Exo-M arrived back at the hotel. They gathered in Lay’s and Luhan’s room.
Tao shut the door behind him and locked it just in case anyone decided to barge into their conversation.
Lay whirled around. “Mind telling me what the heck was that back there?”
Kris silently sank into the armchair with a deflated expression. *I can’t believe that was Zico. Jungah’s friends were the one behind this mess. . What am I supposed to do now?*
“We almost had them, Wu Fan. They were right in front of us. We couldn’ve caught them and be finished with this mess by now. Are you even listening to me? KRIS!”
“Lay, calm down. You can’t talk to duizhang that way.” Luhan reminded in a low, warning voice.
Lay him, “Well our so-called ‘duizhang’ was the one that ruined our entire plan! You saw him! He tackled me down before I could shoot the enemy! It’s like he’s secretly on their side instead! Maybe that’s why he hasn’t finished this assignment already. Because he became a double agent and is working for them instead.”
“YIXING.” Luhan gave him a frightening glower, “Shut your mouth. I mean it. That’s enough.”
“Yeah, Yixing. That wasn’t very nice of you to accuse duizhang.” Xiumin frowned, “Duizhang has a reason for everything.” He looked at Kris, “Don’t you, duizhang?”
Kris didn’t reply. Xiumin faltered, “Duizhang…?”
“I can’t do this.” Kris whispered. Everyone stared at him.
“You can’t do what?” Luhan carefully asked. “I can’t…I can’t take them down.” Kris slowly shook his head.
Lay threw his hands up in the air, “What did I tell you?! He suddenly got cold feet at the last moment. Damn it, Kris, if you won’t, I will!” He grabbed his gun and headed towards the door.
Instantly, Kris was on his feet. He was blocking Lay from reaching the door.
“Move, Wu Fan.” Lay ordered. “No.” Kris sternly replied.
Lay narrowed his eyes and studied Kris’s face. “Why not?”
“I said no, Yixing. That is my final answer.” Kris said in a low, daunting tone.
Lay shoved past him. “I SAID NO!” Kris grabbed his shoulder and pinned him into the wall by his throat.
“WHY NOT?! GIVE ME ONE GOOD REASON WHY I CAN’T GO BLOW THEIR HEADS OFF RIGHT NOW!” Lay snarled with a struggle.
“BECAUSE THAT’S HER STEPBROTHER!” Kris snarled.
Lay’s face fell. “W-what?” “Stepbrother?” Tao asked in confusion.
Kris dropped his gaze to the floor, “The man second in command you saw next to Cho is- was- Jungah’s stepbrother.”
“Was? So they’re not anymore?” Xiumin asked. Everything was still for a couple seconds then Lay moved, “Then there isn’t an issue then-“
Kris pushed him into the wall again, “He still means a lot to her, Yixing. If you kill him…you’ll be killing her. And I won’t let you do that to the girl I love.”
Lay stared at him, stunned. Luhan looked to the floor. Xiumin rubbed the back of his neck. Chen sighed, and Tao uncomfortably squirmed. They were at a loss what to do.
“So that’s it? You’re choosing her over our task?” Lay asked.
Kris gave him a sharp look, “This is just business. She’s a person-“
“WE WERE GIVEN AN ORDER!” Lay barked. He poked Kris hard in the chest and hissed, “And you were chosen to fulfill that order. As ridiculous as it seemed, you were supposed to go undercover as a high school student, find more demanders, and come back with the culprit of this mission dead and gone.”
Kris’s eye twitched at the last three words.
“And you failed. You failed as Liang’s scout, and you failed as our leader.” Lay vehemently growled.
Luhan began, “Lay-“
Lay shook his head as he stepped back. He whirled around and snarled, “And when were you so concerned about killing someone?! You never looked twice when you had to murder anyone!” Kris fell silent because that was the truth. He had been a cold, careless killer until Jungah had entered his life. Now that he found a precious life, he wanted to protect it forever.
“You changed, Kris. You changed. You’re not the Wu Yi Fan we once knew. I knew she was bad news.” Lay shook his head in disappointment. He threw his gun onto his bed and walked out of the room.
“Lay. Lay! Come back!” With an exasperated sigh, Luhan ran up to him. Xiumin uncertainly glanced at Kris then left the room also. Chen turned around and went into the restroom. Tao was the only one who confronted Kris directly. “Gege, what are you going to do now? You have to make a decision.” He softly chided.
*I know I do. I hate it that his life is in my hand now.* Kris thought glumly.
Tao squeezed his shoulder, “Whatever you choose, I’ll support you to the end, gege, because that’s what brothers do. I’m here for you.”
Kris gave him an appreciative thwack on the arm. Then wearily, he left the hotel with a frenzied mind and a heavy heart.
Kris pulled into the parking lot of his condo with a sigh. He turned the engine off and lowered his head in resignation. He thought back to the events of the long night. He still couldn’t believe what he had seen. Kris crossed his arms on the steering wheel and rested his forehead on his hands. He closed his eyes as the doomin silence overwhelmed. *I wish I could wake up and everything could be a dream. Or I wish I could fast forward time, and just be happy with Jungah. No more drugs. No more gangs. No more killings. I’m done with this life.*
Suddenly, he grew weary of everything. He just didn’t want to deal with anything anymore.
After five more minutes of pained silence, Kris pulled his key out of the ignition and stepped out of the car. He made his way across the parking lot and to the elevators. Kris rode the elevator to the eleventh floor. The doors slid open, and he stepped out. With heavy shoulders, he made his way to his home to rest.
All he wanted to do was shut his eyes and sleep.
Kris pinched the bridge of his noise then released his grip with a troublesome sigh.
He looked up and halted.
His blood flowed through his veins, and a surge of adrenaline rushed through him. His heart began to pound faster, harder, and stronger. All of a sudden, he didn’t want to sleep anymore. He wanted to be awake… if it meant he was able to be with her.
Jungah was leaning against the wall next to his door with her eyes focused on her feet. She pressed her aqua blue sneakers together with her hands crossed behind her back. Next to her on the ground was a paper bag. Inside was a Korean broth soup with briskets. Jungah tapped one toe of her sneakers on the ground and checked her watch. With an impatient sigh, she lifted her chin up and tilted her head backwards. *When is he coming? I want to call him, but then again, I don’t want to disturb him. Maybe I should go home. Nah, I’ll wait ten more minutes. If he doesn’t come back by then, I’ll leave.*
Jungah lowered her head back down as she blew air out of her cheeks. She turned her head and turned immobile.
He was standing there, staring at her as if she was a ghost.
*Why is he staring at me like that?* Jungah straightened up. She tilted her head with a questioning look. “Kris.” She called.
Just the way she called him made him lose his mind. The fire in his heart burned for her. He longed and ached for. Nothing else mattered now. *I promised to live for Jungah. Therefore, I will make the decision that is best for her without putting her in danger or murdering the one person she possibly loves more than me.*
Kris walked towards her. His footsteps quickened.
Finally, he just ran.
Her eyes widened in alarm. *What the heck-* He was just a foot away from her now. Jungah stepped back with her hands out. “Kris, what-“
Before she could ask for an explanation, his lips were over hers. His eyes shut as his hands reflexively cupped her face. Her eyes grew wider for a second then slowly fell shut. She let her lips melt onto his, and stood still without a fight. Kris kissed her hungrily. All the confusion, bewilderment, anxiousness, love, and passion he was feeling at that moment were poured into the kiss.
Jungah couldn’t breathe anymore. Her head grew dizzy. *He never kissed me like this before.* She began to panic at the lack of oxygen. Jungah pressed her palms against his chest and pushed. He didn’t budge. *Damn it, Kris! I won’t let you live if I die by your kiss!*
Jungah shoved him harder. Finally, Kris released her.
She was about to curse him off, but he breathed, “I’m sorry.”
Her eyebrows slightly pinched together at the vulnerability and desperation in his voice. Slowly, she lifted her gaze to him.
“I’m sorry.” Kris whispered. He cupped her face, gentler this time, and pressed his forehead against hers. “I’m sorry, baby. I hurt you, huh? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to…” He closed his eyes and whispered one more apology. Her heart weakened. How could she rebuke him when he was like this? So, she did him a favor and stayed silent.
After the literally breathtaking kiss and many apologies, Kris and Jungah went inside. He glanced at the paper bag in her arms. Sheepishly, she set the bag on the table. “I wasn’t sure if you ate dinner with your parents or not.” Kris softened. *She bought food for me.*
Jungah quickly said, “If you did, it’s not a problem. We can just throw it away-“
“I didn’t eat.” He replied. She blinked at him, “Really?”
Kris nodded. “Okay then…I’ll just, er, set this up.” Jungah pulled out a bowl. She took out the side dishes, soup, rice, wooden chopsticks, and plastic spoon from the bag. Kris watched as she carefully poured the soup into the bowl. “You can put salt or pepper in there….whatever you want…”
“Where’s yours?” Kris asked. “I already ate.” Jungah waved her hand.
He just stood there looking at her. She finally beckoned him to sit. Kris dropped his keys on the sofa and walked over. He sat at the table and looked up at her. “What are you doing staring at me like that? I’m not the food.” Jungah nodded at the soup, “Go. Eat.”
“I will. Just…” Kris grasped her wrist and gazed at her, “Let me hold you.”
“Hold…me…?” Jungah gave him a puzzled look.
Kris scooted back in his seat. “Come here.” He whispered.
Jungah willingly followed as he pulled her over towards him. Kris tugged on her wrist, and she sank onto his lap. Her cheeks flushed a light shade of pink. She still found levels of such skinship awkward. “Er, I-“
Kris wrapped his arms around her before she could get away. He rested his chin on her shoulder with a soft whisper, “Just a little while…” Kris shut his eyes. Holding her made him feel a thousand times better. If he was addicted to anything, it was Jungah. She was his drug and his anti-drug. He couldn’t live without her, and he could live as a better person because of her.
Jungah’s eyes drifted over his tired face. Slowly, she reached out and d his hair. Kris opened up his eyes and gaze straight at her. Jungah lowered her hand and searched his inscrutable eyes. “Did something happen with your parents?” She asked in concern. “Did you…get in trouble?”
*I don’t have parents to scold me. I’m not a high school student. I’m a drug dealer. I just realized Zico is my enemy. I don’t want to hurt him. I don’t want to hurt you. What do I do, Jungah? Please tell me.* Instead of exposing his complicated thoughts, Kris shook his head. “Nothing. Nothing is wrong. I’m just…tired.”
Her eyebrows gathered in the middle in concern, and small crinkles appeared on her forehead. “Are you sick?” Jungah touched his forehead. Her touch created tingles all over his body. Kris gazed up at her to see her giving him a warm, caring look. *I’m scared that once you find out who I am and what’s going on, you won’t look at me with those eyes anymore. You probably wouldn’t forgive me. What do I do then?*
“You seem all right.” She withdrew her hand, “Maybe you should get some rest. You’ll feel better when you wake up. I should go then.” Jungah tried to stand up, but Kris tightened his hold on her. “Don’t go, Jungah.”
“What?” She stared at him. “Don’t go…” His eyes held onto hers, “Stay the night with me…”
Her cheeks reddened. *Stay the night…?* Jungah cleared , “Look, just because we graduated doesn’t mean I’m going to spend the night with you. I know you’re my boyfriend and I’m in love with you and all that …but damn.” She shook her head, “Yeah, that’s not happening. I’m leaving now. Eat and sleep. You can call me when you feel better tomorrow.” Jungah pushed his arms away and stood up. She headed towards the door but stopped.
A sudden chill crept up her back. Jungah spun around.
Kris looked up at her.
She studied his face for a moment then asked, “You’re not leaving, are you?”
“Leaving?” He asked in confusion.
“Leaving…as in, are you going back to China anytime soon?” Jungah questioned.
Kris didn’t answer for a moment. *Maybe it’s best that I did. I could lie to Liang. Make the others keep quiet. Tell him I couldn’t find the culprit. But then Liang would come and find him himself. Then things would become more out of hand.*
Her eyebrows furrowed in annoyance, and she placed her hands on her hips, “Are you really going back?”
Kris looked back up at her, “Do you want me to leave?”
“What kind of stupid question is that?” Jungah snapped.
“Is that a no?” Kris cracked a thin smile.
Jungah rolled her eyes, “You know what? You can just go. I don’t give a damn.” She turned to leave.
“Han Jungah.” Kris called. Jungah stopped and turned back with an unimpressed look.
“Wherever you go, I will go, too. If you leave Korea, so will I. Unless you plan on doing that anytime soon, I’m not either. Does that answer your question?” Kris asked with intense eyes but a playful smile.
Jungah softened a bit. *Damn. I have to stop forgiving him so easily.* “Whatever.” She mumbled then half-heartedly waved, “Call me.” Jungah left the house, and Kris heard the door close shut.
Disheartened once his fire and energy left, he gazed at the ground with slumping shoulders. *How will we all get out of this mess safely? Will we even be able to?*