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without you, tears fill my heart

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Moo Myung is not the first of many to climb the wall. Those who climb the wall often do not make it back, it was rumoured that peasants would have their heads cut off and left on a pike to ward intruders. It's true.

 

Mak Moon is the first to live longer than a day after seeing the king’s face, after knowing who the king is. He tells his best friend, who laughs. Mak Moon is not the first to die by the king’s bodyguard, the king by extension. He breathes his last breaths in his brother’s arms, looking directly at his father. He sees what could have been.

 

He is grateful, for the life he has been given. The life of freedom, in the woods, in the village. Woo Reuk had looked after them, taught them so much. Even if he wanted them to stay and live their lives peacefully, he had raised them. He loved them.

 

Mak Moon remembers his life now, vividly. Thinks about the times when he and Moo Myung had climbed the mountain too high and they couldn’t get down until Moo Myung started to jump down onto the spiky rock below. They both had scars from the cuts and scratches.

There was a time when a huge tree branch landed on the hut they had made, and Moo Myung had kicked at it in anger. The resulting bloody toe was terrible and traumatic at the time, but when he thinks back to it he can’t help but laugh. He is shaken roughly by his friend, howling in his ear.

 

He wonders if this is what it is like to die, drowning in his own blood. Choking as it trickles from his mouth. A slice to his back and chest, it aches now, a constant pressure and wetness. His clothes feel soaked through and all he thinks about it how much he will miss Moo Myung, how his father looks rather cool even though he has tears in his eyes and he’s grasping at his shirt, what it would be like to have his hair tied in a bun like his father, would he look like him? 

 

Shock bleeds in his veins, it makes his ears bubble and pop, it makes his eyes focus abnormally, it makes his blood feel like fire and ice on his skin.

 

He doesn’t know the exact moment he dies, because he slowly loses consciousness.

He doesn’t even properly wake up until later, hunched over his father’s back. He slips away again. Mak Moon, Sunwoo. His father had said that night, his name is Sunwoo and his father had missed him so much, had looked for him everywhere inside the capital.

 

He is awake, barely. There are rocks on his chest, rocks in his chest. There is no blood, no cut along his chest. He rises.

 


 

It takes five tries before he is able to stand, he hears someone calling to him. He follows. Moo Myung sleeps on his back, and Sunwoo watches. Sunwoo, Mak Moon. What does he call himself. Moo Myung looks exactly like he does when he faints, except better, except not on a dirty sand path. Sunwoo reaches forwards and feels his brother’s heart. It beats steady, and he is relieved. Moo Myung is alive, that is all he asks.

 

He looks around the house, it is his family’s and he remembers it. Not quite clearly, but enough to know that his sister’s room is there, and his parents over there. He wonders how his mother is, having seen his father. He wonders if she is well, he wonders if she had found her way home too.

 

He finds that his sister is very pretty, and he smiles when he thinks of her. She is young still, and so cute. He follows her while she wanders around the village. He meets her friend, Sooyeon, who is also really pretty and he says hello and thanks her for looking after his sister. His sister’s name is Ahro, and he’d forgotten. Ahro and Sunwoo. Sunwoo and Ahro, he thinks about what his life would have been like if he had stayed here. He would never have met Moo Myung. He frowns.

Moo Myung, and he’s by his side again. Moo Myung, who wakes and grimaces. Moo Myung, who lived. His brother in all but blood. He is glad he was able to meet him, live with him, die in his arms. There is no better place than by his side.

 

First and foremost, when his father directs Moo Myung to his body. Sunwoo follows closely behind. He listens as Moo Myung cries, and yells, and swears to avenge him. Sunwoo can only smile and caress his cheek, a soft breeze on his face. Sunwoo tells him that he is fine, and that he should live, whatever living means now.

 

His father gives Moo Myung a name, he is no longer nameless. Sunwoo and Mak Moon. Sunwoo and Sunwoo. Moo Myung and Sunwoo. Moo Myung is Sunwoo. Sunwoo doesn’t know what to think anymore, but he understands this drive. His best friend is living in rage. He cannot stop him, he pushes him forwards with no hands.

 

When Sunwoo was alive, he was weak. When he is dead, he is weak. He is a mere spectator in his brother’s life. He hates that he cannot comfort him anymore.

 

Moo Myung sits in Sunwoo’s room, in Sunwoo’s bed, in Sunwoo’s clothes and he asks “is it really okay to be you?” and Sunwoo says “yes” and looks him in the eyes. Sunwoo cries that night too.