Haneul bowed before the three males that accompanied Sehun, her eyes darting toward the man with cat-like eyes, then the tall one from hours ago—Chanyeol—and the third man who was much shorter. He was more like a boy than a man, his eyes twinkling and his smile wide.
“Annyeonghaseyo!” Baekhyun greeted cheerfully, not minding that his voice had slightly cracked during his greeting. “Wow… you really are pretty. My name’s Baekhyun, want to be friends?”
“You remember me, right?” Chanyeol showed off his dimples while he smiled. “I’m sorry I lied to you too… but really, I want you to be safe too. Sehun-ah may look scary but he’s very kind and loyal. When he takes care of someone, he is very gentle and loving.”
“I’m Kim Minseok, but you can call me Xiumin oppa,” the eldest of the four males walked toward her, chuckling a bit before patting her head. “You must have been very lonely here… Sehun-ah,” he scolded the youngest gently, looking over his shoulder. “You should have stayed here with her… we could have handled FT. It’s not right to leave a girl alone at home…”
Even though he was right, Sehun knew she wouldn’t want to be in the same room with him if they were alone. It only made his heart shatter again, but he managed to push away the unpleasant feelings in his chest and speak toward the girl, “I’m sorry this is so sudden… I thought maybe having some more people to talk to could make you feel less scared.”
He was right. She wasn’t feeling very afraid right now. Even though he tricked her, Chanyeol was smiling at her, Baekhyun was buzzing with excitement, eager to talk to her, and Xiumin was very affectionate. Haneul remained silent, and the eldest gestured first her to go toward the living room.
“Why don’t you make yourself comfortable? Standing isn’t good,” he spoke gently.
“Right! Come this way into the living room, Haneul!” Baekhyun said still holding his smile. He loved that he potentially had a new friend, but she just needed to warm up to him first.
Sehun stepped out of the way so she could follow after Baekhyun and Xiumin. He figured if she could get accustomed to his friends, maybe that would be enough to convince her to finally look at him and trust him. Chanyeol sat down across from the three of them with Sehun beside him, looking over the girl again. She sat with her eyes on the coffee table, her hands in her lap and her body was only a little stiff. Vivi leaped onto the couch and sat on Sehun’s lap silently, his fingers absentmindedly stroking his fur.
“So, how old are you?” Xiumin asked her, hoping to ease the tension by asking her personal questions, wondering what her interests were.
“Twenty-two,” she answered once she faced him. “I was born in ninety-eight, but I was able to go to school with the kids that were born in ninety-seven.”
“Ah, so cool! You must be so smart!” Baekhyun cooed from his spot. “What did you study while in undergrad?” He sat forward, resting his chin in his hands.
“I studied music. I only graduated recently,” Haneul replied. “I love to sing and play the piano. I was thinking of becoming an artist but things didn’t go as planned. Instead, I sing at The Magic Shop. My friend owns that club.” Xiumin looks very handsome, she thought as he watched her with intent. And Baekhyun… kind of reminds me of Taehyung. Chanyeol looks like a restless puppy…
“Musically gifted huh?” Xiumin chuckled, jerking a thumb toward the tall, dimpled male across from them, “Chanyeol is musically gifted too. He can play drums, piano, and guitar.”
“Yeah, I taught myself, but I can’t read music,” he laughed sheepishly, rubbing the back of his neck. “I’m sure you can though. Maybe you can teach me next time!”
Sehun smiled slightly, happy that she was warming up to them. Having his older brothers come along turned out to be a good idea after all. She just needed someone to socialize with to feel more comfortable. “Perhaps you’d consider playing for us one day?” He asked, finally joining in on the conversation. He looked at her curiously, the cold look from earlier in the night completely gone. He was fascinated that in such a short time, he’d learned so much more about her. He’d have to repay his friends later.
“That’s a great idea, Sehun-ah!” Baekhyun agreed. “Sehun loves music as well. He usually does dance routines and choreography work for songs he really likes.” He said to the brunette, who heard the hitman’s question, glancing his way, but the moment she saw his face, she averted her gaze, her knuckles going white and her body tense.
“H-Hey,” Xiumin began, hoping to cut the tension that filled the air. “it’s okay,” he held her arm, smiling at her in assurance. “No one is here to hurt you. Sehun is a good guy. Go on, take a look at him. You’ll find he looks like a little boy more than a man.”
“Minseok hyung is right,” Chanyeol said. “In time, he’ll be running after you like a baby chick just to get your attention. He’s got a very cute face!”
“Just one itty bitty look?” Baekhyun tried as well along with the others. “He really is a sweet guy. I mean he has a fluffy white cloud for a dog!”
“Haneul…” Sehun called out softly to her. He was beginning to feel sad knowing that she still couldn’t look at him even after bonding with the others. His brows furrowed slightly, his eyes becoming narrow, and he didn’t know how else to help her feel safe around him.
Haneul listened to their pleas, unsure if she could fulfill what they asked of her. After what happened in the alleyway days prior, all she could see was that cold glance. She wanted to hide, disappear so she wouldn’t have to be afraid, but at the same time, she knew she couldn’t stay like this forever. She would have to face him eventually. Maybe one look didn’t mean he would kill her.
She slowly looking up, and she was met with Sehun’s face. His eyes were dark but shone like stars, and his hair was black as night. His skin was pale, his nose tall and his lips thin, his features mature and chiseled, and his expression not so cold or murderous. In fact, he looked… normal. He didn’t look as scary as she thought he was.
Sehun smiled a little more now that she had finally looked at him. She’d gone as far as to look him in the eye. Knowing this made some of the weight on his shoulders lift.
“That’s better, isn’t it?” Xiumin smiled between the two of them, content that she mustered up the courage to look at him. “She’s much prettier when she looks at you, huh Sehun?”
“I agree with Minseok hyung, she does,” Chanyeol have a single, firm nod, sitting back against the couch.
“There’s still one thing missing though,” Baekhyun squinted his eyes, looking over the girl’s face with a hum. “It’s the most important thing of all!”
“Smile!” The eldest male sang to her. “A pretty girl like you has got to have a pretty smile.”
For a moment, Haneul wondered if she was capable of truly smiling again. After everything she had been through, she thought she couldn’t smile anymore. However, these men thought she was capable of it, so she decided to humor them. Her lips tugged gently, and she smiled at Sehun, feeling her own heavy burden being lifted off her shoulders.
The raven-haired hitman couldn’t help but stare at her now. He thought she was beautiful before, but now he was sure of it. It was like looking back at all the old photos from her house on the day of her grandmother’s funeral. Her smile was beautiful in the photos, but in person, it was absolutely gorgeous. He was able to witness it now, and he hoped she would do so more often. “I like it when you smile. You look prettier.”
“And here I thought I had the cutest smile. Looks like I’ve been beaten, so I give the title over to you!” Baekhyun clapped his hands together, and they all broke into laughter.
Sehun listened to her break into giggles, and he found the very sound to be cute like soft bells chiming. Just listening to her laugh made his heart skip a beat, and one single thought crossed his mind at that moment. She’s happy.
Hours later, after the three of them left, Haneul gave them one last bow before watching them leave, and she was alone in the apartment again with Sehun and Vivi. This time, she didn’t run into her room and hide. She decided to stay out, her gaze trained on Sehun’s back.
“Did you enjoy meeting them?” Sehun asked, facing her after he closed the door and locked it. “Sorry if they were a bit overwhelming. They can be a handful. And don’t even get me started when Minseok hyung, Baekhyun hyung, and Jongdae hyung are together.”
“It’s fine… I enjoyed meeting them,” she said, looking up at him again. The more she looked at him, the more she realized how sweet he looked. Right now, she noticed how his eyes turned into crescents when he smiled. It was as if he was a completely different person. She felt guilty for not looking at him before and even thinking that he would try to kill her.
He looked her over once more now that she was looking at him without cowering away. Her petite frame stood elegantly in a very proper manner, her healthy, long brown hair tumbled down her shoulders and back, shining in the light, and her beautiful eyes were like sweet chocolates, shining brightly with a lively innocence. Sehun cleared his throat and looked away, hoping to not scare her again with his excessive staring. “You must be tired. Why don’t you get some sleep. I still have some work to do so I’ll be up a little longer.”
“Alright,” she nodded, clasping her hands in front of her. “And… you make sure to get some sleep too,” she proceeded to walk toward her room before coming to a stop, turning to face him once more. “Also… if you’d like, you can call me Neullie…”
“Neullie…” He tried out her nickname, which rolled off his tongue effortlessly, sounding rather pleasant. It was endearing, just like her, and he liked it. “Alright… Good night, Neullie.”
She bowed once more and walked into her room, closing the door behind her, leaving Sehun to be the only one left in the middle of the living room. Vivi walked up to him, standing beside his feet and the raven-haired male glanced at his office. “Come, Vivi…” he mumbled, and the white Bichon followed.
Once he entered his office, Sehun took a seat at his desk, leaning back against the leather rolling chair with a heavy sigh as he recalled the events that transpired today. He realized this wasn’t some weird dream. He wasn’t living alone anymore. There was a girl four years younger than him staying in the other bedroom, she was the last surviving member of a powerful syndicate she knew nothing about, and he was going to protect her from this day forward.
How will this work…? He thought. He only ever lived with Suho and his family and that was when he was growing up in the Kim estate after they adopted him. As far as he was concerned, Sehun didn’t know how to cook or do simple menial chores because the housekeeping staff always handled it. He didn’t want Haneul to handle it all but it seemed she would either way. Though having a woman’s touch would benefit his life—which wasn’t a sexist mindset, not in the slightest—he would have to find some way to make up for his irresponsibilities.
You are such an idiot, he mentally kicked himself. Living off of ramyeon and steamed rice… she’s not a prisoner. You have to make her feel at home, Oh Sehun.
In her new bedroom, Haneul was laying between the sheets again, the comforter pulled up to her chin as she tried to sleep. She too was thinking about the day’s events. Yesterday, she was living in the storage room of The Magic Shop before she was almost assaulted, and now, she was living in an expensive penthouse with a gorgeous man who happened to be an enforcer in the mob.
Guess I’ve been reading too many books, she thought as she hid under the covers. This isn’t some stupid Beauty and the Beast scenario… he’s just an intimidating guy who works for a powerful family. And you’re a girl… who is living… with him… She groaned and burrowed deeper within the comforter. Crap… it is that kind of scenario…
Well into the night, after mulling over every little thing about each other and how they were going to live together, the two of them eventually came to the same thought.
At least we didn’t run into a pack of wolves.