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My Boyfriend is a Part-Time Tiger

Fandom: Speed, VIXX, 2NE1 (with cameos from various other groups, I think)
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Warnings: None in this one I don't believe.
Previous Chapters: One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six.


Everything started a week before the three day event. The day before they registered, they'd made sure everything went smoothly, including the spell during the shift, how SeJoon reacted to a spell, and how they acted around each other in various situations. It left JongKook feeling cold and frustrated and mostly lonely, no matter that SeJoon was right there.

It just felt weird, acting like he was nothing more than an acquaintance when he wanted hijack him into the work room and... well. He couldn't, and even just curling up with the tiger was forbidden.

Forbidden, no, but they'd both noticed, and SungMin had confirmed it, that any kind of extended intimate-ish contact made them lose their progress. They couldn't act impartial after that. Which made him want to scream.

So they didn't do that, they slept in separate beds to make sure JongKook didn't walk in his sleep and didn't crawl into bed with SeJoon while he was half asleep. It still made him crazy with loneliness, with the feeling that things were just going to go wrong. He kept it hidden as much as he could, more for SeJoon's sake than anyone else, but apparently they noticed, because they all seemed to walk on eggshells around him.

And around SeJoon.

Maybe it was just the stress of it all.

It was a complete relief to show up to the arena to check in and get signed in, the fee paid, and to go in to get SeJoon's health checked on. It wasn't anything he had any control over, but he tried to walk the fine line between too watchful and not quite watchful enough. He could see a couple of women, acting like mothers or girlfriends, standing over a couple of the tigers. But there were others, who kept their distance, not cold, but more calculating.

He could do that.

So he watched as the medics - none of the men from their last stay - checked SeJoon over, as one of the lackeys checked his credit and money, then they were assigned places to stay, and given the day to get settled in and get their training schedules. Some took them up on it - meals and everything provided - and some didn't.

JongKook couldn't see why some made it and some didn't, and honestly didn't try very hard to figure it out. He didn't recognize anyone, none of the tigers, none of the sponsors, although he did think he caught sight of Dongil and it made him freeze for just a moment.

Still, he thought he did pretty well, keeping his head and spending most of his time in their room when SeJoon wasn't training.

When he was, though, JongKook watched, keeping an eye out. He did see Mr. Han, who checked out the tigers with a practiced eye, but he still checked everything out with Dongil, who stayed close to him.

They didn't meet until some time on the third day, on the way up to find something to eat. JongKook walked with SeJoon, who had become human, and they talked about the competition, about what they could do - as SeJoon was a bit smaller than the rest - and how he could defeat them. It wasn't easy, especially when they saw Dongil walking toward them.

He passed them without comment, without a second look, but then they heard his footsteps stop. It took all of JongKook's self control to keep from turning to look at him.

“Now we find out if JungWoo got the scent thing right,” Jongkook muttered.

“He did fine,” SeJoon said, but didn’t take his hand. Jongkook wished he could. “It’ll work fine.”

They got lunch and sat down. Jongkook ate but didn’t really taste it. He concentrated more on trying not to let the panic he refused to show SeJoon take him over. He knew they had to confront - or at least see - Dongil at some point, and they’d find out how well the spell would work.

Through the first half of lunch, though, they saw nothing of Dongil. “It’s either worked, or he’s too busy right now to talk to us,” SeJoon said. “Let’s assume it worked.”

“And act like it did, because even that could throw him off enough that we don’t end up in crate to Busan,” Jongkook said wryly.

SeJoon laughed. “Exactly.”

They could be reasonably sure they couldn't be heard, but that didn't stop them from practically whispering. Even in the cafeteria, they planned, watching the other tigers and the sponsors of those who had them.

Most of them didn't seem to have sponsors, which JongKook found almost depressing. Those would probably end up in Han's stable, as a way to pay off the entrance fee. If he didn't find it so appalling he would have thought it a smart business practice.

No, that wasn't right. It just wasn't right at all.

"I'm done," he said abruptly, pushing his food away, his appetite gone.

"Give me a sec," SeJoon said, and finished his meal in three bites.

"Slow down, sheesh," JongKook snapped. "You don't need to make yourself sick. You have training this afternoon."

"Yeah, yeah," SeJoon said, and they took their food to the trash and trays to the kitchen for washing, and then went back down to their room.

The only reason this didn't make JongKook freak out completely is that the hallways and ramps were well lit, the rooms as bright as they wanted, and there weren't guards every few feet. Other than that, it looked almost exactly like the place they'd been held. When they went down to the ground floor, JongKook sometimes tried to find the tunnel to the training grounds and the cells. Unable to really look like he wanted to, because of the the lack of privacy, he never found it.

That afternoon, JongKook watched SeJoon work with one of the trainers - not Dongil - he felt someone join him leaning against the rail in the observation booth, He glanced sideways and felt his heart drop.

"He looks good," Dongil said. "You're brave, fighting a Bengal in with all these Siberians."

"He thought he'd learn a lot," JongKook said absently. "And he is."

“I bet he is,” Dongil said, and shifted to look at him. “You feel familiar. Have we met?”

Jongkook turned to look at him, willing himself to stay calm. Not that he thought he could, but he’d try. “Met? I don’t think so, not before this,” he said.

Dongil smiled, baring his teeth. “I’ll have to figure out where I’ve met you. I normally don’t make people nervous the first time I meet them.”

“Make people nervous?”

“I can smell your fear,” Dongil said, his smile changing to a grin. He patted Jongkook’s arm, and Jongkook managed not to flinch. “Enjoy your stay, and good luck to your tiger.”

Jongkook nodded his thanks, focusing on SeJoon as he twisted to get away from the tiger he faced and currently trained with. He didn’t relax until Dongil had left the box. By the time he went to meet with SeJoon, his heart rate had slowed and evened out.

"What did he want?" SeJoon asked as they walked up the ramp.

"I suspect he wants to add you to his more permanent stable. It's what they advertised for. He'd better be careful or he'll scare people off."

"Yes," SeJoon said, and they stopped talking about it at all in their room.

JongKook tried not to freak out, tried not to throw himself at SeJoon and let him soothe his fears, but he couldn't do it. Instead, he paced, his steps almost frantic. It helped, though, because by the time SeJoon had finished napping, he'd calmed down enough to sit at the table and write a quick journal entry.

The rest of the time, up until the first day of the tournament, Dongil ignored JongKook, but JongKook caught him watching SeJoon, caught him smiling in away that let JongKook know they didn't want to have anything to do with him if at all possible. They just had to stay clear of him. Completely.

Now if they could just figure out how to do that....

****

"I'm not going in until the last day, and I'll be in disguise," Hakyeon told Taewoon, sitting across from him at their table, remains of dinner between them. "I can't manage it any other time, and I'm not sure the background would hold up to any scrutiny.”

"That's fine. I can wear a wire if you want, and so can Yoohwan, although I suspect that they'll try to block anything like that."

"Good point," Yoohwan said.

"But they can't block the cell coverage," Hakyeon said. "They rely on that to get the word out. They don't want to keep people unable to tell their friends. They'll want to keep it under wraps, yes, but they want the word to get out."

"Money," Taewoon said with a scowl. "They'll use the money and the videos to bring in watchers and participants."

"Exactly," Hakyeon said. "The final night is always better attended, because by then it gets deadly. Everyone is more tired and tigers make mistakes."

"That's... morbid," Taewoon said.

"It's human," Yoohwan said, and they both looked at him. He shrugged.

"Will you be there?" Hakyeon asked Yoohwan.

"I will, and so will Taewoon. I'll be me, because they know me, some of them."

"That sounds perfect. I need you to watch for someone for me."

"Your superior?"

"Yes." Hakyeon handed over a picture. "I don't know if he'll be in disguise or what, but if you spot him, tell me. I'll make sure it gets into my report."

Taewoon held up a hand. "Your report?"

"He blocked me from helping," Hakyeon said. "I don't care if it's human or someone else, you don't get in the way, and especially not for your own entertainment."

Taewoon nodded. "Let me know if there's anything else we can do," he said.

"I will, thank you," Hakyeon told him. He took a deep breath to calm himself down. "But as it is, I'm doing this on my own. I don't dare ask anyone else, I don't want to give it away."

"Makes sense," Taewoon said. Yoohwan nodded.

"Is there anything else we need to cover?" Yoohwan asked.

"Like if there's anything we can do while we're there," Taewoon elaborated.

"Keep an eye out, roll cameras, and do your best to keep out of the line of fire when we do go in," Hakyeon said. "And make sure your boys give their testimonies when my people show up."

"I'll make sure they know," Taewoon said.

"Thank you," Hakyeon said, and bowed. "I'd better get back to work. I just hope this doesn't mean I lose my job." He shrugged. "If I do, at least I've done something worthwhile."

"If you do, you're welcome here," Taewoon said.

"Thank you," Hakyeon said. "I appreciate it."

Yoohwan waited for Taewoon when he returned to the living room. "You're going to do it," he said.

"I'm going to ask JongKook and SeJoon after this, and probably Jungwoo, too," Taewoon said, sitting down. "With that many of us, we won't run so short on people or resources, so that this doesn't happen again. I don't want this to happen again. I don't want to have an angry tiger yelling at me because what I did wasn't enough."

"No." Yoohwan agreed. "I can't imagine that was fun."

"Scary, even if I knew he couldn't shift too well," Taewoon said. "It's not an experience I want to repeat."

"And you think JongKook and SeJoon are a good match?"

"Yes. Especially because I know how scared JongKook is, and he's still doing this. I know how much it means to SeJoon. I think they'll get better and they'll add more, and I think they'll be a great asset."

"They will. Hakyeon is frustrated," Yoohwan said.

"I can't blame him," Taewoon said, glancing out at the brightly sunny day. "I really can't, not with his superior getting in the way of his investigations. It doesn't even have to be this one - I don't think it's only this one, in fact. I think it's been a few of them."

"I hope he finds the proof he needs," Yoohwan said.

"You and me both," Taewoon told him.

****

The training went on. And on. And on. It wasn't much, no one went up against each other - mostly they sparred against the trainers, neutral tigers not involved in the tournament. JongKook watched on pins and needles as SeJoon went up against the larger tigers again and again, learning how to defeat them, learning how to get around with his size and strength. All he needed was wiles and strategy - all he had to depend on - and he learned them well. JongKook enjoyed that part.

He still didn't like the fighting, but he pretended he did. As himself, they knew he wouldn't watch. So he made himself attend all of SeJoon's practice sessions, made himself watch them, tried not to betray his worry in them. He had no idea how well he did.

“Learning anything?” Dongil asked, startling Jongkook away from the events down in the arena.

“A few things,” Jongkook said, looking at him for an instant before going back to the tigers in the arena. “Mostly good ways to keep him from losing. Hopefully enough to keep him on top through this whole tournament.”

Dongil looked closer at him. Jongkook saw it out of the corner of his eye and kept his attention on SeJoon. His narrow escape from a move he should have seen coming made Jongkook narrow his eyes. “Pay attention to your opponent, idiot!” he yelled.

When he looked back, away from an abashed tiger, Dongil had gone. Jongkook didn’t let his relief show.

"What did you think?" SeJoon asked as they walked back to their room.

"You will have to be faster," JongKook said. "You can't wait around for them to come for you. take the fight to them."

"What did Dongil have to say to you?"

JongKook glared at him. "You shouldn't have looked away from your training."

"What did he want?"

“Wondered if I was learning anything,” Jongkook said. “Next time, no matter what’s going on, you keep your attention on the fight.”

SeJoon huffed. “Fine.”

The after-training food had increased. JongKook understood now why they'd asked for so much up front. After today, they'd start the tournament.

"So, food, and then sleep, and it starts tomorrow," JongKook said, taking his chair and leaning against the wall.

"You think I'm ready?"

"You look good. Just keep out from under them, and it'll be better."

SeJoon shook his head. "I'll do what I can," he said.

"You're faster than they are. You can use that."

SeJoon laughed. "Yes, dad," he said, and shifted to eat the raw meat they'd left for him.

JongKook watched him, then closed his eyes and leaned his head back against the wall. He didn't look forward to this at all.



It went as rough as JongKook had expected. He stayed in the audience, in the box for the sponsors, unable to check on SeJoon without it looking suspicious. He did go once, when it looked like he'd gotten hurt, but he found that the medics had taken care of it, with better experience than the last group that worked with Han. Somehow, he doubted Han would keep this group on. Probably they'd cost too much.

For the most part, though, everything seemed to go okay. He didn't have too many heart-stopping moments, and none of them happened when someone near him would be able to tell. He thought he spotted Yoohwan in the crowd once, but he couldn't get close enough to find out, and decided not to risk it.

That night was the worst in a long time. "I'm fine," SeJoon protested when JongKook took the time to check him over.

"Yeah, you say that, but I'm not sure you wouldn't hide something that could really take you out."

"I wouldn't," SeJoon told him.

JongKook sighed and sat down on his bed. He hated this. HATED it. He couldn't do a complete check like he had before, couldn't curl up and hear his boyfriend breathe, couldn't... just couldn't. That first night lasted longer than the week before and longer even than the month before it. It just....

"Hit the lights when you go to sleep," he said shortly. "In fact, do that now. You have a long day tomorrow."

"Yeah, yeah," SeJoon said, and minutes later the lights went out.

In the pitch dark, JongKook could let out his fears, and let down the mask he had to wear, and let the world - who couldn't see - know how scared he was.

The second day, Dongil walked around among the group of sponsors, talking to them. He didn't exactly avoid JongKook, but he didn't go out of his way to talk to him.

He caught up to them both at the lunch break, standing casually in their doorway, watching them. The cafeteria had closed when the tournament started, to cut down on possible fights or retaliation from the losers - both tiger and human. Staff delivered the food to the tigers and their sponsors. SeJoon had opted to stay in tiger form once the tournament started, to conserve energy. "You two are good," he said.

"Thank you," JongKook said. "We've worked hard on keeping him in shape and ready to face these much larger tigers."

Dongil looked at them in some confusion, as if the conversation had gone a direction he hadn’t expected. “Are you sure we haven’t met before this?”

“I’m sure I’d have remembered,” Jongkook said. Sejoon looked up from the now-empty bowl of raw meat, licking his muzzle clean. “Not everyone accuses me of being someone else.”

With a shiver, SeJoon shifted back to human. “Do you have a reason to be here?” he asked.

Dongil watched him, eyes narrowed. "You have a very good spell on you," he said.

"We all have spells on us," JongKook said with a bored wave. "Go away. He needs to rest for the afternoon fights."

Dongil laughed and moved away from the door.

JongKook and SeJoon exchanged glances, then JongKook shrugged. "Weird guy," he said.

"Yeah," SeJoon agreed. "No question about that."

It didn't help JongKook feel any better, and he played with the chain at his waist, trying to keep from showing how nervous Dongil's constant comments and presence made him feel. Not that it helped, most of the tigers knew it, but as far as he knew, he had to put on a good face for the rest of the sponsors, and he was pretty sure they were all human.

Hopefully.

By that night, most of the tigers had already been eliminated, leaving four for the final day. Night, really, as they didn't start until after four. JongKook lay curled in his bed, tired and unable to sleep.

He hadn't been sure they'd make it this far, but SeJoon was as good as they'd hoped. He had come through with barely any injuries, something of a surprise and a miracle. He wished he could curl up with SeJoon, listen to him breathe, make sure - absolutely sure - that he was okay. He could only do so much with the visual checks he did, and he'd learned to figure it out by listening to his boyfriend's body.

They couldn't do that.

One more night. Get through tomorrow, and they could manage to get their life back together, their relationship back on track, and he could almost taste the freedom. Please let him make it though this last day.



A knock at the door interrupted their breakfast, and JongKook went to open it. Mr. Han smiled at him. "I have a proposition for you," he said. "May I come in?"

JongKook stepped back. "Please. We're just finishing breakfast."

"Is your Tiger in human form and awake?" Mr. Han asked.

"Yes," Jongkook said. "We were discussing strategy. Hopefully he'll sleep more this morning before the matches tonight."

Mr. Han nodded and turned his attention to SeJoon, walking into the room to join him at the table. SeJoon watched him evenly. Jongkook sat down on the bed, only a little distance from the table where they sat. "I have an offer for you," Mr. Han said without looking at JongKook.

"Oh?" SeJoon asked.

"I'd like you to join my permanent stable. I like the way you fight, and I believe you'd be an asset. It's always good to have a secret weapon, and I think you count."

"I haven't won the tournament yet," SeJoon said.

Mr Han smiled. "Confidence. I approve. Even if you don't, you're a good enough that with a little more training, and more intense training, you'd be able to beat everyone here."

SeJoon looked down at the table, brow furrowed. "I can't just walk away from my sponsor," he said finally, gesturing at Jongkook.

Mr. Han's expression didn't change. "I would compensate him, of course. A refund of half of your entry fee, plus half off all tickets to any fights he's in, as a spectator."

Jongkook blinked in surprise when Mr. Han turned to face him. "That's... very generous," he said. "Can we have some time to discuss it?"

Mr. Han nodded without a trace of impatience. "The offer stands, no matter what ranking he gets in the fight tonight, and if you wait until after the end of the tournament, say tomorrow morning, the price will go down," Mr. Han said.

"I understand," JongKook said. "I can reach you in your box at any time, correct?"

"Between fights, please. I don't want to be disturbed during them."

"Of course," JongKook said, and bowed.

When Han had gone, JongKook looked at SeJoon. "Interesting offer," he said.

"Are you interested?"

"With that much money? Yes. Are you interested?"

"He didn't promise me anything," SeJoon pointed out.

"No, he didn't. You could ask," JongKook said.

SeJoon shrugged. "I don't know, I guess it would depend on how much I'd get to fight."

"A lot," Dongil said from the doorway. He let himself in and closed the door behind him. "I see Mr. Han was here."

"With a generous offer," JongKook said.

"Do you plan on taking it?" Dongil asked.

"We haven't decided one way or the other," JOngkook said.

"I hope you do," Dongil said, an acquisitive light in his eyes that made Jongkook want to take him out.

"Why?" SeJoon asked.

"So I can see what you really are." Dongil gave them both an appraising look. "I bet I could even talk him into keeping your sponsor around."

"Why?" Jongkook asked, trying to stay calm. His hands rested on his thighs, fists clenched, fingernails digging into his palms.

Dongil turned to look at him. "Because I'm sure I know you, and I can take you apart at my leisure to figure it out why."

SeJoon frowned. "I don't really care for that," he said. "I like my sponsor and friend the way he is. Leave him alone or my answer is no."

Dongil's lips twisted in amusement, as if they'd just proven something. "I'll go, then," he said. "I plan to know the truth before this is all over."

He left, and JongKook carefully let go of his fists, easing his grip on his hands. "That is a very disturbed man," he said, trying to will his heart to slow down. It had only taken Dongil's threat to make him panic, and he wanted to calm down before they came for the final rounds.

SeJoon pressed his shoulder, the best he could do. "If he's around, I suggest you say no," he said.

JongKook nodded. "I understand. Besides, the offer was to you, and if you don't want to go, there's nothing they can do. Or I can do."

The only problem, of course, was what Han might do if they did say no before the end of the tournament. Before Taewoon showed up and got them out of there. So he'd make sure to keep him off guard and not give him a straight answer.


****

The arena looked brighter tonight than it had the last two nights. Taewoon glanced around, not sure what had changed, only that something had. He kept looking around, catching as many people as he could, checking out the video camera placement. He didn't know if Hakyeon's superior would come or not - he hadn't seen the man either of the other nights - but he kept looking.

He knew Hakyeon was here tonight, although he hadn't seen him. People crowded the stands, the noise almost deafening in the enclosed space. He wondered that no one ever heard them, and then realized that this was actually, mostly, legal. No matter how much he wished it otherwise.

Yoohwan caught his eye and nodded at him, and Taewoon nodded back. Then the announcement came about the final fights, and the introduction of the tigers.

If he hadn't known the names JongKook and SeJoon had registered under, he would never have guessed it from the two that walked in. As always, SeJoon padded next to JongKook without so much as a leash or collar, unlike the others that followed or went before, and it seemed that it made some people nervous, if the whispering around him meant anything.

It also seemed to drive up the odds, with people betting more on him because of it.

The fights were long and brutal. SeJoon managed to pin his first opponent fairly quickly, but Taewoon could see how much slower the tigers moved in general. It took its toll on them. He glanced up to where the sponsors sat, and caught sight of JongKook looking down, his eyes and face calm.

Taewoon made a note to give Jungwoo a bonus. He'd worked serious magic, and it helped. He could see it.

There was a half an hour intermission before the final match, the championship match between SeJoon and one of the other tigers. The added time meant more people went to place their bets. Taewoon stayed in his seat, looking around, trying to look like a gawker. He seemed to have done okay, as far as that went.

He finally spotted Hakyeon, sitting further back and up, in the cheap seats. Hakyeon didn't seem to see him, and that didn't bother Taewoon. It was more a case of knowing where all the pieces were.

He could see the strain in JongKook's face when the sponsors came back, and he wondered what had happened. At the announcement, though, he looked down to watch SeJoon stalk into the arena, looking ready for anything. He hadn't realized until then how much he relied on the white coat to show if SeJoon had gotten injured. A glance up showed no change in JongKook's face.

This fight seemed worse, and seemed to go on forever. SeJoon, already at a disadvantage because of his size, seemed to be doing even worse than usual. He narrowly escaped getting pinned more than once, putting on speed fueled by panic to escape the other tiger.

Until he got where he wanted to be, and then he showed that he hadn't slowed down at all, but was just playing. He rushed the other tiger, pinning him with embarrassing ease, his teeth at the tiger's throat.

Silence filled the arena as the ref called the other tiger out, and then the crowd roared. SeJoon backed up and sat down, panting to get his breath back. The other tiger stood up slowly, blood staining his coat in various places, and he slunk out.

"My friends!" Mr. Han called, after the roar had gone on for quite a while. "My friends, please." It still took him a while to get control. In fact, Taewoon hadn't realized he'd stopped trying to get their attention until he stepped out onto the sands next to SeJoon, a microphone in his hand. "My friends," he said again, and this time, they crowd subsided.

"My friends," Mr. Han said again. "Thank you so much for your attendance and your support. This has been a most successful event tonight!"

The crowd roared again.

"As you might have heard, I had a recent setback, and I intend to make it up. Starting in the next couple of months, I will again be holding regular fights. Keep an eye on the website, the schedule will be posted there."

"I'm afraid the fights, if they happen, will go on without you," a new voice answered, and Hakyeon stepped into the arena, a couple of police officers in uniform behind him. "You are under arrest for the death of at least 15 tigers, and the kidnapping of more than that, including one human."

Taewoon half tuned him out as he listed more of the changes against Han, slowly making his way toward the door.

"Those of you here in the seats. We have your names, we have your faces, and we will find and talk to each of you. Yes," Hakyeon added, "even those with the glamor on. We will find you."

The low muttering had started, but Taewoon didn't heard much of it as he headed down for the main area. Oh, yes, this would be good, and he couldn't wait to see how it ended.


****

Jongkook sighed in relief as he was able, finally, to check over SeJoon the way he preferred to. They'd gone back to their room, and closed the door. First he went over the tiger he didn't know as well, at least not visually, then as the human he didn't know that well, either. Still, it made him feel better to know that everything looked good. He found no major injuries.

And it helped him to touch SeJoon, never mind that he didn't look or sound like SeJoon. If he closed his eyes, he still felt like SeJoon.

"I'm just glad it's over," Jongkook muttered, stepping back to gather everything so they could go. It might be a different place, but he really wanted to get out of there, as much as he'd wanted out of the cell they'd been kept in before.

"Yes," SeJoon agreed.

"You won't be able to hold me," Mr. Han said, and JongKook froze, his hand up at SeJoon who tried to say something.

"Why is that?" Hakyeon asked.

"Because you are an idiot," Mr. Han said.

JongKook found SeJoon's hand and squeezed.

"I'm an idiot?" Hakyeon said.

"I will be out of there so fast it'll make your head spin, and with all charges dropped."

"I wouldn't do that," Taewoon said, and JongKook glanced at SeJoon. "See, I know all the people you exploited last time. And the friends of those that didn't make it. All I have to go is let them know where you are."

"You can't do that!" Mr. Han said.

"Why not?" Taewoon asked in all innocence.

JongKook drew closer to SeJoon.

"You are an officer of the law."

SeJoon snickered.

"No, actually, I'm not," Taewoon said. "Purely a consultant."

"You are an officer," Mr. Han said, and JongKook could almost picture him turning to Hakyeon.

"Yes," Hakyeon said.

"You have to stop him!"

"Stop him doing what?" Hakyeon said, and JongKook had to cover his mouth to stop the laugh that threatened to break out at his innocent tone.

"Threatening me!"

"I didn't threaten you," Taewoon said in that same even tone of voice.

"I didn't hear a threat," Hakyeon said in the same tone, and nearly on top of him.

Mr. Han sputtered, sounding like he tried to say something but couldn't quite manage to find the Korean words. It faded, as well as Hakyeon's words as he read the man his rights.

JongKook collapsed into giggles, unable to keep them in anymore, and tried desperately not to fall over. He leaned on SeJoon, who, it seemed, had also succumbed, and they leaned on each other for a while just to keep up.

"You know," SeJoon said when they'd stopped laughing, "You could have said yes and done a LOT of things with that money he offered you."

"Oh, I know," JongKook said. "I thought of some of the things I could do. The problem was, every time I thought of something, I would have wanted to do it with you, so what would have been the point? I mean, I'd rather have the tiger than the money, and so... here I am. Besides," JongKook added, grinning at SeJoon. "If I'd said yes, you might be on your way to Busan right now, and I'd never get my money."

SeJoon laughed.



The clean up lasted late into the night, and by the time it ended, SeJoon and JongKook were ready to go home. They went through the interview process with LeeTeuk, informing him of their true identities, and watched as the crowd of tigers and spectators went up past their little door.

Neither of them spotted Dongil. "That's not good," JongKook said, looking at SeJoon as they fell in behind the last stragglers. "Where do you think he's gone?"

"I don't think it matters," SeJoon said. "He isn't all that important. I mean, he couldn't do something like this without Mr. Han's backing. We don't have to worry about something on this scale from him."

"No," JongKook said, and fell silent. It still made him nervous, and he couldn't refute that. He didn't know what else to do, honestly, and he really wanted to just... keep going. Go home and forget all about that. But he didn't know if he could, because Dongil was out there, and he wanted SeJoon.

And, even if it was by his own words, he'd promised that he got what he wanted. JongKook wasn't ready to give up SeJoon yet. If ever.

The crowd had mostly dispersed by the time they got up to the parking lot. Taewoon and Yoohwan waited for them by the gate where most people got in, looking happier than they'd been the last time they'd seen them. "Nicely done," Taewoon said.

"Thanks," SeJoon said.

"We're heading out to celebrate," Yoohwan said.

"We are. Do you two want to come along?"

JongKook glanced at SeJoon, who looked back at him, and JongKook saw the same look in his eyes that he knew was in his. "No, thanks," he said. "I think we'd like to just go home."

Taewoon smiled knowingly. "Okay. Here." He handed JongKook his keys. "Take my car. We're going to grab a cab home."

"Are you sure?" JongKook asked.

"Positive. Here." Taewoon held out JongKook's phone. "Call Jungwoo and let him know you're finished. You'll probably wake him up, but I don't think he'll mind."

"If he does, he can get over it," SeJoon rumbled. "Thank you, both of you."

"Thank you," Taewoon said, and clapped JongKook on the shoulder. "Enjoy yourselves."

"I think we will," JongKook said, and took SeJoon's hand, heading in the direction Taewoon indicated he'd parked his car.

SeJoon took over looking for it as JongKook called Jungwoo. "What time is it?" Jungwoo asked, sounding asleep.

"I'm not sure, sorry to wake you," JongKook said. "We're done. Can you lift the spell?"

"Oh, yeah, give me a sec." He set the phone down, and then SeJoon rubbed his ear - and it really was SeJoon, not that weird guy that had SeJoon's eyes in his head.

"Thanks," JongKook said. "Sleep well."

"My pleasure," Jungwoo said, sounding almost asleep again. "Night." He hung up.

JongKook laughed and hung up as well. "I don't know about getting over it," he said, taking SeJoon's hand. "I would rather not get a sorcerer mad at me."

"Wimp," SeJoon teased.

"I knew it was you two."

They both spun and glared at Dongil. "What are you doing here?" JongKook demanded.

"I'm getting mine back," Dongil said, his lips twisting in a snarl. "You took everything away from me."

"Like what?" SeJoon asked. He tugged gently on JongKook's hand, pulling JongKook behind him. JongKook went willingly, glad to be away from Dongil's glare.

"Like you," Dongil snarled. "You should have been mine."

"Why would I do anything with you?" SeJoon asked. "There was nothing I had in common with you."

"You are were-folk," Dongil snapped.

"That's not enough," SeJoon said. "You are ... so not worth my time right now. If you want an argument, you can wait until I've gone home and spent some quality time with JongKook."

"I'm not waiting for anything to do with him," Dongil said, the scorn in the last word enough to nearly make JongKook cringe. "He can wait for me to finish with you." He stepped back and shifted.

"You've got to be kidding me," SeJoon muttered. He let go of JongKook's hand. "Stay out of the way," he said, and then shifted himself.

This fight JongKook couldn't look away from. He watched it from behind one of the few cars left in the lot, trying to make sure to stay out of the way. It was brutal, more so than in the arena, because Dongil wanted to hurt or kill SeJoon, and SeJoon wasn't opposed to doing the same thing. In the end, even with three days of tournament fights behind him, SeJoon managed to pin Dongil down, his teeth on Dongil's throat. Dongil went limp.

JongKook spotted Taewoon's car, and ran for it, hoping for something. To his relief, he found some rope in the trunk, and headed back with it in his hands. He called Hakyeon on the way, letting him know about their adventure. "I don't mind talking to LeeTeuk," he added, "but can it wait until tomorrow? I want to go home."

"It can wait," Hakyeon said. "I'll send someone out to pick him up."

"Thanks," JongKook said, hung up, and knelt down by Dongil's back feet. "You could shift," he said. "It might be more comfortable if you do."

It took a minute, but Dongil did, gasping at 500 lbs of tiger on top of him. "Get him off," he groaned.

JongKook tied his feet, making sure to make the knots tight and the bonds tight enough that Dongil couldn't get out of them. He touched SeJoon's back. "I've got these, if you want to check his feet," he said.

SeJoon huffed, growling, but he did finally move. Dongil sat up, but then SeJoon had shifted and shoved him over, onto his front, and pulled his hands behind him. "What did Hakyeon say?"

"He'll send someone to pick him up, and that we'll have to talk to LeeTeuk, but that can wait until tomorrow."

"Good," SeJoon grumbled, taking the rope and binding Dongil's hands. "Better make it tomorrow afternoon. We have so much to catch up on."

"You make me sick," Dongil said, but whatever else he might have said disappeared into the mud as SeJoon pushed his head down.

"Oh, don't kill him," JongKook said. "He needs to pay for things, and a quick death is just a waste."

SeJoon looked at him, and then stood up, smiling. "I like this new violent side of you," he said.

Dongil groaned. Over his groan they could hear the sirens of the approaching police. "Let's get out of here before we have to answer more questions," JongKook said, and tugged SeJoon toward Taewoon's car.

They got out of the parking lot just as the police went in. SeJoon watched long enough to find out they'd gotten Dongil, and then he curled up in the seat and put his head in JongKook's lap.

He napped all the way home.

Jongkook parked the car, and then he and SeJoon got their things from the back seat, carrying them up to their room. SeJoon tossed his inside, locked the door, and then grabbed Jongkook and kissed him. Jongkook had just enough time to make sure his own stuff didn't wind up on the bed, and then melted against SeJoon and kissed him back.


****

JongKook had never been in this restaurant, and he didn't think he'd ever go again - it cost more than anything he'd ever eaten in. On the other hand, the food was also that much better than anything he'd ever had, so he supposed it made sense. He was glad that Taewoon hadn't told SeJoon he could eat as much as he wanted because that could have broken him.

Taewoon and SeJoon were comparing notes, although JongKook didn't know what about, and Yoohwan and Jungwoo were engaged in some sort of debate, which JongKook didn't care about. He didn't mind being left alone, able to sit and watch and enjoy the company of people he considered friends. He hadn't had that sort of moment of peace in a long time.

"What are you thinking about?" SeJoon asked a few moments later.

"How nice this is," JongKook said. "I mean, that we have these friends that know all our secrets and don't care."

SeJoon grinned at him. "That is nice," he said, and leaned on JongKook. "You just look so melancholy."

"I don't want it to end."

"Dinner?" Taewoon asked.

"No, just.... this feeling of friendship and belonging. I mean, we did something good, all of us, and I... don't want to stop," JongKook said.

Taewoon smiled. "I guess now is the time to make you my offer," he said.

"Offer?" SeJoon asked.

"Yes. Yoohwan and I consult with the police department, but that's not all we do." Taewoon went on to explain about their helping out with private people, too, involving the police when they needed to, but focused more on helping people. "We work well as a team, all of us," Taewoon said. "I know Yoohwan and I do, and it's really nice to have you three with us. Can we include you from now on?"

"Absolutely," Jungwoo said. "I've been looking for people to work with for a while now, and I think we mesh well together."

Jongkook stared at them, surprised. "You want us to... join you?"

"Yes," Taewoon said. "I won't tell you that it's not dangerous. You two know that already. I will tell you that if you feel like you can't do something, I won't force you to do it. You can always say no."

Jongkook reached for SeJoon's hand. "Can we talk about it and get back to you?" SeJoon's hand closed around his, making him feel better.

Taewoon smiled. "Yes," he said. "You can."

Through the dinner, Jongkook listened to their plans, watching SeJoon, watching the others, and thinking. Taewoon hadn't once pressured him into going with SeJoon through the whole thing. The others seemed willing to listen, even liked some of SeJoon's suggestions. By the time they ordered dessert, JongKook knew. He knew they'd fit in, knew it was what he wanted. He just didn't know about seJoon. "Hey," he said, leaning close to SeJoon and catching his attention. "Can I talk to you?"

SeJoon pushed back his chair. "We'll be right back," he said, and stood. Jongkook stood as well.

"Everything okay?" Taewoon asked.

"Yes," JongKook said. "I just need to talk to him." They wove through the tables and went outside.

"What's up?" SeJoon asked as Jongkook pulled him into the shadows.

"What do you think?" he asked.

"About that?" SeJoon asked, gesturing back to where they'd come from. JongKook nodded. "I want to do it. They like us, and they can work with us. And will work with us. Why?"

"I want to tell him yes," Jongkook told him. "I just wanted to know where you stood."

"We aren't going to get a better offer," SeJoon said, and kissed Jongkook. "Room, board, hard honest work, and a boss who cares. What more can we ask?"

"I don't know," Jongkook said, and laughed shakily. "I'm afraid to find out."

SeJoon hugged him, and Jongkook nestled into him. "Whatever else happens," SeJoon whispered, "You'll always have me."

"You'll always have me," JongKook said, and took a deep breath. "Let's go back in and tell them."

SeJoon laughed softly. "Yes, we should."

Sitting down at the table, Jongkook smiled at Taewoon's inquiring look. "We've decided," he said.

"We'd like to join you," SeJoon said.

Taewoon smiled. "Yes! Fresh drinks all around," he said, suiting actions to words. "A toast, to the group of people who are going to take down the bad guys the police force can't get."

Jongkook smiled and raised his glass with the rest. He glanced at SeJoon, who grinned at him, and knew they'd found where they belonged.

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
svtstarlight
May. 19th, 2016 09:39 pm (UTC)
yaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay!!!

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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