The wooden floor screeches under Kai’s footsteps. His steps are confident, almost threatening, approaching what turned out to be the first job of the day. His head tilts slightly once he gets a good look around the place. The dirty wooden floors, old and cracked wallpaper, the single mattress sitting against the window.
He really thought he could hide here.
Kai rarely does these jobs personally. Collecting was not on the top of his favorite things to do. However, when someone was stupid enough to involve other gangs that had no respect for what his organization represents, he has no choice but to step in himself. He sees Minseok standing a few steps ahead, his back turned to him.
The man is wearing gloves, and even without looking at him, Kai can tell there isn’t a drop of blood on his clothes, despite the mess on the surrounding floor. Minseok turns as soon as he gets close enough, his bright white hair carefully pushed back as always. Emotionless eyes returned his stare.
Minseok glances at the man currently tied to a chair. His head is hanging and by the looks of his face, he wasn’t having such a good time. Even when Minseok had been holding back.
“He was getting ready to leave. I got his burner phone and got the numbers of every person he has been in contact with.” Minseok says. “Apparently, he’s been collecting some favors and got involved with some annoying people, dropping your name time and time again.”
Kai hums. “Fun.” He kneels in front of the man, who barely registers the movement. His face is a painting. There’s sweat and blood sliding down the sides of his face. “I thought you knew better.” Kai whispers.
“He has family downtown.”
Kai nods. “Well, hopefully, he used my money to give them a better life, otherwise I’ll be disappointed.” He stands once again. The man moves slightly, his broken voice is barely audible. “Finish him and let’s make sure he didn’t get his family in trouble with other people.”
“And the money, sir?”
Kai sighs. “There’s nothing to collect here… let him be an example.”
Minseok nods, pulling out his phone. He takes one glove out before he quickly types something before shoving his phone back into his pocket.
“I’ll be outside.” Kai leaves, not sparing another glance at the already dead man behind him.
Walking out of the ty apartment, he notices people gathering nearby, worried looks directed at him and the two men guarding the door. Whispers rise as they see him. It’s probably neighbors or people passing by and noticing the black cars parked in front of the apartment building. He’s not worried, however. Kai waves at them, wearing the brightest smile he could pull off. Some people stay but look away, almost ashamed that they got caught staring. However, others quickly move on with their day.
Kai scans the area, finding Jongin standing by the stairs, leaning against the railing. He’s scrolling through his phone, looking up once he feels his brother approaching.
Kai nods. “For now. We’ll have to wait and see if there isn’t any consequential damage.”
“Right… well, for now, we should worry about that new deal,” Jongin says, running a hand through his hair. “I’ve gotten at least five calls today about it. Mr. Han is impatient.”
Kai frowns. “The SC group deal?” It was fairly recent; however, it could be one of his most profitable legal deals. They had been working on the terms for a couple of months now after the offer came up not too long ago. It was an excellent opportunity, and Kai was not one to let those pass by. However, their only flaw was their impatience.
“Yeah. Apparently, they sent back the terms for review too long ago and they want answers.” Jongin nods. His phone’s screen lights up and he glances down at it, a sudden smile spreading over his face.
Kai raises an eyebrow. “Soo?”
Jongin blinks and nods. “Get in contact with them today.” His fingers quickly type out a message before he puts his phone away.
“Yes, dad.” Kai chuckles when he receives a glare from his brother.
“We’ll have lunch with Soo today too, by the way.”
Kai smiles. “Perfect.”
Minseok walks out of the apartment, giving the men by the door a few instructions. He takes off his black gloves, throwing them away at the nearest garbage can. “We’re all set.”
Kai grins, pinching his cheek gently, only for his hand to be slapped away. “Good. Is there anything else on the list we need to do before we head back to the office?”
Jongin’s phone rings and he steps aside to take the call.
“Yes. Chanyeol is at the warehouse, so we should stop by. But that shouldn’t take too long.” Minseok walks down the stairs with Kai following behind.
“Oh, so we’re seeing Soo early?” Kai smiles.
“I don’t know when we’ll be done.”
“Sure, but we’re seeing Soo early.” Kai smiles.
Minseok sighs. “Is he all you can think about?”
“I might have to get myself a new boss.” Minseok shakes his head.
Kai laughs. “You know you love me, Kim Minseok. You can’t erase ten years of working together.”
“My biggest regret,” Minseok says, opening the car door for him.
“So you say, yet you’re still here.”
“Get in, or I might not be soon.”
The sound of quick footsteps rushing down the stairs cuts their conversation short. They turn to see Jongin heading toward them with determination. His frown is almost cutting his face in half. One look into his brother’s eyes tells Kai something is wrong.
His heart sinks when Kyungsoo’s face comes to mind.
“What is it?”
“We need to get to the office now.” He says, getting inside the car.
Kai sighs. He doesn’t like where this is going.
“We’re not seeing Soo early, are we?”
He receives a couple of glares in response.
Kyungsoo massages the back of his neck, stretching in his seat. Doing paperwork isn’t as exciting as fieldwork, but someone has to do it. He has a few businesses he has to check on and, more often than not, it brings in more work than he expected. A sigh leaves him as he looks at the time. He should get ready for lunch.
A break or two wouldn’t hurt. Right?
“Hyung!” Youngmin walks into the office with a smile. “I’m heading out to check on the team. Do you need anything?”
Kyungsoo smiles. His brother is always so eager to help, and so keen to do something for the organization. “Not really. All I have after this is lunch with Kai and Jongin.” He shrugs. “I’ll leave with Baekhyun or Jongdae once everything is done.”
Youngmin rolls his eyes. “How long are you planning to keep them around, Hyung? Business partners is one thing, but this is getting ridiculous.”
Kyungsoo laughs. “Don’t be mean, Youngminie.”
“I’m just saying.”
“Have in mind Youngmin…” Baekhyun says as he steps inside, wrapping an arm around Youngmin’s shoulders. “Your dear Hyung is long gone for those two.”
“You would be one to talk.” Kyungsoo arches a brow.
“He didn’t deny it. See?” Baekhyun chuckles.
“I don’t know which one of you is worse…” Youngmin shrugs Baekhyun’s arm away, crossing his own over his chest.
“It is what it is, kid.” Baekhyun winks at him.
“I have a bad feeling about them, anyway.”
Kyungsoo sighs. “They haven’t given us any sign of bad faith. If they do, we’ll handle it accordingly.”
“Whatever you say, Hyung.”
Jongdae knocks on the door before joining in as well.
“Should we head off?” He asks.
“Are we both going?” Baekhyun leans against the wall.
“I have an important lunch date, so whichever of you is free can come,” Kyungsoo replies.
Baekhyun smirks. “I’ll let Dae go see his cute little white cat.”
Jongdae narrows his eyes at his friend. “Say that one more time.”
“Did I lie?”
“Okay kids, relax. I won’t take any of you if you keep this up.” It’s almost as if the two can’t listen to him as they leave the office and head to the car. A waiting Sehun opens the back door for them.
“But I didn’t lie, did I?” Baekhyun says.
Kyungsoo can’t help but smile. His team always lightens his mood.
Every single time.
Stepping out of the elevator, Kyungsoo walks down the familiar hall that will take him to Kai and Jongin’s place. He quickly inputs the code and once the door opens, he notices something is different. The smell hits his senses before anything else. It’s sweet and light. He walks in with Jongdae on his heel, both looking as confused as they feel when the first thing that greets them is a tray filled with decorated cookies by the entrance.
The deeper he gets into the apartment the stronger the sugary scent gets and the more cookies he sees. They’re everywhere. Finally, he sees Jongin in the kitchen, an apron tightly wrapped around him and a concentrated frown gracing his features as he decorates another tray. The dining room table is filled with cookies and so is the coffee table in the living room.
The couch, the counters.
Kyungsoo’s eyes widen as he looks back at Jongdae, who has the same expression on his face.
It feels like they stepped into someone else’s house.
“Uhh, Jongin?” Kyungsoo slowly approaches the other man. Jongin’s head snaps as he looks back at him. Surprise flashes into his eyes, which makes Kyungsoo worry even more. There aren’t many instances in which Kyungsoo walks into this apartment without Jongin hearing it.
“Everything okay?” Kyungsoo watches as Jongdae eats a cookie. They exchange a look.
“Well, it looks like your apartment became a bakery.” Kyungsoo grabs one himself, standing next to him.
Jongin takes a moment to look around the space. Eyebrows touch the top of his forehead as he realizes. “I didn’t think they were that many.”
“Were you drugged or on autopilot? How is that possible?” Jongdae says. He stops talking when Kyungsoo sends him a glare.
“I…” Jongin sighs.
The sound of the front door opening echoes around them, making way for Kai and Minseok to walk inside. Kai’s face lights up immediately when he sees Kyungsoo is there. He’s holding a bag that he later puts down on the little counter space they have.
“Lovely seeing you here, Mr. Do.” Kai smiles.
“Mr. Kim.” Kyungsoo chuckles. “Mind letting me know why Jongin suddenly drowned your apartment in cookies.”
Kai’s eyes flicker to Jongin, and he sighs. “Long story short, we had a security breach in our office building today. This is him taking out his stress.” Kai shakes his head. “I brought the sugar you asked for, by the way.” He gestures at the bag.
“Thank you.” Jongin grabs the bag.
“A breach? How?” Kyungsoo looks between the two. This is not something that happens often, however, it’s something they could expect. Neither of their offices' security is impenetrable.
“We don’t have any details yet. Our team is getting the security camera footage as we speak.” Kai shrugs. “Nothing was taken apparently, however that only leaves more questions than answers.”
Kyungsoo sighs, wrapping an arm around Jongin’s waist. “When will you get the info?”
“Probably soon, hopefully before we’re swimming in cookies.” Kai chuckles as his brother gets a new bowl. “They’re trying to get clear footage of his face, but who knows? I’m just curious about what they wanted.”
“I would be too.” Jongdae frowns. “Were they inside your office?”
“Apparently, but everything was in its place.” Kai glances at his brother. “Jongin thinks they didn’t find anything of value for them. My theory is that they were looking for us, but luckily, we were out.”
“You’re their target?” Jongdae asks. He faces Minseok, and the other seems to have the same uneasy expression. Something is not adding up.
“Maybe.” Kai chuckles. “But it’s whatever. All we have to do is strengthen our security.”
“It’s not whatever. Someone could be out there looking to hurt you.” Kyungsoo frowns. A knot starts to form in his stomach.
“Once we identify this person we’ll see how to proceed,” Kai says.
“That’s if we can identify them at all.” Minseok sighs. “Their face doesn’t show that often.”
“So they knew how to avoid cameras.” Jongdae frowns.
Neither of this information is comforting.
“In the meantime, how about we go out for lunch then? I can’t let this go on any further.” Kyungsoo pulls Jongin before he gets the chance to start a new batch.
“No, we’re going out for lunch,” Kyungsoo says. “And we’re giving away the cookies.”
A known smirk pulls the corner of Kai’s lips. “Oh, but I can’t give away all the cookies.” He bites his bottom lip playfully. “There’s one I’d rather keep.”
“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that.” Jongdae turns around to leave the apartment.
“Good luck. Just send him the therapy bill.” Minseok agrees.
Kyungsoo sighs. “We’ll discuss it later. We’ll have lunch, for now.” He pushes Jongin gently towards the living room. He still looks fairly tense, so Kyungsoo holds his hand. “No matter what it is they’re looking for, you know you have me, right?”
Jongin sighs, his eyes landing on Kyungsoo’s. They hold each other stare for a silent second. Whatever it is Jongin sees in him is enough to make his body visibly relax. He breaks the eye contact then, looking down at his shoes and nodding.
“What? So, you’re going to protect us?” Kai tilts his head. The corner of his lips keeps twitching as he tries to hold back a smile.
Kyungsoo raises an eyebrow. “Why? You think I can’t?”
“Oh no, you’re very capable of it… it’s just… cute.” Kai’s resistance breaks and a grin spread across his face. “Do Kyungsoo is going to protect me? ”
Kyungsoo lets out a sigh. “Let’s go.”
Both Minseok and Jongdae shake their heads as they make it out the door.
Kai laughs. “What? You said it, not me. Do you like me that much?”
Kyungsoo scoffs. “I was talking to Jongin when I said that.”
“Right… but you said you’re going to protect me.”
Kyungsoo takes a deep breath as they leave. In between all the teasing and joking around, he must admit to himself.
That he does like him that much.
“Kim Kai, you know I have other clients, right?” Junmyeon walks into the office with a raised eyebrow. He’s holding a briefcase and his tired eyes speak for him. “You can’t just call me and expect me to show up magically with what you need.”
Kai rests his chin on his hand with a smile. “This is what our relationship is, Junmyeon. I call you on short notice, you complain, I do it again and the cycle continues.”
Kyungsoo chuckles. “Don’t worry Junmyeon, I’ll make sure he contacts you within a proper time frame from now on.”
“Oh, but what’s the fun in that? There’s no rush of adrenaline, no anticipation.” Kai winks at him.
“I’d rather not have any of those things.” Junmyeon sets his briefcase over the desk, pulling out a few documents and handing them over. “I put in everything you asked, so they should be good. Let me know if the other party approves.”
Kai briefly checks through them. “Sounds good. Choi should be here soon.”
“Okay…” Junmyeon frowns. “Also, I heard someone broke in. Is it true?”
“News travels fast,” Kyungsoo says.
“It sure does.” Kai leans back in his chair. “Who did you hear this from?”
“A few gangs have been talking about it, but I’m not sure who their source is.” Junmyeon runs a hand through his copper-black hair. “Be careful. I have a bad feeling.”
Kai smiles. “You’re worried about me too? I’m finding out today how much people actually like me.”
Both Junmyeon and Kyungsoo let out a heavy sigh.
“Don’t worry, it’ll be fine. They’ll find out who they’re up against soon.” Kai shrugs. “Either way, we’ll be out of town soon, so don’t miss me too much.”
“I’ll try not to.”
There’s a knock on the door, and then Kai’s secretary peeks inside. “Mr. Choi is here, Mr. Kim.”
“Ah, our guest made it. Let him in.” Kai smiles at her.
“That’s my sign to leave.” Junmyeon closes his briefcase. “Gentlemen.”
He leaves just as Choi Chung-ho walks into the office. His smile is almost instant as he lays eyes on them. He greets them cheerfully, pulling a chair across from them to sit. All smiles and good vibes, as always. He hadn’t been doing a terrible job with his organization so far, so Kai had to admit he probably underestimated him at first. The man has been keeping up with his deals and he has noticed a notable improvement here and there.
“Mr. Do, Mr. Kim, it’s nice to see you.”
“Choi,” Kai nods. “Your documents just arrived, so you’re in luck.”
“That’s good to hear.” He smiles. “If we close this deal soon, we’ll be right on track.”
Kyungsoo nods, sliding a folder over to him. “Check them carefully and let us know if you have any issues or questions. You can reach out to me or Kai.”
“Thanks, Mr. Do.” Choi scans through the folder briefly, before holding it against his chest. “I will do so carefully, and I’ll get in contact once I’m ready to sign it.”
“Sounds good,” Kai says. “You’ve been doing a good job so far. I hope you haven’t had a hard time adjusting.”
Choi smiles, looking down, he rests the documents on his lap. “It’s been a process for sure, but I’m lucky enough to have my father’s support and other family members. Everyone has been nice.”
“It must be a relief to know he supports your decisions,” Kyungsoo says.
“Sometimes it feels like that, however, I was taught from a very early age that nothing comes easy and that I should work hard to earn anything in life.” Choi then looks at them. “So even when it may not seem like it, I’ve been working behind the scenes to earn a spot in this world, and I’ll keep working hard.” Choi’s eyes collide with Kai’s, sitting there for a moment.
Kai shifts in his seat. There was something there that he could not name, something unsettling. He hums, raising an eyebrow.
Kyungsoo nods. “Well, let’s hope you succeed.”
Choi blinks and whatever Kai thinks he saw is now gone. “Thank you, Mr. Do, I sure hope so too. Now if you’ll excuse me.”
He then exits the office, folder in hand. Kai watches the door even a while after he left. His mind spins with a few thoughts.
Kyungsoo stretches, sitting back in his seat. “You okay?”
“Hmm? Yeah. Why?”
“You seem lost in thought.” Kyungsoo reaches out, his fingers brushing Kai’s hair out of his face.
Kai smiles, holding Kyungsoo’s hand against his lips, pressing a soft kiss there. “I’m fine, don’t worry.”
“Are you sure?”
Kai nods. “More than ever.”