“Well,” a happy voice from above calls. "Hello, Officer."
Seokjin’s eyes dart up to the boy in the tree to the angry store owner on the ground and back again. “Get down here, Taehyung.”
Taehyung doesn’t hesitate to follow his orders because the boy really has no reason not to. He's already gotten what he wants; Seokjin’s here.
When down on the ground, Taehyung bounces towards him, hands held out in front of him. “Aren’t you going to cuff me?”
“I think we’re good.”
Taehyung grins his signature rectangle smile. “But I like it.”
“All the more reason not to.” Seokjin points a thumb over his shoulder. “Get in the car.”
Taehyung excitedly scurries to the police vehicle. “Shotgun!”
“Backseat or I’ll put you in lockup for two nights!” To Seokjin’s surprise, Taehyung actually follows his instructions. He’s usually not that impressed with Seokjin’s threats.
The store owner watches the scene unfold with a judgemental shake of the head. After a moment’s hesitation, Seokjin asks him about the stolen merchandise. Just two popsicles; Taehyung’s crimes get less intimidating by the day. Seokjin knows he shouldn’t but he pays for them anyway, fixing the problem in a way that in reality solves nothing at all.
Bidding his goodbye to the mollified store owner, Seokjin gets behind the wheel and drives off. In his rear-view mirror he can see Taehyung lean forward with glee, nose pressed up against the mesh separating the front and backseats.
“You’re so pretty, hyung.”
“That’s Officer Kim Seokjin for you.”
Taehyung whistles, eyes sparkling. “That’s so hot, hyung. I like a man in uniform.”
Seokjin’s lips narrow into a thin line. “Zip it, Taehyung. You’re just a kid.”
“I’m almost eighteen!” Taehyung sulks but it’s only briefly. The pout on his face soon transforms into sunny smile. “Want to hear what I did last week?”
“Do I have a choice?”
Seokjin doesn’t. Taehyung’s mouth opens to give way to a waterfall of words. He talks about Jimin and how they got send to detention. He talks about Jeongguk, a recent transfer-student, and how they went to Karaoke. In short, he picks up right where he left off the last time Seokjin arrested him. That time Taehyung had been spray-painting graffiti on a building scheduled for demolition. Or was that the time before that?
Seokjin can’t believe Taehyung had been so quiet the first time Seokjin had ever slapped cuffs on him. The crime had been throwing rocks through the windows of an abandoned house and it had taken Seokjin ages to get the small kid to open up to him. Now he can merely look back on that with nostalgia. These days, Taehyung’s mouth never stops in Seokjin’s company.
But then, all Taehyung really needs is a listening ear, all the grown-ups in his life excelling in their emotional absence, and Seokjin could only wish all his cases were that easy. To be honest, Taehyung’s petty (non-)crimes are an almost welcome respite in the boredom that comes with working in a small town. Seokjin had told Taehyung a hundred times he could just drop by if he wanted to chat but Taehyung preferred the thrill of an arrest because, ‘the handcuffs are so sexy, hyung.’
Seokjin glances at Taehyung through the rear-view mirror again. The boy’s mouth is still moving a mile a minute, hands animatedly waving through the air to underline the important parts of his story. The boy is too adorable for his own good. Too mischievous. He’s going to break a lot of hearts when he’s older and probably cause a world of trouble every time. Seokjin suspects the biggest victim of his behaviour would be Taehyung himself. It always is.
But that’s of a later concern. For now Seokjin just listens.