Baekhyun was still waiting on her bed when Lara opened the bathroom door, silver dress clinging to her curves, black heels hanging from her hand and hair dripping. When Baekhyun rose from the bed and reached to touch her, she stepped back automatically and dropped the heels with a dull clank.
Baekhyun stopped in his tracks, he didn’t dare touch her.
“I’m sorry” he whispered
Lara knew Baekhyun wasn’t just apologizing for startling her, there was so much more. But he would not tell her what exactly all those things were. But as the old good times Lara answered with a simple “No, you’re not”, only this time it didn’t sound as if she was scolding him. It sounded as a defeated cry.
His eyes took in her features, her watery eyes, her rosy cheeks and her trembling glossy lips. But when they found her neck, he found bloody red scratches. In the exact same place, he remembered seeing a purple bite two years ago.
He wanted to put the curtain of hair falling on her face behind her ear and scold her for going back to her old habits. He wanted to hold her close because he knew she wouldn’t cry if he could see her. But he didn’t dare touch her.
“Do you still have the nightmares?”
“They never left”
After a minute of heavy silence, Lara finally looked at him. Baekhyun was broken. His hair was neatly combed, but it didn’t shine as before. Lara concluded that he was wearing that sticky product that magically made the eyebags disappear, because his skin looked as fair as always but his gaze gave out how exhausted he was.
“Why are you here, Baekhyun?”
“Do I have to have a reason to visit you?”
Lara leaned on the wall and looked at him with a raised brow, only she wasn’t smiling as he remembered she had so many times before.
“Okay I get it” he sighed. “We’re not good enough to joke around anymore…” Baekhyun didn’t intend to say it aloud, but Lara heard it and flinched. “Sit” he said, gesturing to the upholstered chair of the vanity “I’ll do your makeup today”
It was three to eight when Lara and Baekhyun stepped into a luxury hotel. By now Lara was no longer amazed by the magnificent crystal chandeliers nor the golden decorations or the velvety red carpeted floor. Neither did the sky-high prices in the menu scare her. But strangely this time there was only a single table laid in the great dinning room. The other tables didn’t have any cutlery or cups – she noted.
Baekhyun had told her the people they had to meet that night were potential business partners that could either do great good or reduce to dust the Business. Lara has strict orders of staying quiet – not that she wanted to talk anyway- and keeping her gaze neutral, without her usual blatant disgust. She had to endure their hungry stares with a polite smile.
None of them knew Lara had been trained even harder than the bodyguards by the door that protected the other five men in the table. Nobody had to know. Her part was a young, delicate lady that had had the luck – or the disgrace – of stealing Byun Baekhyun’s heart, a man that would protect her until the very end of the world. Lara didn’t know the only lie was her being a delicate lady.
As in every previous supper, Baekhyun was much younger than the other men. Some of them didn’t have a single strand of hair, other had their eyes lined with wrinkles. Others simply seemed to have lost the gloss of youth over their opaque eyes and gray skins.
But to Lara, Baekhyun, just a couple months away from turning nineteen, seemed much more tired than any other old man in the room.
“I have heard that this year’s young promises are wonderful” said the man with the red tie. “If I have heard correctly, one of them has even been sent to the Chinese special division”
“Indeed” Baekhyun confirmed. “I had the chance to observe him closely and I can guarantee he is a great fighter”
Lara felt Baekhyun – who had struggled not to touch her while doing her hair and her makeup – was squeezing her hand firmly under the silky tablecloth. She knew then that it was because of that exact conversation that he had asked her to keep shut. It wasn’t as if she could voice her opinion, anyway. She didn’t understand what they talked about. Neither did she care.
“What about the girl?” the same man asked her “It’s not common for a girl to survive the training. Much less that she manages to escape” he laughed hard, holding his bloated belly with both hands. “She must have had quite a good relationship with the instructors, if you know what I mean”
Baekhyun simply nodded.
“And I believe it is also right to assume that also with her current superiors, considering she is already in charge of the whole weaponry business.” He whistled “what was her name? Eunha? Eunji?”
Lara’s whole body tensed. This once, she wished she didn’t understand what they were talking about.
“Eunhee” Baekhyun corrected, “a redoubtable woman without a doubt”
Lara felt sick and snatched her hand away from Baekhyun. She tried to ignore the cold that suddenly bit her skin and Baekhyun’s eyes on her, tracing her features harshly before going back to his disgusting potential business partner. Lara now realized the red tie was so tight around his fat neck it seemed like it would choke him any moment.
“And a true beauty, as I’ve been told”, another man laughed, the one with the waxed moustache. “I would love to be her superior, if you know what I mean”
When the table dissolved into loud laughter Lara stood up abruptly. The impulse sent her chair to the floor and the dull thud of it clashing attracted the men’s eyes to her. But what instantly stopped the obnoxious laughter was her burning glare. Her fists were clenched hard and she felt her whole body trembling from pure rage. Baekhyun looked her with a frown and pursed lips, but little did she care about him being angry.
She did care about the danger she was putting herself into, though. She knew Baekhyun had a high position in that dirty world of his, but she couldn’t be sure he would be able to protect her if she did anything stupid. Nor if he would want to.
Byun Baekhyun was a stranger to her.
“Sirs” she said in a low voice, with a smile so sweet it made Baekhyun shudder, “would you excuse me for a minute? I need to freshen up”
Seven minutes later Lara was back in the dinning room with her knuckles red and raw. She felt gazes grazing the bare part of her legs, her exposed shoulders and her neck. She knew that the way her dress swayed when she walked and swung her arms for balance looked even more delicious for them than the juicy meat cuts laying on the table.
And she was utterly disgusted by that.
She sat on her chair besides Baekhyun and did her best to ignore his stare. When he tried to touch her hand, she pulled away without letting her smile falter. But when he leaned closer and his lips grazed her earlobe, she knew she couldn’t escape.
“I thought you wouldn’t come back”
She felt his fake smirk against her skin and his hot breath all over her neck. She shuddered.
“Where else can I go?”
Baekhyun didn’t answer
“Young Byun”, the man with the red tie said, “Tell us a little about life in the training facilities. Your father told me discipline is essential, but I would like to hear it from a survivor.
Lara hadn’t even touched her food but she felt terribly sick. She closed her eyes and clutched the seam of her flimsy dress between her cold, sweaty fingers. She saw her fists trembling but lost the darkness that crossed Baekhyun’s gaze.
“The instructors are unforgiving. Lessons are tough, I would be lying if I said they are safe. It wasn’t unusual for somebody to be severely injured”
Lara was reminded of every hit she had taken, the pain in her bones when she fell to the ground and the lively screams of the inmates when they cheered one of the fighters. Baekhyun usually cheered for her. And the whole Catacombs cheered for him, even when they already knew he would win.
“We has a weekly competition” he continued. “We had to fight one-to-one until the final. The winner could request something from the outside world. The looser had his hands full with the bullying he had to receive from the other inmates and the harshness of the instructors during the next lessons”
Baekhyun always won. Yixing usually scored second or third. He used to tell her he didn’t need anything from the outside world and would end up asking for whatever Lara wanted. Some years ago, Baekhyun had won a couple of days before Lara’s birthday and had asked for a bouquet of roses to be delivered to her in her special day. She would never forget that scent.
Now she understood that it wasn’t that Baekhyun wasn’t interested in the outside world, he just already knew it. He didn’t need to ask for anything. Most likely, he was in the outside world whenever he vanished.
“If you scored last for three weeks straight” he stopped and gulped, too soft for the others to see but just enough for Lara to catch, “you disappeared”
Lara shook in her place.
“Inmates are not told, but instructors take upon getting rid of weaklings. In our Business we don’t need useless people who can’t grow stronger to assure their own lives”
Somehow, Lara’s hand had ended up on Baekhyun’s knee, squeezing it for dear life. Her fingers were shaking violently and felt painfully dry. With her other hand she made to grab her glass. But her hand was trembling so badly that before she could take the glass it toppled over the table and whatever she was going to drink spilled over the table.
She couldn’t apologize.
“I am so sorry”, Baekhyun said instead. “Lara must be nervous for being before such high gentlemen. Right, baby?
She managed a smile and a nervous nod, though she suspected she was paler than paper. And she was right.
“We can forgive anything to a beauty like her. Don’t worry, baby doll”
She tried really hard not to cringe outwardly because of his words and the disgusting pet name the man in the red tie had given her. She was nobody’s “baby doll”. Baekhyun saw her trembling and urged her, with a smile so sweet she forgot that he wasn’t the Baekhyun she knew, to drink water from his glass.
“So how do the trainees live?” the man with the waxed moustache asked. “I have heard different versions. Some say they have a luxury life, others that rats live better.”
Baekhyun looked at Lara, who was still trembling, and took a moment to breathe before answering.
“Rats have at least the chance to see the sunlight once in their lives. Inmates don’t. They are fed with enough vitamins to endure the training, drinkable water, showers and a nursery, they sleep in rooms for two or four and they are given clothing. It is definitely not a luxury life, but they have what they need to survive.”
What Lara hadn’t expected was Baekhyun’s hand over hers, trembling almost as badly.
“What about suicides? Is it true that many inmates commit suicide?”
“It is. But we are not concerned about that. As I told you before, we do not need weak people. Not physically nor mentally. How can we trust the Business’ security to someone who cannot endure a simple training?”
“What about you?” Baekhyun felt every muscle in his body tensing “How do you feel after spending six years in there?
“I cannot say it was a pleasant experience, but I feel more prepared to lead the Business. I don’t have to trust my safety to a bodyguard, although I appreciate his services. I also like to think that after having seen what I have, I’ve grown immune to death”
“Poor little thing!” Lara swore that if the man in the red tie spoke another of his stupidities, she would lose her mind. “It must have been horrible. Living six years with those lab rats and in that dirty place must have been hell. I imagine you had to fake having mercy for low creatures and endure exhausting training. I can’t imagine Byun Jinhyuk’s son living among dirty children and- “
“You are wrong”
Every head turned in the direction of the voice that had dared to shut the man up, shocked. Little Lara, barely eighteen years old, had just interrupted a mafia lord. Baekhyun’s eyes begged her to apologize and stay quiet. But Lara wasn’t looking at him. She was tearing apart the annoying man in the red tie, so busy she didn’t notice Baekhyun pinching her thigh.
“You are wrong”, she repeated. “The children in the training field are just as human as you. Maybe even more”
“Lara”, Baekhyun warned.
“They lean who can they trust and who they can’t. They learn team work and how toughen both their minds and their bodies. It isn’t about stepping on others mercilessly to get where you want but climbing with your own power. I think it’s pitiful of you to call them filthy when you don’t even understand what those poor kids have gone through. They take away their memories and their families! You have no idea what hell is.
By the time Lara finished, she was panting. Her cheeks burnt and her heart hammered her ribs, but she no longer felt sick nor the icy tremor in her hands. Baekhyun looked at her with utter shock. The other partners simply didn’t know what to say. Except the man in the red tie who was obviously seething.
“What would you know, you brat? It’s a pity that pretty woman have no brains. If you were a bit intelligent you would have kept quiet.”
He got up slowly from his chair and, with a flick of his head, two burly men were holding her arms, tight. Baekhyun got up to stop them, but a third man stopped him.
“Please forgive Lara”, Baekhyun said. “She hasn’t gotten used to all this yet and she can be really sensible about this topic”
“Shut up Baekhyun” she spat. “Don’t you dare play innocent. You’re not better than them”
Baekhyun flinched with her words and the man in the red tie rose his hand. He slapped her – hard - to silence her. She didn’t even move, her head still twisted to the side.
“You shut up, . There are hundreds of women like you: with a pretty face and a birdbrain.” A sweaty hand dragged up her face and she shivered. “Let’s see what hides underneath that cute little dress, baby doll.”
She could put up with the slap, but the hand creeping underneath her dress and touching the long scar in the inner face of her left thigh brought her visions of a bad memory that had her trembling.
“Sir” she heard Baekhyun as if he was standing miles away form her, “I don’t think it’s necessary to take it this far. She doesn’t know what she’s saying, please forgive her just this once.”
But the man ignored him.
“I will show her what happens when somebody dares to challenge me. Show me what you can do, baby doll.
The other men drank easily. Lara couldn’t help but wonder how usual this same scene was to them. As the men touched the zipper with the tips of his fingers, the only thing the could do was close her eyes and bite her lip, hoping for it to end quickly.
Once again, she realized she was weak – helplessly asking for Baekhyun to save her – though, this time, she doubted he would save her. As if the universe was mocking her, she felt his sloppy and sticky lips dragging from her jawline down her neck. Just over the satin ribbon Baekhyun had wrapped around her neck to cover the scars of her own nails.
The men undid the ribbon and dug his fingers harshly on the wound before laughing and saying something about being wild in bed that Lara failed to understand. His foul breath- a mix between tobacco and alcohol – floated over her skin. She wanted Earth to swallow her.
She whispered Baekhyun’s name before giving up to her fate. The images had returned to her closed eyelids. She felt the ghost of a cold hand tracing her wet skin. Another hand covered , Lara could barely breathe. The water – falling from the still functioning shower – made her vision blurry.
She mentally prepared herself to feel the lips of her nightmares nipping at her neck, but it never came. She was brought back to reality by shocked gasps, a blood-curling shriek and a dull thud. The bodyguards holding her let her go and she fell on her knees. Lara opened her eyes slowly to discover Baekhyun with those crazed beast eyes he had when he was angry, smiling with a viciousness that made others pale.
“Didn’t I make myself clear?” he said with a low voice. “I told you to get your filthy hands off her”
The man in the red tie had his hand on the table, impaled by a sharp knife that Baekhyun was still holding. Lara recognized the knife they had been given to cut the meat. The bodyguards had stepped forward to stop him, but Baekhyun had been faster. He was aiming the gun he kept in the inner pocket of his blazer with unwavering resolve.
“You ing brat! What the do you think you are doing?!” the man shouted “Do you even know who I am? When I get out of here I will cancel all my support with the Byun and I will make sure all my partners start war with you” he wanted to sound threatening, but he was panting heavily due to the pain, “You have no idea what you just ing did”
Baekhyun laughed it off. “Yeah but you have to make it out of here first”
The man screamed when Baekhyun twisted the knife and pulled it out harshly to throw it towards the bodyguards. The blade lodged itself into one of the bodyguards’ eyes and his huge body fell beside Lara, who was trembling on the floor.
The man in the red tie shouted a command and two other bodyguards entered the dining room. Baekhyun didn’t stop smiling.
The first bodyguard, a man much bigger and muscular than Baekhyun, was having trouble to keep up with him. His blows were so nimble and accurate he couldn’t undo his defense to attack. Until, finally, Baekhyun knocked him down with a kick to the knee and sank his heel in between his ribs with so much force the man lost consciousness.
Taking advantage in the fact that Baekhyun was busy, another bodyguard approached Lara. She came back to her senses just in time to dodge a giant hand that aimed for her hair. She got up fast and faced the man, cursing lowly. He was at least 10 inches taller than her and twice as wide.
She could tell – from his big arms and the muscles that stood out from under the collar of his shirt – that he had an iron defense and powerful blows. But a man so big and heavy couldn’t possibly be agile. She had to be fast. If the man were to grab her, that would be it for her.
“Don’t you dare to touch her”
Lara recognized Baekhyun’s voice. He was throwing either kicks or punch against his opponent, a lean small bodyguard.
The giant in front of Lara laughed and she swore she felt the crystal chandeliers shaking.
He threw himself at her. She barely had time to dodge him. She stumbled and cursed her high heels lowly. As she regained her balance the man took his chance to give her a rough punch in her stomach. Lara stumbled back from the blow and eventually fell on her , breathless and aching.
The wound in her ribs protested. Breathing felt like an agonizing torture. The pain in her bones was almost unbearable. Almost
I ing hate hand-to-hand combat – she told herself.
Once again, the man ran for her. But this time she didn’t have time to react. His hands were on her wrists, pinning her down on the red carpeted floor roughly and his knees on either side of her hips. He was smiling like a psycho.
“I’m going to punch you until your boyfriend can’t recognize your pretty little face”
But before he could dig his fist into Lara’s face, she had already moved. Relaxing her upper body, she had mustered all her strength into a single point – her knee – with the sole purpose of punching the man between the legs. Baekhyun had told her some time that there was some sort of unspoken deal between men not to punch one another in that sacred spot.
Of course, Lara was a woman and that stupid deal did not apply to her. She watched in satisfaction as the man stilled above her until he fell on his side holding his crotch with both hands.
“ing !” he shrieked
Lara scrambled to her feet before the man could recover and she dug her heel between his ribs. The man screamed un pain. Baekhyun had been done for a couple of minutes and he was now looking at Lara with a smirk from his seat, his blood-stained napkin resting neatly on his lap.
Lara stepped on him again, harder, until she felt something crack under her heels. The man lost all his will to move and even to scream, but he was still conscious.
“Enough”, Baekhyun said
Lara stepped away from the man, panting and holding her rib as if it would ease the pain.
“Sirs”, Baekhyun began, “I believe Lara and I have already proven to you the efficiency of our training program”
He walked to Lara slowly and reached for her wrist. Then, he gently undid the clasp of the wide bracelet and exposed her marked skin to the men. She had the mark of the Catacombs: a serial number as if she were mere cattle.
Lara swore the man in the red tie, who was holding his injured hand to stop the bleeding, was more eager to tear her to pieces than to kill Baekhyun.
“Who the are you?”
Lara straightened her spine and showed him the mark on her pale wrist, daring to stare into his seething eyes.
“My name is Lara, Jung Lara. And I am one of those young promises you spoke about. I made it out of hell”
Her knees were trembling and the pain in her ribs made breathing a painful task. But they needn’t know.
“Now that you know about the results of the program, you can decide if you want to collaborate with us or not”, Baekhyun started. “I Will leave you to think about it. We can meet again when you consider it right. It will be my pleasure meeting you any other day. But”, he grabbed his gun and aimed to the man in the red tie, “you. I’m not interested in the life of a lowlife who does not know when to stop”
“No!” the man begged. “I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to offend you. Mr. Byun please forgive me this once”
“Wrong answer”. He pulled the trigger. Specks of dusted bones and blood flew to the air and stained Baekhyun’s face and shirt. “You’ve offended her, not me”
The dead man’s body had fallen barely two feet away from Lara. Watching the blood seeping slowly out of his body and merging with the already red floor, Lara felt sick. The room was suddenly spinning and the pain in her ribs was long forgotten, yet she still couldn’t breathe. She knew Baekhyun was talking, but it was a distant and distorted sound.
“And you”, he aimed his gun to the fallen bodyguard that had dared to lay a hand on Lara, “I warned you. Look at your partners. They are unconscious, but still alive. I really don’t like killing. But you’ve touched her. And I can’t forgive you for that”
Lara’s knees gave in fully when the second shot shook the crystal chandeliers and the blood dabbled the bare skin of her legs. Baekhyun slid an arm under her shoulders to keep her up. He walked to the table with her by his side and addressed the man in the pink shirt.
“I deeply apologize for making a mess in your hotel and for not being able to enjoy your invitation. I will send one of our units to clean this mess. Thank you for the food, but I think everything has already been said. I will be waiting for your answer regarding the project.”
Baekhyun didn’t know when Lara had fainted. He carried her in his arms carefully to get her out of that cursed hotel. Before exiting the glass doors, he turned to the men with a deadly glare.
“Oh, and let me warn you. If what happened tonight gets public”, he flicked his head to the dead man whose shirt was already darker than his tie, “you already know what will happen”
Loooooong update to make up for the time it took.
Guess what? I finished my exams today!! So I'm officially done with highschool. The next thing is the exam I have to take before going to uni, but I still have like three weeks for that.
Now to the story. What do you think about Baekhyun? Is he acting weird? What do you think he really wants?
And uuuuughhhh, blonde Baekhyun in a suit was superior. He looks so good!!!! So I leave a picture here to let you imagine this Baekhyun as a mafia Boss. That's a yes for me.
Let me know what you think!
Also, I don't think swearing and this not-so-graphic violence was enough to rate the chapter M, but if you feel bothered by it let me know and I will mark it. I hope you are enjoying this story.
And by the way! You can follow me on insta: @its_c.chan. Feel free to DM me!
Once again, many thanks for reading my story.