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C(17)H(19)NO(3)

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There were never days where Changkyun was ashamed of his heritage. In fact, he was always proud to be what he was: Korean. He was born in Gwangju, belonged here, in Korea, had Korean blood flowing through his veins.

The fact that he wasn’t raised in Korea didn’t change that. He was still taught Korean, still followed Korean traditions. He made kimchi with his mother, bowed to any Koreans he met, spoke fluent Korean.

So, yes, there were never days where Changkyun felt as if he wasn’t Korean or felt as if he wanted to be American or Israeli. No matter what happened, he was always proud to be Korean.

That was why he absolutely couldn’t understand why people were giving him shit for ‘not being Korean’. Both of his parents were Korean, he was born in Korea, he spoke fluent Korean, ate Korean food, lived in Korea; what part of him wasn’t Korean?

Changkyun let put a ragged sigh at the thought. All day, left and right, he was reminded of the fact that he wasn't raised here, only moved here a couple of years ago, didn't belong here .

It started to gnaw on his nerves.

“Oh, look who it is, Mr. Foreigner! You need to go back to where you come from. Korea is for Koreans, you know?” Changkyun is pulled away from his thoughts by the student yelling from behind him. Just from his voice, Changkyun could already tell it was Kim Dongyun, one of his classmates

Changkyun scowled at that, hands curling in his hoodie pockets. He didn’t stop for Dongyun, though and, instead, answered loudly “I came from Gwangju.”

The other two lackeys with Dongyun didn’t seem to like that because the two of them sped up, suddenly blocking Changkyun’s path.

Changkyun honestly wasn't surprised to see Go Sunghyun and Chang Junhyung. The two always followed after Dongyun, always did what he wanted. There was something in their expressions today, though. Something a little bit darker than usual.

When he considered what he should do, the thought of crossing the street and entering the convenience store there flitted through Changkyun’s mind. The three of them wouldn’t try anything in a convenience store, especially with the employees in there.

Sadly, he was sure that the store was closed. Though the lights were on, it was already eleven at night and he doubted any store would be open at this time, especially a family owned convenience store.

Dongyun purposely bumped into Changkyun’s shoulder as he walked past, situating himself in front of Changkyun and pulling the poor kid out of his happy thoughts of escape “What did you say, foreigner?”

Changkyun let Dongyun do whatever he wanted, too tired to deal with him “I said ‘I came from Gwangju’. My mother gave birth to me there.”

Dongyun laughed almost haughtily at that, hand raising to pat Changkyun’s cheek “I didn’t know foreigners lied too.”

That was stupid. Of course, foreigners lied. Foreigners, like everyone else, were human. Humans lied. Changkyun didn't say that, though, weary of what Dongyun was up to.

If Changkyun had to guess, he would say that, most likely, the reason Dongyun was so upset was because of his lower school rank and because of the fact that Changkyun was now at the very top of that same ranked list.

The last thing Changkyun wanted was to be punished for the fact that he studied more and tried harder than most of the other students.

“Okay, whatever you say.” Changkyun pushed Dongyun’s hand away, trying to keep a scowl off his face “Listen, I don’t want any trouble.”

Dongyun didn’t like that response and his fist flew forward. Changkyun suddenly found himself doubling over, a blunt kind of pain radiating from the side of his stomach. He coughed a little despite the fact that there was nothing for him to cough up, arms wound tightly around his midriff.

There was a hand on Changkyun’s head, most likely Dongyun’s “You listen, okay? I don’t like you.”

Changkyun could tell. He didn’t say anything though and, instead, tried to focus on keeping his breathing even to calm the pain he currently felt.

He had known for a while that something like this would happen, that, eventually, Dongyun would explode. Not exactly literally but Changkyun knew that Dongyun had a breaking point.

Usually, Dongyun would keep his bullying to a couple of nasty jeers in the hallways of school or maybe even harassing Changkyun on the walk home. It wasn't anything Changkyun himself couldn't ignore. It had never been anything bad like this.

Changkyun wasn’t aware what had finally broke Dongyun, maybe it really was the school ranks, but he’d at least anticipated some sort of climax to Dongyun’s bullying.

“I don’t like you because you don’t belong here.” Without warning, Dongyun’s hand pressed down on Changkyun’s head.

Changkyun, unable to hold his balance, fell forward, head hitting the pavement and world spinning if only a little bit. The throbbing wasn’t just on his stomach anymore. It was also on the left side of his face where he had fallen.

Dongyun just laughed and his two friends backed him up, one of them even going so far as to grip Changkyun’s elbow and pull him up that way.

“I belong here just as much as you do.” The words left Changkyun’s lips before he could stop himself, irritation finally bubbling past a breaking point. “Don’t use the fact that I wasn’t raised here as an excuse to bully me just because you’re jealous I’m getting better grades than you.”

As soon as he had said it, Changkyun regretted his words. He wanted to take every single letter and shove it back into his mouth, swallow it whole, never have it see the light of day. Though they were true, Dongyun wasn’t exactly pleased by them. In fact, Dongyun looked absolutely infuriated.

Before Changkyun could even brace himself, Dongyun’s fist found its way to Changkyun’s cheek. The next one was into his stomach again. There was a kick to what felt like his kneecap. Over and over, hit after hit. Changkyun’s body crumpled under the pain of it all.

Dongyun only finally relented when Changkyun fell to his knees, rough asphalt only adding to the pain that seemed to radiate from his entire body.

“You don’t fucking know anything, you dumbass foreigner.” Dongyun spat and Changkyun was glad it didn't hit him at all. “Think you're so smart--”

“Hey, what the fuck!” There was a sudden shout that made Changkyun’s heart leap up into his throat.

Dongyun and his friends didn't even hesitate. They heard the voice and ran as quickly as they could, not even sparing Changkyun a glance. What cowards. If they were going to beat Changkyun up, at least own up to it, not run like chickens.

It irritated him. He could be dying for all they cared. Changkyun spat at the ground, his spit crimson and dark against the sidewalk. He hated the three of them.

“Oh my god, kid, are you alright?” Whoever had yelled out seemed to scramble across the empty road.

Changkyun slowly stood, careful not to put pressure on anything that hurt, before glancing at the approaching stranger.

He looked a little handsome despite the unflattering light of the lamppost beside them and he seemed kind enough. In fact, Changkyun sort of felt like the stranger was less of a stranger and more of a familiar face.

“Kid? Did they beat you up that bad?” The stranger was looking Changkyun up and down as if assessing the damage before clicking his tongue “C’mon in, we need to get you iced down.”

Changkyun wondered if he really did look that bad. He touched his finger gingerly to a particularly painful part of his lip. It stung. In fact, his entire face stung. His entire body stung. Especially that knee that got hit a couple of times during the endeavor. Dongyun definitely knew how to pack a good hit.

The stranger looked even more concerned at Changkyun’s silence “Hey, hey, kid, did you get a concussion or something?”

“My name is Changkyun, not kid.” He had impulsively muttered, not even worried about who this person was or what their intentions were.

The stranger's face scrunched up at that but he introduced himself regardless “Lee Jooheon.”

That name was familiar. His face was familiar too. It really was. Changkyun could feel as if he knew this man, like they had met before under different circumstances. He just couldn’t pinpoint how or where.

“Do I know you?” Changkyun finally gave up trying to guess and, instead, actually asked, eyes roving quizzically over Jooheon’s features, head tilted a little to the side.

Jooheon rolled his eyes at the question and grabbed Changkyun’s hand and started to walk to the convenience store across the road “This is not the time to be cute and flirty.”

Changkyun was not being cute and flirty. He honestly felt like he knew Jooheon from somewhere. Though, if he was being honest, Jooheon was rather cute and, if Changkyun hadn't felt like he got run over by a car, he might've tried something.

Distracted by the unexpected situation, Changkyun had forgotten about most of his injuries. He was mostly intrigued by the stranger and by the fact that said stranger was willing to help him.

He was given a painful reminder of exactly what injuries he had when he stepped forward to follow Jooheon. As soon as he did, a stabbing pain zipped up his leg.

“Wait, wait, ow, ow.” Changkyun cried out, pulling his hand back in one swift jerking motion. He quickly crumpled down, the pain in his knee too severe for him to even attempt to walk with that leg.

The unimpressed expression on Jooheon’s face morphed into one of deep concern “Shit, did they sprain your leg or something?”

“One of them kicked my ankle.” Changkyun completely sat on the sidewalk, legs spread out onto the road “And I think one of them hit the same knee twice.”

“Both on the same leg?” Jooheon looked absolutely livid at that, eyes suddenly looking to the direction Donghyun had ran in “What absolute fuckers.”

“Here, if you lean on me, we can hobble over to the store. You need to get those iced.” This time, instead of just taking Changkyun’s hand, Jooheon offered his which, of course, Changkyun gratefully took.

It was easier to stand than Changkyun had thought. It was like balancing on one leg. He was a little wobbly at first but, with Jooheon’s hand, he managed.

Jooheon had then crouched down a little so that Changkyun could secure a grip around his shoulders. Jooheon even put his arm around Changkyun just in case.

It was probably a little funny, the two of them struggling to cross the road. Changkyun himself would've laughed if he wasn't in absolute pain.

“Thanks, by the way.” Changkyun muttered to Jooheon, sounding almost like it was just a simple side note.

Jooheon shook his head “It's no problem, man.”

“You probably didn't deserve this.” Jooheon then added, tone sympathetic and expression a little angry “You look like a sweet kid.”

Changkyun smiled at that, the first time all day. He wouldn't say that hearing those words were worth getting beat up over but, honestly, he could at least appreciate it.

 

Chapter Text

When Jooheon pushed the entrance to the store open, a bell somewhere tinkled, announcing their arrival. Having gone to this convenience store before, Changkyun wasn’t surprised by the bell at all.

In fact, what surprised Changkyun more was the amount of employees in the store, despite the fact that it was supposedly closed. He had spotted one boredly repricing some of the items and then a couple checking inventory.

The three of them plus Jooheon made four. What store needed four employees to close up? Not that Changkyun could judge because it was eleven at night and here he was, still out, beaten up on the walk home.

“Oh, hey, Jooheon.” The one repricing items placed the sticker gun down and approached but grew confused at the sight of Changkyun “Who…”

“Long story.” Jooheon waved the question off before the guy could finish and, honestly, Changkyun felt just as confused as the poor employee but for different reasons.

Mostly, Changkyun wanted to know how often this happened that Jooheon could easily push aside other employees’ concerns.

That question would be for later, though, because Changkyun didn’t want to waste any more time. He just wanted to sit down and rest his leg somewhere, in a position that made it stop throbbing.

That and Jooheon was too busy guiding Changkyun to a door behind the register. Changkyun quickly realised, upon entering, that it must’ve been some sort of employee work room where they could take breaks.

It was sparsely decorated. There was just a couch, two armchairs and a decent sized TV. There was a refrigerator too but it was on the smaller side. That was positioned right next to the hotel-esque kitchen, if you could even call it that.

“Here.” Jooheon’s voice pulled Changkyun out of his thoughts. He hadn’t noticed it but they had managed to make their way to the side of the armchair closest to the door.

Changkyun gratefully maneuvered himself into the armchair, closing his eyes and slumping in relief. His body ached from all of the moving. Though the pain didn’t all disappear after he had sat down, it at least hurt a little less.

That especially applied to his leg.

“Wait, you have to elevate your leg.” Jooheon walked somewhere and Changkyun couldn’t help but open his eyes and look at what he was up to.

All he was doing, though, was pulling over an ottoman from beside the sofa. Changkyun didn’t have the energy to do anything but put his leg up and thank Jooheon.

“Why are you being so nice to me?” Changkyun finally managed to get out a question, one which Jooheon raised an eyebrow at.

The answer was a simple shrug “You needed help, right? I’d be a terrible person to just leave you there.”

The door of the room opened and then closed, interrupting their rather short conversation “Hey, Jooheon, here’s some ice for your damsel in distress.”

Changkyun didn’t complain about the nickname and, in fact, thought it was rather appropriate. He had technically been in distress and had needed rescuing. Jooheon, on the other hand, simply scowled but accepted the ice packs.

They were just the regular kind of ice packs that people had to crush to activate. Changkyun let out a soft sigh when Jooheon handed him one for his face. Jooheon and his friend even placed two more on Changkyun’s knee and ankle for him.

“Is there any other place you got hit?” The employee stepped in front of Changkyun, holding two more ice packs.

Changkyun didn’t even hesitate. With his free hand, he raised his t-shirt, revealing already reddening bruises that were sure to turn purple in a couple of hours. They were the ones that hurt the least but Changkyun would appreciate a couple of ice packs there.

“Man, introduce yourself before you strip.” The employee winced at the sight of the bruises and Changkyun was grateful for how gently the guy placed the ice packs down

Changkyun actually laughed at the joke after a second, though his laugh sounded a little odd with the ice pack pressed against one side of his face “My name is Changkyun.”

“This idiot’s name is Hyungwon.” Jooheon finally said something after so long of a pause, to which Hyungwon nodded but then looked offended, giving Jooheon a shove to the shoulder.

Changkyun didn’t laugh that time but he did grin, amused by the small fight between the two.

Jooheon didn’t seem so amused but moved to sit on the arm of the sofa, right in Changkyun’s line of sight. “So, why’d you get so beat up, kid?”

Despite the fact that he knew that this would’ve happened eventually, Changkyun still couldn’t help but be slightly surprised by the question. He was also a little irritated now that he remembered exactly what lead him to where he was.

“This guy, I don’t know if you know him--”

“Kim Dongyun.” Jooheon didn’t hesitate in interrupting, a tough expression on his face as if he was honestly irritated by the thought of the guy.

Changkyun looked surprised that Jooheon knew Dongyun “How do you know him?”

“Dongyun buys from us all the time.” Hyungwon waved the question away, looking also just as irritated “He’s a piece of shit.”

Changkun actually chuckled at that but it was hollow “Yeah, trust me, I have first hand experience. He’s the biggest piece of shit ever.”

“He totally hates me because we got our school ranks today and I was number one while he went down like three ranks.” Changkyun continued, hand tightening around the ice pack pressed against his cheek a little in frustration.

Hyungwon seemed sympathetic “So, it’s the usual ‘he hates me because I’m smarter than him’ situation?”

“Pretty much.” Changkyun nodded before licking his lips and shifting his eyes to the ice packs on his leg “That and because I’m not… from here.”

“What?” Jooheon sounded absolutely confused and, honestly, Hyungwon looked pretty much the same.

Changkyun expected that and he sighed, breath a little ragged and eyes shifting here and there but never to looking at Jooheon or Hyungwon “He hates me because I’m not ‘Korean’. He says Korea is for Koreans.”

“Well, I am Korean. I’m 100% Korean. My mom is Korean, my dad is Korean, I was born in Gwangju, I speak fluent Korean.” Changkyun quickly started to defend himself, words leaving his lips faster than he could think them up.

The defense he gave himself was practically memorised by now. He had said it so many times, to so many people, as if he needed to prove himself or give others a reason to side with him.

Jooheon stopped him from continuing though, face still that hard expression “Dude, even if you aren’t Korean, you don’t deserve to be beat up for it.”

“Like, Korea is a piece of land. Anyone can live on it.” Hyungwon’s eyes scrunched up into a squint as if the thought of the flawed logic made him want to punch something.

Changkyun honestly felt relieved, sigh escaping his lips. So many people made such a big deal about it that hearing these words, the words he had always wanted to hear, felt like a load off of his shoulders.

“Shit, that aside, how are we going to break it to hyung that we just took this kid in…” Hyungwon had suddenly changed the subject, face turning to loom at Jooheon.

Jooheon just laughed “Do you see this kid? Hyung isn't going to have a problem with this.”

Though Changkyun didn't know what they were talking about, he nodded, part of him wishing he could leave so he didn't have to burden these kind employees but the other part of him knowing that wasn't possible.

He simply sighed, ready to take on whatever. The night couldn't get worse after all.

Chapter Text

“Who is your hyung anyway?” Changkyun finally spoke up, curious expression on his face.

Jooheon and Hyungwon shared a look before Jooheon decided to answer with a little shrug of his shoulders “He’s our shift manager.”

Something told Changkyun that there was more to it than just that. The look on their faces right before Jooheon answered and the way they acted too casually about it just stuck out to Changkyun. However, he couldn’t think of any reason Jooheon would lie so he left it at that.

Instead, he worried about their hyung who was, apparently, the one in charge of the other employees. He was glad for their help, really he was, but he didn’t want them to get them yelled at by their manager for doing it.

“I’m sorry if I’m causing trouble.” Changkyun shifted in his seat, frowning as he sat up a little straighter “I’ll leave soon and I’ll pay for these cold packs.”

“Woah, kid, are you serious right now? You probably sprained an ankle.” Hyungwon held out his hand as if to stop Changkyun “You can pay for the cold packs or whatever--I don’t care--but you aren’t going anywhere any time soon.”

“Hey, don’t make him pay for the cold packs.” Jooheon quickly turned to Hyungwon, slightly grumpy expression on his face.

Hyungwon rolled his eyes “You think I’ll make him pay for cold packs after he got the shit beaten out of him?”

Changkyun frowned at that, hand still pressing the ice pack against his face but his free hand pointing at Hyungwon “I didn’t get the shit beaten out of me--”

“Tell that to your face, dude.” Hyungwon scoffed, pushing Changkyun’s hand away “Why’d you let them do that stuff to you anyway, kid?”

“Yeah, you have a cute face. You should’ve fought back.” Jooheon clicked his tongue before reaching out to Changkyun and tilting his face this way and that “That cut near your lip is going to scar, definitely. Your face might bruise up really bad too.”

Before Jooheon could do anything else, Changkyun pushed his hand away, pouting and trying his hardest not to get flustered “It’s fine. I can’t fight back, he’s got a rough home life and I don’t want to add to that.”

“Ohh, a soft heart to go with the soft looks.” Hyungwon chuckled a little at that and, if Changkyun hadn’t known better, he would’ve said that there was a fond look on Hyungwon’s face.

Instead of commenting on that, however, Changkyun just shrugged “I’m… I’m a pacifist.”

Hyungwon and Jooheon shared that look again, like the one they had shared a handful of minutes ago, before full on laughing. Jooheon had to carefully balance himself as he sat on the arm of the sofa. Hyungwon almost bent over, arm covering his stomach.

“Kid, this is why you’re getting beat up.” Jooheon took a breather from his laughing, shaking his head as he grinned.

Changkyun pouted in response but he couldn't deny it. After all, it was true. His sworn pacifism had gotten him into more than a handful of trouble. More specifically, it had gotten him more than a handful of injuries .

The door behind Changkyun suddenly slammed open, jolting all three of them. Changkyun would've turned around to check what it was but, from the looks on Jooheon’s and Hyungwon’s faces, he didn't want to see.

“Who said you could leave your post, Hyungwon? I was just doing inventory and then I go check on you--” The oddly familiar voice yelled out at them, tone stern and angry, only to stop when Jooheon made a cutting gesture across his neck.

Changkyun still couldn't see who it was but didn't want to take any chances by turning around and looking. He sat still, pressing closely against the armchair he was in.

All Changkyun could think of was the fact that this must be the shift manager Jooheon and Hyungwon had mentioned.

Before anything else happened, a person stomped over and appeared before Changkyun, green apron matching both Jooheon’s and Hyungwon.

“Unhealthy seafood ramen boy?”

Changkyun blinked a couple of times before quickly realizing exactly who this person was “Kihyun-hyung?”

“You… you know each other?” Jooheon looked just as confused as Changkyun.

Hyungwon mimicked the expression but said nothing, looking back and forth between Changkyun and Kihyun.

“Yeah, hyung used to work during the morning shift before class and I’d stop by to get my lunch.” Changkyun confirmed, smiling almost softly at the thought “He even made me lunch once.”

“Of course I made you lunch, you can't just keep eating instant ramen, you idiot.” Kihyun crossed his arms, looking angrier by the second.

Hyungwon hummed, nodding “I've seen Changkyun come in and out of the store but I didn't know the two of you were so close.”

Jooheon agreed as well, nodding as his confused expression making way for a more dumbfounded one.

Kihyun, however, eventually got distracted from the current conversation “What the fuck happened to you?”

Changkyun didn’t know where to start so, instead, he shrugged “I got beat up.”

“By Kim Donghyun.” Jooheon added for Changkyun a-matter-of-factly as if the name would ring a bell to Kihyun.

Surprisingly enough, at least to Changkyun, it actually did strike a chord with Kihyun. There was an expression of realization on his face before it turned into one of annoyance.

“That fucking idiot is dead . He owes us a lot of money--” Kihyun ran his fingers through his pink hair in irritation, scowl only deepening, before his gaze landed back on Changkyun “Did he beat you up to steal your money?”

“The asshole beat Changkyun up because Changkyun’s smarter than him.” Hyungwon answered for Changkyun, expression obviously not at all amused at the thought.

Kihyun didn’t look amused either “Tell him he’s not allowed to buy from here ever again --”

“Wait, wait, no, don’t.” Changkyun quickly shook his head, free hand shooting out as if to physically stop Kihyun “It’s not that big of a deal.”

“Put some weight on your left leg first before you say that with a straight face.” Hyungwon shook his head, tone irritated and angry.

Jooheon only agreed with Hyungwon “I know you have a bleeding heart or whatever but, seriously? He would’ve beat you unconscious and left you for dead.”

Changkyun knew that. He honestly really knew that. He knew it like it was a fact of life. Donghyun was an asshole, the biggest asshole Changkyun could possibly ever encounter. However, he was a person too.

It was hard for Changkyun to be too tough on Donghyun when he knew that there was a reason Donghyun acted the way he acted.

“Yeah, yeah, you don’t have to tell me twice.” Changkyun relented, slumping in his seat as if disappointed by his sudden defeat.

Kihyun looked especially pleased at that before sighing “So, he broke your left leg?”

“Sprained. It doesn’t hurt that much.” Changkyun replied casually, waving off Kihyun’s concern.

“Alright. We have some bandages here and some braces. The best way to treat a sprain is some rest, ice compression and elevation.” Kihyun listed off the items with his fingers before pausing. Eventually, he sighed and left, leaving Changkyun confused.

Hyungwon saw this and chuckled “Don’t worry about him. He worries enough for everyone and himself.”

Changkyun hadn’t meant to ignore Hyungwon but his attention was elsewhere. In fact, the cogs in his mind were whirring as he continued to think about the conversation he just had.

“How come you guys just have first aid stuff lying around?” Was the first question that left Changkyun’s mind, eyes turning to Jooheon and Hyungwon. “I’m 100% sure you guys don’t sell it.”

“We… We sell first aid… things.” Jooheon answered all too quickly, something that only further confused Changkyun.

From Jooheon’s tone, he could tell that Jooheon was hiding something. He just honestly couldn’t tell what. He knew for a fact that it was the same tone he had used when he had talked about Kihyun, their shift manager.

Changkyun, for the life of him, couldn’t tell what Jooheon was hiding, though. Why would he lie about Kihyun? Why would he lie about first aid things? It didn’t make any sense.

Hyungwon seemed to see that something was going on with Changkyun so he added for Jooheon “Well, we used to, anyway. Nobody really bought them though so we just have the leftover stock lying around in the back.”

Changkyun nodded at that slowly before smiling softly at Hyungwon “I’ll pay for using them.”

Jooheon honestly looked relieved that the conversation had moved on “No, no, you’re not. It’s fine.”

“Really, it’s not fine. Don’t worry about it, okay?” Changkyun sounded determined like it was his way or the highway and, most of the time, it really was “You’ve done so much to help me that it’s really the least I can do for you guys.”

It was true. Not only had they taken in this kid that just got beat up right outside of their store for no reason but they were also giving him all of these supplies to help with all of the injuries he sustained. Not once did they even hesitate.

Hyungwon and Jooheon shared that look again before Hyungwon sighed “You’re the stubborn type, aren’t you, kid?”

Changkyun couldn’t help but grin at that, shrugging. “No, I’m not really stubborn … Just determined.”

Chapter Text

“Here, roll up your pant leg.”

Changkyun, of course, did as he was told, wincing a little as he moved his leg. It was easier to see how swollen and bruised Changkyun’s knee was now that there wasn’t any cloth to cover it. In fact, it looked pretty bad.

Kihyun prepared the brace, taking it out of its packaging and unstrapping a few things on it. It looked like a cloth tube with velcro and a hole. Though Changkyun had his fair share of injuries, it was his first time seeing a knee brace.

“Oh, you should take off your shoe too.” Kihyun added, gesturing to the shoe with the brace still in his hand.

Changkyun followed that order too, simply kicking off his shoe easily enough. That also hurt and, now that his shoe was off, he could also see how bruised and swollen his ankle had gotten. It looked worse than his knee which was, obviously, concerning.

“Okay, we’ll slide this brace up and then we’ll secure it around your knee.” Kihyun slipped the brace up and did just as he said he would. He then strapped a few things together, tightening the brace to an uncomfortable degree.

Changkyun definitely didn’t like it “Isn’t-- Isn’t that too tight?”

“It’s tight enough. I’m sorry if it hurts.” Kihyun looked at Changkyun almost worriedly before placing an ice pack right over the hole that his knee peeked out of.

Changkyun appreciated the ice pack but wished he didn’t need the brace.

“Here’s the ankle brace.” Jooheon handed Kihyun a flimsy thing. It was like two pieces of plastic with straps and things on it. It matched the color of his knee brace which was a nice pleasant blue.

Kihyun simply placed the two plastic parts on either side of Changkyun’s ankle before asking Hyungwon to strap it tight.

Like the knee brace, Changkyun found that unpleasant and downright uncomfortable. He hissed a little, scowl obvious on his face.

“Sorry, sorry.” Hyungwon moved to unstrap it so that it wasn’t so tight but Kihyun stopped Hyungwon before he could.

“It should be that tight or else it’s not compressing anything.” Kihyun clarified, stern expression and small frown making a rather scary look.

Hyungwon looked conflicted but slowly nodded as if he knew Kihyun was the more knowledgeable between the two of them.

At least Jooheon placed an ice pack there. Though it wasn’t as cold because of the brace, the chill still eventually seeped through.

“We have a spare bed upstairs, right?” Kihyun turned to Jooheon, his face softening a little so that it wasn’t as intimidating.

Jooheon had to pause for a second before slowly nodding “Yeah, we have a free bed. It’s the one in my room with Hyungwon.”

Changkyun quickly shook his head, eyes slightly wide “Wait, no--”

“You’re in no position to move anywhere.” Kihyun stopped the protest immediately, hand gesturing to Changkyun’s obviously injured leg “We’re not letting you leave here.”

Obviously, Changkyun had no argument against that. They were right, he would have to walk rather far to get home and walking home in this condition would’ve been stupid.

“Can’t you just… give me a ride?” Changkyun fumbled for words, mouth stretching into a tight line as he fretted over the hospitality he was being given.

Kihyun disagreed with the suggestion, though “Then what? Who’ll take care of you at home?”

“Me. I’ll take care of myself.” Changkyun countered fast enough but the argument sounded bad even to him. He couldn’t take care of himself if he could barely even walk properly. He didn’t live with anyone else either so there wasn’t anyone waiting for him at home to help him take care of himself.

He cursed Dongyun for putting him in such a terrible situation.

“I guess it’s settled.” Kihyun was pleased by the fact that everything went his way “You’ll sleep here and rest here. Tomorrow is Friday but you can miss one day of class, right?”

Changkyun pouted but nodded in agreement. All of his classes were way too easy for him anyway and, if he missed a class, it wouldn’t matter. He could catch up quickly and with ease.

“Wait, if tomorrow is a school day… What the hell are you doing out?” Hyungwon gave Changkyun an extremely confused expression to which Changkyun could only shrug.

“I tutor people at school.” Was his simple answer. It wasn’t exactly the complete truth but it was close enough that most people believed it.

Kihyun, apparently, was not most people. He raised an eyebrow at that before shaking his head “Yeah, right, tutor people until eleven? At night? Are you kidding me?”

“Our high school has night classes, okay. It's for the kids that get in trouble a lot.” Changkyun quickly countered, adding more truth to his little lie to make it more believable “I help them understand their lessons.”

“Oh, yeah, I heard of that.” Jooheon backed Changkyun up which relieved Changkyun just a little bit.

The truth was that he did homework for the night class kids. They paid a good enough sum for Changkyun to do their work for them. It was simple; their handwriting was so sloppy that it was easy to copy and the work they were given was basically like common sense to Changkyun.

Getting a decent sum for scribbling things onto a piece of paper was like a dream job. In fact, it was a lucrative business.

Changkyun didn’t understand why these kids still wanted to attend school so badly that they’re willing to give away good money for homework. If they were in so much trouble that they were attending the night classes, wasn’t already too late for them?

He wasn’t going to complain, though. He got money and it was straightforward.

“Hmm, whatever. You shouldn't stay out so late. You should get decent sleep.” Kihyun seemed convinced enough but still looked rather concerned.

For the second time that day, the door to the workroom burst open and, like before, Changkyun couldn’t see who it was.

Whoever it was, they sounded frantic “Okay, I don’t know why you guys congregated here--”

Jooheon did the same thing he did with Kihyun where he made a cutting gesture over his neck as if to stop whoever was talking.

“That doesn’t matter.” The stranger sounded even more exasperated “Shownu-hyung and Wonho-hyung are back and they’re not happy I was the only one in the front.”

“Oh.” From the look on Kihyun’s face, the situation wasn’t good.

Changkyun didn’t know who Shownu was or who Wonho was but, whoever they were, they seemed to be important enough.

His first guess was that they were the owners of the convenience store. After all, why else would they be angry that everyone was in the workroom and not in the front part of the store?

Hyungwon glanced at Changkyun, worry obvious in his expression, and Changkyun couldn’t help but frown “I’m sorry.”

“Hey, no, don’t apologise. Both of our… bosses are very nice and they’ll understand if we explain it.” Kihyun waved the apology away for Hyungwon before walking over to the door.

He then paused before glancing back “Hyungwon, you stay with Changkyun and make sure he rests. Jooheon, come with me since you were the one who saw what happened with Changkyun.”

The nervous expression on Jooheon’s face definitely made Changkyun worried. However, he was slightly placated by the reassuring smile on Hyungwon’s face.

It was just a job. Changkyun was sure that it was illegal for anyone to be fired for helping someone else. If they lost their job over Changkyun, he would try to make it up to them but, really he didn’t know how. It was possible though.

It wasn’t as if this was a life or death situation. Everything would be fine.