A while ago
Choi Chung-ho finally reaches the first floor of the office building, holding the folder the Kims gave him tightly against his chest. He smiles brightly at the people in the sitting area and nods when the security guard opens the door for him. He mumbles a soft thank you before the door closes behind him. As always, a car is already waiting for him in front of the building. Walking to it, Choi smiles at his bodyguard when he opens the door for him.
He slides inside the car, setting the folder down on the empty spot next to him.
His secretary turns in his seat to look at him. “How did it go, sir?”
What looked like a bright smile transforms into a smirk when his eyes return his secretary’s stare.
“Just as planned.” He leans back in his seat. His fingertips brush against the folder when he extends his arm, reminding him of its existence. “We’ll have what we want soon.”
If everything goes according to plan, he’ll divide what has to be the strongest unit in the city, probably even the country. How he wishes he was there to watch it fall and crumble. To see them suffering and breaking apart into pieces so fine that no one would be able to put them back together. Although, if they are as easy to take down as he anticipates, then they weren’t really the strongest unit in the organized crime setting after all.
They’ll become pawns in his game.
And soon enough, they’ll be disposable.
“I’m assuming they don’t suspect anything then.” The other man says.
Choi chuckles. Crossing a leg over the other, he follows the blurry figures of pedestrians through the window. His face drained of any emotion. “Of course, they don’t.” the corner of his lips twitches with amusement. “Kim Kai and Do Kyungsoo think they’re so above everyone… They should embrace for impact soon.”
They would fall from that pedestal they put themselves on.
And he would be there to smile at the shattered pieces.
He’s going to make sure of it.
Kai looks anything but presentable, and he knows it. It’s a miracle his body is moving, and his brain is fuzzy after spending so much time behind his computer. The several sleepless nights are not doing him any favors, especially when he has to be the most alert he’s ever been. Everything gets down to this one move. If he can pull it off, then he’ll get what he wants. Part of his body is buzzing with anger and anticipation, while the other part tells him he needs to keep his cool.
It’s going to be fine .
Choi’s associates’ meetings are becoming a trend, apparently following his father’s steps. While Kai’s not looking forward to socializing with these people, he wouldn’t miss it.
Especially with all the latest information.
Kai’s eyes scan the room for Choi. He hasn’t arrived yet, more than likely learning a trick or two from his father. However, there’s another familiar face he’s expecting to see but cannot find. He shoves his trembling hands inside his pockets.
He’s going to end things here.
Facing Choi in front of this many people could be a challenge, considering most of these people are on his side. However, Kai doesn’t have the patience to wait. After everything he’s done, it is only fair that they settle this as soon as possible. He needs things to go back to the way they were.
Jongin and Minseok are following him as he moves around the room. As always, he chose a public location for the meeting. It doesn’t surprise Kai in the slightest. Choi’s father also hated having people in his living space. Kai could relate to that.
He wouldn’t trust any of these people inside his home.
Some of the other men approach him. Most faces he can recognize, although it looks like Choi has been doing business outside their circle. He doesn’t like the way the strangers look at him. He knows Jongin is thinking the same with the way he tenses up next to him. Kai can see in his eyes the way he keeps evaluating every course of action in case goes wrong.
And it probably will.
“Kim!” a guy who Kai has done business with in the past greets him. “Everything okay? You look like you could use some sleep.”
Kai finds strength within himself to smile. Appearances are everything, after all. “All good. I’ve been working a lot lately.” He shrugs.
“I heard you’re not Do’s puppy twenty-four seven anymore.” Another one says. He steps closer to join the group, however, decides to keep his distance in the end after noticing Jongin’s glare. He chuckles, and Kai does the same.
“Why? Are you trying to take my spot?” Kai smirks when the other’s smile fades. He’s honestly not in the mood to deal with these people. Most people criticizing his actions would break a limb to be in his place. Kai doesn’t have the energy to pretend he likes these people anymore. Luckily, Choi walks in with his team just in time. He looks the happiest he’s ever looked as he greets everyone on his way in.
When it’s his turn, Kai takes a deep breath, pulling from his core to make his smile look genuine, he knows Jongin won’t do any effort to be polite, so it’s on him to keep appearances with the other man until the time is right.
“Mr. Kim, I’m glad you could make it. I heard you were out of town not too long ago.” Choi gives him that innocent grin he’s known for. This time, he can see through it. He can see the wicked amusement behind it.
“It was a short trip.” Kai nods.
“Well, I’m glad you’re back.” Choi quickly moves along, leading everyone towards a large table settled at the center of the room. They all stand around it. A server offers each of them a drink which they accept. Kai smiles as he waits for the man to start the meeting.
Choi takes a sip of his drink before he speaks again. “As you may be aware, there have been some changes in the way we operate. I wanted to keep everyone informed of the changes so that it doesn’t take anyone by surprise.”
Kai watches him carefully. He speaks very eloquently, with no trace of the nervous, too innocent for his own good man that his father introduced many months ago. It’s almost hilarious that he never saw it before. However, it was probably because he only saw what Choi wanted him to see. He gazes around the room, looking at the expectant faces of the other businessmen there. Looking for a hint of recognition in their eyes.
If this is new to someone else, they only have a few seconds to hide it.
And whoever is already used to this has probably worked with him closely before.
The new people are the hardest to read. Some of them are looking at Choi intently as he speaks. Meanwhile, others seem distracted. Neither of them looks surprised.
Kai feels Jongin shifting his weight from one foot to the other behind him. He’s losing his patience, which is the first thing Kai told him he needed to have. Patience is the key to what they’re doing. Kai listens to Choi talk about his warehouses, deliveries, new spots, and potential clients. The merchandise he might have access to in the future.
And he waits.
He waits patiently.
Choi gives his now empty glass to one of the passing servers. “There are more surprises to come along the way. So, please wait for me to settle everything.”
Kai sees his moment, and he takes it.
Kai scoffs. “Like what? Like you taking over Lee’s territory? There was no window for discussion on that front.”
People whisper around him as Choi returns his stare. Challenging almost, despite the bright smile.
“Do you have proof of these allegations, Mr. Kim?”
“Oh, I have plenty.” Kai smiles. “I believe a relative of yours was seen by Lee’s old warehouses having a meeting. A brother? A cousin maybe?” He tilts his head. Reaching out, he grabs the papers Minseok hands him, slamming them over the table. A few of the other men quickly grab the pages to see what’s going on. “What? You don’t want to be seen around your claimed territory?”
The whispers rise as some of the confused businessmen turn to Choi.
Choi chuckles, glancing down at his feet before he nods. A hand clasping at the back of his head. “I was planning to give the news once that was fully under control. I plan to divide it in a way that benefits all of us.” He shrugs. “I’m afraid you ruined the surprise for everyone.”
Kai can feel everyone’s stares on him. He won’t be able to keep his act for much longer. “Hmm. Is that the excuse you were planning to give us? Lee has been dead for several months now. If you were going to do that, I’m sure you would’ve done it earlier.”
“I have a lot on my plate, Mr. Kim. I-”
“Or perhaps that was the plan all along. It was a win-win situation for you when you orchestrated Kyungsoo’s kidnapping.” Kai bites his bottom lip. “Lee took all the heat for you, and you get to absorb his organization. Making yours stronger even if that meant your plan failed. Although I have to give it to you. He was perfect for the role, dumb and impulsive.”
Choi’s smile fades. Kai can see the buildup. He’s reaching a limit. “Mr. Kim-”
“And so were you. Looking so innocent and out of your comfort zone. I always wondered how your father thought putting someone like that in front of his organization was a good idea, but it was a lie. The biggest scam of them all.” Kai laughs. “I must admit, I underestimated you. You played the part so well and pulled so many strings. The hits on my businesses, the kidnapping, the security breach we had, the change of documents. It was all part of the plan, wasn’t it?” Kai’s hands curl into fists inside his pockets. His barely contained anger threatened to come out.
Choi Chung-ho is silent. He simply watches Kai in silence as the rest of them glance between the two, looking mostly confused about what’s going on. Eventually, Choi laughs, not the typical, innocent laugh, however. It’s dark, filled with intention as he runs a hand through his hair. When he recovers, his face lights up with something only Kai can recognize.
There he is.
When he looks at Kai again there’s no sign of the man he thought Choi was. No trace.
“Well, Mr. Kim… I see you’ve been familiarizing yourself with my work.” Choi laughs again. He circles around the table, tracing the solid wood with a finger as he approaches Kai. “Took you long enough. That incredibly smart brain everyone talks about turned out to be much simpler than I thought. I honestly expected a challenge.”
Kai hums. “Is that why you did this? To test me?”
“You see, Mr. Kim, you seem to think everything revolves around you. The underworld, this city, the world, and the universe. Everything is about Kim Kai. Do Kyungsoo is just the same. Walking around like he owns the world.” Choi shrugs. “Turns out it doesn’t, although I do want what you both have… the power and the connections that were handed to you both and that you have been so greedy about from the very beginning.”
Kai throws his head back in laughter. “Handed to us?” he can hardly believe it. “You think all of this was handed to us?” Kai steps closer, which makes Jongin step forward as well. “You don’t know if that’s what you thought. Everyone in this room knows my father did not give me a thing, not even respect. The fact that you think he did is hilarious to me.”
“And Kyungsoo? He fought for every piece of power he has. Even if you succeed, you will never be half of the man he is.”
Choi takes a deep breath. Kai noticed he didn’t like being interrupted. “It certainly will be hilarious once you’re left with nothing.” He says, ignoring Kai’s last statement. The kid is brave. Kai had to give him that much. “Do Kyungsoo is just the beginning, and don’t worry. I won’t stop until I destroy both of you. My last attempt didn’t work, but let’s see how lucky he gets once you’re out of the way.”
Kai’s smirk grows. “You think he needs me? You fool. Do Kyungsoo doesn’t need anybody. He can handle you on his own… I’m almost shocked you’re making such declarations in front of this crowd. I thought I would have to push more for a confession.”
“Nobody here would dare to say a word outside of this room if they know what’s convenient. Despite what you might think… I hold some power and did not fool everyone, just you.” Choi smiles, patting Kai’s arm, which ends in his hand being slapped away by Jongin. “Nobody will back you up, Kim.”
Kai nods, exhaling. “I see. Well… I can guarantee, there’s someone in this room who will.” He steps to the side, turning to face the back of the room, where Chanyeol and some of his men have been standing inconspicuously for a while. Chanyeol huffs, before stepping aside as well to reveal the not-so-friendly face of none other than Do Kyungsoo.
His face shows no emotions; however, Kai knows what he’s feeling.
Because he’s feeling the same.
Kyungsoo walks toward them. The floor trembles under every step he takes. Kai is very pleased with the collective shock expressions and the silence that is engulfing the room. But what pleases him the most is how Choi’s confident façade soon falls as he watches the man approach them. Their eyes never leave each other.
Kai smiles. “You see… I’m very good at catching up.”
Choi glares at him once Kyungsoo stands in front of them. Face smoothed into an unimpressed look.
Jongin moves just so he’s standing behind both, with Minseok also covering his back. If things go south, they should be able to respond quickly.
And knowing Kai, things will definitely go south.
“I must say it was unexpected, although you could definitely do better than this,” Kyungsoo says with a sigh.
“I almost broke you two in half. I played with both of you. Don’t fool yourself.” Choi chuckles.
“Almost being the keyword,” Kyungsoo says. “My father always says it doesn’t count unless you succeed.”
“We’ll see next time, then.”
Kai gasps dramatically. “Oh… you thought there was going to be a next time?” He raises a hand to his chest. “How cute.” He turns to Kyungsoo. “He really thought he would have another chance.”
Kyungsoo smiles for the first time. “Don’t worry, he’ll wake up soon.”