The silence was eerie, cold air biting at the raw skin of Taehyung’s wrists as he rubbed at them in discomfort, the only sound in the room being the clinking of the metal links against the table. He shifted in his seat, eyes focused on his glint of the harsh light against the metal of the handcuffs. Unmoving, his eyes glanced up from under messy, dark curls to glare at his vague reflection in the window across from him. Two–way glass, he thought. Someone’s watching. As if confirming his assumptions, the handle to the door clicked, and the officer who had brought him stepped into the room. He was tall, his skin was tanned, and he had eyes that seemed to be consistently calculating, gears constantly clicking in his head. In his hands he held a manila folder, full of a large stack of papers. He set it down on the table quietly, and pulled out the chair to sit in front of Taehyung, obstructing Taehyung’s view of himself in the glass. Taehyung’s eyes dropped to his wrists, focusing on the chain that linked the cuff. Both remained silent, until the officer cleared his throat.
“Hm. So–,” Namjoon hunched over slightly, beginning his process with a shift in body language to break tension in the air. “Kim Taehyung, was it?”
Taehyung nodded silently, leaning back in his chair a few moments after the officer leaned forward. He twisted his wrists in the cuffs idly, focusing on his attention on them a little too hard.
Namjoon raised an eyebrow, observing Taehyung’s behavior. He pursed his lips in thought before producing a key from his belt; reaching over the table, the click of the cuffs unlocking echoed through the small room. Taehyung withdrew his wrists, rubbing at the red skin. “Better?” Namjoon looked at him expectantly, and Taehyung nodded slowly.
“Do you keep all… ‘trespassers’, in handcuffs?”
Namjoon straightened in his chair, relaxing a bit in an attempt to observe whether Taehyung would do the same. “We keep criminals in handcuffs. Are you a criminal, Kim Taehyung?”
Taehyung let out a scoff. “That’s forward.” He rolled his neck, cracks echoing as joints popped.
Namjoon let out an exhale. He adjusted himself in his seat, neglecting to touch the file on the table. “You don’t have a record, so I can’t say that you’re a criminal. Not yet.” His eyes narrowed to peer at Taehyung. “So, what were you doing there? The…” he paused.
Taehyung opened his mouth, seconds away from finishing his sentence for him – “Parthenon” almost slipped his lips before he stopped himself. You’re talking to a cop, for fuck’s sake. Don’t put words where he wants them. He swallowed his words, eyes flickering up to meet Namjoon’s as he met him with silence.
Namjoon nodded subtly, acknowledging Taehyung’s opt for silence. “... Parthenon.” He finished for himself – so he’s not stupid, Namjoon thought.
“Bringing coffee.” Taehyung replied simply, shortly.
Namjoon nodded again, taking in Taehyung’s answer. “Bringing coffee.” He repeated, a feigned understanding coating his tone. Taehyung simply nodded his head in response. “Have you been there before, Mr. Kim?”
Taehyung rolled his tongue in his mouth, patience beginning to waver. “Is that related to the reason why you brought me in, Officer?”
“It could be. It would depend on your answer.”
The room fell quiet for a couple of long, agonizing minutes; neither of them seemed to let up. Without a word, Namjoon rose from his seat; the scraping of metal against the floor rang out into the silence. He exited the room, and Taehyung settled into the chair. He couldn’t believe what tonight had become – just yesterday, he’d been at the club, drinking and having a good time with his boss and Jeongguk, and now, maybe 24 hours later, he was sitting in a police interrogation room, arrested, and being questioned by a cop. Youngjae was in hospital, and he couldn't stop thinking about the heated conversation he’d just had with Jimin – Jimin. His mind flitted to the club, and the obscure “Doctor” client that was booked for tonight. He thought of his gun, and the unspoken faith he’d shared with Jimin to help him out of a bad situation that would have only gotten worse if he’d been caught with a weapon. He thought of the events of the night leading up to now; to Youngjae, and Jeongguk, and how the fuck did he end up in the middle of a police raid on the fucking club? Was it even considered a raid – what the fuck was going on here?
Taehyung had hardly had time to think, to process, just what the fuck had happened. He swallowed dryly. His pensive silence was penetrated by the sound of the door opening, and the cop re–entered the room. He was holding a ziploc bag with Taehyung’s wallet, watch, and keys along with a hot cup of coffee, which he placed on the table in front of Taehyung. “Coffee?”
Taehyung shook his head and scrunched his nose. “No, thank you.”
Namjoon sat back into his chair and he opened the bag, retrieving the contents from within. He flipped open the leather wallet, perusing through its contents. He checked the fold where cash was kept, raising an eyebrow as he glanced at Taehyung. “You always carry this much cash?”
Taehyung shrugged. “Is having money a crime?”
A smirk pulled at Namjoon’s lips, and he let out a light chuckle. “If you have too much of it at once, yes.” He shook his head and continued to pull things out of Taehyung’s wallet. He pulled his license, credit card – he paused at the heavy feel of the aluminum before continuing – an insurance card, another credit card, and then paused once more, fingers neglecting to move as something caught his attention. He raised his eyebrow, attention piqued by the small polaroid picture that sat tucked away in the back of Taehyung’s wallet. He cocked his head slightly, recognizing the man in the photo as the one who was – hm, in a state of undress – back at the club. The photo wasn’t suggestive; it was candid, but Namjoon recognized his face. He glanced up at Taehyung, pulling the photo from the wallet. He held it in between his index and middle fingers. “He’s cute.” Namjoon said, flicking the polaroid lightly as he held it.
Taehyung’s jaw tensed momentarily as he watched the officer pull the picture of Jimin from his wallet – the picture he’d pulled from the line of photos tacked up at Jimin’s apartment. It was a stupid thing to do, in retrospect, he thought. He made no move to respond.
“Is he your favorite?”
Taehyung furrowed his brows. “What do you mean?”
“Do you know each other well?”
“Those are two different questions, officer.” God, this conversation was like pulling teeth. Don’t let him trip you up.
Namjoon regarded him for a few moments, before exhaling. He reached into a front pocket of his vest, withdrawing a box of cigarettes. Thumbing it open, he placed one in his mouth, before offering the open packet to Taehyung, who shook his head. Namjoon shrugged, flicking a lighter to light the tip of the cigarette, taking a deep inhale before exhaling slowly. The smoke swirled out of his lips, filling the air between them. Taehyung was sourly reminded of cigar smoke.
Namjoon opted to look again at the photo, and then at Taehyung’s license. “Who are you…” He mumbled, ashing the cigarette nonchalantly onto the floor.
“You know, they say the owner’s name is Kim.” Namjoon nodded, placing his cigarette to his lips again. “Do you know something about that?”
Taehyung pursed his lips. What is he fishing for? Maybe I’ll bite. “What do you want, Officer?”
“Me?” Namjoon chuckled lightly, almost feigning his amusement as he jerked his head in a light nod. He exhaled cigarette smoke calmly. “I want to know what you’re doing there.” He rested his elbows on the table, leaning forward once more. “I remember you. I recognize you. I’ve seen you there before.” He took another drag, ashing absentmindedly. “You’re there often, correct? You don’t... partake.” It took Namjoon a second to settle on the right word. “Up until recently, you’ve remained relatively… safe. A wallflower kind of guy, right?” he nodded to himself. “But, recently, you’ve become more… involved.” He sat on the last word, pondering if it was the right one. “You’re the only one who the tapes skipped.” His eyes were focused, scrutinizing, analyzing. “I’m not going as far as to say that you’re the owner.” Namjoon scrubbed out his cigarette on the edge of the table, dropping the remnant of it on the floor without letting his gaze leave Taehyung. “But it seems that the only two options here are that you are, or you know where he is.”
“Mm.” Taehyung hummed, and leaned to settle back in his chair. He thrummed his fingers on the surface of the table idly. He wondered what the officer meant about the “tapes” – he couldn’t place it, even as his eyes trailed the remnants of the cigarette falling to the floor. Taehyung almost chuckled to himself at the novelty of it, this – all of it. And now, thinking about it, if he had anything to be grateful to Seokjin for, it was teaching him how to play the game – and play it well. His demeanor shifted; Namjoon caught on easily, and it piqued his interest.
“You know what I think,” Taehyung’s eyes roamed lazily to the name displayed on the front of his chest, “Officer Kim?” The corner of his lips tugged into a small smirk. “I think you’re bullshit.”
Namjoon was intrigued; somewhere along the way, he’d struck a nerve.
“I think the trespass charge is bullshit. I think you don’t know who I am,” Taehyung let out an almost mocking chuckle, “because if you did, you’d know the basis of your arrest is, like you, absolute bullshit.” He reached for the box on the table and pulled a cigarette from the table, slipping it into his mouth. “You mind?” He arched an eyebrow, flicking his thumb in request for a lighter. Namjoon obliged him, withdrawing his lighter from his pocket and flicking it on; Taehyung leaned forward to light the cigarette, relishing in the relief that the nicotine coursed through his veins. “The camera outside of the club. Was it you?” Taehyung pulled the cigarette from his mouth, letting it sit delicately in between his fingers as he drummed his free ones on the table.
Namjoon eyed him; so he’d noticed.
“Looked like some kind of press. Maybe I’m just out on a limb here, but either the media is on a trail and you haven’t gotten it,” Taehyung took a drag of his cigarette. As he exhaled, his eyes zoned in on Namjoon’s, challenging his gaze. “Or you were convinced you did, and now you’re not so sure.” The smoke wafted in the space between them, but neither seemed to back down from their gaze. It has to be Seokjin he’s looking for, Taehyung thought. He couldn’t know for sure exactly why; it wouldn’t be surprising to learn that Seokjin was participating in – or leading – any kind of illegal operations. The bottom floor was illegal; or, at least the activities that happened in it were. Was that it? Or was it something different? Was there more to it all than just the bottom floor? Was it that bad, that the cop had been staking out the place, and now some journalist or some kind of press was onto it? Taehyung wondered if Yoongi and Hoseok knew about the media crawling around outside of the club. His mind flashed to Hoseok, to the dinner he’d had with him and Yoongi. “There are some things you don’t know, Taehyung.” What Taehyung did know, now, was this: at some point, he was going to have to bet all in. It was the only way to play this kind of game. He exhaled slowly, deeply. “Am I close?”
Namjoon took a second to observe him; he noted that Taehyung had leaned forward, resting his elbow on the table as he busied himself with his cigarette. Now he’s in. He’s engaged in this conversation. A tight smile spread on his lips. “You seem confident that you are.”
─────•~ ❉ ᯽ ❉ ~•─────
“Yoongi, stop. Seriously, wait–,”
“What, Hoseok? What!?” Yoongi jerked his arm away from Hoseok’s clutches, turning to face him as he fumed.
Hoseok withdrew into himself slightly, wincing at Yoongi’s aggression. “Just talk to me, please.” His jaw set in tension, his expression pulled into one of seriousness. He followed Yoongi once more as they entered their office at The Parthenon.
Yoongi sighed. “I’m sorry.” He rubbed at his face, circling the desk that stood in the room. “Fuck!” He hissed, slamming his hands down on the oak surface of the desk. “Shit.”
“I know, Hoseok. I know.” Yoongi exhaled again, in exasperation. “It happened too fast. I’m sorry. I swear we’ll do something about it, but we can’t right now.” He shook his head.
“Yoongi, what the hell is going on? What the fuck happened?”
Yoongi bit on his bottom lip harshly, chewing it in thought. Hoseok could see thousands of thoughts running in the flicker of his hooded eyes. “I don’t know. We slipped up somewhere. Fuck.” Hoseok could see the anxiety building in the tension of Yoongi’s body. “That fucking prick. Can’t keep his fucking nose out of anyone’s goddamned business.”
“... What did he mean about the tapes?” Hoseok’s eyes rested on Yoongi, who, for the first time he’d ever noticed, flinched slightly under his gaze. “Yoongi.” His voice was low, barely above a whisper. “What night? The last time, you told me they were fine.” He knew there was something wrong, because Yoongi wouldn’t look at him.
“I thought they were. Fuck.” Yoongi hissed.
Hoseok's voice was cautious, tentative. “What is it you’re not telling me?”
Yoongi’s jaw clenched, and he looked up to Hoseok, who could see a falter of the resolve in his eyes. “I’m just trying to protect y–,” he paused. “... this. This place, all of us.” He looked away.
Hoseok’s eyes bore into him. “Tell me what’s happening. Let me help.”
Yoongi looked up at him, conflicted. “Hoseok, I–,” he swallowed. “You know how it’s been lately.” He ground his teeth, stress pulling at every muscle in his body. “Kim will go after anyone. Obviously, we’ve seen it.” His eyes glanced at the clock. “Fuck. We don’t have time.” He straightened up, stepping to leave the room before Hoseok gingerly placed his hand on Yoongi’s arm to keep him there.
“Yoongi. I need to know something, anything. I can’t–,” his mind whirred, trying to keep up with the flurry of things that were happening all at once. He was worried – deeply worried. For Yoongi, for Taehyung, and Jimin, and every one of their employees who were working, dancing the night away in the confines of these four walls, the truth of everything unravelling unbeknownst to all of them. “You know I’m behind you one hundred percent. Right?” Hoseok’s expression steeled; he needed Yoongi to have faith in his resolve. “It’s us.” Hoseok offered a smile, searching to meet Yoongi’s eyes and hold his gaze. “We do this together. It’s the only way it works, right? So let me in.”
It took Yoongi a few moments to meet Hoseok’s gaze; when he did, the sight of his smile washed a sense of relief over him, unfurling the stress in his muscles. He nodded. “I need you to know that I’m just trying to protect us.” His gaze melded with Hoseok’s. “Everything I do, it’s in our best interest.”
Hoseok nodded. “Okay.” He released his hold on Yoongi’s arm.
“The tapes… I really did think they were fine, honestly.” Yoongi sighed. “It wasn’t until he caught it that I realized we messed up.” He paused. “...I messed up. There was a skip, fuck.” He chewed on the inside of his cheek in thought. “I hadn’t planned on Kim inviting Taehyung up to the champagne suite. I thought it was fine, whatever. But, I also didn’t get a heads up that the cop was coming. Our contact missed it, so we inadvertently fucked up the security footage.” He rubbed at his temples. “It wasn’t something we could have seen, Hoseok. There’s a skip when you take him upstairs, until after Kim leaves. It cuts out, but Namjoon’s too fucking smart for his own good, and he caught that Taehyung was in the room on the opposite side of the floor.” He shook his head. “There wasn’t any way to cover it. I’m sure that’s why the officer took him in, there’s no way he doesn’t remember Taehyung from that night. Taehyung–, I know he probably was just trying to help by getting the cop’s attention. He couldn’t have known, that poor fucking idiot.”
Hoseok absorbed everything Yoongi was saying, taking a moment to let it sink in. “... He’s not an idiot.”
Yoongi blinked. “What?”
“Taehyung.” Hoseok’s expression steeled – the seriousness in his face caught Yoongi off guard. “He’s… relentless, and kind of crazy.” A small chuckle escaped his lips as he jerked his head in the habit of his. “But he’s not an idiot.” His lips pulled taut.
“Hoseok… That’s not–,”
“You don’t know him like I do. It’s not that I don’t think he can hold his own, it’s just–,” Hoseok’s voice faltered. “I’m the one who really dragged him into all this. He shouldn’t be there, Yoongi. He shouldn’t be at the police station, going to bat for something that’s not his fucking fault. Right? It’s none of his fucking concern. He’ll pull it upon himself, because that’s the kind of guy that he is. But he’s not an idiot.” Hoseok met Yoongi’s eyes. “He can figure shit out, I know he can, and he will. He cares too much to see me – to see us – in trouble. I know, because I… I would do exactly the same for him.” His gaze conveyed the determination in his voice, the resolve behind his friendship that he would take to his grave.
Yoongi eyed him wearily, and took the opportunity to glance at the clock. “We need to go, Hoseok.”
“You shouldn’t have sent the picture.”
Yoongi froze. He decided to drop that now? He peered at Hoseok. “What?”
“The picture last night, of Taehyung. You told Kim he was here.” Hoseok’s jaw clenched. “Yoongi, I need you to know that if you throw him to the wolves,” Hoseok paused, his voice wavering slightly, “I will go down with him.”
A wave of emotion rattled through Yoongi’s chest, and it made his chest feel hollow. But I need you with me. He swallowed his words, and the emotions that came with them, setting solemnity into his expression. “Let’s go. All of our underground boys will need to be moved to the hotel, cars need to be sent already. We have to do it quietly. And Hoseok,” he paused, swallowing pride that sat sourly behind his teeth. “I’m not going to throw you anywhere. I… need you with me.” With that, he left the office abruptly, neglecting to allow Hoseok any more time to discuss any of the things that may have been left unsaid.
─────•~ ❉ ᯽ ❉ ~•─────
“Wait, what the fuck?” Jeongguk patted at his forehead with a towel, sitting on a European marble countertop; it served as part of a communitive vanity for the dancers in the expanse of a luxurious dressing room on the top floor. He brought his legs up to cross them, eyes wide at Jimin’s words as they sank into his head. “He got arrested?!”
“Shh–!” Jimin waved him off, glancing around in case of any other ears nearby. “Min doesn’t want anyone to know. I think they were planning a raid, Guk. Or they are. I don’t know.” Jimin shook his head. “He took Taehyung just for being downstairs.” He swallowed hard, the image of the gun, now settled in his bag with Taehyung’s abandoned cell phone, swirling in his mind. “The cops have to know something at this point. Min wanted me to tell you that they’re moving tonight’s clients to the hotel.”
Jeongguk blinked. “The L’Estrange? Seriously?” He furrowed his brows. “I don’t know if… The Doctor, I don’t think he–,”
Jimin nodded. “I don’t know, either. I don’t think the bosses can do much if any of them say no. Min told me to go to the hotel, just in case, but I can wait for you.”
Jeongguk cocked his head. “Wait for me?”
“Main floor is still closing at 2.” Jimin leaned his back against the edge of the counter, and ran his fingers through his hair. “Boss wants to finish the night like normal. I don’t think him and Jung really have a choice.”
“Wait.” Jeongguk pursed his lips, the glitter in his eyes shifting as he glanced around in thought. “What was Taehyung doing downstairs?”
“Oh–,” Shit. “He asked to see me tonight. Before our client.” He did his best to adopt a nonchalant tone in his voice.
“Even then.” Jeongguk furrowed his brow. “It’s way early.”
“He–,” Jimin felt his heart quicken pace. “He brought me some coffee.”
“Ah.” Jeongguk nodded with a pout; he remembered Taehyung saying Hoseok wanted coffee. He didn’t bring me any coffee.
“Yeah.” Jimin glanced over at Jeongguk; it was then that he caught the glint of hoop earrings that he hadn’t seen on Jeongguk before. He peered at them; it took Jeongguk a moment to notice Jimin leaning in to look closer at him.
Jeongguk blinked. “What?”
“Those earrings. They’re new?”
Jeongguk felt the apples of his cheeks flush and moved to cover his face with the small towel as if continuing to pat off sweat that wasn’t entirely there. “Mm, yeah.” He smiled sheepishly. “They were a gift from Taehyung. Cute, right?” He smiled.
Jimin’s eyes moved away from the earrings to Jeongguk’s face, a curious look in them. “Love.”
Jeongguk paused from wiping at his neck with the towel and blinked. “What?”
“They’re called ‘love’ earrings.” He nodded slightly to himself, habitually bringing a hand to run his fingers through his hair. “Yeah, they’re pretty.” The heated conversation he’d had with Taehyung swirled in Jimin’s mind. “Anyway,” Jimin broke his gaze, waving his hand idly. “Min said he’d let us know if The Doctor agrees to move his booking to the hotel. They’re doing it with everybody. For tonight, at least.”
“And if he doesn’t?”
Jimin shrugged. “I don’t know, honestly. I’m just as lost as anyone, Guk. I don’t… I don’t think Min was expecting this.”
The DJ’s voice on the microphone echoed into the expanse of the dressing room. “Ares stand by. Ares, stand by, baby.”
“Shit, already?” Jeongguk swung his legs over the edge of the counter and pushed himself off of it.
“If I don’t stay, I’ll come get you to go to the hotel at two, okay? If we still keep our booking.” Jimin stepped aside, allowing Jeongguk to fix himself up before going on stage. Jeongguk nodded idly, and he made his way to exit the dressing room. “Guk,” Jimin called after him; he waited for Jeongguk’s attention. “Don’t tell Master Kim. Min’s asked us not to.”
Jeongguk pursed his lips; he nodded slightly before taking his leave.
─────•~ ❉ ᯽ ❉ ~•─────
“October 1st, Mr. Kim. Two weeks ago. Do you remember what you were doing, then? It was a Saturday night.” Namjoon leaned back in his chair, stretching his arms as he settled further into their conversation. There was no clock in the room; the absence of one served a purpose.
Taehyung could feel exhaustion beginning to settle on his shoulders, but he was determined to remain resolute. “I do.” He nodded slightly.
“Where were you?”
“What were you doing at The Parthenon, Mr. Kim?”
“What everyone else does at The Parthenon, officer.”
“And what is that?” Namjoon’s eyes were narrowed on Taehyung, calculating every answer that escaped his lips.
“Having a drink and enjoying company, sir.”
“And is that what you were doing there tonight?”
Taehyung’s expression flattened. How much longer was he going to keep this up? “I’ve already told you that I was bringing coffee to some of the staff tonight.”
“Look, Mr. Kim.” Namjoon exhaled and thumbed at his box of cigarettes, withdrawing another from inside. “If I’m being honest, I don’t give a shit what you were doing on the bottom floor.” He pursed his lips around his cigarette, nodding to himself. “I’m curious to know what you’re doing there at all. At that place, in general. Understand?”
Taehyung cocked an eyebrow, observing the officer from across the table. He rolled his neck to clear the shroud of fatigue that weighed heavily on his focus. I’m tired. “Sir, if I may?” His tone began to adopt the arrogant aura that had laced his words earlier, settling into his demeanor in place of exhaustion in the hopes it would steel his tenacity. “You remember me, right? It seems you have a lot of questions that no one will answer.” A light chuckle escaped his lips, thinking of the whirlwind of confusion that had begun to storm through his mind as he discovered new things about the world in which The Parthenon opened up to. “Since you don’t give a shit what I was doing down there, why don’t we skip the formalities? Let’s focus on something more important. I’m a good man, I came here for a reason, right?” He smirked. When he received a scrutinizing look from Namjoon, his expression steeled. “Or, I could ask if I’m being detained.” He leaned forward, his gaze challenging Namjoon as he rested his arms on the table. “You would say no, and I would walk out of here, because you have no reason to detain me. So, with that being said… What do you really have me here for?”
Namjoon regarded him apprehensively. He took a long drag from his cigarette, eyes shifting as they seemed to weigh thoughts and options in front of him. Silently, he reached towards the device recording their exchange; he fumbled with it for a second, flipping a switch. The light on the device stuttered before flicking off. “Shit.” He grabbed it and turned it over in his hand to inspect it.
Taehyung raised an eyebrow, silently observing him fumbling with the device.
“Fuck. That’s the second one this week.” The cigarette bobbed in between his lips as he thumbed at the switches, peering at it curiously before setting it back down on the table. His eyes flickered in front of him as if weighing options, before he finally reached for the manila folder that had been sitting abandoned. He flipped it open and thumbed through the pages. “You can guess that I’ve been on that place for a while.” Namjoon jostled the folder, gesturing to the many documents that rested inside. “Are you close with the staff there, Kim Taehyung?”
Taehyung observed him, attempting to sneak a glance at the papers. He shrugged. “It depends on your definition of ‘close’.”
Namjoon smirked and nodded his head, before sliding a paper across the table to place in front of Taehyung. “Do you recognize this man?”
Taehyung furrowed his brows at the photo of a middle aged man in a white medical coat, before his breath stuttered at the realization. His mind flashed to just that morning, standing in Youngjae’s hospital room. “I will be overseeing Mr. Choi during his stay.”
Youngjae’s doctor. Taehyung tried his hardest to control his reaction, lest his expression betray him. He could feel Namjoon’s eyes bearing holes in his skull.
“Doctor Yu Youngchul.” Namjoon observed Taehyung’s face closely. “Reportedly a frequent patron of that place, except I’ve never seen him. Have you?”
It felt as though the thoughts in Taehyung’s mind were a barreling train, the sound of scraping metal screaming as it came to a halt. “No fucking way.” There was no way. Jimin’s and Jeongguk’s voices swirled in his head – “The Doctor”. That was just a name of reference, right? It had to be some sort of coincidence, some sort of misunderstanding in the ambiguity of it all. Was that client actually a doctor? Taehyung hadn’t thought to ask – the absolute irony of it made him want to bash his head into the table. He’d only seen that man this morning, in Youngjae’s hospital room; he had no idea of what the “Doctor” client looked like, and he felt the sudden burning need to talk to Jimin again. If it was the same person – Taehyung felt the film of red coating his vision. His own words echoed in his mind: “Whoever has done all of that to you…I’ll fucking kill them.”
Taehyung blinked out of his daze. He cleared his throat. “I’ve never seen him there, no.” It wasn’t a lie.
“We have reason to believe, Mr. Kim, that there are illicit activities happening in the confines of that building.” Namjoon’s eyes flickered over Taehyung. “You wouldn’t know anything about that, would you?”
“That is a vague question to answer, officer.”
Taehyung, who’d been looking down at the table in front of him, raised his gaze to meet Namjoon’s with an arched eyebrow. “Excuse me?”
“You don’t have to call me by my title. Kim Namjoon is my name.”
Taehyung nodded slowly, scrutinizing the officer’s choice for informality. “Okay, Mr. Kim Namjoon.” He crossed his arms and leaned back in his chair as he eyed his Patek watch resting on the table, having been spilled from the ziploc bag with his wallet and keys. Shit, what time was it?
Namjoon’s eyes followed Taehyung’s, and he nodded. He’s wearing down. “I know it’s been a long night, Mr. Kim–,”
The calculative expression never left Namjoon’s face. “... Taehyung. But, like you’ve so sharply deduced, I’ve been on this place for a while, so you can understand that I won’t let any lead run cold.” Taehyung simply nodded idly in acknowledgment. Namjoon had come so far, and it wasn’t a lie that he hadn’t gotten as far as he would have liked to with this investigation by now. Something told him that Taehyung knew something – whether it would benefit their investigation or detriment it, there was no way of knowing. He had come to realize his investigation relied on the fruits of a gamble – without risk, there was no reward. “We have reason to believe the owner of the place is running illicit activities through the building. A number of things, that you may or may not know of. I’m looking for the owner, but he’s a hard man to find. This man, however–,” Namjoon tapped the corner of the photo that rested in front of Taehyung. “He’s easier, right? Because he’s a medical professional.” He tapped on the medical coat in the picture to further prove his point.
“We’ve only caught two things that lead him to The Parthenon.” Namjoon continued. “A subsidiary company, connected to an P.L.L.C. that is contracted out to another company in relation to the bar.” Namjoon shook his head with a faint chuckle. “It’s a hell of a chain, isn’t it?”
The gears in Taehyung’s brain cranked to work as he followed Namjoon’s words; being business–oriented, it wasn’t hard for him to understand, but filling in the holes with information he didn’t have was going to prove difficult. He thought about it for a second: a company contracted with some kind of ties to The Parthenon. It meant that the middle company had to provide certain licensed services; realization dawned on him, and dread began to seep like acid in his stomach as flashes of memories from the club burned in his mind – medical. The Parthenon has medical services. One thing that was certain, was that doctors filed their practice under that kind of company. How fucking ironic, would it be then, to find that not only “The Doctor” client was an actual medical professional – but providing medical contract services in exchange for what, sex services? Taehyung’s mind settled on Jimin, and the marks on his body, and he felt the sudden searing of a scream perched inside his throat. He swallowed it dryly before he pushed his words together with caution. “What’s the second thing?”
Namjoon eyed him for a moment before flipping through papers and withdrawing another few from the folder. “Medical malpractice suit.” He hesitated to show the documents to Taehyung, before his mind became insistent on it – you need to get something here. The documents were spread in front of Taehyung, who visibly fought to calm his instant reaction. Among some worded documents were photos – quite graphic photos of a young man’s body. The person in the photo looked no older than early twenties, if that. Taehyung swallowed dryly; the marks on the boy’s body brought images of Jimin’s body searing to the forefront, and he tried desperately to fight them away. The resemblance was uncanny, though – that fact alone racked chills up Taehyung’s spine. He looked away, feeling uncomfortable about staring at photos of a young man’s naked body, exposed and marked for all eyes to see through the lens of a camera. “What am I looking at, Off–, Mr. Kim?” The name sat sourly in his mouth. Mr. Kim.
Namjoon made no move to rescind the photos, and instead observed Taehyung’s reaction intently. “This man–, this boy…” He nodded at the photos. “To spare the details, he was in for a medical procedure. He came out of anesthesia. According to the suit, he was being assaulted – reportedly by Dr. Yu.” He cocked an eyebrow slightly, zoning in on Taehyung as the latter glanced up from the photos to meet his eyes. “Sexually assaulted.”
That caught Taehyung’s attention; he felt the hair on the back of his neck bristle. He glanced back down at the photos, biting down on his lip in thought. What does this have to do with the club? What does this have to do with me?
“You can imagine, Taehyung,” Namjoon cleared his throat. “That with this kind of information, I wouldn’t let up a lead so easily, right?” Namjoon nodded to himself. “This man concerns me not only because of the suit, but because of the ties he seems to have to that place, The Parthenon.” He tapped the cigarette against the table to rid it of the accumulating ash, before taking another inhale of smoke. “I’m well aware of the, hm… nature, of that place. It’s not a wonder that someone of those…” He paused. “Preferences, is there, that’s not what I’m getting at. But you understand, with the rumors… I’m curious to know what someone with that kind of background, this kind of background–,” he motioned to the photos. “What is he getting from there – who is providing it – and what is he giving in exchange. Do you understand what I mean?”
Taehyung’s eyes flickered over the photos and documents, taking it all in. So he’s looking for Seokjin, but he can’t get a hold on him. Is this the next best thing, then? The gears in his brain began to click faster as he strained to put together information. If he has business ties to The Parthenon… What the fuck is really happening here? Does Hoseok know about this? He has to, he fucking runs the place. What is going on? This guy, this doctor… He might be the one that topples the entire thing over, the card that takes the entire house down. A million thoughts were firing like pistons in Taehyung’s head – a decision had to be made. Involving himself in any of this would be absolute – once he was in, there wouldn’t be any backing out. It was now or never, and it was then he decided that he’d have to thank Seokjin one of these days, preferably with the barrel of a gun pressed to the other man’s skull. He leaned back in his chair with a small nod. “So you want him.” He gestured at the picture of Dr. Yu. “There has to be a reason you don’t have him already, what is it?”
Namjoon’s jaw clenched slightly. “We need due cause.” He shook his head. “We don’t have explicit proof of this man specifically engaging in illegal activities at that club. It’s…” He seemed visibly upset at the words that came from his mouth. “It’s a hunch. My hunch.”
Yoongi was right. Namjoon was, in fact, smart. Intuitive. Taehyung nodded. He chewed on his cheek in thought as his mind rested on Jimin. He considered his words carefully; another glance at the photos on the table of Dr. Yu’s victim convinced him further. “How old?” He jerked his chin at the photos.
“Twenty, now. Nineteen at the time.”
Taehyung wasn’t surprised, because the boy in the photos did in fact look young – but the thought still sickened him. Fuck that bastard. “I’ll help you.”
Namjoon glanced up at him with curious apprehension. “Excuse me?”
“You want this guy, right?” He waved at the photo of Dr. Yu. “If he is who you think he might be, you’ll get him.”
“But…” Namjoon narrowed his eyes.
A faint smirk pulled at Taehyung’s lips. He leaned forward, interlacing his fingers and resting his elbows on the table. “But, we’ll have to make a deal.” Namjoon remained silent, so Taehyung continued. “Immunity, Mr. Kim.”
“... Namjoon.” Taehyung nodded.
Namjoon raised his eyebrow. “You want immunity?”
Taehyung chuckled lightly. “Not just me.” He shook his head. “Though I would insist on it, now that we’re here. No, not only for me… For the club.” He didn’t miss the way Namjoon was taken aback by his request. “The club doesn’t get touched, and you only take him.” He pointed at the photo of Dr. Yu. “No one else.” His gaze was challenging, defiant. “No one who’s involved. None of the employees.”
“That’s a big request.”
“It’s a big catch.” Taehyung shrugged. “The owner… He’s evaded you for this long, right? This is your only lead, isn’t it?” He didn’t miss the shift in Namjoon’s demeanor, the air surrounding him felt defensive.
“Well, now that you’re here, I suppose I can consider you a lead, too.” Namjoon’s eyes narrowed. “Why don’t you just tell me where the owner is, then, and I won’t arrest you for obstruction of justice?”
A light scoff escaped Taehyung’s lips. “Is that a threat?” He leaned forward, his weight pressed down on his arms as he stared Namjoon down. “I never said I know where he is. You have to know that if you take down the club, he will disappear with it.” A small smile played at the corner of his mouth. “You know that, don’t you? You’ll lose everything you’ve worked for. If you really want him, Namjoon... Take the deal, or don’t. It’s up to you.” Taehyung leaned back in his chair and covered a yawn with his hand as he stretched; he put on an expression of disinterest.
Namjoon regarded Taehyung with intrigue. After a few moments he let out a light laugh, nodding as he leaned back in his chair. “You talk like you own the place, Taehyung.”
Taehyung smirked, eyes lazily resting on Namjoon with a tinge of fueled defiance.
─────•~ ❉ ᯽ ❉ ~•─────
Leaving the police department was exhausting in itself; Taehyung’s things were returned to him, minus his phone; it had taken him a bit of time to remember that he’d thrown it in anger in Jimin’s suite, and that had left him to wonder just where it was. In the end, he’d thought better than to use the phone at the police department, and instead opted to simply walk out of the place, the cold biting through the thin fabric of his shirt until he’d made it down the street and flagged down a taxi. Exhausted and reeling from the chaos that was this entire night, Taehyung fought the urge to nod off in the backseat. Not too long later, he arrived back at his apartment, sluggishly dragging himself to the elevator. He’d have to figure out a way to find his phone, call Hoseok, figure out whatever the fuck was going on – but for now, he was grateful to be home, and just wanted to crawl into bed and sleep for a solid twelve hours. As he stepped out of the elevator onto his floor, his steps echoed to a halt as he caught sight of someone in front of his door. His first instinct was a sharp tinge of panic; as he realized who it was, his heart still beat fast in his chest, but he wasn’t afraid – the sight of blonde hair reassured him.
Jimin had lost track of how long he’d been sitting at the foot of Taehyung’s doorstep; he rested his back against the wall, almost nodding off in the silence of the hallway. The sound of the elevator alarmed him, and as he watched Taehyung step out of the opened doors, he felt a swelling of emotions in his chest. His breath caught as they met eyes, and Jimin blinked, scrambling to stand up. He swallowed hard as Taehyung approached him. “Taehyung.” His voice was more hoarse than he would have liked; the emotions betraying the truth behind his demeanor.
Taehyung stared at him for a few moments, then looked at his door and raised his eyebrow. “Didn’t let yourself in this time?”
Jimin winced; he couldn’t place Taehyung’s feelings through his voice, and the hostility caught him off guard. He avoided the question, instead fishing a cellphone from the pocket of the jacket he wore – Taehyung’s jacket. “Uhm. I… brought your phone. And, uh. Your jacket.” He wiggled his arms a bit to gesture at the obvious article of clothing draped on his body. The way that Taehyung regarded him chilled his blood – Jimin hadn’t noticed how intimidating Taehyung’s gaze could be.
“Oh, thanks.” Taehyung nodded and plucked the phone from Jimin’s hand. “The jacket… You’ll be cold if you leave without it. Keep it.” He stepped around Jimin, moving to unlock his door.
Jimin looked down at the jacket dejectedly. “I already have one of yours. I’ll be alright.” He moved to shrug it off, before realizing Taehyung was opening his door. “Taehyung, wait–,” Jimin moved to reach out for him; he only hesitated after the ice in Taehyung’s gaze raised chills on his skin. The cold outside didn’t seem to compare, and maybe he did need the jacket – more so for now than he would once he was out of Taehyung’s vicinity. The man that boiled the heat of desire in his veins now made him feel like he was walking on ice.
“Your appointment.” Taehyung interrupted. “What time is it at?” He glanced at his watch, resting where it belonged, dangling heavily on his wrist. It was already past 2 A.M..
“It’s, uh…” Jimin swallowed dryly. “It’s not happening.” Jimin’s eyes fell – whether it was because he couldn’t keep contact with Taehyung’s gaze or for some other reason, he couldn’t be sure.
Jimin shook his head. “Min shut it down for tonight.”
“Good.” Taehyung nodded curtly. He didn’t miss the way Jimin didn’t move, and thought for a second before withdrawing his wallet from his pocket. Jimin watched him with curious confusion as Taehyung pulled the entire stack of bills that were tucked in the wallet. “Sorry, I didn’t get to pay before I left. Here.”
Confused, Jimin opened his mouth to protest as Taehyung pressed the money into his hand. “Wha–, what? I didn’t–, Tae–,”
“Be safe going home. Keep the jacket. Goodnight, Jimin.”
Jimin’s eyes stared into the silence that met him, the only deafening noise being the closing of Taehyung’s front door in his face. His mouth dropped open slightly, taken aback. That’s it? Dumbfounded, he stood for moments that felt like hours – was that really it? He stared down at the bills in his hand and frowned. Taehyung had never been the one to walk away, to leave him standing with heavy air entangled with thoughts that wrapped around his throat to suffocate him; it was always Jimin that walked – or ran – away. But, he realized, maybe Taehyung had never done a lot of things before they met. With a piercing feeling in his chest, he swallowed down his emotions and, after staring at the door for another minute, he turned on his heel and walked away. He’d be lying if he said that he wasn’t waiting for Taehyung to open the door and call him in – but somehow, past the piercing void within his chest, he knew that wouldn’t happen.
Maybe it was the sobriety in the midst of dealing with the events of tonight and the weeks before him, but Taehyung was asleep before his head hit the pillow. He was awakened abruptly to the ringing of his doorbell, signaled in the intercom within his room. Confused and entirely not having it, Taehyung turned in bed to ignore it. He scrunched his face and groaned as it rang again; and then a third time, in a certain rhythm. His eyes shot open and he sat up instantly; he shuffled over to the display and, to his happiness or dismay, caught sight on the video feed of Hoseok – a very exhausted looking Hoseok. The only person he’d let unexpectedly awaken him at – what time was it? He peeked the sight of faint light spilling in from under dark curtains, and grimaced.
The video display hardly did any kind of justice to the sight that Taehyung laid eyes on when he opened the door; Hoseok’s face, normally bright and chipper, was sunk with exhaustion. His eyes were puffy, a little red, and the fatigue was so apparent in his face and slumped shoulders that it made Taehyung slightly concerned. Nonetheless, Hoseok smiled when he saw Taehyung – a weak, relieved, grateful smile.
“Hyung.” Taehyung smiled and opened his mouth to continue speaking, but was cut off by an abrupt hug. Hoseok threw himself over the threshold, into Taehyung’s arms, clutching around his waist like he was afraid the floor would cave right then and there and swallow Taehyung with it, and he’d be damned if he wasn’t swallowed with him. Taehyung blinked in surprise, and his heart sank as he returned the embrace warmly, and felt Hoseok’s shoulders heaving as sobs escaped his body. “Hyung? Shh, hey, it’s okay.”
“I’m–, I’m so sorry I didn’t go get you, Taehyung. Fuck, I’m so glad you’re here.” Hoseok’s breaths came in gasps, as if inhaling only set fire to his lungs.
Taehyung frowned. “Hyung—,”
“I was so worried, I’m so fucking sorry Taehyungie.” Hoseok’s voice broke completely on his name, and he crumbled in Taehyung’s arms, crying with no inhibition. “I’m s–so, sor–, sorry...”
Though he was confused and a bit alarmed, Taehyung pulled him closer, hugged him tighter. He pet Hoseok’s hair fondly, rubbing circles in his back to calm him. “Shh, it's okay.” He held Hoseok even as his sobs shook his body, even as he apologized for reasons Taehyung didn’t exactly know. He quieted him gently, scrunching his face only as he noticed the living area of his apartment getting brighter. “Come on. Let’s go to bed.” He patiently waited for Hoseok to calm down, holding him just as warmly in his embrace as he did so, and not only until Hoseok was ready to move did Taehyung guide him to the bedroom.
Gingerly, Taehyung helped him undress – it was rare to see Hoseok like this. It didn’t happen often, but when it did, it was bad; Hoseok was resilient in his optimistic resolve, until he wasn’t. Hoseok was worn down, burnt out, and maybe feeling other things that Taehyung didn’t know of. Taehyung’s eyes regarded him carefully and with concern. “Do you want to shower, hyung?”
Hoseok was silent, staring down into no particular spot. His gaze looked empty as he shook his head, the faintest movement that Taehyung might have missed if he wasn’t so focused on him.
The refusal drove home just how badly Hoseok was feeling – how exhausted and overwhelmed he was, and must have been. Taehyung’s heart hurt for him, and he nodded in understanding as he offered fresh pajamas, slipping Hoseok into them as gently as he could manage. He pulled back the covers for Hoseok, waiting until he curled up into his bed to tuck him in and sidle under the covers with him. Taehyung opened his arms in question, an offering without saying any words – Hoseok accepted, turning to face away Taehyung and cuddling up to him. They fit together well, after all their years of shared affection and friendship – and Taehyung wouldn’t have it any other way. He pet Hoseok’s arm gently and hugged against him, the feeling of needing to protect his friend welling in his chest. “I got you, hyung.” Taehyung whispered, hugging him close. “I got you.”
Taehyung waited until Hoseok’s breathing became deep and even before submitting to slumber himself, with Hoseok held protectively in his arms. They fell asleep soundly, legs entangled with one another, as the rest of the world came to life with the rising dawn.
Taehyung was the first to awake. He shifted slightly, his arm having gone numb after being under Hoseok’s neck as support while Taehyung coddled him in their sleep. He didn’t bother to move it, because he was in no particular hurry to move Hoseok; he knew his friend was exhausted, and needed all the rest he could get. He didn’t know what time it was; he didn’t care. He laid there for a good while as consciousness slowly returned to him – it gave him ample time for the events of last night to trickle back into his mind, reminding him of the chaos that reverberated even in the silence of a Sunday afternoon. During the daytime, in the mornings (or, more often than not, afternoons) upon waking up after a weekend night out, it all seemed so… surreal. Often, Taehyung had to remind himself of events that otherwise, he would be sure he’d dreamt up. His mind floated somewhere between Jimin, Jeongguk, The Parthenon, and the police station. He’d somehow managed to get arrested last night, for fuck’s sake.
A stirring in his arms broke him from his daydreaming. Taehyung blinked, and let out a small laugh at the sight of Hoseok’s hair sticking up in every direction as he awoke. “G’morning, hyung.” He observed Hoseok as the latter squinted his eyes and scrunched his face, confusion painting his features for a minute as he looked around the room. Oh, right. He’s never been here before. His thoughts were interrupted as feeling began to creep back into his arm, pricking pins and needles while his circulation returned.
“Taehyungie?” Hoseok’s voice was hoarse with sleep as he turned in bed to face the owner of the arms that encircled him. “Where the hell–,”
Taehyung flashed him a fond smile, rubbing circles lightly on his waist. “New place, remember?”
Hoseok’s eyes were still squinted, and his lips pursed into a pout as he thought about it. “Oh, yeah.” He rubbed the sleep from his eyes before glancing around again. He let out a low whistle, and Taehyung laughed. “It’s nice.” He offered a small nod. “What time is it? Shit, Yoongi–,”
“Hyung.” Taehyung slithered his arms around Hoseok’s waist and pulled him closer as he snuggled him back into the comfort of the bed. “Five more minutes.”
Hoseok let out a laugh; his normal laugh, and it took Taehyung aback how relieved he was to hear it. The silence that ensued, though, felt heavy on them both – and Taehyung realized that last night must have crept back into Hoseok’s mind, too. It was silent for maybe those five minutes that Taehyung had asked for, before it was interrupted by a low growl of Hoseok’s stomach. Taehyung bit his lip, trying to stifle a laugh before being unsuccessful in doing so. “Breakfast?” Taehyung asked.
Hoseok giggled. “Ugh, yes. Please. Can I borrow some clothes, Taehyungie? I need to shower.”
Taehyung smiled. “Of course, hyung. Can I join you?”
Hoseok’s smile was fond, and his eyes were sparkling with warmth once again. “Always.”
─────•~ ❉ ᯽ ❉ ~•─────
“We need to talk, don’t we?”
A defeated sigh. “Yeah, I guess we do.”
The sounds of bustling activity, silverware clattering, and the smell of coffee swirled around the pair as they sat in a café – it all mingled with the words they’d shared in the midst of their shower together, something Taehyung had deeply missed. Taehyung and Hoseok shared an unspoken understanding that maybe they should enjoy their breakfast – if one could call it breakfast at 2:30 P.M. – before delving into the things that they maybe needed to talk about. Taehyung hadn’t been to this café since he’d come with Jimin after that one unforgettable night – it seemed like forever ago.
“Yoongi is glad to hear you’re okay.” Hoseok offered to start a conversation as he set his phone down.
Taehyung, though with little malevolent intention, let out a scoff. He didn’t move to retract it, or justify it, either – he simply nodded curtly, attention elsewhere as he looked out the windows of the café absentmindedly. “Is he?”
Hoseok’s lips pursed into a line as he observed Taehyung. He waved down the waitress, requesting an iced americano either as a buffer, or because he simply wanted it. He’d devoured his plate of food – Taehyung’s sat off to the side, half eaten and forgotten. He waited for the waitress to leave before speaking again. “Taehyung, I was so wor–,”
“He didn’t seem to care about my wellbeing when he told the cop to, huh–,” Taehyung’s eyes wandered back to the conversation along with his attention, and he rested his gaze on Hoseok. “‘Take me out the back’.”
Hoseok winced. “Taehyung, he didn’t mean–,”
“I really don’t give a shit what he meant, Hoseok.” Taehyung knew his friend would get defensive as soon as the words left his mouth, and he sunk into himself.
“Hey, watch your mouth.” Hoseok frowned. “There’s no need to be disrespectful, Taehyung.” He sighed – his face brightened with a friendly smile as the waitress returned with his drink. He took a long, satisfying sip before continuing. “Look. There’s… a lot, Taehyungie. So much. I don’t know where to start. I–,... I didn’t think about anything except whether you were okay, man. I know we need to have a conversation, but, shit, I don’t know. I wasn’t prepared for this.” His face was solemn. “None of us were.”
Hoseok was right about one thing – it was a lot. For the amount of questions Taehyung had, he couldn’t realistically expect that Hoseok had all the answers. He stared into his glass of water, as if searching the contents would hold the answers he was so desperately looking for. In the midst of the chaos that wreaked havoc on his mind, it mostly circled back to one subject – Jimin.
“Jimin told me that you shut it down last night.”
It wasn’t the first question that Hoseok was expecting – maybe not any of the ones he was expecting. He blinked as he absorbed it. “The…” he peered around nervously. “After hours? Yeah.” He nodded. “Well… not necessarily.” Taehyung raised an eyebrow and peered at him. “We moved the appointments to the hotel. The ones that were willing to keep their bookings, anyway.” Hoseok sighed. Talking about work was draining – it was also a stark reminder that they’d taken a major financial loss last night. He narrowed his eyes. “You’ve spoken to Jimin?”
Taehyung blinked. Oops. “Uh, yeah. He… stopped by my place last night. He had my phone. I left it there when I got uh, you know. Arrested.”
“So that’s why you never answered. I called you a million times, shit.”
Taehyung’s eyes wandered as he attempted to redirect the conversation. “Hey, that too. A hotel?” He leaned forward. “When the fuck did you get a hotel, hyung? And with Yoongi? What’s that about?” He frowned. “And why didn’t you tell me?”
Hoseok sighed. Fuck. This was a lot. He cracked his neck, stretching before slumping into his chair. “The hotel… was a gift. From the boss.” He paused. “The big boss. It was originally just for Yoongi, but he insisted that my name go on the papers, too.” He fidgeted in his seat, glancing outside. “Taehyung, can we go for a walk? I know it’s cold, but... I’ll explain as much as I can, I promise.”
Taehyung regarded him for a moment. “Actually, will you come with me? I need to go on a quick errand. We can talk on the way, or when we go home.” His eyes softened, and he bit his lip before reaching across the table to place his hand on Hoseok’s.
Hoseok smiled. “Does that mean you want me going home with you tonight, Taehyungie?” He wiggled his eyebrows and rubbed his thumb along Taehyung’s skin warmly as he held his hand.
Taehyung chuckled. “Always, hyung.”
Hoseok’s interest was piqued when they arrived at a hospital not too long after. The hospital was nice; definitely not public, and as he watched Taehyung speak to the receptionist, he wondered just what “errand” Taehyung needed to run. He simply followed along, though, and they shared a somewhat comfortable silence as they rode the elevator up many floors. It wasn’t until they arrived at the room and entered, that Hoseok’s stomach dropped. He’d followed behind Taehyung, feeling more nervous until they entered the room, and he caught sight of a man hooked up to machines, and the silence of a room bursting with absence.
It took a few minutes for Hoseok to recognize the man, and he stifled a gasp as it came back to him. “Tae–,” he choked. “Is this–,”
“Youngjae.” Taehyung’s eyes rested on Youngjae, the silence in the room destroyed by the deafening sound of machines working to keep his body alive. “My boss.” He pulled up a chair, laying his hand on top of Youngjae’s as he pushed a strand of hair out of the man’s face. Hoseok fidgeted as he stood by the foot of the bed. Taehyung took a few moments – long, silent moments – before his eyes flickered up to meet Hoseok’s. “Something happened the other night, hyung. There’s something else. His doctor–,” he was cut off by the sound of the door opening. Taehyung stretched to look past Hoseok, and his eyes narrowed. Speak of the devil.
Hoseok’s eyes widened at the voice behind him – it sounded oddly familiar. He turned to look at the person who’d just entered the room, and the second he met their gaze, he was sure the color began to drain from his face. Immediately covering his reaction, he bowed politely. He plastered a polite smile on his face – relatively easy for him to do. Yoongi’s words from years ago echoed in his head.
“I know it’s a lot to take in.” Yoongi set out a slew of papers in front of Hoseok, who stared at the sheer volume of documents on the desk before him. He could feel Yoongi regarding him with apprehension, but maybe, if he wasn’t mistaken – a bit of fondness, too? Actually, maybe it was contempt, and Hoseok was just being optimistic.
“The contracts are non–negotiable. So are our relations with clients. This is extremely important, Hoseok.” Yoongi’s voice snapped Hoseok to attention. “The contracts are signed for a reason. If you ever happen to come across a client outside of these walls, and you probably will…” Yoongi paused. His voice was as serious as ever, and the look in his eyes was deadly. “You are never to acknowledge previous acquaintance. Ever.” His tone sent chills up Hoseok’s spine. “No matter the circumstance. I don’t give a fuck if you see one of our highest bidding clients bleeding out on the fucking sidewalk with a gash to his face.” Hoseok winced. Out of all analogies, he had to go with that? Yoongi’s eyes narrowed. “You don’t look twice. Shit, you don’t look once. You mind your goddamn fucking business, because as far as anyone’s concerned, you’ve never met the guy. Understood?”
Hoseok nodded. “Can I ask… Why?”
As Hoseok recalled, he probably had so many stars in his eyes at the time – still new to being a leader in a world that he’d only dipped his feet in as a dancer.
“We don’t exist, Hoseok. That’s why.” Yoongi’s expression had softened slightly; or maybe it was, again, contempt, but Hoseok wouldn’t believe it. “Our clients come here and they’re off the grid. You know what we do here. On another level, besides just the main floors… We provide an escape. That comes with protections – we have to guarantee everyone’s safety. Yours, mine, our boys, and our clients.” Yoongi sighed. “That means being as nonexistent as possible. The nature of it all is really fucking fragile, and now you’ll be shouldering some of the responsibility of protecting a house with glass walls. One stone thrown at the right time, and the right place, and we’re exposed for the world to see. We can’t allow anyone to be taken down with us at any point in time. Do you understand?”
Hoseok wasn’t sure he had understood the magnitude of any of it at the time – but he was eager, and optimistic, and happy to help. He was honored that he’d been given the opportunity to be someone in a world that hadn’t been entirely nice to him. He was naive, maybe, but eager. Eager to have responsibility, eager to help Yoongi as they navigated the world that opened only in a certain place, at a certain time – the wonderland that was held in the confines of The Parthenon.
Hoseok’s brow furrowed as he took in Yoongi’s words, but easily relaxed into a smile. “Yes, Mr. Min. I understand.”
Yoongi’s expression, now, had indeed softened – Hoseok was sure of it. The corner of his lip pulled into a slight smile – the most Hoseok had ever seen in his years of working at the club. “It’s not ‘Mr. Min’, anymore, Hoseok. You can call me Yoongi.”
Hoseok had beamed that day, a bright smile that brought with it hope for his future, and a gratitude of working alongside someone he’d admired for a while. “Yoongi.” The name felt foreign on his tongue, but settled like a sweet taste of honey. “I understand, Yoongi.”
And so, now – those words, all that time ago as he prepared to ascend the ladder from dancer to manager – rang in his mind with a bit of alarm. Surprisingly, he’d never really seen any of their clients; not the high–profile ones, anyway, because their worlds – the worlds of their lives during the day – simply did not intersect. But here, in the confines of this hospital room, with Taehyung’s boss lying unconscious on a hospital bed – it had finally happened. Hoseok had come across a client outside of the club.
The doctor’s eyes rested on Hoseok for no more than a second; he offered a nod and redirected his attention to Taehyung instead, who was intently observing Hoseok’s reaction. Dr. Yu cleared his throat. “Mr. Kim, if I remember correctly?”
Taehyung snapped to attention, standing up in formality with a polite bow to the doctor. “Yes, doctor. Good afternoon.”
Dr. Yu’s lips pulled into a tight line, what could maybe be interpreted as an awful attempt at a smile. “Were you planning on visiting your dear friend every day?” He peered at him from over the frames of his glasses; his shoulders shook as he chuckled, and the sound of it made Taehyung’s blood curdle. “I’d assure you, Mr. Kim, that your friend’s condition may not improve from one day to the next. It’s nothing to be worried about, he’s doing well, all things considered.”
Taehyung couldn’t help but scoff, and he felt Hoseok’s eyes on him with a weary look. “I’ll keep that in mind, sir.”
“Dr. Yu.” The odd excuse for a smile played on the doctor’s lips.
Taehyung grimaced. “Of course. Thank you, Dr. Yu.” Without another word, the doctor simply scribbled on Youngjae’s medical chart and left the room. Taehyung scrunched his face in disgust – the photos of the young boy plagued his mind. He looked at Hoseok, searching his face for answers. He’d get them, soon enough.
“You can pull up a chair, hyung. We’ll only be here a little while longer.”
“I can wait outside–,”
Taehyung slumped into his chair, taking Youngjae’s hand in his with a heavy sigh. “Hyung… please.” His voice was pleading, and he made a pointed look to a chair against the wall.
Hoseok nodded solemnly. “Okay.”