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Handle with Care, Fragile

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Chapter One

There's the smell of acid in the air that clings to Seungcheol's clothes. It mixes with the scent of the abandoned warehouse - damp, moldy, and wrong. Seungcheol has stopped caring for it though. Not when it came with the job and he has long since attuned his senses to shut off while he's at work.

But perhaps Seungcheol's indifference stems from the fact that it's always going to smell the same, wherever he goes. Because, the entirety of Seoul stank and it has been stinking up for years. Too much rats in the sewer system, too much rats hiding everywhere. Seungcheol didn't know when the city started smelling like rot and decay, but he supposes its fitting for the people that live in it. 

Including him.  

Seungcheol frowns at the boy beneath him and narrows his eyes. It's their latest job today, but more so of Seungcheol's personal vendetta rather than an instruction from his Father like it usually is these days. He examines the boy, he's young and he looks like he hasn't been doing these things for long. Seungcheol suppresses a sigh, it's always the newbies that get caught in the shit their bosses fuck up.

But Seungcheol doesn't discriminate, after all the boy stole from him

He frowns as another scent hits him and he resists the urge to gag as the smell of ammonia permeates the room. 

Fucking piece of shit pissed himself, Seungcheol thinks, annoyed. He could already feel the crick in his neck and the tightness in his head. 

"Are you gonna talk or am I gonna start putting bullets in your body?" Seungcheol asks and relishes on the fresh wave of fear that courses in the eyes of the boy. Seungcheol almost feels sorry for him, but Seungcheol has stopped feeling sorry for other people a long time ago.

Forgiveness was a cardinal sin, a currency Seungcheol could never afford. 

"Sir, I really don't know what you-" 

Seungcheol rolls his eyes and in the next second he has his fist colliding painfully against the boy's cheek. Seungcheol know's he broken something by the sound and he feels a sick sense of satisfaction at the resulting whimper. He shakes off the tension from his fingers and feels particularly indulgent to let the boy recover, nothing like leading them to think they got a chance. 

"You see son," Seungcheol begins, grabbing the handkerchief from his breast pocket. "I don't like being lied to and I don't like being stolen from." Seungcheol wipes at the pools of blood that had began to split on his knuckles, watches the white cloth bathe in red.

"Too bad, you did both of these things so here we are now. It's not an ideal situation, isn't it?" 

"I really know nothing Sir-I'm only a runner." The man squeaks and Seungcheol purses his lips, at least that was something.

"A runner you say? Who do you work for then?" 

"I-I don't know Sir-"

Seungcheol swings again, this time on the other cheek and the crick on his neck begins to tighten. 

"Worthless piece of shit, aren't you? You don't even know anything about who you're working for and yet you had the guts to steal and lie to me?" Seungcheol grabs a handful of the man's hair and jerks his head to face him.

"So what's it going to be, boy? Bullets or acid?" 

"Sir please no-I really d-don't know anything! 'M sorry! I'll pay you back, Sir! Double! Triple! Whatever you want!" 

Seungcheol laughs, cold and dark and lets go of the boy's hair. He lands a swift blow on his stomach with an angled kick, causing the boy to topple down on his back with a loud crash.  

"You can't pay me shit. Not even if you work like a little bitch for me." Seungcheol spits.

Sure the boy can pay for what little grams of drugs he stole, but would it abate Seungcheol's anger on the knowledge that someone stole from him?

His father raised him better.

The boy beneath him suddenly laughs and Seungcheol is fascinated by his bravery (or was it stupidity?) and lets him have it, one last little laugh. Because, one way or another he won't survive the day anyway.

"Just like that little blond bitch you have on your side?" He hisses and Seungcheol's vision goes red. 

"What the fuck did you just say?"

"Careful, Choi Seungcheol." He laughs with glee and Seungcheol wonders if it's the loss of blood that's making this boy bold or the pure adrenaline he must be running on right now, "He's going to ruin you and your little Family before dragging you to hell with him." 

The boy lifts his neck with whatever little energy he has and outright smirks at Seungcheol before he drops his voice into a mock whisper. "Word has it, he already has." 

But between his breath and the next, there's a bullet lodged on his skull and the red doesn't fade from Seungcheol's vision for a while. 

Fucking piece of shit

"You okay, boss?" He hears Mingyu's ask between the ringing in his ears and Seungcheol waves a hand at him. 

"Peachy." He says, voice gruff as he pockets his gun. "Get someone to clean this up. Let's get the fuck out of here, this place stinks."

"It always does. You can't tell Daddy-o to give us better warehouses next time? Preferably something with nicer accommodations?" The younger grins, kicking the side of an abandoned couch that's stained with God knows what. Seungcheol doesn't want to find out. 

"Sure, I'll tell him to rent us a fucking limo with a bar while we're at it." Seungcheol says as he throws the dirty handkerchief on the ground. No use for it now.

Mingyu barks out a laugh as he sends him a mock salute before grabbing Chan by collar of his shirt and forcing him to stand up from his seat. The boy had been dozing off for the better part of the job on the only relatively clean piece of furniture in the warehouse, and Seungcheol can't find it in him to be pissed. Chan was family and while Seungcheol barely cared for other people during the past years, Chan was different.  

"What the fuck, hyung!" Chan gripes and Mingyu sticks his tongue out of him while Seungcheol rolls his eyes.

He works with a bunch of fucking kids, excellent.

"C'mon Channie, how was your first day of witnessing cold-bloodied murder?" Mingyu asks, voice light as they walk out of the warehouse.

Mingyu's car is waiting for them outside and Seungcheol huffs as he sees that it is yet again, one of the newer models the younger always had a penchant for having. Subtlety went over Mingyu's head like all the other things Seungcheol tells him.

One day, they'll get caught in one of his cherry red rides and he'll only have Mingyu's vanity to blame him for it. 

"I'm not a kid, you annoying twat." Chan replies, swatting at the younger's chest with an elbow. "I've seen worse." 

"You haven't seen Seungcheol-hyung shoot though." Mingyu replies and Chan turns to Seungcheol face unreadable, Seungcheol averts his eyes to the skyline.  

"Whatever." Chan replies and enters the car first before the two.  

"Should we start bringing him to these missions, more?" Mingyu asks and Seungcheol shrugs. 

Frankly he'd rather not involve Chan with his dealings or with his Father's. Chan came to the estate a year ago when Seungcheol basically knew nothing about him except that they shared a few drops of blood. What he knew for certain though, is that his Father deemed the boy was important enough to raise and pull out from whatever shit hole he came from.

So, it wasn't really his call to make whether Chan stays or not. 

"Up to the kid." He replies before he gets inside.

 


 

The drive back was relatively short and Seungcheol spent the majority of it ignoring the dried blood on his fingers. He supposes some of it were his own and some from the kid earlier, maybe he shouldn't have thrown that little handkerchief. 

Huh.

"He's back, you know." Mingyu says quietly and Seungcheol for a second, wonders why Mingyu is saying it now. 

"'S not like I care." Seungcheol replies, but he's already in a sour mood and finds himself sinking on his seat. Suddenly dreading the sight of the iron gates in front of them.

"Try to keep the murderous tendencies by the minimum, hyung." Mingyu says just to be a little shit as they arrive by the estate, "Last time you ruined almost half of the West Wing just for a petty fight." 

"It's not fucking petty." Seungcheol hisses and turns to Mingyu. The younger has a look of mock disbelief in his face and Seungcheol resists the urge to slap him for it. 

"Okay, so tell me which part of you being annoyed because he snores that made you think, "Oh wow, let's destroy the West Wing today!" that justifies your actions? I never knew your armory had so much knives to embed on every surface of your room."

"Sleep is precious, you idiot." Seungcheol hisses as he gets out, "You should know, you grew up too much because of it."

"Nah, I think that's just genes, hyung." Mingyu calls out from inside the car, "Have fun, don't kill each other! I'm taking Channie home!" 

Seungcheol flips him a finger without looking back as he walks towards the heavy oak doors that lead to his house. There's a butler waiting for him by the door and he throws him his gun before stepping into the house. There's a maid for him waiting by the grand stair case and he hands her his bloodied shirt to burn. No use of it now. 

He traipses up the stair case and immediately goes to his room to change. The day had been long and if Mingyu's words held true, the day would just continue to grow longer. 

Seungcheol pushes open the doors that lead to the bedroom and immediately his head tightens as the scent of lavender and nicotine fill his lungs. 

Fuck.

He's a bit far from the source of the smell yet, but he knows the other occupant of the room must have been here for a good amount of time for the scent to stain every surface of the room. Seungcheol goes directly to the en-suite bathroom and ignores the opened doors that led to the balcony. Maybe he could stall for a few minutes and get a resemblance of control in his thoughts before he re-enters the bedroom. 

Seungcheol is methodical when he cleans himself up, he makes sure the water is scalding enough to easily wash the red from his fingers and to soothe the crick on his neck that never seemed to go away. Once he's cleaned up, he towels off and slips into the walk-in closet to change. He eyes the slew of assorted paper bags on the side and scoffs. Seungcheol never really understood vanity and flaunting one's wealth as obnoxiously as possible. It was a waste of time and money, something Seungcheol has stood by ever since he grasped the concept of it from his father. 

Seungcheol sighs before he grabs a clean white shirt and a pair of joggers, no underwear. Once upon a time, Seungcheol had the privacy of sleeping in the nude. Now? Not so much. 

Once he's done, he grabs his phone from where it had been placed on the bathroom counter top and goes back to the bedroom. 

"You're back early." A voice greets him and immediately the crick on his neck comes back.

"And you're back from God knows where." Seungcheol replies. He knows it's not as biting as the usual, but he's honestly too fucking tired to play mind games right now and just wants to sleep. 

"Mhm, Paris." The voice responds and Seungcheol looks up. 

The first thing that he notices is a spread of lace and milky skin, and that Jeonghan is on his side of the bed. 

"You're on my side." He hisses, ignores the low heat in his belly as he sees slips of skin from underneath the fabric. Jeonghan's eyes is on him and he looks up again to see the other smirking lasciviously.

Fuck. 

Seungcheol grits his teeth as Jeonghan's smirk widens, baiting him. But Seungcheol makes no move to walk closer to the bed, just yet. Not until Jeonghan moves. 

"Oh, was I?" Jeonghan laughs after a few seconds, languidly tucking a strand of long blond hair behind his ears. "Oops." 

"Fuck off and let me sleep." Seungcheol growls and walks closer to the bed, feeling the day's activities catch up to him and suddenly he's throwing caution to the wind. If he had to haul Jeonghan's skinny ass out with his own hands then he'd do it. Dump him off the edge of the bed, maybe he'd fall maybe not. Seungcheol doesn't care.

"Testy." Jeonghan clucks but has thankfully moved to his side before Seungcheol could reach his. 

Seungcheol places his phone on his night stand and lifts the covers off his bed. He can feel the younger's eyes on him and he pretends it doesn't make his skin crawl. 

"You fucked up a job today, or what?" Jeonghan asks and Seungcheol suppresses the urge groan out loud. 

"None of your business." Seungcheol mumbles, eyes closed. 

"You did didn't you? You look like you did." Jeonghan giggles beside him, humor lost in his scathing remark. "Aren't you getting soft, Seungcheolie?"

Seungcheol stays quiet. There was no point on proving Jeonghan wrong, the blond believed what he wanted to believe and Seungcheol honestly doesn't give a shit. 

"You wish." He sighs and turns his back against Jeonghan, effectively cutting off the conversation. 

Not that there was anything to begin with. 

Seungcheol feels the bed covers shift and the space beside him become lighter. He supposes Jeonghan's back to his regular place by the balcony, as he feels a slight draft slip past the curtains and Seungcheol grits his teeth in annoyance.

Jeonghan never particularly cared for anything but himself, Seungcheol stews mulishly. 

The two never really liked sharing spaces except for sleep and delayed the inevitable as much as they can -- Seungcheol by the armory even in the early hours of dawn and Jeonghan by the sun bed in their balcony smoking like a fucking chimney with his lavender cigarettes and lacy robes. Seungcheol can't remember when was the last time the younger smelled anything but nicotine and lavender, catches scents of it in their shared closet, the bathroom, the dinner room, even the fucking armory. Which, Seungcheol does not appreciate because it was his space and the only room in the house that could escape Jeonghan's claws. But the younger didn't particularly care or listened to Seungcheol, and now the bench where he liked to clean his guns smelled like Jeonghan. 

It was worse on their bed--no, it was worse on the bed. Because the scents clung to Jeonghan's hair the most and the younger had a habit of laying his hair down in a way that he doesn't sleep on the strands. One time Seungcheol woke up with Jeonghan's hair in his mouth and he couldn't wash the scent for days. Perhaps he's over reacting and its all in his head, but Seungcheol wouldn't put it past Jeonghan if he was doing things on purpose, with how seemingly Jeonghan was intent on getting on his nerves with every chance he got. 

He sighs and moves to lay on his back now that Jeonghan wasn't beside him and stares at the dark ceiling, wondering just what sins did he commit in his past life to deserve this. There's a reminder of Seungcheol's punishment in his left hand and the smell of it in the air - lavender and nicotine.

Heady and poisonous.

He wonders if what the boy from the warehouse told him was right. If he had been right for a long time. Because between marrying a man you barely knew and ended up hating but still finding yourself ridiculously attracted to, Seungcheol feels like the entirety of Seoul is his own personal hell.