72: Humpty Dumpty

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"How old were you?" you whisper in shock.

It's the only thing you can think to ask, your mind still reeling haphazardly from the events that Jungkook's just described to you.

You turn your face up to look at him, where he lays beside you. Throughout the story, his face has gone pale, with eyes that pool like splats of placid ink.

"I don't know. Ten or eleven, I think." Jungkook tilts his head back, and the shadows in the room coalesce to slither down his cheek. They intertwine with the cross tattooed on the crest of his face, so it looks real, and it's falling down the sloped line of him. "It's hard to remember. I've kind of...I dunno. Blocked it out, I guess."

Ten years old.

Thinking back to logic, it lines up perfectly.

That would make Taehyung and Jimin only twelve.

That's far older than you had originally expected. When Jimin told you all that Taehyung had been kidnapped as a child, you thought maybe as a five or six year old.

Twelve years old seems so much older, so much harsher - more time for Taehyung to love his parents before he lost them.

Old enough that Jungkook can't say in particular that he wasn't aware of what he was doing.

He was just young enough to be influenced, but just old enough to no longer be a child.

You're horrified.

"The little boy was Taehyung, then," you mumble. "And the couple were his parents. And the old man..."

"Your grandfather," Jungkook whispers back.

"But you didn't know who any of them were, since they were hooded." You furrow your brows, watching his face. "How did you figure it out? In the van, when we were going to rescue Taehyung, I remember seeing you realize. You went all pale and still, after Jimin told us how Taehyung was kidnapped.  How did you connect all the dots?"

You can still see his eyes in the dark of that van, shining widely as they looked at you, and as he uttered your name with a horror you can only now understand. 

"I didn't realized that it was Taehyung and his family," he says quietly. "In the van, it just sort of hit me all of the sudden - it was your grandfather that I shot that night. He was the old man."

The blunt words have an impact on you that you weren't expecting.

You cuddle closer to Jungkook so the shaking in you quells.

"The timing seemed to all match up," he says. "It was a coming-of-age-type thing  for me, and why would my father be satisfied with pulling random people off the streets? Instead, he took his rival's father-in-law: your grandfather. The head family of a small-time gang: Taehyung and his parents. People who were non-essential and easy to grab, but still meant something to someone important. Still got a message across."

You lay for a moment in silence, mulling over the information.

Finally , you say, "Your dad made a mistake, then, Jungkook. My father didn't care at all when we lost my grandfather. It was like a meaningless blip in the system."

It only hurt you and Jisoo. When your grandfather died, it took approximately three seconds for every other person you knew to mourn and forget him. He was an old man, a useless existence in a family hungry for power and prestige.

But for you and your cousin, your grandfather was a shining solace in a dismally lonely life.

"For Taehyung," Jungkook continues, "-it never even occurred to me that he could've been the same boy from then. I couldn't muster up the guts to kill him, but I didn't think my father would have let him live after that night.  That's why I couldn't believe what Boss Song was saying. Why did my father let Taehyung go? His parents were dead, my father proved his point...just why?"

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