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Another man, graceful and slender, appears from the fog like a wraith. Kyungsoo watches as he sways closer, the calls and stenches of the street fading into blurs around him as the figure sharpens in the weak sunlight. He moves with elegance, poise. Like a dancer, like a pretty boy, like…

“You’re dead," Kyungsoo gasps, words more to himself than anyone else as his gut tightens and he draws his invisible shield around him again. “No. You’re dead.”

The man gets closer and closer as Kyungsoo stumbles forward a few paces, feet aching and bleeding, heart thundering.

“Kyungsoo.” The man says slowly, joyfully, a soft, quiet smile stretching over his face. “Kyungsoo.”

Kyungsoo searches the man’s face, body, eyes for a sign, anything, that this is not Jongin. But it’s a damn good copy – no artist could make a better one – and Kyungsoo finds himself staring and staring and staring as if he could undo the Jongin-ness of the man standing before him. As if he could ignore the long, graceful legs, bowed at the left knee from his injury, shaking slightly under his weight as he walks. As if he could ignore those big, smooth hands, so different from his small, calloused ones. As if he could ignore that particular Jongin smile that reaches to his eyes, lit up with hope and kindness and pure, sweet Jongin-ness.

There’s breaks in the perfect copy, of course: a long, thin, crescent moon of a scar rounding the circumference of his cheek, twilight-purple bruises adorning his forearms, a slight wildness, deadness, discomforted anguish in his eyes that wasn’t there before. Little things, Kyungsoo thinks, but enough to tell him that isn’t Jongin.
Not his Jongin. It can’t be.

“You’re dead," he says evenly, calmly, heart palpitating behind his serene appearance. “You’re dead.”

Jongin’s mouth crooks into a tiny little half-smile, tilting his head as he looks at Kyungsoo. “Takes more than that to kill me, Soo.”

Kyungsoo flinches back, arms automatically coming up to protect himself from the blow. Somehow, though, he can’t. It’s not a fist in his face. That would be too easy.
No, this is much harder to block. Before he realises, his hand has moved towards the man who looks like Jongin, desperate to feel that same warm skin, breathe that same scented air, know once and for all that he’s real.

His hands falter, trembling in mid-air as he can’t move any further. The eyebrows of the man who could be Jongin furrow and, with a deep breath, he grabs Kyungsoo’s hand in his. Squeezes.

“You look so like him," Kyungsoo bursts out, knowing this is stupid, but knowing that this just can’t be Jongin. He traces his thumb gently over the palm of the man’s hand, feeling that soft, familiar skin. His voice shakes. “You feel like him.” He takes a tiny little gasping breath and inhales through his nose, voice becoming fainter and fainter. “You even smell like him.”

Suddenly, the man pulls Kyungsoo into him for a tight embrace, arms wrapped around him, heart beating against his own and Kyungsoo just knows.

“Jongin," he whispers, pressing his face into Jongin’s shoulder and breathing him in one dizzying breath. “Jongin, thank God.”

“Kyungsoo. Kyungsoo. Kyungsookyungsookyungsookyungsoo," Jongin mumbles into his hair, the words eliding into one whisper of longing.

“You died," Kyungsoo whispers, accusation lacing his voice.

“You left," Jongin replies with an achingly soft, sad smile.

“I-” Kyungsoo swallows, turns away to look at the swaying, fraying poppies. “I couldn’t stay, Jongin. Not like that.” He moves away from Jongin’s embrace quickly, wiping his eyes and fortifying his invisible shield once more.

Unbreakable. Impenetrable. Unbearable.

Jongin’s eyes shutter, their dark, warm openness obscured by clouds of worry. “I understand.” He smiles, an ugly, mangled smile that doesn’t look anything like Jongin. “But I’m here, Kyungsoo. I’m alive. It doesn’t have to be like that.”

Kyungsoo pauses, looking at Jongin through the strands of sunlight that fall over his face. “It doesn’t matter.”

“When are you coming back, Kyungsoo?” Jongin says quietly. Deceptively so. Kyungsoo senses a fire of emotion burning behind those measured words. “I’m one recruit short.”

Kyungsoo swallows. “It’ll be easy to find someone else, I expect. Hundreds must be lining up to train with the famous General Kim.”

“Don’t call me that," Jongin just about gets out through gritted teeth, and they both stare at each other in the silence, shocked by the violence of his response. That’s Kyungsoo’s job. Jongin is supposed to be the controlled one, the strong one, the wise one, the kind one.

“Sorry. To train with the famous Kai-”

“Stop!” Jongin hisses, angry tears glazing his eyes. Kyungsoo’s never seen him like this, so desperate, so out-of-control.

“That’s your name," Kyungsoo replies, anger building in him. “That’s your name, for God’s sake, Jongin!”

“Not to you," Jongin mutters, throat clenching on the words. “I was never Kai to you.”

“What do you want from me, Jongin?” Kyungsoo exclaims, nails digging into his palms. “What do you want?”

Jongin lets out a sound that’s half-snort, half-laugh, barely human in the quiet summer air. He doesn’t bother saying anything. His words, unspoken, intangible, float on the humid air, and Kyungsoo can feel their kiss on his face. Soft, sweet, so very tempting.


“Listen, Jongin,” Kyungsoo starts, turning with a curse to face the parched flowers drying in the baking heat as his eyes start to mist over and his throat clenches on painful gulps of air, “I don’t…that is to say I can’t…”

“You won’t," Jongin interrupts him suddenly, eyes trained on his face like a hawk, interpreting every little movement Kyungsoo makes because, above everyone, above everything, Kim Jongin knows Do Kyungsoo. “It’s not that you can’t. Not at all. You just won’t.”

“I look out for myself," Kyungsoo shoots back, shoulders raised in a tense, defensive position, eyes keeping firmly from Jongin’s face. “Don’t you understand? I look out for myself. I have to. No one else is going to. I have me to look after me, and that’s my priority. Don’t you see?” He turns to Jongin now, face taut as he cruelly, slowly, deliberately delivers the last blow. “I’m not like you, Jongin. All I have is myself. I’m not risking that. My safety starts and ends with me and I am my top priority. That’s
how you survive. In the end, I’ve got to protect myself.”

“So you’re scared? That’s what you’re saying? Scared of what will happen, what they would do to you? To us? What’s the worst that could happen?” Jongin bites out, taking a step towards Kyungsoo as he lurches back. “Kyungsoo. It would happen to me too. You wouldn’t be alone in this.”

“You know what’s the worst that could happen!” Kyungsoo shakes his head, gathering his arms around himself, though he knows they do nothing to shield his chest from these blows. “God! Are you stupid? You know what people could do. And, unlike you, I don’t have the luxury to protect myself. To hide away with my money. To get someone in the palace to save me. Top palace guard, top general? You’d live through the scandal. Sure, your reputation would be dented. Sure, you’d need to hide away for a while. Sure, it wouldn’t be easy. But me?” He takes a moment to stop, breathe, look in Jongin’s eyes which tell him to stop, stop, stop. “I wouldn’t be so lucky. Do you think they’d hesitate? A street rat? A monster? A freak of nature? No, Jongin. I have to save myself.”

“So we’ll be secret. So we’ll hide. So we’ll-”

“We’ll what, Jongin? We’ll work something out? We’ll try our best? You’re not thinking straight," Kyungsoo pauses, a bitter smile coating his lips. “It sounds like a fairy tale.”


“I won’t put myself at risk. Not like this, Jongin.”


Words stick in Kyungsoo’s throat as he blindly salutes amidst the tears building in his eyes. Here he is again, unable to say goodbye, unable to stay silent. “That is all, Sir.”

“And what are you going to do?” Jongin asks, his face ugly with fear and anger and sad, sad longing. “Huh, Soo? What are you going to do now?”

Kyungsoo smiles though his cheeks hurt and his eyes burn. “What do you think? What I did before you, what I’ll do after. What I always do. Survive. I’m good at that.”

Jongin just looks at him slowly, silently, eyes filtering through layers of repression and defences until his gaze seems to rest right at the very heart of Kyungsoo.

“I won’t be dead," Kyungsoo says with a faint smile, the bitter joke sounding harsh and flat in the silent air. “At least there’s that.”

“Yes," Jongin agrees, reaching out his hand as if to touch Kyungsoo’s, before thinking better of it and drawing back. “You won’t be dead. But you won’t be alive either.”

And when he finally walks away, eyes wet with unshed tears, the slight limp marring his usually graceful gait, Kyungsoo crushes a drooping poppy flower between his fingers and wonders when this murderous, drying summer will end.

Somehow, Kyungsoo’s body stops feeling like his own. He doesn’t know quite when it happened – whether this feeling of dislocation, dissociation has been building for a long, long while or whether perhaps he’s always felt it deep within his bones – but he knows that when he looks at his calloused, roughened hands, they don’t look like his own.

His feet, leaden with tiredness, blur into the grass in a bloody mess as he stares and tries to remember that they are his, an extension of his body. With his left hand, he holds his right arm by the elbow, the weight dangling heavily in his grasp as he tries to will feeling into his shoulder, his wrist, his aching joints. Crabbed, curled fingers reach up to skim over his bruised face as Kyungsoo tries to relearn his own face.

It all feels distant, though, as if Kyungsoo is trapped at the bottom of a lake and he can see his body vaguely through the distortion of the water. Foreign. Unknowable.
Gripping his hand over his steadily beating heart, Kyungsoo wills his fingers to feel the heat from his chest, for his brain to count along to rhythm, for his mind to tell him this is who he is.

Nothing. A throbbing headache sets itself up in his head and his hand pushes down on his chest in a move that’s one shade too painful as this stranger’s body envelops him.

A man, taller and older than Kyungsoo, starts circling him, observing him, before throwing down some dirty coins in a pile at his feet. The man’s mouth quirks up. “You game?”

Kyungsoo looks down at the money, fist curling around a handful of gold coins as he scatters them to the floor. His lip curls. “Free combat. One on one. First to hold their opponent to the ground for ten seconds wins.”

The man nods sharply before their eyes meet in a flash and Kyungsoo throws the first punch.

He remembers little of the next moments: he remembers only the haze descending upon him as he lands the first punch on the man’s cold skin until he looks down and the man is beneath him, face bloody and arms pinned helplessly.

Kyungsoo holds the man for ten seconds, and a good five longer just to be sure before springing up and wiping the blood from his mouth. His hands tingle but he feels no pain in this stranger’s body.

The man spits at Kyungsoo’s feet as he heaves himself up, clutching his stomach.
Drawing himself up as high as possible, he regards Kyungsoo unblinkingly.

“Aren’t you going to collect your winnings?” The man says, eyes flicking to the pile of coins lying a foot or so away.

Kyungsoo jolts as if awoken from a dream. He’d forgotten the money. Hell, he’d forgotten everything over that red, dead haze.

The man looks at him, confused and a little wary. “You’re not like the others.”

Kyungsoo turns to grab the money, dropping it in his pocket and waiting for the cold feeling in his gut to subside. You’re not like the others. He clenches his fists until they’re white, waiting to feel the pain that does not come.

Kyungsoo wonders if pain will bring it all back to him. If fear, if the adrenaline rush of fighting will somehow make him feel again.

Sometimes, there are flashes. When he’s fighting someone much bigger, stronger, angrier than himself, when it looks like for a moment, he’s going to be beaten. Then, he feels a flash of pain and he almost cries out because this is it, this is what it means to be human, to be Kyungsoo again.

But then, it goes. Like a summer storm, it passes all too soon as he’s left distant from his body again, looking down on it as if from above.

So he tries harder. If anything, he’s not a quitter, Kyungsoo tells himself as a gang leader pummels his face and he brings him to the floor in a hard sweep of his leg. If he fights hard enough, then maybe it will all come back to him.

He’s starting to develop a reputation on the streets for his cold, detached mentality, for his brutal blows. Kyungsoo wishes they knew that this wasn’t him, that he didn’t know what happened during those heated minutes of fighting, that the veil came down and he was gone to the world.

That doesn’t matter, though. Not on the street. Here, it’s all about existing and fighting and forcing yourself through day after bloody day.

Today, it’s a boy. Kyungsoo doesn’t usually notice who his opponents are - it’s easier not to know - but this child is so small that he can’t be much older than fourteen summers. Kyungsoo’s seen him with his friends before, talking, laughing, watching Kyungsoo fight.

The boy drops a pile of coins in front of him, looking up at Kyungsoo expectantly. Kyungsoo raises an eyebrow, matching the amount easily as they move to the centre of the street.

Shivering, the boy puts his fists up, blinking nervously, and suddenly, it’s Seungsoo standing there. Seungsoo, with his wide trusting eyes and free laugh as Kyungsoo chases him down the street. It’s Seungsoo standing there with shaking fists, and then it’s Joonyoung, swallowing against his tears. Chanyeol, his legs wobbling as he stares defiantly forward until finally the boy merges into Jongin. Jongin, standing with a brave smile, and trusting eyes, waiting for Kyungsoo to make the first move.

The world narrows, as if Kyungsoo is being pushed through a thin tube, and then widens again in a shock of awareness that nearly floors him.

“No,” he hears his voice say as the crowd quiets to a shocked hush around him and the boy stares at him with blazing eyes.

“I rescind my challenge,” Kyungsoo says, walking forward to claim his coins and toss the boy’s to him.

“Is it because you think I’m too weak?” The boy demands, shaking with anger and youthful pride. Oh, how Kyungsoo remembers those feelings.

“No," he says honestly, wondering why he cares what this boy thinks. Wondering how his fingers are coming back to him slowly, pinpricks up and down their length. Wondering why his mind is starting to reconnect with his body. “You’re not weak. You just need to be trained.”

The boy says nothing, staring at Kyungsoo before gritting his teeth and clearly burying his pride. “Would you train me? I’ll pay.”

The words hit Kyungsoo like a stinging slap. Him? Teach this boy? Does the boy not know who he is? What he is? How can he corrupt one so young and innocent?

“I can ask someone else.” The boy says flatly when Kyungsoo doesn’t reply, turning to leave. Kyungsoo wants to refuse him, he really does, but all he can see is Seungsoo begging to be trained. Seungsoo begging to learn how to protect himself. Seungsoo might not be around for Kyungsoo to protect anymore, but this boy is, and maybe Kyungsoo can finally do something good.

“Stop," Kyungsoo says quietly, his voice full of authority. The boy stops, turns. “I’m Kyungsoo.”

“Minhyun,” the boy replies, holding his hand out for Kyungsoo to shake. “Do we have a deal?”

“Anyone who holds their fists like that needs to be trained,” Kyungsoo murmurs under his breath, shaking the boy’s hand and cursing himself for being an idiot.

By the next day, when Kyungsoo’s scheduled to meet Minhyun, he’s already talked himself out of this ridiculous training idea. The idea of someone like him teaching a kid is unthinkable. If the kid was Seungsoo, maybe he could do it. Maybe he could teach his baby brother to defend himself, because that’s what big brothers did. But this kid? He shouldn’t be here, first of all, amongst all this blood and dust. Kyungsoo owes it to Minhyun to save him from this hellhole.

But whatever Kyungsoo might be, he never breaks a promise, so he arrives at the meeting place a little early. It’s a shady alleyway, quiet and private, far off the main road. When Kyungsoo peers down it, he sees Minhyun’s small figure bobbing away at the end, punching in the air in some kind of wild drill which will get him killed if he tries it on anyone slightly bigger, older, or crueler than him.

From this distance, the kid looks just like Seungsoo (Kyungsoo’s eyesight has never been the best) and his heart lurches as he stumbles a few steps forward. It’s not that which makes him close the remaining distance between them, though. It’s not the idea that it’s his little brother down there, trying to fight a world that he’s too young to face.

It’s the image of Minhyun swinging an enthusiastic roundhouse kick which sends him sprawling to the floor, a move which would get him killed in any of the more deadly knockout matches in these ringside arenas. Enough. Enough.

“We’ve got a lot of work to do," Kyungsoo calls, keeping his voice and footsteps deceptively light as he walks towards the boy.

Minhyun scowls, but then a small smile passes his lips as he looks up at Kyungsoo. “You came.”

“Of course. A gentleman never breaks his promises," Kyungsoo says, arching his eyebrow as he adopts a fancified accent.

Minhyun giggles despite himself, and Kyungsoo sees Seungsoo flit across his features. “We’re not gentlemen.”

“Still,” Kyungsoo says, sweeping an elegant bow to the boy, “we must keep up appearances.”

The kid shrugs.

“Why did you want to meet in this godforsaken alley?” Kyungsoo asks, peering around and assessing the danger. He wouldn’t have thought twice about venturing down here alone, but Minhyun…

The boy quiets, blushing quietly. “I’m not very good yet. I didn’t want people to see.”

“I can find somewhere else,” Kyungsoo says a little too harshly, pushing Minhyun out of the alley. “Somewhere private. It’s not safe down here.”

“But you’re here,” Minhyun says with confusion, staring at Kyungsoo. “You can take anyone on. You’re Do Kyungsoo.”

“It’s not me I’m worried about,” Kyungsoo mutters, but Minhyun catches it because a flash of surprise passes over his face.

“I wouldn’t be worried, either,” Minhyun says softly, looking at Kyungsoo with such quiet faith that he suddenly remembers what it is to protect someone. To have someone rely on you. To have someone trust you with their life.

“We’re moving," Kyungsoo says brusquely, pushing Minhyun up the street. It isn’t always good to remember.

Minhyun’s a surprisingly fast learner once Kyungsoo lays down the basics. He runs through how to tuck his thumb outside his fist, the right stance, power and agility, and in only a few practices, the kid is doing well.

After an hour or so, he starts to look tired, so Kyungsoo starts wrapping up the lesson.

“Here’s the payment,” Minhyun says confidently, pulling himself up to his full height as he scatters coins onto Kyungsoo’s palm.

“You can pay me once all the sessions have finished,” Kyungsoo replies, handing him back the coins. God knows where he stole them from, and while Kyungsoo is not a wealthy man, he’s pretty sure the kid needs them more than he does.

For a second, Kyungsoo sees the fight rise in Minhyun’s eyes, but then his face drops into a small, grateful smile as he nods and moves to turn away. “Thanks, hyung,” he says quietly, before walking away down the dusty street.

Hyung. It’s been so long since he’s heard that word. A slow, reluctant smile spreads over his face as it warms him from the inside out.

“Get home safely, kid!” He shouts after Minhyun, as he makes his own way home.

And doesn’t stop smiling the whole way.

“Where are you going?” Kyungsoo asks after the next session, when Minhyun starts to slip off down the street towards the dry, grassy areas where no-one lives. “It’s getting late, kid. Go home.”

“I’m going for a walk with some friends,” Minhyun mumbles, not making eye contact with Kyungsoo. “I’ll go home after.”

“Why do I get the feeling you’re lying?” Kyungsoo says, a terrible coldness spreading over him.

“Maybe you should be more trusting.” Minhyun mutters under his breath, trying to turn away.

Kyungsoo stops him with one word, his voice growing quiet and dangerous in the falling twilight. “Minhyun.”

“Hyung, I’ll be safe.” Mihyun wheedles, looking anywhere but Kyungsoo’s face as he turns around.

“I’ll walk you home,” Kyungsoo say firmly, voice brooking no argument.

Minhyun is silent for the first few streets they cross, but eventually he bursts out. “Don’t make me go home!”

Kyungsoo turns to Minhyun, hairs on the back of his neck sticking up. “Why, Minhyun?”

Minhyun swallows, looking at the ground. “I don’t get on with my family. Please. I’ll sleep under the trees in that big field again. My friends are with me. We’ll be safe.”

Kyungsoo feels anger rising in him like hot fire, hands clenching into fists. “You slept under the trees? For how long?”

“Only a few days,” Minhyun says desperately, biting his lip. “Hyung, I-”

“Do you have any idea how dangerous that is?” Kyungsoo explodes, glaring at Minhyun as the rage damn near rattles his teeth. Reaching down, he grabs Minhyun’s arm. He shouldn’t get involved. He knows he shouldn’t. It’s not his business, and Minhyun should talk to his parents himself, but somehow he can’t leave this boy alone, vulnerable like this. Not this child. Not any child.

“Where are we going?” Minhyun asks as Kyungsoo yanks him down another street.

“You’re staying here tonight,” Kyungsoo says through gritted teeth as he goes to his accommodation for the night and explains to the family that Minhyun will be taking his place for the night.

“They’ll look after you, so stay put," he says gruffly once he’s rolled out a mattress and paid for a meal for the boy.

Minhyun looks like he’s going to argue for a second, but then he just nods and starts eating his meal.

Kyungsoo sighs heavily, before turning to leave, his shoulders slumping.

“Hyung?” He hears from the door, turning to see Minhyun watching him. “Where are you sleeping tonight?”

“Don’t worry about me,” Kyungsoo murmurs, softening at the worry in Minhyun’s voice. “You’ll be safe here. I’ve got to arrange some things. I’ll be back tomorrow morning.”

“Oh,” Minhyun says softly, looking at Kyungsoo with a mix of admiration and gratitude which makes Kyungsoo feel that maybe, just maybe he could be a good man. Good men are still human. “Thank you, hyung.”

Kyungsoo smiles as he walks out of the door, heart lighter than it has been in years. They make mistakes.

The house looks much the same as Kyungsoo walks up to it. The paint is yellowing and chipping in places, and it’s crumbling further in on itself, but it’s still the same house.

Kyungsoo knocks twice, heart thumping as he waits for those familiar footsteps.

The door swings open, and, before he knows it, he’s pulled into a tight hug.

“Kyungsoo! Can that be my Kyungsoo?”

“Auntie,” Kyungsoo whispers into the embrace, feeling home and comfort wash over him in warm waves.

“You’re home!” She declares, breaking away from the hug to hold his face in her hands, scrutinising him. “Thinner than I’d like, but I’m going to feed you up anyway. I suppose you haven’t eaten yet.”

“I can pay for-” Kyungsoo starts, but Auntie is dragging him inside the house in one quick move.

“Don’t you dare insult me by suggesting that, Do Kyungsoo!” She frowns, heaping a plate with food and placing it before him as he sits cross-legged on the floor.

She lets him eat in silence, hungrily wolfing down the food as she regards him fondly.

“Now, that’s better,” she says when he’s finished, smiling at his clean plate. “I heard you were training with the palace guards. The Byuns’ son came back from the camp. Said he saw you there. Defended a General during a night raid.” Her voice radiates pride, and he doesn’t have the heart to tell her that’s not exactly how it happened. “Are you back for a visit?”

“I left, Auntie. I just had to,” Kyungsoo says quietly, not meeting her gaze.

“I see,” she replies softly, and Kyungsoo looks up, not detecting any anger or disappointment in her kind, accepting round face. “Your mother would be so proud.”

“Have you heard from her?” Kyungsoo breaks in urgently, scanning Auntie’s face for any bad news. “Seungsoo?”

Her expression drops, disappointment colouring her eyes. “No. I’m sorry. When the time is right-”

“We will meet again,” Kyungsoo finishes, resigned. “I know, Auntie. I know.”

“Knowing you, this can’t just be a social call, can it?” she says with a smile, settling down on the floor opposite him.

Kyungsoo flashes her a grateful smile. “There’s a boy. Fourteen winters at most. Minhyun.”

“The Kangs’ boy,” she nods, face wrinkling in an expression of disgust. “Not good people, I’m afraid.”

“That’s exactly it. The kid doesn’t get on with his parents. Staying under some damn tree. I gave him my accommodation tonight, but I wondered if…”

“Of course he can stay here,” Auntie says simply, definitely, smiling at him. “And don’t even think about paying me.”

“Thank you,” Kyungsoo says fervently, taking her hand and squeezing it. “Thank you. I’m training him to defend himself, so I’ll pick him up in the morning. He’s quick, and strong, and can do any work you need.”

Auntie is silent for a few long seconds, looking at Kyungsoo until a smile spreads over his kind features. “You’re a good man, Do Kyungsoo. One of the best.”

For once, his first thought isn’t to protest. The thought still lies in the back of his mind, tormenting him with words like monster and freak, but it doesn’t overtake his whole mind anymore. The compliment makes him heart feel that little bit bigger and his smile that little bit wider. But this woman understands him more than almost anyone in the world, and so it’s easy for the next words to flick off his tongue. “I think I could be. I have been. But I’ve lost my way.”

Those kind eyes turn perceptive as they stare into Kyungsoo’s. “Did you find it again?”

“I think I’m starting to,” Kyungsoo whispers slowly, the truth of the words only hitting him as they leave his mouth.

“Good men still make mistakes,” she says, echoing Chanyeol’s words, and Kyungsoo starts to think they might just be true. “It’s not how you lose your way. It’s how you find your way back.”

For the first time in weeks, Kyungsoo thinks of Jongin again, of that easy smile, of that warmth spreading through him. For once, the chorus in his head is silent, and Kyungsoo falls asleep smiling.

Minhyun fits into Auntie’s family like a missing cog in a wheel. To her, he’s the son she always wanted. To him, she’s a mother he can trust. To Kyungsoo, he’d forgotten how it was to feel so damn happy.

The lessons continue, and Minhyun gets better and better until he can almost fell Kyungsoo. Auntie’s secured him a job harvesting from the fields as summer comes to an end, so he doesn’t need this training anymore, but Kyungsoo relishes seeing his improvement and knowing that he’s safer and safer each day.

Finally, Kyungsoo’s money starts to run out, and he can’t live off Auntie’s hospitality any longer. Sniffing about him leaving her again, she gets him a job harvesting elsewhere, and tells him not to dare coming back to her all beaten and bloody from another street fight.

After accepting her long, tight hug (he would never admit it aloud, but he loves the sanctuary of her arms), he goes to find Minhyun to say goodbye.

“I’m off, kid," he says lightly when he finds the boy playing with some new friends in the street. Kyungsoo notices Auntie’s daughter, now Minhyun’s age, watch the boy with curiosity and a little wistfulness, his smile turning wide.

Minhyun stops his game, running over to look up at Kyungsoo. “When are you coming back, hyung? Tomorrow morning?”

Kyungsoo’s heart twists painfully, trying to squeeze out a smile as he ruffles the hair of his new little brother. “I’m not living here anymore, Minhyun. I’m going to work somewhere else for a little while, to live away from you so Auntie can have some space. I’ll come back all the time, though.”

Minhyun’s face falls. “You can have my bed, hyung. Auntie doesn’t need anymore space, I can just sleep on the floor…”

“I’ve got to go, kid," Kyungsoo says quietly, squatting down so he’s at Minhyun’s level. “You’re the man of the house now, got it? You’ve got to use what I’ve taught you to protect yourself, and Auntie, and Bona. Got it?”

Minhyun’s cheeks go slightly red at the mention of Bona’s name and Kyungsoo wonders if Auntie’s already fantasising about weddings. He smiles, pulls Minhyun into a brief hug, and turns to go.

“Minhyun…” He turns back for a second, looking at the boy he now considers a brother and feeling his full heart aching a little. “Can I ask you something?”

“Anything.” Minhyun says quickly, looking eagerly at Kyungsoo. Desperate to help his hyung as ever.

“If you ever see…” Kyungsoo starts, his voice cracking in the middle. Before he changes his mind, he blurts out the rest. “If you ever see a man. A bit older than you. Around 20. Tall. Who looks like me. Called Seungsoo. If you ever see him, Minhyun...Or a woman he might be with...If they ask for me…you’ll find me, won’t you?”

“Of course,” Minhyun replies without hesitation and Kyungsoo’s heart skips a little beat, “But why, hyung?”

“Because they’re my family,” Kyungsoo says, refusing to let the tears glistening in his eyes fall. “And because the time is right, now. The time is right.”

And so it goes on. Day after day, it goes on.

Kyungsoo works, eats, sleeps. Goes home every spare moment to see Auntie and Minhyun. Works, eats, sleeps some more.

It might be tiring, it might be frustrating, but Kyungsoo is never anything less than grateful for it, every single day, because his fists are clean and his face is bruise-free and the hollow, angry feeling in his chest has mellowed into warmth and contentedness.

But it all changes when he’s working one hot day as the summer starts to tail off into a gentle fall. He’s working on the field when he hears footsteps patter closer to him and suddenly Minhyun is tugging on his hand. Which can only mean…

“They’re here?” Kyungsoo gasps, tearing off his gloves and staring at Minhyun wildly as he looks around. “Seungsoo? Mom?”

“Not them, hyung,” Minhyun says, breathing heavily from his run. “I’m sorry. Auntie told me not to come but he seemed so persistent.”

“He?” Kyungsoo asks, vision blurring as his fingers start to shake. “Who?”

“He didn’t say his name. Said he was looking for you. I didn’t want to tell him where you are but he wouldn’t give up. Said he had something to give an old friend. A book.”

Kyungsoo stands up, swaying slightly as his gaze focuses on Minhyun. “Where is he?”

“I told him to wait by the big tree. The one I used to sleep under. So you could meet him.” Minhyun says, eyes intent on Kyungsoo. “Did I do right, hyung?”

“You did more than right, little brother," Kyungsoo says, pulling Minhyun into a tight hug. “Run home now. You know the way? Tell Auntie I’ll come by later.”

“Who is he, hyung?” Minhyun asks, still a little breathless.

“I don’t know, Minhyun. An old friend, I think. I hope. Go now," he urges, throwing down his tools as he heads for the tree, heart jumping in his chest.

Kyungsoo smells him before he sees him, inhales that intoxicating scent of home and knows. Just knows.

“Jongin,” he gasps, crushing the man into a tight, tight hug as he inhales his scent and re-learns the texture of his skin. “Thank God, Jongin. How did you…? When did you…? God, I didn’t know…”

Jongin smiles at him, holding him gently, reverently at the waist as he looks down at him. “Some mouthy recruit called Park couldn’t shut up about you. It was all over the camp how you started beating anything with a pulse. How you saved a little boy.”

“Chanyeol,” Kyungsoo says with a smile, heart missing the tall man with a sudden pang.

“You’ve got a lot of loyal supporters back at the camp," Jongin says quietly, eyes sliding to watch Kyungsoo’s expressions. “They know what a good man you are.”

“Are you one of them?” Kyungsoo replies softly, curling Jongin’s shirt inside his fist.

“Are you?” Jongin counters, looking at Kyungsoo like he knows him, and Kyungsoo suddenly realises that he does. That, before Kyungsoo knew himself, Jongin did too. He can barely breathe, staring at Jongin as the moment hangs in time, suspended, lifted, held up by the warm summer air and the kiss of Jongin’s eyes on Kyungsoo’s beaten skin.

“Yes,” he states firmly, surprising himself at the simplicity of the answer, at its truthful core. “I think I am.”

Jongin’s smile, fleeting at first, grows and grows until it fills his whole face.

“I’d like to kiss you now," Jongin murmurs ever-so-softly, and Kyungsoo forgets how to breathe for one tiny, glorious second.

Kyungsoo inches closer until he can feel the warmth of Jongin’s breath and can smell the dizzying scent of home.

“God, you’re something else,” Jongin whispers on an exhale, before fitting their lips together, consequences be damned.

Kyungsoo breaks the kiss for one moment to smile up at Jongin, bracketing his hands at Jongin’s slim waist. “Not bad for a pretty boy.”

Jongin rolls his eyes, pinching Kyungsoo’s waist as he edges closer and rubs their noses together softly. “The boy - Minhyun. He thought I could be your brother coming home.”

He doesn’t push, doesn’t ask any questions, and it’s for exactly those reasons that Kyungsoo feels his heart open further. “My family...They don’t live here anymore. They moved. Out South. I haven’t seen them in five years.”

“Where? Do you know?”

“I’ve got an address somewhere,” Kyungsoo mumbles, looking at Jongin as he feels his heart lurch. “But they’re probably gone. There’s no point--” Kyungsoo breaks off as he stares at Jongin, lacing their fingers together. “In my family, we have a saying. When the time is right, we will meet again.”

“Bullshit,” Jongin fires back, and Kyungsoo recoils suddenly. “Are you kidding me, Kyungsoo? Do you think if I waited for the time to be right, I’d be standing here right now? You can’t let fate do all the work. You’ve got to help it along sometimes.”

“But it’ll be hard,” Kyungsoo starts, anxiety building in his chest as he looks at Jongin, his Jongin, skin turning to gold under the setting sun. “It’ll be hard and I might not find them and…”

You might not find them?” Jongin quirks his head. “We might not find them, that’s true. But how we will know if we don’t try?”


“If you want me,” Jongin says, pressing a soft kiss to Kyungsoo’s collarbone as he smiles and Kyungsoo forgets what it’s like to be cold, “you’ve got me, Kyungsoo.”

“I want you,” Kyungsoo whispers, fingers tracing Jongin’s jaw. “Oh, I want you. But I’m scared.”

“I know,” Jongin says simply. “And you don’t have to do anything you don’t want to. But I thought you could take on any challenge, and beat it," he teases with a smile, echoing some of the very first words he said to Kyungsoo as his eyes spark with provocation.

Kyungsoo grins, loving how Jongin always seems to know what to say. “You’re on, pretty boy.”

“That’s sir to you,” Jongin whispers against his lips as the poppies, bowing under the weight of the recent rainfall, dip their crimson skirts to the sundering sun and he kisses Kyungsoo again and again and again.

One | Two | Three | Four

Page 1 of 2 << [1] [2] >>

Date: 2016-08-30 01:15 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sugarcookies98.livejournal.com
This... this is one of the more beautiful fics ive read in a while. The whole moral of the story way very touching and it tell a lot about how people are a lot more than just their actions. I really liked the line about how its not about how hard you fell, but how hard you fought to get back up. Thanks so much for sharing!!

Date: 2016-09-25 07:34 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you for reading and commenting!!

Date: 2016-08-30 03:24 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] anaverageme.livejournal.com
Oh my goodness. Oh my goodness. Holy shit. This so was so good. Like seriously. Goddamn we have some talented people in this fandom. Everything about was amazing, and I loved the way kyungsoo had to first find and accept himself in order to accept love, especially jongin's love. As per usual I'm in love with the side characters, I need a minhyun-to-my-bona and I wish auntie was my auntie. I'm really impressed with the action scenes as well, and I don't have to be a writer to know that fighting scenes can be a bitch to write. Keep doing you author-nim, because it's amazing.
Anaverageme (and you're new biggest fan)

Date: 2016-09-25 07:35 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you so much!!! all the side characters were a last minute addition to flesh out the ending so i'm so glad everyone loved them so much! also, i found the fighting scenes so hard to write hahahah i watched lots of videos of martial arts and kinda based the training on Mulan :') you're the sweetest!!

Date: 2016-08-30 11:35 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I love this so much that's all my mind kept repeating while reading this like I had to take mini breaks to just deal with how good this fic was and how it made my heart squeeze you have a way with words author you are blessed so thank you very much for writing and sharing this wonderful story with us

Date: 2016-09-25 07:39 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
awww this comment was so lovely :)))) thank you so much!

Date: 2016-08-30 01:27 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ddoublejjong.livejournal.com
This story is filled with so much rawness I'm absolutely sold. This is the first story O've read whereby the characters emotions have been so raw throughout the entire story and as a reader, the rawness and genuineness of their emotions really affected me and made me feel/empathise a lot. This story is truly well written and the atmosphere is always very clear like how the tensions is super high for some parts or how certain parts are really chill although throughout the entire story, even at the more chill parts, there is always this tension there; as though representing Kyungsoo's tension throughout the story which is only gone when he finally finally reunites with Jongin at the end.

"Good men are still humans. Good men makes mistake. It just makes them real. " “Good men still makes mistakes. It’s not how you lose your way. It’s how you find your way back.” These lines are so so meaningful and impactful you have no idea. They are so much more then they seem to be.

And I also really like Minhyun's character here. To some extent, I feel that how Kyungsoo took care of Minhyun represented the underlying want and need to see his family, no matter how he brushes it off. The fact the Minhyun was the one that pulled him back to ground, grounded him and was basically the start of Kyungsoo's starting his life anew really highlighted that too.

This story really made me cry instead or just tearing up or light sobbing. This is really something special. There's just something about the way you wrote that really nailed the emotions here. It’s so amazing; I haven't read anything like this before. Thank you so much for the story!!♡

Date: 2016-09-25 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
this comment made me so happy when i first saw it ;;;;; thank you so much! the rawness was so important to me because i wanted the fic to be realer than anything i've ever written as i put a lot of my own emotion into it so i'm so glad that came across <3

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] ddoublejjong.livejournal.com - Date: 2016-09-27 05:21 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2016-08-30 02:22 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
Im dying i love this so much let me die in peace now crIES this is beautiful <3

Date: 2016-09-25 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
im dying i love you so much thank you <333

Date: 2016-08-30 02:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ddoublejjong.livejournal.com
This story is filled with so much rawness I'm absolutely sold. This is the first story O've read whereby the characters emotions have been so raw throughout the entire story and as a reader, the rawness and genuineness of their emotions really affected me and made me feel/empathise a lot. This story is truly well written and the atmosphere is always very clear like how the tensions is super high for some parts or how certain parts are really chill although throughout the entire story, even at the more chill parts, there is always this tension there; as though representing Kyungsoo's tension throughout the story which is only gone when he finally finally reunites with Jongin at the end.

"Good men are still humans. Good men makes mistake. It just makes them real. " “Good men still makes mistakes. It’s not how you lose your way. It’s how you find your way back.” These lines are so so meaningful and impactful you have no idea. They are so much more then they seem to be.

And I also really like Minhyun's character here. To some extent, I feel that how Kyungsoo took care of Minhyun represented the underlying want and need to see his family, no matter how he brushes it off. The fact the Minhyun was the one that pulled him back to ground, grounded him and was basically the start of Kyungsoo's starting his life anew really highlighted that too.

This story really made me cry instead or just tearing up or light sobbing. This is really something special. There's just something about the way you wrote that really nailed the emotions here. It’s so amazing; I haven't read anything like this before. Thank you so much for the story!!♡

Date: 2016-08-30 03:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] darkreminisce.livejournal.com
this touched my heart in every way possible, oh god this is such a beautiful story, very beautiful, im glad to have read this
i adore kyungsoo and jongin so much, every line reveals another layer within them and its hard not to fall in love with them
kyungsoo has grown from someone who had always pushed help away to one who receives it, i love how he surprised me with his actions like how jongin's were for him
it hurt me so bad that soo pushed jongin away so many times, but those can't be compared to when he was practically shouting to wake jongin up, my eyes were pouring
and the moments with minhyun were so precious!!!
i love how their relationship developed from fighting at their first meeting, to practicing late at night, and to soo finding himself and loving jongin
i love the way you wrote the fight scenes as well - impactful
this story holds a special place in my heart, this was extremely well-written, thank you so much ♥ ♥ ♥

Date: 2016-09-25 07:41 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you so much! it really means a lot!

Date: 2016-08-30 07:03 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] ineedadance.livejournal.com
This was so great!!! So much character development in Kyungsoo I walked away feeling proud of him! And I loved the gradual shift in the dynamic of their relationship, from a fierce competitiveness to something warmer and warmer. Wonderful work, thanks for writing!

Date: 2016-09-25 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you so very much <333

Date: 2016-08-30 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] thecrownless12.livejournal.com
Kyungsoo doesn’t say anything as he repeats the General’s name over and over in his head. Kai. Kai. Kai. Like an incomplete heartbeat, it stutters: disjointed, incomplete, wrong.

sosososososos good. I don't even know where to start. Everything about it was...amazing and your use of metaphors. alkdjflaksjdfalsdf.

Date: 2016-09-25 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
awww i'm so glad you liked it thank you so much!!

Date: 2016-08-31 11:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kai d.o (from livejournal.com)
this is breathtaking. thank you for writing!!!

Date: 2016-09-25 07:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you for reading and commenting!

Date: 2016-08-31 06:37 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] hojichadust.livejournal.com
i literally can't believe that people aren't all over this rn like i am actually personally offended on behalf of this fic

OKAY FIRST THINGS FIRST im a total sucker for historical aus like my nerdy hoe ass could read these for days but you!!!! you fucking NAILED THIS like this isn't just some "gotta write this headcannon" fic like this is an actual real work of art!! you put so much attention into the world and the characters and their interactions and it's like holy fuck i really feel like im in a military camp from the 1940s or something

but the thing that gets me the most, really really gets me, is how accurately you portrayed the homophobia for this time period. like sometimes people are just like "AU WHOO" and leave it at that but you literally did not leave any inconsistencies whatsoever you knew your shit and the way kyungsoo felt about himself and his feelings towards jongin was so so realistic i was literally in so much awe like wow this author really fucking gets it it's like they were with the times when it was actually happening LMAO

anyways i loved this so much your universe was so rich and your characters really deep and multi-dimensional and i really can't get over how wonderful a job you did with this im literally so fucking pumped to know who wrote this im ready for dEATH

Date: 2016-09-25 07:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com

seriously though this comment was so nice when i first saw it and i was like this girl seems so cool and then i met you and i was like yessss she is as nice as i thought and i love this comment i love this fic i'm glad you love it too

Date: 2016-08-31 10:36 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

thank you so much to the author for this masterpiece. I'VE READ THIS TWICE ALREADY GUESS WHAT I'LL BE DOING TONIGHT AS WELL ;D

Date: 2016-09-25 07:44 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com

Date: 2016-09-01 02:17 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketks.livejournal.com
FUCKIng SPOT holy shit author I'll be back i'm screaming
Edited Date: 2016-09-01 02:18 am (UTC)

Date: 2016-09-03 09:20 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] pocketks.livejournal.com
god, I love this. i love this, i love this, i love this, i love this ilovethis tilove thisss so much.

Everything about it hit me in the best way, in the most emotional ways. Even if a scene I was reading wasn't meant to be particularly sad, I still felt myself tearing up for many reasons, be it your amazing writing, or the overall message the scene was portraying, or just how authentic and genuine these characters were. The characters!!! Oh my god, kaisoo. Kyungsoo's inner conflicts were written BEAUTIFULLY. The talisman of the village girl, and your usage of repetition (ex. "Fiancee. Fiancee. God.") were really effective in making the reader know just ///how much/// Kyungsoo was conflicted. And I can't get over your beautiful writing!! The ways you describe Jongin, how he smells, how much Kyungsoo wants to kiss him at times, ahhh, I'm so in awe.

I can't find a single flaw, I'm weeping, I love this so much & am very emotional ahh. I LOVE chansoo's relationship oh god, Chanyeol was such a sweetheart.

I love the way kaisoo fell in love, over those nights of training and talking and getting over their misunderstandings, bonding over that book. They were passionate and genuine, nothing bordering on cheesy, and yet still managing to make me scream and yell for them to be together. There are so many scenes I love from this fic!!! I love the first scene, of course, the intro, it sets up everything beautifully and their relationship is odd at first in a kind of defiant way but grows into this beautiful thing and okay Jongin's "I think you've done enough fighting, love" got me so ajfshbdfbsd AUTHOR.

I love Kyungsoo's growth near the end, when he finds happiness and a sort of peace for himself as he mentors Minhyun and Jongin finding him and OH GOD KYUNGSOO BEING WIDELY KNOWN AS A GOOD MAN BACK AT THE BARRACKS, BUT ESPECIALLY ACKNOWLEDGING IT HIMSELF, this is so important and beautiful and I'm in love!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

who are you, author...? I think I may have one or two guesses but I'm not sure... either way you deserve all the love for this absolute masterpiece, it's breathtaking, and stunning, and beautifully written and moved me so much. I'll be thinking about this for a long time. Thank you so much for the gorgeous read!!!

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com - Date: 2016-09-25 07:45 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2016-09-01 02:51 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
I'm commenting anonymously but i hope the author would know how in love i am with this fic.

I'm personally quite offended with the amount of comments this fic has because it deserves more recognition? Like come on you guys, let's give this more love, it deserves it, especially the author.

First of all, unique au, interesting plot, solid story line.

Second, probably my favorite of them all, the characterizations. I love love love your Kyungsoo. I can see him as someone strong yes, someone tough yes, but most of all I see him as fragile and vulnerable and insecure. He's in pain and the way the author portrayed that was flawless. Kyungsoo has so much anger in him during the first half of the story and he had the most development, IMO. He's probably my favorite character out of everyone. I felt his anger but even more so I felt his sadness? I just wanted to give him a hug and tell him everything was going to be okay. I'm gonna be honest and say that I'm quite tired of having similar Kyungsoos in fics these days, it's been awhile since I've read a fic that i genuinely enjoyed and connected with and this is one of them.

Jongin in this fic, ah I love the Jongin in this fic too. He was the perfect but flawless "knight" he came in, handsome, pretty boy, flaws and all and helped Kyungsoo become the person he's always been. Jongin was someone I admired and if only there were more of him irl, please thanks. I also liked his development and how he was so courageous throughout the entire fic, yes without a doubt he had his moments of vulnerability but it was also obvious that he was Kyungsoo's rock and he held both of them up until the latter finally learned how to stand on his own two feet. I love how Chanyeol described him when he's angry/ disappointed as well. Headcanon for Jongin is that he doesn't get easily angered but when he does it's like hell freezes over.

extra: I really liked Chanyeol in this too. He was a true friend, he was so charming and warm, his portrayal is one of my headcanons for yeol irl lol. same with Minhyun and Kyungsoo. The yeol-ksoo dynamic and the munhyun-ksoo dynamic was just too heartwarming but also realistic.

I loved the imagery, the writing, the characterizations and the dynamics of everyone, the rawness of the fic makes it even more beautiful. I don't even know what to say anymore, I just really enjoyed reading this a lot it was almost as if I was watching it play in front of me, thank you so much. I love you!

Date: 2016-09-01 02:54 am (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)

also just like the other commenter talked about, the portrayal of homophobia was done very well. My heart hurt for KS especially when "freak" echoed in his head and ahh, the poor baby.


(no subject)

From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com - Date: 2016-09-25 07:47 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2016-09-01 06:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sootea.livejournal.com
holy cannoli guacamole I Am Shook.
Oh god idek where to start?? First off can this be a movie? It has the absolute potential to become one and I'm just imagining the grimy streets, the noise of ppl gathered around ksoo as he fights, the voices of soldiers saluting their generals at the camp, the screen panning down to soo's grubby clothes and bloodied feet... Like uGh the visualssss. One of my fav movies is unleashed (that fight movie with jet li) and I kept referring to its aesthetic while reading.
This is so so beautiful and the talent put into this is incredible.
My favourite part was soo going to chanyeols home and meeting his girl. Completely broke my heart and it just showcased how lost ksoo was and how lonely :'( well at least my interpretation anyway haha.
But then I'm so glad he met minhyun and that finally allowed him to see himself as a good man wHICH YAS KSOO U A GOOD MAN MY PRECIOUS FETA CRUMB.
AND JONGINWNEJ. He was written so untouchable and prestigious yet so kind. I fell in love with him.
Obviously kaisoo's story isn't over yet and I love that because it just leaves It to the reader to perhaps imagine ksoo finally telling jongin why he's so afraid and maybe on their journey to find ksoo's family jongin can read soo his book :''') IM EMOTIONAL.
You painted kaisoo in a totally new way and I'm so so so in love with them!!!! this is going into my favourites gaaaaah I'm gonna print this out and soak it in a bath and lay in it for the rest of my life. LIKE THIS IS AMAZING I HOPE U UNDERSTAND THAT.
-sincerely an emo puff who's going to talk everyone's ear off about this soon.

Date: 2016-09-25 07:48 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
PAREZ I LOVE YOU honestly you are the nicest lets cuddle forever thank you so much!!!!!!!!!

Date: 2016-09-01 08:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nudaetelhu.livejournal.com
I am astounded. I don't think amazed even covers it, this is amazing. I don't know HOW this has SO LITTLE COMMENTS, but oh my god this is beautiful.

This is such a pure and raw form of slice of life. Throughout it all, I felt like I was looking through Kyungsoo's eyes. That I am covered in dirt, that I saw Jongin and fell in love, that I laughed with Chanyeol at the barracks with the other men.

Kyungsoo is such a beautiful and strong character. You feel for him, and you don't understand how his mind works, but at the same time you understand. Oh my god, Kyungsoo's character is so...human idk he's just amazing i love him i love him so much hes my baby my mochi-cheeked but iron fisted baby

Jongin sounds every bit airy as he is solid. I am completely sold on how he's so light and fluffy, but so vulnerable and steadfast as Jongin. Good heavens.

I really appreciate it when writers make side characters as lovable as the main, and oh my god. The side characters here, they make me so happy. They're such sweet characters. I wanna know the men's name, i wanna know chanyeol's family more, i wanna know about the auntie more

And Minhyun, Good god he was such a nice touch to the story. How Soo finds happiness in teaching his skills to a young boy, being reminded of his younger brother, instead of just Jongin alone- i love it SO MUCH IM LITERALLY GRIPPING MY BED RIGHT NOW OH MY GOD


Okay and the ending. I'm. He met Jongin predictably, and they're going on an adventure to find soo's parents oh god that's amazing I'm all up for thAT.

I really love how we could feel every frustration as well as love for these characters. You did rly well with the characters here and i love you so much for this. Thank you author, this is truly a masterpiece

Date: 2016-09-19 03:58 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nudaetelhu.livejournal.com
Im here just to say that i caNNOT MOVE ON OKAY BYE

(no subject)

From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com - Date: 2016-09-25 07:51 pm (UTC) - Expand


Date: 2016-09-01 12:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shrekaisoo.livejournal.com
/clears throat/


This story, THIS STORY RIGHT HERE, has got to be one of the most impactful pieces I’ve read in a HELLA long time. It amazes me that there is so much talent compacted into a single person… to be able to write like this… to draw pictures in my mind with your words… I can’t believe that you unleashed so much creativity and imagination in one story. It makes me feel like I’m reading so many stories at the one time and my mind can’t even take it, it’s really going to explode.


Your descriptions are incredible, it’s like I’m right there, like I can actually feel my knuckles bleed like you wrote Kyungsoo so well I literally feel like I’m in his shoes, I feel what he feels, think what he thinks, and of course, gets my heart shattered like he does. You’re truly incredible. I really, really admire and value the ability authors have to make readers FEEL the story instead of just reading it at face value (or a lil in depth but you’ve tipped me right in giRL). I LOVE the characterisation, of both the major and minor characters,,, everyone is written so well, ESPECIALLY Kyungsoo. I can't stress this enough, the amount of love I have for Kyungsoo here. I can’t believe how much he grew throughout the course of the story, and I could just see the change in him and I just felt like a proud mother you know? And Jongin is incredible? Boyfriend material??? He’s so lovely and kind and oh gosH find me a man like tAHt.
---- and characterisation is my favourite thing about any fic and boooooooooooiiiii you just scored yourself a 3281/10

like i don't think you understand, i am not just bald, i have been completely SCALPED. I absolutely suck at commentary, bc you've left me incoherent. i read this two night s ago and i can;t wait to read it agaiN and perhaps tattoo the whole thing on my back. jk. or am i.

fun fact, when i was reading this the first time i was like,,, wow,,, kyungsoo has so many layers to his personality anD THEN I THOUGHT OF SHREK I HATE MYSELF AHHA AND NOW I LOOK AT MY USERNAME AND I HATE MYSELF EVEN MORE fawjelhbg

I think the world needs to take a moment and admire your sheer talent, and obvious dedication. I can feel your entire heart and soul bared out for the world through every single word in this story, so i thank you sincerely for writing this. You are truly incredible. [You’re my new ultimate bias :)))]

“I think you've done enough fighting, love."

“…and he kisses Kyungsoo again and again and again.”

I have never been in love with a person, so I don’t know what that feels like exactly, but I have a feeling it comes close to how I feel about this fic (and you) :’)

After reveals I swear to heck I’m gonna eat your as– I mean, take you out on a nice date, get to know you, love and cherish you, buy you a taco :)


Date: 2016-09-04 07:37 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] shrekaisoo.livejournal.com




From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com - Date: 2016-09-25 07:53 pm (UTC) - Expand

Date: 2016-09-01 12:35 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
am i just supposed to move on from this i'm gonna sue, this was almost too beautiful

Date: 2016-09-25 07:54 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com

thank you <3

Date: 2016-09-01 02:43 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] convexxed.livejournal.com


Holy molly. I read this last night (but fell asleep afterwards oops) and I wanted to post a proper comment because this was just breathtaking. I swear, it was all so raw and beautifully written, it left me speechless. Okay, let me fangirl over this wonderful piece of pure art.

The man smiles again. Kyungsoo blinks, a slight tremor passing through him as he clenches his fist and wills himself to calm down, wondering why that one smile disconcerts him so. “It’s General Kim to you. And you would be?”


And then – not when he wins in front of his fellow recruits and generals, not when they applaud him like a king, not when the aching worry in his chest subsides for a glorious moment – only then, when General Kim laughs like that, does Kyungsoo finally smile.

))))))))))))))))))): MY BABIES

Like an incomplete heartbeat, it stutters: disjointed, incomplete, wrong.

This is so poetic holy shit I loved this so freaking damn much

“Maybe,” Chanyeol replies softly, playing with the deck of cards again, “but good men are still human, Kyungsoo. They make mistakes. They do wrong. Doesn’t make them bad. Just makes them real.”


Kyungsoo smells him before he sees him, inhales that intoxicating scent of home and knows. Just knows.


“That’s sir to you,” Jongin whispers against his lips as the poppies, bowing under the weight of the recent rainfall, dip their crimson skirts to the sundering sun and he kisses Kyungsoo again and again and again.

I WAS BAWLING MY EYES OUT AT THIS POINT AND SMILING AS WELL AND OH my lord, please allow me to regain my composure. Okay. No, but really... all I can say is that I absolutely loved this and how both Jongin and Kyungsoo struggled with their past and were somehow trying to make up for their mistakes and aaah my goodness, I wanted to give them both a bone crushing hug )))))))))):

I love you and your writing and this fic and I'm gonna shower you with confetti and cookies once the reveals come <3333

Date: 2016-09-25 07:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
THAISSSSSSSSSSSSS you are so nice i!!!! this comment made me so happy im so happy so lucky to be your love!!!!!!! <33333333

Date: 2016-09-01 02:50 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] w-anderingheart.livejournal.com

kaisoo's relationship here was absolutely precious. i like how the homophobia was handled, it felt very real and raw and just integrated into the characterizations SO well. I LOVE HOW JONGIN TREATS KYUNGSOO AND HOW HE KNOCKS DOWN KYUNGSOOS WALLS LIKE THATS MY KAISOO AESTHETIC~~~~ and the writing!!!!! im sobbing from how LOVELYYYY the writing is. this story has some of the best action sequences i've read in fic like DAMN. it was so cinematic!!! and just your prose, in general, is just wow. it's very romantic and smooth?? the figurative language???? shook me?? this was honestly 28k of jam-packed amazingness, what a gift ~ ♡

Date: 2016-09-25 07:57 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
krissssssssssss thank you so much!!!! you are incredible!!! i'm so grateful <3333333333333

Date: 2016-09-01 05:56 pm (UTC)
From: (Anonymous)
before i start, i have a feeling i know who wrote this and i really wish i could find the courage to speak to you off anon (but i couldn't either way because i wrote for this project as well and i don't want to give anything away ^^)

this story was absolutely mesmerizing and i honestly don't understand how this isn't everything every single reader is talking about.

first off; you writing, how do you write??? are you aware how gifted you are because apart from the amazing plot your writing is what made this story such a masterpiece. i can honestly say i've rarely read something that was so... effortless to read, every single sentence and every single word fit the scenes perfectly and i had to stop several times to wonder what kind of a genius mind is hiding behind all of this. when people ask me how i (sometimes) prefer fanfiction over "actual" novels, stories like this one are what i'll show them because seriously, this story caught my attention right from the first sentence and didn't let go until the very last one. the descriptions of the fighting scenes were spot on! it was almost like i was watching a movie because lol i imagined the moves in my head as i was reading because i love action movies and i'm lame af

jongin and kyungsoo... god, they were so complex in this (i mean that in a good way! so many layers, so many struggles) i absolutely love how deep your characters were, how jongin was this perfect "Kai" in front of everyone else but he was jongin to kyungsoo. i don't know, but everytime kyungsoo addressed him as jongin it almost broke my heart because we can see how much kyungsoo struggles with his feelings, especially when he develops them for jongin, and when you see how he just can't hold back it just -- made my heart ache and flutter in the best way possible and when he said "Kai" on purpose i just wanted to cry...

the romance was just perfect. it wasn't too cheesy but it also didn't make me feel like it was missing because god, the few scenes where kyungsoo gave into his feelings literally made my heart squeeze inside my chest. the continious push and pull - especially from kyungsoo's side (which was so heartbreaking to read everytime the word freak popped up in his mind when he was with jongin, god just kill me it would definitely hurt less) was so frustratingly good too! my favorite scene has got to be the one where both of them fight in the rain because i could just literally picture them fighting and pushing each other and despite being good at fighting each other not being able to fight their actual feelings in the moment (and can i say the tiny smut scene - albeit not explicit at all - was a lot better than a lot of smut stories i've read recently lol oh my god..)

sorry this comment is such a mess but my feelings are all over the place and i just wish you could've watched my face while i read this so you could understand what i felt (i basically felt everything kyungsoo was feeling; jongin made my heart flutter, he scared me, i might've even cried because for a second i thought that idiot was going to die but thank god you didn't do that to us).

you are so so talented, and this story is such a blessing to our fandom and i just wish some readers would open their eyes and appreciate gems like these because i can only imagine how much time and effort you put into this - the result is right here and it's just perfect.

thank you so much for writing this and i really hope more people give this one a read (it's their loss if they don't but you deserve a lot more attention for this)

Date: 2016-09-25 08:01 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
zerrin bb is this you??? i forgot which one is yours ;;;;;;

anyway whoever this is!! thank you sososos much i love this comment and i am not able to express how much it actually means to me okay. thank you for complimenting my writing style, because that's what i love the most about my fics, and thank you for loving the characterisation. thank you for this, and for making my day by writing it <3

Date: 2016-09-01 08:42 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] kumaslippers.livejournal.com
Okay, so, this is were it gets difficult for me since english fails me so bad at times like this, not being my first language, and i know that explaining just how perfect this story is, is going to be hard.
Also I don't really comment stories so if it ends up being an awkward comment, please understand haha

But anyways, I'd like to say that I'm a totally in love with the setting and although I know it takes place in Seoul, I couldn't help but immagine London haha
I absolutely loved both Kyungsoo and Jongin characters, but I must say that maybe I liked Jongin's personality a tiny bit more: him being so sincere, both warm and firm, not having second thoughts about his affection for Kyungsoo and displaying it...it takes courage! Even more so when the object of one's affection is clearly confused/conflicted about their feelings as it is Kyungsoo. Also I am really curious about the book, what it was about? It is important to Jongin, he was hoping to create an emotional tie with Kyungsoo through it... I hope he'll teach Kyungsoo how to read, I can totally see them, Kyungsoo getting frustrated once in a while but never giving up because that's how he is, determined to read the book, all the while Jongin chuckling and looking at him with a fond smile haha
Kyungsoo personality was... different, yes. But I could relate to him through the story; so scared of society for being in love with a man, being told that is wrong and disgusting and made feel like he's wrong and disgusting...and although this is a fanfic, to think that reality is not much far from this makes me so sad.
I really admire Kyungsoo, i mean, he's so human! haha no really, I think it's similar to the ideal of person I want to become? Like, he finally understands that to be a better person he has to accept his mistakes and that he's not only his mistakes but there's much more to it!
Idk I'm problably blabbering haha

Anyhow, I really enjoyed your story, you did and amazing job portraying characters and settings.
Loved from beginning until end. <3

Date: 2016-09-25 08:04 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you so much! and your english is perfect!

i'm so glad you liked the characters! and in terms of the book, it can be interpreted differently by readers as to what they think is most important but from my perspective (and jongin's) it is about home - not the physical place, but the feeling - and that is the most important thing to jongin in the fic in my opinion, and what eventualy ties him to kyungsoo. but it's open for interpretation! i specifically didn't include details about it for that reason :)

thank you again!

Date: 2016-09-02 12:43 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] nignojmik.livejournal.com
this was so stunning !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! the characterization is perfect and the motif of the poppy flowers is super beautiful and also the inner conflict of the characters felt very real and important

i'm always blown away by your writing !! and honestly this fic just proves again how amazing you are c:

Date: 2016-09-25 08:05 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com

also!! i love that you noticed the poppy motif because that meant a lot to me! love you <3

Date: 2016-09-02 05:26 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] sunsethue.livejournal.com
"I think you've done enough fighting, love."

oh god how I love this line. I loooove the whole story -- it's so heart-wrenching and despite all the difficulties they had to go through, I'm glad Jongin and Kyungsoo found each other in this tough, difficult world. Kyungsoo is so achingly beautiful here -- a strong, streetfighter but fears his own heart's choices... Who wouldn't root for that person right?? And Jongin...oh god Jongin... seeing him from the perspective of Kyungsoo really highlights how genuinely beautiful he is and my heart stopped for a while when I thought he died. huhuhu

Thank you so much for this beautiful story.

Date: 2016-09-25 08:06 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
;;;; thank you so much for this beautiful comment!! i really appreciate it!

Date: 2016-09-02 05:42 am (UTC)
From: [identity profile] dreaminglasts.livejournal.com
What the--omg---this was really something else! I can't even properly respond. I want to write something really long and explain everything I adored about this fic but I can't. I'm speechless with Kyungsoo's characterization. It was truly a gift and a blessing to be able to read this fic. Thank you thank you anonymous author!

Date: 2016-09-25 08:07 pm (UTC)
From: [identity profile] rainbowtoxicity.livejournal.com
thank you thank you for commenting dearest!! <3
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