one permutation of a leverage au i keep thinking about lately.
they say the crew is being run by a maniac. because normal crews don’t operate this way, not even those that specialise in the long con. and certainly not in this strange robin hood manner – but then again, strange has always worked. after all, strange usually means no one will see it coming.
(how else did they manage to force not two, not three, but five whole CEOs out of top multinational companies, set the police on them and air three decades’ worth of dirty secrets to the public and leave them with no recourse?)
there are rumours.
they say the crew is seventeen people strong, maybe more. how else would they manage to pull off such elaborate cons?
they say their muscle is ten feet tall and made entirely of rage. that their thief stole the crown jewels of england and their conman fenced them right back to the english government.
(sometimes the truth is both wilder, and more boring than fiction.)
they become legends. the cautionary tale half whispered amongst corrupt politicians and dirty CEOs. play by the rules, or choi sooyoung and her crew will come get you.
the crooked men, they laugh and they employ their muscle, they strengthen their security details and counter measures, and they call it a day.
none of them ever see it coming.
after all, they expected an army to come kick the door down, so that’s exactly what they prepared for.
they don’t expect short women with charming smiles and a cute chin dimple in some pizza delivery overalls.
(and when she throws a man two heads taller than her over her shoulder and out the damn window, well.
the collective shit that hits their pants at the same time could amount to a brick.)
they don’t expect put together business women with gorgeous eyesmiles and an inviting grin, ready to hand them the world on a silver platter.
(no one notices quick fingers and missing wallets and keys when they’re too busy falling in love with her.)
maybe they should.
“this is jewel boat, calling goguma patrol one, come in goguma patrol one.”
seohyun frowns behind her computer screen, but doesn’t look up. “don’t call me that, unnie.”
“i’ll stop calling you that when you stop naming the vans after sweet potatoes.” tiffany laughs, shutting the front door of the apartment behind her quietly.
seohyun makes an indignant noise. “i originally worked-“
“out of a sweet potato delivery truck, yes i’ve heard that story before,” tiffany says, shucking her coat by the door and tossing it carelessly onto the couch. seohyun makes another affronted sound at that, but continues typing.
it’s another two minutes of quiet apartment and high-speed keyboard clacking. time enough for tiffany to stick her head in the fridge, looking for a can of coke, before she asks. “where’s taeyeon?”
“sleeping.” seohyun answers.
seohyun looks up briefly at that. “yes.”
a pause. tiffany shuts the fridge. seohyun hears her pull the tab of her coke open and take a swig.
“that bad?” she finally asks.
seohyun doesn’t dignify that with an answer. after years of working together with this crew, with each other, tiffany should already know.
“they haven’t come out of sooyoung unnie’s room yet, so.”
seohyun can hear the face tiffany makes.
“well.” tiffany sets a bottle of sparkling lemonade on a rubber coaster at the corner of her desk, and a small bag of marshmallow lemon sweets next to it. “when you’re done erasing our tracks, you should come join us.”
and when tiffany leaves, seohyun feels it only in the absence of presence, rather than a cessation of noise. she reaches out for the bottle and takes a sip. it’s cold. she licks her lips and continues to hammer away at her keyboards.
tiffany steps into the room, and finds taeyeon exactly where seohyun said she’d be; asleep with both arms tightly folded under her armpits and her legs (with her boots still on) crossed.
and tiffany knows from experience, that taeyeon only sleeps like that when she’s in pain and the numb stillness is more comfortable than the strain of moving.
the blinds are half drawn, and the filtered bars of sunlight are orange from tinted windows, misaligned where it meets the edge of the bed and the floor. as always, the room is an organized mess, with a pile of clothes sitting on the floor, a messy drawer half opened and a work table kept spartan neat with a disassembled glock 18 (every single part aligned straight, relative to the edges of the desk) sitting on top.
tiffany leaves her half-finished coke on the dresser and crosses over to the bed. taeyeon jerks awake the moment she touches the laces of her steel toed boots.
“shh, it’s just me,” tiffany murmurs, and taeyeon makes a hoarse noise in answer. “go back to sleep, babe.”
taeyeon doesn’t go back to sleep. she watches quietly as tiffany removes her boots and socks, and then her own before tucking them unobtrusively away into a corner where neither of them will trip on, and gingerly scoots off the bed to flip open the covers.
tiffany stares at the bruised knuckles and bandages peeking out from under the sleeve of her oversized yellow hoodie and blinks.
“i’m okay,” taeyeon says, and her voice sounds exactly like sandpaper feels. she clears her throat. “i’m okay.”
tiffany exhales, the sound loud in the quiet of the room. “you so very nearly wasn’t.”
“but i am,” taeyeon says, sitting on the bed and carefully tucking her feet in under the covers. “i’ve been doing this for a long time, fany. this is nothing.”
tiffany grits her teeth because it’s not nothing. because she remembers how taeyeon hobbled out of that fight with her eye swollen and her face full of blood. she remembers the claustrophobic hallway and tiny, tiny taeyeon surrounded on both sides by men both bigger and heavier than her, all of them clutching weapons in their ham-sized fists.
she remembers having to run and leave her anyway, because they got made, and if anyone was supposed to bring up the rear and make sure no one would be able to touch them on escape, it would be the invincible captain short stack kim taeyeon. and honestly? fuck if she’s special forces blackwater alphabet soup, it doesn’t mean she has to like any of it.
tiffany folds her arms and settles into her most disapproving stance. “kim taeyeon, you got beat the hell up by a bunch of goons and then run over by a car on top of that. i had to watch you peel yourself off the tarmac, all bloodied and shit, so-”
“it’s not the first time i’ve been run over or beat up, and i doubt it’ll be the last. so please, will you just let me enjoy being alive with you,” taeyeon snaps, slapping the covers in frustration. and for a startling moment, she becomes a taeyeon tiffany doesn’t know. she becomes the what-if that tiffany wonders about all the time; the tiny country girl that never left town, that didn’t pledge her life to the military only to be betrayed in turn. tiffany blinks, and the taeyeon she’ll never know disappears.
tiffany scowls at taeyeon’s stupid tired eyes and her stupid tired face and the stupid bandages peeking out from the mouth of her hoodie and marches over to slide herself under the covers.
“thank you,” taeyeon says, lying back down.
“shut up,” tiffany shoots back after settling on her side, annoyed at having her anger evaporated so quickly by taeyeon’s plaintive stare. “did you ice your hip, you grandma.”
taeyeon chuckles. “i did. juhyun helped.” and wraps her arms around tiffany’s waist, resting her forehead against a warm back.
“turn over?” she asks after a beat.
tiffany huffs and turns, immediately gathering taeyeon into her arms.
taeyeon slips her hands under tiffany’s sweater, idly strokes the warm skin on her back. “thank you.”
“shh, sleep. get better.” tiffany combs her fingers through taeyeon’s hair, watches the platinum strands fall through the gaps between her fingers. “we don’t know when sooyoung’s gonna pick up another poor lost soul for us to help out.”
taeyeon laughs, pressing her face into tiffany’s warmth. “you say it like that, but both you and i know that we all like that she runs the crew this way.”
tiffany clicks her tongue, suppresses the knee-jerk reaction to hit taeyeon in the shoulder. “don’t expose me.”
“does it count as exposing,” taeyeon mumbles sleepily, “if you know and i know that you know?”
“shhhh,” tiffany whispers and taeyeon lets the repetitive motion of tiffany stroking her hair lull her to sleep.
i keep thinking of aus and not writing KoN someone stop me.