#Upper Rank Three
sketchbymika · 3 months ago
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Gyutaro but he’s your senpai at school
IG: sketchbymika
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wisteriasweets · 4 months ago
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Demon Slayer: Entertainment District Arc S2 E11 - No Matter How Many Lives
-Click 4 better quality-
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nerdreamer · 6 months ago
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starsilluminateourgalaxy · 11 months ago
Ink Breathing
Ink Breathing is a Breathing Style derived from Flower Breathing, which itself comes from Water Breathing. Ink Breathing is a Breathing Style that mimics ink, specifically the relation to writing and smoothness, and replicates it with the user's movements, techniques, and abilities. Most forms involve the user moving in fluid and curve-like motions, similar to calligraphy. Those who use Ink Breathing visualize themselves creating and manipulating black liquid ink.
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Sun → Water → Ink
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First Form: Scroll of an Ancient Story - A 360 attack where the user spins in repeated circles, a spiral wave forming from an overview shot.
Second Form: Dripping Ink from the Brush - This can only be performed from a high point accelerating down. The swordsman attacks with ten fast and powerful stabs downwards to their opponent--missed strikes damaging the ground where the sword pierced.
Third Form: Dark Clouds of Immersion - A move that covers the swordsman's surroundings in a black cloud of powdered ink, granting them a chance to escape or stealthily move around their battle environment.
Fourth Form: Flawless Signature Dance - A complex and elaborate dance involving many smooth turns and light swings of the sword that can land devastating blows.
Fifth Form: Throwing Out the Inkwell - The user is able to create six powerful concentrated slashes in any direction they choose.
Sixth Form: Black Painting of Chaos - This form is the fastest and even difficult for the swordsman themselves to use without sustaining some sort of minor injuries. It’s a chaotic attack where the user unleashes an unknown number of slashes at a speed that is on par with that of an Upper Rank's.
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Ink Breathing is an original Breathing Style created by @starsilluminateourgalaxy and is free for anyone to use as long as proper credit is given.
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shironezuninja · 2 months ago
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I hope the Sonic movie 2 Box Office record can succeed without my attendance. The Demon Slayer movie last year sure did.
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gleecore-design · 3 months ago
Check out this awesome 'Akaza Upper Rank Three' design on @TeePublic!
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yujibbygirl · 11 months ago
Hide and seek
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Synopsis: The upper ranks play hide and seek with their little demon friend!
Warning! Super fluff!
The little child that was in Kokushibou’s lap had awoken from their little nap. Akaza made sure they had a blanket and also had no interruptions. The big three somehow was able to get their lord to allow them to indulge in this little demon. The demon king himself being found in tea parties with them and any lower rank 5 Rui.
It also was a good thing too, Muzan liked them. They were quiet and respectful! Anything they asked of him was reasonable. He would ask them to run little errands and things of that nature nothing too big if so he would send Douma.
He looked down at the child with the same six eyes they learned to count with. He and the others in the room who waited for the little demon to awaken waited to hear wha they wanted to do. No one had missions or anything. Douma cleared out his followers and telling them he would be back within a week to go and meet other cult owners about “expanding the church”. Daki closed her brothel and told the girls she would do the same.
“Yes little one?”
Muzan opened his arms meaning he wanted to hold them and seek their little request. He always wondered why so simple and never anything large. They had the upper ranks on their side. Anything wanted will be granted.
“Can we play hide and seek baba?”
Ah baba the nickname they gave Koku as eh was sorta a father to them.
He looked around and the other upper ranks nodded. Muzan allowed it and nodded.
Daki jumped for joy atop her brother as the little child began to count.
“2..wait what number..baba I only know six..”
“Six seconds is all we need little one, so restart and go to six.” Kokushibou reassured her. They nodded and began to count again. All the upper ranks disappeared before Muzan’s eyes. He actually wasn’t going to play but rather he told them where to hide. Making Kokushibou actually hide farther to test the child. To be fair.
“6, ready or not..um..”
“Here you go, you mean young one.” Muzan corrected her as he gently set them on the floor. He wanted to help them too. He held his hand out and guided them through the fortress asking them where which rank was.
“Who should we start with then young one?”
The little demon child thought..they should propably start with the lower upper ranks and make their way up to their baba Kokushibou.
“Um..Daki and Gyutaro! Yes Daki-nee and Gyutaro-Nii.”
Daki swooned at their words and tried not to reveal their hiding space. Her and Gyutaro were in one of the rooms.
Kaigaku( I replaced him with Gyokko and Nakime with Hantengeu) was in one of the gardens under the night sky. The moon had just risen and it was perfect.
Nakime was in one of the fortresses many upside down staircases. She was hiding behind one.
Akaza, Douma and Kokushibou were elsewhere. The real finds.
The little demon used the technique their oppa or Muzan. Yes their grandfather was Muzan. Seeing how they thought Kokushibou was his son. He gladly accepted being a grandfather to only them and no one else. Their oppa and baba told them the best ways to find their brothers and sisters.
“Um..Gyutaro-nii likes..candy! Oppa! Oppa! I know! I know! “ They ran with muzan following behind in a steady pace to where the set of siblings were hiding. With the doors open they say Gyutaro eating candy and Daki sitting next to him.
Once the two say they were found gave up and accepted defeat by their younger sibling. “Aw man you found us little one! C’mon lets go find Kaigaku and Nakime!” They helped find Kaigaku who was hiding outside as the little child asked the outside who the best demon was and got a cocky answer back.
Nakime was found by the little demon asking who was there. A little tune was heard by the Biwa demon who hugged them as they sang the lullaby their father sang to them.
Now was the challenge, Muzan told the upper three to hide more deeper into the fortress.
“Um...how to find Akaza-nii?”
Daki whispered in their ear something to say.
They cleared their throat and Muzan side eyed her and asked what she said to them.
“Just watch please Muzan-sama.”
Akaza popped his head out a floor board in a room and dashed towards his younger sibling. No ways in hell would he let them be touched by that thing we call upper rank two. Gyutaro and Kaigaku laughed as the child remained still.
Akaza feell from a few levels infront of them wondering where the pulp of a demon was. Kokushibou bit his lips to not reach out to protect them knowing it was a trap he remained hidden.
“Hi Akaza-nii! I found you!” They hugged him and patted his head as he sighed in defeat and commented on how to find douma.
“All you have to do is this.”
Akaza told them where to go and how to find their third eldest brother.
“Okay!” Muzan was lead with the other ranks by the child to find Douma and then their baba.
Douma was hiding outside near the garden Muzan had made for the blue spider lily. The little one walked outside with Kaigaku and Nakime and asked out loud.
“Um.. I want a free fortune telling?”
Douma looked around the little one wasn’t in sight. He thought he may have won.
That was until a little hand touched his hat. He knew he was found.
“I found you Douma-nii! Oppa was right!” Muzan “told the future” read minds other wise known and found Douma. Douma now was a part the group and everyone went back inside.
“Now you must find your father little one.” Douma said.
“Ok what do I do?”
Muzan chuckled and patted their head. “You must find him on your own.”
The child nodded and began searching. The upper ranks and their master stood on the main platform. The little dmeon child looked around but couldn’t find him.
“Baba?” checked his room. Nothing.
“Baba?” Checked one of the lounges they read stories in. Nothing.
“Baba..” checked their room. Nothing.
Kokushibou actually left mid game to get them a toy from the estate he lived in other than his room in the fortress. The abandoned one he found and raised them in.
“Baba..” The child came down the stairs and was upside down. They came to the main platform as they began to sniffle and cry. They couldn’t find them.
“H-hey! Umm.. Onii?” Daki tried to ask what to do but none of them knew what to do. They wailed and cried for their dear baba. Muzan growing annoyed asked Kokushibou where he was.
Douma tried making little ice figured of himself to  play with them but nope. They cried and wanted their baba.
Suddenly a large lumming figure towered over Douma who was trying to calm them. He moved away as Kokushibou gave them their toy and held them. He soon left to his room.
“Uh..game over?”
In his room Kokushibou calmed them with humming he used his breathing style to make little moons.
“See now I am here little one...don’t be scared.”
He hugged them and nuzzled his nose into their cheeks as he always does.
“Haha I found you Baba!”
“Yes....yes you have.” He handed them a little bunny toy they played with and began to fall a sleep. “Thats enough..games for today..sleep well little one..”
“Night nigh...”
“Good night my little moon.”
The upper ranks could be a great family right? Their little one says so.
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moonybadger · 3 months ago
I don’t know if it’s cause her backstory makes me so uncomfortable, but in that latest episode of Ranking of Kings I was like... guys maybe she really should just not come back to life lmao, Ouken kinda deserved to be saved more 😐
#ranking of kings spoilers#I MEAN I DON'T THINK SHE DESERVED TO BE CHEWED ON BY A DEMON FOR ALL ETERNITY BUT LIKE#maybe she and Bosse should both just stay dead!!! idk!!!#also I have no idea what to make of Daida deciding to marry her#like kid how old are you again? I thought you were like 14 tops#and she seemed to be a full grown woman when you were born#everything about Miranjo kinda sets my teeth on edge so I was hoping she'd bow out gracefully#and yeah Ouken is hardly a daisy fresh innocent but I always got the impression that all the murder he's done#was not something he would choose to do under normal circumstances! Like the dude is mega cursed!#And while there is dark shit in the three brother's backstory overall everyone is treated with much more compassion#then in Miranjo's backstory#like the ogres are big and scary looking but they love and are extra protective of their children#and the brother's soldiers exploit that in order to get the upper hand on the murder king#like it's dark and fucked up and we can discuss the morality of the actions a lot#but both sides are given much more moral complexity and no one comes away clean#it's so much better then Miranjo's backstory where she is horrendously fucked up by a country of evil people who are evil because reasons#the only moment I felt any sympathy for her OR Bosse was when she tried to commit suicide and Bosse barely managed to save her#IDK THIS SHOW HAS MADE WEIRD NARRATIVE CHOICES#bored badgering#ranking of kings#sorry for the massive amount of tags I'm always too chicken shit to put the meat of what I want to talk about in the post itself#and something about how disjointed the tags are make it easier to write
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enchantingllamathing · 3 months ago
Douma’s motivation
“ It was revealed that demons like Akaza could share his thoughts and sight with demons lower ranked than him and had complained to Muzan that Doma was using this ability to constantly bother him when the latter became Upper Rank Two. “ Because OF COURSE he did. I can see it as the ONE and ONLY real reason to take a challange, since I doubt with his emotional condition and with his lack of ambition and striving for success, he would care. But to annoy lower ranks ? Especially Akaza who is so easly provocated ? That’s a new “source of emotions” to at least observe. Interesting, no explaining what Muzan did with Akaza’s complaining. Just finished databook 2 of Kimetsu no Yaiba. I could read it on the wiki earlier, it’s like,very easy to find and quoted from there of course,  but it’s not the same as reading it in the real book. It even funnier somehow.
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noodles-07 · a year ago
I just beat a party of four sweats in bedwars I am literally shaking rn /pos
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cosplayclans · 29 days ago
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Anime Demon Slayer Kimetsu no Yaiba Akaza Upper Rank Three Pink Halloween Cosplay Wigs
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leoiguro · 3 months ago
Demon Slayer PowerPoint Night - Headcanons
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Includes: tanjiro, zenitsu, inosuke, nezuko, genya, kanao, shinobu, aoi, senjuro, tengen, mitsuri, kyojuro, obanai, giyuu, muichiro, sanemi, gyomei, yushiro, daki, gyutaro, akaza, doma, muzan
Warnings: !really tiny manga spoilers in genya’s part! swearing, deez nuts jokes (doma)
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“nezuko is perfect and nice”
he thinks his sister is the best and he wants everyone to know it
“reasons why nezuko should date me”
'number one: i'm better than tengen'
it's a mess
“fight me gonpachiro” or “gonpachiro kamaboko should fight me and here’s why”
aoi typed it out for him because he can't read or write
he doesn’t follow what’s on the slides cuz he can’t read and forgot what's on there
he's just yelling random stuff
no one knows what’s going on the whole time
tanjiro encourages him, which only makes him angrier
"aren't you tired of being nice? don't you just want to go apeshit?"
it's directed at tanjiro
she spends 25 minutes hyping him up and convincing him that it's okay to throw hands
“grossest shit I’ve eaten”
it’s just all the demons ranked from taste
talks about how gross kokushibo’s hair is
sanemi was watching with absolute disbelief like 'what the fuck, genya?'
he’s so tired of this shit please help them
Kanao + Shinobu
“doma is a punk bitch”
they worked together to make this
they just roast the shit out of him for 30 slides
“zenitsu needs to shut the fuck up”
it’s only the title slide
she tells him he’s a bitch and then she’s done
he makes a slideshow about like his favorite Pokémon or something
he’d be really nervous to present it, but kyojuro encourages him
says that pika reminds him of zenitsu
“i am a god and here’s proof”
the first slide is 'im really sexy and hot and i have three wives'
talks about how he's a 'material gworl'
“ranking everyone by who i’m most likely to beat in an arm wrestle”
she came to the conclusion that only gyomei could beat her
kyojuro tells her she’s a legend
"why i will now be saying "this is bussin'!" instead of 'umai!'"
yeah no one is really happy about it
“what my snake has to say about all of you”
goes over what his snake thinks of everyone
'he says that you’re a weak bitch, tengen'
'mitsuri, he loves you'
'tanjiro, can you die already?'
"i am not disliked by people"
so awkward
tries to list reasons why people do in fact like him
poor guy
he forgot to make a presentation
he just improvises something and no one knows what’s going on
a king
"who the fuck ate my ohagi?"
it's just a title slide with incredibly low effort
sanemi stands there and threatens everyone because someone ate his ohagi
it’s not a presentation, it’s an interrogation he wants to know who ate his ohagi
he doesn’t make one
he just stands there and prays for everyone the sits back down
“lady tamayo is better than you and here’s why”
“ugly people have no rights”
the title slide has a picture of zenitsu with an x over it
“my little sister is perfect and here’s why"
“ranking the upper moons by who i hate the most”
'alright coming in a number one we have doma'
lists so many reasons why he hates doma
“best deez nutes jokes”
it’s 20 slides long of ways to get people with deez nuts jokes
ex. 'you like pudding? Try puddin deez nuts in your-'
“i am not michael jackson, say that again and I’ll kill you”
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upperranktwo · 7 days ago
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☆Upper Rank Three - Akaza☆
Happy Birthday Robin ♡ @reinerist
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yutaholic · 8 months ago
heathens (M)
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pairing: Yuta (NCT) + you (reader)
genre: crime syndicate; one hell of a ride; smut
word count: 25.5k (have i actually gone insane)
summary: For three years, you’ve been leading a team intent on bringing down one of the most ruthless gangs in town. By day, you keep getting dangerously close to exposing the upper rank members and by night, you pursue a heated love affair with Yuta, who has taken a curious interest in your investigation.
warnings: lots of language; alcohol use; some violent scenarios and mentions of blood; explicit sexual content
a/n: listening to heathens by twenty one pilots; this is a one-shot, there will be no sequels; check the masterlist in my description for other one-shots in this collection; happy reading!
Part of you felt guilty for using taxpayer money at such a lavish hotel, but you had information to trade. She would only meet you there. Neutral territory, she called it. Anything else was too risky.
And you were inclined to agree.
“I’m gonna miss you,” you told Lana nearly two hours later. “You’ve been very helpful.”
“Oh, please,” she retorted, glancing around once more. “You’ll find a new whore to leech juicy details from in no time.”
Rising from your seat, you held out your hand. “It’s been a pleasure.”
“Likewise,” Lana replied, shaking your hand before turning on her heels and vanishing into the night.
You blew out a long sigh, some of the anxiety lifting from your chest. Then, you meandered toward the little bar just off the hotel lobby to buy a drink that would hopefully take the last of the edge off your nerves.
Dressed in a navy blue gown, you felt hopelessly conspicuous, but on the contrary, you blended in with the other patrons. This just wasn’t your scene. A typical day for you involved long, brutal hours at headquarters or on the streets, with a gun attached to your hip and a badge hanging around your neck.
You felt borderline naked without the firearm. Especially out in the open of unfamiliar territory with a slit in your dress that traveled halfway up your thigh.
Just relax, you scolded yourself, thanking the bartender when he slid the glass of whiskey toward you. It seemed foolish to sip hard liquor under the circumstances, but you had no intention of getting drunk. You just wanted to relax.
Over the course of twenty minutes, no less than three men stopped by to proposition you for sex. Though it made you bristle with annoyance, you couldn’t really fault them. This hotel was known for its beautiful escorts hunting for fresh meat among wealthy patrons.
You declined each of them politely and in no uncertain terms told them that a night with you was not for sale. And you downed a big gulp of whiskey after each rejection to settle your ire.
Ironically, you couldn’t even remember the last time you’d had sex. There was no energy to spare for it. I’m just so tired, you thought to yourself. Two years now you’d been at this case and you didn’t feel any closer to progress than when you first started. Sure, you had way more information and a firmer grasp of how things worked in the criminal underground, but you were still ages away from presenting a federal prosecutor with the evidence to make any arrests.
The fourth man to approach you silently took the seat adjacent to yours. Strategically, you’d sat at the corner of the bar, leaving plenty of room to escape if an unwanted visitor tried to cozy up to you. This man took the other side, not the seat directly beside you as the others had done.
Given that he was now in your periphery, you couldn’t help but check out the new solicitor in the corner of your eye. And what you saw surprised you.
For one, he was younger. The other men had been at least twice your age, if not more. And secondly, he was gorgeous. Light blond hair with an undercut and razor sharp features, you couldn’t remember the last time you’d seen a man so good-looking.
“Hi,” he greeted blithely, waving over the bartender. “I’ll have whatever she’s having.”
Your lips twitched, on the verge of a snicker, but you quickly drove it back. “I’ll save you some time, sir. I’m not a hooker,” you said, clearly exasperated.
“Oh, I know,” he replied, propping both arms on the bar. “Everything in your body language screams, ‘fuck off.’”
You snorted, then quipped dryly, “And yet here you are.”
He smiled, flashing rows of perfect teeth in genuine amusement.
You took the last gulp of your drink while the bartender placed one in front of the man beside you. It had been your intention to leave once the alcohol was gone, but something kept you in place. The whiskey must have made him look even more handsome, because never had you been so enthralled by a man before.
“What’s your name?” you asked curiously.
“Yuta,” he replied. “What’s yours?”
You gave him your name.
“Nice to meet you,” Yuta said, holding out his hand.
You shook it, heat filling your cheeks at the simple touch of his warm fingers gripping yours. “Likewise.”
The minutes ticked by at the speed of light as the two of you made pleasant conversation. Yuta spoke eloquently and piqued your interest, showing no signs of asshole tendencies. Which was a breath of fresh air.
In no time at all, your laughter rang out in the empty bar. Yuta grinned when you laughed, satisfied, eyes twinkling in the low lights. Though the alcohol softened you up, he was genuinely funny and his flirting was natural, not degrading.
Eventually, Yuta discarded his finished glass of whiskey and ordered wine, asking for a pair of glasses. You thanked him and clinked your drink against his when he tipped it toward you.
“I shouldn’t be drinking more,” you murmured, the bottle of wine now half gone. “I’m supposed to drive back to Seoul tonight.”
“I think that ship has sailed,” Yuta chuckled. “You’re in no condition to drive.”
“I know,” you groaned, running a hand through your hair.
Yuta gave a few folded bills to the bartender and said, “Get a room here for the night. I’ll have them put it on my tab.”
You blinked in surprise, but quickly shook your head. “No, no, I can’t do that. I’m sure this place is outrageously expensive.”
“Of course. Absolutely outrageous,” Yuta retorted, propping his head in his hand like he was bored. “But my buddy owns it and I have a running tab that I can pay back whenever I want.”
“Ah.” Shifting your gaze from him, you put the glass to your lips and let the last of the buttery wine slip down your throat.
Yuta smirked. “I’ve turned you off, haven’t I?”
“No, it’s just…,” you trailed, meeting his eyes again. “I couldn’t care less about money. So don’t bother flaunting any wealth in front of me.”
Yuta moved a little bit closer, lowering his voice like he was sharing secrets. “What do you care about?”
You shrugged and your answer was heavily influenced by liquor, “Hm, passion? Creativity, maybe? Someone who knows what they want out of life and makes every day count.”
Yuta grinned, approving. “For the record, I wasn’t flaunting. I’m not abundantly wealthy, unless a wealth of emotions and talents count, but I have a moral obligation to not let someone drive drunk.”
You nodded. “Fair enough.”
“My friends, on the other hand, think money buys happiness.”
You joked lightly, “You should invest in better friends.”
Yuta seemed to ponder that a moment before whispering under his breath, “All my friends are heathens.”
You blinked in surprise.
With the bottle of wine finished, the bartender placed a glass of water before you at Yuta’s urging. It was just past midnight and you were painfully aware of your situation of being in a different city in the middle of the night. There was no way for you to make the long drive home.
And you didn’t want to.
You were enjoying Yuta’s company more than you expected. His eyes were dreamy, locked to yours whenever you spoke like he was offering his undivided attention. He wasn’t arrogant or cocky, but he struck you as confident. It was attractive as hell.
So, you decided to test the waters to gauge his interest. “I think I should be getting to bed,” you told him, grabbing your phone and slipping it into your purse to give the appearance you were about to leave.
“You wanna know what I think?”
You met his coy stare. “Yes.”
Yuta leaned in and spoke for your ears alone, “I think you should come stay in my room for the night. You seem to be in need of a hard fuck.”
Your eyes flickered with shock. “Very bold,” you mumbled, feigning indifference. “What have I said or done to give you the impression I’m that easy?”
Yuta rose from his seat at the bar, leaning against it as he came to stand beside you. “Oh, I can tell you’re hard. I can tell you don’t do this often or ever, but the body doesn’t lie and your pupils have dilated every time I’ve moved closer to you.”
You sucked in a sharp breath. It was infuriating that he was completely at ease and you were on the verge of collapse.
Yuta came close, his lips brushing your ear as he whispered, “That’s a sign of arousal.”
You blinked, fire wafting over every last inch of you. It was like you were standing in the middle of Times Square with your pants around your ankles. You felt exposed, vulnerable.
And you wanted to kick yourself for how much you liked the feeling of him getting under your skin.
Yuta walked a short distance from you, toward the elevators, and turned around to ask, “What’ll it be, baby?”
You bit your lip, heart racing. Heat filled your cheeks and burned down your neck. This was the first time you had craved something that didn’t involve your goddamn job.
Getting to your feet, you grabbed your purse and followed him.
The moment you stepped inside his luxurious suite on the tenth floor, Yuta abandoned his calm, cool exterior and rounded on you, pressing you sharply into the wall with his body. Your mouths met with impatience, a collision of tongues and teeth, and your fingers carded into each other’s hair.
Yuta wedged a knee between your legs, courtesy of the previously mentioned extra long slit in your dress, and you let out a noise when your clothed folds landed on his thigh. You shoved your tongue down his throat while he stroked your sex, making you sigh.
A trail of clothes was left scattered in your wake as Yuta steered you toward the bedroom, only breaking from your lips to remove another piece of clothing. By the time you reached the bed, you were down to your underwear.
His kisses alone had you melting in his arms and you couldn’t stop sucking on his tongue in your mouth. After stripping off your bra, Yuta yanked you flush against him, his cock twitching at the feel of your breasts against his skin.
“Fuck,” you moaned between kisses, hands roaming his back. You wanted to explore his body with your touch, every hard ridge of muscle beneath your fingertips.
Yuta groaned when you raked your nails teasingly down his spine and latched his lips to your neck in retaliation, sucking loudly at the base of your throat.
You were breathless, like he had stolen all the air from your lungs. “Please tell me you have condoms in here.”
“Yes,” he growled, biting down on your sensitive flesh with his teeth.
Your eyes rolled. You were overheating, burning alive in the flames of lust and need. “Fuck me,” you rasped in his ear.
Yuta shoved you onto the bed roughly and walked over to the nightstand. You peeled off your sticky panties as he rifled through the top drawer, tossing them to the floor with the rest of your clothes. Yuta returned to you, tearing open a packet with his teeth, and grabbed your leg at the knee.
You took one look at his hard cock standing at attention and let your head fall back on the mattress. Fuck, you wanted to say. You should have known he was big.
Yuta rolled the condom down his length and when he was satisfied with the fit, gripped your hips and dragged you to the edge of the mattress. He let his cock rest on your glistening pussy, dragging his shaft back and forth to wet himself in your desire.
“Yuta,” you moaned, fisting your hands in the blanket on opposite sides of your hips.
Yuta pushed inside you nice and slow, fingers sinking into your hips to the point of bruising. Inch by agonizing inch, he took his time burying his cock in your vice-like cunt, whispering, “So fucking tight.”
Your lips parted and you winched your eyes shut, crying out at how deep he felt inside you. His voice was husky with lust, your body responding to him like it was second nature and stretching to accommodate his size.
The moment he bottomed out, Yuta smoothed his hands up and down your soft thighs, praising you for taking his dick so well. Then, he wasted no time in drawing back his hips and thrusting into you.
You cried out, toes curling at the ache between your legs being filled. You bit your lip and clenched the blanket tighter in your fists, trailing your eyes from Yuta’s clouded gaze to his chiseled chest and abs.
“Good girl,” he growled, caressing his hands up your stomach and over your bouncing breasts before getting a hold of your hips again and dragging you down to meet his thrusts. “Take it.”
Your only complaint with him standing over you at the edge of the bed as he fucked you was that you couldn’t kiss him. Yuta slipped into a steady pace, in and out of your wet pussy like silk, but with a hard resounding slap when your bodies met. You tipped your head back and moaned, breathing ragged with how perfect he moved and felt inside you.
Yuta held your knees and pumped his cock between your folds, as deep as he could go. The veins in his neck were bulging with restraint. He wanted to steadily drag you to the edge, but the sweet wet grip of your cunt was driving him mad.
“Yuta…,” you whimpered, peering up at him. “Harder.”
Yuta shook the hair out of his face, sweat beading at his brow, and stared down to watch himself disappearing inside you. Then, he met your eyes and said darkly, “I wanna see your pretty face before I flip you over and pound you out.”
Your eyes widened and you swallowed to wet your throat, dry from panting.
Yuta pinned you to the bed beneath him with his hands on your bouncing breasts, closing his eyes and releasing a moan that made you throb. You locked your legs behind his back, drawing him toward you with every thrust of his cock, and squirming as you felt the knot deep inside you growing tighter and tighter with the threat of release.
“I’m…,” you started, squirming in his hold. You clamped your thighs higher on his waist and reached for him, desperate to kiss his swollen red lips. “Please.”
Yuta obliged you, draping himself on top of you and slowing his movements only long enough to dance his tongue in your mouth. You tangled your fingers in his hair, kissing him recklessly between your soft moans, and Yuta sighed your name before saying, “You’re so beautiful.”
You blinked up at him. Your heart was fluttering with excitement and your body was burning with passion. There was too much chemistry between you and Yuta to be denied, and you had no intention of denying it. The only thought ringing through your mind was, I wanna do this again and again and again.
Yuta could feel you tightening on him and by the dreamy look in your eyes, you were slipping into a space of pleasure, heady and consuming. “Close?” he asked, smirking.
You nodded rapidly, arching your body to move in rhythm with his thrusts. The two of you were in perfect sync, hips colliding as you tried to finish each other.
Yuta lifted off your body and you missed the weight of him. He flipped you over onto your stomach none too gently and sheathed his cock inside you again, giving you a second to find purchase in the blankets before setting a brutal pace.
“Fuck. Fuck. Fuck,” you chanted like a mantra, his hips slapping into your ass as he drilled into you. Your eyes rolled back and your mouth gaped open, face tensing.
Yuta grunted in your ear, head tucked in the crook of your neck. He snaked his arms beneath your waist, crushing you in his hold. The bed creaked loudly and the room filled with the wet slap of skin against skin.
“I’m coming,” you stammered, before clenching with orgasm, mouth open in a silent scream. Your body shuddered and shook, writhing under the weight of Yuta on top of you.
The tightening of your walls drove Yuta to release into the condom, one of his hands gripping your throat while the other held down your hips. He moaned loudly, lips wetting your cheek.
You were pliant in his arms, head tilted back with his hand wound possessively around your neck. His dominance over your body had you shivering, as did the last of his quiet moans in your ear. He groaned like a man utterly spent and it made you clench around him in good measure.
Yuta rolled off of you, taking a moment to catch his breath before clambering off the bed to discard the condom. You let your forehead rest on the mattress, both hands slipping into your disheveled hair, and tried to think about anything except the persistent ache between your thighs.
The mattress dipped beside you as Yuta settled at your side, smoothing a hand up your back affectionately. “Too rough?” he teased.
You turned to look at him, flushing to see his face so close to yours, and murmured, “Just right.”
“You should know,” he whispered, lips parting into a broad grin. “I have plenty more condoms.”
“Good,” was all you said, crawling toward him and sealing your lips to his.
After all was said and done, you stumbled into the bathroom and almost burst into laughter at the sight of your reflection in the mirror. Your hair was a hilarious mess on your head and your makeup was reduced to nothing but a few smears. Your neck and chest faintly stung with bruises left by your lover’s lips and teeth.
When this sordid affair with Yuta began, you thought it wouldn’t last beyond the morning, but a night of the best sex of your life later, you told yourself, What’s one more night?
A year went by, and you and Yuta were still going strong. He had a key to your place and you had a key to his, but most nights were spent at your house, because you always brought work home with you. He wined and dined you, took you on some of the best dates you ever had, and asked you to be his girlfriend only two weeks after that first night at the hotel.
Yuta never pressured you to choose him over your career, as your previous lovers had. He was content with your efforts to make time for each other, but he knew your work took precedent. He supported your efforts and always lent an ear when you needed one.
Needless to say, he found your work to be rather interesting.
It was another Monday morning, nothing out of the ordinary, when you stepped off the elevator on the seventh floor of the district police - the organized crime division. This was your second home. Or maybe it was your first.
Before you could open your mouth to offer a “good morning” to your co-worker, Cal moved to walk beside you and said, “You’ve got new blood.”
You rolled your eyes and droned, “Oh, great. I get to give the monologue again.”
Cal bobbed his head with a chuckle. “Yep.”
The turn around rate for your unit left much to be desired. Low pay, long hours, and very little breakthroughs; it was an undeniably hard sell. You weren’t surprised - or bitter - over the fact that people tended to move on as quickly as they came.
Not you though. You were invested.
Which was why you had been appointed the supervisor of the unit. With three years on the case, you were the most senior detective and answered directly to the head of the organized crime division. He gave you a lot of leeway, having recognized your devotion to getting the job done. And more importantly your lack of ambition, which meant you were not a threat to his rank.
Mark Lee, on the other hand, was fresh out of the narcotics division and now part of the small team tracking one of the most ruthless gangs in the country. And he was only in his early twenties. He had vital years of experience to bring to the table, which was why his transfer had been successful where others had failed.
Coffee cup in hand, you strode into the conference room and greeted your new recruit. Mark was quick to stand and give you a short bow, shaking your outstretched hand as you both exchanged names. You insisted he call you anything but supervisor, even though you outranked him. It made you awkward to constantly be reminded of your superiority in such a tiny unit of five people.
Cal tapped on the laptop and images appeared on the wall, courtesy of the projector, and you wasted no time in beginning the speech you had already given eight times in the past six months. “This unit was made three years ago specifically to pursue a growing gang in South Korea. Their influence spans Seoul, Incheon and even Busan. They have connections in Japan, Thailand and China as well. We have reason to believe they may have ties to Canada and the US, but getting any information from our counterparts in those countries has been a pain in the ass.”
Mark was stoic, but you could see a glimmer of interest in his eyes.
You continued, “Thus far, they haven’t given themselves a name to go by, but people refer to them as the Cards, because each of its high-ranking members takes their alias from the names of tarot cards.” You were quick to add when Mark smirked, “No, I’m not kidding.”
There had always been subdued giggles or outright laughter at that bit of information. It seemed terribly pretentious - gang leaders naming themselves after cards, but you found no humor in the situation. These people were calculating and deadly.
“If you are not yet aware,” Cal took over momentarily as you sipped your coffee. “There are twenty-two major arcana in a deck of tarot cards - The Fool, The Lovers, Death, etc. We have a copy of each of these calling cards on file and are safe in assuming each is attached to a high-ranking member. In a gang of this stature and magnitude, their word is absolute law, but there is also - like in everything else - a hierarchy among them.”
You nodded and waited for the projector to show blurry images of a young man. He was tall and muscularly built, dressed in a tee that exposed his burly tattooed arms. “We have only been able to identify a few in the past couple years, starting with The Emperor,” you said, pointing at the picture as another photo appeared of the matching tarot card sealed in an evidence bag. “Johnny Suh, American born but Korean bred. We’ve had multiple sources confirm he is the leader among the high-ranks and therefore, the entire syndicate. He is respected, but mainly feared. He calls the shots and signs off on every single thing the gang does.”
Mark said nothing as the projector transitioned to the next pair of photos.
“The Empress is Lee Taeyong, Korean. He’s the second-in-command. He is not feared, but he is beloved for his loyalty and wisdom. He is one of the very few that Johnny relies on for guidance. He is also known for keeping the peace among the high ranks.”
You waited for the next set of photos and continued, “Wheel of Fortune is Zhong Chenle from China. He comes from old money, like more money than God. He bankrolls and funds everything, and the gang has a great rate of return on investment. He gets richer and so does the gang. His expertise and supposedly favorite hobby is arms dealing.”
Mark snorted.
The next images were of a young dark-haired man dressed in a sharp pinstripe suit, clearly photographed without his knowledge outside of a courthouse. “Justice - the gang’s personal attorney,” you droned on. “Qian Kun, Chinese. He knows everything there is to know about our justice system. He comes from a legal background, so he knows every loophole and exploit. Apparently, he was the top of his class at law school before going off grid.”
Cal wrinkled his nose with disdain at the next set of photos and sneered, “The World, Lee Jeno, another Korean. He’s in charge of acquisition. He buys and sells all of the gang’s properties. We also suspect he is responsible for any money laundering done through their legitimate businesses.”
“And lastly, the High Priestess is Ten,” you said, turning to face the new photos. The man pictured was handsome but with soft, graceful features. He smiled wryly as if he knew your every thought, especially the dirty ones. “We don’t yet know his legal name, as he has a lot of aliases, but he’s the link to Thailand in the gang.”
“What’s his function?” Mark asked as Cal slid a file toward him across the table.
You answered expertly, “He’s the strategist, responsible for knowing their opponents’ moves before they do and to allow for any and all contingencies. He stops wars before they begin. If Taeyong is Johnny’s left hand, then Ten is his right. He has potentially the highest level of influence on the gang’s leader.”
Cal clicked off the projector and you took the seat at the head of the table.
Mark lifted his head from the papers before him and questioned, “That’s it?”
Mark fought a smile, but it was plain on his face that he was amused. “You said twenty-two, right? That’s only six identified in three years. Less than half.”
You understood where he was coming from and replied flatly, “They are very discreet and elusive. Most of them have been in the underground since they were children.”
Cal bristled, taking Mark’s comment personally, and sniped, “You think you can do better?”
Mark completely ignored Cal and focused on you. He could tell who the alpha in the room was. “I have in-roads to the underground. I’m guessing that’s why I was transferred to this unit.”
You tilted your head. “What kind of in-roads?”
“I was in the narcotics division before this. Do the math.”
His tone was not lost on you and you were quick to retort, “You’ve lost all respect for us in the past ten minutes, haven’t you?”
“Absolutely,” Mark replied, leaning back in his chair without a care in the world. “Every drug unit I was in had way more detailed, comprehensive intel and information. It’s a prerequisite when people are putting their lives on the line. You’re literally the organized crime division investigating one of the largest gangs this side of the Pacific and you don’t even have half of them identified.”
Cal was red-faced and on the verge of an outburst. Every word out of this new kid’s mouth was an affront to his ego.
You stood, holding up a hand telling Cal to relax, and said, “Step inside my office, Mark Lee.”
Mark took the offered chair before your desk as you closed the door behind him. Your office was in a corner with one wall covered completely in floor-to-ceiling windows to offer a beautiful view of Seoul covered in rain clouds.
“Listen, I agree with you,” you began as you sat at your desk. “Figuring out all there is to know about this gang has been my life for the better part of three years and my hands get tied every time I get closer.”
Mark piqued with interest at that, but his voice stayed level, “You think someone on the inside is doing that?”
You shrugged. “How am I to know? They have influence in other countries, for god’s sake. Who’s to say they don’t buy off a few cops?”
Mark leaned forward, bracing both arms on his knees, and murmured in hushed tones, “Look, if you want to get into the underworld, I can get you in, but that doesn’t mean I can get you out.”
You shivered with excitement. And maybe adrenaline. You could only imagine how much information would be at your fingertips deep in the underground, but the stakes would be at their highest. Giving yourself time to think it over, you shifted the conversation. “What do you know about the Cards?”
Mark chuckled. “They hate that name. It was intentionally spread so cops like you and me would be easier to identify if we ever wandered into places we don’t belong. In the underground, they’re called the Arcana.”
That you knew. A former patron with an axe to grind had shared that information with you. “Do you know more of them?” you asked.
Mark replied, “I’ve had close run-ins with a few. They all leave those cards behind if you fuck around too much. I’ve run into Qian Kun and Lee Jeno before, both of which you already identified as Justice and The World. I can give you The Hermit and The Hanged Man.”
Your brows lifted. You didn’t yet have either of those two in your files. “In exchange?”
Mark smiled sheepishly. “Take me with you. I want to be a part of this bust.”
You snickered. It should have been obvious. “Big aspirations, Mark Lee?”
“Hell yeah,” he replied, slouching back in the chair. “I’m a ladder climber.”
“Okay, then. Consider yourself my new partner. I’ve always wanted one.”
The two of you stood and shook hands, sealing the agreement between yourselves.
Mark took his seat again and questioned curiously, “That guy out there - Cal? He’s not your partner?”
The mere thought made you wrinkle your nose. “Nope. He’s a forensic accountant. It’s his job to track money. He’s a bit squeamish in the field.”
Mark cocked a brow. “But not you though?”
“Not even a little.”
“I think you should start keeping your cards close to the chest,” Mark spoke up, rubbing his chin. “If you already suspect someone is tying your hands, then someone in this unit could be siphoning information. It would explain how they’ve been able to evade you so well in three years.”
You bobbed your head. Little did he know, you were already doing that. You learned very early in life never to let someone see all your cards. “You’re right, but let me ask you one thing.”
“How do I know I can trust you?”
Mark shrugged, noncommittal, but it didn’t strike you as malicious. He seemed hopelessly carefree, like he had seen too much in such a short lifetime to allow himself to be bothered by anything less than earth-shattering events. “You don’t, I guess. I’m just a boy holding a lot of cards that wants to climb the ladder with you. Doesn’t mean I won’t step on your head when the opportunity presents itself to get above you.”
You respected his forthright nature and couldn’t hide a smile of amusement. “Well, at least you’re blunt.”
“You’ve got a deal.”
Mark clapped his hands and rubbed them together excitedly. “Alright. Pull up your database and type in these names.”
Twenty minutes later, you had two more high-rank members to add to your list. Firstly, The Hermit, the gang’s chief hacker - Osaki Shotaro, Japanese. His current location was unknown, but it was safe to assume he was outside of the country.
And The Hanged Man, Kim Doyoung, Korean. He was the gang’s lobbyist, buying off corrupt politicians when he wasn’t blackmailing honest ones to ensure certain legislations lived or died in the government. Laws that would directly affect the syndicate’s business practices.
You ran a hand through your hair and released a long sigh. Government involvement and elected officials (both dirty and clean) were an entirely new ballgame. And way above your paygrade. “Sometimes, I wonder if I even want to know just how deep this shit goes,” you whispered, more so to yourself.
“It’s not too late to turn back, Ace,” Mark cooed, bestowing you with a nickname that you were too overloaded with new information to notice. “Switch to something a little less dangerous. Maybe routine traffic stops are more your scene.”
“Very funny,” you deadpanned, rising to your feet.
The moment you stepped out of the office and sent Mark on his way, Cal was chomping at the bit to confront you.
“I don’t like this new kid,” he complained. “Send him back to narcotics.”
You exhaled loudly. Cal was good at his job and that was his saving grace. He was temperamental and leaned dangerously close to entitled. You also had to turn him down a few times romantically, citing that it would be unethical for two people on a case to date each other, but the truth was you weren’t into him whatsoever.
He finally gave up pursuing you when you told him that you were seeing someone and that things were getting serious. Though you expected some resentment, Cal took it like a champ and wished you good luck with your budding relationship.
That had been six months ago. Since then, Cal stepped up his game in the unit; going above and beyond when it came to his work. He also tried to make himself useful to you as much as possible and you always wondered in the back of your mind if there was an ulterior motive to that.
“No, Cal,” you told him with assertion. “He has the potential to be a great asset to this team and you know we can’t afford to be sending new recruits back to their units without cause. Please help him settle in and let him know he can count on you to answer any questions he may have.”
Cal set his jaw, but he never contested your authority. You outranked him. “Alright,” he said, deflated, and walked away.
You made for the hallway and down the next corridor. Right on time for a weekly meeting with the head of the organized crime division. It was your responsibility to keep him updated on your investigation.
Most weeks, you didn’t have much new information to offer him.
One day you hoped to present enough evidence to earn a few more people added to your unit. For the time being, the gang you were chasing was too new and they didn’t make enough waves. The division wouldn’t waste manpower on so few leads. They had their hands full with the more violent, destructive gangs.
In a nutshell, the Arcana would have to commit more crimes and hurt more innocent people before the division would consider them worthy of more effort. That thought soured your mood and made you scowl as you drove down the dimly lit road, eager to get home.
The sight of your little house at the end of a long day was enough to make you smile in relief and your heart skipped a beat when you saw Yuta’s car already parked in the gravel driveway.
Locking the front door behind you, you hung up your coat on the rack and called, “Hey, handsome.”
“Hi, beautiful,” came a reply from the kitchen.
An aroma of savory flavors wafted into your nose the closer you came and when you finally laid eyes on your boyfriend wearing a red striped apron, you spoke with glee, “You’re cooking!”
Yuta continued to stir whatever was in the pan on the stove and replied, “When you texted me that you would be home late, I figured you’d be starving.”
“You know me too well.”
Yuta smiled when your arms wrapped around his waist from behind as you burrowed your face between his shoulders. Checking on the noodles, he asked, “How was work?”
Your voice was muffled against his shirt, “They transferred a new kid to my team. A fresh pair of eyes, I guess.”
Yuta chortled. “How long do you think he’ll last?”
You pulled away, slipping to the fridge and grabbing a bottle of wine. “I think he may tough it out longer than average. Maybe a couple months if we’re lucky. He’s got big dreams.”
“And your unit is where dreams go to die.”
You laughed. It was funny, because it was true.
Once the two of you had eaten dinner, you returned to the kitchen to wash dishes. Yuta grabbed a towel to dry them and when all was cleaned, you topped off your wine glasses with the bottle of red.
“Something he said stuck out to me,” you said quietly, leaning back against the counter. “There’s not many people I can trust.”
Yuta replied, “That’s true in life, I think.”
You studied him; he was such a constant unwavering presence. “Yeah, but especially with this. We’re talking about a gang. People disappear when they go looking too hard.”
Yuta sipped his wine and though he knew it wouldn’t sway you, suggested, “Maybe you should stop looking.”
“Yuta, I’ve been looking for three years. Three years of my life I’ll never get back. I can’t quit now. But he was right. I’m glad that I’ve been hiding my cards.”
Yuta crossed his ankles and rested his elbows back on the counter. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that I’ve identified more of the members, but I haven’t shared what I know with the rest of my team, because I don’t trust them. Someone keeps tying my hands every time I try to add a new piece to the puzzle,” you told him, instinctively lowering your voice as if someone could be listening in.
Yuta chewed that over before asking, “Do you think you can trust this new guy?”
It surprised you that your first thought was to say yes, but most of your life had been spent learning to read people. It was the most powerful trait in your arsenal. “He seems to be very straightforward with what he wants. He basically warned me that he wouldn’t hesitate to step on me to get ahead. He wants to work his way up the ranks.”
Yuta set down his glass and approached you, caging you in his arms on opposite sides of your waist. His lips were dangerously close to yours and his eyes were intense, but he didn’t move to kiss you yet. “Then, I would consider him the most trustworthy,” he said coolly, as if his hips weren’t currently flush against yours. “If he’s out for power, he won’t be bought by dirty money.”
You had come to a similar conclusion and you felt relieved that Yuta agreed. “Yeah, I thought so too. It’s just…,” you trailed, unsure.
Yuta leaned in and kissed your neck. “Talk to me,” he purred, leaving a trail of kisses from the shell of your ear to the base of your shoulder.
It made you shudder how much power he had over you. Yuta knew more about you than anyone you’d ever dated before. He was skilled at getting secrets out of you, rendering you into your most vulnerable state. But you knew whatever you told him was locked away, safe with him. It felt so good to finally have someone you could lean on. Someone you trusted with your heart.
“All of my instincts are on edge,” you whispered, lashes fluttering at the wet sound of his lips on your skin. “I feel like I’m being watched or everyone else in the room knows more than I do. I’ve always been about trusting my gut, it’s how I’ve survived, and right now my gut is screaming at me. I just don’t know what the hell it’s trying to say.”
Yuta pulled back and nipped at your lips. His voice slipped into a familiar low rumble, “It’s saying that you need to relax and let me take care of you.”
Your heart picked up speed and you smiled faintly when he latched his mouth to your throat again. Yuta knew exactly how to distract you, how to draw you out of your thoughts when they threatened to smother you. The release he could give you was never just physical.
Yuta swiped his tongue over your pulse point, smirking when you shifted your weight and let out a raspy sigh. He knew he had you melting in his arms, your hands gravitating to his shoulders while he kneaded your hips.
Breaking away for a moment, you looked into his eyes and wrapped your arms around his neck, asking, “Do you think I should quit? Should I move to a quieter, safer division?”
Yuta overlapped his hands behind your back. With a shake of his head, he answered, “No, I don’t. You never stop once you’ve put your mind to something and if anyone can crack this case wide open, it’s you.”
“You think?”
Yuta spaced his legs to even out your heights and let his brow rest against your forehead. “I know,” he asserted with a tone that left no room for argument from you or anyone else. Then, his demeanor shifted and he warned, “But I also know that when you open certain doors, they may never close again. And you don’t get to choose what monsters are waiting behind them.”
His words sent a chill dragging down your spine, but you weren’t afraid. Fear couldn’t reach you when you were with Yuta. He made you feel strong and protected, like you could do anything with him in your corner.
It was a heady and reckless feeling, and you loved every second of it.
“Noted,” you eventually said, peering up at him with desire burning its way through your body. “Now, take me to bed please.”
“With pleasure,” Yuta replied with a smirk, grabbing your ass with both hands and lifting you into the air. You locked your legs around his waist and kissed his neck as he carried you toward the bedroom.
The next morning, you raced into headquarters, clothes damp with rain. A storm was set to linger for the next few days, bathing the city in much needed downpours. The rolling claps of thunder were a welcome ambience as you prepared for another quiet day locked in the office.
That was until Mark asked if you were ready to enter the underworld.
“Today?” you questioned in surprise. A prickle of excitement coursed across your skin.
“Yeah, man,” Mark taunted, waving you forward. “Did you have other plans?”
You grabbed your coat from where you had just finished hanging it up in your office. “Just another day of contacting informants to hear they don’t have any new information to offer. Are you sure you have a safe route in?”
“I never said it was safe,” Mark countered, surprisingly stern. “It’s the criminal underground, the underbelly of this entire city. Safe doesn’t exist there.”
You sobered, reminded of what was at stake. “You’re right. I’ve been at this a while, but I’ve always met contacts on neutral ground. No one ever risked talking to me on Arcana turf.”
Mark scoffed, “And for good reason. You in or out, Ace?”
You resisted a smile at the nickname. It had already grown on you. “I’m all in. Let’s go.”
Mark led you to his car and you were pleasantly surprised to be sitting in a black Hyundai crossover. Given his personality and the way he carried himself, you pictured something sleeker. Or much, much faster. You supposed it made sense he chose something that didn’t draw attention, given his line of work.
The rainfall was steady, but no longer torrential. Drops battered the windshield and made everything look blurry. You enjoyed small talk with Mark, getting to know each other a little better as he drove down the main roads.
“Mark, I haven’t been completely honest with you,” you blurted after a while.
Of all things, he sounded amused. “Oh?”
“I…,” you hesitated, choosing your words carefully. “I know more of the members of the gang than I’ve let on.”
Mark glanced at you before returning his eyes to the road. “And you haven’t shared that with your team because?”
You answered honestly, “Because I don’t trust them.”
You angled toward him, eyes on his face to study his reaction. “Do I sound paranoid?”
Mark shook his head and changed lanes, slowing to turn onto the next street. “No, in this situation you sound right on the money. Who else have you identified?”
“Before I tell you, answer me this - are you climbing the ladder in the police force or the underground?”
Mark’s lips parted in a broad grin. “She’s smart.”
You snorted. He’d been very forthcoming thus far, you couldn’t imagine why you expected he would play coy now. “So, you ride the fence?”
“Nope,” he replied coolly. “Who says I can’t do both? I can have influence in both worlds, can’t I?”
You pressed, because you had to know for your own sake before this went any farther, “But at the end of the day, where does your loyalty lie?”
Stopping at a red light, Mark turned to you and said, “In myself. Whatever advances my own interests.”
You narrowed your eyes. “Hm.”
Mark chuckled. “I’ve spooked you, haven’t I?”
You realized he had you figured out. You considered him valuable given the information he had at his fingertips and for that reason, he could be very open with his intentions. There was no way you would report him and lose access to all he knew. “No, the opposite. I feel like I can trust you, because you’re not loyal to the gang or the force. Less chance you’ll betray me as long as I help you.”
The light turned green and Mark accelerated, careful not to go too fast given the slippery roads. “What about you? What is it that you want? Do you want to bring justice to the gang or do you want to use them as a ladder to big promotions?”
No one to date had asked you what your motivations were for pursuing the fastest growing gang in the country. At first, it was just the job you’d be given. You excelled at following leads and you specialized in interrogation techniques. Your skill was not only tracking people down, but getting them to talk.
An old colleague that never hid his disdain for you likened you to a black widow spider crafting a web of contacts and connections to get what she wanted. It was a comparison you should have been offended by, but you actually found it quite fitting.
“It’s gonna sound silly,” you began, a little embarrassed. But Mark had been honest with you, so you were inclined to return the favor.
“Try me,” Mark said, turning down an empty street of clustered shops and buildings.
“I want to unravel the mystery. I don’t care about justice, because I don’t think it exists in this world. Hell, there’s a chance I could put together the biggest file of charges the legal system has ever seen on this gang and the district attorney could throw it back in my face because there’s a tiny chance he won’t win.”
Mark grumbled, “So, you’ve had that happen too?”
“Yeah,” you chuffed, bitter. Too many times the powers that be had refused to prosecute someone you knew was guilty because you didn’t have an airtight case. Too many men had walked free of their sins. “Justice only happens in fairy tales and novels. The world we’re living in is about survival. No more, no less.”
Mark pulled into a half-empty parking lot. His next question was poignant, “Then, how does exposing this gang and bringing it down help you survive?”
You unfastened your seatbelt when he put the car in park and replied, “It doesn’t, but like I said, I just want to unravel the mystery.”
Mark locked eyes with you, his tone heavy and sharp. “And what if that unraveled string turns around and strangles you?”
“Curiosity killed the cat,” you deadpanned.
Mark chuckled.
As you and Mark walked toward a small barbecue place, he nudged your arm and whispered under his breath, “You gonna tell me which ones you’re hiding or not?”
You gleamed. “Hm, maybe I’ll keep them to myself for now. It’s in my best interest to stay useful to you, isn’t it?”
Mark opened the door for you, chirping, “I like you.”
The tiny restaurant was damp and dark, to say the least. Residue from cigarette smoke lingered in the air. You could vaguely smell cooked meat and the taste soured on your tongue. The place looked a heartbeat away from collapsing altogether.
“I meant to ask, are you dating anyone?”
That question caught you off guard. You turned to him, bemused, and said, “Yes. My boyfriend and I just celebrated our one year anniversary last month.”
“Congratulations. I apologize in advance for this.” Mark took your hand, laced his fingers through yours, and spoke for your ears alone, “Play along, Ace.”
You did as told, letting him lead you to the nearby counter where a young man was drying off cups.
“What up, man?” Mark greeted.
“Dude, you here to sell or score today?”
“Neither,” Mark said, looping an arm snugly around your waist. “Just showing my new slice around. She wants to make some money.”
The man across the counter sized you up with a lewd stare, then barked crassly, “You good in the sack?”
You were no stranger to conversations like this. Subterfuge was half of your job. Giving him a frown, you shot back, “Pussy is pussy, isn’t it? I bet you don’t ask men if they’re any good, since we both know they usually aren’t.”
“She’s mouthy,” he scoffed. “I’m guessing the head game is immaculate?”
“You guess right,” Mark answered before you could.
The guy shook his head with a laugh. “If you wanna pimp your girl out then you’ll have to talk to The Lovers, you know that. I doubt he’ll go for it though. Too much of a chance things will get messy if one of you catches feelings.”
The Lovers, you thought. Aptly named. He was in charge of prostitution. It was the gang’s quickest and most efficient way of earning cash. According to Lana, the sex workers were paid well and were protected with diligence. The syndicate didn’t hesitate to severely punish buyers that stepped out of line. Even for the most minor of infractions.
“The Arcana doesn’t do messy,” Mark quipped, to which his acquaintance nodded.
Even just speaking about them made the air feel heavier.
“What other options are there for making quick cash?” you spoke up, leaning into Mark. You didn’t want to look too suspicious with your questions so you played the part of money-hungry side chick.
The man shrugged. “Find a way to make yourself useful and you’ll be fairly compensated for it.”
You knew that too. The syndicate had very tight ranks with even fewer defectors because they had learned the rule most businesses couldn’t suffer - keep your employees happy.
It was like pulling teeth finding disgruntled workers in the underground. The vast majority of them feared swift punishment. Which usually came in the form of pain or banishment, depending on the crime. What they feared most of all? Being cut off and losing access to all that money.
Mark spoke in hushed tones, “Alright, man. Mind if we pop in for a drink?”
The man nodded and motioned toward the back. “You know the way. Have fun.”
Mark led you by the hand to the kitchen and to a reinforced door that looked like the entry of a walk-in freezer. But when Mark opened it, there was no ice or meat.
There was a stairwell.
The further you descended, the louder music became. After a few more steps, you were standing on a tiny balcony over a massive room full of dancing people, like an underground club. Mark led you with him down the last flight of stairs until you were among the crowd, looking around and wincing at the strong scent of alcohol.
“It’s ten in the morning,” you grimaced in disbelief.
Mark laughed. “This is the day crowd. They work all night and party during the light hours.”
You wrinkled your nose.
Mark leaned in, speaking near your ear to avoid shouting over the noise, “Wander a bit. See if anyone feels like talking. Act like a new girl in need of direction.”
You nodded and with that, Mark disappeared into the cluster of bodies.
You meandered toward the bar, fishing a few bills from your pocket and asking, “Any chance you’ve got coffee back there?”
“You got it,” said the bartender, looking amused. “You new around here?”
You nodded, handing him a few dollars. “My boyfriend brought me. It’s my first time.”
“Awe, a virgin,” came a high-pitched voice at your side.
You turned to see a girl had taken the barstool beside you. Thanking the bartender when he put a steaming cup of coffee before you, you faced the girl and asked, “Am I in the right place?”
She batted her lashes. “Depends on what you’re looking for.”
“The Lovers,” you replied.
The girl frowned, then immediately rose and walked away as if you had just caught fire before her very eyes. She wasn’t taking any damn chances.
“Well, alright then,” you huffed under your breath, sipping the coffee and wincing when it burned your tongue.
Almost an hour later, you had nothing to show for your first trip to the underground. No one was talking and any manner of questions was met with instant suspicion. No one dared breathe a word about anything. They were either terrified into submission or insanely loyal.
Or a combination thereof.
Mark emerged from the crowd and called over the music, “Get anything?”
You chuffed, “Not a damn thing. You?”
Mark tilted his head toward the stairwell, beckoning you to follow. Once outside in the clear, he said, “One.” Then, he held up his phone and showed you a photo.
It was of a young man, probably close to Mark’s age. His hair was dark, his gaze even darker, and he wore a suit coat with an unbuttoned shirt and a tie hanging loosely around his neck.
“The Magician,” Mark whispered almost inaudibly, his words swallowed by the steady rainfall. “His name is Na Jaemin.”
Back in the privacy of his car, you hurriedly typed away in the notes stored on your phone. “The Magician,” you read from the dossier you’d created. “He’s the grifter, the con artist. He’s a hustler.”
“And a damn good one from what I’ve been told,” Mark chimed in. “He could persuade you to sell him your soul and still manage to convince you that it was your idea.”
“Charming,” you droned. You’d gone against many silver tongues in your life. They were snakes with venom, but no teeth. They couldn’t bite you. They could only infect you if you consumed them.
Mark eased onto the main road and said, “Hey, I meant to tell you, you were a natural in there.”
You replied blithely, “I grew up on the streets.”
Mark blinked in surprise, but his tone was humorous. “And you became a detective?”
Mark drummed his fingers on the steering wheel, saying, “Instead of the alternative, which would imply you have some sort of moral compass. Which conflicts with what you told me earlier.”
You took his words in stride and chided softly, “We all have moral compasses, Mark. They just seem to be as unique as our fingerprints. Everyone’s is a little different, I guess. Maybe our grey areas are all different sizes.”
“Not by much,” he replied, smiling.
You answered his many questions that followed about your time on the streets. Since childhood, you’d be on your own, in and out of foster homes. You were labeled an incorrigible rebel and a constant runaway. Though you didn’t tell Mark everything, you told him enough. He left that day with a greater respect for you.
He decided you weren’t one to be crossed. People who were taught survival by real world hardships and adversity were not the type to play with.
That night, Yuta asked playfully, “Learn anything new today?”
“Not much,” you said, joining him on the sofa. “The underground is exactly what you would expect - booze, drugs, sex...”
Yuta pulled your legs over his lap and interjected, “Sounds like a fun Friday night.”
You pushed his arm gently and chuckled. Then, your face turned somber. “This kid got me talking about my past.”
Yuta tilted his head, intrigued, and his eyes bore into yours. “What did he want to know?”
You met his eyes, ignoring his question because you had to get something off your chest, and mumbled, “There’s things you don’t know about me.”
Yuta reached for your hand, lacing his fingers through yours. “You don’t owe me a damn thing,” he told you sternly, but with nothing less than affection. “Your past is yours to tell or to keep to yourself. I’m only concerned with your future. And if I have a place in it.”
“You do,” you told him with a tender smile. “You definitely do.”
Yuta tugged you a little closer, never taking his attention from your face, and said, “Let me ask you this - what do you see in me?”
You flushed at the way his fingers were now playing with yours between your bodies. His touch was maddening yet gentle; a combination you were sure only he was capable of. Losing yourself in his beautiful dark eyes, you said, “I see someone strong and brave, smart and kind. Someone who does no harm, but takes no shit.”
Yuta chuckled, pleased.
You continued, “Someone that makes me feel like we’re… limitless.”
Yuta smirked coyly, making his point, “And you know nothing of my past. You don’t know the things I’ve done. See how that doesn’t matter?”
You nodded, chest welling with emotion.
Yuta kissed the corner of your mouth and finished, “If there’s something you want to get off your chest, then by all means, do. But don’t think you have to confess all of your sins to me. There’s nothing you could say that would scare me away.”
Your voice was small and a little shaky, “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome.” Yuta kissed your brow and cradled you close, combing his fingers through your hair as you rested your head on his chest.
When you woke the next morning, you frowned. The sky was menacingly dark, filled with storm clouds. The rainfall and thunder felt ominous and foreboding. Something had you unnerved, sending a chill up your spine.
All of which faded when you turned to see Yuta still sound asleep in your bed. You crawled toward him and pressed a sweet kiss to his swollen lips before getting ready for another day at work.
You had barely taken two steps into the unit before Mark was on you. He grabbed you by the arm and pulled you with him into the hallway, screeching quietly, “Dude, what the hell did you do?”
You snatched your arm from his grasp and snapped, “What are you talking about?”
Mark was clearly panicking. “Some of your guys brought in The Magician. I thought we were keeping him on the down low?”
You gaped, startled. “I didn’t tell anyone,” you whispered, voice pitching with adrenaline. A high-rank had been brought into headquarters. It went without saying that was very, very bad. “Who brought him in?”
“Doesn’t matter now. He’s in interrogation.”
“Jesus,” you spat angrily. “Wait here.”
The interrogation room was bland and grey with stereotypical one-way windows. You could see in, but no one could see out. You stood there a moment, scanning the man seated at the little metal table inside. He matched the photo Mark had shown you the day before - Na Jaemin. He was still dressed in a suit coat, but his shirt was buttoned up and his tie was rigidly straight.
Stepping inside with a file in your hand, you greeted, “Hello. I’m the supervisory agent of this unit. There seems to be some mistake, sir. I’m sorry that you were brought in.”
“I turned myself in,” Jaemin told you calmly.
You blinked. “Oh?”
He nodded.
You slowly lowered into the seat across from him and asked, “Why would you do that? Have you committed a crime?”
Jaemin smiled and replied silkily, “None that you could ever prove beyond a reasonable doubt.”
You stifled a frown, propping your hands on the table and lacing your fingers together, and dropped the niceties. “What can I do for you?”
Jaemin leaned toward you, his face full of boyish charm and twisted delight. Like he wasn’t the least bit bothered by the fact he’d willingly surrendered himself to federal custody. “I’m here to give you a message - stop looking.”
You recoiled. “Excuse me?”
Jaemin’s reply was crisp and clear with a low undercurrent of warning, “Stop digging around in places you have no business looking.”
You cocked a brow, undeterred, and hissed, “Is that a threat?”
“No, it’s friendly advice,” he countered lightly. Then, he switched mercurially on a dime, whispering with venom, “You will not survive the world you’re trying to force your way into.”
That was enough. Rising to your feet, you grabbed the file and said, “Sir, I think we’re going to keep you here a few more hours to better ascertain why it is you…”
The door behind you swung open and an unfamiliar voice announced, “Actually, you won’t.”
You turned around and gawked, blood draining from your face. Qian Kun was now in the room with you. Justice. You were quite literally locked in an interrogation room with two of the high-rank members of the syndicate.
The only reason you didn’t paralyze with fear was courtesy of the fully loaded glock strapped to your hip.
Jaemin rose and moved toward Kun with confidence. Meanwhile, the lawyer stated plainly, “My client has committed no crime and therefore, you cannot detain him.”
You argued, “I can hold him for forty-eight hours without cause. He turned himself in.”
“For what reason?”
You glared and spoke between clenched jaws, “To give me a message.”
Kun then patronized, “And has that message been received?”
“It has,” Jaemin said, opening the door and marching out of the interrogation room without a care in the world.
“Well then, detective. We’re done here,” said the lawyer, flashing a victorious smile and sauntering out the door. Gone as quickly as he’d come.
You did nothing. Said nothing. There was no way in hell you would risk holding an Arcana in custody without cause. It was only a ploy to get a dialogue going; an attempt to figure out why Jaemin had been keen on giving you a message.
It was a simple message and yet dripping with danger - stop looking.
As you stepped out of the interrogation room, Mark raced up to you, concern written all over his face. “What the hell was that?”
“This is the first time I’ve come face-to-face with a high-rank in three years and it was two in one day,” you exclaimed in hushed tones, visibly shaken. “They don’t like what I’m doing, Mark.”
“That’s very clear. You’ve landed on their radar.”
You rubbed your brow where a headache was festering. It was too early in the morning for this much adrenaline. “I need to run home and regroup for a bit.”
Mark patted your shoulder, nodding in agreement. “Go. I’ll cover for you.”
You had taken a few steps away from him when you turned back around and called, “Hey, you said he was picked up, but he said he turned himself in.”
Mark held up his hands and replied, “Look, I came in this morning and there he was in interrogation. I would have never thought in a million years that he brought himself in so I assumed he was picked up by somebody.”
You sighed. There was no reason to distrust that rationale. You were just on edge, paranoid. The churning sensation was back in your gut and it made you feel sick. “I’m sorry. I just…”
Mark cut you off gently, “I know. It’s understandable. Go home for a while. Or for the rest of the day. As many hours as you put in here, you’re entitled to it.”
You offered a grateful smile. “Thanks, Mark.”
He waved you away. “Don’t mention it.”
Yuta answered your incoming call without so much as a hello, teasing, “She’s calling me during the working hours. What happened, baby girl?”
You snorted, but damn if he wasn’t right. “I got a little shaken up at work. It’s not a big deal.”
He asked worriedly, “Are you okay?”
“Yes, I’m fine,” you told him, sliding into your car and starting the engine. “I’m just gonna head home and call this day a bust.”
Yuta was flirtatious. “Want some company?”
“Don’t you have work?”
“I can make some calls.”
You sighed, smiling. He was always there for you when you needed him and you needed that more than anything else at the moment. “Thank you.”
“Anything for you,” he replied, then hung up.
Yuta arrived at your house nearly ten minutes after you did. At the mere sight of him, you crumpled and folded into his arms like you were made of jelly. Yuta stroked his hands up and down your back, tightening his hold around you.
“I panicked,” you said, your words muffled with your face against his chest.
Yuta snorted. “You’re human. It happens. I know that’s not what you want to hear…”
You pulled back with a sigh and Yuta quickly combed your hair out of your face. “I should be scared, right? Shouldn’t I be terrified about this?”
“Well, from what you’ve told me,” Yuta began gravely. “They are very dangerous people.”
You set your jaw and stood a little taller in defiance. “I’m gonna keep looking.”
Yuta rolled his eyes. “Babe…”
You side-stepped around him, heading for the kitchen to make coffee, and spoke as you went, “This means I’m on the right track if they felt the need to intimidate me. Yuta, if I don’t do this, someone else will.”
Yuta followed you into the kitchen and folded his arms, arguing, “Yeah, but I’m not concerned about someone else. I care about you and only you.”
You huffed stubbornly, but his words struck a chord with you. Having grabbed a coffee container from the cabinet, you set it down on the counter loudly in frustration. You were running on fumes. “Maybe I need a distraction,” you murmured, reluctant to admit it.
Yuta grinned. “Distractions happen to be my speciality.”
You bit your lip.
Half an hour later, and most of that time spent on foreplay, you were whimpering in tandem with the headboard of your bed smacking against the wall. Yuta propped himself over you, your ankle on his shoulder and sweat rolling down his neck as he slammed into you like he was determined to fuck all of the obstinance out of you.
When you caught your breath and your heart had settled down, you rolled over and grabbed Yuta’s face with both hands, smashing your lips on his. “Thank you,” you said between kisses.
“You’re welcome,” he replied, chuckling at the affection.
Then, you clambered out of bed and cleaned yourself up in the bathroom. When you stepped out, you pulled on some underwear and slipped into his white shirt before marching into the living room.
“Darling,” Yuta called after you, voice dripping with annoyance.
“Yes, dear?” you called back, feigning innocence as you plunked down at the coffee table and opened your files.
“You better not be doing what I think you’re doing.”
“Of course not,” you lied, clicking your pen and sifting through your notes.
Yuta appeared, still naked, and leaned against the doorframe with his arms folded across his chest. “Liar, liar. Pants on fire,” he sang playfully.
You glanced up and quickly looked away, because the sight of his messy bed hair, tattoos across his abs, and thick cock made your mouth water. “I have to connect the dots,” you hurriedly explained. “Something I did made them target me.”
Yuta marched right over to you, reaching down and hoisting you into his arms without a second thought. “Clearly, I didn’t get the job done during the first round,” he joked, carrying you back into the bedroom.
You draped your arms across his shoulders. “Oh, you did. I enjoyed that orgasm. It made me feel productive.”
Yuta retorted, “Well, then, I’ll just have to make sure you can’t walk,” as he dropped you onto the bed.
You bounced on the mattress and helped him take off your shirt, but you groaned, “Ugh, I wish I could turn my brain off.”
Yuta peeled off your panties and made himself comfortable between your thighs, nipping at your lips. “I’ll overload that pretty head of yours with me, me, me.”
And he did.
By the time late afternoon rolled around, you hadn’t gotten out of bed again. Yuta was just as intense about cuddling you as he was fucking your brains out and you had given up trying to escape into the living room for work.
The case will still be there tomorrow, unchanged, you told yourself bitterly.
Though every inch of your body was sore, your head felt clearer as it rested on Yuta’s shoulder. His eyes were on the television across the room, but yours were on him. He looked so good, bruises forming at the base of his neck and a rosy glow lingering on his honey skin from hours of fooling around under the sheets with you.
Yuta felt your gaze on him and glanced down at you, smirking. “What you looking at, baby girl?”
You bit your lip at being caught and whispered, “You. You’re sexy.”
Yuta kissed your forehead and tugged you even closer, reaching under the blankets to grip your thigh and bring it further to hook across his waist.
“Please try not to get hard again for a little while. I’m worn out,” you blurted, tracing senseless patterns over his chest with your fingertips.
“Okay,” he said with a chuckle. “Go to sleep. I’ll order some dinner when you wake up.”
You allowed your eyes to close, drifting off to dreamless sleep with Yuta’s heartbeat echoing in your ear.
The next day, you decided to spend your hours at the office, trying to retrace your steps and evaluate your new information. Something changed. Something over the course of this week had driven the Arcana to hand you a warning. And you were determined to find out why.
Mark had your permission to return to the field. There were more people he wanted to talk to and even more questions he wanted to ask. You told him to go ahead, but to check in with you often and to be extremely careful given the circumstances. He agreed to both of those conditions without contest.
Cal came to check on you and told you the entire division was abuzz with not one but two of the high-rank Cards strutting into headquarters just to trade words with you. You assured him you were fine and that you would not be deterred from the hunt. Cal smiled at that, praising your tenacity.
When the coast was clear, you pulled out your laptop. There were things you didn’t trust on the division’s internal servers. Meanwhile, all of your personal files were encrypted. You had the identities of your informants to protect as you had sworn to do when they agreed to feed you intel on the Arcana.
You kept coming back to the same question - how did Mark find Jaemin? You were separated from him when he made that identification. Did someone tip him off? It seemed ironic given how much animosity you received for asking basic questions that on the other hand, Mark was handed an Arcana on a silver platter.
That was the only thing that had changed. Mark gave you The Magician and the next day, Jaemin was in your interrogation room to give you a message to back off.
You chewed your bottom lip. Maybe trusting Mark wasn’t a smart idea, after all.
Closing your laptop, you turned back to the computer on your desk, entering Mark’s name in the internal database. You felt dirty for checking his file, but you wanted your suspicions satiated if you had any chance of continuing to work with him.
And he came up squeaky clean. Almost too clean.
High marks at the academy. Nothing but praise from his superiors in narcotics. You sighed loudly. Even before his career in the force, his record was empty. Nothing as a juvenile or an adult. Not even a goddamn speeding ticket.
Closing out of his file, you leaned back in your chair and frowned. I’m just getting paranoid, you told yourself. Ever since I started suspecting everyone, it’s only gotten worse.
Mark returned later in the afternoon and strutted right into your office without knocking. Collapsing into the chair in front of your desk, he asked, “Find anything interesting in my file?”
Your eyes flickered, but you managed to stay stone faced rather than reveal your shock. “I’m sure I don’t know what you mean,” you lied.
Mark scoffed. “Come on, Ace. A buddy of mine in narcotics called. Said my new boss accessed my file.”
You frowned, realizing you’d been caught.
“I could have saved you the trouble,” Mark added, looking at his fingers as if inspecting them for evidence of dirt. “I’m clean.”
“I know,” you exhaled, casting your eyes down in shame. “I just needed to be sure.”
Mark let a stiff silence pass before saying, “You may need to take a step back from this case. I’ve only known you for a couple days and I can tell it’s eating you alive.”
“I’m fine,” you replied curtly. After he shot you a look, you changed your tune. “I owe it to the people who risked a lot to give me what I know.”
“But you said you want to unravel the mystery and you’ve chosen a mystery that will probably never be solved. No matter how much you dig, you’ll never know everything. And as you also said, there may not be any justice in the end either. You’ve set yourself up to be disappointed.”
“You’re right, but I can’t stop,” you said, somber. “This is all I know how to do. It’s what I’m good at. I’m just a spider in her web.”
Mark braced his hands on the chair and stood, offering a sympathetic smile. “Have a good night, Ace. I’ll write a report of today’s intel gathering and have it on your desk by tomorrow morning.”
“Sounds good,” you replied, also wishing him goodnight. “And Mark? I’m sorry.”
Mark shook his head and his eyes were kind. “No harm done, boss. I would have done the same thing if I was in your shoes.”
You smiled with relief at that. The last thing you wanted was to lose an ally. They were rare enough.
On your way out, Cal stopped you by the elevators and asked, “Everything alright, boss?”
“Peachy,” you joked and thanked him for another hard day’s work.
“I overheard Mark saying you went in his file.”
You winced. “It was wrong. I shouldn’t have done it. If we can’t trust each other, then we have no business doing this job together in the first place.”
“You can’t trust anyone,” Cal whispered coldly. “Not even the man who shares your bed at night.”
Blinking in surprise, you furrowed your brow. What an odd thing to say, you thought. Still, you knew Cal was harmless and bid him farewell as you stepped into the elevator.
The rain was only misting when you left headquarters and began the walk to your car, but the clouds seemed angrier, churning with thunder and wind. There was a nip in the air, threatening another downpour and you said a silent prayer that hopefully you could get home before the rain began again.
Once in your car, you locked the door and replied to Yuta’s text letting him know you were on your way home.
You failed to see the movement in your backseat until it was too late.
A hand slapped over your mouth and the other fed something quickly around your neck. It felt like a belt. Your instincts took over and you fought like hell, reaching behind you to dig your nails into whoever had attacked you, but there was only thick leather where your fingers touched.
And your heart sank when you remembered your gun was locked up in the office.
The man fastened the belt around your seat, which was also coiled around your throat and tightened, removing his palm from your mouth as he knew he had you contained. Your hands flew to the belt around your neck, trying to get your fingers underneath to free your airway.
“Calm down,” a deep baritone voice said, colder than ice. “The more you fight, the more pressure on your neck.”
Given the hold was snug, but not constricting, he wasn’t trying to strangle you. You willed yourself to calm, gasping for air, and weighed your options. And you came up empty.
The man behind you moved, bringing something forward and holding it in front of your face. “Do you know who I am?” he asked darkly.
Your eyes came into focus and you could finally see the card. Judgement.
Impatient, he pressed, “Do you know me?”
“No, I don’t know you,” you spoke hurriedly. You knew your life depended on how you answered.
He snarled, “Don’t lie to me, little one. Have you marked me?”
You shook your head desperately as best you could with a belt secured around your neck. “No.”
“Who am I?”
Adrenaline was beginning to choke you worse than the pressure on your throat, because even though you spoke the truth, he didn’t believe you. “I don’t know,” you cried, frantic. “I swear to god. I don’t know you!”
There was a pause. The man let silence torture you for a moment and then probed, “Who else have you identified?”
It was your body’s natural survival instinct to answer quickly and honestly, “Kim Jungwoo.” The Lovers. Lana had been all too happy to give him up.
“Yes,” your attacker sneered, like he wasn’t surprised. “Who else?”
“Huang Renjun and Dong Sicheng.”
The Tower and Temperance. Both had immigrated from China at a young age for vastly different reasons. The former was their specialist in explosives and all manners of destruction. He had a juvenile record for arson. The latter was the syndicate’s negotiator; the one responsible for striking deals with allies and competitors alike.
The man behind you shifted and pulled out his phone, looking at something nonchalantly as if he didn’t currently have a belt around the neck of a detective. “What do you know about them - about us?”
You tried to scan your surroundings, but the angle of his grip kept your head tilted upward. It strained your eyes to try and glance out the windows. “Just ages and nationalities,” you lied. “I don’t know anything else.”
The man put away his phone and leaned in, his breath hot on your ear. You had never heard such a low, deadly tone than when he warned, “Every move you make, we are one step ahead of you. We have eyes everywhere. You are a thorn in the foot of a lion.”
You knew this man could kill you without blinking an eye. It would be inconsequential to him; just another day of the week. “Please,” you whimpered, prepared to beg for your life.
“The next time you and I meet, only one of us will survive.”
And with that, he left.
You burst into tears the moment he slammed the backdoor shut and reached for the belt with shaking fingers, yanking it free until it fell in your lap. Mashing your hand on the button to make sure your car was locked, you immediately put the gear in reverse and tore out of the parking lot.
Choking on sobs, you chanted, “Calm down. Calm down.” You needed to get your head straight, needed to focus on the road ahead, but all you could think about was getting home. Your entire body was shuddering with fear, like you had been frozen to the bone.
Yuta was by the window in the kitchen when you barreled inside, whipping around to see your tear-stained face and trembling breaths. “What the…,” he exclaimed.
You took only two steps forward in the time it took Yuta to clear the distance between you and showed him the card that had burned an invisible wound in your hand.
You swallowed the lump in your throat. It still felt like the belt was wrapped around your neck. “He ambushed me in my car.”
Yuta’s eyes widened and he frowned when you pulled your jacket back to show the red marks around your neck. He took your jaw gently in his hands, tilting you gently from side to side to survey the damage, and rasped, “Jesus fucking Christ. Are you okay?”
“No, I’m not. Not even a little. They know me. They know I’m hunting them!”
Yuta clenched his jaw. He was shaking with rage, you could see it in his face. Darkness seeped into his features, filling his eyes. “They’re threatened by you,” he spat angrily.
“No way.” You shook your head. “I’m just a nuisance. They’re going to swat me like a fly.”
Yuta took you in his arms firmly and scolded, “Then, it’s time to stop. You need to move on from this.”
You grabbed handfuls of his shirt and cried, “How can I? I know too much.”
“You know nothing.”
You stepped away, letting yourself fall in a heap on the couch. Pulling off your boots, you ran your hands through your hair and propped your elbows on your knees, hiding your face behind your palms.
Yuta slowly lowered next to you and rubbed your shoulder. He was seething, heart pumping hard and fast. Someone had put their hands on you and he would make them pay a heavy price for it.
“I know more than they think I do,” you finally confessed, eerily quiet. “I’ve compiled how their operations run, who their contacts are. Do you think I’ve just been sitting on my ass for three whole years?”
Yuta cupped your cheek and forced you to look him in the eyes. His reprimand was crystal clear, “You need to be very, very careful.”
You blinked and eventually nodded. Then, you curled up next to him, hiding in the crook of his neck with your body tucked against his. Here you were safe to cry and cry until you had no tears left.
It seemed the more they tried to scare you, the more you dug in your heels. This was personal now. If they wanted to up the stakes, you were ready to comply.
Yuta led you to the bedroom and helped you strip down to your underwear. You pulled on pajamas and crawled into bed at his urging, leaning into him when he molded his body to your back.
After you fell asleep, Yuta held his hand in front of your face and snapped his fingers loudly. When you didn’t stir in the slightest, he climbed out of bed and walked out to the living room, coming to stand over your files.
He had access to them at all times. At the moment, he wanted to throw them into a bonfire and watch them degrade into ashes. Something had to give. There had to be some way to get you to give up this chase.
Danger didn’t dissuade you. Threats only spurned you forward. You may not have been fearless, but you were foolish to a fault. And that was much worse when combined with your relentless nature.
Yuta should have known you were attracted to what should have driven you away. He was a perfect example of that.
Giving your files one more disdainful glance, Yuta grabbed his phone and headed outside to make a call.
For the first time in your career, you didn’t drive yourself to work the next day. Yuta dropped you off, even offering to walk you inside, but you politely declined. Things had been undeniably tense inside his car. Yuta wanted you to turn over the case to someone else, but you wanted to dive in even harder than before. And while he didn’t argue, you knew he would keep trying to convince you.
Before heading for your office, you stopped by forensics and presented them with two bags - the belt was in one and the Judgement card was in the other. Though you knew the likelihood of fingerprints or skin cells was slim, it was still the right protocol to follow.
Mark exclaimed, “You got a threat from Judgement?”
You sat down at your desk and took a huge gulp of hot coffee. “Yeah, he was in my backseat,” you replied, clenching your fist to stop yourself from reflexively touching your neck. “Now, my boyfriend is insisting on driving me everywhere indefinitely. And I have no reason to argue with him.”
Mark shook his head and scratched the back of his neck. His lips pursed, visibly upset and angry. “Shit. I’m sorry.”
You gave him a fleeting smile and said, “It’s not your fault.”
The two of you sat in silence for a moment, a heavy air descending on the room. Both of you knew how closely you’d danced at death’s door. Part of you had already accepted you were lucky to be alive.
“Do you wanna keep going?” Mark asked after a moment.
You answered without missing a beat, “Yes.”
Mark snorted, impressed by your bravery and having no clue it was pure spite. “Let’s roll then.”
You double-checked his backseat before lowering into the car, glancing over your shoulder as you fastened your seatbelt. You wondered how long it would be before you felt safe again. Even with the presence of a gun on your hip. Your jacket was tucked tightly around you, concealing the firearm from view.
Once he was on the road, Mark spoke his thoughts aloud, “If you ask anyone in the underground, they’ll tell you who the most feared members are.”
You had reached that consensus via your informants and said, “The Emperor - the leader. Judgement - the enforcer. Strength - the fighter. And, of course, Death - the killer.”
Mark seemed curious. “What is the difference between Judgement and Strength?”
You swallowed the lump in your throat, a little surprised he didn’t already know. “They are both responsible for security and protecting the Arcana. Strength is who they send to beat down enemies or scare potential rivals. But Judgement is who they send to enforce obedience in the underground and among the syndicate.”
Mark furrowed his brow. “So, does that mean they consider you part of the underground?”
You blinked in surprise. That hadn’t crossed your mind, but it suddenly made sense given what you knew. “I guess so,” you murmured, more to yourself. “They think of me as an internal problem.”
“I don’t know which is worse,” Mark said, gritting his teeth.
“Death, obviously,” you replied, grim. “No one’s ever seen him. He only comes out when someone needs to be removed from the equation entirely.”
“I hope you never get a visit from him.”
A chill coursed through your body like ice and you rubbed your arms subconsciously to combat the frost. “I wouldn’t. I would never see him coming if they sent him after me.”
Mark made a sound. “Well, the fact that they haven’t says something, doesn’t it?”
You looked at him, surprised again. Maybe it wasn’t luck that kept you alive in Judgement’s grasp. It had to be intentional. “You’re right,” you whispered. “Why haven’t they just killed me when they had the chance?”
Mark glanced at you worriedly before turning down a back road. “Do you have something they want?”
You shook your head, but you weren’t so sure. “I doubt it, but there’s definitely something keeping me alive. And I doubt it’s karma.”
Mark parked and you both got out. After locking the car and shoving his keys in his pocket, he asked, “Do you have a failsafe if anything happens to you?”
You stayed close to him. He felt secure. Not the same feeling you had with Yuta by several lightyears, but safe enough in that you weren’t alone and vulnerable. “No, I don’t.”
“What about the info you’ve gathered that you haven’t shared?”
You stopped in place, planting your feet. There was no reason that question should have made you as nervous as it did.
Mark grinded to a halt, turning back to you. “What is it?” he asked with concern, searching your face with his warm brown eyes.
Your lips quivered as you said, “Should I just come clean?”
Mark watched and waited. Gravity felt a little heavier. “No. Don’t make any decisions right now. Hold your cards.”
You nodded and followed him when he started walking toward the nearby building again.
As Mark opened the door, he whispered, “Speaking of which, I hope you’re good at poker.”
You found yourself in a bar, distant bass thumping behind the walls. There were only a handful of people inside, most with their eyes on the televisions as they nursed their beers.
Mark wound his way through tables, tipping his head at a man at the bar before leading you with him through the back door.
The stench was almost unbearable, forcing you to hold your breath. The corridor narrowed and you were behind Mark step for step, almost bumping into him like he was your shield. You were still on edge and suddenly craved a glass of liquor to calm your nerves.
Through two more doors and a short flight of stairs, you were in an entirely different venue. Crisp and clean with shiny oak tables and women dressed in silky gowns, you did a double take in confusion.
A roulette wheel was spinning and poker chips clattered together. You realized you were standing in a small casino, high rollers trying their luck as pretty girls kept a steady flow of alcohol going.
“Where are we playing?” you asked Mark with a laugh.
“In the back,” he told you in hushed tones.
You were surprised no one stopped him as Mark continued to the back of the room and knocked twice on a door before stepping in.
It was a high stakes poker game and not one of the four men seated at the table turned to see who had walked in. To your surprise, the dealer looked like a teenager and he was the only one to acknowledge your arrival.
“What’s up, Mark?” asked the dealer.
“Jisung,” Mark greeted, giving him a nod. “This is my friend,” he added, offering your name.
“Hi,” was all you said.
“Have a seat.”
You knew better than to decline and slid into the lone empty seat.
Jisung gathered the cards and ended the game, instructing the players to return to the main room. There were a few grumbles, but the men took their chips and left without a fuss.
Mark chose the chair against the wall and you, him and Jisung inadvertently made a triangle.
“What can I do for you?” Jisung asked, looking at you as he dealt fresh cards.
You shifted your gaze to Mark, who urged you with a nod, and said, “I’m looking for work.”
“No, you’re not,” Jisung retorted, checking his cards and motioning for you to do the same. “You want answers to invasive questions.”
Your survival instincts went off, but you played cool. As much as you wanted to look at Mark for back up, you didn’t risk it. “Do you have answers?” you asked him coolly.
Jisung smiled and he looked completely harmless. And maybe a little charming. “I’ll answer yours if you answer mine,” he sang, tilting his head.
You studied him, but ultimately agreed. After checking your cards, you noticed you were sitting on two pair. If you were lucky, maybe you could draw a full house. “One,” you said, sliding the odd card to Jisung. He gave you another and you fought a frown.
“I’ll start,” Jisung began. “Are you interested in the Arcana?”
“Yes. Do you know where I can find them?”
Jisung continued with the poker game, drawing two. “Yes. What do you want with them if you find them?”
You hesitated. “I want to expose them for what they are.”
Jisung interjected, “What do you think they are?”
“It’s my turn to ask a question,” you reminded curtly.
Jisung kept going. “Are they maybe just trying to survive in this world, same as you?”
You cut your eyes at him. “Are you trying to get me to sympathize with them?”
Jisung shrugged. “Do what you want.” Then, he flipped over his cards and said, “Straight flush.”
You and Mark lost, but you didn’t care. The alarm bells were ringing in your head.
Life is nothing but survival. You had told Mark that. And now those same words were on Jisung’s tongue. It couldn’t be a coincidence.
Smiling again, Jisung leaned forward, pulling out a card from the inside of his blazer and handing it to you between his fingers.
You took the card and the blood drained from your face. The Fool. He was an Arcana. Turning to Mark, your partner gave you a simper and the sight completely unnerved you.
“I’m sorry, Ace,” he crooned.
In a flash he was on you, getting a hold of your gun tucked to your hip. The door opened and someone else stormed in, charging up behind you as you struggled with Mark, and put a cloth over your mouth. You could smell the chemicals and you instinctively held your breath, kicking and thrashing as you tried to fight off your attackers.
Mark disarmed your gun and came toward you, asserting dominance with a lethal stare. “Just relax and breathe,” he coaxed, like nothing was amiss. “Go to sleep.”
You kept struggling, but there was no use. It was obvious more than one person had a solid hold on you. They were too strong. Tears began to slip from your eyes. This was it. Your life was over. You woke the monster and now it would devour you to satisfy the hunger you had created.
Yuta, you thought. He was the only one that would miss you. Maybe he would look for you. Maybe he would seek revenge. But none of that mattered. It wouldn’t bring you back. Your face tensed with more tears.
Mark seemed to take pity on you, shushing you sweetly. He patted your head and looked past you at whoever was holding the cloth over your mouth, saying, “Stop delaying the inevitable.”
You couldn’t hold it anymore and so you gave in. Inhale after exhale, the world around you went dark. You fought against it, but Mark spoke to you like he was lulling a child to sleep, “There you go. Goodnight.”
And the darkness swallowed you whole.
When you woke, you could only think about how stiff you felt. That was when you realized you were seated upright in an uncomfortable wooden chair with your wrists cuffed behind your back. Your eyes opened slowly, a bright light burning your vision.
Someone sat down in front of you and when his face came into focus, you frowned. “I should have known.”
Mark clicked his tongue and flashed a wry grin. “Hi, Ace. I’m The Chariot.”
Betrayal washed over you like a cold bucket of water. You shivered, chilled to every corner of your body, and avoided his eyes.
“She has to go now,” came an unknown voice in the small room. “You’ve caused too much trouble with her.”
Curiosity made you look in the direction of the speaker, recognizing Huang Renjun. The Tower. He looked particularly annoyed, flicking open a lighter loudly before snapping it closed again. Over and over.
Mark opened his mouth to respond, but you spoke up, “What the hell did I find that has you all so nervous?”
Renjun scowled, looking downright furious that you had the gall to ask that. “Um, hello? You’ve been digging around into our backgrounds and our phone records and even our families!”
Your face tensed with confusion. You didn’t have phone records or family histories. What was he talking about?
Mark explained, “I tracked your access, Ace. You’re a brilliant liar. You’ve got eighteen of us identified and compiled a database on all of our known relatives. I almost applauded at how well you pretended not to know Jisung.”
Lips parted, eyes widening, you screeched, “My access? Mark, I don’t have that kind of info. I had never seen Jisung before in my life!”
Mark studied you confusedly. Why would you lie about that?
A voice from behind you, deep and gravelly, called, “Mark?”
He was still looking at you. Something didn’t sit right with him.
The third man behind you stepped forward and your attention shifted between the trio. Lee Jeno, Mark Lee and Huang Renjun - The World, The Chariot and The Tower.
“I haven’t approached anyone’s family,” you said, hoping it would help your case. They had clearly been led to believe you were a much bigger threat than you were. Was that intentional or was there something more nefarious at work?
Renjun snapped, “We know, but Jesus, you’re a real pain in the ass. Thanks to you, we’re all flagged in the system.”
“Not me,” came yet another voice, this one high-pitched and nasally.
You watched a fourth man saunter in to stand with the others, sucking on a lollipop in his mouth.
“Hi, detective,” he greeted sheepishly. “I’m Haechan. You probably know me as The Sun.”
The Sun, you thought. The gang’s messenger and their fly on the wall. It was his job to gather information and share it among the high-ranks. He supposedly knew all the comings and goings of everyone in the underworld. In a nutshell, he was a spy.
“What do you want?” Mark snapped, perturbed at Haechan’s arrival.
Haechan pulled the lollipop from his mouth with a loud, intentional pop. “I came to warn you - boss knows you brought her here.”
Mark hissed, “I’m guessing you told him?”
“Hey, it’s my job to see all,” Haechan said with a shrug, making a face at Mark of pure mischief.
Mark interjected, “And go running to Daddy to tattle.”
You bounced your leg anxiously, viscerally aware of your hands cuffed behind your back. Being at their mercy was wearing you thin with how they bickered amongst themselves. “So, you weren’t supposed to kidnap me?”
“Boss doesn’t like you at all,” Jeno said offhandedly.
“Johnny?” you questioned.
Renjun bristled. “You call him by his name like you’re friends or something. Do you have a death wish?”
You shrugged your shoulders, feigning indifference. It was in your best interest not to show fear. ”I thought that was his name.”
“It is, but…,” Renjun trailed, a surge of annoyance rippling through him. He turned to Mark. “For fuck’s sake, can we just get rid of her already?”
Mark shook his head and replied calmly, “We can’t kill her.”
Renjun snapped, “And why the hell not?”
Haechan replied with an amused smile, “She belongs to a high-rank.”
You and Renjun gawked in perfect sync, but he was quick to bark, “What?”
It took you a moment to ask, “What did you say?”
“Whose bitch is this?” Renjun roared.
All five of you looked toward the only door in the room. None of you had heard it open again, nor did you see someone lingering in the shadows.
Yuta stepped out.
“Oh, hyung,” Renjun started, changing his tone on a dime. “She’s yours?”
“You’ve gotta be kidding me,” Jeno huffed under his breath.
To your horror, neither Mark nor Haechan were surprised by this information. Which meant they already knew.
“Uncuff her now or I will hang each of you by your fucking toes,” Yuta hissed through clenched jaws.
Mark freed you from the restraints, but you were in a state of disbelief, dumbfounded down to your very core.
“Yuta?” You were shaking with adrenaline again, still seated in the chair lest you fall over. “You’re…”
“Yes,” was all he said, making the room spin uncontrollably around you.
Everything went black.
You woke in an unfamiliar bed, a soft blanket draped over you. Still in your clothes, all that was missing were your shoes. Remembering where you had been before you blacked out, you sat abruptly and glanced around.
Yuta perched in the dark beside the open window, his legs outstretched and his arms resting limply on the rim of the chair. “You fainted,” he told you, impassive.
“Please, tell me it was all a dream,” you whimpered, searching for his eyes in the shadows. But they were as black as the night sky beyond the window.
“It was all a bad dream,” Yuta sang and you could picture his twisted little grin.
You knew that wasn’t true. It was all a lie. You and him. Mark and the investigation. You were now at the mercy of a sleeping dragon that you’d been poking for the better part of three years.
Clearly, it was awake now.
Yuta braced his hands on his thighs and rose slowly, approaching you like you were a frightened animal. He sat on the mattress beside you and handed you a card.
You took it with trembling fingers, peering down to see a grim reaper staring back at you. Death. “This whole time…,” you started, your heart twisting violently in your chest. You’d been sleeping with the enemy.
You lifted your head, meeting his eyes in defiance. Though you knew you should have feared for your life, you didn’t. Yuta was of no threat to you; you knew that in your very bones. Your heart was putting all it had into clinging to denial. Setting your jaw, you asked, “Did you target me?”
Yuta had been prepared to answer your questions and so he began, “At first, yes. We’ve kept that unit of yours a revolving door of people in and out. Never letting anyone get too comfortable and privy to too much information.”
You swallowed the bitter taste on your tongue.
Yuta let out a tiny laugh and spoke fondly, “But then you came along. First one whole year. We were impressed. Then two. Most people didn’t last two months. You were stubborn and determined, and that was a problem for us.”
You frowned and cast your eyes down.
Yuta slipped his fingers under your chin, raising your head, and you were quick to brush his hand aside. “We tried to distract you, tried to lead you off the path, but you were persistent. It was suggested that someone needed to get inside your head, figure out what it was that made you tick - what you wanted.”
Tears threatened and you cried softly, “Why you?”
Yuta reached out again, tucking your hair behind your ear. His touch was as gentle as his words were razor sharp. “I’m the only one who hasn’t been seen. Until we knew who you had identified, I was the safest option. And when I knew who you had under your belt, I gave the clear to send Mark in so he could manipulate the investigation.”
“Sick,” you sneered.
Yuta tilted his head, still smiling, and countered, “I’m just like you, sweetheart. I wanted to unravel the mystery that was you. And I have it all figured out.”
Narrowing your eyes, you said more so to yourself, “And I know nothing about you.”
“You know everything there is to know about me. I’ve been honest with you,” Yuta asserted, reaching for your hand and holding it tenderly. “You wore me down. I was only supposed to hook up with you a few times and determine just how big of a threat you were, but I stayed. I caught feelings for you.”
“That’s a lie,” you snapped, resistant. How could he lie to your face and say those things so recklessly? Words that were supposed to mean something were simply a manipulation to him.
“You know it’s not,” he shot back.
You yanked your hand away and leapt to your feet, yelling, “How can you say that? You started sleeping with me to decide if I was a threat to your criminal enterprise? You think I believe for a goddamn second that someone like that could have feelings for me?”
Yuta rose slowly, knowing you needed to vent your frustrations, and pressed, “Nothing has changed between us, baby.”
You gaped at him incredulously and shouted, “Everything has changed!”
Yuta reached for you, looping an arm around your waist. “Tell me you don’t want me.”
You refused to look at his face, pushing at his chest and shuffling toward the door. “I have to get out of here.”
Yuta grabbed you securely this time, spinning you back into his arms. He cradled your face in his soft hands and called your name. “Look me in the eye,” he said, then raised his voice. “Look me in the fucking eyes and tell me you don’t want to be with me.”
You fisted your hands in his shirt and cried, “I want you! You know I do, you fucking asshole!”
Yuta smirked. “There you go.”
“I can’t have feelings for Death,” you sighed in defeat, resigning yourself to a life of never-ending conflict. Your mind and your heart were at war with each other, threatening to shred your body apart in the process.
Yuta was stone-faced. “You have feelings for Yuta. You’re one of the few people who knows Yuta. Death is just a mask I wear for the rest of the world to see. It’s my job. It’s not who I am.”
You slumped into him, hiding your face against his chest in shame. Yuta overlapped his arms snugly around you and rested his cheek on your head. He could feel the storm churning inside you as if its winds threatened to knock him off his feet.
After a minute spent mentally chiding yourself for being so fucking stupid, you pulled back to look at your lover. You couldn’t deny that you felt perfect in his arms, like this was where you were supposed to be. Everything else be damned.
Yuta swayed slightly with you held against him and didn’t hesitate to close the small gap between you and him, sealing his lips tenderly to yours. You kissed him longer than you should have, but you needed him to anchor you. Passion poured out of him and into you with every sweet kiss, putting your heart at ease that it was still safe and sound in his claws.
When you had your fill, you parted from his lips and asked curiously, “What happens now?”
“You’re untouchable,” he said with finality. “The lover of an Arcana is off-limits. They can’t lay a finger on you.”
“So…,” you mumbled under your breath. “I’m free to keep digging.”
Yuta chuckled with amusement. You were relentless and he loved it. “Why keep digging when I can give you the grand tour right now?”
Your eyes widened. “What?”
Yuta nodded. “I’ll tell you everything you want to know. You’ll be the first and only outsider to know each of the Arcana. What you choose to do with that information is up to you, but the mystery - as you say - will be unraveled.”
You agreed and after putting on your shoes, you let him guide you by the hand out of the room and down a hallway. It looked like a hotel; all the doors were numbered. 
On the first floor, behind a quiet little lobby, you realized the building was closed, abandoned. Bars were screwed into the main doors and the windows were boarded up like someone was preparing for hurricane winds.
“Check this out,” Yuta suddenly said, opening a door under the staircase.
You peered inside, pursing your lips. “It’s a closet.”
“It’s an elevator.”
You gaped.
Yuta steered you inside the cramped space with him, a hand pushing gently on your lower back, and pressed a tiny panel. The little closet roared to life and began to descend.
The ride was short and you jostled where you stood when the closet seemed to click into place. Yuta stepped out with you in tow and after one more trip down a hallway, you found yourself in an overly large room littered with sofas and tables and all the amenities you would expect for a secret underground man cave.
Cigarette smoke lingered in the air and you could faintly taste the scent of booze on your tongue. A number of conversations blended into one incohesive roar that quickly quieted down when you and Yuta approached.
“Please don’t make any sudden moves,” Yuta quipped, squeezing your hand.
Someone broke away from where the others were gathered, marching up to you and your boyfriend with purpose in his step.
“Jaehyun,” Yuta greeted tersely.
The moment you heard his voice, your blood ran cold. Judgement.
“I made her a promise,” Jaehyun said coldly. “The next time we met, only one of us would survive. You know my reputation rests on always keeping my promises.”
“Then, you’ll have to go through me first,” Yuta threatened, moving forward into Jaehyun’s space. “Whenever you’re ready.”
You watched with bated breath. Though Jaehyun may have had a slight height advantage, Yuta was far more menacing. Neither of the boys blinked as they were mere inches from each other. The entire room was still, eager to see if an entertaining fight would break out.
Jaehyun frowned and after a short pause, took a single step back in surrender.
“And because of our friendship,” Yuta added. “I won’t kill you with my bare hands for bruising her with that stunt you pulled in her car.”
Jaehyun leveled his gaze at Yuta, knowing how sincere a threat that was coming from him, and said, “I won’t apologize for following orders. Take that up with the boss.” Then, he turned to you and continued, “But I’m sorry for getting a bit rough. I didn’t expect you to put up such a fight.”
You merely glared.
Yuta lilted toward you and asked darkly, “Do you want me to fuck him up?”
Jaehyun arched his brow, every muscle in his body tensing with the anticipation of a fight after all.
You considered it for a moment, but ultimately declined your boyfriend’s offer. “No. I want him to owe me a favor.”
Jaehyun smirked ever so slightly. With a short nod of his head, he slithered away and vanished into the shadowed corners of the room.
Yuta continued toward the others and you recognized a few faces. The ones you didn’t, Yuta was quick to introduce, “Hendery, The Devil.”
“S’up,” said the dark-haired boy.
You waved awkwardly. The Devil - the gang’s dealer, the one in charge of their entire drug operation. Which from what you’d been told was very lucrative. You could only assume the scent of marijuana was coming from him.
“And that’s YangYang.”
“The Moon,” added YangYang, gleaming.
The thief, you thought to yourself. He could steal anything under lock and key. He was also a notorious pickpocket. You made a mental note to keep an eye on him for the sake of your jewelry.
“Is that everyone?” Yuta asked you coyly.
“I think I’m missing Strength and The Hierophant.”
“Strength is Lucas. He’s out on business at the moment,” Yuta explained, nonchalant. “As for The Hierophant that would be Xiaojun and he’s scared shitless of me so he probably made a run for it when he heard I was in the building.”
You snickered, biting your lip to hide it. The only intel you had on The Hierophant was that he was ridiculously skittish and very few people had seen his face. He was in charge of record-keeping and managing the logs, and preferred to stay hidden away much like Shotaro.
Johnny was seated at the head of the table where he rightfully belonged. Taeyong and Ten flanked him, as you would expect, and all three of them were looking at you with a mix of disinterest and annoyance.
Yuta pulled out a seat for you and instead of sitting at your side, he stood behind you, overlapping his arms on the back of your chair almost protectively.
Johnny didn’t waste any time. “Yuta, what is your plan now? What’s to stop her from marching right into police headquarters and exposing all of us?”
“She won’t,” Yuta replied with total confidence. “I know her and that’s not what she wants.”
Johnny scowled. “What does she want?”
“Just me,” Yuta said smugly, winking and clicking his tongue for effect. You resisted a roll of your eyes. It was just like him to be sarcastic and obnoxious in such a heavy situation.
“She could be useful, you know,” said Ten, turning to Johnny. “Leave her in that unit and she can make sure they never get farther than we want them to be.”
Taeyong added, “It would definitely be cheaper. Instead of constantly paying people to switch units.”
Yuta shook his head and cut in, “I don’t want that. It’s too dangerous. Someone could find out and try to use her against us. Or get rid of her.”
Johnny, Taeyong and Ten all broke into wide grins in perfect sync.
“Oh, he loves her,” Taeyong teased.
“Shut up,” Yuta growled.
You flushed.
Ten retorted, “We knew that already. Since when is Nakamoto Yuta in a relationship that lasts longer than a weekend?”
“Are you done?” Yuta barked irritably. You looked away to hide your amusement, embarrassed on his behalf.
Jokes aside, Johnny declared, “It’s your call, Yuta.”
Yuta lowered into the seat beside yours, turning you gently to face him, and said, “I want you to quit.”
His brows lifted in surprise. “No?”
You stood your ground. “I love my job, Yuta. You know that.”
Yuta bit his lip to fight a smile. He just adored your tenacity, but the time for games had passed and the gravity of the situation was growing with every passing moment. “So, you’re going to spend your days hunting me only to crawl into bed with me every night?”
You mulled it over briefly and answered, “I’ll hunt someone else.”
“We’re the big fish, honey. You have legit superiors that want progress on our case.”
Something lingered in your mind. Words echoed in your head, making you wonder where you’d heard them before. “Wait, what did you say?”
Yuta looked at you confusedly. “Big fish. You know, as in the big catch?”
You shook your head and wracked your brain, saying, “No, before that. About me getting into bed with you at night?”
Yuta chortled lightly. “Baby, do I really need to explain that to you in a room full of people?”
Then, it hit you like a sack of bricks. Where you had heard it before. You gazed at Yuta, eyes wide with fright, and said, “Oh, god. Cal. He knows.”
Yuta frowned. “That guy in your unit? The one with a hard on for you?”
You rubbed your brow. “Yesterday, he said something about how I can’t trust anyone. Not even the man I share my bed with at night.”
Yuta turned toward the table and hissed, “Johnny.”
The leader motioned to Taeyong, ordering, “Call Shotaro now and have him run a full scan of this guy.”
“Got it.”
Johnny stood and said, “In the meantime, the two of you need to get in a car and go until we know more.”
Yuta nodded, in complete agreement, and took you by the hand to lead you out.
You tugged at his arm. “Maybe I’m just reading too much into this. He could be completely harmless.”
Yuta locked eyes with you and said gravely, “It’s too risky.”
Kun called out, “Be careful, Yuta. The moment she leaves with you, she’s an accomplice to anything that happens in the eyes of the law.”
You peered up at Yuta and simpered. “Let me go back,” you whispered for his ears alone. “I can get more information.”
What you didn’t mention was that you wanted to check something. Renjun and Mark had bickered earlier about your access being used to compile data on the Arcana of an extremely personal nature. Which you had no knowledge of.
Someone was using your clearance to dig up dirt. Were you being framed? With what you knew, Mark would have been the likely culprit, but he was aware of your relationship with Yuta. There was no way he would put you in such danger with both sides of the aisle.
Yuta exhaled heavily, clearly unnerved by your suggestion.
“Yuta, I know what I’m doing,” you pressed gently. “Trust me.”
“I do trust you. It’s the rest of the world I don’t trust.”
Those words registered deep in your heart. You lifted on your toes and kissed him softly, cupping his cheeks in your hands. Yuta kissed you back, but you could feel his tension. He wasn’t happy, but he couldn’t stop you.
Thunder cracked when you returned to headquarters. Everything was damp with rain, soaked and drenched. You raced inside, careful not to slip as you climbed up the stairs.
Yuta was in the backseat of a car, driven around in wide circles nearby. He wanted to be close, needed to be within range to intervene if something went awry.
Watching you enter the main doors and out of his sight, Yuta felt his heart sink.
Then, he felt a vibration in his pocket and answered the phone. “What did you find?”
Shotaro responded in their native tongue, “This guy Cal has been pinging her cell phone for the past two hours, trying to get a lock, but the signal was underground.”
Yuta bristled with anger and fear. “What?”
“And he’s been using her access in the database,” Shotaro continued, typing at a keyboard as he spoke. “It goes back months. I matched the timestamps with surveillance footage and it’s definitely him. The intel I relayed to Mark was wrong. It was never her. I should have looked deeper.”
“I gotta go,” Yuta interrupted hurriedly. “Fuck.”
You hung up your coat in the office, your cellphone deep in one of the pockets, and went in search of Cal.
Yuta tapped his foot anxiously, listening to the call ring and ring and ring for the third time. “Pick up, baby. Pick up. Pick up the goddamn phone!”
You stepped into the conference room and greeted, “Hey, Cal. Did you find any leads in the…”
Cal turned away from his laptop and stated, “You’re under arrest.”
You barely had time to say, “What?”
In the next second, you were face down on the table, hands being cuffed roughly behind your back. Two other men raced in, securing your arrest and hoisting you up by the arms.
“Get her phone,” Cal told one of them.
“What the hell are you doing?” you exclaimed, shaking with nerves.
Cal finally met your eyes and replied coldly, “You’re under arrest for tampering with federal files.”
“I didn’t tamper with anything,” you screeched, glancing around for help. “What are you talking about?”
“Put her in interrogation. Keep the cuffs on.”
“Cal, this is insane!”
For twenty minutes, you sat in the frigid interrogation room, staring at your reflection in the one-way window. Given that no one had been in yet, they were clearly leaving you to sweat. Had they forgotten that interrogation was one of your specialities?
But you were sweating. You had no way of getting in touch with Yuta. He was already on edge. If he suspected anything, you had a feeling nothing would stop him. And you were reminded that he was the only Arcana you had no information on.
Just how far would he go? Would he forge a path to you filled with blood and death? That was the worst thought on your mind. One wrong move and you wouldn’t be able to save him.
Nor would he be able to save you.
Cal finally entered, placing a bottle of water before you and sitting in the other chair. He laced his fingers across his stomach and crooned, “Let’s talk.”
“Lawyer,” was all you said.
Cal attempted to negotiate, “If you talk now, we can work something out.”
You knew that was a hollow, worthless promise. Crossing your legs, you snapped, “I’m not saying a goddamn thing until I get my one phone call. So I can contact my attorney.”
Cal exhaled. He should have known you would be impossible to crack, but he was blinded by his own desires. Rifling in his pocket, he pulled out your phone and handed it to you. “One call,” he said, holding up a single finger.
You took the phone, skeptical, but your rationale was out the window. You dialed Yuta quickly, desperate just to hear his voice for a moment, to know he was safe. The moment the call picked up, you began before he could speak, “Hey, it’s me.”
Yuta roared furiously, “I’ve been trying to call you! Where the hell are…”
He knew something. Something had set him off and that made you doubly nervous as to what was happening in your unit. “I need a lawyer,” you interjected, calm.
Your voice was like ice, “I’m being held and I need a lawyer.”
Yuta closed his eyes, grit his teeth, and threw his head back, intentionally smacking his skull once or twice against the cushion of the car’s backseat. “That guy’s been tracking your phone and using your security clearance,” he told you, simmering with anger.
Your heart promptly vacated your chest, but you played it off well enough. “Sounds good. I’ll see you soon.”
Yuta discerned someone was there and you had to be careful with your answers, but he needed you to know, “I’ll get you out of there. Just hang tight. Say absolutely nothing. They want to pin shit on you to force you into talking.”
“I know,” you replied, looking at Cal with disdain. “My lips are sealed until I have legal counsel present.”
“Good girl,” Yuta purred, hoping to ease your nerves. “Just breathe. I’ll kill them if they touch you.”
“Save me,” you told him in Japanese, earning a suspicious glare from Cal across the table.
“I will.”
You hung up, keeping the conversation short as they were undoubtedly trying to trace the call, and handed the phone back to Cal. After making sure it was locked.
Though he opened his mouth to speak, a tapping on the door drew Cal away to answer.
Mark waited in the hall, arms folded tightly across his chest, and the moment Cal shut the door behind himself, he snapped, “Dude, what the fuck are you doing to our boss?”
Cal glared. “Her access was used to delete government files.”
“Which files?”
“Everything we had on the Arcana.”
Mark fixed him with a look and asked, “Why would she do that?”
Cal sneered. “Because she’s in bed with them. Literally.”
Mark knew at that very moment what the root of this problem was. He could smell Cal’s jealousy and his wounded pride. “Did you run full diagnostics and make sure it wasn’t her? What if someone thought they were smart and used her access to do it?”
“What are you implying?”
Mark offered a wolfish grin. “I think you know exactly what I’m implying.”
Bristling with anger, Cal narrowed his eyes. “Mark, I don’t know who you think you are…”
Mark let the smile fade from his face and crept close, whispering, “Funny. I was gonna say the same thing to you. Do you have any idea what kind of hell will fall on you if anything happens to her?”
Cal blinked in realization. He was staring into the face of a high-rank.
Mark leaned in, aggressive but quiet, and warned, “Choose your next actions very carefully, Cal.”
Only a few minutes later, Ten strutted out of the elevator dressed in a crisp suit and announced for all to hear, “Hello, I’m Lee Young Heum and I need to confer with my client. Now.”
The door of your room opened and the last person you expected to see stepped inside.
“Shh. Don’t speak,” he said, moving the spare chair closer to you and sitting down. “Just nod yes or no to my questions.”
You nodded that you understood.
“Did you delete the files?”
You shook your head.
“Did you share your access with anyone, accidentally or otherwise?”
You shook your head again.
“Are the files you have at home on your personal computer encrypted and protected?”
You nodded.
“And Cal. Do you know his motivations for doing this?”
You shrugged, but nodded slowly. The expression on your face was pained. You had underestimated Cal. It wasn’t something you made a habit of, but this one cost you dearly.
Ten reached over and patted your hand in consolation, frowning at the sight of handcuffs around your wrists. It was better Yuta didn’t know you were restrained to a table like an animal in a cage. “You’re doing fine,” he encouraged sweetly. “Just stay relaxed and cool under pressure. They will look for weak points in your armor. If you stay quiet, they have no ammunition.”
You nodded and released a steadying breath, earning his nod of approval.
“I’ll be back,” said Ten, leaving in search of Mark.
The two of them met up in a dark corner of the hallway, away from prying eyes and ears.
“Before the files were deleted, they were downloaded,” Mark informed him.
Ten had a phone in hand, fielding texts from Johnny and Yuta. “So, it’s safe to assume he has everything.”
Mark folded his arms. “The log is encrypted. I don’t know how much information he stole. We have to assume it’s damning.”
Ten glanced up from the screen and spoke with disdain, “Well, if he wasn’t already on the chopping block for trying to frame Yuta’s girl, he would have just been sent to the express lane for that alone.”
“I don’t know what his intentions are. I believe he wants to frame her because she rejected him or maybe he wants to put himself in a position to be her knight in shining armor, but what does he want from us?”
Ten mulled it over. “Sell our information to our enemies? He has to know a stunt like this would put a massive target on his back. It’s reckless and sloppy. I don’t like it.”
You stared at the clock on the wall, your head in your hand as you watched the seconds tick by. It was a slow, cruel torture - waiting. You had no way of knowing what was happening outside these four grey walls and that was the worst part.
Suddenly, Cal charged into the room, grabbing your wrists and unfastening the cuffs. “Get up.”
“I said get up,” he snarled, yanking you up and fastening your hands back together again in front of you. “We’re leaving.”
All of your instincts were screaming. He was devolving, no longer in control of his emotions or impulses. The presence of two Arcana must have pushed him over the edge. This was considerably more dangerous.
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” you snapped, struggling against him. “Are you just taking me somewhere to kill me?”
Cal gave your arm a twist and brought his lips to your ear, whispering, “Do as I say or I’ll gut your lawyer. It’s no secret he’s Ten. He’s Johnny’s right hand man. If he dies in police custody, it would be an all-out war with the gang. You know that. Is that what you want?”
You shook your head, tears pricking your eyes. War with the gang would mean casualties on both sides. People you worked with and respected would have their lives on the line. But what terrified you most of all was Yuta. You could never put him at risk.
Seeing you pliant, Cal softened his grip on your arm but his voice still dripped with venom, “Walk like a good girl now.”
You did as told, letting him take you from the interrogation room and down the hallway toward the back exit.
“We have a problem,” Mark panted, out of breath. He had just spent the last five minutes running around the entire unit in search.
Ten glanced up from his phone. He was not in the mood for another problem added to his already large pile of shit to deal with. “What?”
“She’s gone. He took her.”
“Fuck me,” Ten snapped, dialing Johnny and putting the phone to his ear.
Mark pinched his lips together and grinded his teeth in frustration. “Put Jaehyun with Yuta,” he said, swallowing the lump in his throat. “Someone has to keep him under control.”
Ten shook his head. “We have to be very careful what we tell Yuta. Jaehyun can’t stop him. No one can.”
You stared out the tinted windows as Cal sped away from headquarters. It was taking all of your strength not to cry. You didn’t know what to do. And you knew you were running out of time.
Once he was on the highway, Cal spoke with a combination of disappointment and rancor, “You’re just like the rest of them, you know. Day in and day out, those bastards kept buying us off to stop hunting them. You stayed the course. You weren’t bought.”
You said nothing. Your heart was painfully rapid, thundering faster as if it were trying to match the speed of his car.
“Instead, all you needed was a good fuck and a bastard to convince you he loved you.”
If your hand hadn’t been cuffed to the car door, you would have slugged him in the nose. Anger made you bristle as you spat, “Go to hell.”
“Not me though,” Cal ranted, like he didn’t even hear you. “They never tried to buy me or threaten me to stop looking. I’ve always been invisible on both sides of the aisle. I’ve never even been a blip on anyone’s radar.”
Your mind was on the verge of outpacing your heart. The more he spoke, the more he revealed about his intentions. He was a small shell of a man constantly overlooked and desperate for attention, getting none in his personal life nor his professional one. He was cold, but hurt. You could use that to your advantage. You had to.
“That’s not true, Cal,” you coaxed, softening. “I’ve considered you my friend all this time. We’ve been working on this case together for years. I thought I could trust you.”
Cal frowned. “I never wanted to be your friend. I wanted more.”
You nodded. “I know and I’m never going to apologize for not having feelings for you in that way. We can’t help who we fall in love with.”
“I know that more than anyone.”
So do I, you thought morosely. A weight settled on your chest. He had said, ‘a bastard to convince you he loved you.’ And then you had said, ‘we can’t help who we fall in love with.’
Just like that, you realized something - you were in love with Yuta. Truly and hopelessly in love with him, and that scared you to death. It was too heavy, too painful to bear at the moment, given both of your lives were potentially at stake.
Tears burned your eyes. What you wanted more than anything else in the world was to be in his arms again, to see his smile just one more time. You were ready to die for him if that was what it took to keep him safe. And somewhere out there, you knew he was looking for you and he was willing to kill for you.
Maybe you weren’t the only one who had fallen in love.
“Cal, please,” you whispered timidly. It was a tactic to make you appear more submissive to him. “Can I call him? I just want to say goodbye. Please.”
With you giving him more power, which was what he craved most of all, Cal agreed, pulling out a burner phone from his pocket and handing it to you.
You dialed Yuta’s phone from memory, worried he wouldn’t answer a call from an unknown number, but breathed in relief when you heard his voice.
“Who is this?”
You blinked through your tears. “Yuta, I just realized something.”
Yuta wanted to ask you a million questions. Where were you? How far had he taken you? Did he have a weapon? Was he going to hurt you? Had he hurt you already?
But instead, he simply said, “Tell me.”
“I’m in love with you.”
Yuta closed his eyes. It was the last thing he expected you to say. His mind filled with images of you - of your smile, of your laugh, of you safe and sound beside him. “Baby…,” he started.
You couldn’t hold back the tears now and they dampened your voice as you spoke, “I’m sorry I didn’t listen to you. I thought I was doing the right thing.”
“I know,” Yuta sighed, parting his lips to tell you how he felt about you. That he wouldn’t stop until you were safe in his arms again. That you belonged to him forever, no matter what. Yuta had thought himself incapable of loving someone or being loved in return, but you proved him wrong. You were his and he was yours.
“Don’t come here,” you quickly blurted, before he could tell you any of it. “He’s using me to lure you out.”
“Damn you,” Cal shouted, snatching the phone and hanging up.
Wiping your face roughly, you cried, “Cal, I care about you. You don’t deserve pain. If you let me go, I can beg them to spare you.”
He shook his head vehemently. “It’s too late for that.”
With your free hand, you placed your palm on his forearm tenderly. “No, it’s not. Listen to me. I want to protect you.”
He shoved your hand away. “Shut up!”
You kept quiet for the rest of the drive. After almost forty minutes, Cal merged onto a bumpy road, driving down the long open stretch until a cluster of old buildings came into view. The largest was completely gutted, stripped down to only concrete walls.
Cal unhooked your cuffs and dragged you by the arm with him into the big building, leading you up a staircase until you were panting for breath. Once on an upper floor, he shoved you down next to a support beam and pulled a gun from his belt.
“Don’t try anything. Just sit there and be quiet.”
You nodded in compliance.
Cal crouched down, eyes on the road below, and said, “Your lover owns this building. Well, his boss does.”
You frowned.
“It’s remote. No one around for miles. You could kill someone in broad daylight here and not a single soul would witness it.”
You hissed, “Is that why you brought me here - poetic justice?”
Cal shook his head.
You wrapped your arms around your legs, searching your brain for a way to deescalate the situation. You scanned your memories of Cal, recollected all the things you had filed away about him. There was a risk you had to take to give yourself a fighting chance.
Cal bided his time. He had the perfect vantage point to see when the others arrived. It was only a matter of time.
Discreetly, you looked around. It was intentional; telling you this building was owned by the Arcana. It was a trap. “First, you frame me for deleting the files, then you bring me here to kill me. You’re gonna make it look like a hit. Like they were tying up loose ends by getting rid of me.”
Cal glanced over his shoulder at you and smiled. “I’ll be the hero that caught the Arcana. You’ll be the poor girl they murdered for doing their bidding. Everyone will despise them for killing such a pretty little thing. The prosecutors will have no choice but to throw the book at every last one of them to satisfy the public’s thirst for blood.”
You narrowed your eyes. It was simple - he just wanted recognition. “It’s clever,” you sneered, slowly getting to your feet. “But I don’t think you can kill me.”
Cal faced you, eyes flickering with surprise. “Sit down.”
You approached him assertively, showing no fear. “I’m sure it all looked perfect in your head. But real life is dirty. You don’t have it in you to murder me, Cal.”
Cal cocked the gun back, his hands trembling. “I told you to sit down.”
“I’ve done it before,” you whispered icily. “I lived in a world that was kill or be killed. I did what I had to do and I carry the weight of it with me every day.”
Cal leveled the gun squarely at your chest. “I’m warning you.”
Bargaining had failed. And there was no way to escape.
Fight was the only option you had left.
The two of you stared each other down. You could practically hear one another’s heartbeats filling the eerie silence.
The sudden slamming of a car door broke the trance.
In the split second of surprise, your body reacted and you lunged, colliding into Cal’s chest and grabbing the gun with both hands. You knew you were no match against a man’s strength, but you were fast and all you had to do was knock him off balance.
Cal cursed you at the top of his lungs, but you were too quick. You ejected the clip from the gun and yanked the chamber back, sending a single bullet flying, rendering the weapon useless.
Then, you ran for your life.
In the time it took for Cal to reload the gun, you were already on the next floor and sprinting down the stairwell, taking two or three steps at a time. You pushed off the concrete walls to keep from falling, tapping into your adrenaline to run as fast as you physically could before it ran dry.
You wanted to yell for Yuta, but the noise would give you away. There needed to be more distance between you and Cal before you risked it.
The sound of footsteps echoed off the concrete. They rang in your ears from all directions, making you think you were completely surrounded.
Clearing another floor, you crash landed into a burly chest and screamed in surprise. “Johnny?” you exclaimed, looking up into the face of the person who’d caught you.
“Got you,” he said, clearly out of breath. “You have to get out of here.”
You held his arms to steady yourself, chest heaving. Survival instincts dissipated now that you were safe, but another fear took root when your heart realized if Johnny was here, so was the man you loved. “Where’s Yuta?”
“He went the back way,” Johnny replied, pulling you with him. “He’ll deal with that guy and then you’ll be…”
“He’s alone?” you cried out in disbelief. “But Cal has a gun!”
Johnny couldn’t get a word out before you turned and ran back up the stairs. He tried to grab you, but you were already out of his reach. “Damn it. Come back here!”
Your mind was screaming at you, alarm bells ringing, but your heart was in control. You were blinded by love in every sense of the word. That reckless feeling that made you feel invincible was back at the worst of times.
You grinded to a halt when you caught a glimpse of a familiar figure moving across the room. He was wearing black leather gloves with a gun in his hands. Racing forward, you called, “Yuta!”
Yuta turned around, shock and relief washing over his face when he laid eyes on you, and yelled your name.
You leapt into his arms, knowing he would catch you. Yuta set you down to scan your face for damage and kissed the corner of your mouth briefly.
“Fucking hell, are you okay?”
You nodded rapidly.
Yuta took your hand in his and squeezed. He spoke sternly, “Get out of here. I don’t want you to see what’s about to happen.”
You resisted, bracing a palm on his chest. “Don’t kill him, Yuta. He hasn’t hurt me. Let’s get out of here and I’ll call internal affairs. They’ll arrest him.”
Yuta’s reply was cold and vengeful, “He took you. He’s as good as dead.”
It wasn’t that you wanted to spare Cal. You took pity on him before, but now you wouldn’t have minded throwing him to the dogs. However, your concern was keeping Yuta off the hook for murder. “Yuta, I’m begging you. Please, let us go the legal route with this.”
Yuta hardened his gaze at you. “You’re begging me not to kill him?”
He sighed loudly and shook his head in disbelief. “Jesus Christ. Okay. Fine.”
You breathed a little easier. “Thank you.” Part of you figured Cal was halfway back to Seoul by now. Even he had to know he was no match for Yuta and all his friends.
“Anything for you,” Yuta huffed.
You smiled as he pulled you close and you hugged him tightly.
A little noise made you glance over the top of his shoulder. Cal was standing there, eyes filled with jealousy and hate. He lifted the gun and aimed at Yuta’s back.
It all happened so fast.
You shoved Yuta to the side, making him yell out in surprise, just as a loud crack rang through the air. A piercing pain followed in your stomach, just below the ribs. For a moment, you stood there in shock, then your legs gave out.
Cal went slack, realizing what he had done, and dropped to the ground.
Yuta had a split second to react and rather than put a few rounds through Cal’s chest, he chose to catch you in his arms before you hit the floor. Gently he lowered you to the ground and chaos broke out.
Gunshots made your ears ring and you knew Cal had met his end. A cacophony of voices filled the void, drawn to the sound of the first shot. Yuta, who prided himself on staying composed, was frantically trying to stop the flow of blood from your stomach.
“Goddamnit,” Yuta cursed, screaming your name. “How could you do that? Why would you do that?’
You just blinked up at him. You didn’t have the strength to speak. He had never looked so distressed before. It ripped your heart out. Adrenaline numbed you and a sudden swell of exhaustion set in.
Johnny was there and used a shirt to staunch the blood, then overlapped his hands on your stomach and put heavy pressure on the wound, sending a vicious pain careening through your body.
You couldn’t wail in agony. You could only stare at Yuta as your vision grew darker.
Yuta cradled your face, his breath warm on your cheek as he told you, “You’re not allowed to die. Do you understand? I swear to god, if you die I will be right behind you!”
“Yuta, she’s fading out. Keep her awake,” came a gentle voice you didn’t recognize.
Yuta smoothed your hair back, tears streaming down his cheeks, and cried, “However much you think you love me, I love you more. You are everything to me. I am fucking owned by you!”
Your lips broke into the faintest smile. Then, sleep finally dragged you away from him.
No dreams. No pain. Only darkness. And those words echoing in your mind - I love you more.
The first thing you felt when you woke up was a familiar hand curled around your fingers, followed by the rhythmic beeping of a machine by your right shoulder.
Your eyes slowly opened and a whirling ceiling fan came into focus. The lone light had a yellowish hue, a golden tint that was kind on your sensitive eyes. Swallowing made you realize just how dry your throat was. Blinking through your daze, you noticed someone was standing over you.
“Hey, you’re awake,” he whispered, cautious not to wake the sleeping man at your side. “I’m Sungchan, though you probably know me as The Star. I was just checking your stitches.”
The Star, you thought, trying to remember what you knew. The gang’s personal medic.
You glanced down as best you could, seeing your stomach was slightly exposed and Sungchan’s gentle gloved hands were securing a bandage. “Where…,” you rasped.
He was quick to explain, “You’ve been out for a while. Lost a lot of blood. I had to call in a surgeon buddy of mine to help, but we got you all patched up.”
You hummed. Never had you felt so completely devoid of energy and strength, like maybe you didn’t have any blood left to pump through your veins. Just keeping your eyes open was taxing enough.
Sungchan discarded his gloves and put a comforting hand on your shoulder. “Just rest. You’re safe here. And I doubt Yuta hyung will ever let you out of his sight again.”
You wanted to chuckle, but could only manage a fleeting smile.
“Also, mad respect,” Sungchan gleamed, thoroughly impressed. “You’ve got major street credit now. Jumping in front of a bullet to save Death himself? We all owe you a debt. Anything you ever want or need, just ask.”
You gave a single short nod.
Sungchan smiled warmly and left, promising to come back within the hour to check your vitals again.
You turned your head to the other side. Yuta was sitting in a chair pulled up to the bed, but his arms were overlapped on the mattress, his hand clinging tightly to yours. He was sound asleep and you wanted to grimace at how stiff his back would be from that position.
With what little energy you could muster, you pulled your hand from his grasp and slipped your fingers into his hair. It was messy and disheveled.
Yuta stirred at your touch, eyes blinking open, and he startled when he realized you were moving.
“Hi,” you wheezed.
“You’re awake,” he exclaimed, leaping to his feet and taking your face in his hands. He pressed a number of kisses to your lips, your cheeks, and a long tender kiss to your forehead. All of which made you smile. “How are you feeling?”
“Like I got shot,” you deadpanned, voice cracking.
“I’m so fucking mad at you,” Yuta scolded, pulling back to look you in the eyes sternly. “Don’t you ever take a bullet for me again.”
“You don’t tell me what to do,” you sighed feebly, running out of steam faster than you thought possible.
Yuta exhaled, amused by your snark but feigning anger. “Had me out there wailing like a little bitch, professing my undying love for you and shit. Do you know how much the guys are going to tease me for this?”
You smiled tiredly, eyes struggling to stay open. You wanted desperately to laugh, but the need to sleep was winning.
Yuta tilted his head, staring at you with endless affection. He took your hand and brought it to his lips, kissing across your knuckles. “Go back to sleep, baby,” he crooned. “I’m right here.”
“Say it again,” you whispered, barely audible.
Yuta knew exactly what you meant and didn’t hesitate to say, “I love you.”
You let sleep carry you away then, knowing you were safe and sound. And so was he.
The first few days were nothing but sleep. You felt like you were in an actual hospital room with an IV connected to the back of your hand. Sungchan was hyper vigilant where you were concerned.
After a week, you were getting out of bed to walk around. It was exhausting just taking a few steps and you were always relieved to crawl back under the blankets. But you were finally considered well enough to have visitors.
Ten clicked his tongue and said, “You’re gonna have a gnarly scar.”
Yuta droned, “A daily reminder of how reckless you are.”
You put down your hospital gown, covering up your stitches. Ten had wanted to see them. “I don’t mind,” you said with a shrug. “But I have an idea.”
“I’m all ears,” Yuta said rather unenthusiastically.
“Design a tattoo over it.”
Yuta gawked at you, then whined, “Jesus, woman. That’s a lot of pressure.”
You clocked him a look and reminded, “You owe me.”
“For the rest of my life.”
“So do it.”
Yuta chuckled. There was just no defeating you, all things considered. After a short pause, he surrendered, “I’ll come up with some designs.”
You grinned. “Good.”
The three of you turned when the door opened and Johnny walked in. He asked how you were healing and if there was anything you needed.
Ten teased, “She’s tougher than most of the boys. They bitch over a papercut.”
Johnny spoke kindly, “Like a few others, I misjudged you. It won’t happen again.”
“Thanks, Johnny,” you replied with a smile.
He shook your hand delicately, careful not to cause you pain. “You can call me Boss.”
You retorted, “Okay, Johnny.”
Yuta snickered.
Ten and Johnny left shortly after, allowing you to catch a nap, and when you woke up later that afternoon, Yuta and Jaehyun were talking quietly to each other.
“You saved one of my dearest friends,” Jaehyun told you somberly.
You quipped, “You’re welcome.”
Jaehyun was dead serious when he offered, “If anyone ever bothers you, I don’t care how small it is, you just let me know and I’ll deal with them.”
It was a tempting offer and you thought of the person that had been on your mind. “Mark is bothering me. He hasn’t come to see me yet.”
“Say no more.”
Fifteen minutes later, Jaehyun unceremoniously shoved Mark into your room and shut the door behind him.
After he gathered his bearings, Mark looked at you bashfully and scratched the back of his head. Awkward as hell was an understatement. “Hey, Ace. How you feeling?”
“Much better,” you replied, sitting up. “Been busy?”
Mark approached the end of your bed and braced his hands on the frame, saying, “Not really. I’ve just been avoiding you both, because I feel responsible for what happened.”
You chided sweetly, “Don’t do that to yourself.”
Mark wasn’t ready to accept your absolution. “I should have gotten you out at headquarters. Then none of this would have happened.”
“It happened. It’s over. Time to move on,” you told him, then you resorted to humor. “You’re The Chariot, aren’t you? Moving should be your speciality.”
Mark chortled. You weren’t wrong.
“What is your role exactly besides ladder climbing?”
Mark smirked with pride. “I’m the infiltrator.”
You bobbed your head. “You did a great job.”
He gleamed. “So did you, Ace. You’re the first outsider to know everything about us.”
Yuta finally chimed in, “She’s not an outsider anymore.”
“You’re right. She’s not.”
You simpered.
“Speaking of which,” began Yuta, pulling something from his pocket and handing it to you.
You took the tarot card and flipped it over, reading aloud, “Ace of Wands?”
Yuta seemed pleased. “We agreed it suited you the most.”
Mark added, “Passion and creativity. Yeah, for sure.”
That took you back to the night you met Yuta, bringing a smile to your lips and warmth to your cheeks. You marveled the card a moment, before realizing what it all entailed. “Does this mean I’m part of the syndicate now?”
Yuta reclined comfortably in his chair, lacing his fingers behind his head, and answered, “Yes and no. You’re protected within our ranks, obviously. But we don’t expect you to take part in any illegal activities.”
Mark snorted. “And it goes without saying that your career in law enforcement is over.”
You looked between the two of them. “What happens next?”
Yuta replied without missing a beat, “That’s completely up to you.”
The possibilities seemed endless. Mulling over the thought for a moment, you focused on Yuta. The two of you locked eyes and the rest of the world faded away. A silent understanding passed between you and him.
The corner of Yuta’s mouth lifted in a smirk. As if he knew exactly what you were thinking and he wholeheartedly agreed.
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hey if you enjoyed this story please consider leaving me a tip or buying me a coffee so I can keep writing. my venmo is leighwashere. thank you :)
copyright 2020 - 2022 © yutaholic (formerly zenyukhei) all rights reserved do not copy or translate without my permission!
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tinandabin · 4 months ago
Im the same person that requested yandere douma x tanjiros sister reader
And boy let me tell you I loved it so I thought I would do another request
How about platonic yandere Kokushibou akaza and douma (separate) with their demon kid reader?
The story is basically like akaza kokushibou and douma meets an old woman who can show the future and she shows his kid
And she was on god level powerful like upper rank zero?
Plus point if the kid is female 🌸
Take care ✨💞
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Probably gonna be my favourite thing I wrote from now on. Thank you for requesting!!
Join my discord!!
He wasn't planning to take his kid to some future guesser but Muzan had insisted he does so, because well, Uppermoon one has a kid. Surely, the kid is at least a tad bit powerful?
And so he reluctantly takes you to an old woman while you were wrapped up in a bundle of blankets as you tried to grasp his hair.
He was again very reluctant for the old woman to even see you. Hugging you tight to his chest, he glared at the old woman warning her to not do anything that will hurt you.
After the old woman took a look at you, she let out an elated gasp as she went to hold you in her hold. Looking at you in wonder.
All the while Kokushibo was seething like no she shouldn't even be able to touch you??? How dare SHE.
Soon enough he had enough and forcefully took you from the old woman's grasp as he kissed your forehead.
Looking towards the old woman he asked her how was your future like? If it was anything bad he won't believe her. At all.
But she told him that you, you are meant to grow. Grow stronger by each day and even surpass your own father.
And I kid you not, he was very angry. He would have been happy that you were strong.
But even stronger than him?
Sorry baby, you cannot be stronger than your own papa.
He won't be able to protect you then!
But when Muzan heard of your future, he was satisfied and commanded Kokushibo to take care of you, not like he was gonna anyways, but Muzan knew that he didn't want you to be stronger than your papa.
"Don't put...up such...a fuss..." ~ Kokushibo.
I have been daydreaming ( nightdreaming ) about PAPA AKAZA.
Honestly, it's gonna be so cute and comedic I love it.
Imagine him strapping you to his chest while he goes on the Mugen Train Arc Mission?
Imagine Kyojuro's surprise when he is about to fight a uppermoon someone starts making baby noises and softly crying??
His surprise when he sees UPPERMOON THREE gently stroke your forehead as he rocks you back and forth, shushing you softly saying, "It's okay, Papa is here."
And let me tell you, you really and by really I mean REALLY like people with weird hair colours. One of the reasons you like Akaza is because of his hair colour.
You don't like Muzan. His hair colour is too simple. But goddamn you love Daki's hair!!
Douma is. Ew. No like.
So you very much like Kyojuro'a hair when you see him. And are making grabby hands at him.
And you escape Akaza's hold and go to Kyojuro and play with his hair while Akaza is punching a tree with jealousy.
And now this hashira comes up and you just?? Hello??
He is all like, "(NAME), BABY, COME BACK TO PAPA AKAZA."
Then Kyojuro is holding you and screaming, "NO. I WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO TAKE A KID."
You would 100% love all the hashiras because. Hair colour.
Shinobu. Mwah. Mitsuri. Mwah. Muichiro. Mwah. Kyojuro. Mwah. Rest are bleh.
Now, on to the topic of him finding out you are gonna be super duper strong.
He is gonna be so HAPPY.
But disappointed because he won't be able to protect you, BUT THAT won't STOP HIM. NO, NOTHING STOPS PAPA AKAZA. NOTHING.
He would even teach you to not eat or kill women and love them and cherish them.
There comes the punching Douma duo.
He might as well make you hate Douma with a burning passion! Which you do.
"Shhhh, it's okay, you are safe, little one."
I feel like he won't give a fuck whether you are strong or not, because in his eyes you would need him one way or another!
But he would be very happy knowing you are strong though.
Though he is kind of sad because you would be able to escape him or his hugs anytime you want because you are stronger than him!
So expect him to be very clingy and make you dependent on him.
He would poke your cheeks a lot because THEY ARE SO SOFT AND CHUBBY.
Has probably tried eating your cheek because it is just so FLUFFY.
Would throw you in the air 100% and catch you. Even make ice figures of you.
Honestly, he just feels so happy with you that he won't ever let you leave.
Even if you are stronger, he does not want to let go of these emotions.
Imagine him accepting his offerings with you sitting in his lap as he gently drums his fingers on your head.
And you drooling on every gift with Douma merrily laughing.
His worshipers also adore you because they have never heard him laugh so much and be so happy in general!
Daki would also love you and would dress you up with Douma creepily watching because he doesn't want anyone else to touch you.
One time he had put his finger in your mouth and you bit it.
It broke.
You swallowed it.
Douma was laughing.
You were crying.
Because his finger didn't taste good.
Plus you didn't even chew it.
Would rub his cheek with yours and make you wear matching clothes with him.
Does not care whether you are a boy or girl.
Him showing you off to Akaza like, "AKAZA-DONO LOOK AT MY CUTE CHUBBY FLUFFY SOFT BABY!!"
Akaza would punch Douma and catch you.
I love this.
"You are so cute, my flower!!" ~ Douma.
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logicalbookthief · a year ago
Christmas Movies Ranked by How Anti-Capitalist They Are
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It’s a Wonderful Life
Movies that make you want to pick a fight with the 1% and also weep with joy. Absolutely a classic and anti-capitalist at its very core. Will convince you we need to start oppressing landlords again.
“Just remember this, Mr. Potter, that this rabble you're talking about... they do most of the working and paying and living and dying in this community. Well, is it too much to have them work and pay and live and die in a couple of decent rooms and a bath? Anyway, my father didn't think so. People were human beings to him. But to you, a warped, frustrated old man, they're cattle.”
SAY THAT!!! George Bailey said fuck landlords, all my homies hate landlords, they have NO rights. Local man believes poor people are human, dedicates his life to helping them, and in his time of the need literally the whole town comes together to support him and his family. Class solidarity ftw!
“Remember no man is a failure who has friends.” Bitch I CRY EVERY GODDAMN TIME. 
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Home Alone
Soundtrack goes hard, the wacky hijinks even harder. 
Loses points because the bandits had a prime opportunity to seize and redistribute some of the wealth from this ritzy Chicago neighborhood and instead they focus their energy on trying to kill an 8-year-old who outsmarts them at every turn.
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A family favorite in our house. Touches on the overworking and mistreatment of employees through Greenway Press – Walter forced to choose between being with his family on Christmas Eve or losing his job, it’s implied Deb has a pet grooming business on the side to makes ends meet despite being a receptionist at a NY publishing company, etc.
Honestly most of the points come from Jonie’s underrated yet highly relatable storyline. She works in retail, exhausted and cynical towards the high-paced Christmas season which gives her little to no relief or reward, since she’s surviving on ramen noodles and using the employee showers because her water was cut off. Not expanded on enough to be considered a true Marxist piece but the effort is appreciated.
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Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer
Although the meme is correct in that Rudolph’s red nose becomes desirable only once it proves to be useful, it does get points for exposing the harmful nature of forced conformity and those alienated by these capitalist ideals -- Rudolph, Hermie, the island of misfit toys -- are given a place to belong despite the perceived “flaws” that before made them undesirable.
Also the elves definitely have a free dental-plan now thanks to Hermie and are hopefully on their way to unionizing. Fucking superb you funky little misfit.
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Klaus (2019)
Turns a member of the bourgeoisie into a man I’d trust to carry my mail. Respect for postal workers this movie contains was ahead of its time.
 No direct takedown of the establishment but a heartwarming message -- “A true selfless act always sparks another” bITCH I may be crying -- that emphasizes the importance of giving to others even when there is no selfish motivation to do so, which is inherently anti-capitalist.  
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The Santa Clause
Scott Calvin starts as a toy executive who takes part in the commercialization of Christmas. He was probably a business major so automatically loses points.
The Santa dynasty itself seems to operate under the cutthroat rules of the business world where you must overthrow (or in this case, throw him off the roof) the former CEO in order to seize power. 
Elves have not unionized or seized the means of production by the end.
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A Christmas Carol 
THE ORIGINAL. Charles Dickens was not even in the neighborhood of fucking around with this one. CREATED the anti-capitalist Christmas genre!!
Rich man treats his employees like shit and gets terrorized by three ghosts on Christmas Eve. Force him to redistribute his wealth by dragging him through a montage of his most epic fails -- oh, hey, remember when your fiancé left you? -- and make him listen as all his employees and relatives complain about his stingy ass. 
They end this slideshow by throwing this dude into his own grave. DIRECT ACTION. 
Like damn, the ghosts really said, “If you hoard your resources and ignore those in need when you could directly improve/save lives with no cost to yourself, you will die ALONE and you WILL pay for your crimes in hell.” Literally watching this movie is a catharsis for anyone who is or has been poor and working class. 
I’m including all versions of this movie but a special shout out to the Muppet version because it fucks the hardest. 
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How the Grinch Stole Christmas (2000)
Listen I’m not even in realms of joking with this one. This movie is THE anti-capitalist film of the holiday season. 
WhoVille commercializing Christmas and a fixation on consumer culture to the point where anything and anyONE who cannot be commodified -- aka the GRINCH -- is alienated? The Whos rediscovering that people should be cherished over material items once it all is stolen and they must confront how empty the holiday has become??
Cindy Lou becoming disillusioned in Christmas -- at an age that coincides when many children (those who celebrate Christmas at least) lost belief in Santa and had to wrestle with what the holiday means with the magic gone and they’re more aware of the rampant consumerism that taints the season?? Her resolve to find a meaning that goes beyond material consumption because if a holiday founded on goodwill doesn’t extend that goodwill to everyone, even those society deems undesirable, then what’s the point???
The Grinch despising Christmas because he is unable to participate and isolated from the Whos and also the better qualities within himself? His alienation serving to demonize him further as it allows the public to narrow his valid criticisms of the holiday down to him being different and thus inherently predisposed to evil?? And hmm isn’t it interesting that a LOT of this demonization comes via Mayor Augustus “generously paid for by the tax-payers of Whoville” Maywho, Mr. 1% himself.
The upper vs working class divide evident in the light show competition between Martha May and Betty Lou Who?? The opening scene of the shopping frenzy that mirrors our own consumerist culture and overworking of retail/poster workers??? This entire monologue:
“That's what it's all about, isn't it? That's what it's always been about. Gifts, gifts... gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts, gifts! You wanna know what happens to your gifts? They all come to me. In your garbage. You see what I'm saying? In your garbage. I could hang myself with all the bad Christmas neckties I found at the dump. And the avarice... the avarice never ends! ‘I want golf clubs. I want diamonds. I want a pony so I can ride it twice, get bored and sell it to make glue.’" 
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yujibbygirl · 10 months ago
Akaza, douma, and kokushibo reacting to a sibling reader being hit on? (Like a sibling figure or actual blood siblings whatever you’d like!) I don’t wanna sound weird I just wanna know how they would act on that 🤔
Sure thing! But imma make it hc(done on my phone so mistakes ahead)
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Kokushibou (non blood sibling)
At first he didn't care to be honest. But the reason is he doesn't even like his real sibling so why should he for you.
But your lucky!
After seeing how the low ranking demon keeps one talking to you, over and over again. He gets annoyed.
He was supposed to be looking at the moon with you and this demon was a peck. Not to mention him hitting on you sound midway perverted so to speak.
"Hey darling, your of the 5th why not I show you my sixth."
Kokushibou generally hated even recognizing smaller things or anyone below him but this. He will make his presence known.
The upper rank slowly came up behind you and put his hand on you and held his hand on his infamous katana.
The wordsalone carried the message of millions as his eyes, aura and face screamed anger and fears. Not to mention if you Muzans fav he could get permission to just kill the demon from him.
The demon went away and he held you close telling you for now on if anyone annoys you like that let him know. His favorite shouldn't be pestered like that. They need to focus on getting stronger and him. "Ah thank you Koku-nii!"
Douma(blood sibling)
He could tell his culture made you feel off. But it was what he was forced in by your parents. You being kept out of it by him.
Douma was idly watching as another member and worshipper gave you a kiss on the hand and began a conversation.
Douma being himself didn't like this. So he was petty and ordered the member to go do something time severing.
If he sees it gets worse and worse like annoying you and you see that. He will just let a lil demon show
"Ah~ mou! I think it would be smart to let my little sister go now ~."
His fans were at the neck of the human ready to sever it.
Soon he just kills them and lets Daki eat him.
Soon not many ppl mess with his sister.
Akaza(blood sibling)
Won't happen.
He keeps you hidden.
But let's say Kaigaku is trying hard to flirt with you?
He will literally have the tightest death grip on you to keep you away.
His sister is his little one. To the point many thought you were his kid. But no younger sibling.
Will immediately kill whoever annoys you or him. Doesn't carr for weak people. Especially pervs.
If the new upper rank gets too handsy and tries to do more than what is liked?
He doesn't care if the master harms him. Will punch his head clean off. He'll rip something out of him.
The upper ranked three love their sister or sibling. Just don't try and make you apart of it..threes a croud.
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kimandreaaaa · 4 months ago
Can I make a request for when the upper moons s/o gets a attacked by a low rank demon and she got away? Bonus if you have one of them ask "who did this"?
Hi Thank you so much for requesting!
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Description: how the upper moons would react if their s/o was attacked by an lower ranked demon!✨
Warnings: hurt/comfort, angst and fluff! <3
Requests: open!
You were currently running for you’re dear life because of you’re one interaction with a lower rank. You’re intentions wasn’t to piss them off in the slightest, but for helping another demon in need. So when you had accidentally punched the enraged lower rank right in the face, it wasn’t a surprise for it to run after you with the intention off killing you.
As you were beginning to reach you’re home you had noticed the angry beast behind you had disappeared. You’re relief soon turned into terror because it had appeared right infront of you instead.
It had now grabbed you and had pinned you against a three while it was slowly choking the life out of you. As you were beginning too get unconscious from all the suffocation the demon was thrown in mid air by upper three, also known as Akaza you’re boyfriend.
As you could feel the air slowly building itself up again you were grabbed into a tight and protective hug. “Are you okay? Do you want me to torture the life out of him?” Akaza asked you filled with anger and irritation. As you explained what had happened he calmed down with you’re reassurance that you were now completely fine and fully healed.
Lets say that something like that wouldn’t happen again since akaza was a bit more protective of you whenever you were outside after that event.
You and Gyutaro have been together for a long time. You knew eachother’s deepest and darkest secrets, so it was natural that you guys loved eachother very much. In the relationship, Gyutaro was often the protective one. He didn’t like you going out on you’re own because he was afraid of you getting hurt or even worse, killed.
So when you had come back home one evening with terrible wounds and lots and lots of bruises was when something clicked in Gyutaro’s mind. He went on and on about asking you if you were okay and if you needed anything. He honestly felt a bit hopeless in the matter since he couldn’t really do anything.
his focus however, quickly turned from worry to hatred. He wanted to know who had done this to you so he took it upon himself to ask you. “ who did this to you! And what did they look like!?” He asked. And as you described the person, he could already tell that the person was a demon. And a low ranked one.
Lets say that the demon who had been at fault was never to be seen again.
As protective and very easily angered Kaigaku is, it came to no one’s surprise when he had chased down and tortured the living hell out of the lower ranked demon that had tried killing you. When he found you lying on the ground unconscious he became outraged and was honestly in complete shock.
It didn’t really help with his worry killing the lower rank when you were still lying there on the ground without any response, so he took you in his arms searching for the closest farmacy he could come across.
When you were in recovery, he was always by you’re side praying for you to show any signs of movement. He was week when he were around you, because you had brought the good side out of him that no one had ever really gotten to see. He really loved you because you were always so kind and was angry and shocked that someone could do that too you.
And when you had finally started to wake up, he was absolutely over joyed and couldn’t do anything else that hold you tightly against his chest.
You had recently boarded the Magen train to spend time with you’re boyfriend. You and enmu had been a couple for a while and loved spending time together. Enmu was sometimes a pervert trying to touch you in certain ways, but he respected you if you were uncomfortable in any way.
You were currently going through the hallway in the front of the train, exploring everything you could. What you didn’t realize was that another demon had theirs eyes on you.
As you made you’re way further down in the carts. Someone grabbed you by you’re collar. You couldn’t understand what had happened at first, but when you looked up you could see a king spider like demon. It looked dreadfully hungry and had drool all over its mouth m. You could basically feel you’re adrenaline pump into you’re veins and back to you’re heart.
As It was about to make its first move, it was chopped into little pieces. Since it was no one around, no one got hurt. Enmu had sensed you’re fright and went to discover what had you so scared. And when he saw what had troubled you, he got very angry and killed the lower rank.
In the end you were grateful for enmu. He didn’t only love you, but protect you aswell!
Authors note: Thank you for reading this! And I hope you all enjoyed the latest episode! <3
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iamthecabbage · 4 months ago
Little Flame | demon slayer
Single Part - Headcanon
Pairing: Tanjiro Kamado x Female!Reader, Obanai Iguro x Female!Reader
Request: "I've read your other Avatar works and omg I loved them. Can I please order some headcanons of Tanjiro and Iguro in love with Kyojuro's (adoptive) younger sister? Bonus if the girl is calmer than Kyo and is his tsuguko. Feel free to ignore this request btw! ^^" - Anonymous
Warning: overprotective brother and slight canon divergence (kyojuro is not dead)
Summary: she was just so captivating, too bad she was kyojuro's younger sister
A/N: Hope you Enjoy!
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You met Tanjiro after the events of the Mugen Train, after your brother had been brought back severely injured with an impressive recollection of the fights against Lower Moon One and Upper Moon Three.
You wanted to meet the tree lower ranked Demon Slayer's who had helped bring your brother back alive. After all you were eternally indebted to them because of it.
Zenitsu was...well a lot to handle. Pretty much the moment you stepped into the room where you were recovering he was gushing about your beauty and asking for your hand in marriage.
You politely declined.
Inosuke was another story. He didn't care that you're a pretty young woman (...much to Zenitsu's horror...) and tried to challenge you to a fight.
Again...you politely declined.
Then there was Tanjiro. The Demon Slayer travelling with his Demon little sister in a wooden box. At first you were understandably annoyed by the situation.
Seriously, a Demon Slayer trying to work with a Demon? The very species that they were training to demolish?
But then you laid eyes on him for the first time, his kind eyes and gentle smile brought you in.
And when you finally met Nezuko, you understood.
She was different from any Demon you had ever encountered before, she climbed out of her little wooden box and nuzzled up against her older brother with the cutest sounds coming from behind her muzzle. Then when she finally noticed you her gentle hands pressed against your cheek affectionately.
You would protect that girl with your life if it came down to it.
Tanjiro was initially surprised to learn that you were Kyojuro's little sister, after all you were nothing alike.
Kyojuro was bright and pretty loud, often very enthusiastic about even the littlest of things.
You were more passive, though you were grateful for everything that was present before you - you weren't one to shout it from the rooftops.
You and Tanjiro were friends for awhile before he noticed that the flutters in his chest when you were around were the beginnings of a crush.
Kyojuro was training him and the others alongside you, though you remained tsuguko.
And Tanjiro was in awe of your abilities, you were so effortlessly perfect with your Flame Breathing.
When he finally realized his feelings, he grew a little scared.
He had lot a lot of people to Demon's, and it seemed that every time he started to get comfortable something crazy would happen.
So any relationship you guys started would be slow going, but still perfect.
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Meeting you had been entirely unintentional.
He had gone to the Butterfly Mansion to get some minor medical help from Shinobu when he happened to bump into you.
And boy, did his heart explode in his chest the second you locked eyes with him.
At first he didn't know that you were Kyojuro's younger sister, after all you didn't really look alike and you were much calmer than the Flame Hashira.
You became friends, though at first it was merely a passing thing.
He was comfortable around you, an amazing feat since he was never comfortable around anyone. So if you were near he'd make his presence known.
When he eventually learned that Kyojuro was your older brother he was floored.
It definitely put a pause on the friendship (...relationship...) you guys had slowly developing.
Obanai respected Kyojuro more than he would like to admit, and here he was crushing for his younger sister.
He distanced himself from you, suffering through the pain of not being around you in silence.
But because he wasn't around you anymore, he didn't notice that you were hurting too.
You had grown to really enjoy the Serpent Hashira's company, and you honestly had no idea what you had done to make him vanish from your life.
Then came big brother Kyojuro, he was an expert at reading you. And when your amazing swordsmanship started to suffer he demanded you tell him what was wrong.
You could never lie to him, so you told him everything.
Obanai had absolutely no time to prepare for the Flame Hashira to show up at his estate and demand to know why he had broken his little sister's heart.
And when Obanai confessed to Kyojuro he was afraid of overstepping...well the enthusiastic man was very amused.
He didn't care if you and Obanai were together! He loved, love. And seeing two people close to him (...Obanai did question how close he and Kyojuro were actually were...) happy, made him happy.
That's all that mattered.
As long as he didn't go breaking your heart again.
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requests are open!!!
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hansedetails · 3 months ago
ʾ ، #stay with me ׅ ﹗𓂃
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fandom: kimetsu no yaiba
pairing: rengoku kyojuro x reader
word count: 1190
reader gender: male
warnings: near-death references ; blood ; little to no angst ; hurt/comfort ; fluff
request from: no one, I was watching kny season 2 and ended up falling in luv with kyo babe all over again, even though he died
𓂃 Kyojuro knew his fate was sealed when that demon dodged all his furtive attempts to hit him. But he did not expect to be saved by someone who had long stolen his heart before a mission years before.
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    Even though Kyojuro knew he wouldn't be able to defeat Upper Moon Three alone, the man continued with his powerful thrusts against the demon. With Akaza's quick movements and acidic remarks, Rengoku kept his face intact, fearing that he would weaken if he showed his true feelings for the blink of an eye. The blonde silently prayed that he could keep attacking until he could find a weakness in the oni.
     “I will fulfill my duty!” he proclaimed, breathing hard and steady. “I will not allow anyone here to die!”. Then, with the breath of flames, he used esoteric art to deliver his final blow. And even as Akaza continued his rant about how he would love for Kyojuro to become a demon like himself, the hashira took off like a typhoon towards the enemy.
     His sword pierced the other's torso, rising furiously until it split Akaza in half in a big explosion. However, the pain did not come right away. Actually, Kyojuro only realized that the oni's arm had crossed his abdomen when the smoke cleared and the pressure in his lower belly was present. He was suspended in midair, a look of surprise in his own eyes as he took in the situation. Rengoku then saw his life flash before his eyes in a split second.
     Kyojuro Rengoku's mind wandered to when times were simpler, when he was just a boy who did all his mother's bidding and always kept a smile when taking care of his little brother. When he was only concerned about training and having (name) by his side. That's when something sparked in his memories. How had he been able to forget the only person capable of igniting the hottest flames in his heart? The blonde hadn't seen his lover in a long time, when the other had been summoned for a secret mission on behalf of Ubuyashiki Kagaya. They had met at the height of their six years and split at seventeen for the annihilation of onis.
     (name) (surname) was a worldly boy, who had calm and serenity as his greatest weapon. He and Kyojuro were the complete opposite of each other, but that was what kept them together for twelve long years. In adolescence, the most difficult phase that the two faced, (name) was the one who confessed his romantic love for the blonde, who received those feelings with the biggest smile of all. Together they walked until they both received the title of Hashira, the highest rank in the hunter squad.
     Kyojuro felt tears welling up in his eyes, but he stopped them from falling out of sheer pride. He wouldn't give Akaza that satisfaction. The man once again closed his nichirin once more before his opponent's neck, showing that even though he was seriously injured he would not stop fighting. With a war cry, he stopped the demon's attacks, holding him in place as he knew the sun would soon show.
     Akaza shamelessly fled, knowing that morning would soon break. He cut off his upper limbs, being able to free himself from the man. When he ran towards the forest so that he could protect himself from the sun's rays, the Upper Moon did not expect a surprise attack that was able to sever his head with just one movement. The demon was scared, looking in the direction of the piercing (e/c) eyes that stared at him. Akaza didn't know where that unknown man had appeared from, but the last thing he noticed before he was fully cremated was the gentle way he had looked at Kyojuro.
     Rengoku was lost in thought once more; the memories and longing for everything that he lived infiltrating his heart. He was too hurt and tired to fight anymore, and something inside him said that this was the last moment of his life. When his mother's spirit appeared before him, the blonde accepted his fate with indescribable calm.
     “You made me proud. Rest, my dear. It's not your time yet, remember what you promised (name)”, were the only things said by the woman, who soon dissolved and gave way to the love of her son’s life. Kyojuro could have sworn that was the vision of paradise. With (name) by his side, stroking his cheek and telling him everything would be okay, his heart could finally settle down.
      When the Flames Hashira awoke, he doubted he was still on Earth. Maybe that was paradise, but Kyojuro didn't quite believe his own deductions after one of the room's doors opened and revealed Kocho Shinobu. She opened a sad smile when she saw her friend's complicated condition, but congratulated him on the good improvement.
     “(name) was able to kill Upper Moon and save your life. He stopped the bleeding and quickly brought you to the Butterfly Mansion. Maybe if he had taken a few more minutes, you would have…” she trailed off, afraid of her own words. Shinobu didn't want to give any more credit to those sayings, not while Kyojuro was still in bed.
     “Where is he?”, the other asked, eager to meet his boyfriend who he hadn't seen for a long time.
     “He was with Ubuyashiki-sama, said he needed to inform the master about his findings. It’s been a long three years away, hasn’t it?”
     Kyojuro knew that. He knew very well what it was like to wake up in the middle of the night looking for the warmth of someone else's body and find an empty bed. He knew what it was like to miss someone and not be able to send letters asking about their whereabouts. He knew what it was like to keep walking without knowing the dangers they would run into. The only thing keeping him sane was the knowledge that if (name) died a message delivered by his own crow would be given to his lover.
     When Kocho left after changing the older man's bandages and handing him a tray of food, Kyojuro allowed himself to relax. Even though he didn't manage to finish off Akaza, (name) was able to show up at the last minute and finish the job, just like they did before they split up. His chest swelled with pride, knowing they never stopped being that pair that loved each other. He bit back the threatening smile until the door opened once more, this time with an unearthly elegance that matched the owner of it.
     Rengoku was never happier than at that moment. (name) was in all its glory, with the strands arranged in a simple way, the corporate uniform had a good fit on the toned body. The kimono that resembled Kyojuro's remained intact, almost as if he had never participated in a fight.
     "Kyo-chan...", the noisy voice from the crying made the blonde smile openly, feeling the tears build up in his own eyes. God, how he had missed that time, that face, that hair, that body, that beautiful, amazing boy. His boy. Kyojuro was happy, so happy to finally be able to see once again all the beautiful features of the one he loved.
     “Stay with me, that's all I ask, (name)-chan”
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author's note: ok, I had this complete idea in my mind but it was written with an oc created by me, so I had to modify a few things so it could be read as reader x kyojuro. my babyboy deserves more love, he did NOT deserve the suffering he went through.
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@hansedetails​. reblogs are appreciated! although, do not modify, copy, claim as your own or repost without the right credits 𔘓
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