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a gaggle of sunfish bastards

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When a group of heros had infiltrated the villain's lair for a mission (Yoo Joonghyuk was not included as he was busy doing something else), there was a discovery made that nobody could've predicted. Lee Jihye had been the sharp one to spot the strange something—or rather someone—hiding in an empty bag of chips.

Yoo Joonghyuk, hero name Supreme King, was called into the labs of the hero organization, the scientist on the phone citing it was urgent that he come as soon as possible. When he takes the elevator down to the basement levels of the building, he's swarmed by a flock of excited scientists who are intrigued by their newest test subject.

It's him. Or, a mini‐version of him, to be exact. The tiny him is the size of a small plushie, though somehow suffering an even worst case of resting bitch face than the real one.

At the sight of the real Yoo Joonghyuk, the tiny man bangs his tiny fists against the plastic walls of the container. A look of rage overtakes his already moody disposition.

"You!" the small one snarls. "I'll kill you!"

Some of the scientists ooh and aah at the interaction, quickly marking down notes in their clipboards. The test subject looks as though he'd really act on their word if he were to be let loose into the world.

"It's amazing!" The lead scientist explains with a passionate gleam in her eyes. "It's an exact replica of you, everything down to even your physical strength! I mean, relative to the size of his body... It's really as if someone had shrank you and then cloned your exact likeness! It would be a dream come true if we knew how to do the same..."

This pisses off mini Yoo Joonghyuk even more, a murderous aura emanating from him.

"I wouldn't give my consent to such a project like this," Yoo Joonghyuk sighs, a tinge of disgust showing through the cracks of his stoic facade on his face. "Cloning is an ethics violation."

The lead scientist falters, her excitement deflating quickly at the hero's reaction. Embarrassed, she meekly says, "Ah, yes... You're right. My bad."

Yoo Joonghyuk is ushered by several workers to go meet with the president of the Hero Association, who debriefs him on his next mission.

"There's a GPS microchip located inside the clone's arm. We'll extract it and trace back the source's location. However, this won't be the usual mission. Me and the board have been discussing the merits of an infiltration operation."

Infiltration. There are certain heroes trained in that field, Yoo Joonghyuk is not one of them.

It requires a certain level of patience that the hero Supreme King isn't known for. He's always more about doing rather than waiting for the right opportunity; more of a man of actions, not words. His coworkers would agree with him that this isn't the mission for him.

"How? And for how long?"

The lead scientist from before comes through the door, holding up a prototyped gun. Ah. The shrink ray. Yoo Joonghyuk can already see where this is going.

His face hardens even more. The answer comes in the form of a steel, resolute tone. "No."

"Understand the gravity of the situation, Supreme King. A villain organization is attempting to clone you. Has succeeded in cloning you. Do you not see the pandemonium that could be unleashed if we had multiple Supreme Kings running around committing crimes under your name?"

That is true. Hero society would crumble, distrust sowed in the hearts of civilians. If they couldn't trust the face of the number one hero, who could they trust?

"The mission will take as long as you need. We'll prepare a way for you to unshrink yourself in case of emergencies. Rest assured, you won't be left entirely defenseless."

Yoo Joonghyuk still doesn't like it, but he has no choice but to comply. He's the only one who can infiltrate using his own face, after all.

"Fine," Yoo Joonghyuk grunts, though it's not as if he's been given much a choice.


Yoo Joonghyuk has to pass the captured clone in the labs one last time as he goes to meet with the lead scientist. It looks equally pissed off at Yoo Joonghyuk as before, but with a bit of a defeated look in his eyes. His sharp eyes glare at Yoo Joonghyuk.

"Just don't hurt him. Please," the clone says.

Yoo Joonghyuk isn't sure who "he" could be referring to. He pretends not to have heard the clone, but there's something haunting about the way that a man with his face pleading for another's life. Yoo Joonghyuk's never had to deal with that type of desperation, that powerlessness before. If, say, Yoo Mia was in danger, he'd simply be the one to save her. He's always the one who's most qualified to take action–whether it'd be saving people, defeating villains, or cooking for his sister.

For a theoretical perfect copy of him to wear such a resigned face, it bothers him.

He's given a special suit that'll grow and shrink according to his size, a miniscule pill that'll fit the pocket when he's in small form that will revert him to his original size, and the clone's GPS microchip implant in his right arm.

"Everything should be good to go," the lead scientist says. "Once you've been shrunken down, we'll have an agent escort you near the target location. Good luck, Supreme King."

To call the process of shrinking down uncomfortable would be an understatement. It's a slippery feeling of all the different parts of his body shortening, his surroundings appearing to be bigger and bigger from his point of view. Yoo Joonghyuk's tolerated worse in the past.

The world is disorienting from a bug's point of view. Although, he's not quite as small as a bug. Maybe a toy is a much more accurate comparison.

If Yoo Mia were here, she'd scream about how cute this form is and would most likely sentence him to an early death through suffocated hugging.

After becoming accustomed to the new size, a driver escorts him in a van to the facility where they traced the signal back to. He's not sure what to quite expect when he arrives there. Human experimentation is a given, the only question is the severity of human experimentation.

The agent salutes him before driving off. The premises include a simple unmarked building surrounded by barbed fencing, and a driveway containing an inconspicuous car, and a gate that remains closed. There's tiny watch-towers attached to the building, but nobody occupying them as far as Yoo Joonghyuk can see.

He finds a hole in the ground underneath the mesh fence that's barely just big enough to fit him. Yoo Joonghyuk sneaks into nearby bushes to hide himself, trying to decide the best method for breaking into the building where the scientist must live.

His thoughts are interrupted by the sounds of voices from just around the corner.

Children's voices.

"Ahjussi is too busy to come play with us again," a girl's voice says. "He hasn't gotten a single weekend off this entire month. Do grown-ups always have to work so much at their job?"

"It's because of those bastards," a young boy's voice chimes in. "I wish hyung would quit working for them already! All they ever do is take advantage of him. It's because he's a genius that they have to work him until he finally dies."

"How do we convince him to quit his job?"

"Maybe Biyoo can pull off the puppy eyes look. He's weak for that."

An undistinguishable high-pitched noise can be heard after the boy's proclamation. Yoo Joonghyuk squints his eyes and clears some of the leaves blocking his vision for a better view.

It's two children walking and... some type of white indistinguishable furry creature floating along the perimeters of the building. On the creature's back is another Yoo Joonghyuk clone, calmly supervising the children with crossed arms. He has an eyepatch over his left eye.

"You can try, but that fool will never listen to reason," the clone says. "Unless Supreme King himself appeared and ordered him to do so. Then, there might be an actual chance."

"Let's write Supreme King a letter!" the girl suggests. "Maybe he can visit ahjussi and make ahjussi happy!"

"That's a bad idea. Hyung's a villain, remember? He'll just get arrested and put in jail."

The Yoo Joonghyuk clone makes a face of visceral fury at the suggestion. It's not unlike the expression that the captured Yoo Joonghyuk clone back at the labs made.

Somehow, Yoo Joonghyuk is the most hated person among the Yoo Joonghyuk clones. Is it envy? Hatred for him living a real life? Or maybe his size?

"...If that hero dared to show his face at this location, he would not last more than five minutes," the clone scoffs.

Yoo Joonghyuk debates the merits of revealing himself to the unusual group. He would be taken to the source of the clones, but should he be recognized as the real Supreme King, there's no doubt that he'd be targeted by multiple clones and killed on sight. Theoretically, there should be nothing separating him from the other clones in terms of appearance.

"Do you think 41 is okay?" the girl asks, snapping Yoo Joonghyuk's attention back to the conversation. "He's been worried nonstop about him."

"He's worried for nothing. 41's one of the strongest kkomas out there, and he has a tough personality to boot. He'll find his way back eventually," the boy remarks.

41. That must be the clone they've captured.

Although, it seems as though clones were referred to as 'kkomas'. A fitting label considering the context.

The group's voices fade as they turn around the other corner, distancing further away from Yoo Joonghyuk as they walk away.

On close inspection, neither of the children seem to be test subjects nor is there any signs of abuse. They were wearing normal clothes, had no signs of restraints on them. A clo—kkoma had been watching them, but it seemed like more of a passive supervising, resembling more of a mere babysitter rather than a prison warden.

Yoo Joonghyuk files the information away in his brain. He jumps at the chance to do so more reconnaissance, wanting to familiarize himself with the outside layout in case he needed to make a quick escape later.

It's rather basic security for a supposed place where cloning experiments are going on. Yoo Joonghyuk finds it easy to slip through a hidden door that's clearly meant for any kkoma to come freely in and out. So, the kkomas of this place have a lot of freedom. It wouldn't be so hard to escape. It's even possible that the hole found earlier under the fence was made by a kkoma rather than an animal.

He enters to find a bustling house, not full of people but full of kkomas. Most of them are in groups working together to get tasks done that would be hard for a single man of kkoma stature to finish. Some are individually dusting the picture frames on shelves. Others are picking up the various objects strewn along the group and organizing them into bins. A group of kkomas piling on top of each other to use a vacuum cleaner pass by. Yoo Joonghyuk blinks.

Someone made clones of him to do housework. It's a laughable concept.

"999, I thought you were to look after the children. What are you doing here?" A kkoma asks, approaching him with an unpleased look in his eyes. "Did you leave them to wander off by themselves?"

"I'm not 999. I'm 41," Yoo Joonghyuk says without pause. Could the kkomas not differentiate each other?

The kkoma squints, taken aback by his clarification. Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't react, knowing there is no way in hell anybody should be able to tell that he's a fake. Hopefully.

The kkoma's shocked look morphs into one of disbelief. "If this is another pathetic attempt to attract Kim Dokja's attention, 1863 will force you into cubicle arrest for at least a week."

Kim Dokja. Is that the man everyone keeps mentioning?

"I am 41," Yoo Joonghyuk snarls.

"We'll see," the kkoma says with narrowed eyes, blunt suspicion laid out. "Go down to the main lab. He's been awaiting your return."

Yoo Joonghyuk explores the house, thankfully not stopped by any more kkomas after that one. The kkomas fill up every room of the living space, from the small group of kkomas sitting on the couch watching the news to the multitude working in the kitchen. A kkoma with a chef hat sits in the center of the kitchen, arms crossed and occasionally barking out orders when he sees any kkoma making even the tiniest of mistakes.

Mounted on the kitchen wall, there's a children's drawing displaying a chibified man's face (distinctly not anything like Yoo Joonghyuk) with the general prohibition symbol on top, all colored in crayon. A second sign is just below it, clearly written with an adult's handwriting, black marker reading 'Kim Dokja not allowed'.

Yoo Joonghyuk continues through the rooms, always full of kkomas fluttering in and out, especially in the hallways. He comes across the main hallway where a normal-sized elevator is situated at the very end. There is two lines of kkomas against the two walls of the hallway, all of them waiting to use the bite-sized elevators clearly built for the clones to use.

Yoo Joonghyuk waits in one of the lines, figuring that the main lab he's looking for is most likely on basement level, just like the one in Hero Headquarters. It takes about fifteen minutes before he finally boards, ushered in with a small group of kkomas.

"This one only goes up," Yoo Joonghyuk realizes aloud once he's inside.

The other kkomas in the elevator give him a weird look.

"119? Is that you? Did you confuse your left and right again?"

"Hmph. Well, it's already too late."

One of them just remains silent with an uncaring expression, back turned against the rest of them.

Yoo Joonghyuk never realized how annoying it would be to have to deal with himself. This is an enlightening experience, to say the least.

He rewaits in the correct line the second time around, another waste of fifteen minutes. He presses the button to go to the lowest level, which again initiates unwarranted commentary from the other kkomas in the elevator.

"Were you authorized to go bother Kim Dokja?"

"1863 will have your head if he sees you."

"Kim Dokja is currently busy. Unless it's urgent matters, kkomas are forbidden from visiting him during working hours."

If Yoo Joonghyuk could have his way, he'd throw all of these kkomas into a trash bin and shut the lid to muffle the sound of their voices.

"I'm 41," Yoo Joonghyuk explains, and that's the only explanation that they need to know.

"Again? I thought that fool 666 already attempted this sham."

"I'm the real 41," Yoo Joonghyuk snaps. The elevator could not descend any slower.

"If you say so." A voice of stark disbelief.

Eventually, the other kkomas leave the elevator and it's only him left in the enclosed space. The sole rider to the bottom level of the facility.

Ding!

The doors open to a metal cavern that could only be described as the stereotypical supervillain lair. There's several mechanical pieces scattered about the floor as well as a toolbox that had its contents spilled, creating a heap of tools that's just been left lying there for who knows how long.

There's a giant TV screen attached to the wall that's turned off and a few pods attached to the wall containing nothing but a growing green liquid. Nothing inside the pods. That's a good sign, Yoo Joonghyuk supposes.

"Who's there?" A kkoma's voice echoes against the spacious walls. His tone is bellowing, demanding. Unwelcoming.

"Now, now. 1863, there's no need for that tone." It's the voice of a man he's never heard before. Kim Dokja's voice.

Yoo Joonghyuk looks around for the man, who's voice sounds as though he's in the same room but the man is nowhere to be seen. "Where are you?"

"Over here."

Yoo Joonghyuk's attention is directed towards the mecha robot in the corner that makes a hissing noise, the latch opening to reveal a plain-looking man with a white coat and a kkoma on his shoulder, an ugly scar over his eye that differentiates him from the rest of kkomas.

"You should know. Visiting Kim Dokja during working hours without good reason will result in harsh punishment of the highest order," 1863 coolly says. He outwardly remains calm, but his eyes scream bloody murder at Yoo Joonghyuk.

"Hey, I already said it's fine," Kim Dokja swats at 1863.

"If you become too lenient on them, it sends out a message that rules can be broken with no repercussion."

"A break right now would be good anyways," Kim Dokja sighs. "The other kkomas aren't as undisciplined as you think."

"Because they only act obedient in front of you."

"We're neglecting our visitor because of you. We'll talk about this later," Kim Dokja says, focus shifting from his shoulder to Yoo Joonghyuk. He approaches the miniature top hero, cupping his hands together to create a makeshift platform.

Yoo Joonghyuk hops on, hanging onto the man's index finger as he's hoisted in the air. Kim Dokja carries him to a small shelf that contains a kkoma-sized chair, which he chooses not to sit on. It's from this level that he can converse to Kim Dokja eye-to-eye. A good touch to detail.

"What is it that you needed me for?" Kim Dokja asks.

He has bags underneath his eyes. His skin is pale, but not a milky pale that would make others envious of his glowing skin, but a pale that would warrant a visit to the doctor's office. The man's wrists are ungodly thin, like they could snap if Yoo Joonghyuk in kkoma form tried to bend them too hard.

"Erm..." Kim Dokja waves a hand in front of him. Yoo Joonghyuk blinks, having been carried away by his own thoughts.

"It's me. 41. I've returned."

1863 groans, rolling his eyes.

Kim Dokja, on the other hand, smiles with excitement sparking those dull eyes. It makes the man's plain face seem more distinguishable. "41! I thought you'd been captured by the heroes. Oh, I haven't been able to check your location all day today because of the upcoming deadline."

"This must be another trick," 1863 reasons. "How could 41 have returned on his own? All the way out here?"

"I hitched a ride," Yoo Joonghyuk says.

"I'm sure it really is 41, but I'll check just to reassure our local skeptic," Kim Dokja dryly states. He rolls up his lab coat sleeve to reveal a watch, which he navigates with a few taps of his fingers. "Show me your chip, 41."

Yoo Joonghyuk raises his right arm, the same arm that the scientists back at hero headquarters had extracted from 41. A light blue beam seeps out from the watch over the area. Kim Dokja shows the results to his shoulder companion.

Resigned, 1863 says, "I stand corrected. Welcome back, 41."

"I thought I was going to lose you," Kim Dokja says, eyes filled with relief. "C'mere."

Yoo Joonghyuk hadn't known what to expect from the mysterious entity known as Kim Dokja, but it certainly isn't the man in the white coat grabbing him with both hands and holding him up against his chest. Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't even hug Yoo Mia often, preferring other distanced expressions of endearment, but here is a stranger that holds him so sweetly in his arms like he's the most precious being in his universe.

"41, never do that again," Kim Dokja says. "If you had been killed or went missing permanently, I don't know what I would've done. All of you are so important to me."

On the side, 1863 whacks Kim Dokja lightly on the head. "You've been holding him for long enough. Don't give this pervert any more of your attention, or he'll start intentionally disappearing every now and then because you reward him for it."

"41 wouldn't do that to me," Kim Dokja defensively says, twisting Yoo Joonghyuk in the opposite direction of 1863. "He's not that much of a monster to have me worrying for nothing."

"I wouldn't," Yoo Joonghyuk says, and it's the truth. 41 was crestfallen to have been separated from Kim Dokja. He thinks back on that kkoma, still imprisoned by the Hero Association.

Should he be feeling this certain level of pity for the clone?

"See? 41 is a good Joonghyukie," Kim Dokja teases.

Yoo Joonghyuk's brain short-circuits.

Could this be the possible explanation for all the kkomas' obsession with Kim Dokja? He showers them with unbridled, shameless affection and somehow they all fall for it?

How could all these clones of himself be such fools to succumb to such a simple man?

Yoo Joonghyuk thinks about all of this while Kim Dokja is gently petting his hair, something that only two people in his life have ever done up until that point—his mentor and his sister.

He meets 1863 in the eye, who gives him a cold glare for receiving Kim Dokja's comforting touches, and for some reason, a sense of victory overcomes Yoo Joonghyuk.


Every minute spent in this house is complete chaos and disarray.

For meals, every kkoma is given a specific serving at an allocated time slot shown on a time table that separates the kkomas into groups of numbers.

There is a "kkoma hour with Kim Dokja" on the kkoma schedule which Yoo Joonghyuk checks out, and it's just Kim Dokja sitting on the couch surrounded by a hundred-or-so kkomas apparently touch-starved and clinging onto the man like a lifeline. For an entire hour.

1863 is always nearby, sitting on a nearby perch observing the others. Yoo Joonghyuk feels 1863's eyes on him in particular. He's not sure what that means. Even Kim Dokja was fooled into believing he was 41.

He goes outside where it isn't as suffocating with his face plastered everywhere, and finds the two children and the strange white creature playing with more kkomas. They're watching the kkomas wrangle grasshoppers with tiny rope and everything.

Yoo Joonghyuk goes back inside, not sure what to make of the ridiculous sight.

At night, he and other kkomas shuffle into the big elevator alongside Kim Dokja and 1863, apparently a necessity so that the smaller elevators don't clog when all the kkomas are trying to return to their cubicles all at once.

Some kkomas are still clutching onto the man's pants leg or cuddling his shoes. Kim Dokja looks as though he's very much used to these habits.

The kkoma floor is a large spiral of rooms, navigable through an intricate system of passageways and pulleys. There are signs everywhere pointing to which groups of numbers belong where and a map of the structures, but it makes the journey to 41's cubicle only marginally less confusing.

41's microchip implant is needed as the key to access 41's cubicle. It would've been a disaster without this implant. He's not sure if Kim Dokja would've even believed him without it.

Yoo Joonghyuk enters the windowless room, intrigued. For kkoma size, it's rather spacious. It's of minimalist style, not too different from his own bedroom in the house he shares with Yoo Mia, which is disturbing to say the least. In terms of furniture, there's a bed, a desk, a chair, and a shelf. On the desk is an undecipherable notepad with ascending numbers, some of them crossed out. On the shelf is a single framed photo of Kim Dokja, looking straight at the camera with a neutral expression and his hands inside his white coat's pockets.

Such a plain picture. He tries not to think about the logistics of being able to obtain such a tiny photograph. Must've been a pain.

He's about to turn in for the night when he notices something sticking out from underneath the bed. Yoo Joonghyuk pulls out the protruding object, which turns out to be a small box, with its lid closed.


...


Yoo Joonghyuk opens it, not knowing what to expect.

 

It was a mistake.

 

A choked noise forces its way out of Yoo Joonghyuk's throat at the contents of the box.

A drawing of Kim Dokja in a maid costume, the angle giving a very generous view of his ass.

A drawing of Kim Dokja with cat ears and a tail, his knees bent together and thighs emphasized. A collar with a bell is around his neck, all tied together with a lewd expression on his face.

A drawing of Kim Dokja in a chinese dress, his face blushing a brilliant red and his arms covering—

Yoo Joonghyuk closes the lid of the box with a startled expression.

1863's voice comes back to him, with a vengeance. 'Don't give that pervert any more attention...'

Is... this 41's legacy as a kkoma?

Yoo Joonghyuk kicks the box back underneath the bed. Of course, he thought that the other kkomas' affection for Kim Dokja was rather out of character for him. It is cursed knowledge to realize that some of the affection may go beyond platonic; in 41's case, it being sexual. Yoo Joonghyuk hasn't dated anyone since becoming a top hero, nor has the thought of dating anyone ever crossed his mind since reconnecting with Yoo Mia. Were all the kkomas just sexually repressed, not having any...

...material, so to speak, other than Kim Dokja?

From what Yoo Joonghyuk has observed, Kim Dokja doesn't even seem to be aware of the levels of obsession that the kkomas harbor towards him.

Oblivious idiot.


Yoo Joonghyuk learns many things over the course of the next few days.

He learns that 41's role in the kkoma hierarchy has something to do with being the leader of defense and security. The entire area sits in a secluded area however, and barely any activity happens around the location. There's not much for 41 to do in the first place except patrol here and there, but nothing else.

The other kkomas are avoidant of 41. 41 also just happens to have a reputation for being one of the more "crueler" kkomas, though Yoo Joonghyuk still isn't sure if others didn't like him for his "cruel" attitude or for his supposed reputation as a pervert.

He learns that the two children are named Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung. One has the ability to communicate with beasts, and the other has the ability to communicate with bugs. They were left abandoned in an orphanage before being adopted into the Villain organization for their powers. They were "passed around" (as another kkoma had vaguely explained) from scientist to scientist before Kim Dokja took them in, although, the man's certainly not teaching them how to be villains. Most of the time, if they're not enjoying time with their adoptive guardian, they're goofing off somewhere else with their pet and most likely 999 in tow.

He learns that the white fluffy creature's name is Biyoo, and that Biyoo was a failed lab experiment from a coworker and abandoned due to "not being evil-looking" enough. Kim Dokja felt bad and took her in.

He learns that the devil may work hard, but Kim Dokja works harder. His time is mostly preoccupied in that cursed basement lair of his, a pot of coffee always warmed up in the kitchen at any given time. The man is always found citing deadlines, more deadlines, and deadlines on top of those deadlines. It makes Yoo Joonghyuk ever wonders if there ever comes a time where Kim Dokja doesn't have upcoming deadlines to meet.

He learns during one of the kkoma sessions with Kim Dokja that's interrupted by a video call from his "parents" that Kim Dokja was adopted by two supervillains, and that's really the only reason why he ended up in the business at all. Which makes sense considering Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't sense a single evil bone in Kim Dokja's body. He only stays in the organization to make those adopted parents proud, fearing their disappointment should he quit the industry.

Foolish. You're foolish, Kim Dokja. Yoo Joonghyuk cannot believe that such a foolish man can even exist on this planet.

Yoo Joonghyuk fumes at this man who clearly loves to make bad decision after bad decision with his life. He almost loses it when Shin Yoosung comments how Kim Dokja hasn't been outside for a record of two weeks now.

"Threaten to run away if he doesn't agree to go out even once this week," Yoo Joonghyuk advises the pair of children with a vengeance. "This is unacceptable."

On Shin Yoosung's threat, they do go out together, Yoo Joonghyuk and 1863 hitching a ride in Kim Dokja's lab coat pockets. 1863 insisted that "41" stay home, but Kim Dokja doesn't mind bringing his usual bodyguard kkoma along.

"It's been a while, hasn't it," Kim Dokja softly says, rubbing the back of his neck. "I was so caught up with work that I forgot what fresh air smells like."

Why. Are. You. Still. Tolerating. This. Job.

Lee Gilyoung frowns deeply, looking like he's determined to initiate a fight with Kim Dokja's employer and win if it means Kim Dokja finally getting the rest he deserves.

"Ahjussi, why do you have to work so much," Shin Yoosung complains.

"We're only this well off because of this job," Kim Dokja ruffles Shin Yoosung's hair. "And the salary is big enough to support you and all of the kkomas."

That's true. Kim Dokja is oddly fond of the mini Yoo Joonghyuks that run the house. It must be quite the expensive upkeep.

Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't think any kkoma would object to Kim Dokja switching jobs if it meant that he'd live a life that benefited himself more. It's downright workplace slavery to be chained to one's office—erm, lair—for days at a time. Even with breaks in between and minimal sleep, it's not enough. 

All the kkomas are as protective of Kim Dokja as Kim Dokja is protective of them. It's a reciprocating relationship. They'd gladly sacrifice comfort for Kim Dokja's.

1863 says nothing, though Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't doubt that they're on the same wavelength right now. Of course, Kim Dokja is the type of man who'd use the kkomas as a scapegoat to justify his unholy habits that are slowly killing him on the inside. He'll be lucky to survive to the age of 60 at this rate.

The group goes to an amusement park, Kim Dokja leaving 1863, Yoo Joonghyuk, and Biyoo behind due to potential safety concerns whenever he and the kids go line up for an attraction. The scientist is very adamant about this, despite 1863's protests. He irrationally fears that they're small enough to fly out of his pocket. Yoo Joonghyuk could imagine a tearful Kim Dokja sobbing over a Biyoo pancake on the floor, the children attempting to comfort him, and the image has no right to be as funny as it is.

Biyoo is an obedient pet, staying in one place patiently waiting for her owners to come back. She makes small noises as she floats around in a circular path in the air.

"Stop. You'll make yourself dizzy if you keep circling like that," 1863 says.

Biyoo doesn't listen, spinning around until she floats slowly into the air with dizzied eyes. 1863 sighs.

After the ride is over, Kim Dokja gently rocks Biyoo in his hands, scolding her for not listening to 1863. Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung are clamoring impatiently to hurry to wait in line for the next ride. Yoo Joonghyuk thinks that Yoo Mia would've liked to come with them, since Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't usually have time to take her to places like amusement parks. Granted, there are places like the Hero Association Headquarters that are much cooler that Yoo Joonghyuk has taken her to before, but it would be nice for her to experience what a normal field trip is normally like.

When it's just Yoo Joonghyuk, 1863, and Biyoo waiting for Kim Dokja and company to finish their ride again, 1863 tries to make "casual" conversation. Sarcasm on the word casual, knowing himself.

"41, you've been acting different than usual."

"Define 'different'."

1863 stares at him with an indifferent facade.

"You've been back for three days now, and not once have you tried breaking into Kim Dokja's room."

Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't react to the accusation. He doesn't want to give any part of himself away. Infiltration may not be his strongest suit, but he's not going to give up without a fight.

"I wanted to give him space. He's been stuck in the basement nonstop since my return."

"That's never stopped you before." The tips of 1863's lip curls up just the slightest. "Am I to believe it's a mere coincidence that you've been acting weird since you've returned from captivity? From the heroes, might I add? Who would gain something by planting a rat among our ranks?"

Damn the inquisitive kkoma. If he were in 1863's spot, he'd have the same exact train of thought.

"Kim Dokja never inquired about my time with the heroes."

"Kim Dokja is a man who is too trusting. It is why I am always there, looking over his shoulder." 1863 is proud of that fact. "I deal with the threats that he doesn't forsee, and you've been on my radar from the moment of your 'return'."

"I am not a threat to Kim Dokja," Yoo Joonghyuk growls, somehow forgetting the fact that he's an agent of the other side. Maybe spending all this time as a kkoma has brainwashed him into thinking he truly is on Kim Dokja's side.

Or maybe he simply wanted to save Kim Dokja from himself. Villains needed saving, too, sometimes.

"The heroes will stop at nothing until they dismantle the Villain Association. One man is a small price to pay for many lives. Just as they would sacrifice Kim Dokja for the world, we would gladly sacrifice the world for Kim Dokja. At any cost."

Obsession. It's an ugly color painted on his own face.

"There will be no talk of sacrificing," Yoo Joonghyuk snaps. "There is no threat to Kim Dokja."

It's a pretty white lie he tells himself.


Kim Dokja is laughably horrible at all carnival games. He can't even win the lowest tier prize. Yoo Joonghyuk wishes he could be there, normal-sized, so he can win all the top prizes for Kim Dokja. The children are even better than him, wanting to give him a consolation prize. Kim Dokja is embarrassed at the idea of being given a toy by kids.

"Ah, you two were the ones worked hard to earn this prize."

"Take it," Lee Gilyoung insists, holding up the squid plushie. "We want you to have it."

"You can put it next to your Supreme King collection," Shin Yoosung adds.

"Don't mention that in public," Kim Dokja, flustered, says.

Yoo Joonghyuk is dumbfounded.

His what.

Every new thing that Yoo Joonghyuk learns about Kim Dokja is a disaster. It's a fucking disaster.

Is that why Kim Dokja cloned him so many times? Because he is a Supreme King fanboy? But wait, Yoo Joonghyuk has been present when Kim Dokja is working, and the overworked scientist has given no indication of ever working on cloning the top hero.

A lot of it doesn't add up. Kim Dokja doesn't act like the kkomas' creator, actually. He treats them with a certain level of respect, and he doesn't even make any mention of the real Supreme King. Despite the fact that the clones are a very specific project aimed at cloning the top hero for a purpose. A villainous purpose. Besides, Kim Dokja's area of expertise has nothing to do with DNA cloning.

Yoo Joonghyuk begins to piece the puzzle together.

The children. Biyoo. There's a pattern.

Kim Dokja would be the type of man to just accept 1863 mini clones of his most adored hero from a coworker into his home if those clones had nowhere else to go. The damn pattern.

Yoo Joonghyuk fumes for the rest of the day having made the connection. Kim Dokja asks him why he's so grumpy. Frankly speaking, he wants to kill Kim Dokja for neglecting to take care of himself. It's not a paradox. At least he'd die by another's hand rather than his own.

"Leave him be," 1863 reassures Kim Dokja. "It's just a 41 thing."

Kim Dokja shares some of his strawberry ice cream with Yoo Joonghyuk in an attempt to cheer him up. The treat is cool and sweet against his tongue, but he begrudgingly admits in his head that being fed by Kim Dokja has been the best part of the trip to the amusement park.


There are mini tables set up for kkomas to dine on in the dining room. It's very impressive how every aspect of the house is built with the kkomas in mind.

He's approached by a random kkoma while eating dinner.

"41, have you made any recent attempts on Kim Dokja's room?"

"No."

Hopefully, it's not another 1863 situation where he's questioned about being out of character.

"Tonight is a good night for an attempt. There won't be any kkomas guarding his door, and Kim Dokja will be distracted at around approximately nine tonight. You didn't hear this from me."

The kkoma leaves. Yoo Joonghyuk wonders why 41 even tries to break into Kim Dokja's room. There's probably not even anything noteworthy in there. Is this another one of 41's famously known perverse schemes?

(Yoo Joonghyuk tries really, really hard not to think about the cursed drawings under 41's bed.)

On the other hand, there might be something of value to the Hero's Association should he at least try to break in. Maybe some classified documents and whatnot.

He takes the kkoma elevator to the second floor at around the time that the kkoma suggested. It's empty because most of the kkomas are either turning in for the night or getting work done downstairs. A few of them eye him taking the elevator that only goes up with a knowing glint in their eyes.

He can tell which are the kids' rooms by the various decorations adorning the doors. Some doors are open, such as the bathroom, where Yoo Joonghyuk can peek in and see it's not the target room.

He eventually comes upon a door with a sign attached that is the same style as the sign in the kitchen, except Yoo Joonghyuk's face is placed inside the anti symbol. Below the sign is another with the label, '41, this means YOU!'

Yoo Joonghyuk feels another pang of disappointment for his stolen identity.

He looks around for anything that could help him reach the door handle. He finds the toy rope that was used the other day to wrangle grasshoppers, deciding this is good enough.

He ties a knot and throws one end of the rope to the handle, the lasso catching onto part of it. His super strength easily lets him climb up to inspect the lock.

It's a keypad lock. The notepad on 41's desk makes sense now. He's been trying out the different combinations, possibly locking Kim Dokja out whenever he runs out of attempts.

He's about to attempt to brute force his way through the lock using his powers before stopping himself. The other kkomas have the same strength as him. If the lock could be brute forced, 41 would've already gotten through.

Kim Dokja is at least smarter than that. He's tech savvy enough to implement countermeasures to brute force. Damn.

Yoo Joonghyuk stops to think about what the password would be.

He punches in '0215', Kim Dokja's birthday, to no avail. He also tries '1863' thinking maybe 1863 is his favorite kkoma. No luck.

He tries '0803' which still doesn't work.

He grimaces. What's a number that no kkoma would have knowledge of?

He tries '19910803' and it, surprisingly, works.

What a stupidly dedicated fanboy, Yoo Joonghyuk thinks. He drops back down to the floor, tugging on the rope with his strength to push down the handle. The door opens with a click.

He nudges it open with his hand, leaving just enough space for him to slip through.

The squid toy from the amusement park trip lies sitting up on the bed. Next to it is the limited edition Supreme King plushie (only 500 were made and some went up for auction online for more than 1000000 won). He climbs onto the bed for a better view of the entire room.

The walls are plastered with Supreme King posters. Above Kim Dokja's nightstand is a Supreme King themed calendar. A Supreme King action figure collection sits upon his dresser. There is a pair of Supreme King socks that are budding out from one of the drawers of the dresser.

On top of the nightstand is a short biography about Supreme King that had been written by a ghostwriter that had followed him around for about a week. There's also two framed pictures next to the book on the nightstand–one is of Kim Dokja with Shin Yoosung, Lee Gilyoung, Biyoo, supervillains Hades and Persephone, and a horde of kkomas. The swarm of kkomas overwhelm the picture, but its dysfunctional vibes match the actual family quite well.

The other picture is a great contrast in terms of composition. The background is largely plain, uncluttered. Kim Dokja, who looks to be around 17-18-19 age range, is posing with a younger Yoo Joonghyuk. The quote "I am Yoo Joonghyuk" is messily scribbled with his handwriting on the glossy surface. It's a simple picture, but even Yoo Joonghyuk can tell it is loved as equally as the other one.

Yoo Joonghyuk wishes for his life that he could remember the photographed encounter. It was such a brief moment in the past, and so much has happened since. It was unfair that to him, it was just another normal meet-and-greet before he blew up in popularity and ranks, and yet to Kim Dokja, it meant the world for him.

Kim Dokja looks so brilliantly happy in the photo, like a lone star glimmering in the night sky. Yoo Joonghyuk wishes he could see that dazzling smile if just for a moment again on the man's face.

Yoo Joonghyuk looks up when he hears footsteps approaching. Reflexively, he darts to hide behind the two plushies on the bed.

"Is that bastard still bothering you about the kids?"

It's a woman's voice. Unfamiliar yet familiar at the same time.

The sound of a door opening.

"...Weird. I'm pretty sure I closed the door earlier."

Kim Dokja.

"Who cares? It's not like you keep anything valuable in here.

"I do! Do you even realize what the kkomas would do if they could get in here? They'd destroy my entire collection," Kim Dokja pouts. "They get jealous easily. You know how they are."

"It's your fault for agreeing to look after them."

"They had nowhere else to go. I wasn't going to let them starve to death out there. They needed a home."

Yoo Joonghyuk peeks his eyes out from between the two plushies.

Ah, it's the villain Black Flames Empress. She's in her civilian persona, but Yoo Joonghyuk has fought her enough to recognize her even without her mask or costume. Interestingly, 1863 is nowhere to be found.

"You're too soft," she sharply comments. "The only reason the Villain Association doesn't let you go is because you're useful and your parents would throw a fit if they found out you were fired. It's why you should let me handle killing that creep. I don't give a rat's ass about his standing with the higher ups."

"I can be evil!" Kim Dokja scoffs in disbelief. "I mean, just because I don't go off on random sprees killing people–"

"How villainous of you," Black Flame Empress sneers.

"–It shouldn't lessen my contributions to the Villain Asssociation! I'm an important employee, too."

She sighs. "I think the kkomas would've burned down the Villain Association by now if it weren't for you, so you have that going for you."

"Thank you. Someone recognizes my efforts," Kim Dokja says, looking proud of himself.

Black Flame Empress walks near the nightstand, the biography catching her eyes. Her nose scrunches up. She holds the book up with one hand and a judgemental gaze on Kim Dokja. "You actually bought this? And read it? This trash?"

"It wasn't that bad! Put it back!"

Black Flame Empress smirks as Kim Dokja reaches for the book, but she twists away and is able to dodge the hands desperately grabbing for the item.

She opens to a random page and reads, "Yoo Joonghyuk had two options. He could either save the people on the plane but let the citizens of the city perish–"

"Stop! Stop, stop, it's worse if you read the lines aloud!"

Black Flame Empress cackles a witch's laugh, and Kim Dokja ends up tackling her onto the bed, everything on the bed shifting. The plushies move, exposing Yoo Joonghyuk's position.

Black Flame Empress notices immediately and shrieks in surprise. Kim Dokja is able to take advantage of the distraction and snatches the book back from her hands.

"Holy shit! One of them did get in!"

"It's fine," Kim Dokja says calmly and means it. He sets the book back gently on the nightstand. "41, is that you?"

"The infamous 41," she says with a roll of her eyes.

"Be nice," Kim Dokja berates her in a flat tone with a dull jab of his elbow.

"You spoil them too much."

"Kim Dokja," Yoo Joonghyuk says as an answer. "The door was open."

"It's a good thing nobody else noticed," Kim Dokja says. "And a good thing you didn't wreck anything."

Yoo Joonghyuk has no reason to, but he knows 41 would've most likely leapt at the chance. He's probably one of the jealous types. Is Kim Dokja so trusting of 41 to believe an obvious lie?

Black Flame Empress plucks Yoo Joonghyuk using the back collar of his coat, Yoo Joonghyuk's body hanging limp like a doll. "Alright, the eavesdropping party is over. Ever hear the saying 'three's a crowd'?"

"Be gentle with him!" Kim Dokja snaps. His hand moves to provide support under Yoo Joonghyuk so that his legs aren't dangling in the air. The other hand pats him on the head.

"Stop being such an overbearing mother hen. It's not helpless."

"I know," Kim Dokja says. He takes Yoo Joonghyuk away from Black Flame Empress, hands cradling him gently. "I'll put him in the timeout box."

The timeout box is a translucent plastic container on a random shelf in Kim Dokja's lab. Inside the box is one plush chair to sit on and a brochure holder with pamphlets such as 'Managing Your Anger' and 'Overcoming Jealousy and Posessiveness'. Yoo Joonghyuk feels slightly insulted at the suggested titles. There are holes in the top of the box to prevent suffocation. There is a singular poster on one of the walls that says "Reflect on what you've done."

With nothing else to do, he reads some of the pamphlets, scoffing whenever he reads a line that definitely doesn't apply to him. Eventually, he dozes off from boredom.


Yoo Joonghyuk blearily blinks his eyes open to the sound of a crash arousing him awake. He forgets where exactly he is for a moment–the fluorescent lights disorienting his vision.

The timeout box. Kim Dokja's lab.

He tries to look down from the box on the shelf for a good view of the man. Wherever Kim Dokja is, it's not possible to see him from this angle.

"Kim Dokja," Yoo Joonghyuk calls out. His voice echoes in this infuriatingly capacious cavern. "Are you alright?"

"Good!" the man replies, the sounds of clanks and clangs following suit. "I didn't move you 'cause I didn't want to wake you. Hold on a sec, I'll come up to get you!"

Yoo Joonghyuk waits patiently for the man to come into view. He almost flies into a rage when he spots the small patch of red on Kim Dokja's lower left sleeve.

"You liar," Yoo Joonghyuk says. "You're hurt."

"Huh? Where?" Kim Dokja looks around before noticing the blood staining his coat. There's a small tear exposing the wound underneath, though not as visible as the dyed fabric. "Shit, and they'd just gotten this one bleached."

"How is that the most pressing concern?" Yoo Joonghyuk asks. "You need to be treated immediately."

"It's fine, it's just a scratch. One of the metal pieces must've come into contact with my arm," Kim Dokja dismissively shrugs off. "The other kkomas will go crazy if they find out about this. I don't want to go back upstairs in the middle of the night and cause a commotion. The kids are sleeping."

"You could get an infection," Yoo Joonghyuk says. "Is there a first aid kit around here?"

Kim Dokja nods, a small grin on his face and his eyes soft. "I'll be in your care, then. Let me get you out of the timeout box first."

Yoo Joonghyuk is placed on the shoulder where 1863 is usually perched. He hangs onto Kim Dokja's collar as the man looks around for his first aid kit.

He's very disorganized, Yoo Joonghyuk notes. The rest of the house is always tidy, but the kkomas are always cleaning up after themselves and the children. Whereas kkomas are usually not allowed in Kim Dokja's lab, although it could use the spring cleaning.

Kim Dokja rummages through the cabinets before going, "Aha!" and taking out the small box from the pile of clutter. He holds it up, shouting, "Found it!"

Kim Dokja rests his arm on the counter. Yoo Joonghyuk rolls up his sleeve, which Kim Dokja weakly protests that he could've at least done that part.

Yoo Joonghyuk uses a gauze pad to put pressure on the wound. He holds it while Kim Dokja stares at him curiously.

"You've done this before," Kim Dokja says. "Should I be worried?"

Yoo Joonghyuk can't help the ridiculous smirk that fights its way to twist his mouth upwards. It's rather incriminating to smile at such a question.

"There's probably a lot of mischief you guys get involved in that I'm not there to witness. If any kkoma gets injured, I would at least like to know."

"You know they would hide it. For the very same reason why you hide your own injury. You're a hypocrite, Kim Dokja."

Kim Dokja laughs. "You're more talkative than you used to be, 41. It's nice."

A small part of Yoo Joonghyuk wishes that Kim Dokja knew it was him. The real Supreme King. The one that Kim Dokja adores, but adores in a different way from the way he adores the children and Biyoo and the kkomas.

He wishes they could have earnest conversations with one another, with no lies or secrets between them.

A sense of guilt, pity, and longing fills him whenever Kim Dokja calls him 41. Call me by my name, you fool, is what Yoo Joonghyuk wants to say.

"Being apart from you has made me realized how much I miss you," Yoo Joonghyuk says. "You're everything to me. Kim Dokja."

"We weren't even separated for that long. It was less than a week. I'm just glad you came home safe."

41 hadn't. He's not here.

Selfishly, he asks, "What would you have done if I hadn't?"

Kim Dokja pauses to think. With a carefree smile, he jokes, "Maybe something truly villainous."

Yoo Joonghyuk's heart does a backflip in his chest.

Oh, he's fucked. He's absolutely fucked.

There's only one rule when it comes to infiltration missions, and Yoo Joonghyuk knows he's broken it. Worst of all, it's this man who he's fallen for. Human disaster Kim Dokja. The only one in the world who would take pity on 1863 clones. Adopter of two children. Rescuer of a failed lab experiment. Fanboy of Supreme King.

He cleans the cut with a wettened washcloth. Kim Dokja sings his praises, treating him though he's a dog who just performed a series of obedient tricks.

"Stop that," Yoo Joonghyuk says, wanting the condescending tone to desist.

"Why? Do you not like it anymore? I remember the first time we interacted, the only way to calm you down was to call you a 'good boy'." Kim Dokja's smile turns teasing. "Your face would turn all red. The other kkomas loved to joke that 41 had a heart after all."

...41 was a weird kkoma. Yoo Joonghyuk wishes he took the identity of a more normal clone.

The smile fades away from his face. "I was actually afraid," Kim Dokja admits, "That maybe you grew tired of being with us. Grew tired of me. Maybe you decided to run away on purpose because you didn't want this home anymore."

"Why would you think that?"

"You just... seem unhappier leading up to the move. I wish you guys would open up to me more."

Yoo Joonghyuk begins the process of wrapping the bandage around his arm. It's hard as he has to run below and jump over Kim Dokja's arm, but it proves to be entertaining to the scientist so he doesn't mind the effort.

"I guess it might be that the real Supreme King is distant like that. You guys inherited that bad habit of his," Kim Dokja speculates. "It must be lonely on the top."

Yoo Joonghyuk's eyebrows twitch at the mention of his real identity.

"You wouldn't know anything about his personal life," Yoo Joonghyuk says. Most of the public isn't even aware he has a little sister, but that's the way he likes it. He doesn't want his hero life to invade his personal life. He's seen what happens when heroes dedicate their entire selves to heroism; it's miserable.

"Our Joonghyukie is jealous," Kim Dokja giggles, pinching his cheek. Yoo Joonghyuk allows it. For the mission. Definitely not because it's Kim Dokja, who has awfully long lashes for a man and a face that seems more appealing the more time he spends with the villain.

"I'd like to meet him again one day," Kim Dokja says. "It's too bad he doesn't do fan meet-and-greets anymore. I get it. He's too popular. He probably has an entire fanclub full of single women lining up to marry a guy like him. Who wouldn't want to marry the top hero Supreme King?"

This man has no thoughts-to-mouth filter. If Kim Dokja really runs off his mouth like this around 41 or even the other kkomas, it's really not a mystery why they'd get angry.

So, it is jealousy. Jealousy that Kim Dokja will never look at kkomas the same way that he does the real Supreme King.

Should Yoo Joonghyuk not be feeling smug about this fact?

"Don't look at me like that," Kim Dokja pouts. "You know what Supreme King means to me. If it weren't for him, I wouldn't even be here. So be grateful to him."

Kim Dokja turns his back on Yoo Joonghyuk to put away the medkit, conveniently missing the dumbfounded look that appears on his face.

Kim Dokja is an enigma. Every waking minute spent in the man's presence only opens up more questions than answers.

He wants to get closer to Kim Dokja (for the mission) and understand him better (also for the mission). If only the fool could let him. But, he's only known as a kkoma in this form. Would Kim Dokja open up to him if he knew he were the real Supreme King?

"Alright, 41. It's off to bed with you," Kim Dokja says. "I've kept you up long enough. You're very good at treating wounds. I think you'd even be well off if you transferred to the medic branch."

The man in the lab coat holds out his hand for Yoo Joonghyuk to hop on. He sits on the man's shoulder again. He wishes he could replace 1863, the damn kkoma who has the luxury of being the man's most trusted companion.

"If I transferred to the medic branch, who would be there protect you? Think, Kim Dokja."

"You're just too good at everything," Kim Dokja complains. "Leave some of the talent for the others."

"Hmph."

Kim Dokja steps into the elevator, pushing the button that goes to the kkoma floor. He yawns loudly, and he definitely doesn't make a face that can be described as cute when he yawns. Definitely not.

"You should get some sleep, too."

"You know I can't," Kim Dokja says. "I've got work to do."

"You'll work yourself to an early grave at this rate."

"At least I'll die surrounded by the ones I love," Kim Dokja jokes. Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't find it very funny.

"You're not allowed to die," Yoo Joonghyuk says. "If you die, I'll kill you."

"That's not how it works."

The elevator opens to the kkoma floor and Kim Dokja gently places him on the floor.

"Good night, 41."


Yoo Joonghyuk finds it hard to sleep after his late night conversation. He keeps dwelling on Kim Dokja's words. He wouldn't be alive if it weren't for Supreme King. What does that mean?

It bothers him that he doesn't know. Had he unintentionally already saved this villain before?

Yoo Joonghyuk ends up not sleeping at all.

His frazzledness in the morning is noticed by others, though they're not nosey enough (or rather don't care enough) to confront him about it. He's just one in the crowd of many hundreds of kkomas in this house.

HQ probably expects him to report back soon. He's discovered how Kim Dokja came into possession of more than a thousand kkomas, but not the true origin of them. Is the original creator still making more kkomas? It doesn't seem so, seeing how new ones weren't sent in the time Yoo Joonghyuk arrived. 1863 doesn't seem to be new, despite being the last of the kkomas to come into existence.

...More importantly, HQ would want all of the kkomas killed. He can already imagine the despair that would overwhelm Kim Dokja if such a tragedy were to occur.

It twists Yoo Joonghyuk's heart into a knot, churns his stomach in dread at the image in his head. Kim Dokja would be so devastated at the loss.

The kkomas are like family to Kim Dokja. They're not just clones–to Kim Dokja, they're a completely separate entity, independent of the man they were modeled after.

Even one of them perishing would break the man's fragile heart.

...Technically, Yoo Joonghyuk isn't obligated to report back everything. He doesn't think Kim Dokja is a threat, at least not directly, but it wouldn't be good for him to keep associating with the Villain Association in the long run.

It's clear the man is already an outcast in villain society, except for maybe an ally (somehow having befriended that witch Black Flame Empress) or two. Yet, he wouldn't be accepted in normal society either. He'd be indiscriminately branded a villain for picking a side, no matter the circumstances.

I want to recruit you, Yoo Joonghyuk thinks. I'd make sure your superiors won't overwork you. You'd be coworkers with the very top hero that you adore so much. I would make more of an effort to come to work functions if I knew you'd be there.

The more he ponders the possibility, the more he realizes that most of these benefits are for himself rather than for the good of Kim Dokja. Except the first one.

A jingle rings throughout the house. A kkoma's voice comes through on the announcements speaker, "The following kkomas are to report to Kim Dokja's lab. I repeat, the following kkomas are to report to Kim Dokja's lab. If you are not on this list and set foot in Kim Dokja's lab, you will be punished. 41. 99. 555..."

Yoo Joonghyuk doesn't have to wait in line this time, the awaiting kkomas respecting those called in to be able to catch the next elevators instead. He rides down with others who have been called in.

A series of grunts can be heard when the elevators open at the immediate sight of 1863 sitting atop of one Kim Dokja lying on the ground, the bags under the scientist's eyes worse than before.

For God's sake.

"When will he learn."

"Of course, this happened. He doesn't know how to take care of himself."

"When was even the last time he slept a full eight hours."

"He's lucky to even get five most nights."

Yoo Joonghyuk is reminded of the fact that he is, indeed, not one of those people who loves to hear himself speak. Yes, he's the type of man who'd only make one comment, but if there's ten of him in a group, then there'd be collectively ten comments, and that's enough to make him go mad.

When 1863 accounts for all kkomas present, he tells them to withhold "any unnecessary comments", much to Yoo Joonghyuk's gratitude. 1863 orders the kkomas to get in very specific formation in order to maximize efficiency in carrying Kim Dokja to the "emergency lab cot" as 1863 calls it.

This is apparently his life now, Yoo Joonghyuk thinks.

None of this would be happening if Kim Dokja was a fully functioning adult man.

They heave the unconscious man into the makeshift bed. It looks uncomfortable, but it's at least better than the floor. 1863 thanks the kkomas and commands them to go back to their posts. Yoo Joonghyuk sticks around when the others leave.

"41. Why are you still here?"

He peers at Kim Dokja's sleeping face. It's not a peaceful look, since he literally worked himself to the point of exhaustion, but it's still an admirable view of the man. Yoo Joonghyuk wishes he could see the man not fatigued for once in his life.

"41."

"I don't have anything else to do right now."

"That's not my problem. Go find something to do, then."

Yoo Joonghyuk quirks an eyebrow at 1863. "What will you do if I choose to stay instead?"

"Are you trying to undermine my authority?"

"As Kim Dokja's favorite?"

1863 scowls at his reply. Yoo Joonghyuk challengingly smirks.

"I will never be replaced," 1863 growls.

"You'll never be his favorite."

"I know." 1863 isn't as riled up as Yoo Joonghyuk expected him to be. "The only thing I need is to be by his side."

What a pathetic mindset.

Yoo Joonghyuk climbs into the cot, which does elicit a reaction of outrage from 1863, lying down besides the sleeping man's chest.

"41. You are acting out of line."

Yoo Joonghyuk closes his eyes. Now that he's actually lying in it, it's not that uncomfortable. Or maybe it's because he's tired and actually has a chance to rest. Or maybe it's because he knows Kim Dokja has been finally put to rest that he can do the same.

"Or what," Yoo Joonghyuk mutters. "You're just a dog with a worse bark than bite."

A control freak is what 1863 is. He may look after Kim Dokja as his kkoma companion, but he treats the other kkomas beneath him. It's ridiculous. Kim Dokja's beloved kkoma or not, Kim Dokja will only see him as a kkoma. At least the others have already accepted this.

"How dare you–" 1863 is cut off when Kim Dokja, still in deep slumber, turns over in the cot onto his side with a groan. His arms shift over with his body, and somehow, they clasp around Yoo Joonghyuk's body.

Yoo Joonghyuk adjusts so that he can comfortably lie in Kim Dokja's arms. 1863's eyes flash dangerously at him. He can't do anything to Yoo Joonghyuk right now, and Yoo Joonghyuk knows it.

1863 stays silent, and if Yoo Joonghyuk were to open his eyes, there's no doubt he'd see that the kkoma would be staring at him intensely calculating the next best possible move in his head.

"You're going to regret this later," 1863 says after a few minutes. "I'll make sure of it."

What a tool, Yoo Joonghyuk thinks. He was right on the money about the kkoma.

In Kim Dokja's embrace, his thoughts leave him as he falls asleep.


Yoo Joonghyuk jostles awake at the sound of a blaring alarm.

The cot is empty. No Kim Dokja nor any sign of 1863 is anywhere to be found.

He hurries to the elevator, but it's not working.

Yoo Joonghyuk slips into the emergency compartment, which contains only a metal pile that leads to the upper floors. He climbs in a rush, hearing a loud clamor when he's near the kkoma floor. He slides open the door to take a small peek in.

A swarm of kkomas surround Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung, both children looking heavily distressed. Biyoo is cowering in Shin Yoosung's lap. The other kkomas don't look like they're faring any much better.

"Kim Dokja told you to stay put here. You're not allowed to leave under his orders."

"We have to help him!" Lee Gilyoung yells. "He's after us, not hyung, right? What if—"

"It is precisely the fact that you two are the prime targets that Kim Dokja ordered you to remain as far away from the intruders as possible. No exceptions—"

Yoo Joonghyuk slams the pocket door shut, continuing to further climb up. He's drenched in sweat by the time he finally reaches the ground floor, wrenching the small door open. Cool air hits his face the moment he steps out from the stuffy compartment.

There's a few kkomas that jump at his appearance, all of them on high alert and posted at specific stations.

"Where is Kim Dokja?" Yoo Joonghyuk asks.

"Upstairs."

"Second floor."

A few just merely gesture vaguely in an upwards direction with their hand.

Yoo Joonghyuk uses the emergency compartment one last time to reach the second floor. There's a never-ending thump in his ears, and he tries to focus on that rather than endless nightmare scenarios that play over and over in his head.

He opens the compartment to the thick stench of rust. The walls are covered in cracks and nicks, masked men lying limply on the floor covered in blood. Red splatters over the walls. A singular blood trail dances around the bodies, leading off around the corner to somewhere not in his line of vision. No kkomas in sight.

A horrible gurgling noise is muffled in the distance. Yoo Joonghyuk sprints towards the source of the noise, uncaring if his boots splosh against the blood.

Around the corner, in a hallway that is equally messy as the last area,  there's one open door that's next to the door covered in bug stickers. It's Shin Yoosung's room. The gurgling ominously stops, silence following.

Apprehensively, Yoo Joonghyuk approaches the opening with quiet steps. He holds the pill in his hand that'll revert him back to normal size, ready to take it at a moment's notice.

He'll use it if it means Kim Dokja's survival. He peeks his head around the door frame.

The hero's eyes widen at the sight of Kim Dokja kneeled over on the floor, the back of his lab coat painted a brilliant red.

He almost barges in without thinking. Almost.

"That should be the last of them," a kkoma's voice says. 1863. He's not terribly surprised.

Kim Dokja stands up, revealing the macabre on his coat. It's clear from the patterns that the blood isn't his, though there is some caked scarlet on one side of his face. Underneath the scientist is a bloodied figure, a cape covering it like a tarp of sorts.

"Right," Kim Dokja breathes out in relief, and Yoo Joonghyuk thinks there is a cruelty to his voice that contrasts all the other times he's ever softly spoken to the children or the kkomas.

Kim Dokja licks his thumb and casually tries to wipe the blood around his eyes off.

"...Do you truly think the others will believe you and 41 were the ones who had done this? It was quite a decently-sized raid this time."

"I don't see the point in continuing the charade."

"Only a monster could've done this. Wouldn't you agree?"

For Yoo Joonghyuk, this is the final piece of the puzzle that is Kim Dokja.

"You were protecting everyone. Nobody would judge you for such a thing."

Kim Dokja laughs, except his voice cracks several time and he sounds like he's on the verge of crying with every heave of his chest.

Yoo Joonghyuk's heart sinks. You stupid, stupid fool, Kim Dokja. Who is going to save you from yourself if you keep insisting on doing everything alone?

"It doesn't make the perpetrator any less of a monster, but I appreciate the attempt at making one feel better."

1863 gives Kim Dokja a look that says so much. It's understanding, sympathy, and yet, a look of pain for his closest companion. He climbs Kim Dokja's lab coat and smears off some of the blood with his hand.

"I'll call for the cleaning crew. What should we do about Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung?"

"I'll make myself presentable first. Then we'll go out for dinner while the kkomas straighten things out here. The kids can sleep with me tonight if everything isn't back in place by the time we come back. Even then, they might be too scared to sleep alone tonight."

"We could have 999 or one of the other kkomas accompany them while they sleep."

"They feel the safest when I'm around," Kim Dokja says. Yoo Joonghyuk thinks the kids feel safer knowing Kim Dokja is safe, not that Kim Dokja's presence makes them feel safer. "It's better this way for everyone."

1863 comfortingly pets Kim Dokja on the cheek.

"You're not a monster. You're only a man who can do so much."

Kim Dokja walks to Shin Yoosung's nightstand, holding up the picture frame displaying the makeshift family. There's little red splatters marring the glass.

"I know."

Except he doesn't know, he only pretends to buy into the words. Yoo Joonghyuk hates every part of this.

Kim Dokja. A villain.

The sight of him standing so mercilessly in thr center of the circle of bloodied bodies is haunting. What a greek tragedy.


Yoo Joonghyuk leaves without saying goodbye. He can't stay forever, what with Yoo Mia staying at a friend's house and him having given her a vague time frame of no more than three days, completely blown out of the water by now. He had delayed leaving sooner, but now he feels certain about leaving Kim Dokja's side.

Maybe, he's seen enough.

He tells the Hero Association minimal details. He doesn't talk about the clones that are being kept away in a house, nor about the overworked scientist that lives in that house, nor about how said mad scientist loves to eat and feed dumplings to kkomas.

He deflects a lot of questions thrown his way, such as why he was gone for such a long time, which he attributed to technical difficulties. He spews some lies about digging deeper for any secret files about the Villain Association.

He doubts Kim Dokja is anything but the bottom of the chain. He's still a villain, and a dangerous one at that. But Yoo Joonghyuk wouldn't call him a threat, really. He's off living in his own world, and Yoo Joonghyuk can't imagine him the type who'd be looking for trouble.

Still, sometimes that's not even enough.

"You've been distracted," Yoo Mia comments days later. It's not a question. "Is it something relating to Supreme King?"

Yoo Joonghyuk hesitantly nods.

Kim Dokja haunts his thoughts, lives in his head completely rent-free. The man's voice, his face, the way he pronounces "Joonghyukie" in a playful manner, the Kim Dokja smile that's genuine and not just the tired smile he uses to mask his fatigue, his adoration for all the kkomas, his fondness for the kids he saved from treacherous hands, his determination to let them live a normal childhood for once.

His unwillingness to let others help him. How he wants the kkomas and the children and Biyoo to have everything, even at the expense of himself.

It prods at Yoo Joonghyuk's conscience, and maybe even his heart. An unknown face in the Villain Association. Another statistic in the Hero Association's book, awaiting to be arrested, prosecuted, and potentially executed.

Yoo Joonghyuk really, really wants to save him.

Yoo Mia's face turns sober. "Was it someone you couldn't save?"

Worse.

"Someone I'm not sure I'm able to save."

Yoo Mia's frown turns into a smile. She jabs at her oppa's arm with her elbow. "Oh, really? Number one hero Supreme King admitting defeat already? You can do it. You're literally the best in the industry at saving people! Oppa really is the best. Everyone knows it."

How do you save someone who doesn't want to be saved?

(Or, maybe deep down, Kim Dokja did want to be saved. He's just not sure how anybody could. So, instead, he doesn't hold any expectations to save himself the disappointment.)


"If I release you, you won't kill me."

41 scoffs in the shoebox that Yoo Joonghyuk uses to transport him in. If 41 wanted to, he could've already escaped. Yoo Joonghyuk had honestly half-expected him to have done it already.

"Try me," 41 snaps.

"I threw away the box. You know which one."

"Bastard!" 41 bangs on the shoebox. "Do you know how long it took me to amass that stockpile?"

"Get a better hobby," Yoo Joonghyuk says with all seriousness.

"As if you have any," 41 mutters angrily.

He picks a spot a good distance from the Hero Association headquarters, in some random park. Yoo Joonghyuk opens the lid to release 41 gently on the grass. 41 refuses his hand with a slap, choosing to hop out indignantly on his own.

"I can drive you closer to the location if you wish."

41 doesn't even acknowledge his offer with a response, stomping away without so much as a 'thanks'.

How 41's "charm" ever made Kim Dokja adore the kkoma as much as he does, Yoo Joonghyuk will never get it. In his opinion, he made for a far more superior 41 than the actual 41.

(He's not jealous. Don't be ridiculous.)


It's been literal years since Yoo Joonghyuk's agreed to do fan meet-and-greets. When he began rising in popularity in his early twenties, that's when he stopped because they started to become unpredictable events.

It makes headline news when Supreme King announces that he'll be doing a "tour" of fan meet-and-greets around the country. 

All the meet-and-greets are a slog to get through. There's one where his fellow coworkers Lee Jihye and Kim Namwoon make a guest appearance, mostly at Lee Jihye's insistence, where she disguises herself as a fan to prank him when she gets to the front of the line.

"Surprise!" Lee Jihye yells, and the line of the meet-and-greet roars and erupts into applause at her appearance. Kim Namwoon chooses not to reveal himself, off at the side, with a face that screams 'Why did I agree to come along to this'.

It's not until two weeks after he started touring that he finally gets a glimpse of the one he's looking for.

Kim Dokja wears a casual buttoned shirt, which is different from the time that he even wore his signature white coat to the amusement park. There's no sign of 1863 anywhere–hopefully the kkoma was left behind or otherwise he'd have to be prepared for a sneak attack at any moment.

Holding each of his hands are Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung, squeezing tightly by him to protect him. Of course, the poor Biyoo would attract too much attention, so she's nowhere to be found either.

Yoo Joonghyuk finds it highly amusing when another mother holding hands with her son approaches Kim Dokja waiting in line, asking him if his children are big fans of Supreme King too. To Kim Dokja's humiliation, both Shin Yoosung and Lee Gilyoung confidently answered no to the question with no hesitance. The man's face turned red at the mother's awkward apology.

"Hi," is the first thing that comes out of Kim Dokja's mouth when it's finally his turn. "I, uhm, wow. I never thought I'd ever meet you in person."

Again, Yoo Joonghyuk's mind supplements.

Lee Gilyoung coughs not-so-discreetly, looking at Kim Dokja expectantly.

"Supreme King," Kim Dokja breathes out, his body locking up. Yoo Joonghyuk wonders what it would take to force the man to call him Joonghyukie right then and there. 

"Ahjussi wants a picture of you and us together," Shin Yoosung translates. She holds up the Polaroid camera in her hands. "Can you do it?"

Yoo Joonghyuk nods. He stands up, getting behind Kim Dokja as to not come in between the man and his children. Kim Dokja stifles a squeak when Yoo Joonghyuk's chest makes contact with his back.

This version of Kim Dokja can be unfairly cute, Yoo Joonghyuk thinks.

It's the advantage he has over the kkomas. He'll take whatever he can get. 1863 would be seething right now, and Yoo Joonghyuk would be living for his rage.

"I'm good," Kim Dokja shyly says, "Just got startled a little."

The camera goes off. While they wait for the picture to develop, Yoo Joonghyuk makes small talk with the family.

"How long have you been a fan?"

"Since the beginning. Well, I guess everyone must tell you that. I'm not really all that special."

Yoo Joonghyuk can't help but smile, and it makes a few linegoers swoon and snap photos of the scene.

"I believe you," Yoo Joonghyuk says, and tries his hardest not to sound like a lovestruck fool.

"Really? I mean, you don't have to. I mean, ah," Kim Dokja stammers, clearly having trouble forming words in front of his supposed idol. It's too adorable. "Look! The photo's ready."

The children get on their tippy toes for a peak at the final processed image. It's perfect, Yoo Joonghyuk thinks, although it'd be more perfect if it was a complete family photo.

"I'll sign it," Yoo Joonghyuk insists. "Will you let me?"

Kim Dokja's eyes bulge out, like be couldn't believe the Supreme King is asking for his permission on something. "Go ahead."

"You aren't allowed to look until you leave," Yoo Joonghyuk says.

"Uh, sure?"

So, Yoo Joonghyuk writes with a black marker while Kim Dokja patiently waits. He leaves with one last firm handshake before Kim Dokja stutters about the huge line of other fans he must attend to, completely unaware of the fact that all this was just so Yoo Joonghyuk could meet him. It's ironic.

He gives the photograph to Shin Yoosoung.

"Make sure he keeps his promise," Yoo Joonghyuk says. Shin Yoosung nods once, much to Kim Dokja's flabbergasted look.


When Kim Dokja finally sees what Supreme King wrote on his photo, his jaw drops.

"I am Kim Dokja" is written on the front. On the back, "I've saved you once, I'll save you again. Whatever it takes. You're worth it, Kim Dokja. Consider this a warning.

Call me when you're ready to talk. XXX-XXX-XXXX"