It was odd, Woo Bin thought, that for the first time in years that the F4 was complete, they weren't out and about, wildly - and expensively - celebrating their grand reunion.
No, they were in his hospital room, all looking different shades of gloomy - which was quite a sight and partly his fault.
"Well," he said, just to break the awkward atmosphere, "if I had known earlier that me getting-"
"-you make a joke about you getting shot, I'm gonna break your jaw," Jun Pyo snapped at him.
Woo Bin shut his mouth immediately.
"Jun Pyo," Ji Hoo quietly scolded.
"What? He was being stupid!"
"I'm with Jun Pyo on this one," Yi Jung told Ji Hoo. "Woo Bin was acting like an idiot."
Woo Bin glanced at him, pretending to be hurt. "Bro. I'm right here, you know. Haven't we already made up?"
Yi Jung reached over to push Woo Bin's head backward. "Don't push your luck. I'm just waiting for you to get back on your feet so I can hit you properly, you ass."
"With your soft potter hands?" Woo Bin scoffed, only half-joking. "Don't worry. I'm not gonna make you wait that long."
"Good," Yi Jung said, crossing his arms. "Better rest up, because you'll be needing your strength then."
"Well you should-"
"-wait." Jun Pyo stepped closer to point at him, then at Yi Jung. "You two were fighting?"
Woo Bin and Yi Jung exchanged alarmed glances. "Um-"
"That's not important," Ji Hoo said smoothly, patting Jun Pyo's shoulder - and Woo Bin could kiss him right then and there for distracting Jun Pyo yet again. "That's not at all why we're here today - is it?"
Yi Jung sat at the edge of the bed and said, "How could we forget? The reminder's right there." He jerked a thumb Woo Bin's way.
"Then let's talk about it," Ji Hoo said, turning to Woo Bin - as if giving him the chance to speak.
"Old Man Park? Really?" Jun Pyo asked loudly before looking at Woo Bin. "That old man's so old he can't even read any contracts without a magnifying glass and someone to hold it for him. You mean to say he's the one behind all of this?"
Trust Go Jun Pyo to be so rich yet so innocent about the ways of the underworld.
Then again, all his friends were.
"What, you think it's hard to order a hit on someone?" Woo Bin asked him pointedly. "Anyone can do it - for as long as they have the money and they know where to look for a..." He searched for a term to use, settled with, "service provider."
"You mean assassin, don't you?" Jun Pyo asked.
"Yes, but I didn't want to offend your delicate corporate ears." Woo Bin grinned at him. "That's how much I care for you, Bro. Also, bro-tip - no one uses that term outside of movies."
"Ass." The Shinhwa heir pulled at his mouth and turned away.
"But it's odd, isn't it?" Ji Hoo noted, looking up from the floor. "I doubt anyone would accept the job if they know they'll be dealing with you - the Mafia Prince himself."
Woo Bin shrugged. "Apparently the man hired for the job was pretty new to these parts. He's not yet affiliated with any syndicate we know of - a freelancer, imagine that. Besides-" He paused, seemingly unsure of how to say the next part, "even if he knew about me or my family, I doubt he'd make the connection right away because the hit... wasn't meant for me."
From his position, he could see Yi Jung's back straighten - and knew that his friend understood the implication.
Ji Hoo, too, seemed to get it, as he glanced at him in alarm, then at Yi Jung - and back again.
Meanwhile Jun Pyo looked around his friends - as though taking note of the change in all their demeanor - before inquiring innocently, "So? Who was supposed to-"
At the same time Ji Hoo said, "You mean the hit man was there for-"
"-Ga Eul?" Yi Jung asked softly, turning to look at Woo Bin.
"Jan Di's friend?" Jun Pyo asked Ji Hoo, who merely nodded at him.
Woo Bin exhaled slowly. "That's what my father told me. Apparently that's what the man confessed to, when he was... asked."
He held his breath, half-hoping they wouldn't ask what that entailed.
Thankfully they didn't because at that moment the Shinhwa heir demanded from Ji Hoo, "But what does Jan Di's friend have to do with anything?" Then, as if coming into a horrible conclusion all on his own Jun Pyo continued, "Does-does this mean Jan Di's also in trouble? Because if she is-"
"Relax," Woo Bin told him, trying very hard not to roll his eyes. "Rest assured that your Jan Di's not at all involved in this."
"How would you know that?" Jun Pyo asked, halfway to incensed already - as he often was whenever his girlfriend became involved.
At that point Ji Hoo turned to the Shinhwa heir. Ever the voice of reason he said, "Let's calm down and focus on one thing at a time,all right?"
"How can I be calm when-"
"Woo Bin," Yi Jung said softly - though there was a steeliness to his expression that wasn't there before. "I think you should tell us everything you know. Why is Ga Eul being targeted by the Parks?"
"I was getting there before Jun Pyo got all melodramatic!" Woo Bin said, all the while glaring at Jun Pyo. "It's his fault we're getting sidetracked, not mine."
Ji Hoo had to restrain Jun Pyo at that point.
But it seemed that Woo Bin was not the only one who'd had enough.
"If you don't want to listen," Yi Jung snapped at Jun Pyo, "maybe you should just go. Some of us actually care for people other than Geum Jan Di."
Suitably chastised - and partly because Yi Jung rarely ever got mad at him - Jun Pyo merely grunted, straightened his jacket, and turned towards the window - but made no move to depart.
Only after making sure that Jun Pyo was not making any move did Ji Hoo prompt Woo Bin with, "Well?"
He grimaced. "The only connection I can think of between Ga Eul and the Parks is the daughter, Park Yo Na. She's Ga Eul's classmate at Jun Pyo's university." He paused. "She... also happened to be her tormentor, too."
They all were quiet a bit after that.
"I'd imagine Ga Eul would want to do her studying quietly - not ruffle feathers like Geum Jan Di did," Yi Jung wondered out loud. "So why would someone like Park Yo Na target her specifically?"
"I never-" Woo Bin frowned, pondering over his friend's words. "I- I don't think I ever really asked Ga Eul about it."
The one time he did, her answer had been that she could handle it herself.
He probably should have dug deeper.
Looking at Yi Jung's face, Woo Bin had no doubt he thought of the same thing.
"Should there be a reason?" Ji Hoo asked, out of the blue.
"What do you mean?" Yi Jung asked, his brows drawn together. "This is Ga Eul we're talking about-"
Ji Hoo shoved his hands in his pockets and sagely added, "Did we ever really need a reason to pick on someone if we wanted to, back then?"
That made Yi Jung shut his mouth, and for Woo Bin to feel like... shit.
Well shittier, at this rate.
"Jun Pyo," Ji Hoo said over his shoulder. "Since Ga Eul and the Park's daughter are both studying at your school, you think you can find out more about the two of them from the school staff?"
"Oh, so now you guys need me?" Jun Pyo said snippily.
Yi Jung glanced at Woo Bin, who merely sighed.
Looked like it was up to him to be the peacemaker, this time.
"Bro," he said. "Look, I'm sorry if I- we-" he amended quickly, with a meaningful look thrown at Yi Jung's way, "disregarded your concern about Jan Di so quickly, okay? It's just that... how you feel about her safety is what I- we- feel about Chu Ga Eul's."
"So?" Jun Pyo asked, crossing his arms and facing them now.
"So - please please please help us?" Woo Bin said beseechingly. "I'll go down to my knees right this instant to pay homage to you, if you want. Except you'd have to help me get to my feet. And down to my knees. And up again, right after. And probably-"
"Aish! Shut up, all right? Fine, I'll handle it." The Shinhwa heir exhaled noisily before retrieving his phone from his pocket and stepping away from them - presumably to bark some commands to his overstressed staff.
"Then what?" Yi Jung asked, his eyes still on Jun Pyo. When he didn't get an answer, he turned to Woo Bin and said, "What comes after knowing why the Parks ordered to have her- to hurt her?"
Ji Hoo placed his hands on the side railings of Woo Bin's bed. "I'd imagine some sort of revenge is in order."
Oddly enough Woo Bin chuckled at that - even as he tried his damnedest to keep his rage reined in.
"My father," he said quietly, "wanted all of the Parks-"
-dead, he'd almost said.
Except he decided to spare them from him using that word casually. "-eliminated."
Ji Hoo turned away at that - and Woo Bin couldn't blame him.
"Woo Bin-" Yi Jung said, almost sounding distressed.
"It would be very easy for him to order it too," he added, purposely not looking at his friends in the eye. "We have contacts everywhere, of course. There's no place for any of their family members - even the distant ones, the young ones - to hide. 'A just retribution to what befell you,' he'd said." Woo Bin exhaled slowly. "Of course, I told him that that was too much."
What he didn't tell them was that a part of him almost said yes, when his father brought it up.
For almost causing Chu Ga Eul harm, for almost hurting her, for almost taking her away from him-
He pulled at his mouth and said, "I told him since I was the one who got hurt, I'll be the one to decide on what to do to the Parks next."
At the point Jun Pyo rejoined them. "I told them to make me a report. I'll forward it to you as soon as it's available."
Woo Bin grinned at him. "Perfect timing as always, bro," he said. "See, for hurting me, this is what I want all of you to do to help me get back at the Parks-"
Afterwards, Yi Jung opted to be left behind, saying that he had something else to say to Woo Bin.
"What," Woo Bin told him, slightly wary soon as they were alone, "you want to hit me now or-"
His friend chuckled. "Not yet, no," Yi Jung responded. "Though there is something I want to check with you."
Trying hard not to appear defensive, Woo Bin kept himself from crossing his arms and said, "Shoot."
Yi Jung sat at the edge of his bed again. After taking his sweet time he finally asked, "How do you know Park Yo Na?"
"Me?" Woo Bin asked, taken aback at the question. "What does it-"
"I was just wondering," Yi Jung said, looking down at his feet. "There has got to be more to this than simply having Ga Eul be targeted just because." At this point he met Woo Bin's eyes. "Your family works with the Parks. This Park Yo Na presumably knows you through that. Then you and Ga Eul-"
"Are you seriously saying-"
"I'm saying you're something they both have in common," Yi Jung said. "If this woman wanted to hurt you - maybe she chose to do it through Ga Eul."
It was at the tip of his mouth to say impossible next.
...no. That was such a long, long shot he'd have to commend Yi Jung for the mental calisthenics he'd just performed to come up with it.
Yi Jung sighed. "The fact that you couldn't answer me straight away means that even you think there is some basis to what I just said."
Woo Bin shook his head. "It's not true, okay? I never- I only met Park Yo Na recently. I never dated her, I don't- I don't know her, bro. You have got to believe me."
His friend got to his feet, then patted his arm. "Rest up," Yi Jung said quietly. "I'll see you later."
Goddamnit, So Yi Jung, he'd thought, watching him leave.
As if Woo Bin could rest after that?
Notes: I hope you guys are doing well! Stay safe, darlings :)