It's a suicide mission. It's a DIY trap and Jonghyun knows it, but he can't back down. He won't.
He had gritted his teeth while laying out a plan, brainstorming, huffing and puffing. He had let his jaw tense while being handed over the black leather briefcase, heavy with money — up front, always up front. He had smiled tightly while nodding at Kibum, several seats away from him. He had also ordered his pulse to slow down while setting foot on the ground of Los Angeles for the first time.
And now everything is coming at him at full force; how stupid this is, and how the gigantic amount of money they were paid for it all still doesn't cover the amount of danger the both of them are in.
Because the idiots keep spilling out of the abandoned warehouse like clowns jumping out of a tiny car, and while his target didn't pose much resistance before dropping onto the floor limply, the guards are stubbornly proving their loyalty to their profession.
So Jonghyun keeps shooting, half-hidden behind his rental car, identical to the rest of the vehicles parked in the middle of nowhere. His brain is counting every bullet, computing the amount of ammo wasted. His finger is tight around the trigger, caught in a steady rhythm of pull-and-release — it's almost like a song. His right ankle is unmoving, flush against Kibum's bent knee, as a firm reminder that the other is there with him. Not that Jonghyun would really miss his presence; it's evident, as his hearing focuses on the in-and-out of Kibum's breathing, not paying attention to the gunshots. It's there, along with the calm, yet strong, sound of his voice, armed at your three, unconscious at your eleven.
And Jonghyun spends a millisecond to feel thankful for everything. For his gun, and his ammo, and Kibum's eye for detail, his ability to spot and prioritise and guide Jonghyun, the handgun in his lean fingers lowered, but still a reassurance.
But then Kibum's lips emit a whispered no, and Jonghyun feels slightly lost. His ears strain to hear more and his eyes shift nervously to find what Kibum is seeing, when suddenly the other is on his feet. All sorts of alarms sound inside his head as his body reacts before he orders it to. The beginning of a word hangs from Kibum's mouth, and a swift bang and half a second later, all Jonghyun knows is that Kibum is laying on the ground. A stain of copper is starting to spread on his shirt and the fingers around his gun are limp. Sniper.
Jonghyun doesn't realise much about what happens after that, apart from the fact that he most probably screams as he delivers headshot after headshot.
It all directs him back into his car, with the first aid kit in his hands and his legs bracketing Kibum's thighs. The windows are all rolled up, as if to muffle the silence from outside; they're all dead.
Kibum is breathing.
His head is heavy against the window of the backseat, eyes shut and mouth closed tightly. Jonghyun can tell he's still conscious. He's just learned too many of Jonghyun's tactics; right now, he's trying to not freak him out any further by expressing the pain he's experiencing. Jonghyun is not comforted.
"It's just a small injury, it's gonna be fine," he hears himself say as his fingers tremble, and he thinks he sees Kibum nod faintly. "Yes, yes," he says, not sure if he wants to calm down Kibum or himself. Probably both.
Sharp scissors tear Kibum's shirt apart and are later tossed away as Jongyun pulls the fabric away from Kibum's skin. The material is damp and sticky where the bullet passed through, and the sound it makes when torn away from Kibum's flesh makes Jonghyun's jaw tighten.
"Ah, fuck," he curses. The wound is right there, real, red and angry, just over Kibum's chest. He knows the bullet didn't go all the way through; it became obvious when Jonghyun found no exit wound while dragging him into the car. For now, he can only hope it didn't actually do any damage. His head hurts.
"I have no fucking morphine," he says while cleaning up the wound, aid kit and its guts all spilled out over Kibum's bare stomach.
"Just do it," Kibum grits out, breath becoming ragged as Jonghyun tends to the chaos of the other's chest.
Jonghyun exhales violently. "Ah, f—"
"Do it!" Kibum almost yells, eyes now open and intense on Jonghyun's own. He's always been too determined, too stubborn, and it's these qualities themselves that make Jonghyun adore and hate him at the same time.
Wound cleaner but still bleeding out, Jonghyun tosses the bloody cloth onto the floor of the backseat.
The tweezers are in his right hand before he realises it. His free hand keeps applying pressure on the area around the wound. He's sweating and panting and the windows are gradually fogging up.
And then he's in. Kibum groans and struggles, curses barely finished under his breath, and Jonghyun is almost sure that he, himself hurts more than Kibum from this.
"Fuck, fuck," he mutters, a steady mantra of the word spilling out of his mouth as he tries to find the bullet while moving as little as possible.
Kibum's eyes tear up, the corners of his closed eyelids becoming wet.
"I know, I know," he says, throat closing up. His body is tense as ever, matching the one underneath his. "Please," he groans, and his legs tighten up even more, steadying Kibum. "I'll even extend our stay here, and I'll— I'll call Jinki out, have him check how professionally I treated you, huh?" he says, voice breaking up but still trying to comfort.
And then he finds it.
Metal clicks on metal in the confines of Kibum's neat wound, and Jonghyun takes a deep breath. "Right after this," he says, and only now manages to feel the fingers wrapped around his bicep, nails digging into flesh, drawing bright red crescent moons on his skin.
So he does it. He pulls the damn thing out quickly —like a band aid, as Kibum would have said— but not painlessly, judging by Kibum's yell.
It's out as fast as it was shot in, and then it's held in front of Kibum's eyes by the tweezers. "Too much fuss over nothing," Jonghyun says, feelings of hurt mixing with relief. A complicated smile breaks out on his face, falling only when Kibum sighs and the fingers around Jonghyun's arm become loose.
Kibum gives into the exhaustion, and Jonghyun thinks it's amazing, how Kibum hadn't already passed out due to the pain.
Jonghyun blinks before looking for the dressing and applying it onto the wound. And when his hands empty, the fingers of his right hand closes around Kibum's jaw, the blood on his skin and underneath his nails sticky and drying up. He lowers himself, forehead leaning against Kibum's. Their breaths synchronise and slow down for a couple of minutes, until Jonghyun's mouth opens. "If you had— If that had been fatal," he says, lips brushing against Kibum's trembling ones, a reassurance he's still there, "I wouldn't know what I would've done with myself," he admits, his mind going, people like you get people like me killed, and the phrase feels as fresh as it did the first time he directed it towards Kibum.
Moments pass, maybe minutes, maybe hours, Jonghyun still straddling Kibum's hips, his lips leaving faint kisses —which are really just brushes— on any patch of skin in vicinity, when Kibum's voice startles him.
"Hey, Jjong?" he calls, the nickname familiar and cozy.
Jonghyun hums against his cheekbone before distancing himself just as much as needed; strictly no more than that.
"Gonna leave one hell of a cool scar, huh?" his voice is stubbornly steady, and the light chuckle than follows makes something inside Jonghyun go fuzzy.
He cracks a smile. "The nerve, I swear," he replies, cooling down just a bit. "Get some rest," he says after a bit, and Kibum complies with a nod and a caress at Jonghyun's ear.
Jonghyun pushes sweaty bangs away from Kibum's forehead and slides out of the car in a matter of seconds, damp pants clinging to his skin.
He swears he doesn't sleep that night, listening to Kibum's breathing from his spot on the lowered driver's seat.
However, the early morning sun finds him painfully sleeping on the floor of the backseat, head awkwardly resting against Kibum's bent knees. The latter's hand on his right shoulder knowingly covers the copper stain taking over his dark shirt, right where the bullet had grazed him when he tried to shield Kibum.