Summary: Sleeping with the lover of East Asia's most dangerous arms dealer wasn't one of Oh Sehun's brightest ideas.
The air in Busan was swelling hot and humid, heavy with the smell of sea salt in the air. He had only come here a couple of times as a child, following his family on summer vacations, running around on the crowded and rowdy Haeundae beach. Twenty years later, the crowd and the heat were still exactly as he remembered. Sehun ran a hand through his sweaty hair, and the sight of the sandy blond hair out of the corner of his eyes startled him. It was still taking some getting used to.
The drive into the middle of nowhere was long and rocky, completely off the beaten path deep inside the forest and mountains of Dadae-dong, all the way at the southern-most tip of Busan. He had heard about the presence of a military base in the area. A purposefully strategic location, Kyungsoo had told him. It took him an awful long time to navigate his rented car around the mountain, half of his attention on the road and the other half on the beat-up map. A few hundred meters away, there was a small outpost that told him he was going in the right direction. He gave his name to the guard, and slowly crawled up the tiny road, listening to the crunch of leaves and gravel under the tyres of his car. It was past noon when he finally managed to pull up outside the imposing giant metal gate. They were already open, and a silent head tilt urged him to go in, swinging the car into the parking ground in front of the building. He glanced around, seeing sleek black BMWs and vintage red Aston Martin. Poker face on, Sehun told himself and took a deep breath, getting out of the car. He knew he looked calm from the outside, but his stomach was vibrating with nerves.
The house was every bit he had imagined the summer home of a billionaire to be - luxurious, opulent, the scenery and colour schemes lush and rich, with just the right touch of traditional Korean kitsch in the furniture and decorations. It looked more like an exclusive hideaway resort than an actual house with its flawlessly groomed garden, cobbled walkway, sliding glass doors, and rough heavy wood beams that looked like some million-won exotic trunk had just been cut down and brought back from a nearby tropical forest.
One of the housekeepers, or possibly bodyguards, searched him with thorough efficiency. He tugged at the top buttons of the black shirt he was wearing. So awfully oppressive in this heat, but Sehun had wanted to dress to impress. Another silent head tilt from the guard had him being led all the way to a garden out the back of the house. Sehun sucked in a breath as the scenery unfolded in front of him. It was high enough to see the vast expanse of the ocean stretching into the skyline from up there, the sunlight sparkling and glinting like gold off the water. The house looked like it was hanging on a cliff looking directly to the ocean, nestled by rocks and heavy old trees. He could see an enormous swimming pool at the very edge, the blue water looking as if it was spilling off the edge into the sea below. The view was stunning.
"Not something you see every day in the capital, is it?" An amused voice startled him, and Sehun stiffened. When he slowly turned around, it was to come face to face with the very person that had been haunting all his waking and sleeping hours for the last few weeks.
Standing out here in the ocean air and summer sunshine, living and breathing and not just another grainy pixelated picture on a computer screen, Kim Seunghwan looked less like a dangerous international arms dealer and more like your typical filthy rich businessman on a summer holiday. Dressed in simple but impeccable khaki pants and a dark grey button-down, Seunghwan's smile was welcoming and genuine, the smile lines deep around his bright eyes.
"No, definitely not, sir. The place is stunning." Sehun bowed ninety-degree in greeting. "Lee Sehun, sir."
Seunghwan nodded, still smiling. Sehun had been stiff with nerves for the past couple of days just thinking about this moment, but oddly enough, Seunghwan's warm, easy manner was calming. "From the capital, eh? What pulled you down here? Young kids like the big city."
Sehun bit down on his lips, the small smile on his lips purposefully bashful. "A bit of trouble with the cops there, sir. Nothing serious, of course, just young people being stupid. My cousin suggested I moved down here. Said you were a good boss. And the beaches are great, of course."
"Yeah, Minhyuk has told me," Seunghwan drawled, his eyes slowly raking up and down Sehun's form. "I've also asked about some of your... trouble in Seoul there." Sehun felt his body stiffen. Of course Seunghwan would dig into his background. "Stupid young people shit, of course, but we've all been there." Seunghwan grinned, and Sehun let the muscles in his shoulders loosen.
Seunghwan waved at him, motioning Sehun to walk with him down the cobbled path of the garden. There was something decidedly commanding about Kim Seunghwan. This was a man who carried natural-born power and knew how to use it, the ever-present smile a deceptively guileless weapon. This was power that came not with age nor money, but with guile and ruthlessness.
"See, don't take it the wrong way, I couldn't care less what it was that you were up to in that grubby city, I just want to be careful here, you know? The kids around here... they spend too much time partying with those foreigners at the port. The beach makes them complacent." Seunghwan grinned, smile lines deepening around his eyes. "So, a fresh start for you, kid. Busan is good for fresh starts. I know it seems like we're in the middle of nowhere here, but you'll be in the city plenty to have fun, so don't worry about that. Kai likes the city. Ah, speaking of the devil..."
The path suddenly cleared, and the sudden burst of sunlight made Sehun wince. The garden opened up to the large swimming pool, the vast body of water gently sloshing to the edge of the cliff. The view was breathtaking, the sky crystal clear and endless above him, and and it took Sehun a few seconds to realize there was someone sitting there on one of the lounge chairs lining the pool.
None of the grainy pixelated photos could ever have prepared Sehun for the sight in front of him. He had half-heartedly noted dark skin and plump lips in the briefing room, but the high-definition, living and breathing version was something off the main editorial spread of a high-end fashion magazine. The young man was half-naked, black hair still wet and slicked with water, white shorts slung slow on his hips, revealing miles and miles of smooth tanned skin. He was lean with strong shoulders, muscles defined and sculpted just the right side of perfection. His biceps glistened with droplets of water in the sun, golden skin looking flawlessly smooth to the touch, and Sehun swallowed hard.
"Kai, come here," Seunghwan called out, arms raising forward. The young man stood up and walked towards them, a hand reaching up to brush wet dark hair away from his forehead.
It was impossible not to stare, because fuck, this guy - Kai - looked like the picture perfect trophy lover dream of every lascivious billionaire. Strong and sharp jawlines, dark and sultry double-lidded eyes, and those lips... Up close, the curves of those full, plump lips were a sin. They made for the perfect natural pout, soft-looking with the slightest hint of wetness. Kai moved with the grace and sensuality of lazy panther, someone who knew how to soak up the sun and the attention of everyone who ever laid eyes on him. He was tall, just the tiniest bit shorter than the imposing Seunghwan himself. Walking in bare feet, those long legs still looked like they went on forever. The shift of muscles underneath the white shorts drew Sehun's eyes to the perfect lean curve of thighs and calves.
Kai moved to stand next to Seunghwan, and the look he gave Sehun made him unable to decide whether the young man looked bored, sleepy, or it was just his natural default face. There was something about Kai's presence, Sehun just didn't quite know what it was, but it pulled at him. Something oddly familiar. Something unsettling. Their eyes met for just a few brief seconds, and then Seunghwan's arm wrapped around Kai's waist, pulling him in to press flush against his side. Before Sehun knew it, Seunghwan was forcing those full lips open with his mouth.
Sehun could see the young man's body stiffen for a brief moment against Seunghwan, but as the kiss deepened, Kai's shoulders relaxed as he completely softened into the touch, closing his eyes and arching his back, parting his lips as tongue flicked into his mouth. Seunghwan's fingers spread wide on the tanned skin of Kai's lower back, just above the waistband of his shorts, stroking up and down the smooth golden skin. Sehun swallowed, having no idea where to look, because they were practically making out in front of him, lips and tongues and Kai's hips hitching up against the older man's side, muscles shifting and glistening hot under the summer sun. Even if he was not watching, it was impossible to escape the sounds of wet kissing and soft panting, the young man making wordless noises in his throat, the tone much lower than Sehun had expected, and it sent tingles down his spine.
It was too much to be just a greeting kiss, and Sehun knew all too well what this was. A show of possession, Kim Seunghwan showing off to him what was his, that Kai was irrefutably off-limit. A warning that he could look, but not touch.
When Seunghwan finally pulled away, Kai had a small smirk tugging on the corner of his lips. He was still clinging to the older man. Sehun carefully looked away.
Seunghwan tugged his lover closer, finally turning to look at Sehun. "I want you to meet Lee Sehun here. He's going to be your new driver and bodyguard."
The smirk immediately dropped from Kai's face, and he abruptly pushed away from Seunghwan. Sehun could tell Kai was far from pleased. "What? I've told you, I don't need a babysitter."
"We've talked about this," Seunghwan reached out, but Kai pulled away again. "He's not a babysitter. You know you need protection when you go out these days. There's a price on your head, and I am not going to risk it again after your car blew up in the middle of the fucking street last week."
"I can take care of myself, Seunghwan, I am not some helpless little kid. I walked away from that accident just fine, didn't I?" Kai certainly didn't look very happy, even though he didn't raise his voice. The rough drawl of his deep Southern accent was oddly attractive to Sehun.
Neither of them was prepared for Seunghwan's hand to shot out and grab Kai's jaws, fingers digging hard into his neck. Kai's mouth dropped open in a wordless cry of pain, and the older man's fingers dug deeper, holding his face still and jerking it sideway to face him.
"Have you not listened to what I've been saying all week? I don't know what kind of luck you had that you could walk away with barely a goddamn scratch after Kris Wu had the goddamn Phoenix blow your car up in fire, but you're not a fucking cat with nine fucking lives, Kai." Seunghwan hissed, voice low and sharp. "If you think I would let Kris Wu's vengeful little army of hitmen blow you into tiny little pieces just because you fancy your little freedom a little too much, think again."
Kai let out another pained gasp as Seunghwan shook him. Sehun stood rooted to the spot, body tense as he watched Kai's fingers clutch at the wrist of the hand Seunghwan had around his neck.
"So be a good boy, let this nice young man here take you around the city, and everyone goes home happy. Do we agree?" Seunghwan was smiling again, but now Sehun could see the way his sharp eyes glinted with that hint of ruthless coldness. It made his stomach lurch uncomfortably. When his eyes shifted to Kai, the young man's eyes were blazing with defiance, but his face was getting painfully red under the strong grip of Seunghwan's hand.
Then suddenly, all the fight went out of him, and Kai's shoulders sagged, his eyelids fluttering down. Seunghwan's grip dropped away, and Kai stumbled slightly on his feet, hands immediately reaching up to stroke his neck. His lips were still pressed into a tight line, but he was resolutely not looking at either of them. Sehun's eyes traced the reddened marks lining the young man's throat.
"Hey," Seunghwan's voice softened as his hand reached out to gently stroke Kai's cheek, ignoring the young man's flinch. "I'm just looking out for you. It's just for a couple of weeks, okay? Just a little longer, and we'll be all through with this."
Kai said nothing, but Sehun could see him lean into the touch for a brief second, then breaking away. Seunghwan nodded, seemingly satisfied, then turned and walked towards Sehun. His posture was calm and relaxed, a hand reaching up to pat Sehun in the shoulders when he walked past, but in that moment, Sehun felt it - that cold sensation rushing through his head. The image of a sharp knife shooting out from underneath a shirtsleeves and blood spraying the ground flashed in his mind's eye. His hand immediately went up, snatching the older man's wrist as his body jerked backwards on pure instinct. It all happened in a split second, and when Sehun looked down, the blade in Seunghwan's hand was millimeters away from nicking the skin of his hand. Sehun's head snapped up, eyebrows furrowed. Seunghwan was smiling at him, looking oddly pleased.
"You're fast. Faster than all the others who have come to ask for this job. Or you have some pretty sharp intuition." Seunghwan was grinning now, all teeth, and Sehun felt his heart pound loud in his chest as the older man wrenched his hand away from his grip. His fingers stroked over the spine of the knife. It must have been hidden somewhere in the sleeve of his shirt. "You're starting from tomorrow, Lee Sehun." The man patted his shoulders for real this time, walking off.
A test. Sehun let out a shaky breath. The summer sun was beating hot over his back, but he felt his body running cold. If he hadn't acted fast enough, that knife would have embedded itself into his wrist, slitting it open.
When he finally looked up, it was to the sight of Kai staring at him, eyes dark and imploring.
"Kim Seunghwan - freight ship operator, international merchant, South Korea's biggest arms dealer. Based in Busan with its large international sea ports, he's one of the major players in the arms trade in the Pacific area. In the last two decades, his fleet has transferred arms in millions of tons across conflict zones in the Pacific. AK-47s, sniper rifles, ammunition, mortars, rocket-propelled grenades, C-4 plastic explosives. Whatever they want, he's got it. He sells to both sides of the conflict in many cases, and makes fortunes out of it. There is no client he doesn't deal with. Kim Seunghwan has a hand in many political conflicts, but he has no political allegiance."
The screen flicked through images of Kim Seunghwan shaking hands with various political figures from everywhere across Asia and the Pacific. The man was tall and lean, posture imposing when he loomed over someone else. He reminded Sehun of a panther, slick and dangerous, always dressed in a sharp, impeccable suit, with his hair slicked back. Always smiling, but the smile never reached his eyes. Even with the blurry pixelated images, the abnormal brightness of those ice cold eyes sent chills down Sehun's spine.
"If he has been in operation for two decades, why hasn't he been brought in yet?"
The blue lights of the projector flickered across Kyungsoo's face, leaving no hint to what he felt about the man he was talking about. His voice was calm and soft, as if he was just reciting the profile of a village teacher.
"Technically, there is no laws against arms trade in South Korea, nor in many other countries. There are grey areas, but it is difficult to catch arms dealers by that. Kim Seunghwan is also backed by many powerful political forces, even by important figures in our government. His business is very important to some people." Kyungsoo paused on one picture, and both Joonmyun and Sehun sucked in a sharp breath when they recognized the man Seunghwan was posing with in the picture was the country's current head of the Ministry of Defense. "His activities only recently became a major cause of concern as there have been rumours of him trying to sell a national arms technology system to... a client that could endanger the safety of this country. Now, we have no definite proof of this, but we trust our sources, and this is where you come in."
"Are you sure about this?" Joonmyun cut in, his frown deepening. The quick glance he threw towards Sehun made it apparent what he was asking about. "Sehun is one of the best field agents in NIS right now, but he knows next to nothing about the case's background..."
"Don't worry, he will be briefed on everything," Kyungsoo moved towards him, and Sehun's eyes narrowed when the man reached out to place his hand upon the hand Sehun had on the table. A sudden chill seeped into his skin, and flash-
Long, bright corridors stretched out in his mind, the lights so white it felt like they were draining his soul out of him. Flash.
Sleepless nights spent poring over a surveillance system, dozens of computer monitors flashing in front of him, numbers and words and images and rhythmic green codes. His eyes were burning, from exhaustion or regret he wasn't entirely sure. The world was awfully quiet. The only thing he could hear was his raspy breathing. Flash.
Kim Seunghwan's face. Sharp eyes, kind smile. Flash.
His hand twitched, and Sehun jerked it away, heart pounding loudly in his chest. The skin on the back of his hand felt icy cold. Kyungsoo moved away.
Kai spoke in the local Busan dialect, the drawl rough and unfamiliar. He was dressed in a light blue shirt and slouchy dark jeans today, somehow looking much more casual than he had in that first meeting, lounging half-naked by the pool. Sehun thought about all those pictures he had seen of Kai when he was out with Seunghwan. As the screen had flicked through blurry pixelated pictures, Sehun's attention had been snagged on dark skin and plump, pouty lips, and that the young man was dressed in pristine white in almost every single picture. The white accentuated the golden tan of Kai's skin beautifully, making him look like some ice-cold unattainable prince from a faraway sun-soaked land, but Sehun suddenly realized it wasn't that white happened to be Kai's favourite colour. Seunghwan enjoyed seeing his lover in white, and Kai obliged accordingly.
Kai was always quiet in the backseat of the sleek black BMW convertible he had picked out from Seunghwan's mini collection, engrossed in whatever it was on his tablet. The discomfort was clear in his posture, the line of his shoulders tense and guarded. Yet sometimes when Sehun's eyes flickered up, he caught the other man's gaze in the rearview mirror. Sometimes he felt eyes drilling holes into the back of his head, the weight of it hot and distracting. Sehun drove him around the city, to the gym and the bank and Club EXO on the hottest strip up Haeundae beach because Seunghwan owned one of the largest nightclubs in the city and left it in the hands of his lover.
"You need a new haircut. You keep fiddling with your hair." Kai told him from the backseat. His eyes met Sehun's in the rearview mirror. "Let's go to the beach today, Seoul kid."
Kai dragged him to tiny stands and hundred-year-old family restaurants off the main beach, the two of them gobbling up seafood and scallion pancakes and delicious fish soup with vegetables. Haeundae beach was bustling with people and the little yellow floaters, and they sat people-watching in the sticky summer afternoon, nursing ice-cold beers in their hands. Kai kept pressing his beer against his heated cheeks instead of drinking it, and Sehun's eyes trailed the little droplet of sweat trickling down the other man's neck. It was stifling hot, the air salty and heavy. Sehun ran a hand through his sweaty hair, pushing it back, and Kai smiled at him, just an amused quirk of the lips.
"You look good like that. Now if only you could get a new expression on that stoneface."
Sehun snorted out a laugh, looking down in embarrassment.
"It isn't like Seunghwan really gives a shit whether I live or die, you know?" Kai was laughing sometime after the fourth beer. They were back to the car driving back to Dadaeng-dong now, and Kai had moved to the shotgun this time, sprawling out casually in the seat next to Sehun. "I don't matter all that much. It's just the principle of it. There was this clusterfuck, and these things happen, you know? Business is business, but sometimes it's a goddamn battlefield. Kris Wu's lover was just one unlucky bastard in the wrong place at the wrong time. So now there's a price on my head." Kai took a swig of his beer, his adam's apple bobbing as he swallowed, lips wrapped tight around the bottleneck. They had all the windows down, the early evening wind cool against their cheeks. "Seunghwan wouldn't let me die, because he would never lose to the white king. I just happen to be a really strategic pawn."
There was something about Kai that was awfully familiar. It wasn't exactly in the way he looked or how he talked, but in the way his presence felt like a complete blank to Sehun.
The next assassination attempt on Kai came a little sooner than he had expected.
Sehun remembered looking at the blond teenage kid's big, guileless eyes staring at them in the reflection of the mirror lining the walls of the elevator and thinking it was impossible for a face like that to make a living out of slitting people's throat. The very next moment, he saw the glint of a sharp blade flash across his vision. Sehun felt his blood turn cold. His hand found Kai's wrist behind his back, and Sehun tried to subtly tug Kai behind him, his movements slow as his eyes were trained on the two people standing in front of them. He could see Kai's raised eyebrow from the corner of his eyes, but there was no time to explain.
The elevator slammed to a halt at the exact same time all electricity went out and the entire space plunged into pitch black darkness. The motion sent all of them tumbling backwards, and Sehun immediately jerked Kai back with his hand, pushing the man down behind him. He barely heard Kai go down with the faintest grunt in the commotion, as something heavy fell onto him at the same time there was a violent ripping sound and a choked gurgle.
Sehun cursed in his head as he pushed off the dead weight that had fallen on him. His fingertips came away wet and warm, and he knew without being able to see anything that the tall, burly man unfortunately stuck between them and the killer had just had his throat slit open, blood spraying the side of the elevator. He felt the blade coming towards him before it happened, but it was still pure luck that he managed to jerk back in the right direction to avoid it embedding into his throat.
The kid was insanely fast, except this was obviously far from a normal teenage kid. Even with all his shields down, Sehun struggled to hold up against his opponent's attacks. He struck out, feeling his fist connect hard with something soft, and reveled in the grunt the guy let out. He used the momentum to grab the kid's arm and twist it back, and he heard the clang of the knife falling to the floor. What he didn't expect was another knife shooting out from under the sleeve of the arm he was not holding, and the blade was so sharp it cut sweetly through his the fabric of his shirt and his skin when it came up. He barely felt the pain before hot blood streamed down his arm. Sehun gasped, and his momentary distraction had his opponent slamming him backwards, his head hitting the mirror behind with a loud crack.
His vision exploded in white, and his legs wobbled. He found himself sliding to his knees in the next beat, pain exploding in the back of his head, his hands prickled with sharp pain as he grasped at the broken glass on the floor. He could feel his opponent's presence looming over him, he could see faint glimpse of Converse shoes and jeans standing in front of his vision. He felt the blade coming down more than he saw it.
Except the blade never made it, and there was a sharp cry of surprise as he felt the presence over him disappear. The fight that ensued in the darkness right after that was fast but intense. There was suddenly loud cursing, and then shouting in Chinese, followed by clanging noises above their heads. Before he knew what was happening, the elevator slammed back into motion, the shock sent him tumbling backwards again, his vision still swimming with white spots. When the lights finally flickered back on, Sehun was greeted by the sight of the unfortunate man's dead body splayed in the middle of the elevator, blood already forming a large pool under his neck, and Kai kneeling on the other side with his entire right arm soaked red. The blond Chinese kid had escaped through the gaping hole on the ceiling of the elevator.
"The blood's not mine," Kai told him, eyes sharp and dark when Sehun reached out to touch his arm. He hadn't been able to see very clearly in the pitch black darkness of the elevator they were trapped in, but he was not stupid enough to believe it was a stroke of luck when Kai sank a knife into the guts of the cute blond Chinese teenage kid who turned out not to be a teenage kid at all, but a notorious contract killer hailing from Beijing.
The blood was warm and sticky under his fingertips, but the sudden rush of intense emotions from that skin contact burned much hotter. Touching Kai felt like coming home. Déjà vu all over again, flashing back all the way to the highschool days of that autumn over a decade ago.
When Oh Sehun was sixteen, he met a boy on the rooftop of his highschool. This was disturbingly cliched, Sehun had always thought, but the truth was he had been silently following the boy around for days. They weren't even in the same class, and Sehun had only ever seen him in very brief passing seconds around the school. Yet there was something about that boy that kept pulling him in. Something familiar. Something unsettling.
The boy's name was Jongin. All dark skin, full lips, awkward lanky limbs, smiling eyes turning into half moons as he pressed his bright laughter against Sehun's back, bony shoulders shaking against Sehun's with mirth over some stupid joke they shared. Sehun might have fallen a little in love. Sehun might have had his first kiss on that very same rooftop. Sehun couldn't help clinging to the boy whenever he could, because Jongin felt like a complete blank to his touch.
Growing up, Sehun had always been surrounded by a constant buzz of noise inside his head. Thoughts, emotions, images, sensations. Things he should have had no way of knowing, because they belonged to the people around him. Sehun stopped telling people things he shouldn't have known by the age of ten. His parents had freaked out at first, but after he'd learned to keep quiet, they assumed his uncanny 'intuition' had gone away, and life went back to normal in his family. He learned to ignore the background noises, avoiding crowds and physical contact. Until Kim Jongin, who was a complete blank when he first touched him. It scared him at first, how he suddenly couldn't read a person at all, but then it was suddenly thrilling. He couldn't stop touching Jongin, fingers curling around wrists and stroking over the back of bare neck and rubbing across full lips. It was like learning the sense of touch all over again, the feeling of skin under his fingers completely unadulterated by buzzing noise or images.
Jongin just laughed against his fingers and taught him how to shield. Jongin wasn't quite like him, he said, but he knew how to block the noises inside Sehun's head. Jongin kissed him, and the touch of Jongin's fingers on his face was hot and painfully intrusive. It hurt, but he learned little by little.
Jongin moved away the next year, and they never saw each other again. Awful earnest and stupid teenage love of the formative years, Sehun thought.
More than a decade later, Sehun wondered if all of it had ever really happened, because when he dug up the records on the most extensive and thorough public database compiled and utilised by the country's most powerful underground intelligence agency, there was no Kim Jongin in the school records. At least, not the Jongin he wanted. He tried every search, every lead, every single detail he remembered about the boy. Address. Sister's name. Nothing. There was no Kim Jongin at Kyunggi High School, class of 2011. The computer told him Kim Jongin had never existed. Every trace of the boy had been wiped out of existence.
He didn't know the people at the Busan office of NSS very well yet, having just moved here from the Seoul headquarter of NIS, but Kim Jongdae's sharp eyes and his distaste for all the in-house politics made him someone Sehun felt like he could trust. Kim Jongdae's reputation as South Korea's most cunning covert hacker also preceded him.
"Kyungsoo doesn't need to know about this, I gather." Jongdae smirked.
"His name is Kim Jongin," Sehun said, "and I want to know if there's anything on him on NSS' in-house database."
"You know that database is only used for information related to all the cases, right?"
"Just a quick search." Sehun employed his most discreetly cute smile, complete with half-moon eyesmile and a promise of dinner at the most expensive restaurant in the city. This had always worked on the majority of people back at his old NIS office, with the most common victim being his immediate boss Kim Joonmyun. He suddenly missed the man.
Jongdae pursed his lips, but Sehun knew he had already won the battle.
The next time they met, Jongdae asked if he wanted to go out for a cup of coffee. Judging from the tight smile on Jongdae's lips and the hard look in his eyes, Sehun knew it wouldn't be coffee they would be going out for.
Do Kyungsoo made Sehun feel uncomfortable. There was something about the smaller man that made Sehun's blood run cold, ever since that first time he had come to pick him up at the NIS headquarter in Seoul. Pale skin, baby-faced, huge dark eyes following his every move, hands neatly placed on his knees when he sat. He was always dressed in a sharply cut black suit, dark hair cropped short. Something about the way he carried himself made Sehun feel unsettled. He looked too young, and yet something about him felt... too controlled, too closed off. Agent Do Kyungsoo, from the NSS, head of the Kim Seunghwan investigation. Joonmyun had spit out the introduction with blatant distaste.
If South Korea's National Intelligence Service, the NIS, was notorious for working to cover up the dirty laundry behind the scenes of political battles and national schemes, NSS was the dirty laundry. Short for National Security Service, the majority of NSS activities were black ops, allegedly secret missions to protect the country at all costs. There had always been rumours about assassination and kidnapping, but the existence of NSS had been strictly unofficial and essentially a complete myth until six years ago, when a scandal forced them to go semi-public, but only to key governmental bodies.
NSS still mostly kept to themselves, and much of the agency was still a complete mystery. Myths built around it, most of them telling stories about the complete ruthlessness and cruelty of NSS agents and their casual disregard to any form of laws and order. It wasn't like he had always pictured them as complete psycho killers, but the feeling came close. Sometimes when Sehun looked at Do Kyungsoo's small hands, it was far too easy to imagine them snapping his neck in a split second.
Six years ago, NSS attempted an undercover op with the aim to infiltrate and break up Kim Seunghwan's operation, leading to the biggest fuck-up in the history of the agency, resulting in the death of a skilled operative and forcing NSS to undergo major changes in policy, some of which was to go semi-public and a requirement to cooperate with other governmental bodies. He had heard all the rumours about the disastrous op that led to NSS' exposure. It was the mission everyone knew of, except no one really knew what it was about. All they ever had were rumours and speculations.
The unofficial official story was the undercover agent's cover was compromised due to a major screw-up within NSS, and he was murdered by Kim Seunghwan himself. "However, that was a mistake we will not be repeating this time around," Kyungsoo had said, and it had been the first time Sehun had seen Kyungsoo's calm and cool facade crack. The flicker of emotion across Kyungsoo's face had been small, but it struck a chord inside him. There was something... devastated about that look.
Joonmyun told him others said the undercover agent never died, having turned rogue instead and now working for Kim Seunghwan. That was the screw-up, that was the scandal NSS tried to cover up by declaring the agent dead.
Kyungsoo never quite exactly told him why NSS had chosen agent Oh Sehun from NIS for the second Kim Seunghwan op six years later.
"I found a Kim Jongin that might be the one you were talking about," Jongdae told him over coffee in a small 24-hour café not too far from their Busan office. In the late midnight hours, there were barely any guests around. Just two guys bonding over their late night latte, Sehun had joked. Jongdae had barely cracked a smile. The way Jongdae sat hunched over himself, eyes darting around every five minutes, was unsettling. "Kim Jongin. Marked 'Deceased' since six years ago."
Sehun sucked in a sharp breath.
"I found him in the related section of the Kim Seunghwan op." Jongdae's voice lowered even more. "Not the current one. The one from six years ago. The one everyone talked about. Are you sure this is something you should be prodding into without asking Kyungsoo? How did you even know this person? I only managed to dig up his file because you gave me his exact full name. There was absolutely no visible link to the profile from the main folder itself. You know what it normally means when a person's entire public record is wiped clean, right?"
Of course Sehun knew what it meant, because the same thing had happened to him. It meant that profile belonged to an undercover agent. A new life had been invented, the old one erased. There was a part of Sehun that knew he had expected this, but the truth was he just felt numb.
"The thing is... I couldn't open his file." Jongdae looked particularly troubled by this, and Sehun frowned, fingers curling tight around his mug.
"I don't know why, but it seems like it's on another database. The file is marked as Classified, but normally I have no problem opening them if they're on the NSS' system. This one... it links to something outside. Even much more heavily encrypted than our usual system. And that's the strange thing, too. It's marked as 'Deceased', but the profile status indicates it has not been deactivated. Sure, it could be some bureaucracy mistake, but I don't believe in coincidences in NSS. I didn't dare touch it yet, because I have no idea what it is that it links to. Do you know, Sehun?" Jongdae's gaze was piercing.
"I... no. I don't know." Sehun shook his head weakly. The only thing he knew was that Kim Jongin was definitely not dead.
He was quick to realize what Kai needed definitely wasn't protection. At least, not the kind Seunghwan wanted him to have. Kai moved with the languid grace of careless confidence, because he'd earned it. There was a core of steel inside him, and Sehun saw it in the way he moved. This was someone dangerous in his own right.
When Sehun looked at Kai, he couldn't see Jongin. No, the truth was he could see how Jongin could have grown up into Kai with his strong, broad shoulders and languid quirks of the lips, but Kai's dangerous sensuality seemed miles away from the bright laughter Jongin had pressed against his shoulders more than a decade ago. From metropolitan Seoul to the sun-soaked beaches of Busan... Sehun wondered if it was possible. He still remembered the way Kai's half-naked body had arched into Seunghwan's possessive touch, his movements dripping with charm and seduction. He couldn't imagine the Jongin he knew would ever...
And yet touching Kai had felt like coming home, that rush of warmth and intensity pushing into his head. Once upon a time it had felt intrusive to him, but now Sehun wondered if it was nostalgia that made him yearn for it.
Sehun had a brief moment to think that he was probably getting a little too old for this, but when Kai pulled him to the dancefloor of EXO on a Saturday night, eyes shamelessly inviting with that cocky smirk on his lips, it was impossible not to follow. He had tried to resist, but Kai's fingers around his wrist were hot and insistent. It wasn't as if he could pretend he hadn't been staring the whole time Kai had been knocking back drinks in the VIP lounge anyway. Not enough to get him smashed, but enough for the sway of Kai's hips to brush against Sehun a little slower than just a casual touch. The place was packed with the hot young things, and the thumping bass of the music made it easy for the crowd to wrap around each other, rough fabrics sliding against flashes of bare skin.
He didn't quite want to look, but sometimes his eyes were snagged on the marks on Kai's body. The faint bruise around his wrists, reddened marks just under the collar of his shirt. Days when Kai's lips just looked that much more swollen and red than usual when he came down the stairs. It would be a sin not to look, but all this time Sehun had been trying to keep it at just that - look but don't touch. Some ice-cold unattainable white prince.
Except it was Kai who was touching him then, clever fingers hooked around the loops on the waistband of his jeans, stroking up the flash of bare skin under his shirt. Sehun's stomach fluttered under the touch, and Kai smirked against his cheekbones, his breath hot against Sehun's face. The press of the crowd was heavy, and it wasn't long before someone knocked into Kai and sent him tumbling forward into Sehun. Kai didn't miss the chance to pull their bodies closer, wrapping his arms around Sehun's neck, hands coming up to stroke up Sehun's hair, fingers gripping lightly. Sehun inhaled sharply when Kai insinuated a knee between his legs, and soon the other man's thighs were squeezing tight around his own, the undulating wave of Kai's body movement controlling the sway of their hips. Kai's hips kept hitching up, up, up his thigh, and Sehun gasped when they brushed against the growing hardness in his jeans, pleasure shooting hot like fireworks up his spine.
He shouldn't be doing this, but his hands found their way to Kai's backside anyway, roaming over the back of those strong thighs and fingers digging into a tight, pert ass under impossibly skin-tight white jeans. The white tank-top Kai was wearing kept hitching up, revealing smooth tanned abs, and Sehun exhaled hotly over the endless expanse of golden skin as Kai bared his throat, letting Sehun run his mouth down the side of his neck and his collarbones. The smell of Kai's skin was heady and intoxicating. Kai nuzzled his face against the side of Sehun's neck, hot lips nipping at his skin. Kai looked drunk on him, and it was exhilirating. There was something burning hot in the bottom of his stomach, and Sehun just couldn't get enough of the willing body in his arms rubbing up against him.
He ran his teeth very lightly up Kai's neck, his tongue flicking out to wet the young man's earlobe when it got there. He gently nipped the delicate outer curve, and sighed in satisfaction as Kai violently shivered against his body, clearly startled by his own sensitivity. It was so warm and humid, and Sehun couldn't remember the last time he had been this turned on just pressing and rubbing against another clothed body, the thumping bass vibrating through their flesh. The desire was so hot and overwhelming, burning through his skin and pushing heavy deep into his head, and-
Sehun's eyes snapped open as he wrenched himself away from Kai's touch. Nausea washed over him as he realized what Kai had been doing.
Kai's eyes were dark in the flashing lights, and suddenly the smirk on his lips didn't look so playful anymore, the edge of it harsh and cold. Sehun felt it in his head more than actually heard the words Kai was mouthing, drowned out by the deafening music and the rowdy crowd.
"I know who you are."