Chapter 1: Far from Home
"Cause I’m your home home home home
Where you can cry
Where you can stay"
There’s a sharp pain in his ribs when he opens his eyes. He holds back a groan and looks around the room, taking note of the multiple pillows propping him up against the headboard.
It’s not the first time he’s woken up disoriented in an unfamiliar place. With how much they travel and the lack of sleep that comes with their job, he’s used to it. Or at least I thought so.
The room is unfamiliar, yet well-decorated. Picture frames dot the walls, telling a story he should know, but must have forgotten in his confused state. He squints at the closest photo featuring thirteen familiar faces smiling widely at the camera, a bright castle-like structure behind them. Why don’t I remember-
“Hyung, you’re awake!”
He turns toward the doorway to see a tall boy bounding towards him. Strong arms wrap around his neck and his cheek gets squished against a firm chest.
“We were so worried when you collapsed!”
Another pair of arms curl around his back, gentle fingertips dancing along his spine.
Collapsed? When did I collapse? He unconsciously leans into their touch, searching his memories for clues to his current situation. I remember diving off the bridge to save Chan, but- Chan!
“Where’s Channie? Is he okay?” Jisoo winces at his scratchy throat. Mingyu and Soonyoung pull back to give him a look of sympathy.
Seokmin hands him a cup of water and smiles as Jisoo takes small sips. “You should be worrying about yourself hyung. You had a pretty bad fever-”
“Where’s Chan?” he repeats, setting the empty cup on the bedside table.
The younger three exchange a confused glance. “Who’s Chan?”
Who’s Chan?! If he wasn’t so worried, he’d be livid. If this is a prank, it’s a really bad one. He decides to change tactics, gripping the blanket to stop himself from throwing hands. “Where’s Seungcheol?”
Mingyu sounds hesitant as he mutters, “Seungkwan calmed him down after you collapsed. He hasn’t woken up yet.”
Jisoo lets out a long breath. “How long has it been?”
“Almost two days. He-”
This time he does throw off the blanket, stumbling towards the door.
“Wait, be careful-”
The door opens before he can grab the handle, revealing a startled boy with a wet towel in his hands.
“Jisoo hyung. You’re awake,” Chan whispers, still frozen in the doorway.
Jisoo falls against the younger boy, nearly making them collapse to the floor. Chan catches him, the surprised expression never leaving his face.
“You’re alive,” Jisoo whispers, hugging him tighter.
“I- You-” Chan hesitantly curls his arms around Jisoo’s back. “Yeah,” he breathes out, sinking into their embrace.
“Oh shit, we did it again.” Soonyoung’s guilty gaze flickers around the room. “We promised not to-”
“It’s my fault, hyung,” Chan whispers, pulling back a bit to smile reassuringly at Soonyoung. “It’s okay.”
“Hyung,” Chan cuts him off again, tugging on Jisoo’s shirt. “You should eat something. We have soup left over from yesterday.” He grins up at the older boy.
Jisoo smiles back, letting Chan guide him towards the living room.
As soon as he sits down, he’s surrounded by worried faces and a spoon heading towards his mouth. He nods to Seungkwan in thanks and lets the younger feed him.
“Is it good?” Mingyu asks nervously.
Jisoo hums, closing his eyes. Chicken noodle soup. He hasn’t had homemade chicken noodle soup since he visited home when they went on tour in the US. “It’s good.” His smile widens at Mingyu’s happy giggle. A warm weight settles against his right side. Another sinks onto his left as he feels something brush over his knee. His eyes slowly open as a hand squeezes his thigh.
He watches sleepily as Hansol blows on a spoonful of soup, then Seungkwan nods in approval, offering it to Jisoo.
The hand leaves his thigh, traveling back down to rest on his knee. He opens his mouth and receives another spoonful, Seungkwan scolding him softly when some soup dribbles down his chin. Chan wipes it with his sleeve, earning a warning look from Seungkwan.
“How are you feeling?”
It takes him a moment to realize they’re talking to him. Everyone’s looking at him again, concern shining in their eyes. The youngest two are on either side of him, holding on tightly like he might disappear. Seungkwan continues to feed him soup while being careful not to spill any. Soonyoung sits on the floor in front of him, idly massaging his knee. Mingyu and Seokmin share worried looks as they wait for Jisoo’s answer.
“Tired,” Jisoo breathes out after swallowing another mouthful of soup. “I was hungry but now I’m not,” he jokes, earning him a few smiles.
“That’s good,” Seokmin mutters. The lingering tension seems to dissipate when everyone laughs at Seokmin’s exaggerated expression of relief.
Jisoo tries to relax into the familiar comfort of his members, but a few nagging thoughts keep him tense. Why did they forget about Chan? Where are Jeonghan, Junhui, Wonwoo, Minghao, and Jihoon? Why did I faint? Why is this place so familiar yet so different? Why do I feel like I’m missing-
“You should get more rest, hyung. I know you’re worried about Seungcheol hyung but the others are taking care of him,” Soonyoung mutters, getting up to help Jisoo to his feet. He doesn’t say anything when Chan continues to cling to Jisoo’s elbow, letting himself be dragged into the older’s room.
Soonyoung tucks him into bed, smiling when Chan slides in to hug Jisoo’s side. Soonyoung does the same, wrapping his arms around the older’s waist. Hansol claims Chan’s other side and chuckles when Seungkwan drapes himself over him, nuzzling his cheek against Hansol’s shoulder. Mingyu pouts when he realizes there’s no space left for Seokmin and him.
“Come here.” Soonyoung rolls over and grunts as Mingyu’s head falls on his shoulder.
“Is that even comfortable?” Seokmin whispers, trying to find an empty space to lay. He settles for resting his head on Jisoo’s thigh, even though he has to fold his legs to stay on the bed. He sighs as warm fingers soothe over his scalp, muffling the whines at how it’s unfair for him to steal Jisoo’s attention after not even feeding him (Mingyu and Seungkwan) or providing him warmth (Soonyoung and Chan). He knows they’re only joking when he feels a hand slide up to curl around his palm, squeezing thrice. I. Love. You.
“Stop whining. I’m tired,” Jisoo whispers, flailing a hand out until it’s caught by someone. He feels three squeezes around his hand and returns them, making sure to squeeze extra tight on the last one.
“Hyung, you don’t need to be so aggressive with your love,” Hansol chuckles, rubbing his thumb over Jisoo’s knuckles.
Jisoo only grins as he lays a kiss on Hansol’s wrist, watching the younger boy’s eyes flutter shut in contentment.
He slowly drifts to consciousness, not wanting the others to know he’s awake yet. Various thoughts fly through his mind, most of them centered around Chan, while a few skitter around Seungcheol.
Why did Soonyoung and the others forget about Chan? Why did Chan disappear? Is it really his fault? Why did Cheol collapse? Why did I collapse?
He searches his memories for answers and despairs at the swirl of unhelpful thoughts clouding his mind.
Okay. Focus on one thing at a time. He inhales slowly, then lets out a long breath. Chan. He said it’s his fault. That means he was actively avoiding the other members. He usually only does that if he feels guilty. So maybe he thinks Cheol or my collapse was his fault?
But there has to be something more. He knows the members are skirting around a bigger issue; he can recognize their attempts at hiding their worry.
And there’s something weird about this world. It’s almost like-
I’m in an alternate universe. Shit. His breaths come out in short huffs as his thoughts threaten to overwhelm him. Something glides over his forehead and moves down to cup his cheek.
His eyes snap open to meet a heated gaze. “Channie?”
“Sorry, did I wake you up?” Chan whispers, hiding his face in Jisoo’s neck.
“No,” Jisoo hums, bringing his free arm up to curl around Chan’s head.
A cautious silence blankets them. He can still feel the comforting weight of the other members surrounding him on all sides, but something about Chan’s anxious expression makes him nervous. Not to mention what happened after I first woke up.
“Chan,” Jisoo whispers again, coaxing Chan to lift his head. “There’s something I need to know.”
“Hm?” Chan hums.
Jisoo gently rubs his jaw, trying to help him relax. “You guys are hiding something from me.”
Chan bites his lip. “That’s not a question.”
“If I ask you what I want to know, will you answer my questions?”
Chan huffs. “Why are you being so formal, hyung? You know I can never hide anything from you.”
“Then why were you hiding from the others?” He hears the younger gasp and knows his initial assumptions are correct.
“I wasn’t trying to hide from them,” Chan hurriedly whispers. “It’s just- When you fainted, your powers stopped working so most of our powers suddenly kicked in and honestly- that was a mess .”
Powers? What powers? Don’t tell me I got dropped into a modern rip-off of My Hero Academia.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to ramble,” Chan apologizes.
“No, it’s fine. Keep going,” Jisoo prompts, rubbing Chan’s lower lip to release it from his teeth.
Chan narrows his eyes at him. “Who are you and what did you do to Jisoo hyung?”
Jisoo chuckles. “Was I that obvious?”
Chan tries to pull away but Jisoo curls his arm tighter around the back of Chan’s neck. The younger boy struggles for a few seconds before giving in and resting his head on Jisoo’s chest. He relaxes further as the older’s heartbeat plays a steady tempo against his ear.
“I’m still Jisoo, just... not your Jisoo.” He cringes at his own words, hoping Chan will understand what he wants to say.
He feels Chan nod. “It’s pretty common for soul swaps to happen after extreme events. I’m guessing something happened in your universe too?”
He’s surprised the younger one took it so easily. Guess he’s gone through a lot already. “Yeah. I fell off a bridge.”
A warm hand slides up to rest on his forehead. “You still feel a little warm.”
“Stop avoiding the subject,” Jisoo mutters, catching Chan’s hand. He intertwines their fingers and lets it fall on his hip. “You’re still hiding something from me.”
“I promise I’ll tell you when we’re alone,” Chan whispers, eyeing the sleeping boys around them.
Something tells Jisoo that Chan doesn’t yet feel fully comfortable around them and his heart clenches at the thought. “Okay. I’m gonna hold you to that.”
When he wakes up next, it’s to the savory scent of chicken noodle soup. He shifts until he’s sitting up against the headboard, smiling when Chan’s head slides down to fall in his lap.
“Hungry?” Mingyu grins knowingly as he sets a bowl of soup down on the bedside table.
“Yeah. Just give me a sec.” Jisoo gently lifts Chan’s head off his lap and settles him down on Soonyoung’s stomach. “I’ll be right back.” He ignores Mingyu’s frown as he walks out of his room in search of the bathroom.
“Kwannie, you promised you wouldn’t use our powers without our permission.” He hears Hansol’s unusually stern voice from the other room.
“It was an emergency, okay? He was in so much pain, Sol. I didn’t think . I couldn’t- I just- I’m sorry.”
A muffled sob passes through the door. Jisoo is suddenly hit with a strong urge to comfort- I need to help him- To embrace him and never let go-
“Hey, it’s okay. I didn’t mean to make you cry.” Hansol’s voice sounds equally shaken and Jisoo knows he must be hugging Seungkwan, attempting to absorb all of the other’s pain.
If only it were that easy. He walks past the door and finds one that’s slightly ajar. He cautiously slides it open further, stepping in when he notes his success.
By the time he makes it back into the living room, a few others have settled down on the couch.
“Glad to see you awake,” Jihoon nods tiredly at him. Soonyoung has his head resting on his shoulder while Chan’s head is hidden under Soonyoung’s arms. Seokmin cuddles up to Jihoon’s left, gently carding his fingers through Chan’s hair.
“You too,” Jisoo mutters, nodding back. He can hear Jun and Minghao conversing quietly in the kitchen. “Did Cheol wake up yet?”
Jihoon shakes his head. Soonyoung whines when the younger’s jaw hits his cheek, but quiets down when thin fingers come up to stroke his face. He leans into the touch, kissing Jihoon’s palm.
Jisoo half-expects Jihoon to pull away, but the younger boy only smiles, continuing to caress Soonyoung’s cheek.
“Why didn’t you say you’re hanging out in the living room?” Mingyu walks in with a rapidly cooling bowl of soup in his hands. “I’ll get you a new bowl.” He strides away before Jisoo can stop him.
Jisoo takes a moment to look around the room. Everything seems to be in its place, like someone had hastily cleaned before a visitor arrived. An organized mess, he remembers Mingyu saying when he begrudgingly compromised to Seokmin’s messy tendencies. A tower of books leans against both sides of the couch. Folded jackets lay scattered on the floor, sometimes with a wallet or bag next to them. Unopened bags of chips and other snacks are neatly stacked on the table. Jisoo can see Jihoon eyeing a box of cookies at the bottom of one pile.
He carefully grips the edge of the box and pulls it out with a quick tug, handing it to the surprised boy. “You owe me a cookie as payment.”
“Maybe after you eat lunch,” Jihoon smiles, munching on the animal-shaped cookies.
Jisoo huffs as he lifts Chan’s feet and plops down on the far end of the couch. He lowers the youngest’s calves onto his lap and massages them with practiced hands.
“Why does Channie get all your love?” Mingyu pouts, coming back with a reheated bowl of soup.
“Because he never asks for it,” Jisoo whispers, carefully receiving the bowl. He takes a large sip and winces when he burns his tongue.
“I forgot a spoon!” Mingyu runs to the kitchen and returns quickly with a small ladle. “We haven’t been doing the dishes so this is all we got,” he replies to Jisoo’s judging look.
Jisoo sighs exaggeratedly as he takes the ladle and scoops up the smallest amount of soup that he can. He can hear Soonyoung’s giggles as he continues to take miniscule bites.
“You’re never going to finish at this rate.” Warm hands sneak under his loose shirt to rest on his collarbones.
“Minghao. You want some?” Jisoo scoops up a full ladle and offers it to the younger boy.
“Sure,” Minghao leans down to take a small sip.
“How is it?” Mingyu looks more nervous than when he asked Jisoo the same question.
“It’s good. Really good.”
Mingyu brightens at the praise, going to the kitchen to prepare bowls for everyone. Minghao follows with a fond smile.
A different hand curls around his forehead. “You still feel a bit warm. Are your ribs still hurting?” Junhui mutters in his ear.
“A bit. Nothing a little rest won’t heal,” Jisoo replies, covering Junhui's hand with his own.
“Mmm,” Chan stirs in his sleep, eyes slowly fluttering open. He blinks a few times before sitting up, nearly knocking heads with Soonyoung. “Where-”
“We carried you into the living room,” Seokmin murmurs, rubbing his palm over Chan’s spine. The younger boy relaxes when he realizes he’s surrounded by familiar faces. “You didn’t sleep while waiting for Jisoo hyung to wake up, did you?”
Chan turns away as a blush blooms across his cheeks. Soonyoung lets him hide his face against his neck, while Jisoo continues rubbing his free hand up and down his leg.
“Sounds like we all needed some rest,” Jisoo whispers, looking up when he feels Jun squeeze his hand.
“It’s... been a long week,” Junhui whispers, kneeling until he’s level with Jisoo’s gaze. “I- We promised to wait until both of you woke up to tell you this, but-”
“Channie, you should get more sleep. Jisoo hyung too,” Soonyoung cuts him off, taking Jisoo’s empty bowl. Jisoo can’t tell if it was intentional, but he grips Junhui's hand tighter to let him know he’s still listening.
Junhui lets out a long breath, seemingly contemplating if he should continue or not. He catches Soonyoung’s apologetic look and shakes his head. “Let’s get you back to bed.” Junhui leads Jisoo to a different room, where a neatly made bed awaits him. From the pictures on the walls, he guesses this must be Mingyu and Wonwoo’s room. Junhui notices him staring at a photo of Wonwoo surrounded by flowers.
“He’s watching over Cheol hyung right now. Hoonie, Woo, and I have been watching over him in shifts. Minghao’s been helping too.”
What about Jeonghan? He’s been wanting to ask someone about the lack of Jeonghan, but he feels like asking now will cause too much of a scene. Chan already promised to explain everything to me later.
As if on cue, Chan sneaks into the room, ignoring Jun’s worried look as he cuddles up to Jisoo’s side. Jisoo slides an arm around Chan’s waist and pulls him closer.
“I’ll let you know if Cheol hyung wakes up,” Junhui whispers. He leans down to kiss Chan’s forehead and lays one on Jisoo’s cheek before walking out of the room.
Jisoo counts to ten while exhaling slowly. “So, it’s just the two of us now.”
“The others might join us soon,” Chan mutters, voice muffled against Jisoo’s shoulder.
“Then we can make it quick.” Jisoo feels a sigh against his neck. “You promised.”
“I know,” Chan sighs again. “It’s just...”
“It’s hard explaining everything to someone who accidentally swapped themselves into an alternate universe? Where everyone has powers but can’t seem to see you? I feel like I figured out some of our powers, yet I’m still trying to figure out yours.”
Chan sucks in a sharp breath. “That... Can I explain that last? I feel like there’s more important-”
“Right now, the most important thing to me is your happiness and safety. I can tell you’re anxious and I’m not sure if it’s because of me or the others,” Jisoo whispers seriously, rolling over to meet Chan’s gaze.
“I- It’s my fault you got hurt. And... it’s my fault Jeonghan hyung got taken.”
“Taken?” Jisoo sits up, wincing when his ribs ache. “What do you mean, taken?”
“I promised to tell you everything,” Chan states, tugging on Jisoo’s sleeve until he reluctantly lays down again. He curls a hand around the older's arm, almost like he’s trying to ground himself. “Can you promise you’ll hear my whole story before you jump to conclusions?”
Jisoo nods. “Anything for you.”
Chan smiles, hugging Jisoo’s arm to his chest. “We were on patrol- basically scouting the neighborhood for any crime. It was supposed to be a routine check, but our group- Jeonghan hyung, you, Wonwoo hyung, and I got ambushed.” Chan’s smile wavers at his next words. “They kept asking for Seungcheol hyung and tried to hold Wonwoo hyung hostage to get us to call him. We were able to save Wonwoo hyung, but-” Chan takes a deep breath, “one of them snuck up on us and tried to grab me. Jeonghan hyung pushed me out of the way and you caught me. I-Sorry for headbutting you.”
Jisoo kisses his nose, smiling when it scrunches adorably.
“We tried to save Jeonghan hyung, but seven against three isn’t really a fair fight,” Chan huffs, “and they disappeared right before our backup came.”
“Do you remember what their voices sounded like?”
Chan shakes his head.
“What about their heights? Or anything somewhat memorable?”
Chan shakes his head again, then furrows his eyebrows in thought. “There is one thing.”
“What is it?” Jisoo leans closer.
“One of them had a tattoo on his wrist. It looked like a smiley face and a sad face smushed together.”
“Schrodinger’s smiley,” Jisoo whispers, finally starting to get a clearer picture.
“Who’s smiley?” Chan leans closer until their noses are touching.
“I think I know who they are.”
“What do you mean?”
Jisoo smirks. “I know who took Jeonghan.”
Baby carat here! It’s only been a few months since I started stanning them but I’m already in super deep ^o^ I guess it was inevitable since I’ve loved their songs since forever (and they’re besties with MX <3)
I hope you liked this prequel! (I know I'm missing a few people in the tags (aka Seungcheol, Jeonghan & Wonwoo), but they'll def be appearing in the next few chapters and play an important role in this fic!)
If you didn't already guess, my current fave SVT song is "Home" so I wanted to write a fic based on the vibe/lyrics. Hope I did them justice!
Chapter 2: What is Home?
"Memories bring us closer together even from afar
If there's a wound in your heart, I'll take care of you
Your empty hands, I will complete"
I'm so excited for their comeback ahhh!! It'll be my first full comeback with them, so I'm ready to go all out! ^o^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Jisoo stares up at the ceiling, going over everything Chan told him.
The younger boy had fallen asleep a few minutes after he finished explaining everything. Jisoo doesn’t blame him. If he’d been forced to bear such burdens, he’s not sure he could have stayed silent for so long.
I was right. He was shouldering all the guilt on his own. It had taken an hour of reassurance and tears before Chan finally started to show less signs of anxiety.
Jisoo rubs Chan’s knuckles, unconsciously twirling the ring around his pinkie.
“Does everyone have rings in this universe too?”
Chan had brightened at his question. “You guys have them in your world?”
“They’re promise rings! And they also have a tracker in them!” Chan exclaimed, holding out his hand.
“Then why can’t we track Jeong-” Jisoo bit his lip, watching Chan’s smile fade. “Sorry-”
“The people who took him are using really strong GPS jammers. Even Wonwoo hyung couldn’t get past them.” Chan hid his face in the sheets.
Jisoo brushed back the younger’s bangs to kiss his forehead. “Don’t worry, we’ll find him.” He’s rewarded with Chan’s wobbly smile.
He wasn’t lying when he made that promise. No matter what universe he’s in, he knows Jeonghan means the world to him and everyone in their team.
Chan too. The look of pure guilt on Soonyoung’s face after realizing they’d forgotten about Chan hasn’t left Jisoo’s mind. After hearing Chan’s explanation, he’d felt a wave of second-hand guilt and frustration over a situation he couldn’t control. What type of power is ‘having people forget you exist when they stop looking at you’? How does that even work? He tightens his hold around the sleeping boy.
“Hyung, it’s okay. As long as-”
“It’s not okay. It’s obviously causing you a lot of pain,” Jisoo grabbed his hand and wrapped it in both of his. “You promised to tell me everything.”
“I-” Chan’s expression crumbled, like all his hastily built walls were starting to fall. “I just-” Tears escaped his eyes, trailing down to the pillow Jisoo had coaxed under his head. “I wish-” He let out a sob, melting into Jisoo’s embrace.
Jisoo rubs his cheek against Chan’s head, exhaling softly. Chan’s final words had caused more questions to swirl around his mind.
“It’s okay hyung. It’s okay as long as I’m with you.”
Jisoo closes his eyes. Does that mean he feels comfortable with me? Or maybe I have a power that counteracts his power? Ugh, I hate not knowing the answer. He’s tempted to wake Chan up, but he knows the younger deserves his sleep.
And something else is bothering me... The others have been really quiet. They’re definitely up to something. But what-
His eyes snap open. Of course. He quickly rolls out of bed, or tries to, before he remembers Chan’s tight grip on his arm. It takes him a few minutes to free his arm, but not without causing a frown to form on Chan’s sleeping face.
What do I do with you? Jisoo smiles fondly as he swings the younger’s arm over his shoulders and carefully pulls him onto his back. He walks out of the bedroom, half-expecting the others to still be in the living room.
“Regardless of whether we tell Jisoo hyung or not, I think we should wait until Seungcheol hyung wakes up.”
“But the note said we need to meet them tonight. If we don’t...”
Jisoo has never heard Seungkwan sound so scared. He can almost feel the unease coming from the corner bedroom. I knew it. They’re planning a rescue mission without me. And they used Chan as a distraction. He’s not sure if Chan knew what the others were doing, but he has a feeling Soonyoung must have hinted at something while he was distracted. They’ve always had some sort of telepathic connection that he’d been envious of, until the others mentioned he had the same thing going with Jeonghan, and sometimes Seungcheol.
Right, Seungcheol. If the others are planning something without us, then they can’t blame me if I make my own plans. He knows Seungcheol must not have woken up yet since no one has come to get him. Hmm, maybe I can get him to wake up. He grins as he makes his way to the other side of the living room. He supports Chan with one arm as he pulls a door open, grin widening when he takes in his successful guess.
Jisoo ignores Wonwoo’s half-hearted glare as he walks to the occupied bed. “I’m here to relieve you from duty.”
“You’re not supposed to-” Wonwoo stops when he sees Chan on his back, expression softening at the younger’s peaceful sleeping face.
“You look like you haven’t slept in days,” Jisoo whispers, leaning down to rub the dark circles under Wonwoo’s eyes. He massages his cheeks when Wonwoo leans into his touch.
Wonwoo sighs, closing his eyes. “It’s been a long week.”
Jisoo hums. “It’s not your fault.”
Wonwoo’s eyes fly open. Jisoo can see them glistening around the corners, like he’s trying his best to hold back a waterfall of emotions. “It’s not your fault,” he repeats, cupping his jaw.
Wonwoo shakes his head. “You were there, hyung. You had to save me. If I’d been stronger- If I hadn’t hesitated-”
“Chan told me you hurt your wrist. Did you get it wrapped?”
Wonwoo hides his left wrist behind his back. “I’m fine.”
“It’s going to get worse if you-”
“I said I’m fine!”
Jisoo smiles at the fire in his eyes. He continues to glide his fingers over Wonwoo’s face, feeling the fight slowly leave him. “Hey, it’s okay to feel frustrated. But guilt? No. That’ll only lead to more pain and I hate seeing any of you in pain,” Jisoo whispers, sliding his hand down Wonwoo’s neck.
Wonwoo meets Jisoo’s unwavering gaze. “I-” His eyebrows furrow when he takes a moment to look over the older’s slouched figure.
“What? I know I look like shit-”
“Who are you and what did you do to Jisoo hyung?” Wonwoo narrows his eyes at him, shaking his hand off his shoulder.
Jisoo laughs. “That’s the second time someone’s asked me that today.” He hoists Chan higher and kisses his chin.
“I’m serious. If you don’t tell me, I’ll have to get the others involved.” Wonwoo stands, already making his way to the door.
It’s moments like these where he both curses and appreciates Wonwoo’s perceptiveness.
“What gave me away?” He straightens his posture, tightening his grip on Chan’s thighs when he starts to slide off his back.
Wonwoo watches him with wary eyes. “You’re too... calm. Not that you’re not always calm, but I thought you’d be a lot more anxious when you remembered Jeonghan hyung got kidnapped and Seungcheol hyung won’t wake up. Wait, you do know Jeonghan hyung got-”
“Who do you think I am?” Jisoo whispers. He meets the younger’s gaze again and manages to hold it, despite the suspense making his eyebrows twitch.
“You’re... Jisoo hyung. I don’t think you’re anyone else,” Wonwoo whispers, taking a cautious step towards him.
“How do you know?” Jisoo murmurs. “What if I’m someone who’s pretending to be Jisoo?”
“Then you’re doing a really good job of it,” Wonwoo states. He continues to hold Jisoo’s gaze as he sits on the empty bed.
“How are you sure it’s me? Are your security measures strong enough that you can trust no one will infiltrate the team?” Jisoo asks.
Wonwoo smiles softly. “I’m the master of disguise, hyung. I’d be the first to figure out if someone was pretending to be you. And... we actually do have a code phrase but I have a feeling you won’t know it anyways.”
“Try me,” Jisoo challenges.
Wonwoo’s lips stretch into a thin line. “Say the name-”
“Seventeen,” Jisoo mutters on instinct. He also does the hand sign with one hand and watches Wonwoo glance down at the ring on his pinkie.
“We actually don’t have a code phrase. That was just the chant we do before each mission. There’s an easier way to check if you’re pretending to be Jisoo hyung.” Wonwoo walks back to his side.
Jisoo instinctively grips tighter when Wonwoo tries to help Chan off his back. “It’ll be better if we let him rest on a bed. For you and for Channie.” Jisoo relaxes as he lets Wonwoo slide Chan off and carry him to the empty bed. Wonwoo tucks Chan under the covers, handing him a plushie when the youngest flails his arms. They both can’t hold back a smile when Chan cuddles up to the dinosaur plushie.
“Can you hold out your hand for me?”
Jisoo swiftly holds his hand out for Wonwoo to take. Wonwoo gently curls his fingers around Jisoo’s palm, making sure their rings are touching.
It takes Jisoo a moment to realize what he’s doing, but when he does, he rubs his thumbs over the younger’s knuckles, trying to soothe his hand tremors.
A pastel pink and blue glow surrounds their hands. “Rose quartz and serenity,” Jisoo whispers, smiling as Wonwoo squeezes his palm.
“Our rings glow when they touch,” Wonwoo explains, reluctantly letting go of Jisoo’s hand.
“What if I stole Jisoo’s ring? Or even Jeonghan’s?” Jisoo continues to question the younger boy.
“You’re proving yourself to be Jisoo hyung without even trying,” Wonwoo mutters, sitting at the end of Seungcheol’s bed. “And it’s impossible to take off our rings. Myungho made them so that they perfectly fit each of our fingers and they’ll burn the hand of anyone else who tries to touch them.
“How’d he manage to do that?” Jisoo sits next to him, curiosity sparking in his eyes.
Wonwoo leans closer with a grin. “You should ask him yourself.”
Jisoo matches his grin. “Look at you, sassing me back. So, did I pass your test?”
Wonwoo gives him a confused look.
Jisoo laughs. “I’m kidding. You’re just too fun to tease.”
“Hyung,” Wonwoo whispers, resting his forehead on Jisoo’s shoulder. “How much do you know about this world?”
Jisoo’s gaze falls on the boy sleeping on the bed behind them. “Channie explained most of what happened to me. And I heard you guys are already making plans to save Jeonghan.”
“Did they tell you or...” Wonwoo trails off at Jisoo’s deadpan stare. “We were going to tell you when Cheol hyung woke up...”
“I have my doubts, but I’ll believe you this time,” Jisoo huffs. “How much do you know about their plan? Are you part of the rescue team?”
Wonwoo shakes his head. “Usually I’m part of the infiltration team, but they chose Channie, Jun-ah, and me to stay back this time.” Wonwoo chuckles at Jisoo’s questioning look. “Did Chan forget to tell you our powers?”
“I think I know a few of them,” Jisoo mutters. “Seungkwan can borrow powers, Hansol can calm people down, yours is related to disguise, Chan’s I would never wish on anyone, and mine is something like power reduction or negation?”
“And Jun's is empathy,” Wonwoo adds. “He can read people’s emotions and sometimes control them when he’s focused enough. He’s the only reason why we haven't gone crazy.”
“That means he’s been absorbing everyone’s negative emotions over the past few days. And Chan warned me about using your powers too much- That’s what happened to Cheol right? He called it... overdrive?”
Wonwoo bites his knuckle. “That’s... not good.”
“It’s never good when one person tries to bear the burden for the whole group.” Jisoo doesn’t miss the slight twitch of Chan’s nose before the younger boy rolls over to face the wall.
“That sounds like you’re planning something,” Wonwoo whispers. “Something that’ll make you a hypocrite.”
“Not if you-” Jisoo cradles his head as a sharp pain pierces his mind. He isn’t sure if it’s his own pain or he’s experiencing sympathy pains from someone else. Come to XXX street. The deserted green warehouse. You can’t miss it.
He’d recognize that voice in any universe.
The pain slowly dissipates, like a distant memory.
Jisoo opens his eyes to two concerned gazes peering into his face. He grabs each of their shoulders and pulls them closer. “I know where he is.”
Their eyes widen.
“Who? What? How?” Chan taps his feet impatiently.
“Jeonghan,” Jisoo whispers. “I know where they took him.”
“Why do you get to know everything?” Chan pouts, crossing his arms.
“Why were you pretending to be asleep?” Jisoo counters, patting the empty space next to him. “Wait, don’t answer. You were trying to stall me, right?”
“N-no! I was actually asleep until your rings started glowing.” Chan sits down and lets his head fall on Jisoo’s lap.
“Do you want to try, too?” Jisoo holds up his pinkie finger, like he’s ready to make a promise.
Chan huffs. “Hyung, I’m not falling for that. You’ll never trick me into making a promise ever again!”
Jisoo gives him an amused grin. “Oh, is that my power? To force people to keep their promises?”
“That would be a really powerful skill. Scary, but powerful,” Wonwoo mutters, sitting behind them.
“No! But it might as well be since we can never break a promise with you,” Chan whispers indignantly.
Jisoo smiles. “Then let's do this. I’ll make a promise with you if you make one with me.”
Chan hums in thought. “Depends on what it is.”
“Promise me you’ll always come back here,” Jisoo whispers. “You can take a break when you need one, but...”
“Stay with us,” Wonwoo completes.
“Where else would I go but home?” Chan giggles when Jisoo tickles his side. “Then hyung, you have to promise you’ll include me in your plan for saving Jeonghan hyung!”
“That’s an easy one,” Jisoo chuckles, holding up his pinkie. Chan links their fingers and shakes twice. Jisoo turns to Wonwoo, who’s been watching them with a gentle smile. “You too.” Jisoo shifts their glowing hands closer to Wonwoo.
“Promise me you won’t do anything reckless,” Wonwoo mutters, sliding his pinkie around theirs.
“Reckless? Me?” Jisoo feigns offense.
Chan’s bright laughter fills the room. “Anything involving you, Cheol hyung, and Hannie hyung always ends up being ingenious or a huge mess.”
Jisoo laughs along. “Well then, let's aim for the first option.”
I didn't want to end it the same way as the last chapter, so y'all were saved from another cliffhanger, lol. Thanks so much for reading and take care!
Chapter 3: Bring Him Home
"What can I do?
I have no home to be at ease"
Jeonghan wakes up to a prickly feeling covering his whole body. He knows without trying that they must have done something to him so that he can’t use his power. He tests the ropes around his arms and hisses when they dig into his wrists.
He jolts at the loud shout.
“Ki! Wonnie! He’s awake!” Loud footsteps echo closer. Dark eyes blink unevenly in front of his face. “Hmmm, if you weren’t already part of a team, we could have recruited you.”
Jeonghan scoffs. “Like I’d join a team that kidnaps people. What do you want with Coups, anyways?”
A tall figure appears in the doorway. Jeonghan guesses he must be Ki or Wonnie.
“It won’t matter what we tell him. They already agreed to meet our terms.”
“What terms?” Jeonghan continues his tactic. If I can annoy them enough to reveal more about themselves, I can relay the info back to Jisoo.
That’s only if they made it back to base safely. He bites his lip, feeling the sting of pain travel through his whole cheek. The tingle around his mind subsides a bit. Hmmm, that’s interesting.
“Don’t answer that either.” A different voice echoes throughout the storage area.
“Why not? I thought it doesn’t matter what you tell me.” Jeonghan grins at their matching scowls.
“Why did you kidnap a chatty one?”
“I didn’t know he talks a lot! I was going for the broody one!”
Jeonghan glowers at the thought of them aiming for Wonwoo. “So what, am I bait for Coups? Why are you trying to kidnap him?”
“We weren’t trying to kidnap anyone!” The person blinks unevenly again. “We just... have an issue he might be able to help us with.”
“And you didn’t think to ask nicely first?” Jeonghan huffs. He’s sure if they had asked Seungcheol nicely, their soft-hearted leader wouldn’t have been able to say no.
“We were desperate, okay?! If your leader lost his memories, I bet-”
“Hyung, you’re going to give us away.” A deep voice comes from behind him. Jeonghan strains his neck to see a person dressed in all black casually striding closer. “So, is it interrogation time?”
“Do we need to interrogate him? It’s not like he’s a villain and we’re trying to find his group.”
“We should have blackmail material in case he escapes.”
Jeonghan holds back a shiver at their dark tone, putting on a brave face. “Try me.”
“What are you doing? Oh, is he awake?” A softer voice joins the other four. This person’s eyes are more gentle as they peer into Jeonghan’s face. “We shouldn’t hurt him.”
“Are you afraid of making 12 enemies, hyung? Don’t we already have too many to count?”
Jeonghan shudders at the growl in the new person’s voice. Their posture demands attention as they cross their arms over their chest. The person deflates when they get a warning look from their elder. “Sorry hyung, I just wanted to try saying that.”
“You’ve been watching too many action films.”
“They’re better than your documentaries. Unless you want to fall asleep.”
Jeonghan takes their moment of distraction to bite his cheek. Hard . For a moment, he feels the fog around his mind lift and searches for a familiar bubble of resistance. He finds it not too far away and backtracks until he’s vaguely aware of his current location.
He pushes against the familiar force field, searching for any cracks or weak points. He finds one near the middle, must be where Chan headbutted him, and slips through with a short message. A bout of nausea makes him rest his forehead on his knees. He can feel the other’s pain through their fleeting connection and he yearns to soothe it away.
“Are you tired already? We haven’t even started yet.”
Jeonghan wishes again that he was anywhere but in the dusty warehouse surrounded by strangers. I want to go home. He lifts his head with a defiant glare. Cheolie, Jisoo. Bring me home.
There’s a weird buzz echoing through his mind, preventing him from resurfacing to the conscious world. Every time he tries to focus on a sound or touch, he gets pulled under into a deeper sleep.
Is this a dream? Is this reality? He tries to lift his arms and muscle his way out of the fog, but he’s too tired- maybe another five minutes won’t hurt-
Home. He needs to come home. A stray thought enters his mind. You need to bring him home.
Confusion washes over as he continues to struggle against the thick fog. Who? Where? How-
The mist partially clears from his mind. Hannie needs me. He fights harder against the heaviness of his eyelids and the overwhelming pull of gravity on his limbs. He can hear voices speaking around him and he’s motivated further when he hears his name.
They need me. I need to wake up.
He feels another tug on his mind and easily allows the person in. Jisoo can help you.
You need to save your energy for the fight.
Seungcheol tries to surround the other’s thoughts with comforting words and hold on to their connection, but it dissipates along with his uncertainty of the situation.
He knows Jeonghan’s power works in strange ways and is made even stranger by the way Jeonghan uses it.
‘Planting an idea in someone’s mind’ may sound like a simple power, but Hannie uses it to relay a deeper message. It helps that Seungcheol has had years to learn how to translate Jeonghan’s seemingly blunt commands into what he really wants to say.
You need to bring him home. I miss you.
Jisoo can help you. I trust you both.
You need to save your energy for the fight. Don’t get hurt. I’ll see you soon.
He knows how impatient Jeonghan can get, especially when it comes to receiving attention from Seungcheol or Jisoo. He longs for the familiar weight of the younger’s head on his shoulder, quiet reassurances and playful ideas whispered into his ear.
Don’t worry Hannie. We won’t make you wait much longer. He can already feel the mist starting to clear as something soft brushes over his forehead.
There are too many questions flying around the room, like dried corn being popped in the microwave.
“Everyone, calm down. I know we’re excited and nervous about Jisoo hyung waking up-”
“Why would we be nervous? We’re not nervous! Nope!” Seungkwan denies, his anxious smile betraying him. Seokmin wanders over to wrap an arm around his waist.
“We’re not going to get anywhere if you keep arguing,” Jihoon breathes out. He can feel Junhui's aura steadily starting to blanket everyone in the room. “Thanks Jun hyung.”
“No problem. Now, how are we going to save Jeonghan hyung?” Junhui's voice comes out a bit shaky. Soonyoung plops down next to him and starts massaging his shoulders. Minghao claims his other side and grabs his hands, rubbing the trembles out of his fingers.
“We should include Jisoo hyung in our plan,” Hansol says from the other side of the bed. He’d been lost in thought until Junhui had voiced his question.
“No, he’s still injured,” Seungkwan shakes his head. “He should stay back with Chan, Wonwoo hyung, and Jun hyung.”
“That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t at least tell him our plan,” Mingyu counters, grabbing Hansol’s wrist. He feels warm fingers glide over his knuckles in a silent show of thanks.
“If we tell him, he’s definitely going to want to go with us,” Jihoon argues. “It’s better if he stays here.”
“What if he realizes we’re planning something without him and decides to go out by himself? Or he takes Channie and Wonu with him?” Soonyoung adds. “Will you be able to stop him?”
Heavy silence blankets the room. Junhui's hands begin to shake again.
“Junnie hyung, it’s okay. We’re okay,” Minghao reassures, massaging the older’s palms. Soonyoung smooths his hands over Junhui's back in large, circular motions.
“Regardless of whether we tell Jisoo hyung or not, I think we should wait until Seungcheol hyung wakes up.” Jihoon sits in front of Junhui and leans his back against Junhui's legs. He can feel the occasional twitch of his knee.
“But the note said we need to meet them tonight,” Seungkwan whispers, “if we don’t...” he trails off, unable to voice the horrors of the letter.
“They have to be exaggerating. No one in their right mind would do that to a person.”
“Yeah, no one in their right mind. ”
“We came here to plan. Not argue over whether to tell Jisoo hyung or not,” Jihoon returns them to the main subject.
“Says the person who wants to keep him in the dark,” Soonyoung quips.
Jihoon glares at him.
It usually isn’t a surprise for their Vanguard and Recovery team leaders to be on opposing sides. It’s very unusual, though, for them to be this hostile.
“Can we please stop arguing? You’re stressing Jun hyung out.” Minghao pleads quietly. Junhui has a white-knuckled grip on Minghao’s hands. His eyes have nearly glazed over.
The room falls silent again.
“Is anyone hungry? One bowl of soup wasn’t enough.” Mingyu doesn’t wait for a reply, standing and making his way to the kitchen.
“I’ll help,” Seokmin mutters, bringing a restless Seungkwan with him.
“Hyung, do you want to make something together?” Minghao whispers, wincing when his hands get held even tighter.
“I- Okay.” Junhui slowly loosens his grip, keeping Minghao’s hands intertwined with his. He nods when he feels coherent enough to make the trip to the kitchen.
Soonyoung and Minghao guide Junhui away from the bedroom, leaving Jihoon sitting awkwardly on the floor. He debates joining them, before he notices Hansol staring up at a stain on the ceiling. He sits down next to the younger boy and settles against his side.
“I respect your decisions. I respect everyone’s opinions. I know everything you do comes from your heart. I admire your selflessness and consideration towards others. I wish I had half your intelligence and wit. But keeping secrets from Jisoo hyung has never ended well,” Hansol whispers.
Jihoon sighs. “When did you become so mature?” He cards his fingers through Hansol’s sleep-ruffled hair. “I swear, you boys are growing up too fast.”
“Sol has always been mature!” Seungkwan shouts proudly, skipping over with a bowl of cut fruits. He hands it to Jihoon then runs back to the kitchen to grab more.
“Want one?” Jihoon picks up an apple slice and holds it out for the other boy to eat. Hansol smiles as he takes a bite, watching Jihoon’s face flush pink when he accidentally licks the older’s fingers.
“Oops, sorry.” He doesn’t sound sorry at all. Hansol picks up a grape and offers it to Jihoon.
“You’re right,” Jihoon whispers.
“Things never end well when Jisoo hyung gets left out. Or Seungcheol and Jeonghan hyung, either.” Jihoon bites into the grape.
Hansol doesn’t let go. “So we’re going to tell Jisoo hyung?”
Jihoon swallows the piece he bit off. “We’ll tell him when he wakes up.”
Hansol grins, offering him the other half of the grape.
I wanted to write an interlude to give Jeonghan, Seungcheol, and the others the spotlight for a bit. (Mostly Jeonghan since I’ve been healed after listening to his solo song every night. Go listen to ‘Dream’ if you haven’t already!!)
Happy Birthday Jeonghan! May you have a wonderful year full of laughter and well-deserved rest!!
Chapter 4: Go Hard or Go Home
"Perhaps it could be a bit tricky
But I'll always be standing here for you
You can make yourself at home"
Longer chapter since I'm not sure when I'll be able to update next! Thank you all so much for your continued support and happy reading! ^o^
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
It only takes Wonwoo a few minutes for him to pinpoint the location.
“It’s an hour drive from here. Half if we take Gyu.”
Jisoo feels pride at Wonwoo's smirk. Kinda reminds me of Cheolie's shy smirk. Now, how do I wake him up? He squints at Seungcheol's furrowed eyebrows. A stray idea pops into his mind. Hmmm, what if I- He grins at the younger two’s curious looks as he leans down to kiss Seungcheol’s forehead.
He waits a few seconds, holding his breath.
Jisoo sighs. Do I need to kiss him on the li-
Seungcheol’s eyes flutter open, squinting at the face hovering above him. “Jisoo?”
“Cheol.” A breath of relief escapes him as he leans down to rest his forehead against the older’s own. He shares a few breaths with Seungcheol then shifts back to admire the other’s sleepy gaze.
“Where is everyone?” Seungcheol whispers, carefully sitting up. Jisoo moves a few pillows so he can sit more comfortably.
“They’re planning Jeonghan’s rescue,” Jisoo mutters, ignoring Wonwoo and Chan’s panicked looks.
“Did you forget-”
“No,” Seungcheol whispers, waving off the younger two’s concern. “I remember.”
Jisoo grabs his right hand and watches the swirl of pastel pink and blue cover their hands. “I have a plan and I need all three of your help for it to succeed. It’s risky and might not even work, but-”
“I’m in,” Seungcheol squeezes his palm.
“I didn’t even explain it yet. And the other two know already, but I’m not Jisoo.”
Seungcheol raises an eyebrow.
“I mean, I’m still Jisoo, but not your Jisoo. I know it sounds fake-”
“Hey, look at me.” Seungcheol cradles his cheek and coaxes Jisoo to meet his gaze. Jisoo hesitantly looks up.
“Even if I can’t read your memories, your eyes are expressive as ever,” Seungcheol chuckles.
Jisoo’s lips curl into a grin at his familiar chortle.
“Only you would be able to bottle up all your emotions and let them shoot out through your piercing gaze.”
“If looks could kill, we’d have no enemies,” Wonwoo hums in agreement.
“The quiet ones are always the most wise,” Chan nods along.
Jisoo chuckles. “I don’t know if those were compliments, but thank you.”
“They are,” Seungcheol continues, “and I trust the look in your eyes.”
“What do you see?” Jisoo whispers, feeling Seungcheol’s breath hit his lips.
“Concern. Frustration. Relief. Trust. Determination.”
“You forgot one,” Jisoo teases, bumping his nose against the older’s cheek.
Seungcheol’s ears bloom red under the younger boys’ amused laughter. “You-”
“Come on, you should get some food in you. And we need to act fast before the others beat us to our mission,” Jisoo states, hopping to his feet. He catches Seungcheol when he stumbles as he tries to stand. “Or maybe we should-”
“I’m not letting you leave me behind,” Seungcheol argues, shaking off Jisoo’s hand to stand on his own. “You might be from a different universe, but you’re still younger than me.” He grins cheekily.
“By four months,” Jisoo deadpans. “And I’m the one with the-”
“I got you soup! And a proper spoon this time!” Chan jogs back into the room with a steaming bowl and an ice cream scooper.
“Channie, that’s a-”
“Thanks,” Seungcheol mutters, receiving the bowl. He sits down on the bed and settles the bowl in his lap before realizing his spoon has been stolen.
Jisoo grins at him, taking a large scoop and holding it in front of Seungcheol’s mouth.
“Are you going to reject my love?” Jisoo fakes a pout.
“Seriously?” Seungcheol’s gaze flickers between Wonwoo and Chan’s expectant stares. He sighs. “Fine.”
“Okay, so I’ll explain my plan while you eat...”
Jeonghan tucks his knees into his chest, trying not to smirk. It had only taken a few choice words and taunts to pit his captors against each other. They seem really anxious about something. Did their leader really get their memories wiped?
“This discussion is going nowhere. For all we know, he could be lying about his members’ powers.” His captor glares at him.
“But what if he’s telling the truth? Their group is big enough to have six members with mind-based powers.”
“But can they help Shownu hyung?”
“Even if only one of them can help and he only manages to wake hyung up, then it’s better than nothing.”
“So we’re still going to exchange him,” the hooded figure juts his chin towards Jeonghan, “for another member? Even though we don’t know what his power is?”
Something dangerous ignites in the tallest person’s eyes. “Right. We’ve been wasting too much time talking about an exchange when the person right in front of us might be able to help.”
“I felt you trying to contact someone earlier,” the hooded figure cuts him off. “Either they have a mind-related power-”
“Or you do.”
Six pairs of eyes narrow on Jeonghan’s curled figure. He straightens his posture, trying to exude confidence, but a sharp pain in his head makes him wince. Shoot, did I overdo it earlier?
“It’s him. He has a mind-based power.” His captor points accusingly at him.
Jeonghan closes his eyes. Guys, I need you. Please hurry.
“Jun hyung, can you help me stir the soup while Seokminnie and I start making the noodles?” Mingyu asks, smiling towards him.
Junhui nods and shakily receives the ladle, swirling it around the large pot of chicken noodle soup. The repetitive motion helps to soothe his nerves while Soonyoung’s arms around his waist keep him grounded. Gentle fingertips draw random shapes along his neck. He recognizes one and turns to see Mingyu watching over him fondly.
“What are you making?” Junhui attempts to divert the attention away from himself.
“Just some japchae. And maybe ramyeon later,” Mingyu mutters, pulling away his hand to get back to work. Seokmin has already started piling ingredients on the counter for easier access.
“Can I request a spicy batch?” Minghao appears with a bottle of gochujang.
“But you don’t like... Oh.” Seokmin catches on and adds the bottle to their pile of ingredients. “Chef Mingyu, shall we start?” he sweeps his arms dramatically over the kitchen counter.
“We shall.” Mingyu goes along with his act, bowing politely.
Minghao giggles. “Do we get a live performance?”
Seokmin suddenly bursts into song, listing each item on the table before detailing every step Mingyu takes while preparing their dinner. “Cut the mushrooms~ Careful with the knife~ Cut the veggies~ In a heart if you like~”
Junhui hums along to the upbeat melody, continuing to stir the soup. He takes a deep breath in and closes his eyes to savor the delicious scent of ginger and chicken. “Is there ginger in here~?” He sings, watching Seokmin’s eyes light up at the potential duet.
“Yes~ It’s the secret ingredient~” Mingyu answers, chuckling as Seokmin joins him with the harmony.
“Smells good~” Junhui takes another deep breath in.
“I bet it’ll taste even better~” Soonyoung joins their trio.
“You already snuck a bite earlier~” Minghao giggles, hugging Soonyoung and Junhui's side. He sneaks a hand around Junhui's wrist and lifts the ladle to his mouth. Mingyu reaches out to protest, but hesitates when he sees Minghao blowing on the ladle half-filled with soup. Minghao lifts it towards Junhui's lips, smiling when the older boy takes a sip.
“Is it good~?”
“Heavenly~” Junhui hums.
“Don’t eat all of it~” Mingyu scolds, but doesn’t stop him when he takes another sip. He shares a smile with Seokmin and goes back to preparing the noodles.
“Should I start the ramyeon~?” Minghao offers, sliding his hands back to his side.
Junhui immediately grabs his wrist and pulls his arm back to where it was wrapped around their waists. “Don’t leave us~”
“I would never leave you guys~”
“Wow, is this a k-drama?” Mingyu chuckles, throwing the clear noodles into the boiling pot of water.
“Don’t you mean, ‘I’ll never leave you guys either~’? Seokmin sings, grinning at Mingyu’s blooming cheeks.
“Stay~” Soonyoung attempts to hit a high note, but his voice cracks at the top.
They burst into a fit of giggles and laughter, hugging each other closer as they sing away their worries.
He’s still a little surprised- Scratch that. He’s overwhelmed by how fast the other three agreed to his plan. Not to mention how quickly they accepted my ‘soul swap’ situation. Maybe-
“Does this happen often?” Jisoo asks, rummaging through Seungcheol’s drawer until he finds a black beanie. He hands it to Wonwoo and looks for a different one for himself.
“Does what happen often?” Chan replies with a question, getting his head stuck in a purple hoodie. Seungcheol helps him get his arms through the hole and grins when his head pops out from the top. “I forgot how good you look in purple.”
Chan blushes at the praise, pulling the hood over his face.
“You just like it when we wear your clothes,” Wonwoo feigns a scoff. He doesn’t miss Seungcheol’s smirk when he pulls the black beanie and matching oversized sweater on.
“Are you gonna answer my question, or do I need to join the compliment game-”
Seungcheol gasps loudly. “You think this is a game?”
“Wow, I wish you could meet my Seungcheol. He’s a lot less dramatic and actually answers my questions,” Jisoo rolls his eyes.
“You didn’t answer mine,” Chan whispers, searching through a drawer for pants.
“Sorry Channie. I meant to ask if soul swaps happen often here. Or if any of you guys have experienced something similar.”
“Nope,” Seungcheol pops the ‘p.’ “Or, not that I know of.”
“Then why are you so accepting? What if I’m really someone pretending to be Jisoo?”
“Out of all of us, I think it’d be the hardest to pretend to be you,” Seungcheol chortles. “I think if someone was trying to sneak into our base, they’d try to be Wonwoo. Or maybe Mingyu based on what their personality is like.”
Wonwoo nods. “If I were trying to sneak in, I’d disguise myself as Gyu. You just need to pretend to be oblivious when people start getting suspicious.”
“So he’s still clumsy in this universe?” Jisoo asks, laughing at Chan’s nod.
“We used to sleep two to a bed and he’d always nearly crush Wonwoo hyung or trip over him depending on how sleepy he was.”
“He almost tripped down the stairs at our last hideout so we had to find a new one,” Wonwoo mutters.
“More like you found us a new one and Myungho got us the funds,” Seungcheol laughs.
“Do I want to know the details?” Jisoo laughs along.
“Ask Myungho,” they answer in unison.
“Sounds like he has a lot of secrets,” Jisoo smirks when he finds a navy beanie and matching hoodie.
“Not so much secrets, but interesting stories. He’s our main informant and bread giver.”
“What does he do, own an art business?” Jisoo covers his slightly damp hair with the beanie and pulls on the hoodie. He doesn’t realize the others are staring at him until he tugs down the sleeves to cover his palms. “What?”
“Are all Jisoo’s scarily perceptive?” Seungcheol questions.
Jisoo can’t tell if he’s joking. “Probably? Unless there’s a version of me that hates listening to people. Which there probably is, but...” he trails off when he feels a familiar weight in the back of his mind. Jeonghan? The cloud around his thoughts disappear immediately after, leaving him feeling slightly disoriented. He meets Seungcheol's wide eyes and tilts his head. Did you feel that?
Seungcheol nods, walking closer to tug Jisoo into a loose side hug. He notices Chan’s wistful look and pulls him in too. “If you’re still here after we save Jeonghan, we’re having a mystery movie night.”
“We need to watch an actual suspense film instead of the knock-off horror mystery movies Soonyoung chooses.” Wonwoo strides closer to complete the hug.
Jisoo allows himself a moment to fully relax into their embrace. He can still feel a twinge of worry in them, especially from Seungcheol. “What’s on your minds?”
Seungcheol squeezes his hip. “I’m sorry for being out for so long. I know I panicked when I found out Hannie was taken, but I promise I’ll be a better leader and-”
Jisoo cuts him off with a kiss to his cheek. “You’re already the best leader. And don’t apologize, or I’ll have to-”
Seungcheol brushes his lips along Jisoo’s jaw, grinning at the younger’s shiver. “Thank you.”
“For being... you.”
“I think he means thank you for taking care of us so well,” Wonwoo whispers, shyly rubbing his cheek against Jisoo’s back.
“We’d be a lot more panicked if you weren’t here,” Chan nods against his shoulder.
“Love you too,” Jisoo whispers. He feels their arms tighten around him.
A loud shout makes them jump. Seungcheol instinctively hugs the younger three closer to his chest, spinning so that they can’t be seen from the door.
“They’re gone!” Seungkwan’s panicked yell filters through the walls.
A flurry of activity can be heard outside.
Jisoo is surprised they don’t immediately check the room they’re in. I guess they thought Wonwoo would tell them if anything happened. The same thought must have crossed Wonwoo’s mind, because he hides his face against Jisoo’s back, letting out a long sigh.
“Time for part 2 of Jisoo hyung’s plan?” Chan asks, preening under Seungcheol’s gentle kisses.
Jisoo nods. “Part 2 is underway.”
Jisoo strides out with confidence, watching everyone’s expressions flicker between surprise and relief before settling on different levels of guilt. A few of them are in the kitchen, most likely preparing an early dinner. Wonwoo is half-hidden behind him and Jisoo can see him trying his best to avoid everyone’s questioning stares.
“You’re awake!” Junhui jogs closer to wrap his arms around Seungcheol’s neck. “You’re finally awake.” He sniffles quietly.
“Sorry for worrying you guys,” Seungcheol returns the hug, pressing a gentle kiss to his cheek.
A tense silence threatens to fall over them, but Jisoo is encouraged by Chan’s firm grip on his wrist. “I know you’re planning to save Jeonghan. I have a plan, too.”
“But hyung, you’re injured. And Seungcheol hyung too, you just woke up-”
“I know where Jeonghan was taken and who took him,” Jisoo reveals, enjoying the loud gasps around the room.
“How?” Mingyu strides past him to curl an arm around Wonwoo’s waist. Wonwoo rests his head on his shoulder. “I mean, I can guess how you found out where, but who? I don’t even think Jeonghan hyung knows who.”
“I’m not from this universe.”
Another round of surprise fills the room. “Then where...”
“Where I’m from, we’re idols. We sing, dance, and perform on-stage. No one has powers. There are no villains, heroes, or vigilantes.” Jisoo feels Chan squeeze his wrist. “Chan was able to clue me in on who the kidnappers are. In my world, we’re actually best friends.”
“And how can we trust you?” Seungkwan glares, hugging Hansol’s arm.
“I trust him,” Chan states, looking around the room. He meets Seungkwan’s gaze and glares back challengingly.
“Me too,” Wonwoo whispers, closing his eyes as Mingyu fixes his beanie.
“Me three,” Seungcheol nods against Junhui's shoulder.
“I trust him if they do,” Minghao nods toward each of them, returning Chan’s thankful smile.
“You checked?” Jihoon asks, holding out his ring. He lets Soonyoung playfully fist bump him and his lips twitch at the burst of color from their connected rings.
Wonwoo nods. “We checked. Three times, actually.”
Jihoon continues to hold out his curled fist. Jisoo steps closer while Chan lets go to curl himself around Soonyoung’s side. Soonyoung pulls the younger down on the couch with him, letting Chan settle beside him.
Jisoo meets Jihoon in the middle of the living room. Their rings connect, bursting with a cloud of soft blues and pinks.
“Like cotton candy,” Hansol whispers.
“And now I’m hungry again,” Mingyu pouts.
Jisoo watches the livelihood return to the room as they laugh at the loud growl of Mingyu’s stomach.
Seokmin and Soonyoung playfully fight over cuddle privileges with the maknae. Minghao uses their moment of distraction to steal Chan from their laps, smirking when the youngest snuggles up to him. Seungcheol and Wonwoo get dragged to the kitchen by Junhui and Mingyu. Seungkwan and Hansol join Minghao on the couch, sandwiching him in warmth. Hansol runs gentle fingers over Chan’s back, occasionally ruffling his hair. Seungkwan hums a nostalgic tune, resting his head on Minghao’s shoulder.
“You said you had a plan, hyung?”
Jisoo turns to see Jihoon looking at him with renewed purpose. “I do. And it includes all of you.”
The excitement dies down for a moment. Jisoo sweeps his gaze over everyone, smiling at the resolve in their eyes.
“I call dibs on driving!” Soonyoung exclaims, falling back onto the couch. Hansol lets out a quiet oof when the older lands half in his lap, but curls an arm around his waist.
“Last time you drove, we almost hit a truck,” Minghao giggles.
“That’s because they ran a red light!”
“And who was the one who told Mingyu to change the light?” Seungkwan scoffs.
“I’ll drive this time,” Jihoon deadpans.
“But hyung... you don’t have a license.”
“It’s better than having one of you reckless drivers hit a tree.”
Several loud protests fly through the room.
Jisoo soaks in their comfortable banter, returning Jihoon's comforting smile.
“Why does Ji hyung get to drive?”
Jisoo can see Sounyoung’s pout in the rearview mirror.
“Because he knows where we’re going,” Wonwoo mutters. He ignores Mingyu’s worried look as he hides a yawn behind his hand.
“I know where-”
“Mingyu, we’re going to hit a cross section soon.” Seungcheol’s words make everyone shift into mission mode. Jisoo reigns in his power, feeling the edges of the invisible force field wind around his body.
“Stoplight, red. Stoplight, green.” Mingyu captions his actions, grinning when the stoplights abruptly change colors.
“Have I ever told you how cool your power is?”
Mingyu’s canines appear at the praise.
“Next light is in thirty seconds. Soonie, are you done with the cameras?” Seungcheol turns around in the passenger seat. He chuckles at Mingyu’s annoyed pout as a tiny camera nearly crawls into his mouth. The devices had been made by the combined efforts of Wonwoo, Minghao, and Hansol; tiny cameras camouflaged as spiders.
“Have I ever told you how scary your power is?”
“Like you’re one to talk,” Minghao’s voice fills their ears. “Are we still connected, Gyu?”
“Yeah. Their jammers probably only work within the warehouse,” Mingyu replies. He giggles when a camera crawls across his forehead.
“Do you think they’ll affect our babies?” Soonyoung worries, cradling the rest of the devices in his hands.
“I hope not. It’ll be a lot harder navigating the place without intel. Hao, what’s our update on activity around the perimeter?”
Quiet bickering can be heard on the other line. “No one’s outside. I'm guessing they have a few guards posted inside though,” Minghao relays. And much quieter, “Stop it guys, they’re almost at the warehouse.”
The bickering stops. “Kwannie thinks I’m not smart enough to be a handler,” Chan’s dejected voice makes Jisoo grip the steering wheel tighter.
“I didn’t say that! I’m just... worried,” Seungkwan corrects.
“That I’ll mess up the mission?”
“No! I’m worried you’ll take the blame for something that’s not your fault!”
Jisoo knows Seungkwan must have engulfed Chan in a crushing hug when he hears Chan’s surprised yelp.
“Chan, I trust you. Seungkwan and Myungho too,” Jisoo states confidently. “I trust all of you.”
“Me too!” Seokmin’s shout makes a few of them wince. “Oops, I didn’t realize that was so loud.”
“Any updates on your end?” Seungcheol asks the other car.
“The animals are getting more restless as we drive closer. It sounds like the warehouse used to dump toxic chemicals in the river before it got shut down. The squirrels are afraid they’re going to reopen the factory,” Seokmin relays the info.
“Yeah, it’s pretty tense around here,” Junhui adds. “People are either really skittish or indifferent to everything.”
“Not the best neighborhood. Noted,” Jisoo whispers under his breath.
“Be careful,” Jihoon warns. “Hansol said there might be other vigilante groups based in the area.”
“He’s right! I’m pretty sure Twice is based there,” Seungkwan comments.
“Of course you’d know,” Jisoo chuckles. “Are the cameras still working?”
“Yup! And the warehouse is only two blocks away. There’s an empty dirt patch under the bridge. You can park the car there,” Chan’s voice sounds muffled.
“Are you eating something?”
“Kwannie stuffed my mouth with shortbread cookies. They’re really dr- ah-” Chan lets out a cough.
“Drink this.” Minghao’s worry can be heard through their earpiece.
“He won’t stop complimenting me. If I knew he acts like this when I show him love, I would’ve never said anything!” Seungkwan complains.
“I don’t know if you love or hate each other,” Seungcheol chuckles.
“I hate him.”
“Then why are you hugging?”
“Hao Hao, stop exposing them!”
“So we’re worried about not having access to the cameras, but what about our earpieces?” Jihoon changes the subject.
No one answers.
“You did think about that before going, right?”
Jisoo sighs. “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice until we’re already inside the building.”
“You were going to go in without comms?!” Seungkwan screeches.
“Hyung, that’s too dangerous-”
“It’s the only way to save Jeonghan,” Jisoo justifies. “We don’t have time to argue.” He already has the car parked in the previously mentioned dirt patch. The other four hastily follow him out of the car.
“There has to be a safer way-”
“Soonie, are the cameras ready?”
Soonyoung nods and crouches down to release the spider cameras.
Jisoo catches Seungcheol’s worried gaze. “Cheol, if anything happens-” He’s cut off by gentle lips covering his nose. It scrunches on reflex, earning him a soft chortle.
“We’re all getting out of this. Together.” Seungcheol reaffirms, squeezing him once before reluctantly letting go. Soonyoung also jumps forward to give him a quick hug and a peck on both cheeks.
“Go bring our angel back to us,” Seungcheol mutters, holding out his fist. Jisoo bumps them together, watching their rings bring light to the evening shadows.
“I will.” Jisoo waits until Soonyoung lets go of Wonwoo and Mingyu before motioning them to follow him toward the building.
“Can you still hear me?” Minghao’s voice crackles in their ears.
“Yeah, but you’re already starting to cut out.” Mingyu hooks his elbow around Wonwoo’s arm and lets himself be dragged along the eroding wall.
“Are the cameras in position?”
“Yeah.” Soonyoung’s breath hitches at something he sees. “I don’t know if I should be worried or laughing my ass off.”
“What happened?” Jisoo tries to stay calm as he motions toward the thick metal lock keeping them away from Jeonghan.
“Looks like Jeonghan hyung pissed off his captors. But he doesn’t look injured.”
A collective sigh leaves the group.
“He’s being kept in the farthest room. It’s a storage room, so it has no windows.”
Mingyu concentrates on the lock, grinning when the surface turns transparent. He lets Wonwoo step closer to work on opening it, giving him a look of admiration when a soft click signals his success.
“We’re in.” Jisoo goes to open the door, but finds Mingyu staring at them. “Gyu, you need to go back to Coups and Hosh-”
“I’m going in with you. Especially if our comms might get blocked.” Mingyu refuses to let go of Wonwoo’s arm.
“Gyu, we don’t have time for this,” Wonwoo tries to pull his arm away. Mingyu’s strength holds fast. Wonwoo sighs, rocking forward on his toes.
Jisoo wishes he’d had a camera to take a snapshot of Mingyu’s surprise when Wonwoo’s lips touch his forehead.
“Don’t worry, our babies got a pic.” Soonyoung seemingly reads his mind.
“Let’s go.” Wonwoo tugs his scarf back over his mouth and pulls his hood down to hide his blush. He grabs Jisoo’s wrist and quickly leads him through the door.
“That was cute,” Jisoo teases, enjoying the disgruntled huff from the younger boy. “Was that your first kiss?”
“Hyung, you don’t remember- Oh wait, you don’t,” Wonwoo teases back.
“If he doesn’t remember, then it didn’t happen!” Soonyoung exclaims. “Does that mean I’m your first?”
“Sorry Soonie. I shared mine with someone before you.”
“I saw Wonu hyung giving Sol a forehead kiss in the kitchen!” Seungkwan exclaims.
Jisoo huffs. What is this, a high school gossip group? He sneaks around a stack of boxes with Wonwoo following close behind.
“Why do you sound so jealous?”
Seungkwan scoffs. “I’ll have you know, Sol and I-”
“Forehead kisses don’t count!” Soonyoung argues.
“Sorry Sollie, but you’re not the one either,” Wonwoo chuckles.
“Yeah, I know. It’s Jihoon hyung, right?” Hansol grins.
“Is this after or before the museum incident? Because if it’s after, then I’m his first!” Seokmin shouts happily.
“Before.” Jihoon chuckles at everyone’s loud protests.
Jisoo hears a commotion from the other side of the room. “We’re going with Plan B,” he whispers to Wonwoo. “Avoid all contact. Just save Hannie and get out.”
Wonwoo nods. “Does Soonie know what’s on the other side of this room?”
“I’ll ask.” Jisoo taps his ear. “Seems like our comms are okay. Are the cameras still on?”
He can hear the pout in Soonyoung’s voice. “Do you know what caused that sound earlier?”
“A few wooden planks fell over,” Soonyoung mutters. “At least I’m 100% sure Channie’s first kiss was mine.”
“Sorry hyung,” Chan laughs. “I’m pretty sure mine was from Hao hyung.”
“Nose and hand kisses don’t count either!” Soonyoung adds to the list.
“Hao Hao, when was this? Was it before the museum incident?” Junhui asks.
“After,” Minghao giggles. “Don’t worry Junnie hyung, my first kiss is safe with you.”
“Guys, we shouldn’t be arguing over first kisses while Jisoo and Wonwoo risk their lives for us,” Seungcheol murmurs.
“Then who was your first kiss? Let me guess, was it Jeonghan hyung?” Seungkwan teases.
“Was it Jihoon hyung? Is everyone’s first kiss Jihoon hyung?”
“You’re never going to guess-”
A tempo-less tapping sound echoes through the large area. Jisoo pulls Wonwoo behind him as they pass by the wooden planks that fell earlier.
“Guys, are any of you watching the cameras? I think they’re looping the feed.”
“Shit.” Jisoo hears scrambling from Soonyoung’s end. “Channie’s right. They’re-”
“Looks like a few mice snuck in.”
Jisoo turns and meets a predatory gaze.
“Two against two seems fair, doesn’t it?”
Well shit. Jisoo had hoped things wouldn’t end up like this. Guess it’s time for Plan C.
Idk what it is about forehead/nose/cheek kisses, but I feel like they’re so much softer/intimate than a kiss on the lips? So yeah you can read their relationship as platonic or romantic, but I’m hoping you can feel the found family vibes <3
Also, I headcanon that everyone likes giving/getting different types of kisses and Soonyoung likes giving cheek rubs/kisses the most. ^o^
Who's hyped about their comeback teasers? (I can't stop admiring their pics and rewatching their videos ahhh)
Chapter 5: Home Sweet Home
"I don't want to let you go like this
Don't want to stay heartbroken, afraid
I'm where you should be
You're where I should be"
"This is bad. Really bad,” Soonyoung bites his lip while he concentrates on moving his spider cams out of range of their scramblers.
“Remind me why we let Soonie hyung be in charge of tech,” Minghao laments.
“Jun and I are almost at the side entrance. Let us know when to head in,” Jihoon mutters.
“What happened? Can you see anything?” Mingyu grabs Seungcheol’s offered hand and squeezes tightly.
“The cameras are back up!” Soonyoung and Chan shout in unison.
Soonyoung immediately pales.
“They’re- Oh-” Chan’s voice suddenly cuts out.
“Channie? Hao, Kwannie, are you guys okay over there?”
“Code red. They got caught.” All playfulness leaves Soonyoung’s tone. “Gyu, get ready to go in. Cheol hyung-”
“We’re ready,” Seungcheol states, tugging on Mingyu’s hand.
“Wait, hyung!” Chan’s shout makes them flinch. “Jisoo hyung’s trying to tell us something!”
Soonyoung’s eyebrows furrow. A wicked grin slowly sprouts across his lips. “He’s a genius.”
“Tell us something we don’t know,” Jihoon lets out a long breath. “What’s he up to, now?”
“They’re being taken directly to Jeonghan hyung. I’m pretty sure Jisoo hyung had this planned all along,” Chan grins.
“I don’t think so. I think he just has a ridiculous amount of back-up plans,” Seungcheol replies fondly.
“So is it still a code red or are we just gonna let them be taken?” Seokmin joins.
“I trust Jisoo hyung,” Hansol whispers. “Wonwoo hyung, too.”
“We just got in from the side. There was no one guarding the door,” Junhui whispers.
“Be careful. Looks like they have traps set up in each room,” Soonyoung replies. “There’s one a few meters ahead. Go around the boxes clockwise or you’ll cause a cardboard avalanche.”
Jihoon and Junhui carefully make their way around the pile of boxes, following Soonyoung’s advice.
“Soonie, do you need help with anything?” Seungcheol asks, patting Mingyu’s head when he lays it on his shoulder.
“Be ready for backup. I trust Ji hyung and Wonu too, but...”
“Anything can happen,” Seungcheol finishes for him.
“How about us? What can we do?” Seokmin asks.
“Be ready for backup too. Junnie, Hoonie, status check?”
“All clear. We’re making our way down a hallway.
"It’s kinda dark,” Junhui whispers.
“Just got eyes on you two. Make a left at the end and take cover in the closest room. I’ll wait for Ji hyung’s signal before we move forward.”
“I hate waiting,” Minghao whispers.
“You’re lucky because you can see what’s going on. Soonie hyung, any chance you can connect your camera feed to one of our phones?” Seokmin asks.
“Wait a sec.” Soonyoung closes his eyes. “Done.”
“Don’t push yourself,” Hansol whispers. “We don’t- Woah-”
“I wish we brought popcorn. This is better than any detective movie I’ve ever seen.”
Jisoo ducks under another punch, letting his reflexes defend for him. I wonder if we have mandatory self defense training. Wouldn’t be surprised if Cheol or even Soonie makes us train everyday. He blocks a kick aimed at Wonwoo and wordlessly switches opponents with him.
The hooded figure whispers something under his breath, crouching close to the ground. Jisoo braces himself for an attack... but nothing happens.
His opponent finally reveals his face. Jisoo recognizes the wide-eyed look of shock before the other boy glares at him.
“Sorry Changkyun, but powers don’t work on me.” Jisoo hears the other take a sharp breath as he jumps back a few meters.
“The bigger they are, the harder they fall,” Changkyun whispers, spreading his arms out like he’s ready to catch an unconscious person.
Jisoo continues to grin as he takes a step closer. “I can also understand English. I would suggest-”
“Stand down or you don’t want to know what we’ll do to your team member,” a voice growls threateningly as he clutches his bruised chest.
Jisoo and Wonwoo drop their arms, Jisoo standing protectively in front of a panting Wonwoo. “You can’t-”
“You read our letter, didn’t you?”
Jisoo frowns. He guesses Jooheon must be talking about the ransom letter they sent his team members while he was still asleep.
Jisoo meets Wonwoo’s seemingly emotionless gaze and catches a hint of fear. He nods once, watching the fear flicker away into determination.
They let them tie their wrists behind their backs. He keeps a careful eye on Wonwoo while they’re led further into the warehouse.
“Don’t try anything or I can’t promise the safety of your team member.”
“We won’t,” Jisoo assures. He hears the excited shout of Soonyoung announcing the cameras are back on and subtly twists his fingers into different shapes, trusting the others to get his message.
“Hey, stop moving!” His shoulder gets shoved as they finally make it into the storage room.
Jeonghan’s eyes widen when they meet Jisoo’s. The younger boy smiles reassuringly as he walks closer to block Jeonghan from the others’ views. Wonwoo stands guard next to Jeonghan’s huddled form.
“Ji, what are you-”
“No talking and stay a meter apart. We have a few conditions we want to discuss.”
Jisoo ignores the husky voice, kneeling in front of Jeonghan. “Hannie, do you trust me?”
“Hey, I said no talking!”
Jeonghan nods. “With my life.”
Jisoo smiles, standing to his full height. “I have a few conditions, too.”
“We’ll be doing the talking.” Changkyun huffs.
“Changkyun.” Jisoo smirks when Changkyun’s whole body stiffens. Did he think what happened earlier was a fluke? “Minhyuk hyung.” He nods toward the person standing in front of him. “I know Monsta X wouldn’t kidnap someone without good reason. You’re all registered heroes, are you not?”
“Who? We don’t know who you’re talking about.” Jooheon feigns innocence.
“Jooheon,” Jisoo nods toward him. “Kihyun hyung,” he nods toward the person standing in the back watching everything with a calculating gaze.
“We’re not going to be threatened by you,” Kihyun steps forward. “We’ve gone too far to back out now.”
“Where’s Hyunwoo hyung?” Jisoo doesn’t miss the worried flicker in their eyes. “Did something happen to his memory?”
“Who the hell are you?” Jooheon stomps forward to grab Jisoo’s hood and throw it off. “And what do you want from us?”
“That should be my question,” Jisoo counters. “If you need something from us, then it’s only right that we get something back of equal value.”
“And what do you want?” Hoseok glares.
“I want you to untie my friends and escort them out of the warehouse. And don’t try to cross me. I’ll know if any funny business happens in between.”
“Hannie, I’ve got this. Tell everyone I love them and I’ll be back soon.” Jisoo crouches down again to bring their foreheads together.
“Why does it sound like you’re going to disappear forever?” Jeonghan whispers.
“I won’t. Now go before they change their mind.” Jisoo sneaks a kiss to his ear.
Jeonghan feels something slip inside and relaxes when familiar voices crackle in his ear. He nods toward Jisoo then stands on wobbly legs, making his way to Wonwoo’s side.
“We haven’t agreed to release you yet.”
“Hyungwon hyung,” Jisoo greets. “We’re actually friends in my universe. I wouldn’t mind if we became friends in this one too.”
“Now I want to visit Jisoo hyung’s universe. Do you think all the vigilante teams are actually idol groups? Oooh I want to meet Twice!” Seungkwan exclaims.
Jisoo relaxes at the younger’s cheerful voice. Sounds like things are going well on their end.
“Maybe. But you could still meet them here.”
“They’ll probably think we’re villains and try to take us out.”
“Yeah, it won’t be the first time that’s happened.”
“Stop talking or we’re going to miss the most important part,” Jihoon hisses, instantly quieting the others.
“Take those two out and release them,” Hoseok motions toward Jeonghan and Wonwoo. “We should focus on one person at a time.”
“But they know our names. If we let them go-”
“We promise not to disclose any personal information if you let them go. What happens in this warehouse will stay here,” Jisoo reassures.
“I still don’t trust you,” Changkyun glares at him. His gaze flickers to the open doorway where Kihyun and Jooheon are leading Jeonghan and Wonwoo out.
“I don’t either, but I’m probably your only chance at getting Hyunwoo hyung’s memories back.”
“What do you mean?” Minhyuk crouches down until their gazes are level. “What do you know?”
“How did he lose his memories? Was it power-related?” Jisoo replies with his own questions.
The distant sound of a slamming door reverberates through the windowless room.
“A villain wiped his memories,” Hoseok breaks the silence. “I think the shock put him in a coma.”
I thought so. Then my plan wasn’t for naught.
“I can help.”
“I’ll tell you after I’ve confirmed my friends are safe.” Jisoo sits cross-legged on the ground.
“Well we aren’t that patient-”
“I have eyes on Hannie hyung and Wonu! Never thought I’d say this, but Wonu's piggy-backing hyung to our car. Doesn’t look like anyone’s following them,” Soonyoung exclaims. Jisoo can hear the relief in his voice.
“That was quick.” Jisoo rises to his feet. “Sounds like you met my conditions. Now-”
The warehouse walls shudder as a loud creaking sound fills the storage room.
“What happened? Ki, Honey-”
“Hyung, get out of there! The building’s falling apart!” Soonyoung shouts. “Jun, Hoonie, go in for backup!”
“Jun and I are almost to the storage room,” Jihoon updates.
“Don’t.” Jisoo sprints across the room, following Hoseok’s retreating back. He has a vague idea of where the older one is heading. He’s led through a long hallway that ends in an unexpectedly cozy room. Bingo.
Hoseok turns at his footsteps. “What are you doing here?”
“I don’t have much time to explain. If you untie my hands, I might be able to undo the villain’s power.”
“Will Hyunwoo hyung get his memories back?” Hoseok’s eyes fill with hope as they fall on Hyunwoo’s motionless face.
Jisoo’s glad Hoseok is the one standing in front of him. He’s always been a trusting hyung. And I won’t betray his trust now. “I’ll try my best.”
Hoseok hesitates. Then he grabs a knife and slices the rope around Jisoo’s wrists.
Jisoo ignores Hoseok’s protective look as he places both hands on Hyunwoo’s forehead. He can feel a swirl of energy lingering around his mind. “I’ve never done this before-”
“We tried everything,” Hoseok whispers. “Trying to get your leader was our last resort. I’ll be happy if he just wakes up.”
“I’ll try my best,” Jisoo repeats, closing his eyes.
“This hallway is so creepy,” Junhui mutters, keeping both hands on the wall as they make their way toward the storage room.
Jihoon doesn’t answer, grabbing Jun’s trembling hand and squeezing tightly.
Junhui squeezes back. “Hey Hoonie?”
“I don’t know if Haohao meant for our rings to be used like this but-”
“Jun, you’re rambling.”
“We could use them as a lamp? Like a...flashlight?” Junhui offers his right hand.
“That’s actually pretty smart. Okay.” Jihoon lets go of his hand and grabs his other one, smiling when a soft glow illuminates the room.
They immediately move closer when they notice another presence in the room.
“Wow, we have so many visitors today.”
Junhui can feel the anxiety and annoyance dripping from their words. He tries to smooth over their emotions, covering the person in a blanket of calm. He feels them relax and nods toward Jihoon.
Jihoon quickly jumps forward, tapping the tall stranger on their neck. The person's face scrunches in confusion.
“Let’s go.” Jihoon pulls Junhui down the hallway.
“What’s happening? Where did Jisoo hyung go? Hey Soonie hyung-”
“Give me a sec! Okay, I have visuals on Woo and Gyu. Woah, I’ve never seen them look so serious.”
“Do you still have eyes on Jisoo hyung? Or is he heading out?” Hansol whispers.
“Not yet. He ran after one of them and I’m not sure where he went.”
“How about Junnie and Hoonie hyung?” Chan asks worriedly.
“Hurry up, hyung! Or all of us are going in!” Seokmin shouts.
“What’s your ETA? The building looks like it could collapse any second!”
“I have eyes on Jisoo hyung! He’s in the room at the far corner!”
“Guys, did you-”
“We’re on it.”
“Honey hyung. Where’d Hyungwon hyung go?”
Mingyu shivers at the slight growl in Wonwoo’s low tone. He’s hit by another strong bout of admiration and yearns to hug Wonwoo from behind.
“He’s getting our tech- Shit, he might need help!” Jooheon speeds off down the hallway.
“Have I ever told you your voice is super sexy?” Mingyu strides in to hug him from behind.
“Have I ever told you there’s a time and place for everything?” Wonwoo chuckles at Mingyu’s pout, giving him a quick kiss on the jaw. “Let’s go save Jisoo hyung.”
Seungkwan hugs Chan tighter, nearly pulling him onto his lap. “Even if something happens to Jisoo hyung, you can’t leave. You have to stay with us. Promise me you’ll stay with us.”
Chan chuckles. “I already promised Jisoo hyung and Wonwoo hyung-”
“Promise us,” Minghao slides his arms around Chan’s waist, joining their hug. “Promise us you’ll stay.”
“Why does that sound like a threat?” Chan laughs nervously. “I’m not going anywhere.”
“We almost lost you once,” Junhui's voice filters through their earpiece, “we’re never letting you go again.”
“That still sounds like a threat,” Chan mutters. “And it’s not the first time-”
“Channie, I thought I raised you better. Was my tough love not enough?” A familiar smooth voice joins their comms.
“Jeonghan hyung!” Chan exclaims. “You’re okay,” he sniffles, hiding his face in Seungkwan’s sweater.
“Of course I am,” Jeonghan reassures. “Nothing can keep me from being with you guys.”
“Wow, that was really sappy,” Seungcheol chortles. “Did a whole day away from us make you soft?”
Jeonghan fakes a scoff. “What do you mean? I’ve always been nice.”
“If you say so.” Seungcheol smiles, offering a lukewarm plastic bowl to Jeonghan. “Make sure to eat it slowly or your stomach might get upset.”
Jeonghan takes the bowl, but refuses the spoon. He holds it under his chin and opens his mouth expectantly.
Seungcheol’s smile widens as he feeds Jeonghan, finally feeling the relief sweep through his chest. The wave travels up his neck and past his cheeks, settling into his tear ducts.
“Shhh, Cheol. Don’t cry. I’m right here. We’re okay.” Jeonghan pulls his head closer to rest their foreheads together. “Everything’s going to be okay.”
Matching sniffles can be heard from the other end of their comms.
“I haven’t seen you cry this much since your high school graduation,” Seungkwan sniffles, rubbing Chan’s arms. Minghao continues to place soft kisses along Chan’s shoulders and neck.
“Tha-t’s because I- I didn’t think anyone would come,” Chan chokes out, rubbing his eyes.
Seungkwan squeezes his wrist. “We’ll always be here for you. Always.”
“Yeah. We’re not going anywhere,” Minghao promises.
Chan stifles a sob against Seungkwan’s chest.
“I know we don't tell you this enough so I'll tell you now," Seungkwan mutters in his ear. "We love you. We love you so much. We tease you endlessly, but that's because we know you're ours. Because we trust you'll always come back to us." He pulls back a bit to give Chan a meaningful look.
“Really, Kwannie?” Minghao whispers. “Can’t you wait until after Channie’s settled?”
“I-I’m okay, Hao hyung,” Chan whispers. “I just... needed a moment.”
“You should let it all out,” Seungkwan mutters. “But afterwards-”
“I promise.” Chan grabs both their hands and traces his thumbs over their rings. “I promise no matter what, I’ll always come home.”
Jisoo knows he’s cutting it close when a dull ache spreads through his entire body. But he can feel the villain’s corrupted energy slowly slipping from its hold over Hyunwoo’s mind.
A sharp pain bursts through his chest, making him fall to his knees. Harsh breaths leave his open mouth. Almost there...
“Hey, are you-”
He feels someone shake his shoulders. Another pair of hands try to pull him away from Hyunwoo.
“We need to go hyung! The building’s gonna-!”
He’s barely conscious by the time he feels the last wisps of the villain’s energy disperse. He opens his eyes and is met with familiar dark hues.
Hyunwoo’s gaze immediately shifts to the boy standing frozen at the foot of his bed. “Seokie? Why are you crying?”
Jisoo moves away, but not before seeing Hoseok mouthing a silent ‘thank you.’ He feels his body tilt, only to be caught in a gentle embrace.
“Hyung, what’s wrong? Jisoo hyung!”
He lets darkness consume him, surrounded by the calls of his friends.
“He’s been... sleep... days...”
“I don’t know... Why?... Doctor...”
Jisoo hears a distant beeping sound through the fog in his mind. He can feel a dull ache spreading from his left arm and leg.
“I think he’s waking up!”
He gradually opens his eyes, taking in the concerned faces surrounding him.
“Hyung, you’re awake!” Strong arms wrap around his neck. A sense of deja vu takes over.
“Where’s Channie?” He winces at his hoarse voice.
Seungkwan hands him a cup of water. “He hasn’t woken up yet.”
“How long has it been?” Jisoo struggles to sit up. Seungcheol and Jeonghan step in to help, rearranging his pillows. Jeonghan keeps a hand on his shoulder while he takes small sips of water.
“Three days. We...” Seungcheol trails off, rubbing his face. Jeonghan catches his hand and intertwines their fingers.
“He has no injuries. You took the brunt of the fall,” Wonwoo whispers.
“We don’t know why he won’t wake up,” Hansol adds.
“The doctor said stress or trauma might be keeping him from waking,” Jihoon mutters. “It’s more mental than physical.”
“Maybe he’ll wake up now that Jisoo hyung has!” Seokmin exclaims, bouncing on his toes.
Jisoo sinks into the pillows, letting their conversation take a backseat in his mind.
I’m back in my own universe.
He knew there was a high chance of being sent back before tying up all the loose ends. He was willing to take the risk if it meant helping his brothers. There’s just one thing I wish I had done before I came back.
During their planning session, he’d convinced Chan to stay home to be in charge of their comms. It had taken almost half an hour of convincing before Chan begrudgingly agreed.
“Hyung, I thought you agreed to take me with you.” Chan pouted.
“I promised to include you in our plan, not take you with us.” Jisoo ruffled his hair. “I need you to protect our base. And to keep us updated if anything happens.”
“You have nothing to prove,” Jisoo whispered, stuffing a buttered slice of bread in the younger's mouth. “I know you feel obligated to save Jeonghan. I won’t lie, I feel the same way. But, there’s a difference between doing things out of guilt and doing things out of compassion.”
“Is this because I’m the only one who knows everything that’s going on?” Chan grabs the bitten slice and nearly slaps Jisoo in the face with it.
“That too. And I trust you. I trust you’re mature enough to know when to lead and when to listen.”
Chan hummed in thought, before taking another bite. “I can never win against you.”
“So you’ll hold the fort while we’re gone?”
“Only if you promise we’ll have a movie night when we get back.”
“Of course. How else would we celebrate?”
Damn. I was really looking forward to our movie night. He fidgets with the thin sheet covering his legs.
“Mmmmm.” A soft hum comes from across the room.
Soonyoung and Minghao run to the other bed, faces hovering over the younger boy’s scrunched nose.
Chan’s eyes flutter open, squinting up at Soonyoung’s face. “Hyung?”
Soonyoung dives in for a hug. Minghao follows, burying his face in Chan’s neck.
Chan’s eyes suddenly widen. “I... The building was gonna go down and- Jisoo hyung! Where’s-”
“I’m right here,” Jisoo mutters, waving his free hand towards Chan.
The youngest brightens when he sees how comfortable Jisoo looks. “Are your ribs okay? And hyung- you really need to stop trying to do everything on your own. There’s literally twelve other people waiting for you at home.” Chan grins.
“Ribs? Are you talking about Jisoo hyung’s injuries? I thought he hurt his wrist and leg?” Junhui slides closer and gives Chan a confused look.
“He’s right about us being there for him, though,” Seungcheol states. “I thought you’d think first before taking action, but I guess your protective instincts override everything else.”
Chan’s bewildered gaze flickers around the room, until it settles on Jisoo’s amused expression.
Jisoo smiles. Looks like I get to tie up all the loose ends, afterall.
Thanks so much for all your support! ^o^