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There’s a certain kind of pleasure in watching – Taemin has always tended to be observant, almost as much as he’d been observed in return, even before he’d been Marked. His childhood habit of picking out pertinent moves from here and there, merging them into unconventional patterns in a way no trained OverGuard would ever think of, is one of the reasons he’s gotten as far as he has. His own trainer maintained that he’s had the luck of the gods to not fuck himself over with sloppy techniques. Taemin’s never argued; partly because he knows it’s not worth it when he could be learning even more from Eunhyuk – why waste time? And partly because… well, he’s always known. Always had an instinctive grasp for what’s workable and realistic; what actions would seem like it could meld best in harmony with the energy coursing under his skin, to bring out the results he needs. He’s never really said anything to anybody about it, but he suspects he doesn’t have to – some realize it anyway.

Jongin has worked hard to get where he is today; relentlessly training until the moves come in a glorious sequence of effortless grace. Even on the field, Jongin never shows his hurts – he’s the symbolic arrowhead of his team, the point that stays sharp as a diamond despite all odds. Despite the brilliance of his blades, though, the laborious grind that goes into making Jongin into Kai is something few are granted leave to see. And Taemin, despite being one of the main reasons Kai even exists in the first place, is nevertheless thankful. He knows too many who’ve left behind mentors, friends, lovers… but he knows that’s something he’ll never need to worry about from Jongin.

If anything, it’s the opposite.

Jongin is currently glaring at the only other person in the room. It doesn’t seem to matter that Jongin himself is naked, that Jimin is naked, and Taemin sighs despite himself, because Jongin is looking almost as coldly intimidating as Kai has ever been, and if there’s anything that can be said about Jongin, it’s that he’s loyal. Generally short-sighted, especially when it comes to Taemin and his happiness, but deathly loyal, even if - especially if he thinks Taemin is being stupid. Which is probably why he’s staring at the up-and-coming shooting star of a recruit like there’s nobody else he can think of to practice his newest technique on.

Taemin admits that from the outside, it could look a bit like Jimin is using him to further himself and his non-traditional team. But he also knows that Jimin doesn’t need it - the lack of official Marks makes no difference to how successful his team’s hunts are; lack of insignia and recognition are not indicators to strength. Besides, it’s probably only a matter of time, no matter how the Council hems and haws. Taemin’s magic hasn’t connected with anyone new in years, and in his heart, he’s as sure about Jimin’s soul as he is Jongin’s. And as always, what he feels in his heart Is never, ever wrong. Usually Jongin remembers that about Taemin. His temper does short-circuit his logical thinking, though.

Well.

It’s not like Taemin doesn’t enjoy reminding him.

Taemin crosses his arms and sits back, eyeing Jongin. “I’m still waiting.”

Jongin looks at him with deep betrayal, and Taemin tilts his head in the exact way he’s shown Jongin a hundred times before - Close your eyes, and Trust me.

To Jongin’s credit, he only stills for a couple of seconds, emotions flashing through his eyes too fast to comprehend, before he sighs deeply and strides forward.

Jongin flows down to his knees in front of Taemin in a smooth drop, and does actually close his eyes. He’s still not touching Jimin, who’s been waiting patiently all this time – and Taemin needs to reward him for that, somehow, for keeping his head even as the charge from Jongin’s magic built up so much that each and every movement creates little hums of static.

They could easily shift the energies from their skin, of course, but Jongin’s energy is stimulating in more than one way (and Taemin’s always had a soft spot for elemental effects). Jimin does actually eye him without turning his head away from Jongin’s, as if to ask if he’s sure, but a light hand ruffling his hair is enough to reassure him.

Taemin can’t blame Jimin for wanting the comfort; what is publicly known about Kai is pretty much the opposite of what he knows about Jongin as his best friend. It would be naïve to ignore the current political climate; especially as a result of the two main teams in the country. Taemin is nothing if not ambitious, though; and it’s for the best reasons.

Jongin tilts his shoulder to lean slightly against Taemin’s thigh, his palm snaking around Taemin’s ankle and his head dropping down for an instant before he takes a deep breath. He opens his eyes, looking at Taemin as if memorizing each and every inch; then turns, moving right into Jimin’s space.

Jongin is aggressive with Jimin – the kiss alone would be enough to weaken a civilian, and when the energy transfers come in… Jimin’s breath hitches in a whimper when Jongin pushes his magic into him; directly, with the force of a blow. Taemin’s hand tightens in Jimin’s hair, and as if in reaction, Jimin surrenders.

Without even the whisper of a defense.

And he surrenders gradually, beautifully.

Even if Taemin hadn’t been monitoring, he would have been able to see the exact moment that Jongin realizes. That Jimin has lowered each and every shield he possesses, to take Jongin’s magic deep into himself, letting him in completely.

Jongin’s hand clenches on Taemin’s ankle – Taemin wishes he could make him comprehend… but Taemin needs Jongin to understand what this means, needs him to make the choice by himself. At this moment, all of Jimin is his to take, to< i>destroy, if that’s what he wants to do, and Jimin himself has just let him, giving him the tools to do so.

Taemin wants Jongin to ask himself the reason why.

Taemin has absolute confidence that Jongin will, and answer right; but every second he waits is an eternity for both him and Jimin. For both their sakes, he hopes that Jongin will start figuring it out sooner rather than later.

It doesn’t take more than a few more seconds before Jongin stumbles back, abruptly withdrawing his magic from Jimin, both of them shuddering from the intensity. He’s off-balance, glancing from Taemin to Jimin, lingering on the gasping boy on his hands and knees, clenching fistfuls of the rug to ground himself.

Taemin gives them a minute, then gently draws Jongin closer.

“You know why,” Taemin whispers, answering the question in Jongin’s eyes. It’s for similar reasons that Jongin comes to him after all. If only he can get Jongin to see it. Jongin’s propensity for over-protectiveness is charming, if amusing, but combine that with Jimin’s absolute determination to give everything to ensure Taemin’s happiness, and well, a more pessimistic person than Taemin would’ve termed it a disaster waiting to happen.

Taemin, though, knows both Jongin and Jimin, and he’s pretty confident they’ll get along like a house on fire. Eventually. He just needs to ensure they survive the (quite literal) butting of heads first. He’s slowly coming down from his own hyper-alertness, too, and he lets Jongin see it, raising his brows at him.

“Now do it properly, and stop being a jerk.”

It takes a second before Jongin’s brows come together in a thunderous frown. “I’m the jerk?” he mutters under his breath, peering pointedly at Taemin, to where Jimin is, still staying a little away from the two of them, and Taemin almost grins.

Jongin is looking at Jimin less like he wants to tear him apart with his bare hands, and more like he’s wondering if Jimin has even half a brain, and Taemin suddenly feels a lot more optimistic. If Jongin is extending his overprotectiveness to Jimin already, well.

Jiminnie is trying to be polite,” Taemin replies, rolling his eyes and hiding his relief. Jongin may have been the aggressor here, but at that moment, he was the more fragile of the two. Jimin’s will is always strongest when he’s perceived to be at his weakest. Because that’s all it is – perception. Jimin is strong; stronger than even he knows, because he sometimes loses himself in the illusion. Taemin looks forward to seeing him stand tall and confident; and he looks forward to being at his side, because he’ll never leave Jimin to do it alone.

He hopes Jongin will also be by Jimin’s side, by then.

That’s all in the hazy future, though. In the now… Taemin pulls Jimin closer, settling him with his back against Taemin’s parted legs. Jimin is still tense, though he’s visibly trying to calm himself.

“Hey.”

Taemin lightly pulls Jimin’s hair backward, so he’s forced to tip his head up to look into Taemin’s eyes. Taemin smiles at him, pressing a soft kiss to his forehead. “You’re doing so well, Jiminnie,” he murmurs. “Can you do it once more for me?”

Jimin shudders but nods slowly, biting his lips.

“It’s alright, I’ve got you.” Taemin suits actions to his words, hands coming down to grip at Jimin’s shoulders.

Jongin is staring at Jimin, and well, he can’t really be blamed. It’s considered a sign of great trust to lower even half your barriers in the presence of a companion, and usually it takes years of familiarity before that’s even a thought in people’s heads. It’s a rare person who does that even for their lovers. And among people in their industry… Jongin knows exactly what Jimin is risking, what he’s allowing Jongin, someone he doesn’t even know, apparently just on Taemin’s word. Asking nothing in return.

Taemin raises an eyebrow in challenge. He knows the implications that Jongin wouldn’t have missed about the two of them in just the past two minutes of interaction.

“Jongin,” he says, quietly. It’s not a question.

Jongin’s breath stutters, a full body shiver going through him. This time, when he moves in, it’s slower. Cautious. And his stance is more open. Taemin is optimistic, and smiles when their lips touch.

From Jimin’s shivery moan, it’s clear Jongin’s entry this time is vastly different.

Taemin is touching both of them, and he’s expecting it when Jongin’s aura smoothes out and fades, but he still gasps when this time, it’s Jongin’s defenses lowering slowly, in gradual invitation.

 

-

 

Jimin looks like he’s going to vibrate into the air with frustration. Taemin gives him a glance.

“Maybe you can help Jongin count, Jiminnie?”

Taemin doesn’t give Jimin another look. All his attention is on Jongin, who is weighed down by Jimin’s chains, kneeling against the foot of the bed.

Taemin gives careful attention to the neatly spaced lines on Jongin’s back, and can’t resist trailing a finger down the length of his spine.

“So pretty, Jonginnie,” he murmurs, then steps back. “Rather too pretty,” he says thoughtfully, and Jongin rouses enough to look at him over his shoulder.

“Me? Or your own handiwork?” he asks, voice breathy and hoarse from his cries, but there’s still an edge of snark, and Taemin hums. That won’t do. That won’t do at all.

“I think I’ll mess you up a bit,” he says, voice light, and there’s a sudden shift in the thickness of the chains, and Taemin shoots a warning glance at Jimin.

Jimin is sitting bolt upright right where Taemin left him, his fists clenched on his knees and mouth parted. At Taemin’s attention, he shivers and stills, ducking his head in apology. The chains on Jongin thicken.

Taemin eyes the whip in his hand, and with a thought, the single coil separates into three, the ends branching out even more.

“Ready?” he asks quietly. Jongin takes a deep breath, bowing his head.

-

Taemin remembers that Jimin had counted, not missing even one. His voice had wavered when Jongin started crying out with every lash, and towards the end, it was like Jimin was gasping out with the voice that Jongin no longer seemed to possess.

The month before must have been quite an ordeal for Jongin; it had taken around 30 more lashes before he had started to truly let himself go. And more than an hour with Taemin afterward, to get completely undone.

Jongin usually breaks long before this. Taemin knows Jongin will let him know later, if there’s anything truly concerning that he needs to know, what with the sometimes overlapping spheres of influence both their teams labour under, but he hopes it was just a bad month. Anything that Jongin’s team couldn't handle had the potential to be a true nightmare for everyone, if it spread out. And with the advantage of numbers on their side, Taemin could make a guess as to which team would be the second lead.

Selfishly, Taemin hopes it doesn’t come to that for a while yet. Though Jimin, at least, could probably handle it. With the fine control he’s shown Taemin, he wouldn’t be surprised.

Taemin is impressed with the skill, and makes a point of saying so. Jongin has passed out; blissed out and spread-eagled on one side of the bed. Jimin is trying to be more of an all-rounder like himself; rather than a specialist like Jongin… In the scene, towards the middle, Jimin had started to increase and decrease the pressure and intensity of the knot that Taemin had had him create around Jongin’s cock with the slightest of gestures from Taemin. With time and understanding, Taemin is sure Jimin’s understanding of him – of them, will improve enough to not even need that.

Meanwhile, he tells Jimin exactly what he liked, what he found impressive, how Jongin would probably have felt, how enjoyable it had been for them, how happy he’s made Taemin.

Jimin’s hands are clenched on the bed and his hand shakes with every compliment Taemin gives him, where he’s holding on to Taemin to support himself as he moves up and down on Taemin’s cock. He looks beautiful; flushed and damp with sweat, eyes desperate even as he rakes his gaze all over Taemin, his chest, the arm casually thrown over his stomach.

After all, Jimin hasn’t yet dared to ask Taemin to touch him yet.

He’s visibly shaking, lips firmly between his teeth to stop the words from spilling out, and body flushed with the effort of holding himself from coming all over himself, all over Taemin.

Because Taemin had told him not to, not yet.

And Taemin still won’t let him, not till Jimin gives him what he wants.

Taemin knows to what lengths Jimin would reach to, to satisfy him. He doesn’t ever take it for granted, but he does enjoy watching Jimin make the effort. To drive Jimin so far that he actually goes beyond wanting things for Taemin’s pleasure, and starts begging for his own.

Taemin eyes Jimin. Looks like it may take a while. In that case… Taemin murmurs a soft-voiced command which makes Jimin freeze.

He rearranges himself on the bed, sitting up a bit more, casually lifting Jongin’s palm to breathe an absent kiss there, paying no attention to Jimin’s poorly withheld gasp. Jimin’s eyes are flaring, gaze focused where Taemin’s and Jongin’s hands are joined, but his lips remain firmly closed, for now.

Taemin internally sighs.

“Mm,” he hums, licking at the tip of Jongin’s thumb. Really, it’s a shame Jongin isn’t awake. But Taemin did work him over rather thoroughly. “Keep going,” he tells Jimin, tone absent, his fingers trailing over Jongin’s own, and can almost taste the desire catching Jimin by the throat, in the sob he almost releases.

Jimin is almost as hard to break as Jongin.

And as satisfying.

 

--- ~~ ---

“Want me to drop you off?” Minho asks, breath huffing out as he hurls his pack in the back of the car.

Taemin is tired enough that he actually does think about it, rather than rejecting it off-hand. “Would you mind?”

Minho doesn’t even make the usual jokes in response. Taemin’s not the only one exhausted.

Actually, exhausted seems way too light of a word for it; it had been such a draining campaign that even Kibum had been passed out on the journey back. He doesn’t think he’ll see Jonghyun for the next week (if that) – he’d been clutching Taemin desperately to ground himself; trying his best not to fall asleep. Taemin knew Jonghyun enough that nothing he could say would change his hyung’s mind, so he’d gone himself to make sure Jonghyun was in the arms of his family and safe behind the complicated wards, so Jonghyun could finally let himself flare out without fear.

He’d bumped into Minho after – he’d been on the way back after dropping Kibum off after Jinki had waved all of them away to go and report on their behalf. He nods in thanks at Minho and exits out, not sparing a glance back, even when he hears the vehicle drive away – he’s looking forward to some quiet time and is completely committed about not thinking about his work for the next few days, at all. He’s too jittery, still, to completely relax, but that isn’t gonna stop him from making a sincere effort.

Taemin blinks when he realizes that the main ward around the house has been deactivated. The privacy wards are holding; which means-

Taemin starts to grin, something in his heart easing. He’s given the keys to the dwelling to few people; and considering it’s not his team members, and his family never visit unless he’s officially off –

Jongin opens the door before he ever gets to the doorway. Taemin doesn’t question his presence; just kind of collapses in his arms, basking in the comfort of Jongin’s warmth and concerned eyes.

He’s too busy mapping out the broad shoulders, and snuggling into the base of Jongin’s throat to pay attention to all that Jongin’s doing – he feels himself kind of shuffled back, which is kind of awkward if only because he’s reluctant to stop touching Jongin for even one second.

They collapse into the couch backwards, Taemin knocking the wind out of Jongin, landing almost on top of him. Jongin slaps the back of his head in retaliation when Taemin grins, unapologetic. Taemin is leaning in to kiss him when his stomach growls. Loudly.

They freeze in unison. Jongin starts giggling after a second, and to Taemin’s honest surprise, a second voice joins in from behind him, and Taemin jerks back to look.

Jimin is sitting at the dining table, one leg folded carelessly under the other and head resting on his folded palm. He seems to have been there a while; probably laughing at the both of them since they stumbled in.

“Hungry, hyung?” he asks, grinning when Taemin’s beams back despite his shock.

Taemin blinks back to himself, then considers. “Starving,” he says, then holds up a finger. “One moment.”

Jongin isn’t expecting it when Taemin turns back and jerks him into a truly filthy kiss. It’s been too long – Taemin wants to indulge himself; and he does. When he moves away, Jongin’s gaze is glazed, his lips swollen and he almost moves forward into Taemin before he catches himself. Taemin jerks him along with the tie he’s helpfully wearing, anyway.

Of course, Taemin doesn’t sit down to eat before giving Jimin the same welcome too – he likes to be equal opportunity with himself that way.

 

-

 

Later on, he wishes he remembered that Jongin and Jimin are fans of equal opportunity, as well. Except, really, they take it way more literally than he does; and looking at the way both of them are mouthing at his cock, he wishes they’d be a little less literal in their practice.

Because while the both of them take turns with the initiative, but it’s a little hazy for Taemin regardless, because whichever one is, the other seems to mimic, exactly on the other side. It’s already been an hour since Jimin pushed Taemin into the couch with a perky ‘don’t worry about anything, hyung, let us take care of you!’ and Taemin honestly had welcomed it.

While he’d wanted Jongin and Jimin to get along, he’d really not thought about all the specifics. Maybe he should have; both of them are highly adaptable; and what they become together are more than the sum of the parts. Which, in this situation, means that it’s usually Taemin as their focus when Jongin and Jimin try to keep up with, and one-up each other.

Taemin chances a glance down – always a risk in this situation. Jongin and Jimin are slowly licking down the shaft, making their way to the base. They’re staring at each other, and Taemin shudders. It’s hard enough to keep himself in hand (so to speak) just from feeling the ministrations on his cock – the visuals make it almost unbearable. Jimin feels Taemin’s regard and glances up, which, of course, means Jongin looks too. He gasps when they pull off, and really, the smiles on their faces don’t really mean anything good.

Jongin quirks a smile, deliberately shifting away to mouth at Taemin’s thigh as one hand rubs distractingly where it’s curled around Taemin’s ankle. Taemin frowns deeply at Jongin, who, unsurprisingly, is unaffected. Meanwhile, Jimin seems to have learned from Jongin, because he, too, is angling away, and, well. Well.

Taemin had his hands clenched over the edge of the couch, and he’d been trying to keep them there, to resist the temptation of moving it to Jongin’s or Jimin’s hair – he’s honestly not sure if he would have been able to stop himself from thrusting into their mouths, regardless.

Now, though…

Taemin moves his hand over to palm the base of his cock. He hears one of them gasp, and is not overly concerned about who. Taemin grasps firmly, moving his hand over himself, and the sensation when he thumbs over the slit makes him tilt his head back with a moan, and he can hear the resulting whine from Jimin, and the taut silence from Jongin.

Despite being in the middle of giving himself a handjob, Taemin almost smiles.

After all, teasing can go both ways.

His thoughts are hazy and he’s half out of his mind, but he can still almost count down – move his hips, twist his fingers like so, which makes himself gasp, and three, two-

Taemin almost topples over form the force of Jimin surging over to claim his lips in a frenzy of desperation, and poor Jongin, meanwhile, is too late; he barely grazes Jimin’s cheek when he tries.

Taemin is still laughing when Jimin lets go, and ruffles Jongin’s hair in apology. Jongin’s lips are thrust forward in a pout, and Taemin can’t stop himself from leaning forward to taste. Like Jimin, he tastes of all of them – himself, Jimin, and Jongin’s own indescribable taste.

Jimin’s neck is red – and it’s endearing that he’s actually blushing now, despite all they’ve done, all they’ve been doing - when he moves forward towards Jongin.

“Sorry, hyung, I-” Jimin stammers out. “He was, I couldn’t-”

“It’s okay, Jiminnie,” Jongin replies, and yes, his tone is definitely a bit sour, there. “I completely get it.” And then levels an accusing glare at Taemin.

Taemin grins and sits back. “You love me.”

Jimin ducks his head at Taemin’s words, and Jongin’s expression is a mix of fondness, exasperation, and arousal, and he slaps Taemin’s hands away and leans back between his legs.

Jimin, meanwhile helpfully bends down to suck at Taemin’s balls.

The shiver Taemin releases proves gratifying to the others, evidenced by Jongin’s bright eyes and Jimin’s grin. Jongin kisses upward, and when he reaches the soft skin of Taemin’s upper thigh, laves the area with his tongue and peeks at Taemin. Taemin knows Jongin and and his not-so-well-hidden mischievous streak, and thus is keeping a suspicious eye on him when he starts using his teeth, so close to where Taemin wants his mouth.

Taemin still jerks back, and he can feel Jongin’s soft huffs of laughter against his cock, because, as always, he’s obviously lost all his evil plans to tease as soon as Taemin has an unexpected reaction, and is bent over right up against his cock, giggling away like Taemin’s cock is not right there, leaking pre-come.

Jimin has moved back a bit, and is staring at Jongin like he’s grown another head; and Taemin sighs a little. Clearly Jimin needs a little more time to get used to Jongin being… Jongin. Maybe Jongin feels Taemin’s judging gaze, coz he looks up, rolls his eyes a little, and fists his hand into the vee of Jimin’s open shirt and jerks him closer, and then they’re kissing.

They’re kissing, and Taemin’s cock is right there, and it’s filthy to see how Jongin and Jimin kiss, mouths open with flashes of tongue, and Taemin can’t decide if they’re kissing first and sucking his cock on the side, or whether they’re that into sucking his cock, and sharing, that they need to do both at the same time.

Whatever it is, it’s almost too much for even Taemin to keep his head, and he has to close his eyes and tilt his head back for self-preservation.

From then, it’s a frenzy of wet heat; hands around his cock at the same time as a mouth sucking at the tip, one of them sucking his balls into his mouth at the same time as the other swallows him down. Taemin shakes, and it’s all too much; the touches, the heat, the loving kisses laid on his skin in between – all together, it’s too much, and he can’t, he can’t stop –

He sees a flash of Jimin’s upturned face, Jongin’s smile, and then he lets go, his vision whiting out, almost blanking out with the force of his orgasm.

Actually he’s pretty sure he did. Because the next thing he remembers is waking up between Jongin and Jimin on the bed. Long limbs are stretched out beside his, and he tenses at first, his brain not fully registering where he is. His movement wakes the others.

“Go back to sleep,” he hears Jongin say in a sleep-roughened voice. “You’re with me- with us, you’re safe.” Jongin says in the practised voice he’s used a hundred times before, and Taemin automatically relaxes.

They’re lying crammed closely in Taemin’s bed, plastered close to each other despite the space. Jongin has a leg over him, and Jimin seems to have taken one of his arms hostage. Taemin shifts; despite the unusual placement the other two move with him, and they settle back comfortably. Jimin is just looking, for now, though his hand sneaks under the covers to entwine with Taemin’s. Taemin rouses, just enough to know that he’s warm, and safe. Loved.

He smiles as he falls back asleep, sleepy and content.

 

---end.