Genre: Action, Romance, Spies/Hackers!AU
Summary: In that last heart shattering second, all that matters is who has stripped themselves entirely from the truth and plunged himself headfirst into a life of lies.
Warnings: Sex, Crossdressing, Gore, Violence, Graphic description, Dubcon
Oh Sehun’s public file on the government database is exceedingly clean, stripped to the bare necessities. It lists his basic information and displays a high quality picture of Sehun’s twenty year old self, all slicked back hair and ornery smirk.
His public file lists him as a computer technician.
But then again his public file also says he’s never committed a felony.
140723 Seoul, South Korea
“Go go GO!”
Sehun tucks the package under his arm and heeds Minseok’s warning. He sprints down the main floors of the marketplace, stretching his legs wide and far so that he can transcend his human abilities and fly. Running just might not cut it.
“Kid! Come back! We will call the police!”
Sehun grins and pivots sharply on his heel, rounding the corner and using his hand to push himself away from the wall. He can hear Minseok shrieking through his earpiece.
“Go, Sehun! Take the left stairwell. Now. Now. Now.”
Sehun shifts all of his weight to his left and slams his feet into the ground, propelling himself, torso first, into the door, shoving the metal open with his sheer weight.
He can feel the adrenaline pumping through his veins, rushing, unleashed through his bloodstream and in his brain. People associate adrenaline with panic and with last resorts.
Sehun thinks adrenaline is a defense mechanism.
The world doesn’t slow down like it does in the movies, it’s only an illusion, a trick of the mind. The adrenaline pumps the brain harder and faster than it has ever gone before. He drinks in his surroundings as he barrels down the stairwell. Metal railing and advertisements peeling from the walls race past his line of vision in a blur as he rushes past.
The key to adrenaline isn’t that it makes time slow down, but it makes the mind speed up. Neurons and electrical synapses fire at inhuman rates, trying desperately to keep the body alive and keep the person out of danger. What passes by as a blur, strangely still makes sense. Every frivolous bit of information is sucked up into Sehun’s vat of knowledge, left to brew, just in case it comes in handy. Anything and everything is saved for survival.
Sehun pushes past a man holding a newspaper, shoving him aside with his hand so he doesn’t collide into him head-on. The stranger frowns, downturned lips just barely covered by a scraggly white beard and eyes crinkling severely at the corners. The man looks surprisingly young for the amount of grey-white hairs on his face, but he topples over like any old man would as Sehun speeds past.
“Sorry old man!” Sehun shouts out, turning just slightly as his feet hit the ground to take him faster and faster. The man simply stares, staring before his reaction time catches up to him. Sehun faces forward again and runs down the hall, slamming into the front door and not pausing a second when he’s hit with the hot summer air.
Minseok is shrieking at him through his earpiece. The police have been called to the scene and he needs to get out of there. The boy running through the corridors of the top mall in the most expensive shopping district in Seoul needs to vanish into thin air.
Sehun makes a left at the end of the block and he can hear the police sirens blaring in the distance, quickly growing louder. He strips off his jacket and buttons the shirt that was hanging loose over his t-shirt. The jacket goes into the trash and the clip on tie that he had tucked into his hat goes on his collar. As he slows to a walk, he tucks his shirt into his trousers, revealing the ritzy belt his father had splurged on for his eighteenth birthday. He spins the trucker cap on his index finger and places it firmly on a young passerby’s head as he walks and the police cars round up to the bend.
He can hear the policeman slam the door of his car, his walkie talkie crackling and hissing.
“Young man with a jacket and a blue CA angels cap, about six feet tall. Looks like a high schooler,” The walkie talking squawks.
Sehun grins and walks away because the man they pull over is not him.
He flips open his cellphone and hits his number two on speed dial.
“Minseok I’ve got the codes, we’re in.”
140724 Seoul, South Korea
At twenty years old, Sehun is laughing in the face of the law.
The Seoul police have affectionately nicknamed him the enigma, the knave, the worst thing to hit the police force since 2011. They call him the hacker of the century, and they say it with a sneer.
Sehun lives in the outskirts of Gangdong-gu with his upperclassman roommate Kim Minseok. Minseok is a good kid, oldest of three from a respectable family. He double majors in Korean and Computer Science at Yonsei University and wants to become a diplomat. He’s the perfect son-in-law, if not a little on the short side.
But like most politicians, Minseok isn’t stupid. He knows that it isn’t all about helping others, and before he can help others he has to help himself. That’s where Sehun comes in.
Minseok tells people that he’s the one in charge, that he’s the brains of the operations. In a way he is, Sehun wouldn’t be doing anything without him. But Sehun considers Minseok to be less of the brains behind the machine. Sehun would say that Minseok is the funds.
Minseok has money, but with money comes mischief and it was he who found Sehun at 3 AM in an internet cafe by Songpa-gu.
It’s he who brought Sehun out for budae jigae and drank too much soju while laughing and saying, “Wouldn’t it be funny if we fucked with the very people we aspire to be?”
So that’s how they started The Project.
Minseok says he’s the brains, but everyone knows it’s Sehun who writes the code and draws out the plans. He’s the one who spends days and nights while Minseok is in class, drawing blueprints of the city, sketching out lines between every mall in the city. The lines of graphite are perfectly measured and cleanly lined along the pale blue pages.
The plan is to hack into every security system of every mall and market in Gangnam. Just Gangnam, because this is the first step. Jung-gu and Myeongdeong can wait. That would be the ultimate fuck you, and both of the boys know that true satisfaction takes patience.
They don’t actually do anything malicious, just mess with security by reprogramming the cameras in COEX mall, or blasting Gangnam Style loud over the speakers. It’s a good laugh, and it’s all in good fun.
Apparently the government has no sense of humor, because it’s all over the news and if anyone were to find out, Minseok and Sehun would become inmates one and two and nothing would be funny anymore.
That’s why Minseok talks through the headpiece and Sehun is the one who dons the jacket and jacks the passcodes. He doesn’t mind that he’s taking the brunt of the responsibility and all of the consequences if they get caught.
He doesn’t mind because he doesn’t really think about it and he’s good at it. The adrenaline is like a drug.
When he comes back with ddeokbokki in a styrofoam container, dangling by the handles of a flimsy plastic bag, he strips off his shoes and wonders why Minseok is just standing there, looking at him and biting his lip.
“Hyung, what’s up? Why are you looking at me like that?”
He steps out of the entrance to the apartment and shuffles closer pressing the soles of his feet to the cool wooden floor and walks closer. Minseok is still, shaking imperceptibly and breathing shallowly.
“Hyung, Hyung? Are you okay?”
There’s a click and Sehun freezes midstep.
Chrome metal is pressed to the back of Minseok’s neck and Sehun can’t fight bullets with styrofoam boxes of ddeokbeokki. He drops the bag and stretches his arms over his head.
The red pepper sauce spills out on the floor and Sehun is just happy it’s not blood.
140724 Seoul, South Korea
Sehun doesn’t remember, not clearly anyway. Every scene in his mind from the ddeokbokki on the floor to the cuffs to the police sirens are all collected in a series of disjoint snapshots. It’s like his mind can’t register anything and falls back on taking polaroid pictures that don’t show up, don’t make sense, until it’s too late to do anything at all.
The images, the poor excuses for memories, are high quality, every pixel cleaned and polished to a sparkle. Sehun can see every moment, every detail and he knows the scenes painted in his head won’t go away. But he remembers sights and not sounds. He remembers the man pushing Minseok to the ground, knocking him out, he remembers Minseok struggling to say something before he was pulled away. But he can’t hear it.
Perhaps the adrenaline failed him. Sehun’s snap decision judgment hasn’t failed him before. He’s always barreled on ahead because he’s never hit that wall and never pushed his limits. This is probably why, Sehun thinks as the man shoves him into a metal chair, when a mind breaks-- when his mind breaks-- it’s like losing a chunk of his life. He judges his position on his senses, and bases his emotions on his surroundings. If he’s been pushed so hard that those senses, those perceptions are stripped from him, he has nothing left.
But it comes back.
His senses come back to him in a rush. Silence seems strangely loud.
He’s sitting in a barren room. There’s a stainless steel table and two metal chairs that are faced towards each other on opposing ends of the table. It looks like one of those questioning rooms that Sehun sees on B rated crime shows when it’s half past midnight.
It’s cold, so Sehun draws in on himself, hunching his shoulders and tugging at the sleeves of his sweater to cover more surface area. It takes him a moment to realize that there’s a man in the chair across from him. It doesn’t register immediately.
The man has square, black-framed glasses and his hair tucked back into a black hair tie, as standard and unforgiving as the solid set of his jaw. He coughs and slides the paper clip off of a manila folder, flipping it open and paging through the stack of papers inside.
“Oh Sehun. You know why you’re here.” It’s not a question.
It occurs briefly to Sehun that he should lie, find a way to weasel out of this situation, but from what he can see of the pages the man is holding, they’re already one step ahead. Minseok probably messed up somewhere, leaked an IP address. Sehun always tells him that an IP address is like a password to someone’s life. Minseok never listened well anyway.
“Yes,” his voice comes out scratchy, like someone who hasn’t used his throat for a while. He coughs before speaking again, “I am Oh Sehun.”
“How old are you?” the man frowns.
“Turned twenty several months ago,” Sehun says robotically, peering at the papers in the man’s hands. Surely they contain such basic information. The man smiles at Sehun’s response.
Oh, Sehun realizes, it was a test. They want to test his honesty and that’s a good way to start. But there’s no use if he’s honest, would it get him a shorter sentence? What about Minseok?
“You don’t attend university?”
“Ah,” the man purses his lips and flips through a couple more pages, “Where did you learn to do this?”
“Taught myself,” Sehun shrugs, “The internet is pretty good at explaining things.”
The man gives Sehun a withering stare, but Sehun refuses to shrink under his gaze. One last attempt at defiance perhaps.
The man looks down and glances at his watch, shutting Sehun’s folder and clicking his tongue. He mumbles something that sounds like a complaint and stands up. Sehun starts to rise with him until the man waves his hand to tell him to sit back down.
“I didn’t make this decision,” the man peers at him through his dirty frames, “but I’m in no position of power here.”
“What decision?” Sehun asks. He can feel the adrenaline starting up through his veins. He tenses in his chair. He tenses further when the man just sighs, shakes his head, and leaves the room, leaving Sehun’s file behind.
Sehun waits as the door closes with a clack, drumming his fingers on the countertop. The tips of his fingers are sensitive because he slipped with the nail cutters and cut them all too short so they would be even. It feels strange against the cool metal.
It’s barely even a minute before another man, much more well dressed than the last, opens the door and makes his way to the seat across from Sehun.
His black tie is pressed firm against his clean white shirt, and if he were to hold still enough, he would blend right in with the steel chairs and concrete walls.
“Oh Sehun,” the man’s voice is surprisingly high, strange against his inky black hair and cold, sharp gaze.
“That would be me.”
The man squints at him before extending a warm, calloused hand, “My name is Huang Zitao. I’m from the EXO branch of the Korean Mission Force.”
“What’s that?” Sehun stops drumming his fingers on the tabletop and drops both of his hands into his lap.
Huang Zitao smiles, just barely, a small lift of his lips at the corners.
“You can find out later.”
Sehun looks at him suspiciously, but decides not to ask questions. He doesn’t want to pit his scrawny figure against the well-built frame that barely hides behind that pressed shirt.
“I am here because we have been watching your... Situation.”
“I wouldn’t call it a situation,” Sehun shrugs, “It was just--”
Huang Zitao raises an eyebrow and Sehun snaps his mouth shut.
“Regardless, our team of engineers has expressed great interest in your abilities.”
Huang Zitao takes in a calculated breath before frowning and saying, “Computer hackers. Our team of hackers.”
Sehun relaxes a bit at the word “hacker” and glances over the table as Huang Zitao shifts in his seat.
“So they’ve expressed interest in me?”
It sounds incredibly suspicious.
“Yes, and they have sent me to ask if you would like to join our forces.”
“Wait,” Sehun sits up, “I don’t know anything about your-- your company or whatever.”
Huang Zitao opens his mouth to correct him, but stops and slouches back, quieting to listen to what Sehun has to say.
“I don’t know anything about your branch, or what you do,” Sehun says, “Why should I join just because your engineers-- hackers-- whatever, think I should?”
Huang Zitao smirks, “Because the other option would be three years in jail.”
“Nice deal isn’t it?” Huang Zitao laughs at Sehun’s expression, “We’d pay you too.”
“Why do I feel like this is bribery?” Sehun mutters.
Huang Zitao just grins.
“How do I know you’re not a bunch of phonies?” Sehun wonders, “For all you guys know, I’m just a criminal? Why? You don’t even know anything about me?”
Huang Zitao stands up and places a single sheet of paper in front of him.
“Trust me, we already know everything about you.”
Sehun blinks at the paper. It’s blank.
“Sign on the dotted line,” Huang Zitao points to the bottom of the page, and sure enough, there’s a finely drawn line, barely discernable from the white paper.
“What am I signing?” Sehun asks, suspicious.
“To working with us and knocking you out of three years of sentence.”
“There’s nothing written on this page.” Sehun frowns, “This is illegal. You can’t hold me to this.”
“Rules are made to be bent,” Tao shrugs, “Besides, I don’t think you’re in a place to hide behind the law”
The two look watch each other out of the corners of their eyes.
“What if I don’t trust you?” Sehun slowly takes the pen that Huang Zitao offers him.
“I don’t see why you wouldn’t,” Huang Zitao smiles warmly, “I also don’t see why you would like to explore your other options.”
Sehun notices the gun strapped to Huang Zitao’s hip and quickly signs on the dotted line.
140728 Seoul, South Korea
He signs away his life in exchange for something completely new.
New starts on a Monday.
He’s greeted at the door by a tall, lean boy who looks to be on the verge of becoming a man. He greets Sehun with a warm hearted handshake that somehow evolves into a hearty backslap-hug hybrid that leaves Sehun shaking with the sheer force of the stranger’s vigor. The stranger introduces himself as Kai, just several months older than himself. He’s been working with the agency for three years now, part time while he’s in school.
“We,” Kai smiles, “Are the brains behind the operation.”
Sehun pads after him as he walks through rows and rows of heavy black boxes. Servers, all of them, storing information, that if infiltrated, could bring the country to pieces.
“The sleek suits and guns and stuff, that’s all bullshit. In this day and age we’re the reason they aren’t going under. Field agents? They’re just a bunch of apes who don’t have the brains to do anything but run and shoot.”
Sehun doesn’t protest, he just follows Kai and slouches deeper into his hoodie.
“You’re the newbie now, so that puts me a rung higher on the feeding chain,” Kai laughs. Sehun smiles in response.
“No one can bully me,” Sehun tells him dryly. Kai laughs.
“I don’t doubt it. They wouldn’t anyway, they’ll just baby you.”
“You’re the youngest too. Jesus you must be something special,” Kai slaps Sehun heartily on the back, “Our head-- the manager guy-- is like everybody’s mom. He brings in food sometimes too.”
“Is he the guy who recruited me?” Sehun asks. Kai’s smile falls and he turns away.
“No,” he says cautiously, then his tone flips and he’s back to being cheery and confident, “The head’s name is Kyungsoo. He recently got the position. We grew up together, so he doesn’t really baby me, but he’s gonna love you. I swear.”
Sehun squints at him.
“Man, you’re gonna love it here,” Kai laughs, “Here I’ll tell you a secret.” He leans in and stage whispers into Sehun’s ear, “I’m the one who bought Kyungsoo his first computer. But the bastard went ahead and sped ahead of me.” Kai grins toothily. Sehun decides that he likes Kai.
Kai opens the door from the server room and holds it ajar while motioning for Sehun to go through before him.
The room full of the best hackers in the country looks like a university computer room. The men there are young, none of them could possibly be over twenty-five. There’s one who’s hanging off the back of a chair and flopping around like a fish.
“Guys,” Kai coughs, “This is our new guy. Oh Sehun.”
The floppy fish guy lands on the floor and knocks over a stack of hard drives on the way down. They hit the ground with a crash. He collects himself from the ground and reaches over to shake Sehun’s hand.
“My name is Byun Baekhyun,” The guy is tiny. He looks like a teenager. The skinny jeans, leather jacket, and eyeliner don’t really help.
A big lanky guy swings his arm around Baekhyun’s neck and the smaller man screeches at the contact.
“Chanyeol get your arm the fuck off my neck!”
The bigger man laughs and wraps his his fingers around Baekhyun’s neck and squeezes. Baekhyun shrieks and collapses to the ground in a heap. The bigger guy takes the opportunity to face Sehun and wave.
“I’m Park Chanyeol,” He grins from ear to ear, “Baek is pretty sensitive in his neck area.”
“Don’t tell him that,” Baekhyun snaps.
Chanyeol ignores him, “Now you have that information at your disposal, you should spin around to meet our head.”
Sehun obeys and has to look down to see a small guy that he assumes is Kyungsoo.
“Welcome aboard!” Kyungsoo smiles, “Have a cookie!”
Sehun thinks this is a mighty unconventional workplace as he sinks his teeth into oatmeal raisin.
Kai glances up at him and pats his shoulder. Kyungsoo is glaring at Kai and shaking his head.
“One last thing,” Kai tells him, eyes glued on Kyungsoo’s murderous glare, “Once you’re in you can’t get out.”
“What do you mean?”
“You signed on the dotted line. You’re part of us now. You can’t quit.”
“We’ll kill you.”
The cookie feels dry in his mouth.
Sehun falls into place surprisingly naturally. Kai was right, the other hackers baby him like no other, and although Sehun would never admit it, he rather enjoys being taken care of.
He thinks, maybe, that he’s found his place, although by the strangest means.
He reports every day, right on the dot, and works diligently, in part out of fear and in part because he genuinely feels like he belongs. Nobody who works there is particularly normal. Baekhyun and Chanyeol are probably the closest, because they did actually go to university to learn the trade, but they also got themselves tied up in some sort of hacker chase in the midst of it. Baekhyun told Sehun that was how they met. Chanyeol had cut him off with an incredibly nauseating kiss on the cheek.
Kai started out as a gamer, and ended up designing his own during his free time. Somehow, that fell into simulations as he ached to go deeper and work harder, and before he knew it, he was hired, part-timing alongside finishing his major at university.
Kyungsoo only shows up in the office once a week, and even after a year of working alongside him, Sehun doesn’t know much about him. He knows that Kyungsoo trained as a field agent first, and he knows that Kyungsoo was a last minute replacement for the last head, but other than that, Kyungsoo is a closed book.
A year rushes by, and Sehun grows used to routine.