Fic: Catch Me pt. 1

Title: Catch Me
Author: mearii87
Pairings: Kai/Baekhyun, Kai/Changmin, Yunho/Luhan, broken!Kai/Luhan
Rating: R
Genre: Drama, Action, Romance, mama!au
Summary: Kai is the most wanted criminal in the world. Changmin is the NIS agent dedicated to stopping him, but as a teleporter, Kai isn’t easy to catch. He can’t be caught, and won’t be because underneath the guise of bank robber and jewel thief, Kai is desperately searching for one final person to complete a circle of Twelve that will finally set their broken world right.
WC: 26,800
a/n: inspired by this edit

For just having been robbed, Seoul National Bank is unnaturally calm. Even with alarms flashing against Changmin’s retinas, the pristine floors click with the shoes of patrons, and papers shuffle as money and checks are passed from hand to hand: business as usual.

He supposes the presence of the NIS is doing wonders to keep everyone under control; robberies are almost a weekly ordeal nowadays and no one ever sees a thief or gets hurt in the process, so they probably think they don’t need to panic. They probably think it’s just a publicity stunt.

So little they know.

Changmin sighs and goes in search of the branch manager, picking him out easily among the crowds; he’s the only one sweating.

“Agent Shim!” he squeaks, jowls trembling. “You’re here! It’s another of the same, I’m afraid.” He slides a bit on the marble floor as he runs, nearly tripping over his own feet. His shoes look cheap, and when Changmin flicks his gaze to the floor he finds a trail of black scuff marks the bank director has left behind him. Changmin barely holds back a scoff.

“Kai?” he asks, even though it’s unnecessary. Who else robs banks in the middle of the day? Also, if it had been anyone else, Changmin would have caught them by now because they would have had to come out through the front door. Or any door, really.

But not Kai. Kai has no need for doors.

The manager hums and haws, hand shaking as he proffers a piece of paper. It’s much like the stack Changmin has spread out in his office and taped to his walls. Handmade paper tinted a little gray and fraying at the edges, the symbol for the power of Teleportation painted on it in black ink, the lines blotting a little unevenly. “Kai, then,” Changmin acknowledges, and doesn’t even pretend to be surprised. “We’ll need access to your systems, if you don’t mind, and in the future, please leave the evidence where you find it.”

The bank manager winces, showing yellow teeth.

Changmin’s very careful not to touch the paper with his fingers, sliding it into an evidence bag with a handkerchief and then into his jacket pocket. He’ll have Lu Han trace it later.

The security cameras show exactly what Changmin expects to see: Kai, the smug-ass bastard, popping into the vault in a swirl of black smoke, tossing a few safety deposit boxes into a sack, and then hightailing it out before security is even near the vault door. They’re still running down two flights of stairs, Changmin notes, flicking his gaze to another camera. Imbeciles, the lot of them. Honestly, where do banks find these people?

“Scour that vault and get me the names of everyone on duty.” The order is for an agent that had followed him inside the security room. “I’m going back to see if Lu Han can catch wind of anything before it’s too late.”

Changmin’s saluted smartly, just the way he likes, and he leaves feeling assured that everything will be cleaned up just fine.

Kai’s face haunts him during the ride back to headquarters. It smirks out at him from wanted posters and wanted billboards and neon news banners announcing that he’s just nabbed another couple million from the bank. Changmin tries not to think about how the information got past his gag order. One more thing to add to his list of problems; problems that are all caused by Kai.

Kai’s grin glows as people stop on the sidewalks to watch and whisper and shake their heads. Most of them don’t care, so long as it’s not their money, some of them even like it because Kai always gives his haul away. He’s a regular Hong Gil Dong, though Changmin knows for sure Kai keeps three times what he hands out, the selfish bastard, and Changmin really wants to know where he keeps it. What does he buy? Once Changmin catches him—and he will—those are on the list of questions he’s going to ask. Right after he punches Kai in the face.

Yunho’s waiting for him in his office, arms folding across his chest. “Anything?”

“No,” Changmin spits, unable to hide his fury at being thwarted. Again. “Just his calling card, which the idiot of a bank manager contaminated. I wish I could fire him.”

“If you need someone to axe, I just discovered an agent stealing guns. You can fire him for me, if it’ll make you feel better. And then arrest him as well.”

Changmin half smiles. “Maybe. Can I hit him too?”

“No,” Yunho frowns.

Well, two out of three’s not bad. “Deal,” Changmin nods, “but Lu Han first.”

As the resident NIS Telepath, Lu Han has his own office, but it’s buried far from the maze of cubicles so as to afford him peace and quiet. The better his concentration, the easier it is to track down criminals, and when Changmin enters the room, he finds Lu Han with a bloody knife in his hands, meditating.

“That brutal murder in Incheon,” Yunho prompts under his breath. Changmin nods. How could he forget? Despite his experience, the image of that mutilated body is going to haunt him.

Minutes go by, Changmin counting each tick of the clock on the wall. When Lu Han finally cracks his eyes open, he’s blinking one of them rapidly like a speck of dust is caught in between its lids and refuses to come out. “Oh, you’re here.”

He’s sweating a little as he slides the knife back into an evidence envelope and goes to wash his hands, scrubbing off blood that had made its way into his skin and making pink bubbles that drain slowly even after he shuts the water off. He rubs his eyes after, making the one with the speck of dust rim with red before he can see normally.

“Did you find him?” Yunho asks.

“Someone that touched the knife is in Busan,” Lu Han says, running a hand through his hair, “about 180cm, really skinny, blond hair. He was with a girl speaking in French with brown hair and a few centimeters shorter than him with heels. Ugly, caucasian. Not sure if he’s the murderer or not, though, there were a few other people I could feel. I’ll check it later once I’ve gotten my energy back.”

“You’re the best,” Yunho tells him.

A blush rises in Lu Han’s cheeks and Changmin only rolls his eyes once; it’s a grand feat, he thinks. Lu Han’s crush on their boss isn’t a secret, not even to Yunho, and Changmin knows for a fact that there’s a bet in the office as to when Yunho will do something about it. Changmin does not participate in office drama, but if the way Yunho has started to tease back is any indication, it isn’t going to be much longer. Changmin makes a mental note to knock more often.

“What do you have for me?“ Lu Han asks him.

“Kai,” Changmin says, and doesn’t hide his sneer.

Lu Han’s face falls. “Ah.”

“I don’t know how many people touched the paper. The bank manager at least.”

“Changmin’s very upset about it,” Yunho says to Lu Han, in his best conspiratorial voice, “we’ll need to think of a way to pacify him.”

Lu Han’s mouth perks at the corners hopefully. “We?”

“Please keep your flirting out of my bad mood,” Changmin hisses, “and don’t you think you should be a little more perturbed? Millions of dollars are gone and in the hands of a serial criminal. Again.”

“Lu Han will find him,” Yunho says confidently, and his hand rests on Lu Han’s shoulder. Changmin can almost see the shudder that runs down the telepath’s spine, “then we’ll follow him and catch him.”

“Well, we’ll try,” Changmin says, bitterly.

“As many times as it takes,” Yunho corrects, “because we need him. We need him, Changmin. We’ll chase him to the ends of the earth.”

Changmin casts a glance to the wall opposite them. A grey stone with Lu Han’s mark for telepathy chiseled into it rests there and beside it, places for eleven others once they find them—or in Kai’s case, once they catch him. They need all twelve for the magic of the stones to bind together, and once they have Kai, Lu Han can spend his time searching for the others and the Teleporter can go and fetch them. “We need him,” Changmin echoes, feeling a little distraught and a lot like a failure.

“Go fire that kleptomaniac. Yell at him a bit. I’ll be there soon.”

Changmin accepts the data pad Yunho hands him, scanning the man’s name and picture. The attached footage from their CCTV shows a clear image of the agent breaking into the arms locker and it’s more than incriminating. Changmin grinds his teeth when he sees his favorite AK-47 being loaded into a box. Firing the bastard would make Changmin feel better.

“I’ll find Kai,” Lu Han promises, “and you’ll be the first to know if I get any sort of reading off the paper.”

The Teleportation symbol haunts Changmin all the way down the hallways. The edges of the triangle are glowing in the same manner as Kai’s face had on the LCD displays, its mark burned forever in Changmin’s mind as something that represents chaos. Maybe even evil. He hates it, and would very much like to hate Kai but they need him, and Changmin knows that he has to get over it.

And every time Changmin has to admit that to himself, a little part of him dies.

He wants to lock Kai up forever, but there’s no way to keep a teleporter anywhere, even if he blinds them. They’re free or they’re dead, which means the NIS is screwed. How are they going to convince Kai to be on their side? Changmin hopes Yunho has a master plan he’s forgotten to mention because they’re running out of viable options.

Changmin channels his frustrations into a facial expression Yunho calls his “Bad Ass Changmin In Charge Face” and stomps down into the cubicle area where the employees that hope-to-hold-a-gun-and-be-007-but-usually-never-manage-to-be are located. He singles out the man Yunho had mentioned, who looks terribly guilty when Changmin points at him, and growls in his best I Am The Boss voice, “You! My office. Now.”

Changmin double-checks his belt to be sure he has his handcuffs properly attached and thinks maybe he can do something productive today after all.

The bag of cash and precious gems feels like a hundred pounds, even as Jongin slips into Kyungsoo’s restaurant, skirting the wait staff to head out back. It’s a front, as any good revolutionary headquarters must have, but as Junmyeon reiterates (until his tongue bleeds, Chanyeol always jokes), they’re not technically a revolution.

Kyungsoo sees him first as he heads through the kitchen, and the Earth Stone waves a spoon cheerily. “Saw the news,” he shouts, over the din of pans clanging onto stovetops and chefs announcing completed orders.

Jongin smiles behind the black mask on his face knowing it will reach up to his eyes, and then ducks into a doorway next to the freezer. Junmyeon’s behind a desk, making meticulous notes of something and only looks up when Jongin drops the sack of goods directly in front of him.

“How much?” Junmyeon asks.

“Couple million at least,” Jongin shrugs. “Didn’t want to risk taking more since I hit that bank last week. I’m sure the Shim bastard was only a few minutes behind me.”

An old brick oven is tucked into a corner of Junmyeon’s back office, and Jongin heads towards it now, kicking a lever at its base to shift a few bricks to the side and reveal the lock to their safe. Chanyeol had once tried to keep a fire burning in it to make pizza; he’d only managed to smoke up the restaurant and nearly outed their entire operation because the police and fire rescue had been called. Junmyeon had been so furious he didn’t speak to Chanyeol for a week and sent him to Yifan to do his dirty work for a while. Chanyeol had come back so scarred he didn’t (and still does not) light even a candle with his power while inside the restaurant (at least not without Junmyeon’s say so).

Jongin’s fingers fly over the keyboard as he types the password and then lets a laser beam scan his eye before he’s granted access, and the bricks on the side of the oven grind against each other, rotating to reveal Junmyeon’s carefully organized stash of valuables. Honestly, it’s one of Junmyeon’s better inventions.

He’s currently going through the sack Jongin had brought him, counting the cash and evaluating each gem. Jongin tosses him an inventory book they keep in the safe and Junmyeon begins a painstaking process of marking each item down in their code. Should the book ever be separated from the oven safe and fall into the wrong hands, that information would remain secret; the code is near impossible to break, even Changmin wouldn’t be able to do it. Probably. He’s sort of an enigma, though, and Jongin suspects that the NIS agent is capable of almost anything.

Junmyeon and Jongin catalogue efficiently, as only people that have worked a long while together can. Most of the stones and artifacts he steals are already in velvet-lined cases, and those are stacked off to the sides. They’ve started running out of room, however, and now Jongin places them side by side in pre-made pockets that keep them from moving around and being damaged.

“We can sell the ones you stole a few years back,” Junmyeon says, “you remember? Those diamonds? Yifan thinks he found a buyer in China.”

Jongin nods, digging around a moment before producing the box. It’d been a thrilling job. He’d staked out the Blue House for a few days before teleporting inside and stealing a necklace with several large and exquisitely cut diamonds set in them. It hadn’t taken Junmyeon long to dismantle the piece of jewelry, separating gems and silver (the latter of which he melted down almost immediately), and the diamonds they’d put in the safe to sell once everyone had forgotten about them.

Jongin admires them a moment before setting them aside. He’ll bring them to Yifan’s after he’s done here.

The cash is next, and Jongin packs it meticulously minus the bundle Junmyeon sets aside for Kyungsoo’s supplies. “My rent is due,” Jongin says, holding out a hand expectantly.

Junmyeon snorts, because Jongin lives in Yifan’s house so as to lessen his chances of being caught and Yifan doesn’t charge Jongin rent, but Jongin likes having cash for emergencies (and food and Other Things), so Junmyeon gives him some.

“The orphanage needs some cash or they’ll be out a month of electricity,” Junmyeon says, once Jongin’s tucked a few crisp bills into his pocket. He nods his head towards another wad of cash he’d set aside, “and the hospital Yixing frequents needs money for blood replenishment.”

“I’ll drop them off after I go to Yifan’s,” Jongin says.

There are a few items left in the sack that look like they were pulled from a junkyard. Junmyeon will figure out their worth, though, since clearly being locked in a bank means that they have some sort of value. Jongin sets them in the back next to an oblong black box with a clear top. He stares at it a moment, watching the ten stones, each with a power symbol carved into it, until he sees Yixing’s teardrop-shaped one glow for a moment. Wherever their healer is, he’d just cured someone of something.

“Any leads on Baekhyun?”

Baekhyun is their twelfth power: Light. Under the guise of Kai, Jongin has been Junmyeon and Yifan’s tool for finding the elusive bastard. Jongin’s actually been blamed for a few robberies that Baekhyun had planned, which Jongin doesn’t particularly mind, but being duped over and over has made them all cranky where Baekhyun is concerned. Sometimes, Jongin just wants to kill him but unfortunately he can’t. They need Baekhyun if they want to unite the Twelve Powers and work on fixing their war torn world. It frustrates Jongin to no end that the upstart little shit won’t work with the rest of them.

“Actually,” Junmyeon says, “Yifan thinks he’s found something.”

Jongin hopes it’s a solid lead. He’d love to punch Baekhyun in the face and drag his ass back to Yifan for good.

“Guess I’d better head out, then.”

“Give him this as well.” Junmyeon hands over the remaining cash, and Jongin stows it away carefully. A few years back he’d taken a bit of it as a joke, totally intending to return it later, and Yifan had almost cut out Jongin’s eyes before he realized the Teleporter had only been kidding. Needless to say, a valuable lesson had been learned: Junmyeon always passes along his notes faster than Jongin can teleport—which is pretty damn fast.

“Leave Kyungsoo’s money here, then, if you’re leaving now. I’ll give it to him when he’s done working.”

Jongin fastens his mask back over his face and tugs his cap low over his forehead.

“Be safe,” Junmyeon says. He doesn’t look up from his papers, but his voice is warm, and that means serious. Jongin knows their guardian worries, and he appreciates it to some extent. Junmyeon can be stifling when he wants to be, but he cares, and it’s nice.

It takes seconds to teleport to Yifan’s, as it’s only to the other side of Seoul, and the searing cold that grips him as he passes through nothingness and out to the other side is easily shaken off.

He teleports right into his apartment that’s attached to Yifan’s house. He takes a moment to change, shucking the black clothing that had become sweaty sometime in the last hour, but leaves his mask on as he steps out into the hallway. At any time of day (or night), Yifan could have guests, and it’s best if they don’t know Yifan is friends with Korea’s most wanted criminal. Well, business partners is perhaps a better term…probably a more dangerous one. Not that Yifan needs to appear more dangerous than he already is.

But Yifan’s free when Jongin strolls into his office, suit entirely too crisp to be natural, hair impeccably dyed blond and slicked back. “You’re here,” Yifan says. “I was hoping the rumor of Changmin finally catching you was false.”

“Like he could ever,” Jongin scoffs. “Here. Your part of the haul.”

He rests the cash and a few of the gemstones in front of Yifan. “Have a seat while I count it,” Yifan suggests; Jongin knows he doesn’t have a choice.

“Tell me about the lead you have on Baekhyun,” he says in lieu of sticking out his tongue. It’s hard to resist his impish tendencies, but Yifan’s penchant for bitchiness is never to be underestimated. Sometimes, Jongin wants to tell him: “If you don’t move your face, it’ll stay that way forever,” but then he thinks maybe Yifan’s way past that point and that’s exactly what happened. Yifan has probably been physically unable to smile for years.

“Two thousand and one hundred, two thousand and two hundred—“ Yifan counts, an eyebrow raised.

Jongin huffs.

“Zitao saw him,” Yifan finally says, when he starts packing the money away in a drawer. No doubt it’ll go into the safe that Jongin still hasn’t seen. Yifan’s privacy knows no bounds. “He’s in Beijing.”

“The fuck is Baekhyun doing in China?”

“I don’t know,” Yifan shrugs, “but he’s been there awhile, and Zitao says it looks like he’s not planning to leave any time soon.”

“If I pop up on cameras in China,” which Jongin will, because he can’t turn himself invisible (unfortunately), “Changmin will be on me in a matter of hours.”

“Then we need to distract them. Point their attention to the other side of the world.”

“I’ll call Lu Han. Can you work out the details with Zitao? I’ll need a translator.”

“Just let me know when you want to leave.”

Getting ahold of Lu Han is tricky, but they’ve worked out a system that so far has not gotten them caught, even though Lu Han works in the heart of the NIS. He looks exhausted when Jongin finally meets him at a cafe, but his smile is still brilliant as Lu Han leads them to the back and behind a curtain so Jongin can take his face mask off without having to worry about being caught on camera; Changmin’s face recognition software that gained him entry into the NIS is no joke.

They order tea, silent until it arrives, and as Jongin wraps his hands around the cup, he can’t help but notice that it’s not as warm as Lu Han’s fingers.

“Are you thinking romantic things, Jongin? Your eyes have glazed over.”

“Yifan found Baekhyun,” Jongin says, instead. “He’s in China and I’m going to get him.”

“Changmin will pick up that you’re in China immediately.”

“Which is why we need you to point their attention elsewhere. Across the globe.” Something is wrong with his cup, Jongin thinks, or his nerve endings, because when he takes a sip of his longjing, it burns his tongue. “France,” he suggests, “France is big.”

“Nothing worth while is in France anymore,” Lu Han tells him, “but maybe England!”

“What the fuck would I steal in England if there’s nothing in France?”

“Well, you’re not really stealing anything. But there’s at least something left in England. Changmin will have to spend some time there instead of no time.”

After the war, Walls had been erected around the cities that remained, blocking out the desolated stretches of ground to lessen the damage done. Asia had been the least affected in the world, though not emerging completely unscathed. Europe had had it the worst, and Lu Han is right in that there really isn’t much of it left standing, at least parts that Kai the Thief would bother visiting. So, since the Americas want Kai more than England (but not as much as Korea), this plan is best. Everything Lu Han plans is usually best, except for perhaps their dates when he and Jongin had been together.

“I’ll take care of it,” Lu Han tells him, winding a finger around a blond curl. “Don’t you worry.”

“I’m leaving tomorrow,” Jongin warns. “If they spot me in China before you tell them I’m in England, it’ll blow your cover.”

“Don’t be mean.”

Jongin blows on his tea this time before he takes a sip. “How is Yunho?” he asks.

“Fuck you,” Lu Han returns.

They don’t say much after that.

Lu Han comes into Changmin’s office with hair askew and eye bags for cheeks. He’s smiling, though, and starts to glow when Yunho rests a concerned hand on his shoulder. “I’m terribly exhausted,” the Telepath whines, in a tone of voice that isn’t fooling anyone.

But Yunho indulges him anyway. “Take a day off. What have you found?”

“He’s in England.”

“What is he going to steal? The crown jewels?”

“That’s what I saw,” Lu Han replies breezily.

Changmin blinks. He’d said it as a joke; it’s impossible for Kai to be after England’s crown jewels.

“Can I really have the day off?”

Yunho exchanges a suspicious look with Changmin. Last time he knew, the crown jewels had been lost years ago during the fourth world war and then later confirmed to have been destroyed, the remnants scattered across the globe to those that could afford to buy the pieces.

“What do you think?” Changmin asks, after Lu Han hauls himself out of the office.

“Lu Han sees what he sees,” Yunho responds after a moment, “so either the jewels really are there, or someone’s lying to us.”

It’s never happened before. Lu Han’s always tracked Kai predictably and accurately. Kai’s never purposefully led them astray, which means if he’s doing it now, and Changmin thinks it’s probably not as much of an if as he wishes, the real question is what exactly is Kai targeting? And where is it?

“What do you want to do?” Changmin asks.

“We’ll just do it the old-fashioned way,” Yunho says. “Use your cameras. And Kyuhyun.”

“What do we do if the problem is Lu Han?” Changmin presses. Worst case scenario, Lu Han’s been lying through his teeth this whole time, and they are not as secure in finding the other ten powers as they had originally thought. Actually, Changmin thinks, swallowing, that’s doomsday levels of bad. Best not to dwell on it.

“Let me worry about Lu Han. You just find Kai.”

Cho Kyuhyun is the NIS’ information specialist, the mechanic behind Changmin’s camera system, and general know-it-all. Also, he’s Changmin’s best friend, and after Yunho, is the only other person Changmin can say he implicitly trusts.

Four empty coffee cups litter Kyuhyun’s console, and a fifth is a third of the way gone, still steaming. Kyuhyun’s bent over a display read out, muttering under his breath and doesn’t look up until Changmin clears his throat. “Oh. Hey.” The smile Changmin gets is an exhausted one, and he feels a little bad for what he’s about to ask Kyuhyun to do.

“I need some help.”

“I’m all yours. I’ve had enough red tape for one day.”

Changmin decides not to ask. Sometimes, where Kyuhyun is concerned, it’s best to not. The spare chair squeaks against Changmin’s weight, and he makes a mental note to get more ergonomic furniture for his friend as it’s possibly the most uncomfortable thing he’s ever sat on and that includes the time he accidentally sat on an alligator in the Americas. He’d mistaken it for a mossy log.

“I think Lu Han’s double crossing us,” he starts off, and by the end of his tale, Kyuhyun’s face has darkened.


“Well, it’s most probable that Kai’s leading us astray. But I’m not allowed to speculate either way. I’m just supposed to find him.”

They enter the parameters together, Changmin’s fingers just as fast as Kyuhyun’s on the keyboards and consoles, and after a few minutes, the system that stretches into cameras all across Asia and North America (the inhabitable parts within the Walled Cities, of course) start to search recorded and current footage from a few days back to the present for any hint of a face that is even remotely similar to Kai’s.

It’ll take awhile, if they even find anything, because Kai’s very good at hiding. So Kyuhyun suggests, slyly, that they look up Lu Han while they’re at it. Yunho doesn’t need to know, after all, and since they’re not doing anything—

“Fine,” Changmin agrees, “but this must remain a secret.”

It doesn’t take long, but Kyuhyun zeroes in on Lu Han’s face in a matter of seconds. He’s out towards Seoul’s Wall in a less wealthy region and half as exhausted as he had looked earlier that morning.

“Peppy bastard.”

Curious, Changmin widens the view a bit until he spots one of their men tailing him. Yunho clearly hadn’t wasted any time. “Well, if we see anything, at least you won’t have to tell Yunho you disobeyed his orders to leave Lu Han alone.”

“So long as the tail remains unnoticed.”

Yunho’s man is one of the best; Changmin recognizes him. But it’s still risky because Lu Han’s been trained to pick upon tails and he’s Telepathic, which makes following him undetected nearly impossible and ten times as dangerous.

Lu Han walks for awhile more, Kyuhyun changing cameras every few feet before Lu Han turns down a street populated by nothing but restaurants. He enters one halfway down the strip that looks moderately respectable for that area of town and Kyuhyun detaches one of the cameras, gliding it above the heads of the citizens and tucking it just underneath the eaves in a perfect position to look through the window.

It’s busy, and Kyuhyun zooms in on some of the food being brought out. “That looks amazing,” he says. “I want to eat there. Immediately.”

“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Changmin mutters, but his stomach is grumbling and goddamn it really does look good. “Where is he?”

Lu Han’s talking to one of the waiters, flirting more like, and it’s only a moment before someone appears from the back and beckons to him.

Cameras floating along the street are commonplace at this point, and Changmin’s sure no one has batted an eyelash at it so far, but cameras going into buildings are rare, and that would raise more than a few eyebrows. Lu Han’s tail would certainly notice it, at the very least, and then Changmin would be in trouble. An angry Yunho is not a Yunho Changmin likes to face.

“Fly around the back,” Changmin suggests. “Maybe there’s a window.”

There isn’t. It’s as closed as the Walled Cities, and Changmin grimaces. Such is his luck.

“I’ll keep an eye on him,” Kyuhyun says. “You look like you need a few hours of sleep at the very least.”

It would certainly be nice.

Changmin leaves Kyuhyun to finish his fifth cup of coffee and decides to get some shuteye on the couch he has in his office. He sleeps, dead to the world, for three hours before Kyuhyun comes to wake him. He’s got a sparkle in his eye that’s not caused by caffeine, and Changmin’s instantly alert.

“Found him,” Kyuhyun says, breathlessly. He must have run. “China. In Beijing. His face only popped up for a split second but it’s definitely him.”

Yunho’s just behind Kyuhyun, grinning. “I’m going to call Lu Han back in.”

“No, don’t—we don’t need Lu Han. I can do this.”

“Changmin,” Yunho frowns, “he’s not—“

“Please don’t let your crush get in the way of this. We don’t know who led us astray or why. Let me do this without Lu Han.”

“It’s not a crush,” Yunho protests, pouting, but that’s the end of it. He really does dote on Lu Han, and that he might be a mole is clearly weighing on Yunho. He wants Lu Han to prove himself innocent but catching their elusive thief is more important.

“I’ll get Kai,” Changmin promises, already up and tying his shoes. He’s assembling a list of team members in his head, the type of plan he’ll need, and the Chinese officials he’ll need to warn. “Goddammit, I will get him.”

Junmyeon messages Jongin a few moments after he arrives in Beijing. He teleports into a safe house they have set up near the edge of the city, and he sneezes from the dust; it’s been awhile since he’s visited China. He could have gone straight into Zitao’s apartment, but Yifan had warned him against it—Jongin knows better than to ask why.

Junmyeon tells him that Baekhyun is staying at a super-fancy hotel in the middle of Beijing, packed with people and busy enough to be kind of place Jongin would never consider staying for long periods of time. He knows for sure Changmin’s cameras are littered in the area and the risk of being spotted is enormous, but Jongin doesn’t have a choice. He’ll do almost anything if it means finally getting his hands on Baekhyun.

The bastard.

Zitao’s waiting for Jongin outside, smile as wide as the Pacific as he stumbles over rusty Korean, syllables thick on his tongue as he tries to explain exactly where Baekhyun is and what he’d seen him doing.

“Just take me there,” Jongin suggests, fastening a mask over his face and pulling a hat down low over his eyes. It’s a lot less conspicuous to wear a mask in Beijing (because a lot of people still wear them even though the pollution has lessened considerably), so he feels a lot more comfortable walking around these streets than he does in Seoul. Also, he knows Zitao is good in a fight and will probably be very useful.

The Walled city of Beijing is busy as always; Jongin has to keep himself from teleporting out of the way of at least fifteen bicycles that nearly run him over, instead trusting Zitao to yank him back and forth. It’s more difficult than he thought, and Jongin wonders if maybe he should walk more often. In the back of his mind, he hears Yifan say shrewdly, that’ll get you caught faster than you can blink, moron.

The hotel is as glitzy as as Junmyeon had suggested, complete with crystal chandeliers and velvet drapes: according to Zitao, an eighteenth century European replication. Gaudy as all fuck, is Jongin’s opinion.

They camp out in a cafe across the street and sit at a table by the window. Zitao knows the barista, and they get their first round of beverages free. Zitao orders a cup of hot Dragon Eye Oolong, steam curling out of the spout of the clay pot as he patiently waits for it to steep. It’s an interesting name for tea but Jongin doesn’t ask about it because he knows Zitao’s Korean isn’t good enough to properly explain and Jongin’s Mandarin is limited to hello and goodbye, so he lets Zitao sip happily while they watch.

Zitao orders an iced tea for him, something mild and green that doesn’t have an odd name, and Jongin fits the straw underneath his mask easily so he doesn’t have to take it off.

Before realizing the adept abilities of Changmin’s facial recognition software, there had been a few times when Jongin had sat down to eat at a restaurant or food stall and almost been caught because he’d shown his face. But now he knows better. Jongin and straws and take-out are all very well acquainted. Best friends, even. Like the sort you wish you didn’t have to know but are stuck with forever—or at least until Jongin doesn’t have to hide anymore.

“He doesn’t have an exact schedule,” Zitao says, “but he runs errands every afternoon before dinner. So we’ll see him at some point.”

It’s only after Zitao drinks his second pot of Dragon Eye Oolong that he kicks Jongin’s leg underneath the table and nods towards the hotel. Baekhyun’s walking out, shoulders hunched over underneath an expensive looking jacket though he has his hood up, face half-hidden in the shadow of the fabric. Jongin can imagine the sound of his expensive shoes clicking on the bricks as he ducks around the people streaming down the sidewalks.

“Don’t teleport,” Zitao says, already standing and dropping a few bills to the table.

“I’m not stupid.” People take notice of a person randomly appearing in front of them in a cloud of black smoke, and so do Changmin’s cameras. Jongin’s never been so heedless as to just teleport his way to something or someone, with no regard for the consequences, no matter how desperately he wants Baekhyun caught.

They tail him up the street for a mile, Jongin almost plowing straight into a police officer in his haste and getting his mask ripped off (which is also something that has happened before and also something that had very nearly ended with his blood all over the street).

Baekhyun turns right after another block and up a grand staircase of stone steps: “the City Hall,” Zitao whispers. It’s easy to get in, Jongin staring hard at the ground as they walk past guards, hand clenched onto Zitao’s jacket sleeve so he doesn’t walk into a pole. The floors are bamboo, the decor traditionally Chinese despite the exterior that looks like the former Library of Congress in America. Jongin had seen pictures of it before the war, and it’s clear that the resemblance is deliberate.

The phone in his pocket vibrates, and he pulls it out. Junmyeon.


“There’s a distinct possibility Changmin knows you’re not in England.”

Jongin freezes. “What?”

“Yifan was just talking to Lu Han. Apparently he told Yunho you were going after the crown jewels.”

“What does that have to do with anything?” Jongin glances back down the staircase nervously.

“What does—are you serious? Jongin, the crown jewels don’t exist anymore. Did you even take history? Catalyst of the third world war, remember? Someone stole them.”

Well, maybe he vaguely recalls laughing about it in the back of class somewhere in between blowing spitballs and blowing Sehun. Possibly. I mean, Jongin scoffs to himself, who could seriously think that stealing a few gems would have started the end of the world as people knew it? Maybe that’s why Changmin and Yunho are so hard on Jongin’s ass all the time.

“So what, they think Lu Han lied to them?”

“We don’t know. Just be prepared.”

“Alright. Thanks for the heads up.”

Leave it to Lu Han to forget to do his homework. Of course, they’d never really lied to Changmin and Yunho, only so they could keep up appearances, but still. Junmyeon will probably rip Jongin a new one once they get back and send him to history cram class, which admittedly, he deserves, especially if Lu Han’s cover is blown.

They speed walk through the building, searching desperately until one of the employees tells them he saw Baekhyun on the fifth floor in the records library. It’s under duress, as Zitao nearly breaks the man’s wrist first, and he probably shouldn’t have, seeing as it’ll most likely be reported, but as long as Jongin can get his hands on Baekhyun, he can teleport him out of here in the blink of an eye.

But of course it’s not that easy. Baekhyun doesn’t have Zitao’s grace, but he’s a good fighter and knows how to use his fists and smaller frame to his advantage, even when Jongin teleports to keeps him from running out of the records room door.

Zitao whacks Baekhyun in the stomach once, twice, and on the third hit, he crumples onto his knees, gasping for air. Zitao holds onto the collar of his shirt, forcing him to remain on the ground and out of sight as Jongin sits in front of him. He doesn’t hear any alarms or panicked voices, so he’s pretty sure the fight had been quick enough to go unheard.

“What do you want?” Baekhyun asks, once he’s regained his breath. He wipes the corner of his mouth like he expects there to be blood dripping from it; there isn’t.

“I don’t want anything. But Yifan would like to talk to you.” And possibly beat you up for giving us the slip all these years.

“I’m not interested in joining the Triad.”

“He’s not Triad.” Zitao frowns and tightens his hold on Baekhyun menacingly. Yifan’s sort of Triad, though, Jongin thinks. He certainly acts like it sometimes, though Jongin’s not going to tell Baekhyun that.

“What are you doing here?” Jongin asks instead. Teleporting will sap his strength a little, but he’s moved larger things longer distances and survived. Best to conserve a little energy, especially since he’s going to have to get both Zitao and Baekhyun out because they certainly can’t escort Baekhyun anywhere without raising eyebrows—and Jongin doesn’t want to handle the Light wielder by himself.

“That’s none of your damn business.”

Jongin reaches out and grasps Baekhyun’s wrist hard enough to bruise. He’s a little surprised at how thin it is, Baekhyun’s long fingers twitching underneath Jongin’s force. (They’re delicate, Jongin notices, and definitely prettier than his own hands.) “You will tell me or I will teleport us straight into Yifan’s office.” Yifan wouldn’t be pleased, especially if he had clients or was in a meeting, but desperate times call for desperate measures and Jongin isn’t going to let Baekhyun go. Not this time.

Baekhyun laughs, the sound derisive as his lips curl into a sneer. (They’re very nice lips, Jongin notices, maybe even nicer than Lu Han’s, and he’s kissed Lu Han a lot so Jongin knows. ) “What? Are you going to let me go if I tell you? Please, Jongin. Don’t make an idiot of yourself. Go ahead. Teleport me. I’ll just get out and come right back here.”

“Why?” Jongin insists. “What’s here that you need to find?”

“Honestly,” Baekhyun says, “you don’t know anything. It’s painful to watch. Do some research, Kai. Do you know anything about why you can teleport? Do you really think there’s only twelve of them? Fuck you for not knowing what you’re walking into. Just—fuck all of you. Do it right.”

“You could help us,” Jongin says. “You could just tell us.”

“I don’t work with incompetent people.”

“Uh, Jongin,” Zitao hisses, “problem. It’s Changmin.” A few choice curses in Mandarin follow.

Jongin lets go of Baekhyun’s wrist in alarm, whirling on his knees to peak out from behind a bookshelf. He can’t see anything but Changmin, gun in hand, standing halfway across the doorway into the room, poised for action. He doesn’t see Jongin, or else Jongin’s sure there’d be gunfire, but Changmin starts to edge across the threshold and there’s a rustle outside the door that means he’s not alone and he’s not the only one with a gun.

Shit, Jongin thinks.

“Fucking idiots, all of you,” Baekhyun groans. “Did you think to check if anyone was following you when you were following me?”

He’s too loud. The syllables ring in Jongin’s ear even as Changmin takes another three steps to point his gun at Jongin’s face. A hand grasps his, the fingers slight and smooth, and clearly Baekhyun likes the idea of being Changmin’s prisoner a whole lot less than he likes the idea of being Jongin’s. Tao wraps an arm around Jongin’s waist from behind, muscles solid from years of martial arts and living out of the streets.

But Changmin doesn’t give Jongin even a second to think about teleporting. Baekhyun’s fingers are torn out of Jongin’s, his cry painful even as the sound of a gunshot ricochets through the room. Jongin hadn’t realized how warm Baekhyun’s hand had been until it was gone.

“Kai—“ Changmin starts, gun leveling at Baekhyun again. He doesn’t know who Baekhyun is, or he certainly wouldn’t be shooting him, but Jongin knows they’re horribly outnumbered. Baekhyun’s face is screwed up tight, but he still manages to give Jongin a small nod. Go. “Don’t you dare teleport away,” Changmin says, “I will—“

Freezing cold grips him, Tao a deadweight that almost knocks him out before they’re in the middle of the safe house, dust whirling around them, black tendrils of smoke dissipating as Jongin exhales.

“They’re going to shoot him,” Zitao moans. He swears in Mandarin, rubbing his arms to push the chill of teleporting from him. Jongin’s used to it, though he understands the cold—it goes bone deep in a nanosecond.

“They’re not going to kill him,” Jongin says, mentally trying to assure himself of that as well. Where is his phone? He needs to call Junmyeon. “Changmin may not know that Baekhyun has the Light Stone, but he saw us trying to protect him. Changmin’ll keep him around if only to get me to come and rescue him.”

“Suicide,” Zitao says. It’s in Mandarin and Jongin only knows the word because of Lu Han.


But it’s Baekhyun, and they need him and if Jongin knows Junmyeon (which he does), rescuing him is now paramount to all else. Phone, phone, phone…oh right, it’s in his pocket. He dials the restaurant’s number after making sure the line is still secure, going through the front desk and the kitchen and then Kyungsoo before Junmyeon picks up on the other end. “What?”

“Changmin has Baekhyun.”

“Then why are you calling me?” Junmyeon asks, “Get him out. Now.”

part two