too well. Hyukjae had the habit of never returning Kyuhyun’s clothes back to him, but Kyuhyun could never find himself grow irritated about it because it was just clothes, and he could always buy more.

“Well, it’s not like you can’t afford it,” Yesung mumbled as a reply, but Kyuhyun ignored it. Having thought about the same thing.

“I hope Yesung and Eunhyuk didn’t traumatize you too much,” Kyuhyun continued, finally acknowledged Ryeowook’s presence. Ryeowook looked a little startled, but he quickly recovered and smiled a small, but genuine smile towards Kyuhyun.

“They behaved,” Ryeowook replied, playfulness visible in his eyes. Kyuhyun couldn’t deny he liked it. He liked Ryeowook’s quick wits and sassy remarks. He liked that Ryeowook could be fiery and feisty. “For the most part,” he added as an afterthought, as one last stab. Kyuhyun couldn’t help but laugh loudly at Ryeowook’s reply. It wasn’t what he had expected at all. What he had expected was an off-hand reply of how everything had gone fine. In hindsight, Kyuhyun realised he shouldn’t have expected such a normal reply from Ryeowook. Ryeowook had proven that he was anything but normal several times, yet Kyuhyun continued to be surprised every time Ryeowook proved to be abnormal. He wasn’t exactly weird, but special. Unique enough to intrigue Kyuhyun.

For some reason, Kyuhyun really wanted to drag Ryeowook away and kiss him. Ignore his duties for a little time, and just get lost in pleasure. It wasn’t very professional of him, but Kyuhyun couldn’t claim to have handled the entire ‘Ryeowook situation’ quite professionally. Kyuhyun was just about to order Yesung away and find some fake tasks for the older to do. So he had enough for Kyuhyun to convince Ryeowook about making out, but the plan was quickly debunked. This was the moment where Donghae decided to show himself. He strolled into the kitchen with confidence and nodded at Yesung before he headed for the fridge.

“Kyu, do you have any food?” Donghae asked, but he didn’t wait for a reply before he opened the fridge to have a look inside.

“All you guys do is steal from me,” Kyuhyun fake-complained before he looked at Ryeowook. “Including you.” For a second Ryeowook almost seemed startled, but the shock quickly ran over, and a coy smile replaced his expression. Boldly, he winked at Kyuhyun and Kyuhyun couldn’t help but laugh once again.

“It’s part of the work benefits,” Donghae answered who decided on the leftovers from yesterday. Kyuhyun only scoffed as an answer, but he didn’t discuss it further. They all knew – with maybe the exception of Ryeowook, who was smart enough to figure it out by himself. – That in their line of work, it wasn’t the normal nine to five with benefits kind of work. They were much tighter than that and worked more like a family than co-workers.

“That includes dental too, right?” Hyukjae joked, revealing his presence. His hair was wet, and he was wearing some of Kyuhyun’s clothes, luckily not the fanciest. Black suit pants and a white shirt not fully buttoned, lazily tucked into the pants. Yesung had been right about Hyukjae taking a shower. He usually was, whether he knew or had a feeling. Yesung might claim to hate him, but sometimes it felt like Yesung understood Hyukjae the best.

“You wish,” Kyuhyun answered curtly. He didn’t reply any further, and let the silence sink in. Kyuhyun wasn’t explicitly asking for their attention, but all eyes were on him. “Now that we’re all here,” he began, gesticulating towards Donghae, “I want to brief Operation Phoenix for Ryeowook.” He gave a silent sign to Ryeowook to follow him, and Ryeowook was quick to obey. In reality, Kyuhyun didn’t need Yesung or Hyukjae to be there, but he knew they would demand to be present, so he led the way with Ryeowook in tow. The others silently following.

They walked into another room where they were secluded from the rest of the house. The room was soundproof, just in case, someone decided to try to listen in on conversations. That’s why they usually held group meetings in this room if they were at Kyuhyun’s. Most of the house was secure, but Kyuhyun made sure that this room was extra secure. There were several chairs and couches scattered in a sort of circle facing towards the front. Where Donghae positioned himself. Ryeowook chose to sit down in one of the couches in the centre, and Kyuhyun joined him on the same couch.

Kyuhyun chose deliberately to sit close to Ryeowook, taking an entire couch for themselves. Hyukjae was for a second going to sit down on their shared couch, but Kyuhyun sent him a quick, curt look which made the other reconsider. He chose an armchair not far away. Yesung who seemed in an extra rivalry mood today chose the chair just across from Hyukjae so he could easily stare daggers at him, but also sit as far away as possible. Although Kyuhyun could’ve been modest and chose to sit away from Ryeowook – it was a huge couch after all, enough to fit three adults to sit comfortably, maybe even four – Kyuhyun chose not to. He sat up in Ryeowook’s space and stretched his arm not-so-subtly, so it rested behind Ryeowook.

There was still a bit of space between them, but Kyuhyun, if he wanted to, could lean in and whisper to Ryeowook so only the black-haired male could hear it. Ryeowook didn’t seem to mind. He gave Kyuhyun a small look when Kyuhyun did the cliché stretch, but that was all. He didn’t move nor look uncomfortable. It could’ve been Kyuhyun’s imagination, but to Kyuhyun, it almost seemed that Ryeowook leant slightly closer.

Donghae seemed prepared at the front where he was going to brief the mission. The others had heard it before several times, Kyuhyun had heard it the most, but he gave a nod for Donghae to start.

“Does the name Nick Griffith ring a bell to you?” Donghae asked as he looked solely at Ryeowook, and the entire room turned to watch Ryeowook’s reaction. Kyuhyun had a small feeling he was watching the closest. Ryeowook’s expression was thoughtful for a small second before realisation washed over his face.

“Nick Griffith … He’s the owner of that life insurance company, right?” Ryeowook started slow, he began snapping his fingers as he was trying to remember something. “Chicago Life Insurance?” He asked a bit unsure and looked at Kyuhyun for confirmation. Which Kyuhyun gave him in form of a slight nod and a small smile.

“Yes,” Donghae confirmed, and was about to continue, but Kyuhyun interrupted him to add information.

“Lately he’s been getting into politics for the republicans,” and Ryeowook made a small face. Kyuhyun could instantly tell that Ryeowook wasn’t a fan of the Republican Party, but he wasn’t so either. “Which is … bad. Not because of the Republican Party and their political views, but of who he is. We have reasons to believe he wants a go at being a senator.” Kyuhyun made a small hand motion towards Donghae, giving the attention back to the older, and Donghae made a curt nod before he started up where he was interrupted.

“Nick Griffith or Nicholas James Griffith is an American citizen, born and raised here in Chicago. Born into a privileged lifestyle and built up a company from trust fund money. He’s forty years old and quite conservative. He’s respected because of his well-known company that profits with a couple hundred thousand dollars each year. It’s quite obvious his company is doing good, and that Griffith is quite the businessman. What the public doesn’t know about,” Donghae took a break for a dramatic effect. “Is that Griffith is a huge fucking pedophile.”

Kyuhyun who was still watching Ryeowook could see the shock run over his face, and then the utter disgust. Maybe followed by a sweet little spark of vengeance. All these emotions flashed over his face in seconds, a perfect mixture of emotions. It was quite entertaining watching Ryeowook. Then the little realisation hit him. Every emotion that once had been visible in Ryeowook’s face disappeared and his expression went cold. Kyuhyun couldn’t read him, and in a way, it infuriated him. Usually, could tell exactly what others could think. Ryeowook wasn’t all that simple. Sometimes Kyuhyun what Ryeowook thought, maybe better than anyone else he ever had met, but other times he was closed off and hard to encode. Like a crossword puzzle for kids, and yet one of the most complex enigmas he’d ever encountered.

“Okay, so what does that have to do with me? Why would you need a thief when you have pedophile politician?” Ryeowook asked his voice almost filled with indifference, but Kyuhyun could tell it was mostly fake. It could’ve fooled if him if he wasn’t watching Ryeowook this closely though.

“Good question,” Donghae answered quickly, “I’ll come to that,” he promised before he continued. “Men like Griffith abuse their power, and their positions in the society. And because he has the money, he can basically pay himself out of anything. Taking him to court won’t matter, even if the evidence was stacking up. He can pay off witnesses or make them disappear. Griffith can afford the best lawyers, and even if the trial would end in a sentence, he could pay himself out of it. Men like Griffith are disgusting because they don’t think the law applies to them. And when the American system is so broken as it is, it’s no wonder why he can legally bend and shape the rules for his needs. Abusing that kind of power and use it to molest children is the lowest and most evil thing a man like him can do. And that’s exactly why we need to bring justice to Griffith ourselves. No one else is willing to do it, and the system can’t touch him.”

Kyuhyun nodded in agreement with Donghae’s slight monologue and watched for Ryeowook for any open reaction. He couldn’t spot an obvious expression, but it seemed like Ryeowook was following their premise. What Donghae said made sense. It seemed like the right thing to do because it was the justice brought that their justice system couldn’t bring.

“We want to take Griffith down. This weekend-…” Donghae began, but Yesung and Hyukjae quickly interrupted him.

“This weekend?” Yesung asked with slight disbelief filling his voice. He looked visibly confused, as he checked Kyuhyun and Donghae for reactions. “I thought we were planning on doing it the next weekend.” Hyukjae seemed to agree with Yesung – which was kind of rare.

“I mean, I might be wrong because I was either drunk or high, but I was also under the assumption that it was going to be the next weekend and not this one. I mean, Leeteuk was being a bitch about it and even made me write it down because he didn’t think I was sober.” Kyuhyun fought a sigh that threatened to escape his lips. Only Hyukjae could name-drop Leeteuk’s name like that, but it didn’t cause any damage because Ryeowook already knew Leeteuk’s name. However, Hyukjae had no way of knowing that, and the black-haired should be more careful about it. At least, it wasn’t his real name.

“That’s because you weren’t sober,” Yesung quickly replied. Then sending Hyukjae a look for dropping Leeteuk’s name like that, but Hyukjae didn’t seem to pick up on it. That or he wasn’t willing to, ignoring any signals from Yesung.

“Yeah, but he didn’t know that.” Hyukjae tried to defend himself. However, his arguments fell short.

Yesung looked like he wanted to call Hyukjae dumb in fifteen languages, “do you think he’s stupid?” Was all Yesung mustered up instead. Hyukjae was ready to attack again, and Kyuhyun could foresee an endless argument on their part come. Luckily, Donghae was just as rational and managed to steer the conversation away before it even started.

“As I was saying,” Donghae tried again, regaining everyone’s attention. Maybe, except for Kyuhyun’s, that was split between Ryeowook and Donghae. “This weekend we are planning on making a move. We want to take him down, for good.” Ryeowook nodded slightly as he watched Donghae, his eyes not meeting Kyuhyun’s. Kyuhyun was used to sharing attention, especially since Jungsoo had more credibility and power in their group. But for some reason even if he was used to it, he wanted to keep Ryeowook’s attention to himself. He didn’t want to share it and wanted Ryeowook’s brown eyes glued solely on him. He wasn’t stupid enough to think that ever would be possible, but Kyuhyun wished Ryeowook would look at him too.

“I’m not going to get technical right now,” Donghae promised Ryeowook, “our plan is made up of several steps, each one with a different purpose, but equally important. To sum the plan up, it all comes down to crushing Griffith so there’s no way he can ever return. However, you don’t need to care about that. What we need you to do is steal something of importance,” Donghae took a pause for what Kyuhyun assumed was for dramatic effect. His eyes lingered at Ryeowook for some time before he continued. “Have you heard of Catherine the Great?” Kyuhyun could see recognition flash in Ryeowook’s face, but he still seemed unsure of where he had heard of her.

To make sure Ryeowook knew of her, Kyuhyun leaned closer. Probably closer than he needed to and spoke softly into Ryeowook’s ear. “She was the empress of Russia from 1762 to 1796. Also known as Catherine the second. Under her reign, Russia grew larger, its culture was revitalised, and it was recognised as one of the great powers of Europe.” Ryeowook only nodded in acknowledgement of Kyuhyun’s words, before he diverted his attention back to Donghae.

“After she was crowned empress regnant of All Russia, she was gifted some beautiful jewellery. Quite valuable. Sadly, the jewels have been lost since the second world war and never has been retrieved. It so happens that Griffith collects jewellery, and the finest piece in his collection is the missing jewellery of Catherine the Great.”

It wasn’t difficult to read Ryeowook. Just as it wasn’t difficult for Ryeowook to understand what they wanted of him. They hadn’t told him exactly what they wanted of him, but a break-in and a heist were to be expected. Ryeowook finally turned to Kyuhyun and smiled a sly smile. One that promised adventure and mischief. For a second, Kyuhyun felt awestruck by Ryeowook’s beauty and couldn’t take his eyes off him. He recovered, but a little too late. His reaction had probably been noticed by the others. No one dared comment on it.

“You want me to steal the jewels, right?” Ryeowook asked, and looked back at Donghae, who answered ‘precisely’. Ryeowook nodded, before he began again, “how is that related to taking down a pedophile?”

“It’s more like on final stab than anything. The ‘taking down’ part is reserved for someone else than you,” Donghae answered. Ryeowook didn’t seem surprised or insulted by what Donghae said, but Kyuhyun wished he could’ve said it in a gentler way. Donghae looked to Kyuhyun, and Kyuhyun nodded slightly before he shifted in his seat. He faced Ryeowook mostly now, but he could meet everyone’s eye if he needed to.

“The plan is to take him down completely. When we’re done with him, there will be no way for him ever to come back to power. We want to destroy him, but not kill him,” Kyuhyun began, and Ryeowook shifted his attention over to Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun was surprised by how much he enjoyed having Ryeowook’s sole attention. Now that he had his attention, he didn’t intend on sharing it.

“Why not just kill him? That would be easier,” Ryeowook asked. Ryeowook was right, it would be much easier to kill Griffith, but that would also be too easy. Men like Nick Griffith didn’t deserve the easy way out. They deserved slow agony and the worst imaginable pain. Killing Nick Griffith was stupid and too easy-going.

“It’s true that it would be easier but look at from society’s viewpoint. They don’t know what he is, what he does. The public would see a wealthy man being murdered. How do you think the public would react?” Kyuhyun asked Ryeowook. Enjoying speaking solely to him. Everyone was easy to ignore right now because they already knew the plan. Ryeowook didn’t know of it, and Kyuhyun could lay it all out for him. Flex his intellect and teach Ryeowook. It was maybe strange, but Kyuhyun liked to teach others, it proved to him he was better than them and in a position to teach them something. But at the same time, he taught them so they could be equals. Kyuhyun didn’t bother teaching people who were too far intellectually below him. There was no use in schooling those who were too far under him. That’s why Kyuhyun liked teaching stuff to Ryeowook because they were already almost equal.

“By investigating the murder,” Ryeowook answered easily. He could easily see what Kyuhyun wanted him to see and picked up on the hints Kyuhyun gave away. Talking to Ryeowook was easy because he was smart and was able to see further than his own nose tip. In Kyuhyun’s experience, most people weren’t.

“Precisely,” Kyuhyun confirmed, “they wouldn’t stop until they got the killers. And we don’t want that. But,” Kyuhyun paused for a dramatic effect. “If we break him completely and shows the public what Griffith has done, how do you think the public would react?”

“They would be disgusted by Nick Griffith.” Again, Ryeowook answered so quickly and with ease that it could’ve been practised. As if Yesung or Hyukjae had given him some answers before all this. Of course, they hadn’t, Ryeowook was just smart, but Kyuhyun was still amazed by it.

“Indeed. They would be so repulsed by him, that they forget about us. Sure, there will be those who question who did it and who we are, but that will quickly be forgotten because they want to act against Griffith. We will get away with it, while he’ll face much worse consequences than death,” Kyuhyun continued. His gaze didn’t leave Ryeowook’s at all. And he wondered slightly if Ryeowook, and maybe the others too, could feel the tension? Did Ryeowook know how much Kyuhyun wanted to kiss him right now? Did he know that all Kyuhyun could think of right now, was Ryeowook and how good he would look without clothes and on his bed? Maybe Kyuhyun could make everyone leave soon, and then text Heechul not to come? It could work.

Kyuhyun wondered if Ryeowook felt the intensity too, or if he usually looked this intensely at the people he was speaking to. They were silent for a second too long, before Ryeowook broke the silence. “So, tell me, what is the plan?”

Kyuhyun didn’t answer at once, instead, he answered with another question. “Have you read The Art of War by Sun Tzu?” Kyuhyun had read it, several times. It was quite short, and he could read it in a day. Just like he could read The Communist Manifesto by Karl Marx in just a few hours.

“Yes, a long time ago,” Ryeowook answered. Which didn’t surprise Kyuhyun the slightest. Ryeowook seemed like the kind of guy that would like to read. Especially ancient classics like The Art of War.

“To fight and conquer in all your battles is no supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting,” Kyuhyun citated, “We plan on breaking his resistance by taking everything away from him.”

Donghae left after the entire briefing because he had plans with Jungsoo. He didn’t tell Kyuhyun what those plans were, but Kyuhyun could guess what they were after all the years he’d known them both. Dinner plans. Hyukjae left for a job when Shindong called him in for sudden assistance. Yesung was the last to leave, he lounged around for a while. It seemed like he and Ryeowook hit it off quite well, but he too ended up cutting his visit short. He too didn’t tell Kyuhyun where he was going and was quite vague. Maybe even more than usual, but he left with the promise of having something important to do. When everyone had left Kyuhyun sent Heechul a message where he told the older it was no bother coming. To which Heechul replied: good, I wasn’t going to make it anyways. Kyuhyun wanted to ask what had arisen that made Heechul busy, but he didn’t bother asking. If it had been important Heechul would’ve told him. And if it wasn’t, well then it only proved to be of less importance.

“Well, this has been quite … nice,” Ryeowook hesitated slightly, only meeting Kyuhyun’s eye shortly before his gaze wavered again. “But I should be going,” he started to make a move, but Kyuhyun was quick to stop him. He held Ryeowook around the arm firmly, but not tightly. Ryeowook could easily pull away if he wanted to, but it didn’t seem like the black-haired male had any plans of doing so. Instead, Ryeowook turned to Kyuhyun with expectation written on his face.

“You’re not going anywhere, babe,” Kyuhyun purred, leaning slightly in. So, close that he could hear Ryeowook draw a shaky breath. A large grin spread across Kyuhyun’s face as he heard the sound. He loved the effect he had over Ryeowook, just like Ryeowook was driving him mad.

“You can’t hold me a prisoner until you need me as a thief,” Ryeowook weakly argued, but somehow it didn’t seem like Ryeowook minded staying at Kyuhyun’s all that much. Kyuhyun shrugged slightly, as he closed in on the space between the two of them. He released Ryeowook, so Ryeowook could easily escape him if he didn’t want their close proximity. However, the shorter male made no attempt to move. It seemed like if anything, he welcomed their closeness.

“Maybe not,” Kyuhyun answered playfulness evident in his voice, “but would I really be holding you here a prisoner if you wanted to stay?” He asked, and Ryeowook smiled back playfully.

“There’s nothing you could do to make me stay,” he answered awfully confidently. However, his gaze didn’t leave Kyuhyun’s and Kyuhyun was certain that Ryeowook was occasionally glancing at his lips.

“Oh really?” Kyuhyun asked seductively, he shifted even closer to Ryeowook, while his arm snuck around Ryeowook’s waist. He could feel Ryeowook’s breath fan his skin, and his eyes were full of want. It seemed like Ryeowook’s words didn’t match his emotions. Kyuhyun leaned even closer, but right before their lips touched, he halted. He made sure Ryeowook knew he could stop it if he wanted to. However, Ryeowook didn’t seem like he was going to do so. Had no plans of doing so. “Do you want me to pull away?” Kyuhyun asked, but Ryeowook quickly shook his head in answer. It was answer enough for Kyuhyun, and he pressed his lips against Ryeowook’s.

Kissing Ryeowook was unlike anything Kyuhyun had ever experienced. Kissing Ryeowook felt somehow right. There was no other way for Kyuhyun to explain it. Kyuhyun felt so much want and desire for the other male, and now that he finally got what he wanted Kyuhyun couldn’t stop. Ryeowook’s hands laced itself around Kyuhyun’s neck and pulled the brunet closer, and Kyuhyun’s own hands were busy touching Ryeowook’s body. Before they landed firmly on his hips. The kiss was heated and full of passion. Kyuhyun couldn’t remember ever kissing someone like this. He’d lusted and wanted people before, but never like this.

Their lips moved quickly against each other, but at the same time, it felt like it was the exact right tempo. Ryeowook let out a delicious moan, and Kyuhyun couldn’t help but get slightly turned on by the sound. He never had imagined the black-haired male ever being able to make such sounds. Kyuhyun wanted him to moan even louder, yell and scream his name at the top of his lungs. Kyuhyun wanted Ryeowook in his bed right now, and not in his living room making out. Although he didn’t mind making out with the other, he just wanted to take things further. He wanted more. More of Ryeowook. As much as he could get, and maybe then even more.

Their tongues clashed together and circled slightly against each other. But Ryeowook was quick to retreat and let Kyuhyun explore his mouth while he continued making small, almost inaudible moans. Kyuhyun didn’t know if he’d be able to hear them if he hadn’t been this close. What gave him even greater pleasure, was the knowledge that he was the one making these sounds. He was making Ryeowook like this, no one else.

They parted only because of their need for oxygen, and Ryeowook panted heavily against Kyuhyun. But they didn’t move an inch. Their lust was still evident, and none of them had any intentions of quitting right now.

“Let’s take this upstairs,” Kyuhyun whispered hotly in Ryeowook’s ear. His own breath still uneven. He could see the shivers on Ryeowook’s skin, and another wave of accomplishment filled him. The fact that Ryeowook wanted him, was another turn-on. Ryeowook didn’t seem to disobey the slightest and placed his hands around Kyuhyun’s neck once again. Stealing a little kiss, while his fingers played slightly with Kyuhyun’s brown hair locks. Kyuhyun took that as a positive signal, as he lifted Ryeowook up. Who was surprisingly light. A small yelp of surprise escaped Ryeowook’s lips, and Kyuhyun couldn’t help but chuckle. Luckily, Ryeowook was quick to settle. Ryeowook’s thighs circled around Kyuhyun’s body while his fingers strengthened his hold around Kyuhyun’s neck. Kyuhyun pulled away from their kiss to watch Ryeowook. Ryeowook’s want matched his own, which pleased Kyuhyun a lot.

“Lead the way,” Ryeowook whispered in Kyuhyun’s ear. Probably mostly to tease Kyuhyun, but Kyuhyun didn’t mind. In repayment, he stole a kiss, and got a good grip on Ryeowook’s ass, before he carried Ryeowook up the stairs to his own bedroom.

Chapter Text

It was kind of strange. Or at least, it should be kind of strange. However, Ryeowook felt no feelings of weirdness or bizarreness. All Ryeowook really felt was lust and horniness. Somewhere in his mind, something told him it was way too early to be sleeping with Kyuhyun. Ryeowook should drag it out until he was sure he had Kyuhyun hooked. Christ, it was only their second time meeting. Nothing kept Kyuhyun from dumping him after this. If Kyuhyun wanted to, he could kick Ryeowook out like a regular one-night stand, and never be heard from again. Sure, Ryeowook still had that mission with Griffith, but aside from that, nothing kept Kyuhyun from staying in touch after the job had been done. And nothing, logically, should keep Ryeowook from staying close to Kyuhyun. Logically, Ryeowook should be wanting to get away from Kyuhyun after the Griffith heist if he’d been a regular art thief. He couldn’t give off any odd vibes, because the moment something smelled fishy Ryeowook would be out way quicker than a one-night stand would.

However, Ryeowook doubted Kyuhyun would cast him away after sleeping with him. Something told him Kyuhyun wouldn’t dump him so harshly. It was risky business, to depend on a gut feeling. However, that was how Ryeowook usually did things, and it had kept him alive so far. So, his gut feeling couldn’t be too bad. Kyuhyun wasn’t a regular mobster or a regular criminal for that matter. He was different. Ryeowook couldn’t play him like a fiddle and hope that Kyuhyun wouldn’t discover the scheme. To bait Kyuhyun in, Ryeowook needed to give him small rewards so Kyuhyun couldn’t see the trap he was walking into. Ryeowook couldn’t play an endless game of run-and-catch with Kyuhyun because the mobster would grow tired and find a new source of entertainment.

Ryeowook would never have a chance if Kyuhyun moved on. He needed to give Kyuhyun something to keep him around.

Besides, Park Ryeowook – the art thief – had no real reason for holding back. Sure, he had the fake code of morals, but Park Ryeowook would quickly cast that away if the reward were big enough. Sleeping with Cho Kyuhyun was a big enough reward.

Ryeowook didn’t have much time studying Kyuhyun’s bedroom as he was thrown on the large king-sized bed, but from what he gathered the room stood in style with the rest of the house and looked luxurious. Kyuhyun didn’t waste time doing anything, as he quickly joined Ryeowook on the bed. He climbed over him and hovered slightly over Ryeowook. Kyuhyun’s brown searched his face, for some kind of emotion – probably something that said that Ryeowook had changed his mind. He hadn’t. Kyuhyun seemed pleased with what he found, as he smiled a satisfied smile before he slowly leaned in to kiss Ryeowook. Ryeowook was quick to meet him halfway, before they kissed again.

This time, the kiss was much slower, and Ryeowook found that he enjoyed this much better. This time Kyuhyun really took the time to kiss Ryeowook. Instead of being blinded by lust, Kyuhyun let himself enjoy the kiss in a slow, but intimate way.

He could feel the harshness of Kyuhyun’s lips, and the way his tongue roamed around in his mouth. It was hot and full of desire. This kiss had more lips and less teeth and was more enjoyable. A low sound escaped Ryeowook’s throat, but it sounded so alien and foreign he wasn’t quite sure that it was actually from him. Ryeowook had never really been the vocal type when it came to sex, and especially when it came to kissing, but here he was moaning, just because Kyuhyun decided to bite his bottom lip. Kyuhyun’s larger hand found its way under his shirt, and Ryeowook shivered at the skin contact, but he didn’t pull away. Instead, he leant further into the touch in a silent way of telling the mobster that he enjoyed it. His hand wandered under Ryeowook’s shirt, and Kyuhyun pulled slowly away from Ryeowook to catch some oxygen – but not before savouring the feel of Ryeowook’s lips pressed again his own. When Kyuhyun kissed him again, it was brief before he attacked Ryeowook’s neck with hickeys. He sucked, bit and kissed Ryeowook’s neck as he pleased – and more embarrassing sounds escaped Ryeowook’s lips without his permission.

“You’re so beautiful,” Kyuhyun murmured against Ryeowook’s skin. The words alone were enough to send shivers down Ryeowook’s spine, and he was slightly unsure if he was blushing or not. The mobster shouldn’t have this effect on Ryeowook, but Ryeowook had always known he was attracted by Kyuhyun, so it wasn’t all that surprising. Kyuhyun seemed pleased by Ryeowook’s reaction because when he went back to make more hickey’s it was with a new kind of determination.

Ryeowook could feel a grin against his neck when Kyuhyun found a particular sweet spot and decided to devote some extra care for that particular spot. His hand still roamed on Ryeowook’s chest, but they seemed to be taking a course downwards to cup his ass. Ryeowook could feel the familiar warmth pool up below his stomach; he was getting hard. A voice in the back of his head told him he shouldn’t be here getting hard by a murderous criminal, but the voice was silent and almost inaudible. It was hard to listen to it when Kyuhyun made him feel like this. Slowly he rolled his hips against Kyuhyun’ groin, and he could hear a satisfying groan escape Kyuhyun’ lips before he bit down on Ryeowook’s neck; the mark would still be there tomorrow. Probably for days. Kyuhyun was marking his territory – although allegedly Ryeowook wasn’t Kyuhyun’s. However, Ryeowook didn’t mind all that much. Hickeys were clear but silent signals. They spoke for themselves, and no one needed to fill in the spaces.

“Mm, Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun mumbled slowly, and Ryeowook had to force down another moan. Who would’ve thought Kyuhyun could say his name like that? In response to that Ryeowook decided to roll his hips again, and Kyuhyun’s one hand quickly found his right hip and gripped it harshly. Probably to prevent him to do so, because Kyuhyun wanted to control the situation. He wanted to be the one with the control and power, the power to decide or to decide not to. Kyuhyun seemed like he was like that, but Ryeowook hardly minded. Kyuhyun couldn’t be Leeteuk’s second in command if he didn’t want and crave power. Kyuhyun might be unwilling to loosen the reigns, but Ryeowook found out that he didn’t need Kyuhyun to. He had Kyuhyun exactly where he wanted him, and Kyuhyun had Ryeowook where he wanted him.

Ryeowook if he wanted to, could remind Kyuhyun that even if he let Kyuhyun steer it didn’t necessarily mean Kyuhyun was in charge. However, he decided not to be a little tease for now. He could always show Kyuhyun he was independent in other ways later. When Kyuhyun seemed satisfied with the work on Ryeowook’s neck he moved on to the next part. Kyuhyun’s long slender fingers started on the work of buttoning up Ryeowook’s shirt. Before the black-haired male was even aware of it, the shirt was off and tossed in some random direction.

He wouldn’t be too surprised if the shirt would be missing some buttons, but Ryeowook couldn’t mourn the loss of the shirt, it wasn’t even his, technically. Technically, it was the FBI’s, or at the very least, it was his but paid by the FBI. Ryeowook could hardly mourn a shirt he’d only used once. If he demanded it enough, Kyuhyun would just buy him a new shirt. The brunet seemed pleased to see Ryeowook shirtless and wasted no time to stare at his naked chest before he was kissing him again. This time it was slow. Painstakingly slow, but Ryeowook enjoyed this kiss too. Every kiss Kyuhyun gave him seemed to surpass the previous one, but it could be Ryeowook’s unreliable mind that was too caught up in pleasure. Everything Kyuhyun did to him seemed better than the previous one.

His hands moved from Kyuhyun’s neck and down his back. Sneakily his long fingers slipped under Kyuhyun’ white shirt and explored the feel of skin. For a little while, Ryeowook tried to do a sad attempt to button the shirt off, but he very little success in doing so. Luckily, Kyuhyun got the hint and removed it for Ryeowook with ease. The shirt along with the tie was tossed somewhere too, but Ryeowook didn’t even pay attention to where it was tossed. All, he cared about was Kyuhyun. And wow, he was shirtless. Kyuhyun was hovering over him, eyes for no one else than Ryeowook – and he was shirtless. Ryeowook had seen men shirtless before, it wasn’t that that put him off. It was the intenseness of Kyuhyun’s stare, the way Kyuhyun’ brown eyes studied Ryeowook – and apparently liked what he saw. His eyes were filled with lust, and Ryeowook liked that. He felt wanted.

Ryeowook had slept with people on the job before, but this was nothing like those previous encounters. Usually, when Ryeowook got laid on missions it was quick, and purely out of pleasure. Usually, Ryeowook would define encounters like that as quick fucks, but this entire affair with Kyuhyun was different. He was sleeping with Kyuhyun, it was just some random fuck with some guy Ryeowook would never meet again. Already now, Ryeowook could tell that this would be different.

“C’mere,” Kyuhyun ordered Ryeowook, yet he was the one who leaned into Ryeowook and kissed him again. The kiss was full of the desire and lust Ryeowook had seen in Kyuhyun’s eyes, and he parted his mouth slightly to invite Kyuhyun in. The younger man didn’t miss out on the chance as he deepened the kiss, angling his head slightly to get a better angle. Ryeowook could feel so much of Kyuhyun’s bare skin against his own, and it felt so intimate. Ryeowook marvelled in the feeling of Kyuhyun so close, but at the same time, he craved even more. As Ryeowook allowed Kyuhyun to kiss him, he let his own hand to wander across Kyuhyun’s bare skin. Kyuhyun’s back was stronger, and more muscled than his own, but Ryeowook found that he liked it. He liked it a lot. At least, if he were to go by his boner. Normally, Ryeowook would’ve found it embarrassing, but he could feel Kyuhyun’s hard member pressed against his thigh, and that made all feelings of embarrassment fade. Kyuhyun wanted him equally as much as Ryeowook wanted him.

Once again, Kyuhyun broke the kiss and kissed down his nape. Slowly working down on his neck, leaving marks where he deemed it worthy, and Ryeowook moaned in response. By the way Kyuhyun smiled, bit and sucked into his skin Ryeowook could only guess he loved the response Ryeowook was giving him. After a while, Kyuhyun seemed to grow bored of that and moved on to something else. The brunet lifted his head slightly, and some of his hair fell in his eyes. Yet Ryeowook still had a clear view of his face. Kyuhyun’s brown eyes were glued to Ryeowook’s, and the mobster’s gaze didn’t waver even once. Their eyes were locked, at Ryeowook could feel his own body grow hot by the intensity of the atmosphere. Ryeowook wanted Kyuhyun so much that he could hardly keep himself off him, and Kyuhyun craved him as much. The younger mobster was the first to break away from Ryeowook’s gaze by sinfully licked down his chest until he reached Ryeowook’s left nipple, and his tongue swirled around it, slowly. Ryeowook shivered in response and a small, broken moan escaped his lips. God, the things Kyuhyun was doing to him.

“K-Kyu,” Ryeowook mumbled lowly, unable to even form his full name. Too lost in pleasure, but Kyuhyun didn’t seem to mind the slightest. If anything, he seemed more encouraged. Because the mobster deemed this to be the right moment to bite down on his nipple and sucked on it. Ryeowook could feel himself grow harder, as Kyuhyun played with his nipple sucking, biting, and tugging on it. Before he diverted his attention to the right nipple. Ryeowook could feel his nipples growing sore, but at the same time, it didn’t feel bad. It was in a good kind of way, and he moaned once again in pleasure. Kyuhyun was loving the vocal response he got from Ryeowook.

Kyuhyun leaned slowly away when he finished with Ryeowook’s nipples, but this time Kyuhyun leaned away in favour of removing the rest of their clothes. The younger male’s large fingers fumbled slightly with the button of Ryeowook’s suit pants, and the black-haired male could hear a slight rumble that sounded a lot like ‘pants off’ but didn’t quite register it before his pants were thrown away probably following the direction of his shirt. Ryeowook tried to do the same thing with Kyuhyun’s suit pants, and they too were disregarded, before Kyuhyun’s almost naked body was pressed against his again. The only piece of fabric that separated them was their boxers. It was hot seeing Kyuhyun like this. He was almost naked, but yet a powerful aura surrounded him. It was slightly less powerful, and Ryeowook felt like they were more equal. The dark atmosphere that always surrounded Kyuhyun was still present, but it was changed. Ryeowook had the feeling that he was watching a more intimate side of Kyuhyun. One that few people got to see. A feeling of honour washed over Ryeowook because he realised not many had seen Kyuhyun like this, and not many people would.

It was weird. It was weird that Ryeowook was proud that he was one of few people that had been intimate with Kyuhyun like this. He, an FBI agent, was proud of being so close to Kyuhyun, a criminal. This was his mission and not a sexual relationship. However, Ryeowook couldn’t make the feeling go away. He felt proud, even if it was slightly wrong. Kyuhyun affected him in strange ways, this was just one example. Already, Ryeowook had the habit of sometimes forgetting that this was a mission and not just a flirty encounter with a hot mafia boss. Ryeowook was kind of scared to proceed with the mission. If Kyuhyun already affected him so, he didn’t want to see what the future may hold. However, when Kyuhyun leaned in again and pressed their lips together, Ryeowook didn’t resist for a second. The black-haired male didn’t push the mobster away or try to stop while they were ahead. Ryeowook welcomed the gesture and moved accordingly to continue the act even further.

They made out for a couple of hot minutes, but Kyuhyun seemed to grow impatient and decided to take it further. Kyuhyun quickly removed the last piece of clothing and took some seconds just to stare at Ryeowook. Hotness in Ryeowook’s cheek appeared, this time Ryeowook was certain he was blushing. He was flustered, hard and the precum was leaking already. Kyuhyun couldn’t wait just to fuck him.

His toned, muscled arm stretched over Ryeowook to reach the nightstand to find a bottle of lube and a condom placed there previously by himself for easy access. Most things Kyuhyun did was plotted out. Even the placement of lube and condoms; it was easy to reach both within seconds. Kyuhyun stroked his finger against Ryeowook’s cock, and gripped it lightly giving it a few test pumps. The whimper from Ryeowook’s lips seemed sinful, and Kyuhyun grinned slightly. It was so hot knowing that he had done this to Ryeowook. He was the cause of this. That he could have this effect on the other Korean male really did wonders to his ego. Ryeowook seemed experienced enough, although, Kyuhyun doubted Ryeowook and he had the same body count. A tug of jealousness spread through Kyuhyun as he realised Ryeowook had had other partners than himself. And would have other partners in the future – well unless Kyuhyun decided to keep Ryeowook around. Kyuhyun wasn’t quite sure what he wanted from Ryeowook, he wanted sex, and he wouldn’t mind sleeping with Ryeowook again. However, was that enough to keep Ryeowook around?

“Kyuhyun,” Ryeowook moaned, and Kyuhyun’s grin grew. God, Kyuhyun wasn’t sure if there was anything better than Ryeowook moaning his name like that. He wanted to hear it again and again, over and over until Ryeowook’s was hoarse and unable to make any sound. Kyuhyun wanted to please and wreck Ryeowook all at once. Make Ryeowook forget about anyone else and make at least this night unforgettable.

“Don’t worry baby,” Kyuhyun promised, “I’ll help you.” He took the bottle of lube squirted a lot onto his three fingers, carefully slicking them up. It would probably hurt Ryeowook a little, but Kyuhyun would try to be as gentle as he could. He moved slightly and positioned himself better, so he had a better angle of Ryeowook’s ass. “I’m gonna put the first finger in,” he informed Ryeowook, but Ryeowook didn’t seem to care that much. He was lying beautifully against the pillow, his black hair locks scattered across the white pillowcase. So good, just waiting for Kyuhyun to do something. Slowly his left hand spread his ass cheeks, and Ryeowook moved slightly so Kyuhyun got better access. He put the tip against the rim, and he could feel Ryeowook’s body tense up before the older male took a deep breath to calm himself.

Slowly Kyuhyun started to move the finger in, he could see Ryeowook squeeze his eyes shut as he forced himself to relax and take Kyuhyun’s finger. The younger male let Ryeowook get some moments to adjust before he started to move his finger slowly. He curled it slightly and heard a sharp intake of breath from Ryeowook, but he didn’t tell Kyuhyun to stop so the brunet continued, working the finger slowly in and out.

Ryeowook was so hot and tight inside, and Kyuhyun could feel a wolfish grin spread on his face. God, he couldn’t wait to fuck Ryeowook so hard that he could hardly walk tomorrow. Even if the lust was flowing through his veins, he didn’t let himself hurry up and do a sloppy job – it had to be enjoyable for the both of them. He slowly worked the finger in and out of Ryeowook’s ass, his body was tense but willing. He probably needed a bit more prepping before Ryeowook was ready for the second finger. A slow whine escaped Ryeowook’s lips, and Kyuhyun’s smirk grew, as curled his finger slightly, hoping to get the same reaction from Ryeowook again. Ryeowook whined again, and Kyuhyun smiled down at the beautiful male before he pulled the finger out and added more lube. Slowly he started to work it in again. He worked the finger to the knuckle and got to hear a loud gasp from Ryeowook, which pleased Kyuhyun a lot. He could feel his own desire swell as he looked down on Ryeowook, every reaction from Ryeowook was perfect. Kyuhyun couldn’t ever remember having a sexual partner that pleased him this much, or that he found this attractive. Ryeowook was surely something else.

Eventually, Kyuhyun decided to put a second finger in, and as he did, he heard Ryeowook gasp loudly.

“Oh my god,” Ryeowook mumbled in Korean, and Kyuhyun could feel himself grow a little harder just by hearing the few Korean words. There was something unmistakable sexy when Ryeowook spoke in Korean. Kyuhyun could probably hear him speak Korean every hour of the day. Maybe he should just stop speaking English with Ryeowook, and just go over to Korean? It was at least something Kyuhyun should dwell over, even if this wasn’t the right time.

“Oh, you’re so sexy when you speak Korean,” Kyuhyun mumbled, leaning over and kissing Ryeowook slowly. The kiss was slightly awkward, but they were both too horny to even care. He slowly worked both fingers in and stretched them slowly, and Ryeowook lifted his hips slowly to chase the feeling of Kyuhyun’s fingers. Kyuhyun was pretty sure he’d never seen anything as sexy as Ryeowook right now. He ached his head slightly back, eyes still shut tight. Kyuhyun could see the red hickeys already starting to form, and Ryeowook’s mouth was slightly open before a low moan escaped those sweet lips. God, Kyuhyun wanted him so much.

It was almost unbelievable that this was shown privately just for Kyuhyun, and not for anyone else. The thought that anyone would ever see Ryeowook like this sent a weird possessive urge around his body. Ryeowook was slightly flushed, turned on and so beautiful, and the way he looked at Kyuhyun turned the mobster on. He scissored his fingers inside Ryeowook, slowly preparing Ryeowook to take his dick. His body seemed to adjust faster now that it was getting used to being filled.

“I think you’re ready for a third finger,” Kyuhyun told Ryeowook, and pulled his finger out, and Ryeowook whined at the new emptiness.

“Yes please,” he begged, his brown eyes met Kyuhyun’s, and Kyuhyun licked his lips. Ryeowook looked so hot and fuckable like this. Ryeowook’s eyes were slightly dilated, and he looked at Kyuhyun with an intense look. Nothing else had Ryeowook’s attention right now outside of Kyuhyun, and Kyuhyun gloated in the attention. Bathed in it. Loving how he as of now was the centre of the universe for Ryeowook. This exact feeling was why Kyuhyun craved attention, and it was nothing better when it came from Ryeowook. No one else, Kyuhyun was almost certain of it, could ever make him feel like this. Maybe Kyuhyun should keep Ryeowook around, just for the god-complex feeling he got from Ryeowook?

Gradually he worked the three fingers into Ryeowook’s asshole, and Ryeowook whimpered slightly as his ass was filled up again. Kyuhyun started to work his fingers into Ryeowook at a steady pace. Ryeowook’s body was reacting to Kyuhyun’s motions and tried to synchronize his pace, Ryeowook moved his hips slightly so the fingers would go deeper. More whimpers and moans escaped Ryeowook’s lips, and the ache that had been there previously seemed to have faded, and moans of pleasure replaced it, instead. Kyuhyun moved his fingers deeper inside of Ryeowook and he curled his fingers until he hit a bundle of nerves, that lured a particularly loud moan out of Ryeowook. Kyuhyun couldn’t help but smirk, he’d found it, Ryeowook’s g-spot.

“Are you ready for my cock, baby?” Kyuhyun asked as he pulled his fingers out, but it wasn’t actually a question. He knew Ryeowook was. He just wanted to hear it come from the smaller male’s mouth. To hear if confirm what he already knew, because that already settled what Kyuhyun already knew. That he really was that good, and Ryeowook wanted him badly.

Yes,” he whined in Korean, “yes, please,” he added as an after-thought, and Kyuhyun couldn’t help but grin again. He had Ryeowook so worked up that the black-haired male confused the two languages, it seemed like an award in itself.

“You’re so good, so good for me baby,” Kyuhyun mumbled as he repositioned himself so he could fuck Ryeowook. The slightly older male heard what Kyuhyun, but he didn’t seem to care all that much, as a needy whine escaped his lips. Kyuhyun took on the condom and slicked his own dick up with lube, adding probably a bit too much, but he would rather be safe than sorry. He didn’t think Ryeowook would complain about excessive use of lube, but he would if he used too little.

“So needy,” Kyuhyun mumbled into Ryeowook’s skin when Ryeowook urged him to continue. But he didn’t dwell on it anymore, and slowly positioned himself to enter Ryeowook’s ass. His tip was slightly teasing Ryeowook’s hole, for a few seconds, before an even needier whine escaped Ryeowook, and Kyuhyun slowly slid in. Ryeowook was warm and hot inside, and Kyuhyun groaned in pleasure as he pressed deeper into Ryeowook, but he stilled for a moment. He could see Ryeowook breathe heavily, and Kyuhyun let Ryeowook have some moments to adjust.

“You’re so hot,” Kyuhyun whispered to Ryeowook, and Ryeowook met his eyes before he smiled bashfully. God, he was so fucking beautiful. Kyuhyun couldn’t contain himself, and ducked down to kiss Ryeowook, which the other male happily responded to. Kissing Ryeowook was so different from kissing anyone else, Kyuhyun really didn’t want to compare other one-night stands and affairs with Ryeowook, but he couldn’t help it. Ryeowook just felt different from what others did. They fit like two pieces of a puzzle. Just right. Kyuhyun didn’t quite believe in soulmates and the concept of ‘the one’, but Ryeowook felt hand-crafted just for him. If Ryeowook slept with anyone else, it almost felt like a betrayal. Kyuhyun wanted Ryeowook, needed him. He wasn’t quite sure if he’d be able to share him with anyone else.

“You can – ah – move,” Ryeowook told him after a minute seemed to have passed. Kyuhyun would’ve expected Ryeowook to need more time, but he needed to remind himself that Ryeowook had slept with other guys before, he was experienced. A weird possessive feeling filled his chest when the realisation that other people had seen Ryeowook like this hit him. In a strange way of claiming him, Kyuhyun leant down and kissed him, biting his bottom lip, harshly enough to bruise him. Slowly he started to move, he pushed deeper inside, before he slowly pulled out and did it again. Ryeowook’s eyelids fluttered shut as a content sigh left his throat.

Kyuhyun moved in and out slowly, trying to settle on a steady pace, and he felt himself groan again. Ryeowook felt so good, and he told the black-haired as much. Ryeowook flushed slightly at the compliment, before he gasped, as Kyuhyun thrust in slightly too harsh. However, it seemed like Ryeowook liked it. Maybe Ryeowook liked it rough? Kyuhyun started to thrust slightly harder into Ryeowook, and the other male seemed to enjoy it. If you were to go by his moans.

“You’re so good for me, babe. So perfect, just for me,” Kyuhyun complimented Ryeowook, and a smile graced Ryeowook’s angelic face.

“Mm, Kyuhyun,” Ryeowook whimpered, and Kyuhyun swore he could probably get hard just by the way Ryeowook said his name. Kyuhyun leant closer again towards Ryeowook and kissed him for what felt like an hundreth time. Ryeowook didn’t spend time battling for dominance and allowed Kyuhyun’s tongue to roam wherever it wanted. They parted slightly when their need for oxygen became larger than their need for each other. Yet Kyuhyun stayed close, only inches apart from Ryeowook, as they two shared a secret smile. Kyuhyun kissed Ryeowook’s neck before he decided to mark that particular spot, hoping the mark would last for a few days. Just so the world would know that Kyuhyun had been there, and Ryeowook didn’t belong to anyone else.

He thrust in with a steady, now faster, pace, and they moaned in unison. By the vocalness of Ryeowook Kyuhyun knew he’d hit that particular buddle of nerves.

“Ah, Kyuhyun! Again, please,” Ryeowook begged him, and how was Kyuhyun supposed to turn down such a sweet request? He couldn’t and didn’t fail to comply as he thrust towards that spot once again. Kyuhyun continued his steady rhythm, but it was faster and heavier now, more urgently. He knew he wouldn’t last much longer now. Ryeowook continued to moan and sigh in pleasure, sometimes the moans would be replaced by his own name. It was a hot sight, the only thing that was hotter was the knowledge that this was Kyuhyun’s work. He single-handily had done this to Ryeowook. This was all his, and he had laid a claim on it by multiple bite marks and hickeys. Ryeowook looked thoroughly fucked, but that was exactly what Kyuhyun was aiming for. He wanted anybody and everybody that observed Ryeowook for only a second that Cho Kyuhyun had been there.

“Ryeowook, you feel so good,” Kyuhyun groaned as he continued to thrust into Ryeowook, and Ryeowook moaned loudly again as he hit that sweet spot. He could feel the familiar warmth pool up in his stomach, God Kyuhyun was so fucking close. Ryeowook looked so hot and so pleasured, and Kyuhyun just wanted to see the male’s face as he cum. He didn’t look like he would last much longer either.

“I’m gonna cum inside you,” Kyuhyun told Ryeowook, and Ryeowook moaned in agreement. His thrusts were growing sloppier, as pleasure seemed to take over his body. Kyuhyun’s hand moved to Ryeowook’s hot cock, and wrapped his hand around it, and started jerking it off.

“Mm, Ryeowook!” Kyuhyun was nearing the edge before he came hard inside Ryeowook.

“Ah, Kyuhyun,” Ryeowook moaned following only moments later after Kyuhyun, his own cum splattered on his stomach. It looked messy and hot. Kyuhyun could feel the bliss creep over him, and he let the wave of pleasure take over. When Kyuhyun came down from the high he pulled out of Ryeowook, and took off the condom, and tied it shut. Ryeowook was still a little faint, but Kyuhyun didn’t mind as he watched the sigh fondly. Ryeowook was lying there stark naked, cum splattered over his chest, his chest was heaving, and he was slightly sweaty. His small black curls were lying all over the white pillow, and even if Ryeowook looked a mix between tired and pleased he looked so beautiful. Kyuhyun hadn’t been kidding when he said Ryeowook was his type, but he didn’t think he’d ever seen some that so fitting to his criteria. Ryeowook was so fucking gorgeous and wanted to sleep with Ryeowook again.

He got up and got a towel from the bathroom that was only separated by a door in his bedroom. Slowly Kyuhyun took a white towel and wetted it slightly, while he tossed the used condom. He cleaned Ryeowook first, then himself and lastly the bed. The mess was improved a lot, even if there would still be some for tomorrow. However, Kyuhyun didn’t care all that much. He could just get someone to clean it for him, and if not, he could just throw the entire bedsheets and buy new ones. Kyuhyun tossed the towel away and climbed into bed again. He pulled Ryeowook closer, and the smaller male was quick to cuddle up in his arms. The sight in itself was adorable, and a content smile played around Kyuhyun’s lips. Kyuhyun spooned the other male, their bodies were both sweaty – but Kyuhyun couldn’t care less. Their heavy breaths quickly mixed together before they drifted to sleep.

Ryeowook woke up to the daylight blinding him in his sleep. Because of what Kyuhyun and he had done together the previous evening the curtains hadn’t been pulled together, and now the sun was shining brightly in and lighting up the entire room. Somehow, however, Kyuhyun continued to sleep soundly, with one arm lazily slung around Ryeowook. Ryeowook didn’t mind the closeness one bit, but he couldn’t help but blush slightly when the memories returned more vividly back to him. He had really slept with Kyuhyun, and he had enjoyed it too. Ryeowook could probably go as far and say it was the best sex he’d ever had.

At least, if Ryeowook managed to pull the mission off and start dating Kyuhyun, he wouldn’t have to fake the sex part. Kyuhyun was very attractive, and he was more than capable of pleasuring Ryeowook. All Ryeowook wanted to do was laze around for a while and sleep in Kyuhyun’s bed. Which was oddly comfortable. Ryeowook thought his own bed at home in D.C was comfortable, but this was just next level. How could a bed be this comfortable? Maybe it was the post-sex vibe that made the bed feel more comfortable, but he was certain the brunet sleeping beside him had spent a great deal on this bed. Kyuhyun’s arm tightened slightly around Ryeowook, and Ryeowook felt himself cave into the touch. Maybe Ryeowook shouldn’t desire to cuddle with one of Chicago’s most dangerous men, but the bed was comfortable, and Kyuhyun provided heat. Begrudgingly, Ryeowook had to admit that sleeping next to Kyuhyun like this wasn’t all bed. Especially, if he was holding Ryeowook like this.

Ryeowook wouldn’t mind spending a few hours like this. However, that didn’t seem all that possible after a few minutes of lying content like this. He was thirsty and he had to pee. The black-haired male wouldn’t mind a shower as well, but maybe Ryeowook could get Kyuhyun to share a shower with him. To remind Kyuhyun not to discard Ryeowook, now that Kyuhyun had finally gained what he sought. Sex. Silently Ryeowook got up from the bed, careful not to stir Kyuhyun up. He didn’t know where a toilet would be, it wasn’t like Kyuhyun had given him a grand tour of the house. However, he was lucky enough that a bathroom wasn’t all that far away. Exactly just a few feet away from it, as it turned out that the bedroom had a private toilet.

When Ryeowook had finished at the toilet he went on to find some water. The black-haired had watched the others leave yesterday, and he knew for a fact that they were alone in the manor unless someone had arrived since then, which seemed rather unlikely. Even so, it felt weird, and almost rude, to walk around in Kyuhyun’s house naked. Ryeowook rarely walked around naked in his own home. However, one look at his shirt confirmed Ryeowook’s previously suspicions, when Kyuhyun had taken it off he’d ripped up quite a few buttons. The shirt was practically unwearable. His boxers were fine, so Ryeowook picked those up, and for a quick attire, he took something of Kyuhyun’s that was already hanging around. Ryeowook stretched for a black fabric that was hanging on a nearby hook, when Ryeowook studied it closer he discovered it was a black silk robe. And in the back was a grand red Chinese dragon. The robe seemed expensive, and Ryeowook wouldn’t be all that surprised if the pattern was hand-sewn. The robe didn’t have any pattern on the front except for a red ‘K.C’ right on the left chest. The red colour matched the dragon’s, and it was obvious that this robe was personalized for Kyuhyun when it had his initials on it. However, Ryeowook didn’t think Kyuhyun would it too much if he borrowed it for a few seconds. The robe was slightly too big for Ryeowook, obviously tailored specifically for Kyuhyun, but Ryeowook manage. He knit the robe shut and found the silk robe was quite comfortable. The black-haired male turned to watch Kyuhyun, who was still sleeping peacefully before he exited the room. Ryeowook hadn’t paid that close attention to where Kyuhyun had led them when he’d carried Ryeowook upstairs, but the staircase was so huge it was hard not to spot.

He was back in the kitchen within a minute, and Ryeowook drank a glass of water before he was headed upstairs again. There was no use for him to linger downstairs, and frankly, Ryeowook found the bed next to Kyuhyun more tempting than the first floor. Sure, Ryeowook could use this chance to snoop around, but if Kyuhyun found him snooping he would have no way of explaining it, and Kyuhyun would instantly realise something was up. It was better to get the information he needed slowly, without raising suspicion. As he was headed upstairs Ryeowook heard it. A faint knock on the door, followed by a loud doorbell.

Who could that be?

Somehow, Ryeowook didn’t think it was someone from Kyuhyun’s inner circle. He had the suspicion that if Yesung, Hyukjae or whoever wanted to come inside they would just walk in because they were that close to Kyuhyun. Whoever was knocking on the door was someone that wasn’t that as close to Kyuhyun. The person outside, head obviously gotten through Kyuhyun’s security, so they had to be close of sorts, but not close enough to just waltz right in.

Maybe Ryeowook should ignore it and walk upstairs again. He could tell Kyuhyun he’d heard the doorbell, and the brunet could deal with it just like he pleased. It seemed to liken the right thing to do, since this wasn’t Ryeowook’s house, and he wasn’t familiar here. Or … Ryeowook could open the door. Whoever was outside, was probably an underling of some kind. When they spotted Ryeowook they could only come to one conclusion, Kyuhyun had demolished his neck with hickeys, and aside from Kyuhyun’s robe, Ryeowook was almost naked. It could send out signals that Kyuhyun was seeing someone. That wasn’t quite true, but the underling at the door didn’t know that, and the word would spread. If there was one thing Ryeowook knew it was that rumours about the boss weren’t usually kept to oneself. Criminals had the odd habit of gossiping.

He shouldn’t do it, but Ryeowook decided to open the door, nonetheless. He unlocked the door and swung it open. Outside on the porch was a tall man in a dark blue three-piece suit. He was Asian, and if Ryeowook were to guess, most likely Korean. Kyuhyun and Leeteuk seemed to have a preference to keep Korean-Americans around them, probably because they could converse more privately. The suit fit him so well that Ryeowook instantly knew it was tailored. The man was quite handsome, but Ryeowook was almost certain he’d seen him from somewhere before. Hopefully, the other didn’t recognize Ryeowook and blew his cover. Luckily, Ryeowook couldn’t see any realisation dawn upon the other’s face, instead, he looked quite shocked.

“Is Kyuhyun here?” the taller man asked when the shock seemed to wear off. He was quite tall, probably taller than Kyuhyun too. He seemed friendly, but also cold at the same time. A vibe only smart, rich or criminal people could give off.

“Yeah,” Ryeowook answered, “uh come in,” it felt weird to invite him into a house that wasn’t his own, but it wasn’t like he could just leave him on the porch. That felt rude. “I’ll get him for you,” Ryeowook promised, and the other was quick to decline.

“I could just get him myself,” the other man offered and smiled slightly. Revealing he was familiar with the house, so he was, as Ryeowook suspected at least somewhat close to Kyuhyun. He looked at the man before it clicked. Ryeowook realised who he was talking to. The man in front of him, in the expensive suit, was no other than Choi Siwon. The heir of the Choi corporation. If Ryeowook wasn’t mistaken he’d already taken over his father’s business. If Choi Siwon came to Kyuhyun’s house, it could only mean that somehow Siwon was involved in Kyuhyun’s mafia matters. If they were merely business partners Ryeowook doubted he would come to his house this early.

“I doubt that’s a good idea unless you want to find Kyuhyun naked,” Ryeowook told him matter-of-factly. He could hardly surpass the smirk that crept onto his face when he saw Siwon’s reaction to his words. However, Siwon was quicker to hide his reaction this time and only nodded.

“Very well,” Siwon replied stiffly at first. “But please be quick,” Siwon asked Ryeowook, and Ryeowook nodded in agreement. It seemed like Siwon was in a rush, and Ryeowook didn’t want to waste more of Siwon’s time. Now that Ryeowook had realised who he was, he could easily understand how busy someone like him could be.

“Of course,” Ryeowook agreed, before he headed up the stairs, leaving Siwon awkwardly standing downstairs. He was inside Kyuhyun’s room within a minute, and the other was still laying in bed asleep. Ryeowook took the time to study Kyuhyun before he approached him. The duvet was only covering the lower half of Kyuhyun’s naked body, and his hair was quite messy from a night of sleep. Yet all Ryeowook could think of was how adorable, and peaceful Kyuhyun looked where he was sleeping. The black-haired male tip-toed up to the sleeping brunet, careful not to wake Kyuhyun up with loud noises.

“Good morning Kyu,” Ryeowook greeted Kyuhyun lightly, as he carefully shook the larger male to get his attention. Kyuhyun’s eyelids didn’t open slowly, as he had expected. Instead, they opened quickly, and Kyuhyun didn’t look delirious, but rather conscious. As if, he’d been awake the entire time, and had just been lying in bed to see what Ryeowook would do if he thought Kyuhyun was asleep. Something in Ryeowook believed that this might be the case. Kyuhyun smiled largely at the sight of Ryeowook and instantly stretched for Ryeowook. His long, slender fingers gripped around Ryeowook’s face and he lazily kissed Ryeowook good morning. Ryeowook tried his best to ignore the fluttering feeling in his stomach, and that his heartbeat was beating slightly rapid.

“Good morning," Kyuhyun greeted as he pulled away slightly to watch Ryeowook again. His voice was a little drowsy, and husky, revealing he had woken up only a few minutes ago, but despite the morning voice, his voice was awfully endearing. Ryeowook didn’t doubt that Kyuhyun could’ve been conscious when he walked out the bed, but he’d probably been waking up properly since then. “Nice robe,” Kyuhyun teased him before he pulled Ryeowook into a chaste kiss.

“I would love to wear my shirt, if it wasn’t torn to shreds,” Ryeowook replied instantly defending his choice of clothing. A whole-heartedly laugh escaped Kyuhyun, it was loud and booming, and Ryeowook could help but crack a smile at Kyuhyun’s reaction. The black-haired male was almost certain Siwon could hear Kyuhyun’s laughter from downstairs.

“Don’t worry babe, I’ll buy you a new one,” Kyuhyun countered back before he gripped Ryeowook’s hand and dragged him back to bed with him. “Or ten,” he whispered hotly in Ryeowook’s ear now that he was much closer. Ryeowook willingly adjusted to their new position, which ended up with Ryeowook in Kyuhyun’s lap. Kyuhyun’s hands resting dangerously close to his ass, while Ryeowook hands were loosely hanging around Kyuhyun’s neck. Kyuhyun was completely naked, while Ryeowook was only wearing his boxer and Kyuhyun’s robe. The only material that separated them was the duvet, and that didn’t leave much up to imagination as it didn’t cover Kyuhyun completely. Not that Ryeowook needed to imagine anything, he’d seen everything of Kyuhyun already.

Kyuhyun kissed him again, and Ryeowook was quick to respond to the kiss. This time the kiss was much slower, but at the same time livelier. Ryeowook could feel that this kiss was more passionate as Kyuhyun took his time to kiss him thoroughly. Their lips moved slowly against each, almost agonizingly slow, but Ryeowook liked it. He liked how careful Kyuhyun was, how he treated him like Ryeowook was something precious and not just something to be cast away by the end of the day. Maybe the mission wasn’t doomed after all? Maybe sleeping with Kyuhyun had been the right call? Only time could tell. Ryeowook’s fingers moved from Kyuhyun’s neck, and up in his hair to play with his already messy bed hair. Kyuhyun’s own fingers slid down to Ryeowook’s thighs before his hands slid under the robe meeting Ryeowook’s bare skin.

The black-haired male shuddered at the contact, but Ryeowook couldn’t help but lean into the touch. Kyuhyun probably noticed this because seconds later he could feel Kyuhyun smiling slightly as they kissed.

“You’re wearing too many clothes,” Kyuhyun told him lowly as they pulled slightly away to catch their breathes. The way Kyuhyun said it, it felt like Ryeowook was actually wearing layers upon layers. When the truth was that Ryeowook was hardly wearing two articles of clothing. The brunet didn’t leave any time for Ryeowook to respond before his lips were back on Ryeowook’s. Kyuhyun’s one hand was cupping Ryeowook’s ass, while the other struggled with opening the belt on the robe. Ryeowook chose this moment to pull away before things evolved even further.

“Mm,” Ryeowook moaned lowly, “as much as I enjoy this, I actually came to tell you something,” Ryeowook began, but Kyuhyun seemed to have quite other plans.

“That can wait,” he replied quickly. His eyes were dark and full of lust as he watched Ryeowook before he leaned in again, but he didn’t get more than a chaste kiss before Ryeowook pulled away again. Kyuhyun sent him a look of irritation and determination, Ryeowook didn’t know how to interpret that and decided to move on with his message instead.

“It really – ah – can’t,” he tried, but Kyuhyun had found a new way of kissing Ryeowook if Ryeowook wasn’t going to kiss him on the lips. Kyuhyun was sucking and biting down on Ryeowook’s already sensitive neck, and the black-haired male couldn’t help but tilt his head back. Allowing the brunet better access. “Kyu,” Ryeowook wasn’t quite sure if he was calling Kyuhyun for his attention or if he was just calling his name out of pleasure. “You have a visitor downstairs.”

That seemed to ignite a spark of Kyuhyun’s attention, but not enough to make him stop. “Who?” he asked against Ryeowook’s skin, before he kissed that particular spot, and left open-mouthed kisses in a trail down to his collar bones. Almost as if Ryeowook said the wrong name Kyuhyun wouldn’t move and continue whatever they were doing.

“Ah,” Ryeowook let out a content sigh before he was even able to form a sentence. The things Kyuhyun were doing to him. “Choi Siwon.”

That seemed to be the correct name, however. Because Kyuhyun stopped. His hands were still tracing patterns against Ryeowook’s bare skin, but Kyuhyun stopped kissing him and even leant slightly back as if to think. To contemplate if it was worth blowing Choi Siwon off for sex or not. Not that Ryeowook was going to sleep with Kyuhyun if someone were right down the hall and could listen to every word and every sound. After what felt like a minute, Kyuhyun finally visibly gave up and sighed loudly.

Fine,” he mumbled, but it seemed like it was more to himself than to Ryeowook. He kissed Ryeowook harshly, but not for long. The kiss was passionate, maybe a bit too harsh and full of promise. When they split Kyuhyun didn’t move more than a few inches. As if he was afraid that he’d lose Ryeowook’s attention if he didn’t take up Ryeowook’s entire vision. “We’re not done here though,” he promised Ryeowook. With that, they got up from the bed. Kyuhyun did just like Ryeowook had done previously and found his boxers from yesterday before he searched for some clothes to quickly throw on.

“Do you want your robe back?” Ryeowook asked when it became clear that Kyuhyun was searching for some robe of sorts. It was easy to understand that this was the robe Kyuhyun used the most since it hung ready in his room, and it wasn’t like Ryeowook really needed it, as long as he had a shirt to go with his own pants. Seeing as his own was completely useless.

Kyuhyun’s movements stopped as he turned to study Ryeowook. His brown eyes looked Ryeowook up and down before he shook his head. “No, it suits you,” was all Kyuhyun replied before he went back to search for another robe. Ryeowook wasn’t quite sure if Kyuhyun genuinely thought Ryeowook looked good in the robe that was slightly too big for him, or if it was more that Ryeowook was wearing Kyuhyun’s robe with his initials on it. As if it was a weird way to claim Ryeowook. The brunet quickly found what he was searching for and pulled the dark blue robe out of his closet. It was longer than the one Ryeowook was wearing, and it wasn’t made of silk, but cotton. It was thicker and looked fluffier – but not as elegant as Ryeowook’s.

When Kyuhyun was satisfied they walked downstairs where Siwon was impatiently waiting. Not that Ryeowook really could blame the other male, he had been waiting for quite some time. He smiled politely at Ryeowook, who was quick to return the smile before he watched Kyuhyun and glared at him. Maybe they were closer than Ryeowook had thought initially?

“Siwon,” Kyuhyun greeted the other male with a slight bow to his head, but Siwon only quirked a brow at him before he returned the greeting.

“Kyuhyun,” he answered with a tight smile. “This isn’t really the time for lounging around we should be going-…” Siwon began, but Kyuhyun interrupted him.

“Don’t be rude, Siwon. Can’t you see I have a guest? I couldn’t possibly kick Ryeowook out without serving breakfast,” Kyuhyun answered. He did a slight wave of his head in the direction of Siwon, as a silent way to say that this wasn’t up for discussion. Kyuhyun had obviously plans to join whatever place Siwon wanted to go to, but he would take all the time he wanted.

“Actually, I’m more than capable to buy or make my own breakfast, Kyuhyun. You really don’t need to do anything,” Ryeowook tried to tell Kyuhyun, but the taller brunet was obviously not hearing any of it. He had his mind made up, and Ryeowook doubted he’d be able to sway Kyuhyun on the matter. It was easier to agree, instead of spending time and energy to discuss a trivial subject where Kyuhyun would come up on top no matter what.

Kyuhyun ignored Ryeowook’s statement and dragged Ryeowook by the hand towards the kitchen. “If you don’t mind, I’m going to make breakfast, you’re welcome to join us,” Kyuhyun said a bit too sassily, without looking back. Ryeowook could hear Siwon sigh out loud before he informed Kyuhyun he’d be waiting in the car.

The kitchen looked the same as it had yesterday, and previously when Ryeowook had gotten a glass of water. His used glass was still standing in the sink, untouched since Ryeowook had abandoned it. Aside from that, it was completely the same. Kyuhyun was quick to press the coffee machine for some coffee before he started to find ingredients for their breakfast. Ryeowook was quick to offer help, but Kyuhyun quickly declined it and told Ryeowook to take a seat.

“How do you take your coffee?” Kyuhyun asked when his own finished brewing.

“Black, with a little bit of creamer,” Ryeowook answered instantly, and Kyuhyun nodded before he made Ryeowook’s coffee. He placed the coffee cup in front of the black-haired male and then started chopping different vegetables. Leek, champignon and tomato from what Ryeowook could observe.

“I didn’t know you knew Choi Siwon,” Ryeowook began subtly, taking a sip of coffee. It was exactly to his liking. He wasn’t stupid, Siwon was obviously in on the gang matters, but Ryeowook was curious if Kyuhyun was willing to admit as much or not. Kyuhyun’s admittance would be the confirmation he needed, even if the proof was practically staring him in his face. However, Siwon came to visit Kyuhyun, and they went to a meeting, wouldn't really hold up in court.

“We work together sometimes,” Kyuhyun began indifferently, he wasn’t looking up at Ryeowook as he was cutting the leek, and it was hard to read him. “He’s expanding his business, and he needs IT help. We’re just going to a board meeting, that’s all,” Kyuhyun told him. So, he didn’t trust Ryeowook enough to tell him the truth yet. It wasn’t all that surprising, but Ryeowook would’ve thought Kyuhyun would slip a little truth into it than just their alibi stories. Of course, Ryeowook knew that on some level Siwon and Kyuhyun’s businesses cooperated, but that was more of an excuse to meet than to actually work together.

“Sure,” Ryeowook agreed sarcastically, and Kyuhyun chuckled at his reaction. He looked up from where he was cutting to meet Ryeowook’s eye.

“Baby, it’s true,” he told him before he was back to making breakfast.

“And I was born yesterday,” Ryeowook continued, his tongue still laced in sarcasm. “Don’t mistake me for someone who’s stupid,” the black-haired reminded Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun was about to open his mouth and argue, but Ryeowook continued. “If you don’t want to tell me, then don’t. But don’t act like I’m stupid enough to believe shit like that, okay?” Kyuhyun only nodded as an answer, and Ryeowook smiled pleased. “You’re not obligated to tell me anything you don’t want to; you know that right? Just like I’m not going to spill all my secrets to just because we fucked.” Ryeowook finished the last sentence slightly pleased and took another sip from his coffee as a dramatic pause.

Kyuhyun stared wide-eyed at him for a few seconds, while he was opening and closing his mouth. Probably trying to form the right words to say, but without much success. “Now you’ve made me curious Ryeowook, what are your secrets?” He asked, and a sly smile followed the sentence.

Ryeowook only answered by laughing, “oh you wish, Cho.” That was all Ryeowook answered. Instead, of looking away from Kyuhyun, Ryeowook was willingly meeting his gaze. A way to challenge him. If Kyuhyun wasn’t going to spill his secrets that was fine, but he couldn’t go around expecting Ryeowook to spill his.

“It was worth a try,” Kyuhyun shrugged, and he smiled slightly. Telling Ryeowook silently that he never had expected Ryeowook to spill the beans.

They made idle chat after that while Kyuhyun continued their breakfast. Which turned out to be an omelette. When Kyuhyun finished, he served them before he took a seat next to Ryeowook. Ryeowook had by then finished his coffee, but Kyuhyun had helpfully refilled his cup. The black-haired male doubted he’d finish the second cup, but he appreciated the gesture.

“So, tell me,” Ryeowook began as he took a bite of the toast with Kyuhyun’s omelette. “You never did tell me how you figured out I was the art thief. How did you do it?” Ryeowook asked as if the question had bothered him for a long time. It hadn’t. He knew Carter had sold him out. Which was why he’d chosen Carter as a middleman. Because he was reliable until danger appeared, and then he did everything to save his own skin.

“It was easy enough to figure out Raymond Carter was the middleman,” Kyuhyun began, not elaborating on how he realised Carter was the middleman. “And we simply asked him who the thief was,” Kyuhyun continued quite lightly. When they both knew they’d beat, threatened, and tortured Carter. “He was playing all tough at first, but the act didn’t last very long. The second he felt threatened he was quite talkative.” Kyuhyun checked for Ryeowook for reactions but couldn’t see anything deeper than a scowl in the elder’s face.

“That fucking bastard,” Ryeowook cursed him out, “I never should’ve trusted him. Ever since Seattle, I’ve known he was a coward, but at least I thought he wouldn’t sell me out like that because we ran deep,” Ryeowook spoke as if he was seriously angry. “You know,” Ryeowook turned to Kyuhyun as if he was suddenly enraged, “he even told me not to trust him. I guess, he was right in the end.”

“If it’s any consolation,” Kyuhyun began darkly, “he can’t do you anything anymore,” he continued vaguely. Ryeowook wanted to ask what Kyuhyun and the rest had done to Raymond Carter, but he decided to leave it. Sometimes, ignorance was truly bliss, and Ryeowook could live with not knowing if the reality was horrifying. Ryeowook was already dragging too many painful or dreadful memories with him, he didn’t need more.

After a quick breakfast, Kyuhyun tried his best to convince Ryeowook to join him in the shower, but after multiple attempts and rejections Kyuhyun gave up. Ryeowook would probably love a shower more than anything at the moment. However, Ryeowook was aware that Siwon was still waiting for Kyuhyun, and they both knew that Kyuhyun wouldn’t get any faster out of that shower if Ryeowook joined him. If anything, it would slow him down, and probably double the time, and the poor man had already waited long enough. Besides, Kyuhyun was probably late for whatever meeting they were attending.

Ryeowook made do with borrowing a shirt from Kyuhyun, he could always take a shower when he was back to his own apartment. It wasn’t like Ryeowook had places to be, either way, so taking a shower for him wasn’t as prioritized as it was for Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun had someone to look presentable for, while Ryeowook only needed to look decent for the inhabitants of Chicago.

“Are you sure you don’t want me to drop you off?” Kyuhyun asked once again, as he left the bathroom where he spotted Ryeowook again. The brunet hadn’t gotten dressed and came into the room with only a towel wrapped around his waist. Ryeowook wondered if Kyuhyun did it to tease him, or if just hadn’t thought about bringing clothes. Shamelessly, Ryeowook watched Kyuhyun’s almost naked body as Kyuhyun got dressed, and the smirk on Kyuhyun’s face told him that he’d done it on purpose.

“I’m capable of finding my way home,” Ryeowook told Kyuhyun, and the brunet watched him with disbelief visible in his eyes. As if, he didn’t think Ryeowook would be able to do such a task, or that he might come in harms way before he arrived in the safety of his own apartment.

“You know, it’s really not a detour,” Kyuhyun tried again, but Ryeowook shook his head. He’d already decided that he didn’t want to sit in the same limo with Siwon and Kyuhyun. He didn’t feel like Siwon’s equal, he felt like he was Kyuhyun’s cheap one-night stand, and Ryeowook wasn’t about to suffer through painful small-talk. Besides, Ryeowook had a pressing need to show the entire world that he was independent and managed to do things for himself. Kyuhyun had already done so much for him, and Ryeowook didn’t want the role as the damsel in distress, because he really wasn’t.

“It’s really sweet of you to offer me a ride,” Ryeowook began, and walked closer to Kyuhyun, his hands quickly wrapping themselves around Kyuhyun’s neck before he pecked Kyuhyun lightly. “But I don’t need it.” Ryeowook was about to pull away, when Kyuhyun’s hands wrapped themselves around his waist, to hold him in place.

“At least let me get a proper goodbye if you’re not gonna let me drive you home,” Kyuhyun told him before their lips met in a long, but sweet kiss.

“So, who’s the boy-toy?” Siwon asked when they finally got settled in the conference room in Jungsoo’s hotel. Most of them were already seated, and they were only waiting for Kyuhyun and Siwon, who’d arrived late. Heechul was ready to interrogate him – Kyuhyun could see that – for why he was late, but he stilled at Siwon’s sentence. The only person missing who they were waiting for was Jungsoo, who’d informed them he’d be late because of matters with the hotel. Luckily, because they were in Jungsoo’s hotel, he’d be able to join them as quickly as his work matters were dealt with. He’d told them to start without him. Which wasn’t all that surprising, Jungsoo had laid the plans; he knew them better than anybody. The oldest didn’t need to be presented once another briefing when he had been the one to work out all the details.

“You met Ryeowook?!” Hyukjae asked with disbelief. He was wearing his signature sunglasses, probably still hungover, but Kyuhyun could still see his eyes widen. A silent sigh escaped his lips, he couldn’t see what the big deal with Ryeowook was. Sure, Kyuhyun was into him, and they’d slept together, but it wasn’t like Kyuhyun was contemplating getting into a relationship with Ryeowook or making Ryeowook his husband.

All though, Kyuhyun had no intention of getting seriously involved with the art thief, he still felt like defending him. “He’s not a boy-toy,” Kyuhyun answered irritated, purposely not answering Siwon’s question.

“No, need to be angry, it’s your own fault we’re late,” Siwon defended himself. Including a blow to Kyuhyun at the same time. Siwon was still annoyed with how long he had to wait if the long rant that had lasted the entire car ride was anything to go by. Kyuhyun couldn’t blame him, if their roles had been reversed, he’d be chewing Siwon out for how long he’d have to wait. However, things were somehow different when it was about Ryeowook. If it had been anyone else Kyuhyun would’ve admitted his mistakes and apologized, but it somehow felt justified when it was Ryeowook.

"And we all know he's a boy-toy, he was wearing the silk robe I got you for your birthday," Siwon added, but Kyuhyun ignored that statement completely.

“You prevented me from getting laid a second time, I can be as angry as I want to,” Kyuhyun answered curtly, clicking his tongue in annoyance. He didn’t want to meet anyone’s gaze after the revelation in his sentence, so instead, he took a sip of the coffee Heechul had brewed for him. The coffee had tasted better when he’d been drinking it with Ryeowook.

“A second time?” Heechul asked mortified. The way he said it he seemed like a mother that just had walked in on her son watching porn when it wasn’t all that serious. Kyuhyun was an adult, and it was normal to have a sex life. Kyuhyun could sleep with whoever he wanted, and he didn’t think that was anybody’s business. Frankly, Kyuhyun didn’t think he was asking for too much when he wanted to keep his sex life private. Donghae seemed to find the entire conversation hilarious, as he was laughing out loud. Leaning against Hyukjae for support, who seemed to find it equally humorous.

“Did you and that art thief-… already?” Shindong asked, he seemed slightly shocked, but not too surprised. Yesung smirked pleased and turned to Hyukjae while silently reaching a hand towards him. A silent way of saying ‘pay up’, and Hyukjae begrudgingly slapped a ten-dollar bill in Yesung’s palm. Hyukjae had to stop betting with Yesung because he always lost.

Kyuhyun felt he was at the end of his patience and slightly exploded at the others. “Why is everyone so concerned about my sex life? We never discuss Yesung’s love life-…”

“Because there’s nothing to discuss,” Hyukjae rudely interrupted him, but Kyuhyun ignored it.

“Fuck you!” Yesung replied quickly and hit Hyukjae as a counter-reply.

“-… Or the way Jungsoo and Heechul have been fucking for months?” Kyuhyun continued. Ignoring both Hyukjae and Yesung’s banter. Kyuhyun met Heechul’s gaze who seemed even more mortified than he did previously.

“We are not!” He denied quickly. Probably too quickly, but his voice was stern, and he was glaring daggers at everyone in the room. It wasn’t up for discussion unless you wanted to deal with Heechul’s wrath. Kyuhyun had never really been on Heechul’s bad side, he had been close several times, but he had never crossed the line completely. However, he knew what Heechul looked like when he was angry enough to kill you. It wasn’t pretty. Kyuhyun had several times avoided Heechul’s bad side, and he wasn’t about to cross it for something like this.

This was the moment Jungsoo apparently finished with his work matters and walked into the conference room. Kyuhyun wondered how terrible they must’ve looked for Jungsoo to look so shocked, and in shame, Kyuhyun slightly hung with his head. It seemed that the others did the same because suddenly the room was quiet. Heechul who’d been standing was now sitting, and Donghae had completely stopped laughing and was straightening his posture.

“What’s going on?” Jungsoo asked them calmly, as he eyed them one at the time. His voice might be calm, but Kyuhyun wasn’t stupid. Jungsoo was silently asking them why they hadn’t begun the meeting. Kyuhyun didn’t want to admit to Jungsoo how he was late because he was taking his sweet time with Ryeowook, and how they hadn’t begun the meeting because they were discussing his sex life. So, he stared down at the white table and refused to meet Jungsoo’s eye. Even if it felt like Jungsoo was glaring at him specifically, he probably was, because Kyuhyun looked so guilty.

No one said anything for a while, and Kyuhyun hoped everyone would keep their mouths shut. Of course, he realised that was too much to ask for when Lee Hyukjae was a vital member of their team. “Kyuhyun fucked the art thief,” Hyukjae elaborated helpfully. Which initially didn’t answer Jungsoo’s question, but it was answer enough. They all knew what it meant, and Jungsoo who knew them so well could think himself to a conclusion by the information enclosed by Hyukjae.

“I see,” Jungsoo only answered, but the smirk he shot Kyuhyun said more than enough. “However, that’s not why we are gathered today,” and with that sentence, Jungsoo had set a stopper for that conversation. No one in this room except for Jungsoo had the ability to do so that quickly. Because out of the eight of them, the most respected person was Jungsoo. He was the natural leader, and everyone listened to him, no one could silence or erupt a room like Jungsoo. Jungsoo stood silent at the end of the table for a few seconds to assure that he everyone’s attention.

“Since we’re moving the operation one week ahead, we are going to need to alter some minor details.” Kyuhyun could practically feel everyone pay closer attention to Jungsoo’s words. “Not too much, so no need to worry. We’ll follow through mostly as we planned, however, it can no longer take place at Griffith’s own party, but at Siwon’s charity gala. Which will alter some of your roles, but not too much. Hyukjae instead of a bartender you’ll now be a waiter,” Jungsoo said in a way that it wasn’t up for discussion, but they could all hear Hyukjae curse. Hyukjae was usually at the end of receiving the worst roles. Not because Jungsoo had anything against Hyukjae, but because of Hyukjae’s criminal record they had to give him subtle roles, so people didn’t recognize him, or Hyukjae raised suspicion.

“As for Ryeowook,” Jungsoo paused and looked at Kyuhyun, and Kyuhyun could feel the entire room look at him, but he didn’t release Jungsoo’s gaze. “I guess you can bring him along as your date,” Jungsoo shrugged slightly. “Initially I didn’t have that planned for Sungmin but seeing as he’s out of the picture, and Ryeowook’s not him, I think it’ll be better if you bring him as your date. It can help your public persona, plus we get him without raising too much suspicion.” Kyuhyun only nodded before Jungsoo moved on. He continued to brief the details and explain how things would be different now they were in another place, but most of it was obvious for Kyuhyun. It felt like Jungsoo was giving them a walk-through of the plan once again, more than anything, just to make sure that everyone knew it. Which was stupid, everyone knew that Jungsoo was just making sure Hyukjae knew the plan.

Not because Hyukjae was stupid. He wasn’t. However, Hyukjae had the habit of showing up to meetings in a questionable shape. Like now, he was slightly hungover. However, Kyuhyun was starting to think that was the default shape for Hyukjae. The only times Hyukjae was completely sober was when he was going on important missions or operations, like the one they were approaching.

“To sum it up, Hyukjae’s role changes, the rest of us stay the same, everyone’s free to leave, but I would like to discuss the building’s layout with Yesung and Hyukjae. Oh, and one more thing Yesung, make sure Hyukjae’s sober before the mission,” Jungsoo finished.

“What?” Yesung asked with disbelief in his voice, “why do I have to babysit him?” Yesung glared at Hyukjae, who was ready to protest too, but Jungsoo was quick to shut them down.

“That’s all,” he said. With those two words, every complaint and word of objection died on their tongue, and Yesung dwelled down. While Hyukjae switched between glaring at Jungsoo and Yesung. Kyuhyun didn’t bother to stay and watch their interactions, as he left the conference room.

When Ryeowook got home after taking a taxi from Kyuhyun’s residence he went straight for the shower. He felt slightly dirty since he hadn’t showered after sleeping with Kyuhyun. The shower turned out to be quite refreshing and exactly what Ryeowook needed to continue his day. It felt like he’d just gotten out of the shower and got dressed when the reception in his apartment complex called.

“Hello?” Ryeowook asked as he lifted the phone that was wired to the reception downstairs.

“Good morning Mister Park,” the man in reception greeted him, “there’s a gentleman that claims to know you. Should I send him up?” He continued in the same light tone.

“What’s his name?” Ryeowook warily. Who would come to see him? Sure, Ryeowook had some old contacts, but he hadn’t made an effort to reach out to them, and he doubted they’d come unwarranted to his place. If they could even figure out where he lived.

“It’s Cho Kyuhyun, sir,” the receptionist answered. It wasn’t lost on Ryeowook how the receptionist said it was Kyuhyun with a lot of certainty. That was probably because Kyuhyun was somewhat of a local celebrity. Not that Chicago was a small town, and people couldn’t know who Kyuhyun was outside of the city. But the odds for recognizing Kyuhyun as his public alias while living in Chicago was a lot bigger than if you lived outside of Chicago.

“Send him up,” Ryeowook told the receptionist before he thanked him out of politeness and a bit out of habit too. Ryeowook barely had the chance to watch himself in the mirror and make sure he was slightly presentable. – As presentable as one could be when your neck was covered in hickeys. – And fixed his damp hair to look slightly more stylish before Kyuhyun arrived as the elevator made a slight ping to signalize that his visitor was here.

“What are you doing here?” Ryeowook asked as he met Kyuhyun’s gaze. It came out ruder than he meant, but Kyuhyun didn’t seem to be insulted. Ryeowook was just surprised to see Kyuhyun again, it seemed like he’d just said goodbye to him in Kyuhyun’s own manor. Which he had; it was less than two hours ago.

“I came to see you, of course,” Kyuhyun replied as if it wasn’t obvious. It wasn’t quite that obvious, because it felt like Kyuhyun only came to see him if he needed something from Ryeowook. Ryeowook could be wrong though, he’d met Kyuhyun twice before this. The first time Kyuhyun had wanted to kill him, and the second time it had evolved from Ryeowook having to work for him to them sleeping together. Now Ryeowook wasn’t quite sure where they were standing. They weren’t lovers, but they weren’t colleagues or strangers either. They were a weird mix of all three, and maybe even more.

“I see the board meeting ran short,” Ryeowook joked in lack of something else to say, and Kyuhyun laughed half-heartedly. He looked slightly distracted.

“Yeah,” Kyuhyun agreed, his smile a little faint. He paused before he looked at Ryeowook, “do you have a suit?” He asked randomly, and Ryeowook made a face of confusion before he replied.

“Of course, I have a suit,” his voice was clearly insulted. Did Kyuhyun really think that lowly that he didn’t think Ryeowook owned a suit? Sure, Ryeowook wasn’t exactly as rich as Kyuhyun, but he wasn’t poor. As an art thief, he’d made quite the fortune, his nice apartment was a statement of this. Ryeowook was more than financially stable and could afford a luxurious lifestyle. Even if he couldn’t buy a Botticelli original at an auction.

“Does it fit?” Kyuhyun continued, ignoring Ryeowook’s insulted tone. Ryeowook wanted to scoff, what was the point of having a suit if it didn’t fit? Ryeowook had barely lived in Chicago for a week, of course, the clothes he’d brought with him fit.

“No, I grew out of it since Paris last month,” Ryeowook answered, still sarcastic. However, Kyuhyun didn’t seem all that insulted by Ryeowook’s excessive use of sarcasm. “Of course, it fits. Why are you asking these questions anyway?” He quirked a brow at Kyuhyun only smiled pleased.

“Good, because we’re going to a gala,” was all Kyuhyun replied. Ryeowook wasn’t blind to how Kyuhyun didn’t ask him if he wanted to go to a gala or not. Didn’t ask him if he was free or not. He just demanded that Ryeowook would join him at some random gala. The only trouble Kyuhyun had in mind was if Ryeowook owned a suit or not. And if he didn’t, he would probably demand either that Ryeowook got one, or pay for it himself.

“If that’s your idea of asking me on a date, you’re gonna have to try a little harder,” Ryeowook joked, but there was no use in joking about it. Kyuhyun had decided for the both of them, Ryeowook was going whether he liked it or not. That’s why Ryeowook didn’t bother wasting energy on arguing about how Kyuhyun couldn’t just demand things like that of him. Instead, he joked about it, because it was the best he could do in that kind of situation.

Kyuhyun smiled a small smile, but it did reach his eyes. “The gala is on Saturday,” was all Kyuhyun replied. Firing down the idea that it could be a date. Saturday was the day of Kyuhyun and Leeteuk’s operation. It was the day where Ryeowook was going to steal jewellery for Leeteuk. They weren’t going to the gala for enjoyment, but for work. Which could explain why Kyuhyun had demanded his presence, but Ryeowook knew Kyuhyun probably would’ve demanded it either way. Whether if it was work-related or not.

“Oh, alright then,” Ryeowook replied, and felt oddly hurt. He had to remind himself once again, that this was just a mission, and he shouldn’t care if Kyuhyun wanted to date him or not. Instead of, allowing Kyuhyun to peak under his mask, Ryeowook covered up and smiled slightly. It was better to joke it away. “You know you could’ve just called instead of dropping by,” he continued, surprising Kyuhyun with a comment like this. “But I appreciate the gesture. I’ll show you out.” His confidence returned when he saw the look on Kyuhyun’s face. He truly had the upper hand here. He walked closer to Kyuhyun as if to show him out when Kyuhyun regained his posture.

He smirked as Ryeowook approached him and closed in on the space between them. His hands wrapped around Ryeowook’s waist, and Ryeowook didn’t blink. He was starting to get used to having Kyuhyun this close, but it still affected him in ways he didn’t want to admit. “Oh Ryeowook, did you already forget what I told you at my place?” Kyuhyun asked playfully. He smirked and held his gaze, but Ryeowook didn’t find the gaze intense. He enjoyed Kyuhyun’s eyes on him, and only him. “I told you we weren’t done then, so let’s get back to where we were.”

“I just showered-…” Ryeowook began weakly. It was more to tease Kyuhyun than an actual rejection, and it seemed like Kyuhyun knew that. Because he didn’t waver, and he halted as he leaned closer to Ryeowook.

“We can shower later,” he dismissed Ryeowook’s argument quickly before he closed in on the space between them. His lips softly kissed Ryeowook’s as a silent way to telling Ryeowook he could pull away if he didn’t want this. But Ryeowook didn’t pull away. Instead, he wrapped his arms around Kyuhyun’s neck and dragged him closer. Kyuhyun’s own hands cupped Ryeowook’s face, and he leant slightly down so he had better access to Ryeowook. A pleased hum escaped Kyuhyun’s mouth as Ryeowook angled his head to kiss him better, and Kyuhyun’s tongue slid into his mouth. Ryeowook didn’t mind it and welcomed the feeling of Kyuhyun’s tongue against his own. The kiss was slow and passionate, but Ryeowook wasn’t bothered by Kyuhyun taking his time. Kyuhyun was kissing him thoroughly, not leaving any corner of his mouth unexplored. Their lips moved together at a synchronized pace, and Ryeowook liked the roughness of Kyuhyun’s lips against his own. Kyuhyun’s tongue slid back to his own mouth, and now Kyuhyun took his time just kissing Ryeowook, which was equally as pleasuring. Ryeowook slightly bit down on Kyuhyun’s bottom lip to evoke a reaction out of him. Kyuhyun didn’t fail to comply as a small grunt escaped his throat, and Ryeowook grinned into the kiss.

They finally split to get some air, but Ryeowook didn’t move more than a few inches away. Kyuhyun’s breath was fanning his skin, and Ryeowook was equally out of breath. “It’s hard to resist you when you kiss me like that,” Ryeowook told Kyuhyun truthfully. It was hard to resist Kyuhyun when he was this tempting. Ryeowook wondered if that would affect his mission or not, and he had a feeling it sadly would. However, Ryeowook ignored that feeling. Ryeowook was a professional he wasn’t going to blow his cover just because Kyuhyun was a good kisser.

“Then don’t,” Kyuhyun whispered against his skin. The two words were enough to make Ryeowook lose the little resistance he had left, and Ryeowook stopped resisting Kyuhyun for the rest of the night.

Chapter Text

The night of the gala Ryeowook stood in the bathroom trying to calm his nerves. He was already dressed in his suit, but Ryeowook felt uneasy – and he felt like he was going to vomit. For some reason, Ryeowook was nervous about the mission. Of course, Ryeowook had been on missions where the stakes were high. His current life was an ongoing mission with high stakes. But all the banter with Kyuhyun came naturally. Talking and acting around Kyuhyun was easy, and although Ryeowook couldn’t claim to have the best relationship with the rest of Kyuhyun’s inner circle, he was slowly getting there. They would easily accept him if Kyuhyun had a defined relationship, so that was Ryeowook’s priority as of now.

The entire affair with Kyuhyun was like a walk in the park, a constant game of pull and push, and Kyuhyun was easy enough to figure out. Most of the time. However, this mission from Leeteuk somehow stressed Ryeowook out. He was never usually this nervous around a mission. Ryeowook hadn’t even been this nervous when he’d stolen Kyuhyun’s painting. He’d been calm and collected; he'd even enjoyed the adrenaline rush. Now, on the other hand, Ryeowook was sweating in his bathroom and trying to control his breaths. In and out. In and out. In and out. He could do this.

In. Ryeowook had done this multiple times before. Out.

In. This would be no different. Out.

In. It was probably easier than breaking an entry at Kyuhyun’s office. Out.

In. There was no reason for his nerves. Out.

Ryeowook splashed some cold water in his face, careful not to get water on his suit. Kyuhyun would be picking him up soon, and he had to calm his nerves by then. More importantly, he couldn’t afford to abolish his outfit, because he wouldn’t be able to get ready again before Kyuhyun would be picking him up. Ryeowook could do this, he didn’t doubt in his own ability – but there was something unnerving about this mission. Usually, Ryeowook acted for himself to make his cover more believable or on behalf of the FBI. Ryeowook, usually, didn’t take jobs from other mobsters. There was more room for fuck ups, and you never knew how’d they react if you failed.

However, this mission was important. Ryeowook couldn’t afford to fuck up. He needed this to work. Maybe, he was nervous because of the high stakes?

The security or the actual robbery wasn’t the problem. The problem was what he was risking. Ryeowook, if he failed, would lose his way into Kyuhyun and Leeteuk forever. He would completely blow the cover. He had one chance. One chance to really prove he could do it or not, and if he couldn’t, then he’d fail. It wasn’t like Kyuhyun would pat him on the back and tell him he got it next time. There would be no next time. He either managed it, or he didn’t. There were only two outcomes, and Ryeowook could only bet on one of them. Maybe that was the reason for him freaking out in the bathroom? Because there was a lot to lose, there would probably be much more to win, but Ryeowook needed to pull this one heist off.

The brown eyes that stared back at him in the mirror seemed so unlike his own, they were his. He could obviously tell, but the reflection that stared back at him didn’t seem much like his own. It seemed more like a stranger’s eyes, maybe an older version looking back at his past self. The black-haired male took a deep breath and moved his gaze from the mirror down to the sink again. The water was still running. For a while, all Ryeowook could think about and study the running water which calmed him in a way. His bathroom seance didn’t last long enough before he heard his phone give off a faint pling. Without even checking his phone the black-haired agent instantly knew that it was Kyuhyun.

Ryeowook took on his suit jacket and his phone before he got inside the elevator and pressed the button for the first floor. Inside the elevator, he quickly checked his phone, and his suspicions proved to be correct. Kyuhyun had been texting him, and he was waiting for Ryeowook outside his apartment complex. It wasn’t hard to spot the large black limousine parked outside, and Ryeowook didn’t have to ask if it was Kyuhyun’s or not. It was the exact same limousine Kyuhyun and he had driven only days previously, on Wednesday, when Kyuhyun had approached him about the job. God, that seemed like several weeks ago already, and it was hardly three days ago. Ryeowook didn’t waste time lingering outside and opened the door to step inside the car.

On the inside, Ryeowook was met with the sight of Kyuhyun in a fancy suit. Kyuhyun had always worn suits when Ryeowook had met him. – In the storage house, in the art museum, when he’d visited Ryeowook in his own apartment. – With the exception of when Kyuhyun was wearing nothing and when he’d worn a robe for less than an hour. However, Ryeowook could tell that this was one of Kyuhyun’s better suits. The black-haired male was sure that every suit Kyuhyun owned was expensive, but without having to ask Ryeowook could tell that this one was one of his finest. Ryeowook’s own suit wasn’t equally as stunning, but he wouldn’t stand out at the gala. He was wearing a fine, black suit. It just wasn’t as expensive as Kyuhyun’s. However, it was hard to compete against Kyuhyun when it came to riches.

The brunet’s face lit up when he spotted Ryeowook, and he scotched over to indicate that Ryeowook should take the seat next to Kyuhyun. Although, it was hardly necessary because the limousine had plenty of space already, and Kyuhyun didn’t need to make room for Ryeowook for them to be comfortable. Ryeowook didn’t say anything as he entered the limousine and took a seat next to Kyuhyun. The last time Ryeowook saw Kyuhyun was Friday morning – one day ago – when Kyuhyun had kissed him goodbye by the elevator before he had to leave for business, and Ryeowook for his morning jog. Kyuhyun hadn’t specified if it was CEO business or mafia business, and Ryeowook hadn’t asked. However, with the way, Kyuhyun greeted Ryeowook with a kiss it seemed like Kyuhyun hadn’t seen his lover in over a year.

“Hey baby, how are you feeling?” Kyuhyun asked when they split, and he wrapped his right arm tightly around Ryeowook. As if that would secure Ryeowook from the outside world. If actual harm were to happen Kyuhyun’s arm wrapped around Ryeowook wouldn’t do much, but Ryeowook didn’t mention that. Instead, he leant into Kyuhyun’s touch and let out a relaxed sigh. His nerves were slowly disappearing.

“Nervous,” Ryeowook replied but he didn’t elaborate on the matter. Instead, he cuddled more into Kyuhyun’s side, who only chuckled fondly while his arm moved upwards so his fingers could slightly play with Ryeowook’s black hair locks. The action was really endearing, and Ryeowook found himself calming down a whole lot.

“Why so nervous?” Kyuhyun asked, “I thought no one was as good as you,” Kyuhyun continued with a crinkle in his eye. His voice was humorous, as he reminded Ryeowook of their conversation on Wednesday outside of his manor.

“Oh, I am the best,” Ryeowook replied confidently, “but even I get nervous sometimes. The stakes are high.” Kyuhyun nodded slightly at first but didn’t reply. He pulled Ryeowook closer as a silent reassurance before he kissed Ryeowook’s temple.

“Well, don’t be,” Kyuhyun said after his lips left Ryeowook’s skin. “You’ll do great. The plan won’t fail.” Kyuhyun said the last part so confidently that Ryeowook couldn’t help but believe the words Kyuhyun were saying. Kyuhyun had no reason to doubt the plan, he had probably evolved it together with Leeteuk, and from Ryeowook’s knowledge, they’d done stuff like this several times. This wasn’t just a new scheme, this was Kyuhyun’s regular life. They had pulled off stunts like this before, and they would be able to pull it off again. Kyuhyun had the utmost faith in the plan, and Ryeowook couldn’t blame him. It was a well-developed plan, and as long as everyone played their part to a T, things would run smoothly. The brunet, obviously, knew his teammates better than Ryeowook and had no reason to doubt them. To Kyuhyun, nothing could go wrong, and why would they?

It was only Ryeowook’s nervousness getting the better of him, but he too, deep down behind all the nerves and pent-up anxiety, he knew this plan couldn’t possibly fail. The only reason things could fail wasn’t because of Leeteuk and his group, but because of outside factors, and Ryeowook doubted that would be a problem. He hadn’t informed the FBI about the operation, couldn’t afford to, because he needed to gain their trust. And the only way for him to do such a thing was to steal the jewellery without a hitch.

“You’re right,” Ryeowook agreed without moving out of Kyuhyun’s touch. Even if Ryeowook didn’t move he could still tell that Kyuhyun was pleased by Ryeowook’s words. Kyuhyun already knew he was right, but he liked the vocal confirmation from Ryeowook. From there on the drive didn’t last more than a few minutes, and before Ryeowook knew the car had slowed down, and someone was opening the door. Kyuhyun was the first to exit, as the door was opened on his side, and he stretched one hand out for Ryeowook who took it before he silently followed. There was a lot of press around, and Ryeowook felt slightly blinded by the blitz, but his eyes avoided the strong light. Ryeowook tried his best to conceal his face to prevent people to recognize him from a press article, and it worked to some degree. They were quickly passing through the entrance where the press was placed, Kyuhyun’s hand still entwined with his own.

Several people were yelling out for Kyuhyun, but Kyuhyun paid them no mind at all. He didn’t even halt to answer any questions, and Ryeowook had no problem with that. If he had the chance to avoid the press, he’d gladly do so. Besides, they both knew the real reason for being here wasn’t press coverage. They were almost past the press when a familiar voice caught Ryeowook’s attention.

“Mister Cho!” someone called, “can you tell us about your date?” At the end of the sentence, Ryeowook found the person with the familiar voice. It was Yesung.

The silver-haired male was holding a huge camera in his hand and had a press entrance tag around his neck. He was dressed in black suit pants and a white and black striped shirt. Ryeowook hadn’t known Yesung would be undercover as a journalist at the gala, and the sight slightly startled him. Luckily, his hand was still tangled with Kyuhyun’s, and the brunet dragged him away before his shock became too obvious.

“No comment,” Kyuhyun replied dismissively before they were inside the gala. It was beautiful and open, and although there were several guests here, Ryeowook didn’t have the feeling of being cramped. There were several tables set up for guests to sit when it was time to dine. There was a large space left open for a dance floor, and people were already swaying beautifully to the live orchestra. There were already hundreds of guests present, and more was to come. Everyone was dressed in their best clothes, and Ryeowook could help but marble at the guests, and the gala. Siwon really knew how to throw a gala. Not that surprising Choi Siwon had grown up in this kind of environment. People were conversing with each other, mingling or networking while waiters dressed in white blazers, white shirts with black pants and black bowties were professionally moving around the guests to serve drinks or appetizers.

“I didn’t know Yesung would be a journalist,” Ryeowook mumbled lowly for only Kyuhyun to hear, but it wasn’t quite necessary. Because there was so much background noise that Ryeowook doubted anyone would listen in on the conversation. However, he’d rather be careful than careless.

“He usually is,” Kyuhyun replied equally quiet before he smiled and changed the subject. “Let’s greet the host.” That line from Kyuhyun was hint enough for Ryeowook. They weren’t going to talk about the operation while they were here, and Ryeowook didn’t complain. He could be subtle if that was what Kyuhyun wanted from him. It wasn’t like Ryeowook wanted to talk about the plan all evening. Because that made Kyuhyun mentally unavailable because all he’d think about was the plan – he already was – but that would make him even more unavailable. Which mattered if you were an FBI agent trying to make a mobster fall for you.

Kyuhyun, who was still holding his hand dragged him in between the crowds as if he knew exactly where he was going. He probably did. Ryeowook felt like Kyuhyun had a plan for every single little thing he did, and every action was well-thought-out. Ryeowook couldn’t imagine Kyuhyun even doing something as trivial as buying toothpaste without a five-step plan with a backup plan just in case he’d meet drawbacks. The crowd seemed to split as if were the Red Sea and Kyuhyun was Moses. Ryeowook knew Kyuhyun wasn’t blessed by God and was on his way to lead The Chosen People to The Holy Land. However, what was most likely was that most of the crowd recognized Kyuhyun as someone important and let him through, those who didn’t recognize Kyuhyun probably just followed the flow.

Within a minute they were on the other side of the room, far away from the entrance and the journalists. Most wouldn’t be allowed inside, but some would – and the most desperate ones would try to sneak in, and that unnerved Ryeowook. This was potentially risky for his cover. If someone from his actual personal life recognized him, and somehow outed him, things could get dangerous. Ryeowook hadn’t too many in D.C who could recognize him, but even those from previous missions could recognize him. Sure, people back home in D.C didn’t keep tabs on Chicago’s local millionaires and billionaires, but Ryeowook didn’t know what those from previous missions did. Now, most of the people he’d been in contact with were locked up behind bars, but Ryeowook wasn’t willing to risk it. He should’ve coloured his hair or something before this mission. Just to be safe. At least tried to be less recognizable.

“Siwon!” Kyuhyun greeted loudly as soon as he spotted Kyuhyun. Ryeowook spotted him only milliseconds after. It wasn’t hard to spot someone like Siwon, he was tall, broad, handsome and there was an aura of success and confidence surrounding him. It was like he was illuminating up the entire room just by being there. Siwon’s presence was that powerful. Silent, but demanding. Ryeowook wasn’t even sure if Kyuhyun was able to take up a room like that, even if he tried.

“Kyuhyun,” the man turned to them, and so did the two Asian males he’d be talking to as well. The two others were slightly shorter than Kyuhyun but looked taller than Ryeowook. One of them had blond-bleached hair, and looked equally as powerful as Siwon maybe even more, at least posture wise. The other had black hair, both males’ hair was slightly long about shoulder-length. They were wearing expensive suits, just like Kyuhyun and Siwon – and again Ryeowook could tell that the suits were tailored. Out of the five of them, Ryeowook wore the cheapest suit, but he didn’t feel out of place. It just meant that whoever Siwon was talking to was important people. It didn’t surprise Ryeowook. They were at an important gala, where important people showed up. Siwon, the host, would only talk to the most important of the important.

“Everyone, meet Ryeowook,” Kyuhyun presented him, and Ryeowook felt awkward getting all the attention on him. “Ryeowook meet my colleagues.” The way Kyuhyun said it Ryeowook understood that Kyuhyun presented him to his actual colleagues from the legal work, not the mafia business. Except for Siwon, who juggled between a criminal life and normal life, just like Kyuhyun.

“You’ve already meet Siwon briefly,” Kyuhyun continued, “and that over there,” he pointed at the blond male who smiled politely and greeted him, “is Park Jungsoo, and his assistant,” he pointed at the black-haired male. The assistant was dressed oddly nice for an assistant, but Ryeowook didn’t comment on that. Maybe he was sleeping with his boss, and that made him gain slight favours? “You’ve probably heard of Jungsoo’s hotel chain,” Ryeowook nodded slightly as Kyuhyun told him the name. He had never personally stayed at one of Park Jungsoo’s hotels, too expensive for him to bother, but he’d only heard good things.

“Nice to meet you,” Ryeowook nodded at them, and tried to smile a polite, but genuine smile. This was so out of his comfort zone. He was here as Kyuhyun’s date, but they weren’t dating. And Kyuhyun was showing him off as if he was something worth showing off. He wasn’t. Every single person amongst them earned more money than him, even Jungsoo’s assistant, Ryeowook was sure of it. And sure, Ryeowook was attractive enough, but he wasn’t breathtakingly stunning. He wasn’t drop-dead gorgeous. Everyone amongst him, Kyuhyun, Jungsoo, Jungsoo’s nameless assistant and Siwon, was equally as attractive as Ryeowook. He wasn’t anything noteworthy where he was standing in the cheapest suit in their slight circle. He felt more like a regular person, brought in out of pity.

Ryeowook’s brown eyes met Jungsoo’s, and he could feel the determination in them. Whatever was about to come couldn’t be any good. Obviously, Ryeowook couldn’t read his thoughts, but he had seen that look before. People wore that look when they were about to test your abilities, however, nothing could’ve prepared Ryeowook for the words that escaped Jungsoo’s mouth.

“So, Ryeowook, you all know or occupation, what do you do for work?” He asked. It was an innocent question, but as an undercover agent playing an art thief, it wasn’t quite as innocent. Besides, it felt like some sort of test. Like the question was a sort of game, if only Ryeowook knew the rules, then he could play as an equal. Ryeowook could feel Kyuhyun wrap a hand protectively around his waist, but the arm couldn’t really offer any protection.

For a second, Ryeowook contemplated saying he didn’t have a job for the moment. Until he realised how that sounded. He couldn’t sound more like a gold digger, and he wasn’t interested in Kyuhyun’s money at all. “I am ah … freelancer,” Ryeowook answered painfully, it was the closest he came to the truth without crossing the line for what was legal and illegal.

“Interesting,” Jungsoo commented, but he didn’t ask what he was freelancing. “So, do you have a job at the moment, or are just waiting for something to show up?” He continued. It seemed like another test, but Ryeowook couldn’t understand what kind of game Jungsoo was playing with him.

“I have nothing for the moment,” Ryeowook replied. He didn’t count this heist as an actual job because he wouldn’t get paid for it. All Kyuhyun paid him was the allowance of living, which was awfully generous. “But my last job paid good enough for me to be able to last a while,” Ryeowook followed up. Which was true, even if Carter only had provided half of what he got from stealing the Botticelli it was still five percent of the image’s worth. Ryeowook was loaded.

“As a freelancer, I’m sure you move around a bit,” Jungsoo began, and Ryeowook agreed. Revealing he’d just arrived in the city only a little more than a week ago. “Interesting,” Jungsoo smiled, “are you staying for long? Chicago’s a beautiful city.”

“Yeah, Chicago’s quite the city,” Ryeowook agreed, “but I’m not quite sure if I’ll be staying for long. It depends on my next job,” Ryeowook shrugged. It wasn’t like Park Ryeowook had anything in Chicago to stay for. Things with Kyuhyun were moving forwards, but Kyuhyun wasn’t where Ryeowook needed him, and he knew that. Right now, all Kyuhyun saw in Ryeowook was pleasurable sex. Which was at least something, but it wasn’t enough. Ryeowook didn’t need Kyuhyun on one knee for him, but he needed Kyuhyun to trust him, and the brunet didn’t trust him yet. Ryeowook needed Kyuhyun to realise that Ryeowook wasn’t going to lounge around in Chicago ready for Kyuhyun’s needs. Ryeowook wasn’t going to stop living his life just for some sex, he could get sex elsewhere. Kyuhyun needed to do something to make Ryeowook stay. It was only the first week, and Ryeowook wasn’t demanding anything yet, but he would soon if Kyuhyun didn’t step up his game.

It was risky to start demanding anything now. It was too early, and Kyuhyun didn’t need him yet. Kyuhyun, too, could find sex elsewhere. Ryeowook needed to show Kyuhyun that he was irreplaceable. That Kyuhyun needed him, and Ryeowook knew Kyuhyun didn’t need him yet. However, it wouldn’t help to play an endless game of catch-and-run, Kyuhyun would grow bored if he didn’t get any results. Kyuhyun was smart, but quite impatient, if he wanted something he got it. Ryeowook putting up a resistance would bore him out after a while, Ryeowook needed to keep that interest until Kyuhyun realised he needed Ryeowook.

As Ryeowook said that he could feel Kyuhyun’s grip around him tighten, but he ignored that completely. Kyuhyun wanted him in town, but just because for easy access. It had nothing to do with how it would physically pain Kyuhyun to have him at a distance. Jungsoo was ready to continue the conversation, but a sixth person broke into their semi-formed circle.

“When I was coming over here, I thought for a brief second I was in China,” a male voice said, and a burst of nasty laughter followed. Kyuhyun had briefed Ryeowook enough for him to recognize Nick Griffith just about anywhere, and he was here, now. Trying to speak to the host, a hotel giant, a CEO and two practically nobodies.

Everyone ignored his racist comment, except for Kyuhyun who muttered, “we’re all Korean.” However, Jungsoo sent him a stern glare and Kyuhyun quickly shut up. Nobody seemed to want to be in his presence, but it would be rude to say anything or leave.

“Nick,” it seemed like Jungsoo was the first to regain his senses, “to what do we owe this pleasure?” He asked and smiled, but even Ryeowook could see that the smile was fake. However, Nick Griffith was already a little drunk and probably didn’t notice. You wouldn’t notice unless you paid as close attention as Ryeowook, and Ryeowook doubted that Griffith did.

Nick Griffith didn’t reply to Jungsoo, wasn’t even fazed that he’d been asked a question. “Ah, my favourite Asians all in one place, his eyes swept the crowd, but he primarily looked at Jungsoo, Kyuhyun and Siwon. “Great party you got here,” he told Siwon, “with great booze,” he raised his glass as to prove a statement before he drank a little out of the Champagne. Siwon smiled tightly and nodded as thanks. It didn’t seem like Griffith expected more as a reply, at least he didn’t comment on it. Ryeowook had the feeling Griffith was about to leave, finally, when he locked eyes with the older man and the man swayed slightly. The elder, who’d been mid leaving seemed to halt completely, and determination was visible to his eyes.

“You’re new,” he rudely pointed out, but Ryeowook couldn’t feel offended. If anything, he just felt uncomfortable, and he hoped Nick Griffith would get his point across so he would leave.

“Yeah, he is,” Kyuhyun answered for Ryeowook. It didn’t bother Ryeowook that Kyuhyun took control of the situation. He felt slightly like a deer caught in the headlights, and he was afraid he’d blurt out something he shouldn’t just because he didn’t want to talk to Nick Griffith.

“And he looks so young.” Usually, when people commented on Ryeowook’s baby face or how young he looked Ryeowook would uncomfortably laugh, and thank them, before he moved on. Being called young was apparently for many a compliment, but Ryeowook mostly found it annoying because people treated him like a child. As if he wasn’t capable of anything in the FBI, just because he looked young. Age and experience usually went hand in hand, but age and competence didn’t. However, knowing what Ryeowook knew about Griffith, Ryeowook couldn’t take it as a compliment. It was creepy, and he could feel shivers move down his spine. He felt like a piece of meat hanging in front of a starving lion, or an animal in a zoo exhibition. It felt wrong, and Ryeowook was uncomfortable.

Luckily, Kyuhyun once again spoke for him. “Actually, Ryeonggoo is slightly older than me,” Kyuhyun informed Nick Griffith. His arm was still protectively around Ryeowook’s waist, and Ryeowook was thankful Kyuhyun held him. It felt like he was being protected from Griffith, in a way. Ryeowook appreciated Kyuhyun’s silent gestures like that. Those that one didn’t notice, unless you paid attention, but gave off the vibe that Kyuhyun at least cared a little for him. Like the way, he was glaring daggers at Nick Griffith as if to say Ryeowook was off-limits. Or the way he didn’t actually say Ryeowook’s name, just to keep him safe from the man.

“A pity, you know young people just have that extra spark,” everyone looked uncomfortable while Griffith laughed, “but you’re both young, while I’m old and grey, I’m sure you haven’t lost your spark just yet.” Ryeowook wasn’t sure how he was meant to interpret Griffith’s statement, so he decided not to. Nick Griffith was disgusting, and Ryeowook didn’t want him anywhere close. Obviously, Ryeowook didn’t think Kyuhyun and Leeteuk’s way of handling the Griffith situation was right, but he wouldn’t be sorry to see him go. Ryeowook couldn’t just justify their actions, but it wasn’t as if Griffith was completely innocent either. With that Griffith left, and Ryeowook was honestly glad to see him go.

“Excuse us,” the assistant spoke when Griffith had disappeared in the crowds again. He made a silent motion to Jungsoo that they were going to leave, and the blond male easily picked up on that. “Jungsoo has a busy schedule, and the mayor’s been trying to catch my eye for five minutes now.” He explained politely, before he did a half-bow to them, as a way to bid goodbye. He looked at everyone individually with his sharp, intense eyes, but he held Ryeowook’s gaze for the longest, and Ryeowook wondered what that meant, but he discarded it quickly. It wasn’t like he could ask.

“It was a nice chat. Nice meeting you Ryeowook” Jungsoo politely bid them goodbye. As he addressed Ryeowook personally his eyes, too, lingered at Ryeowook. As if he was searching for something, and Ryeowook wondered what that could be. He seemed pleased with what he saw, however, because he moved on. “We’ll talk business later,” he told Siwon and Kyuhyun specifically, and the two taller males nodded curtly. Jungsoo seemed to be taking his leave with his assistant when he turned to Kyuhyun with a smirk visible on his lips. “Oh, and Kyu, enjoy your date~.” Ryeowook could see the slightly mortified expression on Kyuhyun’s face before he locked it away. With that, both Jungsoo and his assistant was gone.

Kyuhyun regained his posture and smiled tightly at Siwon. Ryeowook didn’t know what Kyuhyun had in mind, but it seemed like Kyuhyun wanted to leave. “Excuse us,” he told Siwon sternly – probably still annoyed by Jungsoo’s teasing – as he dragged Ryeowook away. Ryeowook barely had the chance to bid Siwon goodbye before Kyuhyun had dragged him far away from Siwon, and even further away from Jungsoo.

“You’ll have to excuse Jungsoo, he’s a little like an overbearing parent to me, he’s always quizzing my dates to see if he approves of them or not,” Kyuhyun explained dismissingly. As if that would explain why Jungsoo had been testing him previously. It did explain some things, but not quite. It felt like there was something running deeper that everyone, except for Ryeowook, understood. Ryeowook wanted to ask, but he knew he wouldn’t get an answer. Instead, he decided to play it off.

“That’s cute, but we’re not dating,” the black-haired male answered instead. Ryeowook wanted to see if his acknowledgement of the truth hurt Kyuhyun in any way, but Kyuhyun didn’t seem hurt, stressed, or offended. He seemed calm, although that could be a façade, and a little relieved that they were on the same page. Comforted that Ryeowook wasn’t seeking a relationship out of this affair.

“That’s what I told him,” Kyuhyun told him truthfully. Ryeowook wondered what it said about Kyuhyun, and their relationship, when the most truthful thing Kyuhyun had said to him was how they weren’t in a relationship. Kyuhyun didn’t seem interested in a relationship, and that proved to be a challenge because Ryeowook’s entire mission depended on if he managed to persuade Kyuhyun into a relationship. He had to make Kyuhyun realise he needed him, but how did Ryeowook do that when Kyuhyun already had everything he needed?

Maybe Ryeowook had slept with Kyuhyun too early? Because the only thing Kyuhyun really wanted from him was sex, but Ryeowook abolished the idea quickly. Kyuhyun was an impatient man, and if Ryeowook hadn’t slept with Kyuhyun by the end of this heist, Kyuhyun would’ve discarded him, and he’d lose his in forever. The only problem was that when Ryeowook was done with this mission after tonight, Kyuhyun had no real reason to keep him around, and Ryeowook had no real reason to stay.

The older had no interest in continuing their conversation about their relationship, so Ryeowook decided to change the subject. The first subject that came to mind, might be a little vulgar, but Ryeowook was curious about it. As long as Kyuhyun didn’t take it the wrong way it would be fine. However, he doubted Kyuhyun could take it too badly, it wasn’t like Kyuhyun was very stuck-up. “Is Jungsoo fucking his assistant?” He meant no disrespect by it; he was simply curious.

Ryeowook hadn’t needed to worry about Kyuhyun taking it badly, because he answered with loud booming laughter that lasted for quite a while. “It would be funny if he did,” he answered after a while when he’d finally calmed down. “Did you notice the sexual tension, or what?” Kyuhyun inquired after a slight pause, and Ryeowook shook his head. He hadn’t noticed any sexual tension and couldn’t even pick up on it even if he looked back at the interaction. If anything, his assistant seemed quite invisible, present but not demanding of any space. And Jungsoo had been far busier with quizzing Ryeowook to talk to his assistant.

“No, it’s just for an assistant he was dressed awfully nice,” Ryeowook replied. It was an important gala, and Jungsoo was an important person, so it made sense that his assistant would need to look fashionable, but a suit like Ryeowook’s would do the job. If he’d worn an even cheaper suit than Ryeowook’s, he’d doubt that anyone would bat an eye. There was no need for Jungsoo’s assistant to be dressed like that. Unless Jungsoo had demanded it, which seemed quite unreasonable because a suit like that would be above the average assistant’s paygrade.

“Of course, you’d pick up on something like that,” Kyuhyun replied humoured.

“Yah,” Ryeowook exclaimed, and hit Kyuhyun lightly on the arm, “what is that supposed to be mean?” He inquired, and looked at Kyuhyun with raised brows, daring the younger to disrespect him.

“Nothing,” Kyuhyun quickly answered, “is just that I noticed how you dress, you obviously care about fashion,” he continued, trying to defend his comment. Ryeowook didn’t feel insulted or offended, because it was true. He did care about what he wore, and especially since he’d been in Chicago, he’d given an extra effort to his clothes.

“Well, there’s nothing wrong with that.” Ryeowook began, not that Kyuhyun had said it was anything wrong with it. He hadn’t accused him of anything, he’d only told him an observation. “I bet you only wear suits because you don’t know how to look stylish in other clothes,” Ryeowook fired back. He’d briefly seen Kyuhyun’s closet, and he’d seen a lot of suits, but aside from suits, the closet had been rather lacking.

“No need to cut that deep, Ryeonggoo,” Kyuhyun replied humoured, but his voice told Ryeowook that his suspicions had been correct.

Hyukjae grumbled silent curses at guests as he served them drinks. Most of them didn’t spare him a glance, and those who did usually gave him utter looks of disgust. Hyukjae didn’t really care how they felt about waiters since he wasn’t a waiter typically, but the urge to throw the fancy liquor in their face was still present. His eyes glanced at the wristwatch on his left hand, a Rolex from Jungsoo that the elder had gifted him for his twenty-seventh birthday this year. The clock was the only thing that really separated him from the other, actual, waiters. Or so it felt like. There were several things that separated Hyukjae from the normal crowd. But right now, when he was dressed up to disappear in the crowd the only thing that really stood out was his expensive wristwatch.

A watch that was way too expensive for a waiter to carry around, and if someone had seen it, they’d assume Hyukjae had stolen it from the gala. Which could’ve been likely since the guests were Chicago’s upper-class. With Hyukjae’s reputation stealing wasn’t all that far-fetched either; pocket stealing was an art Hyukjae had mastered years ago. However, the watch wasn’t stolen, it was legally his. He hadn’t dressed up as a waiter to steal even if could, sometimes it would’ve been almost too easy. Although the watch’s primary function was to tell the time, it served as a reminder. A reminder that Hyukjae was different from the other waiters. He was here on a mission, a mission that promised great rewards, like his wristwatch.

His watch showed the time was five minutes to nine. So, it was almost time. At least that gave Hyukjae some hope, he didn’t need to suffer through the waiter act much longer now.

The last glass of Champagne was taken by a snobby elderly lady, but Hyukjae paid her no mind as he waltzed out of the crowd. It was almost time either way. He could spot Kyuhyun with Ryeowook talking silently by themselves, and he wondered slightly what it was about. A silent sigh escaped Hyukjae’s lips as he looked over to the couple, for once, just once he wished Jungsoo would give the role as a guest or something. Hyukjae was always stuck with the dirt jobs, waiter, Yesung’s assistant (he couldn’t even get the role as a journalist), janitor, driver, receptionist and so on. If they needed someone on the inside, or a service worker it was always Hyukjae that ended up with that role. He’d never seen Heechul as the fake bartender or Donghae as the waiter.

Of course, Donghae was an exception because he always had the role of the hacker. He could sit comfortably at home, far away from any danger and just type on the computer until he achieved whatever goal Jungsoo had given him. Heechul, on the other hand, could’ve been an insider, if Jungsoo had wanted to. However, Heechul was always rewarded with better roles. Hyukjae had never considered that Heechul and Jungsoo were sleeping together until Kyuhyun had said it, on Thursday during their meeting, but maybe it was something in it? Kyuhyun was awfully cocky and arrogant, but he was smart, he picked up on things Hyukjae was too drunk to notice.

To some degree, Hyukjae knew Jungsoo wasn’t punishing him by giving him the roles that he got. It usually depended on the mission, and what they needed. Besides, it was no secret that out of the eight of them, Hyukjae was the one with the longest criminal record. So, they had to hide his presence. However, Shindong’s record could be compared to his own, and he never had to slave away for snobby rich people. Again, usually Hyukjae and Shindong got different missions, Shindong wasn’t even present at the gala, but just for once Hyukjae wished Jungsoo could show him a little more faith. Hyukjae could sober up without Yesung babysitting him, he could do something else than be a waiter and he didn’t need to be followed as if he was a loose cannon.

It sucked, because even the new guy, got to enjoy the party. While Hyukjae which had known Jungsoo the longest, except for Donghae, still got waiter roles.

No one seemed to realise that Hyukjae was working twice as hard as everyone else, every mission. Every single one of them. He always had to do actual work, like waitering, and then he had to do his mission. Waitering for example, was hard, he had to be quick, efficient, careful not to spill the beverage, always present, but not in the way, polite and have an outstanding balance. When this shit job was done Hyukjae was going to do the things he was going to the actual job for Jungsoo. And so went for every operation they did. Hyukjae was more than capable of doing something else than be the insider every single time, Jungsoo should’ve realised that by now. But since Hyukjae enjoyed clubbing, drinking and getting high, everyone saw him as an unserious drug addict with a problem. Hyukjae could admit he might have a problem, but he wasn’t incapable. He could sober up to do a mission, even if Hyukjae enjoyed the party scene. He always got the job done, sure he had fucked up in the past, and he might fuck up again, but Hyukjae wasn’t as bad as Kyuhyun and Jungsoo made him seem.

They just refused to see his potential.

He could easily spot Jungsoo with Heechul, they seemed to be having quite a good time, unlike himself. Jungsoo’s real identity was still a mystery to the FBI, so he understood how Jungsoo could just enjoy the party and lean back, while the others had to do actual work. Because it would be weird if the hotel giant Park Jungsoo disappeared from a gala like this. So, enjoying the party was a part of Jungsoo’s mission. Same went for Kyuhyun and Siwon. Because they had companies and a day job, they could enjoy the party, sip the expensive Champagne and do whatever they wanted. If Kyuhyun wanted to, he could drag that poor art thief to the nearest bathroom and fuck him, before they had to work. They were free to do whatever, flirt with whoever they wanted. Even if Kyuhyun only had had eyes for one person this past week.

Hyukjae knew it wouldn’t last. Which was a shame, because the Ryeowook-fella seemed nice enough. However, Kyuhyun wouldn’t keep him around. Kyuhyun played with his toys until he got bored of them, and then he replaced them with a new ones. Kyuhyun had been in relationships, but they never lasted more than a year. Doyun was of now Kyuhyun’s longest relationship, and ever since him, the average relationship timespan had dwelled significantly down. After tonight, Kyuhyun had no real reason to keep the art thief around; he’d gotten the jewellery stolen, and he had fucked him. There weren’t much more Kyuhyun could want from Ryeowook, Hyukjae wouldn’t be surprised if this was the last time he saw Ryeowook. Kyuhyun wasn’t stuck on Doyun, far from it, Kyuhyun had moved on several years ago. However, relationships didn’t interest Kyuhyun. He felt he had little to gain from them, and much more to gain as single.

The older couldn’t help but agree, relationships were troublesome. However, Hyukjae had to admit it would be nice to have someone, sometimes. It would be nice to have a significant other, but Hyukjae was realistic enough to realise he wasn’t meant for relationships. Every relationship he’d ever tried – with guys and girls – had fallen apart. He was self-aware enough to realise he was the problem, and after that realisation, Hyukjae had stopped trying. Relationships were nice if you fit to be in a relationship, but Hyukjae knew he wasn’t exactly boyfriend material.

Heck, Hyukjae had problems seeing Kyuhyun in a relationship. Thank God, he never had to date Kyuhyun. Kyuhyun was too controlling, manipulative and stubborn. Dating Kyuhyun would be like dating Lucifer. Lucifer was originally an angel, and things could seem like a dream, but Kyuhyun had his darker sides. Lucifer was the first demon, the fallen angel, and Kyuhyun – well, if you got on his wrong side, he got scary. Kyuhyun was too intense for Hyukjae. He loved you with all he had and hated you equally as strong. It would be sad to see Ryeowook go because he was the first guy Kyuhyun had liked in forever that Hyukjae actually liked too – but it would be worse if Ryeowook got caught up in Kyuhyun. For Ryeowook, it would be better if he got out of Kyuhyun’s grasp.

The clock was one minute to nine, and Hyukjae discarded the silver tray on some random table before he subtly snuck out of the gala. It was almost time.

The staircase that led directly to the garage was empty, just like it was supposed to be, and Hyukjae let a relieved sigh escape his lips. He hadn’t noticed how noisy the gala was, but now that he was alone Hyukjae realised how tiring the loud sounds had been. He leaned his back against the white wall, and propped his head slightly back, just enough for it to collide with the cold stone wall. The black-haired male sighed again, as he closed his eyes and allowed himself to have a minute of rest. The next time Jungsoo was making him be a waiter Hyukjae was going to fight about it, at least argue a little, before he agreed. That way he would feel better because he’d know he didn’t have a choice. When the slender male opened his eyes again, he quickly discarded the black bowtie and the white blazer. At least he looked less like a waiter now, even if he was still dressed in a white shirt, and black suit pants.

He didn’t need the disguise anymore.

He checked his clock; it was one minute after nine. Yesung would be here soon, and so would Siwon. However, he still had time to kill, so Hyukjae lit a cigarette. He’d smell of cigarettes the rest of the night, but Hyukjae didn’t care as he placed the cigarette between his lips and inhaled the toxic smoke before he blew it out. Nicotine was exactly what he needed right now. He could feel his lips curve slightly up in a small smile, as he took another puff of the cigarette for so blowing the smoke out.

“A cigarette, really?” was the first thing Yesung asked him when he met him in the staircase. Hyukjae rolled his eyes and didn’t show a reaction as he took another puff of the cigarette.

“Shut up and let me have it,” Hyukjae grumbled, “I’m sober, aren’t I?” To which Yesung answered with a shrug. Yesung had the audacity of shrugging when he’d personally had followed Hyukjae around these past days. To make sure Hyukjae hadn’t gotten a single drop of alcohol in his veins or went somewhere to have a joint, or snort cocaine in Jungsoo’s bathroom. Yesung knew he was sober.

“You might alert a smoke alarm,” Yesung responded with, and Hyukjae rolled his eyes.

“If you’d been waitering all these snobby people for the past two hours, you too would be having a smoke. Probably a lot more than smoke. And that I can assure you.” Hyukjae replied before he lifted the cigarette to his lips again and took another puff of it. He could taste the nicotine on his tongue and on his lips, but Hyukjae liked that there would be a reminder of the cigarette even after it was gone.

“Where’s Siwon?” Yesung grumbled as he checked his watch. It was a nice watch, but not as luxurious as Hyukjae’s. Yesung had bought that one himself, which would explain why. “He’s late.” Hyukjae only nodded, with the cigarette dangling from his lips. Siwon was late, and they had a tight schedule. Siwon better fucking hurry. The tall man only had one job, and it was quite easy. All he had to do was slip the drug in Nick Griffith’s drink, and then he needed to move Griffith from the gala to Yesung and Hyukjae. After that, Siwon’s tasks were done, and he could go back to enjoying the party.

Siwon got off easy, while Hyukjae had one of the worsts jobs.

The door opened, and Siwon appeared with Nick Griffith under his arm. The man already looked slightly out, but the drug hadn’t kicked completely in. Hyukjae glared at Siwon, taking his irritation out on him. It wasn’t quite fair of him, but Hyukjae wasn’t really known for being a reasonable man.

“You’re late,” Hyukjae complained. Yesung was nice enough not to voice his irritations, he would complain and bitch about it, but only when Siwon wasn’t present. Hyukjae wasn’t that nice or forgiving and would gladly let people know where they were mistaken. Which could be ironic because Hyukjae was a very flawed human being, but Hyukjae didn’t really care if it was double-standard of him.

“Sorry,” Siwon quickly apologized. “He took forever to drink his glass because he kept talking about how cute Ryeowook looked, and how he didn’t believe how he could be over twenty-five.” Siwon made a face of disgust, and they all knew what that meant. “I think Kyuhyun wanted to punch him,” Siwon helpfully supplied, and Hyukjae couldn’t help but laugh. He wished he’d been there to see the sight. Especially, the poor art thief caught in the middle of it. Hyukjae stubbed the cigarette against the wall to light it out before he stepped on it. His smoking break was over.

“Go back to the party,” Yesung told Siwon, as he reached for Griffith. They had to carry him, but Hyukjae would’ve liked it better if they’d dragged him down the stairs. “Before people ask where you are, you’re host after all,” Yesung continued when Siwon lingered a little. Hyukjae got a good grip of Nick Griffith and leant the man against himself so he could carry him with fewer difficulties.

“Seriously Siwon,” Hyukjae began, while Yesung took Griffith on the other side, “we got this, just go back to the party.” He struggled slightly with grip, and Siwon eyed him suspiciously.

“Are you sure?” He asked, ready to step in to help them if they needed it. Siwon was too nice for his own good sometimes.

“Completely,” Hyukjae answered, slightly out of breath already. God, Nick Griffith was heavy. “Go back before Heechul flips his shit, you know he gets about schedules.” Hyukjae shooed him away again, and Siwon nodded. The threat of an angry Heechul worked its magic as usual. When Siwon finally left, Yesung and he started to carry the drugged man down the stairs to the garage.

“God, Jungsoo could’ve at least provided us with an elevator,” Hyukjae grumbled as they were moving down one floor at the time.

“Agreed,” Yesung panted. “Why are we the ones always stuck with the dirty work?” Yesung complained before he adjusted his grip on Griffith. They continued to move down, Hyukjae couldn’t reach the garage fast enough.

“Because you’re the worst amongst us,” Hyukjae joked, and he grinned when he saw Yesung’s sour face. It was too easy to provoke him.

“Says the waiter,” Yesung fired back, and Hyukjae couldn’t help but huff. How could he argue with that? It was the truth. Hyukjae had the shittiest job on the team. Donghae was at the comfort of his own home just casually hacking, he was probably done soon, and then he could go to bed or whatever good boys like Donghae did. Shindong was probably having the time of his life trashing Griffith’s office. Jungsoo, Siwon and Heechul were enjoying the party knowing everything was taken care of, and Kyuhyun would soon take Ryeowook to Griffith’s place so he could steal the jewellery. Meanwhile, he and Yesung were here. Dragging a drugged pedophile down the stairs. A quite heavy pedophile.

When they were finally down the stairs, they dragged the unconscious man towards the black car. The cameras wouldn’t show their presence, because Donghae had already looped them to play nothing for hours.

“Back seat or luggage room?” Hyukjae asked jokingly, as he found the car keys, and opened the car. The doors and luggage room opened up automatically. At least, Jungsoo had provided them with a nice car. It was a sports car, with gullwing doors.

“Let’s just throw him in the back seat. It looks less suspicious,” Yesung answered. Either the joke went over his head, or he wasn’t in the mood for Hyukjae’s bad jokes. Both were equally as probable. Although, the faint smile – that Yesung would deny was there if Hyukjae pointed it out – made Hyukjae lean in favour of the latter.

“Fine, but I’m not taking seat belts on him,” Hyukjae answered, and Yesung agreed. Which surprised Hyukjae a little, usually Yesung was the nicer out of the two. The fact that he agreed must mean that Yesung really hated Griffith’s guts. They continued to throw him into the back seat of the car, and Hyukjae didn’t bother to be careful or not. When they were done, he slapped the door shut, probably harder than he needed to. The loud sound echoed through the empty garage house.

“I’m driving,” Yesung demanded, and reached his hand out to Hyukjae as a silent question for him to hand the keys over. Hyukjae laughed and threw the keys up in the air with his right hand before he caught them again.

“No, you’re not,” Hyukjae replied as he walked over to the driver’s side, and Yesung was forced to take the passenger seat.

“I hate it when you drive,” Yesung grumbled, but he didn’t have much choice. He either got in the car, or Hyukjae would drive from him. He’d done it before, and he’d do it again. Yesung knew that, and begrudgingly– but not without cursing his name – he got inside the car. Hyukjae didn’t waste much time after that and got into the car himself. He started the car without any problems, and from there on things went smoothly. He drove the car perfectly out of the garage house before they entered the streets of Chicago. The street was its usual queue, but when they got out of the city centre the traffic loosened up until it was practically only Yesung and Hyukjae on the road. Which allowed Hyukjae to break the speed limits.

Yesung dramatically gripped his seat as the car accelerated forwards. This was a really nice car, Hyukjae had to admit. At least, Jungsoo got one thing right. “This is why I hate it when you drive,” Yesung complained from the passenger seat. “You go way too fast!”

“Stop whining unless you wanna walk there.” Hyukjae retorted, and ignored the silver-haired male’s complaint, as he stepped on the gas pedal to increase their speed. A giddy feeling spread through Hyukjae as he saw how fast they were going; they were practically speeding through the city in just a few seconds. He could hear a loud thump from the backseat and saw Griffith roll off the seats and onto the floor in the rear-view mirror. Alright, maybe he was going a little fast, and Hyukjae slowed down a little.

“See you’re going so fast he even fell to the floor!” Yesung rightly accused him. Hyukjae only answered with a snort, before he ignored Yesung again. However, he did listen to the complaints and slowed significantly down, so he was barely passing the speed limits. He knew Yesung would’ve preferred if he was going the speed limit, but he didn’t complain about it for the short remainder of the ride. Hyukjae parked outside of the warehouse they’d previously been to less than a week ago when they’d kidnapped Ryeowook. Less than a week ago Kyuhyun was fuming about his stolen painting, and now he was banging the thief. Life had an odd irony to it.

“Let’s just get him inside and wait for him to wake,” Hyukjae said, as they stopped, and Yesung agreed. Carrying Griffith inside wasn’t an easy task, but it was easier than the stairs. Ryeowook hadn’t been as difficult to carry. But he’d been lighter, and smaller. Plus, Shindong had been there and carried most of Ryeowook’s weight. Griffith was a tall, broad, and slightly overweight man. They dropped him once, but neither really cared about it. When they were inside, they laid him directly on the concrete floor, but they didn’t bother tying him up. They’d be over him before he had the chance to run, and Griffith wasn’t as fast as Ryeowook. Griffith wouldn’t escape as Ryeowook had. Even if he managed to do the impossible and escape, it wouldn’t matter because his entire life would be destroyed either way.

Hyukjae lit a new smoke in the meantime, he tried to offer one to the older, but Yesung declined. Yesung wasn’t much of a smoker, but Hyukjae knew he smoked sometimes. Mostly when he was stressed and tried to calm his nerves. Hyukjae knew almost everything about Yesung and his habits. He’d spent so much time around the other that eventually, he picked up on stuff like that, even when he was drunk or high. After what felt like an hour, but his wristwatch said was twenty-five minutes, the older man started to waken. Hyukjae stepped on his third cigarette to let it die out before he joined Yesung’s side to watch Griffith wake up. Slowly, his senses came back, and he groaned loudly.

“Why am I here?” Griffith asked when he was semi-conscious. “I was at the gala,” he said, but he sounded quite unsure. The black-haired male wanted to laugh, but he contained it for now.

Hyukjae lifted Griffith up by the collar and leaned his face closer so the other man could have a proper look at him. “Nicky, you know exactly why you’re here.” He used the same nickname he’d used the last time he’d threatened Nick Griffith to make sure the elder knew exactly who Hyukjae was.

“You!” That was all Nick got out before Hyukjae punched him in the face. He’d even borrowed rings from Yesung to make the impact worse.

“You’re disgusting,” Hyukjae told Griffith as he fell to the ground with a large scream. His hand wasn’t bloody yet, but it would be in not long.

“Please,” Griffith begged, as Hyukjae landed a kick in the man’s stomach that made him lose his breath and voice for a moment before it came back in a form of a groan.

“You are sickening Griffith,” Hyukjae continued. “They are kids. Kids! For fuck’s sake.” He continued to kick the man who was lying on the floor begging, screaming, and crying, but Hyukjae didn’t stop. He enjoyed the sound of those noises, the way he helplessly begged for his worthless life, knowing that no matter what he said it wouldn’t help. Hyukjae gripped the older man’s collar once again and lifted him slightly up from the ground to have his attention. His face was already swelling up, as it should.

“Please, I’ll give you anything you want, just please,” he broke into a sob. Hyukjae wanted to make a face, it was disgusting watching the older man beg and sob like this. Nick Griffith was truly disgusting. “Stop.”

“No can do, Nicky,” Hyukjae replied, before he punched him again, making the man fall to the floor again. This time with a loud slam. The loud sound echoed through the empty warehouse, and he could hear Yesung chuckle from behind him. Somehow, that gave Hyukjae more confidence and the next punch was harder. The black-haired male knew it had landed like he’d wanted it to do, from the sound of Griffith’s scream. “We gave you another chance,” Hyukjae told him and punched Griffith once more in the face. This time he broke the skin, and red blood painted Hyukjae’s skin and Yesung’s rings. “With the promise that you didn’t get close to any children, but you just couldn’t stay away, huh?” Hyukjae punched Griffith again, and again, and again. Enjoying the sounds coming from him, he was truly in pain – as he deserved.

“Give me another chance,” he begged. His face was bloody, and his right eye was swollen. Hyukjae hadn’t noticed he’d broken Griffith’s nose, but he could clearly see that his nose was broken. He looked terrible, but he didn’t deserve anything else either. He looked like he was in great pain, but that was exactly where he should be.

“What about those little kids you molested? Did they get another chance, Nicky? Did they?! What about those kids you raped and killed? Where are their second chance?!” Hyukjae yelled angrily, each sentence was delivered with another hard blow. He paused to look at his work, Nick Griffith was barely recognizable as the man that been at the gala less than an hour ago.

“N-no, they … they didn’t” Griffith cried out before he started to beg again.

“That’s right, they didn’t. You fucking rapist. You fucking murderer. Guys like you,” Hyukjae pronounced it with utmost disgust, “they don’t deserve another chance.” Hyukjae kicked the man harshly in the side, again and again. Each kick was delivered harder than the previous one. Until he heard the satisfying sound of a crack. However, Griffith wasn’t getting off easy with just a broken nose, a broken rib, and some bruises. Hyukjae wanted to squish Griffith like an ant, he wanted to beat him so badly Griffith wished he was dead. But not kill him completely. Both Griffith’s and Hyukjae’s shirt was getting bloodier, Griffith’s shirt was worse than his own, but Hyukjae didn’t mind the blood. The blood meant that justice had been served.

Hyukjae lifted up Griffith again, but this time he didn’t say anything. Maybe he knew it was useless? Hyukjae doubted it though, cowards like Griffith would be begging for their life until they lost their consciousness. If anything, Hyukjae was suspecting that he was slipping into unconsciousness. Which wasn’t fair, Griffith was going to be awake for the beating. Hyukjae wouldn’t allow him to get off easy. This time Hyukjae lifted the man more up from the ground than he’d done previously. To prevent Griffith from slipping under, he punched him in the stomach before he threw Griffith away from himself and towards Yesung. The concrete floor was covered in Griffith’s blood, as to show where he had been beat, and where he hadn’t. By the look of blood on the floor, Hyukjae wasn’t satisfied yet. They could still beat him some more.

He looked expectantly over to Yesung who was now closer to Griffith than himself. Only to find the silver-haired male staring back at him. Hyukjae didn’t say anything, but he silently raised his brows and made a small nod in Yesung’s direction. He knew that Yesung knew what it meant. Hyukjae and Yesung might argue a lot and were more up in the other’s throat than not, but when it came down to it, no one could read him better than Yesung. Kyuhyun was perceptive, and little went past Jungsoo. However, Yesung was the only one who never missed any silent cues from Hyukjae. Sometimes, it felt like Yesung knew what Hyukjae wanted before he even knew it himself. It wasn’t one-sided though. Hyukjae might be high or drunk most of the time – maybe both – but he was confident that no one could read Yesung like him. Not even Jungsoo.

As predicted, Yesung understood what Hyukjae meant, without having to spell it out for him. The silver-haired male took a look at Griffith before he lifted him up to study him. Griffith seemed to be regaining at least some consciousness because Hyukjae could see him watching Yesung. Hyukjae was too far away to hear the silent whispering from Nick Griffith, but he knew Yesung heard it because suddenly the entire mood changed.

First, Yesung’s posture stiffened. The relaxed expression which had been painting Yesung’s soft features suddenly disappeared. Now all his face showed was terror. He could see the dread in Yesung’s eyes and the smug expression on Griffith’s bloody face. The fucker even went as far as grinning, revealing bloody teeth, Hyukjae couldn’t tell if Griffith had lost some teeth or not, because his mouth was so bloody. However, the satisfied expression was still visible, even if the elder man was in great pain. Then suddenly, again, Yesung shifted. The terror in his face was gone and replaced with rage.

“You fucker!” Yesung yelled before he punched Griffith in the face. Knocking some teeth out for sure. A low whine escaped Griffith’s mouth, but Yesung wasn’t done. He started to kick Griffith anywhere his foot would hit. His stomach, his chest, his face. Yesung was ruthless. Hyukjae had never seen Yesung this angry, it was unnerving and kind of … hot. However, Yesung didn’t seem satisfied with just beating him. Anger seared through Yesung’s body, Hyukjae could see it, he was disgusted with Griffith – and he wanted him dead.

“I’ll fucking kill you,” Yesung promised darkly, before he pulled his gun out, and pointed the gun at Nick Griffith. Hyukjae had seen Yesung shoot at people before, to hurt them or kill them. There was always this slight hesitation behind his eyes, a little hint of regret. Every time Yesung had killed someone he always joined Hyukjae drinking afterwards, those nights Yesung was the one that got the drunkest. However, this was different. The hesitation in Yesung’s eyes was completely gone and replaced with rage. Yesung wanted to kill him. What could Griffith possibly have said to make Yesung this angry?

“Yesung,” Hyukjae decided this was the time to intervene before Yesung did something he might regret. Besides, they had orders to not kill him. Hyukjae didn’t want to tell Jungsoo they’d discarded his orders. He’d only seen Jungsoo angry a few times, mostly it was directed at Kyuhyun when he ignored Jungsoo’s orders, and Hyukjae didn’t want to be at the end of receiving that treatment. He took a few fast strides towards Yesung and touched him gently, to get Yesung’s attention. “Yesung, stop this. Drop the gun,” his voice was awfully soft for being Hyukjae, but the black-haired male didn’t dwell on it. He had more important things to deal with as of now.

“He deserves to die,” Yesung told Hyukjae, as he landed another kick on Griffith.

“I know,” Hyukjae only replied, still not releasing his grip on Yesung. He couldn’t say anything else, because Yesung was right. If anyone deserved to die here, it was Nick Griffith. However, they had orders not to kill him. And more importantly, Hyukjae didn’t want Yesung to live with the guilt. Hyukjae didn’t think it was worth feeling guilty over killing people who deserved it, but Yesung was different from him. He couldn’t help but feel guilty no matter what they tried to tell him. That’s why when they were going to kill people, Jungsoo usually give it to Shindong or Hyukjae, because they could take it. Kind of fucked up, but Hyukjae knew he was all kinds of fucked up.

“Yesung, you don’t want to do this,” Hyukjae tried, but Yesung didn’t seem to take that in. He turned to Hyukjae and for a second the black-haired male was sure he could see the fire in his eyes.

“I do,” he promised Hyukjae. It was unnerving to see Yesung like this. Yesung who felt guilty about killing child traffickers, rapists and drug lords was now standing over Nick Griffith with no hesitation. No fear. He was calm and collected, and ready to kill. What did Griffith say to Yesung?

“I know,” Hyukjae admitted. He could easily read Yesung. He knew Yesung wanted to kill him, but that didn’t mean Hyukjae would let him. They were silent for a while, only staring at each other while Griffith was suffering on the ground.

“Drop the gun, Yesung,” Hyukjae tried again, and this time Yesung complied. The gun fell out of his grip, and it hit the floor with a loud clank. The gun was lying on the floor, but Hyukjae didn’t release Yesung just yet just in case Yesung was going to do something. The two stared into each other’s eyes for a few minutes, he could feel Yesung study his own face, but he paid it no mind as he was studying the elder’s face. He finally released Yesung when it got weirdly intimate. He even stepped slightly away, as if he could physically step away from the weird feeling.

“Do what you’d like to Griffith, just don’t kill him,” Hyukjae said, in lack of something better to say. It seemed like the wrong thing to say, but Hyukjae wasn’t good with words. He didn’t know what else he should say. It felt like they’d shared something special that should be commented on, but Hyukjae didn’t even have the words to describe what they’d shared. Yesung didn’t say anything else, so Hyukjae presumed that he’d either said the right thing. Or he was alone with this weird feeling, and Yesung didn’t feel like there were words left unsaid. Yesung continued to beat Griffith until he was unconscious, and even then, he didn’t let the man rest as he landed one last powerful kick. Jungsoo’s plan was that they were going to dump him outside of his own house, but Hyukjae and Yesung didn’t feel like doing it yet. Besides, Kyuhyun and Ryeowook were probably still there. So, they chained the man up, just in case he’d wake up – he wouldn’t – and went up the staircase Ryeowook had ran up the last time they’d been there.

However, unlike Ryeowook they didn’t continue further away from the roof and just stayed there while watching the city. It was already quite dark, but Hyukjae didn’t care what the clock was. Yesung stood beside him, but he was silent. It was a nice night, and Hyukjae could barely spot some stars if he focused on it enough. But because of the light pollution, he could hardly see any stars. The moon was nice though. In lack of something else to say, Hyukjae found his pack of cigarettes and took one out before he offered one to Yesung. He wasn’t surprised when Yesung took one.

They were silent for quite some time, and Hyukjae didn’t mind as he puffed in the nicotine smoke before he blew it out again. When a few minutes went by, Hyukjae finally turned to the silver-haired male. He figured Yesung had gotten some minutes to calm down and was ready to talk.

“What did Griffith say to you that made you so angry?” Hyukjae asked. Yesung opened his mouth, and Hyukjae already knew that Yesung was going to blow it off like nothing even before he’d said anything. “And don’t say it’s nothing, because that in there?” He pointed at the concrete building, “that was not nothing. I’ve never seen you that angry. If you don’t want to tell me, you don’t need to, but I’m not stupid enough to believe that it was nothing.” Yesung closed his mouth and averted his gaze. Instead of replying Yesung took a puff of the cigarette. Obviously, he didn’t want to talk about it.

“I don’t think you’re stupid, Hyuk,” was all Yesung said instead. Hyukjae understood that he didn’t want to talk about it, but that didn’t mean that Hyukjae wasn’t going to press further. It had obviously stirred something up in Yesung, and it wasn’t healthy for the older man to keep it to himself.

“Does it have anything to do with the oh-so mysterious past?” Hyukjae’s voice was playful, but the words weren’t equally as playful. Out of the eight of them, they knew the least about Yesung. Yesung refused to tell them anything vital about his past. When they told stories of their past life, Yesung always kept his mouth shut. It took him years to reveal his birthday, and outside of that Hyukjae barely knew anything personal about Yesung. He didn’t know where Yesung had grown up, didn’t know anything about his family, his living conditions and so on. Sometimes, Yesung would slip bits and pieces of himself into a conversation. Like, when he’d seen Kyuhyun play StarCraft, he’d told Hyukjae and Kyuhyun he used to have a Nintendo 64. But it never ran deeper than that. Yesung was like a closed book that was locked in five different ways, in a safe, in a vault in a cellar of a well-guarded building. It was nearly impossible to break his walls. Hyukjae wondered what had made Yesung like that, but he refused to tell them.

“I’ve met Griffith once before.” He began after a few minutes and paused slightly. Hyukjae was watching him with wide eyes, hanging onto every word. “Before I was Yesung,” Yesung revealed. That was maybe one of the biggest revelations he’d ever heard from Yesung, and even then, it was quite vague.

Hyukjae could feel himself physically open his mouth, and his eyes widen even more, but he felt the action was justified. “You’re telling me that fucker in there,” he pointed angrily at the building, “knows your real name, and we don’t!” His anger was justified. Out of the biggest things Yesung kept from them it was his real name. He absolutely refused to tell them, all he’d revealed was that it was a Korean name, but aside from that, he had never given any more hints. Hyukjae couldn’t believe it, Griffith knew Yesung’s real name, and he didn’t. He felt betrayed but mostly angry. He couldn’t understand why Yesung would keep something like that from them, but he must have his reasons. Even so, it was hard to understand the reasons, when Yesung wouldn’t tell them. The gang was all they had, but Yesung refused to trust them. Even after years. Hyukjae understood it in the beginning, Yesung had been one of the last members to join, Siwon joined the latest, and he didn’t trust them at first. But now, the act was running old.

The black-haired was angry at Yesung for not telling him and even angrier at Griffith for knowing his real name. Griffith didn’t deserve to know. He didn’t know how valuable the knowledge was. Griffith knew Yesung’s name, and Hyukjae didn’t – it wasn’t fair. Hyukjae felt like taking his anger out on Griffith, but it was useless. He was already unconscious.

“I didn’t think he’d remember me; it was quite brief. I don’t think he even remembers my name,” Yesung tried to defend himself, but the words fell silent to Hyukjae’s ears. Griffith had at least known Yesung’s name once, which was unfair because Hyukjae didn’t. If Yesung ever told him his real name, Hyukjae would make sure to remember it.

“What did he say?” Hyukjae asked again, trying his luck again, but Yesung didn’t answer. The only answer he got was Yesung shaking his head as a way of saying he wasn’t going to tell Hyukjae no matter how many times Hyukjae asked.

“Fine,” Hyukjae surrendered. “When did you meet Griffith? And why?” Yesung looked at him sceptically before he replied vaguely again.

“It was some months before I met Jungsoo.” It wasn’t lost on Hyukjae how he only answered one question, while he ignored the other one. Hyukjae couldn’t blame him Yesung for keeping his life private, but he hated how selectively Yesung replied to his questions. He’d respect Yesung’s boundaries better if Yesung gave him a vague idea why he was hiding everything. Because now it felt like Yesung was doing it for the spite of it.

“You’re not gonna tell me anything about it, are you?” Hyukjae asked, and smiled at Yesung. The smile was genuine, but at the same time, he was still furious for not knowing more. He hated how Yesung kept things from him. He was supposed to be the one that understood Yesung the best, and how was he going to do that, when Yesung refused to tell him anything?

“Nope,” Yesung replied cheekily, returning the smile.

Hyukjae nodded. He wasn’t satisfied with their conversation, but he knew there wasn’t any point in pressing Yesung. Yesung wouldn’t tell him anything more, and maybe close up even more. “Fine, but you know you can talk about it, right? With me. Like, if you want to. Some other time.” Hyukjae wished he wasn’t that bad with words. It was meant to come out as comforting, but it barely came out understandable to his own ears. He wanted Yesung to know that if he wanted to talk, Hyukjae would be there, but all he managed to do was make an awkward cluster of a sentence. Yesung smiled and nodded though, so hopefully, he had gotten the message across.

For a second Hyukjae wished he was better with words. If he could’ve asked the right questions and given the right replies. Maybe, just maybe, Yesung would’ve told him something? Maybe, if Hyukjae had been better with words Yesung would’ve told him the full story?