Wooseok was staring at the students running late by the classroom's window when a pretty girl sat next to him. She had a gorgeous smile on her lips and smelled like cherry blossoms.
He remembered seeing her and her bright pink hair among the crowd the day before in the gymnasium where the principal had delivered his speech.
Wooseok blinked a few times, wondering why this girl was talking to him.
"I'm Wooseok…" said the teenager in a suddenly shy voice.
"I know." smiled the girl before opening her books and taking out colorful pencils out of her pencil case. "Mina told me about you."
Wooseok hesitated at the familiar name.
"Minhyun's girlfriend and my cousin." smiled the girl, resting her head on her hand.
Wooseok had briefly heard Minhyun mentioning her one evening over dinner and hadn't put much thoughts to it after that since her name had been drowned by talks about Seongwu.
"She told me to look after you since you know no one here." explained Minju
Wooseok wondered if it had been Minhyun that had asked this favor.
"We are all first years, everyone is kind of lost right? I bet that you also don't have friends."
"First of all, that is rude and speak for yourself, I'm friend with the person right behind you."
Wooseok looked back to see a boy fast asleep on his desk.
"Yohan!" called Minju, poking him.
"What?" answered the boy, yawning.
"Say hi to the new student."
"Hi."answered the man before burying his face in his arms once more.
Minju pinched his arm,making the boy with black hair squeal.
"Say hi properly." repeated Minju, slightly frowning.
Yohan rolled his eyes and reached his hand out to him.
"We have known each other since kindergarten and he is a real idiot but you can count on him." smiled Minju
"ok…" replied Wooseok, confused as he slowly handshaked with the boy.
Wooseok didn't care about them and didn't really want to make friends to begin with , he just wanted to realize his dreams even if he had to stay alone to do so. The teenager just needed Minhyun's approval and care to go on, it was enough.
He too wanted to shine like him one day.
"Yunseong!" called out Yohan as the boy from the past day's morning slowly walked to them with a tired look on his face.
Out of all the students he could be friends with , it had to be them, it was a real pain in the ass.
Yunseong scratched his head seeing him and stopped.
"...Hey?" simply said Yunseong in the same tone he had used when they met.
Wooseok still wasn't sure if the boy was just annoyed or uncomfortable because of him,maybe both.
"...Hi." replied Wooseok out of politesse but with no interest in his words.
"Whaaaat? You know each other?"said Minju with a bigger smile on her lips than the previous one"How?"
Yunseong sat next to Yohan and Wooseok prayed that these seats would not be the ones for the whole year. He could almost imagine how loud Minju and Yohan would become if they stayed so close together.
"I was going to school with Seongwu and we met with Minhyun and him that's all." replied Yunseong handing a juice bottle to Yohan before drinking his already opened strawberry smoothie.
"Oh." Minju's face darkened, she knew how worried her cousin was over him and hated him for hurting her. "Again uh."
Mina had always been like an older sister to her and would often take care of her and little Junho when their parents were away for work.
Minju had always thought that she deserved better and that Minhyun was a poor excuse of a boyfriend even with his good looks and charming smiles that charmed every passing girl.
"Again?" asked Wooseok,suddenly interested in Minju's words spoken with hostility.
"Yeah they are always together so much that it is suspicious." mumbled Minju.
"Can't tell you, I don't know them well." yawned Yohan." But he and your cousin get on well no?"
A scoff escaped her lips.
"Yeah, because she never manages to get angry at him, she likes him a lot you know? But it sometimes feels a little...one-sided?" explained Minju before sighing.
Wooseok blinked again,Minhyun wasn't the type to date someone just to keep up faces.
They must have misinterpreted his actions.
"Oh well, they'll manage that on their own right? Don't worry." said Yohan
"Yeah, I hope so"
The group fell silent and, even though Wooseok didn't know it then,it was since then that his cousin's mask began to crack.
Mina should have probably slept longer the night before, she should have stopped talking to Minju over the phone (who was worried about not making friends in high school) and gone to sleep when her mother had asked her to by message.
But Mina was stubborn and liked to defy the small rules imposed by the adults, maybe because the rest of her life didn't let her have her freedom.
So there she was, sleepy at her desk before the classes had even begun with an empty stomach that was soon to manifest his hunger.
Her eyes were closed when she heard someone sit before her and gently pet her hair.
"Good morning." said Minhyun, her boyfriend, with a beautiful smile on his lips.
The two of them had started dating at the end of the previous year. It hadn't been a surprise to the school students.
The pair had been inseparable since the first day of their first year and never left each other's side.
Mina gently tugged at him, without disrupting the perfection that was his necktie and ironed shirt and placed a small kiss on his lips,she had missed him a lot during the holidays.
Minhyun slightly fell back, a little startled before smiling.
"...Is this also your class?" asked Mina who had felt him quickly pull away, maybe too quickly.
"No...I am in the one at the end of the corridor with Seongwu." said an happy Minhyun.
Mina couldn't help but pout.
She liked Seongwu, he was one of her friend but she often felt like disappearing from the picture every time the three of them were together.
Her boyfriend was a whole different person with him, he was much more emotional.
They would fight, laugh and be sad together but with her he was the always so perfect Minhyun, the one that was idolized by boys and girls in their institution.
Minhyun smiled and kissed her forehead soon followed by soft "aw"s coming from her classmates that had been silently watching them.
"It's fine we'll often see each other." reassured Minhyun playing with her fingers.
Mina wondered if he had even noticed her new haircut or the fact that she had put on the new earrings he had bought for her christmas , probably not.
She also wondered if he had remembered that her birthday had been the previous day.
Minhyun wasn't a bad boyfriend for say, he was probably perfection to a lot of people(boys included) and maybe she was just being greedy but she wanted more of him. More of his attention and more of his heart.
"Minhyun! Are you coming? Oh hey Mina!" said Seongwu by the door,waving a hand at her.
"Hi Seongwu." replied Mina with a slightly disappointed smile on her face seeing Minhyun spring up on his feet and almost trotting to him.
"See you Mina!"
The young girl slowly let down her hand back on the desk before sighing.
"There." said Kami, putting a small bread freshly bought from their school convenience store on her head.
"Thanks. I'll give you back the money-"
"No it's ok and have you seen your face? You need to eat something you are pale."
Mina touched her face out of reflex. Did it show this much?
"Did something happen? Did I miss something?" asked Kami before straddling the chair on which Minhyun had just been sitting.
The blue eyed girl was watching her, there was no use lying to her, Kami could always clearly see that she wasn't alright even behind all of her fake smiles.
"Minhyun and your ex were just here." replied Mina before taking a bite of the soft bread.
"Seongwu? Geez...Still close to Minhyun I see."
Kami had dated Seongwu for a few weeks the previous year after being friends for years in middle school.
Mina had met her thanks to him when she entered high-school and had been there when their apocalyptic break up had happened.
Seongwu had forgotten for the second time about their date because he had been spending time with Minhyun, leaving an angry Kami out in the cold in front of the local cinema.
Seongwu had then avoided her at school knowing that she would probably kill him if she ever found him.
Kami did find him in the courtyard where Mina and Minhyun were eating lunch on a bench and where they were able to see the following fight that occurred.
Shouts, tears and a slap on his cheek.
Kami had always shrugged at his name ever since then.
"I swear to God they are always together. I even saw them together during Christmas. They were shopping around."
Mina tensed up, Minhyun had told her that he wasn't free on Christmas day.
She had hoped to spend it with him and little Junho that was now in his last year of middle school ,since their mother was away(again) on a work trip.
"How was your Christmas?"
"...Fine." smiled Mina out of reflex even though she felt betrayed.
She could feel him slip away
"Wooseok?" called Minhyun as he struggled to put his shoes on in their apartment's entrance."Hurry up we are going to be late!!!"
Minhyun's cousin ran with his toast still his mouth, almost slipping on his way.
"I told you to set your alarm before going to sleep…." sighed the older boy, adjusting his necktie while looking at the corridor's mirror.
"Hn feurget forry!"
The boys quickly walked out of the building and headed straight to their school that was only a few blocks away. Minhyun had first moved alone to Seoul two years ago to pursue his art studies and was joined this year by his cousin who had also decided to pursue the same education.
Wooseok had always admired Minhyun, following him like his shadow since the day he had been able to walk. He would imitate his hairstyles, manners and even speech sometimes to the point that his own mother, Minhyun's aunt had to put a stop to it. But his mother had been unable to talk him into not moving to Seoul at such a young age and had accepted the idea knowing that his older cousin would take good care of him.
"Do you remember where your first class is?" asked Minhyun, handing him a paper towel to wipe the crumbs off of his mouth corners.
"Hmmm I'm not sure..?"
"Second floor of the B building and your class is the 31B class."
Wooseok grimaced, he had forgotten how big this high-school was compared to his small countryside middle-school.
"And uh...Where is that exactly…?"
"You should have-"
"Minhyun!!!" called out a familiar voice before jumping on the teenager's back.
Minhyun almost slipped on the partially melted snow and barely managed to stand back up.
"Ong Seongwu I swear to god-" growled Wooseok's cousin.
" I missed you!" said the boy before hugging Minhyun who slightly blushed.
Wooseok blinked a few times, he had never seen such an expression on his face.
To Wooseok, Minhyun was more than a great older brother figure, he was his role model.
To him Minhyun was always composed and elegant, calm and intelligent, handsome but not vain.
But to him Minhyun wasn't the type to blush,not at all...What was that?
"...I missed you too."admitted Minhyun slightly hugging him back
A simple touch on his shoulder caught Wooseok off guard and almost made him jump to the other side of the road.
"Are you Kim Wooseok?" asked another boy with big deer-like eyes and a pretty face (but not as pretty as Minhyun, Wooseok stayed loyal to his cousin no matter what.)
"Yunseong, Seongwu and Minhyun told me about you. We are in the same year." said the boy, slowly pointing at his name tag before looking at his. "....And same class."
Year 1, Class A
A silence slowly took place between the two of them only broken by the laughs of Minhyun and Seongwu in the back.
"What? You brought me nothing from Japan? Are you really my friend?!" screamed a shocked Seongwu
"Ugh...Sorry...Let's just go there together one day ok? I want to show you Shibuya."
"Yeahhhh...Whatever….." sulked Seongwu
Wooseok didn't like how loud Minhyun's friend was.
"Oh. Right….uh...Nice to meet you?" said Yunseong, almost sighing and yawning before walking towards the gates.
"...Yeah….Nice to meet you too." almost growled Wooseok.
He didn't like this Yunseong, he didn't like him at all.
Kami had been avoiding him after that night as if he was some sort of plague and hadn't really talked to him either. Woohyun may have been an idiot, but he knew that he was obviously to blame for her sudden change in behavior.
The young woman would glance at him discreetly while slowly stirring the soup of the day (more like a cloudy goo than anything edible) before turning her back to him.
She would stare at the horizon from his house's window with an indescribable look in her ocean blue eyes that always amazed him and he would stare at her in exchange. He wondered what she could possibly think about, what if her past had come back for her? What if after his words she, instead of feeling better, just wanted to disappear?
Woohyun knew what it meant to feel alone in this world maybe more than anybody else and knew how quickly dark thoughts could swallow one's self up. He didn't want that for her, she had suffered enough.
What can I say to you?
What can I do?
It was midnight, the house was silent and neither of them were asleep like most nights since she had cried in his arms. They would just sit from the opposite sides of the room, looking at one another.
He had learned her every feature, how her cheeks were slightly round and cherubic, how pink her lips were, how the lines of her neck were delicate.
How small she was as a whole, so small that she almost disappeared in the dark corner of his house.
“Kami.” called out the man.
The young woman didn't reply and instead just buried her face a little more under his blanket.
A sigh escaped his lips.
So you really are avoiding me.
“What's wrong? What have I done to make you this angry?”
Her back straightened as a surprised look took hold of her tiny face.
“I am not mad at you..”whispered his guest
“Then why? Why do you avoid me?” asked Woohyun, slightly hurt. “...Is it because of your past? Are you depressed?”
What is it then? Let me help you..
“Then why? Why won't you eat with me? Why won't you talk to me?” wondered the man, now looking down at the wooden floor. “I don't know what to do if you start thinking that life isn't worth living...Even if you want to die you have to know that death isn't worth it-”
The young man was panicking, he couldn't afford to lose her, he had grown attached to her way more than what he wished to admit. He liked knowing that she was there even if she remained silent, he liked catching her small glances. He liked waking in the morning to see her face , he liked the fact that his nights were not so lonely anymore. He liked the fact that the world was no more empty with her in it.
What if she died too? Just like all the persons he had cherished before?
He didn't want her to take her own life.
He wasn't sure that he had enough strength left to bear it.
“Woohyun.” called out the woman. “Calm down, I am fine I just...”
Her cheeks took the color of the cherry blossoms he used to see during his childhood.
“It's just that I am embarrassed because of the other night...” whispered the girl “I have never cried this much before someone else, I was just scared that I had annoyed you.”
“No...You didn't...I was happy.”
A small laugh escaped her lips, the first one in days.
“You were happy that I was sad? Are you a sadist?”
“N..No I just meant that I was happy that you were able to confide in me....” corrected a scarlet Woohyun, hiding his face behind his hands.
He didn't like how easy she made him lose his calm.
“I know, I was just kidding.” smiled Kami before reaching her hands out to him. “Come here...”
It was unusual, she never asked him to come over to her side of the room.
Her voice was unsure but daring, soft but loud enough to show him that she really needed him by her side.
“Please.” insisted the woman blushing even more
Woohyun stood up and carefully walked towards her, she was so close but so far and every step felt like an eternity. He finally stopped before her, afraid to scare her away once more.
To her he was probably a beast, a wild being while she was nothing but an angel in his eyes, an angel that had fallen from the heavens. He was sometimes afraid that he would scare her away with his habits.
“...Don't you like it?” asked a slightly sad Woohyun, eyeing his roasted frog.
He could see that Kami tried her best not to grimace but the frown between her eyebrows was clear and visible from a thousand miles distance.
“It's not that I don't like it....hmmm...Let's just say that it is a new experience?” tried to explain the girl to get the sad and desperate puppy look out of his eyes
“You don't eat frog where you come from?” asked a confused Woohyun that had survived until then on a diet composed of frogs, wild rabbits, plants and fruits.
Kami couldn't contain her laughter any longer and giggled.
“Woohyun...I don't think that town people eat frogs in general...Sorry.” kindly said the young woman, picking up the fruits he had found for her.
“Oh...Is it weird...?”
“A little bit....?”
“..Are you mad at me?”
“But you are avoiding my eyes Woohyun.”
The man slowly brought his legs to himself.
“...Because I wanted to cook something good for you.”murmured Woohyun, sad.
Will you run away from me if I try to get closer to you?
“Closer...”whispered Kami, taping the empty space next to her.
Woohyun gulped, nodded, sat down and felt her head carefully lean against his shoulder.
He could feel her soft hair strands tickle the naked skin of his neck and could hear her soft breathing vibrate through the air.
“ I don't dislike you. I can't, how could I when you are the one who saved me? I owe you my life Woohyun and that will never change.”whispered Kami as she closed her eyes.
The young vagabond slowly brushed the skin of her cheeks with his fingertips. She was so warm and soft that it was almost unreal. He had forgotten how warm a person could be and how pleasant it was to have someone by his side. He could have stayed like this for a whole eternity but couldn't shake her words out of his head, what if she was truly staying with him out of culpability? Out of pity for him?
He couldn't bear that thought, he preferred to forever be alone rather than trapping her in this small world of his. She deserved better.
“You owe me nothing... You already gave me the only thing that I needed. ” sourly declared Woohyun
“What was it?”
“A reminder of what it feels to not be alone.” smiled the man. “ A reminder that I had a life before all of this.”
Kami grabbed his face between her hands, forcing him to watch her.
The young man's breath almost stopped when he met her sapphire blue orbs that seemingly tried to read his soul.
I want to know what you think about every time you look at me like this...
“You don't have to be alone anymore..I'll be here with you.”
“...I don't need you to pay me back for saving you. You are free to go, I won't hold you back if that's what you want.” declared the man, carefully taking her hands off of his face
He couldn't take advantage of her and her kindness, not when she had lost everything, not when she was just seeking companionship. It could have been anyone but him.
He was sure of it.
Kami took his face back into her hands with more strength so that he wouldn't push them away this time.
“I don't want to go. I want to stay with you.” whispered the woman. “ It's true that I was scared at first, I was scared that you were a bad person or that I would grow to care for you only to be abandoned when the time comes...But..It's already too late for that, I don't think that I can leave this place without you.” admitted Kami, bringing her face closer to his.
He could feel her breath against his, she was there, just an inch away from him, in his clothes that were way too big for her.
“I care for you Woohyun and I know that we haven't known each other for a long time, less than a month but in that time you have given me more than I have ever received in all of my life...” a small bitter laugh escaped her lips. “I know that you probably don't feel the same but-”
A small smile appeared on his lips.
If only she knew what she meant to him, how he had decided to protect her until the end from the very moment his eyes had landed on her....
Woohyun was scared of himself and how quickly he had grown attached to her.
He wondered if it was friendship ,companionship or love even if he didn't really understand what that special feeling was....He wondered what it was that they shared and if it would even last but simply knew that he wanted it to never end.
He had been wondering if it was the situation in which they had met, if it was her smile or even if it was simply her eyes that had made these reckless emotions appear in his heart.
A heart that had been almost dead for years.
“I care Kami, maybe more than you can imagine.” simply answered Woohyun, bringing her closer to him by holding her small waist with his strong hand. “ I would be devastated if you left...You were..You are a blessing to me.”
He could feel her hands run along his shoulders.
The young woman leaned in and gently kissed his lips.
Woohyun closed his eyes and gripped her waist tighter while she slowly brushed her hands against his cheeks.
There was something almost magical in her touch, something that made his whole body tense up.
Something that he had never experienced before, it was just too much for him.
The young man parted from her and buried his face into her neck, sighing.
I think that I like you.
I like you a lot.
“Woohyun...?” worriedly asked Kami trying to meet his eyes.
I'm sorry. I can't give you anything.
“You should sleep...I...I'll go take some fresh air.” said Woohyun, standing up after carefully letting her down from her lap.
“Woohyun..?” called out the young woman once again.
“I'll just take a few minutes don't worry...”
The man left without giving her a chance to reply and quickly climbed down from his tree house.
Woohyun wasn't sure if it was the weather or his body too hot in comparison, but the wind was especially cold that night.
He didn't mind it and in fact enjoyed the feeling of the breeze against his burning skin.
He liked how it cleared his mind.
I'm a douche bag. The worst.
“What was that Woohyun..?” said the man to himself, thinking once again about the girl that had been the master of his thoughts for the past month and her confused face as he had left her.
He couldn't take away the sensation of her in his arms and on his lap from his mind. He couldn't take away the image of her hands traveling down his back and shoulders.
It all felt like a soft kind of torture he wasn't used to.
“That's not like you... You always face every problem. You don't run away.”sighed the man.
You don't even know what kind of person you are idiot, what do you mean by that?
Everything was fine or maybe even too fine.
Seongwu liked how every one of them were getting closer to each other, even Minhee who had at first been silent had quickly become inseparable from Mina. The young ladies always walked together and even slept side by side, something that even Minhyun hadn't expected his sister to do.
Myungsoo would still throw some glances at the girl but not as often and for as long as a few days ago, he instead had slowly began enjoying their new-found freedom and sometimes even went ahead to scout for new roads.
Minhyun probably enjoyed the most the situation they were in, he liked the simple fact that he didn't need to put a mask on in front of them. Seongwu would often catch him smile at him with a gaze full of pure love.
Seongwu would sometimes wake up to a flower bouquet composed of the area's prettiest specimens. He would always be greeted by his lover's smiling face and a good morning kiss.
He should have wanted for nothing more but here he was, feeling worse than ever.
Cheer up idiot.
Seongwu felt like he didn't belong with them, that he was useless.
They all had a role except for him.
Minhyun was in charge of making fires, Mina of setting camp with Minhee and Myungsoo was in charge of leading them and hunting their next meal.
Seongwu had tried helping them but to no use, they always did better on their own and he only served in slowing them down.
“How are you?” asked Minhyun ,half-awake,back-hugging him.
The young man caressed his hands and forced a smile upon his lips.
His lover had just woken up from his nap under a large tree's shade and his messy hair tickled his cheek, just like back in his house during lazy late afternoons.
“I'm fine.” replied Seongwu.
“...I know when you lie. You aren't a good liar....” yawned Minhyun “What's wrong?”
Seongwu sighed, he couldn't hide anything from him as always.
Minhyun faced him without letting go of his hands.
Minhyun was always beautiful, be it after a nap or a fight, his eyes were always bright and almost shining like his white golden skin. Seongwu often struggled to understand how he had been chosen by him.
“I....I just don't belong with you all...I feel like I should have stayed in the city.” whined Seongwu, quickly looking away from him.
It is hard to meet your gaze today my love. Maybe because I especially hate myself today.
His lover froze and stared at him for a long time before replying.
“...You would have died. Do you know what you are implying...?” answered Minhyun with a hurt look on his face, suddenly more than awake.
Seongwu knew the weight of his words, he knew that he would have been executed on the spot if he hadn't been rescued but even so, he couldn't help but feel like a mere insect among living gods.
They were almost perfect, made to survive this harsh world whereas he was just what remained of the ancient human race.
They would be remembered, they name written somewhere in history but him? People like him didn't even get a certificate at birth.
They were just workers, fuel for an always burning city.
Their names faded into the wind as soon as they exhaled their last breath.
They were nothing.
“...At least I wouldn't be a burden.” joked Seongwu “Don't you see how long we take to go from a place to the other because of me? I know that you take more breaks because I am always exhausted...”
I don't even have to see you to know that you disagree, you can't possibly understand …
You don't know how difficult it is to live knowing that you can never do something for your other half. I can't fight whatever is chasing us, I can't stop outsiders that want to take you from me...
Minhyun hugged him tightly against his chest.
He was always so warm whenever he needed it the most.
“...I know that you are lost with us Holders and that we can be intimidating but...Don't ever say that it would have been better back there for you...” trembled Minhyun. “If you say that I just feel awful you know? It makes me wonder why I didn't think about running away sooner with you...I feel like everything is my fault...Your suffering, my sister's and even mine. It was all my fault.”
“Don't say that. It wasn't your fault...How could you have known?”
Minhyun knelt before him and kissed his hands before looking up at him.
He always felt so loved whenever their eyes met that he immediately regretted bringing him his worries to him.
He had already enough on his mind to begin with.
It is nothing if you are here, I can withstand everything.
“I am happy because you are here...” smiled his lover. “If I had lost you then I....I would have probably lost myself Seongwu.”
I am an awful boyfriend... I make you worry about me for something so stupid...
“I just want to be of use....”
“You are. You always give us important information and most of all you try your best to cheer us up. They all like you and I love you.” explained Minhyun “Myungsoo may know the roads but you know the history of our world, the symbols, the cultures...Even if you can't help as much as you want now , you'll be the most useful one when we'll settle down somewhere.”
“Do you truly mean that..?” asked Seongwu, unsure.
Minhyun leaned in and lovingly kissed him.
“I do and....I need you to begin with, you are my Seongwu.” smiled the man. “The only one that I'll love with all of my soul.”
“I love you too...” declared Seongwu before stealing his lips again.
The two of them let their bodies fall on the grassy floor and closed their eyes to feel to breeze.
The day was warmer than the previous ones and the sky was clear, as clear as his heart every time he took his hand in his.
“I just wished I could protect you.” whispered Seongwu. “I wish I too had powers.”
“I thought you disliked Holders?”
“...I did. But you and the others...You all changed my mind.” explained the young man, kissing his hand.
“You do know that I am probably one of the strongest Holder there is right..? I am strong enough to defend the both of us.” laughed Minhyun
“But what if you reach your limit? What if you end up like the others? Frozen, paralyzed or bleeding from the inside?” replied a worried Seongwu.
“It hasn't happened yet...”
Minhyun stretched before getting on top of his body.
“I am just stronger than the others, my limits are just more difficult to reach I guess?”
What if his limits and their side effects are even more extreme than the others?
Seongwu caressed his face, what if one day he lost him after a fight? What if he was left alone once again?
“But you know Seongwu...I would have liked to be born like you. Just...Normal.” confessed Minhyun
“You are joking I hope...?”
“I am not.”
Minhyun sat down next to him and stared at the fluttering tree leaves.
“Now that I think about it, I hated every second of being the heir to the Temple. I just covered it up by thinking that I was doing a good thing for the others.” admitted his lover.
“But it has nothing to do with your powers...? You would have been the next High Priest anyway...”
“..My powers scare me sometimes. I just feel like they'll just explode one day.”
Seongwu remembered the Temple and how it was swallowed by flames when they were fleeing the city. Mina had later told him that Minhyun had been kind of lost in a trance and had asked him to keep an eye on him to see if there were no side effects.
It didn't seem impossible for his lover to struggle with his powers.
He had seen it before.
“You are blessed in this way Seongwu, you'll never feel like a freak of nature.”
“You aren't one.” smiled Seongwu before taking him into his arms. “We are both free now, we can live the way we want.”
“Yes...So stop with the gloomy thoughts alright?”
“I promise that I won't”
There was nothing but a constant buzzing in his ear, and the awful feeling of his flesh slowly being glued back together.
This can't be heaven.
Sungyeol remembered the fall but not what had happened after it.
He remembered Minhee's crying face, how they had run and how he had been pierced by the spears of their enemies.
… I am still alive.
The Holder managed to bring his hand to his chest that had been carefully wrapped by thick linen bandages.
It didn't hurt.
He was fine, maybe too fine for what had happened to him.
He should have died or at least been paralyzed and succumb to hypothermia not long after that.
“You are awake.” whispered an old voice by the crackling fire that had been warming his cold body.
Sungyeol jumped to his feet and stepped back until his back violently hit the icy wall behind him.
A growl escaped his lips, he hadn't recovered as much as he had thought.
Where am I...???
“Calm down kid...You still need to rest.” told the elderly woman, throwing a small and dry twig in the burning ambers.
The young man's eyes quickly analyzed his surroundings.
The two of them were in a small frozen cave probably carved into a glacier's ice at the base of the mountains. It's arched roof was covered by menacing icicles dangling over their heads.
“They won't fall don't worry, these have been here before your or even your parents' birth.” explained the old lady.
“...Where are we...?” inquired Sungyeol slowly calming down
“Not far from where you fell, you were in a really bad state you know? You were lucky that I was nearby or you would have just died.”
Lucky isn't the word I would use. I wouldn't have ended up like this if I had chance to begin with.
“How did you heal me...?”
“I am a Holder just like you. I have my own powers.” simply said the woman.
“Healing..? It's quite rare....You must be strong.” stated Sungyeol, checking if his joints still functioned.
“I am not, if you hadn't used yours you would have been nothing but a puddle of blood and bones and my abilities would have been worthless.”
Powers..? Well they were useful for once.
I don't remember using them...
The woman's voice was raspy and low, almost indiscernible from the cracking sound of ice above them. She was covered by a thin tunic that wasn't thick enough to cover the almost charcoal black skin that occupied half of her body.
It was just as if she had been scorched by the sun itself, Sungyeol couldn't begin to understand how painful it must have been.
Her long silvery white hair was so long that they almost melted into the ice around them in a perfect harmony.
Her features had sunken into her skull but her gold eyes still shined brightly from the caves that were her eye sockets just as if they had never aged.
Speaking of age, Sungyeol struggled to figure hers.
She could have been a hundred, eighty, fifty or even barely forty.
There was a special aura to her.
“You know that it is rude to stare this long at a lady?” laughed the woman.
“S...Sorry.” apologized Sungyeol before slowly sitting down again.
The elder handed him a cup full of hot tea.
“Drink. It'll warm you up.”
Sungyeol carefully took it into his hands and stared at it.
“Will you tell me your story?” smiled the old lady. “ I'll take it as payment for the tea.”
Sungyeol nervously scratched the clay engravings.
“...It isn't really interesting and the end is only tragic.” sighed the man
What had happened to Minhee was a mystery that was maybe better left undiscovered.
He had failed at his attempt to give her a good and happy life that was all.
Thinking more about it would only torture him further than the excruciating pain his heart was already in.
You must be back in town and wed by now...I'm sorry...
“All stories are interesting when you are my age and travel this world alone.”
Sungyeol drank the tea and put down the cup.
“I am the son of a worker of Cheon, I am the only one with powers in my family but still...It's almost as if I don't have them as they rarely manifest.” started saying the man “ My life was normal and boring until I met my best friend and lover, we planned on running away and we did but...We got caught and here I am. Young but heartbroken and deprived of dream.” sighed Sungyeol.
The woman poured tea back into his cup.
“You should leave this area.” advised his life-saver.
“Because the peace has been disrupted, there will be a war. Things have started moving once again.” said the stranger. “It isn't a place for dreams.”
“A war? How could you know?”
A mysterious smile grazed the lips of the woman.
“When you have lived for as long as I have you start to see some patterns in the journey that is existence. Things that repeat and cycles that come back to a start. Life and Death.”
“But there hasn't been a war for at least a century or two...”
“You'll see. Just don't be here when it happens.”
It didn't matter.
He didn't care for a life without Minhee.
Did he have to start again or just give up on living?
He could never go back to Cheon.
“...How can you know that you dream is over? You are so young and have a whole life before you...You should not give up.” cheered up the woman who had seen concern cross the young man's face.
How can I know?
I feel so empty without her that it hurts.
I want to see her face.
I need her in my arms sound and safe.
But we'll never be together, not anymore.
“Because she was my dream and she is gone. She is back behind the thick city walls and I am not strong enough to take her back from there.” sourly laughed Sungyeol.
A small smile appeared on the thin lips of the elder.
Sungyeol didn't like how her eyes seemed to read him.
“You are stronger than what you think and...Well...She might not be where you think she is.”
“...Uh? How could you possibly know?”
“Are you underestimating me because of my age?”
You don't look like you can move a lot.
“Well no but-”
“I went out once to look for some herbs and I met soldiers looking for a young woman with purple hair that has fled the city. It is your girl right?”
His whole body froze before a smile appeared on his previously exhausted face.
A laugh of relief escaped his mouth.
“Yes!!! Do you know where she went? Where can I go to find her???” excitedly asked the man.
“I am not sure but she is probably heading towards the Forests from what I heard.”
“The Forests? You mean the lands around the town of Mok?”
“But why not Hwa? It's closer.”
“Hwa has also been a witness to some issues in the last few days. The town was burning when I last heard of it.”
“When was that?”
“The day after I found you. Maybe a few days ago? A week? You lose count of time at my age...”
Sungyeol sighed. How was he supposed to find her in these vast lands?
He wasn't a tracker or even a hunter, he would probably get lost before locating even one of her tracks.
“Thank you...I won't bother you any longer. I'm leaving.” said Sungyeol, standing up and dusting off his clothes.
“Wait.” called out the lady.
A pleading look crossed her eyes.
“Do you believe in the Gods? The rituals of the cities?”
But I did once.
“Good. Don't believe the cities that still worship the High Priests. Avoid them like the plague itself.”
“Because what they speak is far from the truth. Their whole belief is based on lies that have been fed to generation after generation.”
“...How do you know all of this?”
“I am older than what you may think, I have seen empires fall to the ground when others rose.”
Sungyeol's eyes traveled once more her burns.
“No. An old friend's betrayal that left me for dead.” the woman slowly lowered her head as if slowly sinking into her past memories.
The hair that had been covering her neck slowly slipped to show a triangular and golden tattoo on her aged ashy skin.
“...What is this?” asked a curious Sungyeol
The woman nostalgically laughed but the young man couldn't help but see a distinct bitterness in her eyes.
“A painful reminder of my lost youth, a reminder that I tend to forget.” smiled the elder.
“What does it mean..?”
The woman froze for a second before once again stirring the burning ashes of the fire.
“...It was a sign of hope and light for many people.”
“Was it the case for you too? Did you have hope even in a world like this one?”
Her golden orbs fixed the wall in front of them and the young man could have sworn that she was lost in the flow of time in that single instant, remembering a lost era of her life.
“I did once, a very long time ago...But there was no happy ending for all the ones who carried this mark. It was almost a curse.”
“Then why don't you erase it..?”
“Because it is also a key to understand our world.” told his savior. “ And because it reminds me of the ones I loved and lost along my long life.”
The woman took Sungyeol's hand and drew the sign on his palm with her finger that she had darkened with a piece of coal.
“Remember it. It may be useful one day.”
“Good.” smiled the elder “Good luck young man. I hope you'll find your loved one.”
Sungyeol packed his few belongings scattered on the ice into his pockets and walked to the exit of the cave.
“Thank you for everything...Thank you.” thanked the young man staring at the horizon.
“Let's meet again Sungyeol.” simply answered the woman.
“...Uh..? I've never told you my name-” started saying the Holder before looking back at the now empty cave.
It was as if she had never been there.
-Minhee, Green Lands-
Minhee had finally left the icy mountains when she saw,for the first time in years, fields of wild grasses and flowers. She knelt to feel the earth under her fingers, realizing how much she had missed being surrounded by living things. It was ironical and tragic that she had found back life by losing the only man that had mattered to her, who had been her whole universe.
She had faced Death but there she was, surrounded by plants that grew without boundaries in a colorful infinite ocean. There she was lost in a plain only shaken by the strong southern winds that were warm and welcoming.
It feels nice.
Minhee would have liked to show Sungyeol all the beautiful things in the world, she would've given everything to at least share this one moment with him.
The young woman would have prayed if she had believed in the higher deities that ruled their societies, but she didn't, it was a godless world where the most innocent people were condemned to die an unfair death.
There was nobody.
They lived in a lonely universe, on a lone and cruel Earth.
There were no gods.
Even if you exist, damn you all for taking away the one person I loved more than life itself.
Damn you all.
Minhee walked and walked, lost and deprived of any goal.
She didn't have a home anymore.
She didn't have somewhere to go except for her childhood town that was nothing but a blurry memory in her mind.
A blue heaven lost under an azure sky, white marble and happy laughs. A town where food never lacked, a paradise where one could have hope.
She sometimes wondered if it in fact did exist or if she had just dreamed it to escape a hard and cold reality but always found her way back into her small mallet that contained some of her mother's things. Silks, jewels and poems written by her to remember her.
Do I still have a family there? A family that does miss me?
Minhee sighed, she didn't remember the way there anyway.
The wandering soul slowly glanced at her wet arm, the ice had finally started to melt.
Minhee had almost forgotten about the state in which her body was, her heart was so broken that she felt numb. So numb that she hadn't noticed her bleeding feet.
Minhee walked for a few days, only stopping to drink, eat a few fruits and sleep for one or two hours at most. It was as if she was floating, seemingly never reaching the end of the World she had so hoped to fall from.
Her steps led her to a small crossroad under a titanic and old willow tree whose leaves whistled into the night. She could tell that it had been a witness of centuries of war and despair, she could tell that just like her it was lonely and exhausted by a life that had been imposed onto them.
Minhee sat down against it, on a green patch of new grass, leaning her head against the old and dry bark.
She had followed the stars, hoping that they would bring her to a better place free of pain and tears if such a thing existed. Even the stars were different here, the ones in Cheon had been bright and cold but these radiated warmth and kindness.
But what use was there for warmth for a soul that was all but dead? What use was there for it if there was no one to share it with?
Just come back idiot.
Minhee could imagine Sungyeol reply to her that he always would and could see herself happy by his side.
A small smile appeared on her lips as tears whelmed up in her eyes again.
You were right, you are indeed in my heart. I can still here your voice...But it doesn't feel any better.
It doesn't change the fact that you are not here anymore.
Minhee close her eyes as a faint odor of lilac fluttered in the wind.
Lilac and sunlight.
“I know what kind of flower you are.” smiled Sungyeol as they both watched the dancing fireplace's flames.
The teenager straightened her back, she had been sleepy for the past few minutes as they had run around all day and stared back at the handsome, long haired adolescent next to her with curiosity.
“Hmm..? Which one?” asked the girl, yawning.
“Lilac. Lilac grown under a blazing spring sun.” smiled the man, warming his hands before the fireplace.
“Oh...Because of the color?”
“Hmm...Yes but mostly because of the sweet and pleasing scent.” explained the man as he looked at her “Because the smell reminds me of how kind and always smiling you are. It's just you in one flower.”
The pink on her cheeks deepened as she admired him.
He had grown to be taller than her and had put on fine muscles along the years. His once round face was now sharp and attractive and his smile had become so much brighter.
She almost struggled to recognize the young man before her.
Where was the boy that was weaker and tinier than her?
Minhee quickly looked away, discreetly hiding her face with her white fur coat.
“ Have you ever seen one before at least...?”
“Today.” answered Sungyeol, blushing as he handed her a beautiful violet lilac. “I bought it from a merchant today...”
Minhee slowly took the flower into her hands and eyed it with sparkling eyes.
It was a present she had never thought she would receive from him, an act of kindness not hidden between silly jokes.
It was pure, it was true.
“It doesn't do you justice.” whispered Sungyeol embarrassed.
Minhee felt the heat rise to her face.
“What- Why are you saying that? What's wrong with you today...? You usually just tease me...”
“I...I just noticed that I should probably tell you that you are important to me too sometimes.”
The young woman took her time to admire him before slowly getting closer to him and taking his hand in hers.
“Thank you Sungyeol...I love it.”
“You're welcome.” smiled the teenager as they both stared at the fire.
Minhee deeply breathed in the sweet scent of the lilac. Was this how he saw her? Did she, like this flower, bring him joy? Or was she to disappear from his side one day as this flower would wither after some time?
“...You are important to me too.”
Minhee opened her eyes again only to notice approaching figures in the horizon, had she been followed?
The young woman stood up, readying herself for a possible fight.
“Hey, there's someone there...!” said a man's surprised voice
Minhee wasn't able to see their face, hidden by the darkness that walked the night under the moon. She could only see the outline of their bodies and long shadows that followed them like stalkers in a silent back-alley.
She felt observed by the shadows, she felt as if under an endless scrutiny that sought to read the deepest parts of her heart.
The shadows, it was as if they were alive.
“Don't scare her.” gently reprimanded a woman.“Stay here, I'll go talk to her.”
Minhee stepped back until her back hit the willow tree's bark.
She wasn't strong enough to fight or run away.
She just had to hope they didn't intend to kill her.
“Don't be scared..We don't want to harm you.”said the girl as she walked to her in a slow reassuring pace.
“Why would I believe you...?”
“Because we are four and you are alone. If we really wanted to attack you don't you think we would have already done so?” smiled the woman, finally in front of her.
Minhee eyed her, she could tell that the stranger standing before her was beautiful even under the poor moonlight and bruises that scarred her white skin.
She was the kind of pretty that you would see in paintings, the kind of pretty that made all the heads turn when she entered a room, the kind of pretty that neared perfect symmetry so much that it rendered the human eye confused.
She was a piece of art.
She had thick long jet-black hair that cascaded down her pale shoulders and faded into the darkness.
There was also something she had never seen before in her eyes, true black shadows that seemingly moved in her pupils in a restless waltz.
She was how Minhee had always imagined a night sky to look like if ever in human form.
She belonged to these lonely hours of the day.
She was ethereal.
The woman reach a hand out to her.
“I'm Mina. Han Mina.”
-Mina, Green Lands-
Minhyun had gladly made a small fire out of twigs to warm up the group and the newcomer they had just met on their way to the capital of ice.
Mina had been eyeing the stranger, hoping that she would open up and talk to her but had quickly given up seeing how lost she was.
She looks exhausted...
They silently sat there for a while, watching wood turn to ashes as a soup slowly boiled in a small improvised clay pot.
Mina watched the radish bits float in the cloudy liquid before looking up at the young woman with purple hair who hadn't said a word after she had introduced herself.
“What's your name?” calmly asked Mina , standing up to sit down next to her.
“...Minhee.” answered the silent girl, eyeing the fire that continuously crackled.
Mina didn't want to rush her, she knew that she had been through a lot just by looking at the way her eyes were devoid of light or how some parts of her body were frozen.
You also went through a lot it seems...
The young woman wasn't sure about how she had to approach her, she still was struggling to get over what had happened to herself and wasn't in the best position to help someone else.
Mina unconsciously touched her lips with her fingertips, thinking about how Myungsoo had kissed her and how she had been almost happy but mostly hurt to feel them.
Stop it. Stop thinking about that kiss.
Happy because it proved to her that he hadn't given up and hurt because of the way her body throbbed in pain, its memory of that day still engraved in her flesh every time he touched her.
She knew very well that this situation was temporary and that she would one day eventually forgive him, she always did and wanted to do so again.
She still loved him but couldn't forgive him just yet. Not when her chest still bled, not when awful memories flashed before her eyes every time she saw him.
She wanted to live with him without being plagued by nightmares in each waking moments of their existence.
She had to get better first and learn how to embrace him once again.
“Nice to meet you Minhee...” answered Mina, fading out of her thoughts.
Minhee was taller by a few centimeters and pretty in a way that wasn't usually sought in Hwa.
The girl's appearance reminded Mina of the flowers in bloom from the Temple's gardens that were ,some winter mornings , covered with small snowflakes.
She was just like spring after a long slumber during which all things died.
If Mina was a constant reminder of Death to the people of her town, then Minhee had definitely been a breath of fresh air as pleasant as a May breeze.
She was beautiful.
“Where are you from?”
“Cheon...” whispered the young woman, silently eyeing each one of them.
“That's where we are heading. Could you show us the way?” asked Myungsoo as he stirred the pot once.
Minhee grabbed Mina's wrist, tightening her grip around it, surprising her.
Mina saw a sorry and surprised look in her eyes at her own reaction before finally letting go.
“It's alright.” reassured Mina.
“Don't go there....That place...It is just hell.” warned Minhee as she brought her knees closer to herself.
Minhyun threw a concerned glance at his sister before almost instinctively taking Seongwu's hand in his to reassure himself.
Where should they go if even that city wasn't safe?
Mina just wanted to settle down somewhere where she could peacefully rest for a while without having to worry about anything. She wanted nothing more than a new start to forget all of the pain.
“Then...where are you going?”
“Hwa..? I don't really know...Just the nearest town.” sighed Minhee, hiding her face behind her fur coat.
“You should not go there, the city is rotten to the core. We just escaped it.” explained Seongwu, pouring the simple soup in clay bowls Minhyun had baked with his fire during their travel.
Mina saw the girl look at her bloody cleavage as she gave the fullest serving to Minhee who was still shaking because of the cold.
“...I have nothing to give you in exchange. I'm already thankful enough for the fire .”
“This is nothing and you need this more than we do. You are shivering.” insisted Mina
“...You are hurt.”
“It's only superficial, I will be fine.”
Mina could see the young woman hesitate, she also would have in her place.
They didn't know a thing about her and just hoped that like them, she was just a lost soul in need for a warm dinner and some good conversations.
“I can taste it for you if you are scared to be poisoned.” added the brunette.
“No it's just that....I don't remember when my last true meal was.”
“Then even more the reason for you to eat.”
Minhee gulped down the warm broth and closed her eyes, Mina smiled as some color came back upon her cheeks.
“It's good.” almost whispered the woman, drinking it again this time quicker.
A scoff escaped Seongwu's lips as he finished his share under the smiling eyes of Minhyun that watched him seemingly lively for the first time in a while.
“Glad to hear it, we are over this...thing, whatever it is. We haven't tasted solid food in days!”
“Just say it if you hate my cooking Seongwu, it'll just be more for the rest of us.”pouted Minhyun , crossing his arms across his chest.
“...urg.” growled the young man unable to criticize the food happily made by his lover that he had discovered to be less than talented in the culinary arts.
“I'll go hunt something tomorrow since we have reached the green lands.” proposed Myungsoo “We can't keep on just eating radish soup anyway.”
Mina saw how the man looked at her, how his eyes wandered on her long and now thin legs that had once been toned. He frowned.
Did I really lose this much weight over the past days..?
“Hunt? You know how to?” asked Seongwu almost fascinated.
“Yes I do..Why?” replied the guard, blinking a few times.
“It's just that I would never be able to, I would just get lost in the woods.”
“That's true. And at that you are quite weak.” laughed Minhyun
Mina caught the confused look passing through Minhee's eyes and straightened her back before speaking in an almost quiet voice so that the men wouldn't stop to listen to them.
“Well...Yes, a little bit I guess.” answered in an almost inaudible voice Minhee.
“I am too, I am not used to being with this many persons. They can be quite loud but...It's heartwarming in a way I guess. You'll get used to it.”
Minhee looked at the boys who were talking among themselves, laughing and joking around.
“You...I'm not that weak!!!” protested Seongwu, throwing feeble punches at his other half as Myungsoo laughed.
Mina quickly saw tears menacing to fall from the girl's hazel brown eyes.
She saw how they fixed something far away, not them.
She was looking at the past.
Something that was no more.
“...Did you lose someone...?” worriedly asked the woman in a whisper.
“...I did. My most loved one.” replied Minhee after swallowing another gulp of the soup and wiping the tears away. “I lost him as we fled the city.”
The men that had discreetly been listening to them quieted down and watched her.
“I'm so sorry. I shouldn't have asked” apologized the brunette, staring at her feet.
Mina hated the fact that words easily came out of her mouth. She always struggled to keep her curiosity under control.
“No, it's alright...It was just so sudden...”
A silence slithered into the night only disrupted by the sound of the hungry owls, ready for their night-hunt, that rested on the willow tree's branches.
“What was his name?” asked Myungsoo in a solemn voice.
“Sungyeol but...Why would you want to know?” sightly sobbed Minhee
“Because names are important, one isn't truly gone if their name is remembered.” whispered Minhyun as he wrote his name in fire.
Minhee looked at the characters glow in the dark before fading into a line of smoke that flew to the heavens. Mina whispered some prayers under her breath to accompany the fleeing name along its travel to the stars.
May your soul finally rest.
“So you are Holders...?”
“They are but I am not.” explained Seongwu.
Mina smiled and took her hand.
“It was nothing, don't worry about it.”
“....Do you really believe in gods?”
“ I personally don't. But I always thought prayers to be relaxing and a way for me to meditate.” explained Mina, bringing her legs closer to her chest.
It was a dark but beautiful night. The kind of night that made one think about life and it's meaning. The kind of night that kept one awake until dawn.
“...You should come with us.” kindly proposed the woman
“But...I don't want to burden you.”
“You aren't.” smiled Minhyun “ And the more the merrier right? My sister will never forgive us if we just left you here alone anyway.”
“Me.” said Mina, raising a hand. “He is my twin brother.”
Doubt crossed Minhee's face.
Mina knew that what she asked for was a scary thing for a woman lost in such a world of treason, pain and wickedness.
“You don't have to be with us forever if you don't want to, just stay until you feel better.” added Myungsoo standing up and speaking as if reading her mind. “I'll do the first round of guard.”
“..I'll do the second one then since Minhyun did it last night.” answered Mina.
His eyes crossed hers as he left, a light promise to meet later in them.
Mina sighed and closed her eyes.
She wanted to wake up at dawn in his arms, she wanted to read poem with him by her window at noon, she wanted to feel his strong embrace every time he had to leave her, she wanted everything they had before and more.
She missed him.
“I can do it if you want...” volunteered Minhee seeing her new friend's pained look.
“No, just rest ok?”
“...Will you be fine?”
“ I have to.”
People always said that night meant silence but not to Myungsoo. To him night was the loudest time of the day when all things in the universe came clashing together. A sound so minimal that it would have gone unnoticed during the day would forever echo in a deafening sound during the latest hours.
The cries of the wolves and doves, the wind rattling the emerald leaves of the trees, the silent whisper of the stars or even her approaching foot steps disturbing the virgin grasses of the hills.
Everything was louder but delicate at night.
Mina sat down next to him, but not too close. Just far enough so that his arms wouldn't reach hers as she also contemplated the heavenly bodies.
She was silent but not in a cold way, she was just tasting freedom as much as he was.
“You're early, it's not your time yet.” whispered the man
“I couldn't sleep.” admitted the young woman
“Why?”asked Myungsoo before realizing why she hadn't been able to sleep.
Idiot. Of course she is having nightmares after what happened.
“Hm....”simply answered the woman before running her hand through her jet black locks that obscured her face.
“....What kind of nightmares are you having?”
“ It's just...Fire, destruction, blood, suffocating and...Abandonment.”
She had unknowingly emphasized the last word as if it was the worth thing that had happened out of the lot.
“I am just running in those narrow corridors to escape but I never see the light, I am trapped forever.”
“I would come to save you if such a situation happened. You know that right?”
“ Would you?”
She stopped and smiled, a reaction he hadn't expected.
It wasn't a joyful smile but rather a pained expression hidden behind a stiff grimace.
So you have already started building walls between us.
“...Mina I...” he sighed. “ I was just doing my duty, following orders. I would have killed them all if I had known what was going to happen next.”
“But you see that's the difference between you and me... I would have never let them take you away to begin with if I had been in your place. I would have fought for you until the end, even to the death if it meant you being safe. I put you above everything else but you didn't.”
“They would have replaced me and I would have never seen you again, is that what you wanted?”
“Don't you get it? Yes they gave you orders and maybe threatened you but, in the end, I was the one who decided if you were to stay with me or not. Do you really think that they had the ability to restrain me if I ever wanted to destroy their temple? They tried to keep me as happy as possible until the ceremony and I thought they cared for me, that's why I stayed.”
It dawned on him that she was right, nobody except for Minhyun was able to control her if she ever lost her will to be subordinated to mere clerics. She had been the one that had sent away each previous guard. He had been the exception and had always wondered why.
Seeking his superiors in someone else than her was a way for him to be reassured.
If he responded to the orders of the Temple's old men then he only had to protect her to the best of his capacities to satisfy them but what if it was her that decided if he was to go or stay?
What if she grew bored with him or loved him no more?
She could make him disappear from her world with a simple sentence and this was a reality that he wasn't ready to accept.
Myungsoo knew better than anyone else that he wasn't good at expressing his emotions or even loving, he knew that if they ever grew apart it would be because of him and not her and so, to protect himself, he had reverberated to his old profession of soldier.
A puppet that knowingly but stupidly followed orders but in doing so, had maybe lost her forever.
“Do you remember the time you taught me how to distinguish the constellations out of this ocean of stars?” asked Mina in a soft voice that quickly got lost into the breeze.
He vividly remembered those nights they had spent by her window, talking about a world that was out of their reach. He remembered how she made the heavens shyly blush and disappear just by how beautiful she was.
Yes, I could see only you.
“How could I ever forget?” nostalgically smiled the man.
The young woman breathed in the fresh air that surrounded them and sat closer to him, grazing his fingers with his.
“At that time I thought that you were my whole world Myungsoo.” whispered Mina slowly taking his hand in hers.
“And now?”asked the guard bringing her fingers to his lips.
The young woman gently pulled his hand towards her to lean her cheek against it.
It was a thing that she would usually always do out of affection but that evening, it felt more like she was looking for an answer.
“...I don't know.”
“Because that Mina that saw you in this way was the Mina who only had you to survive. It was the Mina that had nothing and had no chance of seeing the world.”
“Then...You only liked being with me because I was your only friend...? Not because of who I am..?”
“No, I love and loved you because you were you and this truth will never change but..”
Her eyes watered and soon pearl like tears fell down along her cheeks.
“ I feel like when I'm with you...I go back to being the girl locked in her room. Small, dependent on your existence,unable to walk freely.. I...I don't want to be that person anymore.”
“And I will never force you to be this girl...”
“But unknowingly you also go back to your role of guard, always protecting me when in reality I don't need your help. We can't keep on going on like this, it isn't healthy.”
She wasn't wrong.
They both had depended on each other for so long that they had almost forgotten who they were to begin with, he to forget the massacres he had done and her to save herself from an eternal loneliness. They had loved each other for who they were but had hanged on a relationship focused on a hate and love circle.
A circle of miscommunication only worsened by the environment they had been in.
“I want us to be free of our sins and past. I want to start again later, not as a cursed woman and her guard, but as a man and woman that love each other without being swallowed up by the other's passion.” whispered Mina before kissing him slowly and gently. “I'm not giving up on us, I'm trying to save us.”
“Then what should I do?” wondered the man against her lips.
“Grow to be your own self and I'll do so too.”
“I can't stop loving you...” whispered Myungsoo as he kissed her neck
“I am not asking you too.”said the young woman.”And I am not asking you to change.”
She stood up and stared at the moon.
“I am asking you to let out the real Myungsoo.” she smiled. “I am asking you to just be yourself.”
You don't understand how hard it is.