EPISODE 3: 100HOURS
word count: 5,130
A guy is lying down lazily on his side at the back of a taxi.
“Here you go sir,” the driver says when the cab stops in front of a building.
The guy who is wearing a black jacket sits up, takes a look at the meter and makes his payment. The driver hands him his change.
On his way up the apartment building, the guy sorts out his change to get the small piece of paper where small words are written.
Lie low. Do everything they expect from you.
SMO private jet enroute to USA.
“So? What do you think?”
After polishing and going over their mission plan, Luhan slides in the seat in front of Xiumin, uninvited and assuming as usual.
“About what? And why are you whispering?”
“About this mission. “ Luhan clears up, not dropping his voice reserved for conspiracy. “You don’t go around the world rounding up four unwilling scientist just for a lethal virus or memory modifying virus or whatever SERS really is. There’s more to this than what the higher-ups are letting, just like in Brussels. I’m suspicious about the involvement of these tech people. They’re here for a reason, I tell you.”
“They are here to negotiate with our subjects, my ass. To explain the progress in our lab and why we need their help? We can do that too -- if they only tell us what they’re doing in there. But nu uh they won’t. Isn’t that fishy enough?”
“Luhan you’re forgetting your level. You are not important enough to know everything.”
Luhan pauses to flash Xiumin his offended face. “What are you implying? That you are in the know now? You are a top level agent. Are you important enough to know everything? Are you?” He challenges then leans forward to look at the expression, or the lack thereof, in Xiumin’s face before smiling triumphantly. “You aren’t. You also don’t know.” Luhan is surprised first with the realization and then disbelieving. “The org has some nerve yeah---sending us into this operation while keeping us half in the dark of their real intention. What say you—let’s get at the bottom of this? Together?”
“Uhu,” Xiumin says again as unenthusiastic as the first one.
“Why are you being no fun today? Last time you were the one spewing theories about SERS. Come on, you are the one who got me into this. You awoken my curiosity and now I’m—“
“Go away Kai. Can’t you see the leaders are discussing?”
“I see no discussion. All I see is one bugging the other. I need something to clear with Xiumin,” Kai says the last part looking at the top agent.
“Wow can’t absorb instructions at one go?” Luhan asks just as Xiumin says, “Fine take a seat,” motioning to the seat Luhan is occupying.
Luhan gapes at Xiumin then turns to glare at Kai. “Fine, fine,” he says but not making a move to stand.
Bus stop. Early morning.
It’s raining softly – small raindrops pelting the skin like a feather-light kiss.
On the foreground stands a middle-aged woman in a maid’s uniform, bag slung over her shoulders.
One of those sitting on the waiting bench folds the newspaper she’s reading and stands. Her face is revealed, pretty and Asian but her long blonde hair makes her blend with the Amrican crowd all right.
“That’s a really nice bag,” the blonde says in a perfect imitation of Boston accent to the maid as she stands next to her.
“Oh-“the maid looks slightly surprised and confused if the pretty blonde girl is really talking to her. “Oh this bag? It’s from my boss. She gave it to me after—well—after getting tired of it. It’s one of those expensive brands.”
“I could tell. But you know what I hate about designer stuffs, all the attraction are outside – you look at the inside and it looks cheap. I mean I don’t only pay for the exterior right?”
“Oh? But not this bag though – the inside is also made of leather. Here look.” She opens the bag for the blonde who steps closer to see.
“Wow, you’re so organized,” the blonde says, using the newspaper she’s holding to open the bag wider.
“Yeah the bag has the compartment, divider thing.”
The blonde steps back to her original place, whistling impressed. “Well, that sure isn’t pretentious. Classy inside and out.”
The maid smiles at her clearly delighted at being talked to then e bus comes.
“Aren’t you getting in?” the maid asks when the blonde doesn’t move from her place.
“No I’m still waiting for someone.”
“All right,” she offers a last smile before ascending the bus.
The blonde waits for the bus to drive on before walking away and into a black van parked a short distance away.
“Nice one Krystal,” Chanyeol says as soon as the car door opens.
“Piece of chicken. I’ve made other people open the door to their house for me what more a simple bag?” Krystal says as she takes a seat beside Chanyeol inside the improvised control-room. There are video monitors in front of them and other gadgets at the back. Kai is behind the wheel and Xiumin on the front seat.
Unbeknownst to the maid, Krystal dropped a device from the folds of the newspaper inside her bag. A device that will deactivate security and alarm system within 500 meter radius of her boss’s house – the Scotfield residence.
New York Science Centre. Mid morning.
It is not so busy day unlike the days when high-school students take their educational trip and pile up to take every space and silence of the centre.
The second floor is arranged to accommodate a hundred participants – students, professionals, and everything in between in the field of medicine specifically in mental health – of the seminar about the effect of malnutrition in a new-found psychological disorder that affects children. There are also press covering the seminar. There is a huge screen in front that shows the statistics in Vitamin A deficiency of children that is being explained by a college professor looking man – he’s old but the intelligence flashing in his eyes defies old age. He is Dr. Vaughn Bouchard.
On the center lobby, a guy with huge eyes behind spectacles is apologizing at the lady behind the desk for being late.
“My name is Kevin Chua from the University of Adelaide. I’m here for Dr. Bouchard seminar.”
“Oh Mr. Chua,” the desk clerk says as she finds and hands out one of the remaining ID from the pile that says Chua, University of Adelaide, guest.
They guy accepts the ID with a smile. He goes up the stairs and into the seminar then mutters, “I’m in.”
“Kyungsoo’s in,” Luhan updates Jongdae who is hauling the real Chua inside a restroom stall, drugged and bounded at the wrist.
While Jongdae climbs out of the stall which he locked inside, Luhan asks, “Well, isn’t this so boring than expected? I hope Bouchard says no to whatever Kyungsoo will say so we can launch plan B.”
“If you quit just standing around while others do all the work then you won’t be so bored,” Jongdae grumbles after gracefully landing on the bathroom floor with a faint thud.
“If you’re good enough to be leader then you won’t be complaining.”
“If not for the trouble then you won’t be alive right now.”
“As if you can take me down let’s not for—“
He’s interrupted with a clicking coming from his disguised earpiece.
“Say that again soldier,” he throws the order to the wind as he presses on his silver pendant to activate his mic.
“I said I’m ready in here, just waiting for orders.” There’s a sarcastic air in Amber’s tone that suggests wow you is so competent that Luhan is able to, miraculously, ignore.
“Okay. Stay in your position Venus. I’ll keep you posted.”
He turns to Jongdae and says, “Let’s go Mercury,” with a smirk.
Jongdae hates that codename and Luhan couldn’t care less, at least his is Mars. The God of War.
“Good morning Dr. Scotfield.”
A deep voice greets and the doctor looks up to see a young tall boy standing at the doorway of her home office just as the call she’s making connects and a voice from the other line comes, “911 what’s your emergency?”
The tall guy raises his hand holding a gun and aims it at the doctor’s head. He smiles wide and sinister, revealing white set of teeth. It’s enough warning for the doctor to gently put the phone back to place.
“What do you want from me?”
“Negative on Bouchard.”
“Hell yeah!! I mean—too bad.”
“Venus, start Plan B. Take them away my girl.”
“But don’t call me your girl you jerk.”
The fire alarm blares at the whole centre just as thick black smoke starts crawling from the third floor. The participant from the recently concluded seminar, scrambled as one for the stairs. The camera of the press starts rolling again, this time documenting the emergency. Dr. Bouchard as well as other important scientists, and professors are being escorted by guards into a fire exit.
On the parking lot, Bouchard personal guards and driver are waiting. One guard receives a call informing them of the fire and to have the car ready. The guard leans down at the car driver to relay the message. When he looks away and while the driver starts the car, Luhan sits up unnoticed from the floor of the backseat and in a swift motion, drugs the driver into sleep.
The house is wide and the interior is simple, zen. The walls are cream collared and spotless, except for smatterings of blood.
“Please, please,” a maid is down on her knees begging for her life, two other house helpers lay around her - dead, painting the white kitchen tiles and walls red with their blood. Another lays dead on the living room, 2 security guard shot from the front door, bodies stashed in the pantry.
“Please,” she says again unable to hold herself any longer, she shrinks down almost kissing the cold floor, “please.”
It’s disgusting, the way she’s pleading, helpless and pathetic. At least the others have enough mind to defend their case, defend their right to live – please I have children, I’m the only one they have, please I won’t say anything. But this one’s vocabulary is reduced to one word and incoherent sobbing.
The pathetic ones are Xiumin’s least favourite – killing them is actually doing them a favour. He’d like to think at least he’ll be purging the world clean of those people. Ah yes – filth is something he associates with the pitiful. He likes clean.
His favourite are those that goes attacking his moral fiber – you have no shame killing an unarmed person like me, do you have no God? you can kill me now but my God promises me life after death---do you believe the same for yourself?, you are a monster, look at me! this face will haunt your conscience for as long as you live. Not going down without fighting – it’s a nice way to die. It doesn’t justify their existence but still---- unlike those who lose themselves and start begging at the last minute, they remain who they are till the end. There is something admirable in that.
“Please,” the maid whimpers, voiced muffled by the floor.
That word is really stretching its limits, Xiumin wants to kick the word out of her, along with her last breath but what he does instead is to step closer to her and offer her the gun.
The house-helper slowly looks up, body shaking and pupils wide with fear.
“Take it,” Xiumin mutters coldly, swaying the gun dangerously to her face.
Drop of confusion in an ocean of fear.
“Here. Save yourself. I don’t have another gun.”
“You—you—want me to---to---kill you?”
Xiumin wants to congratulate her for getting out the words but his curiosity wins him over.
“If it’s the only way to save yourself, won’t you?”
“I---I’m not—I’m not—a---murderer.”
The last part is barely audible just as if she mumbles against the wind. Xiumin can’t help but smile, some people do manages to surprise him.
The house-helper is taken aback by his expression and then she looks hopeful. Oh – Xiumin must be smiling his innocent smiles right now, the one he uses when trying to deceive, it rarely comes out uncalled for.
“You’re admirable,” he says looking the helper in the eyes then shooting her right in the head. (But not before he takes a safe step back of course, to avoid the blood.)
A clicking sound disrupts him then Chanyeol’s voice. “Hey, hey can you hear me? Is this working? Hel-“
“Yeah I can. Go on.”
“Hey. So---Scotfield said even if we kill her we’re not getting anything out of her.”
“Got it,” Xiumin walks out of the kitchen, choosing his steps so as to avoid the pools of blood. He presses on his silver pendant then says, “Uranus is unsuccessful. Where are you now?”
“Neptune and Saturn about 2 kilometres away from completing orbit,” comes Kai’s voice and even his smile travels through the wire along with Kyrstal’s voice and a small giggle and toddler’s blubbering.
“Okay, hurry up.”
“Why? You miss me?”
“Hurry up and shut up. That’s an order.”
“Ouch--copy that sir!“
When Dr. Bouchard gets into the safety of his car, he’s shooting orders rapidly into his secretary who’s typing the notes in her phone, “and then call Cherry, tell her to move out all my things from Imbleton and move them to—“
“Move them to where Sir? Sir?” the secretary looks up from the lack of answer and realizes that there’s a gun pointed at the doctor’s head.
The guy from the front seat holding the gun look at her with a smile, “We need to drop you off sweetie, sorry. Is down the block okay?”
The secretary froze in her set and when the car door on her side unlocks, she doesn’t wait for orders before she’s fumbling to open the door.
“Hey. Here. Take this with you.”
The guy in front says before planting a bullet at the secretary skull-
Dr. Scotfield’s legs threaten to give way at the sight of her daughter at the arms of a stranger, a young girl with long blonde hair and flanked with two other guys. She has been confident all this time at the safety of her daughter in her private kindergarten but that confidence is now all gone.
“Is that your Mama baby? Hi Mama!” the blonde is playing with her daughter easily and the doctor wants to cry at the comfort of her daughter round people who are most probably criminals.
One of the guys steps forward, he’s shorter than the others but it’s obvious he’s the one who calls the orders. He looks straight at the doctor with curious eyes, “So doctor—have you changed your mind yet? or---“ he trails off and starts to raise his gun at the general direction of the doctor’s little daughter--
“Leave my daughter alone. I’ll do whatever you want.”
The two teams rejoined with still too much adrenaline in their veins for everything going as planned. Probably still too much adrenaline, especially for Luhan who bounded straight to Xiumin, grabbed the front of his clothes and kissed him full on the mouth. Xiumin just brushed him away like he’s being normally annoying and gathers the team right then to start planning the phase 2 of their operation. He’s met with useless protests about having no time to celebrate yet, or to at least rest.
Since the phase 2 involves breaking someone out from a high-security prison, it would involve a lot of planning and Xiumin wants to use the time for the transport of two subjects back to Korea for this purpose. Everyone recovers from the strict treatment when the planning becomes interesting enough. Everyone, except Jongin.
“I didn’t like that. I didn’t like that at all,” Jongin says without preamble to Xiumin at one corner of the jet after their meeting.
Xiumin has been anticipating this but part of him still wishes Jongin is mature and casual enough to not make a big deal of the scene earlier.
“Okay look, that was nothing, just a joke, I’ve done—-we’ve done worse than kissing someone when operation requires it. That was nothing---just skin against skin.” Xiumin is whispering trying to get Jongin to follow suit. He knows the others won’t hear them clearly but the word kiss carrying down the aisle is enough suggestion to what kind of argument they’re having.
He’s relieved that Jongin at least also drops his voice, “Oh right so it’ll be fine if I kiss you now in front of them? We’ll tell them it just skin against skin.”
“Don’t be stupid.”
Wrong thing to say – Xiumin concludes through the way Jongin closes his eyes and inhales harshly, so he tries again. “I mean don’t be stupid you’ve got no reason to be jealous.”
“I’m--I’m--okay yeah that’s a stupid thing but it’s getting frustrating – having you around and not be able to--I don’t, I don't know how I did it all those years and---you keep on shutting me down.”
“You know I have to.”
“I know but---I just feel--kinda weird this days---I dunno like I’m missing something. I miss you I guess. It’s--I’ve never felt like this before--hiding us, it's starting to wear me down.”
Minseok sighs softly, envelops Jongin in his arms and presses his lips lightly against his. Jongin relaxes and melts into him, kisses him back.
"It's not hiding," Xiumin mutters, lips below Jongin's ears. "I just don't want to share you to the world-- keep you to myself."
Jongin cracks a small smile, his hand coming up around Xiumin's neck, head falling to his shoulder.
The jet is in a silent and sleepy lull but Xiumin is widely awake. All agents take a separate seat of their own to recline themselves into sleep except Jongdae and Chanyeol who seems to be playing something. Xiumin can hear the clinking of metal and occasional growl of frustration from Chanyeol and Jongdae’s mocking laughter.
Since he can’t sleep he goes over to investigate.
Chanyeol is trying (and failing) to solve a metal puzzle – a coil of silver metal twisted to form an octagonal maze where a small ring is trapped and should be moved along the coil of metal and out of the octagon. He apparently got it from Scotland’s office. Only Jongdae and Kyungsoo solved it yet. Jongdae after 24 minutes and Kyungsoo at record setting 3 minutes.
“Let me try it,” Xiumin asks, there’s something about the octagon that catches his eyes, and when he gets a hold of the puzzle, he’s surprised that it’s lighter than expected, surprised but---not really, something about it is familiar.
“Hold on, I’ll time you,” Jongdae says while setting his phone. “Ready? Okay go.”
And when he moves the ring along, it feels as automatic as writing his own name. Not Xiumin, Minseok – the name he chose to forget.
“Holy hell, 4.02 seconds?” Jongdae exclaims in disbelief while Xiumin fits the now freed ring into his left index finger.
“Whoa whoa, how you do that?” Chanyeol asks who had been intently following how Xiumin solved it, but it was too fast for him to catch.
Xiumin doesn’t answer right away. He’s feeling heaviness behind his eyelids that wasn’t sleep nor exhaustion.
Sliding the ring back into place, Xiumin turns to Chanyeol, “Figure it out yourself.”
Kai is now Seiichi Ade, standing at the counter of Shikoku National Bank. He shoots a gun into the air sending the other customers and employees screaming and cowering on the floor with their hands on their heads.
“The vault, open it.” he orders the woman behind the counter in perfect Japanese with the gun pointed at her head.
“I—I can’t. Only the branch manager can,” comes the shaking reply.
“So call your manager.”
“It’s lunchtime, he’s at Tokyo-Tokyo.”
“It’s a fast food—“
“I know what it is! I’m not here to play games!
The sound of police siren wails outside the bank, the clerk perks up upon hearing it.
“This is the police. Put your weapon down. You are completely surrounded!”
Kai turns to the police, slightly smiling but still holding his gun.
“I said put down your weapon,” repeats the police in front whose pointing his own gun at Kai.
Kai pulls out another gun, the police force stiffens ready to shoot, but Kai puts down both weapon.
Inside a courtroom.
It’s morning but the room has a gloom from the dark sky outside.
“Rarely in the case of armed robbery do we hear a plea of no contest. Are you sure about this, Mr. Ade? “The judge asks looking down at the defendant.
“I’m sure Your Honor.”
“All right,” the judge sits back comfortably in her chair. “Given your lack of prior criminal record I am inclined towards probation. However the fact that you discharged a deadly weapon during the commission of the crime suggests malice to me, for that reason I find it incumbent that you see the inside of a prison Mr. Ade. It says here that you’ve requested to be incarcerated somewhere near your home here in Kyoto. I’m willing to honor that. The closest level one facility-
Kai’s assigned counsel protests, “Level one! That’s maximum security, Your Honor.”
“I would ask counsel to refrain from interrupting me.” The judge says then looks back at Kai. “As I was saying, the closest level one facility would be Kyoto Penitentiary. As for the term of your sentence, I’m setting it at five years; you’ll be eligible for parole in half that time. Sentence to be carried out immediately.”
Kai closes his eyes, nodding approvingly.
Inside a cell block, new inmates are lined up walking to their assigned cell.
One of the prisoner inside his cell whistles at the guard nearby, “Hey officer, can I get some air conditioning up in here? Because that one is really smoking hot,” he points to one of the new prisoner. “Are you lost pretty boy? This ain’t runway.”
Kai resists the smirk threatening on his face at being singled out, he’s supposed to fly off the radar. They haven’t anticipated that being the hottest one among the inmates might bring unwanted attention to him, which could hinder the mission.
Kai sits down at dinner with someone he assumes is around his age and makes an easy acquaintance by offering his prison issued food that he has no plans of eating anyway.
“So, I’m lookin for someone,” he says after they’re done with casual introductions of what crime they’re in prison for, if they really did it or not, while busying himself with folding a red paper boat, “Matsunaga Soto.”
The guy who introduced himself as Fish snorts.
“You just got here but you looking for business already?”
“What do you mean?”
Fish looks at him suspiciously as if Kai is only playing fool, “We call him the Laundry Magnet here. He’s assigned to laundry tasks since forever and other guys especially young ones come in and out of the laundry with him and I’m telling you they’re not just washing clothes in there.”
It makes sense, Soto was jailed for 12 counts of sexual charges against young boys.
“So what do you want in return?” Fish asks.
“From Soto. You mean you want him purely for the lay? Come on. If you’re looking for just that, I think we agree I’m a better option.” Fish offers with a suggestive eyebrow.
“Uh-maybe next time. So tell me, how do I get myself in the laundry business?”
“I still can’t believe I missed the opportunity of robbing a national bank and getting jailed in maximum security prison and then breaking out of said prison,” Luhan complains while rolling over the couch inside a vacant warehouse that is temporarily turned into a their headquarter.
Chanyeol sits by his foot saying, “Well no one is stopping you from doing all that during your free time,” while attempting, still, to solve the metal puzzle.
“Just because he’s the one looking most Japanese—excuse me—the most he looks like is a duck-billed platypus,” Luhan says passionately against Kai who’s name he refuses to say and accidentally, or not, kicking Chanyeol in the face who swipes at him in retaliation. “And now we’re stuck here waiting.”
“Luhan will you quit whining,” Jongdae groans from a bean bag at the corner. “Some people are trying to sleep.”
Luhan turns quiet not because of Jongdae but his attention shifts to Xiumin typing on his laptop on the table, steaming coffee at hand.
“You aren’t really a fan of sleeping are you,” he asks Xiumin, surprising himself because he doesn’t even realize he’s approaching the top-agent until he’s sitting beside him.
He’s sure Xiumin hasn’t had a blink of sleep, to the flight to USA and back to Korea then here in Japan.
“Work,” Xiumin answers simply. “We should send the written report about the phase 1 of the operation. When do you plan to write yours?”
Luhan pouts at being reminded of the worst part of a leader’s job. “I’ll do it after I’m no longer pissed at anyone in my team and accidentally discrediting them in my report. I’m just being responsible.”
Xiumin just quirks his eyebrow slightly as a response. Yeah right – Luhan interprets.
They stay in silence, Luhan looks around the sleeping bodies around, Amber and Krystal curled together on the single bed, Jongdae in a corner, and Chanyeol on the couch who isn’t really sleeping but groaning frustrated at the metal puzzle. Kyungsoo is doing his shift - stationed down the creek.
With the dim lights, the warehouse looks more like an overhauled industrial apartment than a make-shift headquarters. It feels nice plus Kai isn’t here. There’s an upside to things after all.
He looks over at Xiumin, face illuminated by the laptop screen – exhaustion lines the under of his eyes. He isn't stupid, he knows something is going on, notices the look Kai and Xiumin gives each other. He could just ask Xiumin, nothing stops him of bugging Xiumin before. But there is the possibility that Luhan will not like his answer, if he would give one, an honest one. Luhan doesn't like being lied to, doesn't like being deceived - being blind.
“Stop staring at me.”
Luhan sits up straight. “I wasn’t. I was reading your report. Think I can take a look at it after? It will help me in writing mine.”
“Fine. Just go away.”
“Okay. Goodnight to you too.”
A red paper boat floats in a creek behind a warehouse. A lone figure is smoking in the darkness of the riverbank, he stands up and into the water after spotting what he’s been waiting for. Careful to step on big stones, to not wet himself, he picks up the boat and unfolds it.
The light of the full moon enough to see the figures drawn down the paper.
A triangle and the number 3.
A code which means Soto agreed to the conditions in exchange of breaking him out of prison and that the estimated time of escape is in three days.
Wufan's orders buzzed from his ear, sounding far away. Sehun lifts his head from the ground to see him scowling impatiently, his vision then turns blurry and he notices that blood is trickling from his nose.
"Come on kid, up!"
Sehun rises to his knees, wobbling. Laughter rings from his other side. Zitao and the other agents, Zitao looking smug for sending Sehun down to the ground after a single solid blow. It's almost cruel, these people had been trained since they were children, they can't expect Sehun to match up to anything.
He's back on his feet, his focus shaky. Zitao steps forward and Sehun instinctively steps back. Mocking laughter ensues again and Zitao smirks, "This ain't tango, pretty boy."
Zitao is all tall, long limbs, strong thighs, and swift movements. Sehun knows Zitao can break his neck with one hand if he wants to. This will be nothing but a ridiculously pathetic display of non-existent skills and the sooner Sehun accepts that, the less embarrassing this will be, and the sooner Wufan realizes that, the sooner this will be over.
When Zitao takes another step, Sehun holds his ground, holds it, holds it, even after he takes a hit, then another, and another, and another.
"Fight back kid!" Wufan yells from the sideline. "What the hell are you doing?"
Zitao circles him, and how Sehun would like to land even just one blow on that smug face. But Zitao's speed is superhuman, Sehun would just end up hitting the air again and tripping over his own feet.
One jab at his lower body and he's down on his knees, forehead colliding with the floor. The air is knocked out of him and he vaguely hears Zitao telling others, "at least he's a good punching bag."
He falls on his side then rolls on his back, wheezes, stares at the high ceiling of the training room, the metal rails.
Wufan's face comes to his view, his thick brows forming a line. He releases a breath.
"That's it for today. Go! Might want to make a detour to the clinic before dinner, kid."
“How was Sehun?”
Hangeng’s expression hardens, urging Wufan to give a proper report. Wufan sighs.
“I still think we should just tell him,” Wufan says. “You should see him, the kid isn’t even fighting back.”
“Well,” Hangeng clasps his fingers together and smiles a small satisfied smile. “That’s exactly what Trancedi expected.”
a/n: If you’re a fan of the series Prison break, this chapter and the following should sound familiar.