The air outside was cold enough to painfully bite at the cuts and bruises of Jaehyun's knuckles, but the fire under his skin kept him from stopping no matter how badly it hurt.

"How long have you lied to me? How long?!"

Johnny wasn't even fighting back, and that only made Jaehyun angrier. That he was just sitting there and taking it, like he'd already sentenced himself to this beating. Jaehyun hated pushing against something that would not push him back, but he couldn't make himself stop.

"Get up," he growled, tightly grabbing hold of the back of Johnny's collar and yanking him to his feet. "Get up! Say something, dammit! Do something!"

Johnny responded by turning his head to spit blood, his lip colored a dark shade of crimson.
"I'm not fighting you, Jaehyun," he whispered.

"Why the hell not?!" Jaehyun drove his knee into Johnny's ribs with as much force as he could muster, hearing the moment that the breath was knocked out of him. He released him so that he could stumble forward, gasping for breath and dropping to one knee.

"You'll lie to me for God knows how long but you won't fight me back? Is that it?" He curled his fingers tightly through locks of Johnny's hair, forcing his head back so he looked up at him. "How long?!"

"... two years," Johnny hissed through gritted teeth.

"Two years."

A heavy silence followed after the words that Jaehyun repeated. The weight of the experiences they'd gone through together in those two years was enough to choke the quiet atmosphere.

"... and how much about us did you give away in those two years?" Jaehyun's voice was quieter now.

"I didn't give away anything."

"Two years in the police force and you didn't give away anything? You're such a damn liar. Can't be a gang member and a cop at the same time without spilling something to somebody."

Johnny had gone silent. Jaehyun could not read him and figure out why. Perhaps from guilt or shame. Perhaps nothing at all. He did nothing but stare at him for a few moments, watching as the blood from his busted lip ran down his chin.

The mere thought of his best friend possibly feeding information about their gang back to the authorities had previously seemed absolutely insane.

Not now, though.

He broke the silence with a softly-spoken order.

"... just go."

Johnny finally looked up at him. His shoulders had begun to shake, and whether it was from the cold or something else was a mystery.

"Jaehyun--"

"Just go! Leave!" Jaehyun was shouting again, his voice echoing in the empty alleyway. He'd clenched his fists so tightly that his knuckles were white. He sucked in a breath through a set jaw, feeling tears threaten to sting his eyes.

"Don't... don't even think about coming back home. I don't want you around the others. I don't care where the hell you go. Just get away from me. Get away!"

"Would you just listen to me?!" Johnny's voice was unsteady, threatening to break. It only further set something off in Jaehyun.

The gang leader reached behind his back, pulling his pistol out from his waistband. His trembling hand didn't keep him from aiming it at Johnny, eyes red as they filled with tears.

"Get. The hell. Away."

He enunciated each word with a deadly edge to his voice. Johnny stared down the barrel of the gun for a long time. Jaehyun couldn't tell what was running through his head.

Slowly, Johnny took a few steps back. He no longer looked down the barrel, but at Jaehyun instead, who didn't once lower his weapon.

He only moved again once Johnny had turned his back on him and walked away, nothing more than a small outline in the distance just barely lit up by street lamps.

It was so cold.

The fire ignited under his skin had put itself out, and he was made aware of how cold he was. Of the stinging in his eyes.

He had never felt so cold.


Taeyong had a fantastic ability of always knowing that something was wrong. Jaehyun could tell that he knew something was off the moment he opened the doors to the bunker to let him in. At first, there was a sigh of relief and a softly-said "Jae," but then the furrowed brow and the tilted head followed.

"Get in... you're freezing," he murmured, laying a hand on Jaehyun's shoulder and pulling him inside. Jaehyun had hardly stepped in for more than a few moments when he heard Lucas coming in from the main room. Mark and Jungwoo were sure to follow.

It took everything in him to keep from crying at the sight of them.

Lucas entered with a bright smile, but he faltered the moment he realized that Jaehyun was by himself. Mark was just as confused, looking at Jaehyun with an anticipative expression.

They had expected Johnny to be with him, and he wasn't.

Mark was the first to come forward, his steps light against the floor as he approached his gang leader. "Did you... find him?" He queried, his voice soft.

Taeyong turned his head to look at him, though he didn't speak. The silence that followed spoke for him.

Mark stood so timidly in front of Jaehyun. As the moments passed, the more afraid he became. Jaehyun was watching the boy lose hope right there in front of him the longer the quiet dragged on.

Jungwoo was eyeing him in a way that made him feel as if he could see straight through him.

The truth would hurt them more than anything Jaehyun could ever come up with.

"... yes," he finally said, the low uttering of one word breaking the silence. "... he's dead. He was killed in the crossfire with Sicheng."

The moment he said it, he felt a break in the atmosphere. A shockwave that went through all their bodies. He regretted it immediately after it had already been said.

"... dead?" Taeyong whispered, and Jaehyun nodded stiffly.

There wasn't any crying. Screaming. Cursing. He thought there would be.

He didn't know if the silence was better or worse.

He expected pain, but not to this degree.

The silence was broken by a hitch in someone's breath. Mark's. Taeyong looked up, and Jaehyun's eyes followed him as he moved himself from his side. "Hey," he murmured, taking the boy in his arms and gathering him close to his chest. Jaehyun could hear him sobbing into Taeyong's shirt, his fingers clinging tightly to the soft fabric.

Jaehyun met eyes with Lucas, who still had not moved. Jungwoo's eyes had filled with tears and he was silently blinking them back, but Lucas looked as if he was unable to find it within himself to even move.

It felt like an invisible string holding all of them together had snapped, and Jaehyun had been the one to cut it.

He didn't think it would hurt this bad.

It wasn't meant to hurt this bad.