"We need to talk about what happened last night."

Sicheng didn't have to turn around to know that Doyoung had fixed him with a scrutinizing stare, not unlike the sort that a mother gave her child when they'd done something wrong and had yet to own up to it. His tone was expectant, like he anticipated a flood of confessions to come spilling from the gang leader's lips.

"It's a long story."

"You disappeared and led us to believe that you were dead for four months, then suddenly popped back in to kill Wooseok, take a few hostages, and maim a cop. I have time."

Of all people, Sicheng knew that there was no real way to stop Doyoung once he'd gotten started. He certainly wasn't afraid to demand answers, even if he was demanding those answers from a man who was known for being ruthless. Sicheng was convinced that he did not fear death; rather, death feared him.

He inhaled deeply, letting the breath back out in a long sigh as he finally turned around to face Doyoung, the crackling blaze on the hearth now warming his back. He had been right. Doyoung was giving him that trademark glare. He allowed a few beats of silence to pass in hopes that the man in front of him would have a change of heart, but there wasn't one. He still waited for something from him.

"... I think I'm in love."

"Oh my God."

Sicheng bit his lip as he watched Doyoung consider what he'd just been told. Well, it's the truth.

He stood there, not saying anything for a long time. Was it that hard to believe?

"... if this is how you act when you're in love, please never do it again."

"Come on. It's not like I've never shot anyone before."

"Not a damn cop," Doyoung fired back, lowering his voice as if he didn't want to be heard by anyone else in the near vicinity. The other gang members were likely fast asleep. "Do you know what will happen if you try to show your face in the city again? Your ass will be shot on sight. It's a wonder we haven't already been sniffed out, Sicheng. Staying in a mansion just because you can isn't exactly subtle."

Doyoung was smart. He was a hell of a lot smarter than Sicheng, and it pissed the gang leader off to no end.

"... everything I did was for a good reason. Just... trust me," Sicheng mumbled. A torrent of emotions had begun to bubble up in his chest and threaten his stability.

"Trust you? Sicheng, just trust you?" An edge of disbelief had crept into Doyoung's voice. "Do you expect us all to just... just blindly trust you after you left for months then came back without warning? We all thought you were dead. Wooseok took over because he thought you were dead. It wasn't easy thinking you were dead. In fact... in fact, it felt like shit," He explained, the quiet tone of his voice that he'd taken on previously now slipping away. "Donghyuck... was devastated, Sicheng. He was not himself for weeks. Somehow I fail to see the good reasoning behind what you did."

The fire burning behind Sicheng felt several degrees hotter against his backside, the uncomfortable heat causing his palms to perspire.

If there was anything he was awful at, it was apologies.

But, unfortunately, he was able to recognize when one was needed.

"I'm..."

There was a hitch in his breath. He lowered his head, casting his gaze towards the ground.

"... I'm sorry, Doyoung. I... shouldn't have left you like that."

Each time he finally swallowed his pride and apologized, he expected every single problem to go away. It never did work out like that.

He heard the floorboards creak as Doyoung moved from his place, turning his back to Sicheng on his way out.

"I'm not the only one who needs to hear that."

He left, but the tension he brought with him didn't.


Yuta was still in the master bedroom where Sicheng had last seen him when he made his way back upstairs, making sure to walk softly as to not disturb the others who were sleeping. He wasn't even entirely sure how many of them knew he was alive; he knew Doyoung did, and that was where his certainty ended.

"Was he as mad as you thought he would be?" was Yuta's greeting upon Sicheng's entrance. He had been flattening out shirts, including his own that he'd pulled off, and placing them on the edge of the bed just a few moments earlier, but now he laid on his stomach against the silk sheets, folding his arms in front of him and resting his head there.

"Oh, he was pissed," Sicheng responded, a morbid chuckle slipping into his answer. "No doubt about that."

He seated himself on the edge of the bed, propping his leg up to pull his shoes off. There was a brief pause, then he heard the bed creak as Yuta adjusted his position behind him. He felt a pair of familiar hands take hold of his shoulders and apply light pressure to them.

"Is he going to kick me out?" Yuta's voice had been reduced to a whisper just by Sicheng's ear.

Sicheng didn't normally allow things to faze him, but there was a suggestion of fear in Yuta's voice that made his stomach twist.

"... no," He said softly, turning his head to glance over his shoulder at Yuta. He let his shoes drop to the floor before he rotated around to face him, having to lower his head slightly. "No, he's not going to kick you out. I'm still the leader here, Yuta. I just... have to... I have to say sorry to... some of these guys. But you're staying."

Yuta bit his lower lip, turning his head as to not look him in the eyes. Sicheng reached out and gently took him by the chin, reclaiming his attention.

"I don't... want to get kicked out... not again," The nineteen year-old allowed an empty laugh to pass his lips, though it was evident that it didn't do much to lighten his mood.

"You're not getting kicked out again," Sicheng reassured him, his voice firm.

"... do you promise?"

"... yes."

Promises always bewildered Sicheng. They were not tangible, and yet, it seemed a simple word was all someone needed to hear to put the entirety of their blind trust into someone.

But he didn't want to take Yuta's trust and run with it.

For the first time, he knew what a promise meant.