Worried conversations surrounded the lobby of NCT’s 3rd floor building. Jisung was about to leave the place before Chenle grabbed his arm.
“I am coming with you.” Jisung removed Chenle’s grip without saying a word. The latter followed his best friend out to the parking lot.
The atmosphere was so heavy that none of the two could utter words to each other throughout the drive to Mark’s place.
Upon arriving, Jisung removed his seatbelt and immediately rushed to the house while frantically knocking on the front door. Chenle followed him swiftly.
“Mark Lee, come out of your house this instant! Mark Lee! We know you are in there. Mark Lee get out now!”
Jisung was shouting to the point that it was scandalous. Chenle tried to cover Jisung’s mouth with his palm to stop him but the latter just bit it. “Ouch! you Jisung!”
Jisung awakened from his rage when he heard Chenle curse at him. He looked at his best friend who was holding out his bloodied palm.
“, Chenle! I’m sorry!” Tears were starting to form in Jisung’s eyes. He was in a panic now. He was just crying and repeatedly says, “I’m sorry!”
Chenle grabbed the handkerchief inside his pants’ back pocket and wrapped it around his bleeding palm before talking again to Jisung.
“I am fine now Jisung. See?” Chenle said softly while he reached for Jisung’s face so that the latter can look at the now-covered wound.
Chenle wiped Jisung’s tears before telling him calmly, “let’s go back to the car for now.”
After Jisung has calmed down and stopped crying, he faced Chenle and again said, “I’m very sorry,” for the nth time in a span of an hour or so.
“You’re forgiven Jisung. Now we have to focus on finding where Mark is. Got any plans?”
“Let me call someone.” Jisung put his phone on speaker mode so that Chenle can also hear the other line.
“Hey. Did you record where Mark went to?”
“I’m sorry Sir but I didn’t get any more recording after the one I sent you,” said the person on the other line. His voice was trembling.
“What do mean?” Jisung’s voice sounded aggressive again. Chenle lightly patted him on the shoulder to remind him to calm down. And Jisung surprisingly did.
“It seems like the people in the house removed the devices already.”
“So you mean to say that they knew about the surveillance?”
“I’m afraid to say that might be possible, Sir.” Jisung’s getting anxious again while Chenle does his part to calm his best friend.
“Thanks for not helping,” Jisung dropped the call pissed off.
“Jisung, we’ll find him on our own, okay. Chenle grabbed Jisung’s hand and held it tightly with an assuring smile.
When Jisung didn’t speak, Chenle went on to ask his question, “when did you start putting surveillance on Mark?”
Jisung relayed to Chenle how it all began. How he started to become suspicious of Mark and all.
“….it got even worse when you started defending him, who is barely a stranger to you, and turning your back against me, your best friend since childhood. It hurt Chenle. I felt threatened. I thought I was losing you to him.” Tears started pouring down Jisung’s eyes once again.
Chenle didn’t know that this was what his best friend has been feeling. All he could reply to Jisung was, “I’m sorry. I didn’t know.”
Jisung hugged Chenle tightly. Once Jisung stopped crying, he drove the car away from Jeno’s house and went back to their office first to fix the current situation.
Meanwhile inside the house, “they’re gone, Mark.” Jeno was talking to him on the phone.
“Are you okay? Did they get in your house?”
“No, they just knocked aggressively but I am fine. They thought no one is inside. How about you Mark, are you safe there?”
“Yeah. I think I am perfectly safe here.” Jeno felt a little uncomfortable with Mark’s answer. “Good. Oh Mark. I just want you to know, one of the guys who went here a while ago looked familiar to me but I can’t fully remember where I saw him. I just hope he knows nothing about our parents.”
“What do you mean?”
“I don’t know. Maybe I’m wrong. Forget about it. Just text me if anything happens. Stay safe and congratulations on your successful launch.”
“Thanks, Jeno. Couldn’t have done this without your help.”
“I’ll leave you with that. Thanks for showing me what you do here,” Jeno went out of the room in awe of his own cousin.
Jeno felt something was different in the house. The moment he entered, he felt as if someone was watching him. While his cousin was busy inside his workroom finishing the robot, Jeno looked around inside and outside his house for any changes. There he noticed something odd.
“Since when did Mark install these?”
He returned to Mark’s room and before the other boy could speak, he signaled for him to keep quiet and just follow him out.
Jeno whispered to him, “I think you have surveillance around this house.” Mark’s eyes widened in surprise as he couldn’t think of anyone possible. But then it hit him, there might actually be someone.
Jeno directed Mark to the first device he saw. The two carefully and silently removed the said device. They went on doing the same for the other ones, including the tiny video cam near their front door.
They went to Mark’s room without talking to deactivate and destroy the devices. When they were finally sure they are already unfixable, Mark turned to Jeno.
“I need to get out of here together with all my stuff. I think someone from NCT already knows about my plan and it’s only a matter of time before they start hunting me down.”
“Where will you go?”
“I honestly don’t know. Since mom barely remembers anything that has got to do here in China, I know nowhere else other than here Jeno.”
“Hmm. I think I have an idea where to. Let’s go and pack your stuff so you can leave as early as tomorrow.”
“Where will I go?”
“To our parent’s rest house near the woods.” Mark has no idea how that place looks like but he doesn’t want to mind that anymore. What’s important at that moment was for him to leave Jeno’s house because anyone from NCT comes at him, or worse, the police.
Year 2021 @ Karina and Lesa’s rest house
“Hey Jisung! Thanks for coming out here to join us in our safe space,” Karina greeted. “Does your bff know you are out here partying with us?” Karina’s sister Lesa joined in the conversation.
“Yeah. Chenle knows. I actually asked him if he wanted to come but he happens to have a trip with his parents abroad at the same time hence it’s only me.”
“You don’t always have to give excuses on behalf of Chenle. I know perfectly well that the only reason he didn’t come was because he despises me so badly,” Lesa retorted before leaving Jisung and Karina alone.
“Don’t mind Lesa. She just doesn’t know how to express her crush on Chenle that’s why she chooses violence instead to proclaim her love for your bff.” Karina laughs.
“Lesa likes Chenle?” Jisung asked in disbelief.
“Yep. But don’t tell Lesa that you know. Oh she will kill me. Also, don’t tell Chenle, please. She’ll really kill me.” Jisung nodded and promised to keep his mouth shut. “Thanks Jisung. I’ll leave you for a while. I’ll just greet the newcomers.”
Jisung went around talking to his classmates, orgmates, and other acquaintances from the university. He got a few drinks and danced the night away.
He excused himself to go and get some fresh air. As he was walking around the area, he heard some weird noises coming from one of the cabins. He got curious and so he looked through the window and saw two bodies on the bed passionately doing it. He accidentally hit his head on the window which distracted the couple inside making them see him red-faced.
The two immediately put their clothes on and tried to run after Jisung.
“ ! What did I just see? Oh my god, that was Karina and ~” he was stopped in his tracks he heard Karina shouting his name. “Jisung wait!”
Karina was panting together with a guy Jisung didn’t expect to see with her.
“Jisung. Please don’t tell anyone. Please. Renjun can’t know about this.”
“Karina, you are cheating on Renjun.”
“Yes, yes I know. But please, please. Don’t tell him anything. Please.”
“This isn’t my problem and story to tell so you can expect that I’ll just forget I saw this. But fair warning, Karina. If you will just cheat on Renjun, it’s best to just end things with him before it’s too late.” Karina nodded and muttered a sincere, “thank you Jisung. Thank you so much.”
Jisung went back to where the party was happening and left the two behind.
"Hey Jisung!" He was taken back to reality when he heard Lesa call him. "By any chance, have you seen where Karina is?"