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take the money and run

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The trial had been as publicized as possible. From the moment Taeyong had gotten into that car, there were cameras in his face. Reporters did everything they could to get an answer out of him as to why he had done what he did and how he had managed to evade the authorities for so long. The police took him back to Seoul, where he was given a lawyer named Dejun who told him never to answer any questions and keep his mouth shut about everything. Taeyong couldn’t find any sense in that seeing that the police had all the evidence they needed to put him away for the rest of his life already but did as he was asked nonetheless.

He saw Johnny again about a month after they had both gotten arrested in court. He thought that Johnny looked really pretty, even in his ugly blue jumpsuit. His hair had grown out a little and kept falling over into his eyes no matter how many times he would run his fingers through it. Taeyong had frowned when he noticed the purpling bruise on Johnny’s chin and how his right eye seemed to be a bit swollen and blackened but then Johnny was looking over at him and offering him a soft smile that made Taeyong forget about everything. Taeyong really had missed him dearly. 

It really was hard for Taeyong at first. As it turned out, what he had described to Johnny at the very beginning of their relationship had been completely true and quickly hit him full –force. Whenever he was able to force himself to sleep, he would wake up in cold sweats with his entire body screaming out in a type of pain that was six times as worse than the pain he had felt after being shot. He would get these migraines that caused him to vomit more often than not. All in all, it was fucking horrible. There would be times where the pain would get so bad that Taeyong thought he might literally die but his body always pulled through right at the end which he still wasn’t sure was good or bad. The only thing he had been wrong about was that it wasn’t constant. The small breaks were what he lived for and as days turned into weeks turned into months, Taeyong found that his body had started to adjust. The mark on his neck never faded though and at times, Taeyong would run the pads of his fingers over the scarred skin and he swore he could smell that familiar fir scent that he so very much missed. 

During the first day of their trial, Johnny returned with a new haircut and a suit that made him look so much mature than he usually did. Taeyong’s family—his father, as his mother simply refused to speak to him, saying that he was a stain on their family name and she wanted nothing to do with him which Taeyong wasn’t surprised by at all, considering that she had been looking for some kind of way to get rid of him ever since she found out that he couldn’t have children—had provided him with an old suit, his father’s wedding suit, but it was much too big for him and bulky on the shoulders. Taeyong said that he preferred to wear his stupid prison jumpsuit but Dejun told him that he didn’t want the judge or jury to think of him as a criminal, but as a human being. Taeyong told him that they all already thought of him as a criminal and Dejun didn’t respond after that. 

And for fucking once, Taeyong’s body wasn’t aching. Johnny wasn’t close to him but he could still smell him, could still feel the way that Johnny was unconsciously soothing him with his scent. Johnny was pleading not guilty. Dejun had suggested that Taeyong pled guilty to the theft but claim that he had nothing to do with Matthew’s murder which didn’t make any sense because if Johnny wasn’t guilty and he wasn’t the one who had carried it out, then who had done it?

Fortunately (unfortunately), when the prosecuter started grilling Taeyong on his involvement with Matthew’s murder and how they found his blood intermixed with Matthew’s at the crime scene, Johnny took it upon himself to stand up and announce, “I did it. I killed my brother,” which only threw the entire courtroom into a state of chaos. Taeyong did all that he could to intervene, to say that Johnny had only done it out of self–defense or that he had helped but it was very clear that the judge didn’t like him or the fact that he was speaking out of term and soon, he was being shoved out of the courtroom by an Alpha bailiff who growled at him to stop fighting or he would snap his arm in half right there and then. 

Taeyong didn’t see Johnny at all after that. He had absolutely no clue what was going on with Johnny’s case until the moment that his sentencing was put through and he was sent over to a prison in Hongcheon. He was roomed with an older man named Sangwon and a man who looked to be in his mid–thirties named Hongsuk. Hongsuk didn’t talk all that much and Sangwon talked a little too much, immediately bombarding Taeyong with a series of questions that started with why he had helped kill someone as great for their country as Matthew Suh and ending with how Johnny had recently been given a sentence of life in prison but the word was still out on whether or not he could receive capital punishment. Taeyong’s blood had ran cold at that last part, shocked that that was the decision that the court had decided to come to. 

It wasn’t fair. Life in prison? Taeyong hadn’t even been given that. Why was Johnny being so cruelly punished? He didn’t understand why Johnny’s loaded family hadn’t provided him with some kind of representation that would have helped him procure a lighter sentence. And fucking capital punishment? Hadn’t Johnny told them what Matthew had done to him, what he had done to so many people before the two of them? The thought of it made Taeyong sick to his stomach. This wasn’t fair. 

Another month passed by without anything major happening. Sangwon and Hongsuk were both humans so they didn’t react much to Taeyong’s heat dropping in the middle in the night other than Hongsuk sitting up from his bed, glancing over at him and pointing out that it looked like he had pissed himself. Taeyong was taken to a more private unit of the prison where he was left with practically nothing other than a fucking cucumber to “fix his little problem” , as the guard who had thrown him into the tiny room had called it for the next couple of days. Taeyong fucking hated it. 

His heat lasted an entire fucking week and during that time, Taeyong genuinely considered death being better than having to spend another day like this. On his final day, he knocked on the door and let the guard on the outside know that he wanted out because even though it probably wasn’t the safest for him to leave yet considering the pheromones that his body was still actively putting out, Taeyong couldn’t stand another fucking day in that stuffy room eating that horrible food that they would slide through the little rectangular hole in the door.

Once out, the guards pushed him in the lunchroom which Taeyong hated. He tried to reason with them and tell them that he had already eaten lunch which was a lie but he desperately wanted to go back to his cell and lay down. Unfortunately, all they did was curse at him and tell him to get a tray before he was sent to solitary.

Which, like. Taeyong had to try his absolutely hardest to not snap back at him because he had vowed that he wasn’t going to get himself in trouble while in prison. 

He sat down with his tray next to Sangwon, picking up his cookie to hand it to the older man. Unsurprisingly enough, it seemed that Sangwon was more than ready to speak to him the second that he sat down. 

“Did you hear?” Sangwon asked excitedly and Taeyong sighed, pulling back his cookie since it seemed that Sangwon didn’t really want it.

“I’ve been in heat for the past week,” Taeyong reminded the older man dryly, picking up his orange to start peeling it. “So no, I probably haven’t heard.”

Sangwon reached over and snatched the cookie up from Taeyong’s tray, quickly picking off a piece of it and pushing it into his mouth. “Your boy just got here and already almost got sent over to solitary,” Sangwon said casually, like that wasn’t something that Taeyong would care all too much about, like he hadn’t just mentioned Johnny fucking Suh. 

“He what?” Taeyong asked, his head snapping over to look at Sangwon who was shoving more of the cookie into his mouth. “Who?”

“Johnny,” Sangwon said with his mouth completely full. “Ain’t that his name?” 

That didn’t make any sense? Johnny was here? When the fuck had that happened? How long had he been there and why hadn’t he noticed him, smelled him at fucking least?

“How do you know he’s here?” Taeyong questioned almost frantically. 

“He got sent here last week,” Sangwon explained easily. “No one really saw him ‘cause he went through rut or something but now he’s back and he almost got into a fight with Kim a couple of minutes ago.”

Johnny had gone through his rut around the same time that Taeyong’s heat had started. His heat had triggered Johnny’s rut because they had been so close to each other and it had been particularly long because of the fact that they weren’t able to be together during their cycles. It still didn’t really explain why Taeyong wasn’t catching Johnny’s scent, even now but he could worry about that later. 

He could have asked Sangwon how he would have heard about Johnny being one of the newcomers in the prison when he himself had just heard about it only a couple of minutes ago but Taeyong decided that wasn’t exactly important right now.

“Where is he now?” Taeyong asked and Sangwon turned around in his seat, looking around the bland room for a couple of moments before zeroing on somewhere not too far away from them. 

“Over there,” Sangwon said, pointing.

Taeyong immediately stood up from his seat, looking off in the direction that Sangwon had pointed him in. It didn’t take long for him to find Johnny sitting there at a table not too far, his head down, picking at his food slowly. He sat at the table alone, leaving Taeyong to wonder why no one had chosen to sit next to him. Plus, Sangwon had mentioned something about a fight which was so, so fucking strange, considering that the entire time Taeyong had known him, Johnny had never seemed like the type of person to fight, even if provoked. 

Either way, Taeyong wasted no time before climbing out of his seat and making his way over to Johnny on the other side of the cafeteria. He had only made it halfway over when Johnny looked up from his tray, his face twisting in confusion at the sight of Taeyong before it was quite literally lighting up with joy, Johnny quickly standing up and moving to meet Taeyong in the middle. 

Johnny’s scent had to be the most comforting thing for Taeyong in a long, long while. He buried his face in Johnny’s chest, letting the older pull him as tightly as possible, pressing his cheek into the top of Taeyong’s head. 

“No contact, inmates!” a guard shouted from not too far away from the both of them. Neither Taeyong or Johnny made any move to let go of one another which ultimately caused the guard to step forward and place one hand on the baton in his waistband in warning. It was Taeyong who had seen, cracking his eyes open to see the man advancing and quickly pulling away, wanting to avoid the both of them getting in trouble. 

“You’re fucking here,” Taeyong breathed, shaking his head. “Johnny, you’re fucking here, dude.”

“I’m here,” Johnny said back, smiling. 

“Sit the fuck down,” the same guard snapped and Taeyong whipped his head around in the man’s direction, ready to open his mouth and tell him to fuck off for two seconds but Johnny was stopping him with a gentle hand on his shoulder, silently letting him know that it wasn’t worth it. Taeyong huffed angrily but still followed after Johnny as he moved to sit back down. 

He could feel more than few people in the cafeteria looking over at the both of them, obviously more than aware of the history between them. He still didn’t understand how Johnny was there, how he was sitting next to him as clear as day. The prosecuting team had made it a point that the two of them shouldn’t be together as part of their punishment and it seemed the court had agreed with that. Taeyong had been under the impression that he wouldn’t be able to see Johnny again until the day that he got out of prison and possibly not even then, considering that felons weren’t allowed to visit anyone who wasn’t a blood relative in prison.

Johnny looked really exhausted. There were dark circles underneath his eyes and his skin was bruised like it had been back in the courtroom. The part of his lip that the scar ran down was split down the middle and his hair was long and unruly, reaching past the nape of Johnny’s neck. On the right side of his throat was the familiar scar of Taeyong’s teeth, still slightly reddened even with how long it had been.

Taeyong had so much that he wanted to say to him. He wanted to ask how Johnny was even there, sitting next to him. He wanted to scream at him for taking the fall for Matthew’s death and offering no sort of defense for himself about what had happened. He wanted to tell Johnny how much he had missed and how he had been positive that he was never going to see him again. 

Ultimately, he decided to say, “You look like shit.”

Johnny paused for a moment before laughing, his eyes crinkling up. “You don’t look much better,” he said and Taeyong grimaced at him because he didn’t need Johnny reminding him how being in prison hadn’t really been kind to him. 

“How are you here?” Taeyong asked, frowning. “I thought we weren’t supposed to even been in the same fucking city as each other, Johnny.”

“We weren’t,” Johnny said, picking up the orange on his tray and handing it over to Taeyong who only blinked down at it, confused as to why Johnny was giving it to him. “You’re fucking tiny, Yong. Eat it.”

That was probably true. Taeyong had never really eaten a lot in his life but even since being in prison, he rarely ate at all. The food was borderline inedible and with how often he was in pain, his appetite was often the last thing that Taeyong was worried about. He only ate occasionally, picking off fruit and a cookie every now and again from his tray and nibbling on it in order to make sure that he stayed healthy enough to function. While he wasn’t really hungry at the moment, much more worried about talking to Johnny and figuring out what all had happened that led to him being here, Taeyong still took the orange from Johnny, swallowing down a sigh as he started to rip the peel off. 

“All of Matthew’s shit got left to my parents which, like, basically left them loaded,” Johnny went on to explain, glancing around the cafeteria at all the people that were still staring at the both of them. “I had to beg for them to get some strings pulled so that I could get sent to this prison.” His eyes eventually landed back on Taeyong pushing a slice of orange into his mouth. He watched him for a quick moment before pushing his entire tray in front of Taeyong who was quick to push it back. “Eat,” Johnny said simply.

“I already ate,” Taeyong lied, somehow knowing that if he said that he wasn’t hungry Johnny wasn’t going to let it go. Johnny eyed him for a couple seconds, clearly going back and forth between whether or not he should believe him. Ultimately, he must decide that Taeyong had to be telling the truth. Good.

“I told them that I was getting the shit kicked out of me in the prison they had me in,” Johnny continued, shrugging. “Which technically wasn’t a complete lie.”

Taeyong frowned at that. He didn’t like the fact that Johnny had been getting picked on but wasn’t surprised by it. A lot of people respected Matthew and weren’t too happy with the fact that he had been taken out by his own brother. Some people threw off–handed comments in Taeyong’s way every now and again but none had ever resorted to actual physical violence. 

“Is that why you almost got into a fight five minutes ago?” Taeyong asked quietly, still wondering who the hell Kim could be in the back of his mind. 

“No, it’s just,” Johnny stopped and sighed, running a hand through his hair. “Everyone thinks I’m this big, bad murderer so they’re either scared of me or come up to me trying to test me and I’ve—I gotta defend myself at some point, Yong.”

“I know,” Taeyong quickly reassured Johnny, wanting him to know that without a doubt, he was definitely on his side. 

He glanced up and looked around the cafeteria like Johnny had earlier, a bit overwhelmed with the amount of people staring at them. It led him to wonder how this was going to work out. It had been public knowledge that him and Johnny weren’t supposed to be together and yet and still they were sitting next to each other behind that dirty table, sharing a fucking tray of food. It didn’t make any sense.

“Isn’t someone gonna figure out?” Taeyong questioned. “Aren’t they gonna send you back once they realize that we aren’t supposed to be with each other?”

“Parents paid off the warden and the mayor,” Johnny told him, shaking his head. “I’m here.”

“And what about me, Johnny?” Taeyong asked sharply, his heartbeat starting to pick up a little at the thought. “What makes you think that someone won’t fucking transfer me to another prison?”

It was good to see Johnny but Taeyong couldn’t help but be a little nervous. Sure, Johnny had solidified his spot in this particular prison but what about him? He didn’t want to be moved just as much as he didn’t want to be separated from Johnny again. This was a good place for him—mellow and calm and easy. Nobody had tried to hurt him and he had confidence in the fact that they never would. He couldn’t guarantee that in another prison. 

“They won’t,” Johnny said confidently and Taeyong couldn’t help but snort in response. 

“You sound pretty fucking confident about something that you have absolutely no control over,” Taeyong huffed because he was genuinely worried about this and it seemed that Johnny wasn’t taking it seriously. 

“I got it, Yong,” Johnny promised him, reaching over to pull Taeyong’s hand underneath the table and interlock their fingers. “Trust me, alright?”

Taeyong blinked at him for a moment or two before exhaling and shaking his head. He didn’t full trust that Johnny had control of the situation because for the short amount of time that he had known him, Johnny never really seemed to have control of anything that happened in his life but Taeyong still settled, figuring that if there really was nothing neither of them could do, he shouldn’t spend the little bit of time he had left pissed off at Johnny for not thinking of him. 

That being said, Taeyong was still a bit pissed off. He really did hope that Johnny had some sort of a plan. What had all gone down wasn’t just about him and never would be. 

“Why’d you take the fall for Matthew?” Taeyong decided to ask.

“Because I’m the one who killed him,” Johnny said back with such nonchalance that it bothered Taeyong down to his very core. Did Johnny really believe that? He couldn’t have. It didn’t make sense for him to. While it was true that Johnny had pulled the trigger, he wouldn’t have been able to do so if it wasn’t for Taeyong actively distracting Matthew. He didn’t know that Johnny was going to kill Matthew but still knew that he was going to bring some kind of harm to him and Taeyong had been completely okay with that.

“We both did it,” Taeyong said lowly, glancing down at their interlocked hands. It was the first time he had noticed how bruised up Johnny’s knuckles were. “What the fuck have you been doing, Johnny?”

He realized that his question gave Johnny leeway to get out of answering to why he had taken the fall for Matthew but didn’t care. It seemed like so how had happened to Johnny since they had been separated and Taeyong didn’t like it.

“I told you people have been fucking with me,” Johnny told him. “I tried to ignore it for a really long time but eventually I had to start standing up for myself.”

“Here?” Taeyong asked. 

“I’ve only been here a week and the second I got here I had to be sent to a private cell ‘cause I was in rut,” Johnny muttered, glancing at Taeyong’s basically untouched orange. “I think you should eat.”

“Why are you so fucking focused on getting me to eat?” Taeyong snapped. Johnny didn’t respond, only blinked back at him slowly. “What about that dude you were trying to fight?” 

“That’s the fucking problem about here,” Johnny said, looking up at a table not too far away from them. Taeyong did the same, his gaze falling on a man with a tattoo of a snake on his neck and long, dark hair staring back at the both of them while the rest of the people at his table ate rambunctiously. “This is a minimum security prison. The last one I was at had us in our cells 23 hours a day. Here—I mean, it’s different, Yong.”

“Isn’t that good?” Taeyong frowned, looking back at Johnny. 

“Not when the people who used to work for Matthew are everywhere I turn,” Johnny mumbled, sighing frustratedly. “You’re telling me that nobody has tried anything with you at all?”

Since the moment Taeyong had gotten there, people generally left him alone. There were a few who liked to call him a bitch or a thief or a slut and many liked to make comments about his body that made him want to vomit but it never really progressed any further beyond that. It was so lax that Taeyong had almost gotten comfortable with his position in the prison—quiet, mellow and out of sight. 

He looked back at the man at the other table once again, finding that he was still focused in on the both of them. Was he one of Matthew’s men? How many of Matthew’s people had Johnny seen in the little bit of time he had been here? Most importantly, how many of Matthew’s people were there, ready to attack and why hadn’t they done anything to him yet? What the fuck was going on?

He opened his mouth to ask Johnny more questions about what was going on but was interrupted by the sound of a guard’s shrill whistle. His head whipped around to see everyone pushing themselves up from their seats, readying themselves to go back their cells for lights out. He looked back at Johnny, definitely not ready to leave, especially when there was still so much that they needed to discuss with one another.  

“We’ll talk later, okay?” Johnny promised, giving Taeyong’s hand another squeeze. 

Taeyong was a little hesitant about that, considering that a lot could happen in a night. Johnny could be fucking killed and he could easily be woken up at the crack of dawn and told to gather all his things and ready himself to be transferred to another prison. The two of them separating again almost seemed like a catastrophic idea but Taeyong knew that there was ultimately nothing that either of them could do about it. 

“It’s gonna be fine, Taeyong,” Johnny reassured him, lowering his voice significantly as more and more people passed by the table they were still sitting behind. “Just don’t let them know that you’re scared, okay? The second you do that, we’re done for.”

Taeyong nodded and soon thereafter slipped his hand out from Johnny’s. Johnny got up first and Taeyong followed, glancing around at the people who walked by them back to their cells. This whole thing made him feel more nervous than ever. Anyone could be one of Matthew’s men, waiting for the right moment to strike. He didn’t know who to trust and who to be wary of at this point. 

His attention zeroed back in on Johnny when the older reached out and grabbed his hand again, offering him a soft smile. Taeyong blinked back at him, too anxious to do the same. It didn’t seem like Johnny minded. 

“I’ll protect you,” Johnny told him. “Like last time.”

And that simple phrase really did make Taeyong feel a little at ease. He was still anxious, still suddenly suspicious of almost every single person that passed by but Johnny’s words had helped to calm him just a little because at the end of the day, Johnny had protected him and had done everything in his power to do so. If there was one thing that Taeyong trusted in, it was the fact that Johnny would keep him safe.

“Okay,” Taeyong nodded. “I trust you.”

“Good,” Johnny breathed, almost like he had been scared of what Taeyong’s response would be. “Meet me back here tomorrow for breakfast, okay?”

“Okay,” Taeyong said and with that, Johnny was giving his hand one last squeeze before slipping the two of them apart and walking away. Taeyong watched him go, standing there until a guard came up behind him and demanded for him to keep walking which he did with a small sigh. 

The fact that Johnny was back was fucking amazing. Taeyong couldn’t think of anything better than them being together again, even if only in small increments of the day that they had available to them. But, he couldn’t help but be worried about what was to come. What was going to happen to them while together that wouldn’t have happened to them if they were apart?

Was this more of a bad thing for the both of them then it was good?

 


To be continued in "Don't Look Back".